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Howie Good-

Enter Ghost

So this is what happens when a loss of faith brings vertigo,
the synagogue is used as a stable, and you find yourself
at a wedding on the grounds of the State Lunatic Asylum,
with Al Jolson dancing the Paved X and Leisurely Looping Z
and death saying to you, “Sorry, we made a big mistake,”
but through it all, and despite bees getting depressed,
each silent silver snowflake falls in the exact right place.

_______________

Ctrl+Alt+Del

Light bled through,
filling eye-holes
with tar and ash,

conspiratorial winks,

the jagged shadows
of red autumn leaves.

_______________

Hi Hat

A woman’s straw hat, Pepto-Bismol pink,
skitters past sunbathers metastasizing
on towels and old blankets, whirls down

an empty stretch of white sand beach,
eager to escape, with the wind’s connivance,
the tedium of beautifying a size 71/2 head.

_______________

The Hitchhiker

He was sitting down to have a little lunch
along rural U.S. Highway 2, a major route

into and out of the oil patch, and this guy
drives up. He thought he was going to give him

a ride, and, as he approached the vehicle,
the guy pulls out his weapon and shoots him.

Just a week before, he’d left his parents’ house
in West Virginia to hitchhike across the country.

He told sheriff’s deputies he was writing a memoir
titled “Kindness in America.” It’s simple as that.

~Based on “Bail set after hitchhiker writing book on kindness shot near Glasgow,” Billings Gazette, June 10, 2012

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Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

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Ralph Monday-

Telegram to Wallace, Walt & Emily

I suppose I could have phoned, listened to the
Crack & hiss of ghost conversation. Talked about
white dresses, supreme fictions, slick body
electrics turned into Lennon’s Maharishi
inspired “Revolution.”

Or chatted about how busy you are licking
your wounds through Snapchat, a grammatically
incorrect text (Whitman would not mind),

or sex, or affairs with a married preacher, or
a high-browed old Christian woman who just
didn’t get it.

None of those: too dross, too trivial for shades
walking the underworld conversing with
Virgil & Dante.

Instead I sent an old fashioned telegram.
Thus the rosied lips of May carrying
meager pronouncements as a stone bears
moss.

I did not ask of the first rib,
immaculate conceptions,
a non-existent fruit never tasted.

I did not ask of death,
lazy Sunday mornings,
or the meaning of grass.

Instead, quaint tap tap tap
Morse code flown out on
yellowed paper to an
unknown address.

_______________

The Girl in the White Dress

The mirror, a silver moon,
conjures up the
girl from the settlement
town, scissored tan long legs
sweeping forward beneath the
thin, white dress, eating up the land,
the miles, dissolving behind her
whatever myth it is that she flees.

A stream of song lays her longing
behind her
like discarded lover’s clothes,
like an October without color,
enigma of knowing, of feeling
whether in the dark or light of
day.

Who loved who, or was there no love,
smear of truth, enigma of lies.
I can read her Morse code mind, tap tap
as she flees: streaks of mental text
flashed across the glass, that hurt, that bruise,
that laugh over wine.

I see her other side, the one she left, tangle
of truth & memory.
Pause & give me a moment. Pause but for
a clock tick. Then I would read your
iconography, your mythology.
I would know your landscape like no
other, the lines of you, architecture of
physical things, the terrible event
that tore you away.

This doesn’t have to remain in the deep
bone marrow. Let me give light,
the strange shimmer of the borealis.
Lie down in the road & let me kindle
the ashed fire.

Go with me to still waters and drink
mercy spun like silk from my fingertips.

_______________

The Word

I am woman they say.
I am mystery they say.
For I can undream the stone,
the sea, the sky.

Physics is the miracle of existence
which allows my actions,
eyeballing from every window, the ground
itself.

The universe doesn’t blare out in megaphone
bursts.

Three is a perfect number, a triangle perfect
structure.

As mystery, even I do not know the
ferryman of the dead.
Our maps do not matter.
The golden fleece can now be found
photoshopped on the net.

