Devon Miller-Duggan: “Variations”

Variations

I.
Looking down
across the
purpled roofs—
Heidelberg—
I reach out
for your hand.

I clasp air,
which turns to
fire-opal,
anvil-weight,
comet-shard.

You are my
church and my
volcano—
wonders from
books of lists.

The turquoise
St. George glass
in Freiburg’s
cathedral—
we were there
together.
I won’t come
here again
without you.

II.
We are each other’s watchmakers—correcting gears, brushing dust, re-winding springs, then facing each to each and telling time like seven candlesticks. We were each other’s lathes, carving our rough branches to same-length-but-mismatched legs for the table made to hold our feast. We were changelings returned to each other’s waiting arms. We were the Long Day and Antediluvian Longevity compressed into the body of one dove.

III.
Be my friction-pulley, slide me through your gears.
Be my water motor, spill me through your years.
Be my crank-pin-lathe, file me fine as hairs.

Stag and Vine me, darling, I will be your field.
Arrow-shoot my bird’s breast, surely I will yield.
Juno and the Peacock me, I promise to be stilled.

I’m cardamom and nutmeg, so heat me in some butter.
I’m rosemary and thyme and dill—chop me with your cutter.
I’m ginger, summer savory, and sage—steam me in your water.

IV.
What clouds assume the most fantastic shapes?
For now, that’s our hearts’-house.

How purple-glowing is our hearts’-home?
Let’s go make up the mushroom bed we’ve gathered from.

What’s the dark?
The heart divided into two unequal, necessary chambers,

How to count depth by dropping torches?
Yet we find the river.

V.
We’ll build all through the time we have—
spruce up our Palace of the Sun, add shine to our new history and histories
and make the country that we are seethe earth-oil.
We’ll build the veranda you’ve always wanted on our house.
Dear husband, I recommend me to you.

 

Devon Miller-Duggan has published poems in Rattle, Shenandoah, Margie, Christianity and Literature, Gargoyle. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008), Neither Prayer, Nor Bird (Finishing Line Press, 2013), Alphabet Year, (Wipf & Stock, 2017).

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Corey Mesler: “Cleanse Me”

Cleanse Me

Everyone’s back is soiled
except the man in the cave
whose back is a wall.
People arrive daily, con-
fused, in need. They
speak with wee voices, like
squeaks in a broken wheel.
They say, I am alone and
no one will cleanse me.
They say, tell me something
hopeful, we’re all dying.
The man in the cave retires
for five years. When he
returns no one seeks his ad-
vice. There are people in
other caves now. There are
still questions without
answers. There are long lines,
like a genealogy, lines of
applicants who want to re-
place the man in the cave,
who now never speaks, never
speaks. There is a silence,
a lingering silence like rainfall.

 

Corey Mesler has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Poetry, Gargoyle, Five Points, Good Poems American Places, and New Stories from the South. He has published 9 novels, 4 short story collections, 5 full-length poetry collections, and a dozen chapbooks. His novel, Memphis Movie, attracted kind words from Ann Beattie, Peter Coyote, and William Hjorstberg, among others. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart many times, and 3 of his poems were chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife, he runs a 142-year-old bookstore in Memphis. He can be found at https://coreymesler.wordpress.com.

Robert Okaji: “Vesuvius”

Vesuvius

When the earth shrugs,
some warnings are better
heeded. A little

smoke, some ash.
A knife point held to the chin.

Why listen at all?
The man in the big house hides in its vastness.
Surrounded, he walks alone.
People speak, but he hears only himself.

Meanwhile,
the mountain
belches

and the birds fly north
seeking firm ground
upon which to land.

 

Robert Okaji lives in Texas. The author of three chapbooks, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wildness, Vox Populi, Birch Gang Review, and elsewhere.

Lowell Jaeger: “Blacktail Deer Road”

Jaeger

Lowell Jaeger (Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019) is founding editor of Many Voices Press, author of seven collections of poems, recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council, and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.

John Grey: “Tornado X”

Tornado X

I am enthralling
because I can rip
roofs clean off
and send cars and cows
spiraling through the air.

If I don’t happen to you,
I’m the best and rawest thing
out there.

A flying neighbor
is better than sex.
No drug
like horses in one field,
their stalls in another.

Corkscrewing, flattening,
lifting, moving…
what stimulates more?
Look out your window
as I sweep by.
Work with me.
 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Front Range Review, Studio One, and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Naugatuck River Review, Abyss and Apex, and Midwest Quarterly.   

Hannah Wells: “Nightingale”

Nightingale

I.
Touch is an outward growth that pulls intangibility
out through the frenetic slips of light
as if from water.
It is an act of mercy, a plea
for the silence as reconciliation.

II.
A soporific distraction,
the champagne sky casts my breath in bronze;
I chase the last hours down and the earth’s latitude
spills over the length of my shadow.

III.
Penitence ripens in the palm of grief until all that remains
are the colors of your voice, an offering around which
I hem my day before we dissolve
in tangent blades between the grass.

IV.
Promontories of the song outside the window, listen
the nightingale nails you to the falling sun,
he sings you down into the dust.

V.
One by one I place at your feet
stones that became words taken from flesh and wonder
if there is a way to reassemble us from this frenzy of silence.

 

Hannah Wells is 27 years old. She graduated with honors and a BA in English from Wayland Baptist University, where she completed an honors thesis in poetry and two one-act plays, both which were performed at the WBU theatre. She will have her first publication through Anima Poetry Press in the Summer/Fall of 2017. She strives to capture the specificity of visceral moments found in nature through a spiritual perspective.

Jon Riccio: “Diseasethesia”

Diseasethesia
 
My mother was an acupuncturist, her practice near the overpass
closest to your coatrack, a needle coterie the day I learned the pitch

equivalents for disease. I say this queueing the CD of a string quartet,
the violist with a Stradivari and guesthouse face. He never said heartthrob
 
though I love it when a T de-camouflages an H, his hemophilia a bathtub’s
E-flat, the weekend garrisoned in shale. G-sharp ameliorating my malleus

during the comic-book dealer’s demise, full-page fumes bound by ink
older than office rot, his aneurism intoned. The hum a half-step higher

after the chocolatier’s stroke, samplers strewn like candied Morse,
the stretcher navigating a parquet of petit fours. D-flat, staring at

my father’s dresser and stevedore is all I think, the jacuzzi
harboring arrhythmia, sine waves emblazoning his robe.

B, driving to your house, handcuffs baked into a pineapple
upside down cake, your bedsores a purgatory for cored fruit.

I didn’t know which of us infirmity’s wheelhouse had pinged
until I heard the fourth track of Donovan’s Greatest Hits,

its harmonica the heart attack I hoped to avoid. Scalar
aorta, a CAT scan dolloping. Through me, a Camerata

of disease. Listen, the least I’ve done.

 

 

Jon Riccio is a PhD candidate and composition instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. His work appears in apt, Booth, Cleaver, Hawai’i Review, Jazz Cigarette, Steel Toe Review, and Visitant, among others. He received his MFA from the University of Arizona.