For one brief moment
the article about a beautiful
troubled woman who wrote
words in the ocean and lost
her father and mother in her
body, transformed itself
into a photograph of the
Grateful Dead, standing
in front of an old barn,
wrapped in Navajo blankets,
Ricky Garni recently retired from his work as graphic designer for a regional wine company and now works occasionally as a staff photographer for Horse & Buggy Press (Durham, NC), a gallery and design studio that uses a nifty 19th century letterpress for many of their publications.
elbow grease drumkits and a fistful of joints, that’s
what we had, how we managed to be in the spotlight
before the collapse, free from comforting
some say you reached unknown pits but I’ll follow
the footprints in search of the blue point of stress:
as you told me with nothing but strings
soul has demonic allure
Giuseppe Andrea Liberti lives in Naples, where he was born in 1992. His first poetry book, Pietrarsa (2010-2019), was published by Arcipelago itaca Press in April 2020; his poems have appeared in journals like L’Elzeviro, Levania online, la Repubblica Napoli and Critica impura. Nevertheless, he’s still trying to take himself seriously.
So It Is
I have to close my eyes to see us
Because there are only two pictures of us together
And my eyes
Have worn the photos out.
Only a few have known that she and I walked hand-in-hand
For what amounts to a short time
In the measuring of lives
And of those who knew
Most were unhappy about it
And remain so.
So it is.
I close my eyes right now and remember a kiss
That destroyed planets, gave birth to stars
And doomed my life to wanting,
So it is.
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.
Councillor Wilkinson is walking the Common,
this quiet morning, early spring,
rehearsing his farewell speech.
The councillor’s mind is tabulating.
The Common is of course his great achievement.
Chairman of the steering group, ’82 to ’89.
Common Development Committee Chairman
through to the noughties.
A sudden racket, yowls and yells.
Small boy, lost ball, a mother fraught.
The ball is wedged below the eaves
of the cricket club pavilion.
But Wilkinson has a walking stick
(an affectation, to be honest),
so reaches, crooks the ball, tugs it out.
Oh thank you, sir. They smile, walk off.
But then. Oh dear.
In tweaking out the ball, he has disturbed,
almost dislodged, a martin’s nest.
It’s angled dangerously. So he climbs
on the refuse bin, smudging the knee
of his trousers, grazing an ankle, reaches,
eases the nest to equilibrium.
Climbs down. Walks on.
Roads and Bridges Chairman. ’84 to ’92.
Forty years in local government.
Councillor Wilkinson, absorbed again,
is rehearsing his farewell speech.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has been published widely in Britain, where he has been shortlisted for the Wordsworth Trust Prize, and the USA, where he has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
One Tank of Gas
It’s good to go from west to east
you’ll get there earlier
than you think
you’re going opposite the earth’s spin
and that makes your airplane
Galileo and Ptolemy figured this out
even before there were airplanes
it’s even good to go from east to west
because the sun is at your back
you’re like Paul
singing ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’
it’s not so good going from south to north
because the people you meet up there are
as cold as the land they live in
they look at you funny and
make you feel small
if you go from north to south
it’s a recipe for heartburn
the people down there fry nearly everything they eat
plus hominy grits
biscuits and gravy
if you’re from the North and
you drive from east to west
it’s a good thing
because you’ll enjoy
gaining an hour
and with all you have to do
if you’re from the South and
you drive from east to west
it is inherently bad
you say to yourself
‘I’ve lost an hour
and I’ll never get it back’
because the little hand
just went from seven to six
an hour you earned
through your own sweat
someone just took your entitlement away
so now you are sad
and a little angry
at all those who ever hurt you
it makes you wistful
wishing for that hour
taken from your sovereign grasp
the only good thing is
there is an aeroplane overhead
going east to west
that you imagine is full of them
all snobbish flying first class
of what Bernoulli said
or the Old Farmers Almanac
just go flat like
a hushpuppy made without Bisquick
Paul Smith is a civil engineer who has worked in the construction racket for many years. He has traveled all over the place and met lots of people. Some have enriched his life. Others made him wish he or they were all dead. He likes writing poetry and fiction. He also likes Newcastle Brown Ale. If you see him, buy him one. His poetry and fiction have been published in Convergence, Missouri Review, Literary Orphans, and other lit mags.
One mistake. That one mistake.
Just one is all it takes
to send our world
into a gyro-verse that we
Still, if we could retrieve one,
mistake from the tapestry
of our lives,
which one would it be?
Remember, we’re allowed
one mistake only today.
Tomorrow’s up to random fate
(how ironic) fate sporting one
vermilion swirl on its jester
cheek with a corroded brass
bell crunching each arthritic
big toe crammed inside its
crumpled deerskin slipper.
Remember, today we’re allowed
one mistake only.
So, choose carefully.
Go, Johnny, Go!
(Listening to John Doe’s “Let’s Be Mad”)
We poets remember all those crazy nights
spent cruising the Mount Royal Tavern
or Broadway in Fells Point as though roaming
a wasteland fueled by enigmas.
Yeah, those nights spent wondering
about our next move—
should we head for home;
after all, it’s only 2 AM.
Those nights intoxicated by youthful dementia.
Those nights wandering beneath the peeling arches
of Red Door poetry readings populated
by Baltimore’s liveliest poets of the day.
Nights that delivered black rain, plus
alchemic monks dipping their waxen fingers
into pools of ecstasy, Georg Trakl style.
Nights that detonated our brains to flow
from industrial stacks coughing black plumes
above the Harbor.
All those nights that spawned a revolution
inside muscle cars fueled by flaming saddle
shoes and slide guitars!
Alan Britt has been nominated for the 2021 International Janus Pannonius Prize awarded by the Hungarian Centre of PEN International for excellence in poetry from any part of the world. Previous nominated recipients include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Bernstein, and Yves Bonnefoy. He was interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem. A graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, he currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.
there are a lot of ways to kill yourself
there are a lot of ways
to kill yourself i write
on my bathroom mirror.
i take off my shoes
and walk the streets.
it is dark, i am black,
i am female, i keep walking.
the ground is sinking,
the streetlights are sinking,
the neighbor’s dog is sinking,
the car i broke into is sinking,
the keys are not here.
i look into the rearview mirror
and the sign says no parking
between seven am and seven pm.
Chidera Abii is a Nigerian American writer. She studied fiction and poetry at the University of Virginia and is currently a Michener Fellow at the Michener Center for Writers. She lives in Austin, TX.