two poems – andrea jackson

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Curtain

A sharp toenail cuts across the sky,
slashes the dream
like a starched curtain.

On the other side eyes glint.
The curtain falls apart like a torn skirt
to reveal you,
crouched, hands trembling.

Why do you look so green?
Who has left us here to rot?
Can’t you see your great love
has brought us nothing?

 

When the Story Came Out

I stand on the beach and let the wind
pass through my body.
Stars trickle through the atmosphere.
I’ve lost whatever it was
that opened me to fantasies.
There were lovely times
with dolphins and moths,
always something new.
The soft-spoken garage attendant,
the spaniel with its head cocked,
and all the time a green haze
wrapped around our city,
magnifying sounds so they echoed wetly
in the empty street. It was on such a night,
maybe on that very night,
that the garage attendant
strangled the spaniel,
and when the story came out
we all wondered why.
An innocent and friendly dog.
Life is a given; it’s death we must explain.

 

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Andrea Jackson’s poetry and fiction have appeared most recently in Triggerfish Critical Review, Star 82 (*82) Review, Gyroscope Review, Eyedrum Periodically, Heron Tree, The Tishman Review, and The Apple Valley Review.  She has received 2 Pushcart nominations and one nomination for the Best of the Net Anthology, has an MFA from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and recently published Who Am I and Where Is Home? An American Woman in 1931 Palestine, described by Small Press Bookwatch as “an absolutely fascinating, deftly crafted read from cover to cover…an extraordinary, candid, engaging, account of an inherently interesting woman in an inherently interesting time.”

 

Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel

two poems – kathy o’fallon

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Longing Still the Ruin of My Existence
                                                      for Tom

I always thought he’d come back
like this, wrapped in his youth,
spook to my banshee.
The thin man, I’d once teased—
huddled like an Einstein
crouched in the basement trying
to figure things out: aeronautics,
magic tricks, why
our family made no sense.
Bred in his lab
like little white spirits
or gods called by name,
rats nibbled crumbs from his lips,
staved his hunger,
but the lure of the airplane glue
proved too fragrant to resist,
formulas floating
clear out of reach, and then Boom!
a hole in the paneling closer
to the boiler than one cared to think.
Our father, who art not in hell,
didn’t like that too much, the trapped
pet rats now scurrying to get out,
racing against the poison-filled smoke.

I always thought he’d come back like this,
show me a smile could be sober
without losing its bliss.
Oh, how I’ve missed you, I said,
ten years of loss melting at my feet.

Umbilical Cord

The gravel granite path across
the cemetery crackles like rock candy.
What I’d give for a piece
to suck like a thumb,
weaned from the nipple.

I take off my shoes
so the stones can scar
something into submission.
I don’t mean to dissect the worm,
but I’m glad to, first-born of eight—
we craved the same nourishment.

I scrape fingernails along tree bark,
and its dust stains my skin.
She is here, reclaiming my body.
I kneel and cling to exposed roots,
can’t think       which one to follow.
They reach where I can’t so I pull,
but they break into little carcasses.

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With great assistance from her mentors, Kathy OFallon‘s poems and short stories have been published in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, as well as three chapbooks.  She is a psychologist living in Fallbrook, California, self-proclaimed avocado capital of the world.  Without poetry, OFallon asks, how would she know her own heart?

Photo: Tomas Tuma 

paper towel roll – jacob butlett

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“Gay males are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.” – National Eating Disorders Association

 

While the moon yawns outside the bedroom window,
I think of him as a white paper towel roll at a party:
In the beginning, a baby in the plastic-tight embrace

of his mother. Smooth, sensitive, plump,
he eyed others crowding around him, squeezing him,
soiling him with dirty hands of disappointment,

he believed. Holding me in the bed we used to own,
he once told me he hated himself for being himself,
for being the vanity’s prank upon the planet.

Since childhood, he’s thrown sheets of himself, papery
shreds of flesh, into the trashcan of life. Nothing remains
except a cold gauze of skin over his bones, the exposed

cardboard roll of his spine, which now I caress as he
falls asleep dreaming of what? Dreaming of food he’ll
never eat? Acceptance he’ll never accept?

I don’t want to compare him to a paper towel roll—
to any other object, for that matter—but as long as he retreats
into himself, refusing my help, how can I not see his body broken?

His spine’s a cracked telescope, fractured kaleidoscope,
revealing little in its lens, in its limited lightshow:
a glimpse of the brilliant borealis of his upbringing,

a glimpse of his future—colored slides in the light?
I imagine pressing an ear against his sunken chest,
a smashed treasure chest harboring, I hope, an ocean’s lullaby,

an ocean’s laughter. But now I hear him—
snores hoarse, whimpers raspy—begging to be more,
to be firm as muscles, firm as fat filling dead space.

Tomorrow we’ll talk. He and I will talk about this tomorrow,
before he fades forever like a breeze in the trees outside.
Until then, I close the curtains, tucking the moon into bed,

snuggle down under the covers, dark as an ossuary,
and dream of him—his smile wide as the crescent moon,
his once bulky body now protected in the warm plastic of my arms.

 

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Former poetry editor and longtime gay author Jacob Butlett (he/him) holds an A.A. in General Studies and a B.A. in Creative Writing. In 2012 he earned a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Gold Key for his fiction, in 2017 he won the Bauerly-Roseliep Scholarship for literary excellence, and in 2018 he received a Pushcart Prize nomination for his poetry. Some of his work has been published in The MacGuffin, Panoply, Cacti Fur, Gone Lawn, Word Fountain, Ghost City Review, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, Into the Void, and plain china.  

Photo: kaluci

what is this oblivion? – larry thacker

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Returning to where we’re from,
to before waking into the question.
Fresh grass taken into the mouth, chewed, swallowed,
brought up, swallowed down to a blankness.
What was the child’s first words? Why me, mother?
A truth-flavored, empty dark scripted of dreamlessness.
Housedress pockets bulging, hanging,
with sleeping river rocks.
Ask anything into an abandoned house’s broken mirror.
Light from a dead star, roaming and waiting
to be seen and named by the fading eyes
a beast stuck by a vehicle
and resting on the roadside.
Empty well. Empty well. Empty well.
Knowing where all the bodies are buried.
An antique typewriter’s stuck, melting +/= key
on the eighty-seventh floor.
The one balloon, released.
Dust on a window brushed by a man’s black wool-
suited shoulder, glanced through
from inside by the retiring barista.
Cup of black coffee, evaporating on a picnic table.

 

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Larry D. Thacker’s poetry is in over one-hundred-and-fifty publications including SpillwayStill: The JournalValparaiso Poetry ReviewPoetry South, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The American Journal of Poetry, The Lake,Illuminations Literary Magazine, and Appalachian Heritage. His books include Mountain Mysteries, the full poetry collections Drifting in Awe and Grave Robber Confessional, the chapbooks Voice Hunting and Memory Train, and the forthcoming full collection, Feasts of Evasion. His MFA in poetry and fiction is earned from West Virginia Wesleyan College. Visit his website at: www.larrydthacker.com

 

Photo: Todd Downs