Moving on is 50 over the limit on a snow-covered motorway, then remembering I have children. It’s dyed hair, and a tattoo, and poems written in the dark. Or in the bathtub. Like this one.
Moving on is dropping weight, getting surgery, cutting out sugar, running a 15K. It’s sitting an extra five-minutes in the car park to cry, before going home.
Moving on is a bustling twitter feed. A website, a brand, too many projects. Travel across France. It’s more lovemaking, more bedtime stories, more cuddles, more crafts.
Moving on is grieving, telling myself that you are the worst kind of dead to me. It’s knowing that you’re the kind of dead that isn’t dead at all.
Elizabeth M Castillo is a British-Mauritian poet, writer and language teacher. She lives in Paris with her family and two cats. When not writing poetry, she can be found working on her podcast or webcomic, pottering about her garden, or writing a variety of different things under a variety of pen names. She has words in, or upcoming in Selcouth Station Press, Pollux Journal, Authylem Magazine, Fevers of the Mind Press, and Tuna Fish Journal, among others.
Summer’s citrus groves and orchards offered us kids little for snacks, no ripe fruit, until finally autumn, and then we relished that after-school, georgic freedom, scrambling like colts and calves after
another numbing four-walled week of classroom duties, so we sought out those first oranges of autumn, those softening, pliable skins, digging deep, our dirty finger- nails, deep into sneezing rinds, piquant
and green, ripping off the too-tight wrap-around skins, sinking our unbrushed teeth deeper into the sweet yet acid flesh. I recall a local farmer once calling out—those were not oranges, but greens, immature like us, yet
like us, changing fast, even as we spoke, doing what citrus does best, uniting its sugar brix with sour PH, that sweet and sour taste mixing October’ s foggy days with November’s cooler mornings that opened increasingly
chilly and sweater-cold, when the oranges, the grown ups called “hamlins,” expanded suddenly from golf-ball size to baseballs, even as we clutched them in sweaty hands. Yes, a whole orchard contained, an inland inland sea, with baubles and bubbles like
like tropical Christmas trees, filling up with sweet juice. We kids just called them “Earlies” but we loved that citrus mix that satiated the paradoxical palates of adolescents—country kids growing up fast under a lengthy sun-burnt south,
where we learned from stuffy schoolbooks that fruit trees up north were called “Deciduous,” those apples, pears, peaches and cherries, yet in the groves that circled ‘round a winter haven’s chain-of lakes,
we could not imagine nature’s world beyond the evergreen leaves of mild winters, nor could we see inside the mystic spin of nature’s evolving shades and colors, nor understand the classroom biology
that explained why the rind of an orange stays green until Florida’s temperature falls near 40 degrees; therefore when we woke on those first chilly November mornings, we saw how the ethereal frost powdered the skins and rinds with concentric
circles and created for us—kids running in bare feet and cut-off jeans—the contradiction of the natural world of a sandy ridge that centered our peninsula, yet it would follow us down the winding rows and glancing blows of our lives. Was it just the steamy
climate? Or some juxtaposition of the sweet and sour of a sub-tropical fruit, something sharply contrasting, some concentricity of rainbows ‘round the rinds of expanding minds? Something gleaned in the cold-front snaps of Christmas? Something in December mornings
when the green circles of childhood spun full- circle into the ripe oranges of adolescence.
Reed Venrick usually writes poems with themes of nature.
Typical story: alone on an island. New twist: whatever you dream will come to life. Wanting company or to dare even leave the stagnant sand, you tell yourself to dream of something useful: and the next morning, you wake to seven flares. For a week, you shoot flares into the air, no one comes. But each morning, you wake to a new delight: Monday a bed to sleep in, Tuesday green bananas, Friday a pillow. By Saturday, already-ripe avocados welcome you to the day. As expected, you are getting arrogant, lonely, and want home. God-like,
with that filthy pride, no crowd to applaud. You want to go home. So tell yourself to dream of a sailboat and strong winds. Almost home! You wake and there’s a horse mistaking your hair for alfalfa, mistaking you for his owner, and you know nothing about horses.
So you dream that you’ve already read through the encyclopedia labeled H and have learned horses don’t really like saddles, don’t really need apple water-soaked bridles to keep them content. Instead you dream of a water trough and fertile soil to replace the sand. The horse sleeps open-eyed and standing up, but you already know this has something
to do with fear. New day, no water clinking into the tin. New day, and the grass seeds stay seeds. He looks at you looking at him, and both of you know this is no place for a horse. The next day, you wake and the horse is gone.
Assume your dreams were filled with horse-eating creatures. The kind with teeth that can rip through strong thigh muscles. Maybe wolves, maybe furless tigers—it doesn’t matter. He’s not coming back. Or you dreamed of a field with tall grass and wildflowers in a place where it’s always April. You dreamed of other horses, then you dreamed him there.
Sean Cho A. is the author of “American Home” (Autumn House 2021) winner of the Autumn House Publishing chapbook contest. His work can be future found or ignored in Copper Nickel, Pleiades, The Penn Review, The Massachusetts Review, Nashville Review, among others. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of California Irvine and the Associate Editor of THRUSH Poetry Journal. Find him @phlat_soda
I’d hate to leave any uncertainty regarding our position: yet if you still have any questions in that department, I’ll take them offline, as well as your contemplative stare, that pins me through with something like love.
Something like love that pins me through, with your contemplative stare: I’ll take them offline, as well as any questions in that department… Yet, if you still have any uncertainty regarding our position, I’d hate to leave.
Nicole Lee was born in Kuala Lumpur and educated at Malvern and Oxford. She has worked as a banker in Hong Kong and London and now lives in Wandsworth, works in Kew and writes poetry. She has been published in various online journals and long-listed in the National Poetry Competition.
Last night, I dreamt of rats, rats white and grey: some tiny, some as large as domestic cats. Locked in my home, frozen in candlelight, no sooner had one pair scurried off
than another entered – dropped down with its pregnant mate –
from gnawed-through ceiling plaster, narrowly missing my petrified head. Incisors flashed: sharp and ivory-white. Intelligent ‘we know you’ eyes stared me out, pierced my sanity.
I woke up sweat-soaked, heart pumping – flung open my bedroom casement, and bathed in ice-cold air.
Relieved, and strangely aroused, my hand soothed my body –
until I heard rodent feet scratching behind the skirting board, skirmishing in my attic.
Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon, [MA Creative Writing, Newcastle 2017] lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been widely published in web magazines and in print anthologies. She is a Pushcart (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee. She believes everyone’s voice counts.
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.
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”.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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
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
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).
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.