Cherry Bomb

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Contributor: Jagari Mukherjee

- -
I loved him.
Then he asked, "Do you drink?
Drinking is bad. Good Indian girls don't drink.
I cannot marry you if you drink."

I am compelled to think.

Flashback

At New Orleans a few months ago

I walked down
Frenchmen Street
At 12 am
Watching
A party on the road
People lost and found in dancing

I held
A cherry bomb
Dark cherry rum
Heaven in a ball
Swilling every few steps
A blue and silver velvet dress
Blue lace agate earrings
For the concert attended
At Preservation Hall
And an alligator dinner
At The Court of Two Sisters...

(Moon in gauzy sky
Voodoo magic in air)

"You're beautiful!" A young man
Told me poetically on the road --
I nodded in acknowledgement.

Life's an enchantment.

Back to the present

He asks. "Do you drink?"
I look at him.
"I'm beautiful. I have tasted alligator flesh."
I say.
I walk away.


- - -
Jagari Mukherjee is bilingual poet from Kolkata, India. She is a gold medalist in English Literature from University of Pune. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in several international newspapers, journals, and anthologies, including Plum Tree Tavern, Labyrinthine Passages, Duane’s PoeTree, Vox Poetica, Margutte, Tuck Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, and others.

Happy Birthday!

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Contributor: David Hong

- -
I am gas (oxygen, helium,
Nitrogen) setting my invisible hands around
The fleshy throat of your room and knowing the vascularity
Of my right forearm as it corkscrews into the jugular
Until volume is just a postulate
since the lungs could explode or crumble before the
Spark,

After which I am
Everything like the son of Juno and Jupiter and
The applause of incinerated rubber, flesh,
Plastic, napalm
Ripping apart the terrain from Gaia,
Viscera from melancholy until only I
(And I myself) engorge this cavernous gape with
Ragdolls and the Doppler effect.
Since one dance of the diaphragm and
Your frosted breath,
I am gas ( ).


- - -
David Hong is a second-year undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in the heart of South Korea with his loyal dog, Maxwell.

Right to Flow

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
One day the faucets of the world
became irate when people
turned them off too tight and so

they chose to drip in anger,
a cacophony only they could hear.
When their demonstration ended

water flowed out the windows,
down the streets, flooding villages
and cities everywhere, a tsunami

sweeping everyone away.
No faucet could refuse to flood.
They have a union now, you see.


- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

More than Freckles

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Contributor: Anna Dunn

- -
I don’t know how to be
What I wanted to be when I was nine
But You don’t have to be an astronaut
To feel stars soaking into your skin
walking the earth and sea
Creates its own tiny universe

Where you exist alone
But with 800 others
All children of the ocean but
Siblings are very different

Sitting on the top of your odyssey
Surrounded by look alikes of
Your High school bullies
Getting back from lands unseen
Doesn’t seem to change they way they think
Like you’d wish to see
And traveling the world may as well be
Sitting at home if you can’t remember
How it felt to inhale every second

Not getting to let a breath back out
Before people try to cram meaning into your chest
By treating students like numbers
Checking off names on clipboards
Like items on a to do list
Not really hearing

When I say Privilege Is in my skin and blood and cells
And each day I try not to
fire off the bullet that is myself
But it’s inevitable as I pass through each new country
Five days is nothing
I’m lightning
Politics shouldn’t be egg shells
Don’t act like you’re scared to cut your feet

Step on new ground with your feet bare
And heart full of galaxies
And watch the sun sink into the sea
And the moon laugh at the clouds
While I inhale the sky into my lungs
At the thought that the
planet rotates differently for us
Everything crumbling and rebuilding without us and
We without everything else

I met a new person in the mirror the other day
Freckles have bloomed with the springtime
and created constellations on
A newly carved face
I met new friends and we grew into each other like vines and
carved each others DNA into our feet
Creating a home where the anchor drops

A home with a girl who’s distinctive
In her love
that she doesn’t think is Enough
Calling herself insensitive
When she burns red hot protection

Miranda is a moon in our solar system
But my Miranda is more like the sun
Giving off energy
We’re plants photosynthesizing her being
And her everything
Growing and growing

