The night breeze kisses the amber,
coaxing it to twirl and dance
A twinkling speck of rich medallion, melting
my fingers, warming
all these downtrodden
Faceless fields of fire, voices
both green and golden, crying
for the fall of a marionette
and her puppeteer
To snip off the poisoned strings, once
and for all.
A beautiful scene to be woven
in the lies of textbooks
Calm and serene, without a trace
of crimson, yet
Where has the marionette gone when
the denouement has come?
When will all the puppeteers in the world
be rid of, cast away with their
When will all fields, scarlet and marigold, be left
to rest in peace?
These still remain, unanswered
But the streets still blossom
into golden fields, ripe
with courage and ire
An eternal blaze, kindling inside
An angel’s tune charms the streets,
lingering, joined by voices
When sorrow hangs in my heart,
drop by drop
I rise in the morning hill and
learn a little smile 1
1 “Morning Dew” (composed by Korean singer Kim Min-gi), a protest song banned under President Park Chung-hee.
Soo Young Yun
Soo Young Yun is a student living in Seoul, South Korea. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Origami Poems Project, Ann Arbor District Library, and Writing for Peace. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Aerie International, The Best of Kindness 2017, and the Austin International Poetry Festival Di-vêrsé-city Youth Anthology.
A few things you will seek
the morning after: wallets, words, contact
lenses, meaning, directions. Lessons
learned upon rising: kisses can complicate
as much as language, dividing desire
does not diminish desire, no victims
exist once the sun peels back darkness,
drink and decision. You will remember
what she was quick forget: boundaries
between teachers and students, rules
to minimise complication. You will stop
dressing up for her classes. You will not
feel the need to sit in front. But for years,
you’ll waste poetry on pointless questions,
never once raising your hand to ask.
Tania De Rozario
Tania De Rozario is an artist and writer based in Singapore. She is the author of And The Walls Come Crumbling Down, (Math Paper Press | 2016) and Tender Delirium (Math Paper Press |2013) – the latter was shortlisted for the 2014 Singapore Literature Prize. Tania was the 2011 winner of Singapore’s Golden Point Award for English Poetry, and is an alumna of Hedgebrook (USA), Toji Cultural Centre (South Korea), Sangam House (India), The Substation (Singapore) and The Unifiedfield (Spain). Her poetry and fiction have been published in journals and anthologies in Singapore, India and the USA, while her visual art has been exhibited in Singapore, the USA, Europe and the UK. She also runs EtiquetteSG, a platform that develops and showcases art, writing and film by women from and in Singapore. Founded in 2010, its current work includes the development and facilitation of art and writing workshops focused on issues of gender-based violence.
The Narcissist Hears What You’re Trying to Do There
Grabs your argument in a certain hand, clenches
your words in a fist,
them back at you before you’ve decided
what you were even trying
to say. Perhaps
there wasn’t a manipulative germ
or any exhumed dirty word,
what he can hear and see
is the extent of it,
but he’s perspicacious with a straight spine,
drawn to full height,
slashing, that dripping dagger
every syllable matters
in the way
it could possibly relate
to him. Admit
he wasn’t part of the intended audience,
still unspooling from your lips?
He has to stop you before you can begin.
Squeak creak squeal
squeak creak squeal: across the street,
a couple in their twenties
pumps long legs into glassy sky, bodies
flung nearly perpendicular
to the top of the bar, so high. Individual
horizons. Now she knows those sounds
last week at sundown
did not mean she was going to break
How silly to think the weight
of forty-seven years means anything
to a swing
ready to squeak all comers into the clouds
and back to thirteen,
sullen, holding a Walkman
turned up loud, back to seven,
screaming in delight, pushed
so hard she had to hold on
tight. All the way home,
their palms will thrum
with effort while their minds
fly, worries having fallen
from their pockets like pebbles
the smell of salty steel
still kissing their hands.
Kasandra Larsen’s work has appeared in Best New Poets, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Into the Void Magazine, Stoneboat Literary Journal, Two Hawks Quarterly, and others. Her manuscript CONSTRUCTION was a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry; her chapbook STELLAR TELEGRAM won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee.
Scientists call it the measure of the disorder
or randomness in a system.
Then reduce it to this: it’s hard,
very hard, to make things better
but it’s always possible to make them worse.
Thus relationships, children, companies, countries.
Entropy is the clock that forever
runs forward and down until it no longer
resembles a clock at all.
Meanwhile the love leaks out of marriages
one molecule at a time,
airlines beat passengers in their seats
and drag them screaming off the plane,
and we drop bombs on our enemies so big
they dwarf our own disorder, or so
we think, or would think, if thinking were something
still within our grasp.
I must make time in my desert of a day
to visit the grave of Robinson Jeffers and tell
his silent stone that our republic
no longer shines as it perishes
and entropy is the reason.
I’m sure that will comfort his departed shade,
long since dissipated into millions of strange shadows
by that other, more efficient entropy, death.
