TWO POEMS by Kristen Greenwood

BATH

floating on the pond

up 202—

the one with a wood plank

that sticks itself to the

thick green muck

of algae every summer,

the spot where turtles

congregate and

fight for a spot

in the sun,

the one where I learned

to ice skate,

small blades

chopping at slush,

a streetside

hand-painted sign

proclaiming in yellow

blocks

SKATE AT YOUR OWN

RISK—

a flock of Canada geese

has found a place

to bathe,

the black canes

of their necks

gently arched above

the just-thawed

surface.

I wonder when I

will become so used

to this world

and so comfortable in

my right to be in it

that I can make

any place I stop

a temporary home.


WANDER

the well-worn path

weaves past the farm

and into

the shadowed hills.

as I walk,

cut grass

wets my

ankles,

sickly sweet,

laid out

to dry.

pink-headed

thistles

bow to the breeze.

a pair

of small birds,

brown as pears

and just as able

to rest

in my open palms,

criss-cross in the air

a foot away

from my chest,

stunned into flight

by the noise

of my presence:

insect whine,

the bend, tug,

and snap

of stems at my hips

and underfoot,

the sour-green burrs

biting lovingly

into my clothes,

seeking a ride

far from

home

the dappled sunlight

through the trees

is turned

upside down

below the groaning

bridge

as if to say

yes,

you can get

lost here,

but would you

even mind?


Kristen Greenwood is a contributing poet and editor of The Unpublishable Zine, a Connecticut native, and a 25-year-old poet who dreams of becoming a witch and fleeing to a cottage in the woods with her fiancé. When a global crisis does not confine her to her apartment, she enjoys wandering through the stacks of her local library, hiking, and sipping iced coffee. When a global pandemic does confine her to her apartment, she enjoys playing an inordinate amount of Animal Crossing.

FIVE POEMS by Kushal Poddar

TWO SLEEPING PILLS

I take two sleeping pills and stay awake

rocking night, neurotic, in my arms.

Night shrieks and cries, wants to be 

an owl too big to hold and not to let it fly.

The next moment is unpredictable. A Lynch film. 

Here comes a madman ringing every door

except ours which I open as he approaches.

Beneath the cherry tree in neighbour’s yard 

a bassinet glows in the dark. How many right angles

an hour hand makes in a day? Night sits bolt tight

on the basin of my arms as I sway.


THE POWER OF ONE DARK AND TAN FOX

Años antes, we saw the black and red fox

crossing, near the fence between two countries.

and without a reason sometimes I catch time

wriggling its fur dark and tan, almost faux,

through the barbwire of relationships.

What we were doing on that day? Details antiquated,

what remains remains to recall something else

and if recalled shall wither with too much of life.

Was it the day we almost crossed the border

of wishful thinking about a felony and acting on it?

That would explain the memory’s persistence

and pursuance of forgetting.

The fox turns its head to my reverie drowned self

sometimes. I keep my eyes closed on those nights.

Your hand finds my shivering and pet the same

without any affection.


SPURNED

A desert for acres infinite, 

rambles with your thirst, 

but if you have a fruit bite it 

and suck its spirit, let the seeds 

shower over the arid dirt 

as this land is known for 

the growths of plants beyond any logic.

I may find you and shall ask –

“Why am I here meandering?

Perhaps, if this fulfills 

the ugly promises of any desert,

my hallucination provides your sustenance.

Again, we are talking about deserts.

Maybe you stumble here, not me; 

you talk to me as if I am your oasis 

or a cruel joke leading you, 

thereby me too, to a slow quietus.


RITUALS

The Sunday ritual – let the last drink

plummet into the forbidden depth

of a memory recalled during the family dinner,

let my slumber be the night watchman

at the anamnesis orphanage. Of course,

night wings above; its shrill cawing dies when

the seminary gate squeals, and nothing enters.

Why do you collect bones of forgetting?

Why do we talk during a good meal?

Here I drive my hands through the marsh.

I know about the body and the liturgy

we took so seriously. The whiskey drops

to the soft shattering of the cut glass.

A Sunday performance, I’ll bleed to sleep.


CRASHING A NIGHT POOL

The night swing pool, a shot of affluenza

to immunize me against the sombre of the time,

the caretaker who took bucks to let me crush the club

drinks the cheapest spirit. I can strike a matchstick

against the smell in the wind and a fire may blast in the premises.

