A Murmuring

When all we have is song
to fill the space between us,

the feather of each note,
frail flight of melody, a flock

murmuring from my chest,
I let go, sing distance and space

into shapes you might hold
in your mind, birds that form,

fragment, coalesce and flee.
This moment of rest, a dream,

to be unburdened, a wish,
briefly. Out of my mouth,

they glide around the room,
your breath, soft as moth wings

on night air, what memory sings
in places we no longer can.

Cameron AvesonCameron Aveson is originally from Southern California but moved to the Central Valley almost twenty years ago when he started working for Kings Canyon National Park as a trail worker. He lives in the foothills east of Fresno with his wife and 18 month-old daughter. His work has appeared in journals and magazines such as Crab Creek Review, Blood Orange Review and Foothill: a journal of poetry.

A Brief Suspension of All History #2

I have plans
on the thick part
of my hands

& when they flush
with un-tender
flesh, build

like a mountain
risen to escape
my own bones,

you will see
the structures
behind me. All

of them speaking
of my shoulders.
All of them whole

& personal
& held fast
to my own Ohio.

Darren C. DemareeDarren C. Demaree is living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children. He is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies (Spring 2013) and Not For Art Nor Prayer (2014), both are forthcoming from 8th House Publishing. He is the recipient of two Pushcart Prize nominations.

Yard Sale

Standing with my friend in his garage,
We look at things left over:
Hose connections, extension cords,
Kitchen utensils, power tools,
Twenty years of memorabilia.

His house has sold,
Not for a high price;
He’s glad to be out from under it.
Another friend, Richard, will take his dog.
Somehow, I say, I always thought
You and the dog would go together.

It’s a bad joke and I tighten my lip.
He hands me a snow shovel
And points to the reels of garden hose.
Kay, he says, wants the leaf blower.

Dread drifts like fog around my heart.
He’s got enough now what with the house,
His father’s inheritance,
For a couple of years, maybe four.

The lids of my eyes close with his.
Guilt, I want to say, belongs to time.

Daniel_Sundahl_photo-1

Daniel Sundahl is a professor in English and American Studies at Hillsdale College where he has taught for thirty years. He’s the author of three books and, over the years, has been published in a variety of periodicals. He’s married to Ellen; they have one well-behaved German Shepherd and three less well-behaved mackerel cats. He occasionally cooks.

Pockets, Long Enough

Pockets

My mother used to say
if she ran out of money,
she would walk into the sea.
Just drive to the beach
and walk into the water,
keep walking until the ocean
swallowed her up. She made it
sound easy, like she wouldn’t
fight the waves to suck in
one more mouthful of air.
Maybe she thought she’d be
like Virginia Woolf and fill
her pockets with stones,
give herself no choice
but to be dragged under.
In the end, she found another
way to plummet, drowning
in mid-air, her pockets filled
with the money she had been
so afraid to lose.

 

Long Enough

My mom had been hanging
for fourteen hours when
the sanitation worker arrived
to gather the trash and found her
by the dumpster. Long enough
for the clothes the coroner returned
to us to smell like the raccoon who died
beneath my house, permeating each room
with a sick sweet stench long after
we finally found its body. Long enough,
but not as long as Virginia, whose body
bumped along the Ouse for three weeks,
pores soaking up river water, flesh billowing
and blue, each cell pregnant with her death.

Gayle BrandeisGayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House), the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement, Self Storage (Ballantine), and Delta Girls (Ballantine), and her first novel for young people, My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt), which won a Silver Nautilus Book Award. Gayle teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Antioch University, LA and lives in Riverside, CA, where she is serving a two-year appointment as Inlandia Literary Laureate.

What the Atheists Speak Of

The nitrous cloud goes berserk
In the nineteenth century, when the toads
Were writers thinking up Horror—she wounds me
With her pale skin and liquid midsection,
Scarcity is scarce, and I take it from there, holding gripes,
The papers tell it, how the Pope goes pop
Into a new old castle and the people go people.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, going pee
Nothing happens and nothing again
Happens, and I think this is the emptiness
The atheists speak of, the mirror on the wall
Has no power to come alive and the oranges
Sitting on the kitchen table are black objects
With no goal but to rot.

