Jane Spencer//At the end of the day
don’t turn on light.
Watch the graceful
Soften each corner—
ease into the
tuck us in close to
our more resonant selves,
the need to respond.
ease of feeling loosen—
loosen it more.
there is time—
to follow, not determine—
If a thought dangles, don’t grab at it.
It can fade.
If it mattered, it will return.
Mitchell Grabois//Moray Eels
my schizophrenic lover
clenches her fists
Narrow wrists tighten
bones and sinews protrude
She takes two steps in one direction
three steps in another
whirls on me
She stops and glares:
You swim in shallow safe chlorinated waters but I swim among the great whites the moray eels the monster squid You swim in a predictable lane You say Brush teeth
make bed brush teeth make bed comply comply comply But how can I comply when I have no shore no breath no friend?
Can’t you just be my friend Hank kiss me even if my teeth are dirty even if they are grimy gritty not Close-Up teeth?
But I am a psychologist
I have responsibilities to the profession
to the hospital
I should deny her
Years and years ago when I was six, and there were four of us kids always fighting, when my mother stayed in bed the entire year, bottles under blankets, orange vials on the floor, when us kids made bologna and mayonnaise sandwiches for supper, combed each other’s gritty hair in the morning, pulling and tugging, untangling knots of nightmares, although we skipped hair ribbons and barrettes, forgot to brush our teeth and wore wrinkled dresses to school with our only-one-pair-each scuffed brown shoes, before my mother was taken away, sirens splitting the night, before my father stayed home and made sodden pancakes, when my best friend Emily brought her new red patent leather shoes to school, I stole them from her locker.
Sharon Scholl//Summer Home
The sign warns, Low Water Crossing,
where the Guadelupe puddles ankle deep
across the road. We leap from our car, raising
icy splashes, dampening clothes.
Whoops, giggles, stomps announce
our annual arrival.
Back inside, the car in first gear,
we grind up the river bank
to town center. Post office to choose
our box. Store for bread, milk,
gossip. Gas at a lone pump
on a nest of weeds.
There should be more to it –
something to account for summers
full of river, stars, bacon sizzling,
the flutter-whine of cicadas.
Even the funny taste of milk
when cows get into thistles.
There should be a term for time
that stretches like a lazy cat
into the dim forever of September.
There should be a word for towns
without main street of city hall
but large enough to fill a life
full of place remembered.
Jacob Minasian //Empty
At the glowing entrance
to the Meijer, a woman
stops at the 25 cent
toy vending machines,
small plastic and rubber
trinkets, as if she is
shopping, face without
expression, her cart carrying
bread and eggs. I walk past her
through the entrance vestibule and
past the welcomer staring blankly
away from anything reminiscent
of any thing. In my refrigerator,
on a cocktail sauce jar, a crust
sits between rim and lid.
A fortune cookie I open two
days too late is missing its fortune.
Matthew Schmidt //Chemo Limbo
I don’t know her face: 1,000 miles
across two states can’t get me excited.
In Ohio, I hear the trees
are filled with buckeyes, hardened,
and picked up, and whittled.
Iowa gloaming like an ice-storm,
sheets of frozen, suckling pavement—
one must pirouette if they know how.
Red in the silver cross of distance,
black twigs, white chalice; notes
on description tucked in my breast.
Her face horizontal in absentia,
two-toned and gasping,
or so my mouth mouths.
How to focus an eye for an other
to see. What I see wiggles into shadow,
obscure static to point through:
there, I say, in the fuzz, it’s me,
mother. Beneath the haze,
talking to her scalp.
T. and I met for a drink by the park
at twilight—it’s awkward to see
her, pauses between conversation
but her second glass of Pinot Noir
opens the gates,
how she slept with a bartender who kept a gun
on either side of the bed
showed her the real city
cut to my fiancée, in T.’s opinion
a risk at her age for pregnancy complications
she leans in on her third glass
tired from rounds—I think about home
the gentleman’s walk to her Impala
across Melpomene, a kiss on the cheek goodbye.
In the afternoon
my wife tires
during the night
has to pee four or five times
the ultrasound my awakening
as the technician slips me the image,
late April one morning sick
carries on throughout the day
sleeping through the night…
my only wish her recovery
the next day she pivots
a new moat surrounds her fort.
Yueying Guo//Mirror, Mirror
Mom, you tell me I’m an ugly girl,
and that you
don’t recall these genes from you—
so do you want to take back the name I am harboring?
After all, it’s ‘For My Daughter,’
Your daughter who will have holes between her thighs,
who can sneeze without lipstick smearing,
who can fall and behold!—
whose daughter do I see?
‘The Daughter of the Town Beauty,’
from what, a century ago?
You can be funny sometimes,
though your body sags and your face wrinkles—
even more when you pull on my hair,
my hair that that reaches my muscular, strong
Maybe I’m not all that ‘petit,’
(look, I know French!)
but my neck isn’t creasing and my hair streaked,
I didn’t get pregnant at eighteen and left behind—
although I’ve got as much daddy issues as
you’ve got man issues.
