Aspire By Sean Bates

Aspire

When the fireflies are whiskey drunk,
hovering like dust in the sun

I will catch fifty,
fit for a proper lantern.
And in the blue dusk,
I will set my jar of light in the window and walk

Out past clotheslines,
into the tall grass,
into meadow.
Keeping my one window
in sight, I run.

In rain
my tree is a watchtower
and I race to dry
beneath its lording boughs.

Maybe this year I will be tall,
tall enough to reach the first branch.
Maybe I will climb to the highest place,
look down on our house
and shake its eye
in my hands.

Yet this year still,
I stand
tip-toed on roots,
wild palms
full of rain.

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.

Note To My Surgeon By Will Walker

NOTE TO MY SURGEON

Not much to ask, and well within the powers
of your advanced and technological skills:

Doctor, give me back my youth––
but just the part I lack today, a working right knee

to do my bidding without complaint,
a willing servant to jump with joy

if called for, take me in the paint
for a tidy if contested lay-up, twist

full circle and let me take down
that agile halfback for no gain.

As for the hormones and hesitations,
the long nights of introspection,

intemperate outbursts, excessive
love of several drugs, and angry demands

for a perfect world in which I see
my name in lights, hit a jackpot

the size of a mansion in Beverly Hills,
and travel the world for conferences

with gurus, satraps, prime ministers,
and literati: I’m not demanding miracles.

Will settle for a functional body
and a little hand-holding from my health plan,

perhaps a no-interest payment scheme,
and a nice cold apple juice

when you’ve cut and stitched
and brought me back alive.

By Will Walker

Biography:

Will Walker received his bachelor’s degree in English history and literature from Harvard College. He has attended numerous writing workshops with Marie Howe, Thea Sullivan, Gail Mazur, Robert Pinsky, Alan Shapiro, and Mark Doty. He was also an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. Will Walker’s work has appeared in Alabama Literary Review, Apricity Magazine, Bark, Blue, Blue Lake Review, BoomerLitMag, Broken Plate, Burningword, Chagrin River Review, Common Ground Review, and more. His chapbook, Carrying Water, was published by Pudding House Press, and his full-length collection, Wednesday After Lunch, is a Blue Light Press Book Award Winner (2008).

April Mugsauce By Olivia Lee

April Mugsauce

i.

sound of sadness seeping from
the shuttered window
children stuck inside their yellow boxes:
all the summer gone with april rain
and television screens.

ii.

bubbled dripping april mugsauce of
a monday morning: camera emptied
of its teachers. left to ponder
the contents of the yellow cupping glass
like little chickens on a windowsill
turned abstract by this time
my cup runneth over.

iii.

small defatted squabble with
the crouching mother on the stairs:
listens for the sound of cabinets
not even mice are home

iv.

little clasping memory of yarn and
pinking fingers: must have been the best of friends,
the letter swears and reaches silent from the window
please write back

but
i have already forgotten
the shape of her embrace.

By Olivia Lee

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.

Four Portals Out Of The World’s Longest Lockdown By inklingfair

Four Portals Out Of The World’s Longest Lockdown

I.

This is confession.
This is the fall, anther at the bower
the tongue tip lent
to wrist, to pulse
the warp and weft limbs
invent
little deaths at waking-hour.

II.

This is gravity.
This is descent: my rock to this earth,
my debt of weight
to its core.
the irrevocable pull this satellite creates
drawing water to its shore.

III.

This is delight.
This: peeling off linen strips, liniment
staining stitches, the imminent
sting, bliss tripping across
skin, fire-footed
ant parade, this
confetti of pain.

IV.

This is the canvas.
This is the sketch: the soundless sleeping
void pierced
with livid blooms
worlds wrapped in dreaming
sightless in their wombs.

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.

Bleed Again By Rebekah Barker

Bleed Again

If something must be shattered,
give it to a child —
barefoot, wailing,
fragile mother: kneeling.

A glass, a bowl, a plate,
a soul,
as we grow,
we dispose.

Sweep, weep, sleep,
shards remain,
new grains
on old ground.

Cover your hands, child;
one day you’ll know.

Rise up, Grown-up.
It’s time to bleed
again.

By Rebekah Barker

Biography:

Rebekah Barker is a graduate student at North Carolina State University, where she studies English literature. In her free time, she enjoys creative writing, reading, and tending to her growing family of plants.

Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Half-Day Tour, from Seoul, 2019 By John Paul Calavitta-Dos Santos

Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Half-Day Tour, from Seoul, 2019

Pomegranate grandeur of death –Sitwell

Take the special train from Seoul
to DMZ painted cartoon animals, winged dragons
beyond the light; hundreds of buses, soldiers,
spirits arriving each day to meet your guide,

N. Korean defector whichmeans a helmet of
Invisibility.
Stamp your passports with pretend N Korean stamps
to the underworld, won’t be recognized
immediately but fun to have.

Stand in line to pay Charon—
ur in a war zone now.
See people farming through high powered binocs;
See a model N. Korean city / propaganda village.

To the east electrified fences, landmines
hid in the forest—defuse them.
Listen,
the sirens are silenced, sometimes they tell the people
they are poor because of the US.

Here. Put this helmet on. We are in
deeper than good will will allow;
cross the rubble / go down a tunnel built by
the N. to invade Seoul.

Take the third tunnel on the left. Nothing
to see down here really. Look around,
(dynamite marks). Stop.
strangers. lovers. gods.

Arms of stone press your body against rough walls

I’m glued to Pluto’s cave;

whichmeans there’s an allegory here.
When you reach the bottom, a door, flowers
locked

outside. Don’t enter. When you leave
the tunnel train stations link South to North
for unification, waiting for people waiting in the future.

Coming out of Hades ascend through
a dark tunnel. He kissed me/them.
Sirens weeping…
its no myth.

By John Paul Calavitta-Dos Santos

Biography:

John Paul Calavitta-Dos Santos earned his MFA in creative writing and his PhD in Literature from the University of Washington. His current work draws upon Yelp and Trip Advisor Reviews to critique histories of tourism, orientalism and colonialism, racism and heterosexism. His work has appeared in the LA Review, Found Poetry Review, AGNI, Fjords, among others.

Lessons I Will Try to Teach You By Sophia Rose Smith

Lessons I Will Try to Teach You

You, son,
It’s time you learned.
We are made halved by the things we love:
Open pieces and broken fragments
Shining in the cold rarity of the mind.
When you are split down the middle
You will spool out and stretch into bundles
Braided into the plaits of your hair–
Until it will all fall away.

You, son,
You December
Pulsing into the lamplighter’s evenings,
Red clouds smoldering in dusk’s blue horizon.
When you fall over the tensed shoulders of the mountains
There is no getting up.
You are not the sun.
When you watch the morning unsheathe herself from the night,
You will murmur your undoings
Like the melody of a drum beat.
Like all the senseless mortal murmurings before.

Still, I can’t describe the taste to one so young,
So I will say that it will taste like metal,
Like a jar of nickels–
You know,
The ones grandpa stored on his shelves
And paid you to slip into sleeves.
Remember those mornings,
Your small hands all skinfolds and blueberry jam,
Shaking the coins across the rug?
I wish I had the strength to tell you it would taste like
Gunpowder, like the frozen stare of a deer up a cocked rifle.
But you will know one day.
You will.

By Sophia Rose Smith

Biography:

Sophia Rose Smith is the People Editor for her highschool’s newspaper and founder of Binsey Poplar Press. When she’s not writing, she practices calligraphy and volunteers. Her writing is forthcoming in or has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Blue Marble Review, The Daphne Review, and Schola Cantorum’s poetry-to-music contest.

When Grieving, Do (Not) Follow These Instructions By Praise Osawaru

When Grieving, Do (Not) Follow These Instructions

x.

revisit the deceased’s place of death / transcendence
& envisage their last moment –
a stillness, & quaff of an endsome air as the heart quietens.

x.

gift their sprit an act of kindness by
committing their days of quietus to heart;
a blade mark on the wall of your body
for every passing day.

x.

deprive yourself of conversations with the living
& submerse in the darkness of an unlit room
like it’s a hot tub liberating you from people’s touch.                                            

x.

permit your stomach the voidness you experience.
let it too rehearse absence like the night’s sky
when moonless.

x.

drain your slumber into the maw of desolation
& contemplate the friendliness of gravity
from your window.

By Praise Osawaru

Biography:

Praise Osawaru is a writer and (performance) poet of Bini descent. He’s a Best of the Net nominee with works appearing/forthcoming in Blue Marble Review, FERAL, Ghost Heart Literary Journal, Glass Poetry, Kalahari Review, Serotonin, Sub-Saharan Magazine, and elsewhere. He was longlisted for Babishai 2020 Haiku Award and shortlisted for the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize 2020. You can find him on Instagram/Twitter: @wordsmithpraise.