by Tan Tzy Jiun
Black bark weather in April. The city is half-clothed
in grey skies, lined with fleece. Outside, wreaths of clouds,
near naked bodies foggy with oil paint behind windows. A small dog
or three pulling on the leash. The city is barely emerging from
winter’s blanket. I am ready to burn paper, sacrifice
the newborn child, whatever it takes to lure spring back
into the city walls. The grocery store wakes as the glass door slides
open. It is early. The fruit section is still crowded with bird-sized
pleasures. Oh. The nectarines have returned to the crates,
flown in on birds from the southern hemisphere. Tightly
spanxed, their curvaceous flesh dimple. Red pouches
swell like tender cheeks straining against thin rind. My tongue
gloves its shoulders with viscous spit, I drape the thirst
over hanging breasts of grapefruits and lemons. The blueberries stare
with their grit-filled eyes as I weigh the nectarines and swathe
them in plastic. I weigh the southern half of this sweet earth.
I then weigh the jealousy of the other fruits: the sullenness of wild
pears, the skinniness of purple plums, and my arch enemy—
bananas. I tie the skirt end of the bag filled with smooth
-skinned cheeks. I tell the plane-worn, eye-bagged mangoes
it wasn’t them. It was me. Now the nectarine has returned, I am again
under her spell and no one else’s. I hurry home to guzzle sparkling
water, to wet the inside of my mouth for her skin. Then I eat
and eat on the loveseat, crescent away her full moons,
suck her stomach clean. On the grill pan, rosemary steaks sizzle
alongside lines of white asparagus. An apron hangs around my neck.
My husband returns after work, teeth glinting like caviar.
We feed in eden, my salt-crusted contours and burnt edges
soften in sweet, gravied frenzy. Dessert is next, so I nibble nervously
on my fingers. It is misty April, black with bark. A man knocks on the door,
and then another. They discuss the species of my desire—
To what ends I will yield and dent. Then, we become
a long night that refuses to sun.
Tan Tzy Jiun is a poet and historian from Malaysia. Her work is published and forthcoming in Here: a poetry journal, Stone of Madness Press, Sine Theta Magazine, Quince Magazine, and Eunoia Review, among others. You can find her on twitter tweeting her funny little words on @tzyjiun_
by Amy Bobeda
white lace luminesces a dress free
people made for photo ops in joshua
tree, I’ve never been that kind of tintype
wrapping my arms in leather belly of a black
rail perched on the balcony mapping fran’s yard
in crayon in my little blue book, the sun printing
silk in my lap down at the bar three drunk men ask
if I’m getting married, the actors say yes, climbing
the toy ship mast outside the hardware store where
solace arrives in diameter pitch and wing width
in the study I swivel through five copies of Burn After
Reading, and wonder if Brad Pitt’s death was surprise
or foreshadowing sliding the book next to itself in the
shelf I walk down to the water to pray, slip
out of my white casing into the sea. You follow me
an otter lapping your coat around my legs ruddy freezing
my cheeks against the rising moon my breast blue like
the black rail’s belly reding my eyes shadowlike Cassiopeia
reflects the ripples you fold into, the rising tide threatens
my survival, rarely scene in flight tonight my arms mouth
a map of kelp pods across the milky way, the seaside
town who didn’t want my company.
Amy Bobeda holds an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics where she founded Wisdom Body Collective. She is an editor of More Revolutionary Letters: A Tribute to Diane di Prima. Her work can be read in Entropy, Vol1 Brooklyn, Denver Quarterly and elsewhere. @amybobeda on twitter.
by Raymond Gibson
You will wake toward morning.
There will be no butterflies.
The moth in your hand will shatter
to as many moths as you want.
Raymond Gibson earned his MFA from Florida Atlantic University. He published two chapbooks with Glass Lyre Press. New Ruin, a micro-chapbook, is available now from Ghost City Press. He lives in Hollywood, FL.
by Margaret King
I've always loved hardware stores
Everything in its place
Every item practical,
For needs I hadn't even thought of
His therapist often talked about
Life skills, coping skills
As if life could be faced with a visit to the hardware store
As if they sell levels for minds
And super glue for relationships
And tape measures for invisible distances
Studfinders for singles in search of love
Safety goggles for the comment section
I digress. For us:
A crowbar to pry the lid off this interminable night
And open the lid on dawn
A crowbar to peel back our interminable separation
And let in the light, the happy reconciliation
A language to tell you how alive I was that autumn day overlooking the lake
How alive it all was:
Deer, dragonfly, daisy
And dry wind chimes rustling the blaze leaves
Breadcrumbs that still biodegrade
But only after forever
Painter's tape—of blue so oceanic
It hasn't been seen since the Silurian seas
Covered the Upper Midwest—
That stretches between us like a reel unfolding
Every beautiful moment under summer's moonlight
When white-tailed deer looked like ghosts, silver and shining.
