Gabriella Garofalo – 3 poems 

*******

Yes, they raped her, so what?
My soul is a shattered galaxy, down there
Comets pop in then flee off
Non-stop, in one go, some rattled captives –
When she gets laid bare at gunpoint
Meadows she dons where blue flowers
Gaze at pink shoots in awe and astonishment,
Of course they get mown, don’t they,
So she makes do wearing skies, which is nice,
At least heavenly bodies don’t move, they look fast –
Who’s the lady in the snapshot, now,
Yes, the one all high cheekbones and heavy eyelids,
Were it not for the lipstick, she might well be
The end who’s getting some rest after tearing apart
Green hope, green jotters, her unpleasant chore,
Anyway, crimson and green don’t match well, do they,
I’d better reply thanks, but no thanks, or shield behind
My friends who pass, scatter and disperse:
Poems or clouds? I dunno, oh and please don’t forget:
Light has no grammar if a bare-legged suburban Artemis
Goes strolling awhile.
                                                                                              
🍃
*******

They hissed she was still,
They hissed the North Star couldn’t sail the seas,
So God stepped in, tried to breath light,
But failed, sighed, then sighed again
As ravens fed up with black
Asked him to turn their feathers white –
Coffee time now, she’s dressed in black:
Insomnia is not a fashionista,
She keeps frowning at fads
When leaning on whiteness
All dressed in black–
See, the prayers she mutters
Do they look white or don’t they?
White, black, white, c’mon, who cares,
As long as she hurls at me prayers and crystals,
Those tears old fairies abduct,
So I’ll be longing for sleep
While thinking of chess, draughts,
Car parks and op art –
While feeling like a border town,
A crossroads perhaps
Where so many guys meet,
Chit-chat then die, and yes,
All doors bolted, dust gleaming
In the buttresses of dim light:
I was at home in the heart of the night,
A bunch of philosophical ‘neverminds’
Weren’t of much help, I’m afraid –
Nor are the spoils of mothers
So busy in a mist of ripped up entrails.
                                                                                      
🍃
*******


What if a lover by chance
Wakes up in the dead of night
And reaches for a dead lover?
No kidding, evil loves colours,
He’s always asking for stronger shades:
The blue of bruises, the magenta of blood
Against the backdrop of cozy rooms
Where long-haired minstrels are playing
Transverse flutes and Celtic harps –
Only, Sundays can’t move, can’t dance,
Ever the wallflowers at the party they freeze,
But hey ho the music works wonders
At covering the screams
From the rebel son arguing with father –
On a hill? His hands nailed above his head?
Meanwhile, in a close-by studio,
Winter is doing some research on why women
Write about trench warfare and penny ante life,
Here are his outlandish conclusions:
Not anyone’s fault, that damned fool the sky
Limped, stumbled, looked askance at the colours –
And what did he choose?
Not underground graves,
A green shade of prey and desire,
No, he chose bread mould devours
A powder blue shade of course:
No wonder you don’t see them back –
Well, prophets most of the time.

🍃
Gabriella Garofalo

Michael Brownstein – 5 poems

LEMON GRASS SOUP

They told us the quality of sanitation depended on the size of the chairs.

I will no longer need to carry a gun.

They told us bottled water was safer than boiled water and not every facility had the capacity to boil that much water.

I will no longer need to murder a man, cause his heart to break and take his ear for my collection.

When they sat us in the room where the Communist Party ate, the waitress apologized when she seated us at our table.

I watched the blood coagulate into the dirt, hot and thickening.

They told us the lizards on the beams did not impact on the flavor of the food.

The murdered man did not have to be buried. By nightfall much of him was gone and by morning the bone collectors began their work.

We did not sicken and we ate chom choms and sour sop and watermelon the size of a fist.

🍃

OFF BALANCED

 

We drove a line through our bodies,

let the winter rain bisect our bones,

the summer swamplands fill our skin:

This is our inheritance.

Summer fell in February again,

June flowers gaining strength with March,

and we woke to birdsong and crickets:

This, too, we inherited.

The mosquito crop swarmed from the brown grass

ticks found homes by the beginning of April,

dengue, zika, blood blemishes, horse flies:

What we inherit is what we are given.

