Sarah A. Etlinger

Sarah A. Etlinger

Rehearsal

The sky is smoky milk: it will rain later.
I’m thinking about the moon
and its tradition of memory
while we rehearse for evening,

for summer’s long dusks
when the grass hums in a green fermata
that stays as long as we want
and the air is filled with marbles
of birdsong,

rehearse for silence only summer
invites. Now we’re on the porch,
a piece of prairie grass in your teeth
draped lazily as your body over the steps.

Tonight the stars are heavy.
The sky bends under their weight.
We wait for rain, for tongues of wind
at the windows, stemming our wakefulness

 

 

 Sarah A. Etlinger is an English professor who resides in Milwaukee, WI, with her family. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she is author of two chapbooks (Never One for Promises, Kelsay Books 2018) and the forthcoming Little Human Things (Clare Songbirds). In addition to poetry, interests include cooking, baking, traveling, and learning to play the piano. Find her poetry at www.sarahetlinger.com and on Twitter at @drsaephd. 

Howie Good

Howie Good

Do-It-Yourself Destruction

People kept coming into my dead parents’ apartment to collect stuff. One took away some sort of boat. No one seemed to particularly care if cities were burning. A woman from down the hall started stroking my face. I asked her to stop. She wouldn’t. Her boyfriend was standing right next to her, but didn’t say anything, just watched. A week passed, maybe more. The news was unbearable. Gas grenades and rubber bullets. Chants of I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. First responders climbed the stairs two at a time despite the terrible weight of the unshed tears they were carrying.

 

 Hope Against Hope

 

I have seen this movie before,

I know how it ends, with troops in the streets,

and the charred bones of buildings,

so I turn from the ruthless images,

and, just as quietly as I can, lean

on the railing of the back deck

and wait for the gray fox to appear

from the dark tangled underbrush

into an evanescent strip of bright sunlight.

 

 

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Dion Loubser

Dion Loubser

 

 

Lighthouse

 

You know

when a big storm hits

The lighthouse actually shifts

I have measured it

The engineers tell me it is impossible

But not everything in this world

Is explained by science

I offered myself up once

When it was too much and

Even the beauty of the light

Could not hold me

As I tell you this I know

You will think me mad

Out here on this rock

With only the gulls to judge

I leapt into the jaws of the sea

But they put me back

Gently

I am the keeper of the light

They told me

There is a balance to this world

And I needed to keep the light

Shining

I told them about science

And they said yes they knew

But there were other things

Like spirit and faith and balance

And they were the keepers

Of those things

So here I stay

I keep this light shining

And turning

While I wait

For the next big storm

 

 

Dion Loubser is a thalassophile suffering from eleutheromania. Also a bibliophile, oenophile and some other big words. 

Drawn to impressionist imagery, magic realism and dystopian visions, his poetry and prose has been published by JungleJim magazine, ITCH literary journal and PenHead Press. His vivid dreams of flying have him hoping he was a vampire in a previous life, with a taste for fine pinot noir.

Paul Ilechko

Paul Ilechko

 

Preparing for War

 

Imagine a beach in Florida     the sun     blazing from above     with a slight hint of breeze from the ocean     a typical lazy day     but suddenly     everyone in sight is a soldier in uniform

every flag is black     every soldier is dreaming of war     of Vietnam     or the deserts of the Middle East     as the sand creeps into their boots     and infiltrates their socks

every surface is parched and golden     every face is burned and stoic     there is death in every mouth

their tongues are hanging     as they pant like dogs

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

there is no weather in Florida     there is merely heat     and the endless drumming of preparing for war

you can’t help but the think that the beach is symbolic of something

if you don’t look too closely     you might imagine that the only things left alive are the seabirds     that dash between the frothing spillage of the waves

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

a beach filled with soldiers is more like a church     than a parade ground

and you recite a prayer     as a mother falls to her knees in grief.

 

The End of Fruitfulness

 

There was fruit in the bowl      there was

fruit on the trees      fruit in so many colors

in red

and orange

and yellow

and purple

all of it waiting to be plucked

and peeled         and sucked dry

 

until the seeds could be spat out

spat into the dirt    where they might grow

and prosper

and create a new tree

 

with new fruit     for future tables

and future feasts of color…

 

but at that same instant      he discovered

that there was chocolate on his fingers

 

and so        he sucked them clean

 

and as he did so      the sugar

rushed      into every crevice of his brain

and the taste

exploded

across the surface of his tongue…

 

and then the fruit was left uneaten

 

and it rotted     into blackness and stink

and there were no more trees

and there was no more color

 

and the world had become a place

of suffocation and darkness.

