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.
And so a playbill,
a box of kitchen matches
with blue heads and
a dry red rubber band
that parts at touch
from the belly of the box,
and a flat stone
similar to sea glass
that her child picked up
and stuck in her palm
more years ago than
she’s kept track. Junk
in a drawer she’s set
to empty, half-filled
She once knew the guy
who first appeared in Act I,
Scene I. He had a mustache,
freckles on his chest in summer
when they swam.
The photocopied playbill
of his last name
but not his eye-color,
not his voice.
for another hour and ten minutes
in the food court
in the hub-city airport
with the black and white
by the escalators
something he said to her once
It takes many, many years
to distill experience into prose.
Now there is vinegar
running down her right hand
from the overpriced submarine sandwich
chockfull, not of veggies
but of cheese and turkey,
now there is a recycled napkin—swipe-swipe.
But she carries its acidic scent
as perfume on the insides of her wrists
walking back with her carryon to Concourse C
with the vague memory of the place
where they bought the caramel apples
the practiced flick of the employee’s wrist
rolling each globed fruit on a stick in
a puddle of evenly-crushed pecans.
She’s tried many times to emulate
with a simple cutting board and knife;
no effort matches
what it was like, that first perfect bite.
Melanie Faith is a poet, fictionist, photographer, editor, tutor, and professor. Her writing has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. Melanie collects quotes, books, and twinkly costume-jewelry pins, and she enjoys spending time with her darling nieces. She holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Her photography recently appeared in Harbor Review and The Moving Force Journal, and her poetry appeared in Verse of Silence. Get her artwork at WritePathProductions at Etsy. Her latest book, Photography for Writers, was published in Nov. 2019 (Vine Leaves Press) https://www.vineleavespress.com/photography-for-writers-bymelanie-faith.html . Learn about her latest projects at: https://www.melaniedfaith.com/blog/ and https://twitter.com/writer_faith .
You show yourself in the rumba of the oak leaves,
in the patriotic flip flap of the flag fastened
to its lowest branch, in the tritone of the wind chimes
out by the water’s edge. The distant mountains
form a kind of concert hall of storm sounds,
their acoustics a marvel of nature’s engineering,
making your operatic echo magnify itself
in thrilling arias. But then,
at storm’s end – silence. The moon twins
its spotlight on the water, mirroring
itself. You’ve gone quiet, invisible. Yet,
we know you will outlast us all. In our will
we bequeath you the universe.
Don’t forget your songs, whether or not
anyone is left to hear them.
Dear (New England) January
Thank God for you! How thrilling your certainty, your lack of sun, your icy sidewalks, your air dry dry dry on the skin the lips the eyes, your frosted anthills pancaking gray beneath our boots. The lean coyote’s getting leaner, slinking closer to the house. The mice sneak in behind the dryer where it’s nice and warm. The pipes will freeze if we don’t stroke them with the hairdryer. No one wants to take a walk and tempt the Devil of Black Ice. Doggie will have to make do with an open door.
Hooray for you, January! There is no greater hope than standing here, planted in the almost-dark of 4 o’clock. It was darker just two weeks ago, when your older sister dressed herself in Christmas sparklers, merry-making in tiny multi-colored stars. December. The big tease. Will you won’t you will you won’t you snow on Christmas eve? Bring the airports to their knees? Leave travelers sleeping on the floor surrounded by their desperate festive packages?
Dearest January. You rock ‘n roll our thermostats through February. The snowman’s carrot nose has come unhinged, slipsliding towards muddy March. The ice dams cometh. Finally, April. The bravest flowers poke themselves out of the ground. Birds rev up their manic songs in search of mates. Gardeners rake the dead-brown earth. The arborists swoop in, warning of the latest moth-infesting threat to oak, maple, birch…. More money. Also, however, grass. Green leaves. More light.
More light. Spring. Summer. We salute you Janus, two-headed God of portals. You know that, like the past, our future rests assured. It’s enough to make a bully weep with gratitude.
Marian Kaplun Shapiro
Marian Kaplun Shapiro, a previous contributor, 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.