The day that she died

The day that she died,

I made sure to set all the clocks back two hours. I don’t know what kind of person likes to know the exact time that their life ended, but I am not one of them.
 

I take the shards of the broken glass from where the window has been broken in by an unseen fist and I trace my reflection in their eye. Already, I cannot recognize myself. Already I am older and it has only been twenty minutes since I have received the news that my sister has died.
 

For five years, the tears within my throat sealed themselves away, unwilling to let anything beckon them forth. My body was a salt mine, an ocean full of shipwreck, as I treaded those years unaware that my body was betraying me. Unaware that this trauma had found me like a thief in the night, taking my youth away with it under its skin, leaving my mother broken in her body, sobbing on the kitchen floor.
 

I don’t know how many times I can keep repeating this story, of the boy with the lantern clutched in his fist, moving through the night thinking he was a warrior, because when you are stripped of everything that made you human, when you cannot even trust the air around you, what are you left to be but a fighter? Tyler Durden in the flesh spoke to me when I was sixteen years old and offered me another way to destroy my world. I took it with eyes wide open.
 

But when the story lives as you do, drinking from cups of coffee, attending two years of college in Minnesota, lying stripped bare in a bed that a woman you thought was your friend has forced you into, you realize that this story is evolving as you do, this story is a companion that you will not shake. You invite it into your life. You watch it with crumpling eyes as it tells you another reminder that you will never meet your sister’s children. You watch it with exhaustion, wondering, “How can I still be hearing this same story? Seven years later, I have given my pounds of flesh, what more do you want from me?”
 

I have learned that past is always present, she is a tired woman with broken wings asking for a seat at the table. When you deny her, she is prone to become violent, she will strip down the walls of your house until you are naked and the wind is carving its own truth into your back. Or you may invite her to dinner. Serve her a tomato soup that your mother is famous for, she will remember it will, she will eat like she has not eaten in seven years, and as you watch her you will remember. You will remember that you cannot ever forget. Your sister is a woman of the night now, instructing you how to put your life onto a page, she watches you with all the sympathy that her eyes can muster. All that she asks is that you look back at her, and remember how far you have come since your throat was sealed off from the rest of the world, since the only way to shed a tear was to beat your body into an unholy submission.

All that she is asking now for is a prayer: to let your body recover the flesh it has already given to pain. To know that you and she will always be the last two alone together in any given room.

Ian Powell-Palm is a writer, poet, and musician currently living in Bozeman, Montana. You can find out more about his poetry and his future readings at his Facebook page, Powell-Palm Poetry.

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Dawn refuses to come

Dawn refuses to come. It is always night here. Spring is clenched in a child’s fist and that child is unrelenting. She will keep spring to herself as long as she has teeth, she will keep spring to herself as long as there is a point in doing so. And there will always be a point.
 

The sun is an old friend with a drinking problem. She refuses to rise if there’s no one watching.
 

A man carves a compass into the Earth below his feet, looking for the way to Jerusalem. Only the city is burning, and the smell of honey is everywhere. Only Jerusalem has never existed except on a map, only there never was a city called Jerusalem and this man is the last believer in town. He knows that he was dead the moment he let himself pray. He leaves town. It is already too late.

Dawn is a child, clenching spring in her fist. She bears the many shades of my mother and she is unrelenting. She knows that Jerusalem has fallen to a man with honey blinding his eyes.

She knows that it has fallen to a man with honey clenched inside of his jaw.

Ian Powell-Palm is a writer, poet, and musician currently living in Bozeman, Montana. You can find out more about his poetry and his future readings at his Facebook page, Powell-Palm Poetry.

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DO YOU DRIVE?

Sunlight in the kitchen.
A good book. Unopened.
In such strange places
gird up your loins.
Bind up your breasts.
You have to balance up flavours
that one is not overpowered.
That little man with the garlic and ginger beard;
was his the face of death? Or heatstroke?
Tell the tale of every human being,
loved and unloved, killed in war
that the world may weep forever. That
there is no dust where there is water.
Why cling to the cloth that robed the spirit
when the spirit has flown?
Killing for islands and unreliable gods.
Thought exhausts us.
Do you drive?

