“It is a vestibule introducing one into the presence of the Good. Vestibule? Yes, and vestige, too, the trace in the multiple of the Good which itself remains in absolute unity.” Plotinus, The Intelligence, The Ideas, And Being
Not whole, but wholly striving, this Somali sambusa
my taste buds. The way its lentil skates
toward higher stakes with kombucha
dominates the echoes and mirrors
of the Radiohead
cover band’s striving. Running for cover, we head
into the nearest tent; whatever echoes and mirrors
the rain is handmade
or not for sale in here. The scent of a baker’s
cake comes in and offers me its handsaw when my Baker’s
cyst elicits memory’s handmaid.
Fliers for performances of The Comedy
of Errors litter
the eye with glitter
redivivus, cupbearers and community.
For the essence of spiritual CBD
oil – if the expression is permissible –
Corri’s turquoise Hamsa charm fits the bill
to a t.
They call this pinot
“Moonlight in a Nightie.”
Running for cover with impunity,
blue jays point –
by the grace of God – to hardy fuchsias.
A sobering and drunken wind’s companion
break this Saturday into a million cluster fucks.
But for all that, the Elf King’s roastery
clouds the thousand eyes of death, whose motley crew
of semi-arbitrary forces in J. Crew
will have a pretty good story
after today. Sitting tight, last year’s regatta
queen considers last year’s gold rush,
crying in her lap with thrush,
and sips a microbrew until last year’s forgotten.
“Beauty must forget itself to be itself”; a misbegotten
thought, which thinking, thinks, “Your rage agrees
with you, and rages.” By the grace
of this harissa’s miniature toccata
on my tongue,
gap-toothed memory gets around,
brings out the best bratwurst in the lost and found.
Angry it isn’t ideal, a scaredy-cat’s got my tongue.
Jake Sheff is a pediatrician in Oregon. He’s married with a daughter and six pets. Poems of Jake’s are in Radius, The Ekphrastic Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Cossack Review and elsewhere. He won 1st place in the 2017 SFPA speculative poetry contest and a Laureate’s Choice prize in the 2019 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. Past poems have been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook is “Looting Versailles” (Alabaster Leaves Publishing).
Just before midnight, Irina and I went to Odessa station to meet the Moscow train. I paid our taxi driver but asked him to wait; he might or he might not, I knew.
It was cold, black, and raining softly. Half the platform lights were out. The station stank of soot, wet concrete and disinfectant. People huddled, smoking, talking. We stood to one side. Irina wore dark red lipstick; raindrops jewelled her fur coat and her hair.
Loudspeakers crackled an announcement. People shuffled forward, craning their necks. The train drew in and stopped at the buffers with a hiss. Doors opened and passengers spilled out, some looking purposeful, some dazed. Men in fur hats embraced, slapping each other’s backs. Couples walked off carrying plastic suitcases.
We’d come to collect something that someone in Moscow had paid the train guard to bring Irina. ‘Medicine you can’t get in Odessa,’ she said. We climbed onto the train, the steps and handrails battered with years of hard use, and walked through the carriages. Flattened-out cardboard was spread underfoot on the wet metal floors. Compartment doors hung open, showing rumpled grey blankets on narrow fold-down beds.
We found the guard in his yellow-lit cabin, distributing items to people who thanked him quietly and quickly disappeared. He handed over a small packet; Irina slipped it into her bag. Nobody looked at us as we walked back along the wet platform to the gates. Our taxi was waiting after all, and we drove back along Gagarin Prospect, lines of white headlights and red tail-lights starry in the increasing rain.
I didn’t ask Irina about the package, it was none of my business. Once we got to her flat I gave her back the old Makarov pistol she’d asked me to carry.
Peter Justin Newall
Peter Justin Newall lives in Thalgarrah, NSW, but has lived variously in Australia, Ukraine and most recently Kyoto, Japan, where he sang for a popular local blues band. He has been published in England, Hong Kong, the USA and Australia; his stories The Luft Mensch and The Chinese General were each nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Rarely do we tear off a wing
from our past bodies to feel alive
with each other, but it happens
enough that we need
some real wolves in the music
we listen to when the children
are sleeping. I sing to howl
without the substances
of our first life together. Emily,
she likes to close her eyes
& stand alone in the water
of her love for me. It’s a new
distance. We are dancing bears
that cannot understand
how we found our hind legs.
We are so many animals
that I do not understand
how these songs keep finding us.
Darren C. Demaree
Darren C. Demaree is the author of eleven poetry collections, most recently “Emily As Sometimes the Forest Wants the Fire”, (June 2019, Harpoon Books). He is the recipient of a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, the Louis Bogan Award from Trio House Press, and the Nancy Dew Taylor Award from Emrys Journal. He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.