SARAH KERSEY is a poet, musician, and x-ray tech from New Jersey, USA. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Literary Heist, Gambling the Aisle, The Fictional Cafe, Window, Mortar Magazine, and elsewhere. She is an associate editor for South Florida Poetry Journal, as well as a guest reviewer for Aji Magazine’s Fall 2018 issue. Her blog is at sarahkerseypoetry.wordpress.com.
KELLI SIMPSON is a mother and poet living in Norman, Oklahoma. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including The Five-Two, Riggwelter, After the Pause, Glasgow Review of Books, and Eunoia Review. Find more of her work at mamaneedsshoes.blogspot.com.
READE CALDERWOOD maintains a homestead near the Sask-Alberta border and writes poetry and fiction informed by the big sky country of his immediate locale. He is currently working on a full length manuscript of poetry.
KAREN TYLUTKI is a featured writer for “TV Talk Magazine” and “Positively Bayonne”. She is a prolific poet and president of the Scribblers Writing Circle. She is a freelance artist and retired art teacher.
TERESE PIERRE is a Canadian writer, editor and student. She has published work in: Acta Victoriana, Longleaf Review, The Brasilia Review and The Hart House Review, among others.
TRIVARNA HARIHARAN is a student of English Literature from India. She has authored There Was Once A River Here (Les Editions du Zaporogue), The Necessity of Geography (Flutter Press) and Letters I Never Sent (Writers Workshop, Kolkata). Her poems appear or are forthcoming from Right Hand Pointing, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Third Wednesday, Otoliths, Peacock Journal, Across the Margin, Front Porch Review, and others. In October 2017, Calamus Journal nominated her poem for a Pushcart Prize. She has served as an editor-in-chief at Inklette, and a poetry editor for Corner Club Press. Besides writing, she learns the Electronic Keyboard, and has completed her 4th Grade in the instrument from Trinity College of Music, London.
It's Become Time
That's about right;
The fact that it's no longer
What it used to be.
Like it just up and altered.
I've got my eyes set
To see where the colours change
If it's time before time
Or just time from never time.
Level Out the Season
Bottom line it's up to you
To flatten, to level out the season
To bring it in line with this meridian
And stand back and just watch it shimmer.
(Text © Reade Calderwood - Publication: Summer 2018)
The Mundane Feel More Than Realized
Yesterday resigns itself to dresser,
contesting all the time through slack jaw.
Old jeans robbed of change,
socks without mates.
Closet is lined with tomorrows.
Some of the clothes worn before
have that stress sweat
requiring a pre-treat scrub.
Plastic hangers; brittle wheelbarrows.
Flu is in the air, clouds thick with phlegm.
Migraine rising in the sky.
The weatherman’s forecast was wrong again.
He cannot predict how it will empathize
with its inhabitants---it could be the only thing
that understands them all day.
“Invitation” (from Debt to Income: A Suite)
Me and a guest but
a guest is supposition.
I’ve been single all my life and was invited to attend a
wedding and reception. Though I will return
home to myself,
“I have to put my best foot forward.”
No one could teach me how.
At 14 my friend asked me to dance with him.
After 30 seconds I was summarily dismissed.
“Go sit down.”
Another time in line for a kickball game in the street
I backed into him,
“Bumping and grinding.”
I somehow aroused his mistake.
No wonder humans aren’t perfect,
there is pleasure in sin.
An arched foot is just like
an hour glass.
How long could I walk in these shoes?
How long could I tiptoe on a weapon?
I’ll be handicapped by manicure,
made lame by pedicure.
I wear a uniform most days or
restrict my dresses to two or three
so my body won’t change on me.
I’ll melt my words to a hum.
At the table I will chew my calories and make
a pleasing sound.
All I ask is: whoever God grants clemency to that day
and lets them dare bring man and woman together again,
I don’t want to know their nakedness.
Emotions let loose in the dark kick bedposts.
(Text © Sarah Kersey - Publication: Summer 2018)
Cast Your Nets
Cast your nets into the waters of fame
Run your fingers through your catch
And feel it slip between your digits
Back into the sea.
