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A season of rain

by Tara Isabel Zambrano

 

Sometimes I think
this house has eyes.
They glow.

This house is a hand.
Rubs my voice
against the walls.

At night this house
lets the stars in.
They leak as clouds,

knock at the door,
beg for a season
of rain.

 

 

Departure/Arrival

 

There is always a distance to explore, pull islands from the sea.
Masses from nowhere.

Maybe it is time for the moon to collapse into its reflection.
The sun has always been solitary

packing its light everywhere. What is not touched by darkness?
The bulbs underneath the new soil. A Buddha’s statue covered in foliage.

Nature has no favorites. A stampede fertilizes the earth.
Her endless teeth feed on herself. It isn’t living, it isn’t dying.

I crawl back to my body but there is a lump of dirt. A poem scattered,
its words blinking because they do not feel exactly right.

The wind fools around my name. A black hole where lightning is kept.
Life is a spectacle, half remembered. Always winks out from nothing.

 

 

the myth of being alive

 

I’m holed up in a motel following the night
buttoned down all the way to bloodied dawn
wrestling with  a fresh roll of USA Times.

Despite the police sirens across the street,
I remain asleep. Needle marks on my arm heal.
Coughs from the next room grow quiet.

The sun eats itself, footsteps outside the door
grow and fade, steam of cheap coffee and
popcorn sink into the semen-rotted carpet.

Some days I walk out of my skin. Red hollow
of an afternoon rivals my crimson eyes.
Empty pizza boxes cover my face.

Car clotted streets gasp for air. On dead ends,
I unfold a gang war. My hair turns gray in light,
my voice at the end of a muzzle, tries to sing.

 

 

BIO

Tara Isabel Zambrano moved from India to The United States two decades ago. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Healing Muse, Moon City Review, Bop Dead City, and others. She lives in Texas and is an Electrical Engineer by profession.

 

 

 

 

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Life

by Gayane M. Haroutyunyan 

 

 

Life is waiting for something
that may never come.
So I sit and wait.

People are painting the streets
with their funny hats
hanging off their funny faces.

I want to laugh
but my smile is in my pocket
screaming at me.

I complain about the weather,
but what does it owe me?

The papers in my pocket are green.
That should be
but isn’t beautiful.

I want silence
but New York
is the capital of noise.

Slim pair of legs,
smell of burned raisins
and a boxed violin just walked by
should be a collection
of poems with a title
but nobody can take them home.

It’s cold in my mind,
and I could just kill myself
with this guy’s hand
who is softly scratching my back
with kitchen utensils
and taking something away.

Only one thing
holds life right at this moment
– a warm buttered muffin and
my hand the size of a tennis ball
all over again and
that tall woman that was my mother
who never really was tall.

But somebody tore me out of my plush pea coat
and sat me at a cold desk
and told me I was to be picked up by seven
and that I should wait there.

I looked up and cried a mushroom soup
with one eye
silently
and died a little.

 

 

 

To my unborn son

 

I know you are waiting
in the back of my life,
braiding beauty of my intestines,
waiting for your name and face, stealing my eyes.

I do not know if I will ever be a mother.
Here’s a promise –
I will split the atoms into stars, searching for truth,
write stories to prove to you

on a mid-summer’s day break
something will make amends and deliver
your father
and my gifts will happily fade.

 

 

 

A Snowstorm the Day Before Valentine’s Day

 

in my triangular room,
in a house,
in what I hope is New York
it feels like a bad dream
but it is so cold in it
that I stay awake
and do my life.
There are no cigarettes
left in my pack
so I walk outside.
All I see are
dirty cars
breaking the traffic.
I want to be sitting in one
next to a stranger
with bad music
and a smell like a strange riddle
loving my tired hands together
feeding the afternoon night.
But nobody will stop,
offer a wet woman a ride.
So I keep walking,
it is what I know best.
It is much like life –
walking and hoping for God,
who in this case is warmth.
I keep stepping
on my beloved Black Sea,
frozen over an American town
with occasional spurts of life
in it.
Few people brave or stupid enough
to be out
look into my eyes as they pass.
They know everything about me
(my black spirit, my true language,
and the dolphin skin patches in my soul I hide)
and it can only be true
in this mother-in-law weather.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.
The weather just will
not let up.
It must be suffering something
or is in love and weeping.
Any minute
my feet will give out
I will stop
and so will
my mitralvalveprolapsed heart.
That makes me think
about life,
about knowing that
in less than eternity
the sun will come out,
murder the snow,
slim the icicles
and shoot
red, blue, yellow, and green
over the pavement,
and it will not be so painful
to wake poor thing, the morning,
to a cold starve.
And it is sweet poison
that I have forty or fifty years
to live
of days unlike this one,
or terribly like it
and some curious strangers on a bus
are on their way to my life
and chopped nails, kisses, messes, and bad dresses
are also coming,
until one day
I will die
and wouldn’t it be perfect
if it is
snowing
that day?

 

 

Writing and Crying

after The Resemblance Between Your Life and a Dog by Robert Bly

 

I never intended to have this life, believe me—
It just happened.
A blue baby-giant needed a doll
for Christmas
with brunette curls
that doesn’t speak the world’s language
and does not really age.
Every day I ask for a miracle
but he likes
my fresh frenzied face,
my pretend agony
whispering gibberish
at his belly button,
that I think is God.

 

 

 

BIO

Gayane M. Haroutyunyan is an Armenian-American poet living in Los Angeles. Her work appeared in Chaparral, Zetetic, and Apple Valley Review, among others. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her hobbies include daydreaming in public places, cooking, and traveling places with her heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SUBURBAN PASTORAL

by Kasandra Larsen

 

 

Sun paints the underside of gunmetal with fuchsia:
crickets start to clearly telegraph, hidden in moss,
spidered cracks between stones in walls keeping
architectured lawns from toppling. The day
that began crisply pressed is nearly faded,
smudged palette swaggering into evening, dragging
a tide of stars. Soon, tiny lights will bristle, remind us
of our lack of altitude, swing on their hinges
to replace clouds that threatened to unleash
their ammunition on commuters hurrying home
from bus stops, too rushed to notice that fledgling
with the red breast squawking, beating feathers
more fuzz than wing for one more worm, a mother
swooping to deliver the inevitable pink of carnage.

 

 

 

GUIXIN: GHOST HEART

 

The point, medial at the wrist            joint, between tendons
on the pericardium meridian             (membrane holding the heart)
echo of its protector                           which would bleed from here
in antiquity but now                          pressed with a forefinger, ostensibly
to regain movement in the thumb     to once again clutch without pain:
on another plane                                the ghost is trying to get you
to search for remnants                       reaching out in dreams
as spirits begin                                   to control the emotions
holding them back.                             Relating to the Soul’s Third
Manifestation, the manipura              chakra unsettled, disturbed
solar plexus, bright yellow                 unable to digest the past,
difficulty shutting off the mind          or becoming unconscious
to sleep. Fear of becoming                 a ghost as well? A doppelganger
heart, hovering in shadow                  one beat pulsing red
behind? Lung qi cannot descend        into formless darkness.
Press the point.                                   Press it, again,
breathing, deep                                   until two hearts settle
in reunion, until night comes             and the hand closes easily
around the sheet, holds                      the body steady for caresses,
the peace of clouds scudding across only the lit side of the moon.

 

 

 

CLIMBING BACK INTO MY SKIN

 

After ten years of terror, I am crawling back in
to my skin. I try again to sleep in a straight line

on my back, hands unclenched, but mornings find
me curled around the pillow. This will take more time

than I had thought. I come home from a hard day,
remember that disco exists, allow myself to turn

the volume up to numb, toss my head back, wave
my hands in the air. But not like I don’t care:

I am saving myself, one mambo step and grapevine
at a time. I stand in the shower for a solid hour, let

the hot water run out, drop my towel on the floor
and frighten the cat. My windows are open. I don’t care

about that. Finally, I am alone, down a long alley
you cannot see from the street, behind a metal gate

that locks and a brick wall topped with glass, inside
an apartment whose address is known only to

a very few, untraceable. I know what I have to do;
I lie atop the sheets at night, let my fingers write

gentle letters to my skin. I had forgotten how it feels
to be a joyful vessel. Slowly, I let myself back in.

 

 

BIO

Kasandra Larsen has poetry in The Gambler Magazine, Into the Void Magazine (Dublin), Stoneboat Literary Journal, Literary Juice, Flumes Literary Journal, and Stonecoast Review. Poems are forthcoming in March 2016 at FIVE:2:ONE’s #thesideshow. Her manuscript, CONSTRUCTION, was a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and her chapbook, STELLAR TELEGRAM, won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Award, she works as an accountant for the Providence Public Library.

