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When I was loved by you

by Abigail George

For my mother and my father

 

Bombs danced inside my
Head. Behind my eyes. Went off
In my soul. Made fireworks
In my chest. I didn’t know
Then what I know now.
That there was room to grow
Infinitely. Now nearing
Middle-age I don’t test myself
Like that anymore. I’ve
Given up on men and women
And having a small tribe of
Children. On having love and relationships.
I’ve given up on improving

Myself. Calling that
Progress or maturation. Once your
Voice was thunder and your
Touch electric but I’ve
Given up the ghost of
Your personality. I have
Gone the distance for you.
I am rain now breaking over pillows of verdant grass
And winter pavement.
The plural of wisdom
To me now is to keep
On moving. To live under a sky so blue with
Gladness. I am falling like
The sun’s birth day. I am
Alive. I am falling. I am mistress. I am master.
My truth is divine. Divine.

Father, you’re an expert at
Your ‘craft’. Mother, you were
Always a dynamo in the
Kitchen sewing-sewing a-
Way in my childhood. You
Shaped your daughters to
Follow men. You’re worried
Now about wrinkles and
Grey hair. Growing old and
Infirm in your own way.
Falling to the river in your
Dreams. My father looks at
Me as if to say goodbye forever.

 

 

Searching for my sister in middle age

 

Her name is much like the noisy
Movement of the coastline of the
Pacific. Her pain is remote and ghostly
To me as the streets and alleys of
California and Manhattan. She is
Young and beautiful. Holiness and
Machine. She is pure. Half-asleep
She is atrophied fire, rain, and air.
In my robust hands her hair blossoms
With the instinct of thunder. At
My kitchen table I feed the pillows
Of her red mouth trout and salmon.
Perhaps our frailest mother and father
Should have divorced years ago
When they were still young enough
To fall in love again. Marry other
People. Now they are too set in their
Own ways. They have built up a
Lifetime of habits in their vein walls.
Let me protect her and let her anchor
Me like a mirror. A glass of red wine
In the evening blinds her soul. The planet
Of all her nerves and jitters are not
Yet dead. One day our brown
Faces will be heavy with wrinkles.
Our hands will be prunes and our
Perfume will no longer bloom. We’ll fade
Away into the sun. Lines where our
Heart, lungs, liver once were. The vast
Tissues and organs of our immune
System running on empty. Nothing
Left to predict anymore. My hands scan
Everything. The distant underground maneuvering

The chains of the sea. Its switch from purple
At midnight to sea-green during the day.
We’re people merely acting out our problems.
Women acting a lonely bit part here and there.
Lonely rain, overwhelmingly the outsider
Marks the extinction of my sister’s flesh
And familiar bloodwork. She compensates
For far too many things that have gone
Wrong in her life. No milk in our breasts
For sons and daughters. Childhood not forgotten.
We braid our hair in silence. Oil on our hands.
Oil on our hands. The silent moon of our mother above us.
The hottest state of the sun of our father.
Faraway human voices speak softly to me.

 

The ghost of the adolescent Melissa Burjins

 

Gravid belly filled with stars
Gravid belly starless night
I burn with weariness in my soul
The rehabilitation of Hiroshima
And Nagasaki. Vacant rooms
Across continents smothered
By ancestors. Swimming in fields
Of carrion. Once upon a time
Kafka had a tyrant for a father.
I had a tyrant for a mother. Athletes
Are built tough. The bird’s shadow
At the window. Winter pavements
Shining with abalone and slick.
My eyes are empty. My soul is
A shell. There are rooms in my
Lungs that remind me of partings
That are faded. Stripped and jerking.
In the letting go you will find the
Climbing singing scorching weather.
I write books for a living. I call
It an ‘art’. That is all my nerves
Can take. Not love. Not men. Not women.
And so I open my notebook and
The day’s work begins with doubts.

