Three poems by Meggie Royer

Post-Partum

Somewhere, a woman drowned three babies
as my mother lost her fourth.
If arithmetic works as it should,
the ground understands what it’s like
to be opened in a way
it wasn’t originally meant for.
Some horses turn wild
because a life within a stable
is no life at all.
Not like the life of a misunderstanding,
where each cell is nothing but water damage
and each bone an oar.
Not like the life of one
who ends the life of another.

 
Anya’s Garden

There was no real evidence for their origin,
their small and elfen bodies,
faint trace of tequila around the ears.
The day we brought them into our home
the whole town was flooded with darkness,
all the men taken to filling the mouths of glass lamps
with honeyed kerosene.
The women did their best to nurse them
back to health, milked until it shone
like drippings of the moon.
Beneath the sky opening like an orange palm
we thought of all the children
buried in garbage chutes
or pressed beneath stones at the bottom
of the river, wailing
as if it could bring down the stars.

 
Underdose

When we were both girls, our mother
sent us to bed with full bellies every night,
but my skin browned while yours grew moon.
I practiced with knives
while you sang with the reeds.
There were stars I’d never seen
outside my own head,
having forgotten the language for coma
and instead remembering the taste of wind.
Strange, how many men the body can let in
without collapsing.
How the universe turns the world like an apple,
how the same DNA
has different words for loss.

 

Meggie Royer is a writer from the Midwest who is working in the domestic violence field in Minnesota. Her poems have previously appeared in The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, The Minnesota Review, and more. She runs a literary journal, Persephone’s Daughters, dedicated to empowering survivors of abuse.

Two poems by Tianna G. Hansen

unleashed

the faster you heal, the closer it gets, B.
I bloodlet and track how fast the tissue heals
shooting wolfsbane into my bloodstream
like an addict, purple poison. soon it will come
for me, no matter where I hide. it finds me
in the sanitarium, it finds me in the woods.
I need to keep shooting wolfsbane in my veins
or else I will turn into the beastly other
which claimed my sister—she haunts me
appears to remind me just how bad it’s going
to get. my notebook fills with marks, how fast
the self-inflicted wounds begin to mend
how much of my humanity remains before
it will be too late, just like Ginger. before
I must embrace that wolf inside me
and set it free.

[Note: this poem is inspired by Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, 2004]

 

 

kick a hole in the sky

could they see the forest
in her eyes, the shadow
of her pelt?

an outsider, unwanted

I can run with the night
and catch the dawn.
I can kick a hole in the sky.

the forest a wild thing

red slashed into the dark—
eyes, blood.

loup-garou

through pooled moonlight
by ritual, sacrifice,
sacrament.

abandon knives of flint

use teeth / beast within
subject to the Moon

more than human.

[Note: this is a found poem; source of text: Klause, Annette C. Blood and Chocolate. New York: Delacorte Press, 1997. Print.]

 

Tianna G. Hansen has always been a poet at heart, though she studied fiction and dabbles in creative nonfiction. In human form she runs Rhythm & Bones Press (rhythmnbone.com), giving space to those with trauma turned to art. Find more of her work at creativetianna.com or follow her and her wolf writings on Twitter @tiannag92.

Two poems by HLR

Etc.

I wonder if when you refer to the women in your life
you still mention me by name
how do I taste?
rusty candy floss / acid petals / tropicana toothache
I fear that I’m no longer
one that melts in your mouth
that I’m just a part of your etcetera
demoted to “one of the others”
renamed as “and the rest of them”
that I’m languishing in a mass grave
amongst your flings and forgettables
your mistakes and unmentionables
my name erased
my significance cancelled
yes, I fear that nowadays you spit me out
rather than swallow me whole
like you used to
with pleasure
not so long ago

 

The View From The Smoking Room

I can see through
windows once obscured
by the lime tree that now stands
smaller, nude
and the skeleton
of the silver birch
its limbs that jerk
rattled by cold bursts
of clouds’ breath
and beyond the gardens
and the trembling sheds
the gas works’ silhouette
dark against a darker sky
lines erased by winter night
and houses that I
didn’t know were there
have suddenly appeared
so the terraces seem higher
roofs dripping with yellow lights
families at dining tables
clothes twisting in a tumble dryer
knives scraping on plates
a man chopping wood for the fire
the people laugh and fight
tell stories and share a joke
and are completely unaware
that I am here
indoors but looking out
into their homes
into their lives
having a smoke
deciding what to write
sipping tea
hiding in the December night
safe in anonymity
extinguishing the light
and closing the window
quietly behind me.

