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

Sterling Warner: “Ebb & Flow”

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Ebb & Flow

I.
Amber beer bottles
back floating on turbid tides
some corked carrying messages
most reduced to glass shards,
razor sharp edges rounded
by the selfsame sand thrust
over rocks, against cliff faces,
around feet wading shoals.

II.
Bull whip kelp wash ashore
after tempests, sunburned beach combers
pop bulb-like heads before gathering
long tentacles, cracking them
like riding crops or cat-o’-nine tails,
flagellating sandcastles & sunbathers
knowing pliable algae’d harmlessly flog
friends & objects of their joyful aggression.

III.
Children tip-toe through flotsam jetsam
scrawl their names in the wet shoreline
place star fish in piles surrounding them
with sea urchins & periwinkle shells
as waves roll in, their creations melt
into a watery fray & they scream
as salty ice hands clutch youthful ankles,
& horseshoe crabs pierce naked feet.

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About the Author: A Washington- based author, poet, educator, word-lover, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in dozens of literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as  Ekphrastic ReviewA Washington-based author, educator, and Pushcart nominee for poetry, Warner’s works have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as  Street Lit., The Ekphrastic ReviewAnti-Heroin Chic, The Fib Review, The Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, 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, and Flytraps (2022)—as well as. Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories. Currently, he writes, hosts virtual poetry readings, and enjoys retirement. 

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Image Credit:  Chase Dimock “Seagulls at Sunset” (2020)