Steve Denehan

Doubled Over
For Auntie Ellen

Childhood would have been halved
without her
in the velvet dark of the cinema
perched on the edge of our seats
fistfuls of popcorn frozen in the air
as we watched, unblinking
small aliens
enormous explosions
cars chasing
buildings falling
twice, if we wanted to

she would take us to Burgerland on O’Connell Street
long since gone
and we would gorge on milkshakes and
chips and
chips and
chips
and salt, so much salt
and I remember those nights
perched on the edge of the bed
doubled over
trying to burst the ball of pain in my stomach
happy

I watch her now with my daughter
the eighty years between them
nothing
the light
just the same

 

Bio
Steve Denehan lives in Kildare, Ireland with his wife Eimear and daughter Robin. Recent publication credits include The Irish Times, The Phoenix, The Blue Nib, The Opiate, The Hungry Chimera, Evening Street Review, Ink in Thirds, Crack The Spine and The Cape Rock.  He has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and his chapbook, “Of Thunder, Pearls and Birdsong” is available from Fowlpox Press. https://denehan.wixsite.com/website

Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah

—Of God’s Twitter Handle. 
//
Brother, you’ve submerged yourself from heaven’s gawking of your name. Breathing a song here. Writing a verse there. Throwing your weight after drone survey and every lesson learnt after downloading a portrait of yourself from the internet. 

Heaven is calling you from the rigorous pulsation of your mother’s hefty heart beats. Today isn’t your birthday, /& though many moons have fallen from the clouds, that isn’t your fault or god’s plan like Drake’s pierced tongue frosting mirages of boys rising through the tide on this isle of their mother’s tears. 

I ask, if ever I’ve been known. If ever I’vent been pained. If ever I’m looking for what you too have been been searching for. Too much pain inside this body’s accordion. So many voices tearing this eardrum apart. 

Everyday, I see nightmares flicker through dead cells. I inch towards dilemma. I take to my phone’s recorder and I spread my tongue on it like there’s no tomorrow //(&) if there be another day, maybe this anonymous voice note shall be computed into the tenacity call of those who lived without a trail. 

But I’m not ashamed of my body’s pursuit in darkness. Of the way years turn into wine inside my head & [or] how time takes to the course of plastic surgery. 

Maybe we’re just a constellation of god’s filter on instagram stories waiting to be promoted to reach a targeted audience. 

/& Just maybe, we’re memes on God’s Twitter handle: “God does not actually live here”.

 

Bio

Abeiku Arhin Tsiwah is a Ghanaian Smartphone Enthusiast //& Content Critic. He’s the Poetry Editor at Lunaris Review (a Journal of Arts & the Literary, Nigeria) & the Creative Director at The Village Thinkers (a Creative Writing & Performing Arts Society, Ghana). The 2018 Shortlisted Poet for African Writers Awards has had his works anthologized/&[or] publicized in reputed literary volumes: EXPOUND, Whispers, NovelMasters, Kreative Diadem, Anansekrom, VisualVerse, Gnosis Magazine, Tuck Magazine, The Liberian Literary Magazine, etcetera.

Adrian Slonaker

Foot Rubs

Rub us!
Her pale toes wiggle as
he grips each one with
proper respect, never slipping a digit
between them because those spaces are
the mouths of the feet,
and he wouldn’t want them to gag.
The massages have been guaranteed each evening,
once her keys collapse on the counter
and her flats are flung off,
for two decades bookended by
student ramen and osteoarthritis,
every squeeze a symbol of solidarity
through flu and SlimFast failures and
families crumbling like
Gondwana.
Get the heel!
When tension seeps from a knob of bone
repeatedly plastered against
the steps of Robie Street,
she grinds her green eyes
into giddy slits and
festoons the cramped bedroom with
shrieks of relief.

 

Bio

Zigzagging back and forth across the Canadian/US border, Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor. Adrian’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in Pangolin Review, Aerodrome, WINK: Writers in the Know and others.

Julie Sampson

Solstice

This process of decay
quickens, the heart beat
comes too close, too close.

You tell me on the phone
your patient has died, at last,
you heard his final breath,
folded his wrinkled hands
holding on, not letting go.

Here, paint flakes, doors
refuse to shut, windows warp
and out through cracked glass
pinks and white-rose petals
photosynthesise, then
fall in shreds.

I remember my son aged three
tottering on wet grass
  tumbling,
    tumbling,
mum… my… wait for me.

Over there the gypsophilia,
we call it baby’s breath,
will soon overlay the cracked bird-bath
and below in garden’s hollow
where pool’s absorbing setting light
astilbes crest the golden lilies,
butterflies wisp over irises
and interleafing the surfacing fish those hostas
still whisper life-giving secrets.

