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"Leaving Town" by Nicholas Abanavas

The March winter
thaw, laying to the land
its frozen harvest.
The soft biting numbness
creeping up a sleepy leg,
not nearly a lifeless meaning
supporting the temperate statement.

I leave
winding river banks
spawned by a distant source
biding her time
till Spring tooth crudely
discloses the untamed fury
to those who venture close.

I leave
the world not yet anew
or set ablaze
for the one-time celebration.

Nicholas Abanavas received his M. Ed. in Teaching At-Risk Students in 2008. He recently
retired from a career in public education. He has written two books: Scissors, Cardboard &
Paint-The Art of At-Risk Teaching and Lemnos-An Artist and His Island. He was born and raised
in New York City and is an avid fan of jazz music. His work has recently appeared in The Basil
O'Flaherty and Lime Hawk magazines. His poems have appeared as Poet of the Week on
the Poetry Super Highway.

Two Poems by Jerrod E. Bohn

Untitled

Based my decisions on whiteness, margins
how much room I had to maneuver
words’ linearity & of course always a blue dress
my wife desired, though I found it curious
brown & gold in certain light. Shifts

without my knowledge sometimes how in zombie films
plundering terms survival. Warm flesh

I kept a mistress who called me ‘sir’
your pleasure’s mine, sir she spoke perfect grammar
but her phone rang ‘who dere’—did I mention

the bicycle, pink pompoms hanging off the handlebars
my daughter liked it, riding down our street
where there’s space to edit

appearances of dwelling. The Corporation buys
new books for a school she doesn’t know

has architecture, but if you think
a wall emerges. I oversaw our name
stamped inside the plastic jackets.

Untitled

The Corporation issued procedures for following
procedures. Like most other employees I lacked
training in deciphering
particulars, the protocol I mean

so Xed off blankly. They had interpreters
translating jargon into a literature—I purchased my golf cart

not asking. Some words may have appeared
disturbing, but in happy hour contexts

casual or ordered into nothingness
scotch rimming the glass. Employee #2916
& I knew just enough argot to order

without negotiating please the shreddings
thank you are you still

listening? If a man does not have a name
he exists only as paper, can be
rewritten at will & since only when read

does he actually speak
free of distortion, at any time whited out.
Jerrod E. Bohn finished his MFA in poetry at Colorado State University. His work has appeared
or is soon forthcoming in Phoebe, The Montreal Review, alice blue, FRiGG, Cleaver, SPECS,
Word For/Word, Smoking Glue Gun, Watershed Review and elsewhere. A full-length poetry
book, Animal Histories, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. He currently lives in Fort Collins
where he teaches yoga and community college writing courses and enjoys cooking and getting
outdoors.

Two Poems by Michael H. Brownstein

Silence

Genghis Khan was not buried here
the sand deep and colorful,
an archive of water, jade, helmet and bone.
The last man standing did not follow orders.
When he finished his job of murder
and no witnesses to the burial remained,
he did not kill himself as promised
but quietly walked away to a quiet valley
where he mated with a quiet woman
and had six well behaved children.

The Island in the City

a slant of cloud water whitewashed in blue,
one tuliped bridge,
the porcupined evergreens on the river bluff:

water falters at the stones,
a hum of wind chimes into a glitter of leaves,
mulberries fall ripe and black:

in the sky
a line of god,
white haired and blue gray,

her signature feathers and dust.
white water:
everywhere a monarch butterfly.
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His
work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse,
Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The
Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks
including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation
Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I
Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon
Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press,
2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of
Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Two Poems by Bitzy Coats

To the Man in the Yellow Sweater

whoever you are

-- I imagine--

in amethyst shades

of woven pattern,

pretending to be

the sun,

whose canary call

charmed spasms

from death:

you are a wish

worth praying.

How I flew

down flights
of stairs to

hear of your

existence; I

sang a chorus

to a face I’ll

never know

but often dream.

The memory,

much like the

face my

dreams wake

me from, hazes.

If I squint

just so

I can make

out the

sun-kissed

silhouette

returning my

dead body.

Yellow man

--floating yellow--
I'd climb

Jacob's ladder

to know the

features of

your face.

Find me

once more

on the cliffs,

in the stairwell,

convulsing

toward what's

already dead.

Find me,

whoever you are.

