Weatherman (CW: allusion to physical violence)

by Shiksha Dheda

His                                                       face                                  rained                             today
      -much                                                     contrast to
the                     rainbow                                                                                  smile


                                                            of                                                                             yesterday



The                                               droplets                                                         began
                            uneasily                                                                and


paced                                                                                    themselves                                     to                                                                    a
rhythm-less                            tempo

They                                                                                                                                                  erupted
in                                                    a                                                         hailstorm -
                                                        complete                                         with              the heavy
                      stones      of                                          heartache

The                                  thunder                                                                                   came
                                                                        -suddenly-

                                                                         - quietly-


with                             a                                             low                         note          of               howling

Later – unexpectedly-


came                        the bolt                 of                              burning, bright                      lightning

His face returned to
the genuine colourful
burst of rainbow-
 after the insincere rainfall

Sunlight shone amiably,
whilst I held the ashy remnants of his lightning
to my cheek.

 

 


 

Shiksha Dheda is a South African of Indian descent. She uses writing to express her OCD and depression roller-coaster ventures. Sometimes, she dabbles in photography, painting, and baking lopsided layered cakes. Her writing has been featured(on/forthcoming) in Brittle Paper, Daily Drunk Magazine, Door is a jar, Luna Luna Mag and Versification, amongst others. She is the Pushcart nominated author of Washed Away (Alien Buddha Press, 2021) She rambles annoyingly at Twitter: @ShikshaWrites. You can find (or ignore her) at https://shikshadheda.wixsite.com/writing/poetry

 

What Really Happened That Night in Bedford Falls (after It’s a Wonderful Life)

by Kevin Grauke

The angel, flightless as a penguin, shows him a world where his brother died beneath skate-scored ice and his wife, a virgin married to books, desiccates in a library: a gray world with no hero to save them from their horrid fates. Standing on the snow-muffled bridge a second time, bleeding from his lip yet again, he is meant to see that life is wonderful, but wait, isn’t his uncle still a yarn-fingered old fool? And isn’t the money still gone? Yes. And yes.

Such old news, this. Yesterday’s hero: today’s failure. Why? Because this land was made for you and me and What have you done for me lately? There above the icy water, he knows nothing of the basket of money making its slow way to save the day; he knows only that Christmas brought nothing but bankruptcy with its guiding light, and prison too, not peace and joy; he knows only that he’s worth less breathing than not, and so, no, he does not run through that snow-globe town joyously screaming—no, he jumps and he drowns, freezing another tiny bell’s clapper before it can swing. Family and friends will cry and say goodbye at his funeral and then mourn into the next year’s second month, but by March they’ll return fully to their own pressing troubles—house payments, food missing from the forks of their children—all the while thinking of him less and less and still less, until one green Monday in May they’ll notice having not thought of the man in weeks, the man who has lain cold in the town cemetery since just after Christmas, the man in whose pocket his daughter’s flower petals have long since disintegrated.

 


 

Kevin Grauke is the author of Shadows of Men (Queen's Ferry Press), winner of the Steven Turner Award from the Texas Institute of Letters. His fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared (or are forthcoming) in journals such as The Threepenny Review, Bayou, The Southern Review, Fiction, Quarterly West, and Columbia Journal. He’s a Contributing Editor at Story, and he teaches at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Twitter: @kevingrauke

Bahía Solano

by Benjamin Faro

Geography
isn't the only thing
that        separates          us.
Sometimes it is dancing.
Sometimes, like when we
were playing dominoes by
the ocean, listening to Ozuna
among French tourists on coke
and colorful amphibians, as the
whole equator listened in, understanding
everything that was said and left unsaid,
you joke with locals and decide                            not
to let me in.

Perhaps it is                   unconscious.

