Sarah Carleton: “Guidelines for House Gecko”

Guidelines for House Gecko


Leave pearl eggs in dark spots—
behind sockets or bookshelves.

Crawl the walls on sticky toes, but if you see people,
scuttle to a crack and hide.

Squeak for help. Chirp for sex.
Eat bugs and multiply. 

Let the little ones dash across carpets 
but only at night.

You’ll last for years here, hovering 
in the laundry room, waiting for roaches

but even if a fleshy hand catches you and drops you
in the grass, don’t panic.

Remember, your name is House. 
You know where all the secret passages are.

About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and knits obsessively in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Cider Press Review, The Wild Word, Valparaiso, As It Ought to Be, and New Ohio Review. Sarah’s poems have received nominations for Pushcart and Best of the Net. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

Image Credit: Illustration originally from Histoire naturelle de Lacépède. Paris: Furne, Jouvet et cie. Public domain image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan: “She Says Her Cat is in Love with Javier Bardem”

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She Says Her Cat is in Love with Javier Bardem 

She tells me she sat up late watching
Being the Ricardos.

That it is better than you would think 
which is what everyone says about everything
but the apocalypse.

Throwing one of those scrunchies up in her hair
like trying to contain the mess.

A trick of beauty that she still turns heads.
Says her cat is in love with Javier Bardem.

Woke up out of a dead sleep on the couch
to watch him most attentively.

When she sleeps, she’s out,
she says.
She doesn’t do that for anyone.

I’ve taken to calling her cat Mrs. Bardem
the last few days.

The cat seems to get embarrassed
if cat embarrassment away from the little box
is such a thing.

Throws litter all over the place.
She never did that before.

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About the Author: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

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Image Credit: “One of the “smart set” (1906) Courtesy of The Library of Congress (public domain)

Matthew Wallenstein: “Washington”

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Washington

Low 
tide. Across the bay 
the mountains are blue in moving fog. 
Animal 
corpse
in the brown grass. 
Headless and skinned.
About the size of a dog. Max says 
he thinks it is a deer that went 
In the ocean and drowned, 
washed up on shore. I nod, 
I don’t smile and I don’t mention its flippers.
Around a bend 
on the beach we find another—
skinned, headless. 
Its ribs grey, yellow, bending 
from its pile of body. It smells 
like seawater and rot. 
The flippers are splaying out 
more obviously this time, 
he sees them. 
“Oh,” he says, “it’s a seal, they are seals.”
I don’t let him forget 
that he thought it was a deer 
that went swimming.

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About the Author: Matthew Wallenstein is a writer and tattooer. He lives in the Rust Belt. Much of his work concerns growing up in poor rural New Hampshire, the deportation of his wife, and mental illness, though it also captures every day life.

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Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith, “A distant shoreline view in a Washington State town fittingly called Long Beach, since it advertises its 28-mile-long Pacific Ocean strand as “the world’s longest beach.” (2018) The Library of Congress

Marissa Perez: “Shark Smile”

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Shark Smile 

Saturday night out and
I swallow an oyster⸺
adductor muscle, pericardial cavity, party-streamer gills⸺
I have no intention of
consuming the shell, so
I leave it empty and
winking with the sheen of departed
intestine.

How absence is also presence
with serrated teeth so
pretty they can be looped
around my summer-nipped
neck
in beachfront gift shops⸺
Shed
from their host
when they puncture prey and
cannot tear the meat off
clean.

If I had been born with
a body that ended at my collarbones
and with a mouth
less sophisticated than
a bivalve’s
I would have never
been desired
only respected

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About the Author: Marissa Perez is an undergraduate student from Massachusetts. She became the 97th recipient of the Glascock Poetry Prize in 2020 and has appeared in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature.

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Image Credit: Image from: Iconografia della fauna italica Roma: Tip. Salviucci,1832-1841. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ruth Hoberman: “Planaria”

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Planaria 

Over pie, Len talks about worms. Dice them,
he says, and each regrows its missing parts!  

His eyes glow under tangled brows, entranced
by immortality. I picture eyeless

mouths groping for their eyes and mouthless eyes
their mouths. Hungry for their hunger, old

in need of new. We’re old, our gray hair wild
and worried as brambles clinging to a cliff.

The question is where to look. He looks for doors
from body into bliss or second chances—dicing

as self-renewal? recycling as lizard or crow?
Anything to start again. I fork a peach wedge

on my plate. Sweet in my mouth the slice,
the talk with friends.

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About the Author: Ruth Hoberman mainly lives in Chicago. She writes poetry and essays, which have been published in such places as RHINO, Calyx, Smartish Pace, Naugatuck River Review, and Ploughshares.

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Image Credit: Image from The Great Barrier Reef of Australia;. London :W.H. Allen,[1893]. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Lorraine Henrie Lins: “OST DOG”

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OST DOG

I admire the way they miss you,
those large neon-green posters stuck
sight-level on every light pole in town,
making sure we know your face–
that one floppy ear and roundish white
patch just under your eye.

You’ve been missing for so long,
that even I have begun to look for you,
feel that small whisper of despair on my daily drive
where I imagine the way you might sit by the door,
eye to eye with the doorknob, head cocked, ready
to bolt into the wide open yard.

I have started to miss the way you would have
slept by my feet as I worked at my desk,
the tip of your nose tucked under the smooth
curl of your whip tail, and smile to myself,
remembering how you must have done
that little dance with your feet when
it was dinnertime, the hard of your nails
ticking the kitchen floor as you moved.
You’ve been away so long that I have begun
to watch for you in the harvested corn fields
and down the sidewalks of the streets we pass,
as if you might be just around the next corner.

