The Truth About Ageing
sun dapples woods
trillium titillates shady patches
cedar perfumes air
crisp clear calm
we knew we’d have to sell our place
on the lake one day
but somehow never
thought that day would come
our future currency of loss
desire yearning despair
The Truth About Happy
This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Happy, at this age, comes
with many qualifiers.
I was less stiff when
I got out of bed this morning.
I’m happy about that.
Sara’s cancer is confined
to her gall bladder, lymph
nodes and liver are clear.
That makes me happy.
Only five people from my
high school class are dead
and I’m not one of them.
That’s something to celebrate.
Every now and then my left
ankle doesn’t work, but
that’s only every now and then;
mostly it works and I walk
my little dog Mugsi and
watch her tushie wiggle
down Maple Avenue,
and that makes me happy.
I only allow myself half a
grapefruit in the morning but,
after I eat the sections I’ve
carefully carved from the fruit,
I squeeze the juice into my bowl.
Those sips of fresh grapefruit
juice produce a pleasure beyond
joy. And when my wife, Judy,
takes a moment to pat my arm
when I’m cooking our dinner
or kisses me on the cheek
when I put her plate before her,
the happy I feel makes
saints hit their knees.
Of course, there’s the nitwit in Washington,
the constant lies, hypocrisies that cause
mirrors to blush, the idea that empathy
is a national security risk. Yet with us
humans there’s always the possibility
that kindness will be reborn, that
compassion will make a comeback,
that happy will be happy again.
The Truth About Night
Why is the night so craven?
Everything possible during the day
seems impossible at night. I’m
not referring to the raucous bacchanalia
of night clubs and dance halls,
the blockbusters at movie houses,
or poker nights with the guys.
I’m talking about the sweat-soaked
heart pounding 3 AM maelstrom
when you’re sure you have terminal
cancer, an infection no antibiotic will cure,
and that all your arteries will close at once.
This is when your disgraces, every time
you measured your mouth for your foot size,
reappear in technicolor and surround sound,
when the eyes of the world are focused
solely on you and people with names like
Wolf, Anderson, and Rachel smirk and
intone your sins over and over
on their 24-hour news programs.
You rise from bed, an anvil of shame
on your back, pee, sip some water,
crawl under the covers and wait
for light’s subtle shade, that lambent
curtain of forgiveness called dawn.
(Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in over ninety publications.)
The Inlay Work on the Left Side of the Brain
A nest of the woman’s hair
in all directions
like a map of the town.
The poet never stirred
for four days and nights.
A swarm of black flies
quivering up the walls.
Little children with vague
standing over her bed.
linen pale as snow.
(Winston Plowes shares his floating home in Calderdale UK with his seventeen-year-old cat, Sausage. He teaches creative writing in schools, universities and to local groups while she dreams of Mouseland. His latest collection, Tales from the Tachograph was published jointly with Gaia Holmes in 2018 by Calder Valley Poetry. www.winstonplowes.co.uk)
A Minor Distraction
You, who are about to be eaten.
You, trapped among the intangible,
sinking deeper the harder you struggle,
remarkably adept at suffering,
dogged by false intuition,
an icy finger running along your spine,
a premonition gnawing on blood and bone,
your ‘gift’ the curse of seeing
that which lies beyond the senses.
You, somewhat like the rest of us,
inhabited by an innate instability,
temporarily maintaining equilibrium,
keeping the illusion alive, momentarily,
before quietly slipping over the edge.
(Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,500 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).
Between the rust and bone of seasons
And tattering metal teeth born of clinical instruments
My grandmother surrendered her pugnacious spirit
And saw, from her hospital bed, the great plains
On which her husband waited all those absent years.
Between thick blood and burnt swollen flesh
My aunt finally nodded subtly to a bleak forecast
Accepting the towers rising from her breasts
To be the final announcement of her fading beauty,
Tearing her away from two children still in grade school.
I embrace the quiet places that their voices once filled
There is always reminisce - the aftermath of greatness leaves an echo
That time will never lay to rest.
(Johann grew up in the Free State on the border of Lesotho and South Africa. He studied communication and industrial psychology at the northwest university in Potchefstroom and currently works in television and as freelance writer in Johannesburg. He has also written two international children’s books – Frankie Learns to Fly & Bhubesi. He has published poetry both locally and internationally, in journals such as The Kalahari Review, The Rye Whiskey Review and Down In The Dirt. He is a finalist in the esteemed Ingrid Jonker A la poetic competition and some of his work will appear in the Sea Glass Hearts American Poets Anthology published in the United States later this year. Currently, Johann is working on his debut individual poetry collection in Afrikaans. His first individual English collection has been picked up and will be published in the States in early 2020).
7 days after my sister’s death
this morning i peeled and sliced
a potato into flat triangles and
heated cooking oil
dropped the off-white pieces
onto the hot pan
they fried until crispy brown
then i cracked 3 eggs
cooked over easy
the thick orange-yellow
yolks were intact
as they awaited the fork’s
puncture that would
create the slow luxurious
release of the thick liquid
over the slightly salted
i warmed a flour tortilla
on the stove’s open flame
flipping it over by hand
feeling the fire nip at
the tips of my fingers
and suddenly it comes to me:
if this were to be my last breakfast
i would die a happy man
dear sister, i hope it was like this
(no stanza break)
for you on the day you ate your last meal
i hope you smiled and thought to yourself
“damn, this is good”
(Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award. Currently, he resides in Beloit, WI. His three books of poetry are McLife, American Jesus, and Guernica, revisited. He edited/published The Mas Tequila Review from 2010-2015.)
at five o’clock
is not a giant star
into a tiny space,
in its center.
I can still be seen
without a telescope.
