To minimize sorrow’s splash & sizzle
baby lava drops slow motion fall
leaving their tear ducts empty of ways
to transport the stuff of grief
some lean toward heavenly things
the blue & white fluff of paper Mache
obese clouds of thunderous joy
the pretty and perfect pulseless distractions
made famous by the stuff of faith
consumption is rarely subpoenaed
for questioning too much stuff
in the gut’s garage too much mail
in the mind’s cold box to sort out the real
from the almost real the who the hell sent
this wickedness to me who has time
for such stuff
by Daniel Edward Moore
Daniel Edward Moore’s poems have been published in the Spoon River Poetry Review, Rattle, Columbia Journal, New South, American Journal Of Poetry and others. His poems are currently at Lullwater Review, Natural Bridge Literary Journal, Scalawag Magazine, Tule Review, Fire Poetry Journal, West Texas Literary Review, The Chaffin Journal, Bluestem Magazine, The Paragon Journal and Sheila-Na-Gig. Poems forthcoming are in Weber Review, Stillwater Review, Hawaii Review, Blue Fifth Review, Plainsongs, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, Broad Street Magazine, The Museum Of Americana and West Trade Review. His books of poems are the anthology “This New Breed: Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians,” and “Confessions Of A Pentecostal Buddhist” can be found on Amazon. He lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. (danieledwardmoore.com)
of a cragged tree stands
sharp and complete
across an old apartment building,
though my angle
to the shadow’s tree.
A pigeon flies toward the cornice
of an old tenement building then
draws up short, startled by something
it finds where it was about to land
and it flaps in the air, in place, in
a flurry of disbelief; then it either
attacks or shoots away
but I don’t notice
because it sticks in my mind
as stuck in midair, in shock,
unable to square
with a truth
The royal blue
deli awning, dripping
with rain, says:
Cold Sodas, Newspapers,
Sandwiches, Hot Coffee, Beer,
Play Lotto Here.
The cramped, over-lit, under-cleaned
crunching these commonplaces
The acoustic guitar
hanging on the café wall
hangs halved in a mirror
on the far wall
before me, a mirror
in whose frame is tucked
a curled, faded photograph
of a smiling young woman, a mirror
crossed by cropped reflections
of staff and customers
coming and going
until it empties
in the night.
by Mark Belair
Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com
how the body heals
slow-crawl through thick air
mind furrows its weighty rut
& a boy flits past on his board
threads the sluggish cars
so fully his 13-year-old self
left foot lifted
slings him wide
& I want to warn him
don’t ride here it’s too
but he pulls me
into the perfect stitch
of his turn
holds all of us car-bound cynics
weaves his net
rule of body-need
I danced once
between a mirrored wall
& plate-glass street
bare feet & red skirt
music & muscle in synch
my middle-aged body
claiming this column of air
you make me feel
you make me feel
each step a truth
though I was not
had never been
lifted all of Congress Street
my bones singing
after Rising Cairn by Celeste Roberge
the stones piled variously on the thin beach
near my favorite walking path fall
when the tide turns & collect
in the crook of that place prepared
for stillness. the water beats them smooth
& makes a kind of music grief’s
innumerable chuffs & sighs. the woman kneeling
does not put the stones into her pockets
but swallows them each stone
remembered by the tongue. swallows clay & silt
taste of cavern cliff edge & crag until her body holds
the balance between weight
& right. earth-pinned I too remember each fist-sized
bruise each rain-wise stone tuned to the illumined lullaby
of loss. like the low-tide man hefting
stone in his well-muscled arms smile-less stone-
worthy. another swallower he cairns & stoops.
does not look at me even when I speak.
we swallow what gathers clamoring.
we sink a bit more each day stone-anchored.
she says she’s rising. not
sinking. in another telling she carries stones
one by one uphill. some say
the carrying goes on forever.
Inuksuk (inukshuk in English) is an Inuit word for a figure made of piled stones constructed to communicate with humans throughout the arctic. Inukshuk means “to act in the capacity of a human.” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/inuksuk-inukshuk/
by Jeri Theriault
Jeri Theriault’s Radost, My Red was published by Moon Pie Press in 2016. She also has three chapbooks, most recently: In the Museum of Surrender (Encircle Publications contest winner, 2013). Her poems have appeared in journals (Paterson Literary Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Rattle, The Atlanta Review, etc.) and anthologies such as French Connections: An Anthology of Poetry by Franco-Americans. A Fulbright recipient (1998-99) and Pushcart Prize nominee (2006, 2013 and 2016), Jeri holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Maine.
How does the body recite its way out
From under the grammar of flagellation?
Perhaps the verb ‘strike’ will change
And kiss its fearsome subject with permission.
Perhaps there’s a sentence that can be avoided,
Or a sharp noun that the mouth refuses to utter!
