Joni Mitchell sings through my earbuds,
telling me that we got to get ourselves
back to the ga-aar-den as I wait for the bus;
it’s going to take me home & out of reach
of this cold Easter sunlight. Why does spring
hurt more than it used to? Once, just after
Cassandra’s mom came to take her home
the morning after a sleepover, I solemnly
snuck into the backyard & sat & breathed
& breathed & breathed the clean April air.
Now, I’m waiting by an unfamiliar bus stop
after visiting my father in his hospital room
where everything is white & blue & that
bizarre shade of green that isn’t really green.
Snow that isn’t snow; sky that isn’t sky;
grass that isn’t grass. Two nurses frowned
as I tracked mud all through their floor.
I’ll wash my shoes at home, while I think
of when I was growing up & my grandfather
would visit us in the middle of summer.
He & my dad would sit outside on our porch,
talking about the past long after dark.
I should run inside & tell my dad that now
I understand—or at least want in the same
simple way they did—but the bus is coming
soon. Later today, I’ll go over to his house
& water his plants & wait to be changed.
Joanna Cleary (she/her) is an emerging artist and recent graduate of the University of Waterloo interested in using poetry to explore the intersection of sexuality, shame, and the body. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The /tƐmz/ Review, The Hunger, Gordon Square Review, Every Pigeon, Always Crashing,Apricity Press, and Typehouse Magazine, among others.
there is always / so much broken glass / in front of Walgreens / I am surprised / in sandals / none of it has worked / its way / through thin soles / into my callouses / it is part of my personality / in small towns / to go barefoot / through grass / on stage / or on campus /
but here / I track / so much dirt / inside / I take my shoes off at the door but / underneath / my feet / still dark and pebbly / our own floors / I am thinking of winter / when they will be mostly / salt / rocks / caught in my socks / for now I wash my feet / towel / but they are damp / threads / bugs / onion paper / stuck / I should sweep twice a day / then I’ll put down a sheet / lie on my back / arms a T / feet in the air / like / that’s clean
after hours / you leave / your boots / outside the door / you see / my legs shake / you see four corners / join them / with sailor’s knots / cocoon me in cotton / lift and suspend me / upside-down / the ends of my hair / brush the ground / glass
Claire Benevento is a queer writer pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where she also teaches composition. Her poetry appears in Steam Ticket Journal and Backchannels Journal.
at the corner of Troost and Emanuel
--for Steve C.
And on the third day
because I have myths too
to the occasion
rang me on the phone
sang a song into the receiver
maybe Michael Stanley
or “Dream Weaver” —
Let’s get the show on the road, babe
or I’ve just closed my eyes, again.
He said, hey
we should be friends
and I was ecstatic
none of this ever happened —
only at work, one time
after he’d told the boss, I quit
did he show affection.
I’d go to the graveyard
in later years
play hide-and-seek with
the neighborhood children —
I didn’t mean to be morose
or behave like an imbecile
but I’d things to bury too
like the memory of
how he gently placed his hand
beneath my chin
to lift up my head
to gaze ruefully into my eyes
to smile, as if he knew
to just say, Goodbye —
and I remember once,
wrapped around an iron cross
a garter snake
poised to strike.
Stephen Jackson lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. Other work appears in The American Journal of Poetry, Cypress Press, FERAL: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Hole in the Head Review, Impossible Archetype, One, Stone of Madness Press, and on the 2019 International Human Rights Art Festival Publishes platform.
A Cold Chemical Light Warming
Sometimes I don’t recognize what I am doing
as I am doing it amid the sly dance of consonants,
how a shy rhyme sneaks in by late morning
or why a nature the opposite of exuberance
lights up in the evening when the fireflies arrive
and the answer sits cupped in my hand,
its wistful battery going on and off
like a green navigational mark at the dock’s end.
The firefly moves my concentration from the grassland
to the water watching dark pilings at the mouth of a river
approach as slowly as a silent illusion,
the mind’s boat gliding past an unintended accident
and something in memory I no longer do as well
in the absence of the firefly’s cold chemical light.
Michael Salcman is poet, physician and art historian, and was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum. Poems appear in Arts & Letters, The Café Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti, The Enemy of Good is Better, Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing, A Prague Spring, Before & After, winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize, and Shades & Graces, inaugural winner of The Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020). Necessary Speech: New & Selected Poems is forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil (2022).
Lesser Wax Moth
The wax moth wants to get drunk
on the bees' light. Abandon the laughter track
pointing out its ordinary fore and hindwings.
A teaspoon of the sweet light pungent
with the language of the meadow
is all that's needed. Baptise its young
in the buzzing, hypnotic light
and they'll be part of the community
spilling humility. The mangy fox
with xylophone ribs poking
through the fur will be blessed.
The starlings wearing bruise coloured
waistcoats will be blessed.
Silverfish mermaids trying to find
urban seas will be blessed.
Every roach, rat, mouse and moth
will be blessed. The glowing sea of light
will wash away the impurities
stinging our tongues. Praise be.
Christian Ward is a UK based writer who can be currently found in Wild Greens, Cold Moon Review, Discretionary Love and Chantarelle's Notebook. Future poems will be appearing in Dreich, Uppagus and Spillwords.