 

 

 

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AMERICAN MOBILE

by E.M. Schorb

 

The pure products of America go crazy . . .
—William Carlos Williams

Miss Smith, she dead.

. . . my blind left eye don’t stop me
I swivel quick around then get ahead
back at the panorama
striped down and then back up the hill
to any future peak greened brown black cut through
white striped like up the leg on a uniform
the wind don’t wall me
my aerodynamics
they’d lift my license for my eye full of sugar
but I still drink
that VA doctor’s lower’n fish shit
no beer no way
but I drink Lite test my blood take my insulin
I eat right mostly but my Drake’s cakes
I’m thirty-three feet back
sixty-six long times to here
always dreamed of motorhoming
free to be you and me
Maxine’s you
she sips at that beer
stares through the wraparound
like she’s watching home movies
and shoots bytes at me like look there
did you see that
she’s frightened at being sixty next week
I told her look at me—you plus six
and I’m still steering
still truckin’ but I never was a trucker
was a kid a soldier a vet a cop and
a guard at Disney’s that was my whole damned life
that back there behind me on the road
but it comes along with me in my sugar-eye
my shotup shoulder from War Two
my skin cancer from standing all those years in the sun
reflecting off tarmac and parked cars at Disney World

Max says look Jersey plates
she says Joisey we started out in Jersey
we fell in love haven’t slept together in years
Max thinks I’m not well interested
but it’s the sugar
I don’t tell nobody not even her not especially her
suppose she knew I couldn’t
what kind of man would she think
look she says back in back her mother sees it too
I don’t know what it is must be on my blind side
but I don’t say no way I let them know
I’m blind as a blackboard over there
not hurtling along at eighty
they’d piss their beer
you got to hold to your lane
the old lady’s nearly ninety but full of it
not only beer either if you know
look Max says
shut up Max but I don’t say it
I don’t listen about Alabama moons
Georgia peaches glorious Asheville leaves
I talk to myself my only friend
they suck me in like black holes
the old lady and Max everything goes
into them nothing out toward me
did I believe in love
I’ve stopped laughing even
I’ve been driving too long

I see us off the edge of a cliff if I don’t keep him awake
old man hunched up at the wheel was he my hero
I think there’s something wrong with his eyes now
the way he jerks around to see I’ve noticed
I ride not swiveled in a bucket by a tilted instrument pod
but sometimes behind him astraddle his first Harley
his long blond hair snapping in my eyes no helmets
my fingers feeling in the deep holes
through his shoulder and his ribs
where the sniper’s bullet drilled through
he died he said and came alive again on a table in England
I still wore his white dress shirt
hanging out over my rolled-up blue jeans
shiny pennies in my loafers
Frank Sinatra made me scream Elvis my one daughter
Buddy’s blonde princess the Dead my grandson
nobody sings anymore all back there somewhere
with my mother boozed up at ninety
a Depression-made cheapskate
sipping cheap port
and a hundred thousand in the bank
how did we get here

where are we going why must I come
Harry could save me
clever with life how left-handed he
mangled his right hand in the leather machine
made them think he was right-handed
more compensation
at last a little house and money in the bank
and I got us out of Jersey
like war in the project then
the Sixties the long hot summers
bullets through the windows
down to Max and Buddy in Orlando to my little house
Harry why must I travel with them
the youngsters even are old but Harry’s gone
crazy at the end
fighting in the trenches again
Argonne Belleau Wood
gone on the road behind us
dead and buried in Orlando
buried and lost his grave lost
we are going to sue
I have no place to put flowers
no place to talk to him anymore
they lost my Harry
tough leather guy from Brooklyn
tough guy so sweet once
poor old crazy man
gone back to the trenches back to Pershing
mustardgas and Belleau Wood
another world so far away
to his grave at ninety-five
I don’t want cable
only my one soap-opera station
only my wine
don’t even want life to come back
what is the wind
Star stories say some of us are aliens
supermarket tabloids Maxine calls them
and tries to make me think they print lies
sometimes I think Buddy and maybe even Maxine too
I bore her but maybe pod people have taken over her body
like that old movie
maybe she isn’t Maxine at all she doesn’t act like Maxine
I could have a baby too
like the hundred year old woman in Australia
it would kill me at ninety they must eat something
yogurt like those Russians who live forever aliens too
and the little girl no older than smaller than
who had quadruplets by a tom cat
all of them born with whiskers
the pictures were right there I saw them
whiskers and pointed ears and long tails I saw them
what is that going by where are they taking me

“Good Housekeeping” said
the kitchen was the warm womb
of the colonial home and early-American women
would stand at the hearth watching the turkey turn
as they pumped up the flames
packing sandwiches for an airline ain’t exactly
the big time but we made it
Buddy and I paid off the American dream
for his bedroom and my bedroom
and the alligators down on the lawn
to the rock seawall wanting sun
what’s life
put the rocks back put
back build up fall put back
two slices Wonder Bread
one slice waterpumped ham mayo mustard
my long thin fingers all little silver scars
I’m nobody what did I deserve
not Buddy and my mother anyway
sixty ain’t the end yet
not even with all my loose belly skin and
stupid strokefoot dragging when I’m tired
like Buddy on Omaha Beach
but I got it right through the head
like being brain-shot and nine weeks in the hospital
stealing our money
there she is sipping her wine at ninety
defying nature and three out of five of us kids with strokes
always demanding maybe she gave us the strokes
but nobody’s dead yet they say we are all lucky
so that’s what luck is not being dead
a case could be made

driving into the dusk is like driving into a dream
better hit the lights
that big cluster of stars down there
I aim my good eye on ahead
now in the dusk it gets tricky
but I don’t let Max know
extreme macular degeneration
sugar-induced doc says
then he says you got varicose veins in your eye
laser beams he says burn ’em out
so I see blue for a week from the dye
and the blue fades to gray and that’s it
my credit’s good
social security veteran’s pension Disney retirement
I’m a triple dipper
plus equity in the house poor boy makes good
I’m driving fifty thousand dollars across America
like I started out with anything but
a piano-teaching widowed mother
like I had a chance in life
I play my own tapes me at the organ
singing Willy Nelson songs
“On the Road Again” Max hates my music
she’s jealous but says I could of made a living
at it could of but couldn’t take the joints
composed some myself guitar piano organ
my tape plays “King of the Road”
my plates say NO MORTGAGE NO BOSS
NO JOB NO WORRIES I’M RETIRED
twenty years standing in the sun eating Twinkies skin cancer
Harry thought Max could do better
he never had a home like ours right on the gators’ water
he’d say he never had alligators on his lawn either
only stinkbugs in his old palm tree
sometimes I miss fighting with him
him on the Kaiser me on Hitler
who was worse all ancient history
even the Commies are dead
nothing left for Freedom to fight
and the world moves moves into the next century
away from us what we did and needed
it’ll all be computers and new people
no more like us we’re dinosaurs
old people but we move
and we take our houses with us like hermit crabs
we circle Asheville in leaves we land at Normandy
not ten minutes in and all my bones break
until I wake up on the table in England
purple heart silver star
I remember the sea swashing puffs of smoke
our flag it still stands yesterday’s news who cares
Max is sarcastic once she was proud
I can’t help it Max
it’s the sugar sugar

. . . who betrayed me so many times with his Harley
with somebody else’s legs around him
fingers in his wounds
hot stuff and joins the police
to wear his beautiful blue uniform
and ride his police cycle with his blond hair
fluffed all around his blue visored hat
and me pregnant alone with his blonde love in my stomach
stud making a fool of his wife making a fool of his life
with nogood burgling cops only Orlando left for us
thank the chief who saved us and that was when I began
when I began I began began to be old

Maxine looks like me at sixty
you could compare her to a picture of me then
O Harry do you remember
where are we
North Carolina
why are we here climbing this mountain
full of beautiful leaves
is that heaven up there what is that up there
a jetstream
a flying saucer
why don’t we just stay home
where I know where things are
they don’t think about me how I can’t see
how I wish Harry were here
how he was when he was young
so neat courtly so kind and sweet
not like at the end afraid of the Hun
hiding under the table gone crazy old man
with old-timers disease
it was all there again for him
no time had happened
no me no all that life all wiped out
and he was there again and it made me wonder
if we aren’t all just here or there or where are we

