The phone rang. It was 10 o’clock on
A Thursday morning.
“Your aunt has left,” aunt Cyrus was on
The other side of the telephone.
“Where did she go? It’s lockdown going on now!”
“She left us all,” Cyrus’ voice became blurred.
She did not attain the age to die, yet she
Died and not of coronavirus.
The corona lockdown failed to hold her
Back in this world…
She had hopes, she had
The day her daughter was
Born she dreamt of her
Glorious future, a future
That will take away and
Throw in the litter bin
Many of her shortcomings,
As a student, as a daughter…
But her dreams began to
Wither away like leaves
Of a tree during winter…
And we thought her dreams
But her dreams began to
Disappear like a drop of
Water in a desert…
And we thought her dreams
Would be an oasis and
She lost favor with her husband
And her daughter couldn’t stand
A semi-literate mother!
Alone she spent her days
In her brother’s abode
Like an island in the family.
Today a deluge submerged the
And a dream disappeared from the
Face of the earth
And I stole my tears
And hid it inside
No Shoulder To Cry On!
Where from did all the questions
Where to did all the answers
Where from did that smile
Where to did all the tears
And most of the questions
She asked had no answers
And most of the answers
We gave had no meaning
Then she formed her own
And endured her pain with a
When tears rolled down her
She patted her back and consoled
Island that she became in the family,
She had no shoulders to cry on!
Now No More…!
I will meet her no more…
No more will she call out
No more will I answer in
Anticipation of a smile
No more will any sigh
No more will she pine
For that lost husband
No more will she cry
For the daughter, who
Could never become hers…
No more will she remember
Her first love
No more will she remember
Her first love letter
No more will she steal a tear
From our eyes
No more will she bother
No more will anyone have to
Keep his/her date with her in hospital
Time has stolen her away
Once and for all.
John Marvin is a teacher who retired and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo. He has poems in scores of journals, and literary criticism in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, James Joyce Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, and Worcester Review. He has a chapter in Hypermedia Joyce, and h is book, Nietzsche and Transmodernism: Art and Science Beyond the Modern in Joyce, Stevens, Pynchon, and Kubrick, awaits a publisher.
He seeks to marry the experimental, non-narrative with the lyric and traditional in the manner of Nietzsche’s marriage of Apollo and Dionysos. He generally avoids accessibility for its own sake, and the prosaic personal story with superimposed line breaks that is ubiquitous these days.
if you’re waiting for an apogee
waiting for a swimming around
waiting for that geist to return
well ... you know what
I don’t know that it’s going
any sooner or later time
as the man says, “ki-ki-ri-ki
brings no rou-cou-cou”
not necessarily and perhaps
can we appose
particles and antiparticles
images and mirror images
directions and anti-directions
time and contra-time
even when “grass is in seed...
and the doves resound with chant”
haunting murmurs of mourning
penetrating without injury
the medium of their soul sounds
yet the crush of a world of arrows
of more scattering disorder
of memories past and an end in sight
of a universe expanding swiftly
dissipating into darkest voids
beyond all our yesterdays
never amounting to a hill of beings
piston engines warming up for the last syllable
“stripes of silver that are strips
...slits across space”
yawning and lacking
dubious tales while sipping beer
in local pubs where
chatter from loose lips will
slip soporific drips of acid will
slip words with one sound
around to mollify the masses
classes who will not tolerate
egg head multi-syllabic
diction of the clever
rumored to be gay
disdaining rhyme and métier
disdaining little jokes
so stick your head
in an electric oven
and maybe someone will
care after it’s too
too forlorn timeworn
on foot after foot
a depression session
because chat the kit kat
coffee and doggerel
laced with wisdom
and impacted bleeding glooms
glossed and glistening
to every world othered
under the tongue
where a melting
and soothing medication
trickle like painful time
whose last syllable
has lighted you know whos
the way to dusty
Looking for the Perfect Vibrator
Tamsen Grace is a published poet, a Ford Model of Courage, an artist and a cancer survivor. She is the author of two poetry books “Skeletons in My Closet" and “Dismantling Cinderella” published by Creative Talents Unleashed. She has been published in numerous anthologies, magazines and online sites.
