three poems – nate fisher

wil-amani-1215967-unsplash

Haunt

Nobody is loading a shotgun because
the hardware store has accused nobody
of illegal dumping. The cul de sac
is absent of a shape tearing beer cans
in half, a voice swaddled to empty lung
by a winter night,
nobody screaming
is this what you want is this what you want

The airedale terrier across the alley
no longer labors in breathing.
Most passerbys begin to wave back,
say to the new neighbor, once
there was a ghost here. For real.
I saw it there. And there.

The rumor is that nobody would sit motionless
in a black sedan overnight during the freeze,
open french doors in the morning as if
they were clearing brush from a trail,
and walk their knife around the block.

The mountain hemlock that lined the sidewalk
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody blamed them anyway.
The houses shawled in yellows and pinks
didn’t hurt nobody, but nobody haunted them anyway.
The basement nobody lived in was a mausoleum
the size of a father. The good man who used to live
there was smothered in his sleep during the wildfires.

Some say he lives again, drinks iced tea while mowing,
always looks like he wants to apologize to strangers.
He rolls the garbage out, stands there, listens
to the neighbors walking up and down the stairs.

 

DIY Wishing Machine

Set aside several empty drawers,
so many of those little coffins,
a whole chest of them.
Unscrew a pair of cymbals from that drum kit
you never bothered learning to play.
The wiring won’t have to be up to code,
but blockade your front door before proceeding.

Fill drawers with those letters and photographs
you refuse to throw away. Contemplate
an eventual stillness for every hand
responsible for making them. Place
drawers stacked inside a dark closet
to let them breathe. Attach positive terminal
to top cymbal, negative to bottom.
Find a cassette recorder that hasn’t
been touched for at least twenty years,
and begin recording over whatever tape
is inside without reviewing it first.
Form a wired connection as follows:
cymbals to recorder to closet.

Lie flat, place head between two cymbals.
Concentrate on the most hidden of all things.
Invisible thing. Colorless thing. Allow
no harshness of the face. Raise your right hand,
and begin the first stroke of an autopsy.
Donate to a tax-deductible charity organization.
Raise your left and build a palace of mirrors.
Do not be alarmed if you hear the sound
of an engine turning over, or a quarry
full of dynamite. There, that point of light,
be distracted by it instead. Your memory
will snow. Watch your footing. One thing
and another are now colored things.

You can now allow yourself to be afraid.
Your liver is failing. Your children will
have a twenty-five percent chance of being born
with a rare congenital disorder. Nobody will ever
raise a toast to you again. Feel this sink in
and harden into the trunk of the body, you beautiful
son of a gun. Goddamn, you’re looking so fine,
you have any plans tonight, sweetness?

Do not turn yourself down or stand yourself up.
Politely reschedule if necessary. Raise
your left leg; make note of the prophecy
that arrives to mind later. Raise your right,
and ignore this instruction. Something’s here
or just beginning to hear. Thinking thing.
Wishing thing. Marry your genitals to beauty.
Keep in time with the lub-lub, lub-lub that now
heaves into the cymbals. Dwell here. Move everything
from your apartment into this space. Tidy up.

Wait for a shortness of breath, and then speak.

 

Speaking to the Lady of the Lake at the Koi Pond in Moscow City Park, Idaho (2:30 AM)

Moths can smell the kind of drunk that likes
to wander
through the baking streetlamps

and the figure rising from the water

says                                          lend me a mirror

i say                   no because you’re going to say
this is a dead mother thing
like every other dead mother
thing i fill drawers with: binoculars,
pocket magnifying glass from a sewing kit,
widowed spectacles; which, if you wear,
do feel removed somehow

says        let me initiate your sojourn
                                               or whatever it is
                                               you need women to do

i say                     i’m not looking for healing
i’m not going to try and heal you
no offense

says                none taken

i say                     my secrets are limited to
knowing the moths must be
cold tonight and
it’s slowing them down.

i’m
slowed down.

says you make jokes in the morning

i say                    yeah

says you’re very intent on staying out of that drawer

i say                   stranger things are happening

says tell me about it

and brushes her hair with a heron’s beak

i think about cold wings going colder
and my favorite doorways
the ones i had to stop in
to reach back, take the temperature
of the threshold

i say                  do you mind if i crash here

says i want to hear a joke in the morning

i say                  me too

and lean into my coat collar
drifting, but thinking
a moth walks into a bar
and can smell the wander on itself.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

