Home Poetry

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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

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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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.

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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

 

 

 

0

Tips on How to Choose Clothing for the Deceased

by D.G. Geis

 

Something dark is best.
Perhaps a Sunday suit

or formal business attire.
Something you might wear

for a special occasion—
like interviewing for a new job.

Your new position
will require a certain panache.

Stiff determination
and a resolute smile

should make a lasting impression
on your new Employer.

Later, as your suit empties
and you fade slowly

into the woodwork,
it will come to you

how deep
life’s roots really run—

two of which
are already knocking,

discreetly,
at your new front door.

 

 

Hexagram 23

“Bo” (Splitting Apart)

For D.S.

The last man to die the death of 1000 cuts
was a Mr. Fou Tchou-Li. The year was 1905.

In Chinese this form of execution
is called Lingchi or “slow slicing.”

In English there is no exact equivalent,
but “death by fillet” is a good approximation.

The French philosopher Georges Bataille
was said to meditate every morning

on a photograph of Mr. Fou Tchou-Li
midway through the process of his

deconstruction. The object in question
has both arms removed and two

gentlemen are assiduously severing
the quadriceps femoris. The skin

and muscle on both sides of his
upper rib cage have been folded back

to better view the lungs which
continue to function as evidenced

by the look on Mr. Fou Tchou-Li’s face,
a signification which betokens neither agony

nor ecstasy, but something in-between.
It is the astonishment of a thinker

in the midst of a great thought, losing himself
a little here, a little there, until the answer floats by

so pure, so final, so free—
and like all great thoughts,

just out of reach.

 

 

State of the Universe Address

 

Lights out
in this arm of the galaxy

where things spiral wondrously
out of control.

Stars glittering like sequins
on a party girl’s miniskirt

vanilla sprinkles frosting the void
of a trillion year old birthday cake.

And the Good Lord,
our Birthday Boy,

poised in his high chair
waiting patiently, so patiently,

to blow out the candles.

 

 

Busboy

“And that was the whole show.”
—Charles Simic

 

Busboy by day,
Philosopher by night;

This strange world of
Disappearing tablecloths

And naked tables
Flashing leg.

A little cheesecake
For the diners

Or maybe a fork
Out of thin air.

A brief demonstration
In four parts

And the metaphysician
Struts his Stuff.

The cosmology of tableware,
The ontology of napkins:

There’ll be no applause
When he makes

Nothing from Something
And hardly a glance

When the diners levitate
On a cloud of atoms.

Prix fixe, the last course
Is a mystery.

This sleight of hand,
This aproned magician,

Bending over a table
Reshuffling the universe

One spoon at a time.

 

 

 

BIO

DG GeisD.G. Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in Philosophy from California State University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fjords, Memoryhouse, 491 Magazine, Lost Coast, Blue Bonnet Review, The Broadkill Review, A Quiet Courage, SoftBlow International Poetry Journal, Blinders, Burningword Literary Journal, Poetry Scotland (Open Mouse), Crosswinds, Scarlet Leaf, Zingara, Sweet Tree, Atrocity Exhibition, Driftwood Press, Tamsen, Rat’s Ass, Bad Acid, Crack the Spine, Collapsar, Grub Street, Slippery Elm, Ricochet, The Write Place at the Write Time, Steam Ticket, Razor, Origami, Matador, Cheat River, Euphemism, Two Cities, The Hartskill Review, Sugar House, Literary Orphans, Dash, Zabaan, Clare, Panoplyzine, Boston Accent, Silkworm, Drylandlit, Permafrost, Gingerbread House, and The Machinery. He will be featured in a forthcoming Tupelo Press anthology of 9 New Poets and is winner of Blue Bonnet Review’s Fall 2015 Poetry Contest. He is also a finalist for both The New Alchemy and Fish Prizes (Ireland).

0

Guam

by Lucas Shepherd

 

 

Rafters of tall, sprawling
ifit trees. Cobwebs wallpapering
the edge of the road. Fantails
and drongos flapping in and out of sight.

Our guide, a Chamorro woman dressed
in jean shorts and a polo shirt with hair so black
it’s blue like the South Pacific on a cloudless night
when you’re exactly drunk enough to see all the facts God has disguised.

