Untitled Document

Issue 68


Two Poems
by Subhankar Das


This roof that roof


Each roof is one of a kind.
Not everyone wants to be friends,
some remain as lone lovers.


Like the roof of downtown Kasba
where I took so much care to grow Moss
like my Mudiyali home.
But it never grew up to be that soft lush green
instead they gave me always a stern look.


It will not become a friend like the roof of Mudiyali house
and it will not gather the flying kites searching for a home
for me or allow the wild Nayantara to grow
its flowers in its crevices.
Where the grasshopper can come to play
with my childhood memories.


The low lights of this roof only count hours
for a glass of whiskey and a glass of crystal clear sorcerer.
Maybe remembering that evening
the illusion of uncovered long legs like Greta Garbo
​where the lights slipped and went straight for the heart.


Dictionary


Cannot find my Bengali dictionary
from morning.
It’s not on my messy writing table,
not in the book racks,
even not among the books on the floor.

An annoyance started brewing up.
Did my friend take it?
Last night he was sleeping in my bed
and left the house before dawn
not even waking me up
as I lay on the floor snoring away to glory.

Used Glasses are lying on the floor with me,
empty liquor bottles, greasy chips,
​paper cones and empty cigarette packets.
I cleaned everything up talking to myself
about the possibilities.
When I have given up hope completely
I discovered the red dictionary
wrapped in my bed sheets.


How the hell did he know
I sometimes use a dictionary
instead of a pillow?


Subhankar Das is a writer and publisher living in Kolkata, India. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2013 and has three new chap books of poems out 'Thieves Of The Wind' from Writing Knights, jointly with Catfish McDaris, '66 Lines On your Soul' jointly with Catfish Mcdaris, Kevin Ridgeway out from Graffiti Kolkata and 'Bukowski Smoked Bidis' out from Grandma Moses Press. Also, his poems can be found in these Anthologies 'NOIR: Erasure Poetry Anthology' Silver Birch Press December 2013, MAY POETRY ANTHOLOGY Silver Birch Press June 2014,CHARLES BUKOWSKI ERASURE POETRY ANTHOLOGY Silver Birch Press Auguat 2014, 2014 Anthology. Writing Knights Press, Cleveland,OH, 2015 Hessler Street Fair Poetry Anthology.


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Four Poems
by Steven Perchikov


Meditations on Mayhem


I’m an inferno running up the walls like a hedgehog
Oh how I’d like to bite into a thigh right now!


And that’s really just the start of it, I’m a party monster!
I’d gladly leave all the ginseng tea in China and India


And trade it for a rocks glass filled with whiskey, a flower
shirt and flapjacks of women with black curls and tiny waists


Give me a ginger beer and rum, giggling girls in daisy dukes
side boob, bottom boob and classic boob too


Summer dresses, house music, banter about avocados,
mashups, grape jokes that are berry bananas because


I have the sun in my pocket, the devil in my pouch
and I’m young again.


Bundt Cake with Dalí


Life is neon pink like laffy taffy,
​And her skin's an almond milk tongue, I want to butterfly it


The feather in her ear tickles geese down, quack! quack!
quack!


And his goatee is a bowl of oatmeal, a mound of dirt in the
desert sun, a kiddie pool of pine and a burning bush


We sit on the sweeping robe of Ceaser, the cowlick of Loki,
the bouncy boingy board of Neptune!


Kardashian Koan


he was losing weight like styrofoam
(and his obsession with his looks
​were as healthy for the planet too)


let’s just say huge egos aren't
biodegradable and have the
half-life of plutonium, something


every monk knows who's ever taken
the time to chip away at their Not-
Self (of which a much fewer


number succeeded than you
may think) making burlap sacks,
shaved heads and baggy robes


as much of a fashion statement
as Kim Kardashian’s see through
mesh dress, all hail the sound of


one butt cheek clapping!


Stamps of Stalin


When my father was a child
He collected stamps
Tiny portraits of Lenin, locomotives
​And cosmonauts blasting off first
Flora and fauna like the mushroom, the bear and the worker
Comrades in Egypt, Cuba and Vietnam our
Anti-imperialist brothers
Laying brick


He kept them in a rich red book
The sheets were thick and yellowed
The pictures antiquated and
My father smiled when he thumbed through the pages


Like him
I collect stamps too
Tiny portraits of knives slicing into melons,
The bar light’s glow on a golden ring and
The angle of her hips
When she called me over


Steven Perchikov was born in the Soviet Union and raised in NY. The polarity of these worlds has led to exploratory themes of identity, liminality and the sacred spaces that resolve all paradox. Currently he resides in Brooklyn where he sips hard apple cider, practices jujitsu and works at a tech startup.



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Three Poems
by Brett Hymes


String Theory
 
A friend from high school strung a guitar
string around his neck
during our last semester.
There was no note,
only the indecipherable background noise
of conversations caught in orbit.


I was taught to believe only stars collapse,
as the gravity becomes too overwhelming for their massive body.


Maybe he didn’t have the correct form,
and needed to tether the particles of himself
become nickel wound vibrato.

Scientists believe dark matter
to be harmless,
only affecting the gravitational pull
of bodies around it.

He once told me that black holes
exist as the gateway to uncertainty,
in the space between the pause
for a decision.

I heard him
one slow loaded night
in the disambiguation
I asked who will play him
at the funeral
In the beginning I was leg
cast into body & taught
movement.


Learning

In the beginning I was tongue
pulled out of mouth to learn
formation. My first word:
reluctance. I bellowed in ignorance
& defiance against teeth,
their constriction.

In the beginning I was pain
before speech became constant
& flooded regions until limp.

