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 lamplit underground 

   32:2

 By Zachary Adler

After it has quieted

One can hear 

Sails and flags winded

And hungry gulls

But not the others

Lamenting in the depths

 

As the butchers raise their gaffs

And the boatswain watches with empty eyes

And the able seamen continue their story

And the young deckhand fingers his baleen necklace

As the butchers flense

And the visiting politician shivers under his slack smile

And his visiting wife quivers in her corset

And the captain is not even looking

As the butchers flense

And the beast, breathless, quakes

And the grinning chaplain speaks a verse from Ezekiel

And a red wave washes over all the people

- their boots

As a butcher wipes his hands on the pages of a weekly newspaper

 

Somewhere back on America

A man reads the same newspaper

Pince-nez

Squinting in the fading sunlight

And moves to light his lamp

Adelaide Hautval, "Friend of The Jews"

                                      By Zachary Adler

It's the color of urine
And they pinned it on with a hand so heavy
That the skin broke above my breast
Bleeding through

The star points dried brown
The same color as this place
A shit brown
That gets under your fingernails
And gets matted in the hair of little girls
Ground into the wrinkles of the elderly women
Crying in languages I can't understand
Crying for their sons
Or for water
So I give them water
Boiled water and black bread dark enough
That we won't see the flecks of dirt and excrement

The ladies help me start furtive fires
So naked we can warm our clothes
Hot enough for all the fleas to burn
And in those moments
I'm careful not to singe my badge because
I'm proud of what it says

       Space

          By Christina Thatcher

It was the summer that men first walked on the moon.

Women felt the feet on their faces as the astronauts

with their flags, suggested they knew what Venus was.
 
Men became grander that day, collectively. Secrets
revealed themselves. Things became theirs.
American boys mounted their wives and girlfriends.
The world was viral, high on the power that
 
radiated from their television screens. 

Christina Thatcher is an American graduate of the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing MA program at Cardiff University. While studying, she fell in love with Wales and now runs creative writing workshops for at-risk youth and vulnerable community members across the Valleys. Her poetry has recently been published in The London Magazine, Neon Literary Magazine, and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, among others, and is forthcoming in Dream Catcher Magazine. To learn more about her work please visit her website: https://collectingwords.[removed]wordpress.com/ or follow her on Twitter @writetoempower.

   Peach

By Christina Thatcher

She  was  ripe  when  he  met

her, all warm  pinks  and soft

yellows.     He    touched    her

gently,   felt   the   fine    hairs

along her skin and  smoothed

his     fingers,    one     by    one,

against   her  rounded  curves.

She    was    the    freshest     he

could   find.    He   sought   her

out     because    she    had    no

bruises,  no   impressions.   She

delighted,     quietly,     in     his

attention  and  made  only  the

slightest       pfft       when      he

pierced  her  skin  and   sucked

out her innards. 

Awake, awake!

                          By Andrew Staiti

From shuttered windows and barred doors
Too close to take, too close to take!
They called us criminals, they called us whores.
 
But what of the father? What of the daughter? What of the family cat?
But what of why? What of when? What of this and that?
The doors creak open with a crack
Be sure to wear your mask!
 
Outside the moon glows a pale and sickly light
Inside the sheets are stained with red to cover up the white
What of the father? What of the daughter? What have they done to deserve this?
No time to wonder why, God’s not the only one who heard this! 

A Trip to the Circus

                 ByJorrell Watkins

Eleven years ago I was there.

 

Striped cloth ceilings fixed to steel poles,

Worn grass soft as cotton candy

a sweet marmalade of bliss,

effervesce in cheeks from amusement.

 

Jesters: tall, short and distorted.

Brilliant colored boats for shoes

matched striped attire and Rudolph nose,

contrasted with their chalk powered faces.

 

Exotic beast: lethal and gentle.

Mane wild and furious,

chainsaw claws and sickle-shaped smiles

A leather whip challenged him.

Bursts of exploding sound sprang,

 

I decided to close my eyes.

 

Air was manipulated with style.

Slender, nimble beings folded and twisted.

Gravity paused as aviators moved;

coursing through obstacle and space.

 

I opened my eyes again.

 

Evening came, the buses followed.

Children packed like envelops,

we were being mailed back home.

 

I haven't been there since.

Jorrell Watkins is a Richmond native who is currently studying creative writing and Africana Studies at Hampshire College.

In night’s embrace I am invisible.