Anxiety. Insecurity. Uncertainty.
My feet in a cement bucket/bath/field.
I am never to return to the girl
I was before. The flame is twisting,
Drowning, burning in my heart.
I want to kiss her lips. Take her hand
In mine. Tell her that I love her.
While I raise up the veil of the sun
In so many splendid ways and call
Upon the bride of the environment.
Gravid belly. Stars fill the night sky.
I remember all of her. All that she said.
In childhood I live next to a field,
A ‘bush’ that was always burning
Up in flames in the summer heat.
I don’t know where my mother’s depression
Began and ended. She’s a legend.
Her laughter is still epic. She was
A bride and a bridesmaid. Orphaned
When I was a small child. She is
Alive. Her throat is camouflage. Harpoon-
Ready. It is morning and joy is still
Young. This ghost house of leaves.

 

The museum filled with ordinary families at teatime

 

The future of seawater
Towards immortality,
Dust singing of sick birds.
My sister was the former and I, the latter.
The night is spiritual.
Your country is a haunted
Land filled with the
Proverbial thirst. The measures
Of longing. Of dying
To belong to feast and
The imperative. Every
Broken family is filled
With cracks in their system.
Their lungs overflowing with flame like a
Fireplace in a mansion.
I don’t know whether
This shoreline will still
Be here in a decade. I’m thinking of the wind.
Feasting my eyes on gulls.
It’s beautiful out here.
The singing geography of
Here reminds me of
Alice in her wonderland.
A word like ‘emphasis’.

I am a woman hard at
Work. Sunday means church but ‘Buddha’
And me sit outside.
He is nearly three years
Old. Daddy and the washed out weather-eye,
His father, my brother,
Went to church early
This morning. There is dirt under
His fingernails. The mirth
Of air is in his lungs.
He is my morning flame.
He is my scribbled knight.
He brings me thanksgiving. He does
Not belong to the bonfire
World of men yet. I kiss
His wrinkled feet and hands.
Coal for eyes. Foal legs.
In his hands he holds the ripples of
An autumn leaf. His lips are
Moths’ wings. Tongue fluid
And slack chewing gum.
Chewing, chewing between grass, far
Off clouds and two kites.

 

When it comes to transformations of the intellect

 

I hate hospitals. Dad
Is there recuperating
From an illness. His leg
Could be amputated.
We took him to the
Emergency unit on a
Saturday morning. It
Feels as if something is missing.
Daddy is not here. It
Feels as if winter is upon
Us once more. Dad is not
Here. I hate hospitals.
Beds folded down with their
Neat hospital corners.
A leaf has fallen from
A tree defying gravity.
The wind catches in
My hair outside the hospital.
I think I’m going to
Be sad. The stairs are empty.
The parking lot is full. Women are

Placenta rich. She is a
Bird. She wears white stockings
Of shade and shadow as intimate
As common sense.
Here you will find women
In uniform. The nurse
With her shroud and coffee.
The psychiatrist made of stone.
The security guard.
The nurse pushing the wheelchair.
You think they will
Make you feel better.
But they don’t. They don’t.
The rooftops of Paris
Remind me of you,
Daddy. Here the ancient
Sun comes. Evenings
Pinkish light. The river
Is wild. The wild is dark. Lonely.
Dad, I hate hospitals.
You’re in the wrong country.

 

 

BIO

Abigail George’s fiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film and television production at Newtown Film and Television School opposite the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. She is the writer of Africa Where Art Thou (2011), Feeding the Beasts (2012), All About My Mother (2012), Winter in Johannesburg (2014), Brother Wolf and Sister Wren (2015), and Sleeping Under the Kitchen Tables in the Northern Areas (2016). Her poetry has been widely published in anthologies, in print in South Africa, and in zines from Nigeria to Finland, and New Delhi, India to Istanbul, Turkey. She lives, works, and is inspired by the people of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

 

 

 

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When I’m Awake, but Not Awaken

by Kailey Tedesco

 

 

How wild do the parasols roll open
on this morning, dark & hot? My ankles are
tired, yet energized & I keep my gait
to a quick creep. The moon
& sun cartoon themselves against the
horizon, each of them squinting,
each of them trying to make
out the words a little faster. I am still
still & lifting myself the best I can
in this old zip-dress. To look up
is to beg for something I’m not ready
to ingratiate myself for. Gaze escapes
my body in the séance of walking, feet always
conjuring new sight. Mother sings a strange
song about railway injustices & I pretend
not to hear her. I’m eating porridge like
a fantasy. In the story, my hair is not so
tangled with grease. My body grazes
bladed ceilings & I wonder how high
a spirit can climb without a burst of helium.

