I slip from troubled dreams
into that half-asleep state
where nostalgia often visits.
A magical time of comfort,
suggestion, even whimsy,
where old realities intertwine
with imaginary tomorrows
and wistful impossibilities
becoming welcomed moments
a felicitous reprieve.
Too soon, always too soon,
the icy fingers of an emerging day
reach inside my reverie
gripping me like an insect
ensnared in the spider’s silk.
With desperate reluctance
I grudgingly submit,
the illusion dissipating
as mist to a warming wind.
Walking to another empty day,
I begin, with weary resolve,
to search a thousand yesterdays
for that dusty relic stashed
behind sparkling neon ornaments
of halcyon days and nights,
imperfect mementos of passersby,
even within the chain-draped sarcophagi
of those things best left untouched.
Maybe there will be something,
a recollection hidden or misplaced,
worthy yet of remembrance,
to make this day matter
enough to let me matter still.
But for every glint of light
there is a shadow clinging,
every joy countered by doubt,
each laugh a fresh tear,
any kindness an atrocity.
My search ends as treasure hunts do,
with frustration, angry distraction
and a deflating sense of futility.
Memories, it appears, only matter
to the rememberer in the end
and remembering anything alone
is so damn lonely.
As vivid dawn absorbs me
into encroaching radiance
the unnamable lust rises again.
I recognize it at once,
felt its dark caress before:
when the rocks far below
beckoned with enticing relief;
in the oncoming headlights
of another night traveler
or when this current chapter began
and I pursued it with such zeal.
But I was naïve and tentative
like a teenaged boy the first time.
I know much more now.
The prospect of a long life
filled with this kind of tomorrow
is much more terrifying to me
than an eternity with the dead,
kindred spirits always near
who lie upon me heavily
like a comfortable old sweater
on a chilly fall afternoon.
My thoughts turn to them.
I want to know what they know,
see what they’ve seen when
their forever moment drew them
into its unsympathetic embrace;
when, like frost under of rising sun,
fear and hatred fell away,
pain and worry ended.
I want to know what I’ll see.
Will they all be waiting?
Everyone I loved, wanted to love?
Will I, at last, be home?
I can’t really know
until I join them.
Rick Anderson is incarcerated in Sterling Correctional Facility, Sterling Colorado, where he works in the library,. Writing poetry helps Rick endure the hardships of life in prison, and often returns him to his beloved nature.
There are some rules, like to never wear shoes, that you just refuse to obey. You pick up a piece of wood and start to see it become a hand, but also stay a tree. At night you
anonymously paste drawings of giant babies around your neighborhood. The plaza is still named Generalissimo Francisco Franco, even though it’s over 40 years after the fall of the dictatorship. Gary says to you, “You better look at a gun; you don’t know what a gun really looks like.” So for Valentine’s Day he gets you a plastic AK-47. Pharaoh’s army falls back.
Howie Good is the author of three recent collections, I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books, The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press, and What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press.
Photo: Ashim D’Silva
They’ve got post-modern
coming out the ears and
they can burp up contemporaries
just like that
where have all the French surrealists gone in Denver?
If I threw my shoe into the air
would it turn into a balloon?
They want to contextualize my shoes-
analyze them, analyze me, then compare
them to shoes of the past.
It makes my orangatang want to weep.
Our computers are draining our colors,
no longer can a man simply be
a walrus in a dream –
he must first be shown, first,
the circuits underneath.
Tom Christian is a queer poet currently living and working in Denver Colorado. At night he can be found wandering the streets, conversing with ghosts.
The scene is in middle school, in two separate lines to electric chairs.
They won’t use the electricity. All we do is sit, they inject, and it’s done.
Then we get up and hop on over to the happy place–
a colorful room fluffed with pillows and stuffed
animals, the comfiest pile, the biggest slumber
party. Relax until sleep kicks in.
Before I know it, I’m next in line.
