One Year On – Sherri Turner

It isn’t the missing, as such,
(although it is that),
not the physical,
the hands,
the four o’clock silences,
(although it is.)
It isn’t the being unanchored,
uncertain,
unsheltered,
head of the queue now.
(Is it?)
It isn’t the day’s fragments
saved up to tell,
the absent reassurance,
the unshared celebration.

It is the never,
the always,
the gone,
the where,
the what the hell.

The gone.

The always.

Sherri Turner has had numerous short stories published in magazines and has won prizes for both poetry and short stories in competitions including the Bristol Prize, the Wells Literary Festival and the Bridport Prize. Her work has also appeared in several anthologies. She tweets at @STurner4077.

Image via Pixabay

bowling with the cia – R C deWinter

i read somewhere
yes it was a reputable source
that a gaggle of scientists

whored out to the government
from thirdrate universities

have declared the prairie dog a condiment

something to be served as a piquancy
on a bun with godknowswhatelse

the prairie dog!
the prairie dog!

a tunneldwelling rodent
whose fleas make them
vectors of the plague

yes
that plague

imagine
chopping and mincing and cooking prairie dogs
to a tasty paste

and the hapless serf
at your favorite fast food palace
asking
would you like yersinia pestis sauce with that?

not to mince words
but
are you fucking kidding me?

wasn’t it bad enough when president dementia elevated ketchup
to vegetable status?

but
not to be outdone by a dead talking head
the current cockwomble is taking it
to
the next level

so

herbed maggot soup?
horse piss frosties?
peanut butter and jellyfish sandwiches?
rhus radicans
with
of course
yersinia pestis dressing?

reality’s caked with funhouse mirrors
and i’m beginning to hurt in places
i didn’t know i had

i think it’s time to
stick twigs in my hair
paint myself with woad
and dance naked in the moonlight
in the middle of the road

but hey
gotta run
it’s thursday night
and you know what that means

bowling with the cia

RC deWinter’s poetry is anthologized, notably in New York City Haiku (NY Times/2017), Coffin Bell Two (Coffin Bell/2020) in print: 2River, Adelaide, Event, Genre Urban Arts, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, the minnesota review. Night Picnic Journal, Prairie Schooner, Southword among many others and appears in numerous online publications.

Image via Pixabay

The Heliocentric Theory – Meg Smith

Much good can come
even when the sun blinds itself —
we are the only knowing,
and we spell out the words
of its spiral.
It is only these stones, hovering,
that make a sun what it is —
otherwise, nameless, and alone
awaiting its own requiem
among other great beings
of gas, dust, coal fire.

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, dancer and events producer living in Lowell, Mass. Her poetry and fiction have appeared recently in The Cafe Review, Trouvaille Review, Beliveau Review, Sirens Call, Dark Dossier, and many more. She is a past board member of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, a festival honoring Lowell native Jack Kerouac, and produces The Edgar Allan Poe Show, honoring Poe’s presence in Lowell. She is the author of five poetry books, and a short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor. She welcomes visits to megsmith.com, Twitter @MegSmith_Writer, and facebook.com/megsmithwriter.

Image via Pixabay

Partisan – John Short

She was a fragile acrobat
on broken rooftops of escape
jumping into arms euphoric
before pain had time to register.

Armies advance across steppes,
houses gutted for sustenance.
Machine guns and home-made
grenades zipping over walls.

He dreamed a nest of miracles
a golden goose in the attic;
sad executions on frozen earth
while skies remain indifferent.

The world is a tragic dancer
up in blind spaces of oblivion
running into arms euphoric
before pain has time to register.

John Short lives in Liverpool. A previous contributor to The Cabinet of Heed, he has appeared most recently in South Bank Poetry, One Hand Clapping and The Lake. His pamphlet Unknown Territory (Black Light Engine Room Press) was published in June 2020. He blogs sporadically at Tsarkoverse.

