Johanna C. Dominguez

In the Silence, She Knows She's Home

She sweeps snow off the porch, buries
the mummified carcass of a bird found

on a windowsill. Hugs the silver maple.
When there's no time for hugs,

a stroke. Taps pink poppy seed pods
once the flower is spent. Peels back

ivy from foundations. Tears down crumbled
fences. Builds new ones. Lays brick borders.

She moves each bag of stone
with ungloved fingers to build

a history of calluses in her hands.
In her joints. She brushes cobwebs

from the rafters. Keeps coffin nails
in her pocket. Learns where to tickle

the doors to entice them to open.
Grazes her knuckles on plaster

with each rhythmic scrape. She unearths
schooners, tea kettles, cities of castles,

as she peels back layers of walls. She learns
the language of each floorboard. The chips and scars

in every molding. Which floor holds
the finest galaxy of nail pricks that glint

in the sunset. In rafters, she finds prayers,
bodies, half dime libraries. She knows
which rooms her sighs echo loudest –

 


Johanna C. Dominguez is a poet, photographer, and activist that tries to incite change and conversation through her work. She received her Master’s in Fine Arts from Sarah Lawrence College. Johanna founded Bee Social, a social media strategy business based in Buffalo. Her work has appeared in The Cortland Review, Mississippi Review, Drunken Boat, and other publications.

Arthur J. Willhelm

beer shits.

another night of
loading my
gut with beer
and finding
comfort in a
spinning room

a tom waits
serenade
and
loneliness
sets in

the idea of
writing to
no one

even my words
have a fucking
headache.


Arthur J. Willhelm is a New Jersey based writer/poet and founder/sole proprietor of Iron Lung Press. Recently, Arthur released a book of poetry hate is just love on fire, blast fiction novel kitchen beers, and chapbook this chapbook is drunk not me.

Kathleen Gregg

The Round Table at Buddha Lounge

Post lunch rush, 
Buddha Lounge morphs
into our own private dining room.  
Writers, we serve up language
as delicious to us
as the wasabi-infused soy sauce, 
shaved ginger, 
sweet chili shrimp, 
Korean tacos, 
sushi.   As nourishing

as our Edward Hopper view:
The narrow, one-way slant
of Mill Street wedges cars
into metered parking slots. 
A curbside row of dumpsters, 
New York City style, 
spoils the storefront
of Goodfella’s Pizza.  
An aproned cook leans against
one of two outdoor tables
and smokes.  
A trickle of pedestrians
traffic by.

This place inspires us.  Ideas
are chop-sticked into
our mouths, chewed up
and swallowed.  Laughter
drops onto our laps.  We pat
our lips with weaves of poetry.  

We are hip and we know it; 
retired professional women,
exploring new menus. 
Age is incidental.  It just pays
the tip.


Kathleen Gregg has found a literary home within the vibrant writing community of Lexington, Kentucky.  She studied under poet Jeff Worley through the Author Academy at Carnegie Center.  Her poems have been published in Lady Literary Magazine, The Avocet, and in two anthologies by Workhorse Publishing, among others.

Rachel Robles

My Sister, Asylum

There is no safe place. 
Every kiss is a lie—
staining the pavement beneath you—
jostling your bare feet.

There is no place to write your poetry,
so speak it to the air.

Turn your belt into a Crown.
Call her Asylum
Sing her stone monologue:
Bricks of hysteria.

She is your Sister.
She is the one who holds your neck
to stop you from
blowing away in the wind.

She fills your pockets when you are not looking. 
She holds your hands when you are.
She sees the bear who sleeps at the entrance of your room;
el anillo que lleva en el dedo,
Que parece como una bandera para los banditos
.
 
Stop.-
So your movement is not readable.

Pour milk into the spaces of construct. 
Call anything, at all times,
and tell yourself
that you don’t have to take comfort in the hurt.
 


Mandragora     (primer libro)

Tengo un arbolito en mi mano.
Está muerto,
y antigua, y sencilla, 
              pero es mío

No me atrevo
ver la mirada.
Sino ponerlo
encima mi hombro.

Hace una raíz
            en mi
y eso esta podrido. 
Pero     sigo pensando 
            que algun día
            se bebere mi sangre-
del tal manera,
que se puedes ser 
                                   feliz.


