The Witch in Hansel and Gretel Speaks by Gayle Kaune

I am the bad one in this story, I know.
But just think: I’m alone in the forest,
maybe I am gimpy with stroke,
or have Alzheimers, a heart condition.

I’m the mother of the step-mother
who sent those kids into the woods to starve.
And what about me, abandoned
in this lean-to shack the color of burnt gingerbread?

I take those rug rats in.
I don’t shove them in my oven.
I feed them candy and milk.
Spies, they are, for my heartless
daughter. She wants me dead.

Medicare ain’t paying for no dementia
ward and there are no beds at Eastern State
Hospital. Yes, I’m diagnosed with a psychosis
NOS, not otherwise specified, but I’m not
going to eat those kids. Cannibalism?
No way, but really, didn’t being a mother
eat me up? The constant worry, earnest
as hunger. The only reward for suckling
them, sore nipples, veiny breasts.

Nobody cares about the old woman
with shriveled ovaries, so they call us witch.
I’ve only taken your cutie-pies hostage,
not that their stepmom, cares,
not that anyone gives a damn.

Child Protective Services
will eventually be called
but it will be too late.
I will have relieved the parents of their little
burdens, then spread their ashes over the moss.

Gather sticks for a large pyre,
Hansel and Gretel, your Grandmama
will soon join you. The crows
can witness how brightly
cast-off things burn.

 

 

Gayle Kaune has been published widely in literary magazines including Poet and Critic, Crab Creek Review, Seattle Review, Milkweed Editions, South Florida Poetry Review, and Centennial Review. She has won several Washington Poets Awards, a Ben Hur Lampmann award, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her book, Still Life in the Physical World, was published by Blue Begonia Press; her latest, All the Birds Awake, is available from Tebot Bach. She also has two chapbooks: N’Sid-Sen-Star and Concentric Circles, which won the Flume Press Award. Her latest manuscript, Noise From Stars, is looking for a home.

Make Soup, You Said by Wren Tuatha

I’m making a soup
to fill my bowl.
I’m after that carrot of consolation
you dangle.
I would remember
a recipe
uttered
in that season of my childhood
without language.
The three sisters–
corn, beans and squash…
When they hold hands
they can give weight
while they dance and stir,
balanced in a circle chain,
resolved, complete.

If I know the right herbs,
if my flame is humble,
if I stir with the tide,
if I ladle with steadiness,
if I eat with grace,
if I digest with stillness,
I will understand
why you have gone.
I wrote you a letter.
I burnt it,
buried it,
scattered it,
sent it sailing,
nailed it to my bed.
Make soup, you said, nothing is simple.

(First published in Baltimore Review.)

 

 

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Poetry Pacific, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at PoetryCircle.com. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Not Even the Birds Can Be Trusted by Katelyn Thomas

They wander the Gobi
in search of wings,
step instead into a red snare.
Only the sorrowing stars see
their pain drenched hope.
They stretch out their
hands to see if perhaps
it is that they are
invisible and discover that
the face of Kim Jong-un
is tattooed on their skin.

They watch the news –
more than one channel now –
and ask the birds if
America will blow up
their mother’s cousin, who
wasn’t discovered watching
a Hollywood movie and
is still alive in the maw
of the regime, hoping that
the stars will call to the moon,
“Sister, what is happening here?”

 

 

Katelyn Thomas is a poet and photographer who works in the children’s department of her local library. She spends her free time hiking, reading and watching her rambunctious hens cavorting in the sunlight. She has most recently been published in Social Justice Poetry and Haiku Journal.

Wind Song by Aparna Sanyal

In through the mullioned windows and doors,
the wind comes traipsing-
Look, she says
at my skirt of leaves!
A sashay, a susurration,
it has a tutus’ delicacy-
Wraithlike, wrapped in wisps,
inconsequential but binding.
And sometimes
it is a gown of velvet and plush ochre,
autumnal in its flow,
riveting in its gaze.
Sometimes the leaves are Pan.
And I dance and dance to
a flute melody for my ears alone.
I wander mist laden, dew embedded
through halls and galleries,
arches and naves,
finding corners to resonate me
with fitting music
and songs of yore.
At night, waxing, waning moon crescents
twinkle through my firmament.
I am in bowls and galaxies too-
Find me, I am all around you.
Hollownesses make me full,
unbound I ruffle your hair-
I am a lovers’ touch
I am a sighs’ despair.
In through mullioned windows
and doors I roam.
Wed to eternity,
to soil and loam.

 

 

An MA from Kings College, London, Aparna is a writer, theatre producer, and award- winning furniture designer. A popular Spoken Word poet, she performs at events across venues in India. Her page poetry has appeared/ is forthcoming in literary journals such as Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Visitant, The Same, Leaves of Ink, The Paragon Journal, Duane’s Poetree, A Writer’s Haven Blog, et al. She lives with her 3-year-old son and husband in Pune, India.

Photograph by Wren Tuatha.

Distance Traveled by Michael Chin

We watched Brent Barry at face value. Asking who was this white kid who dunked form the foul line to win the Slam Dunk Contest. We were abstractly aware of his pedigree. That his daddy was an NBA legend, his older brother a respected two-guard, but put that aside in favor what Brent represented. That the way he cruised to the basket, he looked like he could have started from farther back than the free throw line. I said the first guy to dunk from the three-point line would win the Dunk Contest for sure, and Vinnie nodded along, because we didn’t yet have a sense of the limitations of anatomy. We believed in three-point dunking not as wild speculation and fantasy, but as real possibility, maybe even an inevitability of our lifetimes.