Image via Pixabay

Early Settler – Don O’Cull

My city has no streets, it moves on difficult trails
cleared in haste through a tall topography, in glimpses of red through an infection of forest.
Red called and I answered, cut my way up that first ridge and
my city festered without corners; a metaphor thick with biology.
I said the same things over and over, told fertile Earth she was safe,
like a tick doomed to the creases of a great sugar pine.

Don O’Cull’s work has appeared in Don’t Talk To Me About Love and he has been named Barnes & Nobles’ Poet of the Month. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and an MA in English from SNHU. He currently resides in St Petersburg, Florida.

Image via Pixabay

The Well – Louise Mather

the dust drifts in sunlit particles
by the window
and the garden
the weeping willow
the wishes
where is the well

you say my name
but it is not my name
it is made of glue
you have forgotten to turn out
the whirring shadows in the kitchen
made from the lights if you could find
the word stumbled
halfway up the stairs
you come with us now
rooms are not rooms
anymore

I hold my hand out
for thin blades made of airless wonder
they are unsettling you
the grey stubble itching at your face
the snails have eaten away
your eyes
cloudy blue
your smile
I do not want
the house to be sold
but the boys in your head
have been making fires

to rescue
this careless disorder of time
creaking at bones shattering
do you hear bombs closing in
ear splitting blood
where do you dissolve

you drive with your hands
my mother and uncle
when they were small
safely in the back for the day
sandwiches made from napkins
in that tank barely metres away
run

dressed in the night
in your best brown trousers
packed for the train
talking in and out of sleep
you ask them to be invited round
ghosts
to play cards with
dimensions

we cannot let go of
hand-carved furniture
sentimental jewels
lay under the chambers
secrets scrawled
into crumpled letters
that have aged
and burned away

frail
a twist of light
conjured
everything made from embers
you turn to
beautiful
strawberries in hot weather
picked
from the allotment
potatoes with earth still welded
what you make us
with memories

Louise Mather is a writer and poet from England. You can find her on Twitter @lm2020uk and her work/upcoming work in Streetcake Magazine and The Cabinet of Heed.

Image via Pixabay

Coastal Pine – Peach Delphine

How moon came to hold you
in its tide is inscribed
on the interior curve of lightning
whelk, sturdy shell of sea, wave
rolled polished thin as sky
before blue ignites, burning
away blanketing stratus.

Owl posts boundary
of palmetto and marsh, this sponge
called ground, called dirt
called land of our bones, flowering
giants of magnolia, flowering candles
of pine, heavy with resin, palms shade
the estuaries of our eyes.

Unstitched in a hard, wave levelling wind,
as if hands could dig a hole in sea
or gulls unbolt the carapace
of moon as constellations spark
on our fingertips. We abandon
structure, every house a bone
framing of pain and sorrow.

Our tongue is wind laced with gull
and tern, thunder off the Gulf,
as mockingbird borrows song
so do we, there is no supplication
in cypress or oak, no more complete
embrace than the girdling
of lightning.

We await birds, not yet fledged,
anticipation of flight wedged
in the ribs, we are tangled in fox grape
and thorn, we contain shade, our roots
reach limestone, you pressed birdsong
to my lips, cicadas paused, the deep breath
that must be remembered.

Hand fluttering, not yet ready to stretch
into wing or the vowels that undulate
between our names, brackish waters
ebb and return, whoever falls first
in these flatwoods and bays of palmetto
will be there to cushion the other
falling, cicadas singing, fern
shrouded, subsiding into sand.

Peach Delphine is a queer poet from Tampa, Florida. Former cook infatuated with what remains of the undeveloped Gulf coast. Can be found on Twitter @PeachDelphine

Image via Pixabay

The Innocents – Angela Russo

The little boy’s toy
green dinosaur
on the floor with its
jaws open wide
in a frozen roar,

in his sister’s bedroom,
sparkly cat ear headphones
on a purple pillow,
her ballet slippers
hanging on the door,

Her older brother’s
game console
still on waiting for
him to click to
his new solo battle,

on the kitchen counter is mom’s nurse badge,
car keys and purse,
mask and tissues are
protruding out,

in the laundry room,
a tug rope on the floor,
the full bowl of kibble,
a wooden gate to keep
the dog from jumping,

an unlocked case
sitting on a chair,
an empty torn box
of ammo rounds,
a smoking gun,

one fearful night in
a family’s home,
where children played,
the dog ate,
a mother called home,
are silenced,
no one should
be lost in isolation.

