LAS CHÁCHARAS THEY CARRIED by Antonio Lopez

Discount shaving cream. Tortillas wrapped in black plastic bags. “¡Alto!” Memorize the telephone number of USCIS. Hojas de barquilla pa’ los hongos de tío Armando. “¿Señora, qué declaras?” Un bolsanón de Chetos pufs. Dusty knees from praying. Hands chalked with car grease. Water-resistant shoes. Fake social. A child stirring awake since the Nyquil’s starting to wear off. Vaporub in Spanish translates to “comprehensive health care.” His father’s sombrero that he promised to never take off the wall. “What’s the intention of your visit?” Abuela’s porcelain muñecas atrás que juras a Dios were extras from The Shining. The backyard pila to duck your newborn’s head in, next to the soap camouflaged as sea salt. Before LUSH, there was VO5 champú. “If I search your vehicle, will I find anything?” The first and only good pair of chones without holes that your marido will see si se porta bien. Dreamworks presents: How to Train your Sancho. “Ma’m, please step outside to gaze at the madrugada whose bordertown haze stains your mother’s favorite dress.” Your child’s sudden nosebleed in the camioneta’s backseat to match your red overalls for the primaria’s portrait day. Stale bread to feed los patos, leftovers when my father stops asking for sandwiches and cooks for his own damn self. An analog TV set to plop your chubby brown hijo in front of Sesame Street so in workshop he can (mis)pronounce brillo pad as brillo, since primera comunión pamphlets were the first Spanish que has leído y consecuentamente, tu mamá te instruyó, la doble ‘l’ se pronuncia como ‘y.’ The customs agent switched his nightstick for a number two pencil and asked, “I’m not sure what this word means here. Does anyone know?” A cutting board to butcher my tongue and hope bleeding is a universal language. A bilingual dictionary—kept abreast like the Khan family’s pocket constitution—to search the English word for the Aztec adage: “It takes 3 seconds to google my shit.” A book of poems to hand my father, the edges smeared in molcajete and refried beans. Webster traces the origins of footnotes as: “When Zapata’s messenger used to carry ejército orders in his huaraches, the thousands of kilometers mummified his feet.” My tears as apá strains his chords to read my hymns for him; so the ink of my manuscript and his cook orders can smudge together. Next year, I will wear his baby blue dress shirt and tattered slacks to tell my MFA thesis committee: “It’ll be bilingual. To ask me to write in English is to amputate my arms and still expect me to touch the keyboard.” A voice recorder so I can replay his voice in the hollow walls of my Newark apartment until I finish singing the Barrio Beatitudes. His question: “¿Hijo, cuándo vas a regresar?”


Antonio Lopez is a poet.

THINGS HAVE CHANGED by Lorie Matejowsky

Never forget that you are making the

news now. With superb optimism

 

unfollow everyone on Facebook.

Only check Twitter twice a week.

 

Say you’re sorry but not with sarcasm.

At first it will feel like your head

 

can’t hold it all. There is no harm

in drawing inspiration from the fowl

 

that come in cold weather. They fall

from the sky and build nests in the

 

pond’s muddy middle. Keep your head

underwater all hours. Inhale as many

 

insects and invertebrates as necessary.

This method is certainly one of the best

 

ways to broadcast your thoughts. Let

the longleaf pine send them to a satellite.

 

Maybe a crane can pull the words from

her plumage. Enter all your anger on

 

your arms in blacks like ravens’ bills.

Which ink would look best on Instagram?

 

A great many books have been published

that will never see the light of day.

 

They are resting unread on silent shelves

in Archer City, Texas. No one needs a

 

narrator like you anymore.


Lorie Matejowsky is a resident of Central Florida but spent her first thirty years in Texas. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rust + Moth, Rise Up Review, Poydras Review, Mothers Always Write and Texas Poetry Calendar. She is currently a student in the MFA in Creative Writing program at University of Central Florida. Her poetic work is deeply informed by the South, especially its Gulf Coast, and narratives of feminine identity and faith. You can find her on twitter at @LorieMatejowsky.

