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Issue 1

December 2017

Issue 1

Editor’s Introduction

~

Our first issue features twenty stunning poets.

 

I took these poems everywhere. Tucked into my backpack or folded up into my pocket. I’ve been trying to find a way to describe them, and I think together they make a map. Something to turn to and know yes, it’s okay to go this direction. Yes, someone else has been here and lived to write about it.

 

Unfolding the poems from my pocket was like unfolding a room I could walk into whenever the edges of the world got too sharp. When our leaders confirmed our suspicions of being monsters. When we went to bed afraid. When people we trusted had heinous sexual crimes exposed. For everything I had the words of new friends saying I feel it too. I had poetry that confronted and comforted, and I can’t believe I have the opportunity to share these with you.

 

Thank you. With all my heart thank you. There’s so many reasons why the poems in this first issue are incredible, but the simplest reason is because they exist. Because the poets could have been doing anything else with their time, but they took understanding and bewilderment and made it something tangible. There’s passion, there’s anger, there’s panic, there’s love. The poems that make this issue will always be near to me.

 

Thank you poets. Thank you incredible staff Jeremy Hammack, Exodus Brownlow, Thomas Richardson, and Alex Pieschel. Thank you reader.

 

C.T. Salazar

Editor-in-chief

We Carry

Courtney LeBlanc

 

We carry our lipstick which we always forget

to reapply after dinner. We carry our keys,

clutched between fingers like brass knuckles.

We carry our empty wallets and the tears from the angry

phone call with our mothers. We carry condoms

and when those break we carry Plan B. We carry

our pride and our shame and the diet pills that made our hearts

race but damn girl, look at these thin thighs. We carry the last

Post-It note he left on the mirror and we carry the receipt

from therapy. We carry the eyeliner smudged from last night’s

drinks and ibuprofen for today’s hangover. We carry the crystals

to ward off evil, to bring luck, to add heft and make our bag

a weapon. We carry the fortune we got on that good date

with the blond who seemingly lost our number the next morning.

We carry the crumpled business card from the guy who bought

drinks even after we said no thanks. We carry our best friend

when she loses the baby. We carry the cost of our birth control

when our employer’s insurance refused to pay. We carry the rent

check, the student loan debt, the grocery bill. We carry our hearts

when they got too muddied on our sleeves. We carry flip-flops

to slip onto our feet after a long day in heels. We carry cardigans after

being told our shoulders were too provocative. We carry the fingerprint bruises

and the I ran into the door excuses. We carry it all, the heavy world

digging into our shoulders and slumping our backs.

 

 

 

 

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbook All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix Review, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, Glass, Brain Mill Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/wordperv, or find her on facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.

 

Two Poems

Katherine Riegel

The Poem

 

There’s a heart buried

at the bottom of a lake.

It’s your heart, or one of them.

You have to hold your breath

and dive down

to find it, pulling fistfuls of mud

away each time before you rise again

to the surface to breathe. You must

do it by hand so you don’t injure

the heart and stop

its beating. Oh yes, it’s beating, the way sharks

are breathing in the ocean, always

in movement. Tangles of weeds

brush your legs like snakes

as you go down, blind

and holding back fear

in the depths over and over again;

or snakes pretend to be weeds

just to get close to you.

When you finally

touch it, the beautiful red

muscle in your hand, bring it up

through the clear water

that cleans and shines it,

you cannot help but hold it out

to those waiting on shore

saying Look, look at what I found.

 

 

 

You Might Go Down to the Water

 

You do not believe

it, love, but you are

as necessary as flight.

No cardinal in his red suit

is more than you, no

 

monarch caterpillar at the leaves

of a milkweed

more possible. You, love,

are both possible and right,

 

like campfire smoke saturating

clothes and hair, like thunder traveling

so far through the humid air just

to be heard. Yes, in your shame

 

and sorrow you might go down

to the water and beg

it to take you away at last. Just

 

remember: even the knives

you carry in your head

are holy, even when they cut down

the mystery you almost

imagine and prod the boggy peat

 

under which any love you ever had for yourself

pretends to be dead. Why

 

does everything have to be

so sharp? Try to remember.

The blades are you, and they shine

 

in the light. Every moment,

every particle of every

thing in the whole damned universe

needs you.

 

 

Katherine Riegel is the author of Letters to Colin Firth, What the Mouth Was Made For, and Castaway. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Brevity, The Offing, Orion, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and poetry editor for Sweet: A Literary Confection.

