The Pangolin Review — Issue 18, 30 April 2021
Part 4: S to Z (first alphabet of first name of poet)
Attic deigns daylight. Discordant montage.
Synod of musty drapes flap wings in solitary window.
Dusty scumble as austerity’s ash.
Stacked denoting rigor within our rummage.
Ingredients and filigree. Rafter pleach and gauze.
Pedigree of folded page. Syntax stagnant in dog-eared diary.
Bleached testimony bookmarked by brittle chain.
Dialect bleeds jilted semantics and ballad panache.
Beck and peck promised on the page.
Gold weave lassos a locket. Initials etched.
Tarnished cameo with no incorrect verdict.
Too-lonely starlight animates her eyes.
Fate Proves the Unholy Word
First two wishes wasted, misplaced really.
My third gusts wild, like bracken, no longer
of the moment. I mistake commensurate
with personal purge. Destiny devolves into
a dinner bell’s zest to put hunger down, a chance
to party down. The beast robes me in white
camouflage, and his angels arise to arm me.
Confusion like snowflakes lost on my tongue –
my addiction for her raven hair, vibrissa to my thigh.
Eternity will bless my purposeful acts of kindness,
will forgive the non-Faithful their Faithful prayers.
Sundown clouds entice me as a spa where
I am cleansed by fingernails set on fire with orange paint.
Tonight I wield a swift sword to slice dragon tongues.
Blood-wise and with grace, I will snuff flames in
my unlikable heart. Fulfill tasks set on wind. These
surly realms reach heaven where my worst day ticks
by, and by, and by. I am glad to become dust, unworthy
in this degraded world where orchids transmute into
mammals, and Venus Fly Traps release their prey.
Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared in several poetry magazines. He has a new book of poetry, Uncommon Book of Prayer (2021, Main Street Rag). His previous collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016. He was awarded an Emerging Artist’s Grant from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); and is a Pushcart nominee.
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Once upon a time
When I was very young
I looked upon my first home in the suburbs
and its deliciously sweet avocado colored appliances
with joyful pride.
My shiny refrigerator, so “avant garde.”
Brightening my kitchen with a light
That reflected on to the same color oven door
Where I baked the children's cookies.
But moving took me away from the home and its kitchen
Given instead an old Sub Zero that smiled
With it's gleeful huge wood-paneled door
And though quite old,
It happily substituted for the shiny avocado one.
Doing its job while plodding away for 20 years and more
As I refused to part with
One who had morphed into
An old friend
Reliably ready when the children
To reach inside for their after school snack
Of milk and cookies.
Though gone are the days of dependably seeing the children,
Fragmented memories remain
Like those of the old Sub Zero.
Replaced now with jet black GEs.
A matching set taking on the role.
No children's fingerprints to mar their glaze
Standing by themselves in an empty kitchen...
They wait for someone to throw open the door,
And a high pitched voice to call out, “Hi mom, I’m home!”
Shelly Sitzer is a writer of short stories and poetry living in central Virginia. She is a retired vision therapist, who enjoys her new free time pursuing her hobbies of writing, painting, gardening, and playing music.
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soiled, frayed pockets
eager hands clenching
nature’s gifts and
like greedy pilgrims
Leaden bound feet kick
frozen wood down
through snow, rush home;
children slip on icy pavement,
glide into backyards
as steel trampolines,
Hazy skies linger, sooty
the rusty landscape,
a decayed wasteland
of dreams, promises that
personify Faulkner’s anguish
from As I Lay Dying—
drilling holes in
coffins so the dead
sound and fury
symbolizing the surreal.
An award winning author/poet, Sterling Warner’s poems have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, journals, and anthologies. His first fiction collection, Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories, debuted in August 2020 and his most recent work, Serpent’s Tooth: Poems will appear in 2021. Sterling currently lives in Union, WA.
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Soul Food, Not Eye Candy
They tell her
she arouses desire in men,
envy in women.
It enthuses her,
gives her an adrenaline rush,
the thrill fades away.
when He tells her,
she is an ace artist,
how beautifully she captures the nuances of love, life and loss,
how aesthetically she turns every bit of life into poetry,
she writes profusely,
it fills her with ecstasy,
it makes her come alive,
the bliss is everlasting.
