Audible Fall

Autumn inaugurates with puzzled children
pouting in classrooms as others stare like parents
slowing down at the drive-in theater of a car crash
wondering how one should feel, witnessing
filaments of leaves craft the hours into dusk.

M. N. O’Brien received his B.A. from Roanoke College, where he received the Charles C. Wise Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Right Hand Pointing, and The Ekphrastic Review, among other journals. He lives in Hudson, New Hampshire, and feels awkward writing about himself in the third person.

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Fruition

Here I am, giving the sky too much attention and lying
next to Georgia, a peach against her cheek. She gripes,
references the extinct phone booths, and checks back
every few minutes for change. I am skeptical of popular
valentines too, but this is the part of life I was warned
about. The part that isn’t cherry pie. But I never liked
cherry pie. That’s the real problem, trying to explain it.

What about her? She convinces me flowers grow in her
shoes when she doesn’t wear them and the leaf-filled
waters of park fountains can teach us more than science
channels. My real problem, she states, is watching the sea
gnaw away at shores while my muddied shoes stop me
from reaching the crowd, raindancing while levees break.
Her problem is coming to fruition without preservatives.

M. N. O’Brien received his B.A. from Roanoke College, where he received the Charles C. Wise Poetry Award. His poems have appeared in Drunk Monkeys, Right Hand Pointing, and The Ekphrastic Review, among other journals. He lives in Hudson, New Hampshire, and feels awkward writing about himself in the third person.

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Communion Slip

At seven, the thing that worried me most
(not host-choking…we’d practiced
with profane wafers, not to mention candy Neccos)
was that tulle slip under the lace and nylon skirt
of the sinless Communion dress
that cost a week’s salary. That erection of a slip
sticking out like a propeller
to loft the skirt in a frozen spin
around my worried thighs.

When I tried it on in the shop, it grated,
like Mom’s cheese gizmo
and I could not help wriggling
outside the dressing room
like a go-go girl under its abrasions
until Mom slapped me on the arm
and all the shoppers stared.

What if I sinned walking up the aisle,
just about to Receive – too late to confess –
would an emergency Hail Mary do the trick?

What if I tripped
and two whole rows of white-suited boys
sinned?

This is a reprint of work originally published in Verseweavers.

Catherine McGuire is a writer/artist with a deep interest in Nature, both human and otherwise. She’s had 3 decades of poetry in publications such as The New Verse News, FutureCycle Press, Portland Lights, Fireweed, and on a bus for Poetry In Motion. She has four chapbooks out: Palimpsests (Uttered Chaos) and three self-published (http://www.cathymcguire.com). Upcoming this year is a full-length book of poetry, Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press), in October and a deindustrial science fiction novel, Lifeline (Founders House Publishing), in November.

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Archipelago

The island cracked in two, God’s eyes set on its borders for too long;
The bridge cracked in two, the rain came pouring heavy on the brick;
The boat cracked in two, mast tumbling in the middle of the storm;
Guah-ma’s back cracked in two, the swell of waves leaving her on the shore.

The cross cracked in two, the front end swinging like a compass point;
The grave cracked in two, and none of us remembered guah-kong’s name;
The teapot cracked in two, leaving the scent of jasmine in the house;
The house cracked in two, and mother stayed alone in Chinatown.

The bed cracked in two, uncertain how to hold a daughter’s weight;
The skin cracked in two, incisions made into a stomach’s swell;
The name cracked in two, unsure which language fit onto the form;
The voice cracked in two, the moon a different thing in different tongues.

The phone cracked in two, she heard the dial tone and that was all;
The vein cracked in two, her blood was red like all the other blood;
The chest cracked in two, carrying tremors from her wracking coughs;
The girl cracked in two, one finger pointing west,
the other tracing lines across her heart.

Ethan Chua is a Chinese-Filipino spoken word poet, fiction writer, physics nerd, and occasional shower singer. His work has previously been published in major Philippine newspapers, along with Philippines Graphic, and various online publications. You can read more of his poems at https://medium.com/@ezlc327.

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Burial

Nothing, now –
leave the strands of a bob to the sky, black
marring cloud; the fields turned for
early frost. Another wheat-stalk is
raised to blue (gradient, just there) –
and how soon the people fall
softly against each other’s shoulders,
memory set like painted eggs on
the trembling earth. Today, the fruit
is sour, still, plums gestating; thank god
for slow rawness, stunned in
bloom, until the brink of winter. I
found nothing like a shadow, dull monsoon scars
or scabs eaten away in the shifting stone
– even the vowels were scraped back, washed:
hammered fact tilled for the people – turn
it gently by your wrist. I came one morning,
us, polar faces (before advent ends, you
must remember to touch the hoarfrost, horn
to horn, and let it melt against the palm
until both spell and tongue are bitter in
seasonal ways – eyes long from a
field locked bare). Given these months,
there’ll be time; in this moment
I can only remember the spoke of
an hour tuned into your throat, clever
in the sleepless lines, unseeable thread
bitten to stitch the trees; here, the fog is
a gift, juiced haze, blasted white like
our bones, burning in the midday sun.

Annie Fan is a high school student residing in Warwickshire, England. Recently, she was a commended poet for the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2015. Her work is published in The Cadaverine and The Blueshift Journal.

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since it’s dinner

it’s dinner, and i want to leave. i want to
break something,
while it still quivers, skimp its cover
before it picks itself up from dirt
and pleads. watch it
emerge like fish guts
stemming from the fingers,
its intestines sewn into calluses. i want
to taste something like the shape
of the word, satisfaction, hold the syllables
between the incisors
to flex them when i want to swallow
the taste of invisible. i want to listen
like an animal, pedal the sulfur stench
from a distance denuding. learn how
it speaks to itself, a language only known
to doves and its lovers. i want to tell myself
that it is alright to unwind, let breath well
up until its brink, until i break into its skin,
            tensing,
fracturing. i want to make love to the night, find
it while it is still soft as eraser, before it pinks. tighten
the womb as it enters like a kiss.

Alisha Yi is a writer from Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Up Downtown

You were very much short,
with dark hair and big hands.
And you liked the way she walked,
from downtown and over
& the way she paced in front
of kitchen windows, the way it was white
when she sat down in the big grove
of elm trees & the way the road covered up
the hitchhike in the fore-general store,
sometimes, with a bare, red wagon out front.
You liked the way the shop was painted—
the same sandy beige like the steep trail
just down the hill through the timber store,
underneath grey overcast skies that hung so low,
you could almost lick clouds. But you didn’t like
the way the wagon stopped: a bit beyond
the bay blue lake that was usually white-capped
like bare cotton balls & the way the big elm stood
naked, without something at all / the way the ache
clicked in you, like the same way her cane washed
the pegged walnut floors, erect under her palms.
You didn’t want to pretend, be blind,
from the absent peg on the kitchen window,
so that when you came down with the jug, a little bit
rumpled, you wouldn’t collect
the truth—she never had come.

Alisha Yi is a writer from Las Vegas, Nevada.

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