Issue 12.1

Issue 12.1

Welcome to forgejournal.com, the online iteration of Forge.

Nunc lego qui nunc scribunt – I read now those who write now

-Robert of Cricklade

Welcome to the July issue of Forge! Our cover art this month is ‘Roku Jizo,’ painted by Ato Sengai and gifted to our own Tim McLaffertry (kindly photographed by John Meyers). We hope you feel some of the peace it symbolises as you enjoy the stories and poems of this issue!

If you want a copy of this issue for your very own, check back here soon for details on how to order. Meanwhile, enjoy!

~Melissa Venables

Uber-editor, Forge 12.1

Forge is an independent endeavor. We do not receive money from any institutional patrons – we are completely reader supported. If you enjoy what you find here, consider buying a hard copy of a journal issue, or submitting a donation by clicking on the button below. Thanks!

Drop on by!

Bring a friend!

See what’s new!


CONTENTS

—Prose—

John Allison: Aunt Josey’s Stuff

Rachel Chalmers: Deepwater

Stacia Levy: Three Methods to Save Your Life, Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

Steven Masterson: Diane

William McGrath: Second Death

—Poetry—

Mark Belair: Fireworks | Burials | Breakups | ice | Summer Radiator | Come Silence | Sunset | The Wedding Picture | Umbrellas at Night | market | Early Spring | Disturbances

Simon Perchik: 12 Selected Poems — Summer 2018

Sarah Wetzel: Solace

Breakups

By Mark Belair

A brown paper bag on the sidewalk
hard by a fence held shoes—it was

torn, you could see into it—and by
the next day the tear had opened to

disclose that they were the shoes
of a man and a woman, the day

following’s development that some
of the sounder castoffs were missing;

then a sudden, lashing, overnight rain
blew the bag away, only wet scraps

left around the hopeless entanglement,
laces loose and drooping, heels snapped

off, soles worn on one side
or cracked.

*

Two loose sunglass lenses
lie face down—you could

rock them with your toe—
staring at nothing

but cement
while their trashed frames,

struck blind,
face the sun.
 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

ice

By Mark Belair

in the new england winters of my boyhood / ponds froze in the fall / and their surfaces stayed hockey-hard / until the january thaw

then their edges softened for a week and reformed / a foreshadowing we soon forgot / in the clash of pucks and sticks

but come spring / damp ice would drench our dungarees when we fell / then one day it was suddenly done / the season over / the pond edges mush

and we’d stand there / not resentful / for it was always a good / long season / nor eager / as swimming in the pond seemed eons away

no / we’d just hold blank stares / as we shifted our weight / and hefted our sticks / our wool sweaters a little warm / the pond safe to walk on / but no good for our sport

each of us / side by side / silently mesmerized / by this still / watery / moment
 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

Summer Radiator

By Mark Belair

The cloud-softened summer sun
bathes an old black radiator, one
cool to the touch, its heat
on hiatus, each
arched, filigreed radiant
in the round-shouldered attention
of choristers in a cast-iron choir, a choir
holding silent
until fall, one night, arrives
with the chill
of a strict choirmaster
to conduct its conduction
back to blasting, soul-warming life.

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

Come Silence

By Mark Belair

The caption said the dead man
had been trampled in a crowd.

One boot was gone
and his long-sleeve checkered shirt was torn.

Had he worn his boots and long-sleeve shirt
in case it might turn cold?

Or had he felt, that morning,
rain coming on?

*

The oxygen machine pumped
as it had for months

until his daughter, who an hour before
helped him bear dying—

It’s all right to let go, she whispered, crying,
You’ve done your job

heard it working and—its duty done—
snapped it off.

Then a hard silence
fell, one

that widened
the one her father,

still in bed,
already inhabited.

*

Being here, alone
with the rain

tapping the roof shingles
and streaking the windowpanes

despite your death,
I remember

you once said
this

was what
you believed in.

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

Sunset

By Mark Belair

The sun, already
set behind our mountain,
casts us into shadow while keeping
the mountain across the valley in daylight,

the evening we now
inhabit made to seem a past
concurrent with a luminous present
beyond which yet higher mountains rise

in a bright, if
hazy, future, this snapshot of
all time as one time an impression
we savor until the sun, as it must, fully sets.

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

The Wedding Picture

By Mark Belair

Back in the 1940’s, the name big bands—the Glenn Miller, the Benny Goodman,
the Dorsey Brothers—all played the covered Pier at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

From the beach, strolling arm-in-arm with my father, my mother said she could
see the nighttime pier, strung with lights, swaying from the jitterbugging bobbysoxers.

Then again, she
was in teenage love.

My teenage father first noticed my mother in St. Ignatius Church when she
looked up the aisle he was coming down and he saw those big brown eyes.

Soft, needy eyes that made him—harnessed by the early loss of his father
and early care for his fragile, melancholy mother—feel released inside.

For what those lost eyes seemed to long for, he knew, from experience,
he could provide.

In one wedding picture, they stroll, arm-in-arm, as newlyweds, up that very
church aisle, and if you enter the picture you can almost smell the flowers,

but also salt air; can hear the recessional organ music, but also
the breaking ocean, the distant swing band, the creaking pier.

This black-and-white photo—crumpled, creased, scratched, torn—that
encodes the remedial, dangerous, black-and-white love of the young.

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

Umbrellas at Night

By Mark Belair

From this high window, the dark ribs
of a fruit man’s overlapping umbrellas

below—tan fabric aglow—curve
exposed, his patrons, as they move

in and out of the spotlit shelters,
silhouetted on the taut canvases,

the fruit man the center of a shadow play,
the figures expanding and shrinking across

the umbrellas like voices lowered and raised,
shifting shapes you could use to dream up

any number of dramas, even after
the patrons fall to infrequent and

the fruit man’s shadow, through the night,
grows still on a stool.

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

market

By mark belair

going to “market” / the unguarded / refrigerated warehouse to which we delivered our hosed-down crates of vegetables / was the highlight of our farm boys’ week

we’d load the rusty pickup / climb in on top / then watch our hot / stripped / briefly abandoned fields recede into prettiness

upon arriving / the truck would back up until it clunked the delivery bay / knocking us enjoyably about / then we’d roll up the metal door to market’s inner darkness

market smelled of chilled fruit and vegetables more exotic than our own scallions / squash / and tomatoes / lush produce we plundered from cool / stacked crates as

i / wanting to please my mother / worked from a list that she / in her innocence / routinely gave me / as i’d told her it was an old farmers’ tradition for all to help themselves

not that anything was missed / the bulging crates all headed to restaurants and grocery stores / while my buddies and i each filled a mere brown-bag’s worth

but my petty thievery nevertheless nagged at me when i’d bite an apple / peel a mango / crack a coconut or / worse / watch my

whole unsuspecting family relish my misbegotten goods / their pleasure sending squirts of catholic sourness through my unfolding soul

then one day i overheard my mother / on the phone / telling a friend about market / including how i thought the pilfering i did was permitted / and isn’t that sweet

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

Early Spring

By Mark Belair

Snowfall
this enchanting

falls from clouds,
it seems, dissolving

then reforming:
heaven

held
earthbound.

*

Their southern slants
bared of snow

while their northern slopes
hold white,

these gentle hills
roll perfectly

poised
between seasons—

still
change itself.

*

With the spring-fed lake
spring-cleaned

of algae, bright
schools of minnows

appear above dark predators—
so clear is this water—predators

who break surface
when they must, the spared

minnows scattering and re-gathering
as they must,

the lake water
restoring,

as it must, to deep
calm.

 

——————–

Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com