Sweetness and Smoke

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Contributor: Brian Baumgarn

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He remembered the Ohio of his youth.
Winters of pure, glistening snow. His parents
taking him on wagon rides over the deep,
winding trails of naked woodlands.
Swooping great horned owl, fog-breathed
whitetail deer, and string-like clouds flirting
with a cool, pearlescent cup of moon.

At trail's end, wagons emptying.
Families standing and sitting around a
great, crackling bonfire. Smoke-laden
breath from burning hickory, maple, and ash
stinging his eyes and lungs. Aromatic.
People singing. Warm cider and cinnamon.
Cookies and treats.
The plush fragrance of steaming coffee
that he was still too young to share.
It was all splendid adventure. Afterward,
falling into a dreamless, hibernal sleep
before getting halfway home.

Later in winter. People drawing the
blood of the maple trees into buckets.
He had seen it drip from miniscule
tap-wounds in the bark. As the tree was
alive, he pondered if this hurt?
Workers hauling the sap-laden buckets
toward slat sided shacks hidden deep
within the forest.
The maple's lifeblood being rendered
into the most savory syrup
and maple sugar candy.
Sweet treats and a delicacy
for pancakes and waffles.
Ambrosia, his mother and father called it.

Life was all sweetness and smoke.
Crisp, clear, untried.
His mother and father were so right.

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A 65 year old working with developmentally disabled men. Became interested in writing again after the passing of my mother and father in successive years.


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Contributor: Wyn Sharp

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Blood runs cold from
jagged wine bottles
used to pierce my fragile skin.

Fists beat mercilessly
to semi-consciousness,
my dried blood beneath his nails.

He leaves with a shovel—
to prepare my grave in the peach orchard.

He said I’d make
fine fertilizer for his fruit trees.

The clock ticks;
There is little time.

A mirror reflects a new image
of cropped black hair
that matches my shadows and scars.

There is strength and courage in departure.

He will return and wonder
How I had the courage to flee.

Cracked wine bottles on the floor
will rip at the flesh of his feet.

I will wear flaming red lipstick.

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Born in MS and raised in TN, Wyn graduated from UNCW in Wilmington, NC in the fall of 2013. She's written poetry and fiction from a early age and can be found on Word Press, Twitter, and other media sites.

I Still Believe

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Contributor: Butahn Mirabba

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I know you can feel it
When I think of you.
When I put my wings around you
When I reach out to you
Send you
All the light I have in me.

I know you're hurting
I know you don't believe
I know you're trying
Not to think of me
To forget me

Tell me
The bond between us
Between you and me
Was never meant to be.

Tell me
And I'll stand here
I'll refute it
With open arms
Because I still believe
Because I need you
And I still believe
You need me.

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Contributor: John Ogden

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Five years with the first wife
Five children with the last
Five stabs at solace
Thank God the fifth one
Finally worked out.

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John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.

Open Arms

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Contributor: Jorhan Bivlibny

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You run
In my own way, I chase
You cut at the bonds
I stitch the wounds
You flash your blade
You bear your claws
But I offer only open hands
Open heart, open soul.
Cut me, Tiger.
Make me bleed
I'll wear the scars
I'll show them openly
I've been through the fire
I've been burned so many times
I can weather this
I can weather the worst of you.

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I Love The Ocean In Its Calm

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Contributor: Randy Stewart IO

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Are we not unlike manners of the sea?
Moments of perfect calm
Serene as the reflection Narcissus
Withered in front of, I hope I
May pass the same

Staring into the eyes of something I
Love more than the life
I chanced to have thrust upon my
Soul suspended in infinity
What did I look like before?

A light, a glow, a churning unending
Wheel of energy waiting
To be born of flesh, blood, and bone
Hair and nails and crooked
Teeth, desire to please

And to be? I wondered much as I
Wandered lust searching
For love unknowing what I would feel
Do we always know that
A heart is the center?

Organic Sun, pursuits in all revolve
Around appeasing this
I want to die like a hurricane, violent
And lasting three whole
Acts; rage, intermission,

Wrath of God as I disappear and
Scar the world with my
Exit, but they will be stronger then
And smarter too, even
If wounded by my pass

I love the ocean in its calm, in its
Power to breed and
Its power to annihilate all it helped
To create

An infinite unpredictability.

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Randy is from Decatur, Illinois. He has a beautiful muse/fiancée named Abby and three gorgeous children. He reads, writes, and ponders obsessively.

Damaged Goods

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Contributor: Jardin DeMerci

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Still my wife
Already his girl.

He harvests her “love you's”
But it's me making her scream.

They plan a happy future with his kids
But it's me planting seeds.

Hope he feels me
When he someday tries to fill
All the spaces I've left behind

Hope he feels me
Finds frustration in his thrusting
Shows his true colors
Leaves them both dissatisfied.

Still my wife,
Already his girl.

But I'm no better.
Another woman
Already holds my heart.

The shadow in my bed?
Just a vessel to fill.

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Cubical poet with a haunted past.


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Contributor: Richard Schnap

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There once was a blind man
In a torn stained coat
That sang on the sidewalk
As the world passed him by

With a voice as golden
As any on a stage
Till one day he vanished
Without leaving a trace

But sometimes it seems
I can still hear his cry
From an abandoned building
Or a garbage-strewn lot

As if he lives on
To serenade his darkness
Before being swallowed
By the deafening wind

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Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

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