Michelangelo Franchini: “Happy ending”

Happy ending

I  told  the  police  I  tried  to  save  him.  I  said  to  them  I  grabbed  his  legs,  but  he  was  already  dead,  or  so  it  seemed.  They  asked  me  a  lot  of  things,  and  I  can  understand  that  it  may  seem  a  surprisingly  weird  coincidence  that  the  man  who  found  the  hanging  body  is  the  one  who  hates  him  the  most.  Did  I  hate  him?  I  didn’t  deny  I  wanted  him  suffering.  I  told  them  that  his  death  is  nothing  but  a  relief  to  me;  still,  I  tried  to  save  him,  because  when  you  find  someone  committing  suicide,  you  immediately  try  to  help  him.  Also,  I’m  not  good  at  acting.

Elvira  was  the  first  to  arrive.  When  they  told  her  what  happened,  she  was  petrified.  They  said  we  both  were  shocked,  and  maybe  it’s  true.  Elvira  is  a  nurse,  and  that  night  she  was  at  the  hospital.  She  said,  don’t  worry,  we’ll  be  okay.  The  cop  asked  if  I  wanted  psychological  assistance,  but  I  said  I  was  okay.  They  told  me  about  the  analysis  and  the  questions.  Elvira  nodded  and  gave  them  her  cell  number,  just  in  case. 

I  clearly  remember  the  weight  of  that  body,  a  human  body  softly  swinging  from  the  ceiling.  I  tried  to  revive  the  scene  many  times,  while  Elvira  was  listening  to  me  and  holding  my  hand  gently.  She  said  it  was  the  best  thing  to  do,  to  summon  every  detail,  such  as  the  creaky  door,  the  guttural  noises,  the  thud  of  the  body  hitting  the  floor.  She  said  that,  if  I  was  too  anxious,  I  could  have  some  pills,  since  she’s  a  nurse  and  knows  how  to  get  the  right  ones  to  make  me  feel  better.  I  felt  hurt,  and  I  said  that  I  was  okay. 

She  smiled  at  me:  I  knew  you  were  strong  enough. 

I  don’t  blame  her  for  Giorgio.  The  affair  is  now  part  of  a  forgotten  life:  I  recognize  I  was  horrible,  and  even  if  I  didn’t  cheat,  I  treated  her  in  a  way  that  made  her  forced  to  cheat.  They  were  both  drunk  and  unhappy,  it  just  happened—troubling  times,  the  ones  that  made  them  live  together  in  his  beautiful  house.

Are  you  okay?

I  told  her  I  was  okay,  she  smiled.  That  night,  we  went  to  a  restaurant,  and  she  proposed  a  toast  to  our  new  life.  We  had  sex.  The  next  day  I  felt  nervous.  She  was  hysterically  cleaning  the  house.  We  argued.  Then  she  asked  me  if  I  needed  help  to  review  my  story  for  the  police.  I  told  her  I  didn’t. 

At  the  police  station,  I  told  the  cop  I  knew  everything.  They  had  been  lovers.  Marriage  is  a  hard  job.

The  cop  didn’t  seem  doubtful. 

When  I  came  back  home,  Elvira  was  worried.  It  was  all  okay,  I  said,  I  didn’t  even  forget  the  swollen  face  and  the  livid  lips.  She  hugged  me.  Everything  was  okay.  She  said  if  I  had  any  doubt,  I  could  have  the  pills.  I  think  I  may  accept. 

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Michelangelo Franchini is an Italian author, founder of the artistic collective Yawp. His stories and essays have been published by many Italian literary magazines, such as: Tuffi Rivista, Frammenti Rivista, Pastrengo Rivista, Reader for Blind, Altri Animali, Carmilla, Verde Rivista. He has a bachelor degree in literature.

Sanjeev Sethi: “Go South”

Go South
 
Your flashback
is akin to a planigraph.
Others in the album
forfeit their focus.
By and by
is it tyranny
or the thrill of transition?
All of you is a blur
like the fine print before me
without reading glasses.

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Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 30 countries. He has more than 1350 poems printed or posted in literary venues. He is joint-winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux organized by the Hedgehog Poetry Press. Recent credits: Lummox Poetry Anthology # 9, Pomona Valley ReviewEphemeral Elegies, The Cannon’s Mouth, Rochford Street Review, Otoliths, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Cameron Morse: “Canteen”

Canteen 


Out here with my father     Sun

light   day           Star  bald 

out            Side   any   siding 

with           Out    any   wall


with my father        my water     out

Here           is this      quiet  

corner         my father’s 

house is       heaven       where he lives 

without any siding outside any wall 

                      where he heaves is

the wild       the raw      scalp of silence. 

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Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New LettersBridge EightPortland Review and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Baldy (Spartan Press, 2020). He lives with his wife Lili and two children in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.  