Asheville we pack it in at Nashville
Max and the old lady won’t go to the Grand Ole Opry
so I’ll leave them to themselves
I’ll go like I always said I would
could hear it in Jersey when I was a kid
could hear it all over the country
Hank Williams Minnie Pearl Tex Ritter Hillbilly Heaven
a southern yankee I never get enough of that wonderful stuff
Max says we should of gone the other route
to Memphis first Graceland Elvis can wait I say
but it turns out to be Hank Williams Junior and Rockabilly
not like I dreamed of it glitz and bang
even a vet can yearn for the old sweetstuff
Junior’s daddy the original Hank the real thing
the lyrics were in a language I could understand
we fought the wars and longed for love
they march for peace and seem to hate
like I’m still waiting for the fat lady to sing
President Truman even introduced Kate
Smith to the Queen
as “America” Oh beautiful for spacious skies
but the Opry’s like the rest of it now
maybe we should try Dollyland at Pigeon Forge
no Max wouldn’t like it because

angels come to our door but Buddy won’t let them in
do you know these are the last days
not if you have something spiritual
it’s on Earth
he was sent by the God of Love
that’s why Graceland is a church
even if it’s like they say
that his body ate twenty Big Macs a day
his soul had to live on Earth didn’t it had to eat
so Buddy’s blonde daughter tells me
my daughter too but more his blonde like him
now nearly bald not her him not dark like me
well gray but if Elvis could bring happiness
then he is a god

he’s one of those aliens Max
he was sent here to sing and bring love
they say Graceland is more beautiful than Heaven
that it’s all blue like the sky with no clouds
no thunderbooms and tin-roof rain clatter
where are we

like when Buddy grinds his choppers
he is eating us up in his sleep
our night war like our day war cannibal
shoved our beds apart into separate rooms
trumpets saxophones trombones
Buddy names my snoring while he grinds on
and her crazy on the convertible back there
all night coughs and chatters in her sleep
about chicken wing prices
it’s like a gone-nuts orchestra
OOMPA OOMPA OOMPA CLICKETY-CLICK BLAH BLAH
his teeth telling how much he hates his life
at different times broken uppers and lowers
life that never did what he wanted it to do
we rocked that motorpark in Nashville
hooked up Winnebago nearly laughed itself free
electric lines tore out as it rolled over on its side
and later shaking with screaming
Mama and I had sucked the city of any last drop
of Southern Comfort
Buddy never came back from the Opry till it was dying out
drunk himself from shit-kicking with urban cowboys
I told him his sugar’ll kill him he sleeps grinding his life
like steak into hamburger I’m his life
what’s life
Mama refuses to die until we do
gray and stroked and sugared and beer’d under
but how could we leave her at home who’d watch her
nobody’ll take her in if we go she has to go
won’t go to nursing home no way you know no how
and I don’t mean not to go go go before I die
thank GOD for Winnebagos
next stopover next postcard
P.S. life’s a war and you can’t give up
love Max at sixty

heaven is a place like Graceland
they say Elvis’s daughter owns it now
she’s the spitting image spitting image
listen Max at least the foreigners don’t own Graceland
like they do everything else
it ain’t true that we don’t work as hard as the Japs
but the unions Max I never did trust the unions

you think like a scab-cop
my father was a union man Buddy

her father was a union man
Harry was always a good union man
and a good Democrat

if they’re good for anything the aliens’ll be UNION
if I didn’t belong to a union
do you think they’d of paid me so much
for making lousy sandwiches
did you get enough sleep
we should of gone to Graceland first
read a “Reader’s Digest” article once
first it was the farmlife held us to place
then industry mills and trading and
later the big factories up north
made cities centers now no more
anyone anywhere now the computers
no more fixed life no more unions no more
democrats no more stay put go go go
like the damned beatniks hippies used to do
on the road in the sky
a whole corporation inside your portable
computer workforce anywhere
regions don’t mean nothing cities countries
my country ’tis of thee
I’m caught between the old lady back there
and my grandson
he’ll be part of it the brave new world he said
college boy and his kids won’t even know
what we were
can’t you just see it grandpa
no boundaries no borders
even space the moon Mars
business everywhere signals flying through the air
caught between times becoming part of it
losing it at the same time
with my sugar walking down the street
I never noticed how sweet beer is
injections they’ll be able to fix that too grandpa
and the whole world and even space
will become AMERICA

you look at your mother and you think
how could I have come out of that sixty years ago
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Max
it’s a chorus of whiskey-cracked voices
a duo of dead and gone ghosts
calling back over their shoulders
it’s bye-bye Maxine you’re as good as dead
with your mastectomied pumped-up plastic tits
what’d you need them for for him
could of caused the stroke I’m told
but then why my brother and sister stroked out too
my face I had burned with acid and scraped
for him forty years ago
acne pits from her tea and cheap day-old cake
to stuff us just before supper all of us
faces like burned-red moons
from her brother-can-you-spare-a-dime
cheap Depression soul
the old man back from Belleau Wood
mustard gas and the formaldehyde stink of the tannery
the whole goddamned century’s been a war
I could live to see the end of it
no more goddamned Twentieth Century
now we fight each other we can’t stop fighting
we’re like three hairy-assed Marines
landing on each other’s beaches
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Maxine
Christ he kissed me breath like death blow out my candle
if I could I’d blow them out of the Winnebago
and get my wish a little time on earth alone a little life before I die

Max was always tough even as a little girl
she always fought
her father’d have to drag her off
from a fight but he was proud
my Max don’t take no shit he said

we had to be tough Jersey we all glow in the dark
better than hard cold and cheap
we had nothin’ but trouble like the plague
Nineteen-Nineteen she says
the doughboys brought the influenza back from Europe
all those displaced persons
my best girlfriend died of it everybody
was dying you’re too young to know
good to be too young for some things
why do you think God does it
screw that
God helps them who help themselves Buddy
he likes that one damned Republican
but he’s right it’s like Elvis
a success a blond guy with black hair and a cape
God loves us all Max He’s sending them to help us
well He’s got a damned funny way of showing it
your granddaughter says He sent Elvis
or is it Elvis sent her
I told her he came in on a saucer
they’ll all be here soon

Buddy singing playing the organ he installed
coming in on a wing and a prayer
his feet pumping he loves to show off
he says Harry was just a leather worker
says my mother taught piano class will tell
your people don’t have no class no way
then it’s a Donnybrook
in the musical world

in heaven this couldn’t of happened
if Max would spell me
I’d go back and get drunk with the old lady
sit in my Seat w/Telescoping Pedestal
and stare at her until I could see inside her BRAIN
but Max won’t spell me won’t drive no way no how
just sucks in sixpacks and farts at speed bumps
I’m mustard gassed like Harry at Belleau Wood
turn on the BTU’s she says watch out
open the vents here comes Max
but she admits it was damned embarrassing
we got the Arizona state troopers all over us
here’s the old lady telling the pump jockey
at our time of life we want full service telling him
I’M BEING KIDNAPPED BY ALIENS
I have a lovely home in Orlando
they’re forcing me to go with them
they want my money a hundred thousand dollars
it belongs to Harry he earned it with the wrong hand
call the police help help
it takes some explaining but I tell them me I’m an ex-cop
look I say but they got me and Max over a car hood
if I had one of those BIG FOOT trucks
I’d drive right over top of this traffic jam
crushing cars like an angry giant
that’s why everybody loves Big Foot
I look at the cops and twirl
my finger in a circle at my temple
nuts the both of them I say
they feel sorry for me and because I’m an ex-cop

