By Trevor Abbud
She arrives in a whisper.
The hands of our time all point in different directions, the steady tick-tock of our life. For some it’s early, for others the clock approaches midnight, and those of the unfortunate—the hands of their time spun forward… ticking… ticking… ticking…
More powerful than lightning, always ready to strike, with no warning, or with poison.
She has the power to break the bond of man and wife. Uncompassionate and gutless are her ways. She will steal the future from the youth and strangle the past from the wise.
Never does she sleep. She waits and watches, patient like love, but never kind. She can be slow, and sometimes that’s worse.
Her ugly, dark hand comes down upon the earth; a cold claw that takes away those that their time is up.
She is the draught of our fountain.
Like the hidden things that crawl in the earth, she brings down her hammer in secret, wielding no mercy.
From the ground of which we were born, she is the one who will grind us into dust and return us to the earth. She is the shadow that covers our light, the eclipse of our sun.
She ends the gift, returning us to darkness.
She is the unwanted promise, which is our broken clock.
She leaves with a shout.
Trevor Abbud is a first-time author writing speculative fiction. Developing a taste for literature as a young child, Abbud took a serious interest in writing. His short stories have been published by Short-Story.Me.com, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, and GFT Press. Working part-time as an at-home writer, Abbud is currently developing a collection of short stories.
* * *
By Dick Altman
He rarely reveals his feelings.
He leaves that to me, until he tires of my voice.
He’s mechanically gifted, fixes most things
that move by combustion or electricity.
Machines, he says, make him feel safe--
blameless, guiltless Soulless, I add,
reminding him of what he would like to forget.
When he talks like this, I know what’s coming.
He will begin by wishing he could turn
the clock back—back before her suicide at 30.
If only she had been strong enough to say
let the me of you go—I might have been able
to live with that, he’ll say as if it were all new.
Instead, he’s left with how she looked 35 years ago.
He wishes her alive, aged and uninteresting.
Like a machine broken, unmendable, not worth
soiling his hands over.
Dick Altman ran a New York marketing agency, before moving to New Mexico in 2007, when, he says, he crossed the street from prose to poetry.His work has run in the Santa Fe Literary Review and elsewhere, and will appear in riverSedge, The American Journal of Poetry, Gravel, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. He won first prize for poetry in the Santa Fe New Mexican’s 2015 writing competition. Studying for an MA in English at the University of Chicago, he says, “Put me in poetry’s grip, and it never let go."
* * *
By Devon Balwit
My lazy eye split one poet
into two, four arms gesticulating,
two heads melodically intoning.
Try as I might, I couldn’t bring
them back together, each pacing
the stage in opposite directions,
each wanting to read a different
poem. The audience didn’t
seem to mind hearing double,
nor did the hosting press as
many bought books for both
to sign. The poet’s wife was
staffing the open bar, and I can
only hope she drank enough
to enjoy bringing two poets
with her, one on either arm,
echoing mellifluous endearments
as they took her home to bed.
Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has two chapbooks forthcoming, "how the blessed travel," from Maverick Duck Press (February 2017) and "Forms Most Marvelous," from dancing girl press (Summer 2017). Her recent poems have appeared in numerous print/on-line journals, among them: Oyez, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, Serving House Journal, Timberline Review, The Cincinnati Review, and Immix.
* * *
LINGERING: for Joan
By Judy Battle
she hovers in the nether space
somewhere between life and death
undecided whether to yield or fight
she hovers oblivious to North Star
her only two lovers gone
one to God, the other to New Jersey
she can’t leave
she can’t stay
her body still functions with ventilator
DNR* instruction rescinded when
death came close and breathed icicles
and she remembered how much
she hates the cold
and why she chose Florida sunshine
and weekly visits with the manatees
capturing Kodak moments as they
body surf, barrel roll, and
eat freshwater vegetation.
I too hover in the nether space
waiting for a phone call
from her or about her.
* Do not resuscitate (DNR) is a legal order to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) by a patient in case their heart were to stop.
The poet has been writing essays and poems long before retiring from being psychotherapist and sociology professor. She is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer.
