UNITY AND FAITH, PEACE AND PROGRESS? By Adrian David

UNITY AND FAITH, PEACE AND PROGRESS?

A nation built on the tenets of
unity and faith, peace and progress,
has been ripped apart by tyranny.
What was white has now become red.
The very spirit of Nigeria is dead.

Trembling in mortal fear amid curfews,
never has being alive been this hard.
Taking to the streets for justice,
seeing the streets become graveyards.
Where is the unity?

Is it a crime to be young and modern?
Go ask the dead boy who drove an SUV.
Those thought to be guardian angels
turned out to be demons incarnate.
Where is the faith?

The rooster’s crow is no more heard,
as shrill gunshots beckon the day.
The protesting voices sang the anthem.
But now, their epitaphs are recited.
Where is the peace?

Sixty ripe years of independence
boiled down to mean little to nothing.
Enslaved by the colonizers, then.
And now, by a ruthless police state.
Where is the progress?

In memory of the victims of the Lekki massacre in Nigeria

By Adrian David

Biography:

Adrian David writes ads by day, and poetry and short fiction by night. His poems explore themes of society, conflict, peace, and everything else in between, from the mundane to the sublime.

There is something fucking awesome about Billy Joel By AJ Schmitz

There is something fucking awesome about Billy Joel

for Wes

You once said this,
and meant it
at the time—
But I was
wrecked
by it
Seeing those words
while the Detroit Cobras
devastated my ear drums
so loud they blurred
but not enough to
make me ignore the
similarity to
“Teenager in Love”
Diner, simmering on the stove
High Life coursing through my heart.

I needed to go to you
to embrace you
to kiss you;
Call you my brother because
Brother:
there is something fucking awesome about Billy Joel—
Not his voice
or the melodies that
break skin;
Not because his canon
is crammed with bar-room songs
we croon;
But because my mother
loved him &
None of his songs were
featured in her
funeral montage;
& Because I haven’t
been able to
hear him since
But—
you listened &
felt the same way

By AJ Schmitz

Biography:

AJ Schmitz is a writer and teacher who has moved far too many times. Originally from Los Angeles, he has traipsed back and forth across the country with his wife and two cats, earning a Doctorate in PA, collecting tattoos in Fort Worth, and settling in South Bend, IN., all while teaching high schoolers and college kids about literature and life. He has several poems published in and around the internet and a chapbook available through Red Flag Poetry.

Make America Great Again By Sean Lause

Make America Great Again

The house is a shrug with cataract windows.
A wall surrounds it, broken with fears.
Out back there’s someone in a cage.

There’s an attic where a scream abides,
a grandfather clock chock full of secrets.
A mob is coming up the road.

Father Shotgun’s in his rocker.Aunt Shivers glares her hypodermic eyes
at the mourners she sees hiding in the mirror.

Rusted through, the stoveheart of this house.
The television glows in cancer blue,
the floorboards spreading red a stain.

The mother, pock-marked in hate,
sings Amazing Grace so she won’t faint.
Outside, torches chant the night.

The Deputy descends to the cellar,
his flashlight a halo in Hell.
The time has come, there’s no escape…

There’s someone in the doorway taking notes.

By Sean Lause

Biography:

Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Beloit Poetry Journal and Illuminations.

Early Morning in Mesquite Flat By Emily L. Pate

Early Morning in Mesquite Flat

Dawn rises hot, casting morning
so bright it sparks sharp
across the sand dunes,
each an excavation of passing night,
cut with the long belly-lines
of snakes hunting the dark.
Under a mesquite tree,
kangaroo-rat tracks meet
a serpent-curve in a thrash
of displaced erosion. Only the snake-line
slices away from the tree’s fine-boned
shadow. Out here, heat is rattlesnake-hungry,
biting against shade and satiation,
eating sky and sand until
they’re just as wanting. In 1931,
a movie crew found a miner’s corpse
near here, halfway between town and water,
compassed toward a spring he never
reached. Over the hill, that dead town
is time-eaten to a train station
and heaps of half-flat tin cans
taking on rust. A façade is all that’s left
of the newspaper building, blue hurting
behind empty windows.
Next-door sleeps the graveyard,
where ghosts of plaster and chicken wire
curve over absent bodies. One holds
the skeleton of a bicycle, head bent,
its paper mâché hollowness
only another kind of weight.

