Loving you is like having that
slight rip of skin next to a fingernail,
a thread of flesh too short to cut,
too long to ignore.
As I move through the day,
my finger stings from soap
when I bathe your children,
and catches and rips against denim
when I fold your laundry.
To unzip the loose membrane
exposes pink translucence,
throbbing, maybe bleeding,
so I bear the singing pain
as it seeps into the rest of me
with a trembling sorrow.
One Morning in the Zika Zone
A breeze dusts
the rusty fire escape
and flutters curtains
inside her bathroom window.
The splashes finally stop.
She sighs and brushes a curl
from her own damp brow.
She lifts her baby’s flaccid body from the tub
and places it, dripping and still,
in the middle of the yellow terry shower mat.
She sees no trace of herself
in the flattened face
and stunted skull.
A pale halo of sunshine glints off
the medicine chest mirror.
She squints away the glare,
breathing a sweet cloud of talc
as she sobs and sprinkles white dust
over this ravaged remnant from her body.
Christine Jackson teaches literature and creative writing at a South Florida university. Her poetry has been published in many online publications, including The Slag Review, The Phoenix Soul, The EkphrasticReview, and Verse-Virtual. For more, please see http://cahss.nova.edu/faculty/christine_jackson.html
Back from the city, coppice gate to ride,
I muse on life ill spent, more fortune than
design, the early evening of this year’s
midnight, a breviary to wasted time.
This sky’s the brushwork of a fallen star,
red shifted might-have-beens, a running sore
despondent with hindsight - and portents too,
the wounded herald, battles, wrongs to right.
Big picture bleared, betrayed by those supposed
to fight their corner on Damascus Road,
dismayed, they’re bloody-minded, foxes out
to beat the hunting ban, apostasy,
side with the enemy, M way to self-
destruct, vote Brexit, sound the final Trump.
Peter Branson, a native of N. Staffordshire, has lived in a village in Cheshire, UK, for the last twenty-six years. A former teacher and lecturer in English Literature and creative writing and poetry tutor, he is now a full time poet, songwriter and traditional-style singer whose poetry has been published by journals in Britain, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Australasia and South Africa, including Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Anon, Envoi, The London Magazine, The North, Prole, The Warwick Review, Iota, The Butcher’s Dog, The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, SOUTH, Crannog, THE SHOp, Causeway, Columbia Review, Main Street Rag and Other Poetry. He has won prizes and been placed in a number of poetry competitions over recent years, including a ‘highly commended’ in the ‘Petra Kenny International’, first prizes in the ‘Grace Dieu’ and the ‘Envoi International’, a special commendation in the Wigtown and silver medal award in the Desmond Healy, 2016. His last book, ‘Red Hill, came out in 2013. His latest collection, ‘Hawk Rising’, from ‘Lapwing’, Belfast, was published in early April 2016.
My father had two birthdays,
but a single life. He kept both papers
with zeal, they witnessed his existence.
His birth certificate had him registered
on a different day than the one we celebrated.
With one of those dates my tired father bribed death.
My sister and I always asked him
to tell us about his childhood.
He preserved intact the hamlet,
the village, his mother, his brothers.
The wondering, menacing animals,
the trees, imprecise like someone's dream
plus, every leaf in his lineage, each fruit
with the lukewarm temperature of its pulp.
The river close to the house,
the inexhaustible rancor.
He disappeared on that shore
at the age of six. He rose
from the worm entrails of dawn
and left without giving notice.
The house was calm, a sleeping cow,
his footsteps on the thin branches
could hardly be heard.
He would sleepwalk with his eyes
sealed with wax. Grandmother told me
she caught him by the stream ready to jump,
seek out the fish that were like threads that someone
braided to escape existence.
In his stories, things had equivocal
gestures. They gave the impression
of being disguised as themselves.
They were covered with a sweet
tree bark where, and over the years,
moss had grown and ants had opened paths
without being seen.
His father barely allowed my father
to remember him. He wasn't a man,
he was anger, a handful of knuckles,
wanton, brutal desire. He hung inert
at the center of my father's memory,
dangling face down, open throat,
while the soft clay
of his blood poured into a pot.
Inheritance must be read upside-down,
traversed with the finger
as if you were following the unequal
punctuation marks of braille.
Navigate upward, then make a boat
with the sad wood of the body.
Sergio A. Ortiz is a gay Puerto Rican poet and, the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. He is a two time Pushcart nominee, a four time Best of the Web nominee, and a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have been published in hundreds Journals and Anthologies. He is currently working on his first full length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.
In the womb of the vast middle
east disaster zone, we built the world’s
largest moving heart structure to prevent
radiation spewing from nuclear sites
ink-dried sun recited:
this spell will be a start
Now trees sprout from the rusted pipes and crumbling roofs a new wonder
splashes through the windows, holds
the house of nuclear
meltdown close. The arch covers the site, closes in on the outflow. Reactors
dismantle when we wake up far
from that dimmed dimension:
this is the most important work we have ever done.
The zone remains uninhabitable, closed to visitors, but branches
reach for the expanse/an open surgery (or evolution)
to find space for lighter definitions of the daylight’s f l o w
an utterance about the strangeness of the new clear mind
an opening of questions
like what have you felt so deeply?
Saint of the Gutter Trance
Feeding the poorest of the poor,
We live in the soul of a city
No rooms for complacency when hunger
For love, you say
Is so much more difficult (to remove)
Than hunger for bread; she heals
Men who call caves their home
With prayers (openings through which
The sun beams weave) lush jungles
Down the side of serrated cliffs
The shrill call of birds and macaque
Monkeys echoing off the limestone
Drifting in from the unseen world
Beyond the skylight, or what we called
This place when we first discovered it
Forms and foam tied up and thrown
To the bottom
Of the calm
Madiha is a student of creative writing at the University of Oxford. In addition to a poetry collection entitled "The Lightworkers of Amman," she is currently working on a project about women explorers from the 1920s. Her poetry has been Longlisted for the National Poetry Prize as well as Shortlisted and Commended for Oxford's Martin Starkey Prize. To stay in tune with her adventures, follow her on Instagram.