Category Archives: Poetry

Self-Portrait with alcohol poisoning and holy water

After Kaveh Akbar

Sometimes I wonder if the room can smell

my thoughts, the stench of wine or whiskey

clings to me like wet clothes or a pet

that loves me, can’t stand not to

be in my presence. I am learning

to wobble again. How one foot

can be placed ever so slightly in front

of the other, halfway in the future

like go this way, don’t sway too far

from side to side, people are looking.

They can see the sin in my eyes. They feed

on my hurt the way clouds consume the sun.

Do you remember me sober? Do you remember

the way my laughter lingered in a room?

By ‘you’ I mean ‘I’.

Do I listen to the way my body settles at night?

Do I remember how it said no more?

How the last drink I took drowned me

like a child at birth, baptized, breathing in

too much water. How his cries fall mute in that ocean.


James O’Bannon was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently resides in Fresno, California. He is a graduate of the Northern Kentucky University creative writing program and a current MFA candidate at Fresno State University. His writing has appeared in Spry Literary Journal and Flies, Cockroaches, and Poets.

Independence Day

My Uncle Saul once gave me a book
          on the signers of the Declaration.
          Like Franklin he had a fatherly look
          though no children,
          a knack for silly jokes,
          and he fancied science,
          taking a whirl at my experiments
          with a junior chemistry set
          he bought to draw me out
          from my innate ambivalence.
My actual father thought
          him more turncoat, Loyalist
          to a 9 to 5 government post,
          ambitionless, wasting hours
          on walks or hunched over a history text
          sipping a Madeira—but a child
          could fly with him, above towers,
          schoolyards, battlefields, enthralled
          by his stories: one about a chase
          through the Vitebsk woods,
          a boy runs from soldiers, hides
          in a gully as boots stomp past…
My filial allegiance embraced him
          and though now (like my true dad)
          I salute flags of success,
          I sense within me his inclination
          to stroll through a park, its new-mown fields,
          to sit by a lamp with an old tome,
          contentments defying excess
          and honored without cannonades—
          military displays leave me cold
          recalling his relief in evading
          that Soviet patrol, his wariness
          of rank and standing—how it frees
          when someone out of step parades
          what we want to believe.

Michael Sandler’s poems have appeared in more than 30 journals, including California Quarterly, Crack the Spine, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Zone 3. For his day job, he works as an arbitrator.

Instructions for Dealing With a Loved One’s Anger

Treat it like a gift from some unique

and distant planet: Never question

how it works, was born or grows.

*

Admire all its strange, magnificent

quick turnings. Like a beast

in its own jungle, it must run.

/

Hail and lightning hurt

only when you fight against them.

Never try to thwart the force they hurl.

#

Say to yourself: I am

a house exposed to a wild fire;

What must I protect and what let go?

..

Sometimes it’s best to think of sandy beaches.

What each grain washed by the tides endures.

And how, when daybreak softens surf

to opaque yellow, broken shells

will glimmer like real jewels.


Robert Joe Stout writes, reads and goes to baseball games in Oaxaca, Mexico and shares sofa and computer space with his Siamese cat. His fiction has appeared in And/Or, Sin Fronteras, Southern Humanities Review and his poetry has received Pushcart Prize nominations. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Mexico City College, has served on human rights delegations and remembers the year he lived in San Francisco. See http://www.robertjoestout.weebly.com.

Taxidermy

Nothing is a taxidermy.
Life is constantly relaxing its muscles,
and the corner is always a river
with people leaving their prints like receipts.
Bread is purchased and jelly is bagged,
and cigarettes are smoked for proof,
how the smoker can blow donut holes.

But we all have constraints.
Our little bad habits that are shackles
that keep us from flying.
So, I will buy my bread and jelly,
and redeem my coupons for evolution,
and hope to get a set of wings
from a stiffened, dead bird.


Amanda Tumminaro lives in the U.S. She is a poet and short story writer and her work has been featured in Thrice Fiction, Jokes Review and Stickman Review, among others. Her first poetry chapbook, The Flying Onion, is available now by The Paragon Press.

Nobody Dies in Dreamland

As I left for the last time, I hugged my dying father.

I was amazed. It was my son
his seven-year old’s pulse of hormonal weaponry
the same conclusive scent of being
track of curled hair
spoor of roller coaster protein filaments
split ends that I live to sniff
run my huntsman’s fingers through.

So that is where its from
from this old man, whom I had never hugged before
would never hug again

who lived his life, distant as a glint of lesser star
could not be seen beyond suburban street glow

who had no god, no heaven, no stone to roll away

followed his own obscure footprints
through knee length snow into the silent forest.

So, it is, with these deceptive little snakes

the old, the brilliantly new, play tricks.


Alan HillAlan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster, Canada. He has been published in over forty literary magazines and periodicals across Europe and North America. He originates form the west of England. He came to live in Canada after meeting his Vietnamese-Canadian wife while working in Botswana.

This is the Afterlife

For My Father

You are dying now but we will always have the afterlife
what I have made for you, that I offer as gift.

It is here now, if you care to join me.

Open this book, pop it up in folded card
in the look up from a valley bottom
into tangle of car lights through trees on the top road.

One of those cars is you coming home
in the escape from another work day disappointment, the office
to your consolation children.

Off course, we may have been that disappointment
yet in your diplomacy, never let us know
not then, when we were still young.

Here, in this rest that I offer you
it is always a November evening, just after rain.

There is a house set back, pasted against open fields
the garden you made, hidden now until spring

then a drop, a river valley, an alluvial aloneness
a blackness, tidal in his completeness
the night long shake of unseen freight trains.

No place is ever really us.
We are awkward, too city, too proud to belong.

This is the nearest we will get, amalgamated, invented
in the outline of mountain tops, the pull of never visited peaks
stain of crayon, marker

in an estuary with an open fist
offer of bloody palm, unsigned paperwork

the cracked spine of this discarded book
that I never did quite finish
that has its pages laid open to the ocean.


Alan HillAlan Hill is the Poet Laureate of the City of New Westminster, Canada. He has been published in over forty literary magazines and periodicals across Europe and North America. He originates form the west of England. He came to live in Canada after meeting his Vietnamese-Canadian wife while working in Botswana.

Confusing the Sun & Moon

Dirty drifts hide in the shade
of shocked cherry weeping
beneath branches sporting buds

destined to not bloom. Snowmen
abandoned lose their heads.
Fat squirrels thieve acorn eyes,

noses from the once plump.
What’s left to see? My son asks
what we call the moon

seen during the day.
My answer — moon.

Sometimes the sun can make things look dimmer
especially if you look directly
into it

which I would do
if there were a sun to look into
but all I have is this grey

gloom mottled sky
with a hint of snow
like a threat

or sweet temptation
as if I’m standing on the edge
looking over

down
at the other me looking up
mouthing the word

jump.


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook—The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press)—and a full-length poetry collection—What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.