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poetry

Down on Grafton St.

This is a walk home in

early morning fog after rainfall.

Step by step, the cobblestones

remind me to stay sober.

Excuse me—pardon—

watch it—watch out—

keep walking—I said

move along—

She’ll be mad at me

for being out all night,

I know it.

She’s waiting for me

beneath our

white-hot kitchen lamp,

I know it.

I feel a hunched dread

for what will come:

twisting the knob,

setting foot in the foyer,

sliding off my boots,

and a severed voice

asking where have you been?

I want to lather propane,

singe these fears,

the mist of her voice,

from my matted skin,

let them burn out

on the mossy Grafton stone.

There I am, in still puddles,

each passing step

breaks me in dirty water.

My jeans, soaked through,

the threading’s undone.

She’ll be mad about that too,

I know it.

I need to sober up,

find our red Georgian

door, but on Anne St.

they’re all painted black.

Did Prince Albert die again?

If I go through

the wrong door,

I may find a new wife,

a new stranger.

Matt Gillick is from Northern Virginia. Most of his published work is available on mattgillick.com.

A Sippy Cup Laments

I have no juice, no dribbles, no hands

to hold me, to spin me into a rollicking orbit

on the floor, no click on the highchair rim,

rolling back and forth, back and forth,

milk, streaming from my open lip—

in tune to the toddler’s laughter.

I remember the mother turning away

from the kitchen sink – no laughter,

not even a smile, just a glare

and a “Nooooo, you know you’re not…”

Her scolding words fade as she stands

alone now. The silence of the kitchen

swallows her breath.

Marcia J. Pradzinski has authored two books of poetry, Left Behind, and As One Day Slips Out of the Shoe of Another. Various journals, anthologies, and websites have featured her poems. Recent publications include Aeolian Harp Anthology Six, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Highland Park Poetry, Poetica Review, among others.

Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5

In one version: there’s a Scottish band playing upstairs

and we swarm it like flies / windows

darken, the singer clad in yellow /

we laugh so delighted, this happenstance

as longed-for as air underwater / I can’t stop spilling

beer on your shoes / the singer strains

to tell us everything about living free / but

we can only dance, tripping over our feet like philistines.

In another: you’re dancing with fixed eyes,

bopping like you do / and then it’s later on,

I hear myself speaking underwater / I confess my delight

and you tell me you’ve had enough — no, not of me

or of these almost-trysts I happenstance — but of the freedom

we have or don’t have / to back away slowly. 

My coat gets caught in the fencepost / disappointment

is hardly ever tender, wide, and tried and true instead.

Kelly Konya is a poet native to Cleveland, Ohio. Her work is featured in several publications including Honest Ulsterman, Banshee, Abridged, Cold Coffee Stand, and the original issue of Lucky Jefferson. She is currently at work on her first collection and novel.

When I Think about Leaving

                                                                   “I am the bird am I?         I am the throat?

                                                                   A bird with a curved beak.

                                                                   It could slit anything, the throat-bird.”

—Muriel Rukeyser, “The Speed of Darkness”

 

In a yellow alley, the throat-bird  

is rummaging near the grate, overcooked meat

smells and cabbage roots circling around her. 

The warm air rushing up

reminds her of the last good day.

It is only recently that the throat-bird

has had to call herself before

and after. With her beak stuck in a melon,

she heaves silent. Breaks

the rind slow like the conversation

she has been avoiding with her lover for months.

The flesh is rotted, anyways,

and dusk is the best time in this field town

for the throat-bird. Restaurants tossing out

their first rounds of scraps, the pink penumbras

over streetlamps flicking on. At ten sharp

the traffic lights change to flashing red

in one breath. She goes

away from the passion-light, to her thick

skull of a room, to its view above the silos

and their cache of permanent joy and effortless love.

On the edge of town, all the telephone wires

are humming with her tiny fears.

Emmy Newman lives on an island so small it doesn’t even have a stoplight. Her work has previously appeared in Poetry Northwest, CALYX: A Journal, New Ohio Review, Yemassee, and elsewhere. She currently serves as the Marketing & Events Manager for Split/Lip Press.

where god is called the Name

during torah reading, we played lion king/ 

zig-zagging in the coat room, we were cave hyenas 

swaddled, draped, enveloped in found layers/

in spring, it was handball in the parking lot/

there were dark glass doors 

but familiar suits shuffled in through the side/

the ceiling was low, not high/

the shul’s carpet was green and worn/

always late, my father would smirk—

you know, aleinu is really the most important part anyway/

after davening they served entenmann’s donuts/

loud men poured whiskey at 11am/

once I hugged a skirt-leg and looked up and it was not my mother/

fear drizzled/my body sometimes shaky/I was never lost/

I couldn’t and still can’t pronounce pentateuch

but it blew my mind that one book can be called so many different things/

on yom kippur, bonds are sold for a dream too-realized/

all across the calendar, prayers beg salvation for some/

when I asked my mother to stop waking me up on saturdays

she cried, afraid she would lose me/

a question mark lodged in my throat/

one foot in, one foot out/

then repenting, atoning

insisting that I’ll put all three of my feet in/

Alex Baskin is a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School. He is originally from New Jersey; he can do a handstand, though it hurts his wrists; he is always on the lookout for clothing brands that sell men’s size XS. Have you ever noticed how rarely biographies include questions?

