Tomatoes – Natalie Crick

 

Plump tomatoes roll

Beautifully, with

Silken skin that puckers

And splits. In my hands,

They have a pulse.

Each one curious, childlike

As a heart thumping in wonder.

 

Natalie Crick PhotoNatalie Crick, from the UK, has poetry published or forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, Ink In Thirds, The Penwood Review, The Chiron Review and Rust and Moth. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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.

Taxonomy – Caitlin Johnson

 

Domain: Eukaryota

It’s not just the nucleus:

it’s the membrane-envelope

keeping us from oozing out;

it’s the matriarchal mitochondria

tracing us back before even Eve.

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Sometimes we forget

that we are animals, too-

we love to expunge

the evidence.

 

Phylum: Chordata

Musculature is not enough.

We need to grow a fucking backbone,

prove ourselves capable of contortions.

 

Class: Mammalia

We reject the reptilian brain.

We reject the scaled skin.

We reject the gills.

 

We demand the milk.

 

Order: Primates

Little fingers, little tails.

Eyes that seem to know.

& we hide in the trees.

 

Family: Hominidae

& what is so great

about the Great Apes?

The bonobos, the gorillas, the chimpanzees – sure.

But then comes the fourth.

 

Genus: Homo

Struggling to become upright/upstanding/upheavers.

Striding into the scrum.

Leaving antiquity, entering the man-made universe.

 

Species: H. sapiens

It’s not enough to conquer.

We must humiliate, as well:

subjugate, colonize, destroy.

The natural world?

No. The human one.

 

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.

Prunus Pumila – Carl Boon

 

Snow lay atop the boxwoods

all winter,

lather on skin,

and shielded

the sand cherry’s branches.

Now the dead wood

splinters when I pull,

and the leaves have bronzed

early. What should be neon-

red this sunset’s

glimmerless, a girl

too long neglected.

On the south slope

January comes—

Lake Erie finds its way

and waits.

 

I read it’s part rose,

part shade, where my father

used to sit and study

the broadening pin-oak.

The final spring he lived

it shone hot pink,

the blood of the lawn

he watched grow

nights like this,

nights in a chair with coffee,

the hedge a memory,

the trellis empty

of the purples we knew as kids.

 

Today I drew away

as much of the dead as I could.

My wrists grew furious

cutting, aligning, motioning

to corners of the yard

unseen in decades.

I stood back,

then I moved forward

as my father might’ve,

at peace with what remained.

 

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.

Unfinished breakfast – Roma Havers

 

Cold burnt toast waits in dawn light

for a kettle shriek,

porridge stains hob-tops,

stiff boils emerge into oaty alps,

a lung faints above clouds

as her tongue lolls onto stone tiles;

last kiss into dirt and breadcrumbs,

A rib cracks in a gust of air,

lets out a tire hiss;

 

the cat flap swings in spring air

and paws tread prints into her snow-flesh,

veins mark snakes and ladders under claws,

purring, its soft head dings at a dead arm

and licks a line from ear to throat,

the wet skin does not move

 

like a pond where freeze takes hold

and goldfish hang

mouths open, in the glass,

the cat scrapes at the surface,

starved for fish.

One last tear melts down her,

red with life,

and the kettle sings mourning blues.

 

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.