Joe Albanese

Joe Albanese

 

 

You Know Me Too Well

 

 

My emblem

is a jagged smiley face

transcribed at the bottom

of a suicide note.

There it sits and renders,

there it mocks with taunting

silver linings.

It’s a signature, a calling card.

It is Orion the hunter, it

is lies and truth. It is hope.

It is me.

Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess

Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, and two novels including States of Mercy. His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, The Bellingham Review,  River Styx, cream city review, and other journals.

Sentry Duty

                                                 

 

The world seems vast at night:

flat, straight, the same in all directions,

black except for city light

at the horizon. When I stare,

I feel I could set out &

go anywhere, find someplace

I might settle against a comfy chair.

Wouldn’t stand there star-blind.

I’d want more peace ahead

than war behind (the world

so vast at night, I said).

If there were thieves or enemies,

I’d swear, “Oh, let them come.”

Judith Borenin

Judith Borenin

Judith has been published in The Raven Chronicles:Last Call, The Floating Bridge Press Review IV, Ethel Zine 3 & 4, Synchcronized Chaos, The Poetica Review and other anthologies. Her Chapbook, The Evidence & The Evermore, was published July, 2019 by Sarah Lefsky/Ethel Zine. She lives simply and writes in Port Townsend, Washington.

 

 

Heron Fall

 

 

From the bed skirt of beveled clouds

that fell beneath a blue black – sky as 

a shadow she shifted inside her hoarse

cry flying into the deafening darkness.

I’ve discovered the place where she

nestles – a wooden cradle of cracked

planks on the desolate wharf. When

scattered light forms an ivory white

gauze around the sun – she stands on

one foot for hours picking at tattered

feathers – elongated neck twisting in

contortions of liquid jets. Or she stands

mutely aloof amidst the hunch backed

plump gulls and scavenging crows.

Fading at the edges she disappears into

a place so removed that she casts her

own existence in doubt. Birds of various

feathers rise above her swirling in flocks

and murders weaving a tapestry of wings

across a quieter blue and thinning sky.

Rusts relent to ochres and dark duns

that gather in guttered desiccated nests

of black veins. Grey ripples whisper by –

she watches while they peak and rise

to waves the further out they go. Arthritic –

she lowers her long limbs – layer by layer –

folding down inside her wooden cradle

where she settles at last – a remnant torn 

loose from the distant seamless sky.

 

 

A Catechism

 

 

The sun believes   

in itself

as it bores a hole

through a cloudy sky – 

the way a bird believes  

in its wings

after it has learned to fly.

A spider believes

in itself

as it spins the silk of its skin

weaving intricacies across a breach –

the way the wind believes  

in itself

as it shreds the web with the breath of its reach. 

A seagull believes

in itself

as it flies into its own shriek –

splitting light waves that pierce the ground –

the way the body that believes

in abandonment

leans right into that shattered sound –

feeling the ragged breath

that scrapes through a high

mountain pass – hearing a talon’s

slow screech as it breaks apart a pane of glass.

 

 

Lamentations in Falling Leaves

 

 

Leaves drift to the pavement

in fist falls of melancholy –

dry as grief. Beneath my feet –

the path of brittle patchwork

spreads in scarlet desiccated

shrieks. Across the street a

busker tinkles a tin pan alley

tune – each note a drifting leaf –

a cry of leaving and goodbye.

Greens dissolve to dull ochre

and dry gold – the air preserves

its chill – distilled in lonely

echoes still audible in lingering

winds. To the ground the world

spills in dying breaths I trample

underfoot – and still your image

rises – slender brown shoulders

and those eyes forever closed.

Tina Carey

Tina Carey

Tina is a Personal Chef and a long-time writer and lover of poetry. She writes from personal knowledge of trauma, grief, mental health, and healing. She is hoping to inspire and create a unified experience of hope and understanding. Tina has been published by Poetic Pill Blog, and ANTIherionchick. The Voices Project and Call and Response Journal forthcoming.   

 

 

Glue

 

I am a lost soul glued to an immobile shadow

            Eyes always closed

If I open them, it’s a horror I only know

            The sweet smell of roses

Splashed with blood.

            It’s enough to lose my fading wit

I’ll never move on

            It stays with me like skin to bone.