 

 

Marya Murders the Deathless

After the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless

 

I.

Thank the Lord I’ll never know
the slip of blade & skin, blood

is shadowed & sunlit at once –
my dress caught on an crystalline

branch, my dress bleeds its own color.
It feels submissive & I know

this island wants to possess me
& erase me, wants to swallow itself

into a new soul.

II.

Bleeding out feels like climbing
trees – you try so hard to keep me,

but somewhere there’s a god calling
& I say no & my skeleton craves

more bones, his bones like oak
& glutton. I sin all seven ways

& feel no contrition. The bishop
says he’s never seen a portrait

of God & I believe it.

III.

I used to collect crystals inside
a chest of fool’s gold. When he stole
them, I put a hex against his house
& stole his rabbits – they liked
me better, but refused to reproduce,
refused to cough out
the skins I needed.

IV.

This deck of cards has three eggs, Fabergé.
They oscillate in carnival & he
says he doesn’t believe in me & he says
pick one. Remember when Mama took
bites from my Halloween chocolate?
There were no needles, but if
there were, I’d keep them for my
embroidering – I’d flagellate.

V.

In the end, it is always me &
a man – a man of bone alone
all voodoo pricks & I stab
him powerless.

Did you know the sea
is a visage of slaughter? I think
I will cage him there & swallow
salt like a feast.

 

 

BIO

Kailey Tedesco is the author of These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) and the forthcoming full-length poetry collection She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications). She is the editor-in-chief of Rag Queen Periodical and a performing member of the NYC Poetry Brothel. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2016, she received her MFA in creative writing from Arcadia University. You can find her work in Bellevue Literary Review, Meat for Tea, FLAPPERHOUSE, Mass Poetry Poem of the Moment, Prick of the Spindle, and more. For more, please follow @kaileytedesco.

 

 

 

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After Love

by Greg Hill

 

 

You are to love one another, came the commandment. But some were too far in the back of the crowd to hear, so a message relay was requested. One stood up, turned around, and repeated what he had heard. There was a clamor near this speaker, for a few of his words were slightly different than what some thought they had heard the first time. It was decided quickly, by a few of the elders, that a committee should be gathered to confirm exactly what was said and what, if any, translations could be counted official. But you know what happens next: there’s discontent about who gets invited, various factions break off, each employing a different method of counting votes, several favoring just the heads of family, others allowing representation for adult males only, some discounting 40% the voting power of certain individuals based on skin color. Children are born into a community that knows only its moral certitude, which translates poorly across rivers and oceans, and means a slaughter of innocents who were bred to interpret their charge differently. Money changes hands, along with votes and allegiances. Discord erupts into conflict, conflict into battle, battle into war, treasuries collecting taxes to grow the hungry machine. There are others who come later, who try to capture some spirit of the original message, using words like “care” or “respect” or “peace” yet journalistic integrity must bow before cost margins, the success of which is necessary to deliver the corporate message to the people, so pitiful messages of tolerance and redistribution are rightly squashed. Clouds pass over, and days, and seasons and years and new calendars are formed and displaced by even newer ones but still the victors maintain their rectitude, even as philosophies bloom and wither, clans and kingdoms and empires and multinationals. It is so severe, this loving of one another, so as to be unrecognizable, though of course that is not the point, since it is victory that has led us here, righteousness that has given value to the status quo, to the structures and systems and weapons stockpiles that must be fortified against all enemies, enemies destroyed at all cost, costs driven by market, markets to protect the inheritance of what is right and good, for the sake of principle, for the purpose of discipline, for the flag of love that waves tirelessly over the corpses of infidels, of martyrs, of unbelievers; the diffident, the different, the dependent and misled; the huddled, the tired and the damn poor.

 

 

Song to the Hemlocks

 

I sing a song to the hemlocks
in the shade where the river
bends. Sail down, small notes,
with the flashing fins of fly-fish trout
and rowing boats,
past cold and austere rocks,
past glade ferns, golden farms,
the dances of their fields, then out beyond
the fertile loam where the current ends
and the splashing foam of the tide begins.

