A Poem by Anu Mahadev

fair & lovely

pink. the wallpaper.
the dresses. the dolls.
chapstick, cherry flavor.
bracelets, earrings, bows.
the perfume, mom’s vanity.
maybe that designer dress?
no, it is too expensive.

teen vogue. cute boys.

diet pills. acne cream.
crushes. photogenic angles.
smile more. frown less.
cross my legs.
can I cut my hair?
no, grow it out.
but be sure to shave.

nail polish. pink doesn’t
suit me any more. am i
playing too much in the sun?
don’t — you’ll get too dark.
i might need a fairness cream.
but i must play indoors and run —
or i’ll get too fat. i don’t care
if models are airbrushed, i want
to look like that! you, hah!

reality check, you’re all brain.
stop looking in the mirror. let’s
get a dictionary for an 8-year-old.
understand ‘ugly’ ‘fat’ ‘ordinary’.
keep your eyes to the ground.

I am a 2016 graduate of the MFA in Poetry program at Drew University. I am part time editor of Jaggery Lit online and Woman Inc online. My work has appeared in a few journals: Reinventing Myths and Colors of Refuge.

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Three Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Everything Red for the Queen

​Everything is red
in the kingdom of the queen.
Matador hat with barnacles,
witch white hair to the shoulders,
tickling the breast.
In her eyes are the blood shot
of many vampires;
in her heart the daggers
of many soldiers.
Five inky fingers
cross her throat
like an ill-fitted necklace.
Her dress is like heart charms,
scales of fish dripping
blood toward her toes.
Withy, twists around her throat.
Anglers of the court toss hooks
toward her cherry red lips,
capture the moment
of the haze of purple
surrounding her head.
Everything is red
in the kingdom of the queen.
Death changes colors from red to blue.

The March of the Emperor Penguins

Emperor Penguins never set feet on land,
straight up their feet on ice, tuxedo’s with short feathers
overlapped, waterproofed, inner down layers insulated with air.
Heads bobble fat fannies waddle, the march to the homeland begins.
70 miles the clan walks and slides away from the sea and back to the sea.
70 miles into the darkest, driest and coldest continent, Antarctica cradles up the South Pole.
High step, searching for partners for one year, away from predators, the mating party begins.
Mutual sex they turn check format a goal, breed their young, months of illness, hurt, struggles, isolation, separation face in the winter the great white ghost of death.
Starvation is a 2-way trip the male is the mother 120 days, mother goes for food-
at one point tough they all must go back to the ocean and sea.
Emperor Penguins they dance and huddle.
Back they go to the ice, to the flow, and sea 50/50, millions of years ago.

Whispers from the Grave
(Heart Attack 50 years of age)

What happened to 20 acres of farmland tilted toward sun angles,
those sharp stone edges cool fall comes
frost fields covered taking ownership of rented, abused, abandoned land−
10 years Phil has been gone, DeKalb, Illinois farmer.

Did he find salvation in those gold cornfields?
October orange colors, hayrides, and pumpkin harvest
of grey, grave bones buried near the deadly bicycle ride.
Mystery did his lover Betsy
(defense, prosecuting attorney, Elgin, Illinois)
stand by his site after she went through mourning,
the grandstanding at the wake at the farm,
the dimming of all candles, incenses, and memorial shrine
she held sacred within her bedroom walls, now faded.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 935 small press magazines in 29 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.

A Poem by Dime Maziba

Death in my Yard

The gloomful intruder
Lumbered in the forcourt of fears.
Unfading footsteps of blood
Has left sorrow in our longing heart.

secular poetry rain
was spluttering over the roof of life,
Beseeching the deaf ears of death.
‘’we beg you!we beg you!’’
oh!
Rhetoric doesn’t persuade
The curtains of death
nor pay the bill of breath

tomorrow,
I will jot poetry in my language
with hieroglyphics signs
and harlem writing style
to hush machine-gun fire
of my torn soul.

I write this poem in a dim night
Of a winter cold because poetry is
Like a roaring lion calling his lioness from
The den of his words
But Misunderstood by flying birds
Who report to ears of the wind,
The anger of carnivores.

Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dime Maziba is a Pan-Africanist oratory. He is a poet, writer and political activist. He is also a Financial Accounting student from Durban university of technology (Dut) in South Africa where he is currently based.

Two Poems by Andrew Scott

​Pay Remembrance

I have walked this hill since 1994
and every year after this I will continue
to visit my lost brother in arms

We met in the Korean hills during battle
as our Canadian regiment fought
together in taking Hill 677 in Kap’yong

Times of fighting like that
for what you believe in
make men inseparable

We made a pact with each other in ‘53
that we would meet each year to pay remembrance
and this we did, just the two of us
changing homes each time, his then mine

Always wearing actual fatigues
sitting in a nearby field
by each other’s homes
being left alone by our families
so we could have the time that only we understood

When he passed on after leading a good life
he wanted to be buried in one of our fields
there were not poppies here before
mysteriously they grew over time
I always thought so everyone would know who he is
and pay remembrance to Private Samuel Allen
as I do every year.

