Friday, March 29, 2019

Chuka Susan Chesney

Runaway Blues

Does Momma know I jump rope behind trees?
she hunts for me
she’s got the whip
she wants to kick me in the hip

but I slip ’n slide to neighbor’s gate
if I’m not too late
I’ll hide and seek

She is moaning her eyes rolling like dice
I switchback trail
Spirograph through deer uphill
under sycamores like G.I. Jill

I shimmy the chimney incinerator
see View Master slides of houses below
I hear her shrill, her Gumby legs splayed 
Barbie Doll wig unnaturally askew

The pool is powder 
a Kool-Aid blue 
lemon bush abuzz with creepy crawlers
I stay away until it’s cool as marbles

Then in obscurity I boomerang
stand on balcony see her wax lips  
she speaks & spells Ephesians under solitary spot
her mirthful mood afloat in magic 8-ball

I tinker toy through basement she doesn’t know I’m here
lock the doorknob to my bedroom 
now she’s jigsawing a puzzle

If I hear her bobby pin the keyhole
I’ll have time to slinky
out my open window

Chuka Susan Chesney has a BFA in Fashion Illustration from Art Center College of Design and an MAT from Occidental College. She is an artist, poet, curator, and editor. Her award-winning paintings and sculpture have been shown in galleries all over the country. Her poems have been published on three continents. "You Were a Pie So We Ate You", a book of Chesney's poems was the winner of the 2018 San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest. In October 2018, Chesney curated the "I Pity da Poe" exhibition at the Hive Gallery in Downtown L.A. In November, Chesney hosted a poetry reading with Don Kingfisher Campbell at the YEAR ONE exhibition featuring Loren Philip and Tomoaki Shibata's collaborative art at Castelli Art Space in Mid City. Chesney's anthology of poetry and art "Lottery Blues", coedited by Ulrica Perkins will be published by Little Red Tree Publishing in 2019.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Mari Deweese

Freebleeder

I used to think that 
bleached and processed
tree pulp would 
be enough to catch and carry
emptied contents
of my womb.
But I am older now,
accessing and liberating 
the wiser pain. 
I let flow a funnel
into the world, knowing
what I did not know, 
that words, like blood,
don't belong in a can,
and only cling to inside walls 
for so long before
the source goes septic.

Mari Deweese lives outside of Memphis, and dreams of a place with an actual autumn. Her first book, Kinky Keeps the House Clean, was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2017, and her next collection of poetry will drop from the gibbet in fall 2019.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg 

We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard.
The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip 
and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer,

either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped 
the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first
to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to

let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction 
of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true. 
We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet 

in those moments of a cold November day, we watched 
a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat 
a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that.

Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline, concis, Gargoyle, The Westchester Review, and Like Light anthology of Bright Hill Press. She is a literary consultant and teaches poetry and publishing workshops. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Tobi Alfier

Loving Emily

I went to her house.
You were lounged on her couch
in a jacket I didn’t know you owned,
feet up on her shabby table,
reading in silence.

I said let’s call Emily,
swing by her man’s house
and all meet for dinner.
You said something
I don’t recall, and I went
for the phone. On the floor,
four perfect stapled pages,
lined like your beloved
yellow pads. The heading said:
“The Week of Loving Emily”

Four pages of poems I didn’t know,
sent off to journals obscure to me,
the last two to the army. I knew
Emily’s man, a caber tossing
roughneck of a bloke, did not
write these. I knew they were yours.

Emily answered quite chirpy,
got less and less so as she explained
that no, it would not be a good
idea, her man was playing music
with friends, did not want company

I was sad, got more and more down
as she spoke. I knew you were
not coming home with me.
Emily had a Scottish accent,
you did as well. I just left,
I don’t know how I sounded,
just broken hearted.



Massage Chairs

Crumpled – dollars pulled out of your pocket,
thrown on the table with almost disdain.
The way you form your lips when trying to
whistle, crooked and crumpled.  How I
feel when I fold myself on the massage chair,
legs turned under like the wings
of a bird fallen from under the eaves before
learning to fly.  Palms up in quiet surrender
I let everything go, folded and breathing
while a man who I don’t know
lifts my hair once, twice, and
lays palms to places only lovers should explore.
You don’t go there.  Ever?  I can’t remember.
I share secrets I don’t even know.

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Kelsay Books. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).

Friday, March 1, 2019

Dennis Mahagin

Asterisk
when the bongos 
go missing, some thief 
made of alter ego
and afterthought
brushes the yellow Cobain cowlick
out of his eyes, ducked down 
behind the side door of a Portland
pawn shop 
—this percussionist who sneaks around
wearing the torn 
to shit lumberjack 
shirt, holding on
to a fifty 
like a heart beat in the stiffest breeze,
and his guilty glance, simply a squeezed
frame, it says these beats 
basically the same, yet gone
now and forever 
gone, the beat like an add-on
that the dead can’t put their finger
on—go ahead, switch 
to castanets 
instead, I say, 
and bottle caps—tubular bells 
such as them that exist
in The Exorcist, a thousand little whispers 
like pop rocks from the backfire 
of a flame, and a hearse: they say
we missed you today
in church, we missed you we missed
you, astral 
projection that floats, 
couple inches behind a Venice boat
—dead reckoning in the star-charred 
emptiness of morning canal. 
Oh, sing, sing to be happy, what simply 
cannot be, the chorus to Love Her Madly, 
maybe, so awkwardly, banging 
there the anorexic air
in no known key
—take her in the arms 
of your mind
and dance.

Dennis Mahagin is the author of two poetry collections: “Longshot and Ghazal,” from Mojave River Press, and “Grand Mal,” from Rebel Satori Press. His poems have appeared in magazines such as Exquisite Corpse, The Nervous Breakdown, Thrush Poetry Journal, Juked, Absinthe Literary Review, Stirring, decomP, and 3 A.M. Dennis is the poetry editor for Frigg Magazine, and the owner of a music store in downtown Deer Lodge, Montana.