Lay plate upon plate,
sling this dream together
with some thin connective tissue,
pull them tight,
round the robin into a ball,
let it fall into your hand
and look, in the slow slow unfurl uncurl,
can you see through?
What tiny heart skips a beat
before it opens,
what tiny legs
brush your flesh?
Elizabeth Joy Levinson teaches and writes on the southwest side of Chicago. She has an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University and an MAT in Biology from Miami University. Her work has appeared in several journals, including Grey Sparrow, Up the Staircase, Apple Valley Review, Hawk and Whippoorwill, LandLocked, and Slipstream. Her first chapbook, As Wild Animals, is available through Dancing Girl Press and her second chapbook, Running Aground, will be available in the fall of 2020.
THE ENDLESS INVENTORY OF HUMAN CRUELTY
In general, it isn’t good to be too close to all the passersby. I wonder what their breath will morph into next or if it’ll just disappear. Every morning of late I’ve been writing down my dreams at the dining room table, employing a unique alphabet I created, scribbles formed by my non-dominant hand. The dreams can be distressingly real – a skull caved in with a brick, a dog set on fire, Jews hanged from lampposts, a mother raped in front of her children. Sometimes I start to sob so loud that everyone else stops yelling and stares at me.
Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.
it’s about time to leave // my thumbs rap against the floor // and I place my sadness in its box before my bed // the kind old shoes and memories are often hidden // the back of the closet is home to everything you forget until 3 am // when sobriety becomes a novelty // tuck sadness in nice and cozy // tripping out the door, I check my handle five times // one // two // three // four // five // five // five // three fives makes certain there’s five // but the water was running to clean my unclean hands // I re-enter and turn the faucet on to turn it off // blink, then open to ensure // check the box isn’t actually scratching at the closet door // attempt to get out // one // two // three // four // five // the door is locked and my keys are turning // the car stutters // but the kitchen window’s ajar // open to close // open to close // the box is now knocking // and the closet door is not strong // it whispers to rap my thumbs // and that five is always five // until it isn’t
one // two // five // three // five // four // five // five // five // I’m outside my apartment, blocks away down a foreign street // my car isn’t in sight // a woman with kind eyes and coffee-breath asks my name // I stutter and gaze at my blood-dirtied hands // five // fully clothed, I’m sitting in my shower // and I can’t stop crying // can’t feel my eyelids // begin to peel them back // gracious of the pain // five // there’s old scars and there’s new scars along my spine // blood caked under chipped nails outlines flesh // five // the door gives // the box is undone // the room is flooding // there’s water up to my chin // and the ringing of my cellphone echoes off the walls // I close my eyes // it’s now time to leave // outside, there’s a tiny robin’s nest // beside my lone patio chair // vacant for months // I can’t see from this angle // but I swear I hear chirping // the sounds of reunion // a chorus of relief
And my partner shifts her gaze towards me. We stand outside
and paint our shadows against the honeyed Georgia sky.
I feel my thumb against her palm; soft and inviting,
like the concave dip sinking the middle of my chest;
the one that echoes feverously late at night,
reminding me that I pocket sadness on a day-to-day basis,
and when it begins to spill out my jeans I kick it under the bed.
My mother used to tell me that it’s a host’s duty to clean
the clutter and present the best, so I tidy the thoughts.
How I’d love to make a home out of comfort, to quit counting
the ways in which I am restless. Early morning sweat dews my forehead,
splinters me awake. Quietly, I breathe and imagine my body expanding
across satin sheets. She lies still on the section of the bed
spilled with moonlight, painted by a healthy glow.
When she wakes, I’ll kiss the corners of her eyes
and attempt to fill my body with something whole.
Sean William Dever is an Atlanta-based poet, educator, and editor with an MFA in Creative Writing and a focus in Poetry from Emerson College. He is a Lecturer of English and Writing Studies at Clayton State University. Sean has recently been published by io Literary Journal, Levee Journal, and Fearsome Critters Literary Magazine among others and was a nominee for 2019’s Best of the Net. Sean is the author of the chapbook, I’ve Been Cancelling Appointments with My Psychiatrist for Two Years Now, published by Swimming with Elephants Publications.
The night you arrive home from your grandmother’s funeral the cat dies. You ask your girlfriend what happened and she says, We found him in the shower, all curled up like he was sleeping. You named him after a punk song by that band you saw together. He wasn’t even your cat. You say, But my grandmother just died, and she says, Well, so did he. You ask to see the body but she says she wrapped it up and put it in a box to bury. His fur is the same color as your hair. You don’t ask again.
L Scully (they/them) is a queer writer and double Capricorn currently based in Madrid. Find them in the ether @LRScully.