Daybreak

by Daisy Fried


Helicopters sang out in the South Philly sky
And morning wind blew branches against our windows.

It was the hour my dream swarm
Twisted me pale on my pillow;
When like a bloodshot eye darting and twitching,
The last lamp stained the day incarnadine;
Where, trapped in my surly body
I recast the battle between lamp and day
As my struggle between intention and accident,
And like a face wiped dry by breezes,
The air was full of thrilling, fleeing things—
Anger, Change—
I was tired of writing, or you were,
You were tired of fucking, or I was.

This and that torched boutique sent up smoke.
Somebody heaved a planter into another store window.
The shopkeeper put the safety back on his sidearm,
With stinging eyes dialed his insurance adjuster.
Someone danced on a police car.
Someone blew up an ATM and his hand off with it.
Women who forgot to stop bearing children
Mopped their brows and chewed on ice;
It was the hour when, sweating and starving,
They gave birth to their latest moaning and cursing;
Like a sob cut short by foaming blood,
A siren, another, tore through the fabric of morning;
Buildings snuffled like marine mammals
Bedded down in smog sea.
Old ones in nursing homes, their minds gone,
Hawked up last juddering breaths.
They’d been abandoned
As I sometimes wish to abandon you.
Someone crept home, broken by stupidity.

Shivery Dawn in her green pink shift
Crawls up the Schuylkill, into the parklands.
Angry Philly, rubbing her eyes,
Grabs up her tools again, that old worker.

after Baudelaire’s “Le Crépuscule de matin”



Daisy Fried’s fourth book, The Year the City Emptied: After Baudelaire is forthcoming from Flood Editions in 2022. She is the author of three other books of poetry: Women’s Poetry: Poems and AdviceMy Brother is Getting Arrested Again, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It,all from the Pitt Poetry Series. She has been awarded Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships. Recent poems have been published or are forthcoming in Paris Review, The Nation, Threepenny Review, American Poetry Review, Subtropics, Zocalo, At Length and PN Review. She isa poetry critic, poetry editor for the journal Scoundrel Time and a member of the faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. She lives in Philadelphia. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press

THE BEASTS

By Meg Files


The creatures, clothed and unclothed, are in the ruins —
yes and the tango skeletons naked beneath gossamer —
here they are in the world with us sequestered. They
will inhabit our stadiums, the band shells, a cabana —
it’s not that before they were afraid but uncurious —
and now caped antelope, the furred wild turkey, a
gowned coyote wander our streets. We forget we are
animals here inside. You sharks, you spotted deer,
mountain goats, wild boar, puma — you are costumed
but we do not see you. So what, you say? What’s new?
They enter the school without uniforms except for
the knee socks, they levitate onto desks, bite books.
Unknown, unknowing, we hide in the CVS though
the beer and the tampons are endangered. The ghosts,
the ghosts in their lingerie boogie to silent beats. Do
they know each other, the creatures and the ghosts?
We, inside, cannot know. But our mates are nodding
on couches, and some wine still resides, and we have
abandoned our costumes. The creatures have satisfied
their lack of curiosity and are returning to the forest.
The ghosts in their chassé hang with the creatures. We
fools in sweatpants have forgotten that we are animals.
Go ahead, when this is over, the beasts are telling us,
try to live in your ruins. The monsoon has come at last.
Adiós, we would say, but we understand your word. So.



Meg Files is the author of the novels Meridian 144 and The Third Law of Motion, Home Is the Hunter and Other Stories, The Love Hunter and Other Poems, Writing What You Know, a book about taking risks with writing, a poetry chapbook, Lit Blue Sky Falling, and a forthcoming novella, A Hollow, Muscular Organ. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press

Journey Around

by Caroline Crumpacker


The present continuous is a trying tense for many people.
My friend from Germany says I go now   when she is ready to leave.

There is no pith like an Au Revoir is there?

We are not dashing through the present   any longer. We need it whole.

It’s that kind of a time.

I keep thinking of A Journey Around My Room
written by a man on house arrest following a duel.
He wears elegant traveling clothes to visit different parts of his room
            assigning each its own  elaborate   psychogeography .

Should we take up the game    ?
I wear huge pearls  for   the realms and eras  
of my bedroom this evening.  The storied  surface of   my  desk.
My favorite book.   Something I wrote on Facebook   immortalized
and   I wear the pearl of Lao Tzu     or did I just read about it. .

