c o n v e r g e n c e:
an online journal of poetry & art


EDITOR'S CHOICE: cynthia linville's


LAVA CAKE

by Laura Baumann Otsubo

Like the
molten chocolate
flowing from

a warm
lava cake,
I wanted you.

But you were
not on the
dessert menu.


This poem was first published in Medusa's Kitchen


MOON

by Laura Baumann Otsubo

glowing amber
hanging heavy
in that black
ink sky

perhaps you
saw that

so full of hopeless
love and desire
plastered up
on a billboard






Stephanie Lakos Dolly Discarded



Dolly Discarded by Stephanie Lakos



LANDLADY CLAIRE

by Laura Baumann Otsubo

In the early 1970s, we lived in the old servant's quarters on the 3rd floor of a house in Western Philadelphia. The wooden floors were an endless source of splinters for my young feet. A worn but much loved stuffed "Buzzy Bee" helped me through many tearful extractions with tweezers.

Later soaking in the claw foot bathtub, I'd sing, "Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on, could it be a faded rose from days gone by?" My Dad was a grad student at Penn and would sometimes bring me to the campus. "Joy to the fishes in the Deep Blue Sea, Joy to You and Me," blasted from a radio as we walked past the koi pond. Mom was a secretary in the Psychology Department and I brought my toy typewriter so I could be a secretary too.

The landlady, Claire, and her husband Joe lived on the first floor of the house. They seemed wealthy since they had British accents, dark blue carpet, and a glass chandelier. My parents worried about losing their inexpensive rental, so despite my protests, I was left in daycare with Claire. She had us nap in the rooms of renters, on top of their made beds, without permission.

Claire favored a few children and I was not one of them. Mom packed lunches for me, including little gifts. Claire seized the toys, giving them away, and said, "You're a spoiled brat." She bought an above ground pool, and made the daycare children buy in to use it. We were too poor so I watched the other kids swim. One day in school, I made a beautiful watercolor print. When I told her I made it, Claire accused me of lying. She said, "Art is never created; only copied from others." I never painted again.






Stephanie Lakos What a Deal



What a Deal by Stephanie Lakos



ATOMIC CITY
HAIBUN


by Laura Baumann Otsubo

Annual visits to my grandparents in Oak Ridge, Tennessee seemed almost imagined once back up North. My dad's parents still owned an original Manhattan Project issued house. But secretly, I preferred my mom's parents, who lived a Cadillacs, fur coats, and country club lifestyle. Their backyard featured banana trees, Spanish moss, Kudzu, and best of all, a pool. Nana Roddie and Grandpa Tom would recline in chaise lounges, drinking cocktails and chain-smoking Marlboros. I practiced with Tab soda and candy cigarettes.

Their house was pure Brady Bunch, complete with fake wax fruit decorations. The wall-to-wall carpeted bathroom had luxurious shag even on the toilet lid. Tiny guest soaps were scented lavender. Nana Roddie wore her light blonde hair up in a beehive. She shampooed with beer and egg yolks to make it shinier. Nana lavished me with attention and gifts, including my favorite Disney pillowcase. When we shopped, everyone knew her by name and I felt I was with a celebrity. She was so bubbly and popular — everything I wanted to be.

One year a tumor was found in her breast. Doctors said the aggressive cancer had already spread. At thirteen, I talked about mastectomies, lymph nodes, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Grandpa Tom gave her marijuana to relieve the vomiting. She now wore a prosthesis breast in her bathing suit and blond wigs. Rows of empty liquor bottles were lining up near the garbage. Others were displayed as decorations throughout the house. I was the last to realize she was an alcoholic, and soon she died.

                                    Floating on the pool,
                                    thiking how I loved you
                                    until I drowned.





Stephanie Lakos Ruined



Ruined by Stephanie Lakos



TERROR AT NIGHT PANTOUM

by Laura Baumann Otsubo

Night terrors are episodes of screaming and intense fear while still asleep.
Driving as water pours into the street, in a swift current, I am swept away.
The person may sweat, exhibit rapid breathing, and have a rapid heart rate.
A stranger is breaking through my window, coming to attack me.

Driving as water pours into the street, in a swift current, I am swept away.
A person having a night terror abruptly awakes from sleep in a terrified state.
A stranger is breaking through my window, coming to attack me.
During the episode, the person may be hard to awaken, or awaken confused.

A person having a night terror abruptly awakes from sleep in a terrified state.
I glance in the rear view mirror. A man with a knife is in the back seat.
During the episode, the person may be hard to awaken, or awaken confused.
I try yelling for help, but cannot make a sound. I am screaming out loud.

I glance in the rear view mirror. A man with a knife is in the back seat.
A mass shooter is on the loose. He spots me hiding and comes to kill me.
I try yelling for help, but cannot make a sound. I am screaming out loud.
Wading through a dark pool. The bottom suddenly drops, and I am drowning.

A mass shooter is on the loose. He spots me hiding and comes to kill me.
The person may sweat, exhibit rapid breathing, and have a rapid heart rate.
Wading through a dark pool. The bottom suddenly drops, and I am drowning.
Night terrors are episodes of screaming and intense fear while still asleep.










Laura Bauman Otsubo by Ken Shames



Laura Baumann Otsubo by Ken Shames


Laura Baumann Otsubo grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is an attorney and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Minnesota Law School, and UC-Davis. Her poetry has been published in Rattlesnake Review, Poetry Now, Dad's Desk, Brevities, and Medusa's Kitchen. She has read her poetry at SacVOX and The Other Voice. A former board member of the Sacramento Poetry Center, Laura served as Poetry Editor of Poetry Now.




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