Even during class, my sister

strummed chords, fingers

caressing frets or stretching

strings bleeding the blues.

Sometimes she’d pick

a country tune, wailing for lost

beers and pickup trucks,

mourning every orphan.

Now her fingers pluck

bibs and diapers

from laundry, her kids

a Greek chorus of woes

and triumphs. The guitar resonates

during birthdays

or under a beer tent.

My brother-in-law puzzles

at her frustrations. After beers

one night, he confessed

she hums in her sleep,

and taps her finger.

It’s weird, he tells me: sometimes

her hand finds a rhythm, as if

stroking our last dog’s head.

John Cullen

John Cullen graduated from SUNY Geneseo and worked in the entertainment business booking rock bands, a clown troupe, and an R-rated magician. Currently he teaches at Ferris State University and has had work published in American Journal of Poetry, The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, North Dakota Quarterly and other journals. His chapbook, TOWN CRAZY, is available from Slipstream Press.

Birdwatcher in Kyiv

They know before we do,

the birds. In the yard,

feeders swing on their chains.

If you think we don’t bury

our cash in the thaw

of the dark dicey frostbite,

you’re wrong. Trust God

or no one, I urge my husband.

Do not answer the door.

I pour vodka down his throat,

call through the cracks

to bring back the warblers.

Bird bird bird, where is your,

when will it, why why why.

What jumps faster

than blood from a vein?

If you think we don’t practice

the dash to the bunker,

you’re wrong. We’ve run out

of drugs and honey,

but we cannot run far,

railcars packed with

no more time. Before

the siren glass shatter,

we walked fine,

and the mistle thrush

spilled operettas

over the sunflowers.

The neighbors are hiding

their children in attics.

The absence of silvery

wings. Do it now,

begs my husband, break

the thermometer, inject me

with mercury, hollow

my bones before lark

and nightingale swallow

each other’s songs.

Jenny Hubbard

A former high-school English teacher, Jenny Hubbard writes full-time in her hometown of Salisbury, NC. Her work has been published over the years in various journals, including Hunger Mountain, Crab Orchard Review, Tar River Poetry, Nine Mile, Maryland Literary Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology. Both of Jenny’s novels, And We Stay and Paper Covers Rock, have earned major awards from the American Library Association. Represented by Jonathan Lyons of Curtis Brown, Ltd., Jenny is currently under contract with Penguin Random House.

Yasmin Nadiyah Phillip

Tending the Garden

Yasmin Nadiyah Phillip

Yasmin Nadiyah Phillip is a writer, musician, and freelance artist currently based in Virginia. Her most recent work appeared in Barren magazine. Ever searching for stories to tell, she enjoys crafting images that weave together her introverted sensibilities and love for landscapes.

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