I swaddled you in dreams from birth
of health and happiness,
of honeysuckle days and lightning bug nights,
maybe someday Duke or Yale.
For now, your frame too tiny, too frail
for the massive canvas of colours
that would paint your life.
Cruising and crawling melted
into days of dangling from
paper-thin twigs on wintering trees.
But by the first snowflake of your
seventh year, your boots stood dry
in your closet while you lay in bed
for weeks drenched with fever. Illness
we did not understand robbed you
of school days and playground games,
biking, bowling, parties, and sleepovers
with friends. Poking and prodding, tests and
guesses were your life now, and finally
treatment with promise of snowy boots next winter.
Your sweet childhood was now your Everest,
with every crag and crevice a boulder, every
step an avalanche of fear, the distant peak
poking through greying clouds like
a beckoning finger, your damaged health
a relentless, blustery thunderstorm.
We didn't know the hardest part of climbing
was never reaching the top. Not really.
It was the sides.
It was always the sides.
Shelly Blankman and her husband Jon fill their empty nest in Columbia, Maryland with 4 cat rescues. They have two sons, one in New York and one in Texas. After a stint as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the at Marshall University , she followed a career path in journalism and public relations, but her first love has always been poetry. She has been published previously in The Ekphrastic Review, as well as Visual Verse, Verse-Virtual, Silver Birch Press, Poetry Superhighway, and Praxis Magazine.
Contents of a Canopic Jar (My Large Intestine Speaks)
Serqet clings tightly to her neck,
and the girl turns mute but begins to breathe.
Snake or scorpion, she is no
match for my serpentine windings: five feet,
home to a forgotten multitude of
creatures, unevolved. Revolting, some think.
of a dark, moist microbiome that seems
I am home to them all, and they break down
the things you can never digest,
like the falcon’s tomial tooth.
That falcon-headed god said he’d return her heart.
No matter, so long as my coils descend.
Consume her, contain her.
Emily Bowles is a writer and teacher in Wisconsin. She's published poems in Page & Spine, The Road Not Taken, Word Curd, and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets' forthcoming calendar. Some of her writing is available on her blog at: http://braving77.blogspot.com/.
On canvas skin, she tattoos herself,
pulls down the zipper in the centre
of her chest to show bone,
rods of steel from the car accident,
La Columna Rota a Calzada de Tlapan.
Still life with bus ride and shrapnel,
At The Pallacio de Bellas Artes,
walls are full of blood, rinds of watermelon
spilled of its seeds.
30,000 pieces of Frida behind glass
X-rays of her fractured back,
a ripped bus ticket, the ghost of my fingerprints
on glass, a No Tocar, Do Not Touch in Spanish.
They hang your blood on the wall, and we gawk,
the heart unravelling, scissors in your hand
to hold back the flow.
Robert Walicki's work has appeared in over 40 publications including Vox Populi, Stone Highway Review, The Kentucky Review, Red River Review, and others. A Pushcart and a Best of The Net nominee, Robert currently has two chapbooks published: A Room Full of Trees (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and The Almost Sound of Snow Falling (Night Ballet Press), which was nominated to the 2016 Poet’s House List of Books in NYC.
You Are Safe, Little Ones
I see a footbridge high above a gorge.
One bannister is gone; the other lies
on narrow rotting boards. Rough waters surge
beneath this passageway that creaks and sighs
in answer to footfalls of children who,
while clinging to each other, move ahead
with wary steps toward home and suppertime
and hope they'll soon be safely tucked in bed.
These innocents are not alone. Unknown
to them, an angel stands close by to keep
them safe from peril that could plunge them to
the depths. Tonight no one will grieve and weep.
Janice Canerdy is a retired high-school English teacher from Potts Camp, Mississippi. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, journals, and anthologies. Her first book, Expressions of Faith (Christian Faith Publishing, 2016), may be purchased online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
*Editor's note: This famous painting of children crossing a bridge, protected by a guardian angel, is familiar to countless people whose childhood bedrooms included a print of the work, like a night light, or whose picture Bibles and Sunday Schools featured the art. There is much confusion over the artist, often listed as Lindberg Heilige Schutzengel, or sometimes as "Heilige Schutzengel by Lindberg." Heilige Schutzengel means Holy Guardian Angel in German, and is a reference to the content of the painting, but Linberg was one of the poster printers for this work, not the artist's name. H. Zabateri was an Austrian academic painter of mythological and religious scenes; however, he also did not exist and was a pseudonym for Hans Zatzka. In turn, Zatzka also used Pierre de Ronsard, Joseph Bernard, and Bernard Zatzka, adding to the tangle. The purpose behind the artist's multiple identities was probably, in part, eccentricity, but also pragmatic: he was extremely prolific, and contracts limited how many works he could legally sell, so one way to circumvent that was to paint under different names.
Sometimes visual artists represent difficult concepts in literal ways. Here, the painter represents mixed-racial parentage by painting Aboriginal extremities on a woman depicted as having a white face. The painting is from a series by Arthur Boyd titled Brides, which explores contemporary issues in marriage.
Two worlds: mixed.
Lindsey Thäden is the most recent winner of New York's 2016 #PoetweetNYC contest. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Philadelphia-based Apeiron Review, eleven40seven, New York Metro, Passages North and Vending Machine Press, which is e-published from Sydney, Australia.