My non-fiction stories, essays and columns have appeared in several magazines; weekly and daily newspapers in Ohio as well as the Chicago Tribune. I am also a graduate student at Kent State University in Ohio.

Image via Pixabay

Him – Jimmy Broccoli

You fell asleep gently, my love
I covered you before the ambulance arrived
They took me away, too
Because I couldn’t stop screaming

Loving you was my life’s symphony

On this black occasion, your family is here
I dress in blue because it was your favorite color
I re-read your poems by the gravel and grass
And the minister…
And the Amazing Grace…
And the mother fucking coffin

Don’t leave me

Your mother’s awful dress
And the eulogy

Don’t talk about how good he was
He was bad at almost everything
But he loved me
And if he had only one stick of gum left
He handed it to me

No, shut up, I won’t buy your wreath
Or your flowers
To be draped upon his grave
They aren’t beautiful enough
If you knew him, you’d understand

You – you kicked him out at 16
Because he loved me
Applause that you came around years later
You never held his thoughts
As he crumbled into darkness

Don’t talk about him like you knew him

My sunrise was his and his sunset whispers my name

Oh my sweetheart, my darling
I bought you Yoda pajamas
Because he was your favorite
An unwrapped gift, but you would have laughed
I would have snapped a photo
And our friends on Facebook would have smiled

I lay upon your cold grave
My 98.6 degrees keeping you warm
You are my home, my heart, my everything

And I do not get up

Jimmy Broccoli is a Branch Manager of a library within the Greater Metropolitan Area of Atlanta. He enjoys playing with puppies and writing frightening verse. You can find him on Facebook.

Image via Pixabay

Menu of Losing Her – Nicola Ashbrook

Pasta bake with crunchy crust of cheese and seeds
And crushed up crisps,
Chicken roast
Potatoes: oiled and floured
In puffed up bowl of Yorkshire.

Fat fallen cooker, grainy pear
Bulging purple plum
Nestle together under crumble roof
Melt icy vanilla (pale yellow river)
Home grown, hand cooked, love.

Thick-set quiche, hand delivered
With skirt-frill lettuce
Christmas bauble tomato
And finely sliced
Translucent moons of cucumber

Dwindles to chocolate painted biscuit,
Pale eyed banana
In pale bellied custard,
Furrowed sea salt crisp
A kind of Communion wafer.

To sludge of sodden Weetabix:
Whole brick
Half brick
Doll-sized spoon
Nil (by mouth).

Coral knuckles of prawn float
In Earthy coconut curry
Steaming terraced lasagne
Poached egg bobs like pickled eye
In buttery onion soup

To fuel the bedside vigil;
Onlooker’s appetites
Pulling and pushing
Like the tides
Of the days –

Scrabbles for crackers and cheese
When time’s stolen by nursing
Afternoons spent preparing
Comfort food to fuel
The comforting.

Tea medicine
Chocolate medicine, for the soul
After witnessing
Injected medicine
To control

The breath
The pain
Of my life-giver
As life seep out of her
Impossible as water from a stone.

Nicola Ashbrook is fairly new to writing, having had a previous life in the NHS. She has just finished her first novel and has pieces of flash in various places online and in print. This is her first poem. She’s pretty sure it’s a poem anyway, poetry being a little baffling to her. But, sadly, it is a piece of CNF.

