Fernando Peralta Cruz CC
Languish, or 3 moods in 3 hours
Sometimes you don’t want to go out
What’s there to do, really?
There are only two roads out of town
and your feet know them by heart.
You’ve visited the stores on the Avenue
repeatedly and worry the help will think
you have no life, which is true but you prefer
they not come to that conclusion yet.
Your car is tired of driving to the same places:
the supermarket, Home Depot, your sister’s group home.
The dogs on the street don’t acknowledge your existence
the geese and goslings are not scared of you
and neither is that gang of boys riding
chopped bikes past without notice.
Almost all relationships have become long distance
affairs, and we know what happens to them.
You gaze at everyone and everything
and are somewhat amazed that gaze
has become a dirty word.
Funerals are not that important
You’ve curated your funeral the past 30 years
down to the set list, the guest list,
and who gets to read a poem.
What’s important is the sense of loss
felt by those you’ve left behind.
You’re a romantic at heart passing your hours
with what if’s, should’ves and why nots.
You have finally come to understand
nobody’s as happy as they are on Facebook
nobody’s as angry as they are on Twitter
nobody’s as beautiful as they are on Instagram
Everyone’s as desperate as they seem…
You don’t ask for much
a walk through Central Park on a sunny day
sharing a bottle of wine with friends at an outdoor cafe
Jacob deGrom throwing strikes against the Braves
orchestra seats for a new Tom Stoppard play
new pathways of thought as you continue to age
no more envy of Instagram poets’ accolades
fresh declarations of love graffitied on the Palisades
this God Damn imposter syndrome to fade away.
Recognizing the bewildered smile on a lost friend’s face.
Danny Shot’s WORKS (New and Selected Poems) was published in March 2018 by (CavanKerry Press). Danny is currently an Associate Editor of A Gathering of the Tribes (https://www.tribes.org/) online He was featured on the television show State of the Arts, NJ in July 2018. Danny lives in Hoboken, NJ (home of Frank Sinatra and baseball) where he is poet-in-residence of the Hoboken Historical Museum. Danny Shot was longtime publisher and editor of Long Shot arts and literary magazine, which he founded along with Eliot Katz in 1982 in New Brunswick, NJ. Check out his new website: https://dannyshot.com/
Tony Webster CC
Born a Watchtower
Long hot summer nights bundled akin to newborn Jesus
Transfixed on cartoons, baptized in flickering blues
Sweat beaded around my throat like a skin tight rosary
From down the hall一 beyond an empty kitchen
Mom’s dreams no longer spoke through her lips
No guttural shouts, screams, or incoherent rambles
I think of Jimi Hendrix; Dad said he choked in his sleep
& slipped into cold silence
My young mind promised she’d rise to morning hunger
May this be love or impatience, but I walked in her room
Passed a night stand with a closed big book next to open Heineken
Tip-toed over a wrinkled bible & painkillers hidden in carpet
I pressed my ear against her chest, held my breath to hear hers
I waited for an exhale一 hoped to feel her lifeless body expand
Sometimes when I doubted my senses, I’d whisper mom
Then rock her shoulders, cradle limp arms, until she returned to me
Though annoyance followed, I murmured a prayer at god
& thanked him for not donating her soul to a collection basket
Carson Sandell is a twenty one year old queer and demisexual poet from San Jose, California. He’s currently studying creative writing with a concentration in poetry at UC Riverside and hopes to become a teacher one day. Beyond writing he is simply a coffee lover, cat enthusiast, and fuzzy sock collector.
Tony Webster CC
On the precipice of their 50th birthday, the overachiever realizes it’s too late to fuck up
to drop the biscuit
and take up with someone 20 years younger
smoke in the tub smoke during dinner smoke in bed
make salad with the carrots of so many obligations
quieten the domestic din with a solo ride
wherever the hell they want
no whining or neat packaged snacks allowed
quit the gym forgo the extra helping of greens
throw out the map of knowing
torch the considered plans with the lighter
they stole from the corner convenience store
in a town they’ve never been
forget to pick up the kids from school
ignore the pleas for every piece of themselves
skip the team training to get too drunk
the liquor burn the slur of memory
hit on the hot dean
punch the colleague who asked them to make coffee
in a professional meeting piss on the pretention and preening
teach students off the record
blow up the learning objectives withered assessments
with youthful verve the smirk of a smart aleck
they can’t tell that younger self the fracture
of their personas the rejections of face
will soften and mold to their frame
like lying in some unreturnable overpriced bed
Faulkner researches, teaches, and writes about relationships in NW Ohio where she knits, runs, and writes poetry about her feminist middle-aged rage. Her poetry + images appear in places like Writer’s Resist, Literary Mama, Ithaca Lit, and Gulf Stream. She lives with her partner, their warrior girl, and three rescue mutts. https://www.sandrafaulkner.online/
Tony Webster CC
One Morning When We Rose Early
Memory of her voice, her crown, on the phone in the dark,
as we planned for a sunrise over the Catskills, and the next day
as I waited for the light to come over the hill, for her to come
and be the light before the light. This was before I understood
that wanting comes from somewhere hurt. Her breasts like the bed
I wanted to die in, her voice like the color green, her face
like the harvest moon, dipped in wax. I wanted to touch her body
the way I had wanted to be touched by my mother: gently, just before sleeping,
sexless as stones. I waited on the hill and she came before dawn
as she said she would, came under my blanket to warm with me our bodies
as the sky bloomed from navy to white, the last star holding stubborn
to watered silk. She came and shivered with me and the icy sun
and we sang rounds, me and this mother I had made for myself
in the Great North out of flesh and cloth.
