Three Poems by stephanie roberts

obsidian_Kate_Walters
Obsidian by Kate Walters

SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS GOING TO HAPPEN

i don’t know what
but something
and soon.
this is my first memory.

i’m going to write a book called god awful poems
comprised of the most red love poems
my sad glad mad heart can mustard.

mustard (the colour of sorrow’s altitude),
what best befits the travesty of tube steak
not vile sweet tomato sauces.

something terrible isn’t going to happen,
and the lies about love i believe in ain’t happenin’
neither—no matter how much the poets sing.

i’m going to write a book called a poet’s gotta eat;
it’s going to have a poem about this couple sitting
across the aisle, touching each other religiously,

comprehensively kissing the hollows of their
hope, nuzzling the pulsing plains in their necks,
counting with lips the knuckles they will bruise,

all before one or the other goes to the washroom
to empty themselves. i will script this mist in a diabetic’s
blood as the insoluble truth about love.

i’ll sell you above your romanticism or cynicism.
you’ll wander the earth wanting this terrible terrible
to strike you while little by little your heart

muscle withers when you hope love is happening
and it isn’t.
you will remember your first memory.

you will be in the book of god-awful poems.

 

 

re: stacks

my love is like a pair of shoes,
there was need for,
bought in haste 
down 
an unrepeatable street
at the base of a mountain
along the bay of naples
on the coast of amalfi,
made of scarlet leather
with cheek-tender lining.
did i already mention haste?
they were my favourite;
the first time 
i tried to say
amo le scarpe. 
i gave them to you
(tho you can't wear them
because you've never
seen my mountain nor
walked down the 
happiest moment of my life
all of which miss you now).
we two-stepped to bon iver,
we side-stepped the obvious
and today i see them 
on your back porch,
in the rain, not ruined,
they were sewn too well
for forget, but under 
the downfall they are
requesting a change
of song.




COME BACK AND SOLVE FOR X

Longing we say, because desire is full of endless distance. – Robert Hass

somewhere inside stillness you move
			 your thirsty hunger upsets time
am i solving for your happiness or mine
			 it would help to settle the perimeter of beginning
it would help if we defined our variables
			 who is the cause of our effect
come rest your atlas on my axis 
			 pivot on our common denominator
instead of this endless expanse of irrational numbers
			 at the finish of this i want to line up x
to the third power with u and carry them and live there
			 inside your y until the end of pi.


 

stephanie roberts has work featured or forthcoming in numerous journals, in North America and Europe, including Atlanta Review, FLAPPERHOUSE, Crannóg, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Occulum, and The New Quarterly. A 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee, she counts among her strengths passionate curiosity and good humour. Her books can be found here. Twitter shenanigans @ringtaleswww.oceansandfire.com

Four Poems by Robert S. King

chris_mullins
Artwork by Chris Mullins

 

Mirages

The eye of hope searches for homefires
just beyond the blooming desert
where dunes are oceans,
and sands blow like rain
or pass in peace through the hourglass.

The dark eye sees shadows beyond
the sands of fallen stars, sees dunes
as beaches where body and hope
might wash ashore and sink
beneath the grains of time.

Mirages cross both eyes,
and the hand of truth
passes through them
like a homeless ghost.

 

 

Cult

On the road to a better world,
your cycle runs out of gas in a place
that is not a dot on your map,
a compound that seems to be both garden
and graveyard, a point in the past
where your pride might take a stand.
You need to belong and to believe
this is the better world, though the wise
wind at your back blows your hat further
down the road, whispers that you should not
stop here for longer than it takes to catch
your breath. But your empty heart
wants to float in this bubble of pure air,
your breathing in rhythm with your brothers’,
content in a bubble that will never burst,
no need to know the next mile
or what is growing there.

 

 

Ruination

Let my cauldron of anger not erupt
and speak of our crumbled homes.
Let what is left of my kindness repair
your hope for a better place, see the good
in leaves barely holding on, in a sunrise
setting fire to an oozing orange sky,
in a shelter of wind on the edge of a cliff,
and in love that is known
only from ancient texts.

No, let my tongue not stutter
on what is left of hope, say that roads
are circles of rediscovery, rexcavated lands
whose trapped air blows back this way
and cools the lava in our hearts.

 

 

Apnea

I am asleep at the wheel of fortune
whirring and wheezing around
the pivot point of paralysis.
I cannot steer off this round road
where no dreams come true.