Clara Burghelea: Three Poems

Plucked glances

These cord tote bags were my everything when I was living in Long Island.
My aunt in Rochester had dozens of them from Lancôme to Victoria’s Secret
and kept them piled up in her impeccably ordered basement, twice larger
than my rented room in Mineola. She treated me to lavish meals and shopping
trips and I never mentioned my eat-once-fast-twice days in NY, her gifts were
no match for poor grad students who saved for used books and practicum Friday
trips to Varick St. She gave me my first designer dress which I still keep all foiled
up in my Romanian closet, for the book signing tour I will never take, except none
of the totes matches the wannabe black lace and the bruised poems, the way their
bodies leap, node to node, spiked with anticipation. The tongues of longing speak
louder than thunder, heart walls upon heart walls, cast their lengthy shadow.

To the god on watch

This corner of the afternoon is mine and the eyes that won’t leave me alone.
I am robbing you of the sweet pleasure of washing the world. In blood, tears
or brine from the Black Sea. I know a Romanian song about love that tears
the flesh open, a mouth that chars every syllable, every milky daybreak tumbles
down choking these October skies bearing the weight of your smile, a knot of hunger
in every breathing throat and the drizzle that follows me everywhere. Go blind, now.

A day spent curled around your face
 
This achy October, heavy fruit thundering
down. In the grass, brown apples, warm scent
 
of spoil. Clouds smeared half-way across
the treetops. Among rotting sweetness,
 
in the tall grass, your chest that rises
and sinks unnoticed, my fingers floating
 
across familiar flesh, getting lost under
the brittle foliage. The way days oxidize,
 
tiny summer flakes coming off everything.
Who can trust the hours? The ticking two-timing
 
hands that push us farther away. Hard to imagine
what lies ahead this dangling numbness, light
 
growing softer, then deafening dark. In between,
bodies plastered to one another, awaiting winter.

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Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, she got her MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, HeadStuff, Waxwing, and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the International Poetry and Translation Editor of The Blue Nib.

George J. Searles: from “Verbatim”

from Verbatim

 
#26  
                                                               
He:  So what’s that       
     you’re reading?

She: Joyce.
He:  Joyce who???


#31
 
He: Trust me. This actually happened.
It was in The New York Times!

She: What’s that? Some kind of book or something?


#56

She: I read where global warming is actually good for the caribou; now they      
     can eat vegetation that used to be covered with ice.

He: The caribou. They’re, like…Eskimos?
 
 
#71
 
She: You don’t do nothin’ but sit in front of that t.v. all day like a god-damned prince.
 
He: I’m not a god-damned prince.
 
She: Y’can say that again!
 
 
#102

He: You’re wrong. Lots of people don’t have last names: Madonna, Prince,
    Cher….

She: I’m telling you, he had a last name: Bonaparte…Napoleon Bonaparte.

He: Here’s your Bonerpart…right here.


 
#153
 
She: I can’t stand it. You’re so into yourself right now.
 
He: No I’m not. I’m so into you.
 
She: You wish.
 
 
#161
 
He: Oh, c’mon. Cut her some slack. She can be really funny.
 
She: I know. But not “Ha Ha” funny.
 
 
# 175
 
He: Hey, look. You knew what you were getting when you married me.
 
She: I wouldn’t go that far.
 

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George J. Searles teaches English and Latin at MVCC and has also taught creative writing for Pratt and graduate courses for The New School. A widely-published literary critic, textbook author, and poet, he is a former Carnegie Foundation NYS “Professor of the Year.” He writes that the poems in his manuscript Verbatim are snippets of actual conversation he has overheard.

Roger Singer: “Faithful Cycle”

Faithful Cycle

there on a meadow flat
 
soft and equal with
weeds and flowers
life weeps up
from soil
rich with breath,
the gasp between
heaven and earth,
plain colors, yet healing
to the soul,
a bounty in season,
asleep in winter,
resting till alive
once again

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Dr. Singer is the Poet Laureate of Old Lyme, Connecticut. He has had over 1,150 poems published on the internet, magazines, and in books and is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Award Nominee. He is also the President of the Shoreline Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society. Some of the magazines that have accepted his poems for publication are:  Westward Quarterly, Jerry Jazz, SP Quill, Avocet, Underground Voices, Outlaw Poetry, Literary Fever, Dance of my Hands, Language & Culture, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Stray Branch, Toasted Cheese, Tipton Poetry Journal, Ambassador Poetry Award Massachusetts State Poetry Society, Louisiana State Poetry Society Award 2019, Arizona State Poetry Society Award 2020, and Mad Swirl Anthology 2018 and 2019.

Daniel Edward Moore: “Downpour”

Downpour
 
 
Eerie, the sound honesty makes: three syllables
trickling through lips in a room assumed to be safe & dry.
 
The weatherman said, you stayed for walls only
I could afford. A rancher redone, interrupting ruin,
 
where summers invited wounds to walk in fragrant
gowns of grace- Sweet Alyssum, Honeysuckle. It takes
 
what it takes to translate the bruise into something aromatic,
while watching the sky force the ground to drink the tears of Christ.
 
Eerie, to be a chalice of clouds above the Lake of Fire, a gray
goblet filled with relief hands refused to pour.
 