Image via Pixabay

Your Last Christmas – Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

give us a twirl you whisper
on borrowed breath
ever my Dad you smile
on Christmas morning
wink admire my festive dress
I blush bully my leaden feet
to circle unfurl fanned-out hopes
you’ll lose your pain to death
but not yet never yet always
sometime later
later arrives
before afternoon sarnies
cold ham with mustard
pearl onions
and rum mince pies
your Christmas teatime favourites
so I eat double helpings
some for me some for you
washed down with lukewarm beer
you hate your bitter chilled

Image via Unsplash

Becoming Crazy – Hanna Pachman

My time narrows into his phone,
waiting for him to call me,
as his brain gets morphed
into a dusty vessel of work emails.

Without warning, a bulldozer runs us over,
separating our livers from one another.
My car becomes a hollow tomb.

I scream sorry into the vortex
of wanting and kissing.

His tongue sticks out like a lizard
as I drive away, without my feet.

I land on the ground of my room,
but my shadow doesn’t follow.

I stand patiently at the window,
writing us back to life,
blinded by feathers of his muffled gasps.

One last love letter will
knock his head back into mine.

Barely existing by my breath,
I remember how good it felt
to hear him say, I love you.

Our shared music chokes me
awake at night, as I light my ears on fire.

A phantom version of me
sweats through my body,
squeezing the beginning out of my head.

I emerge as a wide-eyed child,
eager to befriend new creatures,
to wave our wild hips across
the puddle of lost lovers.

I reflect the still standing trees,
becoming a new society
of crazy to call my own.

Hanna Pachman is a poet and filmmaker who uses writing to conquer objectification, health issues, and robot brains. Her poetry has been published by or is forthcoming in Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Collidescope, What Rough Beast, Anti-Heroin Chic, Fourth & Sycamore, Oddball Magazine, and Aberration Labyrinth. Originally from Connecticut, she currently hosts a monthly poetry event, “Beatnik Cafe” and is an Assistant Editor for the poetry magazine, Gyroscope Review.

Image by Hanna Pachman

Blinds – John Tustin

I felt the heat of the sun
On my hand, my face
As I raised the blinds
Higher, higher
After a twelve hour worknight
That turned into near afternoon
Before I could put my key in the ignition,
Get home and open the blinds.
My skin is nearly paper now,
So I go back to the darkness of my bedroom,
Where the room is cool despite the weather outside.

I open the shades for effect
And to feel better about the day that will die
As soon as it lives.

Sitting in the same chair
In the same room,
The same chill shooting through my fingers
As I type this.
Forgetting why I am even writing.

My view from this window a putrid old white pickup truck
With a sign that says
RICHARD’S TERMITE AND PEST CONTROL
On the side
Sitting in the parking spot
Beside my Ford Focus
And a lawn, some trees.
I can’t see any further.
I am limited, you see.

Hours pass.
The chill continues up my fingers, my arms
Into the center of me.
Nothing good written.
I get up to close out all the lights
Even though the sun will not set
For hours.
I shut out the sun.
The language closes up,
The blinds fold in,
The darkness seeps back in.
If only you heard the poems from my lips
And you were open enough
To believe them
And I was strong enough to live them
As I uttered them….

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last dozen years. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.

Image via Pixabay

Graduation Day – Rachel Hessom

Our gowns all rustled in a plume of red,
I felt a little like a parrot, perched upon my plastic seat,
With spiky sunshine puncturing my skin,
And marbled beads of sweat running down our spines
That arched and curved in vain attempts
To stave off heat that swathed the cooing birds.
It was, of course, unfortunate that the heatwave hit
The day we were to walk the stage.
And yet it strangely added something to
The summer dream that day became,
Remembered as a Polaroid that slowly burned
When my name was called.
I smiled and tilted mortar board
If only others knew the heat
Between that teacher and myself.
I shivered as the memory called,
The way he gasped the night before,
Falling into downy pillows, still hot
With rays of sun through afternoons
Of heat of which we’d never seen before.
He shook my hand, his eyes kept low,
I saw the sweat stains on his shirt
And wished that I could call him out.
Not a woman but a student in this gown,
I knew that we would never share a bed again.