 

Summer Blind

 

Sweat gathers            in crevices

 

as humidity wraps     in blanketed warmth

a liquid sheen that collects

 

until gravity twists

and pulls     a single drop

 

 

 

 

and then another        and another

 

and soon the stench is thickening

into the encompassing weight

 

 

we communicate by smell

 

we trade the depth of perfume     a lilac endeavor

a taste of peach

 

a flimsy discharge of swimming pool sounds

of silvery notes that ring the alarm

 

then fade

beneath the oppression of heat

Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, West Trade Review, Yes Poetry, Night Music Journal and Rock & Sling. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

Stephen Anderson

Stephen Anderson

 

The Swerve

 

Things just work out that way sometimes.

Jarring and jagged cut-you-up things

that spring up from the least expected places:

The sharp-toothed jackal that comes in the shadows

of the day to take away someone you love,

the disappointment by a friend who you had

so cherished before,

the dream shattered by a slight-minded person

in power unmoved by your light-source,

and then, and then the action taken by your

own hand that is self-or-other-betraying

in its blanket myopia, its perception far afield

from the bullseye of truth in the matter at hand.

 

All of this is ski-jawed freewill in the house of

destiny,

where we must do the high wire balancing act

above the bigtop circus and, lest we forget,

there is a world watching our every bob and weave,

a world that expects us to put on a good show

in spite of the shaky, thin wire we all must tread.

 

 

 

 

Stephen Anderson is a Milwaukee poet whose work has appeared in Southwest Review, Verse Wisconsin, Foundling Review, Twist In Time, Tipton Poetry Journal, New Purlieu Review, Free Verse as well as in numerous other print and online journals. Many of his poems have been featured on the Milwaukee NPR affiliate WUWM Lake Effect Program. Anderson is the author of  Montezuma Resurrected and Other Poems, The Silent Tango of Dreams, Navigating in the Sun, as well as two full length collections, In the Garden of Angels and Demons and The Dream Angel Plays The Cello. In the summer of 2013, six of his poems formed the text for a chamber music song cycle entitled The Privileged Secrets of the Arch performed by some musicians from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and an opera singer. Anderson’s work is being archived in the Stephen Anderson Collection in the Special Collections section of the Raynor Libraries at Marquette University.

Fatima Ijaz

Fatima Ijaz

SILENT SCREAM

 

When dissent like lightning enters the frail limbs of the night,

in the uproar of ferocious leonine howls

in the midnight turns of the heart –

that has finally prepared itself to laugh ceaselessly,

I sit by your side, loneliness, and conjure up the façade

Of moods and am of terrible minds. When I know

Certainly you won’t exit, the dream won’t come to pass,

Then I also know that you are the trespasser

the desert crows warned me about.

 

But still, I aspire into the solemn black hole of your empire

And seek out the significance of scattered lilacs.

There, alongside a paper-boat in a sun-drenched, stubborn

puddle, I list out the reasons of my absence.

 

I cater to the monsoon in a particular dark rhythm

I started playing truant along with the nursery rhyme

When the marches begin, I am plain visible as the scare-crow

Joker in a dealt hand of cards.

 

I crave the muscle fire of the working field

But nine swarthy cats cross my path:

In each life I am a broken idol,

Worshipped then forgotten.

 

Sometimes I sit by the fire and reminisce

But these times are golden like still paintings

Of sun-flowers. At times, I discern songs

In unfamiliar languages. I whisper to them:

It is to you I run to when silence overpowers me.

I am unable to step out of the lucid dream.

I am unable to count the stars on starry nights.

 

For Old Friends

We are walking on the asphalt ambiance of the road; there is nothing that holds us together, except the sun.

We several-turn and look at what is left behind. It is nothing but the rust of dreams and desire.

We run forward and our shadows dance in the wind.

When the rain comes, it drenches us to the bare, but our bones, they don’t interfere.

What you were then, is running past, what you are now.

We liken the maze to a free dive into oblivion, we make do with our regrets.

You can feel the night descend on cities broken with curfew, we are parallel in our sleep-ware. But we no longer care.

So it was that perplexed the blue-throated pigeon danced to wake us in the mornings. You didn’t waken. The engines of the day-time couldn’t rouse either.

We laughed at the way a citizen of nowhere now brought us flowers. In the times of love, you were distant like the waves on a terribly blue sea.

I gathered the ‘flowers of evil’ and sent them to prisoners, they hadn’t had enough to get by. But they were yours. So I apologize.

