Caged Skylark By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Dorothea Lange migrant farm workers

As a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage
Man’s mounting spirit in his bone-house, mean house, dwells –
That bird beyond the remembering his free fells;
This in drudgery, day-labouring-out life’s age.

Though aloft on turf or perch or poor low stage,
Both sing sometimes the sweetest, sweetest spells,
Yet both droop deadly sometimes in their cells
Or wring their barriers in bursts of fear or rage.

Not that the sweet-fowl, song-fowl, needs no rest –
Why, hear him, hear him babble and drop down to his nest,
But his own nest, wild nest, no prison.

Man’s spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best,
But uncumbered: meadow-down is not distressed
For a rainbow footing it nor he for his bones risen.

 

Gerard Manly Hopkins, 1944-1889.

 

Photograph by Dorothea Lange, 1895-1965. 

#Mountains: The Mountain by Tamara Madison

Kuznetsov_008-1

My child sleeps on her stomach;
one arm crawls over her head
like a swimmer’s,
mouth with lush lips
open, a constellation
of moles on her shoulder
stray stars flung
about the rest of her.
Her breath is a breeze
moving curtains, one lock
of hair curls up from her earlobe
to lick the new, rose-lit
earring. With many rings,
bracelets of plastic lace,
I watch her gaily skirt the foothills
of adolescence, just poised
to make the climb; still
the mountain looms
and she sleeps
in its deep green shadow.

 

First published in Wild Domestic, by Pearl Editions.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

 

Painting by Nikolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov.

# Mountains: High on Her Mountain, the Witch Witch Warms Herself by Michael H. Brownstein

karin_dreijer_anderson_by_frogstar_23-dcd3vjs.png

The witch witch wakes hungry
ice on her breath,
clouds in her hair,
underwear gray and red,
warts sprawled across her arms.
There are always people who are meant to harm you.
The witch witch is not one of them.
She can dig a shallow grave,
pray over a cat at play with a mouse,
squash a scorpion between thumb and forefinger.
The witch witch sees the dormant volcano
through an opening in her wall,
the sudden rise of steam, the push
of ash like wet sand,
the beautiful collapse of the dome.
She walks onto her veranda,
folds her small hands into a smile,
and watches the mountain catch fire.

 

 

Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

 

Watercolor by Jenn Zed

#ElectionDay: Go Gather Wood by Pablo Cuzco

prague-mural-lennon-3

Go gather wood for your fires boys,
gather wood to burn | don’t pick wood that’s wet or rotten,
or it will not burn ::the cherry trees stand withered,
the orchards bare and dry | the grass parched and dying
by a scourge sent from the sky.

The leaves eaten by the sun,
the water line is clear | the lake is showing rooftops
of a town once disappeared ::it rains and rains for days on end,
so the fires burn out | the sun shines from the sky,
suddenly it’s a drought.

There’s flooding in the valley,
chaos in the hills | the roads washed out by the creek
that once ran deep and still | the river swollen to the banks,
the farmlands turned to swamp | the city center’s four feet deep
of a rage that just won’t stop.

The government is sending troops and sandbags by the score,
but the angry skies won’t listen, tomorrow—
another storm | the national guard stands ready
with its soldiers and their guns | but the thunder’s roll is louder,
the battle has begun.

pennsylvania-primary-election-guide-3

 

Pablo Cuzco is an American writer of poetry and short stories. He spent his early years in France and Germany with his family. In his teens, he traveled across America with guitar in hand, writing songs and jotting memories along the way. Now, living in the Southwest with his wife, he has time to reflect and share those stories. His works can be found at Underfoot Poetry, The Big Windows Review, and on his blog Pablo Cuzco – in My Mind’s Eye.

Two Poems by Pablo Cuzco

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The Swallows Have Left

The orchards are bare
the sun no longer shines.
Waters flood the mainland,
avocados shrivel from a lingering drought.
There’s a sign on the door that reads:
“The Bees are Gone for the Season—
We’ll pray for rain but wait for the sun.”

…the swallows have left Capistrano.

 

The Swallows Refuse to Return

The greenback was once well oiled
till renewable energy raised its serpent head.
Hybrids and Uber-Lyft rides on the cheap—
promoted by Utopian masters of the carbon footprint.

A clock’s revolution | a turn of the hand.
A paradigm shift racing toward the event horizon,
the Singularity threatens neural networks with artificial constructs
—a perfect Anthropocene storm.

::you must remember this—we send our boys to war
but bring home *men* in caskets.
Sweethearts wave as trains leave the station—

…the swallows refuse to return to Capistrano.

 

 

Pablo Cuzco is an American writer of poetry and short stories. He spent his early years in France and Germany with his family. In his teens, he traveled across America with guitar in hand, writing songs and jotting memories along the way. Now, living in the Southwest with his wife, he has time to reflect and share those stories. His works can be found at Underfoot Poetry, The Big Windows Review, and on his blog Pablo Cuzco – in My Mind’s Eye.

Stress Positions by Risa Denenberg

531px-Vrksasana

In yoga, when limbs tremble and bend,
I rest in child’s pose and dwell on stress
positions pressed on prisoners. My slight
discomfort weighed against their agony.

In tree pose, I’m a tent post in a muddy
bivouac. I confine my limbs in eagle pose,
as limbless orphans concoct makeshift sports.
In crow pose, I think of stateless refugees

who occupy camps where small caged birds
are the preferred pets. Lying in corpse pose
I wonder how many graves are lost at sea.
My sadness useless as a prayer.

 

First published in slight faith, MoonPath Press.

 

 

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, including “Whirlwind @ Lesbos” (Headmistress Press, 2016) and “slight faith” (MoonPath Press, 2018).

 

Photograph by Judith.

Dialects of Praise by Daniel B. Summerhill

Romare Bearden-After-Church Dialects of Praise Daniel B. Summerhill

Offering envelope stuck to day-old gum,
	   hypocrisy between the pews
I accomplished this for fun
	   during the break 
of the choir director's direction
	   Beside me, the sound a sinner makes 
Gold-plated cufflinks anchor the hands
	   that left my sister's neck blanched 
one night prior 
	   His immense voice 
and carefully rehearsed tongue 
	   yielding the dialects he praises in-
Sometimes, Oh Happy Day,
	   when he washed 
the blood away from his hands	
	   Sometimes, Waymaker,
just before palms become fist 
	   and he sends invocation 
Each song, a tithe
	   envelope I stick to the gum 
between the pews

 

 

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, CA. Currently an MFA candidate at Boston’s Pine Manor College, Daniel has performed and taught guest workshops and lectures throughout the U.S, Europe, and South Africa. He has published two collections of poems, Crafted and Brown Boys on Stoops, and has been asked to perform at Ted Talk and Def Jam Poetry with Danny Simmons. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Pine Hills Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and The Voice among others.

 

Painting, After Church, by Romare Bearden.

Evangeline by Nolan Meditz

RAIFORD_relle_frankEvangeline Nolan Meditz

The roads aren’t meant for lyric
here. They ride slow through
the swampland air, witness to trees

like fingers of a drowning titan
straining to clutch fistfuls of satin
in full view of the moon. Bayou dusk
hangs heavy in the corners of a phantom
landscape, bloodies the river quiet
save for mosquitoes and crane flies.

It is the world out there, the world
you dare venture into and call by name,
though it live namelessly in stanzas
unwritten, forgotten after their first
recitation, as the roads remind you
what belongs here and what does not.

 

 

Nolan Meditz was born and raised on Long Island, where he received his MFA at Hofstra University in 2014. He received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2018 and will begin teaching writing at Southwestern Oklahoma State University this fall. His poetry has appeared in Roanoke Review, AMP: Journal of Digital Literature, Mockingheart Review and The Wild Word among other publications.

 

Photograph by Frank Relle. Used by permission. 

Califragile Editor Wren Tuatha Interviewed on Wombwell

Wren discusses her poetry beginnings at her childhood community center: “I… wrote something with words I could spell, like sky, trees, grass. I remember feeling transdimensional, as if I had healed all diseases by extolling the beauty of sky, trees and grass.”

She discusses her influences, from Robert Duncan to “Yoko Ono. Not her writing but her performance art. She taught me that the audience is the canvas. This has informed everything I do in art and education.”

What advice does she offer other emerging poets? Read her thoughts about matching your goals to your poetic activities. “Here’s a morsel I learned in the editing trenches: Don’t put Best of the Net nominations in your bio. This causes an editor eye-roll like you would not believe. When you win, put it in.”

Read the full interview here.

Wren doing Q&A at launch party cropped

Cool Chennai, Haibun by Kala Ramesh

1024px-Big_Banyan_Tree_at_Bangalore by Kiran Gopi

an uncut rock
under the banyan
the memory

One day in December, a frail man, almost eighty years of age — JK as he’s affectionately called — sits with his eyes closed under the famed banyan tree in his residence. There’s pin-drop silence as people wait for the master to speak … birds returning to their nests go in and out of song. Forty-five minutes later he looks up smilingly and says, “the birds have said everything I wanted to say today.”

breathless across the river the moon where I began

 

 

First published in Modern Haiku.

buddhatree

Kala Ramesh – Poet, editor, anthologist, Kala’s initiatives culminated in founding INhaiku to bring Indian haiku poets under one umbrella in 2013. She has taught haiku and allied genres at Symbiosis International University and the Katha National Writers Workshop since 2013. To bring haiku into everyday spaces, Kala initiated HaikuWALL, haikuTRAIL, haikuTALK, haikuWORKSHOP, haikuYOUTH, haikuUTSAV, haikuDHYANA and haikuSTAGE – a weaving together of art forms. SAMVAAD :: the open sky — a dialogue to bring writers of different poetic genres together is her latest venture. She is the editor of four haiku, tanka and haibun journals. Kala has been a speaker at several national and international literary festivals.

Kala co-edited the award winning Naad Anunaad: an Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku (Vishwakarma Publication 2016, Pune),  Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press 2018, USA) and  EquiVerse SPACE (Notion Press 2018, Mumbai), co-authored with Marlene Mountain the e-book  one-line twos (Bones Journal 2016, Denmark), authored a tanka e-chapbook Uunseen Arc (Snapshot Press 2017, UK) and two print books: Haiku and the Companion Activity Book (Katha Books 2010, reprint 2017, New Delhi) and Beyond the Horizon Beyond Haiku & Haibun (Vishwakarma Publication 2017, Pune).

 

Banyan tree photograph by Kiran Gobi.

Crazy Otto by Patricia Nelson

Heidelberg Project Penny Car David Yarnall Crazy Otto Patricia Nelson

Otto paints his house again,
with his changing love of colors.

The blue and green are high with hopsack edges,
the stops of yellow clear and low.

As if something is recited and a mark made
where each mistake is swallowed by another.

No one color ever makes it
to the sky-colored end of the job.

Each daub taller, brighter than his eye or word,
his loud and undistinguished singing.

Someday, one color, one light
uniting all the eyes.

 

 

Patricia Nelson is a retired attorney who has worked with the Activist group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird, Poetic Matrix Press.

 

Detail of photograph by David Yarnall, The Heidelberg Project – Penny Car.

 

Heidelberg Project Mission & Vision, from their website:

Mission

The Heidelberg Project (“HP”) is an outdoor art environment in the heart of an urban area and a Detroit based community organization with a mission to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art.

Vision

The theory of change for the Heidelberg Project begins with the belief that all citizens, from all cultures, have the right to grow and flourish in their communities. The HP believes that a community can re-develop and sustain itself, from the inside out, by embracing its diverse cultures and artistic attributes as the essential building blocks for a fulfilling and economically viable way of life.

#Mountains: Bitterroot Storm by Joe Cottonwood

by Joseph Bitterroot storm joe cottonwood

You made it. Hell of a drive.
Now in the cabin you’re shivery, raw.
Floorboards tremble.
Branches pelt the roof.
Rain blows under the door.
Phone? Lamp? Radio?
All wires, dead.
Power will be out for days.

You fetch wood,
build a fire, heat water,
light lanterns named Aladdin.
Play guitar, help the neighbor start her car.
Clinging to this mountain
your cabin is a spot of warm
in a dark storm.
You are power.

 

 

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photograph by Joseph.

On the Q by Barbara Henning

On the Q Barbara Henning

On the Q

—to Manhattan—through the slit—between my eyelids—an almost empty car—two women dozing—one leans forward—hair cropped—ear level—mid sixties—freckles—arms crossed—head bobbing—as the train jerks—“little brown bag”—on her lap—the other woman—one leg crossed—over the other—shoulder length—glistening black hair—leaning to the side—head against rail—dozing—trading relatively quiet today—investors returning—from Thanksgiving vacation—the car quiet—climbs over—the Manhattan bridge—behind the ropes and rails—the Brooklyn Bridge—dark scattered clouds—the western sun—a golden hue—a six foot three inch—Justinian cross—over the World Trade center—young adults—brought here as children—soon sent—to places they never knew—underground we go—the conductor says—this is Canal Street—Chinatown—the older woman—stands up—head still bowed—doors open—and then she’s gone— (28 Nov 2016)

 

First published in The Journal of Poetics Research.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects andBlack Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

 

Photograph by Mtattrain.

Lasagna With the Professor by Kirby Wright

Kirby Wright Va State Park Staff

We rock twin rockers out on the porch.
The gray wind fills with rain.

“Hail predicted,” you mutter.
You have lost at lust again,

This time with a junior in college
The age of your daughter.

You fake youth with a tan
And camouflaged hair.

“Nature calls,” you announce, springing up.
You fantasize our childhood

Fingering blossoms
Of an African violet

While stuck to the toilet.
Your Birkenstocks smell.

I ask you to dinner.
You nod. The spark leaves your eyes

Converting me from crush to old maid.
After minestrone soup

I serve hot lasagna with wine.
You gulp merlot and noodles.

I gulp too, killing that first bottle
And scraping foil off the second.

Purple-blue veins feed
Your muscles and brain.

The promised hail comes,
A riot on my roof.

 

 

Kirby Wright won the 2018 Redwood Empire Mensa Award for Creative Nonfiction. He’s working on a collection of poems tentatively titled Lasagna With the Professor.

Daily Walk by Robert Knox

Daily Walk Robert Knox Albert Herring

Sibling trees,
rattling tongues
in the leaf-blown breeze
Even in the homey, civilized month of June
the rougher tongue of otherness
speaks in a scrap of woodland
beside the place where the Civil War sailors
came to die
just out of hearing
of the restless city

All their branches
speaking wind

Robert Knox is a Boston Globe correspondent, a poet, fiction writer, and the author of a recently published novel based on the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Suosso’s Lane. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal, Verse-Virtual, his poems appear regularly on that site. They have also appeared in other journals such as Every Day Poet, Off The Coast, Houseboat, and Yellow Chair Review. His poetry chapbook Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty was published in May 2017. The chapbook Cocktails in the Wild followed this spring.

The Beautiful Suffering by Margarita Serafimova

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Shining are the hundreds of thousands of fish
in a sea prison, shining as one.
Deep suns.

The Beautiful Suffering Margarita Moofushi Kandu, Maldives, fish by Bruno de Giusti

Margarita Serafimova was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017 and Summer Literary Seminars 2018 Poetry Contest, and long-listed for the Erbacce Press Poetry Prize 2018. Margarita has three collections in Bulgarian. Her work appears in Agenda Poetry, London Grip New Poetry, Trafika Europe, European Literature Network, The Journal, A-Minor, Waxwing, Nixes Mate Review, StepAway, Ink, Sweat and Tears, HeadStuff, Minor Literatures, The Writing Disorder, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Chronogram, Noble/ Gas Quarterly, Origins Journal, miller’s pond, Obra/ Artifact, TAYO, Shot Glass Journal, Opiate, Poetic Diversity, Novelty Magazine, Pure Slush, Harbinger Asylum, Punch, Tuck, Ginosko, etc. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/MargaritaISerafimova/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel.

 

Ocean fish in Moofushi Kandu, Maldives photograph by Bruno de Giusti.

#Mountains: Mount Hood by Kenneth Pobo

Kenneth Pobo Mount_Hood_from_Bald_Mountain_flickr_Thomas_Shahan

Sunlight and clouds, the plane hits
a stone of turbulence. I almost bump

my head on a storage bin. Through
the window, a dark shape.

What’s that? I ask a woman
squeezed in that awful middle seat.

The pilot announces Mount Hood—
as we near Portland, the mountain

is an eye that stays open
long after we pass.

 

First published in Save My Place, Finishing Line Press.

 

 

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His forthcoming chapbook of haiku and tanka will appear from Yavanika Press. It’s called Threads.

 

Photograph of Mount Hood by Thomas Shahan.

Poem For Kate In Chemo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

various-stages-of-not-responding

Above where your right breast used to be
the oncologist implanted a port to make things easier.
“It takes forever,” you say. “An hour’s drive, each
way, an entire day used up, laying
there.”

But first, the tourniquet, tied to your upper arm,
the cheery nurse, tapping for a working vein,
your thick blood at last flooding into one syringe
after another. Then the weigh-in, each time
less. “Bone and skin now,” you say.

If your numbers are good, you head
to the chemo room, rows of cushy
recliners, supplicants tethered to plastic bags
held high by IV poles, a forest of metal trees.

You unbutton your blouse, offer up the convenient
port to a flush of saline – like ocean, you tell me,
like waves.

Next, the chemicals, those shimmering droplets
riding the plastic tube into your chest,

a kind red blanket, thrown
over your legs.

I tear the best New Yorker short stories
from the magazine and mail them
to you in Port Townsend.
Something to pass the time. Something non-
medical to discuss when we chat each week.

We both know you’re dying, though your
husband still has faith, and you cling to his
hope, coming back week after week because
it makes his life bearable.

When the chemo bags are empty,
and the stories read, you leave the pages behind
for a needful stranger.
In 2000, when you lost your breast,
your husband insisted you have
chemo then, too.
“It makes me feel more dead than alive,”
you confessed to me after the first week.

Appointment days, you’d leave the house,
drive to the woods, walk the trails
instead of treatment, those
huge redwood trees shading your path.

Each evening you’d return to your
husband’s innocent embrace.

You made me promise not to tell.
And I never did, until now.

 

For Kate O’Donnell, (1949-2014)

 

First published in the Nashville Review.

 

 

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

 

Art by Brooke Warren.

Napkin Poem #3 by Margot DeSalvo

Margot DeSalvo

In a world of Johnny
Rockets and breakfast
buffets
I stand along
the diamond
lined boardwalk
with seagull shit
and fried dough
serving as a
perimeter between
the person I want
to sound like and
the censorship I
succumb to.

 

 

Margot DeSalvo is just another person in this world seeking stability, simplicity, and coffee. Her writing has been picked up by Sunflower SultrasGhost City Review, KYSO Flash, Nothing Substantial, Sonic Boom, Clarendon House Publications, The Pangolin Review, Whale Road Review, Streetlight Press, Dying Dahlia, Flatbush Review, and Teaching English in the Two-Year College.

Three Summer Cherita by Peter Jastermsky

romanchildrenplay marble Marie-Lan Nguyen

racing outside
the children’s food
left on the table

with the lecture
about hunger

in faraway places

**

lifting a brick

the pocket
of hidden coolness

a brief respite
for the hand
this summer day

**

garden vegetables
the children picked

into the pressure cooker
letting it go
the wish

for a dinner
like the neighbors

 

 

Peter Jastermsky writes Japanese short-form works. His writing has appeared in many journals, including Failed Haiku, Haibun Today, The Cherita, and KYSO Flash. Born in Connecticut, Peter and his family live in Southern California, where he works as a licensed counselor.

 

Photograph of marble Roman artwork by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Jr Drank his Coffee Black by Daniel B. Summerhill

Jr Drank His Coffe Black Daniel Summerhill

Jr Drank his Coffee Black,

and by black, I mean,
no shade other than his oil-slick
skin was allowed to get close

enough to share the same air.
If he was reading this he’d say,
that goes for dominoes,
checkerboards, cows, penguins,

Zebras, soccer balls and cars too.
‘Say, white vehicles aren’t allowed
in the same lane on the highway.
Say, I got a double barrel and bail

money for anyone who becomes
brave behind the wheel. Jr speaks
only when spoken too, sir & mam
book-end each sentence unwieldy.

Story goes: Jr’s battalion, a slew of white boys
wary of napalm, sent him into the
grey of the unknown to get confirmation

and Jr has drank his coffee black ever since.

 

 

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, CA. Currently an MFA candidate at Boston’s Pine Manor College, Daniel has performed and taught guest workshops and lectures throughout the U.S, Europe, and South Africa. He has published two collections of poems, Crafted and Brown Boys on Stoops, and has been asked to perform at Ted Talk and Def Jam Poetry with Danny Simmons. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Pine Hills Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and The Voice among others.

 

Photograph of retired Vietnam veteran Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Harris by Justin Connaher. Harris served in the U.S. Air Force for 30 years with two tours of duty in Vietnam during the Civil Rights Movement.

Bringing up Baby by Roberta Beary

bringing up baby-roberta beary katharine-hepburn

again she falls. but nothing’s broken and she seems okay.
still i go a little crazy. i look around for a nurse. then grab my phone.
the big screen is turned up super loud. as usual.
she tells me to be quiet and points at the movie.
an old black and white. screwball comedy, circa 1938.
she says ‘hush!’ then puts her finger to her lips
just in case i don’t get the message.
my daughter, serene at 25, gives me one of her knowing looks.
‘grandma’s fine’ she says. she sits down right next to her.
side by side their faces edge toward the screen.
they laugh at the same parts. when baby surprises cary grant.
or gets a big kiss from kate hepburn.
i watch the two of them on the loveseat.
my own private screening.
heads so close together.
there’s no room for me.

mockingbird song      turning from day to dusk

 

 

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

 

First published in Frogpond.

Off Map by Monique Gagnon German

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

We took a wrong turn
somewhere near Mobile
where the pretty roads preened
glistening with upkeep
and cops sat visible
under storm clouds and sun
inconceivably bold between thickets
almost every hundred feet.
We marked their saddle-shoe
insistence on old-fashioned rules
with our slowing speed. You say maybe
rehab is what you need as your eyes
keep trying to leap through the sunroof
and your hands shake
trapped squirrels
near the windows,
wishing they had wings.

