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Broom Dance

by Dilantha Gunawardana

 

Someone complimented me, saying
That I have beautiful hair; which either falls

From my ankles, or rises above my forehead.
Depends on which way you hold me….

I collect dead cockroaches and gecko droppings,
Like a spiky comb catches trespassing lice,

While dust, seemingly like dandruff, lifts
From a body and is assembled in

To a little collection. I’m no genius though!
I keep the little sorrows, or my melancholic blues,

Of seeing my hair fall, strand by strand, deep inside,
And still the floors, are like autumn earth,

Filled with fallen leaves. I pray piously,
That my days will not be numbered,

As I look at a partially-dead cockroach,
Frantically struggling to get back up

And I like a merciless guillotine,
Coming down on it, crushing the gauzy wings.

Sometimes, I see my tall dark master,
Dance with me, his hands curled like

A skipping rope around my waist, and I drifting
In and out, like a broomstick flame,

Braided locks, radiating around my ankles,
Those metatarsals lifting, and grounding;

My little toes at the very end, sliding
On a surface letting my feet – and heart –

Be led, knowing that a man who
Can take a woman places, on the dance floor,

Can take her anywhere, la la land, Emerald city,
Xanadu, orgasmic utopia, or the moon and back.

I let him take me away slowly, his hands
Going deeper down my slender hips, his grip

Gentle enough to yield, like a kite string from
A kite runner, and not as adamantine, as God’s hold,

Letting an electric feeling enrapture me,
Like how a kiss sends a current down the spine,

To the quiet whereabouts below a navel.
You can say, I’m a perennial woman

On a dance floor, my meadows of goose bumps,
Giving away secrets I try valiantly to hide,

Like a brilliant moon behind cumulus clouds.
How I let myself be glided on a surface,

My little toes like the front line of a war party,
My fingers, convulsing with feeling,

Letting a man with unassailable wrists,
Sweep me off, my featherweight feet.

 

 

Paper Boat Dreams

 

Tumbling down in a rush, in panic,
broken clouds, as white and loopy,
as Santa’s cotton wool beard, while in Africa,
conga drums are being played by zesty palms,
while dancers, do their magic around an open fire,
Calling upon the rain gods, to intervene.
The pitter-patter, the growl from the heavens,
the neon flashes, the evergreens turning greener,
while, beads of raindrops, on jade surfaces,
are funneled down a tubular leaf, as a child
with Gene Kelly shoes on, looks at a kaleidoscopic rainbow,
with a sense of glee, like a prophetic Noah,
who looked at seven bands of parallel running color,
on the heavens, as a harbinger, a beautiful sign,
that the floods were now finally over.
How that man, Noah, cut the boughs of Cedar trees
In modern day Lebanon, to build a sturdy boat,
while a little child of 7, folds an A4 paper, to build the softest hull.
How beautiful, that a miniature boat,
inside a child’s palms, made of commonplace paper,
can carry something more exquisite, than a timber body,
holding a cargo of paired animals.
How a little ragamuffin, carries on his paper ark,
a consignment, many folds richer,
than the merchandise on board
Noah’s cedar hull.

 

 

Wooly Mammoth Tusks

 

How tons of ivory, are found,
deep beneath Siberia and Alaska,
as the worst kept secret of the Arctic tundra.
A reminder that being big was a casualty
10000 years ago, and is now.
While the modern day elephant
plods on the savannah, knowing that
their distant cousins, paid the ultimate price
For being too conspicuous, for
being too gargantuan.

How African elephants have more
tusks than the Asian counterpart,
the former called by the genus name Loxodonta,
Which means slanted tooth, of which,
there are two extant species;
africana, the bush elephant, and cyclotis, the forest elephant.
While the Asian elephant, walks
in troupes, less threatened by modern-day poaching,
Although they too fall easy prey
to man’s lust of ivory.

How paleo-indians brutalized mastodons
In the Americas, while hunters in Siberia,
killed wooly mammoths, to the point of extinction.
How ivory, in the contemporary,
is a prized item at auctions, and precious memorabilia
for collectors. While a businessman in Shanghai,
impatiently awaits, for the delivery
of two wooly mammoth tusks,
to embellish his study.

How the behemoth phenomenon
scientists call climate change, has bred
a new form of ivory trade;
how wooly mammoth tusks are found,
below a melting permafrost, like,
a milk tooth beneath a pillow,
waiting for the riches,
of a magnanimous tooth fairy.

 

 

BIO

DILANTHA GUNAWARDANA is a molecular biologist by training, yet identifies himself, as a wordsmith, papadum thief, “Best Laksa” seeker, poet of accident and fluke, hoop-addict, a late bloomer on all fronts, ex-quiz-druggy and humor-artist, who is still learning the craft of poetry. Dilantha lives in a chimerical universe of science and poems. His poems have been accepted for publication /published in Kingdoms in the Wild, Heart Wood Literary Magazine, Canary Literary Magazine, Boston Accent Lit, Forage, Kitaab, Creatrix, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry, Zingara Poetry Review, The Wagon and Ravens Perch, among others. Dilantha has two collections of poetry, Kite Dreams (2016) and Driftwood (2017), published by Sarasavi Publishers, and is working on his third poetry collection and a book of haiku poems. Dilantha was awarded the prize for “The emerging writer of the year – 2016” in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka, while being shortlisted for the poetry prize, in the same awards ceremony.

