Category: Poetry (Page 1 of 8)

Lake Sagatagan Summer

By Denton Loving

After evensong at the abbey, we walk circles
in the woods, weaving through deerflies

in kamikaze flights. The cerulean warbler
mates among these trees, we’re told,

so we keep vigil for blue flickers in leaves.
So far, nothing. On half-submerged logs,

turtles perch like hard-shelled gods—
We canoe to the deepest part of the lake

before we can talk about who we were
before the other existed as witness.

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Crow Cento, Time Cento

By Jessica Goodfellow

Crow Cento

There was a broken jaw of light at dusk where the crows
pinned to each tree
the hammer’s shadow in the shadow of a hand.
Sound of a crow, pulling the one nail from its voice,
claim the far away in me—
a never air, the lens for being.
Every microcosm needs its crow,
and the crows are up to no good:
They invented the earth for people,
inventing pizzicato as they fled the horizon.

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Yearbook

BY: Leila Bilick

In the yeshiva, button-downed boys on one side,
girls in skirts that touch their ankles on the other,

the teenagers rock forward and forward, hopeful
young trees in a single-minded wind, singing:

Al tashlicheini milfanecha
Don’t cast me away from before you

Singing: desire us, consume us and be
consumed toward wholeness, belly of the whale

Faith is hunger feeding itself, a sea forever
filling emptying filling

Ruach kodshecha al tikach mimeni
Your holy spirit – don’t take it from within me

They were taught the neshama lives beyond the body but
here it is! enlivening groin, breastbone, back of the brain

Fists pound the prayer, spray of blood
from the pomegranate’s liberated fruit

They are deep inside begging
to go deeper still

In the gymnasium-turned-sanctuary
oneness seeking oneness

Years later –
make me a clean heart, renew my spirit

fingertip tracing photos like depressions
on a cave wall, I will understand desire

as arrival, the reward in the reaching
I don’t warn them

for if they know
they will already be on the other side of longing


Leila Bilick’s poetry has been published in Soundings East and The Merrimack Review. She has an MA in English from UMass Boston, and works as a grant writer. She hails from the East Coast but is slowly and surely making Los Angeles her home. She has two daughters.

They Cling

BY: Kimberly Ann Priest

Wingspan for shouldering witness,
things seen but

weighted with inflection—flicker
of light on wide teeth.  

Synonyms split like fireflies in glass—
surveyed, examined.

Moths collide
with all eyes open—too minuscule to see

the screen door’s wire cage. A pair
of scissors:

heavy are my hands.
Your mouth cut like a newspaper clipping—

brief confirmation of a face
humming like a dial tone, a very clear

connection; the way
he also hummed from ear lobe to artery

to waist—
to the pale skin circumferencing

my labia where the hair is shaved
and the follicles

have never seen the light. I see
the light licking at our roof beams,

its energy worn out
rehearsing re-entry, repeating

do this in remembrance of he. I do.
You wipe

your penis clean with the shirt, discarded,
at the end of our bed

as though the half-hard limb
in your hand is object, sharp, ready to

be sheathed.
And you face me as you do this,

taking in the whole scene:
My under-spread body pried open

enough, slightly.
Your flipped up finger

unblemished with afterthoughts of me,
lukewarm and leaving

the slaughter re-composing
the first time a pedophile carved up

my seams.
I lie in the heart of the afterglow, naked,

both men bisecting
this bomb-shelter night.


Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of White Goat Black Sheep (FLP) and her poetry has appeared in several literary journals including The 3288 Review, riverSedge, Borderlands: The Texas Poetry Review, The West Texas Literary Review, Welter, Ruminate, and The Berkeley Poetry Review. She holds an MFA from New England College. She is assistant professor at MSU, reviewer for NewPages, and editor for the Nimrod International Journal. Her work can be found at kimberlyannpriest.com or you can follow her at https://www.facebook.com/kimberlyann.author/ and https://www.instagram.com/kimberlyannpriest.poet/.

Scene from a Horror Movie

BY: Elizabeth Hazen

Her breasts heave, thrusting
cleavage into slants

of glowing blue, and through
her cotton nightgown

you see her nipples wink.
I watch the wash

of eerie light accentuate
the dark between her

girlish thighs. Someone
with leather gloves

reflected in a knife.
Her legs are long and slender;

each frame shortens
her nightie. Tension mounts;  

the killer strikes, and she grasps
at nothing, her face

warping like a rubber mask;
her body shudders.

