The Pangolin Review — Issue 18, 30 April 2021

Part 3: K to R (first alphabet of first name of poet)

K

Warren, a Ghostly Infatuation

JoJo the Poet has been strumming, longing

for Zevon-from-the-Beyond, his shit’s-

fucked-up honesty and impeccable picking,

his what-the-fuck genius acoustic—

ah, JoJo is mojoing envy for his fingertips,

his moxie-lyrics accessible yet

on YouTube, still shareable: his truth.

The shit that used to work, it won’t work now.

JoJo faces his dexterous touches, finishes

frontally, how it is with such bad boys.

 

Karla Linn Merrifield has had 800+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the newly released full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. She is currently at work on a poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars; the book is slated to be published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Virtual Fling

 

Every spring, the awakening of the

sleeping Akebono cherry trees unfolds

like clockwork bringing thousands to

Portland’s Waterfront Park.

 

Cherry blossom aficionados come out

to gaze at the stunning lush canopy of

delicate pink and white blossoms along

the riverside gem.

 

Lockdown meant there were no crowds,

no annual family spring outings and smiling

selfie poses along the tree-lined walkways

popping with pink and white petals.

 

Cherry blossom diehards self-isolating

at home watch the glorious blooms usher

in spring from the comfort of home with

a virtual tour.

 

Will this be the new normal in 2021?

Let’s hope and pray not.

 

Katacha Díaz is a Peruvian American writer. Her prose and poetry has been internationally published in literary journals, print and online magazines, and anthologies. She lives and writes up in her perch in a quaint little historic town at the mouth of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, USA.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Other Element (Too Base to Show Its Head),

 

risks us too much should we leak it, whether

alone, we think, or we join a number, a search

and seize platoon deep within logical grounds.

 

We risk our loved ones too if observed as such.

 

When I conjure it singly I amass bewilderment;

when I see myself in any reflection I see angst;

if I express my angst to other platoon members,

I clinch a wish fulfilled, the other element arises.

 

That its rising may soon occur unbid, should its

meaning now be clear, and so promptly revealed,

to all? No, the platoon still fears dispute at best,

or rebuke in the public sphere; is yet to spot it,

much less to seize and to destroy its barbicans.

 

I must defer mine to the public will, to bow to

firmer measures of credibility as, nonetheless

goose steps to a niggling diesel engine’s chatter

to pollute representative government, a smoke

to conceal any compromise agreement whether

for my opponent or me, his enemy. Incognito

then, the other element persists unspoken truth

 

Mr. Trump works to make America great again.

 

Mr. Trump will be indicted and arraigned in law.

 

In his politics, Mr. Trump needs only our hatred.

 

Keith Moul writes poems and takes photos, doing both for more than 50 years. He concentrates on empirical moments in time, recognizing that the world will be somewhat different at the same place that today inspires him. His work appears around the world.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

dangerous wind

it is a dangerous wind

comes out of nowhere

catches you

unprepared

 

drops from the sky

a cold shadow

full of grit and sorrow

 

rubs your face

against the past.

 

it is a dangerous wind.

not what you expected.

tastes bitter. smells

of unwashed lonely

 

shoves you down blind

alleys, handcuffed, dark

country roads

where the night feeds

 

and there is

no coming back.

 

Ken Cathers as a B.A. from the University of Victoria and an M.A. from York University in Toronto. He has been published in numerous periodicals, anthologies as well as seven books of poetry, most recently Letters From the Old Country with Ekstasis Press. He lives on Vancouver Island with his family in a small colony of trees.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The last letter

 

I have read your letter

and was expecting

to lament me by lovely words like before,

expecting to feel ecstasy!

the hand of love word combs

the block and cold season of my curly hair!

 

the first word:

hi, but cold and numb,

 

the content: cold as ice!

why didn’t I die! I don’t know, maybe it’s true that:

“the lover is so hardcore”.

 

the last line, was sea of grief

such a pretty garden turned into autumn frost,

garden of heart faded to autumn.

go… go…, best wishes

but the lover’s heart is breakable and a sufferer

of the chronic pain of parting!

 

Khaled Chalabi, an Instructor and Translator and Assistant Lecturer in Cihan University of Arbil, Iraq, is born in Boukan in Kurdistan of Iran in 1983. He has been teaching English as an instructor for 10 years in the Universities of Boukan, Bane and Mahabad and translated lots of Kurdish poems into English and vice versa. Some of his works are published in different magazines in London, Ireland, Iran, and Iraq.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

L

 

Release

 

I sat still today,

a dangerous split from all things

unhealthy, and I wondered what

I would think about

without

instantaneous eye-catching mobile

updates

memes

refreshed feeds.

 

My tongue tasted the emptiness.