In the beginning there was working
father, mother met man with a ponytail—
Skip.

In the beginning there was negligence
& I became ward, until plea
bargain. My parents learned
supervision, could not be left alone
with them.

In the beginning there was erasure,
the six months, of no spoken word
for my grandparents
who held on to me while I relearned crawl.

In the beginning I relearned to crawl
after my parents, thought
my bones were strong
enough to finally hold me.

Childhood


I remember losing a parent
every two weeks,
to different childhoods.


One as drawings of mothers I imagined
to be my own
whose bodies were sticks
& their faces were all the same
but not like mine
when time was scheduled
& lost to significant
others


One as the schism,
my body thought
was the hunger
for permanence.


One as my father,
his second childhood,
my eldest monster
was birthed
in his parents’ house.


I remember the first year of separation
as unknown guilt
for my brittle bones
& how it took three breaks
to end a family.


Brett Hymes lives in Los Angeles and writes from an area of personal experience and grand narratives, trying to navigate the existential demands that plague the body and mind.


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Three Poems
by Keith Moul


Hercule Poirot
 
Around him heap countless lies.  Even tortured truth will at first confound.
How deny what the book ajar confirms?  Which cup contained residual leaves?
Which two of nine suspects could not endure the Belgian fabric’s loose end?
Hercule’s concentric deductions circle to concatenate surprises of his mind.
He concludes the count a swindler.  Identified and caught so, unshackled,
the count, tailed by Detective Chief Inspector Japp, walks meekly ahead, to gaol.
 
When I eat, which I must to survive, I chew on English servility to truth.
 
In a Hard Dream
 
Waking, I hear rushing away an almost known voice.
I hear my father, Ralph, who could bark, but rarely,
start his loud diesel truck, scatter gravel and leave
for Memphis on his regular run, but he is dead now
twenty-five years (perverse silence): his is not the voice.
 
Often in dreams I am visited by his father, Grandpa Jim,
deft with chisel and Wisconsin stone for monuments when
builders featured cut stone to embellish more than real need.
 
Although Grandpa Jim could rant at the “ornery” ways of men,
he rarely spoke above a raspy whisper.  Jim is dead fifty years,
that I would not vouch for his voice: his is not the voice I hear.
 
I conjure these men’s last days to find a likely source of counsel:
 
one day in St. Louis, without attendance, dad died disinterested,
fatally ill, but mostly overwhelmed by angst and failed marriage.
He maneuvered his truck over scripted terrain, in command, but
without a subordinate, perhaps singing falsetto, but I doubt it.
He fought a Pacific war, starting on top, but often swept below
huge swells, dogpaddling after life and certain entitlements, but
not to salvation beneath the public address, nor otherwise significant.
His doctors, his nurses, monitored his going among hospital gong.
 
Grandpa Jim had sharpened his tools and hung them neatly oiled
on his cool basement wall, carved and fitted stone quarried near Lodi.
Stones in or out of a quarry may chorus together, but do not speak.
Jim later sat in a second story hallway outside an apartment, with door
and windows open for cross-ventilation; he too not otherwise significant.
 
Dad wrote a war journal to his wife, who found him otherwise insignificant.
 
Perhaps in his final delirium, dad called upon his father Jim for help
and the voice I hear are confused, receding words of my own delirium
as fine, even as true as can be expected late in life in a hard dream.
 
The Loss of First Occasions
 
Witnessed by others, I have cached words in remote public places.
Based solely on my own assessment, some words today seem sure.
Reliable as my witnesses may have been for their time and place,
many among them have passed by, taking their share of assurance,
merely spoken assurance, with them.  I cannot be wholly certain
that real voices blessed real words over my efforts, or caricatures
in league with puppets in the adventure of grand literary ambition.
Perry, Tom, Cameron, David, Joan I confidently believe are real.
 
Historians of every bent peculiar, record as faithfully the painful births
of poems and the more painful deaths of witnesses to history; ideas first
chiseled in stone; fiery lava erupted down a mountain; stone wheels
to grind the wheat; prophets; kings, queens, and particularly warriors.
 
And although revising phrases and substituting more felicitous words
keeps me warm, feeds me bread, rules me, tempts me to prophesy,
I regret the loss of first occasions, those seconds of only once events,
the enforced closing of sympathetic eyes and ready, supportive ayes


that mingle among comings and goings I hadn’t expected to witness.


Keith Moul's poems and photos are published widely.  Finishing Line Press released a chap called The Future as a Picnic Lunch in 2015.


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Four Poems
by A.J. Huffman


Expectedly Invisible
 
you say to her as she runs behind you,
but she gives harmony at this speed—
and that woman who forgets you
is a new obvious enemy, standing upright
on your own floor, contrary to your imagination,
and disregards your charm with ease.
You sit adjacent to her,
and she cries out, as if in
internal argument until chaos settles around you.
Explicit and blazing,
she acknowledges the cowardice
quivering inside you,
and your reaction would not be different
if she were to touch
your foot or your back, your hair or your arm,
the spoken thoughts on her tongue
already allude to absence.
 
Her feet walk on your concealed hands
and lower them from the sky,
two feet joining your wrists,
toes on elbows.
As nothing stays tangible, you are
released behind your own back.
She leans closer toward your chair-shape,
rejects how hard her release echoes
against your skin,
and she knows that if you tried
to fall into her embrace,
she would consume with little effort.
You believe she would not.
 
She looks at you, pouting, inquires
“You wouldn’t give me these hands?”
an almost-poetic way of mocking—
because she hasn’t felt this masculine
in minutes, and you’re pouting too.
You smile back, a construction worker’s smirk
at this old ghost of an enemy,
and you tell her you refuse.
And you relax as you lean closer.
 
