MY SON, MY MOON / NATHANIEL SVERLOW

my son
lets me sleep
two or three hours
at a time
and that’s just enough
for the body to function
but not nearly enough
for the spirit

I’m trying though

it’s all I can do
now that he’s here

to try and hold on
to those parts of me
that were once full
of fire

ravenous
for the drifter’s life

those parts of me
that drove alone
down the desert highway
breathing in starlight
chasing the moon
as it bled
back into the earth

sometimes I see it hanging
outside his window

it’s paler
than I remember
pockmarked
confused
by the passage of time

but it still glows

like a distant memory
it still glows

as I sing
my lullaby

 

 

 

Nathaniel Sverlow is a freelance writer of poetry and prose. He was born in 1983 in San Diego, California and has since spent most of his time hunched over a laptop randomly pressing keys. He currently resides in the Sacramento area with three cats, one incredibly supportive wife, and a newborn son. His previous publishing credits include Typehouse Literary MagazineMap LiteraryMarathon Literary ReviewDefenestrationBlack Fox Literary Magazine, Literary Orphans, and Squawk Back.

WHEN MY HUSBAND FLIES AWAY FOR WORK / KELLY JONES

I imagine the worst things happening in air. When he texts me that the plane had to land because it was leaking he is not afraid – he doesn’t realize this is my nightmare made real. I do not fear monsters or reapers or rapists, I could face them, could maybe defeat them. But I am terrified of suffocating. I have too often imagined that lack of oxygen. Or my lungs filling up with liquid, ballooning me into a darkness that lasts forever. Into nothing. My husband tries to make me believe that when he is gone it is only temporary, but I only trust in what I see before me. Survival instincts keep me grounded. I don’t sit with my back to a door and I always choose the seat nearest an exit. Nothing lasts forever, except for forever. And maybe the past, always replaying. Unchangeable. I woke up angry today because I dreamed he left me for another woman who wore lipstick and wanted children. Pregnancy scares me – it isn’t just the shifting hips and the ripping open. It’s the responsibility that threatens to anchor me down. It is the sign on the highway that flash amber and silver alerts, and the way that I drive by it and wonder how many years it will be before that sign flashes warnings about nuclear fallout zones. Not too long ago the Larsen-C ice shelf came loose from Antarctica and I learned that calving is the most beautiful word we have for breaking down or detaching. A few weeks ago it rained heavily and our neighborhood flooded – waist deep in some parts, trash left drying in the streets for days. This weekend we went tubing with friends and now I’ve got bruises from all the rocks I couldn’t see until it was too late. Lately it seems like everything either begins or ends in disaster and I wonder if it has ever been possible to fix a broken thing.

 

 

Kelly Jones grew up around Raleigh, NC. Their poetry can most recently be found in The Coraddi, Oracle Fine Arts Review, Rascal Journal, and Reality Hands. Having recently graduated with a Masters in Library and Information Studies, they are currently spending a lot of time filling out online applications and reminiscing about the ridiculously long list of jobs they’ve worked and places they’ve lived. Their summer goals include befriending people with access to pools, spending quality time with their dog (the wonderful Mr. Beaux Jangles), and attempting to keep some houseplants alive. 

 

 

ODE TO THE SHOWER SPIDER / JOHN THOMAS WETMORE

We believe that we invent symbols. The truth is that they invent us…

~Gene Wolfe

I wasn’t afraid when I first saw you—
I just felt bad, thinking you must have
the worst real estate agent in history
to end up wedged between the plastic
overhang of my shower
and the dull, beige wall.

You have endured much in your tenure:
toneless renditions of death metal
echoing at disturbing volumes,
mornings after I’ve binged on ghost
pepper tacos and Mexican coffee,
plus the unexpected thud of wet
towel that shakes you in your web—
just to name a few.

Sometimes I like to pretend you
are happy there, that the steam from a hot
shower transforms my apartment
bathroom into a tropical resort,
that the tiny, scuttling ants who
creep up from the molding contain
coconut milk in their hard,
succulent abdomens.

Remember when you adventured
into the shower and I turned on the faucet
without noticing you? You must have
felt immortal when your silk caught
my finger and I lifted you out
from the deluge—maybe you felt
like a god was on your side.

Still, I know one day you will teach me
that we can weave care into anything,
when I find you on your back, curled legs
making you look so small, cradled
by the soft threads that have come
from your body.

 

 

John Thomas Wetmore received his MA in Secondary Education from the University of Connecticut. He now teaches English and creative writing at Arts at the Capitol Theater in Willimantic, CT. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in the publications Bop Dead City and Liminality. Thanks to his teaching position, most of his poems receive thorough scrutiny from a crack team of high schoolers before reaching later drafts. He is very thankful for the opportunity to witness brilliance on a daily basis with his students, and to provide a space where art and performance are a regular part of the day.

THE DEAD DOG IN THE FIELD / NICOLE MASON

I like to tell it like it happened in July so
there can be implications of watermelons,
fireworks.

In December, though, the blood on the house and snow
are peony blooms in red and white.

But if it’s in July, there can be an image of my grandmother
leaned up against her spade,
the handle tucked up into her body,
the silver head tucked into the soil,
the top of her lip moist,
the dead dog next to her, inert.

