It’s All Happening at the Zoo By Sean Bates

It’s All Happening at the Zoo

I befriended a peacock
free to roam
through the people parts of the zoo.
Even had to chase one
as it eyed M&Ms
spilling from the gift shop doorway.
Me in my fullbrim outback hat,
badgeless khaki
boyscout shirt and shorts.

I worked
in the Dippin’ Dots space-cold ice cream hut,
in the giraffe safari stuffed animal hut,
outdoor airbrush tattoo parlor hut.

Places people wanted three day animal themed tattoos:
forearm, bicep,
lower back giraffe, calf calf,
deep cleavage paw prints with glitter
I was required to provide.

I ran register tape in the Giddyup Grill.
I slung things breaded into checkered baskets.
The cook with the teardrop tattoo
called through the heat lamp,
Fries down.
Once, he told me might have to run,
back to Cape Verde. Said he’d dressed up
like a cop and robbed a few dealers.
My register ran out of pennies.

Late that summer, men came for him.
Who? I said.

By Sean Bates

Biography:

Sean Bates is a poet who grew up in various restaurants across Upstate New York. Sean attended Oberlin College for his BA, and University of Massachusetts Amherst for his MFA. His poetry was recently anthologized in ‘What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump’ edited by Martin Espada. He lives in Western MA with his spouse Elizabeth and their cat Smudge.

Heather By Yuna Kang

Heather

The glow of heather is not, as Yeats said,
Purple, that which mimics a childhood noon.
It sits not idly by painted cottages or ripening corn,
nor does it ramble by pleasant creeks.

heather now is a featherless peacock,
Shorn of her crown, habitat, and glory.
She sits mutely on tame suburban porches,
Or obliterated, shivering in the remains of scorched forests.

I yearn to see heather as a purple glow,
To be able to reach back, and breathe
in the possibility of memory, and hope.

but the air carries only the scent of ash-
and our noons are a blotted orange.
The world is on fire,
and childhoods are no more.

By Yuna Kang

Biography:

Yuna Kang is a queer, Korean-American writer based in Northern California who writes both poetry and short stories. She is pronoun indifferent, with her most popular pronouns being from the she and they series. When she is not writing, she is probably reading and trying out different kinds of tea. She lives in Berkeley, California, where she attends school at UC Berkeley.

I’m warning you By Kea Heard

I’m warning you

There’s an open bottle of witch hazel waiting to drown you
so think twice before you spit the bullets between your teeth

and how dare you?

To sit proudly on the chair you swallowed my spine whole
and aim your lips at the gaps you left without my knowing
Was it my skin or your touch that deceived me?
because my home has been rearranged and
I’m certain I locked my doors

your gluttony is showing, love
return what’s not yours
place it on the table next to you and
screw the bottle shut while you’re standing

then leave the way you came

This house shows no signs of
forced entry but there are many
ways to erase footprints

By Kea Heard

Biography:

Kea Heard is a student focusing on computers and brains. When she’s not drowning in work, she spends her time writing blogs, poems, and prose.

beneath the floorboards By Olivia Lee

beneath the floorboards

of five years old and
fully grown, standing in the shadows
of a diary : here
a monolith of diving boards, and here
we have the maze of half-erected houses, all
in siding-board without their ceilings : everyone
an indoor sky. cling to me
confess to me your dirty paws, the gloves we lost
the sock without its twin : if only there were two of us,
if only there was
crayon dust and purple fingernails
the smell
of little soft eternities which
slip between the days, like sugar and
cicada wings : the body of
the kitten laid to rest
beneath
the floorboards.

By Olivia Lee

First published in Heritage Review.

Biography:


Olivia Lee is a senior at California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley. Her art and writing has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, Princeton University, and the California Coastal Commission. She has work published, or forthcoming in Canvas Literary Journal, Polyphony Lit, Body Without Organs, Tab, The Journal of Poetry and Poetics, Blue Marble Review, and Apprentice Writer among others. In her spare time, she enjoys watching stationery hauls on Youtube and way too much anime on Crunchyroll.

