Postcards from the Knife-Thrower’s Wife by Alex Stolis

August 2 – Woodstock, N.B. Canada

I’m a girl on a dragon-fly on the back of a horse heading
straight into the wind under an unbreakable sky. You are
not here. You are made-up words in an invented language
spoken in whispers. I remember every detail of the world
we created from scratch. I remember that day the moon
eclipsed the sun and for a moment the earth turned cold.
The sky turned deep green no stars in sight. You wrote me
of a dream you had; lost, afraid and miles away from home.
You heard the low beat of wings. You felt the steady pound
of hooves and I readied myself for flight.

Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis; he has had poems published in numerous journals. Recent chapbooks include Justice for all, published by Conversation Paperpress (UK) based on the last words of Texas Death Row inmates. Also, Without Dorothy, There is No Going Home from ELJ Publications. Other releases include an e-chapbook, From an iPod found in Canal Park; Duluth, MN, from Right Hand Pointing and Left of the Dial from corrupt press. The full length collection, Postcards from the Knife Thrower was runner up for the Moon City Poetry Prize in 2017. His chapbook, Perspectives on a Crime Scene was recently released by Grey Border books and a full length collection Pop. 1280, is forthcoming from Grey Border books in 2019. 

http://greybordersbooks.jigsy.com/alex-stolhttp://greybordersbooks.jigsy.com/alex-stolisis

City of Bread by Marc Janssen

It was a gray day,

Unrelenting gravel clouds shouldered past Mt. Shasta and filled the sky with its dirty dishwater color when the whistle sounded.

And the mill closed to the shout of the first gobbed flakes slinking down.

Now the rusting bulk of former buildings provide the resting place of discarded beams inside wind battered walls and crumbling roofs only briefly made invisible by the smothering blanket.

On the streets everyone is gone like the jobs before them, and snow has come to salve your wounds.

Marc Janssen is an internationally published poet and poetic activist. His work has appeared haphazardly in printed journals and anthologies such as Off the Coast, Cirque Journal, Penumbra, The Ottawa Arts Review and Manifest West. He also coordinates poetry events in the Willamette Valley of Oregon including the Salem Poetry Project, a weekly reading, and the Salem Poetry Festival.

Clemens Kalischer by Mark Jackley

In his pictures of people arriving from Europe after the war,
his subjects are bone tired.
Some are slumped like luggage,

a few of them fast asleep. They are watchful in their dreams.
Most look to be as ancient
as an elephant’s eyes.

They too escaped the hunter’s gun and will never forget.
They are dressed for the occasion
in suits and ties, dresses.

Two girls on the dock are
whispering and laughing, beaming like the secrets
of a morning star.

Mark Jackley’s poems have appeared in Sugar House Review, Fifth Wednesday, Talking River, and other journals. His latest book is On the Edge of a Very Small Town. He lives in Purcellville, VA.

“To the Mother of the Suicide Bomber” by Tricia Knoll

To the Mother of the Suicide Bomber –

Our eyes may never meet. I don’t know whether you cover your head, veil your face – what catches the free fall of your hair. Perhaps you think now of the toddler who squirmed his toes in sand. The child that pulled your fingers and asked for more, for more and yet again more. Sometimes with eyes, sometimes lips and fingertips, you gave him more.

This way we mother. His itchy spot on his shoulder blade you scratched telling a story of how he lost his wings. Now you face less. The less of pieces you bury, along with lullabies you wove as you soothed his cowlicks.

Does a wind in your ear suggest you should have done something? Or haunt you? The video clips over and over and over again? All how bombs twist into smoke? You still see him whole, don’t you?

We are the world’s mothers. Had it been in your power, would his life have exploded into sirens, ambulances, funeral after funeral? Do you hide? From our neighbors? Yourself?

We expect our children will bury us. I would touch your hand. Or sit outside the locks on your door if touch is too much. You would not need to look me in the eye.

