On D-Block & Sea and Salt

On D-Block

Behind the wired window       drinking grape juice
women swoon to the gospel  oxidized   like corked wine

On D-Block we write letters   Dear bud of forsythia
Dear love   Dear fetus   Salutations pour from us like wine

We watch each other cradle   our cloth and clothespin
dolls   nurse them with regret  our milk soured like wine

Call us pain-capable unborn children   zygotes
embryos   rosebuds the color of a sweet fat wine

From this white satin altar to the playpens in the kitchens
we thank the grandmas   cellared and aging like wine

We drink sugary milk from the cereal bowls
Sweet like we’re home    intoxicating like wine

We are Sarah cruel   with jealousy   barren & blessed
expectant & howling    bellies bloated with wine

 

Sea and Salt

LA in June          and we were together  the beach was hot and bright and fat with sun
he flirted with the slurping line of foam and sand     On the verge
In over my knees     wet linen skirt clinging     my shoulders burned
I turned around in time to see him  shaking sea water from his hand

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++At lunch licked salt   from my hand
and I drank the tequila drank the shot drank the shot drank the shot
I was hot    and wet      I was thirsty   I drank I kissed him  I grabbed him
from behind                  always behind

I followed him and followed him and followed  saw the sea
through polarized sunglasses    It was white  it was blueblack  it was bright
Another day   hiding my eyes

In the remembered world the sun is golden the water is golden
we are golden         Then sunset   then his lengthening shadow
++++++++++++++++++++++++then a moonless night.
Later my burned   red skin  like a promise          turned golden
I turned to gold   then turned over

The thin white edge of the year      later            winter
Cornered in a corner  boxed in with moving boxes  my legs crossed
and his bony hands   locked around my foot    We drank drank drank
I pretended not to see him          I was already gone  He invited himself

This image he had of us         it was blown-out    white    dated
he left and left   and left it    bathing in   the salt silver
It was blackened bitter   that   thing   he dropped at my feet

I left when he told me to       I didn’t look back        didn’t look back didn’t look
Still he turned  bitter   he blackened   still he turned to salt

Sarah BoyleSarah B. Boyle is a poet, mother, and high school teacher. She is the author of the chapbook What’s pink & shiny/what’s dark & hard (Porkbelly Press). Her poems and essays have appeared in VIDA, Menacing Hedge, Entropy, and elsewhere. Following the rapes and assaults that ripped through multiple literary communities this past year, she edited a series of essays for Delirious Hem on rape culture and the poetics of alt lit. Find her online at impolitelines.com.

What Belongs

The cardinals built their nest in the cow’s skull
tucked into       brain cavity

today is the day of fledglings testing
pinion strength

of warmth creeping through roots
steam whisping above not-so-gold-carp pond

++++++++++++++++++++babies venture out
through eye sockets

arboreal dreams
++++++inherited desire

gives them lift but maybe they have no thought
to question from where?

Enormous fig tree, palace of leaves
huddled under greenish purple swells of fruit

++++++leaking white sap and honey
itch and pleasure

fly, pull yourselves up
judder of cow jaw

carry a piece of your foremotherfathers
bloodcolored

belonging to sky.

Corinne AdamsCorinne Elysse Adams is a story collector, writer, songstress, and teacher. She earned her undergraduate degree at Sophia University in Tokyo, and received a Master’s in poetry from the University of Edinburgh. She has lived and travelled all over the world, collecting stories and studying folk writing and musical traditions in India, Ladakh, Japan, Ireland, Scotland, and all around the United States. She currently runs the humanities department at Skybridge Academy, an alternative education school in Austin, Texas. She also performs and arranges music with the Austin based quartet Oto Maru, and Americana/folk trio Full Moon Medicine. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Grey Sparrow, Ilanot Review, and exhibited in collaboration with photography in the 2015 Goa International Photography Festival.

 

Ode on Datura

Drink this tea, he said, and you will fly naked
into starlight. I drank, felt tired, and sat on the couch
and ate potato chips. Drink this tea and you will not know
yourself. We drove along the freeway by your old school,
without direction or speed as light raptured down
through barred clouds scudding across sallow fields
where coyotes loped. Drink this tea and you can speak
to your dead lover in a stone wall and no tears will come.
You will hear angel trumpets and taste thorn apple,
henbane, mandrake, deadly nightshade…
Sleep was no longer sleep. I slept, a dull
flat space, and woke in fits for three days,
wondering where I’d find myself again. Myself,
bare flesh, reddening flesh, breath quick. The body
is where love ends and fear begins. Drink this tea
and you will feel the root of each emotion
in your limbs, your thumping, squeezebox chest,
sweat clings to your forehead, saturates the sheets,
your dreams are all fire and tongues
that surround God as he explodes into stars
in an expanding universe of chaos. I woke.
I stepped onto a balcony overlooking the sea,
the small beach town where I grew up.
The lighthouse flashes from a rocky point
and the scrolling waves pound sand.

