north of oxford poetry

Two Poems by Lillo Way

hya
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Angel Hill Cemetery
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Purple bells touch the names
of people I sprang from but never
knew. Hyacinth against stone
markers, fragrance strong enough
to make a five-year-old swoon.
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I wonder if the buried can feel
Aunt Reba’s muscled love,
her swollen knees pressing
against their chests
as she works the trowel.
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Can they see the dimming sun,
taste the light rain, smell
the intense death
of these grave flowers
brown by next Sunday?
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When Easter falls in March the earth
is stubborn-hard under her fingers.
But when it arrives overdue
in late April, it yields soft – reeking
of life and afterlife in one breath.
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Reba bows before their names –
mother, father, uncle, brother.
Some church-god may have escorted
them here, but if there’s any god today,
it’s Reba, broke-kneed, benevolent.
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She carried the plants delicately
up Angel Hill Road, cradling them
in her arms. But on the way back down,
she lets me hold the empty brick pots,
her gardening gloves folded damp inside.
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She watches as my fingers slide
along the brown curds clinging
to the terracotta. She watches
as I hold the dirt to my nostrils,
then place it on my tongue.
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She says nothing as I swallow,
nothing as I swipe
four dun fingers across the chest
of my lavender Easter dress.
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We were happy here once
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Rats crooned to our footsteps
golden taxis yelped sharp
through the humid air and sirens
ran in the storm drains.
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We rambled our reckless ways
through the long park
its shadowed brambles
its herons lording by a pond.
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Anonymous in the museums
dauntless in watercolor classrooms
singing through the subway cars
we were famed among pigeons.
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Night after night as the sun fell into the river
we played under the white marquees
dancing slick with sweat in the streets
rapt in the reek of garbage trucks.
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We returned to our basement homes
in the scent of bread baked in the dark
while the moon that is never seen rising
flew heedless above the skyscrapers.
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Untroubled in our blue-music nights
we slept through our heydays in the bloom
of twirling dreams and woke
to the ozone of a hot pavement hosed down.
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We gleamed through the gay village
its starless nights born again and again
traffic lights oiling in the wet streets
red as fire green as grass.
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Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

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Lillo Way’s “Dubious Moon” won the Hudson Valley Writers Center’s Slapering Hol Chapbook Contest. Her poem, “Offering,” won the E.E. Cummings Award from New England Poetry Club, and “Appropriation” was awarded a Florida Review Editors” Prize. Her writing has appeared in RHINO, New Letters, Poet Lore, North American Review, Tampa Review, Louisville Review, Madison Review, Poetry East, among others. Way has received grants from the NEA, NY State Council on the Arts, and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for her choreographic work involving poetry. Her collection, “Lend Me Your Wings,” is forthcoming, May 2021. https://www.lilloway.com/
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Beauty Rises From Flame by Mark J. Mitchell

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         Beauty Rises From Flame
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                       As if—a flame erupted into light—
                        a quick flash—white, harsh, then blue, then vanished
                        into a red morning. But sleeping night
                        remembers everything—each over-bright
                        moment that left darkness broken, tarnished.
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                        But night never breaks. She is pure beauty
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                        refusing to face. There’s smoke you don’t see
                        and heart of flame, sleeping under cool sheets—
                        disguised by pain. Morning wakes city streets,
                        cars, work. Life expands—continues without
                        noticing what night believes, doesn’t doubt.
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                        Blue/white rises off her long back to bruise
                        darkness again, welcome as a kiss. Views
                        open—stark against silky night. Old smoke
                        is new flame—breath’s desire for surprise spoke
                        to time. Beauty of swift flame—then her heart dreams
                        faster. Her tune’s hers to call. She reflects
                        nothing. She’s firm. Sleek. Dangerous. Handsome.
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mark
Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Starting from Tu Fu  was just published by Encircle Publications. A new collection is due out in December from Cherry Grove. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster.  A meager online presence can be found at Mark J. Mitchell, Writer
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Electrocuted by Alexander P. Garza

