Pocket-Sized Compliments

Poetry
Theresa Kelly


Photo Credit:  Jessica Suárez/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Photo Credit: Jessica Suárez/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

I keep your compliments in my pocket
On the bad days, I pull them out and wipe off the dust
to remind me.
On the good days, I try to write you a poem,
but the words blend together and get lost in my hands
I’ve only ever written poems about panic and heartbreak.
I talk about everything, but I lack the ability
to turn you into a metaphor.

pencilTheresa Kelly is a 2016 graduate of West Chester University. She received her degree in English secondary education. She has previously been published in Lip, Literati, Daedalus, and Toasted Cheese. Email: theresajoykelly[at]hotmail.com

The Curse

Poetry
Marchell Dyon


Photo Credit: halfrain/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Photo Credit: halfrain/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

In her prehistoric thinking if no one stoned her
She would throw herself against the rocks
From her arriving spring into the night

She ran away from the moon’s light hunting her every step
She wanted to remain as she was
She did not believe in the evolution of womankind

She wanted her chest not to sprout and flower
She wanted the red wetness between her thighs to stop
You are a woman now, was all the advice

Her grandmother gave with a smile
No more make-believe but woman’s work
No more dolls but babies at your breast

Her older sister had warned her about the curse
Seven times Cain, said her older sister
She looks back at the moon calling her

She tried to shut her ears to the sweet lull of the moon
She knew she could not stay forever hidden from the goddess
But she was determined to try

pencilMarchell Dyon is a disabled poet and budding storyteller. She believes her disability has inspired her creative spark. Her poetry has been published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Full of Crow Poetry Magazine, Rainbow Rose Ezine, Blue Lake Review, A Little Poetry, Medusa’s Kitchen, The Stray Branch, Strange Horizons, Mused Bella Online, Convergence Literary Journal, Silver Blade Magazine and Torrid Literature Journal. She is from Chicago, IL. Email: marchelldyon[at]yahoo.com

Two Poems

Poetry
Diane Webster


Photo Credit: Ed Kennedy/Flickr (CC-by)

Photo Credit: Ed Kennedy/Flickr (CC-by)

 

Frozen Flat

Valentine’s Day the deflated
snowman and Santa blobs
lie frozen in the lawn
like stepped-on chocolate pieces
still covered in wrappers
after the Halloween frenzy
to haul candy beggings
back home to savor
until Christmas stockings bulge
more, more, more
and the groundhog sees his shadow
for six weeks more of winter
pooled around the low profile
inflatables smiling in snow;
hand across a flat heart.

 

Hermit Myth

Of course hermits are wise old men
unconcerned with other people’s issues.
They remain mysterious in solitude
because most people can’t stand
a moment not connected
to cell phone, TV, internet and chat rooms.
Hermit is a profession to aspire to:
if you’re lucky, no one knows you exist,
if they do, they think you’re crazy
and give you the moniker of ghost
of the woods kind of like Bigfoot,
fun to leave footprints, tufts of fur
and not be seen except in nightmares
or corners of eyes, then gone.

pencilDiane 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

Three Poems

Poetry
Bobbi Sinha-Morey


Photo Credit: Joey Hamidon/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Photo Credit: Joey Hamidon/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

 

The Faint Scent Of Lemon

My father sits on the porch
smoking his weed, his skin clean
as the morning with the faint scent
of lemon. Brownies beside him,
walnuts and pork rind. He seldom
shows love; doesn’t know how.
If he puts his arm around you it’s
a bear hug, rough-tongued but milky
and salty too. Mostly he is alone,
living out here by himself, keeping
the sharp sting of his solitary labors
hidden, constantly eating even though
he’s so skinny. He’s like a cloved
orange shut inside a drawer with all
the spikes turned inwards except for
a few rare moments, when everything
comes together. Silent prayer is too
much of an effort for him and he wears
the past like a noose of lead around
his neck. I wish I could untie it for him.
The slim envelope of his soul flaps
over his head, and I wish I didn’t have
to see him wither away. One night on
Thursday, at ten p.m., the door of my
room opened on its own, a gust of
energy coming in, and I knew he had
died. It was him.

