softly by Carol Alena Aronoff

sift the soil as if it held the delicate shell
of your mother

archaeology of dreams unfulfilled or pending
astronaut adventurer marathon dancer

dig up her wishes layered as onion, replant
where memories of loss, disappointment

threaten to overrun days in moon’s shadow
there is no way to know the flowers that bloomed

for a morning their scent may have lingered
too faint for recognition

with life ephemeral as blaze of autumn leafing
fragile as moth wing in summer light

take no notice of strident voices or mud wasps
you know what this jewel is worth

what facets still face away from sun
it takes only a hand to turn them

Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist/teacher/writer whose poetry has been published in numerous literary journals/anthologies. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has five books of poetry: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings from an Unseen World, Dreaming Earth’s Body. She lives in rural Hawaii.

 

We Go, Departing to Dusk by Emily Strauss

Odd that earlier we existed,
felt our own substance before
disappearing to despair,
sometimes gone by nightfall.
We may linger awhile but
the lamp will be snuffed out—

and unless we steel ourselves
to loss, our own and more,
moons will dispel around us
like a vase of flowers with wilted
stems sinking into cloudy water—
then we will lose our grasp.

Surely, this early today, there
remain the skins of opaque ghosts
not yet torn from our ribs
though we may remember the feel
of yesterday’s body extinguished
in our blood, lingering at daylight.

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college Over 300 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. The natural world is generally her framework; she also considers the stories of people and places around her. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

 

sleep(less) night by Nicolette Daskalakis

I woke from a dream I didn’t have
from a sleep I didn’t fall
into,
and I asked you:
What did you dream of?

Nothing.

I dreamt of nothing too.

So as we laid in the silence
of an unconscious night,
I pictured someone
hovering
over us in the dark,
mouth open,
eating dreams
we never had.

Nicolette Daskalakis is an award-winning filmmaker, poet, and multi-media artist residing in Los Angeles. She received a BA in film production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and a minor in Intermedia Arts from the Roski School of Art & Design. Her first book, “because you’re now banging a French girl,” was published in 2015.

Prophylactics by J.T. Whitehead

The interesting thing about him was that he never used to shared too much of himself.  He made it clear to others who went fishing in him that they could catch nothing but his very chilly cold.  He despised it when they shared too much information.  Then he paid back.  Once, a woman at an office party said she used to take her husband to a cottage down South, but that he was not the first man she took there, only the first that she knew she would be with.  He paid that woman back with: “That’s a wonderful story, Ann.  I lost my virginity at a drive-in theater in a train.”  She never shared anything with him again.  He considered himself liberated from her.  After that happened, we were stuck together on an elevator.  I sensed discomfort.  I asked him, “How are you?”  I didn’t want an answer, really.  But I sort of cared.  He answered, “Terrible.  I’m going through a divorce.”  “That’s terrible,” I said. “Yes,” he said.  “She fucked the Regional Director.”  This time I knew it was the truth.  He wasn’t saying it to keep me away.  He wasn’t making it up.  He wasn’t paying me back.  His wife must have really fucked the Regional Director.  His eyes had been scooped out.  They were melting in some one else’s cone.  It must have been the Regional Director’s.  I had belief.  This was truth.  “Why did you tell me this?” I asked him, as nonchalantly as possible.  “Two reasons.” he said.   “First, if people know that I’m going through a divorce, and I don’t tell them I was the cuckold, they will think that I was the Regional Director, the fucker, in all this.  Second, every time I tell someone, it’s like pulling a feather from a bird . . .”  I said, “How?”  He said, “I’ll have a naked chicken.  Like one of those rubber chickens they used in those old vaudeville acts, to hit someone in the face.”  I asked him, “Did anything come of this?”  He said, “No children.”  I said “Well . . . in a manner of speaking.”  Then he hit me in the face.  With a rubber chicken.  And laughed.
J.T. Whitehead has had over 160 poems accepted for print by over 75 publications.  He is a  Pushcart Prize-nominated short story author, a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, and a winner of the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize. He is the Editor in Chief of So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.  His first full length collection of poetry, The Table of the Elements, (The Broadkill River Press, 2015), was nominated for the National Book Award.

Hinting At Eternity by Bruce McRae

My stars, if I may be so familiar,
what’s with the silent routine, the timeless aplomb,
this whole ‘distant and aloof’ business?
You are, en masse, incorrigibly gifted,
dripping with syrupy mysteries, and these
suggesting inner depths and untapped powers.

It is we who’ve endowed you with abilities
never stated, and never intended.
We say you are birds just released
or souls or goddesses or burning sands.
We ponder our existence as compared to yours.
We dabble in sophistry, just because we can;
we who are instilled with awe,
infused with the wonder of beauty.

Pushcart nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over a thousand poems published internationally, including Poetry.com, Rattle and The North American Review. A new book has just been released, An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy, and his first book, The So-Called Sonnets, and both are available on Amazon. To see and hear more poems go to ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’ on YouTube.

 

 

Seeing a Picture of 2 Guys I Knew 40 Years Ago by Jeanne DeLarm-Neri

I knew them like fluid,
like we were all connected,
linked by our roaming molecules,
like we shared the same skin cells,
bumped arm to arm in sparks.
Like cigarettes lit, glowed, burned,
light one with the suck of the other.
You could smoke in the diner then,
and at night we sat in a bar
which burned down last year.
Drinks included crème de menthe.
Its sweet child body slipped down cool
and came up hot and undigested,
baby puke, no bits of stomach lining,
no pieces of the pulmonary system.
Though as I inspect the picture of these two,
slender, hair to the shoulders,
dressed in chinos and moccasins,
one smiling under a mustache
and the other worried, keys in hand,
I believe that a cardiologist
may detect a nick or two
missing from my aorta—
pieces of me left behind
on an Ohio lawn, should a machine
be invented that could measure
the weight of a moment lost.

Though Jeanne DeLarm-Neri has written poetry and stories for her entire life, she also earns a living in other fields, particularly as a bookkeeper at a private school, and as a vendor of antiques. Her poems and short fiction have been published in two anthologies (In Gilded Frame 2013 and Poems Of The Super-Moon, 2015), and several literary journals, one of which, Slipstream, nominated a poem for the Pushcart Prize. In 2014 and 2015 she was a contributor at the  Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She’s currently working on a book of poems and a novel.

Sister Earthworm by David P. Miller

An earthworm breaches the surface
of the pitched hillside where a boy
sits, knees up, sneakers braced
against a grass-stained slide
to the street. The creature stops
the boy’s breath, not from fright
but from greeting. Child zoologist,
his glass-jarred toad dreams in alcohol.
A real cat’s skull from a specimen
catalog reigns on the shelf. Today
the surge of a worm to his side.

The boy runs to his room
knowing this joy could be written.
Some exact words about sister earthworm.
Grasping pencil, he turns into a child
too consciously thinking himself as a child
inspired to write what a child
would write if a child were inspired.
He gapes at the paper. Writes nothing.
Goes back outside.

For five decades he wonders what he could say
for a single stray earthworm in spring,
unaware of him, both above ground
in the shade.


David P. Miller’s chapbook, The Afterimages, was published in 2014 by Červená Barva Press. His poems have appeared in publications including Meat for Tea, Ibbetson Street, Painters and Poets, Fox Chase Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Oddball Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Incessant Pipe.