Heart or Reason by Jo Burns

With us, es ist verboten to smoke and cycle on the pavement.
It is customary to drink apple juice mixed with carbonated water.
It is mandatory to observe the weather’s effect on circulation.
Varicose veins without tights, or shoes indoors are a sin.

It is obligatorisch to correct even small irrelevant points in stories.
Eight thirty or Eight thirty-five makes all the difference in the detail.
It is unsere Pflicht that even small truths must always be spoken.
If we are lazy with those, what will happen to the big ones?

It is responsible to add the mustard of our opinions to your problems.
It is our making-good- duty to voice our Angst at this time.
It is regrettable to only talk of a past we have moved on from.
But Island friends with the black humour. Have you?

You sent your men to die for a big truth once.
We are grateful that you freed us (and reason) from him*
It is our duty to warn you how a nation can be duped when uncertain.
We have been there but now it’s looking red, white and blue.

*A 1937 German national socialist essay aimed at propagandists “Heart or Reason? What We don’t Want from Our Speakers”, explicitly complained that speakers should aim for the heart, not for reasoned argument or understanding.

 

 

 

Jo Burns is a 39 year old scientist and lives in Germany. She is one of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2017. You can find her on Twitter @joburnspoems.

This Is Supposed to Be by Aaron Brossiet

an ode to a girl wearing red
shoes, but it got fucked up
along the way by reports
of pink slime supplementing
our ground beef like packing
socks in your crotch to add
girth to your limp meat. Then
a Presidential candidate
yacks it up in the Sunshine State
about building colonies on Mars
while a black kid is shot armed
with Skittles & an ice tea. Because
we don’t wear guns in rooms where
teenagers learn, my state Senator
says I am working in the last mass
murder empowerment zone.
Then my aunt leaves a note
and dies. In a home. Not her
home. She writes, “No visitation.
No memorial. Just think of me.”
Which I am, though I’m also
thinking about the girl in the red
shoes, and what she did to save
that three legged dog dodging
cars in the street. But then Carlos
tells me Fabian was jumped. He
says this giggling. His brother.
Broken orbital. He points to his eye.
Broken cheekbone. Splattered nose.

 

 

 

Aaron Brossiet has poems previously published in The Mac Guffin, Jet Fuel Review, Drunk Monkeys, Sky Magazine, Mudfish Magazine, and Redneck Review.  He earned his M.F.A. from the University of Texas El Paso. You can find him on twitter @AaronBrossiet and instagram @aalawbro.

Two Poems by Erica Bodwell

Sonnet Responding to Evil

+++++++for Elie Wiesel  1928-2016

Evil, where do you exist? Branded
on the forearm—A-771
of a Romanian born in 1928?
Inside the minds of men? If the camera could
turn from conquest—what would such courage take?
Oh Ricoeur! Satan, snake, stain, sin—symbols
Indelible, mediated—saturate
our hearts and brains. Defiled, a girl
no longer leaves the house. Let’s sweep stories
from her door. Tell the horror of her walk
for water, name who threw her to the ground.
Listen to the messenger for mankind:
we must always take sides. When voices still,
we must lend them ours.

 

In Spite of the News

++++++for Emari

Tamworth’s lowbush blueberries
reveled in the relentless sun, turning
their powdery faces skyward
as I walked over lands raked by glaciers
then preserved by humans, generations past.
The dog dragged her leash through the wild riot
of violet, making me laugh
and smearing her collar sticky blue. Beneath barrens,
roots shoot off runners. Harsh northern winters
only make them stronger.
Burn us to the ground, bring your worst,
they would say, don’t fear: we’ll thrive. It’s true—guns
are going to the convention this year—
but the only thing missing today was you.

