New Year’s Eve by Ellaraine Lockie

The year is all packed
Refusing to be left behind
A black baggage of grief
burned by betrayal in love’s incinerator
And by beloved bodies dehydrated
as they processed to fine particles

My inability to focus
scatters like ashes over stacks
of partially-sorted photographs
Piles of unfinished poems
maneuvering their midlife crises
And multiple party invitations
Each promising to
bring in the best new year

Confetti falls from one
like gaiety imposed by a pushy hostess
Another drones Auld Lang Syne
in digital incessance as I open the invite
Bottles of booze litter the last two
Conjuring loss of inhibition
and sloppy kisses from strangers

Picking the best of the bad
proves to be as challenging
as choosing proper party apparel
And my fifth and final change
forces me in front of Times Square
Countdown clarity as plain
as the pajamas I wear

that when the year clocks into next
I’ll unpack the bereavement baggage
Accept sorrow’s timetable
And snack on some more popcorn
or pretzels or peanuts
Or maybe nachos or Cheetos
or chocolate covered mints

 

 

Ellaraine Lockie is widely published and awarded as a poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Tripping with the Top Down is her thirteenth chapbook. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England Competition, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Ellaraine teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.

 

Detail of photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, Self Portrait as “New Woman,” 1896.

Hemp, Haiku & Social Lies by Tracy Mitchell

He toured Kansas, then Greenwich
where he lived as a postulant, later
described as the happiest time of
his life. With a face resembling
Vonnegut, or a plump pumpkin
going flat, he aged quickly along
with American innocence, if ever
there was such a thing. The hippies
thought him a god-like blend of
hemp, haiku and hitchhiking, a
view he never admitted to liking.
Authorities long considered him
a poet in times of war, a lector
at the City Lights Bookstore,
and of that they could not abide.
He went to the camps, went to
shore, and finally went to ground.
His daughter, Mary, changed her
name to Mariana. His third wife
left him for a poet. No record remains
of the man having lived or died, but
for his words, and now this,
and only after tea and peyote.
A pipe plays slow and long. Low
thunder sloshes from the Rockies to
Brooklyn, Chicago to The City, where
streets on the hill tilt toward the sea.

 

 

(First published in Poetry Circle.)

 

 

Tracy Mitchell is a newly retired native Minnesotan, recently relocated to the splendor of Colorado. His free verse writing is largely inspired by the vagaries of this frail and transitory life. Fair game subject matter includes nature, ourselves, and each other. His best work has been imagined by the campfire in a clearing somewhere near sleep. He is a contributing member of Poetry Society of Colorado, MyWritersCircle, Writers Among Us, Poetry Circle, and PigPen Poetry Forum. His work has appeared in Lake Region Review, and the poetry anthology As the Kettle Wolf-Whistled.

 

Photograph of Kenneth Rexroth reading, source Foundsf.

Compassion Moves the World by Michael H. Brownstein

After the sculpture Compassion Moves a World,  by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany

In the days that followed
The blue ink of sea broiled over

A child, a vulture, a lack of seed.
Everything spreading outward.

Wind whined into place and rained.
Sun spread its thick arms and stayed.

One person can make a world.
A strong wind can swim in acid and wake.

Water in turmoil thickening.
Hold on with all of your might.

The earth has not broken open yet.
The legs of the strong are stronger

Than the waves of the cloak of life.
We will come to cross this path,

We will make it across this continent,
We will find the child, the vulture, the seed.

We will change the shape of water.

compassion-moves-a-world full length

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

#MeToo: Sister Poem #5 -Double Date: The Quarterback, The Fullback, & The High Cost of Dinner by Alexis Rhone Fancher

When the date ends, your sister will
kiss the fullback goodnight on tip toe
under the porch light, her soft curls a halo
illuminating her naivety.

You, on the other hand,
will stare at your bare feet.
Not shy: Sullied. Seething.

Your sister will thank the fullback for dinner
at Tony’s on the Pier,
the copious cocktails and signature chocolate mousse.
She’ll tell him she had a wonderful time.
That she hopes she’ll see him again.

You will say none of these things.
You will mind your manners.
You will try not to think how the quarterback
just forced himself into your mouth.

You will bite your tongue and smile,
pretend his baller body
hasn’t just slammed into yours,
that he didn’t wipe his penis on your sheets
when he was done,

that while he was assaulting you,
you didn’t wonder if the fullback was out there,
raping your sister. If he, too, was brutal.

In fact, your sister and the fullback only
watched tv, making out, but just a little.

You had no way to know this.

You lie there and take it for your sister.
You think about her delicate spine,
believing if you play it wrong,
he might snap her like a sparrow.

They eye the closed door of your bedroom.
They share a knowing smile.
They know nothing.

