Five Poems

Poetry
Mandy Haggith


Photo Credit: Alex Schwab/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Araucaria

how still
still
still they stand

They have no rustling, fiddling leaves. They are poised. Calm. Open to the sky’s endless moods. Pumping quietly, breathing in what we expire. Perhaps preparing to dance. In their homeland they burn. They take sanctuary here, finger the breeze tenderly, tentatively. They have come with their fear and hold it like all parents. They cannot let it go. They know what happens in the world. They carry part of their forest here. They bring Gondwanaland. They give us the past.

how?
how they stand
still
stand
stand
still stand

Untarnished by our wonderings, they know no why at all. They embody one how and two wheres. But all the whens we can imagine and more are in the needles of just a single branch. Each is a treeful of answers to the only question worth asking. I ask it over and over. They answer with whorl upon whorl of time, and all the answers are the same. Now and then. Now, and then. Now. And then.

they stand how?
still
still
they stand still

 

Coco de Mer — Lodoicea maldivica

This is monkey Mojo’s hot house.
It’s tropics in a box.
We bathe in the steamy green,
dining on sea-coconut jelly
from a coconut bowl with a coconut spoon,
thatching our roof with palm leaves.

It’s a jungle of silence,
no breeze to tease the leaves to sound,
no insect whine, no bird calls from the canopy.
Just a flowering ginger, attended by an ant
and monkey Mojo whispering
his eerie, lush, lush, hush.

 

Greenhouse denial

‘Most of the things here are fake’,
says a boy with a big plastic gun.
His father remonstrates, ‘No, they’re not.
It’s the Botanical Gardens. All the plants
are natural. That’s the deal.’

The boy takes aim at a cycad.
Since long before the dinosaurs
its kind has survived extinctions,
earthquakes, meteors—it’s very real.
‘Fake,’ he says—and fires.

 

Pitus withami

John Playfair, ‘The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time.’

Out of fossil depths
a 320-million-year-old tree
hauled up from a carboniferous swamp
perches on this precipitous edge of time’s ravine.

I am daring myself to peer down into the abyss
giddy with the vertiginous height
of this fleeting moment
of one brief life.

 

Triptych

a tree’s shadow on snow

the tree itself

words about a tree

pencil

Mandy Haggith is a writer and environmental activist living in Assynt, in the Scottish Highlands. Her poetry collections include letting light in, Castings and A-B-Tree, a celebration of the Gaelic Tree Alphabet written while poet in residence at Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens. She is the editor of Into the Forest, an anthology of tree poetry. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of the Highlands and Islands and also writes novels and plays. Email: hag[at]mandyhaggith.net

Three Poems

Poetry
Holly Day


Photo Credit: Ikhlasul Amal/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

The Letters Keep Coming

cringe. draw away from me out
of me slough away
promises burn holes
in dreams I know
you, silent in the darkened hall, white armor
stripped and revealed to be paste. tell me why
I need you. don’t leave me yet. run. pull

yourself off of me out of me get
as far as you can from
me, I exile you because
I know. once a week

she calls me to let me know you’re still
sleeping with her, tells me about
the life you have planned
for the two of you. she wants forgiveness.
she wants to know if I’m okay with all
of this.

I tell her I’m fine

 

White Knight

it would be easier to think of my husband as being a white knight
if I wasn’t the one always killing spiders, digging holes for dead pets
waking up the middle of the night with babies and
going to work every day. If it wasn’t me putting food on the table
every night, I could maybe see him as some sort of hero.

I’m not sure why. My mother used to tell me that
being a wife and being a mother were two very similar things
that no matter how hard a wife works, she still has to pamper
her husband. I don’t believe this, but I still do it.

I think of the lessons my daughter is learning
from watching me clean crumbs up after my husband
at lunch, the way I shut down and just take it when he accuses me
of not contributing anything to the family, the horrible things he calls me,
his constant harping on the state of my hair and my weight. I want
to put my hands over her ears, fill her head instead with

Disney images of princesses
being worshiped by handsome princes
of housecleaning mice and flowers
that never stop blooming.
but mostly I want her to know
about the princes.