We Met Lips Years Ago

You came
when I was longing for you,
and to my heart suffering in passion's fire
you were
delicious ice.
--Sappho

and we danced fingers
into a mist dawn frenzy
cool as it was April
we steamed the shoreline
at first touch's taste
we shook with fear and
intensity as the frames
we see through clanked
thunder at our obedience
--at our disobedience

and we owed our allegiance
to no one and yet aligned
ourselves like shadows
stitched to the skin
of each other

my rainboots chattered rocks
your derby lost to the wind
we made world to span
the distance between
our aching limbs

you were a wave collapsing
and I succumb full breath

Bitzy Coats is an artist living in Racine, Wisconsin. She works for the local Arts Council and
runs their gallery. After motherly responsibilities and wife support, she sometimes finds the time
to write.

Four Poems by Gareth Culshaw

A Welded Joint

I slipped on the sunlight
my arm creaked like boat decking,
cold tiles shivered my childhood.

Straight away he picked me up
driving me to hospital.
Our hands knitted together on that journey.

Though I don't remember the plaster
he helped mend the joint.
With his adjustable hands, he
welded my tears, rubbed life
into my skin. Later on father watched
nearby, out of touch and out of joint.

Fading Daffodil

I saw the yawn of yellow
back into the green.
The forgotten season that sat deep
is sucking her back down.

Her yellow features are turning,
sighing into themselves.
She has accepted defeat, slides
back to, limps to her death.

I needed her to shine forever,
give me light for many years to come.
But she has allowed the sullen to take
her, her yawning yellow, lost to the soil.

Barn Owl

She is just snow collected
in a vase. Angel sitting
on a branch.

Her satellite head moves like
an opened parachute being
pulled by a running man.

Her feathers glisten in
constellation ecstasy.
Twinkling the star lights.

But then there's a take
off. Her talons titter
then wake like a thief's

hand in a shop. Her feet grape
crush when landing on the sack
of fur. Squeezing her whole
life weight, before the tail
stiffens in the grass.

The Alleyway Of Two Gates

When his wife went into a home
I came to see him as much as I could.
Two gates sat opposite in the alleyway,
one led to him, the other led to sorrow.

Using the one gate became an everyday thing.
Page turning it for shopping trips, hanging washing
taking his weekly rubbish to the bin.

He missed using the gate opposite,
it started weeping hinges, squeaking joints.
Showed the afterlife of retirement.

I did my best to help open it, give him the life
he missed, resuscitate his working hands. His
eyes opened when we went through.

But when we came back, the lonely butter knife,
rumbling washer, fairy bubbles in the sink, days
old bread, stacked up clothes,
showed the split in the alleyway that was his heart.

Gareth lives in Wales. He is an aspiring writer who hopes one day to achieve something special
with the pen.

Two Poems by Jim Feeney

Living Off the Grid

The sun with rare generosity
beats down on the solar panels
on the roof of Vincent’s log cabin.

The first sentence of his organic novel
-The abattoir, for once, was silent -
sits alone on his laptop screen.

This is the seed from which will spring
plot, character, content.
He gets up, walks out through the kitchen door

through the tortured arch of his driftwood arbor
and into the vegetable garden
where he urinates in a jagged arc

sprinkling life-giving nutrients
on the unsuspecting butter lettuce.
Returning to his desk

he taps out another sentence:
With his mother’s mop, he wipes
the blood from the kitchen floor.

Why so morbid?
It’s warm, he’s feeling drowsy,
he detects a faint signal from a long-dormant source

like the distant ping from a submarine
at the bottom of the ocean.
He should invite someone for dinner,

the lady who sells jam at the Saturday market, perhaps,
or the angry sculptress - she of the tangled hair,
the scrap metal raptors, the acetylene scent.

The jam lady it is.
Bottle of wine from the retired lawyer’s vineyard
salmon from the gnarled fishermen down at the dock,

try a little humor,
ask her if raspberry jam is a male preserve,
make a nice salad. What’s the worst that could happen?

Railspur Alley Park.
a humid
lion house
hogo hangs
on the air

dogs and trees
dogs and trees
free jazz, jazz
for free, the

bass player
leans like a
drunk around
a lamp post.

Jim was born in Dublin and has lived in Vancouver since 1979. His wife and two daughters
complain if they are not mentioned in bio’s, so he would like to thank all three of them for their
support.

He has published previously in Cyphers (Ireland), The sHop (Ireland), In-Flight Literary
Magazine, Oddball Magazine, the Galway Review, Anti Heroin Chic and others.

