Vagina Bowl Making Workshop

Poetry
Salvatore Marici


Photo credit: bluebus/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Vagina Bowl Making Workshop

Photos of Tigerlily’s vagina guide
women’s fingers press,
curve beige clay,
cast intentions to the earth
cuddle in their hands.
Bear babies if they want.
Lubricate after menopause.

Like priests with chalices
I raise arms
hold vessels of life.
Hail to vaginas’ miracles,
women’s marvels.
Tilt, drink.

pencil

Salvatore Marici’s poetry has appeared or forthcoming in Toasted Cheese, Spillway, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Of Burgers & Barrooms a Main Street Rag anthology and more. In 2010, Marici was the Midwest Writing Center Collins Poet-in-Residence. He has three books: Mortals, Nature and their Spirits (chapbook), Swish Swirl & Sniff, and Fermentations (all Ice Cube Press). Marici served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala and he is a civil servant retiree as an agronomist. He is learning to maneuver a 17-foot ten-inch kayak in mangroves and the Gulf. Email: redwineandgarlic[at]yahoo.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Marchell Dyon


Photo credit: Neil Moralee/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

Black Women Sing Too Of Cages

We too howl against the rattle of time
We too rage our tattered wings against the bars
We see the length of years stretch before you
We see the gray math twinkling in
Only inches of sun

We too have spilled tears of rage
Until the tears that burned us cools our sweat
We know of thoughts of suicide, a rainbow engulfed
We live a life of high potential wasted

Yes!
We know the choices of no choice
We understand the self-pity and self-denial
We wish for the magic to rise out
From under despair

You tell us to wait with our chins up
You tell us you’ll be home soon
You tell us stories, and you spin your yarn
You ask us to hold on to air

We let you fill our heads with dreams
Still, we work
Alone we raise your children
We stand on blisters

Waiting… waiting… waiting…

In anger, you say women have it easy
You say girls don’t struggle, growing up isn’t hard
Remember now, whose left with the responsibility

When you decide to slang or pick up the gun
Try being women raising
Our children on a minimum wage

Try being blamed for everything as the day is long
Try having to explain your prison term to our son

 

A Black Woman’s Thunder Song

I am the red bird striking
The sky with lightning
My wings bellow like tornadoes

My words are powerful
My words can blow down your house
From my words there’s no shelter

That can prevent me entry
Boom, boom, boom,
I rock your complacency

Re-cord me
My words have a different meaning
Played backwards

My words are never at peace
There is always another war
Another march to rally for

Even if you pretend you don’t have ears
You hear me
You see me

I paint myself red
Even if you count to ten
The flash bomb of my words will blind your eyes

As thunder split the heavens
Rest assured my voice will make its mark
So, shut yourself in and pretend

With your heads in the clouds
Till the storm rolls and awake you
With the sounds

I will not sit silently at society’s
Fruitless table
I will shout my right to order

To make myself heard,
Never will my voice be disabled
Never will I be the dark girl seated but, in the corner,

My stride with lightning will light places
My electric footprints will fill the air
Like thunderstorms my voice leaves traces

My echoes you will remember
I was there and I shook the bars
I was a contender

 

Black Woman, Cool Down

When my anger flares
Is it my blood pressure you wish to ensnare?
See the ice defrost from my lips

See it hone my vocabulary to something sweet
I claim each new moment like a pearl
Found and dived for under an ocean of pain

I hold my breath, I swim
Through the muck like I have gills
I refresh myself by sheer will

I often smooth the conversation
With nothing more to say I leave the room
In the air is the scent of flowers

I remain cool for a few hours
Not that I’m always a hot head
Brimstone
A flint attitude of fire

I just like to sleep well
When I retire
Not that I have joined your point of view
Being that angry black woman all the time
Babe, I have better things to do

pencil

Marchell Dyon is a poetry enthusiast. She enjoys reading poetry wherever she can find it. Once she was nominated for the Best of the Net prize for her poem “As I Stand by My Window Dreaming of Falling.” Her most recent publications are Toasted Cheese and Medusa’s Kitchen. She has taken many poetry workshops; her education and thirst to improve her craft have constantly developed, despite having both schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. She continues to live and write in Chicago. Email: marchelldyon[at]yahoo.com

Five Poems

Poetry
Richard Dinges, Jr.


