person Simon Henry Stein

Simon Henry Stein is a writer and composer whose work has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from Always Crashing, Electric Lit, and XRAY.

~~

Five Fragments from Pale Calendar

1.

the rules unravel

some old vermillion or burnt curtain

 
 

I was a light-tongued fortuneteller who would not

bleed as planned

 
 

by the throat

by the throat

now is the time for all young men

 

2.

are there still trees there, and meaning

not subject to spin

 
 

this is not the right concrete, and not stolen

 
 

come home, all is forgiven, in the hills

too few enemies to gather a light

 

3.

I always was awake is what you

could have presented as an explanation

or a gift

 
 

condensed to a hot white point

nothing is parallel or straight

any other embrace or salutation

all the forever

 
 

now all of the nights have names

some of them are named after you

 

4.

news reports from the unstudied distance, sentence

burning off like hazard

(vs. photogenic) kind of fog

 
 

not that childhood was newly furnished

 
 

mirrors glued face-down to the hardwood floor

and dancing

dancing is how minor ghosts lose their way

 

5.

some grim thespian at the other end

of that pointed finger

 
 

some kind of useful tunnel including math

there was dust, circuitry, waste, blustering

                          I used to believe in an abstract

                          forever / storms come late or not at all

 
 

slow does not mean quiet

 
 

gathering in means promising to be alive

~~

person Visar, two poems

Visar is a writer and artist with poems previously published at ghost city press, agbowo, Kalahari review and elsewhere. Twitter: rabiutemidayo.

~*~

It’s not your first day at sea

It’s not your first day at sea
struggling to grasp them by the head

Laughing louder than the sea
Wading out wet with guilt

Reeling in the fishes
Through and through the black waters,

Dripping down till only silt —
The unholy ledger

~*~

Azure   

Before the rooster this morning
Grandmother was already barefoot on her farm
Watering plots of cassava

She wears white underclothes stopping right on her knees,
It is evening already
to permit all the heavy lifting.

When she is in the bushes she would
Do along with songs
In the voices I’ve grown

to associate with the blue sky,
hovering as clouds do
Over sunny afternoons —

A sureness of rain
To join her I fill up all the vessels
she has spaced out in the fields,

Entranced in that soprano
Seemingly all the corn ears are listening
reaching me as an incident,

With grey hairs a note is too many years
compressed into
a standable plot

She would bend over with a hoe
or a machete
while turning the bare soil, her veins enlarged

running through her arms,
reminding me how close we are apart from trees,
How close a song can.

~*~

person Marisa Crane, two poems

Marisa Crane is a lesbian fiction writer and poet. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pigeon Pages, Pidgeonholes, Drunk Monkeys, Riggwelter Press, Okay Donkey, X-R-A-Y Magazine, and elsewhere. She currently lives in San Diego with her fiancée. You can read more of her work at http://www.marisacrane.org. She tweets @marisabcrane.

~*~

Power

Wailing. Searing nerve endings. A home isn’t a home
without bodies that punish themselves. They remain silent
until the day they don’t. No one hands out earmuffs
at birth. We learn by crying. We learn by finding
what we needn’t ever find. Sometimes the medicine man
is the one that lives inside your brain. Branded like a farm animal,
I can’t forget the terror of powerlessness. What is the shape
of power? Is it anything like the form an island takes?
Isolation. Shame, misnamed. I want to lounge
in the language of self-love. Steeped in saltwater
choreography, I need to step away.
If only to shed my exoskeleton. Laying
my armor down to rest.

-*-

grocery shopping together

is an intimate experience, like peeing
in front of each other for the first time
                                            (sober)
i want to extract the excess bodies
from within your body
                the secrets of your matryoshka dolls
organic vegetables are exorbitantly priced
                i am disenchanted by everything
                but you
back home imagine me drunk
a broken crayon between my teeth
trying to scribble your name
on the coffee table
                this is a poor attempt at time travel
i want to starfish on your brain
you whisper into my mouth
                i know that you mean it               my marrow
holds itself together for you                         soft and fatty
run entirely by its id
                afraid of its own ego
when i speak to you its in thunder claps
though they are not violent
you respond with a handful of ravens
and of course i am weightless
in line                 holding the wine and beer
light as a feather             stiff as a board
the children of my past lift me
                pretend they are ghosts
i think i’ve become someone new
since being here with you

~*~

Serving – poetry – Kari Gunter-Seymour

Serving
poems, Kari Gunter-Seymour
Crisis Chronicles, 2018

A lone bird pecks
at some once-seeded thing. ‘ – from Six Months Into Your Second Deployment

