Cuts and Kisses
By Tori Bryl
Asphalt rips apart my skin,
blood running from places you’ve kissed.
Streetlights flicker like
your temper, your smile;
the two come and go
like cars in a parking lot.
Breath comes out of you like a dragon
in the coldness of
the night, your heart.
We are alone in this place,
but it makes no difference–
the world is always short of witnesses.
Tori Bryl is a poet and writer from Florida working towards a BA in English with a minor in Creative Writing. She is currently writing her first novel.
* * *
The Life Part
By Mollie Chandler
I. What the Bed Becomes When You Go
Whale bones except
for strips of purple flesh
that can’t feed anything.
Along the beach,
no longer what you were
and now nothing better,
to dogs and
to the humans we love.
I will brush your hair in the morning
soak it in the morning
and wash it there.
I will do it then.
III. It Wriggles Under my Finger
and tell you
nothing or just
about the body
beneath my finger.
IV. The Nothing Body
wades into a different kind
into that seam where river meets rock.
V. Unsure of How it All Fits Together
and find it doesn’t;
all that’s there, wet:
the life part, rusty
scrap metal for the junk yard.
Mollie Chandler studies poetry in Lesley University's MFA program. She lives, works, drinks coffee, and haunts thrift stores in Boston, Massachusetts. Her work has also been featured in The Charles River Journal, Light, Paradise in Limbo, Poems2Go, and others.
* * *
By Johnson Cheu
Summer evenings, my father taught me chess.
Pawns, rooks, knights, and bishops border
and protect the Queen. Yet, sometimes she’s left
open, vulnerable. Mother bought me a harmonica.
Cover holes with tongue, leaving some open. Blow.
America the free, unlike the regime my parents fled.
New borders, still vulnerable. A vacation to Opryland.
It’s not just Loretta, Hank, Merle, and Minnie I recall,
but Knoxville. Father asking for directions en route.
Motorists rolling up windows, gas station attendants
shutting blinds. Still, folks converged at Opryland
singing of America, bordered, yet borderless.
A Strawberry moon hues this evening, convergence
of Summer Solstice and full moon. A cream and berry
parfait of borders, convergences, just like this America
where Merle croons, if we make it through December, we’ll be fine.
Johnson Cheu’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Family Matters, Screaming Monkeys, and Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. Poems are forthcoming in Chautauqua and Crab Orchard Review. He teaches in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures at Michigan State University.
* * *
When We Begin
By Arya-Francesca Jenkins
He doesn’t thrill at movies so much as the
Mysterious library its
Tight-lipped winding staircases and
Books to the ceiling
Intercepted by dusty light in
He makes love slowly at first
Plucking a book from its shelf
Opening and closing it
Tenderly before returning it
Sure I’ve noticed
On Argos Field
He tears off his tee with
One breezy leap
Grabs the crossbar of a football goal
Gracefully swinging there with my heart
Stealing it that easy
At the movies Shirley McClaine
Breaks down because her daughter’s in pain
I sob and he presses me close
As if the rock of his shoulder
Could smash eventualities--
Will we also leave one another?
I am young the
The road to him is pale and
Languorous and sweet
His blue gaze promises forever
There are no questions in-between
Only liquid silences
Caught breaths as we dive in.
HOMAGE TO ZELDA
By Arya-Francesca Jenkins
She is everything to me
Madness and entropy
The misguided coming home to
Form and kindness
I shape her with my trust
My eyes find her coolness
I warm her with my touch
She is everything
Dance and sea
Words themselves that elude me
Even as I sit concentrating with
My pencil in the wee hours
She is my struggle against drink
Sunrise with its petulant smile
Apocalyptic demands I cannot meet
With or without her
My woman child
Muse in disrepair and wild
My pale medusa of the south
Friend au contraire
Gypsy with a yellow rose between her teeth
We step out of a limousine
I wrap my arms around her
Silk and fur slip away her false advantage
Naked she steps into a fountain
Fleet as a cloud posing
A beautiful pearl that opens
The audience applauds her
I love my pearl
Nestled in my heart pocket
A prayer of a pearl
Brilliant and necessary
Arya F. Jenkins’s poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and zines. Her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. She writes jazz fiction for Jerry Jazz Musician. Poetry is forthcoming in Sinister Wisdom. Her second poetry chapbook, Silence Has A Name, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press.