 

 

Yuan Changming

Yuan Changming

Yuan Changming  published monographs on translation before leaving his native country. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen  Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations  & publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) BestNewPoemsOnline, among nearly 1,600 others across 43 countries.   

 

 

How to Make Light of Darkness

 

in a world always half in darkness

your body may be soaked deep

in a wet nightmare, rotting

 

but your heart can roam

like a synchronous satellite

in the outer space, leaving

the long night far behind

as long as your heart flies fast

 

& high enough, you will live

in light forever

 

Snowflaking

 

             In the wild open west, snow flakes keep falling

Like myriad baby angels knocked down from Paradise

 

    Blurring the landscape behind the vision

Hunting each consonant trying to rise above

 

The ground. The day is brighter, lighter &

   Softer than the feel. Soon there will be

 

      Dirty prints leading to everywhere (or nowhere)

& no one will care how the whole world will collapse

        In blasphemy. The missing cat won’t come to

       Trespass the lawn, nor will the daffodil bloom

 

To catch a flake drifting astray. Nobody bothers even to think

     About where the season is held up on its way back, how

         The fishes are agitating under the pressure of wintry

         Water, why people wish to see more and more snow

Mary Clark

Mary Clark

Mary Clark is a writer from Tulsa, Oklahoma living in Los Angeles. I volunteer with the Prison Education Project, teaching creative writing. I am 26, identify as a woman and work as a nanny and bartender in L.A. I am excited to share these poems from what I hope will be my first collection of poetry.

Joker again

 

coat hangs on the back of his chair

he’s watching compilations

 

Nora is here

sifting through Cisneros

 

I have been thinking about joker all day

 

he rises in front of his coat

stumbling through Tupperware

 

everyone came here from somewhere

the movie just went like this:

 

what is loneliness?

is it my fault?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shorthand

 

looking at a bruised peach

as if I made it up

 

right now

I’d be jealous of me

 

shielding the sunset on

a gravel driveway

in Ojai 

 

sitting here with the remains of my manicure

on another person’s table

 

sitting with her while she beads bracelets that say whore and slut

for her first day of high school

 

this (teen) dream is a centerfold

unraveling

 

or a rope unhooked

burning

through my hands

Ayn Frances dela Cruz

Ayn Frances dela Cruz

Ayn, 34, is Propsmaker and Chief Slave of Paper Monster Press. She publishes her work sporadically online and offline. She currently works as Project Manager of BEntrepreneur Magazine & Youtube Channel.

20-second story

 

I have allowed myself

To seep into the cracks of

Pavements.

My blood has stopped

The holes in roads.

 

When once you have read

Of my letters

You become me.

You become

More than I am.

 

I am so minute and so shallow

I fit into the ducts of your eye

And come out as tear.

You shed me always without knowing

Who I am

 

Without knowing my love for you.

A love blood-thick

That I become your pores.

 

You should hold me close always

And enfold me

In the locks of your hair

 

And keep me there

Secreted away

So I may never find my way out

So I may never find my way

Out of you.

 

 

The Bone Narratives

Ayn Frances dela Cruz

 

On a cycle, a seeming hunch

10, 000 bones are gathered

For one supreme tent, the skin

Holds beneath its folds.

A socket, a mandible, the jaw,

A hinge, completely spread

Seems like the revolutions

Of the sun on a fallen earth.

 

These are my pulp fictions,

My recurring history

Of histories, write it all

Down on these old bones,

There time calcifies, and I

Even as they become solidified

Wax, taming the always unseen

Deserts, only the heart

Is unpredictable, the bones go

On, recording the skin, becoming

A book of blood, a space, where

The old ghost writers rehearse

Their ectopic narratives.

 

In our ivory towers, in our sparse

Comfort rooms, the bones arch

And bend, and we plant them

In our gardens of time, waiting

For them, for us to bloom,

Those beautiful, deadly

Night-flowers, the flowering

Bones, the ones that rattle and

Shake their fists at passers-by.

Hannah Fields

Hannah Fields

Hannah Fields is a writer and editor from Texas. She has worked on various publications from children’s books to award-winning magazines. Her work has appeared in Sweatpants & CoffeeSpelk Fiction2Elizabeths, and The Ogilvie. You can follow her on Twitter and read more on her website

 

 

Living in Parallels

Galaxies ripple against the cornerstone
of my DNA like the angry surface of savage
rivers disrupted by overflowing waters
from unexpected summer rains sounding
rushing roars of ten billion voices from all
the lives I’ll never get the chance to live,
their echoes fading like ghosts before
reaching my ears and their possibilities
shining like stardust in the shedding of
a lifetime of sudden inexplicable tears.

