By any other name By Kara Dorris

By any other name 

I read crackhouse in the sidewalk cracks,
in the zigzag patterns of ants,
crackhouse in the police cars cruising, in the cockroach cups

& ghostly plastic bags blown across yellowed grass.
Crackhouse in the wrecked windows,
in the stenciled skulls over peace signs.

My brother says tagging has been traced to the Roman Empire,
preserved by the eruption of Versuvius.
It seems we have always had the urge to declare

& curse ourselves, to scratch our names
beneath bleachers, in the DNA of our children,
in the cities of our dead.

But is it enough to substitute a name for our presence?
In what letter, what curve or line lies
my brother’s search, stepping over twisted tourniquets

& arms as thin as needles, finding our dad
so high in a crackhouse he didn’t recognize his son?
We step over so many bodies navigating those we love—

it has been a harsh winter. The coyotes devoured a nest
of raccoons, & I learned I cannot afford to love
things that are not fenced. Do all these bodies

make up the o in our last name? Is the final r
our reaching arms or our father’s?
What do we know about the names we are given?

We know the holes in the boundaries,
to sacrifice the out of bounds glyph over the i
like a firebug caught in the glow of undressed lightbulbs.

We know to walk through the dorr of Dorris to be alone.
We wait. But searching is a kind of waiting;
it’s the divide between being better as a daughter

& being better as his daughter.
My brother has always been the better son of everyone.
When he walks up to a crackhouse he ignores

the tagging that reads addicts only. No one stops him.
I guess there is an addict in us all.

By Kara Dorris

Biography:

Kara Dorris earned a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas where she teaches writing. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Southword, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, Tinderbox, KYSO Flash, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her stories have appeared in Wordgathering and the anthology The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked (Cinco Puntos Press, 2016). She has published two chapbooks: Elective Affinities (Dancing Girl Press, 2011) and Night Ride Home (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal.

Daily Consumption By Marie Anzalone

Daily Consumption

You would have had 1000 Rembrandts
except you made artificial playing fields
and concrete surfaces the gods
of your town. You made your art
as non-threatening as possible,
and forgot that children need crayons
as much as they need love and vitamin B.

You should have had 500 Madame Curies,
but you kept the hands of 10,000 girls
occupied with wash water and found
10,000,000 excuses for them to never
leave home- and an infinite number of
ways to enforce the rules of man and
church and a purported god that hates them.

You could have had 50 Gandhis
if you had not coerced your sensitive and
thoughtful child into following your
footsteps selling gum on buses
to buy your wide-screen tv; swallowing
the medicine of self-negation and being
convinced that it is not work if you are
not producing something to be consumed.

Selling childhood, virginity, innocence
as commodities on the open market;
bodies are appropriated as well
as any other form of slavery in history.
The whole scene designed to plaster a
happy colorful smile over a broken spirit
and muffled voice; to be present but never
contribute; recipients of visions selected
by prejudices and limitations of their
supposed superiors.

By Marie Anzalone

author’s note:

This piece was originally written in Spanish. It was precipitated by a series of conversations about the crippling effects of poverty on human potential, especially on children of exceptional ability who are denied opportunities that their richer counterparts have. Tourists flock to the country I live in to snap pictures of the happy colorful indigenous children out working in the streets, without ever realizing that, for many of these children and youth, they are forced into a form of servitude that replaces education and normal maturation. As someone recently posted on Facebook, “I am far less interested in the size of Einstein’s brain than I am in the number of child geniuses laboring at menial tasks who never get an opportunity to show their greatness.”

Biography:

Marie Anzalone is a development worker researching climate change effects in the rural Guatemalan highlands, where she lives with an active volcano in her backyard and a passionate love for all things arts and sciences. She crunches precipitation data and interviews poor farm wives on her good days and humbles herself the rest of the time presenting poetry in Spanish in front of a tough crowd who are quick to remind her of every gender and verb tense error she has ever made. She has been writing poetry for more than 15 years, and would like to offer a few pieces for consideration in your esteemed publication. She is offering the following 5 poems: “41 Fireflies,” “That Morning in August,” “Daily Consumption,” “Maternal Line,” and “The Freedom of a Rainy Day.”

Her creative writing and essays and short stories have been published in the Namaste Human Rights Journal of the University of Connecticut (2010), and several times in The Larcenist, Rising Phoenix Press, and Versewrights. She has published three stand-alone books of poetry, which may be found under her author profile on Goodreads and on Amazon, and has had works included in several creative writing anthologies. The five pieces she is offering have not been previously published through any print format other than her personal blog on Writers Café.

Fragments of gold leaf By Alex Clendenning Jiménez

Fragments of gold leaf

To Federico García Lorca

You will breathe in his heavy lilt,
inhale his speckled q’s and misshapen
i’s, hold the way he would speak to you
tightly by the reins, thoughts clouded
by paint fumes under a red, summer sky.

