This Place and its Internal Song
— a poem by Jeremy Voigt




This place hypnotizes itself each evening
with the making of color—the pink beginning


to grey seems to cup behind all we can see
as a huge hand around a cooling mug of tea. 


Here is something to huddle against.
This must be similar to Keats’ angst,


bedridden and dying in Italy, shaking
bitter lips in those last letters. I love reading


the poems, but the angry, dying voice brotherly
and haunts me. I want to make a grand display,


an “awkward bow,” but feel foolish on my porch. 
It is October, and I’ve turned thirty. Do I adore


Keats’ death-rattle because I’ve lived longer
than he lived, lost in his chambers. My mother


is still drinking even though I’ve sent my letter
with no poem or philosophy, just asking stop. Let her


heed: “we are limited only by our vocabulary;
this gives us universes.” My newest strategy:


attempt such optimism. But the universe is sad,
Stevens wrong, the people are ugly and the world sad.


For Keats, in lines these clouds must be the soul,
and in epistle just light at evening after another stroll. 


Everything does not conspire, but is mostly uniform
in the sacred order of sadness. I’ve seen that pine conform


and fill with light as the teenage boy below pitches
a rock at the squirrel on the trunk. My fingers stitch


a failing screen for my son to hide from deliberate meanness.
No lie comforts, and I can’t make all unfelt, unheard, unseen.


Mother called me ungrateful and liar and cruel.
I’m shucking off the manipulated letter. The artful


crafting, the mother writing my grandfather is dying,
my father wants to meet, everything will be ok, sighing,


even the sky knows your name. My sweet creature,
I’ll call the unit in California where you went to recover


and instead slept in a hotel. The necessary world of pains
and troubles in deadly sweat, murmurs its complaints.


May you also be attended to by a devoted bedside friend,
(those clouds look like rain) sketching your reclined head.


Were we born for this end? The awkward evening sky gives
itself color bowing into a drink of grey where everything lives.



___
The Poet: Jeremy Voigt has a MFA from Bennington College. His work has appeared in PostRoad, Beloit Poetry Journal, Willow Springs, Washington Square, REED Magazine,Talking River Review, Pontoon 10, Poet Lore, and RHINO. His chapbook Neither Rising nor Falling was published by Finishing Line Press fall 2009. He has been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac.

The Artist: Chrystal Berche is a photographer, artist and Writer living in North Central Iowa.

Purple Legs
—an essay by Sarah Newton

I always hated the smell of sunscreen, and the horrible feeling it left on my skin. The sticky yet oily feeling grossed me out to the extent that even when I knew I would be in the sun for hours, I would wear long sleeves. To avoid wearing sunscreen. This approach worked until one summer day when I went kayaking with my family.

            The sky was the type of grey, overcast sky that fakes you out. It makes you believe that the sun isn’t there. It is. The sun is right there. You just can’t see it. That day, I put on my knee length capris. Sturdy. But capris. Half my leg was exposed. My father told me to wear my hiking pants. I said it was too hot for hiking pants. That I would be fine. He rolled his eyes and said, “Suit yourself.” 

            Our expedition started out well. I was in a double kayak with my dad. We made an excellent team. Or he made an excellent kayaker. I just fumbled along. My sister was in her own single kayak, fumbling along far behind; without the power of my dad to propel her forward. By lunch time, my dad and I were sufficiently far ahead, so we pulled into a small nook to wait for her. I watched as she approached. Closer and closer. Closer and closer. And then a strong current came by and swept her out of her kayak. In a blink and you miss it moment, she was out of her kayak and in the water. The kayak was upside down.

            I looked on, shocked. And then promptly burst out laughing. My dad gave me a stern and concerned look. Somehow, my sister ended up back in her kayak. No harm done. Her clothes were soaked. But she paddled up to us smiling. Dad looked relieved.

            We eventually banked, and set out a beautiful picnic. Despite my sister’s topple, everything was going well. I was happy. I hadn’t worked too hard. The scenery was beautiful. And then the pain started. The slight tingling of doom. The start of a sunburn. My legs were bright pink. I knew I was in for a bad burn. It normally took a few hours for a burn to set in. This took 45 minutes from landing. This one was going to hurt. But denial was easy in that moment, and as I could still walk, I said nothing. Eventually, we returned to our cabin.

