Tuesday, 13 April 2021

BURDEN

by Kathy Duby


If you recall
the incest,
the act,
in brutal detail
you carry that weight
ever after,
lose your potential,
always a job
never a career
always a para
never a pro
underachiever.
could you carry it?
you would not last
a minute but
I've done it
seventy-six years now.
if ya think
I'm crazy
be grateful
it ain't worse.


* * * * *

Kathy Duby lives in northern California and has been writing poetry for over 60 years. Her poems spring from the heart, or from voices in the head, or from the gut. Those from her heart are lyrical, those from her head arrive fully formed, narrated by the inner voice, those from her gut address the harsh topics of incest and child abuse. Poetry is her favored form of expression. Others include collage art, altered books, humor, and fiction.


Monday, 12 April 2021

Ground Level

by Ellen Roberts Young


Charts tell me it’s 2,183 miles
from London to Cairo. Can even crows
fly straight that far? It’s where I’ve been,
what I’ve seen, a corridor of Europe
from England’s monarchy to the Pope’s
small independent state, and then beyond.

I ventured east to Vienna, west to Spain,
spent a month in Paris as if it were
a middle ground, bought stamps in small
nations: Liechtenstein, Monaco. All
those crowded countries: no wonder
their people envision splitting into more.

I’ve travelled much farther on
the sprawling network of U.S. highways,
this country’s enormous space. The American
child begins on one block, steps to a store,
grows into notions of space and time
the inverse of Europe’s, works back
only to 1492. And then the dinosaurs?


* * * * *

"Ground Level" is from Ellen Roberts Young's chapbook Transported (Finishing Line Press, 2021).

Ellen Roberts Young’s chapbook, Transported, describes her travels in Europe and Egypt when she was twelve and their after-effects. Her poems have been published in numerous print and online journals; she also has a new full-length collection, Lost in the Greenwood, about unicorn tapestries of five hundred years ago. She is an editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal and blogs at 
www.freethoughtandmetaphor.com. Her website is www.ellenrobertsyoung.com.


Sunday, 11 April 2021

Centripetal Forces

by Ellen Roberts Young


Five lean on each other,
two parents, three children,
no child’s star, pointing outward.

Linked like Olympic rings
they learn piastres, lire, share
a rich diet of museums, churches,

operas. Together they enter
the English book store,
stop for mail at American Express.

Mama and Papa study the language,
put children in English-speaking schools.
No classmates come to visit.

The five avoid quarrels, having
only each other, their neighbors strangers.
The children can wander

only on Venice’s carless streets,
divide on preferences for
Velazquez or Brueghel.

Returned to a home, a yard, a town
they know, each goes out to friends.
Pressure released, rings unlock,
can’t hold the family together.


* * * * *

"Centripetal Forces" is from Ellen Roberts Young's chapbook Transported (Finishing Line Press, 2021).

Ellen
 Roberts Young’s chapbook, Transported, describes her travels in Europe and Egypt when she was twelve and their after-effects. Her poems have been published in numerous print and online journals; she also has a new full-length collection, Lost in the Greenwood, about unicorn tapestries of five hundred years ago. She is an editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal and blogs at www.freethoughtandmetaphor.com. Her website is www.ellenrobertsyoung.com.

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Your party invitation just arrived

by Carolyn Martin


Calligraphed, no less. A work of art. 
Free-flowing ink. Handmade ecru.
Well-designed. Stylized. Personal.

If I replied with Sorry, out of town
or My partner needs surgery,
I’d demean myself, dishonor you.

So here’s God-honest truth: I love
close friends, but hate my dress-up clothes
and noisy social scenes where gossip

masks as pleasantry. I despise
playing up to quasi-intellects
and playing down to ignorance.

I’d rather move a word around a page
than raise a glass or pass a plate
or work a room immune to poetry.

I might be tempted to announce
Patience is a vice. A quiet mind
hears its soul. Beauty‘s felt before it’s seen.

