FIVE POEMS BY ALEXIS ARROWSMITH

THESE FENS

Though I am of the sea,
of dockers and sailors of the western shore,
I take now, for time however short,
these eastern fens, as home
and hope that I would be so bless’d
as for them to take me as of theirs


THE LAKE ON MOUNT PLEASANT

How did it get there?
A pool, not a puddle –
metres wide, too much
to jump.
We had to navigate around and
be splashed by
the passing cars uncaring.
Why does it stay?
Oh, how odd.
I do love it, though.


THE WORLD IS ENDING

The world is ending.
Fires reign in the skies and
the Earth splits below us and
sends storms fast to kill us.

The world is ending.
And I seek comfort just,
of warm flame, cool rain and crevice in which
to spend my dying days.

The world is ending.


A PRAYER FOR THE DARKNESS

O deep pit,
Swallow whole the offerings of my soul
That I have laid before you
O consume me, deep darkness, consume me

O twisted pit,
Steal fast the secrets I hold and the stories I hide
And know the vast shadow within me
O consume me, twisted thing, consume me

O wicked pit,
Corrupt my heart and my mind with your wretched words
Which sow the seeds of chaos
O consume me, wicked whisperer, consume me

O hungry pit,
Devour the food I give, the lost relics and remnants
These most precious parts of myself
O consume me, hungry hollow, consume me

O you ancient, nameless horrors
O deep darkness, swallow me
O twisted thing, steal me
O wicked whisperer, corrupt me
O hungry hollow, devour me
O creatures of the abyss, consume me all and make me whole


A LOVE POEM

I want to tell you I love you.
I want to say it over and over
I love you, I love you, I love you.
Til I’m crying. Overflown.

But you wouldn’t understand.
Conjured images of
intimacy and abandon.
As if I’ve dedicated
Myself to you.
But it’s not –
I don’t want that.

I have all these feelings
So big and so much.
How I appreciate you and
How you brighten my day and
Make me laugh and smile and
Make me feel alright again.

And I don’t have the words for that.
I was never taught them.
All these familiar trappings
I find myself stuck within;
Misleading and deceiving
They twist my words.
Make it something it’s not.

These aesthetics, they’ve weasled
Inside my mind, made me obsessed.
Made it hard to see and express
The way I am,
Outside the paradigm.
And yet,

I love you,
So much and
Thank you…
Thank you for being there
And for being my friend.
It was all I ever needed.


Alexis is a genderqueer anarchist poet hailing from the Wirral but living and studying in Cambridge. Xaer poetry revolves around religious wonder in the natural world, liberation and expression of identity – especially trans and aromantic ways of being. Xae can be found on Twitter at @LSV_Lichen on Twitter, and on xaer poetry blog at https://eachandeverystar.blogspot.com/

THREE POEMS BY KUSHAL PODDAR

PHILOSOPHY OF THE BLIND

The way someone blind 
wears his ignorance and
gallivants through a throng

Tim holds his hope, says,
“It’s me.” over the phone
to the number his deceased
wife used until the May end.
May means many things.
May all calls are answered.
The blind reaches the crossroads.
Here sometimes sights return
although it costs the vision.


THE BATTLE OF THE MASKS

The savage arrives as one and in scads,
and it has no mask, its grin naked as
serrated knife. The victim, on the other hand,
wears one carefully forged from cotton clothes
by his wife when the authority encourages
making those at home, wearing them outside.

These are the days. Pandemic, pandemic – susurrate
from the unused coffee machine to the dying fauna of the zoo
unvisited, almost everything. Your daughter goes
to the novel virus potluck party where kids frenzied
on the dearth of high invite someone blighted, and
the chicken dinner shall go to the one who may catch
the infection. These are the days. I climb up the slope
toward the house with the widow in the window,
in my hand a cardboard box of ashes, and startled
at the cacophony I see, I have never seen
such a gathering of birds in the firmament.
The teeth of the clouds, unmasked, pose as if
there exists a hiss somewhere in the blue.


MY SAVIOUR

Turn on the street lights.
A car chokes at “Step away
from the car with hands
where I can see those.”.

Kneel into the ebony asphalt,
utter, “I have a son back home.”
and see the anorexic shadow
of some tree donated to the city

dying and rebounding into another birth
as the cop car flash rotates this chronotope.

I lift my head to see the gun. Why now
reels the hymn -‘Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives,
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”‘
in my kidney and spleen and liver and heart.
Where does this consciousness exist?

“Keep those hands where I can see.”
Blue and Red and slim fit tree, oh I know
my Saviour lives.