There is nobody whom she reverences
as she reverences him,
he covets her soul
more than her skin.
Swati Moheet Agrawal lives in Mumbai, India. Her work has appeared in The Drabble, Ariel Chart, Café Dissensus, Friday Flash Fiction, Indian Periodical, ActiveMuse, Setu, Kitaab and is forthcoming in The Dribble Drabble Review and Free Flash Fiction. Follow her on Instagram @ swatiwhowrites.
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Turmoil in America
United States of America
is going through a turmoil,
coronavirus made it victim
like no one else in the globe
yet Americans in some places
arranging corona parties
mingling with each other
making mockery of social
distancing which is first
defense against the pandemic.
Are not these people killing
fellow Americans by spreading
the virus that has taken over
hundred thousand lives there?
I have not seen anybody who
came out in the street in protest.
Then how come the heinous
atrocity by a policeman killing
one African American has made
the protest so loud and violent?
Arson and loot are going on unabated,
are these hooligans doing a great service
for their nation? It is a matter of right
for them to destroy whatever
comes on their way may be the President
of the great nation himself? What a
madness is this if not a conspiracy!
Oh Americans, who are destroying
their own motherland, think peacefully
be calm and allow the law to do its duty.
Sandip Saha from India won Poetry Matters Project Lit Prize-2018 and finalist in Origami Poems Project BEST OF KINDNESS CONTEST, 2020, both USA. He has published one collection of poems, Quest for Freedom and has published 63 poems in 28 journals in India, USA, UK, Romania and Mauritius.
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Two More Bodies
“But there are no grown-ups, that’s what you must
grow up to know fully; your parents were just
two more bodies experiencing landscape and weather,
trying to make sense by vibrating columns of air…”
Ben Lerner, The Topeka School
My father walked into the mirror, broke his glasses,
blood running all down his face.
My mother pulled at her short dark hair.
“I always wanted to wear it long. I wanted braids
or a ponytail, but my mother wouldn’t let me.
Too hard to keep clean. She wouldn’t spend the time
to untangle my waves. Ah well, none of my wishes
are coming true.” There were shards of glass
on the bathroom floor. Our family friend stopped by
to install a new mirror. He worked quietly clearing away
the broken glass, carefully bending hinges,
screwing everything in tight, but not too tight.
I watched him, but soon fell into my usual dream state.
My mother was weeping, combing her long hair
that swept down her back like a river of ink.
My father rode bareback around the circus ring.
That night we ate goulash and dumplings.
My parents shared a beer, and later we had Sacher Torte
with whipped cream. My father’s head was bandaged,
but he seemed alright, though he couldn’t see too well
without his glasses. Our new mirror was a little cloudy,
and if you looked at it too long, the future seemed to leer,
as if to warn you that the face you saw was just a blip in time.
Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. He is the author of fourteen poetry collections, including The Li Bo Poems and My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word.
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Between Big Bangs
If the universe is like a bouncing
rubber ball, are we on the
upward trajectory or the downward one?
How many big bangs have there been
so far, and how many still to come?
Life may not be possible after the next
bounce in a billion years or so, conditions
not conducive to human or animal existence.
We may not make it until then
if we keep abusing our mother planet,
and threatening each other with
bigger and more powerful nuclear weapons.
We may go out in a blaze sooner than we think,
though hardly a blaze of glory.
Susan P. Blevins was born in England and moved to Italy when she was 20, where she lived for the following 26 years. While there, she had a weekly column in an international newspaper. She moved to the USA and spent 16 years in Taos, NM, where she wrote about gardens for various magazines, and is now living in Houston, TX, writing about her interesting life and travels. She is published in various literary journals in the USA and overseas. She loves classical music, gardening, reading, writing, cats and intelligent, stimulating conversation. She also enjoys reading for the blind.
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To let the ego burn like
And bury it with love
And rise on the third day:
Like a Lazarus to the Messiah’s Word...
Ego, come out of Her!
From illusions and delusions.
Of vanity and distress.
This world isn’t meant for you.
But it is going to offer it all back.
Once resurrection reassures.
Tania Alphonsa George is a passionate lover of words and poems. She is pursuing her Masters in English literature.
