person T.M. Semrad, four poems

T.M. Semrad is a poet and writer. Her writing has appeared in Entropy, Nightingale & Sparrow, Pomme Journal and the Black Clock blog. She has an M.F.A. in Writing from the California Institute of the Arts and was a recipient of a UCLA Writing Project Fellowship.

*

~~~

My birth month May’s magic – Jacarandas
color the air lavender. Corolla
carpet streets and sidewalks so that the world
softens. Still tires and soles
crush petals into an oily smudge.
The world buried beneath a fairy haze
exudes a rank perfume.

Absent Affirmation
A selfie, my mother’s doppelganger, deleted

~~~

I celebrate father, hold up
his present, my face an aching grin
to give him a gift who gifted me. Later,
when I am grown,
he and I will walk together
alone, rehearsing for this future
on a dirt road between two irrigation ditches,
our two shadows stretched, his to the horizon
always pulling beyond my own.

Three Father’s Days
Photographs, without my mother, one print, two digital

~~~

The moment will have
happened behind houses and
trees without my knowing –
                                          she pulls
back from her ledge – the moment
when the dark lightens – she
                                  tugs the rope
      free – so
what I thought black wasn’t
so. Which is the same thing. The light changes
the dark. It emerges, a hummingbird
      wet from its egg.

Dark Lightens
A polaroid of my daughter

~~~

A space exists between molecules of chair
and molecules of floor, imperceptible
separation. I examine the dark line between
wood slats and each wooden support where
I cannot fit my fingers.

Only, the floor attracts the chair by unseen
force, so that nothing seems to float. All
appears at rest, this house within the earth
that cradles me – you, the gravity that holds
me in place.

Still, a path, an interval persists between
baseboard and slat, viewed through columns
of legs, between house and earth, between
you and me. So I float. My hand glides across
this page and air stirs beneath the chair. You
that hold me, you give me the ability to rise.