 

 

 

Alarm Clock

 

The alarm clock,
however, gets up earlier,
preparing for its purpose
like the pubescent teenager
jogging up the summer
camp’s grassy hill
with his bugle
to play Reveille.
Most working adults
have something negative
to say about the way
they are woken up
in the morning.
The not-quite-gentle
touch of open palm
to snooze alarm
is passive aggressive,
like a handshake—
one that gives
the appearance of
nice to meet you,
but has the feel of
shut the hell up
and don’t come back.

 

 

BIO

Greg Hill is an educator, adjunct professor of English, math tutor, and voice over talent in West Hartford, Connecticut. He has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and his work has appeared in Atlas and Alice, Barzakh, Cargo Literary, Cheap Pop, Grub Street, Past Ten, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Whiskey Island and elsewhere. Thanks to his kids, he has memorized the movies Frozen, Trolls, and Moana. He spends his free time studying quantum mechanics and toki pona.

 

 

 

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Firmament V

by S. L. V. Stronwin

 

A cleansing black smoke
That’s what I need once in a while

The old painted train seems only to burnish by
When it might penetrate the rain

Simple spells and autism
Nearest now, but still off in the hidden

Little world of trees now abandoned
To our pretense of progress

Remember the swarm?
Slow black and ticking in the snow

Smoking dope and campfire food
Not quite real, either of them

But you captured it all, disassembled, reassembled
In color

I like the ache—it feels
Like you did something, you know?

 

 

Wound

 

Not corpselike, just full
She shows
Incorruptible as ice in the flower hole
Exposition of snowy visions is a surer course
And the undead try
—Don’t give way to nostalgia
Try not to let her in

Mortar and pestle to grind the arils
Shatter the fruit to end life
Pliable then, next unoiled
Only to disintegrate in closure
Paranoia in the woods
White stalks
And monkshood to end it all

A shame not to dream of it

Zen as a purring kitten
Zen is a purring kitten
Wife dreaming up salmon for her son
All made tired by the light
Never at peace, though now we think
Love is an ease
Love is an ease

 

 

Anisocoria

 

Pillars of light
In forged spirals
Fear of fire
Star anise pine

Cold symphony
And iron apertures
Steel lens tethered
To grey clusters in rope

Sight of blindness
Withered cables
Ragged yellow
Nerves in acid

Palsy in four
Waiting for light to pierce
To flutter in
Taking no time at all

From its fast pace
A perspective
In bent bright shapes
Small perfect shapes

Or great green spheres
Or pale blue dots of dust
Humming in time
Counting cold cosmic clocks

But all too deep
Too strange, distant
Ineffable
Black silences

Instead, close light
Something near and massless
Generated
But not generating

Now sight withers
And parasitizes
And reaches in
Pulling out cold wet lymph

White and wilting
In grey iron
Unforgiving
Cold carbon mouth

Dripping steel flesh
Uncorroded by breath
Razor wire
Connects the lip and breast

Now so inside
Eyeskin drips wet and weak
The eye ripples
Pineal weakness shines

Blossoming and
Whispering and
Absorbing self
Corrugating

Senses and words
Rationalizing loss
Killing meaning
Devouring intent

Forgetfulness
Consumes me so
I wish I felt
Something, anything

Blind now, afraid
Her light stolen from me
Sleeping virus
Crafts a womb from your thoughts

Composes flesh
Strung in vellum
Makes love to you
Through you, inside

Uses you as
The stars use an ocean
Silent and soft

There she sings cold melody
Her insignificant borders

There he hums base harmony
Dissonance in replication

Happiness inverse
Happiness in verse

Holes change their shape
Welcoming light
In dead harbors
Lapping old shores

Glimpsed briefly through the fog
Forgotten all her faces

Again, attacking
Strewn like orchards
In summered ecstasy
Hedonists not idle
Celebrants that sup
Borrow
And steal

Now divide
Share the wealth of this corpse
Homunculus of littler universes
And windblown fragments
Elsewise whole
Or in an illusion of wholeness

Third departure
Halation emulsified
In the yellow fat of fear
Storm cellared echoes
Subsume the distance
Manipulate with terrible force

Orchids in her eyes
Orchids in her smile

Cincinnatus
His war thus ended
Disrobes and returns
Embraces the earth

Nerves compressed
Lesions in legion
Variance in photographs
Ancient brain succumbs