 

 

 

Erica Bodwell is a poet from Concord, New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in White Stag, Entropy/Enclave, APIARY, The Fem, Coal Hill Review, Litbreak, PANK, HeART, Barnstorm, Hot Metal Bridge, The Tishman Review and other journals. Her chapbook, Up Liberty Street, was a finalist for the 2015 Coal Hill Review Chapbook Contest, the 2015 Blast Furnace Chapbook Contest and the 2015 Minerva Rising Chapbook Contest. She participated in the July 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.

High John the Conqueror by John Miller

The once and future king
who never needed a sword:
he of the outside way, the
straight lick from a crooked stick,
faded to the faintest whisper.

Yes, yes, from time to time
he would appear in tall tales:
High John foxed the devil
in his own backyard,
even buffaloed the master.

But as years plowed on,
Old John went the way
of gris gris and mojo hands:
one more made up answer
for all-too-real problems.

He bided his time, went east,
got a piece Verwoerd, and then
High John plotted his comeback
– this time more Stagolee,
less Joel Chandler Harris.

And now, without even speaking,
people pray for him to return.
High John the Conqueror is coming.
He’s got a heart of barbed wire,
and he wears a suit of flame.

 

 

 

Hailing from Eugene Walter’s kingdom of monkeys and sweet lunacy’s county seat, John Miller was sent so frequently to look up etymologies during meals as a kid that he toted a dictionary to dinner. His work has appeared in Kindred, Paper Nautilus, Rat’s Ass Review, and elsewhere. He teaches for New College in Tuscaloosa.

Goodnight Moons by Ellen Kuper Halter

+++++First Moon

In this great green room
+++++of memory,
+++++a telephone and red balloon,
+++++and baby,
+++++ah yes, the baby,
+++++a round-faced
+++++pummelo
+++++plunked down on my lap.
+++++.
He scratches the page
+++++and I point to the jewel
+++++in the sky.
+++++“Da,” says he,
+++++“There,” says me,
+++++breasts seeping milk all the while.

+++++Second Moon

Under the gray dome of sky,
++our president
++took the general rowing
++on the Kennebunkport,
++secrets blowing out to sea,
++their wives sharing tea that Sunday.

You were eight
++when they burned Kuwait,
++tanks lumbering
++like tired elephants
++across the sand.

You were eight
++when you martialed GI Joes
++in the schoolyard,
++invading and defending
++in a boyish coven.

Our president and generals
++Were boys like you,
on their knees at recess,
outstriking and outflanking friends.

Now they sip martinis,
++grind heels into ant hills
++and joke about attacks.

In this dreary world
++Where no moon glitters
++a mother switches off the TV.
++Good night news,” says she.

+++++Third Moon

In this gray room,
++its cloud-covered moon,
++rain drums
++its cruel beat.

Black-bearded and gaunt,
++you, my grown son
++Sartre and Camus,
++preaches life’s meaning
++to me.

I am the old lady who whispers hush,
++breasts slack and empty.
++“Hush,” I say, “Hush.
++It will all be over
++soon.”

*This title is a play on the title of Margaret Wise Brown’s classic tale for infants and toddlers called Goodnight Moon. In addition, I have appropriated some phrases from that book.

In 1999, Ellen received a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition from Wayne State University. After several years of adjunct teaching positions, she retired to work full-time on a young adult novel and poems. Although “Goodnight Moons” came to her twelve years ago, she has revised it in the intervening years.

Two Poems by Jeffrey H. MacLachlan

Colonialism Pop-Up Book

You are too late. I have already arrived in this land and replicated my thoughts and replicated my thoughts and replicated my thoughts and replicated my thoughts and

torture means I’m in control. I’m from a much better place. I tell kids that when you crank native heads up like jack-in-the-box, confetti pops out. Yay! It’s the way God intended

when he whistled in English. Once upon a time there was Middle Eastern God and he was smelly and feeble and Western God sailed to Heaven in gingerbread

galleons made of carnival cake and napalm taffy and gum sticks and switchblade harps and imagination of a new Heaven, a tasty Heaven. New candy homes were built on top

of angel sinew. Shacks were melted into gold and marshmallow bones, and saints gave everyone the boot. Finally, a place where white citizens could pray.