* * *
By Rich Glinnen
Looking down at the
Left behind by my
And, upon a closer look,
I see millions
Of little hairs
From every part of her--
Corpses strewn amok
A watery grave. And
Then I go in
Souls of the
Form as steam
The prickly pool,
Rich with genocide
Seep into the
Mist as a
And the black mold
Dotting the ceiling
Of round widows,
From the balcony.
Rich Glinnen is a market researcher by day and a writer by night. He enjoys bowling, and drinking red wine with his cats, Hayes, Cleo, and Gizzy, at his home in Bayside, NY. His poesy can be read in the Lakewood House Organ, edited and published by the late Kenneth Warren. His girlfriend calls him Taco.
* * *
By Nate Maxson
So how do old men die so young?
What objects carry them down the river?
Don’t ask me, I’m neither here nor there
Ghosting the borderlands
The “Just Married” sign rusted into a Volkswagen in an old photograph
The space between those white bordered instant Kodaks going extinct, that’s the borderlands
Everyone used to be so happy, is the general idea of these mandatory reflections
That’s what they keep telling me
I don’t remember
There was no wind
I know how they did it
When you weren’t looking
Time stops as soon as you look
Then you can hear the Astroturf churning
Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
* * *
A Lace Star
By Ted McCarthy
Thread upon thread, a whiteness builds;
a bud, a rose, star-points on a bed
that will be velvet when night comes
and this great whorl is unveiled,
a spiral formed in the warmth of supple fingers
curved as if to honour memory.
No pen leaves as sure a tracery.
And at its heart is the first piercing,
light pricking the astonished mind, the pupil’s
jolt into the rush of consciousness
of needlepoint and flow:
a solar haze, ideas, arteries.
By Ted McCarthy
Morning among the silent, solid fields,
hedges hanging white, each breath like mint,
and out of sight and sound, the sea in motion,
water slipping along the sides of ships:
how thin a wall of steel to keep us buoyant,
like tight-held hopes that line our little lives,
fragile as blown glass – that fire-orange basket
where every nuance of a changing sun
is resting in a cool and buckled bowl
as summer is hugged close in cold-pressed soil.
And glass and earth alike are scored; the joy
of making leaves a subtle, errant trail.
The flaws we gave our gods litter the sky.
Our lives are memories of a glimpse of gold.
Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, 'November Wedding', and 'Beverly Downs.'
* * *
By Aftab Yusuf Shaikh
She wanted to know what was
Frustration, and I murmured
to myself, she knows not
what burden it is to feel the
heart beat and yet keep it quiet
lest it may speak out her name.
She had heard insomnia somewhere
some song some place random-where,
and my nights laughed at me which
painfully were spent poisoned
with her thoughts, with the drooping lids
of the biggest culprit of the human body,
the eyes, yes more than the heart,
which though merely is just a pump,
people attribute everything in their lives
despite knowing, it is nothing but what? A Pump.
Helplessness sounded so heavy
on the tongue, she said, and I knew
what that word meant,
because my life which flew like a river
was now a narrow gutter full of bumps
and all because of this tiny
beast of innocence,
I couldn’t say what I wanted to,
just because I was scared people would say
what they wanted.
How funny was the word embarrassed,
she said, jolly faced,
and I said of her, in my heart-
the mole on her cheek,
which she is embarrassed by,
is the centre of my universe.