Alejandro EscudeAlejandro Escudé is the winner of the 2012 Sacramento Center Poetry Award; his first collection, My Earthbound Eye, is due out in late 2013. His poetry has also appeared in Rattle, Phoebe and Poet Lore. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro is an English teacher and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two kids. When he’s not grading papers or writing poems, Alejandro enjoys birding in the Ballona Wetlands, Bolsa Chica and other beautiful Southern California locales.

Grapefruit

My father held a grapefruit –
the yellow-orange rind
blending with the skin
of his palm. Two knives
on the cloth – one small,
a bent edge of serrated teeth
to dissect the flesh, the other
long, broad, with a smooth blade.
He held the larger, rested it on top
of the fruit before a clean split
perfumed the air with citrus,
two ruby halves falling
to a gentle wobble on the counter.
For you, the biggest, he said,
placing mine face-up in a bowl
as he lifted the precision knife.
I watched as he outlined glistening triangles
with careful cuts, rotating the bowl
as he worked. He finished mine,
then began his own, the same motion,
like a saw turned downward,
until we could dip
into the shallow crevasses, lifting
wedges out like spoonfuls of soup,
hands cupped underneath
to catch falling drops. We ate together,
juice dribbling down our chins.
When we finished, we took the hollowed husks
and squeezed, remnants of tangy nectar
streaming out to pool pink in our bowls.

Bryn HomuthBryn Homuth’s poems have been published (or are forthcoming) in Red Earth Review, The Round and Mosaic, among others. He currently serves as poetry editor for the online publication Touchstone at Kansas State University, where he teaches composition courses while working to complete an MA in creative writing. Following master’s study, he plans to continue writing and teaching, with aims to one day publish multiple collections of poetry.

Dover, Delaware

This is the day her brother has a relapse and shoots heroin. It’s
worse than the days when they were young and he would run with
scissors on purpose. It’s worse than the days he would chase the
neighbor’s fat cat, chucking clods of dirt. It’s worse than when he
would come home with cuts and bruises that were the result of him
“falling down.”

She feeds her pet Clownfish with a shaky hand—catastrophe is rarely
beautiful. The fish rises, struggling in the pump’s current, and eats as
many flakes as it possibly can. She promises herself that she will not
compare her brother to a fish.

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Adam Crittenden holds an MFA in poetry from New Mexico State University and serves as an editor for Lingerpost, Puerto del Sol and Apostrophe Books. His work has appeared or will appear in Whiskey Island, Metazen, Matter Press, > kill author, and several other journals. He currently teaches writing in Albuquerque.

No One Ever Told Me

that an MRI sounds a bit like
avant-garde dance music, or one of those
key chains I had as a kid,

where I’d press a button
and it would shriek out some
distorted beeps and static to mimic

a machine gun, or a bomb falling
from far away. No one told me
that I should use those sounds,

to distract myself
from how long I’ll have to hold
my breath. No one told me that nothing else

is as satisfying as the radiologist’s
voice over the speaker system saying
OK, you can breathe now.

I felt like pork: driven into a dark tube,
ready to be made into sausage.
I did not expect the radiologist

to be so kind when I writhed
on the first try. She patted me
with her cool hand and said I’ll give you

a few minutes alone. How strange:
she, of all people, would be someone
I would want to call after with Please don’t

leave me here alone. But after
I learned to keep my eyes shut,
as five years earlier, when he held

my shoulders down from above me, it became
somehow easier: I remind myself that I asked
to be here, planned it, calmly undressed

and left my clothes heaped
in another room. No one ever told
me that it would be an MRI – the strange

linens and the breathlessness – that would spin
me back to the memory of a blind date,
his empty house in the noiseless woods,

Will I exit this exam the same as I did that night:
gather my things casually, so stunned
that I smile politely and wave before saying goodbye,

relieved that it’s over? But here,
in this office, it is not over yet:
when the long platform I’m sprawled on

surprises me with its quick jolt, like a stutter
forward and back, I clutch the sheet
beneath me, and focus on the noise:

discotheque, video game, fax machine,
the sound of an old ink jet printer
grinding the cartridge across

the page. No one ever told me
I would feel outside myself, as if I were standing
with my nose just above the paper, watching

the bands of color overlap one
thin strip at a time to form the whole
picture, waiting for it to finish.

