person T.M. Strong, two poems

T. M. Strong comes from a small train town in New Mexico where rainstorms are precious and ravens build nests in sandstone crevices. A graduate of the Alpha Young Writers Workshop, she is currently studying Creative Writing at a small arts college.

~*~

Tiger-Ghost

The tiger pushes open the door after dusk,
flat head pressing into wire-brushed wood.
She slinks, calloused pads rasping against the floor.
A ghost. She appears behind you in the kitchen
where you have stirred the stew:
four to the right
three to the left to make seven, stretched out
to luck. Look,
her eyes, reflected in the steel pot, are gold, ochre,
last night’s sunset you think she watched from the railing
of a highway bridge. You step carefully across
the bloody, sticky tracks she left on the floor to set the table.
In winter, she brings snow.
In autumn, muddy twigs,
like wands, you line up on your dresser.
She, tiger-ghost, sits at the table
triangle-chin trailing moss
across the hard maple top,
remnants of her last meal, fish,
you think, scavenged from the woods
and add salmon to your shopping list.
A toast, to the tiger-ghost.
You lift your glass, cheap red wine sloshing
as you take a sip. You close your eyes,
open them again, to an empty room,
empty plate licked clean.
Red paw prints in the kitchen,
wine, you could almost convince yourself
spilled as no wine should be—
congealed,
into four chestnuts and a ragged crescent,
this moon, half-eaten and left out
for you to see.

~*~

After the Rain

~  the last two lines come from “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams ~

After the rain, mica-flecked stones become galaxies. My eyes are drawn
to wet rocks and dried cakes of mud,
chapped like lips.
After the rain, hard hooves are packed with clay,
water clings to eyelashes underneath mud-tangled forelocks,
and coats are glazed mocha-brown.

After the rain, the air seems thick enough to pinch, touch,
gobble down like some sort of delicacy—
anything but marmalade.
After the rain, wind—breathless air’s daughter,
is a bolt of fragrant silk
and can be caught between fingertips:
braid me like challah and eat me.

After the rain, we discuss the size of the hail that came before
the water trickling down the arroyo,
then tearing
like sobs cleaving the ground apart. Here,
earth shifts slowly: a pinch of sand becomes a handful
and we remember;
an uprooted juniper floated down the arroyo once, silt clinging to its sides
like dried ink, put on too thick and peeling
off the page.

After the rain, small holes lie full—shallow dips in the road where the best puddles grow.
I remember the muddy water filling up my boots
and how I refused to empty them until they grew too heavy,
too great a weight,
like the wounds I imagine this rain cleaning out
so they can heal.
Wounds in our skin,
in your skin,
in the skin of the donkey who shouldered on and on.

After the rain, we dry our clothes;
my jacket is wet because I unzipped it
to feel the water on my skin.
I stole a line of a poem to turn over and over on my tongue,
matched to the beat of muddy footsteps:
so sweet
and so cold.

~*~

 

person Michael Prihoda, two poems

Michael Prihoda lives in central Indiana. He is the editor of After the Pause, an experimental literary magazine and small press. His work has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology and he is the author of eight poetry collections, most recently Years Without Room (Weasel Press, 2018).

***

understand a spiderweb & how it doesn’t have wings

for Casey Mcleod, after teaching 8th grade English for two years

am i art
to twenty

humans?
or only

a prayer
of future’s

anteroom.
i hold

no keys
yet i must

hand them
a padlock

of fingered
combination,

learn them
a twist

of sleight
tourniquet.

for they
bleed

earlier
than i ever did

& i don’t
quite believe

any promise
of ocean

could fathom
this canoe.

**

another city

remember
how

the snow
in St. Paul

turned flaxen,
tannic and gray

as the inside
of a gutter

or a mouth
of toothless

paint
samples.

time to redecorate,
soften the blow

of the fourth
dimension,

form our pillows
into other shapes,

a skyline against
the couch arms

so that, when our
company arrives,

expecting brie
and the wine

of half a week’s wages
they will see another city.

***

 

Bombing The Thinker – poems – Darren C Demaree

Bombing The Thinker
poems, Darren C. Demaree
Backlash Press, 2018

~

It must be terrible
to be all root
all the time,’ – {from} Not Crop, Not Husk

I’d take a weapon. I’d use it
in a war or near a war. I just
want to watch the little bugger

eat through a quiet person.’ – {from} A Damaged Thinker #78

Tender, overwhelmed, and necessary, Darren C. Demaree’s Bombing The Thinker is act, rumination, emission, and place. A work that, after its instruction, one may ask why it matters that our messengers be alive. In it, or from it, Demaree re-petals the flower of discourse surrounding the 1970 vandalism of Rodin’s The Thinker in Cleveland, Ohio, that left the sculpture with a wounded base. Keep reading- this book transcends the heaven of concept and the hell of novelty. Demaree is an archivist of urgency, an acolyte of engagement, who, with an anxious clarity, and for the deeply frantic, draws from puzzle piece the missing scar. Conclusion ends nothing, and these entries mark the heel of any angel made heavier for its inquiry into the origins of finality. If too often the witness we bear is custom made for that which our projected histories advertise as clearing space, and if creation continues to provide an alibi for assault while claiming to have no past, I’d offer that the gift of attention in this book may return both rib and feather to those dreaming of their proximity to liftoff while listing what they’d do for a glimpse of gaze. There is a stillness in the small ask of this work, and I think a quiet that clones the non-existent raisers of movement, and if I haven’t seen cruelty correctly, I can at least give my eyesight a before and after. Art is an error worth covering for.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
http://www.backlashpress.com/product/bombing-the-thinker-by-darren-c-demaree/

person Christie Suyanto, one poem

Christie Suyanto is an avid writer, linguistics buff and fan of vintage fashion. Her works have appeared in Crashtest Magazine and Popshot, among other publications.

