the body as an heirloom: 7-poem collection
the Family unravel under the weight of visitation rites within the
funeral parlor the exchange of words previously sealed behind
flush lips the currency of
breathy prayers mumbled regrets gossip
the stale taste of i love you’s that arrived too late
and the Mother hovers by the door leading into this dark bustle
her lips painted pomegranate and acting as a shield
making excuses voice echoing out into the courtyard
to cousins overwhelmed by the dry eyes of her two children more
fixated on pink and blue flowers petals once as vibrant as their own
the Mother promises:
The girls loved their great grandmother very much
Everyone just deals with grief in their own way―
If reliquaries cradle
the bones of Saints,
am I my mother’s
urn spilling her memory
If reliquaries inspire
the kneeling believers
am I my father’s
hearth searing his fingertips
If reliquaries protect
the visage of greatness,
am I my family’s
sin inking this parchment
(in the wake of) three volleys
gunshot thunder gives way in our ears
my grandpa sent off to oblivion burial
with blaring cornet snare and
against the pavilion stone
those twenty-one rifle shells
soon to become my aunt’s windchime
singing over her tomato garden
there’s an intimacy in knowing
that Dayla and I born two years and two days apart
were both conceived in the backseat of my father’s black Lincoln
one of us after a wedding when liquor sprang from the dancefloor
the other after a funeral when touch became a lightning rod for relief
my mother doesn't remember which of us is which
on days where the sun warms up the rug and we nap with cats
in the squares of window light we are wedding babies
on days where the cold bites our noses and we huddle in the backseat
in a minivan going twenty over we are funeral babies
I: The Mother
if you tip over her reliquary urn,
a chunk of dusty vertebrae
clatters to the ground with ash
four back surgeries worth of metal pins
wedged in her spinal column
even so, she still harnessed
strength enough to drag me,
fourteen and screeching,
up the bruising basement stairs
by the hair I grew long
the kitchen sink, years later,
supports her weight
to drown her
over back aches
II: The Father
if you sweep out his neglected hearth
nasal bones, shorter than a thumb
mingle with the fading embers
a spiderweb of scarred fissures
from years of sniffing out conflict
his body looms over cereal bowls
the glass clinking from baritone
his nose a crimson heart attack
finger jabbing close enough
to tilt my glasses sideways
and then recedes with shaking fist
pinching the bridge of his nose
his feet propped up for the fire
III: The Family Spirit
if you dig up their desolate graves
drag out those lacquered coffins
and axe the rotten wood to splinter
the corpses will speak behind your back
wriggling their maggot tongues
clustered around the rusting stovetop
coal eyes train on a carefree child
wheeling around the basement pole
at age six, I already discourage elders
those crones who brand me a stripper
now, their photo albums gather dust
upon my grandma’s curio shelf
pages yellowing from decades
of tracing the family trees
chopped down for new caskets
Darcy Dillon is a Creative Writing alum from Columbia College Chicago whose writing has been featured in Hair Trigger 2.0 and Mulberry Literary, prior to taking up the role of co-managing editor. They are currently arranging several chapbooks and anthologies to be independently published, however, they spend most of their time juggling projects as a freelance artist, writer and editor. In the future, they plan on building a non-profit to support young artists and writers in the south Chicago suburbs, encouraging them to pursue their degrees and follow their artistic visions professionally.
You don't have a door though the dead
are welcome, given a room and comforted
by neighbors as if before you became dirt
you must have sensed it coming
felt the ground tremble ̶ even now
you're leery ̶ after each burial
you lose strength, have to be carried back
shovel to shovel as the great weight
in all that's left ̶ it's what makes dirt dirt
turns the light from mighty galaxies
watery by the time it reaches the ground
as snow, rounding out the Earth
from the center where there was none before
̶ you rely on the sun for the slope
that never forgets when to circle down
make a valley for the missing it still warms
as if here there wasn't any life, just you
and the silence reaching out, cold and wet.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Family of Man Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2021. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at simonperchik.com
To view one of his interviews please follow this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK774rtfx8
The longest night
arrives as if everything were normal,
as if this street of dreams, bathed in shadow,
is meant for us to enter, enchanted,
to find a place of comfort here, to pray
to a starless sky, blanketed in the absence
It’s better this way, easier to forget
the day’s list of tragedies, the deaths
of old friends, the plague besieging us,
each alone in a curtained room,
trying to breathe.
We are Jonah in the belly of the whale.
We are Job, enduring a biblical sequence
of tortures. We are the martyred Messiah’s
procession of saints and centuries, crucified
A lightless universe is ours now,
a dubious grace freely given
by the gods who take pleasure
in human pain. We try not to remember
nights spangled with sequined stars.
Is this a blessing or a punishment,
this quilt of death, this musty breath
that sucks us up like the mouth
of a New York subway, stinking
of human decay? We wait until a roaring train
arrives to carry us, masked and dying, jolting
to whatever lies beyond the too-bright lights.
There are times when it’s better not to see.
