oscillating | Jeff Stonic

Image: Jeff Stonic @jeffandtonic

oscillating

the heater whines like exhaled helium
skillet griddles shredded refrigerator potatoes
I am quiet enough to enjoy each individually because you are sleeping
in the bedroom where an oscillating fan barriers sound between us.
I nearly lived a careless life with sails billowed by lies I love to tell myself
when days were difficult and outnumbered the free form ones.
I unfolded myself face down into stovetop lavender syrup, salvaging
homework on a Sunday night, saving what I can for last
while embracing what is daily laid at my feet.
I love my life despite the overly dramatic gun I hold
by my head, pointed somewhere in between a direct
hit, a grazing knick of the skin, and a Catalpa tree
strung by bean-based icicles dangling from the branches
like wind chimes tuned to pitches meant for other creature ears.
Beside me are thin cushions that don’t stack well
enough to tend to my posture.
Yesterday I passed in and out of registers like large bills
in residence within a rich neighborhood’s mall.
This morning I am seven cents on a wooden window sill,
available to so much eyesight, yet left so unbothered.

Jeff Stonic (he/him) is a Denver artist writing poetry, performing and producing standup comedy, and image-making with photography and videography. His poetry has previously appeared in pan pan press and Eunoia Review.

The moon | Steve Anc

Image: Sven Aeberhard

The moon

She is the peddler at the end of our dreams,
With a beautiful surface.

The dance of the morning,
where gentle sight abides.

The feast of clear color
with smiling song and form.

The sight that sees beyond the sea
And the coming home of the fishes.

The song of the kindly living,
And the coming home of the lovely breeze.

Steve Anc is the son of Ajuzie Nwaorisa, a Nigerian poet. He is a poet with searching knowledge and deep meditation on universal themes, he is quite a modern poet in his adherence to language and his use of metaphor is soul-searching. Anc’s works have been published in Open-door Poetry Magazine, Poetrysoup, Goodlitcompany, Voice From The Void, Our Poetry Archive, I Become The Beast, Fire Magazine

Letitia’s Memories | Sylvia Byrne Pollack

Image: Keith Chan

Letitia’s Memories

are silent films    slapstick and melodramas
projected onto old white sheets   hung 
inside her skull    If she wants a sound track 
she has to create it herself

Memories blur   and   emulsion molds   
even on precious 35mm Kodachrome slides   
evidence of her family   her childhood   
her dogs   Lassie   and   Bambi

She squirrels letters   photographs   clippings   
opera programs   museum tickets   trip itineraries   
in 8 x11x 4 inch boxes on shelves in her study 
She can’t remember what’s in the boxes   

Who cares what’s in the boxes – 
a memento is not the memory    

Memory requires mind   electrical waves sweeping 
over the cortex   sweeping cobwebs from corners   
swapping one year with another   one face with another   
flux of memory trails through forests of fact and fiction

Memories do not stay stacked neatly in boxes 
but dribble   foam   seep   sublime onto the rug   
into corners   over window sills   flow down 
the clapboards on the side of the house

They trip her up when she goes outside to water 
the garden   Tigers of grief pounce when her back 
is turned    Sudden tears on the anniversary of her 
mother’s death even though it was more than fifty years ago

To look back is to flirt with becoming 
a pillar of salt    but   says Letitia   
with a shrug   it adds needed flavor 
to whatever I’m stewing in today

Sylvia Byrne Pollack, a hard-of-hearing poet and former scientist, has published in Floating Bridge ReviewCrab Creek Review, The Stillwater Review and many others. A two-time Pushcart nominee, she won the 2013 Mason’s Road Literary Award, was a 2019 Jack Straw Writer and a 2021 Mineral School Resident. Her debut full-length collection Risking It was published by Red Mountain Press (2021.) Visit her at www.sylviabyrnepollack.com

Until Death | Talya Jankovits

Image: Oscar Keys

Until Death

One day our bodies
won’t work this way—
won’t fit together 
coaster on tracks, 
wild
ride rise fall plummet 
                                         into
                                                         oblivion.
exhilarate
tummy turned
knotted nausea
panting
fingers clenching,
holding onto,
pushing into,
leaning back to

              There might be 

bedpans.
diapers.
A neat row of teeth 
soaking in solution.
Bones so arthritic
they can’t bend 
towards each other. 
              or unbend, 
and still
I will reach 
for you. 

