Ashley Fernandes: “Witching Hour Bliss”

Witching Hour Bliss

sometimes at 3am, I am awake.
I open the window and drink the night.
the cold air hits my lungs like ice,
but it feels good to feel
something that isn’t pain.
I let the night flood my body,
making me whimper,
and leaving me melancholy.
but it feels good to feel
something that is better than pain.
then I close the window,
drunk on the night.

 

Ashley Fernandes is an emerging Canadian writer based in the Toronto area who is currently working fervently on her first novel, Hummingbirds in the Night Sky. When she is not writing, she spends her days reading for inspiration or fantasizing about drinking hot chocolate in autumn weather.

Zach Murphy: “Ceilings”

Ceilings

When Garrett went to bed, he placed a gun under his pillow and lay awake wondering whether or not it was a good spot to rest a loaded weapon.

 

 

 

Born near the warm beaches of Hawaii, Zach Murphy is a multi-faceted writer who somehow ended up in the charming but often chilly land of St. Paul, Minnesota. His fiction pieces have appeared in Haute Dish, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, WINK, and the Wayne Literary Review

Philip Kobylarz: “The Temp”

The Temp

_____She was a professional run away-er. Everything she originally signed up for, she ended up abandoning, then wanting to return to, but was somehow unable to, thus, her past was a distant memory and little proof was kept, in the form of photos back when we had those printed, or letters, back when we wrote those, or documents proving that she was there at this certain time, back when we used to keep such things in boxes in our closets.

_____At first it was the convent, and to think that someone would ever, could ever, sign up for what her father called “the military” and actually walk into buildings where magical ghosts danced and people believed that you had power over them because you could talk to the ghosts is enough to blow or severely warp, any mind, however strong or normal it might be.

_____Cut to the island of Haiti and signing up to do medical work for the severely poor and being so scared about what she had gotten into that she walked into town and bought bottles of wine and hid them in her communal room to whenever the time was ripe she could drink them alone, not even in the company of others, not even going out to share the stress and tension of life abroad but to wallow in an escape deeper into the darkness that led her so far from the home she despised (a brick house in a village) and led her so far away into the unknown that she could no longer bear, so it became time to run away again.

_____Onto America where English lessons were paid for, a Visa won by lottery, a life moving from city to city to city in search of a place to fit in, in search of a way to pass the tests, a series of horrible, low paying jobs, a series of anonymous apartments, a series of an endless series of series.

_____And then that too needed to be escaped from, the midwest where she came to from the island because that’s where northern Europeans go when they don’t know any better. Off now to the coast where there was a promise of a free nursing program, as that is what she had been in the convent, never one day earning a penny for herself, not one day having a voice, not one day able to be herself, and the plan was now to bloom into the lovely flower she could be.

_____But it continued to be the same. Same bad living situations and now because rents were high, with people she barely knew. Jobs that always changed and left her wondering who would be next. Dates with men that would never even lead to anything except time not spent alone but in her mind, always time wasted, and a life of always wondering where she had gone wrong, what was wrong with her, and what the secret was to a happiness that if she even had for a moment she would invariably run away from, half-laughing, half crying.

 

Philip Kobylarz‘s work has appeared in Paris Review, Epoch, Poetry, and Best American Poetry. His published books are ruesNow Leaving Nowheresville, A Miscellany of Diverse Things, All Roads Lead from Massilia, and Kanji Amerikana.

 

 

DS Maolalai: “Drunk, and trying to be quiet.”

Drunk, and trying to be quiet.

moving through the kitchen
like a boat in harbor,
drunk at 11pm
on wine, and a little beer afterward,
and trying your best
to be quiet. putting down bottles
by the backyard door
with a sound
like tanks
crushing houses in palestine.
then you turn
and knock a fork over. turn again
and pick it up. upstairs
someone turns over
in your bed
and snorts a sound
like cars crashing
and collapsing
mineshafts. you freeze. then move,
more freely now,
feeling a fool in your concern,
remembering
how heavily
she sleeps.

 

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016) and Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019).