Rachel Robles is A Brooklyn native and longtime resident of Buffalo. She has a degree in psychology and a certification in creative writing from the University at Buffalo. She's currently pursuing her graduate degree in counseling psychology. Rachel is the recipient of the Academy of American poets prize (2017), the Albert Cook, Mac Hammond, John Logan prize, and the Scribblers prize for poetry. Her most recent publications can be found in The Buffalo News, Iconoclast, and in the anthology My Next Heart: New Buffalo Poetry.

Sara Parrott

Mother Daughter Smoke Rings

Mother leaves
her cigarette at rest,
it burns the lip
of our stainless
kitchen sink.

Mother polishes
her fingernails
fire-engine red.
She doesn’t puff,
but the ashen end
inches toward us.
    
Mother leaves
the baby’s bassinette,
the cries of my
sister cradled.

A crimson flame
sparks within,
the little match
extinguishes.


Sara Parrott’s poetry has appeared in Nine Mile Magazine and on several posters printed by The Syracuse Poster Project. She has a Master’s Degree in English from Binghamton University.

Mikayla Davis

Not all Stories are Worth the Stars

My mother saw the sun take cover
behind the hotel vacancy sign
for the last time when I was fifteen.
Her breath climbed forward
from the black steel railing
into the winter air, looking every part
the milky way against the bruising
sky. Her cigarette flickered red
at the tip of her fingers, a satellite
pulsing in the night in time
with her failing lungs.

I want to tell her that I remember
the way her calloused hands
braided stories in the strands
of my tangled hair, that the gold
smoke stains dripping from our walls
were whispered lullabies
she wanted us to hear, but all I know
is her silence, like the echo
of moonlight on the snow,
a sort of comfort in the absence.


Mikayla Davis is a MFA candidate from the University of Central Arkansas, where she currently teaches Introduction to Creative Writing. She has a BA in English from Eastern Washington University and has poems published in Railtown Almanac, The Wire Harp, CandleLit, Gold Dust, and others.

DS Maolalai

Colette.

she wrote all these books
about france and
french life,
all these prostitutes
and people out in rags
and people who were well dressed
and beautiful
and young
or old
and well dressed 20 years out of date.
and she could tell
all those americans a thing or two about paris.
and she could tell a character
from someone who just wanted to be one.
and you got this sense in all her books
that she was just describing people she had met
instead of bothering to make a story.
sometimes she would tell the same story twice
in a different way
or the same way
and the names would be changed
but the story would be the same
because people aren't that different really
one to one
except that sometimes they are old music hall singers
and sometimes children at the beach
but they want things
and they want sex in a way that must have been refreshing in the 20s
they want lunch and champagne
and to be seen in silhouette
looking out into the water.
she married a man 14 years older than her
and he took all the money from the first four books
and they both had affairs and she had
lesbian affairs
that he encouraged.
and when it ended it was because
among other things
it turned out she had been sleeping with his son as well.
she was famous in france and swallowed up in english
and when she died they wouldn't bury her a catholic
because of the affairs
but france still gave her their best honors
and nobody outside of there ever talks about her
or places her anywhere
except in well worn books in translation you sometimes find
cluttering the shelves of second hand bookshop


DS Maolalai recently returned to Ireland after four years away, now spending his days working maintenance dispatch for a bank and his nights drinking wine. His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden, was published in 2016 by the Encircle Press. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

George Guida

Now Is That, Love?

My high school girlfriend, 

so Eighties Cool
she unveiled tofu
in her fridge
to say
It lives in water       


ordered me
sushi in a new
resutoran
Indian-styling
on her tatami. 

In her bedroom of posterless walls
                                      she heckled
                                      make-up and lace

           screened me
                                      “Repo Man” 
                                      and loved that
                                      nobody cared

 
coaxed images
from toxic darkroom baths 

because she didn’t want to live
past fifty-nine

shot burnouts
in parking lots and snotty
little sisters flipping birds
                                                    mailed them
                                                    to kids we knew
 

letters addressed to names
that sounded like their names
if you were stoned 

letters threatening lawsuits
unless they admitted
connections to the accused.


She gave me a photo:
herself with cat in arms. 
which I drew the best I could

and handed her the sketch
before the final bell.

She may have believed me
when once or twice I said

I loved her
so she bent my finger
back, and asked
Now is that love? 


and did it again
the year we met grown up
with houses and spouses
and sons and daughters,
a Squeeze song playing
in both our heads

and I asked her
as she pushed a little harder,
Now, Love, don’t you know?


