If these islands have names,
I do not know them,
for I am not of the earth.
If these seas have a name,
I do not know it,
for I am not of water.
If today’s soft wind has a name,
I do not know it,
for I am not of the air.
If the stars tonight have names,
I do not know them
for I am not of fire.
I am Time.
I am your moment: Now!
I know your name, I do.
by 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 13 books to her credit, the newest of which is Psyche’s Scroll, a book-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Select in June 2018. Forthcoming in June 2019 is her 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 assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. She is a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, the New Mexico Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet Redux, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel; https://www.facebook.com/karlalinn.merrifield.
I carry two things with me at all times: mace and paranoia. I’m always looking over my shoulder. Always expecting the worst. Is that my shadow or a stranger’s? Is that man jogging or hunting for someone weak? Am I about to be mugged or hit on? There’s no sad back story here. I was never attacked. Everyone I love is still alive. I just remember watching the news before school every morning. There was always a blurb on the Christian Newsom murders. Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom. It always showed the same picture. A young woman with blonde hair, only a shade lighter than my own hair, smiling next to a boy wearing a Tennessee baseball cap. They were young. Happy. Alive. The murder was never explicitly described on TV. They only ever said “heinous.” It was a heinous crime. It was a heinous crime that happened in the same town where I rode my bike. The same town where my dad parked his car. The same town where my mom worked late. I didn’t read the details of the crime until years later. I regretted it. The dark is so much scarier when the monsters are real. And when the monsters are people, people whose bones are likely the same color as mine.
Last night I was walking home from the park. I wasn’t alone, I had a man beside me. But so did Channon. I kept turning my head back and sizing up the men on the sidewalk. Joe watched me jump at shadows, and I could see him wondering, asking why. We were less than a block from campus and there was a man leaning against a tattoo parlor. He was watching us, his fist tapping the brick wall. My mace was buried in a bag. I didn’t have any money for him take. He would take my laptop, all of my writing, and maybe my phone. Maybe that would be all. Maybe I could leave with my body intact. The man turned from the wall and entered the tattoo parlor. As we walked by I kept craning my head back. I wanted to be certain.
When I got back to my room I told a friend about the man leaning against the tattoo parlor. She said I was just paranoid. Later that night I researched the difference between pepper spray and mace. I learned that pepper spray causes more pain. I went on Amazon to make sure mine was pepper spray. It is. And I added a purple stun gun to my wish list.
by Sophie Ezzell
Sophie Ezzell was the winner of two Maier Writing Awards for her works in fiction and poetry. She is currently pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from Marshall University, where she also serves as Poetry Editor for its literary magazine, Et Cetera.
To a ghost that never dies.
I had my first drink at 15, the same year my grandmother took her last, washing down two bottles of codeine with gin. I watched them wheel her out of her apartment on a gurney, zipped up, tight. I thought my soul died. Some talk of funerals, she read the obituary every morning with her coffee. Her death came fast and silent like a traitor. I wept until earth became clay & clay became chalk, then I erased everything.
40 years later, our bodies like urns, cupping our animal hearts. Mom buries her hope inside an old sycamore. I tear at the roots with my hands. Tired of the fury, that loud, ugly, spit in your face anger. The fuck you kind of rage women aren’t allowed to show. I want to make my darkness visible so I sell plasma on the corner for $60 a pop.
by Sheree La Puma
Sheree La Puma is an award-winning writer whose personal essays, fiction and poetry appeared in such publications as Burningword Literary Journal, I-70 Review, Crack The Spine, Mad Swirl, and Ginosko Literary Review, among others. She will be featured in the forthcoming Best of 2018 issue of Burningword as well. She received an MFA in Writing from California Institute of the Arts and attended workshops with poet Louise Mathias and writer Lidia Yuknavitch. She has taught poetry to former gang members and theater to teen runaways. Born in Los Angeles, she now resides in Valencia, CA with her rescues, Bello cat and Jack, the dog.