The Braille for Self-Love By Anita Dutt

The Braille for Self-Love

Tell me that you will love her anyway,
when her body folds into itself like a concertina, and her lungs
are the only part that still remember how to expand again.
Learn to believe that depression is not always a cue for leaving;
even though her love language is not personal touch
know that the Braille etched in her palms reads stay.
Please never forget that she is still something precious;
when she has fallen from her pedestal, pride bleeding
through gritted teeth; when tears are the only thing left glistening.
Forgive her gently when her foundations are trembling
for even the most tragically beautiful scenery is often ruins.
On the off chance that her heart is not in the right place,
forgive her anyway, just because she is the epitome of human.
Please promise me that you will hold her when she needs you to;
swallow your toungue just to convey it is okay not to be okay.
When she is ready, let her unwrap her smile like a child
on Christmas day; pretend you did not see her slip the ribbon
in her pocket just in case she needs to wrap it up again.
Give her the space to wrestle with relapse and recovery.
On the days laughter is her most fluent language
do not capture the fireflies in her eyes; their light
is always more breathtaking when they dance freely.
Take her on coffee dates; let her sleep in till midday;
let her spend hours smoking cigarettes and watching the rain.
Tell me that you will never be too old for blanket forts
and nights spent spooning with the stars,
after all you are used to spending every night with her.
Finally, grow her a garden so that she never runs out of petals;
never needs to question whether you love her so or not. Tell me
you will make her believe that love can be something unconditional.

By Anita Dutt

Biography:

Anita Dutt is a university student in Australia, studying so that maybe one day she will be a part of the healing. Anita has been weaving words to fabricate the nest within her ribcage for years though she is the new bird on the poetry block. You might not have heard her name yet but you’ll soon taste it every time you lick a lemon slice to disguise a night of tequila shots; you’ll feel it every time you rub honey into your wounds and realise the irony that you’re allergic to bees. She’s a magpie when it comes to inspiration; she picks apart nearly anything and everything (even her pizza. But don’t we all do that?) but her fellow poets are what keep her appetite satiated in between writing poems especially Andrea Gibson, Shinji Moon, Meggie Royer and Caitlyn Siehl. She writes to feel the pain. She writes to heal. She writes to say this happened. She writes to say I survived. She writes to say you will too.

Veteran Of Passchendaele At Rest, Lillyfield, Manitoba, 1923 By W.K Kortas

Veteran Of Passchendaele At Rest, Lillyfield, Manitoba, 1923

They said you could see the madness in Haig’s face:
A certain set of the jaw, a steeliness to the gaze,
Which to some spoke of an admirable duty to King, country, and honor,
But to those who had seen it too often before
More an indication of a present and growing mania,
The pursuit of an unholy grail for its own sake.
Understand, we’d done all that–crawling like infants
Through razor wire and enfilade,
All to possess a few meters of muck so sodden
That sappers in the trenches had drowned
In an infernal mousse of French sludge and their own excrement,
(I have never found it fit to complain about the Fokker sized mosquitoes of July
Or five-below in January since)
All so the Bosch, having scuttled like roaches or rats from their pillboxes,
Could reclaim it scant days later,
So when Haig decided to punch that dance card yet once more,
They said Currie (no firebrand by any measure)
Actually yelled– Not these boys!  Not for this patch of mud!
It was in vain, of course; there is no greater folly
Than to argue with a man in the full grip of an unhallowed passion.
The results were predictable:  harried mothers dropping off John and Michael juniors
Who had never known senior at school, prairie farms shorthanded by two or three sons,
A battle which changed nothing, a state funeral for a field marshal.