 

Christmas Village Campaign

You cannot escape
December. Plowing

side streets will leave you
crystallized as a crushing delivery

of snow punishes the town
once again. The mayor’s

black slacks and brown bubble
jacket make his wispy hair

resemble hot chocolate steam.
He abandoned his mansion

years ago to lift
a bright toddler

illuminating Frosty’s
grin with a broken carrot root.

Since November will never
return, no one dares

challenge him in a primary
or even engage in congenial

debate. He forever holds
the child aloft underneath

the Star of David and popcorn
string in a charming campaign

scene. The mayor
smiles at everything.

 

 

 

Jeffrey H. MacLachlan also has recent work in New Ohio Review, Eleven Eleven, The William & Mary Review, among others. He teaches literature at Georgia College & State University. He can be followed on Twitter @jeffmack.

Logic of Rot by W.M. Rivera

“There are people who ignore Zambia’s plight. And there are people who try to take advantage of the situation.” -Sharon Fabian, “Drought in Zambia”

Behold Lusaka! And me in situ
observing foodstuff become garbage,
stored in open air: production for waste,

ninety-kilo bags of maize, high piles of rot,
their tops steaming, wet, rubbish at bottom,
fare for fungi and rats. Who cares?

Decay’s reward is extra cash from loans
to buy less-sweeter maize from richer worlds.
Who sees, sees double: their import, and mine.

Don’t count on resolve to solve iniquity.
Trash my advice. The answer is higher up.
The ‘logic of rot’ rules the shape of continents,
shady cream-castles in concrete.

 

 

 

 

W.M. Rivera has a new collection of poems titled Café Select (Poet’s Choice Publisher). He is the author of three previous collections of poems: Noise (Broadkill River Press, December 2015), The Living Clock (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Buried in the Mind’s Backyard (Brickhouse Books, Inc. 2011). Rivera taught agricultural extension and development at the University of Maryland (UMCP) from 1981-2009. Since retiring from UMCP, he has dedicated his energies to writing poetry.

Two Poems by Gregory Stapp

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu…”

From the back yard we watch the storm burgeon
tonight, the flashes of lightning within the clouds.

It’s too bad there aren’t any ground strikes, you say.
They make it more exciting to watch. Give me

a sense of the power within. I nod and take your hand.
I know this about you, your desire for outward

displays of strength, chest-beating, sword-rattling, all
bark and bite and a savage gnashing of teeth.

The low rumbles of thunder resonate in the wind
and the clatter of leaves. We see more flashes of light

and you sit up to peer farther back into the storm, hold
your breath to wait for a bolt to crackle out of the clouds.

C’mon. Just give me a couple of lightning bolts. Is that
so much to ask?
I put my arm around your shoulder

with a Shhhh. I know you hate it when I do this,
try to quiet your tension. You slough off my arm and huff.

You stand, hands on your hips, and watch
the clouds move over us as if you hope a stroke

will lance out and blow us both back to our earlier days.
I guess it’s not going to happen, you say. And you go in.

 

The Patriot’s Act

“In many cases [the terrorists] are willing to commit suicide [for their cause] which I
don’t know how many of us [Americans] would be willing to do.”
– Alex Berenson

High from an old sycamore tree,
I will swing like a lynched man
twitching in the late summer breeze,
and hold sway over the evening,
my figure swollen, necrotic,
a cirrhotic liver strung up by its ligature.

Walking from school the children will learn
from my bulging eyes and fattened, gagging tongue
I did this for them, to protect them from terror.

Bound by morbid curiosity, they will strain
to read on the flag of my Old Navy shirt
my anthem, my creed, the words
My country ’tis of thee.

 

 

 

Gregory Stapp received his BA from the University of Oklahoma and his MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. His poems have appeared in Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine, “ditch,” the Gutters and Alleyways anthology, Limehawk Journal, and Shot Glass, among others. He recently served as the Poetry Editor for Qu: A Literary Magazine.

