Identity Deconstructed – Elena Pitsilidou

The double glass sent back my first reflection;
unrecognisable, a lack with eyes
I’ve searched for answers on my mother’s breast,
a Hera with her spurting milk creating chaos
I’ve searched for meaning through shuttered words,
anthologies and lexicons, but none of it was found
I’ve searched for polis within myself,
because the Alexandrian poet said so, but still,
its iron gates were in-and-out locked down
I’ve searched for sun rays in Bible texts,
but darkness looms in doubtless quests,
the candle light again, violently, put out
I’ve searched for laughter on mountain peaks,
the Muses and the Titans refused to laugh out loud
I’ve searched for caves, the black abyss,
I swam in oceans I could drown;
“Behold!”
the great philosopher commands,
“Let’s start to go down!”

Elena Pitsilidou is based in Cyprus. Her poetry has won the 7th Undergraduate Poetry Competition 2020 of the University of Cyprus. Her writing has also appeared in print and online publications in the UK and the US, such as The Psychologist, Reader’s Digest, and We Said Go Travel.

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Einstein And Joyce In Ireland – Bill Fay

in your mind Einstein’s walking
with the attributes of thought
in your heart Joyce’s talking
existential tension taut

pencil broken paperwork
sleepy Einstein’s bending time
howling of an introvert
brave Ulysses skipping rhyme

these two met where borders blend
where hearts and minds still can meet
pub pints quenched by older men
words and numbers still compete

You can write a universe
in an ordinary day,
tell me how the moons traverse,
or this tab you’ll surely pay.

Joyce responds with scolding brands –
Make our universe sublime,
do the math for holding-hands
in my heart and in your mind.

Bill Fay has been published by Puget Sound Poetry Connection, Creative Colloquy, and the Virginia V Foundation, among others. Bill lives with his beautiful wife and their bodacious cats, Tucker and Annie, on Fox Island in Puget Sound, near Seattle. Favorite quote: “When the quill is sharp, the mind is never dull”.

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Duende – John T Leonard

Loose shingles,
gutter dust washed out
like government issued
grass seed. What now?
The president, China,
Tim Allen. Making lists as healthcare.

Remember when the wind said,
“Hold Me”
and it wasn’t a whisper?
We both heard it,
louder than a train whistle,
clearer than the leaded glass
of your father’s liquor cabinet.
In broad daylight, we ran like dogs
being pelted by steel bolts.

Around the fire now,
the stalking glow of ember, as it was
thousands of years ago when the first
story was told—but it’s not the only light
that can pull me away,
a flash from the forest,
an echo.

No comfort these days.
Without you now. Still waiting
for the day when the wind
comes for me again.

John T. Leonard is an award-winning writer, English teacher, and poetry editor for Twyckenham Notes. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. His previous works have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, december, Chiron Review, North Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, Punt Volat, High Shelf Press, Rappahannock Review, Jelly Bucket, Mud Season Review, The Blue Mountain Review, Genre: Urban Arts, Stonecoast Review, and Trailer Park Quarterly. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs. You can follow him on Twitter at @jotyleon and @TwyckenhamNotes.

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The Dream – Jane Langan

Flocks of seagull’s dive with mighty beaks
Yawing open, tongues whipping.
I run, only finding corridors of empty doors
And faceless people
With tears where eyes
Should
Be.
I look down at the blood where if cascades
Down my legs,
With clots, chunks of liver.
A baby is screaming in my arms
Its mouth open
But filled
With
Hot tar
Melting its face away.
Until the child is just molten wax
Dripping down me,
Hardening onto a sea of blood.
I walk away with Daddy Longlegs.
His taps singing, a knife on crystal.
So, we toast the admiral
In his tricorn
Hat.
Who looks at me like I’m nothing?
I feel the sweat burn my brow
And slip between my breasts.
A bald man sucks my nipple
I swat him away
And keep
Walking.
Naked.