I don’t know that I should start here, but will anyway, and will add my wife when I say that my son’s disorder is just the current name of the first nobody to tell us he was sick. I start here because this is where I am after reading Kari Gunter-Seymour’s gutting and sentient Serving, the narrator of which breaks bread and waits for distance to lose its warmth all the while employing a verse that enters the fog of ache on an empty stomach and proffers hunger as a photograph snapped by a child devoured by others. Here, place begins as the coordinates of one with nowhere to be and ends as an else-less language so new it has no word for return. Here, time is an error of spacing. If I am to reside for my children in a vision that has god looking over her shoulder, I must read things that know aftermath has no roots. And with its deftly prepared presence, Serving is such a thing.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
http://ccpress.blogspot.com/2018/03/CC97KariGS.html

person Natasha Kochicheril Moni, five poems

Natasha Kochicheril Moni is a 2018 Jack Straw Writer and the author of four poetry collections (The Cardiologist’s Daughter, Two Sylvias Press, 2014; Lay Down Your Fleece, Shirt Pocket Press, 2017; Nearly, Dancing Girl Press, 2018; A Nation (Imagined), winner of the 2018 Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition, forthcoming). http://www.natashamoni.com/

~

When Asked What You Know About Grief, You Remind Me

of me—that I don’t believe in umbrellas

or eggs or beets or anything

that could pass for an egg,

an umbrella, a beet.

 

You tell me there is a meadow beyond

the fence over there and how it disappeared

your dog—but that fence is falling,

has been in a perpetual state

of suspension since you and I have—

and you are allergic to fur.

 

You are in the middle of an omelet

without ketchup, only because there isn’t,

and you tell me grief is like this

as you point to your plate and I agree.

*First published in The Cardiologist’s Daughter (Two Sylvias Press, 2014)

~

When asked what you know

you tell me of a field above a hill

below a trail that keeps expanding,
how you never approached

the ocean, only collected
advances as others weeds.

You tell me the trail leads
no one. You remind me

of what migrates,
I remind you of wind

how it holds the red-tail
steady. You say current

is current, treading
inevitable—we are

featherless, our legs
relinquish. If you find

the barn empty where
the red finch sings,

if you find yourself
sudden as hunger

*First published in The Cardiologist’s Daughter (Two Sylvias Press, 2014)

~

You, Like the Fire Lilies at Fernkloof

i.

Sometimes the structure must unhinge
in pieces, not one distinct

collapse—generations
released over time.

Outside, a building begins
to fall into summer.

You watch what is scheduled.
Your daughter brings you

a pen, paper—says, “Show me.”
And you have always been in love

with the alphabet—those letters
steady as reason. You learn

to revise what escapes,
address what isn’t.

ii.

I have nothing
to offer, so I send you

thyme. Every orange
has fallen into another yard—

tired from resistance,
I collect the bone I am

cleaning. Overnight, remains
seep from what I name femur.

I pray the rust proves
the process is working.

iii.

If I walk the lake once, run
into you twice, must we—

the Canadian looms
and you, a lover

of birds, I have forgotten
to ask—I would rather

the cormorant sunning.

iv.

We were discussing what cedes,
the definition of what forces

—this is not what I would have
for you or you for yourself—

but ahead, I promise
a family of flowers,

what develops from ash,
rises from dust and you—

*First published in Magma Poetry

~

On the Way to an Undetermined Westerly Location, You Pause on the Eastern Shore

The summer after the summer we graduated
with degrees, you drove three states

south to collect me
from the fourth of July

and I had prepared
some summer fruit—

maybe nectarine—installed it
in a crust with apricot and you

led me toward my own
deck into the hazy blanket

of night that kept the crickets
singing, those bugs with lanterns

doing what they could to punctuate
the sky and you with your undeniable

grin, a slice of something sweeter
than what I could concoct—

we were the bud and the branch
and the westward leaning

the promise of continued
continental heat.

*First published in Eat this Poem contest anthology

~

To Church, To Market

Who couldn’t fall in love
over nectarines

two chins cupping juice
the confluence between

jaw/jaw peach/plum his/her
palm atop palm.

Here in the market, stand
how many ways to kiss

over corn, make church
in the hollow of strawberry.

Find yourself with the young
dahlia grower and find yourself

behind tent. Himalayan berry
in reach. Thorns may seek

your hands, offer them
as you would before Easter.

For now, there is river
enough for cleansing.

Whiskey, like summer
in your teacup.

*First published in Sirenlit

person Jason Ryberg, one poem

Jason Ryberg is the author of twelve books of poetry, six screenplays, and a few short stories. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collections of poems are Zeus-X-Mechanica (Spartan Press, 2017) and A Secret History of the Nighttime World (39 West Press, 2017). He lives part-time in Kansas City and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River.