We’ve been chatting for a while, me and a tall, brown girl
who’s called up before me. Cheerily, she says she’ll see me soon. She means heaven.
Oh yeah, I say, casually. Casualties in the comfy room
didn’t occur to me. I’m called up next, and I’m at ease.
As I stroll to my death, a little thought asks,
But what about the novel? I realize I’m not ready to die.
I have a novel to write. The nurses, once so nice,
reveal themselves to be witches, escaped sirens from my story.
Lightning spews from their fingers when I run.
Ellen Huang is a cape-wearing mortal living her best life, with a BA in Writing & Theatre minor from Point Loma Nazarene University. She’s been known to possess vast knowledge of myths and fairy tales, as well as practically live in a prop closet full of exotic decorations. She has pieces published in Sirens Call, Wax Poetry and Art Magazine, HerStry, Diverging Magazine, Awkward Mermaid, Enchanted Conversation, Writers Ink, Between the Lines, Quail Bell Magazine, Ink & Nebula, Rigorous Magazine, Whispers, The Folks, Hummingbird Magazine, The Driftwood, The Gallery, and Perfume River Poetry Review. She enjoys reenacting movie scenes, burning things, and swimming in the sea. Follow if you wanna: worrydollsandfloatinglights.wordpress.com
Art: Steve Johnson
the world is much more wonderful when you think that it is
the world is much more wonderful you can think that
think the world is wonderful and it is much more wonderful
you think the world is wonderful but it is much more wonderful
than you think the world is more wonderful if you think it is
the whirl is munch munch, one of the four with your shrink wrap it is
various things create a vertigo.…………..yes it is
Cherie is blurry weary
worry is sorry
fluid flowing flute flipping
flicks leap end flap
varied things create a vertigo
you think the world is
wonderful but it is
vertical…………..then vitriol…………..then vigil
a vertigo as in heightened contrast
as in soft soft soft…………hard
as a confuse……..new view that feels
everything written on water
a room of water
I flounder…………for the words
try to flinch in water
try to have a scare try to have a
Leah White is an MFA candidate at University of Colorado Boulder. Originally from Tempe, Arizona, she currently teaches creative writing, works on Timber Journal, and runs a reading series in Boulder.
Photo: Siyan Ren
and when you pull over, you’re still screaming,
hands held shaking in front of you like the skin
of them must not be real. my body hurled into
your windshield like mid-autumn hailstorm. my body
leaves streaks of blood and feathers and blindsided
desecration. my body the railroad tracks and
the trainwreck. the punching bag and the percussion
instrument. the pigeon queen, at once both sickness
and softness. you’re stumbling out of your vehicle,
sobs chiming from your throat. you see from
far away a mash of gray and white and red and bone.
tell yourself you can look at me up close. the carnage,
and the tenderness vomited from its mouth. there is
a strange grief inside you and you don’t know how
to free it from your ribs. there was a grief inside me,
and it spills an ocean on this asphalt.
Wanda Deglane is a night-blooming desert flower from Arizona. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and attends Arizona State University. Her poetry has been published or forthcoming from Rust + Moth, Glass Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, and Yes Poetry, among other lovely places. Wanda is the author of Rainlily (2018), Lady Saturn (Rhythm & Bones, 2019), Venus in Bloom (Porkbelly Press, 2019), and Bittersweet (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2019).
Photo: Chris Slupski
I ask a friend if she can remember the last time that the stars and moon hatched from a golden egg. She doesn’t answer straightaway, just tucks a stray comma of hair back behind her ear. Because it’s one in the morning, the darkness outside is more like a solid than a liquid or a gas. I’m suddenly really tired of struggling to stay awake. The answer comes later, when I read in the paper that they sliced open a dead whale that had washed ashore and found in its belly plastic cups, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and two flip-flops.
Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn (Alien Buddha Press, 2019)
Photo: Edu Lauton
After Claire C. Holland’s “Thomasin”
Dead roots from an infertile farmland
wither all around her
She is the only sprouting thing for miles
in this muted abandoned wood
Her ripening lips wish for stained glass,
butter, and a pretty dress
She left her heart in an established
country across the sea, unwilling
pilgrim bound by a parent’s faith
She shivers as an outcast, unsnared traps
leave her stomach broken, the whisper of
the dark side growing louder. Kill the roots,
they say. Kill the roots.
December Lace is a former professional wrestler and pinup model from Chicago. She has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Molotov Cocktail, Pussy Magic Lit, The Cabinet of Heed, Awkward Mermaid, Vamp Cat, and Rhythm & Bones YANYR Anthology, among others. She loves Batman, burlesque, cats, and horror movies.
Photo: Meriç Tuna
i run into wolves running
into me into mirrors into
switchbacks into endless
forests along endless rivers
i run into wolves running
into walls into hiding into
rebirth into fires in rooms
that they may not ever find
i run into wolves running
into death into memory
into the precision of a
scalpel into the western west
and therein i die and i die
and i run and i die and i
see it there on the shelves
the dust attracted to the
light like moths attracted
to fire like wolves attracted
to movement to packs to
new mentality until they too
die. and i too die. and if
not now then when and
if not now then when?
we are ghosts. then when?
ghost #13 is something something something. they are from somewhere, sometime. this one is dedicated to someone someone, another ghost, i’m sure.
Photo: Ruslan Bardash
He said that we became one under the sun sipping arizona tea,
chasing the heather reeds and marrying ourselves off to the ships as they sail into the indigo silk.
I saw our symphony in wearing each other’s clothes and getting lost in each other’s hair,
swinging under the pale moonlight on a child’s castle we wish we had known when we were young.
I suppose time saw us in watching as your pink and my green paint the sky every night from our tattered windowsill covered in lyrics and terracotta children,
you laying in the empty bathtub while i was singing about a place we’d never been and an adventure we’d never had
It doesn’t matter, because we agree that most of all it happened through spending hours in silence making faces and laughing at the things we love most.
You and I were too busy getting lost in each others’ angelic faces
brightening and rising and sinking as we lay underneath the water damaged ceiling
spilling paint on the unfinished kitchen floor and dancing in the puddles left behind
holding a cigarette neither of us will ever smoke
To smell the scent of linens and strawberry fields and sweat
To regret glancing at your photograph lined walls
To feel the scraps brushing against my thigh as I try to sleep
To miss chasing geese in the park under a grey sky
To notice a love that stood unscathed by the courtney and kurt costumes hanging in our closet
But by the time we did
It was too late for us.
I remember dancing on one another’s toes because of our four left feet
crying when we laugh
finding an old trunk of fancy ladies’ clothes and dressing up for poptarts and tea
that feeling that one moment is never enough
dreams of each other we never talk about but hold so close
But I forgot about the buttercups falling into your eyes
sharing sunglasses and the color pink
freckles dusting our self expression
I suppose I don’t regret filming our home movies on vhs’s even though we could use something more modern
because otherwise I never would have watched these.
I was always annoyed by those glasses you stole from your dad that always fall onto your fairy-nose
the memorial for michael jackson in the corner of your bedroom
socks that hang off your toes
But even still I can never comprehend why you always smelled like the forest even though you never go outside
the dinosaur that your little brother left for me
Or our obsession with eighties cereal commercials
So I’ll focus on the day we sat on the edge of the bridge and threw petals at the ocean
writing songs together about dead celebrities
and feeling like we are one and pining over the time we missed before we met
because those times are enough
to make me miss you.
Bio: Sophia Jones is an artist, writer, musician an collector of memories. She has spent her childhood chasing imaginary friends and dreams, and in return has written many tales and poems mimicking the euphoric feeling of imagination. She is currently studying to become an art therapist, and aspires to someday publish a full collection of poetry, melodies, and scraps of inspiration found in the glances between strangers.
Photo: Jakob Owens