I tell my friend it’s that kind of a time and we exchange thoughts on sorrow
but not sorrow itself    unless mirror neurons work  online .   Do they ?

I read that hunters a few States over    fearing an
increase in wildlife protections   kill hundreds of wolves  at once.
As if cruelty is   becoming condensed.

I arrive in the kitchen enthralled 
the coffees and teas and jars of spices. 

I think about the Persian soup  that is said to change lives. 
Though everything changes lives  these days.

I read the world needs a shutdown every two years
to reach modest climate goals.
It’s a good time    for the planet
  when we are  reduced   to an essence
  wandering our rooms for adventure.

Each rug each  pillow     as in  going a little mad
  doubling and trebling our images on  screen.

I read that  a new level of blue is created
ultramarine   twilight   I wear Bulgarian Rose  in its honor  .
  Or did I just read about  the fabled roses  that smell of cinnamon
  the  orchard near the   troubled  border  line  deep in the woods
      crawling with ghosts  .

My Swedish bookshelves  a fable of simplicity  and bright showrooms.

Somewhere along the way  I come upon a sequel,
  The Nocturnal Journey Around My Room
  apparently just  as witty  and disturbing
            but
           who can bear it? 



Caroline Crumpacker is a poet and translator living in the Hudson Valley. She has one book (Astrobolism, Belladonna Collaborative) and three chapbooks and is a contributing editor to Matters of Feminist Practice. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press

Bookish

by Sally Zakariya


Almost daily it seems
the stack grows higher
  uneven
    unwieldy
threatening alphabetical avalanche

We read and sleep and read again

Meals become necessary interruptions
phone calls welcome distractions
as we reach for a bookmark
so as not to lose the place
not to lose a sentence
  a word
    a thought
the one that might keep us safe
from the virus that rages outside
while we read



Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in some 75 print and online journals and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her most recent publication is Muslim Wife (Blue Lyra Press, 2019). She is also the author of The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, When You Escape, Insectomania, and Arithmetic and other verses, as well as the editor of a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

The Puzzle

by Harriet Stratton

 
       …what draws itself apart pulls itself together.
                                                                         —Heraclitus


Mother sits just where I left her
before the visits stopped—

at the jigsaw table. She puzzles
over small shapes scattered like shards

before her. The big picture, propped,
offers color and pattern clues,

the comfort of familiar objects,
a postcard from the past.  She’s trying

to piece it all together. That’s the game.
That’s always been the game

and her game, at age 96, is persistence, intention,
not dwelling on how it all came apart.



Harriet Stratton, the teenager, loved poetry but studied, practiced and taught Fine Arts. Once retired, she re-embraced her first love and joined the Poetry Collective of Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. She’s published a number of poems in local literary journals but remains proudest of a protest poem in The Colorado Independent.  She lives on the front range of the Rocky Mountains. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

The Shadow Breaker’s Song

by Michael H. Brownstein


I will wait for the sun to make it’s way up the stairs.
Then I’ll enter the place of underachievers, liars and thieves.
Where else can defiance be so simple?

Once she lied about water.
Twice she lied about silk.
No one waited for a third time.

The house of shadow glows with a light within shade.
Lost value finds itself on its shelves among the many books.
When the moon escapes its cage, this is where it comes for safekeeping.


Michael H. Brownstein’s latest volumes of poetry, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019), were recently released (Cholla Needles Press). Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

Coronavirus Spring

by Peter Branson


‘That every house visited be marked with a red cross in the middle of the door, “Lord have mercy upon us” to be set close over the same cross until lawful opening of the said house.’ (London, 1st July, 1665) – from ‘A journal of the plague year’ – Daniel Defoe, pub 1722

Between 22nd Aug & 26th Sept, 38,195 Londoners died of plague, a far greater percentage of the population then that number would equate to today.


Back there, once it has taken hold, they know,
not rocket science, die-cast, there is no hope,
so prudent people recognise the need
for quarantine until the pestilence
has passed. The streets are wild with whispers, cures,
quack remedies dispensed by mountebanks.
Some, heedless of fair warning, desperate folk,
plunder the houses of the living dead.
Ours is the age where wizards charm within
the twinkling of an eye, both sight and sound
broadcast. We’re puppet masters of their world
made flesh, crave other senses too, the balm
of fond embrace, the salve of healing kiss,
‘Love conquers all’ the seal of tenderness.



