One Poem by Andy Conner

Exclusive

What’s my least favourite word?

The word I’d most like 

To expunge from English?

Exclusive

Exclusive

Isn’t exclusively a word

It’s an exercise in ideas

To which I take

Exception

I’ll explain

Exclusive expresses

The ‘right’ look 

The ‘right’ age

The ‘right’ values

The ‘right’ colour

And, exceeding all,

The ‘right’ bank balance

And those 

Who aren’t right

Are left

Extraneous

Or, if you prefer,

Excess baggage

Explain, if you can,

Exactly what you mean

Exactly where you stand

If your expressions of cool

Extravagance

Extinguish

The warming glow

Of extended exiled hands

This exasperated man 

Fails to understand

Please inspect 

The expectations

You exhibit

Please delete

The exclusive expletive

From the world

You inhabit

And if I’m

Expecting

Too much

Please exclude yourself

From my sight

© Andy Conner

Three Poems by Allison Grayhurst

Mid-air

 

I reached across the riddle-barrier,

shaved my head and walked through the door.

I took my clothes out of the closet

and burned them,

I watched the light dim all around

and walked over a cliff.

I did this without a choice, only a decision

to embrace a movement forward.

I was commanded to do this, and I consented,

not without struggle and self-loathing,

not without fear and a sense of deep failure.

Now I am falling, I am in the air, eagle-spread,

a sharp pain in my side and the wind whistling

its rapture.

Everything people do

is bound to kill them eventually.

Take dancing or bricklaying or being a mother.

I am still falling, I have not landed

in someone’s arms nor on the sharp rocky bottom.

The pain remains, so does the wonder,

as I fall, falling,

© Allison Grayhurst

Advance

Leave this place,

it is for beginners

and the ground is an overgrown

outside used-to-be sanctuary, trapping

you in its weeds.

Be steadfast as a revelation

years after being revealed, infused

to your intelligence, supplying water

and detachment when necessary.

Walk through the ruins then jump the fence

and do not relapse into nostalgia or a thousand

what-ifs that have no viable conclusion.

Pull the plug, cast away what was once

a masterpiece but has since degraded,

orbiting a dead star.

It is easy as taking off a coat on a warm day.

It is dialectics and you are at the nadir,

traveling the circle around, soon to rise.

Leave what you cannot afford to keep

as it is too invasive a burden

and you are ready to expand, stretch out,

canopy a richer domain, permitted

to be fully nourished and explore.

© Allison Grayhurst

White Butterflies and a Red Squirrel

Influences deserved

never arrive, and

the gift remains in the pocket

like chapstick on a cold day,

or as bits of sharpness to remind you

not to get too comfortable, complacent

or convinced of your rigorous calculations

when you calculate the sides of a square,

a triangle, an oracle reading.

People you thought would never go,

have gone, walked away

from sanity’s reach, most likely never to return.

Things you wish would have left years go, remain,

your days outstanding, tied to the

root-whip survival, lashing.

And there is more never expected –

a banquet of nourishing literature,

a husband still coalescing with brilliant light,

two children grown, kind and weaving,

and the animals, older, happy

watching the birdbath in the flush garden,

in a backyard that in the early morning

as you scan the interior and the perimeter,

you are sure that nothing could be more glorious,

pleasing, leaves you praising

for being allowed to witness such royalty.

God’s love heats up your pores,

fills your nostrils with green scents,

fills your ears with the chatter of communities –

sparrows, starlings, bumblebees, white butterflies

and the red squirrel. You are sure

such kneading, thinning-thickening harmony

is the natural state of being,

propelled to experience this nirvana, (spinning, spherical)

knowing tomorrow it won’t last, but also knowing

it will always last, existing, uncorrupted,

sealed, continuing in this moment, this morning,

this day, in this exact summer.

© Allison Grayhurst

Two poems by Diana Raab

Jet Blue Flight#1 to LAX

 

I sit in the second row 

beside some army guy—

probably my nephew’s age 

and all I think about of is how I abhor war.