By Emily L. Pate

Biography:

Emily L. Pate is a writer, avid traveler, and collector/over-sharer of bizarre facts. Born and raised in California, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. Her poetry and travel writing have appeared in Funicular Magazine, Willawaw Journal, and The Northwest Passage, and Blending Magazine. She can be found at emilylpate.com.

all body love By Sara Boyd

all body love

imagine—
hers is a whole world and all body kind of love,
alive no matter what the world does. taking
up space despite what the world wants.
unafraid, authentic: undaunted by judgment.

after death.
beyond this atmosphere, this raw
and decaying earth, you are with her. she
is tinted in you like a soul stain by sheer force
of will and want. you must interrupt the still air
and speak these love truths now and then, form
each sentence from broken breath, and teach
your lips to breathe and speak the same language.

soon, even the worst night dreams will vanish
to cut the night open, spilling out old stars
our hemisphere blocked. these constellations
ordain our fate in pinpricks, spelling new
horoscopes in elegant prose untouched
by this earth and the people in it. more
lifetimes than most to make up for lost time.
still not enough. not nearly enough. still you must

believe—
hers is a whole world and all body kind of love.
at night when you trace the smooth curve
of her hips, when you say you love her,
even mad, and mean it, you will not be a lone
person. more than one. a soul-bond. timeless.

By Sara Boyd

Biography:

Sara Boyd (she/her) is a budding poet interested in exploring the relationship between the material body and the living earth. Her life is split between two polar regions of Appalachia: Tennessee and Pennsylvania. She hopes to understand the nerve-endings of Southern Appalachian identity in her work while finishing the final year of her undergraduate degree at Lehigh University.

ABSTRACT By Charles Duffie

ABSTRACT

I’ve turned being awake into a practice,
hear the rain’s soft approach and feel called,
God throwing pebbles at the window.

My wife stirs as I pat the dark to find
yesterday’s jeans, yesterday’s socks,
a sweater branded with yesterday’s job.

The rain is loud on the sunroom’s metal roof.
I stand back from the tall windows like a man
trying to appreciate an abstract painting,

the lower thirds Rothko’d with leafy black,
the sky’s translucent darkness layered above
and Pollack’d with wires and a gap of stars.

The Metro sounds lonely as a freight train.
I remember being inside those bright rectangles,
speeding west, heads bowed as if in prayer.

By Charles Duffie

Biography:

Charles Duffie is a writer working in the Los Angeles area. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review of Books, So It Goes (The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library), Anastamos, Bacopa Literary Review, Prime Number Magazine, Exposition Review, Mojave River Press, Meat for Tea, Heavy Feather Review, FlashBack Fiction, Riggwelter, and American Fiction by New Rivers Press.

Wartime Ghazal By Angela Gabrielle Fabunan

Wartime Ghazal

Illusion, the thought that you could go on
as you did in peacetime—in your house
watching the news without notice
complacently not knowing that
this is a time of war.

Who knows what war is
when you’re not affected, yet
at your doorstep, on your streets,
in your homes and in your cities,
it comes knocking: this is a time of war.

Who could care about new shoes, now
that lives are at stake, never forget,
know your enemy, know who you are
in this time of war.

What brought us here, where we stand
in a nationhood that was never solidified
into what could have been, what is a
Filipino in a time of war?

A fighting spirit that believes in principle,
in the dignity of human lives,
in reclaiming what’s been lost to us
because of this time of war.

By the window, the artists look
at the situation and gage:
yes, this is a time of war.

Pity the illustrado that cannot look
at his own shadow. A poem will never
start a war, but the ultimate farewell
of words do not bring about peace, either:
This is a time of war.

By Angela Gabrielle Fabunan

A Letter to Mata Hari, dead at 41 By Cierra Lowe

A Letter to Mata Hari, dead at 41

I can envision your pilot,
roiling within his apartment that
mourning—despicably
frying eggs and renouncing
your conception. As if
your essence was merely insult
to his injury.

I bet you were born on Rosh Hashanah.
I bet you used a rib as a hatpin.
I bet that those twelve barrels seemed a curious affection
as they peered upon you—
and so you blew a kiss
to the firing squad.

You were made deaf by
God’s silence.
It was bullets that made love to
your body for the last time.
They say you wore white gloves.
They say you kept your face to the sky.