Your body will be his next canvas:
melted clocks and revolutionary
flags sunken into the crevices
of your stardust-stained skin.

Y’s turned into notorious i’s,
his grammar is horrible,
and how you wish to laugh
feed him orange halves
because he must be yours.

Kiss him in his childhood bedroom,
his sister sleeping in the next room
and all you can think is oh god oh god
oh god this is wrong,

and you’re twenty-six and he’s
twenty and this is wrong.
and your thoughts race like
the beat beat beat of a hummingbird,

Hummingbird wings fluttering
under the wide all-seeing moon.

Gold flecks from his sneering lips
sizzle onto your bronze skin
you were never as pure as him.
and you hear him spit: god
will make you pay for this,

to you, of course, he
is always god and not
the one you were taught
to praise in school.

And so you worship him for years,
every single work is for him,
he never writes back, so you do it
yourself, hands drowning in black

and blue ink, hold the stamps too close
to your chest, too scared that this is just
another letter into this abysmal
cycle of past love.

Die for him under scorched skies
and watery earth, donned in your blood-
stained white suit, with your brittle, broken legs,
tibia and femur fractured, poking through the tattered

fabric of your pants, holes large enough for
the bullets to pinch your skin like the way
his fingers would sink delicately
into the softness of your back.

Dry grass caressing your splintered
mouth as death greets you in her best suit,
her smoky eyes remind you of the gas lit
lamps of your childhood, and when she smiles

you know she wishes to cry tears
of silver and bronze in hope of melting
the bullet holes because she murmurs: you
don’t deserve to die, not like this, not here.

But you’ve known this for years
think of 1929 in a cramped
harlem apartment, death
feeding on the remnants

of your thoughts, smog
creeping into the corners
of your mind, paper waiting
for the newest draft of your murder.

Now all you know is the sweet
smell of gunpowder, men trembling
at the sight of you, and all you hear
are gold hummingbird songs.

By Alex Clendenning Jiménez

Biography:

Alex Clendenning Jiménez was born in New Orleans and raised in New York, Brazil, and Spain. They completed Emerson College’s pre-college Creative Writers Workshop in the summer of 2016. They are a junior at Idyllwild Arts Academy in Idyllwild, California, studying creative writing and are currently a member of the editorial staff of Parallax Literary Magazine. Alex’s writing and poetry has appeared in Idyllwild Arts Academy’s newsletter The Yeti, and has received an honorable mention in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

Fruit By Candlelight By Natalie Crick

Fruit By Candlelight

The candle snuffed out, leaving
A trail of cursive smoke.

She probed the apple
Turned to bruise,

Juice bleeding into skin,
Soft as a small skull,

Pressed her nail into the pear
Leaving a dirty moon

In the meat of the fruit.
It receded from touch,

Like a Woman
Who has been hit before.

Her fingers drip
Wax.

The corpse candles reveal
Their death walks.


By Natalie Crick

Biography:

Natalie Crick, from the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in a range of journals and magazines including Interpreters House, The Chiron Review, Rust and Moth, Ink in Thirds and The Penwood Review. Her work also features or is forthcoming in a number of anthologies, including Lehigh Valley Vanguard Collections 13. This year her poem, ‘Sunday School’ was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

[Sort of] Pantoum for Caitlyn Jenner By Jo-Ella Sarich

[Sort of] Pantoum for Caitlyn Jenner

I am Caitlyn Jenner
6 ‘ 2 “ Olympian
I was running endless laps around the track when they pulled me out,
finding gluttony in the surgeon’s knife.

6 ‘ 2 “ Olympian
My body stretched tight by its own sinews and inert,
finding gluttony in the surgeon’s knife
tearing apart the sausage chrysalis

[the day I learned I was a sinner.]

My body stretched tight by its own sinews, and inert.
The sky took to the clouds like sandpaper
tearing apart the sausage chrysalis,
the day my life was less like a track meet and more like a snow-blown wilderness.

[You really picked yourself a winner.]

The sky took to the clouds like sandpaper, and
burgundy crumbs scattered on tufted pile for the children to follow. To what end?
The day my life was less like a track meet and more like a snow-blown wilderness,
credits rolling across the flat-sky screen.

Burgundy crumbs scattered on tufted pile for the children to follow. To what end? Only
a thousand sucked-in cold breaths finding my father’s rifle still in its case.
Like credits rolling across the flat-sky screen.
So it’s not really about gun control.

[So what is it about then? Still.]

A thousand sucked-in cold breaths finding my father’s rifle still in its case,
just another story on the magazine cover.
So it’s not really about gun control. I’m
learning whether plastic can fill our bullet holes, like IKEA flat-pack houses for refugees.

