Brenna Courtney, “Neighborhood Walkers”

Brenna Courtney studies at the University of Virginia.

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Neighborhood Walkers

There is some sweet scent, earthy
and dizzying, and the dark birds perform
pretty dives in the lowering light. It is too late
to take the path shrouded by rough bush
and honeysuckle, with its playground, and the fence
for the playground (the latter, dismantled,
stakes propped up into a sort of stout, pointed

fortress). One by one, the wide porches
unfold their legs, and pairs of rocking chairs
coax their owners to rest. The beckoned amble home
with their hands behind their backs, their postures
blanketed by silence. I take good care to
avoid them, though there is nothing
hostile in their eyes.

 


 

 

 

William Miller, “Guilt”

William Miller’s eighth collection of poetry, Lee Circle, was published by Shanti Arts Press in Maine in 2019. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Penn Review, the Southern Review, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

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Guilt

It was him, the neighbor kid—
he picked up the wounded bird,
threw it into the sky.

The bird fell down harder
the second time, thrown from
my hands, a blackbird

with wet feathers, a frightened
black eye. He fell to the sidewalk
and flapped for two boys’

sick pleasure. That was nature
in our cold suburb, our parents
cruel to us, each other.

His house was noisy, mine filled
with quiet hate like poison
from a gas stove.

It felt good to be cruel,
mock and maim something
weaker than myself…

but only for a few seconds,
frozen in that bird’s black eye.
The sky was indifferent,

flat, gray, like the floor
of a house where nothing
really lived, laughed or loved.


Emily Kingery, “Habitation”

Emily Kingery teaches courses in literature, writing, and linguistics at a small university in Iowa. Her work appears or is forthcoming in multiple journals, most recently Birdcoat Quarterly, CutBank, Quarter After Eight, and Trampoline, and she has been both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She serves on the Board of Directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a nonprofit organization that supports writers in the Quad Cities community.

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Habitation

The more you think about it,
there’s nothing to think about. You know
you can live without it.

Order water, lemon wedge. Sit
curled, disguised; the curve will show
the more you think about it.

Starve generously. Quit
coveting. If your limbs bow,
you can live. Without it,

you are less the fetus-pit.
The more you lose, you grow
the more you. Think about it:

you, hollowed comfit,
mother minus mother-glow.
You can. Live without it.

Bite the peel and suck. Spit.
Deny it and you know
you can live without it all
the more. You think about it.

 


 

 

 

Bethany Reid, “Irish Cows”

Bethany Reid’s Sparrow won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize. Her recent poetry books are Body My House (Goldfish Press, 2018), and The Thing with Feathers, which was published as part of Triple No. 10 by Ravenna Press (2020). She lives in Edmonds, Washington, and blogs at http://www.bethanyareid.com.

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Irish Cows

On the winding road up the coast to Dingle
cows stop traffic, their black and white flanks,
their billowing udders, pink muzzles,
sturdy jaws chomping as they walk,
ponderous unwieldy boats jostling

one another in a narrow passage.
Our rental car is small and white,
splashed with mud. It might be one
of their kind. The cowman raises his stick
in greeting, gives us a wink.

We are one car in a long row of cars.
Far back a car horn honks. Always, this discontent
with being human. One cow flicks her tail
and trots a few bold steps, then settles back
among her kin and trudges on.

 


 

 

 

Cheryl Snell, “Wrong Word”

Cheryl Snell’s poetry collections include chapbooks from Finishing Line Press, Pudding House, and Moira Books. A full length volume, Prisoner’s Dilemma, in collaboration with the late expressionist artist Janet Snell, won the Lopside Press Chapbook Competition. Cheryl’s work has appeared often, online and in print, and has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart and Best of the Net anthologies. Her most recent work is the novel Kalpavriksha, the final part of a series about the India diaspora. She lives with her husband in Maryland, twelve miles from the Capitol.

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Wrong Word

Pink muscle
dangling syllable.
pinch it; damp sandpaper.
What to listen for—
sounds rolling off
dropping behind the teeth.
a hard swallow—
the garbled noise
of a liar caught in a lie.
One word, both
noun and verb: stroke, battle.
Alphabets elude,
substitutes make mockery—
a red bicycle turning down
a bombed-out alley.
Run toward it—
past ripped lettering
stripped from a sign
that shows one owl
pinching the inexplicable
in its beak.

 


 

 

 

Remi Seamon, “Study of the Wounded Achilles, Mixed Media”

Remi Seamon is a student who spends her time split between Cambridge, England, and Seattle, Washington. She was commended in the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award and has been published in a scattering of small publications, most recently the Dillydoun Review and Unlost. She considers her primary inspiration to be her dog.

