My poetry collection The White Trash Pantheon (Vox Press, 2015) and my current chapbook, Poems UnderSurveillance (Finishing Line Press, 2013) are currently available in independent bookstores and on Amazon. The opera for which I wrote the libretto, entitled Lotus Lives, was performed in the New York and elsewhere in 2012 and is currently being considered for broadcast by WGBH Boston, and another operatic work for which I wrote the libretto is slated for production in California in 2017. I have been nominated for the Pushcart four times. I have been featured on Poetry Daily. My work has recently appeared in Iowa Review, Cider Press Review, Southampton Review, Bridges, Barrow Street, Connecticut Review, The Pikeville Review, Rio Grande Review, English Journal, New Song, The Penwood Review, Sow’s Ear, The Madison Review, Atlanta Review,Grasslands Review, WSQ, Global City Review, Comstock Review, California Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, The Red Rock Review, and many other publications. In Europe, my work has appeared in Current Accounts, Iota, Poetry Salzburg, Nth Position and in Ireland, I was in an issue of Crannóg last year. In Asia, I was published inQuarterly Literary Review Singapore and Yuan Yang. I have been anthologized multiple times in both the US and the UK. I have done residencies at Yaddo and Vermont Studio Center.
The quilt the sheet the mess
The errand I forgot
The dog the shoe the phone
The neighbor’s cats yowling
The low snore of my spouse
The floor creaking the drip
The blink the itch the cough
The sharp twinge down my thigh
The lips of my mother
Mouthing old rejections
The old embarrassed cringe
The regret the deep breath
The dark the salt truck light
The stillness the stillness
This e-mail is addressed to Facebook friends.
It c-cs i-o-us and o-m-g.
It abbreviates, says nothing, then ends
In l-o-ls – the language of Ouija,
The dead spamming the dead in effigy.
I tweet on twitter with nothing to say.
I have no thoughts, but I have street cred, G.
Communication? My communiqué
Might conversate; meaning is refugee.
Eloquence? Google “archeology.”
I graduated with a M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College in 2013. My poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such literary journals as Barely South Review, Eclectica Magazine, The Birds We Piled Loosely, New Millennium Writings, and Crab Fat Literary Magazine. In 2011, I co-founded a social justice-themed online literary magazine, Words Apart. While spending my days as an early childhood educator, I spend my nights writing poetry in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Tattooed Lady in the Bowery
In the hole of a home, color runs riot
across my needle point body
when Tommy Lee barrels on in
with whiskey on his breath
and a limp dick in his trousers:
an Old Testament man
stands in the splintered doorway,
demanding I unshackle my bra
in his unholy presence.
I claw and kick and squirm
against our bolted window, skin
alive in a heap of naked darkness
where a kitchen knife,
flush to the sky of my eye,
slices through the jelly
— oh god oh god --
to my native daughter sight.
His grip only tightens
across my spine
as I fall to the floor,
screaming for those Bowery blackberries
beneath Aunt Maddy’s stomping feet.
I must amend: the Living Bible
is an Old Testament man in variation.
On his back, Moses raises his staff,
but the Red Sea fails to part.
On his chest, Abraham slays Isaac,
shank in the heart.
The Tattooed Lady in Manhattan’s Belly
Down at Harry Hill’s, a hive of ink-laced bees stung my hand like Miss Saunder’s fist walloping her victim with a right cross. In purple-knee breeches, she moved in to take on the attack . . . oh what a lively mill they all decreed. Yet alas, I turned away, weaving my frame through the crowd’s spit and shouts. A man leaning against the exit sunk his eyes into my garden of lilacs, vines growing into my breasts. I slipped past his denim onto an East Houston shin-high in the muck lit by electric light. The bulbs burned onto the Goddess of Liberty stretched along my ‘Fuck You’ forearm. Locked in our newfangled glow, a strange woman sliced open a stare as I hooked my sight upon a carcass lying in the cobblestone mud. The horse’s flesh rotted through to the heart, a once beating pump now exposed to the flies circling their supper. Yes, believe me now: summer still battled along the Bowery’s incision where death clung to my white bodice on that hot September night.
Heath Brougher is the poetry editor of Five 2 One Magazine. He has published two pamphlets with Green Panda Pres. When not writing or editing he helps with the charity Paws Soup Kitchen which gives out free dog/cat food to low income families with pets. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Yellow Chair Review, Chiron Review, SLAB, Main Street Rag, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Riprap, Crack the Spine, Gold Dust, Of/with, Third Wednesday, eFiction India, and elsewhere.