 Nat(e) Fisher is a poet, musician, and educator from rural southern Illinois. He graduated with his MFA in Poetry from the University of Idaho-Moscow in 2016 and currently teaches at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Facebook

Instagram

Photo: Wil Amani

las lobas – lisa tellor kelley

tahoe-beetschen-1368705-unsplash

Women transform into wolves
and drink Shiraz made from smoke
and blackberries. They cut red
meat close to the bone, untie the forgotten,
strong warriors, burn gentle wild fires
and spread angel bait around before laying
down to sleep. They shelter the young
females from being stunned and eaten
and make them strong. Women

run with wolves and follow
a path straight to their soul
where their spirit connects
and nurtures the earth. With their souls
they listen to their mission
story. They write it

bone against bone, braid it
into hair, intermingle it into their war
cries rippling gentle and stern
from this wild, endangered species

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Bio: Lisa is the 2015 State of Illinois Emerging Writer of poetry. Currently, she is a lecturer of English composition at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and teaches creative writing at Lindenwood University Belleville-Illinois.  Lisa is the “name giver” of the River Bluff Review journal.  She is published in journals such as OVS-Organs of Voice & Speech, River Bluff Review, and Rhino.

 

Photo: Tahoe Beetschen 

three poems – j.c. reilly

luca-carra-1329957-unsplash

Tempest

On the pier at Hawley Arm,
their legs hanging over the edge,
the sisters watch a storm
punch its way from the west.

As the bruised clouds spread,
the air, thick and woolen all day,
shifts and trembles. The lake
blackens in response, while gators,

like logs, sink beneath the surface,
ripples vanishing almost instantly.
A pelican on a cypress stump
takes fright, takes flight, its white

feathers a momentary erasure
of the sky’s embittered indigo.
The sisters ought to go in; a storm
like that can bludgeon a body with hail

faster than they can run the quarter-
mile to the house, but they know
what they will find there: broken hearts,
broken hearts, faded magnolias.

A Syllable, a Dove

A dove drops from your mouth,
round and fat at my feet.

I pick it up, my hands a bowl
for its milk-white body;

it trembles but does not flinch
its gaze. Shell-pink beak sings

of what you could never speak:
your wish to find a sky

unspooling with clouds
of loss, of wind crystal time,

of desire that pelts like sleet.
Song complete, the dove lifts

into the air: your voice on wings,
Goodbye falling, a forgotten feather.

Proverb

In my dream, a bride visits
a blue crystal rotunda, where

an elephant lives in sequins and silks.
If it looks at her with its left eye,

her marriage will be happy,
but only as long as the reach

of wild lemongrass. If it stares
with its right, the couple’s first

thousand days will be as the endless
mangrove, thick with an underscrub

of despair. But should it fix her
squarely with both eyes, blessings

will fall like a shower of silver
rupees on the bride and groom

till they drown, drown—
and the elephant drowns, to bestow such joy.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

JC Reilly writes across genres and has received Pushcart and Wigleaf nominations for her work.  She lives with three cats, one of whom is a Communist. When she isn’t writing, she plays tennis or works on improving her Italian. Follow her @aishatonu on Twitter or jc.reilly on Instagram.

 

Photo: Luca Carrà

i am from a lie – nicki quinn

buzz-andersen-145254-unsplash

I am from a lie
From a sad truth that turned into a lie
I am from a place of sadness and depression
I am from a rose that cuts and tears your flesh
I am from a tree of death and darkness
From hell itself
I am from the sex gone wrong
From a waste of time and slavery
I’m from a trench that was dug for me
I’m from Hawaii. A beautiful place
From Hawaii, and a state of regret
From a mother that was a teen
I’m from a sex addict
From a woman wanting to be an owner

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

Bio: Nicki Quinn is an idea. The main thing to know is that she seems to be one thing but sometimes is another. It all depends on the day, mood, and time.

Photo: Buzz Andersen

four poems – amee nassrene broumand

jose-martin-ramirez-c-363-unsplash (1)

Pacific Northwest Gothic

Wires coil within the muddy deep.

Apples thump
upon the ground. Midday dark
becomes bloody murk at dusk,
the hush of streets swallowed whole.

In the kitchen with the red drapes,
she binges cake in the dark.
Mother howls upstairs, upset
by the low & bellow
of the train.

Beaks flicker in the rail yards,
soon to roost by the cold slaps
of the Columbia.

 

Fallout

A rose torn from the ground
rushes downstream in the dark—
from my window I hear
roaring.

Night erupts into feasts & fireflies
& convivial ankles. Electric wheels burst
behind the waterfall—

the year crests down,
a fierce swan about to strike.

