It’s a good day to read the work of Adrian Slonaker! Don’t miss his fabulous poetry below!
As the sun slipped through mounds of sour cream in the sky the way water flowed through the oolong tea leaves in Papa’s evening cuppa, I imagined iridescent angels frolicking while I lay on bendy grass growing like the waves of whiskers that sprouted years later along with puberty and anxiety and profanity. Now in a front aisle seat aboard a propeller plane jerking and rocking its way towards the Saint Lawrence River, I peer past the burly businessman in earbuds, whose elbow battles mine for the armrest, and out the cushion-shaped slab of window into white wisps like the fog in films featured on Halloween horror marathons. Trying through turbulence not to spill a bilingually labeled bottle of water, I surmise that the seraphim must be on strike.
Creeping out from quarantine on a noiseless Sunday, I spotted a wispy, sable-colored spider refusing to shelter in place, shimmying through shifting sunlight up an imperceptible thread to the awning above my head just how I once rocked to a peak of an Alp smeared with tourism and snow (or was it white Toblerone?) in a fully-packed funicular when I was twelve and not yet terrified of heights. And now I feel as exposed, but not half as carefree as that nimble arachnid in the wind.
Residing near the banks of the Petitcodiac River in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee Adrian Slonaker toils as a word boffin and enjoys rock ‘n’ roll records, opals, iced coffee and ghost stories during summer thunderstorms. Adrian’s work has been published in Ez.P.Zine, Caustic Frolic, The Pangolin Review and others.
Sara Collie shares with us her writings about trees and hope. During these challenging times, it’s a good reminder to find life in art and the scenery around us.
I see myself in everything, especially the trees
On the morning in question, I woke up feeling incredibly calm. It had rained all night – I could practically hear the water seeping into the garden doing good when the birds woke me up at dawn with their usual singing. Everything’s growing! I thought. Ah, life! I dozed back to sleep. But then came the morning and I heard another noise which didn’t fit the usual pattern. A neighbour’s handyman hacking away at the beloved lilac bush that leans over our garden filling the air with its perfume every May. Every year I wait patiently for the buds to open. When they turn purple it means winter has really gone and we’ve made it to spring. This is no small thing. I sit outside and inhale their perfume in the dark for weeks. That morning when I went into the garden, the branches of that bush were strewn about the floor. Once he was done with them, the man hacked the branches off the nearby elder tree too, blossom, burgeoning berries and all.
I don’t understand people who cut down trees. It makes me so sad.
Luckily this world also contains all the poems Mary Oliver ever wrote, and there I can see that I am not alone in loving the trees and all their leaves and branches and all the things that live in them and all the birds that perch on them en route to wherever they’re flying to. Luckily, I can flick to the pages of one of her books and find a little solace. Her poem, ‘Foolishness? No, it’s not’ tells of her counting all the leaves on a tree, ‘half crazy with the wonder of it — the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort.’ I read it in the cool darkness that evening when I can’t sleep. I remember the lilac bush as it was when it was thriving, full of life. I think about how hopeless I feel now and try to remind myself that this will pass. Of course, the poems are all printed on paper so I’m just another hypocrite in a world full of people saying one thing and doing another. Nothing is ever so simple as good or bad, right or wrong. The stump of the lilac and the elder remain, mangled, mutated, but rooted in the ground, still. Hopefully they will sprout fresh branches. Plants bounce back, often much more quickly than humans do.
Whatever their fate, at the very least, I’ve got a tiny lilac plant that self-seeded from the hacked apart bush growing in a pot. One day, years from now, when its grown and blooming for the very first time, I’m going to sit underneath its branches and whisper Mary Oliver’s poem to it in the dark.
Sara Collie is a writer and wandering soul living in Cambridge, England. She has a PhD in Contemporary French Literature and loves gardening, wild swimming and walking in the mountains. Her writing explores the wild, uncertain spaces of nature, the ups and downs of mental health, and the mysteries of the creative process. Her poetry and prose have appeared in various online and print anthologies.
Fill your weekend with the euphonic poetry of Sushant Thapa! Step into the world he creates with his imagery.
Writing on the Broken Wall Sometime back I read on the wall of my university: “Walls, the publishers of the poor.” Today, I count the lockdown days Numbering them in the calendar hung on my wall Writing on the calendar hung on the wall I am drawing lines of time Unknown it is, my days What if I count more than I will have? This air is so thick to breathe My heart is heavy like a stone I am a poor man today I wish to publish my writings on the wall Only if the wall is broken, For then, it will keep my plight straight Broken will be the letters Just like my broken plight My sight has served me to see this world My vision when I close my eyes will still see This world divided by pandemic, hunger and ignorance Across borders people have been moved by territories of their own They want to reach home, “Home, homeland and the pandemic” is Bringing us together in what we have lost Not losing the way back home we have found our existence it seems So, I still wish to write on the broken wall.