It’s been long enough for the faded posters
to lose their call, to wilt under snow and rain,
forgive the staples that held them to the creosote poles
and surrender the photocopy of your picture
so that all that remains is their weathered plea.

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About the Author: Lorraine Henrie Lins is a Pennsylvania county Poet Laureate and author of four books of poetry: All the Stars Blown to One Side of The Sky, I Called It Swimming, Delaying Balance and most recently, 100 Tipton.  She serves as the Director of New and Emerging Poets with Tekpoet and is a founding member of the “No River Twice” improvisational poetry troupe.  Lins’ work appears in wide variety of familiar publications and collections, as well as on a small graffiti poster in New Zealand. Born and raised in the suburbs of Central New Jersey, the self-professed Jersey Girl now resides along the coast of North Carolina.  www.LorraineHenrieLins.com

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Image Credit: Thomas Eakins “Portrait of a Dog” (1880-1895) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

John Dorsey: “A Chicken Strip in the Shape of A Seahorse”

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A Chicken Strip in the Shape of A Seahorse

sold by a high school girl
in a hairnet
who can’t swim

is proof
that god
once danced
underwater.

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About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), and Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020). His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

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More By John Dorsey:

Anthony Bourdain Crosses the River of the Dead

Punk Rock at 45

Perpetual Motion

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Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image from Arcana, or, The museum of natural history : London, Printed by George Smeeton for James Stratford,1811. Public Domain. Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ronnie Sirmans: “Cygnus”

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Cygnus

    Homo homini lupus.
    (A man is a wolf to another man.)
                – Latin proverb

We think we are wolves.
I often don’t see the lupine
although I know most of us
can live quite carnivorously.
But the ravenous I admire
comes from the Latin cygnus.
A man is a swan to another man.

Wolves can pull like vicious tides,
while swans push wakes of silence.
Canine hairs scatter like fallen leaves,
while feathers are a welcome snow.
Swans carry a grace of awareness.
Whether ivory or ebony or other hues,
their bodies can iridescently blind us.

A swan is a man is a wolf too.
A man drowned when a swan
protecting his mate overturned
the thin kayak and kept the man
from swimming safely ashore.
Old wives’ tales (and old husbands)
say male swans who are defending
a mate, a nest, or their supposed honor
can break a man’s arm—or his heart.
Swans will hiss. Swans can bite.
You say: but they have no teeth.
Let me tell you, they do, they do.

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About the Author: Ronnie Sirmans is an Atlanta print newspaper digital editor whose poems have appeared in Tar River Poetry, Deep South Magazine, Atlanta Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Fathom, and elsewhere.

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More by Ronnie Sirmans:

Sloughing Words

The Word with the Schwa that’s Really a Short U

Remembering the Great Flood in the Frozen Food Aisle

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Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image from A natural history of birds London :Printed for the author, at the College of Physicians in Warwick-Lane,MDCCXLIII-MDCCLI [1743-1751, i.e. 1750-1776?] Public Domain. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Samuel Prestridge: “Coyote”

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Coyote

The night before my 68th,  I dreamed

of walking a bookmarked scrap of land.

I saw a coyote following me.

He wasn’t threatening, just staring,

just sizing me up.  I didn’t want to

be sized up.  I walked the other direction.

He followed, ran to me, heeled.

We walked together.

I ignored him.  He stayed heeled.

We came to an abandoned stable, walked in.

I stopped in front of a stall.

The coyote climbed up the door,

arced his body across the gap, gracefully draped himself

              across my shoulders.

I stood there, not wanting to move, the coyote

snugged against me.  Maybe I worried

about fleas.  Maybe I was guarding his sleep.

               I don’t know how long I was still and quiet.  I don’t know

how time is measured there.

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About the Author: Samuel Prestridge lives and works in Athens, Georgia.  He has published or has forthcoming articles, poems, essays, and interviews in a wide range of publications, including Literary Imagination, Style, Appalachian Quarterly, Paideuma, Poem, The Southern Humanities Review, The Lullwater Review, The Arkansas Review, Autumn Skies, and Better Than Starbucks.

Regarding his approach to writing, he says, “I write poetry because there are matters that cannot be directly stated, but are essential to the survival of whatever soul we can still have.  Also, I’m no good at interpretive dance, which is the only other options that’s occurred to me.”

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Image Credit: Illustration taken from Wild animals of North America Washington, D.C.,The National geographical society[c1918] Public Domain. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Jonel Abellanosa: “Marbled Cat-Eyed Snake”

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Marbled Cat-Eyed Snake

And aren’t my skin’s patterns
from the mandala? From a magic
carpet. Spots of my scales glisten
reddish-brown, dark brown, chestnut.
My whitish underside spotted with brown.
I’m a marvel of colors, created
by the sun and the moon gods
for your lucid dreams, light-edged
shine of your vision. I’m transitory,
like mist that rides the wind’s carpet.
By the time you realize
you’ve seen me, I’m gone.
You know where to find
me in your dream’s gardens.
There, I’m not shy, don’t
scuttle easily away.

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About the Author: Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, The Philippines. His poetry and fiction are forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review, Chiron Review and Eunoia Review; and appeared in hundreds of magazines, including As It Ought to Be, The Lyric, Thin Air, Rigorous, Loch Raven Review and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York), “50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art, Florida), and his speculative poetry collection, “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press, Texas). His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net Awards.

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More by Jonel Abellanosa:

Jaguar

Anilius

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Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image from: Descriptiones et icones amphibiorum. Monachii ,Stuttgartiae et Tubingae, Sumtibus J.G. Cottae Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Creative Commons License 2.0.