Moths thump upon a shuttered pane.
Blood ebbs.
Gulls & sandpipers mourn upon the harbor.
The skies morph into bleared chalkboards—
bang the erasers together & watch the dust rise,
snow bubbling in November’s tumult.

Douglas firs sprawl in the ochre light & howl.

Livid thunderheads—
the city flutters off the earth,
a gleaming kite into the void.
Noise bites my spine, taking hold.

I pause—

the radiant umbrella
sweeps overhead & closes. My skin

falls away, clumps of wet sand. I erode
running through the noise—

everything’s violet.

 

Opal’s Chatterbox

the decaying storefront evokes the suburbs I recall the pangs of spring magnolia trees still erupt in fleshy blooms purple wounds among long & spiky bones the greening of the year passes into the clouds skeletons rumble in a drawer with feathers & a honeycomb ghost until I throw it all away dust of marrow & pine sap eggshells years unspool widening the gap between us bicycle tracks snake through cement like casts of fossilized vertebrae gathering raindrops into mirrors for drowning swallows bound gagging they fade too the drums & the cages there was once a field on the way home where a barn rotted & rotted until the spine gave way & the roof fell—no I don’t have a photograph

Hydrothermal Vent

City street. The ocean bubbles through
a fissure in the tar. No one notices.

A woman leaps from a taxi—
a scribbled sheet, crumpled, falls from her lap
to the olive sea,
unfolding. On the corner

a hypnotic anesthetist grins over fistfuls of balloons.

Nine minutes later a paper child
climbs from the sea, up
through the road
& catches a trouser leg
to the taxi.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Amee Nassrene Broumand is an Iranian-American poet from the Pacific Northwest. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in FIVE: 2:ONE, Sundog Lit, A-Minor Magazine, Empty Mirror, Menacing Hedge, Barren Magazine, Word Riot, & elsewhere. She served as the March 2018 Guest Editor for Burning House Press. Find her on Twitter @AmeeBroumand.

 

Photo: José Martín Ramírez C

death valley – paul ilechko

david-everett-strickler-632154-unsplash

Clubfoot bravado
in seventies cheesecloth

he curses as the freighter
pulls away         his heavy

stare reflects a hatred
for all things golden

he lives for concrete
he lives for the hot

black ribbon beneath
a desert sun       a locked-in

world of tinted windshields
and leather plumage

rejoicing in the dialogue
between metal and stone

a voice that oscillates
across the valley

till twilight falls
and the new-found stars

weep again for the madness
of his remembering.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

Paul Ilechko is the author of the chapbooks “Bartok in Winter” (Flutter Press, 2018) and “Graph of Life” (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Manhattanville Review, formercactus, Sheila-Na-Gig, Marsh Hawk Review and Rockvale Review. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

Facebook

Instagram

Photo by David Everett Strickler

two poems – bruce mcrae

7_Paranoid

Tugging On The Invisible
It’s in the Great Subtraction where the takers reside.
Their houses are without doorways and walls.
They’ve removed the light from their windows.
In their lives something vital is missing.

The takers, whether you’re fleeing out of Babylon
or staring down a sewer pipe
or rounding up your Christmas chickens –
they’re there, but in and of themselves solely.

Sometimes it’s a seat on the bus or last of the cornbread.
At other times it’s a kidney or a faint breath,
the takers only too pleased to shift the unmovable,
to create an aching from absence.

What began as a fist has turned into a finger.
From beginning to end, our lives are dreamed into being.

 

Banished
Bundle-of-lint, get back into your cubbyhole,
into your linen drawer, your kettle of fish heads.
To the seeping wound from whence thou came.

Silk-purse-out-of-a-sow’s-ear,
get back down into your hole of holes.
Return to the smirking mouth of the salamander.
To the bottom of your olive jar.
To the glove compartment of a burning sedan.

Mister-face-like-a-slapped-backside –
exit with the staged play’s walk-on mob.
Back to your shallow-dug grave in the woods.
Return to your shoebox hidden under the bed.
To your gouged hill scarred with aircraft debris.

Go, and never trouble this existence again.
And may your shadow never cross another’s.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

 

Photo: Mikhail Shchupak-Katsman

two poems – juliet cook & j/j hastain

BABY_INTHEOVEN

Slumber Party
Stained teeth fall out
of the clouds,
start a thunder storm
of unforeseen fonts
writing their own love stories

while they crash and sink
themselves into drainage.

Wash them down to the bottom
of the ocean or keep them
as encrusted cheese maps
at the bottom of the oven.