The Old Man in the Rickshaw
He sees what others do not see, he is on a journey. Stationed homes and barricaded compounds never knew his plight Thin air blows and he is lost in it His life was also stationed like stationed homes when he was young and working Now, he is out venturing sitting in the rickshaw — he is no more himself that he used to be. How young is the rickshaw? How old is he? The road is muddy and the cool weather is blowing in the breeze The old man is sitting in the rickshaw and chewing a gum, the city seems new for him today. It is his day — a day in his life The young rickshaw puller is his friend The road is his companion His dog left him early His wife was once so dearly The city is still breathing and so is he, in the rickshaw slow and steady The old man is on a journey The evening sun touches his face He sees a half moon in the horizon, some children dive into the pond He waits in the rickshaw to be free and forever young.
The Taste of the Evening Tea
white milk foams till the rim of the tea cup turning to creamy brown tea — dark dips of tea leaves blooms the color I drink the color and the white rainy clouds pour sweetness — measured in the tea cup sugar coated vistas and hiatus of everyday blooming reality grooms in the sawdust of effervescent twilight the orange sun is transparent in the tea cup I gulp the sun and only the tea cup stands as a fleeting memory of the sun which was like an image in the evening sky a little while ago.
What makes meaning?
Is it the ever flowing stream of words that carry meaning? Is it the concept that draws images in one’s mind, that makes meaning? Does the idea so subtle and particular — tend to carry affection on its own? Does it glow for the meaning as a whole? Is meaning same for one and all? How poetic can a poet be? How interpreted can his meanings be? What is left unsaid and unknown, how meaningful can that be? What makes sense — is it always felt close? Can senses be forever disclosed? When at times unpoetic becomes the poet, where hides his words? Where lies his feelings when in winding thoughts he is reeling?
Repeating the One Night Stand
Caught in the darkness of lonely lonesome day the night sky is falling beneath the blanket, incomplete to both of us. Just like one cigarette that kept burning in the ashtray I burned in my insides too, and like the ashes of the cigarette my ashes scattered all over the room blew out my insides in the act and washed away the fumes, as the ashes subsumed. Beneath the chest of mine I shared love with her — lies my ‘self’ so at unrest there. I was once broken the day was dark, the night was cold and stories were — untold, but the bed was unfold and manifold.
Sushant Thapa is an M.A. in English Literature from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. He writes in English and the Nepali language. His English poems, essays, short stories and flash fictions have been published in print and online publications from Nepal and abroad including The Kathmandu Post and Republica Daily from Kathmandu, Nepal, The Writers Club or greythoughts.info from New Jersey, USA, Kitaab.org and Borderless Journal from Singapore. His Nepali poems have also appeared in print and online publications including Udghosh Daily of Biratnagar, Sahitya Post, firewordsdaily.com and khalipanna.com from Kathmandu, Nepal. Sushant revels in rock music, poetry, books and movies from his home in Biratnagar, Nepal.
Link to some of his poems, short stories and flash fictions are given below:
Get swept up in the stunning poetry and art combination of Shiela Scott! The sweet sadness of the poem depict beautifully a familiar and relatable pain.
Licensed photographer, creative writer, and business entrepreneur Shiela Scott has completed an A.A.S in Photography degree at Antonelli college, and a B.F.A in Creative Writing for Entertainment degree at Full Sail University. While obtaining a photography degree she has visited news stations and assisted in creating a Christmas card. Also working on a set for Herbalife, while producing memories for the company staff and leadership, she gained notoriety. With working knowledge of novella, novel, poetry, script, and prose, she aspires to be the best she can be. While she has written Desires that be, a novella with 5 short stories about relationships and pain, she still plans to write more. She has written multiple scripts while studying for the degree.
Not only has she completed works in the field of study, yet gained certificates in other areas. With knowledge of music, how to run a business, how to be promotable, how to work with others, lighting, green screen lighting, and more. She aspires to be well rounded.
By gaining multiple scholarships throughout her educational journey, she flourished into being a creative muse.
Kicking us off for July’s Online Open Mic we have Ndaba Sibanda! May he be an inspiration to you to fill this month with expression and artistry!
