“Chemotherapy and the Tasmanian Devil” by Jaclyn Piudik

“Through the Woods” by Sydney McKenna, watercolor, 30″ x 32″

An elephantine drip aglow
fortuitous bubble gum – pop – à la Bazooka Joe
 
Her appetite undergoes treatment for disarray
in the dark archives of University and College
 
Joan of Arc or Jones New York
have no place in these toxic gardens
 
Jab her with poetic justice, a heartfelt grunt
a rasp and a slow-borne growl of plasmatazz

The curative act [sic] becomes art
of the omnivorous kind, the hellishly tired veins

swig their pastel cocktail
a seeming infinity of cranberry masks

the sterile byways, the benign gleam
of cartoon English and wigged-outness

Looney music pacifies the buzz, the nauseated
floral-spin in the afterworld desert

Distant from eloquent drawl, she is so radiant
Shine on crazy diamond: omnia mutantur

 
 
 

Jaclyn Piudik is the author of To Suture What Frays (Kelsay Books 2017) and two chapbooks, Of Gazelles Unheard (Beautiful Outlaw 2013) and The Tao of Loathliness (fooliar press 2005/8).  Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including New American Writing, Columbia Poetry Review, Burning House, Barrow Street and Contemporary Verse 2.   She received a New York Times Fellowship for Creative Writing and the Alice M. Sellers Award from the Academy of American Poets. Piudik has edited three collections of poetry for award winning Canadian publisher Book*hug. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, as well as a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto.

“Ten and Two” by Melanie Perish

“Rapture in the Postmodern Era” by Sydney McKenna, Oil on canvas, 60″ x 62″

In the first year, even after
she worked the steps
love was crazy as
driving under the influence.

Like that time the car started to slide,
slide across the double yellow lines
into the on-coming lane;
and she couldn’t remember which way
to turn the wheel.

No time for prayer beyond
God help me.
Her right foot down once
down twice on the brake,
then lifted, so her heart
could catch up.

Black gloved hands at ten and two
turned the wheel
toward the spin
out of hope the size of a tear drop
while life moved in geologic time.

When the spin stopped
the car pointed in the right direction
in its own lane; and again
she lived by minutes and inches.
With the car, with any new person
she could have sworn
she was going slowly enough.

 

Melanie Perish lives in Reno, NV and commutes regularly to Bryan, TX, Northern, CA, and Santa Fe, NM.  She is a member of Poets & Writers and Alcoholics Anonymous. She is old and sometimes crabby and does not care that she’s just broken her anonymity.  Her poems have recently appeared in the Austin International Poetry Festival anthology, DiversityThe Avocet, Brushfire, and Emerging Poets (Z-Publishing, 2018). Her poetry collection Passions & Gratitudes was published by Black Rock Press in 2011. She is currently working on a second collection. She is grateful for the generosity of other poets and writers, her history with women’s writing workshops, her online writers exchange, and the current poetry workshops she participates in. She is indebted to small press publications, little magazines, and on-line publications because she knows how much effort these require.

“The Hippocratic Oath” by Melissa McKinstry


“A Gentle Lifting” by Sydney McKenna, oil on canvas.

The DNR rests on my desk.
I’ve signed it in my mind
over and over for 21 years,
but only once with a pen
and a witness, and the father
of my son, a child
tangled in a dysfunctional genome
for no particular reason. Every
day since his birth has felt like
a penance, and more recently,
a rebellion against
the doctors who want
to put another hole in him
but don’t want to talk about
his life or ours.
But, this evening
the garden is a rose window,
and I confess uncertainty
in its glow and the exhale
of the canyon.
To practice singing
a big song from a small body
I listen to the goldfinches,
and my son clicks his tongue
in what may be a response.

 

 


Melissa McKinstry grew up on small farms outside of Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, learning how things grow and how people take care of each other in small communities. She is currently a student in the MFA poetry program at Pacific University. Her poetry has appeared in The Seattle Review and Quaint Canoe, EcoPoetry Washington, and is forthcoming in the first issue of Heirlock. She works to follow the advice of poet Joe Millar: “Sanctify yourself as a poet. Sit down and write every day.”

“Diving In” by Jennifer Campbell

“Salt Run” by Sydney McKenna, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 36″

“Emerging research suggests that not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.”  —Center for Biological Diversity

Diving to see coral and clownfish,
instead Snow White is submerged in trash—
a plastic bag becomes a jellyfish,
translucent floating shape shifter,
the spikes on a puffer fish jut out,
red and white striped straws stabbing its back.

