SILENCE REIGNS IN THE GARDEN, poetry by Steve Passey

We get high because it feels good.
We get high to manage our memories.
The high times, they are too few, and not quiet enough.
There are too many other people around,
but
it is better than the silence and
the loneliness of poverty.
When we win that small lottery and
quit our jobs, or when we find cash
in a brown paper bag left in a ditch,
we’ll stay high and quiet for a week,
or even for a whole month,
and it will be the best thing
we almost remember,
and, like Avalon or Eden,
the best thing that we will ever believe
to have been true.


STEVE PASSEY is from Southern Alberta. He is the author of the collections Forty-Five Minutes of Unstoppable Rock and Cemetery Blackbirds, and many other individual things.

Four Poems by Terrence Sykes

Anchovy Gospel

Often
the distance between
salvation & damnation
is merely a few rows of
unweeded & unhoed
green beans

+++

AFTERLIFE

I was conceived
my mother lay in a cemetery
in some
forbidden – fragile
moment in time

I was born
my father working graveyard
in some
forgotten – forsaken
nondescript town

Perhaps that is why I pose
in this necropolis
Why do the dead
always have the best
views ?

+++

Discovery of the New World – 1392

rising crepusculo
&
misting commingle
spacecraft descends
into swampy expanse
lone figure arises
from new world craft
surveys surroundings
mothership monitors
dashcam image feed
ascent into marsh
bring mire consequences
hungry alligator
devours being
telepathic screams
echo into ethers
declared inhospitable
to their civilization
exploration team
leaves orbit
vines consume craft
centuries pass
metallic orb
submerges into landscape
slowly decomposes
awaiting eons
&
return to stardust

+++

HOW DO YOU SAY EX-LOVER IN FRENCH

My ex-lover
& ex-lit major
always bestowed
French writer’s names
upon all his dogs

apparently though
ménage à trois
were the only words
of the language
he ever understood


Although TERRENCE SYKES is a GASP ( Gay Alcoholic Southern Poet) and a far better gardener & forager & cook …..his poetry & photography & flash fiction has been published in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland ,India, Mauritius, Pakistan, Scotland, Spain & USA….born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia … this isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations — whether real or imagined.

ABOVE HUMAN, fiction by Nancy K. Dobson

When Lyle Sherman attended a meeting of the Star Seekers, he brought along his list of questions. Lyle liked lists. He had them all over his house, but this one was special. Ever since his childhood encounter in the field behind Sav-Mart, Lyle had longed to find other likeminded believers in the extraterrestrial realm. After seeing the flyer for tonight’s meeting, Lyle had carefully written down the questions. He’d spent his life searching the stars for answers. 

The informational meeting was held in the narrow, buff colored Oasis room at the Doubletree. There were five rigid rows of beige padded chairs, the first three occupied by a few people of various ages. One man had a bushy head of gray hair and a tangled beard. A woman sat up front, wrapped in a camel coat. In the back row, a young woman with purple boots and bright yellow hair, an unnatural and garish shade, caught Lyle’s eye. She had one leg crossed over the other, jiggling her foot, while a bored look poisoned her face. As he passed, she narrowed her heavily made-up eyes at Lyle, seeming to study him as if he was a collectible on eBay. He clutched his Next Generation messenger bag and moved quickly to sit in the empty row ahead of her. He could feel her eyes on the back of his neck as he sat down. In the vanilla room, the woman stood out like an obnoxious weed in an otherwise tidy garden. Why was she scrutinizing him like an appraiser? Hopefully she wouldn’t speak to him. This meeting would be one of the most important occasions of his life. Lyle couldn’t afford to be distracted. 

Besides, his interest in women had all but diminished since Tina. In their six months together, Tina had often remarked on Lyle’s penchant for sci-fi. She’d once asked why he liked outer space so much. Outer space? Lyle still withered inside at the memory of Tina’s derisive laughter as she tried to open his Star Trek Communicator. Lyle yelped, then snatched his mint in box treasure from her hands and the next day she moved out. 

