‘2 Poems’ by Alina Stefanescu

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gospel of positive thinking

The boy stands near the model train station. His grandpa says my leg hurts. The boy realizes this pain might be a blood clot working its way toward a lung, become an embolus. His grandpa is dying. Like in the story. The boy remembers his brother saying things could always be worse. For example, the boy could hate train sets and still play with them. He could not love his mother. He could watch a puppy press its paw through the space under a door for hours.

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L5-S1. The disc herniated in my lower back. Because I could not press pause in the moment. Because the moment made noise, I wanted to feel the way noise turns inside the bones of a wrist. Because I wanted to ride my naked boyfriend in his tiny red hatchback, my knee bruised from patterned slamming against the stick shift. Because I wanted to know better than how it feels to be known. Because the shadow of a nodding donkey head rose up and down, up and down, stars and oil derricks squabbled for space near the airport. I wanted to keep moving. Because pain wasn’t as interesting as mining the seam of pure motion, I never had a torch song. Because I promised the girl in the hospital bed again and again, I crossed my heavy dark heart and swore pain was just a cheap wah pedal. Not a real Crybaby. Pain would never sate her hunger for life.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama with four incredible mammals. Find her poems and prose in recent issues of Juked, DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, New Orleans Review Online, and others. Her debut fiction collection, Every Mask I Tried On, won the Brighthorse Books Prize and will be available in May 2018. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes and President of the Alabama State Poetry Society. More arcana online at http://www.alinastefanescuwriter.com or @aliner.

‘2 Poems’ by Joe Pickard

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A Little Control

I like to have control of the television remote
and I worry it might be because I am a man.

I know the change in dynamics
can make my ears itch in the white noise
of adverts. Coupled with a conversation
in the background, it can put me on edge—
I want to have the power to hide this
by casually lowering the volume to an even number.

My friend once said his erect penis was the same
size as a Sky+ remote, which I accepted as fact.

I wonder if there is a connection here—
they say a gun is a phallic symbol
and with the television remote I can kill
off any character with mute or standby,
then play god by bringing them back
with the touch of a button.

But I know that when I am trying to think
the sound from the television acts like a lobotomy.

I am sure it is just a way to take control
of my own body, and I always ask her
what she wants to watch, and I don’t ‘do’ sports
and I don’t like to have the indecision of choice

but I like to be the one to push the buttons and
control the volume, but I worry there is more to it than that.

Opening the Door

There is a moment’s pause before her greeting,
before she recognises me
or pretends that she does.

She avoids proper names.
Instead she waits until she reads the tag
on the poorly wrapped Christmas present

and then she uses it too often
to make sure it sinks in
or to try and reassure me
she remembers who I am.

Joe Pickard works as a journalist in London. He studied English with Creative Writing at the University of Chester. He has had writing published in Nine Muses Poetry, Crossways, Confluence, Prole, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of Pulp Poets Press, which is always looking for submissions. Twitter: @PoetsPulp

‘3 Sonnets’ By Erik Fuhrer

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These poems are from a longer work titled The Voyage Out Sonnets, a page by page erasure of Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out. During the process of erasure, I moved chapter by chapter and then formed what I had into 50 experimental sonnets. Solmaz Sharif has convincingly linked poetic erasure to government censorship, which every erasure project certainly risks replicating. Woolf herself had to censor herself in her novel in order to get published. Since the intent of this project is to celebrate rather than censor, I was careful and mindful not to redact but to highlight Woolf’s words. Rather than physically blackening out words during my process, I left Woolf’s original text clean and instead circled words that I believed revealed the multiple possibilities in the original text. I highlighted language over narrative and provided agency and voice to animals and inanimate objects, which Virginia Woolf often does herself in her later work, such as “Kew Gardens.” For the most part, I did not add anything to the text, with the exception of the rare addition of an “s” at the end of a word. I also occasionally cobbled together a word from individual letters. That said, Woolf’s individual language remains mostly intact and unadulterated in these poems, which intend to pay homage to Woolf’s original text.

Voyage Out Sonnet 43

Bracelets absorbed slippery light across the room. Glimpses
spite long wrist muscles twitching to moods. Laughs muddle
burning hot voices. Sirens kiss wet cheeks with drops of cold water.
A chill pressed a gaze. Now quite dry eyes inebriate homes
with a slight smile. A profusion of bones sat up with animation, talking
about art. A lowered voice under skin talks with more pause
than breath. Slipped eyes push back fleshy
windows. Life crushed the body into reflection, losing
bright intimacy. The spark of night cut the eyes slowly. Yellow plucking
opened dark red music. Pleasure hooked
a lump of ginger in a slim elegant jar. Matter tipped untouched. Shipwreck
makes its appearance a kind of charm. The neck locking to whirl a spark in silence.
Grey coils fasten to time’s upper body, hooking the eyes
back to the light. Glass stiffens about tongues, descending.