Wash Outcast

R. Gerry Fabian

A blue denim work shirt

flaps in the wind.

Even after washing,

it is splattered with paint and grease

stains.

 

There is nothing else

on the line –

just pair of muddy boots below.

 

 

Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. His web page is https://rgerryfabian.wordpress.com  He is the editor of Raw Dog Press https://rawdogpress.wordpress.com His novels, Memphis MasqueradeGetting Lucky (The Story) and published poetry book, Parallels are available at Smashwords and all other ebook stores.

 

Two Poems

Charlene Langfur

Saving the Days

 

I think it doesn’t take as long as I think

to get through the day with less. Less grows on me.

Even in a mess or life on the skids,

when the physics of moving forward seems unavailable

at best, even then, I am out early in the morning

at such times and today, I’ve changed my usual direction,

walking on the sidewalk instead of the grass.

Trends pass. I let mine fly away like the wrens

in the mesquite bushes, the wrens are small,

hardly there at all but wily, completely in the world outside,

no matter how tiny. I want to be like them, a life force,

like the wrens, the wild crows, the roadrunner moving

like wind, it is always in a hurry. I try to be as alive as I am,

moving into light and time, stepping out with my thirteen pound

honey colored dog as she leaps in between every few steps,

it is her way to move out toward what’s around her head on,

all in, with everything she has in her, living, walking deep

is what I say it is, and I am trying to follow along with her,

making our lives on earth avid, walking past the snow covered mountains,

under the palm trees covered with tiny date seeds,

covered with desert in my mind, the sweetest of it,

we know it, Honey and I do, the pink primroses

steady in the heat, yellow trumpet flowers always in bloom,

the yucca plants aflame with their silky white petals.

 

 

 

 

 

The Things We Pull Off By Chance

 

They have a power of their own. Breaths and pauses.

Chagall’s violins. What becomes more when we aren’t expecting it.

Images with float. What fits. The constancy of what happens over

and over and how we find a place in the middle of them,

the way it is. The sunflowers out back breaking open,

overturning what we already know until it becomes something else.

Bigger. Extending beyond but still the same place. I think this is

how the mind works and the spirit makes its way. In the early hours

where the moon meets the day as if there is an easy way to move from one to the other.

A bouquet of fresh roses. Love again. Anything at all.

 

 

Charlene Langfur is an organic gardener, a rescued dog advocate and a Syracuse University Graduate Writing Fellow. Her writing has appeared in many magazines and journals–of the most current a series of poems in Poetry East  and Weber-The Contemporary West ( 2016 and 2018).

The Glasses And The Way

Barry Silesky

I used to know the way and there are maps everywhere

 

still buried between the books, though I’ve always known

 

it’s the same; that the weather never changes and the good

 

days are coming as sure as they are not. The difference is

 

only the view and these glasses are as good as the first day

 

I put anything on. Maybe I should just go and look in the

 

mirror again, as if I didn’t know what was there and

 

maybe I don’t. If only I keep on looking, I’ll find the street

 

I wanted to live on. It will contain the woods I lived in

 

complete with the trees I cut down that built the

 

neighborhood. I remember the smell when the snow

 

started melting and the world came back to life. It was a

 

planet I never wanted to leave and to this day I still want

 

to be buried in.

 

 

 

Poet, biographer, and editor Barry Silesky was born in 1949 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He earned a BA from Northwestern and an MA from the University of Illinois-Chicago. His books of poetry include The New Tenants (1992), Greatest Hits, 1980–2000, and The Disease: Poems (2006). He has also published a book of micro-fiction, One Thing That Can Save Us (1994). He is a noted biographer, and his biographies include Ferlinghetti: The Artist in His Time (1990) and John Gardner: Literary Outlaw (2004). Silesky lives and works in Chicago, where writes with his wife─fiction writer─Sharon Solwitz.

 

Two Poems

Jessica Mehta

Secret-Telling Bones

 

Twice in Jaipur and once in Delhi,

female security officers grabbed

my hand, spread the fingers, incredulous

at the wedding mehendi. Startling, right?

That this seemingly white girl

had snuck into their fort. But this,

this is far from the secretest secret

club. Just one stripped me bare

with her teeth, whipped me whimper

hard with her tongue. What’s this?

with a poke at my hip bone—

 

it jutted from my pants

like a weapon. And she saw me,

the whole embarrassment of me, the years

of calorie counting and too fats

and starve, starve, starving

to redemption. My first answer

was most honest. Nothing

(that’s me). My second sounded

an excuse: Bone (the damned reason

I could never fully disappear).