Peter Branson, full-time poet and songwriter, has been published widely, including in Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Envoi, London Magazine, North, Prole, Warwick Review, Crannog, Causeway, Iota, Poetry Salzberg, Butcher’s Dog, Frogmore  Papers, Interpreter’s House, SOUTH, Crannog, London Grip, High Window, THE SHOp, Sarasvati, Measure, Columbia Review, and Huston Poetry Review. His last two collections, Red Hill and Hawk Rising, were published by Lapwing, Belfast. He was shortlisted for a recent Poetry Business Pamphlet and Collection competition. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.



Nothing is Happening

by Genevieve Legacy


my dog speaks in toenail clicks,
shifts her weight behind the door,
another patient click—
there’s no such thing as alone,

Himalayan blackberries
invasive stretching,  
reach for more ground,
the meanest thorns
in the neighborhood,

moth white butterfly
crazy wobble flight,
gray fence, black rock wall,
a mailbox squatting across the road,
sticking out its red plastic tongue, 

the holly bush has found a new location,
strident prickle-leaves in silhouette,
imagine the sting,

overgrown cascade of ivy,
a black tank-top woman walker,
a Subaru, a dark escalade,
wild grass shoots where my kid didn’t mow,
it will take my ferocious choppers
to cut it back,

light shifts from gray to less,
blackberry branch bobs green berries
too soon to pluck, an SUV passes
my window on the street side world,
voyeur of the supra mundane,

dry red shrubs across the street,
ginger bush from 1972
my mother’s armpits
a statement of freedom, rebellion?  
my own search for what’s right—
hairy legs & pits, a prolific bush,
earthy sandal shoes—
no one can tell me what to do.

there’s no escape from this house habitat,
20 thousand leagues under the sea,
a Japanese apartment capsule in space,
nowhere to go but the bathroom,
out the window mind wanderer,
black crow line of flight,
straight out of view—

another metallic rolling box,
a dog walking a woman
cellphonepressedtoherear,
my dog’s back at the door wondering
where the hell everyone is?



Genevieve Legacy is a writer-artist living in the South Puget Sound Region of Washington State. With an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, Legacy was a freelance writer for the alternative weekly publication Jackson Free Press from 2012-2016, writing about jazz and blues musicians, artists, spiritual practice & pilgrimage, restaurants, and rodeo clowns. Her poetry has been published in The Hazmat Review, Napalm Health Spa, Poetry Superhighway, and Sensitive Skin Magazine. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

At the Church of the Holy Pajamas

by Mary Ellen Talley


I used to be tethered 
to my 9-volt transistor radio
unless chanting Latin inside a tall church
where I entered
through wooden doors
to wet my fingers for the sign of the cross

This morning, the kitchen timer chimes
to join chorus with birds
celebrating cleaner Covid-breezes
until hymns spread 
gigabytes of holy hope  
from screen to screen including mine 

I ask my laptop 
for one more prayer 
to help me retain this app of gratitude
as I exit church listening
to a choir of robins
outside my open window.



Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have recently been published in Raven Chronicles, Banshee, What Rough Beast, Flatbush Review and Ekphrastic Review as well as in the anthologies, Chrysanthemum and Ice Cream Poems. Her poems have received two Pushcart nominations and a chapbook, Postcards from the Lilac City, has just been published by Finishing Line Press. Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.

Ennui

by Mary K O’Melveny


Some people draw troubles like heat seeking missiles.
Others swat them away like gnats greeting dusk.
Most of us cling to a middle, swampy ground
like hikers who have lost their trail maps, hoping
for the best, yet unsurprised by thunderstorms
or piles of fallen rocks.  Who plans for planetary disarray?
Who anticipates any day’s discomfort?
When we began to descend into viral madness,
we did not know our journey would be limitless,
our ladder unsteady. We could not have predicted
how our tour guides would wander away as if
confused by light sources or ancient cave carvings.
Everyone wants someone   something    anything
to point in a direction that makes a shred of sense.
Now it turns out we are futility’s followers.
Long on desire. Short on rescue.
Eurydice moves forward. She hopes for salvation
but she is powerless to prevent the disastrous
look backwards. Like us, she turns faint, weak.
Her breath slows in the cave’s stilled air.



Mary K. O’Melveny,  a retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife in Washington, DC, and Woodstock, NY.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Mary has had work published in many print and online journals. She is the author of A Woman of a Certain Age and Merging Star Hypotheses (Finishing Line Press 2018;  2020) and co-author of the anthology An Apple In Her Hand (Codhill Press 2019). Art by Karyn Kloumann, founder of award-winning indie publisher Nauset Press.