 

 

 

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Vulvae

by Steven Ratiner

 

The plural, tongued by Latin.

Tight-lipped like oysters,
a muscular desire holding fast
to their brined solitude.

Just the tip – the pleading of
ten thousand thousand smooth-
cheeked boys – but, with a quick
thrust and twist, the fervid blade
shucks the universe.

And where does that leave us?
Sun horned like a minotaur, still tethered
at the center of things.
The wavery desire of revolving stars.
And homeward sailors with
full sails on turbulent seas,
longing to sleep again in their own beds,
leaning into the Pleiades.

Vulvae is what the Roman gods
murmur, pretending to say love,
preparing to rain down
disaster via bolts
of priapic lightning. Vulvae,
the weary sigh of those open vowels,
that oldest of mortal odes from which
all worlds, sacred and profane,
are ushered into being.

Vulvae, I am old now and
seasick with fever. I close my eyes,
let memory slip its moorings,
and count them like sheep.

 

 

Old Satyr in a Second-hand Tux

 

I don’t care to belong to any club
that would have me as a member.
He’d cribbed Groucho’s good line,
made it his gospel. And copied,
as well, the black smear across his upper lip
as if he’d been gobbling darkness.
Like it or not, Member in Good Standing of
The Fraternal Order of Breathers and Weepers.
Late night – his breath a miasma of
good scotch, bad snatch, rancid tears – he’d
mope by the wrought iron gate of the cemetery,
thinking: look how damned pristine their
marble pillows! Mossy beds laced in moonlight,
how goddamned beautiful! I’d
lay my head there in a heartbeat if only
that tight-lipped quiff would let me in.

 

 

King David

 

wielded both harp and sword, and guess
which did the most damage? Which
one’s flourish yielded the most tears?

As sovereign, he could make love his guest,
conscripting the loyal husband for a sandy ditch
beside a battlefield. (Psalms have tongues but no ears.)

Between rivers, between a woman’s legs – the surplus
by which kingdoms flourish and kings touch
history’s bloody hem. The old gods are buried here.

 

 

 

BIO

STEVEN RATINER has published three poetry chapbooks and his work has appeared in scores of journals in America and abroad including Parnassus, Agni, Hanging Loose, Poet Lore, Salamander, QRLS (Singapore) and Poetry Australia. He’s featured in the new anthology Except for Love – New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall. The poems appearing in The Writing Disorder are part of a new full-length manuscript entitled The S in Sex. He’s also written poetry criticism for The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post.  Giving Their Word – Conversations with Contemporary Poets was re-issued in a paperback edition (University of Massachusetts Press) and features interviews with many of poetry’s most important figures.

 

 

 

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Where You At

by Jerry Tyler

 

Childhood dreams. Play acted without boundaries or borders. Destination unknown. Past perspectives. By design or default. Dreams can come true. Children are true believers in dreams. Relay and rewind your dreams. Design. Past dreams/future designs. Dreams may feel “gone” but not forgotten.

I see the future as yours, already arrived. Time planning, for seeing fortune as reality. Define. Definite dreams can become goals. Goals are achievable dreams. There are no restrictions on the yet unseen. If you believe, you can conceive your future.

Where you are may not be “where you at.” If you want change to where you want to be. Shift your present self. Today! If it’s in your power. If you are “where you’re at.” Congratulations your future is infinite. Refine. Where you are today is fluid to change as desired. Push hold not stop. Present is fluid.

 

UFO

Kyomi and I were leaving Asakuma Sushi at dusk. As we walked up the hill to my car, Kyomi turned toward the South. UFO Jeremy-san. UFO.

There they were. Five UFOs. Four colors apiece. Spinning between the stars and LAX. Flight pattern. Jetting and dancing. Oblivious to our startled gaze. Other diners joined us. There is a flash and they eject and disappear. Silently we drive to drop Kyomi at home. Goodnight, Jeremy-san. Goodnight, UFO.

Why are you so late. What do you say? UFO. Really. Yes, really. You really expect people to believe that? No one believes me save my parents who saw them during WWII. 1944.

 

The Inside Job

The you only you know. Stripped bare. Your deepest, purest being. The you nobody knows. What do you see in the dark? The you when no one is looking. Purely you. Straight, no chaser.

 

The Us Factor

How you relay and interplay with those close to you. Ideally 1+1 = 3. Synergy. Synchronicity. What you want and seek in others. Give and take? Do you lead or follow? Game observer, player or gamechanger. What do your players look like? Interpersonal intimacy. Honest exchange.

 

The WA

Public person. Who is your fanbase? Perception versus reality. Public versus private. Alignment or disparate. (Polar opposites). Collective persona en mass. The super you. Image/reflection. What is your “we?”

Personality multiplicity.