 

Show me, she commanded,

 

and I did. Raised my kurti, slid

my pants down homegrown

muscly thighs and displayed

my secret-telling bones

for the world to prod and judge.

 

 

 

 

 

Nesting

 

I have one of you sitting

in my throat like a pigeon.

Dirty birds—

 

we hate them because they’re like us.

When you ask,

Tell me something, the droppings

are so sticky, dusty white I can’t

choke them out. My voice

has always been stifled,

after all,

 

it’s far too crowded down there

for us all to sing at once. But know,

scrape by struggle, I’ll tell

you everything with my fingertips.

 

You’ll find my words scrawled

on paper scraps, your something’s

inked in permanence. They’re loud,

gaudy and nakedly unashamed

in a way my voice could never bear.

So let the bird be, the filthy thing

 

is cleaner than all of us,

and especially me. What diseases

I’ve waded through, infections I’ve borne

and disgusts I’ve clutched dear

to whoosh across the wild to you.

 

 

 

 

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet, novelist, and storyteller. She’s the author of five collections of poetry including the forthcoming Constellations of My Body, Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo as well as the novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Prize in Poetry, and numerous poet-in-residencies posts including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM. Jessica is the owner of a multi-award winning writing services business, MehtaFor, and is the founder of the Get it Ohm! karma yoga movement. Visit Jessica’s author site at www.jessicamehta.com.

The Giant Gets Her Period

Su Cho

She rests her head on a mountain peak and grinds her
heel into the snow. She flicks birds out of the sky,
shakes loose from her body. She jumps up and down
to see how high she can go in one place. To see if her
feet lodge themselves in the dirt below. Pressure
balloons her head once she propels upward to space
and pushes herself back down. She checks how deep
her ankles are in muddy snow, to see rivers and lakes
turned bright red.

 

 

 

 

Su Cho received her MFA in Poetry and MA in English Literature from Indiana University, where she recently served as the Editor-in-Chief of Indiana Review. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Journal, Thrush Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, BOAAT, PANK, and elsewhere.

Two Poems

Laura Madeline Wiseman

Inside the Spouse of the Ocean, the World Carrier, the Great Seal

 

They say we egg on lies. They say we’re too easy to hook,

reel from the waters, net, then string. They say we can’t

block or bolster, that we roll under pressure, unable to

mouth air. Muscles writhe, then bruise. We’re taunted,

bellied, bullied, boxed. They say we scavenge, head like a

crawdad, plastic-filled. They say, too boney, blue-veined,

or pale. But even the gasoline rainbows. Even the dock

holds high the tools of catch—string, net, reel. Even the

marina attempts. They say this or that, but saying is easy.

We say we’re the ancient wisdom revealed along the river.

*

What’s revealed along rivers, but broad-backs, twisted-

necks, limbs like kickstands. Hello world, we’ve had

enough. We’re warriors, teachers, and guides. We remake

our body into whatever’s required—half-fish, turtle, lord.

We don’t sleep, we mediate. We don’t favor, we bind. We

aren’t mean, we’re half-poisoned by what’s dumped, left to

fester. Still, we stretch to listen to stories. We all have pain,

loneliness. Under the trees’ shadows, we’re afraid of

nothing—creature, amphibian, desert willow, beasts in the

air. Our aim is to be great, to become half something else.

We carry the weight of elephants to support the world.

*

Under the weight of elephants who support the world, no

one can do this. It’s a lotus folded. It’s a head-to-knee

untouched. It’s a mudra to awaken the snake in the spine. It

cures, seals, shuts, and closes. It makes oceanic surf

tumble, then waterways that wash asunder. In this studio

beside the levy, when will great rivers rise again? Will we

extend our spine when it happens, open as a flower, hold

our hands to tap into what’s still sexual inside? How to

know? Now all tumble, hips open, foreheads rest. Everyone

reaches towards the beast who thrashes.

