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Ditta Baron Hoeber-

we will not

I

I cannot keep you. one can die first or be bereaved. there are no other choices. I listen to your words. but in myself I am silent. what is the anger that reappears and reappears but does not speak.

I cannot keep you. one can die first or be bereaved.

II

evening dream

two hands
reach
to rest on my shoulders.

the cat does that
reaches to my shoulders
with soft paws.

I can’t see your face.

III

affection

the picture crossed my consciousness as I was speaking. it was my chest pried open my heart a dark red pulsing thing.

IV

morning dream

the conversation is provocative

I lift my hand to still my chest
my hand
brushes against my breast

the room flies apart then slowly reassembles

V

will it be like death this absolute ending we will not sit together and speak again. (clothed in loss.) (would feel naked without) a picture of nakedness comes into my mind and my mind fills with pleasure.

_______________

reach

I

my breasts. want to leap out of my shirt.

I have to smile at that. sad as I feel. I have to smile.

II

I dream of you now.

III

when you were within reach I missed my dead less. you covered all bases. wore all the hats I had. you are out of reach now so my ghosts gently return. and you. now you yourself haunt me.

IV

when I am dressing only the black clothes call me. comfort me make me quiet and invisible. portray my anger.

V

this ending feels incomplete perhaps all deaths are sudden deaths.
sudden. sudden as in unprepared for. as in what do I do next. as in. the floor has given way.

can I step upon the air. dare I.

_______________

larchwood avenue

the label on the bottle has so much information. the date. her name. the doctor’s name. my mother mentioned that doctor repeatedly over the years. the name of the pharmacy which awakens nothing in me and the pharmacy address on larchwood.

larchwood avenue. I remember all the front yards in that part of the city the rose bushes and ivy and a tiny purple flower with a pointed yellow center. and iris leaning up against the iron fences. when I was small I tripped once walking past those fences. I fell and cut my chin. the cut took stitches but they weren’t made well so I still have the scar. but it is nothing.

was nothing. not a fright. nor is the little medicine bottle a fright. no. finally. it is information.

I unscrew the lid and look inside. a powder dusts the glass. I smell and the smell is dusty. nothing. but I hold it in my hand and this nothing is information. I hold it in my hand.

_______________

(Untitled)

a heat of feeling overtakes me my eyes my folded hands.

a heat of feeling overtakes me my eyes my folded hands. my mind watches. you watch. you say I will be angry with myself if I don’t speak. my mind moves to the place with words.

_______________

(Untitled)

I

yesterday dies
I am bereft

I’ve always believed
that others have it worse.

but mine is mine.

II

my father says yesterday is gone
I laugh and I say yesterday is always gone
the cab driver turns and says
–not always
and he offers his hand –give me your hand.
and I do and he laughs
–I just wanted to touch your skin.

III

yesterday
the news was bad

so I fixed things.

I fixed what I could.

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Ditta Baron Hoeber is an artist and a poet. Her recent poetry publications have been in The American Poetry Review, Construction Magazine, the American Journal of Poetry, New American Writing, Per Contra along with a suite of her photographs, Calypso Friends and Nthposition. She has been nominated this year for a Pushcart Prize.

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Kevin Casey-

Church Steeples

Perhaps we’ll never arrive, our insights
grounded, fastened too tight to this earth.

But if we’re to make any sense of it,
we’ll get closer to the Truth by degrees,

orbiting its mysteries in rings
ascending and tightening as they turn.

And so these church steeples have it all wrong:
instead of that austere finger pointing

straight and absolute toward heaven,
these spires should rather be spirals

that show the winding way we grow closer
to that knowledge and to our better selves:

the chapels in this valley would then shape
a strange landscape, spiked instead with corkscrews

that seek to pierce and drain the firmament,
drenching all who have thirsted for so long.

_______________

On Goya’s Fight with Cudgels

Tied to that cold, pastoral
landscape of towering clouds
ignited and shadowed mountains

tumbling to the humble vale,
the sunlight catches your jacket
as he swings his club
down upon you:

raised and balanced,
his shoulder, elbow, wrist
all wound, curved and tightened
for the spring’s release.

And your strike a sweeping arc
aimed heavenward; eyes rise
above the shielding arm
to gaze upon his bloodied face–

dark forms anchored close,
off-center, forever locked
in that perverse intimacy.

_______________

Guidebook Entry: Inventing Magenta

i.
The color Magenta was named after
the Battle of Magenta, which occurred
in that Italian city in the 19th Century.
Magenta is an extra-spectral color,
and only exists in the human mind.
When confronted with even parts violet
and red, our minds measure out the mean,
and so each of us invents Magenta.

ii.
In Milan to Magenta’s east we find
the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio,
consecrated in the 4th Century
and featuring the remains of several saints
reposed within their glass enclosures,
skeletons bedecked in beatified
finery, both blessed and macabre.