Your door slammed shut to those who come to question you about the fragments you buried.  The door you never open without looking to see who is there.

I feel you inside and respect the door you’ve closed.

Bio:  Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet whose work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, earning 7 Pushcart prize nominations. Her most recent collection, How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House) focuses on how education, childhood and ancestry contributed to the her sense of white privilege in a multicultural world. Website: triciaknoll.com

“A Body Found” by Will Reger

The last snow mantle
drapes your shoulders,
covers your dark readiness.

Secretly,
as I drive past along
my corridor of labor,
I love you.

Secretly,
white-laced,
wet and open.

You are the field
I will lie down in, to wait.
Crops will grow up around me.
They will scrape you bare again,
leave you bleeding, confused,
your ditches still unmown,

and there I will be.

Will Reger is a founding member of the CU (Champaign-Urbana) Poetry Group (cupoetry.com), has a Ph.D. from UIUC, teaches at Illinois State University in Normal, and has published most recently with Front Porch Review, Chiron Review, and the Paterson Literary Review. His first chapbook is Cruel with Eagles. He is found at https://twitter.com/wmreger — or wandering in the woods playing his flute.

“Overheard at the Women’s Shelter” by Susan Weaver

Beyond thin office wall
two voices stop me
as I unfold the futon. I almost see them:
in jeans and backwards baseball cap,
honey-hued Rita, her shy, gap-toothed smile;
and Lynn, slender, chiseled face, at 17 a mother,
herself unmothered foster kid.
A week ago – on New Year’s Eve –
Rita turned 21.
No talk of resolutions, but a cake,
a pink and white confection Lynn had bought,
one side damaged on its ride
to shelter in the stroller.
I smoothed the icing best I could
and found three candles.
“Two plus one make 21,” we giggled.
By chance tonight I eavesdrop.
Remembering why they’re here,
I crave to know what new beginnings bring.
In the next room Rita’s gentle voice recalls,
“He says, ‘Think about the good times, not the bad.’”
I hold my breath.
Over Lynn’s wistful sigh, Rita’s tone has steel in it.
“I say, ‘I got to think about the bad.’”
I turn out the light, wait sleep, and pray.
Susan Weaver assisted shelter residents for twelve years on staff at an agency for victims of domestic abuse. She writes free verse, tanka, and tanka prose, and is tanka prose editor for Ribbons, journal of the Tanka Society of America. She lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Strange But True by Bruce McRae

If you put your ear to a stone
you can hear the earth being born.
If you eat a tree
your breath smells like houses.
(weep, willow, weep)
When winking at a clock
you travel in time;
but you have to really want it,
like sitting on an egg.

Please, bear with me . . .
An astronomer is someone
snooping through the stars’ curtains.
Snow is like an unread newspaper.
(blow, wind, blow)
Sunshine is an eyeful of planets.
Dancing bears destroyed life’s tapestry.
No two people drink water alike.
And I’ve an umbrella made of fishes.

Yes, this very spot, under that nickel,
is where we’ll establish
an irrefutable calm.
This is where the ouroborous
of malcontents
becomes a green, keen
thinking machine.
Here’s where we turn
flowers into men,
gasps into groans,
pillows into pillboxes.

There’s a spike in a punchbowl.
A hurricane with a black eye.
An old tomcat hissing at a bitch.
(I couldn’t write this fast enough)
You need to turn three times
and rub spit in your hair.
When a galaxy implodes
an angel dies in its sleep.
When a telephone rings
certain creatures in the Caspian Sea
weep unsalted butter.
The town of Dum Dum is in India.
And I have my very own
personal thunderhead.

It’s true, if you drink lightning
you’ll piss sparks.
A hog is our governor!
A letter arrived,
addressed simply to ‘You’.
The infamous thinking-cap
is listed as for sale:
still in its original packaging.

And leastwise, but not lately:
A witch weighs less than a bible.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).