Amy Gaeta

Amy Gaeta

Amy Gaeta is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Amy’s creative work explores how trauma and injury are ordinary and mundane conditions that shape how we perceive and order the world. Her poetry has been published in various local venues, museum catalogs, and journals. A selection of these include Soundings East, Crab Fat Magazine, OPE! A Madison Anthology, and the 2016 Poetry Speaks catalogue from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. She grew up in Boston and now resides in Madison, WI.

A Myth of Plastic, Us

 

There’s a time now that sits on top of the Mariana Trench.

Right where fiber cables

awake next to all

the dead myths I wrote about you,

about continents, about the iridescent

shade that our eyes

take on when ship wakes wake us

On top that trench, that time is home

 

I’ve slept there dreaming of no filter

Parliaments and my smoke rings dazzling fish heads.

Don’t be

scared, be terrified— this poem isn’t

fantasy and our fires do burn out and

this time exists until it doesn’t

 

You’d rather not be here, a trench filled

to human infinity of inhumanity and microplastics.

The back of the double stitched thick sea forest? We must buy it before

someone else, become hoarders of the dead myths and bottle caps,

mold us into an empire for us to destroy ourselves

with, and create a time to forget.

 

Howie Good

Howie Good

Howie Good is the author most recently of Spooky Action at a Distance from Analog Submission Press. He co-edits the journals Unbroken and UnLost.

 

 

Awl Fwk Tup

I never saw or heard a gunshot. What I have seen is the aftermath. Dazed mothers, dead children cradled in their arms. There’s just barely enough space for everyone. I watch a man whose stubbly chin and shuffling, arthritic walk interest me. I am him. You have to be reasonable and understand the situation. Invaders disguised as saviors won’t leave us alone. The rubble and weeds stretching toward the river have a different meaning now. If you click on the link, it will take you there. Do it for love; if you do it for love, you can’t fuck up.

 

X’s for Eyes

1

Years ago we loved life so much, everything in the world, including the air. The moral should be obvious. It’s big enough to be seen among the cacophony of windows. I’m just wondering what comes next, if we’ll only be able to view nature in assigned locations. You’ll go and sit in a dark room, surrounded by strangers. When you scream, only half of the people will understand.

2

I fell asleep to the rat-tat-tat of rain and dreamed I could breathe underwater. The grieving came later, when we learned there could be such a thing as too much sunshine. Animal rescuers cut open a whale’s belly on the beach and found coins and plastic water bottles inside. Maybe it was a cry for help, but maybe not. People were saying it was only a matter of time before those little white birds returned to pick clean the teeth of crocodiles. Meanwhile, the rain would be represented by a succession of broken lines, and death by x’s for eyes.

3

You arrive with 100 gallons of red paint, and all these people are thinking, “Oh my God,” while you work out the next steps that need to be taken. It kind of gives you something to do with your sadness. You serve an idea that doesn’t belong to you. There’s no way you can just stop. You’ve got to keep accelerating. The invisible world is teetering between becoming and dying, and it can go in either direction at any moment. So the answer is “no” should anyone happen to ask if every ray of light comes back to us.

 

Sam Cooke Enters Heaven

You were surrounded by angels, balls of light, not quite as big as a volleyball, moving, breathing, shining, all different colors, and three of the angels – woop, woop, woop – came up to you, and one said in a small voice: “We’ll have fun every day. We’ll go on picnics in the hills and spend the whole night there. We’ll bring musicians and instruments with us, and dance all night, and no one will ask why you were killed.” It didn’t really matter. Starving deer were already wandering the streets in search of food, and the wind smelled like a bonfire. 

 

A Town Called Heartbreak

In the third week of the war, she heard a strange sound and stepped out onto the terrace of her house. She was killed instantly by a stray bullet. I haven’t slept too well since then. Opinion leaders keep shouting, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!” That’s a rather antiquated and narrow notion of conflict. A Molotov cocktail also poses a risk to the person who throws it. I think this is how I will end – disappearing in a blur. If you want reality, just go and stand there. You’ll see it. It’s there. Life is full of pictures we didn’t take.

