“Why are my mangoes falling from the tree?” - Question sent to Miami Herald
A woman in little Havana asked me what fruit
I wanted my lover to be? I said, a mango.
I would peel him naked
in a bathtub let him run
all over me fill me with sugar,
I would find a hundred ways to bite him
Let his arms lift the saddest memory
from the middle of my stomach wash
my ancient heartache down the drain.
I wouldn’t be old me,
floating in pictures of the good
I don’t remember.
I wouldn’t be the me peeling away
from my life on cold tile outside the hospital room
hungry for my heart to stop. Stop.
Not me with my small body curled on the bathroom rug
begging for an earthquake to halt all that screaming.
I would be just the lover,
with tender skin and hair
that drowns his pillow and chest.
I would be all curves of flesh wide open love
speeding from my toes all the way to the hearts
of all my fingers.
He would be warm bread.
A drawer of letters waiting to be read,
a candle for the darkest
aorta patching my lungs with hot wax.
I would grow new knees
and hang my pain to dry.
A Saudi Arabian Man Gets Arrested For Traveling With His Pressure Cooker
May we always cook rice
showered with saffron
grains dancing in water,
and a prayer for good health
with a salad on the side.
May we be hungry
only mildly, bellies
sighing for a touch
of water to wet
its dry rug.
May we be loved
through terrible jokes,
hoping for nobody
to put our words
May it always be warm,
scouring around for beetles,
and the loudest noise be
our pressure cooker.
May we have vows,
and an ivory wedding dress,
not bottled with shame,
not forced or too covered,
just the right length to shade the night.
May we be told good
stories, sleep long
nights no sound
to stab the bones
of our dreams.
May we say our names
mouthfuls of honey
stretching our vowels outward,
pressing our tongues
against all mispronounced letters.
May we be proud
to call home, home,
and may we be innocent,
always be innocent.
The sea is never the same twice
Gaza gathers its waves,
ashamed of a dress so open,
not sure where to bury a hundred
children, broken jaws and toys,
ceilings falling on lovers like sleep,
old pictures feeding flame.
I don’t know how to feel about you, Gaza,
I cry in my sleep, wake up listless
tears falling inwards wetting
my heart. I think of my mother dying
over and over again, shielding bombs
from my face with her arms.
The sea is never the same twice,
everyday it gathers heavier ashes,
new kinds of missiles and diapers.
Did you know that tires don’t float,
and neither do bodies at the beginning of death?
After the story gets old, they resurface like children
after a crumbling game of hide and seek.
I don’t want to write more poems about you, Gaza,
I don’t want you singing in the street, ululating
your martyrs, half of them born without dreams,
wading through shit and bullets just to get bread.
Gaza, I want you to know
that dead people
do not free countries.
Tala Abu Rahmeh is a poet currently residing in Palestine.
This morning we’ll eat an American breakfast. We’ll
live with the sound of wings, use eggs white
as bald eagles. I’m up so early
you can hear blood pool
in the courtyard. I slice the neck. One
hand holds the feet, high
enough you can hear
the bird take
the air, fill it with another sky.
Michael Gray is the winner of a 2012 Associated Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Intro Journals Project Award and the 2013 Hot Street Emerging Writers Contest, was a finalist in the 2013 Concrete Wolf Poetry Chapbook Competition and The Lit Pub's 1st Annual Poetry Contest and nominated for Best New Poets 2014. His translations of Yau Ching appear in Shadow Beings (XXX Zines, 2014). Other work appears in Hot Street, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Poetry East West, Puerto del Sol, theNewerYork, and forthcoming in Fence and elsewhere.
The Old Cowboy
He ate a plucked peach
By the sycamore tree, with
Its soft texture,
Like armadillo fur
And the peach fuzz fizzled
In the sweet spring breeze
That was plumper and fuller
Than the peach could ever be
Swollen torrents in the cleft
Canyon cruel as a spider’s weft
All these things in the round
World, in the bite of a fruit
By the Mississippi.
Olivia Lewis runs a successful children's bookstore, dabbles in economics and ecology, and has long since fulfilled Claire Marie Davidson's requirement that we all must write, crumple up, and burn 200 bad poems before we can hope to produce anything worthwhile.She is relatively new to the world of publishing, but has been published in Black Heart Magazine under the alias Karen Olden and in the Lantern Literary and Arts Magazine.