You forget                       who I am,

becoming driftwood while
the water leans a little closer. The
jungle eavesdrops, just devouring your words,
this carnal opera; and when you direct the melody,
the world happily takes part, and for just a moment, I
see it in your eye—that wishing that I could keep up, that
my ears were ripe for harmony,                    or maybe                 that
you could stay here when I leave,                 having found your home,
or at least for the next six months, sitting in the sand waiting for the whales’
migration, when they come singing in July.

 

 


 

Benjamin Faro is a green-thumbed writer and educator living in Asunción, Paraguay, on stolen Guaraní lands. He is currently pursuing his MFA at Queens University of Charlotte, and his prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in EcoTheo, Portland Review, Atlanta Review, Invisible City, and elsewhere.

For Fear

by E. Bowers

in 1996, all the turkey vultures died in ohio / and, for fear of repercussions, we took their place / sat in what should have been the cool shade of trees crowding the asphalt of unmarked roads to wait / the waiting was hard / air a sausage skin around us, swooping in between our tank tops and bug bites and filling our belly buttons, so we could never forget it was there / and the waiting was hard / until one too many things walked in front of wheels that wouldn’t stop / then the moving was hard / because animals became daubs of paint / we swirled red and grey together, watching as they turned blacker by each day, developing on our fingertips / and every day we returned / cracked open the hard cast on top of our masterpiece to see what colors waited within/ we crooned to them / the waiting – it’s hard / consolations / and spread them only two inches higher up our wrists each day

 

 


 

E. Bowers is a writer from Enon, Ohio. She has a B.A. in English, Creative Writing, from Wright State University. Bowers interned as Managing Editor for Mad River Review from 2018 – 2019. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Mock Turtle Zine, Rogue Agent & ActiveMuse.

The Pinery Provincial Park Dance Company

by DM O'Connor

Leaping from roof to deck rail was easy. The sneak
home more complicated, especially in frost. At first

I’d lug a cassette player until batteries became
a drag and costly so I decided to dance to the woods.

In winter slushy thuds kept the tap in the toe.
Autumn was a poly-hued dead leaf soft shoe shuffle.

Hear that sandpaper rub. Spring all vault to branch creak
heels rarely hitting earth. Nut-cheeked summer squirrel

beady eyed with envy, poison ivy rash below tan line.
Proof I’d been birthday-suiting up to no good again.

I can’t name the birds that performed. Nor remember
the trunks hugged. Loved each bud and left them.

Moves mastered not from basement-TVs nor recorded
live-studio-audience, each snake groove top secret.

We grew out of seasons, build a shack, abducted a generator,
CDs, kegs, schnapps, pot, brawling, sex. Rock, other people.

We slammed the front door at all hours came and went at pleasure
too self-drunk to care who saw and who swung to what promise

 

 


 

DM O'Connor is a contributing reviewer for Rhino Poetry and fiction editor at Bending Genres. He is the recipient of the 2021 Cuirt International Award for Fiction, Tom Gallon Short Story Award, and is the current writer-in-residence at the Kerouac House Project, Orlando. He is grateful for the support of the Arts Council of Ireland and Words Ireland.

Stella Maris

by Lorelei Bacht

I am the girl in red riding
the crest, my presence
a warning, a sign
 
*
 
of tsunami: wave upon
wave of foam waiting
 
for birds, for mud, for businesses.
 
I am the change you call 
and regret having called, the cold,
cold hand of growth
 
undercut. 
 
I am weather.
 
*
  
You watch me drive my eyes
into your homes, make room
 
for silts, for my darkened  
transparencies –
 
it is too late when you see me coming.
 
*
 
A clock, a clock, nothing.
 
*
 
Those of you who survive
up on the hills will farm
the land remade:
 
my gift of sediments.
 