Lisa ManginiLisa Mangini earned her MFA at Southern Connecticut State University. She is the recipient of the 2011 Connecticut Poetry Prize and a recent semifinalist of the Codhill Press Chapbook Award. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Stone Highway Review, Louisiana Literature, Knockout, 2 Bridges Review and others. She is the founding editor of Paper Nautilus, and teaches English composition and creative writing part-time at several colleges and universities across Connecticut.

 

“No One Ever Told Me” is a Best of the Net 2013 finalist, selected by A.E. Stallings. Congratulations to Lisa Mangini!

Silk Road Passages

Traveler, rest a moment upon your horse’s neck.
Look at your companions through the fluttering of his mane:
Here. There. Gone. Returned.
A thousand journeys, but only one border to cross,
An infinite banner, woven from a single
shared thread.

We are the curtain between two worlds,
lifted, rippled, blown
by winds we do not see and cannot hear
but feel
in the jingling of saddle-cloth bells
in the trailings of the shroud.

We knot our fingers in silver horsehair
and pray not to fall,
yet never grasp
how life solves its mystery in us,
pouring out its gems and spices
to the music of our flutes –
how death rises
in the dust clouds of our journeys,
dissolves into lightness,
and joins our wind-dancing.

Lift your arms. Open your hands.

Invite the world to walk you.

Ours are the needle eyes

all caravan camels

pass through.

Vanessa WrightVanessa Wright was that girl who read Cinderella ten times straight, hoping to discover how to turn mice into horses. She became an award-winning author, teacher and the creator of The Literary Horse: When Legends Come to Life exhibit and the Great Books for Horse Lovers blog. Today, she rides and writes from a New Hampshire meadow with her curiously mouse-grey horse, Pegasus.

 

Contact

It’s the 4th of July and I’ve spent too much
time in front of the television, absorbed
in a marathon about alien abductions.
That night, I decide to light roman candles
in an attempt to establish first-contact.
If I was the elected Earth’s diplomat,
I’d tell you we really mean no harm—
that, like they say in the movies,
we come in peace.
Friend, I’d say, ignore our shouting,
our sharp elbows, ankles, and knees.
Stop by and visit.
We are heartfelt and lonely.
So please, stranger, take our tiny hands.
Come look into our toy-box.
We want to show you our sparkly things.

Jeff HaynesJeff Haynes is an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech where he has served as poetry editor and, most recently, as managing editor of the minnesota review. His work has appeared in Word Riot, The Hollins Critic, and Mixed Fruit. He lives in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Wrong Number

Jolted from sleep, I lunge for the receiver.
Nancy! Nancy! Karen’s dead. What should I do?
What should I do? Tell him my name is Diana,
that he’s dialed the wrong number? I hang up
and now, some thirty years later, wonder:
Did I remember to say Sorry?

Today, when the phone rings late at night,
I think of this woman I never knew—but
end up remembering Anne instead, how she
dyed her hair blue—to match her eyes—
dated a bullfighter, danced barefoot
in the rain, dead at twenty-one—A suicide?
Perhaps. And how important it’s become to hoard
her memories. She mastered mirror writing,
cheated at solitaire, had a powerful handshake,
smelled like vanilla, wheezed when nervous,
and, when we crossed the street, always held my hand.

Diana AnhaltA former resident of Mexico City, Diana Anhalt moved to Atlanta, GA two years ago to be closer to her family. She is the author of A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1947-1965 (Archer Books), a chapbook, Shiny Objects, and essays, articles and book reviews in both English and Spanish. In September 2012 Future Cycle Press released her second chapbook, Second Skin and, most recently, her poems have appeared in Nimrod, Atlanta Review, Comstock Review and Passager.

Love Won’t Protect Us

To R., after Hurricane Sandy

The walls are so thin.

We can’t beat back the wind,
can’t keep
the water from entering.

Wasn’t I just
shuddering beneath you?

We both know:
nothing belongs
to anyone.

Jeanette_Geraci_photo-1

Jeaette Geraci is a yoga teacher, a belly dancer, and a serious dance club enthusiast. She earned her B.A. in Individualized Studies from Goddard College in 2011 and plans to attend Fordham University’s MSW program this fall. Her poetry and literary non-fiction have appeared in numerous online and print publications. You can take a look at some of her casual musings here.

