Simon Perchik, “*”

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*

What’s left are its pilings
pinned down the way the pier
once smelled from marble

though the sails could tell
one wave from another
were content as fingertips

and shoreline, here, here, stretched
without holding your hand in water
–what juts from this hillside

has outlasted its ships, ropes, tears
stacked in crates for a better night
and you are now the horizon

slowly dragging the sea back
for more darkness, its mouth open
hoarse from lips singled out

covered with mud, with a moonlight
filled with wood close by
kept wet for you and leaving.

 


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Osiris Poems, published by box of chalk, 2017. For more information, including free e-books, and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion, and Other Realities,” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.


 

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Michael Brockley, “Aftermath”

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Aftermath

You ride a red horse through the American apocalypse, remembering days of purple rain and Chinese oranges. Along your trek, paintings of la Santa Muerte deface the billboard ads for roadkill toupees. The wall always rises in the south—rage evolving on its pocked surface. Your saddlebags are packed with relics from a saint’s bier. The DNA of bees. Books with red, white or blue in their titles. Without recourse to your obsolete maps, the horse discovers the ghost towns where you camp overnight. Around a creosote fire, you reread Blue Highways and wrestle against sleep by playing mumblety-peg with river rats. Their teeth against your knife. It’s been months since you’ve seen color, years since you’ve gathered a bouquet. In the morning you shoot at the Wanted posters shellacked on the wall. You’ve been riding the roan along this trail like a prison sentence. Drinking gray water and eating crickets. Bone grates on bone in your hips and knees. You mark a page in the book of roads with a hair plucked from the roan’s mane. You’ve quit counting the years since women last appeared in your dreams.

 


Michael Brockley has had poems appear in Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Third Wednesday, and Flying Island.


 

Jennifer Poteet, “Shell”

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Shell

I had prepared for this to happen,
but not tonight. Not like this.
Two men came to the apartment
in dark suits.
One pushed the gurney, the other, gloved,
unzipped a black shroud.
We didn’t speak. I left them alone to work.

My mother had climbed over
the raised rails of her hospice bed,
and fell to the floor.
Her aide heard the thud, dialed 911, called me.
I was blocked from the bedroom
as EMTs compressed my mother’s chest,
but she was already gone.

There was a bump as the men hoisted their cargo
past the room divider, out the front door.
The lower plate of my mother’s dentures
was left behind on the carpet, a half-smile.
I reached down.
Still warm. I raised the pink horseshoe
and cupped it, as I would a seashell, to my ear.

 


Jennifer Poteet lives in Montclair, NJ, and works in Manhattan as a fundraiser for public television. Work has been published recently in Whale Road Review and The Cortland Review. Jennifer’s first chapbook, Sleepwalking Home, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2017.


 

Christopher T. Keaveney, “Thoughts and Prayers”

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Thoughts and Prayers

The Hello Kitty piñata
was doomed from the get-go,
ditto the sheet cake
we left at the door of US GUNS
the store that anchors the local strip mall.
We decided too late that bleeding hearts
scrawled inside our bodies
outlined in chalk on the sidewalk
might be overkill.
Five more shootings this week,
one mass and four regulars,
staccato to parse
the familiar rhythms of summer:
beach balls and barbecues,
Thai takeout
and tired TV jingles as therapy.
Special orders don’t upset us.

I love you this much,
the child’s arms spread wide enough
to accommodate the bouquet of lilies
and forget-me-nots
for the brother
who caught a stray bullet
while playing in the local park
toward dusk–
drug deal gone bad in a nearby parking lot,
playing zombie apocalypse star wars
with classmates.
found wedged in the highest point
on the monkey bars
sporting the Darth Vader mask,
not a whimper.
Like a good neighbor.

What if “IMAGINE” spelled
out in Ferrari red
in the frosting
misses the mark?
Maybe a poster with photos
and names of each
of this week’s casualties?
Perhaps a bottle of whiskey
and enough shot glasses
to toast individually each of the lives lost,
the 1970s sitcom
theme songs looped
throughout the day from speakers
in front of the store as BGM?
You deserve a break today.

The brick and mortar of Ecclesiastes,
a dereliction of duties
and a the silent linking of arms
on a warm Sunday afternoon
on the steps of the Capital
waiting on a sweeter chariot.
Surely the familiarity of rituals
applies even here,
reading names
beneath the Schopenhauer flex
of stained glass,
our involuntary flinch
at the pop pop pop of fireworks that marks
another quinceañera celebration in the park.
Have it your way.

As soon as he opens the door we notice
right away his arm in a sling,
the cast all the way up
to the elbow,
the constitution wedged
into the holster above the Glock.
He laughs about the
challenges of cutting the cake
with his cold, dead hands
and gives us a thumbs up
and a wink
before propping Hello Kitty
in the window
as the shop’s maneki-neko
beneath the Group Therapy bull’s eye poster,
a familiar face
to welcome the elect.
I’d like to teach the world to sing.

 


Christopher T. Keaveney teaches Japanese language and East Asian culture at Linfield College in Oregon and is the author of three books about Sino-Japanese cultural relations. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Columbia Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Minetta Review, and elsewhere, and he is the author of the collection Your Eureka Not Mined (Broadstone Books, 2017).