Troy Schoultz: “Abbotsford Cemetery”

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About the Author: Troy Schoultz is a lifelong Wisconsin resident. His poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Fish Drum, Santa Monica Review, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic, Palooka and many others in the U.S. and U.K. since 1997. He is the author of two chapbooks and three full-length collections.  His interests and influences include rock and roll, vinyl LPs, found objects, the paranormal, abandoned places, folklore, old cemeteries, and the number five. He hosts and produces S’kosh: The Oshkosh Podcast. For more information check out https://troyschoultz.wixsite.com/website

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Crow on a Fence” (2021)

Melody Wang: “She is the legend, I am the storyteller”

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She is the legend, I am the storyteller

Yet at this moment she is
but a faint flutter in my belly —

soft/sturdy plastic pouch housing
this feisty fish all glimmer & gold

hurling her tiny body against the confines
of a motherland — its sharp, swelling waves

a symphony of loss. She cannot be swept
away by the same tsunami that pinned me

in cold embrace, whispering of the slow
delicious dark depths eager to claim me

as their own. She will be born with no trace
of apology, defying odds, yet never at odds

with the wind-wild essence of the women
who came before, flowers strewn through

raven and chestnut hair, feet sturdy upon
sun-warmed earth — women with no fear

who inherited herbal wisdom, a warm healing
touch that drew in people from miles away

who longed for a remedy or the gentle smile
of someone who had traversed vast worlds

beyond them. In this familiar foretelling,
I arrive at the doorstep of my ancestors,

renewal of her-story cloaked in the crinkly
eyes of a mother reclaiming land. I’m a child

holding out my basket with trembling hands,
eager to collect all that was meant for me.

I feel her tiny, insistent kicks catapulting me
into the present moment and cannot hold back

my smile: tremulous as a shy burst of sunlight
finally fortified and flourishing after the storm

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About the Author: Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband and wishes it were autumn all year ‘round. Her debut collection of poetry “Night-blooming Cereus” was released in December 2021 with Alien Buddha Press. She can be found on Twitter @MelodyOfMusings or at her website https://linktr.ee/MelodyOfMusings

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Fern Fronds” (2022)

Lynn White: “Eggshells”

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Eggshells

Make a hole in the eggshell
so the witches won’t steal them.
They’ll sail them away like a boat
and take you with them.

That’s what her granny said
when she was growing up.
So that’s what she did
as an obedient child.

But now she leaves the shells whole,
unpunctured
splendidly ovoid
as she always thought they should be.
She was not afraid of witches.
She was not afraid

and she would never walk on eggshells.

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About the Author: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal and So It Goes. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

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Image Credit: Einhundert Tafeln colorirter Abbildungen von Vogeleiern : Dresden :[Brockhaus],[1856] Image courtesy of The Biodiversity Library (Public Domain)

George Freek: “The Ear and the Eye”

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The Ear and the Eye (After Chu Hsi)

The sun appears
trapped like a fly
in a web of branches,
but it’s an illusion.
The sun will escape
from such confusion.
They say before he died,
Li Po tried to express
the sound of a sunset in words
or so I’ve heard.
I watch willow leaves 
fall into a black river.
I hear the river carry
them somewhere.
I only imagine where. 
I’ll never go there.
I watch clouds assemble
like an invading army. 
I hear far off thunder. 
It seems I know nothing.
I can only wonder.

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About the Author: George Freek’s poetry has appeared in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Sunset West” (2021)

Rose Mary Boehm: “Cumbrian Summer”

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Cumbrian Summer

The mudroom. Wildflowers on the kitchen table. 
Big eiderdowns in which I could disappear.
Mother and I played hide-and-seek
during that last summer,
before her hair fell out.

We ran through oak woodland
and pretended to fish in the tarns.

Father couldn’t come, she said.
Sometimes she’d sit by the window
looking out at nothing. 

Those were the afternoons
when I professed to read,
with deep interest, my book
on English wildflowers.
With illustrations.

In London, on a drip
of lifesaving poison,
she smiled at the memory.
And the silence
was too loud.

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About the Author: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection, DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS, has just been snapped up by Kelsay Books for publication May/June 2022. Her website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

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Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Wild Daisies” (2022)

Caleb Bouchard: “Slippage”

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Slippage

A love letter tacked on a refrigerator slips from the grip of the magnet and lands inside the fridge, among the leftovers, uncooked meat, and vegetables. It grows cold over time, soaks in all the pungent smells of the tupperware food kept for too long. Grimy spinach. Sour soup. Chili caked in a layer of discolored fat. The letter’s edges curdle and the penned words blanch in solidarity with the forsaken dishes, until the words have completely faded and the page is empty, and somewhat crepey.

