Current Poetry

“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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“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.

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[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

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“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.  

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“your dog slept on the floor of your” by Alex Chernow

Painting by Anna Rac

your dog slept on the floor of your closet every day after you left.  your family tried to coax him into the yard, entice him with long walks, hold palmsful of deli meat at the bottom of the stairs, but, when left unattended, he’d retreat back to the closet to curl himself into a bed of clothes that still smelled like you

1. piles of unwashed clothes

and your mother, who doesn’t know how to move her body anymore because this is not something mothers are supposed to do      your mother, who hasn’t eaten anything off the plates of casseroles we’ve brought to her side table in endless parade          your mother, who is on her knees again and we don’t know if she’s praying or if she’s too weak to stand

2. so many science fiction novels with spines splayed open and dog-eared corners

which I know you loved but we never talked about them      and I know you used to write but none of us have figured out the password to your laptop, not your team or your dog’s name or your sister’s

3. your elementary school yearbook

and we can’t stop flipping through it saying what a beautiful child you were     and your third grade teacher came and told us how once you got in trouble when you and another boy showed each other your penises in class     and said “maybe I shouldn’t have told you that”     and she cried and kept saying “this is wrong this is so wrong”

4. bottles of lithium, with no pills missing

you’d said in the midst of all the appointments and scans that someday you would donate your brain to science and now it’s at johns hopkins, and everyone said to your parents that of course you found a way to to help others, even now, so like you, and it doesn’t make your parents feel any better

5. a syringe, which no one knew you had or used till    after

6. birthday cards from your grandmother you never threw away

all your family came, your grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and all your friends, friends you hadn’t seen in years, and your parents’ friends and your brother and your sister and all their friends and the guys you worked with at the bar and your ex-girlfriend who couldn’t stop crying and the kids you coached for the last five years missed football practice to sit around the living room in black and tell your mother no when she said it’s all her fault and on the night of the funeral so many people came they couldn’t fit through the doors and we could tell it made your dad proud, in a weird way, and your parents said it was the party they get to throw for you since they’ll never get to throw a wedding

7. every album by the band your best friend started

and you used to drive an hour and a half to see his shows, every one,    and he wrote a song for you the night it happened and your family listens to it every day

and your brother takes care of your dog now and mixes his food with the bone broth you had made and left in the freezer in hopes that he will eat but even or especially your dog knows this is wrong this is so wrong

     

Alex Chernow is a poet, nurse, and birth doula currently residing in Baltimore, MD. She holds degrees from NYU and Johns Hopkins University, and was the winner of Boulevard magazine’s 2014 Contest for Emerging Poets. Her poetry chapbook It wouldn’t be called longing if you only did it for a little while is forthcoming from dancing girl press.

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