Shome Dasgupta

The Only Way We Know

Brittle the smile, gone went the grimace–
shallow heads sunk deep into a well
full of gone and gone, long done the thoughts:
past blocks–in shades and hues, imagined realities
once existed in distorted skies, fickle:
is the dance of the mind, and cloud cloud
clouds sang stretched lights–parallel to lines
connecting a tick tock world to haphazard
hazardous souls of belonged beings,
who once found meaning–of love and life and memories
in a stray mutt, tongue sagging, watery barks–
while searching for tasteless suds,
anything means everything when the forgotten
remember to remember: that they are the ones
meant to fade away into darkness, that is–
light we know but no longer want to exist,
and this, why geometric planes tilt this way and that,
plates welcoming maths of uncertainties.

Hoarse throats: lullaby of perception–
we are all so very gone, so very here–
time unaccounted for, but here here here:
just a moment, we reached out our hands
for skin for a leaf an orange a lime,
when sought a mud of ideas, that
once lit the universe, were no longer
purposeful–so we went our ways with a tongue
tasting of grit and smiles and a grimace gone full of dirt
and leaves of a fallen whatever truth–
so went and goes the matter of atoms, particles
of which we are all made but were never made to realize,
we’re all so made to be confused: the end of it all
is just the beginning, and glitter sprinkles upon
our faces as if we know what really happened.

Shake shake shook.

All of our science: took the turtle’s shell,
skull in meditation, chins are so up–
chins are so weary and worn:
worn was what we were meant to be–
glass, o’ the glass and glass, glass glass sparked
the touch of ignition made to lead us
to a spiral of reflections and wooden ladders
beaten, eroded like rivers traveling
through crevices of our tongues
and taste buds and tacit towers,
soles of your standing: sound
and sound and sound, bells shout
like we haven’t been heard for an infinity,
but no matter, no matter at all–we drift,
let ourselves unravel–it was all meant to be:
a silent understanding–it was never going to happen.

A blaze a fire a speck of ash:
swimming, stomach of ghost–
a specter spectacular,
we all should know–we are all that ghost,
the ghost that waves hi when we are looking down–
concrete cement coffins below, our souls
rusted–unwavering, fireflies once knew
what we were thinking–we never asked
for solace, we want but never seek–
a lake of glimmer settled upon our faces,
shimmer and shiver, it’s all the same–
we’ve seen it all–heard, felt:
learned that the beginning is much like the end–
we’re not surprised, not surprised at all–
in the end, we expected it to be that way,
and that is the only way we know.


Shome Dasgupta lives in Lafayette, LA. He is the author of i am here And You Are Gone (Winner Of The 2010 OW Press Fiction Chapbook Contest), The Seagull And The Urn (HarperCollins India), Anklet And Other Stories (Golden Antelope Press), Pretend I Am Someone You Like (University of West Alabama’s Livingston Press), and Mute (Tolsun Books). He can be found at http://www.shomedome.com and @laughingyeti.

Sarah Little

Ghostspeak

She calls you on
the first of every
month.

Her voice changes,
disappears
into the mouthpiece.

After six months
she sounds weak.
Her voice

is breathy,
thin,
as if she’s apologising
 for

existing.


Sarah Little is a poet who scribbles when she remembers and gets tetchy when she goes too long without writing. Her work has appeared in L’Éphémère Review, Alien Pub, and Milk + Beans, among others. Her first poetry micro-chapbook, Snapshots was published with Broken Sleep Books in July 2019.

Three Poems by Robert Frede Kenter

Tsunami

With abalone hair, string-tuned
Medusa turned men to stone
melted night-mare

eyes. Gone, faces
carved in trees, endless
monuments.

The sea kept churning
lifting things up
from deeper places.

Beware one location
but not another? It
does not have to be this way.

Walk beaches in broken step,
coal-black sand, demanding hearts, twisted
limbs, dreaming sea walls, expressive hands.