George Guida is the author of eight books, including four collections of poems—PugilisticThe Sleeping GulfNew York and Other Lovers, and Low Italian. His recent work appears in Aethlon, J Journal, the Maine Review, Mudfish, Poetry Daily, the Tishman Review, and Verse Daily. He teaches at New York City College of Technology, and serves as an advisory editor to 2 Bridges Review.

 

John Franklin Dandridge

reflective thought wave

She whispers, “Timber… timber… timber, timberrr.”
Though it’s not clear if I’m the axe or the tree until the metaphor
is over and I’ve fallen through a bottomless pit under her pillow. 
But my hands are tied to strings, strings that are tied to her fingers. 
And I’ve mapped out a trail back to my thought wave
from the reflection of her cheek bending in the glass on the night stand
to the heat from her flesh coasting off her forehead. 
Her hair is tethered to her ancestors who
were born into tiny computers. And they’re sending us
warnings to retreat beneath the sheets until the human
race is ready to start over from scratch. 
I can’t make the blanket of what happens next. 
One minute, I’m clinging to a patch of naked mattress, 
attaching booby traps to our hearts, so if we ever tear apart, 
we’ll really tear apart. And in the next, she leads
me to the bed’s edge, where she swears there’s a rift
in between what’s real and what’s really real. If
we act quickly, we can access the precious data that’s hidden
on microchips between our teeth. She grits hers, 
then whispers, “Timber.” 
Though this time, the tree happens to be
every tree in America. And it’ll take the lot of them to build
a labyrinth intricate enough to hide it. Cuz you know. Once one calls
it the truth, the truth gets out. It gets sold. Pretty soon it becomes a lie. 
And then folks really begin to believe it, when it’s best
not to refer it as anything at all. Knowing that, I guess it’s the difference between being woke and being awake. Shit, knowing that, it’s perhaps best to pretend
to be asleep. So I’m wrapping these strings
around my neck, not the lumberjack, nor the axe, tying these strings to
a branch of the tree. But she gets me hip to her secret tunnel that digs
from her pajama bottoms up the through the doghouse. This
only gets us as far as the mailbox, but her mailbox has transcended
to the other side of town. Now, anonymous in the midst of yesterday’s
people who pray to the same god devils pray to, who watch some clock that sits
in between the most photographed tits in the city, this is only the beginning. 
My pocket protector’s getting all political about tossing
all these soft bullets. But I’m not so much a good, honest man who’ll keep lies
to himself, or tell children it’s too late for ice cream. 
Perhaps I’ll be more strict with our descendants. So, “Oh baby, please
don’t go on that picnic.” Never mind. “Oh baby, please take me with you on that picnic. 
I promise not to cuss in public. I’m gonna tie our wrists to that comet. 
Just tell me where to leave my toothbrush.”

 


John Franklin Dandridge received his M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. His chapbook, Further Down Rd., was published in 2010 by Fast Geek Press. He has poems published in past issues of Callaloo Journal and Former People among others. Franklin lives and writes near the North Pond in Chicago.

Ailey O’Toole

The Things I Can't Tell You

I want to say I’m sorry
about your dad, because mine
is always leaving, too, and
I know how hard it is,
to be the one left behind. 
I want to say tell me about
the heartbreak,
the one that drove you to
boxing, the one from the poems. 
I want to say let me tell you
about the heartbreak
that drove me to a bottle
of klonopin, plus a handful
of thirty other pills, or let me
tell you about the boy who
convinced me I should be
anyone but myself. 
I want to say tell me what
you’re scared of, because I’m scared
of bikes, of car accidents,
of dying alone. I want to say
tell me what you want from me,
tell me where you see this going
because that’s something I’m scared
of, too. But I’ve spent so long
being told to not feel, being told
not to talk about feeling,
that I don’t know if I could
ever say all of this. Maybe
that’s why I’m writing this poem:
so I can slip it under your
pillow, hope you’ll find it in
the morning, hope you’ll read
it, hope you’ll want me, still.

 


Ailey O'Toole is a queer poet and bartender who writes about empathy, pain, and feminism. She hopes everyone who reads her poems can find a piece of themselves in them and feel a little less alone. Her work has previously appeared in The Odyssey, The Broke Bohemian, After the Pause, and forthcoming from the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. You can follow her adventures @ms_ocoole.