Mike McNamara, B.A. (Hons.) Humanities, was born in Ireland but lives in South Wales, UK. Overhearing the Incoherent: Selected Poems was published by Grevatt and Grevatt in 1997. His poetry has been published in Acumen, Aji, Dream Catcher, Envoi, Eunoia Review, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Lyric, New Welsh Review, Orbis, Reach, Subterranean Blue, Tears in the Fence, etc. Mike also had a selection of poems published in The Pterodactyl’s Wing (Parthian, 2003). His e-book This Transmission was published in September 2019 by The Argotist Online. His collection Dialling A Starless Past is due for publication with Arenig Press in December.

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Four rituals in Sa-hae

I.            Wake to a familiar scent

Grandmother’s tteokguk,
a recipe, impossible
to follow

Let your tongue caress
the rice cake, every
pinch of salt and pepper,
carrying the whittled droplets
of sweat

Wishing, the aroma
would remain,
like sacramental bread received
from blind apparitions

 
II.            Change into the hanbok

Let your eyes adjust
to the bell-shaped
dress

The satiny texture,
a familiar warmth found
on grandmother’s bed

Hues of purple
and pink, distract
the coagulation of
sweat beneath

 
III.            Perform a Jul

Procedure:

a. Face an elder, placing
both hands on your
forehead

b. Begin to descend, kneeling
until your head touches
the ground

c. Wait patiently to receive
a green bill

d. You may wish it was
yellow, but remember to
bow and say thank you.

 
IV.            Add a number

The candles on the cake, lightened,
begin to thaw, drip against
whipped cream, the scent
of incense, hinting
the end of the year

Jaewon Chang is a high school junior living in the Philippines. His works have been recognized in the Scholastic Art & Writing awards and literary magazines like the Blue Marble Review. He enjoys solving math problems and meeting new people.

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Muted Powder

The street lamps that fail
to expand light, within

the presence of snow, blurring
windows, like mirrors

in a bathroom after a torrid
bath, the tracing of a smiley

face over the moisture,
the genus of Rafflesia

wrung like green beans
blanched for hours,

helplessly shredding itself
with grasshoppers, an ocean

exists nearby, a young boy
caressing sand castles,

unaware of the waves
that will lick them,

or perhaps the rain could
watch the slow dissipation

of sand, coating an extra layer
above the drawing on the window.

Jaewon Chang is a high school junior living in the Philippines. His works have been recognized in the Scholastic Art & Writing awards and literary magazines like the Blue Marble Review. He enjoys solving math problems and meeting new people.

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American Sonnet 12

One magic bullet in the brain
parts the sea and snaps the intestine.
Have you ever seen the rain
charm the cold dead hands of Charlton Heston?

Holy Moses has left the Weston.
We all need something to invest in.
Make America grateful for once.
You damn dirty cocks and cunts!

Can’t breathe with all this oxygen
waking me up from my dreams!
Ms. Liberty half-buried in screams.
Who died and made you Puritan?

Hail Mary, full of apes. Some origin.
The trend justifies the memes.

John Martino is an avid traveler currently residing in San Francisco with his partner, Xiuli. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in What Rough Beast, Rat’s Ass Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, HEArt Online, Connotation Press, and the anthology Envy: 7 Deadly Sins Vol. 6 from Pure Slush Books.

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Trespassing in Topeka

Endless rows of corn
and wheat wave in unison
as June gusts gently bend
endless acres of young
grain, as expansive as an
ocean’s stretch to the horizon.
A straight ribbon of asphalt
crisscrosses the Kansas plains.
At seventy we roar past silver
silos glistening in a waning
noontime sun. Like Oklahoma
tumbleweeds rolling eastward
across the interstate, the cloudline
gathers in clumps of dark gray
and black. Thunderhead lines
of rain plummet the pavement
while frantic wipers race at high
speed. An AM radio station
crackles when the weatherman
notes a tornado touchdown
a town away. We take the exit,
order coffee at the diner counter,
a few feet from a neon sign
hanging in the window, its red
glow hauntingly flashing “OPEN”
against an afternoon licorice sky.

Jim Brosnan’s publishing credits include Nameless Roads (Moon Pie Press, 2019), four chapbooks of poetry and over 500 poems, most recently appearing in the Aurorean, The Avocet, The Bridge, Eunoia Review (Singapore), Nine Muses Poetry (Wales), Strand (India), Voices of the Poppies anthology (UK) and forthcoming in the Scarlet Leaf Review (Canada). Jim has won numerous awards in the annual National Federation of State Poetry Societies competition. He is a full professor of English at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI.

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