“Let Me Explain” by F. J. Bergmann

Center stage in the Theater of the Observed, who am I to say
that my voice is pleasant or my manners abysmal? Or something
cataclysmal: a nexus of disaster, like knots that form spontaneously
in windblown hair, and you try to pass them off as incipient dreadlocks,
but no one believes you.

I’m reluctantly approaching the age when the light at the other end
of the carpal tunnel is a hot flash of … of loss of memory or …
or rage! that was it! when you find yourself in an existential backwater,
indistinct drifting forms slowly decaying in the sick conviction
of temperature gradients,

saturated with the metameric violet of an interminable hour
where the monitor screen radiates a sickly glare the ethereal hue
of Himalayan poppies, flecked with rows of suspect symbols
like maggots paralyzed in mid-writhe and just as capable of producing
an itching, irritated brain.

My soul is portable and an unpleasant shade of green that wants
embroidering, which I take to mean ostentatious lying. I don’t know what
to make for supper tonight—thinking of alcohol, but it’s too much trouble …
so I’ll just recycle leftover bad moods that won’t invalidate the warranty
on my liver and lights.

And when that fails to delight, I’ll come up with an enhancement device
to effortlessly trigger a slow roll into the next moment, temporary levitation
resulting in a mysterious accident: a loud splash from the room next door,
where you and your spotted dog run quickly to slip on that broken thing
melting on the floor.

F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com) and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest.

“Blue Sky Day” by Tom Evans

It sometimes amazes me
On a crisp sunny blue sky day
Like today,
That when a policeman passes me
On the sidewalk and says ‘hello,’
And makes me feel like a normal person,
That he hasn’t seen
Through me, and recognized
Me for the imposter I am.
But how could he know
When I dress myself in decent clothes,
My workplace just around the corner,
In this small town where everyone
Knows everyone,
That I don’t belong,
Terrified of being found out
At any moment?
And I am extremely grateful
He lets me go on my merry way
To make it through another workday
Though I’d rather be anywhere else than there
On a crisp sunny blue sky day
Like today.

Tom, a librarian living near NYC, has recently had poems and stories published in Litbreak and Tuck Magazine, poems accepted in the Ann Arbor Review and Wilderness House Literary Review, and a first novel due out in October from Black Rose Writing.

“A Flower Rests” by Jerry Wemple

Daisy rose later in the morning each
day until she barely rose at all. Ark
was left to get his own breakfast: peanut
butter smeared on doughy bread; a pale
apple in a paper bag to take for school
lunch. He would shuffle down the slate sidewalks
parallel to the river street doing his
best to slow time and the inevitable.
After school, the return trip home and sometimes
there deposited on the couch in front of
a blurred television his mother
like a monument to a forgotten
whatever. Sometimes she would cook supper and
sometimes not. And sometimes the old neighbor
woman would stop by and say mind if I
borrow you boy for a while and then sit
him at her kitchen table and stuff him full
on greasy hamburger and potatoes
and sometimes apple pie that was not too bad.

Jerry Wemple is the author of three poetry collections: You Can See It from Here (winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award), The Civil War in Baltimore, and The Artemas Poems. His poems and essays have been published in numerous journal and anthologies. He teaches in the creative writing program at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.



“Grading” by Maryfrances Wagner

We’ve watched
the moon sag
into tomorrow,
ready to set down
our pens.
They argued
their case,
we ours—
more detail,
another example,
better verbs.
We’ve stroked
our chins, pulled
our earlobes,
shifted our feet.
Ink glides its
ball bearings,
eager to praise
a phrase,
to find
a moment
of thought.

Maryfrances Wagner’s newest book is The Silence of Red Glass.  She is co-editor of the I-70 Review.

“no consensus reached” by Sanjida Yasmin

four Fridays later, six
bloodshot eyes confront
eight boxes of hand-me-downs
& that one house sparrow with
the black goatee & white patch—
startled by the shattered glass

yesterday was about moving
ten years from floor two
to floor four—
a good work-out

today, the dusky dawn is
filled with a goose egg;
the fat house sparrow
chirps a question

followed by another starless night
& when the goose egg finally sets,
the sparrow & the owners lose
pulse of the feathery momentums.

