Nicole Taylor lives in Eugene, Oregon. She has been an artist, a hiker, a poetry note taker, a sketcher, a volunteer and a dancer, formerly in DanceAbility in Salem, Oregon. Her poems have appeared in Boneshaker: A Bicycling Almanac, Camel Saloon; Cirque Journal; Clackamas, Literary Review; Graffiti 1; Just Another Art Movement Journal – New Zealand, West Wind Review among others. You can read and hear more of her poetry at oregonpoeticvoices.poet/312/, a collection of Oregon poets with written and audio poetry available online through Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
a flock of chickadees, finches, or sparrows descend from tree tops – a gradual Sneak Up eyeing the 5 pounds of chia seeds i flung under the maple and basswood wings a flutter in broken cadence the sound strewn in a piffpiffpiff 12 gauge birdshot patter a scattering through leafed shadows, landing as nothingness these bird feet leave no prints – their weightless possibilities love glancing off your cheek, or the obscure ricochet touch spirit seeds leave pockmarks on soul constellations imploded by lost dreams, speculations, expectations, the miraculous surprise that followed success, friendship, profound beauty the job we never thought qualified for or happiness undeserved like that day we shared a plate of platanos maduros the first time they came out right and true, you graciously forgot how many bad batches you ate while i perfected the oil temp, thickness of slice, the meticulous handling and smelling of the plantain at the grocery store, selecting just the right ones you teaching that the one with the most bruises bears the greatest sweetness
Suzanne S. Rancourt, Abenaki/Huron, Quebecois, Scottish descent, has authored Billboard in the Clouds, NU Press, (Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award,) murmurs at the gate, Unsolicited Press, 2019, Old Stones, New Roads, Main Street Rag Publishing, 2021. Songs of Archilochus, Unsolicited Press, forthcoming October 2023. A USMC and Army Veteran, Suzanne is also a 2x Best of the Net nominee. www.expressive-arts.com
For a Boy Answering the Name of Our Home as the Replica of His Pain.
i called this home / a seed that is birthed where ants fly and dance / i painted my eye with a mirror / to see the fuel of this hell / and any child in my home / became the portrait of an unknown water / you whispered / and cried into my ears. / but, i know this story / is another beast. / colours shine again / with the cries of the sun / and another day is buried / in the womb of every night. i wasn’t born to stay / with my feet / dancing on this ember / in this boring home / where my name is eaten/ by the name of death. / do you think a squirrel can die / when a farmer sing a bird? what my soul sees / doesn’t exist in this world / and dosn’t even have a name to be called / or a face and the theory of drought. / i came to this home / with the autumn breeze / & wind of deserts / that tastes sweetly bitter with lies / blood / tears / and any thing i shall call pain. / i entered this home / wearing a pale cloud / and rain on the soil that runs away / from the touch of my skin.
Mubarak Said TPC XII is the 3rd runner-up of the poetry category of the 2022 Bill Ward Prize for Emerging Writers. His works are forthcoming and published in many literary magazines national and international as imspired magazine, World Voices Magazine, Icefloe Press, Literary Yard, Beatnik Cowboy, Piker Press Magazine, Teen Literary Journal, ILA magazine, Icreatives review, The Yellow House Magazine, Pine Cone Review, Synchronized Chaos, Susa Africa, Madswirl Magazine, Applied Worldwide, Opinion Nigeria, Today Post, Daily Trust, Daily Companion and elsewhere.
Trae sang Frank Sinatra to my left as the doctor removed a drain from my right.
I wasn’t ready to look down yet.
Later, I apologized for the blood I leaked onto the paper, covering my doctor’s white leather chair.
I’m sorry for my mess, I said, an apology with a footnote, of which the dissertation is still being written.
With compression off for the first time in eight days, I assemble as much oxygen as I can. I inhale
the width of North America and exhale four decades in this body.
My eyes unclench; they are not fists.
The doctor praises my body, her work.
You are an artist, Trae says to her.
Slowly, I drop my head.
My chest is my favorite book pulled open to the best part.
It is flat, bruised. Nipples like squashed berries on the sidewalk, sort of charred and uncertain.
I have survived this pain. And my new chest is
a narrative therapy exhibition
Debra, my therapist, writes me a letter to prove medical necessity for bilateral mastectomy. I become a card catalogue of mental distress, two disorders and a dysphoria. The letter calls me consistently depressive; suddenly, I feel so seen. Why must we demonstrate our unwellness for health insurance assistance when no man has to take a photograph of his flaccid penis in order to qualify for erection renewal.