Kurt Luchs has poems published or forthcoming in Former People Journal, Into the Void, Minetta Review, Poydras Review, Triggerfish Critical Review, Otis Nebula, Sheila-Na-Gig, Right Hand Pointing, Roanoke Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Grey Sparrow Journal, Noctua Review, Quail Bell Magazine, and Antiphon, among others. He founded the literary humor site TheBigJewel.com, and has written humor for the New Yorker, the Onion and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as writing comedy for television (Politically Incorrect and the Late Late Show) and radio (American Comedy Network). In September 2017 Sagging Meniscus Press will publish his humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny).
crawl up 1 crawl down
2 up 3 down 4 up 5 how
many minutes how fast the heart
rate down 6 the second hand do-si-do-ing with the minute
hand of the big wall clock the beat of the rock-a-billy on
the boom box up 7 breaststroke down 8
up 9 down 10 flip turn up 11
backstroke down 12 butterfly up 13 down
14 sidestroke 15 16 how long? long enough
next crop of legs dangling swinging impatient on
the ledge, lanes a blur up down up down bathing caps goggles
you know/don’t know men women counting strokes times
laps minutes days (how many this week) (not enough) hot pink/
slate black FitBits blinking/sleeping pulses (up, down) calories in out…
You know nothing about the people in these bodies. Only
their swimsuits, sliding jumping climbing getting in/out. You say hi
to the red bikini. To the floral board shorts. You/they hustle to the showers,
to the lockers, to the hairdryers. Presto! Ms Bikini perfect in Givency suiting.
Spiked Prada’s. Mr. Board Shorts casual Armani all the way. The stay-at homes,
the techies, the mommy/daddies, the laid-offs, the bigwigs, the retirees – headed out
in their yogapants grungy sneakers /crocs, toting their Lululemon/Nike/no-
name duffel bags off to the parking lot. Remotes awakening their shiny Masaratis
their slightly dented Kias, their ‘50’s Corvette convertibles, lovingly restored.
Their Honda minivans moving forward backing carefully anonymously into the world.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Again. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Again.
Suffering, Medicalized (in the ER on a Friday night)
On a scale of 1 -10, where 1 is no pain and 10 is the worst you can imagine, how bad is your pain?
How would you describe it? Check two:
Two isn’t enough choices
Sorry, that’s all the computer gives you.
How is your mood? Remember, just check two:
Thank you. Take a seat in the waiting room, and fill out these other forms. The doctor will see you in order of the time of your arrival. Or maybe the nurse. Or maybe the intern. Someone, at any rate.
May I have your insurance card while you are working on the forms?
Oh – your card has expired. Come back when it has been corrected. The 800 number is on your old card. They open at 8 AM on Monday.
Goodbye, have a nice weekend.
Marian Kaplun Shapiro
Marian Kaplun Shapiro is the author of a professional book, Second Childhood (Norton, 1988), a poetry book, Players In The Dream, Dreamers In The Play (Plain View Press, 2007) and two chapbooks: Your Third Wish, (Finishing Line, 2007); and The End Of The World, Announced On Wednesday (Pudding House, 2007). A Quaker and a psychologist, her poetry often embeds the topics of peace and violence by addressing one within the context of the other. A resident of Lexington, she is a five-time Senior Poet Laureate of Massachusetts. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2012.
You blame me for rumors
floating across highways
which come to rest uneasily
and other natal motions.
The voice you claim
to speak with may be your own
or the disembodied sound
of warm intentions you thought
had finally been quelled.
Like a spin of insects
beneath an evening streetlamp
it’s useless to sleep
when you could be awake
imitating life and tracing art.
I appreciate the false existence
you’ve found in a patch of tulips
but I don’t want
an expression of your tenderness
chained to a bird of song.
The Highest Reaches
Beneath the highest reaches
in a yellow-gold field
your eyes are filled
with gestures of joy
and light-blue bends
but sadness and star grains
still cling to your hair.
I rise to my feet
even in an anatomy
of insignia and pins
obscured beneath a canopy
of crippled captivity.
The birds have ended their ostinato
and we’re left
with only a stuttering silence
My dream is cracking open
the egg of a white lizard,
a little girl pounding
on a locked door.
If it’s me you’re crying for
then no, I don’t want you to stop
until we’re separated again
by sutures of emerald green
and pinches of black.
You’re scared to exchange words
fearing that I’ll intersperse my voice
with a disastrous elixir
designed to make you love me.
In my guise as a simple hitchhiker
with a broken guitar
you’ve driven past
at least a dozen times
coursing the roundabout
with your left foot tapping out the window.
Cast from the joke of a raven
you dance naked but impenetrable
in a tongueless world of gelatin plateaus
and abalone snow.
The sound you’re hearing in your mind
is only a mortar and pestle—
the killing powder was consumed
when you first imagined
of my lips around your nipple;
felt the insistence of glacial stone
opening furrows of ochre and loam.
Never does my mind
consider the disappearance of earth—
my thoughts go even further than that
a grisaille balance of stars
the high pitch of emptiness
and the decaying swingset in my backyard;
warped, brittle wood
and tattered canvas.
A calm has descended upon
and the departure of small mammals
for more secluded silences—
the faintest trace of your instep
makes the world more
than a sequence of disconnected flickers
running in the direction
Richard King Perkins II
Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.