Tyler Edwards

I Can’t Follow You To Texas

Buried in those CBGB eyes,
Siouxsie Sioux – a noble proprietor of the stage –
screams to me that everything I once admired
about the House of Blues is bullshit.

Hugging tight those serpentine hips,
A military issue jacket – Vietnam era –
angry in its limpidness. I’ve followed that anger for a while,
and could do so forever if it meant this feeling of freedom would last.

Tucked Between Trees Part One

Public radio pounding free form jazz through the blown speakers of an ’87 Chevrolet. Cumulus fog rolling through the cracks in the windshield.
The yellow center line has never been so illuminated by one headlight,
the other long ago blown and never replaced.
Recklessly crossing that vivid visual barrier, I reckon this is a fine night to die.
An unassuming two lane road, tightly tucked between steadily decaying trees of every species has been traveled before – but never in a manner so elegant.

Jazz by Fire’s Light

That fire, those hissing embers,
silhouette a sax man, wailing at the waning moon.
That guitar, it speaks midnight:
telling universal truths and hardships, provocatively plucking waltzes.
That panicked, pounding rhythm-
A late night steam train whose only destination is an escape.
Three guttural please to nobody
that this fireside freedom finally found
will press on through sunup.

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Natalie Crick

The Other

She was a girl of the Convent.
A small girl
With big blue eyes
On Valentine’s day.

The sun set and she wanted to die,
Locked in the old house in the hill,
Rocking with emotion.
The man in the moon was black with hate

Like her Father. She was sick with paranoia,
Riddled with the voices of her children.
O God! Someone was calling.
In her dreams.

Lost in bedlam,
A thin ghost
Was running with a sword.
I am ready.

She woke drugged,
And a widow today.
Bitter as a spider.
Murderous too, with news of her Mother.

So she turned to The Other.
Bowing down to God.
A dark place
Where she would hardly know herself.

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We’re Still Here

Hi. I have been working 7 days a week the past couple months and haven’t had any energy for the magazine. For now I still plan to continue. The submissions email was blocked due to 90 days inactivity. It’s open again now.

What I plan to do is put some time in around Thanksgiving and Christmas and publish several poems during both those times.

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Avalon Graves

In Love With the Stars

You are the kind of beautiful
that’s kept away in
childhood dreams.
Scribbled thoughts
within diary pages;
words spoken
stuttered and misused.

I admired you in a
Cheshire Cat style:
I’d smile and disappear.

And it was clear to me
that if vibes had faces
yours would be the prettiest.

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Linda Wojtowick

FLYING CHILDERS

Well, to mention, that year was spoiled meat.

The blood moon passed several times. Bees were mean, restless.

Elk moved to toward the dimlit towns and cried.

Something was happening, some hungry ghosts searching for food.

But this is about him. That year twelve, blonde as sun.

He loved baseball in the pressed-out corn field

and bullfrogs in the swamp. His body seemed normal.

Like all of us, he ate sugar and he skinned his knees.

No atypical muscle or cards. One night

he crossed the hall to his sister’s room.

Her lamp lit the papered walls in spray.

She set down her book. Her dolls turned

waxen and changed their mouths.

He strode to her open window and brought up his knees.

The sill was high, the lawn below a carpet churned by moles.

She saw him gather some unseen steam. Downstairs,

their parents ate pills and prayed to beads. See,

during the day their hearts were clear.

But after supper their sadness soaked through to the basement,

to the shale. Tell them I’m leaving, he said.

A scarf trembled in a wind around his neck.

She had never seen anything so beautiful.

She said he flew out like a wide bird, copied by stars.

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S. Thomas Summers

This Poem

Right now, there’s nothing as important
as these words, the way they trickle
down the page like a dark stream of water
or the way they remind me of bird tracks

cluttered in the snow beneath the bird feeder
or, for that matter, the fallen sunflowers
dotting the snow like the fragments
of a shattered shadow. I’ve little interest

in the flood of sunlight rushing
through the bay window, over the couch,
and onto the floor where the dog
has fallen asleep and is quietly yipping

at the rabbit she must be dreaming about,
the one I assume she wants to chase
in an open field where the grass grows
as thick as the shag carpet she’s sleeping on.

Nor do I have time for the weave of tree limbs,
oak and ash, birch and beech, that remind me
of a family holding hands, joining minds
and spirits in prayer. These words are soft

and cool, like a favorite pillow. They curl
on your lap like a old cat sinking into its nap,
purring, purring. Sadly, soon they’ll end.
The phone will ring or I’ll realize I’ve lost

my keys or the neighbor will throttle his motorcycle,
urge it to growl, unleash its dragon,
moments before he rumbles down the street
and over the hill, chasing the sunset.

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Allie Gove

Burn Worship

I had a friend once who like to burn himself.
The strips of skin glistened like the edges
of Bible pages—he said it was ritual-necessary.
Implosions hardened up, coiling the veins.
Flames like slick-tongued rites frothing the sagging skin.
When the lighter came away from it,
every sound was a meditation of oxygen and ice,
bleating in an ancient rhythm of power.

Mother

They’d carved fish eyes as kids into the yellow
walls of that house and sometimes she would sit
with them simmering, like a power-out full
with midnight.