My eyes — at first skittish —

and averting,

began to rest,

stare even — to the discomfort

of those around me. Like watching a

 

gasping fish, long dry,

soaking up an unrecognizable world,

somehow familiar …

painted in …

fuchsia.

 

Larissa Peters just moved to California after living on the East Coast for over 10 years — in the middle of a pandemic. This is only one of the many cities she has lived in the last 40 years. She has a BA in English and gets to use some of it for the relief and development organization she works for. She loves travelling, reading, writing, and meeting both new people and literature.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Abandoned Tarnished Knobs

 

Pungent was the cellar, with misremembered tales

 

Archives of iffy records resurface

 

Like the wood grain from a worn coat of gloss paint

 

Heavy ossuaries bear the nothingness

 

But we know a cheery essence found abode here

 

The battered couch and tarnished door knobs told me

 

Lydia Chapman is a young poet who has found a love for poetry through experience in nature and relationship dynamics. She has been published in 50-Word Stories, Plum Tree Tavern, and Potato Soup Journal among others.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

In The Beginning

 

Before my first breath

in the body I brought to life

 

Before my first thought

in the mind that I shaped

 

Before the forming

of the continents

that I dreamed

 

Before the rolling

of the seas that I formed

 

Before the rising

of the mountains

that I willed into place

Before the flinging

of the clouds into

the known/unknown

 

I placed a trillion

planets and stars

into the sky

 

made them

dance with each other

and created day

created night

 

Leslie Dianne is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama in New York City. Her stage plays have been produced in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and The Lamb's Theater. She holds a BA in French Literature from CUNY and her poems have appeared in The Lake, Ghost City Review, The Literary Yard, About Place Journal and Kairos and are forthcoming in Hawai’i Review. Her poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

more than this body

don’t objectify me

i am more than this body,

and catcalling will never

be flattery;

 

compliment me on my

strength, my intellect,

my creativity, my taste

in music, the way i speak,

or my art—

 

don’t expect me

to swoon over someone

who only sees me

for my body,

 

completely ignoring my soul;

 

because i won’t divorce

my soul from my body

for anyone’s entertainment—

 

cannot accept my naked soul?

then i won’t give you the fundamentals

in the mythology of me or the

language of my soul.

 

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

husband

 

at night their lamplight strikes us blind,

straight into our kitchen window,

an automatic annoyance

to accompany the noise they deliver through our walls.

he creeps from their home in the black of 6am,

too dark to see his misery, his face

dragged to the ground with the weight of his children.

summers bring his wife’s shriek from the window

for him to come inside,

even though the evening brings a breeze

and the relieving pointless chat from a neighbour.

his life is switched on like an automatic light.

blinding. unforgiving. insisting

that he wakes and moves,

be the damn husband he is supposed to be.

turns off only at night for him to sleep on demand,

so he can wake in the darkness,

stumble to his car, and start it all, again.

a morning dog barks,

the only acknowledgement

that he is here;

and the stray cats that rush to the biscuits

he throws around his feet.

 

Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry has been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, London Grip, The High Window, Panoplyzine, Channel, HCE Magazine, and The Fenland Reed. You can find Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Hurricane Heart

 

You know the ways

To cool down the hurricane

My skilled attributes fail to tackle it in a frame

You, in a blink of second

Blanched the sky with your rain

The storm in me shrieks

My composure creaks

You, with a tap

Fragrant the air and grasp the fire

The thunder scrolls me to shout

I am addicted to be loud

You, with your shower

Cooled me down

Made me ready to flow with the tide

You came as a light

Like a fairy in the midnight

To make me think about you day and night.

My hurricane heart is aware of these

You know the breach.

Suavely handles the glitch.

 

Lopamudra Mishra resides in Bhubaneswar Orissa. She completed her graduation in English Hons from Sailabala Women’s college, Cuttack and post–graduation in English from Ravenshaw University, Cuttack. Her fascination for writing came from her grandfather and father from an early age. Writing for her is the powerful medium of expression. Her poems have been published in many magazines and anthologies. She is a contemporary writer, poet, blogger and an editor. Her works include her very own published books - Rhyme Of Rain, First Rain, Tingling Parables, Rivulet Of Emotions.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Forever, Susan Lily

 

Archetypal clusters of Forever Susan Lily

bulbs arrived in the mail

cushioned with hoary moss

dusty bulbs and dry Iris corms.

Every single one will have a winter's nap.

 

Forever Susan Asiatic Lilies

glorious manifestations beside

Hyacinth mix of purple and pink.

I imagine them thriving next spring.

 

Just think, How does Mother Nature

keep bulbs in frozen soil? I know she's

laughing at winter snowstorms.

 

My pipe dream endures for

Nature has perfect timing in her

ornate drawers of dreams-come-true.