A car gravels the silence. Perhaps the patrons return.

Take a deep breath, let your skin disintegrate

under water, so black and blue, ripples of tealights 

and panic above your head. Good advice, 

but one cannot imagine what I think, 

how I become a blind dolphin

in a bonsai river waiting for the accidental fishing net.


A poet and a father, Kushal edited magazine “Words Surfacing” and authored The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Understanding The Neighborhood, Scratches Within, Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems, Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems and Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse – A Prequel. Find and follow him amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet

A POEM by Steve Golds

A SUMMER DAY DRAGGING LIKE

the untied lace of a dirty sneaker. 

All the coins in a wishing well 

rusted circa 1980. 

An old Ford up on bricks 

its engine gone. 

I held ocean water 

in my cupped palms once 

& saw only the sky there, no gods. 


Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novel Say Goodbye When I’m Gone will be released by Red Dog Press in October 2020 and another novel Glamour Girl Gone will be released by Close to The Bone Press January 2021.

POSTCARD POEMS by Aura Martin

Photographs by Aura Martin.

Missouri is home with trees and rolling hills. Speed limit 65. Along I-70 there are billboard signs for adult shops. Lion’s Den. An advertisement for Ozark chocolate. Blue masks swing on the rearview mirrors. Driving west, the landscape turns into a prairie.

Kansas. Speed limit 75. Amid the prairie there are corn fields. Billboards showcase quilt shops. Paintings of Jesus stand next to the highway. From the brown field, those brown eyes are watching you. Driving west, there are windmills with silver blades and in the wind the prairie moves like a green ocean.

Colorado. Running out of prairie, the horizon is turning into purple clouds – the Rockies. Driving up into the mountains, the road switches to two-lane. Twice we slow down due to accidents. Sharp turns, uphill, downhill. Stressful. Hugging the rocks are lodges, ski resorts, and homes for retirees. Smoke puffs from Charcoal Burgers’ chimneys. The scenic train follows the Colorado river. After many tunnels under the mountains, we enter a landscape morphing into a desert.

Utah. A sign limits speed to 80; another warns no service for 45 miles. We’re in the desert. Yet we pass trucks hauling boats. One is blue-and-yellow striped named Dog-On-It. The ground is flat, dusty with clumps of grass. Mountains mirage in the distance. We pass several towns. Yellowcat disappears behind us just like the others, towns with no bathrooms, restaurants, or gas stations. Long-sleeved shirts and towels protect us from the unforgiving sun. One sign along the highway warns that “fatigued driving causes fractured driving,” or was that a mirage, too? More signs. Ghost Rock. Eagle Canyon. Millers Canyon. The last I checked, the elevation was 7886 feet above sea level.

People wearing masks appear in my dreams.

Arizona. We weave in and out among the mountains heading downhill. Huge, grey jagged walls of rock shoulder the highway, and suddenly we are 2000 feet above sea level.


Nevada. A new view. Mountains with flat tops. Joshua trees. Valley of Fire, Lake Mead State Park, and finally Las Vegas. A drive through Sin City on a Sunday. Billboards for slots, magic shows, and cocktail parties. Ads for window shutters and dice. Mr. Vegas says wear a mask. I see a woman in a bikini top and shorts. Two skinny, shirtless men, one sporting American flag shorts, the other in brown shorts with a cigarette between his teeth. None wear masks. At least Caesar has a mask, a gold one, and we leave the city, always heading west.

California. Starting elevation 4000. Downhill 11 miles past Joshua trees and rocky hills. Traffic snakes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on a Sunday, along with a boat named Better When Wet. Call boxes line the highway. One billboard implores drivers to wear a mask to slow the spread. Death Valley. There is a glassy refractive pink tinge to the clouds. As the sun sets, a plume of smoke obscures a wildfire in the distance.

At last sea level. Mask in one hand, shoes in the other, we walk along the shore. I set foot in the Pacific Ocean. The water is cold. I feel the push and pull of the tide. I look out to the horizon. This is as far west as our car can take us. Here is where our journey ends.


Aura Martin (she/her) is a graduate of Truman State University. She is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Those Embroidered Suns (Lazy Adventurer Publishing) and the micro-chapbook Thumbprint Lizards (Maverick Duck Press). She is a 2020 Sundress Publications Best of the Net nominee. Her work has appeared in ang(st) zine, Capulet Mag, and Variant Literature among others. In Aura’s free time, she likes to run and take road trips. Find her on Twitter @instamartin17.

