My Sister’s Secrets

—musty smell

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

 

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.

Suzanne K Miller

January

 

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?

 

Adversity or

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.

 

 

February

 

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.

 

February geese

slipper shuffle on dry grass.

The ruffled duck grooms.

 

Flies like an arrow—

Ardea herodias—

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.

 

 

March

 

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

suddenly famous.

 

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?

 

Ornamental pear

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.

Gentle Weep

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.

Lucas Carpenter

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.

Snowden’s secret

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.

 

 

Mother Medusa

 

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

 

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 Usual Distractions

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

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

At Quarter Past a Lifetime

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.

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