Election Day – Susan Zeni

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Photo: Pamela Calloway

First, election day, and then
not so strange being close in bed
but first being strange
but not being in bed
being in body kind;
being slow, being not hurried for pleasure
being not at all the fantasie in men’s eyes;
being two, but not us, we
being lips, being breasts,
being you, being me, the bed being round,
plunging line of winter being one,
careful we, cutting away what is death.

Not even necessary, love
but there is love
and earlier there was my sadness for summer again
and the black dog chewed a squirrel
winter people crawled into tin holes.

Election day, I choose you, choose me, choose you
and earlier, the old woman wheeled to the polling place by her son,
a great book in her lap
fat boy in a green jacket, sparrow on a black roof
orange room very dry
but not dry, very lonely
but not lonely
only the blue jay
only the blue jay pecking on the window
not flying but then flying
from the black roof
not hearing my own voice loving for a long time
and then not even necessary, love,
not so strange being close in bed
but first being strange
being in body kind
careful we
falling through the fruits of winter
cutting away what is death


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Susan Zeni wants her poems to tell the stories of people living on the margins of society. She lived in Manhattan on Avenue A, in Chinatown and in Harlem for five years, Seattle for ten, and is now ensconced back in the Midwest after years of teaching community college.  Publications and honors include a Lucille Medwick Award for a poem with an humanitarian theme, “Black Angel,” published in the New York Quarterly, danced by the Erick Hawkins dance troupe, and read up on stage with Gwendolyn Brooks; a Seattle Weekly portrait of Ralph and Mary moved out of their Second Avenue Hotel digs by the Seattle Art Museum; and “The Street Walker’s Guide to Wealth,”recently published by the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Susan gets her kicks playing accordion, having been in a number of bands, including the Polkastra and the all grrrl klezmer band, the Tsatskelehs, as well as performing solo at local art openings, Quaker events, and farmers’ markets.

Sex at the Airport – Paula Bonnell

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This is an act
in which the other is absent
They may or may not
be physically present
but always abstracted
David Leavitt leaves
the house next door
Arriving passengers
complain to you
of the static – your sex
jammed their headsets
and shocked their children
They would have you believe
what you did was not private
But did anything happen?
you ask yourself hopelessly
It was carnivorous
they accuse
and yet
naming your feelings
seems almost an insult
to the other
when what is wanted
are acts of love
serum-filled
specific as dreams


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Paula Bonnell’s poems have appeared in such periodicals as APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle, and Spillway, and in four collections, including Airs & Voices, chosen by Mark Jarman for a Ciardi Prize; Message, a hardcover debut, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet, a story in free verse of a child’s kindergarten year, and tales retold, as well as winning awards from the New England Poetry Club, the City of Boston, and Negative Capability, among others.  www.paulabonnell.net

Bodies in a Recession — Matthew DeMarco

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photo by: Andrew Karn

Rain and night, Minneapolis,
us, and four suitcases.
Greyhound and a city bus.
Clipped roll in the night. A fade.

Looking west from a pink bedroom
full of linens for a guest,
my eyelids sagging, colored
red from liquor and cinnamon sticks.

If it was noble
to correct the market
the unemployed would be given medals,
and we’d wear them.

Thrum of an airplane overhead.
Recall its low-flying drone again,
and my fingers guide the wind around her flame.

We are lonely in this manmade valley.
Teens clang and hang like bats
from the half-dome batting cage behind our backs.

The water table underneath permeates
the sheds that shake beside the lakes.
This common source of poisoning
affects all things that drink from me.

Here’s a tip for the welfare line:
a note on letterhead from the mayor.

*pieces of this poem were originally published as “Track 16: Half Light II (No Celebration) by Arcade Fire.” in Opossum 


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Matthew DeMarco lives in Chicago. His work has appeared on Poets.org and in Ghost City Review, Landfill, Sporklet, Glass, and elsewhere. Poems that he wrote with Faizan Syed have appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Dogbird, and They Said, an anthology of collaborative writing from Black Lawrence Press. He tweets sporadically from @M_DeMarco_Words.

Frida Kahlo’s The Wounded Deer, 1946 — Karen George

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Photo by: Felix Hansen

I.

Deer body smoothly fused into Frida’s neck and head, antlers a tiara, a crown of thorns. One earring hangs like a tear from her furred ear. Caught mid-leap, trying to escape pain. Pierced by nine arrows, blood flows, the worst wound her heart.

Enveloped by bare trees, brittle skeletons with gashes of their own, blighted or struck by lightning, cores hollow.

Frida turns her face to us—defiant death mask. Tail tucked, all four feet off ground. The balmy blue of water and sky, no help. Bent legs so thin, soft underbelly pale. Beneath her, a torn branch, alive for only seconds longer.

II.

In Catholic grade school, I was given a holy card of the martyr St. Sebastian, tied to a tree. Neck, ribs, waist, groin, legs punctured with arrows, face contorted. I crushed it into a fist, flushed it down the toilet.