Before now, we’ve never arrived
together in one conversation.
We pull over, here:
side of the road
hours oozing as we sit on a bank
overlooking water lilies
that calmly snake the unmapped lake
we found but cannot name.
We listen to hidden frogs bellowing yells
between crickets’ high pitched Kreeees.

After 30 minutes of not speaking
you ask, Are we there yet?
And we both erupt, laughing
at our utter lostness. I say, No,
between dwindling chuckles,
grabbing your sleeve but,
Maybe we are finally
at the start line,
is what I think.

 

 

If you were looking for it, you’d find Monique Gagnon German’s poetry and fiction in over 30 journals/anthologies including: Rosebud, California Quarterly, Tampa Review, Off the Coast, Califragile, and The Wayfarer. Her flash-fiction and short stories have been featured in: Kalliope, A Journal of Women’s Literature & Art, The MacGuffin, and Adelaide Literary Review. Monique is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry. Website for Monique: http://moniquegagnongerman.webs.com/

 

Europe as a Queen Map. Artist Unknown. 

Mad Money by Sharon Lask Munson

Boy and girl sitting at table at soda shop

Dad would slip a few coins
into my Mother of Pearl evening bag,
money socked away for an emergency—
a quarter, a few dimes, some nickels,
next to the lipstick holder,
behind the powder puff.

Enough for a phone call, he’d say—
my knight, if needed
ready to slip behind the wheel
of his pink and gray Dodge,
slay the dragon.

I never called
but, oh, the security, the trust.

 

 

Sharon Lask Munson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She taught school in England, Germany, Okinawa, and Puerto Rico before driving to Anchorage, Alaska and staying for the next twenty years. She is a retired teacher, poet, coffee addict, old movie enthusiast, lover of road trips—with many published poems, two chapbooks, and one full-length book of poetry. She now lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon. She says many things motivate her to write: a mood, a memory, the smell of cooking, burning leaves, a windy day, rain, fog, something observed or overheard—and of course, imagination. She has a pin that says, “I Make Things Up.” You can find her at http://www.sharonlaskmunson.com

Of Countless Deaths by Risa Denenberg

The_Last_Message_Willian Hatherell Of Countless Deaths Risa Denenberg

Of countless deaths today,
I witnessed two. To witness
any death is to feel desperately
alive. To discern that one’s own

body lingers at the border between
here and not here. To experience
the shockwave of foreboding. To slip
into a moment of groundless grace.

And if you ask, as some do, why
I chose this vocation, this sitting
at the bedsides of the dying, I will
say, because I can. What else sustains

the private love I have for witness
is mystery, even to myself.

 

First published in slight faith, MoonPath Press.

 

 

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, including Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press, 2016) and slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018).

 

Painting, The Last Message, by William Hatherell. 

#Immigration #GunViolence: On Air, On Land, At Sea by Barbara Henning

double_flat_g_by_frogstar_23-dbly1sf

—when surfing in 28 degree water—or stuck in traffic—for 63 hours a year—your brain freezes—your chin gets stiff—no angry mobs in Tehran—shouting “Death to America”— No McDonald’s in Tehran—instead, a homegrown Mash Donald——dreaming—of a woman with blonde hair—chin length—at a restaurant table—with a younger dejected bully—hey, don’t worry—she says looking down at him—I’ll let you see em later—he drops his head—a sad puppy—so sad—so horrible—when the phone rings—we all wake up—to headlines with his name—oh no—and they’re just not true—he says—everyone must love me—digital twitter talk—can’t be recaptured—and you can’t bury it—it’s out there—scattered in air, on land, at sea—North Africa to Europe—Seawatch reports—2400 migrants rescued—four children dead—
(26 Oct 2016)

First published in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

 

Painting Double Flat G by Jenn Zed. Used by Permission. 

Red Dragonfly by Debbie Hall

glitch_3_by_frogstar_23-dc8qdcs.png

You emerge
from the dark
of my tiny pond
in the heart
of summer,
in the heat
of morning,
air brittle
and crackling.

You witness
with thousands
of eyes the world
break apart.
Your body
is the color
of blood lost
and remade,
your glassine
wings fragile
windows in flight.

Tell me,
is it sufficient
simply to sit
and marvel
at your existence
in these dark
and frenzied times?

 

First published in What Light I Have by Debbie Hall (Main Street Rag Books).

Red Dragonfly Debbie Hall photo by Jeevan Jose

Debbie Hall is a psychologist and writer whose poetry has appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, A Year in Ink, Serving House Journal, Sixfold, Tuck Magazine, Poetry24,Bird’s Thumb, Poetry Super Highway and other journals. She has work upcoming in an AROHO anthology. Her essays have appeared on NPR (This I Believe series), in USD Magazine, and the San Diego Union Tribune. She received an honorable mention in the 2016 Steve Kowit Poetry Prize and completed her MFA at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Debbie is the author of the poetry collection, What Light I Have (2018, Main Street Rag Books).

 

Painting, Glitch, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. Red Dragonfly photograph by Jeevan Jose, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Autumn Poems by Trivarna Hariharan

John_Atkinson_Grimshaw_-_Evening_Glow_Autumn poems by Trivarna Hariharan-_Google_Art_Project

Sonata

Alone
by my shadows—

I yearn
for the silence with

which
evening birds laugh.

Sleepless

on an autumn night—
a cicada tosses back and forth
our tree’s old arms.

Nurturance

Autumn winds
understand the tenderness

with which to touch
flowers that can no longer

bloom.

Nocturne

In her mouth—
a nightingale holds

flowers as tender
as times long gone

by.

Trampled

by children not more
than three years old—

an autumn’s maple
withers at our window-
sill.

 

 

Trivarna Hariharan is a student of English Literature from India. She has authored There Was Once A River Here (Les Editions du Zaporogue), The Necessity of Geography (Flutter Press) and Letters I Never Sent (Writers Workshop, Kolkata). Her poems appear or are forthcoming from Right Hand Pointing, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Third Wednesday, Otoliths, Peacock Journal, Across the Margin, Front Porch Review, and others. In October 2017, Calamus Journal nominated her poem for a Pushcart Prize. She has served as an editor-in-chief at Inklette, and a poetry editor for Corner Club Press. Besides writing, she learns the Electronic Keyboard, and has completed her 4th Grade in the instrument from Trinity College of Music, London.

 

Painting by John Atkinson Grimshaw.

#Mountains: Cori’s Barn by Joe Cottonwood

800px-Cori's Barn Joe Cottonwood Albert_Bierstadt_-_Swiss_Mountain_Cabin

Cute, blond, plucky, oh so lucky,
an early employee of Facebook,
Cori hires me to build a house of glass
with a grand deck for sunsets, fine wine
on this hilltop first settled by the gold miner,
hardscrabble, hairy (see this old photo?)
not so lucky. Long gone.

We scrape the squalid cabin but
Cori asks me to restore the barn,
boards bleached as sunshine does,
silver-gray with fuzz. “Like you,”
she says with charming dimple.

At this barn beside a sapling redwood
the San Gregorio stagecoach would stop
twice each day while horses, sweaty,
took water from this spring
(like me, I might say).

Timbers hewn by hand, by broadax
(see the strokes?) now sag.
Square nails rust. Moss covers the roof
except where goats ate shingles.
Walls lean downhill until stopped,
braced for the next millennia
by the Sequoia sempervirens
feeding on sourdough bone
(see the tumbled tombstone?).

Old miner, too early
found paradise.

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Painting by Albert Bierstadt.

#Mountains: A New Time by Xe M. Sánchez

A New Time Xe M Sanchez Jenn Zed the_place_promised_in_our_early_days___2_by_frogstar_23-dc3p883.png

A New Time, Translation from Asturian by the author:

Now, we think
that the mountains
are only a good place
for tourism
-or climbing-.
Earlier mountains were
the home
of the ancient gods
who governed
the life of the men.
Modern power
has descended
for some time now
from the summits
towards the valley.

 

Original text:

 

Tiempu Nuevu

Agora talantamos
que les montañes
namái son un llugar
afayadiegu
pa facer turismu
-o alpinismu-.
Anantes yeren
el llar
de los vieyos dioses
que gobernaben
la vida de los homes.
El poder modernu
amiyó abenayá
dende les cumes
al valle.

 

 

Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He received his Ph.D degree in History from the University of Oviedo in 2016, he is an anthropologist, and he also studied Tourism and three masters (History / Protocol / Philately and Numismatic). He has published Escorzobeyos (2002), Les fueyes tresmanaes d’Enol Xivares (2003), Toponimia de la parroquia de Sobrefoz. Ponga (2006), Llue, esi mundu paralelu (2007), Les Erbíes del Diañu (E-book: 2013, Paperback: 2015), Cróniques de la Gandaya (E-book, 2013), El Cuadernu Prietu (2015) in the Asturian language, and several publications in journals and reviews in Asturies, USA, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, India, Italy, England and Canada.

 

Painting, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

#GunViolence: They Took the Guns by Buffy Shutt

23 ways january colorized

They took the guns.
In one night the children cleaned out
Our closets, our drawers, our lock boxes.
Scoured the police stations and the virtual stores,
Fled like animals, absconding with the action.

None too young or too small
To carry the guns
On their backs, over their heads
Across their forearms, stuffed into waistbands,
Zipped into backpacks, some with dangling charms.

They had badgered us until exhausted,
They turned into animals.
As one, the herd dropped the guns,
Clattering, crisscrossed into a sandy altar.
Littering our shore with dead-shiny obsidian.

Shot hot from a rifle this herd joins
The dragonflies, the turtles, the wildebeests,
The zooplankton swarms.
Heedless of the thousands and thousands of miles ahead
Theirs a desperate gamble.

The children forfeited their human form to start over.
They wait for us, these cagey animals
To surrender, to sacrifice our breath,
To sink forgotten into this riddled hill,
This ash-heap of cruel and casual penalty.

 

 

Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.

 

Original photograph by Fibonacci Blue.

#Immigration: Aunt Molly by Tamara Madison

Aunt Molly Tamara Madison

When cossacks torched the town,
one pulled Malka from her carriage,
moved to rip her apart until he recognized
the face of his neighbor in Malka’s mother;
he apologized, placed her in her mother’s
arms and scurried into the smoky night.
Her father had seen what was coming,
packed up his seven languages and sailed
to America. Soon the family joined him,
leaving behind the country that rejected them,
their culture, their faith. They left their land
of cypress and palm with its glittering
Black Sea, and landed in a larger world
of cypress and palm where sea was ocean,
the language an edifice to climb upon
and conquer; their religion expendable
at last, they were free in their new lives.
Now my grandfather could spread garlic
on his bread in peace, no one seemed to care
what their last name was and his sister Malka
was able to grow old and tell me, “Remember,
dear, the Bible was written by a bunch of men”
and no god came to strike her dead.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

She Says Stalker/He Says Fan by Alexis Rhone Fancher

Juan_Gris_-_Still_Life_with_Guitar

“If you can’t be free, be a mystery.” – Rita Dove, ‘Canary.’

She’s a singed torch song, a broken chord, the slip-shadow between superstar and the door. She’s that long stretch of longing riding shotgun from nowhere to L.A., a bottle of Jack Daniels snug between her thighs, always some fresh loser at the wheel. She’s the Zippo in your darkness, a glimmer of goddess in your god-forsaken life, her voice a rasp, a whisky-tinged caress. She gets you, and you know the words to all her songs, follow her from dive bar to third-rate club clapping too loudly, making sure she makes it home. She’s as luckless in love as you are, star-crossed, the pair of you, (in your dreams). If only we could choose who we love! Tonight the bartender pours your obsession one on the house, dims the lights in the half-empty room as she walks on stage, defenseless, but for that 0018 rosewood Martin she cradles in her lap like a child. If you ask nicely, she’ll end with the song you request night after night, about the perils of unrequited love. You’ll blurt out your worship into her deaf ear, while her fingers strum your forearm and her nails break your skin. Give the lady whatever she wants, you’ll tell the barkeep. Like that’s even possible.

 

First published in The San Pedro River Review.

 

 

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

 

Painting, Still Life with Guitar, by Juan Gris.

#Mountains: Mimosas and Mine Ponies (A Sense of Place) by Wren Tuatha

E1C95630-A043-11E8-85C0-0A76DF4BF32A

1. The Fenceline

The mimosa of my childhood
grew through the fenceline,
a swelling possession,
as if it were Columbus, claiming
us and our neighbors.
I would ignore the teetering swing set
and pluck middle sections out of the leaves
to make lanky birds, phoenixes
that could clear the fence but chose to stay
in my mind garden,
flapping and bobbing
at the end of my arms
like carnival airplane rides.

Matchbox cars pulled up to mimosa root houses,
Borrowers and Hobbits.
I made fences out of kindling.
The matchbox cars would arrive home and drive away,
mapping a sense of place.

2. Mine Pony Farm

Her dad left her an Appalachian
slope, Mine Pony Farm, she called it,
after the sturdy servants who made it profitable once.
Now she rolled downhill with
the water, dogs and copperheads,
keeping ahead of mining company
snipers who shot to scare
her off, even as crews dug the mountain out
from under her.

“You and I,” she said, “we carry a sense of place.”

3. Seven River Crossings, Three Ways In

Seven trips, seven friends carried each others’ loads,
plywood and board feed, pillows and rice,
down into the deep Ozark valley.

They had park permission.
They would stake their claim
miles off any pavement, in a fold within
a fold of the state land.

There were three ways in:
A two hour road, seven river crossings, drivable
a couple of months of the year;
A two hour climb down one mountain;
A five hour hike down the other.

Each built a house. Hippie blends of old
and new, found logs, barn windows, satellite dishes.
Some stayed year round, some would come and go,
keeping jobs and family ties.

As years circled like buzzards, as kids, once dirty-kneed, turned
away to college, the friends faded off or left in some huff.
Listening, circling decisions, had always been tough.

A woman and a man she’d recently met had Brigadoon
to themselves. They were bent and knotted from planting,
dragging and climbing.

They would stop and allow my visit, for the magazine article.

 

These poems, first published in Belle Reve Journal, are part of an upcoming book length cycle, Mimosas and Mine Ponies (A Sense of Place).

 

 

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Pirene’s Fountain, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. Her chapbook, Thistle and Brilliant, is upcoming from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Even on the Sunniest Days by Kenneth Pobo

even on the sunniest days kenneth pobo photo by alejandro mallea

Riding on his underwater tractor,
Poseidon wonders why
Zeus snarls so much. Sometimes,
just for laughs, he creeps up
behind Zeus, runs him down
with a tidal wave. Zeus screams
some rather unholy curses.

It takes centuries to dry out—
something Poseidon can’t do,
wearing watery overalls
even on the sunniest days.

 

 

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His forthcoming chapbook of haiku and tanka will appear from Yavanika Press. It’s called Threads.

 

Photo by Alejandro Mallea.

That Mother by Roberta Beary

John_Collier_-_Reclining_Woman that mother roberta beary

My daughter is watching Frozen with friend.
I am cleaning out the linen closet.
Here is my stash of perfume samples from Bloomingdales.
I put them in a little basket.

I want to be another kind of mother.
Who comes home and climbs into bed.
Wearing nothing but sample perfume from Bloomingdales.
I want to be that mother in the Long Bar at Raffles.
Sipping the perfect Singapore Sling.

Frozen is almost over.
I take my Singapore Sling and sit near my daughter and her friend.
They open all the packets of perfume.
My daughter gets to keep the little basket.

 

 

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love(Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years(Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

 

Painting Reclining Woman by John Collier. 

#Immigration: Ever-Shifting by Barbara Henning

wikimedia commons Barbara Henning Ever-Shifting

—on the F—a woman scrolls, swipes—and eats—bits of pastry—out of a brown bag—her round face—surrounded—by shoulder-length—greasy hair—behind me—a little boy to his friend—I’m scared of the president—that’s so sad—I say outloud—I’m not afraid—the woman beside me says—I voted for him—do you regret it now?—Nope—some Mexicans held up my friend—now because of him—just because of him—352 Mexicans—have been removed—from Staten Island—and I’m happy—gone—swiped—away—mothers, fathers, children—some get off—some get on—a young man—in a tee-shirt and running shorts—stares into his cell—a man with a black beard—gold colored shawl—switches the screen—hundreds of Muslim men bowing—over his shoulder—I try to catch the name—of the Imam—over his shoulder—the ever-shifting—wall between us—one after another—we take the escalator—up and out—at Broadway Lafayette—scrolling through—our options— (24 July 2017)

 

First published in Journal of Poetics Research.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

Demographics by Monique Gagnon German

Demographics Monique Gagnon German Guatemala_city_aerial_night_b

All of the roads in Love
are spirals, switchbacks
climbing mountains
that overlook dwarfed
spruce trees, tiny rooftops
and threads of chimney smoke.

On crisp days,
far on the horizon
the golden lakes of Philosophy
can be seen shimmering
like hammered pewter
reflecting the sun gleaming autumn
like a mirage until each
lake seems to merge
into one endless offering.

From the highest roads
of Love, you might see
a swimmer or two
the size of fleas or mites
diving, splashing,
rippling the surface of
Philosophy’s heart,
unless of course the clouds
roll in from the western shore
of the island of Doubt,
where a metropolis stands
and everyone except a few
unconditioned folks
live on buses and subways
darting to and from the theater
of work and happy hour
where the servings are heaped
onto paper plates shaped
like the state of Hope, making
the inhabitants more
complacent and full
so that fewer and fewer each year
can even think of escape
anymore without immediately
forgetting why and what for.

But over in Trust,
while none of the roads
are completely paved,
everyone knows
it won’t be long
before they are done.
Brilliant, inspired civil engineers
will connect them into one
long street named Patience,
which will have no rules,
no stop signs, no lights.
Everyone will yield
to others as they come
arriving at all hours
from the fringes
of Love, Philosophy,
Hope and Doubt,
arriving by minivan, SUV,
motorcycle, and car,
headlights on
no matter morning,
noon or night.

In Trust
the population is still small,
there is unlimited room
for growth.

 

 

If you were looking for it, you’d find Monique Gagnon German’s poetry and fiction in over 30 journals/anthologies including: Rosebud, California Quarterly, Tampa Review, Off the Coast, Califragile, and The Wayfarer. Her flash-fiction and short stories have been featured in: Kalliope, A Journal of Women’s Literature & Art, The MacGuffin, and Adelaide Literary Review. Monique is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee for poetry. Website for Monique: http://moniquegagnongerman.webs.com/

#Immigration: Mother Tongue by Tricia Knoll

mother tongue tricia knoll photo byJoeLeMerou

He told me he speaks Eritrean,
my cab driver, as he gives advice
by cell to his new roommate,
arrived, in despair of finding work.

I hear a thick, slick muscle wad
clicking of a glick sound,
the phantom of a Spanish vowel roll,
some impatience and much caution.

Raindrops on my side window fork
like sycamore branches at the quarry,
my through-vision to a rundown
neighborhood of convenience stores and bars.

My father wanted me to learn
French, maybe Latin. Not German.
His parents fled the Prussian draft.
Learn, he said, a language without his shame

of run-together hooligans of a history,
thugs and ash. My memory twists
on words I overheard living with him
like wringing out sopping towels,

pinning them up to dry, the return
to utility a matter of dry time.
The driver listens to his cousin. We merge
onto a clogged freeway. He taps the wheel.

Some family words I’ve lost, a database
named forgotten. The tires
plash a puddle. My tongue pushes
my top front teeth.

My open mouth accepts tears
that branch like drizzle on this window.
There is a funeral
at the end of this.

 

 

Tricia Knoll is a poet just learning how to live in Vermont after moving from Oregon in June. Her poetry appears widely in journals and anthologies and has received 7 Pushcart nominations. Her most recent collection is How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House, 2018) Website: triciaknoll.com

 

Photograph by Joe LeMerou.

Avihs || Vishnu by Yuan Changming

Riding on a Flying Carpet, Viktor Vasnetsov 1880

Avihs : Vishnu by Yuan

Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, the 2018 Naji Naaman’s Literary (Honour) Prize, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1,449 others worldwide.

 

Painting by Viktor Kasnetsov.

#Immigration: May 10, 1934, Berlin by Donna Hilbert

Wolfgang_Stocks_erste_Ausstellung_Berlin_1934_(WS14)

“. . . the gradual rise of Nazi Germany, which somehow took the laissez-faire, un-radicalized citizens of Berlin by surprise.”
Benjamin Lindsay, Vanity Fair

Aunts clad in dark dresses and pearls
and dapper uncles in fine worsted suits,
gather at the table laden for pleasure:
flowers, champagne, frosted cake,
and a crystal decanter of sherry.
Father is poised to offer a toast,
Mother, in profile, appears morose,
but the absent daughter smiles
from the photograph placed
at the center of plenty.
May 10, 1934, Berlin, beloved girl
gone off to Palestine, alone.
How will she celebrate her birthday?
Has she made friends?
Surely, she’s lost her mind, leaving
such comfort, love, and family behind.

 

First published in Gravity: New & Selected Poems, Tebot Bach, 2018

 

 

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal, Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at http://www.donnahilbert.com

 

Photograph is of Exhibition of Wolfgang Stock. Author unknown.

Conquest by Patricia Nelson

Conquest by Patricia Nelson Painting by Samuel Walters

Once it is done, the women live in the surges,
the dark that changes like a tide
as if refusing to demolish or decide.
They know the fall is a pact with the shore.

The colors here are crossed and banging,
old carpets hung among their dusts.
The air and loss around them visible as flour,
swatted by those whose time and thought don’t matter.

Each bolt of cloth is retroactive, angry.
It falls downward, opens crookedly
the repeating blue-white lightning
and the thought of the shore.

They who are angry grow clumsy,
large, black, raucous birds
who rock on bent legs
in the brown stubble.

They call and sing to the lost way,
the wind to carry us all intact.
They remember the shore,
the shore revised with knowledge.

 

 

Patricia Nelson is a retired attorney who has worked with the Activist group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her most recent book is Spokes of Dream or Bird, Poetic Matrix Press.