After another minute, the man and woman seated at the front of the room nodded to each other. The woman rose and moved fluidly, as if she glided, to the ivory doors of the Oasis room. Lyle glanced back to see her carefully close each panel, as if she was wrapping a present and wanted to keep the paper from creasing. At the front of the room, the man stood silently, motionless except to fold one pale, veiny hand over the other. The woman slid back to her place beside the man and Lyle saw how similar they looked. Perhaps they were brother and sister. Both were slender, dressed in loose fitting blue slacks and blue button up shirts. Their hair was cut in a short style that was anything but stylish. The woman wore no makeup or jewelry. She was remarkable in that she was quite unremarkable, but she seemed to possess a self-assured air, and the man seemed to look for her approval more than she sought his. On the table in front of them a stack of lemon-yellow sheets of paper sat on one corner, as if someone had just made copies.  There was also a stack of paperback books. Lyle recognized several he had read: Chariots of the Gods, Flying Saucer Pilgrimage, and Communion. Seeing that flyer outside the library had been no accident. Lyle was sure he’d been lead here, to this room, to this moment. The excitement caused his stomach to churn the same as it did before he rode a roller coaster. 

The woman spoke first. “I am Cen and this is Vig. We are seekers.” She gestured to her companion, with a curious expression of her hand, palm up, fingers pressed together as if she was cupping water. She eyed the room as she continued speaking. “We are travelers and guides. Our purpose here, today, is to humbly present our mission and offer you an opportunity to join us. There is much truth, and many lies, in this world, on this planet. We believe the path to truth begins here, on Earth, but leads those who believe, those who seek . . .” She paused for a few seconds. “. . . those who are worthy of transcending their physical bodies to reach beyond this earthly realm. There is a perfect place hidden within the stars. Those who are chosen may ascend to this level, a state we refer to as, ‘above human’.”

She nodded to Vig and he began speaking in a smooth voice, one step below baritone. It was a measured tone that was easy to listen to, like a telemarketer. Lyle had always secretly enjoyed their polished pitches, though he rarely bought anything. Vig spoke for several minutes, then Cen chimed in again. Her voice was reassuring with a tinge of honey as Lyle imagined a grandmother’s would be. He had never known any of his grandparents, though he had heard stories of his mother’s mother and her penchant for tarot cards. Lyle felt sure his lineage was significant and had helped guide him to the Oasis room tonight. 

Vig and Cen spoke for nearly an hour about Earth, and the heavens, and most importantly, the divine beings who lived on an astral plane beyond what most of humanity could comprehend. When Cen asked if anyone in the room had ever had an encounter with an extraterrestrial presence, or heavenly life form, Lyle felt buoyed. Here it was, his moment to reveal his worthiness. He tried to answer out loud, but his shallow breathing made his throat constrict. He could only nod his head. Yes, yes. Other attendees did the same, and a feeling of euphoria came over Lyle. Screw Tina and her negativity. Here, in this room, were the people Lyle had always hoped to find.

The presentation continued. Cen was describing an unusual encounter she had as a young girl in Canton, Ohio that led her to seek truth when Lyle felt a tap on his shoulder. He glimpsed the yellow haired woman in his peripheral vision. She poked at him rather emphatically, as if Lyle were in her way. He frowned. The woman leaned forward, and Lyle felt her breath on his cheek. Her exhalation had a hint of citrus and the intimacy of the moment embarrassed Lyle. He pushed his glasses up his nose with one hand, balling the other into a tight fist in his lap. 

“Wanna bet this is when they parade a dead alien in front of us?” The woman snickered and the ugly snort that punctuated the end of her laugh was loud enough to draw attention from everyone in the room. 

Lyle reddened as everyone looked in his direction. He nearly wet himself as he realized Cen had stopped speaking. He spun around and shot the woman a look as malicious as he could muster, then gripped his messenger bag and shifted two seats to the left. He hoped that his obvious displeasure would show the presenters he was not aligned with this horrible shrew. 

Cen and Vig’s reaction to the woman surprised Lyle. Cen signaled to her with the same high sign she had used earlier. The overhead lights flickered, and Lyle felt the energy in the room change. Vig raised his hand to the woman also. Though Lyle could not see one, it felt like an invisible beam extended from their hands, penetrating the woman in the back row, drawing her in.

“Are you a seeker, Miss?” Cen asked. 

Lyle twisted in his seat to see the woman’s mouth hanging open. 

“Yes,” she murmured in a softer tone than the sandpaper that had grated his ears a minute ago. She sounded like a different person. 

