and all my writing poems. she comes and sits in the kitchen, with her tail banging and a growling cough. she doesn’t like it; my writing these poems in the kitchen – she likes walking and going to the garden sometimes. she’d be ok, I think, if for just once I’d write on the sofa. she could sit up next to me, curl her head in. I get my hands under and place her on the table, hoping for some inspiration, and go back. she grumbles to get down again and goes to bed grumbling. I look at her; look at the poems I’ve wrote, look out the window. perhaps we are both diminishing.
DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)
I did not go to work today. But, today was full of work.
Today I have made a pizza, some muffins, and a hat.
Also I made changes, friendships, rest, and thoughts, and also
I ran errands. So many
I also worried about money, and time, and health, and family, and boys.
the thought that I am loved by someone, and how foreign
that idea still seems to me.
But He says it is so. So it must be.
I ponder such a curious idea, as I change her clothes, and help her with
the most basic of needs
and cheer her on when she takes a few steps in a row–
and then I adjust her oxygen tank so she can
I sleep early, and wake up when I hear her
crying. I wake her up completely; she can sleep again
but only after
pills water blanket nightlight
and a video clip of her grandchildren
sending their love.
I tuck her in, return to my chair. I lean back,
blanket around my shoulders. I start to dream of
tasks, and chores, and errands and work and school
as the whirring of the compressor
lulls me back to sleep.
Sabina M. Säfsten is a life-long poet who recently decided to make attempts to be published as an adult. Published as a child writer in multiple poetry anthologies, she took a brief 15-year haitus and earned an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Family Science. She has since come to her senses and has worked as a professional copywriter for the past 3 years for various clients. She currently works as a writer for a financial education company in Provo, UT, where she lives with her 2 djembes, Daniel and Ebony.
to say a word for our common tabby cat,
to say a word for Oliver, senile now,
my friends say, inside always now too,
after the latest flap with a pack of dogs
chasing him to a hiding place it took
three days for him to come out of,
old gimpy arthritic cat who we found
in the garage after we bought the house,
cat who we named Spook at first because
you rarely saw the ninja warrior streaking
from the food dish we set under the
ping-pong table, but now an old purrer
of laps and sleeping on your head in bed,
Oliver, who has chosen me, out of some
cat irrational need, to love best,
though I never feed, though I have a
backyard dog I take for country walks
and have never liked cats, Oliver, lumbering
across the floor, those large doe eyes
looking up in mad love, begging an ear rub,
a neck scratch, Oliver, Oliver, you could love
my good mate, the one who bathes you
the one who pulls off your fleas
and trims your nails–but no, it’s me
and only me, could it be my fabulous
finger technique?–come on, give in,
the mute glowing cat orbs say,
let me on your lap, take this broken
love and learn to tolerate
so you learn to love–
for you are broken too, eh?
and mad like me for love
Afternoons I visited her, and
beneath the rainfall on her roof
cotton blankets wrapped around us I
drank in each of her syllables. She helped me
find the right shape with my own tongue,
giving my hand a squeeze when I got one right.
Half my words were nonsense. She pretended not to notice.
I envied her vocabulary, and hoped one day I would be able to
jinx her with a word like inconsequential or trivial or barbaric and
know what it meant. You’ve probably guessed I
loved her. So I stuck around like the smell of
mulch in her backyard. I remember she took
me there once to smell the jasmine. She
never minded when I pronounced the word wrong
or forgot which flowers are feminine, so I thought she loved me back.
Pity me. Imagine the
quiet tears I shed when I finally
remembered the shape of those words.
She had helped me sound them out
thinking they were for someone else.
Time after time I practiced until the
vortex of sound opened up to me and on
Wednesday I told her I loved her and the
xenial melody of her voice responded
yes. That’s how you pronounce it.
Chloe Kerr-Stein will be studying Writing and Literature at UCSB in the fall. She has studied at the California State Summer School for the Arts and the Kenyon Young Writer’s Studio. She has been published in the 826 Quarterly, The Junkyard, and the Bay Area Book Festival’s Youth Poetry Anthology.
Six empty bottles stand witness to last night’s folly.
I should be past mornings where alcohol fueled
camaraderie brings pain and remorse. Cider, wine,
brandy have left only the soles of my feet without
complaint. The muted refrigerator light behind curry
stained boxes pierces, even my eyes are part of the
litany of distress. To soothe the morning, my friends
want the full American: Bloody Marys, coffee, eggs,
toast and bacon. I crave water, not the false reset of
vodka. The sounds of percolation and frying turn my
headache into a storm. I bless the soft rain that mutes
the high-pitched calls of songbirds. I fight the warm
allure of bed. Sleep must wait until suffering recedes.
Hope lies in the leftover containers of larb with fish
sauce and puckering lime; in tiny eggplants napped
with Thai basil, and chilies and lemongrass nestled in
noodles ready for a minute of microwave rejuvenation.
If only recovery was as easy as pressing start.
I’ll write about the Gravenstein blossoms soon,
Ralph J. Long Jr. is the author of the chapbook, A Democracy Divided (The Poetry Box, 2018). His work has appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, The Poeming Pigeon, The Avocet andthe anthology Ambrosia: A Conversation About Food. He graduated from Haverford College and lives in Oakland California.
When I went hungry, I slept less.
Roused by hummingbirds at 4:00 a.m.
to add sugar to my blood.
Today, I rest to the luxury of dozing,
wait for news of our survival. Slow bleed
of light around the shades,
my mind’s graffitied chug
like box cars on a train.
That my skin cracks open feels significant.
Forced air heat blasting through the vents.
I buy jugs of distilled water
to feed my humidifier, take too-long showers
mouth agape, inhaling the steam.
Persistent itch, abrasion with bullhorn,
Micki Blenkush lives in St. Cloud, MN. She was selected as a 2017-2018 Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series fellow in poetry and was a 2015 recipient of a Central MN Arts Board Emerging Artist Grant. Her writing has recently appeared in: Cagibi, Typishly, and Crab Creek Review.