poetry

The Daughter Who Tends to Her Mother by  John Grey   

tea
The Daughter Who Tends to Her Mother   
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I cook her favorite turnip,
boil her tea, butter her toast –
it’s been like this seemingly forever,
just the two of us, from morning to evening –
I would plan my escape
but I have no place to go.
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I soap her slowly, garnish her meals,
massage her shoulders,
lay beside her to listen for breathing.
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I have just touched my own nerve –
all that scrubbing, the attempt to be tender
but with a sour taste in my mouth
of all I am missing out on,
with afternoons in sunlit rooms,
making sure she takes her medicine,
no longer mother and daughter
but two old cow elephants
with sagging breasts, faces drying, wrinkling,
hands rheumatic, our skins so alike
that could easily fold around the one body.
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My burden is that I am the one person she can trust,
not my other sisters with their family rituals,
not my father, buried once again every time she sighs.
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I am the subject of her bad humor,
her fickle taste in friends.
The weather is my fault
as is the temperature of the bathwater,
the severity of her migraines.
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Mostly we sit in silence.
She examines the bruises on her legs.
I will inherit them some day.
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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

Better Than Streaming John Dorroh

glass
Better Than Streaming
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My dreams are everywhere – in the drinking glass
that I keep beside my bed, stuffed in bedroom slippers
somewhere in another room, below the house in the bowels
of the kitchen plumbing. They most often taste like blackberry jam,
fresh and seedy with the perfect amount of acid.
They’re never powered by magic or anything difficult
to calculate. They fit in small spaces but loom large
in my head. Sometimes they make me dance on the dresser
across from my grandma’s bed. Other times they make me
speak French and bake baguettes in the wee hours. I don’t
know their names or where they live or where they belong.
I stick my hands out of a moving car and pluck them
into my blood. I often string them on a clothesline
for everyone to see.
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dorroh
John Dorroh poems have appeared in journals such as Feral, River Heron, North Dakota Quarterly, and Selcouth Station. His first chapbook comes out this summer, 2022.

Old Barn by Richard Dinges

old barn
Old Barn
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Stripped of corrugated
tin and wood plank
skin, second story
frame long gone
except for one wall,
its open maw that once
devoured bales of hay
leans but refuses
to fall.  The old barn
stands tall among
trees, their bare branches
stencils against barn’s
gray skin, a feeble
giant as stubborn
as those old farmers
who erected it, stood
tall and sweaty and
dirty at its walls
that towered with
their long ago pride.
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Richard Dinges, Jr. lives and works by a pond among trees and grassland, along with his wife, one dog, three cats, and three chickens.  Poem, Avalon, Willow Review, Oracle, and Writer’s Block most recently accepted his poems for their publications.

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The Last Day of January by Paul Ilechko

ice
The Last Day of January
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Ice is floating on the surface of the river     the water
appears to be motionless     looking like the skin
of ice is locking it into place     triangles of slush slowly
form in front of the great stone footings that anchor
the bridge     it’s as if the river is quietly creating
its own glaciers     and all we have to do is watch
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downstream     there are rapids     it won’t be
long now until the shad are fighting their way
upriver     some of them will travel over three hundred
miles     some of them will be tangled in the great
sweeping nets where the Lewis Island fishermen
trawl the river bottom     just above the bridge
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for almost two years now we have been frozen
in place      we no longer seem able to create new
memories     most of us will reappear on the other
side of this endless winter that we are traveling through
many of us will not     caught in the nets that were
randomly cast     fins thrashing     gills bursting for air.
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paul
Poet and songwriter Paul Ilechko lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. He is the author of several chapbooks. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Feral Journal, Iron Horse Literary Review, Gargoyle Magazine, and Book of Matches. His first album, “Meeting Points”, was released in 2021.
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Two Poems by Leonard Kress

orph
Orpheus Autopsied
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When cops and doctors finally found the crime
scene, and retrieved the soggy, mangled, headless
corpse, they could now officially buttress
what they’d previously only been able to presume
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with the singular fact that his heart had a hole.
They could not determine, though, if he was born
with it (which might explain his early turn
to poetry and ascendency) or if it was his role
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as lover-losing-beloved that burned through
or whittled out that hole. Or his descent
to the underworld, where some monster meant
to wound him on his way. Or losing her through
.
foolishness again—that gaze that can pierce
a heart. Or maybe, his final lonely life
hunting down poetry, and the ultimate strife
that life entails. They couldn’t even deduce
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how common it was among poets—this affliction.
After all, they’d have to kill them first to find
out, or disinter too many tombs with no funds.
There were limits, of course, to their speculation.