Up the shore
amidst curled-curved culverts
— a ribbon- of police

Uninformed men  ecstatic women
thrown out of ocean on angrier waves,
hurtling the thrusting scruff of fluted palms


Milk River

Metal  taste     methane

his military      chest medallion

Not lucid    —    I mention  —    paper bags

and brows in terror

A terrace  of   tears   mother   weeping in

a water-closet        open  door

Coming up: The Dire Wolf    (in an ambulance)
locked in starlight.

Ambling towards comatose
Ample   verdant not ambulatory

Father, staggering   towards a dish of  sugar

To make an oven tray-full of sacred
burnt – blurred –left upper cut  trunk

of (words)

Borrow into
the armature.  Sutured.

A sentient tattoo —

sewing the lips up
tight        Night of churning

Eyes of black stitches   —

Threading a  blood needle
Crimson    marooned
with ampules.  Knitting

the Moon.

Terrible.  Father.

Cold pours with gasoline into Milk River.


Econoline economies

With economics
(par excellence)    the
Industrial waste land    measured

by unit     display    porch
lamps (in fog)

the pariah ( parasitical )
(in parenthesis)

The parent wheel endeavour
The coach-wheel-brokers

Wheel upon wheel      work
Is attitudinal

(respect the Gold Standard)

A   RUSH ))))))))

In the schools of regents regret
Neglect is procedural            a   (regal)

routine
(innocuous)

this route and the railroad # tracks

all crown imperial uranium techniques !
on the television   the umpire   strikes

to clear the fields,
clear them  the (TIN FOIL TRUMPETS)

Colgate       clerestory       chloroform

Clear the head  – reading — Irigaray —

(the Irregular Currents/ of Hollywood monsters
and British investiture    the    inventories
of misadventure    the Dividends)

 

Ruptured mined   in Hydro   waterfalls

Velcro   sheets

 

Hydrophone  euphemism        Hyper-oxide
Hydroxide

The beauteous rapture   at Bala

Running together a long stretch of forgetting    (forgeries)
Fording picture frames all hammered edges


Robert Frede Kenter is a writer, visual artist and editor.  He is the EIC and publisher of Ice Floe Press.  His writing and images have been published and exhibited widely including: Burning House Press, Dandelion, New Quarterly, Cough, Anthropocene, Going Down Swinging (Melbourne), Visual Verse, Grain, Arc, Writ, Twist in Time, the Failure Bailer and Black Bough. His chapbook Audacity of Form (2019) is available from Ice Floe Press. He tweets at @frede_kenter.

Tianna G. Hansen

evanescence 

like the revontulet fox fire in the northern sky
I dance, sparks rising from my paws as I run.

lightning without thunder, burning romantic
flames across the clouds. if I disappear into

darkest night, I will rise again, brilliant
beyond your wildest dreams. I am a creature

who belongs chasing constellations & stars
the evanescence of my being is a discovery.

you may think I disappear, but I shift skins,
become something fiercer than you first

thought I could be. this fur envelopes me
in soft touch, excites me. hybrid soul

of legend & folk tales, existing beyond belief.
I sigh a final breath from convulsing lungs

my body spread across the night sky in cascading
stars, twinkling their infinite brilliance.

your children’s children will look up & see
me chasing my tail, my grinning fangs

winking. they will follow my lead into
the hungry forest, become lost to you

forever, the way I have been.
the way I always will be.

 


Tianna G. Hansen has always been a poet at heart, though she has studied fiction and dabbled in creative nonfiction. In human form she runs Rhythm & Bones Press (rhythmnbone.com), giving space to those with trauma to be turned to art. Find more of her work at creativetianna.com or follow her and more of her wolf writings on Twitter @tiannag92.

Two Poems by Jesse S.