So it is
With greed and avarice
Watersheds of bargains
Stored in basements…
Attics packed with treasures
Saved for a rainy day
Falling apart as fodder
In the paws of squirrels in hide-away.
But love – love though squandered
On the unappreciative or cruel
Is never wasted – though it may be ridiculed,
Ignored, misinterpreted or spurned.
Cast your nets into the rivers and lakes.
Beguile none with shiny lures.
Just sing the song of yourself …
Revel in sparking translucence.
He did the Fandango for me -
In my apartment off second avenue
trying to cheer me up
before he left for the airport
and another “business venture”.
It was always a race with him.
Rain, Snow, Sleet, Hail, Sunshine -
It was all about moving.
Running to the corner shop for cigarettes
Hurrying to the doctor appointment.
Speeding across town to the theater.
Always, always the race factor
What I would not give to forget time!
Just do things leisurely and calmly
Lounge in a long bath with him and breathe
Meditate in front of a pillar candle
Lie by a fireplace together and sip sherry.
Having raced to the west coast and back
He burst into my parlor Thursday morning
Asked me to marry him
Raced me to City Hall
We signed the papers
We spoke our “I dos”
An urgent message was delivered by currier
He gave me a hug and a kiss
Flew out the door
Bolted into a waiting cab
Waved excitedly to me
Disappeared into the city traffic.
Always racing, racing for the moon!
I’ll never forget
the day he
the Fandango for me.
The Soup Kitchen
The soup kitchen:
not my first stop today-
the mailbox – was.
Those last two stamps
stuck inside my pant’s pocket…
my last chance
to find a publisher.
I was put out this morning
on the sidewalks of New York.
They took everything
for nonpayment of rent.
The manager of the soup kitchen
said I could use their address and phone number
with my poetry entry and handed me an envelope.
I’ll stay there tonight
as long as they let me…
didn’t get much sleep
knowing I was going out on the street.
Never saw anything coming.
Dave turning into a beast overnight,
stealing everything I owned.
Phyllis telling all those lies about me.
Have to develop a hide of leather…
So darn naïve.
No credit, busted, let down.
Nothing left to lose as I walk down lonely street.
Can’t even get a room at the heartbreak hotel-
just full-up with chumps like me.
I’ve got one chance though -
thanks God for the soup kitchen!
(Text © Karen Tylutki - Publication: Summer 2018)
Delicate chain behind
Weak winter want
Mothers a power surge
At sleeping garden juice.
Diamond dream sun sky.
Worshipful light blue beauty.
The wind chants a symphony storm,
Heaving a sea-sing spray.
Forest 'neath moon language.
Gone is time as moment.
She shines a music shadow,
Shot with cool whisper vision.
(Text © Mary May - Publication: Summer 2018)
Long Live the Queen
Long live the Queen,
The most gorgeous you have seen.
With emerald eyes, porcelain skin,
And a wide, pearly grin,
She is the iron ruler of this land.
No man, no woman, nor child,
Dares to cross her path,
For fear of her terrible wrath.
A false façade, a welcoming mask,
"Join me for a meal," a voice kindly asks.
When you turn your back,
The monster attacks.
Her aim is true
And her knife goes through you.
Countless go missing from the wicked mistress.
Manipulating words make her our bloody Queen.
Lands once green,
No longer produce;
Another side of humanity is let loose.
Men are set against each other in a battle no one can win.
Finally, eyes begin to open.
The people turn their blades from each other to the castle.
For the satiated Queen, food is no hassle.
Chants of the dying rise up in wells.
"March, march, march.
Against the absolute.
March, march, march.
Her withheld riches, we must loot!"
Out the window looks the confident Queen,
At her soldiers in armor that gleams.
Down they bow,
The peasants plotted to revolt.
Now, frightened is the Queen,
As she had ever been.
Inside the palace, she orders her troops,
Unaware they are part of the coup;
She begs for their protection.
The gate is lowered,
Letting the liars enter.
The peasants grab her.
Is the downfall of the helpless Queen.