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Serial Killer
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The most famous serial killer-rapist ever
lived for a while in my old neighborhood
50 years ago, only now public
and those who still live there
and those who ventured far
revel that they almost intersected
with infamy.
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He stayed with his grandfather for the year
though no one remembers him
(the boyishly hunkish miscreant)
but grandpa’s
a different story.
Screamed at kids who ventured near
his flower beds
stiffed workers
sold blighted shrubs
at the nursery he owned
and the kid who replaced his pads
at the local Chevron swore
he rode his brakes relentlessly
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It was mostly the girls
(girls back then)
recalling two of his early victims
at the Jersey shore
(downa shore, they would have said)
Praise God
it wasn’t one of us
hitch-hiking alone the Black Horse Pike
to weekend in Ocean City
all family and dry
then sneaking cross
the causeway to Somer’s Point
to drink with college guys.
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Was it him, one wonders
who picked me up
tossed my backpack in his trunk
complained the whole way
about his broken wrist
his cast decorated with hearts
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Thank God
I didn’t accept the pill
he offered after popping
one himself.
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Those poor girls
they all chimed
could have been us
under the boardwalk
at dusk, beach patrol busy
with fires and their own pickup lines.
They still haven’t admitted
to boyfriends (some who became husbands)
who they let pick them up
wriggle off the two-piece strap
from peeling sun-burnt freckled shoulders
and the soothing beery lick
impossible to stave off
even if they wanted to—
Crystal Blue Persuasion
on the transistor by now
half-buried in the sand.
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LK
Leonard Kress has published poetry and fiction in Missouri Review, Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex and Walk Like Bo Diddley. Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems and his new verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz. Craniotomy Sestinas appeared in 2021. He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio.
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Two Poems by Laura Johanna Braverman

olives
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My Husband On A Ladder Picking Olives
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                        Late afternoon
and I sit at the marble garden table. The moist heat
of summer dried up, a tarp is piled wide
with olives ripe
                                    for brining.
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When we lived seven floors up
            olives were things in glass jars. And what
was brining—
                        or October—?
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His head is somewhere among the silver-sided leaves.
Twigs shift
            as his hands rummage and reach.
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                                                He drops each stone fruit
into a bag hanging from a branch,
                        handles strain against the weight.
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But it’s the light I want to talk about—
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                        the way it slants through tree twists and gaps,
lands on coastal soil in amber splatters
            and sets the yellow grocery bag aglow.
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How, in a few hours
                        this late-year day will have gone.
            He’ll board a plane.
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                                    But for now:
the unburdened tree, the fruit-bearing light—
all between.
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Of Weeds and Broken Things
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Left undisturbed
the soil nests those seeds abandoned to the wind—
traveling cast-offs come to rest
            between the rows of olive trees.
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I wish I knew the name
of every bloom and stem. A patch there
looks like coriander lace.
Another, a clustering of rocket leaves—
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            amid the green
are modest flares of white and gold and lilac,
tiny sisters of bud and aster.
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But when the ground is cleared—
            red earth turned and tilled, remnants
of a different ordinary
come unburied :
                        a rounded chip of glass, a sliver
                        of painted porcelain.
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I bend for a jagged corner
of white ceramic tile, its mortar ridges
caked in coastal soil.
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Little artefact
of someone’s kitchen, bath.
            Of a life.
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Laura-Braverman-Photo
Laura Johanna Braverman is a writer and artist. Salt Water, her first collection of poetry was published in 2019 by Cosmographia Books. Her poems have appeared in Plume, Levure Litteraire, Sky Island Journal, New Plains Review and Pratik, among other journals, and in the anthology Awake in the World, II. She recently earned her MA in poetry and will begin PhD studies this fall, both at Lancaster University. She lives in Lebanon with her family.