You feel normal,
just for a moment.
You misunderstand her stare
until she crushes your fingers
into the wall behind you,
but she may as well still be ignoring you.
She feels as weak against your body
as the floor dissolving beneath you.
After seconds of silence,
this is where you are:  somewhere else.
Her hand fluttering away from your arm
and your green desire—beyond unwelcome—
a bulldozer of tongue and words.


from Shark this Flight

Looking up from the ocean floor, the sun
is a halo of light, waving in shadow.  As I lie
prone against submerged sand, it begins
to resemble moon.  I can hear the echo
of my breath against scuba mask, labored
and hollow I imagine it the same inside space-
suit helmet.  Suddenly I am astronaut,
floating through stars.  Without tether, I am free
to wander the universe, embrace the dangers
of celestial depths.  A sudden disturbance rises. 
A different shade of darkness forms, a meteor
shower, an astral cloud gains speed, solidifies.
A beastly ship growls above me.  A great white
cosmic 747 glides by.  I watch its ripples expand
as it passes overhead, exhale in relief that I was nothing
more than a temporary blip on its radar screen.


I Am Two

different shoes on the same
pair of feet.  The right me is weathered
combat boot.  Exterior, tough, but
slightly damaged, still holds the appearance
of being battle-ready, though
my sole has always been more about fashion
than function.  I spend most of my time,
untied, discarded at the side
of a nightmare’s bed.  I have too many holes
unused, eyes that cannot unsee
the path I have been dragged through.

The other me is princess-glass stiletto,
dust-covered and locked in backlit display
case.  I am trophy, designation of captured
magic, too breakable to survive
the corrosive ground of everyday
life.  I am kept safe from air
that might move me, anywhere
outside of a dominating reach.  I am stuck,
waiting for a fairy godmother
to deem me useful, needed once again,
but another midnight chimes, then another,
bringing nothing but my memories
of past steps, the echo of unlocked.


Objects in the Rearview Mirror

did not get there by accident
they are usually rocket-launched
at incalculable speeds by fists
restrained from finding more
appropriate targets

are breadcrumbs glittering like broken
diamonds’ wisdoms gleaned
from forays down foolish
paths nobody can believe
got taken

hover like space junk slowly
disintegrating reminders of
trespass these pieces of past
point accusingly shame-fed forward
progression one
eye always on the lookout
for collision with oncoming contact
with past regret


A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and amazon.com.  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2500 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.


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Three Poems
by Cait Winterbauer


7:14 a.m. 2:53 p.m. 9:27 p.m. 3:18 a.m.


I am speculating
Entirely regarding the skin
I can't keep around my fingernails.
I’m anxious to pull,
To suck blood into my mouth;
Cradling platelets between my teeth
Like the child I’ll never know.
Embarrassing my mother,
Losing sympathy for the woman
Who got hit in the mouth,
I cannot keep still without crossing my arms.
That’s what the skin does.
I don’t want to read to you.
I don’t want you to love me in halves.
Understand I feel myself reduced
By the way your hair cascades to your clavicle.
Sometimes that small happiness
Swells into a big happiness
And life doesn’t seem futile.
Until I look down at the cuticle
To find myself wanting.


Taping Up A Windshield


Do you ever
Never
Not enough
Miss my lips
Kiss my teeth instead
The word is love
So love me
Eagerly
With vigor on your breath


Items To Look For


I’ve spent my last twenty
Dollars
Years
On my drug addled lover


I need a nice, shiny bunk bed
So those who have ruined me downstairs
And tested my patience
Can fall asleep upstairs


I’ve spent the last ten
Minutes
Ounces
Explaining this to you


Don’t you get it?
I need this more than you


Cait Winterbauer is a poet living in a haunted house somewhere in Illinois; so essentially a Stephen King plot. She lives with two of her best friends and her super scary pitbull named Dobby. Cait draws inspiration from her girlfriend's smile, Bobby Bolt III, and perfectly buttered toast. This is her first published work. 


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The bald singer
by TS Hidalgo


That afternoon I was,
entertaining the guests’ table talk,
at the outdoor café of a bistro
in southern Spain,
up on top of the bar,
singing La cabra
(I’d like to think moving
to the beat of the verse
and to most people’s liking).
With white Real Madrid socks,
that I bought at the official store
of La Esquina del Bernabéu,
and La Legion sweatpants
as my only dress,
showing off my biceps and six-pack.
I held a brown Brogue shoe, with tassels,
in my hands,
shivering slightly.
The place was almost full:
it was the town’s patron saint festivities.
Then a relatively large group
of a bullfighters team,
dog,
and a pair of policemen
walked into the bar.
The town fool accompanied them,
who immediately made to climb up, frightened
(the metamorphosis of the masses had already begun),
special witness,
on to the patrol car:
All for the fatherland.
The men in blue urged me, cap in hand,
to get down
(mentioning, somewhat heated,
repeatedly the most Holy,
after a third try in vain),
as they insisted on putting
the other pair on my left food.
Spoiling, incidentally,
the conduct the entire time.
A third-party, indeed the commanding officer of both,
who’d been there since the beginning,
continued to get drunk
at the back
(he was already on his tenth balloon glass).
At a particular moment in time, the boss of the men in blue
appeased his men, and
(principle of due obedience...),
immediately afterwards, and now face to face,
we began implementing with no problem ideas
for the purpose of hogging the camera.
He was quicker than I in the media realm,
after climbing up on the other end of the same bar,
reciting theater of the absurd,
in machine language?,
maybe,
so I decided to counteract
and turn the center of gravity
definitively towards me
in reference to the group’s attention:
just continuing to sing
didn’t get me as far as I’d hoped,
so, long live Belgium,
and I drink Belgium,
I saw myself living tenths after
like a punk,
like the Sex Pistols:
a toxic and fast life.
That is,
driving my snake to the wind:
leaving my huge footprint
from the stage to the auditorium
in a singular parabola
of pendulant axis of departure,
watering by sprinkling: golden shower.
I wanted to reach all of you drop by drop.
Finally they turned their backs on him:
now everyone comes to me
without leaving the frame.
But by then we were already surrounded, both of us,
by Rhinoceroses.
Ora pro nobis