We veterans have been asked–on more than one occasion–to lend name and purse
To the establishment of a monument on or near that ill-fated ground.
Invariably, I politely (but firmly) decline;
I cannot picture some noble bronze figure marching bravely across that field
(As if anyone traversed that sodden muck upright!) or some subdued plaque
Appropriately commemorating what transpired outside that tiny village.
There is, after all, any number of perfect apt memorials already there:
Odd, out-of-place pot-bunkers and moraines
Which still dot the landscape, some sporting bandages of grasses and blooms,
And when the machinations of nature have finally smoothed and leveled the ground,
Those who feel the need to memorialize what came to pass there
Will be long since dead, and likely for the best,
For those proposed cenotaphs would be testament to no more
Than the realization that our generation
Proved no more able to conquer madness
Than any which had preceded or succeeded our own.
Indeed, I have often seen boys playing shinny on the ponds
(More than a few of whom had fathers or brothers fall on that forsaken turf)
Raise up their sticks and fire them into the air at some unseen antagonist,
And I have wondered to myself What was it all for, Lord?
What for?

By W.K Kortas

Biograophy:

W.k. kortas is an itinerant civil servant living in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains.  He lives and works by the axiom “Mediocre means better than some.”

Moving Man By Mark Morgan

Moving Man

you are the skeleton
key–rusted, dangling
from a nail I pounded
into a wooden frame

I packed most of my stuff
and abandoned that house
for a cozier place
the heart of a new state

no violence or arson
just smiles and unlocked doors
and as I count the stars
cold earth kisses my spine

By Mark Morgan

Biography:

Mark Morgan, Jr. writes poetry for An Autumn Road, his poetry blog located at http://anautumnroad.tumblr.com. A native of Detroit, he is currently working toward a bachelor of science in secondary education.

When i was a Little bit Older than Young By jacob erin-cilberto

When i was a Little bit Older than Young

Winter 1970, snow covered thoughts of unrest
i found my draft card, then found god—
praying for Canada
and more cold drafts, beer not cards
with signatures of
yellow people with blades between their smiles
and minute rice revolvers hidden deep within patty pocket
deceit

a bible tucked under the pillow as i rest my head
against the car seat
and you drive as north as the gas peddle will aim
when guns need to be unloaded
and i pour out my heart
in words that don’t want to go to war

inevitable is non-existence
and shrapnel fear
that comes in bits and pieces
to unglue the most solid temperament

Winter 1970, the pines’ peaks
dusty with lust for freedom from marsh filled boots
and Kurtz-like boredom

there is crazy in orders
and a certain order to the craziness
as we peel the agent orange rage from our uniforms
and dream of Alberta
or Niagra Falls and honeymoons
that are love-ins where the message
isn’t blown to bits by Uncle Sam pointing his gnarly fingers

implying that he wants us
but what us is left
after the rice is digested through open wounds
like love that never quite settled in the stomach

but instead, got caught in the throat
like a swallowed bullet
from a game of Russian Roulette.-
in Winter 1970.

By jacob erin-cilberto

Biography:

jacob erin-cilberto, originally from Bronx, NY, now resides in Carbondale, Illinois.  erin-cilberto has been writing and publishing poetry since 1970.  He currently teaches at John A. Logan and Shawnee Community colleges in Southern Illinois.

His work has appeared in numerous small magazines and journals including: Café Review, Skyline Magazine, Hudson View, Wind Journal, Pegasus, Parnassus and others. erin-cilberto also writes reviews of poetry books for Chiron Review, Skyline Review, Birchbrook Press and others.  He has reviewed books by B.Z Niditch, Michael Miller, Barry Wallenstein, Marcus Rome, musician Tom MacLear and others. Erin-cilberto’s latest book demolitions and reconstructions is forthcoming in late April /early May. His previous three books an Abstract Waltz, Used Lanterns and Intersection Bluesare available through Water Forest Press. His books are also available on Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com as well as Goodreads. erin-cilberto has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in 2006-2007-2008 and again in 2010. He teaches poetry workshops for Heartland Writers Guild, Southern Illinois Writers Guild and Union County Writers Guild.

