Issue 4-Summer 2022

“Breathe the sweetness that hovers in August.” – Denise Levertov

Photo by Michelle Reale

Cristina A. Bejan is an award-winning Romanian American historian, theatre artist, and poet. A Rhodes and Fulbright scholar, she is a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Bejan received her DPhil (PhD) in Modern History from the University of Oxford. A playwright and spoken word poet (her stage name is Lady Godiva), her creative work has appeared in the US, UK, Romania, and Vanuatu. In addition to many scholarly articles, she has published a poetry book (Green Horses on the Walls), history book (Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania), and a play in Voices on the Move (eds. Radulescu and Cazan).

My “America”

My DC Nigerian cab driver from Union Station to Georgetown knows more about geopolitics & world history than many academics I know…

We talk about the Ukraine-Russia war…he tells me not to worry, that Romania will be fine because it’s in the EU and NATO … that the Soviet satellite days are over….

Then he asks why I am in DC. I tell him my baby brother’s wedding and he smiles big under his facemask – “You know there is nothing more important than family. Family is everything.”

And our family from the banks of the Danube and the barren landscape of East of the Rockies, dancing with my brother and sister-in-law & their friends of every diaspora you can imagine – Chinese, Filipino, African-American, South Asian, Latino, Albanian, Canadian, British, and yes Ukrainian…and then from Milwaukee, Maryland, LA then Durham, NC obviously – and more – to music of every genre (rap, hip-hop, reggaeton, Britney Spears, white boy pop, Andrea Bocelli, you name it) and everyone knows all the words.

This is my “America.” 

Margaret Kiernan is an Irish author. She writes prose and poetry. She is widely published in Literary journals, magazines, and small press. She is included in anthology book collections, both locally and internationally. She was a 2021 nominee for The Best of The Net Award for Creative non-fiction. Her background is in Human and Social Rights.

Pressure-points

after Tom Leonards, “On Knowing the Difference Between Prejudice, Discrimination, and Oppression.”

You and that quiet desperation

With those give and take views

The dark side of my moon is half spent.

Louboutin shoes share your shelves’

With Penney’s brogues

Your blindside leading the almost blind

Hampered by a billboard, it’s a call to fly

Faraway, but you can’t get off the ground

Those queues back-up to the park-and-ride lot

Percolated reports that in-bound people move

Effortlessly, no luggage to unbox perhaps

Like an in-tray in the Horn of Africa.

The nations hotels now owned by Beijing

Oligarch sheets four hundred threads to the inch

Plus, one adrift in cables under the ocean of

Shared intel to Santa Clara, California,

a cúpla focail expressed by a bot

hiding out in the Bronx.

 “cúpla focail” is an Irish word for “a few words”

Born in 1971 in Timișoara, Romania, Sorin Smărăndescu debuted in 1995. He writes poetry and short stories. He published three books (Talking with the Highly placed, poetry, 2000, Eubeea Publishing House, Blurred, poetry, 2011, Brumar Publishing House; Reverse motion, short stories, 2011, Eubeea Publishing House) and was included in one Romanian contemporary poetry anthology. His writings were published in various Romanian cultural magazines. In 2022, one of his poems appeared in WordCity Literary Journal (Canada). He lives in Romania with his wife and two kids, all of them gladly taking care of their dog and two cats.

Iulia Stoichiț was born in 1994 and she’s from Brasov, Romania. She studied at the Faculty of Letters at Transilvania University of Brasov and currently she is a PhD student. She translated the trilingual poetry volume Pink-Pong (authors: Andrei Zbîrnea and Claus Ankersen), providing the Romanian and English versions, volume which appeared at the frACTalia Publishing House (2019). She writes poetry and has published her poems in literary magazines (print and online) from Romania. Her debut volume is called BoJack is Payne (CDPL, 2022). She writes literary reviews in literary magazines (online: citestema.ro, and print). She teaches Romanian at two schools.

angels with you

all of a sudden today they yell hoarse from the dark cornices

the angels wings of desire in flames

they throw themselves hysterical in the emptiness of my gaze

so they don’t see more than they could understand

I can’t understand what’s happening

because rarely my mind can unravel more than visible consequences

the unforeseeable blind only with you

alongside under the eye of sleep

you turn your sweated hand

and you breathe to me

the hair on the back of my neck the hip sequenced by drunkenness

the brutalized secretions by indifference

frightened I raise my arms

tormented to relieve me from the angels’ dead bodies

the body won’t listen to me

the accelerated loss of substance makes him huddle friable brown pink

reproduction to the form of your extirpated lips

from which it recoils now in wet bunch sharp rigid feathers

bloody grey head spring with fallen leaves white flowers black fruits

my ungrateful body next to my abandoned body

absence

the dead sky on the head on the soles the ashes of lust

the moving away from each other from waiting continues

because from now on not a single angel in flames will fall

through my eyes locked inside of you

all of them burned

annoyance #2

your viscous silence clinging to my hands and cheeks

the opaque eye you stick into the most arrhythmical

memories with which you crushed my knees the absence through which they fell unseen

I feel you fetid bone paste translucent I sink deeper and deeper into you

at every throb a downward jump at every howl my bones look

on greedily in your mass all suffocating curve

I can feel under your eyelids the metallic iris vertically cut

how it studies me methodical from the inside

the coolness of your mouth cascades into my stomach it makes vast transparent lakes sapphire

over which you let tender laden alabaster pass the ships of your unbridled cruelty

I can see your shadows chasing each other hallucinatingly inside the glassy walls of my veins

I render clean the outline of your favorite pet psicat depression

profoundly in your frozen core you give me the time to give up

I sublimate the writhings in green, grey fractal oil that feed your continuous flowing

dissolved into a paste my barren bones to your bones alliterations

you put on my forehead to being your inert unforgiving iris the absence of steps

with which you could have pierced recollections the most

silence your conjured pet is walking around is sniffing is making a wry face

me you your psicat depression      

îngeri cu tine

deodată azi strigă răgușit de pe cornișele întunecate

îngerii cu aripile dorinței în flăcări

se aruncă isterizați în golul privirii mele fixe

să nu vadă mai mult decât ar putea înțelege

nu am cum să cuprind ce se întâmplă

căci rar poate desluși mintea mea mai mult decât consecințe vizibile

neprevăzutul orb numai cu tine

alături sub ochiul de somn

îți întorci palma transpirată

și-mi respiri

părul de pe ceafă șoldul secvențiat de beție

secrețiile abrutizate de nepăsare

îmi ridic înspăimântat brațele

chinuit să mă despresureze de cadavrele îngerilor

trupul nu mă ascultă

pierderea accelerată de substanță îl chircește friabil brun roz

reproducere formei buzelor tale extirpatoare

din care răsfrâng acum în mănunchi umed pene rigide tăioase

izvor gri-sânger cu frunze căzute flori albe fructe negre

corpul meu nerecunoscător lângă corpul meu abandonat mie

absență

cerul mort pe creștet la tălpi cenușa dorinței

continuă îndepărtarea unul de altul din așteptare

căci de acum nu va mai cădea niciun înger în flăcări

prin ochii mei închiși în tine

au ars cu toții

enervare #2

tăcerea ta vâscoasă care mi se lipește de mâini și de obraz

ochiul mat pe care mi-l înfigi în amintirile cele mai

aritmii cu care mi-ai zdrobit genunchii absența prin care au căzut nevăzuți

te simt pastă fetidă de oase translucidă mă scufund în tine tot mai adânc

la fiecare zvâcnire un salt în jos la fiecare urlet oasele mele caută

mai departe avide în masa ta atotsugrumătoare curbă

îți simt sub pleoape irisul metalic tăiat vertical

cum mă studiază metodic din interior

răceala gurii tale mi se scurge cascadă în stomac face lacuri transparente vaste safir

peste care lași să treacă tandre încărcate alabastre corăbiile cruzimilor tale neîncepute

îți zăresc umbrele alergându-se halucinant în pereții sticloși ai venelor mele

redau curat conturul animalului tău preferat depresia pisică

profund în miezul tău înghețat îmi dai timpul să renunț

sublimez zvârcolirile în uleiuri fractale gri verzi care hrănesc curgerea ta continuă

dizolvate aride oasele mele în pastă oaselor tale aliterații

îmi așezi afiire pe frunte irisul tău neiertător inert absența pașilor

cu care ai fi putut străpunge rememorările cele mai

tăcere animalul tău conjurat dă târcoale adulmecă se strâmbă

eu tu depresia ta pisică

Emmaline Bristow grew up in Helena, Montana and attended the University of Montana for her Bachelors in English with emphasis in creative writing and literature. She also obtained her Master of Fine Arts in poetry from Drew University. Emmaline’s writing centers around place and memory and how the two affect her identity. She has deep roots in Montana. Focusing on the motifs of dust and dirt, weathered materials, as well as her own identity as a Montana woman, she has found a path in her writing that both excites and inspires her daily. When exploring memory, it is inherently linked to place, and that place, for Emmaline, has shown itself to at once be decaying before her eyes as well as living beneath her feet. Emmaline currently lives in Missoula and works in communications for her local government.

Christmas Cactus

My mother inherited a Christmas cactus

that flowered in winter—

popping pink buds with spiky

petals. It grows outward like a spider

nesting, waiting to suffocate

its caretaker. The roots are older than her.

Older than my deceased great grandmother.

So old they can’t die.

It’s eaten generations of my family—

ages of anxious women feeding

it water—not too much

sunlight—needs a lot

soil—can it drain?

heritage—who will take it?

Each year it fed on my great grandmother.

She shrank and wrinkled, dark circles

hollowed under eyes, hair drained

its red color, voice

weakened to a shaky croak.

The branches take up the entire window

in the living-room—take up the room

for me to sit. Only my mother

stands near it, allows the long

arm-like stems to engulf her,

like so many before,

and so many after

            and I’m next.

Mountain Men

All the men who’ve died in

our families

are wooden.

Mountains

carved

each face

from lodgepole

pine, shucked bark

to bleak white beneath.

Was my grandpa good to you? asked the girl.

He never hit me, responded the old woman.

Christmas trees cup

the wooden men.

Women paint

them bright

hues,

hide each

man inside

branches, know wood

needs trees to keep hard.

            Was my grandpa evil? asked the girl.

            He was not kind, responded the old woman.

Living with Dirt

The Christmas cactus offspring

my mother bestowed me flings into my lap,

asks for my hand in marriage.

I open, laugh, stroke its leaves.

It used to be more of a spider,

would crawl into my ear at night,

tell secrets about my mother.

Or maybe mothers in general. Responsibility.

I cower under that word, feed it

chewed nails, bitten lip.

My therapist flings herself into my ear,

asks me what I want.

I close, cry, stroke my arms.

I was a romantic that dreamed

of sheep and mountains, bluebells and black dirt,

horse troughs that were never rusty or molded.

I wanted to paint my skin with dirt.

I wanted wind to weave the pines.

I wanted sheep-bells in the distance.

Once upon a time my mother was Little Bo Peep

in a quiet place where trees watched over

and creeks ran slow.

Once upon a time I was a little girl

with hay in her hair and cockleburs

stuck to her clothes.

Once upon a time I was married to a cactus

in a fake apartment with dim lights

and paper walls.

Each time becomes a once,

each once a moment gone to memories

so skewed they make me ache,

so fake they make me cry.

I don’t want to know secrets

about my mother, or her mother,

or stories about their hurt.

I want to live in the quiet.

I want to live with the dirt.

Simple

Little wooden men litter

the tree, carved by nimble

hands and painted bright

primary colors. My great grandma loved

them individually,

hung each one with care

when Christmas came into her

small and lonely house.

She lived nearly forty years alone.

My great grandpa died young

with many secrets. My great grandma

died old with many stories

that strangely never chewed

to the surface. She became quiet

and soft with age, sat in the simple wooden

chair, peered out her window.

So few things in life are simple.

Separation

The last time   I saw              my great grandmother,

the dark engulfed

her twin bed,               tired eyes peered

in search of mine        or in search

of some land               past the nursing home room.

She could not see        my eyes

soaking tears                           into the sweater’s sleeves.

She could not see        my sister with me,

patting my back,                     silent and stoic.

She could hear us,                                                                  I hope

but was half gone,                   no longer commenting on

nursing home nonenal,                                   focused            on breath.

We left the nursing home                   to my uncle’s birthday.

Sleeping Giant Lanes.                        He turned forty, black

“Over the Hill” balloons                    strung around gifts, black

bowling balls crashed against pins,    all before black

attire had to be chosen                        for her funeral

in December                                       before Christmas.

The family joked of                                        growing old,

traveling                                                         “over the hill.”

I imagine the hill                                            like photos of Ireland,

green and damp,                                             mud sinking

beneath rubber boots,                                     my great grandmother

descending her final steps                              meeting her ancestors,

mother, father,                                                sister and sons.

I cannot imagine their faces

no matter how often I try.

I cannot imagine a new face

no matter how often I dream.

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Highland Park Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Spillwords, Verse Visual, Silver Birch, OVUNQUE SIAMO, and others. She’s a 2021 Pushcart nominee, Able Muse; received Best MicroFiction, Haunted Waters. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press. 

Haiku and one tanka at the end

yellow daffodil

blue Carolina sky

spring hope for Ukraine

planting sunflowers

hoping to pick them

when Ukraine is free

sending blankets

tangible love for

refugees

winter chill lingers

on bombed out streets—

may spring bring peace

“following orders” they claim

as they shoot civilians—

didn’t we already fight a war over that?

Praying for end of war for the living,

not only for the dead

Yellow Carolina jessamine

twines up pines,

blaring its tiny trumpets

into a blue sky:

Freedom, freedom! Ukraine!

Marzia Rahman is a Bangladeshi writer and translator. Her flashes have appeared in 101

Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, Fewerthan500.com, WordCity

Literary Journal, Red Fern Review, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences,

Academy of the Heart and Mind, Potato Soup Journal, Borderless Journal, The Antonym, Flash

Fiction Festival Four and Writing Places Anthology UK. Her novella-in-flash If Dreams had

wings and Houses were built on clouds was longlisted in the Bath Novella in Flash Award

Competition in 2022. She is also a painter.

How to Bamboozle the World Leaders to Avoid a Third World War

Switch on the power of wit and wisdom.

Take the First World Countries. Add a few Middle East nations.

Mix them together in a bowl and let them delude each other.

Divide the third world countries into five non-cooperation committees. Season them with the

greed of free trade and the fear of religion.

Cut out the small fanatics and keep an eye on the religious leaders.

Pour the large tech companies into the mixture. Stir but keep it in a low flame.

When everything starts to crackle, add the threat of global warming.

Do not boil faith. Don’t bury hope.

When and if the big powers unexpectedly come to a consensus, and the small sovereigns turn

soft, start the cricket matches; they always bring the nations together.

Sprinkle the scent of love and peace.

Serve chilled with a band of artists, poets, and singers. Decorate it with a message: All Quiet on

the World Front.

Ottó Fenyvesi is a poet, writer, and artist. Born 1954 in Mohol-Gunarason (Yugoslavia), he graduated from the University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Arts. He had edited Új Symposion magazine, which was banned in May 1983. He worked as a disc jockey for the Hungarian station of Radio Novi Sad. He wrote and edited a rock music column for a weekly newspaper in Novi Sad. In 1991 he moved to Veszprém, Hungary. He was a contributor and editor for various newspapers, magazines and TV stations. He is the founding editor-in-chief of VÁR UCCA MŰHELY magazine, published in Veszprém. He published 18 books. His writings have been translated to German, French, English, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Serbian and Croatian. He translates from South Slavic languages and English to Hungarian. He had several solo collage exhibitions in Hungary, Serbia, the USA and the Netherlands. He participated in many group exhibitions.

At present he lives in a small village named Lovas.

Gabor G Gyukics, (b. 1958) Hungarian-American poet (jazz-poet), translator, author of 11

books of poetry in five languages, 1 book of prose and 19 books of translations including A

Transparent Lion, selected poetry of Attila József in English published by Green Integer in

2006, an anthology of North American Indigenous poets in Hungarian published in 2015 and a

brand new Contemporary Hungarian Poetry Anthology in English titled They’ll be Good for

Seed published by White Pine Press in the fall of 2021. He was honored with the Hungarian

Beat Poet Laureate Lifetime award in September 2020 by the National Beat Poetry Foundation,

Inc. based in Connecticut. He is writing poetry in English and Hungarian.

Ash Wednesday 

The world is speeding up and things are going really bad.

It’s full of horror, happiness seeps down to channelization.

We’re spinning in the middle of a cosmic hurricane,

the purpose and moral of the story is not yet clear.

The surviving punks are messaging on WhatsApp,

lying naked in their bathtub,

waiting for the rain to fall and then to stop.

Occasionally the old punks feel melancholy,

and talk about the climate with expertise.

Their T-shirts still read Punk’s Not Dead.

They’ve managed to survive, surviving Sid Vicious and all the parties.

Now they just drink and party alone: Too Drunk to Fuck.

They walk the dog, they wear furry slippers,

and serenely stare at the Manhattan high-rises.

Sometimes they go over to Brooklyn, out to Coney Island,

contemplate the waves of the ocean,

they would gladly become one with it.

They watch the helicopters flying over the water.

They don’t go to the Bowery anymore, where CBGB has long since disappeared.

The CBGB & OMFUG club, to be precise:

Country, Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.

According to others OMFUG = Only Mother Fucking Ugly Girls.

Founded by Hilly Kristal for bikers,

with some country music and banjo chirping,

streaming of beer and blues, everybody’s smoking weed and getting high,

but then the world sped up and punk swept everything away,

the destructive creativity of capitalism.

Instincts and senses went rampant,

because you had to make something out of that slimy debris,

that we sometimes call life.

You shiny, snotty life!

Back to the roots! Back, back and back again!

Mr Varvatos’s boutique now occupies the site of CBGB.

Opposite, on the other side, Bleecker Street,

the Blitzkrieg Bop, the dialectic and the new wave.

Hilly Kristal is dead, and all of the original Ramones members, all.

The last to go was Tommy Ramone,

his statue is already erected on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky street in Budapest,

right by Toldi cinema, where in one of the upstairs apartments

he was born as Tamás Erdélyi.

It was a long way from Toldi to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Yes, the plaque is there in front of the Toldi cinema,

where even Zsuzsi Ujj 1 could have been a cleaning lady

“I am not the same person I used to be,

in the store they greet me.”

Time has forgot and left the old punks and Zsuzsi.

Freedom is lurking under the doormat or in the garbage truck.

All the clothes of an old punk are black,

his socks, his pants, his hat, his handkerchief, etc.

The vinyls are sparkling on the shelves:

Ramones, Patti Smith Group, Sex Pistols, Clash, Talking Heads.

There is a lot of obscurity around the surviving punks.

They walk around and talk to themselves all the time,

since no one’s around they explain things to themselves.

Some of them love queuing at the post office,

they hate wimps, the radio’s long out of the window,

with all the fucking new music.

They know Manhattan from the ground up,

Sometimes they’re disgusted, other times they’re nauseous,

they stay far away from Broadway and Times Square.

They read a lot because they are interested in the workings of the mind.

It’s a kind of narrative in the symphony of the city,

the texture of freedom.

The surviving punks are long past fifty

and sixty, approaching seventy.

They are like ravenous predators in the tomato sauce.

They’re plagued by ailments, their hearts, their livers, their prostates.

But there’s more: cramps, blood pressure, diabetes, cancer.

One died recently, when they broke in the coroner simply said

“he’d been dead for four days”.

He was sitting in his armchair. He was stiff.

They took him to the crematory sitting up.

His face was puffy, his eyes wide open.

His mouth dripped grey foam.

He used to tell his acquaintances:

“Soon I’m either going to San Francisco, or to the grave.”

The internet radio was on, some 24-hour underground show.

Permanent stereo, background music, noise all the way to the ceiling.

Loss of meaning. War, crime, hunger, gluttony.

Post-conceptualist emptiness. Epidemics.

In his ashes two mournful screws and a zipper were found,

it was entered into the minutes book.

Old punks sending messages to each other:

It was all so long ago, they’ve forgotten the chords,

They’ve backed out of complicated situations,

they know how hard it is to control life,

and everything goes round and round,

but some things go up and then they come down.

Sometimes it is, other times it isn’t.

Things are usually go awry,

the new people have a right to hate their ancestors.

We are all gonna die after all.

1 Hungarian photographer, performer, songwriter and alternative rock musician.

Virgil Diaconu was born on November 28, 1948, in Râmnicu Sărat. He lives in Pitesti. Member of the U.S.R. since 1990. He is a poet, literary critic, publicist. He founded the magazine samizdat RA (Piteşti) in Pitesti (1981), and after ’89 the culture magazine Solstiţiu (January 1990), Săgetător, the weekly literary supplement of the daily “Argeşul” (January 1997), the magazine Cafeneaua literară (January 2003), published by the Center Cultural Pitesti, which he still leads today. He has published 16 volumes of poetry, two volumes of the aesthetics of poetry (essays), a volume of philosophy and a volume of biblical essays.