But I can trigger warning incantations—
how sapphire comes from flame
sound merely vibrations of the music
of the spheres, twisting waves like
DNA strands speaking reality by the
word.

This is my power—like gypsies
transforming my mind
to make me antique again as Paleolithic
rain, strip the patina of eons away
where the man-made ether has faded.

I am awake.
I am hungry.
I am the word.

_______________

Without a Mirror

He is driving on a road, maybe in the
Midwest, maybe the south, perhaps
somewhere in Colorado. He doesn’t
know, no one knows.

The moment unknown, everyone
forgets that Echo also flew from
Narcissus.

But on this road, somewhere, sometime,
crumpled newspapers tumbleweed
rolling, discarded gum wrappers,
rusted 1940s cars rejected like a lost
presidential campaign,

the same when love comes to an end, a
marriage severed by one lost in the
blood-red mists the

last day she lay on a ticking hospital
bed. It’s love that left, we’ll say
when you never returned to toll for the
dead.

So you drive, there with moon white
knuckles on the wheel, living with
ghosts.

When it happened the rain
was not white, not the clear
substance of young love
unspoiled by age, experience,
tragedy, but a

muted blaze dribbled across an
event horizon.

Past noise drips from your
ears where your wife
strides from the FM
on an old 50s song,

and like that flash
ordinariness bright
as spring mayapples

births the extraordinary
riding toward a rumored
future holding no more truth
than she holding the song in her
teeth, an
amateur propaganda team

like an old teacher behind a desk,
ruler in hand, so
that he says I have forgot
what time the purple grapes
come to juice.

I have forgot
drinking blackberry wine in the rain, the
wet streaming down your thin dress,

where love had not yet faded, as
now,
a partial language, incomplete pantomime.

_______________

The Mountain and the Man

There outside the window, the
bright sun, bitter cold, like a
sleeping eagle the mountain
towers up bare bones
exposed.

You can hear it wind
talking, tongue-like gullies
crusting its side, tromboned
muteness merely an aside
for the rock thoughts
coursing through the dirt
beneath, like some electronic
cyber chatter.

Though it knows nothing of the
generations of man, the rocky
behemoth has patiently endured
all the centuries of romantic
crumbling, ill-placed reason,
faithless religious mutterings
like some limestone and
granite Job

whistling in the dark
for an end, for man turned
to salt, ocean-burned
tears that no still-framed
movie can ever capture.

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Ralph Monday is a Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 100 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press. An e-book, Bergman’s Island & Other Poems is scheduled for publication by Poetry Repairs in Feb. of 2017.

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Joshua Medsker-

Purita

My spine still tingles
from the shock out of the sky
as I shoulder my guitar and set out
for the land of my unknown mentor.

The road is unclear. I must blaze trails
my ch’amakani has already beaten.
I cannot see them, so I must keep aware.

I must not long for the day I grab up my skull
and begin my practice

the road demands patience, and egoless
death, for the life-bringer.

_______________

Bullets

Joy is a luxury
I don’t have. Yet
I don’t believe in
giving in to despair.

So

where does that leave me?
With so many young, bulleted
bodies, their names bleed together,
and here I sit, impotent. Yet,

I have bullets of my own.
I craft them to their lethal points,
and pray with each salvo,
that I get closer to my targets.

_______________

Perfecto

My elbows squeak familiar. Slip
my new arms into old skin.
Wrist scars re-framed
by black cuffs, worn
upturned collar protects me from
dark weather.

Sweat smell and dirt stirring my loves
back to life.

It wears heavy, but I believe
I am ready, now, for the weight.

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George Moore-

Rude Poetica

Poetry plays at a game of chance,
a roll of the dice, a turn it takes

one morning with the coffee
before you dig your heels into the beach,

or of an afternoon, exhausted by the spell
of books, and at the threshold

of evening tea. But the poem never plays;
when it falls, it bleeds. I think

that everything falls apart,
but you think and I am amazed

at the clarity of a loaf of bread.
On the other hand, a finger

bent by a door at a college in a day
too young to ask are you fine,

that is poetry. Those are the rules
of love, too. Forget the falling, the emptiness.

