James Croal Jackson
LOS ANGELES AIR WITHERED / ME
I blamed the smog first
for chronic bronchitis,
then for each of my failures
breaking into Hollywood.
My last time
in the Trader Joe’s
parking lot, BMWs
I wore smudged sunglasses,
saw pigeons gather
before the same small gods
I wanted to become.
too cozy walking autumn sunshine
creepy crawlie park time dusk
windy waving weeping nights
moonlit musk and tone
misty writing personalities
hard ego ergo wiring
impatient dollars dining doling
drinks to wine’s slow timbre
crowds working loud writing
sheets of many selves
A MONTH OF MOUTH PAIN
my cheek feels tenuous
like it could peel off any moment
this isn’t a lie. chewing is white
noise earwax toffee
not an infection nor life-threatening
but i went to sleep shivering
wildly. the ibuprofen acetaminophen
has started to call my body home
me being someone who never
relied on the stuff. these white &
brownish pills the river
toxins. i have withdrawal
symptoms from my regular personality.
before the pain the old me
fades. just a guy who ate chicken
drank beers and laughed.
i may be exaggerating, i know
but i’m walking around the house
in a onesie the color of blood
because if my gums aren’t
bleeding i need something to resemble
it. o give me something else
to lie about. i want the hurting
to end. show me the revolving door
that takes it away. a pill
bottle ice cream shop
to walk in where they’ll say
it’s on us, have everything
James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Columbia Journal, Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle from Columbus, Ohio. Find more at his website.
Thomas L. Winters
an interview about the time machine i stole and then returned
“What did you learn today?”
Everything gives to decay.
Even the mattress my mother bought me some years back.
It was plump and lustrous and rose up off the ground
like gold-plated arctic wolves on a pain-blue dais of early morning ice.
It even rode on wheels, so I could wake to different shades of sunrise.
It had these great springs that I foolishly thought might help me levitate.
One time with my eyes screwed tight I willed the springs to lift me
halfway out of my body. I saw someone in my dreams that night
I thought I’d forgotten—an anorexic angel who once bled
a story through my childhood cul-de- sac all the way down
to the creek (even the badgers heard) wherein she’d suck the blood
of all my friends and I we were only five no wonder
I take Halloween so seriously.
“Are you romantic?”
Not as much as I would like to be. But sometimes I surprise myself;
I think about my mattress I once had and fall again into its cotton curves
those sponges ranges desert hills the Sandman’s bumpy knuckles cracking
with the patience of a hooded vulture; fall and fall and daydream travel far
to lost synaptic lapses ruptured planes where I existed once on picnics;
strawberry picks low conversations never downed by daily news.
I wore the mattress out and now my new one cries and clings to floorboards.
Those picnics of old just sail just journey off without a rope to reach them
or a phone with which to leave a message. I get the urge to visit the cul-de- sac
and see my room again the one with all the glowing comet stickers
but it feels like something from another person’s life despite my knowing
it was (is) my own. Some say I’m manic that I think too much alone.
“Why is that?”
Because they haven’t learned yet; they don’t know that as we speak
their beds are decaying.
Thomas L. Winters is a writer from Ontario currently developing a chapbook of dark, surrealist poetry. After dropping out of university he struggled with finding a fulfilling path on which to excel creatively, but has since devoted himself to writing the stories and poems he once only ruminated on. In 2018 he hopes to publish fiction and non-fiction that faithfully reflects his thinking and multi-faceted background, and to begin his first novel in earnest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Grotesque Quarterly, OCCULUM, Figroot Press, The Sandy River Review, and Corvus Review (ed. note – forthcoming spring 2018).
While perusing your palabras I have seen
slivers of skin, spotted treachery of thought.
You aren’t an epigone, there is no spatchcock.
Your euphonies deliver vaudeville of daedal
eddies. I marvel at the way your mind runs,
your body moves. Topiary of your wordplay
has me in a transeunt whirl invoking in me
a prayer pushing me to inspect my interiority.
Fully clothed you’ve emptied me leaving me
to long for another lexicon.
