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Untitled Document

Issue 67



Two Poems
by Ross Henry Law


Young


That day
we tried
to cuddle you
that was all
we wanted
was to cuddle you
but you slinked away
to your room


not strange about affection
before
you were not like that
never cautious
about hugging
your family.


It was so green
in your room
on the night
your big PC monitor
in the corner
left on
illuminating the motes
in your room
and your sleeping sound
came so regular
when we checked on you


mom kissing first
your cheek
and I rubbing your shoulder
then us
smiling
at one another
what a good child
we had.


The morning came
with arcs of light
balancing through
the bannisters
as I crept
comically to the top
of the stairs
a forest villain
to wake you


but there
in your room
you weren't to be woken.
We did not realise
the medieval swords
you liked
mounting on your walls
were sharp enough
for exsanguination.


Pit stop


The smile she has on
sat at the bar
is empty and docile
between soaked eyes
long died
in despair.
The men
here wait
fidgeting
till
anything arrives
for
ridicule
or
arousal.


Felt-tipped
paper signs
mark the toilets
and the worn woman
announces
with coquettish glee
and awful giggle
that she already
spent
all her pay.


This the sort
of woman
this the theme
at the final pit-stop
before the town club
a looming
debauched
torture chamber
they all want to go inside.


Ross Henry Law is a British writer who writes poetry to solve problems, disentangle emotions, and dispel what's scary.


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Two Poems
by Gabriela Natalia Valencia


the glassblower


i like moving/ it makes me feel real/ it makes me feel aflame/ those are different things/ but both mean more than rubbing skin
from my forehead/ i am more than a person/ whose fingers light up in the dark/ i am more looking at your body for the first time/
and wow/ and how do you exist this way/ i mean how do you exist/ and what do you do/ when you do not feel real/ i am
having a hard time/ believing it/ myself


advice for doing with that book you don’t know what to do with


how about an ornament/ how about a weight/ how about reading it/ how about making a bird of it/ how about not going on/
referring to it as it/ how about love/ honey/ how about honey/ how about introducing honey to morning with/ good morning/
to Jupiter/ good Jupiter/ about bending honey’s spine like yours/ about making her your New Year’s resolution/ making her your
helium balloon/ about if you’re ever in the car together/ asking how far she wants the windows down/ hoping she likes this
road/ driving past the woods/ like a hometown/ confessing all the way/ how much it all is/ to after all this time/ forget the way
back


Gabriela Natalia Valencia occupies a space in this universe the exact size of her body. It is the shape of a tiny planet. Or a large ant. This, more than anything else, makes her unique. No one occupying this space (but her) reaches up to scratch her nose. No one occupying this space (but her) winces as she recognizes your ant body across the room. She wants you to know her space has been well. How has your space been?


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Three Poems
by BD Harrington


There are Wolves in your Valley


There are wolves in your valley
wan specimens of broken sleep
and silvery farawayness,
spelling shadows of whispered dread
on the moon-maced snow,
where ancient treetops quiver
at the outer edges of disbelief


There are wolves in your valley
vectoring their graceless hunger
into tight circles of annihilation
that no birthing can erase.
Where the startled blood of prey
flies frozen in a permanent arc;
silent, transfigured, inviolate


There are wolves in your valley
fashioned from impossibility
where old things become new
and new things swiftly die
where the remnants of forgotten men,
like lesions of ice-blue light,
float high above the ridge


Tonight We all Go Home Alone


All the loved-up pricks
scratching away at the rank night air
slurping deep from cherry sin
their eyes anthologies of barroom lights
with tiny flecks of dull praise


These snarl-ups of raffish pride
these intersections of singing blood
with their plain and mutilated words
that turn clockhands to migraines
and clothe my neck in thunder


The hollow-eyed debutantes
riding the red wind of their secret pain
their pale arms heavy with omens
transmitting promissory sighs
from the depths of carbonised time


As here, under the cold light
of this dying filament,
with a blade of longing at my throat
I perfect my plans


Impasse


handcuffs dangling under
the sink
in the bathroom down the hall


all our unborn children
I hear them
scratching in the walls


I’ve been seeking a body lately


but a body of water,
not you. Bleeding


milk, bleeding time


I’m an upright-walking-spider
pausing outside your door


breathing
like one half-cured
and half-destroyed


and from every room
every drawer
every fold of tired skin
not the sound of glass shattering
but the sound of shattered glass


BD Harrington was born in Toronto and is a graduate of the Creative Writing program of Concordia University, in Montreal. His is also a musician and filmmaker and presently lives in London, UK., with his Sicilian wife.


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Three Poems
by Brandon Lipkowski


2-13


Boxes filled
with old magazines:
Vogue
American Muscle
Playboy
Men’s Health
and the garage is filled with
cobwebs
from the parties that it used to
entertain, but now
there are only stacks
of boxes
of old magazines.


The attic sits
under three inches
of dead skin and allergens
crushed by the weight
of pool toys
Christmas figurines
a broken lamp
a fishing pole
that has never touched
water.


Coffee is dripping
out of the filter
in the kitchen
watched by a dirty
cat ready to die
and a woman on
over-the-counter
medications for her
anxiety
depression
insomnia
hair loss
and the cat chokes
nearly to death, but
revives next to the
ball of hair
he has left on the floor.


Clocks all give a different
time.
The air conditioning
will go out
a week from today.


In the backyard, there is
a dog bone
for a dog that does not live
in that house
or on that street
or in that town.


Husband pulls into the
driveway
slams door
crashes through
and expects dinner
on a clean plate
in a well-lit room
with no conversation at all.


Perfection hatches out of the
hairball on the floor
and bolts to the door.
It is blocked by wife,
who collapses and stops
beating altogether.


4-7


In the fridge there is
creamer and juice,
milk.
No ice,
no food.


On the walls there
are no pictures,
no windows,
only doors
and more rooms.


I am there, too.


Though, i am out
of view of the
people who,
by choice or no,
are kept there to
not die,


but not live.


Smiles and socks
that look like
gingerbread.
I laugh,
but i know my friend
would be dead if
she could be,


yes,
i would be, too.


A three day process
of creamer and juice
but no knives,
no hair dryers,
no space to see an hour
pass by without
interruption from
the guards who are
guarding, or
from the vitality
reports,


Time is omitted
and all of the doors
are closed.


The socks look
like gingerbread,
except hers are blue,
and mine go to
my knees.


In the elevator
there is a man who says
nothing
and on the way out
there are two girls
who mean
nothing,
and talk about how nice
it must be
inside the walls.


My feet are kept warm
under wool as i drag
myself back to the car,


where i’m free once again.


4-37


Baking concrete,
but you and i
weak and white,
frail as whispers.
What if we
are not heard?


What is around
us,
if there is no
wind and no shade
and no voices
that cross through
our mouths?
What are we
saying to ourselves?


I might have held
you,
might have known
you or known
about you
or known about
a part of you,
and i might have
noticed just
how many freckles
were melting
in that winded
sun, on that
baking concrete.


We are incomplete
you said
and i say that maybe
we are,
or maybe we are like
the stars,
already dead to
those who can see us.


And if we are not
like stars then i
may only
be burning
because of you.


You,
weak and white,
standing,
looking out to the
dark sky pointing out
all of the death and
silence.


We are not dead,
you and i,
we cannot be.


And of all the things
that i have seen
i remember seeing
how you looked to me
as though i knew
the answer,
and i,
very quietly,
wished that we could
melt away completely.


Brandon Lipkowski attends community college in the south suburbs of Chicago. While pursuing an English degree, he also enjoys fishing, horror movies, hot sauce, and writing music. Brandon has a strong fondness of spiders and hopes to be able to curl his mustache by March of 2016.