 

The Spot

Each day with the sun, I am up, running to each
new special spot in the yard,
uncovering patches of
frozen leaves and snow to look

at the little green buds waiting to
burst forth with the spring. Six months under

the snow and I, too, am ready to leap
forth into the sunshine, to surround
myself with yellow Thunbergia, orange
poppies and frilly red peonies. I breathe warm air
on the tightly-
curled buds, wish them life.

pencil

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History.   Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press),  I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), and A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing) will be out late 2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press. Email: lalena[at]bitstream.net

The Dunes

Broker’s Pick
D.W. Moody


Photo Credit: Bernd Thaller/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

the dust swirled around us
the house
lost in view
behind hills of sand
we ducked and hid
winding our way
through the maze of hills
unseen from the world
the others somewhere behind
lost around
one or another turn
there in the sand
that caked my skin
I touched your hair
looked into your eyes
desired what my mouth could not say
as you turned
to the sounds of the others coming
I let you slip from my hand
like the grains of sand blowing through our hair

pencil

D.W. Moody grew up between California and the Midwest, lived on the streets, hitchhiked around the country, and held a variety of jobs in Kansas and Southern California until settling into life as a librarian. His poems have appeared in Shemom, The Avalon Literary Review, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. As a new father, life is busy juggling the demands of work and being a committed parent: he writes when he can. Email: d.w.moodysmailbox[at]gmail.com

Four Poems

Poetry
Diane Webster


Photo Credit: Johannes Freund/Flickr (CC-by)

Knife Etchings

The knife etches
grooves into glass
like cuts of initials
into aspen tree
bark scarred
forever in love
by AB + PS
now logged
and split leaving
shards of splintered
memories behind
like shavings,
like sawdust.

 

Shivers/Slivers

When the sculptor’s hammer
rings against the metal chisel
carving stone beneath its blade,
reverberation tingles her fingers
like tiny orgasmic ripples
signaling the start of art

exploding like shivers/slivers
of dislodged stone firing
into her plastic face guard
like fireworks dislodging night darkness
to fingers desiring a touch of the masterpiece.

 

Drives to Work in Snow

Snow in the parking lot
squeaks as tires tread
across whiteness searching
for white parallel lines
marking space for parking—
first one parked sets the grid
in motion for late starters.

Never knew so many people
walked until coming-and-going trails
moonwalk across the snow
where discovered by its purple color
kicked loose beneath a waffle boot track
like a possible treasure discovered
washed up on a storm-washed shore
a pacifier lies in sparkling snow.

Morning’s silence shivers through air
until a snow shovel scrapes against
raw sidewalk somewhere in the next block.

 

Digital Family

If photos aren’t taken,
a family doesn’t exist.

No past scolding,
“You should have…”

No standing captured
the way one was then
and not allowed to move
for fear of blurring
the picture for generations.

In the present now
to cast shadows,
to hold two fingers behind
smiling people’s heads,
to stick out a tongue
or to deliberately
close one’s eyes.

Now you can be erased
so you never existed
in the family’s album.

pencil

Diane Webster enjoys the challenge of picturing images into words to fit her poems. If she can envision her poem, she can write what she sees and her readers can visualize her ideas. That’s the excitement of writing. Her work has appeared in The Hurricane Review, Eunoia Review, Illya’s Honey, and other literary magazines. Email: diaweb[at]hotmail.com

Two Poems

Poetry
Donna Pucciani


Photo Credit: Greger Ravik/Flickr (CC-by)

Landscape, Sorrento

Ages ago, Sorrento
made a pact with the sea:

I give you lemons,
you give me the bay.

Limoncello and cobblestones
coexist with fish and salt.

Citrus soaps and souvenirs
gird the waves yellow

while Vesuvius sleeps
like a beached whale

on an aqua sky,
one eye half-open,

and inside,
lava boiling in its bowels.

For now, a cliffside view of shoreline
and a lemon sorbet.

 

Less is More

We speak of our aging bodies:
which part has decomposed
most recently. Nursing a bad knee,
hooked up to hearing aids, eyeglasses,
artificial joints, canes and walkers,
wearing marshmallow shoes
and dated woolen caps, we are
comical indeed, drawing derision
from the young.

Bookstores have become museums,
the symphony a sea of gray heads.
Goodbye to radios, the cinema, newspapers,
landlines, and typewriters that clacked
clustered syllables.

So we progress towards death
as our parents and their parents did
before them, falling asleep in favorite chairs,
dawdling instead of walking,
driving cars as old and battered as we,
listening to the obsolete music
of our youth.

