First, I need you to understand that our son
has two fathers — and no, I don’t mean me
and our Lord in Heaven. The only star hanging
in the sky after his birth, a red blinking beacon
of the radio tower on the roof of that bleak
Guatemalan hotel. The only woman there
not Mary, but Olga, his foster mom
who delivered him sleeping into my anxious arms.
No wise men or shepherds, no cattle rustling
beyond our beds. I’ve yet to see him
skip across the surface of a summer pond
or draw wine from the kitchen faucet. And
our house runs surprisingly short of bread.
You won’t find our son praying to one of us
behind the football bleachers, or atop
any stumps preaching to the other students.
So, for the love of Christ, can you please,
please update your form?
It’s two thousand and twenty in the year
of our lord — my name is not Joseph,
my ex, not anyone’s god. Our boy
is sixteen, our pronouns, He / Him / His.
And we’re fed the fuck up having to decide
which father to list as his mother.
AE Hines is a poet living in Portland, Oregon. He is a recent Pushcart nominee and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including: Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, The Briar Cliff Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, I-70 Review, the Crosswinds Poetry Journal, SLAB, and Pinyon. www.aehines.net
The cabbage knows
only one thing—to head.
The moon looks like a cabbage
or a head but it isn’t either.
Moonlight veils my window
unwelcome down the walls,
too much and in the wrong place.
Dripping sounds keep me awake.
There is no way to contain
moonlight or mop it up.
It pulls on the near skin of the earth,
stretches and makes waves.
I dream here is a huge baby,
round faced, that I have to care for.
I do, and it gets smaller. The moon
is often a metaphor–breast, eye,
fingernail, communion wafer,
scab–yet it is still just the moon.
Mary Jean Port
Mary Jean Port is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her chapbook of poems,“The Truth About Water,” was published in 2009 by Finishing Line Press. She recently had poems published on Indolent Press’ poem-a-day site, “What Rough Beast,” in “Leaping Clear,” and in “ellipsis….” She has work forthcoming from “The Halcyone.” She lives in Minneapolis, where she taught at The Loft Literary Center for twenty years.
In Iran in the rich, delicious pear region,
there sits the centrifuge for the development
of atomic bombs.
I don’t want to end up like Bukowski,
a bitter career alcoholic, Writing classes?
Classes are for asses. (can’t even look
at people or talk to them), hating other poets
Writing is all about leaving behind
as much stink as possible.
Or George Carlin who went from hippie,
dippy weatherman, The forecast for tonight
is mostly dark, but getting light toward
morning, to a working rageaholic
out of rehab and in denial.
I’ve imagined how the two of them
would have gotten along during
an all-night “drinking fest,” insulting
each other to the point of fist cuffs.
I turn on Carlin’s 3a.m. HBO special,
an endless rant, dropping numerous F-bombs.
Lynn says and I agree, Turn it off.
Bukowski, a life-long pugilist of men
and women, Carlin, a pathetic skeleton
of his former self.
in a dangerous atom smashing,
If you have em, smoke em,
deathly moving, indifferent universe.
John Sierpinski has published poetry in many literary magazines such as California Quarterly, North Coast Review and Spectrum Literary Journal. His work is also in eight anthologies. He is a Pushcart nominee. His poetry collection, “Sucker Hole”, was published in 2018 by Cholla Needles Press.
They gentrify the old West with python & ostrich
or click the homesick heels of ruby, the lazy
slip-on slip-off of loafers, inventions of slogans pithy—
moon shoes: mini trampolines for your tootsies. My father’s
army of polished Florsheim nines line up in his closet
in his closet like an obedient narrow-sized parade, my new
daisy Kmart sandals for flirty cheese fries on opening day
of the fair, splotches of chocolate milkshake assault
my saddled oxfords which in turn deliver a bruise
(the size of a coconut) on the mean bitch shin of schoolmate,
negative heels only make campus hills steeper but college
boyfriend’s blue suede shoes make me fall in love for a lifetime,
I ain’t no dominatrix but I know how to work thigh-high boots
intimate as skin, then tibial tendon surgery cause my stilettos
to mutiny. Arrogance of jeweled soles that patronize others
to manipulate their bootstraps, how to shoe the world, dominance
of Air Jordans dangle from a power line, at the sit-in we throw
frenzied sneakers at the mayor, too many screenshots of her
Jimmy Choos but not worse than those evil stepsisters cutting
off their heel or toes. Gibran believed that the earth is always
jazzed whenever it feels our soles bare but we also stand tall
in shoes that resemble buildings, armadillos, or handcrafted
in the wee hours by elves. Wear dreams on your feet my
mother cooed, dew-sprinkled sprigs of rosemary and thyme
tucked overnight under tongues.