 

Painting by Samuel Walters.

Before World by Risa Denenberg

salinger_profile_2_by_frogstar_23-d8jxrrj.png

Now the earth was formless and void,
and darkness was over the surface of the deep. –Genesis 1:2

Birds don’t sing.
Jazz don’t swing.
Bees don’t hive.
Men don’t jive.

Life swims before it flies.
Life crawls before it leaps.

Before houses, men don’t build prisons.
Before fences, coyotes don’t kill chickens.
And then earth is partitioned.

Trees teach birds to perch.
Birds teach frogs to jump.
Frogs teach girls to skip rope.
Girls teach words to sing.

Songs sing before sin.
Sins teach women to pray.
And then prayers teach hate.

Before prayer,
Women aren’t spoils of war.
Black men don’t swing from trees.
Landmines don’t amputate boys.
Kids don’t drown in the sea.

alan_kurdi_lifeless_body 2 colored

First published in slight faith, MoonPath Press.

 

 

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published three chapbooks and three full length collections of poetry, including Whirlwind @ Lesbos (Headmistress Press, 2016) and slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018).

 

Painting, The Salinger Profile, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

Pearl Harbor by Sharon Lask Munson

1941-Plymouth-front

His first new car
purchased from a dealership
near Woodward and Second
on a bitter cold Saturday,
December 6, 1941.
It was an economical sedan
stripped down, two-door,
green Plymouth.

During the war years
he’d stop at bus lines, streetcar tracks,
any corner a serviceman waited
with a thumb extended.

He’d drive downtown,
pick up sailors, marines,
war weary soldiers home on leave

use his prized gas rations
for those fighting—
drive them to a mother’s arms,
back to barracks, or to a local USO

contributing in the only way he knew
for owning the last car sold in Detroit
until the men came home.

 

 

Sharon Lask Munson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She taught school in England, Germany, Okinawa, and Puerto Rico before driving to Anchorage, Alaska and staying for the next twenty years. She is a retired teacher, poet, coffee addict, old movie enthusiast, lover of road trips—with many published poems, two chapbooks, and one full-length book of poetry. She now lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon. She says many things motivate her to write: a mood, a memory, the smell of cooking, burning leaves, a windy day, rain, fog, something observed or overheard—and of course, imagination. She has a pin that says, “I Make Things Up.” You can find her at http://www.sharonlaskmunson.com

Willow Poem by William Carlos Williams

Claude_Monet,_Water-Lily_Pond_and_Weeping_Willow

It is a willow when summer is over,
a willow by the river
from which no leaf has fallen nor
bitten by the sun
turned orange or crimson.
The leaves cling and grow paler,
swing and grow paler
over the swirling waters of the river
as if loath to let go,
they are so cool, so drunk with
the swirl of the wind and of the river—
oblivious to winter,
the last to let go and fall
into the water and on the ground.

 

 

William Carlos Williams, 1883 – 1963.

 

Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow, Claude Monet

#Mountains: Two Poems by Winston Plowes

Digging In

The hushed maelstrom of dissent
from a mountain forced
inside out like a sour stomach.

Numb under its crust.
Blind, homeless
and pocketed by picks

The moon explores
this new wound
Where water laps the bones
Where silence sets
in a never-ending echo.

 

 

Time Stack

You live a little
You die a little

On the Bersham Tip
I could see his dot

Sliding like Sundays
down the rills of spoil

The motorway hums
less in the evening

Same all the way through
Like my simple life

Flowers fight through cracks
This is not my Wales

 

Both poems first published in The Black Hole Poetry Anthology – A collection of poetry against opencast mining (CreateSpace Independent Publishing).

 

 

Winston Plowes is a word artist from Mytholmroyd, Calderdale interested in surrealism, all species of art, the magic of chance operations and the personalities of cheese. His life is a mission to discover how and why the currency of words makes us love, hide, laugh, cry or dance. He teaches pupils from yr1 to degree level and regularly performs at and organises festivals and events. He has adopted over twenty typewriters that follow him round the country. Recent publications include Telephones, Love Hearts & Jellyfish (Electric Press 2016) and Tales from the Tachograph with Gaia Holmes (Calder Valley Poetry 2017). http://www.winstonplowes.co.uk 

 

Photograph of Bersham Colliery Bing Tip by John Haynes.

Unexpected by Martin Willitts, Jr.

_Crane_with_Setting_Sun_-_Totoya_Hokkei Unexpected Martin Willitts jr

Stubbornness must be that crane late
to leave, trying to push its large body
against strong artic headwinds.
The wings’ desire is stronger,
for what the crane will find when it lands
will be another chance to love,
where the sun practically crawls out
of the ocean, and it inquires of the crane,
will you come and join me? And it does —
but not before producing a hatchling
who will learn the art of flying, the art
of spontaneous joy, the touch of excitement.
What appears as containment is really release.

 

 

Martin Willitts, Jr. has 20 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018), and Home Coming Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).

 

Art by Hokkei Renyodo. 

#Immigration: Invasive Species by Tamara Madison

Invasive Species Tamara Madison

Father Serra brought the seeds from Spain,
scattered them behind on his northbound trek,
a path of yellow mustard to guide him back.

Now men with nozzles spray the hills to kill
foreigners like mustard plants that will
crowd the natives, invaders like ourselves

from long-ago-lands who’ve come to stay
where scattered flowers grew to light the way.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

“Things we lose are usually underneath something else.” By Alexis Rhone Fancher

dis_integration2_Jenn Zed things we lose are underneath something else Alexis Rhone Fancher

“Things we lose are usually underneath something else.” -Benette R .

1.
I dream there is hair in my food.

In the morning, my lover says, “Yes, there’s
a long hair in every dish you feed me.”

A strand of myself in every serving –
and he eats it like a condiment.

2.
“Looks like the same m.o.,”
the detective says, examining our broken
pane, bent screen. “He likes you
long-haired girls.”

3.
I find myself alone in the kitchen, eating
rice I don’t remember cooking.

4.
When was the last time we had any fun?”
my lover sighs.

5.
I mean, who are we when we
enter the Jacuzzi, and who are we
when we emerge?

6.
I dream there is food in my hair.
And gum. And a switchblade.

7.
“For the vast majority of people,”
my mother said, just before she died,
“The thing that’s going to kill you
is already on the inside.”

 

First published in decomP.

 

 

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

 

Art, Dis-Integration, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Immigration: Jannet Lorenzo at the Border Field State Park by Debbie Hall

Imperial Beach, California

Border-Fence-Opening-2017-13

There will be enough time for her scent to enter your pores,
enough time to rekindle sensation. Not nearly enough to savor it.
The rusty door will whine open, a gate between two prisons.

All that is lost will rush in like a chill, while the memory of touch
ghosts across your skin. Be ready for the cries of seabirds to catch
in your throat, their wing beats a warning:

Don’t stay too long. Be grateful for this opening between nations.
Hug, kiss and hold your mother, in that order. Follow the rules.
Believe in the future as you pull apart, even as new fences

split the earth, as zones of friendship shrink into the shadows
like thieves. Ball up the photograph of this visit in your fist if you must,
but do it gently. Tomorrow, let it unfold like a new prayer.

 

Editor’s Note: Read more about Jannet Lorenzo and the “Door of Hope” here.

Debbie Hall is a psychologist and writer whose poetry has appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, A Year in Ink, Serving House Journal, Sixfold, Tuck Magazine, Poetry24, Bird’s Thumb, Poetry Super Highway and other journals. She has work upcoming in an AROHO anthology. Her essays have appeared on NPR (This I Believe series), in USD Magazine, and the San Diego Union Tribune. She received an honorable mention in the 2016 Steve Kowit Poetry Prize and completed her MFA at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Debbie is the author of the poetry collection, What Light I Have (2018, Main Street Rag Books).

 

Photograph by Chris Stone.

#Mountains: Root of Beech by Xe M. Sánchez

Root of Beech Xe M Sanchez Hedwig Storch

Root of Beech, translated from Asturian by the author:

I am a lucky man.
My roots are nailed
in the mountains,
as the roots
of the oaks,
of the beeches
and the roots
of my ancestors.
That’s why all my poems
are made
in fog’s melancholy.
I am a lucky man.

 

Original text:

 

Raigañu de Carbayu

Ero un home afortunáu.
Los mios raigaños
tan espitaos
nes montañes,
comu los raigaños
del carbayu,
de les fayes,
y los raigaños
de los mios antepasaos.
Poro tolos mios poemes
tan fechos cola señaldá
de la borrina.
Ero un home afortunáu.

 

 

Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He received his Ph.D degree in History from the University of Oviedo in 2016, he is an anthropologist, and he also studied Tourism and three masters (History / Protocol / Philately and Numismatic). He has published  Escorzobeyos (2002), Les fueyes tresmanaes d’Enol Xivares (2003), Toponimia de la parroquia de Sobrefoz. Ponga (2006), Llue, esi mundu paralelu (2007), Les Erbíes del Diañu (E-book: 2013, Paperback: 2015), Cróniques de la Gandaya (E-book, 2013), El Cuadernu Prietu (2015) in Asturian the language, and several publications in journals and reviews in Asturies, USA, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, India, Italy, England and Canada.

 

Photograph by Hedwig Storch. 

#Mountains: Catamount, Late Summer by Joe Cottonwood

Cattamount, Late Summer Joe Cottonwood 1

Come with me. Here’s
the secret trail. At the edge
of the potato field, crouch through
the barbed wire fence. Enter
the maple forest, the green oven.
Bake, slowly rise like a gingerbread figure.
Release rivulets of sweat.
This is nothing, the foothill.

Listen: the purr, the burble, the rush,
the small canyon of Catamount
Creek. Remove boots, splash yourself.
Splash me. Cup water in hands
to pour over the face. Let water dribble
inside the shirt, drip to the shorts.
Relish the shock of cold
against hot parts.

Work uphill now, at last
out of the trees into the land of
wild blueberry. Pluck, taste
tiny nut-like explosions of blue,
so intense, so different from store-bought.
Gorge, let fingers and tongue
turn garish. Fill pockets.

Climb with me now among rocky
outcrops like stair steps to the Funnel,
a crevice where from below
you push my bottom, then from above
I pull your hand. Emerge to a view
of valley, farmland, wrinkles of mountains
like folds of flesh. How far we’ve come.
This is the false top.

Catch your breath, embrace the vista,
then follow me in a scramble up bare granite,
farther than you’d think, no trail marked
on the endless stone but simply
navigate toward the opposite of gravity,
upward, to at last a bald dome
chilled by blasts of breeze.

At the top, sit with me, our backs against
the windbreak of a boulder.
Empty your pockets of blueberries. Nibble,
share — above the hawks,
among the blue chain of peaks
beyond your outstretched tired feet.
Appreciate your muscles
in exhaustion and exhilaration.
We have made love to this mountain.

Hear a sound like a sigh from waves of
alpine grass in the fading warmth
of a lowering sun. Rest.
After this, the return
is so easy.

First published in Plum Tree Tavern.

Cattamount, Late Summer Joe Cottonwood 2

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photographs by Joe Cottonwood. Used by permission.

#GunViolence: Twenty-Three Ways of Looking at January by Buffy Shutt

by Fibonacci Blue Buffy Shutt 23 ways January

I bought a gun today and placed
it in the hand of a ninth grader in Kentucky.
A reporter rushing to the school learned
her son was the shooter.

Eleven school shootings, twenty-three
winter days. Cafeteria, parking lot, school bus,
high school, college. Dallas, New Orleans,
Winston-Salem, San Bernardino, Seattle.
We track them—if we do —on the chyron
gliding across our screens with other scores.

My neighbor comes over this morning.
She has miscalculated, needs
a gun for a Nebraska elementary school.
I hand her one before we have our coffee.

 

 

Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.

 

Photograph by Fibonacci Blue.

#Immigration: The Wall in Question by Michael H. Brownstein

Algodones_sand-dune-fence

A wall built on tumbleweed, spit, grasshopper larvae
Help us, people–help us understand—help us visualize–
I understand none of this. Is there a way I can know?
A wall built of bone marrow mortar and dog piss,
Violent thought and disconnection, the rapid fire
Of bullet cored brick. Help us understand where
This river enters the realm, where this river empties
Its blood to the valleys of snow, how the impact
Of dour men with raccoon hat hair suck away the core.

First published in New Verse.

 

 

Bio: Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

 

Photograph by United States Department of Homeland Security.

 

 

War Journal by Mary McCarthy

Teodor Axentowiczwar journal mary mccarthy

Holding the brittle pages
Carefully
I follow your terrible
Journey
From Omaha beach
To Czechoslovakia
Through blood and ice
Death the sentence
Before you
And the sentence
Behind you
Death the work of your hands
Death coming for you
Stranger to stranger
The soft flesh
The sweet mouth
The eyes always open
Caught
In the machinery
Of war
The nightmares you won’t lose
Sixty years and more
Still trying to pull us
Down into the foxhole
Out of the line of fire

 

 

Mary McCarthy has always been a writer but spent most of her working life as a registered Nurse. She has had work appearing in many on line and print journals, including Third Wednesday, Gnarled Oak, the Ekhprastic Review and Earth’s Daughters. She has an electronic chapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis Magazine online.

 

Painting by Teodor Axentowicz.

#Immigration; #GunViolence: Two Cherita by Peter Jastermsky

2 Cheritas Peter Jastermsky photo by Russ

laughing their way
across the grass

a pair of quail

for a moment
we, too, feel at home
in this country

 

 

bullets fly

heads and flags
lower

how little rain
sinks in
before the next storm

 

 

Peter Jastermsky writes Japanese short-form works. His writing has appeared in many journals, including Failed Haiku, Haibun Today, The Cherita, and KYSO Flash. Born in Connecticut, Peter and his family live in Southern California, where he works as a licensed counselor.

 

Original photograph by Russ.

#Immigration #GunViolence: String Ball by Barbara Henning

e_11___loop_c_by_frogstar_23-d9y7mob.png

for Nevine Michaan and Charles Blow

—the body’s organized—on a square—so says Yogi Nevine—I walk around Tompkins Square—all four corners—surely this is the center—of the universe—the goal in life—should be joy—in Larung Gar—the Chinese—are tearing apart—Tibetan monastic—dwellings—plan your life—like a chess game—move analytically—with intent—it’s very practical—the way to attain joy—even for civilians—trapped in Aleppo—with artillery shelling overhead—defeat in life—is bitterness—buck up—writes Charles Blow—it’s over—the bully’s—in the white house—for the time being—alt-right is not—a computer command—they’re a batch of fanatical racists—if you’re happy—you’ll help everyone—if you’re miserable—you won’t help anyone—in Shuafat—a refugee camp—in Jerusalem—Baha helps the orphans—work, find direction, survive—then a drive-by—ten bullets—one of the children—will surely—take his place—you can follow—fake news sites—from one to another—unravel the molecular structure—of ribosomes—a tangled mess of rubber bands—and coiled wires—a new pattern—of income equality—life expectancy in the US—declines slightly—be careful—it’s like a string ball—if we keep going around—in the same direction—we will surely unravel— (1 Dec 2016)

First published in Rascal.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

 

Painting Loop by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

Califragile Editor Wren Tuatha to Be Published by Finishing Line Press

Wren in light sequins cr

Our thanks to Finishing Line Press editor Leah Maines and all her staff. Our editor Wren Tuatha‘s manuscript, Thistle and Brilliant, is a semi-finalist in FLP’s 2018 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. The book will be published by FLP.

Thistle and Brilliant is a collection of Wren’s poems poking at and chewing on attraction, requited and not, from a bi perspective, more the nervous movements, rather than the still-portrait-smile of love. Stay tuned for reading dates and ordering information!

Feelin’ Uneasy, Etta James by Caroline Zimmer

feelin uneasy etta james caroline zimmer

Restless.
Menstrual.
Orgasm.
Pure moans,
each to their own
God.
Feelin’ uneasy,
thick with wine,
tearful
fine
vapor hung
over the dirty sheets.
Blind-eyed nipples brush
the bedroom mantle,
cold a moment,
vague shocks down the back,
the pain
of a ghost fist balled
round my heart.
Could I leave him
with one last estranged fuck?
Soul says let me out.
Soul says no girl.
Sobs,
beyond species or sex.
His head
on my chest—
how long do I get
to weep
before he turns over
to sleep,
turns the raw song off?
Instead, ice
in the bed,
melt,
dry out.
Etta, Christ,
I’ll just remember
your voice
thrusting the summer air back.

 

 

Caroline Zimmer’s poetry, as well as her visual art, has appeared in The Maple Leaf Rag, Umbra and Unspoken magazine. She is a lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans, where she lives with her Doberman, Iris and her fiancé, fellow poet, David Rowe. Caroline tends bar and reads tarot cards out of her home.

Father Trilogy by Morgan Driscoll

Father Trilogy photo and poem by Morgan Driscoll

I The Not Fair

You were
so angry in the evening,
in the twilight with the carnival colors. Your
eyes were wet, cheeks, still dry,
hands on your hips, unsure of all but intent.
Everyone else got to ride the Cobra twice.
You didn’t care it was cold, I was tired,
we only had two tickets, and needed three.
All you saw
was tyranny.

II Last Call

There were splinters,
and dock wood slippery
from deep waters, mountain cold.
There were the boys,
they moved without our fear.
Their joys circled jumping, plunging, sprints.
Circled like snows on the ridges holding the blues,
the sapphires, lazulines,
the forest tree greens, which might as well be blue:
they melted lake to hill to sky.
There was danger, but there was laughter.
And there was some peace
between us.
There was a day in July.

III Found and Lost

I found your kite this morning,
the one we flew that day at Ambler farm.
The one you flew. I watched.
You tried to coax the wind to work with arms
and legs, and passion. I watched you do it.
I still can smell the grass I sat on while
I didn’t help;
you asked a dozen times but I was anxious for
some e-mail or a call.
Remember how the fresh cut clippings clung
onto my phone?
Remember I said the kite could be repaired?

 

 

Morgan Driscoll is a long time commercial artist, looking to express himself in some other way than selling widgets. Poetry seemed the least commercial, and most under the radar way he could think of. So far it has been a satisfying, but obscure journey. You can find his work in The Amethyst Review, Humanist Magazine, and Mused – The BellaOnLine Literary Review.

 

Photograph by Morgan Driscoll. Used by permission.

#Immigration: Broken English by Daniel B. Summerhill

nffmw_1_by_frogstar_23-dc3q53k.png

Ahmed’s English breaks
after each word,
a slight pause
of interrogation
as if discovering
each term mechanically.
Perhaps
it’s his tongue rebelling
against colonialism,
the way it spills
its discourse
and expects you to pretend
there isn’t mud trudged
through your home or
front door left open.
What happens to the mouth
as it sculpts
a new language?
As the tongue finds
new ways of expressing
its distaste
for subjugation.
How each vowel becomes
malignant. How it breaks
English un
evenly.
How Ahmed pronounces
his name
wrong now.

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, CA. Currently an MFA candidate at Boston’s Pine Manor College, Daniel has performed and taught guest workshops and lectures throughout the U.S, Europe, and South Africa. He has published two collections of poems, Crafted and Brown Boys on Stoops, and has been asked to perform at Ted Talk and Def Jam Poetry with Danny Simmons. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Pine Hills Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and The Voice among others.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

My Dad’s Lunch Box by Donna Hilbert

450px-Electrical_workers_at_work

My dad climbs down
the telephone pole,
stretches out under a pepper tree,
opens his lunch box:
black metal,
substantial like a vault,
or a government building
in a Balkan country.
Under its dome
wire arms hold
a Thermos of coffee.
On the bottom floor,
Vienna sausage on a bed
of mayonnaise, white bread.
For dessert, butterscotch
cream-center cookies.
Dad unwraps a sandwich, eats.
He pours coffee into the cup
his Thermos lid makes,
dips a cookie, watches it bloat,
then holds his lips to the rim,
slips the sweet bits
into his mouth.

I like to think
he savors pleasure
before he stands
the box on one end
touches a forefinger to his tongue,
his damp finger tip
gleaning crumbs
to feed the sparrows who wait
in slender leaves.
Then, one foot
over the other,
he climbs the pole again.

 

First published in Transforming Matter, PEARL Editions.

 

 

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal, Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at http://www.donnahilbert.com

 

Photograph by Akinkevinphy.

#GunViolence: At the Movies (Habemus Papam) by Anne Harding Woodworth

The_Century_16_theater_in_Aurora_CO_-_Shooting_location

It’s a quiet one, We Have a Pope,
the one about the pope
who doesn’t want to be pope.

Quiet, yes—up to the clap of thunder.
The pope’s in for a downpour,
and yet sun radiates over Rome.

*
Turns out the thunder is my own, our own,
in the night sky outside the theatre.
Reality has infiltrated fiction,

the way real and unreal blurred
over the Aurora, Colorado audience,
into a chaos of bodies on the screen

and bodies in the rows and aisles.
Screams, gun blasts, swat teams,
sirens, smoke surged

from behind the scrim and in front of it.
Real blood shone as rose-bright
as any artful wound in a studio.

More thunder. There’s no telling
the difference between what’s out there
and in here. Mindless celluloid holds up.

*
Behold the antihero, as Zeus bombards,
wounds, kills, and shakes walls, sides,
front and rear, seats of velvet,

until no one on earth knows
what projection is, who the holy father is,
and whether we have one or not.

Memorial_outside_Aurora_Century_movie_theater_where_shooting_occurred

 

Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry and four chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook is The Last Gun, an excerpt of which won the COG Poetry Award, judged by A. Van Jordan. It has subsequently been animated and can be seen at http://www.cogzine.com/watch. Harding Woodworth’s poetry, essays, and reviews appear in the U.S. and abroad in print and on line, such as in Poet Lore, TriQuarterly, Crannog, and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She lives in Washington, D.C. where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Photographs of scenes following Aurora theater shooting by Algr.

