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The Linen Man Suite by Lorie Broumand

The Sale

 

The linen man was having a sale. The townspeople got up early to buy linens.

The linen man had boasted of his sale for seven years, and the townspeople were driven by a rabid impatience. They’d pressured him to hold it now, and then now, and so on.

On the day of the sale, the town was caught up in a colossal heat. It was uncommon, so early in the summer, and the townspeople swung their limbs in wretchedness. Henny and Ida claimed the temperature had increased daily as the sale neared.

Others noticed this, too; worse, the air took on a density that smelled of flowers. It was clear from the smell these flowers had flourished in the heat, grown large in it, and died. The townspeople chose not to say anything, as it was unpleasant in a variety of ways. They held handkerchiefs over their faces as they walked to the linen sale.

The sun hadn’t come up yet, and all but one of the streetlights along the linen man’s street had gone out. It was too hot to fix them, so no one had, and the solitary light turned the air an uncomfortable green.

“There’s something linen-like about that shade of green,” said Mrs. R.

“It’s not the shade of green you’re noticing, it’s that machine sound,” said Mr. L.

“It’s the smell,” said Ms. X, “which is clearly linen in nature.”

Mr. L and Ms. X were notoriously confident about the superiority of their perceptions.

Townspeople streamed into the linen man’s street. The machine sound was very loud there, and a large object shook under a piece of plastic.

Near the object was a crate of cubes.

The townspeople needed dishcloths, bedclothes, curtains, and shirts. But they saw none of this—merely the cubes, and the density in the air.

Mrs. R drew a line through the air, an involuntary motion.

“Linen sale,” called the linen man. He ushered the townspeople with his hands.

 

 

Continue reading “The Linen Man Suite by Lorie Broumand”

Bear off a Leash by Stephen Lightbown

I’m out with Bear on Victoria Street

who pads on all fours beside my wheelchair.

Slaloms his way through the soil rain that falls

from freshly watered hanging-baskets perched

like floral eagles on London’s lampposts.

Cranes observe from above as they deliver skips

to third floors without lifts and walls.

Wet nose to the ground, tension stretches

his sinews. His fur bristles. Always moments

from mayhem. The street is a treadmill in reverse,

every third door a Pret, repetition everywhere.

Step step Pret. Step step Pret. Step step Pret.

Tourists and commuters momentarily forget their handhelds.

It’s clear we don’t belong here.

I am wary of Bear. I want to get to the station

without incident. A wheelie suitcase here. Double pram there.

Sideways glances. Unseen fury from Bear.

Bubbles of rage fight for release.

Bear explodes. Chaos.

Now on two legs he claws at a man on a bike

for hire. Interloper on the pavement, briefcase

and Metro in the basket. He has spun too close

to our tension in his race

for AOB at 9am. Bear scratches

at the fact we are different. That in this city

of a million faces we stand out below eye level.

The commuter cyclist is collateral damage. An accident.

Like we once were.

Lava eyes ignore sense. He’s too strong for me.

I grasp at the space where moments ago he was.

Bear stop, what are you doing? Let it go. I plead.

Bear replies: Say he deserved it.

Bear is lost in the woods. Redwoods loom,

their branches retreat, unable to contain contempt.

You’re pathetic, stand up for yourself. Say I was right.

Bear is a dot. Lost to me.

No good ever comes when he is like this. I know what he thinks.

If people want to stare, give them a show.

Take me out from the trees, put me in a Big Top.

Silence and shame will deliver us to the station.

But Bear is right.

Can’t you control your bear? Pedals the victim. Continue reading “Bear off a Leash by Stephen Lightbown”

A Catalogue of Small Shatterings by Makensi Ceriani

I have always had a fascination with transformation. With taking incongruent parts to make a whole. With cutting and stripping and building up from the bottom and the artist as self-portrait. I could easily be found in childhood obsessing over the arrangement of furniture and décor of my Laura Ashley doll house. Today this is a dining room with a red velvet tablecloth and a chandelier light that chimes a segment from the Four Seasons because my Polly Pocket is the queen and she’s having the tour group Bratz over for tea. Tomorrow it is a miniature of my family’s dining room with boxes and old paint chips and no tablecloth and striped walls that look like silk and show damage easily.

Most of my toys were dolls, the easiest to buy for a girl, the easiest to buy for a child who liked to imagine new worlds. I remember the Betty Spaghetti dolls with neon bodies and plastic hair whose arms and torsos and heads could pop out to be interchangeable. To be made anew. How many times did I snap and unshape the forms of girls to get the end result I wanted. How many times did I teach myself what is, is not always. I remember the What’s Her Face dolls with smooth, blank complexions I could stamp their expressions on. This one is surprised. This one is happy. This one has stars for eyes and an eye for a mouth. The stars were permanent marker, the eye easily removed. My mother did not buy me anymore of those dolls after that. She would tell me not to cut Barbie’s hair because it did not grow back; I could not understand her anger when I cut my own bangs with clunky construction paper scissors. I thought we both knew it would grow back. It must have been the shock, of my swift reveal from one face to another. She must not have recognized me. I was not allowed to cut my hair again. Continue reading “A Catalogue of Small Shatterings by Makensi Ceriani”

Two Poems by Anna Wall

Of the sea

 

I was not formed from earth:

A dirty rib, used and scratching.