* * *
By Max Oliver Delsohn
Under your feet
the grass sprawls in pleasure.
My eyes lined up with your toes and
I didn’t think I’d feel this again.
the pattern on your dress wallpapers my dreams.
everyone has your name, everyone has your look on their face,
the printer jams at work and sings the high note in your laugh.
I’ve almost lost it completely.
I am cleaning out my car in the middle of a Saturday.
I am biting my straw in two as you speak about local government.
I am rescuing spiders from your windowsill
and my hands do not shake.
Crazed with watching,
crazed with listening.
At any given moment, you are answering the question.
We are desperate to avoid eye contact;
It is uncomfortable, to behold our wealth.
Max Oliver Delsohn is a transgender writer living in Seattle, WA. His work is either featured or forthcoming in Cutbank, Storm Cellar Quarterly , #Trans, The Voices Project, and Seattle University's Fragments.
* * *
A Glacial Boulder
By William Doreski
Crickets trill in the shade. I lean
against a huge glacial boulder
and absorb a cool that predates
the evolution of the human.
Gnats whisper little blood thoughts.
A glimpse of fox, and it’s gone.
I wish I could be that stealthy.
I wish that like the thought-fox
I could slip into vision
and then retreat so abruptly
no witness could swear I’d been.
Ted Hughes knew how acute
is the angle between nature
and culture. When it steepened
even sharper, the planet split
and bared the anger at its core.
I’ve read far more than I’ve lived,
reek of folk tales and legends,
and take the crickets personally.
Once by this boulder at dusk
I saw a young couple sharing
their favorite body parts. Flushed
in sundown, feverish puberty
didn’t see me in the shadows.
I averted my gaze and left
in radiance freshly fallen
from the infinite benevolence.
Now I lean against all that cool
and wonder why this boulder
hasn’t absorbed the summer heat.
But self-fueled like stars it responds
to my presence with the spirit
of the ice age, which to something
as old as this rock must seem
barely a moment ago.
William Doreski recently retired after years of teaching at Keene State College in New Hampshire (USA). His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.
* * *
To my mother’s sadness
By Katherine Lee
There’s a split second after you’ve
seen the blue flowers, real, not fake,
of course, only the best for you, before you’d say
it must have cost too much – on sale, I promise, I confess,
and wondered whether failing to say yes or no made your joy any less.
You leave to place the tall
cut stems in a glass vase,
bestowing rainbows on the wall --
A few that fall into your eyes and trace the shadows laced in your
fine lines, igniting them with a brief joy.
I haven’t really looked, recently, truthfully –
to see how long those drooping eyes sank low or think about
how deep the sorrow goes.
I only know it’s there when I come home (she must
have cleaned the house for days)
the dull hours lessened by a warming presence in another room.
After a time, I think I chose
to not observe how hard she fought to push away the hours
in which she sat alone. Just she, herself, and her within a palace made
for all that she had loved – still loves – the most,
the whitewashed house around her now a tomb
where crushing hours loomed from every spotless room
Katherine Lee is a senior Creative Writing and Chemistry student at Northwestern University. She was accepted into the Northwestern Creative Writing Program in 2015 for the Poetry major and is currently working on an Honors project focusing on German castles by rivers and lakes and their corresponding legends and myths.
* * *
By Sara Marron
The Crumbling Wall
Mother kept chickens
once, in coops beyond
the yard. Penned
like hedges to one
another, she made us
Steal their juevos in
the morning dawn.
Fresh laid, they
sold well in markets.
And you were just
young, nothing more
to do, nowhere to go.
Now, tanks full
of city fish
sound like rain
on the tin roof
of mothers house
Listening to the
before she died, in
the cardamom fields,
When the sun
turned the streets
to dust fields,
you bring the match
from mother’s stove
and light the tail
from the captured
cat on fire.
Watch it burn.