Fatigue bears me to sleep’s castle

            whose blood moat repels yesterday.

 

I dream retribution.

 

Ashen fallout indicts me that I am

            the second wife.

My anemic defense to the grey man

            is a spurious alibi I don’t accept.

My face in the toaster snarls

I am second in line,

            the next best thing.

 

I need to vacuum, but this is winter.

Dust balls can propagate in this prison

            like the dead blossoms blown

            into the corners of my desire.

 

Night has drained the noxious moat,

            but it will fill again today.

I will cross it tonight,

            and tomorrow’s night,

As a thousand yesterdays yield

            to night and sleep and explanations

            of what I might have done.

About Susan

  By Phillip Tim Williams

Echoes of Waking

         By Phillip Tim Williams

Against a chalk cliff fall echoes

                                                of distress.

                        The strong man, relieved of his iron,

                                    waits for the changing moon

            to cycle its prescient whispers

                                                of life foretold,

                                                                          forestalled,

                                                forlorn.

Glad is the day not past enough

                                                to disappoint

                                                                        when savored.

            We sup a tasteless brew, and long

                        for thirstless mornings

                                                and nights deprived

                                    of waking.

The ceiling a wall no picture adorns

                        reflects a face dreams

                                                have evacuated.

            Twice mourned, the weary soul

                                                sidles past for libations

                                    some sideboard somewhere

                                                            may provide.

It is snowing again, and few

                                    will notice the rake

                        leaving traces of grass

                                    among the sidewalk cracks,

                        where bare feet will in summer find

                                                                        a pebble or two.

Phillip Tim Williams has had a pretty good life in Richmond, Virginia. He makes his living as a masseur, and as a life model for art classes.

Outer-Salt

  By Charley Seattle

my cheek follows
your ribs to the red fist 
of a Jupiter-spot sunset
 
between bodythings—
we’re legged nooses,
wavy puckers
 
of the sound’s exhales—
meaning your spine
curls a blue horizon—
 
meaning the rain
pulls your back beneath
my thorned fingertips
 
& grassy tongue reeds
beg you to break me
through shore. & here
 
darkwash clouds skirt
your bedroom ceiling,
coupled fog orange street-
 
lights bronze uncovered
limbs. our osprey wings.
damp feathers of a thing
 
we might find mercurial
fevers braided in our lungs
but that is not definite
 
or desire which rings
a lazy Saturn at our hips
of impossible: can you choose
 
only one want, is it possible.
i need to know the ospreys
soar sad chords after
 
the metal storm, do they buckle
like tin roofs dipped
by salt-knuckled hail
 
it is safe to want things,
the ineffable, all vague palms
turned up, asking for—

Dear Lola,

By Charely Seattle

we can’t just go on starving in the corner in our satin organza nightie—

lace bandages hem like sugar chainlink, all sweet mesh fence swings

past our knees. what’s woven began thorned with the duskhowls of men.

nothing for us to knit like rain. oh, Lola. if my voice spoke cotton, instead,

maybe your mist skins wouldn’t purple-stain with our thumbprints—

maybe you would peak from the doorframe of my pearled ribs,

curl a step like clock’s minute tick toward these offered wings. maybe you’d go.

but you say  press your eat to the floorboards. they still murmur

blood’s tiny explosions, anger’s furied metallic writhing circle:

this kettle room boils over landmines and jaws. nothing safe

in toe-ing the grains. listen. and i hear while your thumbnail digs

into that stiff callous on our pinky so often i sometimes don’t notice

our cheeks bit to marbled veins—pretty orchid mouth torn

by its tired roots, your feet bolted to the floor. drywall’s pindrop

holes breathe open       small pupils seep tar and ink and you can’t

move, still, you’re waiting for silence Lola, but it’s on the other side

you say I might drown, statu-ed here, might but this feels better

than walking planked oak’s severed throats. everything burst open

from a paintbrush of wildflowers: hand-mixed vibrancy of familial shed.

i’m safe away, safe when i’m placed away so you don’t try to love me

& make me leave. but you’re there in the doorframe, your head barely to my hip,

wilted halo shoulders       chin blinks to chest   Lola, how do i ask

your deep space eyes, wide star-crossed plates, if they’ll let me feed us?

we are more than our fathers’ pasts:     sweet silver neap tide this side

of a velvet moon. we can find the gentle move. we can share a whole soft teal.

there exists enough body for the weights of our sadness. come here, into my arms.