Cen’s lips curved upward into something close to a smile. Beside her, Vig nodded and bowed his head. Then they regarded each other for a long moment. Lyle wondered if they were telepathic. Imagine if such a skill could be learned. More than anything he wished to have an ability like that. Then he would know he was special.  

Cen still directed her cupped palm toward the woman. But to Lyle’s dismay, she did not sweep her arm across the room in a smooth arc of inclusion for the rest of the small audience. Cen and Vig had singled the young woman out. 

“We find that the true seekers are those who have questions, but more importantly possess reservations. Discernment indicates the highest level of human intelligence. We believe you are one of us. Please allow us to speak with you after the presentation.” 

Others in the room nodded, seemingly pleased at this declaration, their heads dipping like Lyle’s prized Gort bobblehead. The woman in the camel coat clutched her hands to her chest and gasped audibly. Lyle thought of his list of questions. Cen had declared they were not as important as expressing doubt. He glanced back to see the woman’s expression had changed. Now she gazed at Cen and Vig with a blank face, her eyes moist. Her vision was fixed on the seekers, and she appeared to have forgotten Lyle, or anyone else in the room. 

When the meeting ended, Lyle crept toward the exit quietly. Before exiting the room, he turned to see the yellow haired woman standing with Cen and Vig at the front of the room. The Star Seekers’ eyes shone like constellations, faces open, and their cupped hands held out, as if they were saluting her. He’d seen that expression before, in the eyes of a man who’d placed the winning bid for Captain Kirk’s original Starfleet tunic. The seekers looked at the woman with recognition and wonder, as if she was the bright star they had been waiting for.   

 


 

NANCY K. DOBSON enjoys writing both poetry and fiction. She’s been published in a variety of journals including Quince, Capsule Stories, and Madcap Review. Her perfect day includes yoga, a chai latte, and some cocktail jazz. Twitter @nancy_dobson.

 

 

GUY WALKING BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, poetry by Larry Smith

He’s wearing lite camos
walking toward town
in a rain slowly turning to snow.
He could be me, I hear myself think
and answer, Maybe he is. At 77,
you’re already near invisible.

I pull up, lower the window, and call,
“Hey, would you like a ride?”
He looks over, reads me and
walks on. No real love there.

 


 

LARRY SMITH is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-director of Bottom Dog Press. A native of the Ohio River Valley, his work echoes back to his sense of Appalachia, then and now. He is a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University living peacefully along the shores of Lake Erie.

 

 

AWAKE, fiction by Janet Savage

 

My wife dropped the lid of our wedding gift box and gasped.

“You remember it, don’t you?” her aged father said, taking the old doll out of the box. “You slept with it every night.” He thrust the doll towards Jane, expecting her to embrace it.

She did not. His shaking hands fumbled the doll and it tumbled to the floor. Its dress quietly settled over its head and torso, revealing peach fabric legs that were capped by painted on black shoes. She blushed.

A wind, cold and bittersweet with leaf mold, slammed the front door open and into the one room cabin. She stared past her father’s shoulder and into the forest. Decayed, bloody brown leaves, raised by a gust, swept through the air and skittered across the floor. A moist leaf, ragged and veined, hit and stuck momentarily to her chest.

Suddenly, she fled past her father, into the forest and the wilding wind storm. He turned around and peered into the storm. He ran after her.

I stepped over the threshold and into their wake. She was running, straight and true, a cyclone of leaves kicking up at her heels. She was already very far away. Her father was well behind her, his thin legs going more sideways than forward like a grotesque string puppet. I followed.

I quickly caught up with her father, yet I couldn’t pass him no matter how hard I tried. Her father was calling her name, but his voice was drowned by the wind. He reached towards her, then jerked his arms out to the side to keep his balance in the tangled rushing carpet of leaves and fallen boughs.

She stopped and turned towards us. A blast pushed us back. Masses of her wavy, dark hair blew steadily across her face leaving only bits of her pale skin, red lips and one eye exposed. She looked like a slashed portrait. Vividly, her lips formed the word “No!”

She started running away again. Faster this time. He and I ran harder, but still remained far behind. Her father screamed “I’m sorr!” The wind growled just then, nearly knocking us off our feet. He buried his face in his gnarled, blue-lined hands. “I’m sorry!” He stretched his arms out to her.

