Lake, Mirror

Saturday morning to ourselves.

No husbands, no kids.

The lake house, a friend’s but ours

for a few hours. We shimmy

out of jeans into bathing suits,

one piece, thanks very much.

On the pier, I drop my cover-up,

dangle feet in cool water. You say

no one’s seen me in a suit since the

kids were born.

No judgment, I answer,

all the while thinking

why don’t we ever take it easy

on ourselves, we women? Be more like

men. Never a thought to

belly bursting its waistband,

to skin once smooth and firm, now

sagging. Eyes never darting

downward in shame for appearing

less than perfect.

The sun behind does its magic,

transforms us to long shadows

dancing, shimmering,

transports us, two young girls

laughing, carefree

on a do-nothing summer’s day.

 

Peggy Hammond

Peggy Hammond’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Pangyrus, The Comstock Review, For Women Who Roar, Fragmented Voices, The Sandy River Review, ONE ART, and elsewhere. A Best of the Net nominee, her chapbook The Fifth House Tilts is due out fall 2022 (Kelsay Books). Her full-length play A Little Bit of Destiny was produced by OdysseyStage Theatre in Durham, NC.

Internalised: my mother’s voice

I ran
she said, you’ll fall over, stupid

I tripped
she said, one day you’ll break a leg

I sang,
she said, you’re badly out of tune

I smiled
she said, that’ll get you into trouble

I lived
without running, tripping, singing, smiling

I screamed
silenced her, claimed my stalled freedoms

 

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. She is a Pushcart Prize (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee She is developing practice as a participatory arts facilitator and believes everyone’s voice counts, even when their stories are hard to hear.

Pictographs

In the desert men

left their red hand prints

in high caves

We climbed to see them

In the arid map-drawn panhandle

men found shadowed crevices

to scratch out figures

of their prey

then self symbols

some magic to catch them?

We trudge and climb

to find them

Our thirsty days lead us

to dry lands

and hidden places  searching

for the reasons that flicker

in the dark recesses of our minds

whisper welcome

to what we seek

even in the heavy silences

of these humid-breathed

and drowsy afternoons.

 

Carol Hamilton

Carol Hamilton has retired from teaching 2nd grade through graduate school in Connecticut, Indiana, and Oklahoma, from storytelling and volunteer medical translating. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has published 17 books: children’s novels, legends and poetry and has been nominated nine times for a Pushcart Prize. She has won a Southwest Book Award, Oklahoma Book Award, David Ray Poetry Prize, Byline Magazine literary awards in both short story and poetry, Warren Keith Poetry Award, Pegasus Award and a Chiron Review Chapbook Award.

Toward a New Era

The old era smelled rotten

like rancid motor oil. On the horizon,

machinations of gods

 

rumbled like impending darkness,

releasing missing letters

and links upon the world

 

to spell the message:

The world is collapsing.

What are you looking for?

 

In response we extracted

warped notes from musicals

like Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 

 

injecting them into mirrors

so we could watch them transform

into red, malignant storms.

 

We were always singing ballads

of stolen adulthood

and curtailed childhood

 

until we learned how to make

enchantments from broken strands

and release songs of judgment

 

and decay, wearing necklaces

the wind did not finish. Underground,

skeletons of horses and dogs

 

pulsed like phosphorescent ghosts.

We danced with them in the basement,

tuning in to radio static that crackled

 

under a dangling bulb, mercury everywhere.

Strings of little lights burned all night,

coating our tongues bright gold.

 

Susan Michele Coronel

Susan Michele Coronel is a New York City-based poet and educator. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including Spillway 29,The Inflectionist Review, Gyroscope Review, The Night Heron Barks, Prometheus Dreaming, One Art, Funicular, TAB Journal, Ekphrastic Review, and Passengers Journal. In 2020, she received a Parent Poet Fellowship from Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. This year, she received a Pushcart nomination and was a first runner-up for the Beacon Street Prize. She recently completed a manuscript of her first book.

Waste

When I think of heaven, I see trash:

Broken bottles, leaking Freon, used notebooks,

Thanksgiving scraps, industrial dross, ash

Of lives that rot and leach into the brooks

And streams that feed the river, then the sea.

Yet, when I conceive a perfect hell, it looks

Unpeopled, manicured, fresh, foolproof, each tree

Equal, sidewalks flat, no black oil stain

On any gray driveway. Loveless and pure.

Why, then, am I so ashamed of my pain?

I haul my grief in my sinful junk cart,

As if I could secure peace from this vain,

Broken, human life. No, I live, not apart

From death, my pardon pawned, deep of my heart.

Richard Stimac

Richard Stimac writes poetry about growing up in the Rustbelt. Richard published poetry in Faultline, Havik (2021 Best in Show for Poetry), Michigan Quarterly Review, Penumbra, Salmon Creek Journal, Wraparound South, and others, and an article on Willa Cather in The Midwest Quarterly.

Fortieth Birthday

Just ten years ago, I felt young,

before that, not old enough.

Before now, geologists say,

 

there was a before, a before before

when ice, white cedar trees, and dark

brown salt deposits lined the coast.

 

When the waves pound the shore,

I hear the churning, churning

of saltwater like the buckled inner-

 

workings of the mind.

The surging of desires that wash

ashore, recede, and reemerge

 

like a hand extending

and then retracting itself mid-air.

On the boardwalk, a couple shares

 

a scone. Ahead, a child carves

a moat around a sandcastle. Above,

the seagulls seem lost—

 

they throw their bodies into the air

any which way, skim the water’s

surface, then take flight, as if to say:

 

Never mind or not today. I close

my eyes: salt turns to sugar in my mouth.

The January sun stings

 

my eyelids amber. Beneath this layer

is another layer: of cedar, peat,

marsh. Two teenagers giggle

 

with lattes. One young, the other

even younger. How many mornings,

like this one, have I already forgotten?

 

A Labrador chases a tennis ball

into the water and flashes its teeth.

I grin back. Day, too, froths at the mouth.

 

Shannon K. Winston

Shannon K. Winston’s poems have appeared in Crab Creek Review, The Night Heron Barks, RHINO, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and several times for the Best of the Net. Her poetry collection, The Girl Who Talked to Paintings, was published by Glass Lyre Press in 2021. She currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Find her at shannonkwinston.com.

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