Ran Walker: “A Closed Lid”

A Closed Lid


—–My mother ran into the den, terrified. My heart raced, as she, unable to speak, began to mime what she had just seen.
—–“Something’s in the bathroom?” I said, watching her point down the hall.
—–She nodded, moving her hand up and down like she was jiggling something.
—–“Something’s in the toilet!” I yelled.
—–This time she nodded so hard I thought she would make herself dizzy.
—–I jumped from the couch and approached the bathroom cautiously, several steps ahead of my mother.
—–Standing on either side, we stared at the closed toilet, unable to ignore the sounds of violent splashing within.
—–I instinctively put my foot on the lid, unsure if whatever was inside could push open the lid and run out into the house.
—–“What is it?” I asked, swallowing hard.
—–“A rat,” she deadpanned, her voice finally back.
—–It seemed as if the splashing was getting louder and louder.
—–“Did you try to flush it?” I asked.
—–“I’ll try—but keep your foot on the lid, okay?”
—–I nodded, more out of fear than obedience.
—–She leaned forward and cautiously pressed down on the handle, as if the motion might offend the thing inside. The familiar sound of the toilet’s flush filled the room.
—–Then silence.
—–We stood staring at the closed toilet, my foot still planted firmly on top.
—–“I guess we should look now,” I said.
—–“Wait,” she responded, running to the kitchen to grab a broom. When she returned, she lifted it, prepared to beat the hell out of whatever emerged.
—–I lifted the lid with sloth-like slowness until we could see the clear, empty toilet bowl.
—–Afterwards we laughed nervously about what had happened, but in the years that remained before I left home to go to college, I nervously looked down every time I used the bathroom, unable to shake the fear that something hairy might one day brush against me.

 

Ran Walker is the author of sixteen books. He is also the recipient of a Mississippi Arts Commission/NEA fellowship for creative writing and a Callaloo Writers Workshop fellowship in fiction. He currently teaches fiction writing at Hampton University in Virginia.

David James: “Experiment in Theatre #17”

Experiment in Theatre #17

A man crawls on stage like a snake, slithering army-style,
and stops
mid-stage. From the other side, a woman appears and

crawls while
singing an old favorite Christmas song, “Drummer Boy.”
She props

herself on top of the man’s body lying on stage.
The man
lifts his head and sings “Should auld acquaintance be forgot…”

as the snow
starts to falls on them. They wiggle and try to disengage
their bodies

but are stuck, hers on his, both face down, as they sing louder
with rage.
The man writhes until he turns on the floor, facing the woman

and they see
eye-to-eye. The singing stops. They pause and then kiss with gusto,
groaning

as the curtain closes. The audience hums “Jingle Bells” as they leave
on their reindeer.

 

David James has published three books, six chapbooks, and has had over thirty one-act plays produced. He teaches at Oakland Community College.

Desdemona Moore: “after meeting in the park I & II”

after meeting in the park I & II

how dare you make
me shy like a

schoolgirl afraid of
your response how

dare you take my
hand casual as if

it doesn’t burn as if
I don’t & blood

flows fire & electricity
favors you when you

touch my hand when
your eyes do what they

do oh those eyes w/
the canyon combined

w/cities far away &
the ocean & me

——

I pull my hair
back in the shower

pull my hair back
& it’s you

a spark at first touch
a clasp & I pull
my wet dripping hair

away from my face

& lift up &

cannot help myself

do you ever write
poems to people do you

still see me in your mind in your mouth in your name

& yes

spring does something wild
& winter unharsh cannot stop

fires that must be quenched
that must dry the water as I

pull my hair back
look up there you

are & I’ve been
waiting

 

Desdemona Moore lives near Grand Coulee Dam and has had work published in a few literary magazines.

Tim Hawkins: “Improvisation in Autumn”

Improvisation in Autumn

I’m mindful of those who feel some peril in the change of season
bringing an end to the confusion
of night-blooming flowers and open windows
—a sudden, calamitous chill of clarity
in the precipitous drop
from late summer to sudden fall.

And I’m mindful of those who realize that surviving
the dead calm menace of our dog days
and close afternoons of buzzing flies
is no guarantee of spring.

To some children, I suppose, summer is already a half-remembered fiesta
whose rain-soaked confetti lies unnoticed along the roadside,
while for others there may remain troubling dreams
of twilight deer and fireflies.