get real Buddy do you think God’s in California
or in the Painted Desert or the Petrified Forest
I want to see the first Disney place is all
Max is mad like Mel great roadman
people say it’s the end of America
from the coast there on it’s out forever
and the sea climbs into the sky
Buddy it’s your music
sometimes you sound like some godawful poet
song of the open road Max
there’s good trucker songs Max
trucker poets cowboy poets
you’re ignorant Max
don’t start Buddy don’t start
I tell you what Buddy
Vegas is God
you get a bucketful of change and pull handles
until something good happens
gangsters built Vegas Max
gangsters built everything Buddy
Bugsy Siegel is God and Vegas is heaven
for shame Maxine
what do you know Mama
it’s all a chance and to hell with your aliens
can’t you see saucers Maxine
clouds Mama we’re in the mountains
Sierra Nevadas Mama
I’m not your mother I’m hers maybe
and the white bombs of love
like the Star says it’s Elvis in his saucer
lots of Elvises because this is the end of time
they have big dark eyes and sideburns down to here
real smooth cheeks and they wear wonderful jumpsuits
with colors like Las Vegas that night
the first or second so it was stacks of colors
and everything blinking they wear clothes like that
with glittery things hanging down from their sleeves
I was a little girl when Dreamland burned down
my mother your grandmother Maxine
said you could see Dreamland burning from Jersey
I had been to Coney Island I had been to Dreamland
I’m sure I saw Vesuvius erupt and a great naval battle
where New York was bombarded by foreign ships
and then an American admiral went out
and defeated all of them
you see children it is all a dream
and you keep waking up to something new
we aren’t really here at all we are here
and somewhere else at the same time in Dreamland
Meet me tonight in Dreamland under the silvery moon
my mother used to play that one Mama
I am not your mother don’t call me Mama
you’re alone in the world Harry never liked you
motorcycle-head he called you
Maxine’s got me if she is Maxine
of course I’m Maxine
Christ of course white bombs
SNOW
where are we Maxine
if I smashed this pedal down down hill
I saw a movie once about a wagon train full of people
heading west on Donner tha’s it the Donner party
they were going over these very mountains they were up here
high like this and there was a blizzard and they got caught
and they couldn’t get down out of it
blizzard starved and they began to eat each other
don’t look at me Buddy
the saucers will save us
they’ll snatch us up into Graceland
they can do anything they can make us fly
can they take us back to where they came from
is it a musical place
of course it’s a musical place
Elvis is King
yeah Graceland is the real true blue heaven
beyond the cheap chicken wings of the world Mama
beyond the world Maxine
or whoever you are
Buddy my ears just popped
we’re climbing Max
it’s getting dark Buddy
you better stop
can’t stop on the highway
some articulated eighteenwheeler
some BIG FOOT
come behind us
no visibility
now I nail my one good eye
to the white-dark wraparound
like one big cataract
faint red lights
turning off ahead
now nothing
down there’s a turn
somewhere down there
I hit the gas down hard to the floor
it’s dark and white like being wrapped in ermine
if we weren’t doing eighty ninety a hundred
it’s like a toboggan like the OLYMPICS
SWOOSH SWOOSH and we’re out off in SPACE
the cold moon and stars ahead
I push my WING-EXTENDER BUTTON
and now it’s STAR TREK
THE PANORAMA OF SPACE
I can see through the thick clusters of stars
Ahead there deep
GOD’S BRIGHT MUSICAL CASTLE
but the saucers hold us floating in air
HIGH OVER GRACELAND
You can see the lights
I told them I told them
And THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS
of GOLDEN COINS COME GLITTERING
CRASHING OUT

 

 

BIO

E.M. Schorb is a prize-winning poet and novelist. His Dates and Dreams, Short Fictions, Prose Poems, Cartoons won the latest Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and is announced in the magazine’s current issue. Murderer’s Day was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press; his collection, Time and Fevers, was an earlier recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award. More recently, Words in Passing, was published by The New Formalist Press. His novel, Paradise Square was awarded the grand prize for fiction by the International eBook Award Foundation at the Frankfurt Book Fair. But Schorb maintains that he is first and foremost a poet, and his poetry has appeared in numerous publications, here and abroad.

 

 

 

0

Gaia

by TS Hidalgo

 

 

Today is world recycling day,
initiation, ergo, to Lampedusa:
an advanced course in watercolor,
large landslides,
a sinister population pyramid
in a horrible TV commercial
with dancing elves,
and attacks by small terrorist organizations
(an emotion that Doctors Without Borders cameras capture):
hypertension is commonly known
as the silent disease:
work to seal leakage points
will begin in the coming days.

 

 

 

Homage to Orwell

 

surrounded by slot machines,
in the main hall
(perhaps the Tanjiers?)
by the penultimate
of our national heroes,
perfect for adults and children,
proud to be
the gear lever in Spain,
respecting the margin for maneuver
of our land barons,
while he poses a sinister redesign
of our population pyramid:
it is gypsy croupier,
in a table that is played with antibiotics
(instead of casino chips).


 

 

Letter from the Sky

 

by the brave gendarme Olaf,
who certified a lot
(and endorsed somewhat):
he was responsible for the evictions
of a Court,
and watched,
from this side of the Leviathan
(can we consider Spain
as a poorly finished concept,
no one correspondence,
artificial?),
simply squats
in a first stage,
and, after the credits
of The Shining,
a collapse of the system,
gushing,
ergo
the-big-bump:
several Greek tragedies
in the Museo del Barrio,
expedients of employment regulation,
defaults,
etc.
etc.
(that means
“and the rest”),
and, when you arrive at the highest level
of perversion of the system,
the pseudo State bankruptcy
after endorsement;
giving a toast to the sun
(the 1982 Soccer World Cup pesetas
had blue blood printed letters;
men losing a war,
on a TV program,
also),
and more layoffs;
he finally certified,
before the lead,
the last link of his downfall:
his own auction:
when you are surrounded by alligators to the neck
it is hard to remember
that the only thing you wanted
was to drain the swamp.

 

 

BIO

TS Hidalgo (44) holds a BBA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), a MBA (IE Business School), a MA in Creative Writing (Hotel Kafka) and a Certificate in Management and the Arts (New York University). His works have been published in magazines in the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Botswana, Nigeria, India and Australia, and he has been the winner of prizes like the Criaturas feroces (Editorial Destino) in short story and a finalist at Festival Eñe in the novel category. He has currently developed his career in finance and stock-market.

 

 

 

0

Card Poems by J4

 

Joliloquoy

Joliloquoy

 

and indians

and Indians

 

Eat candy

Eat candy

 

Ense

Ense

 

Live flock

Live flock

 

Overthinking

Overthinking

 

I kno

I kno

 

Entity in the kitchen

Entity in the kitchen

 

Soulless Champagne Couple

 

BIO

j4 is a collective of four persons, all given names beginning with j, who are compelled to explore transindividual composition.

 

j4work.wordpress.com
j4work.tumblr.com

 

0

Sunday School

by Natalie Crick

 

Madeline loves it
And sits as Mother would.
The priest is like her Father
Dressed all in grey,

Palms fluttering with
Paper clowns,
Legs and arms spinning anti-clockwise
Like the priest’s eyes slide

From side to side.
We are his for an hour
But he cannot touch us,
For we are jewels to be watched,

And, one day taken.
Nobody has ever held his hand
But Grandmother, with rings like
Little girl’s warnings.

This is my house of God,
Rain thundering as
Unanswered questions.
Their faces are taught and chilled with frost.

He is the bee of androgyny
Thrusting candelabras as tusks.
This drone of activity,
It is all too much for me.

Faces dumb as naked dolls.
He strips them, licking them with stars
Like potential girlfriends
Or meats to be weighed.


 

The Other

 

She was a girl of the Convent.
A small girl
With big blue eyes
On Valentine’s day.

The sun set and she wanted to die,
Locked in the old house in the hill,
Rocking with emotion.
The man in the moon was black with hate

Like her Father. She was sick with paranoia,
Riddled with the voices of her children.
O God! Someone was calling.
In her dreams.

Lost in bedlam,
A thin ghost
Was running with a sword.
I am ready.

She woke drugged,
And a widow today.
Bitter as a spider.
Murderous too, with news of her Mother.

So she turned to The Other.
Bowing down to God.
A dark place
Where she would hardly know herself.

 

 

Standing In The Woods

 

I am watching you
From the woods.
From the cold and dark
And I am touching myself,
Locked in limbs of kindling.
I am watching you.

Chimneys are rotten grey hairs,
Or persons paralysed or sad.
Look at the shrunken houses
With their space shifting through chains, like horses’ eyes
Flattened by dread. Down there, you
Grant the stench of illness, like a bed

In which a dog died one day.
Inside the breathing sea of bluebells
I notice that pretty bit of clay.
Far above, and now below, where little boys run all day,
Squashing shells of flies, whose whispers
Float about forgotten.
When they land they bang the drums
And creep out
With all their fingers and their tongues
To where
I stand tall, my smile reaching
Because the sun is shining.

 

 

 

BIO

natalie crickNatalie Crick has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women’s poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne’s Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013.

 

 

0

Church Song

by Dustin Lowman

 

 

I drove to the garden
where the river spurts a burble
at hedges, walkways, evergreens
designed in miniature
by city planners. Everything from birthing Spring
in full rotation.

 

Police directed me, & traffic,
funneled we holy to penance & all else
to menace. Whitepanel glare
dwindling in citric dusk. Behind the stone
the microphone smothering human throat
through tunnels of ether to others.

 

In a hurry of heat I saw
men leaving ports, adjourned to depart,
milling in pre-tomb,
water swishing directionless
under wind barreling
to carry crowds to sense —

 

Amphibia careened around Her banks,
insects crisscrossed my thighs,
their paltry roughage.
The church shadowed me to lesser wilt
towering to a point.
The river wheeled on in a furrow.

 

The plummet
they blistered behind the stone, choirs,
our muffled erosion.
Sudden, splintered across my spine:
they trumpet their tempest,
& chilled, I swallow mine.

 

 

 

For You in Someplace New

 

Crawling to stools to dine resembles itself
in coarse northern cold & oppressive southern humid:
just awake, automotive rudders shudder my empty
someday carcass to lamplight & waitress
to slurp slop twixt moonlight & lifetime cook.

