“Gone Sister” by Dion O’Reilly


“Carriage House” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 52″.

She never fell from her frantic
mare as it reared and twisted
in the mustard fields.
And when she drove high speed
in her ‘67 Karmann Ghia,
she didn’t plummet
off an unexpected cliff
at the end of Swift Street
as she flipped out on acid.

She survived her wild childhood,
divides her time
between three western states.
Summers in Coos Bay, visits in the fall
with the willing men of Kanab,
winters spent
floating across borders,
visiting boneyards of the old days
in this dirty California town,
where she learned the ways of wayward surfers,
smoked dope downtown with strangers,
searched the Boardwalk
at four in the morning
for some stringy-haired boy
to bring home.

Bull-whipped child grown bold,
cast out by her parents at seventeen,
her violence aimed back to them,
when she tipped the table,
stood, suddenly screaming
at Christmas.
Even my father’s fists
slamming her face,
my mother sending her into the streets
in tight lime-green pants and torpedo bras—
none of it killed her.
Without family she’s alive,
sixty-six in a jet-black wig
and Grace Slick bangs, the same
as when she was eighteen
and I was twelve,
her big dark eyes inked with liquid
eyeliner, her plump mouth
shiny with pale gloss, open,
as if calling out.

 

 

Dion O’Reilly has spent  much of her life on a farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She studies with Ellen Bass and Danusha Leméris and attends an MFA program in Creative Writing at Pacific University. She has worked as a waitress, barista, baker, theater manager, graphic designer, and public school teacher. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Rattle, The Sun, Canary Magazine, Spillway, Bellingham Review, Atlanta Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Porter Gulch Review, and a variety of other literary journals and anthologies. Her work has been nominated for Pushcarts, the Intro Journals Project, and was a semifinalist in The Folio Literary Journal Poetry Contest.

 

“Fuel” by Lanier Wright Fields

god asks why (Fecundity, Expanse)
“God Asks Why” by Peter Groesbeck.
(See also “Fecundity Expanse” by Sasha West.)

I.

My father swears up and down
that, when he was thirteen,
he mistook an unmarked vat
of kerosene for water. In this
as in all things, he drank
with gusto. Everything burned
inside him for days.

II.

I cannot help but feel sick
superiority when I tell someone
I don’t drink. Vodka, whiskey—lesser spirits
might heed whispered invitations
to woozy, jet-propelled calamity. But each
shot of firewater is exactly that
to my guts: corrosion, all the way down.

III.

Walking down my street
past the liquor store, I watch
the neighborhood boys siphoning
gasoline to trade for nips.
Two teenagers hand the tube
to a younger one. They say, “Don’t worry,
everyone swallows some the first time.”

 

 

Lanier (Lane) Wright Fields is a southern transplant living and working in Boston, Massachusetts. Professionally, Lane has performed technology witchcraft, taught sociology, worked in a factory, and gone corporate. Besides poetry, Lane’s hobbies and interests include music and shows, leftist activism, veg*n cooking, straight edge and hardcore subcultures, video game history, philosophy and social theory, and spiritual development.

 

“Indian Remedies for Tereusitis” by Sabyasachi Nag

Fulfilled
“Womb” by Mia Avramut, wax on paper, 5.8 x 8.2 in.
(See also “Fulfillment” by Avital Gad-Cykman.)

Certain alpha hoopoes have the taste
For both, Philomel and Itys.
In India, they prey after dark when exhaust
From the beer factory gags the sky so tight
One can taste the malt in their wing pits.
Gods know. They respond by reforming
Believers into nightingales; into swallows.
Then they take a break from trying.
Conjure new Ovids, request new hosannas.

Certain ranting rebel birds—
They reconfigure into line-following photovores
You find, clung to guardrails
Or reflected on neo-colonial candelabra—
Their muscles pumped with plastic blood
Programmed to put them in auto reverse
Soon as they hit a wall.
Then they make walls, beautiful walls.

Then they take down the lights. Observe.
Those that repeat-fail clearly-laid rules,
They transform them into fire ants
You find, after a storm has warped the steel,
Taken everything.
Their arteries choked with moon-lather
That would put them on burn
Soon as someone touches them.

