the body as an heirloom: 7-poem collection 

Darcy Dillon

        courtyard visitation 

                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

                sweater dresses 

                the Mother promises: 

                                        The girls loved their great grandmother very much 

                                        Everyone just deals with grief in their own way―

triptych 

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 

bells d

            r

             o

               p

                 p

                   i

                     n

                       g 

                       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 

                       threatening 

                       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.

 

Simon Perchik

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

Donna Pucciani

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

of light.

 

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

upside down. 

 

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

Yuan Changming

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).

 

Dispossession

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 

Worlds. 

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

For wasted

Space. 

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

Mark Henderson

It’s just the wind, they say,

        euphemistically, 

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
(For Machado)

J. Tarwood

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.

 

UNPLUGGED
       for Parker

Jennifer Campbell

Even                        unplugged
words pour out 
           of your pen
                       a bloodletting
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.

 

KAVITA

Ruchi Acharya

From my mother I learnt

how to winnow the puzzling words

of Devanagari,

how to stitch them

and build a world of paradise.

She speaks Hindi,

language of dancing peacocks,

marigold gardens.

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,

 

I smile

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 

speaking another

language

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.

 

love letters

Mya Jassey

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: 

breathless. 

        —your palms read a pale purple grief that sings in a flowing rhythm.

 

Restless

Manish Kukreja

The absence of souls in proximity is drowning,

The drought of sounds in vicinage left

wrenched, The consistence of those I hear is

vicious, 
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.