Erebus – Christopher Eskilson

 

Days have passed since

I

was in my mouth,

long and oddly shaped.

 

The touches

of a dead rock leave me opened wide.

Silence sits beneath a maze of multiplying sand.

 

I had never forgotten a tune the planets learned,

brightening like a spoon collecting

pictures of a gone world.

 

Now, my pupils burn.

The innards of a feeling blacken.

The vibrations sigh

& bury your

excuse me.

 

Let go, spreading out along a road

cutting through my woods.

I rub my tongue in evening as

the pines curl asleep.

 

Listen:

The dream

—its special music—

hums.

 

This is the mind;

cold and black light blue;

the desert carelessly approaches.

 

A sea of squeezing bites.

 

I can’t inhabit where I goes.

An effigy,

a wild silence.

Living, burning, lost control.

 

img_1684Christopher Eskilson is a Junior at Pitzer College studying English and world literature. He is a managing editor at the Claremont Colleges’ The Student Life Newspaper and also an associate editor for Claremont Graduate University’s Foothill poetry magazine. In the past, he has worked as an editorial intern for Red Hen Press in Pasadena, California. Christopher’s work has appeared in After the Pause, 30 N (formerly the North Central Review), Apeiron Review, A Quiet Courage, and others.

The Easter Bunny on a Glass Elevator Going Down – Zach Smith

 

In retrospect the event seems so bizarre, that it’s more like a dream.

My aunt had taken my cousin and me to the mall.

It was in the spring, at some point shortly before Easter.

The Easter Bunny was stationed in a playful land of candies and eggs and fake plastic straw of every color imaginable. This was in an open area at the bottom of the mall’s glass elevator. An Easter variation on the mall’s Santa set up.

I don’t know if this still goes on, the mall Easter Bunny that is, I haven’t seen one in years, but I haven’t been looking either.

The setting was accompanied by music played from a DJ stationed nearby.

At Christmas there are plenty of songs to play on a continuous loop to keep the atmosphere. You don’t even need lyrics. Anyone can recognize “Jingle Bells” by melody alone. The same goes for “Frosty the Snowman,” or “The Christmas Song” (though everyone knows the latter as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”)

For Easter, the music choices are more limited. There’s “Peter Cotton Tail” of course, but it’s not nearly as recognizable, considering DragonForce did a song using the same chord progression and nobody noticed. If you want to get real religious you could opt for the song “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)”… but that’s probably not the best choice either. There are not a lot of “great” Easter songs to play for the mall Easter Bunny. So what is a DJ to do? Why, play some of the contemporary hits of course.

The year was 1991, I was six years old at the time.

When we got to the bottom of the glass elevator to see the Easter Bunny, the song he was dancing to was… “Losing My Religion” by REM.

The argument that the song title is a southern expression that roughly translates to: “losing your temper” is weak at best. The phrase too specifically implies something else. Even the music video is very religious oriented, with fallen angels and so on. Playing that song for the Easter Bunny would be the equivalent of playing Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” at a wedding.

Consequently eighteen years later “Single Ladies” was played at my wedding, with both my aunt and cousin in attendance, despite the fact that that specific song was placed on the “Do Not Play” list. Come to think of it, it might have been the same DJ since both were utterly deaf to lyrical significance and/or irony.

At the mall, I asked my cousin the obvious question:

“Why is the Easter Bunny dancing to ‘Losing my Religion?’”

“Ah… because it’s a good song,” she said, sarcastically, as though I should have already known something so obvious.

That’s debatable… and also not the point.

 

with hatZach is a graduate of Chestnut Hill College and has been writing for more than a dozen years, struggling all the while with dyslexia. His work has previously appeared in Crack the Spine, Revolution John, Fast-Forward Festival, the Short Humor Site and Schlock Magazine, among others. You can find out more about him at his blog: theobscuritysymposium.wordpress.com.

Walking – Allison Grayhurst

 

A grain I throw

in the water, floating, ready to

sink. I see you – thin as anyone

must be living on such an edge – tense

and tired of holding your breath. So many years –

a raging prophet, flailing your limbs

to keep the barnacles off, to keep the ones you love

close and to keep your mission in perfect purity.

 

These days the summer is dried spit on the pavement.

It opens my eyes to the struggle everywhere – pigeons

waiting for water, children running up the dry incline,

facing a bridge, the great restructuring.

 

You, riding the gilded wing – love is like the Earth’s dirt,

necessary, elemental, and its smell, saturated with memories.

I love you: Sometimes it is easy.

Sometimes I am a woman in God’s funnel cloud,

bending back to look, but seeing only storm.

 

allison-grayhurst-profile-picture-2016Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. Learn more at www.allisongrayhurst.com.