When we drink of the sun, let us be merry. For it is the same duality we have known for years. Your window is open, the lone canary sings.

I leave the whistle by the door. In its whistling parallel.

The poem refuses ink and I am thirsty for wintry double nights. Let us part ways again.

 

 

Fatima Ijaz, is a contributing editor at Pandemonium Journal. She graduated in English from York University and Eastern Michigan University and has taught English Composition and Speech Communication at IBA. She won first prize at the McLaughlin Poetry Contest in Toronto (2007). She participated in artistic collaborations, which were featured at Music Mela 2019, Art Baithak 2019, and Taseer Art Gallery 2020. Her poetry and prose has been published in New Asian Writing, Kitaab, Rigorous, Zau, Praxis, The Write Launch, Red Fez, Whirlwind and Naya Daur. She is currently collaborating with designer Sadaf Malaterre for an art project titled ‘Whimsical’.

Sandra Kolankiewicz

Sandra Kolankiewicz

 

Communique #10

 

Once a year there are              epic tides so low

along the jagged shore            line that cliffs and

stony bottoms are        exposed, touched by air

only during the            first full moon of spring

in a sea of mixed         semidiurnal

tides.  Each March we wait    for the ocean to

retract, pull from shore,           and provide us

with a kind of shell     fish none recognize,

which we pry from the            rocks until we fill

our buckets.  We peel              and eat them raw, steamed,

and smoked, harvesting          until the tide comes

back, part of our small            diet until the

summer is full.  By      now many of us

have broken, become              so detached from the

past we’ve forgotten               who we were, what we

once did, and why we                        ended where we are.

 

 

Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems have appeared widely, most recently in Galway Review, One, Otis Nebulae, Trampset, Concho River Review, London Magazine, New World Writing and Appalachian Heritage. Turning Inside Out was published by Black Lawrence.  Finishing Line has released The Way You Will Go and Lost in Transition. 

Mari-Carmen Marin

Mari-Carmen Marin

 

 

 

 

Consumed by Pain

 

These past days I have been thinking of death. The image

of the skull and crossbones has settled on my forehead

between my furrowed eyebrows, a window I don’t want

to open. Yet I stand before the tree of life, its thick and

thorny veins injecting energy through its dark green leaves.

 

I wonder how much longer I can endure this pain that ties

me to my bed with iron-made chains like the iron handrail

that impaled me through my pelvis on that bus ride years

ago. I wonder how much longer I can endure a life without

living, a life in this barren body of mine.

 

Perhaps death is the answer. Perhaps death will set me free.

 

 

 

Pensando en la Muerte (Thinking about Death), by Frida Kahlo, 1943.

My Mirror

 

A storm is blows up inside you.  Gusty

winds roar through your ears, while

monsoon rains flood in between your

bones and boiling blood, after lightning

bolts have struck your heart. Staying still,

you are paralyzed by the shock.

 

Sitting next to you on a bench in the park, I hold

your hands. Now, your winds, your rains,

your lightning strikes are also mine. From

your chest through my chest, then out,

a grey cloud departs our bodies, flies up

towards sullen skies, escorted by two tall

evergreens that ground us among the chaos.

 

Don’t’ you still know? Through your eyes, I see

my world; through your nose, you breathe my air.

through my mouth, I speak your words. Murky

waters can rise and scare us, but you’ll never drown

as long as I am with you riding out your storms.

 

 

Mari-Carmen Marin was born in Málaga, Spain, but moved to Houston, TX, in 2003, where she has found her second home. She is a professor of English at Lone Star College—Tomball, and enjoys dancing, drawing, reading, and writing poetry in her spare time. Writing poetry is her comfy chair in front of a fireplace on a stormy winter day.

 

Her work has appeared in several places, including, Wordriver Literary Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, Dash Literary Journal, Months to Years, The Awakening Review, Lucky Jefferson, San Fedele Press, Willowdown Books, The Comstock Review, The Green Light Literary Journal, and Mothers Always Write.

Milton P. Ehrich

Milton P. Ehrich

SILHOUETTES ON A WALL

 

During twilight hours

I walk around the park

and see silhouettes

on my handball wall

where I once played

with Father and friends

and see everyone I loved

who also loved me

voiceless without smiles

they send a silent message

as they come and go

in cameo appearances

standing stolid and still

before they disappear

and now all that remains

from where they stood

is an ebony black shadow

on the wall in the shape

of a lone arrow pointing.

 

 

THE END AT THE END OF THE ROAD

 

I stumble forward—trudging along until

I see my imagination-enriched view

of the end of the road.