Purple Dusky Challengers with black beards

quivering and tall.

Representative ambassadors

singing life-force.

 

That is who you are

underground secrets of winter.

Victorious prize-winners

warbles in secretive clusters.

Xerophytic, ferns asleep in rocks and rubble

yearnings by washed-out pathways when it's

zero degrees in the sunshine.

 

Lynda McKinney Lambert is a retired college professor of fine arts and humanities. Retirement from teaching opened the door for her to write full-time. Lynda explores the themes of landscape, mythology, pilgrimage, fine arts and literature in her writing.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

In the Poet’s Day

 

A shaft of light pierces through my eyes

Like a sharp blade slicing tender skin

I slowly open them up

to welcome a new day.

My eyes shake the hand of the first gleam of dawn and at that

moment they wipe off yesternight’s dreams, and flash off dead

tears and tangled memories. I sit up and yawn, stretch my mouth

like a cave, and shake my mind,

freeing it of all other tasks save

injecting pages with new ideas.

I sedate my working tools.

“Ink your quill; drop your madness…”

My mind says. I obey. I sit myself down

And start sewing verses.


Martin Chrispine Juwa is a teacher, social activist and writer of poems. He enjoys reading literary works and learning about human character and personality. He has in October, 2020, self-published his debut poetry book titled Drifting Smoke: An Anthology of Poetry. Martin has been published in various anthologies, magazines and journals such as Project Muse, JAYL (Issue 2), BNAP 2018 & 2019 Anthologies, LOCKDOWN 2020, On the Road Anthology, Childhood Anthology, Pensive Journal of Spirituality, The Poet Magazine, and many others. Two of his poems are translated into Spanish language and appear in the Libero America Journal: Contemporary African Poets.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

M

Nocturne

 

Blue blooded monarch, triple hearted, fluidly unspools

herself to wind then unwind

her reach stretching across the sea with the throbs of time.

 

Liquid sac of sentience, her mind feels through the dark deep.

The sea, with its perpetual twilight indigoed

from eons of volcanic floods and the endless silt of nameless rivers.

 

She is a rainbow of tactility with genes so wise she regenerates

herself at will, wearing the sea’s dreams

like a shy queen, changeling with her endless handkerchief drops.

 

Now, she glides through vast colonnades of graying membraned coral,

emptied and eerie with silence, seeking a darkened nest,

some sheltered crag to brood and birth her private treasure of tear dropped eggs.

 

Each tentacle as mindful as the next, she tastes the ocean’s burgeoning brine

and feels an odd prickle of silvery pressure

inescapable now for she is carried only so far by the currents.

 

Clinging to the rock face, she curtains her eggs in long, opalescent strings,

refreshing each globe with air,

before covering her clutch of eggs under her mantle.

 

She braids each glossy drop within the blanching bracelet of her arms

until she whitens into trembling tatters

that lace the drift and flow and settle upon the ocean bed’s remains.

 

Since she cannot, perhaps each lucent head, all innocent ebony eyes it seems, will rim

the waves and member and remember to entwine its genes

and find that sovereign, solitary gesture to save itself and so survive this age.

 

M. L. Lyons was awarded a Klepser fellowship in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. She co-edited Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workplace with Carolyne Wright and Eugenia Toledo. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart and most recently she received a scholarship to Hedgebrook writers residency.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Without Silence

 

I pay attention when silence breaks through,

a triumph over cell phone halfalogues,

a win snatched from devices that clean,

a respite from the travel of large vehicles,

a reprieve from pushing things loudly into place.

 

In the march to accomplish,

to go places I think I need to be,

to make pieces of myself fit together,

silence erodes into the noise

that slows the unfolding of blossoms.

 

It’s easy to treat noise

with more noise

until all is the loudest car horn,

then wonder why

silence chooses to settle elsewhere.

 

Without it,

a door shuts that needs to stay open,

things that float sink slightly,

the colors before me

lack full crispness.

 

Marianne Brems’s first poetry chapbook is Sliver of Change (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her second chapbook Unsung Offerings is forthcoming in 2021. Her poems have appeared in literary journals including The Pangolin Review, Nightingale & Sparrow, The Sunlight Press, and The Tiny Seed Literary Journal. She lives in Northern California. Website: www.mariannebrems.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Short Story of Us

 

If anything can be

said of us it is that we’re

blades of grass. We’ve

lived in our billions since

time began. Only

eighty-six ten thousands of a percent

of us will lift our heads above the

rest. We grow shoulder to shoulder,

a lawn that will be cut on a day

not of our choosing.

We dream of wildflower

meadows and hope for love. Some dreams

come true before

the end.