 

Without A Home

Without a home and my
nine-month-old baby brother
born in a shed, I wake after
sleeping under the trees,
my hair in tangles and twigs,
me covered in gooseflesh.
These eyes roam the forest
in memory, where I’ve had
to live with my small family.
I sit there shivering, scraps
from a church luncheon on
a paper plate, eaten in agonizing
crumbs by a fate I’d never thought
we’d see. The coldness of the wet
winter weather, rain puddles
collecting a glassy sage soup.
I eat this limpid air, wishing
there were a god to lift us away
from here. On days when you
don’t see the shy, mild sun
we live in the earthly twilight,
a darkness that lasts.

 

Boulder, Utah

Far away from my home—
fireflies on a dusk lawn,
and sunset ambling through
the pines, I’m now alone with
two of my friends stranded in
a dry land with only peelu to
chew on, a plant pleasant enough
to taste, to provide water while
we walk miles each day in the sun.
By night we huddle closely for
warmth trying to sleep on flat rock.
At times like this I dream of the
orange heads of California poppies
glowing like small fires in the under-
brush. In the day, after Lucy has
caught a fish in the river, each one
of  us try to make fire with two pieces
of rock. Me with no survival skills
feel my arms growing tired, not wanting
to give up, then I hear other voices float
in like a wave on the shore telling me
to try just a little bit more. Soon a little
smoking bird’s nest grew and the fire
rose higher when I gently whispered
into it with my breath. We ate dinner
that night, swam in the river, a cooler
light on our skin, a peaceful moon
folding us in.

pencilBobbi Sinha-Morey‘s poetry has appeared in a variety of places such as Plainsongs, Taproot Literary Review, The Path, Orbis, The Laughing Dog, and Knot Magazine, among others. Her books of poetry are available at Write Words, Inc. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net. Email: isedmorey1[at]aol.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Wern Hao See


Photo Credit: Justin Hall/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Photo Credit: Justin Hall/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Resolutions

We scratch an inventory list of promises, made at the end
of another year, broken like the lesser reflections of ourselves

which we do not dare to cast eyes upon. The stone tablet stares blankly at us
staring at some better tomorrow, tunneling ahead into shadow.

Even before the first step, we have cast our lanterns beyond
our reach, blinded to the ink we have spilled over stone.

All there is left to do is to stumble with resolution, headfirst
against the regrets caving into our skulls.

“Never again, never again, never again” bleeding from our mouths,
the only words we know shaped by the tongues of our youth.

 

Vacated

His office pass lies in the recesses
of the bedroom drawer

like a card from a former lover
which he can’t bear to see or shred.

The neighbours heard his last goodbye
wheeling across the corridor.

The newspapers barricade the gate,
each roll marking the days

since departure.
The sign on the door still reads

“May God bless those
who dwell within this house.”

Unemployment trickles up
from man to deity.

The potted plants sit by the window,
listening to the raindrops.

Their leaves are yellowed in the yearning
of what they cannot have any longer.

 

Postcard from Miami

(I)

Brave is the man
with bohemian ropes wrung
down his scalp, jerking
rusty joints with the pull
of tidal puppet strings
and reggae in a foreign tongue
he can’t yet sing.

His dance is for an audience of one,
who has long since scampered off
to pant and lick at thighs
of unsuspecting strangers.

(II)

A man came up to tell me
it costs thirteen dollars
for a seat here.

Wondering at the gaping void
of his shades, unsure
where to look, I wanted
to tell him:

This is not paradise.
God does not charge so much
to lie on window shutter
plastic chairs barricaded by
umbrellas filtering
sunlight through shadow.

Instead, I murmured an apology
and moved from the cushion
to crackling earth.
Condemned and evicted,

I scurried away,
punching cupcake craters
into the glittering ground.
Behind me,

Black men cloaked in bleached overalls
rake at sand, flattening footprints
and castles bearing plastic flags
in a single heave.

pencilSee Wern Hao is pursuing Law and Liberal Arts at the National University of Singapore and Yale-NUS College. His works have been featured in anthologies such as A Luxury We Must Afford, Words: Lost and Found and This Is Not A Safety Barrier. Email: seewh[at]hotmail.com

Two Poems

Poetry
Theresa Kelly


Photo Credit: Valentina Volavia/Flickr (CC-by)

Photo Credit: Valentina Volavia/Flickr (CC-by)

When I told you I was thinking about going to therapy, you told me to suck it up.