 

 

BIO

Jerry Tyler is a “Contemporary Classic Writer.” His background ranges from LA Noir to Interpersonal Growth Counseling and is reflected in his style of writing. He is an in demand educator and facilitator for creative writing at Studio 526 as well as a world published contributing columnist in various genres.

 

 

 

 

 

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You Are My Brother

by George Cassidy Payne

 

I don’t give a damn about Ancestry.com.
You are my brother.
And I don’t give a damn if it’s on a census
or family tree.

You belong to me and I belong to you.

We are both spear points among the found
bones of our children’s great grand-children.
We both work to figure out the clues of expansion–
those notions of what may exist if we are not afraid.

We are brothers.

We are mapped out by a shared cosmic background,
both sculpted by the same glowing sheets of bodies
bathed in big, solitary, Texas-sized machines called egos.

 

 

The Same Sorcerer

 

It takes light about
a second to travel
from the Moon to the Earth.

It took me less than
a second to know that

I was in trouble by the way
you hold a cigarette.

You hold it like a wand
of lit magnesium.

In your index finger it has
a snap to it, and I wonder why
I am suddenly chasing my own tail.

That’s not red
you are wearing.

Red does not fit like that.

That is a color painted
on the wall of a pyramid.

Rust-hued and magnificently
unfamiliar, it is brighter than
the gold shining off the handle
bars of a king’s royal tomb.

And then there is that look in
your eyes. They throw sparks like
two nickels thrown into a campfire.

Smiling like a blowtorch, your gale-
roiled black waves blow up
in a magical black mushroom cloud.

I believe we are cursed by the same sorcerer.

 

 

 

BIO

George Cassidy Payne is a poet from Rochester, New York (U.S.). His work has been included in such publications as the Hazmat Review, Allegro Poetry Journal, MORIA Poetry Journal, Chronogram Magazine, Ampersand Literary Review, Pulsar, The Angle at St. John Fisher College and several others. George’s blogs, essays and letters have appeared in Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, USA Today, the Toronto Star, The Havana Times, Nonviolence Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the South China Morning Post, The Buffalo News, Rochester City Newspaper and more.

 

 

 

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Inverted Perspective

by John Zedolik

 

Tree reaches to grasp the sky
with angled talons, while its roots—
fierce—wing through the soil
that supports the pressure and weight

upon that nest of blue or rain,
under which leaves, buds, and fruit
may bloom then drop, dying to more earth
that will support the chance of flight

upon seasons of current and clime
though not of song, which, buried
in the rich, deep dirt that douses notes,
may only induce the tremor of a lone green blade.

 

 

Full Time

 

The streets of Tarquinia are sparse
and even more so where the town
ends at weathered walls and drops

            into steep, forested scarp,

So reaching the limit, it is time
to wend out of these old-blocked

confines into fields that undulate
like Van Gogh’s

Wheat Fields after the Rain (The Plain of Auvers)

but more parched, old gold on this peninsula
farther south though near the sea

Le domeniche sono vuote,
Ma questa è una buona cosa

                        *

The way winds like a long wavelength
to tombs named for the painted
leopards, augurs, bulls

—as D.H. Lawrence described
in his literate guide to Etruscan places—

and steps down to the depth where progress ceases
at Plexiglas, younger guardian of those fragile
beasts and men

to step up again to another until all resting places
are taken in

                        *

And some day west across the ocean
alone atop a bicycle on the South Side
ascending the thickly-housed slopes

where
Sundays are empty,
and that is a good thing

to pause on the incline and shake
for a gentle moment a once tended tree
whose green apples still draw the birds

the augurs—like those in the pigment of millennia—
might study in flight

to know the future, which lingers
even until and after the tending of orchards
that still blossom and burgeon into fruit.

 

 

Work Ready

 

Mr. Konipki kept O’Connor
in the small, glassed-in classroom
that muffled the kid-industrial clangs,
with its high tables and chairs

of matching, creaking height
until he could do his fractions,
while we were released into the forges
of the shop where we would toss

pennies and express our amusement
as they heated Lincoln to a glow.
We might have melted pens as well
while O’Connor sat in a high chair,

Konipki red-faced (rumored to enjoy
his immoderate drop) and white-fingered
from the endless chalk nubbed to his cropped
nails in repeated blackboard scrape.

I don’t remember if O’Connor (in five
years, reported to have blown off two-fifths
of his right-hand fingers, firework-foolish)
made it out while we—competent crunchers

of numerators, denominators, true—worked
the alloy of adolescence in the flames
and coals with few useful implements twisted
and hammered to show and ever fewer goals.

 

 

Pons Modestvs

 

I ask only for a hand at the end,
a last bridge to the living,

the pulse of blood under skin
at ninety-eight degrees

and the support of carpals
and their meta kin, firmer

than those craft Xerxes and Caesar
lashed ’cross Hellespont and Rhine,

respectively, though of similar
spring but much less pride and durance,

just a wisp of a warm strand before my struts,
beams slacken, grow cold and still

—withdraw across the gulf to a shore
no flesh-heat will ever reach.