To Set Her Heart On Fire
to set the much-needed dialogue in motion there had to be poetry & poetry & devotion she didn’t mince her words at all, she hit it she demanded & desired to see nothing short of it: she called for an ecstatic expression of emotions a freely & furiously lively ,lovely exhibition of yens a river filled with an explosion of verve and verse and that was her basis for an engagement, a discourse
Write Me Letters
You have filled me in on what makes you tick, took me on a tour of your culture and creed.
You have taken me to places where they dish out delicacies and glamour and glitz.
I cannot thank you enough for the body of knowledge you have shared with me.
I cannot thank you enough for the superb cuisines and places of interest you have exposed me to.
But now, please waste not your breath and time, for time for buts and blah blah is over.
But now, please dish out your fragilities, your you-ness, for I pour out my me-ness.
Write, write me letters…
Write, write me letters…
Words whose meanings and sounds are spelt out in the dictionary of you `n me.
Those whose font sizes dance a lively tap to the melody and therapy of my soul.
Words whose meanings and sounds are meaningless and soundless to all.
Write me letters at the centre of my heart, letters so hot they burn into eternal blazes.
Write me letters whose glorious memories time and distance will not shrink or erase.
Write me letters in the hidden bowls of my mind, letters so mad they invent and reinvent my world.
Draw me pictures whose shadows and sounds and colours I will follow and fall for forever.
Draw me diagrams of the unseen and untouchable only seen and touched in the depth of your heart.
Diagrams reflective of the effectiveness of vibes, those that sweep one off one`s heart and mind.
Please me tell that our walks and chats and outings are the fruit we are beholden to honour and nurture.
Please tell me I am the letters and diagrams that have snowballed and sailed away with you.
Write me letters and diagrams about denials and the writing off of reality at one`s risk.
Write me letters and diagrams about what lies beneath the wholeness of you and your life.
Let me drown in their transcendence and elegance, so that our deficiencies see the light of fondness.
Let me plunge into the blast furnace of adoration, and deal with its heat, lows and highs with conviction.
Bring me the honour and privilege to take a sneak peek into our lifetime displeasures and treasures and pleasures.
Bring me all our baggage of staggering secrets and frailties, bring them on –for these are to be in the mirror of frankness.
Write me letters slated in for victory and celebration, write me letters endorsed and sealed by our hearts.
Write me letters whose weight is weightless and sight sightless in the face of our resolve and affection.
Write, write me letters…
Write, write me letters…
In The Heart Of Glory And Gladness
Have you ever had the pleasure of observing the behavior of the wild—the elephants— in their natural habitat? A lumbering spectacle!
Have you ever had a desire to hang out with guys like the turtle? Chatting with her, taking her to lunch– perhaps, feeding and cleaning her. That would be great!
Perhaps dear turtle would start to open up a bit. Thanks for the wonderful meal and bath. Please, please protect me from predators. My hatching grounds need to be secure.
Picture yourself in the core of the grassland, in the majesty of the Victoria Falls, wow!– graced by the presence of the big 5: the rhino, elephants, lions, leopards, buffalo; hands dirty & caring!
Shimmering With The Moon And The Stars
The king of the jungle listened to the quietude Of the night, the sleepiness of the woodland An airiness issued, pampering his eardrums There was an air of expansiveness and mystery The royal animal was mesmerised and blown away By the sweetness and fruitfulness of the melody It breathed genuinely aromatic buds into his nostrils And planted a peace of mind that paced through eyes Here his ears were heir to a lyrical and likable calmness There was something cool, curative about the experience The king of the jungle moseyed, marvelled at the elegance And beauty of the moon, a moon whose remoteness was nigh He was in the glare of the galaxies` deep dimples and smiles There was a reappearance and impermanence of moments The lioness and the cubs were fast asleep, maybe, he thought– Just re-contextualising peace and the pace of nature and night…
With a tongue longer than your body You slurp up ants from inside ant nests!
Sheltered in stiff scales, you curl up to defend Against a group of predators and traffickers
Tell me about the magic behind your scales? How do they go on growing during your life?
Belonging to the threatened species, you are– A most severely trafficked animal in the world
I wish you could curl up into an inaccessible ball, A ball that eludes the claws of the leopards & tigers
At times you ‘scale’ away a pride of lions—bravado! I wish materialistic poachers could leave you alone
It is interesting that you use your nose to find ants It is disheartening that you are hunted on a huge scale
For meat, fashion and medicinal purposes, you are pursued Pangolin, you can be pardoned for secreting a pungent fluid!