He also writes lyrics for The Mitchell Feeney Project (album “Crossing Lines” available on
iTunes and cdbaby)

He blogs at https://stopdraggingthepanda.com.

"Lost" by John Grey

After the game, no one has anything to say.
The locker room's the usual shambles
as players strip out of their uniforms,
slowly dig into their lockers for
the comforts of civilian life.
But silence grips these men
tighter than sweat.

Some start feeling their age.
It's a young man's game.
The muscles don't bounce back
like they used to.
Some have forgotten how to
bounce at all.
Time to move on to the
next stage of life.
But what is that exactly?

The coach storms into the room.
He's the one with the cuts, the bruises,
on the inside to go with
his players' array of battle scars.
His face blows up like a red puffer fish
but his tongue's as stiff as a pipe wrench.

In this great melting pot
of anger, disappointment and frustration,
only resignation can make itself known.
And then purely for medicinal purposes.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review,
Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia
College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Four Poems by Peter Kenny

Overthrow of the angels

Explosions in London Road.
Backfire? Gunshots?
The pigeon flock bursts up.
Angels, like stowaways
frozen in wheel wells,
tumble from the turbulent sky.

They shatter on bus shelters
string their perfect guts
from streetlights, from trees,
thwack into black tarmac,
hollow bones spoking
like broken umbrellas.

Iridescence dulling,
their corporeal chunks puddle
in pools of azure and gold
slooched by tyres of traffic,
sluiced into the storm drains
of the resilient city.

Neighbours

Upstairs, zombies leave the hall light burning.
They don't give a stuff for communal bills
or me, the bloke downstairs, who they lumber.
But despite their pumping music, the scuff
and shuffle of their boot-busting dances,
I almost enjoy their sheer vigor mortis
as I fritter my time, feeding the meter,
frying eggs, fumbling with my duff plumbing.

In Snoopyland

Charlie Brown yard;
picket-fences
and one Old Glory.

In the porch door
I exhale clouds,
sip your coffee:

pilot Snoopy,
returned, jetlagged,
from his sortie.

Snow simplifies:
enfolds fences,
gloves the thin trees,

keeps us indoors;
keeps us contained.
I should have known

everything was
blank behind me
I should have known

I was standing
in the smudged frame
of yesterday’s page.
O Rose

I smeared you, stretched you on my screen.
I fingered your profile photos,
expanding sections of your skin,
till now I worm through storms for you.
I hack your passwords and your PINs
and howl for you inside the cloud.
I haunt and hate and say your name,
and squirm inside your crimson bed,
invade your sick, unsleeping head.

Peter Kenny’s poetry includes The Nightwork (Telltale Press 2014), and The Boy Who Fell
Upwards (2010 supported by the Guernsey Arts Commission). UK publications in Acumen, And
Other Poems, The Frogmore Papers, Other Poetry, Poetry London, Ink Sweat & Tears, Island
Review, Under the Radar and more. He also writes dark, postmodern comedies. His play A Glass
of Nothing will run at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton in December, following a sell out run
during The Brighton Festival. A Glass of Nothing will be taken to Edinburgh in 2017. He lives in
Brighton, UK and blogs at peterkenny.co.uk.

Two Poems by Sofia Kioroglou

Where do I belong?

The future coming closer and closer
The already gone, swivelling repetitions
a dystopian reality, my mind falling from itself
into nowhere, into a black hole, into abyss

Hope, a sempiternal illusion
hot metal melting into nothingness
veritable census of the dead
where do I belong?

Existence slipping between parallel universes
a hundred shades of gray and snowflake obsidian
my desire for place always denied
between now and forever, I rappel down into oblivion
When dreams fade away
- Previously published in Forgotten Meadows as part of a poetic collaboration

In the deep sediment of my mind
some long-dormant fragment of memory
has been inadvertently twitched

When dreams fade away
and night segues into day
I try to grasp it but it slips away
It lingers in the mind, unbidden
between and betwixt, drawing my attention
a thin tape whirring in my mind’s recorder

Sofia Kioroglou is a poet, a wife, a missionary, a pilgrim, and a perennial traveler to the Holy
Land and Egypt. She likes to take her readers on an exhilarating tour of Jerusalem’s treasures
through her poetry and to write articles on the delectable local fare in Jericho, near the Mount of
Temptation, and her visits to Cana, where hundreds of couples renew their wedding vows. To
learn more about her, visit her blog at sofiakioroglou.wordpress.com.

