“I Pretended I Was Water” by Michael C. Smith

I pretended I was water
etching the canyon wall. Indigo,
the purples, the blacks
and flashed upon a constellation of mica
broken mirrors of
complicated lovers, and then over
stone-turning-to-monument, monument-
to-stone, and burled, grooved, eroded my way
into the mildewed cribs,
along leather city soles, away from
misunderstood asphalt.

I pretended I was water etching clean
the canyon wall
a rapacious vein ordained
to cleave a nation, a push
without substance, without mercy.
As gravity bid, without recourse, I opened
gashes, lacerations revealing
marble.

I pretended I was water etching white
the canyon wall, etching will
to fate, heroism to wisdom.

And I drank the minerals of my going
and gratefully ate the grains sloughed
by the weakest stars.

 

 

Michael C. Smith is the author of Writing Dangerous Poetry (McGraw-Hill) and the coauthor of another book on creative writing, Everyday Creative Writing: Panning for Gold in the Kitchen Sink (McGraw-Hill).  His work has appeared in several journals, including Iowa ReviewSeneca ReviewNorthwest Review, and other publications. Recently his meta-fictional story, “Bass Weather,” published originally by Gemini Magazine, was included in the 2017 Best Small Fictions anthology, edited by Amy Hempel, and including works by Joy Williams and Brian Doyle. Michael lives in Pomona, CA, and is a proud graduate of the MFA program at the University of Arizona.

“Moon’s Feast” by Adriana Morgan

The moon swallowed the sun.
What a splendid way
to start my day!
She munched him for five long days—
or were they nights?—
then caught the stars
one after the other,
with a crisp,
chameleonic tongue.
Two weeks for the job.
I watched her, thrilled,
from behind my pink curtains.

Perverse and plump,
the moon unrooted some pine trees
to pick her golden teeth,
crashing big chunks
of the North Star
over my garden.
Too bad for my lilies…
But she wasn’t full, no!
She ate all the planets:
Mars, Neptune, Venus—
vanished
into her visceral mouth.

Then, fat and tired—
much, much fatter than my aunt Suzy—
she burped a comet—almost hitting my roof,
and took a nap in the sky’s smoky armpit.
She snored for months…
“Give me a break!” I shouted,
but she didn’t care, no! shamelessly shaking
the sky’s skinny chest.

Huge, hot, and harsh,
she woke up with a start—a nightmare, I hope!
and thought it was time to have a drink:
the Milky Way! Like a new-born, she giggled—
what a joy to suck from your mother’s breast
at four point five billion years old!
She scratched her obese belly,
hungry still.

Galaxy after galaxy she gobbled—
like my uncle Mark, red
mullets. Meteorites stuck to her sweaty
skin like fireflies,
so in a foggy nebula, she showered.
Patient, I polished my poem,
then my nails, and put on eyeshadow
in the moonlight.

 

 

Adriana Morgan completed a Ph.D. in French Literature at the University of Letters in Nantes, France. She is fluent in six languages and worked as a translator and terminologist at the European Commission in Luxembourg and the United Nations in New York. She taught French at the University of Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi, India, the French Alliance and the Universities of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar, Chile. She currently works as a multi-dimensional artist: painter, poet, and children’s picture books writer and illustrator. She is the first prize winner of the Midnight Mozaic Fiction (Medium, 2019), one of the selected winners of the Canadian poetry contest—Quebec and the Francophony, and second prize winner of the Daniil Pashkoff International Poetry Contest, 2018, Germany.

“Blackened State” by Patricia Walsh

This has got to stop, this holy affection,
breaking the plates with a golden will,
agonizing over a phase, try to enjoy
the formative giving out, a singular shot,
stacked full the pockets leaving nothing to chance.

fighting unfit, nothing really matters now,
eschewing identity for the first time,
wiping the good slate clean, back to ignominy
the mocking fear catches the info twice,
the unknown casting aspersions on a common ground.

this burgeoning temperance goes as it comes,
no longer good, the happy excoriation pays off,
taunting full measures by the unknowns,
print itself darkly, watching with intent,
associative terror did everyone a favour.

watching through the dirtied door, elected
to roll with the punches forever blacklisted,
weaving in an entity casting its down spell,
putting paid to a career in the good books,
wrapped up in a scream in getting too close.

the crooked lipstick, hastily applied,
descending on the typical like mother knows how,
wanting to be good, shattered in deleterious
blowing away for passion the coveted life skills,
the better for the quiet, an execution premature.

 

 

Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland.  To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals.  These include: The Lake; Seventh Quarry Press; Marble Journal; New Binary Press; Stanzas; Crossways; Ygdrasil; Seventh Quarry; The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, The Galway Review; Poethead and The Evening Echo.

