Kristin Garth

Kitten Smitten

December starving, throat yowled mute, big eyes
beside his garbage chute; he picks you up, 
in just one hand, pinstriped, bowtied,
a civilized man. His warm fingers cup
you scruff & bones, a stunted youth he thinks
he owns. A baby beast he takes to train —
emaciated, broken brain. You slink
inside his ordered life, penthouse constrained
feral child wife with claws he files & paints
pale pink, instincts he hopes become extinct:
predation, fornication, chewed through restraints, 
ingratitude & nude complaints. Your blink
& thighs belie the fangs, you hide, full grown.  
He would have let you starve if he had known.

 


Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked magazines like Five: 2: One, Glass, Anti-Heroin Chic, Occulum, Luna Luna, Yes, Former Cactus and many more. Her chapbook Pink Plastic House is available from Maverick Duck Press, and she has two forthcoming: Pensacola Girls (Bone & Ink Press, Sept 2018) and Shakespeare for Sociopaths (The Hedgehog Poetry Press Jan 2019). She also has a full length forthcoming Candy Cigarette (The Hedgehog Poetry Press April 2019). Follow her on Twitter: @lolaandjolie, her weekly poetry column (Rhythm & Bones Lit) and her website (kristingarth.wordpress.com).

Howie Good

Liquid Courage

I was hit with a hammer during an argument over $50. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. I had blood all over me. At one point I couldn’t see for a couple of minutes. It would be days before I got home. I passed through a vast space with sun-bleached posters of various leaders on the walls. I slept under bridges, on park benches, out in the woods. Everyone was shocked when I made it back. But, hey, anything can happen. Thousands of gin bottles thrown from German ships in previous centuries are only now reaching shore.


Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.

Lee Potts

Saints Layered like Leaves

Great aunt Jenny Palmer,
brought back from her circuit of
chapels, crypts, and grottoes,
cards made holy by the imposition
of ink and expectation.

Gathered, then left, 
like losing lotto tickets,
for me to slip into forced
hot air heating vents.
The ticks and bangs
from the furnace below
scared me further into piety.
Spinning them into the dark, I prayed
that a little light would carry them a long way
and never once wondered what was burning.

I launched others down gullies
into storm drains. 
I imagined a few made it out to sea,
swallowed up by fish,
and spit back out on the coast where
each could do the most good.

For years, one earned bloodless, 
push pin stigmata, and edified all
through his heroic melancholy
from my bedroom bulletin board.

                  . . . .

Silent now,
prayers finally wound down,
I turn to sleep, 
sheets tangling ankles.
I’m accompanied by a bedside drawer full
of saints layered like leaves,
pressing together lives centuries apart,  
and increasing, with their density, 
the frequency of miracles.


Lee Potts is a poet with work in The Painted Bride QuarterlyGargoyleDoor is a Jar, and Cold Creek Review. He has two poems forthcoming in Saint Katherine Review. He lives just outside of Philadelphia and you can find him online at leepotts.net.

Emma Lee

The Golden Gate Bridge minus fog

The plane is supported by a balloon of cloud
over Newfoundland before a gentle turn
down to Northern California.
We were expecting the iconic image
of the Golden Gate Bridge hovering on fog.
The mist is absent but the sky is not cloudless.
Wisps scud over Alcatraz
like dreams of a neon-lit nightlife
and the freedom of easy Sundays
carried like a cloud on a breeze.

 


Emma Lee’s most recent collection is Ghosts in the Desert (IDP, UK 2015), she co-edited Over Land, Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge, (Five Leaves, UK, 2015), reviews for The High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip and Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

Corey Zielinski

Pigeon Speak

Claims keep assuring that ‘life’ will return,
will recreate past prosperous days,
as if time were finally circling back
and with reward to those who stayed, 
purchased houses, 
supported local bistros and boutiques
when the economy 

sucked. In the fall, I moved north from Allen
to Tonawanda, 
with mostly books, 
slowly, over months, 
insidiously, making a home on fresh shelves,
with my partner, a dog and a yard. 

We plan dinners, together, rearrange furniture, 
organize pillows, purchase containers, Swiffer. 

We eat sandwiches, 
hers with onion, cucumber, and vinaigrette,
collect more books, read some, 
and try to talk differently, with keener language,
listen. 

On odd afternoons, we attend to the pigeons  
gathering in the backyard, 
drink dark liquor, 
and breathe the bizarrely human wail
of a distant train horn.

We consent to being
possessed by weeds, with musk thistle
and crab grass around our ankles, 
sense that a neighborhood grows here,
still without name or purpose,  
requiring the invention of new terms—
and on this absence, we play, improvise
names for a new community
that we will never write down.  


Corey Zielinski is a student of poetry currently residing in Buffalo, NY.

Margot DeSalvo

Degree

Strip awake
futile pressure
where magnetic puddles
formulate
this classified center
of 3 years -
a broken soul
living
on a handout. 
 
Where does
fault reside
when trains are missed
and drowned signals
no longer qualify these echoes? 
 
I’ve searched for myself
in this mall before
but only found disadvantages
among sale racks
unable to purchase
desired identity.
 
Don’t ask me
why I’m
attached
to these inept
perspectives
of measurements
and civility as if
they are acts of grandeur
or hope
a meaningless leap of faith
fabricated to harness
these damaged tissues.