Sneakers scuff gravel
kicking stones away
like so many
tolls collected, on
the way North
there’s barely room
to piss in the truck;
Smelling skin in
the noon dust, hair
and dirt. You cough,
but laugh hard, so
they see you
Tropical nights roll
like tides, spraying
gentle rains and
soft, tender breezes
from the mountains
to Chicamán chattering
chortles of parroting
sprees, tiny monarchs
of the canopy singing
semiotic chains, rhizomatic
rhythms of a nomadic
systems, buried deep
without time. Water
falls thick, wetting air
inside smells of
mother’s layered fruit
cake, pieces of
sapotes y zapotes
all the juices
into the sweet
Desert cold floods
criminals in morning
as the wrong bus
honks; passes by.
Wide faced windows
two glaring headlight
eyes in the dark
dawn, police probing
sewers and city streets
Looking for you:
Above ground rats
race into the phallic
chutes and sit, dogs
waiting a command.
Immigrant; flick open a
silver flame, light
a dirtied dollar.
Identified by no
place at all
Arizona’s Borders burn--
Dave Tracey with Sciatica and Vietnam
Death between a Buick and Ford
Shittiest way to die
i mean a Buick, and a Ford?
Who wouldn't love the army
i got kicked out of school for drinking 150% proof booze
In a soda can
When the Dean told me not to
So i left,
And got drafted, not 4 weeks later
i'm in Georgia, Japan, Korea.
There's no way out
2 dollar hookers
15 cent cigarette packs
1 dollar beer
Life will never be this good again.
Back when Washington, D.C. was a town not a city
Shiny shoes and purses with matching dresses were the norm
but i wore sneakers.
Life is simpler now
If i miss the wastebasket
i pick it up
cross the street,
and pick it up
The students needed me.
The Guinny Gang Plank Connecting Aging Poets to Commercial Institutions
Lana Del Ray manning the secretarial desk
Brooklyn, baby connecting graduate students
To Staten Island standards
She’s the only woman
And she died a few years ago
To swing beats and bouts of fresca
Dropped her dead thru a camera lens
A woman’s fear killed her
And radio killed the video silence
Spring has sprung: the bell has rung
Can you believe it’s decided?
Trump won NY and the summer’s hotter than
Jet engines in the sky
Trump won nyc and celebrated by cumming over the trump tower
Poor central park, they had no choice but to be subjected to that…
Sheparded jeeps wrangled down 5th like slaves
“Chai latte” she says
Soporific, she falls asleep on the sugar (honestly, what the fuck is Miller talking about?!)
What do you like to do,
Set off bombs?
Twenty or twenty-five years ago
A woman asked me as much
When I told her goodbye.
All the days before that
Were good ones
According to my memory--
But she walked off,
Looking for America
And we never talked again.
What good is closure
A loaded word
Do you want this freedom--
From civilization and
Voting and industrialism and
Tap water and cooked meat handed to you
Inside a running car for less than the cost
Of a train pass?
I wouldn't be able to survive.
Frito Lays and Citgo pumping stations
Nike branded everything
While I breathe deep the diesel fumes and kick
Condom wrappers and discarded Employment Guides
Left by the hopeless, sweaty, sand covered
subway pissers whittling away minutes at a time
Through cracks in their minds
Feign sane in the face of the street peddler,
Or claim Water is a right.
I Like You Shallow
Four in the morning don’t you ever sleep, first encounters fingers deep deep
deep in the love chords damn power ballads blasting stereo exploding longing
For front stores shot to smithereens by lead feathers, whistling through driveway
byways barrelguns for the better. Pout precious in your lipsmack stick red deadening
Blood ribbons like highway horizons, leading the marchers marching to the drumming
hum of that loving buzz that barroom kissers bumble for against and up until; wasted
Waiters dropping tills called bills for kissers kneeling shrill vociferously frighteningly ripping out their lungs, with screams of curdling myrrh bleeding like weeping willow
Trees wounded of sap waxy and coagulating according to coordinates of astrology those crystal chakras burning within ancient memories of twinning whining vines
Wine of Sappho’s valley erupting, lapping foaming waves, like tongues swallowing the sky, purpled from spilling amethyste lattice twist and lifts upon creeking rotting oaken
Barstools. Don’t kiss in bars this encounter soft is not the deep deep rolling spill but just a brush back of that knot to your sound ear hear love that nothing, peel back parts
Perdition for the christlike fornicators purgatory for the lovers of wisdom viking ships of skeletal spectres (blood eagle caniballing) for eternity for ever for strip straight bone
Rarity whiteness that is, the thing that is the makeup the essence the ultimate undone sailing low in the deep deep low in the rivers striking fear in the pirates eye to kill the
Albatross. Unwaking skin shed human snake follicles fall in hairs collecting casements of past memors petrichor moments dried deathly breath rattling cores of bronchiale
Beings to pound the caged veins traversing them. Pumping blue bars; bar breathe from escaping the deep deep darkness inside. Deep is not where it finds itself so come here
Baby and keep it close to the surface with me, freedom from the deep from bars keep it shallow keep to the surface stay the way to escape: kiss me deep, kiss away my bar.