He and I started to run side by side again. I looked back and forth from him to her. She got caught momentarily by a branch that hung low, perhaps to whisper its own demoralizing tale. Her blouse was now drenched and ripped. A large piece of the back flapped in the wind.

I fell hard to the ground. She had stopped running. The edge of the forest was in sight behind her. Looking back, I saw that I had stumbled over her shoe. Her father staggered just ahead of me. She turned towards us, crouched and put her hands on her knees. Her back arched up and down with her heavy breaths.

“It’s too late,” her lips said.

“Never!” he cried. “I loved you! I love you!”

“No! That wasn’t love!”  I could hear her. I could hear her!

She sank onto her knees, her head bowed, her wavy hair drawing a curtain on her face.

He said, “I loved you. That was al…”. The wind took his words. He walked towards her. She looked up and moved her hair aside.

“You never did! I loved you!” Her voice howled across the wet field between us. 

She took off again towards the forest’s edge. I got to my feet, pulling myself towards her on a magical, warm current that travelled the space between us like a magic rope. I had to reach her before he did. As the distance closed between us, I saw her hair coming undone. Her skirt sagged. Her breath was fast and hard even though she was slowing down. She wobbled over the crest of a hillock and fell out of sight.

The wind calmed. I kneeled beside her twisted body. She lay on her side and her chin rested on her chest. One arm was tucked underneath her and the other was thrown back and away from her body, palm upward. Her legs were curved into an unnatural knot. The loose flap of blouse ruffled in the breeze, exposing her scratched back. Her bare foot was shoed with mud. I straightened her skirt and pushed her hair away from her blackened eye and the split in her lip. She was broken. She had been broken.

Now she was whole.

 


 

JANET SAVAGE lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs. Previous work has been accepted for  publication in Every Day Fiction, A Harvard Magazine for FairyTales, and Stanford Magazine.

 

FOUR POEMS, prose poetry by Howie Good

Edvard Munch: Self-Portrait in Hell 

He was convinced, as usual, that he was about to suffer a complete breakdown. The day’s work had begun badly and gotten worse with each additional brush stroke. He squinted at the muddled canvas on the easel as though it were someone else’s, the fantastical product of a stranger’s delirium. The street outside his window was turning red and black. He tilted his head to the right, the left, the right again, trying to view his painting in progress from the most forgiving angle. There was a moment when what he couldn’t express in words or figurative gestures he might have in a scream, and then the moment passed.

At Eternity’s Gate

A man arrives on a train to visit his father at a sanatorium. The doctor at the sanatorium says the father has died, but the man glimpses his father being led away down the hall by an attendant. The father is barefoot. His hands are bound behind him with wire. The man is too startled to intervene. Meanwhile, the doctor has climbed into bed next to a patient and fallen asleep. The man somehow knows he must catch the next train back to the city if he isn’t to become trapped in the sanatorium. Hurrying toward the station, he sees the corpse of his father hanging from a lamppost, a savage pack of dogs standing guard over the body. A train whistle blows. The man realizes with a pang that the train has left without him. Time is decomposing. One townsperson in six hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care. There is no night, no day, just twilight.

The Third Reich of Dreams

It was snowing. Because the Germans didn’t give them water, the women who were packed together in the roofless boxcars collected the snow to drink. When any woman fell asleep standing – there was no room to sit or lie down – none of the others would steal the snow that accumulated on her. That snow belonged to her. On a train bound to nowhere you know where you are. 

&

For the first time in decades, ducks were seen swimming in the fountains, and dolphins splashing in the canals. Hitler’s former chief of staff, Rudolph Hess, 93 and the only inmate in a prison designed to hold 600, had hanged himself. One look at his death grimace, and water lilies sprouted in the prison guard’s lungs.

&

The grave is now empty. His bones are gone. The faithful used to make pilgrimages to the gravesite. They would lay floral wreaths and salute his epitaph: “I dared.” Police on horses tried to keep control. The blood stood in puddles in some places. But the flowers would always be back on his next birthday.

