In case you were wondering by Taylor Emily Copeland, from Issue #33

In case you were wondering

It’s like the speeding car
that hits at forty miles per hour
and sends you through the air
crashing into the windshield,
up and over, landing face first
into the asphalt.

It is the low tone of your voice
echoing like wooden heels down
an empty hallway filled with
crappy tile floors and flickering
florescent lighting.
Repeats over and over
leaves me bitter and broken
against the river’s chill.

It is mostly how I don’t hate you.

It is a conclusion drawn long ago,
over caffeine kisses and long sleeves
drawn to protect, pulled to not expose
what was left on a table, across a bridge.

It is the silence in my inbox,
the inevitable letdown.

 

Taylor Emily Copeland is a poet from Eastern Pennsylvania. She is the author of two chapbooks: “Caffeine kisses and long sleeves” and “Monarch”, both available from Maverick Duck Press. Her poems have recently appeared in Philosophical Idiot, among many others. She is a four time Best of the Net nominee and also was nominated for Best of the Web. She reads obsessively, likes pink things, drinks too much coffee, drives aimlessly and falls in love too easily. She is unashamed of all of it.

Three poems by Laura Ingram

Chopin’s Heart in a Jar
In loving memory of Paige Gong

You, taller than Webster and World Book combined,
you, with your hands careful as November snow
shaken off The Rocky’s broad shoulders
you have a grass stain for a heart and

I bet you could teach me
How to change the color of the cold
water crawling up the creek bank
or how to unravel your gossamer ghost
how to stitch your soft ghost into
a quilt to wrap the wreckage up with—

A shroud for Chopin’s heart, pickled fecund in a jar
Sealed in crystal, the pride of pink Poland.
Bent body buried behind the cathedral

Slouched as in life
as in supplication

I do not know if God ever gives anything back
maybe the summer twilight
shadows kneeling down in the grass
I know how to kneel down in the grass
to be so still, and solemn as Sunday School
pray for a part of you preserved in amber
your voice, soaked in afterglow
enlarged against the glass—

Your heart, scrubbed pink with soft soap in the kitchen sink
taken from its box beneath the bed
taken from your bones mixed with rabbit’s bones
you, given a backpack and a body to empty and fill
a pulse only measured in miles per hour

Your heart, tucked beneath my arms full of blackberry brambles

I give it back glad.

 

Borealis

In the game
the pretty girl with two pigtails told me what part to play
when I got home I hid the stories I wrote
under the bed
along with honor roll ribbons
all blue as dusk

Eleven and a half
the others made me into an alien
I kept my face folded in the bottom of my backpack

Savant, Prodigy, Mutant, Weirdo

Every year on August Fifth
The Mars Rover sings Happy Birthday to itself
I orbit an arbitrary July
Books on my bedside table collecting space dust

No friends, listening to How to Save a Life on loop
in the lavender dim of my bedroom
door cracked
hair hanging half-mast over my ink-speckled spiral notebook
Aurora’s green haloed around my arrhythmia
I remain unafraid of every almost.

 

 

Psalm to Tinker Creek

Shushed between aspen and spruce,
body crouched as cursive
by the creek bed
I am awed
by the swarming of hours,
the sneakers of sophomore students
trampling asphalt flowers,
voices shrilling across the dusk
While I, jostled as birth
mud caked beneath my nail beds

misremember the deer my father hit
Driving home in the October pink
from piano class–
headlights gleaming like mardi-gras beads
the urge to snap my own ankles
cease in that same immaculate curl,
cover my broken bones with dark earth—
quiet as ancient fern’s stay kept.

 

Laura Ingram is a tiny girl with big glasses and bigger ideas. Her poetry and prose have been published in over seventy literary journals, among them The Cactus Heart Review, Gravel, Glass Kite Anthology and Voice of Eve. Her first collection, Junior Citizen’s Discount, was released with Desert Willow Press May 2018. Her second poetry collection, Mirabilis, is forthcoming for 2020 with Kelsay Books.

Three poems by Chad Frame

David

Like the statue, slender
alabaster, curly locks,
the soft, full face
of youth, sublime
in stillness, yet each muscle
prepared to move—

We meet in the throb
of sound, neon-strobe
over the curves of you,
fragmented light pocks
the crowded room—wordless,
we come closer.