Two

White house tastes blue, like chalk, like ocean
Sunset or sunrise, quilted through my skin and wrapped around my body, windows whispering don’t tell don’t tell don’t tell

We seek paradise with no forethought
We welcome demons, and like us

They feast
There is no Heaven to chip your teeth on
And no Hell
There is only maple tree
Sandbox
Mud
And closed eyes
There is only white house
Golden trim
It is only purgatory
And you are little death

Bloody your tongue like your hands
Unthread your skin
White house tastes blue like abstraction,
Like
Rushing water, burning lungs and ribbons
Around throat

 

In the desert

rock
for miles
red, and dust
once sea

once great,
and submerged

once mountain,
and execution


Jesse s. is a Black author and poet from the Midwest, with a specialty for horror and homoeroticism. He is currently developing a chapbook entitled “Eros in Dying” and can be found at the bottom of any shallow ditch, or at @gothqore on Twitter.

Ellen Chang-Richardson

How bold I was, when I was seven

I touch my left earlobe to bring myself luck,
as I listen to the words of colonialists. Yet I
in some ways am a colonialist too. Full of brimstone
and the belief I belong; existence that blood / belies.

I shake my left leg to field preoccupation,
as I think back to my blood’s migration. My parents,
their parents, their flight bringing with them
another culture, foreign.

Stop stroking your ears, shaking your legs, they’d say.
Place hands to your lips, steepled and silent.

Now bow low and focus, why, because
only whores shake coin from their thighs.


Ellen Chang-Richardson (she/her) is a poet, writer and editor of Taiwanese and Cambodian-Chinese descent. Winner of the 2020 POWER OF THE POETS Contest and the 2019 Vallum Award for Poetry, her writing has appeared in The Town Crier, Anti-Heroin Chic, long con magazine and more. Her debut chapbook Unlucky Fours is published by Anstruther Press (2020) and her second Assimilation Tactics is forthcoming this fall. Find out more at www.ehjchang.com.

Two Poems by Colin James

MYTHOMANIA AND THE LIFESPAN OF HEROES

Whenever I see a bolt
sticking out of someone’s head
with protruding thread,
I think another off season spent
compiling interpretations of
fascinating northern Europeans.
The anti-establishment congruent.
A dollies rusty bent wheel echoes
through drafty castle corridors.
Soon to be oiled bloody.
If brought back to life,
expectations will detract from
the actual, so I am going to
place your remains here.
Mourners filing past may
flinch in anticipation of one
good final flying flat-liner.

 

SCHOOL STREET

The dirt floor crawl spaces
beneath front door porches
held much more appeal
when I was younger,
running from neighborhood
dogs or owners. Surviving
territorial amendments
that played out daily.
Some had unused coal doors
accessing dusty cellars.
Patience resulted in vindication
for my naked apparatus,
fittingly just an aphorism.


Colin James has a book of poetry, Resisting Probability, from Sagging Meniscus Press.  He lives in Massachusetts.

Katie Noble

The world is a funeral, but it thinks it’s a party

Today, the weather is fine.
Bouncy clouds of sweet whipped cream,
a downpour of fruit scones, ripe strawberries
fresh for the picking.

(picking one by one,
looking for the juiciest victim,
the one with the reddest skin,
the one with the weakest lungs)

Neighbours line the streets
seeking distraction and a slice of sponge,
a glass of wine to wash down the news,
a pint of beer to toast the red white and blue

(blue are the bodies,
their lungs red, their faces
white, when it gets them)

The busy street reverberates
with laughter and Vera Lynn—
We will meet again!
Clap for our NHS!

(If you clap hard enough then
maybe you can drown it out,
the sound of coughing—of dying,
just for a minute)


Katie Noble is a writer and researcher from Essex. She is currently a first-gen doctoral
student in English at the University of Oxford, researching the mediation of women in
eighteenth-century ephemeral print & performance. You can follow her on Twitter
@kaatienoble.

Michael Edwards

Home where the hearth is

I.

Let’s explore the root cause of your ruffled feathers.

It might be that the radiator leaks puddles
of small worry or that watercolours melt,
then stain window sills sap green

or palms rubbing rain-thin panes,
to expose our family
drama, to the agora of morning.

