It is a cool May evening
The magnolias on Marlborough
Street are blooming. I am coming to you
The pink flowers, the white flowers
The pink-and-white flowers are
sturdy amid the snow. And I am coming to you
How it can snow and bloom at the same
time on Marlborough Street this May
evening I cannot explain but I am coming to you
Pinkness is rising through whiteness
in your face in my mind’s eye
As whiteness descends into pinkness
while I walk these slippery bricks
as I come to you thinking of you
coldness and whiteness and pinkness
and flowers and snow and magnolias
are all coming at once through
me walking and you waiting beyond
stone and wrought iron and glass and stairs
as I walk these blocks these moments
on Marlborough Street
amid blooming magnolias and snow
It is blooming It is snowing
It is blooming and snowing on Marlborough Street
and I am coming to you
Pushcart Prize nominee and National Poetry Series finalist Paula Bonnell has published poems in APR, The Hudson Review, Rattle, The Women’s Review of Books, etc., and in Canada, the U.K., India, and Australia, and in four collections: Airs & Voices, Ciardi prize book (2008), Message (1999), and two chapbooks: Before the Alphabet (2013) and tales retold (2017). Awards: from the New England Poetry Club and Albert Goldbarth’s selecting “Eurydice” for a Poet Lore narrative-poetry publication prize. Find her online at paulabonnell.net and Twitter @paulabonnell1.
I noticed a crow perched on top of a streetlight with a heavy lean. The crow fluttered down and came to a stuttered stop on the sidewalk below. That is when I noticed it had one leg. It seemed to be managing well without the other, but I couldn’t help wondering how it had been lost. The one-legged crow has stuck with me for days on end now.
I need to hear every wrong thing anyone has ever done. I want to hear all the bad things. I want to bring them inside of my body. Tell me who you slept with on that cold December night when the sheets of ice made it impossible for you to leave. Tell me whose heart you broke, and how when they cried outside your door for hours you blared Metallica and took a steaming hot shower so you didn’t have to hear the way they gulped your name. Let me hear the story about what you stole when no one was looking, what you kept down inside when you knew you needed to let go, and if your name runs black like spilled oil when you imagine it in your dreams.
A couple days later my yard filled with crows. They sifted through the crimson, neon yellow, and dark orange leaves. I got up close to the window and watched them all in fascination. Some were up on the fences, others sat in trees or on power lines. The ones up high made cajoling noises as if cheering the leaf-sifters on. I looked for my one-legged crow, but she was nowhere to be found.
I started phase two of my treatment for small intestine bacteria overgrowth yesterday. I spent all night on the edge of a panic attack. My legs thrashed the way they did that week I came off oxy; by the time I finally slept, they were heavy, they had sprouted roots and staked me to the bed. I am not sure why the idea of three more months of treatment is catching me up so much. My other disorders are much more long-winded. They are for keeps. At least there are some things that can’t be stolen.
You’d think I’d be used to walking with only one leg now, but when I try to land, I don’t always land on my feet. The bright side to not sleeping is that I don’t dream, but that also means, sadly, I do not dream. How am I supposed to properly question everything I know if I don’t wake up in the morning from a world inside-out of my own? Where else will I see the faces of those I’ve left behind?
It is almost the end of November and nearly every tree is bare. It happened so fast; I am not even sure if it is real. My house is dark at all hours of the day, except for the holiday lights I strung up early—I needed something cheery and bright. When I close my eyes, I see the one-legged crow. She pecks the eyes out of her lover’s face. It is the only way to ensure he won’t see. How else can she make love to a man that isn’t as broken as she?
Shilo Niziolek is an Oregon based writer and a candidate for an MFA with New England College. Her work has appeared in Porter House Review, Broad River Review, SLAB, CLR, and Oregon Humanities among others, and is forthcoming in HerStry. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @shiloniziolek .
Burning Yellow Hares
My first love was a rabbit. There was no internet back then to look up how to know if your bunny is a boy or a girl? so we respected its right to privacy and named it Chata. I would cradle Chata in the crook of my right arm, but one night, we found Chata frozen, dead. I cried—it felt like the right thing to do. It was the first rabbit my brother buried on the side of our house, but I never knew where and I never saw its ghost.
I remember two rabbits with low hanging donkey ears, but we kept them in the same cage, until the bigger one with black spots began to bite pieces off the little one, fur still attached to skin. My mom would try to clean the cage, but the big one would hiss at her. One day, I caught the bigger one attacking the little one. When I pushed the fat one away with my foot, it growled at me, scratched the leg of my pants. I don’t think we ever named them. Mom gave them away; later on, she told me the guy she gave them to made soups out of them.
Then there was Bob: gray, white, and fluffy, would behave like a dog and wait for me after school, meet me at the door, but my mom fed Bob a platter of broccoli—Bob died of dysentery. We buried Bob with the rest of our pets, but I don’t know where. My brother claims to have been the grave digger. Once again, his memory isn’t clear; all he remembers is the Taco Bell he had afterwards. Mom tried to fool me with another rabbit named Trouble. It injured itself, had a widening gyre in its left eye. We buried Trouble too, or maybe we gave it away, I don’t remember. Maybe I never really loved them at all.
Born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles, Salomon Vertiz has been attending community college for more than a decade with only a vague Skills Certificate to show for it. He claims to be a musician but that’s highly debatable. He has also self-published zines, is nearsighted, and works part time at a credit union. Salomon still lives in Southeast Los Angeles.
The Neverending Story
If you drop a feather in
a lake of tears, the downy barbs
around the base will disappear
tracelessly. It’s only when
the feather’s bulk is threatened that
the vanes, for drama, fizz, releasing
vapors, and the whole becomes
a dancing, pleading organism,
objecting with a hiss, as if
it thinks it should be spared. The final
part to go (it liquefies
before it boils, so that you might
observe, briefly, a whitish skin
bobbing) is the central shaft,
whose dematerialization (from
tip to quill) produces more
persistent gasses, with a scent
too harsh to clear. It will follow you home.
Melissa Tuckman teaches in the English Department at Rowan University. She lives in Philadelphia. Follow her on Twitter: @MelissaTuckman.