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.
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.
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.
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.
and it didn’t kill you both.
It was more like humanity
than you imagined
and less like a playground
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.
it was more than almost.
You might never see him again
but you could always have husbands later.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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,
we don’t call them
gods any more
But we have religions and
A Long Sweet Line
In the 50’s, everybody believed
of good jobs
they believed the advertisements
They believed the power
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
So a new line of con
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
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.
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.
Trying to Get It Right
at my desk for hours, staring at page after page of hastily-scribbled poems,
these suitcases of loose paper, immolate my dreams
I haven’t the strength to let go.
notes, stories, books almost started and those almost finished
dissolve the part of me that was saved in those notes
hunched over my work, hours spent
drawing blue flowers, red flowers
black and white lines that should read more important than this.
eyes closed, to feel the rage from moments
fists unclench I know I’m
go through explain this
night after night
the constant questioning of my husband, his family
they all know the secrets of motherhood
they tell me, but don’t tell me anything I can use..
The Silence of the House Without Him
how can I tell my husband how much I love him, how much
every second we’re separated I think of him, think of the way he smells
of how often I think of the day we won’t be together, that I think about
how he’ll look when he wakes up to find me dead
how long do we have to be together before I can talk
about the things I wish would go on without me?
Around in My Head
dream in kaleidoscopic bits,
so hot, unfurls into something I know
what you want, man-child, wolf
almost burning–rip me up, make me know
clutched in its beak, I
love for fractions of seconds, wrap me in sick sweat, wolf
soft flesh beside me,
baby bird above me, wolf
touch the white skeleton man, push it up, I know
this creature, put it in my head, through my head,
take this burning I.
piece of scrap. metal flakes, a thin silver curl
an unconscious sculpture, an arm
moves overhead, a face, a flower, the magnet
still stained with blood, a steering column
sharp as a pin, a razor blade. wheels crush overhead
bending metal pinion around metal pinion
pulls the loose scrap up, a sharp edge
metal scrapes, drags against another metal
one second of realism. wheels
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big Muddy, The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies,and Ugly Girl. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), Northwoods Writer’s Festival (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press) will be out late 2018.
The Days Are Getting Shorter
“The future is fluid.”
Bricks line the city sidewalks
in protest of impending frost,
trees trashing their décor
in anticipation of the coming
Mornings have grown darker,
afternoons fleeting, evening’s
Night has fallen and refuses to
its stars among the dead and dying.
The forests are stifled into silence.
A collective lack
of energy permeates the landscape
and its sleepy populace,
bleeding life dry of its warmth.
Each breath gains visibility
as temperatures plummet,
ponds freezing slowly in plain view,
Days bringing with them
the guaranteed difficulty
of survival and sanity.
before tired eyes
can fully open,
yet sleep still escapes
the frigid and weary.
(Each sunset is a struggle.)
Plans are abandoned
to prepare for hibernation,
goals of modest grandeur all put on hold.
(To save the world
or to feed a family?)
Off the Bridge
I walk to South Boston in
the pouring rain,
the waterfront spitting in my face,
angels shedding stillborn tears
that erode the aging bridge.
My shoes are the first victims,
soaked in evening’s sweat,
rainwater and ocean air,
puddles engulfing my feet
at every street corner.
The flood continues as I
cross over the to the other side,
droplets dragging me into
cracks in the asphalt, open
wounds that only deepen with
the heavens spill their fluids
over pedestrians, grey clouds
dispersed across the firmament.
Cold wind is unapologetic, assaulting
neck, face, cheeks, splashing innocent
passers-by with relentless fury.
Hair on my head: the mane
of a wet dog lost amongst gutters
Eyes strain to see
through the storm
but to no avail.
Showers blind pedestrians,
the downpour continuing on
with no plans of ever
Cars toss waves onto the crowded sidewalk.
The umbrella is of no use,
but I couldn’t care less.
This is the best part of my day.
A Passing Storm
by modern industry:
millions seek technological salvation.
Christ weeps again.
(We are the unloved neighbors
whose domestic disputes can be heard
through the walls.)
The global village
has been introduced to force
women and children
scour the landscape for sustenance.
swarm the subways
while worlds away
are torn apart
in a frantic and desperate search
for order and certainty.
Cloud cover provides conversation
at the local street corner,
the entire Earth and its inhabitants
in a carnival of momentous occasions
and minor inconveniences,
a spectacle whose stories are carried on
by partial observers who believe
they’ve seen it all. The sky signals
rainfall. It darkens beneath rumors
of a benevolent creator.
By the time we can take it all in,
before we can make any sense of it,
the day has passed.
Listen to the requiem.
A slick layer of ice
coats the sidewalks,
thrown to the wet, cold concrete
after a single misstep,
an unfortunate lapse in judgment
regarding the next move
towards the semblance of stability.
I manage to avoid such fate
as others curse the Season,
blasphemies flowing like sweet
wine from their lips>
(I, too, have been guilty of this.)
The frozen ground does not respond
to its furious victims,
their expletives evaporating into the ether,
each obscenity as visible
as the breath it travels on.
Witnesses offer hesitant consolation,
the obligatory helping hand
outstretched towards a broken
provides no comfort.
With each collapse,
a shout of frustration,
all too familiar and sadly relatable.
(I, too, cry out for warmth.)
Clothing torn, ruined
by the remnants of the storm.
The day is off to a rough start.
But in the midst of tragedy,
a lesson learned:
a peculiar camaraderie
to be found in each minor misery.
Through the Fire
I will live to see another day.
I will wake in the morning
with passion in the window,
the sun striking my eyes
with light and love,
an honest will
enveloping the dark days
of this year’s winter.
I’ll bask in the glory of frigid moonlight,
howl at the dying stars,
lungs bursting with frost,
melt the frozen crystals
with the warmth
of an ambitious
I’ll stroll leisurely
into the future,
dive headfirst into every
embrace the fleeting
comfort of an ever-
rejoice in the shelter
of a lifeless forest,
spark a flame amidst
snowfall and barren limbs.
I’ll pass through the fire
of another sullen season,
sulk with satisfaction
through countless inevitable epiphanies,
drive each and every point home
until all notions have nowhere left
I’ll welcome the uncertainty of new paths,
float along the wind and waves
in search of fresh views,
hidden treasures to pass the time.
I’ll stumble across discoveries
yet to be realized,
indulge in the unexpected,
savor the unique sensation
that comes with deeply breathing.
I will live to see another day.
PJ Carmichael is a writer, noise musician, and outdoors enthusiast from Wakefield, Massachusetts. He finds himself alternating between immersion in the forestry of New England and observation of the sights and sounds of its cities. He is currently working on finding the balance between vice and virtue.