Ioana Cosma is a writer and lecturer from Romania. Her sixth volume of poetry is forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press in May and her first novel will appear in Romania in July. Her play, The Men from the Mechanical Age, will be part of the JCTC theatre festival in New Jersey. She writes poetry, short stories, novels and plays. 

Castelul

Despre copilul acela nu mai ştiu nimic.

Până și castelul s-a ascuns de mine printre ruine. 

Uneori, mă împiedic de turnurile şi ferestrele lui, 

dau cu picioru-n soldaţi. Şi trec nepăsător 

pe lângă prinţesa de aur. 

Eu nu mai ştiu nimic despre copilul din care am plecat.

Cireşul, care mă aştepta în fiecare dimineaţă la colţ, 

îşi întoarce acum ochii în altă parte.

Şi poate că ar lua-o la fugă printre frunze,

dacă nişte puşti nu l-ar trage cu putere de mânecă.

Despre copilul acela nu mai ştiu nimic.

Vrăbiile s-au mutat de la mine cu toate cuiburile.

Eu am căzut până şi în dizgraţia zilei mele de naştere,

a singurei zile când îmi amintesc că exist. Şi caut răspuns.

Până şi propria casă m-a scos în brânci pe scări.

Casa mea e pe drum, mi-am spus, pe drum…

Despre copilul acela nu mai ştiu nimic.

Şi totuşi, castelul îmi iese dinainte, uneori,

cu toate luminile aprinse, ca o corabie care taie întunericul.

Şi prinţesa cu cireşe la urechi mă ia de mână 

şi aleargă cu mine prin ierburi.

Negreşit, în noaptea aceasta mă voi întoarce!

În noaptea aceasta am să mă furişez printre paznicii adormiţi. 

Tiptil, să nu trezesc străjerii, păsările întunecate de pe metereze.

În noaptea aceasta am să aştept în turn ivirea zorilor.

Ivirea prinţesei. Acum nu mai aud decât râsul ei 

care sparge în ţăndări dimineaţa. 

Fluturii albaştri

Ţara este în criză. 

Dar tu eşti singurul care ai primit aprobarea  

să îţi duci mai departe viziunile, fluturii albaştri, 

mi-a spus îngerul meu păzitor.

Şi dreptul la viaţă ţi-a fost garantat în continuare.

Dreptul la viaţă cu acele în vene… 

Stai liniştit, mi-a spus îngerul meu păzitor. 

Cineva îţi va strecura în fiecare zi sub cearşaf 

o doză de glucoză, pentru a-ţi duce mai departe viziunile, 

fluturii albaştri. 

Da, fluturii vor fi liberi să zboare prin piaţa cea mare, 

unde primarul îşi împarte minciunile şi sarmalele electorale. 

Și forțele de ordine îi vor lăsa să zboare în voie!

Şi chiar să apară la ştirile de seară. 

– Să nu crezi că ei au fost arestaţi 

pentru „tulburarea liniştii publice”, aşa cum se zvoneşte. 

Să nu crezi, mi-a spus îngerul meu secret, 

lustruindu-şi tresele… Atâta doar că de-acum înainte

fluturii albaştri vor fi programaţi pe calculator,

pentru ca ei să zboare organizat, în pluton.

Şi pentru ca niciun curcubeu să nu mai dea buzna pe cer,

de capul lui şi fără acte în regulă.  

Aşa mi-a spus îngerul meu secret, dându-mi asigurări 

că voi putea să lucrez mai departe la fluturii albaştri…

Cu acele în vene şi cu tubul de glucoză primit pe furiş,

voi putea să lucrez mai departe. 

Şi poate că într-o clipă de neatenţie a forțelor de ordine

fluturii mei vor umple iarăşi cerul! Da, eu voi transmite 

pe toate canalele vederi din sângele meu albastru… 

Într-o clipă de neatenţie a forțelor de ordine.

Desigur, eu voi amâna glonţul şi de data aceasta. 

Glonţul, acest suvenir din călătoriile mele occidentale. 

Un suvenir pe care îl voi lăsa moştenire fiilor mei, 

spre a le fi de folos la nevoie.

Apariţii    

Sub streaşina glasului tău 

mă întorc seara în grădină, mamă, 

în grădina smintită de cireşii înfloriţi şi de vrăbii. 

Nu mai cuprinzi lucrurile… 

Umbli prin camere, măsori singurătatea.

Între fotoliu şi pat, singurătatea. 

Cana cu apă a rămas neatinsă, ceasul a împietrit în perete. 

Şi făpturile din album au dat năvală în casă.

Ele umblă zălude prin camere, măsoară singurătatea.

Iată-l pe bunicul în hainele lui de paradă

şi cu medaliile pe piept. Cu toate medaliile, 

ca să-ţi alunge tăcerea şi teama.  

Iată fecioara, care are chiar mâinile tale. 

Şi care aleargă pe câmp după fluturii amiezii. 

Fecioara cu aripi de fluture. 

Şi copilul, care prinde pentru tine soarele cocoţat în cireş. 

Toate au dat năvală în odaie, 

de parcă lacrima nu ţi-ar fi de ajuns. 

Da, uneori, tu mă trezeşti din somn 

şi îmi arăţi noaptea bătută în cuiele de argint. – 

O călătorie pentru care nu sunt nici acum pregătit. 

Şi pentru care nu voi fi niciodată. 

Copacii din grădină se dau cu capul de pereţii casei.

Şi eu mă închid în camera mea. 

Nici n-am văzut când m-am lovit de cana cu apă. 

De cana cu apă, din care se vede bine că a băut cineva… 

Întotdeauna se întâmplă ceva peste puterile mele.

Ceasul din perete mă strigă toată noaptea cu bătăile lui. 

Şi inima aleargă ca o nebună pe-afară,

prin grădina smintită de floarea de cireş şi de vrăbii. 

Nici nu mai ştiu dacă vrea să ia în braţe pădurea 

sau să îngroape totul în cenuşă. 

The Castle 

Of that child I know nothing anymore.

Even the castle hid away from me among the ruins. 

At times, I stumble against its towers and windows

and kick the s*oldiers. I pass carelessly

by the golden princess. 

I now know nothing about the child that I departed from.

The cherry tree, which used to wait for me 

each morning around the corner,

is now glancing elsewhere.

And maybe it would start running away among the leaves,

if some kids didn’t hold tight to its sleeve.

Of that child I know nothing anymore.

The sparrows have fled from me with all their nests.

I have become the unwanted child of my very birthday,

the only day when I remember I exist. And search for an answer.

Even my own home has shoved me down the stairs.

My home, it’s on the road, I told myself, on the road….

Of that child I know nothing anymore.

And yet, the castle emerges before me, at times,

with all its lights ablaze, like a ship cutting through the darkness.

And the princess with cherries around her ears takes me by the hand

and runs with me in the (tall) grass.

For sure, tonight I will come back!

Tonight I will sneak past the sleeping guards.

On tiptoe, so as not to wake the watchmen, the dark birds upon the ramparts.

Tonight, I’ll wait the wake of dawn inside the tower.

The coming of the princess. Now the only thing I hear is her laughter

shattering the morning into shards. 

The Blue Butterflies

The country is in crisis.

But you are the only one who received the permission

to carry on with your visions, the blue butterflies,

my guardian angel said.

And you were granted the right to go on living.

The right to go on living with needles in your veins…

Have no fear, said my guardian angel.

Someone will slip each day under the blanket

a dose of glucose, to carry on with your visions,

the blue butterflies.  

Yes, my butterflies will be free to fly in the big square,

where the mayor emparts his lies and election cabbage rolls.

And the police force will let them fly free!

And even make an appearance on the night news.

  • Do not believe they got arrested

for “disturbing public order”, as it’s rumored. 

Do not believe that, said my secret angel,

polishing his stripes… It’s just that from now on

the blue butterflies will be computer programmed,

so they can fly in organized manner, in squad formation.

And so no rainbow can rush into the sky

of its own will and with no official papers. 

This is what my secret angel told me, assuring me

that I will be able to carry on my work with the blue butterflies…

With those veins and with the tube of glucose I was given surreptitiously,

I will be able to carry on working.

And maybe when the police don’t look

my butterflies will fill up the skies once again! Yes, I will be broadcasting

on all channels postcards of my blue blood….

When the police don’t look. 

Surely, I will delay the bullet this time too.

The bullet, that souvenir from my trips to the West.

A souvenir I will bequeath to my sons

to make use of it in times of need.

Apparitions 

Under the canopy of your voice,

I return at night in the garden, mother,

in the garden smitten by blossom cherries and sparrows. 

You no longer encompass things…

You walk through the rooms, you measure solitude…

Between the armchair and the bed, the solitude. 

The cup of water left untouched, the clock frozen on the wall.

And the beings in the album flooded the house.

They walk amock in the rooms, measuring solitude.

There is grandfather in his marching clothes

with the medals on his chest. With all the medals, 

to chase away your silence and fear.

There is the virgin, who has your very hands. 

And who chases the butterflies of noon in the field.

The virgin with butterfly wings.

And the child, who, for you, will catch the sun perched in the cherry tree.

They all flooded in the room,

as though the tear had not been enough.  

Yes, at times you wake me up

and show me the night pierced by the silver nails. – 

A voyage I am not ready for even now

And one I’ll never be ready for.  

The trees in the garden are knocking their heads to the house walls. 

And I lock myself up in my room.

I didn’t even see them when I got hit by the water jug.

By the water jug, which someone has clearly drunk from… 

Something greater than me happens always.

The clock on the wall keeps crying for me all night long with its beats.

And the heart races like a madman outside,

through the garden smitten by the cherry flower and the birds.

I no longer know if it wants to embrace the woods

or to bury it all underneath cinders. 

Scott Ferry helps our Veterans heal as a RN in the Seattle area. His seventh book of poetry, The Long Blade of Days Ahead, is forthcoming from Impspired Press in August 2022.

listening to coltrane’s love supreme

the chaos gets the fireweed       off the kitchenknife

all the fingers are broken                     and beautiful

as they peel                  themselves a new brightness

give me               a skin to dance out of each phrase

wraps its fleshy genitalia                  around the next

like a sea anemone but the glass is leak               ing

the sax is ambi                dextrous in milk is a blush

capsized in                                a flowerfield i know

this is about love      but it wrangles neurons      out

by their flametails and whips                            them

look a bouquet of           mesentery and splenic arcs

look a mess of garbanzos               look a blooddish

in a shaven neck     look an eel-bone a whale-phone

a depository of raptures razored in a               string

i can’t bring these things out    of the music for you

i am                   nascent          here          in the boil

there are too many minnows   to                   mirror

my son is a fox

my fox is a sleeping newt

my sleeping newt is a wetsong

my wetsong is not mine

what is not mine i try to hold

serpentine flashing skinmolted

he will wake and want apples

not the fruit of the knowledge

of good and evil just apples

cut into slices a portion

suited for a fox

who just became a fox

who was a sleeping newt

slurring a wetsong

into a river like a newskin

snake who does not know

evil who only knows

hunger laughter

arms our arms

which he will

shed too

soon

late winter / early spring

what of these ordinary half-wet days

gets remembered? between winter and spring?

sleep and more sleep? half-sun and slanting rain?

sometimes just walking into my house

smelling the carrot cake my daughter and wife

are baking my son running up to me

screeching daddy! will this be a déjà vu

when my daughter goes to college?

when my son enters my last hospital room

with that smile and i can swear i taste

the warm cake on my tongue?

Valerio Grutt was born in Naples in 1983. He has published Una città chiamata le sei di mattina (Edizioni della Meridiana, 2009), Qualcuno dica buonanotte (Alla chiara fonte editore, 2013), the pamphlet Andiamo (Pulcinoelefante, 2013), Però qualcosa chiama – Poema del Cristo velato (Edizioni Alos, 2014), Dammi tue notizie e un bacio a tutti (Interno Poesia, 2018), Tutto l’amore nelle mani (VG, 2019) and L’amuleto – Appunti sul potere di guarigione della poesia (AnimaMundi, 2021). Some of his texts can be found in the collections Subway – Poeti italiani underground (Ed. Il saggiatore 2006), Centrale di Transito (Perrone Editore 2016) and Fuoco. Terra. Aria. Acqua (Terra d’ulivi 2017). Director of the Centre for Contemporary Poetry at the University of Bologna from 2013 to 2016. His research blends the fields of music and visual art, he creates performances and installations. He currently works with Interno Poesia, a blog and publishing house.

www.valeriogrutt.it

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014). Recent work in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, The Black Bough, and The Fortnightly Review. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

Three poems from Dammi tue notizie e un bacio a tutti (Interno Poesia, 2018) by Valerio Grutt

Noi non siamo di quella specie

che si divora, che dà

solo quando riceve.

Di quelli che cercano

il punto debole del vetro

e fanno del mondo tutto

un agguato del nulla.

Noi siamo gli indomabili,

abbiamo un altro odore.

Siamo gli ingenui rimasti

ad ascoltare il cuore della terra

mentre l’estate è pazza

per la sua festa di luce.

We are not the kind

that devours itself, that gives

only when we receive.

Not those who seek

the weak point of the glass

and make the whole world

an ambush of nothingness.

We are the untamable,

we have another smell.

We are the naive ones left

listening to the heart of the earth

while the summer is crazy

for its feast of light.

Voglio che tu sappia

che non sei qui per caso

e che capiterà sempre più spesso

di salutare le persone che ami

alla stazione, di non rivederle

per settimane o mesi…

Le vedrai cadere

nella voragine dei giorni

e ti verrà da piangere e maledire,

da spaccare le vetrine.

Ma le distanze sono ponti

non possono dividere noi

che abbiamo raccolto la luce

dal pozzo degli occhi, abbiamo

visitato il tronco rotto della notte.

Voglio che tu sappia

che non sei sola mai

e che in ogni centimetro di vuoto

si muove una moltitudine

ed ogni sorriso viene

– ricordatelo, mi raccomando –

dalla riserva segreta del bene.

Sappi che ci sarà da domandarsi

il senso di tutto, che alla fine

non ci sarà una vera fine

e capirai che l’amore

era l’unica domanda buona,

l’unica risposta giusta.

I want you to know

that you are not here by chance

and more and more often you’ll 

greet the people you love

at the station, not see them again

for weeks or months…

You will see them fall

into the abyss of days

and you’ll cry and curse,

smash shop windows.

But distances are bridges

they cannot divide us

who have gathered the light

from the well of eyes, we have

visited the broken trunk of night.

I want you to know

that you are never alone

and that in every inch of emptiness

a multitude moves

and every smile comes

– remember this, please –

from the secret reserve of good.

Know that we’ll ask ourselves

the meaning of everything, that in the end

there will be no real end

and you’ll understand that love

was the only good question

the only right answer.

Metto il portafoglio in tasca ed esco

la strada mi abbaglia, i palazzi,

i clacson. È questo il campo di battaglia

pianeta, via cumana. È qui

che si decide, nei nostri cuori avviene

la sfida grande tra Lucifero e Michele.

Vedo il cane che risale la campagna

il guardrail che la taglia; vedo due

che si baciano e si scrollano la notte

dalle spalle, vedo e non ho visto niente.

Gli occhi non sono occhi, gli alberi

sono altri alberi, resteranno piantati

gli occhi nelle orbite, gli alberi nella terra,

in questo e in altri tempi, fino al salto,

alla fine, la fine che esplode ancora

l’inizio di pianto e di gioia.

I put my wallet in my pocket and go out

the street dazzles me, the buildings,

the horns. This is the battlefield

planet, via cumana. This is where

all is decided, the great struggle 

in our hearts between Lucifer and Michael.

I see the dog climbing the countryside

the guardrail that divides it; I see two people

kissing each other and shaking the night

from their shoulders, I see and I saw nothing.

Eyes are not eyes, trees

are other trees, they will remain planted

eyes in sockets, trees in the earth,

in this and other times, until the leap,

to the end, the end that still explodes

the beginning of weeping and joy.

Adela Sinclair is a NYFA Grant winning Romanian American poet, translator, and teacher. Her Chapbook entitled LA REVEDERE is now available through Finishing Line Press. Adela is currently working with an editor on her first full-length poetry collection, “The Butcher’s Granddaughter,” a lyrical memoir of her childhood in Romania. Adela holds a BA in French Culture and Civilization from SUNY Albany, with additional coursework at the Sorbonne University of Paris, an MA in Education from Hunter College (NYC), and an MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from St. Francis College (Brooklyn). 

Little insect

    after Little Time by Alina Stefanescu

 We must go inside, he said.

The insects were rampant and

starting to bite.

The balmy night air was thick.

Their song perpetuating itself

in the valley.

We must not forget their DNA

when speaking about insects.

XX dont go missing your Y.

The crown comes with a price, he said.

Princess, she wanted to be called. Or

maybe she said Priceless.

We must talk about endurance when

it comes to insects.

They buzz around in circles so you

get dizzy and misfire at them.

Mercy with a dose of merriment.

In the end, we sum it up to being

outlived. By trees. Insects. Mountains.

We must give power where it’s due.

The perpetrator is the culprit. Not the

victim. Even so, insects, some of them,

victimization works both ways. Insest

in a home always translates into crime.

The flowers in the attic. Consanguinity.

Punishable till eternity.

We must power through this cold winter,

he says. The snowflakes are messages

that one must catch while in flight, and at

first touch they disappear. Melt into

the couch you are sitting on, lime green,

draw from experience what you must keep.

Endurance is a virtue.

We must outlive metal. Radiant in our sheen green

carapace, our bodies are always levitating.

Reminded of flies, their daring dirt.

When I get dirt under my nails, I obsessively

clean them and cut them short. So short

I bleed.

 Pay for it

When the money runs out, will you pay for it

with your body, through your body or in your body?

Will you park your body in the doorframe?

Passersby must fumble and rub their bodies

against your own parked there. Just like this.

Why can’t I find the poetry in this? So what if

the boy started wearing light colored clothes?

Different framed glasses? So what if he reviews

books on TV and I don’t. So what? I heard he burned

all his biker clothes and leather jackets and boots.

My bad, I meant books. On a cellular level I know

it is wrong to hoard so many first editions and then

post mortem donate them to Christie’s. Who the fuck

benefits from this now. GIve to the rich. Keep fucking

for money, keep fucking yourself over for money.

Keep the fucking money. And run. The boy pays for it.

With his pastel pink shirt and blue pants. I can still

sniff the tattoos under his long sleeved shirt. He cannot

apply for a professor’s job with this conjecture. Nor

can the biker in him die. Nor can the bookseller, most

famous bookseller, read in heaven. And in hell his books

don’t stand a chance. Either way, he is fucked and we

are in luck. As I stand in the doorway, my mother passes

by me and the scent of her sweat and perfume, mixed

together like a collage that shouldn’t work, but does,

reminds me that I am and have an inner child still.

She is not easily amused by my spending and binging.

I speed through the cash money, so I do not have to carry

wealthy people have problems with fat bank accounts.

How dumb. I therefor overeat to not stand my body

and its curves. I could not even pay with my body now.

Even if I wanted to… So we keep on thinking fat-shaming

is a sin.. I mentally do it all the time. This hellish purgatory

I’m in. My body pays over and over stuck in the doorway

of no returns. There is a certain violence when they enter me.

A sense of poverty of spirit I sense in them. Yet like in a museum,

they keep coming, to experience the installation.

Opposite of Amor Fati

The sickle is the farming tool I choose to cut

your throat. A few crows for the carnage.

I hold the short-handed tool in my hand,

the semicircular blade around the main attraction.

They were coming for me, the crows, the kids

with crow faces and beaks, the sound of metal.

The boiling cauldron is where I throw your head,

after the throat has been cut. I do not remember

how to leave this place, for my country. Or I do

not remember how to leave my country for this place.

Either way, the aliens are living among us, offer us

the courtesy of wearing human guises. The tellurium

blade corrodes and I wonder is it brass instead?

This is opposite of amor fati, I want to twist my fate

like braids of sins for the famished plebeians. Always

lay blame on the rich, for the corpse of poverty cannot

be laid to rest. Unrest inside the magic circle, crows lined

around the cauldron, the fire, the smoke, your head on

a platter. It was not a clean cut, it was not a clear decision.

The escape was not but became my mission. Twists and turns,

on the apocalyptic serpentine Carpathian roads, the river Olt

beckoning me with its fury. The color of a dying fire,

the bottom is not clear nor predictable.  I must and I throw

the beheaded moor into the muddy water. I secure an out,

while at the wheel filled with doubt. The serpent around

my neck, strangleholds and bridges my life to the afterlife.

May 1, 2022

Once again, this issue is dedicated to the brave and indomitable spirit of the Ukrainian people in the face of the unimaginable. We stand with Ukraine. Slava Ukraini!