“Legend of the Blue Smoke” by L.B. Sedlacek

Seven Cherokee tribes
the first human inhabitants along
the Appalachia stretch from Tennessee
to North Carolina
hills flowing with rivers,
streams and magical pools,
forests home to deer, black bear,
elk
all magical too
sacred
mountains
a magical place
blue clouds
low
and swirling
named shaconage by
the Cherokee
— land of the blue smoke
(the Great Smoky Mountains)
(the Blue Ridge Mountains).

The smoke
the blue
its source:
breathing vegetation
volatile organic compounds
from shrubs, ferns, vines, trees
tiny gaseous molecules
combining to form particles
scattering blue light from the sky
and with the sunlight chasing
the sky, the humidity and
rainfall, air and elevation
it all makes natural blue.

 

 

L.B. Sedlacek is an award winning poet and author with poetry and fiction appearing in many different journals and zines.  Her latest poetry books are The Adventures of Stick People on Cars (Alien Buddha Press), The Architect of French Fries (Presa Press) and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press.)  She is a former Poetry Editor for ESC! Magazine and also co-hosted the podcast for the small press, Coffee House to Go, for several years.  She teaches poetry at local elementary and middle schools and publishes a free resource for poets, The Poetry Market Ezine.  In her free time, L.B. enjoys swimming, reading, and taking guitar lessons.

“For One Day” by Penny Wilkes

Place your fussy mind in a top drawer. Hear the closing click.
Hang a favorite and weighty item. You don’t need a key.
Listen for the jostling and grumbling inside. Say, “STAY!”

Put on your happy shoes and saunter out the door.
Let nature intrigue with its winter delights.
Trees will have shed their leaves but evergreens prevail.

Feel grateful release from tendrils of mind.
Go into your heart to flee into sensory experiences.

Discover your neighborhood: fireplace smoke,
a lingering rose, fresh earth, a gush of wind.
Breathe a drift of lavender. Hear a phoebe or crow’s call.

Wander until you have forgotten your mind.
Just take your time. No need to rush.
Energize the spirit and play.

When you return, open the drawer
to a renewal of friendship.

 

 

Penny Wilkes, MFA served as a science editor, travel and nature writer and columnist. Along with short stories, her features on humor and animal behavior have appeared in a variety of publications. An award-winning writer and poet, she has published a collection of short stories, Seven Smooth Stones. Her published poetry collections include: Whispers from the LandIn Spite of War, and Flying Lessons. Her blog on The Write Life features life skills, creativity, and writing.

“Overlooking Cape Jervis” by Martha Landman

A twilight walk along the cliffs —
black and ochre layers,
rocks cracked and split, tempered
through eons at Land’s End,
dimensions of friendship. The infrasound
of wind turbines poised on Starfish Hill
in tune with our stories of almost forty years.

We’ve never seen the sea
so still, a silk sheet, grey
as the shadow-clouds above the cape.
Our eyes track the ferry across Backstairs Passage
from the lighthouse to Kangaroo Island.

In the saddle between the hills
a kangaroo and his mate stand guard.
We, bereft of mates through death and divorce,
linger, don’t want to turn in
for the night yet, release the day’s
findings, the fish carcass in the sand,
the smell of rotten flesh and bait —

We have never seen the whole horizon,
a wide-angle view, the earth so round.

 

 

Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia, where she is a member of Friendly Street Poets. Her work has appeared in online journals and in print in US, UK and Australia. Her chapbook, Between Us, is available from Ginninderra Press.

“November Logorrhea” by William Doreski

In the warp and woof of climate,
our faces become planets
aloft in a riot of stars.
We’ve shed our carbon-based lives
to adopt alternate spectrums
along lines of force our species
couldn’t explore in time to save
the seasons from clumsy embrace.

The government declares an era,
a lifetime of mourning to blame
for bathtubs overflowing
with suicides who neither regret
nor apologize for their loss.
We also refuse to comment;
but from unworldly height we note
how fragile certain dimensions look
when caught in the atomic gleam
of the one universal eye.

Signatures of long-dead heroes
scratch along the slick of rivers
and meld into each other with sighs
of literary but honest feeling.
We could have written thick books
collecting their narratives and mottoes,
but preferred to salt ourselves among
obituaries shaped to flatter
unrequited lyric notions.

You understand, don’t you?
The coal-fire of your temper
blackens my remaining lens;
but I still can easily trace
the orbits we’ll have to assume
if we’re to have the last word
before the overflow wins.

 

 

William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent book is Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.