Categories
Poetry

Three Poems by John Grey

Lake Ghosts

I love that morning lake fog.

It’s the nearest I ever come

to seeing ghosts.

There is my mother and father,

my three sisters,

misting up in the tranquil transition

of night into day.

We had our disagreements

when they were alive.

But now they’re no longer here,

they walk on water.

A Teenager’s Wheels

I watch my father command the wheel

as he guides the car in and out

of highway traffic

at sixty miles an hour,

eyes and hands and feet

as coordinated as a fencer’s.

Or he’s in the passenger seat,

giving lessons with nothing more

than expression,

as I nervously nudge the vehicle forward

across the expanse

of a college parking lot.

We’re so often in the car together.

Like fishing is for some,

it’s our bondage.

For all the attention paid

to the way ahead,

there’s always a sideways glance involved

and the sense that, like love,

driving is unsuited to solitude.

Yet I can’t wait

to venture out on my own,

license tucked inside my wallet,

every street at my disposal,

one eye on the road,

one eye on the passenger seat

that will look so lost and forlorn

until it’s filled by someone.

Cedar Waxwings

January,

a high, thin cry of zee

draws me to the window.

Cedar waxwings

flash gray velvet feathers

from a nearby bush.

They peck through snow

at barely visible berries,

load up on winter’s chaff

to see them through the lean.

There’s something in a bill,

so small it barely warrants

the lift of a head while swallowing.

But the flock is relentless,

under orders from survival,

pecking furiously

even at nothingness.

My gaze is crystallized

in a window pane,

their essence likewise.

They’re too busy to notice me.

Even if they did,

I doubt that I’d astound their living.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest books, Leaves On Pages and Memory Outside The Head are available through Amazon.

Categories
Poetry

Two Poems By Aaron Sandberg

Fortune

The dog tipped over the trash,

sniffed week-old egg roll with his snout,

found the cookies we couldn’t crack,

swallowed two still-folded futures,

then like us: gagged, hacked

one out.

Transit

We watched as

         the new one

in foreign tongue

         tugged on

his shirt

         and asked him

to tell her

         how to get

to the bus—

         which could take her

to the train,

         which would make her

board another,

         which would get her

to the work

         she was promised

from this land—

         and listened

like her life

         was held

in his hands,

         whispered

his words

         and then

doubled back

         until she

could hold to

         the first

before learning

         the next,

like walking

         the wire

taut over

         the canyon,

both trembling

         but trying,

then showed her

         what’s meant

by tunnel

         and ticket,

and when she

         had repeated

all steps

         back to him,

tore hearts

         when she asked

if we

         could explain

how then,

         together,

to get her

         back home.


Aaron Sandberg thinks ‘cellar door’ sounds fine, he guesses. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in West Trade Review, Asimov’s, The Offing, Sporklet, Lowestoft Chronicle, Abridged, Giallo, Right Hand Pointing, Monday Night, and elsewhere. A Pushcart-nominated teacher, you might find him—though socially-distant—on Instagram @aarondsandberg.

Categories
Poetry

Two Poems By Deryck Robertson

Disclaimer: When viewing these poems on a mobile device, we recommend turning your phone to the side for the best viewing experience.

Coloured Pencils

A box of coloured pencils

     (or, pencil crayons au Canada)

Lies unopened in my tired mind;

24 pointed tools of potential

Courtesy of

Crayola Canada, Lindsay, Ontario.

New dreams of

Golden yellow dawnings & mahogany red sunsets,

Fresh jade greens and emeralds blooming

Under white clouds leisurely floating

Through aqua blue skies.

Each moment in time becoming more

As the origin is reduced to

Unsharpened stub ends and broken tips

Lying at the bottom of what remains

Of the worn cardboard box.

At the end,

Only the oranges and browns remain.