&

Politics has become interested in me. Just the other night I dreamed I was rushing across campus. I was late for a class I taught. When I entered the building where my class was held, nothing was familiar to me and I had no idea where I was. I started walking up a very long flight of stairs. The stairs grew steeper the higher I went. By the time I reached the top, I was winded and covered in sweat. Then I saw the swastika painted on the wall. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to hide.

A Royal Screwing

During his years of wandering from Berlin to Paris to Moscow and back again, Walter Benjamin kept a diary. “Keep your diary,” he cautioned himself in an early entry, “as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.” In his tiny spidery handwriting he recorded dreams, Yiddishisms, profane illuminations. Paris at the time was plagued with packs of stray dogs. Returning to his pensione one night from a hashish party, he saw the dogs were actually men made dogs by their passions. He knew in that moment that all perception was distortion, a kind of phantasmagoria, the blue velvet and gilt doghouse Marie Antoinette had had built for one of her puppies.


HOWIE GOOD’S latest poetry collection, Gun Metal Sky, is due in early 2021 from Thirty West Publishing.

TRIBAL WISDOM, poetry by Larry Smith

“We are walking backward into the future.
We have to turn around.” — Inuit tribal leader

 

We run a tab at the store
forgetting to make a payment.

Columbia Records Club keeps calling
asking to be paid, but Mom hands us the phone.

It’s time to trade in the Buick for a hybrid
but Dad won’t hear of it.

We kids are tired of rear window watching,
can’t wait to drive this thing,

set our feet on solid ground and
move into our own place soon.

 


 

LARRY SMITH is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-director of Bottom Dog Press. A native of the Ohio River Valley, his work echoes back to his sense of Appalachia, then and now. He is a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University living peacefully along the shores of Lake Erie.

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, fiction by Tobi Alfier

Years ago, when I was two years younger than everyone in my grade, Tony Almeja sat in front of me in art, first period after lunch. Tony was a bad boy on his way to getting badder, or so we thought. Word was he’d read all the Carlos Castaneda books, and that every day at lunch he’d put a stamp-sized cube of acid on his tongue, then spend all of art class drawing in his notebook.

It didn’t matter what our teacher said, Tony drew. He ignored the double-wide lines on his notebook paper, the graph paper in the cupboard, construction paper too. I liked bad boys then, and spent most of the hour watching the muscles in Tony’s back gently move, the way a branch touches a windowpane so tenderly it can’t be heard.

I got a D in art and Tony got gone. I’d of put my phone number in his yearbook but he wasn’t a yearbook kinda guy. Perfectly white t-shirts, Levis, and shiny hair, like an extra in West Side Story, with the tang of lunchtime tobacco and booze. High as a kite, drawing his imagination in his notebook and then he was gone.

Until the day I was in the desert, shipped off to relatives during my “uncontrollable years.” I looked up from the chile verde I had just placed in front of a customer, and swear I saw Tony. He was going into the “Cirrus and Stormcloud Tattoos” just across the mud-dusted street. An odd shop for a town of blue-hairs but I knew from waitressing—a lot of bikers came by too. I’d never met a one who didn’t have room for more ink on him.

I peeked in the window on break. Lining the walls were boatloads of pictures, some drawn on the big roll of plain paper at the end of a desk, a row of teeth like a shark at the end to tear it nice, some on the double-wide, three–hole–punched paper from the old days. I knew. And even though I was still young, the years had turned my mind wicked. The day I turned eighteen I cashed in all my tips from months of table waitin’ and went over there with a wad of money stuffed in my pocket.

His smile slipped a bit when I walked through the door—he must’ve thought I was the angel from Christmas’s past. And even though I would’ve given every dime I had to feel his fingers glide across places untouched, I’m a sucker for cherry blossoms and Tony was too—I could tell from his many drawings from school. That tree in full bloom fit perfectly on my shoulder, the trunk winding down my arm like Rapunzel’s hair in the enchanted forest, right onto the plates I was serving up customers.

Don’t let it fool you. The bad boys don’t always get badder. It’s the quiet schoolgirls you have to watch out for. I know.

 


 

TOBI ALFIER is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies was published by Cholla Needles Press. Symmetry: earth and sky was published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

 

 

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE LIGHT, fiction by D.S.G. Burke

The darkest part of the ocean is not the coldest part. At the deepest deep part of the ocean the warm core heats up a layer of water through the thinnest part of the earth’s crust. 

