Porches

My wife asks me to leave
the porch light on before bed.
I ask if we are expecting
guests; she says it’s to keep
them away. There was a time
a flame in a window was
a welcome mat, a compass
in the dark. Tradition has
a way of unraveling the longer
it lasts. Think candles
to repel the moth; I wonder
how we learned to fear the light
more than its absence. When
I grab the banister and step
without flipping the switch on,
my memory is a stairwell, groaning
under shadow cast by porches—
neighbors inviting me to stay.

Geoff AndersonGeoff Anderson crosses the tracks, the bridge, the floodwall, and the overpass in Columbus, OH. His work is forthcoming or appears in Wherewithal, Outlook Springs, and Up the Staircase, among others.

Aubade in Los Angeles

Aubade in Los Angeles
               After Laura Kasischke

August 1981, and someone’s killing

couples from Santa Barbara
to Sacramento. A woman called Linda

sits with her boyfriend

beneath the buzz of a motel sign
drinking coffee in the yawning summer.

This is the year they drove the Pacific coast
through towns where men lay hobbled,
crockery balanced on their spines

listening to the treble clef of terror
in their wives’ throat
waiting for the sun to rise
like a final breath.

There’s a degree of separation
between everything we see here.
All I know

is what my father told me. How
he should have married Linda, how
he isn’t sure

why things fell apart,
the membrane of a college romance

worn away until it tore

revealing cigarettes, more souvenirs
than memories, and an emptiness
a little like walking the streets at night.

Megan ArlettM.J. Arlett is an MFA candidate at Florida International University, where she is the nonfiction editor for Gulf Stream Magazine. She was born in the U.K., spent several years in Spain, and now lives in Miami. Her work can be found in The Boiler Journal, Gravel, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

Durling Avenue

Summer in its simplest colors
comes over Durling Avenue.

The sweetest invitations come
understated, the girl in the yard

barely lifts her eyebrows, the boy
shrugs his shoulders as if to say

I’ve been waiting, I can wait.
All we’re asked to do is recognize

the beckoning—the grass
splashed brown that will be cut

by dusk, the woman who’s placed
sun tea on her porch. She wears

the dress her mother wore,
lets it fall about her hips and pauses

because it’s Saturday, nothing
pressing in the news, the radio

turned to Frankie Avalon
and laughter, those days, that

handful of Pontiacs moving slowly,
making no dust. There are streets

in America that defend themselves
against time, streets of blackberry

and elm and clusters of boys
lining up to play stickball. I stop

the car and listen to their rules:
the phone pole’s foul, the hedge

behind the Murray house always
an inside-the-park home run.

If rain comes, the great, mournful
interruptor, we take lunch

to the pavilion at Memorial Park
and wait. Maybe Susie St. Claire

in her dress will bring sun tea;
maybe we can save the freckles

on her shoulders for later,
for bed, when all is cricket-sound,

the Erie train, our fathers holding
our church shoes under lamplight.

I was of and not of them,
inside their clothes and distant,

driving toward Broad Street
where the new light flickered red

(it was 1962, it was today)
at the Lutheran church, where I

married the day summer ended.
All the trees were yellow and I

in my gray suit lingered, laughed,
in time and far beyond it.

Carl Boon

A native of Ohio, Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Burnt Pine, Two Peach, Ink In Thirds, and Poetry Quarterly. He is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

 

Alternate Ending with Beach House

This is what I wanted:
++++++++++++++++mug full of coffee each morning
++++++++++++++++and a walk to the ocean. Wind blowing sand
++++++++++++++++into the curtain hems
of your parents’ beach house where we wouldn’t pay rent
and you’d reprise your role as the good son who spent
the six months before I met you there, sober,
fixing the cherry red Cabriolet.
++++++++++++++++Garage full of oil spots.
Your face growing wrinkles from deep concentration,
stub of a Camel dangling ash from the crook
of your mouth. I wanted the floral apron, the chubby baby
on my hip, and the cold leftovers I’d eat alone in the kitchen.
++++++++++++++++I knew you’d never quit drinking,
++++++++++++++++so I worked it into the ending,
++++++++++++++++amber glow of lamplight
through Maker’s in the wood-panelled den.
++++++++++++++++But in my version, you’d drink moderately,
or at least from glasses, and we’d listen to the baby monitor
and make slow love, which I knew even then
++++++++++++++++would really be more like absent-minded fucking.
But that’s as far as I can picture of the alternate ending
because in this world, when you begged me to marry you
from the passenger seat of my Buick, I knew you were drunk,
++++++++++++++++and the pregnancy test
++++++++++++++++came back with only one line on it,
++++++++++++++++and I never even saw the beach house,
only drove the long flat road
++++++++++++++++toward it a half dozen times.

rebecca bornsteinRebecca Bornstein’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Slice, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Word Riot, Hobart, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from North Carolina State University and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. http://www.rebeccabornstein.com

The Only Star

Rolled up in my sheets,
marinating in nervous sweat,
+++++brain a flipbook:
speed-painted images, words, phrases
like ticker tape rolling on & on.