Until we reach the clouds
My neighbor is going home to Texas
She’s made of all natural ingredients
And kindness branches through her bones
Where her arms wrap around me as tears create salty rivers on my cheeks

She’s the clouds making it cooler at day
And warmer at night
Alyanna will always stick into
My memory like the
Way my name is a part of hers
Never to be invisible again

And when it’s dark
My friend, The moon is always there
Like I thought when I was young
But I’m not going back to abandonment issues
Or thinking I’m not good enough
When she shines down on me
Laughing like the world is hers

Shannon is a lucky name
And it’s lucky that we met in the first place
More lit up than streets that might in Hong Kong
Starting something strange and tentative blooming higher than the moon reaching
All the way to you
Breaking past barriers
Creating craters exposing more layers
And we’d never hesitate at what we found
Underneath and never will

And I could go on until I’m blue in the face
So many people I would try and swim the pacific for
and
These memories will last until my feet rot in the dirt and
I don’t know how to be When I return
when I leave my new floating home
For the final time it will be a second birth
My shadow will be haunted by the memory of my name
Thinking she's afraid of traffic and romance and change
But she is me before thousands of miles
And change is the only thing that’s consistent anymore

I don’t know how to be what I wanted to be
When I was nine
But if she knew all I’d see
And the people I’d meet
She’d want to be me and want this life to be mine

And when I return
It’ll be like breathing the clouds back into the sky
Until there’s nothing left in my chest
And anyone who could understand
Is here tonight
And won’t be with me in the quiet
It’ll just be me new and returning to the home of a stranger
Because when you see enough of the world you come back a foreigner
Lonely and changed but
Never regretting a single step

I don’t know how to be
After tasting the sun
And walking on the sea
I don’t know how to be


- - -
Anna Dunn is a student at Sarah Lawrence College studying creative writing and psychology. She just got back from a journey around the world on the ship and hopes to travel in the future.

Flight

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Contributor: Perry L. Powell

- -
So this is what it is to be naked
kneeling in the jaundiced snow
as the cormorants array themselves
like Isaiah's angels
on the bare branched elm.

This is the dream that went
North for the winter.
Faith of my heart, sing your song
and then let us put
old Bismark to bed.

And this is how it is to be left
when the candles fly away
and it seems we stand on the dark pier
in a moment without tickets.


- - -
Perry L. Powell is a systems analyst who lives near Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. His work has appeared a number of venues, including Leaves of Ink, Aphelion, eyedrum periodically, Frogpond, Futures Trading, The Heron's Nest, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, and vox poetica.

Six Foot Hole

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Contributor: Maria-Theresa Zehendstrom

- -
Rushing
to your self-important
suicidal end
of shopping
financial planning
nightmare
ten houses
but what's one more?
the debt
is mounting
is mounting
as the mountain crumbles
no place
left to go
no more
no nothing
no nowhere
left to go
but down
down
into the underground
six feet underground
with nothing
just to get away
from it all
forever
for everything you've ever wanted
to swallow
in the six foot hole
you call
your soul
is weighing you down
and the only way out
is down.


- - -
Inspired by the writings of Herne, Norris and Moreno, I write the song that splashes from my hands when I pour my soul on paper.

Diamond of Jello

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
From my stool in the diner I watch
the old woman with elm tree arms
command the big booth in back

and roar for a menu,
take a half hour to read it
before placing her order.

Watching her eat, I realize
life for her is a dollop of whip cream,
a twirling ballerina, on a diamond of Jello.

I raise my water glass
in a silent toast. Bravo, I whisper.
I wish her good cheer.


- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

The White Lie

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Contributor: M. Elhaz Eir

- -
The white lie
hiding the white why
all too casual,
all too cool
the asserion
that secular schooling
creates school shootings
leaves your demonic god
slavering
for dozens of deaths
and all of them innocent
and all of them
in all colors
and not just yours
not just black or white

Ask the white why
the lie to hide the truth
the unmet needs beneath
the white cardboard sundays
of happy-meal churches
the sickness of soul
in the slashed spirit
of the tribal white
cut free
bleeding
left to wander lost
without a root
without a line
back
to the towering ash
to a people once sundered
under blows from Olaf's Hammer
the crush of xtianity
the shards of Sigurd
displaced
and silently begging
for a divine reforge
for something primal
something true
a hit to the heart
stripped of Nazarene trappings
to break away the jotun ice
and set free the fire
that still runs wild in the veins
give each lost ghost soul
so much more to strive for
so much more to connect to
a culture
as rich and real
as any other
a root
as true
as all the roots
that cross back to ape days
days when fire was god
and man
was a brother to man
regardless of creed or color
because anything less
would be a sacrifice of self
instead of survival.


