What face?

A poem by Allison Grayhurst


A moody afterglow – the error of thoughts, hopeless
when it comes to laughter and the power of worship.
On the table there are self-deeds, failed
revelations, kneading and prying wide a soul
that doesn’t want to be recognized. I want you
to allow me this success, to find the flavour of your eyes,
shape them with tools and my thumbs, to press the flat
hard edges of my palms against your cheekbones, press and
form the cause of your pride, your loneliness that seems so
important to maintain. Curled toes and chins, your chin
is becoming, shifting from strong to soft. You are neither
masculine nor feminine. You are privileged – to be so
beautiful and uncommitted to a single way of looking. Look.
Your hair – long or cut off? In real life, there is no
perfect symmetry. You are bold, accurate –
your nose and the lines around your mouth are my contemplation.
Let me know you. Be courageous.
Let me pry, split and mould your inner
workings until they are as clear (for both of us)
as love.


Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Three times nominated for Sundress Publications’ “Best of the Net” in 2015, she has over 1100 poems published in over 430 international journals. She has had sixteen books of her poetry published—seven collections and nine chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family. She is a vegan. She also sculpts, working with clay… Visit her website!

I Wondered

A poem by John D. Robinson


How a poem could be written
about a beautiful
11 years old boy
who was hit by a car as he
stood in a safe-zone, waiting
for a break in the traffic to
cross safely;
he was air-lifted to a city
hospital and into emergency
surgery;
it wasn’t good, wired up
to a machine to breathe,
damage to his young
brain overwhelmingly
traumatic;
he would never see again,
never again look into the
eyes of his parents, he
would not be able to walk
or talk ever again; he’d
live in a world of numbness,
darkness and emptiness,
motionless;
cruelly robbed of the
beauty of life and love
and wonder of feeling,
of sensation;
he was just 11 years old
just starting out;
for nearly 2 weeks, an
eternity for the family,
the ventilator and the
medicines kept his little
body alive and no more
could be done and the
medics decided to stop
the medicines and then 3
days later, the ventilator
was switched-off;
for a few brief moments
the young kid struggled
and then he passed
and I wondered
how a poem could be
written about
something like that.


John D. Robinson is a poet from the U.K. He has published two chapbooks of poetry: When You Hear The Bell, There’s Nowhere To Hide (Holy & Intoxicated Publications, 2016) and Cowboy Hats & Railways (Scars Publications, 2016). His work has appeared, and continues to appear, frequently in small press and online literary journals.

Script Writers

A poem by Ryan Quinn Flanagan


up
in the beak
of the kingfisher

there are no survivors

only a view,
panoramic death glide
with pharmaceuticals

many tiny overturned vials
in the next room
like collapsed buildings

the soot-faced still in shock
tired faulty lungs of
asbestos

and Ornette Coleman for ears,
what a notion –

monies in the couch cushions
like something forgotten
and fossilized

the spines of books broken
so men with pages for hearts
can ink-cry.


Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

The Christmases That Were Forever

A poem by James Jackson


my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
got jobs.


James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory. (Writing Knights Press, 2017.) His poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle and is a former winner of the William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at his website.

Pornoville

A poem by Jim Zola


The only school in town is Catholic,
all girls, taught by nuns with long curved
fingernails and too much mascara.
Sister Brittani is rumored to sport
a tattooed stigmata and a cursive J
on her inner thigh. The boys in town
prop glassbrick walls and swap fish tales.
Barely puffed cigarette butts pile high
like monuments. Every other downtown
shop is for beauty. Grown men
are pool cleaners or muscled executives
in buttonless shirts. They grunt greetings,
scoop dirty water, shuffle papers, wait
for the women who are nurses,
secretaries and maids all laced
in innocence. They hide their sags
and sores until retirement. Then they move
to Jerkwater, where the big summer
event is a softball tournament
against the circus folks from Gibsonton.
Last year the half-girl pitched a perfect game.

Quasars Make the Best Lovers

A poem by Ryan Quinn Flanagan


Escaping the visual cortex
you need help, like a prospective prison break
in search of sympathetic guards
shimmying your way through a matrix of lights out duct work
to a waiting car
leaving your few meager belongings behind,
and that is what I love about chance, the aging breakfast goer
beside you shoving buttered toast into his mouth could
be so much more than crumbs;
Quasars make the best lovers because they are new
and exciting and you know nothing about them,
like trying on a new pair of shoes and walking uneasily
around the store for some moments
while the commission worker with obscenely good teeth
holds the box; and when a woman has searched the stars
and come back to you, it is only for a time,
but you shave and sit up in bed and read to her
so the long nights of this city seem a little
less monstrous.


Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

This Too

A poem by Jeffrey Zable


I felt very sad, and you said, “This too shall pass. . .”

The door opened and someone entered with a child on a leash.
“He is more than a pet,” the person said, “and if you’d like to pet him
it only costs 50 cents.”

I then remembered the time a teacher embarrassed me in class
by calling on me when I wasn’t ready.
“Child,” she said, “if you sailed north on the Pacific would you eventually
wind up in Japan or Elvis Presley’s house in Memphis?”

With nothing left to lose I said I was leaving
and that I was not only going to find a new school and new parents,
but a new and better way of seeing the world.

I said this to anyone who would listen, but as I looked around the room
I saw that everyone was sucking their thumb and rolling their eyes
as if I’d said the dumbest thing they’d ever heard.

I felt very sad, and you said, “This too shall pass. . .”


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction  have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Some of his recent writings have appeared in Serving House Journal, Mocking Heart ReviewKairos, Third WednesdayFutures Trading, Tower Journal, Jokes Review, and Fear of Monkeys, among others.

Coming to Terms

A poem by Jim Zola


At night, once-dark windows flicker yellow light,
forcing me to imagine lives sadder than my own.

She wears pink fuzzy slippers. A dog bowl lost
in the corner. She believes in radio

romance. Her husband is dust gingerly moved
between crystal angels. She wonders why

I conjure her instead of a hootchie mama
in a snug slip eating buttered crackers,

dancing to the rhythm of her own sweet sway.
She imagines me across the mud shaven field,

the rabbit loved emptiness, this doom that connects us.

Internal Insurance

A poem by R. Gerry Fabian


She has an invisible amulet—
perhaps her soft smile
or her white teeth—
perhaps her gentle hands.
It could be
the disarming quality
of her voice.
Whatever the magic
she is so far beyond harm
that Lloyd’s of London
send representatives
to study her.


R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. He is the editor of Raw Dog Press. His novels, Memphis Masquerade and Getting Lucky (The Story), and published poetry book, Parallels, are available on Smashwords and in all other e-book stores.

The Result

A poem by Jeffrey Zable


When I checked into my room on the 32nd floor I had a view
of the city and what looked like bugs crawling around in search
of food. I stood there on the balcony and masturbated until my semen
went over the edge and landed on the bald head of a woman who had
shaved it in protest of housewives not receiving a living wage for
watching game shows during the day and preparing peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches at night. Unfortunately, when she spotted me,
she took out her one-shot derringer and carefully aimed for my head,
which luckily I had time to cover with the wine bucket at my feet.
But when the bullet hit the metal, it must have ricocheted left and hit
the man on the balcony next to me for when I removed the bucket,
I saw him falling over the edge and land in the hotel swimming pool,
killing three others as a result. . .


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction  have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Some of his recent writings have appeared in Serving House Journal, Mocking Heart ReviewKairos, Third WednesdayFutures Trading, Tower Journal, Jokes Review, and Fear of Monkeys, among others.