Sanjida Yasmin is a poet, writer and an artist who lives in the Bronx, New York. She splits her time between the Long Island Business Institute, where she teaches English, and St. Dominic’s Home, where she provides therapy and finds inspiration for her work. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals, among them are Pink Panther Magazine, Peacock Journal, The Promethean, Nebo, Panoplyzine, Poetry in Performance and Anomaly. She earned her MFA degree from the City University of New York.

“On the Eve of Roberto Clemente’s Third Miracle” by Michael Brockley

He knows he could still drive Warren Spahn’s curveball into the right centerfield power alley. But he has moved beyond batting crowns and Hall of Fame inductions. Beyond the pleas of hospitalized boys who have read too many comic-book biographies. His intercessions restored a cloud forest in Costa Rica. Brought water to those who thirsted in Haiti. Still the earth is heavy with its old grief. Clemente knows there are brown men and women adrift in a sea where slave ships once disappeared. Knows the desperation of lives lived on the cusp of earthquakes. His miracles are burdened by the evil that creeps through chastened villages in limousines. His supplicants no longer pray in the language of the blessed. Their fears pulverized beneath churches crushed into shell-game stones and homes replaced by ghosts. The Great One has always known the ground rules. Purposeful in the face of another sacrifice, Clemente rubs pine tar into the handle of his Adirondack bat. He knows the plane is overloaded with mercy, and climbs aboard again. 
Michael Brockley is a 68-year old semi-retired school psychologist who still works in rural northeast Indiana. His poems have appeared in Atticus Review, Gargoyle, Tattoo Highway and Tipton Poetry Journal. Poems are forthcoming in 3Elements Review, Clementine Unbound, Riddled with Arrows and Flying Island.

“Dwell” by Gabrielle Brant Freeman

Shoulders shake beneath my pressing palms, you angel
of tangled blades and skin, you angel of need, of voice
that leaps from skies slippery in stars like thunder.
Outside, Spanish moss fringes in wind on its way to water,
clutches at crooked trunks, at crooked branches stripped
of leaves. Beneath me, you are made flesh, fallen in psalm.

Hands slide down my smooth sides, fingers press praise
into skin. Outside, the river rolls on as though you, seraph,
are not burning here, as though your touch does not strip
me bare, as though I am not scorched by your voice
as you lift it and speak my name out over the water,
as you cry out over the current, as you call the thunder.

Crash and Roar and Boom and Clap! Thunder
rumbles up through us like the rising scree of cicada song
after they unearth wet wings, cling hard to bark, bathe
themselves in warmth. Belly to belly, we tremble. You angel
of arms and heart, you light-bringer. You voice
the words that dismantle me, sacred words that peel, that strip.

Love. Stripped
down thunderbolt
Outside, green tree frogs squonk their night song,
join the southern chorus frogs’ trill. Divine messengers
heralding rain.

There is the water of the river and the water of the rain,
and, in the deep of night, there is only the brief strip
before one becomes the other like heaven
pushes into sky, the liminal space of sturm
und drang. Urge and drive, we dissolve in symphony.
You angel of pulse and breath, we are voiced

together. Outside, the world turns soft into dawn, its voices
change to birds and nattering squirrels. The river
rambles, burbles around snags at its banks, sings its song
eternal. We listen. Light filters through trees in strips
that stripe our skin. The cat purrs like distant thunder,
stretches in a spot of sun. This morning is splendor, you angel.

May our voices flood this house forever. Storm and surge and strip
and skin forever. Tide and lightning, blessed thunder
bellow. May you kiss me into hymn forever. Make me an angel.

Gabrielle Brant Freeman’s poetry has been published in many journals, including Barrelhouse, One, Scoundrel Time, and storySouth. She was nominated for a Pushcart in 2017, and she won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Competition. Press 53 published her book, When She Was Bad, in 2016. Read more: http://gabriellebrantfreeman.squarespace.com/.