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Four Poems
by Kate LaDew


according to the door frame next to the refrigerator


the one with the little dents and grooves
from your father's midnight snacks
you were four-feet three inches tall
the coroner told us four-five, the answer to
a sudden question I still don't know why I asked
and I am angry, every time, when I count those two missing lines
thinking these little numbers
these little pencil strokes are what will finally make my heart burst
once and for all and forever


miscarry


I'm never going in this room again
so I center the image in my mind
blink my eyes and take a picture
develop it by touch, fingers moving in the dark
cover the dead eyes of stuffed animals
take down the crib, put the letters that spell out your name in a box
slowly dismantle and give away all my hopes and dreams for a person who no longer exists.


you look far away


past all the things you wanted
and never got
stacked like Christmas
when all that’s left is the hoping
you were somehow cheated
but good enough to deserve it


once


when I put my arm out for support,
it's like a knife under the ribs
I can see it turn in you without my help,
grazing the heart, little drops of blood spreading inside,
reminding you through their drip drop you were so young once.
now I speak to you in sentences a child can understand,
voice raised, sugary sweet, my hands constantly around you,
waiting for you to fail, and you were so young once, you were so young.
and a long, long time ago I was only something at the edge of your vision,
when there wasn't a thing stopping all you ever wanted.


Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art. In other words, she starves.


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Three Poems
by Riley Morris


The Intangible


Is that why I have these sudden urges to peel
skin from your cheekbones and sew a scarf?
A scarf to cradle goosebumps on my neck
every time words spill from your blue lips, like
wine down the drain of a relapse.


Teeth gnaw on the clasp of a necklace, like claws
digging deep through the velvet cushion,
accidentally scraping hairs near my spine.
Interstellar freckles and white shooting stars paint
my body’s canvas. The sheets are as tattered as the
vessels of you, dispersed through town
beneath spiderwebs and grey rosebushes.


Shaken graves released your corpse, and I never
did thank them. Stitched limbs and blue lips.
Such a thing appearing: beauty from the underworld.


A plastic heart melting into real organs. I take a saw
to the bleached bones inside of me,
yearning to amputate each section you have grazed
and gazed upon. Kiss me anyway.


I kicked the moon last night, hoping
to stub my toe on a crater to replace the pain you stirred.
Now remains me and my fingers, twiddling
a bride’s bouquet of invention.


But the thing is you were right
I’m sitting here, a broken toy:
the doll’s arm is tarnished again.
You always did know me better.


A Cut in Circulation


Last night you handed me glass to swallow,
shards to choke on and I did.
I choked.
Blood immersed my lungs,
flooding my kidneys, my bladder, my colon,
brimming the muscular tendrils near my nerves.
Slivers knife the tissue enclosing
a once-pounding-for-you heart.
The soul I sold to you, for
you, is polluted beyond preservation.
It’s the extinct organ in my body;
a hearth of life no longer there.


You yell at me for something I cannot help;
force me to ignore believes where I must deny.
I understand you see no room to budge.
I accept that it’s hard to grasp.
But if you call for me, I’ll run run run to you,
and I can’t help that I love you:
the way you coerce my body to throb
and pump blood through and through
though sometimes you clot it.


You lips, magnetic, lure me near,
forcing an opening to suffocate
me as spidery limbs finger my being
leaving traces of your web to tangle
me whole.


You’re my stonefish gliding
towards exposed skin, preparing
attacks of neurotoxins.
As ashamed am I
that only you are the antidote, too.
Even in great blue waves swallowing me
like I once did glass,
in the end,
I still sleep in your sweatshirt.


It


The couple next to me continues to argue in breaths;
I passed two squirrels, roadkill, on the way here.
A waitress admired my necklaces, asking if it was one
or two. I smiled, looking down at my turtle. Two.
God, can I be with him forever please?
though I know it is out of my hands, too full of iced coffee.
Saturday afternoons with wrinkled smiles and fake hips
reading newspapers (I’ll hand you the cartoons)
and discussing grandchildren with coffee and
sandwiches lingering on our breath.
We’ll reiterate words from our past, melting
glowing lipstick stains that color your heart red.


Grandmother warned me to keep my home away from
a person’s arms. But it smells like brewed coffee
grounds and warm scones in here, and all I can think
about is the beat of your heart beneath my ear and your
grasp, the strength of a lion’s jaw.


Riley Morris bio coming soon!


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Two Poems
by JJ McCullough


The Plunge


Your eyes were blue.


The color of a chilly chlorine-laced
public pool on the first day of summer
the exact moment the tips of my toes dipped,
broke the surface, invigorated nerve endings
that hadn’t been exposed all year.


My heart was high.


The equivalent of a diving board’s altitude
to my once 7-year old self, terrified of heights,
on the last day of swimming lessons
when I was supposed to climb to the peak,
then prove I could jump and not drown.


Our love was deep.


It rested on the cement bottom, below
the blue, waited for the tips of my toes to touch,
push up, propel myself topside, perform a perfect
breaststroke, then lift myself over the edge,
to drip with glorious grandeur, to win the gold,
the key to the mint, to your heart, except –


I couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe,
couldn’t connect conscious thought to action,
couldn’t uncurl the tips of my toes, unfurl fists
clenched, conflicted adrenal glands demanding fight,
flight, or fall; unable to muster enough gumption to force
myself forward one step, fear-frozen, bargained with God – get me down!
then begged for one bold gust of wind in the right direction to thrust me in, ready or not.


My heart cannot remember wanting anything less.
Or more.


Kissing Bandit


First, uninspired Ashley,
a C-cup cheerleader who left
love notes in her boyfriend’s locker –
while I slipped him tongue
in the chemistry lab.
Then, long-legged Meghan,
a small town socialite
who put out after Friday night games –
while I stroked his ego
without touching first base.
And frail, fragile Jasmine,
a bashful girl-next-door
who slathered on cold-sore Carmex –
while I massaged Dr. Pepper
Lipsmackers into his.


I strutted the halls my senior year
in skin-tight jeans, flashed my
black-lined eyes toward the cute
sophomore with new license.
I locked lips with Brooke’s
boyfriend and brother the same
day; lost count of the makeout
sessions in the empty concessions
stand behind the football field.
No one was surprised when I showed
up to prom alone and sauntered in,
scarlet-clad, then blew kisses
at Candice and Courtney as they hissed
Wanna-be Slut.


I wanted for nothing.


JJ McCullough is a native of East Tennessee though she did a 2 year stint in gorgeous Philadelphia for her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Rosemont College. She currently resides in Asheville, NC - also known as the coolest little town in the US. She began writing poetry at age 14 and has been pursuing a career in the field ever since, wishing one day to teach poetry to students/writers of ALL ages. She draws inspiration for her poetry from Kim Addonizio, Megan Falley, and Mary Karr. She is an avid fan of The Walking Dead, adores 80's hair bands, and proudly proclaims her longstanding love for Nascar.


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Three Poems
by William Savinar


Desert


They say they were pounding on your door but your door´s made of cornhusks but your door´s made of soap but your door´s made of exhaust pipes. They say they´ve never been around there before but can smell the shelled cartridges for miles. They say they´ve recorded it all inside trombones inside flasks with too much pewter rubbing off on our bellies. They say do you admit it you say yes and let´s get the whole thing over with so we can get back to our families I mean so they can get back to their families I mean don´t admit it you had nothing to do with it they know. I mean, just settle up just say some of this some of that and we´re good. They don´t know. They didn´t ask they´re just waiting for those fucking heathens to turn themselves in.


