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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
By Phillip Tim Williams
Echoes of Waking
By Phillip Tim Williams
Against a chalk cliff fall echoes
The strong man, relieved of his iron,
waits for the changing moon
to cycle its prescient whispers
of life foretold,
Glad is the day not past enough
We sup a tasteless brew, and long
for thirstless mornings
and nights deprived
The ceiling a wall no picture adorns
reflects a face dreams
Twice mourned, the weary soul
sidles past for libations
some sideboard somewhere
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.
By Charley Seattle
my cheek follows
your ribs to the red fist
of a Jupiter-spot sunset
we’re legged nooses,
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—
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.