 

Maryalicia Post is a journalist and poet. Her website is at maryaliciapost.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Marooned

 

So pretend you’re marooned

on a deserted island

plenty of fish and fruits to keep you fed

shelter and warmth, nothing around

to harm you and you tossed your message-

in-a-bottle out beyond the waves

so it’s on its way to bringing a rescue party

so all you need do is wait, and wait.

And remind yourself that

it could be worse:

you could be trapped with the Donner party

in some frozen valley

in the Sierra Nevadas

or lost in a cave without any light

or trapped under a collapsed building

or stuck in the Amazon jungle surrounded

by angry natives

or marooned on Mars or the Moon

or imprisoned on Devil’s Island with no hope

of escaping into any future at all.

Yes it could be worse, it can always be worse.

 

Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

A Discussion in the Dark

 

I was slowly moving through darkness to warmth and a grand light

when God let in a flash of anxiety against her breast

welding her lungs into a scream of wheeze and then a snarl.

What had to be done had to be done.

 

The darkness flickered into birthday candles

and light blossomed into a rose, everything comfortable and sturdy.

As suddenly as I was cold, now I felt the heat of blankets.

This is how something ends to make something else begin.

 

We sat still in the room of nervousness Argus eyed,

the heat from the registers blasting. Silence became shadow.

Neither of us spoke; neither of us had to.

 

Then she stood, her eyes watery and luminous, one hand on her stomach

and I stood with her, unsteady, my muscles remembering, my memory remembering,

Once in awhile all one needs is a pause, then a thank you.

 

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Summer nights in Ann Arbor by Michael Hough & haiku by Christina Chin

 

I remember I lived in an apartment when the movie theme from “Shaft” was popular. The walls were thin, and we could hear just about everything the other people in the building were up to. In addition, there was a resonance factor to the structure of this particular building, so that the bass came through very strong. I would lie awake at night with the sounds of the couple below us, mixed with the bass line of this song from someone else’s apartment... ba bomp... bomp ba... bomp, and on and on.

 

I can’t find that house now. Maybe someone burnt it down…
People used to smoke everywhere there, in their beds, on the porch.
I’ve been walking so far, but I can’t remember how to go back.
It’s so cold, my feet are cold.

 

That must be an Owl, in the bare branches, asking
“Who looks for you!”
Maybe they painted the place. I might have walked right by.
If I could just hear the music again, or
That woman down the hall with
Her strange laugh…
I don’t know if that’s the moon, or a streetlight.

searching
for childhood home
winter moon

Michael Hough was born in 1948. He began writing poems and songs at the age of 8 and continued to study his craft his whole life. His favored poetic styles are song lyrics, sonnets, blank verse, free verse, Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and narrative poems. Christina Chin paints and writes haiku. She is 1st place winner in the 34th Annual Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival 2020 Contest. She won first prize in the 8th Setouchi Matsuyama 2019 Photo-Haiku Contest and two City Soka Saitama’s 2020 haiku prizes. Earned five merits in the World Haiku Review August 2020. She has been published in multilingual haiku journals and anthologies.

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

Surviving the Fog

(first published in Trouvaille Review)

 

What if I were to wake before the wild

turkey that roosts in the sycamore?

 

Would I look through dawn’s icy haze

to study her slowness to stand, shaking

 

the cold off feathers & stretching her

neck into that moment of flight—?

 

A conscious choice— to sail on-

to the snow-covered yard where

 

no bird or animal have left tracks

to the stillness of woods or orchard

 

with its toppled trees. I see wind

inside fog, whispering that it’s hard

 

to be pinned down to a semi-colon

of weather, which becomes another

 

choice, as it begins to snow.

M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 32 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

My Poetry

 

I was raised in the poetry of poverty

and as such I remained at the periphery

of places and pondered over meanings

that others could not notice but forever

brought forth one, only one, the least of

all considered and held back with patience

for my turn to talk, like in any gradable order

of events...

 

On certain occasions I was the last

to talk and many a time I did not, at each of

those times I departed places reasoning that

I have not squandered that one, that one meaning

I found, for poverty is all about being deprived,

and on instances I talked, they read it otherwise

and on occasion with indifference, having been

accustomed to such, still out of human instinct

I awaited concurrence but they were benevolent

enough to smile and move ahead.

 

In time, I perceived they had no ill-will towards

me but on the contrary they were raised in the poetry

of wealth, and my lone thoughts never ran into their

manifold thoughts, while I remained at the periphery

of places mindful of my fall over the edges and marveled

at the multiplicities of meanings they clothed life with.