But I see no Pearly Gates

or hand of God to greet me—

not even a Dead-End sign.

Just a pile of rocky rubble

With a graffity-scribbled question:

How have you managed to walk so far

with your head up your ass?

 

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 89-year-old psychologist and a veteran

of the Korean War. He has published poems in The Antigonish Review,

London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin

Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, and the New York

Times.

C.G. Nelson

C.G. Nelson

Insomnia

 

You lay in bed.

You were there,

Watching you clock creep

Closer to morning.

 

You reached out across

The bed, hoping

To grab onto something.

 

She is gone, of course.

She wasn’t there

To begin with.

 

It’s time to begin again.

 

As you watch the

Sun rise in your window,

You rise also.

 

And you are new again.

 

 

Together Again

 

He had a wooden fish–

more accurately a wooden puzzle.

He would sit on his bedroom floor and obsessively

put it back together again over and over and over over over

Again.

 

He would sit on the floor

and as he heard his parents fight,

he tore apart that wooden fish.

 

And when they couldn’t reconcile,

he tried to put in all back together

Again.

 

But that’s the funny thing with puzzles.

 

Sometimes you can have all the pieces

memorized, forwards and backwards.

 

Yet when it matters most you

can’t put it together again

for the life of you.

 

 

Persephone

 

On a cold slab, bare and nude

I awake in a room that doesn’t include

anything warm or soft–

 

no drop of sun, no splash of a candle.

Then I see her– draped in dripping silk,

her hair the color of devil’s milk.

 

“How long have I been in this room?”

I ask her, “Are lilacs still in bloom?”

 

“April has come and gone,” she said,

“Time has no meaning in the land of the dead.”

 

 

C.G. Nelson has been an avid reader of poetry since she was thirteen years old. Her first loves were Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe. C.G. Nelson is a new poet. She went to the University of Washington, where she graduated with a degree in English and Philosophy. Find her on Twitter @CGNelsonwrites.

Carol Lipszyc

Carol Lipszyc

Boy on Stoop

(from a photograph by Helen Levitt, 1940)

 

boy on cement stoop leans against bricks

of charcoal grey and mud brown

 

elbow perched on knee

face in profile exposed

in a flash of white

shadow of dirt on the nape of his neck

 

sullen resignation in the narrow reach

of his eye

in the dipped line of his jaw

in his monochrome mouth

 

son of the working poor

he will soon outgrow his britches

brace against the chasm

that looms across a remote sky

 

for the moment, huddled in the nook

of a street unnamed

(shot in a quizzical slant)

he may empty the pockets

of his oversize jacket, dust off the debris

and cull what remains

in the cupped palm of his hands

 

 

Trombone Man

(from a photograph, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Morris, by Lee Friedlander, 1958)

 

Mr. Morris, how firmly you pressed your lips

to sound the polished bell

 

cramped quarters, furniture stacked on high,

sheer curtain in floral print –

your wife appearing through the divide

her hands folded, sealing an oath between you

while you face the camera, unconcealed

skin lined and swelled with wear

 

sorrow spent in unflinching eyes

you hold your trombone easily, assuredly

 

sheen of silk satin on your jacket lapel

I watch you slide the trombone with your fingers, your thumb

here wider   there narrowing in:

the have and have-nots of a lifetime

 

more than the sturdy, sure-footed papa, trombone man

you rollicked and rolled in the tailgate style

of Kid Ory

filling pockets of rhythm as piano and horn sang

soaring over narrow corridors of black and white

as you posed for posterity

Carol Lipszyc’s book of short stories on children and adolescents in the Holocaust, The Saviour Shoes and Other Stories, (2014) and her book of poetry, Singing Me Home, (2010) were published by Inanna. Her edited anthology of eighty poems on the heart, The Heart Is Improvisational, was published by Guernica Editions (2017). Integrating chants and narrative for ESL Literacy students, she authored People Express for Oxford University Press. An arts-based educator with a doctorate in education, Carol has published scholarship in international journals and is a retired Associate Professor in the English Department at a SUNY upstate college. A chapbook of poems, In the Absence of Sons, is slated for 2020 publication by Kelsay Books. Her web site can be found at www.carollipszyc.com

 

Michael Goldman

Poets Name

 

 

It’s not going anywhere

and it’s too big 

to see all at once

 

so we examine one small area

or use a compass

or take a picture

 

anything

to make us feel better

about being small

 

but that doesn’t change

reality, it just changes

our little experience

 

which is also a kind

of reality, but not

the one I mean.

