Two poems by Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Engulfed

You were a flood after a drought—
my soil had turned to sand. Your waters
surged through fields; my roots were brittle
—impossible not to be swept up in the torrent.

Many think parched ground can swallow
the deluge, welcome it like a lover—
but a few with oracle eyes see disaster
approaching, know the parts of land
that will be washed away.

 

armistice

I.

On Monday during the new moon,
I dreamt my home was a coral castle by the sea—
you had come seeking sanctuary. Refuge.
Your confidant told you I was a healer—g
She had been in need of a remedy months
before you arrived on my shores. How weary
you have been clawing your way through
the misty marshlands, and starving deserts.

I fed you an elixir made out of white daisies,
yellow rose petals and honey—wrapped
your lacerations in gauze, my canopy of herbs
and plants covered you like a shroud, a chrysalis.
I woke before your wounds fully healed.

II.

Full moon reality, another Monday:
we are asked to wash away—
release what no longer serves us, cleanse
our scars with fresh moon water—
anoint them so they shine like stars.

This is the final step in restoration:
say it out loud, how he damaged us both—
how looking back we can’t figure out
why we stayed so long, when his only goal
was destruction, a volcano’s lava consuming
everything in its path. Countless others,
became scorched and annihilated—
their words are lost on the wind, or buried
under molten rock—incidents better forgotten.

We must spill truth into teacups.
Let my words be the catalyst—
there is no other way to begin.

 

Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in Better Than Starbucks Magazine, Fevers of the Mind, and Pink Plastic House. Marisa is the co-editor of the anthology “Kirstofia.” She has work forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit Mag, Analogies and Allegories, and Rough Diamond. Her second chapbook When Goddesses Wake will be published later this year by Maverick Duck Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris. You can find more of her work at http://www.marisasilvadunbar.com

Three poems by Nancy Scott

Leo and the Deer Meat

His freezer’s stuffed with packs of deer meat.
On the first day of bow hunting season
he says he’s out before dawn.

How many kills does it take to fill a freezer?
Changing the subject, he says, Is a beer okay?
Somehow we end up in bed. It’s easier

to forget the deer with the lights off.
He says he never let the deer bleed out;
he’d follow the blood trail and take the deer

down with a well-aimed arrow.
I’m upset he shares this, until he tells me
his wife insisted that nobody in their house

was going to eat Bambi. Shortly after that
she ran off with her therapist, leaving behind
a son, a daughter, and a full freezer.

The children complain there’s no room
in the freezer to store ice cream or popsicles.
One Sunday afternoon he offers to make me

venison stew with red currant jelly and bacon.
It’s tasty, no fat. I cook it until it’s tender.
I see the wounded deer collapse.

Let’s go out, I say. I feel like Chinese.
Over chow mein we run out of conversation.
I heard he died a few years back.

First appeared in US1 Worksheets

 

Burnt Toast

When Bliss and I arrived at her cabin on one of the Finger Lakes,
Ellen invited us to stay as long as we liked, but insisted on
doing the cooking. Not wanting to be rude, we ate the burnt toast
and the mystery stew she’d simmer for hours.

You could adjust the heat on the toaster, we suggested,
believing our earnestness might persuade Ellen to do just that.
You’re right, she agreed, as she scraped the burnt off today’s
cold toast, charred bits littering the floor like dead bugs.

Bliss was a vegetarian, assumed whatever was in the stew
must have come from her garden. One drizzly morning,
Ellen swept up the bugs and put on Wellingtons and a poncho.
Going to check the traps, she said. Never mentioned them before.

Bliss rolled his eyes, but we kept silent―better not to ask
what she hoped to snare. Ellen worked in town, so for two months
we’d slept in, listened to Coldplay, got high, sometimes walked
along the lake until even awesome scenery became an eyesore.

