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)

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.  

Naked | Abhishek Todmal

Image: Steve Johnson

Naked

I finally stood, happy at disrobement
Brought about by some principalities
Some fundamental truths not escaped
Alone, free, tied to each being
Nakedness in the forming.
I tried to put a stop to it
Afraid once, though only once
Allowing layer upon layer to melt
Slither away into better forms –
Serve better suited seekers
And quickly I latched on to the fact of my emblazoned bare
Such a funny patch; so many distinct markings – though all in all a large converging pink Naked, as naked as one may be.

Abhishek Todmal is a writer based in Pune, India. He is currently working on his first novel – a piece of comedic fiction.  His poetry has most recently been featured in an issue of DASH Literary Journal. Amongst other things, he enjoys keeping active and loitering aimlessly under the sun.

A poem which may be mistaken for the thank you letter I read out loud to the funders of the prestigious fellowship I won last summer, a fellowship which did absolutely fuck all to save my Autistic Black Muslim Body from being interrogated by those CBP/TSA terrorists at the airport | Said Shaiye

Image: Steve Johnson

A poem which may be mistaken for the thank you letter I read out loud to the funders of the prestigious fellowship I won last summer, a fellowship which did absolutely fuck all to save my Autistic Black Muslim Body from being interrogated by those CBP/TSA terrorists at the airport

  • It strikes me as odd that this school, this fellowship, has no protocols in place for students that are forcibly interrogated at the border. I guess I shouldn’t expect much from an institution, and I guess I should bite my tongue and do the polite thing, talk about how amazing my trip was. But my trip was not amazing. It was fraught, painful, nerve-wracking. I was sick from the moment I got there to the moment I left. I walked into all types of bureaucratic walls—people not believing I was actually there to do research, and so forth. Worst of all, when I needed medical help, I had to pay out of pocket because the insurance was a formality. Oh sure, they reimbursed me for the expenses, but only partially. The idea of a medical evacuation was dangled before me, but I quickly lost hope in that. I was sick to my stomach the day I boarded my return flight, cutting my trip a full month short. Besides pain, all I had on my mind was TSA/CBP. Would they harass me? Where is home for someone like me? I am an Autistic Somali Man traveling from Kenya—that’s a perfect terrorist profile I fit. 20 Some hours later, I arrived in the states. They ask me pedantic questions about my research and MN Nice me with “good for you.” They do all this as they shuffle me into a tertiary screening line, confronted by lazy feds with mustard stains on their plaid shirts. I know what questions they want to ask me, because I’ve seen this movie before. But I refuse to answer their questions. I watch the older Somali man – the only other person asked to go to this special line before we can leave the airport – duck his head and smile and comply with their hellacious line of questioning. I stand my ground like a Zimmerman defense. But I am also weak. I can barely stand. They threaten to go through my luggage down to the underwear. To confiscate my devices and see who I’ve been talking to. We can do this the easy way or the hard way, they tell me. I can feel my heartbeat racing every time I recall this memory. There are no words to describe how livid I was when I finally got home—after answering their stupid questions, knowing I had no choice, feeling like a failure for acquiescing. I emailed my contacts at the university, both in my department and at the fellowship. There were a bunch of emails back and forth, a lot of concern and apologizing, but I knew nothing would come of it. I knew I would not see justice, just as I knew I was labeled a terrorist from a piece of shit country the moment I was born. I reached out to CAIR, the ACLU, filed formal complaints with CBP. Nothing nothing nothing came of any of it. All of this reinforced the idea that my life is worthless. Absolutely meaningless. And that is why I do the work I do, write the way I do, and live the way I do. I have no choice. I wish I could say I’ll be applying for this fellowship again. I have no reason to. And if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t have applied in the first place. Thanks for your time.

*Author’s Note: All of this really happened, from the events in the poem, to my reading this to the people who partially funded my trip. I was supposed to be more grateful, I guess? Funny, I’ve never felt good about thanking white people for anything, least of all a few measly dollars. Sometimes poems are all we have to cuss people out with. And if they wanna cuss back, well, I guess they’ll have to learn how to write poetry first. That’s a joke. Laugh./

Said Shaiye is an Autistic Somali Writer & Photographer. His debut book, Are You Borg Now? was a 2022 Minnesota Book Award Finalist in Creative Nonfiction & Memoir. He has contributed essays to the anthologies Muslim American Writers at Home, The Texas Review’s All-Poetry Issue, and We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World. He has published poetry & prose in Obsidian, Brittle Paper, Pithead Chapel, 580 Split, Entropy, Diagram, Rigorous, Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where he was a Graduate Instructor of Creative Writing, as well as a Judd International Research Fellow. He teaches writing to Autistic kids through Unrestricted Interest, as well as in the English Departments of several colleges in the Twin Cities.

This poem is from South Broadway Press’ new anthology, 
Dwell: Poems About Home. Purchase here.

