“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.

“Final Exam\Fall 2018” by Hananah Zaheer

Painting by Anna Rac.

Q:        What is decomposition? Use examples to illustrate your answer.

A:        Decomposition            is simple                                                         

            AB → A + B

It’s a change of direction a reconstruction of atoms         see         heat breaks down bonds or
you break down in a grocery store aisle         to enter rot you attach to pieces          love is no longer a drop of water      Hydrogen and Oxygen separately can’t reason       the two can’t breathe                  not together not alone either         it tastes a little like ache            like closing
the gates no more customers today
on the page it looks like this:

                        H2O→ H2 + O

Break               open an apple for example slice its heart slice again your unpracticed hands destroy it easy like a cake you never learned to bake like the jasmine that fell too soon grief wants to grow branches              parasites attaching to blood no one can see deep in the earth dripping from the ceiling making you dead cold in ways you didn’t even imagine                    it is a reaction         people say compose yourself and by that they mean dig up your bones     
cover that grief with dirt not          six        feet      under   but             two because decay happens so much easier in the shallow or perhaps think of it like this: in the shelves of a grocery store there are many things dying a pack of bagels for example meant for a family of four a smoothie never bought                                        a man holding his wife while the ambulances arrives molecules shift shapes when heated the same                 two look different when holding on differently                          like Hydrogen Peroxide

                2 H2O2 → 2 H2O + O2

two shelves over from the floor where she fell the same bottle they emptied in the aisle take my answer say it was a whole a promise and then something dispersed what I mean to say is
                 everything decomposes
                 even people
                 even words




Hananah Zaheer is a fiction editor for Four Way Review. Her recent work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review where it won the Lawrence Foundation Literary prize for 2017, Alaska Quarterly Review, Gargoyle, Moon City Review, Westview and Willow Review, among others. She received a 2016 Pushcart nomination from Moon City Review and has been awarded fellowships by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) and Rivendell Writers’ Colony.

“Stitches” by Hananah Zaheer

Painting by Anna Rac.

The day before I bury
             her                   I
measure her     in negatives
they have removed everything
heart lungs      her
                         liver     her                                           
            abdomen
sinks    my home
hollowed by someone’s hands
she was opened        she
smelled sweet
and sometimes
bitter    her
hands bathed me  
                           where
                           does
                           the
                           blood
                           come
from when I wipe
her chest          she is
              sewn shut       jagged
cuts across       I hold
her hair
It still looks the same




Hananah Zaheer is a fiction editor for Four Way Review. Her recent work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review where it won the Lawrence Foundation Literary prize for 2017, Alaska Quarterly Review, Gargoyle, Moon City Review, Westview and Willow Review, among others. She received a 2016 Pushcart nomination from Moon City Review and has been awarded fellowships by the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA) and Rivendell Writers’ Colony.

[Yes, but …] by Devon Balwit

Painting by Anna Rac.

Why don’t you…? people offer,
meaning well, not knowing the hole
its murk and depth, its rootedness, the soul
rot-riddled. To watch another suffer
distresses, brings out the fixer. Dis-ease,
alas, is not so easily fixed, the brain
stubbornly attuned to its frequency of pain.
Sure, one can medicate, finding one’s ease
in the cat-grab of pills at the nape,
but then one’s paws spin above the ground,
the world distant, both sense and sound
muted. —Better the feces-throwing ape
that hoots in the head’s cage. Do you see
the dilemma? Hamlet’s to be or not to be?




Devon Balwit‘s most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found in The Cincinnati Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), apt, Grist, and Rattle among others. For more on her book and movie reviews, chapbooks, collections and individual works, see her website at: https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet

“Apology in the Sand” by Kyle Laws

Painting by Anna Rac.

Across the canal, at Higbee’s Beach, paths wind through
a sanctuary of seabirds and water fowl. A ferry I do not board

backs into a November night, backs through the remains
of horseshoe crabs laying eggs on shore. I reach an apology

in the sand, find the stick used to imprint it; sand clogs
the end. It smells of low tide, a single strand of woman’s hair

caught against the rim of bamboo. If I had stayed, I would
not have closed the future of you, but picked up the child’s boot

from the debris of tide, wrapped it up with the entanglements
of seaweed and saltgrass, brought it home on another road. And I

will think of you years hence, of your foot in a rubber boot
trying to catch flounder from the bay, pole stand dug into

the last sandbar, small hand winding the line in, slow click
and turn of the reel, the sand shark you almost wrestle

to your feet, the empty hook, your surprise at how just before
the last hitch of the reel it slips away, how you will never

really learn to fish, to catch anything other than what has to be
thrown back in.



Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press), and Wildwood (Lummox Press). Ride the Pink Horse is forthcoming from Spartan Press. With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.