Dollars and Days
It’s the worst of times
When you find you lack
The dollars and the days
And nobody seems to love you
Except Kris Kristofferson in the song
You are listening to just now, clinging
To your desperate hope that he really, really means
John Tustin is currently suffering in exile on Elba but hopes to return to you soon. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.
I love this city when darkness falls and takes the houses
hostage until morning.
The night here is different from the night
above the sea, it’s more civilized;
the small streetlamp outside
burns a hole in the flesh of the dark,
murmuring deep in its bones,
cradling it to sleep.
And then I live again;
the books on the shelves, hundreds
and hundreds of them, start to burn, just like this good
twilight in my room deserves,
every word I scribble in my notebook
starts to shine with a starry glow–
think of Van Gogh, think of Hopper–
and even if I drink a glass of water
it feels like it is full of promises for
a certain part of the night emptied of nightmares.
I look out the window and I see
a cab with squeamish passengers sleeping inside,
I see the dozing trees with their leaves
trembling slightly inside the wooden dreams
and I even can hear the music, coming from the sky,
where the night’s scraping on its anthracite
And then I see the first hints of daybreak coming
from the horizon.
That’s why I light a cigarette to force this horrible
darkness to take a step back.
Peycho Kanev is the author of 6 poetry collections and three chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Rattle, Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review, and many others. His new chapbook titled Under Half-Empty Heaven was published in 2019 by Grey Book Press
My vertical cowboy
They’ve continued to join this
landscape of art and revival
but sadly I slept through yours
having overindulged in cheap
wine and debauchery and the
suns of the lesser gods who led
me to bypass your scarlet soliloquy
your firework frills that now flash
dance the flower fields in their pink
panorama leaving the branch in
its home base of green, now that
your season’s eclipsed,
my dogwood, my cherry tree
my vertical cowboy
your descendants have come
but your blossoms still scatter
where the weeds grow lonely
the comeback of calico
the leaves to the sycamore
blues marry blondes in the
corresponding of colors
yellow belle annuals flower
up in the festival
and south of the symmetry
on the side road of secular
dwellers of dank anonymity
creviced and cracked, deep in
the psyche, this place where
the weeds grow the lonely.
Emalisa Rose is a poet, dollmaker, animal rescue volunteer. Living by a shore town has provided much of the inspiration that fuels her poetry and art. Her work has appeared in Poettree, Parrot Poems, and Echo.
A Giraffe in My Back Yard
I often see deer and wild turkeys
in my back yard, but this morning
a nebbishy-looking giraffe appeared
with baleful eyes, a downcast mouth
and a plodding gait.
He looked like he might be an incarnation
of my old friend who was also very tall
and had the same gawky walk.
It must have escaped from the Bronx Zoo
and swam across the Hudson looking for me.
When we interned at Jacobi Hospital,
a paranoid patient once remarked:
“That Doctor looks like he never
had a gay day in his life.”
My friend had a depressed mother
who spent days in the bathtub—
requiring her son to keep checking
to make sure she hadn’t drowned.
My friend grew up across the street
from the Bronx Zoo and identified
with the loneliness of the giraffes.
We went hiking every weekend.
He loved to roast marinated shish-kabob
with chocolate-covered halvah for dessert.
When I fed the giraffe the same meal,
he smiled for the first time.
Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 88-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published poems in The Antigonish Review, London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times.
there’s a way to be an Indian woman
we are always told to respect our elders; ah they are
old, their perspectives obsolete.
perhaps you agree that we are meant to be
the homemakers: “make” children whenever best for man, because only they can be
the breadwinners: who “win” dowries as preliminary payments for
the “care”: the minimal pleasure with half thrust and lips distant from
the skin: they use to display their reproductive fitness.
i don’t like their rules but i am told to be small and obey now
that i am a woman: gold
bangles gifted to me when red stained the sheets and my body became
lush green. my garden is for
another to tend. that’s why they gave me beauty—seen when they decided, the men
without the “wo” I have.
_____why can’t we be touched first? after all,
_____they pick us for the way our saris outline our hips
_____(our breeding plumage). we must impress them…not even for love!
__________imagine if our bodies had never bled red. we wouldn’t be women.
_______________imagine if we never birthed a child. we wouldn’t be women.
____________________why must a woman be a mother?
_________________________or else just a weed in the lawn?
_______________why are transgender men who give birth still women
_________________________when they don’t want the “wo”?
there’s a way to be an Indian woman without me
defining our roles as mothers—by imagining
that they don’t care to patiently aerate our soil.
i have been taught that gender is a doing, so
i have fought to do shit: own my body panathey!
the way all of us must till
we are no longer restricted like an orgasm.