Christopher DollardChristopher Dollard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Cossack Review, The Freshwater Review, The Little Patuxent Review, The Rappahannock Review, Redactions, Tirage Monthly, Watershed Review, and others. He lives in Providence, RI, where he works as a waiter to support his writing habit. Find him online at www.christopherdollard.com.

The House on Tator Hill

All night the wind strummed the shingles,
while I slept with my jaw like a fist.
She wanted sex first thing in the morning
to the rhythm of the percolator’s clicks.

Her aunt had a real Chagall hanging over the piano.
She stocked the freezer with Grey Goose, then traveled for months.
We claimed the guest room, the basement, the patio.
We warmed the Veuve on our tongues.

I watched it snow through the window in the spare room
that winter––little nobody’s window, hardly-used, hardly-seen––
and felt the ecstatic twinge of a poem.
Then April lent March a mouthful of green:

two chocolate meringues and those daffodils, double-busted;
all the times I tripped across the overlapping rugs.
She melted butter in pans while the garden trellis rusted.
Every now and again, my knees bled in the tub.

The pond smelled sour even after we smoked pot
and a doe pranced down and sipped from its edge.
I didn’t belong in that house, or in any of its portraits,
but we tried to make a home of its four-poster bed.

Cassie PruynCassie Pruyn is a New Orleans-based poet born and raised in Portland, Maine. She earned her MFA through the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her poems and reviews can be found in AGNI Online, ENTROPY, and The Double Dealer, with work forthcoming from The Normal School, 32 Poems, and Blue Lyra Review. She was a finalist in the 2013 and 2014 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and a finalist in the 2013 Indiana Review 1/2K Prize.

What can I tell you (an Ars Poetica)

What can I tell you?

I confess
from you I learned
sweat is poison as well as nectar,

& there is no good word
for how I linger as you exhale.

I confess
I am a cracked mirror,
& you are a stone, a bird,
starlight tickling the fractures.

From you I learned jilting
doesn’t require stepping away.

I confess
I drink your furious glow
like the color black,
like a poet

whose mouth is a bucket,
whose head is an ocean of roses.

Roberto GarciaRoberto Carlos Garcia’s published works include the chapbook amores gitano (gypsy loves) (Červená Barva Press, 2013), his poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in The Acentos Review, Lunch Ticket, Bold As Love Magazine, Entropy, PLUCK!: The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, The Rumpus, 5 AM Magazine, Wilderness House, Connotation PressAn Online Artifact, Poets/Artists, Levure Litteraire, and others. His translation of Pablo Neruda’s Heights of Macchu Picchu & Other Poems is forthcoming from Červená Barva Press in 2016. A native New Yorker, Roberto holds an MFA in Poetry and Poetry Translation from Drew University and is Instructor of English at Union County College.

The Egypt of Mary’s Womb

A small town.  A back door.
A young woman at her work
chopping, searing, holding.
A flash, not so much of light, as
the chorus of sight that light trails
as it passes by.  A strange
word, an aspiration,
a slight bow of the head,
a warm wrapping of wings.
There will be lions, later.
There will be swords.
But tonight, your flesh
is reed and pitch,
bitumen and straw,
floating on the great river,
eyes open, naming,
one by one, all the stars
of the vast, quaking world.

*Title from a poem by Robert Bly

 

Patrick HanselPatrick Cabello Hansel has had poems, short stories, and essays published in over 30 anthologies and journals, including Painted Bride Quarterly, Ilanot Review, subprimal, and Hawai’i Pacific Review.  He was a 2008-2009 Loft Literary Center (MN) mentee and a 2011 grantee of the MN State Art Board. His novella Searching was serialized in 33 issues of The Alley News. He is the editor of The Phoenix of Phillips, a new literary magazine for and by people of Phillips, the most diverse neighborhood in Minneapolis.

Centerpiece

Days were short and buckled,
the dinner to prepare, our table
to set, cream and tan plumage to fan

in a gold-rimmed goblet, hint
of flight.  Together we hunted
wild turkey feathers, tracked

hay fields where flocks lumbered
in summer, walked a trail over
to the next road, followed it past

the last house as gravel gave in
to double mud ruts strung
under high tension towers stacked

on a hill of scrub oak and granite
where we found a feather more
than once and understood always.

Grace MatternGrace Mattern’s poems and prose have appeared in The Sun, Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, Calyx, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the NH State Arts Council and Vermont Studio Center and has published two books of poetry. She has worked in the movement to end violence against women for 35 years. She blogs at www.gracemattern.com

When You Ask Me to Describe the Grief

 (after Clementine von Radics)

I open my mouth
& nothing comes out—I think,
chest caving in, robber
of breath, thunderbolted knees
hitting the bathroom floor
but it felt more like
tumbling down a staircase
into the basement of a heart
that no longer relays rhythm,
my shoveled out stomach—
a hearse, a grave, a place
for it to rain memory,
to flood, to send your body out
to river, to ocean,
to sky.