Meghan Sterling’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Rust & Moth, The West Review, Colorado Review, Pacifica Literary Review, SWIMM, Sky Island Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, River Heron Review, and many others, and was the winner of Sweet Literary’s 2021 Annual Poetry Contest, Winner of Equinox’s 2021 Annual Poetry Contest, and a Finalist in River Heron Review’s 2021 Annual Poetry Contest and Gigantic Sequins’ 2021 Annual Poetry Contest. She is Associate Poetry Editor of The Maine Review, a Hewnoaks Artist Colony resident in 2019 and 2021, and her debut collection, These Few Seeds, came out in 2021 from Terrapin Books. She and her family live in Portland, Maine. Read her work at meghansterling.com.
Tony Webster CC
Can we imagine
we belong? Have you seen
Now the despair
Upon four weeks prior having been
there were passionate observations
of life being objectively
What want is will never ever be.
Take two swings & get the
fuck home. This
is not an experiment but
a test &
who cares what generation
it is there’s
no capital for us to change.
Vacancy is a sweat coming off the brow.
This is a photograph at Tule Lake
a prison built inside
no camps no cages
earn triple points & invest!
Hannity will trim your tree
they are tree specialists. Partners
Purchase to support
cancer look crumpled like
two uninstalled car seats
folded on the front porch.
Tired of rising at scarecrow time
tired of extra swings & tired of the twelfth mile.
Thinking in last season’s shoes w/ holes for rain
water that Great American Replenisher what does the president send
citizens whom the Great American He
would shun & not speak to? Large & ill-fitting
sexually oriented material?
Shove the slot full.
Tired of the Huge Tire Event!
why so many signs to enquire
w/ erosion? Again, trash & a number for concern
piles under the mail box.
Today Kavanaugh “plowed through”
at the foothills of the Unholy Hill
w/ oversize box of Ultra Plush
to deliver tired of Thinking how
unimportant to the lives of the
customers Thinking is & feeling
as a puddle of melted body a little
branch broken off the tree by power
company fallen on hood of car.
It is not
in left sinus
now so why cry?
Ryan Mills is a letter carrier in Portland, OR and a co-founding editor of Old Pal Mag.
Tony Webster CC
Above The World So High
He shoulders off the bus with
nothing to his name but a
soft pack of Camel Lights and
a brass Zippo he stole
from a convenience store
outside Elko, Nevada.
Shadows haunt his eyes.
She imagines ghosts escorting
him down the bus stairwell,
crowding the sidewalk
as he smokes away the last
three-hundred miles of icy highway.
He asks about the boy:
the one with his grandmother’s
eyes and her father's complexion
who is kind to spiders
and hugs too hard
and pronounces els like double-Us
and wants Pluto to be a planet again
—but after five years
he doesn’t know much of that.
All he wants to know
is which lullaby she sings
when only a song will do,
so she tells him
about little stars and how they
and she offers a thrift store coat
with a plane ticket to Boise
tucked away in the breast pocket.
A quick goodbye and
he disappears in the turnstile
with his entourage of ghosts
and when she returns home,
she finds the boy in the backyard
cast vapor trails
above the world so high.
C.W. Blackwell is an American crime fiction author and poet. His recent poetry has appeared in Close to the Bone's 4.4 Series, Versification, The Five-Two, Punk Noir, and Dead Fern Press. His upcoming poetry collection, River Street Rhapsody, will appear in Spring 2022 from Dead Fern Press.
Steve Johnson CC
We Are All Poorly Made
I’m watching the galaxies unveil their
hideous, old-woman faces.
It is that time of night.
A clockwork bird, an attic ghost, a mosquito, and me
in uncomfortable company.
We are all mistakes.
The bird is broken. She ticks
when she turns her head. To see everything
she peers with her lonely gem-stone eye.
The other was lost a long time ago.