 

Tonight the earth suffused it, like before,
the aroma too brief & perfect, in patches.
Factual gratitude, it comes — warmth;
is gone. I’d anticipated it in college
near a U-shaped stone dorm, and also busing home
teenage, around the corner from home,
that descent around the corner, falling home
an autumn leaf. Tonight
by a brown house,
tiger lilies, willows,
automobiles yielding to blue-hearted stars,
and yawns of desert wind, as if we were isolated —

 

There is cultivation on the outskirts of city & self,
broiling & skinbound, and there’s a clarification
grown by & dimming with twilight:
what? — as the soul travels (the soul is traveling)
it finds itself the same on every pole.
Or could merely be chemicalia simmered
in proximity to things nascent & mating — ?

 

I’m optimistic. I should be;
young. The dull brunt of my cleaver
keeps falling on the stems of roses.
When the time is full, they’ll resemble
a wreath for spiders to climb in.

 

 

 

BIO

dustin lowmanDustin Lowman is a writer residing in Nashville, TN. He is a prolific composer of poetry, songs, fiction, and nonfiction. His poems have previously appeared in Every Day Poems, Uut Poetry, and Five 2 One. He has self-released 2 albums of original material, Folk Songs (2015) and Thunder I: Calamitous Foe (2016), available in all digital marketplaces.

 

0

The Question of Authenticity

by Tamer Mostafa

 

I demand to know,
the origin of cardamom,
rose water and coriander,
the moments in history
they became necessities
for our recipes.

Expecting an answer
of a chiseled diagram in limestone,
some hieroglyphic
roasting in an undiscovered ruin
that transgressed its way
to a flap of papyrus paper,
I am reminded
to stir a figure eight
on the pan with a wooden spoon.

In the process of confinement,
I inquire aloud about substitution,
the introduction of binders,
fruit grind garnishments,
the simple dusting
of confectioner’s sugar
through a sifter.

They warn of a testament,
a threat to reveal
the shame for innovating,
for wanting to invite
the strangers in.

 

 

Letter to Lucy Corin

 

When I was younger,
I remember
hearing
stories about racism
(and I’ve understood since the attacks
that racism is just

twisting
a pressure valve),

and I remember conditioning
myself
to absorb the abuse
as some form of pity,
to see the treatment
as proof of my existence,
a recessive nerve
captivated by pain.

Today, I sit in the car
next to my father’s dark brown skin.
I listen to his accent
mercifully trying to dissolve
into another language
he will never master.
How thick,
how hard to understand.

And I remember you.

 

 

On the Eve of Ramadan

 

No slumber can overpower me,
the waft of alcohol has left
my breath, the sins are toted,
a horizontal balance pole
held across my torso,
leaving one platform atop a tight wire.

I’m visited in intermittent periods
by reflections, an earlier identity
of myself, separated
like sheep wool fibers disentangled
in a drum carding machine.

I’ve sought to reattach with congregation,
display an innate prologue of survival,
the absence of food and fluids
for a protracted time period.
Won’t you die someone asks.

Losing patience for autotomy to manifest,
I dig the dust with my claws,
patting the earth
for the buried legs of an orb weaving spider
seeped in honeybee venom,
hobbled to exhaustion.
No, but I’ve been close to it before.

 

 

 

BIO

tamermostafaphoto2Tamer Said Mostafa is a Stockton, California, native whose work has appeared in various journals and magazines such as Confrontation, Triggerfish Critical Review, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and Phantom Kangaroo, among others. As an Arab-American Muslim living in Sacramento, he meditates on life with the reinforcement of family and the music of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

 

 

 

0

GRIEF

by Melissa Watt

 

 

File the welcome and bury
the cheer in the backyard
next to the grill where no one
will suspect it. Rip
down the fence—what are you containing?

Paint the house a different color.
Sand it down and lock away
the syllables of sparrows
when you first moved in.

Don’t focus on the dead
bougainvillea or the rotting lizard
on the front porch eclipsed by ants.
Don’t think of the good times.

Hide the key under the mat.
Lie even when the sun is on the marigolds.
Remember to step over yourself.
Erase the footprints in the hall.

Elbow the fingerprints
off the bathroom mirror—
what is there but your own eyes—
the whites and deep pupils,
your lips—a bow, undone.

 

 

 

THIRTEEN YEARS

 

I’m in the world without my father
for thirteen years today.

Time’s passed—blasé—as if it’s been easy:
the dislocation, the lacework of grief

beneath my jeans and t-shirts, the premier
washing of his State Trooper windbreaker—

patchouli traces fizzed away with Tide.
He’s a spirit in a wave—

its teal and splash. The lapping too
and the long strings of moonlight

on crustaceans. Fleas and leeches.
Tonight a shield bug illuminates my kitchen

with its bright green body, circling as I am
sipping tea in the stove’s ever dimming light.

 

 

 

ENCIRCLE

 

I keep your room the same, despite
frequent frissons of loss and the way
Occam’s razor says you won’t return.

Twenty years erased in an ache
of waves despite “wait,” keepsakes.
I am the song that lost her voices.

Instead, I bend into the nocturne pen
of specters, drop down next to
your slowdancing Doppleganger.

We’re swaying bodies, the orbit of oddities
in this shapeless no-man’s land.
When I breathe, I see you breached

on an undiscovered planet. I arch
awake, search for your familiar nightshirt—
tiny, alive—quiet in your waiting for me.

 

 

 

MEETING

 

Follow the light to flat feet, wide eyes,
lips loyal over roaring. I came here to fall.

Burn the ancient, and fuck in the rubble
drunk, crazed by the mystery of what

we could be. Me through a keyhole
before we ever met: “that one.” The truth

is dawn and sparrows, unrelenting glimmer.
Let’s enact the formative creeping

of our ancestors, use our gilded bodies
to bind the sun, wooers of God

ripe, lewd. I love your gnarled
borders busy with cicadas, your smirk.

Arched backs, our burning a panacea.
So this is what it means to be a universe.

 

 

 

BIO

Melissa Watt holds an MFA from Emerson College. Her work is featured or forthcoming in Black Heart Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Ohio Edit, Lunch Ticket, Visitant, Cheap Pop and elsewhere.

 

 

 

0

Ethics

by Joseph Farley

 

 

The values I was taught
did not fit
the reality of my needs

the reality of my needs
did not fit
the nature of your wants

the hunger still gnaws
and we must feed
elsewhere if we must

or starve together
or alone.

 

 

Materials

 

I took you for granite;
You took me for steel;
But we were not strong,
more brittle, crumbly,
better at making a mess
than supporting the world
or each other,
or even a bridge
that could have, should have
been there between.

 

 

The hills

 

In the hills, in the hills
where green grass grows
and the dead stay dead,
in the hills, in the hills
where boulders sit
half out of soil
and half in air,
where tree roots cling
and dig and pierce,
and the raindrops fall
and grow into streams
that slide past cities
far away, and whisper
to the ocean
of the hills, of the hills.

 

 

 

BIO

Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 to 2010. His novel Labor Day is available from Peasantry Press (peasantrypress.com) and Amazon. His poetry books and chapbooks include Suckers, Longing for the Mother Tongue, and Her Eyes.

 

 

 

0

Rasool Yoonan – 6 Untitled Poems

Translated by Siavash Saadlou

 

1.

The world is dark,

like the night.

Life is an arrow

pointed towards the sun.

 

The roads don’t always lead to the sea.

The rain is not always beautiful.

 

Dreams don’t always have a good interpretation.

Yesterday wasn’t good; may tomorrow be happy and joyful.

 

All these thoughts are running in the mind of a horse

going home after a day of drudgery.

 

 

 

 

2.

The sun doesn’t shine equally on everything.

 

My father went to sleep

in hopes of seeing tomorrow’s sunshine,

but didn’t wake up.

 

That means that the sun was unable

to wipe away the shadow of death from his face;

later, it shed light only on his headstone.

 

 

 

 

3.

Objects mutate,

people undergo changes,

and some questions, too, have no answers…

So, I haven’t lost,

not having fallen in love with something or someone.

Of course I should lie down—relaxed—in this hot afternoon

and take a nap.

 

 

 

 

4.

…and at long last,

nothing will remain from the tales of hunters

except for a dead goose on the counter.

 

It’s painful, but no big deal;

let them tell whatever tale they wish.

 

Good or bad, stories have to be created,

but don’t forget that you should live like a human.

 

The world is a strange place;

here, anyone who opens fire

gets killed himself.

 

 

 

 

5.

Trains pass you by in a hurry;

foxes and horses, in desperation.

And your blue memory has evaporated

in the minds of distant geese.

 

Your story came to an end way too soon,

as if it were an iceberg on a fire rock,

or the flame of a match in the direction of the wind.

 

You died quietly—there were neither any church bells tolling,

nor was a prayer’s call heard from the mosque.