Tamsen Grace lives in the Midwest with her children. She enjoys creating art, reading, writing, biking and teaching children Martial Arts.
Nature vs Man: A Caterpillar’s Tale
disemboweling your life
You say: “throw money at it and make it happen“
You want change to be easy,
pop a pill,
with a quick, keto cure,
I turn myself inside out,
initiate my death, to fly
You say: “Fly Eastern Airlines. The Wings of Man”
You sip euphemisms,
like Lattes at Starbucks,
regurgitating rhetoric to
sanction your inaction
I reconstruct myself
inside my chrysalis sarcophagus
You say: “Drink Red Bull – It Gives You wings!”
You read your sixth self-help book
“Harnessing The Power of Habit”
I set myself free
and take flight
You’re still telling
everyone you know,
how things are going to be different
We Will Not Go Gently
We, the unmannered
offer no apologies,
for blaspheming love in our soliloquies,
scavengers of wisdom,
measuring out the world
with our metaphors,
step by step
with our words,
we can wipe out dysfunction
and create a new anthology
death will come,
for all us poets and our words,
but we will not go gently
my boyfriend calls it a cult,
tells me to look around when we’re in the drive thru line,
asks me, why do you see mostly women in the cars?
I say we women are notorious for wanting what’s bad for us
that could be a billboard of my past
I tell my kids that they must put cocaine in the coffee,
that I will drive forty minutes out of my way to get it,
but hate to drive twenty minutes to get to the grocery store
Makes me question my own priorities
Or maybe it comes down to indulgence,
that part of me that makes me take my stuff out of the cart to get something for my kids,
that tells me I always need to come last on the list,
maybe Starbucks is my silent revolution,
to frivolously waste money on my own satisfaction...
or maybe they put cocaine in the coffee
Scott Waters lives in Oakland, California with his wife and son. He graduated with a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Scott has published previously in A New Ulster, The Pangolin Review, Amethyst, Poetica Review, Ink in Thirds, Praxis, The Santa Clara Review, and other journals.
and haul into the sun
of your hidden life:
a 1950s wood-paneled Sentinel TV set
with the tubes exposed in back
a metal desk as heavy as a rhino
a Westinghouse refrigerator
with the door removed
lamps and tables in a style
no one remembers
commemorating county fairs
where you must have twirled
in a red-checkered skirt
knees and ankles
glinting like hubcaps
on a brand new Desoto
lace curtains yellowed
by the smoke you must have smoked
at cocktail parties
martini sloshing in hand
as you wafted from room to room
a blue morpho butterfly
in a vanished rainforest
how you came to be
the little old hunched lady
with two dangling front teeth
and 9 feral cats
is one of the mysteries
of our neighborhood
where you are now
is a deeper mystery still.
is roughly the shape
of a cut-out
wet after the rain
heavy as purple
in my palm
i don't have
for the fuzzy yellow
at its base
nor for the
on either side
of the ridge
as if the flower
a neighboring scene
as it sprang
from the stem
i am not
after the first rain
when petals bloomed
faster than he and Eve
could name them
car after car slowing to bank
from sunlight into shade,
carrying scribbled Sunday shopping lists,
lovers, wives, husbands,
dogs and kids around the curve of noon
into the chute of another week.
My company's CEO
died in his sleep last night
at age 60.
He will never face
THE LADY AT THE CORNER TABLE
at our favorite cafe
tumbleweed of grey-black hair
from a corner table
on a busy Saturday morning
she'd wait for it
noisily plunking her bag of books
as close as she could get
at the slightest rustle
or scrape of cups--
"Are you done with that table?"
happily grounded in the corner
she'd scan the room
like a buzzard
looking for interlopers
while guarding her
scrap of dead meat.