Michael Henry

Michael Henry

Michael Henry is the co-founder and Executive Director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop, an independent literary center located in downtown Denver. My poetry and nonfiction have appeared in places such as 5280 Magazine, Georgetown Review, Threepenny Review, Pleiades, Copper Nickel, and The Writer, and I’ve published two books of poetry, No Stranger Than My Own and Active Gods.

 

 

GUN ON THE BEACH

 

 

Gun is on the sand, he is walking.

His steps sigh across the soft gold ribbon,

the sun is frying his back.

He squints into the day, newly born.

 

Gun’s mother used to say

each grain is a planet

with nations of people on it,

so many humans with their troubles and dreams.

How do you know, Gun would ask,

Gun’s mother would say I just know.

Yet how can Gun imagine

things like love or hate

if Gun doesn’t know for sure,

if he can’t touch it,

if he can’t blow a hole in it?

 

Gun is sitting now. He splays

his fingers into the warm sand,

sifts out a broken shell, a mashed cigarette butt.

Grains seep under his ragged nails.

 

Gun’s mother used to say don’t you pay them

whiners and floozies any attention,

you’re a good boy, you’re gonna be

something.

Gun remembers her smoky voice,

her mom-smile given up only

to him, the way she held him

when he woke from a bad dream.

He does a little morose kick,

sand splays a golden arc before

sizzling back into itself.

 

In the distance, a bronze boy

leaps from a rocky ledge

into the ocean.

Out to sea, two right whales

breach and crash, white spray.

Gulls circle and linger

over a busted-open garbage bag.

Gun wants someone

to come hold his hand.

 

GUN IN THE GARDEN

 

 

When Gun finally ransacked the Garden and cut

down the Tree of Life, the angels flew off.

 

Clouds came and the sun was a dim, vague light

somewhere in the sky. A week later the clouds

 

coursed off to the east and the sun returned.

The people gave up their fear. They said, You see?

 

Gun has done the right thing! And they took the Tree

for themselves. They milled the wood, made beams

 

for houses, signposts. From the best timber

they made a massive clock, finely carved gears,

 

center wheel, third wheel, escape wheel, pendulum.

It ticked hollow, the wood smooth and everlasting.

 

Thus they made time and it kept perfect. They grew old

and died, babies were born. Many years passed.

 

People forgot where it came from, who made it.

But Gun remembered. Gun never forgets.

Roberta Beach Jacobson

Roberta Beach Jacobson

Roberta Beach Jacobson (http://www.RobertaJacobson.com) is drawn to the magic of words – poetry, puzzles, song lyrics, stand-up comic humor. As a student of tanshi (short poems), she strives to include humor whenever possible. Besides poetry, she writes greeting cards, game clues and flash fiction … anything to avoid a day job.

 

 

swirling

sand

ignores borders

 

~~

 

salt water

I question

why I am here

 

~~

 

deep in the shadows

of the Aegean Sea

– jellyfish

 

~~

 

different cultures

same rainbows

 

~~

 

the only turtles here are plastic

 

 

Jacqueline Jules

Jacqueline Jules

Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Poetica, Beltway Poetry News, Cider Press Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers.  Visit www.jacquelinejules.com

 

 

Ser and Estar

 

With two forms of “to be”

I must pause and consider.

 

Short-term feeling

or unchangeable fact?

 

I am sad.

 

Today? Or always?

 

Soy implies

enduring state.

Unlike estoy, used

for a passing mood.

 

Am I sad? ¿Soy triste?

A person labeled by tears.

 

Or am I sad? Estoy triste.

Today. Not always.

Not forever.

 

Safe Conversations

by Jacqueline Jules

 

I swirl the white wine in my glass

and start with the weather—a brief topic

for a sunny October day. Fall colors, so lovely.

 

Weather exhausted, we move

to entertainment. Do you watch much TV?

Not tricky as long as I don’t name

my choice of late night talk show host,

revealing my politics.

 

That leaves family—

safe for most, but not for me.

 

How many children? How old?

 

“Two,” I could answer. “One in New York and one

under a bronze plaque in Birch Memorial Garden.”

 

But of course, I don’t tell this Janice I just met

about the son whose seed sleeps beneath the ground.

 

I gush about living grandchildren:

age 2 and age 4, adorable as can be.

 

Best to keep it breezy before parting

to take my glass across the room for a refill.