Untitled | Miriam Sagan

Image: Fr. Daniel Ciucci

Untitled

it’s no longer the Elysian Fields, this
barrio, but the shrine of the sinner is
still decorated in the pocket park
across from the elementary school
and the bakery

El Tiradito may be crumbling
but notes from the heartbroken still
decorate the grave of the unknown
some say a man
killed in a knife fight
over a woman
buried on unconsecrated ground
as doves wheel from the
cathedral

wishes on slips of paper
pushed between adobe bricks
a panhandler asked for
money but I refused
walking away from the great altar
of the Virgin of Guadalupe

I’m neither wholly good nor
bad I don’t even try anymore
to be myself
because I don’t know
who that is
although I did buy a slice
of jelly roll and two
doughnuts at Estrella’s

and all that is left
at the bottom of the paper
bag is crumbs
but whether for birds
or wind—
you tell me—
I can’t decide

Miriam Sagan is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and memoir. Her most recent include Bluebeard’s Castle (Red Mountain, 2019) and A Hundred Cups of Coffee (Tres Chicas, 2019). She is a two-time winner of the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards as well as a recipient of the City of Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and a New Mexico Literary Arts Gratitude Award. She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, Yaddo, MacDowell, Gullkistan in Iceland, Kura Studio in Japan, and a dozen more remote and interesting places. She works with text and sculptural installation as part of the creative team Maternal Mitochondria in venues ranging from RV Parks to galleries. She founded and directed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement.

Mein Traum / My Dream | Cristina A. Bejan

Image: Kitae Kim

My Dream
English Translation

She stands there, clearly, near me
A girl, not so small
Ten years or more
I think
Also blonde
With brown eyes
Same as me
And she speaks to me in German
No English?
I say
No.
Why young lady
We are not in Germany
Nobody here knows German
I have to know German
She tells me
I have to write in German
What did you write then?
My dreams
And nobody can see
Just me
And now you
I am just a foreigner in your life
No.
You are my dream
In the United States, I dreamed of you in German
And I wrote everything down
At that moment, I realized
That girl and me – we
Are the same woman
And I remember very well why I couldn’t write in English
In my American West
My American mother would read everything
And my Romanian father was telling me
Green horses on the walls
And suddenly I see clearly
That the dreams I wrote down at age 10
Have all come true
I cannot believe that
But am I simply happy
And also a little alone with myself
And together with this world

Mein Traum
Original German

Sie steht da, klar, in meiner Nähe
Ein Mädchen, nicht so klein
Seit zehn Jahre oder so
Ich glaube
Auch blond
Mit braunen Augen
Das gleich wie ich
Und sie spreche zu mir auf Deutsch
Kein English?
Sag ich
Nein.
Wie so Liebling?
Wir sind nicht in Deutschland
Niemand hier kennt Deutsch
Ich muss Deutsch kennen
Sie mir sagt
Ich muss auf Deutsch schreiben
Was hast du dann geschrieben?
Meine Träume
Und niemand kann sehen
Nur ich
Und jetzt du
Was ist dann passiert?
Ich bin nur Ausländer in dein Leben
Nein.
Du bist mein Traum
In der Vereinigte Staaten hab ich an dich auf Deutsch getraumt
Und ich hab alles geschrieben
In diesen Moment, mir war klar
Das dieses Mädchen und ich
Sind die gleiche Frau
Und ich erinnere mich sehr warum ich konnte auf English nicht schreiben
In meinem Amerikanische West
Meine Amerikanische Mutter wurde alles lesen
Und meine Rumänisch Vater wurde mir sagen
Grüne Pferde an den Wänden
Und plötzlich sehe ich klar
Das meine Träume geschriebt auf nur zehn Jahren
Sind ganz passiert
Ich kann das nicht glauben
Aber bin ich einfach glücklich
Und auch ein bisschen allein mit meinen Selbst
Und zusammen mit dieser Welt

Cristina A. Bejan is an award-winning Romanian-American historian, theatre artist, and poet. A Rhodes and Fulbright scholar, she is a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Bejan received her DPhil (PhD) in Modern History from the University of Oxford. A playwright and spoken word poet (her stage name is Lady Godiva), her creative work has appeared in the US, UK, Romania, and Vanuatu. In addition to many scholarly articles, she has published a poetry book (Green Horses on the Walls), history book (Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania), and a play in Voices on the Move (eds. Radulescu and Cazan).

The Nuthatches | Tricia Knoll

Image: Nikita Nikitenko

The Nuthatches

I pretend the red-breasted nuthatches
know what you might have said beneath
the plum tree last spring before your cell
phone rang and you took the call that said
your mother had only hours left
to live so you ran to your Subaru
and took off for Boston and left me
holding the thread of a message
that might have been only connection
and which I wanted to be love,
the kind of love that makes
swallows dive and nuthatches
hang upside down.

Now these little birds flit about
in winter’s snow, back and forth
above where we sat on a blue fleece
blanket, and they tweet what you haven’t,
that you miss me and will get back as soon
as you can. You have had the estate
to manage for your wayward sister
and her addictions which you feel
responsible for now that neither of you
have a parent, no one in the old house
to hold things together.

Your family tree snapped.
Your sister floated off like letters
let go into the wind. Invoices
you never intend to pay. The sketch
you made of me with my blouse
hanging off my shoulder
when the sun’s warmth gave me
hope that you felt the same
correspondence I do; we are meant
to be together. And my breast
was warm, wanting to be touched;
breast cancer took her. Maybe
your genes are faulty.

Those little birds continue our talk
in the crotch of the trees.
Bluejays push them away
from the feeder, but they return
all flibbertigibbet, so here
I’ve drawn a nuthatch
on a postcard and colored the breast pink
to say spring will come again and
I am still here for you, hearing
nuthatches tuck away what they need
for later.

Tricia Knoll is an aging poet living alone in the woods in Vermont on the unceded land of the Abenaki. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her recent collection Checkered Mates (Kelsay Books) focuses on relationships that work and those that don’t. Website: triciaknoll.com

Twitter: @triciaknollwind