The cafe eventually closed
we wandered for months
looking for a worthy replacement
with good coffee
and that indefinable
then one morning
we saw her at Caffe Trieste
camped in the corner
scarfing a sesame bagel
with cream cheese
her eyes flinging spears
at parents of young children
plates and cups in hand
desperate for a free table
and we knew that this
warmth has gone out
of the afternoon
the blinds are drawn
moving toward black
and I remember
how it feels
to be young
marooned on a twin mattress
in a strange city
the toaster oven
whenever I turn it on.
A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, Ndaba`s poems have been widely anthologised. Sibanda is the author of The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache: Unsympathetic Untruth, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence and Poetry Pharmacy. His work is featured in The Anthology House, in The New Shoots Anthology, and in The Van Gogh Anthology, and A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Poetic Intersections. Some of Ndaba`s works are found or forthcoming in Page & Spine, Peeking Cat, Piker Press , SCARLET LEAF REVIEW , Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review ,Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, Indian Review, Eunoia Review, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine, The Borfski Press, Snippets, East Coast Literary Review, Random Poem Tree, festival-of-language and Whispering Prairie Press.
Sibanda`s forthcoming book Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things: Confronting Controversies ,Contradictions And Indoctrinations was considered for The 2019 Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing in Nonfiction. Ndaba`s other forthcoming book Cabinet Meetings: Of Big And Small Preys was considered for The Graywolf Press Africa Prize 2018.
Sibanda`s other forthcoming books include Timbomb, Dear Dawn And Daylight, Sometimes Seasons Come With Unseasonal Harvests, A Different Ballgame and The Way Forward.
Ndaba blogs here: Let`s Get Cracking! – Ndaba Sibanda - WordPress.com
Aunt`s Words Versus Rita`s World
seemed to be on a mission
to thrust Rita into a fleabag
she felt like an unwanted email
in spam filters, a candidate for
deletion, a masked vicious virus
as if she had a leprosy of deceits
she was easily avoided by persons
she called friends ,family and bosoms
she was in an acerbic quandary, an island
where she loved without being loved back--
dealt justly in an injustice and a drippy sack
she tried to talk to them but none chimed in
and the wayward way her boyfriend acted up--
signaled one emergency away from a breakup
her aunt told her that not every day is pleasing
but she had to be pleased with life and its pigsty
that she had to be honest in the face of dishonesty
I’m Your Reader
Play with them for the meanings
And notable tinkles and twinkles
Let your words be the guiding torch
Whose light will shine on the moods
That soar and roar between the lines
I am your booklover, let me love your lovely lyrics
Feel their potency run riot & romance your poetry
Let me hear cheers cheep and witness tears transfer
I am your reader, let me wolf every well-placed ‘wow’ word
My avid ears yearn for an orchestra of connotations and echoes
Emotions and intentions; engage my imagination and intellect
know the entire world
is being threatened by
a virus! A signal starts
stalks emerging from
soil that recently has
been blanketed by
to global death data,
yellow flowers fill
spaces with trumpet-
like centers quietly
calling spring season.
I like the scent
of his hair, or I
sometimes still hug
folded laundry ready
to touch his skin?
Watching his morning
shave elicits smiles,
while his nighttime
makes me feel safe.
He's my closest friend,
and the one who
listens to my
©1998 Green's Educational Pub.
reprinted April 2007, HARDCOVER BOOK “To Have and To Hold”, pub. by Hachette Book Group/Center Street
reprinted Spring 2019 Westward Quarterly
Programmed for Pretense
that really mattered much,
While facial muscles formed
saccharine smiles that
caused not the eyes to even
crinkle at their corners.
Though our bodies ached
to touch, and our lids
swelled to contain unspilled
tears, we continued our
sham lest the parting appear
as unbearable as it really felt.
©1992 Miriam Press
not colorful streamers
extend from satin bows.