 

I imagine him hunkered down

on some foreign battlefield, frozen,

rifle in hand. Waiting.

 

How I miss him—

remembering his childhood 

 

when we drove to the zoo

ate cotton candy, watched snakes

and how mesmerized he was  

by the slow moving sloths.

 

His awe, honest smile and blue eyes,

wisps of blond hair framing his innocent face.

I miss all that. I hate war.

 

What awe does he know these days

as he defends our country

and trains others to do the same.

 

No news from him in years—

akin to a long forgotten love, disappeared

as he succumbs to larger life issues

 

of combat. Today, early evening, 

I rock in the same chair 

I rocked him as a baby: 

salty tears on my face,

 

waiting for the plane 

that will bring him to me —

to see those eyes again, vibrant,

blue. And those dimples. 

 

© Diana Raab

 

 

The Trigger

 

Who will pull it

when it needs to be?

 

Who will offer you a bullet? 

Give you permission?

Or tell you to stop?

 

Who will kneel over you

— your childhood trauma,

your mother’s detached indifference,

the grandmother who committed suicide in the next room? 

 

Who will stop you?

Who will tell you 

it is not yet time?

 

When you look into 

the mirror and confess—

enough is enough!

 

Who will save you?
© Diana Raab

Two Poems by Daniel Goss

When they lay me down into the earth

will you say a prayer for me?

O’holy father of my flesh, of my blood,

will you break bread over my name?

When my beloved comes knocking at your door

will you grant them asylum?

 

When the tides of blood formed by clay vessels rise around your castle,

O’holy father of my flesh, of my blood,

Will you be swept by the tide to join me in the earth

or will you rise to meet my hands in the air?

 

As you hesitate in cowardice,

children are growing inside cages 

& lovers are beaten in the streets until 

they cannot breathe.

O’holy father of my flesh, of my blood,

can you stomach the carnage

with your hands stained?

 

©Daniel Goss

 

 

Immemorial 

Who’s gonna love a ghost like you?

Veiled in bed sheets;

speaking in tongues;

floating through walls.

 

A poltergeist throwing tantrums

smashing lamps against walls

wailing like a child until the paint beings to peel.

 

Lost and confused, you slip into my bedroom 

Leaving strawberries corpses

To rot under the sheets. 

 

Watch me toss and turn as you float above my bed

Say you’ll leave, 

Say you’ll disappear

 

I’ve tried to kill the spider lilies

Outside my frosted window

But just like you

They always come back 

in spring.

 

©Daniel Goss

Another Poem by Margery Parsons

How Do You Sing?

How do you sing
intolerable injustice?
Do you hold a note as long
as a young tree cut down?

Do you summon a cry
as guttural
as a hole in the earth
refusing burials?

Do you let your voice quiver
like leaves
heaving their burden
of blood?

Do you wail in descending chords
like a woman
on a road
behind a coffin?

Do you open your throat wide enough
to express
all unnecessary
suffering?

Do you let the last line
trail off
because the end of the song
is unwritten?

Do you laugh, as you imagine
crescendos of beautiful children
rising wave upon wave upon wave
to emancipation?

©Margery Parsons

Three Poems by Rob Plath

the ogre’s feast 

my father 
often spent 
entire mornings 
preparing tripe 
soaking it 
boiling it 
trimming it 
then placing 
the strips of 
cow stomach 
in dark red gravy
& i feel like parts 
of my guts 
were cooked 
in that steel pot too 
strips of my insides 
ripped out 
w/ every curse 
w/ every swing 
w/ every fist
thru the wall 
w/ every door 
knocked off 
its hinges,
etc…
& drowned in 
a bloody sauce 
& if that wasn’t 
satisfying enough 
then that pair 
of terrible jaws 
tore them apart 
& washed them down 
w/ a jug of wine 
declaring life good

© Rob Plath

 
social studies & almost everything else  

in school 
i’d fill in 
scantron exam 
bubbles 
in the shape 
of a rollercoaster 
never even 
attempting 
to answer 
the questions 
that were 
based on 
those terribly 
inane days 
of 
bullshit 
divided 
by 
bells

© Rob Plath

 

precisely

the
old 

hobo
grins

because
he
has
no

teeth


© Rob Plath

A Prose Poem by Zach Keali’i Murphy

Before My Very Brown Eyes

 

When I was a teenager, I got jade-colored contact lenses in an attempt to look more beautiful.

