ACE BOGGESS is an author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016). His fourth poetry collection, I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.
Advice for Saying Hello
KELLY KING WALDEN blogs at kellylogos.net, which is also her Twitter handle (without the net:) She has raised children (4, one from Ethiopia) and mentors teens and college students. She created an ACT Prep business, which she runs, and writes on the side for various online magazines and a local magazine. She has only published one poem, at Plough Quarterly. She has a Master’s in English and has taught school and college in the past.
Steve Werkmeister is an English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. He was born and raised in Nebraska and now resides in Olathe, Kansas, with his family. His first poetry collection, The Unauthorized Autobiography: Composed of Fragments, Distortions, Mythologies & Lies (PunksWritePoems Press), was published in fall 2016. He has a literature-focused blog at https://stevesofgrass.wordpress.com/, and you can find him on Twitter @SteveWerkmyster.
When I was a kid,
every old Mexican I knew
claimed their family was
really from Spain,
had secret Jewish blood,
or was part Gypsy,
the obvious aboriginal roots.
It puzzled me, literally.
I understand why no one
wants to say my family
was shit on by the Aztecs,
& then the Spanish,
& then the French,
& then Americans.
No one wants to say
my family got so used to it,
we crossed the border
to get shit on here.
Everyone wants to be
the child Arthur pulling
sword from stone,
the baby in the manger,
the prince, not the pauper.
But I didn’t fit that, either,
being half & half, marginal
even among the marginals.
So here I am, just what
you see: a not-quite Mexican
writing, a not-quite German
writing, a not-quite American
writing, content to handle my
words like berries, to
tend most tenderly
my lines like rows, to spend
millennia crafting poems
just like the land that wrought me.
Benjamin Schmitt is the Best Book Award and Pushcart nominated author of two books, Dinner Table Refuge (PunksWritePoemsPress, 2015) and The global conspiracy to get you in bed (Kelsay Books, 2013). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sakura Review, Hobart, Grist, The Columbia Review, Two Thirds North, and elsewhere. You can read his scary stories for kids in the Amazon Rapids app. He lives with his wife and daughter in Seattle where he also reviews books, curates a reading series, and teaches workshops to people of all ages.
Tonight you asked me
how a kid could just go bad
I told you about standing
at the magazine rack when I was twelve
pretending to read Auto Trader
while stuffing Playboys and cigarette cartons
down my pants to sell at a discount
in the halls of my Christian school
The soil can accept
the roots of a tree or the roots
can accept new soil
it doesn’t matter so much as the growth
roots and soil are familiar
and grow like the poem
spreading branches through the margins
of notebooks into computer hard drives
and then maybe even into the lap
of someone I will only curtly brush with words
But you kept on asking me
why only some grow
and others do not
and what they will
eventually grow into
Let’s hope our daughter never takes
thirty pills of Dramamine at once
going five miles an hour on the interstate
as a dog criticizes her driving
from the passenger seat
Sometimes the flashlights of adulthood
shine in childhood windows
police plant drugs on orphans
and take them away again
teenage Abrahams hold
stillborn Isaacs in courtrooms
handcuffs bark on the wrists of star athletes
young prostitutes commit suicide
in plaster casts of Taylor Swift songs
In darker years I learned
how to make a burrito in a towel
with Fritos and ramen noodles
while crackheads joked about raping me
somehow I loved you then
and felt you in the linoleum
ten years before we met
maybe the crimes hollowed me out
to hold the rainbow bones of your laughter
I guess what I’m trying to say is that
maybe bad kids grow beautiful loss
Erin Slaughter is editor and co-founder of literary journal The Hunger, and the author of two poetry chapbooks: GIRLFIRE (dancing girl press, 2018) and Elegy for the Body(Slash Pine Press, 2017). You can find her writing in Prairie Schooner, Passages North, F(r)iction, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Originally from north Texas, she is pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University. Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from New Rivers Press in 2019.
Self-Portrait as Chicken Dinner
She is a flocked hen going further
west. Like a rucksack slung
over the shoulder in an old
movie, what she contains is less
important than the visual.
When did she become afraid
of her own foolish cluck and scrape
away from the claw-footed earth?
For home is not a blank thing
that wanders. For shelter
is a wooden stake
through the heart.
And always that dead
ghost glazes her skin, thin
film ruddying feathers.
She names it love and gives up
on soap or articulating hurt.
Catalog her contents, blueprint for slicing
open: the cute, crumpled gizzard.
The menagerie of howls caged up
in her heart. When she is hollowed
like the animal ribs of a hundred
it’s the handles that pierce
corn from either side to keep it
in place. All we cannot bear
to notice as the cob collapses
shucks and lifts its yellow,
brittle prayer to a hall of teething
mirrors. To a hallway of mirroring teeth.
Josef Krebs has a chapbook published by Etched Press and his poetry also appears in Agenda, the Bicycle Review, Calliope, Mouse Tales Press, The Corner Club Press, The FictionWeek Literary Review, Burningword Literary Journal, the Aurorean, Inscape, Crack the Spine, The Cape Rock, Carcinogenic Poetry, The Bangalore Review, 521magazine, Organs of Vision and Speech, Tacenda, Former People, The Chaffey Review, The Bohemian, and The Cats Meow. A short story has been published in blazeVOX. He’s written three novels and five screenplays. His film was successfully screened at Santa Cruz and Short Film Corner of Cannes film festivals.
Here are three poems by Josef Krebs. We hope you find them as engaging and dynamic as we did.
And tremors that begin in your hand
And spread to the city
Are no longer a factor in the war that followed
The turmoil a mere residue now of unforgotten dreams
And ideological stubbornness
The eyes that saw no longer hesitate to witness
But the images drip away barely burning into the soul anymore
As if taste buds had died along with retinal ganglion cells
In order to protect the no longer
And the no longer innocent
As the thesis of existence inoculates us to our last departure
I rapture over past
Memories of other
That no longer is
As if a moment had passed
A droplet reabsorbed into the collision between water and sky
That might come around and around
As distance becomes foreshortened into thesis and antithesis
With all lost from the let go get go
In order that a new race might emerge
Distance accounts for half the effect of inconclusive adaptability
As direct dialectic deception gives the perception of equality of opposites
When the balance is all off
And one should make a stand for something however simple and multilayered if not multi-angled
Or is all just perception and necessity of the moment
With no tense balance possible
Beyond the momentary interaction with those you love too much
The machine I call myself.
The mechanism known as me.
The clock or timer that I am.
Running down and always was.
Music in a garbage truck’s
Thud of a dumpster in the morning,
Or the way another wakes me,
Makes far better matter to consider.