I can’t guarantee you’ll
enjoy; it’s nothing to
play with, or a present
you asked for. Later
I will carefully tape corners
of boxes you’ll touch with
special events, but this
is the most cherished gift
I shall ever give you:
©2002 The Jewish Press
reprinted spring 2006 “Shemom”
reprinted May 2015 “Whispers”
comprehend were captured
by your ears. The eyes
tears yet expressing
I held your hand but
could not hold back your
©1988 Green's Educational Publications
reprinted January 2007, Hardcover BOOK “Forever in Love: A Celebration of Love and Romance”, Andrews McMeel Publishing
reprinted Spring 2019 Westward Quarterly
and the bare spaces fill with small
buds, spring suggests something
different for me. Yes, shrubs shake
off quiet periods, and underground
bulbs push stems of green and sprout
flowers. Worms wiggle on asphalt
then birds find seasonal food. Me?
I see a rhythm of my existence.
Increased darkness of winter’s days
gives time for introspection, and
autumn’s colors, that encouraged
me to notice, fade and fall.
Summer is brief; full blooms,
green grass will grow whether I
water or not. But spring says
‘new’ and my ‘new’ has fewer
ahead than behind and reminds
me to cherish each loved one as
eventually my being will end.
Each caring moment is my bud
springing into the minds of
my grandchildren; seasons
will be their repeated events.
Feb. 2017 The Write Place at the Write Time
Kathryn Stewart McDonald lived in Tunisia, Thailand, Italy, on Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands and surrounding Micronesian Islands as well as in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has traveled Europe, spent time in Hong Kong and Taiwan and in several states across America. Her father was with the Diplomatic Corps United States Department of State USAID, and later with the US Dept of Interior. Her parents published tourist maps of Florida Keys, Chesapeake and Delmarva Maryland, Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Micronesia.
The family was very happy and made many friends. She attended or changed schools 13 times in 12 years. Despite this her friendships are stable including grade school buddies who later resurfaced in other countries with the US Embassy, she is best friends with people she knew in Coral Gables, Florida and Annapolis, Md. Every two years for three months she attended school in her grandparents hometown where her parents spent their home leave (vacation jargon at US Dept of State).
Kathryn's love of different cultures and languages was based on her exposure to the differences and similarities shared by people throughout the world. She attended University of Houston, Texas State University and University of Texas at Austin. She has been a journalist for many years, in the USA and abroad. She worked also for a Native American lobbyist and is by some accounts 60 per cent Navajo, which is cool, she wants to be retested before being involved in The Daughters of The American Revolution Native American Chapter, if the DNA is duplicated she will, if not it is back to Clubhouse of Colonial Dames.
"It is about what, not who you are, but whomever you think you are, it doesn't make you better or worse than anyone else, what you do and how you treat people is who you are."
Kathryn's pet peeves: Snobs, macaroni, and bigots
Kathryn's favorites: Quiet people, shashimi, human rights advocacy
Hobby's : Community theater, rock opera, film maker
Ride: 19 Year old Honda
Ex Man in her Life: Yes. He was sullen and domineering.
New Man in her Life: Yes. Still waiting and celibate until Marcus returns from military service.
