the rotary dial

best new poetry in form

Weeds are not supposed to grow
but by degrees
some achieve a flower, although
no one sees.

From the March Issue

JEAN L. KREILING

Pioneer

(for Susan)


She was the first to walk and talk, to fall
and get back up. First-born and born to lead,
she knew her way when she could barely crawl;
she taught our mom to mother, me to read.
We younger siblings watched her carefully:
from her we learned to kiss the dog, to play
Go Fish and Spit; years later, it was she
who baked for Dad and ordered the bouquet
for Mother’s Day. In time we chose our own
frontiers to face instead of those she breached,
but none of us got where we are alone,
and she blazed crucial trails. This year I reached
an age she never did, and yet it’s clear
that much of her lives on, and led me here.

 

Jean L. Kreiling’s first collection of poems, The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books), was published in 2014. Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals, and she is a past winner of a New England Poetry Club Award, the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Sonnet Contest, the String Poet Prize, and the Able Muse Write Prize.

From the February Issue

NICOLE CARUSO GARCIA

I Never Fell in Love with You


To fall in love implies a lack of choice,
As if I were cartoonish, maladroit—
And love, an open manhole to avoid.

To fall suggests a kind of loftiness,
That I began in some exalted place
And not the aerie of my loneliness.

To fall like rain, or tears, or mercury,
A pawn of Cupid or of gravity.
No. With my grappling hook, I climbed precisely.

To fall—kerplunk—is stumbling, imperfection.
No, I would brave the hot tar of rejection
To wear the ermine cloak of your affection.

I built a trebuchet and aimed to sail
Beyond your moat, over your castle wall.
I launched, I soared in love; I did not fall.

 

Nicole Caruso Garcia’s poems appear in Measure, Mezzo Cammin, The Raintown Review and more, as well as the anthology Mother is a Verb. She is a past winner of the Willow Review Award. Residing in Connecticut, she teaches Poetry and Creative Writing at Trumbull High School. She is Assistant Poetry Editor of Able Muse.

From the January Issue

GAIL WHITE

The Note on the Dresser


Against the dusk the herons fly
in their usual perfect pattern.
When did the beauty who was I
become the present dreary slattern?

I've done the errands for today
but there is more I might be learning.
If in the dark I lose my way,
do not despair of my returning.

 

Gail White has appeared in several previous issues of The Rotary Dial. She is a regular contributor to formalist poetry journals and has twice won the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award. Her latest chapbook, Catechism, is now available on Amazon.

From the November Issue

CLAUDIA GARY

Paintbox


Arranged in a spectral ladder,
flanked by a sable brush,
eight color tablets on a blending platter
invite me in to wash

the tedium from a plain day,
infuse it with a hue.
I lift the mixture up and let it play
where paper leads it through

a hall of crooked mirrors,
a capillary chute
to rinse an image free of any errors
adhering to its root.

You bloom out of the pallor.
My brush comes to a rest.
The page now filled with unimagined color,
I am its grateful guest.

 

A three-time finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, most recently in 2015, and a 2013 semifinalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, Claudia Gary is author of Humor Me (David Robert Books 2006) and several chapbooks, including Bikini Buyer's Remorse. Her poems appear in journals internationally and in anthologies such as Forgetting Home (Barefoot Muse 2013) and Villanelles (Everyman Press 2012). Claudia's tonal chamber music and art songs have been performed at venues from New York to Colorado, and several have been published in Sparrow, Upstart, and Angle Poetry Journal. Her articles on health appear in The VVA Veteran and elsewhere.

Twitter: @claudiagary
Web: http://www.pw.org/content/claudia_gary

 

 

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From the October Issue

JAMES MILLER

Sunny Day


And as the sand became a path I knew
from years before, and running children splashed
my past along the shore, I walked and grew
to who I was – the spreading smiles I passed
a tide that led me in the August sun.
And a new current called me out to swim
and let the waves tell me my day was done
as floating on my back I heard the hymn
of each wave washing off my wrinkled skin
to where with sea-born wings I would begin.

 

James Miller’s most recent publications have been in Time of Singing, The Dark Horse, and The Lyric.

 

 

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From the September Issue

CONOR KELLY

A World Elsewhere


When I shall read, and having read, put down that book
that tries to tell me how the world can co-exist
with my perception of it via Wittgenstein –
“The world is everything that is the case,” he wrote –

when I shall leave the town in which I work and live
and drive the well-lit streets at night in search of hope
or dreams or what the street lamps shine their beams upon
as I change gears outside the East Side Shopping Mall,

when I shall watch the atmospheric harvest moon
drift past the town hall clock and slowly disappear
behind a blood-dimmed cloud that fronts a blood-dimmed sky
where stars have yet to shine and show a world elsewhere,

then shall I find another world, a world in which
a feather fails to fall nor deigns to slowly drift
into a wood where migratory birds might chirp
the evanescence of an early evening,

then shall I find a wrecked abandoned wooden door
lopped and chopped and planed and stained and opening where
a few tall trees remain to let light filter through
and cast a dappled shadow on a dappled earth,

then shall I fail to find the child that I once was
who disappeared into the distances I passed
leaving behind abandoned shoes, abandoned trails.
The world is everything that is the case; or not.

