EVEN NETFLIX IS IN DEBT By James Croal Jackson

EVEN NETFLIX IS IN DEBT

There’s a vast swath of land infected by the living
dead. The desert, the plains, the cities– all beheld
by glow of screen, and we’ve dug holes too deep
for bodies. Just pray there are no more casualties,
no gunshots, no cars striking crowds, whether in
the USA or Spain– all of this is beginning to look
universal, the hatred of our own. How we pay
for the debt the nation’s entrepreneurs designed.
There’s an endless spate of horror
films upon which to feast our eyes but look
at the people walking down your street harboring
the fears society cannot afford. There is still
ample land to lay graves– land founded on holes
we placed bodies in yet we distract ourselves
with everything, looking for the next lark
to keep us living. Under a blanket in the living
room with our lovers, under stars aglow through
open window, we watch the drama unfold.
We know the protagonists will always
find a way out of suffering.
Those through the window never do.

By James Croal Jackson

Biography:

James Croal Jackson, a Filipino-American poet, is author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, Stonecoast Review, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

Ode to the Man inside and the Letter he will not get because he was transferred to a new prison on Tuesday last By Hazel Kight Witham

Ode to the Man inside and the Letter he will not get because he was transferred to a new prison on Tuesday last

for E.O., for his family, for all inside~
with thanks to the poet Issa Kobayashi, for this world of dew

He who they said did
what he did not do

He who lost world and life and home
myth of freedom too

Who was brother and son and father
all the roles he once knew

He who lives in cage
for what he didn’t do

Redwhite bars, broken promise, false accuse,
and skin: what it all came down to

More than two years in
I finally write to you

Spin story, sing verse in inks bright
like morning dew

The losses you’ve borne
now this one too

All the innocence we’ve lost:
now this loss too

The truth? That letter
may never find you

My small offering,
small through and through

winds through concrete maze
imprisoned now too

Just like all the things we’ve
taken from you

This, just one more,
nothing new

And yet, and yet—
in this world of dew

we learn and learn again,
us hapless fools

not a thing is promised: not justice, not release, not freedom—
all this we surrender too

But know this now—
it may be true:

those words
were not just meant for you

They spun story, hope, poem
and awareness too:

that yours would not be the only
eyes for whom they blew

light scatter of hope
cast across ephemeral page, dust and dew

Perhaps—could it be?

Someone needs them more than you.

By Hazel Kight Witham

Biography:

Hazel Kight Witham is a writer, teacher, activist, and artist whose work can be found in Bellevue Literary Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, Rising Phoenix Review, Angels Flight, Zoetic Press’s NonBinary Review, Lunch Ticket and Lady/Liberty/Lit. She lives and breathes in Los Angeles with her family.

Poem in which Mason Verger does not appear By Jacqueline Boucher

Poem in which Mason Verger does not appear

Admit it: it would be better if he honeyed
his drink with the grief in you. Like maybe,
if his lips were drawn with cackle, with sneer, you might
have better earned your ankle’s inward twist. If
you were some lovely hog, some elegant crane
of neck and jodhpur fit to be fed for screaming,
then you might tuck his simple villainy into the cedar chest
that holds your finer messes. Instead, he is spit curl
& heather tee, feathered voice and underbite. When it’s over,
he stops asking why you’re crying
to buoy your conversation with quips on Milton
he’d told you once before. In this, he foregoes swish of cloak
& makes your mouth into an apology, its syllables trailing
behind you
in dark morning, a braid.

By Jacqueline Boucher

Biography:

Jacqueline Boucher lives and writes in Northern Michigan. Her work was a finalist for the 2016 Write Bloody manuscript contest, and has appeared in BOOTH, SmokeLong Quarterly, Hobart, and other magazines. She can be found on Twitter @jacqueboucher.

Tools By Amy Lauren

Tools

Constructing a home for my body
with the oppressor’s tools –

softening what is hard,
firming what is soft,

highlighting the wideness
of my eyes and the length

of the lashes, their darkness,
drawing lines on some curves

and casting shadows on others—
almost like any Southern lady spotted

on her husband’s arm at the opera,
clinging to him with wobbly heels–

but only altering aspects I choose,
skin unapologetically expanded,

as if Venus sculptured herself
for the woman who might unveil her,

relishing the chisel on marble,
relinquishing no inch for any man’s eye,

sculpting with my own two hands
with the only tools that fit my hands,

with what tools
my hands can afford.

By Amy Lauren

Biography:

Amy Lauren is an organist in Jackson, MS and recipient of a Pushcart and Best of the Net nomination in 2017. Her chapbooks include Prodigal (Bottlecap Press) and God With Us (Headmistress Press), the latter through the semi-finalist prize in the Charlotte Mew Contest.

On the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting By Melanie Corning

On the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting

They would have been in the sixth grade,
bundles of nerves and knowing,
sagacious sass.
Eleven-going-on-twenty-five.
Double digit tweens.

They could have read
chapter books, learned
state capitals and long division,
won spelling bees.

They could have argued
with their parents about chores
and allowance, wished
and waited for their first
cell phones, first dances,
first crushes, first loves.

They could have gathered
in basements at sleepovers,
unfurling new wisdom
in excited whispers.
They could have written
it all down in a diary locked
with a tiny key, labelled
PRIVET KEEP OUT!!!!!

They could have been giggly
and hard to focus after lunch,
distracted by rumors of snowfall,
running to the window
at the first sign of flakes,
eyes heavenward, mouths agape.

They could have rushed outside,
halfway into snow pants,
and thrown themselves gleefully
into mounds of white powder.

They could’ve made angels,
arms as wide as the sky.

By Melanie Corning

Biography:

Melanie Corning is a writer and teacher in Boston. Her work has previously appeared here at Rising Phoenix Review, as well as The Bread Loaf Journal and a google drive folder called “drafts.”

ON THE WALK TO THE POLLING PLACE By James Croal Jackson

ON THE WALK TO THE POLLING PLACE

Some birds zigzag
below shrapnel clouds
and others, perched
on limbs, chatter
about migration
in this chill
because the leaves
in your yard
are a different shade
than your neighbor’s,
but each tree
casts its own
ballot into earth
and waits
for the season
to change.
Scrunching
all the dead
beneath your boots
along the way
to the church
with the cookies
and machines,
you pass big,
brick houses
with American flags
and jack-o-lanterns’
sunken smiles
on porch steps
and city workers
who have been
fixing power lines,
building structures,
patching roads
for so many months,
and so many months
to go.

By James Croal Jackson

Biography:

James Croal Jackson, a Filipino-American poet, is author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in FLAPPERHOUSE, Yes Poetry, Stonecoast Review, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle, a poetry journal. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at jimjakk.com.

Knowledge By Kristin Garth

Knowledge

She knows it as a child. Her fate not bright,
no school bus yellow sun. Its freckled freight
a frolic, friends descend to skips and kites.
Peanut and jam pretend to blend but hate.

She knows it in a dream. A moon a man,
in slumber, seems. His beams become a hand
that parts a curtain, cheery chintz. Backhands
a cheek that wakes to wince then understands.

She knows it in a bed, the hair that pulls a head.
The fingers, darkness, dread. She scream, atones
inside though not a word is said. Misled
through paths of pain that end always alone.

She knows it all and learned it much too soon.
What’s made of sun can never love a moon.

By Kristin Garth