Digging in the Wrong Place
Compromised, they call the card. My 16 digits mined
by algorithm or bunker genius fiddling,
for $1633 at Best Buy; the robbers have
all my numbers save the back code to complete
the inspired transaction, the Take back one kadam
& so they are. Far enough away from the Nazis for now,
Boston thinks it’s annexed the assholes today
in a gazebo. Nazis in a gazebo?! Only Indy could flip
his revolver & trusty whip into a suitcase, beeline
a passenger plane & catch ‘em sneering in their insignias,
gathered like poison in standing water. In the film,
the strong backs open empty sand while our hero squints down
upon the twisting floor, asking Why did it have to be
snakes? Don’t waste breath waiting for a revelation
of perfectly directed sun. The diorama is none,
& we can’t count on the wrath of God to gather
His phantom forces to melt their brainwashed
faces one at a time, down to the skulls.
Miners in Taijuan
—from photographs by Stan Grossfeld
Perhaps brothers, these two pitchy
instruments savor warm water
in a metal bath. Beers at arms’
reach, a coal accord for labor.
In the outsider’s monochrome
any untarnished aspect of
the image is silvered. Sympathy
is less than the universal,
but still the color of deserved
rest, arms that rip the underground
asunder, later burn chunks to
boil rainwater from the sky’s well
while factories feed, the country
busy raising a colossus.
If Providence doubts its welcome,
these two tender invitation.
Max Heinegg’s poems have been nominated for Best of the Net, The Pushcart Prize, and been a finalist for the poetry prizes of Crab Creek Review, December Magazine, Cultural Weekly, Cutthroat, Rougarou, Asheville Poetry Review, the Nazim Hikmet prize, and the Joe Bolton award. Recent work appears in Thrush, Nimrod, The Cortland Review, and Love’s Executive Order. Additionally, he is a singer-songwriter and recording artist whose records can be heard at www.maxheinegg.com
I remember I tripped
and skinned my knee on the curb,
beneath the neon signglow
and as my last bottle shattered
on the pavement beside me
and I looked at the hole
in my slacks and the wet bloodsmudge there
I said, interiorly, you clumsy fuck,
and exteriorly, just plain fuck.
Some pretty folks in day-glo evening dresses
looked on, judging a bit.
And as I sat there, failed son, spinning,
mad at my fingers for not being needles,
mad at my saliva for not being bleach,
mad at my feet for not being steady
(but how could they, really), mad at
my beer for not staying, miraculously,
in the bottle, I looked up at the
signs in all their bright rainbow,
and I remember tripping, dissociating,
thinking, interiorly- “I wonder what
the noble gasses make of it, being
caught in those tubes, hocking
beer for a living?” and,
exteriorly, just plain fuck.
And this led, inexorably,
to a little more negative self-talk
outside the bar, mad at my
creatively dressed audience,
for moving on, judgment complete,
and at myself again,
for not even knowing then
that there were blessings
that could be counted,
even while coagulating,
by whatever sordid light
there was to count them–
argon, like from the argonauts,
neon, sounds like Creon in a way,
xenon and on and on and on…
krypton, like from that Superman
stuff (wonder how he felt about
good’ol Jor-El!), radon, all the
nobles, Jay-San, no that’s not one,
all first-born sons probably,
debased into illuminating a
standard issue failing-to-please-
daddy-issue drunk thinking,
interiorly, how the nobles
have fallen so low, and finally,
exteriorly, a howl at the moon-
where is that spark
that will light me
up one night?
Michael J. Galko
Michael J. Galko is a scientist and poet who lives and works in Houston, TX. He has been a juried poet of the Houston Poetry Fest three of the last four years and is a 2019 Pushcart Award nominee. In the past year he has had poems published or accepted for publication at descant, San Pedro River Review, Gargoyle, Gulf Coast, Defunkt Magazine, Riddled with Arrows, Poetry WTF!?, and Sonic Boom, among other journals.
This season is a
power wash for my arteries,
I am washed clean
and hung to dry on the clothesline.
Father doesn’t work, he sits
on the veranda, smoking a bidi,
his friends bring him bottles of
Arrack: they brew it with petrol
and ash, they slice some fruits,
add lizards to the pot
boil them to a sozzle-blitz.
I watch my neighbours stir it
with blood-shot eyes.
Amma kills my pet chickens every day,
Mary, Martha, Kunju have all been
cooked with spices ground at home.
Men look at amma’s blouse
as she bends down to serve them.
on a plantain leaf. They smack their
lips savouring spices, looking
at her melons and at times, at me.
Amma has purple patches all over her face,
she snores into her dreamless land.
I feel two hands pull me up by my feet,
peel off my petticoat.
No one hears me in the night
when pain washes my heart clean.
I soar up with the wind
watch my friends smile
in their sleep dreaming
of angels like me.
I dry out day and night
on the clothesline
washed clean from
pain and shame.
