Two poems by Collin Kelley

Strange Angels

The week before my mother died
the house was full of wasps.
They buzzed and bumped along the ceiling,
got caught in the curtains and blinds.
Angry and in search of exit, yet refusing
every open door and window.

After the nurse came and told my mother
she would be dead in a week,
the wasps hovered near her
but never landed or threatened,
and she never swatted them away.

In witchcraft, a wasp is a strong feminine spirt,
a guardian and protector.
The caretaker, a deeply religious woman,
said the devil was in the house, unleashed
prayers and insecticide to down and drown them.
But these wasps were impervious,
resurrecting and wobbling back to the air.

The day after my mother died in hospice,
the husks of wasps littered the carpet,
seemingly fallen mid-flight.
Their manifest, tethered to my mother’s
mortal rage, gone out of them
along with the sting.

 

Terminal Agitation

The stacking and unstacking of pillows,
the pinning and unpinning of hair.

The rearranging and invention of words,
the unearthly cries and whispers.

Shouts and tears turn to low moans
then rev up to demonic growls.

Death has many faces, busy hands,
the work of leaving a kind of dismantling.

Maybe it is the sound and movement
of the soul coming unmoored

from its berth, the unsticking
and scraping away of one life for the next.

 

Collin Kelley is a poet, novelist, and journalist from Atlanta, GA. His latest project is co-editing “Mother Mary Comes To Me: A Pop Culture Poetry Anthology” forthcoming from Madville Publishing in 2020. www.collinkelley.com

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Zuko’s Scar by Linda Crate

Zuko’s Scar

her name is a nettle,
a trigger;
every time i see it
i still cringe—

there are some names
i can never like

tarnished by memories of you—

it’s been years,
and there are many oceans
parting us and many more moons;

yet the name natalie
still burns me like fire

leaves me with zuko’s scar

i want my honor back
yet somehow i know that is something
i must find for myself,
and it was nothing you could have ever
given me.

 

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).

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.