 

 

 

 

 

Never a Drop of Water for Water-monsters, Those Twisted & Ugly Shapes

 

We can’t rest or shut eyes. We can’t extend or slide. We

tried to place a forehead in the crook of their arm—hand or

cheek as if to watch a little TV. But they were all arms and

elbows, stacked against us, cold shoulders, yellow bellies,

lies. We rolled, but they twisted us back. We stared at the

ceiling, then the side-wall. We tried to breathe, to prove we

were more than half-mammal, less than half-fish. Is truth

an undertow pushed up from the bottom of terror? Travel,

zoo, or farm, the beast lives where everything we knew

vanished.

*

Everything we knew vanished. We sing theme songs. We

love a curly, blond puppet. If elsewhere kisses turn us into

princes, we remain all joints, forever green, side-gazing.

Sometimes we sit like a rock, a gracilis, another word for

slender. Sometimes they slide us open with a towel. They

ride us in a circle. We support their weight—limbs turned

outward, tail way back. Later, when we explain, some yell,

Froggie! Warts! as if we’re catching. Inside, we carry it

like a jar, a backpack of sand, a ledge in a forest. We travel

to places not on their map.

*

Not on their ancient map, we’re half-sons, folk-goddesses,

companion-kings. We’re what coils along necks, conquers

weather, lies beside the swords that cause thunder. We

mean couch, eternal, infinity, without end. Some call us a

stretch of a thousand heads that lounge on what’s

primordial. Our body swallows whole. We balance limbs,

turn the blood, fix sleep. We’re see also, references, further

reading, external links. Why call us animal on the ocean

floor? Who talks? Who listens? It all makes the head ache,

the sinus fill with pressure. We are what’s thrashing on the

ocean floor. Remember we have no arms.

 

 

 

 

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the editor of two anthologies, Bared and Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Book List. She is the recipient of the 2015 Honor Book Nebraska Book Award, a Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy of American Poets Award. Her book Drink won the 2016 Independent Publisher Bronze Book Award for poetry. Her latest book is Through a Certain Forest (BlazeVOX [books] 2017). Her book Velocipede (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), is a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist for Sports.

The Unbecoming

Samuel J. Fox

6 am rain / fractures into a black mass

on pavement / thousands of microcosms /

miniscule magnifying lenses shattering

 

*

in every tear / there is the off-chance

a universe is unbecoming / destroyed

 

*

this world has never been / for us /

not at least now that we’ve ruined it /

we rinse our hands clean / runoff

bloody / black / with murder / coal dust

 

*

i wake this morning /  brew alchemy

into a coffee mug / eat / realize

this world is collapsing around / our silence /

we ignore it / like the lightest rain /

 

*

even Pontius Pilate believed / the bruised savior /

innocent / Pilate also left the world /

to clean up the sty / it made of itself /

[how well we have since polished our shit]

 

*

6 pm news / all i can do

is stare / at comfortable lightning as though

headlines / are ambulance lights / distant / encroaching /

the rain doesn’t fall / so much

as it races / to resuscitate the world’s green heartbeat /

trying to hammer / what’s left of this world into place

 

*

tonight / i romance / a cigarette cherry smoldering /

the off-chance of a universe / mid-holocaust / in my ashtray /

for a world that can’t exist / i dream

Christ strolls by / in the dark / opening his white umbrella

 

 

 

Samuel J Fox is a bisexual poet and essayist living in North Carolina. He is published in places such as Maudlin House, F.A.L.D., and Five 2 One; he is forthcoming in Cold Creek Review, Ellipsis, and Grimoire Magazine. You can find him on Twitter (@samueljfox) or at www.samueljfox.com.

Two Poems

Alejandro Escude

Landfall

 

It came in a hurry. And when it came,
It was called landfall. We watched it
Sink in a cascade of screams. A bridge
Now a gull soaring in the white sky.
We thought it might bring devastation,
But it brought the opposite, a composite
Of seasons. So that, winter and spring
Became one in the same. Summer. Fall.
Together they unfolded a grayer time,
Gray as morality. To understand, you
had to stand on a corner in Long Beach,
4th and Pine, listening for a hurricanes’
Passing, the dipping of the Godhead,
As a lone thin, black man on a bicycle,
Whistling, made a long, widening turn
To wait out the crossing light, the storm
That no one saw, and no one saw coming.