Babitha Marina Justin
Babitha Marina Justin is from Kerala, South India and a Pushcart prize nominee, 2018. Her poems have appeared in Eclectica , Esthetic Apostle, Fulcrum, The Scriblerus, Chaleur Magazine, Into the Void, Trampset, Inlandia , The Paragon Press, Adolphus Press, The Punch Magazine, Rise Up Review, Constellations, Cathexis NW Press, Silver Needle Press, About Place Journal, The Write Launch, Trampset, The Four Quarters Magazine, So to Speak journal, Kritya and Journal of Post-Colonial Literature. Her first collection of poetry, Of Fireflies, Guns and the Hills, was published by the Writers Workshop in 2015. She is also waiting to debut as a novelist with ‘Maria’s Swamp’
His heart gave out two nights ago
at 29, four years out of Iraq.
In war, with mangled vehicles,
mechanics strip the intact parts.
Fuel pump, clutch, perhaps an axle,
roof hatch, carburetor, clutch,
random gauges, a machine gun mount.
Back home in Pinson
Tennessee, he heard cicadas
saw his head
around the clock.
A jobless drift of smashed chairs.
A son meandering the fence
around my sister’s yard,
tremors in his vision as he
spat accusations in the grass.
Meth: a gnashing chatter.
Heroin: molasses in a moan.
His Purple Heart
lying with its recovered bullet
in a satin-lined box.
A year of VA rehab lockdown,
with a Johnson City keyhole view:
him, his eyes lost in the mountains,
from a bench out on the lawn.
Two nights ago, his heart gave out
at 29. He’s on life support
until they harvest organs.
Eric Forsbergh’s poetry has appeared in The Journal of The American Medical Association, Zeotrope, Artemis, The Cafe Review, and other venues. In 2016, he was awarded a Pushcart nomination by The Northern Virginia Review. He is a Vietnam veteran.
In January, we headed south.
First, a road trip, then a new place to live…
Never eat Chinese food
in Birmingham, Alabama was
one lesson learned.
At our destination, each of our myths,
so carefully curried, was sucked
into February, then disassembled
and poured, like an old man’s ashes,
into April’s mud puddles.
Unlike dear Lazarus, these were
ashes never to be resurrected.
There wasn’t enough love
in all of the world to make them
whole and bring them back to us.
Another lesson learned:
Sometimes smoke does not
indicate a fire.
We watched the souls of our loved ones
flow steadily from stubby Palmettos and
were introduced to insects larger than our
imaginations. Once, we saw geese in the sky
coming towards us and, once, in a park,
a swan bit my bare heel. The mark looked
a little like a lipstick imprint on the edge
of a glass. When I wrote to a friend
to tell her about the swan, she giggled,
“They are mean little fuckers, aren’t they?”
We felt 1000 spirits in the south, pleading
for bodies, longing to extend themselves
as soon as the signal was given. While we
waited for pulled pork at a barbeque joint,
the twilight grew gray and empty
and heat-treated rain began to fall.
Something about the atmosphere made me
feel tangled and more shy than ever. The
nights were ripe with nightmares and
visits from my dead father. The air…something…
In July, in yet another new rental, Barbara Goldberg’s
words sang out in every room: “The world is ripe with calamity,”
she said in a steady alto. Once the entire apartment
was taken over by beige and gray, we made our decisions
and drove back to Los Angeles—unfiltered, certain.
Martina Reisz Newberry
Martina Reisz Newberry is the author of 6 books of poetry. Her most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE (from Deerbrook Editions), and TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME (Unsolicited Press). She is also the author of WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press). She has been included in “The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018” (Black Mountain Press/The Halcyone Magazine editorial staff). Newberry has been included in As It Ought to Be, Big Windows, Courtship of Winds, The Cenacle, Cog, Futures Trading, and many other literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. Her work is included in the anthologies Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Moontide Press Horror Anthology, A Decade of Sundays: L.A.’s Second Sunday Poetry Series-The First Ten Years, In The Company Of Women, Blessed Are These Hands and Veils, and Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts. Passionate in her love for Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.
Blue suit, pressed
white shirt, red tie,
where the bullet
the tearful track,
on father’s long arm,
by the stark face
of death, young
men in dreads
as he would have been,
friends of the family,
one by one.
The church fills
with gray winter light,
like spirits in air;
the color of grief is
the same everywhere.
There is no anger,
no vengeance in sight,
Mary Hills Kuck
Having retired from teaching English and Communications, first in the US and for many years in Jamaica, Mary Kuck now lives with her family in Massachusetts. She has received a Pushcart Prize Nomination and her poems have appeared in Connecticut River Review, Hamden Chronicle, SIMUL: Lutheran Voices in Poetry, Caduceus, The Jamaica Observer Bookends, Fire Stick: A Collection of New & Established Caribbean Poets, the Aurorean, Tipton Poetry Journal, Slant and Main St. Rag (both forthcoming), and others.