 

Mini Babu is working as Assistant Professor of English with the Dept. of Collegiate Education, Govt. of Kerala and now working at BJM Govt. College, Chavara, Kollam. Her poems have featured in journals and magazines. Her debut collection of poems is Kaleidoscope (2020)

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

N

 

Untitled

 

While you wait for the music to open like a flower,

it is waiting for you to open yourself

to the air from which it is made: this air is you,

the best part of you, the part that is music,

so that your air and the air of music

can mingle like angels mingle with the sky,

or like a tiger that becomes one with the jungle,

or like a torch in the hands of a worshipper,

one with mystery,

or, like Persephone becomes one with the gate

through which she must walk to Hades.

 

Listen: a torch of music, purple like a hyacinth in early spring,

Look: I am tone deaf, yet I beg for a song

that will carry me from spring to summer,

from summer to early autumn and then to death,

No, not the foam of Aphrodite but Demeter’s purple torch,

the mingling of the air and time at the instant

when the daughter and the mother are one,

when the mother becomes the daughter

and the daughter becomes an adult,

and the mother’s longing for the daughter,

and the daughter’s parting from the mother

makes flowers everywhere bloom and wither, flower and wilt:

It is open now, the gap in the air that will make you one with the music.

Do not resist it! Be silent! Carry the purple torch!

 

Moscow born Nina Kossman is a bilingual writer, poet, translator of Russian poetry, painter, and playwright. Among her published works are three books of poems in Russian and in English, two volumes of translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems, two books of short stories, an anthology she edited for Oxford University Press, several plays, and a novel. Her work has been translated into Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian, and Spanish. She received a UNESCO/PEN Short Story Award, an NEA fellowship, and grants from Foundation for Hellenic Culture, the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and Fundación Valparaíso. She lives in New York.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

A Place I Know

 

Several years I dreamed parents’

ghosts, Mother pointing skyward

afraid I flew too high, at dusk my

father and I wandering the fields

to glean. Abandoned trees grew

tall, a jungle devouring a palace,

or on its own does the farmhouse

lean into deeper shadow? Upstairs

parents’ parents still there? Those

I love lost their smiles at 40, gave

birth from marriage beds, doctor’s

Model T half a buggy. Old farmers

wore two hats, unstained to town,

other long story of weather. Axes,

two-man saws hung on barn wall

said giants chopped a forest down.

Soon new owners will take oaks,

blind windows for mile waves of

almonds, the white petals drifting

before plums bloom. Day a mink

bit Rollo my grandfather and he

caught 100 perch for the fish fry.

One died young, one watched five

wars, men walk that quarter moon.

Today the Earth feels like a moon,

this weak gravity and thinning air,

Dark Side without contrail or flash,

cold morning shower of meteors.

 

Nels Hanson grew up on a small farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California and has worked as a farmer, teacher and contract writer/editor. His fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016, and poems received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize, and 2015 and 2016 Best of the Net nominations.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Chimera

(For the hours spent with Tannistha in the premises of Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad, Telangana)

 

Between Maghrib and Isha that day,

we may have sailed through

the ambiguity of linguistic living.

 

My consciousness-- no, not my rooh,

but my khudi-- may have taken flight

at the Muezzin’s call. It may

 

or may not have flitted out

of my brown pupils, past

the borders of our bodies,

 

past the granite solidity around,

past chai-sellers, dream-vendors,

and high minarets in ochre and gold.

 

It may or may not have overseen

our covered-heads leaning

into each other, the pink of my dupatta

 

touching the blue of yours, before

swooping back to the ground

to where we were. Between

 

Maghrib and Isha that evening,

we may or may not have

lived an illusion.

 

The recipient of Nissim International Poetry Prize II 2020, Nikita Parik holds a Master’s in Linguistics, a three year diploma in French, and another Master’s in English. Diacritics of Desire (2019) is her debut book of poems, followed by Amour and Apocalypse (2020), a novel in translation. She was the former Assistant Editor of Ethos Literary Journal, and currently edits EKL Review. Her works have appeared in Rattle, U City Review, The Alipore Post, Vayavya, The Bombay Literary Magazine, Bengaluru Review, and others.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Kachina

 

Come into my home

and I will dwell in yours

You are my brother

the air

and my daughter

the sea

 

We stand on the edge

of this dream,

guarding the gate

to the spirit world

Accepting souls from here

Guiding them to there

 

For this world is one being

The eyes see the universe

even though they be closed

 

Norman Cristofoli has published several chapbooks of poetry/prose plus two audio compilations of spoken word performances. He published the Labour of Love literary magazine for 25 years and was the co-founder of the Coffeehouse artist networking site. His play The Pub and a new book of poetry Relinquishing the Past were both published in 2020.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Envy

 

Dark green skin,

lying coiled, like a Mamba

ready to strike, sinking its

venomous fangs deep.

 

You are the primary color

of human emotion. Ready

to burst forth in angry reds

and hateful blacks.