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About the Author: Caleb Bouchard’s writing has recently appeared in or is forthcoming from The Atlanta Review, MORIA, Saw Palm, and Thimble Literary Magazine. His translations of the French poet Jacques Prevel will soon appear in Black Sun Lit and Poet Lore.

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Image Credit: Russel Lee “Houses at Mineral King cooperative farm. Tulare County, California. They are equipped with electric refrigerators” (1940) The Library of Congress

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)

William Taylor Jr.: “Little Windows and the People Behind”

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Little Windows and the People Behind

They finally fixed my busted heart with a brand new 
robot valve and after a week in the ICU I’m well enough 
to be moved into a regular room.

The other bed is empty
so I have the place to myself .

From the hallways and other rooms I hear 
the sounds of people vomiting and moaning, 
bargaining with gods they don’t believe in, 

asking the nurses when they can go home 
or how long they have to wait before 
they can take their meds again.

I have a little chair and table by a window 
overlooking Geary Street and if the people
below look up they can see me here

gazing at crows resting on the tops of streetlamps
reading an old Sherwood Anderson novel that nobody remembers
breathing in and out and marveling at the fact of it.

The nurses bring me drugs and jello of myriad colors.

Countless days I’ve passed this building
on my way to the store or somewhere and I’ve always 
glanced up at the little windows and imagine 
the people behind, feeling both afraid of and for them.

And now here I am, one of the window people
sitting with my laptop writing the first 
draft of my first hospital poem.

I wave down to the sidewalk folk,
give them a thumbs up to let them know
that things are alright, and it’s not so bad 
except for the food.

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About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.

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More by William Taylor Jr.

“The Fire of Now”

“One of Pessoa’s Ghosts”

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Image Credit:  Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc. “Triboro Hospital for Tuberculosis, Parsons Blvd., Jamaica, New York. Typical six-bed ward, to balcony” (1940) Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

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

John Brantingham: “Joan Miro’s Portrait of Vincent Nubiola”

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Joan Miro’s Portrait of Vincent Nubiola

Before he started painting, Miro had 
a nervous breakdown, which seems rational
given that this was Spain, and a quiet hell
had cracked open in Europe, his world gone mad,
and what could he do but watch and resist
as Franco and Adolph got together 
to dream up cynical new ways to sneer
at what could be if we would just coexist.
And then Miro started to paint, which seems
more than rational. More than sane. Portrait 
of Vincent Nubiola was an early piece.
Miro catches him in a pipe-smoking daydream,
his elbow resting on a table with fruit,
a tulip, and wine. He’s at the kind of ease

that Miro must have dreamed of. Fields stretch
out beyond him, fields where he will no doubt
return for the day’s work, worrying about
things that matter while Miro will sketch
and paint and find a place where he can stand
against what is coming. He will turn 
toward the surreal, even as Europe’s dictators
call it degenerate, and it is banned.
I imagine the two of them, Miro 
still young, but wise enough to be alarmed
at what is building. Nubiola is
a professor of agriculture who knows
Miro’s genius, a man with training and wisdom.
They sit and talk of the coming hostilities.

“It feels like the end of everything that’s right,”
my imagined Joan says. Vincent replies,
“Every generation feels this. It’s an endless fight.”
And Joan can foresee an endless night
of terror. He thinks of all who will die
and to him it is the end of everything that’s right.
And Vincent remembers stories of knights
in his childhood and King Alfonso’s lies,
and he knows this is an endless fight.
Old men get a sexual thrill at the sight
of young men dying. They get off on cries
of anguish, and maybe it’s the end of right,
but he tells Joan they’ll keep moving despite
the horror of old men’s pornography.
This, Vincent tells Joan, must remain an endless fight
because these old men live for this kind of blight,
but this world was made for Miro’s kind of beauty.
We must keep going to keep everything right.
That is the beauty of our endless fight.

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About the Author: John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines, Writers Almanac and The Best Small Fictions 2016. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction including his latest, Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press). He teaches at Mt. San Antonio College.

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Image Credit: Joan Miro “Portrait of Vincent Nubiola” (1917) Public Domain