A Note to the School Registrar

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

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

Grief Is Round

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.

Late Night, Hotel, HBO

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.

 

Both mummified

in a dangerous atom smashing,

If you have em, smoke em,

deathly moving, indifferent universe.

 

 

John Sierpinski

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.

Well Shod

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

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

The Sri Lankan with a Scar Across His Cheek

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,

screeching yellow,

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).

Brad G Garber

Viral

 

Floating around

like a molecular cloud

 

hidden in spring flowers

wings of birds

leaves of artichoke

faces    cloth

 

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

 

maybe

 

in your nose    mouth  heart    lungs

blood

 

until you are overrun by a million ants

carried into gaping

tunnels to feed the young

through winter

 

a thousand invisible punches

to the head

 

knocking you prone    atmosphere

forced into your body

 

like a reluctant invader           until

 

mystery subsides.

 

 

The Sink

 

When I first gazed upon the horizon

of an ocean

saw the endless

Endless freedom

Endless hope

Endless dreams

Endless art

Endless Earth

Endless life

All the places I in my mind

 

Until the bottles

filled with piss

Styrofoam

plastic grocery bags

six-pack rings

straws

bags

my unused medications

inorganic detritus

filling the guts

guts of fish

guts of whales

guts of humans

guts of minds

Every vista one

of disguised beauty

floating in planetary

trash.

 

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.

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