Karen George Author photo

Karen George is author of five chapbooks, and two collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014) and A Map and One Year (2018). She has appeared in South Dakota Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Louisville Review, and Naugatuck River Review. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters and is co-founder and fiction editor of the online journal, Waypoints. Visit her website or on Twitter: @karenlgeo. 

popping knuckles doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you – Zach Marcum

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Photo: Louis Hansel

have been stealing roommate’s Babybel mini cheese-wheels one by one over the past few weeks.

saw person swooshing metal detector back and forth in the park.

he must’ve thought, “ooh, nice day. I should swoosh my metal detector back and forth in the park.”

felt clear, uninhibited sun on my face for first time in months

thought of texting “I love you” to everyone in my phone.

last week fell in desperate love with girl on Instagram

dmed her “I’m in love w/ you,” around 1:46am.

the bag of Babybel mini cheese-wheels is getting concernedly low.

have been trying to take 3 slow breaths in my car before and after driving.

learned that caterpillar dematerializes in its cocoon, unmakes itself into cells.

squeezed an avocado that made my knuckle pop.

thought of the sometimes troubling intimate relationship I’m in as a non-failure.

popping knuckles is really just nitrogen releasing and doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you.

non-failure because it exists at all.

yesterday saw a car turn onto a one way street in the wrong direction, then quickly reverse back to the junction.

walked home from the park imagining I drove in the near lane when the car turned the wrong way and we hit head on, smashing my teeth into my throat.

closed my eyes and shook my head softly.

tried to explain to two 21 year olds the feeling of your late 20s. the sensation of slipping.

stumbled on the words, self corrected, didn’t say much of anything.

girl on Instagram has not responded to my message.

a person sits behind me in class and watches episodes of hell’s kitchen on his phone with the volume off.


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Zach Marcum is the 2000 dunk contest but in human form.

AFTERMATH + AFTERMATH – Grace Gardiner

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Photo: Satoshi Urakawa

AFTERMATH

like wind         pain takes

……………shape               against body

 

cuts its             portrait

…………..out of in          with flesh

 

the frame         left

…………..when               adrenaline

 

lets                   the outside

………..remind             the skin

 

where              you end

………….there                you begin

 

AFTERMATH

when the woman corrects

……….her should to could

 

…………………….as in you ­______

……………………………..have died

 

……………………you think the swath

…………from c to s-h the payment

 

you might use to rewind

…………your plural wounds

 

……………………the car & you both

……………………………….just two bodies

 

…………………….untethered subsumed

………….by you only

 

to playact the rift

………..one form seeks from another


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Grace Gardiner is a British-American non-binary poet and burgeoning intermedia installation artist. They are currently pursuing their PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri, Columbia, where they live with their partner and one too many brown recluses. Find them online at pearlsthatwere.tumblr.com.

The Hands That Caught Me – Sarah Lilius

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Photo: Eberhard Grossgasteiger

The hands that caught me as I entered
the world were the same hands that examined
me at sixteen, back flattened against a white sheet.

There was no discussion of sexual activity,
birth control, or even menstruation.
This man revered by my mother,

told me I could lose weight, told me
to diet, that in his country
people are hungry.

My own hands clutched the fabric,
tried to not cry the instant
tears that would come hot in the car.

My place in the world
welled inside me like the ghost
of a boulder, great and silent.


Sarah Lilius

Sarah Lilius is the author of four chapbooks, including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017), and Thirsty Bones (Blood Pudding Press, 2017). Her work has appeared in the Denver Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Entropy, and Fourteen Hills. She lives in Virginia with her husband and sons. Her website is sarahlilius.com.

Two Poems — Martina Reisz Newberry

bodyy

Into the Skid

for Alexis Rhone Fancher

The year I lost my virginity,
Marilyn Monroe took her own life.

She’d had it.
She didn’t want it anymore.

She didn’t care about John Glenn
orbiting the earth. She’d orbited

the earth lots of times
with champagne and Nembutal

waltzing elegantly in her magical body.
I cared about orbiting the earth

and figured losing my virginity
would be about the same thing.

We’d been to see “West Side Story”
and our shared grief at Tony’s demise

and Maria’s devastation took us
to the Los Cochinos Motel
(Hourly, Daily, Monthly Rates–Free T.V!).

There, in the aluminum light
of Gunsmoke’s dusty tribulations,

I unbuttoned my blouse,
he unbuttoned his jeans,

I unzipped my skirt,
he took off his socks,
I dug in my purse for a mint,
he dug in his pocket for a condom.

Stripping, I thought,
surely doesn’t take long.

The Beatles were on the radio,
sang “Love Me Do,” and that’s

what I was thinking as he tried
to figure out where to touch me

to unleash my passion. My passion
seemed to want to stay leashed.

The progression from there
is everyone’s story:

the French Kiss,
the hard, close embrace,
the tweaking and the tracing–

that unskilled first dance
that everyone knows.

It took 12 minutes; I counted them,
peering somewhat unsteadily

at my Timex watch–a graduation gift
from my parents. It kept good time.

I must confess, I was unimpressed.
He said, You’ll get to like it the more we do it.

When I told my roommate about it,
she said the whole sex thing was an

orchestrated hoax, laid on women
to keep them encumbered and enslaved.