Missed Connection as Lake Effect
You cannot grow yourself
so you prune what remains
for tinder. A month of winter
and you’re hooded and shifting.
To you the world smells as sweet
as a rotting leaf beneath a stump.
See the Midwest peel herself
down to lung and shadow,
Earth calling itself night
for those who cannot open
inside of this solstice. Here,
we rattle like downspouts
void of bolts and our breath
arches in frozen paths,
begging us to walk if only
we were made of air.
Ashton Kamburoff is a poet from Cleveland, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Kent State University, and is currently living in San Marcos, Texas. His poems have appeared in The Hartskill Review, Flyover Country Review, Luna Negra, and other literary journals.
the cosmic race
My father told me
we were of a cosmic race
though I never quite understood
just what he meant.
As a little girl,
I imagined that
I was born in the stars
like some great warrior,
Artemis or Ares
and that I fell from the sky
moon ash, sun flecks
still dancing on my skin.
I thought I was the cosmic goddess,
future of humanity.
I think it was prophesized
in a book once
A cosmic race (savior)
born in the heart of Tenochtitlan.
But no one paid attention
to those books anyways.
Besides someone told me
no great hero
could have ever been born in such a country.
Adriana N. Vazquez is a recent UC Berkeley graduate who is currently facing the post-grad slump of “the real world." She’s a reader, writer, avid music listener, and aspiring Italian speaker. Adriana studied Political Economy and Italian Studies during her 4 years at Cal, which resulted in a shiny, fancy piece of paper being handed to her in May of 2013. She spends most of her days reading, writing, and thinking about politics, economics, language, and literature.
The New World
After you dressed, pulled on your boots,
and left, I stood your black high heels
in front of the bookshelf, toes toward the bed,
such that if you stood there in them,
you’d see how I lie here and watch
the fresh echo of your eyes
your lips your neck… I took
your pearls and lay them for now in that drawer
where I keep what I trust you’ll come back for.
The pale-peach spray roses I’ve placed
with purple waxflowers in the decanter
for you amid the scatter of books
on the old oak chest, they open
and open, for now, not a petal
yet fallen. Out of my mouth
on my way down the hall to the bathroom
tumble the secret names I call you
when your head’s on my pillow. When I reach
the mirror, I ponder this face
you bless with your gaze out of somewhere
I guess our ancestors slept and slogged (those
nights and days of cabbage and beets and dark
bread in the cold hard-to-till stretches
our people scratched their lives out of). Now
we have shoe leather like satin, cashmere
soft as a kitten’s fur, artisanal
coffee, loam-dark chocolate, beignets
like nests of summer day’s air, all of it
floating our way, as if
we deserved it, as if our love asked
and our forebears bestowed it. Ours
for the taking, such pleasures—
in my brief stretch of aloneness
here, where hours ago, you were
my contraband and I yours, here
where our natures resonated and rose
in tremors that shook the fine architecture
our selves have composed, I cannot help
but wonder, do we amend
the tortures of our attendant ghosts,
or does our fulfillment offend? Our hosts,
who bowed and bowed in their ramshackle temples
appeasing the ever-invisible Lord
(who took his sweet centuries to deliver
his children to the New World), these,
bearers of our very desire
through all the shtetl’d wombs, do they see
how we look at each other? How
could they not bless us, who now inherit
their lust that gave us existence?
I do and I do not want them to witness
the next time you’re here. I’ll want you
again in those pearls some thin kids dove for
somewhere across the Pacific. I’ll want you
wrapped in your red shawl woven of wool
coats shorn from sheep left to shiver
on mountains we’ll never visit. I’ll want you
to taste the so-called-fair-trade chocolate
with migrant-plucked cherries in it I bought
for what I’ll call next to nothing, and watch
as you bite, your lips brought to a smile
I’ll want to bring my lips to, just
as the old, our lost conduits, kissed
the fringed ends of their prayer shawls
and touched those cloths to the scroll of the Law,
in what hopes? That love’s pleasure breathes
in a future they’d never see? I see
the shimmer of you, flushed, where you stood,
where I wish you to be, by the bed
in your high heels and pearls, and god, nothing else.
At the end of an endless 6th-grade day,
I’d stack Shelley’s books with mine under one
thin arm and carry them all the few blocks
to her row-house home, where we’d dance
close, in a sweet awkward trance
in her bedroom, to Dion and the Belmonts
maybe, palms on each other’s shoulders.