Or it might be my shower hastened
by mildew-scented drains, reaching for a towel
I find silverfish crawling
river-bottom,

cascading downstairs to the street
in this Eureka! moment.
It might be that I have the answer.

II.

What’s it like raising kids in climate oblivion?

It’s like talking to yellow roses
because I’ll miss them when they go.

Companions in bone-cold days,
their petals wilt, excrete frozen dew.
excretion or exertion

like when I drag myself
through hours after children sleep,
dredging basal brain,

It’s like covering the reptilian basics
of unwiring steel
to cook copper, following
corrosion recipes over radio waves.

It’s like that wobble of birds unravelling
their nests as they watch me and chirp.

III.

We all go south from Galilee
to keep home fires burning
while steam boils
white walls dry.

Radiators substitute for fireplaces
like the earth bubbling in a vacuum-sealed bag,
fully contained,
no possible escape.


Michael Edwards is an emerging poet, writer and busy dad living in Vancouver, BC. His creative influences include his small children and also poets like Seamus Heaney, Philip Levine and Kayla Czaga. He is editor of the brand new Red Alder Review (twitter.com/AlderReview) and has work forthcoming from Cabinet of Heed. You may follow him on Twitter, where he is an active member of the online poetry community (twitter.com/michaelwrites1).

Three Poems by Neil Surkan

Unbecoming

Night advances like molasses,
creeping over the carton-white
mountains. Next to this foreclosed
casino, a dormant bog shallow

breathes. Mealy ornamental apples
snick in tiny, frost-shocked trees
potted around the patio.
Across the valley, a last worker exits

the quarry, headlights glowing between
shale piles like a skull
placed on a candle. We’re due
for some luminous thinking –

this very early snow and all –
but why plan when you can gamble?
There’s only one guarantee:
nests naked without leaves,

vomit on the paving stones,
the world appears, exceeds, and un-
becomes too quickly for certainty,
just enough for love

to burn, burn with cold,
then go so numb –
blackening toe
we’ll salvage or cut tomorrow.

Reservoir

Carp lurk through suburbs
when runoff jumps the dam, sucks
manhole covers up like corks, slops
wallpaper with septic hands.

I mostly keep my body close – rove,
but rarely quit, its cul-de-sacs –
save in, say, a dense flicking
stand of thin birches, their tigered

stalks quivered by the spring
wind, cool light trickling
through the tossing stems.
Then, if lifted, if moved

to swim among the future
sprigs, balled now in burgundy-
armoured buds like tiny
minarets, I see it all

without me – abandoned nests,
old anthill dents – and am re-
minded that the verb to be
gears down but never loses speed

completely. I am not undying,
nor ever pre-bloom, just
a reservoir of energies
that pour in, spool around me, stream

in floods of words that,
like fish scales on furniture,
cling for a while and shine
the dull way dried tears shine.

Death Perception

and depth
perception
are pretty
tight fields
of vision –
near, far,
an in-between
that lurches.
In the dim
gallery, I
tried to
eye Simon
Starling’s Infest-
ation Piece –
a replica
of Moore’s Warrior
with Shield
that, plunged in
Lake Ontario,
grew shingly
zebra mussel
patches – but
she, stooped like
my dead
grandmother,
kept standing
in front
of me, moving
when I moved, so
close the sculpture
fogged. Her tin
hair, still
pillow-dented,
glittered with
skin flakes
as did
her cable-knit
shoulders, shingly
with invasive
time. The rest
of the vast,
nebular room
shied
from view,
save a lurid
exit sign.
The sculpture
has no
head. The ghost
could not
hear. I
saw clearly
there’s no
turning back.


Neil Surkan is the author of the poetry collection On High (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2018) and the chapbook Super, Natural (Anstruther Press, 2017). A new chapbook, Desire Path, is forthcoming from Knife-Fork-Book (Fall, 2020). His most recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in THIS Magazine, Prairie Fire, The Literary Review of Canada, PRISM international, and Riddle Fence, among others. He lives in Calgary, Alberta.