Frederick Pollack: “NGO”

NGO

My group reinvented compassion.
We dispense it, with whatever
water, pills, fresh bandages, etc.
we have, on the blanket heaps,
torn tents, and cardboard homes
extending miles
from the broken cloverleaf to former country.
The vista has a dark sublimity.
If it were part of our culture
we would, while kneeling, ministering,
and seeing – too few – our comrades do the same,
remember saints in paintings,
and reflect: There was a hierarchy
that made propaganda
from a legend or a wish, then hired artists …
As it is, we think mostly about guns –
great survivors, always healthy –
and viruses that paint
the landscape in broad subtle swaths.
Like all of us, I spent my early years
killing. My rationale was broadcast
from the splintered towers on every skyline
to the pasteboard church of my former father.
When, on the shoulder
of the cracked road, I tend
dying youths who only killed for food,
I envy them. One is troubled
by a drone. “It isn’t ours,” I tell him,
“we don’t know whose it is.”
With his last breath he hails the Holy Ghost.

 

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press; the former to be reissued 2020 by Red Hen Press), and two collections, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Many other poems in print and online journals.

John Marvin: “Heisenberg and Heidegger Homelettes”

Heisenberg and Heidegger Homelettes

don’t save bandaged reminders of uncertain songs
and wail in the night over dry Mississippi oxbows
_____protecting engendered species under eroding banks
where they hover in harmonic minors like blues and lamentations

don’t wait for ships to sail lost strangers on a road less travailed
and all smoke and flakes of snowy ash floating downy windy
_____reddening sunsets like an uppercut grazing a bruised cheek
where ancient wounds forget stragglers who mean neither good nor harm

don’t count your blessed chickens pecking relentless paradiddles on gravel
and tin roofs with Englishmen in the noon day puncture of a sky less avid
_____enthralling forever arrows of outrageous importunities
where a dazed audience doesn’t know whether to laugh or crow

don’t you know little fool your trajectory has concealed your likely positions
and being becomes less available for psycho-concussive
_____tripping hammers against a true temple of everyone’s worship
where miracles abound like leaping lords and turtle dove love

don’t slow cook being as an abstraction derived from universal sproofs
and a mortar pure white in all its concavity sequestering powders
_____awaiting an anxious blow from above crushing will to powder
where humming sooths that abyss staring back at a stranger’s eyelids

__________________a stranglers eye
___________________________a strand                a

 

John Marvin is a teacher who retired and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo. He has poems in scores of journals, and literary criticism in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, James Joyce QuarterlyPennsylvania English, and Worchester Review. His book, Nietzsche and Transmodernism: Art and Science Beyond the Modern in Joyce, Stevens, Pynchon, and Kubrick, awaits a publisher.

 

LB Sedlacek: “Swimmer for Hire”

Swimmer For Hire

I saw a woman I used to know
and when I knew her we were kids
on the swim team.  We used to
put Jell-O mix on lemons and limes
or sometimes if we didn’t have
Jell-O mix we’d use sugar … in-between
races at swim meets.  It was for
extra energy.  We used to carry the
Jell-O mix, the sugar in empty
Cool Whip containers.  This was
before energy drinks and bars and
huge jolts of caffeine in tiny
aluminum cans.  This was before
underwater radios or MP3 players
and underwater cameras.  We rode
our bikes to the pool or to the movies
parking them on the bike racks
outside.  Those bike racks are gone.
The movie theatre condemned.
The swim team disbanded.

I saw a woman I used to know.
I didn’t tell her that I don’t swim anymore.

 

LB Sedlacek is an award-winning poet and author with poetry and fiction appearing in many different journals and zines. Her latest poetry books are The Adventures of Stick People on Cars (Alien Buddha Press), The Architect of French Fries (Presa Press), and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press.)  She is a former Poetry Editor for ESC! Magazine and also co-hosted the podcast for the small press, “Coffee House to Go,” for several years. She teaches poetry at local elementary and middle schools and publishes a free resource for poets, “The Poetry Market Ezine.” In her free time, LB enjoys swimming, reading, and taking guitar lessons.