And then there are the days I long
to open him like a host on Westworld
though I would have to grow claws
to rip his skull apart since he is no bot
but my lover and with dexterity and calm
to lift with the point of the nimblest of my talons
the pulsating taint that pulls him down
into depressions that drive me mad.
(A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his verse appears this year in Headcase: LGBTQ Writers & Artists on Mental Health and Wellness published by Oxford UP and Lovejets: queer male poets on 200 years of Walt Whitman from Squares and Rebels. His essay "It's Been a Long Time Coming" was featured in The New York Times "Modern Love" column in April 2016. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha)
A Labyrinth of Strangers
They’re all familiar enough in the beginning: parents,
aunts, uncles, grandparents—relatives who’ve been
part of your short, sweet life. Yet, as you move further
back in time, names, dates and places become increasingly
obscure until, eventually, you find yourself stumbling
about in a labyrinth of strangers.
Still you keep on digging, hoping to find that one luminous
figure among your ancestors. But, take care; what you uncover
may leave you wishing you’d left well enough alone, remained
in blissful ignorance, untouched by the viper which has been
waiting all these years to sink its fangs into your heel.
For in most things there is a balance of sorts—light versus
dark, good versus evil—you get my drift. And with a linage
that, theoretically, stretches all the way back to the first fish
which made its way up out of the ocean onto dry land, you
have to expect a Snopes or two, perhaps even a Hannibal Lecter,
hiding somewhere in the foliage of your family tree!
(Howard Brown is a poet who lives in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. His poetry has appeared in The Beautiful Space (May 31, 2018), Burningword Literary Journal, Blue Collar Review, Tuck Magazine, Pure Slush, Poetry Super Highway, Old Hickory Review, Lone Stars Magazine and Devil’s Party Press (forthcoming).
at the Meissen
cup and saucer,
white like the
lace covering the
polished teak table
where fingers drum
on a yellowing
inside on pages
sepia words crumble
like dried bones,
and the eyes
that once sought
at someone’s fingers
drumming on a
yellowing book cover
that long ago
and longer ago
on the polished
exquisite Flemish lace,
like the Meissen
saucer and cup.
(Louis Kasatkin is Founder of Destiny Poets UK and Editorial Administrator at www.destinypoets.co.uk He is also a life long community and political activist, inveterate blogger and has on occasion been dubbed a general nuisance to the status quo.)
The recent case of the phantom hand,
letting go of what it cannot hold,
catching moths in a window,
pawing away grief’s tears.
A hand that carried on regardless,
its master asleep and unaware,
his signature perfected to the iota,
penmanship an unappreciated talent.
The phantom hand that signed the checks
a lack of funds reneged upon.
That signed the freeman’s death warrant
with a controlled and unremarkable flourish.
(Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).)
The Beautiful Space-