Four Untitled Catastrophe Poems
Darren C. Demaree
each ask a backward way
each gift a confirmation
of our freedom follow
me to unreasonable
giving be lost here right
here lose your name empty-hand
the landscape close your eyes
regardless the light finds you
what return what return
fields my time fire and fire
a smile a devotion
atoms atoms all blood
i take my brain to remove
the idea of heaven
& i grow more desperate
to save the burial
lands we all share in that way
i’m home with or without
find your chattering ears
pinch then with a raw meat the fox
of this moment looks hard
for unsteady listeners
slow your wrong direction
the blood will fill the canals
do not lie down the fox waits
& the crop can be drowned
our bond exists because
not all songs need to be loud
& you are listening
intently you feel good safe
enough to allow my
whispering right now do not
run the mist is not fog
the heaving is real lie down
help me breathe for the lamb
Darren C. Demaree is the Editor in Chief of the Best of the Net Anthology and Managing Editor of Ovenbird Poetry. His poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including Hotel Amerika, Diode, North American Review, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of sixteen poetry collections, most recently 'a child walks in the dark' (November 2021, Harbor Editions). He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.
Laurel S. Peterson
A room, sort of like the arrivals hall at JFK
on a weekday morning at about 7,
when all the transpacific flights arrive at once
and the crowd bunches like last night’s dinner
moving from stomach through intestines
and into colon; where first
one negotiates questions
and impenetrable machines and, finally,
someone unsmiling asks
if you’ve done all your paperwork,
paid your parking tickets, taxes and dues,
if you’ve avoided jaywalking and fattening
your children like Hansel and Gretel’s witch,
then maybe you’ll be expelled from this life
into the damp emptiness of eternity.
Because there’s always the option
of a small, closed room
and a couple of officers
in uniforms that stink as though
they’ve been working back-to-back
twelve-hour shifts, and a large German shepherd
who sits by your knee panting,
and those grubby hands examining
the underwear you packed last night in Auckland
after the only shower you’d taken
in six days. Disgust etches itself
between his eyebrows in parallel lines
and you know the next step is hell.
Because there’s always the possibility
that way back in that place before the line starts
where you fell off the zipline and broke your neck
or ate just one more cream-filled doughnut
or performed one last backflip into the pool,
someone will step in and shock you back to life,
shove you out of line, escort you to the taxi rank,
tell you to behave and get it together and what were you thinking,
and, joy of all joys, let you ride
back into the smelly, living heaven
of whatever is left of your life.
Laurel S. Peterson is a Professor of English at Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. Her work has been published many literary magazines. She has two poetry chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds (Finishing Line Press), and Talking to the Mirror (Last Automat Press), and two full-length collections, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? (2017) and Daughter of Sky (2022) both from Futurecycle Press. She also has written two mystery novels, Shadow Notes (2021) and The Fallen (2022), from Woodhall Press. She was the poet laureate for the city of Norwalk, Connecticut, from 2016 – 2019 and serve on the editorial board of Inkwell magazine.
WHAT CHARLENE IMAGINES WHEN YOU DIE
Perhaps I Will Always Be A Child
Trianne Harabedian Flores
Sometimes, I am surprised
by how little time I have been alive,
how few moons I have circled the sun.
Counted spider web shimmer rings.
I cradle information, rectangular in my grasp,
pages and glass and blue light.
How strange to know things
that happened before I existed.
How peculiar to still be unraveling
moments when I was there,
breathing and watching.
How odd to be aware
there are invisible spiders living on my face,
munching on the oil and dirt,
cleansing my skin and falling in love
and having babies and dying.
What can I do about all this knowledge?
Trianne Harabedian Flores holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University, as well as a MA and MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She works in collegiate instructional technology and resides in Fresno, California.
WHILE AWAITING SPRING
(After Tu Fu)
A fat cloud stumbles
over the last light. The moon
comes into sight. Leaves fall
where shadows sit
like old men,
sipping cold tea.
My garden lies
under winter snows,
but in my mind’s eye
I see daffodils
straining toward the sky,
and bees gathering nectar
before the last flowers die.
George Freek's poetry has appeared in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem "Written At Blue Lake" was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poem "Enigmatic Variations" is currently nominated for Best of the Net. His poem "Night Thoughts" is also nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His collection "Melancholia" is published by Red Wolf Editions. His collection "Melancholia" is published By Red Wolf Editions.
I Dream in Absence
of actual sleep. My semi-conscious
mind forages through drawers full of potential
emotional triggers in search of inspiration,
something tangible to hold
on to, an anchor to keep us securely
under slumber’s fickle waves, or to drag us,
unwillingly, into tomorrow’s sight.
A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has published 27 collections and chapbooks of poetry. In addition, she has published her work in numerous national and international literary journals. She is currently the editor for Kind of a Hurricane Press literary journals ( www.kindofahurricanepress.com ).
I jumped into a lake with bricks you tied to my ankles
As I watched the beauty of the evening float to the surface
I ran out of air
And as I lay there so stupid
My life seeping into the sand
You ran off and forgot
Didn’t you love me;
Didn’t you care?
Just tell me why.
You wanted to see the sunset
One of many kinds
For you, for me, for us
I called your name
And my chest filled with water
Escaping through my eyes
But then you looked for me?
Concerned when I didn’t scurry to your call?
Had you forgotten what happened in the dark?
Grace Stevens is 15 years old. Writing has become her passion and her outlet for things that she can't adequately express otherwise.
my skin is
because the responsibility
is truly unbearable
but not because i
don’t want it
but because i have
to field questions about it
my hair, too
and not considerate ones
not questions concerned
with the man standing before them
questions about people
that i now speak for
“where is your dad?”
“you sure don’t have a Mexican accent.”
i never asked
for the responsibility
not yet at least.
but my skin is suffocating
and creating discomfort
my skin is my chore
that i am trying to love.
Roman M. Gutierrez is an aspiring writer gifted with talent galore. Those include -- but are not limited to -- breathing, blinking, and overthinking. Roman can often be found with his nose in a book. His most prized possession is a medal bought at a local thrift store he pretends he actually won. Personable, kind, witty, and enjoys long naps on the couch, Roman is one of a kind.
Joan Miro's Catalan Landscape (The Hunter)
Miro’s hunter can walk his landscape
with enough serenity to smoke his pipe
because his world is abundant with life:
birds, snakes, deer, and fish sufficient to take
and feed whoever is waiting at home.
So this chore is a pleasure too. He’ll bring
back dinner, but now he can take time to think
the long thoughts he has when his mind can roam.
Miro’s hunter has figured it out, of course,
not to live a simple life. No one does.
He understands what is real and what is not.
Food is real. The deer he stalks, his horse,
his wife, his kids, the way the sky changes
color, how right now at dawn it turns butterscotch.
John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction including his latest, Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press). He lives in Jamestown, New York.
speak to others
I am not proud of the things I've said
To take back a thousand words, and perhaps one more. To swallow the sound that’s passed.
To be deafened in my disgrace.
to un-hear what I’ve heard, or perhaps indifference will do. To rip bullets out those loaded words.
To soften the rage in my misery.
But it was I, who screamed
“Be proud of what you have to say or do not speak at all.”
I promise I’ll be better.
Cathy Shang is a junior studying in Shanghai. She enjoys creating digital art and animations and is very active in parliamentary debate.