 

 

Sabyasachi Nag is the author of two books of poetry: Bloodlines (Writers Workshop, 2006) and Could You Please, Please Stop Singing (Mosaic Press, 2015). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming in several publications including, Contemporary Verse 2, Perihelion, The Squaw Valley Review, The Rising Phoenix, Void and the VLQ. Originally from Calcutta, India, Sachi lives in Mississauga, Ontario with his wife and son. He is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference and is currently a candidate in the Writer’s Studio at the Simon Fraser University. He works in education and human resources.

 

“Time Under Water” by Roy Bentley

Hatchlings
“Turtle Territory” by Lori McNamara, oil on archival board, 2011.
(See also “Hatchlings” by William Woolfitt.)

When I swam away from Gloria Regalbuto the catamaran captain
was watching from the stern as I thrashed about with leg cramps
and waved and began my stop-and-start swim back to the boat.
It was summer. He had anchored off the North Shore of Oahu
and now he was smiling, reaching out as I grabbed a ladder.
Maybe I would have done anything to leave behind the aahh
of her loved mouth and a longing so hot it kept singeing me
and searing the air. Onboard again, I flopped awkwardly
in a corner. Leaned against a great deal of brightness.

I heard dolphins voicing, their fins whipping up
wingtip-white vortices as they raced the catamaran.
My time under water had flashed with starburst fishes
stock-still in the currents and reef as if what they were
was backdrop for a mirror of North Shore blue. I heard
someone treading water and scented a brine of ocean.
Planes of island light broke apart and reformed as if
vanishing and now revealing someone who waited
in the trough of a wave by the rocking catamaran.

 

 

Roy Bentley is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the National
Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. Books include Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), Any One Man (Bottom Dog), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), Starlight Taxi (Lynx House); as well as Walking with Eve in the Loved City, a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize selected by Billy Collins and due out from the University of Arkansas Press.

 

“Convalescence” by Billie Tadros

squash curl
“Squash Tendril” by Jenn Rhubright.
(See also “Rose” by Dylan Landis.)

 

You can contract the prosthetic

hold, the bad news:
I’m bandaged down to your donor

tissue. The puncture was about finish

lines. Someday maybe I’ll get there
return to my body wondering why

I run, beautifully
I crashed.

 

 

Billie Tadros is a Lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her M.F.A. in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her first book of poems The Tree We Planted and Buried You In is forthcoming from Otis Books in 2018. She has also published two chapbooks, inter: burial places (Porkbelly Press, 2016) and Containers (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her poems have recently appeared or will appear in Crab Fat Magazine, Entropy, Lavender Review, pnk prl, and White Stag Journal, and she has also published work in the anthologies The Queer South (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), Bearers of Distance (Eastern Point Press, 2013), and Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013).

 

“this is not a love poem” by Gina Marie Bernard

Recovery ( At Rest)
At Rest, image by Karen Bell.
(See also “Recovery” by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish.)

because you return to our bedroom hours after you promised,
because you must steady yourself against the jamb, which means you’ve driven drunk,
because as your silhouette rides up the wall like an island drawn thin by river currents,
i sense the quicksilver pulse of your clenching need,
because your hands grope cold against my bed warmed breasts,
because when i turn away, your lips plant counterfeit baubles against my neck,
and when you ask me why i’m crying, you refuse to let me answer,
and murmur “I would never hurt you,” unaware your tense describes
things imagined but not true.

your breathing deepens and i imagine you’ve slipped into sleep,
but returning from the hypothetical, you roll me onto my back and pin my wrists,
where you imprint semicolons into the paper lantern skin.

beneath you, i too punctuate what must be done: the whites piled in the laundry room,
the dishes unwashed in the sink, hummingbird feeders full of drowned ants.

tomorrow you will awake late, and i will have put on my coffee,
and you may or may not remember tonight, a shadow passing over your face
as dark as the bruises smudging my inner thighs. but i won’t bring it up

because this is not a love poem,

but it is yours all the same.

