Poetry

Three Poems

by Carl Boon

LOST IN KHARKOV

I needed a post office.
I needed a beer.
Heroes of Labor Street
was long, my landmarks
confused with the map
I left on the Kirova bus.

Because this girl
on Stalingrad Prospect
owned legs
that reached to Lenin’s
palm, and moved
like a sparrow, furtively.

I followed her as far
as the Railway Museum,
then got lost because
I was a boy, with no reason
for being in Kharkov
or anywhere, but I knew

there was a post office—
somewhere. I had a letter
for my father in Ohio,
blue ink that said

I’ve fallen in love.
Who won the Final Four?
I’m going to die.

I’m basically happy
to be old now, there being no
Stalingrad Prospect,
no girls with long legs
to distract me
near Lenin’s statue.

There are others
to write such letters,
and my father is dead,
listening to Miles Davis
play the trumpet
somewhere, listening

to long-ago music
in a place like Ohio.

SHARI’S BABY

Shari’s baby tries to sing,
but the rain’s outlandish

and swallows her song
before it’s a song. It’s this way

in storm in Ohio,
July afternoons, and the gutters

know, and the trucks make
one puddle three.

There was a note, a budding
melody she heard

in the kitchen, like violas,
like why is the sky

a painted thing,
and why are we drifting?

Shari lifts her baby, brings her
to her breast, and listens.

Something’s calling
through the rain

that is not the rain,
that is a question.

A MAN’S LEFT

A girl ponders the acacia
brushing the window.
Her wrists are scarred.
Her bedroom’s awry
with panties and medicine
in thin brown bottles. She hears
her mother’s voice
saying it’s a holiday. And how
shall I season the lamb?
She finds herself in a novel
on the Aegean Sea
until the call to prayer
astounds her into being again,
being without his deep,
beckoning laughter,
his resonance. They traveled
in the mountains once;
they drank mineral water
and memorized the shoulders
of the bread-seller.
There were hawks
and it got dark early.
The world they shared,
graceful and mysterious,
won’t be shared again. Her gray,
contemplative eyes go
to the corner of her room,
where a pair of carved gulls
look back at her, propped
on a volume of poems
by Orhan Veli.

Carl Boon lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Posit, The Tulane Review, Badlands, JuxtaProse, The Blue Bonnet Review, and many other magazines.

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Two Poems

by Maeve R.

Here I Am Now

Lately I’ve been thinking,
About the spaces in between,
That moment splitting here and now,
That instant we don’t see,
That place where time seems to stop still,
I, for one, think there has to be meaning.

Meaning,
That behind these things that I’ve been thinking,
These feelings of being still,
It would seem that even my thoughts are in between,
Two ideas I cannot see,
That moment splitting here from now.

Now,
To find that meaning,
That thing you and I can’t seem to see,
We need to do some thinking
In that space that falls between
Where time seems to stop still.

Still,
It’s a hard place to find right now,
Especially when it’s in between,
The real explanation of its true meaning,
And just some thoughts that I’ve been thinking.
It always seems easier than it really is to see.

See,
If life would just stand still,
And we all would just stop thinking
About where to go right now,
It’s likely we’d find our own meaning,
Amongst everything in between.

The Timeless Boy

The deafening sound of being unruly
Allows the quiet to sleep so cruelly.
Beneath the wander, the wonder,
And the want,
Furtive under the surface
It lies in peaceful taunt.

He’s restless, relentless to every which end,
Filled up on it all,
Never ready to say when.
Clever kid, knows just how to go limp,
Floating along, the tide under his chin,
Feigning patience behind a foolhardy grin.

Yes, so on it goes,
Wind-whipped he rides,
Thirsty and drunk at exactly the wrong time.
Laid back in the endless last drop,
Born bored to a world caught in shock,
The timeless boy
Trying to outwit his clock.

Maeve is a writer and artist living on New York City’s Lower East Side.

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A Series of Poems

by Maureen McElroy

Oxy-Moron

I love you bitterly,
tooth and nail.

The taste of you
is aspirin on my tongue.

Narco-leptic lover,
walk away again

and I may have to beg,
regurgitate “I love you.”

Your embrace
is shock treatment.

I forget razor-blade Monday,
waiting for your train,

the pain of empty doorways,
burnt-out candles.

Can we rehabilitate this mess?
Your smile, so sickly sweet,

it knocks me out
like chloroform.

When You Were Gone

a pigeon died on the windowsill.
I plucked its pure white feathers
and pushed it down.
Someone called “Juanita” from the street.
Black beans burned
the smoke alarm.

When you were gone
I bumped into furniture,
vacuumed red ants
crawling from the radiator,
and dreamt of a baby packaged in styrofoam.

In the laundryroom,
a Brazilian man
stared at my legs in liquid tights.

I offered him a straw.

It All Ended in the Kitchen

you pulling skin off a chicken –
I knew you wouldn’t be fertilizing
my eggs.

It’s a shame, baby,
cause you shook my world,
rocked me like a mix master

with your doughboy cuteness
that went all soft
when I poked your middle.

What a crock!
This Arm & Hammer love
doesn’t do a goddamn thing

when the fridge stinks
and I’m banging on the icemaker
you gave me for Christmas,

red beet juice on my blouse,
and I say “Hey, help me,
I’ve hurt myself.”