I’ve learned how to put on your concealer
on your anger on my skin and my anger in my face,
so maybe you’ll let me stand next to you
in the cosmetics store in the mall
as you layer on animal fat
until no one recognizes you.
I remember your face even when you don’t—
the mirror lies,
only my memory stays true.
I know your smiles are warm like summer poppies,
the lipstick you wear makes it seem as though you drink
nothing but blood and wine.
It’s because the mirror lied it was fashion—
it’s because you pretend you aren’t hungry
even when your ribs drill into me
and bruises align
on the fat you
tell me is ugly.
Mom, tell me,
if I stop eating,
will you start?
will you wipe off the mask you’ve painted a long time ago?
will you let me crack your mirror and look into your face—
tell you, like they never did, that you are beautiful?
Andrea Blythe and Laura Wiseman//A Wake of Crepuscular Ruin
I could live with the background hum of florescent lit rooms, but not his smell.
It slid under doors, then across my skin, slippery as wet mold. His voice
jangled like tinnitus. Every word jarred the rhythm of my pulse. You say,
Your heart once beat for him. It was not my reaching, but his, the pressure
of his hands on my waist. An arrhythmia bloomed that couldn’t be stitched
under anesthesia. It was like I breathed through plastic,
but woke to find it was only his lips. You say, You made your bed, so lie in it.
Which beds don’t lie? Which sheets aren’t damp with the stench of regret?
Last night, I slid from the window like a teen to troll the streets.
The sidewalks glittered under paper flyers, styrofoam cups, and tree litter.
Days after the election, graffiti marked the trails, tunnels, and gutters
with massive cocks, cunts, and curses. It’s nothing to worry about,
you say, voice like padding. As though I’ve never witnessed power shifts,
the wake of damage in aftershocks. You hold my hand through moonlight shadows.
What if I told you I still carry him, memories stepping on the backs of my heels?
Instead, owls call. Something dashes. An car guns the silence.
You say, I know why you’re here. Did you know he would fail to inhale
this morning, after years of apnea? His skin clammy, but no longer blue.
No neighbor has yet reported the smell. No boss phoned about his absence.
He never arranged a will. They’re going to say it was me, I whisper.
Wasn’t it, in a way? you say, laughing. You hated him enough.
We walk. Has nothing changed? Will the windows rattle as they did
when he thundered after me? Still, I mark time in stages of decay.
Desiccation sinks him into the bed. Flies buzz about his trunk.
He won’t leave, and I can’t. Even now, my body mimes him—
my hand thinning into skeletal rot, chest rasping, cheeks sagging—
a stink that permeates everything, a sour sweetness on the tongue.
Jane Spencer is an unpublished poet. Her work is lyrical and closely connected to nature.
Mitchell Grabois has had over thirteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for numerous prizes. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.
Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.
Sharon Scholl is a retired college professor who taught humanities and several world
cultures. Her chapbook, Summer’s Child, is from Finishing Line Press. Individual poems are current in Helen Literary Magazine and Muse. She convenes a lively poetry critique group of enthusiastic writers.
Jacob Minasian received his MFA in poetry from Saint Mary’s College of California, where he was the 2016 Academy of American Poets University and College Poetry Prize winner, and was awarded two MFA Advisory Board Fellowships. He was also a 2012-13 Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize winner, placing 3rd overall. His work has appeared in Poets.org, Gyroscope Review, and Causeway Lit, among others. He currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Matthew Schmidt is working on a PhD in English at the University of Southern Mississippi. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Hobart, Small Po[r]tions, Territory, Word For/Word, and elsewhere. He is an associate poetry editor at Fairy Tale Review.
Beau Boudreaux’s second book-length collection of poems, RAPUNZEL’S BRAID, was published in 2016 by Five Oaks Press. His first book of poems, RUNNING RED, RUNNING REDDER was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2012. He currently teaches at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans.
Yueying Guo is a student from New York who has briefly studied Philosophy and Art and hopes to study them in depth in college. Her artwork is currently exhibited in the ArtsConnection Program at Centerview Partners in Manhattan. She is also the Art Editor and cover maker for literary magazine For the Sonorous.
Andrea Blythe and Laura Madeline Wiseman’s collaborative poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Devilfish Review, Quail Bell Magazine, Faerie Magazine, The Drowning Gull, Yellow Chair Review, Strange Horizons, Rose Red Review, and the anthologies The World Retold (The Writers’ Guild of Iowa State University, 2016), Red Sky: poetry on the global epidemic of violence against women (Sable Books, 2016), Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press, 2017), and They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018). Visit their websites at www.andreablythe.com and www.lauramadelinewiseman.com.
Twitter: @AndreaBlythe and @DrMadWiseman