poem

Abandoned soliloquy by James Walton

Dawn of a new day

Photograph by Ghislain Mary

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Abandoned soliloquy
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a flotsam head
not quite ashore
treading water     seemingly
 
speaking ancient Greek or reformed Latin
who would know these days
 
drifting down a tidal river
to eastern beaches
water like tea
 
augury symptoms in urine
the lost squid in a rock pool
waiting for the afternoon tow
 
once hands held out arrival
for our beautiful roles
your ventriloquist’s tongue
in a perfect sentence
 
you drove the core out
peeled my love in one long threat
the scrutiny of your beak dissecting
 
no boat can get anchorage
the Antarctic breath colludes
capsizing histories
 
all along the shipwreck coast
our children      your new young lover
hoping the mast they cling to
has a future where the baggage
intersects a stranger’s journey
 
these serpent arms
that held your face in compromise
I licked the salt from your inner thighs
strangled ambition for a wanting
so powerful my eyes were burnt out
 
the estuary pushes
this infection squeezed abroad
one way a new continent
 
turn about parturient islands arch
hardy shoulders curse the dozen labours 
bent to the task like the trees of Patagonia
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 Jim portrait head
James Walton is an Australian poet published in newspapers, and many journals, and anthologies. Short listed twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition – his collection ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ was published in 2015.
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You can view more photographs by Ghislain Mary at this link https://www.flickr.com/photos/ghislainmary/

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Teresa: Translator by Stephen Page

woods

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Teresa: Translator
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You are the translator of my day.
I fall into your graphite eyes
When we transmute,
I find your hands
The hands of a maker:
Soft and crafting.
I want to caress the curve
Of your lip,
Speak to your breasts.
Become my left ear
And I shall remain my right—
Where we meet we will middle.                            
The spider feasts
In the web of my thoughts,
And pastures modern
The corners of your culture—
Remove the weeds
Of your socialization.
Idiom me,
Invite me into the woods of your words,
Seat me at your banquet table.
You are the coffee of my mornings,
The mate of my afternoons.
Why do you hide your syllables
Under your tongue?
Don’t you ever question
The power of words,
The meaning of sleep?
Yes, I know you do,
In nightmares—
And in this I second your revival.
The grass grows at night,
And in the heat of mosquitoes,
So let the windflowers grow,
Language me into the wood.
Ranch me where the city
Has not yet encroached.
Marsh me where the ranch cannot reach.
You are the queen of my kingdom,
That I have so temporally created.
You are the singer of my verse.
Interpret my dreams.
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Stephen Page phot with muse (1)
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 Stephen Page is the Author of The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He also attended Broward College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, reading, travel, family, and friends. https://smpages.wordpress.com/
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One day, her hands became birds by Arlyn LaBelle

Gold Finch in flight 10-01-2012 460

Photograph by Richard Hurd

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One day, her hands became birds
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and he could not forgive her.
They ate sunflower seeds, and
dipped themselves in fountains.
Her hands slept in trees,
folding gently on themselves.
He missed the way they’d
weighed his chest like stones,
keeping him still as he dreamed.
He hated holding them now,
in his hands, their little hearts
beating.
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Writer's Photograph
Arlyn LaBelle is a poet and legal assistant living in Austin, Texas. Her poems have appeared multiple times in the Badgerdog summer anthologies as well as Words Work, Persona, The Missing Slate, The Blue Hour, LAROLA, JONAH Magazine, The Oddville Press, Songs of Eretz, Cease, Cows and The Southern Poetry Review.  Arlyn LaBelle Poetry
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To view more photographs by Richard Hurd please visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/rahimageworks/

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Intimations of Modernity by Howie Good

street preacher

Photograph by Don Scott

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Intimations of Modernity

You hear the screech of tires and some screams. You hear the roof vibrating and moving through the night. You hear about so-and-so committing suicide. You have to think of all the sounds like they’re a symphony, otherwise you’ll go crazy. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just want to know what actually happened. You glance one way and then the other. You ask, “Oh why can’t they get that baby out of the ground?” You don’t belong here. You need to leave. You have to have a bit of an attitude to pull it off. The police are the same as during Franco’s time, only they had horses back then. 

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The messiah of some obscure sect raged up and down the sidewalk, yelling, “I shall destroy all of the civilized world! You shall die by your own evil creation!” There was ash already in the air. I had never been in a war zone but I was pretty sure that this was what it felt like. By week’s end, I had become obsessed with my escape route. I pored over Google Maps, travel guides, railroad timetables. But, of course, when I opened the front door, I was confronted with fire. People just stood there and watched, happy to lurk unrecognized in the noise.

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I’ve read many times in newspapers of some kind of shooting. But actually experience it? No. Never. It’s like everyone is just doing Tarantino knockoffs. They’re imagining the pain of the bullets hitting them. I’ve seen the really bad stuff on television. They shoot seven people in the head, and then they rush to their cars and leave. What else could you have expected? This is our history, everywhere full of blood. It’s clear and simple, and it’s in HD.

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No, I don’t get it. How does anyone sleep at night or get through the day? We don’t yet have the tools to see what we’d really like to see. I can’t remember now why I ever thought we would. As we walk around, we meet orphans and autodidacts and then a man drinking in the woods. He keeps saying he’s going to kill someone. And no cops for miles. So, yeah, the best part of the day is early in the morning, very early, before something that hasn’t happened yet moves and just as suddenly stops moving. 