If it’s in July, there can be flies,
swarms of flies,
covering the opened up parts of my dog
so that I can’t see the insides.

I can have my grandmother rest
for a bit over the hole and say:
the foxglove ain’t comin up this year.
Although, there’s never been any foxglove
and all I can imagine are thick leaves
and milk oozing from its anonymous roots
to saturate the soil.

In December, we find her still-alive and the neighbor across
the stumped over corn field sews her bits back together.

If it’s in July, she can stoop down to grasp a leg,
to chuck my dog into the hole.
It can be under the willow tree,
and I can crouch on my hams to peer over the side before
my grandmother begins to throw the dirt back in.

In December, my father goes out at night to find the
dogs that attacked her.
When he finds them,
he shoots them and throws their
bodies on their owner’s porch.
 
If it’s in July I can feel the sun on my head.
Grandmother pats the last of the dirt with her hands
and asks me if I want some potato salad.
 
In December, my dog lives and I feed her small pieces of old pizza
while she rests on a blanket in the basement.

 

 

Nicole Mason received her MA in Literature at Northern Michigan University and currently teaches Composition and Creative Writing at Indiana University of South Bend. Sometimes she writes poems. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in SOFTBLOW, (b)OINK, Farther Stars Than These, and Cease, Cows.

MISS / KAMAL E. KIMBALL

The morning is silver with birdsong.
Clapboard chapel sides

thunk down in the grass
as nude pews shudder.

The priest is sick.
His coughing will curse

both houses. The rings will roll
off the knuckles that don’t exist.

Crinoline waits, a virgin
in the dress shop, untouched

by the woman’s fingers.
It wants to be cut, trembles

for scissors. There will never be
a dress handmade from the shades

of the morning for the woman,
never specked with silver

sequins like finches pipping,
she vows. A bell’s throat

won’t clang and the hands
won’t clap after the kiss, after

the giving away
everyone wants, she fears.

 

 

 

Kamal E. Kimball is a poet currently living in the Ohio River Valley. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Zetetic, Literati Magazine, Indolent Books, Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal and elsewhere. She is a member of the Cincinnati DIY Writers and founder of Fresh Darlings, an online writing community. She works as a grant writer and journalist. More at kamalkimball.com 

STAINED / KELLY WEBER

Across the old woman’s ceiling, the stain
spreads its puckered areola,
water hooping frayed ripples in the plaster
where something broke, leaked
in the apartment upstairs, where naked
lights shine cold-clear as through windows
cobalted with Madonna and child.
This godforsaken place.
Why doesn’t the landlord
fix the pipes, clean those drains?

It’s the young single mother, blonde
as fuel in a match, who tells
what she’s heard about the woman upstairs:
thirty-four. Barmaid at the green
of the local golf course.
Boyfriend. Breakup. Back pains
and stomach. A mistake.
An accident. Hadn’t told
the doctor. Something gone wrong,
spilled out, half-formed and rather
than call for help, admit on the phone,
she tried to flush it
down the drain. The half-forgotten
sleeping thing, flipped sideways,
its face a doll’s face,
its ear a doll’s ear
not quite ready to hear the world
clogged and overflowed the pipe.

A delicate matter for delicate people,
this is not told widely among the tenants
but the old woman sees how the stain is sponged
after the upstairs lady moves away
and she has had time to chew over
how many times she bruised her own son’s face,
the teacher who never speaks of her ex
and the secrets women keep, burning
white rings in ceilings above their heads.

 

 

 

Kelly Weber is the author of the chapbook All My Valentine’s Days Are Weird from Pseudo Poseur Press. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in several publications, including The Midwest Quarterly, Triggerfish, and Clade Song, along with such anthologies as Nebraska Poetry: A Sesquicentennial Anthology and The Flat Water Stirs: An Anthology of Emerging Nebraska Poets. She has taught composition and poetry at Wayne State College, where she received her BA of English Writing and Literature and her MSE in English Education. She is currently working toward her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University. More of her work can be found at kellymweber.com.

SHE WHISPERS TO THE VULTURES / COLIN DODD

It rained that day.
His woman was fucking phantoms
in the shadows.
Doorways opened into empty space five stories up.
He was a ghost among real animals.
His lover was rooting for the hyenas.
She could barely see him.
He embarrassed the statues with his fervor.
Dispatched from heaven, then from the fifth floor.
All his time was free.
She whispers to the vultures
that the worst is almost over for them.

 

 

Colin Dodds is a writer. He grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He is the author of several novels, including WATERSHED and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” His poetry has appeared in more than two hundred seventy publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology. The poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ poetry: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” His book-length poem That Happy Captive was named a finalist in both the Trio House Press Louise Bogan Award and the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award. And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

THE PAINTING / ROBERT HALLECK

The town was small.
The museum was small,
free, and uncrowded.
He looked at the painting
with the artist’s name
faded to nothing.
It stayed with him
all that summer
and the years that followed.
A smiling girl with a sleeping dog.

 

 

Robert Halleck is a retired bank president who fills his days with hospice volunteering, greyhound rescue, and poetry. He has a weakness for open mic poetry readings and autocross racing. He underwrites a yearly poetry prize at Norwich University. In the last 50 years, three volumes of his poems have been published. His recent work has appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annuals, The Paterson Literary Review, The Galway Review, The Lake, and a number of other interesting places. 
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