13 by Jane Zwart

13

A contractor does not build a tall hotel,
then Jenga from the stack of floors
the layer after twelve. This fact shocks no one.
Yet superstitious travelers blithely rest
their heads in fourteenth-story suites. Little
is more literal than the magical thinker’s mind.
Or more exacting: my great-aunt refused
the extra bun in the baker’s generous dozen.
I have brought back your Iscariot roll, she told
the kid behind the till—and that woman loved
both bread and thrift. Some of the credulous
are like that, though; raised on wrath, they think
that the only luck must be lightning.

*

Jane Zwart’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines.

Crayons by Richard Bloom

Crayons

Maples in the yard, sycamores in the
fields, elms on the way to work.
Yellow and red and orange and brown,
scarlet and blue-green side by side,
like in a box of crayons.
As we climb the Alleghenies,
the car strains to reach the look-out,
where we can see, veiled by hills and trees,
a hundred miles of towns and cities.
At the local diner,
the children connect the dots
and draw their own notion of Autumn.
Mountains full of bare limbs, skeletons.
Some hold on to what they’ve got,
and keep their beauty
a little longer.
We want everything to last
a little longer.
Like a box of crayons.
Broken, they work.

*

Richard Bloom has worked as an advertising creative, a seller of men’s suits, a caregiver, and a public school substitute teacher. He has taught children as young as five how to write poetry. His poems have appeared in various literary magazines, including ONE ART and FEED. Home is New York, where he has been involved for several years assisting in the rehabilitation of injured birds.

Two Poems by Sakina Qazi

When I Was Nine, I Craved an Orange

Oranges grew sparsely
and far from us. I knew someone
with tired joints and argent hair
who went miles
through dust
for a bag. A mild man, friend
of my father. His voice was soft,
a lake in the wildwood clearing
where horses drink, gentle
wavelets rolling in
a ballet of water.

He overheard me on Wednesday and
on Thursday in the bated daylight
he left a nosegay of bright citrus,
the centerpiece on our dining table.
I feasted on the miracle fruit
for days, shearing the rind
from the flesh, in savagery.
Adam must have clawed at the apple
with the same frantic violence.

He who brought the oranges,
friend of my father,
was always gentle. Too gentle lungs
bent beneath some
fit of force one winter. Like
weeping willows, bowed.
Now, when I bite into
a clementine and the juice
clings to my throat, the
feral bliss is gone.

*

Sleepless

I guard twilight
weakly

Two birds recite
their opera

A congress of deer
gathers

Cloud nectar
thickens in the dark

And like every night
I hold the moon still

But tonight it trembles
in my grasp

*

Sakina Qazi is a senior at the University of Miami. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Amethyst Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Wilder Things Magazine, Morning Fruit Magazine, and Nymphs Literary Journal.

When I’m Gone by W. D. Ehrhart

When I’m Gone

          “When I’m gone, I hope I live in the low lying fog that
          blankets the tops of the little mountains around here in
          the mornings.”
                         —Arle Bielanko

Or maybe in among the leaves of those
magnificent old trees you love so much.
Wouldn’t that be something? Just a whisper,
but enough to let you know I haven’t
really gone so far away, and I still
love you even now, even forever.

So let me be a whisper in the trees,
a gossamer wisp of fog, a twinkling
star in the heavens of your heart
to guide you through the years ahead
until we’re both where we belong,
arm in arm, out there in the cosmos.

*

W. D. Ehrhart is an ex-Marine sergeant and veteran of the American War in Vietnam. His latest book is Thank You for Your Service: Collected Poems, McFarland & Company.

On Your Birthday by Abby E. Murray

On Your Birthday

When it isn’t a milestone
but some odd number
between multiples of ten,
when it falls on a Tuesday
and you celebrate by eating
yogurt alone at the sink
or cooking for those
who ought to feed you,
when it disguises itself
as any cold, damp day
and arrives like junk mail,
unconcerned with
the hundreds of thousands
of hours you’ve survived
on a temperamental planet
with a temperamental species,
when the anniversary of you
looks nothing like a gift
and brings you only
the absence of wonder,
find the nearest bit of light
in the room. Any scrap
will do, that sliver pressed
beneath the bathroom door,
maybe, or the quarter-sized
warmth in the palm of your hand
when you stand just so
at the kitchen window at noon—
it needn’t be bright or even
visible to seem impossible,
waves of energy through
nothingness, since nothingness
itself is a kind of space reserved
for brilliance. All this tiny shine,
the light you can reach
right now, is for you, from me,
because I say so. Take it.
What better way to accept a gift
than with empty hands?
Doesn’t it seem to blush
deeper when you know it is yours?
On your almost forgotten birthday,
I claim all that glows or flares
right here for you. It’s outrageous,
I know, but who’s to stop me?
Let’s get drunk on rights
no one suspected we’d claim.
Who will tell you a streetlamp’s gleam
on the hood of a neighbor’s Honda
can’t be yours? Nobody. So it is.
Enjoy it, secretly if you want,
and notice you’ve been noticed,
know somebody loves you
the way daylight loves
a windowpane, consistently,
the way a yellow lamp loves
an otherwise darkened room.

*

Abby E. Murray is the editor of Collateral, a literary journal concerned with the impact of violent conflict and military service beyond the combat zone. She teaches rhetoric in military strategy to Army War College fellows at the University of Washington. After serving as poet laureate for the city of Tacoma, Washington, she recently (and temporarily) relocated to Washington DC.