Migrant Entropy By inklingfair

Migrant Entropy

She dog-paddles through the shallows,
gaping through goggles at ocean-floor creatures,
silver black-striped fish darting beneath, gills fanning out.
When her back starts to burn with drying salt
she flips over, belly to the sky, to the blinding
sun red against her eyelids.
Squinting at the horizon she pretends
there is no shore for miles around.
Beneath, silently waving black spines,
a sea urchin beckons
from a slow-dying reef.

She is, as she ever was, proud and distant,
her blood watered-down honey from the rains, her memories crumbly
sepia-and-brackish-flood prints. She, the first coal caught by high tide, driftwood spitting blue hissing in the dunes.
She walks among the mangroves humming, dress rustling
against her thighs, her eyes evolved from the soft fishlike dullness of years past, near-reptilian.
People drifted by in boats, by her
camouflaged in the banks’ shadows.
She had faded in with the island, with the sea and the sea-people
her city colors bleached out by the harsh sun
reflected and magnified a thousand times by the clear blue waters.
She belonged to them now, a ghost.

When she wakes to the riff of metal beasts

leaking petrol and crunching pebbles under
rubber, of wind-up people ticking by
in tight city shoes
she is not alone in the cacophony, she is hemmed in
as attic clothes nestle mothballs
muffling sublimation.
She is nothing but solid air
hurtling toward disorder, her
natural state.

By inklingfair

Biography:

inklingfair’s poetry has been published by indie trans-genre zine Paper Monster Press. She is about to give birth in the Philippines, where the coronavirus lockdown has stretched for over four months. She creates stories, verses, and storyverses of ideas at inklingfair.com.

Sergels Torg, Stockholm By Elissa Calamia

Sergels Torg, Stockholm

In the dark night rounding the corner
of Drottningatan,
the central town square lit up,

all of a sudden I look up and see
a man, walking a tight rope
between two buildings, me on my way home
walking

God that city, the way I walked the
narrow streets
like sparrows,
poking in and out

but it’s already below zero
and I watch the French man cross that tight rope in
half- moon slippers,
and other passers-by stop to watch too

All the people of Centralen:
groups of men
speaking Arabic, their
bird-flying hands and
white sneakers,
the alcoholics
with loud voices and
big red noses and
suburban kids,
with no place better to be in this

crystal glass night.
The hollow bell of the cold and the
thousand lost hearts,
under down coats and
fur-lined hoods,
in walking boots,
walking,
stopped,
for a moment,
looking up,
into this beaming night.

But the cold makes the night so thin your body slips right into it,
and all at once you are

the black silk night,
you are
the tinker-tin stars

your wide-eyed
moon- eye
illuminating

these people
of the dark,
this night below

By Elissa Calamia

Biography:

Elissa Calamia currently lives and works in Austin, TX with her boyfriend and Dalmation. She is grateful of the cities in which she has called home, which continue to shape the lens of her world.

THERE’S MORE PAST NOW THAN EVER By Erik Wilbur

THERE’S MORE PAST NOW THAN EVER

We’ve left Barstow on I-40.  The sun has fallen 
into the side-views. Shadows have begun climbing

purple spines above bajadas. Wind has broken
through cactus needles and flittered candy wrappers

caught in creosote vines. A freight train has paced us.
We’ve parked at a rest-stop. The train has moved east,

out of view. We’ve hopped the wire fence and walked
no trail past clusters of volcanic rock. At the track,

we’ve tried coaxing the conditional-perfect from ghosts of
railroad magnates, men who died long before discovering

the unsettled American past. Stars suddenly open
above us like bullet holes in a t-shirt. Down here too,

there’s more past now than ever. The railroad ghosts
tell us regret will always be un-American, but would-have

is a vehicle too, like their future-tense, and we can’t escape
our history anymore with credit cards or advances in locomotion.

We’ve thanked the railroad ghosts for space flight, told them
it’s no surprise to us that three Americans hold the record for

farthest distance from their mothers’ wombs. On the way
to that record, 200,000 miles from I-40, after losing

their main vessel, the crew of Apollo 13 radioed Earth,
where engineers would undo launch day with calculators

and scale models, chalkboards, the future-tense, and some help
from gravity. We remind the railroad ghosts of this bit of the story,

that this track they claim leads to space only u-turns the moon,
which means we can’t go forward anymore without going back.