HAIKU by M. M. DeVoe

Measure my love of books by / bloodshot

eyes / desert-cracked lips / frequency of

smiles / at lanyard-noosed strangers

Winner of the Spring 2016 #AWPPoem Haiku Contest


M. M. DeVoe is an internationally published, award-winning writer of interstitial fiction including poetry, flash, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, literary fiction, and sometimes, reluctantly, nonfiction. Based in NYC, she’s the founder of the literary nonprofit Pen Parentis which provides resources to keep writers on creative track after they start a family. You can also find her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

THE PARABLE OF THE WAYWARD CHILD by Shara McCallum

by Shara McCallum

Yu know how yu can see car careening

before it even start accelerate? Is same

with she. In the crib she bawl, she bawl

till she cyan done. All her life as if

she in a race with ruin. I know I wasting

mi breath fi hope one day she go realise

wanting nuh mek yu special. Even I—

who cotch-up miself on the side a precipice

one time and was schupid enough

fi think it a place fi set up shop—

did wake-up quick-quick once mi foot slip.

When edge draw near fi true

only a fool nuh accept the idea of falling

plenty-plenty different from the drop.

Originally from Jamaica, Shara McCallum is the author of five books of poetry, including Madwoman (forthcoming in 2017 from Alice James Books in the US & Peepal Tree Press in the UK), in which this poem will appear.

The Parable of the Wayward Child first appeared in Guernica.

JABUTICABA FRUIT TREE by Caroline Barr

And looking at them makes my skin

 

slide off the bone,

retracting

 

against uneasy black slime I fear will

slip

 

from the bark, landing sticky and hot

as tar,too heavy on my chest.

 

They grow

blistered

on the trunk,

 

round purple flesh packed together

like eggs

in the belly of a Traira Catfish

 
 

tight with pregnancy.

 

These Jabuticaba fruits

 

thick

and

clustered

 

to my sternum,

multiplying with every shallow breath

 

stuck humid and dark

vibrating

 

against my ribs

 

I can’t look away even though I hate

their closeness and too-round things.

UNDER THE THREAD OF EDEN by Emma Bolden

by Emma Bolden

Inside the garden I could pretend

I had caught fever, a frenzy of fire

flowers, the ochre ache one expects

of a tree. I could hear passion, a hum

trapped in the tooth of the wolf

I watched until she trusted me

with her hunger. I wore her

hide. I was a revival, an August,

a shattered crescendo of wishing

for wanting, this ragged waiting

inside of. I choked. The blood

I expected. I said that I wanted.

I said that I wanted to be flayed

and carnal, I said that I wanted

to be thrust and shuddered

under any him willing to be violent

as a god. I said that I wanted to

understand the point and the hilt

of the sword, I wanted to know

life gorged and garnet as

the howl inside of every red.

I tasted fang and honey heavy

as hatred, I tasted tongue, I wanted

this ragged with waiting, with shame.

Emma Bolden is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: medi(t)ations (Noctuary Press, 2016) and Maleficae (GenPop Books, 2013). She’s also the author of four chapbooks of poetry — How to Recognize a Lady (Toadlily Press); The Mariner’s Wife, (Finishing Line Press); The Sad Epistles (Dancing Girl Press); This Is Our Hollywood(The Chapbook) – and one nonfiction chapbook – Geography V (Winged City Press). A Barthelme Prize and Spoon River Poetry Review Editor’s Prize winner, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry and The Best Small Fictions as well as such journals as The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, Conduit, and Copper Nickel.

BLANK by Caroline Barr

by Caroline Barr

I think maybe you’re like the earring

I left at another man’s apartment.

The gold one, knotted like knuckles

looking for each other, the one my mother

told me do not lose this, you know the one.

You’re like it because somehow I’m not convinced

it’s gone.

No, it’s just at the bottom of my purse

or in a misguided pocket

or maybe the back of your throat.

Stuck where the move to California

should’ve been, growing mossy and ever-itchy—

do you feel it? Embedded in your Adam’s apple.

It’s like that.

Like the feeling of trying to run

but you can’t get past that first catch in your ankles.

Like that.