The old man with his gnarled hand
is a unicorn, and you, his myth,

rude poetry, the proper meaning
of just another day.

_______________

Those Places

after Olga Orozco

There are places that do not exist
but for the half-lost memory of them.

Situations in cafes and on streets,
needle cold, hot porridge, and pigs in doorways,
and drivers singing squealing ditties,
tassels swaying in a dusty breeze,

and peaks so close they crowd the streets,
and buses so crowded they double seats
or carry you like luggage on the top,

and trains so slow the children jump off
in fields where their mothers do not look up,
and fences of mud like great ant hills,
and rumors of tigers as white as the peaks,

and walls that have fallen more than once
around cities that fall into themselves,
and faces that look almost like one you know
who lives ten thousand miles away,

and tin plates topped with meatballs and rice
and the guts of a creature who they pray
will never come back to haunt you

on the day you leave, the bed unmade,
the children almost quiet in the streets,
the last train waiting, whistling steam,
cinders covering the seats.

_______________

The Ruins of San Agustin

The horse knows nothing
but it takes the lead.

A boy who said he would guide me
disappears. I enter the jungle alone,

a figure on a map, a scratching
in a stone wall, the clown

at the festival of skulls.
Somehow the horse believe

in the gods, and the gods guide it
past the river to the tiny trail

down an impossibly steep ravine.
After a tour of life’s extremes,

I meet the middle, and heads
are rising on each side to greet me.

They are the remains of things
unseen, the faces in dreams,

the massive memories of a small,
disappearing culture.

Big eyed lovers, bulbous
redeemers of an ancient order,

the gods of the jungle
who are all teeth.

And before the horse breaks lose
of my hand, before it picks its trails

by smell, by myth, by hints
of atavism, and we wander back

into the town’s false streets,
a part of me believes.

_______________

Young Men

believe in anything
but an afterlife;
immortal as the gods
in their books,

they ride out across
the roads of the dead:
Death Valley, deserts
of Black Rock, and

south Oregon wastes,
and chance gas
will last into the
New World

they have not yet seen.
In Reno, they sleep
just off the street,
in cotton bags

with old green seams,
and nothing disturbs
their dreams but
a light sound of coins.

With age, as everything
begins to rust, they
avoid water, wish
as much as work,

wish beyond the desert
and back, to the land
before they left,
to the faces at doors,

to the cure for sadness
that they never noticed,
to the gods who
have abandoned them.

____________________________________________________________________________________

George Moore’s collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016) and Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). His poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, Colorado Review, Arc, Orbis, Poetry and Valparaiso. After a career at the University of Colorado, he now lives with his wife, a Canadian poet, on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

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Darren Demaree-

TRUMP AS A FIRE WITHOUT LIGHT #670

Because soon we will eat the ash and ask no questions, and that will all be because we asked too few questions now.

_______________

TRUMP AS A FIRE WITHOUT LIGHT #671

My strength matters much more to me now that I am dedicated to showing that strength through the grief, the anger, the breath, and the hunger of this America. I am beating my chest much more these days. I want him to see me. I want to be the focus of his wounding, and if I am strong enough I will be crushed and continue living after he is removed for crushing all of the men like me. Those that live will form a choir, and we will do our best to sing the songs that rebuild this country.

_______________

TRUMP AS A FIRE WITHOUT LIGHT #672

I’ve been keeping hard candy in my fists. I cannot imagine yet in which way I will use the candy, or which way I will use my fists. I want most of all to buy my children’s love with the sugar stuck to my open palm, but I don’t think I’ll be allowed to do that once I start throwing punches at the establishment. My children will lick my hands as the children of other animals lick their parent’s bodies, and they will get all they can from before they leave me behind. If I do this right they will consume what they need from me before those that first forced my body to crumple in the middle of the Ohio kick me into the creek bed.

