Twice the raccoon attempts its nest,
her scaffolding slides away on a kind wind,
before gathering back into the rock’s hollow
shared with skunks and rivulets.
I am finally permanent and still
water refuses to keep my image. Suppose
my planetary wanderings do not subside. Suppose,
in this rigidity, this paltry wish for gardens
to die and come back different, suppose, Lord,
sick with boredom, that quality I’ve come to recognize
as singular, you finally decide motion lends
a certain excitement to water yet to form a canyon.
And having spoken, your fingers compass the quiet
world and wait for the sputter of change
on the other side of your hands. It’s as if
there never was a voice spurring
change through will, willing the multiplicity
of Animalia, of pollen to lie down in earth.
Nick Visconti is a writer living in Brooklyn with an artist, and a cat.
My great-grandmother was an early dementia,
only a few months over 60 when her mind started
to retire. My mother’s memory of her
moments are sometimes comical: a glass
of Wessen oil where there was supposed to be
water, Yiddish profanities without prompt,
and all five feet of her body bent over
in the parking lot, picking up after the dog
with her bare hands. A woman
from the old country, made foreign again in the land
she worked hard to love. She never forgot
how to play the piano, even as her children
became strangers. She filled her pockets
with stolen gum and other petty thefts.
A gold-coated lion paperweight, proudly gifted,
sat for decades on my grandmother’s desk
because no one had the courage to return it.
I was a kid the first time I heard that story,
of the lion and its origins, and of course I loved it,
the absurdity, her unwitting audacity. The absent
brain knows nothing of rules, etiquette, laws.
Either it doesn’t know, or it doesn’t care.
The way that the mind unravels is so frightening,
so unreasonable, that sometimes
the only thing you can do is laugh, or marvel.
Now in my possession, the lion is a treasure,
a reminder; even loss can bring us
Danielle (she/her) is an MFA alum and professor of disability rhetoric and creative writing at Chapman University. She has a fear of commitment in regard to novel writing and an affinity for wiener dogs. She was a finalist for the Diana Woods Memorial Prize in Creative Non-fiction and her work has appeared in Lunch Ticket, Hobart, Driftwood Press, The Florida Review, The New Orleans Review and others. @danielle
He wants a boy & will reward me for my trouble.
Back then, the passing down of lines – like God’s word invoking Eve’s loyalty. Grandpa’s on the beach drowning the horizon. The only sounds moths flying at the sun before bursting. I can feel the pink-whiskered zygote circling the womb searching for a shore to latch on to. Who am I but a siren song passed down from mother? I will never be a safe harbor. Why do we celebrate in pinks and blues before identity has time to steep? Spring is late. The lemons in the yard are green, still hard. Joe waits, palms cinched tight like a tarp over a bonfire. I press lies into ash as I birth her, a face I loved before it was fully formed. Joe is red as a thousand little papercuts. I turn away, embracing hope, the promise in this new skin.
Sheree La Puma
Sheree La Puma is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in The Penn Review, Redivider, Stand Magazine, The Maine Review, Rust + Moth, The Rumpus, Burningword, and Catamaran Literary Reader, among others. She earned her MFA in writing from CalArts. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of The Net and three Pushcarts. She has a new chapbook, ‘Broken: Do Not Use.’ (Main Street Rag Publishing) www.shereelapuma.com
aubade for the crescent city
and you gotta
love or hate
of this here
is a long long
and super short
under this here
to get lost in
to meet a few
along the way
showing the way
against walls of
you guessed it
in sturdy decorative
under the highway
Rodrigo Toscano is a poet and essayist based in New Orleans. He is the author of ten books of poetry. His newest book is The Charm & The Dread (Fence Books, 2022). His Collapsible Poetics Theater was a National Poetry Series selection. He has appeared in over 20 anthologies, including Best American Poetry and Best American Experimental Poetry (BAX). Toscano has received a New York State Fellowship in Poetry. He won the Edwin Markham 2019 prize for poetry. rodrigotoscano.com @Toscano200
“The raft is not the shore” — Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace.
oak tree preach,
buffalo boy’s grass, bowl of milk.
Let understanding grow.
Rock, gas, mineral,
water wash feet —
cosmos meditates on cosmos.
Escape is no escape.
Avoid stacked coins.
Ocean salt, ashes in a velvet bag —
Straw on mud,
blanket on concrete,
hydrant draped in silk.
Work no harm.
Gaze, even on vomit.
breakfast with tree,
a raft, a finger pointing.
Cloud in paper,
waiting for hawk flight.
Footprint of a prophet,
Afraid of height, terrored of road,
plant blank paper.
Every manner of thing will be well.
Book not yet performed.
Translate a single bird song.
Patrick T. Reardon
Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, has authored eleven books, including the poetry collections Requiem for David (Silver Birch), Darkness on the Face of the Deep (Kelsay) and The Lost Tribes (Grey Book). Forthcoming is his memoir in prose poems Puddin’: The Autobiography of a Baby (Third World). His website is patricktreardon.com. His poetry has appeared in Rhino, Main Street Rag, America, Autumn Sky, Burningword Literary Journal and many others. His poem “The archangel Michael” was a finalist for the 2022 Mary Blinn Poetry Prize.
oak and leather corner pub
warm glow of Guinness
tensions softly fold to sighs
beyond these walls
That widen in surprise
Tear in sympathy
That writes of playful things
Whose ink spills out in flourishes
Drawing pictures in words
That clicks with musical beat
Whose letters speak to screen
In engineered friendship
That explodes, whispers, cries
a tale I don’t want to hear
but I can’t turn off
That speak of love
With the softest caress
on the cheek
Muffled by mask
That can’t hide the smile
In the eyes
Ode to Candle Stub
Wax almost spent, wick bent and blackened
dripping life blood of self in service
sleeping old soldier
bivouacked in the back of the drawer
found when pawing for pen or twist tie
always ready, willing to accept
the sweet kiss of fire, illumine
the great pool of dark as strong as
younger, taller, more fortified
Service to the end of life
Service to the depths of self
Service highly valued
to the stubby end
Cathy Hollister is an older writer whose poetry often explores the treasures embedded in age, isolation, and continual readjustments. When not writing you might find her on the dance floor enjoying the company of friends or deep in the woods basking in the peace of solitude. Her work has been in Silent Spark Press, Humans of the World Blog, Open Door Magazine, Beyond Words Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine, Poet’s Choiceanthologies, and others. She lives in middle Tennessee.