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A baby is crying on the ground. Everyone else is dead. No one I ask can tell me if this is real. “Sorry,” they just say. That’s the point. How we just don’t see very much of anything. There are so many refugees, and more coming all the time, and most of them have only a bit of white fluff, a frail bicycle, a bowlful of agriculture. I was once in a pretty bad car wreck. And it’s like that. We have a strange way of repeating history. I say “holy fuck” about 1,400 times a day.

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howie_good

Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry and forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.

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You can view the photographs of Don Scott at this link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/106721552@N04/

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Knife in the Sleeve by Rich Ives

sunset
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Knife in the Sleeve
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Once a year you start over, trade two riverskins for a perched moonskull,
decorate it with gracious breaths of escaping light.
 
Aided by a prayer containing a sister that dances with chickens and piglets,
it’s as if you had really believed what the wind had told you.
 
It’s usually very sad. I feared the loneliness of successful celebration
and people in all the doorways and only wine bottles standing.
 
The reason I’m still scratching these kids was left over from yesterday’s misunderstandings, but that thing you do with your eyes shut
 
just deserves to be given away.
 
Look, Mister, says the mirror, I only want what you don’t need.
That’s too cute, says the mister, that’s way too cute, and
 
it’s usually very sad. I’m tempted to pull something out of the dark,
and I’m tempted to pull the dark out of something darker.
 
The vast democracy of recurrent emptiness says they’re all dead inside,
and no matter how much possibility floats by, she means it.
 
Eventually the wrong key fits the lock, and we’re in and out of ourselves
the way you know when you toss a coin too high it means
 
the answer could roll away.
 
I passed a baby carriage full of harmonicas and eggshells. I asked a woman on
the street for a light. She replied, Listen, Honey, you ain’t done stoppin’ yet.
 
Look to the doctor’s jacket mounted on sticks to scare crows,
his gaze wooden, which is to say older and longer and more useful.
 
Shopping yesterday for something I didn’t need, I watched pillaging
housewives disembark from designer cellphones and
 
a bread-fed lump of dove maneuvering for handouts beneath camel-
shouldered matrons in cautionary undergarments. We had nothing to eat
 
so we ate it and became each other.
 
First, separate the harmless, then eliminate the dangerous, and then,
if anyone’s left, take her to the wrong dance and see if she
 
pretends you’ve made the right choice. Stay with her, she’s the sound
of whispering in the far room of the wound. Sometimes I wish that
 
I would suffer more, that the causes of my suffering weren’t so ordinary
but appeared to be unique, admired. On the way to morning,
 
the darkness follows you from a long way off,
approaching from where you have already been in that dark,
 
which isn’t there anymore.
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rich

Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the author of a fiction chapbook, Sharpen, from The Newer York Press, a story collection, The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking, from What Books, a poetry collection Light from a Small Brown Bird, from Bitter Oleander Press and a hybrid book of days, Tunneling to the Moon from Silenced Press.

 

Bait by Daniel Casey

duck 3

stock photo

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Bait
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It’s one more duckling saved
by being pulled from a drainage grate,
another ‘watching this will change your life,’
unsolicited comment, humblebrag,
or don’t-ask-me-about-it-ask-me-about-it
status update. This is your life now. You wanted it,
you’ve got it. Couldn’t leave if you wanted to,
fact is. It’s a net and you’ve been trolled.
 
But no one makes you do anything.
Let me know, when that clicks.
 
You’re as old as your mom
was when she realized she
didn’t understand anything about you
anymore, as old as your dad
when he discovered none of it was
intuitive. They didn’t make this,
we did. Who taught our kids to
mediate our shared world with
such nonsense needing to be seen,
heard, amplified, denied, affirmed,
and not so much? This is not for us
any more than it was for them.
 
So, no, why don’t you not worry about it;
it’s not about you.
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author pic

Daniel Casey has a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame. He lives in Murray, Kentucky. He can be found on Twitter as @misanthropester

 

 

Truth and Belief by Peter C. Scheponik

clouds
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Truth and Belief
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The morning sky sings her blues,
reaching high notes of cream-colored clouds
and a sponge-print moon.
The goldfinches are already in the garden
their black feet clinging to
the spiny faces of coneflowers
as the finches industriously
forage for food with their ebony beaks.
The yellow swallowtail dances, at the peak
of his power, drunk on nectar and his hour
to find love.
The Queen Anne’s Lace spreads the tablecloth
of her flowers across the field in preparation
for the feast, luring butterflies and bees
to celebrate, to drink, to eat their fill.
It seems the machinery of new day
cannot help but spill itself like life
in glowing currents of beauty bright,
glory of the morning light that fills the sky
with shine I can believe.
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Peter C. Scheponik has published four collections of poems: Psalms to Padre Pio (National Centre for Padre Pio, INC), A Storm by Any Other Name and Songs the Sea has Sung in Me (PS Books, a division of Philadelphia Stories), and And the Sun Still Dared to Shine (Mazo Publishers). His work has appeared in a number of journals, most recently All Sins Literary Journal, Adelaide Literary Magazine.