Amanda OaksAmanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing. Her works have appeared in numerous online & print publications, including Stirring, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Glamour, Elle, Parenting, & Artful Blogging. She is the author of two poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014) & her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014). She likes poems that bloody her mouth just to kiss it clean. Connect with her @ http://amandaoaks.com

Post-Reunion

I drive my mother home because the train
is late, because her hands shake, because

my brother doing push-ups after he lost
a bet had all of us fearing the explosion

in his chest and what are family reunions for?
Food.  Too much wine.  A kickball in the gut.

When I pulled the folding chair from its bag,
unused for a year, a nest of mice tumbled out

all stolen cotton fluff, shredded paper, trembling
like a dropped heart in the grass.  The mother,

a baby still attached to her milk, ran for it,
watched the rest of the day from a tree’s branches

her babies scattered and blind.  We discussed cruelty
and survival, circled our chairs like stagecoaches.

Isn’t each family a new frontier, in its way?
Spreading out into unknown places, each child

a satellite shot into the dark above.  My mother
wants me to spend the  night—such a long drive

to get her safely home—but the car is already
pointing away, has a full tank, I even bought

a coffee in the biggest size they sold just
so I could kiss her on the cheek and say no.

Suzanne ParkerSuzanne Parker is a winner of the Kinereth Gensler Book Award for her poetry collection, Viral (from Alice James Books, 2013), which was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and is on the National Library Association’s Over the Rainbow List of recommended books. Her work has recently appeared in Barrow Street, Cimarron Review, Drunken Boat, Hunger Mountain, and BODY. Suzanne is the managing editor at MEAD: A Magazine of Literature and Libations and directs the creative writing program at Brookdale Community College in NJ.

Baltimore is Burning

and my students don’t know
a thing about it

Ronnie StephensRonnie K. Stephens is a full-time English teacher and the father of identical twins. His first full-length collection, Universe in the Key of Matryoshka, was published by Timber Mouse Publishing in 2014.

Noctiputations

Three a.m., and night is an oil spill
seeped down to the benthic zone.

The way a man-of-war is simultaneously
individual and colony,
I am wide-awake and exhausted.

My head, sunken into the pillow, fills
with ideas, insights, plans, and epiphanies

like the gold coins and suits of armor
stuffed inside a seafloored shipwreck.

I load my arms and make for the surface
where the submerged treasures
will atomize in the barbarous sunlight,

and the waking world, as always,
will plunder me of my private riches.

Doc SudsDoc Suds is a proud Wisconsin native currently residing in North Miami. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Atlanta Review, New Delta Review, Paper Darts, Silk Road Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. Find more at www.docsuds.net.

Tracing Wrist Scars

I used to keep exquisite potted plants.
Now, just pots of dirt.
My friend Meghann keeps pots of dirt.
One with a ceramic hand creeping out,
another, a foot. Funny, the things we covet.
I only learned to begin wanting again recently.
I don’t know where to place my wants.
How to justify them, or actually obtain.
It isn’t fair to want things
after trying to give everything away.
The wine isn’t fair, the overpriced penne.
Paycheck, new bootlaces, a night out for music
or poetry or beer. This guilt.
Wanting a day of sun. Or even rain.
Things that racket and wail, things that shimmy
or sit quietly on a windowsill.
Shameful, I think, to covet a tattoo
or philosophical conversation.
A book, a trinket. A new poem. A pulse.

Jeanann VerleeJeanann Verlee is author of Racing Hummingbirds, recipient of the Independent Publisher Book Award Silver Medal in poetry, and the forthcoming collection, Said the Manic to the Muse. She has been awarded the Third Coast Poetry Prize and the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and failbetter, among others. Verlee wears polka dots and kisses Rottweilers. She believes in you.

Denouement

Prayer flags heave like healthy lungs beneath a five colored sheet.
Wind is implied. Or breath. Healing. But definitely movement.

All the weightless things around us convulse into terrible
ghosted forms, then return to their tenacious dangling.

The world ages at the rate we expect it to.
We are not so fortunate

as cricket legs at dawn. Here is the dawn:
caked translucent light, war painted heavens

steadily retreating, bewildered impulse
to enter the house and leave the house

without opening a door. Here is the door;
it’s grown smaller than a child’s body

and fits our burning. It fits her body.
I shine a flashlight up

to where hours ago we misidentified the North Star.
Temporary light. False light. We’ve lost as much

in going as in her being
gone. Go, I whisper, though she doesn’t

seem to hear much anymore as the body hum
slows into earth. Breath weakens its search

for more of the same. On the porch between us stars
are implied. Or roots. Her shoes with just enough wind left

++++++++++++inside them.

John Sibley WilliamsJohn Sibley Williams is the author of eight collections, most recently Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press, 2013). Four-time Pushcart nominee, he is the winner of the HEART Poetry Award and has been a finalist for the Rumi, Best of the Net, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and Board Member of the Friends of William Stafford. Publishing credits include American Literary Review, Third Coast, Nimrod International Journal, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.