 

So I end with “What do you do?”

 

Watch her cheeks redden

as she mumbles “between jobs.”

 

Stare into my own glass. At least I’m not the only one

with answers I’d rather not share. 

Louie Land

Louie Land

Louie Land is a displaced East-coaster living in Moscow, Idaho. His work has previously appeared in FRiGG Magazine, the Santa Clara Review, Dog Pond, Unwound Magazine, and elsewhere. An active blues/jazz guitarist, his first album, Afterglow, was released on West of Everything Records in spring 2019.

The Bell Unrung

 

I.

Who is like me?

 

Is absence queer?

 

What privileges void erasure’s calculus?

 

Is bitterness at sex—straight or queer—violence?

 

If I am not with you, am I against you?

 

What does addition in LGBTQ+ conceal?

 

Can the excluded exclude?

 

Can I still listen to love songs?

 

Am I an asexual poet or a poet?

 

Who cares to know?

 

Is invisibility privilege?

 

How do you prove cowardice?

 

What unrings a bell?

 

II.

Q: Who else like me?

A: A wrought-iron bell quivering / with the grime of Atlantic saltwater

 

Q: What voids erasure?

A: The body needs shadow to prove / where it longs to be

 

Q: Is this bitterness at sex—straight or queer—violence?

A: A thing is beautiful / not because it lasts

 

Q: I am not with you; am I against you?

A: Like moisture beading / on a brass trumpet / transparent as molten silver

 

Q: How do the excluded exclude?

A: A circle inscribing / exterior and interior

 

Q: Will I still listen to love songs?

A: I’ve looked at love / from both sides now

 

Q: How do you prove a negative?

A: A circle’s inscription / implies a center / of gravity

 

Q: Am I an asexual poet or a poet?

A: Over seven years every cell / replaces the body like wooden / boards of the Ship of Theseus

 

Q: Who cares?

A: Like the sound of the bell / ringing the smell of fresh rain / on hot asphalt the wind that rends ancient oaks and drops / dirt from their roots

 

Q: What privileges invisibility?

A: A shadow requires / body and light

 

Q: What unrings a bell?

A: A promise to the wild / you will not / forget

 

III.

 

 

 

 

IV.

Promise the wild you will not forget

body and light,

dirt from the roots, a shadow

of toppled oaks dropping

fresh rain. The wind

rings the bell, bears the smell

of the ship of Theseus,

boards replacing themselves

every seven years like wooden cells,

silver moisture beading

on a brass trumpet’s interior

and exterior.

The wrong vinyl spins

a nickel in the jukebox,

a beautiful thing at last

with residue of the Atlantic,

wrought-iron gleaming.

Courtney LeBlanc

Courtney LeBlanc

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press), and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.

 

 

While Asleep

 

I

Ingredients litter the counter as my mother

bakes. I ask what she’s making

and she turns to me, shows me the bowl:

it’s filled with fingers and toes, all roughly

hacked off. I notice her hands, bloody

stumps where her digits once were.

I wake screaming.

 

II

His fingers and tongue are deep inside,

grinding into the wet of me. My hands

hold his head, my fingers clutching his

hair. I pull him up to my mouth, taste

myself. I wake, my body pulsing. I reach

down and make myself moan.

 

III

My father’s eyes are sewn shut, his body

still in the gleaming casket. I sit in the front

row, eyes swollen. My father sits up, his

unseeing eyes searching. He turns in my

direction, buries his hands into his own

abdomen and pull out his kidney, gray

and cyst-filled. He says nothing, his mouth

sewn shut but I don’t need his words. I wake

up, my healthy kidneys aching inside me.

 

IV

I hear the crack – thunder? A car backing

up? The room has no windows and the doors

have disappeared, absorbed into the walls.

A gunman appears, walking through

the wall, an unholy apparition. I open

my mouth just as he lifts the gun, pulls

the trigger. My heart screams in my chest

when I wake.

 

V

I’m lying in a field of flowers – they’re just

blurs of color and petal, the scent mimics

the vanilla perfume I bought in Paris,

the sweet muskiness I dabbed on my wrists,

behind my ears. when I wake the scent lingers.

