Two Poems by Elaine Sorrentino

A Moment of Silence for the Salad Bar

Curtains to the possibility
of sesame cabbage salad
and tapioca pudding
forging a friendship
in the same takeout container,

Adios to sidling up to the bar,
surreptitiously
elbowing my w​ay 
to the last pickled beet
among the vinegary cornucopia;

the heavy-weight champion
of abundant choices
as appealing as hitching a ride,
putting Noxema on a sunburn,
or helmet-free biking,

even the sexy plexi
has repurposed itself since 2020,
now guarding teenage cashiers,
instead of red bell peppers,
from sneezers and viruses.

I miss sneaky side glances,
pretending I’m not eyeing
the tempting veggie-protein combo
composed by the stranger beside me
with a thrill-seeking palate;

Goodbye to eight different lettuces,
the thrill of topping tuna salad
with pickles and sunflower seeds,
and daring to pluck tomatoes
and red onion with the same tongs.


Hands

My hands, my hands
my blessing hands
caressing hands
finessing hands,
my hands, made for undressing hands;
gentle, unafraid.

My hands, my hands
my kneading hands
my pleading hands
my feeding hands,
my hands, my interceding hands;
passionate and sure.

My hands, my hands
my guiding hands
deciding hands
delighting hands,
my fashioned-for-providing hands;
grateful for their breadth.

My hands, my hands,
my shielding hands
my healing hands
unyielding hands
they never will be wielding hands;
they have drawn the line.




Elaine Sorrentino, Communications Director at South Shore Conservatory in Hingham, MA, has been published in Minerva RisingWillawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Ekphrastic Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Global Poemic, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, The Door is a Jar, Agape ReviewHaiku Universe, The Writers Magazine, and wildamorris.blogspot.com.

“Mask & Name” by Sado Marinovic

Every mask I’ve ever owned was
Put away with your first cry, 27
Hours and 7 minutes long
Going insane, Mama doubled
Over in pain, fearstruck face
Measuring the loss & gain, we
Laughed like hell when the epidural

Kicked in, nurses thought us crazy
We thought them angels come to save
Us in our helplessness, deliver
You wrinkled, bloodfull, brand new, your

Cry rippled my body and I
Cried too, reeled against the wall
Midwife misunderstood, to calm
Me said It’s not a cry just a
Child’s hello call. It was a joyrage
Weep unmasking a strawman,
Nameless until the day you cheep
DaDa, still quite a few sleepless
Ways away, come here they called

MaMa held you breastbright, I
Gingerstepped to bedside, said hello
And then, to still the crying, said
NoNo and you stopped, silence swelled
To a godchant, pulsed to our
Trident heartpound and with catseye
Glaze cast more or less my way , reached
Toward the voice you’d heard for nine
months long.

Somewhere between the way
You and your mother look at me
Is where I’ll always belong.




Sado Marinovic is a writer of poetry and short stories. His style and themes are heavily influenced by his immigrant background. Along with literature, Sado has fueled his passion with work in film and music. He lives in Chicago with his wife and son.

Two Poems by Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo

Promise

the most fragile of all human inventions
easily broken
so delicate
you can shatter it
in an instant
into small intricate pieces

sometimes empty
impulsive
written in water
or worth keeping
with brevity
but without guarantee
time and time again

the trickiest of all speech-acts
trust: an idealism
ambivalence: an option
treachery: a possibility
the future is at stake
savor each word
with a grain of salt


Residues

all that was left were cigarette butts
the rest turned into ashes

moments ago
you were relishing
inhaling and puffing toxins
ember was apricot-red
which gradually turned lighter
lost colors
and became lifeless
leaving residues
in your flesh and bones

eerily familiar vignettes:
you were empty
in a jam-packed room
full of strangers
same old pollution
cacophonies
you were fixed
but all over the place
trying to hold your breath
no burning desire
casting doubts about
the dichotomy
between smoke and fire

all that was left were cigarette butts
the rest turned into ashes




Sherwin Altarez Mapanoo is a multidisciplinary writer, researcher, and nomadic visual ethnographer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Art Studies (Interdisciplinary) from the University of the Philippines and a double post-graduate degree (with distinction) in International Performance Research and Theory of Art and Media, Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and the University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia, respectively under the Erasmus Mundus program. After years of being nomadic, he is now settled in the Philippines and has recently renewed his penchant for weaving words together.