The years gather us in like a flock
of geese, at once foolish and determined
to walk in our own webbed waddle
against the traffic and back into
the seasons in which we’ve loved life
far too much for our own good.

pencil

Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry worldwide in such journals as Shi Chao Poetry, Poetry Salzburg, Istanbul Literary Review, Gradiva, and Acumen. A seven-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, her most recent book of poems is Edges. Email: dpucciani[at]yahoo.com

Miscarriage

Poetry
Jared Pearce


Photo Credit: Erik Terdal/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

There are no reasons for ill-timing—
how the boy slammed the window
only to notice the bat between the pane
and screen, folding itself into the deepest
corner from the sun, how I came

slowly with a towel to launch him
free from the window but he wrangled
the netting to and fro, with his right
hook he plumbed for any slight passage,

and we waited for him to stop kicking
because we didn’t want to chase him
through the house until he calmed,
my wife having to barricade her bedroom
against the squeak of his hunger,

and finally hashed-out, he rested low
where I clutched his hot body,
my palms the rough uterus of a last
darkness, and when I wanted him

to streak anew the blistered sky,
he flopped between the poppies
and nicotiana, just the spot
where one steps from the walk
to the lawn, where our shortcut

stands to save us all a lot of life,
and there he lies, heart smoldering,
having thrashed its silk-lined cage.
We meant things only good—

only a brief pass of discomfort, then joy;
we meant to carry-out our love
so it would soar from our arms,
so it would graze a lush planet.

pencil

Some of Jared Pearce’s poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Shot Glass, DIAGRAM, Straylight, Streetcake, and The Ear. His debut collection, The Annotated Murder of One, is due from Aubade Press in September. Email: pearcecjared[at]gmail.com

Three Poems

Poetry
K. M. Lighthouse


Photo Credit: Biodiversity Heritage Library/Flickr (CC-by)

Dust to Dust

My mother closes the net
and brandishes bunched mesh.
Autumnal orange on muted
brown draws my fingers in
while she cautions: Don’t
touch the butterfly dust
or she’ll forget to fly. 
I pull my hand back and ask,
Am I covered in butterfly dust?
She laughs, saying,
Yes, so don’t let strangers
touch you.
I know we are
the butterfly’s strangers.

I inspect my skin
for powdery butterfly scales
and wonder if that’s where my color
comes from.
Perhaps, rubbing deeper than that,
I would become translucent,
skin cracked and torn
like crinkled insect exoskeletons
on windowsills.

When the school year returns,
long-sleeved shirts in my closet
multiply—hanging like empty cocoons—
and I keep my distance,
the avoidance
of touch my dress code.
Older girls show off
shaved legs, bare of gold-
brown fuzz, and I imagine,
if the dust is anywhere,
it’s in our hair.
I ask them, who touched you?
I ask them if they remember to fly.

And arranged in orderly rows
of desks, girls match
butterflies pinned under glass—
stiff in pretty appeasement—
the neat lines of names read the same:
Monarch, Peacock, Lady, Swallowtail;
Monique, Patricia, Lacy, Sharon.

Everyone begins to look like strangers—
my brother sprouts thick, black hairs
the color of necrosis; my mother
grays like dirty snow.
At dinner, I keep my hands
in my lap; I run from Auntie’s kisses
and Grandpa’s bristly hugs,
but even that’s of no use.
As dust settles
on the shelves of untouched limbs,
I am still forgetting to fly,
or perhaps I never flew at all.

 

When I Am Wife, I Am Also Daughter

She asks me to repeat myself every time
she doesn’t understand. She says,
I feel old. She says, I feel
alien around you. She asks if my body
will change with my hormone treatments.

Her client bribes her to wipe the tops of my shelves,
look at the cloth, make a face.
When she demonstrates, I almost think
she is serious.

She doesn’t remember when the three of us
get high the weekend she’s here, but she says,
You have gotten so beautiful. You 
know that, don’t you? When I say, I can’t
see what I am, she asks me
to repeat myself.

When you get a headache, I take
cues from your mom. I realize how much I trust
you to be a body
when she is absent.

Your mom suggests we perform Reiki,
but neither of us know how. She gives directions
for both of us to pull from your body, but
suddenly I am leading it—she pushes
and I pull from your feet.

She doesn’t understand why I buy
the painting of brain waves as a forest
but says she likes to see me fall
in love.

I do not forget that, when the women come
to save me, she’s the one who spends
the most time in our apartment.

My period started like clockwork, I tell her,
and she just smiles before turning
to catch her plane.

 

An Hour from Canada

Ten days before I tie my tubes,
I read poems about you aloud and omit nothing;
your meteorite eyes are wet as you say
I forgot how much I love you,
but I assume you’re talking to the baby.

I thought you always liked women more
you say at the stove—baby over shoulder
like you’ve always been a mom,
though birth did not change you.

Corn on the cob turns
to mush in boiling water while we wait
for your brother. You’re celibate,
you mention twice, and love
being single.
You live on nine acres of solar panels
and straw gardens where we banter
with the baby while our eyes are open.
Tell me what you’ve read—I want 
a mind like yours, 
so I’ll send a book from every genre.

