Runaway by Robin Wright

The girl, blonde hair touching her
bare shoulders like a whisper,

looks in the mirror. How long
since she watched her mother paint

lipstick over swollen lips
plaster powder on bruised skin?

She glances past her image
at the naked, balding man,

lying on sheets crumpled,
stained. She lights a Lucky

Strike as he jerks on pants, leaves
her slumped on the edge

of the bed, damp with sweat,
dirty with memories,

dissolving under the sign,
Value Motel.

How to Remove Unwanted Growths by Todd Follett

Find a new razor, pull
off the plastic that secrets
the blade from soft
bodies. Dig it in
around the afflicted
area; stifle the air raid
siren brewing beneath
your tongue so he
does not hear,
half-dozing in his chair
while watching the news.
When you’ve cut it
all, clutch it
with your fingers. Jerk
the rot out, dig
inside the wound to kill
the corrupted roots.
Feel faint as you pour
rubbing alcohol onto
a shaky napkin and wince
as it marries your stain. Call
to your father when
you can’t stop the bleeding
so he can call you
dumbass as he rushes
to help. Go to sleep
and remember your brother
saying Do what I say
and there’ll be
no more warts.

Mouse Man by Taylor Card

when you touch, touch
i don’t blush much
you dance, dance,
from the kiss-mouthes
to my teased sins
from the hiss-mouse
to my cheese bins
and wow, sister, this dear mister
knows too much
and wow, sister, cats hiss-whisper
for the timid mouse

what feeds on cheese
what will you please

bow sister, thanks mister,
hows and such
bow-wow, hisser, what a pisser
mouse and hutch

when you touch, touch
i don’t blush much
i don’t kiss mouthes
i don’t tease sin
i don’t want none
i’m no timid mouse
i got my cheese bins
when you dance, dance
i won’t bow, mister
leave off my sister
stop tryna kiss ‘er

i’m no tease
back off, please

Fields of red by Sabrina DeGroot

most of the time
you would just expect
city lights
polluting the peace
with its constant artificial glow

but instead
the only light
that exposes the world around it
besides the faint headlights
that shine in the distance

are the blinking red
synchronized and eerie
reminding the world
that something is still there
that every space is occupied
whether we can perceive it or not

Undisclosed desires by Grant Hill

The day after I died I met the handsome man
We traveled through air and time
Answering questions
All dead men ask.
He was a bit taller than I was with glowing olive skin
I realized we were naked at this point
And I had hoped to transcend jealousy after death

We conversed as two people too similar to be friends.
I dreamed of paella and sushi
He lived in Barcelona and Seoul.
I wrote when I could.
He was published.

The conversation ended
We stood in front of a mirror
Comparing one another
Seeing my own body
But fitter, handsomer.

He lapped up pain with a Chesire grin
Suffering is metting the person you should’ve become

READ THIS POEM OUTLOUD TO YOURSELF by Taylor Card

Read
this poem out loud to yourself
when it’s quiet and soft touches to your hair and heart
don’t soothe well enough.
Take a deep breath in and tongue your front teeth wet
so that they don’t catch your lips at the first purse of
read.
Gentle your hands where they fidget on your thighs
and breathe out long until the pressure on your lungs
catches like your ribs are caving in
and your stomach clenches and presses out
against the waistband of your jeans
and digs in.
Then taste the first word:
read;
savor it,
how your lips know to move out as if to kiss
and your tongue follows in a quick jerk
forward, then up as
the tap of your tongue
tickles the roof of your mouth
for the duh
in
read.
You don’t need to think about it,
but if you touch your fingers to your lips
in a barely there brush of flesh on flesh
and say:
read
this poem out loud to yourself
you will kiss your fingertips at least five times
and feel a little less lonely.

Cards in Canada by Holly Zuiderveen

They square up the table,
Each man a wall
Guarding his castle: the kings, queens,
Jacks of all suits.
A house of cards
At his command.

They make alliances.
They have played euchre and fished together twenty years;
There are no secrets but the five cards in their hands
And secrets do not matter.
There is always a winner –
I suppose there is a loser, too,
But the next man deals and maybe the loser wins this time.

What would those feudal kingdoms
Stained with their own blood
Think of these four common men playacting at war?

One of them,
A farmer with cedar-post hands,
Rubs the left corners of his cards.
His partner,
Who burned off his fingerprints in the shop,
Taps his cards on the cracked tabletop.
Their arms are brown and warm;
Their beers are cold.
These moments mean something.

& 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

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