 

 

I want you

 

Let me do to you

what moths do

to cherry trees –

 

Love you

into oblivion.

 

Michael Favala Goldman (b.1966) is a poet, a jazz clarinetist and a widely-published translator of Danish literature. Over 140 of his translations and poems have appeared in literary journals. Among his fifteen translated books are The Water Farm Trilogy by Cecil Bødker, Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen (a Penguin Classic), and Something To Live Up To – Selected Poems of Benny Andersen. His first book of poetry, Who has time for this? was published in 2020. He lives in Northampton, MA, where he has been running bi-monthly poetry critique groups since 2018. www.hammerandhorn.net 

Kate LeDrew

Kate LeDrew

dear kate (december 31, 2018),

 

this year

go everywhere

do everything

especially if it’s free

don’t cover your face when you laugh

make eye contact with strangers

tell everyone you love you love them

tell everyone you can’t forgive you forgive them

store every piece of happiness you’ve ever had

in a box with no lid, 365 days worth, 730, 1095,

and don’t forget that pesky 1/4 it takes to get around the sun

trust me, I know you don’t think it matters now

it matters

 

 

 

when a man walks through a door and keeps walking

 

the spring tension modulated by hydraulic fluid

passes from one reservoir to another

and, because there is no hand to hold it open,

the spring pushes the door shut

hitting me as I’m trying to walk in

we both, the man and I, know,

without knowing the exact mechanics that go into it,

how a door works

so, I measure my reaction to a door shutting in my face

by whether the man has seen me or not

by whether the man knows

he has just allowed a door to shut on another person

or whether he has simply allowed a door to shut

these are the options I give myself when a door shuts in my face

but neither is true

allowing a door to close without looking behind you

is no different than pulling it shut

when you know how a door works

 

 

how to ruin a day by thinking it can’t go both ways

 

I don’t know whether to be mad or glad you think I’m capable of ruining an entire day

this little body of mine,

its volume 62,000 cubic centimeters give or take

able to destroy 86,400 seconds, 1440 minutes,

24 hours, one complete rotation of the earth on its axis, give or take,

that I could affect the moon’s gravity, its generation of a tidal force

controlling the world’s tides —

you think I can do this?

and that you would say this now, in the middle of a global pandemic —

and that’s another thing,

I do not refer to it as a global pandemic because I am unaware of what pandemic means

(from the greek pan — all — and demos — people — literally ‘all the people’)

I know ‘global’ or ‘worldwide’ is redundant

I am simply trying to capture the immensity of the thing

because pandemic, no matter how colossal a word

cannot not do justice to what is happening now to every-single-person-on-the-planet

and, if I could offer another word, pedantic — definition — you,

from the italian pedante, i.e. somebody nobody likes,

if you really think I have ruined your entire day,

and you pointing out this capability

has not changed or hampered my own day in any way

give me a moment

because I am a woman and you have no capability of understanding

the enormity of the bullshit I have had to put up with every-single-day-of-my-life

simply for being born

and maybe this is it, the day all old scores are settled, and you are the proxy

the man-shaped stand-in for every cruel, unfair, unwarranted slight this world has produced

so stick out that bottom lip a little further and wait

if this is all it takes to ruin a day

I can ruin an entire life without moving a muscle

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Arts.  She resides in Graham, NC with her cats Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.

Ron Smith

Ron Smith

The Ancrene Wisse

 

The introduction of a person’s hand

                              into your cell is a penetration.     

      You may not cross your legs, affect

                  a lisp, arch your eyebrows

with moistened fingers. You may own

            no glove. You must seek permission

                        to wear a belt made of hair or iron 

      or hedgehog skins. You may not flog yourself

                  with these things, nor may you

bloody yourself, nor sting yourself with nettles.

                  Do not strike the front of your body,

                              nor lacerate your flesh in any way.

            All tortures are treats to be rationed,

            permissible only with authorization.

 

 

[Author’s note: The Ancrene Wisse is a “Guide for Anchoresses.” This poem is

inspired by (and partly extracted from) Mary Wellesley’s “This place is a pryson,”

a review of the book Hermits & Anchorites in England, 1200-1550, ed. by E.A. Jones.

I found Wellesley’s review in The London Review of Books, 23 May 2019, pp. 3-6.]

 

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

 

On Translation

 

The gap

between word and world is

unbridgeable.

 

The gap

between word and word is

unbridgeable.

 

Go ahead, poet: Take the leap.

