Made For Each Other – Milton P. Ehrlich

At an Esalen retreat in ’62,
we learned to massage each other’s feet,
and treat each other to back and craniosacral bodywork.
Our dove-tailed bodies have rarely gone to sleep
without taking turns to free the Qi in a shiatsu palpation.
Like two hovering hummingbirds inhaling a euphoric scent,
we vowed to never stop breathing our honeymoon’s breath.
You’re an oasis of well-water—I’m an unsinkable Boston Whaler.
We’re connected like members of La Cosa Nostra.
I could be your Made man, wearing a diamond-studded pinky ring—
making my bones only for you, so we can remain fully connected.
Our hearts, signed, sealed and delivered by a consigliere,
who wrote Precious, Precious, Precious in the night sky,
notarized by an angel with 3 luminous eyes.

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 87- year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published many poems in periodicals such as the London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, and the New York Times.

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i woke up thinking i was Miles Davis – Paul Robert Mullen

the world will be better for this
they said

covered in scars and Mick Jagger jowls
i couldn’t make love
so i left the bedrooms
of the world
put myself on stages
where lasers hid the burning-ready
salivating red-eye
of voyeurs needing blood

we sat at windows in twos
post-show
blind to the unfamiliarity
of the sounds outside

they will open their ears
they said

tender as a habit
i motioned for the door
which wasn’t quite open
wasn’t quite shut
afraid of something less than silence
ready for seaweed
ready for pelicans in cages
the ghosts on the stairs
the fish choking on fresh air

they need to go home now
they said

the lights went down
the show was over

PAUL ROBERT MULLEN is a poet, musician and sociable loner from Liverpool, U.K. He has three published poetry collections: curse this blue raincoat (2017), testimony (2018), and 35 (2018). He has been widely published in magazines worldwide. Paul also enjoys paperbacks with broken spines, and all things minimalist. Twitter: @mushyprm35

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Desert Bone – Padhraig Nolan

1.

Born once, I turned away, rejecting zap and fumble
the intricate, the piety of lurid expectation

Born twice, I hit firm, made my report, stayed stock still
as light cracked through and sought me out

Out here I spin through frenzy until night is full of colour
slowlimbed life barely registers, lost thickets creak

2.

Tell me Lavender, tell me Lime, how is the world today
how pops your pursepocket blossom, your zest?

Daylight worn so lightly now, the cost of it shrugged off
casually, old fibres snagged on thorns

All down this longdead river, far beneath the crumbling spoor
breath is a mystery – above, air rare as Larimar

.
.
.

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Bonfire – Fizza Abbas

Charred trees stand still
The baggage is too strong
With the smoke drifting over the paddock,
carbon tunes in to a beautiful song

A barren foothold:
the mud-covered carcass of a leaf
The shrine of a stem
Staying close to the life underneath

FIZZA ABBAS is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her works have been published at many platforms including Indiana Voice Journal and Poetry Pacific.

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Toronto Before I Knew People – D S Maolalai

this was
christmas – two years ago now.
and I had gotten a job
answering phones in a hospital
and had offered to work
for the overtime
but still been given
holidays. it was
strange,
being in a city
where I knew no-one
and didn’t have any chance
of meeting them
without an open bar. I had a bottle though,
picked up on the eve,
and spent an afternoon
getting pleasantly plastered
at home
and with lemons. ordered a pizza
for my turkey lunch
and around four
wandered out
carrying a glass
and the last slice.
it was very still
without the cars going
and kids playing
on new bikes;
the whole town
quiet
as a glove on the table.
something comfortable
and crumpled up small,
without even
the potential
of making sounds.