TS Hidalgo (43) holds a BBA (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), a MBA (IE Business School), a Master in Creative Writing (Hotel Kafka) and a Certificate in Management and the Arts (New York University). His works have been published in magazines like, among others, Otoliths, By&By, Poems-For-All, Clementine, The Unrorean, Alien Mouth. Haggard&Halloo, Trascendent Zero and Crack the Spine, and has been winner of prizes like Criaturas feroces (Editorial Destino), AIDA Books and Pandora Magazine in short story or finalist at Festival Eñe in novel. He has developed his career in finance and stock-market.   


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Five Poems
by Holly Day


When They Go
 
I open my arms and call my children to me, remind them
that nothing bad ever happens so long as I’m holding them.
My daughter wrinkles her nose at me and rolls her eyes, my son
just ignores me and walks away. I am no longer regarded as sanctuary
a bulwark against precocious misery and frustration, they don’t need me at all.
I close my arms, wrap myself in an empty embrace
 
dream of being the sort of mother children flock to unquestioningly
a fish mother who opens her maw to engulf hordes of trusting fry
a scorpion mother carrying her ravenous children across the hot desert
a snake mother nested in a knot of wriggling coils of tiny tails and teeth
all of these things but what I am: incomplete without a tiny hand in mine
a sweaty head pressed against my chest, the constant need that only I can fulfill.


The Spider in the Funeral Parlor

The spider does not recognize the woman as human
as it crawls across her stiff, starched collar
en route to the dark corner of the open coffin. There is nothing here
that would tell it that this is a person, no warmth
emanating from her flesh, no pulse beneath the pale, white skin
no blood. The spider might as well be crawling over
the folded hands of a marble statue, the still chest
of a toppled goliath, a jumble of broken doll parts.

If the spider were to recognize the woman
as such, would it surmise that her blood had been removed
by something like itself, some massive creature that drained blood
from its victims, replacing all bodily fluids with corrosive liquid
leaving the outer shell of the corpse to fade in on itself
slowly, as though collapsed by a slow leak or a steady hand?
And would our little spider fear this creature that could drain
something as large as this dead woman, would it
look elsewhere than the coffin for a safe place for its web
perhaps continue on to the far corner of the chapel instead?

The Rite of Exploration

You make me want to drill holes in my skull
wrap wires around my brain, sink drill bits and fingertips into
my body, map the lace of fine blood vessels
with radioactive dyes, trace my skeleton through my skin
with melted solder and #2 pencils
dig a place inside me for you to curl up and sleep
never leave. I want you to have it all:

my skin to wrap in a sheet around your shoulders
or around your waist when you step out of the bath
my skull and pelvis to prop open the door
when you need to bring new furniture into the house
fingers and toes to shim under wobbly table legs and chairs
the rest of my blood to stain the floor more evenly
to match the spot on the wood where I fell.

At the Stop

I take the dog out to the bus stop to wait
For my daughter to come home from school. One of the other mothers
Has driven to the bus stop, and she sits in her car with the windows rolled up
Maybe she’s listening to music, or just enjoying the quiet.

The dog starts digging at something and I push at her with my foot
Make her stop, this isn’t her yard. She sits down and wags her tail
Pushes against my leg for comfort. I pet her large, blocky head
Tell her the bus is coming soon.

I look up and see the woman in the car
Is watching me, I think. She’s wearing mirrored sunglasses
And I can’t tell if she’s watching me or just fallen asleep
Her head pressed against the window, jaw slightly open as though
Something I’m doing is really interesting, or maybe
She’s just slipped into a coma or she’s dead.

The school bus pulls up and I wait to see if the woman moves
If I have to carefully walk her daughter to the car to see what’s wrong
If I have to brace her little girl with the horrible news that her mother
Has just died, right there, sitting in the car while waiting for her to come home.
And how wonderful would that be, I think, as I see the woman straighten up
Unlock the doors of her car with a noisy “click,” to say

You were such a devoted mother that even though you knew
Deep in your heart that something was physically wrong, that you
Should probably go to the doctor instead of the bus stop, that even so
You still drove your car the two blocks to the bus stop to wait
For the bus to pull up and end your day.


The Day the Leaves Started to Change

The bird flutters into the church like some sort of portent
disturbs the service with a flurry of feathers. It would be nice
if it was a dove, or some brilliant, golden, phoenix-type of bird
but it’s just a sparrow come in from the cold.

The preacher waits until the bird has settled before continuing on
with his speech, but he is distracted. Every time the bird
moves to another corner of the church, he instinctively covers the top
of his bald head with one robed arm as if
too used to having birds shit on him

while flying overhead.


Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and The Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.


