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Contributor: Sheshu Babu

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When you sowed seeds
I thought
My love started to germinate

When you watered the saplings
I thought
My love had good foundation

When you were elated
Watching the harvest
And exclaimed
"I am the tiller!
this is the result
Of my effort!"
I thought
My love was perfect


We stand on the same soil
With similar Chemistry!

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Forever As One

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

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Love is special – unique
Something that can’t be
Bought in a store
Or on-line
Love can’t be found
Just because you’re
Looking for it
Love finds you
Sometimes through
Incomprehensible means
Love is destiny
Founded by two souls
Meeting in Heaven
And molded into one
As the angels
Return it to the
Original owners
But it’s
A new life
Because love
Has joined the beings
Forever as one

- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty books, his shows have been produced in New York and around the country and he’s the author of the novellas Reinvented and An Accidental Journey. He lives with his rescued Australian Shepherd, Daisy.
His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his wife, dancer/actress, Lydia Franklin.

Smoke and Mirrors

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Contributor: Ann Christine Tabaka

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Words that do not say a thing,
spout vague persuasions,

dancing around on a tongue
of fire. Heads tilting, nodding,

turning, What was that you
said? Writing a thesis of the

damned, we follow bread crumbs
of doubt. Ring around the Rosie,

time has all but passed. Sweet
garlands of discovery, upon

the ocean cast. A breath held
blue, a quandary spent, we

plunge ahead anew. Devoid of
sense, we seek the prize, a

lanced boil. Meanwhile paintings
of colorful decent adorn a contrived

world. Rising from the throng,
visions of disbelief profess to be

real. Fabricated phrases fill our
lives with words that say but nil.

Alas, all is smoke and mirrors,
… and smoke

- - -
Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry, has been internationally published, and won poetry awards from numerous publications. She lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and three cats.

While We're Talking Reparations. . .

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Contributor: Joselyn Colby Rastecov

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When the fury of a lost god
comes howling through the house
and the ghosts of the forgotten dead
the ghosts of an age
scream bleeding rebirth
and revenge
for lost lives
for times
when all souls were oppressed
for control
for cash
by psychopaths
hiding in the shadow of a cross
they professed
guided every axe
guided every stick
that built every pyre
defiled every unwilling temple
until none remained
until all the stolen gold
glittered on swollen fingers
fat with savage scarfing.

The ghosts of the wronged do howl
and even the staunchest houses do crumble
for nothing lasts forever
nothing, but the howling of the angry wind
nothing lasts forever.

- - -
Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

When I Was a Child

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Contributor: Cynthia Pitman

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When they said there was a “window” of time
for the space shuttle to leave the atmosphere,
I thought they meant that a big window
would open in the surface of the earth,
and the shuttle would emerge from inside.

When they said “burning at the stake,”
I thought they meant laying someone on a grill
and cooking him outdoors, just like you would a steak.

When they said “convergence of the twain,”
I thought they meant “twain” as in “Mark Twain,”
never knowing it meant “two.”

When they said she was “drawing on her gloves,”
I thought they meant she was drawing pictures
on her gloves with a crayon.

All of these things I thought.
I saw no reason to think otherwise.

But when they said
“everything happens for a reason,”
I thought they meant for a good reason.
Now I see the one real reason to think otherwise:
human suffering.
What is a good reason for that?

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I'm a retired English teacher from Orlando. I have had or will have poetry and fiction published in Right Hand Pointing, Literary Yard, Amethyst Review, Saw Palm, and others.

Outer Darkness

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

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When the lights in the heavens
No longer shine,
And an ocean of darkness pervades,
No sunrise to chase the darkness away,
No spoken words to be heard,
Nothing to touch and no one to touch,
And no scenery ever to see,
Only darkness; oblivion;
The absense of anything.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke writes in Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their dog and cat.

Cigarettes Will Always be Home

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Contributor: Cooper Shea

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I’m six years old, it’s Sunday.
Mom kneels at her garden,
which isn’t really one,
just a small patch of soil by the driveway for Hosta plants.
She stops, takes her pack of Marlboro Ultra-Lights from her sock,
lights one and says to me:

If you ever want to experience the hardest thing in your life,
start smoking.