To error, helminthic corruptors
Or great distress

O, happy windows
Powerful organs
You emulate the world you imagine
Furnish meaning

Feeding obsession, mistrust
Part of a whole
But an effable selection
Or at least at a glance

Legions in lesion
Galaxies pregnant with light
Spilling life into the saltless sea
Overfull and ever-flowing

 

 

BIO

S. L. V. Stronwin was born in Upstate New York, but has been itinerant for some time, finding home in the Central Coast of California, the Central Valley of the same, Baja Arizona, the far woods of Vermont, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. At present, the author writes what he reads: subversive high fantasy, eldritch weird fiction, scientific nonfiction, and stuff about plants. He has one cat, a genteel and tuxedo-bound fellow named Sokka. His work can be found at (amazon.com/author/slvs) – the author’s work, that is, not the cat’s.

 

 

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Rationalization

by Charles W. Brice

 

The man behind the couch
serves libido for lunch

destrudo for dinner
Mmmmmmmmm

Ration your reason
Your ratio of reality
Too much is scary

It’ll all be okay

He needs to get paid for missed sessions
You understand

He has kids you need to send to college
A mortgage you pay with your neurosis

That’s understandable

A good gig if you can get it
And I got it when I entered
the Psychoanalytic Institute in 1990

My Supervising Analyst charged me $180 an hour on a patient I was seeing for $10
            an hour four times a week

Es vas reasonable

I was only in the hole $140 a week
for the privilege of my supervisor falling asleep
while I was reporting to him
my patient’s dream

He wanted to empathize with that dream
by dreaming himself

He lived in a huge house
with oak paneling
Crystal
Oriental rugs

He should get my money
He had a right to it

He was rational

 

 

Displacement/Sublimation

 

What place is Dis

Chain gang a workin’ Displacement Road

for the sub/bureau
the psychoanalytic precinct

Moving from sublimation’s sublime to displacement’s slime

From painting the Sistine ceiling because it’s forbidden to be gay to kicking a dog after the
            iconic rough day

It’s the place you’re
meant to be
bumped along
the metonymic
highway

Yield the right of way

Yield the right way

 

 

BIO

Charles W. Brice is a retired psychoanalyst and is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (WordTech Editions, 2016) and Mnemosyne’s Hand (WordTech Editions, forthcoming, May, 2018). His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in over forty-five publications including The Atlanta Review, Hawaii Review, Chiron Review, The Dunes Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Sport Literate, SLAB, The Paterson Literary Review, Spitball, VerseWrights, The Writing Disorder, and elsewhere.

 

 

 

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Trio, or Three Sour Grapes

A. A. Reinecke

 

A Fuck You

hey brother / fuck you for being tan indoors / like you haven’t been to class in weeks / but Ian / took you to the: Hamptons / because you’re dying / like Jell-O hellfire laps at your mortal / ankles / in the / drunk disarray; some party / but doesn’t / bite / fuck you because all you eat is shit / like yogurt / and it slides to the shape / you want it / like milk and cream yield to / you / like: life / hey brother / last week at prom you caught / company / in flesh / like you never brought back any / salmon from your / trip / the Adirondacks / like when I make you / milk hot / you wait / for it to / cool like only a coward runs / from the draft / under the door/ like she starved herself / so you’d touch / her / like the preparation of sacrifice / for altar / like it was against marble you / fucked / the bathroom at the / Waldorf / Astoria / a lovely / bathroom / like it smelled of cinnamon lotion / and resistant / starvation like laurel hung / to please you / to please stop / please / fuccckkk / fuck / fuckmeharder / like Yale took you / when it shouldn’t have / like when you / broke Ian’s nose he let it / go / and your coup for class / president / ended in / rococo: re-election / candy wrappers / littered the hall / found in January: you owe Dad / a fortune / maybe / a life / like you never paid him for / the baby Snickers / or the condoms / or the bourbon / you drained / or / the hell / the other kind / of which you dealt / so much.

 

 

A Happening

 

It was happening: a child in the backseat
of a car. A parking lot behind a bar warm with
May. Like milkshake air. Like cornbread buttered
that’s how you know it’s summer: you can’t
trust the butter to: cold air.