You are at liberty to communicate with your special glands So that you could spray them with the skunk`s perfect perfume!!
the road looks like it’s running away and one wishes one had more than one pair of eyes –maybe two sideways and of course at the back of the head
sometimes the car convulses or gallops especially when it thinks one’s legs on the pedal and brakes are playing fool with its little moody mechanics
And Bum Bum
I thought my older brother was holding onto the saddle
till l discovered that the bike was roller-skating freely with me
down down a lonely lane and bum bum on a pothole
I flew up and fear hit me hard before l said son-of-that man
get off in one piece please– and in style l glided off the thing!
A 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, Ndaba’s poems have been widely anthologised. Sibanda is the author of The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache: Unsympathetic Untruth, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence and Poetry Pharmacy. His work is featured in The Anthology House, in The New Shoots Anthology, and in The Van Gogh Anthology, and A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Poetic Intersections. Some of Ndaba’s works are found or forthcoming in Page & Spine, Peeking Cat, Piker Press, SCARLET LEAF REVIEW, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review, Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, Indian Review, Eunoia Review, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine, The Borfski Press, Snippets, East Coast Literary Review, Random Poem Tree, festival-of-language and Whispering Prairie Press. Sibanda’s forthcoming book Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things: Confronting Controversies,Contradictions And Indoctrinations was considered for The 2019 Restless Book Prize for New Immigrant Writing in Nonfiction. Ndaba’s other forthcoming book Cabinet Meetings: Of Big And Small Preys was considered for The Graywolf Press Africa Prize 2018. Sibanda’s other forthcoming books include Timbomb, Dear Dawn And Daylight, Sometimes Seasons Come With Unseasonal Harvests, A Different Ballgame and The Way Forward.
For some it will be an insect A rare butterfly or moth The way beetles burrow or have strong wings
For others a snail, a mollusk An octopus, or squid The mammoth, the whale The extinction of the rhino
For some it will be the smile On a particular child’s face Or the way a love brushes hair back From off your brow The smell of grandmother’s cookies
For others it will be the first hand ever Held open to them with no kickbacks Expected, or their hard-working moms Or a favorite pair of shoes ready to take them Anywhere
For some it may be themselves Their own breathing The miracle of having a body In which to experience life, this planet Pleasures
For others it will be comic books And french fries, and greasy stained thighs Sharing a soda with two straws Holding hands at the movies Learning how to drive Moving their tassels from one side Of their graduation cap to the other
And still for some it will be respite A break from all the dishes and mess And endless to do lists, a good place to sit And read a new book, or nap, or watch Sparrows gather outside spring’s Window
For yet for others it will be nature itself The tallness of trees, the rush of wind Being caught in a wave, a swirl of salt water Cloudy and forever mysterious Sand between toes Grass stains and sweat From a long hike
For me it is you And for the love of what is holy All that is holy, I give thanks
Cold nights where we nestle closer to one another your kind being, breathing softly against my skin
And the way our kittens bird watch at the backdoor their twin bodies, their heads atilt at a jaunty angle—
Playing every note at once isn’t music
And is the same with cooking all the ingredients at your disposal at once
As with love and all the blood in your heart
Remember, whenever you can that it is your time on this planet that every generation must reuse
A hand-me-down a gift we are all belong to.
A Lullaby for my Love
Goodnight, goodnight goodnight darling goodnight
Goodnight my sweet I wish you the best as your head onto pillow rests go forward into your world of dreams
Hush now my darling lay down your sorrows pick up all your wishes for your tomorrows
I want the best for you top billing and first page news
I want the poems you want and room for a puppy even if we still don’t get a puppy I want you to have what you need I want you to not have to work so hard I want you to have time for the cats yeah and also to play with me
Basically, these days I’d like us to win the lottery and for everyone else to win it too because as a proletariat I know that what’s you’d want
We try so hard and all we wanna do is give you’ve got that artists spirit and that’s what I fell in love with if you were a song, I’d play these notes forever but I’m glad you’re a person cause I married you cause I’m a smartass woman and know who I like to share books with and walk to the park and beach and lay my little head next to on an orthopedic pillow and intertwin my dreams with or worry into the night if I’m being honest for the sake of our artistic integrity however avant-garde the day I’m glad I’m sharing it with you
Round Things Make a Circle
An enso goes around and around so does an ouroboros and a hurricane cloud the earth and moon
It all comes back one day it’s all both the smile and the frown both the egg before it was broken and the perfect yolk after
A shell a stone, almost and the center of a flower both the smile and the frown the moon, the polka dot on the suited clown
I wouldn’t say her butt was round, but big bottomed girls make the world go make the world and the moon and the sun, a sand dollar some stones and a shell the center of a flower
your bellybutton the iris in your eye the center of a flower
Diego Marquina: To me drawing, painting, taking pictures and writing is the perfect scape to a calm place in my mind were I can take distance and have some fun. I started drawing as a therapy, working on my mental health is primal to me, and should be for everybody. One day I published one of my drawings, and I started to get feedback that surprised me.
