Sheri Gabbert – 3 poems 

Invisible

 

Pinpoint of yellow covers a blemish,

eyelash primer boosts 3-D mascara

on blended color eyes. Blazing Lava

highlights smiling lips.

 

Three outfits later, I stand at the mirror,

reflect on each strand of hair

and reasons to be nervous, afraid

of being fat and old and ugly in your eyes.

 

Five years ago I dated a married man

with the knowledge and consent of his wife.

An offense no one has forgiven,

better to have cheated than to have been

polyamorous in their minds.

 

Nine years after the divorce, I still dress

for you, not for praise or sex appeal

but to avoid judgement. Caring what you think

a habit after twenty-three years, something

to remind myself I once loved  you.

 

Arriving at a party too early to make an entrance,

too late to be first, I speak to one of the two

people who still like me and wait for your arrival

wondering what your new wife is wearing,

aware she loved you without my knowledge

or consent.

 

I force them to say something, one disapproval

at a time, waiting, waiting, waiting …

did I use too much hairspray, too much makeup,

too much, too much, too much and yet

you never come and I spend most of the evening

 

sitting alone, trying to look relevant and contrite.

 

🍃

 

Flotsam in the Kitchen Sink

 

He works, his sons work, his wife walked out.

The boys sleep on sagging floors with protruding nails,

he sleeps on a sofa with cushions that gave up a lifetime ago.

 

Dreams gurgle from reeking brown water.

Daybreak brings an afflictive sun, spilling over the sides

of the blackened kitchen sink, another day of not enough.

 

Plunge, pump, push – he forces through crowds,

part of something larger than eight to five and mortgages

on paper thin walls and crumbled stairs.

 

He lives within the lines. His boys stay within borders

that protect them from stray bullets and bullying gangs

of other boys who also sleep on floors but hide

in chemical dreams, float above the underbelly in reprieve.



 

🍃

 

Déjà Vu

 

I would tell you I love you,

if I were the sort to mutter sentimentalities

or to make yesterday’s lover feel guilty.

 

Instead, I’m going to tell you your new girlfriend

is a cunt. I’ve never used that word

in precisely that way but I’ve always wanted to.

 

It fits, even if I don’t really understand

why that’s the worst thing we can think of to call

the women who replace us or why we call

ex-boyfriends cocksuckers. 

 

When we’re in love, cunt and cock sucking

are terrific words packed with possibilities.

 

And what the fuck?  What do you mean

you don’t feel the same?  As when? Yesterday?

 

We never know what happened,

those of us who are left when lovers

love someone new or maybe one we always knew

but never imagined would be the one?

 

And there’s always “a one.” Relationships

never last. Somebody will leave somebody

one way or another, but it doesn’t make it

any easier to know that, specially this evening

after dinner and a movie, when you said We need to talk

and your eyes finished the sentence.


 

🍃

 

Sheri Gabbert is a substitute teacher living in the Missouri Ozarks with her miniature schnauzer, Rilke. Her work has been published in Moon City Review (2011/2017), new graffiti, The Quotable, Rat’s Ass Review (Love & Ensuing Madness and Such an Ugly Time, issue and anthology), Communicator’s League, Drunk Monkeys, Serving House Journal, 417Magazine, Street Buzz, and The Lawrence County Record. 

Anna Nightingale – 2 poems 

April

 

There is a place in Lisbon where you can see an imitation statue of Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, and a bridge similar to The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

 

This moment is nostalgia

before nostalgia is:

lurking at the shore

of my premature thoughts. I’m gazing

at myself through gauze & taking

these gills & thrills & you for granted.

My worship ship was sinking and I capsized

it:

sat by a river

that disregarded

the neaps

and springs of

us.

Shoures soote only there –

months are not cruel, but me

I am a drought, drowned

in the unholy waters of Leman.

There was water so I did stop and drink

and by the rock I could not stop or think.

An alcoholic tongue:

a thing we’d never done.

The redeemer glares & my justification?

It’s not so simple

as rosaries and recitation.

The gate is gilded & these years are

something like such imitations.

 

🍃

 

If My Brain Were Spain

 

Exoticise my mind

like a language you’re hungry to learn

       its poli tics are a broken tongue –

and you like the validation it feeds you.

 

Move in there

and publicise it.

It is your neuro- bureau.

Let the confession echo, through that windowless hollow

to which

dragged you,

Without realising

I’m now trapped too. 

 

🍃

 

Anna Nightingale is from Coventry, UK and studies English at the University of Cambridge.

Thomas Locicero – 3 poems 

The Two Will Become One Flesh

Should we believe that we were meant to live
inside each other, we would then forgive
our sins, old and new, and petty differences
and feed each other words, not inferences.
Let our disagreements help each other learn
love is not a given but a gift we earn.
I will not search for a mate for my soul.
What of my mind, body, spirit, the whole
of me? But I cannot tell you what to seek,
though, as you do, I might hide what is weak
in me, my shortcomings, my scuffles with sin,
those rounds I’ve never been able to win.
But were your flesh and mine to become one,
we will fight as such till our battles are won.

 

🍃

 

Mines

I would be tied up in myself,
a thousand knots threaded as one,
and you would unravel but not
unravel me. You stood thick
about me, drawn aside, arcane,
unable to be decoded. You with
your coal-dust voice. What did
you trade for it? You said you
wanted better for me, yet you
insisted I follow you in. I went
to bed in the dark of night me
and woke in the dark of day you.