flood
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Electrocuted
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Skulls hang upside down
from the sky.
Flood waters turn roads into rivers.
Our house joins sea life,
submerged and adorned with scales.
I swim to the edge
of my second story window.
The one I used to sneak out of.
One by one, the power lines
spark glitter then rip apart.
The spectacle tricks me into
thinking the flash is here to save
us, but it’s here to send waves
of shock through my body.
It’s here to take us.
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Alexander P. Garza is a Mexican-American poet who just moved from Houston to Chicago to pursue the graduate Program for Writers at the University of Illinois – Chicago. His work has appeared in Toyon, Indianapolis Review, Dissections, Star*Line and others. Visit him on Instagram/Twitter, @alexanderpgarza  and http://alexanderpgarza.com

Two Poems by Lee Landau

ocean
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Hyperbole Wraps the Sun
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Low tides dance around her thighs
last quarter mile, her feet
trod beach into white talc of sand.
A rambunctious terrier tries to bury her
sifted, coated floury sand
bakes her well done. Sand crabs
skitter to the shoreline,
.
Headed back toward the Atlantic,
she’s now wrapped in waves
again, to the splutter of an old motor,
its noise waffling intermittently
the runnels of water collect
and violently part
around her, she hugs the raft, no
paddle, fights and fights hard
to return home
with no engine. Her arms try to
sweep aside the ocean current, but
too much undertow drags her down
off course for lower tides as
she gambles on a downdrift
nearby. Rescuers
.
will find her body
from the riptides, bruised
skin shorn
by rock and jetty,
festooned in seaweed.
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Me and Lloyd
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on his second-hand hog
two joints trashed us, then time
.
to arrive at Shul only one hour late
for Yom Kippur holiday, Day
of Atonement, big time service.
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Everyone searching for sins looks to
forgiveness, except for heathens like us.
We enter sanctuary foolish, loose,
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Laugh away regrets to looks of censure.
We giggle embarrassed under the influence,
daring anyone to call us out.
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In the pew I drop the prayer book, too many
folks eying us.  This bitchin’ service,
six hours long. Lloyd sleeps the day away.
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Instead of standing to daven, his snores
reach God’s ear. I stare and laugh again.
No plagues rain down on us.
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No sign of a personal god anywhere—
Adonai, Jesus, Allah, Buddha
No sign, not even a reception signal.
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One thousand voices chant as
hyperbole wraps around the sun
and its planets with strings knotted
.
side by side, among one thousand
fringed, prayer shawls.
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Lee Landau’s work has appeared in Wisconsin Review, New Millennium Writings,
Common Ground and blue stockings magazine, part of Brown University to name a few.
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Wild by Paul Ilechko

marble
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Wild
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Both touched
then more    so wild
it was    those overnight
accelerations
.
to only lean against
and fading    into morning
an oceanic dive    a turning
back    reversing into stasis
.
his idle hands
turned slowly    into
aftermath    a step by step
of suffering
.
the spice of options
of branching into
such a coldness    where
all that had been possible
.
was left to linger    on
a marble slab
of carelessness
.
of skull-bound
negligence    toward
the scented pasture.
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Canal BW
Paul Ilechko is the author of three chapbooks, most recently “Pain Sections” (Alien Buddha Press). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Rogue Agent, January Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Book of Matches and Pithead Chapel. He lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ.