D S MAOLALAI has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

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Burning Questions – R C deWinter

it’s i don’t know what time
and my brain is on fire
the bourbon i knocked back
is doing nothing to douse the flames

smoke curls
wreathing me in a fine grey mist
a scornful tongue teasing me
with questions i cannot answer

do i understand english
or is everything in code?

is what i think i understand
merely a celluloid projection
of my own desires?

am i all that
or a wishful fool preening
before a funhouse mirror?

the kitten scratching at my heart
is desperate to escape
and mewling
scores my bravery
with sharpeneedled claws of doubt

there will be no answers tonight

i must be up and looking human at 9
to say goodbye to a friend
committed to the earth

my soul struggles
in a bloody agony of hope to be reborn

there may never be answers

 

RC deWINTER’s poetry is anthologized in New York City Haiku (NY Times, 2017), Uno: A Poetry Anthology (Verian Thomas, 2002), Cowboys & Cocktails: Poetry from the True Grit Saloon (Brick Street Poetry, April 2019), Havik (Las Positas College, May 2019), Castabout Literature (Dantoin/Hilgart, June 2019) The Flickering Light (Down in the Dirt, June 2019), in print in 2River View, Down in the Dirt, Genre Urban Arts, Meat For Tea: The Valley Review, Pilcrow & Dagger, Pink Panther Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, The New York Times and in numerous online literary journals.

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The Price – Christine A Brooks

The moths
cursed at, by you
that gathered ‘round your
old
porch light
that I switched on so
You, would not

Stumble or tumble or
Look otherwise,

foolish

My already tattered hoodie,
now covered in
mud,
from the puddle I laid it
across so your new
Sneakers, could
stay
new and

— white.

And my body,
that I
threw in front of a train,
hoping it would slow down
So, you would be
on time
for
afternoon mass

All reminded me, that
as you dipped your
French fries in my blood, &
raised your Red Stripe to
my many shortcomings

I was
free

to join the dancing
moths in my soiled
hoodie and gather up my
blood by the
— light

of the moon.

CHRISTINE A. BROOKS is a graduate of Western New England University with her B.A. in Literature and her M.F.A. from Bay Path University in Creative Nonfiction. Most recently a series of poems, The Ugly Five, are in the 2018 summer issue of Door Is A Jar Magazine and her poem, The Writer, is in the June, 2018 issue of The Cabinet of Heed Literary Magazine. Three poems, Puff, Sister and Grapes are in the 5th issue of The Mystic Blue Review. Her vignette, Finding God, is in in the December 2018 issue of Riggwelter Press, and her series of vignettes, Small Packages, was named a semifinalist at Gazing Grain Press in August 2018. Her essay, What I Learned from Being Accidentally Celibate for Five Years was recently featured in HuffPost and on MSN. Her book of poems, The Cigar Box Poems, is due out in late 2019. https://www.facebook.com/ChrisBrooksauthor/ Twitter @OMG_its_CBrooks http://www.christinebrookswriter.com

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Singing to the Cow – Maureen Sherbondy

I belted out the entire Sound of Music
soundtrack to Denny the cow
while he chewed cud in sync with
Climb Every Mountain
Do-Re-Mi, Edelweiss.

I swear he listened,
even swaying his tail
to the daily tunes.
Then one evening on this dairy farm
in Upstate New York
I inquired about Denny’s
absence from the singalong.

Too late, the mother grinned
as she pointed to
the half-eaten meat on my plate.
Though the Von Trapps
had escaped death
by fleeing, this did not prove
to be poor Denny’s fate.

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Ylem – Mehreen Ahmed

Her name was Andromeda. She swam on satin water. Lapped up in the silk, her mind was restive. Her thoughts were agile, but discrete and non-linear. Absorbed her musings, her dreams were clear. She swam in them, out of her depths, just as well, they kept coming back. Braided in and out, oscil-lating, and edgy, they chased her almost, inconsequentially. In a way her swim impeded, these half-formed thoughts, writ on water’s hem.

In the aftermath of the war, random bodies floated. Down by the stream which eucalyptus skin coated. Covered by stringy barks, pale faces were spotted. The enemy gloated; bodies were quite bloated. Marked with agony, of the swollen bodies, some eyes shut, peculiarly, some were still open. Her focus turned in a moment.

She sat next to her mother. They chatted in an oval room, mother and daughter. Her mother looked fresh and young, way back, a maiden. Andromeda was born much later.

She asked.”Where have you been all this time?”

“I had been out to a conference,” her mother replied.

“How did it all go?”

Her mother answered, “Very good. All was good.”

“Ah, but I missed you. I really did.”

Her mother smiled. Father entered the room. His handsome face was radiant, the atmosphere lightened. Mother rose to offer him her chair. But father took a stool, sturdy and bare. Father died nearly a decade, Andromeda thought, in retrospect. The room darkened. Over the water, bold and low, fluttered a lorikeet, a flying rainbow. It seemed it was going to gouge her eyes. But the sprightly bird frolicked, passed her elbow.