Two Poems by P. H. Crosby

Awake

All suddenly black and white and remembered,
the dark crack of the creek through crazed snow,
snaggled branches above, red barberry below.

I stomp and pause. A hawk pings its prey
in the sky’s stratus comforter,
lined with blue and gray.

Juncos rattle bare twigs behind me,
a titmouse cocks its clever, tufted head.
Ravens knock and croak at meadow’s edge.

It’s been here all along, not even hiding.
Chafing and bursting, abrupt and bold,
winging or creeping or leaping in the cold.

“Only the inmate did not correspond….”

Bars pried open, I find myself here.
Left behind for now at least,
all sluggishness and fear.


Love

I am no good at giving up things I love.
That is to say, giving with love, giving love.
Loving. Love. I’ve said it so many times now,
the word’s become funny, like when we were kids.
(Duck, we’d say. Think about it. Duck, duck,
duck, duck, duck! Then collapse, shrieking.)
How strangely the word unfolds and envelops
the mouth, starts with a note and descends with a hum
and a fricative. How strange its range, generosity
to despair. That a poem begun to self-chastise
ends with this. A paean to the word itself,
not its meaning alone, but its rarity, commonality,
flow and knot. The way it sticks in the throat
too often, or bubbles out too hot.




P. H. Crosby is a writer of poetry, fiction, and drama, published in Changing Men, The Other Side, War, Literature and the Arts, and other venues. Four poems recently appeared in “In this Together: A Virtual Exhibition on the Intersection of Planetary and Human Health” and a short play, “A Change in Climate” was produced in 2020 by The Lava Center. P. H. Crosby lives and works in western Massachusetts.

Two Poems by Barbara Lydecker Crane

On North Haven Island

Portrait of Elizabeth, 1901, by Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951); Maine

Here at our summer home the day is fine.
The salty air’s awash in light that she
reflects as she reflects on turning nine.
My daughter stands in sweet gentility,
her linen blouse with collar starched and bright,
in white to match the shining bow that ties
her honey hair. She makes a charming sight,
though shadow falls across her face. She sighs
and drops a pensive gaze on down our hill
to somewhere out beyond the lapping shore.
Do nascent hopes and aspirations fill
her head? Or are there fears she can’t ignore?
As she grows up this century, I pray
the world will be as peaceful as this day.


Little Bird

Francis O. Watts with Bird, 1805, by John Brewster, Jr. (1766-1854); Maine

Francis Watts’s parents were distraught.
From scarlet fever, both their daughters perished.
A portrait of their son, age three, was sought
from me, a neighbor, who knew how they cherished
their remaining sprout. In slippered feet
and lacy gown, the healthy lad stood still
for me to paint him. Later I’d complete
the eerie trees, the twilit empty hills,
the bird he’s holding tied up on a string.
That string’s a symbol of mortality:
when he who grips it dies, the bird takes wing,
slips its tether–as mortal souls fly free.
Francis does not know the string is frail;
for now, he keeps his trilling nightingale.




.Barbara Lydecker Crane, a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist in 2017 and 2019, has two Pushcart nominations and several sonnet contest awards. She has published three chapbooks: Zero Gravitas, Alphabetricks, and BackWords Logic. Her poems have appeared in Able Muse, Ekphrastic Review, First Things, Light, Measure, Think, Writer’s Almanac, and many others. She lives near Boston and is also an artist.

Two Poems by Kathryn Leonard-Peck

Monochrome

Monochrome meridians
an atlas of gray
once there were dragons
promising more at the edge
green scales gleaming
in the fire and flame
gold coins jingling
to the beat of leathery wings.

Now there is nothing
I have lost my way
manless, mapless
unloved by all
just a small frail figure
shuffling slow off the stoop
my bleached map leads to nowhere
except to bones
unmarked graves.


Cold Purifying Water

Changing state from ice to pool
cold purifying water
otters kick free from grass lined dens
sleek dervishes of the ineffable cool.

Beavers slap tails as icicles drip
buds unfurling from a half-starved branch
stubby turtles claw from thawing beds
black roses free from winter’s grip.

The stream rushes in and so I know
revenants awake
snappish, hungry, quick to lunge
vultures at the death of snow.