 

Conor Kelly was born in Dublin, Ireland, and spent his adult life teaching in a school in the Dublin suburbs. In 2011, he retired to a small village in the Charente region of France to play boules, sample the local cuisine and run a twitter site, @poemtoday, dedicated to the short poem and a Tumblr site (poem-today) which publishes a classic or a contemporary poem on a daily basis. He has had poems printed in American, Mexican, British and Irish magazines.

 

 

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From the August Issue

BRIAN STANLEY

Album


In time the photographs might have acquired
the static pathos of another age
because it was. Not found on any page,
they yield to memory, condensed, rewired
to fit a single frame of Kodak black
and white. Here now the family on shore,
as nuclear as any speck of wrack
kept centripetal by its atom core:

a father planted like a Tudor king,
his frown just hinting at a camera lost;
a mother on a break from worrying,
proud of her legs but shy, her fine hair tossed;
one son still young enough to play the fool,
the other poised to enter boarding school;
a daughter out of sight behind the lens,
pressed into service to make cheap amends.

Her precious Instamatic saves the day
and Adriatic azure turns to grey.
Released, each figure spins towards decay.
Back then the French for snapshot was cliché.

 

Brian Stanley was born in Madrid and educated in French until high school. His poems have been longlisted for The Montreal International Poetry Prize (2011) and published in The Literary Review of Canada and Encore. He lives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

 

 

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From the July Issue

JAMES MCKEE

Urban Life


I’ve got all the nature I need, here in the city.
     Blocks of green speckle its grid where parks and zoos
Nestle like pets, cosseted and car-ad pretty,
While vermin and weeds, too close to us for pity,
     Adapt to every toxin we dare to use.


The one time I went, the Orchid Show was as hot
     And human-humid as the subway. I had to leave.
In its crowd, each splayed plant dangled from a pot
As if petaling just to please us, which it was not.
     Out where the traffic sang through the streets, I could breathe.


Crews plant trees now with a bark said to repel
     Pollution, which I call progress since whatever
Kills them is plainly killing us as well.
Down my block, saplings stand yoked between parallel
     Uprights, the better for breaking them to our weather.


I saw a hummingbird last week, which was weird:
     A hovering emerald, exotic even for Queens.
Something like joy rayed through me, only to disappear
Since wherever its wing-blur belonged, it wasn’t here.
     I try, but cannot not know what it meant. Means.

 

James McKee and his wife live in New York City, in a neighborhood where the 1% seldom go. A New Yorker by birth (and likely by death), he enjoys failing in his dogged attempts to keep pace with the unrelenting and impacted cultural onslaught of late-imperial Manhattan. After taking a degree in English & Philosophy, he held a number of ludicrously unsuitable jobs before spending over a decade as a teacher and administrator at a small special-needs high school. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Raintown Review, Saranac Review, The South Carolina Review, THINK, f(r)iction, The Worcester Review, The Lyric, and elsewhere. He currently works as a private tutor and spends his free time, when not writing or reading, traveling less than he would like and brooding more than he can help.

 

 

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From the June Issue

SIHAM KARAMI

Driving to the Cabin

To my brother


You and I encapsuled in a car
rushed through birches, firs, the wind and sky,
the cabin's road we'd gone down long before
we lost that pungent childhood density
where every breath of summer stretched an hour
of river rush and deerflies' lazy drone.
When were we last alone? A child no more,
I still saw you as mentor, cornerstone.
You told me to release myself, to lose
these weights around my feet, stop reading, dance
my body loose, get high – choose weed or booze.
Unbutton all the rules and seek romance.
I drank the river, threw my whole self in,
but while it flows, I can't find you again.

 

Siham Karami co-owns a technology recycling company and lives in Florida. Her poetry appears or will appear in The Comstock Review, Measure, Unsplendid, Möbius, String Poet, The Centrifugal Eye, Mezzo Cammin, Angle Poetry, Kin Poetry Journal, Wordgathering, Amsterdam Quarterly Review, Snakeskin, Raintown Review, The Lavender Review, Atavic Poetry, Innisfree Journal, and the anthology Irresistible Sonnets, among other places. She won a Laureates' Choice prize in the Maria W. Faust sonnet contest and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

 

 

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From the May Issue

C.B. ANDERSON

Nine/Eleven, Twenty-Four/Seven


The sky is blue, but only after dawn
has come to rouse the children. Clouds are gray
when called upon to save a thirsty lawn
from fatal desiccation. Not a day

goes by without a crew of bureaucrats
on hand to check the status of the sod.
The greenest grass exists in habitats
beyond the stratosphere.
                                          If I were God,

there’d be no Sunday – only Saturdays,
for recreation needs no day of rest –
and there would be no workday interphase
to water weekends down. Perhaps it’s best

that I am not the all-sufficient Master
who separates the morning from the gloam,
but would it be a terrible disaster
if now and then I felt I’d found a home?