 

The depths of the soul hides

you like a fire pit concealing

smouldering embers, ready

to erupt in raging flames

consuming friend and foe alike.

 

Oliver McKeithan is a poet and semi-retired pharmacist who is also a want to be musician. Oliver plays bodhran in an Irish session group and is inspired to write by listening to Celtic music. He enjoys bicycling and living the rural life on ten acres of land in Pennsylvania with his wife and two Border Collies.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

P

 

Waiting

 

Thump! Thump!

The walking stick

taps on the floor.

A man fixes his eyes

on his spouse as she

hands a paper note

to a girl sitting behind a glass.

The couple sits down.

What am I doing here?” he asks.

His long-time spouse

whispers a reply. They wait

until his name is called.

“That’s you,” she says.

He stands.

But doesn’t know where to go.

The woman takes his hand,

leading him down the hall

to an open room.

Today, she walks away alone.

 

Pat St. Pierre is an author of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her fourth poetry chapbook will be published in 2010. She is widely published both online and in print. Some of her poems have been published in Three Line Poetry, The Pangolin Review, Scarlet Leaf River, Highland Park Poetry, namely. Her fiction and nonfiction have also been widely published while her photography has adorned the covers and pages of Mountain Tales Press, Minute Magazine, Poetry Pacific, Touch Journal, Plants and Flowers and others. Her blog is www.pstpierre.wordpress.com.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

What Is Heaven?

 

Heaven is a gambler’s fallacy. Or

heaven’s gamble is a delusion.

Or the delusion is heaven’s betting,

placers and placed, heaven grants all of it,

heaven is a gambler’s fallacy.

Or the delusion is heaven’s dice game,

which it rolled itself, heaven is a crap shoot.

Or the delusion is heaven’s slots—

heaven, and delusion, one

gamblers won. Or its wager is heaven’s

gamble, or the risk of the wager just

a risk, heaven a gambler’s fallacy.

Or the matter of heaven’s wager is a function

of hell, the function of the gamble. But heaven

has a stake, within the soul, the roll

of our dice, heaven is a gamble, heaven

is a gamble for the gambler. For players, and prayers,

and sinners, and saints, they have cards and dice

and slots and wheels, for gambles they have

the algorithms they are made of, as if

each gambling man were a heaven, made

of cash and coin, like Mammon, and one

could redeem oneself—as if the gambler

were a god, who could redeem heaven, a god

of godless gambles.

 

Patricia N. McLaughlin is a writer of multiple genres, including prize-winning children’s literature and flash fiction. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon and has taught at several esteemed colleges and universities, earning awards for distinguished service and teaching excellence. Her first collection of poetry, The Hierophant, was published in 2020. She makes her home in Knoxville, Tennessee, with her spouse, Trish, and their miniature dachshund, Lexi.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

On the Edge

 

The summer swelters

I’m almost 18

crammed into someone’s car

 

windows down

tires squealing

hysterical

 

at the sight

of our city’s icon

the downtown mural

 

of two beer cans

flanking a Budweiser bottle

painted on three grain silos

 

at the street’s dead-end

sweat on brown glass

makes the thirst rise

 

in our throats

we show guests

this and the Big Cow

 

veined udder and all

my brother’s college friends

from Long Island and Milwaukee

 

laugh with us

such a corny place

I can’t wait to leave

 

Peggy Turnbull is a retired librarian living in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, who is trying to master the art of hygge. Her poetry has been recently published in Mad Swirl, Right Hand Pointing, and As It Ought to Be, and is forthcoming in The Main Street Rag. Her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness, was published by Kelsay Books in 2020.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The Cost of Cocoa

 

My conscience is born in a kitchen fug

Where hot milky cocoa ends a hard day

It’s soothing and warm like a mother’s hug

But where is it from? What price did we pay?

 

The sugary drink leaves a bitter taste

The source of which I have to understand

My quest for the truth inspires in me haste

To follow supply chains to distant lands.

 

Humidity cloys in tropical sun

Down dusty roads clogged with lorries of wood

Through dry soil-less lands where no waters run

To monocultures where forests once stood.

 

And there, clinging to the last native tree,

I find a tired and thirsty chimpanzee.

 

PJ Stephenson is a British writer whose fiction and poetry is inspired by history, nature and human nature. He has lived in Switzerland for 20 years but still takes milk in his tea. You will find his short stories and poems online and in various anthologies. Follow him @Tweeting_Writer.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Power

 

We don’t live in the spelunking caveman era.

Life does not seek her pound of flesh

of cutting wood and turning wheels.

Anymore.

 

Why then does life’s ways feel just as hard,

if not harder?