The wheel is spinning out of control,
circling itself like a clock,
rattling like the tension of a held breath
waiting to exhale itself into wildest wind.

 

 

Robert S. King lives in Athens, GA, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press and edits the literary journal Good Works Review. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review, California Quarterly, Chariton Review, Hollins Critic, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Negative Capability, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Diary of the Last Person on Earth (Sybaritic Press 2014) and Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014). His personal website is www.robertsking.info.

Two Poems by Eli T. Mond

Satori_Jack_Whitten
Satori by Jack Whitten

 

 

Remembrance

Riding down this shifting line,
Windows low and ages whirring,
I stole a glimpse in the infinite rearview.

Contrary to lore, I was not transformed
Into a pillar of salt, nor did my mind implode
From the pressures of reflection.

Instead, I was reminded of what it means
To remember—to rejoin the fragments
Of myself, lost to the breeze or tossed

Like litter left for the scheming tempest,
Patient in her plans for the future
Of every morsel left in her possession.

 

 

The Cathartic Nature of Black Holes

Show me what it is
To be lost in the singularities
Of time and space;
Aimlessly drifting in a void
Of inverted matter—
O, the things I’d be willing to give
To gain the privilege
Of traversing such seas:
The list would edge on endlessness,
Threatening to go on for a time
Beyond what my mortal frame would allow.

 

 

Eli T. Mond is the pen name of David Davis, a writer, artist, and mystic from Detroit, MI. He is the Founding Editor of ‘The Ibis Head Review,’ a quarterly poetry publication, and has had work published in various journals, including OTHER., Lyceum, and Young Ravens Literary Review. In the Fall of 2017, he self-published his debut chapbook of mystical poetry titled ‘When Sight Was But A Sightless Thing.’ He can be found online at www.elitmond.com and on Twitter @elitmond.

 

Three Poems by Courtney LeBlanc

 

 

Earthbound_marianne_morris
Earthbound by Marianne Morris

 

Drown

He wraps his arms around me
and holds me till I fall asleep.

Last night I slept for almost
six hours, the longest
I’ve slept in weeks. He is happy
I didn’t wake till 4:30, happy
I finally felt safe enough
to sleep beside him.

I don’t tell him I dreamt
of drowning, of him on the shore,
with my other. My other holding
him back as he tried to save me.

I wake gulping for air,
try to forget
the dream, try to forget
the taste of salt water flooding
my mouth and nose.

The next day we go to the beach,
While he reclines on a blanket,
I swim slowly into the turquoise
water, my eyes on him
the entire time.

 

 

A Girl Becomes A Woman

a child learns the world by putting it in her mouth, / a girl becomes a woman and a woman, earth ~ Ilya Kaminsky, Firing Squad

I think of everything I’ve put
into my mouth, all I’ve swallowed.
At first, words: no, stop, I’ve changed
my mind. Then my hands, my feet,
my ability to fight, to run away.
I swallowed my voice, grew smaller, shrank
till my hip bones jutted like handlebars – till
I could be steered in the desired direction.
I chewed off my skin, removed the dark ink
that bloomed on my arms, my back. Revealed
the unblemished baby-pink. I keep swallowing
till there’s nothing left, till I disappear into the dirt,
the earth finally swallowing me.

 

 

Past Lives

I wonder how many lives I’ve lived,
this cannot be the first. I wonder
if I make the same mistakes each
carnation, if every time I’m seduced by his
hands, his mouth, his easy lies. If every
time I quit school and leave
the country, following that same
man. Does he break me in every
life? Do I live in the same version
of the same town that I hate? Do I stay
there for nine years each life, caught
in his grasp till a restraining order creates
a gap wide enough to slip through?
Maybe future me can travel back
to previous me and give guidance.
Perhaps future me can convince
current me to let him go, walk away,
move on. Perhaps past me can
remind me I’ve made these mistakes
before. Perhaps current me could listen.

 

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press) and is an MFA candidate at Queens University of Charlotte. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Public Pool, Rising Phoenix ReviewThe Legendary, Germ MagazineQuail Bell Magazine, Brain Mill PressHaunted Waters Press, and others. She loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on Twitter: @wordperv, or find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.

Three Poems by Juanita Rey

Chota
Artwork by Chota

MY FELLOW PASSENGERS

The bus is like an asylum
except these inmates are free to roam.
The driver ignores his passengers.
But they ooze out of seats,
crawl down from the ceiling,
just to keep me company.