What about Courbet’s Origin of the World?
What a place.
What a face in the crowd.
What theatre, so many entrances and exits.
What an idyllic landscape, rolling hills and all that.
What a place of worship.
What an offense to good taste.
What, a virgin?
What about sex?
What’s the title again?
What about the scientist’s dilemma: like beginnings and endings, chickens and eggs?
What great source material for a Bible study class.
What about sex?
What a serious discussion they had before she let Courbet set up shop between her legs.
What I would have given to have been there.
What happened in 1866 that inspired model and artist to create this work?
What could have better sufficed to forward the confabulation of the times on absolutes?
What is left to the imagination is far greater than what one supposes at first glance.
What’s wrong in this picture?
What’s not to like about it?
What about sex?
What about posing that question to the model?
What we know is that some say her head was cut off and later found, others say not true.
What is this painting doing here, displayed where so many innocents pass by every day?
What a place of honor.
What about sex?
What a success.
Jacalyn Carley is a writer living in Berlin. She has published four books (only available in German translation), a number of poems and short fiction, and is currently dedicated to writing about and drawing the human figure. She is On-site Director for Sarah Lawrence College 'Summer Arts in Berlin' study abroad program. More about her: jacalyn-carley.com
Somewhere in the West
Madge the Mysterious, what he called her when they met, waits stiff-backed in red dress on red bed in room with red chair. Viking bones could conquer his pasty freckled skin, towering insecurity about her towering height. Instead, she wears low heels, slouches beside him. She hopes he will admire her from the west-facing windows when he returns with another pack of cigarettes. He yelled last night. Because she needed a restroom? Because she turned the radio dial? They didn’t speak for miles. Didn’t speak even when he took her from behind in the night, then rolled over. He’s a good man, mostly, she had told her friend Lena. He just gets mad sometimes, over details. He likes order. Likes his way more like, Lena said, having seen blood flush his face on their double date when Madge ordered another drink. They walked behind the men after dinner. Madge whispered, I hate how he tastes after a smoke. She didn’t smoke but always kissed Hank back, not saying anything, not since a few weeks after they met. Wealthy, well-traveled Hank made her want to abandon her hometown, secretarial job, family, her life. Madge wants to be irresistible so Hank will take her farther in his peacock-proud green car. He said they’d see red-pink-beige mesas; mountains; canyons. But all she’s seen is miles of crop fields, crosses, red-white-blue flags, cattle, ranches, so many star symbols, barbed wire. She said, This isn’t what I thought the West would look like. Hank flicked the burned down Camel bud out his open window, the window that let wind in to whip her ash-blonde hair into her eyes. This ain’t the West yet, honey. She’d never been this far from Baltimore, thought, This must be the middle-west, or thereabouts, a godforsaken place of tornados raging, tossing, tearing, taking at whim. Hank talked nuptials but hadn’t proposed, had wandering eyes that glue-stuck on other women. Madge formulated the plan while he drove, while she pretended to sleep. She had money in her suitcase lining. She would leave where and when he least expects. Not Vegas or Hollywood. Not that far. Madge will disappear in some city with a bus or train to take her to a place that shows a shade of red she recognizes in herself; a place that cannot own her; a place that will save her life.
Janet St. John
Janet St. John lives and writes in New Mexico. Her poetry and flash fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines includingThe Nebraska Review, Poet Lore, StepAway, After Hours, Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing, Canary: A Literary Journal of Environmental Crisis,and bosque: the magazine. With arts funding under attack, she is dedicated to writing and creating even more art, keeping convos about the arts even more alive, and personally supporting as many artists and arts programs as she can. Her weekly blog series "Art & Soul Shorts" is part of that mission: https://www.janetstjohn.com/blog
Emil Nolde, The Prophet (1912)
He has gouged the future out of wood,
crucified his own face –
brow and nose a cross, eyes nails,
beard a modern Golgotha.
He cannot say: Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do,
because his mouth is carved shut,
chiselled by himself into silence.
He has no wish to hear
what his self-portrait has to say
and cannot bear to know
what he sees beyond the frame.
Jonathan Taylor is an author, critic and lecturer. His books include the poetry collection Musicolepsy (Shoestring, 2013), and the novel Melissa (Salt, 2015). He is director of the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Leicester in the UK. His website is www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk.
Let us meander, shall we, through the tall
Fox gloves, the larkspur, the holly hocks, on
The herringbone brick path that anchors all
The mayhem of this wild cottage garden.
Let us wander by the sections, each bed
A riot of green with lavender, blue,
White, and pink spilling out of petaled heads
And unfurled buds to catch each other’s view.
Let us listen for the drone of the bees
Deep at work within each flower’s heart, their
Sunny hum the backdrop of this lively
Yard of blooming fragrance that paints the air.
Let us rejoice for blossom and for leaf--
Twin antidotes to misery and grief.
Juleigh Howard Hobson
Julie Howard Hobson's poetry has appeared in many print and online publications, as well as anthologies, including The Alabama Literary Review, The Lyric, Able Muse, The Raintown Review, Sugar Mule, Mezzo Cammin, and The New Verse New. The poet has also served as assistant poetry editor at Able Muse. A poetry collection, Remind Me, is forthcoming from Ancient Cypress Press
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