Strobe light images of sensations and feelings. My feminist hides, squinting every letter into a scared pill bug. My body is a neighbor I wave hello to, with preference to keep our conversations no longer than a nod. We pretend we are strangers; it is better this way. There was a time before I flinched. Before I looked at men and thought about their penises as bullet holes left in women’s bodies. Before what I wore became a billboard for who I was, how I identified, rather than just cotton and comfort. Before my dentist declared all the reasons my teeth were complicated derelicts: drugs, lack of flossing, all those panic attacks and New Jersey water. Before my body had scars named after the men, named after the meds, named after me. Before that HPV diagnosis. Before that colposcopy where my girlfriend and I watched my cervix projected on a screen as though it were the star of a new sitcom about genital warts and bad decisions. Before my body became a crime scene or the DSM-5 or a chalk outline of a former life or a tear-soaked handkerchief or a protest poem or a ghost or a misunderstanding
or a question mark.
It comes back. It threads itself into the thin skin of my eyelids, jackhammers itself against my chest, creeps into the wax in my ears. It has been cut out, but it comes back. It has been drowned out with liquor and hops, but it swims to shore. It has been numbed with powders, chemicals, pickpocketed medicine cabinets; it keeps waking back up. It. It is genetic. It is unruly, unpredictable. It does not care you do yoga now or pretend to meditate. It has no interest in what you call yourself now, how you (try to) see yourself now. It is not going away. It. It stops you from getting jobs, from believing in yourself, from maintaining friendships, from committing to most things. It starts fights. It. It carries a switchblade. It. It cannot be quieted by pharmaceuticals; in fact, it dares you to try that again. It does not cower under doctor’s orders. It hates the term self-care. It is the most persistent part of you. It is the one element of you that has not given up. It. It. It has locked your doors and windows, so forget trying to walk out. It reminds you (in case you have forgotten) how worthless you are. It. It expects nothing of you. It. It. It. It is immune to surgery and sermons. It may will never go away. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It. It.
I. When God looks into the marble slab of me, She sees Herself. Chisel and hammer in hand, She is the One who shapes me, chipping away all that is not Her.
My insides have grown tired of this furtive distance. She’s so close, that’s why I can’t see Her. Closer to me than Myself.
My throbbing wound, oh my gentle perfection, dots on a grid. Lines between dots. Rippling, all glowing, rippling. A single jewel in a 350 degree mirror. Looking like a net. I’m caught, gasping for water as She pulls me from the ocean, into the blinding light. There is no such thing as “eventually.” It has already happened.
I strain the kingdom’s rock. I lift myself in two. My armor pales in comparison to my Self. I’m a pit-mine, stripped-down for change. I’m wheat seeds, ground to flower by the millstone of the stars. When it’s i that speaks, it’s really I that speaks. Say My Name. Ir-Rahman. My breath breathes through every living point. My particle wind, My immaculate gravity. My hammer made of kindness meets my chisel made of wine.
Feel yourself baptized, chisel’s kiss met drunken shrine.
II. When I lay down to sleep I pray my heart stays awake. Gabriel come and tear my heart from my chest, replace it with a holy vinyard, so all might drink and become quenched. Home is where the heat is hear the bells ring forest bliss, my God please hope my supple sin and consecrate my wand with light. My God! As who, what voice, where from, drenched in Sunday, stuffed with lion-blood, tackled to the brine with fishnet gravity. Give me gravity. Bring wine to orbit me. Bring thrones to bow before. Bring doorways arched filigree, gilded dew. My God! I remember when Dionysus swarmed. I remember the ivy on my head. Thyrsus high. I am a hole in Krishna’s flute that the Christ’s breath moves through. Listen to this music. I am a concert from the mouth of every milkmaid singing with the myriad chorus. My aura is drunk. My wake is oblivion. My tenderest melody bruising hearts. Make me a vine, make me a grape, make me a press, make me a cask, make me a cup, bring Yourself to my lips so Your taste might stay forever on mine. Pass me around this squalid wasteland of Puritans until reveling takes the night and lights it on fire. Let the howl of the Maenads, the Gopis – frolic and playful, gasping and wild-eyes – tear down the black curtain and shred it forever.
Connor Khalil Marvin is a poet, instructor, and ritual specialist based in Golden, Colorado. He currently works as a house witch at Ritualcravt. He teaches contemplative and spiritual practice through his own platform as well as through the Ritualcravt School. He is also a professional Talismaner as Merlin’s Workshop. He has represented Denver at the National Poetry Slam championship four times, and was the Mercury Café 2017 Grand Slam Champion. His first full-length poetry book is out on Albion-Andalus Press, available at most online book retailers. He tries to avoid opinions and welcomes the annihilation of belief by direct experience.
If you need to move past the past and have it absent in the present
then ride on the big blue bulge of the blue moon
wafting cross the great lake of sky
find absolution in stars hand pick them
peel back their skin taste of heaven’s fruit.