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Four Poems
by Madha Bataineh


Weirdlings


the monochrome body of an Alaskan murre washed ashore, she the
fly diver termed doorway wing of water down


in search of mirrors or meals
the warmer ocean years
block rattle shake of the food-shifting ear chains
plot the data of beginnings
humpback whales lingering on high notes across local lines
wiping the toxic algae that surges with arush towards crime
scenes, the death of the carnivorous sea otters, fur fading thick
‘global weirdings’ to file
bags and dead birds, see the cold-cut carcass
carried off by an eagle
who scatters bits into back
yards and parking
lots


she will continue to wash ashore
as the days lengthen into Spring


The Light Workers of Amman


The concrete ground cracked open city hall and we wondered whether falling
in would be the paper path, to build and sculpt the emotive structures
from inside out
from foundations  up
from bones of land and body and mines,   to  stretches  of rooftop minds and high
a s k y-c l o s e  sound, a light geometry, vibration of the unknown mass
budding affinities    crepuscular and spiraling
like a procession a litany of wildness
an oration of the corybantic cell (unpeeled and rib cage charged with spark) holy perfume that flutters round and round the circle      twelve hundred eyes precious like
diamonds        dreaming up the Movement of Okay. Things will be
okay. The air will clear.
Rooms fill with phosphorescence and luminescence, and wild is the healing
word of the day        ghosts in the streets have folded their sheets
for this,   baring chests made of ether     timber strong but laced in silk
survival against the odds                figure-skating hills in petals
worn like wool      fireplace of tender is the morning, and the night sincere
in this bus route chime of time progressive
rumbling like the flowerheads
hear the sound    of giants   trailing
an ancient swallow   beyond the intricacies of   this     or  
that   breathing in the purest              light
these hills will give


Ferocity


There is talk about the climb-mat , the swirl-city
sensation of calculating emissions, droughts, and despair
flash flood the brainstorm of our cyclone, this here wild
city love storm or  the   rising immunity of   seas

note how coastal areas are losing touch with their mangrove hearts
and wind-bundles off bridges, limbs, islands wiped clean
(we have aversions for this sort of cleanliness, though we like to reboot)

is it the earth that is rumbling and rough or our breath that is a scolding pie?

in earphones and fedoras, we gather to voice our writtens,
ride our voices on air, knock kites on podium edges, words
chatter and press when my sister senses assess the site
of shoes in bullet trends outside the concrete nests, hands pained
with gutter and greed’s rustic shiver, beggars wondering

who is the poorest of us all?

like terror knows love, our climate has an affinity for borders
resists human chains that peal walls off factory visions
off minted economies and furry finances for finds of renewable energy and sleep, OM
the past digging down, OM, shovel of red wine and the winking leather of eyes
OM balancing coins on a fire pole, OM reading the cold climate of warmer lakes
car swallows    of    heat and sun         in the dark we sing
a radioactive hunger, our oxygen farms and mulled answers,  let it pass by saying

I’m just brewing in the atmosphere
and you ain’t shy about asking me to disappear
in all this talk on climate so slippery as fear

How are you fearing today?
How is fear treating you?

I am wearing away the glaciers says a circular, lethargic, globe.
Incremental. Capital lights. Highway trucks towards
the bureau of statistics        dying to know the frequency,
to host a show on how the air in the metropolis
(or poetry)        carries these delicate matters


Portrait of an Imaginary Valentine

“Amatory style,” he read
what a concept! Who Are you? What is
Your amatory style? How do you love? 

I am, romantically, my empyrean friend
a lexicographer with sleeves hemmed in oceans of sentence blue
ink on woodfloats sailing to Xanadu. Strokes are waves are a grounded
format, a floating book of whales and smoking eels, these
hungry iceberg eyes, this branching brinicle of kisses,
lay the young reckless metaphors of orcas and seals at my shores and
I
fumble;
don’t wear a fisherman’s frothed jacket or color the sky
in dark shadow and blush or petroleum-line the coast; unseal,
unlock the genius tickle of your frost-flower mind,
state the grand rogue wave, envision the storm, introduce yourself as the Compass Tsunami—dreamscape of a logophile—and listen always for the soft calms that follow

your lips sail the etymology of high summer tide, tasting of the salty breeze
my limbs become a singing sway of letters , a landing
stretch for holy sailors as the horizon melts its colors onto the page
as I learn the fullness and large of this boat of a heart—

My amatory style is bioluminescence in the windy meeting
of the Baltic and Northern
Seas.                The January I was born
was opportune, it flew out the window
like an albatross, e  y  e  s  unsure what shore
they were meant to reach, except always
more free, an outward opening of sky
onto
the
you,
dear reader,
late at night when the stars are at their best.


Madha Bataineh is a student in the part-time creative writing masters at Oxford, currently working on a book about a society of women explorers from the 1920s but also dabbling with poetry most recently along the streams of things worth loving.


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Two Poems
by Jonathan Fischer


Barracuda Delight

A flat horizon
now raises its plank 
through 
vertical sun dried 
billows,
peeking halfway
through the layers of the piebald 
sun.
Delicately unraveling — patterned string from yarn,
you reach with densely tactile 
pricks; 
arms length 
into the Barracudas home.
Two feet nailed to the wood
and a tug on the nape of 
the beast leaves you out of breath.
Gasping; you lean on the pier; appearing
dough eyed,
plucked like a seam.
Knelt down looming, you 
jump
to the flush wayside, 
rooting it’s flesh underneath 
sunlit quarters.


Into Bloom


Able-bodied voyager 
I’ve seen you many a time;
you are the smokescreen 
hushing the silence of
air, masking 
the taut wrists that rose —
budding under an autumn bloom.


Pulsing, vacating,
relocating venom; 
circulating 1.5 gallons
of cherry gummed 
blood. 


Able-bodied serpent
I’ve met you under 
many a moon;
bolstered by swaths of microseconds,
seeped through nanoplancks
that blossom from a 
grandfather, wood, 
clock.