Jane Langan’s poems were published in the anthology, Footprints and Echoes, shortlisted in the Lockdown Haiku competition with Fish Publishing, and had a special mention from The Welsh Poetry Competition. She was longlisted in the Mairtin Crawford Awards. Jane just completed an MA in Creative Writing. Jane’s Blog: http://howilikemycoffee.blogspot.com/

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Poem During A Pandemic – Courtney LeBlanc

A girl forgets she has a body
she can feel, that she exists
outside this bubble she’s created.
Once she would choose escape, run
away to a place with warm skies
and salty air. Now she stays grounded
or at least tries. She nods to the other
runners she sees, fewer each day. No
words are exchanged, a mute nod
of encouragement, sometimes
a wave. This world looks so
different from what she imagined.
She sometimes wishes to go back
to when the anxiety that raced
through her blood was due to the lover
whose name she rarely breathed
into existence. Now she stares
out windows, the world trudging
forward in a strangely silent way—
like a movie without sound, her
motions exaggerated. But if there’s no
one to witness it does it matter
if she cooks in her underwear? Does
it matter if she dances to 80s hits
at midnight? She bakes brownies,
licks the spatula, pulls the pan
out early so the brownies are so gooey
she needs a spoon to eat them. She does
this, cross-legged on the couch, her dog
curled up beside her, the world slowly
turning outside, death creeping
a little closer each day.

Courtney LeBlanc is the author of Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), chapbooks All in the Family (Bottlecap Press) and The Violence Within (Flutter Press). She is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She has her MBA from University of Baltimore and her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: http://www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.

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Condensation – Patrick Chapman

A month gone
since you spoke to anyone
not a checkout robot.

Unexpected item
in the living area –
you put the kettle on.

Indeed,
it gives you pause
to mark yourself unmissed,

alone with your operas
Farscape, Galactica, Blake
and no idea what happened.

When did everyone disperse?
Was it after that new father
passed out in his car?

You assume that the breeders
paired off and the bailout
shut their silos.

Or was it that
you blacked out once
too often? No one said it

to your face. They left you
with the spectres you detect
from time to time,

the white-smoke silhouettes
losing definition in the mist
of your malignant shame.

Now, the kettle starts to
cough, and you remember her –
the woman in that dream.

Skeleton found
in her tower-block flat.
Debits collected direct.

Until money ran out
and a bill went unmet,
no one called.

You scald the pot
and light the first
of many cigarettes.

It’s time for tea
and Christmas cake
on Terminal with Servalan.

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Skewed – A R Salandy

Societal progression is diminished
When discourse is quelled
And consumed by bias fervor,

Where to believe is to be severed,
Struck down for thoughts contrary
To a mass collective,

Merely a manipulated flock
Stricken with agendas
Solely not their own,

And derived from sweet tears
Of ancestors long gone
And ashen,

But there is no growth is systemic hatred,
Nor no power in moral judgements
Subjective, and ever contradictory,

No, there is no power in oppression,
No matter ideology,
No, no matter collective assumptions

Driven by skewed discourse contrived.

A R Salandy is a mixed-race poet & writer whose work tends to focus on social inequality throughout late-modern society. Anthony travels frequently and has spent most of his life in Kuwait jostling between the UK & America. Anthony’s work has been published 130 times. Anthony has 1 published chapbook titled ‘The Great Northern Journey’.
Twitter/Instagram: @anthony64120 https://arsalandywriter.com/ Anthony is the Co-Eic of Fahmidan Journal.

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Harmattan – Caitlin M S Buxbaum

for Rotimi

It must’ve been the Harmattan, this time;
I know, I know — this is Alaska, not Africa,
but my Nigerian friend said it’s a “pesky” wind
that bears this name, and I have to believe
the suddenness with which the latest gale blew in —
all its rage and paradoxical warmth
tearing through town in a few hours —
makes it such a force, built under pressure,
kicking that sand-like dirt in our faces (as if
we were characters in a billboard Queen song)
leaving us with nothing but the bitter,
below-zero chill, slippery roads,
and an irritatingly low level of snow
that would otherwise brighten
these black winter nights.

I believe our good friend H,
as we’ll call him, was on vacation
from West Africa, but got lost
on his way to Florida or California,
pulled along by the current of another wind,
which erred in its assumption
of his desired destination,
thus moving him to air his grievances
with us, as if we were to blame
for his unfortunate detour.

So goodbye, H — I know your
true nature now, and pray
we never meet again.

