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A day at Isipingo Beach, Durban, S.A.

by Natasha Deonarain

you should have drowned me
amidst your disappointments
               first-born female—

but instead I floated free

where longing became a bone ache
in the middle of ocean undercurrents
nipping at my heels

wanting to give in to the pull back
let my tongue swell with brine
tie my limbs in weeds

but I emerged from the waves gasping
and when darkness washed from my sight

               you were all I could see
backlit arms outstretched

awaiting my arrival


I do

It wasn’t like I’d planned it
months in advance,
setting the date, time, the flowers, wine—
our song;

               not like I wanted anyone to see us
on the way to the ceremony, she and I pulled over, opening the door
spewing vomit in the street

               and not like I wasn’t going to make it right
between them and me,
Shacking up with that man, hers;
A disgrace to the family, his.

It’s not like I’d never held the bouquet
or posed for their pictures in a white-satin strapless
placing one sober heel in front of the other lockstep time to
Pachelbel’s canon pounding in my temples, wiping the memory of last night’s

pasty pipe-cleaner shins, dishwater blue eyes—
               the acid taste of second-hand cheap cigarettes and beer
               in my throat as he goes down on me
               smelling of her

               or like I know what he wants
when under the Aegean sun he whips his head round, jams brakes
on the Honda, straddled motor purring between knotty thighs,
waves
of golden carpets
rippling under the pebbled beach of his forearm

               and not like I’d ever know
his lashed hazel stare, exquisite lips overlooking a jutting rock jaw
tonguing words off cliffs I catch in my mouth but can’t understand

as if I’ve done something wrong when—
he switches to English and says, “Get on.”
I do.


The plot continues without them

                                               [Scene 1]

Must I endure your hiccups? It’s not enough
to want darkly,
you should want me, adorable nightmare.
When the crows
discovered the murder, he left home with a broken
wing but unlike us, lions will never give up
their pride

                                               [Scene 2]

or goats their kids. Every
new day is a fresh homicide, fear and loathing
aren’t required
for the plot to continue. Snakes
build nests but don’t fly so you really shouldn’t
get drunk at the feast.
Someone is bound to betray you
after I speak my confession
to the praying mantis, but forgiveness hasn’t been
invented yet; we still live amongst the
unkindness of ravens.
Dandelions send helicopter drones to spy

                                               [Scene 3]

on the swollen desert
(without healthcare benefits, of course)
but my hard-boiled legacy, cut from rapture
when the Yangtze River
was still an irreversible wonder has no place
when the backdrop changes
color.
Look, if you have a question, don’t
be afraid
to hold up your hand—
receive and you shall ask.
Its will is done
if you so name it, for when you allow
the Book to open, it falls to the correct page.
She doesn’t like
your charms, but
to a fox, water’s your best friend

                                               [Scene 4]

or your worst enemy. It all depends on hindsight.
Is the stairway to Heaven paved in stone, you ask?
It depends
on how far this pavement goes
but be careful, no matter
how far they let go, sonar always brings them
home. Should I call You Mister or Missus, then?
The Gardener doesn’t know if crimson
will be in style this year,
but pay what you owe. He’ll
decide the price later since this
journey’s not done. The lightness of being is insatiable
yet we still hide truth

                                               [Scene 5]

under our pillows
in the quiet’s night air. Remember
don’t take the shortcut or
you’ll be cut short this time, like lonely cows in a lonely field
that really don’t feel alone when they stand and face the
pelting storm, so you should easily find

                                                [End]

your own compass through this dark matter and other such physics particles. Shards of glass embedded in your skin don’t hurt but you still feel their hurt. It’s the business of ferrets that you’re too concerned with so rather adopt an attitude of shrewdness like a few apes with whom you’re well acquainted. Oh for Heaven’s sake, why should all this be such a mystery to you?   

     

BIO

Natasha Deonarain is a medical doctor and lives part-time between Arizona and Colorado. Her poems are published or forthcoming in The RavensPerch, Door is Ajar, Crack the Spine, Juked, NELLE, Rigorous, Packingtown Review, Thin Air Magazine, Dime Show Review, Prometheus Dreaming and Canyon Voices Literary Magazine.  

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Poem for the New Year

by J.A. Staisey

Crack the champagne  Yesterday already happened
once and for the first time  Now it’s almost morning
The resolutions will be made diamond-hard
on the pale slates of memories  So when we forget
it will be intentional and when we say we didn’t know
it will be because we did  We will pick up dust
and soldier on through fields that aren’t ours
past the eyes that know our names  Eyes that know
our footfalls and the lies trapped by teeth  Evident
and obvious to skeptics Those enquiring minds  Wondering
when will the clock sound and where did all the champagne go?


120 Lincoln Ave.

Through the door and into
the puddle of mail—
waist-deep, knee-wide.

A bag in the corner means
‘junk,’ means ‘sorry
they don’t live here now.’

We sift and sort
our way to the stairs,
fishing for our keys.

Neighbors come and go
so fast no one notifies
the banks or next-of-kin.