One guy is making barnyard noises.
Another rolls his eyes
like a slot machine.
A third reeks of weeks-old fish.
They disregard all the empty seats
and surround me

I’m a young woman,
not adult enough to pity them,
not so much of a child
so as to fear them.
I’m at an age
where I just want them away from me.

So beware all oddballs, weirdos
and all others who make me uncomfortable
in this skin of mine.
I’m on the way to the city.
My attitude is along for the ride.

 

 

STRIPTISERA

She’s a striptisera,
body brown and oiled,
wrapped around a pole –

her senses licked
by a slovenly dejado
in the front row –

how she wishes the air
were a lust proof vest –

but who undresses her,
if not him?
who paints her lips
dark red?
who shoves yankee dollars
in the cracks of her skin?

she’s younger than his own daughter
with a child of her own –

I hold the boy
while she dresses –

child cries
because my skin is not hers –

let the dejado cry –
God knows, he has his reasons

 

 

ORCHESTRATED

James ushered me into
the gilded foyer
of the Veteran’s Auditorium.
Amid the suited men
and women in fancy gowns,
I had never felt so Dominican.

My attention
slipped in and out of the music
but my eyes never once
broke contact with the orchestra.

Every instrument was familiar to me
but not in this context.
Their dependency upon each other,
the conductor waving his baton,
the notes chained to the page…
all new territory.

And scouting the players,
I was like a census taker
There were many women,
one distinctly Asian,
but not one black
and no one brown like me.

Was there an impassable barrier, I wondered.
Or had no one bothered
to batter down the door?

I identified most with the trombone,
though not the guy
who blew into it.

But how harsh it sounded,
how ungainly it looked,
against the sweep
of the bows across sweet violins,
the waltz of fingers on piano keys.

And yet there it was blaring
between the flutes and piccolos,
the cello and the horn.
Why shouldn’t it make itself known?

 

 

Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Harbinger Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Madcap Poets.

A Poem by LE Francis

Latrelle_DuBose--Comfort
Comfort by Latrelle DuBose

Rebuttal to ‘Lovesick’

It is said that the heart wants
& wanting is a suffering;
 
wanting is a vine,
a thorny thing that
roots inside our ribs;

wanting is an infant,
an able pair of lungs
wailing on its own;

                wanting is an impatient guest,
                a knock and then our answer.

We treat it like a seasonal disorder,
it will only be love for so long and then--
 
then it's time to plant next year’s blooms,
it's time to read the soil, to read the shade,

then pass the blame like a cough, say
'it's nobody's fault when the seasons change.'

It's comforting to think
it is out of our hands,
to believe that the whims
of desire somehow diminish
 
the burden of our freedom,
less the weight of the sky
as we struggle to sleep;

so much easier to
say I'm lonely than I'm afraid.

 

 

LE Francis lives in the Pacific Northwest. You can find her online at nocturnical.com.

Three Poems by Felino A. Soriano

jim_zola4

Untitled by Jim Zola


 from This is How My Speaking Moves
 
Nearest portion of
 
my sound-voice
position     entropy
                 learns my
go-to syllables,
   the
  rounded
 artifact given
            over as
   grief as through
the breath I missed
my father lastly let go.
 
 
 
 
__________
  Alone with voices, a traveling
 cycle, circling in dexterity
     to open my silence, pain,
  all that can be witnessed
   from distance’s oval
                                  oscillation
__________
 
 
 
 
My mother turns her
 head to me, often, listens, likes the vocal contrast of my nonspeaking.  
More worded braids than sentences of sequential obfuscation⎯
 tragedy in heirloom
    leaving, what
   was forgotten.
                 Me, I’m
    made by hand: sound isn’t wandered here,
  here it was said
       I awaken to feel
     for the floor I’d forgotten
   held me cold holds
          my forthcoming death
 
 
Go
 
     Trane’s Tunji plays in
  my ear, in my eye
        a swell begins to
                        follow
     my feet around this home,
  one of myriad physiognomies.
                              In each,
        my parents follow me,
   raise me, reach for me when
     an hour is dark and my face
is abrupt in absence.
                  I watch
  curtains fall into vertical
      reveal:
 
 
 