Voyage Out Sonnet 44

The world floated in a dream. Ashtray sleep shapes
feverish red escape. A vision flames glass over the dust. Hot
silence murmured with dogs on a river in the sky. Sleep
touches careful chills in cheeks, leaves crushed chatter underneath the home.
A small sun stood between ruins. Rivers strode to empty
light beneath the diving night. Murmuring
sleep smelled of smoke. Cigarettes undressed
the darkness. The sky shapes landmarks into unknown mornings.
Red shrieks strangling high night. A chuckle flickered
and narrowed like a cathedral. Leaves fruit groans. Covered green
silence ate beneath the shore. Hot scents lace the stems of eyes. Drowsy
reflections of snakes shade the hour. Yellow creepers crimson
the sunlight circling red fruit. Animals patch sunlight with late fingers.
Bodies edge the river rocks for scraps. Dogs smoking a cigarette remember a stable yard.

Voyage Out Sonnet 45

Gnarled emotion ran through peace.
Eyes, a coil of rope. Legs gaze on the hot morning.
Cold light spoke with scattered rust. Springing
waves open hard laughing. Eyes fix the world
beneath a purple tie. The shape of fingers
like bent trees, crack breezes, drop a bolt of grass.
Broken figures remember who they were.
Bone hollows shape the plunge of speech.
Water rings the sun lifted from the lips. Light
shapes the withdrawal of an echo.
Time, half-choked with ordinary pianos heaped
great masses of human music. A series of sonatas returned
with a final chord. Rain exploded the sharp bark of the sun. Creatures pearl
old bone. Owls spark at the tops of trees. A torpedo choked drowsy the globe.

Erik Fuhrer is a Pushcart Prize and Best Microfictions 2018 nominee. He holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and his work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Maudlin House, Ghost City Press, Cleaver, and Softblow. He tweets @Erikfuhrer and his website is erik-fuhrer.com.

‘3 Sonnets’ by Erik Fuhrer

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These poems are from a longer work titled The Voyage Out Sonnets, a page by page erasure of Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out. During the process of erasure, I moved chapter by chapter and then formed what I had into 50 experimental sonnets. Solmaz Sharif has convincingly linked poetic erasure to government censorship, which every erasure project certainly risks replicating. Woolf herself had to censor herself in her novel in order to get published. Since the intent of this project is to celebrate rather than censor, I was careful and mindful not to redact but to highlight Woolf’s words. Rather than physically blackening out words during my process, I left Woolf’s original text clean and instead circled words that I believed revealed the multiple possibilities in the original text. I highlighted language over narrative and provided agency and voice to animals and inanimate objects, which Virginia Woolf often does herself in her later work, such as “Kew Gardens.” For the most part, I did not add anything to the text, with the exception of the rare addition of an “s” at the end of a word. I also occasionally cobbled together a word from individual letters. That said, Woolf’s individual language remains mostly intact and unadulterated in these poems, which intend to pay homage to Woolf’s original text.

Voyage Out Sonnet 40

The landscape lashed a cry against
the night’s Black bars. The waterfall alarm
was justified. Curious sensations plan
accidents. Love plays the analysis now.
On a note of approach hangs a god
of light drawn across a calm shaped rhythm.
Mute ghosts could not slow down breath
Without clasping clocks. People moved in
blue-cloth light, blessing jars of oil.
Ugly wrought the mild chords struck
with water paler than the Lord’s Prayer.
Childlike smoke ghosts homes with slips
of fingers. A psalm mood devoured
teeth, rooted out of language.

Voyage Out Sonnet 41

Schoolboys, returned, to experimental words, part the pattern
of poetry. People float out of half-shutting eyes. Pursuing
mist misrepresented the damp leaves. The face carefully
produced eyes obstinate with religion stuck to a rock. The mind
revealed lips clever in mood as though a row
of legs occupied with light. Prayers chanting
disturbed a glance in the thin pale gulp with an Amen.
Meanwhile, the pulpit spectacles a very large egg
with weighty significance. Beauty rambled
under skin. Wireless words touch eyes composed
of a long breath of water. Creatures compass
millions in the earth. The universe alters through whipping
tones blessing the light. Curious people clear
the atmosphere, drawn along the flushed plucking.

Voyage Out Sonnet 42

Glass gazed with strong white teeth proceeded to frighten
the yellow paint. Abrupt earth could almost see
the maker break the air. A pause flung a swarm
of tortoise-shells about London. Trees peirce a long river, lustre
the old days, violently opened. A slip of figure with a prepared
smile quailed opposite the sketch of smooth gods.
Repetition inspired temper, eyes in love with hovering
glass. A bird rooks the space out of doors.
A blue-white hum heated the wooden sun. Branches struck
wet dust raised by flies beneath a net. Flicked love attracted
quiet sweaters flying at aeroplanes. Years bickered
Covered by spoilt gardens. Punctual lights pulled up
The trunk of a tree on dry grey eyes vacant in freedom
like arms coolly dropped to the ground in desire.