A gasp like hard candy
catches in my throat.


Elizabeth Hazen is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared or will appear in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Her first book, Chaos Theories, was published in 2016. Her second book will be released in 2020.

Revolutionaries

BY: Craig Kurtz

Based on Middleton and Rowley’s play The Old Law

We’re going to obviate them all
’cause being old’s against the law;
we’ve legislation that now bans
all crones and coots and their bedpans.
We’re done with them and their bad backs,
their politics and their earwax;
they had their shot, they’ve had their say —
their blatherings are démodé.
Ah, yes, ‘it’s for your own damn good’ —
their fav’rite word, I’m sure, is ‘should’;
they give advice to everyone
except themselves, then it’s no fun;
for years, we’ve heard them sneer and scold —
if they’re so smart, how’d they get old?
They’ve hogged the spotlight and they’ve run
the country they think they begun;
well, now it’s time to step aside —
someone inform ’em that they died.
It’s time that we got rid of them
with their sagacity and phlegm;
we’ve had enough of their mistakes,
their speeches and their bellyaches.
What they have done for world affairs
deserves a good kick down the stairs;
when they’re removed, then things will be
utopian, and hassle-free;
we’ll have no wars when they are gone,
we’ll all look great with swimsuits on;
we won’t hear ‘hmph, I told you so’ —
inheriting won’t be so slow.
The world is for adventurers,
not fuddy-duddies with dentures;
we’re extirpating the old guard —
they really shouldn’t take it hard;
and when time’s up for you and me,
we’ll reconsider this decree.


Craig Kurtz is the author of Wortley Clutterbuck’s Practical Guide to Deplorable Personages, illustrated by Anni Wilson. Recent work published by Rattle, Perceptions and William & Mary Review. More content at https://kurtzandwilson.blogspot.com.

Ma’s Canh Chua Recipe: April – December 1975

BY: Mylo Lam

Canh chua, translated as “sour soup,” is a tamarind-based stew that originated in the Mekong Delta.

Ingredients:

¾ cup of “I barely know this man”

½ teaspoon of “I barely know his father”

6 cups of “I guess we’re all running away together now”

2 tamarind pods – picked from the tallest tree in the middle of a storm

1 pineapple – quartered and sliced (good luck)

2 tomatoes – quartered and sliced (good luck)

bean sprouts – as many as you can get your hands on

1 catfish – avoid the blood swimming downstream, if possible

Protein alternatives:

  • 1 handful of escargots (i.e. edible snails)
  • 1 non-venomous snake (go for the head with a blunt object)

8 cups water – again, avoid the blood

Dash of whichever herbs and spices you can scrounge or barter for:

  • Thai basil
  • red chili pepper
  • garlic

sugar (get some from a fruit?)

1 deck of cards

Instructions:

  1. Two weeks before April 17, have a dream. All around you is fire except for a 40-foot statue of Quan Am off in the distance.
  2. Flee Phnom Penh. When your boyfriend tells you to run away with his family, refuse. That relationship isn’t going to last anyway.
  3. Be on the run for two weeks. Then, while running through the fields, see your boyfriend and his father chasing after you. No one else in their family is with them.
  4. For safety reasons, collect ingredients late at night/early in the morning and with a lookout.
    • For the tamarind, have someone at the base of the tree, ready to catch it.
  5. Add water to a pot and bring to a boil.
    • While water boils, play cards to pass the time.
  6. Add catfish/escargots/snake to pot.
  7. Add sugar.
  8. Smash tamarind to a fine pulp (feel free to use same blunt object used to kill snake).
    • As your boyfriend sits there, realize you’ll probably have his children.
    • Look over to your boyfriend’s dad, realize he’ll be your father-in-law.
    • Say nothing.
  9. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes, then turn off heat.
  10. Toss in bean sprouts, garlic, and Thai basil.
  11. Quietly enjoy this meal.
  12. Eight months later, get to the border of Vietnam.
    • Wait until the sun rises on January 1st.
    • Have your future father-in-law use what little Vietnamese he knows to get you in.
    • Hope you can get the ingredients needed to make proper canh chua.
  13. Have a dream you’re walking down a narrow concrete stairway, leading to the outside. At the base is a two-headed snake gazing at you.
    • Realize you’re pregnant with your first daughter.