Swaying underneath
fog lit sunsets, you glance 
towards crumbling mountains, 
burnt by jaundiced sun.
Lungs inhaling, 
you are unfurling each breadth 
of sleeping time, now eternally
rotting the Able-bodied.


Jonathan Fischer bio coming soon.


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Three Poems
by Bhupender K Bhardwaj


Ebullience
 
This path which has remained
Undisturbed by the course
Of civilization; with its boulders—
Ancient prehistoric eggs beaming at you—
 
Zigzags down to the center
Of your heart straightway.
Dropping its altitude steadily,
It works its way through
 
The thorny bushes, congress grass
And lemon trees and lands you
In the folded palm of the earth
Which is this vaporous valley
 
That sings with the sacrifice of
Its soldiers who keep perishing
Of harshness and its farmers who
Gaily break their backs in the fields.
 
Here, where wheat stalks sway in
The sun of noon and bees thrum
Lazily, if you look closely at the
Wooden ploughshare ranged against
 
The furrowed field, between the initials
Deeply imprinted on its worn-out handle
Your grandfather’s spirit oscillating with
Ebullience can be clearly discerned.


The Zone

To be away from the fenced-in ventilated mental space you call yours,
To be distanced from the shuttered shops, the cobblestones of the street
And the blue meditating between the gabled houses is to be in painful exile.

Removed become the routines that like a cave used to shelter you from the
Cruel jabs disappointments gave. Earlier, the white of milk in the hollow of
The glass used to mimic cosmos and your German shepherd lapping up water
From its customary bowl pleased you no end. The evening strolls along
The shaded avenues always took you one step closer to enlightenment.
The world was one gigantic jigsaw puzzle; open to interpretation whose pieces
Would fit in anyway, after the slightest effort.

To relocate elsewhere, even if for a day made the hammer of absurdity
Come crashing down on your head and the boy within would
Withdraw— a snail into its coiled shell.


Winter Afternoons

Winter afternoons are terrific for their trademark light which honeys down
Into every inch of space between you and the objects, for the fluttering
Of worn-out flags rippling from the masts erected on the ramparts of
The colonial sports club. They drum up the coppery leaves in the living room
Of the splayed forest into a broadening music which hypnotizes you within
The parenthesis of your bony skull. At this hour when shadows don’t want
To depart from their owners, the balding hills with their hutments appear afloat
In mid-air lost in the maze of siesta. The smells of roasted capsicum which bring
Greetings to weariness and the vision of tragic goats ambling along the undulating
Ridges sum up the essence of kindness.

The sunrays singeing your skin with patience instill faith in you
Despite the innumerable cul-de-sacs your fate pushed you into.


Bhupender K Bhardwaj is an IRTS officer, 27 years of age working with Ministry of Railways, Government of India. He stays in the city of Thane, a suburb of Mumbai, in India. He has been composing poetry since the last few years. His influences are Derek Walcott, Charles Simic and Seamus Heaney. Also, he was recently longlisted for The Toto Awards for Creative Writing 2016 in the Poetry category. 


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Four Poems
by Ross Destiche


Junebug


why is it
the summers hold me so tight?


a fleck of salted water
on my tongue
like butter on corn


or the smell of firewood
splintered, burning


s’mores roasted to perfection
against the midnight lake
in the heat of starlight


the stench of sweat & wind
make the june bugs fly
and once-young flesh
stirs and stretches
wishes and yearns
for something better
than a blonde mistake of whiskey
to wake up next to


Roberta


It’s like those gurus
who walk across hot cinders
and coals without screaming
I was not numb
to the grief or the pain
but it grew calmer
an engulfing white noise
softened the flames
and showed me the truth
for all her bluster
and decades of care
she was just a small child
in a department store
howling for love
as the lights went out
one by one


Yosemite


I remember a childhood of
chasing giant turtles


through red mud and grass
In a Midwestern house where


the smell of fresh Windex
and wet leaves hung in the air


and Irish pop songs sailed
from my mother’s tongue


sharp and warm
like the pink fiberglass


that lined our attic
to keep in the cold sun


Lost Boys


There’s mold on the curtain
And the room smells of sick
Remnants of a vile man
Doing vile things
To those he barely knows
But this one girl sticks around
After the fact
He remembers the night
They climbed into bed
Blue in the moonlight
She pulled off his covers and laid on his chest
He knew she can do better
But they’d never grow up
Without mistakes
So he grew inside her
To find this unweeded forest
Of boxes and swings
Turn to whiskey and smoke


Like losing your way
In the woods
In the nighttime
Where flags have been torn
And there’s no way home
Not even by the stars


Ross Destiche is an actor & poet living in the Washington DC area.


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Five Poems
by Rain Bethel-Cooper


The Bandit!


Truly a strain from the divine. Yes it was amazing
Used love to rob them blind...


Reeking of passion allowing him to kiss his bitch while he laid the rest of them inside their open
caskets every time.....


With eyes that bloom drawing him closer to you like maganetz.


He arrives during the night you know when it's completely pitch black.


Not in plain sight and without a track...


The bandit! The bandit!
has finally been caught red handed.


From dusk until dawn I remember your theft.
Ripped it from my chest you even forgot the bandage...


Y


Where I'm from corner stores have bullet proof windows and gated doors,
No need for potency here, you can catch a contact off of the gunpowder.


So ....You live by the gun you and die by the gun.
But I don't think that they understand
their loyalty reciprocates in bullets.


They grasp weapons as easy to hold hands.
To my generation I ask Y? Why do we rather death by man?
I mean but then again who dies of natural causes these days?


Everyday a soilder is lost on corners.
Blocks breaking borders.
Ambitious ghetto dreams, teens scream
but'its by any means as long as'its about that cream.