And in Turin, some fifty miles to the west,
you’ll encounter the Monumento
a Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia,
a marvelously executed
equestrian bronze in the Piazza
San Carlo, lined with baroque porticos,
bookended by two separate churches.

But amid these cities, in the heart
of Magenta is situated
the Basilica Di San Martino.
Charming without distinction,
the structure and its bell tower date
only to the early 20th Century,
and lack the apology of antiquity
that excuses the unexceptional.

iii.
Between its more imposing neighbors,
the natives of Magenta build their lives
just as we construct that hue, mixing sense
and memory, reticence and desire,
blending promise and regret–their days
no less real, though they surrender a degree
of splendor in that constant effort of creation.

_______________

Wood Chip Trailer Sonnet

The truck ahead tacks and weaves on this thin road,
pocked and warted over with daubs of cold patch.
Now mid-afternoon, the trees on either side
bathe in the glazed, green shade they’ve made, languish
in the summer insect hum. Not wide enough
to need a center line, solid or broken,
I’ll never pass this chipper trailer,
or see beyond its bulk to what’s ahead–
the road is what’s behind me, a furrow
I leave empty for the wind to sow,
traveling at a pace that’s not my own.
But then the sudden breeze that rained down wood chips
like cherry petals falling in a flurry,
chiding me as we climbed out of the valley.

_______________

Ember Garden

A man works a rake across the remains
of his burned house–a plot of twisted wire
and ash, thirty by forty on a cracked slab,
with half a chimney planted at one end,
keeping vigil like a faceless scarecrow.

Tending to the cinders, he bends at times
to pick up a fragment of his old life–
a knot of colored glass, a sharp angle
of charred china that shows a glimpse of vines
and pink blossoms still bright beneath the soot.
Some of the harvest is placed in a pocket;
most is tossed back to the patch of artifacts.

The gardener of relics relies
on geometry and thirty years
of sowed memories to guide his gleaning:
this is where the second story bedroom
came to rest, in that corner was the pantry
that became an oven the week before–
consuming all it held in a single night.

Two hour’s work on a late spring morning,
then it’s back into the truck and his present life,
the hotel, boxes and insurance papers.

He leaves behind a pair of lawn chairs
resting on the new grass near the orchard,
facing a stand of birch and the hills beyond.
All work is noble, but the morning is fine,
a perfect day for leisure, and they keep
their backs turned to the whole untidy business.

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Kevin Casey is the author of Ways to Make a Halo (Aldrich Press, 2018) and American Lotus, winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). And Waking… was published by Bottom Dog Press in 2016. His poems have appeared in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit andwaking.com.

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Hiram Larew-

BACK TO ME

If only I was going towards someone
Who was the color of evening
Who would look back at me
Even from books far away
And remember all of this wonderful seeming.

What else would he remember —
The touch of what I haven’t said
Or the maps I’ve folded over?

What’s hard is going further along —
Trying to reach pure full in time
Or such adoring.

_______________

UNLESS UNTIL

You should get here just before you get here
When cups are still put away
And the soap is dry and waiting
When all of what I’m thinking of is half magic
Half a sort of danger
And empty vases shine like a gift
When birds out front don’t have any idea that you’re coming
But dance anyway
And the sky from here to there
Or even the edge of the world
For once matters deeply

I’ve always had a need for these kind of edges —
For anything that makes what is from what isn’t
Like people who never know fear
Or like pink next to gray
Or like logs stacked in the woods
I’ve always needed these kind of wavy lines
Deciding

I’ve decided that
Something has to happen
It has to
With everything this ready and wobbly
Here in the doorway that’s like you —
Either fate has to make good and come clean
Or I’ll just live in my beard.

_______________

DISTANCE

there —
what kind of advice
would we find
in hills
where
further than green
rounded on gone
our us seem to change

to ever

slopes —
our here hearts are found
deep
as wishes or starts
curved learning
hopes
almost like time
for folding

so —
how do we love
in this open
upward to skies
eyes bending
as go
with hands to a map
some old and touch new

by this making.

_______________

FROM HERE

I think of him as larger
Like what happens on a ship –
All looking out, yes, but not saying more,
With growing splits of light in clouds —
Bigger still than that
And through my bearings.

I think of him as looming on
And furthered,
Some maybe can’ts but surely tries
The never square
Off perfect.

