Porcelain Nocturne by William Fargason
Here, it always rains. No matter. We share an umbrella,
the branches of a tree, the light from the moon. Imagine
the moon as a tiger. This doesn’t change the moon.
No matter. She is glazed ceramic. No matter. I trust
her hands in the clay. She pulls a tiger from the kiln,
still hot. The moon was never, can never be a tiger,
no matter how long our hands work. Imagine the moon
as clay. The moon is clay. No longer alone, we mold
each other again into night. We add another stripe to the tiger.
First appeared in Washington Square Review
William Fargason’s poetry has appeared in The Threepenny Review, New England Review, Barrow Street, Indiana Review, Rattle, The Cincinnati Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. He received two awards from the Academy of American Poets and a scholarship to Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He earned a BA in English from Auburn University, where he served as poetry editor of The Circle. He earned a MFA in poetry from the University of Maryland, where he taught creative writing. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in poetry at Florida State University. He lives with himself in Tallahassee, Florida.
The Migrants by Fred Marchant
He hid the fire in a tall hollow stalk of fennel,
out of the sight of the great one who delights in thunder.
In those mountains he met others walking in the same direction. Back-
packs, black plastic garbage bags, food sacks, a girl with two hard-boiled
eggs, the shells flaking off. Some wore t-shirts from the sports teams of the
West, and one man still carried an orange life jacket. The hunted, wayward
god stood beside a mother who held her infant before her the same way he
held the stalk that carried the embers he had stolen. He noted dry myrtle
along the side of the road, and saw a ground that seemed soft enough for
them to sleep on. There would be at least this much tonight, twigs for a
fire, perhaps water for tea, some warmth in the morning.
from Said, Not Said (Graywolf Press, 2017)
Fred Marchant’s new collection of poetry, Said Not Said, was published by Graywolf Press in May 2017. Afaa Michael Weaver has written that this poetry takes us to the “interior of hope,” and Mary Szybist has written that she loves the generosity in these poems, “a generosity that carries us through every heartbreak.” The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009), was named by Barnes and Noble Review and the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best books of poetry in 2009. He is also the author of Tipping Point, winner of the 1993 Washington Prize, that book was recently reissued in a 20th anniversary second edition. His earlier books include Full Moon Boat (Graywolf Press, 2000). and House on Water, House in Air (Dedalus Press, Dublin, Ireland, 2002). Fred Marchant is also the co-translator (with Nguyen Ba Chung) of From a Corner of My Yard, by Tran Dang Khoa, and Con Dau Prison Songs by Vo Que, both published in Hanoi. Editor of Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947 (Graywolf Press, 2008), Marchant is an emeritus professor of English at Suffolk University, and founding director of the Poetry Center at Suffolk. He is a longtime teaching affiliate of The William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and teaches poetry workshops across the country. He is the 2009 co-winner of the New England Poetry Club’s May Sarton Award, given to poets whose work “is an inspiration to other writers.”
Psalm at Sixty by Cindy Veach
When I hate this body
I remind myself
of the abandoned nest
of mud and straw
way up in the lilac bush.
Of every bird,
all throat and call
refusing to be silenced,
and what was never
mine to keep.
First appeared in The Stirring.
Cindy Veach is the author of Gloved Against Blood (CavanKerry Press). Her poetry has appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Journal, North American Review, Salamander and elsewhere. She co-edits the Mom Egg Review quarterly online VOX folio and lives in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts.
On why poetry matters: Poetry matters because it speaks to what it means to be human and expresses the inexpressible.
Mother Makes a Crow Skull Mask by Kaela McNeil
I gathered the feathers of you when the air was gigantic and made of plague. There was a basket I left somewhere that I used for carrying my excess, my little baby bird bones that I could not hold. I had nothing to bring you home with. The basket I left had no handle or bottom but was an empty tomb inside my chest and a book on leather making, which was not really a book but a record of my grief. The language on the pages gives me a place to chisel your names, my little crows. So, I gathered all the feathers when the air was gigantic and made of plague, and with my hands I placed them on my face. A mask, my baby birds, a roost I made to carry you.
Kaela McNeil has won the Roy F. Powell Creative Writing Award in Poetry and has been nominated for an Independent Best American Poetry award. Her poems appear in NonBinary Review, Anthropoid, and elsewhere. McNeil received her MFA in Poetry from Lesley University and has interned for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. A Georgia native, she now lives in the Witch City with her fiance and daughter. Follow her on instagram @kaela.mcneil
Absence by Jim Nawrocki
My father, visiting me,
stands on the slope of my garden
with its view of the west and the evening light,
his cigarette smoke snaking up
then lost in the late wind
coming down from Twin Peaks
where the fog begins its slow creep.
With the fog
all that rests above us begins to fade:
houses, perched and improbable
all along the hill. Facades, trees,
the road that leads down to us.
I watch the wind at play in his hair,
in the folds of his loose shirt, a current
that examines and then leaves him.
His cigarette burns to its end. We stand
watching the slow, far wavering
of things disappearing from the world.
Originally appeared in Kyoto Journal, #62, 2006.