If I keep my eyes
For a little
What Did Not Happen Today
A deer through the windshield
A tree smashing the roof
A snake in the toilet
Not one. Not today.
And you did not fall down the stairs
or vomit blood.
You did not.
Your heart should be floating,
buoyant as a beach ball
on the river that did not rise
and spoil your evening cocoa
before snuggling into bed.
(Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Poetica, Beltway Poetry News, Cider Press Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers. Visit www.jacquelinejules.com )
Thinking Outside [BOXES]
You say you’re still single because
nobody has ticked all the boxes.
Advice: discard empty [ ]es,
do war dance as you flatten
coffins that housed nothing
but bubbles, barren imagining.
Who knows, somebody lovable
might glimpse your mad moves
along Not-So-Great [ ] Wall,
do an engaging mating dance
in your unblocked direction.
(Originally from Saskatchewan, Allan Lake has lived in Vancouver, Cape Breton Island, Ibiza, Tasmania, and, for now, Melbourne. Two collections published: Tasmanian Tiger Breaks Silence (1988) ; Sand in the Sole (2014). Lake won Elwood(Aus) Poetry Prize 2016, Lost Tower Publications(UK) Poetry Comp 2017 and Melbourne Spoken Word Poetry Festival/The Dan Competition 2018. Besides Australia he has been published in Canada, UK, USA, Mauritius, India, West Indies and Italy.)
i memorize you.
your dreams and your aspirations
your favorite restaurant order and the way you take your coffee, or don’t.
your favorite songs - the lyrics are engrained in my mind.
the shampoo you use and the way you roll your toothpaste tube
your birth date is on a loop.
the sound of your voice - I can always remind myself how you sound.
and how you feel - and how you kiss.
your pet peeves and fears - all things I’m too aware of.
your scars - both emotional and physical - it’s like they’re mine too.
your phone number - those 10 numbers won’t leave.
and you memorize me.
my triggers and med dosages.
my license plate number, which I don’t even know.
my birth mark - the scars on my right wrist.
the way my right eye scrunches a little more than most when I smile.
my coffee order - decaf, soy, and all.
my favorite flower and the snacks I want stocked at your place.
the makeup wipes I use and my brand of face lotion.
the perfume you love - the one you searched for hours for.
so what do we do now?
how can you forget something you’ve memorized?
and what if I really do forget?
your voice is already harder to recall.
your touch has been absent for so long.
what if you really do fade?
or what if every time I see patterned socks my heart breaks again?
or every time I hear “bloom” the pain is brand new?
I’m not sure which is worse.
memorizing you for the rest of my life, or forgetting who you were.
there is nothing more to say
They are all gone away,
The house is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.
It is not like yesterday,
The day is meant to kill,
They are all gone away.
All the morning can do is delay,
Fate has it's own will,
There is nothing more to say.
Our bodies only betray,
Our skin begins to chill,
They are all gone away.
I wish they were here today,
They had many dreams to fulfill,
There is nothing more to say.
But alas, life only lasts a day,
Love itself becomes ill,
They are all gone away,
And there is nothing more to say.
(Serafina Valenzuela is a college writer and poet. She is studying to become a trauma therapist and intends to use her experiences to aid others in finding ways to heal. Her writings center around her own traumas, in which she reveals the realities of her pain while instilling hope into her works.)
Love Between the Seasons
the blue sky,
a dark cloud
of you in
of me in
Weak am I,
no longer am I the knight of a stranger’s dark dream
sad am I,
with a thirsty spirit seeking for a bloody river
lost am I,
I cannot find a way to heal my wounds during the day
drunk am I,
running away from people’s hateful judgments
sick am I,
waiting on the bullet to end my miserable hope
fool am I,
for believing in tears, and ignoring the mouths of lies
who am I,
today I am miserable for writing on the city walls
who will I be,
nothing but a drunk writer in a forgotten cemetery
Writing a Letter
I will be writing a letter
to nobody brave or I know
I want to say I am sorry
for the ones, who hurts me before
I know that life is more
than one locked door
perhaps, my heart is the
house with broken lock to protect me
yet, my enemy win over my
innocent moves, his words
are sharp knives, and my answers
are the seeds of the plants in heaven
being blind means, you are
gifted, you just believe in the
ones who wishes you death
and nothing else of good in darkness
(Ahmad Al-Khatat was born in Baghdad, Iraq. His work has appeared in print and online journals globally and has poems translated into several languages. He has been nominated for Best of the Net 2018. He is the author of The Bleeding Heart Poet, Love On The War’s Frontline, Gas Chamber, Wounds from Iraq, and Roofs of Dreams all of which are available from Amazon. He lives in Montreal, Canada.)
I asked the
By what flicker
Melting down yourself -
It puffed up its chest a little
Flaming itself a bit more
Towards the sky, and
Did you not see my ashes?
Forming itself into clouds, above
When it is overcast -
It rains down
Over the verdant cemetery
JANITORS OF MY OPEN HEART
Who else will be wondering;
How have I taken
colour of my heart
in a flight to the skies
What is it about, that
in every wandering
I shed my autumn leaves
like an empty branches
Where are the janitors
of my open heart
The moment I bleed
Pinions of my flight take a woeful roost
(Tapeshwar Prasad, working as a Graphic designer at St. Xavier's College, Patna, Bihar (India). I was awarded Bihar Wibhuti Samman for my social work. I have authored blend of five surrealistic and realistic poetry books, and has been featured in Camel Saloon (U.K.), Cordite Poetry Review (Australia), Crushing Waves, The Aquillrelle Wall of Poetry (USA) and many others. I was included four times as ICOP: Roll of Honour by Sir Louis Kasatkin, U.K.)
The Beautiful Space-