Margot DeSalvo (Ed.M, M.F.A), a college composition and creative writing teacher, is currently working on various writing projects that portray the complexities of depression and the nuances of introspection. Some of her work has been published or is forthcoming in Califragile, Sonic Boom, Clarendon House Publications, The Pangolin Review, Whale Road Review, Soft Cartel, Streetlight Press, Dying Dahlia, Flatbush Review, and Teaching English in the Two-Year College. 

Barbara Costas-Biggs

When We Were Young

we bought things like violas without a second thought.

We had lost weekends in Nashville
or our tiki-ed out backyard, no regard

for hangovers.  No need for baby
monitors.  We wore bathing suits. My skin

did not need nightly Retinol. 
When we were young I didn’t feel

so dusty, so slow. Now, I am planning for
a hysterectomy. In bed, you say 

things to me like, You don’t have to prop
your breasts up like that to make them appealing to me.

There’s no reason I shouldn’t believe
you, but I don’t.  When I lie on my back

and my breasts slide down to my sides
leaving my chest flat,

I feel nothing but old. Laden.
It doesn’t matter what my body has done,

it matters what it does not do any more.


Barbara Costas-Biggs is the 2017 winner of the Split This Rock Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared recently in Glass, The Coil, Riggwelter, MORIA, JARFLYDodging the Rain, Bird’s Thumb, District Lit, Literary Mama, and others. She lives in Southern Ohio, and can be found online at www.barbwrites.comfacebook.com/barbarabiggs, and sporadically on Twitter @bcostasbiggs.

Tianna Grosch

Gallop Through the Night

Night mares move swift, 
bearing you on sweat-slick
backs, rippling muscles
between thick thighs
carry you through
dark-lit avenues
of memory
skin like coal, 
red burning embers
reach to grasp you
in their heat and
prickle like thorns, 
drops of blood
upon porcelain.

 


Tianna Grosch has been writing her entire life and now resides on her family farm in PA where she spends most of her time weaving tales and poems. Her tapestry often includes dark strands but she likes when the light shines through as well. She is the recent founder and managing editor of Rhythm & Bones Lit (RhythmNBone.com). Check out her widely published work at CreativeTianna.com or follow her tweets @Tiannag92.

Ailey O’Toole

Difficult at Parties

my trauma is
a day dream / fever screams
sugar cube house / crumbling
thought up / in catatonia
my trauma is this body
an antipodal pilgrimage / scrambled
egg sealed back / in its shell
never still
enough to grasp
my trauma is burning
my bones / despite
the ash / a reverie
of dust / not enough
landmarks for a map
my trauma is a forgiveless
child / bits of myself always
becoming / foreign currency
exchanged for grief / demanding
I give it a name
my trauma is trying
to remember / how fast
we moved / how dark
it went

 


Ailey O'Toole is a queer poet and bartender who writes about feminism, empathy and pain. She hopes everyone who reads her poems feels less alone in their struggle. Her work has previously appeared in or is forthcoming in After the Pause, Rising Phoenix Review, Ghost City Review, Okay Donkey and others. She tweets @ms_ocoole.

Nicholas Boyer

The Sun Has Been Socializing

The trees have been picnicking
And the leaves danced as they fell
while other leaves clung 2 fighting fits of laughter
And the birds were splish-splashing
And the fish were kissing but not telling
And the water told knock-knock jokes
that made the wind snort while
bohemian bark laid out to get a tan
And the ants declared war
against other ants from invading tree lines
And red-faced roses journaled vigorously
shouting in bold font Freedom of Press
And the dandelions said  I  can’t   b r e e e a t h

The grass branded the Sun as a socialist
and the Moon muttered Commie grass.
Which sprouted a green refutation that
We ought to regulate those blades.
     GRASS ROOTS
     GRASS ROOTS
     GRASS ROOTS

And the butterflies collected social security
from the caterpillars who filed their taxes
And the cocoons went on strike
when the mosquitoes became radicalized
after centuries of being swatted
And the clouds did not cry


Nicholas Boyer spent 6 years in the USAF with one tour overseas. After finishing his military service, Nicholas moved to Alaska and lived in a dry cabin for a year, searching for himself and creating art. Currently Nicholas studies philosophy and his poetry’s content varies in subject matter from war & politics, appreciation & questions of existence, to love poems written to lamps.

Tohm Bakelas

The Humble Duster

down in Laredo
he stands between San Bernardo Ave
and interstate35
sometimes he stands elsewhere
sometimes he stands nowhere
he stands like an old wooden Indian chief smoking a cigar
draped in his black duster
it is unknown if any clothes exist beneath the encompassing duster. 
when we saw him it was 103 degrees
dry blazing heat
no humidity
no breeze either

some say he is a homeless tweaker who stands seeking his meth
some say he is an arsonist who burned his family to ash
and fled to Laredo to have a new life
others say he's not even there at all
but i have seen him
standing in Laredo
i think he's a messenger from god
the Humble Duster is holier than you
and i
and he will remain in Laredo
at the intersection of San Bernardo Ave and interstate35
standing as the sun sets on the city under seven flags


Tohm Bakelas works as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. He is the singer of Permanent Tension and runs Forced Abandonment Records when he feels like it. He was born in New Jersey, currently resides there, and will die there.