- - -
Pseudonym for nonbinary poet exploring transgender issues.

ELLIS STREET

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Contributor: Mark J. Mitchell

- -
Every landscape is located nowhere.

—Fernando Pessoa
The Book of Disquiet



1.

Roy’s left hand dangles over Ellis Street
His cigarette glows soft as a brake light
while late evening becomes early night.
The only music a lunatic shriek
from a tired bus. Neon crackles outside
and stiff voices argue next to the closed
post office station—its only windows
still cracked. He exhales smoke through the good side
of his face. Pearl’s the devil’s true daughter,
he thinks, or some fisherman’s ex-wife.
Coughing, he remembers her cold laughter—
it’s threaded through his dreams—a leitmotif
composed of broken glass and cracked shutters
and lost salt air blown off an unreal reef.


2

Pearl kicks her cigarette down Ellis Street
wondering how many fish build a house,
if he was really her perfect Jim, how reefs
choose just one man—that captain lied, of course—
Jim left—like smoke, like ash from that window
dropping from above the Serv-More. Sidewalks
aren’t safe these days and her cigarette floats
overhead. She scans up and down the block:
No one. Roy’s eyes don’t move. He knows she’s there—
Not some animal sense—she makes his bones
ring loud as a cracked church. Her soul can snare
him at a distance. Past the last pay phone
in the Tenderloin. His ears twitch. He swears
she’ll call. His cool window’s her only home.


3

Once a month the full moon licks Ellis Street.
Roy tilts his broken face, missing lost bones.
The hard light smells of all the blondes he’s known.
But Pearl was moon-cool and still threw a heat
that fused his memory with dreams. He stares
at his dark wall, decodes voices from the store,
cut by sharp notes from dropped bottles. His door
can’t close. He never hears steps on the stairs.

The curb’s cool, concrete’s blue and almost soft,
so Pearl sits, looks at her aging cigarette,
drops it in her pocket, dreaming sailors
in stranger’s smoke. She can light up later.
Her teeth ache for lost Jim. A last minute
pain moves her from low sob to a loud cough.


4

A lost fork eats noon sun on Ellis Street—
blinding—Pearl kicks it past the broken phone
that rings like a lost fork with damaged teeth.
She could answer, but never in daylight—
That reminds her of how she drew a gun
on his back—her fingernails red and hot
as that fork. She drew smoke and a white beach
and he moved like a knife in water-time.
No shades spare Roy’s window—just wanton knots
stretched across the glassless space that hides him—
his sniper’s nest where he guards Ellis Street.
He keeps it safe as milk so she can own
her reef, his wrecked face, the unbroken light
glaring from the fork so her eyes won’t dim.


5

Roy exhales a cowl of smoke. Ellis Street’s
the cloister he’s never walked. His lost prayers
are still as breath. His stiff face avoids air—
devout as a fish—religiously neat.
After dark he practices his long stare.
His mind’s empty and his cold walls are bare.
He listens to night for the sound her feet
make on pavement. His faith says she’s out there.
Handing out messages, Pearl sees the pulse
of neon. Reads the language, not the words—
afraid of the glass—certain it will hurt
when it rains down on the sidewalk, hard as grace.
She tucks a perfect smoke behind her ear
and minds the fogged window with its mute seer.


6

Pearl dreams: A parrot falls on Ellis Street—
Not wild—a refugee from mirrors, scared
outdoors by its face—dropped by concrete stars
beside her cold ear. She knows she’s asleep—
but feathers still tickle. Its cherry beak
is hard as Jim’s eyes. The parrot’s sly ghost
wakes her. This sidewalk’s her bed, not the reef
that stole him. She still hates it. Her dream floats
past Roy. His lighter blinks like the cracked port
light on a smuggler’s skiff. Forgotten coasts
prey on him. He prays too—for her. Precise
as a fisherman’s knife. It's craft—he’s not nice.
This empty world is full of sins and most
are his own. He’s guilty in his home court.


