Ted Jean, “untitled”

Ted Jean writes, paints, plays tennis with Amy Lee. Nominated twice for Best of the Net, and twice for the Pushcart Prize, his work appears in Beloit Poetry Journal, PANK, Spillway, DIAGRAM, and North American Review.

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untitled

the automatic door
of the emergency room
opened with a sweeping gesture
so he wobbled out
onto the dark street

he couldn’t think where to go
so he drove home

but he couldn’t sleep
so he went for a walk
down Stafford Road
in the steady rain
under her little teal umbrella

 


 

 

 

Robert Ford, “We bury our fathers”

Robert Ford’s poetry has appeared in print and online publications in the UK, US, and elsewhere, including The Interpreter’s House, Brittle Star, Butcher’s Dog, and San Pedro River Review. More of his work can be found at https://wezzlehead.wordpress.com/

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We bury our fathers

because someone must,
and if not us, the sky and its crows.
We find ourselves sown into the same soil.
We wear their inherited sternness,
their over-cleaned suits that
never fit us better than this.
Our naked heads cling to the family hair,
while their confident fingers insist on
still knotting our ties, wiping our noses.
At the entrance to the graveyard,
the old tree weeps without a sound.
A relentless wind chases through it.
We have learned to do silence like men,
to smile around the solemnity of its edges.
But the boys within are ghosting around,
lambs looking for a shepherd,
still needing to be told they’re doing this –
and everything else – well enough for now.

 


 

 

 

Robert Nisbet, “The Farmyard”

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet and sometime creative writing tutor at Trinity College, Carmarthen. He has published widely and in roughly equal measures in Britain and the USA. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee for 2020.

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The Farmyard

South Africa, where our Aunt Gwladys lived,
was one, for us, with film-flickering Texas
where the sheriffs and the cowboys lived,
picking off the rustlers and the men in black.

When our aunt came back to Pembrokeshire
in 1948, from this hazy far-world region,
she brought us, her three nephews and a niece,

a farmyard, large, painted in brilliant shades,
with fabulous green meadows, tractors,
barns and sheds, flotillas of ducks and hens
and the beasts of the dairy. A masterpiece.

In the land she’d left, the mood had soured.
The politics of the ugly and the separate
were starting to leave their stench,
and the nurse from Wales had loathed it.

So she’d left the angry Cape Town sun,
thought of childhood once again, come home,
bringing the gift of a children’s farmyard
to the land of farmyards and wet fields.

 


 

 

 

Michael R. Burch, “Caveat”

With over five thousand publications, including poems that have gone viral, Michael R. Burch claims to be one of the world’s most-published “complete unknowns.” His poems, translations, essays, articles, letters, epigrams, jokes, and puns have been published by hundreds of literary journals, magazines, and newspapers. His poetry has been translated into fourteen languages, taught in high schools and colleges, and set to music by seven composers. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com and has served as editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks.

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Caveat

If only we were not so eloquent,
we might sing, and only sing, not to impress,
but only to enjoy, to be enjoyed.

We might inundate the earth with thankfulness
for light, although it dies, and make a song
of night descending on the earth like bliss,

with other lights beyond—not to be known
but only to be welcomed and enjoyed,
before all worlds and stars are overthrown . . .

as a lover’s hands embrace a sleeping face
and find it beautiful for emptiness
of all but joy. There is no thought to love

but love itself. How senseless to redress,
in darkness, such becoming nakedness . . .

 


 

 

 

Michael R. Burch, “Mayflies”

With over five thousand publications, including poems that have gone viral, Michael R. Burch claims to be one of the world’s most-published “complete unknowns.” His poems, translations, essays, articles, letters, epigrams, jokes, and puns have been published by hundreds of literary journals, magazines, and newspapers. His poetry has been translated into fourteen languages, taught in high schools and colleges, and set to music by seven composers. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com and has served as editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks.

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Mayflies

These standing stones have stood the test of time
but who are you
              and what are you
                            and why?
As brief as mist, as transient, as pale …
Inconsequential mayfly!

Perhaps the thought of love inspired hope?
Do midges love? Do stars bend down to see?
Do gods commend the kindnesses of ants
to aphids? Does one eel impress the sea?

Are mayflies missed by mountains? Do the stars
regret the glowworm’s stellar mimicry
the day it dies? Does not the world go on
as if it’s no great matter, not to be?

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose.
And yet somehow you’re everything to me.

 


 

 

 

Jillian Smith, “Swimming before a Storm”

Jillian Smith lives in Atlanta, GA, and is currently pursuing her PhD in Poetry at Georgia State University. She has previously published poetry in SOFTBLOW Poetry Journal, Anderbo, Bluestem Magazine, and Barking Sycamores. Originally from outside Philadelphia, Jillian got her BA in English from Penn State University and her MFA in Fiction from Florida State University. She recently got married, welcomed two cats into her family, and moved into her first home.

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Swimming before a Storm

We squirm
like gelatin
splayed out
on pool furniture

fingering books’
limp pages.
Words drip
down my thigh

or rise, formless,
into clouds.
A breeze skulks
in corners.

Sky chafes
its gray shelf.
In the water,
my shadow

sinks and floats,
twin versions
of myself.

 


 

 

 

Ann Weil, “Lucky Man”

Ann Weil is a former teacher and professor of special education from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She wonders if she is doing the “aging gracefully” thing correctly. When not writing poetry, she can be found in the lotus position pretending to meditate. Ann’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Nine Muses Poetry, Lucky Jefferson, Amethyst Review, and Young Ravens Literary Review.

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Lucky Man

Summer of ’76
My first gift from a boy.
An Emerson, Lake & Palmer album.
He—you—told me to listen to Lucky Man.

I was yours from that moment.
What I could never get from my father,
You gave me.