A Poem by Akachi Obijiaku

 

 

 

I Will Try

 

 

As my fingers peel to reveal my raw and tender flesh

And I squirm for the souls of my broken nails

I wonder where all the mechanical wonders are

Praised an innovation – attacked as a threat

 

I ponder the hopelessness of my human capital

Scraping pots and pans, condemned to listen to petty banter

The things they got me doing in this kitchen

Will deliver me canker sores by nightfall

 

Scared to touch my baby boy

He, wagering whether to confront me

Ask me what happened to the girl he fell in love with

The one who didn’t return every night stinking of spoilt beans

 

And I will try

I will try to remember her

Remember my old life – how comfortable I once was

 

But looking down at my broken palms,

I shall fail – slowly, most likely, defensively

And wrap my blisters up, to heal quick for the next day

 

 

 

Akachi Obijiaku is a new Nigerian poet. She started writing poetry in 2017, and her works appear across 15 literary journals. She emigrated to England four years ago, and holds an MSc from King’s College London.

A Poem by Kelly Thomas

 

 

 

VALIDATION

 

 

I wanted Ken to like me.

As girls, we would bring him and Barbie together

for sex, my white friends and I

banging their plastic flesh together.

 

I imagined us together, his rigid fingers

caressing my thick hips.

I lying beneath him,

taking his thrusts, taking her place.

 

I wanted Barbie to watch us,

cayenne searing her plastic veins

but her grin the same.

 

Afterwards, I wanted to rest my dark

curls in the crook of his shoulder. I wanted

to pull him close, his vacant

eyes meeting mine, kiss his stiff

nose and forgive him.

 

“What I Wanted” (former title) first appeared in Efroymson Anthology.

 

 

 

Kelly Thomas is an award-winning writer, editor, adjunct professor of English (Xavier University) and the founder of Kelly Grace LLC (www.kgrace.co), a copywriting and editing agency that teaches artists and entrepreneurs how to create content that informs and inspires. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Genesis, The Efroymson Anthology and Polly Magazine. Honors include first-place scholarships from both the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference as well as a post-graduate fellowship at WordPlay, a creative writing and after-school center.

A Poem by Ann Howells

 

 

 

Consider Bones

 

 

A small gecko,

liquid, graceful, quick,

poses on herringboned brick,

examines me

even as I examine him,

his tiny, paper-thin bones,

delicate as workings of a lady’s watch.

As fossil he would be

an object d’art,

elevated on a brass display stand.

 

Pecan trees,

winter bones en déshabillé,

begin to green as I lower myself

into a sling chair.

Clunky old bones, porous,

mineral-leached,

relax their architecture,

an awkward scaffolding

beneath thin voile skin.

 

Sun spills, milk-colored,

in ever-widening flow,

warms our bones. Odd

how the term fluid

covers both gecko and sun.

We are all sap or blood,

put down roots of one sort or another,

our thin flesh worn loosely,

in this place of milky light.

 

 

 

Ann Howells of Dallas, Texas has edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years, recently digitally at www.IllyasHoney.com. Recent books: Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016) and  an anthology of D/FW poets she edited: Cattlemen & Cadillacs (Dallas Poets Community Press, 2016). Her chapbook, Softly Beating Wings (Blackbead Books, 2017), was published as winner of the William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Contest. Her work appears in a variety of small press and university publications.

A Poem by Karen Mandell

 

 

 

Rose Has a New Walker

 

 

We buy it online. She got her old one,

standard issue gray aluminum, at the hospital

after she fell at Susie’s house last summer.

It’s a man’s walker, and she holds her elbows out like bent wings

when she grasps the handles. It’s too wide for her.

I toss out the question one day, if you had a new walker

what color would you choose.

Blue, she says, just like that. I order blue.

When it comes, we connect the hand brakes,

attach the basket and the seat,

pull the plastic off the wheels.

Can I return it, Rose says.

It’ll be hard, I tell her. It’s from the Internet.

She feels better knowing there’s no choice.

But it’s always good to try again.

Maybe I won’t need it. I ride the exercise bike now.

And in Chi Gong class I stand up longer.

Before I did the exercises from the chair.

Anyway, it’s not blue. I think it’s black.

So for that we’ll return it? It’s navy.

Under the lamp we compromise on navy black

I tell her to try the seat. But always remember

To press the hand brakes when you sit down.

It’s like the brakes on a bike.

She doesn’t get it. She never rode a bike, she says,

she roller skated everywhere, to the botanical conservatory,

to the library. She tightened the skates with a key she wore

around her neck. When they broke, and that was often,

her father would fix them, a tragedy you kids never met him.

I ask Rose to push the walker in the hall.