But you don’t respond.
Just microwave
your potatoes,

wind up a chattering-teeth toy
that hops across the table
and falls to the floor.

We both bend.
You start to hug me,
but my stomach reels

cause it’s over
and I thought you were my savior,
but you can’t even walk on jello.

Maureen McElroy was born and raised in Boston as one of seven children. She attended Boston University and has an MFA from Emerson College. She taught English and Latin for five years before entering a career in Real Estate. She owns Jamaica Hill Realty in Jamaica Plain, MA. Her work has been published in Seventeen Magazine, The Beacon Street Review, and Mothers Always Write.

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“No Love Lost”

by Ryan McGinty

Take my reflection
and wear it as a mask
mirrored in the dark.

Through the wall
her muffled screams
crescendo and break.

A door slams shut,
the screaming stops.
Gentle sobs fade to
nothingness.

The faucet runs
uninterrupted
for days.

Water can’t find a toehold,
slides right down the drain.

Ryan McGinty graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2010, where he majored in English with a writing emphasis. His work has been published in Eclectic Flash, the Battered Suitcase, and Firethorne. He won the Lawrence Owen Prize for Poetry in 2010. Ryan is also founder and CEO of Oil Can Marketing LLC – a Minneapolis based internet marketing firm that helps small businesses increase their visibility online. When he’s not working or writing you can usually find him home brewing a batch of beer. He lives in South Minneapolis with his bride Lauren.

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“A gunman opens fire”

by John Sweet

when all you want to do is sing,
or maybe be
be told you’re beautiful

a baby falls from the sunfilled sky,
a rain of weeping hawks, of
angels with broken wings,

and do you remember the
sound of me holding your hand?

were we actually ever in love w/
anything more
than the idea of escape?

i need to believe
that we were.

John Sweet won the 2014 Lummox Poetry Prize, the resultant collection, The Century of Dreaming Monsters, is now available. 

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“Crossing the line”

by Mark Vogel

The habit of their lives is never to recognize
that they have irredeemably crossed the line.
~Philip Roth, Exit Ghost

When the intuitive gropes, seeking to act,
there can be beauty in creating change,
in turning from habit, though by definition
time is insufficient to judge as the spontaneous
and innocent push forward. Elsewhere
a plotting determined cabal collects this morning
under florescent lighting, ready to force
confrontation. Those living for sustained
destruction are parodies of professors
so professional as they walk a poisoned
trail cultivating their degree-ed outrage.
Arranging damning labels that cheapen,
documenting sources arguing for pain,
they breathe as one glued group,
with hair in place and words arranged.
They know to whisper propaganda—
respect, justice, community—
and catalogue in notebooks the spreading
sin of others, and visit suited authorities
to test rhetoric, to weaken their enemy
and drive her away. Then, when noticed,
they swarm and sting because they suffer
so much, o tears, living so long as grey ghosts
powerless to strike. They pick at wounds
in spare arranged moments, then explode art
and refuse to see the rubble. When their victim
appears to confront, they stand together
erasing plotting smiles, and speak innocently
of love for pedigreed dogs. They can’t
help but hold hate tight like a hardened turd
until a persistent chill curdles their blackened
blood. When exposed blemishes fester,
they build the inevitable stroke, waiting
impatiently to see what they have built,
to get all they are due—blind to seeded
karma already growing roots down
in the trampled ground.

Mark Vogel has published short stories in Cities and Roads, Knight Literary Journal, Whimperbang, SN Review, and Our Stories. Poetry has appeared in Poetry Midwest, English Journal, Cape Rock, Dark Sky, Cold Mountain Review, Broken Bridge Review and other journals. He is currently Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and directs the Appalachian Writing Project.

Two Poems: “A Final Round” & “Slouching on a Siamese Pipe”

by Colin Dodds

A Final Round

I was led like Socrates to the slaughter.
And they cut my head off quick, without hacking.
They batted it idly against the courtyard wall awhile.

I think my parents set me up.
After the crowd left, they placed my head back onto my neck,
then walked off, burbling with smalltalk.

I stood up, gingerly. I wasn’t dead yet,
but couldn’t reason why. A little dizzy, a little bleary,
I went for a drink, to wait for death to catch on.

My executioners came in, talking cautiously.
And I stayed at the bar, rattled but amused.
Healing was out of the question.

Beyond eavesdropping at last,
I ordered another drink and reveled
in my peculiar, almost-dead blues.

Slouching on a Siamese Pipe

I’ve been waiting this way
As long as I could arrange—
Somewhere between a millionaire
And a man who needs to change.

Every bar is an island,
But not one where I can stay.
I make my home, I take my stand
Then daylight throws me away.

I throw myself away, claim it wasn’t my idea.
My self-breaking heart waits until the lights are out
Before uttering its one true plea.

The barstools, the women and the war
Come along for the ride.
Like the contents of a drawer
Yanked open too hard,
We slosh like a frustrated tide.

All the bars are the same.
Their residents meant me harm before I came.

The friendliest ones take the most,
Wielding new vices,
Sealing my fate with a toast.

At the end, slouching on a Siamese pipe,
The air dirty with desperate laughter
I look at my hands and wonder
If the moment was ever ripe,
If it was life that I was really after.

Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred forty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

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