Someone Threw Down a Wildflower Garden in an Empty Lot in Newark

By Theresa Burns

Featured Art by  Robert Jacob Gordon

And now, instead of staring at the weeds
and broken bottles from the train platform,
we’re taking in a scene from a Monet.
Asters, cosmos, little yellow fists
of something. All random and confetti.
I’m half expecting a lady in a high-waist
dress and bonnet to appear on a diagonal
stroll through its splendor, pausing
with her parasol so we can selfie with her.
Maybe she’ll hop aboard the light rail
to the Amtrak station, get off in D.C.,
step back into the painting she escaped from.
Who was the genius who thought of this?
What meadow-in-a-can Samaritan
got sick of passing the four-acre eyesore
on the way to work? Shook pity into blossom.
To whom do I write my thank you?
Mayor, surveyor, county clerk, church lady.
Who marched down to city hall, begged
anyone who would listen?

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I propose we worship the mud dauber

By Jessica Pierce

Featured Art by Pieter Holsteyn

The female in particular seems worthy.
She carries mud in her jaws to make her nest
one mouthful at a time, setting up
in a crevice or a corner. One egg,
one chamber. One egg, one chamber.
It’s better to keep them apart, as larvae don’t
know the difference between food and
a brother or a sister. They aren’t wicked,
just young and hungry. She has pirate
wasps to battle—they want her young
to feed their own offspring—and she does this
alone, drinking flower nectar to keep
herself going. Let’s just try

and see what happens when we raise up
this winged thing who will hover by your feet
without attacking. Covered with dense golden
hair and sometimes described as singing while
she works, all she wants is bits of damp dirt.
She has a slender thorax and two thin
sets of wings to carry her and
her earth. She is exactly strong enough
for what she needs to do. She doesn’t burn
or proclaim or fill your head with visions
as she hunts crab spiders and orb
weavers and black widows. Yes, let’s ask

her to pray for us as she stings
a black widow, brings it to its knees,
and sets off to feed her children,
singing as she holds up the world.

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Wants

By Chris Greenhalgh

I want a punchbag hung in my office and / people to hear the first thump straight
after they leave. / I want you to call me. I want the linctus with / the double action
that both soothes my throat and / brings back memories of a time when I was loved.
/ I want the road below me, the sun above me / and beside me, you. I want to wipe
the legend / “You Will Die” spelled backwards from the bathroom mirror / each
morning as I brush my teeth. I want you / to drive while I change gears. I want my
life story / voiced by William Shatner. I want a belle dame / with plenty of merci.
I want a view of the sea. / I want the future with you and me in it. / I want my
doctor not to have a personalized / number plate. I want my coffee hot, my mattress
/ hard and my maps beautiful rather than useful. / I want small hard bits of chocolate
snapped 
off. / From mind, I want world. From lips, I want the madness / of kissing.
I want to know where businesses / end and scams begin. I want to confuse salesmen
/ by offering more than the asking price. I want to / stand in an elevator shaft
of rainfall / and look up into the light. I want to know where / you were last night.
I want this confederacy / of selves dismantled and slowly made whole again.


Chris Greenhalgh received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 1992. Born in Manchester, UK, he completed his Ph.D. on the poetry of Frank O’Hara in 1993. He has since published two novels, three books of poetry, and the screenplay of Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. He currently lives and works in Milan.

Squids

By Liz Breazeale

Featured art by Nsey Benajah

The first ghost stepped out of the ocean in the summer, shimmering and hazy with captured light. We saw the age in her body, moving as though still burdened by a vast and lonely sea. Her wrinkles like the finest, most fragile spiderwebs we’d ever destroyed.

She came to rest on a foamy lip of shore. Her outline was set and static, her insides swirling, misty, full of translucent opals spun in an ancient hand. We realized later that every ghost was different in texture, but only when we couldn’t count them anymore, when they’d packed themselves across the sand.

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Watching For You

By Connie Zumpf

Featured art by Callie Gibson

You’ve seen it.
That slight shudder of shadow
on the fringe of your vision.
The thing you think you might have seen
while reading Proust at night.

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Run in such a way that you will obtain it

By Justin Danzy

like Damon did, run clear across the Gulf until the second transplant slows
you, like Dave until the glaucoma sat him down, Janice
ran to the islands to evade it but a hurricane got her, Kim never made it south
of Baltimore, and Anthony, he tried to trick it, changed his name
so it couldn’t find him though it still did, Cordia Jean turned to the bottle
instead of facing it, Beulah stayed put and dared it to come
get her, cost Fred his legs if nothing else, Howard’s eyes went and
it came quick after that, same with Virginia once her mind tapped out,
Mac tried to sue it away but that got him nowhere, P learned to sing to
try to seduce it, Cherry, she just cursed it and called it a day,
Jacques wrote his own Bible and claimed authority over it, Luck served it peach
cobbler as a peace offering, better than Brian, who turned and ran back straight
into it, did it twice actually, he looked it dead in its eye
and charged until running felt like fleeing no longer


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Interrogation Scene

By Allison Elliott

Featured art by Edward Penfield

That cat on the corner, drowsy in the arms
of a sleepy-eyed woman. That cat knows something.

You’ve indulged several seasons of vague forecasts,
now you’re playing bad cop with the weather.

A traffic light changes before you’ve finished crossing,
What can that mean? What future portend?

