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.

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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.

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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

April Diary

Poetry
Margaret Young


Photo Credit: Marju Randmer/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

1.

Carlos comes in, shakes snow from his paws,
crunches some California Natural then sits
to lick his crotch with that perfect vertical
leg thing all cats do.
Because I teach
pop culture I feel compelled to read
someone’s review of the new Britney Spears
album so then of course I have to watch at least
two videos and now she’s starring in my fantasy
Eva Tanguay biopic, dressed in feathers
or pennies, kissing fellow vaudevillians
singing I don’t care.

2.

There you go again, heart.
I don’t thank you, you and breath
enough for all you do. We liked
those vernal pools, skunk cabbages
no bigger than eggs, pale scrim
of last year’s beech leaves, snow-melt,
mud and granite blocks from walls
and glaciers, granite patched and pied
with lichen, moss.

3.

Cake for breakfast, followed by yoga class.
Lots of inversions, my mind clear
of Britney Spears until shavasana,
corpse pose, all of us trying to think about
elephants, their strength and grace,
I’m lying there and she drives out
the elephants with dancing.

Out in the woods the stream’s
still talking to the downed
cedar. And in the wires and air
the music goes around.

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Margaret Young is the author of three collections of poetry, Willow from the Willow (Cleveland State Poetry Center), Almond Town (Bright Hill Press), and Blight Summer (Finishing Line Press). She teaches at the Global Center for Advanced Studies and lives in Beverly, Massachusetts. Email: margaret7414[at]hotmail.com

Two Poems

Poetry
Christine Wright


Photo Credit: Craig Piersma/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Portrait of a 21st Century Man

his limbs were festooned with images of Jason Freddy Michael inattentively drawn like a teenager bored in class. there was a softness about him, as if a lean and wiry adolescence had melted under a decade and a half of bad decisions and disappointments. he has a crush on me I told a guy friend who said OH NO NOT YOU and erupted in a laugh borne of three beers and ten years of friendship. he smoked (which I hated) but he used a vape (grape) so his clothes didn’t reek and neither did his breath. at least not when he kissed me. when I showed my girlfriend his photo, I said he isn’t not cute which isn’t exactly a compliment but I had no space. my ventricles were clogged with remnants of old sexual tension and unsatisfactory sex. my atria choked on distant pseudo-intimate conversations. my vena cava overflowed with men’s guilt dishonesty anxiety and entitlement like unwanted souvenirs. yet when he said the word pussy I ached. you have a beautiful pussy I love to lick your pussy touch your pussy for me. I dimmed the lights so I didn’t have to look at him then sprawled naked on the sofa, biting the tattoo of the Joker on his shoulder when I came.

 

Good-bye

watching you
in your black
Calvin Klein
boxer briefs

stalk the room
back and forth
brushing your teeth
snapping a watch
on your wrist

muscles flexing
as you pull a
fitted jacket
over your head
in the perfect
shade of blue

I wish I could
take your picture
without you knowing
so I could remember
this moment

the morning after
both of us sober
and your body
as beautiful
as it had been
last night

pencil

Christine Wright is a former therapist, rock journalist, and ecommerce business tycoon (darn that economic collapse!). Now, she’s a writer, actor and greyhound whisperer who likes power tools, red shoes, and white wine. You can learn more at her new website and follow her on twitter @WrightChrisL. Email: christinewright330[at]gmail.com