“The breaking of so great a thing should make a greater crack.” – Shakespeare
The power of fire is not that it burns
But that it distracts:
We save what burns because it burns.
What goes up in flames comes down in ash,
And ash is cremation:
We do not want to die.
There is no suffering in wood, stone, glass,
No Resurrection in their rebuilding:
Only flesh, blood, and bone feel pain.
Never has a candle saved a life,
And though the thirteen-ton bell rings clear
And the stained-glass awes,
Injustice has neither ears nor eyes:
The centuries grow heavy with war, revolution, poverty,
Buttressed only by a sanguine belief in tomorrow.
When the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris was ablaze
I did not cry. I was already sad, already felt the flames
Of great things breaking all around me.
I only wanted to ask the firefighters:
Could you have as quickly, desperately,
Brought clean water to the poor?
To ask the billionaires:
Did you sell your yachts, your cars?
How did you spare so much money so fast?
And to ask the leaders of the world,
The priests, the mourners, the press,
The Parisians, the tourists, the public:
In lighting myself on fire,
Might you be similarly moved?
And what if Notre Dame,
Old, venerable, and angry,
Had intended to burn to the ground
As you watched with awe-struck eyes?
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.
Separated from herbs and rice,
by knife and rifle, a fish in a fracture
of Caspian and Pacific. I remember
nothing of departure or arrival,
nothing of language lost or found,
nothing but this place of both
and neither, a wound of salt surrounding
as threats trill across desert and sea,
an orchestra of terror looming,
leaving me an orphan, flagless.
My name torn in half and sutured, yet
when someone asks how to pronounce it
the accents all scatter and hide,
because there is no right answer in a war
between the one that made me
and the one that raised me,
the one that shamed me
and the one that shames me,
between the chador
and the razor blade,
yasmin and jasmine,
tea and coffee.
There is only a dash,
and I lay there,
Niku Rice was born in Tehran, raised in California, and now lives in the suburbs of Detroit with her husband and three children. She is a doula and childbirth educator
Who would have expected so many Germans?
Still they arrive,
Half a dozen a week,
With their excellent leather shoes
and superb command of English.
their gold hair shining like a beacon
in the gloom of the dining room.
The old Kibbutzniks have long memories.
The young German volunteers sweep the stables,
scrub the toilets,
collect the garbage,
call the chickens,
and then wring their necks.
They never complain about the filthy work.
Perhaps they are here for such a purpose of penance.
The Israeli men love to fuck the girls.
Greta and Leni don’t mind the knowing winks
and guffaws that follow them,
like buzzing mosquitoes,
in and out of the social hall.
Some can understand Yiddish,
even try to speak it,
horrifying the old women here,
as if they heard something obscene.
I don’t know why these German boys and girls are so happy.
The kibbutz hot and dusty and dry.
The swimming pool empty and baking like a molten crater.
At night the dogs go mad,
kicking up hollering clouds
as they try to rip each other’s throats.
Yet Hans and Dieter sing folks songs by the campfire,
drinking flat Israeli beer,
smoking cheap unfiltered cigarettes
as they cough up phlegm with relish.
They understand this land,
connect with the scorched fields of burnt grass.
The New Yorker,
am so lost here,
craving pavement and broken glass.
Sometimes a German never leaves,
and marries an Israeli,
bringing bright blonde children into the nursery hall.
But their jobs never change:
slaughtering the cows,
cleaning the toilets,
boiling fat for the soap factory.
These old Kibbutzniks have long long memories.
Penny Jackson is an award-winning writer who lives in New York City. Her books include BECOMING THE BUTLERS (Bantam Books) and a short story collection L.A. CHILD and other stories (Untried Reads.) She has won a Pushcart Prize for her short fiction and was a McDowell Colony Fellow. Penny is also a playwright with plays produced in New York, Los Angeles, Edinburgh and Dublin. www.pennybrandtjackson.com
They were men, their faces half shadowed
from flickering firelight,
I was a boy on soft ground, two old hounds
between me and the rocked ring of the pit.