I’m 14, it’s a Friday night
after the football game, behind the tennis court.
She wears ripped jeans, converse, a Pink Floyd t-shirt
and smokes a Methol Pall-Mall.
No girl has ever touched the back of my neck like this.
I don’t know how I muster the strength
but I kiss her and it tastes like broken rules and burnt cough drops.
After, she offers me the pack:

Have one.

I’m 16, a hot Wednesday night.
Mom sits on the porch.
She barely has time to snub out a butt before lighting another.
I come out, like she asked.
She’s smoking from my pack.

Recognize these?

She says but there’s no scold in her voice.
I just sit down
and she gives me a light.

I’m 10, it’s summer on my grandparents farm.
Grandpa teaches me how to chuck feed into the trough for the cattle.
When they’re all fed,
he takes his Winston’s out of the pocket if his snap button shirt.
He looks like a cowboy off a billboard,
hardworking man having a smoke at the end of a tough day.
He lights one,
coughs and says:

Goddamn, I outta quit.

I’m 21 and it’s winter.
Mom invites me out to the porch
to talk about how serious things are with my girlfriend.
She lights what she says is her first all day,
and offers me the pack.
I want it, God knows.
I say:

I’m good.

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A Day of Quiet Deliberation

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Contributor: Jane Briganti

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The commemoration
of a marriage
In other words - anniversary
a celebration of love,
a marriage -
two people committed
one to another
wanting to journey
through life together
A day which most
care to remember

Unlike others
who bask in the joy
of such occasion
she wonders why this word
in all its glory
powerful and sentimental
causes her such
Why this date in time
holds so much significance
with its twin
from so many years before?

Why has he forgotten their
anniversary - again?
How callous of him
Negative thoughts
now cloud her mind
Why did he not remember?
Is his action or lack of
conscious or accidental?
Is it deserving of
Should she remain
silent -
so the day just passes
like any other?

Have they drifted so far astray
that he deems their marriage
Why should she feel
of the woman who receives
a flower with a tender kiss,
an invite for dinner,
a song, a dance or
a lover's tete-a-tete?

this day of celebration
turns into a day of
quiet deliberation

A day of sorrow and emptiness
an acceptance of the truth
the bond between them
a cosmic, passionate love
is slowly dissipating
A flame of irresistible passion
once burning out of control
has burned the candlewick black

Their anniversary
a day she remembers
with endearment
has become nothing more
than a day of reflection
A day of quiet deliberation

- - -
A Native New Yorker, she's been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. It is her hope that someone may find solace in her words.

Gold Toilet Royalty

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Contributor: By Betal P.K. Pelario

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The trending trendy
say the silence is coming
mobs of jobless masses
the joining rivers of refuse humans
one into another
eating each other
while the machines make
everything we want
nothing we need

Oh, to be gold toilet royalty
riding the rivers of the indigent
when it all falls down
when it all comes crumbling down
leaving nothing but the sick of heart
the lords of glittering trash
with everything they want
and nothing they need.

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From the Garden

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Contributor: Holly Day

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I come in from the garden and I’m covered
in slugs. Tiny slabs of snot with antennae waving
slowly moving over my sandaled
feet, pausing in confusion at trying to pass
a particularly thick black ankle hair
navigating the rough etched surface
of a heavy Tibetan silver bracelet.
I don’t touch my hair because
I don’t want to know they’re there, wrapped in tangles
dreadlocks with chewy centers.

I pull my clothes off by the washing machine
and start the hot rinse cycle immediately, reconciling
my guilt at running the washing machine
with only two items of clothing in it
with images of hordes of horrible soft bodies
tumbling through the soapy water with my clothes
hopefully boiled alive. If there were more clothes
in the mashing machine, the slugs would be trapped
throughout the load, might find sanctuary
in sweater pockets and socks
might make it out

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Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle.


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