Imagination – Ann Christine Tabaka

 

The fog closes in

It surrounds me

It dampens my senses

It impairs my vision

But at the same time it enlivens me

I feel a tingle of excitement

I am transported to another time

To a distant shore

Into a story I once read

Where ships transverse dangerous waters

While lighthouses atop craggy rocks guide them

Back to a time of sea monsters and damsels in distress

A time of mystery and wonder

But then the fog begins to lift

And I must come back to earth

But just for one moment

Time stood still and the fantasy was real

 

13221756_10206392177779458_3188055745494222119_nAnn Christine Tabaka is better known by her middle name, Chris. She has been writing poems and rhymes since she was fourteen. She was an artist, a chemist, and a personal trainer. Her poems are in the Contemporary Group’s anthology “Dandelion in a Vase of Roses,” and the poetry journals “Whispers,” “The Society of Classical Poets,” “Indiana Voice Journal,” “Halcyon Days Magazine,” and “Scarlet Leaf Review.”

The searchers – John Grey

 

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

the others shouted “where?”

But he was already gone.

I was in a bunch of weary men and women

who were more than ready to pack it in,

cold and damp, and aching for their warm beds.

As the others retreated, I stayed behind,

in woods so silent and empty,

nothing rivaled my heartbeat for sound.

The trees felt like the dark walls

of an abandoned church,

the rocks, altars stained with rain.

And I was the preacher without flock.

Or was that the flock without preacher?.

Was the boy really out there?

Every square inch of forest had been trudged through

by his would-be rescuers.

The wind was bitter, clouds low and gray.

It wasn’t winter but not through lack of trying

on the weather’s part.

Maybe he’d found a secret place

out of reach of red-eyed shivering saviors.

When I ran away and hid, I wanted people to find me.

But that was a long time ago.

When I claimed to have seen the boy,

maybe that was me skirting between the trunks,

through the brush, terrified, miserable,

but enacting part of a plan to be retrieved, taken back,

squeezed even deeper into the family fold.

I stopped. I listened to the shouts.

I longed to cry out in return.

But that wasn’t how it was supposed to work.

I had to lead them on that weary chase longer,

until the anger was fully drained from my pursuers

and only the compassion remained behind.

Forty years later, I wait and watch.

The boy is probably home and safe with his mother

tor all I know.

Most likely, only I am out here now.

So do I keep searching?

Or do I go home to bed?

Wait a minute. What was that?

I thought I saw… or felt penetrate.

Small but bright. The boy. But which one?

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Comparing Scars – James Diaz

 

the apple did fall far from the tree

and went out into the dark

with almost no light

inside

 

some places are all haunting

nothing else matters

but that you leave there shaken

 

when I was younger

I had an impossible dream

that I could grow old

and not be happy

but still be in the world

 

living in a place no one could find

I wouldn’t have needed much

a chair, a table, a bowl, a spoon

a front door

a few years of silence

of forgetting.

 

IMG_8420James Diaz is the founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared most recently in HIV Here & Now, Foliate Oak, Chronogram, and Cheap Pop Lit. His first book of poems, This Someone I Call Stranger, is forthcoming from Indolent Books (2017.)

Choking – Jonathan Butcher

 

I remember you in the school

dinner room, choking on the

corned beef sandwiches that

the dinner ladies forced down

your throat; waste held no

relevance between those walls.

 

I remember you sat alone at break

times, hands and stones slapped

across your face like whiplashes,

for an injustice you were far from

capable of committing.

 

And you walked home, your head bowed,

through those orange bricked streets

that framed our morning walks, alongside

the neglected grass verges like miniature

jungles we never dared to enter.

 

Those doors opened once again, before

the sun set behind the grey roofs and dust

like trees, you stand and stare once more

in that hallway mirror that hangs rusted,

and only slightly cracked.

 

Foxglove submissionJonathan Butcher is a poet based in Sheffield, England. He has had poetry appear in various print and online journals including Ink, Sweat and Tears, Elbow Room, Your One Phone Call, Mad Swirl, The Transnational and others. His second chapbook ‘Broken Slates’ was published by Flutter Press.

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.

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.

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.

