Ari Lohr: “Elegy (i.)”

Elegy (i.)

i’m told that if you
fold a piece of paper in half 42 times,

the result is long enough
to reach the moon. somewhere

you hover between 33 and 34 folds.
i pleat the first crease.

you enfold me in your arms
divided by the delicate murmur of

electricity and hushed breaths.
the city unfolds

from daylight to dusk.
a car whizzes by.

we never speak of this moment.
i seal the fourth crease.

we are engulfed by the gentle
hiss of the radiator,

the muted hum of the TV screen. you reach for the
power button. i grab your hand.

after seven creases
the paper is too thick to fold further.

i unravel it and see a boy tango
with the gravity between static and saltwater.

in the margins, i scribble your name
Luka. Luka. Luka.

the bridge unwinds into music
and then nothing. the car

whizzes by and the city unfolds
from gentle whispers to muted static

and you reach for the power button
but no one grabs your hand. if i were to

fold this into an airplane and
throw it off the Golden Gate,

i wonder how far it would fly.

 

Ari Lohr is a wannabe-astronaut-turned-poet living with his four cats in Portland, Oregon. He can be found on Instagram as @i.o.jupiter.

Scott Laudati: “Driving to Thom Young’s House”

Driving to Thom Young’s House

I heard there were no gun laws in Texas
so I rented a Taurus and drove
to Thom Young’s house,
running over prairie dogs and singing the new
Blake Shelton Christmas song.
And when I got there
I bought a rifle and some nightcrawlers
and we fished in a puddle behind the Allsup’s.
But the fish didn’t want any worms
and on the drive back
Thom said Led Zeppelin wouldn’t make it today.
And I remembered the music
and how it had lived in me once
and in my dreams
I can still hear my mother sing it like
she’s hanging over my crib.
And sometimes the college radio
comes in clear from Amarillo
and Thom finds an old box of tobacco
and we smoke like kings without a throne,
flicking ash at the coyotes circling the porch.
Once upon a time betting on
whether it would be them
or us
but we don’t play that game as much anymore.
And on cold Sundays after Christmas
we leave burritos outside for the dogs.

 

 

Scott Laudati‘s recent work has appeared in The Bitter Oleander and The Columbia Journal. He spends most of his time with a 14 y/o schnoodle named Dolly. Visit him on social media @ScottLaudati

Andrea Carter: “Stingrays”

Stingrays

Colorless as the water where they prey,
their venom lives long after myth.
This is one way our love can decay,
colorless as the water where we prey.
Odysseus’ son speared Odysseus that way.
A rich sting to rule beyond my death,
colorless as the water where I prey,
if venom is all I leave to spell our myth.

 

Andrea Carter grew up in Southern California. She teaches writing at Muir College at UC San Diego. Most recently, her poetry has appeared in Fourteen Hills and the San Diego Poetry Annual.

Francine Witte: Three Flash Fictions

No Good

_____She knows Morley is no good for her.  End of the world stuff.  His previous girls had 1) hung herself like a spring floral in her closet and 2) threw herself off the bridge bag of old laundry style.
_____But still there was the sex.  Oozy and tingly and down to her toes.  She would find herself thinking about it everywhere.  Oh yes, the way he bit her lip.  And yes, his calloused fingers.
_____One day, she is waiting for him to come by like he promised, and she gets a phone call from his wife.  She is whisper quick and tells her that Morley himself is dead. Another lovergirl shot him jealous through the head.  I am going through his cell phone, the wife says.  With you, I’m only halfway through.
_____She thinks of her place in the alphabet.  Mary.  M. That’s only halfway through as well.  She wonders about the X’s. There can’t possibly be an X.  So maybe it isn’t as bad as it seems.
_____She thanks the wife who, as it turns out, has already moved on to the next.

 

It’s not pretty

_____leaving a man you promised to marry.  Leaving him in the car as he drives you to your wedding.  Leaving him in the empty parking lot near the drugstore where you pulled in that first night to pick up emergency condoms.
_____It’s not pretty how that all means nothing now. How the guests are waiting. How the preacher is waiting, how the man you promised to marry is about to become a white oval face in your memory as you slip out of the car, out of your wedding dress and run in your underwear, into the drug store, into the backroom behind the pharmacy section, into the arms of Hector, the delivery guy, who was always smart enough to bring his own condoms those sweet achy nights behind the garage while the man you promised to marry slept right upstairs.
_____And it’s not pretty how when you do slip into Hector’s arms, and feel his warm breath on your neck, you smell the faint perfume that Lucinda the night cashier always wears.
_____And how you hold off his kiss just long enough to look out the window to watch as the man you promised to marry picks up your empty wedding dress, props it up sitting in the passenger seat and drives off to go home and wait for your call the way he has done a hundred times before.