And nothing is more melancholic than

dying in loneliness.

 

The bereavement of your death

will later open its mouth like a scar on our bodies,

and we will be tortured under the rains of salt.

 

 

 

 

6.

This world is like a movie

that has started in medias res…

 

Somebody kills,

Somebody gets killed.

 

Somebody sells out,

Somebody buys.

 

Somebody goes,

Somebody comes…

 

I couldn’t figure out anything!

 

 

BIO

siavashsaadlouRasool Yoonan, poet, playwright, novelist, and translator, was born in 1969 in Urmia, Iran. His debut collection of poetry, Good Day My Dear, was published in 1998. Further collections include Concert in Hell, I Was a Bad Boy, Carrying the Piano Down the Stairs of an Icy Hotel, and Be Careful; Ants Are Coming. Among Yoonan’s most recent published works are two collections of micro fiction titled You Idiot! We’re Dead and Damn It, Pick Up the Phone. Yoonan is currently the most widely read living poet in Iran. His poetry has previously been translated into Armenian and French.

 

siavashsaadlou2Born and raised in Iran, Siavash Saadlou is a writer, literary translator, editor, and interpreter. He is the authorized translator of Rasool Yoonan, the minimalist Iranian poet. His translations have been published or are forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Indian Review, Visions International, Blue Lyra Review, and Asymptote. Saadlou is currently an MFA Creative Writing candidate and an English Composition teaching fellow at Saint Mary’s College of California.

 

 

 

0

Maria Marrocchino

 

Untitled

 

Longing eyes I have.
That’s what someone painted
in a box down on the Bowery.
But what the hell am I longing for?
Sexy dreams and rosebud company, what else?
Flippant mantras I live by.
Like,
don’t sell yourself short
and,
never give up on your dreams.
But I need to borrow some more
money so I can make myself attractive
in this For Sale city where
the competition is fierce.
Women need to fill their lips and breasts
just to keep up.
My bruised love
keeps me awake and lonely
but I got my pen and
scraps of used paper with my chestnut thoughts
and it keeps me company.
Close your eyes before I drown in them.
That’s what someone said to me
back in Naples.
Italians are such hopeless romantics.
I am one too,
secretively.

 

 

Untitled

 

Young man’s eyes watching me
full of lust and glory.
What can I give you that would make you mine?
I’ve been there, done that.
Don’t think men want me other than a zipless fuck.
But I can’t just keep listening to Nina Simone records,
ain’t no use, I’m getting too old to play the blues.
Those eyes are still on me
brown like an empire,
skin like an olive grove.
But he won’t come over,
just likes to watch.
A vagabond smile,
a simple nod.
I close my eyes and image us on a secret land full
of a thousand truths, mounted on a bed of kisses.
Bodies wrapped around each other like delicious
stems hugging it’s flower.
Rich is his mouth against my heartache and fears.
I open my eyes and he’s disappeared,
phantom of my beautiful day.
How strange this all is, this getting close to each other
with so much distance.
I’m not sure I want to play this game anymore.

 

 

Blue Paint

 

Blue paint is wet.
I love you Walt Whitman
I can only dream of your
Sun-kissed skies and cipher canyons,
fields of tall romantic grass,
sagging moon on a glimmering surface.
My fears stop me from moving forward.
Your lilac heaven will have to try hard to wake me.
ATM is out of cash.
But Dylan Thomas is waiting for me
on a white horse, comfort in hand,
sipping my orange mouth into his large tomb poems.
Poems I can’t keep up with my ink getting dry.
Like a crackling wheat field I’ve imagined.
Lost, pair of sterling silver earrings.
Color like the blankness of the city buildings that envelop me and
Ginsburg once ranted about.
Thick in my ears, this howling.
I need another day to think about all my responsibilities,
not ready to give up my sofa, my closet space, my familiar day.
It keeps me company, all those lists of things I have to do.
Sample sale this Saturday.
Shoes that are too big for me but fit Annie Sexton perfectly.
The size of my umbrella mind creeping over my soul’s chances.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll make all the important decisions.
Like a Shakespearean tragedy do I honestly think I have
any real choices about what happens in my life?

 

 

Andy

 

Andy Warhol died today and
I started crying and running and
crying and all of sudden it started
raining only you said it was snowing
but snow blinds you like an old man
without his sunglasses so it was really
raining or it could have been my eyes
blue and a little green, like one of Andy’s
flowers. I tried to tell you but I got distracted
by all the signs and noise and cars honking
and grinding, like one of Andy’s rhymes and
I was still crying but then you said something
and it made me laugh and we were laughing,
together smiling. What was it that thing you
said you told me how your mother made you
sing that song about the dragonflies, like one
of Andy’s smiles and I was walking along
cold, my feet wet but I was laughing until
I looked up at the sky and remembered that
Andy was dead and I started crying again.

 

 

BIO

marrocchino2Maria Marrocchino is a writer and producer living in Manhattan. She has lived in Manhattan for over 15 years and has been writing since the age of 13. Her poetry has appeared in Clockwise Cat, Broad, Belleville Park Pages, SNR Review, Main Street Rag and PDXX Collection. Her stories have appeared in The Sun for “Readers Write” and her travel stories can be found in Independent Traveler. Maria is a features writer for Dazed & Confused, Platinum, Nylon and City magazines. She has also published a book of poetry, Winged Victory: Transcending Breast Cancer. Her website is krop.com/mmarrocchino.

 

 

 

0

Sarah Blumrich

 

Autumn

 

The darkness of night
makes everything black and charred
but I can smell the rotting colors
dripping off of branches.
Deadened leaves splatter
and paint the dirt in muddy pools
that pile up before the bottom layers
have a chance to dry.

 

 

Storm

 

I inhale the storm.
The swirling fog tickles my lungs
until I cough out rain.
Clouds swim past and drown
my dampened skin in grey.
My body turns to static.
Tingling lightning spreads
like waves that crash
into my fingertips.
Madness and bliss entangle
into sailor’s knots,
watching as I sink into the wind.

 

 

Elegy

 

During the worst days–
the days when
motivation dies like
snapping twigs,
and sadness sows memories
into a heavy blanket–
I pray that it will rain.
Just like flowers,
we crave drinks when we begin to wilt.
Others turn to gin or rum
but I’d rather have the rumble
of thunder
to remind me of how small,
how truly small
I am.
The pounding rain sings me to sleep
and
I become the leaves outside,
floating into dreams, and
puddles.

 

 

BIO

sarahblumrich2Sarah Blumrich was born in 1996 in New Jersey and raised in a small Connecticut town. An undergraduate at Stony Brook University, she is an aspiring screenwriter, novelist, and poet. She is majoring in film and minoring in creative writing, Japanese, and German. This is her first time being published in a literary journal.

 

 

 

0

Seth King

 

 

I Tried to Answer

 

the door when I heard knocking
but I cannot navigate down so many steps
even with the new carpeting

because I have lost my feet
somewhere
maybe under the bed

my knees are still hanging
in the bathroom drying
so I’m sorry but I will not go downstairs

without my knees
I do try to answer my phone
but my words stick like meat

to the walls
and anyway cannot make it through
that tiny hole

I refuse to talk without my words
I’m not trying to make excuses
but what with so many issues beyond my control

you’ll have to forgive me
if I miss our appointment
this Tuesday.

 

 

A Saboteur Whispers

 

hops onto a deadman’s chest
steams his vapor to the air

pecked sockets find the frontal lobe
where fibers pull like strings of cheese
the deadman happy to provide

such wisdom as might be there

he trades convex for concave
murmurs change but dreams of motion

legs are lost
have turned to earth
small plants curl on mound’s remains

rodents worm through snaily trails
between his twisting squirms
bonefingers tip the tops of spore born caps

buttocks crumble moist as coffee ground
crackled rice caught crawling out
from burlap sacks of skin

the sun sautés his toxic face
in air as thick as plates

until autumn un-stalled by honking geese
arrives to chill the nights

shed their skins of shapely leaves
burned then bruised by aggressive winds
spins up twisted paper veins

fly away to brown and curl
crispy-chip on top the dirt

where the soldier lies.

 

 

When a Laridae Lands

 

in front of me to tear a bagel
from the street lifts
the slow weight of its white and black

I am surprised
though should not be
this is an island after all

I don’t remember seeing seagulls
in this neighborhood before
territory of passerines

three toes forward one toe back

elegant perching birds that distain
the clumsy foot-webs and horrible
unhinging fishy jaws

and I hate to admit that when the seagull waddles
in for a coffee nosey beak feathers flapping
it is I angling for flight between the tables

gathering speed through the held open door
finally able to unfold into the rest of the morning

and it is Jonathan Livingston I think of.