Mushrooms and Onions – Jon Bennett

 

When I first got a kitchen

I baked salmon

and decided, from then on

fish every day!

I only made it once

I’m too impatient for ovens

and still eat from the bag and can

although I do fry up

mushrooms and onions

with my eggs in the morning

I feel this kitchen

has saved my life

although maybe

it’s the soft bed

that came along with it.

 

jon bennettJon Bennett is a writer and musician living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his stuff on Pandora and iTunes. For booking contact jonbennett14@hotmail.com. Most recently his work has appeared in Degenerate Literature, Your One Phone Call and In Between Hangovers.

Fishing at midnight – Richard Luftig

 

a blood-red moon

means me no good

 

and stars winking

their secrets

 

are not about to tell.

bass in this lake

 

have gone on strike

for better food

 

and my lures

are not fooling

 

anyone. but later

after my rowboat

 

has cut through

the last diagonal

 

of water, I’ll climb

the hill to my cabin

 

watch squirrels run

under a spotlight

 

floodlamp across

telephone wires

 

like acrobats

without a net

 

crawl under a blanket

try to sleep leaving

 

any upcoming dawns

to fend for themselves.

 

just-dad-2Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio who now resides in California. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi-finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Two of his poems recently appeared in Ten Years of Dos Madres Press.

Homage To An Avuncular Neighbor – John Michael Flynn

 

At ten I brought him my new

Boy’s Life each month

to share a survival story or two.

 

He did the talking

mostly about the Pacific theatre.

He knew war, didn’t like or glean any sense from it.

 

I did more than listen to his silences.

I grew wiser within them.

I brought their lessons to my father.

 

On sunny days we mowed and raked his lawn.

All winter long I helped him

shovel his drive.

 

Today, I learned he died in bed

while his wife was baking zucchini bread

for an annual church function.

 

His daughters and grand-children

were far away.

No game on TV. No warning.

 

Just the week before, I’d held his ladder in place

while he’d nailed above his garage door

a big wooden yellow butterfly

 

that he’d cut, designed

and painted himself.

He called it Easter Light.

 

headshotjohnmflynnIn 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.

raven’s eye. for vivian – Kersten Christianson

 

she is the sea glass queen

all xtratuf boots and rain gear

trowel and shovel

searcher of shards

of pottery and glass

 

she takes the blue canoe

down to wrangell

a meandering passage

through silvery waterways

lined by rocky beach and forest

 

she is the writer

all creative mind and chapbooks

filled journals and prompts

collector of truths and stories

recorded by pen on paper

 

she will spend the summer

at mickey’s fishcamp

photograph the play

of cloud and setting sun

sort treasures from the beach

organize words on the page

 

img_2972Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Kersten’s recent work has appeared in Cirque, Inklette, Sheila-Na-Gig and Pure Slush. Her book Something Yet to Be Named by Aldrich Press and her chapbook titled What Caught Raven’s Eye by Petroglyph Press will be published in 2017. Kersten co-edits the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she lives in Sitka, Alaska with her husband and photographer Bruce Christianson, and daughter Rie.

Child Unconceived – Allison Grayhurst

 
Tomorrow may bring you nearer
            to me, but then it may cause
                        grief that no instinct nor love could
                                    rectify.
If I cannot form the dustgrain of your life
            in my womb, cannot carry
                        your limbs within my belly proud
                                    and drench my veins
with our combined blood –
(you and I merged for a time, guiltless,
            expressing the earthy essence of God
                        with each our individual heartbeats),
                                    then be damned my entrails
and this longing
                        that drives my impatient summer.
 
            When I see your face for the first time,
                        and your father and I behold your
                                    living smile, be sure
there will be a depth of welcome
            that no hardship could turn cold
                        nor ever diminish.

 

allison-grayhurst-profile-picture-2016Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications “Best of the Net” 2015, she has over 950 poems published in over 400 international journals. She has twelve published books of poetry, seven collections, nine chapbooks, and a chapbook pending publication. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay. Learn more at www.allisongrayhurst.com.
 

Right About Now – Peycho Kanev

 

Right about now all is lost in the currents

of time. The sun is rising just to become a contradiction

of the candle which was lit by a shaky hand

last night, and now it’s no longer needed.

 

Slow music starts. The begonias snuggle together.

They slowly lower the body in the ground.