But furrowed brows would walk away
without remark or backward glance.
I’d redeem myself by exiting.

Let me remind you I’ve become
a connoisseur of silent nights, quiet books,
and confidantes around a fire’s heat.

I’ve discovered Time’s in love with me
and she demands quick retreats
from restless chattering, abhors

one obligation more. So count me
among the shy who shun society.
My birthday gift arrives next week.


* * * * *

"Your party invitation just arrived" was previously published in Antiphon and is part of Carolyn Martin's poetry collection The Way a Woman Knows.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 125 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.


Friday, 9 April 2021

just so you know

by Carolyn Martin


this morning in the rain I chased your car
halfway down the street intent on ranting
about pots and baking pans greasing up
the sink and sheets of Fed-Ex bubble wrap
obscuring piles of mail and your grey coat
invading my green chair but I wasn’t
fast enough to catch your rearview glance
so I punched your cell to sear your day                                       
with guilt for how I felt put-upon/
crowded-out/ and all those pent-up things
I never say until they burn and how
I could forgive if you were off to work
to shop to pray not out to lunch with friends
but I struck delete when I recalled
your kiss good-bye and words we vowed to say
(Let us be kind) when love’s reduced to sniping/
blaming/hurt and smallest things conspire
to ruin sunsets on a Maui beach
or walks around our autumned neighborhood
so this is just to let you know I’ve scrubbed
the pans/re-hung your coat/cleared out debris
from my morning’s discontent practicing
Let me be kind again and then again       


* * * * *

"just so you know" was previously published in Star 82 Review and is part of Carolyn Martin's poetry collection The Way a Woman Knows.

From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 125 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.



Thursday, 8 April 2021

Reflection Queries

by Jen Schneider

 
Q1. What describes a world where no personal mirrors are permitted, yet one is constantly being watched?
 
Q2. Define watch.
 
Q3. Define mirror.
 
Q4. How are mirrors and watches similar? Different?
 
Q5. Which of the following describe a mirror’s purpose?
 
Control
Restraint
Acknowledgement
Recognition
Other
 
Q6. Which word does not belong?
 
Mirror
Reflection
Image
Surveillance
 
Q7. What word would you add to this collection? Why?
 
Control
Watch
Track
Age
 
Q8. Define age.
 
Q9. Does the aging process impact identity if one can no longer see their image?
 
Q10. Is dust on mirrors dangerous? Why?
 
Q11. If I hold my hand to a mirror and do not recognize, what/who has changed? 
 
The mirror
My hand
Myself
None of the above
All of the above


* * * * *

"Reflection Queries" was first published in
The Closed Eye https://theclosedeyeopen.com/.

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Recent work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Toho Journal, The New Verse News, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals. 



Wednesday, 7 April 2021

 

No need to say what is already known

by Jen Schneider

 
Her list is as mundane as any other, perhaps more so if I dare so say. No need to alert her. Please, don’t. She already knows.
 
The chair and the computer call, yet she does not answer. Auto-set to voicemail, along with everyone else. We all have our reasons. Her, too. Some reasons are more mundane than others. Hers, too. I hear not her fingers tap, but her voice totter then trail. They reached the end of the ABC book and the beginning of naptime. I hope she dreams. 
 
Her list is as mundane as any other.
 
Air conditioner duct is full
Baby’s diaper, too
Cat needs to go out
Dog needs to come in
Everyone needs something
Fix-ins for a square dinner
Gather bills, garner comrades for coin scavenger hunt, gabble incessantly
Hide chocolate, hide hunger
Ice boy’s scraped knee
Justify curfew to oldest girl
Kiss girl’s bruised elbow
Lecture roommate, settle laundry disputes
Make beds first, bail second, biscuits third 
Nurture - oldest boy, youngest girl, middle children, dog, cat, roommate, beau, neighbor, more
Oops, stop rambling
Poop, pee. Clean it, too. Sorry, she needs to mind her Ps and Qs 
Quiet tiny voices in and outside her head
Remind oldest boy to return teacher’s call
Stir rice, squeeze everything
Turn burgers
Unveil chore chart
Validate something
Whisk butter, withstand everything
X out thoughts bubbling in mind
Yell, loud. Cars approach
Zipper all. Turn and go


* * * * *

Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Recent work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, Toho Journal, The New Verse News, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals. 



