Duality

it’s a question of relativity

ignorant view that there are two

split down the middle a brain’s

how and how not to see landscape

or hear a heartbeat an echo

a distraction from the other

and me thing and essence each

where are we even free

cut through the dry ochred earth

we need borders to cross

and again in almost

of work the transportation business

deficit and accrual an increase

effort of balancing side

is an abstraction rocking us

align to misalign

to the enormous

an exposure of the usual

sides

consciousness divided

when we look outside

detect a rhyme one

by turns stroke evoke you

requiring for identity the other

to fly over this road

this line drawn in the sand

to find ourselves again

the same place this line

a kind of attention

of possible answers in the physical

by side even eye movement

from limbic to critique

a door swung wide

all we could ever ask

Alice B Fogel

Alice B Fogel is the New Hampshire poet laureate. Her collections include A Doubtful House, Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” which won the Schaffner Award for Music in Literature & the 2016 NH Literary Award, & Be That Empty, a national bestseller in 2008. Strange Terrain is her guide to appreciating poetry without necessarily “getting” it. Nominated ten times for the Pushcart, she has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, among other awards, & her poems have appeared in many journals & anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Spillway, Hotel Amerika, The Inflectionist, & DIAGRAM.

On The Complexity of Symbols

            He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his living honestly. —Ben Franklin

 

Right after my mother moved

to South Carolina, a man approached her

after church to show her the Confederate flag

in a stained glass window.

If this took place in a novel,

most readers would be able to deconstruct

the authorial intent

implied by a white man

showing a black woman

his heritage.

 

In Los Angeles, I drove an Oldsmobile,

a symbol of American engineering,

mass production, luxury . . .

It was a couch on wheels,

and one the most likely vehicles

to be used in the commission of a crime.

I could roam the streets of South Central

with impunity,

but in the Valley

I’d be pulled over for DWB.

 

In the rain and through a green-caged enclosure,

I marveled at a maimed bald eagle

and pondered at how

before the Constitution, the presidency,

the Bill of Rights, we placed it on a seal,

minted it,

then took it near extinction.

It shrugged its 6-feet of wings

and let out

an impressive scat.

 

Michele Reese

Michele Reese is a Daughter of the American Revolution and the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant. Her poetry focuses on this place of intersection as well as others including race, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of the poetry collection Following Phia. Her poems have also been published in several journals and anthologies including Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, The Oklahoma Review, Poetry Midwest, The Paris Review, The Tulane Review, Chemistry of Color: Cave Canem South Poets Responding to Art, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race, and Home is Where: An Anthology of African American Poets from the Carolinas. She is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.

Price of a Coin

A turnstile coin

falls in slow motion,

hits with a rattle and a clink.

Rolling to a stop at his feet.

I bend to pick it up,

retrieving long lost visions

of a love that used to be.

Turning from the past,

I walk away.

A burning ache

pulls at me,

filling my heart with sorrow.

I look back one last time.

Coin pocketed,

I board the train

to my redemption.

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: Ethos Literary Journal, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Synchronized Chaos, Pangolin Review, Foliate Oak Review, Better Than Starbucks!, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.

Ceasefire Pantoum

openmouthed, we grasp our children

this is what it means to start

from the beginning

shivering in one’s skin

 

what it means to start

a truce with face and form

soothing in one’s skin

the familial, a mother’s love

 

a truce without face forms

a dead son awash, the tiny body

familial (a brother) loved

now lifeless arms

 

dead son awash, a tiny body

to his mother still through gunfire

now lifeless, disarmed

on the corner by the playground

 

his mother still, though gunfire

crosses her son, the border (lengthwise)

on the corner, the playground

widens with neglect

 

cross with her son at the border

from the beginning

we widen with neglect’s

openmouth gasp, our children

 

Brenda Serpick

Brenda Serpick received her MFA in poetry from The New School and is the author of three chapbooks: ‘the other conjunction in it’ (Furniture Press), ‘No Sequence But Luck’ (3 Sad Tigers Press) and ‘The Female Skeleton Makes Her Debut’ (Hophophop Press). She was a participating poet for Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project (July 2016), and her poems have appeared in Requited, Tule Review, The Potomac, Free State Review, eccolinguistics, Printer’s Devil Review, Spiral Orb, LIT, Lungfull! Magazine, and Boog City – among other fine journals. She currently teaches English and creative writing for Baltimore City Public Schools.

On Growing Old and Discovering Truth

My days are measured

By bottles of discount wine,

My weeks by clean linens;

Each morning

I seek salvation

in a cafe benison.

 

Sleep, sleep divine,

Why should eternal sleep

not be heaven?

 

For religion begins

Where knowledge ends.

 

My little fame in life,

I know,

Will be confined

to a freeway sign:

“Missing Elderly,”

numinous against

a gray morning sky,

Flashing, flashing, flashing

above a highway exit.

 

The door was closed

and did not open,

So how did the cat

go out again?

But remembering to floss

gives each day

a bright new meaning.

 

So knowledge ends

Where religion begins.

 

Italy’s third volcano,

what’s it called?

Not Etna or Vesuvius,

The one in the movie we saw?

I forget, though I should know;

And not Olympus,

with Hera and Zeus

and Jove.

 

For us mortals what does it signify,

purchasing stain remover

by the gallon?

Pessimism of drooled spaghetti

or long life’s delusive

grand ambition?

 

All hail Staphylococcus,

with my name on it;

Where fear reigns,

religion gains.

 

Dough, the financial guru says,

you’ll need ’til you’re ninety five,

or perhaps, I think,

to .38,

Or maybe I’ll rob a bank

or fail to pay my taxes

for a prison bunk

and hospital bed.

But what about the poor teller,

the cop

and the unlucky feller

who has to clean up the mess?

 

But hark!

The coffee grinder churns,

the espresso machine

still renders,

so why should I surrender?

 

Yea, verily, I declare

on my life’s embers

that where true knowledge ends

unyielding ignorance begins

and religion wins.

 

James Garrison

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 fiction and military fiction, and it was a Distinguished Favorite for the 2019 Independent Press Awards and a finalist for the 2018 Montaigne Medal. His creative nonfiction works and poems have appeared in online magazines and anthologies. Sheila-Na-Gig nominated his poem “Lost: On the Staten Island Ferry”‘ for a 2018 Pushcart prize.

she

she hurts

she hurt

she heard

sheep herd

she purged

she pulled

she prayed

she pushed

she played

she paid

she laid

she lays deep in bed

she begged

she bled

she read

she sees red

she led

she is lead

she said

she shed

she shreds

she bred

she bent

she broken

she bruised

she awoken

she amused

she abuser

she abused

she confronted

she confused

she consume

she confess

she undressed

she less

she more

she a mess

she a mistake

she make

she take

she been taken

she was asleep

but now she awaken

 

Mary Ade

Mary Ade is a visual and textual artist based in Indiana. Her deeply personal work seeks to encourage vulnerability within herself and others.