Dave Lewis is a working-class writer, poet and photographer from Cilfynydd. He read zoology at Cardiff University and has always lived in Wales apart from a year, teaching and volunteering in Kenya. He founded the International Welsh Poetry Competition – the biggest in Wales. He also runs Writers of Wales, the Poetry Book Awards and book publishing company Publish & Print. He has published many books. His epic poem, Roadkill, deals with the class struggle, while his collection, Going Off Grid, outlines the dangers of digital capitalism. Resolutely untrendy he is shunned by the literature establishment in Wales.

Goshawk

If you might thread your way

through the pine forest up above

the ancient oak and holly trees

having crossed the clear, cold stream

after the hazelnut and blackberry rows

once you leave the old path behind

you will feel the soft damp carpet

of brown needles beneath your feet

and be walled by silent echoes

only broken by the screams

of dark corvids bawling in peril

or squirrels scampering fast

as the goose hawk unfurls a claw

and the paradise is shattered

as a murderer hops along

then sees your giant shadow

and disappears all too soon.

Geoff Sawers has written several non-fiction books for Two Rivers Press and illustrated maps for the Literary Gift Company. His poetry publications include Scissors Cut Rock (Flarestack, 2005) and To The Forgotten (with Giles Goodland; Goose Cathedral Press, 2014). He lives in Reading, UK, with his disabled son.

Silver-Y moth

Rugged migrant, a grey-brown blur
in twilight fields behind your eyes
that watermarked letter imprints you
leads you at dusk to the darkened stair
and a cloud of questions why.

Swallowtailed moth

Yellow bottle-glass, a fragment re-used
in a post-Reformation church window
strains the sunlight through its brittle skin
each rapt hind-wing beaked
is a Romanesque archway.

Brimstone moth

Hawthorn hedge-hider
piping lute-string, ledge-liner
sulfur-miner, minor cousin
rain-sheltering by the dozen
hand-drawn maps of where to find yer

Six-spotted burnet moth


Velvet clubs at the ready
Burgess and Kubrick got nothing on this
in messy leguminal grassland climbing
from the depths to the heights and
leaves you with a faceful of crimson

Fox moth

Run your fingers through the heather
restless roll in strong Spring sun
quiet cunning, they’ll never catch you
track back turn tail and undermine us
waken to the curlew’s cry 

Miriam Calleja is a Maltese poet and translator. She writes in Maltese and English. Her poetry collections, Pomegranate Heart (EDE Books, 2015), and Inside Skin (EDE Books, 2016) have been described as ‘fresh’, ‘intimate’, and ‘sensual’. Her recent poetry collections are Stranger Intimacy (Stamparija Reljic, 2020) and the collaborative art book Luftmeer (2021) published in Holland. She has been published and translated in several poetry anthologies worldwide. Miriam has performed during the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival (2020/2021) and Schamrock Festival for Women Poets (Munich, 2020).

Paris

Translated from Maltese by Miriam Calleja

Woman who opened your hands to my embrace

and uncovered the garden of your rising and falling chest,

you are a babbling river that doesn’t know how to stop.

Woman who does not fear the gaze of men

who makes him hunger and thirst with desire

and pierces him right in the centre of his heart with arrows,

woman whose body is an invitation, entirely,

a sleepless and eternally ablaze volcano,

woman who kisses without getting breathless

and bites your lips until breakthrough,

moaning and shaking and wanting more.

Woman who stole her colours from the rainbow

and stole her pupils from the suns and stars,

and stole hips and stole arms and heart,

I don’t know, I don’t know what you did to steal all this,

and you stole your fruit from the garden of Eden,

this sacrament drunk only by gods

you snatched it while they slept

this sacrament, this altar, this half of everything.

Your bite is too strong

and your hair makes me dizzy tangled in mine,

and your weight upon me is about to choke me.

Here, choked in your arms, every man dies satisfied.

Woman, in every scratch your thoughts bleed,

and your mind is an ocean, always aroused.

Woman who knows, woman who wants, I give up
my masculinity for you. Take everything I have

for you are fully feminine

sorceress of greatest secrets, Paris.

Pariġi

By Oliver Friggieri

Mara li ftaħtli idejk biex nagħfsek miegħi

u kxiftli l,ġnien ta’ sidrek tiela’ w nieżel,

int xmara tgelgel li ma tafx kif tieqaf.

Mara li ma tibżax mill,ħars ta’ raġel

u tqabbdu l-ġuħ u tqabbdu 1-għatx tax-xewqa

u tinfdu dritt fin,nofs tal-qalb bil-vleġeġ,

mara li ġismek fih stedina waħda,

vulkan li ma jorqodx u dejjem jaħraq,

mara li tbus mingħajr ma taqta’ nifsek

u tigdem bejn xofftejk sakemm tiskopri,

u tingħi u titriegħed u trid aktar.

Mara li sraqt ilwienek mill-qawsalla

u sraqt il-ħbub t’għajnejk mix-xmux u 1-kwiekeb,

u sraqt xoff~ejk min-nar, ħaddejk mill-qamar,

u sraqt ġenbejk u sraqt dirgħajk u qalbek,

ma nafx, ma nafx x’għamilt biex sraqt dan kollu,

u sraqt il-frotta tiegħek minn ġo 1-Għeden,

dal-kalċi jlegilguh 1-allat weħidhom

u int ħtafthulhom meta kienu rieqda

dal-kalċi, dan 1-artal, dan-nofs ta’ kollox.

Qawwija wisq din 1-għafsa ta’ bejn snienek

u xuxtek tistordini mħabbla miegħi,

u t-toqol tiegħek fuqi se jifgani.

Hekk, fgat fdirgħajk, imut kull raġel hieni.

Mara, fkull girfa jnixxi l-ħsieb ta’ moħħok

u moħħok oċean, imqanqal dejjem.

Mara li taf, mara li trid, inċedi

quddiemek irġuliti. Ħu kulm’għandi

la minn fuq s’isfel inti femminili, s

aħħara tas-sigrieti l-kbar, Pariġi.

Beatrice Szymkowiak is a French American writer. She is the author of RED ZONE, a poetry chapbook. Her work has also appeared in many poetry magazines including Terrain.orgThe Berkeley Review, The Portland Review, OmniVerse, The Southern Humanities Review, and others. She graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2017, and obtained a PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2022.

By the Porch, As You Await the Storm

I am, what lurks at dusk in your quivers and whispers, words of capture. A book ruffles. Hurricane lamps flutter. Shadows figment wild beasts from your hands. I sigh against your palm, the stillness that seizes the prey, before you clench your fist. Rain falls, releases Earth.

[…], and the musky odor of pinks filled the air.”

                                                                        The Awakening, Kate Chopin

From lavender swarm,

                                    diaphanous summer

wings zephyr

                        through bedroom sheer,

            sting

                                    our seamless sleep.

Tympanums pricked

                                                to silence,

                                                            we see

end throng

                        honeycomb eye.

Reverie

On March 7, 1876, the Mississippi River suddenly changed course near the settlement of Reverie, Tennessee. This abrupt change of course left Reverie and a small part of Tipton County attached to Arkansas and separated from the rest of Tennessee by the new river channel. As this change of course was the result of an avulsion, and not of erosion or accretion of soils, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the state line would not be modified. Reverie and what is now Centennial Island would remain part of Tennessee.

            after Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Disasters by Christine A. Klein and Sandra B. Zellmer

            nestled in your oxbow I

                                                            heard frog song figments

                        chanting the change

of course

            of your arm

                        overnight

                                    toward East

                                                down steepest slopes

                                                where catfish don’t swim along

set State lines anymore

            where we become a hundred year no man’s land

                                                                                                lit by fireflies             

                                                labeled island 35

until judges declare

                                    the shift of your arm was not

                                    from incremental loss and lock

                                                                             but sudden mystical bond

A 2017 NJ Council on the Arts poetry fellow, Nicole Ross Rollender is the author of the poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love (Five Oaks Press), and four poetry chapbooks. She has won poetry prizes from Palette Poetry, Gigantic Sequins, CALYX Journal, and Ruminate Magazine. Her work appears in Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Nashville Poetry Review, The Journal, Ninth Letter, Puerto del Sol, Salt Hill Journal and West Branch, among many other journals. Nicole is managing editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal, and holds an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. She’s also co-founder and CEO of Strand Writing Services. Visit her online: www.nicolemrollender.com.

Prophecy i: War in an Unnamed City
A dream of figs. Warm wind blowing in off the sea. We’re at a café table drinking chai shivering
with thick cream. The war starts somewhere in a nameless city. You’re calm: you run your fingers
on the stone tabletop. “The sky’s violet. I’m getting hungry.” Yet, no mention that now, is the future. We may never see our home again. The touch of the silk sheets, the horse’s sturdy brindle back, soft blueberries. I think of my grandmother, leaving Poland. The homeland only in memory. The clock
moving forward. I can’t remember the name of the city where the war starts. Yet, it has begun. Blaze
of never being able to _______ again. Your thick pork soup burbling, the sorbet orange sunset
flooding the sky. Sipping comfort food from the Old World. A world that, now, no longer exists.

Prophecy ii: Golden Light in the Trees
            These nights, I want to say everything, as the time shortens. My body burns from the soles up. My
            dress lit up as if struck by lightning. My body a rod you’ll need to cut from the red fabric. My wrists
            leak violet light, the space between my shoulder blades open. My body’s a living crypt. Strange             
             dialects in shadows. You can’t hear this? “You are in turmoil… in snares… a great spiritual battle… 
             insidious oppressor of souls.” There’s still illuminated clouds in the sky. My body a box. The rain
             coming with blood. I take off my shoes. The distance between my body and those I love grows.
             They won’t ask. I won’t say I don’t have much time. There’s still time. Everything is different now.

Linda Levitt is a poet and writer living in Deep East Texas, where she teaches communication and media studies. She holds an MFA in creative writing and a PhD in communication. She was recently awarded a fellowship for the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and published poems in Roam and Ekphrastic Review. Her first book, Culture, Celebrity, and the Cemetery: Hollywood Forever, was published by Routledge in 2018. 

Naming

A guardian to anchor me,

I name her into being:

Malin. She says her name

means “strong, little warrior.”

Almost an insult, I say,

the diminutive sings out

a weakness, despite your assertion

of strength. Not frail, Malin.

She is fire and flame,

arms reaching skyward

with sparks dancing on her fingertips,

pressing her strength into mine.

A guardian to set me free,

I name her into being:

Sezia. She says her name

means, in Russian, “defender.”

My heritage, like Sezia’s, in the stones

of Russia and the boundary-less space

of East Europe where my ancestors

whose names are still on the tongues

of their descendents, had their identity

shifted from one loyalty to another,

remaining to each other

and to their tribe.

Both of my grandmothers, named Esther,

Feels more of a gift than mere coincidence.

In the Bible, Esther means hidden,

In Hebrew, Esther is Star.

Two guardians to watch over me,

to anchor me, to set me free.

Shannon Kenny is an actor and writer from Durban, South Africa. Her flash fiction, poetry or CNF has been published in Rejection Letters, 100 Words of Solitude, Lockdown BabyBabble, Janus Literary, The Manifest-Station. As a mother and teacher of young children, her hope is that she would be able to leave the world in a better place than she found it. 

Notes on War

Wars are fought on sunny days 

while starlings chirp and swirl 

and babies are born 

and couples fall 

in and out  

of love 

Wars are fought in the pouring rain while spiders cling to silken thread and earthworms burrow  

and memories flood  

the mind 

Wars are fought in the dead of night while distant neutron stars collide and precious gold  

is flung across  

our universe 

Wars are fought when the sky is blue 

and the surf is up 

and conditions  

are perfect 

Joani Reese writes poems, CNF, personal essays, and flash fiction. She has had two poetry chapbooks published, Final Notes (Naked Manniken) and Dead Letters (Cervena Barva Press).  LitFestPress published her full-length, mixed genre book, Night Chorus, in 2015. She has won a few awards, the latest the 42nd Moon Prize for her poem Elegy. Reese lives and works in Texas and is owned by a number of recalcitrant cats.

Rearview 

His views seemed so dated, his fires so small, we bickered

among ourselves, knowing it all would wink out like a match flicked,

the world much too full to start blazing from one man’s resentment.

We’ve failed.

His flattened gaze locks and loads over new land.  

Conscripts hump grievance, blast toys, spread our shame

over cities that yesterday we could not name.

And even with six million souls newly dead, the exhaustion

of pandemic years still ahead, this relic, war, raises its gaze

once again, a sewing of bitter seeds by reckless men.

Bomblets shower buildings, burn babies in beds,

bunker grandmothers, dust motes, no water, no bread.

We watch, safely distanced, admiration our mien,

compliment home-grown heroes, but we don’t intervene 

as they beg us, how long will you wait as we bleed? 

You, blinded by parlance, our vision honed, keen. 

The hours grow longer while each trifling word’s tossed 

from country to country like broken winged birds. 

When the sunflowers stir from the bodies of boys

mystified why they died, who will write how we played 

with ideas, delayed? Who will write how we waved 

bright white flags with ardor at a criminal crossroads 

when love was so rare?

Ellen Skilton’s poetry has appeared in The Dewdrop, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Scapegoat Review, Dissident Voice, Philadelphia Stories, Red Eft Review and The Dillydoun Review. In addition to being a poet, she is an excellent napper, a chocolate snob, a swimmer, and lives in Philadelphia.

Please Stop (Or, There Is Nothing More Tragic than War)

—After Morgan Parker’s“Please Wait (Or, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé)”

Please stop ignoring the toy soldiers in tiny fists on the playground

Until our lives are no longer defined by power and money

Forced-air heat making skin dry and scuffed new shoes

Talking heads glistening with sweat in day-break war zones

There is nothing more tragic than war: certainly not missed trains,

Or a kiss on the cheek on prom night, even mansplaining feminists

Whose battalions don’t let them cry or shower singing arias

Who demean and undercut female colleagues with a smile

Maybe they are dead inside

Maybe they will turn into fire or coupons for free things

There is nothing more tragic than war:

Not ozone depletion, or online classes on snow days, even cynicism

The fucking lies

It’s so insidious how the truth doesn’t matter

How audio and video evidence is like the wind

And feels like poisonous gasses we ignore

But one day the common good will be cool again

One day you’ll listen with both ears you’ll really hear

And resolve without resentment and worthiness will shine

Like fireflies in an open field in July

The simplicity of small bursts of light and their silent joy

A solace will avalanche into your throat

The forest trails will still be muddy, observed

Reading the history books, you’ll see the future and think OK

Human beings, though loveable, have mostly stayed the same

Maria Lucia Riccioli teaches literature in high schools and was a teacher of Italian and creative writing at the Archiepiscopal Seminary of Syracuse. She has composed lyrics for music and recorded CDs of Christmas classics and religious anthems. She writes for “La civetta di Minerva” and many of her works are published in anthologies, newspapers, magazines and websites. Semifinalist at the II National Championship of the Italian language led by Luciano Rispoli (TMC), culture organizer, winner of literary competitions, such as the one for the best reviews of Agatha Christie’s novels held by “Il Corriere della sera”, RomaNoir, the literary challenges of Porsche Italia, her story opened “Carabinieri in giallo 4” (I Gialli Mondadori, gold series). She published the novel “A skylark wounded in the wing” on the biography and work of Mariannina Coffa, the XIX century poet from Noto (Prize “Portopalo – Further South of Tunis”), then re-edited, finalist at the Kaos Festival in Montallegro (AG) and reported at the “Alessio Di Giovanni” Prize, then the collections of Sicilian cunti and poems “Quannu ‘u Signuri passava p’ ‘ munnu” and “Munuzzagghi e ratteddi” (Algra Editore) and the children’s books “The banawhale” and “Who stole my mum?” (VerbaVolant edizioni), protagonists of meetings and workshops for schools.

PEACE

peace is

a bird that returns to fly

over the skies raped by rockets

peace is

a creeper

stubborn and tenacious

clinging to a crumbling wall

peace is

a ball

that bounces

on the slaughtered streets

peace is

the sadness that sets

among clouds of tears

and the smile that dawns

on the eyelids of a new-born

peace is

a dream a hope

a kind thought

A work of art

it is understanding and forgiveness

it is an outstretched hand

to give and not just to demand

to work and not to plunder

to caress instead of violating

to pray instead of haranguing interested lies

to pity instead of accuse

to build instead of wiping out

peace

it’s you

than instead of asking for it

you look for it in yourself

Dr. Ruslana A. Westerlund is a Ukrainian-born author, a linguist, and a transcultural human who uses poetry to inform the public about her homeland Ukraine.  She immigrated from Ukraine in 1995 and has continued to serve her people through writing, activism, fundraising, and public speaking.  Her most recent poetry has served her to process anger, despair, outrage, and cry for help to stop the atrocities committed against her people.  Her poetry has appeared in Writing for Human Rights blog and Language Magazine. She is also a daughter of her Ukrainian father, an aunt to her Ukrainian nephews and one niece, and a cousin to her 20+ Ukrainian cousins who are in Ukraine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.   

There are no words

Day 13 of War

March 9, 2022

There are no words

Sometimes they are stuck in my throat, swallowed along with salty tears

Sometimes they are unspoken

Replaced by anger, rage, despair, heavy sighs, tears, sorrow, heartbreak, groans, and deep deep anguish

Because there are no words for pain for unborn babies in mother’s pregnant bellies shot in the Mariupol maternal ward with an airstrike

There are no words for a human-body-size stain of blood from the body that was carrying a baby shot in that same maternal ward

There are no words for CNN headlines “Ukraine accuses Russia for bombing the maternity ward in Mariupol”.

Or Aljezeera’s headline “Ukraine accuses Russia of bombing children’s hospital in Mariupol”

How about a headline “Russian terrorists bombed a maternity ward and a children’s hospital in Mariupol today”? CNN and Al Jazeera, do you see the difference?

There are no words for humanitarian corridors being mined

There are no words for a family with children being shot in Irpin as they were running to the evacuation bus

There are no words for a heavily pregnant woman being carried out on stretches and not being allowed to give life to a newborn

A newborn who would play, giggle, run, play catch, color with crayons, go to school, study and recite Shevchenko.

There is no newborn to be born. Period.

There are no words for children trapped in the rubble

There are no words for terrorists except terrorists

They do not deserve the word “Russian army” because they are terrorists who kill unborn life

The only words I have are

Acts of atrocity

Terrorist acts

Child killers

Maternity ward bombers

Who hold nothing sacred

Who kill women with pregnant bellies full of life

Death to the enemy!

There are no words today

Maybe they will come back tomorrow

But today there are no words 

“Немає слів”

13-й день війни

Руслана Вестерланд

Переклад Дмитро Комар

Немає слів

Іноді вони застряють у горлі, ковтаються разом із солоними сльозами, іноді вони невисловлені.

Заміщені гнівом, люттю, відчаєм, тяжкими зітханнями, сльозами, сумом, розбитим серцем, стогоном і глибокою-глибокою тугою.

Адже немає слів, які би описали біль ненароджених дітей в утробах матерів, розстріляних у Маріупольському пологовому будинку ударами авіації.

Немає слів, щоб описати пляму крові розміром з людське тіло від тіла, яке носило убиту дитину у тій самій пологовій палаті.

Немає слів для заголовків CNN: «Україна звинувачує Росію у бомбардуванні пологового відділення у Маріуполі». Чи для заголовків Al Jazeera: «Україна звинувачує Росію у бомбардуванні дитячої лікарні у місті Маріуполь».

Як вам такий заголовок: «Сьогодні російські терористи розбомбили пологове відділення та дитячу лікарню у Маріуполі»? CNN і Al Jazeera, ви відчуваєте різницю?

Немає слів про замінування гуманітарних коридорів.

Немає слів про розстріл сім’ї з дітьми в Ірпіні, коли вони бігли до евакуаційного автобусу.

Немає слів для важко вагітної жінки, яку виносять на розтяжках і не дають можливості дотримуватися постільного режиму щоб дати життя новонародженому.

Новонародженому, який би бавився, гиготав, бігав, грався у квача, розфарбовував олівцями, ходив би до школи, вивчав і розказував вірші Шевченка.

Немає новонародженого, щоб народитися. Крапка.

Немає слів для дітей, які застрягли в руїнах міст.

Немає слів для терористів, окрім терористів.

Вони не заслуговують на слово «російська армія», бо вони терористи, які холоднокровно вбивають ненароджене життя.

Єдині слова, які я маю:

Жорстокість

Тероризм

Вбивці дітей

Бомбардувальники пологового відділення, які не мають нічого святого.

Ті, хто вбивають жінок з вагітними утробами, повними життя.

Смерть ворогу!

Сьогодні немає слів.

Можливо, вони повернуться завтра, але сьогодні немає слів.

Learning the language of war

Language is experience …
How do you name things without experience?
I do not have any language for war because I didn’t experience war.

I have language for education, for linguistics, for praying, for celebrating, for encouraging, for mentoring, for supporting
I have language for sourdough, for gardening, planting and harvesting, for loving and living, for cooking and fermenting.