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Headless Winged Victory is an off-scale ship
Figurehead that greets all at a staircase crest
A marble wind flutters
Her pinions and tatty dress
Mona Lisa is smaller than expected
I like her better in Nat Cole’s song
Venus de Milo is six-foot-eight
Some debate she’s a prostitute
Joseph drills wood, kid Jesus assists
His candle flame all but flickers
A flying saint frees ninety convicts
Half his body is a sparking rocket
A noisy guide suggests his group
Not interpret a woman tweaking
A nipple of a friend as pornography
A pregnancy check is the motive
The pinched is mistress to the king
Visitors linger at the easel of
An artist studiously copying
St. Michael Slaying the Devil
Oblivious to shutter clicks
Thomas M. McDade is a resident of Fredericksburg, VA, previously CT, & RI. He is a graduate of Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT. He is twice a U.S. Navy Veteran serving ashore at the Fleet Anti-Air Warfare Training Center, Virginia Beach, VA and at sea aboard the USS Mullinnix (DD-944) and USS Miller (DE / FF-1091).
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Spirit move and pull
all blood black and true
whose skins glitter at the sight of the sun
whose songs are heard
and words burn the souls that abide
in the rhythm of their divide...
Pull all those who have forgotten
who have forgotten their truth!
Who have denied their blood
for something “pure” yet unsure
A vanity they have dined with to abandon their meaning
Scar all those who reject the motherland
Spirit! Take them on a journey of revelation
Like Paul on the way to Damascus
Show them all they have denied and abused
lurking Chichi dodos
Tear their eyes to what they burnt on the stakes
Red flames owning the purest of colours
Spirit pull… and pull
Let the wind that runs the globe swiftly draw ears
even of those who have remained blind
let the scales fall off their eyes
Tell them we come from one soil
the soil that travels far... Too far
Now Spirit, after all is done
And all are weak in their fall
Make us all one...
teach us to know we one
Let us know that we are a variety of colours
Like flowers in the garden that sing of only beauty
a beauty of everlasting meaning.
Uvie Ann-Marie Giwewhegbe is an author, a poet and filmmaker resident in Nigeria. She has published works online and in print.
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Getting and Giving
I didn’t notice my young wife
baked banana bread
sometimes I don’t notice things
and I didn’t see at first
the tears in the corners
of her eyes thought
maybe I made her sad
not noticing the bread
which made no sense
why tears on a stunning Fall afternoon
she nodded towards
the empty space in our living room
Our late cat’s climbing perch gone
cherished until the right moment
to give our dear pet’s things away
neighbor Tim in the doorway sunlight
finally found a girlfriend
who has a sweet cat
out the door went Alou’s memories
perch and collar and ceramic kitty bowl
A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred poems on over fifty sites, a few being: *82 Review, The Literary Nest, Gyroscope Review, The Pangolin Review, Courtship of Winds, 500 Miles, The Write Launch, Broadkill Review, Soft Cartel, and River and South.
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If I Were
If I were a bird
I could float upon the air,
Away from my earthly chains
To travel the wind
Places near and far,
The chaotic world below—
Viewing from afar.
If I were a fish,
I could swim the tides,
Void of life’s complexities
Suspended in tranquility
Reflecting on my thoughts,
Achieving new enlightenment—
Replacing fears and doubts.
If I were a wolf,
I could roam the land so free,
Not fenced by boundaries
Or persecution by man.
Walking thru the forest,
Creatures’ great and small—
To be as one in harmony
Upon the setting sun.
Is craziness & madness the legacy of our fate?
Poisoning with apathy, violence, and hate—
We destroy each other, and everything in our quake.
Abusing Mother Earth and her children so dear,
Scattered bones, rotted bark—
Upon the barren fields.
Don’t we hear the screams?
Do we turn a deaf ear?
Some days I wish I were a bird floating in the air,
Or a fish in seas of blue swimming the endless tides,
Or a wolf freely roaming across the land,
I wish one day I could be all three,
Seeking wisdom from them all
To find the answers to our complex world,
Or I’ll just heed nature’s call.
Wayne Adam is a writer, poet, author, and freelancer. He captures the world through his senses, dreams, emotions, and the enduring spirits of animals. Through a variety of genres, he creates the essence of the inner spirit and the world around him. He is published in a variety of both print and digital media.