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a writer and teacher born and raised in Alaska. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching and a B.A. in English and Japanese Studies with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She currently serves as the Mat-Su Vice President of Alaska Writers Guild. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram @caitbuxbaum

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Ode: Thoughts While Clearing Ice From Stock Tanks – Ronald Tobey

A worn ash branch 2-feet long Y-shaped
the dowser whom I expected
old man toothless gaps stringy hair
gray unwashed beard hanging to his chest
patched clothes draping off a frame
lanky from cheap whiskey
as thin as an eighteen-year old fashion model
speaking in Appalachian accent I can’t decode
not the six-foot tall fifty-year old equipment operator
prosperous real estate salesman
wears spotless Land’s End outdoor work gear
keeps his well-drilling truck cab warm and clean
auger gleams in the cold November sun
most of his time on his mobile phone
juggles appointments
rod’s handles worn polished repeated use
wanders for an hour around the forested hillside
where we would build our cabin
before announcing
the divining rod pointing to the carpet
of decaying grass and tree bark
fallen oak leaves deer droppings bear scat
right here this point
upon my skeptical nod of assent
starts up his rig bores a hole through the clay
smooth rocks and boulders
below rain runoff underground channels
past tree roots
through limestone strata
at 90 feet an aquifer
gives us a steady stream
through flood and drought for house
for barn and frost-free hydrants in fields
we test the water for 500 chemicals
biologics industrial pollutants
no bacteria, no animal waste, no gasoline
or diesel fuel, no Sulphur, no fertilizers,
no contaminants at all
nothing but H2O pure as if distilled
we could sell it to city consumers
who never taste real water
or use it to produce craft vodka
compensate losses from our farming

֍

An early black and white photo of Frost
dressed in dark jacket white shirt with long sleeves
closed with French cuffs and links
as for a session of teaching or sitting for photography
looks young still
already tastes success
his face drawn
dark
alone
focused
sits in a wood armchair
leather covered cushion against the back
writes on a rough cut homemade easel
end of one board raw with saw marks
set across the arms
an opened booklet in left hand
pen held in right – a wedding ring?
signs an autograph perhaps on inside cover
I first see the photo in college
imagine the setting is his home
kitchen in Franconia.
That’s the poet’s life, I learn,
one summer with uncle and cousins in Jefferson
a few miles from Franconia
the farm land surrounding my grandparents’ cottage
cows knock down the white picket fence
my mother’s parents erect in a fit of picturesque
as they walk through Pricilla Brook flowing past
stir and muddy the water
the farmer hays the field by the cottage
he leaves a tuft of flowers
I fancy this a tribute
similarly when brush hogging
first growth grass in our cattle fields
I leave a plot of weed flowers uncut
I walk the fields to check on calves
on water levels in the stock tanks
remove grass and turf dropped from the cows’ cuds
Autumn blown leaves
ice in the Winter
I remember, of how, Frost
already thirty on his grandfather’s farm in Derry
treks the cow pasture
clears leaves from the spring
we share Platonism a useful metaphor
I move to California live in Berkeley three summers
I joke to no one’s amusement
San Francisco gave Frost to New Hampshire
New Hampshire returns the favor with me

֍

Summers I swim in the Baker River
bicycle up Highland Street hill out of town
by Hatch’s dairy that delivered milk
to the Plymouth Inn during the War
through Smith Covered Bridge
hike across Barney’s farm fields
bordering the shallow river
with blue clay banks
Barney keeps dairy cows
delivers milk in the village
I and buddies transform into blue aboriginals
clay covering our skin
caking our hair
mother shouts as I pedal away from the house
“don’t get polio”

֍

park paths silver ice
childhood memory run slide
face up swelling hurts

֍

Storms triumph
twilight fills with processions of black clouds
white light between flashes
foam churns on ships’ wakes
beyond flooded grassy fields
forests of wind felled trees
sails of a thousand ships
drop below the gray horizon
of the wine dark sea

smoke of the burning city
floods the sky
with silence no pleas

only you alone on the shore
mourn your impetuosity
beat your breasts, O maidens, and rend your garments

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Thine Own Tongue – Oakley Ayden

have you ever tasted thine own
tongue?

i’ve bitten mine so many times
i’m practically as magic as mary

sarah winifred but rather than
possessing the ability to sew my

lover’s lips with a hindering spell-
crafted stitch, the bastard sealed

mine shut up tight with his hexing

high-horsed

hocus pocus

gaslight gaslight

jargon.

and while outside my home i’m known
for letting this same tongue of mine

roam about unleashed with defenses
for the meek and am oftenly referred

to as a toil and trouble type of bitch,
never letting evil banter slither past

unchecked — within the walls of mine
own home i so often stand so soundly

silenced, subsisting through his slashings —
my tongue bitten to batch of bits which roll

around inside my mouth until it’s safe to spit
without the risk of conjuring up his peak

malicious wrath.

i often choose to choke.
‘tis less tormenting.