I could mention a host of others:
the stranger whose arms grow thinner with each passing year,
the bruised young wife who sobs into her fists—not for the final time,
and those who look away from the others and from themselves
when their lives pass in the street.

As a courtesy I might also mention
the rain and the swaying branches
that form the backdrop to the pageant of their lives.

Or I could just stop and admit
to an awkward sort of contrived spontaneity
in this poem, which in some sense, at least,
mirrors much about those lives:

a failed improvisation on the whole, but a performance, nonetheless,
containing seeds of promise and moments of light,
not to mention the usual passel of lies
and a cast of thousands.

 

 

Tim Hawkins has lived and traveled widely, working as a journalist, technical writer, and teacher in international schools. His writing has been nominated for Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, and Best Microfiction. His poetry collection, Wanderings at Deadline, was published in 2012. Find out more at his website: www.timhawkinspoetry.com

Peter Leight: “Sometimes I Think the Uncertainty Brings Us Together”

Sometimes I Think the Uncertainty Brings Us Together

When I touch your hand it feels like a hand and not a drawbridge in the up position, I’m not pushing you away—I’ve been here the whole time, I would have noticed.  Of course I trust you, if I turn away it’s only to look at something else, only because I need to look around.  I’m tired of guessing, are you going to tell me what you don’t want me to know?  I’m placing my hands on your waist, one on each side, stiffened like a sluice rather than a hose, holding myself in place, keeping my fingers out of your mouth while I’m waiting for it to dry out, I often look at you when you’re not looking at me—I think your face is a hiding place for eyes, please leave your eyes where I can see them, please don’t take your eyes away.  Are you trying to ruin it?  When people are apart they need to be together, and when they’re together they start moving away from each other, as if they’re disappearing together, they’re not even looking for each other—if you don’t care okay you don’t always care, nobody cares about everything.  I want to be close to you, I’d like you to trust me, how far apart we are often depends on how we feel about each other, and what we need from each other.  Do you need me?  Do you need anything about me?  Sometimes I think it is the uncertainty that brings us together when it is only measuring the separation.

 

Peter Leight has previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, FIELD, Beloit Poetry Journal, Raritan, Matter, and other magazines.

 

Tim Suermondt: Two Poems

It’s Always Been Big

My wife sleeps on a pillow wide as this city,
but only I get to sleep on it with her—draped
as we are over the streets, avenues, boulevards
and the hundreds of thousands who wave red
hearts from the skyscrapers and the old tenement
houses once white as the Milky Way. Darling,
the paradoxes of this Universe love us endlessly.

 

In the Luxembourg Garden I Check My Watch
 
You’ll be here soon, coming over
from Rivoli, wearing the red beret
you wanted to buy a week ago.
I have our lunch in tow and you’ll
find me walking around the basin,
counting every paper boat there is
and contemplating the timelessness
that will still exist long after we’re
gone—this is Paris, after all, but I
assure you the ham sandwiches will
get their share of attention, the future
street sign bearing our names near
the shop I bought them at will display
its mustard color flame like a sunflower.

 

Tim Suermondt is the author of four full-length collections of poems: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007), Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), Election Night And The Five Satins (Glass Lyre Press, 2016) and The World Doesn’t Know You, published by Pinyon Publishing in late 2017. His fifth book, Josephine Baker Swimming Pool, will be released by MadHat Press in January 2019. He has poems published in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, Southern Humanities Review, and Stand Magazine (England), among others. He is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press and a poetry reviewer for Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.

 

 

Serjevah Davis: “Oleander”

Oleander

bright eyes
that radiate through
jewels of oleander
piercing
through each orb’s centered hazel
white light escapes
wildly

a haphazard web
birthed by euphoria and
madness
graceful in form
brittle from the gale

each delicate soft
spindle floats
softly
to the floor
what poison is this
that intoxicates my senses
mesmerized
by the orchestrated chaos

each breath you take is
a symphony
of emotions so deeply
entwined
with the drum of my own heart

we drink our vices sweetly
and toast
to the ones
we’ve left behind

 

Serjevah Davis grew up in Tampa, Florida, and graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. Currently based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, she hopes that one day her poetry will encourage readers the same way this beautiful art form has encouraged her.