In the House of the Sage by Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr

1.

A lion’s head, a lotus flower, circles
++++++and semicircles with dots:
hieroglyphics for other ages
++++++++++++to decipher.

+++++++++Our eyes can
not see as we have not been awake
+++++++++long enough.

2.

+++++My guests have travelled far,
the swallows from Japan and China.
++++++++++++They are free
+++to chatter and peck the ground,
the swallows from Japan and China.

3.

What have I been called in the town of San Diego?
++++++++++Philosopher.
++++Charlatan making a show
of my sprawling lexicon. Doctor
++++++++++quack quack.
++++The brain-damaged fool.

All of it: the depths
++++++++++++of blue, its manifold gradations.

4.

++++++Nobody loves the naked
++++++++++++truth.
A mask has a story to tell; no—
++++++the mask is the story.

5.

If the head itches,
++++++it is the hand that scratches.
For head, say church. For hand,
++++++++++++say state.

No separation in a body intent
to devour as much as it can for as long as it can.

6.

++++++How radiant is the sun,
++++++++++++how blinding.
+A trick: place a bowl of water to reflect
++++++++++++the sun, flickering
beacon, light without its death ray stare.

7.

A stalk, laden with buds and flowers,
++++++bows before the wind
++++++++out of necessity.

To make for port at the first gust
++++++of a whirlwind, to stoop
++++++++as a bullet passes—

how else could we have survived?

 

 

 

A Filipino writer based in Singapore, Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. is the author of Requiem, a chapbook. His poems have been published in Rattle, Hayden’s Ferry Review, We are a Website, and other journals and anthologies. He is a recipient of the Palanca Award for Poetry in the Philippines, as well as awards from British Council Singapore’s Writing the City.

Two Poems by Louis P. Nappen

Social Justice Advocate Jana Kings

suffers from migraines,
but the court does not care
and the brief is still due.

Thomas Jefferson suffered, too.
But another’s suffering
does not help you.
She thinks,

An hour in the dark,
flat on the carpet with a wet
towel on my brow

should do the trick, then back
to the computer glare.
Seasonal or stress-related?

Seasonally-stress-related?
Whatever,
when the sinus hate arrives

it deprives her of her life,
her liberty, and
even the most trivial pursuits of happiness.

When the filing was due for Mr. J.,
he had a Committee of Five,
but Franklin and Adams

merely supplied minor tweaks.
She types a canon of law:
“Equity abhors a forfeiture.”

But she is arguing the exception
not the rule.
Her client’s narrative is not a perfect fit.

No lawyer should be a perfectionist.
The bracelet on her wrist
does not mean

to her
what you think it means.
What Would Jefferson Do?

 

Speech Writer Cyrana Chatters

You know that
famous speech
about “the glass
wall protecting
the empty garden
of peace”?

That was her.
And that line
comparing Germany
to Gatsby?
Her as well.

Over time, her voice
became The Speaker’s,
and The Speaker
became her husband.

For twenty years
the two conversed
as one.
Until her husband
died in a crash.

She tried penning words
for other mouths,
but no pairing
of ventriloquist
and vent
jelled so firmly.

(Imagine players
in your favorite show
staying in character
but swapping lines.)

In the end, she turned
her talent to memoir,
titling her autobiography
Res Ipsa Loquitur,
the thing speaks for itself.

 

 

 

Louis P. Nappen received his BA and MAT degrees from Monmouth University, where he served as editor-in-chief of both the college newspaper and literary magazine and was honored with the English Department’s Creative Writing Prize, the Communications Department’s Journalism Award, and the University’s Outstanding Student Award. For several years, Nappen taught high school English and journalism, then attended Seton Hall University Law School. He presently works as an attorney in a small firm that focuses on constitutional and civil rights. These poems are part of a larger collection Nappen is working on, tentatively titled “Fifty Lawyers.”