The Rule of the Law


The rule of the law is to let the first geranium grow.
The word of the law is to water it
even though there may only be milk around.
The rule of the law is to yield upwards
(towards the sky).
The word of the law is to slip silently horizontally
(drunk).
The rule of the law is to create neanderthals.
The word of the law is creature with vices stitched inside each pocket.
Rule first law flash.
Word second ditch towards unceremonious bronze.
Rule alkaline batteries.
Word in the sweaty palm of your hand.
Iron.
Love is a diversion.
Love as life giving.
Love as a riddle.
Rule of thirds.
Word of mouth.
Cinema vs.
hardship.
Words that kick up a cloud of dust
using the turn out for a scenic view.
Young people smoking smoking in these cars.
Old people die.
Young people die too.
Revolutionary acts.
Revolting liberties.
Indecency on a powertrip to subvert.
There are mangers around Christmas time.
Rule. Bethlehem.
Word. Baby Jesus.
And in all the flashes during
dreams
could never be safe to say that doom will not
let you alone and the iron sky
(only now its black)
can give running
falling down stairs when your ankles snap
words crushed under the feeling memories tossed
into the void like pits of fruit.
Law. Don´t litter and the parts
come crashing down again.


On a Hill Under Stars


I wake up on a hill with fire snatchers surrounding the moss.
The hill is sunken into the sea
and the sea is overlooking a pit of chicken´s feet.
The chicken´s feet have been snapped from the root
and the root is a flaring of fox tongues strewn
together with a thread through flaring nostrils.
One of em
Two of em
Six pairs of em.
Side by side on the moss I sit out and
call the stars right there hook snatchers.
´Throw a rope down!´ But I don´t want
to climb right now I lie on my
bag at my head full of flint and
don´t think one human thought at all.


Take em for a ride you can have em.


William Savinar spends most of his time walking around Mexico City and throwing horseshoes at hotel room walls.


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Circle
by Graham Akhurst


A kookaburra cackles
I hang washing
Old cloth
Dirt still stuck in its fibers
I draw a circle in the dirt with my toe
Slowing time
To stretch the flesh where a mosquito has landed
I watch it struggle
It drinks too much
And explodes on my brown skin


Graham Akhurst is an Aboriginal writer hailing from the Kokomini of Northern Queensland. He has been published several times in Australia for poetry and short fiction. He is currently completing his writing honours at the University of Queensland, and has ambitions to continue his studies and write his first novel.


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Three Poems
by David Flynn


Memory


Love is not love that does not remember.
Can you take love for a vine,
a slender, brittle cord that maintains us both?
Better is the love we have, the tree
that lives a hundred years.


Women in stores tell you how beautiful you are.
In a room, a painting of chaotic things, you
are the joy, the moving center that makes
the chaos one. You glow. You coalesce


all in the room, like a planet draws objects to it.
Gravity is love, and you draw me to you. I can't resist.


A tree, a planet: you are a 27-year-old woman
with long red hair that tumbles, blue eyes that change
from dark to light, red lips, and the whitest, most porcelain
of skin. My hand touches your shoulder


and stirs milk. You haunt old boyfriends, a physical ghost, and
you haunt me. In the dark of the bedroom, you are supernatural.


I remember you even when we are standing side by side,
holding hands, smiling, looking into each other's eyes
as only lovers, logic lost, control cancelled, do. Mystics say
be nothing and god will come to you. I say be nothing


and love will come. There she is. Tired from a day's work,
pouring hot water into a cup of tea, needing to be held,
to be kissed, to have her hair stroked. There she is. She looks up.
I remember. I forget. I kiss her, all I want of memory.


You Teach the Sugar How to Be Sweet


Honey, you teach the sugar how to be sweet.
You look at me, and I flavor the tea.
I touch your skin, and we are ready to eat.


Honey, you make the wine alcoholic.
You make my head spin, and I stumble to the bedroom.
I touch your skin, and we drink, you red me white.


I would starve without you. I would lick the ground.
I would be a pile of bones buried with my tools.
Honey, you teach the baby how to breathe.


I am so tired.


There, I've lost half the readers.
For those remaining, hold on a second.


The invisible are happy, so go in peace.
But you won't. You'll be at war by sunset.
You'll be sucking in the world
and all its trees, gravel, and toys
by the time you click Home.


Now, my brothers and sisters of the tear,
we know life is pain, and ends in death.
We want to make the most of health.
We know there are vast amounts of hide
that is not us,
and that, in fact, a collider of existence could not confirm us.


I love you.
Love is all that attracts.
Not the rape-sex of TV and movies,
selfish sucking in of people,
but the love that says we are all garbage,
even the ones who have $2,000 haircuts
and carry $10,000 handbags.
Let us enjoy sleep, and waking to a single delicious room.


Ignore the invisible, until they enter with a gun.


David Flynn was born in the textile mill company town of Bemis, TN. His jobs have included newspaper reporter, magazine editor and university teacher. He has five degrees and is both a Fulbright Senior Scholar and a Fulbright Senior Specialist currently on the roster. His literary publications total more than one hundred and seventy. David Flynn’s writing blog, where he posts a new story and poem every month, is at http://writing-flynn.blogspot.com/ . His web site is at http://www.davidflynnbooks.com.


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Frida
by Stephen James


Lying on my back
eyes open in the dark
thinking of Frida

lying on my back
eyes open in the dark
and a soft voice echoes round the room

“I drank to drown my sorrows
But now the damned things have learned to swim”


A voice like caramel
but bristling
bristling with something.


“I drank to drown my sorrows
but now the damned things have learned to swim”


Lying on my back
eyes open, in what used to be the dark
the walls dissolve around me


And then I am her and she is me
lying on my back
no longer in the dark
projecting my mind onto the canvasses above me
the ceiling, the walls,
the canvas.
and reflected amongst it all
is a face
there will never be a face quite like it
I am Frida.


“I drank to drown my sorrows
but now the damned things have learned to swim”


And then she is her and I am me
lying on my back
once again in the dark
the canvas retracts into my skull
colours unmix and fade to black
and that face that was amongst it all
there has not since been a face quite like it
she is Frida

Lying on her back
eyes open in the dark

lying on her back
projecting her mind onto the canvasses above her
beautiful images
bristling with colour
and reflected amongst it all
is her face
pained yet peaceful
there will never be a face quite like it.

and just because
“I drank to drown my sorrows
but now the damned things learned to swim”
doesn’t make me Frida
I project my mind on canvasses
positioned upright and in front of me
I mix colours but they’re still black
and even if reflected amongst it all
was a face
then there’s plenty faces like it.
not like Frida

“I drank to drown my sorrows
but now the damned things have learned to swim”

but I drink to float my sorrows
just another vice
Not like Frida
who didn’t have a choice
keeping herself alive
and bristling
with beauty.


I am lying on my back
eyes open in the dark
thinking of Frida.


Stephen James is a self-published writer from Manchester, UK. (He also has a blog: www.folknwords.tumblr.com)


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Two Poems
by Tina Lear


New(s) Headlines


Gang Chivalry on the Rise


Father Throws Son “Out!”
Party


Woman’s Body Found
Striding Down Street in
Cool, Comfortable Shoes


Seventh Graders Cited for Excessive
Kindness


Online Sting Operation Exposes
Plot to Feed Homeless.


Nobody Knows


Her fingers drum on the steering wheel during a red light.
A trembling chaos of precision and subtlety underneath.
I’m at the Blue Note. Or at Casa Del Jazz in Rome.
I’m in a Subaru. This is going on right next to me and nobody knows.


I am listening with my body to the percussion
of her hands, flutterthumping. She is oblivious
to how this thrills me. I sit in the passenger seat
and open my legs a little to the sound of it.