 

Is it the mad race of mindless

moths making a beeline to licking flames

that suck you into a bottomless vortex

of dangling vocal chords that refuse to be tied

into a life-saving, self-preserving no

leaving you stuck like an ant

squalling in a pot of honey?

 

It helps to take a deep breath,

retrace your steps

one by one, slow but sure

to realise who you really are.

 

Preeth Ganapathy’s writings have appeared before in a number of online magazines, more recently in The Young Ravens Literary Review, Mothers Always Write, Buddhist Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Visual Verse, Spillwords and Willawaw Journal. She is also the winner of Wilda Morris’s July 2020 Poetry Challenge. Currently she works as Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax in Bangalore, India.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

R

 

Silent Smile

 

He silently looked at me, raising his hand

waving back and gently smiling.

I tried to understand the meaning,

should I go or should I stay.

His hand seemed to call me back

and his eyes asking me to stay.

But the smile was just saying a goodbye

is needed now, don’t wait.

Nothing is left and nothing is gone as well.

Memories will be there, catching me

in the midst of my daydream.

Feelings will be burnt inside that soul of mine,

preventing the tears from dropping for years.

A last sigh, almost not heard by anyone around,

a silent smile for me.

One which just said goodbye

and which showed the way to the door.

His door opened to the light and mine

to a darkness which needed to fade away.

Gone he was, a last goodbye to someone

who brought me to life and silently smiled away.

 

Rani is from Mauritius. Better known as Shining Rain, mother of a sweet part of her soul, she is a lover of children and animals. Life has shown her waves and mountains, but she is still learning to swim and to climb, while finding the sunny way through the rough paths. Her poetry is linked to her deepest feelings.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Flagpole

 

On a windy autumn day

I stand outside the post office

watching people go by

waiting for my wife to mail

gifts around the world,

lowest leaves of trees on fire

touched by late slant of sun;

the American flag is

wrapped around the pole,

while the black MIA pennon

stiff as a brigade salute

rattles in quick and

regular staccato

for everybody to hear and see.

 

As a poet Ray Greenblatt has also written book reviews for the Dylan Thomas Society, the John Updike Society, and the Graham Greene Society.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Three poems

 

reading

old love letters aloud

such empty words...

surrounded by family

to decipher each phrase for me

 

robot arms

offer me dog treats

I decline

and fall back asleep

woof woof woof woof woof

 

autumn

bean harvest complete

farmers

roll up their fields

for the winter rest

 

Roberta Beach Jacobson is an American writer who lived in Europe for four decades. Her poems, essays and flash fiction have appeared in 60 anthologies published on four continents.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Market

 

If you could take one emblem

from the Saturday market

and preserve it

 

it might be that wodge of cheese

sliced through by the wire

and crumbling softly

 

Mandy’s curtains, checks, whorls,

so many reds, yellows, oranges,

a tender blaze

 

John, the leather stall, his ten-minute break,

gulping back draughts of grateful tea

after a good morning

 

The earnest bibliophile, in second hand books,

finding a serendipity

in the orange Penguins

 

The postman, his round over,

(a whack of heavy stuff today),

stopping in the tea bar’s commonwealth

 

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work is published widely in both Britain and the USA. In recent years he has been shortlisted for the Wordsworth Trust Prize in the UK and nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize in the US.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Consequence

 

The beauty of imperfection,

The consequences of curiosity

Leads to an exploration

Of learning and unlearning –

Adopting the reality.

Yet, life remains a mystery.

Emotions and wisdom

Together meddlesome;

Rejecting both to be free.

Away from crowd, not reality.

The vacuous essence of liberty

Helps in growing,

In accepting the woe

To have a better tomorrow.

 

Rusa Bhowmik is a researcher by profession and resides in India. Her first anthology Rookie’s Poetry consists of poems written during her teenage years.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

The trip

 

light sneaks across the horizon like a boat over water

Birds begin an endless day.

White becomes yellow

Gold blue

Exit signs bent the other way.

 

Power lines sparse as trees

Strong air unblocked

No twists and no turns

This way through the desert

 

An urgent train horn

And then once again

back to nothing

A spirit in a box

Endlessly waving

Cruise control

Scrubgrass and little black rocks.

 

everything’s closed on Sundays

but nothing’s truly here

 

The road doesn’t waver

Neither does the land

An extremely long line.

Numbers lose meaning

Day erasing

Its only sign

Letters on exit signs

 

Empty cassette

Click until you turn over

Empty sun

Never flips or turns over

 

Tired and mad

The gears wear low

The car goes into a ditch

 

Dust settles into more dust

Wipe your thumb

From the rear view mirror

Watch the vultures burn

 

Robyn Schelenz is a writer from Birdsboro, Pennsylvania. Her work has previously appeared in Rattle and Revue Pøst.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Life in a Flux

 

Laughter, momentary,

marked upon the face.