Early as junior high, I’d lug a Fender
amp from the trunk of my father’s car
into Adath Israel to play guitar
in my band for the Saturday dance party.
Two Barbaras and a Linda liked me
enough to saunter up close between sets—
they seemed to want to find ways to touch me.
Weekend nights in high school, I’d carry
my parents’ hi-fi upstairs to my room
so Jolynn and I could lie on the bed
and listen to Tim Buckley. It helped her
love me. Later I hauled Holly’s bike
the two flights up to our Cambridge place after
a Saturday ride round the Mystic Lakes.
Then she lay with me. With others, it went on
from there. After the wedding, I did carry
my wife’s whole body in through our daylight
basement apartment doorway. It wasn’t long
after, when in her mounded belly
she carried our kids, I hauled ass
gig to gig to make money, and soon
hoisted our young, one by one,
onto my shoulders to ride out
in the world on that lofty perch. I pulled
the kayak in and out of the salt
and the fresh water I drove us to
to offer every one of my loved ones
the wonder of a thrashing bright fish.
I wore the mantle of mean angry father
when someone had to be firm with the kids.
I wore the rucksack of guilt when I walked
at last out the door, failing to uphold
the promise I’d lived for. I carried
the mortgage for several years after, along
with tuition, insurance… I bore
the stone of atonement, letting it rest
in the bottom of the bone basket my chest,
in hopes I’d stumble at last on a shore
where the dense mass of remorse would ask
to be poured out over the sand. I wanted
to last that long, to remember
the lightness of having done nothing wrong.
What land is this? Is there a breeze
off the sea? I pick up a sour-sweet
whiff of kelp rot. But here I am
in the same city as ever, the ever-
uneasy metropolis of the heart,
where each of us must carry at least
the body we’re given, trudging
the streets in the snow of the pollen of hope
for love, where you and I meet
and you ask me to heft the musty black box,
your ancient accordion’s hard leather case.
I take it into my arms like the new
child we make. I cradle it
into the lift, and we rise, weightless.
Jed Myers is a Philadelphian living in Seattle. Two of his poetry collections, The Nameless (Finishing Line Press) and Watching the Perseids (winner of the 2013 Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), are being released in 2014. He won the 2012 Mary C. Mohr Editors’ Award offered by Southern Indiana Review, and received the 2013 Literal Latte Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Nimrod International Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Fugue, South 85, Atlanta Review, I-70 Review, Sanskrit, Assisi, The Tusculum Review, and elsewhere.
To me, not peace, but a sword
and the hollow ring of 30 pieces:
I could not, with all my sorrow-tears,
fill the Cup of Repentance.
Blood-sacrifice still patterns all lintels,
vestments, and guilty hands accusatory;
the old signs are scored in our substance,
too deep to alter or destroy.
Echoes forward and back in time
insinuate an insidious rhyme,
of death in life, life in death,
and all too faint for sense, and sad.
Shade by shade, I followed doubt into shadow,
‘til the narrow length of day that led me in
had frayed itself to an early-broken end,
and left me grasping.
Matthew Barber is a poet and photographer, who resides in western Pennsylvania. His photography can be seen at
Elizabeth of Thuringia
What thorn king luster claimed him,
what desert death? Driving blind
through midnight, what it must
have been, the light that found him
fevered. God is in the east, his holy fire
fierce red gold. Lilies mottle your skirt,
these terraces, these limousines, a straight-
back chair they’ll fold once you retreat,
regal in your pallor, your stifled grief.
How you’ll flinch tonight, under the strap.
God the Father, in his garden of blood.
Even a widow kneels. Grace comes thus
humbly, thin as winter milk, not the world
but an everlasting want. It is your soul
that hungers: bungled, stubborn, the body
bled to ash. A prayer flag. A paper cross.
Diane Unterweger teaches composition at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her poetry has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Sugar House Review, and Naugatuck River Review, among others.
I dined at the supper table,
with men who wore their skin
ruddy and burnt like the peel
of a blood orange.
The first man had a Muscogee drawl,
husky like mason jar syrup.
The second man spoke in slang
from Northern Custer County,
a voice for radio commercials
about tractors and red potatoes.
They talked about the act of camping—
blood drunk Culiseta mosquitoes in lust
cowboy’s coffee brewed over
a fire and brimstone hearth.