F 150

Rusting truck beds carry

The memories of adventures

Of beat up backpacks and

Dusty, rutted roads

Tie downs and ratchet strap

         Reminiscings

Each scrape, bruise, bubble

         and dent

A story written in metal

That someday will disappear

Into the soil of time

To fertilize the imagination

Of those that long for

The things that

Rusting truck beds carry


Deryck N. Robertson lives and creates in Peterborough, Ontario. His work has appeared recently with Melbourne Culture Corner, Northern Otter Press, TunaFish Journal, Burnt Breakfast Mag, and The Minison Project. He can usually be found in Algonquin Park with his family of paddlers or thinking about practicing his trombone. His latest self-published zine will be printed as soon as he finds enough empties in order to pay for it.

Categories
Poetry

Portrait of a Mother on the Eve of Spring Break

Disclaimer: When viewing these poems on a mobile device, we recommend turning your phone to the side for the best viewing experience.

Portrait of a Mother on the Eve of Spring Break

By: Tamra Plotnick

through the parlor window
I witness
my last umbilical issue
load her distilled yet spindly
wonder into a hired car
and stream away

trailing behind
a long buried yet noodling crevasse
an invisible emptiness threading my core
that she began spinning since her womb exit fifteen summers back
that holy filament hooked onto her suitcase wheels
stretching my hollowness
past prospect

I stand behind glass
these wafery walls of skin
vacant of her
         glamour, grace, gall
this empty arc of bones
pressing against my own architecture
         prayers, poems, partners
so as not to cave
under the weight of
         values ill-instilled
         quests unshared
         talk too tacit
         bonds unbound

like Demeter
I forfeit color and verve
with her departure
though blossom’s promise looms a day away
and the charge is to view flamboyantly all

till the return of my Persephone
I will
spring
break


Tamra Plotnick’s poetry and prose works have been published in many journals and anthologies, including: Serving House Journal; The Waiting Room Reader, Global City Review and The Coachella Review. Her book In the Zero of Sky, Poems will be released by Assure Press in 2021. She has performed her work in multimedia shows in New York City where she lives, dances, teaches high school, and malingers with friends and family.

Categories
Poetry

Cat Eying the Butter

Cat Eying the Butter

By: Antoni Ooto

Every morning I feel you missing.

It’s been a while,

and only now do I speak quietly

about you;

hoping for an impossible presence

to hold on to.

There is less laughter

at the breakfast table,

but as I chew,

I think of you

eying the butter on my plate.

Sick as you were,

you never lost your taste

for thievery.

for Baby (our tiny cat)

(February 19, 2000-July 28, 2014)


Antoni Ooto is an internationally published poet and flash fiction writer. Well-known for his abstract expressionist art, Antoni now adds his voice to poetry. His love for and studying the works of many poets has opened another means of self-expression.

His recent works are published in Amethyst Review, The BeZine, The Poet Magazine, Brown Bag Online, The Wild Word, Active Muse: Journal of Poetry and Art, and many journals and anthologies. Antoni Ooto lives and works in upstate New York with his wife poet/storyteller, Judy DeCroce.

Categories
Poetry

Two Poems by Jason Melvin

Disclaimer: When viewing these poems on a mobile device, we recommend turning your phone to the side for the best viewing experience.

Toothpaste

as I squeeze the toothpaste

onto my toothbrush    staring

into the hotel room mirror

         I wonder

if the apocalypse happens,

could I sustain myself

by eating toothpaste?

With a foamy mouth

         I examine

the near empty

travel size tube

It expired a year and a half ago.

Punching Air

you had to sneak up   yelling did no good

walking up   lightly shaking   whispering Dad

never a good idea

a punch was coming your way   too fast to dodge

ten quarters stacked on his elbow

caught in that hand

         FAST

3rd-degree tae-kwon-do black belt

         FAST

you learn that lesson once

Saturday afternoon boxing matches

watching with eyes closed

laid out in the recliner   TV so loud

the deaf could hear it

which was kind of the point

I go for the toes   down on all fours

for a punch to reach   He’d have to sit up

and I’m hitting the ground

the recliner footrest   my shield

no war zone in that sleeping mind

bad ears take you out of the draft line   but

What’s behind those closed lids?

that keeps him on high alert

Punching air

at the slightest touch.