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Ron Smith, 616 Maple Ave., Richmond, VA 23226, U.S.A     Tele: (804) 380-5995      Email: smithjron@aol.com

 

What Walks on Four Legs

in the Morning, Reclines

on Two Elbows at Evening,

and Snores Away the Next Day?

 

            Two men with bouncing

pole bending with double-handed wine, 

      two hands each for the rod,

            two shoulders (total) chafing,

      dry tongues yearning to lift the cups

their masters will drain,

                        and they, if only in

            imagination, will siphon off

      a fair share of (quiet) frenzy, nothing

Dionysus would begrudge them, as

                  two friends become one

(in oblivion) empty vessel of smiling sleep. 

 

 

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Discuss: How Is Tonight’s Symposium

Like Homer’s Iliad?

 

            Rage? We feel no Achillean rage 

as we recline here amid swarming

      witticisms, sipping (gulping?) 

                  our host’s excellent wine. So far

      Calistos remains somewhat sober,

and none of us have smashed any crockery,

                        not even Herodion,

            our customary breaker of painted horses. 

 

 [NOTE: The poems on this page were commissioned by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for a

  reading accompanying the exhibition “The Horse in Ancient Greek Art,” February 2018]

 

Poets biography

Erica Bernheim

Erica Bernheim

Amplexus 1980: Sunshine Skyway Bridge

 

 

Kermit, how you have misled me

with your human clothing and gentle

manners. For you, every body of water

can become a quaint fishing village

 

at dusk or dawn. Into fog and towards

accidents, I followed your lead. I

plummeted, all the while believing

invitation made up three tenths of the law.

 

Like a Kansas City disaster, but over

water and causing a different mourning.

A bike assembled from parts is called

a basket case. There are still men so

 

afraid they will not board trains or cross

bridges unless they can hide in trunks

or window-less toilets. Kermit, your

trenchcoats gave you away. You slammed

 

a vacuum cleaner through the walls of

your doublewide in the name of hard

work. You left early for this commute.

Your phone sounded different when it rang,

 

like people were piled on top of it, but no

one was home. It was a big, ferocious bluff.

Cement. The Zoloft bouncer at Club

Depression. A memo you never wanted to get.

 

 

 

[At the consulate, the workers are only hired short-]

 

 

 

At the consulate, the workers are only hired short-

term, so as to prevent them taking bribes to do favors:

 

In Florida, we are re-defining film noir: the traveling

electric chair, the barbeque pit, the streams of all these

 

different dead people we once were: babies, teenagers,

something always propelling repellent motion. For us

 

to live, the hosts must die. It’s better to burn blueberries

afterwards than to re-harvest their pasts. It’s like making

 

a feast and dying before you have to clean up.

I’ll see you at the liquor store and raise you ten points.

Erica Bernheim currently teaches English at Florida Southern College, where she also

directs the creative writing program and the visiting writers series.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, The Kenyon

Review, New Reader Magazine, DIAGRAM and The Missouri Review.

Hunter Gagnon

Hunter Gagnon

Quarantine poem #78 fisherman in the virus hours

 

Shot off on the shiny iron of it

all I wanted was to sit at the bar with

my brother

and talk about the end, but

Dragged off in the trench of it

The trough of grey water

The white light everywhere

from salt mist

How it broke him up

the sun which is God

which is my brother

how it broke him apart and spread him out

Little fish fly up like worms tossed

by earthquakes

Fort Bragg CA will be a dead town but I

scud its ocean now

Pulled through the side alleys

of locked doors, the froth of it the trash

man waving

with a neon hand

I am in the boat, I am unstable, they say

we are all in the boat, or in

different boats, but in all sayings

there is a storm

I know of storms how they cut the golden light

into pillars

that stride along the edge

This can’t be sustained

These images of beauty against the cars that don’t

stop

against the rent

My brother against the rent

Against the white bed

Which is God

Against the tube that searches the throat

Which is God and God’s Hand

holding us to the earth, but I

am in a boat

There is no earth in the fish fog here

Only the cliffs like a dark animal

And the harbor

made by dynamite

made to catch us

Some years ago.

