Aden Thomas, “The Slow Dance of Scarecrows”

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The Slow Dance of Scarecrows

The empty trees were warm with night.
And the mice sleeping in their beds
warm, warm in their quilts of snow.

I knew it without opening my eyes,
two lovers below the branches
warm in each other’s embrace.

When the wind moved the branches
scarecrows danced inside my chest,
worn and warm from years of waiting.

They cast their long shadows
across the cornfield of my body
and danced until the morning.

 


Aden Thomas grew up on the high plains of central Wyoming. His work has appeared in The Inflectionist Review, Turtle Island, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. His first collection of poems, What Those Light Years Carry, was published in 2017. Read more at www.adenthomas.com.


 

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Eilise Norris, “Thin”

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Thin

After Christmas, you are thin as the wind.
The trees have more colour.
My mother warns me you are birdlike today;
I take back my wish to fly. My car drifts right like a shopping cart.
Your chair rolls, empty,
a few inches down the corridor.
I didn’t know until the third time here
that they move you from room to room
to clean: rolled out of bed as if you have overslept.
Loss is eerily tired, white-walled.
Your voice husky at midday,
gone by 3 p.m. I see you slipping,
folding small. Round
cheeks concave,
the hollow between waves.
Words and water
tussle in your throat.
Slow, slow, says the straw
at your lips,
you can have one
but not
both.

 


Eilise Norris works on academic journals and writes in a room above a pub in a small village. Her first published poem was recently included in The Cabinet of Heed.


 

Aden Thomas, “My Missing Life”

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My Missing Life

During the day, I faced the winds
and told everyone twenty years
had not mattered, my marriage had not
mattered, it was a chapter in a book
I was writing in the third person.
The plot would follow the life I chose
as long as I left the words in light.

All night, unable to sleep
I feared for my missing life.
I imagined it lost among the stars
and stolen by another universe
where I could never travel
to see how the story unfolded,

that I had loved my wife for more…
that I had been the father
my sons would want to be.

The fear was like a herd of buffalo
spooked by a fire in the dark,
stampeding across the sagebrush,
a thousand terrible energies.
The cliff unseen,
always somewhere ahead,
eventually the empty skulls.

 


Aden Thomas grew up on the high plains of central Wyoming. His work has appeared in The Inflectionist Review, Turtle Island, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. His first collection of poems, What Those Light Years Carry, was published in 2017. Read more at www.adenthomas.com.


 

Meggie Royer, “The Bars in Heaven”

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The Bars in Heaven

My sister looks up family history and we find women
as maids, as pallbearers, as post office clerks
and ladies in waiting.
It grows difficult to distinguish between the past self
and the living.
The foxes turn red in the brush
while a goose moves down to the ravine.
When we find the body later, beak pulled to the side
like a fork through meat,
everything is salted—what women before us
dressed their own wounds, finished the killings,
put up with their own dead?
Beneath each lover
I feel my ancestors under their own,
wonder if they felt the same thrill
of men’s fingers against their mouths
before they drew the day to a close
with the light still trembling on.

 


Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently working as an educator on domestic violence in Minnesota. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.


 

Aden Thomas, “Swimming through a Heavy Light”

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Swimming through a Heavy Light

On those days when we cannot see
a form or even an outline of an answer,
we swim through a heavy light
like whales just below an ocean’s surface.

The echoes of that light,
the distance, the length
of sea, sometimes too far to travel,
sometimes too thick for knowing.

We look at ourselves in the mirror.
We dream of what is missing.
Doubt pulls us through that water
and we begin to drown.

Our future finds us there
near the bottom of the ocean,
heavy and frozen, arms limp,
sinking, sinking like a single coin of gold.

 


Aden Thomas grew up on the high plains of central Wyoming. His work has appeared in The Inflectionist Review, Turtle Island, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. His first collection of poems, What Those Light Years Carry, was published in 2017. Read more at www.adenthomas.com.


 

John Grey, “The Auction”

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The Auction

The last of the Ramsey family is dead.
Gripping a microphone.
the auctioneer stands firm atop the grave.
He speaks as rapid as an express train.
Stop listening for a moment
and a chair is a desk is a four-poster bed.
But all of us are too transfixed
to give up our ears to anyone but
this rampaging preacher of the household soul.
He wants us to know that on the fifth day
God created kitchens and bedrooms and bathrooms.
He holds up a crate of good china.
“What am I…what am I…what am I.”
What chance does a crack in a cup, a chip out of a plate,
have against his endless salesman’s sermon?

Someone buys a box of postcards.
A dealer stumbles to his car,
loaded up with books.
The snooty antique expert is apathetic
but thrusts a hand up for the pale blue sofa anyhow.
My mother snares herself a cheap green vase.
My father purchases a framed photograph of a ballpark.
I’m told to stand still, keep my hands in my pockets,
otherwise, who knows what I might commit to.
Bargain hunting satisfied, we leave.
“Going, going, gone!” shouts the auctioneer.
That’s true enough,
first the people, then their possessions,
then the ones who’ve made off with their lives.

 


John Grey is an Australian poet and a US resident. His work has been recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One, and Columbia Review, and new work is upcoming in Leading Edge and Midwest Quarterly.


 

Meggie Royer, “Animal Crossing”

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Animal Crossing

That month we burnt the almanac
and saved all the rain. When tuned,
an apple makes a sound like a violin.
The men in our town knew more than they
let on, how the beer grew dark along with the sky
and the moon fell through the night like a candle.
They let the one without a leg go first,
then the one without an arm.
After enough men, the body turns into a room.
They’d been to war, that was their spoil;
one had a grenade almost lit in his throat;
that was their spoil.
Not easy, to be the one to bear the news.
To say your daughter was found, here, not there,
not back in her bed, to say
there was no light in the building. Just each buckle
shining like an orange.
To say, they did it to get better,
they were months without it;
her hair looked too much like their wives.
To say, they did it to feed their family,
that’s all it was, that’s all it was.

 


Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently working as an educator on domestic violence in Minnesota. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.