 

 

Jackpot

 

The wound is real. Imaginings turn
and we’re off. Seeds and sidewinders. The wind,
its lack of articles. I walk into the refrigerator
and it feels like another planet. Cold and hot.
I chug a double-expresso, and I’m back. Scissors
can never be borrowed. I’m much less angry.
Even with the gas station attendant
who gave me back the wrong change
for lotto tickets. I drove back and calmly
asked for another computer pick, which she gave me.
What would happen if I won the seven million?
Would the gas station demand the money? Someone
who works for the lotto knows the answer to that question.
Cool and overcast tonight. A dog barks.
All those heads turning to look at my daughter, who’s five
as she hops and runs back to the car.
I’m not comfortable with that—but the people
make nice faces from their own cars
and I don’t mind nice faces.

 

 

 

Alejandro Escudé’s first book of poems, My Earthbound Eye, was published in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

New York City

Lilly Milman

No one flinched
when the man screamed fire
at Penn Station,
because in New York you
do not cry wolf.
You are wolf.
Grit your wild teeth, your fur coat
and black eyes. You are wolfpacked
together in the subway,
bound by a cosmic pull
that keeps you standing upright,
even when your knees buckle.
Even when your eyes close
and nothing weighs
you down anymore.
Nothing weighs you down
on the way home from work,
as you stand suffocated by a dim
fluorescent white fallibility.
It rests on your shoulder
digging into your collarbone
like a bad briefcase
that makes you ask how and why –
are you the man reading
next to you,
the mariachi band playing,
the word ‘fire,’ howling
your own feral heartbeat
listening.
It’s hard to hear the separation,
the splintering of sound and speech.
There is a train that takes
you home, and there is
(maybe) a fire.
There is a mind and there is a body,
and a wolf, and in between
there is nothing.

 

 

Born on Long Island in 1998, Lilly Milman is now a junior Writing, Literature, and
Publishing student at Emerson College in Boston. She received a Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key award for a high school creative writing portfolio. She is an associate editor of The Deli Magazine and a contributing writer to Cliché Magazine. This is her first publication.

Lo, Litany

Carly Joy Miller

Inside my growl my old familiar lo

hips lo worship at the altar of frisson

 

my lopped tongue forfeits

its debts its odes lo

 

water lo tether frayed

my wool splotched

 

meadow unfurled what

temporal joy I cling

 

to when lo is look

lo my gifted wrists

 

lo plums splayed in two

palms lo honey lo milk-sung

 

Ruhamah I am a daughter

spared little body

 

little land left with no

mark lo lo my head

 

tilts toward my language

where lo is no

 

 

 

Carly Joy Miller is the author of Ceremonial (Orison Books, 2018), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2017 Orison Poetry Prize, and the chapbook Like a Beast (Anhinga Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Blackbird, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, West Branch and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Poetry International and a founding editor of Locked Horn Press.

Ridin On The 6 With My Woes

Marissa Johnson

Nothing good ever happens to me on the 6 train / and today is no different / coming back from the doctor / I happen to catch the same train / the same car / and sit directly across / from you / girl who ghosted me on Bumble / And that is the great irony of New York / one of the most populated cities in the world / and yet somehow so small / like the suburbs I ran away from in Connecticut / faster than I run from the rats near the 6 / and speaking of running away / hello again Bumble girl / I’d like to say you didn’t see me / but you did / raised your eyes from your book / just once / and looked directly at me / for a time that lasted less than a heartbeat / I don’t exist in the hearts around me anymore / just float / somewhere between passing time and / all the skin I don’t touch / invisible / forgotten / It’s funny really / that they call it ghosting / when here I am / realist ghost of them all / feel like I could walk right through these concrete store fronts / Maybe the doctor will call me back / concerned about all this inexplicable gray matter I call / a body / this exhale I call / a heart / Maybe Casper had a sister and / plot twist / she’s me / Maybe running in to you on the train is a metaphor / because truly Bumble girl / I don’t know what could fuck my day up more / you / or the MTA / Jokes / it’s def the MTA / I’m lying / anyway / I only talked to you then because I was bored / and you were pretty / I can see it still / your carefully sculpted eyebrows / the pigment of your lipstick / But I’m flatlining / This doesn’t even deserve / to be a poem / I guess I’m still bored / I’m not a ghost / I’m just a gay girl / I’m not a ghost / I’m just a femme girl / waiting / to be seen

 

 

 

Marissa is a world-traveling, Beyonce-worshipping, wine-loving, gay woman living in Boston, Massachusetts. She recently took a Buzzfeed quiz to determine her style based on her favorite color and horoscope and it told her she is a “Salty Grandma” and that was probably the most accurate thing that’s ever been said about her. She is a poet, researcher, and activist on issues including mass incarceration, violence against women, and LGBTQ rights. Her writing serves to break silences, call attention to social problems, and illuminate the complexity of human emotion, typically centered on survival, resilience, and emotional vulnerability. Her work has been published in Bustle Magazine, One Billion Rising, The Voices Project, Impossible Archetype, and is forthcoming in Hysteria Magazine.