I watch the crescent moon
steadily sheathe its blade edge
in a neighbor’s chimney.
+++++Alarm clock says “4 AM.”
+++++Hypothalamus says “Fuck this.”

If I got out of bed now,
I’d be like a half-forged moth
hulled too soon from its cocoon—
stunted, wingless, crawling, soft
+++++meat for the world to devour.

++++++++++Now

dawn takes wing
+++++from its silver nest
+++++behind the eastern slash pines,
+++++plumed in slivers of
+++++misted pink glass.

+++++I do my best to hate
the sudden splendor
of this,
the only star of trillions

+++++that keeps me alive.

Jonathan DuckworthJonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University and a reader for the Gulf Stream Magazine. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, PANK Magazine, Thrice Fiction, Cha, Superstition Review, and elsewhere.

Elegy for Sylvia

Stripped down to nothing
in the dirty river, my skin sheaved

like silk from corn. The things I did not say
grew malignant in my body. A cancer

of words & the sickness that spreads
from the inside out. By thirteen,

I tasted like war,
skin of wrought-iron

& chrysanthemum seeds. The snowstorm girl
who does not sing, a wind-petal body

she forgets & remembers. What light
do you keep inside your bones?
Break them in half.

See what pours out.

Kathryn Merwin is a native of Washington, DC. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Booth, Notre Dame Review, So to Speak, and Sugar House Review, among others. In 2015, she was awarded the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize for Poetry and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She will begin pursuing her MFA in the Fall of 2016.

Black Sun, 1935

Levee workers,
Plaquemines parish, Louisiana

Fourteen Negroes wheel barrows
along narrow planks laid over mud.
They build a levee to prevent
flooding of land they’ll never own.
Fearing bites of cottonmouths,
copperheads, and diamondbacks,
they sweat in humid bayou heat.

Arrayed along a nearby ridge,
four white overseers look on
in the shadow of a black sun:
an overexposed disc in an archival print
from a negative mutilated by a hole punch.
Without being told, you and I can guess
we weren’t supposed to see this.

David OlsenDavid Olsen’s Unfolding Origami (80pp, 2015) won the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award. Poetry chapbooks from U.S. publishers include Sailing to Atlantis (2013), New World Elegies (2011), and Greatest Hits (2001). His work appears widely in leading journals and anthologies in North America and Europe. A poet and professionally produced playwright with a BA in chemistry from University of California-Berkeley and an MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University, David was formerly an energy economist, management consultant, and performing arts critic. He has lived in Oxford, England, since 2002.

Glassfoot

glassfoot

++++++++++three a.m. thirsty and crawling
++++++++++chemo-induced miracle to be endured because
++++++++++(infusion clinic joke) the alternative is

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++glassfoot

++++++++++worse than fire ants worse than shoes full of shards
++++++++++fingernails falling off pulling away one by two afraid
++++++++++what’s in the beds they leave

glassfoot

++++++++++behind sitting on skeleton sharp without my cushion
++++++++++once I wished for skinny
++++++++++now I just wonder will we soon be seeing

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++glassfoot

++++++++++bones right there under the skin
++++++++++muscles like tissue wiping tears
++++++++++weeping just once when nurse asks
++++++++++you didn’t think it would look like a man’s

glassfoot

++++++++++chest bound like iron held together
++++++++++by what’s found in dahlias and peaches and clean sheets
++++++++++after all, when Cinderella had glassfoot
++++++++++she danced

 
Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia (PPE) is a side effect of some types of chemotherapy. PPE occurs when the drug leaks out of capillaries in the hands and feet, causing damage to the surrounding tissues. Symptoms range from redness and swelling to difficulty walking.

Kathryn PaulKathryn Paul has lived in Seattle longer than she has lived anywhere else. She is a survivor of many things, including cancer and downsizing. Carving out time for poetry is the most important thing she does. Her poems have appeared or will appear in Stirring: A Literary Collection, The Fem, Words Dance, and Lunch Ticket’s “Amuse-Bouche” feature.

Instructions for Daughters

Pack sackcloth and ashes in your carry-on.
Bring pens, your toothbrush, a good skirt,
and a magazine you will not read.

At the terminal, do not flinch
at his diminishment.
You are not strong enough
to support the weight of his

grief. You will support it.

Accept tasks before coffee,
urgencies colliding, lists so long
the sun will set
before you have turned the page.

Celebrate the crossing out of items.
Fold laundry. Make soup. Remember.
Say thank you. Do not

be surprised by the number
of times you speak of her
in the present tense. Their home,
their tickets, their checkbook.

Plural fades slowly. Practice.

Distant relatives arrive, circle,
contain his flood of words. Accept
this grace while you continue to sort
and pack her possessions.

