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.

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.

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.

 

A Poem by Aubrey Gates King

Sajida_Hussain
Artwork by Sajida Hussain

On The Other Side                                       //                          Right Here

She soaks them for over an hour
in boiling water.
Twisting pulling,
twisting pulling
trickles down in low thuds
against the basin and wets
the wrists of her sleeves.

(To read the rest of On The Other Side // Right Here, follow the link below)

On The Other Side by Aubrey Gates King

 

Aubrey Gates King is a writer and poet living in Portland, OR. After graduating cum laude with a degree in English Literature and Chinese Studies, she moved to China for a two-year fellowship with Teach For China. She currently works in writing and editing at a consulting firm. She was selected to participate in the Independent Publishing Resource Center’s 2017–2018 Certificate Program in Poetry, as well as the 2016–2017 Poets Studio at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters. Aubrey enjoys vegan eats, dry humor, and biking around town.

Three Poems by Catherine Zickgraf

maurice-golubov-bathers
Bathers by Maurice Golubov

Afghans

It’s the middle of the night again
when prisoners around me
wrestle themselves down into restless sleep,
when grown men’s eyes leak secret tears
that puddle on the polyurethane,
on mattresses labeled tear resistant
—or maybe it’s pronounced teer resistant. . .
And some men unconsciously clench their limbs
into fetal position as self-protection—
instinctually returning back to the womb,
back to before it all went wrong.

Mom writes me letters faithfully.
She says in her sleep she’s crocheting me
afghans to keep me warm in my bunk.
But I sleep instead in a drawer of a morgue
stuffed and stacked with living men,
half-frozen specimens whose hearts
are slowed at night for security.

Still she weaves each stitch
from her womb’s ligaments
that once held me under her ribs.
She laces in veins that run through her fingers
so her hands can surround me again.

Like my mother, I dream in color and dimension,
so I can see her cushioned there in her chair
where she hooks together the textures of home—
looping bows from yarn into rows
of her burgundy rug and chocolate sofa,
twisted with strips of our lit Christmas tree,
jeweled this December in its usual corner.

She comes with the moon to tuck me in
through my window’s own slice of sky.
And she’ll tell you we all need color to thrive,
that every color is her favorite.
She’ll tell you we all need nurture to thrive—
but thriving is against regulation.

She says in her dreams when she sees me shake
she unfolds over me her afghans.
Yet I never mention I shake at night—
how I scream into my pillow’s thinness,
how in my cot, I’m cold through my bones,
through holes in my piece of prison grey wool,
like a skeleton stretched with a fraying skin.

The rhythm of daylight can distract me from thought,
from the decaying corpse of my soul’s slow rot.
But at night in the darkness of deprivation,
alone in my head, I shiver in bed
and forget it’s better not to feel
since I promised my mother—I promised myself:
though I’m caged, I won’t change to an animal.
They have stripped away all my choices,
bunkered me down in a concrete coffin.
But in my dreams, I’m still three
and need my mom to keep me warm.
So she holds me here in the heat of her heart,
treasuring her child like a precious stone.
My mother has followed me down to Hell.
There she has made her home

 

 

War Return

She’s mentally moving him in, refreshing
the drawer of cotton undershirts, stacking
his tees in rectangles, ironing polo collars.

His irises will glow again as sapphire and
jade waves of shirts layering the marriage
quilt. She’s moving over, moving over to
her own side of the bed. They’ll fuse their
divided ship, co-captain it. Yet she’s been
steering without him around iceberg teeth,
her sweet boys clicked into their car seats.

Steadying their rudder against a profound
blindness, snow blowing over onyx water
to sky, she holds hope he’ll return as kids
waive their flags. She passes night to day
praying they both awake to more sunrises
together before entering Heaven’s forever.
They are ringed lovers, joined from inside.

 

 

Undertaken

His watch winds out, as prophesied,
as earth’s rotation slows with time.

Her pines inhale when spirits flee,
when corpses are prayed over then tucked in.
The boys are grown, their toys passed down,
their balanced tops have exhausted their spin.

As seconds drip into centuries,
each drop floods the graveyard, plots float away.
Still her antique dial keeps seeking the channel
where choir angels sing:

Your spiral stairs around my mind,
your stairs by twos, your years are mine.
My lover, we are ringed,
we are joined from inside.

She tends daisies at his grave
in her dreams—till her time.

 

 

Catherine Zickgraf performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan and three dozen other cities. But she’s differently-abled now—walking with a cane and flying in her sleep—so her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write more poetry.

Watch/read her at caththegreat.blogspot.com and run/jump while you are able.