The Hindi ‘one’ was so strange in English,
‘Right, sir?’ she asked me about ache,
and I thought at that not of the
arthritis I so often hear about,
not of the toothache she had two weeks back,
I merely though of the one in my heart
and how that resident was causing an ache
and how brutally my heart shall break
when she clears her exams and
comes to me with a box of sweets
making it known to me,
I was no longer of use to her.
I taught her the entire English language
and yet kept
the four-letter word out of syllabus.
Aftab Yusuf Shaikh has been writing for more than a decade in English and Urdu. His works have been featured in anthologies around the world including Before We Have Nowhere to Stand and Overplay/Underdone. His works range from haiku and micro-fiction to long serialized poems and ghazals in English.
* * *
The Highest Botanical
By Abel Siemens
I lost my mother to the Persian Gulf.
A wave so high you could eat
The fanning waves as they surrounded you.
The ocean choked her to death.
She was pathetic and beautiful. Her feet had deep roots,
Each cell a meadow and each toe a lark.
In the Persian Gulf there was also
A white-breasted raven, with dark blue wings:
Crowded night wave, engorged abyss full of the dialectic.
Underneath the waves, it would
Part itself, its beak
Opening up to inhale the toxic,
Flowery, ornate fumes of the salt
And minerals. The raven was alive
During my childhood.
One day it flew up out of the waves
And explained all the minors and readings of life.
She gave me an essay on botany, and she called it,
And in it was a dedication,
“To my deceased mother, whom I miss very much”.
Abel Siemens is an undergraduate student currently enrolled at North Idaho College, studying literature and philosophy. In the past, he has been accepted to speak at the Northwest Humanities Conference, which took place on the campus of North Idaho College. His work has been published before in the GNU Literary Journal.
* * *
Red Cape for Sale
By Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas
Veil bright as lipstick
once worn by the lone girl
seeking her grandmother’s
love. Often mistaken for virtue
this cloak screams, SAVE ME,
to heroes and wolves. Could
prove interesting to those
who like to wander through
woods picking begonias.
A promised escapade
awaits you with a happy ending
or closetful of lumberjacks
with good intentions. Please
only reply to this ad if you
enjoy being hoodwinked
and labeled as the innocent
victim. Practice saying things
like, “Oh my, what big eyes
you have” and “nana you look
so strange!” The art of appearing
surprised is equally important
if this cape is used to its full
potential. If you no longer visit
relatives or elderly folk or you
object to a tear in the lining
from a few undisclosed
mishaps you need not apply. Also
interested in trades; poison apples,
red shoes, an emperor’s new suit.
Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is an eight-time Pushcart nominee and four-time Best of the Net nominee. She has authored several chapbooks along with her latest full-length collection of poems, Hasty Notes in No Particular Order, newly released from Aldrich Press. She is the 2012 winner of the Red Ochre Press Chapbook competition with her manuscript Before I Go to Sleep and according to family lore she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson.
* * *
By Leonard Zawadski
in the quiet of a moment’s breath
we sit, examining a yellow leaf; a half-
bare branch; the touch of Autumn’s
aire upon our cheek -- we share the scent
of an exquisite tea, and rest, our mind
at ease / hour-after-hour there, sitting upon
the Earth -- which is not un-like a pillow,
floating from the void, offering to it-
self a meditation // existence of a yellow
leaf; existence of a half-bare branch;
the aire of Autumn, to touch our cheek’s
existence, too -- we imagine a room
softly-lit, floor up-holding a woven
straw mat / its windows of paper, open
to the courtyard: of stones, of well-
groomed space, of quiet ever-greens
as they yearn, and do not yearn // and
so, we expose our-self to be it-self, year-
after-year to be a yellow leaf; a half-bare
branch; the touch of Autumn’s aire
upon our cheek /
Leonard Zawadski is a poet, and he lives in Chicago, IL. Poetry of his appears or is forth-coming in Serpent Club Press’ New Writing, The Literary Nest, Into the Void Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, and several other publications.