Margaret King is a Wisconsin author who enjoys penning poetry and flash fiction. Her recent work has appeared in Moonchild Magazine and Great Lakes Review. She is also the author of the poetry collection, Isthmus, and has flash fiction forthcoming in MoonPark Review.
by Christopher Arksey
Here’s to you my little mucus-mover,
green-brown Black Jack,
paper-packed sucking stone.
My washed-up relic, breath of fresh patina,
bit of grit with skin as rough
as a trawlerman’s backhand. Not a whiff
of wellbeing about you. Until
your liquorice turns menthol; enough
to flare the nostrils.
Till you’re tongue-smoothed,
suck-sharpened, lashed and brined
and swallowed in the fish sauce of saliva.
Till we meet again
when my nose blows foghorn
and my throat hawks phlegm.
Note: Fisherman’s Friend is a brand of strong menthol lozenges originally developed in 1865 in Fleetwood, a small coastal town in northwest England, to give respiratory relief to deep-sea fishermen. According to the brand, the fishermen began to refer to the lozenges as “friends.”
Black Jack is a brand of aniseed flavour sweets made in the UK.
Christopher Arksey is a writer and voice actor living in Hull, UK. His work is also published in Full House Literary Magazine, forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit and Porridge Magazine, and he’s currently writing his first poetry pamphlet. You can find him on Twitter @chrisarksey.
by Molly Andrea-Ryan
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.
-Sylvia Plath, “The Rival”
Some days, it’s just me and the cat alone
in this yawning apartment. Each night,
we are surprised by the setting sun,
the long shadows climbing the walls
like wallpaper women.
The Kit-Cat Klock, a gift from my mother,
hangs too low. Its pendulum tail tempts
while its eyes slide back and forth,
keeping time in nervous glances.
The cat stretches her elastic body
and in one swipe,
The sound of my own feverish keyboard
in chorus with 100-year-old floorboards
gasping under paws the size of silver dollars—
how easy it would be to swear off language
and bide my time
on all fours.
I think of my mother alone in strange house
after strange yawning house, keeping watch
over something small and pink, packed with explosives
and unvoiced need, each bone and cell a piece
Molly Andrea-Ryan is a poet and prose writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her work often centralizes womanhood and mental health. She received her MA in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University and works as a freelance content writer.
by Dinan Alasad
nile tilapia on Friday
and the house smells
like the river.
my father knows the sea,
he can spot the North Star
on any sky.
when he was my age,
he spent months on a ship.
I remember the faded pictures,
him softer in the face,
half-smiling in stained overalls.
holding his guitar,
like a life-jacket.
he picks at my fish for me,
piles the flesh
in front of me.
about the thorny bits”
“I, also, couldn’t look
dead things in the eye”
he doesn’t say.
Dinan Alasad is a writer, translator and econometrician from Khartoum, Sudan. Her writing has appeared on RE:, 1919, The Drinking Gourd and Trad Magazine. You can find more of her work on her website whenever she gets around to launching it, in shaa Allah. Follow her Twitter @DinanAlasad to catch this imminent launch and any other updates.
by Jeremy Michael Reed
She described him once as “took to wandering.”
The picture I’ve seen of him is drunk
with fishing line, friends, and glass bottles.
This passed down version of him remains.
But then today she tells me he’d come visit.
She remembers him lying in bed with her
to calm her from fear the rain lent her in rhythm
against shingles on the roof, and that he slept
alongside her until she slept. Breath for breath,
each part of him exists, love and all else still
present at once, a combination that has me
returning to his grave, past the Salvation Army,
those waiting out rain under the bridge,
my knowing what stone says and still driving.
Jeremy Michael Reed holds a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee, where he was editor-in-chief of Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts and assistant to Joy Harjo. His poems and essays are published in Still: The Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Western Humanities Review, and elsewhere. He is an associate editor for Sundress Publications and an assistant professor of English for Westminster College in Fulton, MO.
by Chloe N. Clark
at least not from
of overcooked pasta noodles
or missing the sunset or the coffee gone
cool or the papercut from the modem box
I realized that I wouldn’t die
if I died
in my dreams,
that one came young
as I died over and over
in my sleep. I dreamed
of the slip, the waves,
the gun, too much
as a child to ever believe
in the easiness
of living. Though, I have come
to understand that caution is best
served on the side
of chasing moments—a little sprig
to keep you safe but not enough
to hold you in. I realized
I wouldn’t die without
telling you I loved you, without
seeing an alligator, without
once staying up all night
just to watch the sunrise from the other
side of morning. There are so many small
wonders I keep in my pockets
to weigh me down
on days when the realization
doesn’t come easy.
Chloe N. Clark is the author of Collective Gravities, Your Strange Fortune, the forthcoming Escaping the Body, and more. She is co-EIC of Cotton Xenomorph and can be found on Twitter @PintsNCupcakes. She believes “moist” is an important word to describe cake.
by Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson’s most recent books are The Afterlife (Worple Press, 2019) and Deck Shoes, a collection of essays (Impress Books, 2019). In 2015 Anthony published Lifesaving Poems (Bloodaxe Books), after his blog of the same name. www.anthonywilsonpoetry.com