 

 

BIO

sethking2Seth King is a painter and poet living in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two boys. His recent poetry has been published in The Furious Gazelles, Yellow Chair Review, and will be in an upcoming issue of 805 Lit + Art. See more at www.sethking.nyc

 

 

 

0

Judith Roitman

 

I WOULD PREDICT MOTION IF I COULD

She looked through the window past the porch and saw him move
across the yard as if he were going to swerve up the front steps. But
he didn’t. They never found him. Maybe he was tired and couldn’t
take it anymore. Maybe it was the chickens. The chickens were always
running around.

He didn’t meet expectations. He didn’t exceed expectations. He ate
too many potato chips. Nothing could stop him. He was unassailable.
He strode forth like a giant. He played the calliope. No matter where
you looked, you couldn’t find him. He buried himself under his
words. This was the fashion back then. It isn’t the fashion now.

 

 

IF I WERE STANDING IN LINE I COULD CUT IN FRONT OF YOU

She was scrubbing the heart in preparation. He was busy at the other
side of the room, unable to hear what she was saying. A long time
ago she turned over in her sleep and asked him not to kill her. He
had never thought about it before. Now he can’t stop thinking about
it.

He was in a box underwater waiting for rescue. They were taking too
long. What was he to do, in chains like this, waiting for his
accomplices, thinking of the fish surrounding him, the polyps,
the rocks, the mud?

 

 

FACING A SQUIRREL SHE IS HELPLESS

I go in. I go out. I can’t give you anything. I can’t take you in. I don’t
know you. I don’t have enough. There are so many of you. What am
I supposed to do. I am a good person. I am not unsatisfied with my
life. The curtains could be different. But generally I am okay.

They were shouting. They had signs. They went back and forth,
barricading the mayor’s office. Worthless. As if they fell into a hole
unable to get up again, police striding back and forth, their never-
ending batons.

 

 

FACING A TREE HE IS HORRIFIED

He went into battle. He went into ruin. He jumped on the table. The
car wasn’t there. His mother wasn’t there. Whatever he was looking
for wasn’t there. He gave up and went to buy some groceries. After
that, he could go anywhere.

One day they jumped into the water. They lowered themselves in
boxes. They were surrounded by ladders. Everywhere you looked
there were ladders and boxes filled with water. This is no way to live.
So they dried themselves off and turned into ducklings.

He said, “I can’t do this anymore.” She said, “You have to leave
before anyone sees you.” So they lit a fire and sat there reading the
paper. They sat there until their bones leaked. After that, nobody
bothered them.

 

 

WHEN THE BOMBS STOP COMING YOU’LL KNOW IF YOU’RE ALIVE

I have blood in my hair. He has blood on his shoe. She has blood on
her nails. We have blood in our socks. You have blood on your teeth.
They recognize each other. They slip on the floor. They come in
lightly. They wear spandex. They are not guilty.

It comes in a box. We don’t touch it. Birds move underwater, eating
garbage, going slowly. They go slowly but it doesn’t take long. It has
nowhere else to go. Where would you put it? She would lay it down
under a bench, go home, forget about it. They won’t let her do that.
Nobody would let anyone do that.

 

 

BIO

judyroitman2Judith Roitman has most recently published in Yew, Futures Trading, Otoliths, Eleven Eleven, Horse Less Review, and Talisman. Her recent chapbooks include Slackline (Hank’s Loose Gravel Press), Furnace Mountain (Omerta), Ku: a thumb book (Airfoil Press) and Two: ghazals (Horse Less Press). Her book No Face: Selected and New Poems (First Intensity) appeared in 2008. She lives in Lawrence, KS.

0

Christina Bavone

 

Manifesto! ignorare!

 

When the leaves change,
I must write about them.
That’s what happened
I wrote about the leaves.

Natural reverence picked me up
and put me in poetry’s basket.
I stayed for a while only straying
to pick up useful adjectives and verbs.

Collecting life in tin cans,
only to pickle later
for safe keeping.

Poetry is life.
Poetry works life like a red-sequined dress,
and then goes out for dinner afterwards.

I want to have a phone conversation with myself.
And then bleed afterwards.
Eventually poetry will bandage me,
and then sometimes it doesn’t.

I want to whistle in the face of poetry.
Then I’ll know I’ve made it
when poetry has felt my
spit on its vibrato.

 

 

mangledadj.

 

I maul adjectives
and eat adverbs alive.
I step out with pejorative
statements clinging to my cheek.
The chocolate chip, Oreo images
smeared across my lower lip
and I couldn’t quite pick the crumbs of allegory
off my blouse.

The characteristics of the protagonist
dangle from my ear lobe
threatening to let go.
Slimy plot dripping from my nose
always trying to get away.

My dimples held dialogue
like ingenious puddles that would
eventually dry up over time.
I didn’t realize my
obsession for the written word
until a passerby yelled out to me,
“Hey, what have you been
doing? Making out with a
book?”

And I looked up to my reflection only to discover
a 3” thick layer of black words
coating my mouth.

 

 

Nerves shot straight to hell.

 

I wait,
straining to hear the telephone.
Red ants creep up my throat;
my stomach turns counter-clockwise this time
                  in paralysis.

                           I’m tripping
off of surreal adolescent films –
the sweet voice of Alice
wondering which land she is in.

Don’t give me that psycho-sympathetic look.
You know how it feels
to try and control
the out-of-control.

Sexual participation one night;
the clutches of murder the next.
Where will it all end?

My voice cracks under the pressure. Is it? Dead?
The twigs crumble beneath me
and I fall.
The hole was pre-dug.
It was a trap.
The judgment of dirt – what a child’s toy.

It’s all the fault of that damned rabbit hole.

My baby sister doesn’t
realize the difference
between life and death,
but I do.

The sweat pours out
in droplets, “I’m sorry, but I had to.”

The rubber band snaps in two
and the release of tension
sends me into delirium.

The Queen’s had my Ace,
but the joke’s on her.
I’m running.

But you always knew
I was crazy, so
I won’t go into disgusting, controversial details.

 

 

Death Comes Upon You

 

it hovers, then falls
like a sheet,

a white one,
translucent.

gossamer skin;
toes pointed skyward;
brick mortar over
bare legs bristly black.

now dark
thick as dinner coffee.
you wait

for an afterlife
that never comes –
stuck in this body
folded over

on the asphalt.

 

 

BIO

christina-bavone_2Christina Bavone is a teacher and writer of fiction and poetry. She currently teaches writing at National Louis University. She holds a Bachelors in writing from Columbia College and a Masters in teaching from National Louis University. She is currently pursuing a Masters in English at University of Illinois at Chicago as a part of their Program for Writers. She has published poems in online lit mag Ophelia Street and international publication Every Second Sunday. In addition to teaching and writing, Christina is mother to a boisterous 4-year-old.

 

0
Janet Buck

A Visit to the Country Club

by Janet Buck

 

I wear the wrong shoes for this place
because I have the wrong feet.
In the banquet room, an ice sculpture
carved as a silk-feathered swan
is a centerpiece servants try to save
from the ineluctable melt—
the hot breath of gossipers & body heat.
Church is done—no talk of God.
As I eat crêpes & lobster tails, foreign food,
in a bucket of butter that makes me sick,
I watch the children through large glass panes
playing on a tablecloth of snow across the crew-cut sod.
I guess their creations on grass.

The spoiled kids are packing cue balls
to pick a fight, bruise the eye of a bird,
but Sadie is not. My neighbor’s niece is four.
She is making pancakes, tortillas rolled flat
by callused palms from pulling weeds as tall as she.
A cup of sand from a nearby trap
helps them hold their shape.
She knows this recipe because
we live so many miles from here
in a trailer court that has no hired gardeners.
Our soil is used for making food
to freeze or can, to stretch
across long avenues of winter months.

As the year 3000 inches near,
Sadie will be the very last woman in town
to bake a pie from scratch
with apples from our neighbor’s tree.
We know how to cut out a bruise or a worm.
She will be wearing comfortable shoes.
A cluster of waning peonies drop petals on kitchen tile.
When the hospice nurse arrives
to discuss her sister’s pressing death,
Sadie will take her rolling pin,
knock the woman on both knees, usher her out.
Sadie will know what a real meltdown is—
swallow every drop of it.

 


When Life is Wool & Not Chenille

 

You tell me, “You deserve a rabbit’s foot—
furry, soft, and tangible
considering what surly Fate
shave handed you—in short,
a quilt with batting made of chicken wire.”
We both laugh a high-strung laugh—
touch metal cinched in loops of poles,
which hold up soaked and heavy towels.

“I know my back is lion prey shredded
by incisive claws and razor teeth.”
I think the things we cannot say.
She’s making tea. I tell her,
“Hey, I live for licorice/mint,
hazelnut and cinnamon,
that lavender with honey drops
for stress reprieve.” We both know
every shape and style and size
of bandages we’ve bought and ditched.