Phosphene, Aileron, Blackburg Press, Haiku Zashi Zoe, Harbinger Asylum, Gryphon, Fla. State University,
George Washington University Press, Re Artes Liberales, and others,
Her professors of poetry were David Wevill and Al Goldbarth at University
of Texas, Dr. McLauren at University of Houston
Nepharim and The Rider
along ridges rugged metamorphic rock
going somewhere, gripping the
wheel, turning trying to turn
the world around, traveling hair pin
curves the edge each crevice a tight
rope, he drives mountain
after mountain another
and another following the spinal
cord of convergent tectonic shifts
mountains from millennials past,
racing, racing night after night to rediscover
a caldron of the new milnial
53 miles from middle of nowhere
interstate, corridor infrequently
explored , no cell service,
State Police describe clan of
mountain people, hunters,
lumberjacks, small farms,
workers in sawmills, linemen
gas or gas and electric company,
river guides, fishermen
Meager lives, meaningful lives,
mostly overlooked lives, lives
merciful to others, lives where
people loved, lives though those alive
mutated, maimed, mangled,
marred now deformed as the
ridges of the metamorphic
Survivors of the village's
hospitality extended to
a stranger , thought they
themselves considered their offering
paltry, inconsequential, insubstantial
people as they feel they are perceived
by others The Rider and others saw
fruitful, content, industrious
peaceful, loving, satisfied
simple sincere, sanctified
Now judged by the outside
world, what were they, oh,
("Sure, trying to make
some money, they deserved it" or
"Lucky it went down out there ,
Where one world affluence matters more
than another, where in one world, old way of life,
won't fit with the norm, now no matter -erased
not by boulder, avalanche
not disease or drought by penitent
The wipers chant
a language he does not know
the blades echoe
a mechanical heartbeat
the only sound on this
Here , the marker, man stops,
opens window, cold mountain
air, snow blowing on his face , his
face in the mirror the color of the
ash on corpses in the photo
On the dash the page with a sketch
The penitent one who fed on blood leaving
carnage among cottages in poor
secluded towns, considered
by society unmeritorious of
time, of scrutiny or concern
Man turns on radio
snow, as if ashes of the dead
a cabin, a barn, on an
a turnaround, perhaps
it must always be night, this
forray, he parks the resentful vehicle
turns off his lights
opens the door ,a flashlight,
cuts branches,covers his jeep
At daybreak he will
explore ,there below him a shack
pale yellow light -should he wait, return
to the road, is his igloo camo good, will it keep?
As he awaits the dawn other memories drift
through his half sleep and other nights when
alone he explored a city street rumor held the fugitives
had friends to meet, instead the house they planned to rob
housed a family of four with many riches inside to keep
The woman , when he opened the door and wanted as bride when he saw her he
knew she would never lie.
would leave behind
and will she one day be a woman a
good man left behind, will she
die in a forest. a wasteland of
gray and white under a blue sky
away from the ocean a sapphire
blue under sun all the time
a coastline soft with sand
sand the color of snow, sometimes
She will love him until the end of time.
He saved her family
When the men came in
through an open window
with a smoke bomb
then the open door
they thundered in
"What you in here for"
"Damm they are all inside
get what you can, "
Then "Shut up or die"
He came to the door,
"If you are hiding these men
I have a warrant, stand back,"
They were not hiding the penitent
For hours the club had been inside
Rider saw her father
crawling on the floor, her mother
collapsed, cancer patient, she was
observed by a club who
meanwhile were searching for drugs
none they wanted, apparently,
medications cast aside with
more cursing, "What's this for?" in his hand
a blood pressure cure.
Justice as invaders saw the man they began
shake, she barely remembers
the next moments did pass
she fell in love with his shin,
his shin conquered all of their jin.
Her family consider him as
Her love whorls between
obelisks of petrified
frozen firs and Norwegian Pine
Her love flows through meandering
streams, Her loves' metamorphosis
into bedrock. He moves mountains
A General now, he keeps his Riders
deep in darkness where he follows
their drive vigilant eternally over the
good he is sworn to keep. He treads
softly in his home, his world, and
that is all about him anyone has known
The Riders he guides to save people
they stand side by side.
Tristan Young lives in Tucson, AZ and aside from writing he manages his family's car wash business. His prose piece "Lost in Transition" was recently accepted by Scars Publication, and is forthcoming in Down in the Dirt Magazine's June 2020 issue.
I was struggling to come up with an idea for a painting. I take great pride in creating something unique the world has never seen before (whether or not it is admirable is another story). Surely I cover topics or scenes even thoughts that were not originally my own. But the end result is just that, something original.
I sat in silence as I envisioned a painting complete yet ever changing. At the center was the back of a man's head and upper shoulders. To the left stood an angel whispering in his ear. She had a worried look on her face becuase the man was tuning her out and thus muffling her voice. On his right a demon grinned as she yelled her loudest. I wasn't sure what to paint him looking at but felt it best to paint the background a fading color mystery. And then the memory of Donald Duck and other cartoons came rushing in. I had instantly lost much of my interest in the idea. I don't have anything against Donald Duck but considering my paintings are abstract, I wasn't fond of the idea that it might too closely resemble a cartoon. Still I felt it was interesting and worth exploring.