Two Poems by Steve Klepetar

Another Tale of Power Drowned

This is all we know: we are here now,
with wind biting our faces and our dry skin.
Last night I dreamed I woke at the bottom
of the sea, a creature of coral and gills.
I had grown large as a coastline, monster
from a 1950’s horror film. How good it felt
to shake the earth with every step, my blue
hair dripping floods onto sand. How wonderful
to send armies scurrying, to hear the masses
scream, to feel streets tear open and arrogant
buildings buckle and fall. But after a while
I couldn’t think of anything to do beyond
the usual wrecking of the town, leaving cars
crushed and sirens howling amidst fires
and skeletons of trees. The silence was like
sobbing, and I, penitent and bored, wished
I had it to do again, but gently, with a good
plan. And you were there, leading me home,
stroking my hands and my hair until I slept
again. Then it was years from now, the cities
all turned to dust. Every mirror lay broken
in jagged shards, and I saw nothing of myself
in those fragments of glass. Where would I
find a woman wise enough to shoe me how
to change? My power was gone, my vast body
spirited away in the night, lost in perpetual fog.

A Language of Texture and Weight

What must the rocks feel in their beds of earth?
They are without skin or nerves
but they speak in a language of texture and weight.
They move more slowly than the tortoise or the ant.
They offer themselves to rivers and rain
who smooth them with many caresses.
In springtime, some emerge from snow
gray as elephants,
while others stay hidden among roots of trees.
You can rub them with your fingertips, but
you can never refute them with your toe.
Their wisdom is ancient, beyond the reckoning
of insects and frogs. Only the stars are older,
and before the stars, those terrible clouds of gas,
vast and hot, cooling and congealing in the emptiness.

Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine,
Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, Phenomenal Literature, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices
Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net
and the Pushcart Prize (including four in 2016). Recent collections include My Son Writes a
Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. Two new
collections appeared in January 2017: A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and Family
Reunion (Big Table Publishing).

Two Poems by Scott Laudati

Night Before Thanksgiving

i can’t help thinking about it now.
i know you’re back
in our hometown tonight.
at the irish bar or your parents backyard.
surrounded
by ex boyfriends
and some that never got so lucky.
please don’t dance with them.
don’t say you’ll be right back
and wait on the bathroom line
while they try and figure out an angle.
and since you never liked clever men
the drinks come free with your smile.
you can play the ingenue for
a few rounds
but they know what it means.
no one changes that much
and you always paid back chivalry.
do you still see music?
i hear those songs
sometimes
on all night drives
and i press the pedal until the checkers
in the street become straight lines.
like a sailor following a dove back to galilee.
but there’re no saints where we’re from.
at the end of that road
the music ends
the memories begin
and all i’ve done
is follow some taillights in new jersey

The Heart Of America

i lost another one who didn’t want love
or forever
or some way back to
the heart of america.
she just wanted kids.
white kids
named john and jesse and little sally.
kids that would get her off work
and never make her think
about california
and giraffes
or they way she felt at 16
when her parents stopped loving her
but said the words anyway,
who looked at their little girl
and decided she didn’t have it
so they went to the next one.

she wanted kids who’d adopt a dog
named lady or molly,
and a vet who might say “it’s a 1/4 pit-bull
but the dog will never stop looking like a lab”.
and the house could be new.
and the kids would never have
their own minds.
they would be patriots
and they would never fail like citizens.
their mother could change the truth and never have to explain
that she’d found love once
and it didn’t act
like it was supposed to,
that she didn’t say “hit me”
while age and time were still on her side.
the kids would never want to know
about the heart of america
and that it disappeared just around the time that
they made it cool
to sell love
for money

Scott Laudati lives in Los Angeles. He is the author of Play The Devil (Kuboa Press). Visit him
on instagram @scottlaudati

Three Poems by Carolyn Martin

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
- Previously published in Antiphon, 2014

I better not. You’d boil at the thought.
Might I entice you toward an early spring?
You could explode through thaw like daffodils
or strut with stellar jays around our yard.
Or, how about the star magnolia tree
that beats out cherry, plum, forsythia
each year and risks a frost to be the first?
Something in you, my dear, desires to lead,
can’t bear the thought of standing second best.

But let me clarify: there’s just no way
you are the mower needing sharpening
nor peat that rests behind our garden shed
nor surly rains that shut a gardener in.
You’ve gleaned – withstanding twenty years
of partnering – I am the mower dulled
from summer’s wear. I am the peat that waits
its spread as soon as coastal storms abate.
And, if you wish, I’d even be the shed.
Something in me feels worthy to protect.