Just another story upon the magazine cover,
cast off like polystyrene and the faces of ourselves, as we
learn whether plastic can fill our bullet holes, like IKEA flat-pack houses for refugees.
Did you burn all the letters that Bruce wrote to Caitlyn, like disused organs in hospital incinerators?

Cast off like polystyrene and the faces of ourselves –
commited to smoke, the day the sky forgot God.
Did you burn all the letters that Bruce wrote to Caitlyn, like disused organs in hospital incinerators?
The day Hera took aim at Zeus, and pulled the trigger.

[What was it like, to be called up

in the middle of dinner, to be told your father

is now Caitlyn Jenner?]

Committed to smoke, the day the sky forgot God.
I was 16 when they pulled me out of English class, to say they’d found my father’s car.
The day Hera took aim at Zeus, and pulled the trigger.
And I’ve been 20 years feet-deep in this fake snow, waiting for someone

to shake the globe.

So it’s not really about gun control. But I’m also not really Caitlyn Jenner. I’m more like the other one. The one Donald Trump called ‘piglet’,

[only thinner.]


By Jo-Ella Sarich

Biography:

Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of online and in-print publications, including The New Verse News, Cleaver Magazine, Blackmail Press, Barzakh Magazine, Poets Reading the News, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

CARNAVAL EN TLAXCALA By Adam J Gellings

CARNAVAL EN TLAXCALA

 after Manuel Álvarez Bravo

On the first day
the viejitos paraded in elegant vests
long-sleeved shirts & polished shoes
the sun chased its peak & shadows began
to spread along the streets of La Arenosa
satiated with the scent of muéganos y
buñuelos stirring the air
going deep into our lungs
wafting through the holes
of our hand-painted masks hot with gold
floating & dancing in the plaza
step-together-step
step-together-step
right turn
step turn
past the dozens of huehues cracking
whips like gods sending the sound of thunder
& rain rolling as night began to descend
the local singer dug in
his uniformed band set the party
& even the loneliest girl felt the courage
to extend a hand
to the rhythm of the drums

Una nota va sa sa sa
Un beso va sa sa sa
Una nota va sa sa sa
Un beso va sa sa sa

By Adam J Gellings

Biography:

Adam J Gellings is a poet from Columbus, Ohio. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Ashland University & currently lives in New York. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Post Road, Quarter After Eight & Salamander.

The Lesson By John Stupp

The Lesson

A machinist
at Ford
told me he had a guitar
and was taking lessons
it’s hard on the hands
but I have to play a little every day
he showed me his fingers
they were like rough cement
he said he saw Bill DeArango
the great Cleveland guitarist
in a group with Terry Gibbs
when he got out of the Navy
in 1947
this was at the 3 Deuces
in New York
then he shook his head
engine lines were running
the noise was its usual deafening self
dirt hung in the air
workers were coughing their guts out
there was no breeze
I was ready at the time clock
it was 1968
I was eighteen
just out of high school
I’d never been to New York
never been on a subway
let alone the South Pacific
I was wasting his time
so get fucking lost he said
and I did

By John Stupp

Biography:

John Stupp is the author of Advice from the Bed of a Friend by Main Street Rag. His new book Pawleys Island will be published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. Recent poetry has appeared or will appear in The Greensboro Review, Poet Lore, The American Poetry Journal, Into the Void (Ireland), LitMag, The Tishman Review, Door Is A Jar, A Quiet Courage and Slipstream. His poem “Goat Island” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

stand By Jacquese Armstrong

stand

i stand
because a multitude
of ex-slaves
nursed my wounds
bandaged my head
as i lay in
catatonic blue.

the mind is
a lonely and complex
environment.

voices will collide
and fight
for a morsel of dominance.

(they ignore you and
fight each other over
your mind.)

laugh at the private hell-hole
and the public circus comes
blazing.

born to be a survivor
dating back
to a ship
where you were told
to forget your name…

(see
we’ve got this fortress
of hope built around us
doors chained
no matter what happens
we stand.)

By Jacquese Armstrong

Biography:

Jacquese Armstrong is a writer/poet residing in Central New Jersey. Her chapbook, dance of the shadows, is to be released in June. Her work has been previously published in GFT Presents: One in Four, For Harriet and Black Magnolias Literary Journal among others.

OFF HOURS By stephanie roberts

OFF HOURS

i’m going to be in love again
used to be the big department stores in the city
closed on sunday
those early morning trains belonged to
black church goers
copped to king james unaware
how rare they were
christmas day you could drive from wall street
to harlem a mile a minute
did it once (can’t remember why)
maybe because i could
like i’m going to love again
in spite of this exhaustion of entropy
consuming my heart like cancer
(never met anyone with heart cancer
or i never met anyone without it)
can’t close stores now
literally a done deal
i’m not on the F heading to the church
opposite carnegie hall
where i sang all four verses shoulder to shoulder
with a tenor from the met
i’m embarrassed to still be off-key
about love
talked about it ten years twenty
(enough already)
let the workers go
home to their families
for fuck’s sake
let’s get sick of talk of love
let’s threaten poets with physical harm
i’m going to love again so quietly
no one will know
i’m home.