Admittedly I have yet to paint this image. But have still found reason to name it. I thought to myself, What could be more different? Naming a painting with a poem describing it. Now I don't know that it hasn't been done before, but I do know that I have never seen it.
From the depths where evil temps us, in the shadows of our minds, I hear the angels calling, like whispers deep inside.
"Hanging On My Shoulders"
I was inspired to write "Hanging on My Shoulders" after watching "The Place Beyond the Pines" a movie from 2012. Some of my favorite stories are those that surprise you with originality. "A Place Beyond the Pines" did this for me twice. Spoiler Alert, when the main character is killed, and his assassin immediately becomes the new lead. And yet again when we see how the lives of these men's children are directly affected by their fathers actions. "From sins of our fathers".
"Not for Me"
affecting in a manner, we would really rather not,
but for those who so forgot, my heart pines for naught,
the world is twisted, but i'm trying, we're only living because we're dying.
So lost in vein, so lost I forgot to maintain, and keep it all in balance,
I know all I pretend to hide,but i'm so lost, broken and lame,
while you moved on, I stayed the same.
Complex and simple, I can make a mountain from
a molehill, get back up, and go uphill.
Continually I continue the continuity of my ambiguity.
We all sow, and so we sow what we reap,
pride doth go before the fall, but what if when I die, I die standing tall?
Heartache and sorrow, the pain fills up holes that are hollow.
I feel grown but apart, like I've gotten colder at heart.
We strain and then we tax on, dreams come true or just be gone,
she played you well, you played a sad song,
discern for disdain, do you really think the world is just a mind game?
Pity those who beg, not borrow,
today there was pain, but maybe not tomorrow.
So much is still uncertain, will you walk in the dark,
or pull back the curtain?
I often argue with myself, and in my mind, I wrestle with the devil,
but I still can't see, how it is, that you could ever settle,
with all that you got, through hard times or not,
when you know just what you want.
It breaks my heart the way you look at me,
I see in you all that I need, and even though I have a plan,
like everyone else, you only see me as I am.
I can feel i'm at a loss, and as I wander, i'm not so sure that I am lost,
but I cant say i'm found, and honestly, i'm not where I thought i'd be,
but I won't accept, that this is supposed to be.
That's fine for you, just not for me.
"What's the Meaning of My Life"
Ambitions fade at days pass, I ran the race but finished last, in need of an extension, and yet I press the pension, lessons learned in succession. If only we cared then for what we lost today, I drop to my knees and pray, but when I look up, the world's still on my shoulders, and i'm still lost, it doesn't matter what I need, i'm too broke to pay the cost, without money you starve, go hungry, i'm hoping for help, but i'm stuck hating myself, for not finding answers, I'm cancer, infecting all of me and others, winter, summer, another year has passed, time doesnt slow down it moves past, on the side of the road and my car needs gas, perspectives range, dreams seem further and strange, but i'll take the abuse because I refuse for my motives to change.
Therein lies pain in my heart, unable to express the stress of true art, despite the smile across my face my eyes bleed tears and insecure fears have surfaced, I curse my cursed life, the way i'm living, makes it hard to find meaning. Overbearing, unchanging, max pressure gauging, my eyes are closed, while my mind's open hallucinating. Lose all sense of reality, the scale leans lacking harmony, in our uncertain life the only certain thing is our life's a casuality, born to live, I live to die, you who waste your time, tragedy.
"Robert Frost's Personal Rejection Letter"
Thank you very much for your submission to our journal. Although there were no visible changes regarding your submission status, and despite the doubled expected response time, we must pass on your poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". While we enjoyed your submission, we tend to view rhyming as a redundant art form. No poem or lyric could possibly offer any true coherent meaning worthy of recollection. The rhyme is for the child, done solely for the pretty sound is makes. We hope that you pay to submit again and please order a subscription to our journal, where you can read pretty sounding prose.
