Art as a Wheel

A world seems to tumble
      off the fingertips
every time the hand reaches out to touch
      any particular thing.
Is this why circles
      are among the earliest known
art forms?
      I see the circle drawers
as the first obsessive/compulsives;
      may as well lay bricks in a line
or count till your final breath.
      —Better yet stop altogether
and start again by putting something
      in your circle, like birdsong.
Which connotes an egg.
      See what happens.

Mark Kerstetter steals time away from restoring an old house in Florida to write and make art out of salvaged wood. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Fruita Pulp, Fickle Muses, Jerry Jazz Musician, Evergreen Review and other journals. Please visit him at http://markkerstetter.com.

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The Empty Branch

There’s a moment some mornings when I don’t
long for more. I can’t plan my day around it,
but it shows up, suddenly like a lover’s email.
I might be staring out the rear window
watching the bare-limbed lilac twitch in the wind
and a bird the size of a kestrel will land.
He is out of place in the suburbs, fit for the fencerow,
the looping power lines. He folds his wings
and goes quiet. However, usually it’s when
I’m in transition, moving from the truck
to the house, or from the bedroom to the stairs,
when just for a moment, there’s a folding of wings—
nothing more to wish for. Of course, it’s fleeting,
and as soon as recognized, flies.

Al Ortolani has been a public school teacher in Kansas. His poetry and reviews have been accepted by journals such as New Letters, The Midwest Quarterly, The English Journal and the New York Quarterly. He has three books of poetry, The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, published by Woodley Press and Wren’s House, published by Coal City Press. He is an editor for The Little Balkans Review and works closely with the Kansas City Writers Place.

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Erubescent

It rose up from his kink of brush,
That rather foreign rose of flesh
And thus the hue of puzzlement
From Lagos to Uttar Pradesh.

Faced with the winking of Rubens
(Ironical scurrilities!)
We wondered how the game was scored,
This missionary sort of tease.

Where’s all the pallor you proclaim,
Your hacked, consumptive face of Christ?
Are pink and pale the utter poles
That bound your swerving Göttergeist?

The Christian soldier stamps the rood
On a white background to mark his ranks,
Then licks the scarlet of his hand
Left printed on a harlot’s flanks.

Uche Ogbuji (@uogbuji) was born in Calabar, Nigeria. He lived, among other places, in Egypt and England before settling near Boulder, Colorado. A computer engineer and entrepreneur by trade, his collection of poetry, Ndewo, Colorado was published by Aldrich Press in 2013. His poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and hip-hop influences, have appeared worldwide. He is editor at Kin Poetry Journal and The Nervous Breakdown, founder and curator of the @ColoradoPoetry Twitter project. He is also a founding member of The Stanza Massive, a small, DIY-minded group promoting members’ books of poetry, including through collaborative, multimedia experiments with their texts. His website: http://uche.ogbuji.net.

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Sailing Into Night

The sandpipers nosed the shoreline. The sailing breeze was quiet. Weathered rocks like an elephant’s hide jutted from the ocean’s surface. Robby and I wandered along that water’s edge. A child’s castle melted into muddy mush. Hush, hush, said the old lady, Goodnight.

My skin seared under his sticky fingers inching along my shoulder blade. The water hid my feet beneath its muddy blanket.

“I just want to be happy,” I said. I tilted my forehead, waiting for his judgment.

“Give me permission,” Robby asked—I could see the prayer bound in his throat.

I didn’t believe in a god, but Robby needed God, to give him permission to covet another man’s wife. To Robby, I had always been another man’s wife.

The chilly sea tickled my ankles. “Don’t you?” I said.

“That will come.”

He reached into his pocket, pulled a cigarette out with two fingers and placed it between his teeth.

He reached for my hands to block the breeze. He positioned my palms to cup his mouth: rounded, my thumbs linked, fingers parted—a child fluttering a shadow butterfly against the wall with only her hands and a flashlight in the dark. Goodnight.

Rebeka Singer is a writer, teacher, and banking ingénue living in her native Providence, RI. She received her MFA in creative fiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, Red Savina Review, Drunk Monkeys, DOGZPLOT, The Quotable, Corium Magazine, Crack the Spine, and elsewhere.