 
__________
silver expression in
the metal beak
indented into
the window’s
achromatic spine--
__________
 
 
 
 
     wandering is where I
 needed to go     what
        I needed to do.  Behind me
  now was need looking forward
                         with me
   as introduction to prophecy or
 what roams from home to home,
       a hidden documentation
     in the whole of my parents’
                            oscillating
 
            eyes
 
 
 
What Comes
 
   , or hasn’t yet, yet
  what’s to come, I’m
      expecting before
                      dawn…
 before me, alight light,
    lit afar, focused, soft in
  the hand, solid.  From
     where I’ve gone I’ve
   undergone translation,
 this home a silence of
       history’s going, going
   away from me, these breaths
  and mirror’s interpretive
                         phrasing
      phased in fraction’s
   focal collaborations
                   with
       what’s coming into
  this light and theory of
     desolate
            intuition
 
                                              not whole
 
 
 
 
__________
Where I went, what came, followed.  Light, or a theory of it followed, 
follows, finding me alone in the usual space: window-near, tableau 
explication calls my following and voice confirmation.  
My father arrives, though dead, smiling to the west of me to follow 
his example of authentic correspondence.  Alive now, both of us, 
though my death’s been predicted in the disbelief of my behavior.
__________
 
 
 
 


Felino A. Soriano was awarded the 2017 erbacce-prize for poetry.  His writings appear in CHURN, BlazeVOX, 3:AM Magazine, The National Poetry Review, Small Po[r]tions, and elsewhere.  His books of poetry include A Searching for Full Body Syllables: fragmented olio (2017), Aging within these syllables (2017), Acclimated Recollections (2017), and Vocal Apparitions: New & Selected Poems: 2012 – 2016 (2016).

Visit Of the poetry this jazz portends for more information.  

Two Poems by Ray Ball

reverie-cassidy-argo
Reverie by Cassidy Argo

A Ship

We have drawn and redrawn the maps of each other’s bodies many times. Love made us cartographers. For what is marriage if not a ship we have built together in hopes of riding out the ebbs and flows? There have been times when I would have laid anchor. Times when I would have driven an axe into the hull and let the water seep in. I cannot swim. And you call this ship a boat. You know all the nautical terms. I don’t. But there have been times when I would have bailed out the water from storms. Bailed until my shoulders ached and my hands blistered. Times we have cupped our hands and bailed together. Scrubbed the deck clean. I, who once sought the land under my feet, always ready to run. Here we are at the rim of the Pacific. And I have learned to bend my knees, to sway, to be salted, to tilt the astrolabe.

 

 

Lunar

On a guided meditation
my therapist’s voice transports
me to outer space.

I wander in the cosmos
and as I glide back down
to earth, I pause to take

a bite out of the full moon.
Lunar rock sticks in my teeth
like vanilla taffy, forms a lump

in my throat before it
slides down to my hungry
stomach, the growling werewolf.

 

 

 

Ray Ball, Ph.D., is a history professor, essayist, and poet. She grew up in Oklahoma and Texas, but now lives in Anchorage, Alaska. She is the author of two history books and her verse has recently appeared in Cirque, Longleaf Review, and West Texas Literary Review.

A Story by Brenda Gvozdanovic

Heather-Buechler-Forgiveness
Forgiveness by Heather Buechler

The Handwriting’s Familiar

 

Regular as clockwork. They dropped with a satisfying ‘plop’ on to the mat behind the shabby front door. Anna watched the postman retreat down the garden path sorting the remaining handful of envelopes as he went. By the gate he turned, and she gave him a cheery wave from the dining room window before making her way unsteadily into the empty hall to retrieve the post.

Kettle boiled, Anna eased herself into a chair at the cluttered kitchen table, sweeping stray crumbs from the grubby oil cloth with the side of her hand. The envelope was pleasingly heavy, lightly scented, classic cream wove. She slit it open with care before removing two neatly-folded sheets. Precise, well-spaced handwriting covered one side of each sheet. Lifting her cup slowly from its saucer, Anna read:

‘Dear Aunt,

I trust this finds you well. So sorry not to have written sooner, Archie has had chicken-pox and I’ve been run quite ragged. The au pair has been as good as useless, gadding off to her English classes every other afternoon insisting that she is “not nurse”.  Well, I’m no Florence Nightingale either but when needs must … Daisy has been an absolute poppet. She has been dampening flannels in the en-suite and draping them solicitously over Archie’s (non-fevered) brow much to his annoyance. Poor lamb. I do sympathise. He’s not on top form and Daisy’s wringing out leaves a lot to be desired, resulting in a rather soggy duvet. She does mean well, though, bless her.