 

On Second Thought

_____I decide to return her gift. It doesn’t come from an honest place. It doesn’t come from love.
_____The gift is a cashmere scarf. How very chain-y of her. If I keep it, I will have to promise to meet her for lunch.
_____If I keep it, she will be able to cut me into multiple me’s, like a cartoon dog. I would still me, but there would be 16 me’s, and smaller, much smaller. Each one smiling and inviting her to tea.
_____I know if I keep it, I will never be able to shake her upside down out of my life. She will  be a cereal box I keep putting back on the shelf because it’s not quite empty.
_____I know if I keep it, I will fall in love with the cool cashmereness of it, soft, like the way time softens a memory, how a friend stealing your man a time or two, can turn into a life lesson.
_____Like it was really a positive how she taught me how to watch for the want in other women’s eyes when I bring them around my man. Thank you, I might even learn to say to her. Over lunch. Over tea. As I sit there, my thumb stroking the lying pull of the cashmere. My other fingers frozen in disgust.

 

 

Francine Witte’s poetry and flash fiction have appeared in Wigleaf, Mid-American Review, Lost Balloon, Stonecoast Review, Moon Candy Review, and many others. Her latest books are Dressed Wrong for All This (Flash), The Theory of Flesh (Poetry), and The Way of the Wind (novella.) She lives in NYC.

ayaz daryl nielsen: Two Poems

I saw a lynx
above Gold Hill
deep in a restless night
when I should
have been sleeping
a quick flash
through headlights
as I rounded
a curve on the
remote dirt road
and deep in
that restless night
a lynx saw me

 

_____

 

The bear in heavy fur licks its lips and
dreams the taste of berries on bushes.
Wild flower seeds waiting below white-
washed chapels of frozen snow listen
to voices of wild geese and wood ducks
carried within an early morning chinook wind.
Humbled, I pour a second cup of coffee,
again renew my promise to keep the
wondrous faith of this earth and my
loved ones, and add a splash of cream.

 

 

 

ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran and former hospice nurse, lives in Longmont, Colorado, USA. Editor of bear creek haiku (35+ years/160+ issues) with poetry published worldwide, he is online at:  bear creek haiku: poetry, poems and info. Among other deeply appreciated honors, he is especially delighted by the depth and heart of poets worldwide whose poems have a home in bear creek haiku’s print and online presence.

John Grey: “An Allegory”

An Allegory

is when you say
one thing
but mean something else

like when you’re
talking chickens
but it’s really about people–

your tale is of a wolf
who creeps into
a hen-house at night
and devours a half dozen
of the best layers–

only it’s no wolf
and you’re not actually
talking hen-house–

it could be about
some army
razing an enemy village

or a man
moving in on you
back when you
were too weak to defend–

you tell me
you fear wolves
and you feel
for chickens–

what you mean is
you’ve learned to fear and feel
in equal measure

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review, and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Willard and Maple, and Red Coyote.

Gail Hosking: “Proprietary Rights”

Proprietary Rights

_____I tell the story of Walter every time I pour some cherry brandy into this small cocktail glass with its stem and etched details. The story is that this crystal flute once belonged to his mother, a woman long gone since Walter was well into his 80’s that school year I lived with my grandmother in New Jersey. Her boyfriend, we called him, when he came for a meal, his thin suit legs crossed on the couch as he waited for a place at the dining room table. Walter with his gray hair and cane was a quiet man and seemed grateful as he leaned over his plate while my sisters and I chatted about this or that. Afterwards, he drove us in his black car past its prime up to Howard Johnson’s for ice cream, the only sounds in the car gears shifting from the floor.
_____When he moved to a nursing home, we took a bus to visit, and found him in a small room, his slippers under a single bed. A clock ticked on the windowsill. We made small talk as Grandma held his hand, and my sisters and I ran down the hall searching for a Coca-Cola. Little did I know then that we were learning right there in that small building of old people that time turns quickly, everything is fragile. A whole set of his mother’s cordial glasses moved to Grandma’s china cabinet after Walter died like something belonging to the heart. Decades later they are in my kitchen where I repeat Walter’s story every time I pour sweet liqueur into the remaining chalice grasping its stem and studying again the spiral of engraved leaves and berries swirling into an old pattern, its narrative on the move, its future home unknown.

