D. Cottingham – 1 poem

Each of Us

                                                Lying beside you in darkness, I hear,

                                                through the door we left cracked to invite in

autumn’s dryer, cooler, miraculous air,

                                                the sound of trucks on the Interstate

over the distant, treeless plains.

                                                I can visualize each one muscling

its way in the vast night, headlamps

shining bravely, each driver focusing

on the imminent, attending to

                                                the balance between acceleration,

deceleration, shifting gears, peering

into what the night allows. 

I can see change and interchange. I hear tires

heavy as longing on pavement, rotating,

gaining traction, propelling each truck,

an always-moving-forward in the expanse,

mimicking the sound of a river,

a migration from one reality to the next,

each truck making its way, as best it can, each

truck passing, being passed, in unending-hunger

of joining, interweaving, moving

their individual bodies up the dark road—

home to lonely narratives. The Interstate’s

dark gravity draws each toward one more

unseen conclusion, the sound

of their passing soughing in the cracked door,

where I glean only a fleeting meaning,

each individual a shadow ghosting the road,

each hurling to the extent of its force,

whining, grinding—while I give a low sigh

and check the clock, longing for sleep,

listening to crickets singing from grassy lairs,

hearing with my whole body throbbing

and humming in the darkness,

hearing everything singing, full and hungry

at once. Isn’t this the essence of my sensing,

little valences and hints, blinking, sighing,

reaching my hand from the bed,

the meanwhiles expanding in crisp autumn air,

while I breathe this moment of clarity, 

                                                as I feel you next to me, turning on your side,

                                                shoulder exposed from the covers, perhaps

because you want to feel the air too,

                                                your shoulder bare,

topless, because you know I like that, and

                                                because you like it too, touching my skin

with your foot even while you sleep,

                                                expressing a tactile faith in love,

to be felt, to be knelt in,

                                                even as you lie next to me, each of us

bathing in nearness, touching each other,

                                                a miracle in this vastness,

the feeling of not feeling alone, even

while each of us are in our bodies alone.

D. Cottingham

Edward Lee – 2 poems

FEAR

            

The tattoo

of your fist

on my skin

still lingers;

            

some nights

I feel it itch

and the fear

that always comes

with it, the fear

your fist burst

inside me wide.

            

CONSUMED

            

Grief consumes my heart,

a cancer devastating

all in its indifferent path,

            

almost a kissing cousin

to the cancer

that took you from me,

savage and swiftly.

            

Edward Lee’s poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, The Blue Nib and Poetry Wales.  His play ‘Wall’ was part of Druid Theatre’s Druid Debuts 2020. His debut poetry collection “Playing Poohsticks On Ha’Penny Bridge” was published in 2010. He is currently working towards a second collection.

He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.

His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com

Gerald Friedman – 3 poems

Conceited Madrigal 

            

Before we can remember, we were blind,

then reaching:  stop signs, burners, cherries first

struck us as disconnected, undefined;

            


Then we worked wavelengths, firings in the head

by experience and talk, into a burst

that warns and tugs: the experience of red.

            


Thus I—you laugh!—moved the world’s middle point

for you, to you, most lovely.  On our joint


land we shone dark hair, salt, laughing too much.

Now let them, when we’re blind, dazzle my touch.

            

The Crowd 

            

Under a pond of light our sons

play football players,

the stage after trick-or-treat,

run, hit, fall, walk;it’s familiar as the bathroom.

In the second quarter

a breeze breaks in

from late lawns and leaf-covered sidewalks—we’ve been breathing each other’s bloodlust and worry

while the air passed among houses

where grownups watched the news, children whined about bed,

people washed dishes, or made love, or were even alone.

            

Falling Silent
            

Sometimes it tempts me, trying

to learn the simplicity

and silence of a tree—

or recall my infant years:

My brother in the kitchen waggles his hands,

expecting ice cream, eyes round;

my parents stroke the paneling

in a shadowy room of the house they found;

the old one’s guard of poplars (felled now) stands

while my sister runs inside, crying,

rubbing the yellowjacket sting

on her neck, lit by my fears.

            


Memories get brighter as I go back

like clearings far apart where woods grow black.

            


Will old age be

flashes of dogwood, or a grandchild’s face,

more and more rarely piercing the blur of memory

and the encroaching empty space?

            

Gerald Friedman grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland and now teaches physics at Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico.  He has published poems in various journals, recently Rat’s Ass Review, Entropy, Panoply, and Bombfire.

Gale Acuff – 1 poem

In Sunday School it’s always Jesus rose
            

from the dead or Jesus is coming back

soon or Jesus died for your manifold

sins but it’s never what would Jesus watch

on TV or if He’d read Playboy for

the articles and as for comic books

would He prefer superheroes or war

mags or cowboys or even romances

and as for snacks would He prize pizza rolls

above mini-tacos or ice cream cones

versus ice cream in a bowl or baseball

over basketball or football or darts

or track or shotput or curling, now there’s

a sport that looks too-cool and I have this

theory that He’s never coming back–fun

kind of bores Him. But better Him than me.

            

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Reed, Poet Lore, Chiron Review, Cardiff Review, Poem, Adirondack Review, Florida Review, Slant, Nebo, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Roanoke Review,and many other journals in a dozen countries. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel, The Weight of the World, and The Story of My Lives. He has taught university English courses in the US, China, and Palestine.

Emma Woodford – 2 poems

Spring

            

The season for poets to look forward,

grateful for wind fresh snowdrops,

for ochre lifts of daffodils.

            

Then Spring came in

hospital.

Nurses clad in white,

PPE like armour

tending super spreader

patient zero.

            

Hardly matters

who

(was it in Lombardy?)

Barely matters,

of course.

            

Hope is a garden

blown by storms

where wells wish

for needles.

            

This year’s bloody snowdrops

wheeze knowledge.

We are all patient zero.

            

Saffron daffodils tremble

the breeze and wait

to see if the season

will turn on age,

or on pre-existing,

or if summer will even come.

            

Never Never Land

            

Stolen gems stashed in bamboo

cut by the pampas grass,

walled by centuries of granite

that comforts us.

            

Home in fern-lined lanes

through bolts of blue

that lead to waves over umber

seaweed forests. And Tinkerbell

at home in the wisteria,

her parlour glowing green

while the pancake sun glistened

in the jam we shared

with gluttonous wasps.

            

à table, four-deep in cutlery.

Salad, plat, cheese and desert.

Meals prepared every single day.

The flagstone kitchen floor

smooth under the tread of us,

shining under the glimpse of us.

            

These days, a doctor lives

in the portal to my Never Never Land.

I want to ring the bell and ask

if he believes in faeries.

            

Emma Woodford