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Two Poems by Linda Lerner

brook
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Thoughts of My Father at the Brooklyn Museum
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stumbling onto a road war- prisoners walked
in 19th century Russia in my attempt to escape
from a nine-month imprisonment in 2020 led me
from dark clouded volcanic scenes erupting
to a snow blinding blizzard in my father’s birth place…
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the cold seeped into me as I stood transfixed
before moving on to where
a group of prisoners huddled together
in a refuge of sorts, snow cascading down
from a broken skylight and
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thought of my father at 17 forced
to join a group of youths marching
on a similar road a century later
to escape from Pogroms,
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that universal cold I carried
home with me, passing blocks of people
shivering outside café’s & restaurants
leaving warm apartments to sit here
a safe distance apart in huddling
proximity of others, I now joined
.
That Plane I’m Not On
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and sucked out of when a window
I’m leaning against gives, has me
frantically trying to grab hold
of what isn’t there, till spotting
a man in the distance, a woman who seems
to be with him, and curious about
who they are, hoping they might help me
gain my bearings, just as they vanish
and I’m back where I was;
things start to look up when I see
part of a street and try landing on it
but turns out to be someone’s
memory of one, don’t know who
that person is or how they got there
isn’t a real street anyway like
those ideas of things floating by
my mind’s reach isn’t fast enough
to catch and worn out from trying,
put down this novel I’ve been reading
to get off that plane I never got on
in the first place
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linda
Linda Lerner, author of 17 collections. Her poems currently appeared in Maintenant, Patersson Literary Review, Gargoyle, Chiron Review, Free State Review and Rat’s Ass Review among others.
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Killing Time by Paul Lojeski

killing time
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Killing Time
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A single clock an enemy,
a hordes’ tick-tocks an evil
empire. Creeping forward in
.
night’s foul collaboration, each
blade a slow click towards oblivion.
The wise, old owl watching
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sadly, this unstoppable onslaught,
hooting no warning, knowing
it a useless endeavor. Every clock
.
shakes with our doom. Hunt them
down, root them out. No mercy. To
make time disappear, kill the clocks.
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paul lojo
Paul Lojeski was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio. He attended Oberlin College. His poetry has appeared online and print. He lives in Port Jefferson, NY.
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Two Poems by Fabrice Poussin.

trump

Orange Fantasy
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Sitting upon a gaudy throne
sipping on a manufactured bubbly
he rested indulgent digits near a clownish chest.
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Drooling with the greed of a cruel magnate
he envisioned the great West in a sea of oil
steel phalluses protuberances from starving soils
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Ancient pyramids made of vinyl
a stucco Sphinx reclining across the deep ravine
the creature of play-do and oozing waste spewed a belch.
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Children cried on the edge of the canyon
their eyes burning with the acidic promises
made to inhabitants of distant glass rises.
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Watching from the failing seat he contemplated
joyful in an ocean of his innumerable crimes
while those who made him an idol decayed at his delighted fungus toes.
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It has been what used to be called centuries
no one here can remember the end
at the hands of the illustrious monster.

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Hot air buffoon
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They flew his effigy at the yearly parades
so many days without names
midweek late summer perhaps even Christmas.
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High above in the poisonous clouds he exhaled
latex animal in an obese loin
never had such a hideous paradox been seen.
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No one’s uncle for a gentle embrace
no bust to be found high in granite
just a mass of noxious gasses lost in dark space.
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She wonders why the bed was so icy
when the soulless mass collapses for the night
fed with conspiracy his only sustenance.
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A name remains carved in soft matter
temptation of another abandoned hyena
but she too trots away in disdain with a cry.
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The mockery of all things created at last finished
pieces of the deflated ego in faded memories
barely subsist transported to the earth’s sewers on the bile of the masses.

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Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.

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Two Poems by Mark Tulin

under bridge
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A Crude Protest
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There’s a ripe,
downtrodden shell
under the bridge,
belongings in a haphazard pile,
shopping carts from Ralph’s,
tents with no support,
sour smells of clothing
in a groundswell
of a shelterless hell
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A bushy-haired man
proud and noble,
straight and tall,
sends out a stream of pee,
a crude protest
in a world speeding by,
in a moonless sky,
a forgotten life
with no stars to count.
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A Seabird Memory
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The seabird followed me
along the shoreline
Not just any bird, but an old friend
He limped with an injured leg
He scoured the beach for food
as he trailed my footsteps
He was a childhood buddy
from the old neighborhood
who shared common memories
He sat and watched me
as the tide rolled out and in
His life covered in feathers,
his skinny legs a shade of gray
He remembered me
when he walked on human legs
and covered in skin.
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Mark Tulin is a former therapist from Philadelphia who now lives in California. He has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. His upcoming book, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Sto-ries available to pre-order. Mark has been featured in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Trembling with Fear, Life In The Time, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others.  Mark’s website, Crow On The Wire.

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