person Margaret Siu, one poem

Margaret Siu is majoring in Plan II Honors Program at the University of Texas, has a certificate in Mandarin Chinese from the National Taiwan Normal University (國立臺灣師範大學) and a business certificate from Harvard Business School’s HBX program. Siu is the founder and Editor in Chief for international, multimedia publication Apricity Magazine; in addition, she is the recipient of the James F. Parker Poetry Prize. Siu is an avid fan of Naomi Shihab Nye, Mong-Lan, and Lin Manuel Miranda–those who endeavor to narrate their cultures through verse.

~*~

Chariot-tearing (车裂)   [1]

hair– brittle
bones—whittled
by a blade named time, awaiting
a sudden notch
tied tethered taught
by five horse-drawn
coils of cold desires
at the neck and limbs
threatening the curls
of my ribcage, cavities
quake and swallow
the weight of
a long gasp
a breath—so violent and quiet

 

[1] An ancient Chinese torture method, present during the Warring States period of ancient China, also known as “five horses tearing the body” (五马分尸).

~*~

person Joseph Mills, two poems

Joseph Mills is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and has published six books of poetry with Press 53.

//

Meals

I’ll eat you up! – Max in Where the Wild Things Are

The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth. – Insult found on Easter Island.

i.
There is nothing the dog won’t eat,
or at least try. Fast food wrappers,
crusts, house shingles, cheese rinds,
bugs, bricks, rubber bands, feathers.
Since everything in this world is,
potentially, edible, how will she know
until she takes it into her mouth?

ii.
John James Audubon would spend hours
watching birds, then he would kill them
and spend hours sketching and painting them,
creating art of astounding detail. Some say
afterwards he would cook the birds and eat them
in front of their portraits, and some say, no,
he was careful to put the drawings away first.

iii.
A boy wrote a letter to Maurice Sendak,
saying he loved Where the Wild Things Are,
and Sendak wrote back, including
with his reply a small original drawing,
which the boy, in his excitement, ate.

iv.
At the gym, a young girl in a wet bathing suit
runs screaming from a parent holding a towel,
“You are going to bake me in a pie!
YOU ARE GOING TO BAKE ME IN A PIE!

v.
The dog and the artist and the boy and the girl,
there is something to be learned from each
just as there is food for thought considering
those times you took someone’s flesh
in your teeth, the cusp of biting,
the pleasure in the desire and denial.

\\

How to Teach Your Children About Indeterminacy

When they spill milk, clean it up. When they spill milk, sigh heavily. When they spill milk, clean it up. When they spill milk, clean it up as you give them a lecture that includes sentences like “I don’t even know why I buy you stuff when you just pour it on the floor.” When they spill milk, ask them to be more careful. When they spill milk, clean it up. When they spill milk, walk out of the room and leave it dripping down the counter and spreading on the floor. Leave it there for as long as you can stand. All day. All week if possible. Leave it there until it dries and stains and becomes a permanent part of the counter so that every time you see it you’ll be annoyed again. When they spill milk, clean it up. When they spill milk, clean it up. When they spill milk, put your head in your hands like you can’t believe this happened again, you can’t believe what terrible children they are, you can’t believe how careless they are, you can’t believe how determined they are to ruin your life, how selfish and thoughtless they are, how they’re milk-spilling monsters out to destroy every vestige of your happiness. When they drop the iPad on the floor, cracking the screen, and look at you in terror at the whirlwind they know they have just conjured, say “accidents happen” and give them a hug. When they spill milk, look at them for a long long time, without blinking, without breathing.

//

person Anne Myles, one poem

Originally from New York, Anne Myles is associate professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, and in 2018 began writing poetry again after a long interval. Her work has appeared in a number of journals including Ghost City Review, Ink & Nebula, Thimble Literary Magazine, Lavender Review, and New Verse News.

~*~

At the Station of the Year

A Golden Shovel sonnet after Ezra Pound’s
“In a Station of the Metro”

A hurried walk in early dusk. The
bare trees are an apparition,
saying what in their scrawl of
limbs against violet? These
days, everything turns and faces
what is paused, unknown. In
windows light-strings twinkle, the
bright, glassed promises of the crowd.