Mirth, ephemeral,

small insignificant lies.

Apparently smiling

countenances hiding sorrow.

Individual or collective,

melancholy pervades the air.

Intense, lethal, crushing,

diffused, endurable, forgettable,

ever changing as the time,

hovers menacingly, foxily.

Dissimulating its own demise

Hidden in the wings,

Crouching to pounce suddenly,

Upon the unsuspecting prey.

Puny deteriorating bodies

Crushed, exposed, unprotected.

 

Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. He edits PPP Ezine and writes at https://rajnishmishravns.wordpress.com/

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

An Empty Desk

 

1952. It was the year of polio.

Mom and Dad had beaten poverty and Nazis,

but how to defend the boys from the snake

in the playground grass.

 

Well, no camp that summer,

no swimming, no baseball.

They worried. I wandered

the fields next door, nibbling

timothy, gazing at clouds.

 

September. I walked to school

with Johnny Lattimer. He lived halfway.

He’d wait for me. We’d kick pebbles and talk.

One day he wasn’t there.

No message, no mother. A mute door

and no one sitting on his stair.

 

A week or so later, Mrs. Mattson

told the class he’d died.

The kid who’d sat among us,

the empty desk right there.

 

But then it was recess.

 

Randy Minnich is a retired chemistry professor and corporate research chemist. His major focuses now are reading, writing, environmental issues, and grandchildren. He is a member of the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop and has published two books and poetry in several journals.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Spring Cleaning

 

In the envelope

is my report card

from 1962

in which

I discovered that

Mrs. Doak complimented

me on being a good citizen

and with a flourish, in

bright blue ink that bespoke upon

the blank surface cardstock

from a fountain pen whose

lively manner recalled that

of a thoroughbred race horse

at dawn, alive, and eager

to make a point through

a simple gesture of

appreciation

 

Ricky Garni grew up in Florida and Maine. He works as a graphic designer by day and writes music and photographs by night. His work has been published most recently in the Blake Jones Review and Can You Have Our Ball Back? His latest work, A Glorious Gallop V. an Adagio of Indifference, will be released in the winter of 2020.

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Fake Daffodils

 

I wandered lonely as a cloud. Bullshit. Every time I look up at the sky,

there’s clouds everywhere. It’s like the clouds are having a party, all the time.

Once they get drunk enough, they piss on us. I told this to a girl on a date.

We were at the mall. It wasn’t going well. Mostly because I took her to a mall.

To ‘maul’ means to ‘wound by tearing or scratching.’ Which is exactly what the mall

does to your wallet. I told this to the girl. I met her on Tinder. We were Tinding.

It was awkward. All dates are awkward. They’re so calendar based. That’s why

they call them ‘dates.’ You have to schedule them. Like a job interview.

And it is a job interview. She asked me questions while we sat in the food court.

She was the food judge, telling me her milkshake was too cold. Which is a bit

like saying death is too horizontal. I ate my soup. Or drank it, to be more accurate.

It tasted like soup, but it wasn’t really. This was a mall. Everything was fake. The trees

inside the mall were all fake. There was a drawing of a castle on one of the walls.

It was a fake castle. It wasn’t a real castle. If it was real, we’d have walked inside,

gotten divorced. But instead we sat there and she told me she has anxiety disorder

and I told her everyone does and she said, “Not everyone.” And I said, “Just all

the people I know.” And she asked, “Like who?” and I thought about it and realized

I don’t know anybody, so, technically, everyone I know has anxiety disorder, so I said

that to her and she said I wasn’t helping. I wanted to help. I’d helped

her get in the car, helped her sit by pulling out her chair, but I couldn’t help her

with the big thing—how she reacted to talking with people. So we sat there in silence.

An awkward silence in an awkward mall in an awkward city with an awkward

clocktower that was broken and next to it, at the bank, was a digital tower, the time

in bright red square-and-rectangular numbers that numbed us as we drove by, me,

taking her home, after having Tinded. I dropped her off and she shocked me with a kiss.

Any time anyone ever kisses me, I miss them forever.

 

Ron Riekki’s books include My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Apprentice House Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press). Riekki co-edited Undocumented (Michigan State University Press) and The Many Lives of The Evil Dead (McFarland), and edited The Many Lives of It (McFarland), And Here (MSU Press), Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book).

 

~ ✽✦✽✿✽✦✽ ~

 

Brushed Burdens

 

hold tight

what you thought

was lost,

recognize its place,

the pulse, the release

the minds eye photo,

that frightens

with strength

attempting to

drown me

as I turn

up the lights

keeping the noise

level low

of the dream

familiar,

leaning closer

to what I know

 

Roger G. Singer, Poet Laureate Old Lyme, Connecticut.