The Green Lizard
I felt like a prisoner
in my dreams. I was
under lock and key
at a prison in Paris
like Verlaine, Villon,
and Voltaire. In a dark
cell drawing sketches
was a green lizard.
It spoke French and a
little Spanish. The
sketches were painted
on the walls. The green
lizard was my cell mate.
Its bleeding tongue was
its brush and the walls
were graffitied with red
moons, red stars, and
red mountains. Through
a window in the prison,
the green lizard would
come in and leave through
the bars in the window.
The prison guards would
beat me mercilessly
every morning, never
believing that it was
the green lizard that
bloodied the walls with art.
They asked me where
I hid the paint and why
the sketches were red.
About the Author: Born in Mexico, Luis lives in California and works in the mental health field. His poems have appeared in Blue Collar Review, Escape Into Life, Kendra Steiner Editions, Mad Swirl, and Unlikely Stories. His latest poetry book, Make the Water Laugh, was published by Rogue Wolf Press in 2021.
The CDC states that the symptoms of Wasting Disease are
drastic weight loss, stumbling, and listlessness.
I saw a dead deer in the middle of Route 31 driving home,
and his insides were sucked in till his bones stuck out.
My dad tells me in a curious tone during our weekly calls
that the wasting comes in and eats them from the inside out.
He then informs me, in an even more drastic way,
that it can definitely spread to humans from the meat,
but I think, driving back to small town United States,
it’s already here.
I passed by my favorite restaurant during deep dusk,
and the windows were boarded up and already vandalized.
The main road into town is starting to wash away,
and flood control can’t hold anymore of its rubble.
That bridge they claimed they would fix became a crater,
and the orange work sign has become a vague, plastic white.
I turn on my high beams and catch the eyes of a young buck,
breaking quickly so I don’t catch him on my car.
He blinks at me and his fog breath hitches out in the fall air,
and I see his sides sucked in like an empty duffle bag.
I watch him leave and then sit for awhile longer realizing
the sign for the street I live on has been stolen.
I’m driving through a hot carcass that isn’t even dead yet.
About the Author: Jeanette Hutzell works part time as a server while studying English Literature and English Writing at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg. She grew up on her family farm in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania.
Image Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Abandoned store. Cambria, Illinois” (1939) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress
ITEMS FROM THE WRECKAGE
The chant sounded overhead
is a rosary of wails
pitched upon the sea.
Feasting days are over.
As bodies, like incantations,
return as denial, as disbelief,
there is a need between us
to act the abandoned child.
We must appear as
orphans of mothers, of fathers
who could not see us
except at drink or night brutality.
I have spoken to your fears
as best I could;
taken and turned what I know
to some attempt at service.
It is never enough.
I must seem a fool
to attempt a patch upon a
part that slips daily, grinding
ever finer, ever closer.
Feasting days are finished.
And we are left consoling
our fathers, our mothers weeping
in raging lines along the shore.
We must take the unkind step to
leave them to their grieving.
You and I must learn a new answer,
another offering to the tides.
In movement, past regret,
past unspent days and seasons,
we will lay claim to our own lives.
About the Author: R.T. Castleberry, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has work in Steam Ticket, Vita Brevis, As It Ought To Be, Trajectory, Silk Road, StepAway, and The River. Internationally, he’s had poetry published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, New Zealand, Portugal, India, the Philippines and Antarctica. His poetry has appeared in the anthologies: Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, and Level Land: Poetry For and About the I35 Corridor. He lives and writes in Houston, Texas.
Kick the Bucket
Like a hollowed-out pumpkin
an empty orange bucket
sat on my back-porch stoop,
job completed, five-gallon
contents exhausted, container
just a lonely remnant inviting
children to flick it over, palm
the pleated bottom like a tabla
or pound corners with garden stakes
as if playing a floor tom-tom;
the pail’s white plastic handle
arced like an anemic tambourine
erect, bending indifferently
once flipped horizonal.
Oh, days came & went, tasks evolved,
trash stuffed space where machines
filled paint cans, shook pigment,
stamped a slogan that pealed
off the vessel’s exterior; creative
uses expanded, cobwebs cluttered
the uncovered lid before kicked
sideways so Scott could practice
golf putts till winter snowdrifts
buried its Halloween semblance
welcomed springtime renewal
as rodents huddled, built nests
& guarded offspring oblivious
of their Home Depot connection.
About the Author: A Washington-based author, educator, and Pushcart nominee for poetry, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as Street Lit., The Ekphrastic Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Fib Review, and Sparks of Calliope. Warner also has written seven volumes of poetry, including Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Memento Mori: A Chapbook Redux, Edges, Rags & Feathers,Serpent’s Tooth, Flytraps, and Cracks of Light: Pandemic Poetry & Fiction (2022)—as well as. Masques:Flash Fiction & Short Stories. Currently, he writes, turns wood, and hosts virtual poetry readings.
Image Credit: Russell Lee “Old gold ore bucket at abandoned mine. Pinos Altos, New Mexico” (1940) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress
How would you describe your pain? Stabbing? Aching? Sharp? Dull? I would describe mine as a skeletal tree with twisted limbs rattling in the wind. Every day seems a bad imitation of the day before. If I look ahead, I see myself walking on corpses instead of the ground, and if I look back, I see night and fog, and my father angrily clenching the steering wheel and my mother locked in cold silence beside him, while alone in the backseat, I watch through the side window the black-veiled moon follow us home.