As blood wept from your abdomen,
it gathered around you like still-blind
offspring, hungry for its mother.
You were 41—with legs curled
beneath you like an impossible
chair—when you fatally birthed
the first Rorschach test: to France,
it looked like moral ambiguity.
To Maslov, it looked like insubordination.
To your creator, it looked like spilled ink.

This poem was previously published in Dime Show Review.

By Cierra Lowe

Biography:

Cierra Lowe is a poet and half-assed artist living in St. Louis, Missouri. She received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Webster University, and is currently pursuing her BSN at University of Missouri – St. Louis. She self-published her first full-length collection—The Horse and the Water—in 2016, and is currently working on her second. When she isn’t trying to poison her husband with undercooked meats, Cierra enjoys compulsively organizing her belongings, changing lanes in intersections, and monitoring planetary motions. She is currently working on a series of letters to female sex symbols who have tragic ends, and well as an uncomfortable collection of interviews. She looks forward to even-numbered years, and her work has previously appeared in Bad Jacket.

716.4 mi. or Sometimes I Get Dizzy Because a Stranger in the Supermarket Smells like Colgate Toothpaste and Black Coffee By Kristian Porter

716.4 mi. or Sometimes I Get Dizzy Because a Stranger in the Supermarket Smells like Colgate Toothpaste and Black Coffee

We are a taffy pull,
a tango with tired feet,
a never fully unpacked suitcase.

Two years ago, we met in the middle,
two sets of shaky, familiar hands,
and I’ve been running to you ever since.

Through a bus window somewhere in Wisconsin,
I watch billboards for cheese and clean gas station bathrooms blur together, a space inside me hollowing,
scattered pieces leaving a trail down I-90.

Every mile marker a field of dandelions,
I close my eyes and blow.

Crying in an airport isn’t like crying for real.

I remove my shoes, a mosaic of myself
on the metal detector screen,
but no one stops me.

I want to bury myself in your bed and melt into its seams,
so tired of ripping myself out by the roots.

I check the weather where you are,
desperate to connect our dots.
Cincinnati is shining, but storm clouds cover Minneapolis.

How jealous I am of the rain and its nearness to you.
My toothbrush sits on your bathroom counter,
dry.

My hands reach out and find nothing
but discarded calendar pages,
red x’s bleeding all over the sheets.

By Kristian Porter

Biography:

Kristian Porter is a 23-year-old writer who just moved to Minneapolis from Cincinnati and is still adjusting. By day, she works as a copywriter for a marketing agency. By night, she writes poems about distance, alcohol, and all the places that feel like home. When she’s not writing, she’s probably watching cooking shows with her three cats or wandering aimlessly around a bookstore. She has been previously published by Words Dance Publishing and is currently working on her first poetry collection.

LUCKY By Abby Caplin

LUCKY

This morning a small moth got caught up
in my hands, its body leaving a smudge
of brown powder on the wrinkled bedsheet

I was slapping out, the way you
taught me. I’m lucky, born twelve
years after your cousins worked

a Lithuanian forest with shovels, gunshot-
tumbled into the pit, earth moving for days
with those still alive, like restless

children beneath a blanket. I’m sixty-five,
two years older than you when you had
your surgery— tubes draining yellow fluid

from your belly, the raw meaty gap
of your gauze-packed incision.
Nurses changed port dressings,

IV tubing, infusions, bile-filled
ileostomy bags, and your night nurse
rocked you in bed as you begged

for your mother, cowering from dog-sized
insects on the ceiling. I get it now.
Already the California sky has turned

an orange I’ve never seen before,
and that marvelous idea you loved to tell
your civics students about is cracking and falling

sideways, like those sand towers we once
carefully slid from paper cups, guarding them
from breakers, until we couldn’t.

By Abby Caplin

Biography:

Abby Caplin’s poems have appeared in AGNI, Catamaran, Love’s Executive Order, Manhattanville Review, Midwest Quarterly, Salt Hill, TSR: The Southampton Review, Tikkun, and elsewhere. Among her awards, she has been a finalist for the Rash Award in Poetry, semi-finalist for the Willow Run Poetry Book Award, finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award, and a winner of the San Francisco Poets Eleven. She is a physician and practices mind-body medicine in San Francisco. http://abbycaplin.com