How like a cat I wish to be –
to curl up like a cinnamon roll
on a warm lap just my size
like when I nestled between Dad’s side
and arm in perfect fit…
to rub and purr beneath my owner’s hand
as she scratches my cheek
as she smooths my fur from head
to back and up my tail until
static electricity tingles my feet
like handing Mom my first
crayon masterpiece and feeling
her smile curl my toes…
to be picked up and hugged
for coming home when called
like standing in front of relatives
who examine my parents’ work.
Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life or nature or an overheard phrase and to write from her perspective at the moment. Many nights she falls asleep juggling images to fit into a poem. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Illya’s Honey, River Poets Journal and other literary magazines.
Burt is kind of a nerd as we skip rocks
on the Mississippi, watching whirlpool
swirls and scum bubbles from a-far,
breathing the familiar smell of decay.
We are the new, the freed in this wild congealed,
savoring thirteen, a week into middle school
as Burt talks of girls I don’t yet know.
My fishing line is taut, though nothing in the depths
responds, as if the day has to give permission.
Maybe it has to be dawn before the light
comes on—or deep in the night—
when the mossy big fish feel the cool
and control the dark swirl. We have
attached chicken flesh on hooks big as
a finger, and we are happy to be on
this mud flat as a barge a half mile away
pushes upstream. Nowhere are signs,
or prohibitions—just danger old and pared
and huge, encased in the smell of cured
dead carp. But we are not distracted,
talking about baseball, and then about girls,
like we have known how they think forever.
The lines remain quiet, anchored deep,
like the waiting could be all day. We feel
the weight of possibility, and shrug off
mosquitoes, and we don’t swagger,
or pretend as we map a future—mainly just
the fall dance when the music is wild,
and we are the crowd reaching to touch—
when the night dissolves looks from authorities,
and we and everyone dance like monkeys
alive in elastic skin, feeling the pull
in our guts, knowing that primal
from now on is the new norm.
Mark Vogel has short stories published in Cities and Roads, Knight Literary Journal, Whimperbang, SN Review, and Our Stories. His poetry has appeared in Poetry Midwest, English Journal, Cape Rock, Dark Sky, Cold Mountain Review, Broken Bridge Review, and other journals. He is currently Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and directs the Appalachian Writing Project.
Seven billion pieces of folded foil fall inside
walls made of glass. The effect is enlightening.
A perfect emulation of explosion. A moment
of victory encapsulated. Shaken,
settled. Later to be
A.J. Huffman is the author of eleven solo chapbooks (including Inside the Walls of a Blackened Book) and two full-length poetry collections, as well as co-author of one joint chapbook, all published by various small presses. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale. She is the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.
A pall has been cast over your layette.
I sit on the edge of the bathtub, naked.
The double stroller must go up in flames.
I rub my globular belly, wishing I had a map to find you.
Burn half of the blankets, the bibs, the binkies.
When the ultrasound revealed not one but two, I cried.
Twice the bundle, twice the joy.
Always two armfuls of fat rolls, gurgles, and heartbeats.
The nursery became a shrine to the unborn,
as I bought, unpacked, piled, and arranged.
Meanwhile, I grew and stretched and ached.
Then your heart stopped.
And my aches multiplied.
They said your sister lived.
But you had vanished:
“A fairly common chromosomal syndrome.”
Though my body may have absorbed you,
I have not absorbed my grief.
Every night, I bathe almost to dehydration.
When your sister comes into this world,
the loss of you will be final, my child.
Christine Stoddard is an artist from Virginia. In 2014, she was honored as one of the media industry’s top 20 visionaries in their 20s at the MediaNext Conference in New York. Her lit and culture magazine, Quail Bell, has been featured in Time Out New York, The Washington Post Express, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. The author of books published and forthcoming, her fiction has appeared in The Feminist Wire and Whurk. Her films, collages, and other creations have been showcased in the New York Transit Museum, the Brooklyn Side of Eye Experimental Film Festival, the Annapolis Fringe Fest, and beyond.
I was afraid to go to Paris, afraid to spend the fantasy I had hoarded for years. I meant to go with a lover; I meant to go when I was thin and beautiful and well-dressed. I carried your picture with me to Paris. I prayed to it each night, stealing a secret peek so the other college students on this summer school trip would not see me praying to a professor they all knew to be a model of intellectual rigor, and, they assumed, high ethical standards. Do you ever pray to my picture impaled on your office bulletin board? In the picture, I smile a secret smile, knowing your wife might see this picture of some student standing in front of a Paris pizza parlor. But it isn’t just some student; it’s me. The pizza parlor is the one you ate in every night when you were in Paris twenty years ago. I still have the map you drew on the back of your personalized stationery to help me find my way here. While the other students crease and de-crease their guide maps to historical landmarks, I trace my way down streets that hold memories for you, to arrive at your historical sites. I could not explain to the others why I had to find this particular pizza parlor, or why I didn’t order anything but insisted on having my picture taken standing in front, smiling for someone not there. The Louvre was only a block away but its treasures meant nothing to me. Notre Dame was just a church. Versailles, merely a shrine to conspicuous consumption. But Pizza Oskian was the historical site of your laughter. The building shares a wall with another shrine, the Hotel L’Oratoire, where I imagine you on the third floor, writhing with some woman, now twenty years older, in a narrow bed. And while I no longer have you in my bed, each night, in the shower, I let my tears run down the drain, mingling with thousands of sloughed cells. Each night, I am peeled one layer more vulnerable to you. I want to live below the surface of my skin because that is where you are. When I asked you once if you felt guilty about what we were doing, you stared in amazement, then laughed. “It isn’t as if I’m going to leave my wife and run off to Paris.” Oh, but you have.
Toni La Ree Bennett received a PhD in English at the University of Washington. Her work has appeared in Poemmemoirstory, Puerto del Sol, Hawaii Pacific Review, Society of Classical Poets, Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Viet Nam Generation, among other publications, and she has several poems included in the anthology The Muse Strikes Back. She is also an editor and photographer.