Lynne Handy, “Red Lilies”

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Red Lilies

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Lynne Handy, a retired library director, lives near the Fox River in northern Illinois. Her first book of poems, Spy Car, was published in 2016. Her work has also appeared in several journals and anthologies, and she has authored two novels: In the Time of Peacocks and The Untold Story of Edwina.


 

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Jill L. Cooper, “Your Extra Time”

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Your Extra Time

My stack of pillows on this wooden floor feels like the cool bottom of a hypnotist’s cave. Elbows on knees, my feet still pulse with the bareness of petals and rabbit shit and the detritus of a catkin storm. My floor is smooth like sand after the ocean has gone out, and I wonder

what I did right to deserve this Beloved squirreling me away like a treasure for later, for the sudden sprout of now. And then I know I did nothing for this but turn on some small bare bulb.

I am a tin recycled into a second use as a place to store cosmos seeds, and the gnostic rain of purple star garnets, free for any thirsty mystic who comes my way. I will. I do. I throw diamonds like confetti at the violinist who broke my heart, as she ran in all black, in night, late to her performance, her ears curled the color of walnuts and harmony, pitch perfect.

My heart shattered at least ten times yesterday. Everyone I met was a slam poet. Everyone I met was a genius ready to explode. Every one I met was a shy lover. Every ONE I met was the Beloved, like a fresh glass of water as clear as the moon, as blue as a ticket.

Everyone I met was my waking up in the middle of the hot and hungry promenade. It’s a purple night rain to begin anything, and everything I will do because I can.

Tag you are it! Oh, my Beloved runs so fast, her skirts flying like pages, her laugh ahead of both of us.

I awoke with the swept-out feeling that comes as stealth as a tooth fairy after weeping. And then I wept again when I awoke to the note in the beak of a dove that cried: Your supernova doesn’t need slow.

I almost started to say to the morning: No more! Enough, enough of this love! I entertained how close I was to wilting into death, or into the well of my hips under the radiance of no walls, of so much home, so, so much Home, and for how perfection has no right angles. Almost, it was a close one.

Like I had gone inside every wrinkled piece of love letter trash and found the map. Like I had spilled out onto the night brick pathway from the empty red plastic party cups drained of their leftover hollers, blisses, cradle cries, magic spells, and 2 a.m. kisses. The quail are yelling at the cats!

Then yes tapped the sweet spot and like the scent of viburnum after the sun has hung up her robes, my raving took me underneath my own soft arms, and lassoed my ribs, and turned me upside down like I was a bottle of molasses for the beloved’s tea.

She laughed, hard, too. This is what I’m for, I think.

There is this sweetness, and this song, and this mirror, and there is no end. There is no slowing down now. There is no such thing as waiting!

There is no more no. There is no death. There was never lack. It’s all now. It’s a backstage pass. It’s the violinist sliding into home base. It’s the mistake of thinking there was such a thing as mistake. It’s the fearlessness of going without bones. It’s a superhero’s cape.

There is only this extra time, and this blackness, and these tears, and this hot urgency strutting out into the world like a lightning bug wooing everything in its path.

Her kiss was as strict and playful as pollen and serious as a pink moon. There’s no going back, and I surrender to it (as if there is such a thing as surrender!) because we made this expanding stage without an exit plan.

We made dimensions out of the indignation of playing human, and the thrill of coming, forever, home, for this extra time, and this…

 


Jill L. Cooper’s poetry has appeared in various print literary journals, and has been anthologized or is forthcoming in Pontoon (Floating Bridge, 2015), Delirious (Night Ballet Press, 2016), I Only Wanted to See You Laughing (Yellow Chair Review, 2016), and others. She was also the managing editor of an anthology, The Yes Book (Exult Road, 2014).


 

Drew Pisarra, “Sonnet 12.11.15”

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Sonnet 12.11.15

The day we met, we talked of Fassbinder,
The Story of O, the dying of bees…
That very night you showed me your Tinder
profile as if it would somehow please
me to see you seducing the city
at large. And it did. It still does. I like
your broad appeal, your versatility,
your hourly refusal to be typed,
and I’m aware I too often limit
myself. That winter, polyamorous
dalliances were beyond my scope. Shit,
sleeping around didn’t feel glamorous
that unseasonably warm December.
Am I someone you even remember?

 


Drew Pisarra was a magician’s assistant for a weekend, a restaurant critic for a few years, and a digital VP for two cable networks over the span of eight years. But none of that’s true now. You can check out his reviews on Korean movies at koreangrindhouse.blogspot.com or his photos of public art at mistermysterio on Instagram.


 

Denise Segal Umans, “Learning isiZulu”

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Learning isiZulu

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Denise Segal Umans grew up in South Africa and now lives in the Boston area. As a speech-language therapist and linguist, she has worked for over thirty years in language and literacy development and as a teacher of English as a second language. Her poems have been published in Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Poetry Quarterly, The Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poetry, and Indiana Voice Journal.