I know the language of peace and not the language of war

Today was the day for learning the language of war

I learned it in Ukrainian by talking to my family in Cherkasy, Rivne, Kyiv, Vinnytsia.
I learned it in English by talking to the reporters

I’m bilingual in the language of war

“The Kyiv city sky lit up with explosions” Київське небо засяяло від вибухів
“My cousin enlisted as a volunteer in the Ukrainian Army” Мій двоюрідний брат пішом добровольцем в армію
“We heard rockets flying overhead but we didn’t recognize that sound” Ми чули як ракети пролетіли над головою і ми не впізнали того звуку
“Gasoline is being rationed, 20 liters to save the rest for the army” Бензин роздають по 20 літрів а решта для армії
“The stores are empty, no salt, no matches” У магазинах нема нічого, ні солі, ні сірників
“There are no bomb shelters in our village” У нашому селі немає бомбосховища
“The root cellar is damp and cold but it’s safe” У льоху холодно і мокро але безпечно

I wonder what language of war I will learn tomorrow

Miriam O’Neal has 3 collections of poetry, the most recent, The Half-Said Things is due out from Nixes Mate Books in April 2022. Her poems and reviews have appeared in the LA Review of Books, AGNI, Lily Poetry Review, The Galway Review and elsewhere. She lives in Plymouth, MA.

Imagine a Poem for Ukraine

All afternoon at my desk. Wailing wind rushing up the glass

squirrel guard squeaking, feeders rocking on the shepherd’s hook

seed spilled, words scrawled across thin paper, last year’s

fallen leaves still able to stumble on stirred air.

Imagine, if you will, a voice earnest as April intones

the tale, and I wonder, Can I imagine anymore? Can I hold

in my mind the woman’s blasted body in Mariupol—

her meat and bones pooled in red?

No. Not that. Maybe if I look again at the children’s faces

where they crowd the shelter floor—the little girl standing

on her chair, black sweater sparkling with 2 tinsel stars

while all around her stare up and listen to her song.

Hands open as in a blessing for the crowd, face raised

as if she sees bright winter stars. Eyes wide, voice sweet

and clear, she sways and sings from Frozen, “Let It Go,”

Vidpustit’,    vidpustit’— her audience agreeing.

She’s come across the world to me, a dove, a lamb,

spring’s promise pouring from her throat.

Against all odds, how can I not write hope?

How not imagine peace along with her?

Antonia Hildebrand’s first published short story appeared in Downs Images and in ‘Woman’s Day‘ Summer Reading’ and she has since been widely published in journals, magazines and anthologies in Australia as well as Britain and the USA and Ireland. She has reviewed books for the Toowoomba Chronicle newspaper. She has contributed to Radio National’s Bush Telegraph program. Many of her short stories have been broadcast by Queensland Storyteller on Radio 4RPH and by Radio 91.3FM Yeppoon. She is the author of eight books, ranging from biography, autobiography, essays, poetry, short fiction through to novels. Her latest novel, ‘The Darkened Room’ was published by Ginninderra Press in 2022. 

UKRAINE 

And I will take away the stony heart

Out of your flesh and I will give you

An heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:25-27

They have hearts of stone, these men.

These authoritarian killers

Sanctioned by state power

To murder entire families.

Like Stalin.

Like Hitler.

Like all of them.

A conga line of arseholes,

Stretching back to the cave age.

These old psychos send young men

Out to commit their crimes.

Young men who weep and want their mothers.

Conscripts who have been lied to.

Truth being the first casualty and all that.

But not the last.

Bodies strewn around the streets.

Unarmed civilians murdered so that,

Far away in the Kremlin one man can feel

That his life has not been in vain.

The corpses are his legacy.

The bombed buildings, his monuments.

Alone in early morning silence,

He remembers an inescapable fact:

Memento mori.

Others must die so that he can forget.

Ring the panic bell,

Ting-a-ling, ting-a-ling.

Turn a heaven into hell.

Dominic Windram is a personal tutor/poet from the North East of England. Currently, he is a regular contributor to October Hill Magazine and the Northern Cross: a Catholic newspaper that serves the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Over the past 5 years, he has been a resident poet on PNN (Progressive News Network) and has also performed his work via Zoom as a member of a group named: Poetry Without Borders.

War in Springtime

Wintry winds still blow

Through grey, hollowed out buildings.

Yet, green swells bleed through
Hard, dry skulls, because it’s springtime.
This year, She offers
A strained transcendence: now,
A shadow, of Her
Former, hallowed self. There are
Few glimmers of hope
It seems. The light is perhaps
A little kinder.
It might enter through
The cracks in swollen empires.
O who wants to be
Condemned by cold steel systems?!
Flesh pink and milk -white blossoms
Defy the constant
Shelling. and yet the bodies
Cannot be gathered
Up. Dogs are viciously pulling
Burnt corpses apart
On plagued city streets as though
They’re merely saplings….
Here, in England, it’s the hour
Of the hyacinth;
Of the lamb and the leveret.
Even in old bones,
The primal pith is stirred and
A deeper purpose
Is rekindled. Yet, over there,
Despair has taken
Hold of the sovereign soul. Thus,
For the victims of
War, there is no blithe season
Of blessed rebirth. How
Bitterly ironical?!

Alla Schwartz born in Ukraine Cherkassy in 1983, works as a High School teacher in Monroe Wisconsin. She has been a teacher for 12 years, first teaching English in Ukraine and after moving to the United States in 2014 she became a German teacher. She lives with her husband and her son who moved to the United States in 2015 but still has many relatives left back home including her father Anatolii. Alla is actively helping raise awareness about the war in Ukraine and hopes for a better future for her home country.

Dear World,

Let me introduce myself I am someone who was born and went to school in the Soviet Union Someone who’s great grandpa was a partisan and fought for his Motherland in the WWII Someone whose grandma told horror stories about Holodomor and starvation

Someone who grew up in Independent Ukraine and experienced Orange Revolution

and Maidan

Someone who tells her son stories about cossacks and chumaks before bed,

Someone whose friends and family live in Ukraine, Russia, Germany, America, Canada, Poland, Dubai, Denmark, Japan, etc.

Someone who has an American husband

Someone whose native language is Ukrainian, but she teaches German in American

schools speaking English and Spanish

Someone who woke up this morning to check on her father, who has been fighting

cancer for the last three years but is fighting against occupation of Ukraine the last three

days, who refused to flee to Poland and has been patrolling his town, his birthplace last

night

Someone whose goddaughter spent the night in the bomb shelter with her one-year-old

baby

Someone whose friend’s daughter was trying to leave Kyiv listening to the sounds of the missiles when Russia attacked

Someone who teaches compassion and empathy to her students on the example of

Holocaust and can’t believe that the history lesson is not learned

Someone who is thankful that her almost 18-year-old son is now sleeping peacefully in

neighbor room but not signing up for the Ukrainian military

Someone who refuses to believe the world’s words that “there is nothing we can do” –

you can’t do anything ONLY if you are dead, until you are alive and your heart is beating

there is always a way to help, maybe not an easy one, but there is

Someone whose heart and thoughts are in Ukraine but who is living in Wisconsin

Someone who hopes that the world will come together and finally realizes that we are

all humans and we all want the same things: love and peace for our family, friends and

home

Someone who can’t change the situation and stop the war but can ask you not to look

away, don’t pretend nothing is happening, don’t let aggression, power and hater destroy

the world, speak up, talk to your children about horrors of war, teach them kindness,

show them love, support Ukrainian people

Sincerely, just one more Someone

Heather Duff’s poetry appears in her chapter within Belliveau, G. & Lea, G., with M. Westwood (Eds.) Contact!Unload: Military Veterans, Trauma and Research-based Theatre (UBC Press, 2020).  Her poetry has also been published in Sameshima, P., Fidyk, A., James, K., & Leggo, C. (Eds.). Poetic inquiry: Enchantment of place (Vernon Press, 2017), and in literary journals such as Trek magazine, Descant, PRISM international, and Textual Studies in Canada. Heatherwas a finalist for The Malahat Review’s 2011 Long Poem Prize. Heather’s doctoral thesis incorporates a full-length play manuscript, with poetry, entitled Visiting Griffin. Heather’s stories have been published in literary journals such as The Fiddlehead, The Dalhousie Review, and Room of One’s Own. Heather Duff holds a Ph.D. (UBC, 2016), MFA in Creative Writing (UBC, 1986) and an M.Div. from McMaster University (1983). Heather is Artistic Director of Vancouver Youth Theatre, and she teaches at SFU’s Continuing Studies.

Chickadee

For Olga 

Crackle leaves, a windowsill:

this chickadee, lost himself

indoors, by Norfolk Island pine.

My neighbour, artist, mother,

reassures: “In the Ukraine,

a bird in the house is good luck!

“Turn off the lights, “she whispers.

“Give me a stool”.

Then, climbing, she stretches her hand,

to clasp that pocket bird,

carried to the door, and says,

“Bless that chickadee’s head”.

Then her hand, gently, opens,

and we stay, still, silent,

one fragile moment:

to watch that chickadee fly –

Upward, like a lost

and found, tiny kite

into free spaces.

Sara Burnett is the author of Seed Celestial, winner of the 2021 Autumn House Press Poetry Prize, forthcoming in fall 2022. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland, and a MA in English Literature from the University of Vermont. She lives in Maryland with her family. Her website is: www.sararburnett.com

You Go to Sleep in the Dark

You go to sleep in the dark, and strange too,

you wake in the dark.

Overnight, two story deep craters pockmarked the earth. But they were far from you.

Houses collapsed like toothpicks. But they were not your own.

Like the straw houses you read in fairytales to children. But they were someone else’s children.

In the morning, bodies are picked from under rubble.

In the morning, a man wakes for the first time without his wife and children.

Your grandparents saw this.
Your children may see this.

Such is the world we’ve allowed to go to seed.

In the morning, you wash strawberries bought in a plastic crate, spoon yogurt into bowls.

You should be glad for bowls to fill. But how can this be?

By chance you are here and not there.

By chance you hold your son in your arms alive.

You would be happier perhaps to think otherwise.

To write about buds breaking open is almost a crime, because it implies,

as Brecht wrote silence about so many horrors. But there they are—

flashes of yellow and purple pushing through snow!

A miracle not that anything is born, but that it survives.

Overnight, bulbs burst brighter than stars in the sky. But the city burning is not your city.

And the fires smoldering bear no memories to you.

You wake up to a war on TV and in the afternoon, you turn it off.

Now far. Now closer.

Now coming. Now near.

While you think of what to make for dinner,

a woman crosses a border with her children clinging to her.

It is the type of border you may never see: the type that reads

“this is your life with war and this is your life with war, after.”

How luxurious to look away. The hospital hulled. The school shelled.

Or to imagine that your lot to imagine has power, though it does.

It’s why poems are written, why people gather and sing, or march in lines

stretching across streets and borders or ladle soup into bowls to fill

empty stomachs, comfort crying children.

We sing in the dark of the dark because as Merwin wrote dark though it is.

You are a stranger to this day’s light if every morning

like the family huddled in a bomb shelter you do not give thanks

for having made it through the night.

You go to sleep in the dark and it is still dark when you wake.

You who rent this body, these ribs, this breath

so may your own voice grow hoarse.

Dayle V E McBride was born and raised in central Toronto and currently lives near Kingston, Ontario with her husband. She believes writing is the bridge that connects her family and her love of music and photography together; they all have a voice in her life. Her poem ‘Edges’ was inspired by recent news footage from a television broadcast from the Ukraine. 

Edges

There are edges to cliffs and shorelines exposing an endless sky and wider sea.

There are edges to mountain ranges and the border between countries;

Edges to blood, bone, muscle and tissue;

To knives and guns, bullets and bombs.

Edges run along the dark stained hoodie of a young man broken with grief, shaking.

He is bent over a tiny body he covets; a body covered in white; a sheet heavily splattered with blood.

The edge of the blood pool grows.

There are edges along body armour, gas masks and tanks;

To damaged buildings and homes that bleed out the abandoned possessions of those that lived there just hours earlier.

Edges follow the lines of twisted metal, splintered glass and spikes of rebar in the wake of this vile war.

Sharper than this are the edges along skin and hair, lips, eyes and teeth;

Of tears and laugh lines, of smiles and kisses and long embraces.

Moving well past those edges is something else, something that carries with it a visceral punch; Courage, defiance, fortitude, perseverance, hope and yes, love. Love is here too.

A hand, spotted with age, runs fingers along the edge of an old photograph, another survivor of the carnage – a field of sunflowers captured one summer years ago.

A younger self smiles back amidst rows of spectacular yellow flowers, tall and robust;

Reaching skyward, undaunted and resolute in everything they represent. 

Zev Torres, is a writer and spoken word performer whose poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line publications including NYC: From the Inside, The Rainbow Project, Otherwise Engaged, My Father Taught Me, Flora Fiction, Three Rooms Press’ Maintenant 15, Maintenant 12 and Maintenant 6, and Great Weather for Media’s Escape Wheel and Suitcase of Chrysanthemums. Since 2008, Zev has hosted Make Music New York’s annual Spoken Word Extravaganza and in 2010, founded the Skewered Syntax Poetry Crawls. In 2022, participated in POETS BUILDING BRIDGES: A Worldwide Triangulation Project for World Poetry Day.

The Disquieting Sky

We prayed,

We tithed,

We consecrated our hearts and souls,

Yet still,

Time warps,

Light bends,

And the clouds bleed

Dolorous runes.

When will we accept

That it is not my fault or yours

We cannot escape the intentions of

The disquieting sky,

That its portent will find us,

Loom over us,

Taunt us,

No matter where we hide.

Aberration

If only you had heard accolades in the silence,

Found contentment in the stillness,

Convinced yourself that a moment’s pleasure

Is neither an aberration,

Nor evidence of

Your malevolent nature.

If only you had,  

Before doubt and despair conspired

To bind you with fatigue,

Drain the remnants of your vitality,

Drag you along twisting rutted paths,

Through an oppressive wasteland,

Into the core of a barren wilderness,

Then launch you beyond the temporal perimeter,

Far past the reach of those of us who will never stop

Wondering, caring, or calling your name.

Jason Ryberg is the author of fourteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger,

OAC Books, 2021). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 

KISS Tattoo

Just as the

best plumber

can’t stop the

slow trickle

of time and

even the snow

can only keep

a secret for

so long, so too

will this poem’s

little battery

eventually die

and its quaint

novelty and

very presence

most likely fade

from this world

before the flavor

does from your

bubble-gum

or the rub-on

KISS tattoo

does from

your arm.

Any Given Night

I would wager

the single one dollar bill

and sixty-some-odd cents

I have in my pocket (or the

hundred and sixty-some

thousand dollars in gold coins

that I may or may not have 

buried in rusty mason jars

out in my backyard) that

there are few night skies

on any given night (above

any locale the world over)

as congested with stars as

the night skies of Kansas,

nor spaces as all-over wide-

open with as much wild blue

yonder and mountainous

cloud range above, nor

rising and falling backroads

through rolling, tumbling hills

of green below.

Maryna Teplova is a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Department of English at Illinois State University, with 22-year university-level ELT experience in Ukraine, at Dnipro National University; she presented at conferences and conducted professional development seminars for ELT teachers in Ukraine. Ms Teplova is Lela Winegarner Fellow (2020), alumna of the programs administered by the US Department of State: New York University (2007); California State University, Chico (2004). As Head of the Board at NGO New Vision (Dnipro, Ukraine), Maryna is also involved in civil society activity, in particular, debate and other educational projects implemented by NGO New Vision.

Mariupol’s Breath

What do you hear, right now?

Birds chirping,

Rejoicing at the first spring warmth?

Rapids on a mountain river

Overflowing with spring energy?

Or maybe you hear

Quiet spring evening in a village,

Bringing fresh smell of waking ground?

Or familiar sounds of taxis in the downtown?

Or the breath of the ocean

Washing the coast and gently caressing palm trees?

Now, what do you think they hear in Mariupol, Ukraine?

Birds?

River?

Taxis?

Gently rustling fields?

Or maybe they hear

cruel beats of bombs dropping on their heads?

Screeching and crashing of metal above their shelter?

Or maybe they hear

Moans and screams of children and women,

Some pregnant,

Stuck, pressed by the ruins

Injured by a thousand sharp needles

Bringing them ‘liberation’ from putler?

Or maybe they hear

the last whisper of prayer

Coming from the lips of the dying child?

Maybe they hear the sound of death itself?

Then what is life?

Is it always about this wall, this illusion

That separates and protects us from suffering of others?

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Her poems, articles, essays, and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Highland Park Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Spillwords, Verse Visual, Silver Birch, Ovunquesiamo, and othersShe’s a 2021 Pushcart nominee, Able Muse; received Best MicroFiction, Haunted Waters. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, is out from Finishing Line Press.

Call of the March Moon—2022 (in Northern Hemisphere)

Tonight

a full moon will call us

to spring’s sweeter days.

Clouds will determine how much of

moon

any one of us will see,

but I take comfort in

knowing

moon’s beauty shines here

even when I cannot see it,

and it is shining also in

Ukraine

where instead of bombs,

I pray, that

tonight

moon’s glorious silver

light

will herald peace.

Giving Ten Cents

When the Hungarians revolted in 1956,

I was in third grade.

Treasure Chest comics, delivered to

my Catholic school desk begged my help.

The comic cost ten cents—almost half

of my weekly allowance.

Its drawings of tanks, children running

touched my heart so, until their pleas

ceased, weekly I dropped my other dime

into a collection for freedom fighters,

along with my prayers. However, that

bread laid on roiled waters that did not

bear fruit until years later.

In my living room, today,

pictures of children, mothers fleeing,

racing toward Poland, scroll

across my television screen.

The sight freezing blood

spilt on spring snow,

and announcers call for help.

I sent money yesterday to Ukraine—

more than a dime.

My dollars and daily prayers seem

a thin bulwark against the force of

Russian tanks and missiles.

As the Bear rumbles out of

hibernation swallowing up lands not his,

swatting at freedom seekers, protesters,

he tries to crush all hope.

He is stronger now than in 1956.

I pray that the will, the bravery, the hope

of Ukraine, to resist, defeat the Bear

will be fulfilled—soon.

Patrice Boyer Claeys is a Chicago poet with four collections: Lovely Daughter of the Shattering (Kelsay, 2019), The Machinery of Grace (Kelsay, 2020), Honey from the Sun (with Gail Goepfert, Blurb, 2020), and the chapbook This Hard Business of Living (also with Goepfert, Seven Kitchens, 2021). Recent and upcoming work in The Adirondack Review, Lily Poetry Review, Gyroscope and The Night Heron Barks. She has been nominated for bothPushcart and Best of the Net and can be found at www.patriceboyerclaeys.com.

Cucumbers

Under the light

under the clouded night

all miraculous and alive

baton twirls

of twine rope

a blue trellis

put out buds of malachite, blossoms

of gold

become spears

of water

safely encased within

all shades of emerald.

Body armor removed

they look like

liquid flesh

iridescent, watery      

like rain.

Thirst & quench—

to be touched by some coolness

you must love what is raw.

Cento Sources:  Eisder Mosquera, Carl Adamshick, Philip Whalen, Fran Haraway, Meghan O’Rourke, Jonathan Thirkield, Jacob Polley, Mary Carlton, Fady Joudah, David Tomas Martinez, Mark Rudman, Pascale Petit, Anne Waldman, Tui Scanlan, Brenda Shaughnessy, Mark Doty, Willie Lee Kinard III, Mary Austin Speaker, Debra Kang Dean, January Gill O’Neil

Eggplant

Purple

nightshades

stout enough for

pleasure

languid, glossy

as jewels—

they are cut down and taken away

sliced deeply

stacked up like pelts.

Snap—sizzling about

how their edges crisp in the pan

to celebrate the joyous day

its bitterness, too.

Cento Sources:  Constance Enslow, Scott Greer, Alfred Kreymborg, Ronald Wallace, Alice Notley, Christian Wiman, James McMichael, Shelby Young, Jane Kenyon, Barbara Howes, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Aileen Fisher, Marci Nelligan

Issue 3-March 2022

—-Dedicated to the brave people of Ukraine

Ioana Cosma is a writer and lecturer at The University of Pitești in Romania. She has published four volumes of poetry: By the Book in Romania, In Aevo and The Psychogeography of Love  with Silver Bow Publishing, and With the Vagabonds with New Meridian Arts. Her chapbook, The Book of Stephen, is forthcoming with Dancing Girl Press in Chicago and her first novel, The Ones from Afar, will be published by Institutul European Press in Romania.

Ducks and Hunters

            Every evening, Melania returned from the small secondary school where she taught, in the small town of Loches in the French Loire. She lived temporarily with her relatives in the village of Chatenay Villedieu, fifty kilometers from work, and since she had no car, in the evening, after arriving at the train station, she had to cross the hill to her relatives’ house.