🍃

AN HOUR AGO NOTHING MUCH HAPPENED

What is it
–today–
–a week ago–
sleeping in the dragonfield mines?
:the breath of passion flower overhead
the jaws of the dandelion
the strength of blood tulips craning their stems through the shadow growth

how many times
–last night–
–the first week in May–
slipping through the fired lisps of dragon teeth?
:a wealth in persimmon juice
a poverty of lilies of the mountain west of
Maine
the drawback of the morning glory

And now

–no rhyme left–

–yesterday–
a wild moon over the timber wolf trees,

the injury of silt within their branches,

plastic sawdust forced into block and stone:

Here is the arithmetic for everything mammal,

ancient trees carve out mud and brick,

one boulder leans against pebbles for support.

🍃

A LITTLE BIT OF A LOT OF BRAVADO

1.

What makes a foot stumble into a stroke

of leaf and digestion, a currency of blood

pleasure? Nothing counts more

than the hot house of bunions, the mix matched

alliance of mismatched bone alignments.

2.

The Jaypore witch drops a ball of thread

gently to the sleeping man on his bed pallet,

places the other end into her mouth

and sucks his blood. This was an enemy’s

enemy, a child of plums and no matter.

🍃

SLEEP AND INSOMNIA

The composting of sunset

Blue veined sky and white haired dust

The all night conversers on the adjacent porch

Brilliant teal textured lights of Shrunken Head

The traffic of bright lights on Ash Street

Do you remember the time

You woke from an afternoon nap

And immediately worried that you slept

Through an entire day, did not call your job,

Or anything? Thankfully there is time and date.

Now you wake to a darkness that feels like dawn,

But the stars are not out, the moon is blocked,

A breeze brings in moisture.

Night has just begun and you worry

It’s already daytime. Go back to sleep.

Leave the worry to those without dreams.

🍃

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Joan Leotta – 1 poem

A Single Bloom

 

Petal fingers brush

mine lightly

as my hand travels

down to snap

bloom from stem.

Mother bluebird

living just above

this volunteer

rose of sharon

circles my head,

chides me

chirping, chirping

this bloom is her

guardian, shielding

her nest from

view. I surrender

to her claim.

 

🍃

 

Joan Leotta is an Author and Story Performer of “Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”, Giulia Goes to War, Letters from Korea, A Bowl of Rice, Secrets of the Heart and Historical Fiction in Legacy of Honor Series Simply a Smile--collection of Short Stories  WHOOSH! Picture book from THEAQ. You can download a mini-chapbook of her poems free at http://www.origamipoems.com/files/Books%20/2016/Joan_Leotta_-_Dancing_Under_The_Moon_2016.pdf Find out more about her work at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973

Laurinda Lind- 3 poems

Firewomen

 

She put on armor

you said of a fat aunt

who hated her husband

 

& I think of all the big wives

slowly accumulating

resenting in secret

 

not at all in love

with themselves

so let’s crack them

 

from their casings

let them burn &

burn wild on their fuel

 

let their awful

husbands fear them

let them lift

 

their heavy hearts

flare by flare

to freedom.

 

🍃

 

Missionary’s Position, 1989

 

The end began in 1914,

the door-to-door missionary advises.

Look at the evidence.

Wars. Earthquakes. Sassy kids.

She shows me a picture of disco-dancing

so I fill her in about the lambada.

They’ll probably change the picture in the book.

 

(The Book is a different matter:

in some spots not even

particularly good. But

that’s another poem.)

 

It would probably be okay

between a husband and his wife,

she ponders. See, we’re not against dancing

so long as it’s modest.

 

I get up and fetch the baby

who is stirring in the next room.

What a sweet baby, she says.

The product of dancing, I warn.

 

🍃

 

   Angry

 

It’s all right

to shake out

the fireiron

of your anger

once in

a while

so don’t

be shy

brandish

the bastard

around

it’s stronger

and stricter

than you

can see

& sometimes

it’s scary

enough

to sear you

into sense

 

🍃

Laurinda Lind feels a little chilly in New York’s North Country in the U.S. She and poetry split up in 1997, but are on again. Some previous publications/ acceptances include Antithesis Journal, Communion, Comstock Review, Deep Water Literary Journal, Earthen Lamp Journal, Far Off Places, Liminality, Mobius, Off the Coast, Paterson Literary Review, Ship of Fools, Sonic Boom, and Timeless Tales.