The neighbour, who like a father, died indeed. She went to his funeral with a wreath. Then he dropped by to meet her that night, this reverie, held her cheat tight. When she asked him,“Have you seen God?”

“No,” he replied. This, a silent place.Where am I? This present moment. Vast, and void, this light space, offers no air. Did I die? Am I really dead?”

“No, God then?” she asked.

“Where is He? He hasn’t come to meet me, yet,” said the respondent.

“Do you miss us?” she had asked.

Tears in her dreams, she felt surreal.

“Yes, I miss your aunty,” he answered, then he vaporised like a collapsed star.

A fusion of elements, hydrogen and helium, led to the birth of a cosmic star. The helium ran out. Star collapsed. He collapsed. She saw the neighbour, driving his car; through the suburbs of his choice, with his wife, whom he referred to, as aunty. The chemicals conferred. An accident oc-curred. He died. Of her dreams. Finite lives made of infinite gasses. Of the cosmos, of the elements, life perished. Andromeda contemplated, the stuff of life. This precious breath, did it not live outside the orbit of death? Helium, and hydrogen, oxygen, iron and zinc.

Mountain passes were rugged. She walked through the terrain. A storm picked up, she looked for a spot. She found a cave. In the dark shelter, she sat amidst litter. A lightening fell outside. That creepy light, opened her mind to shadows below. She was not alone; somebody there. In a flash, the shadow disappeared. She was out of her wits. She tried to sleep. Just when she saw some cave paintings. On the wall, they looked ancient. And they were, ancient. In a bit, she saw a little boy. A broken charcoal in his hand, he sketched stirring stories, like the fall of Troy. He lit a small fire.

Lights emanating from the fire helped, this sentient boy, to see better. He drew stick figures of many shapes and sizes: tall, short, men, women and children. It was almost dark, on the rugged wall, shape of the boy silhouetted in the moonlight. Floodlights in the dark cave, paintings of tall tales, some washed up partly in the rain. Segment of a story, like this painting of an alley, people walked through with missing hands or hair. Many even defaced, in the falling rain. Colours ran down the leaves of trees, and turned them into lighter shades of green. Pure paintings filled the dingy walls, and onto the floor, some scribbles crawled.

Gallows hung without much peruse. Kings devised a horrendous ruse. Spilled blood into the soil to infuse. Children sacrificed, for fertility of the soils, far better use. Heavy harvest at stake, people kept quiet, no one to refuse. Little boys to be taken, gods to be appeased. Telltale signs of ominous days. The King’s men marched, and dragged the boy away. Off to the gallows. Off with his head. The artist, little boy, broken into shreds. In white loincloth, wrapped around his waist, the boy’s gaping horror, clouded his face. His small hands trembled. She looked through a portal. Tears, and cries of the innocent sacrifice. No one took pity at the bloody altar. Wounds remained unaltered. Cosmic parameter, a stern factor.

Flashbacks played wistful memories, she lay on a beach a mere bystander. A silent witness to the many silken dreams, lovers entwined a beautiful beginning. Sunken sands, in waxed moonlight. Of the mandala, an ephemera, imperfect finale of the drama; done and redone until time had spoken, given up on the beach, a part of resurrection. In the hours all became sand, quintessentially minus-cule, and indestructible. In the heart of it, each wave flow, atom of H2O.

Over those swelling waves, she boarded a pirate ship. And saw a thousand vessels, a war imminent. On the horizon, a ship appeared like a phantom. A skeleton of a ship, spectacularly luminous, shone in the lantern. There was a gunshot fire. She was hit. Oh! It hurt! She was hurt. She felt the pain of the gunshot. But she lived. She saw ships pass by, while her own cruised towards the nearest beach; sea-gulls, scoured the skies. Sands, the most wondrous, where monks built palaces, and played Kings and Queens. Of a greater imagination, ruled by them, the three Moirae sisters. Monks made mandalas, painstakingly intricate, human history and destiny pleached. Giant pyramids erected with care, and the Taj-Mahal, The great Ozymandias. The King of Kings, his life sized statue pitched on the beach. Immortalised in the scroll, the statue awash, the mandala destroyed, flattened to the ground.

