& then mother mashes the turnip by Kate O’Donoghue

I have seen Death
sigh out of your body,
mouth gaping as if eager to accept
a proffered spoon, branched

from the thistles in your fields.
it’s more likely, nana, that you were
asking if anyone else wanted
a nice strong cup of tea.

if you had preferred loose leaves,
perhaps we would have seen this coming.

I have your hands, red knuckles
rough, rubbed against pockets
& palms; your fidgets,
an aversion

to stillness; your quiet, shifting
summer air stained red
by perpetual late night
sun. worst of all,

I have your worry, clawing
at eroding gravestones
& shorn nail files, staked
in soft green ground, returned

to the earth, wounds
reciprocated. vulture-like, your knuckles
are mine, hinging around wrists
& cups of lukewarm tea.

Death has always been
touching you. maybe it was He
who hissed those neighborly stories
you mumbled from your stone

gray chair. maybe it was Me
wanting to be that woman down the lane,
projecting a future where I meet you in
the shop, clutching turnips in my jaw & whispering

take my hands
i have so many maura & you
you have so few.

 

Originally Published in the March 2016 Issue

A Steep Trade by Grant Hill

Neon in my hair
Ache in my gut
Smelling boxed wine
McGriddle in my hand
Loving every minute

Red eyes and full stomachs
Avoid school one ounce at a time
Nights not remembered for years tomorrow

We all saw what happened
Skin turned to paste
Blood into paint
Spread along a mile of asphalt
One of us; fertilizing the median

Red eyes and tear streaked cheeks
Avoid the past one day at a time
Living for today ensured no tomorrow

Originally Published in the March 2016 Issue

A Preemptive Obituary by Lisa Folkmire

When I go to science museums with my sister
She likes to tell me how we will die.
She points to the enlarged heart and says
“That’s it. That’s how we’ll go.”

The words tangle between names of family members
And medical tests and medicine bottles
For heart disease and blood pressure
And anger issues and too much salt.

I stare down at the too-large-heart and place my hand over my own
Remembering the time Mom asked why I cared so much
As I cradled mine, beating, bandaged,
Passed its sides between palms as they seeped past tape.

I’m back to drawing my own breath into the too-large-heart
A fog now on display glass, holding the picture of my sister and me
Together with eyes set on our future folly
Of kindness and too high cholesterol.

The two daughters who worked for hours
Hand drawing greeting cards
Cooking dinners on over-worked days
Giving cookies to the neighbors on rained out nights

She continues to compare ratios
And the size of the veins
Saying “three times the size”
And “we could try a stent”

It’s sweet, almost, how she knows that we’ll go the same way
Two same-sized-hearts held between
With strings in knots and veins at sight,
I can read it now: Here lie two girls of too-big-hearts.

One thinking of chapter seven in her sophomore year anatomy class
The other counting the beats against her neck
Begging her heart to stay small forever.

Previously appeared in VerseWrights
Published in the March 2016 Issue

Third Eye Poem by Jackie Velez

With my third eye open I can see
the wings that burst from my mother’s shoulders
taller than she and so long they kiss the ground
made of a thousand five-for-25-cents bags of seeds
and when she walks they tear and spill
and all the earth blooms behind her.

With my third eye open I can see
the tangle of steel wool my father wrapped
around his heart as do-it-yourself armor
without realizing it rubs him raw, too.
That’s why when he hugs you
it always tastes like rust.

With my third eye open I can see
the bullet shells that drip from my sister’s fingertips
when she comes home to five sleeping children
with bedposts smeared black with her husband’s rifle oil.
So she scrubs and scrubs and scrubs all night
until the sun rises and her first shift begins again.

With my third eye open I can see
opalescent scales just beneath my skin.
They are waiting for the day that I will dive
into the tides and fins will burst from my body
and saltwater will seep into my open mouth
to be exhaled through gills on my hips.

With my third eye open I can see.

Origionally Published in the March 2016 Issue.

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