Karen Wolf

Green

fleshes out a leaf and blades
of grass along walk ways peopled

with olive-skinned
tourists, inhaling a copper

green-sheen glazed
skyscraper. It

skitters across a pond on a frog’s
back before turning

brown as an eye-bulging head
dives into mud to escape a blue

heron beak. Light
brown bark calls up cemetery

dirt shoveled on a pine box
three rows from mother’s stone, gold

of gravediggers’ backward
ball cap matching daisy

centers collected in her vase. I
place one on the fresh

dirt.

 
Rolling with It

Years pile on slough
away wrinkle
free skin, sag perky
nipples and erase all
fears of superiority that
texturize conversations like
my veganism pitted against
animal cruelty. Attention

to style slips
away as mood and comfort
dictate seducing me into
satisfaction. I

cloak social
interactions in silence,
let the drivel eat
up time better spent learning
the language of
a sage oak or rising
in a hot air balloon above the badlands
of the near disaster of my life.

 
Easing Passage

Boulders of conviction
blocking
the path of our interaction cast
shadows upon our shared
reality—
your inner
argument suffocated within a self
made suit
of armor that nothing
my stubborn words penetrate; nothing
you’re brooding
over escapes, or my
insistence chinks—
couldn’t we just go for a walk?

 
Bio

Karen Wolf has been published in Smokey Blue Literary and Art Magazine, The Wagon Magazine, Oasis Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, The Bookends Review, The Drunken Llama, Blynkt, Raw Dog Press, Street Light Press, Lady Blue Literary Arts Journal, Ripcord Magazine and many others. Her chapbook, THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2018.

She says that poetry soothes the savage beast and opens her eyes to the beauty that abounds within the world.

Sarah Wallis

Catching the Startle
(in a Bronze Age Amber Cup)

A circle of ambered light glimmers secrets
of robin fire, holding past fly swarms, sunk
into time in the resinous light that was their ruin,
is warm with the memory of camp songs,
woodcutting and axe grinding, the close
of the backbreaking day, the cup contains
a multitude of burning secrets and stories;
of owners, worshippers and time bound
in the earth, of finders and seekers,
hoarders and keepers, old cupboards, dusted
shelves and museum soft light. The outside
so simple, plain, unadorned, something
overlooked, a mud cup you might pack up
for a long journey, but glance once inside,
oh the inside, see how it glitters and sparkles,
crackles and burns, like a fire opal, as magical
as a girl who is just setting out, questioning
received wisdom, beginning to wonder, to revel
at the wild, looking close at all that would beguile.


Epithalamium

‘You may kiss your bride,’ the words rang out,
one girl incarnadine, one girl in cobalt and gold,
a peal of liberation and the guests clapped hands,

human music, all joy, all told in singing celebration

we joined hands too and smiled, a branch
of winter bravery, mistletoe slunk down, inclined
towards us and our fingers reached for the crown

two kisses breathed, one sanctified, one stolen

a pagan wedding made none the less of heaven.


Sing Upon a Starfish

He can grow a leg to stand en pointe
stiffly poised in a tutu of seaweed
training earnestly for fluidity, ballerina

reach and elegance, he who gave a leg
for freedom and scooched away with four,
in fine drains of sand, the eternal escapee

to rival the cat burglar in his craft, his guard up
and watchful of the company rockpool, counting
in and counting out, wishing on a red sail

hoist the jib, raise the colours, called out to sea
singing a quiet shanty of the old days when he
might have held naval duty, but peg legged

to shore for a time, confined himself to quiet pools
and like any old salt, he watches the tides
carry their ships, go moon their to and fro.


Bio

Sarah Wallis is a poet & playwright based in Leeds, UK, who has held residencies at Leeds Playhouse & Harrogate Theatre. 2018 publications include Pidgeonholes, Ellipsis, TrainLit, The A3 Review, Best New British & Irish Poets 2018 and The Island Review.

Robert Halleck

The Cousin

You look like you sound
he tells her through the hug

making years fade away.
Years of Christmas cards,

promises, schedules, distance,
until shortened days, growing

desire for closure, clarity,
make a visit needed.