About the Author: Howie Good’s latest poetry book is The Horse Were Beautiful (2022), available from Grey Book Press. Redhawk Publications is publishing his collection, Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems, later this year.
The jasper skeleton of fallen Noah
Fossilized in mineral rich mud
Not so far from the chalcedony beams
That buoyed a sprig cut from the
Tree of life over the vast empire
Of whale and shark and seaweed groves.
His skeleton may remember what the flesh
Forgets. Crustaceans devouring the drowned
Bodies of soft skinned leopards and
Once ferocious bears. The sharks smell
Leaking blood and rend flesh with razor teeth.
Sunken cities shelter fish schools in tedious numbers.
And yet one tender sprig of olive, severed by
Dove teeth returning to a vista of gray on gray
Prophesies a retreat by the watery empire,
A beachhead outpost for the kingdom of the firmament,
And wings and legs and hands and sharpened swords.
Was it a sword left Noah on his back in the mud?
Was it contempt or jealousy or bitterness
Behind the hand that struck? What evil did that
Great flood wash from the sticky nature of man?
About the Author: John Barnes has been writing poetry for 42 years and has been published in The Chained Muse, The Minison Project Sonnet Collection Series and received the Winter 2022 quarterly award for his submission to The Lyric. He recently performed a featured reading at ArtNewCo in Columbus, Ohio. He is a student of verse and believes in the value of self-education.
And since you are part of this world, you too are changeableafter Ovid’s Metamorphoses
an axolotl, to regrow my cut off limbs,
parts of the heart still beating beneath
the water, iodizing myself toward land
and what of those leaves you gave me in june?
especially the one i kept pressed in a book, a little
cry betwixt these metamorphoses
Ovid prayed we’d remove ourselves
from this self-taught banishment, this black & blue
sea borne ten times over by swallowed sand
but this is to say: i am not asking you to be
concerned by my hurt, only by my change
the way flowers ripped from soil will only wilt
About the Author: V.S. Ramstack is a poet breathing in Chicago. She received her BA in English + Gender, Women, & Sexuality studies from University of Minnesota and her MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Previous work can be found in Posit, Curator Magazine, Anti-Heroin Chic, Across the Margin, and elsewhere.
Image Credit: Charles Aubry “Flower Still Life” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program
It’s very important to have your spot picked out to wait out the end of the world. The spot you want to be to be Raptured from. Wherever it is you want to be when the meteors slam into the planet. Wherever you want to be when the floodwaters rise up and drag everything to the sea. Have some snacks packed, because all this could take a while. Dress appropriately. Or, because it’s the End, don’t wear anything at all. Call your mother. Don’t forget to feed the dog. Let everyone you love know that even though this spot you’ve chosen to watch the world end from isn’t anywhere near them, and even though you can’t be bothered to be with them in person, you are thinking about them, right now. And really, as always, it’s the thought that counts.
About the Author: Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, The Hong Kong Review, and Appalachian Journal, and her hobbies include kicking and screaming at vending machines.
The Topography of Grief
The topography of grief is karst,
riddled with sinkholes
that suddenly open
under your feet, swallow you whole.
I don’t know what I expected
to feel. Not this emptiness.
Not nothing. I don’t cry
at the sight of my dad’s signature.
The letter from probate court
I’ve been expecting. I know
what it contains: a form letter
and a copy of dad’s will.
I cry when I pack his chessboard,
lay the wooden pieces to rest
in their velvet-lined compartments,
close the box, latch the lid.
About the Author: Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land, The Eden of Perhaps, and A Coracle for Dreams, all published by Spartan Press. Most recently, she has been collaborating with eight other poets on the book Wild Muse: Ozarks Nature Poetry (Cornerpost Press, 2022.) Her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines; you can read some of them on her website agnesvojta.com.
Self-Portrait as Ariel from The Tempest
I have returned from the wreck, from that ship
you tossed with your tempest. The crew lay
unharmed, as you would know,
and they rest on the shore
where kaleidoscopic shells are scattered about
and where the sea slides up only to recede.
I serenaded them with my song, which,
like my essence, belongs entirely to you:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade…
By nature, my body belongs to the four winds,
and to them, one day, it will return.
But, for now, I am an extension of your mind,
and I attend to your bidding
as the sun comes out of hiding. The crew
has awoken and daylight spreads across
our island. I will return to my tree
until I’m to sing again.
About the Author: Alexander Lazarus Wolff is a writer of poetry and creative nonfiction. His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Best American Poetry online, The Citron Review, NDQ, Black Fox Literary Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, Serotonin, and elsewhere. He was awarded first place in the Poetry Society of Virginia’s Undergraduate Award. He is a poetry editor for The Plentitudes and is an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary. You can find him and more of his work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolffalex108/ on Instagram: @wolffalex108 and at www.alexanderlazaruswolff.com
Image Credit: Mary Hoare “Ferdinand and Ariel” (1781) Public Domain image courtesy of Artvee