person Meg Malachi, two poems

Meg Malachi is a data analyst by day and a poet also by day. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

//

To My Half Sister

He is a summary.
A brother in synopsis.
The icky reality
of a nuclear brochure.
You and I, though left
to each other,
gawked at solipsism,
trying to evade
a space where affection
comes either whole
or not at all.

A glass never full,
We drown ourselves for years in his shortcomings
only to find that they are our own.
They are inescapable.
We drown. We are drowning.
We flocculate like backwash
and rise only to find
the ullage of love.

You and I,
Plantigrade.
But you know
the acuteness of the pain
I was not allowed
to feel into existence.
You know because it is your own.
And though I hate it—
those bleak, unaffectionate
moments we shared
those horrible slumps of
sisterhood that we carry
on our backs like corpses
of ancestors we never came to know
—he and me and you is not unknowable.

Even if
only half real,
the corners of our lips
carry his cheekbones
to our eyes
and your sweat smells just
like
mine.

/

Crossing

I occur in the middle of bills,
a subway, in the middle of day jobs
and burnt greens,
in the middle of clotheslines and
undergarments, industrial odors and natural musk.
I overlap with blue. I want to go home.
The arm of a tiny stranger swings, as if
convinced of the madness within something
nonverbal. I sift through earth
and flying hair and communal breath and wonder how long
it will be until I am still
and there is no more air left to foil.
What is it like to have flesh?
Were they always this way? Where is their symmetry?
I want to go home. Air ducks below me.
I glide in orchestra with yellowing flowers
devouring budtime.
I am bold over green; the thin blades tickle my
stomach and I never find equilibrium.
I tornado through mouths agape and buckling words, hands and fingers extended
towards me. Proposing something—normalcy, perhaps. But only for so long.
So long as they are still in this park.
So long as it is summer and their bodies are not
too cold. And their shells are rainless.
So long as I ditch my cloak.
I unfold, and amaranthine prospers.
I wear down on alabaster; my feet are light but
my shadow is heavy.
I leap towards the burnt fall of sun, converging. I want to go home.

//

person Ajay Kumar, one poem

Ajay Kumar is a student and writer based in Chennai, India. He served as the student editor of Abhivyanjana Magazine for 2017-18. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in The Bangalore Review, Eunoia, Literary Yard and Amethyst among others.

~*~

The garden at the end of the forest

If a tree could be called a forest, my mother has a garden
beneath the back wall-
                                          okra in a grow-bag, tomato in a pot.
Watered by the overflowing tank sometimes, & sometimes
by rain,
when the little things make it more than just a noise outside
the window- the whole family pausing, each from their own,
independently discovering a strange island-

              Is it raining, mother asks.
              It is raining, father answers.
              It is lightning, sister says, & will thunder.

Little things-
                            like frogs climbing the wall next to the garden,
& bathroom doors swelling up in an available desire
of ajarness, a voluntary retirement.     On sunnier days-
mother complains that the okras are too soft,
don’t get all they want from true earth, & tomatoes
have to be picked orange, because it doesn’t rhyme,
& squirrels bite into ripe red ones like a boast.

True earth-
                            I imagine trees talking in lava under crust,
getting all they want, not in sounds but in light or in things
between light & sound, like a thought, a smoke, a stuck-out tongue,
a secret.

I imagine trees doing hushed paperwork & then wash my face-
like a long song, or a short one sang slowly- with a soap
in the shape of things-
                                a rose, the pyramids, a Pokémon, the moon.

& at the midnight tick-tock of the clock I’m a brick more,
not of a wall but of something so expansive that it is, becomes,
the very opposite of a wall, something which can encapsulate
my mother’s garden in all its glory & all its wants-

              magnesium nitrogen potassium
                            white mud love
                            sun moon sky
                            brown wind solitude.

~*~

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.

*~

Ooh Ooh Ooh

What’s this hulk
Rolling me – a spider
Big as a
Saucepan
Or The Man,
The Electric King?
Says he can
Pour the universe
In one eye, says
They’re making
Skeletons
In the dessert,
With just the best bits
Stapled on.

I’m elbowed over
Bill’s page, Bill loves
Flamiche – says
he’s gone,
On a plane,
At the lake, says he’s
Never wrong –
It’s his birthday, says
He feels like star
Light across
The screen now,
But even I know
The dead
Have birthdays.

~*

interview with former contributor, and author of ‘All of Us are Birds & Some of Us have Broken’, Ojo Taiye at Kingdoms In The Wild:

Please check out this interview with former contributor Ojo Taiye at Kingdoms In The Wild:

https://kingdomsinthewild.com/122019-ojo-taiye-in-conversation/

~

also, Taiye’s book All of Us are Birds & Some of Us have Broken, here:

taiye

https://kingdomsinthewild.com/all-of-us-are-birds-ojo-taiye/

~

Ojo Taiye in {isacoustic*}, here:
https://isacoustic.com/2019/02/12/person-ojo-taiye-two-poems/

person Phoebe Marrall, five poems

Phoebe Marrall, orphaned at the age of nine, was a survivor of The Depression and of a grueling childhood. When she died in 2017 at the age of eighty-four, her daughters Jane Hendrickson and Camille Komine inherited hundreds of poems she had written. They remained unpublished during her lifetime, but it is the intention of her daughters that a collection be compiled for readers to appreciate. “Relief, Have You a Name?” is currently a work in progress, being edited by Gayle Jansen Beede.

//

DO YOU WANT A POEM?