Years fade away in a hug—
a hug that goes on and on

as if death awaited its end.


The Shed

A grass clotted lawn bag hooked on a
nail lends its scent to the darkness. You
find the bare bulb suspended from the
ceiling. Light floods your adjusting eyes
to reveal racks of hoes, rakes, D-handled
shovels. A loose brick and block set of
shelves filled with jars of assorted screws,
bent nails, dried paint, varnish– leftovers
from dozens of honey do jobs. The work-
bench holds a vise, half wired lamps, empty
beer cans. Windowless walls are covered
in thumb tacked notes, calendars, curling
photos. A mourning place for a father just dead.


Bio

Robert Halleck lives in Del Mar, California with his muse Della Janis. In the past 3 years his poems have appeared in over 30 magazines, anthologies, and poetry blogs.

Guy Biederman

Lick the World Clean

Waking up

the line of a poem

                     disappears

with other dreams and ideas in your head.

Go on, the line says — you get up, I’ll hang here for awhile.

                    You make coffee,

feeling like you left money on the table,

feeling like the scotch that seemed so

essential last night

is this morning’s mistake now being worked off

                           over time.

So you use your listening pen, your telescope journal

your chair and coffee and the two cats

                            both now fed

steer you back to that line as they lick the world clean.


Tempurpedic Adjustments

Falling off the side of the world you readjust your pillow and regain your footing. It’s like walking sideways across a steep hill. Careful, and you can get there. One cat has taken to sleeping under the covers, his landing gear retracted. You take not getting the inside of your bicep clawed, as progress. Communication at its best goes both ways. The world levels out but is not flat. There is no such thing as a straight line in nature and the limitations of your mind are no more than a breach in imagination. Easily adjusted by readjusting one’s pillow. Or turning on your side. It’s not a new bed or world that you need — just a better night’s sleep. A purring cat or two helps.

 
Because I’m a Cat and You’re Not

Delmar gets it. Breakfast before 6:00, lap time to follow. Then Alone Time on my favorite white recliner for as long as I see fit. Now it’s your turn to learn. I get that you are used to dogs. There are things you must unlearn. I won’t come when you whistle. I don’t sit, shake, or fetch. I won’t tell you when it’s okay to pet me, but you’ll know. You’ll know when it’s time to stop, too. When the litter needs changing, you’ll know. When the new cat food that you bought on sale doesn’t agree, you’ll know. Delmar knows better. He knows I only eat Newman’s organic, occasional milk chaser. He knows I devour salmon chunks, wild, not farmed. I’ve read your blog. You like to pontificat.  (leave it—turn off auto-correct now.) At times, you’re cute. You really are. You try to understand. You document our every move. You post Facebook videos with narrators who impose their limited narratives on us using stupid voices. But we are not anarchists. We are benign dictators who tolerate your presence, who allow you to stroke us, permit you to host us in your lap. What you call chaos — a shredding of the fabric chair, divots in the carpet, a steamy one in your leather shoe, is actually a form of communication. Call it a teaching moment. If you require further tutorials, consult Delmar’s notes. He’ll pay for being away. He always does. When he returns Monday, he’ll be ignored for three days. Perhaps I’ll go missing under the bed while he frantically posts flyers with my likeness and a handsome reward. When I emerge, breakfast will be moved to 5 am. I’ve all but cured him of weekend travel. The last three cat sitters refused to return. To make amends, Del will buy a scratching post I’ll ignore (Persian carpet hello??). Understand, this is not anarchy. It’s a set of sensible rules you’ll yield to, or else. Delmar gets it. You will too.


Bio

Guy’s work has appeared in many journals including Flash Back Fiction, Pretty Owl Poetry (nominated for Best Of The Net 2018), Sea Letter, and Peeking Cat Poetry. His collection, Soundings and Fathoms was published by Finishing Line Press. He and his wife live on a houseboat with two salty cats and walk the planks daily.

