Two poems by Shannon Phillips

Her heart is a bird trapped in her chest

She releases the bird because holding onto it isn’t right.
The time to tell the truth is now. Don’t look over there.
Looking within is the right way to find out why someone
must find a way out. Someone could return there and grip
her, choking out an ache from a can’t-do-without wound,
a wound that speaks in song, a wound begging the tongue
to heal its exact hurt, the loss of whose shape aches to the tune
of her eyes as she lets go of your bird-heart beating out words.

 
Dearly Beloved

He feeds her raspberries
dipped in cream.
His tongue, precise
as a diamond, traces
triangles until he
deciphers the code,
allowing him to enter her
purple mood.

Her permission, more
precious than pearls,
than doves’ tears, reflects
in her eyes, and wearing
a strand of dreams, her mind
fills with warm rain and sky.

 

Shannon Phillips is an aspiring translator who earned her MFA in creative writing from California State University, Long Beach. Body Parts, her most recent chapbook, was published by dancing girl press in 2017. She is also the founding editor of Picture Show Press and she recently received the 28th Moon Prize from Writing In A Woman’s Voice.

Vaginismus by Lauren Davis

Vaginismus

Sugar on the tongue,
we have many hours to waste
without complete touch.

Nothing can touch the way
you could if I could
take you without pain.

What is this body if I cannot—
when full of desire—join with a man.
I have waited so long to find you.

I told the sky prayers. And the sky
listened. When I fell out of the trees
strangers showed me

where you dwelled. Now that I
have brought myself to you
I cannot bring myself to you, fully.

Sugar on our lips. No nourishment
in my teaspoon. It does not matter.
Beloved, one day I will open

and I will be so open. You will hear
the rush of my footsteps approaching,
though you lie beside me.

(previously published in Each Wild Thing’s Consent, Poetry Wolf Press)

 

Lauren Davis is the author of the chapbook “Each Wild Thing’s Consent” (Poetry Wolf Press). She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and her work can be found in publications such as Prairie Schooner, Spillway, and Lunch Ticket. She is an alumni of Hypatia-in-the-Woods. She is also an editor at The Tishman Review, and teaches at The Writers’ Workshoppe in Port Townsend, WA.

When You Forget How to Write a Love Poem by Nalini Priyadarshni

When You Forget How to Write a Love Poem

You try different places at different hours,
dipping your pen in psychedelic summer skies
then switch to inky silence of monsoon clouds
when it doesn’t work
But vanilla days leer at you one after the other
until you realize that you are beyond salvation
So, while you continue to ransack your pockmarks,
for that elusive spark, you know in your heart that
you’ve forgotten how to write a love poem

You desire its cadence and metaphors as much
as the warm body of a lover in your bed on a winter morn
You finger the crumbling dry flowers rediscovered
between yellowing pages of A Hundred Years of Solitude
and long for its sinuous form to unravel in your hands
You smoke a week old stubs leafing through old loves
until your body aches under the weight of indolence
but, it refuses to be coaxed into existence

You convince nobody when you say it’s not your fault
that you’ve forgotten how to write a love poem
least of all, yourself,
a kleptomaniac in emporium of love
primping your garment of frailty
surrounded with smutty mannequins.

Craving for an escapade to run its finger on your lips,
you are offended only by the mundane,
lest it becomes your destiny.

 

Nalini Priyadarshni has been writing poetry and other stuff for almost a decade and has been published worldwide in literary magazines and journals. Her poems have been widely anthologized and collected in Doppelganger in My House and Lines Across Oceans, which she co-authored with the late D. Russel Micnhimer. Her recent publications include Better Than Starbucks, Different Truths, Duane’s PoeTree, The Ugly Writers, Counter Currents and more.

Two poems by David Vincenti

A Kite In Winter

for Jaclyn

How she longs to be the welcome interruption,
the eye-catching exception in a world of blue.

How she wants to contradict continuity,
to trace a tethered track answering only

to the one who loves her deeply enough
to unravel string with gloveless hands,

to let her out long into a cloudless sky
that loves her more than warmth, more than

the seasons, more than home. How she longs
to return that love with one perfect flight.

 

 

Red Shift

Red Shift is an increase in apparent wave length, caused by the movement of a source away from the observer. The phenomenon causes light to appear redder and sound to have a lower pitch. The opposite, Blue Shift, occurs when the source is moving toward.