 

David P. Miller, “Helpless Ghazal”

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Helpless Ghazal

I can’t believe a little snow has fried your shovels. You guys are helpless.
I can’t believe the ziggurat of drumsticks. The pumpkin pies are helpless.

I can’t believe it’s Hotel California. Check the hell out and leave!
Ponytailing party-downers stoked on cheesy fries are helpless.

I can’t believe he can’t believe the parking has evaporated.
Disgruntled dudes with axles for ankles, this implies, are helpless.

I can’t believe this no-neck beef middle fingered that smoothie sucker.
Incise this tribute on his stone: “He was much nicer helpless.”

I can’t believe a wall and yet a wall and yet another miserable wall.
Toss your flaccid lasso, buddy. You’ll ride a geyser, helpless.

I can’t believe that salvaged souls are propped by public toilets.
Are you snug for certainty of what’s between their thighs? Or helpless?

I can’t believe these pinpricks sprinkled left to right across the gut.
The gall bladder went necrotic, David. Now are you wiser? Helpless?

 


David P. Miller’s chapbook, The Afterimages, was published in 2014 by Cervená Barva Press. His poems have appeared in Meat for Tea, Painters and Poets, Fox Chase Review, and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, among other publications. His poem “Kneeling Woman and Dog” was selected for the 2015 edition of Best Indie Lit New England. He is a librarian at Curry College in Milton, MA, and was a member of the interdisciplinary Mobius Artists Group for twenty-five years.


 

Cinthia Ritchie, “Paperdolls”

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Paperdolls

I.

Pretend you’re living with me. We are both girls. Your penis is gone. I don’t know where you’ve put it—maybe it’s in your back pocket. We’re painting our toenails Cherry Slurpee Red and eating cheese crackers. Orange flecks our fingers. Your toes are small and dainty. I lean down, cover them with my breath. Are they dry yet? I curl beside you like a cat, the salt from your knees tasting of burnt sugar. You reach for your back pocket. Please, stay like this. A girl.

II.

Imagine your sister comes back from the dead. She hasn’t aged a day. She’s five, eleven, seventeen. Her skin is beautiful—you can’t stop touching. Is she a ghost? She gets out the Monopoly game. You buy all the red and green properties. Just like Christmas, but she’s too busy trying to land on the last railroad. You cheat, maybe she does too. No one buys Boardwalk, the chances of landing on it are slight, and besides, it’s so expensive. You roll, move, it’s so soothing, so familiar. When you look up, your sister is picking her nose.

III.

Pretend we’re in bed. Can you remember? It wasn’t that long ago, or maybe it never happened, maybe we never met. White sheets, sun across the ceiling. You are wet, I am hard. I wait for the end, pillows propped, skin damp. Our stories will outlast us, but so what. Your cock tastes of almonds. The hangnail by your thumb bleeds and heals, bleeds and heals. Heel, I say to my dog, and she shuffles down close to my ankle—demure, suffering. I no longer believe in afternoons.

IV.

Imagine your sister moves in with you. She’s dead, but she was always stubborn. She cleans up your messes, cooks dinner, remembers to feed the fish. Maybe you just lost your job or man or best friend. She wipes your face with a lavender-soaked towel, hides your credit card bills, telephone, car keys. You lie naked on the floor while she reads a Nancy Drew mystery. Her voice is young and high. Her vowels warm you. Imagine swallowing a paperclip, that cool metal lodged in your throat. Maybe you’ll die this way, yes, but not today.

V.

Pretend we’ve been married for years. Our kids are away at school, our bodies bent and ruined. Our sad knees, our yellowing teeth. For years we struggle to understand language, decipher pauses and shoulders. It does us no good. Knowledge isn’t love—we learn that too late. Curled in bed with our pajamas off. We are no longer beautiful but still our hands clutch, our legs tense. Oh fucking Jesus. Stray passion crushes our chests, gasps our breaths. How many years do we have left? Pretend it doesn’t matter. Just try.

VI.

Imagine your dead sister is nursing you through a long illness. She feeds you chicken soup, tells you stories, changes the TV channels. You are afraid to sleep, so she sits with you as you struggle against the softness, the temptation of dreams. What if you don’t wake up? Hush, it’s okay. Close your eyes. What is the last thing you wish to see: Your children’s faces? The mountains in the morning? Tell me. Tell me now.

 


Cinthia Ritchie writes and runs mountain trails in Anchorage, AK, with her dog, Seriously. She’s a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and recipient of a Best American Essay 2013 Notable Mention. Find her work at Evening Street Review, Under the Sun, Water-Stone Review, Damfino Press, The Boiler Journal, and Panoplyzine. She also has upcoming work in Barking Sycamores, Postcard Poems and Prose, and Poetic Medicine. Her first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, released from Hachette Book Group. She blogs about writing and Alaska life at www.cinthiaritchie.com.