Come of Age
Listening to the old failing songs
of younger days, of late-adolescence.
Waiting for my fate among the butterflies, school bells
ringing in the distance up the hill and it all
begins again. Endless high school prevails
and pulses outward into my present thoughts,
to the jugular of the world,
its infectious, contagious criticism.
Turning red in the face,
heart and nerves fluttering inside,
looking down at my hands,
picking my fingernails and knuckles.
This was my daily routine.
An endless humiliation
I have yet to conquer.
I still feel the pangs,
I still have the dreams,
I still feel the weight of that teenage injective.
I am tied to time. I am still suffering through this generation.
I am stuck in the niche of recurring suburban humiliation,
constant reminders of this epoch, this Day and Age,
to suffer through this mangled and toxic generation.
I have and will continue to suffer the generation itself.
I was just thinking about the possibility
of a Pantheistic Universe
the Earth itself is a Pantheistic planet
a many-Goded planet,
for instance—the sun, the ocean, the air, the gravity
as the pressure ripens
and our latent fuss begins knocking at our hearts and minds,
ready to burst, to spill forth
its intellectual ejaculate upon the Earth
pitch-black curtains draped like eyelids
over all the populations that never activated their Intellects.
Not an Ode to November
Feeling dangerous, as in
I feel danger at every corner.
Fear creeps down every one
of my thoughts. I can’t take
this swishing world of 17 different
shades of green towels.
I usually just barely
make it out of each Winter
alive and if I am this far
down and it’s only November,
I don’t think
I’m going to make it through
this one. All the leaves are gone,
and with them, so is my Spirit.
My inspiration has retreated
so much so that I
am already done
The fact that most people
in this world do not do their own thinking
can be proven thusly:
people are always saying that doing
the same thing over and over again
and expecting a different result
is the definition of Insanity--
only one problem—that’s NOT the definition
of Insanity. Doing the same thing over and over again
and expecting a different result is actually the definition
of Stupidity, the word which defines the very people who speak
this thoughtless cliché.
An ice-coated shard of wintry berry
pierces my tongue. I drape
the black cloth over the stains, faintly
swallowing remorse and dining on sorrow.
The aromatic blankness stifles hopes
from ever gloating in the paste
of fierce orchids sifting through the fiery
embers of a hazel sun. Drear returns
to feast until a flammable emotion distills
and blazes in the brief freedom of a candle’s short wick.
Wax glorifies itself and smothers the flame
as the crackle of liquid flower beats against the eardrums.
Debasis Mukhopadhyay lives and writes in Montreal, Canada. He has a PhD in literary studies from Université Laval, Quebec and poems published in several magazines in the USA & UK including Yellow Chair Review, Thirteen Myna Birds, Of/With,Silver Birch Press, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Foliate Oak, Eunoia Review, Snapping Twig, Fragments of Chiaroscuro, Words Surfacing, The Curly Mind, I am not a silent poet, With Painted Words.
Follow him at https://debasismukhopadhyay.wordpress.com/ or @dbasis_m on Twitter.
I stayed with you when it was dark
I left you dead at dawn with no sea around inside an empty rental room where paper flowers crouching before the matter of sky through the shattered window pane with no darkness to become one flesh with you.
I can now look afar off your dead hands which are not beyond the scope of a poem.
Bouncing over my blue you rolled over like a damn boat as I kept watching you standing in the silence that claimed the night of your skin, the salt of your whispers and sighs, the roses of hope that'd colored my gaze on your smoky skull. Brittle and alone across the page, I look for you in the recesses of my dreams.
That dance was meant to be our last waltz, Soledad, where did you go?
i had known it from the start
and turned away
i tried to touch her
the membrane felt
bounced and rolled over
like a damn boat
a hundred years
now to stretch away from each other
we imagined scars
where had been living
the extreme rust
thereafter came the leftover poems
and i got up only to walk up to
monnet's poppy field
against the wall
and i bent down to
the swaying flowers
thinking of her words
gone in blood
the flowers bled to let loose
in the meaning
i tucked my dreams and dreads in her chest again
so quick she too opened her ribs
that kept ticking
all our corpses are swimming back up
and the clock
filled the room
a hundred years
the inkblot now made some sense
Dylan Macdonald is a recent graduate of the University of San Diego. He has been published or is forthcoming work in the Columbia Journal Online, Rust + Moth – A Journal of Poetry and the Arts, Red Paint Hill Poetry Review.
Mother Never Ate an Avocado
When I was young I would stare
at the sun
I went blind.
Stop That! Mother’s
work heels sunk
into the parched cement behind me.
