person Andrew Kozma, one poem

Andrew Kozma is a poet whose work has appeared in Blackbird, Redactions, The Baltimore Review, and Best American Poetry 2015. A book of poems, City of Regret, won the Zone 3 First Book Award.

. . .

Like a Host of Blown Bubbles

The flowering crepe myrtles instantly begin dropping their petals.
The whole season the myrtles drop their faces. Their bark crusts
with cicada shells and the soft velvet of spider webs. We all
have half-lives. We never know when we reach them.

. . .

person JC Davies, one short story

JC Davies is a a writer based in London, and was recently short listed for the York Poetry Prize. A short story “Palm” is appearing in Yellow Mama’s August edition.

~

Canal

I have only seen a dead fish in the canal but I went fishing there for thoughts. Fat thoughts with rainbow markings, skinny ideas with snarly mouths, multi-limbed dreams on light-weight line, fast swimming notions like metal exhaust chimneys on school houses, pumping out the smoke of old books and gym shorts from backside furnaces, ruffling the water like ball gown skirts.

A hummingbird broke its neck and the dead pony wouldn’t bury. Richard ate the frog. And the answerphone died slowly so his voice slowed to a slur like blancmange on a hot day.

Out along the canal, a great northern diver dove deep, clutching at food with a beak like a 1930’s trunk chiseled to a point; a chick screamed like a typewriter full of glass beads as it took a worm from its mother’s mouth like Marilyn Monroe kissing Tony Curtis.

If you think of death think of me, death is the thought of me smiling from below the water line. If you think of death think of a tall pine tree and me, sitting up there dressed in a clown suit with a catapult. If you think of death think of the slow sad sand creature that crawls across your thoughts thinking it’s doing well, but with a mortgage and three slow sand creature children bawling. If you think of death think of the crazy water skier and the thin line of rope like a snake in June desperate to be loved, ready to curl up and twist around the heart in an embrace that can never leave whilst the water skier is catapulted in the air and lands in a forest of cacti. Next to a sea of slurry. And it rains.

~~~

person Eve Rifkah, one poem

Eve Rifkah was co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc. (1998-2012), a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets. Founder and editor of DINER, a literary magazine with a 7 year run.

She is author of “Dear Suzanne” (WordTech Communications, 2010) and “Outcasts the Penikese Leper Hospital 1905-1921” (Little Pear Press, 2010). Chapbook “Scar Tissue”, (Finishing Line Press, 2017), “At the Leprosarium” 2003 winner of the Revelever Chapbook Contest.

~~~~~

Marrow

wing is scapula, span of clavicle
the lost connection between here and then
deer skull clean of flesh, bird spine
strung on a string for adornment.
We speak syllables into bowls

and bones, rub between our
hands and toss for spells and sickness.
tiny phalanges we caress
as rosary connecting
our breath to what was, what will be.

We keep ourselves together with
thin ossein needles stitching hide
for garment and carved talismans
for fortune and risk. And when our

living bones fracture and craze
we brew a tincture of violet, daisy,
bone-wort for easy healing
and crack a wishbone for luck.

We feel of ourselves –
diaphragm rise and fall
singing our life in tides of air
within ribbed-cage above
the sacrum our holy seat

~~~~~

person Yvette J. Green, one poem

A native of Nashville, TN, Yvette J. Green has lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. for the last 19 years. Two sons, 11 and 16, make her a proud mother. She has had a short memoir published in the Seasons of Our Lives-Winter: Stories from WomensMemoirs.com. Her first poems have been published in Indolent Books: What Rough Beast, 45th Parallel Magazine and are forthcoming in Hive Avenue and The Mark Literary Review.

~/

Yarn

Impossible to navigate the narrative you spin
Yarn unfolds
from the blue ball your mother used
to knit our first son’s baby blanket
from the berry ball that her calico cat batted
around her kitchen tile

The yarn has rolled under the sofa
out of your reach.
I rewrap the tendrils,
into a tightly wound ball to place in
stoneware clay
to contain the spun thread-
to crochet another memory–
in the corner curio cabinet where I keep my dolls.

\~

person Lazarus Trubman, one poem

Lazarus Trubman is a college professor and has taught the Theory of Literature and Roman languages for twenty-four years. Poetry has been published by The Threepenny Review, Exposition Review, Vestal Review, The New Reader, Cordite Poetry Review, The Sea Letter and others.

/

AFTER A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD WAR

In the street in front of a hotel
two children are playing;
a boy of five, rachitic,
and a girl with a toy pistol:
they are playing on a serious note,
and the little boy,
rather petulant and unwilling,
is told to stand up
against the piss-stained wall;
he can’t understand that he is then
supposed to fall down;
the girl shows him how –
with all the experience
of her seven years…

\

person D.R. James, two poems

D. R. James has taught college writing, literature, and peace-making for 36 years and lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. His most recent of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (The Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017), and his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at the Origami Poems Project. https://www.amazon.com/author/drjamesauthorpage

..

Assisted Living

My father had entered a realm
I would never know. Although
slumped in a chair
in that common room
at the end of a dimly lit corridor—
well beyond the other withered bodies,
their wheel chairs lining
the bumpered walls, their
attendants glib, shouting directives—
my father sat small
like a seer, his web-thin hair
roostered, whiskers grizzling
his business chin. He was decoding
some constellation located vaguely
above the bulletin board announcing
Thursday Bingo, muttering,
raising his wasted arms as if in warning
the world was about to end.

Which it was—and it shuddered
shock waves through my throat,
the distance between us
collapsing like a telescope.
My mother, seated as calmly
as if my life would go on,
looked at me as if I were signaling
it wouldn’t, and before he would die
two days later, my father narrated ancient
sales trips—Gary, Terre Haute, Fort Wayne—
then turned only to my wife and ended,
“What do you think about all this?”

When I was a teen he seemed mainly to care
about the length of my hair, and in all
wrote me two letters, both advising
about life insurance. But now
my speech shivered, my chest
compressed the universe
of my heart, and I didn’t know
what to do with my hands.

—first published in If god were gentle (Dos Madres Press, 2017)

..

First Light

After the year of mere staring,
various grays at last color
tree, beach, breaker, the dark

undersides of waves, textured seas
arriving gently from an even,
medium gray. The horizon,

barely reckoned, smoothed
to its worn sheen, intersects
inexpressive sky, sedate Great Lake,

flattened and diaphanous—
like the road-show backdrop
before which one might finally

enact the refurbishment
of a feeble—no, make that
a threadbare—life.

—first published in Poetry Quarterly

..

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.

~