            She walked carefully, so as not to slip, it was something all the women in her family had, an excessive fear of slipping, falling on steps or any rather steep place. Ever since she had settled in France, she had admired the bucolic villages of the northwest, the neat and chic way in which the houses of somewhat modest size were built. She looked at the village of God, which lay quietly at her feet — people were probably getting ready for dinner, it was seven in the evening, and she knew that mealtimes were observed with acrimony there.

She was eager to taste the apero, her favorite drink, Kir Royal. The fact that she liked apero and foie gras did not necessarily mean that she had adapted, but she tried hard, although she felt a deafening hostility from her colleagues and the few other French people she had met, which she had never felt in Canada.

            The harvest moon, as that infused linden-moon was called there, had appeared in a pale-blue sky with pink clouds. Someone had told her that the rosy color was due to pollution, but she didn’t seem to believe that something so beautiful could be caused by something so harmful. The sky was like a plate of fine porcelain with painted scenes from the eighteenth century, with dukes and duchesses, hunters and Amazons. She felt safe under this pastel sky, not like that awful morning when she waited for the bus alone at the station and a stranger rushed toward her. Then he had run away. Now everything was calm and gentle, the village, so provincial as compared to Toronto, with its chimneys from which came out a white smoke like a, with the houses with chestnut wood blinds, with white or beige painted walls and black slate roofs. A slightly boring harmony, Melania thought, but she needed it at that moment.

            Suddenly, she heard a loud thunder-like noise and looked up at the sky. It was unchanged. It had to be something else. There was the same deafening noise again that gave her a sensation of disintegration. She looked at the edge of the forest where the terrible sound came from. Then again, boom, boom, boom, one after another, like in a war. She stood still, not knowing what to do. It was at the entrance to the village, near the edge of the forest. She felt the need to look up to the sky again, though she knew that was not where the noise came from. Instead, she saw a brown object fall toward where she was and stop on the grass, about five feet away. She hurried there, in the fading noise, and saw, lying in the sparse grass, a dead wild duck. With its long neck clenched in its fall and pain, the bird had its head bowed like a lamb for Easter and its orange paws clenched as if trying to hold on to an invisible beam. Melania touched the bird’s head lightly, stroked her immaculate white scalp, and then lay down beside her under the violet sky.

         She stood like that for a while, her head touching the forehead of the duck, then, as if in a transfiguration, she took off her raincoat and wrapped that small still body. The pattering had stopped, and she left for home unaware of this, feeling an emptiness in her stomach and cold shivers on her bare skin, as when she had been attacked in the bus station. It had occurred to her that the hunting season had begun, but she would have never thought that she would witness such a thing. She had always loved ducks; they had been her friends on the river as a child and in her grandparents’ country yard and on the lakes of Ontario. Her colleagues in Toronto had even given her a huge papier-mâché duck because she had said, at one point, as they were walking along a lake, sometimes, I wish I were a duck. Melania murmured, more to herself, I love you, and from that day on she never tasted meat again.

Kapka Nilan was born in Bulgaria and lives in the UK. She writes and translates flash fiction and poetry and has work published online and in print, including the Bath Flash Fiction Award Volume Three. She is the creator of www.flashzonebg.wordpress.com , a bilingual flash fiction and poetry website.

Sea or Sky 

Sea or sky, 

hungry grey dinosaurs, 

and a cloud pressed between them, 

young, naked, white, 

waiting to be gold plated,  

nobody’s child. 

Sea or sky 

will swallow it whole, 

no golden edges 

will remain,

there’s no permanence in beauty. 

I say don’t crave it,  

large or small, 

it would be no news, 

that things born get lost in impervious waves, 

that life oozes in the imperiousness  

of the present and only present, 

and is a small victory 

a mediocre existence even, 

harsh and hurried, 

balls of glitter with no glitter in the eye 

Sea or sky 

are befitting characters  

on this grey occasion 

Gabor G Gyukics, (b. 1958) Budapest born Hungarian-American poet (jazz-poet), translator, author of 11 books of poetry in five languages, 1 book of prose and 19 books of translations including A Transparent Lion, selected poetry of Attila József in English published in 2006 by Green Integer, an anthology of North American Indigenous poets in Hungarian published in 2015 and a brand new Contemporary Hungarian Poetry Anthology in English titled They’ll be Good for Seed published by White Pine Press in the fall of 2021. He was honored with the Hungarian Beat Poet Laureate Lifetime award in September 2020 by the National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc. based in Connecticut. He is writing poetry in English and Hungarian. He published his third jazz poetry CD in English with three Hungarian jazz musicians (Béla Ágoston, Viktor Bori, Csaba Pengő) in 2018. At present he is living in Hungary.

recognition of ennui

the wind is lost in my hair
and fell into my shadow
on the other side of the earth
in this invisible cold

questions lurk in my eyes
my organs slowly evaporating
their absence leaves a gap in the water
my face shows no killing intent
every wound heals on the trunks of unknown trees
the arches of the future disappear on their greenish branches

naked darkness multiplies my shoulders
my chest is a bed of miry leaves
frogs bathe in the pools of my footsteps
stories splash onto the shore’s sand
every part of my body is a hired message
my features are a lost smile
in clayey slush

pine needles- rain fail from the sky
no one cries for the wound of another
I carry an avalanche on my fingertips
earth grows wings on the sides of the mountains
and flies up to the stars that burden her body with life

the stones with our names
don’t belong to
aren’t magnetized by

any shadowy figures

the smoke of burning birch bark
colors my skin
makes my eyes water
tests the orifices of my skeleton
roots of clouds snake through my intestines

our innocence is based

on the forgotten dreams of the night

the roof of our silhouettes

overshadowed our decisions

the tree branches penetrated millions of parchments

our relationship might not be correlated to any behaviors

poem written under pressure/pleasure

The days of stolen hours

seem to fall short

during this unruly journey

dropping off assorted burdens at once,

full of our own private wanderings

dragging on

or stopping

only for bittersweet moments

off to the celestial

burials in the sky

above the tree line

thwart unnecessary obligations

no need for compulsory rules

no need to outline the circumference

or to be harsh

or relentless

but to step on the path

on a rocky dais

follow a shallow ravine

or dry crevice

inviting scavenger birds

to the charnel ground

to feed on cut up humans

whose souls have

already flown

to the sky

light incongruity

calibrate your expectations

before walking through

revolving doors

to see ashes choking

inflexible flames

erasing tainted rectangles

in the framed-up fireplace

in a clearing

to figure why porcupines

have quills before

someone else does by

pretending indifference

as if they were reading

to the waves of the nearby

remorseless stream which

very recently swallowed

a nefarious grinder

with bloody remains

of a pedantic misogynist

who left his bindlestiff

in the virgin mind of

a female pauper

in her death shack

along with a

removable third eye

that has never ever

been shut

Elline Lipkin’s first book, The Errant Thread, was selected by Eavan Boland for the Kore Press Book Award. Her second, Girls’ Studies, explores girlhood in the United States. A Research Scholar with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women, she teaches for Los Angeles Writing Workshops and recently served as Poet Laureate of Altadena.

I Think of the Lipsticks

lonely in a drawer,

magnetic caps clicked tight,

waiting to be pulled off.

Their cylinders coiled

as a snake asleep in a den,

ready to strike, a slingshot

loaded, needing to arc.

Oil, wax, and pigment

molded, then angled off,

silos of color, at attention,

soldieresque, ready to swipe

— mouth, towel, tissue, air.

I think of the lips, naked

beneath masks, dressed instead

in hammocks of print or

paper pleated surgical blue.

The expressions buried against

these screens, applied

to blot everything out. 

I think of the kisses, barred

from release, like inmates

touching through Plexiglass,

a grandparent wrapping a

shower curtain around a child

so the body is outlined and

traced in ridges.  The hands

powdery with gloves, capped

against touch, keeping warmth

from seeping through.

Black Honey, Viva Glam,

Russian Red, a taxonomy

of color and mood, stored,

stilled.  At the bottom

of each tube the bullet idles,

wanting to swivel, to ricochet out.

Shocking Pink

“Bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life giving, like all the lights and the birds and the fish in the world together…” — Elsa Schiaparelli

A bright slap,

swiped slice

embossing

lips bold.

Dial set to shock

so a woman’s words

are seen as they emerge.

The dress in the back

of the closet,

shoes teetering into themselves

in a corner.

Power, stuck,

at revving

and stalled.

Pulled out

when needed,

permission granted.

What does a dream,

volcano, do deferred?

Color encases,

enrobes, torches,

a spark

smouldering

at the edge

of what had been

snuffed out.

 Color of the Year

“Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure. The color Serenity is weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times.” — Pantone, 2016

Deadheaded, the bushes

barely line the drive.

Stalks and stems that once

tipped to blooms now point —

blunt, blatant, witchified

sticks, each a finger slashed

to rheumatoid grasp.

The pink, padded flesh gone,

macheted against the far blue.

We park by their side,

slump a little, try to wonder. 

In this stark decade,

will we have it, that U-turn

back to happiness?

Can that soft fullness

ever come back?

Anna Blasiak is a poet, writer, translator, journalist and literature co-ordinator of the European Literature Network. She has recently co-translated Renia’s Diary by Renia Spiegel and also published a bilingual poetry and photography book (with Lisa Kalloo) Kawiarnia przy St James’s Wrena w porze lunchu / Café by Wren’s St-James-in-the-Fields, Lunchtime, as well as a book-length interview with a Holocaust survivor Lili. Lili Stern-Pohlmann in conversation in Anna Blasiak.

Poem 1

HANSEL AND GRETEL

In my grandma’s version the witch fed Jaś-Hansel and Małgosia-Gretel chunks of chocolate-like product. That’s what we had instead of chocolate in the eighties. She also gave them some sugary oranżada, the one of explosive tendencies. Her house was not made of gingerbread but simple herbatniki biscuits, and was equipped with a small electric oven. She drove a straight-lined Fiat and smoked Mocne cigarettes.

But the woods she lived in were the same as always.

Poem 2

***


English is a
series of tracks,
series of traps.
Tricking. Me into tripping.

(S)mothering silence.

Poem 3

MOJE BOYE

I didn’t dress up as a boy.

I dressed up as a pirate,
as an interwar dandy
in my Grandfather’s hat and waistcoat,
with a long scarf turned into a tie.

Sometimes I wore a peasant’s shirt,
a baker’s white coat or
a prisoner’s stripes
(I even made a papier mâché ball and chain).

I never dressed up as a princess,
a housewife,
or a whore.

Poem 4

LIKE A MOVIE

A few dates, then his place, eventually. My gut was sending yellow flares of warning. I didn’t listen. I looked up when in bed. His friend was there, with a camera, filming us. Flight instinct took over. I quickly mapped my things: my bag, clothes, shoes, coat. I was out the door before they realised. I’ve never run so fast. Through the night, looking for a bus stop or tube station, my pocket vibrating heavily with his calls. These were followed with
voicemail
voicemail
voicemail.

The police said to change the number. The police were not interested in names, addresses. The police didn’t care that they were both psychologists, working for the local council.

Poem 5



Family holidays, a safe cocoon.
Sun is bright, sand whistles whitely,
water hums with salty blue.

In my family we go for walks along the beach.

I go for a walk along the beach
with my girlfriend.
We hold hands.

Like honey for bees we attract looks.
Nothing more, just looks.

Like rotting meat for flies.

Initial defiance and pride
quickly sour into something stifling.
That’s the taste of fear.

A man gets up from his beach towel and starts following us.

Norma DaCrema is a veteran high-school teacher of Religion and English at an independent girls’ school in Pennsylvania. A student in Arcadia’s low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing, she has published in The Lyric, Red Eft Review, The Night Heron Barks, and Wingless Dreamer. She lives in Rosemont with her son, four indoor cats and Bad Randy out back.

Tāʾ marbūṭa


I taught them a better way 

to curve the hand and wrist

and caress, not clench, al-qalam
–to let your line glide into the shape

of the slender neck of every letter
as though your own words in script
could summon the tones of the morning call.

To write well is itself a kind of prayer.

Mim, jim, lam-alif

–some letters have music

independent of the ear.

See how the sound is framed

in the breast of the phrase

where the root lies.

Knowledge is not at the root

of the pen–the beauty of the letters

stays separate from the science.

It spirals outward into sense

or inward into silence

lacing together

morpheme, phoneme, 

meaning…

Their Arabic was poor on the page.

But they did like to make the tāʾ marbūṭa,

the feminine ending, 

a surprised little face with tiny eyes, 

round mouth, petite nose.

“Oh my–a girl!” it seems to say

at the end of sadeeqa

a feminine friend,

or qessa, her story.

Keith Hoerner lives, teaches, and pushes words around in Southern Illinois. His work is no stranger to lit mags, appearing in decomP, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and Litro, UK—to  name just a few.

There Will be a Time When All Things Come to Their Sudden End.

In that said-same second
between
life and death,

a child is born to a
woman—
not quite ready.

Ribbons are awarded
to winners of the
McCarthy County Spelling Bee.

A bottle of bubbly is
popped
in Paris,

while a man in Colorado is
sentenced
to prison (though innocent of his crime).

The world contemplates,
realigns its incongruities
among a misaligned universe,

tentatively raises the shade on morning
and blows out the candle—
signaling night.

        The moon
    swings
low.

The second
between
life and death is an unending continuum,

one that does not decipher laughterfromtears
or as in this passage—
poetryfromprose.

Patrick Williamson is an English poet and translator. Recent poetry collections: Traversi (English-Italian, Samuele Editore, 2018), Beneficato (SE, 2015), Gifted (Corrupt Press, 2014). Recent work in Transference, Metamorphoses, The Tupelo Quarterly, The Black Bough, and The Fortnightly Review. Editor and translator of The Parley Tree, Poets from French-speaking Africa and the Arab World (Arc Publications, 2012). Founding member of transnational literary agency Linguafranca.

No Access

A Coca-Cola bottle top

clutters across the square

            you pace in circles lips pursed

frowning, kicking at the kerb

the whispers of late-night lovers

who pause

            blind to feeling the wind blows

until the world becomes dust

rail-track bells clang at midnight

            your thoughts spiral,

split and subdivide the ground

empty benches circle

the hushed bounds of malls

the reflection of a high-rise

in rainwater

that brilliance behind your gated door

            deserves to be spat on by a lover’s anger

all who desire to know you more.

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and (soon, three) children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.  

Jailbreak

My shadow walks

through the window.

My cohort strips, skinny

dipping at dawn

and I, a raised graverobber,

a jailbird jouncing

in stiped pajamas, am bird heist

October cageless.

A Field of Geese

I step toward the flock

and the geese begin to waddle away.

 I step into the field

and a hundred 

stir in disbelief. To them,

I am death, closing in

at leisure. To me, they are living

days starting slowly, picking up speed,

then lifting all at once into the flurry of flight.

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.)  In April, Red Hawk will publish his 20th collection, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021.

The Danger of Summer Picnics

                                    for Al Maginnes

Consider the extravagance of the man who tied his

Wrist to a horse’s tail as part of a marriage proposal.

He did this as, across the plains, a thunderstorm approached.

People still remember his gesture, but somehow forget her answer.

The horse was grey and spotted and the fastest in the county.

A four-month drought ended on that August day.

An Almost Forgotten Thing

Some forests are more shadows than trees

Think of Vasko Popa

Day after day he would go to the same corner

With his dented bucket of darkness

And drink all morning

His wooden ladle grew dark with years

At the bottom of the bucket

Were two tiny stars,

A copper coin, no longer in circulation,

And the single hair of a she-wolf

Once the bucket was empty

He wore the hair as a ring

Each night, he put the ring away

Before he turned down his covers

Poet and songwriter Paul Ilechko lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. He is the author of several chapbooks. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Feral Journal, K’in, Gargoyle Magazine, and Book of Matches. His first album, “Meeting Points”, was released in 2021.  

Firebreak Holds the Morning

I salvaged you today     held you

in my arms while between us the fire

burned     ripping down the valleys

and leaping breaks     rapidly engulfing

my bitter green profusion     the soft

white milk of your intensity     and ripples

formed across our river     growing larger    

growing fainter     till all that still

remained was the echo of a memory    

the cadence of an artery     the dissipation

of connection     the coldly visible steam

from our nostrils     dissolving within

the frozen timeline     that iced the blackened

stubble     still attempting to sell itself

as the miracle we saved from plunder.  

João Luís Barreto Guimarães was born in Porto, Portugal (1967) where he graduated in Medicine (Reconstructive Surgeon). He is the author of 11 poetry books since 1989, including his first 7 books in “Collected Poetry” (2011) and the subsequent “You Are Here” (2013), published in Italy, “Mediterranean” (2016) – National Award of Poetry António Ramos Rosa, published in Spain, France, Italy (Finalist of the International Camaiori Prize 2018), Poland, Egipt and Greece;  “Nomad” (2018) – Best Poetry Book Bertrand 2018 and Armando Silva Carvalho Poetry Award, published in Italy (also Finalist of the International Camaiori Prize 2019); the anthology “Time Advances by Syllables” (2019), published in Croacia, Macedónia and Brasil, and “Movement” (2020). The English translation of “Mediterranean”, by Calvin Olsen, won the Willow Run Poetry Award 2020 in the USA.

Calvin Olsen holds an MFA from Boston University and is currently a PhD student at NC State. His work has appeared in The Adroit JournalAGNI,The London MagazineThe Los Angeles Review, and The National Poetry Review, among many others. He is the recipient of a 2021 Travel Fellowship from The American Literary Translators Association, and his translation of João Luís Barreto Guimarães’s Mediterranean won the 2020 Willow Run Poetry Book Award and is forthcoming from Hidden River Arts. More of his work can be found at calvin-olsen.com.

Beer & Contrition

Some days: I dump them on my skin. God (or

something commissioned by Him) is certainly

behind this Sunday afternoon (summer is

slowly getting lost

in an immense labyrinth)

we brace ourselves for defeat one millimeter

at a time. Now and then

(more distracted) we are

technically happy –

breaking walnuts exactly in half (like neurosurgeons slicing meninges)

unrolling croissants in search of

the infinite. But

can you tell when

victory’s gotten a taste of defeat?

You never really win the war when

time is the enemy.

Cerveja & Remorsos

Os dias: deposito-os na pele. Deus (ou

qualquer coisa por Ele) está com certeza

por trás desta tarde de domingo (o

Verão chegando ao fim imenso

em seus labirintos)

acautelamos derrotas milímetro a

milímetro. Por vezes

(mais distraídos) somos

tecnicamente felizes –

abrindo nozes ao meio (quais cirurgiões das meninges)

desenrolando croissants à procura

do infinito. Mas

sabes quando sabe

a derrota apesar de ter vencido?

Não se vence por inteiro quando o

tempo é o inimigo.

Anatomy of beauty

for Jorge Sousa Braga

It would be a cat

in Venice. It certainly wouldn’t

get to St Mark’s by vaporetto (by Easter

the Doge would personally visit

the Benedictine

neophytes). But they run the alleys of the Cannaregio ghetto

where beauty is symmetry

and time:

permanence. One can lose everything in Venice

(a life a

friend the

last boat to Lido) but you can’t

lose beauty or so says this feline

who has ignited my soul

(more than a sip of Bellini

a glass of Bardolino) and

restored to me the certainty that the

perishable beauty was palpable

for once.

Anatomia do belo

ao Jorge Sousa Braga

Em Veneza

seria gato. Por certo não entraria

em San Marco de vaporetto (pela Páscoa

o doge vinha visitar pessoalmente

noviças

beneditinas). Mas são deles as ruelas do

gueto de Cannaregio onde o belo é simetria

e o tempo:

duração. Pode-se perder tudo em Veneza

(uma vida um

amigo o

último barco para o Lido) só não       

se perde a beleza que o diga este felino

que me incendiou a alma

(mais que um trago de Bellini

uma taça de Bardolino) e

me devolveu a certeza de que a

perecível beleza por uma vez

foi palpável.

Gradual Focus

There are so many things besides the asphalt

that lead to work (the

vestiges of voyages

the voice emanating from books) out there

beyond the blind rush of

every morning (that brief skirt of yours

the fire of being alive)

things beyond the

vile use of minor power:

there is

(for example)

the return trip.

Focagem gradual

Há tanta coisa para além do asfalto

que leva ao trabalho (o

que fica das viagens

a voz que vem dos livros) tanta

para lá da pressa cega de

cada manhã (essa tua saia breve

o incêndio de estar vivo)

coisas para além do

uso vil do pequeno poder:

(por exemplo)

o regresso.

Ioan Flora (1950–2005), author of fifteen books of poetry, among them Lecture on the Ostrich-Camel(1995), The Swedish Rabbit (1998), Medea and Her War Machines (2000), died days after his final book of poems, Luncheon Under the Grass, was published. Flora was born in Yugoslavia in the multilingual region of the Banat across the border from Romania and from the early 1990s until his untimely death, lived in Bucharest, where he had studied at the university. In 2011, Sorkin published Flora’s Medea and Her War Machines (UNO Press) and in 2012, a chapbook Flora’s work, The Flying Head (Toad Press).

