MEAN PAULINE by Erin Redfern
Mean Pauline has bees in her chest
and a honey-stuck throat. She loves a cracker-jack
whiz kid, hates to explain herself.
Mean Pauline works in a dusking room.
Her red pen otters through prose estuaries.
Words, words–rash paddlers she bobs
with an inky tip before turning on her back
to crush and munch a tender mussel.
Mean Pauline loses two minnows in the shallows,
five gold coins to ebb tide. Come semester breaks
these currents are stronger than you’d think;
rafts just sink and boats with passengers
won’t float. Can we blame her
for striking sweetly, for saving herself?
Mean Pauline loves Huck better than Jo,
thinks only some tides are worth wading in.
If she works hard and does what she’s told
maybe her lost minnows will swim back to her,
maybe burnished gold can be turned back to flesh and blood.
Mean Pauline somersaults the red pen,
locks me homeless in hallways.
She knows I won’t break in. She’s left something
precious under her desk, curl of a girl
who wants to go home, minnow-lost
little who has no home but this.
Erin Redfern’s poetry has appeared in Zyzzyva, Compose, and Scapegoat Review, and has been nominated for Best of the Net 2015 by Crab Fat Literary Magazine and Blue Lyra Review. In 2015, she served as poetry judge for the San Francisco USD’s Arts Festival and as associate editor of Poetry Center San Jose’s print publication, Caesura. www.erinredfern.net
CITY OF ADJECTIVES by Alan Elyshevitz
In the guide book nothing is written
of the aspiring rabbi who menaces
his internal clock with midnight study.
Or the gullible diabetic consuming
a corn syrup lunch. Or the vendors
who upholster their stalls in scrap iron.
Every hour gas-driven machines
scrub corpuscles from public stone.
A counterintuitive vertigo pervades
a ground-floor café. The city stumbles
and wavers, ices over, then heats up.
All the while a collegial kleptocracy
shreds incriminating adjectives,
withholding them from tour groups.
Only the waiters will illuminate you:
To live in this city one must rely
on a nearly giddy forbearance.
Alan Elyshevitz is a poet and short story writer from East Norriton, PA. His collection of stories, The Widows and Orphans Fund, was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. In addition, he has published three poetry chapbooks, most recently Imaginary Planet (Cervena Barva Press). He is a two-time recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia.
IN EXCHANGE FOR SILENCE by Tennae Maki
We carried stones in our hands.
Later down the line, the group
of us would clench our fists,
fists full of dust.
Distant landscapes with cliffs
of clay, they were meant to be
climbed at some distant date.
The wind had torn the leaves
from trees. Even the pine
needles had fallen from their
narrow trunks, dehydrated
The cause we didn’t see but our
mothers still held parasols in
the way of the breeze, shielding
the sight lines of earnest whys.
Tennae Maki is a weekend writer that works at an architecture firm. She’s also the audio archivist for an arts radio station.
TO A DOG WHO SANG THE BLUES WHEN LEFT ALONE AT DAYS INN by Mark Jackley
I never learned to lift
the instruments of my ears
to the trombone ease of love
sliding in and out.
Sometimes they don’t come back.
Teach me how to howl.
LEARNING DAVID BOWIE DIED
the Death Star of the Tropicana
levers to pull
buttons to push
Major Tom I hear
but that is just a rumor
Mark Jackley’s new book of poems is Appalachian Night, available for free at email@example.com. His work has appeared in Sugar House Review, Fifth Wednesday, Natural Bridge, Talking River, and other journals. He lives in Sterling, VA.