Before this deployment I never knew
the U.S. liberated Guam in 1944. But
we have not let the Chamorro
people forget ever since.

During midshift I light my way with the fiery tails
of F-15s performing full afterburner takeoffs. The
flightline is alive with the glory of freedom, JP-8,
and a coconut crab that has lost her way.

Our guide showed us things we may have
otherwise missed. On this island they say
An guaha guinaiya, guaha lina’la’ lokkue’.
If there is love, there is life.

 

 

Veteran

 

I take the garbage can to the curb, brush my
hand up and down our juniper tree’s waist.

Crows shotgun from the leafy cluster. Wind gusting
down Truman Street sounds like fabric being ripped.

We live our lives so fast—that’s what I think,
out loud. Lemon peel sun, clouds a flavor I tasted

once at a mall and never thought of again.
Hot day cooling down at last. Ides of March

and I forget the setup, only remember the punch
line to a childhood joke: Orange Julius Caesar.

Neighbor’s rusty SUV the color of a two-week-
old banana. Yucca plants—Spanish bayonet—

daggers in their yard. Driveway cracks
reminds me of first-grade cursive.

Someone important once said time is a dish best
served cold. A rolling stone gathers no time. Etc.

 

 

EOD

 

When I left, my friend Tony from Ammo
gifted me a spent 105 millimeter

howitzer shell. Brassy color and smells
metallic, oily. Round as a beer mug,

long as a big man’s boot. It’s hollow.
When you flick the top it rings like

an angry wind chime. For now, I hide it
from my son in the spare bedroom closet.

When he’s old enough we’ll
excavate it together using

a VBIED Inspection mirror, HME
Detector Kit, breakaway pulleys.

Multi-Plier 600 with lanyard ring
and flat-edge knife. Spool with carabiner.

Medical shears, curved forceps.
Blast suit with acoustic impedance.

Radio silence until Alpha Charlie.
I will tell him, this is from the past.

A long time ago. It can no longer
harm us. But you can’t be too careful.

 

 

Paternity

 

Where I come from a doe abandons her fawn at birth
for several days so her scent won’t compromise
the newborn to predators: coyotes, mountain lions, etc.

The buck leaves for less noble reasons, never
to return, which is why we rarely mention it.
Son, I stay for you not because of instinct

but a total disregard for it. I can teach you
how to disassemble a dash sixty generator;
I was never that good at putting it back together.

 

 

 

BIO

Lucas ShepherdLucas Shepherd is an MFA student at the University of New Mexico. His creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic, Aldous Huxley Annual, and Conversation Noises. These and more can be found on his website, lucas-shepherd.com. He is now completing a novel, West by Midwest, about demolition derby and redemption.

 

 

 

0

Homecoming

by Brad Rose

 

My one-armed, little brother is 6’ 2”
his face quirked, like a question mark.

He’s back from the army,
filled with a silent language he doesn’t understand.

Says he dreams of a job,
maybe something at the post office,

or in the library, shelving books.
At dinner he tells mom he just needs a few weeks

to get his bearings.
Some mornings, I catch him in the living room

slack on the khaki couch, his blond hair growing back,
the TV’s anesthesia unplugged. He stares

out the front window, into the slow daylight.
When I ask him what he’s doing,

he says, just staying in my lane, Bro.
Just staying in my lane.

I troop upstairs to hide his nine millimeter,
            again.

 

 

The Problem of the Trees

 

Influenced by Derrida and Foucault,
I’m a drowning man,
electrocuted.
Just your average homologue,
give or take 15 percent.
If I was music, I’d be a police siren,
or an Arabian shriek,
but I don’t want to cut off my own legs.
I’m thinking about 1.3 million women.
Unofficial sources say it’s not a sin,
it’s a case of popular mechanics.