By Erik Wilbur

Biography:

Erik Wilbur teaches writing at Mohave Community College in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. He is also the program director of Real Toads Poetry Society, a literary organization that provides opportunities for residents of rural Arizona communities to learn about, experience, and share works of literary art. His work has recently appeared in The Southampton Review, New Ohio Review Online, and Aquifer. Also, his forthcoming chapbook, What I Can Do, won the 2020 Chestnut Review Chapbook Prize. https://erikwilbur.com/

Dance Lessons By Shannon Lise

DANCE LESSONS

You are eleven. You are at a wedding
and you want to dance, to move your body
the way the Turkish women showed you,

feel the power in your waist, be the water
in the music, paint the shapes of the night
in the bloom of your flowering hips.

You want to take your turn beside the bride
in the middle of the circle, letting people clap
for you, relishing the freedom of your body

gone liquid, forgetting for an hour
how mirrors have started to make you feel
strange, think twice about all your clothes.

But that would be inappropriate, unladylike –
your mother would be so embarrassed,
would send you inside with angry hints half

understood about modesty and men until
you realize that dancing in three dimensions
is a liability, not for nice girls. So you reel

in the rhythm, flatten your body to a single
plane in space, step stiffly side to side instead,
pretending not to have curves, pretending

not to understand when the women try to
get you to swing your hips, and remembering
how only last week a girl was raped in broad

daylight just a few blocks away by a stranger
she’d passed on the street and your mother told
you she must have looked at him the wrong way.

By Shannon Lise

Biography:

Originally from Texas, Shannon Lise spent twelve years in the Middle East and currently lives in Québec. Her first poetry collection is underway and recent work has appeared in The Sunlight Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Ink in Thirds, Eunoia Review and Red Eft Review. She also writes high fantasy (Keeper of Nimrah, 2014).

One Haiku By Tom Ukinski

Wheat stalks bend as one
in wind, as bearded pilgrims
before the Kaaba.

By Tom Ukinski

Biography:

Tom Ukinski has been a dishwasher, doorman, mailman, chimney sweep, copywriter, and factory worker. He did street mime in Washington, D.C. and Mexico City, and stand-up comedy in nightclubs in Chicago, Boston, and LA. In the 1980s, he was convicted of being a lawyer and subsequently served 25 years in state government. He’s written novels, antipoetry, short stories, comedy sketches, musicals, and importunate advertising. His stories run from six words to 290,000. He is old enough to have lived through the betrayed rebellion of the late sixties and early seventies. His path has always demanded sacrifice. His writing and beliefs reflect mystical sensibility and perpetual protest.

SNAPSHOT By Lee Peterson

SNAPSHOT

Yorkshire, 1981

My mother and I sit side by side on the bus
between the village and Skipton.

She, stately in her beige trench—
herringbone buttons. Long legs, long arms.

Hands in her lap. I loved the blue veins,
subdermal streams, running up to her capable fingers.

Nails always half-manicured. Fingers always poised—
to stretch a canvas, to cook a feast.

Hands always gesturing. Joy/joylessness.
Always restless. Always ready.

To hold some book—Rich, Woolf, Walker, Plath.
To keep us close or at a distance.

I remember that summer, running through a patch of low brush.
The tongues of stinging nettles devoured my bare toes.

The moment of laughter, just before. My brother beside me.
My mother’s on-again man trailing, chasing us.

I remember thick cream on milk in glass bottles that came
to our doorstep. Long, dull strolls on the heathered moors.

The big sky always near. The ripe scent of wool. I remember
my mother’s hands. I remember them in mine.

By Lee Peterson

Biography:

Lee Peterson is an American poet and educator. She is the author of Rooms and Fields: Dramatic Monologues from the War in Bosnia (The Kent State University Press), which won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. Peterson’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Arts & Letters, Bellingham Review, Faultline, North American Review, Nimrod International, Thrush, The Seattle Review, Salamander, Southern Humanities Review, and Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2018 River Styx International Poetry Contest.