ALARM CLOCK by Fizza Abbas

I’m sorry, mama
Your memories have become an alarm clock
that I happily bought from the bazar,
excitedly kept on my side table,
but snoozed off when I wanted more hours
to convince myself, it’s a dream,
you don’t exist anymore.


Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her work has been appeared or is forthcoming in quite a few platforms including Poetry Village, Poetry Pacific, The Stone of Madness Press, The Daily Drunk, Neuro Logical Magazine, Serotonin Poetry, Versification, One Hand Clapping Magazine, London Grip and elsewhere. She can be reached at @fizzawrites on Twitter.

TWO POEMS by Jaachi Anyatonwu

FOR BOYS WHO ARE DEAD ROSES

you grew in the heat of neglect between

the cracks of a concrete floor, piercing

through the hostile bars of parched clay.

you break free!

your fragile stem inhales

its first fresh air

you spread your arms like leaves & dance

to the music of rushing wind

you dig your feet root-deep in the soil

& hope to sip nutritional goodness enough

to feed the flowers of your budding dreams

night time. day time. cold shivers. sunny days.

you wrestle with time, breathe in carbon &

exhale wishes, nursing your flowers until it blooms.

like sunflower (a rose, maybe), that morning, with the rising sun,

you open the petals of your dreams to a world red & yellow,

bold, oozing fragrance.

before night fall, off come the petals

nipped from its bud. stomped. destroyed. rejected –

you watch your dream wilt. die. decay.

you feel pangs of rejection, you want to eat yourself

& pour your grief into a cup of vinegar,

crown yourself with wreathes made of decomposing hay. mayhaps,

it will drown the pain & help you believe in fantasies, again.

but nothing really is as heavy as a rose in a casket


FOR BOYS WHO CAME, SAW & WERE CONQUERED

We stuck our arms through the bars

clawing for freedom from ugly circumstances

We danced like the flicker of candle light in dark streets

beckoning on illumination to light up our darkest nights

We drizzled like rainfall through the night

wetting our parched dreams with tears

We stood tall like lamp posts on deserted cities

waving torn flags of peace, with waring demons

We quivered like a reed in the wind

longing for calm in the inside

We nudged hope, crawling on skinned knees, across coals

baiting for wisdom to discern drought from deluge

We hoped to break records

we got broken instead


Jaachi Anyatonwu is a contributor at Poemify Publishers, a literary blog for young African writers. His poems have been published in several print and online publications, including ACEworld Magazine, WRR, AllPoetry, Poemify, Poetry Soup, Tush Stories, and African Writers.

THE SPACE IN BETWEEN by Mac Goodwin

before       there were fast things
                       bright    circling    things
                  distractions to     retreat     into

                  life chugged along

                      you    took    trains        with the one you love
                           watched the rapid     retreat     of thoughts through the window
                              swept up      in the tunnels   and wind
                      and you chugged    distracting    liquids with friends

               you worked
                   often   choked   by the speed of   approach
               but it was normal

                 you received therapy
                    a gift, wrapped in cardboard and      posted   second class
                 but when it arrived it was beautiful
                            bright white and     spacious
                                 revealing

                 you took deep, agonising breaths    full    of   it
                      holding them in


then            there was panic

       a   sudden   breathless rush
               coming in from  the   cold;    a ruthless, aching wind
           before  all   life    slowed      down

        trains    passed    through         empty stations
             pasta briefly   graced   empty shelves
          beds emptied      and refilled

       there were some fast goodbyes

          and then    you were home
            surrounded and  thawing  but somehow alone
        therapy came  crackling     and   broken   by   static     down the phone
               work arrived  in    spluttering    bursts;   and then it     flowed

           and there was no   time   to     think
                    no time     to breathe   or    seek         a safer   place   inside
                but you did not   mourn    these things   –   they had barely crossed your mind

now           there is some pause


             a        slowing down of sorts
                 as life begins   to    open     up
                        albeit        at a   changing speed

               the flow of work    splutters    almost to a    halt
                       a trickle
                 and you can   breathe   just for a moment

        but in the   freshness   of     this breath
                      there is a   sour note
                   a sense of    older problems    creeping in
                     now they have been awarded    space    to   swell    and    bloat
                              to regain old   hard-fought    ground