Jim Nawrocki’s poetry has appeared in Poetry, Kyoto Journal, Nimrod, Chroma Journal, and Mudfish, among others. It’s also been included in the anthologies, The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010) and Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years (Black Lawrence Press, 2014).
Blue Fly by Hyejung Kook
Honor to you
eater of flesh
First appeared in Lotus Magazine
Hyejung Kook’s poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, The Indianapolis Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Hyphen Magazine, wildness, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. Other works include an essay in The Critical Flame and Flight, a chamber opera libretto. She is a Fulbright grantee and a Kundiman fellow. Follow her poetry at hyejungkook.tumblr.com and on Twitter @hyejungkook.
To An Old Shipwreck by Marjorie Thomsen
You said shipwrecked was a verb
you needed to be. Of heavy vessel
you meant gauzy, a self divisible by
breeze. Of trawling, you meant hands,
not green-roped net; you meant delicate,
to gather sweetgrass for basketry. Of
East you meant West. Of belvedere
you meant from deep and dark. Going
down, leaving the pink, was for unmatched
blessitude, in sinking and in rest. Of legend,
of attendant, of body, in sincerity you meant
to give me that which you gave: charged
feeling. What’s meant is I want only
to die at the exact depth as you.
First published in “Gravel”
Marjorie Thomsen is the author of “Pretty Things Please” (Turning Point, 2016). She has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her poems have been published widely and read on The Writer’s Almanac. She recently earned certification to become a poet in residence in the Massachusetts Public Schools. Marjorie serves on the board of the New England Poetry Club and teaches clinical social work at Boston University. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
On why poetry matters: Poetry matters because pleasure, love, and humanity matter.
What to Say to a Friend Who Wants to Give Up by JP Howard
Say I love you, even when you can’t love yourself.
Say please, please not today,
Say too much life unlived.
Say mirror, say beautiful,
Say this arm, take this arm,
Say grab, say hold, say let tears fall,
Say tears heal, say forgive your mama,
Say she did the best she could.
Say tomorrow, say sleep,
Say split second, split the seconds,
Say let the seconds turn into days,
Say today, say tomorrow, say sun.
Say warm, say skin,
Say warm skin, say sunlight,
Say new day, say breathe,
Say inhale, say exhale.
Say not today baby girl,
Say so much life to live,
Say love, say I love you.
Say hold on, hold on to love.
First published in HIV Here & Now and SAY/MIRROR
JP Howard’s debut poetry collection, SAY/MIRROR (The Operating System), was a 2016 Lambda Literary finalist. She is also the author of bury your love poems here (Belladonna*). JP is a featured author in Lambda Literary’s LGBTQ Writers in Schools program and was a Split this Rock Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism finalist. JP has received fellowships from Cave Canem, VONA, and Lambda. JP curates Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon and is Editor-at-Large at Mom Egg Review online. JP’s poetry is widely anthologized. She holds a BA from Barnard College and an MFA in Creative Writing from The City College of New York. http://www.jp-howard.com.
Tangerine Trees & Little Bags of Sugar by Su Cho
My mother speaks of how she was born on an island, where a father
grew a family of seven from one single tree purchased
from a local trader. How he saved for a plot of land & the tangerines
were good—so good. My mother speaks of how a mother would
travel back to Seoul alone to buy sugar— heaps of sugar in clumpy
bags—bring it back to package them with ribbons & rippling clear
cello to the people on the island who didn’t know it was possible to
cross the ocean. How these tangerine trees and bags of sugar birthed
a brick-lined mansion, chauffeurs, & gift boxes of echoing
Korean pears to each of her & her sibling’s classrooms. A whole
heavy box for every teacher. As I frown and complain that these
pears even from Jersey aren’t sweet, she tells me to be thankful &
that if I can’t shave the skin off these pears I will never get married.
Be grateful that I get to pick this fruit. Grateful that we received
a shipping box full of bruised tangerines that still grew on the island
when they were still alive to remind us of work. How I used
to scrunch my nose at the furry bruised skin & marvel when peeled,
inside was plump fruit, tasting like all the sugar & sweat carried
across the ocean until everyone was satisfied.
First appeared in Thrush
Su Cho received her MFA in Poetry and MA in English Literature from Indiana University, where she recently served as the Editor-in-Chief of Indiana Review. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Journal, Thrush Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, BOAAT, PANK, and elsewhere. You can find her at http://www.suchowrites.com
My Lover is a Robot by Ernesto L. Abeytia
In her chest, a generator drones,
Buzzes with emotions calculated, denied.
Her lips, a steel smile full of gnash,
Absent of laughter, a kiss I call pain.
Behind grey eyes, she is almost delicate,
A butterfly pinned against cork.
I update her with rich words: haricot, cellar door,
Try to repair years of damage, mechanical gestures,
Install fervor, a hedgerow of azaleas,
Rhododendrons, fireflies in mist,
Smooth her hair with daffodils,
Blooming springtime bulbs.
Her response is blank speech.
Her breath, monotony.
First appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry
Ernesto L. Abeytia is a Spanish-American poet, and a Master of Fine Arts candidate at Arizona State University. He received his Master of Arts in English from Saint Louis University and his Master of Arts in Anglo/North-American Cultural and Literary Studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid. His poems have been published in the Albion Review and PBS NewsHour.