Henry, of course, remains largely oblivious to the fact that we have the dreaded pox, scooting off to the office at first light only to return once the children have gone to bed. The wine fridge has taken a bit of hammering this past week I’m afraid. I’ve been declaring wine o’clock as soon as Henry crosses the threshold, insisting that he pours me a large one before I start supper. Thank goodness we’re not dealing with anything more serious.

Fingers crossed that Archie’s clear by the weekend and we can get down to the cottage as planned. Our neighbours in the country, Mark and Alison, have invited us for Sunday brunch in their newly renovated kitchen / diner. They’ve spent an arm and a leg and had the builders in for months. I can’t wait to see the end-result and hopefully pick up a few ideas – Henry will be horrified! Their two are similar in age to ours, so I’m hoping we can have a proper grown-up brunch whilst the children amuse themselves without killing each-other.

Anyhow, that’s all our news, so I’ll close here and drop this in the post on my way to Tai-chi this evening.

We think of you often and send all our love.

Your loving niece

Maddy’

Anna carefully refolded the sheets, smoothing them with wrinkled hands before slipping them back into the envelope and placing it in the already over-flowing rack. As she did so a well-fingered, slightly grubby, blue envelope fell on to the table. Would she? Should she? Anna debated with herself briefly before settling down to reread its spidery contents:

‘My darling Anna,

Where to begin? Well, at the beginning, I suppose. I’ve been a fool. There, I’ve said it, and we all know, there’s no fool like an old fool. Except, the problem is, that I was a young fool, too. An idiot. No. More than that. A hateful, cavalier idiot. I treated you badly my darling, very badly and I’m sorry, so very sorry. It’s taken more than forty years; half a life-time of denial, regret and now, finally, recognition, to apologise. What we had back then was precious, priceless even, and I threw it away. I thought I knew the value of everything, every bond, every share, every acquaintance, every introduction. None of that mattered to you. You were younger but so much wiser, realised the value of what we had, but I just couldn’t see it. Off I went, chasing the next deal, the next dollar and, let’s be honest, the next woman. I broke your heart.

My heart will be the death of me – coronary artery disease – just a matter of time they say. The irony isn’t lost on me. But this isn’t about me … Can you find it in that poor, broken heart to forgive me, my darling? I have no right to ask anything of you, far less this. Will you forgive a dying man?

Ever yours

Edward’

Anna’s rheumy eyes welled up. She stroked the paper tenderly and gently wiped away the single teardrop that fell on its faded surface. This wouldn’t do, wouldn’t do at all. No point in brooding. Something cheerful was what she needed; something from Tom. She pulled a cheap, white envelope from the rack.

‘Dearest Ma,

Are you still over-feeding that damned moggy? I bet you are! You’ll have to sign him up to kitty Weight-Watchers if you’re not careful. Surprised he still fits through the cat-flap lazy, fat bugger …’

That was better. She’d stop now, although there really was no need to ration herself, there would be more letters next week and the week after. Always something to look forward to lying on the mat. She never failed to recognise the sender by the stationery and handwriting.  After all, they were hers.

 

 

Brenda Gvozdanovic is an expat Scot with itchy feet. She writes prose (and the occasional poem) in English and Scots. Her work has been published on-line in Serbiaincoming magazine, Paragraph Planet and 101 Words. You can follow her on Twitter @BGvozdanovic.

Two Poems by M.A. Banash

anselm_Kiefer
Artwork by Anselm Kiefer

 

Thumbing It

hitchhiking thru the dictionary
i stumbled upon sui generis
then i tucked in my thumbs,
laced up my sneakers
and took off for a long, lonely, walk

 

 

God is Good

we stick to our guns
glued by blood
bloodslick & sick
corrupting yet another
benevolent object into malevolence

you’d think the Maker’d have enough
of our burden, our conceit, our blood-thirst

every now and again
he takes out his red pen
and like an old forest destroyed by lightning
runs us through
if we don’t capitalize his name
or draws rosy flush on our cheeks
when we capitalize on his name

 

 

Matthew Banash was born and raised in PA and has lived in the Carolinas for the past twenty years. He writes poetry and short fiction. His work has appeared in Penumbra, Poetry Quarterly,  SurVision, The Blue Nib and Micro Fiction Monday.