Snow went to explore the sea life
and finds death, evidence
of a trillion crimes against purity.
The longer she lingers, the more
waste floats at her, disguised as fish.

After her first dive, she becomes
obsessed. The sea calls out to her
and she needs to see the unreal colors
of a right pink flipflop, neon applesauce pouch,
orange doll arm, fingers chewed with worry.
She finds it hard to return
to the surface, wonders how the mermaids
could have wasted so much time
with their useless song.


     

Jennifer Campbell is an English professor in Buffalo, NY, and a co-editor of Earth’s Daughters. She has two full-length poetry collections, Supposed to Love and Driving Straight Through, and was a finalist in both the 2017 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Contest and the 2014 River Styx International Poetry Contest. Several of her poems appear in journals such as Pinyon Review, Little Patuxent Review, The Healing Muse, Sow’s Ear, Comstock Review, Pennsylvania English, Saranac Review, Oyez Review, and Fugue, and her work is forthcoming in the AROHO Waves Anthology.

“Sabine” by Bryan Price

“Rossore d’autunno” by Lisa Boardwine, Oil/Cold Wax on Panel, 8 x 8.

I am as unmated as a stray, liberated by flight and put to bad use—floating beyond the back of beyond. This is not unlike the outer space that follows good breathing. It has been a year without a recognizable kitchen, without the gurgle of the cat fountain, without the wet sound of the radiator interrupting all good sleep, without the steep drop from the bedroom window, without crosstalk in bed. Unmoored, I am trapped without your night voice. The half kitchen with electric griddle is no travesty, but it reinforces bad habits: hardly standing, drinking too much, eating from the cold cases at the liquor store. Against all good advice I take to the streets for air. I go to buy cigarettes. Flags pop in the wind. I sit against a chair fastened with a bicycle lock to a parking meter. She tells me I am saying Angela Merkel’s name wrong. She is laughing. She does not want to talk about politics. The look is one of remorse. We are silent before the sound of a fistfight moves like a storm across the asphalt. We are in its path.

   

Bryan Price’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Manhattanville ReviewMenacing HedgePortland Review (online), and Posit. He lives and teaches in the suburbs of southern California where he writes about time, memory, utopia, and its opposite.

“The Hospital” by Suzanne Burns

“Ricordi rosi” by Lisa Boardwine, 12 x 12, Oil/Cold Wax on Panel.

For a week I sit by your bedside
while nurses come and go, medicine
to clear the alcohol from your blood,
your bones, rising and falling,
your thin finger, now bony, sheathed
at the tip in a steady red beat
to monitor how well you breathe during sleep.

Mostly, you sleep. Hardly touch
any food I try bringing while your wife,
moved south with all of your things,
feigns concern on the phone, while women
you dated, sexted, who knows what
after she left, text you as I hold your hand
until I block them all for my peace,
my family thinking I am such a good friend
to never leave your side while we fight
on and off about your indiscretions
but never about your drinking.

As you sleep your way to sobriety
I cry into tuna salad in the cafeteria downstairs,
a larger scoop given to me each day
by the man behind the counter who wants to know
if I need a punch card, I’ve been there so long.

I try to pray my Catholic prayers into
your Buddhist heart—
we both carry around a lot of beads—
but the hospital chapel sits closed for repairs,
a leaking roof, the worst storm in years
I drive day and night and day through
just to watch you sleep.



Suzanne Burns writes both poetry and prose. This poem is in her full-length collection, Look At All the Colors Hidden Here.

“Peeling an Orange” by Suzanne Burns

“Storie di Pietra” by Lisa Boardwine, 12 x 12, Oil/Cold Wax on Panel.

You sit cross-legged on your bed
like nothing ever happened the day
Your roommate, back in town,
hands me money to buy beer at the store
when he hears I am going shopping.

I buy blueberries you will never eat,
salmon you will place in your freezer and forget,
organic peanut butter, a bag of Mandarin oranges.

Mandarin oranges, we both know, will not cure you,
the nurses and doctors letting you go
once the alcohol is gone, knowing
it will find its way back to you in a month or two
of being left alone while I go back
to my husband and watch him drink,

the pendulum I will swing on for months
before leaving, many fights, many drinks,
guilt, bargaining, apologies,

but this afternoon we pretend
you are healed and everything
will be like it is in an Afterschool Special
we both grew up watching,

the handsome, troubled boy
sitting on the edge of the bed peeling
an orange the neighbor girl brought him.

