Soapstone Figure by Nicole Michaels

If her wrists ache, forgive her:
They are freshly chiseled.

If her head rings, maybe it’s the hammer
somebody just laid down.

Others are quick to admire
her newly gaunt shape,

her willowy thighs,
the slope of her nape.

But her waist stings from the rasp,
and it appears she will forever be naked,

no hint of clothing in the scheme,
bare toes clasping a block,

that remnant of her soapy seam.
The sessions are long, and when she’s

left alone under a drape,
she recalls a coppery darkness,

the scrape of shifting plates,
the song of gems, and how she wept with aquifers.

Now her arms seem to be reaching
up for something – she worries

they haven’t finished her face –
wants a good nose –

She believes they will send
birds to perch on her shoulders.

She believes her hands will become bowls.

 

 

Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.

 

Nymph with a Scorpion, Lorenzo Bartolini, 1845.

Suzy, the innocent don’t try to escape by Jordan Trethewey

I-75, suburban ‘merica,
not prime geography to relocate
after a Houdini escape
from a circus regime

ask ’87 Cuban nationals
detained in Atlanta state pen
immigration a-no-go

different stripes don’t go unnoticed
or tolerated for long
before police draw weapons ’round here

especially if you disturb
a beloved wiener dog penned outside
with a big Bengali hug

 

 

Photograph by CGBGrey.

The Stories We Tell by Holly Day

I feel the wings flutter under my skin as I tell them
about my childhood, about how things were before
I had children of my own. I hint at the type of insect I was
make it more beautiful-I was a butterfly, a damselfly
a fluorescent leaf-hopper, something amazing.

Because they’re my children, I can tell they believe me
that right now, they’re imaging me as
a lime-green lunar moth, wing soft as down
not the chitinous beetle I really was
brown and dull and unimportant,
scuttling from one crack to the next.

 

 

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl.

 

Photograph by Wren Tuatha, Spoutwood Faerie Festival, Glen Rock, PA. 

A Gen Xer and a Millennial Speak of the End of the World by Anthony DiPietro

When you’ve just finished reading apocalypse
novels and your slightly younger boyfriend’s
addicted to climate change
articles and you have faith that what’s
coming, whether zombie virus, H1N1,
solar flare—whatever happens first
doesn’t matter—you’d rather imagine
what kind of wagon you’ll escape on,
you and your love, when that late afternoon
light disturbs some future morning—
but he says phytoplankton have begun
to smother like goldfish, gasping
on kitchen counters and coral reef
will soon be museum relics, nothing else
and he argues whether Bernie
can still win—you interrupt
to list a few artful approaches
you’ve seen in the literature, but then
the razor in his voice when he says
I’ll stop talking, I’ll just listen, between gritted teeth,
firmly as if you’ve raised a fist.
Then you find your lip quivers
with the tension of a dam, and did I mention
you are riding the Red Line when the crying
starts—you both get out at Harvard Square, the acrid
summer garbage smell welcomes you but isn’t
what’s stinging your eyes that now drizzle
like the Cake Ace on Food Network
and he apologizes, Honey, honey,
honey, for the nothing wrong he did,
and by the time you get to Elephant & Castle
you don’t feel like eating—the host
who seats you didn’t want to come to work
tonight, and your weeping
doesn’t help, and everyone in the restaurant
wonders if your date attacked you
or if your parents have cancer—so you go
to the basement, find a urinal, still leaking
from your eyes, and stare at a poster of red
double-decker buses in London, and that should cheer
you up, and you start talking
to yourself in a British accent
because sometimes you don’t have a bloody clue
why the fuck you’re crying.

Anthony DiPietro is a Rhode Island native who worked for 12 years in community-based organizations that addressed issues such as violence, abuse, and income inequality. In 2016, he moved to New York to join Stony Brook University as a candidate for a creative writing MFA and now teaches undergraduate courses. A graduate of Brown University with honors in creative writing, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Anomaly, Assaracus, The Good Men Project, Helen, Rogue Agent, The Southampton Review, Talking River, and The Woman Inc. His website is AnthonyWriter.com.

Breathable Air by Tracy Mitchell

To buy or sell water
was a preposterous thought
and somehow time accordioned
down its own found spaces like
a lost cutworm. Fuck the cocoon,
what I would give again
for night and space
and dew.

 

 

(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 by ep.Sos.de.

Escape by Elinor Wylie

When foxes eat the last gold grape,
And the last white antelope is killed,
I shall stop fighting and escape
Into a little house I’ll build.

But first I’ll shrink to fairy size,
With a whisper no one understands,
Making blind moons of all your eyes,
And muddy roads of all your hands.

And you may grope for me in vain
In hollows under the mangrove root,
Or where, in apple-scented rain,
The silver wasp-nests hang like fruit.

(Elinor Wylie, 1885-1928.)

White Paper Poetree by Wren Tuatha

The paper this is written on holds
experiences. You never think
to ask. The trees, the centuries,
the violence. Ripping and bleach. Slaves
and workers who don’t know ease.

Flipping ocean waves and seeping petrol.

White and cleansed with poetry
so tidy and ordered the world
could never be raw.

All paper is mute, only crackling in hand,
the way of bowing pulp pines smacked
by atmosphere. The ink lets through
certain stories and some news.
And under our objects, pretty paper,
plastic and cotton, work slaves
we don’t see.

 

 

Previously published in Five:2:One Magazine.

Illustration: “The Road to Dividends,” artist unknown. 

 

 

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.