The way it was before

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

Nick Visconti is a writer living in Brooklyn with an artist, and a cat.

Nanny Ann

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

beautiful things.

Danielle Shorr

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

Joe is Making Good Money at the Brokerage

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

The Peopling

aubade for the crescent city

 

The ‘peopling’

and you gotta

love or hate

that word

of this here

cypress swamp

river bend

is a long long

and super short

complicated

very simple

non-story

of tales

fantastical

voluminous

adding up

to something

while subtractive

of itself

about to

multiply under

the radar

like people’s

lived lives

under this here

style of

economic and

cultural dredged

collection of

impulses and

reflexes and

imaginations and

indeed peopling

of people’s

peopling

a genuine

non-story

of tales

fantastical

intermittent

fractalled

microns of

feelings and

half thoughts

processed

refined and

marked up

to epic

proportions

dimensions

to get lost in

to meet a few

flakes lost

along the way

showing the way

by tales

fantastical

luminescence

blown away

by raging

storms slammed

against walls of

institutional

administrative

ministerings of

you guessed it

a non-story

of tales

fanstastical

interruptive

blown glass

mint julip

fluted beakers

cracking up

spilling out

a micron’s

worth of

effect on

the peopling

in process

on boulevards

in alleyways

in sturdy decorative

colorful abodes

and flopping

makeshift tents

under the highway

overpass

Rodrigo Toscano

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

See

“The raft is not the shore” — Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace.

Sinless dung,

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.

See suffering.

Avoid stacked coins.

Ocean salt, ashes in a velvet bag —

truth knock.

Straw on mud,

blanket on concrete,

hydrant draped in silk.

Work no harm.

Gaze, even on vomit.

Vent noxious.

Bike monk,

breakfast with tree,

84,000 doors,

a raft, a finger pointing.

No browbeating.

No gossiping.

No lying.

Cloud in paper,

waiting for hawk flight.

Footprint of a prophet,

ripped veil.

Let live.

Answer door.

See.

Afraid of height, terrored of road,

insect-burdened, undesiring,

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.

Cathy Hollister

The Local

 

oak and leather corner pub

warm glow of Guinness

tensions softly fold to sighs

beyond these walls

irrelevance

 

Speakers

Eyes

That widen in surprise

Tear in sympathy

Smile

Pen

That writes of playful things

Whose ink spills out in flourishes

Drawing pictures in words

Laptop

That clicks with musical beat

Whose letters speak to screen

In engineered friendship

Screen

That explodes, whispers, cries

a tale I don’t want to hear

but I can’t turn off

Hands

That speak of love

With the softest caress

on the cheek

Voice

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

Ignored

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

tapering heights

Service to the end of life

Service to the depths of self

Service highly valued

to the stubby end

Cathy Hollister

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.

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