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Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review.

Darren is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly” (2016, 8th House Publishing). Darren is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.

I am currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.

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Chanel Brenner-

A Poem for Women Who Don’t Want Children

I won’t preach about the rewards of motherhood.
I won’t say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I won’t say it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
I won’t say you’ll regret
not having a child.
I won’t say you’ll forget what life was like before.
I won’t say it makes life worth living.
What I will say
is my son died.
What I will say
is I would still do it again.

_______________

I Have 2x the Love for 1 Child

Since the death
of my older son,

I worry that the weight
of my love is too heavy.

I see my son hunched over,
carrying my grief

like a load of stones.
I worry he’ll learn

to bask in that love
till he sunburns,

come to crave
the sting and heat of it.

I worry that he is forming
like a rock in a river bed,

my grief-ridden love
rushing over him

like whitewater.
I worry that one day,

a woman will ask him
why her love is not enough,

and he won’t know
the answer.

_______________

Into the Schoolyard

He heads the train
of children linked by hands
and lunch baskets,
teacher for a caboose.

I watch from the gate,
waiting for his face,
blond hair curled
from napping, to see me.

I stare shamelessly,
while he’s unaware,
astonished by his beauty,
each time like the first,

as if there were something
temporary about his presence
since we lost his older brother,
as if he might flicker and burn out.

When he sees me,
his body picks up speed,
not letting go of the child’s hand—

propelling the whole train—
unstoppable in his will
as he breaks free into my arms.

_______________

The Tug of War

Having dinner with another couple
who also lost a child, I watch
their two-year-old bounce
on her mother’s lap,
grab the mother’s face and pull her hair
while she looks at the menu.

The child is the same age Desmond was
the night Riley died.
The same age Desmond was
when he asked,
If you had another baby
would it be Riley?

When the mother says she’ll stick with water,
I ask if she’s pregnant.
She nods her head,
but doesn’t smile.

I’ve been crying, she says.
I know I should be happy
and I am, but I’m scared too
.

I know what she means.
Eleven years ago, when we found out
I was pregnant with Riley,
we rushed out and bought a crib
that same day.

Now, if I were pregnant again,
I don’t know what I’d do—

hope pulling one way, grief the other—
joy the rope in my hands, raw and burning.

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Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: a memoir told in poems, (Silver Birch Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the 2016 Independent Book Awards and honorable mention in the 2014 Eric Hoffer awards. Her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, Muzzle Magazine, and others. Her poem, “July 28th, 2012” won first prize in The Write Place At the Write Time’s contest, judged by Ellen Bass. In 2014, she was nominated for a Best of the Net award and a Pushcart Prize.

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Ruth Kessler-

The Sacrifice
And Abraham put forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son
(Genesis 22,10)

So many questions unanswered
(even the ass’s)
So many screams
stifled
(even the knife’s)
So many silences

That story left
mostly untold Its
jealousy’s terrible flowering
glimpsed through the door of
religion left only slightly
ajar

And The Father
who unbound
one child
Only to tether His others to
bear His implacable burden
till the end of all days

_______________

flower*
Tamar

this dark stain
that will not be blotted –
the dried blood
of a maid’s tarnished honor.

this diminutive height,
downcast gaze,
this disgrace.

Whose cruel joke was it
to wed his iniquity and my infamy
in such lovely, love-
less bloom?

stitch my name to his.
No, nail.

*In Hebrew the name for pansy is Amnon v’Tamar – after King David’s oldest son and the half-sister he raped.

_______________

Suburban

Summer night: cats in
heat, droning chorus of cicadas,
the moon – our dream-hook dangling

from someone else’s heaven.
Behind lit windows neighbors toss away
the crumpled day’s remains, readying

to unfold the fresh morning of tomorrow.
(Only very few press out the passing day,
carefully caress its creases, cherish).