Erik Fuhrer is a Pushcart Prize and Best Microfictions 2018 nominee. He holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and his work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Maudlin House, Ghost City Press, Cleaver, and Softblow. He tweets @Erikfuhrer and his website is erik-fuhrer.com.

‘2 Poems’ by Ottavia Paluch

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Speaking in Volumes

we were at a concert
there was a band called Your Dreams opening for the Nightmares
it felt all too real
we shoved earbuds into our eyes so we wouldn’t see any minor scales

the crowd buzzed
cheering for something we couldn’t understand
was it the fact that they were there
existing desperate alive

the seating was general admission
like prom but with more people more commotion
we looked around to see if we could spot anyone we knew
yet barely knew ourselves

we got shirts that said the band’s name on it
they were too black too grey too big for us
while the Nightmares sang “broken dreams”
people tripped & fell on lyrics they couldn’t remember

we listened to them swear & sing about things we didn’t do
heard nostalgia in waves of take me back take me
back TAKE ME yeah we took ourselves here for a reason
to be more than just ourselves

it got louder and louder
until there was nothing left to hear

our father, who art in somewhere

Be careful when you call for divine intervention:
it will wreak havoc when it comes.
This I knew, and thus, I devised ways
of containing it for ages, holding back the wind,
the symphonic swell, the buildup of earwax, of problems.
Yet despite all the finesse and
fitness I carried, I remained a chaotic,
overwhelming soul. Last night I asked myself
how many more of these unwanted revelations
from this small thing bursting out of me can I take?
God said that it will and can and shall help me
but through forms so elusive that I’ll still remain a stranger
on secret paths. Let me catch my breath, I’ll say, so I can
pray a little longer.

Ottavia Paluch is a disabled high school student who lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. She can often be found complaining about math homework and listening to U2 and My Chemical Romance. Her work is published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Gigantic Sequins, The Cerurove, Alexandria Quarterly, and Body Without Organs, among other places.

‘2 Poems’ by Graham Irvin

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my brothers were a lighthouse for the inner banks

they sighed a quarter mile at a time

we wrapped our truck around the chicken restaurant

my home was a bruise punched into new boots

i rode saddle soap down the bathtub walls

family was a scaffolding with no insurance

G asked why can’t i live there

he took his arms off with a side of ranch

my neck was getting long

our waists went out for a swim

the devil started to bother me at the post office

every road sign had rotten teeth

T chanted pantego pungo matcha fungo

i knew why my stepdad sent the flood

monday smelled like a hungry god

smiling faces were a primitive memory

i wanted everywhere to hide

time turned out the lights

my tears were blue ridge mountain peaks

i wanted to deep fry my brain for good

my mother told a story about feeling wild

a stain gathered near the graveyard trash

our tire tracks were made of wasps

the dead had a dream about human magnetism

a great snake built a concrete bruise

someone said beware of dogs

forgiveness was a mouth that called me daddy

every pocket knife was heart-shaped

i had lunch with a can of sardines

i got old and everything fell off

Graham Irvin is from Kannapolis, North Carolina. Same as Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. His chapbook The Woods are now a Traffic Jam and my Family is Deleting Itself was published by Really Serious Literature in January. His poetry has appeared in The Nervous Breakdown, Instant Lit Magazine, Show Your Skin, Tenderness Lit, and Vagabond City. His prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Apathy Press, and Philosophical Idiot. Follow him on Twitter (@grahamjirvin).

‘3 Poems’ by Antoni Ooto

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Annuals

It’s summer again!
And the neighbors have decided to bring
their thirty year argument out
to the garden,
the picnic table,
the garage,
the barn,
the porch.

Voices incensed…
clawing above the bushes,
bellowing by the mailbox
blaring around hedges,
…like dandelions doubling in the grass.

Yup,
summer…

Again!

Unused Poetry

Book 1

very good condition
cover has no visible markings and wear
dust jacket has minimal shelf wear
looks like never read
spine pristine
very good condition

Book 2

beautiful copy
excellent condition
looks bookstore new
dust jacket has sharp edges and glossy surfaces
pages have no mark
or indication of any use

Is anyone reading poetry?
Really?

The Door

looking
in
looking
out
swinging
one winged bird

last place open
freedom perched on a hinge

always
in the middle of something
wanting to be free—
unnecessary

Antoni Ooto7762514598_542ac66c86_z is a poet and flash fiction writer. His works have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Pilcrow & Dagger, Red Eft Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, Young Ravens Literary Review, Front Porch Review, Amethyst Review, An Upstate of Mind and Palettes & Quills.