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poetry

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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