Strings, by Ivor Steven

Strings
by Ivor Steven

I’m singing a song, about you
Singing words, both wistful and true
From my heart to my soul, the veins
They’re as tight as violin strings
I needed you, to take my hand
Take my hand and show me the way
Show me the way, to a formal debut
Show me the way, into your dancing shoes

I needed you, to take my dreams
Take my dreams and show me how to behave
Show me the way, to your family home
Show me how to drink, from your holy grail
I needed you, to take my open heart
Take my heart and show me how to pray
Show me the way, into your world
Show me how to fly, in your milky way

I needed you, to write some heavenly notes
Take my violin and show me how to play
Show me the way, to your harp’s wings
Show me the way, into your heartstrings

Ivor Steven, is a part-time plumber, former Industrial Chemist, and now a serious writer of poetry. He has had numerous poems (not books) published, in on-line magazines. He is an active member of the Geelong Writers Inc., and recently Ivor was appointed to the ‘Go Dog Go Cafe’s’ writing team, as one of their new Baristas.

Growing Together, by Mark Tulin

Growing Together
by Mark Tulin

We are both flowers on a summer day
Growing together
Absorbing the effervescent sun
Birds drifting in levitation
Our souls are rooted in a field of green
Our delicate petals opening, curving
Expanding upward to the universe
Bees buzzing innocently around us
Hummingbirds drinking our nectar
All of nature approving of us
We are in harmony with the earth
Celebrating our love in the morning
Amidst the reds, purples, and golds.

Mark Tulin is a former family therapist from Philadelphia who lives in Santa Barbara, California. Mark has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace available on Amazon. He has an upcoming book of fiction, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories available in August of this year. Mark has been featured in The Creativity Webzine, Amethyst Review, Poppy Road Review, Visitant, Oddball Magazine, New Readers Magazine, as well as anthologies, magazines, and podcasts. You can follow Mark at Crow On The Wire, twitter@ Crow_writer; Instagram: crowonthewire_poet.

Strangers, by Emil Sinclair

Strangers
by Emil Sinclair

Strangers
they met
talked books
music
love
touched close
closer still
saw clear through
to bone
too much
white
drifted
argued
no more
touching
talking
strangers
once again

“Emil Sinclair” is the pen name of a sometime poet and full-time professor of philosophy in New York City. His poetry has appeared in both online and print venues, while his philosophical musings have yielded two published books and numerous articles, squirreled away in various obscure academic and popular journals.

Searching, by Paula Bonnell

Searching
by Paula Bonnell

You are like a candle with a body of the most chaste wax.
I have seized you and gone out to look in the haymow.
In this broad daylight I have not even allowed you a flame.
And I have spent the afternoon here in the barn, groping.
It is getting dark, so now I will touch you with a match.

I stop a moment to look at your flame.
It is sere, it is nothing – but all at one place.
It gives a tolerable heat, this little all-at-once.
Imagine! If I dropped you in the hay
you might set off hissings
that would bring down the barn.
But I have you safely in hand
And am simply thankful for the glow.
It is like a little needle and it shows me the hay.

When Mark Jarman chose Paula Bonnell’s Airs & Voices & Voices for a Ciardi Prize, she stopped practicing law. Her poems have appeared in APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle and elsewhere, aired on The Writer’s Almanac, and in three collections: Message, her debut, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet, and tales retold. http://www.paulabonnell.net

Consecutive Nights, by Paula Bonnell

Consecutive Nights
by Paula Bonnell

Combat, entrapments.
You showed me where the piranhas are –
mincemouths, separators –
and the alligators –
as food, one goes all of a gulp.
You chose the alligators.
I the piranhas.
Could it matter which prevailed?
Rapacities or refusals, both burp up
jagged insomnia, guilt.
You said it:
Every answer is wrong.
The only respite is alcohol, skimming and flying,
the triumph and forgetfulness of speed.

Soy dinner, vegetable farts.
Driving home through the dark,
we are all together,
not antagonists, not exacting lovers.
We are friends and friends to each other’s friendship.
The headlights are pale horizontals,
the tree trunks pale verticals,
it is all a weaving.
We come to the house in the woods
where the lake is a concentration of silver.
In it, the island and its reflection float,
rare black tulips, up and down;
peace, peace, like the meat in a nut –
reflection, enclosure, sleep.

