teeth

there’s a winter where my heart should be
death is everywhere
her devotion to us,
and ours to her,
evident.

for years i kept a tooth
in my pocket
turning it over in my hand –
the human it belonged to gone forever
his ashes tossed into the sea.

the ghosts of the ocean
have lost their teeth
tiny white shells turning on the sand
the moon whispers to the tide,
who takes them home.

Mela Blust is a moonchild, and has always had an affinity for the darkness. She has been writing poetry since she was a child. Her work has appeared in Isacoustic*, Rust+Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, Rhythm & Bones Lit,and The Bitter Oleander, among others. She is the Head Publicist for Animal Heart Press, as well as a contributing editor for Barren Magazine. Her debut poetry collection, Skeleton Parade, is forthcoming with APEP Publications. You can find more of her work at https://melablust.com.

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Night on Prison Island

Wallabies dream in a honeyed night
garden of crocus and sweet alyssum.

Do they see the sad souls of those
who never left this prison paradise?

Beneath a warder moon, gold and
watchful above the roofless beach-

rock walls, the ghosts rise in white,
traipse in single, silent file through

neglected olive groves at the rhythmic
bidding of the tides. Cows low to the

mournful stories of stars, needles
rasp as rough hands push thread to

sew sails, the white figures huddled
cross-legged now under Moreton Bay

figs until just before dawn. Little girls
in white lace frocks play solemn hop-

scotch on the beach near the head-
stones, supervised by waxbills and

curlews. In their visions, the wallabies
coax them to ride on their backs, keep

the ghost babies warm in their pouches
on icy winter nights, but their young

eyes don’t smile. They were left behind
on this island to the eternal gossip of

dugongs and bats, noisy schoolchildren
by day, the smell of shell burning to

make lime, of sugar boiling, parents’
broken goodbyes. Their only crime –

that they were St. Helena children.
The wallabies wake, at last, to the

honesty of the sun, the grass sweet and
cool in the long shadows of the ruins.

Jane Frank’s poems have most been recently published in Cicerone Journal, Not Very Quiet, The Ekphrastic Review and an anthology titled Pale Fire: New Writing on the Moon (The Frogmore Press, 2019). She teaches creative writing and cultural studies at Griffith University in southeast Queensland, Australia.

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Unlocking the Box

Soap in the art gallery bathroom last week smelled the way a cold
confection called a Pink Panther did, its coconut ballet slipper coating
melting like wax in dog day stifle. Hours later, shoulder to shoulder
in the flame-orange booth seat, we’d eat Sauer pies a certain way –
butter-knife-slice the lids off carefully, set them aside, scoop steaming
mince out with a spoon, gobble pastry last, thick with sauce.

It must have been on one of those days that we found frilly lizard eggs
buried in the sandpit – maybe 15 or 20? Moved them in a wheelbarrow
to a tea towel-lined carton but I’ve no recollection past that. Last night when
I ripped off the tissue to find the old rusted safe box lock forced open,
it wasn’t just the trinkets re-found but years that flooded in waves across
the candlelit imitation-Lake-Como wall scenes

like shining streamers on a new bike – “no hands, no teeth” being called
smugly from somewhere behind, crepe-papered wheels and pastel floats
in a sea of buttercup and baby blue, Miss Spring Festival entrants gilded, in
skirts that flowed to the music of marching bands, a young John Farnham
crooning “Sadie” in the park for the adults before endless fireworks reflected
in the river for us, and the way we called for the colours by name,

the cold enormity of City Hall to Mary Mary Quite Contrary, the weight
of the watering can. The soft white cotton wool of your musketeer wig and
the velvet of your breeches. Ordinary days punctuated with the green of
St. Patrick’s Day ties, new paper dolls with wardrobes stored flat in
Gloucester shirt boxes, the sharp shock of a bee sting in the clover while
moving like a grass angel below an endless pale hypnotic blue –

that powder blue of the days, of the streamers, of my parents’ eyes
the lemon of the light, my towelling shorts, the custard kiss biscuits
and Pink Panther pink. Pale colours, melting.

Jane Frank’s poems have most been recently published in Cicerone Journal, Not Very Quiet, The Ekphrastic Review and an anthology titled Pale Fire: New Writing on the Moon (The Frogmore Press, 2019). She teaches creative writing and cultural studies at Griffith University in southeast Queensland, Australia.

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Rabbits Running

The hills are large, round animals,
smooth-skinned in the fading
light. I am pushing the boundaries,

coming out of the clouds. A whole
continent of them run beside
the car, like improbable guides.

Stone walls scribble their way
ahead across moorland, whole
slopes teeming, edged with a fuzz

of willow herb. A lone bird wheels
high over a deep valley and far
away, there are indecipherable

words despatched in snow. The
years since have run fast, angles
hard to fathom. It occasionally

occurs to me that somewhere
else, always, it is late summer, day
becoming night, rabbits running.

Jane Frank’s poems have most been recently published in Cicerone Journal, Not Very Quiet, The Ekphrastic Review and an anthology titled Pale Fire: New Writing on the Moon (The Frogmore Press, 2019). She teaches creative writing and cultural studies at Griffith University in southeast Queensland, Australia.

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Playground

I haven’t forgotten what we were like then,
when I couldn’t see over the kitchen table
and plastic sliding boards burned my legs.
We never thought about the discomfort, it happened
and off we ran with our make-believe soldiers.

It was instinct to take your hands and
rub chalk on the asphalt together,
laying on the rocky forgeries
of a Dr. Seuss book and
squinting at the animals in the clouds.

Our school has long since been derelict.
The parking lot is lone and level now,
eroded to graphite hues.
At some point I learned to hesitate
and grew taller than my mother.

Samuel Swauger is an author and poet from Baltimore, Maryland. His website is https://samuelswauger.com and his Twitter is @samuelswauger.

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Unstructured Ode to an Afternoon

white gumtree stands
dried bottled sunlight
pours winter through
thawed and pale

two ravens caw, whirl
their ways around the
parched twigs reaching
clear blue above

this thing is just a day
until i question myself
this thing
in a heat-bound September
when the wind travels
wayward

those ink-tainted animals
walk to winter
the way they don’t mind
snowing skin,
the way if there is a place
especially ones with doors
they will open
& stay

there is always home
there is always.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Homeward.

Duy Quang Mai is a seventeen-year-old from Hanoi, Vietnam, who is studying internationally in Sydney, Australia. His poems have been published or are forthcoming from The Lifted Brow, Cordite Poetry Review and the Poets in Revolt! anthology. Homeward is his first chapbook (Story Factory, 2018).

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when it rained

Christine A. MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor majoring in English, Psychology, and Creative Writing. She is a crisis counselor and likes to play with her Goldendoodle.

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