TWO POEMS - MEJDULENE B. SHOMALI

i lose my teeth in a recurring dream

first they fall out like kindling, like george washington’s wooden grill split and stained from too many apples, they fall around inside the holes of my gums like matches stored upright, not tight enough, the fibers shred into my fingers, they fall without pain, they are so dry i can start a fire in my palm but it does not burn

then they are pulled starting from the back and moving forward, the top row and then the bottom i pull them myself standing barefoot in front of the bathroom mirror with only the barest morning light, i pull one everytime i wake and leave them all around town, a tithe to gods who i know the moment between the tooth in my mouth and the tooth in my fingers

or they fall out with the barest pressure, when i apply lipstick or when i brush them, when i touch the gum line it gives like bubble yum soft and wet but no stick my mouth a plump soil overrun with hard teeth my words must grow around, i gather them until my mouth is lush, i throw them into the sky like rice at a wedding

sometimes they dissolve like tightly packed sand that is overrun with sea, they disappear into my jaw and cheekbone, just gone, leaving the sockets behind a horseshoe of empty spaces i pack them with something new everyday—chocolate sprinkles, cotton balls, bullets

 

reasons I do not like to be touched

a friend looks at me, exclaims you’re so tiny! & the idea makes me laugh & food doesn’t do what it should anymore & everything in my mouth leaves a tinny taste behind & i clean my tongue with my toothbrush, so far back it leaves me gagging & i only want coffee, bananas, cigarettes & you look like you’ve lost weight! & my teeth feel fragile & my stretch marks are rivers, deep and wide for drowning & my sister used to be fat & food doesn’t do what it could still & you look like you’ve gained weight! & i dreamt my teeth turned to kindling & my stretch marks are paint strokes, red and flaring like fire


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mejdulene B. Shomali is a writer, teacher, and researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Feminist Wire, Mizna, Baltimore City Paper, Diode, Tinderbox and a number of academic journals.

FIVE POEMS - RYAN COLLINS

[the secret ingredient in coca cola]  
 
It was leaves & gasoline & water, then paste, then bricks, then blow. It was up, then down, then up up & away. Then crash. Then cracked, vapor-full, in & out & in as long as you can hold it. Pinch your nose, close your throat. Puff & puffed & given. Cut & fluffed & re-rocked. It was lines, then clouds, then smoked until your eyes burst, until you can’t taste the stains on your teeth. Until you don’t notice the smell. 

[the trick is not sneaking out the trick is not getting caught]  
 
Out a window, through a glass door, over a fence. Collect hood ornaments by the shoebox full. We learned to walk around the streetlight orbits, between clods swept off the moon. We learned there are too many stars, too much dying. We got good at climbing into cover, the folds of darkness where we hid as long as we could hold our breath, until the sirens arrived at other nearby trespasses. 

[at this automated teller the exchange rate is always fair] 
 
Autopay & deposits in my knuckles, fingers filled with shards of angry bones. Whipped not buttercreamed. Short on the sides & back. High & tight. A fraction of a percentage. Same difference. One size fits & starts, fits some but not all. Batteries & piggy banks & bottled water, pickled & canned. Nothing missed: a six pence, a threepenny opera, an ounce of blow, of gold, of plug nickels, of dollars penniless down to the cent.   

[why the first day of the month doesn’t start with zero]  
 
It was yesterday, then tomorrow, then tomorrow comes today. Temporary as grass stains, permanent as fingerprints on a photograph developed chemically. An unstable element, under-developed, over-exposed. More permanent than the most metallic silver marker, unless by marker we mean to say grave, mean to read headstones, mean here lies someone once known, who worked on solving the equation for depression before we held them in place, before we carried their zero.  