***

Treehouse Fallen in the Backwoods

Kind of a curious thing
to come upon a fallen treehouse,
all of a sudden, in the deep Missouri backwoods
(somewhere in that hazy, uncharted zone
between North and South, noon and sundown);

one of those classic contemplative moments,
we could assume, that the universe
randomly puts in our paths, from time to time:

no other signs of civilization or human activity
of any kind for miles,

no reason one would even casually speculate
that a couple of wayward explorers could
randomly stumble upon such a scene
in an otherwise still reasonably untouched
and primeval forest setting like this,

no hoary, haggard Old Shepherd of the Hills
or prancing Tom Bombadil-like character
to spontaneously appear and tell us how
they’ve been here from the beginning,
how they’ve seen everything that’s ebbed and
flowed through these parts since God was a baby,

no one who might have passively borne witness
at that fateful isolated moment of entropic dissolution
(in the endless, Mobius loop of fateful moments
that this life of ours truly seems to be),

no one to answer what you would think
would be at least one of a number of obvious and
pressing questions that would naturally come
to one’s mind upon stumbling across a treehouse
that has fallen in the backwoods …

***

person Phoebe Wagner, five sonnet sequence

Phoebe Wagner is a writer, editor, and PhD candidate living in the high desert. She can be found on Twitter @pheebs_w and at her website phoebe-wagner.com

~*~

note: The second sonnet below, “Shin Portrait of a Cat”, was previously published by Vine Leaves Literary Journal.

~*~

The Illustrated Woman

“They were windows looking in upon fiery reality.”
—Ray Bradbury

 
 

i. The Sleeve

 
 

The sun and thumbnail moon share the pale sky
with clouds thin as the epidermis. Black pines
spread down a mountainside cliff, the roots cooled
by vein-like rivers, rivulets pooling
above a meadow. Dots of wild flowers
freckle the tussocks while a young fox stirs
in the golden grass. The tree line shades bones
bleached scar-white, but the antler remains
rise like hands praising godly carnivores
who left the perfect sculpture, picked-over
by crows and beetles. And yet, beauty waits
in bareness, so skeletons illustrate
our mantels and memories—war stories
aren’t all nightmares, and hills become valleys.

 
 

ii. Shin Portrait of a Cat

 
 

Trailer park kids down the street or a drunk
turned her Cycloptic. Maybe she traded,
the way Odin gave his for a secret—
only two eyes could save his life. She’s rank
with moxie thick as bear musk, and once dragged
a deer head to the porch, a bloody mess,
and her pelt shredded. Who did she fight off?

Next, she lost a paw but still wandered
the way a sailor returns to the sea.
After twenty-one years, her head went soft,
so Pan’s pipes drifted through her dreams and spurred
her on a final trip into the trees.

Arriving with the season’s predictions,
cats and old friends roam like constellations.

 
 

iii. Feet: Left for Mother, Right for Father

 
 

My pine tree stays evergreen as age
deteriorates her skin. Absent on earth
means alive in Heaven where her boughs spread,
strung with popcorn and angel feathers,
but before the roots die, know I planted
seeds beneath my skin. Now, needles never
brown but will they still prick my conscious?

Illness speckles spade-shaped leaves the way age
spots date well-used hands, yet dying limbs birth
small flowers. He said maturity breeds
epiphanies, so graft the survivors
onto my sapling, forming faith rooted
in lineage and troublesome terrain.
I ink a mustard seed as a promise.

 
 

iv. Forearm Sea Unicorn

 
 

The tusk spirals like a tight curl of hair,
spinning around imagination’s finger
until a tooth becomes an impaler

wielded with a vicious Viking’s care.
When ivory pierces the wave’s crest, x-ing
with another male, it is a salute

before jousting bloodies the depths. But too
slender and sensitive, the tusk, snapping
like tinder, refuses the name of lance,

except when the elder pricks his rival
with the bone twisted by time and trial,
just as a grandfather builds dominance

with a full cargo of old one-liners
earned as a shipman, during the storm’s purr.

 
 

v. Collarbone Statement:

You don’t have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.
                                                                            —C. S. Lewis

 
 

The philosopher’s stone rises from shared
lives—an amalgamation of moments
that transmutes a person, building story
from soul because legends are like mulled wine,
waiting for a timely mind to add spice
and a generation’s fresh fruit, heating
a new taste with the original heart.

Artists need to fill blank spots still unmarred
as years dirty snowflake-spirits with burnt
rubber and exhaust fumes, so I carry
oily ink the way God shaped Adam’s spine—
fingerprints left on clay skin is the price
of pushing souls beyond stasis, growing
bodies past white space as scars become art.