Locked in her chamber,
The tyrant watches the ravenous fools
Dash to the kitchen, dripping drool.
In the cellar, mountains of meat are stored.
Excited, their stomachs roar.
From her cell,
The isolated Queen watches as a feast is held.
Devouring meat cooked and dressed in every way,
They eat for several days.
On the last, they are again without food.
Cackling, the weaker Queen,
Much more lean
Than the time before,
Shouts from behind her chamber door;
Words combine no one cared to explore.
"Food was short for royalty too.
To my dismay, I had to improvise.
Akin to the job of flies,
I consumed the flesh of your dead.
That is the meat of which you fed."
No longer weighed down by hunger,
The people weep.
Into their hearts, anger creeps.
Eating their family is an act they did not mean.
No, it is the fault of the tricky Queen!
They smash down the barrier
And pin her
To the ornate bed.
In one blow, to the floor rolls her severed head.
Her death did not change the peoples' predicament.
Once a ruler, she no longer stands.
Towards the sky,
Stare her glassy eyes.
The swirls and splatter of blood are an artful scene.
Long live the Queen.
In the darkness where I dwell,
Thoughts and notions, inside me, swell,
Hidden secrets I will never tell.
The cheerful hopes of long ago,
Now, I must forego,
Forced by those I will never know.
My passionate mind begins to rot,
For all the dreams I once sought
Are meant for me not.
Once my own mighty Queen,
Realty brings me to my knees;
Age unravels the world before me.
(Text © Mary Rose Kurkowiak - Publication: Summer 2018)
Green Fuzzy Robe
After my mama died,
I wrapped myself in her green fuzzy robe
to hold her to my heart a little longer.
I sank into the scent of her living;
My hands stank of her death.
had stripped her soiled gown and washed her bone stretched skin.
Brushed her hair and found her teeth before her mouth stiffened.
Diapered her in case any body fluids leaked.
are so like hers -
nurse to nurse
mother to daughter.
My hands did what they had been trained to do, then
in her green fuzzy robe
to hold her to my heart
just a little bit longer.
Fallow and at rest
not thinking or dreaming
not seeing or hearing
her eulogy of stars
(Text © Kelli Simpson - Publication: Summer 2018)
Three in the morning, I am
awake under cloth and commitment,
paltry comforters, I discover
beside me, your form
for years some shelter, some skin
against mine, and outsiders.
But in this dark stopping,
sediment rises and separates:
I do not know what we are
I do not know if touch is still soft, if
softness is still a shield,
an assurance, if the road
we are on will remain paved with
Is balance lost, my body asks
the place to hold yourself on the mountain
I cannot breathe.
Four in the morning, your foot
reaches out, icy toe on my shin
You ask me for the third time
what care is
as I lay, struck prone in the arms
of a family of machines,
handcuffed to life
You ask our provider
if I am still here, but do not
ask yourself if I should be
in you instead, if there are more
worthy places for my presence to fill
You can’t see me swimming
over your head, hear me push you
through the stages
I am a child, and you are a child.
My sickness makes us both childlike
makes you apologize like
you know I can sense truth
even in this state.
Over and over you try
to be grown, you grab at power
lament at papers I have and have
not signed, on occasion
to be barred by men in white coats,
with no faces
Tell them I see you, patient.
Tell them we walk together in the warmth
of your fingers, ridges mountains
where the last realities isolate themselves in mist
hoping to be traversed
and yanked into illumination
I am concerned that you cannot say goodbye,
the way you hold me and darken my veins
the resolve in your voice that counts
my false breaths.
We near an end
neither abrupt nor planned.
We near a freeing
(Text © Terese Pierre - Publication: Summer 2018)
Snow settles on
the mountain I trailed
How soon we have
lost each other.
the garden of my
I long for flowers
that can open me
By the sun’s tender
autumn leaves sing
in a voice
that only our souls
In a forest
where birds sing
of their sorrows—
on our hands like
down a path strewn
that cannot speak.
No one knows where
the river in whose
even stones sing
(Text © Trivarna Hariharan - Publication: Summer 2018)