Autumn Penance by Sayuri Ayers

Autumn Penance

…if I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes….
--James Taylor (That Lonesome Road)
Pudding Magazine #65

My truck jostles down the rutted road.
I drag a cigarette deep into the threshold
of my chest as Prairie Home Companion ebbs in and out
of radio static. At twilight, countryside takes on
an animal tone, razorback curves, red-eyed moon prowls
along aged orchards, puckered apples, fumes of fermented ground.
Decades ago my father’s orchards spread out like a lady’s fingers

Sweatshop by David Radavich

Pudding Magazine #60

There’s no bottom
to the depths
of the body,

no lower
one can go

except perhaps
to China and then

upside down
working all day

and night
in the factory

blue shapes.

Hands move
as dead weapons,

eyes into
their sockets.

I know the untold
lies and love

that’s put
on hold until

sky aches
under the hungry stars.

Splitting Up the Books by Joanna Schroeder

Splitting Up the Books
Pudding Magazine #60

When the marriage is over,
no one wants Jane Austen.

Happy endings taped up
in a cardboard box

to be given away
to others, sight unseen.

When a marriage is over
the poetry books are cold

leftovers, no one wants to claim
as read or to be read

on summer bed sheets.
O love, be fed with apples while you may.

When a marriage is over
it seems frivolous to fight

over comic books. Small
paneled stories of right

and wrong, with easy villains.
Even the good guys wear masks.

When a marriage is over

When We Sought Justice by Steve Abbott

When We Sought Justice
Pudding Magazine #60

We were certain of two things.
The first was that we'd be beaten.
We knew there would be truncheons and gas
and lacerating editorials, shotguns and
pious lectures on propriety, the hand wringing
of parents and teachers and friends.
We knew we would be driven to our knees
with plastic ties binding our wrists
in paddy wagons, cells and courtrooms.
We didn’t want to know that some would die.

We knew we would limp beneath dark
thunderheads of bruises in places
cameras couldn’t see, leaving
no doubt that it would happen again

Cronkite’s Nightmare by C.S. Fuqua

Cronkite’s Nightmare
Pudding Magazine #60

Earplug’s snug, lipstick’s smeared.
Cued, she cranks the smile to glisten.
Another plane down,
an IED dicing another convoy,
some suicidal zealot detonating--
each clip another twenty seconds
of head shakes and tsks.
It’s all tragedy, really--
a travesty every one--
until the next one
and the ratings come in.

New Year’s Day by David Chorlton

New Year’s Day
Pudding Magazine #60

In the amber light
late afternoon
along the interstate
when desert mountains
are a warm shade
of rock ebbing
toward each horizon
a side road arcs
between mobile homes
with nowhere to go
and a few houses
barely anchored
to the ground
existing in a world
within the one
pursuing happiness
or whatever
comes close in the year
just beginning
a flat world where people
fall off the edges
windows are shuttered
and doors open only
to let in the wind
while traffic passes
in two directions
with one mind
seventy miles an hour

James Meredith March, 1966 by Connemara Wadsworth

James Meredith March, 1966
Pudding Magazine #60

What was the sound
of the tear gas canisters
the cops fired as they stood
upwind in Canton, Mississippi?

Run, my breath short, jump
a fence, and fall. I come to
still choking in the cool grass.
rinse my face at a garden hose.

How we circle the streets
singing ourselves back
to our purpose, doors open,
people call us in for food, beds.

Next to me a woman, curls
into her bruised body, whimpers
in her sleep, while over and over,
like something caught,

trying to free itself, I replay

A Room Built With Smallness by Meg Eden

A Room Built With Smallness
Pudding Magazine #60

When Aya holds the cat, she wraps it up
the way most girls would cradle baby dolls.
She lays it on her lap, her arms look thin—
too small for nurturing another frame.

The cat gives no complaints, but it obeys
her infant hands that grip and scold the way
that her own mother brought her soft reproach:
You’re not a doll, don’t climb into the windows.
You drink your milk—don’t spill it on our feet.

She wears the look of mother-fear, the care
of carrying. Her mother bears it still!
That even infant girls are built to heal—

This Poem by Eric Blanchard

This Poem
Pudding Magazine #59

This poem is not about letting go.
It is not about climbing green mountains
or diving into the blue. It is
not about you. This poem
is about kneeling down
to pet a dying dog’s belly,
to comfort a loyal friend
in her final hour. It is
about celebrating life
and drinking the wine.
This poem is neither happy
nor secretly sad. It is not
indifferent or unchanging.
This poem is not. It is.

Zeno in Keweenaw by Susana H Case

Zeno in Keweenaw
Pudding Magazine #59

Every day, before he reaches the mine,
he must get halfway up the road.
Before he can get halfway, he must move a quarter,
an eighth of a mile. And so on—this intimate
number of steps—movement’s an illusion.
It’s a dead-end trail,
the toil angling ahead of him into dark.

It’s a metaphysics problem, how to reach
the thick of it. Zeno behavior: he’s always
going toward the halfway stage though he wants
to keep his job, is adept at shafts.

He believes in paradox, is astute.
But, he’s tired; it’s hard to lift each foot.

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The Schuylkill Valley Journal publishes poetry, short stories and critical essays. Both the SVJ and SVJ LIT come out twice a year, in the spring and in the fall.
Schuylkill Valley Journal

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