I don’t have much longer
in the playing fields of love.
So when he looks at the tip
of my ring finger and sees
under the bistro lamp a nascent
callous he perceives desire.
All I do is metaphor,
the steel g-string pressed
again, again, again, in B minor’s
third position–thus my hand
remembers what my body
learns of its embodiment.
I am the guitar.
Play me now.
Karla Linn Merrifield
Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 700+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the newly released full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing) received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is a frequent contributor to The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and assistant editor and poetry book reviewer emerita for The Centrifugal Eye.
Moment in a Story
A Japanese aphorism, said to be samurai:
“Live like you are already dead.”
Fair enough, the same thing
my squad sergeant told me
as we shared a foxhole under fire
somewhere near Cu Chi, sometime
in the ’69 rainy season. “You
can’t die if you’re already dead.
Nothing else matters.” I hoped
it was true, because a piece of shrapnel
sliced off the top of his skull
disclosing the brain
in a stunning anatomy lesson.
confirmed once more.
Metal shards cut me, too,
but only a minor tattooing
that healed to invisible. I
didn’t break through to another side
or do the death thing. I just absented
me from myself and suffered it,
as millions before me had, returning
to a continuation of my life
that never quite worked out.
He lopped her head off while looking
at her reflection in a shiny shield,
so he couldn’t be petrified
like all the others who came before,
now statues scattered around her.
She didn’t do it on purpose. Poseidon
raped her in Athena’s temple
affronting the goddess who cursed the victim,
having her beautiful face and golden tresses
rendered horrific, her hair becoming
her trademark writhing serpents,
a monster whose terrifying visage
turned all who saw her into stone.
But the sea god had impregnated her,
and when the sword took her head
she foaled Pegasus, the winged horse,
who would wind up outlined in stars.
It’s part of a myth.
Metamorphosis eats mimesis,
then excretes it in other forms.
Happens all the time.
Save your questions for later,
when you find someone who can help.
Lucas Carpenter’s stories have appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Short Story, The Crescent Review, Nassau Review, The Chattahoochee Review, and South Carolina Review. He is also the author of three collections of poetry, one book of literary criticism, a collection of short stories, and many poems, essays, and reviews published in more than twenty-five periodicals, including Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, College Literature, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kansas Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Concerning Poetry, Poetry (Australia), Southern Humanities Review, College English, Art Papers, San Francisco Review of Books, Callaloo, Southern History Journal, Chicago Quarterly Review, and New York Newsday. He is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Emory University.
The cathedral is coming down.
Oaks, hickories splinter into leafy glass.
Shards spiral. Cold drifts down.
The wind dumps truckloads.
The kaleidoscope is shattering blue.
Frost laces the grass.
He calls a friend to launch a boat
in the river: “It will sink of dry rot
before it gets wet again.”
Soviet citizens chided their officials,
“They will walk out of the water dry.”
There is no escaping warring elements,
no matter the day’s brilliance.
“How about a walk somewhere
we haven’t been, crossing
the bridge, walking the ridge
to where it cuts down to the creek?”
His friend is repairing a tire.
He hasn’t finished roofing his studio.
“Who knows he might be dead tomorrow,”
Yesterday in Bali, a crowded night club exploded.
Hidden in a car trunk on a street in Washington DC,
a sniper kills drivers stopped at gas stations.
Work on the roof, go for a walk,
who knows when we’ll be done
praying through these leaves.
Two days later, in the hospital bed
He slurs hello, a stroke of bad luck.
Walter Bargen has published 23 books of poetry. Recent books include: Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (BkMk Press, 2009), Trouble Behind Glass Doors (BkMk Press, 2013), Perishable Kingdoms (Grito del Lobo Press, 2017), Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017), My Other Mother’s Red Mercedes (Lamar University Press, 2018), and Until Next Time (Singing Bone Press, 2019). His awards include: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Chester H. Jones Foundation Award, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009). www.walterbargen.com
There were no witnesses to his loss,
it was a private affair.
He stood with sober eyes and watched
the sun fade behind his dream.
Darkness folded over itself,
covering far reaches of space.
A vast expanse of stillness
soon enveloped all.
Closing the door behind him,
walking beyond the breech.
At quarter past a lifetime,
he knew the end had come.
Ann Christine Tabaka
Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry, has been internationally published, and won poetry awards from numerous publications. She is the author of 9 poetry books. Christine lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her most recent credits are: Burningword Literary Journal; The Write Connection; Ethos Literary Journal, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-NaGig, Pangolin Review, Foliate Oak Review, Better Than Starbucks!, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.
After we are dead
Throw out the papers
And spend all the cash.
with the lapse,
of that final,
Shredded and torn,
blasted and shorn,
Leaves that faded
Like all before
to Christian Dior.
So throw out the papers
And spend all the cash
naught but trash.