Your sadness was not worth more than mine, simply
because it had been around longer.
You should not have slammed the door in my face.

You should have opened it, lovingly,
draped a blanket around my shoulder,
made me a cup of cocoa.

With you as my example,
it was clear that I was going
to be here a while.

 

grief

two years later, and this grief
is a surprise wave,
hitting you on the way out of the ocean,
dragging you back in,
back under.

you break the surface,
breathe in the air,
but the ocean water left
in your mouth
tastes like ashes-to-ashes,
like dust-to-dust

you wonder if
you can breathe underwater

pencilTheresa Kelly is a fourth-year student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania majoring in English literature secondary education. She was previously the editor-in-chief of her college newspaper. She has been published in Lip Magazine, Daedalus Literary Magazine, Literati, and the December 2015 edition of Toasted Cheese. Email: theresajoykelly[at]hotmail.com

This Is a Psalm of Pavement

Poetry
Jeff Burt


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

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

This is a psalm of pavement, of switchtrack-abandoned
graffiti and graphic arts, coffins, chain-smoking,
knives of a meth-man’s ribs, needle stuck in the arm
of open soil between two slabs of cement,
a scrap of a love letter from daughter to mother,

a scrap between a homeless couple on who gets the bike
found in the weeds by the willows.
This is a psalm of pavement, the slow shush of shoes
as they head for sunlight in morning,
the tick of parking meters as they heat,

cinnamon-scented carnations
set out in white painter pails
and sweet williams cowering beneath
like violence-violated sons,
the bistro tables covered with lattes,

blackbirds pecking for crumbs,
young women with wet hair rushing to make work on time,
an old Mexican fisherman struggling with his poles
tipping in the basket on his bike
as he crosses the meridian,

time stopped between shadow and light.
For the day that starts out wrong
for the many who look at rectangles below their feet
when their life circles in emptiness,
that their sight might be lifted

to the bright white tips of gulls circling over waters,
the soft yellow sandstone on the cliff,
I am the man with his baby strapped to his chest
who walked the long night cooing, through cries,
a psalm about this wonderful world.

pencilJeff Burt grew up in Wisconsin, and found a home in California, though the landscapes of the Midwest still populate much of his writing. He has work in or forthcoming in Clerestory, Agave, The Nervous Breakdown, Eclectica, Amarillo Bay, and Storm Cellar, won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award, and been nominated for a Best of the Net Award. Email: jeff-burt[at]sbcglobal.net

Five Poems

Poetry
Lana Bella


Photo Credit: Sean Hayford Oleary/Flickr (CC-by)

Photo Credit: Sean Hayford Oleary/Flickr (CC-by)

Life Flight

I traverse
through this shitty place,
stepping on the vertebrae of my own noisy ghost,
its fingers yawn with exposed skin
scraping across the asphalt
beneath my feet like rodents with calluses
tuning a craggy madrigal,

night drops down on the splints of
grass-shorn bed,
I look up to the sky, tracing my eyes across
where the dew-capped hills
are a full measure colder than here,
below it, there is a narrow brook
the long veins of home trickling beneath
the wilting ornamental kale,

my blood floods in,
begging for the kind of happiness that shifts
toward home, toward the tides and storm,
toward the bohemian bent of
the woodpeckers pecking
the soggy woods that is my bedpost,

the soul is a vagabond
with many hands and feet that return the body
to its birthing place:
skinny and melancholic,
any day now, a cadre of oxygen-fed commotion
will wake up the old dusky flight,
where every skyline I’ll see
is forever and always—

 

A Brutal Kind of Leaving

tufts of wool,
red signals amid blue whims
of careless fingers,
she is a moving trajectory
holding onto my hand,
on the roads I’ve walked many miles
staring into men’s eyes,
bemused at their sadness,

her hands,
holding the tea cup now,
avoiding the lipstick trail splaying
to disappointment,
her lips,
careful to sift through
the loose tea leaves and tepid water,
giving pause where
the weight of sighs is chained
to the bottom like anchors,

clicks of joints announce
her clumsy push from the table,
I turn back,
fastening still to the length of her city,
but it seems I am looking
to a distant place
where all past recedes to,

old souls float near each other
as if asleep, pale, dark faces,
all beautifully shaped,
exploded like dandelion plumes in wind,
and yet,
I am no longer welcome there,
for the woman I love most is wearing all
the bodies I left behind—

