Two poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Showers & Rain

I’d like to see you in showers,
shadows, memories, final hours
that end this rain.
Daisies reveal your simple secrets,
yellow perverted pleasures, complicated,
often unseen mysteries like
COVID-19 virus.
Forget your sins & dance with me.
All petals at some point fall
in season come to despair
same as a desperate ending.
I focus on memories now
represent all short stories shared,
a poem or two no one will remember,
a Hemingway legacy funeral,
one family member,
one suicide at a time.

Jasper

Old Irving Park,
Chicago neighborhood
Jasper lives in a garret
no bigger than a single bed.
Jasper, 69, clouds of smoke
Lucky Strike unfiltered cigarettes.
He dips Oreo cookies in skim milk.
Six months ago
the state revoked
his driver’s license-
between the onset
of macular degeneration,
gas at $4.65 a gallon,
and late-stage emphysema,
life for Jasper has stalled out
in the middle lane
like his middle month
social security check, it is gone.
There is nothing academic about Jasper’s life.
Today the mailbox journey is down
the spiraling stairwell; midway,
he leans against the wall.
Deep breathes from his oxygen tank.
Life is annoying with plastic tubes up his nose.
Relief, back in the attic, with just his oxygen tank,
his Chicago Cubs, losers, are playing
on his radio, WGN, 720 AM.
Equipment, enjoyment at last,
Jasper leans back in his La-Z-Boy recliner.
He reaches for a new pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.
Jasper grabs a lukewarm Budweiser beer from his mini-fridge.
Deep breathes, a match lite, near his oxygen tank.

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, DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Johnson is published in more than 2033 new publications. His poems have appeared in 41 countries; he edits and publishes ten poetry sites. He is the administrator of six Facebook poetry groups; he has several new poetry chapbooks coming out soon. He has over 533 published poems to date. Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 2 Best of the Net 2018. Two hundred thirty-one poetry videos are now on YouTube.

Crush by Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Crush

I want to like the girl with the ukulele;
she’s like pink frosted cupcakes and champagne.
Her red lipstick smeared napkins
are stuck between the pages of
The Portable Dorothy Parker,
she carries in her velvet purse.

She knows how to Charleston with sparklers
in her hands, and I like the shape of her smirk
when she sings in French.

We tangoed on the side of a mountain road,
while the orange sliced moon slid down
a star speckled sky. I kissed her Moulin Rouged lips
even after she smoked her pack of strawberry cigarettes.

I want to wander the cobblestoned streets of Paris
with her, and her ballet soled feet—and I don’t even love the city
(anymore).

Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in Pink Plastic House, IceFloe Press, Mineral Lit Mag, Rising Phoenix Review, and Ghost Heart Lit. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine. She has work forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit, and Better Than Starbucks Magazine and the Eyes Wide Shut anthology “Denmark.” You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris.

Ten At Night In The Mountains Of New Hampshire by John Grey

Ten At Night In The Mountains Of New Hampshire

Who’d have thought the only bear we’d see
is in the heavens, not rampaging through the brush.
And no cougar, not even scat along the trail,
but a brilliantly-maned lion stalking the sky,
between the virgin and lynx.

Expecting new life, we’re invigorated by the old,
as we lie in perfect stillness, hands for pillow,
meadow grass for mattress, surrounded by woods
too wary for intruders, while the heavens show
no such fear, every creature in their jeweled domain
more than willing to reveal itself to any eye turned upward.

Look, the bull, with Pleiades on his shoulder.
And there, Perseus gripping Medusa’s head.
We fall asleep, under cover of ancient light,
a sky continuously remembering itself,
a night we won’t forget.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon.

The Grip by Arielle Mara LaBrea, from Issue #40

The grip

You would whisper in my five year old
ear, “If you get lost, I’m not going
to come looking for you” while we
walked hand in hand through Hershey
Park, while my father was in line
buying food for us. It was always a
tenuous grip—your perfectly manicured
fingers around my chubby digits. Your
threat of abandonment is the oldest in
my memory. I was the most disposable
of your creations, the dark haired,
blue eyed picture that resembled nothing
you ever wanted, or needed.

Setsunai by Courtenay S. Gray

切ない 

(Setsunai)

Photographs last a lifetime — put me in her place.

I insert myself like you insert yourself inside me/at least what I had imagined would happen. 

All that was before, the monochrome photographs — stoic hands rested beneath your chin like an Adonis. 

Japan became your safe haven — your retreat. 

We could have gone there together — the maraschino cherries abreast in our hotel room/the jazz piano playing on the record you brought in your case. 

The black void of sky — echoing icy breaths/the energy of coitus and tangible lust metastasising. I am the feeder of your dreams, rebirthing nostalgia with its vanilla pod perfume. 

I would dance with you to ラビリンス by Mondo Grosso ft Hikari Mitsushima — my hair pasted with starry glitter, my red nails tracing your back. 

Our song, electric with the soft baby blue it now exudes — a palette cleanser for being too happy, too content. Before, she reduced you — under the thumb of hinged fragility. 

Grief is to be sleepwalking — to be a victim to yourself. The scent of you sticks to my nostrils — vetiver and musk merging to form a powerful organism that haunts me. 

In the shimmered silver shadow of the mirror — my mouth is agape, savouring the remaining maraschino cherries. The glassy syrup travels down my neck like how you peppered your kisses. 

Courtenay S. Gray is a writer, poet and essayist from the North of England. She has been featured in publications such as Vamp Cat Mag and Trick Zine & Thorn Lit Magazine which she edited for before its termination. Courtenay is a 2020 pushcart nominee. 

Twitter: @courtenaywrites

Website: www.courtenaygray.com