person Sophia Naz, one poem

Sophia Naz is a bilingual poet, essayist, author, editor and translator. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, in 2016 for creative nonfiction and in 2018 for poetry. Her work features in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Poetry International Rotterdam, The Adirondack Review, The Wire, Chicago Quarterly Review, Blaze Vox, Scroll, The Daily O, Cafe Dissensus, Guftugu, Pratik, Gallerie International, Coldnoon, VAYAVYA, The Bangalore Review, Madras Courier, etc. Her poetry collections are Peripheries (2015), Pointillism (2017) and Date Palms (2017). Shehnaz, a biography of her mother published from Penguin Random House in November 2019. Her site is SophiaNaz.com

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Thumbnail

When it smashed in a slammed car door she shed a universe of sound. The bed bled in fluid silence. Blood turned black before the white-coated sanguine said pins and needles baby! Broach the subject already.

To resist a piercing, refusing to capsize a frozen sea of hemoglobin, its plankton of platelets and plasma capsuled in milk-glass stillness. Underneath an icy lake blood red as algae blooms, paralyzing industry. Nothing doing. Thumb your blackened rose as rorschach test, nature of tether.

In time the nail lifts up from the nail bed, stunted crustacean raising a claw as if questioning the miscarriage of trajectories. Dear Hit or Miss did you know that crust comes from kreus, Proto Indo European for anything that begins to harden or freeze, or that the acronym for said origin is PIE which brings us back full circle to crust? Everything depends on dark matter which matters only because it alters the velocity of objects moving through it.

Dug into flesh with a savage tenacity, feral as a meathook, the jagged nail is a gnawing bipolarity, both earth and air, a wing of Lilith, a Kinnari, bird-woman in microcosm. Perhaps this is the original meaning of familiar, pain as a totemic animal, a prehistoric relic perched on her wrist.

By the seventh week she has gone through three hundred and twenty four bandaids, testimony to nail as tail of leviathan catching on any random object and ripping her cuticle. She wonders if monsters were created to give form to inchoate suffering. Many secrets have bitten the nail. Both skin and earth release their confessions under duress. The memory that resists and the memory that propels. Time is the elastic born out of this.

It is a daily autopsy, this obsession with the miniature delta of blue blackness, blood-resin sticking to the nail underside, trapped in it like a ship in a bottle. There are pilgrims in Medina right now, suffering from heat stroke under the awning of such an ill thought canopy. Each night after the half-hearted sterilization of a fat needle she pokes at blood now crud, wincing as the eye of the needle grazes raw thumb ground.

If the heaviest organ of the body is the envelope keeping the mess of our insides from spilling everywhere on the journey, then the thumbnail is a kind of milestone. A measure of the grave yardage of life. In the tactile theater of cinema verité, the thumbnail is a frame of film, flammable as any painted sheen of celluloid, while behind the scenes whorls of swollen underbelly toil on, invisible emblems of everything that is not book-knowledge. This is the light and the dark of the thumbnail, its manicured privilege, its drowned anchor.

In the trailer where she has been living since a surreal snow of ash felled everything in one unclean sweep, three small windows offer up a daily view of the burned hillside which the valiant stubble of November grass fails to cover. Home is also a thumbnail now, a file she must revisit in order to complete the catalog of loss. The woman she inhabits has resisted doing this, unanswered voicemails on her cell from the lawyer pile up like tree rings. If language is skin the words recalcitrant and cartilage rise up as ridges in an endless rosary of circular days.

At nine weeks, the gestation of the new nail is finally more than a crescent moon. She has clipped the wing of the old nail until it is no more than the beak of an emu. Soon to be extinct, like the wounded bone of a lost continent.

Towards the end the woman she inhabits goes at the nail with a tender cannibal lust, biting at it like a cat catches her kittens, by the scruff of their necks. The new nail is three quarters of the way in, eerily synchronous with the risen moon, red tinged from the smoke of wildfires raging north and south. Fire’s mouth the ultimate cannibal, sparing nothing and no one. Paradise has been lost, leaving nothing but the poisoned pints of thumbnails.

What is a nail compared to the pangs of birth? The last breath of death? A sadhu sleeps on a bed of nails, and what if one head holds a mushroom cloud and another dominoes of daisy chains? In the dream she and all seven billion are swaying in a cosmic sea, all filaments of the Pale Blue Dot called Gaia, murmuring Endling, Endling, Endling.

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person GJ Hart, one poem

GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov Cocktail, The Jersey Devil Press, the Harpoon Review and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.

::

The Ghost of Mole Hill

Not a soul on The 5.20
Except me, sitting
across in a seat
Silken over blacklands
And loam, a fleet ghost
Through newbuilds
and pubs.

If not dead it is me
Grown old
only four stops From London,
I search For my ticket
Like I’m fumbling
A telegram –
there have been
Many delays,

But now morning
Has completed
Its industry, offers
Anything if grey and nothing
Has changed –
The gap patched with ply,
I climb the gate
just a fucking field.

