Layla Lenhardt: “Little J.”

Little J.

I remember un-peeling you like a clementine
under a full moon at the Jersey shore. You were
topless in a beach house kitchen and it hurt
harder than all the skinned knees of my childhood.

We fed each other pocked strawberries, but I never
digested them, they were better stuck between
my teeth. My fingers were in your mouth, my mouth
was on your chest. We were silver and white,
a spider web on a queen sized bed.

Later, I was in a bathtub, watching my hair
float in curls around me like a noose. Your name was a spell
I cast to make myself remember that all the demons under my bed
were silenced when I was under you.

 

Layla Lenhardt is Editor in Chief of 1932 Quarterly. She has been most recently published in Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Opiate, The Charleston Anvil, and Scars. Her forthcoming poetry book, These Ghosts are Mine, is due for publication this fall. She currently resides in Indianapolis.

Darren C. Demaree: Three Poems

amend/amends/amendments #22

skulls don’t blink
our history blinds
just that way

the strength of
our bones works
just that way

the organs split
processing america every
single, damn time

 

amend/amends/amendments #23

the mouth surrounds
the delinquent apple
we should be

a nation of
delinquent apples
our parades should

choke the snake
we loosed before
we remembered gardens

 

amend/amends/amendments #24

your body is
will be i
can promise you

personally definitely will
be cleaned before
your shadow is

tucked away or
put on display
don’t slow down

 

Darren C. Demaree‘s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including Hotel Amerika, Diode, North American Review, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of eleven poetry collections, most recently Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire (June 2019, Harpoon Books). He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry and currently lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.

Cynthia Pitman: “Entangled”

Entangled

Wild briars surround me,
wielding their thorn-barbed wire,
a weapon that threatens to keep me captive.
My hands claw at the sharpened spikes,
but my hands can’t help me.
They can only bleed
from the scratches and gouges
torn into my skin
and refuse to go into battle again.
A razor-sharp scythe would help –
arming me equally,
giving me a chance to make a break
from this bristly prison
and – finally! – taste the sharp-sweet syrup
of my stolen blackberries.

 

Cynthia Pitman is a retired English teacher with poetry published in Amethyst Review, Vita Brevis, Leaves of Ink, Ekphrastic, Postcard Poems and Prose, Right Hand Pointing, Literary Yard, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Three Line Poetry, Third Wednesday (finalist, One Sentence Poem Contest), and others. Her book, The White Room, is forthcoming.

Disha Trivedi: “a marriage vow”

a marriage vow

look
__________across the bridge
where
__________once, two lovers
__________jumped,
hand in hand
for the sheer and simple joy of it.

the water was not deep.
daylight
__________had snuck up on them:
night
__________was for people
bent
__________on secrecy;
their mission
was celebration.

he jumped
__________and she fell;
unevenly
__________they went,
__________billiard balls,
and bowling pins,

dancing
__________in the air
one after
the other
__________till the whoop
__________and splash
rent
__________the water
__________like so many
unsent letters,
ready to accept a
simple correspondence.
love makes it easy

to risk drowning. for
two moments,
__________maybe three,
the people
who have gathered here today
watch and wait,
and then
__________two heads
emerge, sodden.
their mouths know only
the shape of laughter.

 

Disha Trivedi is a scientist-in-training. She currently divides her time between Scotland, New Zealand, and her native California. She has been previously published in The Women’s Issue, an anthology curated by the Harvard Advocate.

 

Thom Young: Two Poems

Love 

love came back
to haunt
us
with a gun
in her hands
we sat over
a bowl of cold cereal
and
laughed
at how the world
used to be
I never saw her again
after that
but sometimes
I hurt for no reason
at all.

 

Hell

you can find hell
in many things
in a cold stare of a lady
in a green dress
buying purple onions
and milk for a cat
that hates her.
in a small child pounding
its skull on a concrete wall
somewhere in California.
in the eyes of lovers
walking in a park at night
as Butterscotch lamps
shine on.
yes, you can hell in many
things.

 

 

Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His work has been in PBS Newshour, The Wall Street Journal, The Oxford Review, and over a hundred literary journals. He is a 2008 Million Writers Award and 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Anna Teresa Slater: “Forty-Two”

Forty-Two

Milk, mum, nappies, mum, milk, sometimes dad,
blanket wrap, a squeezy duck,
a twinkling tin can with useful words:
tears   broken window   not that,
elephant-shaped milk chocolate cornflakes,
please, something to make them stop.
Pimple-popping machine, mouth filter,
box wine, a joint, true love’s kiss,
that boy at the dance, a seventh chance,
condoms, pepper spray, ice pack,
an eraser to rub it all out,
sometimes dad to hold me up.

A passport, yen, rubles, rupees, pounds,
a real reason to go home,
black coffee, god, Simone de Beauvoir,
a self-slap, a megaphone,
a forgiving church, a midday nap,
a warning before the call.

Old photos of them, alive and young,
something else to hold me up,
hair dye, another day, midnight song,
milk tea, Tao Te Ching, white lies,
a twinkling tin can with useful words:

Accept  Let go   It’s okay.

 

Anna Teresa Slater is a high school literature and drama teacher from the Philippines and is a postgraduate student in Creative Writing at Lancaster University. Four of her poems have been published in a local anthology and she has two poems in an online protest lit repository. She lives on a farm with her husband, dog, and cat.

Madelyn Kreienheder: “At Peace with Death”

At Peace with Death

I didn’t wear shoes today–
Despite knowing I’d have to sidestep
Many rocks and grains of glass-
I prefer to feel the ground, even if it hurts.

At first I let my dog choose the way
Until we neared downtown,
And as suddenly as the sun started her descent
I knew our destination.

Flanked by forgotten shop buildings
On a haggard brick road,
The sun teased my eyes
Drifting below the hill

Leaving a trail of light
Through the open doors
Of the black, barbed gate
Brooding over the cemetery.

The sun welcomed me in,
So I followed with my bare feet.

I imagine that I should feel fear
As my toes caress the cool ground others sleep in,

And yet I’ve always felt comfort instead
As I walk between the beds of the dead.

 

Madelyn Kreienheder is a senior English major at Truman State University on track to graduate in December with honors. Following graduation, she will enroll to earn a master’s degree in education to pursue a career as a high school English teacher. In the meantime, she is News Director of Truman’s radio station, a member of Truman’s Honors English Society, and a part-time waitress.