She said that, during our lifetimes,
there might be a few encounters that would

produce momentary ecstasy, but, to stay sane,
I shouldn’t depend on that

The night we went to see “Dr. No,”
he started to drive in to Los Cochinos again.

I protested. I said, not this time. He said,
The more we do it, the better you’ll like it.

“We?” I thought, “Meaning you and me?
“We?” I thought, and dropped him like a hot rock.

 

White Italian*

When I nudged my IV Pole down the hallway,
I thought of myself as a snail.

The floors–slick and clean–warned me to venture
slowly and leave no trail–I was, after all,

so much lighter than usual and was somewzat
addicted to proving myself.

So, I walked, slowly, looking down at my feet,
wondering how a hospital stay

could take away my warm, soft, sexy feet
and leave these icy, wrinkled, bluelined feet
in their stead.

Then there was the dead end of the hallway,
right smack in front of me
a plane of choices:

go to the right, no go left, no, best to turn around
and go back to my room;

best to let the IV Pole know rest, let a warmed
blanket hide and hug my self.

Really quite ill says the doctor. Really ill for now,
but we’ll get you better.

The snail in me uncurls, straightens out on the bed.
The snail believes in getting better.

* Theba pisana, commonly named the White Garden Snail, is an edible species of medium-sized, air-breathing land snail, a terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk in the family Helicidae, the typical snails. (Source: Wikipedia)


martina

Martina Reisz Newberry is the author of 6 books of poetry. Her  most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of NEVER COMPLETELY AWAKE ( from Deerbrook Editions), and TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME (Unsolicited Press).  She is also the author of WHERE IT GOES (Deerbrook Editions). LEARNING BY ROTE (Deerbrook Editions) and RUNNING LIKE A WOMAN WITH HER HAIR ON FIRE: Collected Poems (Red Hen Press). She has been included in “The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018” (Black Mountain Press/The Halcyone Magazine editorial staff). Newberry has been included in As It Ought to Be, Big Windows, Courtship of Winds, The Cenacle, Cog, Futures Trading, and many other literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. Her work is included in the anthologies Marin Poetry Center Anthology, Moontide Press Horror Anthology,  A Decade of Sundays: L.A.’s Second Sunday Poetry Series-The First Ten Years, In The Company Of Women, Blessed Are These Hands and Veils, and Halos & Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo Colony for the Arts, Djerassi Colony for the Arts, and Anderson Center for Disciplinary Arts. Passionate in her love for Los Angeles, Martina currently lives there with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.

Shrink — Leah Rogin-Roper

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Photo by: Hudson Hintze

I can’t hear you
anymore
talking
about how you
want your body
to look.

Tell me what your body can do
how it
stilled / mountain pose
hiked / hills
sprung / cartwheels
flung / itself
off of
a rock
or a high place

into
a body of water too cold and pure
for swimming

I’ll even listen
to the ways
you want
to train / your body
to learn / something new

to hear / bird songs
or play / chords
hitchhike / roads
navigate / streams

Tell me the miracles
How your body grew / life
healed / broke / recovered / danced / destroyed / cherished

Tell me the frivolous
That your chin / grows
one long dark curly chinhair
at random intervals
how when you are alone you allow
even your hard places to be soft.

Tell me how you slept / somewhere impossible
Or dangled / a toe into
a space you ought not to
How you held so still that some creature mistook your body for grass
And crawled / over you
Tickling

Tell me how it stung
Sang
Prayed
Mourned
Played
Created

Let me see your body in motion like the liquid machine it was meant to be
Jolting hurling throbbing exploring exploding

there are so many verbs
that are more interesting to put next to your body
than
shrink.

Don’t shrink.
Don’t tell me how you shrink.


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Leah Rogin-Roper believes bodies are made for action.  Some of her verbs include hike, snowboard, travel, and write.  Some of those verbs are also nouns.  Her work has recently been published in Progenitor, Blink Ink, and The Rumpus.  She teaches writing at Red Rocks Community College and lives in the mountains west of Denver.    

Cutting Bones – Morgan Ventura

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They cut bones
while their lover saws coconuts.

Lining them up against the brick wall,
there is nothing for the sun to bleach.

Tinny, tenacious shrieks
pierce the air and emit an aria.

Metallic, it leaves a poor taste on the tongue,
the kind of putrid fur no scraper can peel.

The sound of bones primordial
against a backdrop of bold, fuzzy shells

hangs over human heads,
calculating, ruminating, no other than a bored specter.

One person struggles to find meaning,
but is left with the other cradling the saw.

Trapped within the jungle’s fury,
even the bones are not themselves.


Morgan Ventura is a writer and folklorist from the Midwest. Her poetry has appeared in The Raven’s Perch, Really Serious Literature, Ghost City Review and is forthcoming in Clockwise Cat, while her essays have been featured in Jadaliyya and Folklore Thursday. When she is not interviewing archaeologists, she enjoys podcasts, experimental film, and exploring ruins. She splits her time between Oaxaca, Chicago, and the forests of Connecticut.