The world is filled with mystery.
The Spanish Steps are in Italy,
fortune cookies are nearly free,
but these days, it seems like all my carrot stories are about sticks.
Some people tell me this is either an evasion of privacy
or catering to a niche market.
Yes, I’m a Jesus capitalist
because it’s always good to have a friend
in customer service.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned
from my many years in the wholesale circus industry,
it’s that our secrets are locked-up in ourselves, like tiny homunculi
with their hats off.
We’re plush mannequins yearning to become tan-toned statues.
Nevertheless, after I turn myself inside-out,
I hope to receive a reduced sentence.

Justine told me her skin didn’t feel like it was really hers,
so I told her to relax, its only formication.
I’m an experienced myrmecologist, even if it means keeping my pants on.
She reminded me that Socrates was convicted
by a very small majority of the jury.
That’s the problem with the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Outside, the wind struggles with the problem of the trees.
You’d think lightning could solve it.

 

 

Like a Forest, the Unsuspecting Crowd

 

Trekking through the natural history museum,
counting my vowels and consonants,
I like the idea of flames
the way I like paintings of trees.

A man-made lake, unmade,
my eyes, a secret country,
I once read about rage in a book
about fire.

Wild animals have talent,
but they’re sworn to secrecy.
Maybe they aren’t flammable,
but you never know for sure.

I envy my shadow,
as it escapes my bones.
The only thing it lacks
is a good, clean siren.

I’ve been studying fire safety,
I can answer all the questions.
This kind of thing happens
more often than you think.

If the crowd goes wild, stampedes the doors,
who’ll bury the bodies?
On second thought, no worries.
Leave it to me.

 

 

 

BIO

Brad RoseBrad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author of Pink X-Ray, Big Table Publishing, 2015 (www.pinkx-ray.com). Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize in fiction, Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Folio, decomP, The Baltimore Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Lunch Ticket, San Pedro River ReviewOff the Coast, Heavy Feather Review, Posit, Third WednesdayBoston Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, The Molotov Cocktail, and other publications. Brad is the author of three electronic chapbooks, all from Right Hand PointingDemocracy of Secrets, http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!brad-rose-democracy-of-secrets/c1ec2, Dancing School Nerves, http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!br16-home/c1ujz, and Coyotes Circle the Party Storehttps://sites.google.com/site/bradroserhpchapbook/. Links to Brad’s published poetry and fiction can be found at: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/. Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard at: https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1. An interview with Brad is available at: http://www.righthandpointing.net/#!brad-interview/cfo5

 

0
Oliver Perrin

The Music of Eastern Europe

by Oliver Timken Perrin

 

For Andrea Jurjević

 

The boots of Sultan
Tsar and Kaiser
leave muddy prints
on your mother’s breasts

Fanged wooden spires
rise like dog hackles
from the deep snow
that sometimes causes
frost-riddled gypsies
to drop from their trees
like stiff and staring fruit

Your sad fiddles
invoke immodest sorrow
with merciless reliability
because everyone
is missing a string

In the frostbitten hour
before dawn
ten thousand tiny hussars
flutter their wings
in your crooked wells

They’ve been waiting for Spring
for centuries

Your dancing masters
resort to strong drink
and minefield choreographies
to ensure their art survives

Your soil is fertile
blood makes it black
like krvavica sausages
or the rings that stain
Báthory tubs

Every bandit is a prince
and every prince a bandit
with a bulge in his pants
formed by a fat roll
of bills or what might be
red opera gloves
if it weren’t for the dripping

And wolf brothels
where boards beds and babes
all squeal like little pigs

Close your eyes and listen

The howling is beautiful.

 

 

Weightless

 

I’m in a café

a refuge from
the damp chill and
acrid coal smoke

Istanbul in winter

a table for one
outside the circle
near the door
shoved in beside
narrow wooden steps
leaning upward

my spoon clacks
in the criss-crossed
narrows of Beyoğlu
5,771 miles from home

from foreigner or stranger
it’s only a stone’s throw to enemy

when Istiklal street
is less crowded
I draw suspicious eyes
simply because
I’m walking alone

they talk to each other
like the big family
I’ve never been part of
abi, abla, teze, amca
big brothers and sisters
bigger uncles and aunts