I remember pumpkins
like litters
Of suns – now fallow
And grief
Is gravity here, weights the weed’s
Gaze, turns the bird’s keys
Black –

I close my eyes and play:
Each time you rise up
I pound you back down
Again and again
And again.

::

person Paweł Markiewicz, haiku

Paweł Markiewicz lives in Bielsk Podlaski, Poland.  He writes meek-Apollonian-propitious haiku and he is one of winners ( Hasegawa Kai selected 「Special Selection」) of Soka Matsubara International Haiku Competition 2019.

~

a broad-leaved garlic
I begin thinking about
his – vans of soft dreams

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person JBMulligan, two poems

JBMulligan has had more than 1000 poems and stories in various magazines over the past 40 years, and has had two chapbooks published: The Stations of the Cross and THIS WAY TO THE EGRESS, as well as 2 e-books, The City of Now and Then, and A Book of Psalms (a loose translation). He has appeared in several anthologies, among them: Inside/Out: A Gathering Of Poets; The Irreal Reader; and multiple volumes of Reflections on a Blue Planet.

~*~

“Night is the better half of time!”
(Wolfgang Hildesheimer, “Sleep”)

A shape of shapes shapeless in shadow –
and cloudborn wind
shaking treesticks
at the windborne clouds’
aimless dark stampede.

Calm, at the center of the spin,
holding in, exhaling smoke,
this minimal vision:
all light evaporate
(crystallized in stars
behind the herd),
light as a dried, puffed sponge.

The internal racket of color
muted, the prodding fingers of thingness
curled in sleep’s loose fist,
the world can be given
shapes of a beauty
similar to ours,
if we had what we wanted.
Ever.

into daybreak

Snow in predawn shadow
over field and hill.

All the trees erupted.

Morning slowly fills
the bowl of the sky
with what has been lost.

Being is knowledge.

~*~

person Dmitry Blizniuk, one poem

Dmitry Blizniuk is an author from Ukraine. His most recent poems have appeared in The Pinch, Press53, Dream Catcher, Magma, Sheila Na Gig, Adelaide, The Nassau Review, Havik, Saint Katherine Review, Star 82, Pif Magazine, Naugatuck River, Lighthouse, The Gutter, Palm Beach Poetry Festival and many others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is also the author of “The Red Fоrest” (Fowlpox Press, 2018). He lives in Kharkov, Ukraine.

From another world

A branch gently taps against my window.
The steady clinking of knitting needles.
The sounds merge into the deafening magic of silence.
The silence emerges from the background of small noises
Like a girl emerges from the sea.

She deftly like a mermaid shakes the water from her hair,
Squeezes it, and puts it on her shoulder.
I take her hand. She’s trustful and tender.
We walk through the park strewn with sounds.

A crown strewn with jewels.
A coin falls on the asphalt,
A strike of a match scratches the air,
A streetcar clicks its castanets far away,
A blind man on the bench smacks his lips.

The snails of his eyes are drawn deep into their shells.
Beside him, patiently, sits a woman, upright and flat
Like the Virgin on an icon, and holds his hand.
The pines are as motionless in the sky as rocks.

It’s so quiet that one can hear
The crunch of the tiny jaws of squirrels in the pines.

Silence is a way from another world,
A path of gods paved through the musical bedlam of humanity.
In silence, one can see the eternal mess
And the pageant of elephantine ideas, images, ghosts.
Draw aside the fringed curtain of November
And listen to the silence… It’s all
That will be left of you.

(translated by Sergey Gerasimov from Russian)

person Raymond Luczak, one poem

Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of 22 books, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press) and Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman (Squares & Rebels). He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

//

MY PUNCTURED EARDRUM

1.

The eardrum, ten millimeters in size,
bottles the fizz of sound.
Our brains keep the champagne of music,
laughter and hints of swoon
bubbling happily under the cork.

2.

Even though I was deaf, music still entered me:
cigarette smoke swirled past the neon
arms wrapped around the jukebox blaring
bass, drums, guitar, and a falsetto voice.
I was stretched tight, my heart beating back.

3.

Centuries ago it was believed
that drilling into the skull of a possessed one
would allow the demon to escape
through the tiny bloodied hole.
Please, God, please free my demons.

\\

{ The Wishbone Dress – poems – Cassandra J. Bruner }

The Wishbone Dress
poems, Cassandra J. Bruner
Bull City Press, 2019

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I worry sometimes that I have been invisibly abandoned. That a context left unsaid has given its art to a museum obsessed with displaying beginnings. Beginnings only. And then, but then, there is work devoid of panic, work unlike, work with words not so much chosen but words more revealed, work that enters the dead and encodes the universal to amplify the specific, work that with its subtle harmony of discovery sings as to horn a ghost a backbone and then lures that ghost into the modified regions of beauty and transitional creation, work that asks existence for the emergency past imposed on another’s sudden body, that asks of our being here what violence we interrupted, work that is only named The Wishbone Dress, and is called into sound by Cassandra J. Bruner. Work I wish you to read, and in the reading, be unleft.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:

The Wishbone Dress by Cassandra J. Bruner