You pass a two-seater buggy with only one baby. Make
a note of it. It might come up later.

The drunk who yells all night under your window
was gone three days, now he’s back.

The Spanish lullaby on the radio,
the eyelash in your lemon tea.

Star witnesses with nothing to tell you.
And they were your whole case.


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What I Meant to Say

By Emily Alexander

friends I am not in love these days I wait
for the bus when it’s cool enough
I bake little treats in muffin tins for fun
I say sea urchin        squash blossom

vacuous oh no I’m afraid
I don’t know

what this means and many others the usual
fears plus some     uniquely mine balloons popping
in a small room needing immediately

a tooth pulled in a city I’m only visiting strange
coffee shops parking lots
I’m not sure
the rules here     maybe these are
usual after all I don’t mean what I say

always what’s the difference these days
before going anywhere I out loud
say     phone wallet keys

yesterday I said it and still
forgot all I needed then from the freeway

the ocean right there among everything oh

friends I’m just undone you know
what I mean       truth is these days I find myself
occasionally full

of rage other times beer sitting with Halle
on her bedroom floor  what’s new

oh man did you hear
about whoever I’m hungry are you
a little flimsy
drunk now the city rumors its width around us

and sometimes over it we just say
very quietly yeah


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How It Ought to Be

By David J. Bauman

Featured art by Édouard Manet

When we stepped up into the bus that shuttled us
from car to hospital, she was talking to the man in
the overcoat and fedora. But at the next stop,
he stood up, tipped his hat and clambered down the steps.

Her smile made me think of plums, though barely a brush
of rouge on her cheeks. She wore a heavy, old-woman’s wrap-
around, like a blanket with buttons, tugged about her like a fur
stole. The bus lurched forward, and she turned toward the lady

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Stolen Hard Drive

By John Moessner

Featured art from rawpixel.com

It contained home movies where he wore
goggle-sized glasses, a toweled shoulder holding
a small redhead at a birthday party, three hours

of ripped paper like static on a radio, the sun flaring
off the ripples of the neighborhood pool. What do
those thieves think of your soccer games,

the Go girl! and the rain that drove him cursing to the car?
What about last Christmas? He was too tired, so you held the
camera instead and closed in on his drooped head

nodding while everyone opened gifts. Would they tear up
thinking of their fathers, would it convince them to call more?
Ripped from your life, just a plastic box in a bag of stuff.

Maybe before wiping it clean, they will browse your home
movies and say, What a good father, what a good life.


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No, Nothing

By Daryl Jones

Featured art by Jozef Israëls

He’s in one of his funks again,
my stepmother’s warned me,
hair shaggy and mussed, baggy clothes afloat
on his skinny frame.

My father makes hardly a dent
in the overstuffed sofa he’s sitting on.

No, he’s not hungry.
No, nothing in the paper interests him.
No, there’s nothing I can do

but stare blankly into the distance where he’s staring

as I did sixty years ago when we hunched
shivering and silent on five-gallon buckets
flipped upside down on the ice of Cedar Lake,
waiting for a tiny red plastic flag
to snap to attention.

Now and then, we would stand up stiffly,
huffing and hugging ourselves, stamping our feet,
then skim the slurry from the augured holes
and sit down again, nothing to do but wait,
testing our wills against the deadening cold

and the wily old lunker pike we pictured

in the black, still depths below, impervious
to the booted thunder rumbling overhead,
hunkered down, hovering in its singular darkness,
grim, stubborn, defiant.


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Learning

By Kelly Michels

Featured art by rawpixel.com

A new cure is invented every day,
along with a new disease
because every miracle needs a
disaster to survive, and there is no
shortage
of disaster, the sparrows have learned
to eat anything under the slash-and-burn
of the sun, and the children have learned
how to weave plastic buttercups into bracelets
between the alphabet and spoonfuls of NyQuil
their mothers give them before bed
where they dream of the swish of scar tissue
behind their teacher’s glass eye.

We tell them: There is horror. There is pain.
There are people wedged between bullets
and mud floors, between cracked river ice
and broken elevator shafts. But not here.
Never here.

Now, we sit still as an Eames chair, and the children
will never know the bridge of a song the rain spells
out in the sand on an October morning.
It is safer behind closed doors and windows, safer
where the wheat and ragweed and daisies
can kill no one.

We tell them: We have seen the grim amoeba of lake water,
the blizzard of ocean waves lashing against the curved spine

of coast, the blue-eyed grass raising itself like a rash toward
the swollen ache of sun, the sting of salt, grazing the long arm
of a bluff. We have lived it. We know better now.
We have knelt at the rim of a cliff and looked down. We
have fallen, felt the pulse of the sea pull at our hair and
it was not kind.

Child, put your ear to the conch shell and listen.
This is enough.


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The Pasture Ponds

By John Bargowski

Featured art by Kieran Osborn

You know the spot, that sharp left off
the county road to Hope

that passes the roadside shrine
her classmates built to our
youngest,

the blank stones that mark the old
Presbyterian graveyard,

then on past the last rusted knob
of safety rail

where a graveled lane cuts through
swampy woods.

The pair of wood drake decoys
Hubert anchored to the bottom

riding out every weather on the big pond,
the splotch of white on their sides

that catches in our high beams
as we round the curve.

The twiggy wrack of alder and sumac
clipping the sideviews

as we pass through streaks of moonlight
burnishing the shields


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