Adam J. Sorkin has published sixty-five books of contemporary Romanian literature in English. His recent co-translations include, A Spider’s History of Love by Mircea Cărtărescu (New Meridian Arts), Lavinia and Her Daughters by Ioana Ieronim (Červená Barva Press), and The God’s Orbit by Aura Christi (Mica Press, UK), all published in 2020. He is the primary translator of Carmen Firan and Adrian Sângeorzan’s book of poems Quarantine Songs (New Meridian Arts, 2021).

Andreea Iulia Scridon is a Romanian-American writer and translator. Her translation of Ion D. Sîrbu’s series of short stories, a representative of subversive writing under the communist regime, is forthcoming in 2022 with ABPress. Her co-translations with Adam J. Sorkin of the Romanian poet Traian T. Coșovei are due out with Broken Sleep Books. Scridon’s chapbook of her own poetry is appearing with Broken Sleep Books in 2022, as is a poetry book with MadHat Press.

Raising the Scaffold

My hands are bloody. With all ten fingers

I crush thousands of caterpillars

that dared make the journey across the only grapevine trellis in the yard.

With the patience of a stylite, I pick off the moist, hairy pods

one by one, I stack them in my left palm,

grinding them with my right.

The greenish, doughy paste could now cover the exterior wall

of Voroneț Monastery, the one with The Last Judgment.

Last night’s storm knocked the caterpillars down from the mulberry trees

into the vine’s foliage, with its ruby-colored bunches of grapes.

I’ll scrub my hands with soap and water, with laundry detergent –

the raw green has forever permeated the subcutaneous mortar.

Last night’s storm, the millions of worms, the violent rain,

the grapes almost ripe, the bloody hands.

The anonymous painter sacrificing a thousand lives, at the very moment

of raising the scaffold.

Înălțarea schelei 

Am mâinile însângerate. Cu toate cele zece degete

strivesc miile de omizi

ce s-au abătut peste singurul lăstar din viță din curte. 

Cu răbdare de stâlpnic, culeg, una câte una, păstăile

moi și păroase, le stivuiesc în palma stângă,

măcinându-le cu dreapta. 

Pasta verzuie, dospită, ar pute acoperi până și peretele 

exterior al Voronețului, acela cu Judecata de Apoi

Furtuna de-aseară a strămutat îmi omizile din duzi în stufărișul 

de viță cu ciorchini rubinii.

Mă voi spăla pe mâini cu apă si cu săpun, cu detergent de rufe –

verdele crud a pătruns definitiv în mortarului subcutanat.

Furtuna de-aseară, milioanele de omizi, ploaia năprasnică, 

strugurii în pârg, mâinile însângerate. 

Zugrav anonim sacrificând o mie de vieți, în chiar clipa înălțării 

schelei. 

Just When I Was About to Put my Foot in the Door

I was tens of thousands of meters over the world’s axle.

I flew over desert or ocean, it’s all the same.

I drank only juice, gallons of nectar with ice

(time never ended)

we hurried, precipitously, to the privy.

We advanced with difficulty, centimeter by centimeter

and yet I very nearly (or so I told myself)

triumphantly conquered the redoubt.  

But it wasn’t meant to be, because when I was about to put

my foot in the door, just then, a pale guy

burst in out of nowhere

and bang! hit the mark.

In terms of staying, he stayed no more than half an hour,

time seemed an endless rut, and he, when

he twisted his face towards me,

was but a stunted and dried-out tree, scattering

through space mounds of pale leaves.

I was in a Boeing 404 and taking account of my small

and great sins from the past couple hundred years.

I didn’t want to appear too happy.

Tocmai când era să pun piciorul în prag 

Eram la zeci de mii de metri peste osia lumii. 

Survolat deșertul sau oceanul, totuna. 

Beam numai sucuri, tone de nectar cu gheață

(timpul nu se mai sfârșea)

ne-nghesuiam să ajungem, precipitați, la privată. 

Înaintam anevoie, centimetru cu centimetru 

și totuși, era cât pe-aci (așa mi-am zis)

să cuceresc triumfal reduta. 

Dar n-a fost să fie, căci tocmai când să pun 

piciorul în prag, tocmai atunci, unul gălbejit

a dat, de nicăieri, buzna 

și pac! la țintă.

De stat, n-a stat mai mult de-o jumătate de ceas, 

timpul părea o dâră fără de margini, iar el, când 

și-a răsucit chipul spre mine, 

el era simplu copac pipernicit și uscat, împrăștiind

prin spații mormane de frunze livide.

Eram într-un Boeing 404 și treceam în revistă micile,

marile mele păcate din ultimele câteva sute de ani. 

Aș fi vrut să nu par fericit. 

The Red Clover

I thought that had been it: from spring to autumn,

but it didn’t happen that way.

In terms of picking it, I gathered it around May, from Novaci, when the climb

of mountain herds begins and when we eat

lamb stew with mămăligă.

It was at this sort of party that I ended up with it in my hand,

in a plastic cup of light mountain soil,

covered by a heap of purple flowers, thin as the wind. 

It sloshed, it spoke, it swirled around in my arms, shyly pinched

by the cold outside air.

But why don’t they call it mountain clover, that would make sense,

I asked myself a day or two ago, why calf’s peony and not cat tail,

hero’s tassel and not grass’s sleep, why horse clover and not

wolf’s paw or trefoil or cheese dumplings?

Come February, you began to cut them down mercilessly, the body made up

of dozens and dozens of dried leaves, of a straw-yellow color,

fallen on their side over the lip of the plastic cup.

I was convinced that your work was useless, I thought later that

                                                                                     had been it,

but it didn’t happen that way.

Trifoi roșu 

Credeam că atâta i-a fost: din primăvară până-n toamnă,

dar nu s-a întâmplat așa.

De adus, l-am adus prin mai, de la Novaci, când începe 

suitul turmelor la munte și când se mănâncă 

tocanul de miel, cu mămăligă.

Tocmai la o asemenea petrecere m-am trezit cu el în brațe, 

într-un pahar de plastic cu pământ de munte afânat, 

acoperit de puzderia de flori purpurii, subțiri ca vântul. 

Se vălurea, vorbea, se vălurea în brațele mele, ciupit cu sfială

de aerul rece de afară. 

Dar de ce nu i-o fi zicând trifoi de munte, cum ar fi fost firesc, 

m-am întrebat deunăzi, de ce bujorul vițelului și nu coada mâței

ciucurul voinicului și nu iarba somnuluitrifoiul calului și nu 

talpa lupului sau ghizdei sau papanași?

Prin februarie, te-ai apucat să-i repezi, fără milă, trupul constând 

din zeci și zeci de foi uscate, de culoare galben-pai, căzute 

într-o rană peste buza paharului de plastic. 

Eram convins că faci munci inutile, credeam în continuare că atâta 

                                                                                                       i-a fost,

dar nu s-a întâmplat așa.

Miriam Calleja is a Maltese poet and translator. She writes in Maltese and English. Her poetry collections, Pomegranate Heart (EDE Books, 2015), and Inside Skin (EDE Books, 2016) have been described as ‘fresh’, ‘intimate’, and ‘sensual’. Her recent poetry collections are Stranger Intimacy (Stamparija Reljic, 2020) and the collaborative art book Luftmeer (2021) published in Holland. She has been published and translated in several poetry anthologies worldwide. Miriam has performed during the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival (2020/2021) and Schamrock Festival for Women Poets (Munich, 2020).

[untitled]

Translated from Maltese, from ‘Varjazzjonijiet tas-skiet’ by Nadia Mifsud

under this woven sky

a few scribbled lines

a few notes from a waltz

among the moments we’ve preserved, persist

your eyes

tasting of night sea

hold me

I’m about to slip

I’m about to slip

hold me

tasting of night sea

your eyes

among the moments we’ve preserved, persist

a few notes from a waltz

a few scribbled lines

under this woven sky

taħt sema rrakkmat

ftit versi mħażża

 ftit noti ta’ valz

 mill-waqtiet li faddalna fadal

  għajnejk

  togħma ta’ baħar skur

  żommni

   daqt niżloq

daqt niżloq

żommni

togħma ta’ baħar skur

għajnejk

mill-waqtiet li faddalna fadal

ftit noti ta’ valz

ftit versi mħażża

taħt sema rrakkmat

Issue 2-January 2022

Christina Marrocco is a poet and prose writer from the Chicago area. Her work has appeared in Ovunque Siamo, Silverbirch Press, the Laurel Review and other journals. Her voice often addresses working class, women’s, and immigration issues. 

Black Walnut Mouth

I had two Sicilian Grandfathers, and each held his first language

tight– somewhere between jaw and paunch, 

never said where. In that place it settled more astringent

than a black walnut, more bitter than chicory, blue enamel pot,

stewed past midnight and thick with the keeping.

Madone! or Mangi, Meno male, their mother-tongue held tight

by force of will, so tight, so tight, so tight, so tight and still

tingling mouth, zapping minds, 

careening synapses like

miners’ trucks gone    

almost off the rails.    

Watch how the squirrel floats up the fencepost as if pulled by string,

clutching bitter black walnuts to his chest.  He peels them in the night,  

leaves shards to stain the cement in front of my house. 

I want to know how those old men cracked their teeth in the night, 

dreamed in Sicilian, howled in Sicilian, loved my pale grandmothers in Sicilian.

When I hear fishmongers of Palermo,

When I hear wailing mosque-church-noise of Alcamo,

When I hear anything dark and ululating, I know

this is the reason I stand in line at the deli and ask for Mortadella 

with a bitter little twirl in my tongue. 

Rosalia Dechbery is a first-generation Italian American poet and educator.

“The Purple Forest”


My brother’s name should have been Jack,

or Charlie, a namesake of the misfit toy

who popped out of a box unexpectedly,

except, Frank surprised people by hiding. 

He had a frustrating habit of disappearing 

when we were kids. He liked to climb walls 

and hide in the doorways, or stuff himself

into small enclosures, the family Houdini. 

I would call his name and search nervously,

confident that I would eventually find him. 

If I was lucky, he would even let me play one

of the games he invented, a secret escape 

from the mundane outings we had no choice 

but to be dragged along on. Adventures made 

magical with his artistic visions that created 

new worlds to visit, hidden from everyone else. 

I remember he went missing in a department 

store on Knickerbocker Avenue. I kept calling 

his name. A small voice called back, find me,

his amusement, taunting like the Cheshire Cat. 

I finally found him, sitting with his legs crossed

in the middle of a clothing rack. He whispered

in delight, flourishing, Welcome to The Purple Forest, 

the little bit of Narnia he built for himself in Brooklyn.

Marzia Rahman is a fiction writer and translator based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her flashes have appeared in Star Literature, Arts and Letters, 101 Words, Postcard Shorts, Five of the Fifth, The Voices Project, Fewerthan500.com, Dribble Drabble Review, Paragraph Planet, Six Sentences and Writing Places Anthology UK. In 2018, her novella-in-flash ‘Life on the Edges’ has been longlisted for the Bath Novella in Flash Award Competition. She is currently working on a Novella in Flash.  

Hidden Photographs, Lost Memories

Is it true when we migrate, we lose a few people from our past? Is it a fact or a fiction that once you leave your home, a new life takes shape, erasing the memories of bygone days?

I sit on a faded couch in my mother’s living room, an old album in my hand. I flip through the pages. Watch life playing in flashback— a giggling child in her mother’s arms, a six-year-old girl with her very old grandmother, a teenage girl in a black jumpsuit, a young blushing bride in a red sari. A funeral. A special photo I have yet to put into the album.

I pretend father is still alive and these are not pictures but stories. Stories of happy days, stories of bad days. Stories of champagne glasses and dumb boyfriends, hidden in closets.

I return the album from where I found it. Years of memories safely stored in an attic!

Back to the city. I search the drawers. Not a single photograph. Only solitude wrapped in a pall of midnight.

Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, South Carolina Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.

“Would You Say the Shadows of

Fingers or the Shadow of Fingers?”

Trace hand with tongues of light.

Touch answers in philosophies of happiness.

I already said, as Jung,

examine the Shadow, but shadows?

There is a many muddling through this oneness.

I’d say brush the sky, this shirt, my cheek,

with fingertips of darkness.

I will tell you, let me tell you, let us

proclaim in the night-room calm:

there are words that welcome &

words that erase, words that push &

words that embrace.

I’d say each in its moment, &

you, what might you offer

in shadow, shadows,

fingers, contact, union?

“What the Hell Are West Virginians Doing This Weekend?”

                                                —Matthew Dickman, “All-American Poem ”               

We wait idle on the Interstate

watching cracked concrete stripped, replaced, smoothed over.

We’ve learned to savor going nowhere,

stalling to read the roadside memorial

as though a novel, were there words       

instead of yellow roses wilting in a.m. cold.

After a lane clears, we might walk

hand-in-hand along the Kanawha,

the Cheat, the Ohio, the New, collecting sunrise/sunset—

some pale blur of pink reflecting

like speckled cheeks in another painting by Renoir.

Jennifer Romanello received her MFA from Hofstra University and is currently a Lecturer in the MS in Publishing program at Pace University. She was previously VP, Director of Publicity at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. 

Dowry

Her name was Carmela Artusa,

C.A. the initials

she embroidered onto

her sheets, towels, and pillows.

The dowry her parents

bought with the money

they earned working the land,

hoping it would lead to a

prosperous marriage.

They spent days looking

for the perfect red thread that would

stand out against the white

linen fabric, thread woven

on a loom with gentle care.

(Red would also repel

the mal’occhio!)

Carmela’s mother showed

her how to embroider an A,

followed by a C, or a big C

with the A embroidered within it,

choices Carmela could make.

Carmela dreaming of her

wedding as she bent over,

stitch by stitch, wondering

what her husband’s name

might be.

Lydia Renfro holds an MFA from Adelphi University and is the recipient of the Donald Everett Axinn Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared in Litro USA, The Blue Nib, Witches Mag, Miletus International Literature Magazine, WordCity Monthly, and others. She is currently the fiction editor for The Blue Nib and lives in Colorado.

When the Soldier, Who is Also Brother in This Poem, Goes Away 

then I will not see him again for a long while,

and it will be just like the time I woke too late

for the drive to Lexington, lake-boat in tow and

fishing gear under the seat, sisters not welcome that day.

He goes, but then so do I, sometimes at once and

other times after or before, traveling ocean miles

and tea-zones, drinking time in all manner of cups,

and when we say goodbye it usually weighs soup-like on the

tongue, years of country living slipping off the rounded edges.

The term for us in our young-limb days was tow-headed,

also Crocket-inspired and brick-fireplace-nesters, with

book in hand always, my dears, book in hand always.

You must forgive the dashes—they do the job of

joining or separating, which is also the job of

middle children, left to our own buffers and concordats.

So what can I say to this one who is me, who is yet

stranger, gone to make his own nest in an unfamiliar field

forfeiting the relentless sky above our thicket country?

The phantom face I see always, illusive behind his

battle look, is soft with friendship and creek-memory.

Brother, I want you pretend-ready, not platoon-hard.

But I am thinking there are too many dashes now,

that it is time to end the lines and climb the stairs,

only you must not forget the snowbird you saw that day

and the poem you wrote, and the sorry you never

gave me, though it’s rightfully mine. And please

remember how our pillowcases matched and that

I would not tell on you but write to you instead.

They have flycatchers and thrushes where you are going—

I’m told they’re old-world but not unplained,

which is a prayer for the two of us, is it not? 

Send Lauds to me with the Fieldfare, if she   

can fly that far, and I promise I’ll return it,

lung deep and sweet with shining.

That is, until we walk together again in mountain mist,

That is, until we are aged with living and light with love.

                             For NJ

Some years ago, John Eliot submitted the poem Friday Night Song for an anthology. The publisher turned it down but said it ought to be published. Encouraged, John wrote with new energy and purpose and within a couple of years had enough for a collection. As luck would have it, he met a small publisher, a ‘boutique bibliophile’ imprint called Mosaïque Press, who decided on the strength of his work to start a series of poetry ‘chapbooks’. Since then he’s published four collections with Mosaïque : Ssh!Don’t GoTurn on the Dark, and Canzoni del Venerdì Sera, a translation of his work into Italian. John is now poetry editor for Mosaique Press and with Italian and Romanian universities is editing translation anthologies.

Marriage

She loves the Alhambra.

I prefer the altar piece.

Yes, the majesty of the architecture

Set in the sun of Granada

I can agree.

She turns away, as if in victory.

I sit in silence.

A Lamb that has so much to say.

Iris Dan, a former graduate of the Bucharest University, lives in Haifa, Israel, where she works as a translator. From the window of her Babel Tower, she sees the Mediterranean. She is a long-time member of the Voices Israel Community of Poets. She has published two poetry books and her poems appear regularly in the Voices Anthology and sometimes in online magazines.

THE LAST JUDGMENT

River I.

When their Messiah comes,

or comes again, or whatever,

when their dead

are risen from the graves –

I wonder if our dead

will be resurrected too.

In any case,

at their Last Judgment

we must have standing.

We must bear witness

how from the beginning

they harnessed us

to move their millstones

how they imprisoned us

in reservoirs

while, being rivers,

we yearned to flow;

how they boasted

with their clean energy

while killing us slowly

with perfumed chemicals

they use for washing their clothes,

with stinking industrial waste

they pour into our waters;

with their expired drugs,

no longer effective

but still poisonous;

how day after day

we vomited on our shores

the poor limp bodies of dead fish;

how for birds and beasts

no more clean water

was left to drink,

no more prey to feed on;

how the bears no longer

brought their young to swim;

no longer did we see them

strain and ripple with pleasure

as they relieved themselves;

how the plants died out

whose thirst we had quenched;

how we choked to death,

with poison and loneliness and shame.

River II.

If only I had the tongue

to tell the court

the names of the species that perished

in our waters, on our shores;

they won’t bother with individuals,

though I remember individuals too:

that shiny pike, that serious heron,

that bee who knew first

when the trees were in bloom…

I trust that He who created us

before creating them

will understand our language;

in perfect faith I trust

that in His heavy book

He has all the names;

that He has counted

every tear we rivers have shed;

that we will get justice;

or at least will be heard.

River III.

I would not put my trust

in this court; nor do I

recognize its competence.

Who if not He

has appointed a greedy

merciless kind

to do as it pleases?

Who has put them

in charge of the world?

It will be

a farce of a judgment –

like the laws they keep drafting

allegedly to protect us.

They will receive

a ridiculous penance

will pay a ridiculous fine

and go on as before

in the newly redeemed world.

And who will judge the judges?

Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Poetry Magazine Poetry Contest and placed third in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His chapbook, All the Songs Sung (Angel Flight Press), and his fourth poetry collection, The Broad Grin of Eternity (WordTech Editions) arrived in 2021. His poetry has been nominated twice for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta ReviewChiron ReviewThe Honest UlstermanIbbetson StreetThe Paterson Literary ReviewImpspired Magazine, and elsewhere.

Loneliness

The world is an empty dome with multitudes jammed

together on its periphery. They all know each other.

You don’t know any of them.

Your skin is stretched tight, a fleshy prison.

Siberia, the polar icecap, are tropical compared

to the gelid storm inside your chest.

Whatever you are is miniscule—

so tiny you could get lost navigating a grain of sand.

Margaret Kiernan is a 2021 Best of The Net Nominee for Creative Non-Fiction. She writes fiction, non-fiction essay, memoir, and poetry. She has had poetry and prose published, in hard back, in e-book, on-line. Literary Journals and magazines. She has multiple stories and poems in anthology collections and cultural publications, among which The Ekphrastic Review, The Blue Nib, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, etc.

Leaked ink in a Toby jug

Mr & Ms are Dead-

after Kathleen Jamie

They went their separate ways years before

bound by interference

the need to inflict pain

upon the fragile one

in five thousand years their dust

will remain apart.

One year to the day the undertaker returned

called for her

the end of days at the bungalow

for sale soon enough without the contents.

We began to unpack their rolled-up life, his room sparce hermit like

hers a treasure trove of the unused, like her love

wrapped tight.

The kitchen yielded chipped enamel dishes, drawers of cloths

trimmed with Belgian lace.

We smelled the paraffin oil bread oven, it seemed to leak

into their lives, into

varied needles held in rusty boxes, nestled near ceramic bed jars.

The ancient Underwood sat in the parlor, a relic from the Barracks. On the mantlepiece ancient Toby jugs held fountain pens; the ink leaked onto small boys’ hands when he entertained his grandsons, they charmed by a man who was their hero for all hours.

This space now his makeshift dayroom where he resides, daydreams of his former life, a police officer after a guerrilla fighter, awaits his burial day and the State Reveille bugle call.

Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler is a poet and translator best known for his work with co-translator Reilly Costigan-Humes on English renderings of novels by great contemporary Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan, including Voroshilovgrad, published by Deep Vellum, and The Orphanage, published by Yale University Press. Wheeler’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including the Big Windows Review, the Peacock Journal, and Sonic Boom. He holds an MA in Russian Translation from Columbia University and is currently earning another in English Secondary Education at CCNY. Wheeler’s first poetry collection, The Eleusinian Mysteries, is forthcoming from Aubade Publishing.

Third-Persona Poems [excerpt]

I have this one friend who can’t see anything

except her own drawings—or so she claimed

as she walked beside me through the woods, book open,

dodging oblong sketches of the trunks ahead.

I was skeptical; how exactly can a person depict a thing

without seeing it first? She said it was like everything

was molten, too hot to pour into her eye sockets,

but the strokes of her pencil made black molds

that yielded a visible world of lukewarm iron,

which she could inhabit comfortably—but pictures

are crude! What about vanishing points, hatching

to imitate volume, all the jerry-rigged techniques

artists use to flatten swarming clots of atoms to images

represented with the mere distribution of lead?

My friend shook her head with a forgiving sigh

and asked me when I last saw an atom.

***

Masha thinks all images are accurate.

Artists from previous eras never lied

and never faced technical limitations:

ancient commoners, simple as furrows

from ploughs or ruts from handcarts,

were literally composed of fewer lines

than their intricate stiff-limbed kings;

it really was only the man on the horse

who had any need for facial muscles,

and his troops managed fine as smears

of flesh tone with acclaiming eyes

and intermingling uniformed stumps;

the Soviet state had big red hands.

We used to be lovers, but when I held her,

the tenderness was tinged with fear

of what design she might conceive.

***

Joshua hurt me when I was a child,

so now he is a sprawling landscape

and I make him look down on it

from above—people had to learn that;

people didn’t always have maps

on the wall of Mrs. Snyder’s classroom

that showed the world spread out

on a plane as if viewed from on high—

seeing like that had to be invented

in parallel with charts, and ships, and empires.

So when Joshua sees himself so vast

that every hair is a jagged redwood

and every fold a flaccid dune,

and I put needles in his every surface,

I am hurting him with the kind of eyes

that have hurt entire continents.

Emma Lee’s publications include “The Significance of a Dress” (Arachne, 2020) and “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, 2015). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, 2015), was Reviews Editor for The Blue Nib, reviews for magazines and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

How did she become the woman who couldn’t win?

The athlete in home-made dresses stitched with shame,

one of three women from one country on the podium

nervous but proud at the World Championships,

yet backed by a record of firsts: her signature triple

axel. But everyone remembers the injured knee scandal.

Her mother pushed her on the ice, denied bathroom breaks

and told her to be a champion at four years old on battered skates;

rebellion always punished. She grew, married young and badly,

divorced too late. She forgot to take spare skate laces

into the Championships. She knew only discipline’s sticks,

not the carrot. Her asthma worsened, she failed

grace. Everyone remembers the wrong scandal.

Anna Terék was born in Bačka Topola, Vojvodina, (former) Yugoslavia in 1984. She works as a school psychologist in Budapest. Her first book of poems, Tear of Smile (Mosolyszakadás) was published in 2007, the second, Danube Street (Duna utca) in 2011, it won the Ervin Sinkó
Prize. Her first drama, Jelentkezzenek a legjobbak! (Neka se jave najbolji!) premiered in the Serbian National Theater. Her third collection Dead women (Halott nők) got the Géza Csáth Prize and the János Sziveri Prize in 2017. It was translated into Croatian, German and Polish. Her latest book was published in 2020 with the title Back on the Sun (Háttal a napnak), it was awarded the Milán Füst Prize the same year.

Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), Reviews Editor at The Ofi Press and Art Curator at One Hand Clapping. Recent publications include her collection Captain Fly’s Bucket List and four chapbooks with Moria
Books (USA). She won the National Poetry Day Competition in the UK.

On The Way To Magadan


I’m wondering how far one’s desires
can be from another’s.
Aren’t you interested, mister?
You just laugh, oblivious
to the distance to Magadan.



What if we had gone
anyway?
I would be watching the ice,
you’d be watching the endlessness,
this is how we would be mirrored
in flat-frozen Siberia.
Isn’t it how we exist?
I’m stock-still
and you seem to be infinite.


We would step on the ice
of Lake Baikal
so that we could listen
how it cracks.



We could’ve lived
a much happier life,
no matter how short.
It’s the most
hideous thing,
isn’t it?
You can’t tear or flake
yourself off,
you’ll still be attached
to this rotting world.


You’d be holding my hand,
I would kiss your mouth.
We could’ve coped
quite happily
without the world
around.


It was a short while, I spent it
on running away from you,
waiting, looking back:
would you catch up?


Your long legs
are difficult to overcome.
So is, mister, to look into
your light eyes.
While you walk down the street,
you draw the shadows
behind you.
All of them.


See, eventually
I took to you.
I was fighting but to no avail.
True, you’ve seen war, much of it,
you are aware
how many moves
a capitulation must consist of.



One can be extremely smart,
a sharp word shot towards a good cause
always hulls.


And you fired upon me, mister.
A whole volley,

a cheerfully singing fire-squad
was hidden in your chest.
Now I’m wearing lacy holes.


Here we are,
on the shore of Lake Baikal,
on the way to Magadan.
You’re watching me, inviting me
to join you,
and I don’t dare step on the ice.
It’s almost whistling
while cracking under you.



The pain you have to carry
can earn you your real weight.
Everything could be crashed
if we both stepped
on the crackling ice of Lake Baikal
hand in hand.



For months, you didn’t give me time,
and now, with a smile, you ask me
to step on the ice, you’re waiting for me.
Well, waiting, not for an eternity,
but I should step, you don’t mind how slow.


I could’ve told you
how I fancied you:
I liked your blond beard, the way
you went grey, how lean you were.
And how odd, a light, thin body
can leave such deep traces.

Drops of rain add up
in your footprints.
See, there’s mud and puddles
here, in my chest.
They say, a path is trodden in us
by many people.


I know it’s a long way to Magadan.
I’m breathless already.
Every dawn tries to break
my neck,
every night casts me off
and I keep skipping to avoid
the leaks of sharded time:
life is thin, even if we dance, mister,
finally every foot steps into ice-cold water,
and finds the way home.



I’m obstinate, watching you,
your face, your never-ending
laughter.
Hey, what’s the use of the heart
torn out of me?
What can you do with it at home?
Shred it with sharp knives?
Cut lacy holes in it
and put it in the window?
Or would it be lost
in the clutter of your searched-through flat
in-between scattered sheets of paper?


How beautiful. Right.
You know it’s fine like this.
At least an undetected piece of me
stays there
and accompanies you
wherever you go.



Út Magadanba

Vajon mekkora távolság van

két ember vágyai között,

nem érdekli, uram?

Csak nevet, mit tudja maga,

Magadan milyen messze van.

Tudja, ha mégis

elmentünk volna,

én a jeget nézném,

maga a végtelent,

így tükröződnénk

abban a simára fagyott

Szibériában.

Épp, ahogy vagyunk egyébként:

én mozdulatlan,

maga meg mint akinek

soha nincs vége.

Rálépnénk együtt

a Bajkál-tó jegére,

hogy hallgassuk,

hogy reped.

És élhettünk volna

ez a kevés idő alatt is

sokkal boldogabban.

És ez ebben ez

a legocsmányabb,

nem gondolja?

Hogy az ember nem tud

kiszakadni vagy leválni

erről a rothadó világról,

mindig benne marad.

Maga fogná a kezemet,

én csókolnám a száját,

és így egész boldogan

meglehettünk volna,

ha nincs körülöttünk

a világ.

Ez a kevés idő alatt is

maga elől futottam

és vártam, néztem hátra:

vajon utolér-e majd.

A maga hosszú lábait

nehéz legyőzni,

és épp ilyen nehéz nézni

a világos szemeit, uram.

Ahogy az utcán jár,

látni, hogy húzza

maga mögé mind

az árnyékokat.

Látja, végül mégiscsak

megszerettem magát.

Hiába harcoltam.

Igaz, sok háborút látott,

pontosan tudja,

hány mozdulatból kell állnia

egy kapitulációnak.

Az ember lehet bármilyen okos,

egy-egy jó cél felé kilőtt

éles szó mindig telibe talál.

És maga lőtt rám, uram.

Egész sortűz,

vidáman daloló kivégző osztag

bújt meg a mellkasában.

Én meg csipkésre lyukadtam.

Hát így állunk,

itt a Bajkál-tó szélén,

útban Magadanba.

Néz engem, hívogat, hogy menjek,

én meg nem merek rálépni a jégre.

Szinte fütyül, ahogy reped

maga alatt.

Az ember pont attól

nyeri el az igazi súlyát,

hogy hurcolni való

fájdalma van.

Talán tényleg,

ha kézen fogva rálépnénk ketten

a Bajkál repedő jegére,

minden összeroppanhatna.

Hónapokig nem adott időt nekem,

most meg mosolyogva mondja,

hogy lépjek a jégre, vár rám.

Na, nem fog a végtelenségig várni,

de lépjek, mindegy, milyen lassan.

Pedig elmondhattam volna,

milyen szépnek is látom magát:

tetszik a szőke szakálla,

ahogy őszül, ahogy sovány.

S milyen furcsa, hogy egy

könnyű, vékony test

mégis ilyen mély nyomokat hagyhat.

A talpa nyomában gyűlnek

az esőcseppek.

És látja, sár és tócsa van,

itt, a mellkasomban.

Azt mondják,

sokan taposnak ki bennünk

egy-egy utat.

Tudom, hosszú az út Magadanig.

És már most nem bírom szusszal.

A hajnalok mindennap

megpróbálják kitörni a nyakam,

kivet magából az éjszaka,

és ugrálva kerülgetem

a szilánkosra tört idő lékjeit:

vékony az élet, és hiába táncolunk,

végül minden láb jéghideg vízbe lép,

hazatalál, uram.

Makacsul nézem magát,

az arcát, ahogy folyton csak

nevet.

Mondja, mégis

mit csinál otthon azzal a

belőlem kitépett szívvel?

Éles késekkel csíkokra vagdalja?

Vagy csipkésre lyuggatja,

és az ablakba teszi?

Vagy a feltúrt lakásában

kallódik valahol,

szétszórt papírlapok között?

De szép ez, igen,

így jó ez, tudja maga.

Legalább marad ott

belőlem valami, amit

nem is vesz észre,

de elkíséri majd

mindenhova.

Richard Skinner has published four books of poems with Smokestack, the most recent of which is ‘Invisible Sun’ (2021). Some of these translations will appear in his next pamphlet, ‘Dream Into Play’, forthcoming from Poetry Salzburg. Richard is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy. He also runs a small press, Vanguard Editions, and is the current editor of 14 magazine.

Andrea Gibellini was born in Sassuolo, an industrial town surrounded by hills situated halfway between Modena and Bologna, where he still lives. He works in a bookshop. He has published many books of poems and his poems and writings on poetry have appeared in New Topics, Vieusseux Anthology, The Magazine of Books, Poetry, Oxford Poetry, Agenda and Poetry Review. He won the Premio Montale in 2001. 

Two poems by Richard Skinner, translated by Andrea Gibellini:

The Summer of Red Mercedes

Your chestnut hair flared in the sun, an oil

spill in the ocean.

Beta-amyloids flushed our spines, a mass of 

crill surfaced, pink-gold. 

Legs pinned back like wings, our bodies systems of 

pulleys and levers.

Your pubic bone lifted, a swan’s head, and after, we 

cleaved apart, like slate. 

L’estate della Mercedes rossa 

La tua chioma color castano brillava nel sole,

una striscia d’olio versata nell’oceano.

Beta-amiloidi incendiavano le nostre vertebre,

quindi emerse una massa di crill, rosa-d’oro.

Piegate all’indietro le gambe erano ali inchiodate,

il sistema dei nostri corpi in battere e in levare.

Il tuo osso pubico risollevato era la testa di un cigno,

nel dividerci tra noi, come ardesia.

Isola di San Michele, Venice

“to step on an island is to die…”

It took me an age to find you,

your final port of call

obscured by a turmoil of long grass and eucalyptus.

On the mossy slab, the words:

EZRA POVND.

Each glyph sharp as a knife,

cut to the bone. 

The sun beats, peacocks cry, 

pansies shrivel in the heat. 

Each of these cimiteri is like a Chinese character

legible only from the sky.   

Who reads them now?

Just the birds, who, passing over, break flight 

and drop like a stone to the ground. 

Isola di San Michele, Venezia

“calpestare un’isola è morire…”

Alla fine, anch’io, e quanto tempo per ritrovarti,

nel tuo ultimo porto oscurato

da un arabesco d’erba alta, da foglie d’eucalipti.

Incise le parole

sulla lastra muschiosa:

 EZRA POVND.

Ogni glifo incavato come coltello affilato,

tagliato all’osso.

I pavoni gridano, il sole percuote

le viole del pensiero

che nell’estate torrida sfioriscono.

Ogni cimitero è un ideogramma cinese

leggibile solo dal cielo.

E adesso chi li legge?

Spezzando il loro andare di passo

solo gli uccelli nel cadere a terra come pietra.

Two poems by Andrea Gibellini, translated by Richard Skinner:

Nel giardino 

Nel giardino davanti alla finestra 

qualcuno ha aperto l’acqua in

un momento di silenzio intatto.

Il rumore violento del trapano 

ha smesso di perforare la

parete di una casa.

La bufera ha scoperchiato 

alcuni tetti, ha divelto gli alberi.

Automezzi di soccorso, quando la

luce è tornata e il cielo è ritornato 

chiaro, hanno ripulito la strada da

rami, cartacce, tronchi. Alcuni alberi 

hanno distrutto macchine, altri 

si sono rovesciati all’indietro colpendo

vitigni, zone d’ombra. 

In the garden

In the garden, in front of the window,

someone has started watering

in a moment of undisturbed silence.

The grating noise of drilling

the wall of a house

has stopped. 

The storm has exposed

some roofs, uprooted trees.

When it becomes lighter,

and the sky has cleared, 

rescue vehicles clear the roads of

branches, litter, tree trunks. Some trees

have destroyed cars, others have rolled backwards 

into vines, areas of shadows. 

Ars poetica 

In questo giardino della mente 

io non voglio più dire niente.

È un disegno a china 

che stasera proprio non voglio fare 

mettere i nomi sopra le cose 

e per sempre dirgli addio.

Non è facile e si può fare 

ma nella mia poesia 

non voglio nessuna teologia.

La tentazione di inserire 

una casa un albero e un vento

seppure leggerissimo sul filo 

della corrente 

e una canoa di fogli usati 

e delle erbe non vere, gialle, violente 

come i girasoli che sempre cercavi. 

Ars poetica

In this garden of minds 

I don’t want to say anything anymore. 

It’s an ink drawing on which 

tonight I just don’t want to 

add names to things

and forever say goodbye. 

It is not easy and it can be done 

but in my poetry 

I don’t want any theology. 

The temptation to insert 

a house, a tree and a wind, 

albeit very light, on the edge 

of the current 

and a canoe of used sheets 

and untrue grasses, yellow, violent 

like the sunflowers you were always looking for.

Jacques Fux is a writer and mathematician. He is the author of Antiterapias (Scriptum, 2012), winner of the São Paulo Literary Award; Brochadas: confissões sexuais de um jovem escritor (Rocco, 2015) – Award Cidade de Belo Horizonte Award; Meshugá: um romance sobre a loucura (José Olympio, 2016) – Award Manaus; and Nobel (José Olympio, 2018). He is also the author of Literature and Mathematics: Jorge Luis Borges, Georges Perec e o OULIPO (Perspectiva, 2016). His work has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Hebrew. 

Elton Uliana is a Brazilian translator based in London. He has a master’s degree in Translation Studies from University College London (UCL), and a BA Hons. in English Literature from Birkbeck College, University of London.  He is the co-editor of the Brazilian Translation Club at UCL and member of the Portuguese-English Translators Association (PELTA). His published work includes short stories by Carla Bessa (Asymptote), Ana Maria Machado (Alchemy), Sérgio Tavares (Bengaluru Review, Qorpus) and Jacques Fux (Tablet), and forthcoming Portuguese translation of three plays by Howard Barker (Temporal), as well as a collection of poems by Rufo Quintavalle (Rascunho). 

The Mad Jew in the Garden of Species

    Shver tsu zayn a yid [It’s hard being a Jew]

              Sholem Aleichem

He thought that writing this book would be enjoyable. That the myths, beliefs and fallacies attributed to the mad Jew – meshuga – could be discussed light-heartedly. He envisaged demolishing these nonsensical arguments, creeds and theories through the use of irony. He expected the whole question of madness to be merely a game, but he was wrong.

He knew from the beginning that experiences could not be fully described in any particular way. That a novel could only emerge from the personal and unique perspective of each individual. He knew that in order to make each person’s fable exceptional and spectacular it would be necessary to seek new narrative forms. And that it was the task of a good writer to unveil the beauty and poetry behind these infinite stories and fictions. And so, he conceptualized a formal detachment from his own work in order to address these issues. He researched, scrutinized and sketched the life, fears and writings of each of the characters he created. He understood the loneliness and the repressed desire of his protagonists, as well as their suicides and searches, but he also manipulated and concealed them. And he thought that he could master his craft simply by being rational. From a distance. Without getting too involved. Just by playing with words. Sad illusion.

As the narrator started to devise and compose, he suddenly began to re-live his fears, uncertainties and insecurities. To remember vividly his most personal moments. And to become emotionally involvedwith his actors. And so, he went on, unhinged, gradually allowing his reason to retreat, and creating horrific monsters. His persistent nightmares became not only his, but everyone else’s. Whilst the torments, the suffering, and the self-hatred of others were entirely his. He was transformed into his own fictitious personalities. And he went mad with them.

(Originally published in: Fux, Jacques. Meshugá: um romance sobre a loucura [Meshuga: A Novel About Madness]. José Olimpo: Rio de Janeiro, 2016.)

Gabor G Gyukics, (b. 1958) Budapest born Hungarian-American poet (jazz-poet), translator, author of 11 books of poetry in five languages, 1 book of prose and 19 books of translations including A Transparent Lion, selected poetry of Attila József in English published in 2006 by Green Integer, an anthology of North American Indigenous poets in Hungarian published in 2015 and a brand new Contemporary Hungarian Poetry Anthology in English titled They’ll be Good for Seed published by White Pine Press in the fall of 2021. He was honored with the Hungarian Beat Poet Laureate Lifetime award in September 2020 by the National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc. based in Connecticut. He is writing poetry in English and Hungarian. He published his third jazz poetry CD in English with three Hungarian jazz musicians (Béla Ágoston, Viktor Bori, Csaba Pengő) in 2018. At present he is living in Hungary.

Károly Bari (b. 1952) is a poet of prodigious ability and precocious achievement who at the age of seventeen published a volume of poetry of such startling originality and power that he immediately established himself as a major figure in Hungarian literature. Bari’s poetry features arresting imagery, passionate intensity, and exotic evocations of Gypsy life. He is also a storyteller, translator, editor, painter, and folklorist. Author of over forty publications in different genres. He received most of the major Hungarian literary prizes.

Silence

Passing sketches of splendor,

leaves departing from the branches, aged grass,

what was is leaving and approaching,

seaweed tied in the gray bundle of the lake,

veiled basement wall,

table, glass, knife,

objects do not know the world,

a cavity filled with designations,

and the breath equal to absence,

which is

as if it wouldn’t exist,

as if it were lost

in the paws of prehistoric times,

as the prey of what not yet begun.

Autumn

My God, can you hear, what I say?

It’s me who is speaking,

I’m ready to take the road again

after many years of wandering,

trees that lost their leaves

wave farewell,

the meadows wounded

by the silver needles of

heavy rain

the colors

the furiously howling flowers

fighting with the seasons

all know about my preparation.

Leaving reality

that can be touched by human notions

won’t free me from existence

whisper the fallen leaves,

what is the gate of finitude?

Where am I to go?

Gypsy Row

The calmness deters from

the adobe knot’s hidden fire:

the fiddle carved from the rose tree ran away

death-black-haired women split open their faces for it,

they have burnt a star to the sky’s forehead

with their breasts chopped off

because of some unfaithful nights,

at the midnight hours dragons paved the song-red land

wind circled the snow-white shirts of clouds,

crows rumbled with flashy wings,

the moon grieved on the backs of roving horses,

rose tree carved fiddle, where have you gone

with the fleeting time, with your back-stabbed music,

in the windows candles nurse your return,

memories lashed by lanky wings linger on the streets;

those who choke their hearts into music

cannot be forgotten!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Csönd

Elmúlás vázlatai a ragyogásban,

ágaktól vált falevelek, megöregedett füvek,

távozik és közeleg, ami volt,

hínárok a tó szürke batyujába kötve,

lefátyolozott pincefal,

asztal, pohár, kés,

a tárgyak nem ismerik a világot,

a megnevezésekkel teleöntött üreget,

s a távolléttel egyenrangú lélegzetet,

amely olyan,

mintha nem lenne,

mintha ottveszett volna

előidők mancsai között,

a kezdetlenség zsákmányaként.