It used to piss me off how great she is. What was she doing here,
driving her mother to CVS, cleaning her toilet? Why wasn’t she touring
in Tokyo, grabbing a bite with Joni Mitchell's side men,
checking with her tour manager about where they go after Paris?


There are a thousand answers. There are no answers.
But when I sit across the table from her, or we’re stuck in traffic,
the rhythms electrify her fingers like children spilling
through the doors at recess, full on and ferocious.


The beat bumps break dance into the dashboard and up my thighs,
and I let the conversation coast, hold my breath, my ears recording,
hoping nothing breaks the spell and frightens her feral fingers away.
It's a gift from her and only her, for me and only me.


And nobody knows. Not even her.


Tina Lear bio coming soon.


Three Poems
by Cameron Woods


Poem written at 4:37 in the morning, in winter coat, in bed


Here, you are just your brain. Your brain
is a utility knife. Where you come from is narrow
and you were built to slice yourself out. Here


you made it: slim and ruthless and always falling into bed
with people who know you will hurt them. Here
you are capable of hurting anyone. Here


there are no faulty synapses. No broken wires between want and hold,
no empty clutch in the night, feeling up your wall
like it's a stranger at a party who called you pretty. Here


nobody wants you to be pretty. They just want you to do it clean
and wordless. So it's alright that he never said your name,
that his breath smelled like settling. Here, those are just facts


and his body is just another place, like your house
is just another place, and you are all edge and no soft
there is nothing in you flesh enough for breaking.


Here, you are sensible.
You understand the equation.
You change the blade.


12.21


At 7:24 pm
the sales guy at the phone store smiles, hands me a form
says to fill in the information from the police report
and phone insurance will send me a new phone in the mail!
I say I’m not interested in finding out
how fucking long it takes insurance people to mail things
four days before Christmas
and the security guard at the phone store is looking at me funny
probably because I’m saying ‘fuck’ a lot, but softly, almost politely.
I choose a new phone and pay for it there
and the sales guy says he’s sorry this happened to me
and every step home sounds like it:
Happened to. Happened to. Happened to.


at 5:15pm
the gun is pointed at my chest
and I am shivering through my bag for my wallet.
I never realized that looking into a gun
feels a little like looking into an eye, in that you can see
all the way down
to what could do you in if you don't play your cards right
I hand over my cash and my phone,
he runs towards the lake
and all my previous definitions of ‘alone’
lace up their shoes and go with him.


it is 5:27
and the cops keep asking what he looked like,
what he was wearing
I keep saying it was a hoodie or a black coat
because every time I say ‘hoodie’
I choke on my own skin


I want to tell them not to look for him,
that I’m worried how many him’s without guns
they’ll find in the meantime,
and I’m certain the net pain of me actually reporting this
is greater than if I had just walked home and said nothing


but it is 5:17
and the dive bar down the street is the closest place with people
and the feeling in my feet is flickering from normal to numb
and the bartender calls the cops
and is handing me the phone
and I am silently apologizing to all the people looking at me funny in the bar

it is 12:05am
I can’t sleep, so I dig out an old course book on trauma
even though I’m pretty sure this doesn't actually count
there was no blood, no bruises, no death
just my lumpy basic body
and that stupid gun


but I have been shaking for hours now
and hid the new phone so I won’t call anybody for help
but I can’t quit crying long enough for my eyes to close
and I need some footnoted source
to tell me this is normal.


at 1:39
I wake up worried that the gun was fake
and I was too dumb to know the difference


at 2:47
I am burrowed into the wall next to my bed
wishing it was a person


at 4:02
I get up and splash water on my face
glance in the mirror
at this naive, paunchy old lady
stupid enough to be walking alone to the grocery in the dark
lonely enough for it to be on a Saturday.
She didn’t even say a word,
just handed it all over.


I wake up the next morning, December 21st,
the shortest day of the year,
the day with the most darkness.
All I know to do
is spend all of it alone.


When the Thin Woman Wears the Same Color Sweater as Me


It shimmers golden:
desert sun
brassy
blazing across her chest
while I
am a foul yellow
jaundiced
an apple slice let sit too long.


I laugh
pretend our bodies
aren’t something like
the moon and the sun:
spoken in the same breath
but one is big
and the other is beautiful
(you think they don’t know that?)


On the way home
I stop at the lake
peel off the sweater
and burn it
in one of those bonfire pits.
Stand close enough
the sparks
bite the bare skin of my hips
like all the men
who loved them
but never me.


Cameron Woods began writing things as a kid, when she would stay up late and write stories in her bedroom closet on top of all the shoes. She tagged along with a friend to a poetry slam after moving to Chicago and has been lucky enough to read from some of Chicago’s best slam and open mic stages ever since, including: the Green Mill’s infamous Uptown Poetry Slam, Lethal Poetry’s ‘Words that Kill,’ and the Gala. Recent features include “In One Ear” at the Heartland Cafe, Caffeinated Confessions, and the Glenwood Arts Festival. She was featured on the “Poet at the End of the World” podcast and is the author of a chapbook called "Dearie.” By day, Cam works as a sustainability consultant and has perfected the art of changing from business clothes to poet clothes in the office bathroom. She enjoys running, pineapple, and dresses with pockets.


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Tishkoch
by Sy Roth


Threads appear in an unraveling broadcloth.
The being warps and woofs its way through time
inflicting opportune wounds on them lest they forget.


Here and there a playful dance
joyous romp binds them to the thread .
They cavort to the festival of their own creation.


They dance to the long memories
lost in a dance, a hora-tune of diminution.
It embraces them in a deluge of talmudic dissertations,
dips them like sweet apples and honey
in the blood of the martyrs, to a spirit
or bathes them in the bitter herbs of tendentious existence.


He cast them to the vast, dark stygian waters
the wonder of vexation
as they trundle on in their death march following the white-robed molochs
who guide them to the turgid waters of Acheron.


They should run—
run along with the murky sirocco winds that swirl around them
that whisper sweet nothings in their air—
acceptance,
accept,
accede,
acquire your own repentance.


They bleat out the plaintive words of memory—
tishkoch yemeni—
stockpile a mountain of words
thrown into the the hungry void with their homage to the spirit of one .


They top the tank of their own hungry void
with sibiliant, silent, camel-ridden prayers.
Follow the shifting trade winds to the hills and valleys of their own destruction.
May their right hands wither if they forget.
They cannot.


Sy Roth is given to simpleminded meanderings that some have deemed noteworthy of publishing in a wide variety of online literary venues. He seeks to find some understanding in the maelstrom of misunderstanding that the world has provided for his ingestion. He spits out lines that he hopes bring clarification to some souls who trip upon them.


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Four Poems
by David McLintock


I Am I Am I Am


The radio switched on at every wavelength, the TV too:
I eat my famine with the new releases,
Pig-out on executions with a chat-show,
Praise an athlete while a boy’s leg’s chopped,
Ruminate God with politicians
Who could not tell a poinsettia from a pillow,
Laugh earnestly with intellectuals
Who’d rather watch soap operas than read Milton.
I learn so much I have no need to know,
See and hear so much I have no right to,
And learn so much I’m better off forgetting.


This is a custom, a wonder of the age I dabble in,
A sliced, contained, controlled omniscience,
A reflection of myself, if I dared look,
As gluttonous, dumb Creator.


Like any man, I am not entirely immune
To my own gorgeousness - somewhere,
Somewhere I have a feeling for it: I believe,
Have some faith, however depressed I feel.
How can I not?- I am in touch with everything.
I only touch a button - it is there,
A naked village in a distant jungle,
A car-crash victim medically saved,
A trapeze artist at her zenith - I am there,
I can see it, I can know it - the words of it are mine,
The names, the technicalities. I see it close-up.