 

 

BIO

For thirteen years John Zedolik taught English and Latin in a private school. Eventually, he wrote a dissertation that focused on the pragmatic comedy of the Canterbury Tales, thereby completing a Ph.D. in English. For the past four years, he has been an adjunct instructor at a number of universities in and around Pittsburgh. He has published poems in such journals as Aries, The Bangalore Review (IND), Commonweal, Orbis (UK), Paperplates (CAN), Poem, Pulsar Poetry Webzine (UK), Poetry Salzburg Review (AUT), Third Wednesday, Transom, and in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He recently published a full-length collection, Salient Points and Sharp Angles (CW Books), which is available on Amazon.

 

 

 

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Moon vs. streetlight

by Casey Killingsworth

 

In the morning
I watch raccoons
or rather raccoon shadows
moving across the lawn,
the animal itself
somewhere else, probably
still asleep, while the shadow
of it skinks around looking
for food. Before the
imperious sun has time
to chase these shadows
away, I watch lighter
light compete with
itself, watch the
moon, shy as she is,
stretch to overcome a
streetlight, neither
of them strong enough
to turn a shadow into
a raccoon.
I watch the moon
assert herself,
momentarily, and
then defer to the sun
as it comes
from what we
recklessly call
the east, watch her
wither against a brother
too hot and too light
to fight, until I come
back down the stairs
tomorrow morning,
you know, another day.

 

 

 

BIO

Casey Killingsworth has been published in The American Journal of Poetry (forthcoming), Common Ground, COG, Two Thirds North, and other journals. He has a book of poems, A Handbook for Water (Cranberry Press, 1995), and a book on the poetry of Langston Hughes, The Black and Blue Collar Blues (VDM, 2008). He graduated from Reed College.

 

 

 

 

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Time is a Whisper

by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

 

Time is a
whisper
that grows
to a
scream
in the pregnant
belly of
evening
under stars
not fully
formed.

Time always
squeaks by
twisting
its mouse
tail
in dark boarded
up houses
searching
for a hole
to crawl
in.

 

 

At Sea

 

The last agony
I left at sea,
the moon as witness
from its sky home.
The last time I wept
was at sea, the
first time was in the
hospital and
it was day one
of life in the world.
Sea was where I went,
always the sea,
where I spent my days
with my love and
my heart’s real terror.

 

 

Grain of Rice

 

In a grain of rice
I hid my verses,
a tiny island
of dark messages
trained to remain hushed.

Difficult to see,
verses disappear;
they become lost in
the thin grain of rice.
The words become lies.

The verses appear
as the grain of rice
becomes two, three, four,
hundreds of grains of
rice, boiled, with garlic

and salt added; soy
sauce, butter, slices of
bananas, onions,
and tomato sauce.
The verses appear.

 

 

Reading In

 

I have been reading in
I take a lot of
small breaks. I have
been gleaming over words
that I wish I had written.
In the backyard birds
sing like I wish I could
too. The whole day
I do not go out
because I am reading in
My eyes become
weary. The car sits
idle in the driveway.
The sun peeks in from
outside. The garbage
is in here. I have not
written a thing.
I have been reading in
I have made no effort
to go out. I feel free.
I do what I want to do.

 

 

 

 

BIO

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal, born in Mexico, lives in Southern California, and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. His first book of poems, Raw Materials, was published by Pygmy Forest Press. His other poetry books, broadsides, and chapbooks, have been published by Alternating Current Press, Deadbeat Press, Kendra Steiner Editions, New American Imagist, New Polish Beat, Poet’s Democracy, and Ten Pages Press (e-book).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The heart tats

by Nanette Rayman

 

 

If my body seems both supple and potential
now and again, getting nothing you’d dreamed of does this—
I smoke, bedroom-faced, my heart an air raid,
all battings and panic, the fatal flaw that keeps you all away,
sadly away on the 6 train and the bookshop,
while the sun’s lunge does nothing to skew the deck
of fate, the stroke of July, the sky spread limb-to-limb by gutting clouds
over city streets where I still search for a job. My busy body’s lithe
as a ballerina, half on the sidewalk, half in the crook of a mugger’s arm,
one bolt away from eating the scrim to the next world, as I did
once at nineteen. So much beauty, he’d leered, behind his Buick wheel, how
a starched nurse had to hold my hand for the pelvic, the stitches.
How many times I’ve told you it was a friend, a woman who told me
to get in his car—he’s cool. Inside old grief, memory grouses, it expands galaxies.
Inside my sweet white white sundress, my heart tats and now and again is free.
So, darlings who look and then look away—subconsciously aware—of my play,
do not press me or collar me, enter through the porch door
with itinerary in-hand, how you plan to scale the highest lights,
seduce me now with cowboy feet, purple roses spotted with dew
while I slip quietly out of my dress, ligature dog-gone.