A poet and a father, Kushal Poddar, edited a magazine – Words Surfacing, authored seven volumes of poetry including The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Eternity Restoration Project – Selected and New Poems and Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse -A Prequel. Find and follow him here.  

TWO POEMS BY KRISTEN GREENWOOD

ON THE FIRST DAY THAT ALL OF THIS IS OVER,

i will kiss / the first / kind stranger i find / square on their lips, / our teeth clapping together / like tumbling pebbles, / like dice / in a gambler’s hand. / i will set up a table / and chairs / in the middle of the street / and sip on scalding tea / while traffic / angrily / whips by. / i will fall asleep / at the filthy counter / of the dive bar / down the street / where old / and toothless men / with silver hair / down to their asses / reeking of smoke / or manure / or motor oil / play pool / and i will / delight / when the bartender has to shake my shoulders / to wake me. / i will sample fruit / in the middle of the produce section / of the supermarket, / citrus juice / sticking down my arms, / slurping the wet flesh, / pawing the rinds / while mothers stare. / i will crash / the first wedding / in town, / the first wedding After, / get wildly drunk / on bourbon / and dance on a table holding the bride’s hands. / i will run / into the wilderness / for however many miles / it takes to find a fox, / screaming in their shrill tongue. / i will watch / their feline eyes, / for certainly they will have forgotten / the look / and smell / and beautiful, homely vulgarity / of humanity.


TRIGGER WARNING: The next poem has themes of childhood sexual trauma and PTSD.


THE JOURNEY

1.

somewhere all is well.

2.

strange, isn’t it,

how trauma holds on

to a body,

how in one drive home

the spectral hands

of a grandfather long dead

traipse

across the seatbelt

and crawl

under my shirt,

how, all at once,

I can

smell the withering

of his deodorant

on the shelf

feel the ribbed threads

of the wife beater

sitting across his

weak chest

the gray hairs

curling over

the neckline

and how,

in a time that is

both here and not-here,

the car that I am driving

meets a force both moving

and immovable,

the front tire sinking to

the pavement,

candy red fender

cracked and caving in,

shuddering,

how my very real hands

remember being thrown

to the windshield,

splitting seams of skin,

diamonds embedded

into the wells

of my knuckles

3.

somewhere,

a girl makes love

and isn’t afraid

of who she’ll see

if she closes

her eyes.

somewhere, her

hands guide

her lover’s and

she knows

they’re his.

4.

“I know, sometimes,

it feels like this

is all that you are,

but it isn’t.”

my love

leans his head on

my shoulder

and I wet

his beard.

5.

doesn’t a body

ever grow

tired

of re-living?

doesn’t it want

to unravel

these memories

like a VHS tape,

its thin, black,

intestinal film

spilling into

a pile

at its feet?

6.

somewhere

in a theater

400 miles from my home

a man picks

at a guitar,

bellows

that I am indelible

and unbreaking,

and it fills the warm room

to its baroque, circular

ceiling

as winds off the Erie

howl outside.

I quietly weep.

7.

somewhere

may not be a place

I can reach

just yet

but somewhere

close to Appalachia

the pale

gray sky matches

the cracked road

leading me

along the snow-covered

lake

and a single shack

stands

in the golden

tall grass,

a row of upturned

and empty

kayaks

loaf on the shore

outside of its

locked door,

half submerged

in wet sand,

waiting

for summer.


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 LARS BANQUO

DECEMBER’S SUNDAY IN SAVANNAH

It’s as if
all paper
& all ink
joined the wind &
fled for the hills—
     as if Memory became God again—

the man bathed in rags
thundered
his psalms
in the cold park by the
old tree—

he wove his fingers
into the Moon’s most
precious strings
and
as master
he made purgatory lurch and
dance
across the afternoon—


THE ONLY WARFARE I KNOW I SAW ON TV

Absorbing metal on
metal
on Metal on
METAL:

chemical burns on the chest,
no need for gloves or jackets—
it’s nothing but blisters out here.

The city shakes with
rage, the rage
has its own
gravity,
its own orbit:

the city is alive—
the city is alive & open
to everything that drips—

     nothing but shovels &
     carcasses;
     poisoned ideas
     reduced to cutthroat pragmatism
     from the other side
     of the bullets.


WAKE

Fuck It, Dude, It’s Summer

She is restless in her silk—
red wine swimming in place for hours at a time,
looking at the moon, at the sunset.

We speak in tongues we learned only on Ambien.