While I’m not familiar by T.m. Lawson

pagan_october_2_by_frogstar_23-dbmmn4o.png

My skin, its color, the textured Spanish of eyes
My skin, pitted and poxed
My king of snapping teeth and blood gum
My king of whips and chains and cliche gaped asshole
My king of breathlessness and choking
(oh those kings I smothered in red rooms,
not mine, the light hiding my dimensions)
I’m not familiar. A familiar.
And the daughter dog curled in bed with bone
And the red collar with orgasm in heart
And the bird cage shadow
And the spiked heel song
And the homeless native, night crawler in old day
And the animistic tattoos prescribed with hunger
And Hossein’s hill of a belly, the daughter-dog slept on
And the father-boyfriend who held the hair
And the mother-boyfriend who stomped on chests
And the line of fathers, railroading
And the jaws
The parrot silence
The matricide
The cock-craving
The orphan-kin
The rope
The pillow
The blinding candle
The mind fuck

 

 

T.m. Lawson is a writer and poet living in Southern California. They have been published in Los Angeles Review, Entropy Magazine, Poets.org, White Stag, The Other Journal, NILVX, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. They are a 2015 Academy of American Poets prize winner, and a 2016 Thompson Prize winner. Formerly the Poetry Editor for Angel City Review, they are now an M.F.A. student at UCSD’s Creative Writing program.

 

Painting, Pagan October, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

 

#Mountains: A Sunset Falls by Pablo Cuzco

A Sunset Falls Pablo Cuzco Vernal_Fall_Walter Siegmund

A mountain in Yosemite lets water fall,
majestically crash on rocks. Bird whistle cones,
Sequoia | tall, send message to the sky:
We are the emperors of the wild.

 

 

Pablo Cuzco is an American writer of poetry and short stories. He spent his early years in France and Germany with his family. In his teens, he traveled across America with guitar in hand, writing songs and jotting memories along the way. Now, living in the Southwest with his wife, he has time to reflect and share those stories. His works can be found at Underfoot Poetry, The Big Windows Review and on his blog, Pablo Cuzco – in My Mind’s Eye.

 

Photograph by Walter Siegmund.

Caretaker by Roberta Beary

Caretaker Roberta Beary Dove

I

florida sunshine
mother soaks up
the shade

cherry blossoms
the incessant sound
of mother’s cough

mother’s day
only the tulips
come calling

in the wheels
of mother’s chair
wet leaves

cheshire moon
mother no better
no worse

autumn moon
her brain a tangle
of white string

winter solstice
no spark of recognition
in mother’s brown eyes

blue crocus
mother will never
get better

II

rain all day
a place I cannot reach
in mother’s eyes

hospice day
a flutter of movement
in mother’s hand

resurrection sky
mother somewhere between
here and there

bone dry
mother’s hand
in mine

brief sunset
a world beyond this one
in mother’s eyes

day of blossoms
a nurse erases
mother’s name

forsythia
the funeral
unfolds

on the church steps
a mourning dove
with mother’s eyes

 

First published in Deflection.

 

 

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

 

Photograph by Moataz1997.

#Mountains: The Appalachian by Karen Silverstrim

The Appalachian by Karen Silverstrim

The hikers are tied, tight enough for stability, lose enough not to cut.

They have only ever known asphalt and city parks, breaking them in, breaking herself in. “I’ve always wanted to . . . “ is now reality. The practice with the weighted pack, the flint, the filters, the course on primitive survival and first aid. Trying to get ready, knowing preparation can only take you just so far.

This is not a journey of proof, there is no one to prove anything to anymore. It’s not a self-affirmation journey, she is already self-affirmed. This is truly just the desire to go, to climb, to be alone, people were never her forte. Nature is her salve, organized, manicured nature. Will the wild be too much, too real?

This is a journey of solitude, an attempt to get lost inside herself, inside the world, much like she would do at dinner parties, only this time for real. “You could die out there!” She is warned. She is dying in here, she thinks to herself. “If I die,” she says, “let it be on my own terms, in the arms of the trees. Grandma Gatewood did it, why can’t I?”

 

 

Karen Silverstrim lives in western New York, spending her time hiking around the Niagara Gorge and teaching history. Karen has been writing for 47 years, with publications in newspapers and literary journals in New York, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Canada.

Two Chairs by Sharon Lask Munson

two chairs sharon lask munson james katt

i

The watchmaker leans forward
in the wooden desk chair.
Lines up his tools—
drills, files, brass hammers.
He slides one last dial
into a brown mailing envelope,
blinks back weariness.

Winter’s frost painted windows
reflect a pale light.
He buttons his overcoat,
pulls on galoshes, gloves,
snaps off the overhead,
bolts the door.

He drives Woodward Avenue
crushed in bumper traffic,
a slew of workers
approaching the John Lodge Freeway
heading home.

ii

The child kneels
on a straight-back chair, coloring
as winter curls around the house.
Her landscape—emerald green grass,
sapphire sky, oversized flowers
in shades of amber, saffron, sand.

She listens for his car on the drive,
crunch of tires, spitting ice;
sprints at the sound
of his key in the lock,
rasp of the front door,

and caught in mid-flight
her ribboned braids
sweep his cold, cold cheek.

 

First published in That Certain Blue, Blue Light Press.

 

 

Sharon Lask Munson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She taught school in England, Germany, Okinawa, and Puerto Rico before driving to Anchorage, Alaska and staying for the next twenty years. She is a retired teacher, poet, coffee addict, old movie enthusiast, lover of road trips—with many published poems, two chapbooks, and one full-length book of poetry. She now lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon. She says many things motivate her to write: a mood, a memory, the smell of cooking, burning leaves, a windy day, rain, fog, something observed or overheard—and of course, imagination. She has a pin that says, “I Make Things Up.” You can find her at http://www.sharonlaskmunson.com

 

Photograph by James Katt. Used by permission. 

#Mountains: Coast Range by Joe Cottonwood

800px-VOLCANIC_ROCKS_JUT_FROM_SEA_NEAR_KING_MOUNTAIN_COASTAL_RANGE_-_NARA_-_542917

You gentle mountains
round, folded like a sleeping woman,
you stretch under baking sun,
curl beneath stars
in sheets of fog.

Your deer comb the grass,
lizards drum the dust.
A crow calls,
the sun falls.

In courtship a boy
plays a flute
answered
by quail.

 

First published in Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

 

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photograph of Shelter Cove in Humbolt County, California, by Tomas Sennett. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Theology by Beth Gordon

ten commandments charm bracelet theology beth gordon

You were baptized in the river, your robe bleached
white as original sin. I wore black patent leather

shoes and memorized the books of the Bible
more than others and was rewarded with a ten

commandments charm bracelet of copper
covered with fake gold. You don’t want me

to say God damnit. You believe in the fire
of lake, River Styx and unnamed dead reaching

their skeletal arms to tip over the boat. We open a bottle
of wine and I say I once knew how to walk on water

but forgot the trick when I floated down a tunnel
into the light, arrived in this mortal coil, my skin

and organs too tight, doing my best to breathe oxygen,
acclimate to Earth’s gravitational pull.

I love talking heaven and hell with you, the difference
between people who collect hair and those who eat
their own fingernails like unleavened bread.

 

 

Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous online and print journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn, a journal of poetry and progressive fiction.

Four Micro Poems by Alexis Rotella

signs_and_stains_by_frogstar_23-d8ldta5.png

In a Letter

Mother tells me
I’m such a sweet person
when I’m not a grouch

 

A taxi ride
through Central Park
the scent of magnolia
after last night’s rape

 

Waving goodbye
to relatives
while the toilet overflows

 

My heart goes with him
as my husband
leaves the table –
a friend’s joke
about Italians

 

 

Alexis Rotella has been writing poetry since the 1970’s. She served as president of The Haiku Society of America as well as its house organ, Frogpond. Founder of Prune Juice, a still active senryu journal, Alexis is also a well known mobile photographer and licensed acupuncturist in Arnold, Maryland. She has written dozens of books including the curation of Unsealing Our Secrets (MeToo poems) available on Amazon and Kindle.

 

Painting Signs and Stains by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Mountains: Mischief Mountain by Kenneth Pobo

A2 Mischief Mountain Ken Pobo Jenn Zed

After the witch melts, a bad bout of water,
we see her steam and the monkeys get happy.
All is well. But wait! She’s not really gone.
Her steam became a mountain
and anyone who climbs her faces great danger.
She shakes the earth,
brings you to your knees. She can un-sky
a lightning bolt to aim at your heart.

You might be walking to the Emerald City,
historically a difficult journey,
and run into her mountain. So much
for being in a hurry to arrive. You think,
oh well, it’s not a very tall mountain,
I’ll make it. That’s the thing about mountains.
Size can mean little. Put your ear to the ground
and listen for a rumble.
That’s her.

Becoming a mountain wasn’t in her plans,
but she’s adjusted. Locals call it Mischief Mountain
which she likes. Under a full moon
she admits she got way too crazy
over a pair of slippers. Now
she makes wildflowers, some poisonous,
and from her peak she casts spells so potent
that she can turn the sun into a cheddar-colored
ping pong ball that she slams across
several darkening worlds.

 

First published in A New Ulster.

 

 

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His forthcoming chapbook of haiku and tanka will appear from Yavanika Press. It’s called Threads.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Immigration: Collateral Damage by Michael H. Brownstein

Collateral Damage Michael H Brownstein 1

Heat a bombed-hell
and you’re carrying the weight of a child
after his leg vanished
when he came upon a landmine.
First the sweat evaporates into nothing,
the skin contours to the sun:
Before you, a fresh water beach,
muscles cramping, you want to lie in the sand,
but first you need to plunge into water.
There is no beach, no fresh water,
only the red liquid of conflict,
too much collateral damage.
The boy’s bone stabs into your arm.
Heat, too, has weight.
You need the beach, fresh water.
You need to shake your head clear of sunlight.
to close your eyes to dizziness.
If you put the object down,
where will that leave you? Where will you be?
How much further to a safe place?
Your lips lipsticked with dust and death.
The boy is still breathing,
but you, your heart races.
Mid-Missouri, July,
the temperature over a hundred,
humidity pushing to a hundred ten.
The war has been over for years.
The object you carry is yourself.

 

First published in H.E.A.R.T.

Collateral Damage 2 Brownstein

 

Bio: Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.

#Mountains: Fractured Lullaby in a Zinke Landscape by J.P. Dancing Bear

iatm_2_3_2_by_frogstar_23-dcafugo.png 
"Did I mention I'm a geologist?"  --often told lie by Ryan Zinke*
  
Who doesn't look at the mountain     and wonder,
What could that be put to use for?
Who doesn't look        where the ancestors are buried,
and wonder    what their time would be like
stuffed                        full of chemicals?.
 
Who doesn't look at the mountain     and think,
How can I break that down for its minerals?
Why wouldn't the spirits        in the water, rocks,
and trees, not want     to be free         of their bonds
and      their    children?
 
Who doesn't look at the mountain     and ponder,
Where did all this natural resource come from?
Is the spirit energy     trapped in the rocks               not happy
in its home?    Who says, Granite,    Shale,             Gold,               Ore,
Uranium,        and thinks       themselves      as liberator or hero?
 
Who doesn't look at the mountain                 and ask,
Could I own this mountain    or sell it?
All the spirits              and ancestors are                   thinking
About the government           word,                                       relocation,
And how          much more     the heart                                                can break.

 

 

J. P. Dancing Bear (Featured Poet, October, 2017) is co-editor for the Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre Press, 2015), and Love is a Burning Building (FutureCycle Press, 2014). His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the DIAGRAM and elsewhere.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

 

*Editor’s Note: According to Wikipedia, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has a B.S. (couldn’t resist) in Geology but has never worked in the field.

#Immigration: Do Not Come by Barbara Henning

Do Not Come Barbara Henning
—fleeing harm—a torrent of human beings—Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan—warm weather—do not come—near sixty in New York—Don Yorty points at me—with his cell phone—an archive of NYC poets—music blaring—do not come—a pro-bully rally—warm up the clash—between protestors and supporters—do not come—“We” have to take a look at it—do not come—Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate—the bully says—with more than minimal makeup—and a bit of eye shadow—do not come—depends upon—union activist—or reality tv—do not come—the Greece-Macedonia border—tear gas fired at children—men—women—do not come—1933—at Mack Ave and Alter Rd—my ancestors pose—stiff and prepared—for rent—extra rooms—safety indoors—children fed—2016—desperate—yet—do not come—do not come—to Europe—or here—do not come—my right knee stiff—do not come—stretch it out and in and out—

						(8 Mar 2016)

First published in Recluse.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

Hope by Mela Blust

Joaquín_Sorolla_-_Chicos_en_la_playa Hope Mela

clocks ticking; scraps of paper
with hopeful telephone numbers

holding hands
next to a hospital bed

shaving before a date,
leaving your door unlocked at night

allowing children to grow up
hearts in jars

 

 

Mela Blust is a writer residing in rural Pennsylvania. She is an active member of many online publications. Her work is forthcoming in Abstract Magazine.

 

Painting Chicos en la playa by Joaquin Sorolla. 

#GunViolence: Sidelines by Buffy Shutt

filo_kent_state_pulitzer

Sidelines by Buffy Shutt

Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.

Olives by Victoria Crawford

Olive Branch IIi by Mindy Sommers Victoria Crawford Olives

olive
victory branch
competition to be the best
joy of winning, sorrow of loss
green leaves
green globes
floating in the nectar of gin
reward at the end of the day
each day’s contest
pitted

 

 

A wanderer and poet, Victoria Crawford sees the sunrise and set currently in Thailand. At home any and everywhere, her heart remains in California among the eucalyptus and redwoods, sea lions and sea urchins of Monterey Bay. Her poems have appeared in Cargo Literary, Pacific Poetry, Hawaii Pacific Review, Wildflowers Muse, and other journals.

 

Painting by Mindy Sommers. Used by permission. 

#GunViolence: Yellow Lines by Anne Harding Woodworth

Shooting_of_Terence_Crutcher photo by Tulsa Police Dept Yellow Line Anne Woodworth
In memory of Terence Crutcher

He held his arms high toward a sky that had always
cupped him on cold days and warm.
Music lingered inside him tonight
and everything, even the gun,
was going to be fine—he’d done nothing wrong.
Soon he’d be on his way home.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck.*

The cop used his taser. The cop used her gun.
The road reached up to the man
who fell, as the asphalt pulled him down
into itself, beside the two yellow lines
that divide and cut off—
it’s one way for some, another
for him who slumped alone under sky.
And the bullet spun in his gut.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck.

He’ll never depart this sacred place,
the shirt he wore will remain.
His shoes won’t ever uncobble their stitches,
and he will sing in that street.
The chalk that outlines a shameful truth
will never wash away.

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck.

*from “Strange Fruit,” lyrics by Abel Meeropol, sung by Billie Holiday

Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry and four chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook is The Last Gun, an excerpt of which won the COG Poetry Award, judged by A. Van Jordan. It has subsequently been animated and can be seen at http://www.cogzine.com/watch. Harding Woodworth’s poetry, essays, and reviews appear in the U.S. and abroad in print and on line, such as in Poet Lore, TriQuarterly, Crannog, and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She lives in Washington, D.C. where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

 

Aerial photograph of the killing of Terence Crutcher, by Tulsa Police Department.

Call the Arborist By T.m. Lawson

cherry_tree_by_frogstar_23-db4l7s7

It’s time to cull aggressively.
You won’t see the damage for a few years.
First time, no experience, concerned, just lost.
Will this come back to life if I cut off the dead?

It’s time to weep. Reap. Leave.
Smoke at the center, drifting out of your trunk.
The blood is normal.
Keep the carcass as a souvenir.

It’s time to plant needlessly.
Just because. Habits. Or genetics.
Maybe what is animal is vegetable.
Sap. Sapling. Tender bark, peeling.

 

 

T.m. Lawson is a writer and poet living in Southern California. They have been published in Los Angeles Review, Entropy Magazine, Poets.org, White Stag, The Other Journal, NILVX, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. They are a 2015 Academy of American Poets prize winner, and a 2016 Thompson Prize winner. Formerly the Poetry Editor for Angel City Review, they are now an M.F.A. student at UCSD’s Creative Writing program.

 

Painting, Cherry Tree, by Jenn Zed. Used by Permission.

on yet another birthday by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

Summer of Love

my prized micro-cassette
i keep stashed away
in my dresser drawer
but for this day
each year when i take it
out of its velvet-lined box
to play and replay
my father’s message
promising he’ll return
my call soon
as possible

 

 

Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York poet, well published in literary journals and poetry anthologies throughout the U.S., and internationally. In October 2006, her poem, on yet another birthday, was nominated for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has authored five books of poetry: Facing Home (a chapbook), Facing Home and Beyond, little, but by no means small, Food: Nature vs Nurture, and Gone, but Not Easily Forgotten. For more about Ruth, please feel free to visit her websites: http://newyorkcitypoet.comhttp://bigapplepoet.com and blog site: http://poetrybyruthsabathrosenthal.com

 

Painting, Summer of Love, by Jenn Zed. Used by Permission.

White Out Three Times by Don Krieger

Charlottesville torches Don Krieger White Out

After the wedding I puked,
then slept in the bushes. At first light
I drove east, no good bye, the sun
bright as a bomb. By eight

it was snowing. By ten
I was alone running sixty
in the left lane, the others
behind slow trucks or on the shoulder.

This weekend a white boy
drove into the crowd
and killed somebody. Other boys
with credit cards, K-Mart torches,
mommy’s clean muscle shirts, chanted,

You … won’t … erase … us.

First published in Vox Poetica.

 

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher living in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared online at Tuck Magazine, Uppagus Magazine, VerseWrights, and others, in print in Hanging Loose, Neurology, and in English and Farsi in Persian Sugar in English Tea.

Stressed Out by Paul Lojeski

stressed out paul lojeski by rama

I’m my own murder scene.
One-eyed, bloody-nosed medics,

circle the corpse that is me,
even though I’m smiling and

wink and sing out, how’s it
going boys? But no one answers
including those thick-waisted

trees bending in the screaming
hurricane, nor a gang of cops

scurrying in, smoking, spitting,
grabbing crotches as if there’s
meaning or magic there
instead of mundane menace.

Blue fire at the horizon flares
brighter, as I’m tossed on

the gurney and rolled into the hearse
they claim is an ambulance.

It all makes sense to me, though,
I tell the heavily-armed woman
at checkout of my favorite grocery,

the one selling tins of purified
air guaranteed to extend mortality
by 11% or your money back.
Or more likely your next of kin’s

because you’ll be dead then, but I’m
not, at least, I don’t think I am.

 

 

Paul Lojeski was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio. He attended Oberlin College. His poetry has appeared online and in print. He lives in Port Jefferson, NY.

 

Photograph by Rama.

#GunViolence: Yoga for Kids by Amy Baskin

yoga for kids amy baskin walter albertin

Return to child’s pose
and hide under desks.
You’re harder to shoot through walls this way.

Return to child’s pose
and don’t make a peep.
Play “Still as Statues” in the storage closet.

Return to child’s pose.
Place your hands above your heads,
or to the sides of each target— each body. Your bodies.

Return to child’s pose.
Find innocence in your age, your parents, and everyone
who sends you to this building each weekday.

Rest. Recharge. Revive.
Reflect on the circle of things, and above all,
remember to breathe! Quietly, if you can.

 

 

Amy Baskin’s work is currently featured in armarolla, Apparition Lit, Friends Journal, and more. When she’s not writing, she works to ensure that international students at Lewis & Clark College feel welcome and at home during their stay.

 

Photograph by Walter Albertin, 1962. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

#GunViolence: Expert Marksman by Tamara Madison

expert marksman tamara madison Max Pixel

The army ranked him Expert Marksman
But he didn’t like to shoot.
Shot over the heads of some German kids —
Candy stealers — when the war was over,
Shot to scare off some coyotes hounding
Our dog in the field down below the house,
And once when a strange rustling
Disturbed our sleep for the third night in a row
His shot fired into the dark turned up a badger.
Otherwise, the shotgun stood unloaded
In a dark corner of my parents’ closet.

Once a friend’s kid beebee’d down a bird
And my dad told him the whole story
Of that young bird’s life, how just that morning,
That bird was singing, riding the April breezes
Gathering up food for its babies; he went on
Until the kid melted into a blubbering mass.

When his pals took him hunting
He told them he was only along for the ride,
He didn’t believe in killing. But he hefted
The rifle they handed him and aimed
Without thinking toward the rustling brush.
He was the only one to get a deer that trip,
And when he came home he cried, telling about it.

When Bullet was twelve and couldn’t jump
Into the pickup bed, could hardly hobble
Out to greet his master, when his dog smile
Darkened with pain, my father came home
One day, took off his hat but wouldn’t take
His eye off the ground: he just couldn’t stand
To see the dog in pain like that.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

 

Photograph by Max Pixel.

Inside the Yellow Stucco House by Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich

800px-Laughing_Buddha_statue

It’s quiet—
A meditating mind whispers
Calm over the sounds of
Antique clocks ticking & tucking
Memories into drawers.
The Griffins guard the living room:
Four faces with ethical minds—
Protect order.

When silence sings—
The noisy woodpecker walks
Backward up the Oak tree.
Buddha sits in the grass smiling
And Buddha is upstairs visiting
My mother praying
In her hard-back chair.
Buddha is in the rosy spring air—
The breezy wind & the comforting sun.
Soon the whippoorwills begin to sing again.

 

 

Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich teaches English World Literature at The University of the People, an online free tuition school and poetry at Westchester Community College. She teaches a memoir, fiction, poetry writing class at Piermont Library and elsewhere. She performs her poetry throughout the United States. She has two poetry chapbooks: We Are Beautiful Like Snowflakes (2016) and Opening the Black Ovule Gate (2018) both published by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry blog and performance schedule is: http://www.lisarhodesryabchichpoetryblog.wordpress.com She has an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poems have been published in  Madness Muse Press’ Destigmatized Anthology, Moon Magazine, Civilized Beasts Vol. III from Weasel Press, Praxim, Cave Canem, Obsidian III, Journal of Poetry Therapy, Footsteps, AIM, Left Jab, Poetry Motel, Peaceful Poetry to Love Your Societal Consciousness, and elsewhere.

 

Photograph by Hameltion.