Adesina Ayobami Idris

For The Girl Who Owns My Childhood

Somewhere in osun
a boy wakes into
the sound from his
lover’s throat — her songs

he fell in love
with a pretty girl
with tiny mouth
that could make
his mother rise
from her crippled chair

he’s patiently waiting
for his sickly sister
to make morning meal
before he rides his
paper plus rope cab to
his lover’s house —

to see legs & moving heads
in their coloured television

his father is a picture
drawn in epitaph

his mother is a memory
on a wheel chair

— his home is at war
with wind his father
ate his breath to catch

but he, with his thumb-like dream
& little knowledge of nothing
feels safe in his lover’s body


Bio

Adesina Ayobami Idris is a Nigerian poet who writes from the uphills of Ilorin. His works have appeared and are forthcoming on Nanty greens, Ace world, Minute magazine. He lives in a house surrounded by tall trees and singing birds.

Jennifer Lothrigel

Hiding

This morning I feel like
a red gum ball,
fallen into a river shaped sidewalk crack,
mourning mishaps
and pleasure.

I want to dissolve my outsides colorfully in the palm
of a stranger’s hand.

I want to feel language
against the soft pliable form of my body,
colorless,
expanding beyond old forms,
naked in someone’s mouth.


Little Clear Wing

I placed one ranunculu bulb at a time.
I had no idea how they would ever rise through
the toughened Summer ground.

We have both been dormant so long,
I didn’t even know how much
faith we’d lost.
Next to me,
I spotted
a tiny insect wing,
translucent,
newly shed,
glistening in the sun.

It was perfect,
undeveloped,
lost
the only truth
the day had offered.


Bio

Jennifer Lothrigel is a poet and artist residing in the San Francisco Bay area.  She has just published her first chapbook through Liquid Light Press, titled ‘Pneuma’.  Her work has also been published in Deracine, Rag Queen Periodical, Poetry Quarterly, The Haight Ashbury Journal, NILVX and elsewhere. Find her on instagram @PartingMists

Lisa Stice

Out of Banishment
for Leonor López de Córdoba

your words transcribed (réplica)
not quite the same as your own
lost from San Pablo at Córdoba

lost like su familia locked away
lost like a promise of safety after
long years imprisoned in darkness

lost favor of Catalina of Lancaster
sepan cuantos esta escriptura vieren
fire of the spirit survives in memories


* Leonor López de Córdoba (1362-1420; Spain): wrote the first autobiography in Castilian (Memorias)

* sepan cuantos esta escriptura vieren (Let those who see this writing know) borrowed from Memorias by Leonor López de Córdoba

 
Drought
for S. Rukiah

to contemplate
to know your own subconscious
that is freedom

tell me what a hero
looks like—will I recognize her
when we meet

I want you to know
all your banished poems are returning
dreams reprinted


* S. Rukiah Kertapati (1927-1996; Indonesia): poet (Tandus), novelist (Kejatuhan dan Hati / The Fall and the Heart), and children’s author (Pak Supi, Kakek Pengungsi / Mr. Supi, the Refugee Grandpa)

* title borrowed from the English title of Tandus

* S. Rukiah’s books were banned and her writings removed from anthologies during the New Order.

 
Weakened Sight
for Ninon Hesse

you know, some of us are afraid
of the dark, some of us need
a little night light in these dark
seasons of the soul when, without
some help, we couldn’t go on,
at least not so easily as before

and when others come to excavate
the scene in full light, they might
find the pen and say his fingers
touched this and never know
it was you drafting out chapters
and setting everything rightly

because, you know, light can be
deceiving too, when squinting,
it’s easy to see what we imagine,
loving our ideas so much, codling
them into a dream-state completely
missing the wallflower in shadow


* Ninon Hesse (1895-1966; Ukraine): historian/archaeologist, co-author/editor (Kindheit und Jugend vor Neunzehnhundert 1, Kindheit und Jugend vor Neunzehnhundert 2, and Ausgewählte Briefe) and memoirist (Lieber, lieber Vogel: Briefe an Hermann Hesse); third wife of Hermann Hesse

 
Bio

Lisa Stice is a poet/mother/military spouse. She is the author of two full-length collections, Permanent Change of Station (Middle West Press, 2018) andUniform (Aldrich Press, 2016), and a chapbook, Desert (Prolific Press). While it is difficult to say where home is, she currently lives in North Carolina with her husband, daughter and dog. You can learn more about her and her publications at lisastice.wordpress.com and at facebook.com/LisaSticePoet.