Clothespole – Catherine Zickgraf

 

Mother used to spin from the stem of our old clothespole,

except as the paint dried at the first stirring of springtime.

 

Great-Grandpop strung rope from garage roof to porch hook

to shake out the clouds of socks and towels.

 

He built our homestead which still stands after decades—

though he’s long-buried, he’s a hero in mirrors and frames.

 

Great-Grandmom used to pin me too to swing from her lines

and I’d fling legs out and back

in the cirrus shapes stretched where wind flew her flags.

 

Circling our old clothespole in grass dark as pine,

Mother and I, both in our times, scaled the air to touch

the sunshine between us and abundant depths of sky.

 

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.

Hand-me-downs – Kate Garrett

 

The bricks housed phantoms;

the anachronistic soda counter

 

I now recall in a haze of decades

and miles as solid, yet of its time

 

and the man running the shop still

slicked his grey hair Brylcreem smooth.

 

Some villages never catch up.

The drugstore was plastic and rounded

 

and faded and chrome, Americana buried

just for me, so I could uncover

 

its message one morning—

the new kid with bony shoulders grandma

 

folded into floral sundresses I wanted to love,

relics of a childhood that wasn’t mine.

 

But I know we each spent our time huddled

and waiting for progress, or nuclear winter,

 

nursing fears we couldn’t name, hiding

in cellars from the first sign of a black sky.

 

kate-newKate Garrett is a writer, mother, editor, wife, history buff, and amateur folklorist. Her work is published here and there online and in print, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her most recent books are The Density of Salt (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2016) – which was longlisted for best pamphlet in the 2016 Saboteur Awards – and Deadly, Delicate (Picaroon Poetry, 2016). Her next pamphlet, You’ve never seen a doomsday like it, will be published in 2017 by Indigo Dreams. Kate lives in Sheffield with her husband, four children, and a cat named Mimi.

when in april… – Fritz Eifrig

 

rain, again,

from twilight skies.

echoes of my

past, signals

of those days to come.

nodding yellow crocus

flashes semaphore.

there, another, purple,

shivering,

closed as for night –

these too tell me

of you.

 

falling

water conjures the wet

sound of my name

choking in your throat

like a bite

of rotten peach.

those tears, here

mirrored along

peering iris blades,

pooling onto dirt.

pain feeds growth,

sadness made manifest in these

fragile blooms.

 

wet birds dart

into shadowed trellis shelter.

rain, again.

 

fe-picFritz Eifrig has been writing poems on and off for several decades. He has been published in Poetry Quarterly, and the Hiram Poetry Review. He lives and works in Chicago.

 

Fire – John Grey

 

I touched fire when two

and I’ve not forgotten.

I was burnt, bubbled, red,

darkened, and the flame

burned so pretty too.

 

I glanced longingly

at the liquid in dark bottles

but my mother snatched

them away.

Likewise the taunting

sharp edge of a knife.

And the patio railing

that invited me to climb.

 

But with fire

she was not quick enough.

I learned that lesson

the hard way.

You can suffer in your hand

what your heart endures.

You can shriek

a kind of glory

until the salving butter comes.

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Sid and Cassie – Maria Sledmere

 

If you told me, aged sixteen,

I’d be alone on a hilltop, sipping vodka

from a water pistol borrowed off my brother,

I’d have said, wow, cool. 

 

If you told me then, that in a bedsit

I’d be gold-toned, honing sapphic desire in my underwear,

poking slugs around a fish tank

and naming them in lieu of past lovers,

I’d have said, lovely. 

 

If you told me he’d write me a letter

with real imprints of tears in the ink,

I’d have opened my glossy lips

and laughed with careless teeth.

 

If you told me I’d end up

gazing down at the boats on the Brooklyn Bridge,

I’d have wondered how I ever felt

at all before this.

 

In the hospital garden once I sat

in my straw hat, with pin-curls and a mugful of gin

and he would come to kiss me

in his mismatched pyjamas, but I

 

was half-dreaming – I said I would love him forever

and for a while I meant it. I thought

the pink mist would surround me again;

I thought he would eat my chips

and in the darkness we would twist

as clumsy as those slugs,

 

like the day in the ambulance

when everything was bright and plastic and blue;

almost forgotten, the world not turning,

yet everything lovely,

lovely as you.