Your stepdad offers your brother as a human
heater twice, once after I say I’m married.
There’s a large bottle of cheap table wine,
but I drink your glass
while you pump milk and it squirts
like a sprinkler.
I only use wine when I cook—
white wine—only when I cook.

In the morning, your bare feet and mine
look similar—tiny purple remnants
of nail polish months old—and I am
an armchair for the baby.
We listen to podcasts about bees
on the way to the farmer’s market
where we pretend to be lovers
and say we don’t know yet when vendors ask
if the baby is a boy.

I see spiral shell earrings but don’t have cash,
so I use credit for blackberry beet wine and chive plants
whose flowers taste of onions.
You look like you’ve lost weight
you say in the car, and I have,
but when the breeze is enough for a sweatshirt,
I put on one that reminds me of you,
and in the mirror, I almost look
pregnant.

pencil

K. M. Lighthouse graduated from the University of Utah and worked as the senior poetry director of enormous rooms for two years but has since made the Pacific Northwest a home. The poet is the author of two chapbooks, The Observer Effect and you are an ambiguous pronoun. Lighthouse’s other works appeared in From Sac, Blue Lake Review, Mapping Salt Lake City, and Sonic Boom. K. M. Lighthouse is an assistant organizer with Portland’s Eastside Poetry Workshop and a member of High Priestesses of Poetry. Email: kassandra.lighthouse[at]gmail.com

Two Poems

Poetry
Erren Kelly


Photo Credit: Hernán Piñera/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Disco Retro

i loved the music
though seeing people
born when carter was president
made me feel old
my price for being big
and black
was getting mistaken repeatedly
by ms. dkny blondie
for a security guard
i’d stand against the wall
the groove jumping inside me
until ms. blondie
tapped me on the shoulder

“c’mon dance with me
you know you wanna do it.”

i tried to tell her genetics
weren’t kind to me
but she smiled sweet
and grabbed my hand
and away we went

 

The Young Lovers

They make us forget about
The world
They make us forget that
Guns are the real rulers
They remind us that love conquers
All, even when it doesn’t seem
That way, sometimes

And they take each other’s
Hand
As the world watches
their colors bleed into
Paradise
Even as the world burns
Because spectacle is
Sometimes better than the truth

We look at the young lovers
And still find hope in

A Poem

pencil

Email: errenkelly76[at]yahoo.com

Hank

Poetry
John Grey


Photo Credit: byronv2/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

In summer and fall,
he hounds the festivals,
guitar strapped to his back,
repertoire
as ancient as the Appalachians
and the streets of London
at the time of the plague.

He’s not invited exactly,
but he’s been doing this for years,
his features leathered
by many days outdoors,
his long gray hair tethered in a ponytail.

Folks know his face
even if they don’t know his name,
and his cracked voice warbling
“Silver Dagger” or “All My Trials”
is as familiar as a blanket on the grass.
The organizers don’t pay him.
He scrapes together
the coins, the notes,
passersby toss in his battered hat.

Sometimes, come winter
he hocks his guitar
for a few bucks
to pay his sister
while he sleeps in a heap
on her parlor floor.

She hasn’t the heart
to toss him out in the cold.
Besides, come Christmas,
with all the family gathered,
he sings, a cappella,
“The First Noel.”
He sings all six verses
when one is more than enough.

pencil

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly. Email: jgrey5790[at]gmail.com

The Strings of Demi-Gods

Poetry
Clara Burghelea


Photo Credit: Ali Devine/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

In Rm. Valcea, Romania,
the myth about the womanly rib
persists.

My father scolds me for raising
a daughter who shaves her nape,
my grandmothers tell me to be good
every time I travel.
That husband of yours is a treasure.
My brother lights a candle
for my wandering heart
every Sunday, then puts on
his acting hat, rehearsing for hours.
My son tells me I need to ask
for permission because every house
has a man, every realm has a king.
I kiss his long lashes
and promise him a world
of no rules.
An aunt comes for coffee
and whispers she knows
the spell of binding.
I have already given myself.
To another?
I wish I could tell her
that words own me more
than love, in a greedy, ruthless
way, as no man ever
began to understand.
The flesh has learned to bear
the massive burden of the heart,
the blankets of domestic life
and the strings of demi-gods.

In Rm. Valcea, Romania,
I am a woman of my own ribs,
all 12 pairs made of word bones.

pencil

Clara Burghelea is a Scott James and Jerry Cain Creative Writing and Social Media Fellow from Romania. She is Editor at Large of Village of Crickets and an MFA candidate at Adelphi University. Her poems and fiction have been published in Peacock Journal, Full of Crow Press, Quail Bell Magazine, Ambit Magazine, The Write Launch and elsewhere. She lives in New York. Email: fay_witty[at]yahoo.com