 
It may have been that morning by the lake
when you realized you’d rather row than swim,
but the shore was so still, so free of birdsong,
that surely you think you’d have heard the turn,
felt the mosquito touch of passing time,
sensed a change in pressure. The years rush
toward you for so long then start to rush away
and you still produce the same sounds but
they strike the world differently than they do
your own stationary receiver. From within
a new confluence of volume and flash,
like a Stones concert whose hangovers
you can no longer stand, someone produces
a signal more sturdy than your own fallible voice
carrying this choice: stretch to a new note
or trust the echo as your song deepens
and fades, soundtrack of the reddening sunset

 

David Vincenti (www.davidvincenti.com) is a father, husband, lector, engineer, project manager, accordionist and bowler whose poems have appeared in numerous journals including Schuylkill Valley Journal, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry and the anthologies Rabbit Ears: TV Poems and Meta-Land, Poets of the Palisades II. He has authored two collections: To The Ones Who Must Be Loved (2010) and A Measure of this World: Galileo’s Dialog with the Universe (2015).

Wanda by Ryan J. Torres

Wanda

The first girl I ever kissed
when I was 8 years old
is wanted for manufacturing
and dealing
in my home town.

Judging by her mugshot
from an arrest a year ago,
it was a more serious chemical.

Back then,
she was cute and shy.
A rose of promise.

Her father was gone,
but her mother would beat her with one of his belts
on a regular basis.
Her brother was overbearing
and protective.

There was no neck tattoo
Not luggage under her lids
No scar on her left cheek.

She was as pure
and as tan
as untouched
Puerto Rican
sand
along Arecibo.

We were building with Legos
in the toy room
of my old house
when she leaned it
and I felt the softness of the opposite sex
for the first time upon my lips.

“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you,”

She said with a smile,
before strolling down Chestnut street
unguarded,
back to Lebanon’s own little Barrio
on the other side of the train tracks.

Flower Seller by Elisabeth Horan

Flower Seller

Rivera, 1941
On the asphalt I go
To Acapulco
Past the rubble; burned tires,
El agua ‘no potable’

A family, a girl, their roses,
Tantas calas
White pinafore; white linen
I can smell her youth changing over to woman

The donkey tied
The Fiat parked

I walk across the black tar flat
To ask: cuánto es para una docena
Me dice: pa’a usted Senor,
Solo ciento-cincuenta.

Miracles – these flowers
To my wife I get on one knee
Tell her – eres toda,
Completamente toda para mi

But the girl
By the road
Was in white
Her hair tight
Behind the nape
Her arched neck
Like a child

With the bouquet of calas
I cannot taste these offerings
Yet the existence of her beauty
Hangs like an odor
Of me wanting her everywhere.

 

Elisabeth Horan is a poet from Vermont fighting back with her words. She advocates for animals children women warriors of mental illness and those tender souls left feeling isolated and misunderstood. @ehoranpoet

Just Because, Bad Heart by Michael Lee Johnson

Just Because, Bad Heart

Just because I am old
do not tumble me dry.
Toss me away with those unused
Wheat pennies, Buffalo nickels, and Mercury dimes
in those pickle jars in the basement.
Do not bleach my dark memories
Salvation Army my clothes
to the poor because I died.
Do not retire me leave me a factory pension
in dust to history alone.
Save my unfinished poems refuse to toss them
into the unpolished alleyways of exile rusty trash barrows
just outside my window, just because I am old.
Do not create more spare images, adverbs
or adjectives than you need to bury me with.
Do not stand over my grave, weep,
pouring a bottle of Old Crow
bourbon whiskey without asking permission
if it can go through your kidney’s first.
When under stone sod I shall rise and go out
in my soft slippers in cold rain
dread no danger, pick yellow daffodils,
learn to spit up echoes of words
bow fiddle me up a northern Spring storm.
Do you bad heart, see in pine box of wood,
just because I got old.

 

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 1037 publications, his poems have appeared in 37 countries, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites. He has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/and 2 Best of the Net 2017. He also has 169 poetry videos on YouTube. He is the editor-in-chief of the anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, and editor-in-chief of a second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses which is available at Amazon. Michael is also editor-in-chief of Warriors with Wings: the Best in Contemporary Poetry, a smaller anthology available now.