Two Poems by Layla Lenhardt

tomato
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Tomato Flakes
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“Oh you’ve got green eyes, oh you’ve got blue eyes, oh you’ve got grey eyes” – New Order
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I keep you hidden
in my bedside table,
or buried between my legs.
And at times, we don’t speak.
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On the day we saw the moss
covered pond next to the house
that knelt on the hillside, I swore
I could say your name forever.
Your hand was entwined in mine,
like bodies in Pompeii.
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You feed me artichoke
hearts from the jar. And loving
you is always eating from the
same bowl, stained bedsheets,
never-have-i-ever in Adirondacks.
It started with your skin, peeling
like a birch tree, the sun spilling
through the door jamb. You
carried with you the salty
air of the Atlantic.
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It ended with a hurricane
bridges washed away,
roads buckled, I no longer
lick your wounds, paint
your nails. Send you photos.
And missing you is like
trying to tame a wildfire.
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Cece & Silvino
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I wish I could take every path. I wish
I could let such carnivorous aliens
bloom between my hip bones. I wish
I could hold little fingers in my hand,
give you your first palm readings, make
dandelion wine to take to Nona’s.
There’s no easy answer. I’d adore you
for a thousand years, and a thousand
years after that. I’d spend an eternity
memorizing your freckles, speaking your
names, but the gold around my
finger is heavy and unnatural, motherhood
is complicated. I’m not cut for this
cloth.
I’d be a bird, feeding you what I’ve already
digested, straining out the bad parts. I’d
Let you fill the moon. But I’d never be
ready. I can’t re-write my mercurial DNA,
I can’t make my bones need something they don’t.
Each month I will bleed and each month
he’ll travel further and further away. He’ll burry my jewels
in the dirt, throw my heirlooms in the ocean.
The decision is my zeitgeist
so I’ll keep my mirrors sheeted,
and I’ll let him tell them I didn’t
want you. It’s his way of healing.
But know, if I could take every path, that you would be my
Full Moon in Taurus, an earth shaking,
thundering, explosion of love.
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layla
Layla Lenhardt is a queer poet who splits her time between Indianapolis and Philadelphia. She is Editor in Chief of 1932 Quarterly. She has been most recently published in Rust + Moth, Sad Girls Club, Poetry Quarterly, and Pennsylvania Literary Journal.  www.laylalenhardt.com
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Two Poems by Alan Catlin

camera-lenses
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The Photographer
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Near death
she reclaims
her long
abandoned
Art: taking
pictures of her
fellow travelers
along the ward;
barely able to
stand herself,
she holds a camera,
focuses a lens,
she sees all
that has been
missing in her
life, all those
years past,
the ones that
will never come.
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Death and the Maiden
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Listening to Schubert
as the candle
burns out
.
the bent wick
in a puddle
of drying wax
.
the junk littered
room, torn curtains,
broken bed frame
.
we know exactly
how this ends but
not when
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Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full length books including, most recently, Asylum Garden: after Van Gogh (Dos Madres) Memories Too (Dos Madres), Sunshine Superman (Cyberwit) and a fictional memoir about his bar jobs , Chaos Management (Alien Buddha).
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Two Poems by Rustin Larson

buddha
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Lawn Ornament
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Buddha, seated with four disciples, looks like my grandmother, same squarish face and long earlobes, same hairdo, topknot she’d put under a net before she went to work at the egg plant, the disassembly line, so to speak, white ovals conveyed for candling and then powdering for armed forces overseas. After work she’d slip on Buddha’s housecoat– a few ocher stripes, some emblems of orchids– she would drink her tea, silently, ceremoniously, the center of a circle of ghosts.
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Carroll Street
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in Brooklyn is probably still there, as familiar to millions as Ingersoll is to me. The fall turns to parchment. Every leaf is blank. Every leaf has something written on it, held under a slanted evening light. In a slanted evening light in Brooklyn someone sips Irish Creme from a snifter and lays down a pair of hearts. Someone shoots the moon; another person is sure she has enough for the ride, and yet another
waits for her shift in the department store to end so she can make her photography class. Meanwhile, a man in a dirty coat is followed by six genuine devils who want to eat him. A priest is doing laps in the pool at the Downtown Athletic Club, his mind a transcendental blank as he touches the wall and curves back. In the afterlife, three people sit around a kitchen table. They’ve just finished turkey and all the
trimmings and now they are settling into cigarettes and coffee and beer and better conversation than they ever had in life. The big, bear- like man with the glass eye says he is “Mighty Hunter” and pounds his smoke-filled chest. A fourth person, the grandmother, walks into the kitchen now with a jar of sour pickles. The light is a cloud-covered yellow. There is a sandy soil garden full of zucchini and cucumbers outside. They talk and talk about the Catholic Church and Christmas and Easter and how their funerals were all a bit disappointing, aggravating and yet balming when someone spoke a kind word or offered an earnest prayer. The houses they live in are their favorites from life. They, each, are not quite ready to choose a new identity– rebirth seems like a cold bath. So here they sit, taking turns in each other’s kitchen and home, an endless supply of cigarettes and coffee and beer cleared unnoticed from the table every endless hour.
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Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, North American Review, Poetry East, The Atlanta Review and other magazines. Crazy Star was selected for the Loess Hills Book’s Poetry Series in 2005. Larson won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino magazine in 2000 and has won prizes for his poetry from The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation among others. A five-time Pushcart nominee, and graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival in 2002 and 2004, a featured writer in the DMACC Celebration of the Literary Arts in 2007, 2008, and has been highlighted on the public radio programs Live from Prairie Lights and Voices from the Prairie. He lives in Fairfield, Iowa.
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