Quarantine poem #150 this truth of the dark blue road

 

As the virus + landlords

took Fort Bragg, I

found my dad

on a green hill

in New Hampshire

my friend in York

on a gravel trail

in a bottle of red

and my brother

in a bottle of red

saw the adversary god

in the face of a striped cat

on a stone wall

then a branch

wolf pine

did not find myself

could not breathe

through my nose

as it was

in the primordial carseat

sniffling

and the stickwars

a mouthbreather freak

I had to listen

yellow toys and spiked weeds

and yellow and white flowers

and a windy marsh

love falls

on my head

with its sheets of fear

fear killed me in the porch lands

and the kids of paradise

fear and the barn light

circled by hay

my mom drinking and crying

my dad drinking and crying

an orange light like the pinched sun

I am in berwick again

my brother shows me the leaves

of the beech tree

that fill the decay with soft light

the small ones

the ones that can be taken

the ones we eat

Quarrantine poem #151 screaming in the parking lot stones, by some trumpeting chasm

 

put the gun away and your bird

with its wide yellow eye

 

put down the necklaces and ropes

of your latest meal, bread

 

from Hannaford, put down your

tiny biting dandelion dog

 

remove these loud voids, metal

tubes that stuff your heart

 

surgery is coming, will you be

the surgeon? or patient?

 

the skin to be fixed? with black

marker, gas strapped on

 

put back the gold and the food

release it to the deep nests

 

of the violated dead

 

Hunter Gagnon lives in North Berwick, Maine. He has worked as a State Park Seasonal Aide, a bookseller, and as a poetry teacher for elementary schools (before the pandemic). He holds a degree in Philosophy and has served in AmeriCorps and FemaCorps. He is a winner of the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference 2019 Poetry Contest. His work has appeared in 7×7, Joyland, A) Glimpse) Of), Cabildo Quarterly and elsewhere.

Pamela Corbett

Pamela Corbett

Like A Line in the Sand

        

         The seam between 

         this life and the next

         is tenuous, threadbare.

 

          I know, for I was there—                                                                                               

          hovering, dangling 

          between the two.

 

         Hurting, pleading,

         firm hands 

         pulled me back.

 

        Another shore beckoned,

        promising

        sacred banquets.

 

       I lay there torn, thinking—

       if I don’t move, it ends.

       Still— I let fate decide.

 

 

 

Could Be

 

 

     It is late May

     daylight lingers

 

     minutes unravel—

     days grow long.

 

     Skies stretch in

     a thousand tones 

 

     of tawny 

     tangerine.

 

     When Mary’s

     child draws 

 

     the sun descends

     over the sea,

 

     another day

     is done.

 

Walls of Time

 

Is there anything outside

the walls of time?

A place where the past

unfolds over again? 

Does it skip the present, 

add ripples to infinity?

 

Is the future is born

out of vast uncertainty?

Or maybe there’s a loop,

where memories replay, 

like a hiccup in time.

Subtle memories linger,

with visions of long ago,

yet oddly they remain 

forever the same,

like a lone mockingbird

knocking at your door.

 

Pamela A. Corbett is a writer and teacher who lives with her family in Bedford, NY. She loves gardening and biking along the horse farms, reservoirs, and  beaches on Fire Island. Her work has appeared in Dissident Voice, Haiku Journal, Boston Literary Magazine, The Journal of Classical Poets, and Prelude Magazine.

J. Adams Lagana

J. Adams Lagana

Regarding Matthew

 

He bore our family traits,

stubbornness, and eyes as blue

as the Atlantic in September. I thought

we were a loving bunch,

but we were angry instead. 

 

Spare me your half-hearted compliments,

he once shouted towards his tight-lipped

God-fearing mother, who was always drenched in black sweaters

with kleenex-stuffed sleeves, who never offered quite the right comforts.

I thought

we were a loving bunch,

but we were angry instead.

 

Don’t you see me?, he cried in utter frustration

towards a father, who never appeared

when promised.  (My cousin lived

too many brooding, solitary days.)  I liked

the wispy tattooed love who spouted

humor and tried to point him

toward life’s sunnier side, (then broke

his heart for someone more spectacular). To them,

he shouted, Spare me your half-hearted

complements, his voice bursting like luminescent fireworks

floating over darkening waters.                                                                     

 

Not long after, he ditched the pills, ignored his therapist,

gave in to those brooding, solitary ways,

walked into a rush

of cracked mussel shells and tide

until the ocean

overtook him.

 

I thought

we were a loving bunch

     but we were angry instead. 

 

He was found along the beach and eventually.

 

He once told me all compliments

are meaningless.         That they’re half-hearted, empty. Jesus,

please, he said, spare me.

 

 

                   

          

How Anxiety Interferes

 

First, it urges you

to rip up every photo of the dead

so that you are really done with them.

It argues that desire and memory

are a waste of time. It plays with your breathing, nags you

to bury the kitchen table, to start throwing pieces

of silverware into the Delaware once the Snow Moon

rises. It demands you make an offering

for every moment that didn’t turn into

what you had hoped. Later, it becomes about fear.