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Study of the Wounded Achilles, Mixed Media

We all have toes, some kind
of a down-there. Are in possession of bowels

and all their choreography, we leak
sometimes, we fall down sometimes, stub

toes break collars set wrong
sit wrong, bad posture bad

backs, we carry our own weight
in various places. Say who

when we mean whom, mispronounce
omnipotent, and believe in escape goats

instead of scapegoats. Have been loved
at some point in time, in one way or another

by the womb, room, river, by our own
gut bacteria, if nothing else, we all keep things

alive, my bad, mad, selfish
evolved shellfish, wanting things

that aren’t ours, susceptible to arrows
not limited to our heels.

 


 

 

 

John Muro, “Aubade”

A lifelong resident of Connecticut, John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Connecticut. His professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation, and he has held executive and volunteer positions in those fields. His first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, was published last fall by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. His works have appeared or will soon appear in Euphony, Freshwater, Amethyst Review, and elsewhere.

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Aubade

          “I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.” —T. Roethke

Early Sunday morning ambling in awe beneath
The dense canopies of trees, their scarlet
Satchels slung across the rounded shoulders
Of boughs and dangling like the languid arms
Of neighbors still loafing abed. Now a starless
Silence gives way to the hiss of sprinklers popping
Up their tiny, saw-toothed heads dispensing looping
Sprays of water like a benediction; the rhythmic
Repetition of plumes in precise industry splintering
Into prisms of light, a carousel of mists and arcing
Streams as the metallic rustle slows and abandons ear,
Giving way to the sweet happenstance of birdsong,
The brittle scuttling of fallen leaves and slack channels
Of blue unspooling among mottled river stones of cloud.

 


 

 

 

Nikita Bastin, “girl seeks space for reasons tbd”

Nikita Bastin is a poet based in Philadelphia, studying English and biology at the University of Pennsylvania. She began writing poetry her senior year of high school and has contributed poems to literary journals including Eunoia Review, Glass Kite Anthology, and the National Poetry Quarterly. She has also been a finalist for the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award and has studied at the Iowa Young Writers Studio and the Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship.

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girl seeks space for reasons tbd

I dragged my feet when I left. I was tired of you.
Your eyes tracking my every move, anticipating my every need.
I was frustrated at myself for being tired of you. Satisfaction
is what I am after. Contentedness, with the occasional joy
on those days most tinted with rose. Those days were all in London.
To sit. To look around. To think. To wonder. To hear Mina Loy
whisper, I had to be caught in the weak eddy of your drivelling humanity
To love you most, as the sunlight filters through the walnut trees,
and my skin shows with a golden lustre. I don’t hear anything these days.
My mind is frustrated at you. At me. At anyone she can sink her teeth into.
And my mind is lazy. She drags her feet, and does not move.
I would like to read something. And I would like to remember it.
Don’t get too close to me. You may puncture what I have built.
I am trying to find my values. So please. Keep your distance.

 


 

 

 

W. F. Lantry, “A Winter Sowing”

W. F. Lantry spent many years gardening in his native San Diego and in the South of France. Currently he lives in the frozen North of DC. He has two full-length collections: The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award, and The Terraced Mountain (Little Red Tree). Honors include: The National Hackney Literary Award, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors’ Prize, Old Red Kimono Paris Lake Poetry Prize and Potomac Review Prize. He is the editor of Peacock Journal.

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A Winter Sowing

Start counting backwards. Pick your average date
of last frost in the Spring. It’s April tenth
most years for us. Sometimes the early winds

may seem to warm us, but you cannot trust
even the farmer’s almanac these days.
It’s all a gamble: place your bets, begin.

We have a couple hundred solo cups.
A drill will make three holes in each one’s base.
Dampen the potting mix until it’s firm

within your hands. Remember, every seed
is passionate to grow, and you are here
to give it every chance. Dibble a space

just twice as deep as your new seed is wide.
and if your seeds seem smaller than the dust,
they may be sifted to the surface, held

only by surface tension till they break
with small white roots, breaking the fragile earth,
to swell and reinvent the universe.

 


 

 

 

Donald Zirilli, “My Mother Won’t Let Go”

Donald Zirilli was a finalist for the James Tate Prize and a nominee for the Forward Prize. He was editor of Now Culture and is a member of the Red Wheelbarrow Gang. His poetry was published in Anti- poetry magazine, ART TIMES, Nerve Lantern, River Styx, and other periodicals and anthologies. He and his wife live in an idyllic corner of New Jersey with two dogs and a cat. His chapbook, Heaven’s Not For You, was published in September 2018 by Kelsay Books.

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My Mother Won’t Let Go

My mother won’t let go, as if I were
a kite or fishing pole. The party’s not
for me. The celebrants all stare at her,
at us, at this unending clutch, this clot
of blood, of love. She won’t endure the loss,
won’t let me die or even be afraid
of dying, not while she’s alive, the cost
too high to borrow or collect. She’s paid
enough already, watched me grow apart
and blessed me on my way. She won’t condone
departure from this world. She holds on hard,
as if she were a cast on broken bones.
A love too great for me to comprehend,
the power that made me will not let me end.