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). A Best of the Net 2017 nominee, his poems are in venues around the world: The Broadkill Review, Olentangy Review, Home Planet News, Angry Old Man Magazine, Modern Poets Magazine, Serving House Journal, New Mystics, 3:AM Magazine, London Grip, Morphrog 16, Bold Monkey, Otoliths, Poetry Pacific, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.
The dog, still so young,
takes fox leaps through the snow
while you and I look on and laugh.
Childish, I know,
wanting to keep us this way
like plaited hair snapped in a locket
but dormant branches coated with ice
remind me of our bodies: devoted servants
to a swift-moving hour hand
counting time until we become
cupped palms bearing frostbitten fruit
that tastes only of loss.
MM. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry and fiction while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, Star 82 Review (ed. note: forthcoming March 2018), UCity Review (ed. note: forthcoming June 2018), and numerous other journals. She can be reached at her blog.
To the Lake House
He tracked the lethargic
flounder for several minutes
through the clear shallows,
then reached down quietly
and picked it up barehanded.
But when I worked in
commercial fishing, they were
garbage fish, trash fish, filling
up every net, and we’d frisbee
hundreds back into the bay
for sport. The river not blue
but clear—yet floating in it,
brown. The game was to hit
the drifting stick with rocks
and we played for hours.
The self, not iterative but emergent,
thus, impossible to locate. Though
photographs, seemingly evident,
complicate things. There
in the spray of the small
backyard fountain, waiting
for anything to wake.
You can never unbecome
who you have become.
Entrenched dynamic. And
all along I was this,
to identify as such.
Andy Stallings lives in Deerfield, MA, where he teaches English at Deerfield Academy. His second collection with Rescue Press, “Paradise,” will come out in 2018. He has four young children, and coaches cross country running.
A valentine, when you were mine, a five
by seven consecration of a concubine.
Embossed red leather, gilded page, archive
eclectic eros, rage. Pink ink defines
a day you’re lost inside, calendered flesh,
a virgin bride in racket raindrops, led
by hair. Your hums, my hymns, burlesque
of prayer. Pages map defilement, shed
shy skin — the whore unleashed you saw within.
Electric limbs, your servants, spread and crawl.
In this journal, I write it all. Rescind
my pain, replace your face, scribbled raw
details, desire, disgrace. A paper heart
that holds you forever, just like we start.
Kristin Garth is a poet from Pensacola and a sonnet stalker. Her sonnets and other poetry have been featured in Occulum, Anti-Heroin Chic, Murmur Journal, Drunk Monkeys (ed. note: “Expensive Leotards,” forthcoming next year), Fourth & Sycamore, Moonchild Magazine and many other publications. Her chapbook Pink Plastic House: Three Stories of Sonnets will be published by Maverick Duck Press in 2018. Follow her on Twitter: @lolaandjolie.
At diner counter,
plastic credit card in hand,
I realize cash registers
no longer sing. A silent
hums my money
from one shadow
to another. Waitresses
still smile and make
eye contact while
I write a tip,
still a silent
transaction that ends
in the same old way.
Richard Dinges has an MA in literary studies from University of Iowa, and manages information security risk at an insurance company. Avatar Review, Pennine Ink, Heart, Former People, and Home Planet News most recently accepted his poems for their publications.
This kid buys my puzzle from a boot sale.
Before he puts his pieces in my hand
he counts out my five hundred. Dazed, I fail
in counsel and he fails to understand.
Kid, that’s your first and my thousandth mistake.
How long do you think you can play that card?
You’d better wise up fast, you’d better take
my word: life’s spelt R I S K. It’s hard
to burst your bubble. But shit happens, man.
If everyone could try before they buy
d’you think I’d be here hawking in the rain?
I bought a picture – cottage and blue sky –
now I’m selling it to you, kid. Good luck.
Look, there’s more. All there. And all for a buck.
Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Heron’s Nest, and The Lake. Her first poetry chapbook, Ash Keys, is published by Flutter Press. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website.