Garden Poem

Joanna Cleary

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.

 

Claire Benevento

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

Imbecile

Stephen Jackson

--for Steve C. 

And on the third day

    because I have myths too

he rose

    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    

though,

    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

Michael Salcman

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

Christian Ward

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

Bandar

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

house

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.

 

Help

Roman M. Gutierrez

my skin is

suffocating me. 

 

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?” 

                “and mom?” 

                “you sure don’t have a Mexican accent.” 

 

i never asked 

for the responsibility 

to teach. 

 

not yet at least. 

 

but my skin is suffocating 

and creating discomfort 

and division 

 

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.

 

Fever Table

Mary Croy

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

Daniel Fitzpatrick

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.

 

Jordan Lake

Emily Jahn

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. 

 

Late Summer

Alex Layman

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.

 

Mare

Katrina Kaye

Time whispers

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.

Merely notes

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.