//

Lineage

I

In our family
most children are post-requisites.
Pay attention, my mother always said,
you don’t marry a guy for love.
Or for much else, for that matter.
For beautiful pink baby boys
with brand name booties.
Or strangers who’d smile at you
during family reunions, maybe.
But not for love.

II

I used to dream about water.
How it would one day swallow me,
how I’d become a myth. One of those
pale paper girls betrothed
to a god from the sea.
So I learned how to swim.
Got a tan. Started wearing reflective clothing.
Learned how to grow gills,
just in case. And when that
didn’t seem to be enough,
I left before he knew my name.

III

That’s when I started to change.
After six years away
from the old city
with small town sensibilities.
After too much salt.
Too many bodies of water
with foreign names
to avoid. Too many tears.
Too many dreams.
One day I inhaled
and there was nothing but air.
Not quite someone new.
Still the old bark
of my body, thrown out and upwards
by the sea. The old rot.
The old growth.
But with less fear of water
and clearer vision.

\\

Gutter – poems – Lauren Brazeal

Gutter
poems, Lauren Brazeal
YESYES BOOKS, 2018

~

Lauren Brazeal’s Gutter is a fast melancholy. A destination that seems to have been masquerading as a journey might it paint itself too plainly and be mistaken for a church. Its hunger has power. Is an invisibility brought on by an imagined eating. It devours everything not in its path. You. Me. It is saying we weren’t there. It is saying it knows more than one person whose other tail is a removed tattoo. With erasures that test the boundaries of redaction and checklists that summon the grocer’s gaze of otherhood, Gutter returns to pain its blue doorbell and to desperation, color. As the body, here, makes its moonless bargain with bread, one is best to see it before the angels get to staring.

~

reflection by Barton Smock

~

book is here:
https://www.yesyesbooks.com/product-page/gutter

person Geraldine Fernandez, one poem

Geraldine Fernandez (Dray) is a graduate of Bachelor in Secondary Education Major in English and a second year law student from the Philippines. Her works have appeared in various papers and poetry journals namely The Hundred Islands, The Plebeians, The Birds We Piled Loosely, The Fem Literary Magazine, Spillwords Press, etc.

~~~

Notes To D

D,
I wonder if you read back
through our message history.
Are you sometimes turned on
by my silence?
After all, that’s my best nude.

D,
What’s on my mind?
I want a soul to sit with
over a few glasses of gin
while I contemplate
how to bid the world
goodbye
without breaking
anything
or anyone.

D,
Lust has a mind of its own.
I am a participant
in one too many sex
scenes in my dreams,
you the leading actor
in some of them.

D,
We don’t know each other but I miss you

the way the ashtrays
at my mother’s place
crave the presence
of a man
and his classic reds.

D,
I am most probably 5’7″ tall
but I could feel so small
when not dreaming
or citing the higher court.
It’s been two months
since I opened my law books
dusts of my thoughts
collect into notes
that are far too blue
to be golden.
Please
meet me sometime
at a bar
& let us make miracles
happen overnight.
I need someone like you
to speak latin
through my skin:
volenti non fit injuria
you want this as much as I do
let’s see if your throat
carries the depth of your mind
if bruises look better on you
than other girls
who have not read RA 9262*
or written awareness
without losing too much blood.”

 

I could be yours until you’re alive again,
G

~

* volenti non fit injuria is Latin for “to a willing person, no injury is done.” This doctrine holds that a person who knowingly and willingly puts himself in a dangerous situation cannot sue for any resulting injuries.

*RA 9262 : The Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act

~~~~~

person David Bankson, two poems

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, Thank You for Swallowing, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, etc.

~

“What Dad Saw at the Reunion”

The blind see paintings
like soft music.
On the back porch

my father is a sightless pine,
receives the blur
of familial body language,

cannot digest
strewn needles
of our visages.

My son’s crayon,
my wife’s painting,
my sister’s makeup

all make vague patterns:
Chimes ring clear
from the front porch,

laughing faces
unfold like origami
in a bell jar,

cardinals land as paint spots,
twirl and alight here
into a whirlpool of colors.

A visual orchestra.
Pine shines aloud, then profound.
The trunk sways

with the colors in his mind,
his ears alive from outside,
the euphonious pine.

~

“The Dark”

The middle of the highway
at noon

The stench of oil lingers
on the air you can feel

the strangeness of neighbors
bore holes through your body.

Hold your hands knuckle-white
and tell the truth of your sameness.

Copper sunlight
crosses intersections;

a couple holds hands
while another scrapes up fury.

The sun sets in silver,
everyone afraid of the dark.

~