Airs in the Dark: a Thanbauk Poem for the Tham Luang 13 by Victoria Crawford

Rescue_equipment_in_Tham_Luang_entrance_chamber_(cropped)

Airs in the Dark
a than bauk poem
for the Tham Luang 13

Outside the cave
a monk gravely
chants save these boys

flood destroys
all joys deep down
underground, lost—

now found, but trapped
in caverns mapped
enwrapped lightless

Blessings during out,
monk, sleepless, prays
ceaseless through days

the gateway grows,
betrayed by tears,
we hide fears now,

breathe cheer, rescue
prayers, true voices
ring through, inside

from boys, outside,
from all sides spring
hope’s tide— we wait

so bless the hands
that pass the gate
to bring them home.

 

 

Thirteen very young men have been trapped in a cave for two weeks and the sixty-five million Thais have been praying in compassion and mercy for the boys’s safety. Victoria Crawford, a California poet living an hour’s drive from the crises adds her own hopes for their rescue.

Dawns by Amy Lowell

I have come
from pride
all the way up to humility
This day-to-night.
The hill
was more terrible
than ever before.
This is the top;
there is the tall, slim tree.
It isn’t bent; it doesn’t lean;
It is only looking back.
At dawn,
under that tree,
still another me of mine
was buried.
Waiting for me to come again,
humorously solicitous
of what I bring next,
it looks down.

 

 

Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925.

 

Photograph by Sanketsans. 

Neverland by Roberta Beary

Neverland Roberta Beary

obstetrics —
second star
to the right

metal stirrups …
sinking deeper
into neverland

hazmat bin —
nurse smee’s
this won’t hurt

amniotic rain
epidural
℅ capt. hook

morphine …
the weight
of fairy dust

bed rest
straight on
’til morning

 

 

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

 

An earlier version first published in Frogpond.

C R A Z E D G L I T T E R by T.m. Lawson

3270 Emulation_500

Pus, what is pus, it is clover, it is noodled red crayon.

The moon in that is that water is absent. The volcanoes have arrived. The grass is empty. Yet it isn’t, it it is is all all, and jingered smoke, and kem trails, surely they belong to someone, but forgot to change their breath, and a kolossos knocked on the door, and maps have moved to skin. Remember glinting is tool clarification.

Yet the palm tree won’t go out smoothly. There was once a war hung about the frame. Newspaper clippings on how to do. The sheets have pudding, the stars have knives. And the face is grey sunshine. And the face is hot moonlight. The dots have driven insane. Yet canvas. For a little while. Exorcise brown technique, soothing tectonics, scheduling the next earthquake. It shows up late, early, on-time, unwanted, planned, unexpected, hoped, feared, latent. It likes to borrow oiled sugar from time to time.

 

 

T.m. Lawson is a writer and poet living in Southern California. They have been published in Los Angeles Review, Entropy Magazine, Poets.org, White Stag, The Other Journal, NILVX, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. They are a 2015 Academy of American Poets prize winner, and a 2016 Thompson Prize winner. Formerly the Poetry Editor for Angel City Review, they are now an M.F.A. student at UCSD’s Creative Writing program.

 

Painting, Emulation, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Immigration: Resignation Syndrome by Tim Kahl

Resignation Syndrome Tim Kahl

They just fall away from the world.
All the little Roma and Uyghur kids,
the boys being sent back to Kosovo,
they completely buy into Sweden.
They feel a deep pressure in their brains
and ears. They pound their fists against
the wall and slowly descend into coma,
their heads flopping down at their sides.
The feeding tubes enter through the nostril.
The mothers weep and stare at their hands.
They have no asylum, no future that can be
salvaged and finally made secure.
They suffer from poisoned hopefulness,
a crisis of existence at the age of nine
that makes them shut down, supports
knocked clear, their life story veering off course.
Such resigned apathy is not an isolated
act of the imagination’s force.
I have seen refugees from their working days
rage in their despair. Those lost in
little rural towns turn to alcohol and meth,
labor sacrificed on the altar of finance.
I have seen women whose nightmares
have come to life and surfaced as a threat,
men who left their homes to find out where
they might prosper best. I have seen trust
expertly pierced by speech turned to a point.
All manners of trauma spill from
an unsettled fate. It’s not the destiny
anyone bargains for to wander about,
dispatched from the land of empathy
where you’ve come to learn the language,
but it decides to snow some more.

 

 

Tim Kahl [http://www.timkahl.com] is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) and The String of Islands (Dink, 2015). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Mad Hatters’ Review, Indiana Review, Metazen, Ninth Letter, Sein und Werden, Notre Dame Review, The Really System, Konundrum Engine Literary Magazine, The Journal, The Volta, Parthenon West Review, Caliban and many other journals in the U.S. He is also editor of Clade Song [http://www.cladesong.com]. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. He also has a public installation in Sacramento {In Scarcity We Bare The Teeth}. He plays flutes, guitars, ukuleles, charangos and cavaquinhos. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes.

 

Information on Resignation Syndrome.

#GunViolence: “Silencers Now Legal for Hunting” by Anne Harding Woodworth

GMan552 Anne Woodworth

“Silencers Now Legal for Hunting”
Charlotte (NC) Observer, August 1, 2013

The task of the poet is “interrogation of silence.”
—George McKay Brown

And so, Silence, what is it you’re hiding
under that sleek and cunning gown?

The gun wears you and you stifle its message.
You do it smugly, Silence, sotto voce.

Still, we know the gun will not be silent—
not until it rusts or jams forever,

not until it drowns in the river or melts
into rake tines for the season.

Are you ready to be stifled, Silence?
Silence wounds. Silence? Can you hear us?

 

 

Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry and four chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook is The Last Gun, an excerpt of which won the COG Poetry Award, judged by A. Van Jordan. It has subsequently been animated and can be seen at http://www.cogzine.com/watch. Harding Woodworth’s poetry, essays, and reviews appear in the U.S. and abroad in print and on line, such as in Poet Lore, TriQuarterly, Crannog, and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She lives in Washington, D.C. where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

 

Photograph by GMan552.

Leaving Atlanta by Beth Gordon

Leaving Atlanta Beth Gordon

You want me to consider the rain, I hate
it here. I want sorghum syrup coating
everything. Gin-soaked orange peels glued
inside your mouth. It is sweltering
in this airport you are wading in,
metal detectors at the opposite gate and scraping
at peony scars on your arms. You peel back
your skin every night like mud
soaked book pages. I hate it here, this year.
Your father will die still
believing his home has vanished,
replaced with old hotel walls and strangers who feed him
cake. With unfamiliar ghosts. With
hands. I hate it here, this year
your mother will bake three-layer
buttercream cakes from her wheelchair.
Bones replaced by dust. It is pouring. Dust. I hate it here.
This year he will leave without looking
back, and you will build funerals
and sanctuaries from pouring more gin,
and the sudden dispersements of your heart.

 

 

Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous online and print journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn, a journal of poetry and progressive fiction.

 

Original photograph by Josh Hallett. 

Rattapallax!!! Frogs Eat Butterflies. Snakes Eat Frogs. Hogs Eat Snakes. Men Eat Hogs. by Wallace Stevens

rattapallax

It is true that the rivers went nosing like swine,
Tugging at banks, until they seemed
Bland belly-sounds in somnolent troughs,
That the air was heavy with the breath of these swine,
The breath of turgid summer, and
Heavy with thunder’s rattapallax,
That the man who erected this cabin, planted
This field, and tended it awhile,
Knew not the quirks of imagery,
That the hours of his indolent, arid days,
Grotesque with this nosing in banks,
This somnolence and rattapallax,
Seemed to suckle themselves on his arid being,
As the swine-like rivers suckled themselves
While they went seaward to the sea-mouths.

 

Wallace Stevens, 1879 – 1955.

Photograph: Cabins along the Skagway (or Skaguay) river in Alaska, early 20th century.  Bates Peak in background. Courtesy of G. Waldo Brown and Nathan Haskell Dole. Author unknown. 

Grandmother says If I were twenty I’d burn my fucking bra by Alicia Elkort

Grandmother says sizing copy

 

 

Alicia Elkort edited and contributed to the chapbook Creekside, published under the Berkeley Poetry Review where she also served as an editor. Her poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press. Alicia’s poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.

 

First published in The Hunger.

The Luxury of Having by Tim Kahl

Swiss_goats_with_bells_close-up

For three days the household has no
toilet paper. I remark we could use
a dark sock from the laundry,
then return it to the pile.
My son wants to use a wool one,
but I intercept and suggest synthetic.
“Think of the poor sheep and how it
would feel if it knew.” But he wants
the angora, the fine merino, then
the cashmere. “Outrageous,” I say,
“an insult to every petting zoo you’ve
ever been to.” But he cares little in
this case for my righteous indignation.
He wants the best and only the best,
like everyone else,
to keep the stink off of him.

 

 

Tim Kahl [http://www.timkahl.com] is the author of Possessing Yourself (CW Books, 2009), The Century of Travel (CW Books, 2012) and The String of Islands (Dink, 2015). His work has been published in Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Mad Hatters’ Review, Indiana Review, Metazen, Ninth Letter, Sein und Werden, Notre Dame Review, The Really System, Konundrum Engine Literary Magazine, The Journal, The Volta, Parthenon West Review, Caliban and many other journals in the U.S. He is also editor of Clade Song [http://www.cladesong.com]. He is the vice president and events coordinator of The Sacramento Poetry Center. He also has a public installation in Sacramento {In Scarcity We Bare The Teeth}. He plays flutes, guitars, ukuleles, charangos and cavaquinhos. He currently teaches at California State University, Sacramento, where he sings lieder while walking on campus between classes.

#MeToo: Evening Prayer by Melissa Weiss

You want to know how I spend
my time? Remembering
pink panties around ankles, scent
of petroleum jelly, scent of
Vaseline on fingers on–
Toonie to cup breasts in prepubescent
palms. Taste of Don’t talk
about it, she doesn’t know
what she did crammed down
windpipe, twenty-five
years, slowly
starting
to slip

free.

Melissa Weiss studies Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Recently, her work has appeared in Prairie Fire, The Maynard, Sky Island Journal, and elsewhere, and placed second in Into the Void‘s 2017 Poetry Contest. Melissa co-edits One Button Press in Kelowna, British Columbia. Her most recent chapbook, Don’t Fall in Love with a Poet, was released by JK Publishing in 2018. Visit her at https://twitter.com/melsince93.

 

Original photograph by Jorge Royan. 

Demeter by H. D.

Elliott_Daingerfield_-_'Tanagra',_oil_on_canvas,_1901,_High_Museum_of_Art

I

Men, fires, feasts,
steps of temple, fore-stone, lintel,
step of white altar, fire and after-fire,
slaughter before,
fragment of burnt meat,
deep mystery, grapple of mind to reach
the tense thought,
power and wealth, purpose and prayer alike,
(men, fires, feasts, temple steps)—useless.
Useless to me who plant
wide feet on a mighty plinth,
useless to me who sit,
wide of shoulder, great of thigh,
heavy in gold, to press
gold back against solid back
of the marble seat:
useless the dragons wrought on the arms,
useless the poppy-buds and the gold inset
of the spray of wheat.
Ah they have wrought me heavy
and great of limb—
she is slender of waist,
slight of breast, made of many fashions;
they have set her small feet
on many a plinth;
she they have known,
she they have spoken with,
she they have smiled upon,
she they have caught
and flattered with praise and gifts.
But useless the flattery
of the mighty power
they have granted me:
for I will not stay in her breast
the great of limb,
though perfect the shell they have
fashioned me, these men!
Do I sit in the market place—
do I smile, does a noble brow
bend like the brow of Zeus—
am I a spouse, his or any,
am I a woman, or goddess or queen,
to be met by a god with a smile—and left?

II

Do you ask for a scroll,
parchment, oracle, prophecy, precedent;
do you ask for tablets marked with thought
or words cut deep on the marble surface,
do you seek measured utterance or the mystic trance?
Sleep on the stones of Delphi—
dare the ledges of Pallas
but keep me foremost,
keep me before you, after you, with you,
never forget when you start
for the Delphic precipice,
never forget when you seek Pallas
and meet in thought
yourself drawn out from yourself
like the holy serpent,
never forget
in thought or mysterious trance—
I am greatest and least.
Soft are the hands of Love,
soft, soft are his feet;
you who have twined myrtle,
have you brought crocuses,
white as the inner
stript bark of the osier,
have you set
black crocus against the black
locks of another?

III

Of whom do I speak?
Many the children of gods
but first I take
Bromios, fostering prince,
lift from the ivy brake, a king.
Enough of the lightning,
enough of the tales that speak
of the death of the mother:
strange tales of a shelter
brought to the unborn,
enough of tale, myth, mystery, precedent—
a child lay on the earth asleep.
Soft are the hands of Love,
but what soft hands
clutched at the thorny ground,
scratched like a small white ferret
or foraging whippet or hound,
sought nourishment and found
only the crackling of ivy,
dead ivy leaf and the white
berry, food for a bird,
no food for this who sought,
bending small head in a fever,
whining with little breath.
Ah, small black head,
ah, the purple ivy bush,
ah, berries that shook and spilt
on the form beneath,
who begot you and left?
Though I begot no man child
all my days,
the child of my heart and spirit,
is the child the gods desert
alike and the mother in death—
the unclaimed Dionysios.

IV

What of her—
mistress of Death?
Form of a golden wreath
were my hands that girt her head,
fingers that strove to meet,
and met where the whisps escaped
from the fillet, of tenderest gold,
small circlet and slim
were my fingers then.
Now they are wrought of iron
to wrest from earth
secrets; strong to protect,
strong to keep back the winter
when winter tracks too soon
blanch the forest:
strong to break dead things,
the young tree, drained of sap,
the old tree, ready to drop,
to lift from the rotting bed
of leaves, the old
crumbling pine tree stock,
to heap bole and knot of fir
and pine and resinous oak,
till fire shatter the dark
and hope of spring
rise in the hearts of men.
What of her—
mistress of Death—
what of his kiss?
Ah, strong were his arms to wrest
slight limbs from the beautiful earth,
young hands that plucked the first
buds of the chill narcissus,
soft fingers that broke
and fastened the thorny stalk
with the flower of wild acanthus.
Ah, strong were the arms that took
(ah evil, the heart and graceless,)
but the kiss was less passionate!

hdoolitt

H. D., 1886 – 1961.

Painting Tanagra by Elliot Dangerfield.

#GunViolence: Pinned by Linda Imbler

pinned Linda Imbler Scl chua

Such a game.
Line up the ball with the arrows.
It spins along the lane.
Knock them down.
a spare, a spare,
must try again.
Strike, strike, strike.
Boom, they all fall down.

Line up the ball with the sight.
It spins above the classroom floor.
Knock them down.
A spare, a spare,
spare no one.
Must try again.
Strike, strike, strike.
Boom,
They all
fall
down.

 

First published in Dead Snakes.

 

 

Linda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collections Big Questions, Little Sleep, Lost and Found, and The Sea’s Secret Song. A Kansas-based Pushcart Prize Nominee, her work has been published in numerous national and international journals.  Linda’s creative process and a listing of publications can be found at lindaspoetryblog.blogspot.com.

 

Photograph by Scl chua.

Cherokee by Mela Blust

Bust_sculpture_of_a_woman_on_a_grave_in_Amsterdam by Natalie Maynor Cherokee by Mela

From moon to mountain
daring the lines

nobody’s sister
A tin box in the corner

where one would deposit
breaths held in bad company

A spade against the tree
dirt to cover the memory

of a laugh so much
like mine.

 

 

Mela Blust is a writer residing in rural Pennsylvania. She is an active member of many online publications. Her work is forthcoming in Abstract Magazine.

 

Photograph by Natalie Maynor.

Why the Golden Plover Stands There by Trish Saunders

Golden Plover by Forest & Kim Starr

I came here to learn the language of trees,
ancient tongue
nearly extinct
like the Hawaiian Crow
or shave-ice shacks on
Kamehameha Highway
where Aloha Gas now sits.

I came expecting koa trees and palms
and found instead an
old brick wall,
a golden plover standing motionless
beside it though
he flew a thousand miles to be here.
Like the plover, I came expecting more.

 

 

Trish Saunders divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. She has poems published or forthcoming in Right Hand Pointing, Off The Coast, Gnarled Oak, Fat Damsel and numerous other publications in North America, Europe and Australia.

 

Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr. 

Father’s Day, Clutch Two

Mandarin-father_and_chicks-by Jannes Pockele

Examining My Daughter’s Vagina by Joe Cottonwood

‘My ‘gina hurts,’ she says. She’s four. We’re camping.
No mothers, doctors. Nothing. Nobody.
A bat swoops low over the fern.
‘Leave it alone,’ I say.
‘Your body will fix it.’ (I pray.)
She brushes her teeth and spits into the fire.
‘It hurts,’ she says.
There are limits to my first aid training. A splint?
Tourniquet? Score it with a knife and suck out the blood?
I grasp my flashlight. ‘Let me see.’
She is standing. ‘Sit down.’ She sits.
‘Spread your legs.’
My hand shakes.
I’m no prude, you see
yet something down there frightens me.
In four years, in spite of diapers, baths,
shameless prancing nudity, I have somehow
never looked closely never dared
feared what I would
what I now see is a
lovely
little
vagina.
‘I don’t see anything wrong.
Except it’s dirty.’
I wash it. She squeals at the cold water.
But she’s cured.
So (I think) am I.

Previously published in the chapbook Son of a Poet.

 

At the Chemical Plant by Tamara Madison

Dad says he has a job for me,
drives me to school, my bike
in the back. In the afternoon
I ride through date groves
from Indio to Coachella.
In a small office in the corner
of the plant, my spot
is a desk where I type up orders
scrawled by salesmen
who can find surprising ways
to spell DeBonne and Vladimir.
It’s pleasant here; the grownups
crack jokes, play music,
when Dad is in the field.
When his pickup is spied
in the driveway, word goes out
and comes back in like a cold wind.
Backs straighten, conversation
freezes, souls shiver
as we get a read on his mood.
At quitting time we drive home,
Dad and I, a handful of words
between us, him singing along
to a country song, squinting
into the sun.

 

A Mother’s Lament by Wilda Morris

The men of my pueblo crossed the river
with only dreams in their pockets,
leaving false promises.
What do I tell my daughter
when she asks ¿Donde está mi papa?
How can I tie my son
to this place when he believes
his father left a trail of seeds
he can follow across mountains,
across the river, through deadly desert?
How can I make him understand
the seeds have been eaten by vultures
or sprouted into trees bearing bitter fruit?

First published in The Christian Citizen.

 

Childhood’s End by Don Krieger

” … you’ll be a Man, my son!”
– – If – – Rudyard Kipling

Promise me power or eternal life,
give me wealth, open your legs.
I am proof against all of it

thanks to my father,
who often recited If,
who turned to me

as we drove his weekly round
to collect twelve dollars
from women in cement block houses,

doors open, TVs flashing,
children playing on the sand floor
or coming to touch my pale skin in wonder —

he turned to me, a child of six,
as we rode in his rusted Hillman Minx and said:
You know, Don, I would never
be unfaithful to your mother.

 

1968 by Linda McCauley Freeman

Adam runs before the water
touches him. Peter, his twin,
pudgy and blond, sits squarely

on crushed shells, laughs
as waves roll over his belly.
Paul piles sand over our father,

erases all of him from the beach
except for his head, which he covers
with a bright blue towel.

As my sister and I walk by, timid
in our red bikinis, my father erupts,
roaring, his sand- and sun-blistered

arms flailing, pulling us in.
We tackle the great
monster man emerging.

 

Level by Donna Hilbert

Spirit level it’s called
this rectangular frame, vial
of liquid centered in the middle.
spirit center level
Not a yoga prop
but a mason’s tool
like the one my father used
Saturdays, Sundays, weekdays
after work laying brick
around our house in the valley
mastering geometry
turning oblong to curve.
Curve around orange tree
after tree, laden
with blossom then fruit.
My father lay brick on brick
with a cunning sure hand.
And I imagine his pleasure
as he checked this work
and found it true,
the one thing he could do
to make his world level
to make his world right,
one brick after brick at a time.

 

Father Rose by Jeff Burt

Palsied, father rose
without complaint
floating in the spoons of our hands
like a petal in a watery bowl
raised by love for a turn.

He could no longer speak
so we learned from his silence.

Lowland_nyala_father_and_daughters by Sheep81

Joe Cottonwood is a semi-retired contractor who has spent most of his days in the building trades — carpenter, plumber, electrician. Nights, he writes. His most recent book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

Wilda Morris is President of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and Past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society. Her poems have found homes in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including Christian Science Monitor, The Alembic, Chaffin Journal and The Kerf. She has won awards for both formal and free verse, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her book, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant, was published by Rockford Writers’ Guild Press in 2008. Her poetry blog is found at wildamorris.blogspot.com.

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poetry has appeared online at Tuck Magazine, Uppagus Magazine, VerseWrights, and others, in print in Hanging Loose, Neurology, and in English and Farsi in Persian Sugar in English Tea.

Linda McCauley Freeman has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including a Chinese translation of her work for an international journal. She recently won Grand Prize in Storiarts poetry contest honoring Maya Angelou, and her work was selected by the Arts Mid Hudson for inclusion in their Artists Respond to Poetry 2018 show. She was a three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda. She has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She and her husband are professional swing dance instructors in the Hudson Valley, NY (www.got2lindy.com).

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal, Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at http://www.donnahilbert.com

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, with his wife and a July abundance of plums. He has work in The Monarch Review, Spry, LitBreak, Wisconsin Review, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Poetry Prize.

Father’s Day, Clutch One

Emperor_Penguin_Parents_and_Chick Mtpaley

We Use Him by Tamara Madison

I stood by the bed
the day my father died,
holding his hand,
feeling the thin tremble
of his pulse
with my fingertips.

He was yellow,
breathing faintly
but he knew we were there
for his eyes flickered,
his head nodded,
he was waiting for us.
He seemed to look up
with his eyelids
and then fall, relieved,
into death’s cool hand.

Now we use him.
My son walks on his legs.
My sister throws his shadow
across the pool.
My brother wears
his burnished, bald crown.
His eyes regard me from the mirror,
and when I am especially angry
they flash like a switchblade,
foolish, but fierce,
and infinitely useful.