Look, they marvel, it is so juicy.
Look, they exclaim, like it’s the single most important revelation,
there aren’t even any seeds.

   

Suzanne Burns writes both poetry and prose. This poem is from her full-length collection, Look At All the Colors Hidden Here.

“There is No Point” by John Riley

“Frammenti” by Lisa Boardwine, Oil/Cold Wax on Panel, 12 x 12.

for Liz

You’re dead today I learned before the meeting at noon
where I watched a white spider travel from the room to the hall
spitting and stringing a new home the janitor
will tear down when he returns from lunch
for it’s a clean church that does much good
and will always slaughter the spiders and they will still come.
My seat—it was a pew—was soft and provided
me a place to watch the spider work away.
I swear he never stopped to take a sip
from the shiny, clean fountain waiting below,
was never tempted to turn from learning to sew
and try to escape a relentless, soundless fear.
His head will never be seized by the despair
that could make a slight girl fall into my old arms
as we stood in the middle of a similar big room.
I had learned not long before that day
there was no talking any of us from wanting to dive
off the highest point, much higher than the spider worked,
and you slowly stopped crying and thanked me, smiling nervously.
Over the few months left you would poke my ample belly
and tell me I should lose that gut
because you wanted me to stick around
for the next time you needed an old guy to hold you up.
I’d like you to know I stayed, gone child, though some days
I too want to turn and walk into the dark
toward that tower but I know it’s an illusion,
there is no point so high we forget we are alive.




John Riley has published poetry in Mojave River Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Dead Mule, Better Than Starbucks and many other journals and anthologies. He works in educational publishing part-time and is a full-time nanny to his beautiful granddaughter Byl.

“Low-/Tide Heart of Mine” by Jennifer Martelli

Painting by Anna Rac.

That summer I put down my last drug, I stood

on my board & paddled around the tide pools

at Short Beach, above the hermit crabs

scuttling over purple rocks looking for new

homes & below planes landing, coming

back, so low I could see their metal bellies.

I cut through the hot solstice air, my balance

steady enough I could look over my shoulder,

back to the beach: kids, some crying, a small dog

chased a gull fat with fried food, & I think now

I was happy, or if not happy, nothing fed this low-

tide heart of mine. I remember it was mid-

year & I had yet to give back even an inch of light.




Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (forthcoming, Bordighera Press), as well as the chapbook, After Bird (Grey Book Press, winner of the open reading, 2016). Her work has appeared or will appear in Verse Daily, The Sonora Review, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), The Sycamore Review, Sugar House, Superstition Review, Thrush, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Her prose and artwork have been published in Five-2-One, The Baltimore Review, and Green Mountains Review. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a poetry editor for The Mom Egg Review.

“The Broken Cherry, the Poplar, the Yew” by Jennifer Martelli

Painting by Anna Rac.

One Halloween when I was a child, my mother taught me how to make ghosts
from tissue & silk thread tied around their necks. We’d hang them

from the old trees: the broken cherry, the poplar, the yew. The Italian woman next door
left tomatoes from her garden on our back porch, some so fat & ripe

they split & spilt their seeds. We forgot to bring them in, left them out back
on the kidney patio, by the dying orange cosmos. During childbirth—my birth–

they gave my mother forgetting drugs & the straps
to hold her down were lambs’ wool so they wouldn’t leave marks

around her wrists & ankles & behind her knees & remind her
of the pain. She didn’t remember this of course. I remember her

forgetting, it started with numbers, then clocks, then faces. I remember
anybody who ever forgot me. My heart opens a space for a whole autumn night.

I remember the picket fence around our yard, the one with the gate & the old man
with the accordion against his flannel chest. He’d play these slow, slow songs

from another country, or songs I’d never heard here. He’d play that thing
through fall until the first frost & the air rushed too cold through the expanding folds.




Jennifer Martelli is the author of My Tarantella (forthcoming, Bordighera Press), as well as the chapbook, After Bird (Grey Book Press, winner of the open reading, 2016). Her work has appeared or will appear in Verse Daily, The Sonora Review, Iron Horse Review (winner, Photo Finish contest), The Sycamore Review, Sugar House, Superstition Review, Thrush, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Her prose and artwork have been published in Five-2-One, The Baltimore Review, and Green Mountains Review. Jennifer Martelli has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net Prizes and is the recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant in Poetry. She is a poetry editor for The Mom Egg Review.