I humblehunch
over my cooling bowl
in the real fear
somebody will kick
crumbs and dirt
into my soup

women with long
red noses and scarves
come in just behind me
with an irritating bell jangle
with deep voices
and laughter
spinning threads of perfume
from full and heavy
heads of gleaming hair

the muddy shivers
trail them too
and sometimes snatches
of the evening ezan
summoning the faithful
to sock footed prayer
in rolling waves
from graceless bullhorns

I can’t resist
the furtive glances

puzzlement and longing
twisting my neck
to glimpse
the taught contractions
in the muscles of their legs
stomping upward

one pair of shoes
after another
passing in review
at eye level

it seems so strange
that they strain
to climb something
as mundane
as a few steps
to another floor

I can almost hear
their bones creaking

it seems so strange somehow
that they do not float.

 

 

A Postcard From Greece

 

In Thrace
on a slow
dirty train
a shirtless
young soldier
didn’t like me
with one wet eye
while the other
wandered drunk

I learned to say
Malaka

 

 

 

BIO

Oliver PerrinOliver Timken Perrin is a native of the American South. His poems have appeared in Bohemian InkScapegoat Review, and the Negative Capability Press anthology Stone River Sky. Perrin also co-wrote the independent feature film Crude which received the 2003 IFP Los Angeles Film Festival Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature and a Special Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival.

 

 

 

 

0

At the beach

by Abigail George

 

Bright lights in the city.
You had been made of iron.
Your memoir is made of whirlpools.
As vital as a tombstone.
I can thrive in this cancer ward.
Filled with the song of mannequins.
In the dark, I turn black.
Sea of trees I cannot fathom you.
Swimming pool once a myth.
Upside down and wishful.
I can see Jonah’s Whale from here.
Stars in the fabric of moonlight.
Everything smells of spirit.

 

 

Hibiscus and insects

 

Now I meet with disaster.
I come with bereavement.
The ways of water run deep.
Salt and light. Before disability struck
Do you remember?
The epic heights you reached.
The cigarettes you smoked
In high school. Boys made out of paper.
Men made out of gin.
You were unsuitable for both.
You stopped drinking milk.
You stopped eating altogether.
Anorexia they called it.
The elephant in the room.
You went to the moon
In addition, back in dreams.
You held the autumn chill
In your hands. Its journal.
There were the walks you took
Around the church. Up to the
Garage where you bought peanuts
And raisins with your father.
The cashier would not smile
As he bagged your purchases.
Your dad’s granadilla hands
He is in the autumn of the years.
It is that festive time of year again.
When you eat, drink, and be merry.
I will not be doing that this year.
I am fragile. A mountainous
Version of tenderness. I melt in the
Presence of children. No good
For anyone. Stay away from me.

 

 

Jericho

 

I am a cat person. I collect strays
Like others collect coins or stamps.
I believe in God, love and crashing
Into things. I spend too much
Time inside my own head.
I am tired of instructing my own work.
I write about the song in the wind.
It becomes my own song.
The song of loneliness. Of Rilke,
Of Nabokov, of Akhmatova,
Of Ernest Hemingway driving
Ambulances during the war.
I write about the seasons
As if I were a poet. The leaves that
Leave fingerprints behind them.
A pint of milk. A jar of honey.
I write about angels and goddesses.
I am impatient and angry
At the human condition and I read
To find myself because this is
This is what the river whispers to me.
Sometimes the road inside too.

 

 

BIO

abigail georgeAbigail George is the author of ‘Africa Where Art Thou’ (2011), ‘Feeding the Beasts’ (2012), ‘All About My Mother’ (2012), ‘Winter in Johannesburg’ (2013), ‘Brother Wolf and Sister Wren’ (2015), and the forthcoming ‘Sleeping Under Kitchen Tables in the Northern Areas’ (2016). Her poetry has been widely published from Nigeria to Finland, and New Delhi, India to Istanbul, Turkey. Her fiction was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film and television production at the Newtown Film and Television School opposite the Market Theater in Johannesburg. She is the recipient of writing grants from the National Arts Council (Johannesburg), the Centre for the Book (Cape Town), and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) (East London). She writes for Modern Diplomacy, blogs with Goodreads, and contributed to a symposium for a year on Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine.

 

 

 

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