Kathryn Leonard-Peck writes poetry, plays, and short stories, and is completing her first novel. She also paints. She graduated from Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School and is an attorney. She currently lives on a farm on Martha’s Vineyard with her family. Her poetry, short stories, and art have been published in literary journals, including Drizzle Review; Another Chicago Magazine; THEMA; Blink Ink; IHRAF Publishes (the International Human Rights Art Festival); Auroras & Blossoms/F Point Collective; South Road; and The Stonefence Review. She was the second-place winner for the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing (MVICW) Vineyard Writers Fellowship.

Two Poems by Tain Leonard-Peck

Sarajevo Sun

Sunset dances, sky-lilacs swaying;
to welcome the moon to the smoking sky;
flames flicker at horizon’s edge
to bid Bosnia’s sun farewell.
 
Grey day becomes
windy night;
gales drowning out
a gunfire symphony.
 
City of ruin,
bricks become shrapnel
bridges crumble; like the bread drowning in rivers,
street lamps break,
crater fires light the snipers’ cold way.
 
Ruptured roof,
dawn scratches at dust-eyed survivors,
clouds slump into basements,
bringing the smell of cordite and earth
scorched survival
of another shattered sunrise.


Stories Unseen

Stalk the libraries,
wolf that swallows words,
hunting the stacks,
scenting the titles,
in the card catalogue.
 
Forest of the dead,
sniff through the charnel,
weave through the copses:
nonfiction and biography
like willows and ashes.
 
The hunt goes on,
prey elusive,
search through a meadow,
garden magazines flutter, colorful,
Nat-Geo daisies and lilies from Vogue.
 
The trail is found:
target detected–
ideal book-aroma.
amidst sickly sweet dictionaries,
and turnip-bitter outdated travel guides.
 
Fiction’s woods,
finally found,
the prey lurks in the ‘A’s.
Search shelf by shelf, until at last,
Austen uncovered, the hunt complete.
 
A rare morsel,
literature from a corseted woman’s pen,
romance with bite and wit,
a lick of lemon, sugar cracking in the teeth
old stories that gnaw in a hungry new world.




Tain Leonard-Peck writes poetry, plays, and short stories, and is completing his first novel. He is also an actor, monologist, and model. He paints and composes music, and is a competitive sailor, skier, and fencer. His work has been published in literary journals, including the 2020 Anthology of Youth Writing on Human Rights & Social Justice; TAEM; Sleet Magazine; The Elevation Review; Idle Ink; Crack The Spine Magazine; The Riva Collective; Molecule; Multiplicity Magazine; Czykmate; and others. He won Honorable Mention for the Creators of Literary Justice Award, by IHRAF, the largest human rights art festival in the world; was a finalist for #ENOUGH: Plays to End Gun Violence; and won the first place Poetry Fellowship to the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.

Two Poems by Cameron Morse

My Costume

I am Captain Hook
for Halloween, hook
always because of this
ridiculous left hand,
and the tumor’s chasing me
down with the time
ticking in its belly, the time
left to me. The tumor’s
packed my severed hand in there
too, I imagine, its knuckles
dissolving in a vat of stomach acid,
its hairy digits digitized
as the data by which my son Peter
will remember his old man
with the red beard and the peg-like
limp, his splotchy slab
of meat flapping from its hook.


Naysayer

Late November tumbling
over chimney stacks,
wind swirls in the street.
I can see it in the leaves,
a new kind of augury,
the storytelling of gurneys,
yearnings yay or nay
said by the names we choose
for our children, our transgressions.
Late November vampire
bloodthirsty or bled by the vial
for the panel now that you’ve downed
the first bottle of chemicals
war-fared for your right hemisphere
like a jar of fireflies. The phlebotomist
asks you to hold the cotton ball
over the hole her needle made
in your arm but your left
hand shrivels, clings, but finally
tumbles into the invisible
circles in which the wind dervishes
down the street.




Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Missouri—Kansas City and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and (soon, three) children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

Two Poems by Ken Gosse

Our Christmas Guest

There’s a tree in our house that’s been dressed with great care
(not the house, Heavens no! but the tree we brought there,
although not really we, because this year, you see,
I waited at home till a quarter past three
while my wife found the tree on her own, without me,
for the USPS was expected that day
though their tracking site said to expect a delay—
like the five days before, and since then, five days more—
since they’d need a ‘John Hancock’ on reaching our door,
then at twenty past three came my part of the chore:
to bring in the tree that I mentioned before.)