Sara is a born and raised Virginian with the travel bug. Her work has appeared in several publications both print and online such as Digital Papercut, Dark Matter, Chagrin River Review, and Sequoya. She currently lives and writes in New York City.
* * *
By Aryn Marsh
Years ago, everything was like a Polaroid snapshot.
Beautiful moments captured; the instant gratification of
printing happiness in vivid color
time and time again
expensive film running out quickly
the expense justified by the pleasure of love and beauty.
Spoiled by our spoils, time lapsed between purchases;
excuses mutually habituated for not continuing the game:
too expensive, too laborious, too monotonous.
Shelved collecting dust
while we went on to experience the world
unable to capture harmony in the same way
starving for the click and shutter
by the hand of the other, knowing the impossibility of recreating
conjoined snowflakes that have melted into cold soil.
Fighting over what had once brought us immediate joy
smashed on cold stone, wide cracks though the lens like lightning bolts.
Not willing to let go, we found ourselves in a dark room
learning to develop in a different way.
The art more refined,
the process infinitely more satisfying.
Aryn Marsh is the creator of www.powerembodied.com, and the owner and operator of Live Juice, a restaurant and juice bar in downtown Concord, NH. She has previously worked as a high school English teacher in Southern Connecticut. She graduated with honors in English at the University of Pennsylvania and holds a Masters Degree in English Literature from University of York in England. Her work has appeared in The Timberline Review. Areas of personal interest include Eastern religious ritual, and ways in which movement, sound, and language intersect.
* * *
By Katie Quinnelly
Nature is taking back the recliner, the wooden stakes
in the bottom are to be put back with the trees,
the salmon-colored upholstery is to be put back
in the river.
I look at the chair and it looks at me.
On the side of the road. Like I can help.
Its holes are filled with squirrel
gear. It’s wet from the rain.
I say: Listen here, lazy boy! You only manifested
from my needs. This is your destiny.
The recliner just sits there. A bird lands
You've fulfilled your purpose, I say.
I needed a seat, I created one.
The chair wallows in its misery.
I say: Fine, I'll admit it. I knew you were praying.
No, I couldn't hear you. I don't speak
chair. But I know about your desires. Oh
to be sat on again, or to die a dead shape.
Katie Quinnelly is a climbing instructor living in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Her work has appeared in Fluent Magazine and Sans Merci. She regularly reads her poetry to unwilling listeners in local bars.
* * *
Give Gram a Hug for Me
By Seth Ruderman
Give Gram a Hug For Me
is how I ended every letter to Gramps
faithfully written on the personalized stationary
he gave me for my fifth birthday
when he asked me to be his pen pal.
Early on those six words were written
out of habit
out of obligation
out of a desire to take up another line on the page
and finish the letter
my Mom assured me he started waiting for
the second he dropped his note in the Floridian mailbox
destined for my home in Jersey.
And so it went
month after month
year after year
I learned the stories
of his time in the Army
of his days as a butcher
of my Mom (his granddaughter)
spending summer days with him by the shore
of the day he met my Gram…
I called Gram and Gramps
on the last night of third grade
while my bags sat in the minivan’s trunk
packed with everything needed for camp departure
and spoke to Gramps who promised to write
but not Gram
who was too tired to come to the phone again
but loved me more than I could know he told me
before talking to my mom in the hushed tones
their conversations had become.