 

In the mirror I splash my face with glitter and lightning.

Maybe he has that hand-knitted hat

still full of my stardust, the nicotine traces;

I miss him, totally, but you know

it’s only the boats that go places.

 
author-pic-maria-sMaria Sledmere is currently studying for an MLitt in Modernities at the University of Glasgow, and is otherwise an assistant editor for SPAMzine and part-time restaurant supervisor, a job which provides her with many ideas for strange stories. She regularly writes music reviews for RaveChild Glasgow and has had work recently accepted by publications including From Glasgow to Saturn, DataBleed, Robida and Germ Magazine.  When not obsessing over the literature of Tom McCarthy she may be found painting, making mixtapes or writing about everything from Dark Ecology, Derrida to Lana Del Rey at http://musingsbymaria.wordpress.com.

 

Number 13 – Claudia Delicato

 

You are the season that keeps me awake

The endemic smile sewn on this sun

this nippy sun

Finding myself awake from a painful sleep

of memories

bad moves

how many do we still consume together?

 

You are the restless conversation

the finger sliding on the brim

when my sight is halted

the eyes that are not observing

digging in a shallow

blue

 

You are the trip, the plane, the train

The car with no fuel

The road with no sign

You are the rainy day when my map is not plasticized

The extra charge on my restaurant bill

You are the short blanket, the cat that doesn’t purr, the host without wine

You keep me sitting at the edge of this chair

While holding my hand firmly

Like you would do with a kite

You are afraid to see fly away.

 

cd-picClaudia Delicato is a 23-year-old Italian momentarily living in Belgium. She has been writing since she learnt how to hold a pen: she loves poetry the most, writing in English, Italian, and Spanish. You can find her work at https://hungerness.com – hungerness is her nom de plume. She is so enthusiastic about sharing her writing (and reading) passion that she started running spoken words events in the city of Ghent.

 

Number 12 – Claudia Delicato

 

Rays of light in the corridor. Tracks of electromagnetic spectrum in floating dust. Bathroom’s door is open. I stretch my leg to plunge my feet in. I fail in practice but my theory is on it. Smell of northern European cities, I turn my head and blame the body lotion. I feel safe in memories. I sink into the tub declaring a national holiday in between my extremities.

 

cd-picClaudia Delicato is a 23-year-old Italian momentarily living in Belgium. She has been writing since she learnt how to hold a pen: she loves poetry the most, writing in English, Italian, and Spanish. You can find her work at https://hungerness.com – hungerness is her nom de plume. She is so enthusiastic about sharing her writing (and reading) passion that she started running spoken words events in the city of Ghent.

Natural disaster – Roma Havers

 

Black ice skitters us sideways,

Toes curling to grip what can’t be gripped,

We fold in together, back in the jack-in-the-box,

Bruised fabrics and china faces, almost smashed

But only crumpled like plastic bottles

In skips they fall against, blueing and breaking red lines

On precious skin.

 

Dust rises against noses and mouths,

Twists into taste with the remainder of suckled sweets,

Shuddering tarmac emits dark smells,

And we avoid doorways like the spirit of Passover,

The earth splinters, ripping things apart

That should only revolve slowly,

Like tufts of snow.

 

Water chucks chins, cranking necks,

Pressure builds in stomachs and hearts,

Legs flounder like they’re caught in machines,

Cogs still turning, grinding them into the world,

And then the lid of the earth slams down,

Latching its final latch on its impenetrable

Steel water chest.

 

It is not these things I fear,

Not the dark destructions of a turning world,

Mother Earth can take me as she chooses.

 

No, I fear the wrath of untended hands

squeezing finders through my ribs.

I fear a misstep, scabbing my face shut

into blindness.

I fear the ticking shelves in my skull

will tip over and plunge me into the goldfish bowl

of empty memories.

 

roma-haversRoma Havers is a Manchester-based poet, currently in her third year of an Drama and English degree at The University of Manchester where she is the Books Editor for The Mancunion and Chair of the Creative Writing Society. She performs regularly at spoken word nights, and events such as Reclaim the Night and UniPresents.