Under the callous gaze of stars the street
curves like a horseshoe seeking luck,
studded with silent, taciturn houses.

The trees, black-uniformed keepers of birds’ sleep,
stand stiff, capped with hazy haloes.
How scrupulously the eerie lawn-lights guard

the still-life of prim gardens
against August’s wanton conquest!
A bat swiftly swoops and

circles, swoops and circles, spinning
an opaque web of solitude.
Only in the distance a train’s sudden

whistle rushes through the
darkness into our careful lives:
a messenger from Elsewhere,

an arrowhead of secret
yearning, a fleeting echo of an
errant heartbeat.

_______________

May

Sky, smeared with careless scarlets and crimsons.
Sea, dappled with dusky dazzle.

And a young, cloud-hatted couple
carrying their future boldly between them –
like the magnificent cluster of grapes borne aloft
by Joshua’s spies from
the Promised Land.

_______________

Ars Poetica
Reason not the need
Shakespeare, King Lear

You reasoned the need:
would banish all weeds from that garden,
subject all irregular growth
to the shears of perfect necessity.

As if poetry was not about life –
meaning irrelevancies,
meaning rules constantly broken;
daring us daily to sift
through the rubble,
paste order from its debris.
Life –
whose business card is imprinted not
with the consequential idea,
the relevant metaphor,
but the but’s and although’s,
repetitions, digressions, silences,
the yawns between cannon bolts.
Life –
that sagging tissue that holds the skeleton together.

You insisted on efficiently planned expeditions:
always choosing the highway – clear signs, good maintenance.
Not meandering side roads with
their unruly clumps of unnamable grasses and
small songs of obscure birds leading, like
the heart’s undisciplined ramblings, to
strange destinations where
children and fools gather at dusk
to do nothing.
But dream.

You believed the poem
should matter like flag –
meaningful and precise
on its upright pole.

But
have
you
ever
closed
your
eyes –
listened
to
the
mysterious
music
the
wind
makes
rippling
randomly
in
the
pliable
cloth?

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RUTH KESSLER grew up in Poland and Israel. Her publications include Fire Ashes Wings (poems giving voice to women in myths and the arts), and over sixty poems in journals and anthologies, several of which won special distinctions. Her full-length manuscript has been a finalist and semi-finalist in several book contests. A poem was made into a limited-edition artist book, and three poems were set to music and performed as a choral composition. Awards include Individual NYSCA grants and Yaddo, MacDowell, VCCA, VSC, and Saltonstall fellowships. She was invited as a guest poet to the Women in Music Festival and Women and Poetry Festival. She lives in NYC.

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Other notable works by Sophia DuRose.

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Kaitlyn O’Malley-

LAUDANUM

We love to give away that which we earn
Or sacrifice that we did once refuse,
Build up and then in raging fire burn.

When life ensparks a feeling of concern,
Without a sift of sheer intent to lose,
We love to give away that which we earn.

The accolade and laurel, in return
Are used-to-be’s; lowly, misused –
Build up and then in raging fire burn.

Often there are things that we can’t discern
Important this, the unexpected muse,
We love to give away that which we earn.

I tried to stop it but I didn’t learn –
Even the love we had which I did bruise,
Built up and then in raging fire burned.

It hurts; absent of a silvered touch, I yearn.
I’m done, no more will one inflame that fuse.
We love to give away that which we earn,
Build up and then in raging fire burn.

_______________

REBORN

If I die on a plane
Heading somewhere,
Then that is a good way to die.
Maybe I’ll sprout wings
And cocoon myself in the clouds.
Perhaps they’ll bury me in Turkey,
The Old City will be my tomb.
My soul will leave my body
And rupture into shivers of myself.
My spirit will pulse
Through the streets of Sultan Ahmet.
Maybe I’ll become a genie
Trapped in a merchant’s lamp.
Perhaps I’ll be an angel
In the mosque named for the sky,
Or melt into the Turkish strait,
My eyes, the seas, divide.
All will wonder who watches
Through their walls,
Whose presence lives
Within their city,
Which foreigner, a protector,
Follows.
If I die on a plane
Heading somewhere,
Then that is a good way to die.
My soul will leave my body
And rupture into shivers of myself.