[the final frontier will not be included on the final exam]   
 
The equation to solve depression needs space. Room to grow, range around, juxtapose like an unbridled pony & a field of dandelions. The magic bean looks more like a cactus button under xmas lights, glowing like a happy fungus. Show me happy, show me money. Show me chapter & verse where money changers don’t catch the whip & keep their tables unturned. Show me pen & paper & a dark sky preserve. Balance money & happy on a scale, see what feathers up.  
 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

008_Ryan_Collins_RC_headshot.jpg

Ryan Collins is the author of A New American Field Guide & Song Book (H_NGM_N Books). Recent poems have appeared in BoothCosmonauts Avenue; Forklift, OhioNinth Letter; and Prelude. He hosts the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, IL.  

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/ryan.collins.1428

 

Twitter: @Ryan_R_Collins

 

Instagram: @ryanrichardcollins

Two Poems - Amorak Huey

Note: these poems are also published in The Pinch Journal: Spring 2017 Issue (Vol 37.1).

 

Land Fall

We are two hundred miles inland but directly in the path and already the sky is heavy and green and the rain tastes of salt. Our driveway is underwater. The goats are restless, bleating. The chickens huddle. Earlier, our parents lost patience with each other and my father took the truck. The lights are flickering, the power wavering. Each passed hour becomes a link in the chain of an uncertain narrative. In other words: the ending has not been written. Will not be written today, unless it is. The wind brings the smell of the sea and scraps of trash that tap and jazz across the yard. The lightning draws nearer, the thunder grows louder, like sheets of corrugated tin rattling in the back of a pickup bouncing along a long dirt road. We were born for weather like this – a storm we might survive but will not escape.

 

Self Portrait as a Game of Clue

My grandmother in the dining room with the deck of cards. My grandfather in the garage with the red rubber ball on a fishing line that lets you know when to stop driving. My father at the front door in the purple paisley bathrobe. My father at the front door with the beard. My mother coming down the stairs with the white shoes. My mother coming down the stairs with the flower in her hair. Everyone in the foyer with the awkward silence. I am the invisible body. I roll the dice. I move. I suspect, I accuse, I open the envelope to see how much I’ve gotten right.

 

 

 

Boy Ghosts - Amy Rosenberg

I see all the ghosts all the time
the one who threw the fine, folded
laundry all around, laughing
the one who wondered over
red and yellow leaves, royal sky
the one who wailed, no longer loving
Molly Malone
now I have no favorite song, he cried
such a tiny container holding so much: 
the love for song, 
the sadness for its loss, 
the memory of love, 
the longing for song
again, something new

I see the ghost who once was a boy
who played baseball but loved fútbol
I see the ghost who once was a boy
who lost his boot in a snow drift so
I carried him home, the unfettered foot so cold, so
often I see the ghost of the boy who
wrote my name on a piece of paper a hundred times
and crossed it out each time
how I love the ghost of the boy who
rubbed his cheek against mine
sheeka, sheeka, sheeka he said
I want to know him I want
to know all the ghosts

there were cactuses in the desert we saw
the sunlight against the rocks change everything though nothing
changed
the ghosts of the boy who hasn’t lived
yet are waiting to become
the ghosts of the boy who has
I remember the boy who was given a rowboat, 
history, the ghost who named it


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amy Rosenberg lives in New York City. She writes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, and is currently at work on a graphic novel. She teaches writing at John Jay College, Baruch College, and Queensboro Correctional Facility.

Three Poems - Brian Laidlaw

"These poems and songs are from THE MIRRORMAKER, a book-plus-album that relocates the myth of Echo and Narcissus to Bob Dylan's hometown in Minnesota's Iron Range. The collection is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions, and serves as a counterpoint to Laidlaw's debut collection THE STUNTMAN, which was published by Milkweed last year." —Brian Laidlaw

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Dendrogenealogy - PJ Williams

In my dream it's over
& over again: my brother becoming
a tree: his lips going wooden & striped
with pine grain, his feet
turning to roots & finding creases
in the floor from which he becomes immovable. 
His broad human shoulders smooth
even with his neck, his face
widens, & whatever words I try
to say to him, his needle ears
do not hear, twitching silently.

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