This thing I wear around me like a talisman is copper from the earth I don’t know why it stains my skin but a healing naked mumbling tribesman will rub shaman ashes into my wounds while cucumbers settle on my lids and warm eggs in the air pool like small white pills reconstructing a sweat lodge meditating body and knife blades part cells of thin skins while the medicinal value of broccoli calcium olive oil and silver coins I stole from the old man watching the pizza-maker twirling golden dough into leafy green crusts while walking through the goat cheese bazaar with chest lumps while I’m on the way to the dentist dancers thumping in dust their nude buttery feet drawing life through straws from a thickened vessel racing room to room wax on wax separating off your melting and porous spine trying to find the clue bombarded by small radiant bullets and rhinoceros horn shark fin yoga light against the bone amidst cries of the pouring of liquids syrups elixirs milk of nuts and hanging fruit sultry wine the anti-oxidants corrective cleansing goldenseal grounding my existence warding off the slow creeping pressing diving thin hollow needles and the mushrooms dried in hot air and dead vegetable matter playa mud sucking pores soft touch of my hand an icy salve a song in the dark and rough memories alive and you wanting every spice every action every soothing voice the comfort of aboriginal fire a thin line of vaccinating friendship the thick repeating muscle of another.
by Brad Garber
Brad has degrees in biology, chemistry and law. He writes, paints, draws, photographs, hunts for mushrooms and snakes, and runs around naked in the Great Northwest. Since 1991, he has published poetry, essays and weird stuff in such publications as Edge Literary Journal, Pure Slush, On the Rusk Literary Journal, Sugar Mule, Third Wednesday, Barrow Street, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Five:2:One, Ginosko Journal, Vine Leaves Press, Riverfeet Press, Smoky Blue Literary Magazine, Aji Magazine and other quality publications. 2013 & 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.
Amidst the murky gloom of San Francisco’s fog, on my commute to work into the Financial District this morning, a little boy got on the bus with his mom as I yawned. He must have been no older than seven or eight. The boy resembled my father when he was that age, which is probably why I couldn’t keep my eyes off him when he sat across from me. We shook hands with a glance.
The boy sat next to a man who’d brought onto the bus a husky-looking dog. The dog sniffed the boy’s feet. The boy looked down, and it was then he realized the dog had two different colored eyes. This fascinated the boy, as did me and everyone else who’d noticed. After some curiosities were shared between boy and Mother, the boy asked the man holding onto the leash what his dog’s favorite color was.
You could see the man contemplating how deeply to go into the fact that a dog’s color perception range is limited compared to that of a human’s. Or, maybe the man was under the influence of the myth that dogs are colorblind and did not want to be the equivalent of a stranger telling a believer that Santa isn’t real.
Instead, the man simply stated, “That’s a good question. I’m not sure. He tends to be more interested in food than colors.” To which the young boy replied, “Brown. It’s probably brown.”
During an intimate moment between boy and dog, when the man reached to pull the cord to notify the conductor of his desire to get off at the next stop, the dog turned to the boy, nodded like men often do when saluting each other as they walk by, and then winked with its crystal blue left eye at the boy. The boy tugged at his mom to see if she had observed this moment, but she too was reaching for the cord.
All four got off at the corner of Market and Third streets. Man leading dog by the leash up Market Street. Mother pulling boy by the arm heading toward the Third Street crosswalk. But the dog and boy remained locked, looking back at each other in a scene of beauty, silence, and sympathy that can only be described as colorful.
by Julián Esteban Torres López
Julián Esteban Torres López spent 13 university years studying Philosophy, Communication, Justice Studies, Political Science, and Latin American Studies. He’s a researcher, writer, educator, and editor with nearly two decades of experience working with publications, historical societies, and cultural and research institutions, and has held leadership positions in the academe, journals, the business sector, and history museums. His debut collection of minimalist poetry, Ninety-Two Surgically Enhanced Mannequins, can be found on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter: JE_Torres_Lopez
You draw colored circles on my back in front of a fire that might have burned for centuries. Important Things always existed, always pierced us, always blew our minds. We went hiding under the pecan tree, one for each of us, on opposite corners of my yard, where all the leaves fall, the squirrel cracks up, and the hawk watches like he cannot believe us. Never mind the oak. The oak was too big, too old, too true. (“Two” does not make sense anymore.)
It was nice to see you breathe it.
The soundless old woman dressed in blue and white left me here alone and naked. Many years passed, stretched before the fire, with my head north, with my head south, all track of time lost. I did not expect you anymore. And yet you showed up eating a hamburger sitting at the table, surprised, but only a little, to see me naked in front of the fire with this crown of white and blue feathers.
Maybe if I give you my headdress, you will change your ideas. You get up and come to stretch before the fire with me. I turn around and I show you my white breasts, rather than make love, your hands get closer to my heart to draw more circles.
Never mind, I tell you about the Patriarch, a Child of the Magnetic Desert who believes he’s a witch cause he’s wearing a black mask painted like a tiger that someone lent him; that I went there to know why I was not important to a father that loved me so I could work in peace; that my job was to walk the path around the pond, picking flowers and making wishes, while he looked at me from the balcony grinding his teeth and stroking white cats.
His stories will never be as good as mine, his desire never so intense, his pleasure will never satisfy him! He thinks he is the ringmaster of worlds, the savior of his kind, the rider of beasts. Because of him, I returned to the wall of pain, climbed it, answered my own questions. I have no parents. I made the incredible effort. I am beginning and end; I said my name. I took off the garment they gave me, dropped it onto the checkered floor.
Now I walk so the stars connect with the earth on my back, I throw a healing blanket, Black and White are no more. I watch the blood of dragons penetrating each other, birthing the rose that I carry, so young men wake up excited and old men can die in peace.
Be my lover.
By the way, it is the time of the rose. I eat the density that was the bread of those days, I exhale the scent of roses.
by Viviane Vives
Viviane Vives is a filmmaker, actor, photographer, and writer. Viviane is a Fulbright scholar for Artistic Studies (Tisch School of the Arts, NYU) and her translation work, poems, and short stories have been published internationally. Viviane’s recent publications are poetry in the Southeast Missouri University Press, a short story, “Todo es de Color,” in Litro Magazine of London, and a ten page story in The Write Launch: ” In the oblique and dreamlike style of Marguerite Duras, Viviane Vives weaves memories of her ancestors and place—Nice, Barcelona, Perth, New South Wales, Texas—in “Dialogues With Your Notebook,” a stunning literary achievement.” One of Viviane’s pictures and a poem, “Step-Nation” will be published in July on Vagabonds: an Anthology of the Mad Ones and four of her flash fiction pieces were published in Five:2:One magazine this year. She was also a finalist of the Philadelphia Stories’ Sandy Crimmins National Prize in Poetry.