 

I always despised my brown eyes. I thought they were deeply unspectacular. Dull. Dark. Boring. Growing up, I never heard anyone say “Wow, look at those pretty brown eyes.” They aren’t the color of a vibrant sky or a vivid field of grass. They aren’t one of the colors that show up in a bright rainbow. They aren’t the color of the eyes of Hollywood stars that are usually on the front cover of magazines. 

 

But the jade-colored contact lenses never felt right with my soul. The brown shone through the umbrella of haze. I wore the jade-colored contact lenses for exactly three days, and then decided to trade them in for the clear contact lenses. As I placed the clear ones on, I stared into the mirror at my eyes and saw them in a new, spectacular light.

 

My brown eyes are the color of the earthy, Hawaiian soil of my birth land. The soil that yields vegetation and nourishment and life and wonder. My brown eyes are the colors of the tropical tree roots and the tropical tree branches that provide shelter and habitats to many magnificent creatures. My brown eyes are the color of the delicious chocolate that makes your taste buds smile. My brown eyes are the color of the highly-coveted coffee beans that make the world go ‘round.

 

Now, I see more clearer. Now, I am more beautiful. Now, I love my very brown eyes.

© Zach Keali’i Murphy

One Poem by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

Dear Citizen

Dear citizen,

you drank white wine for lunch,

while sneezing. Congratulations

on superfluous snot sentences, while

Cheetos make America hate again,

 

you took a monster sized dump, too,

congratulations, such significance

to souls separated at the borders,

children of abuse. light slams

against walls Mexico won’t pay for.

 

Dear citizen,

you liked a post from Congressman X or Y,

 inequality while you drove your BMW,

 sneered at sobbing mamas in Dodge Stratuses.

 so much effort to like, but to get out 

to feel, to fight,

 save that for tomorrows perpetually procrastinated.

 

and you posted about the sandwiches,

 underwear you wore,

lace lavender, nonetheless

how you smelled of sweat,

while blood-red MAGA caps rose into the sky,

 

dear citizen,

take off the underwear,

stop drinking the wine,

write about the bitterness, the calluses,

souls waiting for scapegoat time,

but you drank white wine,

congratulations

©Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

3 Poems by Tina Carey

A day in the life of

It bites me like a hungry snake

Asking,” what can I take from you today?”

Your sanity?

Your drive?

Your will to survive?

 

As soon as my feet hit the floor

I’m begging my demon for no

more.

 

“I can’t handle it,” I say

It’s okay; you’re going to take it

anyway.

 

Today I do not fight, so I go

back to bed, I’d rather lie dead

instead.

 

I cover my face, so you can’t see

it doesn’t matter because you’re within

me.

 

“One day I will get rid of you, I say

but not today.

 

© Tina Carey

 

 

Self-Love

            It’s a powerful feeling and indeed freeing reaching

a deep inside your soul to find self-love.

 

You will leave many behind.

You will start to decline sharing your space with

people who don’t share the same state of mind.

 

Reaching for a higher love is never worthless

in fact;

It should be your purpose.

even if you’re the only one that takes notice.

 

The moment your realize you’re enough nothing

else matters.

You will be ready for new chapters and even new

disasters.

 

© Tina Carey

 

Home

Take me to this place you say is breezeless,

Where the shadows stand still

and the brightness is only at the tips of our

toes, and the darkness smells like rainbows.

 

Take me to this place you say the waves crinkle

and never splash

where you become ageless

never knowing how much time has passed.

 

Take me to this place you say people fall in love

without saying a word.

where the sunshine is vibrantly heard.

 

Take me tho this place you and I will only know

where mindfulness has no plateau.

 

Take me

Take me

Forever there

 

© Tina Carey