by Kevin Casey
This was a fishbowl shaped like a giant brandy snifter,
furnished with crystal stones, a plastic plant, and a betta fish
that remained largely motionless in its stylized bonsai pond.
For the woman who set it on the receptionist’s counter,
it was a testament to her caprice, her sole challenge
to tedium, an oasis of color to brighten her day.
On the morning she arrived to find the cobalt drapery
of its fins hanging slack, she poured the fish’s lustreless remains
into the loo, committing them to the city’s waterworks.
But she returned the fishbowl to the desk, now holding nothing
but its glossy glass lozenges, high and dried of any meaning.
And when she pulled up anchor for another job, the fishbowl
remained in that same place for years, one of countless artifacts
we abandon and throw overboard in this sea of flotsam,
emptied of significance, knocking and bobbing in our wake.
Kevin Casey is the author of Ways to Make a Halo (Aldrich Press, 2018) and American Lotus, winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). And Waking... was published by Bottom Dog Press in 2016. His poems have appeared in Rust+Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Connotation Press, Pretty Owl Poetry, Poet Lore and Ted Kooser's syndicated column ‘American Life in Poetry.’ For more, visit andwaking.com
by Sophie Laing
When I walk home I imagine I’m gay
feels like a lighter step.
When I’m baking in the kitchen I imagine I’m gay
and I don’t feel as hungry for everything I make.
When I’m out of the shower and getting ready to sleep
I imagine I’m gay, picturing who might be beside me
thinking about what we will talk about
how there would be some little laughs in between
the few parts of our days we didn’t already talk about.
When I’m on a run, I imagine I’m gay
perhaps have a running partner or a biking partner
or am walking hand in hand to a sweet little neighborhood café.
When I’m out getting coffee, I imagine I’m gay
I think about what I’m wearing, I think about what my partner might be wearing
I think about how people might look at us.
I stare too long at the queer couples in the coffeeshop.
But I also smile to myself, my past self, my future self
and imagine that there’s a lot that can change in a year.
Sophie Laing is an upstate New Yorker who has been writing poetry since she was a kid. Her work has also appeared in Shards.
By Richard LeDue
Alone and shirtless again,
whisky my only friend with advice;
ice cubes cracked long after I was.
Each sip whispers, “Call her,
even if it's midnight, tell her
you'll make coffee in the morning,
joke how only her fingernails
can scratch your hairy back,
that you'll moan like a walrus,
yet beg her to look into your eyes
as you kiss, so she knows how serious
this all is- that she is worthy of poems.”
But my fingers misremember her number,
and I talk to Debbie for half an hour,
she had hip surgery last Tuesday.
Richard LeDue currently lives in Norway House, Manitoba. His work has been published by the Tower Poetry Society, in Adelaide Literary Magazine, and the Eunoia Review.
By Leslie Dianne
Where you came from
who used to be your friend
shot at your face
and ripped the happy away
A man who used to give you candy
gave your mother
a shove into the woods
while you waited
with lollipop tears
A boy you went to school with
showed you how hard he could
smash your face with the
barrel of a gun
because he remembered you
as the smart one
Those stupid boys with the
borrowed grown up swagger
and boom boom guns
stretched their humanity
until it snapped
back at them
A friend tells you that
one of them slit his brother’s throat
and danced in the moonlight
until the wolves brought him home
Leslie Dianne is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama, ETC in New York City. Her stage plays have been produced in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and The Lamb's Theater. Her poems have appeared or currently appear in Night Picnic Press, About Place Journal, Passaic / Völuspá, The Moon Magazine and The Lake and are forthcoming in Medusa’s Laugh Press and Hawai’i Review.
By Marc Carver
We went into the tropic garden
I put my hands out hoping one would land on me
but none did.
Then half way round a big one came down and sat on her shoulder
like a parrot
I thought it would fly off but it stayed with her all the way round.
When we got to the exit she looked at me
If we take it out there it will die I said
So eventually I got it off and it just sat on a leaf.
Of course all it wanted was to die
I see that now
Marc Carver has published some ten volumes of poetry and performed around the world but the most important thing to him is that people get something from his work
Long raven hair like Spanish
moss grabs a runaway slave
in a Louisiana swamp--
bound fast to the mast for
his siren song, like a horn
through the fog of a bayou bog
where Morgan Le Fay rises
again from the mist of
his boyhood dreams.
Somehow he pulls free but
his head is shorn--
like a nameless prison inmate
or a tonsured monk reborn
with a safer and holy name.
In the numinous light
of the piney woods,
nel mezzo del cammin
(as he understood)
he follows the trail,
like a well-bred hound,
of the sanguinous scent drifting
toward the ground.
When he gets to the crossroads
he tosses his bones
and to no one’s surprise
those single point dice
stare up at him like the Siamese eyes
that called him out with a smoky smile--
“Some go that way and some go this.”
He tastes her again when he bites his lip.
He had laughed years before at a bright-eyed man
who pulled his coat with a trembling hand
and rolled out a story of the horrible toll
of a triple Scorpio who stole his soul.
The broken man had sighed and let
his calling card reply—Blake’s etching
of hell and an experienced verse:
the road of excess (may first make things worse
but it) leads to the palace of wisdom.
Stare at the sun.
Stare at a woman
who knows what she’s done
and hasn’t a single regret.
Reach behind your back
for something to throw
through those black mirrored eyes.
Hear the blood rush in your ears.
Feel your feet tingle.
Feel your arms shake.
Scream ‘til the rafters
threaten to break.
Open your hands.
Laugh at yourself.
James Hannon is a psychotherapist in Massachusetts. His poems have appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Soundings East, Zetetic and other journals and in Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets. His collection, The Year I Learned The Backstroke, was published by Aldrich Press.