Two Poems

Chella Courington

Three-Quarter Time

I watched a woman
hair once the color of coal
shape bagels at the corner deli
her long fingers
looping dough around her hand
rolling it on white marble
until a round tube twirled
in on itself.

She dropped the circle
into steaming water
the dough rose swollen & wet

Through her I saw
faintly a girl
in dark braids sitting
at a Wurlitzer
turning pages faster & faster
until the paper floated up
my hands holding to the treble clef
swinging above brick and tile
through altostratus clouds.

 

The Steady Drain of Habit

as two bodies
side by side
sharing the same bed
same morning coffee
wake one Wednesday
or maybe Sunday
see the other
etched in lines
crevices of the past
and walk away
to find what’s lost.

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Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of six poetry and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals including Non-Binary Review, Pirene’s Fountain, and The Los Angeles Review.

 

Three Poems

John Grey

THE SICKNESS OF OTHERS

I am writing this
as white as the pith of an orange.

Is she okay?
Her face is as red and sweaty
as a boiled beet.

Everything’s fine.
She’s durable.
She wasn’t born with a high temperature.

And her sweetness isn’t compromised.
Nor is the softness of her voice.

She’s vulnerable, as we all are.
A baby bawling for its comforter.
But tough like a hard-backed chair.

Her sickness is merely filtered through
the skin that she wore the last time 1 saw her.

Call it tropical orchards in bloom if you must.
Or any plant that’s nasty and meaty and beautiful
as all hell.

 

THE ARGUMENT FADES WITH THE MILES

For the longest time
I thought it was going to be
one of those futile drives

when nothing I said
could salve your mood exactly right
and I plead endlessly
until frustration overwhelms

but then the road
had the good sense
to change from paved to gravel
and the suburbs gave way

to farms and hay meadows
then rolling blue hills
followed by deep lush woods –

I stopped talking,
you still said nothing

but I had a sense
that there is more than
one kind of silence –

there’s that which sets itself up
as a counterpoint to sound –

there’s that which
chooses to hold its tongue

often and without warning.

 

REPENT AT YOUR LEISURE

No more tear
of conception, beds, relatives, bodies.
And virginal loneliness.
Sex happened
and it didn’t kill you both.
It was more like humanity
than you imagined
and less like a playground
for youth.
It reminded you of
the time you had orchestra seats
for a play,
front row in fact.
You could reach out
and almost touch the actors.
Only now.
it was more than almost.
You might never see him again
but you could always have husbands later.
For now,
you could believe that
was as close as life had ever got
to being all about you.
It may not have been heaven
but it was better
than nothing ever was.

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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

4 Women: 1 Damaged, 3 Dead

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois

1.

A woman supine on a Mexican blanket is pitted like an olive, with one deft twist. The brass bars of a wind chime hang above her like a skeleton. Her joints glow in the dark, like something freshly soldered. She sleeps.

The men in the front room peer out the glassless windows and listen for moans. When the infant comes, it will be an icon of metal scraps and fish-heads. They will set it in a bare corner atop a
stool.

It will scrabble. White powder will film its brown belly. One of its arms will be crustacean.

The dark man and his wife—their hands will fit together grimly, like railroad cars coupling.

2.

I took the tiny Guatemalan doll out of its knitted pouch. It looked like Nanci, recently dead. Dark hair, straight features, a Twilight Zone moment.

Nanci could have reincarnated as this doll, comfortable in her little pouch with no need for food, toileting or other mortal maintenance.

She looks forward to my gently removing her from the knit-work to hold insomniac
conversations. She has plenty of time to catch up on her sleep. After all, she’s dead and, as she always joked, busy painting or making photographs or traveling in distant lands, I’ll have plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead.

3.

My dentist tells me I have acid erosion. Then he bashes Princess Diana. She might have been pretty but she was dumb, he says, a typical aristocratic British daughter, raised to be a potential Windsor brood mare.

What are you saying, I demand. Diana’s been dead… how long? And today you want to bash her? You know I admired and respected Diana. You know I was in love with her (I stifle a sob).

I regret taking the nitrous oxide. Me and Dent huff it recreationally after my appointments, at other times too. We prefer it to cocktails.

Oh, he says, a new biography just came out about good old Princess Dead. I’ve been reading it, and the author’s style and sensibilities have affected me.

Dent and I have been friends since junior high, when he admired my performance art. Now I’m a portrait painter, not terribly successful. I show up in his office in paint-spattered pants. Dent pays his assistant extra to work on me because she despises me and the smell of turpentine.

Dentistry is soulless, I accuse him. Every year you become more callous, more empty. Princess Diana shone like the Virgin in the grotto at St. Mary Star of the Sea.

Dent turns off the nitrous. He yawns. Yeah, yeah, she was a princess she was, he says in a bad British accent.

4.

My favorite cousin killed herself. She took a massive dose of Benadryl. She won’t have to worry about bee allergies ever again. She won’t have to run screaming from them. She won’t have to fear any toxin. She won’t have to fear the toxins inside her head.

I’m so pissed at her, I want to plunge my arm into a bee hive. I want to scream in earthly pain.


 

Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois  has had over fourteen-hundred of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including several times in THE MISCREANT. He has been nominated for numerous prizes, and. was awarded the 2017 Booranga Writers’ Centre (Australia) Prize for Fiction. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To read more of his work, Google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Two Poems

Jeff Bagato

They Don’t Call Them Gods Anymore

I didn’t earn any money
today—I sat here,
I wrote, I fought off
the blank page and the blank
mind; I tried to kill
the dullness of the world,
and the deadliness of
the dull, and I couldn’t
watch the mailman
sacrifice his hours placing
junk mail in the apartment
boxes one by one—it was
too deadly, too dull

Egyptians had gods who
told them how to behave,
who to be, what to know—
and you had to know
it after death,
but today
we don’t call them
gods any more

But we have religions and
therefore
we die

 

A Long Sweet Line

In the 50’s, everybody believed
the con
of good jobs
and television;
they believed the advertisements
and trusted
the advertisers.
They believed the power
of toothpaste
and the hamburger.

Now, people are jaded to the con;
it doesn’t cut it anymore,
and they fall for it
in smaller and smaller
numbers.

So a new line of con
is needed—
a better line,
that makes us think
we are not wallowing
in an extra 40 years of garbage,
an extra 40 years of bills
and brain damage
and death.

We need a whole new rock and roll,
a whole new Howdy Doody,
the next big cornflake,
some hot new sliced bread.

A better hamburger.

A face must sell the prizes,
deliver the sweet line of con
to young ladies’ ears
so they spread their legs
for the young men and make
them happy—like in
the 60s when the face said
turn on, tune in, drop out
and the hippie girls screwed automatic—
making the young men work
harder, the hamburgers get bigger,
cheaper and easier to afford,
and the space program lift off.

We need a new face

and a long, sweet line of con.

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Multi-media artist living near Washington, DC, Jeff Bagato produces poetry and prose as well as electronic music and glitch video. Some of his poetry and visuals have recently appeared in Empty Mirror, Futures Trading, Otoliths, Gold Wake Live, Chiron Review, and Midnight Lane Boutique. Some short fiction has appeared in Gobbet and The Colored Lens. He has published nineteen books, all available through the usual online markets, including Savage Magic (poetry) and Computing Angels (fiction). A blog about his writing and publishing efforts can be found at http://jeffbagato.com.