How can I dare believe I’m not a God?
If he is not me, he must be blind, he must be deaf.
He must be, in every way, senseless.
This must be his necessary condition, if he is not me.


I am fat with gobbling the diaries of celebrities.
I am obese as a quiz-show - I do not digest encyclopaedias,
I only snack on them, though I do it often.
I cannot move sometimes - my knowledge is great,
A fact, an anecdote, a name, a date of birth,
I am hunkered down with it, I cannot burn it off.
I cannot stomach much of what I am aware of -
I force it down, but straight back up it comes.
There is so much suffering, yet it comes so quickly,
Unexpectedly, things happen long ago
Yet only now, now I’m too fat, am I fed the facts
And cannot keep them down. I have just stood up
For something else I did not know till now:
I am weak and heavy, and can’t stand up for more.


Knowing everything cannot be the thing.


Danger Not My Pal


Danger not a man I’ve hung
Much with though making up
I’ve been in often hand with him
And won and been admired,
But rather if I’m honest
The doing of a thing to get
Close has never much appealed.
Action fell off me
Years back as an unavailing
Method of advantage;
Since I’ve stood where I am
And wondered a
Different play.
Not that I’m ashamed of being dumb -
It’s just that even after saying
Such a thing
I feel I ought to say it once again
Just to prove the point
Of being honest – not that no-one
Has not walked away.


It had come to the time they made love ...


It had come to the time
they made love
without a thought in their heads,
just two wrinkled tummies
slapping timelessly in the dark.


It was no surprise
when she left.
The surprise
was how upset he became
because of it.


Targets


The target is off-centre,
Not me. I don’t hit it
Though, because its imperfection
Excuses me from practise.


Actually, in aiming,
The eyes are not important.
The feeling that the mark strongly needs
To be hit is the crucial determinate.


How many arrows does it take
To drop a bison? The question
Is unnecessary – it’s the painting
In the cave that makes the killing.


When two men meet, one will always
Leave a stronger impression on
The other than vice versa –
That man will be the weaker of the two.


While we live, we only have
One decision to make –
Finding what it is, our lives
Become of no interest.


Forget the target, dismiss the target,
See the sweat on your fingertip,
The frail wisp of hair slightly out of place.
See nothing but yourself, now: then fire.


David McLintock has just arrived in Liverpool and does not have a photograph because he does not have a camera because he dropped his camera going 'Wow!' at someone who walked in front of what he was going to take a picture of just at the moment he was perching in the parapet to get the perfect picture. He was invented, it is documented, by his parents, neither of who, to his everlasting detriment, were scientists, acrobats, shamen, fisticuffers, or committed committee members. He is currently working between 3 computers on 3 different platforms and all 3 fading fast trying to get his poems out into the world.


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Two Poems
by Rehan Qayoom


Ophiuchos


I’ve noticed, the closer you get to the real thing in any bout of writing, the more formidable are the perverse interruptions, the deflections, tempting diversions and sheer obstacular incidents. The Alchemists were so familiar with it, they gave it a name – Ophiucos i.e. the Great Snake (no less!) - Ted Hughes. Letter to William Scammell. 2nd October 1993. Letters of Ted Hughes. Selected & Edited by Christopher Reid. (Faber & Faber, 2007). 648, 649.


The heart is husbanded with your deeply serious moon-bedrizzled eyes
A mysterious dead-bright-diamond tear-crush
‘Shaken in a dice cup and held up to me’
Wine-lipped, it talks but does not talk
It shares its grief with an innocence clean and pure as dead babies a
Thousand lineaments and taut strings
All late coming to the courts of God


Girl, you do not question the life
‘out of living’
You do not question an embrace
You hold it hot, feel all the shipshape heart fill up into it
You feel it heave with blood-throbs


It survives
On shoots, leaves, air, guilt
Curses and verses –
As for me myself!
I dribble with poetry
As black as does not trigger-rush a happy smile-child
With a healing saliva because it cannot


I am stuck in a rut, cockle, mucous-eating membrane
I am daft with the drug that sizzles in a girl
My art is being driven to the brim of a precipice and taught not to jump
An Aunt Sally to frigid stoners
Comical, curlicue-like mokomoki
“He is not to be allowed to sleep” he hears the pick-a-pockets yelp
“He is not to be allowed to weep
(Or keep)
For that would mean another life
And he mustn’t be allowed to have that
You see, he is not to be allowed to live
Except in disguise, of course
He is not to be allowed to rise
He is not to be allowed to give” he hears them beg
“Or receive
He just won’t be gone”


Like That? On on on
The the blood gush
It is all good
So not the devil but the devil disguised as the devil disguised
And trying hard
To be content to be just that

O gape, enunciate, hawk up gobfuls


For H


Years of research and a line of verse
The paper detritus is left behind
My pipe is full of butt-ends from the grate
Fit them all in anywhere


How much do you want of me? How much can you take?
What do I have to do to win your emotions, or am I beyond redemption?
אם אין אני לי, מי לי; וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני; ואם לא עכשיו, אימת*


This city fell a long time ago
Taken (not by impercipiently asking octogenarians)
By Blairian barbarians
Search now in vain for her lime green bowers
Try to convince yourself they do not know
Try not to cough in case it notices


This city is too big for you
Its current crop is rotten to the core
Its streets are being cleared of the remains
So then why this constant need for companionship?
I cannot say
But if you had stuck out your thumb, yes
You would have stopped any of the 3 trains to Paris that have just passed you by


Hold my hand
"Where are we going?"
I do not know whether to bask in the delight of these magic circles you form so much
Or the inclement weatherful trees or you
And yes, that also explains the twitch
He wants you to hold his hands too
My élan vital, timeless, true
Precambrian remembrancer, alphabetic osmosis


Come gentle sleep to wile my woes away
Severely swaying, saying


"Where are you staying?"
"I'm coming over
" and the rest of it
I do not seek my image in the mist of eternal burning


* 'If not me, who? If not now, when?' Rabbi Hillel. Pirkei Avot 1.


Rehan Qayoom is a poet of English and Urdu, editor, translator and archivist, educated at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has featured in numerous literary publications and performed his work internationally. He has published 2 books of poetry and several works of prose. http://www.rehanqayoom.weebly.com


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Three Poems
by John Grey


The Model


She stepped out of a stretch limo
in roses and Paris perfumes,
birds humming in her golden locks,
breeze blowing sherbet
through the air's frenzied awe.


We looked and saw six movies stars,
a rock goddess, maybe Helen of Troy
and the characters that drive men mad
in three different novels.
The trees bowed down.
Hotel shutters clapped.
Windows couldn't get enough faces.


Her eyes...
light sped around buildings
just to get there.
Her lips...
every thought older than child's toys
was a stolen kiss.


She tapped high heels across the sidewalk
whose bad-luck cracks threw up their hands,
anointed the lucky silver circle of her shoes.
The doorman mutated into a door,
wide open, but she slipped
into the revolving entry
and its better offer
of chandeliers and bellhops,
front desks and rooms
with eider pillows and silken sheets.


When she was gone,
we dusted off our breath
and ran toward the park.
We were all of eleven,
still sneered at girls
but knew exactly
where they were headed.


Man of Sand


He doesn't move
as waves slap his thighs,
a crab scales the back of his head
and gulls trot by without fear.


If he was a man,
he'd be a self-styled Buddha
mediating his way to enlightenment,


But he's made of sand,
skillfully crafted by unknown hands
but still lifeless.


Eventually,
the tide will wash him away.
His very existence will depend
on the few who saw and remember.


If Buddha wrote this,
it would contain the kernel
of some greater, eternal truth.