Rachel Hessom is a writer based in the UK. She writes daily poetry on her blog, patientandkindlove.com and she enjoys tweeting words that vaguely represent poems. She is currently training to be an English teacher so that that she can pass on her love of literature to the next generation.

Image via Pixabay

Early Morning Finding – Ursula Troche

Nearly empty spaces
Manifest in the early morning
Reveal themselves and other things
To be found in place where you didn’t expect
To find things you might never have considered
To look for in the first place, or even the one that follows
The first place

Like urban railway stations
Which routinely echo
The fact of the city
Slightly, time-wise, before
It wakes up, as its daily introduction
And reveals itself to itself and its witnesses

Sometimes
We need silence, as well as early mornings
To notice things
And sometimes silence is used only
As a mistaken assumption
Because just as emptiness is not necessarily empty
Silence is not necessarily silent

There are spaces within silence that reveal a world
Of undercurrents, forgotten incantations, and even
Forgotten or denied spaces, beyond the ends of sentences
Behind a wish or within unconscious walls of negligence
Lingering lonely and sometimes dangerously
Lacking memory or courage to be recalled

Silence as absence of interference
Is a good starting point for thinking
But silence, as an alternative to speaking
Elongates distances and misunderstanding
Becoming a poor substitute for dialogue

Silence, when used instead of conversation
Emulates emptiness and thereby contracts
The bridging and breathing- spaces available to us
So I like to call out here, to speak these points
Where silence has not heard a word for some time.

Image by Ursula Troche

Bridling The Devil’s Coach Horse – Sinéad McClure

In the shadow of the mountains
there sleeps spectacular insects
one whip of their sharp sting
may ring your breath away

They hide in the turf
slip to the damp bottom
where they feel welcome
in the slick, wet, heat.
They creep without fear
on the wetter side of the Ox
A man from West Sligo
once told me they have been known to kill.
Beware the black wasp.

A long beetle with a switch of
scorpion tail that twitches upwards
towards disturbance.

Don’t step on it, one sting could finish you off!

The cry of a man whose child has the frog’s lick
and knows about these things;
That same man showed us how to cut Lee ridges for potatoes.
Taught us how to keep ducks safe.
Took us fishing for salmon after
storm had swelled the river
the catch weak from the spawn
bouncing into his watery path.

Brought us to the Fairy Fort
that circled the bottom of his land
raised his hand
quietly shushing,
so we could hear them.

So I moved to the drier side of the Ox
started burning coal instead of turf.

Sinéad McClure is a writer, radio producer, and illustrator. She has written and co-produced 15 dramas that have aired on RTEjr Radio. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Crossways Literary Magazine, Meat for Tea—The Valley Review, Live Encounters—Poetry & Writing, Poethead, and The Ekphrastic Review. She often revisits the theme of the natural environment in her work and has a particular interest in wildlife conservation.

Image By H.-P. Widmer – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

On The Year’s First Compost – Jacob Riyeff

the children open eyes wide
as grey winds billow thru the alley
finally they believe me that our food
becomes deep rich earth—
a transformation they would not accept
on faith.
the centipedes and earthworms rejoice
in my work
as I bucket up their troping of rebirth.
mulberries fall round about:
dark corpuscular rain. and I trowel
in the compost, feeding the mouths of corn,
tobacco, high balancing begonias
that dance like pink chandeliers in the draft.
A mama thrush sneaks in the maple
leaves above, kids scuttling
aswirl as I dig. one lone
squash blossom flashes out
in sudden relief, life from death—
shock of yellow on black of earth.

Image via Pixabay

Walking with Stanislavski – Mike Hickman

On the first day of the course, the tutor told us to do a Stanislavski.

This was after he’d given his movie credits. A couple of bawdy British “Confessions” movies and the film that finally killed off the British horror industry. And he seemed proud of it and I was fucking awed by him with his jumper tied round his shoulders and his indoor sunglasses and his perfect teeth. I was fucking awed by his Certainty in Himself.

And then, ten minutes into the ‘lecture’, he told us to do a Stanislavski.