The sun’s shade
on the back of my eyelids.
There was only light
there was shadow.
the sun-baked jade driveway,
the hopping sparrow
with its crimson chest
the grey-blue-green Jeep,
the unconcerned golden terrier
leading his lost owner
out of our little cul-de-sac,
the maroon roofs checkered shingles,
the blurred avocado tree
its untouched fallen fruit piling,
mother’s six inch
She folds her long red hair
into a bun.
The sun seeps
into the nape
of her pale neck.
Before I Ever Published a Poem
I had published a thousand poems,
had even recorded a few
I was choosing art over
honey, while making plenty
I was bigger, then,
people said, and they could see
me from far away
through their telescopes,
and sort of
floating, as well.
Kendall loved me,
moved in with me,
could tolerate me
at a time.
We had a dog named Triscuit
and a son named Rexi,
and I stayed home with them
on the week days
and on the weekends
I was Jesus Christ
would push breath
into the wind
and warmth into
is quite so cold
as the uncoiling
of your own
Most Nights, From Our Window, We Could Almost See the Moon
We could have planted
a White Ash
atop the amber
We could have scooped,
from the puddled
We could have left
We could have run
beside the dogs
never looking up.
I Have Only Seen an Uncooked Turkey Once
She stumbles out of the forest
a bottle of merlot.
Her baby sits on her cotton back
Fly, Mother! Fly!
She leaps into me,
her knees and bruising,
with the stones in her mouth,
the thin skin
above my sternum.
The baby falls from the mother’s back,
on my socked foot,
breaking its lean leg.
Can you not fly, Mother?
The turkey puts down her wine
at me and picks her child up in her quivering beak.
Something Resembling a Poem about Love
I’m tired today.
And I’ve forgotten how to write
I love this girl.
She’s got legs
and hair, and a face;
she has eyes.
She has a thin stomach.
She is soft.
when I hold her close
I take a little
of her heat
Shazia Ali is a Professor of English at Eastfield College in Dallas, Texas. Shazia was born in Karachi, Pakistan and spend her childhood in Dubai. As a teenager she returned to Karachi and worked there as a journalist for 3 years. She has been living in Dallas, TX for almost 17 years now. She received her Ph.D in Humanities and Literature from the University of Texas at Dallas and has been writing poetry and fiction for the past decade. She has been published in DFW Poets Anthology and Red River Literary Journal. Shazia gives voice to the Asian-Muslim immigrant experience and the disparate identity crisis of every immigrant.
The Color Yellow
That silly, bright color
Shining amongst the drabness
Of an ocean of colors.
It smiled at odd moments
And skipped through the paths
Of dull browns and gaudy reds.
It sparkled on the shiny cheeks
Of bashful, young brides.
It filled shattered homes
With a dash of joy
And a sprinkle of sunshine.
It bravely marched
Through darkened alleys
Between rioting mobs
And weeping families
As they rubbed their dead
With a blob of yellow
That silly, bright color.
I ask them
They ask me,
Where am I from?
Born in Asia, brought up in the Middle East,
Living in Texas
Calling myself American
Where am I from?
They ask me,
What is my language?
I dream in English, I cry in Urdu,
I spell “color” as “colour”
But I do not speak Arabic.
So, what is my language?
They ask me,
What is my religion?
I am a Muslim, who covers her hair,
Who smiles, laughs, and cries
And feels pain when impugn
Yes, my religion is Islam.
They ask me …
But I ask them,
Does my birth country
Make me a little less American?
The most years I have lived
Have been in the dry lands of Texas
Inhaling the scorching heat,
Walking barefoot on prickly grass.
I ask them,
Does my head gear
Change my language?
My words of love are spoken
In the same language as yours.
I have shed tears and lost words
When faced with pain like yours.
I ask them,
Does religion deform
And taint my soul?
I have prayed for peace
In days of terror.
I have asked God for help
In the stillness of foggy nights.
I ask them,
But they ask me again.
Mitchell Waldman's fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including The Waterhouse Review, Crack the Spine,The Houston Literary Review, Fiction Collective, The Faircloth Review, Epiphany, Wilderness House Literary Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and many other magazines and anthologies. Waldman is also the the author of the novel, A Face in the Moon, and the story collection, Petty Offenses and Crimes of the Heart (Wind Publications), and has served as Fiction Editor for Blue Lake Review. (For more info, see his website at http://mitchwaldman.homestead.com).
Every day there were
more and more reports
that the snow was coming.
And he would wait
propped by his window
searching for the first
crystal flakes of winter.
