B. S. Dixon is putting together his first chapbook inspired by his work with those dealing with homelessness in Boston, MA. His newest work will be printed in upcoming issues of the Front Porch Review, Unbroken Journal, and Nine Muses Poetry.
You’re fifteen, you’re trembling. The only working street light flickers and omits an ominous orange glow. Everything else is dark–the night, the thoughts in your head, the gun in your hand. The car slows as you approach the corner. There they are, Uncle Joe whispers. Tonight you become a man. Sweat oozes from your pores and clots in the newly sprouted patches of peach fuzz on your chin, chest, pits and balls. You remember everything Uncle Joe taught you. You remember how he took you in when no one wanted you. You remember how he cared for you even though Vietnam left him “scrambled.” You’re thankful for Uncle Joe–and he scares the hell out of you. You put your finger on the trigger and raise the gun to the open window. This is it boy, he whispers. Just like I showed you. You notice how heavy the gun feels. NOW, he says, NOW. You’re frozen. You can’t move, but you feel everything. You feel your heart trying to leap from your sunken chest. You feel the cold barrel of a gun press against the back of your head. You feel Uncle Joe’s warm, wet breath on your neck as he whispers, Do it now or I’ll do them and do you next. Your thoughts evaporate. There’s the pop of shots. There’s screaming. There’s screeching tires. You hear none of it–only ringing in your ears. Uncle Joe puts a blade under your nose with a clump of white powder on the tip. Here you go, he whispers. You snort. The powder burns your nostrils and throat. Get all of it now–remember this–when you catch feelings out here, you die. When you catch feelings, you get rid of them. You got that, man?
You realize he just called you a man.
Robert Okaji lives in Texas, where he occasionally works on a ranch. He holds a BA in history, no longer owns a bookstore, but still finds himself surrounded by books. The author of five chapbooks, most recently I Have a Bird to Whistle: 7 Palinodes (Luminous Press, 2019), his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Panoply, North Dakota Quarterly, Kissing Dynamite, and elsewhere.
Love in the Time of Untruth
They look through us,
through the soil
of a neighbor’s lush garden,
saying “we do this for you.”
Uprooting plants, desecrating
history, palms out, demanding more
they exchange trowel
hoe for explosives,
concentrating on their return
Bewildered, we hold hands and watch.
Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published nine novels, four short story collections, six full-length poetry collections, and a dozen chapbooks. His novel, Memphis Movie, attracted kind words from Ann Beattie and Peter Coyote, among others. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and three of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He also wrote the screenplay for We Go On, which won The Memphis Film Prize in 2017. With his wife he runs a 144 year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at https://coreymesler.wordpress.com.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there in
your last weeks, your last days,
your last hours. You were
dying quickly. I was going slow.
The last time we spoke you
made a joke. I laughed in
astonishment. And right before
we hung up you said, as clear
as Christmas, I love you. Earlier
you told me we’d had a good
life. It makes me happy you
came to that because it took you
a fucking long time. At 94 you
found out something miraculous:
all the pain and despair were
worth it. Thank you for telling me
that, finally. And, finally, I love
you, too. I think you knew that
despite my absence, despite
that prickly angel above your bed,
transcribing the final final words,
again I love you, again I love you.
Kenneth Pobo has a new book out called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His work has appeared in: Mudfish, Nimrod, Amsterdam Review, and elsewhere. He and his husband enjoy gardening. And walking in the northern Wisconsin woods.
I flunk geometry,
trying to prove
a triangle really
is a triangle:
side side side,
side angle side.
My teacher feeds me
poisoned logic chunks.
A triangle and I
stare from opposing
to each other.
M. J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past twenty-nine years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.
cold morning, colder
than the first days
soft world of white
caught in wind’s
whispers of snow
slipping off high banks
like specters rising—
to the space of
Nancy Byrne Iannucci is a historian from Troy, NY. Her work is published in numerous publications including Riggwelter, The Mantle, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Gargoyle, and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Her first book of poetry, Temptation of Wood, was recently published by Nixes Mate Review.
If only we were butterflies
For John Keats
We could ride with the macrolepidoptera clade /
wear kaleidoscopic jackets / be wild, wild! / live
like we had less than a month to leave / crash all
the colorful parties / we could drink fast / sip
through straws / float drunk / in the rain / like
reckless rock stars / then sit & shake in the sun /
we could cross over / from chrysalis to this / we
could speak in vibrations / hover / between realms/
half in & half out / never revealing what we know.
Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan lives in Vancouver, where he edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.
I would paint my skin
Into a colorless color, & I would dye my hair
Wear two blue contacts, & I would even
Go for plastic surgery, but if I really do
I assure you, I will not remove my native village
Accent while speaking this foreign tongue (I began
To imitate like a frog at age nineteen); nor will I
Completely internalize the English syntax &
No, I assure you that I’ll not give up
Watching movies or TV series, reading books
Listening to songs, each in Chinese though I hate them
For being too low & vulgar. I was born to eat dumplings
Doufu, & thus fated to always prefer to speak Mandarin
Though I write in English. I assure you that even if I am
Newly baptized in the currents of science, democracy &
Human rights, I will keep in line with my father’s
Haplogroup just as my sons do. No matter how
We identify ourselves or are identified by others, this is
What I assure you: I will never convert my proto selfhood
Into white Dataism, no, not
In the yellowish muscle of my heart