“Home for the Wayward Trans Teenager” Leslie Anne Mcilroy

I would put a sign on my door,
but the vacancy is already filled.
So many young people with their “T”
and almost-hair on their faces.

I love these boys, these “they.”
They are bottomless pits —
pizzas and apple juice,
dysphoria and binders.

I only meant to have one,
but one is connected to the other
and the other, and it’s not that
the parents are bad,

just that it takes a long time
to turn “she” into “he.” And,
they change their names,
call the name you gave them,

“dead.” You donate the dresses
to goodwill, throw out the photos
of ponytails and purses. You say
“dead,” too, to your daughter.

It’s only six months and already,
you are saving up for the double
mastectomy. You only cry a little
now, but mostly fold the boys

underwear, pack away the pearl
bracelet, correct your family,
“she to he,” “she to he” and then
wonder why they can’t just be gay.

Leslie Anne Mcilroy won the 1997 Slipstream Poetry Chapbook Prize, the 2001 Word Press Poetry Prize and the 1997 Chicago Literary Awards. Her second book was published by Word Press in 2008, and third, by Main Street Rag in 2014. Leslie’s poems appear in Grist, Jubilat, The Mississippi Review, PANK, Pearl, Poetry Magazine, the New Ohio Review, The Chiron Review and more.

“What We Leave Behind” by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

She appeared again today;
the notch in her left ear
was the same. Everything
about her was the same
except that she was dead,
hit by a car in the road.
I remember this deer
from a month ago when
she shyly nibbled an apple
fallen from a struggling tree
in my yard. So graceful
an animal, natural
and unpretentious, moving
moment to moment.
I wonder if she dreaded
a universe that will go on
without us in the future,
as it seems we humans do.

We leave so many marks—
artifacts, photos, words,
currency as if to purchase
a place in history or keep
our presence alive. We are
a species attached to forever,
but even with all our art,
monuments, memories,
diaries, sometimes eulogies
so kindly and profoundly
offered by those still living,
the only thing worthwhile
we could ever leave behind
is our desire to be immortal,
a will to survive, but whatever
that drive is; in the end—deer,
human—it really doesn’t matter
as soon as the matter is gone.

—-

Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s work has appeared in Clockhouse, AJN: The American Journal of Nursing, Mount Hope Magazine, the Jungian journal Depth Insights, Terrain.org, and others journals.  She holds an interdisciplinary MA from Prescott College and has been an educator, researcher, editor, and is co-founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

“Prairie Poem” by Marc Thompson

And one day I saw my life under the open sky
and the open sky was orange and the wind
came up from behind the trees that stood
like sentinels before the mountains, and
both trees and mountains were close enough
to touch even though they were thousands
of miles away.  It was the prairie grass that
bent and swirled and bowed before the wind
without yielding and that day I knew that
when I was not the wind I would be the grass.

Marc Thompson lives and writes in Minneapolis MN where he keeps himself busy as the stay-at-home dad of a thirteen-year-old boy, writing poems, and doing volunteer work.  He has an MFA from Hamline University and his poems have appeared around the world in journals and in cyberspace.  He is the author of two chapbooks:  Ordinary Time (Laughing Gull Press) and Oklahoma Heat (Redmoon Press).

“Directions Back to Childhood” by Judith Waller Carroll

Turn left at the first sign of progress
and follow the old highway
along the Stillwater River.
When you hear the whistle of the train,
take a right and cross the covered bridge
that leads to the rodeo grounds
where the silver-maned bronc
caused so much havoc the summer you were ten
and the ghost of your grandfather’s jeep
rests behind the bleached-out grandstand
choked with blackberries.
As you round the corner into town,
there’s a white picket fence
laced with lilacs. Walk through the gate.
You’ll see a blue and white Western Flyer
lying on its side in the middle of the sidewalk.
It will take you the rest of the way.

Judith Waller Carroll is the author of What You Saw and Still Remember, a runner-up for the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Award, The Consolation of Roses, winner of the 2015 Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press Poetry Prize, and Walking in Early September (Finishing Line Press).