Anne Iverson is a writer and artist. She is the author of five poetry collections: Come Now to the Window by the Laurel Poetry Collective, Definite Space and Art Lessonsby Holy Cow! Press; Mouth of Summer and No Feeling is Final by Kelsay Books. She is a graduate of both the MALS and the MFA programs at Hamline University. Her poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals and venues including six features on Writer’s Almanac. Her poem “Plenitude” was set to a choral arrangement by composer Kurt Knecht. She is also the author and illustrator of two children’s books. As a visual artist, she enjoys the integrated relationship between the visual image and the written image. Her art work has been featured in several art exhibits as well as in a permanent installation at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital. She is currently working on her sixth collection of poetry, a book of children’s verse, and a collection of personal essays.
—————- – – – —-with a fecund heart and soulful tears
Valor of hopeful spirit undefeated
———- ——— —– Spiritual Mother of all children forever
Diana Kurniawan is a poet and writer based in Berthoud, Colorado. With by lines from Denver Life Magazine and Longmont Times Call for non-fiction journalistic pieces, she also previously served as Community Journalist for Denver Voice, a newspaper for the homeless. Recent publications include Twenty Bellows and Sortes Magazine for fiction and Ridgeline Review of Eastern New Mexico University and RawLit for her poetry in Spring 2023.
We have directions Of a lost map That leads nowhere A miraged universe An omnipresent pause.
Someone once told me You are your own prison And since then I see birds everywhere Sleep-walking Chasing delusions Shrinking into coherence.
I tore my map wrote poems on it And made paper-boats That glow in moonlight
Now My existence whirls In an abandoned dance And the ink-stained wings Are drawing Their own astral map.
Chandrama Deshmukh is an author, poet, playwright, theatre artist, storyteller, screenplay writer and performance artist. She has four books of poems published. A Teaspoon Of Stars and Moonlit Monochrome in English and two books in her mother-tongue Marathi. Chandrama has done close to 100 poetry performances in Bangalore and continues to play her role in giving this art-form the appreciation it deserves. To Chandrama, poetry is the streak of silver lining amidst the chaos of life. The moon is her muse.
“Mr. Guinan, I’ll bet your little girl Texas was born in the saddle and cut her teeth on a six-gun!” — — Buffalo Bill Cody
Since Texas Guinan had an appetite
For wild, her feet detached from Waco's mud,
Wound up in Omaha. Auditions had
Begun for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
Pale horse, pale rider — — hastening sunset.
If I keep robbing her of rightful rest,
Perhaps her death will never saddle up.
The time warp points to 1899.
Dawn broke as if it's roping scattered light.
A rifle shot by Annie Oakley grabbed
Attention — — but to Texas it translates
Brash promises of never hearing no.
When films were silent, heroism was shown
By how much good and evil fought onscreen.
Frail victims needed cowboys saving them.
But Tex rode roughshod over this belief,
Which scored new contracts in 1918.
For her they penned “Gun Woman.” She portrayed
The cowgirl sent to handle rescuing.
Before she mounts Bucephalus bare-backed,
She'll buckle up her gunbelt, knowing girls
Will take the reins by watching how it's done,
Strong knife arms swinging out to sever old
Restrictions Hollywood's boys' club imposed.
On camera, she'll hand roll smokes between
Two fingers, like scout's honor, execute
Her own stunts, thank you, and win back the ranch.
Refusing to play victims on the screen,
Be foiled by bullets, brave like Annie — — but
On horseback — —Texas Guinan blazed a trail
Through celluloid, always maintained a voice
In how she was portrayed, unique this way,
A heroine in every interview.
As organ music swelled, the silver screen
Replayed her derring-do, subtitles on.
If I deny The Reaper came to wrest
Control at 49, will she wake up?
The time warp points to 1933.
Westerns are not the way you left them, Tex,
When you starred in “My Lady Robin Hood.”
Once talkies had caught on, cowgirls were gone.
Producers wanted men as brave, rightful
Defenders of vast untamed prairie towns.
The hour of her untimely death reared up,
Then flung her, dazed, distressed, lifetime compressed.
Pale horse, pale rider — — uninvited guest.
Her spirit hovers over Hollywood,
Where she's their only female shooting star.
Greenwich Villager LindaAnn LoSchiavo, a Pushcart Prize, Rhysling Award, Best of the Net, and Dwarf Stars nominee, is a member of SFPA, The British Fantasy Society, and The Dramatists Guild. Elgin Award winner “A Route Obscure and Lonely,” “Concupiscent Consumption,” “Women Who Were Warned,” FirecrackerAward, Balcones Poetry Prize, Quill and Ink, Paterson Poetry Prize,and IPPY Award nominee “Messengers of the Macabre” [co-written with David Davies], “Apprenticed to the Night” [Beacon Books, 2023] , and “Felones de Se: Poems about Suicide” [Ukiyoto Publishing, 2023] are her latest poetry titles.Twitter.Youtube. Website.