 

 

Lost to Casper, Sleet, Snowballs, Tension, Top Gun

 

The vast orange fire blossoming in your flesh
proxy-sleets in my gut. Around you is the tension
wizard where the space between is intricate igneous swirls—
strobe lights, stage lights in the slough around a fort
adorned and adored by top gun carcasses—the color of
Collared Treepees. The chatter-alarm sounds unnoticed
in this borderless refurbished land, deriding
you at the bend of Southern Boulevard, hiding in the sealed
Laundromat as a front, wayfaring at the speed of snowballs
through Kibbles ‘n Bits rooms, your breath Hubba Bubba—
That is your soul now, Casper—your soul always
Arrière on my fingers, crumpled snowball and lost—you
were so blistered, broken, bellicose, honing your top gun bad
man vagabundo body into baggy. You walk so slow, so slow, down
Kelly Street, yet you disappear like Houdini in the scraps
of Hood. No headlights can find you and the plangent
sounds of death gurgling from your pus-erupting lips—and you
—a bullet I would love to talk to again one day.

 

 

Slowly, Slowly, Alive—South Bronx

 

This is not the neighborhood for you, my ex-friend said. Played with a French fry,
eyed through the coffee shop’s sun-collared window a murder of crowing guys
storm-trooping down the street as I lit a smoke forgetting I was in AmeriKa.
Ex has no idea she’s a dog. Turning me away did not become her. She had set out
flowered tea cups for coffee the day I wanted to leave my husband. She folded
rosy napkins and clicked her teeth. He’s a rat, better without him. The heart
of a rat—how she hovers over the menu as the living ghost of a beauty
queen, once, lost mother-never-had with forests of Buttonball trees
Port de Bras living and living and living in my heart.

Remember the rent spent on that drug? I remember locks
changed and my husband mud-caked and kaleidoscoped in his own
sky with tears, meadows of dandelions and violets dying in his ribs. Planted
urchin on the street begging to come home. I remember looking for work
being laughed at for saying I have what it takes, I remember relenting as a fool
and bringing my blistered man home and I remember hands around
my throat as Bazooka-blown gratitude. I remember her turning me down
when I asked to stay one night.

On our way out Ex caught my hand with her hand. Placed cash. Sneered
away from the crows coming in. Let’s get outta here! I flinched. Not Nephilim,
she uttered grabbing for her own smoke—Merit 100. Take care of yourself
she said through swirly rings, the chain-link fences, the oily land of tire
shops. Stinks of middle earth, she said. I’m going to live, like this.

 

 

BIO

Nanette Rayman, poetry books:  Shana Linda Pretty Pretty, Project: Butterflies, two-time Pushcart nominee, Best of Net, DZANC Best of Web, winner Glass Woman Prize. Publications:  The Worcester Review, Sugar House Review (newpages.com), Stirring’s Steamiest Six, gargoyle, Little Rose Magazine, isthmus, Scarlet Leaf Review, Red Wolf Journal, Seventh Wave, The Scarlet Leaf Review.

 

 

 

 

 

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investment

by Laurinda Lind

 

while still young
and strong you

stumbled across
yourself and though

it burned, burned,
you had the sense

to let it have you
so that now you

explode without
effort, one great

flash to guide your
feet because once

you wanted to walk
over coals.

 

*Originally published in Lucid Moon

 

 

New Cycle

 

These are times
I lack you, rays
the same length,

the sun, the simple
warmth, each

time meteors
miss one other

in transit as I keep
sliding off from

every known space.
Out where we spin
in separate skies.

 

*Originally published in The Aguilar Expression

 

 

Backdive

 

You said, I dreamed
we met all over again.
You brought me a canoe
crammed with questions.
We stood at the edge
worried since the water
was filthy with scissors:
I braved a backdive. You

barely sank. Last,
you said, At least
we have ten years till
the end of the end. Now
we’re at nine and reason
says we’ve arrived,
survived whatever
submerged in secret.

Yet, with less than a year
left to go I wish I were sure
we got to the shore, or
whether we still have
to be heroes who walk all
the way through the underwater
hazards, for as long as it
takes till we climb clear.

 

*Originally published in Newsletter Inago


 

Hoopsteeled

 

Maybe heaven hurts
this way, regretting
its riot of free will. If

our two selves weren’t
sewn so horribly together,
both of them might bend

backward through ring
on ring in time to take it all
back, and either could

wheel away, hare off,
shed sparks like crazy.
Like the circular heart.

 

*Originally published in Ellipsis

 

 

  

BIO

Laurinda Lind lives in New York’s North Country. Some poems are in Blue Earth, Dryland, Indefinite Space, New American Writing, and NonBinary Review; also anthologies Visiting Bob [Dylan] (New Rivers) and AFTERMATH (Radix). In 2018, she won the Keats-Shelley adult-poetry prize and the New York State Fair poetry competition.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sex with Her

by John Califano

 

 

sex with her was
caring
sex with her was
nurturing
sex with her was
magical
sex with her was
transforming
sex with her was
at times
            so
            fucking
            good
even the neighbors
needed
a cigarette


 

Untitled I

 

like Heathcliff roaming the moors
believe in you me, I know
not just your nicotine scent, but your DNA
no more to kiss
no more to hold
alone I am left
with still love in my heart
        c r u s h e d
by the vision of seismic possibilities
lost – yet not forgotten
I can now count them one by one
as I reside
painted and varnished
on the head of a pin


 

Untitled II

 

alone
in my mother’s womb
piglet with no siblings
I still
in the dark of my room
can toss
and turn
and hear
her moan

 

