Three poems by Margaret Adams Birth

Blackberry Picking

Bowing deeply before the brambles,
Mama shows me how
to do it—to stretch an arm, to reach
for the plumpest, the sweetest, the bumpiest berries,
black as Satan’s heart yet
refreshing as an innocent soul.

We climbed kudzu-covered earth,
fallen, half-rotten logs, and a web of
honeysuckle to get here; no
scent of sulfur could survive
the pungent detritus of pine decay atop Carolina clay
mingling with the cloying saccharine incense of all these blooms.

There’s something worshipful in what we’re doing, the
mother and her young disciple,
seeking, nearly kneeling,
as we attempt to distinguish among
the fruits within the weeds and
choose only the choicest for the meal we’ll soon share.

 
A Forest In Winter

Espresso trees
sway in the shadow of the Pleiades

under cover of new-moon night,
supplicant branches barren

after autumn’s harvest-time
seduction, when

fiery-colored leaves
danced a paso doble

full of heart, as if secure
in the now and the future times, come

what may; limbs now stripped
even yet stretch languidly,

comfortably, perhaps in the pleasure
of this night, and this sky,

and this place
in the universe.

 
Outside Looking In

Outside my bedroom window thirty years
ago, pine trees rose in a little grove
I’d once used as my play place—my imaginary palace
with fortified walls that barred entrance to evil warriors;
the long pine needles, sharp at their tips,
were my weapon of defense in fictional battles,
and my then-eighteen-year-old self still felt like a princess
with nothing but hopeful anticipation and dreams for my future.

Outside a dorm room window mere months
later, I knew there was nothing but barren Carolina clay
to break my fall—surely, to break my body—
were I to jump in an effort to escape
the clutches of a young wrestler determined to pin
me to his bed, to prove his manhood in his perverted
way; too late, I realized what would take place—
too late to save myself, too late to defend my dreams.

Outside my living room window, I see oak and maple trees
today, leaves a bleached shade of green
after nearly a full summer of sun, and I am trying
to be happy, and not to panic
as I prepare lists, and piles of laundry and supplies
for my now-eighteen-year-old adult-child—
I fight old fears from my own freshman year, and try to feel
nothing but hopeful anticipation and dreams for the future.

 

Margaret Adams Birth is the author of Borderlands (Finishing Line Press, 2016). Her poetry has also appeared in such journals as Riverrun, Ship of Fools, The New Voices (Trinidad and Tobago), Aldebaran, Atlantic Pacific Press, Purple Patch (England), White Wall Review (Canada), Mobius, Black River Review, Perceptions (her poem there a Pushcart Prize nominee), Blue Lake Review, All Roads Will Lead You Home, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review.

Americana by Marisa Silva-Dunbar

Americana

Longing for the desert days,
spending an afternoon with you, at the casino—
sleepy by the hotel waterfall.

I used to dream about your leather jacket
and mirrored sunglasses,
and how you once told me
that even you were beautiful.

You’re out on the dry roads
chasing firefly trails, and collecting sea glass.
Do you miss the old thrift stores with red window paint?

Where’s your whiskey heat?
The soft brown leather of the corner booth in the lounge?
The slow drags of your cigarette, and circles of smoke?

Memories playback on Super 8,
tangled in balloons and silver streamers,
flickering like an old neon sign.

 

Marisa Silva-Dunbar’s work has been published in 24 Neon Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Cabinet of Heed, and Marias At Sampaguitas. She is a contributing writer at Pussy Magic, and is part of the Legend City Collective. Her work is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Sybil Journal, and The Charles River Journal. Marisa is the founder and EIC of Neon Mariposa Magazine. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @thesweetmaris.

A Graveyard Is A Flowerbed by Kristin Garth

A Graveyard Is A Flowerbed

A graveyard is a sort of flowerbed
like one you tend to, tulips red. Arrange
bouquets in her boudoir. You bow your head.
Bowknot stand collar hiding scars. A strange
debasement he requests, a ritual
of deference, performance morning
after he would make his habitual
addled walk to take what lies adorning
a regency bed. Frame, the same he laid
his schoolboy head, before he bought this house,
this wife he wed, reparations made
with blooms tended and tendered, child to spouse —
for seeds he buried in your flesh instead,
their graveyard becomes your next flowerbed.

 

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 fifteen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House, Shut Your Eyes, Succubi (Maverick Duck Press), Candy Cigarette Womanchild Noir (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press) and The Meadow (APEP Publications). 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

 

Two poems by Amanda McLeod

Through The Cracks

the world is overexposed, too bright, and yet
the lens through which I look is blurred, dull

rip this parasite out—
before it steals my sight and leaves me
plunged into darkness
using the vision in my hands to feel
my way around

a world that brought me so much

joy

paint my face with broad strokes
to hide the cracks– perhaps

some filler would be better—

a little

plaster over the gaps to make sure
nothing slips

through.

 
Piano Bar, Just After 2am

Slide up, sweet nectar. Candy rim with sugar lips
licked clean. Tart fizz in crystal cylinders—
a line of sparkle. Painted fingertips
reach out again, until the ache goes under.
Tiara bent, a diadem askew.
Caricature, decorum gone astray.
She doesn’t want to leave, she just wants you
to keep it pretty, make it safe to stay
like this. Beyond the knives. Inadequacy
takes fractured souls. Removes the pieces. She
can’t love herself — enough. Casually ingests
another swallow. Remembers to smile. Rinse. Repeat.
A futile patch. A temporary crutch
will make the pain okay, until she wakes up.

 

Amanda McLeod is an Australian creative. She writes both fiction and poetry, and is the Managing Editor at Animal Heart Press. Her words can be found in many places both in print and online, including Spelk Fiction, Anthropocene, and others. You can connect with her on Twitter @AmandaMWrites or via her website AmandaMcLeodWrites.com

Three poems by Holly Day

How I Identify You

I listen to your heart beating inside its cage of broken bones
the Braille graffiti of your chest, and even now I wonder
what things would have been like if you were whole when we met
if you weren’t so damaged by your past, would you have come to me?

I run my fingertips over the old cigarette burns along your arms
testament to a drunk stepfather who never bothers calling anymore, wonder
if I could somehow put the pieces back together, fix this mangled child
how long it would take for you to decide you didn’t need me anymore

that without your damaged past, there’d be no reason to seek solace
against me and my own broken heart.

 
Where We Meet

In bed, in the dark, your fingers brush the jagged “x”
that marks my damaged past.
I flinch out of habit, force myself
to be completely naked with you
tell you how you can make a happy face with a lighter
home-poke tattoos with a safety pin and India ink.

I trace the pattern of your own damaged flesh,
ribs shattered and warped, a mangled child
written in pages of skin half-crumbled to dust
ritualistic burnings—here, I defy you
to tell me I had it bad, we had it bad.
With you, I stand in defiance of the past

remake myself in images of celibacy
angelic visitations, with a heart as pure as ice.

 
With Careful Hands

her body a thin shadow
beside the pool the next morning
a whitewashed backdrop, too
thin ankles and smooth pale legs

small.
slashing and sewing with
careful, tiny stitches
she lies peacefully on white cotton sheets
no one would ever know.

 

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), while her newest nonfiction books are Music Theory for Dummies and Tattoo FAQ.