Obedience, a child of the sun is forced
To remember it like the taste of sugar.
A mother’s milk is long forgotten,
But the throbbing under the skin
Becomes its own tense marker—
A song that sings through time
And out of time—an infinity of remembrance.
The body knows. It has its own encyclopedia.
Welts from cowhides,
Aching ribs from steel toe boots,
And a purple crescent moon below one’s right eye
That refuses to wane. The body recites and
Remembers the A B Cs of thunderclap
And the crackle of lightning from a teacher
Dressed in a black cassock with skin from
A land of snow. The body remembers
The warm gush of yellow fluid
When a child in khaki shorts
And black boots was left standing
Like a wet dog in his own puddle,
As he was unable to master
The master’s grammar.
by Patrick Sylvain
Sylvain is a poet, social critic, and photographer. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Published in several creative anthologies and reviews, including: African American Review, Agni, American Poetry Review, Aperture, Callaloo, Caribbean Writers, Transition, Ploughshares, SX Salon, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse. Sylvain’s academic essays are anthologized. Sylvain received his B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, an Ed.M. from Harvard; and received his MFA from Boston University as a Robert Pinsky Global Fellow. Sylvain is on faculty at Brown University’s Africana Studies. Sylvain is also the Shirle Dorothy Robbins Creative Writing Prize Fellow at Brandeis University and has forthcoming publications with Beacon Press (Essay, 2019), and Central Square Press (Poetry, July 2018).
Self-Portrait Formed with Unrelated Contents
Don’t look at the girl pirouetting over the cattle guard even if
she’s wearing a pink gingham bikini in the evening. This isn’t
about nightshade plants or sinewy cats floating the fence line.
We have other fish to fry after the migraine aura leaves her limbs
and lips numb as a stroke. Okay, the cattle guard is true. And there was
an orange elephant bank, petunias in pots, and a little row to hoe.
But listen. There was mercy. She came to god and her days
cracked apart like jackhammered cement and the stairs wobbled
and the mother said she was brand new and the girl in gingham—it’s true—
went on about her business. Her business was watching out
for the sky to be right. Listening for a car door in the dark. Twisting
banana ice pops in her mouth and not dangling her clean bare legs
in places where she knew good and well snakes could be.
Self-Portrait with Magic and Swallowing
At times it was like this, wasn’t it. Barn after rickety barn
and a series of cloudy directions. Sometimes night
curled in your fleshy young mouth. There’s no cure
for the dark birds you’ve eaten. Through the tall grass
a beautiful couple comes swaggering into view.
They’ve been ambling with the water dogs again.
Yes, there’s a house here hidden from view.
Yes, the deer bed in that thicket.
Two leisurely bodies ease one into another
like rope coiling over itself. The smell of water,
bailing twine, honeysuckle, dusk. Yes,
someone is dying. Blood slogs through the body
and flesh tugs at flesh. Copper-penny taste on the tongue.
There’s the tuneful splash of water bird or dog.
Delicate bones collect—each churned out clean from your lips.
by Wendy Miles
Wendy Miles’s work has been published or is forthcoming in places such as Prairie Schooner, Tupelo Quarterly, Arts & Letters, Memoir Journal, Southern Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, storySouth, The MacGuffin, Alabama Literary Review and R.kv.r.y. Quarterly. Winner of the 2014 Patricia Dobler Poetry Award, a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a semi-finalist for the 2017, 2016 and 2013 Perugia Press Prize, Wendy lives and writes in Virginia.
because the boy with the bike whose handlebars held you
from South High to home would see the bruises you got
when you jumped off too early.
picking scabs might leave scars,
your mother said as she removed gravel
from cuts with your legs extended on the bathtub’s edge.
bulky bandages exposed the truth
faster than you could disagree.
but that was long ago and you’re grown now,
or you want to be, legs extended
in a skirt far above your knees, so that the boy with the bike
might look a little too long.
you wait to pick the scab until it’s just right,
when it’s ready to jump off anyway,
the skin nude colored enough to keep this secret.
if you pick too early,
the boy might not let you ride again,
might say it’s too dangerous,
look at your scar, he might say,
as if it’s proof that his handlebars
shouldn’t hold this blame.
by Chavonn Williams Shen
Chavonn Williams Shen is a Minneapolis native and an educator. She was the first place winner for the 2017 Still I Rise grant for African American women hosted by Alternating Current Press and a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee. She was also a 2017 Best of the Net Award finalist, a winner of the 2016-2017 Mentor Series in Poetry and Creative Prose through the Loft Literary Center, and a 2016 fellow through the Givens Foundation for African American Literature. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in: Beecher’s Magazine, The A3 Review, and The Coil, as well as other journals. A graduate of Carleton College, Chavonn is currently pursuing her MFA in creative writing at Hamline University.