And Vinnie, he took Brent Barry’s dunk and applied it to taunts from the boys at school who called him short and called him pudgy. The boys who laughed when he couldn’t catch net when we all ran and leapt, seeing how high we could reach on a basketball hoop.

“I’m going to dunk,” Vinnie said.

I didn’t believe him. No one did. The difference was I wanted it to be true, and thought maybe he could pull it off. We’d grown up on Hulk Hogan body slamming Andre the Giant, Daniel Larusso crane kicking Johnny into next week, Luke Skywalker bullseyeing womprats in his T-16. We learned to believe in the power of hard work and the reality of chosen ones.

In the years to follow, I sat on the steps outside Vinnie’s house while he did calf raises. Calf raises while we debated the finer points of who was the hottest girl in our junior high. Calf raises while I read chapters of To Kill A Mockingbird aloud so we could both know what happened, calf raises while we sipped not Mountain Dew, but Diet Mountain Dew.

Body squats while we watched NBA Inside Stuff and The Knicks play the The Lakers.

Then he stopped.

Vinnie introduced a new philosophy over a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips. “It’s the ability to do something that matters,” he said. He referenced the scientific system he’d set up on his bedroom wall alongside the plastic basketball hoop. A strip of masking tape he’d applied at his highest jump before he started working toward dunking, a foot from the ceiling. Another from the week later, an inch higher. “If I keep going, I’d be dunking by summer. Easy. I just don’t want to.”

There was an impeccable quality to the argument, or perhaps just to the confidence with which he made it, and yet infuriatingly imperfect about the logic. The logic he’d apply to not trying out for the JV, let alone varsity squads in high school. To the colleges he didn’t apply to and the women he didn’t ask for digits from at our college bar.

We didn’t re-watch video of Brent Barry for long, after it was clear he wouldn’t become a superstar, least of all after Vince Carter went three-sixty into a windmill jam, went between his legs, started from behind the backboard. Not sheer distance traveled, but acts of athletic ingenuity. Imagination.

The truth is, Vinnie stopped watching basketball much a couple years later. Got stuck in time on his basketball knowledge, and when we caught a Warriors game one Christmas, was quicker to recognize Steve Kerr, one time point guard, now one the sidelines as coach, rather than Steph Curry, top-five player of his day, budding superstar, world champ and world beater.

We didn’t talk about Brent Barry, but he brought up Vince Carter, frozen in his rookie year, all potential and power. “He may have been the best dunker of all time.”

 

 

 

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and his hybrid chapbook, The Leo Burke Finish, is available now from Gimmick Press. He won Bayou Magazine’s Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction and has work published or forthcoming in journals including The Normal School, Passages North and Hobart. He works as a contributing editor for Moss. Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.

Until You Could Not Tell Them Apart by Devon Balwit

And the wolf leaned over the sleeper,
and the sleeper slept, wrapped

in his breathing. His hide became
her blanket, cushioning where

thigh met thigh and breast, breast.
The sleeper dreamed

of the prick of claws, of the prick
of a prick, and blood

rushed to her cheeks and to where
blood rushes, and she

sighed. The wolf panted, and she,
also. And the wild night

streamed light, the wolf riding it,
buoyed by a wildness

wild as his own. They were both
and singular, wolf and sleeper,

they curled into one another until
you could not tell them apart.

 

 

Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. She has five chapbooks out in the world. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

Nascence by Aparna Sanyal

All limbs right now,
you feel like a tender grasshopper
A daddy long legs,
lime green, supple, raw;
even your leg rubs are squeaks.
And it feels like the garden mocks
your noise, your silences, even
the pauses you take to exhale.
Your breath is timorous with
fraught expectations. Your disappointments have turned the bush
you hide in,
to a nut- brown shade;
with leaves of crimson, that blush
your growing pangs away.
Each day these leaves fall, litter the ground in tear shapes and we,
who bend to sweep,
weep at their fallen grace.
You’re a creature that sleeps the
day away, unless awakened,
and comes out to play with
curly lashed smiles at night.
In the safety of darknesses and corners you’ve
carefully spun, you reveal your shades-
shy librettos and candied tenors,
tender contraltos that melt away like
treacle.
You allow lightning quick glimpses of your soul between gulps and nervous titters,
then hop away to hide
and build
for the coming day.
Such exquisiteness you have, such
tender vividity, it bleaches my soul
with its incandescence.
But you cannot see it.
Not yet.
For that, you have to wait.
Your time is nascent-
It waits with me, eagerly counts down,
to your
eventual unfurling.

 

 

An MA from Kings College, London, Aparna Sanyal is a writer, theatre producer, and award- winning furniture designer. A popular Spoken Word poet, she performs at events across venues in India. Her page poetry has appeared/ is forthcoming in literary journals such as Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Visitant, The Same, Leaves of Ink, The Paragon Journal, Duane’s Poetree, A Writer’s Haven Blog, et al. She lives with her 3-year-old son and husband in Pune, India.