Peaceful Cohabitation

Since neither of us has been able to exterminate the other,
the roaches and I have learned to live together.
Our initial bloody battles—the screaming, the poison—
none of it got us anywhere.  This is their home just as it is mine.
They were here before me and will be here after me; I have learned
to respect this.  They have history and numbers.  I have size
and a lease.  Determination is shared.  So this—cohabitation—is
the only available solution.  We try to keep to ourselves,
go about our business, interact as little as possible.  And we’ve managed
to lay a few ground rules, our own peace accord:
drains and windows are acceptable, drawers are not,
the bedroom is reserved for me alone.  Though occasionally
a renegade breaks free, to explore uncharted territory.
Being of greater stature I seldom venture into their terrain.
I did once reach behind the heating pipes—am still sorry.


notes on a scene

1.         Six-thirty in the morning and I can’t sleep
            like this.  Knocking on the veranda door,
            a misinterpretation: I only want help.
            Fingers pulling pins and flowers from my hair.
            Gathering on your bed all you’ll keep
            once I’m gone.  In the morning
            it will be too late; the bags will be packed.
            So, this is all there is.  Your fingers, my hair.

2.         She returned a month later wearing
            the same clothes as the day she left.  By coincidence
            or design, it drew all his attention.
            He kept trying to think of something else
            to say as she poked the ice in her glass.  Twice
            he opened his mouth.  She blinked nervous
            and thought of smiling, smiled, the glass at her lip.
            A coaster moved into place.

3.         Midday wakes alone, but not me.  A girl still sleeping
            in the bed as I dress, leave.  I find you
            at the harbor where we sit, drink beer, try to eat.
            Again and again I look at you; again and again
            linger on your lips where words come out.
            Here we are, in chairs separated by a table
            killing time: you pull at your hair, watching
            the water.  Waiting to stand and turn.

BIO

J.A. Staisey lives in Los Angeles. They work in an office by day and write by night.

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Why Don’t You?

by Kevin R. Farrell, Jr.



Skipping rocks across the river between your ears,
I’ll fake my way through impermanence,

a slave to boredom,
scar tissue tickle spots,

I’m neutral,
indifferent,

I’m frightened my rage will come out of retirement,
a comeback tour of only the classic fuck ups, 

a graveyard of mass apologies,
an answering machine of only what the fucks?

chokes me like, 
cool beans, asshole,

I sprint through the crawl spaces of my mind,
someone should tell the rats about marathons.


Hellp

Saunters in,
I’m unaffected,

what’s it look like
to look like
you’re not looking?

Toe the line,
self-service check out body bags,

all of our wounds internal,
putting cigarettes out on my past,

give yourself a hand,
I don’t need it,

I’ve destroyed myself so you can’t,
built myself back up so you couldn’t.


Rise and Spit Shine

Good morning!
Fuck everyone…

Personality,
no contest,

politically active contraceptives,
dictating to the choir,

to raise the bar,
lower your standards,

licking your novice chops,
meetings are murder,

furrowed brow beaten but not out,
hard pressed to remain soft spoken,

sulking your way to the top,
cower in humble defeat,

you’re so lovingly receptive,
I’ll walk all over you,

no really,
fuck everyone.


Never Slept On It


My OCD sees only the unkempt,
trimmed my beard with a mouse trap,

ego maniac with an inferiority complex narcissistically mirror gazing,

I’m having rage issues,
I have no control when it comes to not having control,

I’m a free spirit grounded on the tarmac,
my heart is heavy, 

wet cement,
you press your name into it,

when it dries we’ll get a frame,
hang it in the hallway of my childhood home,

cover the hole I sucker punched in the wall,
right next to the other hole I sucker punched in the wall,

the new tenants walk on eggshells
to not disturb my ghost writer,

last night I fought a coworker in my dreams because he refused my help,

when I see him today 
he’s getting the cold shoulder,

that’ll show him who’s not even the boss of his own mind,
my alarm clock rolls its fives.


Lawn


Melancholic whoa is me tea parties,
raised pinkies, 
furrowed brows,

eavesdropping,
eye rolls, 
the flesh of, the blood of,

the conversation hasn’t changed,
a long lineage of talking heads,
a sense of triviality,

listen, 
we should talk less,
count all the frowns
to divide them by the smiles,

jeez, 
you haven’t heard a thing,
no need to be saved when you can run away,

and before I forget,
the lawn looks great. 

BIO

Kevin R. Farrell, Jr. is a New York based artist, poet, and educator whose work has been published in Burning House Press, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Adroit Journal, Terror House Magazine, Former People, Blakelight Magazine, Visitant Lit, Ink in Thirds Magazine, Indiana Voice Journal, Foxhole Magazine, Yo-NEWYORK!, BONED Stories, Yes, Poetry, and The Writing Disorder. His work attempts to capture life from the vantage point of someone in the backseat of a stolen car running on fumes. His poems are a play on words in the form of political, satirical, surrealist, tongue in cheek rants that often border on stream of consciousness ramblings that are a last-ditch effort at taking it all in before we get taken out.

