Walking Liberty by Lew Forester

Walking Liberty
Pudding Magazine #59

I’m a wheat penny, a mercury
dime, a walking liberty half
with less luster than I once had,
flows of hair half erased
by too much circulation,
too many fingers of commerce.
My date becomes obvious
even as it fades from sight,
In God We Trust now a faint halo
above a disappearing face.

When I was newly minted
the whole was more beautiful
in its gleaming fractions—
wishes winking in a fountain,
coins eagerly pressed
into the palm of the ice cream man.
Now I’m cyber digits
banked toward a graying future.

Overheard in Cincinnati, Ohio by Andrea Scarpino

Overheard in Cincinnati, Ohio
Pudding Magazine #59

My daughter says she doesn’t want kids.
She’s 30. She has cats. Let me tell you,
hell is real. It’s like pulling a camel
through your nose, cutting through,
cutting through. If I had to work
the whole weekend, I’d slit my throat.
Isn’t it awesome how much love
the universe contains? I’m going
to tell you a story about the toughness
of the serpent. I’m going to dangle you
from the rearview mirror. I promise,
we’re like brother and sister,
There are things that just are, you know?

Clearing by Marzelle Robertson

Clearing
Pudding Magazine #59

I didn’t expect to arrive to see a dozer
straining against the great tree. If instead
a woman had been pushed from the roof
of a ten-story building, her hair
would have lifted and flown above her just like
the long dark needles of pine that sprang up
as if grasping for receding sky
that a moment ago was fixed in place,
and her arms would have flailed, attempting
to tread the air while she sank
just like the broad limbs that swayed
helplessly up and down. Her sleeves,
her skirts, would have flapped

Mine Trail by David Chorlton

Mine Trail
Pudding Magazine #59

A stony trail leads from the road
where a coati printed its tracks in the dirt
over those of a deer

to an abandoned mine
with tailings piled at the mouth
and a history of echoes

winding into darkness
that runs its silky course
through layers of rock

to the vein of silence
that never loosened even
when the miners drilled

into the mountain until it hurt
and came back to a light
too bright for them to see

the sparrows bouncing in the grass.

The Gift by Sean Lause

The Gift
Pudding Magazine #59

The day my mother dropped a net
of oranges on the kitchen table
and the net broke and the oranges
rolled and we snatched them,
my brother and I,
peeled back the skin and bit deep
to make the juice explode with our laughter,
and my father spun one orange in his palm
and said quietly, “This was Christmas, 1938,”
and he said it without bitterness or anger,
just observing his life
from far away, this tiny world
cupped in one palm.
I learned I had no way
to comprehend an orange.

When I Heard Elvis Sing Blue Moon by James Babbs

When I Heard Elvis Sing Blue Moon
Pudding Magazine #58

When I heard Elvis sing Blue Moon
I was sitting in the basement
alone
feeling lonely on a Sunday afternoon
more than thirty years after he died
1977 and I remember
I was staying at
my uncle’s house in Kentucky
on vacation with my family
we watched it on the news that night
I was twelve years old and
it didn’t mean that much to me
I knew who he was
knew some of the songs he sang
but there weren’t any feelings
not like the women they showed
who stood outside of Graceland crying
and now after all this time

Photographs by Jerry Judge

Photographs
Pudding Magazine #58

I hate the bright sun.
I hate the light deepening the sadness.

I hate the grief I can’t heal
spreading through the families.

I hate seeing the soldiers coming home
in boxes that now can be photographed

The Bee by Robert Riche

The Bee
Pudding Magazine #58

The bee stings and flies
away to his grave,
leaving behind a stiletto
with a tiny flag hanging
off the end. You don't see it,
but it's there, ripped
from his abdomen when
the stinger won't shake loose.
(Read about it in the Encyclopedia
of Bees). I doubt if he knows
the consequences of his aggression,
but what soldier in the service
of whatever cause can ever
be sure the sting he inflicts
won't bring down his flag
and spread his innards, too,
across the ground.

Factoids by Laurel Feigenbaum

Factoids
Pudding Magazine #58

Before the age of man and machines,
conspicuous consumption,
built in obsolescence and high-tech,
people and things evolved in slow motion,
BC to AD, tree swingers to Homo Erectus
hunter-gatherers to town folk,
a flat world to Copernicus,
and so on, and so on
through millenniums until flush toilets,
then fast forward to bright lights,
the Model A, an icebox and Philco.
No Books For Dummies needed.

Darwin’s finch took generations to adapt a beak,
but when a cell replaced Marconi and Bell,
in the blink of an Android’s wireless eye

Ode to Alice, the girl who will always be falling by Meg Eden

Ode to Alice, the girl who will always be falling
Pudding Magazine #58

oh alice, your hair is too
blonde, your dress too blue—
you sing like a Disney wind-up doll.
don’t you know that’s copyright infringement?

to 80s standards, you are deemed
unstable and not-up-to safety standards.
you’re dangerous, girl—
the way you hang from your toe, the way
children tap on your glass:
is she still there? is she still falling?

and when they filled in your abode,
we lost your body, am I the only one
who believes you can still be found?
they believe you shattered


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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.
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