Oakley Ayden (she/her) is an autistic, queer writer and social justice activist with North Carolina roots. She currently lives and works in California’s San Bernardino National Forest with her two daughters.

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On The Ridiculousness Of Gold-Plated Bathtubs – John Johnson

Sir Richard Hedgeworth the Third
Lavishly bathes in
One of his 24-karat gold plated bathtubs.

Servants meticulously replenish
the lukewarm bath water,
Maintaining a Goldilocks temperature imprecisely.

Epsom salts and lavender in proportion,
To preserve his unblemished skin,
Unspoiled by a single day of hard labor.

A tray of strawberries sits on a gold table,
Chocolate dripping down his belly as his corpulent love handles bob,
Like a meatball in minestrone soup.

But baby shampoo gets in his eyes,
Sending him screaming like a big baby.
A sight to be unseen.

A large spoiled naked man stomping through his castle.

John Johnson is a writer from the suburbs of Washington, DC.

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Artemis Waits – Kyle Brandon Lee

Once was the dream of seeking space
to cross an ocean of ether to the lunar seas beyond,
complacent now, that course
for us fades, forgotten.

Numbers of man do not believe
we walked aside the pale huntress and man may stop believing
we walked between here and
her domain among stars.

Absent is our future vision
as man only believes what is presented before his eyes
but how can he see stars
in a night choked by light.

Past mother’s blue, Artemis waits
her sisters and brothers anticipating those dreamers new
who close their eyes and dream,
undeterred, unafraid.

For R.G.N.

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Mother Calling On Big Bird’s Phone – Michelle Moloney King

Carrots done. We await your orders.
Until this deer fence went up less than 10 years ago,
bees trucked in for pollination.
The purple land behind was no different from the burning foreground,
HERE the sheep are. No planting: all of the
trees naturally self-seeded a green desert full of poems
for dessert.
As they start in the praying room, oh very exciting. Clutching bottle.
Coats still on, lead us in.
Oh ye of little fate, may the best team win at the morning
charity event. I’m looking at my watch now and I don’t know,
about 15?

Michelle Moloney King is an experimental poet with an undergrad in computer science from University of Limerick post-grad in education from Hibernia College. Her interest in string theory along with her qualification in Hypnotherapy aid in her experimental poetry. She works as a primary school teacher in Co. Tipperary, is a member of Golden Vale Writers Group Her site is http://www.MichelleMoloneyKing.wordpress.com

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My Bad Choices – Holly Day

I was knuckle-deep in the governor
when the phone call came, something about a pardon
some random fluttermoth that needed to be cut free
of its cocoon. The governor muttered something
about straight razors and handkerchiefs
blood evidence and popular opinion
finished with a parable about woodchucks.
I felt the tremors begin in my hands, come up
through the floor. It was too early to give name to forgiveness.

Later that night, I dreamed
I was sleeping with the governor of the state of Indiana
and my mother had been arrested for shoplifting.
In my dream, she brought her knitting bag to her electrocution
covered her lap with a blanket and curled her feet beneath her
as if preparing to watch a nature special on TV:
something about skyscrapers and whistlepigs
two of three things that still grow in Texas.

Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest full-length poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).

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Ghosts – Beth Brooke

Over the ridge and down the hill,
where gorgeous, scented, butter- yellow,
the gorse still grows,
we follow a path sheep have made
and roe deer frequent.

At the valley bottom, a different world,
guarded by ash trees awaits us.
We walk through orchard remnants
of gnarled apples to Bushes Barn.
Flint walled, it bears the scars it gathered
in another life,
bricks plug gaps that once were windows.
The thatch is gone now, corrugated sheets
of iron form the roof, but the tap outside
still offers water, and brambles trace
the boundary of the kitchen garden.

There are ghosts here;
we stand and listen, strain to catch the echoes
of footsteps in the yard, the sweeping of a broom.
Inside, we run our hands along the fireplace oak lintel,
lean forward, peer into the ruins of the bread oven,
imagine the children who had waited there impatiently,
hungry for the loaf to be ready:
so long ago but only yesterday.

Only as we turn to go, the ghost reveals itself.
White wings strike towards us, silent
as though even the air beneath them held its breath.
I stand there, disbelieving, transfixed by
the white dish face, the yellow hooked beak.
Its jet eyes glitter in rebuke as it glides away.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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