Author’s note: My sources are my experience and observations; nothing in these poems is borrowed from other people’s work. Reading literature is a writer’s education, its most important lesson being to write in your own way.

When Mark Jarman chose Paula Bonnell’s Airs & Voices & Voices for a Ciardi Prize, she stopped practicing law. Her poems have appeared in APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle and elsewhere, aired on The Writer’s Almanac, and in three collections: Message, her debut, and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet, and tales retold. http://www.paulabonnell.net

Syrian Wedding Ghazal, by Alan Walowitz

Syrian Wedding Ghazal
by Alan Walowitz

Four guest rabbis set out on the parchment the caterer’s men have laid and smoothed
like a putting green; then the cantor holding the mike, now not the nightclub singer

he started out to be, but a fellow making love, shyly courting Him in a window
above. As he advances side to side, his Hebrew Beauty and the Beast fades, folds into

Sunrise, Sunset arranged for strings alone. And here come the olds—the Jiddohs,
the Siddohs–and violins make the tearful Klezmer mold itself ‘round a Mizrahi syncopate.

Now a gasp, the little girls throw those bold colors to the ground with each studied pose
and a smaller boy in miniature tux, obedient but frozen now, even as his mother pleads–

he won’t be cajoled—she sweeps him up before he turns more sad than sweet.
Then, many retainers–maids, matrons, groomsmen, ushers, assorted honorees, —

all happy by profession or disposition as each holds a momentary mid-aisle pose.
The groom with his parents, who’ve forsaken second spouses for this resplendent event;

then the bride, ah! almost forgot, accompanied by Dad, Mom, half step behind,
but such a glow. Whose wedding is this? Though we’ve been told, we might not know,

as the groom comes to behold, choose his bride, join the legions that have stood beneath
the canopy, enrolled–happy or not–in this enterprise they likely won’t get out alive.

Process Notes: On a rare occasion, I’ve attended an Orthodox Jewish wedding and found myself sitting alone among the men, as my wife sat on the other side with the women. This always feels a bit odd to me, but also seems the perfect time to take notes for a poem. Despite my natural cynicism, this one was really quite an event, the bride lovely, the groom handsome, and the food and drink sumptuous. (Jiddohs and Siddohs, by the way, are Grandpas and Grandmas in Arabic, transliterated as best I can.)

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published in 2017 by Osedax Press, and his full-length, The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, published in 2019, is available from Truth Serum Press.

Return to Realism (1st of February 2020), by Michael J Leach

Return to Realism
(1st of February 2020)

by Michael J Leach

I drive into the heart
of the storm
just to see you
           in person
on just another Day

of Saturn.
Everything & everyone
other than you in this stormy satiny milieu
is mostly just a distraction
from what actually matters

to me.
As rain falls on my vehicle,
I resolutely resolve
to never endeavour
to compare you to
anything or anyone
other than you
unless you ask me to

in person.
As I finally pull up
at your rustic rural residence,
I can already see myself
pulling up a seat across from you
at your wooden kitchen table

and forgetting
everything & everyone
other than you
to the sound of the storm
raging outside.

Process note: I composed this poem in my head on Saturday the 1st of February 2020 while driving into a storm to spend the weekend with my partner, who lives over three hour’s drive from my house. Late that night, the words resurfaced and filled the first page of my new writing journal.

Michael J Leach is an Australian poet and researcher whose poems have appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Meniscus Literary Journal, The Medical Journal of Australia, The Mathematical Intelligencer, the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and elsewhere. His love poem ‘The Everyday Arts and the Everlasting Muse’ can be found in the In Case of Emergency Press anthology One Surviving Poem: Forty-Two Poets Select the Poem they Most Want to Survive. Michael’s first poetry collection – a chapbook – is forthcoming from Melbourne Poets Union.