 

 

Gina Marie Bernard is a trans woman, roller derby vixen, and full-time English teacher. She has completed a 50-mile ultra-marathon, followed Joan Jett across the US, and purposely jumped through a hole cut in lake ice. She lives in Bemidji, Minnesota. Her daughters, Maddie and Parker, own the two halves of her heart. She has written one YA novel, Alpha Summer (2005), and one collection of short fiction, Vent (2013). Her poetry has recently appeared in MortarThe Cape RockNew Plains Review, and Leveler.

 

“Christmas Lights” by Wanda Deglane

Christmas Cactus.Sanctuary
“Sanctuary” by Suzanne Stryk 2007,
see also “Christmas Cactus” by Ann Goldsmith

Let me tell you about the Christmas that ruined
Every one that followed.
Let me tell you about the night I was eight, nearly nine.
I wore a red velvet dress, with white trim,
My hair half-up with a sparkly bow,
Ready to go to my uncle’s to celebrate.
The smell of ham that had been in the oven all afternoon
Called to me from downstairs,
Invited me to come down.
Let me tell you about my mother, and how beautiful she looked.
How she was downstairs already,
Fixing her smooth hair in the mirror.
She was frowning, nearly in tears,
But still lovely.
My brother and I raced to get to her, to the ham,
To the blinking Christmas lights below.
My father then, burst out of the study, a furious storm.
He rained on her with biting words and she trembled
As she reached for the garage door and whisked inside,
Trying to find her shoes.
Let me tell you how he came after her,
And the whole world came screeching to a halt.
How the door fell closed behind him with no one to stop it,
But I could still hear the sound of my beautiful mother screaming,
The crunching of blows, the thundering boom
Of her head, slamming the wall.
Let me tell you how I stood there and did nothing,
On the fifth step from the bottom,
The one that always creaked every day when I rushed downstairs,
Now held me grounded like quicksand. Let me tell you how I always
Used to cry about anything, but this time,
not a squeak came out, not a tear.
I felt nothing, and I did nothing, my legs timber logs
That weighed several tons. I did nothing. I did nothing.
The seconds crawled, as my mother came out weeping.
She charged up the stairs,
Scooping my brother and me in her arms,
And barricaded us in her room with her. Let me tell you how
She sobbed for hours after, whispering us comforts
Let me tell you how I clutched the hand-held phone in my shaking hands,
Staring at the digits that lit up back at me, and willed my brain to work,
For my fingers to follow and dial someone, anyone.
How my mother wrenched it out of my hand and cried,
“It’s okay, hija, it’s okay.”
Let me tell you how my father murmured apologies through the door,
And when she opened it, something inside of me boiled
That still burns and left scars. Let me tell you how she forgave him,
And we went to that damned party at my uncle’s, how
She screamed at me to smile
When my eyes looked a little too far away,
How we never spoke of it again, and the cheerful pictures
From the party only proved nothing had ever happened.
Let me tell you because I was made to never speak of it,
Because at nine and ten I wondered if I had somehow dreamt it all up,
If my mind had played some nasty trick on me, and at eighteen
The sight of Christmas lights still brings me back to those stairs.
Let me tell you because it’s the only thing I still remember.

 

 

Wanda Deglane is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and lives with her huge family in Glendale, Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she paints and spends time with her dog, Princess Leia.

 

“Teenager’s Cache” by Meaghan Quinn


“Blue Waterfall” by Jane Cornish Smith, encaustic, oil, paper on wood, 2014.

High school, I gave you my body
and you never gave it back.

For months I baked by the pool slathered in oil sheath,
I lived off Snapple and Mentos just to slip into my prom dress.

Everything was easy.
Nothing was ever enough.

Even before the pain   I ached from a nostalgia
so fierce and human that I still long for things long gone:

Where are all of the Magic 8-Balls?
Where are my training bras?
Where is the gym teacher
the one who had me tip over
and touch my toes
during a scoliosis test?

Who has hidden all of the chalk?
Where have all of the matches gone?
Where are library cards,
yellowing at the bottom of lockers?

I wear my slanted posture proud
now I curve over myself, flipping through a glossary of memory.