But great, eternal truths
are everywhere and mind-numbing.
I take the ephemeral where I can.


When It's Just The Two


every time I glance her way
the woman at the far end of the bar is staring at me


then I look in the mirror behind the bar-tender's swaying head,
his busy hands -
how hard up do you have to be to want this, I tell myself
as fifty years of living glares back at me -
heavy eyes, scarred cheek., twisted lip -
are you crazy lady!


and look at her, mid-thirties, slim,
made-up, close-cropped auburn hair -
she could have anyone in this place she wants


but it's one a.m. and I'm the only one -
maybe she just craves a warm body for the night
and if I'm what desperation looks like,
then so be it


she even smiles at me
and, judging by my pathetic reflection,
that's not something I would do


and she inches closes
to where I'm sipping on my fifth beer


what if she's insane -
take your pills, lady!
not me!


she could be a whore of course -
but do I look like I've got the money?


no, it all comes down to loneliness –


she's in her best late-night worm dangling
but no one's biting-
I'm in that drinking-liver-don't-do-me-no-​favors
why-should-I-give-a-shit-about​-it mood


"hi" she says


I don't think I know the word


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and the Coe Review.


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M.I.A.
by Laith El-zubaidi


My Dad is a Real Man. Taught me what a Real Man is.
From the day I was born, He raised me as a new recruit.
Up at dawn, soon as His whistle sounded. Stayed in line or got grounded.


He could lock horns with a bull, let grown men tremble in their boots duly.
When I told other kids my Dad was stronger than their dads,
It was actually true. On the battlefield, the stars danced for Him to see,
Even with the stuttering bullets evacuating their mags,
The wailing shells- wave after wave- beating the sea,
And the anxious voices of grenades too.
When I was little, He fed, bathed and clothed me.
As Real Men do.


And even though the winter night howled its objection, a storm brew
When His mother died he didn’t shed a tear,
And I asked is that what Real Men do?


I wanted to be just like you dad,
But I’m forgetting who you are.
My mother is afraid he’s going A.W.O.L,
Bit by bit, an affair with
Emptiness, flirting with no one,
Right in front of her
At first it was harmless, forgetting his keys once in a while,
But it got worse despite what he said, joking that he
“Can’t remember the last time he forgot something!”
Not realising he had told that joke every day for the past week.
I thought he could be 52 and still lay the enemy flat.
This was his brain’s nature. Exploring the nature of his brain I saw
his memories camouflaged, blending in with the tissue walls,
Brain signals cocked, but can’t fire across the Synapse trenches
Regiments of rotting brain cell corpses burning in a funeral pyre halfway across,
No Real Man’s land.
his mind lied in the synapse between dead and alive.
Death without dying.
his mind kept getting farther and farther, ‘til he was no longer a father,
I fed, bathed and clothed him,
he died at 58,
But was only buried at 72.

No one will remember his memories
Alone at his grave stone, I try to say something out loud to him,


But I can’t because Real Men don’t talk to no one.


Laith El-zubaidi bio coming soon!


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Two Poems
by Kate Foley


The Paramedic and Her Past


If I could go back to age sixteen
when I put a razor to my wrist,
I’d say,


you’re old enough to know
how bad the world is
but too young to give up.


I’d say,


two years from now, you’re going to swallow
twenty four sleeping pills and lose control
of your body in the emergency room.


They’ll put you in an ambulance
like a gift in Santa’s sled.
You’ll turn to the paramedic and say
how you wish you were dead.
She’ll tell you about when she turned fourteen
and her father extinguished
a birthday candle on her thigh.
She’ll tell you about the day a boy
ran his fingers through her hair
like she was silk
but he pulled back like she was a horse
with reigns.


She’ll tell you not to worry
about this deep depression
because things do fade,
people do change,
and life gets a little easier
when you stop believing your fate is made.


She’ll pull up her fleece sweater and show you the only scar that stayed.


Today


I did nothing at all.


And I swear that’s preferable
to sweating over glassine bags
and waiting for phone calls
and begging for someone to pick up
so I can pick up.


I’d rather sit and stare at walls
than be back peddling Queens
seeing if I dropped any powder.
Stuck in Afghanistan sand,
I revolved around lines
that felt better than poetry.


My calendar was coloured in chaos.
I made myself a map
highlighting my dealers’ sleeping patterns
and what time the trains left latest.
I was lost and I liked it.


I’ve got a punch card at pawn shops
and my face printed
on liquor store cash registers.
But I’ve turned down the volume
and just because I’m quieter
doesn’t mean my life’s not loud anymore.


Today, I’m facing boredom - looking down
a tunnel of light as if it’s the barrel of a gun.
But I am a soldier and I will shoot down
everyone that tells me
I am the victim.


Give me a movie playing low in the background.
Give me noontime naps.
Give me juice not mixed with alcohol.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done is doing nothing.


Please give me hope that this nothing is something.


Kate Foley is a young Canadian-American poet based out of Pennsylvania. She has been featured in Voicemail Poems, Words Dance, Yellow Chair Review, Germ Magazine, and more. She is passionate about dogs, spoken word, helping others, and kissing. Her next project is a chapbook about Amy Winehouse. You can find more of her work at Facebook.​com/katefoleywriting.​


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Three Poems
by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois


Farms


It was in 1891 that the Russians ordered us off our land
the story told differently by different family members
Either it was that Jews could no longer own rural land and
had to move to the city
or it was that they were illegally leasing some of the land to Christians
in other words, exploiting the labor of Christians
so we lost the house known as “the Krockmalnik Mansion,”
a joke made in Yiddish
and the small acreage near the town of Falashti
(which may or may not exist anymore)
in northern Moldova
on the other side of the Ukraine
where Putin of Russia
flogs the imperialist dream


So that was the point at which we stopped being farmers
and became city dwellers
in the capitol, Kishenev, sometimes written Chisenau
on maps
My cousin Arcady and his parents were the last Krockmalniks to leave
there
It had to do with his avoiding being conscripted in the army
which was a common theme in our family—
we were draft dodgers, a noble occupation
and one that informed my activities
during the Viet Nam War
Really, we were too smart and had too great a sense of self-preservation
to be fodder
in military campaigns that would never benefit us in any way
and which merely perpetuated the long history of human warfare


That was the point at which intellectualism entered the family’s repertoire
so that eighty years later I was living in a tiny, bare room
in the University district of an American city
contemplating
with some angst and torment
the meaning of the universe
which I never came close to figuring out
though I impressed the hell out of my Philosophy T.A.
who spoke with a thick Kentucky accent and chain smoked
in the large, high-ceilinged room where we met
to mull over hopeless abstractions


Meanwhile my wife’s family was farming in Germany
then in Michigan
with its almost unbelievably brutal winters
They persevered
with the primitive implements and methods of their time
They worked hard
and didn’t think anything of it—
human life was about working hard
What other option was there?