ONE ART’s Best of the Net nominations

ONE ART is pleased to announce this year’s Best of the Net nominations!

Eligible poems were published between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. As a poetry journal, we had the opportunity to nominate six poems.

The nominated poems (in no particular order) are as follows:

Ona Gritz – Dear Advice Columnist
CL Bledsoe – Working from Home
Whitney Hudak – ISLAMORADA
Donna Spruijt-Metz – Sarah Returns to Me as a 100% Organic Cotton Round
Kaitlyn Spees – Bloodmeal
Claire Taylor – Here Lies a Woman

Thank you for these poems!

On Visiting My Psychologist by Jason Gordy Walker

On Visiting My Psychologist

“I’m simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?”
— Emil Cioran

The man inside my head preferred me dead.
I thought I would never write poetry again.

My dishes piled up like regrets in the sink.
I had nowhere to turn for love or help—

all my friends were workaholics or dead.
Instead of calling them, I smoked and wrote

an obituary for myself. What could I say?
The frost blinding my windows never went away—

day after day there was nothing but snow. I tended
to leave my stuffy home, to walk alone while I kidded

myself about such things. Hope felt like a ghost
my years would never know. I’m sorry

how I never called you back, those days you called
and called. I felt fine. My hands, dry and cracked,

flipped pages for hours. The birds packed
the dark green trees. And somehow,

somehow the sun was brighter, almost enthralled.

*

Jason Gordy Walker (he/him/his) has published poems in Broad River Review, Cellpoems, Confrontation, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Measure, One Art, Poetry South, Think, and other journals; his book reviews and interviews have appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, Newpages, Subtropics, and the Dos Madres Press Blog. A recipient of scholarships from The New York State Summer Writers Institute, Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference, and The West Chester University Poetry Conference, Walker is an MFA student at the University of Florida.

How Lip Balm was Invented by Lauren Zhu

How Lip Balm was Invented

Shards of plastic splinter
in a broken pile underneath
my nightstand. When,
I ask, did plastic
cleave so fragile? These
shards reel like dust in the
corners of my room.

I march along burning asphalt, bare footed
and a pompous church hat
atop my head. My feet dyed
with black ink and
decomposing things.

Tomorrow, my fingers blush glinting piano keys with sweat.

Tomorrow, I wash my body of scabs and grit until my skin and memory are buffed smooth.

Tomorrow, I tongue sweet ointment that smells of old lavender.

I loosen the knot of hair that weighs
my head back. This is the moment
of silence before the dogs begin
to wail and this house
begins to shake. I will ask

my diary if my skin
is enough. She hands me
a pot of lip balm and
tells me to heal.

*

Lauren Zhu is a rising senior at Shaker High School. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and National Council of Teachers of English; her poetry is forthcoming in Eunoia Review. She reads for Polyphony Lit as an Executive Editor.

Two Poems by Merie Kirby

Notes on geography

We never spoke of weather
in California except in fire season,
hot Santa Ana winds blowing. Or to call
each other outside to see heat lightning
stippling the sky off towards the mountains,
so far away we never heard thunder.
Rain came without fanfare, seasons
marked by subtle shifts in gardens.

Here in North Dakota, we would never
just say that we opened the backdoor to hear
robins singing. We want you to know
it is mid-April, another snowstorm is arriving
just after noon; at 10am it is 29 degrees,
the sun spring-weak but shining, and
after months of only hearing crows,
in the bare-limbed elm nine robins
faced east and sang.

*

What I share with the crocodile

My own toothed mouth
the safest place
for my child. I file
each tooth with data
& statistics, numbers
sharper than diamonds.
I’ve learned
how to speak
with my mouth full.
To offer refuge
is to go about
with my mouth
always open.

*

Merie Kirby grew up in California and now lives in North Dakota. She teaches at the University of North Dakota. She is the author of two chapbooks, The Dog Runs On and The Thumbelina Poems. Her poems have been published in Mom Egg Review, Rogue Agent, Orange Blossom Review, FERAL, Strange Horizons, and other journals. You can find her online at http://www.meriekirby.com.

Learning to Dress Myself by Sierra Golden

Learning to Dress Myself

Touch the fondue pot, antique lamp,
jean jacket, platform wedge-heeled
sandals, pencil skirt, China teacup—

my fingers develop a light film—
sweat or dirt or whatever it is
that makes our things ours.

I jockey through the crowd. Race,
wait with a blue basket
at the dressing rooms. Breathe.

Check for stains, loose threads, split
seams, holes, tears, elbows or knees
worn bare, lost buttons, fallen hems.

I remember the bus ride. The moment
my head turned to look at Luly Yang’s
window: silk the color of late spring.

Let my body sing. Let my clavicle
jump from a plain v-neck tee. My hair
curl itself into a good French twist.

Oh may I be as crafty as Luly, here
in Goodwill. May I set my body ablaze,
may I buy the royal purple dress:

strapless lace bodice, sweetheart neckline,
décolletage, bow as big as my face,
satin skirt frothy with tulle.

I wear it twice. Once in suede pumps
with leather rosettes, a velvet handbag.
Man I’m supposed to marry but won’t

saying he could only like the dress more
if it were on the floor—and once
when the man I’m forbidden to love

photographs me amongst bunkers and dead
grass, wearing thick-soled brown rubber boots,
my skin goose-pimpled with cold, the wind.

The purple skirt floating up, galloping like a flag.

*

Sierra Golden graduated with an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. Her debut collection The Slow Art was published by Bear Star Press and was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Golden’s poems appear in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Permafrost, and Ploughshares.