One space, two
spaces
ahead in the winding
snaking line of past,
present and future throwers of dirt,
she lets her legs so white and unscathed
move slightly beneath the sashaying
of that dress—

the dress could be for church,
but it could also could catch vodka rain on winter mornings
on frozen angel streets—
the dress could be paired with glasses over auburn pools of
honey, a blazer, pink lips.
This time, though, she slipped her body into it
for a wake.

The line snakes around without movement,
lionized by the stench of parlor of
death
of
pomade and ill-fitting duds—

gazes blaze around this candy store
where death and guts are fed by
the lucky dozens who will still breathe more.

Touches her hair once, twice,
the river of red like mirage like crimson trauma
moving together in motion she flicks the cherry lock
back on her slender self,
cherubic mouth alive with the porcelain
freezing her at seventeen—
        or is that just for me?

Brutal snow globe over the week,
covers all with stench,
the stench young boys shouldn’t smell,
or ever be burned in or cried over in.

Boys like this boy—
he should be kept whole, and marched to
the top of a snow-capped mountain,
and can only be joined, celebrated
perhaps rejuvenated,
by those who can climb to where the snow falls down from.

She is there twirling motionlessly,
and I breathe in the skin;
nonetheless, it feels like our prom again,
maybe our wedding,
our births,
our fights,
our smoke and our cancers,
our drugs and our cold,
our tears,
our funerals,
our wakes.


FRESH OUT

for Francesca

I
The moon we share is
yellow & cold; we’ve got the starless
black sea hovering all around us,
suspended like a lost underground city, like
jelly in stoned sleep parking lot—

my suicide stains the stars a violet velvet;
my bed’s still warm in the asylum.

Two leather boots in step with mine, she
breathes warmth into my wooden eyes &
time is like something ugly & dead.

I move toward what will surely be gallows,
belly & lungs full of everything new & foul.

II
She’s got a nickname—
every letter off her tongue rolls
from throat to
pearls to serpent & out over
thunderhills of wet peach lips—
every curl of cascading smile is
born & dies in her
Rocky Mountain eyes.


GREY HOUSE, K HOUSE

Jumbled rage & unfed jargon
pierce the frigid evening—
     orderlies everywhere
     swinging the needles like reapers swing silent Scythes—
they strike down Ophelia in a room
with no windows—


      in a cabin with no fireplace—


Lars Banquo writes unpublishable novels and poetry. He lives in Connecticut.

4 POEMS BY KUSHAL PODDAR

RIDDLES

One July your father disappears.

In his mind someday you will solve

the mystery of logics behind,

never understanding that to decipher

a riddle one needs a partial anamnesis

seeking the wholeness. One July

comes oblivion. A face. Then nothingness.


Most of the years chubasco blows this month.

Some leaves stick to their branches.


MURMURATION

Tim’s daughter’s loneliness kisses 

her tutor’s.

The couch smells of spilled caffeine

dried into dust.

That night the tutor will bury a box in

his backyard –

ash to ashes, dust to dust.


Tim does not know about all these.

He moves his hand to birth a sterlings’ murmuration outside the old mill.

I have nothing more to report for now.


THE UNLOCKING OF THE PUBS

When the pubs open their mouths

between two thighs of pestilence

I bid for a pint of both black and tan.

Saqi, let the thirst die along with the thirsty.

You have a red plague mask on. I raise mine

to sip from the heavy chested glassware.

Social distance makes the squeak and squeal of the rats heard.

Shadows of people populate this ghost town.

Pour a second. I raise my glass, empty.

You can still give those expressions even wearing masks.

An evening for the lady. I order. Wind blows outside.

Everything is heard.


THE SONOGRAM OR A FAULTY MEMORY

The sonogram shows the drowned;

a deep breath begins to singe my inside;

I cannot quite reach the great depth 

where the memories wrecked 

and sunken turn into a shapeless green.

(Imagine something evergreen and yet never in vogue.)


The sonogram, if (“If” – you used to utter

like a long suppressed sneeze) anything,

questions me, “What do you see in this Rorschach?”

and I say, “One man toying with his braised chicken

thinking – the only company he has for dinner is fried and stewed.”


Imagine the object caught by the sonograph 

feels and feels like confessing to someone

typing on an old world typewriter. He has to hit

some keys thrice to get the right impression. 

(Oh, what does it say? I fail my diving instructions again.)


A poet and a father, Kushal Poddar has edited Words Surfacing, a poetry magazine, and is the author of seven volumes of poetry, including The Circus Came To My Island, A Place For Your Ghost Animals, Eternity Restoration Project – Selected and New Poems and Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse – A Prequel. Find and follow him on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.