 

Homeopathic Food for Thought

 

on my corner
I watch, half naked
a homeless man
rummaging through garbage
my specialty of the day
clearly recognizable from the window
of the health food store
where
I
down
my daily dose
of popular antitoxins
and quietly pray

someone

somewhere

save me

 

 

 

BIO

John Califano grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and lives in Manhattan where he works helping at-risk parolees transition back into the workforce. He’s worked as a writer, actor, visual artist, and musician, and has performed in clubs, art galleries, feature films, and Off-Broadway productions. He recently completed NOTES FROM DOWN UNDER, a collection of poems, and JOHNNY BOY, an autobiographical coming-of-age novel. His work was recently featured in The Broadkill Review and The Willesden Herald’s New Short Stories Series (UK), as well as in Embark, an international literary journal for novelists.

For more information please visit: www.johncalifano.com

 

0

THIS TRACE OF SERENITY

by R.T. Castleberry

 

I’ve spent the hours
watching overflights of airliners,
choppers bank low, in line
with hospital spires.
Blue jay and robin dart
from oaks to feeding field.
A grey calico cat makes
his run across cracked tarmac,
tail flicking through a broken fence.
A spoiling cloud builds to the west.
The day seems a haiku
of mechanics and the wild.

 

 

AT THE INTERVAL, A DRINK

 

The Sunday wind rising,
a widow, weary at her stories,
drapes stone stairs with
garlands of ivy, white tulips,
a liturgy script.
Lizards crawl the layered length.
Service dogs seethe at their leashes,
pyres seize the air.
Neighborhoods overlap cratered sidewalks,
collapse into colonias raging color,
into gated beige or brown.
Rain in callous intervals
washes out the gardening earth.
Take this as best lesson:
winter on the cusp,
the widow will have her Manhattan very cold,
will endure the chasing flurry of
starling, sparrow, blue jay.

 

 

ROLES OF PROVOCATION

 

Winded,
I can barely raise my head.
Grieving strains like gravity.
I lean on my desk,
keys twirling on one finger,
slapping into my palm.
The outer window previews
carnival propulsion,
the integrity of the Ferris Wheel
distinct through a desert sky.
Samaritans at a safe distance
place 911 calls and side bets.
A sniper engaged in his mystery
fires the higher floors,
dictates release terms,
roles of provocation.
I’ll explain three times, he says.
The fourth is a last clue.
A sanctioned celebration rackets seamless—
fireworks and lasers,
Otis Redding and Roadhouse Blues.
Floodlights shill hotel flags.
Drinkers flood the inside bars,
dance patios left to triage.
I’ll take away
the ash of this evening
through checkout, through a taxi ride,
through an airline chat:
I missed it at dinner across town.
Yes, it was close. I was lucky.

 

 

THE NARRATIVE COMES APART

 

I take this story,
weave it as Elijah’s task, a magi’s trial,
Thursday through Sunday, weeks at a time.
Cryptic as a Hummingbird,
someone typed the comment:
shift the pitch from
red to silver, timbre to tremolo.
We’ll watch it take
a Southern wing, a Western swing.
The dream in reverse, inverts,
shimmies dishonest as a minor key.
The running sea a lyre tossed upon the rocks,
I’m awake in Mendocino.

 

 

 

BIO

R.T. Castleberry’s work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, Silk Road and Argestes. Internationally, it has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. He has poetry in the anthologies: Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, Kind Of A Hurricane: Without Words and Blue Milk’s anthology, Dawn. My chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

0

WITHIN REACH

by Roger Singer

 

A gift of words
is the magic
the key opening
clouds

healing holds the
temperature of the room
diamonds rise
as leaves fall

a newness provides
the power like rivers

broken stars mend

what was lost
resurfaces

the moon glazes
onto meadows with
smoothness

 

 

WAITING

 

Walking the dream
on legs without stars

a release drives within
like seasons changing
from equatorial spinning

pushing us against
celestial misgivings
of unanswered prayers

where
whispers and voices
strain through burlap
separating the living
from storytellers

as miracles wait
to be called out
from hiding.

 

 

 

BIO

Roger Singer has been in private practice for 38 years in upstate New York.  He has four children, Abigail, Caleb, Andrew and Philip and seven grandchildren.  Dr. Singer has served on multiple committees for the American Chiropractic Association, lecturing at colleges in the United States, Canada and Australia, and has authored over fifty articles for his profession and served as a medical technician during the Vietnam era.

Dr. Singer has over 1,000 poems published on the internet, magazines and in books and is a Pushcart Award Nominee.  Some of the magazines that have accepted his poems for publication are:  Westward Quarterly, Jerry Jazz, SP Quill, Avocet, Underground Voices, Outlaw Poetry, Literary Fever, Dance of my Hands, Language & Culture, The Stray Branch, Toasted Cheese, Tipton Poetry Journal and Indigo Rising, Down in the Dirt, Fullosia Press, Orbis, Penwood Review, Subtle Tea, Ambassador Poetry Award Massachusetts State Poetry Society, Louisiana State Poetry Society Award, Mad Swirl Anthology 2018.