 

Gail Hosking is author of the memoir Snake’s Daughter (U of Iowa Press), the poetry chapbook The Tug (Finishing Line Press), and a book of poems, Retrieval (Main Street Rag Press). MFA from Bennington College. Poetry and essays have been published for years, and some have been anthologized. Two essays were considered “Most Notable” in Best American Essays.

Tim Hawkins: “The Goodbye Note”

The Goodbye Note
 
So you don’t forget,

Our time together
has curled away from
an enduring narrative arc.

Does that make sense?

I’m not quite sure how to put it,
but from now on we should avoid
whistling the same songs,
crying through the same films,
liking all the same books, beer
and restaurants, sharing
all the same old enthusiasms.

Our time together should be

forgotten like a flimsy alibi
scribbled on greasy napkins,

ignored like the inane melody
haunting your morning,

snubbed like the poor boy
who loved your whole childhood,

cast out sobbing
like a demonic soliloquy
into a herd of swine.

Yours truly.

 
Tim Hawkins’ short fiction and poetry can be found in many print and online magazines and anthologies. He has published a poetry collection, Wanderings at Deadline (Aldrich Press, 2012), a poetry chapbook, Jeremiad Johnson (In Case of Emergency Press, 2019), and a story and poetry chapbook, Synchronized Swimmers (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). His second full-length poetry collection, West of the Backstory, is forthcoming in late 2020 from Fernwood Press. Find out more at his website: http://www.timhawkinspoetry.com

Kristina Krumova: ‘The Executioner”

The Executioner

The pieces of glass between
my teeth intensify
the bitter aftertaste while
I sacrifice
seventeen innocent petals
hemlock
in cahoots with my thighs
I refuse to kneel in front
of the irreversible
The last breaths,
impossible to count, sink deep in
the decoction and
transform into drops of blood
The last beats of
my bored heart
fade away smothered between
the speechless aggression of my other pieces of flesh
and merge with the lynchings of the crowd

If I decide to satisfy
my own dying wish
I will call to the bartender for
one more of the same, please.

 

 

Kristina Krumova is from Sofia, Bulgaria. She has a Master’s Degree in “Contemporary History” from Sofia University. Her work was published in Ghost City Review, North of Oxford, Red River Review, Ann Arbor Review, The Pangolin Review, Dream Noir, The Conclusion Magazine, Unlikely Stories, Oddball Magazine, and The Mad Swirl Anthology 2019. Kristina Krumova works as an editor for Publishing house “Kryg.”

 

Simon Perchik: Five Poems

*

Where the sky dries up
these sunflowers scale back
though just as easily

you could take a chance
trap this rain left over
growing wild the way each petal

breathes in while laying down
where your mouth would be
come from a name

written on a tree
clasping it and the sun
not yet a wound that oozes

–you could drink from a slope
and place by place tame this mud
to bend, gather in wells

scented with melting stones
and the darkness
you no longer want to stop.

*

Even before you touch
it has lift, rushes more air
over one hand and not the other

though once at the controls
spin is what you cling to
letting the knob drag the door

the way moonlight never leaves
has nothing to do with skies
closing in on each other

half rivers, half mountainsides, half
whatever you hold in your arms
is stone, counts the turns and when.

*

A jacket could trick my arms
help me forget once they leave
though what I become

has lips and around each shoulder
both sleeves fit the way skies
still overflow, break free

settle down, neatened
as if this mirror was still looking
could hear, I don’t see you, louder.

*

You hover the way each memory
stands by –the faintest scent
breathes down your brain

till its dust reeks from moonlight
and you cover your arms with air
holding them down, drag this table

more than enough for clouds
and though nothing falls
you’re sure it’s safe to exhale

making room in your heart
for the smell from skies
and what they too wanted back.

*

Its shadow is helpless here
festering the way your fingers
lean over the watermarks

not yet covered with paper
though left in the open
this wall could heal, the butterflies

gently circling down
and under the painted leaves
the empty branches and wings

–you thin this paste
as if one arm works the other
till what you turn in

unfolds toward painful corners
and days without a sea
making room for you.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Rosenblum Poems, published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities,” please visit his website at http://www.simonperchik.com.

To view one of his interviews, please follow this linkhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK774rtfx8