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Transformations

No (New) Man’s Land – A poem by Joseph Schreiber

No (New) Man’s Land

His is
a life in fluid drawn,
pushed through
scar tissue, muscle yielding.
Pull. Plunge.
Inject. Extract.
New man by
needle-born in flush
of mid-life puberty, 
bending forty
years of life.
Burying facts that
fail to fit.

Continue reading “No (New) Man’s Land – A poem by Joseph Schreiber”

Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia

Punctuality

 

This

This is

This isn’t

This isn’t a

This isn’t a nice

This isn’t a nice, cool

This isn’t a nice, cool dream

This isn’t a cool dream

This isn’t a dream

of a sunny day in

a Cimmerian

night

This may

This may be

This may be even

This may be even worse

This may be even worse than

This may be even worse than a nightmare

This may not be worse than

This may be the worst

This is the worst

ever

the worst ever monster

the worst ever monstrous

the worst ever monstrous, cool

the worst ever monster, nice, cool

dream, which turned into a

nightmare, since we

didn’t wake up

on time Continue reading “Two Poems by Soodabeh Saeidnia”

Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer

I can pinpoint the moment.

A sudden silence of traffic,

and voices

weaving a scary tale,

far away,

then further still.

 

Under the fluorescent lights,

I folded.

 

I didn’t catch anyone’s eye

but breathed deeply.

It didn’t help.

I’d ended up on the ceiling

looking down on myself.

 

My heavy blue beads

clunked and swung

with each swivel of my neck.

No one noticed.

 

Below, the other me had finished her tea

and was sorting change from her purse.

I called out. She didn’t glance up.

 

Rivulets of condensation

on the steamy window

seemed to tell me to follow, follow

as if droplets of water

could guide me home.

 

Continue reading “Dissociation in a Museum Café by Belinda Rimmer”

The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett

It was a surprise to see the danger red, tango orange, white mottle. All the other shellfish she had seen that day in the rock pools had been dark browns, some black elegant creatures. This was a lobster that looked like it was half-cooked, but alive and well, a naturally appealing dinner invitation.

She felt like a child squatting down next to the rock pool. How had he got washed up here, so beautiful against the wrinkled rocks and sighing sand. The day, sunny but with a wind that ran through her ankles and up her skirt occasionally, should have been about observing. She thought she would spend some time looking at the rock pools, looking at the creatures in them, grey and black and brown—crabs moving amongst the husks and wrappers of their dead comrades. Never take a step back, pick up claw from a fallen brother.

She was going to be detached today, she’d promised. She wasn’t going to get involved with anything, she said the creative writing course was helping, but there needed to be more material, more distraction. She’d been told by the tutor that she was a natural journalist, scornfully. Always ready to get involved and meddle in someone else’s story, rather than secretly skimming off the best bits from a distance.

So she would observe today. It was a bit like when she had been dumped by her boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend. The idea was to stay single for a while, to observe the others doing the dance and check she knew the steps.

But here, with this orange lobster in the black bowl of a Welsh rock pool, she decided to engage with it. She started by giving it a nudge with a stick to see how active it was. It was beautiful, so could be dead. It moved and whirled around to look at her, pointedly. She was surprised, and didn’t expect it to be so forward, it was a rare thing and therefore should be shy in her world. Continue reading “The Boyfriend Pinch by Christopher John Eggett”

Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz

Cherry Pit

 

My mouth is a bowl full of pitted cherries. My stomach the bucket for all the swallowed bloody pits. Every word tastes sweet and dark and tart on my tongue, rolling against my blushing cheeks. And when I smile, red love dribbles down my chin.

When I speak, I am tempted to sing like the way the bright pink blossoms burst into bloom in the springtime. The air is fragrant with love and sweetness and honeybees. But at the lightest breeze, fragrant with daffodils and shadows, my flowers fall

in clusters trembling, and I remember the splinters in the black bark of the cherry tree, the amber sap dripping down the exposed inner rings. The long weeping, the unfurling of flowers. And while the axe is out of sight I fear for other trees, and my branches still shake hearing lightning Continue reading “Two Poems by Kate Dlugosz”

Jack by Gene Farmer

It was for Joanna Newsom that I left my wife and children, all of whom I adored more than anything in that world which I left behind and to which I will never go back. My defence is sound, you’ll see.

I’d checked myself into the hospital, just like they tell you to if you’re experiencing difficulties in breathing, have a tight chest and your head is spinning. I passed swiftly through triage and onto a bed where they wired me to an ECG, took blood and then abandoned me to crisp blue curtains and the metronomic beep of an ignored monitor. Continue reading “Jack by Gene Farmer”

7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle

this splintered

self, always

 

there and not

there—all ways

fragments

 

too close

to truth

 

his

portrait

 

ear-splitting

hairline cracks

 

eyes—iced-over

puddles

stepped

into, smashed

 

nose, broken

punched in

like a code

 

pupils;

dead flies

captured by

misshapen webs

 

frown thrown

off guard

 

skull-shatter

piece by piece

 

within his

lashes

 

a universe

on the blink
Continue reading “7yrs bad luck by Richard Biddle”

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”

When Food Goes Bad by Kelly Froh

My younger brother just scheduled bariatric surgery.

They will reduce his stomach to the size of a banana.

He said he can’t go another decade being heavy.

He asked me to remember when our parents got divorced, when he was 10 and I was 15 and I said, “See ya later!” as he filled time and loneliness with dry cereal and Swiss cake rolls.

I tried to commiserate, even though I knew I risked insulting him, since his weight issues have always been much greater than mine — said we both snacked way too much, and paired it with convenience eating:

Hamburger Helper on the countertop was mom telling us what’s for dinner

And award systems:

1 visit to church on Sunday = 1 sausage biscuit with egg at the drive-thru

We fell into negative routines: Dad yelled at me, I yelled at my brother, and then we nursed our wounds together with salt, sweet, repeat. Continue reading “When Food Goes Bad by Kelly Froh”

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