I joined them there on that Michigan homestead
in the farmhouse that my wife’s great-grandfather had built with his own hands
and with the help of other family members
a house whose cellar leaked for a hundred years
and whose lower floor needed frequent propping up
I was down in the cellar with adjustable metal poles
and a big wrench
and I felt like I was doing something significant


Here was the thing—
I had transferred my ancestors’ aborted agricultural dreams to this plot of land
in Michigan
where my wife’s Lutheran and Evangelical family fully accepted me
though I was a Jew
accepted me more than some of my own relatives
who literally cursed me for marrying a non-Jew


I was lucky
Had I married a Jew
I’m sure that we would have transmitted genetic diseases
to our offspring
but diversifying our gene pool gave us sons who were hearty and strong
more Germanic than Jewish
for which I was grateful


When greedy power company executives
aided by the county commission
and stupid, large landowners
rammed through a “wind farm” in our township
60 turbines five hundred feet tall
closer to our homes than was supposed to be allowable
despite the informed arguments township residents provided,
my wife began having turbine symptoms
Hers were mostly tinnitus and dizziness,
though there were many constellations in
the universe of turbine syndrome


My wife is sensitive
I’m not
but eventually I had to admit
that I was affected too


Our closest neighbors complained that even their horses were suffering symptoms
We weren’t surprised—
in the research we had done
in making our case against the “wind farm”
we had come across several documented cases in which farm animals were affected
for example, cows whose milk production diminished


My wife and I sold the farm
including the farmhouse, the barn and all the outbuildings
and we sadly left Michigan


I was, ironically, even sadder than my wife
because our Michigan farm had become a replacement
for the one my ancestors had lost in Faleshti, Moldova


I admit that I am sentimental
and that the objects of my sentimentality sometimes blur together


Now I sit in the den of our city home and remember
the deer in the field
the Sand Hill Cranes flying in to eat the leavings of the soybean harvest
the red-winged blackbirds in the ditches
and a thousand other little details of life
that made me feel
whole


Haystack


I crouch behind a sheep pen
a deserter from Napoleon’s self-destructing Russian campaign
and through the open barn door
I see a haystack
and, as its getting dark
I think I can hide under some hay


That I did
sleeping soundly until pre-dawn
when I was awakened by the farmer’s daughter
come to milk cows


She was filled with lust by my sharp Gallic features
and my long lank jet-black hair
She was much stronger than me
I being a city man
and rather dissolute to start with
not a good fit for a soldier
but so many of us were unfit
and there against our will
and I was all tired and worn out
from all the marching and terror
but I was nevertheless aroused
and satisfied her


We had three children
and when her father died
she convinced me that we should move to France
where I still had relatives
who could give me work


As I said
she was healthy as any farm animal
but I had suffered too many insults
to my constitution
and I weakened and sickened
and my children
who grew into the image of their mother more every year
came around my bed with sad eyes
and recited Catholic prayers


Mythologies


The Pope visited America
and, as he boarded the plane
I breathed a sigh of relief that
he had not been assassinated in our barbaric, weaponized country


Francis brought God back into organized religion
mercy and love
for our fellow man
especially for the downtrodden
the least among us
and that is good—


he reawakened
--in some of us--
a conscience


But it’s also bad
because it helps to perpetuate
the power of ancient mythologies


and the human race will not progress
will not evolve
until we have left all the ancient mythologies
behind us


Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over nine hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including The Legendary. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for work published in 2012, 2013, and 2014. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. He lives in Denver.


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Three Poems
by donnarkevic


Treatise On Melancholie


On Saturday night Monsignor returns
from the Polish Falcons, two beers
and a shot of Calvert, his public limit.
A splash of cold water clears his head.


The cuckoo clock in the study sounds,
a war spoil brought back from Aachen,
the first German town captured by Americans.
A grateful GI confessed the theft
but not the rape of a peasant girl.


From the medicine chest, a Bromo,
the cobalt bottle blue
as the Cathedrale Sainte Cecile.
At the kitchen table, he scribbles,
perhaps a grocery list,
perhaps the eulogy
for that boy who hanged himself,
perhaps his last will and testament,
perhaps a suicide note
he might leave a doting wife,
explaining failures at work,
his faith lost to existentialism,
or his love for her that perished
like a short story about love
that perished.


In the refrigerator, the housekeeper
left a meatloaf planned to last
three days like loaves and fishes
that keep multiplying
in the way white blood cells do
during an infection.


It all ends with blood:
a rape-torn vagina,
the ligature marks on one hanged,
or wrists slit horizontally, eighty-seven stitches
neat as starch-stiffened doilies
church-women crochet,
the rectory in need of a woman’s touch.


The Death Of Superman


He worked for Superior Dairy,
a large red S embroidered on his chest
just above his name that I knew
couldn’t be true.


Bottles clinked as he climbed the steps.
A tip of the hat and a wink,
his secret safe as planets,
their silent loneliness
ellipsing through my childhood.


Before school he arrived,
the wooden porch creaking,
betraying his presence.
I flew to the door.
Behind the curtain lace I watched
him leave an extra cream
Mom poured over strawberries,
her lips taking in the fruit like sin.


Some days he lingered in the truck,
perhaps taking stock, our curtain lace
remaining open, Mom’s smile
red as strawberries
and deadly as Kryptonite.


One day Superman vanished along with the truck.
Pissed, Dad drove to the A&P.
What’s becoming of this world? he said
to me along for the ride in the front seat.


Looking out the window, searching
the autumn sky, I sat and wondered.
Across cracked concrete sidewalks
faded red leaves scudded,
their potential for flight
something in which I no longer believed.

The Beatification of Stevie Reznik


On my bed Mom leaves a box of clothes
that belonged to Stevie Reznik,
that boy who hanged himself.
Once filled with A&P Coffee,
the cardboard still smells of morning.

At first I ignore it. I refuse to open it.
Pacing around my room,
I watch my reflection in the full-length mirror
cracked from top to bottom,
salvaged from a Thursday trash pickup.
My snug clothes are aged hand-me-downs
from living boys, a brother and cousin.
I feel alive walking in their skins.

Stevie’s clothes are dead,
dead as green army men shot
by gray army men,
dead as the golden heads of marigolds
snapped off October stems,
dead as red tongues of slag
the steel mill dumps,
how slowly the color fades
like the last breathes of someone dying.

And yet, Stevie, an only child,
dressed like a Sears mannequin.
Opening the box, I pull out jerseys,
shirts, pants, socks, piecing together a boy
who no longer plays with army men.
In the broken mirror, I see two of me,
one clothed in vestments of the dead
and one thankful they are not mine.


donnarkevic: Weston, WV. MFA National University. Recent poetry has appeared in Bijou Poetry Review, Naugatuck River Review, Prime Number, and Off the Coast. Poetry Chapbooks include Laundry, published by Main Street Rag. Plays have received readings in Chicago, New York, and Virginia. FutureCycle Press published, Admissions, a book of poems, in 2013.


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Two Poems
by Olivia Vande Woude


Safe on the Safe End


The air is sausage and rubber and pavement
after it rains a good rain.


He has the devil on his arm
teeth that slip and trip on words skipping
out and out and out
cigarettes settling in calloused hands.


Went to jail for 2 days
threatened and hollered
at his best friend
for kissing his wife of 28 years
until the police
came and tamed
and his 2 bottom teeth were the cost.


Makes Adirondack chairs
working now on a tree house for his dozen grand kids,
Rebar for windows,


Yuh.


Likes the sting of salty peanuts,
Munchies for 59 cents a piece,
3 years single and loving it,
No biggie, I don’t miss her.


His mother and grandmother
taught him to cook, he was
their little girl,


His children hate anchovies
but when he makes salad niçoise, well
they love the red wine and anchovies for spice.


Learned a2 plus b2 equals c2
took trigonometry
only worker who remembered
at the house with vinyl blinds
he built last year
where his daughter’s ex once spat at her
and hit her
and tried a punch at him
and the mosquitoes loved his bloody skin.


He saw the first red leaf of Fall today
like the 50 times he had before
his blood is Maine, never found reason to leave,
next place he’ll be is easy telling
after all, it’s safer on the safe end.


$20 Taxi Ride


Wears a Nike hat
Scar on his left wrist
3 centimeters long.


Inserts the key
on a chain with a yellow pig dangling
among other
carefully serrated pieces of gold.


We are a lot of people in this country,
Ethiopia
I am from the Northern port.