The Chair Where I Sit
A photograph, on my writing desk, of my husband

~~~

*

person Steph Sundermann-Zinger, two poems

Steph Sundermann-Zinger is a student in the Creative Writing and Publishing Arts MFA program at the University of Baltimore. Her poetry has appeared in Post.

~~

THRESHOLDS

I was a child once, although there’s blood
around the edges of it – knife-cut of thirteen,
severing. That fledgling year, fleeced

and feathered, open as a door. Hinges
and handles, thresholds and guardians.
The French word for secret

is secret, although I learned to say it
differently, flexing my fish-hooked mouth
around the last vowel. Hameçon – the barb,

the unspeakable tearing.

~~

DRY

Three days dry, my father’s swollen wreck of a mouth
is viscous with want, and all I can find on my own tongue

is daddy. I listen for the life in him, the rasp
and shuddering cry, the galvanic beep of the monitor

measuring his heartbeats. Systolic, diastolic.
The nurses shape our lips around new language, blunt

milk. Hemoglobin, we say. Phenobarbital.
Mutinous, arms tethered to the bed, he’s lost

my name – his words are wilderness, imagined
for some other daughter. Delirium tremens. They give us

things to do with our hands, offering tiny sponges
to swab the stinking space behind his teeth. At night

they wrap us in white blankets, school us in the signs
of hemorrhage, hypotension. I count his breaths

until I learn what each one means. Until discharge. The word
sticks at the back of my throat, chalky and full of promise

as any pill. I just need something to wash it down.

~~

person James Thurgood, one poem

James Thurgood was born in Nova Scotia, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and now lives in Calgary, Alberta. He has been a general labourer, musician, and teacher – not necessarily in that order. His poems have appeared in various journals, anthologies, and in a collection (Icemen/Stoneghosts, Penumbra Press).

//

Chinatown

we rose from bed
      opened the curtains:
the old Chinese ladies
      seven or eight
      on the sidewalk
at one edge of the small lawn
– hands clasped at backs,
      in dull peasant garb
chirping and twittering
      like all the birds of morning

we washed, dressed –
      downstairs, put on a record
sliced strawberries and peaches
      to eat in yogurt
which was new

      kissed again
with fresh ripe mouths

stepped out the door
      to a city full of summer

      the old Chinese ladies
had gained the further edge
      of the lawn –
we laughed
      thinking them slow
            and silly

now I would beg them
      not to rush
would listen as to angel song

would want them never to reach the end
      of that green street

\\

Earlier version published in Loggerheads

person Emma Alexandrov, two poems

Emma Alexandrov is a student and a writer currently rooted in Atlanta, GA, Portland, OR, and Poughkeepsie, NY. She edits Windows Facing Windows Review.

~

Labyrinth Project

Sharp of being, you are embroidering my heart in the hollows
of our silences. We are tracing paths: by night, you take me
in your hands, a fish arcing muscular in capture.

Then, moored on a table, my core loosens in a dish of light,
whistling as it’s flooded and emptied of air. As you watch it
from across the room, threading the needle, it bristles to unfold.

It’s in the stitches that cell slush means body and
carbon whirrings mean soul, I know, but my throat can only
splutter at the spoiled water dripping from our thread because I know

I must be placed, unbalanced, back into the grey
with your golden line binding shut the new window in my side,
with my jagged path ripping the placid surface of the sea.

~

Sea-Dream of the Substance of Another

Floating: the ocean makes in itself a space for me
to drift as a pebble embedded in mirror.
Giving nothing, taking nothing,
this dream binds impenetrably the horizon:
water smoother than a glass’s surface,
sharper than its edge.

Yet, a rival illusion takes root
in one of my mind’s simpler chambers.
You are a sheet of shade
wavering on careful legs in the dark
like a tree arrived recently to the shore.
Your shadow flows toward the water’s hilly field
and sends a song across it,
running on a city of delicate feet
that stitch ripples into the blue.
Your notes carve nests in my skin,
and, in still wholeness, hold light, spark –

Please understand, fair shadow:
you, in taking, give.
I owe this garden to you.
Singing me waterbound, you’ve granted
an ocean to root in, granted
sky burned with starflowers to bind my sight,
song to engrave with silence.

Do you see?
There’s nothing here.
I’m parceled absence
darker than the night
that rings the moon.

~

{ The Flavor Of The Other ~ poems ~ Clara Burghelea }

The Flavor Of The Other
poems, Clara Burghelea
Dos Madres, 2020

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Clara Burghelea’s The Flavor of the Other is both a progressive exit and an appearing act. Inside of each, stillness awaits no inheritance. Full of confessional reserve and prayers that maybe begin with amen, these poems carry the exaggerated possessions of location as the divided theft of void and oblivion. Burghelea knows taste as a portal through which one can swap hungers, and makes of self an otherness versed in the familiarities of a becoming not saddled with being. If it is here that migration and exile are two birdwatchers marked by the same talon, then a reader may place themselves as one combed by any scar that holds hair as the body’s longest fire while another counts backward then forward using absence as census.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
https://www.dosmadres.com/shop/flavor-of-the-other-by-clara-burghelea/

person Brittany Fonte, one poem

Brittany Fonte holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) and has published five books, including a Lambda Literary Poetry Anthology. She teaches in the MFA program at Concordia University-St. Paul. Currently, she is working with her writing partner on their second screenplay.

~~

If you beat a dead horse

The horse has been stiff for days
leathered by sun
starved by hands
too stubborn to meet in thanks
mince words
swallow past Christmas goose.

The horse’s eyes are opaque
filmy with flies
festering with lies
pried like teeth with a lost wrench.
But there is a rod and spoiling.
There is something about a father–

a father who went to war
loved a woman not his race with a child
once drank at a leather bar
to show this child he understood
all those letters and could write them too
and then voted neither green nor blue.

The horse has been gone for years
weathering the spitting distance
between forgiveness and trauma
in a glue factory known for
its confederate flag
and proximity to the VA hospital

~~