It darkens. Soon silent petals
of snow will descend and mound on
grass, on streets. On graves. This is a
benediction, or is not. Wet
and icy green sleeps under; black
cloaks the waiting in the bough.

~*~

person Emily Hockaday, one poem

Emily Hockaday is a Queens-based poet and editor. Her newest chapbook, Beach Vocabulary, is forthcoming from Red Bird Chaps. She is author of Ophelia: A Botanist’s Guide (Zoo Cake Press), What We Love & Will Not Give Up (Dancing Girl Press), and Starting a Life (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently Newtown Literary, The Maine Review, and Salt Hill. She is associate editor of Analog Science Fiction & Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction, and she can be found on web at http://www.emilyhockaday.com and @E_Hockaday.

~~~~~

Ghazal

Easter has passed, and in Brooklyn the Cherry Blossom
Festival approaches. Trees in Forest Park unfurl tiny blossoms.

The season is deceptively mild. On the kitchen table, the arm of sunny
forsythia distracts me from the awkward silence that’s blossomed

after we verbalize my brother’s suicide attempt. It had
to be brought up. Petals from overripe blossoms

scatter the lawn below the Mock Orange bush, wafting
heavy perfume through the window. Love blossoms

within me, inextricable from grief. I know it’s hard
to reach out and say I am hurting. Like a blossom,

he is bright, delicate, sensitive to changing weather patterns.
We all have finite seasons, even Emily, even these fresh Spring blossoms.

~~~~~

person Dianne Olsen, one poem

Dianne Olsen is a freelance writer, poet and garden consultant living in Massachusetts. She wrote the weekly “Valley Gardener” column for the Poughkeepsie (NY) Journal for four years in the mid-2000s. Now retired from a career as a horticulture and environmental educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Putnam County, NY, she volunteers at a teen center, food pantry garden and summer camp. She has an MA in Environmental Studies from SUNY Empire State College. Her freelance work has been published by Taste of Home; her poetry in Writer’s Resist, Colloquial Poetry, Mojave River Press and Review, and Postcard Poems and Prose.

*

Night

I am happy when I wake at night,
hear your deep breathing,
see your face turned to me.

I place my hand under the covers,
not to wake you, you know,
but to feel the warmth of you,
feel your
sturdy ribs,
just where I left them
when we were last awake.

*

person Rachel Norman, two poems

Rachel Norman currently lives and studies in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She has been published in the Falling Star Magazine.

/

my corner of the world in a round planet

I shouldn’t grieve over this speck of geometry
When a planet awaits-
Yet not waiting, but moving on, clinging to me;
Trapped in the pull of the earth-
Quite an unwanted embrace.
But if even man is made of dust
What denies me the right to mourn my plot of it?
More like ashes- the fire suffocated,
So no hope of a phoenix there.
The smell of smoke and dust and lung cancer-
My red thread was tied to the streetlamp,
Now blown away by winds of change.
Boreas thinks he knows best
But my spare kite was torn before he took the string.
He thought it would give me closure-
If ashes are all that is left,
Would they be the memory of a flame,
Rather than the dust that they are?

//

We were

We were the soft glow of morning light, the steady beat of hooves against the ground kicking up dust that flew in your eyes, we were the brash but beautiful lights on your neighbor’s roof because she would not lose the christmas light competition to him again, we were the way you think you see the world- through a convex lens- are you in the fishbowl or peering in, nose pressed against the glass? we were the youth who did not fear time and knew that beauty and vigour and wrinkles were not mutually exclusive, we were the oatmeal your mother said was too sweet and you insisted was too bland, but sweetness can be bland too you know, and the saccharine is bitter we were the way you always glanced at us twice, the delicacy and fury of wavering flames- a tapestry of fire perhaps – we were the night and the day and most importantly, the twilight- we did not know quite what we were but we knew it was a melding, a change, we were those who aged with the years but did not grow old alongside them, we were not coppery on your tongue and ruby, nor wet and salted, no- we were air that told you spring had finally come, the broken pine needles trampled under your feet- if we were red, as you say, then we were not crimson blood, we were a scarlet letter, a new page written not in the way we speak but what it is we say! we were us because we decided that what we express is more important than the way we enunciate it, we were real when we decided that a carbon copy is great and all but paper decays over time , and why feed the fire with books and souls when we have sticks? we were not confused when they said we were palindromes because we all know that you read us backwards and declare that is what we meant in the first place, we were the scholars, the listeners, the dreamers of dreams – aptly named, and yet not, for we were those who made dreams into reality, wove the fabrics of thought into a blanket of warmth, turned empty words into a book and trampled down dust into a path, we were those who had hope that the sun would rise even when it surrendered below the horizon, we were those who knew that the cold earth could not hold the might of the fiery beacon forever, we were those who waited in the still quiet of the reawakening of the sun- and when the night was over and dawn was blossoming, it is then that we were the soft glow of morning light.