Which is how I found myself out on the town with the shoppers and the baby buggies and the druggies and the meths heads and the oldies, and I thought this was going to be It. This was how we were going to Learn. This was going to change my life.

I listened to a bald bloke talking to his mate on the blower about needing a “hundred Thatchers” for something and I fell into step behind him. I imitated his walk a bit – the strut and the constricted swing of the balls in the too-tight jeans – and I wondered if I could dare try to drum up conversation with him. Just ask him the time, perhaps, but in the lingo, with the old dog and pears and whatever else I could remember from the TV. ‘cos how would he know? He wouldn’t know I’d just started at the not-quite-a-University. He wouldn’t know I was an acting student.

Apart from the long coat and the scarf and the badges, that is, but I’d turned the lapels up and out and I’d adopted the walk and I could do it, I could do it, I could do it.

The bald bloke disappeared into Ladbrokes and I was left loitering around the bus station with the dirty macs and the blue rinses and the drivers with their ghee-greased DAs. That was still good, though. That was what Peter director man had suggested we do. So I sat there on a bench for half an hour, maybe an hour, and I turned my collar up further and I adopted the posture of the ardent fag smoker, although I put the biro away after attracting more than a few funny looks. Which should have been fine. Because there were plenty like that where I’d come from. Before today. Before I’d been packed off on the train to the digs and the Uni with a six pack of crisps and the single saucepan that my mother had been able to spare.

There were plenty of the lost and alone to be seen in the town centre back home. They were in their own worlds, too. How difficult could it be? Even without the White Lightning cider and the dog on a string.

The hour passed. It might well have started to rain.

When we got back to the lecture theatre, and after Peter had got off the phone to his agent to check that, once again, the film industry had no use for him, I got to hear of some of the others’ exploits. The big girl from Stoke had gone into a gay bar at 10 in the morning and had a right old time of it playing pontoon with a couple of geezers who she swore blind were wearing chaps. The self-conscious skateboarder had found himself down by the river and fed the swans whilst reciting Keats at passers-by. And a goodly quantity of the rest of the cohort had been down to HMV for the sales.

What had we learned from this, Peter wanted to know? Putting ourselves into the shoes of others. Being out there and Taking On A Part. What had we learned about the craft of being an Actor?

And this might have been the first inkling of the first hint of the first chink in the armour of this course and its pseudo-intellectual, anti-intellectual bunch of tutor poseurs who would rather have been propping up the bar in the Ivy than speaking to unwashed poxy students like us.

Because he’d thought it was a learning experience.

I’d sat there for an hour. Maybe two.

He’d thought we’d have “got something” from Being Other People.

Which meant he’d thought we knew who the hell we were.

But what really hit me, as he let us talk and he looked at his watch and he waited to scoot us out of the seats so he could get back to exercising his own seat, was the thought that should have occurred to me from the first.

Maybe the ones who’d been to HMV had known. Or had known that it wasn’t worth the knowing.

It was Day 1 of the course. And maybe some of us knew who we were well enough to have a punt at being someone else of a drizzly Monday morning, but he sure as hell hadn’t told us who the fuck Stanivlaski was.

Mike Hickman (@MikeHic13940507) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions, the Blake-Jones Review, Bitchin’ Kitsch, Bandit Fiction, Brown Bag and the Trouvaille Review.

Image via Pixabay

Someone Else’s Cat – Caitlin Buxbaum

You came to the door
like it was the last one on earth,
huddled on the welcome mat
in the single-digit snow
like your life depended on it.

When we opened our home to you,
you hurried in and
made yourself comfortable,
like you belonged.

We let you out, but you came
right back, and we couldn’t say no
in the face of your enthusiasm,
only closed the bedroom door
by sheer force of will, waking
to your laundry room cries
like new parents.

In the morning, nothing worse for wear,
we fed you and pondered our next move.
As you cozied up to us, we became
familiar, our bond fragile in the face
of some premonition of entropy
spurred by a shadowy betrayal.