Memoir

After a certain hour buildings don’t make sense.
Lights from across the street
resemble nothing, my footsteps
knocking on uneven stones, not bothered
by their own discordant melody. I would see
different people in different rooms,
hunched over desks or gazing out at traffic,
a phone nestled in the carapace
of an ear, mouths
shaping words that have no meaning
other than the small importances we give them.
To see my life before me
would be to know the end of fear. Walking home
on damp pockets of road, every lane
drenched in its indifferent perfume
of rain and dirt, I could be so smug
as to find comfort disconcerting,
catching glimpses of whole,
unharvested years
quietly burning in the shadows of a life
still running its race for relevance.
Somewhere in the middle
there is adventure, maybe even love,
and on nights when everyone leaves early
my body aches with an inertia
of past indulgences.
What now? Only a record of
undeserved kindnesses: a casual nod
from the cafeteria waiter, an overladen sky
keeping from release, new interns
grinning in a glass elevator,
things that wait for the night to end.

Jerrold YamBorn in 1991, Jerrold Yam is a law undergraduate at University College London and the author of two poetry collections by Math Paper Press, Scattered Vertebrae (2013) and Chasing Curtained Suns (2012). His poems have been published in more than 50 literary journals worldwide, including Antiphon, Counterexample Poetics, Mascara Literary Review, Prick of the Spindle, The New Poet, Third Coast and Washington Square Review. He is the winner of the National University of Singapore’s Creative Writing Competition 2011 and the youngest Singaporean to be nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  http://jerroldyam.wordpress.com/

The Rocks in Jane’s Purse

weigh her down. New York
collects under her fingernails as she adds more stones
during the eleven-block walk from work.

Jane reaches in when groaning cars lurk
beside her. With every Nice ass, baby
she sends chunks of the city skipping
across hoods and through windshields. Tires screech
and she takes off
running.

Jane arrives home late. Her purse
empty. Her shoulders still
heavy.

She takes off
her clothes and lets the showerhead spit angry wasps
on her blotched back. She stays
inside its range for hours, locking
the door, leaving the curtain open. Laminate flooring blisters,
swelling like her chest
when she coughs. Her tongue pushes pebbles
through the gaps of her teeth.

They tumble down her body,
leaving bruises
before falling to the rushing current below. Jane waits
until she is certain the drain is not clogged
and coughs again. Her shoulders sag
a little less.

Paige LewisPaige Lewis received her BA from the University of South Florida and has recently been accepted into the MFA program at Florida State University. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as Womenarts Quarterly, Northwind, Stone Highway Review and The Bakery. She can be contacted directly at

The Distance, Hailstorm

The Distance

On the subway platform, that man
with tissue stuck to his chin once lived

at the crux of another woman’s
dreams. She knew him in the bitter

back of her throat, femoral pulse,
pop of her ovaries. But now,

between them, clear cut
of forests, parking lots, hinterland

where generations live entire lives
and are buried. If only we

could meet where nobody else
touched us. For you, I cross

tracts of burnt-out buildings,
boiling seas, but call them

by their right names:
husks of your mother, my father,

affairs curdled by so many sins.
That man pumping gas, marked

by a scrub of black hair,
once lit his lover’s whole body

like morning. You ask whether
I believe people are basically good,

but I am the new pink skin
edging the cut: I say yes.

 

Hailstorm

Thrown down on Cornelia Street,
hail pelts awnings, bounces up
pant legs, the sky churning
and lidded with clouds.
The crowd rushes into
the subway mouth on West 4th.
Newspaper held over
our heads. Unread headlines
pummeled to sodden mush.
Ice melts to rivulets down
arms and legs, flows into gutters.
We are people in a panic,
laughing in the yellow lamplight
before it flickers out. We are
drowning, like our ancestors
before us, the children to come.
Scientists don’t know why the sky
backlights itself in hailstorms,
where that sea-green glow
so like the earth’s pulse
comes from. Wind blows
up and inside my jacket,
buffets me like the raindrop
of five minutes ago,
swinging up in the atmosphere
to freeze and refreeze.
It grows from pea to peanut,
walnut to hen egg, the grapefruit
we also use to measure tumors.
I have never been colder in my life.
That too will be forgotten.

Erin_Hoover_photo-1

Erin Hoover is a poet living in Tallahassee, Florida, and a Ph.D. student in Florida State University’s Creative Writing Program, where she is assistant editor of The Southeast Review and volunteers for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She grew up in Pennsylvania along America’s longest non-navigable river, the Susquehanna.