Stuthi Iyer is a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh and a young poet to the world of publication. This piece is an attempt at understanding her gender role in the context of her Indian lineage. Other work is forthcoming in the Better Than Starbucks poetry magazine.
Zipping between restaurant tables with a pencil behind my ear, I found my first lover. You’re welcome, she said, as she pressed a napkin into my hand. XOXO, a phone number. We made love in my tent at the back of the trailer park. Vowed eternal company.
_____“Umbrella?” she offered me one morning as I crawled out of our tent. Too late, I was dripping cold. She wrapped me in blankets, put a cloth to my forehead.
_____“Remember the napkin, three years ago?” she said. Quaking. Pulling my face to hers.
_____Own your choices, her eyes spoke. No one will love me if you don’t.
_____“May I go now?” I asked, and she nodded.
_____“Love you,” she said.
_____Keep her company, that I could do. Ignore her company, that I could also do.
_____“Hello,” the man said when he opened his trailer door. “Good to see you again.”
_____Fingers in hair. Eyelashes on skin. Door wide. Couldn’t miss us from the tent.
_____“Be well,” she said when I returned, kissed my forehead. “Another time.”
Samantha Steiner is a visual artist and Fulbright Scholar. She holds a B.A. from Brown University and is an M.F.A. candidate in nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work is forthcoming or published in The Emerson Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, and The Citron Review. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.
She’s breaking twigs.
Each snap grows softer,
echoes down a river to the sea.
“I’ll meet you there,” her eyes whisper.
And here comes tomorrow:
there is a sunrise,
a baby girl, a trip to Paris.
We are still in bed at noon,
hiding between hotel covers,
and waiting for the world to disappear.
We wake up to sunsets.
We kiss—these dreams belong to her
and another day.
Robert Forester is an emerging poet who currently resides in Santa Cruz, CA. He attended Willamette University, where he studied Creative Writing and Philosophy. He currently teaches English in the heart of the Silicon Valley at Saint Francis High School. During his free time, he enjoys all things outdoors, from surfing to rock climbing.
A Mourning Dove, Mother’s Day in the Pandemic Year
She’s already been there a week,
day and night, in high winds, hail,
snow. Not one seed has passed her beak;
she’s that determined not to fail.
Her nest is crude, just twigs, no more,
heaped up between my gutter’s drain
and the end-board. I saw it pour
down over her, the cold hard rain,
and watched the north wind ruffle
her feathers. A red-tailed hawk
patrols above; she can’t shuffle
her feet, stretch her wings, squawk.
I’d like to help, to toss a crumb,
but afraid I’ll scare her off. So, I
keep watch, once in a while drum
on the window, a feckless ally
drawing her black eye, give a wave,
beam an encouraging grin.
That hawk’s a worry; I want to save
her from the peril she’s in.
My sympathy’s useless. I can’t do
more than cheer her, witness her fate,
hope it warms, pray the sky stays blue
and watch the future incubate.
Locked down by life’s imperatives
—two eggs, one virus—we’re both stuck fast
in our respective narratives,
unsafe and silent and harassed.
Robert Wexelblatt is a professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies. He has published seven fiction collections; two books of essays; two short novels; two books of poems; stories, essays, and poems in a variety of journals, and a novel awarded the Indie Book Awards first prize for fiction.
Born from the
after-light, examined by the
Caressed and forgotten by
the once-winter nightfall.
Guard myself and tinker
with it until
jigsawed with a chainsaw.
I’ve been tampered with by
god or wizard or
chance, spit up here
crackles piece me together.
I am holding. I am stronger
Joe Albanese is a writer from South Jersey. He has had short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry published across the United States and in ten other countries. Joe is the author of Smash and Grab, Caina, For the Blood is the Life, Benevolent King, Candy Apple Red, and a poetry collection, Cocktails with a Dead Man.
He taught me how selfish I could be
Not because I wanted a lot
But because I took it all
Betrayal is breathtaking done deliberately
He didn’t make me worse
He showed me I was no better
Did it with me, would do it to me
So do it, I’m done
Sarah Butchin writes, “I live in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I’m an MFA student, a wonderful mother to my five-year-old twins, a hard-working freelance writer, and a rather adequate wife. My debut novel In the Time of Towertown will be released through Black Rose Writing in mid-2020.”