But if these images still needle you
and you’d prefer the echo of a smile,
organic food consuming kitchen shelves,
the copper tint you splashed across our walls,
please humor me. Jot down on sticky notes
the things that speak to you of you. Arrange
them like perennials in tidy rows
near my writing pad and coffee cup.
I am an unlined page and cooling brew.

just so you know
- Previously published in Star 82 Review, Fall 2014

this morning in the rain I chased your car
halfway down the street intent on ranting
about pots and baking pans greasing up
the sink and sheets of Fed-Ex bubble wrap
obscuring piles of mail and your grey coat
invading my green chair but I wasn’t
fast enough to catch your rearview glance
so I punched your cell to sear your day
with guilt for how I felt put-upon/
crowded-out/ and all those pent-up things
I never say until they burn and how
I could forgive if you were off to work
to shop to pray not out to lunch with friends
but I struck delete when I recalled
your kiss good-bye and words we vowed to say
(Let us be kind) when love’s reduced to sniping/
blaming/hurt and smallest things conspire
to ruin sunsets on a Maui beach
or walks around our autumned neighborhood
so this is just to let you know I’ve scrubbed
the pans/re-hung your coat/cleared out debris
from my morning’s discontent practicing
Let me be kind again and then again

To the songbirds who spurned my feeder
- Previously published in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, June 2014

I’m confused. I thought when thistle filled
the Copper Triple Tube, we had a deal.
You’d breakfast in tranquility, spread notes
around our cul-de-sac, return
for evening snacks, and sing, of course,
your best for me. But I thought wrong.

You’ve scavenged through my annuals,
electing seeds – prosaic and alive –
in lieu of mixtures trendy and refined;
refused to jump from ground to rim
before the winter storms set in
to shut my garden down.

I’ve cut my loss and hurt, and stashed
the copper with my thistle sacks.
See the note tacked on the vacant pole:
We’re closed. Gone south. Enjoy the seedless snow.

Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, where she gardens, writes, and plays.
Her poems and book reviews have appeared in journals throughout the US and UK, and her
second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released in 2015
(www.thewayawomanknows).

Four Poems by Tim Miller

Unfinished Michelangelo

The impossible bodies of apostles, messiahs and slaves,
statues that couldn’t have stood had he finished them,
faces half buried in membranes of marble
that threaten to swallow and take them back;
bodies climbing without hands or feet or legs
out of the mineral morass in the great struggle for birth:
a nearly headless body, torso only,
drowning in stone and digging itself from the grave,
its maker showing our true form, unfinished and flowing and perpetually Protean,
never an end and only beatific struggle.

Or just the notebook pages of body part sketches
some beautiful killing floor of floating limbs,
practice shoulders or torsos of livid musculature,
legs and poses and twisting masses of flesh,
stomach and waist and a turned back dark with ink and detail
slowly fading above and below into what was uninteresting,
rhythms of movement and skin
overbrimming the brain of this Dante of stone.

Or just an unfinished Christ from late in life,
Mary on some pedestal trying to pull her limp son straight,
their faces still lacerated by the chisel
but gone over and over with love
in some approximation of old Buonarroti’s own age,
broken body of ailments and groans
that still went tearing at this Pieta until the end,
an act of devotion in his lonely exhastion,
the prayer of the undone more profound
than the most polished skin and bone.

It was stonecutter’s wife who nursed him, not his mother,
giving him the hammer and chisel along with her breast
and the love for the quarries far from Florence and Rome,
months of youth wresting marble from the mountains
only to dig a new body free in a blizzard of chips and dust,
ninety years of unavoidable labor in stone,
perhaps with a few friends but never at ease,
perhaps with a gang of help, but ever the One.

Kafka’s Sisters (1945)

With thanks I was tubercular and dead
by early summer nineteen twenty-four,
long in the grave with my intensity

before those three sisters rose to follow,
Ellie and Ottla and Valli dragged through
the cattle-car years down to forty-five.

Ellie and Ottla and Valli I sing,
deported to Poland, deported to Łódź,
or all of them dead in a shower somewhere,

a sister’s love held by the ankles and wrists
and heaved to the belt and the oven upstairs.
Ellie and Ottla and Valli I sing,

Ellie and Ottla and Valli at home,
the old apartment in Prague with our parents,
young once at home, and exasperated

with my nerves and my need for privacy,
now three girls naked and starved and buried in air,
their prophet brother far away in the earth.