“Two Women in a Yurt, After the Quake” by James P. Roberts

For Dr. Jatinda Cheema

It is eerie, the silence that follows once the ground has finally settled.
Displaced rocks roll to a stop and the trees slowly subside their almost musical sway.
Startled birds nervously resume their plaintive song.  It is over now.  We are still here.

Outside the yurt standing alone on the level plain, Mongush
Has calmed the skittish horse while young Sadip looks on in aloof disdain,
Arms folded across his thin chest.  Both are wearing winter garb: Bearskin
Malgai with ear flaps, a thick nekhii parka, trousers, knee-high boots.

Beyond, in the distance, snow-covered mountains sprawl beneath a blue sky
Scattered with puffs of fleecy white clouds which merge with plumes of snow
Blown off the highest peaks.  The baby girl, Samyan, cries loudly in her wooden crib.

The yurt is undamaged.  A teardrop-shaped four-string tovshuur hanging
On a wall peg remains intact.  The inner rim of the yurt roof is decorated
With bright orange and blue designs, a parade of mandalas circumscribing good fortune.
A prayer wheel spins around and intricately patterned rugs carpet the floor.

Two women stand ground in the middle of the yurt.  The younger woman, Namesh, hides
In the background while her mother, Suunyu, gazes steadily forward, her seamed face hard
As granite. It is evident there has been a quarrel, still not ended, only delayed
By the earthquake.  It will resume once the men have departed.

This is a land of earthquakes: voices of gods.  An old land where mountains loom
To dizzying heights, then fall steeply to be swallowed in trackless deserts.  Stories
Told at night in the smoke of burning yak butter candles.  One looks up and feels
The immensity of stars, blazing like the pitiless eyes of angry deities.

The women are cautious, rife with knowledge handed down through generations
Of the fragile relationship of things.  Centuries of secrets form in their eyes and worn faces.
Beneath the traditional dresses they wear are hard bodies sculpted by wind, sun, and toil.
Strong, ridged hands create tools, cook day and night, hold crying babies.

These women even an earthquake cannot destroy, they simply endure.

James P. Roberts has had four previous collections of poetry published. Recent work can be found in Mirror Dance, Gathering Storm and Bamboo Hut.  He lives in Madison, Wisconsin where he hosts a radio poetry show, ‘A Space For Poetry’, and has a passion for women’s flat-track roller derby.

“Woodworking Lesson” by Mike Zimmerman

Again, I’m with my father in the wood shed:
My aching wrists hold a rusted bucket of nails
For him while he cuts two by fours. Soon I’ve shied
Away, against a wall, as he saws, sands, and kneels
For leverage. I’m not a very boyish boy. I’d rather
Be in my room, I think, reading a classic, some Homer
Perhaps, or sweeping up the kitchen, or helping lather
Laundry with mom. But he’s picked up the hammer.

“Hold some nails out for me,” he says, once he’s lined
The first one up and tapped it. Then, forcefully, precise,
He brings the hammer up and down until few are flush
With the wood. “Now it’s your turn.” I feel my soft flesh
against my thumb. “What if I hit my finger?” His advice
is action instead: he places the hammer in my small hand.

Mike Zimmerman is a writer of short stories and poetry, as well as a middle school Writing teacher in East Brooklyn. His previous work has been published in Cutbank, A & U Magazine, and The Painted Bride. He is the 2015 recipient of the Oscar Wilde Award from Gival Press and a finalist for the Hewitt Award in 2016. He finds inspiration and ideas from the people and places he loves. Mike lives in New York City with his husband and their cat.

“Stray Cat” by Jenny McBride

Victoria park
where I was running
the ducks at water’s edge suddenly running too
and in the empty space of their wake
a tattered cat.
I called him on his hunting
and he meowed, ran after me
hungry, lonely, being eaten alive by the city
but I ran to lose him
not because I don’t love cats
or didn’t want to rescue his painful life
but because I was far from home in a conference hotel.
Was it the same
with the men I approached
when I was young and lonely?
I always took it personally
but maybe they were just figures rendered useless
in the scheme of things
on the day my heart was warming
and years later
they paused to scratch out an excuse.

Jenny McBride’s writing has appeared in Common Ground Review, Rappahannock Review, The California Quarterly, Conclave, Tidal Echoes, Streetwise, and other publications. She makes her home in the rainforest of southeast Alaska.