Smackhammering her own fists into her own thighs,
smothering that thing still
bleached into her eyelids: her mother—

tunneled over the arm of the sofa
her insides spilled all over her head
like almost nighttime a violet sunset

The eyes are always the same,
little fish in the same yellow walls;
old family like a drawer of candles.

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Jacob Borchardt

In What Grove the Pig

I do not know where the road goes
or how old it is

but beneath my bare feet it is irresistible

soft, bone-white sand banded with clay the color of porphyry
the path is carnival-garish even in the shade of the pine forest

as I walk the wind blows and to either side
of the road cut, pine boughs rattle, pulse like muscles

the woods are a great green serpent
and I am stuck in its throat

I walk, wind or no
I do not know how far I have come
nor how far I am going

when I finally stop
a bristled hump blocks the path

a pig
or what was a pig

its coarse skin a-hum with flies
a yellowy crab apple oozes
between its naked jawbones

I smell dry pine needles and sun turned fruit

I do not smell anything like
an expired boar
sprawled in the close, hot air of the forest

the apple tumbles from the pigs ruined mouth
and rolls across the sand until it almost touches my big toe

the skeletal jaws of the boar open and I know now that I am dreaming

All eat and all are eaten
is today’s lesson

my back straightens –
it has my father’s voice

Do you know now where you walk?

I can not bring myself to speak
and do not know what I might say if I could

its broken jaw flaps
like the sole of a beggars shoe

Somewhere, now,

two strangers meet
and know each other only as heat
and a smokey red light

they will grow old together

they will sleep with their hands clasped and their foreheads touching

they will each feed on the others breath

they will raise fat, blue eyed children

but never–

the wind begins to blow again
hard this time– the trees bend and coo like bull roarers

–never will one know the other
as more than smoke and light

pine straw flows like molten copper into the road cut
hissing deluge covers baroque mingling of clay and sand and pig

and half heard sounds
they are strangers passing on a grander road than this one

this road is humble
most roads go many places, this one does not–

the hog with my father’s tongue is lost in a drift of resinous bronze

I drop to my hands and knees and listen,
with my ear to the needled ground
I hear only wind and a whisper

This road goes only one place
though I know not where

I know not where.

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First Place in our 10 year anniversary contest goes to…

Stephanie Hempel

and here is her poem:


You Used Your Hands-

I never passed the knot tying workshop
in Girl Scouts. More than anything I wanted
to add that laminated badge on my Brownie vest.

I never learned the chemistry of rope cord,
A real life-skill, the intermingling of knots
to save stranded tug boats or falling trees,
but you did.

They said you had the most callused knuckles
in all of Brown County,
and that’s exactly how I recognized them,
blessed to the bone from hard work,
patient with time.

Youth isn’t a word
that is always taken into consideration,
especially in the parts of the town
that nobody talks about.

It was something that nobody ever talked about,
just admired the way that your fingers glided
with ease over the body of a grain loader,
mighty driver of the plains, they said,
praising all those barrel palms could carry home.

You used to pick me up after Girl Scout meetings,
lifting me up into the cab seat to fasten me in,
your hands never failing to provide comfort
after a day of failed knots,
the space on my vest appearing a little less empty.

I admired you in a way I did not even understand
at an age where everything was still blooming
like poppy seeds,

On the afternoon I asked you if you knew how to tie bows,
you cut the ribbons out of my hair,
and tore apart the buttons on my jeans,

I don’t remember anything except
the way I shivered in the blankets
when you were through.
Going home to my mother
with not enough words in my
premature mouth to explain why
I flinched when she spoke

My stomach rung dry with dust,
and legs caked in your soil
that burned holes into my skin,
you dismantled a perfectly capable garden

You used your hands
to introduce me to a lifetime of anxiety attacks
with no previous explanation,
a long account given to lovers
about why my legs weren’t
capable of parting red-seas,
to douse their broken bread,
a wavering memory that still
shames my feminine hips,

They told me you had the most callused knuckles
in all of Brown County,
I never told them why.

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10th Anniversary Contest – Second Place

Second place in our contest went to Reena Prasad.
Here is her poem:

Dirt

Dirt from another time
is lodged under my fingernails
In the freshly turned soil,
is a flat boulder bordered by wild flowers
A garden is also a grave

The sun pours out lethargy
The afternoon crosses through several skins
scorching, fading, eliminating them
Their contents lie
as cool mud in my palms
‘chariots’ of several thoughts flown
and I am one among them
teeth, bones, hair
All hand-me-downs from unknown ash

A hollow in the banyan’s trunk
holds glass marbles, sea shells, a feather, a ring
It is a secret chest of survival
watched over by tree spirits
A child’s stash is sacred

The mud fed on marrow, red, black and fertile
is human mulch
Seeds dig deep and bring up
the sleeping, undisturbed
in their buds
Within me, fallen leaves shift gently
My skin is a bark, forgotten
and the breeze is older
than my oldest memory

Underneath
many worlds rest till they are called upon
to stand in for a forest
to hold back a river in spate
or replenish a barren womb
The warm earth in my fist
could be anyone from history

I blow it off my palms and a staleness
leaves me
For too long
this breath of mine has been
moving in and out of bodies

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