“What about a rabbit’s foot—
the 17th, that visit with this Dr. Stearns?”
I interrupt her with a sigh.
“Did you know that God can’t
make the sun itself boil a simple
pan of water? He or she
can only tell the sun to make
the water somewhat warm.”

My best friend knows it’s plain
I’ll never walk again, that I expect
fillets of cod to come with bones.
“I hear the thunder coming close:
let’s pull the clothes before the hail.”
She knows I don’t believe in soft.
That I won’t settle for a chair—
a lukewarm life.

 


Puddle Jumpers in a Storm

 

Our puppy begs me for my lap; I set her there.
She’s lighter than two quarts of milk—
still pressure sores react with searing arguments.
The small of my back can only hold
just so much weight. I put her down—
as if I tossed a child in dumpsters
on a filthy street, continents away.
Steps become short stanzas
and a backspace key. My foot and calf—
a corndog smashed on curving sticks.
A docx file I can’t revise,
days begin with setting suns.
Squinted eyes of olive pits,
dark punishments for pills I take.

A guesthouse tied to cleavages of broken
bridges falling in a sweeping river,
not the calm along the Seine,
where lovers kiss beneath
a white and bulging moon.
Stuff like that’s a fairytale.
I become a mannequin propped
against a pillowed chair.

I’m puddle jumpers in a storm
that do their best unlocking
wheels that won’t release.
A market in the open air, packed
with loads of fragile fruit,
which cannot handle fingerprints,
let alone smarting strikes of hailstones.
Tendrils of an octopus that meet dry land,
don’t know how to cope with logs.
I stay erect just long enough
to brush my teeth, run my tongue
along a row of broken ones,
down to worn eraser heads.

The Welcome mat of what
I see in bathroom mirrors.

 


The Broken Buddha Pose

 

In kindergarten class—for story time
all the kids sat in a circle,
perfect as a poker chip—
Indian or Buddha style.
My brace stuck out on center stage,
a metal hip attached,
thick leather waist band
digging in my ulcerated skin.
Hyperbole by accident.

Bilging even more—
a shrunken femur with a knee
that didn’t match the other leg,
cloned in one red beat-up tennis shoe
distorted by a bad clubbed foot.
Below the knee that didn’t bend,
a tiny foot—a giant, ugly hernia with toes—
covered with a carbon slab.

Then a steel pole undressed, a plastic foot
to level out my height, when I scrambled
my way to a stand. Invisible at school?
Absurd. Everyone stared,
including the teacher, skipping
words in nursery rhymes,
tripping on loose stepping stones.
Tethers of the theme were lost.

When I went home, I bent the legs
of all my Barbie dolls until they broke,
then drowned them in the bathroom sink.
On & off for surgeries, a nice MD pressed
a rag, soaked in ether, to my nose—
the blessing of a few hours’ sleep.
The first short chapter of a life
kept secret—dusty, ancient living moths—
fluttering—eating sweaters in a trunk
for more than half a century.

 

 

 

BIO

Janet BuckJanet Buck is a seven-time Pushcart Nominee and the author of four full-length collections of poetry. More than 4,000 of her poems & pieces of prose are in print and on the internet. Janet’s recent work has appeared in The Birmingham Arts Journal, Antiphon, Offcourse, PoetryBay, Vine Leaves, PoetrysuperhighwayMisfit MagazineLavender Wolves, and River Babble. Her latest print collection of verse, Dirty Laundry, is currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble & other outlets. Visit the ordering link at her new web page: www.janetibuck.com. Buck’s first novel, Samantha Stone, will be released by Vine Leaves Press in September 2016.

 

0
Lana Bella

THROUGH THE HOURS

by Lana Bella

 

The elderly man was ready to pull those
odd-shaped chairs and tables
in across the shingle floor away from the rain,
when light and water burst through
the bamboo slats,
even the air lost its grip on the weight of
this cold gray day,

he looked up to the dying sliver of the sun
as a tail end of ducks’ V formation
took off into the liquid landscape,
in this mist,
he reached through the hours
to the front of an old dream,
back in the Vietnam war,
where the visible and invisible
covered the ears and eyes and crippled sins
with bullets and cries and vain foresight,

leaning toward the scuttle of rain,
he saw an upside-down soldier being strung
with ropes from his feet, bleeding,
tongue lay sprawl under an August storm,
infinity sat hollow inside his skull orbits,
only birds of prey passed over,
their hunger hung heavy
like ireful sickles in the hands of masked gorillas,
madness greased into their mirth,
and sorrow stained the sky
a magnificent black,

along with the few remaining villagers,
he traipsed the bare-bones rice paddies
under a September rain,
when the bird family came back,
circling above a peasant woman
rocking a child whose body

was mangled, and soaked through,
like a rancid fruit,
he stood rooted on the bed of water-logged soil,
head bent to the wind-swept pour,
listening for the sounds
of soft footsteps of his companions
leaving crunches away from that earthly grave,

stranded here now with the shame of history,
he touched the aged yellow clippings of war,
cautious to the thousand teardrops
collided from the sky
against the ones flooding his insides to fullness,
as always,
he was caught between
an ever tenuous self-conceived fever
that summoned the ghosts of dead ancestors
from four decades past,
and the red pulps of war-torn maelstrom
that swam as wisps of accordion,
limbic, and deep in the underbelly
of his bloodstream,

if he could only know how to
soothe the lacerated language and moans
from bloody shapes,
in his sleep and wake,
for he feared the deciphering
of hands when they were cupped in prayers,
and the long gulps of air
that unceasingly stretched into howls,
turning up the kerosene lamp by the window bay,
he tossed a carafe of hot rice wine
down the tobacco-tempered throat,
chilled, sloshed and arthritic
upon a wool settee,
while his ghosts milled the earth in flaming felts,
spinning together again
the past, present, and future,
with tearing red threads.

 

 

THIS IS EVERY LOVE STORY EVER TOLD

 

you are a rotten tangerine hanging on
the bough of my tree, half in waiting
to splinter off, the other half already
bruised through from maturity and
hungry worms—

I watch westerly wind leap into your
gaping rind, sunlight snakes beneath
your insides like the way the ocean rushes
toward caves and dunes, leaving just
enough mystique in its wake—

seeing your whole spotted and incised,
I arch my limbs past the shingled wall
then over the ground to catch your fall,
you look at me with sad orange eyes still
wet of juice before hurling earthward in
scattering core, seeds and open pith—

someday I’ll look back on this moment
and wish I’d known how to follow you
home through black, for this is you and
me born of sun, sugar and dirt, before
you stumble and fall, before I lose all my
leaves to despair—

 

 

 

BIO

Lana BellaA Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is the author of two chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016) and Adagio (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press). She has had her poetry and fiction featured in over 200 journals including Columbia Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Third Wednesday, among others. She resides in the U.S. and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom to two far-too-clever frolicsome imps.

 

 

 

 

Dream Poetry

Last Night in a Dream

by Ashley Inguanta

 

Last night in a dream, I was healthy. You were a rose. You got into my car and I took you home, and when you saw the white flags at the Brooklyn bridge’s arc, you told me the story of a conflicted hero, all shadow and moon, and I told you a story about resurrecting the dead. In your story, the hero did not want to die, so she did not leap. Instead, she turned into a seed. In my story, I kneeled by your grave. When I heard gunfire, I dodged each bullet—and then, finally, I woke up next to you, all new, stripes of sunlight over your hair like a crisp photograph.

Sometimes I wonder: If God could really hear me, what would the moon do? Any good moon would reach over both white flags, carry them to you as you fall asleep. Any good moon would hold me here, in this dream, where I can run to you without losing my breath, where you are a rose and my heart is good as new.

 

Dream1

 

Dream2

 

Dream3

 

Dream4

 

Dream5

 

 

BIO

ashley inguantaAshley Inguanta is a small-press author, photographer, and yoga teacher who has dedicated her life to helping others heal by developing healthy coping mechanisms. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Central Florida in 2011, and she earned her 200 hour RYT certificate from YOGAMAYA New York in 2014. She is the author of The Way Home (Dancing Girl Press, 2013 / re-published with The Writing Disorder on Kindle), For the Woman Alone (Ampersand Books 2014), and Bomb, which is forthcoming with Ampersand Books this fall. As a mental health advocate and queer rights advocate, she’s volunteered with organizations and facilities like Equality Florida and Lakeside Alternative, and currently she teaches healing, restorative writing and yoga classes at several locations in Central Florida.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Alexander C. Kafka is a journalist, photographer, and composer in Bethesda, Maryland. His photography portfolio is at https://www.lensculture.com/alexander-kafka

 

 

 

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