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Two Poems by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

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The Yellow Door

By ramrod fleet, by coonskin cap,
walking contraband visits the shops,
in this one and out that one,
purchases wrapped under arm or carried
in tiny gift bags that festive ornament dangle
just feet above hurried gum-stuck pavement
and I with this tea spout, a personal waterfall,
in this cozy linoleum womb which must now stand in
for dying mother, this recidivist’s way I return to the window,
checking to see if that yellow door across the street is still there;
the train runs off with all its passengers on the hour,
no quick getaway for our stoic yellow friend –
out front and first over the top,
how long must a man steep before all the flavour
leaves him?

The Guests

Mrs. Markey has invited many factions over.
Storming up her kitchen, the smell is awful.
And soon the guests will arrive.
I keep peering out from behind heavy brown curtains.
A moth-eaten housecoat done up around sagging middle.
Imagining all manner of party favours and place settings.
A parade of lipstick and disingenuous niceties.
Warring submarines parked all over the street.
Jiggling Jello molds up the front stoop with a false precariousness.

And later, that fraudulent tippled gang-cackle.
In this repurposed Barcalounger, I sit in the dark.
The stillness of old pipe smoke upon these rooms I forget to live in.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Bourgeon, TheSongIs.., Cultural Weekly, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Image: Floris van Schooten, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

That Winter Afternoon by Michael Gushue

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In the third grade, I sat in the last row.
Chalk dust whisper down the slate blackboard.
The radiators hammered like anvils
throughout the morning. In the distance
pile drivers pounded creosote poles
into frozen ground; the frigid air throbbed
with each blow. Blackbirds chirked and shook snow
clods from firs and poplars. Cars hissed through
streets of slush and runoff as shovels scraped hard
at the gritty sidewalks. The wall clock clicked seconds.

After the last bell’s clatter, we went in pairs
to the cloakroom, shoved our arms down
our jackets’ damp corduroy sleeves
and tugged galoshes over our wool socks.
We walked in rows down the dim-lit hallway,
a tunnel where the floor’s sheen had the blur
of dull ice. Outside, the school’s frosted-over
bricks released us from school towards home.

I climbed over ragged hills of exhaust-gray
snow bulldozed in mounds at street corners,
squinted against the bright sting of the clouds’
slate-colored light. A cold wind stole into my coat.
Frigid water flooded the crosswalks and leached
through my shoes. I reached home, the door unlocked.

The downstairs was still. The blinds and shades
were drawn but ice glare leaked in from the air
outside, and dust motes hung, suspended.
Quietly, I walked up to our second floor.
In the hallway, the weak bulb dulled the gold
and white swirl of patterned wallpaper.
The worn carpet muffled my steps as I slid
past my room to the corridors’ end. Where
I found her empty bed behind the door.

Michael Gushue is co-founder of the DC-based nanopress Poetry Mutual Press. He curated the BAWA poetry reading series in the Brookland and Capitol Hill neighborhoods of DC, and wrote the Vrzhu Press Poetry & Arts blog, Bullets of Love. His books are Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press), Conrad (Silver Spoon Press), Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey (Pretzelcoatl Press). He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Image: Txllxt TxllxT, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Still Mourning on a Foggy Morning After Grandma’s Funeral

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Clouds weep on the
Windows adding their sorrow
to my unchecked sadness.

Sun tries to dry
sky’s tears, shine through
but fog shrouds sky,

effectively blocking
any warmth from penetrating
its thick, gauzy dampness.

Dark twig hands of leafless trees
offer no comfort of autumn color.
Tears washed away all their joy.

It seems only right that
Grandma died in November,
when all nature could mourn her.

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her writings are in Snapdragon, Ekphrastic Review, Pinesong, The Sun, Brass Bell, Verse Visual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Silver Birch, Ovunquesiamo, Verse Virtual, Poetry in Plain Sight, Punk Noir, Yellow Mama, and others. She’s a 2021 Pushcart nominee, received Best of Micro Fiction, 2021 (Haunted Waters), nominee for Best of the Net, 2023, and 2022 runner up in Frost Foundation Poetry Competition. Her chapbook, Feathers on Stone, is coming in late 2022 from Main Street Rag. She is a member of the North Carolina Poetry Society, a member and area representative for North Carolina Writers Network and on the stage side of her work, member of, and as the coastal area representative for NC’s Tar Heel Tellers and coordinates Poetry Workshops/Readings online through her county Arts Council.

Image: Viet Anh, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Two Poems by Nicole Scott

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WITNESSING PHOTOSYNTHESIS

My partner in
a sturdy flowerpot.

She trips the light
fantastic, into all life.

Comets arc
universes, for her.

Waves entwine like wreaths
to holidays, for her.

A sturdy flowerpot
walks out of daydreams,

volunteering to me:
This is blossoming day.

I call back to it
in sharp hesitancy

When was the last time
I let myself kiss the sun?

NEW PASTORAL

Earth’s bell rings into naked autumn;
the meadowlarks forage the bedtime of berries.
They curl their tongues in birthplaces of insect dynasties
under a starless canopy of peace—
or that is what the night suggests
until one explores closer to see the blackbirds
making a new sky, tearing each other apart.

Nicole Scott is a West Virginia native with an M.F.A in Creative Writing from Lindenwood University. She loves exploring wordplay, mythology, and sexuality in her work, while simultaneously debating if she should have another double shot of espresso. Her poetry and other published work can be found on her website nicolescottpoetry.com.

Image: Lionsleeps23, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Two Poems by Michael C. Davis

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Missing, Presumed Dead

The mountain fell. Ice. No resistance.
Canyon floor far below.
What would the wives know?
Crampon, piton, stance.
The cloud bellowed. Rope
Grew tight. Afternoon faded
Into night. The coombe,
The scarp, the fall.
Three thousand years
pass. A pouch. Something
other than a dream.
Tattoos on frozen skin.
Flint point beneath a shoulder blade.
Descending into shade. Mushrooms
no avail. Nor copper ax.
The scree, scruff, muscle.
No thought. Death. Enough.

The Last Diagnosis

Its back, she says, as if it is a single thing
returning like a boomerang
and she can beseech power
across the table, an unruffled pool
her hands rest upon.
Her words drop in it like stones.
It. Back. Again. As if it were alone,
and not one but three. Each entering
in turn. Like a menu. Each courses paired.
Each with its own prescription, utensil.
Kidney. Brain. Now lung, she says.
He can’t swallow.
It is only a matter of time.
A single reservation has been made.
The place-card has been engraved.
She says, you should have known him then,
like the spool of time could be rewound
and propped like a bolt of cloth in a corner,
seen at last for what it really was
instead of only guessed.

Later, she remembers words,
a favorite meditation,
a grace to introduce a service for the dead.

Michael C. Davis is a poet, classical guitarist, tanguero, teacher, traveler, reader, photographer. Retired copy editor. Resident of Falls Church, VA. His work has appeared in Gargoyle, Innisfree, Lip Service, Minimus, Poet Lore, and the anthologies Cabin Fever, Winners, and Written in Arlington. He has published a chapbook, Upon Waking (Mica Press), and a collection, Prodigal (New Academia Publishing).

Image: Kogo, GFDL <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html>, via Wikimedia Commons