Unsafe Haven

I stand at this once solid threshold
to my safe have of yesterday
that today is torn, tattered, gone
memories in shambles, scattered everywhere

The wind, rain swept everything away
photographs, furniture destroyed
water soaked walls caved in
power stopped all flickering hope

There is no light at the end of the tunnel
years of rebuild for my family
from just moments of nature’s destruction

My hands do not even know where to start
what gives the best beginning foundation
to make the future even solid

Nothing will bring back living room memories
kitchen, family all day cook outs

No restful nights of sleep
always waiting for the next wave
that will take another pillar
of this unsafe haven of mine
where I will never be able to sleep again.

Andrew Scott is a native of Fredericton, NB. During his time as an active poet, Andrew Scott has taken the time to speak in front of a classrooms, judge poetry competitions as well as published worldwide in such publications as The Art of Being Human, Battered Shadows and The Broken Ones. His books, Snake With A Flower, The Phoenix Has Risen, The Path and The Storm Is Coming are available now.

Three Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

This is how you devour misgivings

Denmark sets sail, my feelings inside you,
ploys of easy ridicule and handsome plunder
disintegration of flamethrower youth
a winter’s dusting, a baker’s dusting
jive poppycock verandas eating the night sky
shadow things lead away in tandem
spools of joy unwound with naked art house predilection
chauffeurs without cars drive on
the swelling sea, distended belly aches
gutted fisheries in the Talmudic tradition
acts of pocketbook elation in city streets
damsels of a triple falsehood painted up
like amusement parks
town criers in their infant cribs
graffiti armies with finger to can, my aerosol heart
an ocean away
in never ending crates the bearded dockhands loath
peering through the slats to appease distant curiosities
the company of stout ale and foul mouthed floozies
a coloured piano man in the corner tickling the ivory
of poached elephants
WHAT A SCENE!, even doom off the schneid
trap doors with silver filings playing at double speed
and Lady Copenhagen, the wind chimes of a simple tune:
smelting pits, arousal, more excuses.

 

Inside Out

she stuttered
into the white thirsty silence
of never speaking
forest critters
from under the nails
after a long
winter
and the church bell to the south
rang six times
as though five were
not enough
the colostomy bag
filling like a room full
of smoke
her mother’s wet river lips
kissing her forehead
then a folded cool white
cloth
as the cooing doves
outside
remained heard
and never
seen.

Shift Premium

She took a yellow feather duster
to the vase
and the flowers began to laugh
their colour

painting the walls and tables
of housekeeping
with a maddening yellowish-orange
euphoria

and the carpet grew roots
nestling her naked feet
in a way she had not been held
in years

(not by man or woman
or life)

and the tub
filled with swimming pools
of water

so that
she was a lifeguard
and not a cleaning
lady

and the toilet
could scrub
itself.


Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, Clockwise Cat, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Two Poems by Scott Thomas Outlar

​Packing a Punch

Not every poem
has to hit a homerun
pertaining to the wit
with which it is presented.

It is not perfection
that is expected,
only the pursuit thereof.
 

 
A Rage Most Sublime

She dances with Shiva –
a controlled frenzy
taken to the furthest edge
of a precarious precipice,
laughing with thunder,
alive with electric chaos
pulsing through each
burning tendril, tantalizing,
reaching out to touch
the distance we cannot fathom…

She screams with a nuclear reaction–
a crazed momentum
careening past the urge to cease,
giving way to fervent temptations,
stretching out to taste the Beast,
seized by silent surrender,
and Revelation is
a sacrifice to the gods of war
who want more, more, more,
demanding blood at the altar…

She is the dripping chalice –
a chosen huntress
roaring with the scales of judgment,
passing righteous verdicts
rendered nightly from the moon
as waves crash, cancelling
the holy tide; the truth survives
in shards, splintered, sent off
through refracted realms of darkness
with promises of resurrection come the dawn…

 

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, and books can be found. He recently received three Pushcart Prize nominations for his work in 2016. Scott serves as an editor at Walking Is Still Honest Press, The Blue Mountain Review, The Peregrine Muse, and Novelmasters.

A Poem by Trust Tonji

​beginning from the end

some begin living
when air quits passing
through their nostrils

when they have a room
under the earth
in a bottle
in a carefully carved coffin
when they are ashes dancing
with the waves that hop
the roses thrown at them

so we swallow the truth
and let it dissolve like ice cream
into our souls: ‘some feet will
pass through the door
and never return through it’

we might have to see them
through mementos, pictures, clothing,
a door, our breath,
through every meal that tastes
like them & disappear into
an abyss down the throat
through memories that wake up
the noisy shadows of déjà vu
through every pulse in us that

 

replicates dances we once shared
reminding us of
how we will one day walk
 without our heads
live
 without our lungs
& not even a gun will make us run

so this is the genesis of shit:

how we lost our loved ones
& loved our lost ones
how we are incenses
burning in the lungs of time

 

Trust Tonji writes from Porto Novo, Benin Republic.