On Green Dolphin Street

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎bluing

chords of uh huh! Spit

halting sunrises

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎f‏‏‎at,

burping tenor runs

tapping nectar

from wind-

drunk stoplights

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎alto

sax squeezing juice

from adrenaline-laced

Now!

‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎inside

kernels of cymbal

shudder: this poem.

Renoir Gaither is a tambourine. His cymbals, if they could write, would write themselves off this oppressive planet. Once and for all. The wood that holds his taunt skin is mahogany. Old stock. He’s sitting in an old box in the basement, any urban basement where old folks knock around stories of loves gone sour and young folks wish they could write in cursive. Beat him on your hip and he’ll make you dance.

In Pieces

Morning fractures the darkness,

then divides itself among motes of sun.

Before reality filters dreams,

my father visits, his Parkinsonian tremors

meeting my mind’s lost reach for the past,

his square hands once spinning a tennis racket

or, eyes on the sky, readying his serve.

Dawn brings the visage of cousins

across an ocean. I breakfast while they lunch.

They will die without my farewell.

I send books in English for the children.

Years and miles fall apart like brittle bones,

broken toys, syllables of a harvest moon

turning tides into undertow.

Time now to rise from my bed

and chase the day which disappears ahead

like stars that die before we can catch them.

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, is the author of seven books of poetry. She spends her covid days writing, playing piano, checking on her friends near and far, and participating in community dialogues on social justice issues. Her latest book is EDGES.

Old Toads

(with a wink for Philip Larkin)

What about us without

work or pension?

All those years

of trouble and toil

and not even a bicycle

to sell on eBay.

When they toss

us in the mulch

we must live by

our wits.

What? Did you think

I said warts?

Frank William Finney taught literature at Thammasat University in Thailand for 25 years. His work has appeared in numerous publications including: Constellations, Marathon Literary Review, Millennial Pulp, Variant Literature, and elsewhere. He currently lives in the Boston area.

nostalgia

the first time i left you & austin/instead of groping down the minutes/we tangled our eyes across the bed/every hue of green reminds me/like placid drop of memory/shrug-woven hilltops/place-memories never leave/home is wherever i’m with you/perpetual vegas neon strip malls/a spill a stain & fighter jets screaming above/wine-drunk on sandcastles/or camp-marsh backyard outside savannah/bottomless in the dark first night/i bruise my shin so fast/the pain lingers into next year

D. E. Fulford is a writer and English instructor at Colorado State University. She holds master’s degrees in both creative writing and education and is presently in her second year of her Doctor of Education. Her chapbook, Southern Atheist: Oh, Honey, is forthcoming from Cathexis Northwest Press. Other poems can be found in Blood Pudding Press, Indolent Books, Dreamers Magazine, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Sunspot Literary Journal, and more. She resides on the front range of the Rocky Mountains with her partner Levi and their chocolate Labrador, The Walrus. In her spare time, she can be found riding her Triumph Street Twin motorbike.

The Buses I’m On Are Always L a t e

Sometimes my memories are a
hesitation
they fall in with one another
until I can no longer recognize the street
corner we stooped upon
in the fragments before
the bus arrived
when sour candies puckered away
the anxiety of moments
that chased us here
further into what we don’t know
like when the streets will stop
winding into walks we don’t cross
like when the shadows of what was
lurk over what is to come
light poles blink
and I have to squint
to see you there
I do not like it
but the reds and whites of cars
shuffling say it’s okay
it’s okay
for strangers to witness
steal our magic
right before it calls us aboard
it stops running
two feet behind where it ought to be
and we were given
another
h e s i t a t i o n

SarahAnn Harvey (she/they) is a queer poet, writer, artist, cat n’ plant lover, and avid tea drinker, based out of Portland, OR. She is the founder of Pile Press, where they publish works of women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming creatives. She has a BA in English and Writing.

Choose Florida

Brochures assure

sun gilded retirement, afterglow after

the nest egg cracks open,

cloistered landing in walled reserves

named for vanquished birds,

Falcon’s Rest, Osprey Haven.

Architects of artifice render

night artificial in Florida.

Excesses of light double down

on full moons. Exhausted natives,

diurnal in nature,

sing twenty-four hours

while dazzled migrants

lose their way.

Ad execs promise to banish darkness

and eerie, unsettling calls

from screech owls and clapper rails.

Retirees who die after dusk have options

unavailable in scrub brush or marshes.

Byways to life after are lit, asphalted

and though not explicitly stated,

eulogies are provided

by mockingbirds.

Claire Massey is a retired Floridian, grateful for the time and energy to fight developers. Her poems have appeared in Tiny Seed, Flashes of Brilliance, Snapdragon Journal of Art and Healing, Persimmon Tree, Panoply, and Flights, 2020. She is Poet Laureate for Pensacola Pen Women and a selection editor for the 2021 print edition of The Emerald Coast Review.