Tuesday, 6 April 2021

SO MANY SMALL MARVELS

by Lenny Lianne


She fiddles with the back of her beach chair
as a narrow band of foam
forms a few feet out
and a wave begins to curl into itself.

When she was a little girl, she asked
her grandmother to tell her
why waves are foam
when they meet the beach.
Patiently it was explained how each

wave has its own journey. As the waves
near the beach,
they forget their own past
and, giddy at last, float in.
The bubbles, she said, were so, when
you tried to catch them in your hands,
they could wiggle themselves free.

As two or three rootless clouds
progress across the panorama
of sky above her
and fade into the rim
of the horizon,
she asks, of this life,
what still can be savored?

And answers softly: like angels
dancing on the head of a pin,
there are so many small marvels
in this graceful world:

a gull with wings extended
hovers, nearly stationary,
and the tranquil curl of a wave
she noticed only seconds ago
trembles and stretches itself
along the sun-drenched shore. 

Over and over, these pleasures reveal
the secret of each new moment:
happy are the happy.   

Monday, 5 April 2021

Dark Eyes  

by Raine Geoghegan


when the moon is high
the air static
she hears the grey wolf
howling

she sits on the earth
her head bent over
her long hair falling into mud

the smell of her sex
mingling with that of the rich soil

once she gave birth
in a barren place
a washcloth a pitcher of water

or was it blood
so much blood
her baby silenced at birth

a grey wolf with dark eyes
licking her face
its tongue cool, abrasive

he sat with her
as she cried
long tears
his soft howling brought peace

for a long time
they were both still
then he led her back to her tribe

when he left, she cried

when the moon is high
the air static
she hears the grey wolf once more.


* * * * *

Raine Geoghegan, M.A. is a poet & prose writer of Romany, Welsh and Irish descent. Nominated for the Forward Prize, Best of the Net & the Pushcart Prize, her work has been published online and in print with Poetry Ireland Review; Travellers’ Times; Under the Radar; SkyLight47; Poethead and more. Apple Water: Povel Panni was launched in 2018 listed as a Poetry Book Society Spring 2019 Selection. They Lit Fires: Lenti Hatch O Yog was published in 2019, Hedgehog Poetry Press. Her full collection, The Talking Stick: O Pookering Kosh will be published with Salmon Poetry Press in 2022.                                                             

Sunday, 4 April 2021

 

Landlady #9

by Tobi Alfier


She loves maps and keeps an atlas by her bed.
Tucked into the page of South Africa, a love letter.

Par Avion, the thin tissue with wispy thoughts
of love not to be, she let him go back to his family.

It was the right thing, and now she turns the pages
night after night, hoping to dream of beautiful

seas shaped like the clouds she watches overhead.
She waits for the pill to take effect, to soothe her back

and ready her for whatever the next day will bring.
Even sweeping hurts, and she wants to plant the walk

with colors of orange and yellow for sentimental
reasons. She is not reduced by her lost love, rather she

walks taller because of it, and she moves on.
He taught her many things, but mostly he taught her

that she was beautiful, the sweetness of her
redolent of Muscat and mint, with overtones

of lemon that he will never forget. She is ready,
the glow of their sweet laughter defining her

for the next one, the next one who wants her
for always, with no choice to be made.

The one who pins the atlas at her heart
and searches the stars until he finds her.


* * * * *

"Landlady #9" was previously published in Bellowing Ark (2009), Verse Virtual (November 2015), and it is part of Tobi Alfier's collection Slices of Alice (Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2018)

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee.  “Symmetry: earth and sky” was published by Main Street Rag. Her chapbook “Grit & Grace” was published by Orchard Street Press (March, 2021). She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Leo’s Bar ‘Round Midnight

by Tobi Alfier


Used to be a brothel, so they say.
Used to be haunted, they say that too.
Upstairs still rents by the hour,
some county ordinance, never been reversed.
Works fine for me, I just need a few hours
of shuteye, then back on the road west.