Photo credit: 5chw4r7z/Flickr (CC-by-sa)

Loss

What can you know
of a woman who
mourns a tooth pulled
to decay, her mind
already in slow
dissolve, her diaries
read in absentia
spread into tight
spidery webs, words
lost in all that white
space hidden beneath
black unreadable
ink, that what you
remember last
is her brief spoken
grief for a tooth.

 

Garage

This small enclave
wrapped in tin nailed
to dead trees’ souls
smells of oil, gas,
and sweat, where I
toil to repair
what no longer
works, where I scrape
fingernails, skin,
calloused palms on
cold hard iron,
wrap myself in
their mysteries,
bring them to life,
to roar and belch
smoke, an exhaust
cloud that drifts in
trees and dead leaves,
air too fresh to breathe
mixed into my
hard day’s reward.

 

Friday Fish Fry

White paper plates,
styrofoam cups, dull
stainless steel forks
hold us together
across a multitude
of mouths. From food
queue to rows
of metal chairs
that fold open with
hollow finality, then
shoved against tables
hidden under white
cloths, we bend our heads
over mounds that steam
and shovel another
bite into our gaping
unsated appetites.

 

Trees’ Lives

Trees return in small hints of life,
dot gray skies at the end of each
twig, scatter into wind’s cold breath,
then settle again to calm growth.
Each compact bud contains a map
of the distant past, promises
of extraordinary bursts
into a verdant bright new life.

 

Windy

Wind is busy
wiping clean all
surfaces, dust from
leaves, gray from sky,
clouds, even those
that resemble
cotton stuffing
from plush toy bears,
images from
my eyes, printed
on memories
stuffed behind my
ears, where wind blows
what is left of my
hair in tiny
ripples of gray
around my head
wiped clean as the day
I drew my first
breath of this wind.

pencil

Richard Dinges, Jr. has an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa, and no longer manages information systems at an insurance company. Home Planet News, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Westview, Pinyon, and Writers Bloc most recently accepted my poems for their publications. Email: rdinges[at]outlook.com

Five Poems

Poetry
Chris Abbate


Photo credit: darwin Bell/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Before You Were Here
For Beth

Dad points out the unicorn
in the empty lot along Jordan Lane.
He does this every Saturday night
on the way to my grandparents’ house.
Everyone pretends to see it except me.

When we arrive, Grandma pulls
our wrists into the kitchen,
a bowl of Chex mix and a deck of Bicycle cards
on the table, a Benson and Hedges
dangling between her lips.
Downstairs at Grandpa’s bar,
Ro pours air martinis for me and Steven.
She tops them off with invisible olives.
We toast and drink them down in one gulp.

When Dad calls for us, we stumble upstairs,
tripping over each other like we’re drunk.
He stands behind Mom,
his hands on her shoulders,
and announces we are having a baby.

Grandpa goes to the liquor cabinet
for a bottle of champagne.
His twelfth grandchild—
they are cheaper by the dozen, he says.
We feel Mom’s stomach for a bump.
Grandma calls into it,
promises to spoil you rotten.
Steven and Ro make a bet
about whether you’re a boy or girl.
They tell me I will have to burp you
and change your dirty diapers.

The moon follows our car
on the way home.
As we pass the lot again,
Dad asks if I can see the unicorn.
I tried to draw a picture of God once,
but drew a sunflower instead.
Now, I squint into the dark
and imagine you—
a shimmering body and legs,
a long head, nodding.

 

Drawing the Tree

The picture
she drew
of her childhood
was the maple
she climbed;
a respite
from the turmoil
on the ground—
the broken machines
of the day
and the father
who beat
a path
to the garage
searching
for the tools
to fix them.

He took the tree
down one day
without warning,
or explanation.
The earthen heart
of its upturned stump
and dismembered
limbs were strewn
across the yard
like dead soldiers.

As she aged,
the tree became
one more thing
she was deprived of;
an object
of her father’s
combustion.
How little
he knew about her;
all the climbing
she still had to do—
to look down
from above her house
wearing a crown
of leaves,
depths of sky
to fathom.

 

Invisible Roots

Let’s talk in marigolds, mother,
like the orange and yellow blooms
you planted along the stone wall back home
where I sat and posed
on my first day of grade school—
my crisp Oxford you ironed, and clip-on tie,
a White Owl cigar box of school supplies
in my lap, and Buster Browns on my feet.

You knew to capture the moment
before the school bus came—
standing over me in the driveway,
a halo of sun above your head
while I squinted in the light;
head cocked, legs crossed.

I wonder what you thought that day
in the mother’s clothes you wore.
Was it how to fill the fresh silence of a house?
Or finding a name for something you lost?

When the bus, as imminent as any bloom,
turned onto our street
and I stood up to leave
did you sense too,
the invisible roots between us
stretching thin through the lens?

 

Day Care Report
for Ella, December 21, 2013

You won’t remember crying at naptime yesterday,
or soaking your sleeves while washing your hands,
or how apple juice leaked from your bottle
and dripped into your boots.

When I sat at my desk this morning
and read your day care report
the sun peeked into my eyes
beneath the porch awning.

I have always anticipated daylight’s
rise from the ashes of December,
like ancient tombs in Ireland
whose entrances were positioned
so that light might pierce
their inner chamber
for a few fleeting minutes
each winter solstice.

What if all we have of a day
is the sunlight captured in stone?
The recounting of a day care report?
If so, I wish you ones
with no more weight
than you can bear—
with restful sleep,
a clean, dry shirt
and a well-sealed bottle—
knowing that tomorrow will be
a little longer,
a little brighter.

 

Station of the Cross

It was the closest I would ever get to Maggie,
the eighth-grade beauty playing Mary to my Jesus
in our school’s presentation of the fourth Station of the Cross:
a freeze frame of Jesus meeting his mother.

Maggie is kneeling before me in a sky blue robe
and white mantle, a look of compassion on her face,
which I would like to interpret as infatuation
rather than fabricated sympathy for my impending crucifixion.

During rehearsal, Sister Grace instructed me to rest my hand on her head.
But my palm wasn’t sweating then, or quivering like it is now,
because I can’t help but think that I am touching her
when I should be focused instead on saving humanity.

I wanted put down my cardboard cross and confess
to my classmates and their families my feelings for Maggie
despite how she regarded me that day no more than she did the day before.
I would have told them how I was beginning to appreciate Jesus more,

because love isn’t reciprocal, and saviors and boys are mostly misunderstood.
I was sacrificing a piece of my boyhood on that altar;
I had given myself over to an emotion I didn’t understand, and tomorrow
would have no choice but to pick up my cross, spread my arms, and die.

pencil

Chris Abbate’s poems have appeared in Connecticut River Review, Chagrin River Review, and Comstock Review. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net award. His first book of poetry, Talk About God, was published in 2017 by Main Street Rag. Chris resides in Holly Springs, NC. Email: chrisabbate[at]yahoo.com

Three Poems

Poetry
Diane Webster


Photo Credit: Tim Ereneta/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

Log and Fire

Log expands grains
so fire breathes
through veins
emblazoned with gold
aliveness, molten glass
blobbing before
form-fitting mold
cools exterior
like ash fragment
remembering burn
flutters skyward
until extinguished.

Fire pries fingernails
into oxygen-rich cracks,
snaps and smacks
merrily as it grasps
concentric rings
blazing smaller
like log’s life
twinkling embers,
lifting last ashy eyelash
before sleeping, merging
dreams surrounded
into charred midnight.

 

Bedroom Sounds

Sounds not belonging
creep into bedroom.
Sounds like cat,
claws ticking on floor,
but not.
Sounds of stealthy searching
ruffle papers, finger loose change
on dresser, brush gloved
hand over painted wall.
Sounds not right for my bedroom;
too light for a man,
I hope. Bravely, stupidly
I rise and don’t
knock anyone down
as I switch on the light.

Moth dive bombs my hair.
“Damn moth!” as I stab a grab.
It races into lamp shade
to beat itself against bulb,
bumper cars
with shade’s design.
I am a crazed badminton player
with fly swatter as moth
careens the room, disappears.

Sounds silent. Moth invisible.
I give up to my bed.
Moth attempts, attempts, attempts
entry to computer lights;
wishes to fly a giant avatar
in cyberland.

 

Fellow Travelers

After eight hours driving
it’s time for lunch.
We park among the row
of cars, SUVs, campers, RVs
and choose a picnic table
out in the weeds away
from weary, fellow travelers.

Table is splattered
with dry mud from previous
inconsiderate family members
tossing Idaho soil for next
picnicker to snarl at
which we do. We stand
and eat glad we don’t
have to sit again.

Pair of swallows swoop
under roof, dart out
startled by us intruders
who spy mud construction
of nest against wall
and forgive our previous tenant’s
inexcusable mess now okay
as we abandon picnic alcove
to honeymoon suite swallows.

pencil

Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life or nature or an overheard phrase. Many nights she falls asleep juggling images to fit into a poem. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, The Aurorean, Better Than Starbucks and other literary magazines. Email: diaweb[at]hotmail.com

Four Poems

Poetry
Melissa Evans


Photo Credit: Steve Schroeder/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

What is Poetry Anyway?

I stood in the doorway
At 6 am and saw you.
It was the sound that woke me;
The crash…
There you were in kitchen,
Holding the pieces
of a small teacup,
Embellished with sheaths of wheat,
Now dismembered,

Coffee dripping from the tabletop.

The cup was the last piece
From a set your grandmother
Gave you on your wedding day.

You turned the pieces in your hand,
The overhead light casting shadows
On your face.
It seemed like a lifetime
You stood there.
I watched as you wiped
a small tear from your cheek
and tossed the china pieces
in the waste bin,
You turned—
and mopped the coffee from the table,
Getting on with breakfast.

People ask me all the time, what is poetry anyway?

My answer is always the same;
It is the music of broken pieces
of a single teacup,
at 6 am in my mother’s house.

 

The Other Woman

Summer’s dying
has left a fire in the trees.
Fall burns against my skin
as leaves plunge
like flaming fists
against the window,
Threatening to end us.

I am freed now only
Through touches
And moments when you
Mount me life a madness.
Our bodies fusing,
a single flying shadow
On the bedroom wall.

Oh, how I loathe—
the keeping of myself,
The waiting for a glance.
In dreams, I find your hands
Tucked in my pockets;
Just hands and nothing.
In dreams, they take from me
A shirt, a shoe, perhaps panties
In public places—
And caress me as you would.

Somewhere right now, you are with strangers.
Somewhere strangers are filling you like water;
Unfamiliar faces spilling
From your cracked cup hands.
Oh, how cruel you have become.
I have no disguise.
I am more than a kept creature,
A bauble, a fat gold coin.
I am skin, old bones, and feeling,
Caged in a wild form.
I am a coursing force—
Tethered to you by bonds of pain’.
A revelation of years wrinkle-eyed,
wide-hipped, and losing,
Always losing you
To her,
A memory,
An enigma,
Her ravenous heart—
eating you from the grave.

 

Chop Wood, Carry Water

It was easy in the beginning to believe—
that you could do anything.
To be a person of action,
to take the sphere by force.
The trick is to keep moving, always doing,
Climbing the mountain to scream your name into the wind.
This is how you learn to chop wood and carry water.

The stories always seem astonishing,
The ones who manage to create
something beautiful seemly out of nothing.
Like the sound of Fall blowing across the front yard,
The wind tossing leaves like Chinese throwing stars,
The beauty cuts us with its quickness taking us by surprise.
We say isn’t that amazing?
Then where does the time go?
Meanwhile, we chop wood and carry water.

Somewhere there is a first cry, a breath,
a new thought coming through,
a vessel of being, born new.
It happens over and over again…
I think about that moment incessantly.
What will they teach you?
To scream your name into the wind?
To chop wood and carry water?

I am reaching for something intangible here,
The smell of lilac and broken stems spill
from the vase in the window,
Reminding me of something final and delicate.
The window effervesces with drops of rain
An eyelet pattern reaching through the glass,
Thin as skin,
short as breath,
and gone before breakfast.
But It doesn’t matter, really, it doesn’t matter at all.
They will dismiss this without a glance,
Busy counting breaths like pebbles dropped into a jar,
We have important things to do.
Let’s think about it all tomorrow,
today we chop wood and carry water.

 

Baby Doll

Cracked like an egg
And oozing air,
musked in
Behind the ears.
Blood red lips
Speaking
Through cracked teeth,
Pinned down in
the inclement earth
Packed in like chum,
Tight as sardines,
Languishing in a vernacular
the delicate message,
I am pretty,
See everyone said so.
Here the body is abandoned,
Stripped and run clean through.
Look but do not touch,
Touch but do not come close.
The delicate skin
Is cold at contact.
Let us put a fine point
On the situation.
It requires restraint.
Draw back the obverse to see
Clockworks Bursting
from one glass eye.
Pull the cord
She has nothing to say,
Spiritless victim of childhood,
Crying mommy, mommy
over and over again.
pencil

Born in Texas, Melissa Evans received a degree in Literature from the University of North Texas, she is also working on a children’s book series. She resides in Prosper, Texas where she lives with her husband, Joel and her 4 dogs, Hershey, Maxie, Butch and Sundance. Email: hershey1pointer[at]gmail.com

Old Poet

Poetry
Timothy Pilgrim


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

I find it in The New Yorker now
easier to yawn about nothing poems—

self-obsessed men, depression, sanity
on the run, priests preying on nuns.

Phallic prayer naked, life, spread wide
for redemption, full-bosomed end.

So little depends on anything
when limp metaphors droop and bend.

pencil

Timothy Pilgrim, a Pacific Northwest poet and Pushcart Prize nominee in 2018, has several hundred acceptances from journals like Seattle Review, Third Wednesday, Windsor Review, Mad Swirl, Sleet, San Pedro River Review, Santa Anna River Review, Toasted Cheese and Hobart. He is author of Mapping Water (Flying Trout Press, 2016). Email: pilgrimtima[at]gmail.com

Two Poems

Poetry
Erren Kelly


Photo Credit: Nerissa’s Ring/Flickr (CC-by)

Esther

doesn’t have to save her people
from death and tyranny anymore
she just serves them coffee in
a little coffeehouse in Brookline

her heart no longer makes
King Xerxes go cuckoo
she shares it with the
brothers and sisters of
Brookline

to look into her eyes
is to see god’s love
at work
she is a vessel,
carrying his goodness
a transmitter for his
joy

Esther doesn’t fight her battles
in the scriptures anymore
she conquers apathy and
hate in a little coffeehouse in
Brookline

 

George

he stands on the corner asking for change
and yet he sings about change
the change only comes when we stop
finding our courage in bottles of
feeling sorry for ourselves
and in doing drugs of excuses.
he sat at the table
talking about change
asking others for change, mainly.
he never liked the green chairs in the front
always in the back
the orange chairs in front, always
he was always about dirty jokes
and solitaire and street wisdom
’cause everyone who came into the
soup kitchen had their own journey
just like he did, and he always said
good morning, and dared anyone
to stop him. sometimes, he gave the other
transients change
and it’s hard to stand on our own
when systems try to keep us down
when the haves get more and have-nots
find more ways to play the victim
but he always said he chose his life
even so, we all deserve the best

I walked to the T earlier
thought I saw him in his baseball cap, turned
off to the side, dispensing wisdom
while shamelessly asking for change…

does anybody have any change?

we could all use a change…

pencil

Erren Kelly is a two-time Pushcart-nominated poet from Boston. He has been writing for 28 years and has over 300 publications in print and online in such publications as Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine (online), Ceremony, Cacti Fur, Bitterzoet, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg and other publications. His most recent publication was in Black Heart Literary Journal; he has also been published in anthologies such as Fertile Ground and Beyond The Frontier. His work can also been seen on YouTube under the “Gallery Cabaret” links. He is also the author of the book Disturbing The Peace on Night Ballet Press. Email: errenkelly76[at]yahoo.com