 

To My Daughter Who Was Never Born by Joe Cottonwood

I know you are a daughter because
we already had a boy, a girl, a boy.
It was a girl’s turn when two cells
in a womb chanced not to meet.

Now here’s a prom date waiting, corsage in hand,
at our door. Aren’t you ready yet? Our family,
never big on proms. Or dressing up.
Will you dance in blue jeans?

As parents, we made it hard.
You, only seven when your mom got cancer.
Not easy. I’m sorry for that.

In your fourteenth year, daughter,
we blew up. Yes, I came down hard on you.
Stealing a car is serious trouble.
But I promise not to dwell on that. Except to say
I secretly admire your gumption to steal
the candy of a billionaire’s spoiled brat,
to without lessons drive that Jag to San Diego
to free a dolphin who, it turned out, didn’t want
to leave his private tank where fish appeared
like magic twice a day precisely timed.
Some souls prefer order. Not you, not me, this family,
beyond the bedrock expectations: Get an education.
Be kind. Don’t steal cars to rescue dolphins.

Here, daughter, some fish.
Next year again I will lose you who I never had
as you burst from your tank swimming,
leaping the prow of this aging boat
with such grace, such hope,
your home the ageless sea.

 

Father Cigar by Chariklia Martalas

Wool waist coat
to keep away the whip of winter.
he inhales his Cuban.
His chair, his African home.
Caribbean tobacco leaves,
books of a different alphabet.
Greek letters on crisp paper
perfumed by smoke puffed into pages
as they turn.

Tranquility of old intellectuals
in a mad house. Ideas, cigars,
comfortable pondering in chairs.
Ash ribbons, pleasured wisps.

Mirage in smoke, memory in leaves.
I mentally photograph my father
with cigar, chair facing the grass.
Memory safe as upholstery.

 

Thin Fabric and an Empty Bowl by Wren Tuatha

I come to your country
in exile,
thin fabric and an empty bowl.
You come to my woods
in resignation,
bare trees and leaves into compost.
You wrap me against the leaving breezes
in long johns,
your old coat and trail hugging shoes.

Your uncle, my father,
is gone/crazy/homeless/missing/dead.
There’s no train of numbers on his forearm,
no Southern rope around his neck,
no chalk outline, no ransom call or suicide note.
But his place is just as vacant,
his absence incurable.

I hold out my bowl,
Oliver Twist.
Word soup: You look just like him.
We trade photographs
like baseball cards.
Into my bowl: The Missing Years.
When I offer my bowl to the waiting faces
my gratitude
spills out upon your feet.

 

Anyway by Tony Gloeggler

After we dropped dirt
on my father’s coffin
the long line of cars
drove back to the house.
We stood in circles,
took turns sitting
at the kitchen counter
and ate cold cuts.
My mother introduced me
to all her work friends
as her son, the poet.
One young woman knew
it wasn’t the time or place,
but always wondered why
people wrote poetry. I told her
I hoped to become rich
and famous, fall in and out
of love with multitudes of smart,
beautiful, fucked-up women.
She shook her head, said
maybe I should leave you alone

so you can go somewhere

and write. I didn’t follow
her, didn’t apologize for acting
like an asshole. I walked
upstairs, opened the door
to my old room, looked
for my bed and desk, my stacks
of albums. I wanted to blast
“Darkness on the Edge
of Town,” start writing
in a new notebook. I wanted
my father to pound his fist
on the door, yell turn

that goddamn shit down,
stick his head inside and ask
what are you doing anyway?
I wanted to hand him
my notebook, watch him
sit in his chair, turn on
the lamp and read, slowly,
his forefinger underlining
all the words, his lips
whispering every syllable.

First published in Rattle.

 

Friday Nights by Donna Hilbert

Friday nights, my father sat
in his green Naugahyde chair
smoking, drinking beer,
the red tip of his cigarette
tracing the pathway
from the ashtray to his lips.
My father sat in his chair
like a storm sits on the horizon,
gathering flash and clap
to slam across the prairie.
Friday nights, I flattened
thinner than a paper doll,
shrank smaller than a crayon,
knowing the tallest presence
takes the lightning.
If my father were a storm
building on the horizon,
if our house were on the prairie,
I could blow out the door,
down the concrete stairs
into the dark, damp cellar
to safety.

 

My Father Was Our Piano by Linda McCauley Freeman

He would sit in his great
armchair, the five of us pressing
his fingers, pushing
to be the one
to create a great
symphony—
the baritone thumb
the soprano pinkie.

 

Interlude by Ed Ahern

The small being sleeps on my chest.
My breathing sways plump arms.
He unable, me unwilling to rise and part.
We are never closer than this touching
that he will not remember
and I will not forget.
Unconcern nestled into gentle custody.
Neither knowing, or just now caring
about changes to come.

First published in Red Eft.

Black_Sea_fauna_Seahorse Florin DUMITRESCU

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

Joe Cottonwood is a semi-retired contractor who has spent most of his days in the building trades — carpenter, plumber, electrician. Nights, he writes. His most recent book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

Chariklia Martalas is a Philosophy, Politics, English and History student at the University of Witswaterstrand in Johannesburg South Africa. Her passion lies in the intersection between Philosophy and Literature. She has been published in Odd Magazine.

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

Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City. His work has appeared in Rattle, The Raleigh Review, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Mudfish and Cultural Weekly. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw press 2002) and The Last Lie (NYQ Books/2010). Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) was a finalist in the 2016 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award and focuses on his connection to an ex-girlfriend’s autistic son and thirty-five years of managing group homes for mentally challenged men in Brooklyn.

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal, Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at http://www.donnahilbert.com

Linda McCauley Freeman has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies, including a Chinese translation of her work for an international journal. She recently won Grand Prize in Storiarts poetry contest honoring Maya Angelou, and her work was selected by the Arts Mid Hudson for inclusion in their Artists Respond to Poetry 2018 show. She was a three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda. She has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She and her husband are professional swing dance instructors in the Hudson Valley, NY (www.got2lindy.com).

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had a hundred ninety poems and stories published so far, and three books. He works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors.

 

Penguin photograph by Mtpaley. Seahorse photograph by Florin DUMITRESCU. 

#MeToo: Title IX Case Dismissed For Lack Of Evidence by Sandra Hunter

Mattress_Performance_rules_of_engagement

Plaintiff did not indicate that she withheld consent

We are lost in our nervous system
You are sobbing
We have lost our language
We can only make sounds
I am here
I am her

We are in a wind tunnel
You are sobbing
You are a semaphore I cannot read
You are a small disappearing flag
I am here
I am he

We are in a shipwreck
You are sobbing
Call me from inside your wounds
Call me from your unwords
I am here
I am h

We are falling from an airplane
You are sobbing
I am pulling the ripcord
You are failing to open
I am
I

 

 

Sandra Hunter’s stories have won the 2017 Leapfrog Press Fiction Award, 2016 Gold Line Press Chapbook Prize, and three Pushcart nominations. She is a 2018 Hawthornden Fellow and the 2017 Charlotte Sheedy Fellow at the MacDowell Colony.

#GunViolence: Solving the Gun Issue by Tamara Madison

Let’s have a party
and bring all of our guns.

We’ll have contests
to see who can shoot the target

all the way from the living room
to the backyard fence.

We’ll bring our rifles and see
who can shoot the most living things.

We’ll take out our pistols and see
who can draw the fastest.

We’ll shoot at each other’s feet
and call it dancing.

We’ll shoot off our machine guns
and see who finishes their ammo first.

We’ll cover the house with the flag
and practice shooting the stars

Then we’ll turn the guns on each other
— to protect ourselves from the enemy —

and when none of us is left
we’ll declare our country great again.

 

 

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

#MeToo: A Wolf Girl Enters the World by Wren Tuatha

Monstorium Historia

A wolf girl enters the world
through a slice in the air
that catches eyes all around.
Is her name ordinary, Maria,
or pedestaled, Dulcinea?

The air in the village square
tells the story of the pie
she carries. Younger wolf sister
stays close, dropping mental
breadcrumbs through
the forest of eyes.

To be a wolf girl and to be
a girl are redundant. Everyone
is entitled to look at will,
on the sly or not.

At court, brocade
flowers on her gown
fit in, but she will always
be queer.

Her Italian language is
baroque with syllables,
civilized. She has written
a poem. It feels natural
to choose the attention
of others.

She will recite her poem
now.

 

First published in Danse Macabre.

 

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

At the Carnival by Anne Spencer

622px-Beatrice_Kyle

Gay little Girl-of-the-Diving-Tank,
I desire a name for you,
Nice, as a right glove fits;
For you—who amid the malodorous
Mechanics of this unlovely thing,
Are darling of spirit and form.
I know you—a glance, and what you are
Sits-by-the-fire in my heart.
My Limousine-Lady knows you, or
Why does the slant-envy of her eye mark
Your straight air and radiant inclusive smile?
Guilt pins a fig-leaf; Innocence is its own adorning.
The bull-necked man knows you—this first time
His itching flesh sees form divine and vibrant health
And thinks not of his avocation.
I came incuriously—
Set on no diversion save that my mind
Might safely nurse its brood of misdeeds
In the presence of a blind crowd.
The color of life was gray.
Everywhere the setting seemed right
For my mood.
Here the sausage and garlic booth
Sent unholy incense skyward;
There a quivering female-thing
Gestured assignations, and lied
To call it dancing;
There, too, were games of chance
With chances for none;
But oh! Girl-of-the-Tank, at last!
Gleaming Girl, how intimately pure and free
The gaze you send the crowd,
As though you know the dearth of beauty
In its sordid life.
We need you—my Limousine-Lady,
The bull-necked man and I.
Seeing you here brave and water-clean,
Leaven for the heavy ones of earth,
I am swift to feel that what makes
The plodder glad is good; and
Whatever is good is God.
The wonder is that you are here;
I have seen the queer in queer places,
But never before a heaven-fed
Naiad of the Carnival-Tank!
Little Diver, Destiny for you,
Like as for me, is shod in silence;
Years may seep into your soul
The bacilli of the usual and the expedient;
I implore Neptune to claim his child to-day!

 

Anne Spencer, 1882 – 1975.

 

 

Photograph high diver Beatrice Kyle sitting on a fire engine wheel between acts at the Society Circus at Fort Myer, Va. Courtesy of the United States Library of Congress.

Successfully Hiding It by Cori Bratby-Rudd

Sipping watery coffee, no creamer, fourth cup.
Mom takes the dog outside to shit, pattering across
the false wood, actual plastic flooring,
and I sit at the table playing solitaire.

Mom takes the dog outside to shit, pattering across
I think, when she comes back I will tell her.
And I sit at the table playing solitaire.
I will tell her what happened that day at the hostel.

But she walks back in the room –
starts ranting about how the dog pissed on the trash can again.
I will tell her what happened that day at the hostel.
I will. I will. I will—

The Christmas tree in the corner of the room,
I’m sipping watery coffee, no creamer, fifth cup.
On the false wood, actual plastic, flooring
still, I am silent; on the verge.

dog successfully hiding it

 

Cori Bratby-Rudd is an eclectic writer from the Bay Area. As a recent graduate from UCLA’s Gender Studies department, and a current MFA candidate in Creative Writing at California Institute of the Arts, she enjoys incorporating themes of emotional healing and social justice into her creative and non-fiction works. She has been published in Ms. Magazine, DryLand Lit Press, FEM News, Canyon News, Rainy Day Magazine,  and Westwind Journal of the Arts. She recently received an editorial choice award in Audeamus’ Academic Journal for the best research piece.

 

#GunViolence: Ellipses by Matt Hohner

after Van Gogh

He is a change in barometric pressure, a clearing storm in strange light. He is
a missed warning, a settled resolve, a thousand-mile stare across the dinner table. He is a truck parked in a cornfield at dawn, an empty cubicle at work. He is the husband of a classmate, father of teen-agers. He is a childhood friend slicing through the crisp, dry, Colorado autumn wind into a flagstone canyon twenty-five stories below: the echoes of our adolescent laughter; the sound of the wing flaps of his demons carrying him off into the gloaming. He is a famous athlete, lonely inside, broken, down a trail in the woods away from the house, among the dappled shade made softer by his decision.

No one hears the reports, or maybe they do: the wife of a neighbor,
upstairs in their bedroom, jolted by the bluntness of the blast muffled
by mouth and lips, hard palette, back wall of skull. The grating silence
of gunpowder smoke swirling like grit through the air over the scene;
the sound of blood made free by the act, pouring out across the kitchen
floor, warm as him. The taste of iron in the stillness. The sharp, slow burn
of rust as the minutes pass slow as eons before the sirens arrive.

Some will speak of the economy, of marriage problems, of failure
or sickness, of dark secrets only the dead held close. They will speak
of subtle signs and actions, of odd shifts, of the day they missed
the calm resolution as he gave his things away.

The left-behind will not speak of the darkness that followed him to the place
where he stopped running. They will not speak of the gravity of crows,
startled from the trees at the edge of an empty field under gunmetal
clouds, scattering away into the distance—cold, black stars
punctuating the morning horizon like terrible ellipses.

 

 

Matt Hohner, a Baltimore native, holds an M.F.A. in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His work has been a finalist for the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, taken both third and first prizes in the Maryland Writers Association Poetry Prize, and won the 2016 Oberon Poetry Prize. Hohner’s work has been published individually in numerous journals, including Rattle: Poets Respond, Free State Review, and Crab Orchard Review. His book-length manuscript Thresholds will be published by Apprentice House Press in Fall 2018.

 

Detail of Sower at Sunset by Vincent van Gogh.

#GunViolence: Inside Every Story by Alicia Elkort

inside every story

I’m telling Paul about the devil look in my pacifist father’s eyes the moment he tells me he wishes he could go back in time & shoot the motherfucker who hurt me, even if he ended up in jail for the rest of his life. Paul tells me he never could understand why Joe, the smartest kid in high school with aspirations for medicine, became a police officer. Until, twenty years later, Joe tells him about sitting in the hallway as a kid holding a shotgun, trying to work up the nerve to shoot his father who’s in his sister’s bedroom, raping her. I’m watching Paul at a quiet joint in Montgomery sipping whiskey, sitting next to Joe drinking soda. The wooden bar is uneven & the stools have no backs, but the air is warm & smooth music drifts through the sound system. Paul is watching Joe in the hallway where the carpet is shab green, the wallpaper peels & the sister’s cries are muffled. There’s some kind of dusty moon leaking light across the back shed & the mother is passed out, an empty bottle of vodka on the floor. Joe is watching his father, night after night, same dark hallway, same shotgun. There’s no redemption in this story. In a few years the sister kills herself & Joe continues to arrest people doing bad shit, hoping one day the story ends with him standing up, opening the door.

 

 

Alicia Elkort edited and contributed to the chapbook Creekside, published under the Berkeley Poetry Review where she also served as an editor. Her poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press. Alicia’s poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.

 

First published in The Hunger.

Tavern by Edna St. Vincent Millay

toulouse-lautrec-

I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.
There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.
There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey’s end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.
Aye, ‘tis a curious fancy—
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.

 

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950.

 

At the Moulin Rouge: The Women Dancing by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1894.

 

#MeToo: Dear Med Guy by Melissa Weiss

The devil drives a Mustang. Sinks crooked teeth
into Coach Purses and Haagen Dazs. Pinkie
swears and Snapchat filters. You
are an octopus tentacle on grease-stained
linoleum. The unnamed image in front
of a Polaroid. Your loafers are square
and geometric. Onyx. Glazed
in stringy bits and aphid innards.

I saw them yesterday
when you trampled on my me too.
Picked it back up and combed it
through the oily prickle on your chin.
Your breathy clouds spoke: slut. Tossed
the word through the air like an emerald.
Like you owned it.

You are a pine needle among matchsticks.
Eclipsed. Concealed. I don’t know how
to say fuck you any more eloquently.

 

Melissa Weiss studies Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Recently, her work has appeared in Prairie Fire, The Maynard, Sky Island Journal, and elsewhere, and placed second in Into the Void‘s 2017 Poetry Contest. Melissa co-edits One Button Press in Kelowna, British Columbia. Her most recent chapbook, Don’t Fall in Love with a Poet, was released by JK Publishing in 2018. Visit her at https://twitter.com/melsince93.

In Continuing by Karl Miller

Saint_Francis_statue_in_garden

storm-driven debris
decapitated some
of the saints in the garden

but

repairs went so well
that now only a few discreet lines
show in the concrete figures

that

stand again
by the
chamomile

 

 

Karl Miller’s fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Galley Sail Review, Mudfish, RE:AL, Subtle Tea and others. His play, A Night in Ruins, was produced Off Off Broadway. A Best of the Net nominee, Miller lives in Coral Springs, FL.

 

Photograph attributed to Thunk-commonswiki.

Gravel Parking Lot by David M. Taylor

Confederate_Flag by Faze039423

I sit at a table pressed against
the outer brick wall of the diner,
where my children color placemats
and play tic-tac-toe.

I count the number of exits in this place,
how many seconds it would take
for me to break free
from the overweight man wearing overalls
and the tall man in stained jeans and hat.

They drove up with a confederate flag
erect on their truck bed
before walking in to join three friends.

They claim the space for themselves
as their heads motion towards me
while I shade in a yellow flower
my daughter drew on her napkin.

I count how many fists it would take
before I’d finally fall to the floor
from the weight of their oppression.

When I was younger, I could manage
to get to my car with only a few bruises,
but now I’m not so sure.

And I’d still have to get my kids to the van,
make sure they were buckled in car seats,
and their favorite Disney song was playing.

But first we would need to make it
past the two men and their friends,
to the gravel parking lot
where the streetlight flickers.

And as I count the number of times
I’ve met men like these,
I wonder whether my children
will end up doing the same.

David M. Taylor teaches at a community college in St. Louis, Missouri. His work has appeared in various magazines such as Albany Poets, Misfit Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Indigent Press,and Trailer Park Quarterly. He was a finalist for the 2017 Annie Menebroker Poetry Award and has three poetry chapbooks—M&Ms and Other Insignificant Poems, Two Cobras in a Ritual Dance, and Life’s Ramblings.

 

Photograph by Faze039423.

The Swan by F. S. Flint

407px-Tsarevna-Lebed_by_Mikhail_Vrubel_(brightened)

Under the lily shadow
and the gold
and the blue and mauve
that the whin and the lilac
pour down on the water,
the fishes quiver.
Over the green cold leaves
and the rippled silver
and the tarnished copper
of its neck and beak,
toward the deep black water
beneath the arches,
the swan floats slowly.
Into the dark of the arch the swan floats
and into the black depth of my sorrow
it bears a white rose of flame.

 

 

F. S. Flint, 1885 – 1960.

Painting: The Swan Princess by Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel, based on the The Tale of Tsar Saltan opera of Rimsky-Korsakov (which was based on the fairytale of the same name by Pushkin). Vrubel designed the decor and costumes for this opera. The part of the Swan Princess was performed by his wife, N. Zabela-Vrubel.

If a Wild Mare Is Lame, She Will Slowly Move Towards the Succulent by Elizabeth York Dickinson

Standing barefoot in the sand, a golden sky
stung my skin,
and azure heavens tempered.
A desert breath blew
dust from long, onyx hair.
An illusion had swept me.
A twister.
The mirage that aridity
could service want.
My face was buried, lungs constricted, searching
for a sip of worth.
Broken elements swayed around the embers
of a Lucky Strike.

One drop, one grain, one sigh, one
strand of smoke.
A brief quickstep and hoofs began
swinging like a pendulum,
enough timing to rise.
Light blown spirits gifted
a wind-spout, fanning the tail that
welled a lift of my chin.
I ran.
Years of ancestry tracked my veins,
and guttural madness erupted forth,
“I am the weightless dunes!”

desert horse author anagoria

 

Elizabeth York Dickinson received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She was a staff writer for The Costa Rica News and currently resides in Evanston, Illinois.

 

Photographs: Desert woman, Jessica Polar. Desert horse, Anagoria.

#Immigration: Oracle of Witch Hunts by J. P. Dancing Bear

Certainly flashlights were burning
into the darkness.
There were whispers,
rumors and lies told—worse, believed!

And the sound of doors
cracking off their frames.

A hive waking—
misdirected, angry, attacking
the shadowed

under the claxons,
under the sirens.
Through the slits of curtains
we saw
people herded into vans,
people cuffed and led away,
people penned,
people executed by revoked asylum.

We saw people treated
as the supernatural beings
rising up from hell.

We saw red light bleed
out over panicked eyes.

The boss of uniforms
said it was him
who was being hunted

but he was doing what all
predators do,
camouflaged and preying

on the hidden helpless
praying
in the shadows.

 

 

J. P. Dancing Bear (Featured Poet, October, 2017) is co-editor for the Verse Daily and Dream Horse Press. He is the author of fourteen collections of poetry, most recently, Cephalopodic (Glass Lyre Press, 2015), and Love is a Burning Building (FutureCycle Press, 2014). His work has appeared or will shortly in American Literary Review, Crazyhorse, the DIAGRAM and elsewhere.

 

Photograph by U.S. Department of Immigration Enforcement (Department of Homeland Security).

#MeToo: On Michigan Avenue in November by Janette Schafer

It is only three miles from
where I am and where I need to be.
Man in a black Chrysler
pulls up to my bus stop, parks
in front of me, shaded window
hums as it opens in a puff
of smoke, forced air meeting
frozen wind–a breath.
He reminds me of my grandfather
until he flashes a wad of cash
puts it in the empty passenger seat
tells me to get in.

It is only three miles from
where I am and where I need to be,
from the fancy car and wrinkled bills,
so I walk fast, legs pumping like
the pistons pounded out in the factories
here in the heart of the Mitten. My heart
is only nineteen years old and it has never
pounded so hard. The lake effect winds
cling to my coat like candles in darkness.
Here I meet the Thin Man.

It is only two miles from
where I am to where I need to be,
a weathered jacket hung on his bones
as chiffon on a wire hanger, his eyes
meet mine and we nod in that way
strangers do. He walks past me, quickly turns,
his body so close I feel his heat on the back
of my neck, a drooped ceiling threatening
to break the floor beneath it.