 

Ősz

Hallod-e, amit mondok, Istenem?

én beszélek,

sok évig tartó vándorlás után ismét útra készülök,

búcsúznak tőlem

a lombjukat vesztett fák,

a záporok ezüst szúrásaitól kisebesedett rétek,

a színek,

már tudnak készülődésemről

az évszakkal harcoló, vadul ordító virágok,

az emberi fogalmakkal megérinthető

valóság elhagyása

nem kiszabadulás a létezésből,

suttogják a lehullott levelek,

a végesség minek a kapuja?

hová indulok?

 Cigánysor

Vályogcsomók közt rejtező
tűztől visszaretten a nyugalom:
világgá ment a rózsafából faragott
hegedű, halál fekete hajú asszonyok
hasították meg érte arcukat,
hűtlen éjszakáikért levágott
mellükkel csillagot égettek
az ég homlokára, éjfélórában
sárkányok toporzékoltak
az éneklő piros vidéken,
szél hordozta a fellegeket
patyolat-ingeit, zúgtak
villámló szárnyakkal a varjak,
elbitangolt lovak hátán kesergett a hold
rózsafából faragott hegedű, elmúlással
hátba szúrt énekeiddel hova mentél?
putrik ablakaiban visszatérésed virrasztják
a gyertyák, nyurga szelek korbácsolják
emlékre a fákat: nem lehet elfelejteni,
ki dalba fullasztotta szívét!

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INAUGURAL ISSUE AUGUST 2021

Kenneth Pobo

IRON

Unfinished reading assignment: Men of Iron.
Why did men want to be made of iron?
Why not have a lavender spine,

be both soft and strong? The men did
irony things. I flunked a test on the plot,
played Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction,”

about feeling depressed and bad.
An iron man would buck up. I stumbled
through long division, went to

school more divided each day.
Pumpkins and turkeys.
Iron and bubbles.

OLD GUYS MAKING LOVE

We hear cats at the bedroom door,
let them in. A quiet night
can be ominous
or joyous. I’m not sure
which it is tonight—outside
feels distant, a muffled weather report.

So much to do. The house grows more
decrepit each year. The news,
an arsonist spilling gas
around our feet. For now,

wet bodies, clasped hands,
Purring.

Kenneth Pobo is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), Dindi Expecting Snow (Duck Lake Books), Wingbuds (cyberwit.net), and Uneven Steven (Assure Press).Opening is forthcoming from Rectos Y Versos Editions. He also writes short fiction and essays. For the past thirty-plus years he taught at Widener University and retired in 2020.

Nick DePaschal

LOCUS::MARRIAGE

A promissory note
For living. Cottonwood
Pollen sticks to her clothes,
Her hair, a debtor’s
Crown, the glue between
Two universes, two alternating
Currents powering all events.

SOME SONG

Some men hold light
In their hands like melons;
Some women hold light
In their bellies like song.

The light is prescient
And piercing, cleansing
And coherent, whole
And worthy though imperfect.

There is nothing holding us
Over the pit but ourselves.
And perhaps the light and love
Of the man for the woman

And vice versa.

Nick DePascal is the author of Before You Become Improbable (West End Press, 2014). He teaches at the University of New Mexico and Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Agnes Marton

GONE

I’d taught myself how to rule
the ceiling, how to hang,
how to hunt for roaches.

Bristles in breeze, no curfew.
Tramping free, fangs out,
until the kooky hours.

I’m called the King of the Roof.
Scaling slow death, which is life,
some respect is due. Yet,
my name could be simply Spider.

Time to time, a pretender
appears in the upper region,
puts my haul on the wall of
failures. “Surely a bludger,

a compulsive self-advocate
full of bullshit. Even his mum
ran away from the pantry,
sly.” Fact. The last one.

For Mother’s Day I’m weaving you
a propitiatory gift. It’s like
a seared shank of a ring
with the centre stone gone.

Spider silk is superior to spandex:
it can stretch much further
before losing shape.
Light, strong, full of protein.
First a liquid like spit. It hardens.
Not by exposure to air;
it’s drawn out.

Is there a name for the loss
held in place by the head?

There’s only one name I know well:
Oegoconia deauratella.

It’s the moth
I’m juggling with my palps.

ALMOST AN ESCAPE

I would elbow his ledges, it’s
almost an escape.
I can see the suspension bridges
from here.
I used to love the wobble
above the gorge.
I seemed to move forward.
To wear the moon on my nails
as a sign.
Whoever thought I was a hero
didn’t realise
there was a cable to keep me up.
There was some mumble,
almost a prayer.

How boring, the floor, the impeccable
parquetry. I feel like falling but
there should be something to jerk me back.
Like the safe word would pull up
cheekulino lovers. Like a dream in which
I’m stomped by a herd
and an unknown cat wakes me up
by kneading on my chest.
Like a scalding second in my ears
after the CPR of a player
though I never watch football.

Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), Reviews Editor at The Ofi Press and Art Curator at One Hand Clapping. Recent publications include her collection Captain Fly’s Bucket List and four chapbooks with Moria Books (USA). She won the National Poetry Day Competition in the UK.

Margaret R Sáraco

THE VENETIAN BLINDS

Venetian blinds
cover the picture
window expanse
the pull string tied
wrapped around
a decorative hook

Soil coats layers
of the curved
aluminum slats,
once bleach-scrubbed
wiped with rags
at first beige, 
now off-white

Middle slat
bent and yellowed
fingerprints
improbably
imprinted where
she looked
and sat
in darkness,
sometimes
in light

Before her end
she peered outward
daily
when outward was
without reach
and she, shut in.

Margaret R Sáraco’s poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Lips, Ovunque Siamo, Exit 13, Paterson Literary Review, Peregrine Journal, The Path: A Literary Magazine and Show us your Papers. Her poem, “The Unlocked Door,” received an Honorable Mention in the 2020, Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest. She recently completed a one-act play, “Catherine and Nina,” about a meeting between St. Catherine of Siena and a teenager in 1973.

Clara Burghelea

CABIN MEMORY IN THE ALASKAN WOODS

You and I are the gods of white, impervious to light and decay.
Each dawn, we horseshoe metaphors before we have them run
our veins, a pair of Rita and Rex German shepherds, chewing on
boar bones, ready to teeth the world, should the world chain us to
a fence, a thought, a line. At noon, we wolve for each other,
nibbling at hues of pink and purple, a sundog on each shoulder,
the purr of snow caressing our tongues, one heart muscle. Before
the moth-winged night bursts a thousand stars, fleshed-out poems
descend into the room, crashing through living tissues,
wordsmithing the air, an electric sizzle of grit and surrender alike.

WANTED


someone to unbutton the heavy coat of the day,
throw it loose on a chair, the bare flame of a thought

caught in the worn-out fabric. Unpack happenings,
before the grime of the hours thickens like habit,

March waiting outside, ready to cup its palms around
my breasts, breathing its mouth of rain and green

into my face. Except there is still a snow flurry
on the tips of the grass, a tug of hunger gnawing

at my inside and a throat full of uncertain tomorrows.
You say falling is for dreams, your arms are wide

enough to hold threaded light, tend to the sipping
wounds, roll out the frayed hems of the broken.

I am to just wait, let the world speak to me like
a good poem, before something settles.

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the Review Editor of Ezra, An Online Journal of Translation.

Daniel Moore

BACKYARD ORTHODOXY

Beneath the birdhouse
her skin became
a book of beaks
where hunger turned the pages.

As feathers fell
when the ground proclaimed
a need for softer things, like the wind,
the sugar inside

rose to dangerous levels,
which explained the reason
trembling looked
as if the blood had wings.

Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island.
His poems are forthcoming in The Chiron Review, The Bitter Oleander,
Plainsongs Magazine, Blue Mountain Review, Drunk Monkeys Magazine,
Nixes Mate Review, Lily Poetry Review and The Adirondack Review.
He is the author of ‘Boys’ (Duck Lake Books)
and “Waxing the Dents” (Brick Road Poetry Press)

Michael Steffen

THUNDER ROAD

Gripping the neck of his old mutt Fender, Bruce spins on my turntable—

“The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways”

In a low, breathy timber, he sings of a girl lost among the ruins
of all the guys she’s swayed with and spun away,
prom nights ended, car engines morphing into her private laughter.

He sings in the voice of a boy

for whom she’s the quintessential Jersey girl
and to whom he offers escape

from Camden, Freehold, Secaucus,
whatever malodorous ghost town they’re in.

Anthem, subtext

for manhood’s growl and gutsy chords. The moon,
filtered through industrial smog, spotlights her veranda, the only stage she knows.

“Like a vision she dances across the porch, as the radio plays”

Will she leave Jersey? Maybe.
Or maybe she’s scared, and the boy in this song is just a kid with a fast car, a make-

believe idol
of rusted fire escapes, burned-out garages, graffiti and boardwalk.

Stay or go—now there’s a crossroads

stuck between smokestacks
and the two lanes that can take them away.

We’ve all had that restless, 3am feeling
in front of the Quick Chek, thinking “Is this all there is?”

Somewhere out there is the future.
His car door beckons, “Mary, climb in.
It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win.”

Stay or go—
the sun shines on heroes and cowards alike.

MICHAEL STEFFEN’S fourth poetry collection, Blood Narrative, was recently published by Main Street Rag Press. New work has appeared in Chiron Review, Constellations and The Comstock Review. Michael is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives in Buffalo, NY.

Joanna Grant

TEARS

I cry like an old man now
perhaps for the same reasons
tears stanched through the seasons
buried out back in the dead of night
guilty, guilty, so many secrets given
to the earth that takes and takes
but finally sighs, finally says Enough
then all its will is bent, all the winds
all the weathers aimed at that old dirt
till each tear like so many rags clung
to the shanks of the poor piles of bones
in the unmarked grave start to push up, up, up
through the loosened topsoil, that tamped-down muck
no match, no match for the undammed waves of the past

Joanna Grant holds a Ph.D. in British and American literature, specializing in fictional as well as nonfiction travel narratives of the Middle East. She spent eight years in that region, notably two years in Afghanistan, teaching writing, mythology, and public speaking classes to American soldiers and gathering materials for her own memoir, which she is currently completing as part of an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Southern New Hampshire University under the direction of Mark Sundeen. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in journals including Guernica and Prairie Schooner.

Patricia Walsh

DISINHERITANCE TAX

Nothing to be confused about, a prize worth saving,
Development being arrested in a solid gaze,
Trusted into the slaughterhouse, gone like that
Reading between the pejorative lines quickly
The self-administrated poison gone to seed.

Not hungry in this town, or fumble in the dark,
The scarred jewellery betrays its further use
Caught in the administered chains forever
Some more broke than others, God to judge
Hidden charges under clothes into persuasion.

Restricted from celebration, selling the hubris
Recurrent fear goes forth like a fan
Gone like the perception that others never see
Catastrophic entitlements caught in its briars
Comfortable drinks over a hearty burn.

The sheltered sights, the barbaric weather,
Watching the detectives saunter past,
Honing a week’s work, nothing to report.
Just a deprivation of sorts, going down
To the pejorative drain of an honest career.

Rare carvings not knowing when to stop,
The enlightened called when still convenient
Nudged into conversation a barbed will
Head on the ground a diplomatic stare,
Watched like matchsticks, fizzle and burn.

Patricia Walsh was born in the parish of Mourneabbey, in north Co Cork,and educated at University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology in 2000. Her poetry has been published in Stony Thursday; Southword; Too Well Away Journal; New Wasteland Magazine; Quail Bell Magazine; The Poetry Collective; Quiver Review; Blazevox Magazine; and The Rational Creature. She has already published a chapbook, titled Continuity Errors in 2010, and a novel, The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014. She was the featured poet in the inaugural edition of Fishbowl Magazine, and a further novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina will be published in late 2021.

Gregg Shapiro

STIMULATED

The paper cut you get from the flap
of the envelope containing the stimulus
check goes deeper than any you have
ever experienced. Electrically charged,
it almost severs a nerve. There is so much

blood you have to look up the word cauterize
in a dictionary then search the internet
for how to do it. The wound is just another
access point for COVID-19 to enter and wreak
havoc before a single cent is spent or saved.

Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the expanded edition of his short story collection How to Whistle (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021). Publications include Exquisite Pandemic, RFD, Gargoyle, Mollyhouse, Impossible Archetype, and Dissonance Magazine, Moving Images: Poems Inspired by Film (Before Your Quiet Eyes Publishing, 2021), This Is What America Looks Like (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2021) and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology From Middle America (Belt Publishing, 2021). Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.

Michael Cocchiarale

HOW MANY WERE THERE? THE TIMES? 

At the wake, Luce admitted she’d splurged on a Read.  

Jules winced. “Don’t you think she—” 

“Relax. This is the sub-basic package. It only tells you random ways a person spent their time. Did you know Mom spent twenty-seven hours and sixteen minutes of her life picking turkey from carcasses for Thanksgiving soups?”  

Dad overheard. “When I die, you do a Read for all the time I spent pumping gas.”  

            Luce smiled. “For me, it’d be opening packages.”  

Jules said, “I’d like to remember Mom—” 

Once, there was this jar of Bolognese,” Dad said, heaving into a chair. “Your mother was going to chuck it, and I said, ‘Don’t be dumb—we paid 5.95 for this crap!’ I worked on the sucker until my palm turned red. Beat the lid with the handle of a knife. She begged to forget it, but I hauled ass back to that stupid store. ‘You do it!’ I told the manager. Two-three minutes he stands there twisting, straining—the full bathroom face!” 

Luce laughed. “Did you get your money back?” 

Near tears, Dad said, “Get this: the guy raises the jar and smashes it on the goddamn floor!” 

That night, sleepless, Jules downed a Dremexa—a secret, illicit splurge of her own. Darkness, stars, then Mom materialized at their old kitchen table, glasses off, studying a carcass. When Jules told Dad’s story, Mom mustered a smile and said, “Just one of the times he showed his love.”  

             Jules recalled pounding, screams, shattered plates. Once, a blade scowled the air. “How many were there? The times?” 

Mom spun the plate. “See what you can find on that side.”  

            Jules obeyed, driving a nail into flesh that clung to bone. Above—between them both— the clock hands read aloud each dense second until dawn. 

Michael Cocchiarale is the author of the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019) and two short story collections–Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018) and Still Time (Fomite, 2012). His recent work appears online in journals such as Fiction Kitchen BerlinFictive DreamSleet MagazineUnlikely Stories Mark V, and Ovunque Siamo. More information is available at his website: https://michaelcocchiarale.wordpress.com/

Joey Nicoletti

REVISITING 58 TEED STREET

The powerful pine
in between the scuffed, dented,
metallic, white garage door
has shrunk and faded,
like my favorite burnt orange
Spider-Man t-shirt
I wore at least once a week
during every gypsy-moth
caterpillar infested-summer
and every escalated parental argument
of my boyhood: my father
and mother’s fury
fueled by longing, bills, taxes,
an overabundance of overtime,
weed, wine, passion
and abuse by their parents,
two of whom lived with us;
a stop sign, leaning
on the chipped wooden torso
of a lamplight; today’s sun
strumming power lines:
playing chords in one
of the most sorrowful songs that
I am immeasurably grateful
I never, ever, have to sing again.

Joey Nicoletti’s most recent book is Fan Mail (Broadstone, 2021). He teaches at SUNY Buffalo State

Cortney Bledsoe

HAVING A BABY TO SAVE A MARRIAGE

I bought glasses to read poetry
in the bathroom, and now I can’t feel
my legs. A unicorn is in danger
in the living room, and I can’t hear
my ennui over its cries. Guilt
is my wife, now, and she has cold
feet in bed. There will be bacon and
eggs, muffins or pancakes, apple
slices, stores I can’t afford, running
in the sun, if we can find its face.
Let’s build a town for the kitchen mice
to live in. Let’s beat each other
with balloons until somebody starts
sulking. It’s not your fault two
people hoped they could love something
more than themselves. Afternoons,
you teach me math. Evenings, you read
me pretty lies. I’m alive two days
a week. Sometimes, three. The rest,
I’m waiting for my noise to come home.

Cortney Bledsoe was raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than twenty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, Trashcans in Love, Grief Bacon, and his newest, Driving Around, Looking in Other People’s Windows, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and the forthcoming The Saviors. Bledsoe co-writes the humor blog How to Even, with Michael Gushue located here: https://medium.com/@howtoeven His own blog, Not Another TV Dad, is located here: https://medium.com/@clbledsoe He’s been published in hundreds of journals, newspapers, and websites that you’ve probably never heard of. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Kirsten Meehan

SUBLIMATION

I.

There are shadows in Hiroshima which prove,
at the end of the world,
we return to 2 dimensions,

smudged sidewalk chalk
under summer rainfall.

Fingerprint streaks
without the databases.

II.

All matter can change states.
On my car window, my breath
sticks and clumps,
particles attracting more particles.

Something about atoms.
Something about vibrations.
I’m sure a scientist could tell you better,
but I am not a scientist.

I can only describe the results—
that, sometimes,
things which used to take up so much space
whisp away into nothing we can hold.

That’s just chemistry.
Just physics.

III.

In some museum,
I see human history stamped onto 3-dimensional objects.
Faded paint on an urn. Tarnished jewelry.
Worn-down handles of farming equipment.

On the wall, no shadows.

NECTARINES

At the height of everything, we are the fruit we bear
and I roll one, soft-skinned,
teetering on overripe,
in my hands, thighs burning
on the aching hot blacktop.

Brown grass twists like
capillaries through the cracks,
threatening blood like flushed cheeks.

Teeth break the skin, eyes fall shut.
You spill yourself like a glass of lemonade
and the sun bakes you into vapors
and leftover, sticky sweetness.

I handed you the pit like a secret,
told you to make a ring out of it.

Kirsten Meehan was born and raised in New York, growing up in the same house her father grew up in. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from SUNY Potsdam, and then worked in the publishing industry for a time after graduating. Currently, she is working towards her MFA in Poetry, as well as an MA in English.

Cameron Morse

The KRUPS

At a certain point,
my coffee filters began to
collapse, the grounds
a silt collected at the end
of each mug. Grime
in the mechanism made
me want to clean it out
in the sink. Afterwards,

the digital clock blinks on,
then off, then on again.
I borrow Mom’s old Mr. Coffee
from the furnace room,
wipe down its dust-coated
warming plate, toss out
a fossilized filter she forgot
was in there, dislocate
the carafe lid for the flatware
rack and wash also the glass
pot in the dishwasher. Finally,

however, the KRUPS re-
animates. All the irreparable
damage I imagined I did
doesn’t stop another sunrise
from erupting in the bedroom
window, breaking over each
successive failure another
chance to get it right
with the kids, stay married
to my anger, and gulp down
the hot unsweetened day
from my human mug.

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of six collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and two children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

Jane Ellen Glasser

Tabebuia Trees in Early Spring
a Year into a Pandemic

Yellow everywhere!
splashed so heavily upon limbs
petals crowd out leaves.

Mute as unspoken prayer,
their golden trumpets
drown out a dark year

of living in fear as shut-ins.
Now open the door
to your senses; walk outside.

Lose yourself in the gift
of a single tabebuia
transforming an entire street;

let the wind scatter
yesterday’s sorrows; listen
to a choir of birds

in black robes, all perched
facing east on a power line,
sing hallelujahs.

Jane Ellen Glasser’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, such as The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Georgia Review. In the past she served as the poetry critic for The Virginian-Pilot, poetry editor for the Ghent Quarterly and Lady Jane’s Miscellany, and co-founder of the nonprofit arts organization and journal New Virginia Review. She won the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for Light Persists (2006), and the Poetica Publishing Chapbook Contest for The Long Life (2011). Jane Ellen Glasser: Selected Poems(2019) and Staying Afloat during a Plague (2021) are her recent collections. To learn more about the poet and her work, visit http://www.janeellenglasser.com.

Michael Gushue

SCREEN KISS: CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF

A banquet—
jellied morsels
on the cusp of spoilage,
meats sweating fat,
a mute girl thrown into a cell
like refuse onto a midden.

Among pines and hemlocks,
a foundling, orphaned cub,
a rosary about the throat,
the feral necklace of history.

In the corbel above
the baptismal font
a beast’s face leered
into you like a mirror.

Past iron bars
the spilt world awaits.
Uprooted vineyards, ruins,
the heat that rises in each
man, every woman—vessels
burst by the surging moon.

My son, my wolf,
life was a cage.
A bullet cracked open
the prison of your chest.
What is saved
can also be destroyed.
I pulled the shroud
to your smeared mouth,
your doubled heart.

Michael Gushue is co-founder of the nanopress Poetry Mutual Press. His books are Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press), Conrad (Silver Spoon Press), Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey (Pretzelcoatl Press). He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.