Vomiting against the wind, hungover sacrosanct,
presenting itself through a badge of honour,
traipsing through the streets, a homely sight,
more surprises championed against growing up
sympathised through another disposition.
This goodly act, slighting for better entertainment,
what happens upstairs stays there, coffee aside,
working through swathes of imperfect manuscripts,
more worse then the other, never fathoming distance
infinite drafts slipping under scrutiny of same.
Close proximity, proposed even more attractive,
a steady kiss prolongs the desperate situation
being pawed for good measure, regretting at leisure
Hitting through secret apertures waiting for use
wanting what’s not on the table, a desire abdicated.
Watching from below, a closeted cry still heard
oscillating through indifference and agony,
monumental trademark as ubiquitous as the trees
lights not going out, under cover of alcohol,
solid flowers in lieu of half-arsed apologies.
No context for that smile, private jokes abiding,
grimacing from one’s own a fault worth permitting,
loved within measure still not enough,
infinite coffee, refills, riches worth pursuing
not uglified by persuasion, desired through want.
Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled “Continuity Errors,” with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. These include: The Lake; Seventh Quarry Press; Marble Journal; New Binary Press; Stanzas; Crossways; Ygdrasil; Seventh Quarry; The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, The Galway Review; Poethead and The Evening Echo. She has also published a novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina, in August 2021.
Rat Meister’s baton-busy tail flashes against the steady hall lights. Standing upright on his humming haunches, the five toes on his fore feet touch each note as they swell the air and fill hungry ears. His mystacial vibrissae (to the unenlightened: his whiskers) average eight sweeps each second, sensing as objects what others know as music. They follow the wind to create an Euler spiral (think negative infinity), swirling in alternate directions at times, neither defensive or aggressive towards music critics, channeled towards woodwinds and brass instruments. The blur of drumsticks. The tinkle of a triangle to tantalize his organs of touch and rounded erect ears. They approve of the musing of Archimedes (r = aθ) where r = ramblings of Archie of Medes and his Teth or voiceless dental fricatives. A cosine of the rhythmic sines of the time indiscriminately following the wind. Rat Meister follows no such tangents. He measures angles with the assembled ensemble of trained and tuned rats whose eyes and ears follow his raton. The walls swell. Spirits lift. The divine spirals away towards awareness and enlightenment, twin reciprocals of the radius, a staff or stave where note heads do battle space unless del segno appears and stutters ear nauseum.
The author hopes to one day to once again volunteer with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, and return as writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. Other pubs include: Loch Raven Review, Dead Mule, Free State Review, Little Patuxent Review, Pembroke, & Mad Swirl. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992). Recently, his 160th prose poem was published under a checker-board cone of silence.
The Very First Venus Flytrap
Who could blame your delicate flowers
For growing sharp teeth, for learning that flesh
Is so much tastier than sunlight
You found out it’s more satisfying to snap shut
Than it is to bloom, that it feels good to bite back
After being chewed on for so many centuries
Jaws of slender grass. Jaws of patience.
You opened your jaws once and wow
How delicious the world tasted
Look how your body transformed into a throat
Your roots into tongues and your blossoms into fists
I can hear your flora siblings whispering nervously
About the one who speaks in needles, who prefers
Blood to dew, pink fanged, an angel
With sharp wings of green, fallen straight into the dirt
Your life is now a feast of moth hearts
And iridescent beetle wings, bee stingers
With spider’s silk used as elegant floss
For your delicate lips of chattering
Knives, lips that wait patiently
To be kissed again and again
That’s why you were named after Aphrodite
Because eating the world counts as loving it twice
And who doesn’t want to die in the mouth of a flower?
Who doesn’t want to be sipped up by the Earth, cradled
Unconscious in the arms of soft petals, suffocated by sunshine
By the plant that turned into death itself?