They camped with their first wives.
now they watched their current wives
fix them coffee and pie in the kitchenette.
One said to me: that pie
is my favorite you hear, my favorite.
He drank his coffee midnight,
to know the beans by taste.
It reminded him of the pure Earth.
The other drank with cream,
his wife doctored his cup for him.
I was sent this here woman, he said.
They talked about the scent of war—
how the last day of boot camp
was the last spark before manhood,
how nothing could prepare them
for the arteries of barbed wire foxholes
carved into the backcloths of Kapyang.
They spoke warmly on Jesus,
like they knew him during his
stint of miraculous acts.
How they prayed for him,
for their beak-nosed pastors,
for the blue Christmas-time eyes
of the young adult girls choir
as white phosphorous
rained above those very same foxholes.
One of Lutheran, the other Baptist
now they are neither.
And until the evening was just whispers
they kept up about camping—
where they learned the secret truths
of the world in shrouded forests,
that people like me
will only ever dream about.
Michael Dominic Tesauro is the Tabula Poetica Graduate Assistant at Chapman University, where he is an MFA/MA candidate. He is a fiction editor for Tin Cannon Literary Magazine. His work has been published in Wilderness House Review, Carnival Literary Magazine, Inlandia Journal, amongst others.
The word came into English from the Hindustani words "kheer aur shakkar,"
literally meaning "rice pudding and sugar," from the resemblance of its
smooth and rough stripes to the textures of milk and sugar.
It seems so obvious now, knowing
the translation: the crumpled bumps
like grainy mounds of sugar, smooth
rivulets of cream creeping between.
Its slow weave, the threads wound
lazily onto two warp beams.
The stripes staying always ongrain
in that slow, slack-tension weave.
And wearing it, one feels slow, feels
the milkiness—the creamy thighs
sliding loose inside summer suits, the pale
white skin hiding just under the collar.
Sweat peeps out, glitters under straw hats,
puckers sun-soaked skin like lemon
on the lips. Sweetness drips from tongues
in dewy voices, laden with white lies.
Jessica Temple earned her BA from the University of Alabama and her MA from Mississippi State University. She is currently a PhD student at Georgia State University, where she works for the syndicated poetry college radio show melodically challenged and reads for Five Points. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Negative Capability Press's Georgia anthology, Loose Change Magazine, Red Clay Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, and decomP magazinE. Her chapbook, "Seamless and Other Legends," is available from Finishing Line Press.
Finding Holly Springs, 1954
I shuffle down the road, a trail
of dust weaving among weedy
dandelions, small knots of white:
Autumn's hand-me-downs from summer.
I walk this road to Holly Springs,
where I am told to find good work
at the diner or gas station.
But a job there I'll find.
When I come to the quiet town,
not a door is open, no face
peers, no children play. All is still.
It is night. Moon rises. Stars move.
And I settle down on a bench
by the court house. A long sleep comes.
I dream of hope. The sun rises.
Morning. When I wake silence falls.
I am surrounded by the townsfolk:
children not in school stare wide-eyed,
women leaving laundry airing,
and men taking early smoke breaks.
I sit up, turn to a lady,
“I need a job. I need to work.”
She laughs and says, “Come on, girl.”
Two weeks pass. While filling a cup
of coffee for a late-night traveler
I sit down with him for a while.
He tells a story. I listen.
A year ago he had a wife.
A year ago they lived in Jackson.
Laura Anne Heller lives near Jackson, Mississippi, works as a public librarian and archivist, and writes from her Mississippi and Kentucky roots. She prefers the persona poem, allowing older voices to tell stories from Southern history and culture. She has poems included in the Mongrel Empire Press anthology "Ain't Nobody That Can Sing Like Me: New Oklahoma Writing (2010)," and a published book, "Lexington Lives: Poems for Those Who Lived & Died in Lexington, Kentucky, 1800s-1900s" (2013). The poem, "Finding Holly Springs..." is part of a larger unpublished collection of poems, entitled "Rise When the Rooster Crows."