 

 

 

 

0

April

by Holly Day

 

You wake me up to tell me
that the snow has come back
that the garden outside is completely
obscured in white. You say it much too loud
for this sort of news
for this early in the morning, almost joyful.

Half-asleep, the resentful part of me believes
perhaps you are responsible for the snow.

I drag myself out of bed and call the dog
who comes, joyful at the prospect of a morning walk.
I put on her leash and we step outside
into a world buried in white snow
the tips of new tulips, the green sprays of crocus
already shriveling and darkening in the cold.

 

 

If I Knew Braille

 

If I knew Braille, perhaps I could read
the graffiti of purple-mouthed limpets clinging
to old, sea-washed boulders
the secret Bibles of zebra mussels clinging to dry-docked boats
the last, profound gasps of snails and slugs dried out in clumps
on the sun-baked pavement in front of my house.
There may be language in the teetering piles of droppings

the rabbits have scattered throughout my yard
written in squirrel on the skin of half-nibbled tulip bulbs
lifted from the ground and carried into the trees
in the fresh pattern of teeth marks gnawed into the table leg
by the dog. I am missing too many important things
because I don’t know how to read.

 

 

Housewarming

 

We fill our home with mismatched groves of pine and oak and
molded plastic chairs, put monogrammed napkins
at every place setting. The scientists come right on time
to study our relationship, offer kind, unwelcome comments
as we pass plates laden with meat and cheese
refill their glasses with wine.
This one is my father, that one is your mother,
there are others, too.

They exchange notes, compare findings,
shake their heads and sigh
at something incurable, intangible, inconsolable.
We make excuses for the new furniture
for the condition of the house
for the awkward weather
for each other.

Later, in the dark, I feel the splatter-marks
of acne scars on your skin
try to read the dents of Braille graffiti on flesh
the broken ribs that spell out “joy”
the tiny scars that spell out the longings
that will never be met. This place
will never smell like home, just as you
will never be completely naked around me. In the end
you will leave me
howling, all alone, at the moon.

 

 

 

BIO

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry collections are A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press); In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press); A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing); I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.); and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press).

 

 

 

 

 

0

Spirit Named Forest

by Marvin Rosel

 

A long time ago when father God created the spirits before He created man He saw the earth dusty and rocky. He liked what he saw but his heart wasn’t satisfied, so He created a spirit named Forest. He told Forest to cover the whole planet at the beginning of time, to turn it green and colorful and to make himself be present everywhere as a sacrifice of beauty to God who had created him. Forest did as God requested and other spirits were following Forest’s path—animals, flowers, and humans. But God told Forest there will be a time that those you give shelter, food, and resources will try to cut you down. They will put stone over you and you won’t be able to breathe anymore. They will set you on fire and water will cover you God told Forest. But yet from deep inside, Mother Earth won’t forget about you and I will tell her to turn on her fire and she will make volcanoes erupt until everything that has tried to destroy you repents. Then as a signal I will tell the  spirit of water to cover earth completely. Your beautiful spirit will rejoice that day because nothing will harm you again and it will be a new day, a new start for you Spirit named Forest because thanks to you I see life in this planet I created. Then I will be pleased said God.

 

 

 

Got You

 

It is another beautiful day in Southern California, sunny and warm, perfect weather for the people living in Los Angeles. In one of the neighborhoods of the City of Angels dreams are born like bread coming out of an oven. Raven opens her eyes and with the right purpose, she wanted the right pet so she went looking for a fish. She didn’t like the fish at the pet shops, then she went to the Los Angeles River but didn’t like how the river was. She moved on and went to the beach. She got in the water and came across a big surprise, a colorful, beautiful fish that had a sign attached to it that said “I Got You.”

 

 

 

Dancing Can

 

The sardine is trapped in the can. It moves. It shakes. It is in there. The sardine is alive. “Can you pass me the sardine can?” I asked my beautiful daughter. She screamed, “Papito, Papito, the can is alive.” I told her, “It’s okay. Just grab it and don’t be afraid.” She ran outside and told me, “No Dad, you grab the can.” I got up to look at the dancing sardine can. I grab it and open it, and the sardine jumped out. I hear the sardine singing “I’m free at last.”

 

 

 

The Language

 

There is a universal language. Can you feel it? Annie had a vision the other day and her heart felt the connection, good intentions, and a lot of love. She ought to make the vision become a reality. The Universe listens to her heart, dances with her love, adores her intention. Time passes and the Universe delivers Annie what she visualizes. She first received a lot of money, then she was put in the right places as Annie and the Universe spoke to each other. The day came when Annie finished her new musical. Annie visualized God through the Universe’s response to her. It’s good to be in LA.

 

 

 

 

 

BIO

Marvin Rosel was born in Sonsonate, El Salvador, where he lived until he was 14. His father brought him, along with his brother and sister, to South Gate, CA. He spent several years living in Miami, FL. Marvin arrived to the Skid Row community in November 2017, where he continues to write and live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

Black Velvet Elvis

by Guinotte Wise

 

The creek runs black, unfrozen, between white
snow banks, cutting a jagged tear of chiaroscuro
the dogs stop to drink and ripple the dark water
and my mind flashes back to Tulsa and falling
through thin ice in winter creek to my waist as
a boy, maybe ten, thinking I will never be this cold
again, but I was, in Aspen, skiing in a snowstorm.
I warmed in a tub in Tulsa, in a bar in Aspen near
a firepit where a black velvet painting of a Maori
tribesman caught my eye. I’d never seen that way
of painting before, then I saw Elvis everywhere.