The Painted Caves: Chauvet, Lascaux, Altamira

Now we come to paint with light and fire.There is no violence on the walls, no pursuit or danger,
there are no landscapes, only waves of scraped and smoothed stone covered in intended
color,
there are no hunted animals there, only the ones that filled us with reverence, bestiaries of
awe and galleries of envy and appreciation,
bodies of strength and warmth depicted in their mating perfection, in the midst of their
multiplying,
put on the walls with scaffold and ladder, paint tubes of hollowed bone or stem, animal hair
brushes with the color still loaded, smokeless bone-marrow lamps, and bear kneecaps filled
like a bucket with pigment, dye, daubs and splatters of color,
crowds and acoustics in the cave from daylight entrance to dead black depths,
the flicker of fire and shadow giving them movement, these animals who meant more than
food and who were so important we carved and incised and drew and painted and put
them high up,
some early underworld or merely a different heaven in the dark,
the caves always so close to spring and river, so much of spring and pregnancy,
so much flowing and identification.

***

There is cave darkness without torchlight,
cave dim and silence, cave drip and echo,
but also fireblack from the charcoal hearth
dark as any dark from the well-fed flames
whose glow smells of pine
and whose light illuminates the chaos of animals,
or how the ash is gathered for paint or pigment
and mixed to make red or left to blacken bone or flint or wood
to draw and scrawl and incise on the wall,
using the color of nothing to create everything.

***

The rolling, muscular, liquid walls,
rippled and erupting or hollowed,
all covered in bison and bear and reindeer,
in lion and rhino and horse and ibex,
bodies with no earth line as if in flight, rising out of the rock,
blurred legs of ash smudged by a passing hand
or a horse’s head outlined forever as an afterthought
into the soft white wall, with the butt-end of a torch.

***

Now the bear is the one who understands us:
perhaps one who was us, an older form
of human in how it stands on its legs,
some long ancestor who preferred to sleep
for a season over any of our toil,
desiring the direct mystery of life
over our chosen mystery of mind:
no bear painted us, but we painted them,
no bear thought to prop or set up our skulls
on slabs or in niches or on ledges,
but this is what we did for them in deep
veneration of their nerve and endurance,
their long sleep and knowledge of death to our
weaker bodies gifted with the awareness
that for thousands of seasons before we came
and for thousands of seasons following
these caves are theirs to sleep and claw the walls.

***

A bison made by hand, white hands dipped in red
and palms slapped on cold rock again and again,
smacked hands turned or righted or angled
the sound of building, of drumming, of making,
and the exhausted step back to see
the animal made only of red palms and rock,
red like bison’s blood, stone vitality,
the awe of a heartbeat behind the wall,
his hands red as a midwife’s
but for all its shape on stone it’s more in his mind than anywhere.

***

Did the bears who tore at this wall to sharpen their claws,
did the bears who did this know of the bison
whose head would take shape from their scraping,
and do the bison we make in our heads
know how the bears help to make them,
the bear and the bison all bits of each other
and all of them in our minds,
until splashed on the wall with understanding?
Who put the impulse of making in my hands
and who keeps us all under such watch?
Who is it that knows before me
what I and the bear and the bison will do?

***

He beats the stalactite with an old bone
and from it finds an old song
with the flightier sound of a bird bone flute,
and to this I add my lamp and light it:
the ibex scraped on its bottom begins to warm
and the fuel of burning juniper
is the aroma of something other than myself.
And to this light I mix my colors with cave water,
I mix my colors with blood and vegetable oil
and from the sweat of the stones and the heat of my light
an animal appears beneath my hands,
all surrounded by juniper green and unforgettable song.

A Disciple of Pythagoras Wins a Chariot Race (496 BC)

Some oil there in the dirt, some spices
gathered into the shape of a scented ox
and lit into a rising cloud for the gods:
this is better victory than flesh,
better glory for my name and my town
than the meat of someone I may have known,
the body of one I might become.
We all go from form to form, name to name,
a living harmony of ratios
surrounded by both instinct and numbers,
and none of them require sacrifice
beyond the offering of every effort.
There is killing enough in stupidity,
war and its shredded piles of us and them;
this pile of spice and smoke saves a few.