*****

 


 

Lorelei Bacht (she/they) is currently running out of ways to define herself, and would like to reside in a tranquil, quiet form of uncertainty for a while. Her recent work has appeared and/or are forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic, Visitant, The Wondrous Real, Abridged, Odd Magazine, Postscript, PROEM, SWWIM, Strukturriss, The Inflectionist Review, Hecate, and elsewhere. She is also on Instagram: @lorelei.bacht.writer and on Twitter: @bachtlorelei

Lines from Billy Collins, Robert Browning, and Script from Legally Blonde (Exquisite Cento Project)

by Andrew Beckett Gibson and Zebulon Huset

Valor lies in bed listening to the rain
as we wind through a flock of abstract, silky, golden strands
                               then a mile of warm sea-scented beach
                                                that made up the miniature town.

The card goes one way, being signed, as the drinks go the other
                                thinning away to nothing,
                                            a salad bowl filled with cash—
                 think of an egg, the letter A,
                                                 with shrieking and squeaking.

You are the rapids, the propeller, the kerosene lamp
                                                (The reporters laugh as they snap pictures)
                you are the dove-soft train whistle in the night
hugging her knees and cowering in a wretched little ball.

He swims in candlelight for all to see,
                                (a cop stands guard at the door)
his death had pages, a dark leather cover, an index,
                                                                  with milky admiration
                (no wonder I find him in the pale morning)
                                                and blue spurt of a lighted match.

You are Jean de Brébeuf with his martyr’s necklace of hatchet heads.

                Outside was all noon and the burning blue,
                                                eating popcorn and drinking red wine.

                                Something is always missing:
his twenty-seven year old daughter and the pool boy.

                 But—all the world's coarse.                Thumb
exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy
                                in his hybrid creole accent.
His dead body                         with a bullet in it
                                              with a beauty queen smile in place.
                 It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen,
a hook in the slow industrial canal below.

 


Andrew Beckett Gibson studied creative writing at North Carolina Central University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Collidescope, The Bookends Review, Random Sample, Always Crashing, and Heartwood Literary Magazine.

Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review, & Texas Review, among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

Two Poems (Dark matter | Spell against nervous suffering)

Dark matter

by Moira Walsh

Never mind the alligator
at my doorstep or the rabid
fox under the dining table

Your love protects you
from my anti-love

 


 

Spell against nervous suffering


by Moira Walsh

If they see you
standing on tiptoe
to witness the star through the window
that’s enough

Say what you mean,
offer water

Sooner or later,
the outcast
is celebrated

May you live to see it

 


Moira Walsh, born in Michigan, lives in southern Germany. She became a published
poet in 2020 and is the 2021 Anne-Marie Oomen Fellow at Poetry Forge. You can find more of her work at https://linktr.ee/moira_walsh.

Not Beautiful Birds

by DS Maolalai

they are nesting
in the building's
shared carpark. they are
pigeons – not beautiful
birds. two in an alcove
just next to the AC
split units. two
by the gate control,
over the bins. it makes me
feel quite good
to see them
build space there.
I walk
the dog past them,
walk past them
myself. step
around birdshit
like burst toothpaste
packets. check in
every morning
to see how
they're doing,
like a baker
with a fresh loaf
of bread.

 


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, "Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden" (Encircle Press, 2016) and "Sad Havoc Among the Birds" (Turas Press, 2019).

The Jellyfish

by Anna Attie

In 1991, the jellyfish went to space and their babies
could barely make it back. Picture this: tiny tendrils
unfurling in microgravity childhood—of course

the ocean gave them vertigo. Of course,
they splayed those tiny tendrils, a balancing instinct,
and resigned their lives to bedrest, to watching

their cousins take the lights out in Luzon
and plug power plants with their bodies
in Brisbane, Oskarshamn, and Ashkelon.

They heaved a sigh,
not the jellyfish, but the men who put them up there
with their fantasies of the final frontier.

I think the jellyfish know what they are doing. I think
they plug power plants with purpose.
I think the jellyfish are biding their time.

 


Anna Attie is a writer and community organizer living in Chicago. She recently graduated from the University of Chicago with a BA in English Literature.
Her journalism appears in In These Times, South Side Weekly, Inside Higher Ed,
and other publications. Her poetry is forthcoming in Flypaper and The Offing.