By stephanie roberts

Biography:

stephanie roberts has work featured or forthcoming, this year, in The Stockholm Review of Literature, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Room Magazine (Canada), Shooter Literary Magazine (UK), Rat’s Ass Review, After the Pause, The Thing Itself, The Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Born in Central America, she grew up in Brooklyn, NY and now lives just outside of Montréal in a wee french town. Her twitter @ringtales, mixes a passion for literature, blacktwitter, resistance politics, and a boilermaker of irreverence. www.oceansandfire.com

That Morning in August By Marie Anzalone

That Morning in August

She told me but this isn’t poetry. Poetry is nice. It
should make me feel good. So, I tried.
I tried to write only of ephemeral kisses and happy
well-fed people. Of carefree sparrows and respect
for my leaders and my great dream of marrying the
right man with nice straight teeth and a morning power
routine and our two perfect children.
Of emotionally safe sex and love of angels
and puppies.

Then I dreamed I was dying in a cage made of
daytime television and bleach and Styrofoam. I
started to hear voices, and they rose as a crescendo
and a trumpet and a nuclear air raid siren.

They told me of what the tree said in its own defense.
The lullaby the wind sang to the pines on their last night
before a visit from men with chainsaws.
I felt what a tired bird feels in your city when one day
everything it knew is concrete.
I read an opinion of war written in blood on the
walls and vast silences of shelled homes.
I read the clinical notes of the night-shift nurse
in San Pedro Sula.
I read what comforted a girl giving birth on a refugee
boat in the Adriatic Sea.

They told me, Poetry:
is what is exposed when the polish of “nice”
wears thin and falls away.
It is what the boy who committed suicide could not
find to tell his family;
and what the kid in a robbery could not say
to his friends.
It is what people who only ever ride in cars miss,
that makes them hate the bus rider;
and what the bus-rider might put into words
if she knew how, and were not too tired,
from riding in buses.

It is the raw freedom exposed when you permit
the loving mother of your children
to ask you, without apology, to fuck me like a whore;
but also, the unit used to measure space between
two lovers who share a bed but no longer
a heart.
It is what the orphan could teach you about the
sanctity of family; as much as saving the life
of the woman who married your ex, also could.
Or the woman who lost her child, blaming the
one who decided not to give birth.

It is what I think you meant when you said, “if only…
I had met you 10 year earlier.”

It is what my friend did not say to his mother in time.
What we did not see in the mirror by Nagasaki’s reflected light
that morning in August; and what those on the ground
did see.
It is my aunt walking into cancer’s battlefield, armed
only with a can of sarcasm.

It is what you miss most when you are so far
from the last place you called home;
and what you see on those inevitable midnight walks
when no place or person or building
has ever been home.
It is the stranger at your table, and the thief
in your family; and that knowing look when you
are trapped in a meeting and you see
the face of the only other person there who
understands you.
It is the guilt of being joyful while others are still suffering.

It is that last fence standing after
a century of wind and waves had their say.

Poetry is the sum total of all things raw and tender,
and more,
that I have ever wanted to, but could not,
say, to anyone, including you,
to and about and for, you. These are all things
I do not think she, living in a house made of straight
protected and committee-approved
lines and desires,
can comprehend today. This is how poetry
has always invaded the houses of those who are
already dead.

author’s note: Inspired partly by a reading of Heather McHugh’s intensely shattering poem, “What He Thought.” This poem was translated from its original in Spanish, which can be found here: http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/zorra_encantada/1882668/

By Marie Anzalone

Biography:

Marie Anzalone is a development worker researching climate change effects in the rural Guatemalan highlands, where she lives with an active volcano in her backyard and a passionate love for all things arts and sciences. She crunches precipitation data and interviews poor farm wives on her good days and humbles herself the rest of the time presenting poetry in Spanish in front of a tough crowd who are quick to remind her of every gender and verb tense error she has ever made. She has been writing poetry for more than 15 years, and would like to offer a few pieces for consideration in your esteemed publication. She is offering the following 5 poems: “41 Fireflies,” “That Morning in August,” “Daily Consumption,” “Maternal Line,” and “The Freedom of a Rainy Day.”

Her creative writing and essays and short stories have been published in the Namaste Human Rights Journal of the University of Connecticut (2010), and several times in The Larcenist, Rising Phoenix Press, and Versewrights. She has published three stand-alone books of poetry, which may be found under her author profile on Goodreads and on Amazon, and has had works included in several creative writing anthologies. The five pieces she is offering have not been previously published through any print format other than her personal blog on Writers Café.