[junk food] by Nicole Caruso Garcia

[junk food]

junk food
in the vending machine tray
a dead mouse

*

Nicole Caruso Garcia is the author of Oxblood (Able Muse Press, 2022), which was named a finalist for the Able Muse Book Award and the Richard Wilbur Award for Poetry. Her work appears in Best New Poets 2021, DIAGRAM, Crab Orchard Review, Light, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, The Orchards, PANK, Plume, The Raintown Review, Rattle, RHINO, Sonora Review, Spillway, and Tupelo Quarterly. She serves as Associate Poetry Editor at Able Muse and an Advisory Board member at Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference. Visit her at nicolecarusogarcia.com.

Why We Need New Year’s Day and the Passage of Seasons by Daniel Simpson

Why We Need New Year’s Day and the Passage of Seasons

Because we are iron in a smithy world
which heats and hammers us beyond self-recognition,
leaving us slow to learn renewal,
too grumpy or fogged most mornings
to notice that our hearts still surge blood
to every point along the body’s map,
and that our minds are still what computers emulate.

After all, even monks with no other life
cannot harness themselves to awareness every second.
And yet, a garbage collector I know
carries his life like a diamond,
and an exhausted mother
immersed in four-child babble all day
hitches her mind to a book each night,
if only for five minutes
before she careens into sleep.

Praise, then, to the policeman who paints portraits,
and to the bank teller who keeps a journal.
Praise to the thwarted shop steward who keeps
his standing appointment to play catch with his child.
Praise to the heartbroken social worker who subscribes to the symphony.
Praise to the math teacher who photographs birds,
and to the roofer who, hoping for hope,
believes that, next year, his team will do better.

Praise the toddler and the hospice-dweller
as they stumble in new passages.
Praise all who breathe.
Praise all who once breathed and now nourish the ground.
Praise all whose stories have already been written,
and all those who still have at least one more chance.
(“Seventy time seven,” says Jesus,
are the chances we each should have.)

Let the fireman remember his own life as he chops with the axe.
Let neither the minister neglect his wife,
nor the doctor her husband.
Let none of us simply swallow our lives whole.
But if the minister, the doctor, and we should fail,
let us have new years and fresh seasons.
Let us have seventy times seven chances.

*

In 2017, Daniel Simpson and his wife, Ona Gritz, collaborated on two books, co-authoring Border Songs: A Conversation in Poems and co-editing More Challenges for the Delusional, an anthology of prompts, prose, and poetry. His first collection of poems, School for the Blind came out in 2014. The New York Times and numerous poetry magazines have printed his work. The recipient of a Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowship, he tends a blog at www.insidetheinvisible.wordpress.com.

Top 25 Most Read ONE ART Publications of 2021

#1

On The Day After You Left This World

by Heather Swan

#2

Three Poems

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

#3

Revision Lesson

by Erin Murphy

#4

Five Poems

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

#5

At The Nursing Home

by Gary Metras

#6

Two Poems

by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

#7

Two Poems

by Donna Hilbert

#8

There should always be pie in a poem,

by Lailah Shima

#9

Two Poems

by J.C. Todd

#10

Self-Care

by James Crews

#11

February, 2021

by Donna Hilbert

#12

Three Poems

by Heidi Seaborn

#13

5 untitled poems [from] The Survivor

by Jenn Koiter

#14

Chiaroscuro

by Nathaniel Gutman

#15

The Doctrine of the Kite

by Melody Wilson

#16

Two Poems

by Donna Hilbert

#17

Two Poems

by William Logan

#18

Three Poems

by Aaron Smith

#19

Two Poems

by Betsy Mars

#20

December Again

by Ona Gritz

#21

Two Poems

by Betsy Mars

#22

Cycles

by Carolyn Martin

#23

What to do with your grief

by Patricia Davis-Muffett

#24

Hide-and-Seek

by Erin Murphy

#25

Two Poems

by Joseph Chelius

WALKING THE WOODS WITH YOU ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT by Wendy Drexler

WALKING THE WOODS WITH YOU ON THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

The rain has swelled the scent of sod’s decay.
You squat to a toad, squashed except its head,
a wasp, eating its eye. So this is the way,
and wondrous, that the living are fed by the dead.
Here, sap binds the wounded flank of a maple.
Here, lichen day-glows the dark wet bark
of a fallen branch. We thread past a kettle
pond once ripped by glaciers. Mosquitoes mark

my arm. I’m their chance, as I try to greet
my fear, slow impatience. I can’t plug
each leak. We’re here, your heart and mind beat
irregular time that wears us with a shrug
the way these branches must submit to air.
Next year? I hadn’t meant to make a prayer.