She can’t help smiling; stately, royal she glides like the King’s barge

down the Thames. The waters part before her; I hear Handel’s music.

It’s nice, she says. But what should I do with the old one. A shame to waste it.

It’ll be a spare, I say. Maybe we’ll take it in the car when we go out.

Remember when Daddy taught me how to ride, I say. Running beside me,

his hand on the fender and then letting go.

Of course I remember, she says, he taught all of you.

And then I was free to pedal around the block, up to the drug store,

turn right, turn right again, over and over, centrifugally

pulled by the gravity of home.

 

 

 

Karen Mandell has taught writing at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis, Mount Ida College in Newton MA, and literature at Framingham South High School. She’s also taught literature at various senior centers in the Boston area. Karen received three writing awards: first place from the American Poetry Society/Oil of Olay contest in 2004, second place winner of the Muriel Craft Bailey award, 2004, and the Charlotte Newberger award from Lilith Magazine.

A Poem by Carla Schwartz

 

 

 

 

Rings

 

 

Saw down a tree and the rings of cellulose

tell the age. I’m not as old as these trees,

and my ring finger is small,

but swells with heat. I wear rings

infrequently. I used to wear an onyx

for good luck. Where is

that ring now?

The only wedding band I have

is the one my mother gave to me

just before she died,

hoping I might have use for the ring,

flourished with wing diamonds.

I wear it when I want to feel wedded,

as I wake in my double bed,

stare out at the emptiness

where my trees once stood,

and listen to the caw of crows,

the coo of mourning doves

who mate for life,

a lone one there, perched on a wire,

a pink band of sunlight around her neck.

 

 

 

Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger. Her poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Mom Egg, Switched-on Gutenberg, Gyroscope, Naugatuck River, Solstice, SHARKPACK, Triggerfish, Sweet Tree, and Ibbetson Street. Her poem “Gum Surgery” was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology. Her second book of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is available from Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com. Find her first book, Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014) on Amazon.com.  Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,600,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Donna Wallace

SAND ASHCAN

 

 

Beached cigarette butts

lean into tiny groups,

the porch ashtray’s cold,

rolled stumps deep in sand—

addiction holds vigil

over a litter of spent matches.

 

Snuffed and cocked

this way and that,

they talk, recollect how it felt

to be cupped from the wind

for a splint of wood

tipped with combustion

and a flick of friction,

lit between parted lips:

we glowed in light and dark

inhaled as fire, rose as smoke.

 

They remember the pack

the cellophane tear, the smack,

fingers that pulled them,

lips that nursed them,

lungs that took them in—

the glow

the party

the chatter

the revelry

the coffee

the next day’s

light—

 

Remember when

we were tall,

life was long,

we glowed

we smoked

wanting a light

wanting to burn.

 

 

 

Donna Wallace (Lewisville, NC) is currently president of Winston Salem Writers and director of Poetry In Plain Sight, now a state-wide initiative placing poetry in public spaces. Her poetry has been featured in Camel City Dispatch, Poetry In Plain Sight, A Funny Thing: A Poetry and Prose Anthology, Old Mountain Press, 2015. A retired nurse and seminarian, she enjoys riding her bicycle all over the place.

A Poem by Jami Macarty

Aground

 

 

at maximum ebb—

how goes the world

that nonpurposefully

runs your ship aground

 

horizontal hulk afloat mud flat

lies across wind

a dissonance that is there

but we don’t want it to be

 

alien afternoons the penalty

we don’t know what you know

 

how about this aseptic room

you don’t open your eyes in

every day swelling more tubes

tracheotomy questions

 

whose nurse’s hands

these are on your genitals

 

how you are unbroken

beyond what this is

 

one day every day

we keep thinking we will wake

from this tanker, its conspicuous

gloom filling the center

 

and you won’t be in that hospital bed

and the sea will be a magic again

 

 

Jami Macarty is the author of Landscape of The Wait, a chapbook of poems focusing on her nephew, William’s car accident and year-long coma (Finishing Line Press, June 2017) and Mind of Spring, winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award (Vallum October, 2017). Former Executive Director of Tucson Poetry Festival (1996-2005), she teaches contemporary poetry and creative writing at Simon Fraser University, is a co-founder and editor of the online poetry journal The Maynard, and writes Peerings & Hearings–Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass, a blog series for Anomalous Press A recipient of grants from Arizona Commission on the Arts, Banff Center, and BC Arts Council, among others; several times a Pushcart Prize nominee; a finalist for the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award, and the winner of the 2016 Real Good Poem Prize (a 2,000 purse!), her poems can be read in American and Canadian journals, including Arc Poetry Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Drunken Boat, The Fiddlehead, Grain, Prism international, Vallum: contemporary poetry, Verse Daily, and Volt.