                     and still, there are   no    swooping    trains      to be   whisked away   by
                              no touch to be    taken over    and consumed by
                       not even the familiar    rush of cool air    to be    renewed    by


             you do not know    what to do    with these sprawling empty days
                       but this   painful part   of you does; it    rushes in    with anxious thought
                                  to fill the space in between
                         and   pull you   to the very edges of the room       squealing   and   taut


                 therapy salvages    some clarity again
                                in terrifying painful truths it says
                       you must   reclaim   the air it swallows every day
                          and   step into   the space  instead

                    you must   reframe    the time it takes
                                  not as some     sorry stolen thing
                               but as an opportunity to bring
                                       your fullest self to the fight
 
                               an opportunity
                                     to     stretch     yourself out    –    astonished,   and renewed
                                 and   extend   into    the light


Mac is a writer from Manchester, currently studying in Sheffield. He writes mostly poetry, and enjoys writing surreal, dream-like poetry focusing on his own experiences battling mental health issues. He also enjoys dystopian and Lovecraftian short fiction, and the overlap between this and his poetry. You can find him on Twitter @mac__goodwin, or on his website mac-goodwin.com

THREE POEMS BY MILES COOMBE

By Miles Coombe

WIRES

Do you hear the wires sing?

Sharpen your teeth on the old stones

The land is a noise of omens

Little sparks in the darkness 

 

Remnants of an abandoned past

Ancient rusted machines

Animal flesh burnt as offerings

The wires hum in the empty sky

 

Walk with me through brackish water

Ghost soil under our fingernails

Hunters in the borderland

Offering maps of bark to the Other lands

 

When the mist eats away at the forest

We draw substance from our shadows

Making masks and lanterns

Hiding in the Bright Places until the dawn comes

 

Black metal spires in overgrown lanes 

There grow the metal flowers of the night queen

The dark brings such quiet 

And the wires sing in the leftover void

 

Certainty becomes brittle when the new moon shines

And at the edges of the boneyard

Lonely spirits grow bold

Like unstitched wounds in time

 

Decaying concrete underpasses

Soaked in urine and spray paint

Old tower blocks standing in the sputtering ether glow

Breathing is hard in the rancid air

 

Only the most desperate creatures brave the forests of brick and glass

You can feel it trapping them

If only they can make it to the clearing

Unobserved by the lost gods and unattached souls

 

Can you hear the wires sing?

Follow their static moaning through the empty fields

These are the voltage temples 

Do not tread lightly through their doors

 

Not all magics of the night are dispersed by dawn

Some linger still

Trapped in the wires

Singing


By Miles Coombe

FALLEN

You can’t see my wings from over there

They are lost inside a fever dream

Everything is too loud

 

Screaming when the blinds are opened

Beware of those who collect feathers

Landfills full of used up thoughts

 

I burn brighter when you water the flame

Like a peat fire hidden underground

I bet you are made from the most beautiful of stars

 

You have mistook me all this while

Intoxicated with loneliness

A silent corridor of drifting ash

 

Your bandages make me turn feral

I change the sheets each day but its leaking out of me

Every night I dream of paradise

 

There is always the taste of vodka in my mouth

My teeth never feel sharp enough

The homesickness makes my jaw ache

 

I sit at the back of every old church

In every lost town, in every forgotten world

Blinded by the incense

 

You can’t see my wings from over there

But they burn on the inside

Maybe one day I will get to go home


REFUGE

When the world is cruel, we seek refuge in others

Delicious moments of terror

A sense of what is buried below

Dappled smears of psychic history

 

Haunted by all the journeys never made

There are lines drawn on the land

Old TVs and piles of asbestos

Violently weaponised loneliness

 

The Silence will follow you

Like a nauseous adrenaline chill

An apocalypse of quiet and unploughed fields

The white ash of Solstice bonfires

 

I had that dream again

The one where all those dead crows come back to life

I’m seeing pathways to God

In the geometry of the skeletal leaves

 

Don’t confuse vulnerability with weakness

Those are the waiting areas

Drowned in the smell of failed metaphysics

The place where the shadows thicken

 

Monsters are the patron saints of our imperfections 

The wheel keeps turning

Negative and positive

Underworld and wide open sky

What is the reality of my feelings?

