Free Verse with Vera Ignatowitsch
Swimming in Antarctica
How she accepts it. How she enters willingly
into the cold. How her skin, almost immediately,
becomes cold as the water is, her body’s heat
pushed deep down under, to protect
her internal organs, which flush with blood, and float
like fish in some warm Mesozoic ocean
as her heartbeat thunders round them, as they move,
just for now, companionable, together.
She sees penguins on the dipping, rising shore
and people bundled up who look like penguins,
black against the snow. Her back up team
lean from their inflatables as she threshes water
up like bed sheets, speeding, swimming faster
than she ever swam before, to generate
more warmth, to stay alive, then something
shifting inside her as she starts to swim
straight out to sea, moving so fast they
can do nothing now but watch her slip away.
First published in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.
Ciarán Parkes lives in Galway, Ireland. His poems have been published in The Rialto, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Threepenny Review, and other places. He writes song lyrics for the Galway band, This Lunar Mansion.
Give me your abalone-ear:
Listen to the hushed voices babbling as
Blue-shelled baby fingers might reach for precious baubles.
A hanging mobile still swiftly spinning, until mother returns with
Bare breast for suckling sweet milk, until
Stomach is sick from doing this
Protean performance. She wriggles, wormlike and warm
Beneath the winter sun.
It cuts harsh lines across your face with
Ice-gold rays. A paltry woman is she, meager while her
Quick hands stroke green fronds awaiting spring.
Pine-dark sea still churning, hungry for
Sailors drunk on honey-wine. One falls out, tips
Overboard so stiffly and calls out to his comrade, now
Laugh with me, as the sea opens its angry mouth.
Siren begins singing. Gentle-sounding, like a
Nun’s bells. One tips her shaved head in prayer, her
Red beads rattle in hilltop temple.
The prayer slips out, quiet, into
Motionless black night.
Echo returns, falling into bearded
Heaven’s lap. Together, turning heads upwards, they watch the
Solar eclipse. Now, corpse-white corona
Hissing flails its arms around the black sun-eye.
Spider lily crawling, grows in a
Glass greenhouse kept warmer than is natural. So that
Outside, the barren earth surrenders to frost, while the gardener is busy
Tending to his precious perennials.
Emily Tsai is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland,
College Park. This is her first publication.
My Dreaming Lady
My dreaming lady,
cameo of perfection,
I love your lips,
revelations of evolution,
they have lured me
with their fine lines
and perfect creases
tender to touch
with tongue, lips,
a silent “oh”
from these wonders
and I’m undone;
a silent “oh” is
all it takes, is
kneeling before you
your patience to awake;
like a lamb of sacrifice
awaiting the grace
of your fatal hand.
Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener Creative Journal, POETALK, The Comstock Review, Better Than Starbucks, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and Fiction, and others, including a few anthologies. He has also been a Pushcart nominee.
Before the Fog Cleared
On Valley Drive near 15th Street
sits what we call the tot lot.
Swings and sandpits have not changed—
young mothers sit on the same shaded patch of grass
while wobbly little legs scatter about.
It has taken me fifteen years to walk by
that chain-linked fence
without dragging those black years behind me
when autism clung to me
in the arms of my son.
God, I wish I had known then
that he would turn out okay.
I could have sat my younger self down on a bench
where each minute of play was therapy,
and tilted her face to the sky,
read to her piles of his poetry,
told her how he reads and reads,
pounds the basketball in the alley,
skateboards with the neighborhood boys,
dreaming of a global studies degree,
and those arms, I would tell her,
still wrap around me,
just a deeper voice now,
telling me not to worry, not to nag,
he can do it now, all on his own.
Jennie Linthorst’s poetry has appeared in Bluestem Magazine, Edison Literary Review, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Forge, Kaleidoscope, Literary Mama, and more. Her poetry books are Silver Girl and Autism Disrupted: A Mother’s Journey of Hope. Visit her website at www.lifespeakspoetrytherapy.com.
‘They is, they is, they is.’
“Bullet in the Brain,” Tobias Wolff
like stars that realize they’ve already died
and peripherally burn;
a sacrosanct illusion for astronomers
knowing that looking through telescopes
each day is better than
the hangover of someone asking for help
without the safety of the lens;
1/4th smile and a twitching eye
and then there’s
and an awkward
and no one really knows what to do
but keep on walking
and walking and wondering
who could I blame more than myself for that?
On the rooftops of swollen nights
we watch stars die
and peripherally burn
through city streets at dusk
your 16 oz McDonalds cups
empty like an atom held in a hand.
Some ask politely
but we prefer the musicality of fuck you
as rain taps its foot along to a cup of quarters.
I gave a man my lunch;
he looked disappointed;
so did I.
James Steck lives in Washington, DC. He sketches, performs at open mics, and enjoys sitting on his fire escape watching commuters. His poetry and drawings have appeared in Goat’s Milk Magazine, The Odd Magazine, The Wild Word, With Painted Words, and others.
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