Now where was I? Ah yes! The tree, naked no more,
was propped up in a stand that we placed on the floor.
Well-designed for the task, it had six screws around
its circumference ensuring the tree that we found
would have all due support and not have to resort
to its own missing roots which were once the cohort
of its balance and feeding, which both were still needing
but now were supplied by good people who tried
to ensure its good health to the end of its days—
which were numbered, in deference to our holidays.

Until then, we’ll provide it the very best care
though we burden its boughs with small colored lights’ glare
and a great crowd of ornaments hung heavy there
as remembrance; nostalgia’s soft annual stare
stays attentively watchful to guard against one
who assumes this tradition is all for his fun,
for the dog stays away but the cat loves to play
with the old, beat-up danglers which show signs of fray
from our past Christmas cats whom we never could teach
not to mangle the ornaments placed within reach.

Very soon, many presents encircle its girth
piling up on the floor, wrapped with colorful mirth,
tied with ribbons and bows (though no longer required
“because transparent tape,” yet still highly desired),
with tags attached tightly or taped into place
for the cat, once again, with his delicate grace
assumes anything loose must be his for the taking
(as proof, he’s aloof while it’s visibly shaking
beneath a rogue paw as it plays the outlaw
which precedes the full pounce of his sharply-toothed maw).

And so, once again we prepare for a season
to celebrate life, love, and laughter, the reason
we gather together beneath these strange trees
which we cull from the woods, store, or box (without ease),
but our annual efforts’ results always please
once we’ve finished the task, bought and piled the gifts,
get together with family, when focus shifts
from a dinner-time feast on a table well-set
and we circle around in the warmth we have found
in a raucous enjoyment where joy will abound
as we share our delight in a welcome well-met.


The Moving Window

The UPS has changed its mind.
The window’s closed: I stare but see
no truck—they need more time to find
my house for their delivery.

No roadways here are filled with snow;
the clouds, though deep, are very bright.
The driver knows the way to go—
I hope he’s here before it’s night.

With many promises to keep
along the roads he’ll travel by,
I hope that he’ll postpone his sleep
as I stand vigil with a sigh.

He doesn’t always love this task;
he’ll fence with those who dare complain—
those savages! Do I dare ask
how long I must await in vain?

He’s here at last, so I rejoice!
His mobile app has found the way,
and though fatigued, with friendly voice
his truck drives off like Santa’s sleigh.




Ken Gosse prefers writing short, rhymed verse with traditional meter, usually filled with whimsy and humor. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, his poems are also in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Pure Slush, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Home Planet News Online, Spillwords, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years.

Two Poems by Kelly Sargent

My Voice

I am Deaf.
My fingers speak.

A coiffed paintbrush in my grasp,
my voice streaks turquoise and magenta
across a parched canvas.
Vowels coo through thirsty linen.

Click-clacking keys with my mother tongue,
I chew hard consonants
and spit them out.
Sour, a scathing sonnet can be at dusk.

Fingertips pave slick exclamations,
punctuated by nails sinking low into clamminess.
I sculpt hyperboles.


The Mushroom Caves in Madrid

remember when we descended the dank hollow,
hollow like the cool, clay ashtrays cradling the
spent brown butts we found cowering behind the whiskey bottle

that they swilled in the mushroom caves
following the bullfight
and you huddled at the foot of my bed in the tangy orange afghan we shared

after the beast trickled blood uncauterized that night

in the pen dusted crimson.

you liked the banderilla’s pink crêpe paper;
we willed it pretty.

we crawled under the table, sticky
oak legs spread wide,
swollen, soaked, and stiff.
garlic burned more than sangria.

my twin, my deaf mirror,
sign with your tiny hands and
tell me:
what time are we allowed to eat stuffed mushrooms?


“My Voice” and “The Mushroom Caves in Madrid” first appeared in Stone Poetry Journal.




Kelly Sargent‘s poems and artwork in 2021, including a current Best of the Net nominee, appeared or are forthcoming in nearly two dozen literary publications. Her poetry chapbook entitled Seeing Voices: Poetry in Motion is also forthcoming (Kelsay Books, 2022). She serves as Creative Nonfiction Editor of The Bookends Review and an assistant nonfiction editor for Newfound. She also reviews for an organization dedicated to making visible the artistic expression of sexual violence survivors. Born HOH and adopted in Luxembourg with a deaf twin sister, she grew up in Europe and the U.S., and also wrote for a national newspaper for the Deaf.