To put ourselves at ease, I say,
it’s just someone else’s cat.

Image via Pixabay

Hyperbola – Shelly J Norris

Four decades later
we’re all blabbermouths
adrift on a sea of hyperbole
shouting to be heard. — Steve Rushin, Sports Illustrated, 1 Apr. 2002

In this mathematically mediocre nation
it may be difficult
for the algebraically disabled
to accurately determine variables
of the directrix—
I may not even understand this
though Socrates might parade me
before an amazed assembly of elitists
to illustrate how, behold, this under-
educated daughter of the working class
exposed to field rows and grain silos
innately does grasp lines of symmetry,
parallel rays, and cones sliced into curves—
but how to reduce Point A
at one distant end of a horizontal axis
to a singular finite cause—
a virus, a hubris, too much airtime to fill,
no handler, no filter—
this craving for simplicity
usually leads down some slippery slope
or a continuum of faulty causation
(thereby corrupting validity
of the vertical axis)—an injustice
just as sure as
when geometry is involved
I likely know not whereof I speak.
I am but deaf when promises echo
from a hollow chamber;
when an ellipse of a Center of Interest
encased in its own circular (s)hell
wherein it is both central
and the two fix’d points
adding up to no reflection and over self-
valuation utters 260,000 words of self-
adulation, I know a titmouse from a mule.
Consequently, in an oval room
a person babbling at focus point f1
is easily heard by a person
preening in a mirror at focus point f2.

These persons are the same person
yammering about himself.
This is nothing new under the sun.
If we could graph this debacle
the whole hullabaloo resembles
a boxy dragonfly, one wing steering leftward
the other straining far right tugging the
thoraxes to shreds just like that delicate
kite my father crafted from balsa
and newspapers loosely held by Elmer’s
glue and scotch tape, the same way
it split to ribbons facing its first
Wyoming gust in the untrained fists
of a five-year-old. Oh, the tantrum!
Where x and y,
where w and z
on the infinitely expanding asymptotes
represent dichotomous extremes
each symbolizes fear without qualification.
Where x champions Top Dog
shouting genius, prophet, chosen
where y satirizes the Satyr
x empathizes with Underdog
and y screams fact
and x screams fake.
In the hyperbolic hyperbola
arcing from x to w,
arcing from y to z
words heard wrongly, wrongly said
slippery words meaning something other
than their meaning, a joke, perhaps
not to the many cudgeled daily
by void adverbs, waiting . . .
waiting, waiting for one substantial
verb, for any signifier that means.
Props, his followers shout, for thinking
outside the linear box
as the graph takes on the angles and curves
of a four-horned goat’s polycerate con-
figuration, which is not as rare in nature
as you may think; it’s more common than truth
which is now endangered, nearly extinct
and the muddled axes of cause and effect
are anything but imaginary as they stretch
one end bemoaning unfair assignations
of hooves and tail and twitching ears
and one end crying in narcissistic outrage
by proxy how unfair to goats, one end decrying
endless negative and derogatory language
as they imagine Center of Interest supine, praying
in tongues to their ancient God for strength
and answers, claiming how, with no sleep
or pay this martyr transforms
to Atlas shouldering a world despised
because it so despises him.
How theoretically, parabola
can be used for deflection, radar, satellites
and concentrating the sun’s rays into hot spots
of brilliance and sanitized healing
with the precision of a head-on collision
that kills both drivers, if not for
regulatory rollbacks harming the vulnerable
like watching lightning bolts slither down
the extrados of a rainbow
and the vertex, that excluded and undecided
middle at the rise who might at any moment
slip either way,
or worse,
decide for themselves.
If not for the steepening curve
and the only thing flattening here is the earth.

Shelly Norris currently resides in the woods of central Missouri with her husband John, two dogs, and seven cats. A Wyoming native, Norris began writing poetry around the age of 12. Norris’ poems embody the vicissitudes of unrequited love and loss, dysfunctional wounds, healing quests, and the role of cats in the universal scheme.

Image via Pixabay

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