PHANTOM LIMB

We’re all a series of gestures:

the universe and the body.

The psychic tells me I’ve lived

many lives on many planets.

In this life, I learn to pluck

my father’s fiberglass laugh

from muscle memory.

She says I have tension in my

solar plexus, where the heart is.

In this life, he left a voicemail,

an empty cicada shell

once cradling a body.

Her deck spills the star card,

He says it’s okay to let go.

In this life, I bite the inside of my cheek,

the sore growing, gaping

each time I speak.

Fathers are fissures,

a backwards glance,

checkered gaps,

caught between

almost present.

Airea Johnson is enchanted with the grief process, the idea of significance, and the freewill dilemma. In another life she was probably Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl”, but in this life, she creates playlists and listens to her cat wail.

Sundays

sound soft and sweet
like syrup–
silver marching, a promenade of paper plates.
somewhere my spirit starts to stir.
my mother is spooning sugar in her coffee
when I remember that we are the loud ones.

Rosella Birgy is a rising junior at Coe College. Her creative work can be found or is forthcoming in Overheard Lit, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, The Coe Review, The Pearl, and The Claremont Review, among others. She is happy to call Minneapolis her home.

Maybe the Fruit

I bought the house from Bruce
A widowed art collector
The furniture, the fixtures
“If you like it, make an offer”

I gestured to the table
The platter of glass-blown fruit
Matte Meyer lemon, dimple-skinned orange
Bulbous, golden pear wearing stem like a crown

Maybe the fruit, I said
Maybe I’ll take the fruit

Curiosity filled the chairs
as the realtor whispered low
“That fruit is a steal
at $40,000”

I bought the house from Bruce
Bit right into the flesh
Took a photo of the fruit
And swallowed it for free

Kelly Q. Anderson was a longtime columnist until the pandemic torpedoed local news. She is a dual student at eCornell (Diversity & Inclusion) and StoryStudio. She’s an Iowa Hawkeye and member of Off Campus Writers’ Workshop.

FRUIT WAXING POETIC

The chemical makeup of an
apple. The wavelength of red.
The lineage of honeycrisp and
how it was named, and how it
felt around the teeth of the
namer.

The birthday of the flower of
an apple.
The thinness of the petals as compared
to the skin. The hands of the harvester,
and their warmth, and who they loved.
Who they loved while the tree grew
and who planted the seed and how the
sun touched it,*
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               *Golden delicious,
how the bees danced in its fragrance, blushing the air all yellow.

Aimee Lowenstern is a twenty-two-year-old poet living in Nevada. She has cerebral palsy and is fond of glitter. Her work can be found in several literary journals, including Soliloquies Anthology and The Gateway Review.

Sighing Places

The days in Chicago, poorly drawn
and everywhere a preacher. Thick with dice
or loose with change, we buried clean yawns
in rumpled layers, stretching dark advice
through telephones. The gaps were paradise,
when breath ordained our minds and wept across
our tongues in muddy clouds; the imprecise
confrontation we braved when a coin toss
confessed fountain rings. Three times we lost
ourselves among the grids of glass, the bleak
cement trailheads. You sought northgrowing moss
on every corner, every chapel peak.
And when the fourth betrayal came, you sat,
undoing laces, fingers shaking quietly.

Jacob Aupperlee is a student of literature and philosophy at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, MI. His poetry has previously been published in Dialogue, Calvin University’s creative arts journal. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. in American or postcolonial literature.

Memory From Somewhere

“Do you remember?
It was two-pm,
and the breeze tasted like
a chain-link fence;
you were mending a tear
in your patchwork quilt
while Birdy played from indoors;
and you said,
‘I think I exist in color tones
and in stories which never happened,’

and you pinched off a bit of yourself
to leave it behind
and stay in that moment.”

Chana G Miller grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, but now lives in Ireland. Her previous work can be found in ‘Ropes Literary Journal’ (2019), and the 18th issue of ‘Into the Void’ (February 2021). She has just completed her degree at NUI Galway and is working on her debut novel.

When the old man at the grocery asks you what an avocado is

Just describe the summer

you took the motorcycle and half a bag

of Spanish down to Comanchos

in the desert and the waitress

with the dark eyes

said créeme

trust me

so you did

and from the steaming kitchen

came laughter and music

and after a minute

or a year

the beautiful poblano relleno

and on top

like a verdant archipelago

the avocado

the only thing anchoring you

to your seat and the summer night

and the planet, even, if you can believe it?

When he nods and smiles and says

his wife bought one once on a whim

and stuck it in the fridge for a week

only to discover that when she cut

through the coarse skin it had gone

to mush so she never bought another

and now she’s gone so he does all

the shopping and he’s trying to try

new things but it’s just so damn hard

when he already knows what he likes,

if you know what he’s saying?

Drop an avocado in your cart

and let him walk away.

Today you can both be right.

Garrett Stack’s first book is Yeoman’s Work (Bottom Dog Press, 2020). His poems were most recently published in The Ilanot Review, Cider Press Review, and bee house. He teaches at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.

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