The rooms have names, not numbers.
I stay in “Carmen”. Her Puta Doll
sits up top of the dresser, a bit
of nostalgia found nowhere but in this here room,
faded roses on the wall from floor to ceiling,
movie-star mirror over the claw-foot tub,

hand-held nozzle for the lady-places.
I need to lie down on the velvet coverlet,
dream the ghost, then get to the sea,
diner coffee and a compass to guide me.

I love the desert distances, wind
like muted fury down the cracks and canyons,
sparse population of daylight hermits,
arms built for the mines, sleeping off
the night before in double-wides
and houses with green rocks for grass—
not an art gallery in sight. These are the towns

I crave, but now I need me some ocean. Waves black
and roaring, the smell that marks a territory
of wildness I miss like a tree trunk misses an ax.
The sounds, the birds. Damp fog shrouds
a mangled old pier while dark storms of a late
forecast plow sand into water. The horizon teases
like a far off place, well worth the hard math

of too many miles on unfamiliar roads. Maybe I shoulda
danced a few more at Leo’s, sized up my competition
a little bit extra, my options more careful-like,
enjoyed Carmen’s blowsy room for another hour or two,
but the road was calling. Pass me some color on the way
to the whitecaps and call me one happy woman, mesmerized
by the sunburnt road, following the thin migration
of Painted Ladies to my second home, the briny tide.


* * * * *

"Leo’s Bar ‘Round Midnight" was previously published in Gargoyle (#73, 2021) and is part of Tobi Alfier's poetry collection Symmetry: earth and sky (Main Street Rag, 2020).

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies was published by Cholla Needles Press. Symmetry: earth and sky was published by Main Street Rag. Her latest collection Grit & Grace was published by The Orchard Street Press in 2021. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (
www.bluehorsepress.com).

Friday, 2 April 2021

Subtext of a Prayer    

by Claire Massey
                                                                                                           

Wouldn’t it be sublime
if Buddhists and Hindus,
Plato and Socrates,
had been right to tout
alternate designs for atonement,
orders allowing
bonus seasons, lifetimes for amending
karmic grievances?

Who wants an eternity
of retrospection
in some white infinity
unmercifully distant
from this blue planet?

We pray for redemption by whatever means
the master planner decreed
but what we want
is the easy penance
of Return, another April to flirt
with green eyed spring, court
her tease of sun on skin,
brush of plumpened lips
and then,
her loamy breath, the quickening kiss.


* * * * *

Claire Massey is the Poet Laureate for the Pensacola, Florida branch of National Pen Women. She was a selection editor for the 2019 print edition of The Emerald Coast Review. Among other publications, her work appears or is forthcoming in Persimmon Tree, Panoply, Wilderness House Literary Review, Flights 2020 Magazine and Saw Palm: Journal of Florida Art and Literature


Thursday, 1 April 2021

 

APRIL MORNING WITH CICADASONG

by Despy Boutris


And still I’m traipsing through the fields
of wildflowers and grass and foxtails. Beyond
these fields are more fields and then more
and then the cloudless sky. Bees hovering
around coral-colored blooms, I make my way
to the river, crowned in clovers and briars,
hair more nest than hair, knees stained red
with scars. Pluck a peach from the tree rimming
someone’s property and pulse it in my hand,
inhale the scent of its skin. I’m no good
at girlhood—worse yet at being good.
Above, the moon swells in blue skies
and the cicadas keep screaming.


* * * * *

"April Morning with Cicadasong" was first published in The Berkeley Times

Despy Boutris is published or forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, Palette Poetry, Third Coast, Raleigh Review, Diode, The Indianapolis Review, and elsewhere. Currently, she teaches at the University of Houston and serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast.