Juliette Sebock

Fur Baby

I once blocked a girl on Facebook who said,
in a conversation entirely separate from me,
that she didn’t understand
why someone would give up a relationship
if their partner asked them to
get rid of their pet.

I told myself I didn’t want that kind of negativity,
even just in my digital life.

In that same thread, someone agreed
and complained about people who call
their animals their “children” instead of their “pets,”
as if what someone else says in this context
really has an effect on her life,
as if these people are truly delusional
and believe they’ve given birth
to a fluffy, four-pawed “fur baby.”

There’s an episode of Modern Family
in which Cam and Mitch don’t get a baby
but Larry the Cat
and Mitch comments that Cam is cramming
Larry into a child-shaped hole in his heart,
and maybe that’s where the word “fur baby”
comes in,
saving the day and giving you something
to love when there’s nothing else.


Bio

Juliette Sebock is the author of Mistakes Were Made and has poetry forthcoming or appearing in a variety of publications.  She is the founding editor of Nightingale & Sparrow and runs a lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste.  When she isn’t writing (and sometimes when she is), she can be found with a cup of coffee and her cat, Fitz.  Juliette can be reached on her website or across social media

Bruce McRae

Wink

Was it the mote in God’s eye?
An errant spark or eyelash?
Is wink the root of ‘twinkle’?

That look on Daddy saying,
‘you’re a mighty fine girl’.
The sly rebus of I.C.U..
The coded quick nudge between us;
hale and hearty co-conspirators
unseen by the spy of patsy.
The wink says ‘you’re in on it’,
‘you know what I mean’, ‘it’s time’.

Or is it only half a blink,
Horus’s other, lazier, eye to follow,
his watery shorthand for infection?


Bio

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

Clarinda Harriss

In My Basement Are Many Galoshes

If it were not so, my clever terrier would go
digging for other treasure. But here come gray
and moldy boots for our walks on sloppy days.
I shove my feet through the cobwebs. Kilo,
thank you for these, also for sniffing out the blazer
I’d thought lost to the trunk of teenage finery
dating back fifty-sixty years or so.

Kilo finds me delicious. How many an old bel-
dam can say a fellow creature thinks her smell
is wonderful? I could almost love myself
as I did at sixteen, wearing a new dress or just
my skin, before the years of rot and must.
I love what I know better than to trust.


My Cat Had None of My Bad Habits

Ms. Katz, nee Cookie, never

–chewed up books the way I did at
age five

–let herself get picked up by somebody
stupid

–lost her dignity by trying to be
charming

— thought she could tell
a joke

–made a big deal about
dying


Bio

Clarinda Harriss is a professor emerita of English at Towson University. She edits and directs BrickHouse Books, Inc., Maryland’s oldest literary press. Among the more recent of her books are DIRTY BLUE VOICE, MORTAIN, and THE WHITE RAIL. A collection of poems based on her years as an Alzheimer’s caregiver, INNUMERABLE MOONS, is at press.

Samuel Guest

Cherophobia

i fought against love until we both lost

it terrified me to think about what would
have happened if you had swept me away

 
Wet Flowers

there are few
things as romantic
as wet flower bulbs
drooping after the rain

little droplets sliding gracefully
down each stem

falling to the ground without making a sound

 
Between the Clouds

darling
you are what i hold deep in
my broken soul

i want to get rid of this fog
so i can treat you right

we can grow wings together

take me between the clouds
where we can survive off
the undying blue in the sky


Bio

Samuel Guest is a Jewish/Canadian poet, author, and educator who was diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability at the age of seven. His book “The Radical Dreams” was published back in April 2018.  He lives in Toronto, Ontario where he works three jobs.

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