 

021Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. He has won several European awards for his poetry and his poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

When The Wind Came Up – Jackie Davis Martin

 

When the wind came up she hated the world. Before that, before the sand started whirling around, before her ears hurt with the sudden gusts, she’d found a moment of peace, as slim and painstaking as the slight parenthesis of the moon, now obscured by heavy clouds scuttling urgently. Before the moon disappeared, before the wind came up, she’d considered that maybe there was some point to surviving, something to be said for living in the moment the way her grief group was instructed to think. She could see it then, standing next to her close friend, another woman old as she was, but both young because they’d known each other for so many years they carried the former selves within the old and didn’t see the new old. There was some peace in knowing that she didn’t have to achieve anything more and having the company of her friend to watch the ocean, listen to its gentle shushes. But then the wind came up. At first the women stayed, trying to discern the speed of the tide, walking backward up the grassy knoll to the parking lot that overlooked the beach. But then, with sand whipping around them suddenly, they couldn’t see well and sought shelter in the car, which they quickly discovered had a flat, and so called for roadside help and waited in howling wind and the growing dark and had nothing more to say. Now she was back in her own head, locked into a loss as solid as this car, the wind blowing billows of sand, the world too much to interpret once again. When the truck arrived, its lights flashing into the darkness, and a young man with a jack got out, she understood why people found faith.

 

Jackie Davis Martin has had stories published in journals that include Flash, Flashquake, Fractured West, and Dogzplot, as well as story collections Modern Shorts, Love on the Road, and the recent Road Stories.. Prizes were awarded by New Millennium and On the Premise and finalist placements fjdmor a novella (Press 53) and a chapbook of flash fiction (Conium Review). A memoir, Surviving Susan, was published in 2012.  Jackie teaches at City College of San Francisco.

 

Botanica – Caitlin Johnson

 

& have we grown together –

the vine & the tree,

our own ecosystem evolving around us?

Your oxygen, my chlorophyll,

green & hushed in the sunset:

feeding the world, forming ourselves.

My garden. Your garden.

 

cj-bio-picCaitlin Johnson holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her work has appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Narrative Northeast, Pembroke Magazine, Vagina: The Zine, and Wild Quarterly, among other outlets. A chapbook, Boomerang Girl, was published in 2015 by Tiger’s Eye Press, and a full-length collection, Gods in the Wilderness, was published in 2016 by Pink.Girl.Ink. Press.

Ode to Bishop – Carl Boon

 

Late September means

the chickens—

 

in summer imperturbable—

scatter at the shack’s wall.

 

They sense a flesh confined

trucks moving away,

 

the ends of all things

hot and strange.

 

This evening the wind

has shifted; the vines

 

have browned, fall against

the boy’s summer plan:

 

a pyramid, a monument

to which he did not pray.

 

Mother tries the door.

The cat has perched atop

 

the Hyundai top,

a kind of porch,

 

and symbols here have pushed

away to need—tin foil

 

makes a drape, branches

of fig to fence the strays.

 

When the rains come,

the girl, barely old enough

 

to lie, will gather armfuls

of rocks, wishing they were clouds.

 

cb-picCarl 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, Lunch Ticket, and Poetry Quarterly. He is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Jellyfish – Peycho Kanev

 

Ocean glittering in deadly blue light,

filled with small phosphorescent dots,

we are bounded on the east and west

by beaches and the repetitious, drugged

sway of the ocean becomes our way of

living;

the room is empty, save for us, and your

long tentacles scattered on the bed.

This cut piece of reality is a still life

painted with pain and love.

Long hours lead to endless ages as I

dive back into the water to give you

the kiss of life or to get stung.

 

021

Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. He has won several European awards for his poetry and his poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.

Pumpkin Breath – John Michael Flynn

 

Across my palms, skin has swelled in lumps

crackled like these pumpkins around us.

I try to lift one and imagine the face I’ll carve.

A pebbled orange orb, it drops rotten from its hooked stem.

Its smell is foul, its seeded shards like wet pottery.

Not that one, but there are others to bring home.

 

We walk further down the row. Around us, blue hills rise.

I fall out of rank from the explosive legion

of voices that tends to invade quietude in such settings.

I squeeze my wife’s hand, hear again a word I cannot define.

It’s like an aunt dead and buried,

the one I’ve got a picture of but have never met.

 

What is it about such a word and its elusive associations?

I pause a moment. Neither of us speak.

We watch a small wind lift dust and fumes of fertilized soil.

I turn to her. She smiles shading her eyes from autumnal light.

Ambiguities remain. Doubts will come and go.

Ephemeral simplicities renew us.

 

headshotjohnmflynnIn 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.

Neighborhood – Catherine Zickgraf

 

In her blue robe,

Mom would light up beacons from her woes,

flashing on the porchlight among row homes.

 

Needing safety,

I’d leave home after bedtime, and row across

sparkle-snow, and drag my footpaths through

the pines, past a creek bridge, and abandoned

railroad ties. I’d follow telegraph roads under

the ocean, seeking the eternal glow of escape.

 

me-and-grandmoms-picCatherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write poetry. Her work has appeared in Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press, and The Grief Diaries. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Amazon.com. Watch and read more of her poetry at http://caththegreat.blogspot.com.