It is mid-term week of summer quarter and the Editor must deal with this and all it entails. We will resume our regular publishing schedule next week. 

Lares |
by Catherine McGuire

Lares. Roman: “Lords” – household ancestor spirits
Once the guiding spirits of each house –
souls risen from ancestral bodies buried
deep in the sacrarium, the altar room –
now even the name is unknown.
Over centuries, our dead were banished
first from house
   then yard
                        then town
backed relentlessly away from the places they protect
deeded the useless soil of surrounding hills.
Is it surprising the once-sacred land feels empty?
Any wonder we can hop like fleas
from town to town,
free to leave our homes
to strangers, and the dead
to manicured graves, their next step after nursing homes?
Professionally managed, expunged as guardians,
the dethroned Lords come to us only in dreams,
holding the fraying thread of our ancestry,
the unacknowledged geas – another word
we have left behind in our blind stumble forward.

Catherine McGuire is a writer/artist with a deep interest in Nature, both human and otherwise. She's had poems published for 3 decades, in publications such as New Verse News, FutureCyclePortland Lights, Fireweed, and on a bus for Poetry In Motion. She has taught workshops around Oregon. Her chapbook, Palimpsests, was published by Uttered Chaos in 2011 and her first full-length book of poetry, Elegy for the 21st Century, will be published by FutureCycle Press in 2016. She has three self-published chapbooks.

The Kingdom |
by Isaac Birchmier

The Castle was a straight and narrow path, like a giant corridor. It had green boxes in its straight and singular hall, and the boxes were filled with various objects and provided a nice place to sleep, and protection from the weather—especially when the rain came.

But the King on many occasions warned the Prince to not spend too long in the green boxes, for every two weeks or so large carriages approached and lifted the green boxes sky high and emptied the padding within the green boxes and rolled off and away, the sound of the whistling wind behind them. And the King warned the Prince that, once, the Court Jester, who went by the name of Lenny, got caught in a green box as a carriage arrived to clean out its padding, and that Lenny had been resting in the green box, and the carriage dropped him headfirst into the jaws of the monster carriage, and he was carried off to the guillotines, never to be seen again. 

The Prince knew this story was true because he was there for Lenny’s funeral, and he saw a printed image of Lenny in the obituaries, surrounded by scrawls of linework written in a foreign tongue. When he asked, the Prince was told by the King that the symbols were of the Mongol language, which had usurped all written languages, after the Great War. 

The King said that once the Great War had happened, the Mongols took over the world, and they made the Prince and the King flee, so the Roula Family had had to find and inhabit a new castle, at a new location, in a new Kingdom, and that there were Mongols all around them, since it was now a Mongol-controlled society. And the King said that even the Queen had turned on the Royal Family, and that she, too, had become a Mongol, since being Mongolian had become fashionable after the Great War. Now all the King was left with was the Prince and the Castle, and he told the Prince that he would one day be King just like him, and usurp his role, as all Princes must do, and the Prince felt like he could cry from happiness.

“The Kingdom is yours,” said the King, as he blessed the Prince thrice and gave him all that he could ask for in life.

“Thanks, Father,” the Prince said, and patted the surly ragged cloak he wore about his shoulders.

“No worries, Son. You must overlook the throne,” said the King to his Prince.

“Yes, Father, I must,” he said, and in his tattered garb walked up the alleyways and made his way into the segments of population who spoke in these manners of clarity, with every syllable pronounced, sounding a whole lot different from the Royal Language they engaged in at the Castle around the bend.

The Prince was walking through the Kingdom when the Banshees screamed.

“The Kingdom is under attack by invaders,” the King exclaimed to his Prince.

"Oh no, Father! What ever shall we do!”

“We must defend against the legion who threatens our castle!”

“Yes, Father! Yes! But how?”

“With our fists clenched, we strike!” said the King.

‘We will defeat the invaders!” sang the Prince.

The invaders came in uniforms of blue and violet. They looked like Mongol invaders, posed with their matching hats and suits of armor made of soft cloth. They approached at immense speeds in carriages of flashing lights. The carriages stopped, and the invaders stepped out and told the King and his Prince to raise their arms into the sky.

“No!” said the King. “We do not raise our arms to the foes! We fight!”

“Yes! Yes!” said the Prince.” And he put up his fists.

The invaders now had blunt swords which they used to fight against the King. The Prince held his fists out, ready to fight, when he saw the King tossed to the ground with a strike of the short-staff, and the Prince cried out No, and his hands were grabbed together and locked at his back, and they threw the King and the Prince in the carriage and the flashing lights blinded him as the carriage, screaming like a Banshee, took them away.

 Isaac Birchmier is a writer from Helena, Montana. He has been featured in a number of publications, including Sidereal Journal, The Oval, theEEEL, 101 Words, among others.

Dust |
by Ananya S Guha

dust shapes 
everyday thinking 
into minutiae 
speckled, dust 
raises pillar of fortitude,
shaking, crumbling 
in grey fear oxen driven
Dust has particular East 
particular West into amorphous 
tongue tied ghosts of beaten 
track. Everywhere. Nowhere. 

Ananya S Guha lives in Shillong, INDIA.

The Funeral of an Ex |
by John Grey

Gone without short dresses and big eyes
on a rainy winter afternoon,
your memory in my head,
the remedy all mourners work with,
my time going on.
yours withering in the chill.

Strangers put you down,
a good soul
amid an American city
while I retreat to my home
to see how well
I can weep for other beings,
years after longing
has reduced itself to inevitability.

I look over my shoulder
as I walk to the car.
What do I expect?
That you will follow me?

But nothing to worry.
The dark has no interest
in what is left of the light.
My footsteps are mine alone,
to crumble on their own time-table.

On the way home,
I wonder where you've really gone.
No real joy there, I expect.
But no cruel debts either.
But what do I know?
You have made yourself the deepest of secrets.

I cruise the streets aggrieved
while hailing the voice
of a wailing songstress
on the radio.
It will have to do
until some old photograph comes along.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Between |
by Eman Bouras

It'll either be by means of explosion, in a car in between where I should be and where I shouldn't-- A crossroads perfect for perfume worded spells and goodbyes to a god in overalls I'm too far away from. A wall or a dip in a road and jump of a car part I never understood, and another wall that doesn't give as much as the other one was supposed to. 

Or by means of everything, him, 
his hands-- simple and gone away, 
around my neck. 

Eman Bouras lives in Florida with her guinea pig and two dogs. She studies Biology, and enjoys spending her weekends outdoors.