The scent of fear infects our breath,
our animal smell, crowded as we are
on a blue planet, shrouded in a coverlet
knit from the horrors of a discarded day,
spinning on the dark side of the moon.
Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry worldwide in Shi Chao Poetry, Journal of Italian Translation, Voice and Verse, Li Poetry, Poetry Salzburg, Meniscus and other journals. Her seventh and most recent book of poems is EDGES.
The Origin of Selfhood: a Bilinguacultural Poem
Between Yin and Yang: All Set to See
The Origin of Selfhood: a Bilinguacultural Poem
1/ I vs 我: Denotations
The first person singular pronoun, or this very
Writing subject in English is I , an only-letter
Word, standing straight like a pole, always
Capitalized, but in Chinese, it is written with
Lucky seven strokes as 我 , with at least 108
Variations, all of which can be the object case
At the same time.
Originally, it’s formed from
The character 找, meaning ‘pursuing’, with one
Stroke added on the top, which may well stand for
Anything you would like to have, such as money
Power, fame, sex, food, or nothing if you prove
Yourself to be a Buddhist practitioner inside out
2/ Human & 人: Connotations
Since I am a direct descendant of Homo Erectus, let me
Stand straight as a human/人, rather than kneel down
When two humans walk side by side, why to coerce one
Into obeying the other like a slave fated to follow/从?
Since three humans can live together, do we really need
A leader or ruler on top of us all as a group/众?
Given all the freedom I was born with, why
Just why cage me within walls like a prisoner/囚？
Between Yin & Yang: All Set to See
1/ Yin: The Mare in the Rain
Standing still on a huge rock
The pale horse holds its head high
As if it had been running fiercely
On a wild prairie, looking up afar
To the most distant mountain
Its eyes glittering as raindrops
Keep falling from heaven
Straightly down to hell, &
Water-carving its paleness
Into a demonic statue of history
2/ Yang: The Pause for (R)e.volution
Long long before long ago, Earth
Was originally set within a koru
Unfurling at every antlike moment
Directly towards the sun, until
Now it is too overloaded
With evil spirits & viruses
To continue revolution as it
Tries to return to itself
Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include Pushcart nominations and publications in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others. In 2021, Yuan served on the jury for Canada's 44th National Magazine Awards (poetry category).
Amy Van Duzer
I sleep cupping handfuls of my flesh,
Dreaming of sacred utopian
Spaces. An in between
Where we live in
Dispossession of our bodies,
A place exists. I know it must.
Our remnants float in muted sounds,
In between the two sides.
In between the eternal
Bereft of the photos,
The plastic and the screens.
Without the too bright office lumosity.
We exist in pearlescent shades,
In velveteen lilly and peach.
Here, we make up
Amy Van Duzer is a lifelong writer and candidate of the MFA at Mt. Saint Mary's in Los Angeles. Her work has been featured in "Flora Fiction" "The Drabble" and "Cephalo Press" amongst others.
The Wind and the Leaves
It’s just the wind, they say,
of the zombie king teaching,
in order to be seen,
the leaves to walk though they’re dead;
to be felt is not enough—
how he pets us like strays
he can’t afford to take in.
Mark Henderson is an associate professor of English at Tuskegee University. He earned his Ph. D. at Auburn University with concentrations in American literature and psychoanalytic theory. He has poems published or forthcoming in Cozy Cat Press, From Whispers to Roars, Defenestrationism.net, Bombfire, and Former People. He was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana, and currently resides in Auburn, Alabama.
portrait or acting
Katie Lynn Johnston
you said she stabbed her husband
fifteen times. her name now i can’t
remember—her mugshot i do: the
purple beneath her eyes, the stark
lines in her cheeks, the pale matte
of her skin, the way her hair stood
up on end. she looked nothing like
i’d known her, but sometimes
when we’d press our noses to the
mirror and she’d say, Smile, and then
she’d say, Frown, and then she’d
say, Scream—our reflections fogging
up with our howls—i’d see her from
out of the corner of my eye, her
hair orange and red like apple skin,
glasses tipped at the nose, glittered
like the color of embers, and i’d
see someone i had never known.
Katie Lynn Johnston is a queer creative writing undergraduate at Columbia College Chicago. She has been an editor for the Columbia Poetry Review, Mulberry Literary, and a production editor for Hair Trigger Magazine. Her work has appeared in Hair Trigger, Hoxie Gorge Review, Lavender Review, among others, and her essay, “The Barriers Faced by Female Writers,” was published on the Fountainhead Press website and won the Excellence Award at the Student Writers’ Showcase in 2019.
Snow. From a tavern in an open field,
I see a home where firewood sputters
for a kettle stammering bubbles.
Field’s stiff. Snow falls and falls,
as if hiding fossils.
An old man’s near the fire.
Coughing up spit, he’s not me yet.
On his sweater going to seed,
a girl sews a green ribbon.
Old folks have lost their mules.
They walk the white land at night,
losing rut and then path
tracking phosphorescent peaks.