7

Roy stands back and examines Ellis Street
from an oblique angle, mapping a board—
no game—he forgot the rules years ago.
She’d stand right there and haunt the slanted row
leading nowhere. He wants her force restored
to a perfect square that blocks her retreat—
or might. It’s been too long since he was sure
of things—just this wall, his face, his scarred feet.
Pearl moves where she wants. She knows
each puddle of light. She can play with bones
and visions—juggle them with her unskilled hands—
they’re tied by his lost touch—the kiss that began
this trip to her sidewalk. She’ll map fissures,
broken glass, knowing where Jim will fall down.


8

Pearl stops. It has snapped dark on Ellis Street
but only here—where she stands. Music drops
from above the Serve-Well. Slow, damp notes, not
quite rain, but a melody built of mist
and failure. She knows Jim’s not his real
name, but he was so perfect—lithe and tall—
his arms shaped her form. He left and she fell
right here. She shudders at the smell of fish.
Roy owns only one record and he plays
it once a week. Satie’s piano notes
feel cool to his broken ear. He repeats
one side over two hours. It’s his Friday
magic—erasing her face as it floats
down to that strange dark reef on Ellis Street.


9

Roy hated sun. The fog loved Ellis Street.
Day drinkers were loud, formless spirits.
Ashes fall from his window. He retreats
to blue shadow—cracked glass—duct tape, warm spit
and will save it—Movies on his cool wall—
sub-titled with prime numbers—her face calls
his lost name. He glares down to the sidewalk
as if she’ll stroll by. Fog always fooled her.
Pearl’s lost in Chinatown—she followed chalk
Murals past tea shops to an alley where
a pile of antique cassettes promise lost
foreign films. She’s in love with hungry ghosts
and flying knives. But Ellis Street’s his home.
She smells his pacing, willing her to come.


10

Pearl cleans her striped heart. Lights on Ellis Street
kiss fog as gates are pulled closed and locks snap.
She mouths numbers, watches alarms get set.
Cars growl homeward. She smoothes her cardboard flat
below his window. She sees reflected light
leaking around tape. This quiets her cough
and her slack nerves. She slips off on low tides
to dream of fishermen who escape rough
seas. Roy takes a look out through blue shadows
and lets fog cool his burning face. He’d shut
the window if he could. He doesn’t like noise
after dark—it reminds him of squeaky hoists
on lost ships and that night he couldn’t cut
the tail line. He steps back. His face won’t show.


11

Roy squints. The mail has come to Ellis Street.
Pearl waits her turn. There’s no bottle, no note.
Roy paces, sets his record to repeat.
Sun washes Pearl white below his window.
Street boys come and go. They count on dull fights
to break their day. Pearl could toss them a cause
but she wants Roy to sleep. These foggy nights
are cruel to him and she won’t break the law.
The dead Frenchman’s notes bring up Roy’s cracked ships
and Pearl’s lost eyes. She quivers. She looks up.
Roy splashes coffee, cold as a dead fish,
then breaks his cup. Pearl is taut with lust.
Roy runs through his window to Ellis Street.
It rains glass, blood and tape. Pearl and Roy meet.



- - -
Mark J. Mitchell’s novel, The Magic War appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied at Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work appeared in several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. He lives with his wife, Joan Juster making his living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.

Paper

| Filed under

Contributor: Anna Dunn

- -
Small rejections
Are little papercuts

Scratching at the skin
So quiet but
When amplified
Explosive

Bloody nails on chalkboard
Screaming you’re tar not stardust
That nobody even looks twice
At someone who’s cat got her tongue
Way back when she was young
And it’s never growing back
Never growing beautiful
Never blossoming with the springtime

Instead you’re a flower wilting
Petals collapsing
A puzzle with missing pieces
Thrown into the garbage disposal
Never to be caressed
With satisfied fingertips


- - -
Anna Dunn is a student studying creative writing and psychology at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. She spent the last year of her studies abroad, and hopes to travel more in the future.

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