I sleep with bone fragments under my pillow

Searching for the Mist Gates and the liminal borders

A hovering fairyland of soft dreams

How desolate everything is

Your thoughts shift in the hazy light

You must contain the darkness

Absorb it, accept it, and move on


Miles Coombe (he/him) is a queer multidisciplinary artist living in London. He is fascinated by the idea of modern fairy-tales. He often combines the words that he writes with the artworks that he makes. His writings are based on youth / obsession / loss / nostalgia / memory / dreams / mental health / folklore and apocalyptic landscapes. Find him at; www.trashprincemusic.com and https://twitter.com/trashprincemuse

A POEM BY LITTLE BEE

Int. A bar frequented by university students. Jaunty.

Coursemates, strong G&T in hand, 

I wanted to bop my head to Chelsea Dagger, Mr Brightside, S Club 7

When you’re in a dim enough room, everyone’s music taste becomes shite 

Until I see him, weaving his way through the crowd to get to me

“Hi, are you [REDACTED]?” He says

“Yes,” I say and before I can add anything else he says 

“Are you from Hong Kong?” 

“Um yes?” now I’m fully aware of how different I look, how I’ve always looked to everyone in situations like these  

“Can you tell me about China.” 

A command. Not an ask. Not even a “please”.

His eyes – bright, gleaming, hungry. 

You know where I’ve seen that before? 

When you were wanking off religiously to your poster of Princess Leia in your sock strewn teenage bedroom. 

So what would you like me to do? 

Don that bronze bikini, look up at you with soft doe eyes, 

Not a space bun out of place as I charged through acrid cloudsof tear gas 

And running from trucks of liquid blasts.   

Do you want me to let you hold my lightsaber? 

The very one that sliced through showers of rubber bullets. 

Oh don’t be scared, rubber bullets bounce off my bronze clad boobs. 

That’s what the bikini is for.  

“Oh I’ve been reading the news. BBC, the Guardian, Bloomberg.” 

I believe you’re well-read alright. 

Do you delight in knowing that the BBC writes Orwellian fanfiction

And Big Brother is watching you.  

That the Thought Police exist, making you an ThoughtCriminal. 

You want to look over your ThoughtShoulder

Because you’ve successfully Thought round the Doublethink

Thoughtfully tucking your chin deeper in your trench coat 

As you furiously jot down words of Thoughtfreedom in Thoughtbooklets

To secretly slip into Thoughtpockets of those 

Whose thoughts have thought to also been Thought-enlightened. 

But unlike our thoughts, 

Yours are not reduced to mnemonic dashes and dots, 

Our heads are held underwater, 

You can lift yours to breathe anytime. 

Sure, I can tell you a couple things – 

The bad can easily lop off the hands of the good 

They will wrench out our teeth one by one 

They will grab our tongues from the insides of our mouths 

And their knives will cut its stem like butter. 

You may still write in the sand but only 

If your feet sweep away each new word. 

If there is a god in the machine 

We have dug our nails in so hard in the metal that 

The claw marks streak red 

Only to drag our exhausted, battered bodies to the other side

To realise that the steel cavity is blackened and empty. 

The sand that our blood dripped in is ash. 

Don’t come for me in the darkened room 

Asking for my name and where I’m from. 

My name is not Princess Leia, 

I am shackled to the seat after the credits roll.

A POEM ABOUT A POEM BY FIZZA ABBAS

What is a poem: an expression of words 

or a Morse code for introverts?

I want to know. 

Would you consider this poem literary? 

No, it doesn’t roll like a blue ball, 

the spill of ink, the nib of peace –  

the colour of everything important.

It just settles at the bottom, 

like feigned copper sulphate crystals 

that you wanted to ignore in your chemistry class 

but your teacher told you sulphur is important 

so you sniffed some sprinkles of copper too 

but forgot to make use of it; 

to add copper as a reactant while writing an equation in your final exam. 

But you still passed your chemistry exam. 

Now when you are celebrating your success, copper is reading quietly in a nook

words like sonnet, haiku, lyric, villanelle and pentameter

that she couldn’t ever find in her DNA, her formula.


Fizza Abbas is a Freelance Content Writer based in Karachi, Pakistan. She is fond of poetry and music. Her work has been appeared or is forthcoming in quite a few platforms including Poetry Village, Poetry Pacific, The Stone of Madness Press, The Daily Drunk, Neuro Logical Magazine, Serotonin Poetry, Versification, One Hand Clapping Magazine, London Grip and elsewhere. She can be reached at @fizzawrites on Twitter.