Leslie Neusdadt

Leslie Nuestadt

Writer and visual artist Leslie Neustadt is a retired New York Assistant Attorney General and the author of Bearing Fruit: A Poetic Journey. Widely published, her work is illuminated by her Jewish upbringing and expresses her experiences as a woman, daughter, wife, mother, cancer patient and incest survivor. Visit www.LeslieNeustadt.com.

 

 

Erased

A father erases his daughter with a big eraser. Russel Edson

 

What if my father hadn’t erased me?

Who would I have been

without the scarlet “A” on my forehead?

My father erased his marks

like a plastic surgeon,

but I am branded in Braille.

He projected his needs

on my body like I was Lolita.

It took me years to grow into the role.

My perceptions dented like rusted tin,

I looked at myself through the distorted

mirror of his carney fun house.

He began early. Before I had words for it.

He erased my childhood

with insistent strokes

before I had breasts.

Stripped me one afternoon at Motel 6.

He erased me when he demanded

I practice my penmanship,

earn A’s at school,

obey his edicts as if

he deserved obeisance.

I became a good girl/bad girl,

purled into one. 

I am still on a quest

to fill the erased space.

 

Alan Parry

Alan Parry

Alan Parry is a poet, playwright and editor from Merseyside, England. He is an English Literature graduate and English teacher. Alan enjoys gritty realism, open ends, miniature schnauzers and 60s girl groups. He has previously had work published by Dream Noir, Streetcake Magazine, Black Bough Poems and others. He cites Alan Bennett, Jack Kerouac and James Joyce as inspiration. 

Night-Blooming Jasmine

 

i deposit my heartbreak

at the foot of the night-blooming jasmine –

watering her with

tears –

 

liberated

from yesterday’s proceedings –

 

i appreciate the

long, dry walk to my

rooms,

alone – but not lonely –

 

& i doth my

cap & smile at

three children

playing in

the shade of the alleyway –

whose faces i have never

seen before

 

i think,

last night, a pensive poet died

& this morning

a comfort set in

 

 

Recalibrate

 

when he succumbed,

there were mute tears & embraces –

she remained dignified –       

stoic –

 

after,

she was ruthless & fierce –

never sudden –

 

defying grief,

she hinted at contentment –

 

nothing

interrupted the steady flow of

damson jam, sloe gin & knitted jumpers

 

 

In Havana

 

in Havana

amidst ghosts of writers

stand battle-worn bronzes of revolutionaries

 

in Havana

locks of cigar smoke drift

from old men in white hats sat on wrought iron balconies

 

in Havana

honeyed air is punctured

by the lilt of jazz guitars & rhyme of purred verse

 

in Havana

elaborate archways

proudly painted in sun-bleached Caribbean pastels.

 

in Havana

people spill from coffee shops

drunk on pulsing beats & the wealth of history

Colleen Redman

Colleen Redman

COLLEEN REDMAN is a blogger (looseleafnotes.com) who writes and photographs for The Floyd Press newspaper. Her poetry has most recently been published in Artemis Journal, Floyd County Moonshine and The Front Porch Review. In 2018 she was a featured reader at the Little River Poetry Festival in Floyd, reading from her collection Packing a Suitcase for the Afterlife, published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. Her blog bio reads: “Whenever I don’t know what it is I’m doing and it borders on wasting my time, I call it research.”

Losing Poetry

 

It’s like falling asleep on the subway and missing my stop

Like the first day of kindergarten when my mother drives me to school

She forgets to tell me she’s going to leave me there

and leaves without saying goodbye

 

It’s the first day of kindergarten and everyone but me

knows how to write their name

I’m scared that Mr. MacGregor is going to catch Peter Rabbit

and I don’t know how to be quiet at rest time

 

It’s like I don’t want to finish the memoir I’m reading

because I think the author is going to die

and it’s not like when someone dies in a book of fiction

You cry but you know it’s not real

 

But the first time I watched someone die in a movie

after I was with my brother Danny when he died

I sobbed like it was real and was someone I knew

Russell Crowe as the Gladiator

 

It’s like being in Europe with the wrong kind of money

My plugs don’t fit into outlets

I have a car but the keys are locked in it

I don’t speak the language

and my cell phone is locked and won’t work

 

It’s like French class in elementary school

and there is no French translation for my name

So my teacher uses my middle name

I’m embarrassed to be called Ann

 

I’m embarrassed by my ugly red shoes

I scruff them up in the playground at recess

hoping they’ll get old fast

and my mother will have to buy me a new pair

 

