I Haven’t Been Entirely Idle – by Sarah Snyder

 

I am remembering
a young woman I met
who pulled out her phone

to share a photograph of a mother
she missed while at college, smiled wide
and scrolled down her contacts

pointing to the name – My Everything.
That’s my mother’s number, she said.
That was a month ago.

I’ve been back from Rwanda,
doing laundry in a machine
instead of the bucket,

have baked tofu with fresh ginger,
lemon grass, and soy sauce
not thinking of the beans and rice.

And I have been renaming
my contacts, new names for everyone –
My Rock, He Whose Hair Smells Like Sun,

Bluest Eyes, Get Ready For An Hour-Long Conversation,
Let Go To Voice Mail, She Who Makes Me Laugh,
Will Have Gossip, Best Thai Food…

feeling like I am on scattered pathways
from a garden, seeded
in wild things.

 

 

 

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad, both published in 2017. She was selected for the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference both times she applied. One poem was nominated for best of Net in 2017. Recent work appears in Chautauqua Literary Magazine, RHINO, and The Sewanee Review. https://sarahdickensonsnyder.com/

 

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Looking at My Parents – by Cameron Morse

 

When I look at my father, I see a flower,
I see a barbarian who lived in Guam,
and ate McDonald’s for 90 days to file
for divorce. When I look at my father,
I see a flower wearing a straw hat, short
shorts and long socks, t-shirt tucked,
stretched over his paunch, I see a bottle
of wine with a hamburger for breakfast
before going back to bed. I see red
meat and liver-spotted hands.

When I look at my mother, I see the moon,
I see a beast who watches Call the Midwife
in her nightgown, indulging herself
and 16-year-old son with a weight problem
to Custards after a day in the office
listening to sex addicts and divorcées
before getting served on September 11th
by what she thought had been a roofer with a bid.
When I look at my mother, I see the moon,
haggard and luminous.

 

 

 

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in over 100 different magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press.

Olivia’s First Psychiatrist – by Olivia Tuck

I traced the GCSE Art-student impression
of your cheekbones, pencilled in peach; a soft
graphite rendering. Your irises were sectioned
by baby ingots. Your jaw was the edge.

I’d deserted a Chemistry lesson to come
to your sterile door:
you were so satisfying, although you wore
a home-knitted jumper in teddy-bear brown.

Through bitten lips, I sucked my Sherbet Fountain.
Wondered if your wife – blanched and underfed,
with a heart of Cotswold stone, no doubt –
tasted 50mg of sertraline when you kissed her.

 

 

 

Olivia Tuck has had poems and prose published in literary journals and webzines including The Interpreter’s House, Lighthouse, Amaryllis and Three Drops from a Cauldron. Her work also features in the Fly on the Wall charity anthologies Please Hear What I’m Not Saying and Persona Non Grata. She is studying for a BA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and her pamphlet Things Only Borderlines Know is forthcoming with Black Rabbit Press. Find her on Twitter: @livtuckwrites

 

First deaths – by Ryan Stone

 

A red balloon sailing
through patchwork skies
whisked my brother’s young feet
from the fairground. Day bled
to twilight before a cop found him
mangled in a ditch by the highway.

After the funeral, my Dutch au pair
led me down to our basement
and laughed when I told her
I’d never played baseball. Later
we snuck my father’s rifle
out to the train yards, and she
showed me how creamy breasts
of pigeons turn crimson, and

how nothing seems more alive
than in that moment
before it isn’t.

 

 

 

Ryan Stone writes after midnight. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in publications including Algebra of Owls, Eunoia Review, The Drabble and Silver Birch Press and won prizes in a number of competitions at venues including Grindstone, Writer Advice, Goodreads, Writers’ Forum Magazine and Poetry Nook. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

A poem by Simon Perchik

 
What was siphoned off the sun
could just as easily be this tree
and each branch carried out

struggling with moss and faraway
– who can tell it’s not this tree’s
last chance to sort the light

as if going somewhere was still possible
that love too is possible – all this wood
even in winter arriving to gather you up

as leaves, shining, smelling from dew
already beginning to blossom, impatient
for arms and shoulders and the fire.

 

 

Simon’s poetry has appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, The New Yorker and elsewhere.

Time to Vote – Nov/Dec Readers’ Choice Poem

After an extended Christmas break, we are back a little later than expected, and the poems we have slated to publish in January will likely spill over into February now.

The most recent submission window closed on 15th January and we are starting the selection process – people can expect responses at the end of this month. The new window opened on 16th January and will run to the end of February – for poems to publish in April.

To get things rolling again, here is our usual bi-monthly poll for a Readers’ Choice poem. In November and December there were four poems that stood out in terms of reader response, and here they are. Voting will close on 26th January when our mug-winner will be announced.