Likes the quiet
of Alexandria
says it’s good for old people.


Told him I do too.


That’s good, that’s a great feature.


Yellow wool lined teeth
Sweater vest


Camel colored shirt, striped
Coffee and cigarette breath


Receipts lie
endless
on the floor.


Clock says 5:15
forever.


My wife works at a school for grown people,
student loans.


Has lived here
7 years
his mustache informs
and eyebrows fell.


“Morning Fresh”
pink car
freshener sways.
Unfolds glasses
with a plastic rim
to gently rest on dark ears.
​Sits on a throne of 2 pillows
worn, sun faded
one of taupe
other of cheetah
still comfortable.


Car cuts in front of us on Whitehurst Ave.


Complicated, no?


He chuckles.


City traffic bad, I go around
you see


I know the streets
more or less,


Parking problem? I inquire.


You’re right, it can happen that way.


Smiles.


Pass homeless under bridges
Easter Egg baskets
roll on their sides
in the bit of wind
Winter exhaust.


One time I got lost with a passenger
You miss exit,
I’m telling you, I’m telling you,


you’re lost.


Didn’t charge her the whole cost on the meter
when I went the wrong way.


It’s better like that
You have to be human, yeah.


Bad destination otherwise.


I live my life like that, it’s fine


Thank you God.


One man, he decepts me,
gave me $20,
made me give him $10 later,
​I say, Honest,
straight
is better.


Don’t worry about others, they must change
themselves.


I agree.


Thank you, thank you.


Folds and puts down glasses
Pats finger on the crinkled spine of the map
Reassurance of our arrival.


That’s good, That’s good,


Whispers quickly.


Shall I stop here?


Olivia Vande Woude is a senior in high school from Charlottesville, Virginia. She has been writing stories for most of her life, and has recently focused her attention on writing poetry. She has attended the New England Young Writers Conference, the UVA Young Writers Workshop, and was selected to read her work at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Her work has been featured in Literary Orphans, Stepping Stones Magazine, Poetry Space U.K, and Canvas literary magazine. Olivia is an intern at Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center, where she is co-editor of the Crossroads Anthology.


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Four Poems
by Ruth Deming


The Tyvek House


Tyvek is an insulation material applied to the interior of buildings before application of the final material such as wood or stone or siding.


Take this old house by the side of the road
Walk past its leaf-filled ditch and muddy garden
Rip out its walls and doorways
Stay there, don’t move,
Walk among the heaps of plasterboard,
the piles of rubble still unswept
Let it sear you, rush like water through you
And bring you no peace.


Don’t come and fetch me.
I’ll stay here among the ruins,
Quiet, dream-filled,
Lonesome as a stairwell,
Ringing like a bell,
One of a kind,
The house where I live.


Did you mark the days when they
Hammered the outer boards
Across the falling rot of splintered wood?
Did you see how frisky they were
Those laugh-aloud fun-finding fellows
stationed so effortlessly
on tall hinged ladders,
Three of them I counted, workmen
Bouncing words from roof to roof,
Or were they manly jokes,
Nails echoing clang clang
as they went in.
Thick-soled boots snug on tall rungs.


How we couldn’t help but laugh
the day the letters appeared – TYVEK -
blue, dark as mountains,
- TYVEK -
you’d know those letters anywhere –
ponytailed Y
Take-me-along K pointing off,
Off in the distance at some lonesome star.
How we rejoiced and continue to rejoice
at the coming of the words.


Leave it to us to notice from our
One unstained window
the predicament of the motorists
and the ditch-leaping joggers passing by,


Each one waiting,
querying among themselves,
When will it be finished?
When will the Tyvek be covered up for good?


Didn’t we fool them?
Didn’t we cause consternation?
We simply couldn’t do it.


We let the Tyvek stay.


The Visitor


When I looked in the mirror
in our nation’s capital
I saw an American girl
with the same Jewish eyes
I wore back home


puffy now
from an unknown allergen
don’t tell me I’m allergic
to all the people mine eyes did see
Mr Bezwada on the Amtrak going down
- a “polymer chemist” – what’s that? -
oh, you’re traveling to the Patent Office
for an inner body contraption
to mend our bones.


Do we really deserve it?
Your wife keeps the books
and cooks with curry
I lick your patchouli smell off my tongue.


Have you seen the tall postal museum?
Or know there was one?
Security guards thick as pigeons
on the sidewalks of DC
Paranoia come home to roost.
Hello, sir, where’s the ladies room?
Make a u-turn, he says, doffing his cap,
go under the arches, you’ll see it then.


Take care, he says, seeing me off from his podium.
I wave when I come back
drying my hands in the air
a confessional poem?
what’s to confess?
my intense love for Thee?
the moon enters my bedroom at night
makes my swollen legs
light up
suddenly I remember
an email from Neighbor Bill:
there’s an orgy of lightning bugs
in the backyard


I slip on my robe and stand on the backporch
late for the show
they don’t mind
I go out to meet them on the cold
wet grass
cascades of them
passing like nations across the sky
crisscrossing like planes in the
Air and Space Museum
missionaries of higher truths
I still aspire to


I hold my arms out like Jesus
Americans all of us
stung deep and hard
with the imprint of Liberty
blinking
all thousands of us
on and off
on
and off


Diabetes and the Bike


Diabetes, if not controlled,
is a spreading cancer to
every vital part of the human
organism or even a cat or
floppy-tailed dog
whose owners hide the insulin pill
inside what they call a “treat”


The name “diabetes” sounds sweet
like a playful nymph frolicking
in the woods with Zeus, who will
trick and capture and ravage her
all the same, just as diabetes
will get us
perhaps it will ruin our eyesight
so we can no longer read a book
or comb our hair in the mirror
perhaps it will bring heinous pain
to the bottom of our feet
said a friend who has painfully
trundled off to the afterlife


Hedge your bets, says I,
as I climbs aboard my stationery bike
set in front of the television whose
rabbit ears quiver as it pulls in
news from Japan
I speed up my pedaling
as we hear an “inside report”
on the young babyfaced leader
of Korea North who dwells
in the land of Pyongyang with
his banditos who terrorize
the land where mountains
hold their breath and plan
to topple him one day


Tired of the eternal nonsense
I blow my nose in what used to
be a light-green T-shirt
and switch channels
but the charismatic leader
has his hooks in me
and I watch and with the
mountains, plot his demise.


Won’t be easy, but I think
we can do it. Are people
killed off in fairy tales?
Solomon Grundy met his
demise on a Sunday. Nuns pray
for peace, I pray: Almighty,
send down a multi-colored
balloon and lure the Supreme Leader
aboard. We’ll float him to
a kindergarten class, give him
drums and a tambourine,
a Curious George puzzle
and puppets to amuse
himself with.
Then he will learn
to be a man.


Shaker Furniture


At the Philadelphia Museum of Art


Narrow wood
and fair
cut from trees
of another America
furniture
plain
worn at the
touch points
shy furniture
caught behind the museum’s glass wall
like a ballerina hooking up her dress.


The desk and rocker
the candelabra
upended like a bird on wing,
flow without order or design
in their latest
retirement place. Another
room, dark as
a porch in twilight
houses a high, narrow bed.
We can’t go in.
Who warmed their legs beneath these sheets?
Or dreamt of forbidden touch?


Really, it wasn’t so long ago that
they left, half a century merely,
the Great Ones, sitting in
the farmhouse for
their last regal portraits,
turning their ancient heads
like captive eagles
listening
still listening
for the scuff of shoes
on the kitchen floor.


Ruth Deming has had her poetry published in lit mags including Mad Swirl, River Poets, Ray's Road Review and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.


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