Talya Jankovits’ work has appeared in a number of literary journals. Her short story “Undone” in Lunch Ticket was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her poem, My Father Is A Psychologist in BigCityLit, was nominated for both a Pushcart prize and The Best of the Net. Her micro piece, “Bus Stop in Morning” is a winner of one of Beyond Words Magazine’s, 250-word challenges. Her Poem, “Guf” was the recipient of the Editor’s Choice Award in Arkana Magazine and nominated for the Best of Net. Her poem, A Woman of Valor, was featured in the 2019/2020 Eshet Hayil exhibit at Hebrew Union College Los Angeles. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and resides in Chicago with her husband and four daughters. To read more of her work you can visit www.talyajankovits.com, or follow her on twitter or Instagram @talyajankovits

A broken-window wind. | DS Maolalai

Image: Thom Masat

A broken-window wind.

a broken-
window wind
and these flutters
of unsettled
evenings,
pushing elbows
through shelves
in a second-
hand bookshop.

pages flutter wildly,
falling wide open –
flags flying to signal
all nations.

DS Maolalai (he/him) has been described by one editor as “a cosmopolitan poet” and by another as “prolific, bordering on incontinent”. His poetry has received eleven nominations for Best of the Net and eight for the Pushcart Prize, and has been released in three collections; “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016), “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019) and “Noble Rot” (Turas Press, 2022)

Two Poems | Julie Oldbury

Image: Payson Wick

Daydream

If I am going to be a poet
I had better stop chatting with
the homeless fellow
at the Shell station on the
corner.
I had better pour my coffee
into the most insulated of all the metal
cups
with the most securely sealed lid
engineered, credentialed
so that
I don’t spill any coffee in the car and
I had better not dream
too big before I
decide to move on and
forget myself
I had better not scream
about it and wake myself up

Canopy

The bus will take you to a place
where you have been before
but cannot seem to find.
Where the leaves are starting to turn
and the cool breeze herself
tumbles down the mountain
wearing a yellow turtleneck.
Dancing across the road,
she approaches to give you
the most amazing gift:
the color orange.
Twist it between your fingers
turn it red, against your heart
like when you were a kid
hands flung out the window
cold air rushing between each finger
soft fleece on your skin.
When you become a tree,
how tall will you be?
She asks, gently
swirling beneath the canopy
admiring the blue sky.
When you become a tree,
what will you teach me?
Smiling, she bends her arms
back in time, fluttering
at the edge of the sun
curling up into a memory
dotted with warm light.

Julie Oldbury is a writer, musician, and corporate boss bitch living in Denver, Colorado. She studied English and Creative Writing (Non-fiction and Poetry) and Visual Art at Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. While an undergrad, Julie’s literary thesis explored connections between modernism, abstraction, and gender across the works of Virginia Woolf and Pablo Picasso. She was an editor of the student publication, Medium Weight Forks and a promotions employee of the NWMSU Visiting Writers Series. She earned a graduate degree in business from the University of Houston and currently works in the data insights and security software industry as a part of the Denver and Boulder tech community. Upon moving to Colorado in 2018, Julie rediscovered her excitement and passion for writing poetry. Inspired by her surroundings, her growing relationships, and the global landscape, Julie is in the process of compiling her first body of poetry and is actively seeking to publish her work in independent and avante-garde journals.

In My Forest | Sojourner “Hughes” Davidson

Image: Jez Timms

In My Forest

Even in light of all this good
I feel down
I have been opening my chest up
Letting all the creatures in
Trying to heal my aversion
To mycelium
I grow to reach another root
Couple
Intwine
Become closer to another being

I don’t know if I search for the right thing
I am tethered to all my past mistakes
And rotten relationships
I try to make my roots grow out
And into the deep
Dark underground
Explore the things
That I only glimpse on the surface

The underground is terrifying
The place from which new life springs
Is not so easy to navigate
I am a labyrinth
Within a labyrinth
Trying to solve a beautiful puzzle
Always finding myself in the wrong place
And exactly where I should be

Sojourner “Hughes” Davidson is a poet based out of the DMV area. Their interest in poetry began in high school English and grew in college as they began reading and writing more poetry. As a college student, they had two poems published in my college’s lit mag (The Greenleaf Review) and worked as the art editor. Their work has also been published in Knee Brace Press. Hughes’ poetry tends to explore politics, identity, relationships, the mind, and the body. They try to bring everything back to the mind and the body. Hughes believes poetry is felt both emotionally and physically, and a poem is great when it reaches you in both places. Instagram