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Cinnabon – Fairlane Mall

My childhood is a Cinnabon from Fairlane mall,
its glaze a fountain
whose vanilla foam consumes my chin.
bread warm like the love
from black sitcoms
that make you wonder how love
could ever be Bill Cosby-cozy in reality.
Cinnabon means Good Times
means good food.
means stopping at Foot Locker
actually leaving with new Addidas this time
following up with a movie
accompanied by a bag of Reese’s Pieces.
All of this means mom got paid this week
which really means
my childhood is bi­weekly
as long as there are no bigger obligations
which really means my childhood is only relevant
during the months mom is not spending on her boyfriend
or ones where maybe there is no boyfriend
only repeated Tyreese CDs,
staying up past 9pm watching her
rediscover the way Newports
can bridge the gap between relationships
me, eating the Cinnabon she could not finish
because it reminded her too much of everything
my father was supposed to be to her.

Justin Rogers is a Detroit-based poet, visual artist, and educator. Finding poetry through the non-profit organization InsideOut Literary Arts Project, he began his writing career with local publications in InsideOut anthologies, Detroit newspapers, and college journals. Upon beginning his first tour, he completed his first small collection of poetry entitled Sound Off.  Rogers’ most recent accomplishments include literary and visual art publications in Wayne State University’s Wayne Literary Review, Red Beard Press’ Uncommon Core, and First Literary Review. Rogers currently attends Wayne State University as an Art and English Education major, is President of Student Org WayneSLAM (Wayne Student Literary Arts Movement), works as a writer in residence for InsideOut Literary Arts, and is working on completing his first full-length collection of poems and visual arts entitled Toilet.

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16 Steps to Praise

Mid-­argument with your spouse
Leave; Kneel in a closet.
Praise Him.

Repent Saturday night’s club
where danger of being moshed
into hardwood is worth
the heaven in its splinters.

Search for Him in the storage racks
of a Walmart backroom at midnight.

Lie face down on your daughter’s
sticky bedroom floor; Let her pray
out loud, no matter how slim
her vocabulary; Hands in air
nose to hell when asked
How you are so sure any god exists.

Write about angels.
Send to your non­-believing friends.

Look for bible verses in a vacant lot
full of creatures that have
no idea what sin looks like.

Sing worship in a language
miles from comprehension
but that you know
is far more beautiful than your own.

Mold a pulpit out of a loft window
at dawn in downtown Chicago,
where everyone is ready for work
but no one finds the brakes
long enough to praise it.

Pray barefoot upon the cold marble
of of an ancient Roman cathedral
where all of the tourists
will steal your blessing.

Attend a funeral for someone
whom you have never met;
mourn them and wish them heaven
as if they were your own.

Stand mid-lightning storm
in an open field
looking for holy ghost electricity.
Preach in an Emergency Room;
tell them it is an emergency.
Consecrate the pharmacy where
you wait for that Plan B pill.

Baptize yourself while writhing
on the floor when you finally
admit that, that man
is everything but a father.

Take communion
hold yourself steady
between the edges
of your closet doorway
before you do any of this.
Repeat.

Justin Rogers is a Detroit-based poet, visual artist, and educator. Finding poetry through the non-profit organization InsideOut Literary Arts Project, he began his writing career with local publications in InsideOut anthologies, Detroit newspapers, and college journals. Upon beginning his first tour, he completed his first small collection of poetry entitled Sound Off.  Rogers’ most recent accomplishments include literary and visual art publications in Wayne State University’s Wayne Literary Review, Red Beard Press’ Uncommon Core, and First Literary Review. Rogers currently attends Wayne State University as an Art and English Education major, is President of Student Org WayneSLAM (Wayne Student Literary Arts Movement), works as a writer in residence for InsideOut Literary Arts, and is working on completing his first full-length collection of poems and visual arts entitled Toilet.

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Met Cute

When we go out, I like to tell people
we met on a cruise ship
we snorkled into each other in the ocean
they always chuckle
and seem happy
they don’t want to know
about online dating
and that moment when I saw his face at the Thai place
and thought to myself
how he’d put on weight since his profile picture was taken
how he checked out the legs of a woman going to the bathroom halfway through our date
and then did it again on her way back to her table

Ian Sands lives in northern California with his wife and two cats. He has work forthcoming or published in Foliate Oak, Miracle, Feathertale, Oatmeal Poetry, and Asinine Poetry.

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