Mylo Lam is a writer and performer from Los Angeles. He and his family were refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia. He holds a B.A. in communications and theater from UCLA and a Master of Education from Harvard University. His work will be published in the upcoming issue of Barrelhouse. More of his poetry can be viewed at mylolam.com.

If Freedom

BY: Leila Bilick

If I eat a pulled pork sandwich
and if I love it
will some small section of my body
like a nailbed remain kosher?
If not, what other undoings?
If I am a gift I once gave someone
can I take myself back?
If I become a woman with a little black dress
who else can I become?
If they say I look younger and younger
the older I get
will I know the moment of my birth when I arrive?
If I tell a man in a dark bar that I want him
that his mouth is pretty
and I don’t care what he has to say
will I still love to read?
If I believe I’m afraid of water
but I’m already in the pool
is this like a dream about drowning?
And if fire is my element now
does it matter?
If fear is the dark side of desire
If the bar fills with light
and I become visible
If I bloom full-petalled
If I love the salt on the tongue
If my body becomes the pooled light of desire
If shame slips off like a final piece
of discarded clothing
If I give myself and take myself away
like a God I once knew
If answers come and I refuse them
Which is to say I reject wholeness
Which is to say holiness
And if this hunger won’t be sated
if this ache
if I have no need for healing
if the joy, if freedom
is in asking asking asking


Leila Bilick’s poetry has been published in Soundings East and The Merrimack Review. She has an MA in English from UMass Boston, and works as a grant writer. She hails from the East Coast but is slowly and surely making Los Angeles her home. She has two daughters.

I FELL FORWARD FOR IT

BY: R. S. Stewart

I fell forward for it
but backward is where I landed.
The logic of location amused me
more than anything else had

so I tried twice more
to move myself forward without
a fall following. Was it low luck
or bad balance that kept my doubt

in rebound? Onward is how I went, wishing
I had carried a cushion
instead of the flimsy, flat hope of reason.


R. S. Stewart lives in his native western Oregon. Formerly he taught English at Christopher Newport College (now University) of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where he also founded the college theater, directing ten plays during the first two seasons. Three of his own plays have received staged readings at Oregon regional theaters. His poetry has been published in many journals in the U. S. and Europe, among them San Jose Studies; Blue Unicorn; Able Muse; The Raintown Review; Canary; Poetry Salzburg Review; 2 Bridges Review; The Same; Serving House Journal; Avatar Review; The Journal; Pif Magazine; Ink, Sweat & Tears; and Brittle Star.

Everything Decent

BY: Daniel Edward Moore

My apologies to the greatest harm
                      for the boy in me closing his eyes
                                                      to a story line of mayhem & meth
                                                                   in Dante’s circle of flames.

Forgiveness is nothing if not always
                        late to a party thrown by grief.
                                       Cerebral assent brings no relief
                                               when it all boils down to a lighter & pipe    

singing murder ballads at dawn,
                         the sun consoling your retina with hope
                                          that blinking means you’re alive.
                                                   Perhaps, something precious can stop

this bullet train to zero, like acres
                            of jaundiced sunflower smiles
                                         lining the bone crushing tracks of life
                                                                   with everything tender & decent

& I mean everything decent.
                           So pray if you will, that the shadow I see
                                                  is only with a stranger’s eyes setting behind
                                                                     the blue of my own, a sky just for me.


Moore lives on Whidbey Island in Washington State. His poems can be found in Spoon River Poetry Review, Rattle, Columbia Journal, Western Humanities Review, and others.

His poems will appear in West Trade Review, Duende Literary Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Isthmus Review, Glass Mountain Magazine, Columbia College Literary Review, Yemassee Review, Cumberland River Review, The Meadow, Bluestem Magazine, and Conclave.

His book of poetry, Confessions of a Pentecostal Buddhist, and an anthology in which he’s featured, This New Breed: Gents, Bad Boys and Barbarians Anthology, can be found on Amazon.

Visit Daniel at DanielEdwardMoore.com.

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