I think of him in surprise —
The very wave that catches me
The sudden choice
And forward’s back –
My standing on this turning.

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Hiram Larew’s poems have most recently appeared in Honest Ulsterman, Amsterdam Quarterly, Every Day Poem, and Viator. He is a global food security specialist and lives in Maryland. On Facebook at “Hiram Larew, Poet.”

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Simon Perchik-

They have learned to feast
the way all blooms die out
return hours later, warmed

and under her breasts the low light
nourishes your fingers with shade
beginning again as twins –two tongues

two throats gutting each breath
below it one mouth
is filled with the other

that has no place else to go
weighs so little, pulled close
for the flowers that have nothing to do

with your hands barely in place
grown huge from covering the weeks
the days, years –with your eyes shut

–with this dampness taught not to sleep
push nothing away –with each hand
overflowing its banks and closing.

_______________

This stone bending over you
bulges with moons, craters
brought closer for more darkness

enlarged the way its arch
spreads out and gradually
a second horizon helps you track

how far before each night
gives up its faith in steppingstones
covers your grave

as if a footbridge this smooth
is as simple as turning a corner
hidden with hours and distances.

_______________

So there will be no distraction
you shower at night, your hands
kept cold as the same sound

snow breaks off bit by bit
whose only defense is to melt
and rock is now so rare

–the pebbles you saved
you bathe, hold under, hide
for hours in falling water

though there’s no light left
or the cry from your arms
around and around in pieces

half rain, half the sky
crushed against this frost
no longer burning or a place.

_______________

Before taking root this darkness
was hollow –you could hear its echo
become a second sun, half moonlight

half pole to pole as a single ocean
drained softly at night –at what depth
did it bend the Earth toward evenings

lengthen them, let your hand curve
the way sea birds still lift one wing
into morning and home –at what garden

was this shoreline born, leaving the sea
to itself, listening for flowers, islands
and in your arms its sadness.

_______________

It’s winter inside this string
kept white –on its own
to put your heart back

though each goodbye
returns to the surface
as ice and the sudden glow

that tightens knot after knot
the way this box was covered
with corners and step by step

and along a single finger
the blood you think is yours
is endless and sent.

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Simon Perchik’s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

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Simon Perchik-

Even the colors are anxious, carried
as if its new home above ground
would skimp the way all rows use dirt

cut in two with nothing in between
–you suddenly bring it a darkness
use one hand to comfort the other

though you’ve done all this before
have no faith in mornings :clumps
that want only to forget, just lie still

holding one end close, for a long time
sorted out and unfamiliar fields
taken place to place in flowers

in ribbons, string, thread, something
feeble, tied to the dissolving Earth
by this shadow and your arms.

_______________

This rotted log yes and no
longs for the stillness
that is not wood though you

are already inside, seated
at a table, a lamp, clinging
the way all light arrives alone

except for the enormous jaws
once shoreline closing in
without water or suddenness

–you lay down a small thing
and the Earth is surrounded, fed
slowly forehead to forehead again.

_______________

Though it gets dark earlier and earlier
you were already weakened at birth
–without a shrug let go things

the way each grave is graced
used to being slowly moved along
blossom and in your mouth

a somewhat pebble half fruit
half sweetened, not yet
broken apart in your throat

–you can’t make out where in the turn
you are clinging to its path
that led you here, not yet strong enough

or longing for some riverside or rain
or the night by night, warm
still falling off your hands.

_______________

You fold your arms the way this pasture
gnaws on the wooden fence
left standing in water –make a raft

though it’s these rotting staves
side by side that set the Earth on fire
with smoke rising from the ponds

as emptiness and ice –you dead
are winter now, need more wood
to breathe and from a single finger

point, warmed with ashes and lips
no longer brittle –under you
a gate is opened for the cold

and though there’s no sea you drink
from your hands where all tears blacken
–you can see yourself in the flames.

_______________

You drink from this hole
as if it once was water
became a sky then wider

–without a scratch make room
for driftwood breaking loose
from an old love song in ashes

carried everywhere on foot
as that ocean in your chest
overflowing close to the mouth

that’s tired from saying goodbye
–you dig the way the Earth
is lifted for hillsides and lips

grasping at the heart buried here
still flickering in throats and beacons
that no longer recede –from so far

every word you say owes something
to a song that has nothing left , drips
from your mouth as salt and more salt.

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Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The B Poems published by Poets Wear Prada, 2016. For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

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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.

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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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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. 
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 

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
March-June – Journal on hiatus
July – Simon Perchik
August – Hiram Larew
September – Kevin Casey
October – Ditta Baron Hoeber
November – EG Ted Davis

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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