The hollow sand; into the sand, she buried her legs deep to the waist. A hybrid formed of part sand and part flesh. At its best, a mermaid tail; she lay half covered under the clay. High on her imagina-tion, her dreams displayed, decrepit old castles’, windows’ deep splays. Such was the beach, on the edge of which, the tireless seas creased. Where romantics rode unicorns, nomads wild horses, Homer, churned verses, now deplete.

Time’s most valued, gift offerings to gods, watched this once how their altars burnt? Stars burnt out. The sun burnt. This gleaming altar made out of gold; plush gold clouds, nestled the thrones. A toy boat marooned, on gold-plaited sheet, uncertain of directions, an aluminium plate; hot liquid gold, poured into the mould, this sea basin, replete to the brim. Gods’ own altar, never to erode, shimmering and sure, until pilgrims came home.

Andromeda swam, a big hand bagged a snake. There was a man though towards dawn. He told her this, expressed a wish that he wanted to leave, to be born again.

“Born again?” she asked.

“Yes, that is possible,” he said.

“Impossible. Because in order for you to remain what you’re, you need genes from both par-ents.”

“It is possible, though,” the man said.

“What about your wife?”

“What about her?”

“Does she have a say in any of this?” she asked.

“Probably not.”

The wife loomed. But she didn’t seem to mind. She heard his desire. So, she did not hinder.

On a fevered night, in one short month, the man left for a forest, of illuminated fireflies. The blue forest sparkled, a pathway was strewn, with sprinklings of fire ubiquitously flown. Around tall trees and slim short bushes, he walked alone through a lucid forest. A forest transformed into a conduit, this hermit of a man, roamed its bended unit. Reincarnation on his mind, soul in another body, stars in the sky, twinkled a smile.

Here she was, with this lady in white, appeared in her dream, that’s how it transpired. Some sy-ringes in her hand, wet lips in betel juices, glowing with health, she stood at her bed. Holding them out, those long syringes, she knocked into her some worldly senses.

“Your mother’s injections.”

“What?”

The lady vanished. Her mother had run out of insulin and was on the brink of a disaster. The lady had come to tell her this, to ask her if, she could get her some insulin. Andromeda’s grand-mother, this dear lady, kind and Godly, rests now sadly. The silken waters blanketed her skin. Her swimming undeterred, held her by a spell. This undying chemical, once produced within her organ, the failing pancreas, now injected for survival.

“I’ve come to say goodbye,” it seemed he taunted. She looked at her brother, then understood his intent. Upon waking, she found to be true, that this saintly priest had passed away too. This dream-land, not entirely unreal, of sense perceptions, a world parallel. Sights sounds and smell, shaped up to be real, pain compounded a curious blend.

Disjointed thoughts came to pass. Mesmerising chimera seeped. Tantalising glimpse, of enormous replica, as shaded entity. Who’s to know, what’s with the truth, this wakeful life of actuality? A dream within a dream; doll within a doll, within a doll, the picture awry, always off limit. That cave painting in the rain, defaced people walked up the streets, the greens washed off. Waters dribbled over, of a partial reality, conceived by this artist in utter antipathy.

Such fragmented cognisance, manifold layered dream, alluded to allegory of the cave theme. Half a dream, a broken thought, the unfinished story, manifested to Plato’s shadow reality. This palpable existence, transcended truth, hinged on puppeteers beyond familiar scope. Answered with certitude, flung within the stars, lay a larger image, the fate of the universe. The long and short of it, dismantle the stars, dismantle Leda, a sense of foreboding descended Andromeda. For, “It is the stars, The stars alone, that govern our condition,” Shakespeare foretold

 

MEHREEN AHMED is an internationally acclaimed author. Her books, The Pacifist, is “Drunken Druid The Editors’ Choice for June 2018″, andJacaranda Blues,”The Best of Novels for 2017 – Family Novels of the Year” by Novel Writing Festival. Her flash fiction, “The Portrait” chosen to be broadcast by Immortal Works, Flash Fiction Friday, 2018. Bats Downunder, one of her short stories, selected by Cafelit editors for “The Best of CafeLit 8, 2019”.

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