Worse yet, our stash was nearly gone. The idea that Bliss and I
might be eating possum or skunk or god-knows-what was enough
to convince us it was time to leave. That night thankfully no stew―
the traps must have been empty. We told Ellen we’d landed a gig

in Buffalo. Safe travel, she said. The next day she handed us
a loaf of freshly baked bread, yeasty and warm. We trekked
several miles to the highway. With no idea which direction to go,
we unwrapped the bread and ate the whole loaf, every crumb.

First appeared in US1 Worksheets

 

The Awesome Wind, Northern California, 2017

Our world’s on fire. The wind blusters across
the countryside, taunting us to fear its awesome
power, sparks the ember, turns everything to char.

Fire lives inside the tree, hollows out the core.
A squirrel clings to a branch. We watch as fire
inhales, then spits out fur and bone. No relief

until the wind calms and fire sates its hunger.
The sky is not a sky we’ve ever known. Ash rains
down spectral and acrid. We can hardly breathe.

First appeared in Exit 13

 

Nancy Scott is the author of 10 books of poetry and two novels. For many years she was managing editor of US1 Worksheets. Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies including Misfit Magazine, Edison Review, Kelsey Review, and Journal of New Jersey Poets. A social worker for the State of New Jersey, she memorialized her work in many of her poems. She is also a collage artist and has exhibited her works in many juried shows. More at http://www.nancyscott.net

Two poems by Christian Ward

Mussel

Every shell is dipped in night.
Place an ear against the ceramic
to eavesdrop on fox squabbles,
crows watching rubbish bags
left split open like unfinished
operations, brambles unfurling
their fruit. Humans, extras
with no dialogue. Open every
shell to reveal day – the glazed
pottery, a perfect sky. Of course,
there’s the meat: An orange muscle
on a ready-made plate. Quiet,
contemplative. I threw up the sea
the first time I tried it. Didn’t know
I was chewing its prayer.

Previously published in FEED

Portrait of myself with pitcher plant

Flies drunk with desire
admire the waxy frog throated
vase a little too much.
Abseil backwards. Land
upside down in a graveyard
while the open stomach
digests their dreams.

I pause the YouTube video,
remind myself of how
intoxicated I was on everything
you promised before
falling backwards to be digested
in the acid bath of our life.

I am a walking curtain
filled with holes. Look how
the stars shine through me.

Christian Ward is a UK-based writer who has recently appeared in Literary Yard, Open Minds Quarterly and Eskimopie.

Acid Reflux by Courtenay S. Gray

acid reflux

if you find yourself in a group of people,
expect to have a fight on your hands.
they will call you a pseudo-intellectual,
but what they don’t understand is that
they have fallen foul to the erudite charms
of pretentious pretenders.

pour yourself a glass of wine
and see how they come out of
the woodwork to criticise the
smoothness of your pour, the
cleanliness of the glass, and the
quality of the wine.

throughout it all, you will
find yourself trying to prove
your worth to glassy-eyed
folk who refuse to acknowledge
your worth and prowess because
they deem themselves to be prettier
than you, more intelligent,
and worth knowing.

as I drift off to sleep at night,
I get bad acid reflux.
I’ve come to the astute conclusion
that it isn’t the coffee that causes it,
it’s the knowledge that nobody
will see you for who you are.
they gag you by shoving torn
up poetry into your mouth and
taping chocolate buttons to your
eyes.

Courtenay S. Gray is a writer from the North of England. She has been featured in publications such as Maudlin House, Daily Drunk Mag and Red Fez. Nominations: Pushcart Prize (2020) / Runner up for the 2021 Literary Lancashire Award in Poetry. STRAWBERRY/Alien Buddha Press. Twitter: @courtenaywrites / Blog: http://www.courtenayscorner.com

A Job To Do by Bill Tope

A Job to Do

There was a haze of moisture in the refracted
Light of the streetlamps. I drew a deep breath,
Released it. I took up the noose. My job lay
Before me. It was 4 a.m., a good morning for
A hanging.

Bill Tope is retired, and lives just outside St. Louis, Mo., on the east side of the Mississippi, and has been writing for about a year.