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His beak claims fifty percent
of his surface. What a prow
with which to delve into the world.
Darwin thought sexual selection
an issue: diversified stripes
of shivery pastels attract
even the edgiest female.
Maybe so. But peeling fruit
with the world’s largest beak surely
brings pleasure greater than sex—
the daily appetite glowing
like a poker, the heat exchange
a simple metabolic fact.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities and retired after three decades at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is Stirring the Soup (2020). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.
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A Dream Vision
When I stood before your beauty’s altar,
I was awestruck; I was terrified;
I felt each fiber of my being falter;
Yet a core of certainty inside
Me knew that I must have you for my own.
But soon your presence disappeared, and I
Awoke to find myself once more alone.
Why must something so adorable die?
Yet no. You live on in my memory.
The Morpheus who masterminded you
Must have known the form my spirit sought.
In any case, awake, I still can see
Your image—beautiful, alive, and true—
For whom my battered day so dearly fought.
William Ruleman lives in east Tennessee with his wife, dog, and cat. In addition to writing and translating poetry, he paints landscapes, portraits, and pictures inspired by literary works. His most recent books include, among others, Songs for the Seasons: Poems of Rilke & His Age and A Strange & Sweet Unrest. More can be found out about him at www.williamruleman.com.
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I take walks in the
where it is quiet
none of the stiffs
makes a peep--
whatever they once had
fled at the
moment of death
and left them
on a slab
until the mortician
like a turkey
and painted the
then they laid
in a box
for a day or two
until the start of
in the cemetery
skulls, ribs, and such
no much to it
we would have beard something
Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has been widely published online and in print. He is author of eight published poetry collections and one short story collection, Turmoil & Other Stories (Adelaide Press, 2020). He lives in Vermont (USA).
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the room at the end of the corridor
she lives in hotel rooms
her room at the corridor’s end
I think of her walking out of the door.
suitcase in hand
every corner spick and span
never a trace left behind when she leaves
then in another hotel room
a new beginning
I think of her sitting at her desk
her lamp on
shoulders slightly humped
pen in hand.
reading something or writing
whichever hotel it is
ıt’s her at the corridor’s end
suitcase on the floor
ready for the next move
Yeşim Ağaoğlu from Istanbul studied in Istanbul University, Department Of Archaeology and Art History. Her poems have been published in literary journals since the age of 18. She has seven poetry books published in Turkey and two poetry books published in Azerbaijan and in 2016 and 2017 two poetry books published in New York, USA. She has a short play named Forbidden Chirpings staged at Hazar University, Baku, Azerbaijan.
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Today, we gather to celebrate a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter
She lived for her family, gave away every ounce of love, tears, soul
The woman who once dreamed withered away but not one person bothered
To ask why she never smiled and why she never felt whole
We lay her to rest in the dress of her husband’s favorite color
Society’s flowers covering her memory, getting smaller
One by one, acquaintances come up to testify about her life
But one is able to say what she wished for when she woke at 3 a.m. to cry
We only praise achievements on paper
Not knowing all the little things that broke her
Each kiss goodbye flattens the upturned smile the mortician pressed upon her face
Because he felt it would lessen the living’s pain
Come join us in song
Come join us in mourning
We wail for what she lost
We can’t erase her longing
Yong Takahashi won the Chattahoochee Valley Writers National Short Story Contest and the Writer's Digest's Write It Your Way Contest. She was a finalist in The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Southern Fried Karma Novel Contest, Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest, and Georgia Writers Association Flash Fiction Contest. Some of her works appear in Cactus Heart, Crab Fat Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Gemini Magazine, Meat For Tea, and Twisted Vines.
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Heavenly blue agonizes me
I know that I can’t fly
I know that I can’t fly heavenward
that heavenly blue agonizes me
although that is only one color
That color ridicules me
“Why can’t you fly to me?”
“Why can’t you feel my blue?”
That color rends my broken wings
again and again
I hear the voice of that heavenly blue
I feel the pain in my broken wings
the voice and the pain are only an illusion
that my heart caught by that heavenly blue
Yuu Ikeda is a Japanese poet published in Rigorous, Briefly Zine and Kalonopia.