 

 

Clouds Through Blue Plastic

 

A girl and a boy, she streaked with dirt,
he has managed to stay a bit cleaner,

and he holds the raft as if it would float
away as she pumps it up laboriously

it assumes its shape if not its calm pool
use, blue in color. She pulls the bicycle

pump needle, and caps the whooshing
airhole. It’s losing all its air he says and

frowns. She ignores him, her brother,
wonders why she thought it necessary

to include him in this project. She may
push him overboard when they reach

the pond, not on their property. They
carry the raft down the gravel road and

she can see blurred clouds through its
translucent skin. She will send him back

to get her bamboo pole and bait, shove
off without him, no doubt redfaced and

screaming, but first the pond. They lay
it over the barbed wire fence but snag

the thin balloonlike plastic and it makes
a raspberry sound at them. They walk

away, dismayed but only momentarily
defeated, leaving the limp blue flag to

catch the eyes of farmers driving by as
though it was a blue coyote skin. The

boy said, it farted. And they both laugh
so hard they hiccup and become dizzy.

 

 

Organization Man

 

Round bales lying touching side by side
wrapped in plastic look like rockets or
giant cigar tubes. The farmer who chose
this pool table flat area and made sure

they were so meticulously laid gives me
to wonder if he laughs or plays or throws
a ball for pet or son, and does he stack
the dishes neatly after eating, does he

have a pegboard with sharpy outlines in
his workshop, where tools must stay to
wait their use. Nothing wrong with being
ordered, things in their place and a place

for things, but when he’s gone and laid
to rest, will his spirit be contained or will
it bemoan the flaking barn paint and the
slightly canted shutter with a louvre out

of place? The Jimson weed that grows
undaunted, the leaning fence, the carved
arroyo deeper after every rain, gutters
full of seedlings growing vines and trees

that will reclaim the farmhouse, conceal
it from the passing view. His hands are
clasped already but are they wringing in
impatience to get things put right again?

 

 

BIO

Guinotte Wise writes and welds steel sculpture on a farm in Resume Speed, Kansas. His short story collection (Night Train, Cold Beer) won publication by a university press and enough money to fix the soffits. Four more books since. A 4-time Pushcart nominee, his fiction and poetry have been published in numerous literary journals including Atticus, The MacGuffin, Santa Fe Writers Project, Rattle and The American Journal of Poetry. His wife has an honest job in the city and drives 100 miles a day to keep it. Some work is at http://www.wisesculpture.com

 

 

 

 

0

Role Play

by Chris Fox

 

Tonight, I’m the world’s foremost lepidopterist.

You enter through the window and force me, at gunpoint,

to swallow the eggs of the dreaded Novalis Blue:

once warmed, you remind me, they’ll hatch,

larva devouring the host

from the inside-out,

replacing flesh with moonlight.

Already I feel caterpillars ripple along my bones,

diligent fingertips

translating me into Maeterlink stanzas.

Vertebrae, mushroom-pale, unbutton one by one,

my final breaths turn azure.

I am a poem in French now, metamorphosis complete.

You’ve changed into your Composer’s costume,

white wig luminous with moths.

You sit down and set my words to music,

set what’s left of me to you.

 

 

Fifty Shades of Text Me the Fuck Back

 

I’m John Cusack standing outside

the bedroom window of your cemetery,

holding up a Ouija board like it’s a boombox.

 

I haven’t heard from you in a while.

 

My bedroom is a desert island.

For companionship, I’ve drawn a face

on the coconut of my own skull.

I think you must be drinking the messages

out of all the bottles I set adrift.

 

The last four decisions I’ve made

spell out HELP when seen (and ignored)

by rescue plane buzzing overhead.

That faint rumbling beneath your feet

is the reverse-skywriter I hired,

tunneling out in cursive eight feet below the ground:

I miss you, if you’re into it.

 

 

The Furniture

 

The furniture remembers that day

Your friends hid behind it to surprise you.

That was a few years ago.

Hasn’t happened since, or at least

Not since that other person

Who often shared the couch

And the chairs

And the bed with you

Stopped coming over.

 

Another birthday.

Between the cushions of the couch you find

An impossible sixty-eight-cent coin.

A game token lost years before?

No—spare change from various places around the apartment

Congealed into a single gift.

All the furniture chipped in.

Surprise.

 

 

 

BIO

Chris Fox is a poet and librarian based out of Greensboro, NC. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Rosebud, Treehouse Magazine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Oddball Magazine and others. His poem “You” was a runner-up for the William Stafford award, and his poem “Scorpions” was nominated for the Rhysling Award. He is currently at work putting the finishing touches on his first chapbook, “Time Travel Love Poems”.

 

 

 

 

 

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