            My legs were decidedly more red. A deep red. The deep red that causes your father to look worried. And to mutter, “I told you so.” The type of red that indicates you are going to go through hell. The kind of red that involves blood rushing down and making your legs swell. I popped a tylenol. Took a nap. Hoping the pain wouldn’t get worse.

            I woke up to agony and purple legs. The type of purple where you want to dunk your legs in ice water. So that you can feel them again. The type of purple that demands that you stay in bed for the next eternity. That makes you cry just from moving.

            Dad announced we were going to the movie theatre. I was determined to hide my pain. To make up for the fact that I had told my dad that I would be fine. That my legs would not get burned. He knew the second he saw me walk. Or waddle. It was more of a waddle. I told him that it wasn’t that bad. A lie that even he could see through. I walked in second position lumbering backwards and forwards, trying to soothe the pain. But there was no soothing. There was nothing to be done. I was stuck with purple legs.


___
Sarah is a writer/designer/actress living in New York. She writes personal essays, plays, screenplays or anything that fits her flights of fancy. She is a crochet designer with her own crochet line, Puzzled Heart Designs. Follow her everyday thoughts on her blog.

Colour Blind
— a poem by Chelle Viegas





My eyes shielded
With cataracts of Mother’s opinion,
refused to allow my nanny to feed me
With fingers darker than mine,
the steel spoon on my lips
made me wonder
why did I choose cold over warmth?
Mother’s hands though white
Felt like hot tea gone cold
When I needed a re-assuring squeeze
And my whole being ached for my nanny’s
Overwhelming warmth
Like a hobo
On a winter night
Her latent talent in palmistry intrigued me
When Mother had no interest in my future
Grateful, I wanted to return the favour
But as I looked at those hands
I had refused all those years ago
Guilt consumed me like tongues of fire
And I held her palms under the light
As the dust from my eyes blew away
And I wished I had been born colour-blind
Her skin as human as mine
Twinkled like crystals
Her lines as natural as mine
Revealed paths to the depths of her soul
Her veins as green as mine
Only less prominent
Hinted at her undiscovered beauty,
An artist’s muse
Deprived of exposure
She then squeezed my fingers
And granted me the warmth I had longed for
Assuring me
I have a future
And the past was forgiven

___ 


The Poet: Chelle Viegas is the newly-adopted pseudonym of Michelle D’costa. Her Mom recently started calling herself Chelle and she is loving it. Viegas is her Mother’s maiden Chelle is paying reverence to it. 

The Artist:
Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an internationally award-winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature's Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland trust and Postal Heritage  She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010.

Worth Living
— a poem by Amit Parmessur

I pepper local cement with rocksand
and wet and glue the mixture on the
perforated ceiling; it makes it worth living.
I pluck a green banana from the bush
near the basil plant and fill my stomach.
It makes it worth the thorns. I drag
a mint-flavoured fag into my mouth
and cool my garden with rooftop rainwater.
Makes it worth the sight of dog crap.
I ginger up my hands with grassdew and
bear the sight of monkeys fighting.
Listen to the birds communicate
about a sunny Sunday instead of tuning to
the local radio; it might save you
the day. Listen to the mosquitoes
sing and dance in an old can
instead of envying your neighbours
smelling good for the office. You
might see a century. Listen to beggars
on the crossroads instead of lying about
your family tree. Might give you some shade.
And yes, listen to that mad woman climb
the stairs a hundred times instead
of watching photos of Miss Universe.
It might make you find your worth.

____
Amit Parmessur’s poetry has appeared in more than 120 literary magazines. Nominated for the Pushcart Award and Best of the Web, his book on blog Lord Shiva and other poems can also be found at The Camel Saloon. Hailing from Mauritius, he currently edits the Rainbow Journal and also writes in Creole and French. Sometimes he just wants to give it up all and become a billionaire.

When I Am Gone
— a poem Sayantan Dasgupta


If the call that makes you smile will stop.

                                                                  If no one utters your name like a prayer.

If no one holds your hand when it's cold.

                                                                  Then you will know that I am gone.


If you feel down in this violent world.

                                                             If my voice stops melting your angel's heart.