Of death, or bad decisions, of losing your teeth, your breath.

Of forgoing your sense of direction.

 

In this moment. the rattle of street gravel kicking up,

the rumble of the garbage truck working its way

up the street, the heat kicking in, the radio, too loud, the day,

wide open. Go drive with the windows down

over the toll bridge. Listen for the chiming

of river water moving

through ice.

 

Worry won’t let you see

that everything moves forward.

 

But it does.

 

Like geese flying somberly

through cold night in a sky

that is gradually brightening.

Ghosts

 

We think we see you

in passing, the man by the pond,

the driver in the fast lane, the gentleman

moving past us at the grocery store.

We search everywhere

for signs, are sure the blackbirds resting

on the water tower when we walk by,

and that four-wheel jeep driving

an unusually empty road are messages

from you. That song again, twice

on the radio, the one

I would never think

could make me cry. In this house

trapped breezes count for something. A rush,

cool and caught, after the screen door snaps shut

signals another storm. The pines are frantic

thrashing the roof, readying for another struggle

weighted in part by the dead

branches left behind

from last winter’s fury.

 

Another trapped breeze,

passes through the kitchen,

ignores the dishes,

settles near the hallway. We maybe give

slight pause, our chatter and laughter

not to be confused

with even mild cheer.

J. Adams Lagana’s poetry has appeared in Atlanta Review, the Ekphrastic Review, Naugatuck River Review, the Paterson Literary Review, and others.  She is the co-editor of River Heron Review and lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (USA) with her family.

Tammy Stone Takahashi

Tammy Stone Takahashi

1.

This is you and i
looking up at the moon
contemplating our smallness

This is the moon
contemplating nothing
reserving her beauty for us

This is the space between
where holy words are fraught

with their unmaking.

 

 

2.

 

When we remove the word,
what remains? The word is love.
I walk on the forest floor

that will snake up a mountain
on steps made of stone,
the peak ascending as we go.

The sun, too,
flickers in and out
from among tall cedar treetops,

glinting now and then,
blinding as she does.
Becoming blinded, as I do.

My heart begins to race.
Go slow, I tell myself.
I know where love is not.

I stumble, my mind takes me
to all the places I’ve failed,
to all the things I have believed

I cannot do. Love is not
there either. I didn’t know
how much I had been trying

to find it, in how many places.

How much I’d been trying to

formulate it,  give it a name.

 

Then I bring it home. I breathe.

All I have to do is realize I’ve
exhausted all other options.

I stop running from myself.
And there she is. Love
to guide me.

 

Tammy Stone Takahashi (Tammy T. Stone) is a Canadian writer and poet. Her short stories have been published in orion headless, Broken City Magazine, Dairy River, Grace Notes Magazine and SNReview. She has been a featured writer and columnist for elephant journal and The Tattooed Buddha, writing about wellness and the arts. Her poetry (as Tammy Takahashi) has been widely published (most recently in The Sunlight Press) and anthologized, and her first poetry collection, Formation: Along the Ganges and Back Again, was published in 2015. Her second collection, Little Poems for Big Seasons, was released in 2016, and a third, Land, was published in 2018. She has also served as co-editor on two anthologies of spiritual poetry by women writers, including Poetry as a Spiritual Practice: Illuminating the Awakened Woman (2017). Her newest collection is called 100 Days of Peace and Hope (2020).

Jenny Santellano

Jenny Santellano

 

heroine

 

he has

his claws

in you

again

ripping

through your skin

attempting

to access your core

 

faith in nothing

no logic

no sanity—

a blend of pale

promises

and powerless

points of view

 

stay

with me

on those visceral nights

no escape

no neverland—

just flames

and

ashes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

forget about it

 

it’s not your fault you rather swoon in darkness

than drown in the aftermath of a shooting star

it’s not your fault you heart was shattered

and your brain can’t glue the shards

it’s not your fault you’re an incurable, unstable genius

it’s not your fault you rather pet a rock

than appease another human

it’s not your fault that regardless you are kind and caring

it’s not your fault you live in a world

full of hat-wearing haters

 

 

Jenny Santellano is a poet who lives in Chicago with her husband and two children. Her poems have been published in various e-zines and journals, including The Scarlet Leaf Review, Tuck Magazine, Midnight Lane Boutique, Dead Snakes, The Beatnik Cowboy, Duane’s PoeTree, Veil: Journal of Darker Musings, and The Literary Hatchet.