 

Bänoo Zan – 1 poem

The Dance

 

You tell me

you don’t want to dance—

 

dance with others

when I’m out—

 

You don’t ask me

to dance—

 

Kisses

come from me

 

Caresses

come from me

 

Turning away

is yours—

 

I catch your gaze

dancing on

breasts and bodies

out there

 

while your mouth

dances words

with my ear—

 

This dance

turns

my stomach.

🍃

Bänoo Zan is a poet, translator, teacher, editor and poetry curator, with more than 120 published poems, etc., as well as two books. Song of Phoenix: Life and Works of Sylvia Plath, was reprinted in Iran in 2008.  Songs of Exile, a collection of her poems, was released in 2016.  A second collection, Letters to My Father, was released in January 2017 by Piquant Press in Canada. She is the founder of Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night), the most diverse poetry reading and open mic series in Toronto. It bridges the gap between poetry communities, bringing together artists from different ethnicities, nationalities, religions (or lack thereof), ages, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, poetic styles, voices and visions.

Twitter: @BanooZan

Gareth Culshaw – 5 poems

AN ILLUSION AMONGST

the hawthorn hedges, kerb sides
of the fields. trees full of life

now black with damp and rain

I watch him melt into the view
as the woods migrate from the trees,

leaves let go, their colours on the floor

this is his time, perching on the horizon
keeping away the light as prey run, fly

away. his feathers are just scraping the sky

when he takes flight, not wanting to wave
back the sun. he waits on the hawthorn

in his long brown cape, not really alive

until he flies.

🍃

 

THE MAN UP THE HILL

She brought him up at the top
of a hill, allowing him to see the

world below.

She took him down in her car
as they saw the doors of people

pass them by.

But today he is still up there
his hands in her pockets,

doing the things she cannot do anymore.

He is jailed, believing coming to work
makes him free, but her tongue

settles in his mouth.

His time is governed by her hand
passing numbers he does not know

does not tick tock.

🍃

 

THE HOME ON THE CORNER

Spoken words now in the carpets
crumbling to pieces like skin dust.

Windows agape, dead mouthed.

Paint flicking off in winds, tiles
slipping in rain. Doors aching to be

opened, locked, left ajar.

All footsteps gone, lost in the sun
dial of life. Swiped away when

the shadows left.

The building now waits to be buried,
name forgotten as the gravestones

of the people who had once slipped there.

🍃

 

AGEING TREE

you can tell they
are getting older
more leaves than

ever have fallen

the year lost
another ring added
more creaks to the joints

splitting in the bark

the garden is covered
in loss, leaves left
to the wind, to be blown

away, another forgotten year

🍃

 

VACANT TRADE

our soil is just dead meat
crumbling of the earth

below our feet

miles away the concrete
and tarmac suck out the land

taking away hands we need


once vibrant hills now carry

lagging behind tractors

stone buildings sink into the view

barns vacant of touch hold
the winds for comfort

farms are just pens for lost people.

🍃

Gareth Culshaw

Ryan Lawrence – 1 poem

Mine

 

Do you mind if I hold you,

if I grip you like an ancient goblet,

thickglassed, bejeweled,

and embossed with strange signs?

 

Do you mind if I drink you,

if I sip you like liquor from the grail

or swill you with a Viking’s gulp,

some of you spilling into my beard,

some of you wiped onto my cuff?

 

And if I slam you down on the table,

and later, when I’ve picked you up,

wiped you off, 

and put you in the cupboard,

do you mind?

 

What if I lay on top of you

and arrange you for my pleasure,

my skin cushioned by your scent,

my pain harbored in your bones,

your clean breast

as soft and dry as powder,

my head as dense as stone,

the burden of its dreams

yours to bear,

do you mind?

 

🍃

 

Ryan Lawrence is an award-winning writer living in Portland, OR. His awards include the 1991 Presidential Physical Fitness Award and an Honorable Mention for a science fair project about dinosaurs. His girlfriend, Bailey, adores him endlessly.

Frank de Canio – 4 poems

Mourning Sickness

   (the day after losing to Donald Trump)

 

How like a mother poised to bring to term

what would have been the distaff side’s first born,

must Hillary appear amidst the sturm

und drang development. Her fans are torn

to hear gestation periods so long

could bring to bear such inauspicious fruit.

They’re gathering to find out what went wrong

with a delivery that seemed astute.

Forget a baby shower’s diaper packs,

as Secretaries line her cabinet

with Treasurer, Defense, and State – like cracks

inside a ceiling made of glass. Regrets

alone inform her mortuary mood,

like hens on hatches that they failed to brood.