Locked in his room
he was impatient in his waiting--
with walnut cane
he would hobble through the streets
on rickety legs,
down to the diner
for his daily soup.
And then he'd walk back
as if his life were a clock
the streets a still life
of man with cane
in a world no longer his.
His eyes would meet no one's
only sweep past the rushing
flash of a coat or dress or boot.
Creeping back through the silence
back through the musty hallway
back to his room
feebly rubbing his hands by the stove
huddling in a blanket by the window
he would sit,
waiting for the snow.
of kitchen counters
you scurry across
I slam to squash
fleeing on wires for legs
your leprous body
screams to the cracks and corners
I slam so hard
great reasoning bug that I am
your life your crime
I crush inconvenience
or stuff it to show!
I'd burn a million
six million of your kind
so you don't find the sugar
but pray bow to the God in you
and with each smack of the hand
my soul lurks beside you
falls deeper in the cracks.
you got lost
on that road of yours
(and we got lost with you)
in your travels with Neal
in your taking on the world
needed someone to pull you back
show you the way
but you got lost
went to a place
you will never return
those days gone forever
gone gone gone
your words your life your world.
Come back, Jack,
Just Before the Light
The whispering winds breathe your name
echoing the words that rush from my lips
as I cry tears of longing
in the snow and rain and thunder,
wanting to reach out to you
across the expanse
of our scant and scattered lives,
so far apart
yet so close:
in the still silence of the early morning
just before the light
I carry you inside me
everywhere I go
in a secret pocket
in the hallowed ground
of my heart and soul,
my tender love.
We walk into
this dank dark place
trying to remember why we came
this swell of bodies
a carnival of faces
and exaggerated expressions
laughter coming from unseen corners
drinks spilling on the fabric
sorries and gleaming long toothed smiles
(don’t know where they’re looking)
and greasy haired slit-eyed stares
(no question where he’s looking)
arms covered with bracelets
talking in a non-stop blare
beer bellies rolling
high-heeled, boot steps aimed forward
dangling toward the edge
hanging on to the chipped bar’s edge
and then the call:
“Gather round, gather round!”
so the circle forms
sweaty, hot and smelly,
a match and the candle is lit
lights go off
no one breathes as
the child-baked cake with the number “50”
and the toy Jim Beam bottle on top
(“It’s her favorite,” the elfin one
with wide eyes said,
his palms turned up at his sides)
as a baby is rocked in her mother’s arms
the candle light in her eyes
and everyone sings off key
and sharp-edged limbs flail
the bar people
holding on to each other’s elbows
to keep from falling
remembering a time past
the music too old
floor too sticky
smiles too wide
laughs too loud
to forget the days
to return to that place
they think they used to be.
FERN G. Z. CARR is the President of Project Literacy Kelowna Society, a lawyer, teacher and past President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A Full Member of and former Poet-in-Residence for the League of Canadian Poets, this Pushcart Prize nominee composes and translates poetry in six languages including Mandarin Chinese. Carr has been published extensively world-wide from Finland to Mauritius. Honours include having been cited as a contributor to the Prakalpana Literary Movement in India as well as having had her work taught at West Virginia University, set to music by a Juno-nominated musician, and featured online in The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper. Her poem, “I Am”, was chosen by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate as Poem of the Month for Canada. Carr is thrilled to have another one of her poems currently orbiting the planet Mars aboard NASA’S MAVEN spacecraft. www.ferngzcarr.com
Iron bars do not a prison
Make love not
Peace in our
Money makes the world go
Round off to the nearest decimal
Place the ring on her finger and repeat after
Me? I never touch the
Stuff that dreams are made
Of course I don't
Step to the front of the
Fire burn and cauldron
Wrap up the
One swallow does not a summer
Merry Christmas one and
All for one and one for
All hell broke
Loose lips sink
"Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence." *
* Tales of a Wayside Inn. Part iii. The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth. iv.
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Annis Cassells is a writer, teacher, and life coach in Bakersfield, CA. In 2015 she began to claim her voice as a poet with a poem published in Yellow Chair Review. Her first short story was published in Scarlet Leaf Review. Annis facilitates memoir writing classes for senior adults and conducts writing workshops through her local Art for Healing Program. She is a contributor in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiration for the Young at Heart. Annis is a member of Writers of Kern, a branch of the California Writers Club. Read her blog at www.thedaymaker.blogspot.com.
Bruised blueberry tears
From windowpane eyes
Darken my breasts
What roadblocks will rare up today?
