Two Poems by Steven Deutsch

After When I finally left the stage to little more than polite applause, I had no strength  of will to wipe the makeup off, nor any desire to shed the costume  as dear to me as skin. In years past, I’d have moved beyond today in minutes and stepped outside to take a long walk home—all thoughts on tomorrow, sure to be even better. Plans—I had them. A million ideas to sift through my hands like flour for bread dough. Where are they now? I sit and I wait for the crosstown bus. Another gargoyle decorating the bench just outside…

Granite Replacing Medical by Henry Cherry

Granite with Pinon Freckles It’s possible the guy at the bar was just an admonishment. The rain and the heat were strips of plastic hanging in the doorway. A box of pizza left on a corner of the bar, and an electric pot of water with lukewarm hot dogs. You could smile. You could fit a balled hand in the cracked slats under the bar. No disorder, skipping along the CD jukebox. Packets of caffeine pills And Alka-Seltzer next to the money. Everyone switching seats as the night went on. But no one remembers names from those times. Was it…

Eulogy for King Kong by Anne Darrow, by Hollie Dugas

I heard when you got to New York you went about picking up every blonde woman in a white dress and a beret looking for me. I only knew of your dark leathery hand sliding into the ninth floor of my hotel window to cradle me like that night we met atop the world and you permitted me breathe in the palm of your hand like a goddess as you chewed large shoots of bamboo. In the heart of the jungle, I somersaulted to appease you. You could have eaten my skull, a large juicy olive. But people do not…

Three Poems by Beate Sigriddaughter

What She Doesn’t Want She doesn’t want to complain. That in itself makes things quite difficult. She only gets to walk the path of beauty once, and she doesn’t want to do it in rags. She doesn’t want a dog and she doesn’t want a gun, not even for protection. She doesn’t want to have to beg for light, and she doesn’t want to stumble in the dark. She doesn’t want to deal with people. She doesn’t want to be a willow to their wind and rain. She doesn’t want to talk about it. She doesn’t want to frighten the…

Three Poems by Abigail Dembo

Gossip The man who lives in the shack in the woods is the planter of weeds. He wears a fisherman’s hat and carries a burlap satchel. When he steals chickens, he puts them in this satchel. When he steals eggs, he puts them in the hat. His heart is flies on a rotten apple. His ethics are the eyes of a dead sheep. He keeps a sharpened spoon in his back pocket. Sticks it in a man’s soul and takes its wallet. His ears are filled with thistle.  Boils a brick for his dinner. His mother was a grackle. His father had pointed teeth.…

Three Poems by Kai Cruz

Machinal Pull yourself together You did this to yourself You made it this way Tell the story The story of a helpless creature A being who did not ask for this Any of this Sometimes the stories we tell Are not just reflections of us Sometimes we create As a cry For help God help us all Why would you do this Why would you make something so horrible A living thing It lives and it lives to die It lives to bleed Scraping itself back together Wasting and wasting away It cannot help itself You cannot help it All…

What am I supposed to do with this? by Madeira Miller

All of this feeling, all of this wistful, all these memories in the shape of phantoms, the snakeskin of your arms around me? This nomadic heart which always finds its way back to you? The soft underbelly of rage, which was always secretly an armful of sorrow? A shrapnel of grief? A mouth like an open wound? Your name engraved on a hatchet? Your fingerprints, but all I could think about were your hands, your beautiful hands, how they hurt me, what am I supposed to do with all of this hurt? The nomenclature of the hatchet caked in dirt…

Three Poems by Radian Hong

A Flat Tire You contemplate the car sitting back on its round rubber haunches as if it were some lame exotic animal, the last of its convertible kind. Pity in your eyes, you bite your round rubber lip and put your ear to the warm tire like a stethoscope to listen for the telltale hiss. You hope only to diagnose the cancer whose presence you can already sense. The sun is hot on your plastic neck. Giving up, you lean against the car door and fan yourself. You look up and down the flat, shimmering road and wait for someone…

Three Poems by Ben Murigu

Black Houdini For a while, he’s been missing our Mheshimiwa— A shepherd unseen A leader heard A presence unfelt A true, black Houdini. Five party-branded calendars Cheap and unseemly Used and discarded After having angered our visitors Marred our living rooms. No word from his honorable person No help from his hired personnel. No progress report on his projects Stalled or otherwise No newsworthy mentions No fruitful radio discussions. A Harvard-educated marine biologist Who’s a mirage A myth A true lie, living and breathing— A ghost in his classy government-issued office at Continental House A stranger at his posh wananchi-built…

Thirteen by Tara A. Elliott

Plunging blade into white water,      my older cousin leaves girlhood  in the smooth wake     of creamless strokes.  Later, I creak the vanity     open, knock over bottles and jars      and hunt on Barbie-like tiptoes     for the can of Barbasol. I fill the bath with water so hot it turns bathroom     to cloud, perch along the lip of the tub—     my father’s razor heavy with the weight     of adolescent want. I will not ask anyone how—just     lather, drag the blade, and slice shin into a strip…