Bandar Swung by the Wind
Ahmed Rayan El-Nadim
A weak, languid,feeble , elusive, and evasive
Sold its face in markets
It crawls on its knees
Houses Fall above it
Its eyes are blurred
A thousand Loads are on its shoulder
It sold its liver at auctions
It sold its life in suffering and anguishes
Its door is with one hundred bolts and locking
Human voices are calling, singing, and appeals
All seasons are dull
All seasons are busty
With iron chains in necks
People dancing in one leg
Dazing and stunning in Al-Zarat
The hearts are Lemon trees
All eyes are nuggets
There were thin, weak, feeble,
and impotent homes
With the hearts are as orange trees
A weak feeble Bandar is shivering
Its heart is an anxious autumn
A farm embracing the sun
his old face is sweating
And the people are singing High up
on the platforms
With their steel sweaty arms
But there is a bony, grouchy, and a morose
Retreated away, so irritated and upset
Ahmed Rayan El-Nadim is a poet based in Egypt. His work explores the new Egyptian colloquial, post-performance and post-conceptual poetry.
Roman M. Gutierrez
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 and a
finger in his nose. 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.
the table of my fever was in the kitchen of our rented flat on 59th street writing seethed fiver year old glimpse of the old doctor who carried a black bag I was lucky that some docs still made house calls back then he seemed so hold maybe near retirement the kitchen was in the back of the house and the table was wooden I wondered what I was doing there and the stethoscope must have been cold I don't know how he took the temperature
I wonder if he smelled the remnants of a greasy supper I think it was late and maybe the fever broke appetite against high walls this table was a place of learning not an altar of sacrifice or a place of shared content I saw the ceiling and it crested white the windows broke darkness and that's why I knew it was late "She'll be all right" I think he said and I don't know if they gave aspirin back then they didn't know about Reye's syndrome
my mom told me I had measles but it couldn't have been that night but it seemed like it was still dark she said I was delirious and somehow I knew what that meant even though I was only five years old the doctor looked like Doc in Gunsmoke but I knew that Marshall Dillon wasn't there I wondered how many kids were examined by the doc on the kitchen table but we didn't have a car so we were lucky that they still made house calls
and then my fever broke and I was back in my room and in my bed and when I scratched I knew I was awake
Mary E. Croy lives in Madison, Wisconsin where she works as an administrative assistant. She spent nine years teaching English Language Learners in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. During her free time, Mary likes reading poetry and hanging out with her cats, Buster and Gabby.
Toward the Vanishing Point
The old dream freaks the mind from its music. A lane divides the listening fields of corn. A man walks. His shadow shows where sun splits lindens. He saw them planted, saw the road re-paved, saw the tear of artillery,
the rut and tramp of armor into wheat.
He saw the sprays of blood-bloom in the cows’ ribbed hulls, saw their necks dip, lips splay with froth. His steps began in setting the saplings,
in seeing the round little root graves dug
by men whose faces flickered out of shape. It was his animal soul that fluttered
in his throat at the half-empty table.
His shadow stoops where light divides the trees while crows flow over the corn toward the night.
Daniel Fitzpatrick is the author of the novel Only the Lover Sings. His new translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, illustrated by sculptor Timothy Schmalz, is out this year in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. He is completing an MPhil in Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin.
When we caught the pike, it was dusk, and the day
draped the very last of its color
over the western shore
of Jordan lake. I was the one
who took the knife to it
in the dark, severing careful
along the spine, avoiding
the thin bones which stick
between incisors after
the fire - inevitable, I know.
Goddamn - the soothing butter
of the blade over gleaming
and the red swell of roses
round as the dew, while the wind
died and let the trees rest - but
it’s useless this surgery,
we become it - catchers
of my passageway, this love.
Emily Jahn has BA's in Creative Writing and Biology from Northwestern University. Her work has appeared in Plainsongs Magazine, Ligeia, The Ekphrastic Review, and Helicon. She is from Illinois, and enjoys camping, hiking, and canoeing.
I carry silence in a blue circle
on my right forearm, all the memories
I’ve tucked into a color, as though the circle itself
were ocean or sky, an eternity
the size of an open palm or a tiny moon or
a cheek to press against your cheek
while slow dancing in the living room, shoes
kicked off to the side but going-out-clothes
still buttoned and zipped up to our necks. I wear
the scent of late summer and devour
strawberries after dinner for fear I’ll forget
their sweetness too soon. I float
through these aimless days praying I become
a whale, gracefully rearranging
fathoms in my wake.
Alex Layman worked for the San Antonio and Texas Book Festivals, respectively. His interviews, poems, and articles have been published by Kirkus Reviews, The Huffington Post, San Antonio Current, and Haunted Waters Press, among others. He lives in Colorado with his wife, yellow lab, and a rarely seen calico cat.
a voice honeyed jasmine
thick with moss.
She has grown old
against the evening sun,
enveloped in the dust of dusk.
In the reflection
of stagnant pools,
she doesn’t ripple.
the landmarks of her face,
the constancy of her mind.
Time staggers forward.
Katrina Kaye is a writer and educator living in Albuquerque, NM. She is seeking an audience for her ever-growing surplus of poetic meanderings. She was recently published in the April 2021 Issue of Brickplight and her work resides in the April 2021 edition of Fevers of the Mind. She hoards her published writing on her website: ironandsulfur.com. She is grateful to anyone who reads her work and in awe of those willing to share it.