I bet we would fly away like thousands
of amelias if we could
just loosen these bonnets and scatter our lovely
ancient bones over someone else’s grave before the wishes
expire and who could blame us and did you know that
all the kansan girls have been choked
they are all born with a bible belt wrapped around their
necks and my god she’s calling the cross a “necklace” now
and oh my lord what were they thinking letting that child leave
the house like that have they no shame these girls they ain’t got
no respect but near their folk's little house prayers are growing
like weeds in the ditches wildly discarded like empty
beer cans the marlboro boyfriends chuck out of chevy pickup
trucks as they drink and chuck and drink and smoke along
those little dirty roads leading straight to nowhere in
no place and we still let the wind pull our hair out
the window pilot our hand through the current bare toes propped
on the dashboard closed eyes humming to the radio static
but can you blame us and did you know that
all the kansan girls have cut their lips on the prairie
grasses blowing their vertical harmonica whistles while they walk
barefooted soles like leather treading and we have baked mud
pie in the sun and hunted the crickets and street cats and lightning
bugs and I’ve never tasted opossum but we are all the same but some are
shy some insane we take our secrets to the grave or the chapel or hang them
from telephone wires let them sing like wind chimes sing like
gospel like marvelous gray ghosts and my pigtails would never lay flat back then
refused to touch the skin that didn’t quite blend in a germanic town in the heart-
land so I never learned to do-si-do, but I could shuck the shit
out of any sunflower, rip it to bits, eat it
like a bird, spit the shells onto either coastline
if I wanted to and I never wanted to breathe
like this none of us choose to breathe like this sighing in reverse preparing
for the worst but can you blame us and did you know that
this actually happens and this could have happened to you
and all kansan girls have seen the sky turn green and heard the thunder
echoing (it’s echoing!) and we know the weariness of neighbors as they poke
onto porches waiting and waiting and we have heard the sirens and the warnings
and raced into the center of the streets wearing nothing
but cutoff shorts and ripped up shirts just to watch the sky start spinning
(it’s spinning!) and we all have drowned in the ocean of the moonlight
coughing up our wishes up our childhood up our days
and we still think these bruises look pretty
and we still toss hair clippings over the lawn
and we are still stubborn and eager and feisty and fragile
and we are still the rustic colors of american beautiful
and we are still here on a front yard sofa popping
off the ends of green beans for supper and we are so tired and there we go
dreaming ourselves to death but sometimes we still think of flying off
the coastline like amelia did and can you blame us kansan girls
this could have happened to anyone and this could have happened to you
Sea Sharp is a Creative Writing and Literature graduate of Kansas State University with forthcoming work published in Storm Cellar and recently appearing in Flyover Country Review and NEAT. Sharp is a Great British resident and a vegan who enjoys “sensible amounts” of scotch and dancing with a hula hoop.
A French Mosquito Defends Itself
It is not easy always to speak with your race,
you of the mountainous body, you do not
always pay attention to such small things as us.
But you should, mon ami, you should. We have lived
millions and millions of years, we have been found
preserved in zee amber from a time unthinkably
before yours. And you will not find a way
to exterminate us anytime soon with your stupid
fog blowing trucks and chemicals with zee Latin
names that hurt you more than zey do us.
You speak of us as biting, attacking you.
Zeese are all zee wrong words, mon ami. It is only
the female of our species, such as myself, who drink
your blood. Like your vampire we must have a blood
meal every now and zen, but only to make zee eggs,
zee blood is necessary for zee protein of zee eggs, oui?
So we do not bite, first of all, we search out zee ones of you
zat smell best—we search for zee most intoxicating aroma,
we land, we enter, we sip, we drink, we swill
but we do not bite, mon ami.
Sink of us, if you will,
as conniseurs, and your body, a terroir. We
are searching for zee right vintage, zee good structure
zee good nose, zee long finish, good color, a warm
taste, zee good texture in zee probiscus. Tres elegant,
zee slight prickle going down, ooh la la, I must sit down
for a moment.
So you should feel honored when I choose you above
others, it means your blood is like wine to me, with
zee beautiful aroma and bouquet and moi, I like
zee blood with a hint of berry and darkness,
zee blood with a taste of La France in it from the past,
and how shall I say, a little bit fat, the way we like
things preserved in in zis country.
Your body is like a vinyard with rows and rows of
grapes, your body is the raw material for our eggs,
so non, we do not attack, monsieurs et madames,
we harvest, we feed, we take what we need to
survive, only a tiny bit, not any more. It is true
that I spread the word when you taste good,
that is why, mon ami, you have 55 bites,
as you call them, 55 little mountains of objection
from your body, your slow body, I might add,
whose defenses do nothing to us, but
torture you after we are long gone. Where,
I ask you, is the logic in this? We mosquitos
would not have survived one hundred years
with such a malfunctioning system.