Who knows. So here I am, again too much
the fussy planner, less inclined to do
than to consider. Patience is a crutch
for crippled minds that never follow through.

 

C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. His book of poems, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder, was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.

 

 

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From the April Issue

BRIAN STANLEY

Cruel


The crows of April come to caw
at winter's tailings.
You'd think their harsh, judgmental calls
would soften in the warming sun.
They don't.

The rains of April come to thaw
our frozen failings.
You'd hope we'd care more what befalls
the distant man, the drowning one.
We won't.

 

Brian Stanley was born in Madrid and educated in French until high school. His poems have been longlisted for The Montreal International Poetry Prize (2011) and published in The Literary Review of Canada and Encore. He lives in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

 

 

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From the March Issue

SUSAN MCLEAN

Miss Emily Dickinson to Sir Andrew Marvell


“The grave’s a fine and private place”—
on that, Sir, I agree—
yet assignations there—would comfort
neither you—nor me—

for You—a Hawk among the wrens—
with appetite—for Flesh—
disdain to dine with Vultures
if the Meat—be less than fresh—

while I—at Deprivation’s board—
such ample feasts have known—
that rest is all I crave—and I
prefer to sleep alone.

 

Susan McLean is a professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her first book of poetry, The Best Disguise, won the 2009 Richard Wilbur Award, and her second book, The Whetstone Misses the Knife, won the 2014 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. She has also published a 2006 poetry chapbook, Holding Patterns, and a collection of her verse translations of 503 Latin epigrams by Martial, Selected Epigrams (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the 2015 PEN Center USA Translation Award.

 

 

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From the February Issue

QUINCY R. LEHR

Greatest Moments in Cougar Porn


If every poem has to do with love,
    then every video
concerns a neighboring desire,
    and all you need to know
comes down to similarities – a pulse
    that flickers into life
in front of a computer screen
    next to a sleeping wife.

Play with the thought of what you think she wants,
    a sequence of what-if.
Pretend her moans mean that she cares.
    Pretend you're really stiff,
and swear that she looks almost jailbait young
    (beneath the sheets, dim lights)
and that it's twenty years ago
    in more expensive tights.

But maybe it's the fib that feels like love,
    the lube beside the bed,
the unshared past conveyed in hints,
    the dyed hair on the head,
the fantasy behind the fantasy,
    the just reward of youth
with only wrinkles around the eyes
    hinting at the truth.

 

Quincy R. Lehr's poems and criticism appear widely in North America, Europe, and Australia, and his most recent books are Heimat (2014) and The Dark Lord of the Tiki Bar (2015). He lives in Brooklyn, where he teaches history.

 

 

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From the December Issue

MARK MANSFIELD

The Last House on the Shore


There’s only one small room
upon its topmost floor,
the last house on the shore
out past the end of town.

From its white turret crown,
her small face peeks some days
to watch a sail or swan,
or ice stilling the Bay.

Mostly, its shades stay drawn
from year to passing year.
And what “folks say ‘round here”
much like the tourists’ stares

only comes so near
her room, since no one dares
to knock on her front door,
or likely even cares.

 

Mark Mansfield’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Bayou, Blue Mesa Review, The Evansville Review, Fourteen Hills, Iota, The Ledge, Magma, Orbis, Salt Hill, and Unsplendid. He holds an M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins. Currently, he lives in upstate New York where he teaches.

 

 

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From the November Issue

SIHAM KARAMI

Difficulty at the Beginning


A thought under my tongue, one size away
from fitting on my lips, now shies away.

Avoid approaching smiles and hide the bees
where silken wax seals all my lies away.

Just one more word, but make it wicked, dark,
for love your brightness terrifies away.

O demisemiquaver of a breath
between the lines this longing pries away...

Good morning, Killer Dream. I wish I never
heartwrecked on your stiff goodbyes. Away!

I drink the heady wormwood, let the spirits
lure me out to agonize a way.

To live one wingspan more or die one less.
What matters when you turn your eyes away?

I'll throw my whole self on your chopping block
and wait. Maybe we'll improvise a way.

Even walls must hold my striking point,
an arrowhead that never dies away.

