I knew a man with posture just like this--
loafers spread wide apart, hands casually
shoved in pants pockets, leaning at his ease
against a door. As if he owned the place.
He was a med school student. Unafraid
of sickness, death, his patients, or his bosses,
he’d stand with this relaxed and cocky posture
amid the I.C.U.’s tube-tangled beds
and rattle off the latest blood-test findings
in a loud, bored voice. One irked attending
commented, “A guy who stands like that
is bound to be a surgeon.” Maybe not bad,
but careless. When a patient’s health got worse
from a mistake he made, he blamed a nurse.
Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016). Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translations appear or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, The Best of the Raintown Review, Denver Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. Her website is http://jennalewriting.com/
Bugs buzz and bump against that porch light,
lost in their own demise, wizened, but hardly wise.
Bare shoulders thimbled into the night as she leans,
her whole body a set of firecrackers going off one
after another and she can’t stop them—pop, pop, pop--
as the smoke curls and that cutting smell of sulphur
loops him in. Not that long ago she posed
before the mirror on the back of the bathroom door
loving the way the pink clung to her skin, but now
she’s tired of him, his eyes tiny claws, his breath
common swill. Yeah, she liked him before, the way
his hand felt like a tattoo on her arm, a dragon
that claimed her, that made the other girls turn
and stare. Yeah, that was good, fine, like thick
syrup slipping through maples in early spring. But
now, outside her green door, she doesn’t want him
anymore. Wishes she could be ten again, arms
outstretched chasing fireflies, feet bare in wet grass,
no one watching, nothing to decide, questions
without answers as far away as the stars.
Judy Kaber lives in Belfast, Maine. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, both print and online, including Eclectica, Off the Coast, The Comstock Review, and The Guardian. Contest credits include the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest and the Larry Kramer Memorial Chapbook Contest for her chapbook Rehearsing in the Dark. Additional work may be viewed at www.judykaber.com
a tanka, untitled
words grow muted
and hearing diminished –
I begin to tiptoe
along the lonely curve
of inner silence
This poem was written as part of the 20 Poem Challenge.
Mary Kendall lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her current work and publications can be found on her writing blog, A Poet in Time (www.apoetintime.com). She is the author of a chapbook, Erasing the Doubt (2015) and co-author of A Giving Garden (2009).
Munch: Les Solitaires (Deux Personnes)
(from the exhibit: Munch and Modernism, Paris, 2010)
I think I know these two.
I’ve met them before,
attended their wedding.
The man stands behind the woman
as he must, just as a woman
must stand behind her man.
A simple premise so hard to do.
If this is a sky, let it be a night sky,
yet there are no stars, no planes have
been invented to pass over them.
No cell phones to stare at.
They will have to talk.
What can they say?
“The river is made out of wood”?
“Stop being so two dimensional”?
“Yes we can!”
Their hope is already far behind them.
All that remains is their solitude.
And the callous whispers of modernity.
Clint Margrave is the author of Salute the Wreckage (2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012), both published by NYQ Books. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, as well as in New York Quarterly, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, Word Riot, and Ambit (UK), among others. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.
What the Landscape Said
What did she do to torture me
into gold? She looked.
She looks and looks,
deploys her plunging eye.
I’ve heard her laugh.
It’s dredged up
from somewhere dark, a clatter,
clarion call. But now she looks.
a depth charge blows. I’m
epidermis, deltoid, toe. A feast
of sleeping cells. She looks,
and beauty creeps on me
Later, we’ll drink beer and laugh
but now I’m only gold and skin.
Tanaka Mhishi is a poet, playwright and performer based in London. His work has appeared recently at Rogue Agent Journal and Black Heart Magazine. For more details visit tanakamhishi.co.uk.
The Answer is No
What does it mean to keep stretching
latticework, a new musculature
as good as new skin
a new face
to act through?
slips the elastic
behind my head I become Kay
the artist then ship bones or
a bridge for sparrows—a landscape eventually
A metaphysical experiment
a canvas of blank canvases--
the mask, unmasked--
propped before behind
so many others
but even I’m surprised when it’s not me
under the heavy oil, the hard line. Not me at all.
Stacey Balkun is the author of Jackalope-Girl Learns to Speak (dancing girl 2016) & Lost City Museum (ELJ 2016). A Finalist for the 2016 Event Horizon Science Poetry Competition as well as the Center for Women Writer's 2016 Rita Dove Award, her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Muzzle, THRUSH, Bayou, and others. A 2015 Hambidge Fellow, Stacey served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2013. She holds an MFA from Fresno State and teaches poetry online at The Poetry Barn.
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