It once distilled
Without we wilted,
Stiff and stilted.
With sip and tipple, soon we felt it,
Inhibitions eased and melted.
We staggered to a blotto stand and
Bachannaled with mad abandon.
Fledgling cads and hedonists
Joined forces with the gluttonists,
And all caroused and rebel-roused
To choruses of shrieks and howls.
With revelry came lechery
And doubled-over retchery,
Where every little coy flirtation
Gave way to joyful fornication.
For reasons not so well-defined,
That joie de vivre was left behind.
The image lingers,
Fading to a
Steven E. Clayman is professor of sociology at UCLA. He studies language use in everyday life, and also writes poetry which has appeared in Lighten Up Online, Light, Asses of Parnassus, and Philosophy Now. His website is https://clayman.scholar.ss.ucla.edu.
Stage Door Serenade
“Create a past that belongs to your character. I don’t want you
to be stuck with your own life. It’s too little.” —Stella Adler
I’m my best self in someone else’s.
Zipped into dresses cherished by women
I’ll never know. Sweat and perfume linger in their silk,
remnants of lovers and ghosts.
Moving across wooden boards, light trailing,
laughing, kissing, begging, grieving, singing.
Unbutton my chest, call up sorcery, morph
into someone who resembles us all.
The unripe character softens with her audience,
transcends word to flesh.
I loan her my voice, face, body. She can
have them. She finds miracles behind curtains.
Soon my head turns at her name.
I disappear for a time, return
clutching silken threads. Followspots click
from balconies. I drink their heat.
Dana Kinsey is an actor and teacher published in Writers Resist, Drunk Monkeys, On the Seawall, Sledgehammer Lit, West Trestle Review, Ariel Chart, and more. Her chapbook, Mixtape Venus, is published by I. Giraffe Press. Visit her website at wordsbyDK.com.
The Laughing God Doesn’t Know What to Tell You
no one asks for world peace.
the man ends up with a twelve-inch pianist.
joke as repetition: funny-sad,
not funny-ha-ha. like news of war,
news of no news on the front that looms
like a cratered Xanadu. we have this genie,
see, & each time we let it out: chaos.
we’re reliable beasts with bombs on our backs.
afraid? the laughing god doesn’t know what to tell you.
comedy & tragedy both require one
imprudent human gaff to turn the plot.
Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, including Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021), and The Prisoners. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia.
I’ve tried Tide, All, and Arm & Hammer
But nothing’s been washing out these
Leaving me blues
The sheets are 800 thread count
Solid Egyptian cotton
But the fiber’s gone to pieces
Rinsed free of your touch
Mama always said you gottta change sheets regular
Wash ’em good and long in hot water
On account of those skin eating things
But now all I got is this tumbling death song
Spinning circles around
My fresh dried eyes
“What? No, Ma. He’s working late!”
So late the clock’s long broke . . .
Ma’s losing memories
And the pup’s peed on the rug
I got nothing, but reminiscing
And my feet in your oversized house shoes
But I’mma hang on to these first sheets we sullied
Though they’re ruined now
With the smell of lavender
Monique S. Simón writes poems to quiet the voices that disturb her sleep with their stories. She is cultivating a formal garden to offer them a retreat.
Hell’s sakes what am I to do with you?
Married fifty odd years and you still can’t hear me properly.
I done told you fifty times! When it comes time for me to
meet my maker . . .
I don’t want no damn preacher man, no muddling drugs,
and no suffering crying women near my bed. Please.
Just play me tapes with funny jokes.
That’s all I ask.
I want to die laughing.
For the last time.
Paul Kindlon has published 50 literary works including one-act plays, aphorisms, fiction, and poetry. After having graduated with a PhD in Russian literature and Philosophy, he taught Humanities for 23 years in Moscow, Russia. He now resides in Buffalo, New York.
From her knees, she fits her turning
body in the recess — three feet high,
two feet deep and wide — in the brick wall
of her parents’ basement.
Folding her legs, she becomes invisible,
not that she wasn’t already.
The vault affords her a vantage
from which to decipher.
A block of wood lies on the coffee table, five letters
carved into the block, all caps, the word
exclamatory and imperative: J E S U S
doesn’t speak to her.
Her parents don’t realize this because they never asked
and she learned to survive among the unseen and the unheard,
hiding her voice, as well as her body,
in the alcove of the wall.
The raised surfaces of the plaque —
the spaces before and after the letters — contain
a secret message, though,
as easy to miss as a girl seated in a cave.
Seven letters, all lowercase, save for the I’s,
whisper another name for god: r I b n I b n
speaks to her of the sanctity of the uncounted,
the sovereignty of the self.
Crawling out of the cavern, she pictures herself rushing upstairs,
eyes wild, wielding the plaque like a sword,
proclaiming the good news. She might just do it, too,
if she thought anyone would notice.
Bob Kirkley serves as a high school English teacher in the Florida Keys. He has published fiction in Adelaide Literary Magazine and poetry in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review, and Anti-Heroin Chic. He can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/bob.kirkley.7/.
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