Jason Melvin is a happily married father of three children and one granddaughter. He has of late rediscovered his joy of writing and thought WTH, let’s try publishing. His work has recently appeared in From Whispers to Roars, The Beatnik Cowboy, The Raw Art Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Closed Eye Open, Kitchen Sink Magazine, The Electric Rail, and Front Porch Review.

Categories
Poetry

Two Poems by DS Maolalai

Painting a hot day.

a woman

in a housecoat,

threadbare

on her balcony,

eating an apple

which is dirty

with fingerprints,

looking

at a view

of the ground.

A bright day.

I can’t find my glasses.

they are somewhere

in the apartment,

but I am at work

in an office-building

opposite customs

overlooking the river

where Dublin

meets the sea.

I wear prescription

sunglasses, get odd looks

from the deli-man

as I grab a cheap sandwich

at the corner

near Tara St station. it’s not

a bright day; the sky dusty

as a broken piano,

untuned and hardly

played, a closed lid

in an under-used

guestroom. I walk

out to the evening

which slaps against weather

quite heavily, like a flag

in Kilbarrack

hanging from a window.

the world today

is clear and lovely,

the dark grey pavements

wet as bathroom mirrors.

I lean by the corner

and eat my sandwich. wear

my sunglasses, enjoy

the cold autumn, egg

salad emulsion

and a fingerprint thinness

of bread.


DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

Categories
Poetry

I Am

I Am

By: Irina Talty

I am two worlds torn in half.

One is Bulgaria,

in the small city of Druzhba. 

Long, lazy summers

sticking with sweat, 

breath tastes like fresh 

banichka; warm and flaky.

My floury lips 

take another bite. 

Grainy sand under my feet

seaweed catches between my toes

the musty language of the sea

sliding over the sand. 

In the distance; a seagull, the roar 

of a jet ski. Laughing, shrieking

wind slapping my cheeks, 

knuckles pink, red, white

melting into a painful sunset. 

Dinners, humming with the lullaby of 

clinking plates and silverware

scooping food and pouring wine

glass after glass of the sweet fruit

wrapped under the canopy of vines. 

Bodies close, leaning in, 

gossip, fights, laughter. 

I race upstairs to chatter with cousins

with an unfamiliar language; yet

we can understand the familiar song 

of each other’s voices. 

Bulgaria, the smell of pearly soap,

cigarette smoke, and sweet grass.

But I am also here. 

America. 

Apple orchards and Halloween

fast food drives and greasy fingers

solo cups and first kisses

sloshing, wet, giggles. 

Hamburgers, hot dogs, 

little league games. 

Sitting in the heat, the fresh 

scent of cut grass. 

Driving with the windows down,

hand catching wind,

wind mussing hair. 

Coffee shops, subways, 

family, loud, bustling

banter while chowing on 

buttery angel cake, slippery spaghetti.

Smacking lips, smooching cheeks

telling me how tall I’ve grown

and asking me who my boyfriend is.

Road trips, cheap coffee,

lips on skin, lips on lips

feeling free, going faster,

first loves, first jobs, graduate. 

America, my first home. 

The feel of wet snowflakes, 

crunchy leaves, soft cherry blossoms.

Sitting in an American shop.

Tattoo ink bleeding into my skin

carving lines to create a sunflower

reminiscent of the golden fields

lining the country roads of

Bulgaria. My second home

forever with me,

etched onto my ribs,

etched into my heart.


Irina Talty is an Emory University grad who is currently teaching first grade in Atlanta, GA. She hopes to go to graduate school for creative writing after she has served her two years in Teach for America. She loves cooking, hiking, and her pet rats.