Rikki Santer’s poetry has appeared in numerous publications both nationally and abroad including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, The Journal of American Poetry, Hotel Amerika, Crab Orchard Review, Grimm, Slipstream and The Main Street Rag. Her work has received many honors including five Pushcart and three Ohioana book award nominations as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her eighth collection, Drop Jaw, inspired by the art of ventriloquism, was published by NightBallet Press in the spring. Please contact her through her website: www.rikkisanter.com
Through the glass doors,
at the back of the house,
she saw you dancing in the air
by the maples, at the
slanting gentle evening hour,
the day after you died.
You had insisted upon making love to her
when she came home with scars
where her lovely breasts had been.
It’s important to say they were lovely
because you were
and so was she and
you thought her scarred chest was too.
You always laughed at being the dark,
exotic stranger, the foreigner.
Their theories embraced the Other,
but your brown skin they secretly despised.
Speaking their tongue better,
your colleagues envied a playwriting,
motorcycling Sri Lankan
who knew the French, hifalutin books
better than they. Humbug, heartache—
they said you were remote.
You did lay on an Oxford accent
you picked up
in a half hour at Heathrow,
and despite the socialist rap,
strutted a bearing so regal,
you could be cast in a Kipling tale,
but the lines of students
were outside your door,
since uncommon mornings of mist
sticking to hills were in your eyes,
and your voice intoned prayers
for their kind of happiness,
so it might dance with yours.
In a cloud of fire, you rode up to my house
on a new roaring motorcycle.
Hadn’t seen you in months,
but you swooped up my woman
and took her careening
through Amish farmlands,
faster than she could breathe,
yellow machine outracing the hues
of yellow wildflowers,
so she came at eighty miles per.
Your last words while leaving school
for the weekend were I know
my body and the pain in my chest
is just too much life,
so I need to paint myself
across the tan, black,
and white skins of women,
finding my own line
to ride breezes of the night
in a Buddhist concentration,
while longing to dance in the air.
Glen A. Mazis
Glen A. Mazis teaches philosophy and humanities at Penn State Harrisburg. He has published many poems in literary journals, including Rosebud, The North American Review, Sou’wester, Spoon River Poetry Review, Willow Review, The Atlanta Review, Reed Magazine and Asheville Poetry Review (best of 1994-2004). His poetry collection, The River Bends in Time, was published by Anaphora Literary Press in March 2012 (nominated for a Pushcart Prize). His poem won the 2019 New Orchard Press National Poetry contest [The Malovrh-Fenlon Prize] and a chapbook, The Body Is a Dancing Star is in press with them. He also writes books of cultural critique and philosophy, including his newest book, Merleau-Ponty and the Face of the World: Silence, Ethics, Imagination and Poetic Ontology, which appeared in October 2016 (State Univ. of New York Press).
like a molecular cloud
hidden in spring flowers
wings of birds
leaves of artichoke
things eaten touched breathed
a Trojan army at the door
vortex unfelt unseen untasted
a pair of shoes full of venom
razor blade pants
shirt of rose thorns
in your nose mouth heart lungs
until you are overrun by a million ants
carried into gaping
tunnels to feed the young
a thousand invisible punches
to the head
knocking you prone atmosphere
forced into your body
like a reluctant invader until
When I first gazed upon the horizon
of an ocean
saw the endless
All the places I in my mind
Until the bottles
filled with piss
plastic grocery bags
my unused medications
filling the guts
guts of fish
guts of whales
guts of humans
guts of minds
Every vista one
of disguised beauty
floating in planetary
Brad G Garber
Brad has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, and hunts for mushrooms and snakes in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, Front Range Review, Tulip Tree Publishing, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Ginosko Journal, Junto Magazine, Slab, Panoplyzine, Split Rock Review, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine, The Offbeat and other quality publications. 2011, 2013 & 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.