In the lathe of the fire,
there’s an empty space.
On the old man’s forehead,
there’s a gruff frown
like a shadowy spur
to prick awake the smoldering log.
His old woman stares.
Road’s clean as a bone.
On green walls, the girl thinks,
pretty young things have run
to make days blue and gold
when white daisies take a mind to grow.
J. Tarwood has been a dishwasher, a community organizer, a medical archivist, a documentary film producer, an oral historian, and a teacher. Much of his life has been spent in East Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Currently living in China, he has published five books, The Cats in Zanzibar, Grand Detour, And For The Mouth A Flower, What The Waking See, and The Sublime Way. He has always been an unlikely man in unlikely places.
words pour out
of your pen
a hammer slammed down on an artery:
Horseflies orbited around
the miserable planet of his body
One man needs a pill to release his truth
Another needs the pill crushed
into a powder, tainting applesauce with iron
But you only need time devoted
to your I and multiplication
once impossible chance possible
if you keep one ear trained
on the universe’s thready pulse
Jennifer Campbell is an English professor in Buffalo, NY, and a co-editor of Earth’s Daughters. She has two full-length poetry collections, Supposed to Love and Driving Straight Through, and her chapbook of reconstituted fairytale poems will be published by Dancing Girl Press in 2021. Jennifer’s poems have recently appeared in The Healing Muse, Heirlock, deluge, The Sixty-Four Best Poets of 2019, Paterson Review, Little Patuxent Review, and Bond Street Review.
From my mother I learnt
how to winnow the puzzling words
how to stitch them
and build a world of paradise.
She speaks Hindi,
language of dancing peacocks,
It sounds like tuning a Sitar.
Time flies by,
I’m stuck in a language trap
in a foreign land,
a thousand miles away
from Taj Mahal.
I stammer, I stay quiet,
I restrict myself
and fall behind.
At the end of the tunnel
I swept back to the beginning
How my mother taught me
the meaning of these words:
‘Himmat’, ‘Vishwas’, and ‘Vijay’
‘Courage’, ‘trust’, and ‘victory’.
Determined I wonder,
Do we speak languages or do
languages speak to us?
That starry night I realize
our emotions value language,
the moment I recite
Kavita on the stage.
I am wearing my mother’s saree,
A carefully placed
red dot on my head.
Now, I can trust myself
No longer am I afraid of
I trace my steps back to
where my journey started and
I can see my mother fetching
water from the well.
Her bangles rattles and
her mind is lost staring
into hollow darkness.
She sits on her rocking chair
with a cup of Chai, wrapped
in her Pashmina shawl
in the wooden cabin
amidst the Kashmir valleys
The Anjora rabbit hops,
she waits and notices
a younger reflection of
herself paving the way.
She runs, they meet and hug
and write Kavita like good-old days.
Ruchi Acharya is a Business Analyst by profession. She is the founder of an international writing community popularly known as Wingless Dreamer. She is an Oxford University summer graduate in English Literature. She has been a contributor to multiple writing platforms such as The Pangolin Review (Mauritius), Fairytalez.com (Denmark), Overachiever magazine (China), Rigorous Magazine (USA), Detester magazine (USA), Loose Tooth Magazine (USA), Rhodora (India), Borderless Journal (India), Mulberry Literary (USA), and Eminent Magazine among others. Her literary works include poetry, love stories, and motivational quotes. She has a deep interest in Victorian Literature.
it’s a starry scene in the warm beehive.
blue glows rise off this milky lagoon.
steam and waves roll around our calves.
the dance’s silence rings off our fingertips,
compelling them to reach together in an aching hold,
but it’d be foolish to think we were the only ones to bathe here.
no, the queen brought us,
lured us to her honied ocean city with stirring hums.
she chose us.
we need to have a taste, just a drop,
to do fast laps in her pools of nectar and spin around each other’s figures in unrestrained strokes.
here we are:
—your palms read a pale purple grief that sings in a flowing rhythm.
The absence of souls in proximity is drowning,
The drought of sounds in vicinage left
wrenched, The consistence of those I hear is
The machines and their friction are the only sounds left,
Nights, I can feel the rather fade in voice;
The only Human one, the one in my head,
Quarter asleep, I start thinking about them;
The few people I thought, I'd always care,
On its limits already, my body begs to sleep,
Done counting, I've counted a millennia of sheep,
Uncertain it is will I be able to sleep or what, But certainly,
I'll kill the next budding thought, Now I've started feeling
the time in its motion, The only sound left now are the
machines and their friction.
Manish Kukreja is a Mechanical Engineer by profession from Indore, India. While not being a professional poet, he took this as a hobby during his long working hours at his job. The second poem, Restless was inspired by one such 16 hour shift and the restlessness that followed, which not unique to him can be related to by many engineers and factory workers. The first poem, Prodigy, was inspired by that little child in all of us, marketed by our superheroes that we can be whatever we want to be and change the world for good, in every single day of our existence.