Current Poetry

“Suture Lines” by Sarena Tien


“Warsaw, 1939” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas.

This is when the world ends—
not with fire, not with ice,

but with dirt and water
earth tossed back to earth

without a bang or whimper
only tears cleaving the sky

and the rain slip
sliding down our shoulders,

skeletons who never got to say goodbye
left unburied and behind.

This is when the world begins—
not with a supernova, not with a star

but with a smile
stretched and stitched

down the table, forks clinking
above a sketchbook story

that strung us back together
puzzle pieces pilfered from the past,

photographs of the future and
laughter full of love and loss.

 

 

Sarena Tien is a queer Chinese-American feminist and Francophile. Her work has appeared in online publications such as Transitions Abroad, The Feminist Wire, Bustle, On She Goes, and Argot. When she’s not trying to become a polyglot, she can often be found fighting for social justice or folding far too many origami stars.

 

“Eight Days in Mercy” by Cynthia Morgan Nichols


“Favela” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas.

The strip-search nurse counts
my bruises, asks how I got them—
elbow, knee, hip—
I don’t know
I tell her, hands covering my breasts,
legs backsliding as she guides me
to the holding place
where others slump, oxy-blue
in skid-resistant socks; while
a world flutters mercurial, we are
brought back to order,
forced to stay
with dread-locked cravings
pacing a black tar fog
down hallways,
spilling wide-arched
into each other as feeling starts
to come back.

On the East ward I carry myself
with Prozac poise: ask for lip balm, participate
in group (they tell me
my Birkenstocks are smart shoes
for this place). My roommate surrenders
on her knees every morning, every night
against a hard board bed. I love
this place, I think, stripped and walking
patterned paces doubling back
suddenly popular
despite no phone calls, no visitors
saying my name.

Nights we count off
to the guard; a fast file out
into a frozen yard cut
by 12-foot razor wire; humming,
drumming, looping, we circle
newcomers; standing in twos and threes,
we assume vacant spaces; beneath
a void moon, we light
our cigarettes, one off the other, brightening
then dimming; a brief
constellation.

 

 

Cynthia Morgan Nichols lives in midtown Memphis and works at the University of Memphis Libraries. She enjoys painting, yoga and walking through her historic neighborhood.

 

“In Which Sasquatch Moves to the Desert” by Rachel Maggio


“The Overseer” by Jean Banas, Acrylic on canvas, 38″ x 47″.

i. they say the Sasquatch has never been killed
because the face is too human
that hunters looking into the eyes become struck with the fact
that they too are monster;
that Sasquatch have an affinity for chewing tobacco and bottled water
sneaking it from the packs of hikers, careful
so as not to wake the children

ii. the sightings of donovan are rare
perhaps on thanksgiving or christmas
but when he is present the room is alight
the air hangs in earthquake weather
this time the medication is working
this time dono drives a bus
this time he drives us all in the bus to see the christmas lights
this time i bury my head in my mother’s shoulder the whole time
too afraid to look up
this time the air is alive and elektrik

iii. Sasquatch speak their own language
a cohesive language they all understand of grunts and moans
and guttural calls, even the young ones
(they live in close family groups)
speak this language, based on the cries of the young
so the species adapts to speak to babies,
understood from birth that the innocence we all carry
may in fact be our saving grace
not the other way around and the Sasquatch
presumably have their own bedtime stories told in these grunts and moans
and the young presumably grunt and moan
for them to be told again

iv.they move to the desert
my grandma tells me the desert, has more extreme highs
and lows and maybe the sunshine and nature is what
the two of them need
and we go to the desert to see them
past the plaster dinosaurs and donovan rocks a new baby in his arms
to sleep before he disappears

v. the great Sasquatch of the pacific northwest
can communicate with the conscience
and maybe that is why it has never been killed
the great Sasquatch of the pacific northwest often attempt to bring home
the hikers kind enough to bring them chewing tobacco and bottled water
not realizing this is not appreciated
seeing into the greater conscience(but never to the surface)beyond the fear and thinking
instead about the need to escape to nature, but these hikers
cannot see into the greater Sasquatch conscience only to the surface of their own, and therefore
are limited to their fear

vi. when they find donovan’s body
hanging in the garage
my brother deciphers the news through my sobs
and asks me if i remembered to take my medication
wondering if i too will run away into the woods 

vii. offering Sasquatch food ensures your survival
while crying seems to aggravate the creatures
who will punch in your jaw and run at the sight of tears
but apparently no one has told this news to my grandmother
and aunt because there is no food at the funeral but there is
plenty of tears and
in the true Sasquatch spirit,
punching to follow suit

viii. donovan rode his skateboard down pch
to watch monsterquest with me and my brother
and his guttural laugh at the skeptics shown
makes us only more sure of ourselves
Sasquatch live among us
he leaves before the episode is over
and before Sasquatch are found

ix. the Sasquatch’s humanoid face
may in fact be proof that they are real
our cousins in fact
early wanderers who once
fed up with this world’s treatment
fled into the woods,
and spoke a new language of guttural groans
and chewing tobacco
and never came back

 

Rachel Maggio is a freelance writer and student in the English program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

 

“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.