Finally Appreciating the New Moon
It’s a blank slate, black-blessed, a moment
To enjoy the stars, not named
Like its big bright brothers are
But it should be, it’s a testament that huge unseen things
Can be floating directly above our heads and we’d never
Be the wiser, that even the persistence of sunlight
Needs sleep, no more secrets spilled
Under the moon’s sweet silver, no need for blankets
When you are concealed like an earthworm, a cavern
It’s the moon as whole as we’ve ever seen it
A clasping of two dark halves, providing rest
For our werewolves, a holy day of obligation
For all things nocturnal, if you picnic
Underneath it you enjoy the sensation of being swallowed
By the universe itself, returning to pre-light
When we didn’t have the sun to depend on
And the endless night sky
Was more comforting than any ball of fire
Science has proven
That humans need at least eight hugs a day
And by golly I was going to get them
One way or another
I picked my targets carefully
All dead giveaways
I began with quick squeezes, innocent
Single hand behind the back
Over in a second
Short and sweet and good for everybody
But soon it wasn’t enough, the embraces
Were lasting longer, becoming vulnerable
Soon we were eye-to-eye
And it was becoming embarrassingly difficult
To let go
People began seeking my services
On busy sidewalks and crowded nightclub
Dance floors, a vigilante
Of touch therapy, of a new
And it wasn’t long before I perfected
My technique, transformed my hugs
Into something sacred, something
An embrace that turned me into Atlas, and you
Into the world
That wrapped around us
Again and again
Until we were lost
In a land of each other’s palms, that proved
The Earth really is
The center of the universe
The very concept of stranger
What I do is illegal in nearly 38 states
But if you ever need me
Go out on empty nights and raise your hands
To the dark lonely air
I promise, eventually, I’ll be there
Dante Novario is an internationally published writer from Louisville, KY where he works as a therapist with special needs individuals. Nominated for both the 2022 pushcart and rhysling awards, his writing has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Firewords Magazine, KAIROS Lit, Coffin Bell Journal, New Contexts 3, Nimrod International Journal, Thin Air Magazine and others. His poetry can also be heard on the literary podcast Strange Horizons. Find more of his writing on Instagram @dante_novario
If I tell my mother she is the sky,
what I really mean is that I’m the pond
my father built her. What I mean is
I watch the way she rises and sets
in herself. I mirror every cloud
that mars her features. I darken
to match her windy movements.
What I’m saying is my surface
catches her light, but when she
grows overcast with gray,
my entire face disappears.
I’m saying the two of us
are always facing each other
and wincing away at the same
time. I’ve absorbed into myself
every color she’s taught me
When I try to reveal my
drowned leaves to her,
she can’t see through
her own reflection.
What I’m trying to say is
I can’t stop taking
Racine Watson is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she studied Creative Writing within the UNO’s Writer’s Workshop. Her work includes fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. Her creative-nonfiction essay, “The Five Ways I Left” is forthcoming in the 13th Floor literary journal, 2022 edition.
I walk over train ties
searching for drops of water,
like the rains I’ve loved, negotiating
tumbleweeds where the train runs
regardless of how many rocks lie on the ties.
Farms, silos, industry with steam rising
from the table of land, I watch passively
as workers drain a swamp, plant rice,
and fill it again.
Scale of the wounds
call it forgiveness
call it dread
Call it jasmine.
Call it an address.
Open space, even dry trees
at the mountain’s base–
they too suffer their own mirror.
Call it eyelashes, moist
with their own nick names.
Plumes of smoke make their own
weather in the shape of
a cross or is it a figure
with head and arms
or a rocket
raising itself above the cloud shelf.
Laurel Benjamin is a San Francisco Bay Area native, where she invented a secret language with her brother. She has work forthcoming or published in Lily Poetry Review, Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women’s Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, Trouvaille Review, One Art, Ekphrastic Review, Wordpeace, The Thieving Magpie, Black Fox, Hare’s Paw, California Quarterly, Mac Queens Quinterly, among others. Affiliated with the Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and the Port Townsend Writers, she holds an MFA from Mills College. She is a reader for Common Ground Review. Find her blog at https://thebadgerpress.blogspot.com. Find her at Twitter at @lbencleo. Find her on Instragram at cleobenjami.
submerged and unseen
in an archaic well –
women thought dirty
by men of G-d
in an archaic well,
with bodies purified
by men of G-d,
ensnaring the fecund
with bodies purified,
my sisters were bait
ensnaring the fecund
in their water ringed curls
my sisters were bait,
fertile and sullen –
in their water ringed curls
hid the birth of the world
fertile and sullen,
women thought dirty
hid the birth of the world –
submerged and unseen
Lisa Delan is classical soprano specializing in American Art Song; performing, recording, and commissioning musical settings of an expansive range of poetry. She has recorded extensively for the Pentatone label and can be heard on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and other streaming platforms. Her own poetry appears in American Writers Review (San Fedele Press 2022), Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Cathexis Northwest Press, Drunk Monkeys, Lone Mountain Literary Society, Mill Valley Literary Review, Poets Choice, The Pointed Circle, Tangled Locks, Viewless Wings, and Wingless Dreamer.