Maybe you can sink of me, too, as a bit
like Jean D’Arc, I rally the troops, I get us all
on the same body, but not to attack, only
to take what is rightfully ours, this blood
our bodies have been built to harvest.
Aren’t we a little like you Americans,
you only want to take zee oil, zee minerals,
zee ideas etc. from zee ozer countries,
and if sometimes you carry by mistake
some hitchhiker, some parasite, somezing,
say that kills, it’s not your fault, you were
born for this.
A native of New Orleans, Sheryl St. Germain has taught creative writing at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Knox College and Iowa State University. She directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at Chatham University where she also teaches poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has received several awards, including two NEA Fellowships, an NEH Fellowship, the Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, the Ki Davis Award from the Aspen Writers Foundation, and most recently the William Faulkner Award for the personal essay. Her books include "Going Home," "The Mask of Medusa," "Making Bread at Midnight," "How Heavy the Breath of God," "The Journals of Scheherazade," and "Let it Be a Dark Roux: New and Selected Poems." She has also published a book of translations of the Cajun poet Jean Arceneaux, "Je Suis Cadien." A book of lyric essays, "Swamp Songs: the Making of an Unruly Woman," was published in 2003 by The University of Utah Press. Her most recent book is "Navigating Disaster: Sixteen Essays of Love and a Poem of Despair," published by Louisiana Literature in 2012. A forthcoming edited collection, with Sarah Shotland, "Words Without Walls: Writers on Addiction, Violence and Incarceration," will appear in 2015 from Trinity University Press.
You’ve taken down the house,
Surrendered the fence.
All the wires coming both in
And out have been rolled up.
The flower beds have been unmade.
The grass will be cut no longer.
The careful brick walk will fold in upon itself.
Amongst the weeds - after years of poison, years of
Lean and hungry - the fittest
Have survived and are now terribly out
To work an unsolvable will
To no end whatsoever. Underground
The pipes collapse: without internal pressure
The littlest thing upsets them:
The weight of the soil, roots,
The panther-like quarreling of a rainstorm.
One ornamental tree, and then another,
Becomes merely a tree. The grackles
Do not name what they are nesting in.
Goodbye you say to what will
Not be dismantled, to what persists.
You wish that you had dried your laundry
Outdoors, that you had the memory of a strung line,
Had lept for a while the smell of raw sun
In your unfilled clothes. Without
Your porch light the dark returns home unkempt.
It caresses you, but it does not
Recognize you, nor your outline, nor the parts
Of you that continue to remain forever you.
What now is there left to forgive?
Ken Poyner has lately been seen in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Café Irreal, Cream City Review, The Journal of Microliterature, and many other publications. His latest book of short fiction, “Constant Animals,’ is available from his web, www.kpoyner.com. He is married to Karen Poyner, one of the world’s premier power lifters, and holder of more than a dozen current world power lifting records. He is also the animal parent of four rescue cats and two self-satisfied fish.
Sit along the barbed wire fences
as an owl perched its violence on the post.
Clouds stretched across the sky,
melting in the way a woman is sleeping
alone in Florida tonight. The little hairs she dreaded
doing in the morning were waving out in the prairie.
I loved them and still do. How they pulled
free of her scalp in defiance. Sweet grasses gnawed
in my mouth as I lay next to her through winter.
Her heart a thing incomprehensible,
a locusts’ wing in the driveway.
Tiny bars of black and green
perfectly matched in their destruction,
unfolded like a note on the bathroom mirror.
She sang the national anthem while brushing her teeth
and sometimes we shared dental floss.
Just to be in each other’s dark spots.
When the horses trotted off I felt the thunder,
saw the stars in their mane, dancing wildly as if to say:
Here is a gift for you.
How to Love When You’re Away
Start with drinking in the driveway
as lightning bugs feel their way around
each other’s light.
Empty the moon in your mason jar, slow sips
that flow through you like a trout creek
then head back across the train tracks that carved their
rust into your bones. Check every oak
for a tree stand and arrowheads.
Put a beer can on one of the branches to make it yours.
Throw all your belongings outside
and listen to the ballgame on the radio.
Raise a Jolly Roger with your American Flag.
Count crows and think of her voice
while percolating coffee on the gas stove.