Tim Miller’s most recent book is the long narrative poem, To the House of the Sun (S4N Books).
His other fiction and poetry have appeared widely. He writes about poetry, history and religion
at www.wordandsilence.com

Two Poems by Andy N

Europa II (VIII)

Choked in a rising panic
one of the few survivors
said afterwards
no birds ever flew
over the camps

Never stopped on the roofs
at night

Stopped moaning like lateens
in the distance
across wind fed barriers

Flapping over flags
almost like they knew
what was going on down there
and there was nothing
upon nothing
they could do about it.

Collaborating in memory

Silently scribbled all over
My father’s faded notebook
His presence is felt
Before I even lift it up
Touched with his fingerprints

Stained in fountain ink
Slightly faded over time
And his doctors
Spiral signature
All over the front cover

Feeling out its weight
And the colour
Of the paper
Which I would have dismissed
As too forceful.

The line lengths
Of the pages
Which restrict
The size of my words
To almost miniature.

The emotions
Dusted down across time
Left on the back
Of a shelf
For who knows how long.

Half faded
Across the weight
Of nerves
Crippled across
Decades and decades

Bullied through
Similar fears
Composed in slight sketches

Hospital appointments

Medicine lists

Fastened together
In a imaginary
Steel cage

Collaborating in memory
Over the same story
Just decades earlier

With slightly
Different tablets.

Andy N is a 44-year-old writer from Manchester, UK.

He has published two full length collections, Return to Kemptown (2010)
and The End of Summer (2015), with a third From the Diabetic Ward (2017 /
2018) forthcoming.

His official website is Andy N - Writer and Experimental Musician

"American Carnage" by Daniel Sokoloff

I saw it in a Dunkin’ Donuts,
the kind you can find anywhere
in America.
It was on a TV you can buy
anyplace that sells electronics,
and I was eating a
terrible turkey sandwich,
the kind you can only get
at Dunkin’ Donuts.
I had the misfortune of seeing
a goblin
sworn in as the president of my country,
a sorrow I shared with millions of others,
but they didn’t share my misfortune
of a terrible turkey sandwich.

“We share one heart,
one home, and one
glorious destiny,”
croaked the goblin,
who, I was told the next day,
had been angered that he couldn’t have
missiles and tanks marching
in his inaugural parade.

I finished my sandwich, chewing the
awful meat, knowing full well
that if I didn’t eat it,
I would suffer from hunger
back at work
as much as I understood that there
would be no freak assassinations,
no fortuitous appearance of any messiahs,
just a light chill, and soft rain.

America runs on Dunkin’,
so the corporate byline states.
I suspect that is partially true,
as I’m an American worker,
and I’m in there all the time.
But it seems to me that America also runs on
foreign wars, oil, and cheap labor, among
other first-world vices.
The goblin talked about our cities
and schools, our economy,
called it all
“American carnage,”
but overseas,
those two words mean something
very different.

Daniel Sokoloff is a poet from Philadelphia. Nearing the end of his chapbook, Dream of the Ash,
he has been published with It Must Be Heartbreaking, Anti Heroin Chic, and The Black Napkin,
as well as others. He can be found at his website, www.Lokepoet.weebly.com

"Dear long lost friend" by Keri Withington

I could just Google you,
but that seems too easy
after years of not speaking
I shouldn’t be able to just type your name
find Facebook pictures with your kids, if you
have them by now, a LinkedIn
with your career, a Pinterest board of recipes
and home decor

I imagine that you’re comfortable
more relaxed
reconnected with the brother you worried
so much about
I remember the last time we saw each other
you showed me the North Sea
skipped pebbles in sea foam
threw sticks for your dog

I buried cold hands in my pockets
wondered at how the sea air smelled different
from the warm beaches I knew

We talked about life the way only
twenty-somethings can

I hope you will read this poem
but I know you won’t
Your English wasn’t that good, even then

Maybe I should brush off my German
write you a note, though I don’t know what I’d say
roll it into a bottle sealed with cork and wax
then trust it to the waves

Maybe you still walk the beach
though your dog must be long gone
to glory by now
A new shepherd, a puppy maybe
runs between you and the waves
sniffs seaweed clumps
brings you sticks of bleached driftwood

Keri Withington is an educator and writer. Her work has previously appeared in numerous
journals and anthologies, including Vortex, The Miscreant, and Love Me, Love My Belly. She
enjoys backgammon, visiting obscure museums, camping in the Smokies, and building legos
with her kids.

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