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.

Chase Dimock: “Imitation Unicorns”

 

 

 

Imitation Unicorns
– For Nellie

When I first held you
I watched Unicorns prance
in soft fleecy pink across
your onesie as your dreaming
breathing belly rose in and out
lifting them off into the infinite
pastel possibilities of infancy.

I wondered when you’ll start
sorting your fairy tale menagerie
into fact and fiction, when Z
will still be for Zebra, but U
will have to settle for Urchin
or the Unspotted Saw-whet Owl
the Unlined Giant Chafer Beetle
the Unstreaked Tit-Tyrant
or any number of animals
defined by what they lack.

Will you still marvel at
the Unadorned Rock Wallaby
despite his lack of adornment?

Will you still respect
the Unarmored Threespine Stickleback
despite her vulnerability?

Will you accept substitutes?

The fencing Narwhal
swashbuckling the Baltic
more weaponized than majestic

The Hornbill who flies like pegasus
but shrieks, fighting for figs in the trees

When Marco Polo first laid eyes
on a Rhinoceros in the land of Basma
he wrote, Unicorns are
           altogether different from what we fancied.

He bemoaned, Unicorns are
……..not in the least like that which our stories tell of.
           They delight much to abide in mire and mud.
           Tis a passing ugly beast to look upon.
I hope you never use myth as your measure.

When you gaze at the Unicorn trotting through
the frosted cupcake mountains on your Lisa Frank
Trapper Keeper, know that fantasy is a projection
of our inner colors, on a world both grey, and yet
so brilliant, we can’t see all the light in the spectrum.

And most of all, humor your uncle
when he pulls a mule to your birthday party,
straps a rainbow painted corn cob to its head.
When you ride old Wilbur into a sunset that stops
at the fence in your backyard, know he did the best
Unicorn impersonation his old bones could carry.

 

Imitation Unicorns appears in Sentinel Species, now available from Stubborn Mule Press on most online bookstores.

 

 

About the Author: Chase Dimock lives among mountain lions and coyotes in an undisclosed location between Laurel Canyon and the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. He serves as the Managing Editor of As It Ought To Be Magazine and makes his living teaching literature and writing at College of the Canyons. His poetry has been published in Waccamaw, Hot Metal Bridge, Faultline, Roanoke Review, New Mexico Review, and Flyway among others. He holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and his scholarship in World Literature and LGBT Studies has appeared in College Literature, Western American Literature, Modern American Poetry, The Lambda Literary Review, and several edited anthologies. For more, visit chasedimock.com

 

Image Credit: from “Historiae naturalis de quadrupedibus libri” (1657) Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library