Teaching my (step)sister to smoke in the Taco Bell parking lot | Monica Fuglei

Image: Brandon Holmes

Teaching my (step)sister to smoke in the Taco Bell parking lot

We smoked first, remember? I thought
the tacos would cover our breath, 
rolled the windows of the Mustang down, 
opened the moon roof to look at the stars. 
We were so young, then – summer before
your junior year. I’d just bought my first Docs, 
wore baby doll dresses. Looking at the sky, I 
wondered if this was sisterhood, if we finally
melted our lives together, if I had a shred 
of what you had with your blood sister–if the 
Marlboros, the tacos, the sky, the way we passed
our cigarette back and forth–if this was sisters 
but no, it wasn’t the smoking, it was the drive-thru
fight when I forgot the mild sauce, when I backed up
the car, when I nearly hit the car behind us, 
the way you yelled and laughed, 
it was later when you rocked my daughter through the night
while I slept nearby, exhausted, it was later still
when you packed up your life to move home
after we learned our father was dying, 
it was in the ICU when we shared earbuds
the night before we said goodbye to him, 
the way our heads came together, tethered,
hospital curtains open, the way the stars 
                                                                remained. 

Monica Fuglei (she/her) currently teaches in the Department of Composition, Creative Writing and Journalism at Arapahoe Community College in Littleton, Colorado. A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has recently appeared in Mason Street Review, a thin slice of anxiety, and The Hidden Peak Review. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s usually knitting or tweeting on #AcademicTwitter.

April | Mickey Thompson

Image: Mick Haupt

April

Barefoot and listening to Fiona Apple,
feeling as eternal at 33 as I did at 9 years old,
at 12,
just as likely for every emotion I have ever had
to destroy me or vitalize me,
just like every feeling is a Grand Canyon,
barefoot on the gravel that is every stripe of red
that music has ever made me relive,
invincible and vulnerable at the edge
of realizing that a chasm is beautiful
because of what it exposes.

Mickey Thompson (she/they) is a poet, biologist, and teacher who grew up in Arizona and has now found her heart home in Northern Colorado. Their work has appeared in “Multiverse: An Anthology of Superhero Poetry of Superhuman Proportions” from Write Bloody Publishing, and one self-published chapbook that was stapled together on the arm of a couch in Tucson.

2am Dances With My Father | Cid Galicia

Image: Jeswin Thomas

2am Dances With My Father

I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate by what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
-Theodore Roethke

Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.
Always stirring in the early am hours –for prayer, for stamps, or for chess.
No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Ironic now, how my father and The Middle East have made amends.
The 2am World Cup Futbol games that the continent of Qatar sends.
Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.

The last few months in Los Angeles, I worked the graveyard shift 10pm to 10am.
Six months later I put in my two weeks and moved home at my parents request.
No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Now home drinking coffee and wine. I call it Roethke’s Wake to Sleep Blend
2am I walk to the bathroom, occupied by him. Later the kitchen again in his possess.
Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.

As ghosts we haunt these halls each night, of my old home to no end.
Conversing with our demons and angels , some damned and some
blessed. No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Old blood never sleeps well– doesn’t now, didn’t then.
Much unforgiven in our chests, walking hearts without rest.
Sleep is like food for my father. It is simply fuel for old Mexican Men.
No beauty in closed eyes. My sleep now is as food for my father has been.

Cid Galicia is a Mexican American poet who taught in New Orleans for over the past decade. He is in the final year of his MFA, through The University of Nebraska Omaha. He is a poetry editor for The Good Life Review, a reader for The Kitchen Table Quarterly, and this year’s FIRECRACKER Poetry Manuscript Awards. He was the recipient of the Richard Duggin Fellowship—granted for demonstrated excellence in writing, runner-up for the Academy of American Poets Helen W. Kenefick Poetry Prize, and most recently nominated for the Helen Hansen Outstanding Graduate Student Award. He is currently living in Los Angeles as an Intern to The Editor for The Red Hen Press. His work has appeared in The Watershed Review, the National Poetry Month Issue of The Elevation Review, Trestle Ties Issue 5, and the upcoming spring issue of Trampoline.