Make executive decisions. Regret
them. Cabinets and bookcases will become
the stuff of nightmares. He will bolt
from sleep: searching, inarticulate.
Do not enter his frenzy. Join

the hunt. Preserve her spiral notebooks
filled with travel notes: sixty countries,
five continents, two sentences
a day in her tiny, perfect penmanship.
Tuck them away, destinations to which
he may someday return.

Pray not to make a mistake.
You will make mistakes.

Choose to believe that he is not crying
alone in the dark. Be prepared
to catch him bent double and wailing
when the lost opal pendant slips
suddenly into his hand from a tissue-filled
ziplock he found in the drawer you swear
you checked yesterday:
this one treasure he could not find.

(You cannot be prepared.)

Do not be shocked at his hurry to empty
her side of the closet. It is her faint
cologne that crushes him as he goes
to find his socks in the morning.

Do not break his heart.
Check all the pockets.

Kathryn PaulKathryn Paul has lived in Seattle longer than she has lived anywhere else. She is a survivor of many things, including cancer and downsizing. Carving out time for poetry is the most important thing she does. Her poems have appeared or will appear in Stirring: A Literary Collection, The Fem, Words Dance, and Lunch Ticket’s “Amuse-Bouche” feature.

The Chicken with a Broken Beak

I want to be the chicken in the front seat of that Cadillac
driving down Route 11. The chicken that reaches
for the steering wheel when there’s another chicken
in the road. The chicken that changes a flat tire
and the chicken that doesn’t get beat up for loving
other chickens. I want to be the red feathered chicken
with white feathered chicks. The chicken with big breasts
that doesn’t wear a bra. The chicken that can actually fly;
I’d soar over Pennsylvania, over cornfields,
and over the prison. I’d free caged chickens
and dig graves for dead chickens.
I’d tie a dollar to a string and catch the guards
who guard jailed chickens. I’d wear my human costume,
patrol the highways, and pull over chicken trucks.
Maybe I want to be a chicken because a chicken’s
life is short; a chicken’s panic is usually caged.
Maybe I am chicken when I don’t hold my wife’s hand
at the movies or on a walk through town. I’m chicken
when I pull my arm off her shoulder after someone
whispers, ew, homos. Chicken feathers have taken over
my face and skin and courage. I’m the chicken
craning my neck through bars and the chicken
with a broken beak.

Nicole SantaluciaNicole Santalucia is the author of Because I Did Not Die (Bordighera Press). She is a recipient of the Ruby Irene Poetry Chapbook Prize from Arcadia Magazine and the Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize from the Tishman Review. Santalucia received her MFA from The New School University and her PhD in English from Binghamton University. She founded The Binghamton Poetry Project, a literary outreach program that reaches underserved audiences, and she has directed the program for four years. She currently teaches at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and brings poetry workshops into the Cumberland County Prison.

Fat Tuesday in Samsara

Women gathered round the float
like the waters of the night—
nurses, pirates,
schoolgirls in plaid—and they lifted
shirts to necks and their breasts bobbed
up and down.

Beads of prayer fell upon
them and hit their heads and throats
and hearts.

The women dropped to their knees
to collect them—holy objects
on sullied ground—
but boots stomped upon their bony
hands and bodies pushed them left and right.
But they persisted and they
grasped—tarantula
fingers on concrete ground—
and they rose to stand,
lightheaded,

and pressed beads to forehead, beads
to mouth.

And up above the cold moon
hung. The float,
in its salvation,
passed—
drifting cheers of yellow-red, drifting flashes
of golden light—and the turning
waters turned the endless
flotsam: death
and delight.

Lana Spendl

Lana Spendl’s chapbook of flash fiction, We Cradled Each Other In the Air, is forthcoming from Blue Lyra Press in February 2017. Her work has appeared in The Cortland Review, Hobart, The Greensboro Review, Quarter After Eight, storySouth, Fiction Southeast, Monkeybicycle, Prick of the Spindle, Gargoyle, and other magazines.

 

Logic

The child sits by an open window,
watches rain bounce off red clay
while Rufous-sided towhees wait out the storm,
grip tangled limbs of azaleas.

She hears wind
tear through leaves,
smells rain
as it pounds the earth.

++++++++++Slowly,
she picks up scissors,
cuts off each finger
from her only doll.

The child talks to the doll,
tells her she is safe,
that without her fingers,
he will not tell her to touch him.

Linda WimberlyLinda Wimberly is a writer, artist, and musician from Marietta, GA. She has a degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities from the University of Alabama and performed as a vocalist and guitarist for over thirty years. Her poetry has appeared in Stone River Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems, Kalliope, and others, and a short story appeared in Cricket. Her vocal and choral compositions have been used in and published for schools, churches, and grief counseling centers. Linda is a self-taught abstract contemporary artist who works in acrylic, oil, and mixed media.