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the shallow ocean floor

by Mark Young


Make your own website, quickly.
Reconcile such a dramatic economic
year. Forget that planned journey
to Damascus on Monday; instead
visit the Angel City Bookstore in
Santa Monica. Has anyone tried
& was successful at Globalization?


The pedestrian bridge


The female goes nude
to bed, wears wire
mesh in the hope she’ll

morph into a docuseries
in which four men con-
template colonialism &

wonder if they’d feel the
same about it if it came in
a variety of pastel shades.


The Wanted


A woman appeared behind
the man. The necklace glittered.

They laughed. Dinner was
coming. Its eyes were fearful.

The smoker drew deep. I won-
dered what she was thinking.


Answered. Solved. Expired. Invalid.


The innate immunity of pigment
& nomenclature can not only be
seen in every land-based casino
in Mumbai but also in the third
studio album of Realizing Beebo.
Stigma may be attached to the
disparity in the access to & use
of fishing & fun; but this is an

exhibition, not a race, & will
change Generation Y more than
a shift to a daytime cable. They
are broke & can no longer be re-
lied on as an alternative to horses.
Perl hashes are so case sensitive.


A line from Joni Mitchell


I add the instrument. It doesn’t
play back as it should, gives
me an error message to tell
me there is no pause present

in global warming or climate
change. Claims that it is other-
wise come from standardized
files with text & formatting

created by people unwilling to
upset the status quo or the donors
of their research money. I find
a new starting point, one that

recognizes truth no matter how
politically unpopular that may
be. I add the instrument. Now
I can clearly hear the castanets.

BIO

Mark Young lives in a small town in North Queensland in Australia, & has been publishing poetry since 1959. He is the author of over fifty books, primarily text poetry but also including speculative fiction, vispo, & art history. His work has been widely anthologized, & his essays & poetry translated into a number of languages. His most recent books are The Perfume of The Abyss from Moria Books; A Vicarious Life — the backing tracks from otata; taxonomic drift from Luna Bisonte Prods; Residual sonnets from Ma Press of Finland; & The Comedians from Stale Objects de Press, all published during 2019.

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Cowgirl Buys the Ticket

by John Wiley

Over jumps, around barrels,
gliding fast over ground
that might come up to meet her;

but just now the ground behaves itself
just like her horse does, and anyway,
falling is the price of the ticket.

Get up, push the hair back,
find the hat, catch the horse.
The hair gets in her way and she’d

probably cut it, but forget that – cowgirls
have long hair, plus it’s the only thing on her
that really says “girl” (yet, anyway),

and she’d say “girl” loud and high and yippee-ky,
(if anybody actually said that), and if there was
a girl here she’d say it to;

not the English saddle rich girls, or the buckle-bunny
cowboy groupies watching the guys from the rail; the bunnies
are good for recreational fights at tailgaters, though

(she kissed a girl’s neck once when they were
tangled up in the dirt and got away with it,
like she just did it to piss the girl off).

But one of the Latino grooms,
his daughter picks him up every day;
never gets out of the truck,

but when they’re eyes-on…

What if she said, hey, Diego – tell your daughter
I’ll take her riding sometime if she wants to go –
what’s her name?

She’s pretty sure Diego’s on to her, and a
girl just up from Mexico is gonna be so deep
in the closet she’s in a trunk in the attic.

But that girl’s eyes burn her to the ground …

“Hey, Diego – tell your daughter I’ll take her
riding sometime if she wants to go –

what’s her name?”


Midnight at the Well of Souls


Bodiless, floating,
feeling like nothing
will ever feel, our faces
are drawn up like water

as full Moon’s light,
carefully touching down
and down the slick,
brick wall, realizes us.

She stops, a bright coin
in a dark circle,
to watch us quicken
in her rippling image,

and she looks lovely
over us.  She knows the Well
is a wishing well;
she breathes in, out –

and plummets to us,
her bright-coin body
flipping bright side/dark side,
brightside/darkside,

full/new/full/new
full/new/full
and we fall up,
headlong through her

to the Mouth
as she tumbles down,
and her splash
is heavenly below us.

We hover as full
Moon’s light shines
up out of water,
shines on our faces,

on the soles
of our feet;
and we set our
soles on Earth

as she rises again,
roaring joyfully past,
stopping clean
over our heads,

dark, and new –
not shining, brightly,
on us.


Lanky Girl


Linky, lanky,
slinky, strong,
arms thin, legs long,

sleekly swift –
sling shoulders, slung hips,
rainwater wrists and fingertips,

hips drip drowsy,
easy angles,
gangly gangles,
sweepy circles,
elliptical elan.

BIO

John Wiley started out as a ballet dancer and began writing when his knees finally gave out for good. (It is harder to write poetry well than it is to dance well, but it’s much easier on the knees.) His work has appeared in Terror House Magazine, Outsider Poetry, Montreal Writes, and Detritus. He lives in Carpinteria, California, and works in his wife’s audiology practice.

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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.

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

 

0

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

 

 

0

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).

 

 

 

 

 

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