_______________

BODY COMPOSITION

Anyone who we have ever feared
Or lost,
Is seventy-two percent H2O.
Two parts hydrogen.
One part oxygen.
And everyone who we have ever loved,
As well.
Me –
I am seventy-two percent water.
But it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.
We are hearts,
And brains,
And nerve endings,
The blood that runs through our veins,
The rib cages and shoulder blades,
The bones, worn down
And remade.
We are worlds inside of people.
We are atoms, 7 octillion,
To be exact.
Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon.
Signals and commands and cells, that facts
With science, studies can explain.
But it doesn’t feel that way.
Sometimes,
We are stardust –
Cloud people,
Shaped with the powder of a thousand stars,
Forged with the fires of the suns
That circle us.
The irises of our eyes are stratospheres,
Pupils black like telescopes set to the night sky,
And the universe whose true expanse
We’ll never know,
Or created why.
Because science can’t explain all of us.
Not the days when I’m alone,
Or lost in the world I am made of.
Not when dreams are the nightmares of my days,
When I can breathe, yet inside my lungs ablaze,
When my heart is pumping,
But stripped of love.
The sleepless nights,
When I’ve cried so much that
I’m down to one percent.
My functioning brain only torture and torment.
We are galaxies,
Complex in their simplicity,
More than statistics of science,
Or biology.
We are the memories buried in the wrinkles,
The bruises that only the dead can see,
The salt on our cheeks,
The smiles of our loved ones,
And the aches in our hearts.
We are people –
Made of water and stars.

_______________

THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING
based on the Johannes Vermeer painting of the same name

If a picture is worth a thousand words,
I wonder why I can find no explanation
For the turban-wearing girl
With apples in her cheeks,
And cherry lips, parted only for the single
Breath,
Save for her allure.
One request lest I should die,
I wish to live inside her canvas,
To discover the pleasures concealed
In paint strokes,
And the insecurities in blackened air.
Brush blue from her forehead,
Brown from her gentle skin,
Uncover the mystery of knowing.
Witness her golden headdress unbound,
If her hair matches the darkness of the room,
Or the sparkle of her gaze, like the sun
That is yet to rise.
If that pearl on her ear has a sister,
Hidden away in the secrets of her brows,
Or if she only managed to steal one.
That is all I wish to know.
Is her soul as pure as the whites of her eyes?
As fragile as the silver teardrop falling
From her ear?
Her hands as gracious as her glare?
Her heartbeat as quick as it is
To love her?
Is who she truly is
Tucked away
In the wrinkles of her robes,
The crook of her neck,
The curves in her back?
Or sprinkled into
The colors of the sky
Never to be found again?
That is all I wish to know.
See Vermeer’s muse in all her mystique
And beauty.
A stargazer under moonlit sky;
How ephemeral perfection,
That men search the world for
Their entire lives,
Is isolated in its momentary existence.
How the world’s displayed, so subtly in space,
By a girl,
In a tender stroke of white,
An earring of pearl.
That is all I wish to know.
And ask much, I do not.
For the price of imprisonment
In art,
I give away,
Lose, myself to find her,
Lose myself for knowing
Of things such as these.
For explanation of
The turban-wearing girl,
Save for her allure.
Of that I know too much.

