The Old Playground

I’m standing there, looking

at my old grade school’s set

of monkey bars. I can touch them

with my forehead. I almost do,

hoping to go back.

 

But I start to sink,

alternating legs, by inches as

I walk. I run and still sink,

feeling more than hearing

the laughter of the child,

 

grown giant underground,

grabbing hand-over-hand

at my moving feet. I reach

the sidewalk slogging mid-thigh

through earth, and lose both shoes

as I pull myself out.

 

Once should have been enough.

 

Mark Henderson

Mark Henderson is an associate professor of English at Tuskegee University. He earned his Ph. D. at Auburn University with concentrations in American literature and psychoanalytic theory. He has poems published or forthcoming in Cozy Cat Press, From Whispers to Roars, Defenestrationism.net, Bombfire, Former People, Neologism, Broad River Review, Rune Bear, Flora Fiction, Flare, and Visitant. He was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana, and currently resides in Auburn, Alabama.

dogs from the future

cattails in a bag, carried home on my back

best eaten in the winter, & we’re ten weeks

from the last frost, & the coming on of weeks

& weeks where vaccinations become

engagement rings, become christmas in spring,

become brushed hair & earrings & dinners

outside where i can see you

 

i can see you now, still, when i close my eyes

& hear your voice through the phone, remembering

how you make me laugh, hanging my feet

out the window, like it wasn’t just a year ago,

eating grapes on the porch steps, putting

crushed beer cans in the mailbox, or

talking grit from the backseat of your car

 

lunaria in a manila envelope & nightshade

from the dumpster; cockscomb in an altoid tin,

& the decision to stay through summer

& the voracious need to start a garden,

& the ache to be outside alone

& the dream to be inside this body

like i am inside this body

 

the dog, pissing on the hardwood doesn’t have a name,

& even if no name comes, there will be tomatoes,

& this summer the only fear i will have

is how i will keep track of all the vegetables

& flowers, seedlings in egg cartons,

tugging at my shoestrings, & what light

will i bury them in

 

all winter, i walked under a murder of crows,

crossing the bridge after work & a week of

single digit weather; when this city spends

over half the year in gray, the crows

taking my breath against the blue sky,

only half knowing the summer will take

the tens of thousands of them away

 

then, when the dog stops barking,

when the crows stop coming,

how will you know

i am almost home

 

Danica Depenhart

Danica Dagenhart is a Pittsburgh-based writer, maker, & educator. they are a recipient of The Alex Rowan Award for poetry writing, & their work has been featured in TriQuarterly and Pretty Owl Poetry. you can find them on Instagram @motherweather.

David Dephy

Chances

 

We paid the price.

The chances of victory

can be measured

by self-sacrifice—

a miracle out of which

all the chances grow.

 

Without Any Sound

 

Silent afternoon. Silence is more expressive.

I feel something is beaming in my blood. Light.

Some strength inside my nerves wants to be free.

I feel fever. I feel I have a key to every door

in my life. Silent afternoon is telling me,

now—

nobody here, nobody there,

nobody under the sun can give me

either the key or the door to close or open,

except myself. I see now —

nobody ever figures out

or tells me directly what’s life all about.

I will put the gun down, who stands

beside me matters more.

 

David Dephy

David Dephy — A Georgian/American award-winning poet and novelist. The winner of the Finalist Award in the 2020 Best Book Award National Contest by American Book Fest, the finalist and shortlist winner nominee of the Adelaide Literary Awards for the category of Best Poem, the winner of the Spillwords Poetry Award. He is named as A Literature Luminary by Bowery Poetry, The Stellar Poet by Voices of Poetry, The Incomparable Poet by Statorec, The Brilliant Grace by Headline Poetry & Press and An Extremely Unique Poetic Voice by Cultural Daily.

 

Surprise at Dusk

About one month or two ago,

on the walk we take almost every day,

when passing by a well-known bridge in my city,

I noticed, not without some sorrow,

that there was a family living under it,

at a corner they had cleaned on the riverbank.

I was filed with sadness, for sure they were homeless,

or, at least, temporarily, having as roof

the lower part of that framework.

Yesterday, while walking with my wife, we perceived

that there was something different, a few more people,

in addition to the family we were used to seeing.

A couple of bonfires lit better the area,

they talked and were very comfortable,

laughing and happy, it seems we even heard

something like a clink of glasses.

My wife was surprised and did not understand,

but, suddenly, I did, and told her:

there is no doubt, they are having guests today

and are having fun.

Then, we became aware that, really, since a while,

we have not enjoyed much the same this pleasure.

 

Edilson Afonso Ferreira

Mr. Ferreira, 78 years, is a Brazilian poet who writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Widely published in international literary journals, he began writing at age 67, after his retirement as a bank employee. Has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and his book Lonely Sailor, One Hundred Poems, was launched in London, in November of 2018. He is always updating his works at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com.

To All the Fool Wishes

Entire environs have become

transmitters of an over-personified manifestation

twisting through the Multidimensional Ether

like counterclockwise wisteria sprouting

from the lungs of ashen children.

 

It’s the inevitable scorch.

The painful kiss.

The curiosity that intellectualized the cat

before killing it.

 

Mouths turn the shape of cheerios

and stare at the sky, awestricken,

observing an event

equivalent to some

vague description

from a biblical passage.

 

Heath Brougher

Heath Brougher is the Editor-in-Chief of Concrete Mist Press as well as poetry editor for Into the Void, winner of the 2017 and 2018 Saboteur Awards for Best Magazine. He is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Nominee and received the 2018 Poet of the Year Award from Taj Mahal Review. He also received the 2020 Wakefield Prize for Poetry. He has published eleven books and, after two years of editing the work of others, is ready to get back into the creative driver seat. His book “Where Hammers Dwell” will be published later in 2021.

Featured Author: SM Stubbs

In the Aftermath

 

Each body broken, violet wounds, ash,

bullets like fireflies, dozens of caskets

weighted with clay unmade by misplaced rage.

 

Mourning continues as a vacant ache,

an absence heavier than upturned dirt

while the body’s a miracle of dust

 

and lightning. Yes, I would like to be scorched

under the umbrella of you tonight,

can’t wait to burn with the mercy of your

 

fevered kisses. Please reduce me to soot.

Please use me to mark the doltish faces

of those who would deny we are dying

 

or show me how I can twist grief’s thick neck

into a shield I carry through the world.

 

 

Downstream

 

Everything good happens in another town.

They’ve got better schools, better teams,

better-looking beauties at whom to stare.

 

What did those people do to earn

such bounty? At night tears swarm

your cheeks, escape shapes your dreams.

 

In a field between here & there kids get wasted

on cheap beer and whip-its while snow

complicates someone’s climb up the tower.

 

They fall & die. You cut off your hair, master

your misery and start to wonder

about other towns with fresher meadows,

 

how much money you have hidden in the drawer,

how long you can survive on air and straw.

 

SM Stubbs

SM Stubbs until very recently co-owned a bar in Brooklyn. Recipient of a scholarship to Bread Loaf, he has been nominated for the Pushcart and Best New Poets. Winner of the 2019 Rose Warner Poetry Prize from The Freshwater Review and runner-up in several others. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Normal School, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, December, The Rumpus, among others.

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