 

First Published in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, 2017

 

 

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Plume, Rattle, Diode,
Rust & Moth, Nashville Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (2017). A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.
http://www.alexisrhonefancher.com

breeding by Jess Kangas

sobriety breeds insomnia
breeds my sunday
night-at my home, it’s mother’s
day-I bought the succulent near the horse farm, the card
in walgreens, I posted on facebook with 3
hearts-our secret.
remains. it comes from the mother-
yours was a lion actress, she took men in
her mouth on acid while
you ate tv dinners nearby, I remember
her in the mall-every step a broken step- her mother
GG. seventy years old bail bondsman in Florida-
the prisoners loved her- she had dinners
with everyone, you mentioned the drugs, guns, the transgender
woman, that guy Nicky had a knife.
and your father’s mother- they called her red,
she lied about her birthday, her clothes neatly
pressed- no one ever spoke
of her son that passed-
they lived
on the upper
west side- fine china, two maids-
one nanny. when the stocks
crashed- he blanked himself-
we never speak of what
lies dormant
in my womb.

 

 

Jess Kangas is a strawberry siren poet located in Buffalo, NY. Her poetry is rich in sound, structure and secrets.

 

 

Photograph by Steve Snodgrass.

#MeToo: The doer and the done upon by Ankita Anand

I sprawled on the floor, was asked to sit properly,
beginning of shame in my being.

A boy I didn’t know whispered foulness in my ears
on the playground. I made sure my loose shirts
kept my chest as flat as it felt
in those seconds of frozen air.

Middle-aged bicycleman airkissed me,
I pedaled hard. At thirteen I learnt the roads
do not carry my weight
but weigh me down.

How many things must be rotten in our Denmark?

In Taekwondo class I stretched my legs
on both sides till they hurt, till much after the hurt.
Two girls, their feet against mine, silently promising me
I won’t relent. That winter, the flame
of pride in my thighs kept me warm.

I named parts of my body
(that asked why I never spoke to them)
to tell wide-eyed men of the exact violations they committed.
I discovered my tongue and language could be allies if they spent
enough time together.

Curious, I returned the gaze foisted upon me,
took my time to take in this bundle of nerves turned to jelly.
My eyes were street dogs who could fight on half-empty
stomachs, every day pulled into games others played, refusing
to be tamed.

My body says it wishes to unlearn the fear of what could be done
to it, to show me everything it can do.

 

 

A version of this work was first published in Tuck Magazine.

 

 

Ankita Anand’s writing has travelled through India, Pakistan, Singapore, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, the US and the UK. She also facilitates writing workshops. An archive of her publications can be found here: anandankita.blogspot.in

 

 

Photograph by Saad Akhtar. 

Four Poems for Christmas Sharing

Pressed Pansies by Victoria Crawford

A mother’s gift to make for Christmas day
in the book, Pressed Flowers, from a thrift store.
A Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

My pansies were blooming in bright array.
Cardboard and string press pansies galore,
a mother’s gift to make for Christmas day.

I made backing and frame from an old tray,
gilded for flower picture Mom would adore
a Eureka! savings for teacher’s pay.

Pressed pansies, picture framed, artful bouquet,
glossy glitter made it cleverly shine more
for mother’s gift handmade for Christmas day.

December, the present and I on our way
hit potholes before we reached Mom’s front door
and that Eureka! moment for teacher’s pay?

Bumps, glue, and gravity ruined the display:
ruined pansies and glitter weren’t much, for
a mother’s gift made for Christmas day
or Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

 

 

Winter by Martin Willitts, Jr.

silence and cold expectations
speak thinly
translating
with deep pain
into new fallen snow
through the determined
darkness
among blue hazed trees

wind moves slowly
wearing snowshoes

 

 

Andy Williams by Kenneth Pobo

Aunt Gwen plays his albums while
pushing a splintery mop
over crabby kitchen tiles. Andy
sings that he hears the music
from across the way. Gwen thinks
maybe she hears it too—only oak
leaves against a screen. She wishes

that just once Tree would have taken her
to see him at the Moon River Theater
in Branson. Last Christmas
he promised, but his job got busy
and Delia Anne came home broke.

As Gwen pours gray water down the sink,
Andy sings “Moon River”–
We’re after the same rainbow’s end,
the album turning in endless circles, Gwen

stopping suddenly when a tuxedo’d man
leaps out from worn grooves
to offer her one red rose.

 

 

The Captive Fire by Wren Tuatha

She tosses the yarn
and the kittens roll with it,
hitting the wall at the
propane heater,
its grill a cage for
the captive fire within.

She lets out a smile
but it swings back to her,
on a pendulum,
like a good smile,
contained in quiet play.

In the span of a sigh
the kittens will leave, cats,
echoes of the children
who fell, men and women,
from her breast.
She would give a breast
to be needed
that way again.

She snatches the yarn
and the kittens
settle for her shoelace
as she finishes the fringe
on her fourth grandson’s afghan.
Muted shades of
red, orange and yellow.

 

 

Victoria Crawford. From Monterey, California, Victoria is a poet passionate about connecting nature and the human experience in words to share with readers. She has been published in Peacock Journal, the Ibis Head Review, Wildflowers Muse, the Lyric Review, Eastlit, Penwood Review, and other magazines, as well as having upcoming work in Canary and Pacific Poetry.

Martin Willitts, Jr. is a retired Librarian. He is the winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award and Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June, 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over twenty chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus eleven full-length collections including Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017) and Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of poems out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: The Queer South anthology, Caesura, Colorado Review, Mudfish, and elsewhere.

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

 

 

Painting: Night on the eve of Ivan Kupala (1892) by Henryk Slemiradzki (1843-1902).