In a vinyl alcove booth,
pretending we are VIPs,
we speak of mutual love
of Neil Gaiman, characters
printed and drawn, of Tori
Amos, her elemental voice,

soft lips moving those few
moments they are not busy
pressed to mine, young
and ravenous. You stand,
hands on your hips, the back
of your neck, contrapposto—

you tell me tomorrow
you’ll be on a plane
home to Alaska, my arms
tight around you. I had
a northern lad. Well,
not exactly had…

We spill into yellow
sodium streetlight, wet July,
mutter quick promises,
and an idling cab steals you,
slinks into rain-blurred
Philadelphia—gone.

 

Andrew

Our first date with Slavoj Žižek,
a philosophy lecture, free

at the art museum, front row
in folding chairs sipping hot tea,

your idea of courtship. Charmed
by Žižek, deaf to everything

but the sound of his Slovene voice
slurring his words into thick stew,

shaggy grey face like a wire fox
terrier. I say I love you,

Žižek posits, pleased with himself,
only the way a poet does.

He says it again for effect.
Your eyes flash like slate blue diodes.

Later, you update your Facebook
with this quote as if it’s brilliant.

Of course a poet knows nothing
of love. I didn’t ride the train

here with a dog-eared book of Proust
for show. And you won’t hear from me

that I love you in any way,
even though I scan your soft lips

for an opening while Žižek
mutters, rational and empty.

 

Nick

You are on my back and we
are running and singing
for a while just like
any two people in love
might do on a Spring day,

pretending to be
a cartoon plumber
astride a green dinosaur
humming their chiptune theme
on a campus sidewalk

before a truck rushes by,
hurls cruelties out the window
easy as a flicked cigarette
sparking on the road
like steel off flint,

or a used condom
like a stepped-on slug,
or a Gatorade bottle
filled with two hundred miles
of warm piss—

but it’s none of these,
just a simple drive-by
with one word hitting us
like a Louisville slugger
off a tin mailbox. Faggots.

 

Chad Frame’s work appears in Rattle, Mom Egg Review, Barrelhouse, Rust+Moth, and other journals and anthologies, as well as on iTunes from the Library of Congress. He is the Director of the Montgomery County Poet Laureate Program and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, the Poetry Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing, a founding member of the No River Twice poetry improv performance troupe, and founder of the Caesura Poetry Festival and Retreat.

Three poems by Deborah Doolittle

Josephine Miles Discovers a Field with Fire Poppies

Where was the fire? All about,
the grass charred black
as a man’s hearth burns, dark as cinders.

Look in the forest or the woods,
in the field or chaparral,
and ask the spark what part it played

in all this pale profusion of fire
poppies, the eager outline of a meadow,
the art that yearns for something better.

 
In Other Words

Crows strut their
stuff along the margins
of the highways.

Our cars pass each
other like the two
proverbial ships at night.

Weekends, we slip
into that same rowboat
you dragged across the gravel.

The moon expands
and contracts in the waves
like a bellows.

Only the sheep
that leap the rail
get counted.

 
With Egrets

The air still smells
of summer, the wind
of the not so distant surf.

Herons divide the reeds
along the creek bank
where silvery fish hide.

At dusk, I gather
my own thoughts
like pollen and inhale.

Three poems by Kristin Garth

High School Drama

is a year you spend reluctantly, job for
females parents approve, English degree
they fund. Fecund, the community poor
half hour from wealth to which you are born. Feed
student actors when they stay after school.
One asks to lead meditation. You know
that student-led prayer’s approved in rules.
You pass a circle each morning of bowed
heads at the vestibule before the front
office door projecting communal pleas
towards Jesus their lord. To your student,
you say, “It’s no different as long as I leave.”
You give them ten minutes. Must have a snitch.
Your principal next week calls you a witch.

 
Witch Test

In small towns only known for poverty and balls,
you have to be careful in public school
halls when you dress all in black, chestnut hair falls
on cleavage you can’t hide. Sometimes the cruel
will want inside. Even the coach of the
best team in the state will offer his aid,
ask you out on a date. You do not be-
long here. Don’t understand. Speaks fingers splayed
against your cheek, very hands of local
infamy. Punched a player in the face
with impunity. Clear in his vocals
quid pro quo, English F’s you would erase
for players. As his mentee, your career blessed.
Failure is certain in any witch test.

 
Banishment

Five years before Columbine became more
than city inside of your mind (a state of teen-
age mental disease) you will plead before
adult bullies – a principal who leans
toward the football coach, black trench-coated
student actor clenched fist soaked in blood of
a running back, turn of play. Provoked
the wrong drama geek today, punched and shoved
the smaller ones who would report. Nothing
was ever done. Until the brawny lead in your
first play decides inaction is not okay, stings
more than a knuckle buried in a jaw. Ignore
your pleas, parity in their punishment.
Like witches, soon, he receives banishment.

 
Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of sixteen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com