The Brightening Air

Eric G. Wilson

Chartreuse gown
iconic as Harlow
between songs you smoke
your bedroom flickers
my sonnet on dahlias
the hyaline dawn

As Soon As Possible in the Past

Jeff Griffin

Stuffed animals left a knife smell
we stick on the asphalt. I suggested no

such half-toothed smile. Warm
drink, arrogant beauty—

possibilities of night, deserted
hallways. It was—

 it was not her.

A blonde started throat dancing.
I dance, I did, I dance, I do a little.

Light, chewing sound of copper pennies
being run through the mouth. I found

myself licking the motel window.
Air thick with burning feathers.

Tape the door closed, tomorrow
will take all day.

Ontology

A. Molotkov

A bullet-size hole
in my chest; my best

attempts at love escape. A story
of wrong doors opened

in a wrong order. A multiple

choice test. A towel I left
on the beach

the morning
my mother ran out of air.

Turn Around

Peter Munro

Let me repent my god and die.
Without a woman I am not.
I offered everything. It bought
me nothing. In the church of thigh

and idyll, she strips. But her sighs
betray the worship I have sought.
Let me repent my gods and die.
Without a woman I am not

nothing yet my praise seems a lie,
empty as wind in a chime, caught
briefly in sound like a blood clot
snags on what a spirit denies.
Let me repent, O Lord, and die.

Sans

Jennifer Wortman

HaShem mans a mean sea.
A name’s a seam.
A seaman’s ash: amen, shema.
Mama smashes manna.

American Émigré

John Sibley Williams

The fence that wrapped our field
has collapsed from bolting horses &
the steady weight of winter. Barbs
no longer snag our jeans or bloody
our hands when we flee the burning
that is home. Small signal fires light
the hills red. Another country some-
where out there promises a peace it
cannot possibly keep. Repeat after
me: the cities we’ll build on the ruin
of other cities will shimmer & shine
before they fall.

July the 4th

John Sibley Williams

We’re lying down in a buzzcut field
watching gut-shot night sparkle &
shower us all in a hot fizzled glow.
Hiding inside ourselves as children
unsure how a country works. Rifts
excised for an hour. The distraction
of awe. Watching miniature flags
flap fiercely on thin plastic sticks.
Even the statues are forgetting their
lost battles. Moss is forgetting how
to hold the stone walls in place. So
much blue up there, our daughter
says. & reds, but together.

Tonka

Salvatore Difalco

It grew increasingly clear over time, despite small victories along the way, that I was coming out a loser. This distressed me because I had always envisaged myself as a winner. If you’re resigned to being a loser, then it’s easier to digest. If you have somehow fooled yourself, or others have fooled you, into believing you’re a winner when the opposite is proving true, life can become a monstrous drag. And what makes it even more of a drag is that even though you’re always entering the fray with the best hand, with the technical or mathematical edge, the underdogs are coming out on top, arms raised, the crowd cheering them on, almost every single time. It leads to despair. But you have to push on. You can’t just hit a restart button. Even jumping from an eighth floor balcony requires some forethought. You have to consider the pain, shattered bones, horrified passing children or seniors, and the trauma to the apartment building itself. And what if by some miracle you survive such a fall. Surely you’d be a drooling vegetable, loathsome to look at, a burden on family and society. If things were fair, and the odds weren’t always being bucked, life may have been different. But you can only play with the toy truck of “what if” for so long before your maturity or sanity comes into question. Let’s go to the balcony and reach back our arm and hurl that toy truck across the street. Let’s also hope that no children or seniors coincide with its trajectory.

At Dusk

Kristen Havens

Walking at dusk, wild
flowers fry on the gray-green
back of a world half

asleep. The sun sets
fire on car fenders while in
kitchens cutlery

clinks. A show bell rings.
Dogs call out in their yards: Hey
pal, you hear that? Hey

hey, hey. Shaking voice
boxes at the fading day.
Hey hey, hey. Hey hey.

Transformation

Britny Cordera

Kore is me in the eyes of my dream.
Rivers are my first mirrors
a game of pass-the-rumors to leaves
in the wind, my first telephone––

 in this dream, caked in the back

of the skull, speckled cobwebs
are the night sky I watch
my airplanes dance ’round Venus
like a ceremonial feather spinning
circles to a mourning mother’s expectations––

I hear orchids growing from my nails
and rejoice the day the dark man stole me.

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