His name wasn’t on the birth certificate.

 

A womb of one’s own, forged in a locked room—

Nourished by sadness and

the shame they made her feel.

 

The sea always felt like home,

wind born waves held me.

Rocked me to sleep in a salted cradle.

 

Sometimes the monsters would come—

Emerging from beneath,

threatening to take my legs.

 

They never could, and I floated

eyes skyward.

Wishing I could row.

 

Continue reading “Two Poems by Anna Wall”

Stealing Sleipnir by Alison Lock

In Nordic mythology Sleipnir is Odin’s steed, the foal of Loki and Svaðilfari

 

I am fastened to the skim-race of a sly night.

Shadows fall, tin pots clank, slab-roofs trill.

My eyelids stutter. A silhouette before me – equine-like,

up-folded wings, serrations of fine spine-feathers.

A shadow-foal, a rider with a ghost-drawn face, lines

ploughed by a brazen sun or a blistering frost.

 

There’s the fit-fickle thunder-hiss of a merciless wind: all clinker,

the slag of irradiated soil, metal shards, eyelets, pinions,

grease, the multifarious detritus of battle. Odin seeks his revenge.

 

I run from the ankle-snatch of tumbleweed. Weightless. Slipping

through a crack of light, I cross the threshold

in a screech, as if all nesting owls have been released.

Continue reading “Stealing Sleipnir by Alison Lock”

How to Tell Men Apart by Breslin White

If it’s a backflip, then it’s Star

Wars. If it’s a front flip, then

it’s swimming. The exception is

when Luke pulls out his green light

saber from nowhere. If the only

swimmer you know is Michael Phelps,

then you may be guilty of watching

the morning news, as well as

breaking your swimmer’s diet on

Thanksgiving. “Only a few days

left until New Years resolutions,”

you say. But I need a tell, a

safety valve. A promise to keep

the athlete fit. When we can’t tell,

then I feel constrained, lost. My

gills subside in these shallow waters.

 

Continue reading “How to Tell Men Apart by Breslin White”

What Else Can I Do? by Rob True

Working while the madness allows. On and off. As little as possible, to tell the truth. It’s fuckin killing me. Shattered image of me in desolate dream mirror and somewhere outside me, floating. Holding it together and holding it down, best as I can. Opioid void of nowhere droid.

Tramadol, Morphine, Temgesic relief. Stolen from medicine cupboards and begged off anyone with a bad back, or broken bones. Prescribed for shoulder injury, used for cracked mind. Takes the edge off. Keeps the shadows from closing in. Stops the terrible doom feeling it’s all going to come crashing down around me. Everything I’ve tried hard to create as a better life. An illusion of peace and sanity. All removed by madness. Deleted. Love too? Without the love, I’d disappear. Dissolve into background of blue blur fuzz. Leave only eyeballs floating in air against blue backdrop. Continue reading “What Else Can I Do? by Rob True”

Three Poems by Ivan de Monbrison

Another Journey

 

It’s still early

you’re through with work now

you go home and the streets are crowded with passers-by

there is like the deafening sound of a song in the headphones over your ears that isolates you more or less from the others

so you take off the headphones

but it is not you that I see in the street

but a stranger

and I don’t know if I am dreaming or not

as you have deserted me

so I don’t care anymore about anything

and I walk back home like a ghost Continue reading “Three Poems by Ivan de Monbrison”

Solitaire by Attracta Fahy

‘I don’t know what to feel, she said,

now you know the truth,

How can this cloak of shame

that shawls my body,

scrape the bad feeling from my skin?’

 

Where are the sisters, brothers, 

in psyche to reassure? 

 

What is it when we reveal scars

that make us who we are?

Through windows, basin eyes

stare at mine, precious

manuscript blobbed in stains.

 

And who can tell if pain has learned

to smile? Easier to blame ourselves,

to break the occult code

on your soul. Head in arms,

muscled over piercing ears.

Hearing either wounds,

or heals the listener.

 

There are no accolades for

this epic journey,

bare labyrinthine thorns,

a broken bird lived – in faith

that love would come,

sea silk full with arduous baggage,

holding the key.

 

Across fields, buttercups

carpet grass, tiny cauldrons

filled with sun.

Within, a door stayed open.

The cow who listened, benevolent

eyes cushioned youth, flaying on

a makeshift swing.

But never mind those things

for now,

You are here, and

I am listening. 

 

Continue reading “Solitaire by Attracta Fahy”

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