Say blane. Coconut cove. Private marshmallow
weekendwaltz. Pearly white between the seat
imported crumbs from domestic chips: New
Hampshire snacks from California and his hands
greasy with lust of the kill.

He’d done it: conquered stateliness or folded
oats into grain, 7-11 drugstores, lollipops with taffy knit
in, concrete pools, mediocre sex, banana ice
cream, a drink straw caught like bug in amber fucked
by circumstance. I’ll still hit you.

If you say it. That’s a dare. The child’s mouth had
bled because tapered candles are red and nobody lets
anybody get away with anything. My dad don’t drink he
swims a breast stroke motion with his arm
is an underhand to the: jaw.

It was happening: a child in the backseat
of a car. The blood had veined the skin hot like what they
made Rome with. He cursed into leather because
dying tastes like: salt. Like potato chips and they only
filled the bag. Half full.

 

 

Last Night’s Gin on Your Mouth for Breakfast

 

It is cold like a prison like Antarctica gray and on
the folded bit a dribbling of blood the shape of:
Minnesota. St. Paul. That’s where he’s from.
St. Paul. It is noon now. That was breakfast.
The room was a sideboard with bits of fractured
glass tacked up. The windows spoke in tongues like
chemise powder blue lapis like eyeshadow
colors like Maybelline or my lust strained through
milk. Q: Do you love me? A: I don’t know. Chai was
sweet grain melted like the wetness of my mouth
and your tongue tastes still like Ian and
his carpet and his gin like a plow for planting
prohibition. Q: The flask? A: No. My plastic cup
membrane shed quartz like history nabbed from
headband. Q: You eating? Coffee? Anything?
A: No. St. Paul. That’s where he’s from.
St. Paul.

 

 

BIO

A. A. Reinecke is a writer and poet from Westchester, NY. She currently resides in Northern California where she writes every morning at 5 AM opposite a print of “View of the World from 9th Avenue” and consumes copious amounts of coffee. Her likes include maple-flavored anything and snow. Her favorite animal is a tiger.

 

 

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Disappointed Customer

by Bruce McRae

 

 

Dear Whomever, not that we care that much,
but we seem to have misplaced your recent order.
Somehow the forms were sent to deepest Africa,
your details now in the hands of the Russian mob.
However, for an extra fee we will provide poor service.

Often what one desires one doesn’t receive.
Molly in reception was abandoned by her parents
and God, for example, so I wouldn’t complain,
not if you know what’s good for you.
And we know what’s good for you.

 

 

In Another World

 

A headless chicken…
On a raft…
In an ocean of methane…
On another world…
In an alternate timeline…

But wait, there’s more,
says the author
while patting down
his unruly cowlick.
Creating his own problems.
Making trouble for himself.
Starting something
he couldn’t finish.

 

 

It’s A Job

 

The one who drives hogs screaming
to the slaughterhouse, whistling a happy tune,
smoking a cigarette he’d term well deserved,
twiddling dials on an old truck’s radio,
ogling the gals on this sunny summer morning.
Fulfilling his role, if not his destiny.
Carrying on in a world as sweet as it is bitter.

*

Our friendly neighborhood gravedigger.
The quiet sort, who keeps to himself
and bides his counsel, off to work
each morning without a care in the world,
his cat left watching in the window.
He who deports himself as if one
maintaining a well-kept confidence.
A man to withhold Earth’s secrets.

*

I found work as a village idiot.
I sit on a fence and grin all day.
I get to shout at the incomprehensible
something-or-other which is all around us,
gesticulating wildly, like a drunken man
waving at flies that aren’t actually there.
The pay is poor, but I don’t mind;
in my line of work there are few expectations.
I just chew on a straw. Come rain or shine.
I just spit in the dirt. Come hell or high water.

*

The graveyard shift,
a killer of women and children,
of those who have two choices,
little or none, stars faltering,
the moon fallen down,
workers’ heads bowed
in determined reverence,
the righteous tucked into bed,
their dreams unhindered
by metal on bone.
By the issues that cause
much suffering.

 

 

BIO

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a Pushcart nominee with over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets’ (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), all available via Amazon.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

0

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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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