Leonard would holler and a glorious sound would come from his red fiddle,
but I imagined it was the forest’s song
and my eyes would close from exhaustion and the weight of dreams.
I would warm my hands on the belly of the Bluetick,
his eyes never quite shut, always watching while resting,
ready for the chase.
“David, you ain’t sleepin’, are ya?”
Hot chocolate and pipe smoke,
the smell of coonhound and
Two old Fords with round hoods stood darkly
at our backs, facing home
where morning would pass slowly
where faults and cold rain
David Magill, born in Kansas City, Missouri, moved to Minnesota as a young boy and grew up on a hobby farm in Afton. He has been married to his wife, Patti, for 23 years. His work has recently been published in Metonym,The Esthetic Apostle, Cagibi, Swimming with Elephants, Dreamers, Wanderlust, Sky Island Journal, and Rock & Sling. He has also been nominated for a Pushcart prize in poetry for 2019.
We live within a universe so vast
we never will perceive its full extent.
Because there are horizons that are past
the span light can speed in the firmament,
parts of the cosmos will be forever
beyond possible communication.
As fast as light, we’ll still reach them never,
for they have greater acceleration.
We here who are within it
can’t exceed light’s pace in space,
such efforts will be vexed.
Our universe grows faster than light-speed,
so isolates one portion from the next.
We cannot know that,
physical laws apply or
still follows cause.
James Ph. Kotsybar
Chosen for special recognition by NASA, James Ph. Kotsybar is the first poet to be published to another planet. His haiku currently orbits Mars aboard the MAVEN spacecraft, appears in the mission log of The Hubble Space Telescope, and was featured at NASA’s Centaur Art Challenge at IngenuityFest, Ohio. Last Summer, he performed his poetry before an international audience of scientists, journalists and actual Troubadours in their founding city of Toulouse, France, at the EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF2018) by invitation and has been invited back to ESOF2020 to be held in Trieste, Italy. Most recently he has had poems published in The Bubble, Askew, The Society of Classical Poets, LUMMOX Press, Sixfold, Mason’s Road, Encore and Scifaikuest, and has received honors from The State Poetry Society of Michigan and the Balticon 48 Poetry Competition. He especially enjoys science poetry, because of its extended shelf-life.
Big day at the Fun Show. At the AUCE (All You Can Eat) buffet—I swallow RG (Ray Gun) piece by piece, then automatic ammo. Awesome my reassembled sub-waistline. Not for gatling do by-standers gawk at me—female with humongous ghost-load, hubris muzzle, Preakness Envy. My FAFS4EmoO (First Amendment Fitness Statement for Emotional Ownership) yes-checked on background check, off to shop till I drop for killer red high heels. No more late-night specials for this chick w/chopper prick & phony asp hasps passing as concealed bra clasps.
AUCE is fighting back. I’m burping bits, barfing metallic reflux on my bib. You try walking the town, 5’4 ½”, 115 lbs., semi-automatic heater between your thighs. Wives follow me for package peek. Guys at bars fondle my epic bundle. Thrift shop, my next stop for jock strap, higher heels & folded grey carpet pad—felt, past tense of feel-good playschool mat for shooter-drill.
Charlotte M. Porter
Charlotte M. Porter lives in an old citrus hamlet in north central Florida. She is winner of the 2013 Talking/Writing flash fiction contest and the 2014 Bacopa Literary Review fiction contest. She has been top finalist for the Rose Metal Press flash fiction chapbook contest and the Calvino Prize. Look for her poetry in Baseball Bard, Burningwood, Confrontation, SLAB, Light Ekphrastic, Pea River Journal (Moby-Dick project), and Bacopa. Her poetry has been exhibited in galleries in Baltimore, MD, and Palatka, FL. For her recent fiction and creative nonfiction, see Kansas City Voices, Duende, Axolotl, Bacopa, Colp, and