________________________________________________________________________

Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island. His poems are forthcoming in Nebo Literary Journal, Main Street Rag MagazineNixes Mate Review, Lullwater Review, Flint Hills Review, El Portal, Emrys JournalThe Meadow, and West Trade Review. He is the author of Boys (Duck Lake Books) and Waxing the Dents (Brick Road Poetry Press)

Roy Bentley: Two Poems

Little Richard in a Red Suit 
Getting into a Red Cadillac Convertible
 
It’s sometime in the 1980s in New York City.
David Bowie brings a photograph of Little Richard
 
into the studio. Shows it to his collaborator, Nile Rodgers.
Says, Nile, darling, that’s what I want my album to sound like.
 
Rodgers parks his Fender Stratocaster so he can Scotch-tape it—
the photo of Richard Wayne Penniman in a red suit getting into
 
a red Cadillac convertible—to the hexagonal piece of Plexiglas
above the recording console: a black man with Jeri curled hair
 
and loads of Attitude, enough to get him lynched in the South
in the 1950s. And though there are no words for what it says,
 
the photo with the deckled edge, we glimpse Little Richard
and the sum total of his fame thus far. The lack of a smile 

I might translate as: the world adores you until it doesn’t.
David Bowie adores him. And knows tutti frutti means
 
“all fruits” in Italian, that A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-
wop-bam-boom is untranslatable: a drum-beat rhythm
 
the Architect of Rock 'n' Roll claims to have dreamed
then risen from deep sleep to repeat like a shibboleth
 
or clandestine chord to be performed to gain entry
into whatever ungated heaven is left him, left us.



Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
 
Lucinda Williams’ song unfolds in a mythic South,
her telling kids, whether real or imagined, to pick up
after she goes. Hence, the car wheels on a gravel road.
 
I hate to say it, but the wheel is what we put a Michelin
or Goodyear or Firestone or Pirelli onto: it’s the mount.
That aside, the singer is telling kids to do something.
 
Her intention to love them and be someone they trust,
but Creation is restless. Part of her wishes to be gone,
on the road. She fantasizes summertime in the South,
 
though she knows the godawful history like it’s hers.
In the song, either side of this metaphorical roadway,
there are July-ripe cotton fields for mile upon mile.
 
Louisiana is a big Crayola box of coloration. And
what better metaphor for the human condition than
the Crayola box with the built-in sharpener: wanting
 
all the colors. If there is a gladiator, you need blood
red as daybreak over open country. Gladiatorial gore
that cottons the floor of the Colosseum. The world
 
being what it is, the imaginary champion is awaiting
wound-stitching and a bed of straw. Maybe a woman
when strong again—if she’s called in from the fields,
 
she carries the rage of leaf-fall: the scents of the world
and lovers falling back after lovemaking, looking up
to watch the so-called wheel of night-sky stars turn.
 

_________________________________________________________________________

Roy Bentley, a finalist for the Miller Williams prize for Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has published eight books, including American Loneliness from Lost Horse Press, who is bringing out a new & selected. He is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Rattle, The Southern Review, Crazyhorse, and Shenandoah among others. Hillbilly Guilt, his latest, won the Hidden River Arts / Willow Run Poetry Book Award and awaits publication.

Phillip Barcio: “Muddy Waters”

Muddy Waters

I see thousands of me standing on the sidewalks, riding the subway, lying in the grass and walking on the beach.

Who is teaching us not to trust?

The lady next to me at Muddy Waters coffee house on Valencia Street got up from her seat and walked outside to talk to someone on her cell phone. She left her laptop sitting out on the table, along with her wallet, open, with a credit card sticking out of it.

About fifteen minutes later she came back in. Everything was still sitting there exactly as she had left it. She looked at me and laughed and said, “I must be pretty trusting!”

“Why shouldn’t you be?” I asked.

What, just because this is an economically depressed neighborhood in a large American city? Just because there are desperate, homeless people asleep in almost every doorway? Just because every morning the business owners around here spend half an hour washing the urine and human feces and vomit off the sidewalk in front of their cafes and shops? What’s any of that got to do with trust?

What she didn’t know was that while she was outside talking on her phone, I counted eight people who came in off the street, ordered at the counter and left again, walking right past her stuff. One was a trembling, disheveled man in a filthy coat. He shuffled up to the counter and stared longingly at the Iranian woman who owns the cafe. She smiled at him, reached into her tip jar, pulled out some change and handed it to the man. The gentle creases around her smiling eyes as she handed him the money looked to me like sun rays lighting up the room with love.

How many other laptops and credit cards resting on vacant tables had this man walked past on his way here?

I’m not an idealist. I am only speaking from my own experience. Most people will not steal from you, even if they have the chance.

Most people will not hurt you, even if you deserve it.

Most people are ready to share whatever they have with whoever truly needs it.

Most people love each other without hesitating.

There are no enemies, only collaborators in the creation of moments, all waiting to find out what we’re going to do together next.

_______________________________________________________________________

Phillip Barcio is a fiction author, arts journalist and host of the Apocalypse Mixtape radio show. His writing has appeared in Western Humanities Review, Michigan Quarterly Review online, Space Squid, The Swamp Ape Review, and various other fine publications. He can be stalked at philbarcio.com, or around Evanston, Illinois.