Advice For Josh On The Last Girl He’ll Break Up, With by Kathleen Latham

Advice For Josh On The Last Girl He’ll Break Up With
by Kathleen Latham

She will talk too much or too little about all the wrong things.
She will flirt with your friends or text you too much or act as if
         she’s only there because she’s doing you a favor.
She’ll hate Springsteen. Or the Red Sox. She won’t like your cat.
She’ll be pretty and nice but mind-numbingly boring.
Or she’ll be reckless and scary but good in bed, like an out-of-control
         carnival ride—all careening lights and screaming brakes and fun
         while it lasts until she hurts you or you hurt her or you both give up
         at the same time.
Or worse—trust me, worse—she will be brilliant and witty and
         far better looking than you.
She’ll love your mom. And run marathons.
She’ll feed the homeless and teach Sunday school and donate half
         her income to UNICEF and half her hair to Locks of Love.
She’ll be a supermodel, pediatric brain surgeon.
But still—still—you will lie beside her late at night and wonder
         what is wrong with you, wonder why it’s not enough, why
         she’s not enough, and you will stare at your ceiling with the
         amazing food she has cooked in your stomach or the carnival ride
         sex coursing through your veins and you will numbly follow
         the changing of the traffic light that shines through your window
         red to green to yellow to red—stop go slow, stop go slow—
         and you’ll think about settling, only you won’t call it that, you
         won’t use that word, because she is pretty and kind or a thundering
         roller coaster and you are waiting to see where it takes you
         and settling is so arrogant, right, like what makes you such a catch,
         and the light will keep changing and your doubt will keep growing
         and you’ll have the inescapable feeling that you’re running out
         of time or asking all the wrong questions and just when the weight
         of uncertainty threatens to crush you…I want you to stop.
         Stop worrying and wondering and analyzing and guessing.
Because one day, just around the corner, in your same but different life,
         I promise you, promise you, you will meet the woman who comes next.
And in that nearly now, you will lie in your bed watching her sleep—
         her breath a whisper on your cheek—and your mind will be
         quiet and your heart will be full and the only thing the traffic light
         outside your window will keep track of is your silent prayer to time:
         Stop. Go Slow.
Wait for her. Wait for that.

Kathleen Latham is a native Californian who’s been living in the Boston area long enough to have her loyalties questioned. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Constellations, Eunoia Review, Eclectica Magazine, and Tipton Poetry Journal. Unfortunately, her productivity is directly related to the amount of time her cat spends on her keyboard. She can be found online at KathleenLatham.com.

How To Find The Love Of Your Life, by Kathleen Latham

How To Find The Love Of Your Life
by Kathleen Latham

Date a guy who tastes like an ashtray and butchers his adverbs and has calluses so thick they tread across your skin like boots.

Date a guy who recites Bon Iver lyrics as if they were love poems then cheats on you with a girl who looks like Pink.

Date a guy who is darkness and ego and the rough scrape of a palm across your cheek. A guy who leaves his mark.

Date a guy who is thinner than you. Consider every jut of his hip bone
a judgement.

Date a guy who smells like beer in the middle of the day. On a Tuesday.

Date a guy who drives a Volvo and plays badminton and calls your mom by her first name.

Decide to be single.

Change your mind.

Find a man who plays the piano. Who loves you quietly. Who stays.

Kathleen Latham is a native Californian who’s been living in the Boston area long enough to have her loyalties questioned. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Constellations, Eunoia Review, Eclectica Magazine, and Tipton Poetry Journal. Unfortunately, her productivity is directly related to the amount of time her cat spends on her keyboard. She can be found online at KathleenLatham.com.

The Squabbling Neighbors, by John Grey

The Squabbling Neighbors
by John Grey

They’ve been married ten years,
she once told me.
Must have been quite a wedding day,
I’m thinking.
I can just see and hear the preacher –
“Do you, lazy motherfucker
take stupid bitch
to be your lawfully wedded wife.
And do you fat trollop
take drunken bum to be your
lawfully wedded husband.”
And then a couple of
snarled “I do’s”,
a funeral march
down the aisle
and out the door of the church
where interfering old cow,
freeloading halfwit
and catty witch,
throw confetti.
What a honeymoon that must have been
bouts on the beach,
scraps in the bar,
sixteen rounders in the bedroom.
And here they are still together.
You have to wonder what
brainless idiot and useless lump of lard
still see in one another.
But who can explain true love?
Of course, they do as good a job as any.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in Blueline, Chronogram and Clade Song.