When his first letter arrived in my bunk
I noticed that he ended it
with a message that Gram loved me
instead of the usual few lines
in her perfect script.
Under my blanket
on my top bunk
by flashlight I wrote back
and finished my letter
just to get to the most important six words on the page.
Seth Ruderman lives in Wayne, NJ with his wife and two children. He is a winner of the 2016 RhymeZone Poetry Prize and has had work published in Birds Piled Loosely, Gravel Lit Mag, The Bitchin' Kitsch, Lighten Up Online and other literary journals. Please visit his website here for more information.
* * *
For You I Swim
(In Memory of Richard Samore, 1952-2008)
By Bradley Samore
Staring into the river
I think of you
how you would jump right in
and I am ashamed of my fear
I remove my clothes and step
first onto the shallow stones
then into the icy current
the sting of ten thousand needles
I slow my breathing
each step deeper each breath
deeper until I am swimming
here where I was scared to go
and I realize you are still here
teaching me courage and
the joy of swimming in the wild
the water flowing with your presence
Bradley Samore currently lives in North Carolina and is a high school English teacher. In 2016, he was chosen as Beginning Teacher-of-the-Year in Palm Beach County, Florida. Bradley previously worked for the Spanish Ministry of Education as a culture and language assistant in Asturias, Spain. He has been published in Avalon Literary Review, Star 82 Review, and Words Apart.
* * *
By Ann Schlotzhauer
A Parade of Rivers
Cascade across the forest floor
Cutting lines in the verdant ground
Dripping, splashing, churning waves
They frolic amongst the trees
Expertly avoiding obstacles while creating new ones
They yearn for more space
But embark on their quest alone
A drip, a drop
A tiny bubble of water
Its own world
Bursts upon the scene
Coming from nowhere
Life has begun
Travel is slow
It must sneak from A to B
It makes its way
Greeting more and more old friends along the path
Soon there’s an army
Every revolution starts small
A thimble, a glass, a bucket
Bigger, better things
The trickle has grown
A stream to a creek
Blink and there’s a river
Rivers have a system
Order worth admiring
They work together while apart
Alone in location, they share one mind
This is telecommuting at its finest
They tread and trudge
Unstoppable til they meet
And then their power’s greater
Rushing to the sea
They’ll meet together in a grand reunion
Nothing can touch them
Nothing can slow them
These newborn, ancient drops
The sea is their religion
And their pilgrimage never ends
the world threatens impotently to rain
I urge it
casting aspersions and whispering sweet encouragements
but neither seems to work
The wind that comes with the rainless storm knocks crumpled hulls of leaves from their perches
for only a moment
before disconnecting and drifting down toward a more final destination
Thunder rumbles quietly but almost constantly
as the dry rainstorm raises more and more hope
It is only June and the earth is
Each once-green leaf
so recently renewed by the spring
struggles endlessly to survive
As with anything
it is the very young
and the very old
who die first
Saplings dry up
their young root systems unable to provide for them
The blights that battle the old gain footing and traction.
Lightning cracks nearby
rending the sky briefly, but violently, in two
There is the sound of shattering glass
then the impossibly low rumble that travels outward
ripples on a pond
Another bolt follows its brother’s path
And my hopes
against my better judgment
But in the silence that follows the second, I hear birds tittering nearby
They appreciate the showmanship but see right through it,
knowing something I obviously cannot.
The sky is white then
like a backlit sheet of paper
I can make out individual leaves against it as though set out on an examining plate.
The water that eventually comes
is aggressive in its ineffectiveness
Large drops sent down with a vengeance, perhaps to spite me
But they are
few and far between
and can leave no lasting impression
Even where the shadows of their spent lives are visible on pavement
there are so few spots as to suggest they may just be permanent stains.
Ann Schlotzhauer is in her final year at the University of Tulsa, studying English, Spanish, and Psychology. She feels compelled to create and fiction and poetry are her preferred methods.
