Polynesian Gardens |
by J.D. Blair

The Gardens consisted of eight small trailers squatting at random angles along the west bank of the Sacramento river as it made a shallow turn south, that’s where I entered the driveway. Pushed by a brisk breeze off the river the wooden archway over the entrance swayed and dust swirled in thick eddies around my feet, the breeze carried it onto the green water where it spread out against the lazy flow.

A decaying bar leaned slightly over the water, I entered and the bartender looked up to see who was interrupting the quiet of a summer afternoon, he took two quick swipes at the bar with his towel and managed a nod as I took a stool and asked for beer in a bottle, he said that’s all he had and reached into a small fridge, popped a cap and slid the drink smartly into my waiting palm. The breeze mixing it up with the afternoon heat eased through the bar in pungent waves of nettles, oak mold and marsh grass and the surroundings came at me in a rush as I took a deep draw on the sweating beer bottle.

I ordered another beer and asked the bartender if Lenore Tisdale still owned the Gardens, he said he owned the Gardens and that he bought the property from a couple from Yuba City, he didn’t know Lenore Tisdale but there were stories about the woman who had owned it before them.

“Supposedly she hanged herself in one of the trailers after she lost a baby but I don’t know if it was Lenore Tisdale, are you looking for this Lenore?”

“I knew her.”

The dismal beginnings of the Gardens were born in the fertile imagination of my mother Lenore, a runaway at the age of fourteen, she met Jack Tisdale, a misplaced merchant seaman and Jack didn't have many aspirations other than getting laid and Lenore never having been laid was willing. Together they took over the operation of the Gardens and Tisdale co-opted her dream, pulled himself out of a drunken stupor and breathed new life into the aging road stop and turned it into a tourist trap. In May of '79 Jack and Lenore stood under the palms at the entrance to the Gardens and flipped the switch to illuminate a neon sign on the archway. It buzzed awake and read, “Polyn ardens”.

The bartender pointed to a trailer shaded by the limbs of a huge oak tree, “That was hers. Supposedly that’s where she did it.”

“Mind if I have a look around.”

“It’s OK by me,” said the bartender. “You planning to stay the night?”

I shrugged and tossed four dollars on the bar.

The Gardens’ meager success lasted just five months by then Jack had fallen off the wagon and Lenore was pregnant with me. Tisdale disappeared one week after my sixth birthday and with Jack gone Lenore dropped any trappings of motherhood and more or less left the Gardens and me to the elements, she never physically left but went on destructive binges, drinking, bunking down with ranch hands who showed up at the Gardens and when men weren’t available I was her caretaker. I spent most days and nights fending for myself taking handouts from visitors and spending nights alone in the trailers. The day I turned sixteen I left, now after six years I returned to confront some heavily clouded memories.

“Aloha Spirit” was the name carved over the door of the coach, its tires flattened and mired in mud where the river had risen and undercut the soil. I looked in a window but couldn’t see much through the smudged glass. I opened the door and it slammed against the trailer’s side and held there. I entered and sat on the small bed taking in the bleakness and the intrusion of mould, a ground squirrel skittered from behind a small space heater and escaped through the open door. For a moment I thought I caught a hint of sweet smelling French cigarettes, she smoked the imported brand and I always hated the pretentiousness of it.

The trailer was the only home Lenore knew for all of her adult life and in the clutter she fabricated a semblance of normalcy, the sheepskin shag rug that I slept on for many nights was still there and faded flower print curtains were tacked up and held back by safety pins, yellowing water stained pictures cut from magazines hung unframed on the walls and along one rain streaked wall was a collection of snapshots, a gallery of visitors who spent time there during the Gardens short-lived success. There were pictures of the family, Tisdale on an inner tube in the river with a six-pack on his stomach, Lenore and Jack on a motorcycle, Lenore and Jack in front of the gardens and another with Lenore holding a baby, my name scrawled across the bottom, perhaps a reminder.

Murky memories of my tenuous love-hate relationship with my mother seeped up. I stretched out on the bed and closed my eyes to the bleakness of the trailer and the turbid cache of thoughts trailing back to the times when I was eleven years old and Lenore undressed me, cupped my buttocks in her hands and felt my young maleness strain against her. I unhooked my belt and slid a hand into my jeans as I called up the cloudy visions, the times we showered together and how her soap-slicked hands felt as they slid over me, pausing to tease. I recalled the
times she guided my boy hands to her breasts. I masturbated on the bed, her bed, the same bed where she had taken me into her mouth and where she led me into her moist, aromatic warmth. A gasp snapped me back to the grim dankness and I shuddered and whispered, “Mother”.