It’s like nighttime and I’m home alone

I hear a mouse but don’t know where it is

I put out poison that kills the mouse

but it leaves a bad smell when it dies

 

I hope it’s a mouse

and not something bigger

It’s the first day of kindergarten and I learn to write my name

because somebody shows me how

She dies in the end as we all do

I cry for her children

Brett Stout

Brett Stout

Brett Stout is a 40-year-old writer and artist originally from Atlanta, GA. He is a high school dropout and former construction worker turned college graduate and paramedic. He writes now while mainly hung-over on white lined paper in a small cramped apartment in Myrtle Beach, SC. He has published several novels of prose and poetry including Lab Rat Manifesto, and has been featured in a vast range of various media including Brown University and the University of California.

“Dirt, I Miss You Dearly”

 

 

stop on,

 

the cautious dare of cadmium yellow

tinged fossils and

an angry sun

a father’s deceptive words

on worker’s comp

bring forth rust tinged

staples and nails

reverse osmosis shoulder the rocks

of despair and divorces

dirty coolers

and

dirtier gloves

stained discount motel room sheets

rented by

the week not the day

 

stop on,

 

gas station fueled stomachs and rage

you can make it out of here

I lie to myself

Lysol bodies

kill

99.9% of germs

but not herpes

hammers continuously lie and cheat

alone

while

red southern dirt crumbles

beneath black tires of exploitation

and weathered South Carolina hands

hardened steel crawl slowly towards

me

a dark afternoon sky

paint a flag

take a picture

you fucking tourist

 

stop on,

 

take a break

tie a classical noose

hang the helmet

from Nam’ to this

burn a tree in effigy

take a piss forgotten in the forest

stake the ground

the others

soon enough.

 

XXX

 

“A Porcelain God, My Dentist”

 

 

I don’t know,

2:48 a.m. and I still don’t know,

 

chattering teeth and cement

decreases over time

fire safety control

doesn’t burn down trailers

just my trachea

sell me discount cigarettes without talking to me

my couch is rotting

with food that I stole from Bi-Lo

I starred into the cameras and waved

I stole a buggy and hit your car with it

I wasn’t really sorry

because I was drunk

he slept in my car

my battery died and

I hated homeless people for a decade,

 

I don’t know,

2:49 a.m. and I still don’t know,

 

I made a mix tape

and put it in a drawer

my gums are bleeding

I poked them

with a stick

there are two blackheads in my ear

no one will squeeze them

for me

I cleaned my toilet

instead of socializing with strangers

everyone is a stranger

that is not me,

 

I don’t know,

2:50 a.m. and I still don’t know.

 

XXX

Michael Vander

Michael Vander

Michael Vander Does is a JazzPoet from Columbus, Ohio. He has been published here and there. Favorites include Croton Review, Negative Capability, Istanbul Literary Review, Carbon Culture Review, and Tryst. He performs trombone and poetry with The JazzPoetry Ensemble. They have released three CDs. The JPE performs with avant-garde jazz greats like Kidd Jordan, D.D. Jackson, and Hamiet Bluiett. Michael’s poetry is informed by this. He has received awards from the likes of the Ohio Arts Council and Puffin Foundation West. He is active in the community presenting and promoting modern poetry, avant-garde jazz, and civil rights. www.makejazznotwar.org

 

 

On Considering the Case of Melania Trump

 

I have an unlimited supply of tears.

Hydration allows heavy production.

Do not ask me

to use them lightly.

Empathy limits my sympathy.

I cannot give to every beggar

every cause

every injured and broken person

even sometimes you.

I give my tears freely.

I try to withhold my pain

even when you ask

even when you long

to feel my pain

next to yours.

You must earn my pain

you must listen to it

you must want it

more than you want my love

more than you want to lie with me

more than you want my signature

on your petition.

 

 

Flytown Nose Blues

(after Rahsaan Roland Kirk)

 

my lips must kiss you equally

but my tongue chooses

one

or two

or three

and my fingers run

carelessly

carefully

between you

flying out of Flytown

out of hastily constructed houses

out of my nose into the three-sided night

floating over the cap where Flytown was

 spreading Flytown Nose Blues like pixie dust

Flytown dust all over the world

 

same lips

kiss each reed the same

tongue seeks each differently

each caress unique

as the same breath flows