/

person Hannah V. Norman, four poems

Hannah V. Norman is a student living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Her work has appeared in Rattle and Charleston Style and Design.

~

Nineveh

Clutch in your mouth the moment of still before the choir sings
The lull in the air on a humid day
The pregnant pause as everyone waits for someone
To fill the void
But no one speaks
A dusk where the lights are on
And the house is silent
The veranda is warm
And the old rocking chair
Creaks soundlessly.
Clasp in your hands
The note you wrote to your future self
And the letter that is a prayer
That you never mailed
The sight the water made when
A golden shaft of light pierced its soul
And the time you knelt on the floor
And tasted sea-salt and copper
And your knees ached when you stood.
Remember someone told you
You don’t remember who
-Maybe the philosophy teacher
Who wore cut-offs and
would only write with 4B pencils
Maybe the lady next door
Who smoked too much
And had a maltese-
That no one had a future
Because, they said
It was a fatalistic phrase
“Had” denoted the path was certain
Which would make striving hopeless
And you nodded – or laughed-
You don’t quite remember.
Hold these tight
And sit in the shade of the kikayon-
Can you tell your right hand from your left?

~~

graveyard for a flightless bird

i picked up the broken form / the thin flute of the beak / the feathers made beautiful / crimson soaked over damp grey / mouth open / in a lost cry / for help or mercy or saying / live and let live / and the ribbons of flesh
/ heaved still / over moon pale arcs / of bone / the arcs / of my fingers/ trembled under its / weight / / i poured water / down its pale rose gullet / and it came back/ scarlet /on my bloodstained hands / and i buried it / in a
patch of dirt / but too far / I later thought / from the sky / so I clawed at the tomb / and brought up its bones / and I scattered / the ivory pillars / into the trees / and the sunlight caught / their fragile sharpness / like
toothpicks

when i laid the urn / in the hole in the backyard / you wanted to be cremated / but why buried ? / isn’t the point to choose / flame over ground / escape the damp / i stepped on a / slender sliver of bone / shattered / “you shouldn’t leave toothpicks here” / they said / and picked up fragments / that for years / had rested / in the shade of the oak / and i mutely watched / and laid you in the earth / and I hope you don’t mind / that you shared your grave / with toothpicks / of a bird / maybe / it can teach you / flight

~

grease fires and migration

words don’t slip off my tongue the way they should
as if greased, uncontainable, rushing forth in a torrent of oil
that needs only a spark to set it off
burn it down, start over
my words are a bird with a broken wing in fall
everyone else seems to know
the path foreordained
traced by the fathers of our fathers’
wing beats
i flit from tree to ground
and there our paths differ
they move on
the v advancing through its set course
but someone sees the stragglers
and “takes mercy on them”
shuts them in a cage
clips their wings
feeds them pellets that
taste like the rock they were trying to escape
and they say sing, pretty bird
and wonder why it cannot speak
why it never could

~~

Gruidae

fold swaths of pale blue
into flight
gild the tips of its wings
the fragile bones
and rest it in the closed
palm of your hand
as if it can soar
when you open your fist
formed from living bark
spread thin
like butter
so it scrapes
and grinds when it falls
from your hand
(a speck of blue mist
on the ground)

~