I catch questions like a cold fever in June
one of my parts eternally sitting in a blowup pool
I pretend I’m a mermaid   languid   tapping against the glass.

 

 

Meaghan Quinn is an Assistant Poetry Editor for The Tishman Review. She holds an MFA from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College. She was nominated for Best New Poets 2015, a 2015 Pushcart Prize, and was a recipient of the Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize. Her poems are forthcoming or have been published in A Portrait in Blues: An Anthology, Off the Coast, Heartwood, 2River, Adrienne, Triggerfish, Free State Review, and other journals.

 

“Sonnet 0: My PTSD Clings to the Center of My Christmas” by Ron Riekki


“Abstracted Portrait” by Jane Cornish Smith, encaustic on canvas, 2014.

like homeless children in homes, tachycardic
from the insecurity of walls, the way the devil
digs into your pulse, proves that escape is not
history, that the heat of the hole of your head
supplies you with a constant need for intrusions,
the wish the helicopter on fire in your youth
could be drowned in rain, the melted flesh inside
melting away with your patriotism, your black-
and-white photographs of death vermonted
to the high-five days of transcendence when God
existed as heavy as hate and now after the waiting
room is gone, after the counselor’s shoes are in
the past, you almost see a dark bird of peace
approaching the holiday’s police siren lights

 

 

Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book from the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/Grand Prize shortlist, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).

 

“Pigeons” by Laura Madeline Wiseman


“Weighty Mantle” by Jane Cornish Smith, encaustic, oil, ink, glue, paper, 2014.

Birds still turn through bridge stays, streetways, city parks. Their
wings glitter iridescent,  eyes flash red,  heads nod with footfalls.
Did  anyone  know  what  was  coming?  Other  warriors  bound
messages to bird legs, sent  these messengers aloft  with code,
but  the  notes  arrived  late.  Buildings hit.  Bricks burned yellow
through the night.  Buried  in  the wreckage of  another bombing,
bodies crushed or lived on.

~

Some eat them. Others shoot them in sport. Some governments
rear  young falcons  to  dine  on those who infest cities.  I’ve read
about them,
you said while standing inside the sill on the top floor
of a hotel.  Outside  the  thick glass,  one feasted  on  what she’d
splayed,  something  bloodied,  feather  tangled,  talon  shredded,
young. Beyond the dreamhole,  her meal,  bodies of skyscrapers,
somewhere  the  field still swayed  with wind.  Another for my life
list,
you said because  counting birds mattered then (eagle, stork,
pigeon, dove).  Could this fold be the welcome?  Could you count
again what’s good?

~

Drawn one knee up.  Support  hip (blanket, block, towel).  Rotate
femur. Un-sickle the ankle.  Stretch  piriformis, then sciatic nerve.
Un-clinch jaw. Fold forward. Stack fists or wrists. Place forehead
there, or if it’s in today’s practice, the floor.  Breathe. Push up into
variation  ( prayer twist,  bow leg,  shoulder opener ).  Return to a
full expression.  The matter  isn’t  more effort,  but  to  effort  less.
Memories, emotions, old wounds arrive. In the class some sniffle
against what burns or aches. Some keep silence. You remember
the story,  what you tell yourself about what you did,  the meaning
you ascribe.  But  rather than being caught,  you  follow sensation
inward, first to the body, then to the breath.  Press forehead to the
mat. Let the weight of the spine ease. Come out slowly.  Push up.
Shake hips free. Then, find the pose on the second side to create
balance.  Remember the cues, alignment prompts.  Energy flows
where  awareness goes. 
Release  the notes  of warning.  There’s
awareness of  the story now—finally.  Wings outstretched,  you’re
here among kings opening to the stillness.

 

 

Laura Madeline Wiseman teaches writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is the editor of two anthologies, Bared and Women Write Resistance, selected for the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Book List. She is the recipient of 2015 Honor Book Nebraska Book Award, Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, and an Academy of American Poets Award. Her book Drink won the 2016 Independent Publisher Bronze Book Award for poetry. Her latest book is Velocipede (Stephen F. Austin State University Press), a 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist for Sports.