a ball of bloody underpants
under her bed
cigarette butts in a jam jar
a half empty bottle of gin
wrapped in an old wool sweater
two tins of spearmint Tic Tacs
the pearl earrings my mother
lost last week
a DO NOT READ UNDER PENALTY
OF DEATH diary
rows of Leslie Richards
followed by rows of Leslie Fisher
& rows of Leslie Pearson
in slanted pink script
a dog-eared copy of Peyton Place
untie the top of your bathing suit
a condom curled in her wallet
I tiptoe away from tomorrow—
Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has been accepted by the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.
Tumblers in the night,
cat’s teeth clicking, tongues lapping,
unlocking light’s safe.
Death arrives sans words.
Red blood falls as silently
through the night as snow.
Morning makes the bed,
lofts light sheets and comforters
over still soft night.
Six crows face sunrise;
no wind bends the cottonwood.
What will be revealed?
light aligns direction in
perch, view, quill, spine, down.
Rapids of starlings,
whirlpools of gulls, tides of crows,
shipwrecks of eagles.
Black fishbone branches
hold up cirrus sky flaked flesh
above dispersed light.
I think a possum
lives in the trunk of this tree—
tail trails mark the snow.
Black branch treetops shine
orange gold before blue clouds.
Ducks float in shadow.
Steeping draws out life
in tea leaves dry as mummies.
Tender nights wake frogs.
Four robins blush for
I walk beneath them staring
up into bare trees.
From rest the train rolls;
the railroad bridge, its drum; tracks,
grounded cymbals brushed.
slipper shuffle on dry grass.
The ruffled duck grooms.
Flies like an arrow—
sure to strike its mark.
Twisting stream of crows
under a silver contrail
follows the river.
Dark-eyed Juncos flit.
The train stops and starts again
on the river span.
Squirrel leaps over
snaking mound pocket gopher
raised, soars with his thoughts.
Squirrels run like scarves
pulled through some windy crevice.
Then Child Man runs by.
Without my glasses,
and maybe with, the moon a
sore that will not heal.
Starlings weigh nothing,
touch the ground as ritual
ghost fingers obsessed.
Goose rises on legs
capable of carrying
its stillness away.
Across the river,
blushes of orange and green
Rhythm of the goose
eating, like waves. Feathers lift.
Back against the wind.
Given the same life,
could I steer more expertly,
having gone before?
blossoms weigh down city streets.
The egrets return.
A storm plows away
sexual moist, fermented, rank
fallen petal drifts.
The kingfisher dives
from the branch mainly submerged
midstream, then returns.
Found a cat whisker
in the vacuum yesterday.
Certain things stick out.
Suzanne K Miller
Suzanne K. Miller lives in a house built in 1900 and works online. She earned an MFA from Wichita State University. Her work has appeared in Festival Quarterly, First Things, The Mennonite, Mikrokosmos, Plainsongs, Porcupine, and Women of the Plains: Kansas Poetry. Storage Issues, her first book of poems, was published by Cascadia Publishing House in 2010.
I don’t have much longer
in the playing fields of love.
So when he looks at the tip
of my ring finger and sees
under the bistro lamp a nascent
callous he perceives desire.
All I do is metaphor,
the steel g-string pressed
again, again, again, in B minor’s
third position–thus my hand
remembers what my body
learns of its embodiment.
I am the guitar.
Play me now.
Karla Linn Merrifield
Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 700+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the newly released full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing) received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is a frequent contributor to The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and assistant editor and poetry book reviewer emerita for The Centrifugal Eye.
Moment in a Story
A Japanese aphorism, said to be samurai:
“Live like you are already dead.”
Fair enough, the same thing
my squad sergeant told me
as we shared a foxhole under fire
somewhere near Cu Chi, sometime
in the ’69 rainy season. “You
can’t die if you’re already dead.
Nothing else matters.” I hoped
it was true, because a piece of shrapnel
sliced off the top of his skull
disclosing the brain
in a stunning anatomy lesson.
confirmed once more.
Metal shards cut me, too,
but only a minor tattooing
that healed to invisible. I
didn’t break through to another side
or do the death thing. I just absented
me from myself and suffered it,
as millions before me had, returning
to a continuation of my life
that never quite worked out.
He lopped her head off while looking
at her reflection in a shiny shield,
so he couldn’t be petrified
like all the others who came before,
now statues scattered around her.
She didn’t do it on purpose. Poseidon
raped her in Athena’s temple
affronting the goddess who cursed the victim,
having her beautiful face and golden tresses
rendered horrific, her hair becoming
her trademark writhing serpents,
a monster whose terrifying visage
turned all who saw her into stone.
But the sea god had impregnated her,
and when the sword took her head
she foaled Pegasus, the winged horse,
who would wind up outlined in stars.
It’s part of a myth.
Metamorphosis eats mimesis,
then excretes it in other forms.
Happens all the time.
Save your questions for later,
when you find someone who can help.
Lucas Carpenter’s stories have appeared in Berkeley Fiction Review, Short Story, The Crescent Review, Nassau Review, The Chattahoochee Review, and South Carolina Review. He is also the author of three collections of poetry, one book of literary criticism, a collection of short stories, and many poems, essays, and reviews published in more than twenty-five periodicals, including Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, College Literature, Beloit Poetry Journal, Kansas Quarterly, Carolina Quarterly, Concerning Poetry, Poetry (Australia), Southern Humanities Review, College English, Art Papers, San Francisco Review of Books, Callaloo, Southern History Journal, Chicago Quarterly Review, and New York Newsday. He is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Emory University.
The cathedral is coming down.
Oaks, hickories splinter into leafy glass.
Shards spiral. Cold drifts down.
The wind dumps truckloads.
The kaleidoscope is shattering blue.
Frost laces the grass.
He calls a friend to launch a boat
in the river: “It will sink of dry rot
before it gets wet again.”
Soviet citizens chided their officials,
“They will walk out of the water dry.”
There is no escaping warring elements,
no matter the day’s brilliance.
“How about a walk somewhere
we haven’t been, crossing
the bridge, walking the ridge
to where it cuts down to the creek?”
His friend is repairing a tire.
He hasn’t finished roofing his studio.
“Who knows he might be dead tomorrow,”
Yesterday in Bali, a crowded night club exploded.
Hidden in a car trunk on a street in Washington DC,
a sniper kills drivers stopped at gas stations.
Work on the roof, go for a walk,
who knows when we’ll be done
praying through these leaves.
Two days later, in the hospital bed
He slurs hello, a stroke of bad luck.
Walter Bargen has published 23 books of poetry. Recent books include: Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (BkMk Press, 2009), Trouble Behind Glass Doors (BkMk Press, 2013), Perishable Kingdoms (Grito del Lobo Press, 2017), Too Quick for the Living (Moon City Press, 2017), My Other Mother’s Red Mercedes (Lamar University Press, 2018), and Until Next Time (Singing Bone Press, 2019). His awards include: a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Chester H. Jones Foundation Award, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009). www.walterbargen.com
There were no witnesses to his loss,
it was a private affair.
He stood with sober eyes and watched
the sun fade behind his dream.
Darkness folded over itself,
covering far reaches of space.
A vast expanse of stillness
soon enveloped all.
Closing the door behind him,
walking beyond the breech.
At quarter past a lifetime,
he knew the end had come.
Ann Christine Tabaka
Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry, has been internationally published, and won poetry awards from numerous publications. She is the author of 9 poetry books. Christine lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her most recent credits are: Burningword Literary Journal; The Write Connection; Ethos Literary Journal, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-NaGig, Pangolin Review, Foliate Oak Review, Better Than Starbucks!, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.