_______________

INNOCENCE

I fear the time when dreams turn into
Simply sleep-induced sensations,
And tiny teeth under bedheads
Don’t conjure up mystical riches.
I fear when happy endings become
Trapped in children’s storybooks,
Hourglass eyes uncontaminated,
As long as you don’t look too close.
I’ll miss when friendship means forever,
And the skyline is crayoned blue across the page,
And the gay and happy, naïve feeling
That fills you when they ask your age.
When work means learning ABC’s
Chalked across boards with picture diagrams,
And gifts are macaroni painted red or blue,
Strung onto popcorn necklaces.
When birthday constitutes a number,
Said with a smile and not a sigh,
And the bed is something you don’t look under,
Home to the creatures standing by.
I’ll miss when life no longer stands
For the things we said we’d always feel.
I fear the time when all we dared to dream
Simply becomes not real.
But I suppose I know that’s why I’m here,
For the inevitable we must defy,
To remember all our innocence,
All we can do is try.

____________________________________________________________________________________

Travel has played a large part in my life. I was born in Russia and lived in Saudi Arabia before moving to America. The cultures I have experienced and the people I have met have all shaped me to be the person that I have become. I write because I know that words can make a difference in this world. I have seen it, and I hope that “Contemporary American Voices” will help me do the same.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sophia DuRose-

FDR Memorial

All men are eventually lain in their grave.
It only depends on when and who you are when you fall.
“It is not new and it is not order,”
Stretches across the back of stone,
Like a cape of historical bone, declarations of rebellion,
May 2nd, 1997.
The memorial’s hands are new and recently unveiled
Yet they yield the same lines of weather
And exhaled promises. His face was carved from memories,
Creases around the nose like parenthesis,
Even winkles on his hands like ink,
Lifelines in his palms,
And “systems of government” engraved instead of psalms.
The sky’s orange glow feels like a smile,
And the cherry blossoms in town bloom for a while,
Like flowers at a wake.
Sixteen years later,
His eyes have not blinked, and his hands have not moved.
His dog sits watch, never barking, only obeying,
Looking more like an old man than the guy in the green.
Leaves dance like crystal wasps, beating their wings in a silent room…
All men eventually die,
But only some remain breathing in a stone-cold tomb.

_______________

Amputee Therapy

I asked my mother for paper dolls
And my mother did comply.
I took my scissors, I took my string
And cut the dolls before her eyes.

I named each doll for a member of the family.
And sliced them how they each were maimed.
My mother sat there watching,
As every body part, I reclaimed.

Bob’s lost an arm,
Grandfather’s a finger.
Grandma’s both her legs,
And at mine, I did linger.

Most of them were lost to me,
Though I was still whole and young.
So I took my scissors, I took my string
And back on their bodies, I strung.

Markers and pencils questioned me
As a lilting scrawl filled the air.
My dolls were lifeless- simple paper,
But also solemn prayer.

Bob’s new arm said “Father.”
Grandfather’s finger said “Marines.”
Grandma’s legs said “Nurse,”
Their new limbs, fitted to their dreams.

_______________

Atonement

Arguments don’t write letters pitying the fools
Drooling on the doorsteps of trite and right-
They only curse the moons starving the sun rays
Of yesterday’s long-gone.
Arguments don’t find purpose in the mortar of
A Colosseum or the hoarder of flowers from a
Mausoleum.
Arguments don’t find cracks in promises
Because they are the tracks of bitter kisses
Across cheeks of forgotten ones and orphans.
They are the cigarette burns on skin
And the useless apologies of what could have been.

Forgiveness scratches x’s and o’s
Into thin little lines of understated love.
Forgiveness barricades soap from eyes,
Girls from back corners of streets,
Pushes insomniacs into sleep.
Forgiveness cares about the mishaps in your youth,
Co-signs the loan you make out to your own heart,
As you start to realize reclamation is costly
But not impossible.
Forgiveness does not mention the mistakes of
Rainwater and sardonic waves.

If Arguments were parents,
Forgiveness would be the flowers at their graves.