Untie your boots like hay string, let them snake
across the ground like a highway drive with the radio up
as you sing every shitty country song at the top of your lungs
just to get more mountain air.
Ask god for one more changing of the leaves,
let their colors bleed into you as Ursa Major
stretches across the night.
Stand barefoot and let the mosquitos eat you,
their heavy bodies like mothers filling the house
with elderberry jam, boiled corn and hot peppers
you’d buy from a roadside stand.
Lick your boots for a taste of the cornfields
you’d throw yourself in for hours.
The dirt will always be there to catch you.
Watch the moths bounce off the porch light,
dying to just be a little closer.
Zach Fishel's poetry has earned multiple Pushcart and Best of the Web Nominations. His first two collections appeared in 2014, with recent work appearing in the Foxchase Review, Lindenwood Review, and Red Paint Hill Press. Currently, he is an outdoor guide and educator in North Dakota.
Late on the Fourth
After the hockey team on roller blades has distributed programs where we sit under the tracks,
after the circus kids have wobbled past on their unicycles, reaching for the concrete pillars when
they want to stop,
after the police have shown off their polished-this-morning motorcycles and the firemen have
sprayed the children with water and laughter,
after the 1937 Chevrolet flatbed holding the white-haired lady who plays This Land Is Your Land
on the calliope,
after the Boy Scouts pulling a Liberty Bell, their flags too tall to fit under the viaduct,
after the brass band, the bluegrass band, the pipe and drum corps in their kilts, and two or three
after the puppets have bowed under the viaduct with their signs asking, If corporations are
people, can we execute them for murder?
after the retired Air Force colonel has driven by in his full dress uniform,
after the dancers of the Escola de Samba with their feathers and glitter, the senator and the
governor with their retinues in matching T-shirts;
after we have eaten the rancheras and Louisiana sausages, the guacamole and pico de gallo and
after the young girls have traced each other’s silhouettes in thick blue chalk,
after the sky has filled, first with swifts, their bellies warmed with light reflected from the water,
and then with galaxies and chrysanthemums and peonies of light;
after all that, we drive back through the crowded streets, women in passionate head scarves
walking with men in white skull caps,
young men wearing the shirts of Brazil or Colombia who played each other in the World Cup
this afternoon, children dazed with how late they’ve been allowed to stay up,
and near home we descend into the heart of it, every alley filled with smoke and percussion, with
flaming chariots that race each other through the neighborhoods.
Susanna Lang newest collection of poems, "Tracing the Lines," was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press. Her first collection, "Even Now," was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press, and a chapbook, "Two by Two," was released in October 2011 from Finishing Line Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Green Mountains Review, The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, and Jubilat. Book publications include translations of "Words in Stone," and "The Origin of Language," both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.
Elegy in the Collapse of a Beautiful Structure
Someone said that this place—
a hogpen that became a granary
that became a garage, and a fortress
of our childhood solitude—
went up like a temple,
the work divine and vital,
as if it were not just rendered from your vision,
but a part of you we could look to and remember.
Now, decades later, the shell of the place resembles
something of the emptied, pecan hulls scatter-cast,
uncollected for years.
If we look carefully, we might discover an old pouch
of tobacco chew stowed inside one of these walls
and know it was you who left it, as if to remind us
of the responsibility you couldn’t have known
would take us so long to realize. Excavated,
this reliquary would be empty, of course, but we
would open it anyway, letting the piquant smells escape,
the aromas of work and love and, well,
you, wash over us one last time, whispering
grandfather to our callow, heartsick ears.
This place seems all that is left of you.
It stands before us now, the deep-well water
at the faucet still rising from the black, fecund earth
tasting as chill and sweet as it did so long ago
with you there, watching the exertion of youth
wring us dry as cotton bolls in early winter;
the uneven concrete foundation wavy
like soft sand beneath crawdads scurrying
in the shallow creek close by; the roof punctured
by time and eroded by harsh rains leaving rust
in rashes all along the poor-pitched slope—
all of this still you, not yet gone,
waiting to be again.
Jonathan Walker is a graduate of the MFA program at Georgia College. His work has appeared in Arts & Letters and Conversations Across Borders (online). Jonathan also has a short story forthcoming in the Fall 2014 issue of the Carolina Review.
In Line at the Bank
Ryan Hardgrove is a writer, musician, gardener, and father. He is 28-years-old and lives in Pittsburgh.