Sorry we just rented that apartment
Haven’t had time to take down the sign
My little brown kids are too young
My little brown kids are too old
You need a bank account
or cash to get that TV
What have I done
do not see me
do not know who I am
The Cassells home-place cellar,
A real cellar -- earthen-floored,
must-scented , raven-aired.
Grandma Annie Cass - sells
and ten-year-old me,
heave worn wooden doors,
throw daylight underground,
pick our way down brick slab steps,
stand still, let our eyes adjust.
Bound for thick, unpainted plank shelves
Jammed against the far wall.
For a dusty jug
amongst canned pickles, peaches, beans.
a half-pint jelly jar one-quarter full,
announces, “grape juice.”
A long dark liquid sip
the almost-empty jar
“Just a little now.
It makes you feel all warm inside.”
her eager knobby fingers for the rest
as the jar leaves my lips.
Hugging peaches and pickles,
like nothing else ever happened down there.
Don’t Slice My Bread
Don’t slice my bread
Measured segments bore me
The best we can hope for, a yeast bubble
Or slight deviation in height
Let me savor haphazard hunks
Inhale the yeasty aroma
of finger-hold fissures
Oozing melted butter.
Let me gouge out boulders
Leave none untried,
Avoided or ignored.
Let me taste it all
In its simplicity
In its complexity
Stale or fresh,
The staff and stuff
Peauladd Huy was born in Phnom Penh. Her latest work, published by Connotation Press: An Online Artifact was nominated for the Sundress "Best of the Net," the Dzanc "Best of the Net," and the Pushcart Prize. And with deep gratitude to Connotation Press she’ll have a book, forthcoming soon.
The earth opens. The earth closes
Its double doors like a tomb
Preservation; its past
Companions. Dark from the foothill, running
Along the scrub weeds to the fruit woods turning
After the wooden houses, practically
The whole cluster thrown back the vanishing
In rapid bloom, more ruined than blooming
Than the coloring, the way the bright petals
Feathering off, the way the Argus once flocking
Off those couldn’t be salvaged, I hear the loosening
Light in the canopy, the great fig
From deep shadow, the ancients moaning
The descending, and the losses’
Asylum thrown in fleeing splendor--
I was young. I’d asked for flight—more than once
I have stood in their threshold
Reaching in, calculating with conviction
The randomnesses of my two hands to the multitude
Colors still in light, still not yet assimilated
Into the earth
Mounds, each bloom--
Autumn. The New Jersey tropical’s almost bare
Inside the frosted glass, but for a few lilies
Then outside the season’s arc, I watch the falling pattern
Themselves at the perpetualness of a sufferance, the winded; its history
Of travel at one arrival of an ending, ground.
Grounded, like detritus gives the forest floor
This morning, alone, I watch a young boy raise his hands to the fallen
In driftage, turning over to the rest, scattering the ground
As if giving a way home.
Is it the moon you hear swimming
Slowly in me? A river’s flooded; isn’t it
Drowning? Sinking like a stone
Skipped to plummet
Beneath the waves
Over the ragged body sinks.
Sink. I know where the bottom is.
It is dark, thick and taken
The many hands below surface
(Skimming) as if blind
I am searching for vision; feeling out the fog
So thick no tree can rise.
For the Rest of the Children: Cry if You Must
No one will hear in this dark.
It’s thus as I now stand, however
Then I dropped quickly to my knees.
I cried for mercy.
I cried for my mother and father.
I cried for justice
That had denied me, and still
I couldn’t help but hoped
For them. At the time, not much I wanted
And not much I knew of war,
Words about war, about America, about freedom
To bomb, about the Vietcong, about the Khmer Rouge
And their purpose to slaughter because my immediate elders had been scattered
Detained, or sent so far into the rice fields.
There was no way to know then
Life had given me death
After death until the rest are now
Captives in my dream of dream.
There are so many.
To count a million is hard
Yet two, for a second grader.
It’s getting crowded.
It’s getting hot with all the angel faces
Burning before me. Naturally, I was scared,
Didn’t know what to do, and couldn’t
Find proper words because
So many were put in my mouth.
I went quiet I went still I went numb
I went dumb
Until my baby cried.
I wake up and it’s still dark:
Everything is the same, pale curtains
Breathing calmly, the door is open—as it must
After the war, so as no one is left out or in--
But no one follows through.
Don’t be sad.
My purpose is not here.
Though, the first few times, I didn’t know what to feel
Or what to do with all their breaths floating me.
It’s quiet outside
Again something I am drawn to.
There’s just nothing
I can do: I must go wherever
They blow on me.
So back to the fog,
To the millions lost
Still searching throats.