Use them as part of a magazine ad photo
of Sylvia Plath inspired undergarments.

How many sadistic photo shoots
will fit into this board game
inspired by sharp, rattling molars
or carnivorous harps?

These teeth won’t burn in the crematorium
so you’ll have to hang them
out to dry alongside the laundry you just pulled out
of the washer, your mama’s old shirt
and fingerless gloves.

Fingernails hidden in the glove box
alongside a toy gun
that needed a friend.

 

Your Eyes Are Bigger Than Your Stomach

A conduit or a tiny giant. I wanted to name him but stopped
myself from outreach. Focused on outflow
instead. I listened to his atonal stingers
and began to develop my own melodic pulse.

Tiny eyeballs could be shooting stars.
Tiny tears in the feedback loop
could be resources
and the leeches slip out

of our shit-
eating grins
as we grimace and steal milkshakes
from the food carts outside
the municipal court.
We’re going to start a riot
in which we suck the leeches out of the straws
and fling them at those who think they should be in control
of our blood. We’ve got a lot to show them

about blood. It can’t be owned. And it always
wins when combined into our home-
made flavors of farm fresh ice cream.

Last night, my abdomen felt so bloated
I thought I was going to explode like a giant cow.
Meaning tiny can turn into huge with one explosion.
Meaning expansion is meant to be.

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.

Juliet Cook is a grotesque glitter witch medusa hybrid brimming with black, grey, silver, purple, and dark red explosions. She is drawn to poetry, abstract visual art, and other forms of expression. Her poetry has appeared in a peculiar multitude of literary publications. You can find out more at www.JulietCook.weebly.com.

 

Photo: Megan Tate

exorcism / the expulsion – kailey tedesco

zac-durant-553746-unsplash

exorcism / the expulsion

in the same way your mouth

refuses to close

as you apply mascara

there is a ghost here

the world behind you

reflected in the mirror

is unreal

there is only wall

but the house

keeps growing

eating parts of itself

i can hear you arrive

before you’ve even

fingered for your keys

this is no time at all

for games

as a child i’d wait

for snow

my mother would say

it will not come

if you wait for it

what i know

is i’ll die when i expect it

the very least

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Kailey Tedesco is the author of She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publishing) and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press). Lizzie, Speak, her most recent collection, won White Stag Publishing’s full-length poetry contest. She is an associate editor for Luna Luna Magazine and a co-curator for Philly’s A Witch’s Craft reading series. You can find her work featured or forthcoming in Witch Craft Mag, Bone Bouquet Journal, New South, Fairy Tale Review, Black Warrior Review, and more. 

 

Photo: Zac Durant

what the sky looks like right now – justin karcher

seb-barsoumian-194895-unsplash

Sometimes I pretend the sky & clouds
are just pieces of really expensive paper

shooting stars are just really beautiful papercuts

when you’re young
you stare at the sky & write with your eyes
imagination is just a really nice optometrist
who encourages your vision even if it misses the mark

as you get older
you stare at the sky & write with your fists
it’s a little more violent

you dream of rocket ships exploding in earth’s atmosphere
jet lag confetti raining down on rooftop parties
where evil men drink hallucinogenic bourbon
out of the skulls of orphan babies

you dream of planes crashing into gated communities
where the rich never leave their mansions
spending most of their time
ripping out pages from chapbooks
written by overworked poets
always on the verge of suicide
making paper airplanes out of the trauma
throwing them into fireplaces

when you’re old
you don’t even look at the sky
every room in your home
in your heart
in your brain
has become a basement
full of wet boxes
caused by leaky pipes
you don’t bother to repair

all the suicide notes & love letters
you’ve penned over the years
disintegrating into mush
the words that meant so much
running into one another
like when cops break up a party
the words left behind
form new sentences
you must dig out of the drowning
then you must read what you sew:

there are no windows in your life anymore
all the lovebirds stuffed into a drawer

tenderness is a thousand dolls taking your breath away
a thousand cats pulling your ribcage like a sleigh

the death you deserve, fireflies sinking to the bottom of an ashtray
you’ve always been an origami car stranded on the highway

and the sun is always setting somewhere else
you just wanted a hotter melt

 

wolf_silhouette_png_clip_art_image (1)

 

Justin Karcher is a Pushcart-nominated poet and playwright born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He is the author of several books, including Tailgating at the Gates of Hell (Ghost City Press, 2015). He is also the editor of Ghost City Review and co-editor of the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry (BlazeVOX [books], 2017). He tweets @Justin_Karcher.