It’s like this man’s breath on my neck when all I can think about

is how I can’t believe I asked you to hold

my subway pass and debit card and my goddamn Chanel lipstick

and expected you not to lose them all.

Like that.

It’s like laying on the dock and feeling the sun

pop each dusty skin cell into something I wish you would miss.

Like that.

It’s like that.

It’s like taking a shower, but the shower curtain is missing

and the air is cold and there’s too much water on the floor

so I sit down.

It’s like that.

Like me reaching up to my earlobe, blank

and thinking of you.

Caroline Barr is a native of Huntsville, Alabama currently pursuing a MFA in Poetry at The University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a contributing writer for ANNA Magazine, LLC, freelance blogger and editor, and has been previously published in Two Hawks Quarterly.

SONNET FOR SNAPPER CREEK by Maureen Seaton

by Maureen Seaton

Now I’m almost killed (again) on the Snapper

Creek Expressway, my shadow left behind on

blacktop like a map of this precarious sinking

city. So I invent an odd task for myself–

ephemera, I decide, harmless but illegal, that

tissue in felon wind, a blip beneath radar–

and I enjamb the law in small ways, felonious

poems sailing from the sealed lips of mermaid

sculptures, the tentacles of banyans, stuffed

into bottles I toss into Snapper Creek (the

creek, not the suicidal highway), begging fish,

fowl, and humankind: O, Miami, save us.

 


Sonnet for Snapper Creek first appeared in Panhandler Magazine.

IN THE PAINTER’S HOUSE by Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams

for Sully

 

In the painter’s house, we begin

with bourbon, our hair glued with bits of paper.

 

Orion hangs from every ceiling.

We bang our heads on clotheslines of drying stars.

 

The painter is making art from toilet paper

rolls and singing The Ways of Man. I am

 

smacking mosquitoes from my forehead

and announcing that in Ancient Egypt

 

the stars of Orion were the god Sah.

With some violence, the painter says,

 

Did you know I have a thing about holes. Tiny

holes. Things are not going the way we planned.

 

The painter’s two pigs sleep side by side

under the desk. The cat, who has walked

 

across the palette, snores with rainbow

feet. Upstairs the bunnies are mating.

 

Our ideas have run out and must be cut

with exacto knives from catalogues and taped

 

to our legs. The floor is littered now

with everything we hate, which is more and more,

 

and no one we love calls back, which is truer and truer.

Let me tell you, sometimes tiredness feels like despair,

 

and other times it can feel like gladdening.

In this endless night, we are bourbon-ing,

 

now taller than the sky, its watercolor stars,

its sheaves of gold hunters. Ink on our feet, ink in our teeth.

 

I once had a dream that when I wrote, my hair would grow

and grow. Two small children stood behind me

 

with giant scissors to chop it short

while I typed. That is was tonight feels like.

 

Like our hair is growing long. In the painter’s house,

we begin and stay and stay without ending.

 

All the animals are awake and cheering.

The painter calls, Give me an image

VENUS DE MILO WITH HER LOVER by Caroline Barr

by Caroline Barr

You can open me. Unwrap

these sheets and pull—just

slowly, though, and lick your

fingers first—pull my left

breast out and find the note

you wrote to your kindergarten

love. All x’s and o’s and crayon

devotion. Reach further, the tube

of lipstick your babysitter forgot

in the couch cushions has rolled

to the back. Remember how she

taught you spin-the-bottle?

With those dark berry lips. Now,

move your hand to my knee, spilling

over with the coarse-ground grits

you knelt on for ten whole minutes

when your mother caught you

watching porn. You couldn’t even pull

up your boxers first. Scoop them out

and find the broken condom. The back-seat

night that almost made you a man

too soon. This is what built you, these

wide-eyed nights stinging red like a fresh

tattoo only I can see. Here, kiss me.

Rest your head on my ribs. I am not afraid

of knowing you.


Caroline Barr is a native of Huntsville, Alabama currently pursuing a MFA in Poetry at The University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is a contributing writer for ANNA Magazine, LLC, freelance blogger and editor, and has been previously published in Two Hawks Quarterly.