We wish you the best of luck in placing this anywhere else, unless it happens to win some literary award our magazine could have taken credit for.
Many Modern Literary Journals
P.S. Follow us on Twitter!
The last submitted piece is a hypothetical rejection letter written to Robert Frost, if he were a young poet today. While rhyming poetry was once considered standard it has become far less common. Even listed as a negative aspect in many literary magazine submission guidelines. And yet across every genre of music rhyming lyrics remain as popular as ever.
FROM A WORK IN PROGRESS:
in the seconds when i close my mouth
because when neither of us speak you can hear the grass growing
without putting your ear to the ground:
your throat has my nose pressed to it;
beneath the line where our skin meets is a yawning expanse,
and if i close my eyes i can see
the shifting immaterial of the earth, brown and black,
breathing because you are breathing.
your breathing is not like grass growing
but i know they are happening from the same place, at the same time
and if i listen long enough i can hear
a heartbeat echoing in your collarbone, like something speaking underground.
and if i breathe as the grass grows i can see everything from here;
the expanse is an unending ground that seeks
the space below your head.
and when i pause it's dark enough to see the words collect,
small and distant
in my chest,
like chicken bones at the bottom of a well.
when i was so dead tired i slept for a day
off and on, strung out:
i slept so long my hair got lighter
my nails grew and my skin flushed.
i slept so long that the air around me changed,
settling heavy and pink,
slight enough to blink away.
slept so long my fingerprints faded
and my right was my left,
so long i tripped my toes over the carpet,
harder to consolidate,
collect my limbs,
connect to my head,
where my dream is still moving;
rolled up behind my eyelids,
no sound; i think
it involved elephants, a desert. yellow heat.
i track the grooves in my fingerprints as they itch;
tight packed nerves with the endings emptied out,
my head is honey-slow,
my thoughts are veins actively bursting and bruising,
veins so small they're strings in the air,
just shy of a stream of consciousness.
i try to remember:
stand in the oxidized pink air
as my breathing room burns
with each exhale
Take a Minute
Upon a box suspended from the
Ceiling of the airport lounge, a
Clock face gleams unhindered by the sunlight,
Proud reflection broken only by a leaning, graying smudge.
In Amsterdam the man who keeps the time is swept away by
Light and kept behind the face to
Paint each hand on as the minutes come,
To wash them off in time to paint the next; he never lies.
6 o’clock the day begins, with
Dark still seeping through the windows, stretching over faces.
Purple circles under eyes meet shuffling feet while
From above, the man draws out the minutes.
3 o’clock PM is drawn and
Echoed footsteps crowd the voices on the intercom.
Painting and unseeing, never does he spare a
Glance to any passing by below him.
8 o’clock the light will falter;
Steady hands and blank expression blot out any trace of
Tedium that might have reached the inside of the clock face
Far above the evening gleam.
His yellow cleaning cloth is blackened by the time
Eleven comes around,
And through the frosted glass
The man begins to flicker back and forth,
His static presence starting to solidify.
Quarter to twelve on the dot he’ll climb down from the box
And recover his luggage, a battered brown travel case missing a wheel.
He’s absorbed by the crowd in a footstep, his vacancy silently ticking away.
The clock seems to stutter, but the hands do not twitch;
They remain on the face as if nothing has changed, and at once
From below, people lift up their eyes,
Watching in vain as the paint starts to bleed.
Fourteen minutes to twelve, and a woman steps up to the box.
Her fingers don’t shake as she lifts up the brush to the glass,
Her lines are precise as the seconds stop ticking
And the minutes grow long, stark and black
While her body floats high,
E. IZABELLE CASSANDRA ALEXANDER
KATHRYN STEWART MCDONALD
K SHESHU BABU
LOIS GREENE STONE
RANDAL A BURD JR