If no one helps you reaching the shore.

                                                              Then forgive me, because I am no more.


If I can't light up your eyes anymore.

                                                            If the blindness of pain surrounds you.

If no one sings you your favorite song.

                                                              Then open your heart, even if I'm gone.


Then you write your story with my tears,

                                                                 Then you hold my memory like a broken glass.

Then you break the darkness and bring the dawn.

                                                                 Then you create the history, even when I'm gone.


____

Sayantan Dasgupta is from Kolkata, West Bengal, India. He holds a Bachelors degree in English Literature from the University of Calcutta. He is currently pursuing his Master's degree in Linguistics from the same university. He writes poems, essays and short stories in both his Mothertounge Bengali and English.

Cannon Fodder
— a poem by Raymond Thomas

Nineteen guys died twice


          The second time around

          As practiced whores in death

          We saw them go down in red flames

          And thousands died with them

          We know the nineteen names

          And the counted thousands all have names


          The first time around

          The nineteen virgin deaths did not disturb us

          Perhaps they went down one by one

          More likely nameless thousands fell with them,

And perish daily, uncounted

          The walking dead, waiting to die again


          Beyond rescue them or us

          They cannon fodder in a field of fire

          Us the sickly sweet smell of death twice around


          To die first for hate or hurt

          And then again in the rocket’s red glare

          To be meticulously counted

And gloriously mourned


Yeah, nineteen guys died twice.

At least! We saw it only once




___
Raymond Thomas was born in Guyana. He received his PhD in Chemistry at Texas A&M and now works in industry. He resides in Lockport, NY where he enjoys the four seasons, writes short stories, and poetry.

Dante's Water Park
— a poem by J. Alan Nelson


On a record hot day,
before we know the term global warming,
before Julia speaks English
I take her to the water park.
She floats the Lazy River
round and again.
Words of Russian glee gush
as we drift in dilated time,
scrummed tight with old grandparents
with young grandchildren.
The water holds shape
as a fixed wave of warm phlegm
compressed among the herd of worn bodies
that wander about the circle.
I abandon hope,
choose the conduit
with the most eye-popping graphics
bathe in the dark energy of life
enter Hell’s slick gate
into tautology
a fallen one
on a fallen world
rewarded like a saint
covered in holy spittle.


____
The Poet:  J. Alan Nelson is a writer and a lawyer.  He has essays, stories, epistles and poetry published or forthcoming in the following: Convergence, International Poetry Review, California Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Adirondack Review, Red Cedar Review, Identity Theory, Hawai’i Review, Kennesaw Review, Driftwood Review, Ken*Again, Haggard and Halloo, Review Americana, South Carolina Review, Pegasus Review, Red Cedar Review, Fulcrum, Connecticut River Review, Blue Fifth Review, Chiron Review, SNReview, American Scholar and Ship of Fools.

The Artist: Brett Stout is an artist and writer. He is a high school dropout and former construction worker turned college graduate and Paramedic. He creates art while mainly hung-over from a small cramped apartment in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Bathroom Tanka
—a poem by Virginie Colline

Four in the afternoon
fourteen little suns
through the bathroom's window panes
but it remains in the same nook
the shadow of your doubt


____

Virginie Colline lives and writes in Paris. Her poems have appeared in The Scrambler, Bakwa Magazine, In Other Words: Mérida, The Red Ceilings, The Applicant, Certain Circuits, The Fat City Review, Blue Skies Poetry, Literary Juice, Silver Birch Press, The Bangalore Review, Hothouse Magazine, Poems Underwater, Creative Thresholds, Turk's Head Review, Subliminal Interiors, and Japanorama, amongst others. 

a whopper
—fiction by Chelsea Patey

we are maybe an hour outside san francisco and you are in the lineup for burger king and it is your first time. jean francois tells you to get a whopper and matthew tells you to get a whopper but you get a chicken wrap, later wishing you had instead gotten a whopper. we eat slowly on the asphalt and you try to explain where you are from and why you have never eaten a whopper before. they have trouble comprehending isolation and you have trouble comprehending their trouble comprehending. here you wonder if anyone knows loneliness like you know loneliness. 



  
____

Chelsea Patey: newfoundland, slowly/deliberately