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.

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.