So in their mind its "F*!#k a 9 to 5" dream and achieve this american scheme.


Know it aint easy and it's cracked up to be exactly what it seems.
Reality is your perception.
Can you beat the steam from that heat?


Oh the american scheme.


OOoopps
I meant the american dream....


It's so sad to see the ones that fell. The ones who dwell.
The ones who cant tell life's bigger than buffalo.
I guess the snow makes us too cold. Forever juggin' like them city hoes. our hearts are cast of
stone. No.... no one across the globe knows these souls


Occupying your mind. The truth you'll never find.


Nobody Knows


Nobody Knows


QuickSand


So he was in it,


Like quicksand,


Stumbled and slipped in...... sinked in...... and kept sinkin', Without thinkin'............


cuz he always faced great temptation
with forbidden fruit around You cant look but dont touch
a rule you shouldn't break.


Instead he pained and ached for the bad girls.


He would give in because in his ear they sang such sweet sounds.


Succulent skin in golden crowns..


Gracefully shimmy with boobies jiggling.


Dancing very proud ‘even in their lace gowns


He loves whistling at the bad girls
showing their racks
Twerking their backs
Dippig it low
All the booties slappin the flo'
Yes, that's it thats it ! Thats why he likes it


because he knows she feels trapped inside her body.
the image of the modern society burned in her brain.

But the zanies always numb the pain.


But he must of had some type of sensitive side


Just so fiercly loved the bad girls.


Addicted to'em like heroine.


The beauty of their skin. Her tears fierce enough to cue the violins.


Because he fakes it so well playing make pretend,


Like she's the apple of his eye
Like he doesn't know about him rotting her to the core inside
but all along, he's far too aware
it's just a slow descend
as she crumples, and bends


He erects and wins.


snow must'ov lost its glitter


At war with my own mind. I'm my own prisoner keep myself confined


Going completely insane feeling despair and pain.


I used to wish for an open window but then I realized nothing could save me. Not even open air.


Nobody was safe cant even claim freedom from free space.


It is painful for those locked away. Being tortured watching joy, love, and happiness that's the debt you'll pay.


Weakness withering you bitter. Tasting just like winter the snow must'ov lost its glitter.


There are endless rules to ad-hear, If you breach whats expected you had better beware.


Regular routine is the key. Never unveil that your not what you are pretending to be. Fake it til
you make it. Show them who they want to see.


Lock this all up inside of you, no matter how poorly it holds. You must lookout for your doubts
or they'll conquer you and swallow you whole.


Just to prove you that I'm here, tears tremble down my face serving as souvenirs. Living my
dreams stitching the tears within my seams..


Is it possible to expect to grow with a time bomb ticking inside? Can I figure how to defuse it
without destroying it's ride?


If not end my journey now instead of disappointing myself another minute. At least I'll be safe
from digits and statistics.


Killing everything that is uniquely you is it really worth it to risk it?


Flaw


What it means when it's daytime but it's actually dark outside.


Them telling us how we should look, what we should eat, what color our skin should be


what we should say, how our hair should lay


the clothes on our backs even the shoes on your feet

how we should act and who we should be


what we should buy and etc.


We spend our entire lives fighting to be the image of perfection. But I think flaws are what make us
perfect because they make us human,


embracing our flaws make us individuals.


You are remembered for the laws you break not the ones you follow.


Rain Bethel-Cooper was born in 1993 in Buffalo, NY. Rain began writing in 1999. She done a lot of her early art work at Locust Street Neighborhood Art Classes. Her inspiration for writing came from watching the staff at Locust Street Art write grants. That's when she realized "writing gave you the power of voice!" Her first poetry performance was at Em Tea Coffee Cup Café. Since then she has performed for Just Buffalo at Klienhans Music Hall, El Museo, Locust Street Art , The Colored Musicians Club, Roswell Park Performance Hall, McKinley High School "Spread The Love, Keep The Peace Memorial, Shea’s Smith Theater, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Pure Ink Poetry L.I.P.s show, TrinityYouth Poetry Jam, SOY (Spotlight On Youth) and the Science Museum. She has performed along side great poets such as Li Yung-Lee, Lucile Clifton, and N'tare Ali Gault. And is also a former Njozi Poet!


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Three Poems
by Gil Hoy


Order
 
In Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, when I was in the third grade,
I often trekked to my best friend's home up the street,
a backpack of books strapped to my small growing back.


We flipped through pages and pages then, in a quiet little study
in a remote corner on the third floor of his red brick house.
When it was winter, and the light got dark early, the glow


From flickering red and orange fireplace flames
illuminated the library’s russet wood walls---like a solemn Friends
meeting house. My friend’s mother oftentimes would set out


Whole white milk and chocolate chip cookies for us to eat.
They looked like planets of dirt and black tinted rocks circling
two white stars.  She was always so kind and so warm. 


Planet earth is a sky blue marble with white swirls
from the cratered sterile rock of the moon, so pretty
and elegant. The better the tale, the more you didn’t 


Want your book to end.  You turn the pages and start with chapter
one. If there were twenty, by the time you got to ten or so,
you were tormented by the prospect of finishing. 


And the pages went by so fast then, like a speeding bus 
you run after but miss, and you knew that the end was coming, 
like the last bite of a favorite meal. It came to me on one of those


Unspeaking silent afternoons that my death was much
the same as my book, and that I was on chapter four. That vision
jerked my head into pieces, like a jigsaw puzzle


Falling off of a dining room table. But I wasn’t worried because
there was still such a long way to go---although the words and the pages
seemed different then, each page a whole day nearer, as what


Remained of the unread pages grew thinner and thinner.
Today, I am almost sixty. My angst is different now. I read about
ISIS and murders in Paris and San Bernardino. I listen to a grayer


Black President talk about protecting the American homeland,
gun control, climate change threatening to destroy the world
and medical care for the poor. I listen to roguish political


Candidates say what they think you want to hear because 
it’s politically expedient, rather than do the country’s business. 
You grow weary of hearing grown men lie, and you come to doubt


Our institutions and the law---no polish can remove such a
steadfast stain. I wonder now if the world can survive its woes,
and whether the grandchildren of my grandchildren will even get here.