Voices By Emily Burns

Voices

i don’t hear the voices
on the other side of the line yet

as a dispatch operator in training
i only see the calls in queue
mostly waiting for ems squads
to come and check all the vitals

sometimes they radio back
waiting for patient decision

sometimes i hear patient refused
treatment
against medical advice

there are trips to the hospital
and symptoms
and problems

sometimes a bright spot

little girl rescued from the flooded creek

patient has been delivered code 12
no emergency

there is a language
all our own

like we are trying to keep
the rest of the world
out of the conversation

codes and signals
that only we know

one day soon
the voices will be mine

and my voice will be delivered
to the sick and afflicted

maybe my voice will carry
them back to safety

By Emily Burns

Biography:

Emily Burns is a student of history, spending much of her spare time sewing her family’s wardrobe of 18th and 19th century clothes. She volunteers at several historic sites around her home in central Kentucky; teaching about women’s skills of the past. Emily has been reading poetry since the age of twelve and began exploring voice and writing about ten years ago.

Emily holds a B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky and has published several books. Dalliance, poetry with images in words that describe the hills, the countryside, the flora and fauna and the heart of a Kentucky poet, which was published by Old Seventy Creek Press in 2010. She edited and published John Sternemann’s posthumous anthology Banging a Drum: words from sacred spaces in 2014.

Historic publications include, The Children’s Civil War Alphabet Book, an abcedarian book that includes photos and stories from her living history adventures with her own kids. Emily also published Our Receipts: a Civil War cookbook, which includes various recipes from the mid-19th century, including a variety of main dishes and dessert as used in Civil War reenactments. Tea and Manners, a compilation of articles describing fashion, etiquette and recipes for a 19th century tea. And finally, What a Lady Should Know about Health and Medicine in the mid-19th Century, which is a compilation of articles from period sources including recipes for common cures from the pre-Civil War era.

Quiet Death By Caitlyn Siehl

Quiet Death

Mother, if you really want to know,
Yes. I wanted to die for her.
I wanted to lay down
in the middle of
Springfield Avenue
and die for her.

She is the death I don’t like
talking about.
The one that I survived.
The one that I came crawling
out of, fingernails bent back.
The one that bagged my groceries
and didn’t look at me
the right way.

I play shadow puppets with her memory;
drink champagne until
I’m tender.

Mother, her—her
absence was the most
beautiful thing I’ve ever
suffered for,
ache like a
purple gown that trailed
behind me when I walked.

I was glowing, mother.
I was the most elegant
loneliness, the most exquisite
creature among all of the
unloved.

By Caitlyn Siehl

Biography:

Caitlyn Siehl is a poet from New Jersey. Currently finishing her senior year of college, she is going on to receive her Master’s degree in Communication at Rutgers University. She has published one book of poetry entitled What We Buried and has co-edited two poetry collections entitled Literary Sexts Volume 1 and Literary Sexts Volume II, all through Words Dance Publishing. She enjoys spicy Jalapeno chips and being surrounded by dogs at all times.

Kissing Telephone Poles By Anita Ofokansi

Kissing Telephone Poles

November has you shivering at the gas pump.
There’s nothing romantic about fading to black and white
but you have never looked as flawless as you do now,
lips cracked and bleeding.

You move through life with your shoelaces untied.
You howl at radio towers.
If I didn’t know you better I’d say your skin was rotting tree bark.
If I didn’t know you better I’d say it was only the cold turning your knuckles white.
We are all just surviving.

Listen, the insects have come out of hiding to sing your name;
I know that temptation, have bitten the insides of my cheeks bloody
trying to keep every letter locked in the cage of my mouth.
But now I sing your name to myself like a song I still know
the words to despite not having heard it in years.
I think I love you some place in Denver.
I think I love you car crash.
I think I love you unconscious in a ditch somewhere.
You will be the death of me but I am dying all the same without you.

You are a wolf in the cloudless sky.
A bouquet of goodbyes.
Winter has not gotten over you, and neither have I.
Tangle me in your rosebushes, fill my mouth with thorns.
Kissing you felt like frostbite,
angel, my lips burn with silent nothings.

I feel I must confess.
Yes, it feels so good to say it now —
You force of nature. You beautiful disaster.
Drive slow.
The roads are slick with ice and dangerous,
I miss you terribly.

By Anita Ofokansi