Four Poems

Poetry
Garrett Harriman


Photo Credit: Greenstone Girl/Flickr (CC-by-nc)

The Spider Poem Remembered

It had short lines
throughout,
only two or three stanzas
plus that extra bit
at the end.*

The spider was a pilot
then Quetzalcoatl
and the flies in its web “debris.”
An asphyxiation
of alliteration followed—
an anaerobic inch-and-a-half.

I remember looking
up the word spinnerets, too.
Grafting it oh so
strategically (like you do).

The final thought was offset:
no reason.

*(In the white right of here, nearly top
of the page: Perfection!
wrote the teacher, his blue
and damning praise.)

 

Knife

When Jesus broke bread,
did he pray
for a knife?
It would’ve made
things easier
to measure and spread,
pass from left
to right.

Instead
he pigeoned it,
brother pecking brother
round that table
for a night—
but all fed,
surely,
all fed.

 

Looking Like I Want to Jump Off a Bridge, I Find Myself On a Bridge

It hadn’t crossed my mind mid-crossing
and although it’s fine bridge-jumping weather
the plummet from this one
above an icy winter bank
(more geology than water at this point,
the skeletal musings of spring
barely high enough to break a fall)
would only snap an ankle or two, a wrist maybe,
soak my all-season hiking boots to their dusty rims,
and that’d be it.

I’d look up from that kids’ table
of failed suicide attempts, ass-planted, heels-deep,
into the bored, morbidly disappointed eyes
of the passing man who asked me
just before,
“You’re not gonna jump now, are you?”

How could I answer him? To anyone?
And what anemic imagination must he think an offing takes?
There’d be nothing to do—not really
besides waddle to shore and shrug my shoulders,
pull some line about featherweight pocket stones
and puff my Chaplin cheeks
as if I’d just missed the bus
and must now—with much sheep—await another,
presumably the last,
the bright idea of stepping in front of it
merrily whizzing by my head.
Hell, I can hear my voice apologizing.

And over there, not too much later,
in silhouette beside a two-log fire—my woolen socks
draped along a wooden chair back,
drip-drip-dripping for tomorrow.

 

How to Read a Birthday Card
For Kailey

Be young and crowd-shy,
harangued by a mother.

Come into your voice
like a mouse sniffing traps.

Your audience is a blind man?
Speak closer.

If nearly blind,
remember to linger on words.

Let the biggest card
buffer your blushes.

And the fold you wrote?
Read last like you planned.

That’s expected, sweet one.
Expected most of all.

pencil

Born and living in Colorado, Garrett Ray Harriman loves writing, playing saxophone, and learning languages. His poetry is published or forthcoming in Kestrel, Chrysanthemum, Atlas Poetica, and Naugatuck River Review. Lifting Smoke, Falling Mist, his first tanka-only poetry collection, also vagabonds online, and may someday find its published home. Feel free to follow his sporadic Twitter @Inadversent. Email: harrimangr[at]gmail.com

Sunday

Poetry
Les Wicks


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

A silent gift
though you seem unaware
like an earring dropped
the mercy of care, this
unexpected drug.

We have each other clothed only
in buttered afternoon light.
It is understood
we will tread lightly.

Our dogs have always treasured
the mysteries of human fingers.
Digits give us directions
to lovely ruin & understanding.
They stroke away the dust, the pain
of another decade’s living.
We discover this much
in sweat & laughter.

I am rich,
my poker face is broken.

pencil

Over 40 years Les Wicks has performed widely across the globe. Published in over 350 different magazines, anthologies & newspapers across 28 countries in 15 languages. Conducts workshops & runs Meuse Press which focuses on poetry outreach projects like poetry on buses & poetry published on the surface of a river. His 14th book of poetry is Belief (Flying Islands, 2019). Email: leswicks[at]hotmail.com