 

Siham Karami lives in Florida. Recent work can or will be found in The Comstock Review, Measure, American Arts Quarterly, Unsplendid, The Ghazal Page, Mezzo Cammin, Atavic Poetry, Right Hand Pointing, Angle Poetry, String Poet, The Centrifugal Eye, Innisfree Journal, Raintown Review, The Lavender Review, Kin Poetry, and the anthologies Irresistible Sonnets, Poems for a Liminal Age, and The Best of eyedrum periodically, among other venues. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has won the Laureates' Prize in the Maria W. Faust International Sonnet Competition, and blogs at sihamkarami.wordpress.com.

 

 

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From the October Issue

MARCUS BALES

Stopping My Work on a Summer Evening


Whose pool this is my grandkids know.
They scream and shout and come and go
And splash about with swimming gear,
Their nut-brown skin wetly aglow.

Although some people say they hear
It all annoyingly too clear
For me that's just a benefit –
I love to have the children near.

The shrieks of joy the kids emit
Are well worth all the neighbors' shit;
"His grandkids screamed too loud at play":
I'll take that for a good obit.

Although the water's blue today
I smile, and work, off from the fray;
I've still got mortgages to pay,
I've still got mortgages to pay.

 

Not much is known about Marcus Bales except he lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio, and his poems have not appeared in Poetry or The New Yorker.

 

 

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From the September Issue

JEAN L. KREILING

The Sportscaster

for Bill


His commentary lacks the resonance
that more mature sportscasters can project,
but he knows all the stats, and has a sense
of how timing and drama intersect.
His observations are precise and clear,
if sometimes less than true: he leaves out how
the runner steals third oak, or has to veer
around a sagging sugar maple bough.
A hit to “right field” really lands next door;
the pitcher waves off cats, not catchers’ signs;
and games are called because of lunch. The score
reports no siblings, so he redefines
team spirit: makes the plays, and calls them, too,
all by himself – and wins by making do.

 

Jean L. Kreiling is the author of the recently published collection, The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books, 2014). Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals, including American Arts Quarterly, Angle, The Evansville Review, Measure, and Mezzo Cammin, and in several anthologies. Kreiling is a past winner of the String Poet Prize and the Able Muse Write Prize, and she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.

 

 

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From the August Issue

ANDREW PIDOUX

Homecoming


The garden’s quiet and furnished
With night’s upholstery.
The tree sleeps in its branches,
The branches in the tree.

It’s just as I remember it,
Before I caught the plane
Whose cockpit was this bedroom,
Whose runway was this lane.

When I closed these yellow books,
My adolescent eyes
Were caught between the pages
Like bloodless butterflies.

Now threadbare stairs go up to bed
Before me every night.
But I can’t sleep on pillows
That always dream of flight.

 

Andrew Pidoux is the author of Year of the Lion (Salt, 2010) and winner of an Eric Gregory Award from the UK’s Society of Authors. Recent poems of his have appeared in African American Review, Descant, and Punchnel’s, stories in Litro, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Stockholm Review of Literature, and comics in Forge, Star 82, and Wilderness House.

 

 

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From the July Issue

J.D. SMITH

At the United States Navy Memorial


The shattered man proclaims a cryptic cause.
So far he hasn’t broken any laws.
While pacing in a cloud of words and smell
The shattered man proclaims a cryptic cause
As tourists pass. One says “He isn’t well”
And doesn’t stop, for all he has to tell.
The shattered man proclaims a cryptic cause.
So far he hasn’t broken any laws.

 

J.D. Smith’s third collection, Labor Day at Venice Beach, was published in 2012. Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth, a humor collection including both poetry and prose, came out in March, 2013. He holds an M.A. from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

 

 

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From the June Issue

JOHNNY LONGFELLOW

Like Normal People Do


Ya’ ever wanna go someplace?
I mean...jus’ disappear.
Leave ev’rythin’. But, leave no trace.
Git your ass out o’ here
To somewhere – could be far or near –
Where you’re no longer you.
Where you can dwell, year after year,
Like normal people do.

Ya’ ever stare at your own face
But still can’t see it clear? –
Ya’ struggle hard jus’ keepin’ pace,
While neighbors, they all steer
‘Tween college, marriage, an’ career,
‘Til – somehow coastin’ through –
They barbeque, an’ drink col’ beer
Like normal people do...

Ya’ ever think they won that race,
But still, fall prey to fear
Them dreams ‘n’ rainbows they all chase,
Once gone, won’t reappear?
Or, do they jus’ choke back each tear
As one beer turns to two,
Findin’ it’s Hell to persevere
Like normal people do?

Ya’ see? You ain’t the first to veer
Off course. That much is true.
Or, last to lose all you hol’ dear
Like normal people do.

 

Johnny Longfellow is a U.S. poet. Previous publications include The Barefoot Muse, The Five Two, and Ppigpenn. The editor of the online street-poetry site, Midnight Lane Boutique, he has served for nearly two decades as a mentor to Newburyport, MA, high school students through the Poetry Soup reading program and print journal.

 

 

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