No, the coldest part of the ocean was the space between his lips and her ears.

He said, “Sometimes I wonder if you are having an affair.”

She said, “Your lips are literally fused to my belly.”

“There is room down here for one more. Have you been turning your light on?”

“Again, you would know, wouldn’t you? You are right here, always right here. I never get a moment alone with my thoughts because you are constantly talking. I can hear your chatter through my bones. If I could plug my ears and spend some time not hearing you, I would. The last thing I want is a second voice in my head.”

“Geez. Wow. That was incredibly rude. You think I like this situation? You think I’m happy down here? If you can hear me all the time, how come you never listen to me? I say swim up, you go down. I say right, you go left. We haven’t eaten in a week and I’m starving. I haven’t felt this hungry and neglected since you were pregnant.”

“You think you know where the food is? Really? Since when did you become the great food finder? Do tell.”

“I hate when you get like this. Fine. Ask all your shitty questions that have been simmering for just this moment. Burn yourself out. I’ll wait. I’ll be right here when you are ready to have a conversation.”

The female coruscated her light on and off, on and off.

Below, the male hung off her belly petulantly–which appeared no different than when he hung off her belly enthusiastically or demurely. He tried to recall what it was like to be alone. He stretched his neglected fins and shuddered at the creak of scales rubbing against calcinated cartilage. His fins spoke of a time before her. When the male first woke up alone in the dark. He’d had a hunger that started in his belly and hollowed out his nose. The pulse of predator fish nearby shuddered through his bones. He could smell how much bigger they were than him. He didn’t know what his eyes were for, what light was, until he saw her lure. His fins flapped stronger at the scent of her. One final sprint. They were thin and brittle, but they only needed to propel him so far, just from the place he was born to her light. 

She was older, much older than him. When she was born, she’d smelled the bigger fish too, but she wasn’t afraid. She was hungry. She wanted to taste everything. Her teeth came in soft and small at first but then became sharp and unwieldy. They angled away from her jaw until she could not shut her mouth. Flavors and smells rolled constantly over her tongue, giving her streams of data. She listened to this information. She listened and she learned. Her head grew a light that dangled just far away enough to avoid illuminating her talons. When she was hungry, and she was always hungry, she turned on her light. The fish that lived above sometimes dove too far below. These stupid fish swam right up to her light. It was only in the strange warm place, deep in the ocean, she tasted something flowing through her jaws that she did not want to eat. 

It was the male. 

This permanent bubble of water near the thin part of the ocean floor stays perennially warm. Many have described the experience of swimming through a spot right after a whale peed. Once a dead whale actually fell to that exact spot. The dead whale smell was intensified by the discordant heat pocket in this part of the deep. A whole ecosystem of the dark ocean society gorged themselves on this whale for a month. They got fat, swam slower, and fed the larger fish, who in turn fed the larger fish. 

The female angler fish knew what it felt like to be full for a little while. Maybe that was why she was able to smell the male just at that moment when he came swimming by on his sad little fins, barely propelling a body that would look emaciated for a sardine. He was almost too small to eat, had she wanted to. She discovered that she needed him.

She said, “It hurt me when you latched on.”

He said, “I lost myself that day. I became a part of you, but you remained yourself.”

The dead whale’s bones, picked dry, were nearly buried in the sandy ocean floor by then.

 


 

D.S.G. BURKE (she/her) lives and writes in New York City. Her writing has appeared in the Seattle Times, 3Elements Literary Review, and Stinger Stories. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @dsgburke.

 

 

 

 

IN THIS CORNER, poetry by Frederick Pollack

There are many Creations. One,
the opposite of ours, involved
no initial outburst.
Through a time longer than all of ours,
there were wisps and tremors
in darkness. These joined by chance;
a sigh preceded breath. Consciousness,
when it comes, is of a sweetness
not yet arrived; wonder
applies to memories.

The next universe over
offers little distinction
between the mind and an industrial filter.
Pollutants, smoke from
a mean and unforthcoming primal fire
accumulate. Being is a grudge.
In that twilight,
something hunched by a wall
broods, like its neighbor, like us, on the first
lie: that everything will be all right.


FREDERICK POLLACK is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press; the former to be reissued by Red Hen Press), and two collections, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Many other poems in print and online journals.