Perhaps a nuclear holocaust with just too many missiles, countries and
hatred for the world ever to recover, or a pretty colorful solar storm,
much more powerful and destructive than the one in 1859.

Maybe global warming overflowing rising seas, disobedient armies 
of self-preserving computers, or tremendous runaway asteroids 
exploding oceans—-like ruinous bombs raining down on rubbled


Villages of the weak. I worry that the world is like my old third grade
book, now more worn but still true, and I have no idea what chapter
the world may be on. What does it mean that the Milky Way


Is just one of billions of galaxies?  What immortal blacksmith or powerful
imagination created infinite space? Is the universe dying? Can we read
its obituary in the stars? Given the big bang, like an explosion


Of planet seeds from the head of a ruderal species, futures of finite
and infinite duration are both possible depending upon physical properties
and the expansion rate. Some scientists say that the universe is flat,


Like Homer’s flat disc cosmography, and will continue expanding forever,
depending on its shape and the role dark energy plays as the universe
grows older. Otherwise, the big rip tears the earth away, like a cruel dimpled


Spider on a white heal-all carrying away a dead moth like a child’s
plaything, or a lion’s fearsome symmetry while locked in a death spiral
with a spent zebra. The ephemeral perfection of goldilocks


Planet has always been that it is not too hot and not too cold, with just
the right amount of water. When I got to my friend’s home on that rainy
dark afternoon, I learned that his mother had died that morning. 


The bleak house was so cold, wet and dark. I didn’t know what to do.
But I knew there was no time to waste. Had she played a part
in the attack on her heart that had stopped it from beating 


At such an early age?  How many oceans and mountains had she
never seen? And in what directions? Why she left, and where she went,
is a mystery even now. Life’s like that. What had I to do with being


At her red brick house, at that time and on that day? I didn’t have
any answers. For I never really knew much about life or death.
Outside, in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania, it was still raining, just three


Days before my ninth birthday. So I filled up my empty backpack
with books and started the long trudge back home. 
For I knew there was no time to waste.

Good Blue Apples


I never appropriately
Thanked you, Mr. Blue Man.
I was just a dumb kid
and didn't know any better.


I was moving, one day after
turning eighteen. Signed up one
of those cheap orange, black and
White Rent--a–trucks, only
Twelve bucks a day.


My high school friends had helped to move
Me out of my parents’ house on that
crisp fall morning. They quickly
Loaded up my truck and then off
I went, moving into a


Bachelor studio less than
Twenty–five miles from home.
I remember that I was driving


Towards a cement underpass.
Speed limit was 55, and I was doing 60.
Wasn't wearing my seat belt when


I adjusted the radio channel. And I missed
the black and yellow warning sign
Standing upright in the wet green grass
on the side of the road


That said that
My truck was too tall
To ever make it through.


Then came the flashing red and
Blue lights, the shrill shrieking siren. When
I pulled the truck over, ten feet before the
Underpass, I could see the fear in the police


Officer's darting eyes and colorless face. His
Hands trembled, his cracking voice shook. He
Raised his tone at me for a second, looked like
He had seen a ghost, put me on another
Route, told me to be careful.


I went by the underpass again
Yesterday and nothing's really changed.
The underpass still has ten feet clearance.
My truck was twelve feet high.


When I look at my grown children
These days, and their little smiling children,


I often think of you,
Heroic Mr. Blue Man,
and what might have been.


I never appropriately
Thanked you, Mr. Blue Man.
I was just a dumb kid
and didn't know any better.


Cellophane Sonnet


A synthetic, indestructible US/
Canadian styrofoam container,
In its sterile capsule whiteness,
Co-mingles haughtily,
With a formerly feathery,
Now bloodless flockless
Frozen wax-wing bird,
Who queries her manufactured
Counterfeit foam cellmate: “How do
you do?”  It responds: “Door nail’s dead,
Yet never alive, so it’s not so bad,
And you, are you dead, too?”  
Then the bird to the Jesuit: “Et tu?
Might you spare the Jew?”


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer and is currently studying poetry at Boston University, through its Evergreen program, where he previously received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His poetry has appeared most recently in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, The Eclectic Muse, Clark Street Review and The New Verse News


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Dearest Orphan
by Fizza Abbas


You should be happy if you're an orphan
You might get loving parents, a shelter and sincere people
But you can't get what they call happiness
You know what—
You shouldn't take it seriously,
or let your subliminal thoughts rule you
Because, they cast a spell of gloom
on you, within you, around you
They are ready to take away happiness
from you, within you, around you.
Let's live but, on a dead planet,
where everything is bright except us
where fairies are wearing pink silks despite the deserted gardens
which exist in their heart
where flowers do blossom with the passage of time;
but in a form of a twisted wreath
where all planets find peace
but, dead planet's inner-hostilities are endless;
where shelter belongs to everyone
except the planet who needs it the most,
where others find water to drink
but planet itself remains,
with a thirsty soul and a profound heart
where sun's luminescence has no role,
but yet it's humble nature lets sun boast of its might.
My deserted planet has nothing to snatch from anyone
yet it is called a confiscator, a thief.


Fizza Abbas bio coming soon.


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