November 13-19, 2023: Poetry from Shelly Holder and Frank Freeman

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Shelly Holder

Shelly Holder is a 2023-2024 participant in The Poetry Collective at Lighthouse Writers, where she is working on her first manuscript, Naming the Marrow. She is a poetry bookclub host, generative workshop facilitator, and chapter lead of Women Who Submit for the San Gabriel Valley, an organization working to promote the publication of women and women identifying writers, especially in top tier literary journals. Her work has published in journals such as Ponder Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Gyroscope Review, among others. In non-poetry life, she’s in the midst of an A.S. in Library Sciences while trying keep houseplants alive and caffeine addiction to a minimum. Visit Shelly on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Shelly Holder and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Searching the Sky for Evidence of Rain

Because I don’t know if grey is technically a color
Because I never think through my thunder
Because I hung up my grandmother’s wind-chime
Because I have my father’s tempests

Because El Niño visits us here like a real boy
Because we forget & don’t name his sister
Because the weatherman too never gets it right

But mostly because I haven’t bridled the storm
get its clouds to bridal-carry me above the known


After Finally Getting the Peace and Quiet Needed to Write

Gimme a car alarm. Or another thumping argument from upstairs followed by thumping sex. Maybe a pool party with fifteen sugared up toddlers. I’ll even take a bill collector’s phone call or another angry Slack message from my boss. Perhaps some new pseudo-celebrity breakup? I need the Instagram posts, Facebook notifications, trending TikTok videos, pop-up ads, 24-hours-only department store sales, Disney princess personality quizzes, chain emails telling me I’m cursed to die if I don’t forward to ninety-nine people. Yes, anything other than what I ought to be doing. Sudden onset narcolepsy? Unexplainable new allergy to paper and/or ink? Hard-drive malfunction, complete electrical blackout—whatever it takes. Please, oh please, don’t make me face this terrible blank page.

Frank Freeman

Frank Freeman’s poetry has been most recently published in Grey Sparrow Journal, Rat’s Ass Review, San Pedro River Review, Sequoia Speaks, The Decadent Review, The Opiate, The Raven Review, Verdad, and is forthcoming in Main Street Rag. His book reviews, essays, and stories have appeared in many venues. He grew up in Texas, Connecticut, and California, moved to Boston for grad school, married a Maine woman who wanted Maine back. House, kids, dog, chickens, bees, small family business. Writes in the mornings to stay sane, keeps family business books in afternoons.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Frank Freeman and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

the swallowing noise

that some of the older people in my extended family
make, the same sound my older dog makes when he curls
up in the alcove, only he doesn’t go on as long
as the humans, drives me bat shit crazy,
I wonder why. it’s especially irritating
when everything else is quiet and all you
hear is this swallowing noise but they’re not
eating anything. it’s sort of like a periodic gulp or
a smacking sound and I think why do they keep
doing that, don’t they hear themselves, what
the hell is the matter with them, they’re driving me
bat shit crazy. but then I wonder if I do the same
or something different but equally irritating. can’t
think of anything. well, whatever,
I guess we’ll all have to live together. but it
reminds me that Tolstoy wrote of these things,
how the flesh bothers the spirit, or is it
that their flesh bothers our flesh? old man
Volkonsky I think it was, something he did
irritated the hell out of his son or daughter or both,
some tic or something. and they both felt
guilty, as I do too, for the rage building up
inside at these little things, these tics and
swallowing noises, but you can’t deny the
rage, it’s there and it ain’t going away. but
finally you sigh and try to forget about it,
you tire of even the rage, though it flares up
now and then. I guess we’ll all have to live
together. bear with one another. and maybe
go outside once in a while alone and gaze
up at the stars who always stay absolutely

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