Lana Bella

Hungry Ghost

Here you are, in Philadelphia,
dressed as the red scruff of
the winter beard, feeling the sky
on an impossible street. Soon
enough you'll know the curried
haste of hostility in stalks of
trees like you are sick with love.
Dark is roomy here; sloe skin
blitz to net something in return,
holding traces of latitude lines
whetting through asphalt. On way
to reminding time of its poise
and prowl, you lift pipelines
from your sternum cold, claying
feet to a somber strut. You of
the duller teeth, breathe breaths
stirring the shoal ends of tongue,
rolling in saltwater tides of a black
night returning to dust, warring
down whitely the way a heart
turns down, radiant, feral, sudden.

 


Lana Bella is a four-time Pushcart Prize, five-time Best of the Net & Bettering American Poetry nominee, and is the author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016). Lana has had poetry and fiction featured with over 450 journals, including Acentos Review, Comstock Review, EVENT, Ilanot Review, Notre Dame Review, Rock and Sling, The Stillwater Review, Sundress Publications, Whiskey Island, and Volume 3 of Aeolian Harp Anthology.

 

Brandon Marlon

American Massacre

We the people enjoy the inalienable right
to be slain in cold blood like fodder
in our various streets, schools, campuses,
cinemas, and concert venues,
even at any hour of day or night,
with readily obtained weapons of war
in the hands of arms-bearing civilians
though they be livid, bitter, depressed, insane,
or (to cover their bases) all of the above,
because it was for this very reason
that our nation's founding fathers
toiled by the dawn's early light
to plant the bullet-spangled banner
and bring forth on this continent a new nation,
establishing these colonies and territories
as the land of the free gunned down
and the home of the brave grieving,
that military grade semi-automatic and automatic
assault rifles and ammo magazines
shall not have been purchased in vain,
so that shooting sprees and mass slaughter
shall not perish from the earth.
May God the NRA continue to bless hold hostage
these United States of America


Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 250+ publications in 28 countries. Find him at www.brandonmarlon.com.

Gustavo Rivera

For some reason I’m sick on Monday

For some reason I’m sick on Monday
runny nose and long-term headache
yet Sunday wasn’t as fun as I’d thought it’d be
for some reason I’m drinking alone
though the movie I watched afterwards was pretty good
and so was that burger and fries I ate.
I did so many things between arriving and watching the movie about Rodriguez
I walked through a park in-between a children’s school and a street lined with houses
I hid in the darkness and smoked for a while and there were two girls
and I wondered if they were wondering about me, about scaring each other
I drank espresso coffee and ate ice cream.
I saw a show afterwards, but I didn’t see you
and the bike ride home, it’s finally getting cold again.
Those hills can seem so long sometimes
today’s the day after, where are you?


Gustavo Rivera is a radical educator, feral dog, Boricua Bestial, and former Master Courier. He teaches and lives in New York City.

Kristin Garth

Southern Gothic Ghosts

You know your life is southern gothic when,
rereading Faulkner, the corncob rapist
goes home to Pensacola, your hometown. 
And you’re thinking how did I forget this? 
Then you consider how you got this book:
A proffer, feminist lit, only boy,
ensnares with tentacle hair, half-baked looks
through you.  Your peeks, two weeks, decoy
trilogy, Snopes, provoke his gift.  “Believe
you’re more a Sanctuary girl.”  Must read
to understand.  Destroy but not deceive,
his plan.  He lets you know that you will bleed. 
Is it him, yourself you despise the most?
Two descendants, southern gothic ghosts?

 


Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker.  Her sonnets have stalked the pages of Anti-Heroic Chic, Occulum, Neologism Poetry Journal, Ghost City Review, Drunk MonkeysMidnight Lane Boutique, and many other publications.  Pink Plastic House, her poetry dollhouse chapbook, is available from Maverick Duck Press (maverickduckpress.com). Follow her on Twitter @lolaandjolie.