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

________________________________________________________________

Lana Bella-

DARK WATER
 
In the drinking, your body imprints
origami sailboat over the blue night
air. Inside a cylindrical glass of dark
water, your gaze, black and spacious,
flutes the tissued-ridged helm, glazed
the achromatic berth polar to the sky.
With two volant tips of your fingers, 
the glowing hour threaded tinge from
the moonlight, murmuring zipperless
nest of nyctophobia. Albinoni’s Adagio
is the sepulchral song you ache to cello 
as the blood incurves on unforgiving, 
waiting just long enough to infiltrate
the salted wind unfurling like open fist,
tithing from felled alleluias of seraphim.
_______________
DEAR SUKI: LETTER Z FOR ZIMOGEN
 
Dear Suki: The Hague, March 30th,
Mauritshuis Museum, me beneath 
the celestial bulb of fantailed ceiling, 
you held its cheval glass with quiver
flowing from dark painted eyes. Girl
with the Pearl Earring kissed mute
on the wall; gold light fed runnels of
zymogen churned into waking ghost’s 
raw weight. In the absence of time,
we were flesh and bones woven from
chattels poached, dots and timbres of
silence danced with their notes beyond
our conscious etched in acid white.
Dearest Suki: musing of history but 
musing of ourselves, I bowed my spine 
across your sluggish tense in flight, 
feeling gossamer threads brushing up 
against the ridges of my dermis house.
_______________
OPHELIA
 
Ophelia. Teach her the trick 
of leaving, of diving into rivers 
in the arms of fish and algae 
bed. Start her with minnows
kibbling stardust from fingers
cracked of ice against shore,
and wild calidore of longhorn
beetles calling fog challenged
the goblin sky to war. At the
splitting of the old boneyard by
the river bend, where a broken
path sighed the silence of where-
withal realms, where no briar
bush nor bridle bell to earmark
passage of home beneath her
scythe-feet, she straddled the
edge as her eyes reached limp
dark of the bay willows, slender
as a thieving drink fed fervent
the parched pelican throat. Tidal
sounds barely above whispers
held her against hush-dappled
stones, animate with corpses of
damselflies that hid the spent
migration of her ankle-deep into
the weight of oft-bare kelp-chimes.
Hers was a silhouette tethered in
liquid aquifer, a quixotic conduit
of stillness hunting for its parable
in name.
_______________
QUANTUM

Old before the first cypress
on the homestead heaved to
brown, you seethed tendril
nerves through dandelion-
choked fields, maiden-fluted;
an ampersand lined for long-
itude, hollow as interlude in
an omnibus. Fireflies died on
fits of rain, purling, scoured
among the chattels of birds’
shivering wings, as you sped
eyes of pewter fjord over grey
coastal bells. Heavy feet held
in nomadic haunts of traveled
stops and time-shed rhythms,
river-spun a path angling over
the festooned cliffs. All around,
the lupine mist dovetailed with
imagined light; there you stood
shivered underfoot, teased by
notes of old time songs, salted
away in sea washed air, spired
forlorn to lightning’s quick stabs.

 
________________________________________________________________
A Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is an author of two chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016) and Adagio (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 300 journals, 2River, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Columbia Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, The Ilanot Review, The Writing Disorder, Third Wednesday, Tipton Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere, among others. 

Lana resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever frolicsome imps. 
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 

________________________________________________________________

David Brinkman-

crashing waves and pounding surf
hum hypnotic regularity
lull to sleep or Siren’s death
depending proximity

he stands alone with steely gaze
on hope-filled dreams before
oh the wonder! joy! and awe!
impending naivety

he does not know nor can he know
for crashing waves betray
the past that’s gone, the future yet
the ocean sings today

now sing my son! for death has died!
forgive, and love! be free!
at water’s edge, the dream is peace
hear Siren’s lullaby.

________________________________________________________________

Masthead

Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2017

January - Robert Lietz
February - Jocelyn Heaney
March - David Brinkman
April - Lana Bella
May - Kaitlyn O'Malley
June - Ruth Kessler
July - Chanel Brenner
August - Darren Demaree
September - George Moore
October - Joshua Medsker
November - Ralph Monday
December - Howie Good

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2018

January – Simon Perchik
February – Julia Travers

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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