 

Chocolate Indigo Bowl

all over the narrow hallway,
small moving boxes stack atop the large, bulky ones
blue duct-tape drapes crosswise and down
over black etched letters
of the “to” and “from” addresses—

I sit at the edge of the chaise longue,
divorced from an invitation to settle in,
already, things are broken,
already, there’s a crack on mother’s chocolate indigo bowl,

its smooth ceramic plate
is now lined with a telling slit of an old back street,
of mother’s pottery shop drips in light,
of her head that always leans just so against
the poised jazz crescendos of Nina Simone,

with mother’s wear are relentlessly soiled,
and her soft-petaled hands cupping over the clay wheel,
coning up then palming down,
drawing forward while pitching back,
on a chocolate indigo bowl,

like a memory queuing
for that important berth in history,
I glimpse of a balmy afternoon by the landing pier,
tongue gently coaxes the creamy milky foam
from the chocolate pool of cocoa and melting marshmallow,

an index finger traces over the dry silicon
where the crack once held,
with the sun setting beneath the horizon,
I sip the luscious drink from my chocolate indigo bowl,
nearly dying of delight—

 

Room #31

Hands steeped into a reprieve,
legs walked the starved hallway where the air was
as defiled as feigned innocence,
gold eyes flicked to the end of the corridor,
lids peeled back before her sight took hold of
the hundred souls wandering,
cries percussed upon walls in words that smeared
her skin from the many toothless smiles
and sorrow sprayed wide in a tapestry
of crimson rain,

she walked into Room #31,
her father’s head lay on a pillow,
anchored between sour lime walls and
the tasteless air that seemed to pervade the place,
her father’s bed, cold and wrinkled,
its white sheets bundled tenuous flesh,
entombing his translucent bone like an incubator,
mouth aired as a baby bird waiting for feed,
a knit cap girdled his shaven head, pulling taut
over the skin that no longer sensed her touch,

he woke in startle as a living dead exhaled,
coughing, spewing dark phlegm from his famished maw,
plopping down at the edge of the bed,
she could feel her sadness dangling over the metal rails,
sensing it sank down the crisscrossed grouts on the tiled floor
where her quiet feet were deprived of direction,

she remained in repose,
a hyphen between a child and an adult,
spine curled back into the winter coat that was bunched
about the chest to waistline,
because her breaths were hardened and waiting,
waiting for his fingers to close over hers,
while lips reflected to the strange windowless room
from which he has been sleeping.

 

Scissored Hands

then you start from the bird-like neck,
stitch me where the pleats
dress into further gold
of the needle’s eye
as it tears down a ribbon of flesh,
binding to the long muscles
of chenille against
the horizontal blood clotting,
but you could only pull the needle
once more before my backbone
is pressed back
into the silhouette riddles of holes,
and there I lay stiff and perpendicular to
the mortised spiderweb
shrooming out of my scissored hands

pencilA Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is an author of two chapbooks forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press and Finishing Line Press, has had her poetry and fiction featured with over 180 journals, Chiron Review, Coe Review, Columbia Journal, Elohi Gadugi, Foundling Review, Fourth & Sycamore, Galway Review, Gravel Review, Harbinger Asylum, Literary Orphans, Lost Coast Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Quarterly, Roanoke Review, Sentinel Quarterly, and elsewhere, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps. Email: lana.bella[at]rocketmail.com

Transitional Spaces

Poetry
Lauren Scavo


Photo Credit: russellstreet/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Photo Credit: russellstreet/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

I fall in love with these impermanent places,
For my skittish heart is willing to call a place home
If it has been there for a day—
Eager to find a corner to nestle into,
Burrow into the stale-colored drywall,
And entangle my veins in the electrical wiring;
Pump energy through it,
Become a part of its circulation.
These silent breathing spaces are my lungs
Expanded.

pencilLauren Scavo is a senior at Grace College, where she is studying Drawing/Painting and English. Her hometown is in Pittsburgh, PA. Email: scavolj[at]grace.edu