 

🍃

 

Further Evidence That Hell Visits Earth

 

To spill your secrets to a friend who shares them,

To profess love to one who loves another,

To confess sins to a righteous condemner,

To share your life with a selfish lover,

To argue anything with the ignorant,

To have salvation faith but not healing faith,

To fall in bed exhausted and not find sleep,

To work your whole life and live in poverty,

To not have pondered the color of water,

To never have had a garden or a book,

To know, like Keats, the meaning of blood’s color,

To not have known and then to be blindsided,

To not have made peace before your voice ceases,

These are evidence that hell visits Earth.


 

🍃

 

Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming inRoanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, The Good Men Project, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Jazz Cigarette, Quail Bell Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Antarctica Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire Literature & Arts Journal, Indigo Lit, Saw PalmFine Lines, New Thoreau Quarterly, and Birmingham Arts Journal, among other journals. He resides in Broken Arrow, OK.

Simon Robson – 4 poems 

4 POEMS ABOUT ME AND BABY RED SLEEVES 



1.

Oh to be in love with blessed baby red sleeves,

no bad smells from the fabric,

Kentucky fried chicken left-overs

from the weekend shift, their eating habits,

takeaway tinfoil wrappers infiltrating the hairs

inside your nostrils, brain,

no irritations to your sensitive nostrils,

sneezing fits,

everything in one place, composed, clean –

all your investment strategies coming off,

a rich, fat wage and respect in retirement,

enormous cabbages on your allotment,

when I get there –

first find a safe work area, no hazards,

apply the brake,

secure Velcro straps,

everything clean, very hygienic –

no health and safety issues, loose straps.

 

🍃

 

2. 

A delightful Mini York Container,

hard to resist or beat,

even when I’ve got my eyes shut –

I’m getting rewarded, just over £10 an hour,

for my limited effort at packet sorting,

building baby red sleeves

for the Post Office, late shift, 

when all I require is less pressure, fuss,

stress, more time to relax and enjoy myself –

stop the loss of full-time jobs,

no more job losses –

please baby red sleeves, please.


 

🍃

 

3. 

I blame Theresa May 

in her plump necklace of pearls,

leopard-skin shoes,

the rising cost of inflation,

no increase to my wages,

corrupt Conservative government,

my rising bile, contempt for Mullers milk,

yoghurt and sour bread, about to puke.

Mullers strawberry rice.

Working in a safe area, no infringements

from managers, sharp plastic straps,

bad brake mechanisms, no labels –

a workforce facing redundancy,

zero contract hours, threat to pensions.

 

🍃

 

4.

I want a bright, spectacular, 

full of exploding fireworks, future,

where I can stay drunk all the time

on whiskey, listening to Canned Heat,

Rollin’ And Tumblin’ –

PPI, hand-stamping, meter, mixed packet mail,

no more Mini York Containers, propaganda,

all the correct procedures, health and safety,

shifts, working patterns, spectacular –

I’m in love with baby red sleeves.


 

🍃

 

Simon Robson

Sam Rose – 3 poems 

I Googled

 

According to the internet, you don’t exist.

I am trawling through obituaries

looking for proof you ever lived.

 

I have been looking for someone

who understands. Someone else

who family friends referred to as

the replacement child. Someone else

who is the “after”.

 

I googled “get rid of yellow stains

on really old flannel teddy bear”

but it gave me nothing.

 

I googled “how to grieve

for a sibling you never knew”.

I guess my requests were

too specific.

 

I googled “how to grieve for

someone you never knew”

and all I got was people

grieving for celebrities.

 

I googled “death in family during

childhood social anxiety”

to see if you could explain me.

Why I am the way I am.

 

There is probably nothing to explain.

 

I googled “non-grief”. 

 

🍃

 

Seaside distractions

 

Once more onto the beach

we descend

because that’s the place where

troubles are buried

in the sand

in the hands of the sea

clawing at the shore

and I can’t be sure

when we finish watching the

horizon, when we turn our

backs, when we eat fish and

chips, when we complete our

list of seaside distractions,

that these memories won’t

resurrect, raise their heads and

redress themselves, stand erect

and elect to follow me to the car,

sit with me as we drive home,

and embed themselves inside

my head again, where only I

can see. So

in that regard

I put up my guard

again

and

once more onto the beach

we will descend in

a few months’ time

to bury them all,

to put them all to sleep

until

like the sun that

we watched set

 

they rise

once more.


 

🍃

 

Lumpy rabbit-dog

 

Lumpy rabbit-dog without a name

floppy-eared with a bellyful of

old flannel pyjamas

without a definite identity

somehow symbolic

of my now non-relationship

with you

 

I think I’m grieving 28 years late

but that’s okay

that’s okay

 

I might not miss you

but I am missing you

and I’m feeling that

quite acutely

 

I am noticing the hole

the scoop of flesh

carved out of my

own belly, the

red tendons raw

beneath, exposed

and now I want to

transpose this flesh

and the lumpy

rabbit-dog-without-

a-name so that I can

carry a piece of you

with me, give myself

a bellyful of old

flannel pyjamas.

 

🍃

 

Sam Rose is a poet, writer and editor living in England and studying part-time for her MA Creative Writing. She is the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and The Creative Truth. In her spare time, she enjoys eating too much chocolate and learning Swedish.