 

HLR is a twenty-something writer of CNF, short prose and poetry. Her work focuses on challenging subjects such as grief and addiction, and her own personal experiences living with mental illness. Perpetually on the verge of either a breakdown or a breakthrough (sometimes both), HLR was born and raised in north London and is yet to escape. Read more at http://www.treacleheart.com and @treacleheartx.

Two poems by Linda M. Crate

unforgiving bloom

there is no sense to this longing,
but is there ever?
it clings to me
like cold rain,
as it erupts like magma
from the volcano of my heart;
i don’t want to be
your magnolia flower forgotten
when the trees shed their
flowers for the coming summer—
a name you once knew,
but now have forgotten;
yet i choke on all the words
clumsily i fall before you
voiceless—
you look upon me with pity
i didn’t want nor need,
and i walk away with shame;
not knowing how to bloom in a way
that is forgivable.

 

 

my past self & i

my fear of heights,
and climbing on roofs
specifically
now makes sense after the dream;

i was fighting on a roof
when i died
and i fell and i fell until i could not wake—

now i am anew
with flesh and a body
that is mine but wasn’t then,

maybe that’s why these bones
feel out of place sometimes;

i remember who i was and who i am is not always
the same as those recollections buried
in my subconscious
little seeds of doubt and curiosity singing together
a medley of magic only my soul can decipher.

 

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six published chapbooks, and a micro-chap. She has a novel, also, called Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Productions, June 2018).

Five poems by Bruce Niedt

Cedar
(after Sylvia Plath)

we inherited the house
so we don’t know the history of the tree
planted in a row with its brothers –

a windbreak, I think they call it –
a natural fence along our back property line
that has grown stories high over decades

but this one looks different –
the branches are dying and little twigs
rain on the lawn after each storm

the trunk bows out from the ground
curving straighter as it reaches up
yet still looking precarious

the feathery leaves are sparser this year
than last, and if this giant decided to fall
it would slam right through our kitchen

when my wife was a child
one took out her swing set
moments after she left the seat

we talk about getting an arborist
sending little men to shimmy up the trunk
and trim it with knives and saws

perhaps right down to the stump
but meanwhile it looms over the yard
whispering

I move slower than an hour hand
slower than moss
but faster than procrastination

look out, look out, look out

[previously published in the blog, The Plath Poetry Project]

 
The Art of Losing

The art of losing isn’t hard to master…
Elizabeth Bishop

My endless catalog: an errant sock,
a birth certificate, a wedding ring –
some trivial and some significant.
I must be careless or disorganized
to lose track of the precious and banal.
But some things simply fade from memory,
and the opposite is true – I hang on
to those that seem of little worth to me
for fear the fog of age will wipe them out
completely. That’s why I wear this T-shirt –
Spring Training at the Phillies, Florida,
just seven years ago – my closest friend
and I, a road trip for St. Patrick’s Day.
He left by fall; the cancer took him home.
The letters on the shirt are fading out,
and some flaked off, and one arm has a hole,
but wearing it connects me to that spring,
despite the fact that words come harder now,
just like this shirt – with every wash it gets
more difficult to wear, and yes, to read.

 
Things in Need of Love
(after Sei Shōnagon)

A broken wind chime. A robin with a broken wing. Drooping tulips. A stray dog who smells the air outside a steak house. A family of eight in a one-bedroom apartment.

A man with an unwanted engagement ring. A house with peeling paint. A city with a burning river. A child sleeping under a Mylar blanket in a cage. A man trying to sleep over a heating grate in the street, his teeth still chattering.

A man who orders his seventh beer. A man who has long ago forgotten why he is so angry now. A woman in too much fear to leave her husband. A veteran who wants to stop having nightmares.

An old woman who loses her way home. A school whose children were murdered by guns.
A large country with a wedge driven into it.

 
After seeing Star Wars

after seeing Star Wars he says why is Dark Vader so bad and
I say you mean Darth Vader no he insists it’s DARK Vader and
his young pink brain can be so set sometimes as he explains
he wears that black suit and he’s so mean and he went to
the dark side so he’s DARK Vader okay okay I concede you can
call him DARK Vader and anyway he says I just heard about
black holes and I’ll bet Dark Vader lives in a black hole because
they say it’s so black nothing can get out not even light but
I say if he went in he could never come out like a Roach Motel
what’s a Roach Motel he asks never mind I say but maybe he says
he lives in a cave like Batman they call Batman the Dark Knight
so why can’t there be a Dark Vader I can’t dispute this flawless
five-year-old logic so I say you’ve got a point he goes on I’ll bet
it’s dark in the Batcave like a black hole except Batman can
come back out in his Batmobile why doesn’t Dark Vader have
a Darkmobile let’s go get ice cream I say