* * *
Why Me: A Modern Day Resume
by Christopher Slomiak
Because this proves to me
the true intricacy of destiny and fate
how microscopic paths, bobbing and weaving
through a vast and multicolored universe,
can intertwine at a single point,
seconds within eons,
Because I know what it is to squeeze and grind,
to scoop snow cones for the families I didn’t have
to buy mine.
Because I take what I learned to save lives,
little pops and little shops, only to be
hammered by fists that ask,
“how much more?”
Because everyday, with a calculator in hand,
I click through, page after page,
to sweat for a future of my own.
A place, cozy and personal,
without greed, without crime.
Somewhere away from the noise,
away from the city-cages
where green isn’t the same green
from a cedar or a pine.
Because this is my dream
To offer peace and warmth as experience.
To introduce someone new to what I do.
Because after meeting the person that holds my hand,
it’s the second time I’ve felt the words:
“Meant to be.”
how can you not pick me?
After graduating from Boston University with a degree in English Education, Christopher Slomiak became a full-time hotelier by day and aspiring writer by night. Although he has never published a poem before this, his first short story, “Untouchable” was published in Heart & Mind Zine and was given the Judge's Choice Award for the issue.
* * *
By Stephen Ullom
Wild dreams of primeval forests, draped
with long green vines and dappled with ancient sun spots,
run through with compacted dirt (that is older than dirt)
are paths that wind from the mind over ancient steppes.
It’s the roots we stumble over, not looking down,
but looking ahead, or to the side in response to some crack
of stick, or thud from something dropping to the floor.
It could have been a branch somewhere to the side, perhaps.
Moving, walking, searching but never finding the heart of the forest
where the spring babbles forth before it forms the creek.
When the last stand is cut, the paths will lead nowhere,
and we will be bricked up, in an odd sense, like Amontillado,
in the city.
Steve Ullom lives, works, and writes in a small Midwestern city, accompanied by his family and two dogs. His works have appeared in Quail Bell Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Scribd, and the anthology Colours of Refuge.
* * *
While Eating an Apple
by Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Vrenlos
I envy all the men who lie
in their shaded hammocks, guiltless,
listening to the leaves recite poetry.
They are the laureled ones
who discover sonnets, gravity, geometry,
lightning rods, microwaves.
And Mrs. Plato - where was she,
bending over the washtub
beating his undergarments with stones?
Was Mrs. Edison's stew praised?
Was she thanked for the endless
wicks she trimmed to keep the candles lit?
Did it matter that Mrs. Freud
made the bed carefully each day
and kept the kitchen floor clean?
Was there no guilt in Newton's mind,
perhaps a hidden equation of inequality
that didn't add up?
Who smoothed the wrinkles of Newton's robe
in the evening
after he sat all day before the crowds
proving the existence of God,
meting out theories
that fell from his lips like apples?
Elizabeth's poetry has been featured in Clementine, Kentucky Review, Scissors and Spackle, and in issues of Poeming Pidgeon, Stories of Music and The Edison Review. Her prize winning chapbook, Special Delivery, was published by Yellow Chair Press in 2016. A Professor Emerita from American University, she has been a singing artist across Europe and the United States.
* * *
The Clean Up
By Bhikshuni Weisbrot
Books, paper plates and utensils,
crayons and counterpart drawings,
hair dryer, brushes, doodads and curlers,
a banana peel carelessly jettied to the headboard. All
this and more my lifestyle,
all this and more in my bed.
At times my mother threatened,
then took to the stairs as if chaos had an aroma,
abandoning herself like a Sufi in ecstatic dance,
our howls of protest unheeded
as she dumped dresser drawers into the derangement’s core.
In the aftermath we waited,
surfaced when she, the eye and
the storm had moved on,
our room a miracle of survival
where everything is uprooted but one small tree
and the cat alive on the branch.
Like rescue workers first at the site of disaster, we
were there to rebuild.
Bhikshuni Weisbrot is President of the United Nations SRC Society of Writers, a U.N. based organization of writers, poets, journalists, diplomats and supporters of the written arts. She is a co-editor of Happiness The Delight-Tree, An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry (2015), and the author of A Sense of Place.