Back Where I’m From
I’m in the backseat of my own car,
Hurtling toward my hometown
With the kids up front,
Playing too loudly the first minute
Of every song they know I do not know.
My wife, their mother, lounges beside me,
Wondering how we got back here,
Staring absently out the window at a landscape
I can trace with eyes closed, winding back to family
For afternoon cocktails,
Our portable wet bar rattling and clinking
With each twist and pothole.
It’s then I recall being in my parents’ backseat
Forty years earlier,
Rolling over these same roads,
Stretching out to nap on the floorboard,
Moaning ‘How much longer?’
Dad would tell me forty-five minutes,
Nothing else. Then he’d offer five bucks
Not to ask anymore.
Alex Richardson has published poems in over thirty magazines, journals, and anthologies. His book, Porch Night on Walnut Street, came out on Plainview Press in 2007. He teaches English at Limestone University.
Father in a Drawer
After father’s funeral, after the food,
the daughter opened the drawer
next to his bed. What is this:
an expired passport, a bag of
French coins, Air France playing
Cards, 4 corks from
Domaine Matrot Bourgagne,
three photos of an unknown woman
on a beach, on a balcony, at a
sidewalk café, four Valentines
signed Sandrine, the name he
had suggested for her daughter.
Robert Halleck lives in Del Mar, California. He is a member of San Diego’s Not Dead Yet Poets. His work has recently appeared in Main Street Rag and The North Dakota Quarterly. His recent chapbook is Poems From The Blue Highways.
In this time of remote love
I shall wrap my finger around your wrist,
and lift it gently towards my lips,
politely not asking if you have washed,
for love must not wear too much gauze,
and romance kept at a safe distance
went out with the troubadours.
It’s spring and we are roadkill anyway.
Let’s take the path of least resistance
and fill our desires while we still have them.
Joseph Farley edited Axe Factory from 1986 – 2010. His poetry books and chapbooks include Suckers, Longing for the Mother Tongue, Her Eyes, and Waltz of the Meatballs. His fiction includes a novel, Labor Day, and a short story collection, For the Birds. His work has appeared previously in The Big Windows Review, and recently in Mad Swirl, Ygdrasil, Horror Sleaze Trash, US 1 Worksheets, Home Planet News Online, Wilderness House Review, and Ya’sou!
A Mountain Stream
disrupts its stones the way
a jaded player, throwing dice, makes
the same pass,
continually. In ceaseless splash, the tossed
stones buck and click,
almost to fit
the same positions once again, almost, but
not quite. I’ve walked a ways uphill
to find this source. Sunlight
refracts. Green plants
trail fingers in the wash. I fall asleep and dream
it carries me
the same way it will take these stones, slowly
at first, then gathering
headlong down the mountain’s side. And in
the tumult of its rush, I think
I hear, as I imagine they must, if a stone had
ears to claim, eventual ocean
call my name.
Susan Shafarzek‘s work has previously appeared in a number of publications, including Common Ground, The Broad River Review, The Denver Quarterly, Inkwell, and The Roanoke Review.
If Everything Is Fine
explain to me how
that blameless boy
came to be allergic
to his own blood
Taco Bell Bathroom Sutra
from the same fountain as you trash
the well-guarded key
the toilet seat, and
in total consciousness,
atop your careless pee
so poor and godly
that a dollar in a dodderer’s
is a bank deposit
I didn’t think
the train goes
I thought it goes
One of us
Colin Dodds is a writer with several acclaimed novels and poetry collections to his name. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. He’s made a living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. Colin also writes screenplays, has directed a short film, and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. He lives in New York City, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.
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.