underfoot barnacles bladderwrack
graze and slide
my heavy eyes peel
search nestled spaces
sand and kibble-holed stones
I seek lustre sea snails’ pearlised shells
sand-blasted glass –
treasure to fill ballooned bulges
in my empty canvas backpack some days I gather a comber’s hoard
other times tiny crabs is all white
numerous and dead
Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press. Her first pamphlet is due to be published in 2020. She is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee (2019) and has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, UK (2017).
The afternoon sun frightens us. Where
did this come from, a thing
we can unequivocally call good, a pleasant
phenomenon? We cluster, faces
close to glass. Something is lighter
under-skin. No. Disappoint us,
that safe, familiar way we know
is coming. Why don’t you understand
what we need, which is to absorb
what we have trained ourselves
to absorb, every turbulent tanking?
And so then,
when it sets too soon, we sigh
silky breaths, still as
blood settled down for the night.
Another salted body
clocks in for its shift, more
walkable, if as white.
Was it warm for a minute there?
the moon is asking,
suddenly, but then it sees
we have run out of words
to answer, we are simply pulsing
in lunar light, we are
sending out signals of sadness
from adolescences inside us.
Lauren Bender lives in Burlington, VT. Her work has appeared in IDK Magazine, The Collapsar, Gyroscope Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Yes Poetry, and others. You can find her on twitter @benderpoet.
The End of Nature
I fell asleep to the rat-tat-tat of rain and dreamed I could breathe underwater. The grieving came later, when they cut open the belly of a stranded whale and found coins and plastic water bottles inside. Then I learned there could be such a thing as too much sun. Now I’m wondering what comes next, if we’ll only be able to view nature in assigned locations. You’ll go and sit in a darkened theater, surrounded by dozens of strangers, and when you start to sob, not even half the people there will understand.
Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press.
I’m afraid I’m falling apart, she blurts out
through a moment of silence
the only sound the vibration of the truck
wheels on the road,
hands shaking in time with their tremors.
The seconds pass
building a crescendo to the things I want to say
fragments of silence like
pieces of the shattered coffee mug,
contents pooling on the kitchen floor
where she sent it in a fit of self loathing.
My hand rests lightly on her arm,
sliding gently with the thrumming of the turbulence.
We both pretend not to notice,
turning our faces to hide eyes
filling with unintended tears.
Fear is the defining theme in this new life.
We cling to the woman she once was,
grasping at memories that blur together reaching
for the gaps where there used to be a part of her grabbing
at each other’s fingertips as we slide dangerously to the abyss
eyes locked as we catch each other missing what isn’t there.
When she’s asleep, I clean the shards of blue ceramic from the floor,
fitting them together in my hand as best I can.
I glide into the bedroom like I’ve always belonged among her art
sit on the edge of her bed until she wakes,
show her where the pieces still (mostly) fit.
She looks at it, turning it over in the spaces in her mind.
I’m afraid I’ve fallen apart, she muses.
What We Haven’t Yet Lost
There are some conversations
that go down better with a bottle of wine
like when we talk about entropy
how we started with a sense of order
and moved slowly into disarray
or whenever we mention feelings
or what used to be feelings
Those evenings always mean that something
it’s never about the windows thrown open
in the cleansing
the fresh air and empty rooms
never about the spaces we haven’t filled yet
we’ll walk by the liquor store
maybe mention we need to stop in
but keep walking
we want only water
Rae Rozman is a middle school counselor in Austin, Texas. Her poetry, which has been featured in several literary magazines and anthologies, often explores themes of queer love (romantic and platonic), brain injury, and education. Rae can be found on Instagram sharing poems, book reviews, and pictures of her two rescue bunnies. Follow Rae on Instagram @mistress_of_mnemosyne.