Miki Byrne

Boot Tapping for Winter.

Cold begins to nibble.
Leaves take on autumn colour
and I resurrect my boots.
Haul every pair like treasure,
from dark cupboards
and storage space under the bed.
The pair I keep for dog-walking
still carries last winter’s mud.
Left in the euphoria of coming
sunshine, thoughts of long dresses
swishing over bare feet.
I line winter boots like soldiers
on parade: Black, grey, brown, tall
and ankle length.
Lift them one by one.
Tip them upside down
and hold them by the heel.
Beat each boot with a wooden spoon,
where sole meets foot.
Wallop it hard all round.
My heart thumps faster as I
remain alert.
Watch the floor for a spider
to drop out.

Bio

Miki has had two poetry collections and a pamphlet published, plus over 500 poems included in poetry magazines/anthologies. She was a finalist for Gloucestershire’s Poet Laureate and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Miki has read on TV and on Radio many times. She also ran a poetry writing group at The Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury. Miki is disabled and now lives near Tewkesbury. Gloucestershire, UK.

Dan A. Cardoza

My Raised Amnesia Garden

I built it out of redwood, hot-dipped
galvanized bolts, half inch washers,
hexed nuts, 4×6 redwood corner posts.

I am almost sure it’s just for me, now
that it’s nearly complete.

It’s time to compost the raised garden.

Avocado skins, carrot tops, forgiveness, chicken
manure, layers of moldy onion skin too.

And when the last frost has healed the warm soil,
at the first sign of spring, I’ll plant parsnips,

rows of lettuce, alongside turmeric, basil and a
blueberry bush, good for memory I am told.

I’ll sew my favorite, bitter sweet ginger, some
amnesia & avocado in celebration of you.

These I intend to harvest each season,
along with carrot, red radish––tomato.

Bio

Dan has a MS Degree. Dan lives in Northern California and is the author of three chapbooks: Nature’s Front Door, Expectation of Stars and Ghosts in the Cupboard. Partial Credits: Amethyst, UK., Ardent, Better Than Starbucks, California Quarterly, Chaleur Magazine, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Frogmore Journal, UK, High Shelf Press, Oddball, Poetry Northwest, The Quail Bell, Skylight 47, Ireland, Spelk, Unstamatic, and Vita Brevis.

Aremu Adams Adebisi

A poem with a matrimonial bed

I hate it when my poem flings me like a waif
and I have just given it, you know, a lush treat.

The synthesis of panjandrums, twittering sound
of paid flesh, corsetted curves, flecked pudenda,

and the in-house experience of fucking an ingenue,
with an eye for the insane and the louche, all splayed

over his imageries, irritate him. My poem grunted
I brought some girls to his house unannounced, ate

the void on what?— ‘his matrimonial bed’! But I had
just fixed your broke ass, Oblivion. I made you

out of void, out of dust, hallucination, soliloquy,
name it, Oblivion; name it! My sculptor-hands

still ring of mud I plastered your frame with.
But this is what you get when your poem is used 

to grief to have considered luxury a phenomenon
of the rich. Silky and cashmere feel of life’s carcass, 

responsiveness to the pearling normatives of breath,
amount to a picayune in his great scheme of things. 

We argue every day on the lodestar, who writes whom,
who scepters the hub of images. Dust-burned skin,

mottled dream, I pity this nature, a glass of myriad
cracks, birthed out of fragments, wrung into whole

Bio

Aremu Adams Adebisi is a black poet, author of works inspired by natural vastness. His products are published on Rockvale Review, Brittlepaper, Laurel Magazine, Thirdwednesday Magazine, Barren Magazine, Poetica Magazine, and elsewhere. He seeks to find depth, peace and tranquility in poetry, exploring the concepts of liberation, equality and existentialism. He can be reached on Twitter @aremudamsbisi