I gathered myself and scanned the trailer one more time burning it into memory. I took a tattered photograph out of my shirt pocket, a picture of a small boy six years old squatting in muddy water watching the river run, I tacked it into the ragged collage to become one more faded memory among all the other pictures of unknown visitors looking for a moment's peace at the Polynesian Gardens on the river.

As the sun dipped low over the water I left the trailer and made my way up the driveway. The breeze that blew hot earlier now carried a chill and I raised my collar against it. Past the entrance where the driveway met the road the crackle of neon stopped me. I turned to look and in the low light of dusk the sign flickered to life again, “Polyn ardens”.

J.D. Blair developed a 30-year career in journalism and television production as a Writer/Producer and was nominated twice for Emmys. Since 2000 he has been writing plays, short fiction, essays and poetry and has had publishing success in each genre.

You fold your arms the way this pasture |
by Simon Perchik

You fold your arms the way this pasture
gnaws on the wooden fence
left standing in water –make a raft

though it’s these rotting staves
side by side that set the Earth on fire
with smoke rising from the ponds

as emptiness and ice –you dead
are winter now, need more wood
to breathe and from a single finger

point, warmed with ashes and lips
no longer brittle –under you
a gate is opened for the cold

and though there’s no sea you drink
from your hands where all tears blacken
–you can see yourself in the flames.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review,
The Nation, Osiris, Poetry, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

Riddles |
by Ajise Vincent

If bulbous curves 
That propels born again hormones 
To gulp saliva in multiple successions 
Could solve the riddles of my heart 
Nkem, you would have been my goddess 

But the riddles of my heart 
are not of Eden-sized apples 
Neither are they urges for harems of Delilahs 
masquerading as virgin nuns

They are the cogitations of pure beauty 
devoid of frivolous mundanities 

They are demands of true character.

Nkem; name of a young lass

Ajise Vincent is an undergraduate of Economics at a prestigious university in Nigeria,who sees poetry as medium to express both the tranquillity and turmoil of the mind.He hopes to use poetry as a tool to impact morals and bring back the good old days of propriety. He is also a contributor to various print and online magazines.

Kanye, Best |
by Morgan Louis Graham

You're spitting flow
So future
It's already extinct,
With an ego so big
You might as well be a shrink
Telling me
Why why why,
Like a baby
Or a congressman lying to himself
At an airport bathroom.

Morgan Louis Graham has had sporadic works published since age 10. He is an observer among the many in New York City and gets by on trips to the museum and listening to NPR. Originally from Kansas, he gets his grit from being an outcast to a universe which he’s always belonged.

My Drug Dealer's Girlfriend |
by Kevin Ridgeway

several days after he beat 
the marijuana smoke out 
of me, I looked into her 
bruised eyes over a grilled
cheese we split at Clifton's
downtown and agreed to
let her borrow money for
a Greyhound ticket.

we had been flirtatious
behind his back.  she 
revealed her bra to me in 
paparazzi flashes when she 
got drunk, and I showed her 
my man tits and she helped 
me try the bra on, which made 
him wonder what we were 
both laughing at.

weeks later, I received a 
postcard she had filled out
in sloppy cursive from her
grandmother's house in
Lincoln, Nebraska.  she
said she'd miss me and 
asked for the name of a 
Neil Young album I always 
played for her, having left a
kiss made of crimson lipstick 
in the margin underneath 
my misspelled name.

I stayed behind in that drug 
den the three of us inhabited:
just me and Neil wailing from
the grooves of that old vinyl 
record, trapped there with our
lonely boy choir of a heartbreaking 
song on parallel roads bound for 
the same no where.

Kevin Ridgeway is from Southern California, where he lives and writes.  Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Chiron Review, Re)verb, LUMMOX, San Pedro River Review, the Chaffey Review, Right Hand Pointing, Bicycle Review. American Mustard and The Mas Tequila Review.  His latest chapbooks are On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press, 2014) and Riding Off Into That Strange Technicolor Sunset (Weekly Weird Monthly, 2015).

sun found |
by Jonathan Dick

my madness drips from my eyes,
and they were lost on many shattering moments
where life is not, beautiful silence
breaking glasses of past, lives are triumphant
but silence is needed when one strives to perceive, the past
lives magnificent opulence, look closely 
you war lords and gentle people, broken
look closely at the shattered, sunlit glass
in broken shards splattered upon floors, of time
and to time seeing the beauty, here is a man 
who believes in the broken glass and the suffering
here is a man whose painted life-glass 
glints in the shattered sunlight and all anyone can loudly 
whisper is: “my god, someone broke 
the glass, where’s the broom?”

Jonathan Dick is a 21 year old human being from Toronto, Canada. He is graduating this year from Huron University College with a major in English Language and Literature. This May he will be published for his first time in The Write Place at the Write Time. In the summer, Jonathan will be travelling with his beautiful girlfriend across Europe, as they dream the dreams they had forgotten.