A book of rhymes,
You can save,
or a toy,
That letter you scribbled
on notebook paper
in deepest regret
For ripping the curtains off the wall
and tossing your mattress on the floor,
Til your progeny
Shall throw out your papers
And spend all your cash.
Along the way
Raise a glass or two
And have a fillet
with a nice
For a joy it was
And all that censored fun.
and wallowed in,
Could not compare
to what is not,
Or pain endured,
for when it passes,
for when it’s fled
once we are dead.
Life was good,
and after ain’t bad;
It was the dying we hated,
But when done,
So throw out the papers
And junk all the cars,
Rip up the photographs
and sell the manse,
All that is there
the memories but dust.
We’re nothing now,
That shall not fade
along with tears
What is, was, will be,
An unseen adventure,
an open door,
The drawing of straws,
the roll of the dice
by relict gods
uncaring of odds.
And whatever you do
Before you’re dead
Tell ’em all
to throw out your papers
And spend all the cash
A graduate of the University of North Carolina and Duke Law School, James Garrison practiced law until returning to his first loves: writing and reading good literature. His novel, QL 4 (TouchPoint Press 2017), set in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War, has won awards for literary and military fiction, and it was a finalist for the 2018 Montaigne Medal. His most recent novel, The Safecracker, a tongue-in-cheek legal thriller, was released in Ebook and paperback by TouchPoint Press on September 27, 2019. His creative nonfiction works and poems have appeared in online magazines and anthologies. Sheila-Na-Gig nominated ‘Lost: On the Staten Island Ferry’ for a 2018 Pushcart prize. jamesgarrison-author.com
Late Tuesday night, deserted London street, London Gold,
October blues, dense night feeling, vocalese on the radio,
jazz scat-singing trilling chirruping, counterdawn of dusk,
over the City, night will gently break, and a light caul of sleep, (night calls),
black cool, like a cloak, cover all, down on a young man’s cheek,
nachtmusik cuts to crooning sax solo then piano/guitar
trade riffs, swap solos, lights stranded in windows glow through the night,
eat into the dark by an acid of pale orange-yellow electric light
leaching into the night’s fallows, wash of pastel-pale, dissolving
shadows to shed them elsewhere more densely, outcasting a penumbra
of shifting lights, segues to strings, intro to the ballad, lush sheen
of string section, the junked lover in the song is singing
of how she’s staying up all night getting high on black coffee
and nicotine, hellhounded by whisky chasers around the rim
of a Guinness glass, switch to the catguts of Robert Johnson’s
liquor guitar wailing over his long-lost lady, black soul
crying over the Hackney nightime rooftops, with luna riding high
on skeins of black nightcloud, God’s nightlight, cut to radio 3 notturna
quiet London street, a radio, a lit window
Born 1962 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, the winter Sylvia Plath died. Began writing in 1973. Bits of his juvenilia survive in the magazines Sepia, Pennine Platform and Northern Line and in the pamphlet Chaos (Kawabata Press, 1979). Went up to Cambridge in 1980 to read English. Graduated with a First in 1983. Poems of his won prizes at University. In 1984 he lived in London, working as a literary journalist, reviewing for The Sunday Times and The London Magazine. 1985-6: Lived and wrote in Greece on Ministry of Education Scholarships, teaching English Literature occasionally. In 1986 he went to Oxford to write a doctorate on Beckett, which was awarded in 1991. Held a Research Fellowship there from 1991-93. On completion of this he became a full-time writer, teaching only occasionally. Many publications, including poems, essays and articles in magazines. Books include Peaceworks (The Many Press 1996), Requiem Tree (Spectacular Diseases, 2002), Thornsongs (Unarmed Chapbook, 2007), Love Enough (Pulsing Vulva, 2008), Openacity (Drunken Guru, 2009), Bread Bullion (five thousand mile paper mine, 2012), True Moral Loaves (five thousand mile paper mine, 2012). ‘Undercoming’ is a text/visual collaboration comprising the books Lightwriting (Gabbling Goblin,2007) and Happy Apples (Cuddly Shark, 2008) and an exhibition, ’Word of Eye’. Two collections – ‘Spit Bricks’ (1997-98) and ‘Idiot Scripts’ (1999-2005) – have appeared in their entirety as individual pieces in print magazines and online but remain unpublished as books. Other yet to be published books include ‘Defining Statements on an Autumn Afternoon’ (2011-13), ‘Dying For Friday’ (2014-15), ‘Letters to the Lost One’ (2015-16) and ‘Things to Say to Jilly’ (2017) . Recently completed projects are a short book, ‘Done For Love’ (2017-18) and a pamphlet, ‘As They Broached the Goldmine’ (2018). Both are as yet unpublished although sections of the latter title have appeared in the journal Tears in the Fence. Most recently completed projects are the pamphlets ‘Everyman’s Land’ and ‘Soldier’s Block’. Lives and works in North East London.