 

🍃 

 

The Blessed Virgin Chastises the Infant Jesus

    (after the painting by Max Ernst)

 

Although the child possesses rank

when swanked by saints in Heaven’s sphere,

He swallows pride astride her shank

while she raps penance on his rear –

despite presumptive blasphemy.

Albeit not of woman born,

and sworn to bear the cross for me,

He’s not above a woman’s scorn

when matters turn to discipline.

For no one is above her law

who’s swaddled with a diaper pin –

regardless of prophetic awe.

And since He suffers every man’s

development at woman’s hands

 

His kingly crown has tumbled down

beside her. She, with feet apart,

imparts with unforgiving frown

harsh blessings from an anguished heart.

For though He’s God’s anointed son,

He’s spared no trials while on her knee

who, faithfully, has just begun

to trod the road to Calvary.

Indeed. If he’d redeem His flock

He needs ambassadors on earth

who lovingly make us take stock

of life before our second birth.

As such, He raises from the tomb

the blistered fruit of woman’s womb.

 

🍃

 

Free Throw     

 

Imagine if Dan Sterling’s senile rants

were not made public to the autocrats

who smugly dictate what we can and can’t

communicate to girlfriends in our flats?

Our black Americans would still be riled

by fruits of their oppressed ancestors’ plight.

and street gangs would be running wild,

ensuring that their neighbors heed their might.

But now that Sterling’s forced to sell his share

of ownership by Teflon corporate shirts,

the black community will get a fair

proportion of the wealth for all the hurts

inflicted on them. Poverty’s passé

when knights in mail that shine like silver slay

with magic dragons those who scarcely puff.

Forget a hundred years of slavery.

A sacrificial goat appears enough

to show the world belated bravery.

Who cares if it’s 200 years too late

to fight the battle when it mattered most?

They also serve the cause who sit and wait

self-righteously to trumpet a riposte

against offenses in an old man’s brains.

Instead of reparations to oppressed

descendants of those victimized by gains

acquired thus, those presently obsessed

to compensate the loss of photo ops

to jocks, insist this worse injustice stops.

 

🍃

 

Prophylactic Encounter

 

I scarcely thought her bedroom was smack in the heart of the pharmacy. But the way she glared at me, it could have grown out of her

heckling hide, or else she wore peripatetic bedding to bide what was bugging her. Anodynes – seemingly secreted in crevices of her salutary skin at the express check-out counter – it’s not surprising she locked horns with mine in the safe of her incubating mindset.  Bedded near proscriptive drugs, she wore Rx pants like sackcloth for the bulldog barter. Her lethal looks infected me like a syringe inoculating a viral glance. With clinical duress, she measured passion’s pulse, poised to fend off a lubricious encounter. Was I a druggy, rummaging through the philter of her medicine cabinet looking for an angry fix?  Ginseng notwithstanding, there’s no hospice in this supreme deceit of courtship. And so armed with my doctored addiction I pay for my Pillsbury mixture like a flattened doughboy kneaded to leavened flour rising.  With the salubrious jewels in my hand, I paid Miss Glam Puss with a post-transactional “Thank you, ma’am.”

 

🍃

 

Born & bred in New Jersey, Frank De Canio works in New York. He loves music from Amy Beach to Amy Winehouse, World Music, Latin, opera. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. He likes Dylan Thomas, Keats, Wallace Stevens, Frost, Ginsburg, and Sylvia Plath as poets, and attends a Café philo in lower Manhattan.

Diane de Echeandia – 1 poem 

Passersby

 

Cruising by an osprey nest

perched atop the channel marker,

we suspend idle chatter

to crane our necks

and even stand a bit off-balance,

hoping to glimpse

the nestlings shielded

beneath their mother’s wings.

Does the osprey

despair of sputtering diesel

fumes invading her tranquility?

Does she wonder about us?

Disquieted for a moment,

does she continue watching,

as we do, uneasy–

conforming to life’s patterns,

while harboring fears of

life’s eventualities over

which she has no control?

 

🍃 


Diane de Echeandia writes poetry and short stories. Her work has won awards in competitions sponsored by Christopher Newport University, Asheville Writer’ Workshop, and Pamlico Writers. Her poems have appeared in SUNY Delhi publication,Agate; The Skinny Poetry Journal; and Pamlico Writers’ anthology – A Carolina Christmas.