Under clodlike clouds too thick for the aurora borealis to penetrate, the Yukon River crackled a greeting beneath its icy shell while log-cabin skyscrapers and silvery evergreens slept or possibly played possum. The coyote, whose furry ears rose at the terminus of a frosty road, filled the night with its answer: nip-nip-nip. Not a baleful howl or a gritty growl, just the nip-nip-nip of playfulness and pep, the tiny grin in its voice mirrored by the one on my face.
God, I Hate Cleaning the Bathroom
My head heavy from the Scrubbing Bubbles that promise to save me precious labor as I say goodbye to the grime and grout on the unintentionally toffee-colored tiles, I sigh and sit on the hot pink toilet seat cover that looks envious of its big sibling, the fuzzy rug draped over the bathtub. Both were bequeathed by Nana, who’d expired in September after Aunt Nancy’d urged the nurse to pump up the morphine to mollify the pain once the cancer had colonized the bones. A draft of fifty-one-degrees-Fahrenheit/eleven-degrees-Centigrade traces my face as I watch ants hobnob around an errant splash of Kool-Aid on the gravel outside the open window that offers a view onto half a faded ‘Free Puppies’ sign flapping against a leafless oak tree. It must have been forgotten since the malamutes and their masters had decamped in a moving van on the morning of that election day when everyone was so angry. Teasing me from under the closed closet door is the border of the bathroom scale I banished after devouring the entire rhubarb crisp Cheryl had smilingly foisted on me despite my best efforts to follow Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse because boys worry about willpower and weight too.
On Friday afternoon he’d lunched solo, as usual, on the Cracker Barrel fish fry special during which he’d daydreamed he was Dina, the eldest daughter of a doting Neapolitan-American Catholic couple in 1959 instead of a twenty-first-century-middle-aged Methodist of English and Scottish and Swedish descent – according to a hundred-dollar DNA test – flung aside as a flake by his family and whose nagging gender dysphoria drove him to shame his balding pate with mail-order berets. Popping into the gift shop, he strained to make his two-hundred-seventy-two-pound frame in a paisley t-shirt as petit as possible as if to apologize for his plump presence and not bump into the crush of impulse buyers and salespeople or destroy displays of candles and candies and cards and owls and samplers that screamed “Relax and Accept the Crazy” as he bitch-slapped his panic and fed his basket before it puked Dubble Bubble and diet orange ‘n cream soda at the cashier, a cinnamon-scented sixtiesh lady with a Nancy Reagan hairdo who didn’t question the tiny tube of champagne lip shimmer before fondling the fractured tutti-frutti candy stick and cooing, “Oh it’s broken. Are you sure you don’t want a different one?” Insulted by the suggestion to refuse such a flamboyantly sweet, yet shattered specimen, he expelled a plaintive “No!” like Betty from Father Knows Best before inhaling the yellow and red and green and white shards while waiting for the bus.
Adrian Slonaker crisscrosses North America as a language boffin and is fond of opals, owls, fire noodles and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Adrian’s work, which has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net, has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Ez.P.Zine, The Pangolin Review and others.
It is easy to wear a mask made of the vomit of the sun
walking the streets of a timid town in search of
the perfect background for every sacred word
cumbersome in the eye of a bird or a beast.
Canine laughter might be served as a breakfast
for nauseous music you are too afraid to hear.
Slumber Bigger Than Life
36 days ago I couldn’t
touch the claws of the clouds
and the scratches made by flowers
on somnolent walls. Consider the reptiles:
Under the snow they smell, smile, simulate
happiness of the eyeless sky.
Shadows and mice invade the parks
and the mirrors of the towns cursed by the roar
of butterflies between the seasons.
Hibernating leaves are ashamed of revealing the future.
A story of blabbering flowerless vases
has been buried in oblivious ice.
I am serious as a vacuum cleaner:
Words are the duds of mute angels
that loathe doing the laundry.
Ivan Peledov lives in Colorado. He loves to travel and to forget the places he has visited. He has been recently published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, The Collidescope, iō Literary Journal, and Wend Poetry.