 

Bio

Julie Sampson is a widely published poet. She edited Lady Mary Chudleigh’s Selected Poems, 2009 (Shearsman). She has two poetry collections: Tessitura, (Shearsman, 2014); and It Was When It Was When It Was (Dempsey and Windle), 2018. She was highly commended in the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, (IDP). Her website is https://www.juliesampson.com/

Luke Kuzmish

lamb of god

Kaity has lipstick on her teeth
just an imperfection
that I don’t mention

there’s a baby faced kid
kissing a train wreck
stolen on her cheek
between total ignorance
of the present. Her cough
is hoarse
and her life is measured
in hard years
freebase years
shoplifting years
and time in between
jail sentences
family interventions
and maternal disappointments

& then there’s Brandon
I’ll miss him most of all
he’s trapped
between the death of the sun
& the cold vacuum of eternity;
trapped
like a ship in a bottle
talking
just to hear
his echoes hit
the wall

 

Bio

Luke Kuzmish is a new father, recovering addict, and writer from Erie, Pennsylvania where he was a 2018 finalist for Erie County Poet Laureate. His work has been selected for publication by the likes of Beatnik Cowboy, Rigg Welter, Call Me [Brackets], Ink Sweat and Tears, Poets’ Hall Press, Mojave River Review, amongst others.  His first full-length collection of poetry, “Little Hollywood,” was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2018.

Paul Lojeski

hospital visit

I long for the high
cliff above a battering
sea, the long fast drop
in slashing winds,
the howl of exit
quickly made, not
cemented into these
beds, vacant eyes
locked into sharp lights,
a mob of IVs jammed
into emaciated arms,
truth rough handled,
contorted by white
coated messengers
delivering death’s
missives, reports of
the body’s surrender,
until the smell of
my own demise is all
that remains of once
glorious dreams.

 

Bio

Paul Lojeski was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio. He attended Oberlin College. His poetry has appeared online and print. He lives in Port Jefferson, NY.

Len Kuntz

The Next One

Did he kiss you first?
What were his hands doing?
Were the lights dim or bright?
Did he notice one eye is bigger,
one tooth slightly longer?
Were there splotches?
Did your air catch, your chest clutch?
Did many freckles dance?
How much time was allotted for staring?
What scents did he notice?
Did he ask, “Have you ever…?”
Did he ask, “What are you thinking?”
Did he say, “Oh my” and have to look away?
Were there any sighs?
Any tears, or just a goofy grin?
Did he trace curves and whorls,
find that tailbone bump?
Did he try to polish your nose?
Was there much laughter?
Any music playing?
What was the room doing?
What were you thinking then?
Did he kiss you first,
and if so,
what exactly did that
mean to you?


Bio

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and the author of four books, most recently the story collection, THIS IS WHY I NEED YOU, out now from Ravenna Press.  You can find more of his writing at lenkuntz.blogspot.com

Andrew Dooley


Bio

Andrew Dooley is a graduate of Rhode Island College with a BA in English/Creative Writing. He has a self-published collection of poetry titled Shine Walker, and his first published poem titled “flicker”, can be found in Visitant Lit Magazine.

Dr. Susie Gharib

Release

Death was omnipresent in my childhood.
It had claimed many dear ones, my dog,
but it took Catherine and Heathcliff on the Yorkshire moors
to make me ponder over the metaphysical core
of such inevitability that most people abhor.

Emily Dickinson drove with Death in a carriage
but in an oven Sylvia Plath held her rendezvous.
Virginia Woolf embraced it with a pile of stones,
and Cathars gladly went into fire to defend their cause.

My own battle with death started when I was seven years old.
A fever devoured my brain cells and temperatures soared,
but I never felt comfortably numb as in Pink Floyd’s.
I only remember crawling on four
like a half-anaesthetized worm.

Now I daily think of death as an invisible boat
that will ferry me across the mud
to the other side of the cosmic road,
to a clay-free world,
where the light that is cloaked with so much fog
will be released from this bundle of bones.


Bio

Dr. Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various magazines.

Jonathan Douglas Dowdle

Sooner

Sooner the wind’s song
Passing through the leaves
Early in the morning
Where the sun lays the heat of its head
Against the earth and
One might waken
To see the earth take shape
Within your eyes
To be blessed with a thousand names
Spoken into creation;
Yes, these are the moments
Truth is born from, and without them
It doesn’t exist.


Bio

Jonathan Douglas Dowdle was born in Nashua, NH and has traveled throughout the US; he currently resides in South Carolina. Previous works have appeared or are appearing in: Hobo Camp Review, 322 Review, The Opiate, The Right Place At The Write Time, Blue Hour Review, Whimperbang, After The pause, Midnight Lane Boutique, Visitant, Adelaide, Blue Moon, Bitchin’ Kitsch And The Big Windows Review.