We don’t talk about it.
The ghost was made from all the hopes of a household,
a reminder of regret.
It is aging poorly, like everything
else, fraying along its dreamy edges.
The mosquito, well,
mosquitos have always been a metaphor.
They were supposed to teach us to hate secrets. Instead
it loops in the air like a drunken diva.
I flicker in and out of connection.
I can barely breathe.
The constellations make me dizzy,
with their ugly, spinning heads.
Everything that exists cannot hold its balance.
Greta Hayer received her MFA at the University of New Orleans and has work appearing or forthcoming in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Booth, Maudlin House, Cossmass Infinites, and Flint Hills Review. She received a bachelor's degree in history from the College of Wooster, where she studied fairy tales and medieval medicine. Her column, “In Search of the Dream World,” can be found at Luna Station Quarterly. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and their two alien cats.
Tony Webster CC
Ward of the State
He was brought in in handcuffs,
this young man I lived with for years,
his parents itinerant actors, I was told,
who left him with an aunt, one of whose
johns tried to drown him in a bathtub.
I was representing his legal guardian,
Willie long since a ward of the state,
too old for adoption, ever mischievous,
now arrested for trying to steal a purse,
pushing the old woman who wouldn’t let go.
He’d been selling loose joints on the ferry,
rumor had it among the boys still in the home.
Now he sat there for my counsel one more time,
crying like the child he had no chance to be.
“Mr. D, I screwed up. I’m so sorry.”
He was ashamed I had to see him this way.
and that’s how Willie always was when we
were alone, anxious I like him, but when
others were around, he played a mad clown,
flashing that smile of his, light as a feather,
rising above his sumo-wrestler’s body.
When he stole the agency car for a joy ride,
missing two days with three younger boys
he bribed to go with him, I had him sent
to a lock-down. That was three years ago.
I had not seen him since. Now this.
I patted him on the shoulder as he cried
and looked away. “Be strong for yourself,”
I told him. The guard walked him back.
That was the last I ever saw Willie.
I knew the whole world had failed him,
and I was part of that world, and I hated it.
Anthony DiMatteo's recent poems have sprouted in The American Journal of Poetry, Cimarron Review, Clade Song, Ekphrastic Review and ucity Review. His current book of poems In Defense of Puppets has been hailed as, 'a rare collection, establishing a stunningly new poetic and challenging the traditions that DiMatteo (as Renaissance scholar) claims give the poet 'the last word'' (Cider Press Review). A chapbook Fishing for Family is out from Kelsay Books.
Aekta Khubchandani is a writer and poet from Bombay. She is the founder of Poetry Plant Project, where she conducts month-long poetry workshops. She is matriculating her dual MFA in Poetry & Nonfiction from The New School in New York, where she is the Reading and Community Development Assistant. Her fiction “Love in Bengali Dialect,” is nominated for Best American Short Fiction anthology. Her personal essay, “Holes in the Body” is featured on LitHub’s Best of Weekly Literary and her poem, “Sun spotting” is nominated for Best of Net 2021 by Nurture Literary. Her film, “New Normal” whose script she has written, won the Best Microfilm award at Indie Short Fest by Los Angeles International Film Festival. She has published works in Entropy, Passages North, Speculative Nonfiction, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. She’s working on her first book of hybrid poems.
Pawel Maryanov CC
Your childhood is a cluster of bodies
ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph:
no sugar until you're allergy free
and here's your mother deciding you're too fat
to wear a two piece at five years old your
older brother pummelling you, you take up
too much oxygen space love whatever you exist
too much you mustn't even glare back at him
your parents tell you, just ignore him, don't get
involved in your own humiliation,
so your eyes grow apart like a rabbit's, keen to every
flicker of hostility, your maturity your protection,
and here's your father complimenting
your curves, how alluring they are you are
a sexy woman you are thirteen years old and being told
your toes look good enough to eat so you see, you cannot
just live in this body it's been provocative from the moment
it was judged female you've balanced that careful egg of gender
on your head it weighs the world and breaks from time to time
and your mother mistakes you for a shell: she pours
all her hates and fears into you all her personal sex failures,
all she feels she's owed, until there is no space left under all that
there is no space to feel anything ugly, anything real, anything at all,
there never can be for the girl they saw, who is nothing
but a sheet of wiped glass, a mirror with a cartoon bow drawn on
maybe that's why I'm burning all the time
now I've left, the feeling is finally
returning to me now.
Sophia Holme (she/her) is a queer poet and writer, made in Canada but now based in Oxford, England. Her work can be found in Molotov Cocktail, Not Deer Magazine, Horse Egg Literary and elsewhere. She runs, drinks a lot of coffee and enjoys reading bits of several novels at once. She tweets from @holmesophia
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