“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
vocalization.
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/.

“Enough” by Mary Dudley

It wasn’t the cantaloupe at breakfast
or the blue bridge spanning the highway
on our way to this retreat.

It was the black-paper hawk warning the small
birds in the russian olives just outside the window
to stop before they hit the glass,
no matter if the oranges on the table called them
or persimmons.

Life has its boundaries,
the hawk said.  It is not
always air and light
and free flight over the arroyos
into canyons.
You enjoy such freedom you do not even know
how free you are, how free you’ve been.
Stop at this glass.  Here.
You have space enough
You have no need to come inside.

With an M.A. in American poetry, Mary Dudley then earned a Ph.D. in early child development. She writes about and works with young children, their families, and teachers.  She’s published three chapbooks of poetry and her poems have appeared in a number of collections, including Zingara Poetry Review.

“Reverend Billy’s Boogie Woogie and Mom’s Gulbransen” by Gianna Russo

The Palladium Theatre, Saint Petersburg, FL.

We’re here for the Hillbilly Deathmatch.
Two balladeers duking it out:
heartbreak vs. boogie woogie
Les Paul guitar vs. Steinway Baby Grand.
The Friday Night music palace seeps age and glory–
rows of faded velvet seats, wooden backs worn smooth
from decades of sweat and delight.

The balladeer’s got the guitar: his fingerwork is a cheery stroll,
his second-tenor-muttered lyrics walking us around the yard,
down the block to the intersection of Heartbroke and Wanting More.
We’re referees: our seat-shifting and half-yawns call it:
no way is that round going to him.

Then Reverend Billy stomps on stage
in a cowboy zoot suit and kickass boots.
He pounces on the ivories, his hands
the tarantella, the electric slide, the St. Vitus dance of boogie woogie.
We hoot and jive in our seats.
It’s a musical K.O.

God, it feels good to get shaken this way,
after months of putting the house to sleep,
forcing a coma on one room at a time.
Rev says he want to slow it down, play somethin pretty.
Melodic and melancholy, it takes me
to my mother’s back room
where her old upright Gulbransen sags unsold, untuned.
She filled the house with show tunes and old standards–
South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, her low alto tremolo.
It’s been mute for years.

Rev caresses the Steinway.
Behind him the velvet curtains are crenelated, ballooned.
Above him the stage lights are blue as my mother’s eyes.

Gianna Russo is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Moonflower (Kitsune Books), winner of a Florida Book Awards bronze medal, and two chapbooks, including one based on the art work of Vermeer, The Companion of Joy (Green Rabbit Press). Russo is founding editor of YellowJacket Press, (www.yellowjacketpress.org ), Florida’s publisher of poetry chapbook manuscripts. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has published poems in Ekphrasis, Crab Orchard Review, Apalachee Review, Florida Review, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, saw palm, Kestrel, Tampa Review, Water-Stone, The MacGuffin, and Calyx, among others. In 2017, she was named Best of the Bay Local Poet by Creative Loafing. She is assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is editor-in-chief of Sandhill Review and director of the Sandhill Writers Retreat.

 

“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.