 
Hipster Grace

Oh Lord,
or whatever higher power
to which I may subscribe,
bless this cold-brew coffee,
this microbrew IPA, this kombucha,
this green juice in a Mason jar.
Bless these kimchi tacos and tapas,
these sautéed ramps with kale and pancetta,
this cauliflower-crust pizza
with heirloom tomatoes and foraged basil.
Bless this artisanal ancient-grain bread,
these matcha green tea donuts,
this blood orange gluten-free birthday cake.
In the name of Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram,
(click)
Amen.

 
Bruce W. Niedt is a retired civil servant and New Jersey native who is now enjoying the joys of grand-parenthood. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Rattle, Writer’s Digest, Mason Street, Tiferet, Spitball, The Lyric, and US 1 Worksheets. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His latest chapbook is Hits and Sacrifices (Finishing Line Press).

the sparrow, devoured by John Sweet

the sparrow, devoured

hills a darker grey than the sky and no one
here and no one there and all of
the children lost in the woods

all of the priests as pale as vampires

all of the gods without money
without rides
taking back roads out of dying
factory towns

the kingdom of oblivion
in every direction

the drugs
which never do what they promise

turned to me
said she was happy until the
day she hung herself

said the walls would hold
but then the ceiling caved in

sky looked like rain and then it
started to snow

 

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications).

Three poems by Kari Ann Flickinger

Striking Room

Hammers don’t spark when they hit stone.

Sure, if the iron you decide to pound was cast in flame
then a spark might be produced.

But never misappropriate the attribution of the flame
to your pounding prowess.

Your arm is not mighty. Fire is

mighty—meldable. Creatures of fire
may produce sleight-of-hand to make you fill

with blaze through April—into May—you will
carry a torch for her. When summer scalds you

you’ll find she’s diaphanous—the scattered bits of coal

floating on the winds that beat at the metallic ends of
August. You burned for her too long.

How will you cross those winter-lands without her warmth?

 
The Dwelling Tree

Summer summers too long. The days pull on.

Their long skirts, their toes
hide, peek once
again, to flex, to interrogate this calm.

I dial to full air, breathe an orange
breath, wrap heat’s snaking
scarf about my thick wet body.

Out the window sliver, a besotted
breeze lovingly lifts each
branch of a grey little tree.

I wish for rain to fill my mouth. I live

in this summering tree where hope dives
for fine flesh in mycorrhizal symbiosis.

Hope captures a handful of elderberries

I keep tucked between stained digits.
But summer is generous

with the kind of heat one wishes
away. Her lingering

toil pulls the days, the silt on her
skirts, her dirty toes drift.

Summer is always a bit unkind

to tree-dwellers. The waxing
mood holds the twigs of my hair low.

 
Maladora

Flashbulb love gathers in her smooth edges.
Onlookers march—en masse to winnow her
pungent procreation—to collect it for databases.

Once every three-to-five—to seven—then decade
followed by decade—this death-flower blooms.

I think of touching the Mimosa Pudica—how
she recoils—how Maladora
opens
instead—in the slowest
possible increments—one appendage to the sky.

Pummeled by the press
who are—of course—armed with penis jokes
even serious spectacled scientists
chuckle when they call her amorphophallic.

3,564 creatures clean their glasses
65 re-appropriate their modal 66 gazes—they
snicker to themselves over sticky keyboards.
They cull her from their open tabs.

And sure—she slowly peels back into the void.

Unzips her seams—rolls
down her stockings unapologetically
juts—pumps—explores skyward.

Her propulsion flies in the face of their fogged screens.

Amidst this nymph’s sweet
expansion is a slow decay
of time—death is all

around her—in that cliché
you must fuck to feel alive after a funeral state of mind.

She casts her scent to pollinating carrion
who seek and intermingle
at the base of her stern tower.

They wallow—then expire in her brilliant folds.

 

Kari A. Flickinger was a 2019 nominee for the Rhysling Award, and a finalist in the IHLR 2018 Photo Finish. Her poetry has appeared in Written Here: The Community of Writers Poetry Review, Riddled with Arrows, Door-Is-A-Jar, and Ghost City Review, among others. She is an alumna of UC Berkeley. When not writing, she plays guitar to her unreasonably large Highlander cat. Find her: kariflickinger.com @kariflickinger legendcitycollective.wordpress.com