Amanda Oaks

Lei or Choke Chain

I throw your name     around my neck
all the blood     in body     quickens     
waterfront eyes     catch     backwater stare     
dreams of     brine     barge     bay     out     
& at     the mouth of     always     & never     
the target     bullet shy     wears     roundabout     
like halo     like circular     lifting off     in
the wind     the strength     of feelings     
a throwaway     but     from what     & where     
honey     drips slow     like sleep     it off     
wake up     to head     a boat     of buzz     
bombilation     between legs     flowers     
drumming for     the sting     the backtalk     
sliding from     the brim     of your bottom     
lip     it wasn’t until     looking into your eyes
felt like my breath     was being     buried
inside your chest     that  I noticed     the way     
my hands     trembled     when     my face     
would     lean in     & mine the air     for
your scent     what     does anyone     do
with all of this     anyway     I’d ask her     
but     the yank      might break     a neck     
her’s     mine     yours     all of them so    
full     of beg     of     pull off     my petals     
pants     pooch out     lips     or     purse in     
heart     it’s no matter     when     a flowerbed     
can forget     & become     a graveyard— can     
blank out     without     saying

 


Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance, an independent press + biweekly online poetry journal. Her work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, decomP, Lunch Ticket, & Stirring, among others. She is the author of five poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014), her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014), & her series of free eChapbooks. Her newest chapbook, The River is Everywhere, was published by Red Flag Poetry in 2017. You can follow her on http://amandaoaks.com.

Michael Prihoda

Drywall

We tore down the drywall. Parker lit a cigarette absently in that way you could drive somewhere yet have no recollection of ever arriving. He smoked it. We stood around our work and years later new drywall still hadn’t gone up and Parker quit smoking on seven separate occasions until my mind had to grapple with his wife becoming a widow. I spoke to her after, just once, before we disappeared and they tore down the building without ever putting up new drywall. Then Parker stopped existing altogether.

 


Michael Prihoda is a writer, editor, and teacher from Indianapolis, IN. He is the editor of the literary magazine and small press After the Pause. Publications of poetry, flash fiction, and art have appeared in Potluck, Rasasvada, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Spelk Fiction, among other locales. He is also the author of two chapbooks and five poetry collections, the most recent of which is The First Breath You Take After You Give Up (Weasel Press, 2016).

Heath Brougher

The 14 of Spades

In the density of pitchy night you find yourself
scrubbing off the blood between your fingertips.
You are the riot star giving out riot scars to the people
you killed among the constructive vandalism
and oaken semen as you effortlessly pick a fight
with a man-eating orchid on the moon. 
You’ve already killed the Joke-Man
in the Hawaiian Straightjacket. Everyone is beseeching you
to screw off your thumb in order to stop this
endless war before they all lose their minds but you won’t.
You’d rather put your lips to the landmine
in the spoiled despair of your life which can only be seen
when the Karmascope peers deep into your skin and sees
your sincere devotion to violence is caused mainly
by your broken suicide machine. Stuck in this insidious
post-postindustrial world of rivers full of babies and bathwater.
You scream the infection straight down their throats
as you throw your intimidation around like a green elephant
wearing a top hat while walking upon a beachball
just as the banana split poker game is always split
right down the middle. An icicle prison cell is quite easily escapable. 
What is most scary in life among these maniacs
is when the cancer won’t cancel and your shadow begins to detach
from your body. Twigbones and itchy horses ask which way
to the broken sky and all you have to do is tell them to look
at the asteroid on the horizon burning down pipelines
and melting diamonds now liquified and bathed in
as the eyes of the cello begin to speak of oceans ripe with shale
and toxified mush that was once water. A xylophone of so many fishbones.

 


Heath Brougher is a Best of the Net Award Nominee and his work has been translated into journals and anthologies in Albania and Kosovo. He was the judge of Into the Void’s 2016 Poetry Competition and he edited the anthology Luminous Echoes, the proceeds of which were all donated to an organization which helps prevent suicide/self-harm. He is the author of About Consciousness (Alien Buddha Press), To Burn in Torturous Algorithms (Weasel Press), and has 3 other forthcoming collections. His work has appeared in Taj Mahal Review, Chiron Review, MiPOesias, Word For Word, Cruel Garters, Lotus Eater, Loch Raven Review, Crab Fat, BlazeVOX, and elsewhere.

Izzy Leslie

Home

searching the sunset on the 405 lull
smash cut to the glitch break slow motion
video of dreams by the cranberries and
gia is rolling her head back and dancing
she’s smiling with cinnamon coconut lips
i’m dying (i think) and it is blessed. 
my gentle body is going 200 mph, but just
sitting here in your pt cruiser convertible
making waves with my hands, cheeks hurting
from smiling. i didn’t know i needed closure
i love you so much it’s like i’ve had too much coffee
swaddled in pink cotton and i’m an ok person
fall smoke screen and it’s golden and let’s go


Izzy Leslie is a writer and digital artist from Portland, Oregon and the author of It’s My Party. She can be found on Twitter at @badplantmom. She has no chill.