Side By Side – Gerry Sikazwe

 

Side by side, we’ve walked

Through dust sickening, mud

bleaching and the pleasant in between

 

Side by side, we’ve walked

Through stabbing thorns, cutting

stones and soft grass comforting

 

 

whatsapp-image-2017-05-22-at-07-04-26-e1495504308777Gerry Sikazwe is a Zambian poet. He is currently studying at the University of Zambia pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education. He manages a poetry page on Facebook: “Words and voices from a root” and a poetry blog, Scribbles of a Root. His poems have been featured on sites such as Dissident Voices, AfricanWriter.com, In Between Hangovers, Mshikamano.com and Tipton Poetry Journal.

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Salamander Dream – Tyler Robert Sheldon

 

After a lithograph by Kat Lowe

 

Kat coats metal with thick black ink,

then takes paper and plates to press;

she rolls them under blankets meant

to swaddle, not smother. On paper,

she smiles atop a giant god-lizard,

perches high on its tight back

of feathery gills. The beast drives

hard through etched dry leaves,

trees and road-dust bending,

bowing, blowing away.

 

Sheldon_Tyler_Author_PhotoTyler Robert Sheldon is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, 2016), and the forthcoming Traumas (Yellow Flag Press, 2017). His poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in Quiddity International Literary Journal, The Midwest Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Coal City Review, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, The Dos Passos Review, Entropy Magazine, The Big Nasty Press, and other venues. He holds a BA and an MA in English from Emporia State University, and is an MFA candidate at McNeese State University. View his work at tyrsheldon.wixsite.com/trspoetry.

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.

Warmest Tangerine – Richard King Perkins II

 

The sun’s

resurrection—

 

it’s always been

alive

 

somewhere

 

smashing into air

and interstellar

plasma

 

but we see it

as warmest tangerine

 

earliest dust

 

across rooftops

and far-reaching

leaves

 

held captive

in uppermost vibrissae

 

waiting for months

to descend

 

into crisp piles

where we stroll

and caracole

 

through shed

fragments;

 

dead—

 

but living in a way

which we

cannot imagine.

 

rkpiiRichard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.