Country Road at Night, North Carolina, 1979

Like eyes in a skull,

riveted on me,

I see the windows

of a white van

in my rearview

mirror.

 

I speed up

so does he

and we keep

going like this,

the sweat of fear

stinging my eyes

till I am racing,

a rabbit, with

a fox that covets,

gaining.

 

A sign for a business district–

the car, and my heart, slow

down.  I turn off, spy a gaggle

of little boys headed home

from Cub Scouts or Bible School.

Grateful to them, I stop, roll down

the window, tell the nearest child:

“I am being followed.

Could I use your parents’ phone?”

“OK”, the kid says “I live over there,

pointing down the road. “Get in,”

I say, “I’ll take you all home,”

and seven small boys

climb in.

 

I am driving slowly

when the sheriff

curious

at the sight,

of a white lady’s car

bursting

with black boys,

stops me.

 

I look back and see

the white van

at the turnoff

to the town,

waiting.

 

 

E. Laura Golberg

Laura Golberg’s poem Erasure has been nominated for a Pushcart 2021 Prize. Her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Poet Lore, Laurel Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Spillway, RHINO, and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, among other places. She won first place in the Washington, DC Commission on the Arts Larry Neal Poetry Competition.

Psych Experiment

Sitting in the isolation booth,

listening for the fading bell.

The headphones, leather-bound and lush,

are pillowy around my ears,

a vacuum of sound.

When I first signed up,

I thought it would be easy money.

But within the experiment,

there is always a double game.

 

Amidst a distant humming,

my eardrums gradually disconnect,

and another timbre insinuates itself.

Exclusivity is now unblurred into its primary coloring.

Causal potency, insistent and self-confident,

reaches across the small revolutions

of electrons and protons,

and the power embedded within the orbits becomes tactile.

If you calculate the empty space between the points of energy,

the sum will strain comprehension.

Layer on the emergent potential

and it will fold upon itself, numberless.

 

They want you to tell them what they already know,

but, there’s something else answered

in the darkening absence of sound.

As the soul machine re-dons

its practiced gait, momentum and mass

disguise the slightest remnant of a limp.

Metal shavings vibrate softly,

re-orienting to magnetic poles

with their interpretations.

 

Chris Innes

Chris Innes is a writer living in Washington, D.C. and has had poetry published in a variety of literary magazines, including The Wisconsin Review, The Cape Rock, Prairie Winds, Common Ground Review, The Pikeville Review, Descant, and The Mankato Poetry Review.

How to draw a horse

Honestly, I can’t be bothered to find out

Whether there is already a poem

About how to draw a horse,

The words brushed sleek as the roan mare

You curried the summer you were fourteen

And horseshit was a perfume you sniffed

Eagerly as lilac, as bread broken open,

The linseed funk of a boy two years older,

His voice beyond breaking; his long lashes

Pretty as a forelock. Stables call for pen and ink

And a sure hand; you can use charcoal for a canter.

How to draw a horse– you’re thinking the horse

Stands for something else and it may,

They come standard in quartets for an apocalypse,

Well-matched, ready for a chaise and four

Like Bingley had, along with Netherfield

And Darcy’s impossible friendship, fronting

A dusty stagecoach in the Wild West. You listen

For hoofbeats similar to your systole

If you are not terrified, in a tizzy, falling in love

The way I fall down the stairs in my dreams, endless,

The fall through clouds on a gas giant, pocked Jupiter

Or Bespin, an asymptotic descent I cannot complete.

 

How to draw a horse:

Simply,

Using your dominant hand,

Knowing the crest and the croup,

Still, breathless, tasting

The sweet green scent of masticated hay,

The antithesis of your adoration,

Knowing you will fail.

 

Daisy Bassen

Daisy Bassen is a poet and practicing physician who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University of Rochester and Brown. Her work has been published in Oberon, McSweeney’s, and [PANK] among other journals. She was the winner of the So to Speak 2019 Poetry Contest, the 2019 ILDS White Mice Contest and the 2020 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize. She was doubly nominated for the 2019 Best of the Net Anthology and for a 2019 and 2020 Pushcart Prize. She lives in Rhode Island with her family.

Boquen, Brittany

She rambles around Plénée-Jugon,
seeking signs, leftovers of her younger self –

life tending kitchen gardens, a commune,
her home at L’abbaye de Boquen. She took a vow,
to return. Determined, she makes her oath good now.

Besret’s Cistercian monks have long gone
and she found years ago, she cannot believe
in God. The oak-timbred door creaks open
and within whitewashed walls, sparse
furnishings, hard pews, scents
of chalky musk
press her back
in time:

guitar riffs, folk songs, radical liturgies
and always people holding hands,
spiritual and temporal
kissing, uniting.

Once inside
her worn out hippy soul
lights a tapered prayer
for peace –

disbelief snuffed out
for seconds.

 

Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press. Her first pamphlet is due to be published in 2021. She is a Pushcart Prize (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, UK (2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts.

On Reading That Some Physicists Posit We Are Living in a Computer Simulation

An analysis shows there is a 50% chance that we are living in a synthetic reality – Scientific American

 

If life is a lucid dream or some near-perfect

computer simulation, do I risk waking up

 

to a world in which I can’t embrace you?

I was so young when I came to feel that

 

death is as simple to understand as the eons

before our birth: we are not, and then we are,

 

and then we are not again. I’m a mystic. I

love the weight of the cosmos, how it feels

 

in the palm of my hand. I reach for your

hand in order to hold on to all that I wish

 

were eternal but stand to lose. I can’t dwell

on loss, least of all when thinking of you;

 

and if none of this is real, if there are

truths stranger than our brief mortality,

all the more reason to lie down together and

demand that the earth reveal what it knows—

 

to discover who we are when stripped of fear,

our bodies trembling at the edge of reason.

 

Andy Posner

Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.

Cadge

I bet the four flush—

worth next to nothing

but looking to all like the key

to the kingdom of heaven.

 

You told me once

that poker

was half luck

and half bluff.

 

They had just

cleaned you out again

at the Friday night game

above the body shop on Sutter Avenue.

 

You and your six

unemployable friends—

passing a cheap bottle of rye

and shots at each other’s parentage,

 

in a room

full of reefer

and the sweat

of day labor.

 

You told me once

you had no luck—

having given it

all to me.

 

And I pictured a medallion

bestowed upon the younger brother—

no small burden

you’d hung around my neck—

 

as if the family’s fortune

was riding on my narrow shoulders.

“What fortune?”

anyone who knew us might think to ask.

 

“But, you’ll never be a bluffer,

you told me,

for that you need a pair—

and in our family, I got them.”

 

Cold as cobra’s breath

I bet my four spades

and watched

as the better hand folded.

 

You never were a judge of character—

a lifetime

of confusing

friends and enemies.

 

 

Steven Deutsch

 Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. His recent publications have or will appear in RavensPerch, MacQueen’s, 8 Poems, Louisiana Lit, Burningword Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Biscuit Root Drive, Evening Street, Better Than Starbucks, Flashes of Brilliance, SanAntonio Review, Softblow, Mojave River Review, The Broadkill Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Panoply, Algebra of Owls, The Blue Nib, Thimble Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, Borfski Press, Streetlight Press, Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, New Verse News and The Ekphrastic Review. He was nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2017 and 2018. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press. His full length book, Persistence of Memory was just published by Kelsay.

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