It is twenty-five years from
where I was to where I need to be.
In my dreams, sometimes I am caught
by the Thin Man in this body, thick with
middle age and indiscretion. But on
that night, I was young still, Turner’s
The Angel Standing in the Sun whispers to me
in the moonlight, Run girl. Run.

It is one mile from
where I am to where I need to be,
tights split as I run, his footsteps
grow faint, my ragged breath
forms clouds of exertion and fear.
This is the night where the cold
has made me different, where the season has
transitioned a child who knows that
everything will be alright to a woman
who knows otherwise.

 

 

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, former opera singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh PA. She was a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her poems and photographs have recently been included in the following: Unlikely Stories V, Event Horizons, Dear America, Reflections on Race, Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology, and Anti Heroin Chic.

 

Installation Agora, Grant Park,Michigan Avenue, Chicago, artist Magdalena Abakanowicz.

 

#MeToo: Quarry by Mary McCarthy

I thought it was me.
Something about me
obvious as Red Riding Hood
moving through the dark
wood bright as a flame
just asking
to be snuffed.

Now I know none of us
can walk anywhere
and call it freedom.
We all have more than one
story
of using everything we had
just to be able
to run away.
No shame in that.
We won’t argue with
survival-
sometimes the only prize
left to win.

 

 

Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work published in many on line and print journals, including Third Wednesday, Gnarled Oak, The Ekhprastic Review, and Earth’s Daughters. She has been a Pushcart nominee, and has an e-chapbook available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

 

Art by Krakin.

 

Mending by Hazel Hall

Here are old things:
Fraying edges,
Ravelling threads;
And here are scraps of new goods,
Needles and thread,
An expectant thimble,
A pair of silver-toothed scissors.
Thimble on a finger,
New thread through an eye;
Needle, do not linger,
Hurry as you ply.
If you ever would be through
Hurry, scurry, fly!
Here are patches,
Felled edges,
Darned threads,
Strengthening old utility,
Pending the coming of the new.
Yes, I have been mending …
But also,
I have been enacting
A little travesty on life.

mrssewandsew_avatar_twitter

 

Hazel Hall, 1886-1924. 

 

Photograph “Make Do and Mend” in Britain during the Second World War
Remnants and oddments of material being sold by the pound at Kennard’s store, Croydon, London. Ministry of Information Second World War Press Agency Print Collection.

In the Fall of the Summer of Love by Trish Saunders

woman-865021_1280-e1515027897240

The year I turn 18, I meet the man who will love me
and stop loving me. This is also the summer I turn bronze.
Each morning, I drop a coin into a bowl near the bed.
Let it not be today.
If he stirs, I press my fingers over his mouth
until he falls back asleep.

One morning I begin swallowing the coins,
a penny at a time. When I try to speak, my tongue clangs
against my teeth. My hair unspools in copper coils.
Of course, this becomes too much for him.
Late September he leaves, knocking books off their shelves
with his umbrella in his rush to the door.

I race to the bathroom mirror. I’m still breathing.
When I turn on the faucet, my late mother’s voice gushes out,
Now you can buy anything you want.
Love is yours.
Adjusting the folds of my robe:
Thank you, Mother, I am ready now.

 

 

Trish Saunders divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Gnarled Oak, Busted Dharma, Blast Furnace Press, Off the Coast, Poets and Poetry, and Here/There Poetry.

 

Photograph by Foundry, via Pixabay, CC0, Creative Commons.

Soundless by Martin Willitts, Jr.

There has to be a word for the unexplained —
a word for the sound of a nightingale
changing to whatever that bird heard last.

We have better words to describe a chasm
eating all sound dropping in
or a trellis of roses wrapping upwards.
When unobscured light reaches its destination,
it does not make a noise. I never heard
a spider tiptoe on its web as it gives or sways,
nor when dawn congeals into greying darkness.

We can hear despair, the accumulation of sparrows,
the blinds opening their clatter, the blink of traffic lights,
the hizz of florescent bulbs.
But not once, did I hear a sound
the minute after people died, separating out
of their body, into a final silence, not even an Ah.

 

 

Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian living in Syracuse, NY.  He is a poetry editor for Comstock Review, and a judge for the New York State Fair Poetry Contest. He won the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award and Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June, 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over 20 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

Sixth Mass Extinction Event by Theric Jepson

Beautiful-dandelion-puff-in-the-wind-HD-spring-wallpaper_1920x1080

I haven’t seen a bee in over a month.
I don’t know how many other local pollinators
I would even recognize but
I I I I I I I I I

I was born in 1976 when models suggested
global cooling as the next big threat
existential in nature by which we meant us
and not Javan tigers or 24-rayed sunstars
or golden toads or dusky seaside sparrows
or Saint Croix racers or Levuana moths
or Pyrenean ibex or baiji dolphins
or Japanese river otters or Scioto madtoms
or the Bermuda saw-whet owl.

The ongoing resurrection of the coelacanth
serves only to mock our own newness and fragility.
Sure we’ve peopled every clime, but
but but but but but intestines threaded through
a steering wheel—a steering wheel that will
last 10thousand years—10 million—long enough for
the next intelligent race to dig up as they
theorize re the Plasticene Era and drop
cigarette butts in their fresh dirt—

/

The deer and turkey are less shy these days,
crowding our suburban streets like retired biker gangs.
Or no, the turkeys, yes, but the deer are just
worried about what ole Tom will do if the cops show up,
so they look the other way and pretend not to—

This morning, up early, waiting for my ride,
I pulled dandelions from the lawn. Just buds
and flowers. I enjoy our little race as the plants try to bloom
and go to seed before I can toss them to the sidewalk.
I appreciate how, the better I do, the lower grow
the flowers, hidden under their canopy of grass.

This species only grows in lawns—
as reliant on us as soybeans or cannabis
for world domination.

The entire plant is edible. Every bit of it.
Scientists are now, today, running tires made
of dandelion rubber on the road, to see
if our weeds can drive us further down down down
down

I look at the heads scattered across cement.
& the bees are dying.
I I I I I

Dandelion_Puff_(1_of_1)

 

Theric Jepson’s poetry has appeared in a number of publications, most of which have never claimed regret for their decision. His chapbook After Chadwick was released in 2015. If you wish to visit him online, alas, thmazing.com is currently crippled by corrupted code, but googling thmazing and seeing what comes up is probably more fun anyway.

Work by Laura S. Marshall

Work:vacuum

She brings me home
a brand-new vacuum cleaner,
and it clatters hard

on the wide plank floors.
The back-and-forth pass (and pass
and push) plasters pink

and sweat on my skin,
under my shirt. My back hurts,
but there’s just one room

left to bluster through.
I do this every week, and
every week it’s new.

Every week I ask
the space behind my eyes, “Why?”
And it says, “For her.”

 

 

Laura S. Marshall is a writer and editor who lives in New England. She studied linguistics as an undergraduate at Queen’s University in Canada and as a grad student at the University of British Columbia. She has studied writing at the Ashbery Home School, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at UMass Amherst, and the College of Our Lady of the Elms. Her work appears or is forthcoming in literary publications including Epigraph Magazine, Lavender Review, Junoesq, and the Queen’s Feminist Review, as well as newspapers and trade magazines.

 

Mother’s Day Poems, Clutch Two

Regarding The Unreliability Of Buses in The Desert In Late July by Alexis Rhone Fancher

The Girl
She wouldn’t last the afternoon.

Chalk white. Redheaded determination against
the soul-crushing Mohave.

What kind of life was it anyway,
when the closest thing to civilization was a mall
twenty miles away?

The pretty ones, her mama said,
rarely had far to walk.

The Mother
Nothing ages a woman like a dead kid.
Except, maybe, the desert.
Skin turned to parchment.
Age spots on her hands. A penance.

She stuffed them in her pockets.

The Man
The girl climbed into his dusty pick up.
Those tiny shorts, metal zipper flashing back
the sun, playing off the skin of her inner thigh.

It was like a dream, he told the police.

The Mall
glistened. Macy’s. Target. The Body Shop. Mrs. Field’s. The Sharper Image.
Victoria’s Secret. Wetzel’s Pretzels.

Every Kiss Begins With Kay.

The Mother
She sat at the table in the small trailer and
watched the sun flatline behind the highway.
Then she raised her glass of hard lemonade.

Here’s to the dead kid. She saluted
the faded snapshot, tacked up above the sink.

The blue-eyed girl in the photo
looked right through her.

Outside, the highway trembled as the bus
whizzed by, asphalt searing the tires,
their high whine a love song, a murmur.

My girl. The one with big ambition.
We all figured she’d be the one to get away.

 

for Chelsea Kashergen

First published in Loch Raven Review.

 

That Mother by Roberta Beary

My daughter is watching Frozen with friend.
I am cleaning out the linen closet.
Here is my stash of perfume samples from Bloomingdales.
I put them in a little basket.

I want to be another kind of mother.
Who comes home and climbs into bed.
Wearing nothing but sample perfume from Bloomingdales.
I want to be that mother in the Long Bar at Raffles.
Sipping the perfect Singapore Sling.

Frozen is almost over.
I take my Singapore Sling and sit near my daughter and her friend.
They open all the packets of perfume.
My daughter gets to keep the little basket.

 

Lost in the Lines of Laundry by Jeff Burt

Three laundry lines in the backyard,
poles tilted toward each other
like an old couple, towels like windows,

sheets like doors, fresh opportunities
to happy worlds of hide-and-seek
where one boy is never found,

lost in the lines, sheets ruffled,
clothes pins scattered, basket hollow,
mother screaming, sisters crying.

Decades later the same discomfort
she said, a continent away.
Today at the dryer she shook
a sheet hoping I would fall out.

 

Diary Excerpt from a Year When I Hated Mother’s Day by Wilda Morris

It is hard hearing yourself called
a saint for adopting five children
when you know you are in
over your head, when the shawl
across your shoulders is guilt,
when the temper you never knew you had
is the warp, you sharp tongue
the woof of a tapestry of failure,
of flaws, of fault. Your hyper child
pulls his siblings into the vortex
and the whirlpool spins you
out of control. You take a bad
book’s parenting advice,
exit the back door and let loose
with a primal scream.
All it accomplishes is a sore throat,
a neighbor’s strange look.

 

Detangling by Maya Wahrman

I’m washing my hands,
the water scalds
then is comfortably hot.
Soap, lather, it hits
me, the smell of sarkál,
the Israeli conditioner my mom
once rubbed into our scalps, certain
soaps in this life smell
like this, that time
I had lice, the long salty
day at the beach. Last night
I was held asleep by
broad shoulders, the kind
into which you melt
protected. My unruly
hair tickling his chest.
But this strong smell,
chemical secrets and
security, a softness
that can only belong
in the past. My ima
sitting with me by
the tub, carefully combing,
my small frame
in her smooth thighs,
her free thumb circling
against my shoulder
to keep me calm.

 

Mirror by Catherine Zickgraf

She finds her firstborn son.
He appears in her Myspace search
the day he completes his childhood.

They share a cigarette on her front step
(and quit together soon thereafter).
They discuss his NA meetings, what it’s like
to be an eighteen-year-old high school junior.
She explains her hospitalization last summer—
how it surprised her to regress at thirty two.

He leans in to wrap arms around her shoulders,
sun icing over behind tree fringe,
smoke sky sliding into horizon. They wear knit hats
and both always sensed it, this bond beyond first sight.

 

Fissure by Timothy Pond

You have effected a masterful
disturbance upon the
landscape of my face.
It’s your m.o., it keeps
you dealer, driver, maestro,
Holder of the stick at the end of
the carrot,
the one and only well of
maternal approval.

Dry, dry–I drop my divining rod
in favor of an oil drill.
But in the dust bowl roulette,
neighboring farms can gush
and gush
and my one and only well
can stay dry.
And I can drill until
I crack a fissure monument
in the landscape
as the family business
perpetuates.

First published in The Bees Are Dead.

 

My Mother by Lynn Green

You were a crisp white shirt and a dry martini,
a bounding Labrador and Jackie O,
were center court at Wimbledon, essence of life itself.

 

Ripening by Megan Denese Mealor

mother was our madness
and our curves

even her silhouettes were silver

mother could grow marigolds
in november

she was our snake charmer

our static cling

 

Previously published in BROAD!

 

Nighthawks by Roberta Beary

tonight her breathing’s more shallow. i try to find her favorite songs. search quickly on my iPad. mack the knife by Bobby; replays of Vera’s, we’ll meet again. but mostly i just talk and she listens. eyes glued shut in coma-land. well past morning i kiss her rice-paper face. stroke her white hair. a voice is crying, calling mama, mama. a word back from dead. executed in the land of assimilation. just after noon mama curls in fetal position. i keep watch: rise and fall of out-of-breath beats. too soon it comes. ebb tide.

autumn coolness
enters a hand
long held in mine

First published in Tinywords.
hospice hands by Mercurywoodrose

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, Diode, Tinderbox, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. She’s the author of 4 poetry collections, including State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018). Her photos are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, The Chiron Review, and Nerve Cowboy. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives in Los Angeles. http://www.alexisrhonefancher.com

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

Jeff Burt lives in Santa Cruz County, California, with his wife and a July abundance of plums. He has work in The Monarch Review, Spry, LitBreak, Wisconsin Review, and won the 2017 Cold Mountain Poetry Prize.

Wilda Morris is President of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and Past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society. Her poems have found homes in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including Christian Science Monitor, The Alembic, Chaffin Journal and The Kerf. She has won awards for both formal and free verse, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her book, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant, was published by Rockford Writers’ Guild Press in 2008. Her poetry blog is found at wildamorris.blogspot.com.

Maya Wahrman graduated from Princeton University’s Department of History with certificates in Creative Writing and Near Eastern Studies. She currently work at Princeton’s Office of Religious Life on issues of religion and forced migration. She has opinion pieces published in the History News Network and the English and Hebrew editions of Haaretz, and have had poetry published in Lilith Magazine, Love, Struggle, Resist, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Copperfield Review, the Jewish Currents Poetry Anthology Urge, Sweet Tree Review, Heartwood Literary Magazine, and Nassau Literary Review.

Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan and three dozen other cities. She’s differently-abled now—walking with a cane and flying in her sleep—so her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write more poetry. Watch/read her at caththegreat.blogspot.com and run/jump while you are able.

Timothy Pond loves the Staten Island Ferry because it’s orange and a free way to escape Manhattan. She is named after the grass.

Lynn Green is British American and co-founded a Real Estate Brokerage in Austin, Texas. In 2012 she returned to college to complete a degree in creative writing and is now writing full time. Her first short story, Cheese Whiz, won a thematic competition in The Knot magazine. She has written two children’s stories, a novel, and is currently working on a series of short stories.

Megan Denese Mealor is a double Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been featured widely in numerous journals, most recently The Opiate, Maudlin House, The Metaworker, The Ministry of Poetic Affairs, Van Gogh’s Ear, Firefly, Poehemian, Fowl Feathered Review, Weekly Poetry, Visitant Lit, The Furious Gazelle, Rumble Fish, RAW, and Harbinger Asylum. Her debut poetry collection, Bipolar Lexicon: An Akathisia of Expressed Emotion, is forthcoming in October 2018 from Unsolicited Press. She also serves as a new volunteer reader for E&GJ Press. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her teens, Megan’s underlying mission is to inspire others stigmatized for their mental health. Her loves include alligators, air hockey, astrology, baking, swimming, snorkeling, crocheting, calligraphy, painting, beachcombing, ghost hunting, origami, and paintball. She lives in her native land of Jacksonville, Florida with her partner of six years, their four-year-old son, and two mollycoddled cats.

Mother’s Day Poems, Clutch One

Bougainvillea by Tamara Madison

She is brown like her shadow on hot ground
at high noon. Her hair, a dark bush, bounces
on top of her busy torso as she steps out — snap snap —
in rubber thongs in the pummeling sun
of a desert afternoon. Her arms are sinewy-thin,
muscular, she jokes, from beating children, and when
the baby sobs as Mommy leaves for wood shop class
or a meeting, she springs to the crib and shakes
the wailing child: “If you don’t stop that right now
I’ll beat you to a bloody pulp!” Her sunglasses flare out
toward her temples like the sly, outspoken fins on the powder-
blue Mercury that she steers with the same hand that holds
the Reader’s Digest while the other applies Bougainvillea
lipstick; a billowing fan of dust rises behind the speeding car
where the children rest on sticky vinyl seats, secure
in their mother’s love. Sometimes at night she fastens
rhinestones to her ears and poufs on pungent green perfume,
sets the cummerbund on Dad’s tuxedo so he looks
like a movie star with all the crop dust washed off him.
We watch them drive off toward a lurid sunset of blazing
orange and pink as night grows around the purple
shoulders of the mountains, and everything around us
smells of dirt and work and farm chemicals.

First published in The Belly Remembers by Pearl Editions

 

 

At Eighteen by Alexis Rhone Fancher

When I wanted to be seen
When I danced out to the edge
When I was so afraid to love

When I longed to be a Marilyn
When I slept my way to the top
When I opened my legs but not my heart

When I shouted at my mother over dinner:
“When I grow up I’ll be somebody,
not like you.”

When I took a lover twice my age
When I told him I wanted photos
wearing only my grandmother’s

ruby necklace
When he shot me, butt-naked on
my mother’s oriental rug

When I went home to flaunt the affair
When I fluttered a cache of the photos
onto her bed

When she walked to her closet and opened
the bottom drawer
When she handed me a large, blue envelop

When I looked at photos of my mother, naked,
her young face wicked, movie-star dreamy,
When I recognized the girl who wore only a ruby necklace

and looked like she had plans even bigger than mine

When she said, “I was only sixteen. He was forty.”

First published in Poets & Artists Magazine.

 

 

Infested Fruit By Ravitte Kentwortz

Mother had bitter orange
hair and breasts larger
than other moms in my boarding school.

She didn’t use them
to breastfeed. In her
kitchen, when I visited,

poppy seed rolls she rolled,
dropping condensed milk
into dough’s opened mouth.

Now in her seventies, she
bears on my table, heaving

to devour
peaches, a bushel
of wet peanuts.

Kale in the heat —
the ground lamb weeps.
Then sizzles.

Nana comes too. Time
her cellar filled with food
before the war, she says,

a good year for pears.
When grandfather was taken,
Nana hid. Torn

bags of grain
under her house. Halved frozen peaches
in the cellar.

When he returned, imagine
with what hunger
they had my mother — she says, time

she was tiny and blond, like
an infested fruit,

strapped
to his chest, mouth stuffed
with cloth.

Night
they packed her and rooted
for roots under brittle sugar.

Nana says, your mother
was held
by your father.

Her teeth cut teeth in his flesh.
She did not tell
of my roots,

that strapped her in so many veins,
taking her food. My father still
stands there —

as she batters her
belly with me in her
right hand, blue

blue stains of shriek,
stuffed blue, on
strawberry lips.

 

 

Mother by Mary McCarthy

I dreamed her wicked
with shining eyes
and long fingernails
that poked and pinched
an unexpected ambush
in a dark room
the sudden flash of teeth
erupting
from what was not
a smile-
another nightmare
with too many wrong turns
to take me anywhere new
She couldn’t really afford
long nails
with so much work to do
no time for any such
foolishness
for rage or spite
or the simple need
of a woman starving
out of sight
hidden behind
her many children
feeding them
feeding them
keeping nothing
for her own hunger

 

 

I Love You, Catherine, but I Don’t Like You by Catherine Zickgraf

Mother,
your words sounded fair at the time—
but they hung like ghosts in the air,
like Dad’s work shirts filed headless
on the basement line.

I’d watch for larks out the window at lunch
after buttoning all those shoulders onto hangers
in the breezeless dark.

 

 

Fallout by Carolyn McAuliffe

Fuchsia blooms flirt from thorny clusters of cacti to passersby, taproots plunge valley-deep chapped with thirst below the still, open road. The jointed cane cholla boasts petals in shocks of crimson, creamy white, and yellow like the billowy collars of a circus clown. Saguaros stand tall, fixed amongst the creosote, agave and shade of the nurse-mother mesquite. In communion and praise the elders bear their naked ribs and reach toward the open, sleepy sky.

I see you tug at the stretch of belt across your swollen midsection. I see your mind click and check and click again. So tired. Too many fitful nights tangled in damp sheets, pillows tucked between your thighs and wedged at the small of your back. You defend and you resist. You shift from supine to prone, roll left and right, while I dig my bony knees so hard from the inside out. Stretch and reach and push. I see you carry the weight of me for miles.

He flicks a cigarette butt out the window while a mournful tale of promises broken plays on the radio. You smile like a schoolgirl and imagine him singing it to you. You shake your head and watch him tap his fingers to the drum beat on the dashboard. You feel a kick and now you’re glad you had that second slice of pie at the diner 20 miles back. I see you peel back the flaky crust layer by layer, until the prongs of your tinny fork sink into the brown-sugared apple insides.

A sliver of light rips the sky wide open. A thunderclap sounds. A million tiny pieces of glass rain down on you, and him and her. You hold close the ink-eyed beasts circling from above. You embrace the barbed pads of the prickly-pear, ripping the fleshy skin until the juices erupt into a deep swell of grace. I split your belly in two and I am forcibly plucked from your core. Wings flap wildly as frayed feathers fall from the half-light sky.

With the tip of your finger you trace the fallout. Below your navel a thick, raised pinch of skin trails south. I see a razorback formed by the dry sweeps of wind, scorpions, and serpents of the sand. Did we quench our mouths on the well-spring? I see you push back the dry brush and brambles. On arid dust you choke with palms raised to the sky. You whisper, Lorraine. A pretty name, Mama. Very pretty.

 

8Mother_and_Child_II_by Graham Crumb

Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Verse Daily, Plume, Rattle, The American Journal of Poetry, Diode, Tinderbox, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. She’s the author of four poetry collections, including State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), Enter Here, (2017), and Junkie Wife, (2018). Her photos are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Witness, Heyday, The Chiron Review, and Nerve Cowboy. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. She lives in Los Angeles. www.alexisrhonefancher.com

Ravitte Kentwortz is an immigrant to the US. She studies philosophy in Colorado. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Posit, Portland Review, Caliban, MARY and others.

Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work published in many print and online journals, including Gnarled Oak, Praxis, Third Wednesday, The Ekhprastic Review and Earth’s Daughters. Her electronic chapbook Things I Was Told Not to Think About is available as a free download from Praxis Magazine.

Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan and three dozen other cities. But she’s differently-abled now—walking with a cane and flying in her sleep—so her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write more poetry. Watch/read her at caththegreat.blogspot.com and run/jump while you are able.

Carolyn McAuliffe resides in Southern California with her husband Mike and son Michael. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from San Diego State University. Carolyn’s work has appeared in a Wising-Up Press Anthology and The Motherhood Muse.

 

 

Lion mother photograph by David Dennis. Human mother photograph by Graham Crumb.

Cutaneous by Nicole Michaels

Old woman in a cool green sweater,
lying like a tissue paper frog on her bed.

Her head is a pond, too deep and long gone,
infrequent visitors leave wax

flowers at its crumbling banks.
Why shouldn’t she refuse

the social calendar charting October activities,
with its fiery hues and cartoon pumpkins,

fanning turkeys and buckled hats. All month
she’ll take her coffee in her room,

covering the cup with a napkin,
cradling herself between sips,

hands grasping the pads of her own elbows.
During breathing treatments she’ll slip

her face into the mask,
stare at the bubbler on the wall,

as a mist grows
and settles around the room,

until there is croaking and she
breathes through her skin –

 

 

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.

#MeToo; #GunViolence: Sara by Karen Silverstrim

She opened the door to the end. She could hear her son
splashing in the tub down the hall. She could see the intent
in his eyes, and she only thought, “hush” to her son.
“Don’t let him hear you.” She backed away from the door
and the gun, trying to placate, offering to talk. He had already
made up his mind though, the standard, “if I can’t have you,
no one will.” The shots rang out and stung her face like a bee,
as part of her jaw flew across the room. The end was quick,
but her final thought was her son. She didn’t close her eyes,
until she saw him turn the gun on himself. Her son would be safe.

 

 

Karen Silverstrim lives in western New York, spending her time hiking around the Niagara Gorge and teaching history.  Karen has been writing for forty-seven years, with publications in newspapers and literary journals in New York, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Canada.

 

Photograph by Ian D. Keating. 

She Tells Me to Write Her a Love Letter by Cori Bratby-Rudd

This dying rose smells like wet dog.
I can feel it panting through my fingernails,
stench floating over me, its particular brand of course hair
disintegrating into my ears.
I can taste the dark red
like the smell of expired wine.

Diana Gutierrez made me do this,
made me change the background of my iPhone
to this image of life.
What does it mean for a person to make us do something?

Puta, she muttered
As she was leaving.

A flea hopped onto my computer,
that’s why she left.
I killed it, come back!

I know that SpongeBob and Patrick totally fuck.
It’s a blue tickle of fact.
My mother told me to pick nothing

so I fly through a fan
and speak warped,
Come on Cori!
Get your shit together.

The curtain will rise
and here come the brides,
but only in a blank poster.

I have done nothing wrong and so I ask for forgiveness.
Unslam the doors and open a new can of original Pringles.

Dime algo en espanol,
Said her closed mouthed glasses.

The truth is I like rotted flowers
like a dog sleeping with one eye open.

 

 

Cori Bratby-Rudd is an eclectic writer from the Bay Area. As a recent graduate from UCLA’s Gender Studies department, and a current MFA candidate in Creative Writing at California Institute of the Arts, she enjoys incorporating themes of emotional healing and social justice into her creative and non-fiction works. She has been published in Ms. Magazine, DryLand Lit Press, FEM News, Canyon News, Rainy Day Magazine,  and Westwind Journal of the Arts. She recently received an editorial choice award in Audeamus’ Academic Journal for the best research piece.

 

Original photograph by BuzzFarmers.

Weave in, My Hardy Life by Walt Whitman

Weave in, weave in, my hardy life,
Weave yet a soldier strong
and full for great campaigns
to come, Weave in red blood, weave
sinews in like ropes, the senses,
sight weave in, Weave lasting sure,
weave day and night the weft,
the warp, incessant weave,
tire not, (We know not what the use O life,
nor know the aim, the end, nor really aught
we know, But know the work, the need
goes on and shall go on, the death-envelop’d
march of peace as well as war goes on,)
For great campaigns of peace
the same the wiry threads to weave,
We know not why or what, yet weave,
forever weave.

 

 

Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892.

Photograph of anti-Trump sit in, Mission District, San Francisco, by Pax Ahimsa Gethen.

#GunViolence: Two Poems by Lennart Lundh

June 2015, and Others

Gunshots don’t ring out.
Freedom rings. Coronets.
The voices of Sabbath choirs,
table graces, children at play:
These, I will agree, ring out.

Gunshots explode. Thunder.
Sunder flesh from blood.
Echo down the halls of ages
as they remind us of loss
in every firecracker overheard.

Gunshots salute. Pay semi-holy
tribute to Our victory over Them,
to more of Them dying than Us,
whether the war is institutional,
or against our individual targets.

12 June 2016: Again We Get It Wrong

Yesterday’s heat has given way to moderation, and I’m out front, down on my old, stiff hands and thick, aching knees, tending the varied wealth of our flower beds. Last year’s rose of Sharon volunteers need cleaning out, before they root so deep I’ll need a spade and back brace. Or maybe dynamite. There are days I’m almost frustrated enough to blow the place up and down and start over. Don’t worry. Ain’t gonna’ happen. I know better than to do that. But I swear this process will take forever. Meanwhile, it’s five days before the first anniversary of Charleston, and down in Orlando the clean-up crews aren’t even starting to get ready. The crime scene will take a week of forevers to process. A score dead, two score wounded, somebody with a score to settle. When they get fed up enough with whatever they’re personally, self-righteously fed up with, some folks just want the sound of gunfire to start over, to raise their spirits up and strike the others down. Why does the wrongness of this take forever for us to process?

Hopscotch_in_schoolyard author Jeremy Tarling

 

Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965.

 

Photographs: Students folding flag at end of the day, Central High School in Little Rock by Adam Jones; Hopscotch in school yard by Jeremy Tarling. 

#GunViolence: Turning Back the Clock by Matt Hohner

Eternal_clock

1.

We turn back the clock, surrender ourselves to the thudding
darkness, drag the cold sun out of its murky prison cell, scudding
lower across the sky by mere measurement. Daylight skews.
Are the scorched shadows of Nagasaki back in the news?
Is it August 1945, or is it Pyongyang, 2017? Oligarchs charm
the devil in designer suits, rattle radioactive warheads like bones
in a cup, tossing their isotopic nightmare I-Ching across farm
fields, oceans, and boardrooms, cashing out before Armageddon
with polished monuments ready for new names to prepay Charon
while we dope-step blindly into history, our eyes fused to our phones.

2.

The land shapeshifts under our feet. Time becomes a loop;
Is this Sand Creek, Colorado, 1864? Arapaho and Cheyenne
villagers and U.S. army cannons? Such glorious troops.
Is it Wounded Knee, 1890? No, this is Sandy Hook, Newtown,
Connecticut, 2012. The Indians are children. No. Look again:
it’s Columbine High School, 1999. The Indians are children,
the cowboys are children, and guns are still the weapons.
No. Fast-forward: Las Vegas, October 2017. The man
is not Crazy Horse or Leonard Peltier with a list of demands,
but a lone wolf on a losing streak in a hotel tower, raining down
bullets into twenty-thousand cowboys. A war rages in his head.
The blood congealing in an open field pools red.

3.

The calendar flips backwards through years, tired epochs,
time’s grim course sweeping across Charleston and Antioch,
21st Century, past Memphis, April 1968, circling and spinning
back to Birmingham, September 1963, Indiana, 1930. A grinning
crowd gathers to pose for pictures around the mangled sun
hanging low from a tree. But the clock says it is Sunday in
America, November 2017, rural Texas: parishioners
in their sacred hour kneel to muzzle flashes and perish.
Supplication, execution: here is the church, here is the steeple;
open the doors and kill all the people.

 

 

Matt Hohner, a Baltimore native, holds an M.F.A. in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. His work has been a finalist for the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, taken both third and first prizes in the Maryland Writers Association Poetry Prize, and won the 2016 Oberon Poetry Prize. Hohner’s work has been published individually in numerous journals, including Rattle: Poets Respond, Free State Review, and Crab Orchard Review. His book-length manuscript Thresholds will be published by Apprentice House Press in Fall 2018.

 

Eternal Clock photograph by Robert van der Steeg. 

 

Machine Hypnotism by Jamie O’Connell

on the subway tracks
bodies collide to expose
dirt inside of their souls,
stabbed with cold eyes.

I want to fry
the skyscrapers
and use the ashes
to build mountains,

take out the garbage
into a garden,
sit and stare at
the vaporized smoke.

tyrant explosion
given birth by
closed eyes of
coal and delusion.

we swell to the chords of
a planet drowned in oil,
the sun laughs
and runs away,

orbits into
another atmosphere,
allows our moons to drift,
unbound by gravity.

 

 

Jamie O’Connell currently lives in the Bay Area, where she received her MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. Her poetry can be found in Menacing Hedge, Troop Zine, Newfound, and Forth Magazine, and her multimedia work has been exhibited in College Avenue Galleries in Oakland. She spends most of her time with her majestic zebra-striped dog/direwolf, Daisy. Visit her site here: http://www.jamieoco.com

 

Photograph by Andrew Gray.

The Toy Room by Trish Saunders

Like the smiling boy in a Caravaggio,
his outstretched arms offer apples and pears.
He steps into our living room.

You know what happens next–overturned tables.
Flames shimmy up a tall mast;
Theseus abandons ship just in time. Amazon
women with impossibly thick muscles wrestle
cowboys to the ground. Fists meet chins.
Ruthless executions follow: by firing squad,
sword thrust, a shove overboard.

At six o’clock, dust motes settle,
we sink into our brocade chairs–cracked china figures
in green and gold. I’ve lost you, little brother, tough older sister.
Our knees ache.
Story hour’s over.

 

 

Trish Saunders divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Gnarled Oak, Busted Dharma, Blast Furnace Press, Off the Coast, Poets and Poetry, and Here/There Poetry.

 

Bickering Children by Bernhard Keil.

Dubai Days by Elizabeth York Dickinson

The water began boiling for tea and I blew away
leafy steam before tasting.
He doused his face and hands in a bird bath,
desperate to drown the senses.
My breasts absorbed the sun, their reflection echoing
off hundreds of city mirrors. The young, sprawling beauty
left it difficult for me to get up,
until I heard the swoop of curtains.
They would open again. The city has never known damage;
long ago the sun stopped
willing away twilight.

The history of his accented breeze, and serene kindness
was left at our backs.
Time was kept in Mecca, harmonizing with sleep.
The swish of my red taffeta skirt
on the white tiles of the palace floor,
a passage.
It gave me voice, so I removed it.
The chimes were delicate, crystal teardrops
fractured by an ebb.
I twirled to their sharp score
wearing my heart locket
with the weak clasp.
The chant called;
he accepted the profound offering of hand,
and dreamed of swallowing the sun.

 

 

Elizabeth York Dickinson received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She was a staff writer for The Costa Rica News and currently resides in Evanston, Illinois.

#MeToo: She Loses Her Memories by Janette Schafer

She swallows them down,
these memories of hate,
with whiskey and pills,
despises the cliche of it.
They drown the slap of
his unwelcome skin and
the sweat that drips
from his forehead into
her blank averted eyes.
She drowns his face
in a haze of forgetfulness
against his whispered mantra,
unhappy women
do not tangle the sheets.

Woman_holding_up_glass_of_green_liquid

 

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, former opera singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh PA. She was a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her poems and photographs have recently been included in the following: Unlikely Stories V, Event Horizons, Dear America, Reflections on Race, Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology, and Anti Heroin Chic.

 

Photograph, two woman enjoying a drink, courtesy of the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. 

Photograph, everyone’s invited, by SuicideGirls. 

Children of Light by Robert Lowell

Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones
And fenced their gardens with the Redmen’s bones;
Embarking from the Nether Land of Holland,
Pilgrims unhouseled by Geneva’s night,
They planted here the Serpent’s seeds of light;
And here the pivoting searchlights probe to shock
The riotous glass houses built on rock,
And candles gutter by an empty altar,
And light is where the landless blood of Cain
Is burning, burning, the unburied grain.

 

Robert Lowell, 1917-1977.

Photograph Joe Brusky. 

#GunViolence: Revelatory by Ken Allan Dronsfield

In this world of heartless consumption
waste of human life to the whipsaw;
children shot dead while at recess
never did so little mean so much
then when two deer in a field
saw you and you saw them
nothing else mattered…
as neither blinked…

 

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield is a disabled veteran, poet and fabulist originally from New Hampshire, now residing on the plains of Oklahoma. His work can be found in magazines, journals, reviews and anthologies. He has two poetry collections. The Cellaring is a book of 80 poems of light horror, paranormal, weird and wonderfully odd work. His newest book, A Taint of Pity, Life Poems Written with a Cracked Inflection, was just released on Amazon.com. He is a three time Pushcart Prize and twice Best of the Net Nominee for 2016-2017. Ken loves writing, thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night and spending time with his cats Willa and Yumpy.

 

Photograph by Mucki.

#MeToo: When Courage Finds Me by Alicia Elkort

Briton_Rivière_-_Una_and_the_Lion

When Courage Finds Me

 

Alicia Elkort edited and contributed to the chapbook Creekside, published under the Berkeley Poetry Review where she also served as an editor. Her poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and many others and is forthcoming in Black Lawrence Press. Alicia’s poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016) and the Pushcart (2017). She lives in California and will go to great lengths for an honest cup of black tea and a cool breeze.

 

Una and the Lion by Briton Riviere, depicting Una of The Faerie Queene. 

#MeToo: The Memory of Snow by Wren Tuatha

Women Floating by Kyle Ragsdale

Women Floating by Kyle Ragsdale, used by permission. 

The souls of women float just above the ground
as if walking on the memory of snow.
Ready to be air if struck, water if kicked,
stone if belittled, fire if ignored.

The souls of women laugh lightly in most moments,
beaming pinpoints through the skin. It makes you
want to touch. Priestesses and party dresses.

So you touch. Shocked to find flesh, you
notice a bad memory. Soon each woman is the
same woman and her soul is bitter lamplight,
bitter, insatiable lamplight.

The souls of women reel and swoon with
art and moon and business meetings. They
encircle bitter sisters and float just above the ground
as if walking on the memory of snow.

 

First published in Lavender Review.

 

 

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

 

Painting Women Floating by Kyle Ragsdale, used by permission. 

Weather by Tony Gloeggler

Weather Ben Newton

When we walk out the door,
Jesse’s respite worker asks him
about the weather. It’s February
in Maine and there’s snow
on the ground. He answers
“Clouds, wind, too cold.”
Still, I have to remind him
to zip his hoodie, ask maybe
we should go back inside,
change his sandals for socks
and boots. He blurts, “No
socks, no shoes” as I dig
my hands deeper into pockets,
trot to the car. His worker
turns down the radio,
shows him his cell phone.
A list of different cities
roll down the screen,
their current temperatures
next to them. The worker
points to one and Jesse
answers what he’d wear
if he were there, a coat,
or shorts and a tee shirt.
When the worker points
to another, Jesse pauses,
then says, “New York, Tony
house” and I wonder whether
he remembers that eight hour
U Haul drive when he moved
to Brooklyn the summer me
and his mom were in love.

Jesse, five and a half years old,
incessantly sweating and still
marching obsessively room
to room closing every window
tight; sitting on my lap, licking
the burnt orange remnants
of Extra Spicy Doritos off
his fingers as I talk on
the phone; subwaying
to the end of the F line
and jumping Coney Island
waves as it grows too dark
to see, playing Rosalita,
We’re Having A Party,
A Good Feelin’ To Know
on the stereo, blasting them
in the same exact order
anytime his mom called
to say sorry she’d be home
late again from work
as I lift him as high
as the ceiling, bounce
him on the bed over
and over until we both
run out of breath, ready
for a Beach Boys lullaby
to close our eyes, hopefully
help him, me, sleep
through the night, please.

 

First published in Trajectory.

 

 

Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City. His work has appeared in Rattle, The Raleigh Review, Chiron Review, New Ohio Review, Mudfish and Cultural Weekly. His full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw press 2002) and The Last Lie (NYQ Books/2010). Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) was a finalist in the 2016 Binghamton University Milt Kessler Poetry Book Award and focuses on his connection to an ex-girlfriend’s autistic son and thirty-five years of managing group homes for mentally challenged men in Brooklyn.

#MeToo: The Various Stages of Not Responding by Laura S. Marshall

Catcalling happens to other animals too
Startle blink and freeze
Saliva and metal
It doesn’t have to be a taser
You wait for things to be over with
You stay engaged

Figure out your own body chemistry
And what sets you off chemically
I remember what I wore
I wore this long flowy desert-yellow dress with sequins
I remember that I had a red scarf on my hair
I remember that creaky pleather jacket
Really I was just weighing myself down
The older I get
The more intentional I become

If you ask me if I have a sister I say no
It’s not even a level of I’m lying to you
Everybody has their arch-nemesis, right
We lie to ourselves
The thing I’m doing wrong is telling the truth
Which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal

I wouldn’t probably say it if I was your teacher
But I’m not your teacher so I can say it
There’s a poem that happens in four sections
The words are like duck duck duck duck duck duck duck
I wanted to write a poem about hands, and then I drew a hand

 

 

Laura S. Marshall is a writer and editor who lives in New England. She studied linguistics as an undergraduate at Queen’s University in Canada and as a grad student at the University of British Columbia. She has studied writing at the Ashbery Home School, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at UMass Amherst, and the College of Our Lady of the Elms. Her work appears or is forthcoming in literary publications including Epigraph Magazine, Lavender Review, Junoesq, and the Queen’s Feminist Review, as well as newspapers and trade magazines.

 

Art by Brooke Warren.

 

#MeToo: After the Funeral by Caroline Zimmer

because I’d read that morning, “death is a chore”
because our clothes dragged heavy with rain water
because you said I was still a whore
because my mother and my father
because the polaroids were still on the shelf
because my heartbeats were parched and sudden
because my Goodwill mourning dress carried more incidence than myself
because the airless moments were scored button by button by button
because the tall man at the gas station knew someone died
because you told your father its was “real sad”
because I’d watched you stash your muddy sneakers in the hedge outside
because the time we’d thought we had
because I’d seen my grade school teachers
because you apologized for all the animals you killed
because I’d once had a longing for Jesus
because you didn’t chastise me for all the pills
because the draft up the cypress stairs always made me an anxious lover
because you were still selfish after all your talk of being afraid
because I let you undress me like a martyr
because I was sick of being brave
because you said I was such a violent woman
because that same violinist played
because you chewed at my breast when I said we shouldn’t
because you said you should have prayed
because grief’s an arrangement like everything else
because the lurid order death and sex bring
because I cannot forgive God for death
with all these memories of living things

 

 

Caroline Zimmer’s poetry, as well as her visual art, has appeared in The Maple Leaf Rag, Umbra and Unspoken magazine. She is a lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans, where she lives with her Doberman, Iris and her fiancé, fellow poet, David Rowe. Caroline tends bar and reads tarot cards out of her home.

#MeToo: The Farm by Mary McCarthy

No one had worked it
since before the war
when they still plowed
with a horse
owning no tractor
or any machine
powered by more
than their own
arms and backs.
I knew it every summer
before I was nine,
a neglected eden
fields rough with weeds
and white with Queen Anne’s Lace,
a long hill of sweet grass
we rolled down laughing
again and again,
stopped at the bottom
as we came up against
flowering hedges-
the apple tree that,
split by lightning,
still bloomed and set fruit,
the old tangled orchard
where the small pears
my father loved
still grew untended-
and at the center
in the white house
the snake
who did not work
who lived on the first floor
and always managed
somehow
like a dog cutting out
one sheep from the herd,
to get you alone
in a corner,
where whispering lies and threats
he forces his rough hand
between your naked legs.

 

 

Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work published in many on line and print journals, including Third Wednesday, Gnarled Oak, The Ekhprastic Review, and Earth’s Daughters. She has been a Pushcart nominee, and has an e-chapbook available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

 

Photograph by Jerrye and Roy Klotz.

#GunViolence: Maracay by Janette Schafer

The Venezuela of my youth
had a cement washtub,
Abuela’s hands washing away
the heat of equatorial afternoon,

flashed a decadent Carnival
and I, a shy child with
thin hair, waved at the parade
in my clown costume,

joyed at the donkey piñata
at my sister’s first birthday,
children spun and spun
until they missed their mark and fell.

Today in Venezuela, raspy voiced
men walk the streets of Maracay,
rest their hands idly on assault weapons,
load poems into my quaking heart.

 

 

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, former opera singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh PA. She was a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her poems and photographs have recently been included in the following: Unlikely Stories V, Event Horizons, Dear America, Reflections on Race, Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology, and Anti Heroin Chic.

 

Photograph by Diosean.

I Long to Join the Conga Line by Trish Saunders

Anvar_saifutdinov_In_a_fur_coat

Even Jehovah’s Witnesses turn away from me now,
since I started wearing my fur coat
year-round

pervs in the park leave me be
’til some pop tune
reminds them I’m alone
in a world

where a woman can’t be alone
unless she’s lost a kid to a grave
somewhere

then she will be allowed a little madness
in peace.

Just warmth around my neck,
and kicking my heels in the
chorus–that’s all I ever wanted.

It’s simple–our fathers taught us to dance;
mothers warned us thin dresses
catch fire.

Don’t be afraid.
When a stranger steps forward
with an outstretched arm,
it only means you are not alone.

Even if you are.

 

 

Trish Saunders divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Gnarled Oak, Busted Dharma, Blast Furnace Press, Off the Coast, Poets and Poetry, and Here/There Poetry.

 

Painting In a Fur by Anvar Saifutdinov.