by Gaby Garcia
the sky is blue butter and his eyes are bulging
at the crossroads because he’s been driving
so many days he says he dreamt in blacktop
at the Holiday Inn Express and his feet churned
in the stiff sheets reaching for pedals. He says I fell
asleep in my winter coat like a child in from the snow
and he unzipped me, talked me into my nightshirt
but I don’t remember. We are unshowered, we eat up
time with I’m Thinking Of Somebody. I stump him
with Monica Lewinsky and he tries to trick me
by picking God and making me work for it.
Do they live in America? Not exactly.
Do I know them? Not personally.
I roll the window down and stick my head
out like a dog, let the cold rip out an eyelash.
I tell him about the old woman in the park
back home who wears chunky jewels and stripes
and talks about sex. How it isn’t a joke
even though everybody thinks so. You’ll be like that,
he says, and it won’t be funny.
I can imagine touching your skin.
Gaby Garcia is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose work has appeared in North American Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She is a James Hearst Poetry Prize finalist, “Best of the Net” nominee, founder of the podcast On Poetry, and served as a Lucie Brock-Broido Teaching Fellow at Columbia University, where she received her MFA in poetry. She lives in Brooklyn.
by Patricia Ndombe
You cannot save me
when I am in bed
overthinking alone .
The seven deadly sins
have found an eighth.
Patricia Ndombe is currently an undergraduate poet at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC pursuing a major in English and Creative Writing. She is shaped by a family precisely half African and half African-American. She enjoys writing poetry as a creative outlet that enables her to reflect the world around her, escape the troubles of life, or look at it through another lens. Many of her poems were inspired while struggling with periods of identity uncertainty during her first two years of college, and this turbulent time period has given way to many others.
by Hannah Price
this is because i want to fit together with you like swans,
because when neither of us speak you can hear the grass growing
without putting your ear to the ground:
your throat has my nose pressed to it;
beneath the line where our skin meets is a yawning expanse,
and if i close my eyes i can see
the shifting immaterial of the earth, brown and black,
breathing because you are breathing.
your breathing is not like grass growing
but i know they are happening from the same place, at the same time
and if i listen long enough i can hear
a heartbeat echoing in your collarbone, like something speaking underground.
if i breathe as the grass grows i can see everything from here;
unending ground that seeks
the space below your head.
and when i pause it's dark enough to see the words collect,
small and distant
in my chest
like chicken bones at the bottom of a well
Hannah Price is a writer and student living in Chicago. She is pursuing nothing!
by Lori Cramer
I used to dress in fluorescent colors, desperate to be seen, known, and understood. Look at me, my bright pink sweatshirt shrieked. Talk to me, my neon green leggings screeched. Spend time with me, my vibrant orange baseball hat shouted.
These days, I clothe myself in charcoal gray, an elusive hue that doesn’t beg for anyone’s attention, but instead warns: Stop staring at me; I’m not a spectacle for your entertainment. Don’t start a conversation with me; I’ve no interest in sharing my thoughts with you. Go away and leave me alone; you’ll never understand me.
Lori Cramer’s short prose has appeared in The Cabinet of Heed, Elephants Never, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and Splonk, among others. Her story “Scars” (Fictive Dream, February 2018) was nominated for Best Microfiction 2019. Links to her writing can be found at https://loricramerfiction.wordpress.com. Twitter: @LCramer29.
by John Grey
the soldier kisses, shakes hands,
takes one good look at a dozen faces
before joining the end of the security line.
At gate 12,
he’s on his own,
in an uncomfortable plastic seat,
his roll behind his knee,
glancing around at the usual mix
of vacationers, businessmen,
family off to see more family.
No roadside bombs where they’re going.
No brainwashed local recruit
about to turn his rifle on
Florida beaches, Chicago conference rooms
or homes in small towns in Wisconsin.
Just rude kids.
Curt woman at
the airline counter.
It’s a time out
from those worth dying for.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie
Review and failbetter.
by C.B. Auder
They found another aerial bomb in the Elbe last summer, just there beside three churches, spitting distance from a Kindergarten playground, not ninety meters beyond a monument dedicated to Friendship Between Nations. Thank a heat wave (Hitzewelle) and a drought (Dürre) so severe that even World War II found a new way to gasp and rear the aging steel canister of its fragmentable head. Mutti
used to send her voice arcing through the August neighborhood towards Richard Nixon Elementary park. Tones that pinpointed our location on that searing metal slide, on those pinch-fingered swings. A new misery announced every afternoon--Fritzi Teufel, the dependable klaxon of the neighborhood--words flying through our chain links, flaying us from ear to ear, piercing even the notion of a cicada's drone of summer love. No longer that shy Mädchen, fourth forgotten child of six, Mutti was an American now, echt, allowed to speak her gottverdammtes piece in Rancho Cucamonga. And how
her worries then grew. Round and thick and lead-filled as a Kommandant's head, as she pushed her walls of Wasser, as she flung her arms out to shoot down all of life's surprises--good or bad for her equally traumatic--anything unexpected that might sabotage the perfect balance she'd attained with the sharp-edged
trenches of our minds. I still see her up on the ridge of my childhood, her words devoted to flying spit, twinkling silver on holidays like Bouncing Bettie toys (Bist du verrückt? Are you CRAZY?). My summer long gone, they land in autumn birdsong now. Soon, they will cocoon my sanctuary of winter solitude, until even the memory of that precisely-scheduled bedtime kiss has risen and cooled and flown.
C.B. Auder's writing has most recently appeared in Milk Candy Review, Bending Genres, Atlas + Alice, and Pidgeonholes. They edit the online journal Claw & Blossom at www.clawandblossom.com