Possibility opposes
my small defiance
and takes root in
my slumber.
Yes, I cried in small cries,
I want to do,
I want to calm
what thrashes.
But stillness has no pool
or settling pond.
I gesture and am not soothed.

Should a pot of pearl paint
be shaken before the cap is undone?

Should sedimentary frost follow
thick flow or undisturbed lavender
and glaze by accident?

Imprisoned and roiling
like unsettled gold, I plunge
emulsive light, never increasing.

\\

THE VERY THINGS POETIZED

There are times when poetry
turns me off, with its predictable
lines, sentiment, artifice.

I am embarrassed by simple,
discrete images laid out
in personal lento.

As I have lingered over
the very things poetized,
I wish another not to.

MY apple, MY bent nail,
MY basketry must not be
duplicated as cipher.

As I study stanza and verse
I fear I can
merely imitate beauty.

//

SONNET AFTER LUNCH

Afloat on waves of parqueted bricks
a sail with green boughed masts;
I played and wheeled the noonday mix
alongside birds scavenging the wake in blasts.

Twit and sit, their legs go,
black and shiny, strutting posts
tripods curled, flag-wing furled
nip the air with preening beak.

Beak and claw, no slightest flaw
Breaks zip/zip hop to my thrown crumb
A duck and quickstep
A flick and backstep
A small and wary tight-quilled drum.

Hello, bird
With monocular vision
Had yet met me more
Ye’d know my. . .

I love your black and yellow ringed eye
Your startling dips and bobbing neck
Your hollow bone, gray tone
Your set up, sit up, tweezer peck.

\\

PERFECTING

Whom should I listen to?
In the shallows of memo-writing,
leather scraps and cord,
the punch and glue can;
I am stuck with perfecting.
“…a good job, well done.”

Imbued and unfiltered, run through
with dissatisfaction, embalmed
with criticism from voices now echoing
with what they let fall: sharp-chipped,
I stir, and watch the dust in sunlight
and listen to the deejay buried in his plastic
          housing.

//

WHAT IS VIRTUE TO ONE IS CARDINAL SIN TO THE OTHER

I speak from two mouths, using
the words of one against the other.
This is not a debate; it is strophe and antistrophe.
And yet, more than this.
It is fulcrumic. It is premise and proof.

What is virtue to one
is cardinal sin to the other.
(My mouths adopt articulations
not their own, for the sake of example;
one magnifies the other.)

Husband/wife are “one” says one voice,
so certain. It has been indoctrinated.
“Two shall become one,” say priests and
protestants, and no one asks, “One what?”
In voice, the idea forms and hardens,
like epoxy left to dry the bonding.
It secures the disparate two.

The formation has been conceived,
in error. Bone and bone rarely meet.
Contraction turns the lipped joint downward.
The yoke holds; insistent voices strain
against wooden caution.
No matter the enlarged or shrunken shoulders,
the yoke must hold.
A second voice cries in agony of another
marriage, trying to die.
The South pulls at its Mason-Dixon line,
determined to undo straps and leathered minds.
The Union, the states, the free, the enslaved,
The Nation according to the North,
secession according to the South.

The marriage according to the North!
Separation according to the South!
“One must be two or die!”
“Two must be one or die!”
Honesty got farther than “Two shall be one,”
ipso facto, by decree, “I thus pronounce,”
and nearly broke the epoxy permanence.

According to where your choir loft seats you,
you sing north or south, sometimes in harmony.
Sometimes you sing with a mouth inflamed
but unheard until its stridency comes, discordant,
and your antistrophe cannot wait
and they clap their hands over their ears.

\\

{ The Mothercake Cycle – poems – Kolby Harvey }

The Mothercake Cycle
Kolby Harvey
Dream Pop Press, 2019

~

So sometimes one is up worrying about sons for all the reasons and none of the reasons that exist and, in hoping to hold a clear thing away from nearness, said one picks up a book that is so exquisitely now and so ravenously other that words for it come in an order so impossibly simple that none, nor one, could make the right math of its terrible sadness, livid chiromancy, uprooted poetics. Whether fairy tale, psalm, or sitcom, Kolby Harvey’s The Mothercake Cycle is this book, and also, that book.  Is a work of urgent peace.  If I am in two places at once, as a father, as a worried human, I need to believe there are third histories of identical faiths as present in the attached strangeness of Harvey’s expert metaphor which seems also to have been banished to the interior for being a metaphor in the first place and seems also that it might soon be the last of its doubled kind.  So reader, give soon a past.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
The Mothercake Cycle

{ Skin Memory – poems – John Sibley Williams }

Skin Memory
poems, John Sibley Williams
University of Nebraska Press, 2019
The Backwaters Prize in Poetry Series

~

How does one mark a made thing knowing that creation is not, after all, so novel? With what does silence decorate? Are we consumed by our learning to swallow? Does no being in heaven have a perfect memory?

Skin Memory, by John Sibley Williams, is a made thing that quotes, not its maker, but its maker’s eulogist. As a reader, I felt returned to a place once cleared for my pathless image. With remnant verse and far music, Williams stages yesterday as a horse teaching a bird about revision and today as a different horse singing in that same bird above a water that has nightly prayed to tomorrow asking that the name of its redacted body be voiced. Absent all victors, Williams is a shaper of gestural remains and this is a leaving work that does not abandon but instead occupies enough clock for time to question the faith it’s put in stories told by jet-lagged prophets. To the details go the context.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
Skin Memory