A Lot Of Great Bands Got Their Angst Out In Their Mid-Twenties

Katherine Carr

After Morgan Parker

 

You can’t stop crying

in public all the time.

 

Your roommate who faked attempted suicide,

how much you miss your dad, eternal mysteries of outer space.

 

Guilt that your high cheekbones came from rape.

Colonialism in the name of God. War on Drugs. You’re cigaretteless.

 

You are a composer now,

but you’ve always stuttered.

 

Here are some ways in which

you repeat yourself: your family

 

mourns your lifestyle, you are a lazy

talker. You have no thoughts;

 

you talk. Or you try to analyze your life like a text:

you are jittery and unforgiving. You are robotic.

 

A stutterer and a stutterer and a slurer

 

interrupted and on the defense.

You hate it at work when

 

strangers call you “Baby,”

but that is really how you miss yourself.

 

 

 

Katherine Carr is an undergraduate English major at Mississippi State University.

Didn’t Float

Paige Speight

And I don’t know what to tell you
only that I cried on page 15
and at the end of the poem
I rolled over and stared at the
socket on the wall, painted shut

 

I stared at it for an hour
then I shut off the light.

I don’t know what I          was      thinking    about
anything         Maybe I was               thinking

 

about Matt

and how they dragged his body out

of the ocean after 3 weeks

 

The ceremony was a closed casket

somewhere in New York but

 

I didn’t go and see it.

 

I imagine he was naked
because the police couldn’t say
what he was wearing

 

Only       that the dogs had smelled
human smell in the water

 

He talked in circles he talked

Slowly

like he was remembering a poem

 

no punctuation all cadence

 

 

And the socket is painted shut
And I’m wondering why his body

didn’t                        float.

 

 

 

Paige is an artist hailing from Bar Harbor, Maine. She graduated Bowdoin College in 2016, and between jobs on sailboats she paints and writes unusual portraits of the stories and lives that intersect her own.

Two Poems

Ernestine Montoya

Wednesday

 

I woke with a congealed cheese fry stuck to my face,

the room too big, so I called my mother on the phone,

my responses forming an odd jazz song:

oh-yes-hmm-yeah-why? Ah-yes-sure-yeah-hm

while I tried not to burp up the gin and lukewarm tonic

I swallowed from my blue-swirled coffee cup.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, but I was ready,

drunks are always ready until we are not,

so I said, “Nothing, ma, only a little homesick.”

I am sick for something, but it is not home.

I gulped down a too-hot McDonald’s breakfast sandwich

and hash brown after grinning like a loon at the cashier,

who winked and said, “You pretty.”

After, the vinyl console in my truck covered

with frantic fingerprints, streaks evident where I’d dragged

my hands to clean them, I parked just inside the lines

and marched doggedly into work for a meeting.

I left at three in the afternoon and went to a bar,

trying to read Berryman through my third and fourth

gin & tonics of the day, always gin, my closest friend,

my favorite, clear-eyed liar, and did not meet the eyes of

the bartender except to get my ticket, and on the tip line,

I was generous, 40%, for her complicity, for her lack of pity.

By evening, exhausted, I slept it off in a parking lot,

a hobo drumming on the hood of my truck when he passed,

for the hell of it, because a cop was nearby,

who can say? My head heavy but sober,

aggressively sober, so I pulled out onto the road

that becomes a yawning state route after two miles,

the only good thing I’ve found since I left the city,

and drove and drove until my gas tank pinged a warning,

looped around, and let the road guide me home,

Emmylou singing on the radio, cooling my burning eyes,

a song from when she was still chestnut-haired,

young enough to beg for a last dance.

 

 

 

After a Party, I Get Lonely and Call My Mother, Who Listens to Me Eat Cheetos and Cry

 

Scarlett’s brought edibles, little flat discs of

sticky Rice Krispies with flecks of weed like

trapped fruit flies.

An hour later, I’m baked and restless,

so I leave and walk home.

I dial her before I really think about it.

“Hello?” she asks, and I know

what’s coming before she says it:

“You remembered you had a mama?”

I listen to her talk,

imagine her padding around the house,

switching off lights and coaxing our arthritic dog

to take another trip outside.

“I really miss you,” I say.

“I miss you, too, I sat in your room and

cried for an hour last week,”

she says, as brisk as ever about her grief.

“Are you drunk?” she adds.

“A little. And I’m high.”

I sit at the kitchen table

as she tells me what she’s bought me for Christmas,

because she can’t help herself.

I put her on speaker,

rest my head on my arms.

Pretend she’s in the room.

 

 

 

 

Ernestine Montoya is a writer from Texas living in Milledgeville, Georgia. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal and Into the Void Magazine.

 

To My Daughter

Kelly Dolejsi

Maybe this is wrong, but I want you on fire.

Bang. Boom. Debris. I want to throw you

like a bomb and turn around, my back

walking away. If life could just give me

one satisfaction then you’ll collapse all

the gawking stars, the stalking moon, these

predictable nights of domestic abuse. You

will break the dark like windows. If that’s not

enough, if annihilation is too blunt, you’ll be

the math of extinction, the inviolable logic,

the sanity, of polynomials. It’s not that I don’t

love my baby, you understand. I quit smoking

as soon as I found out and I’ll leave my husband

if he so much as looks at you. I’ll use you to get away.

 

 

 

 

Kelly Dolejsi is a climbing instructor with an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published most recently in Timberline Review, North American Review, Fifth Wednesday, Denver Quarterly, West Texas Literary Review, Allegro, Fiolet and Wing, Vine Leaves Literary Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and 1001. She also has poems forthcoming in The Hungry Chimera.

Call Me

Thomas Zimmerman

normal-doing-weird. Juxtaposing

just a pose. A Love Supreme thrum-thrumming

from my speakers, mineral water by

my mouse. Sure, snap a shot. We’ll chat. Or text.

It’s hefty sex. Or safety hex. I’m more

hex-nut than sex-nut. Well, at least these days.

The nights are fueling stations. Love, we lie

like tankers in the locks. Or Catholics on

the rack. That burning’s what we have at stake.

The greens? Wicks yellowing. My dirty blond?

Spent tungsten. Small rebellion squelched.

With roguery along the fringes, in

the margins where I walk the stream, my feet

all wet, ears pricked for any aching sound.

 

 

 

 

Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems have appeared recently in Blood & Bourbon, Brickplight, and Visceral Uterus. Tom’s website: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/

Forsythias at Sundown

Sneha Subramanian Kanta

One day

my child will ask me

existential questions while I park the car

un-ready with answers.

 

I will take your name then,

say Hallelujah. Allah-Hu-Akbar.

Try invoking the divine in

several Om-s

and say I only know

the sea is dyed pink in autumn

when the sun sets.

 

No, I will not distract my child

or narrate passed-down scripts.

I will say that tongues speak

what they know.

The blue is bluer than pastel

cyan during summer, I will say,

while looking at places to stop

and see the day’s sunset.

 

We will perch by the side of forsythias,

the glow of sun on our faces.

I’ll say forsythias grow big

in East Asia and Southeastern Europe.

See, how the globe is composed,

how flowering plants grow everywhere?

 

God, I will say, has come here among these

yellow flowers,

to kiss your questions.

 

 

 

 

An awardee of the prestigious GREAT scholarship, Sneha Subramanian Kanta has a second postgraduate degree in literature from England. She is the founding editor of Parentheses Journal, a literary initiative that straddles hybrid identities across coasts and climes. Her work appears in Califragile, Former Cactus, The Quiet Letter and elsewhere.

God Song

Zackary Lavoie

God once

 

hooked lines to my waist & bounced me from clouds to mud

     He spoke

 

to me through a blade of grass pinched between his thumbs &

     He told

 

me to go to the river & soak my tired feet until they no longer stung.

     He said

 

feed the ducks            sleep on a bed of ferns            break bread

 

     He said

 

& be fed in return

     He plucked

 

leaves from an Oak & put them over my eyes

     He vibrated

 

with the hum of a thousand bees

 

 

nearer to you

     He said

nearer to me

 

 

 

 

 

Zackary Lavoie graduated from University of Maine at Farmington and currently sits at the Director’s Chair Fellow at Alice James Books. His poems have appeared in the Melbourne based podcast ‘memoria.’




Out Over the Horizon: Jacqueline Trimble

Thomas Richardson