*

Wendy Drexler’s third poetry collection, Before There Was Before, was published by Iris Press in 2017. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, J Journal, Lily Poetry Review, Nimrod, Pangyrus, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, South Florida Poetry Review, Sugar House, The Atlanta Review, The Mid-American Review, The Hudson Review, The Threepenny Review, and the Valparaiso Poetry Review, among others. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily and WBUR’s Cognoscenti; and in numerous anthologies. She’s been the poet in residence at New Mission High School in Hyde Park, MA, since 2018, and is programming co-chair for the New England Poetry Club.

Safety First by Beth Mulcahy

Safety First

stay on the path
the paved one
right here
clear, flat cement
put there on purpose
for you to walk on
stay off the grass hills covered in
those crunchy brown leaves
no matter how delicious
they sound under your boots
they are not for walking on
they cover divots
ripe for tripping
and falling
and rolling
to your death
or worse

*

Beth Mulcahy (she/her), a Gen X-er from Michigan, lives in Ohio with her husband, two kids and loyal Havanese dog sidekick. Beth works for a company that provides technology to people without natural speech. She writes poetry, fiction, memoir, and dreams about visiting Scotland. Her work has appeared in various journals and she has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Check out her latest publications at https://linktr.ee/mulcahea

Tattoo by Robin Wright

Tattoo

My grandson asks which tattoo
tempts me to the point
of letting a needle pierce my skin.

He wants a tiger, a fierce,
strong symbol to snarl
from his shoulder or stomach
to reinvent him or remind him
of who he is, who he can be.

I favor an elephant,
big
gray
saggy
full of life
sixty years has bestowed.

*

Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her work has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Bombfire, Sledgehammer, Young Ravens Literary Review, Sanctuary, Ariel Chart, Spank the Carp, Panoply zine, and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her first chapbook, Ready or Not, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.

Prop Gun by Nicole Caruso Garcia

Prop Gun

          Most props are ordinary objects. –Wikipedia

For authenticity, you choose this heartless
    killer. Believe, if managed right, he’ll be
        quite tame in hand, while feral as a mustang.
Although for art you trust him to be artless,
    what whiskey cast as whiskey sips like tea?
            He’s not a rattlesnake you can defang,

but only milk his venom. Such mystique
    surrounds him, yet he can’t pretend, now, can he?
          Don’t ask who’ll be forgiven, who will hang.
What is this “prop gun” of which you speak,
                  when—bang?

*

Nicole Caruso Garcia is the author of Oxblood (Able Muse Press, 2022), which was named a finalist for the Able Muse Book Award and the Richard Wilbur Award for Poetry. Her work appears in Best New Poets 2021, DIAGRAM, Crab Orchard Review, Light, Measure, Mezzo Cammin, The Orchards, PANK, Plume, The Raintown Review, Rattle, RHINO, Sonora Review, Spillway, and Tupelo Quarterly. She serves as Associate Poetry Editor at Able Muse and an Advisory Board member at Poetry by the Sea: A Global Conference. Visit her at nicolecarusogarcia.com.

After a Line by Robert Bly by Mike James

After a Line by Robert Bly

Taking the hands of someone you love
You enter another country
Where, day-by-day, scars become valleys,
Hills are creviced with loneliness,
And every bird knows silence as well as song.

*

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines, large and small, throughout the country. His many poetry collections include: Leftover Distances (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), and Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog.)

Mary, Did You Know? by Marissa Glover

Mary, Did You Know?

Yes, she knew,
as all moms know—
the instant letdown
of milk at his cry,
the look in brown eyes
that says he feels pain,
his smell after a long day
chiseling and stacking
stones, catching barbels
or musht.

She knew all
that other stuff too.
An angel told her,
remember?
Appeared to her,
said she’d soon be pregnant,
and Joseph was not
the father.
The prophets warned
what would happen next.

I’m more curious
about what Mary didn’t know,
what no mom knows,
what’s impossible
to know.
Like how quickly
his feet would be the size
of hammers, how soon
he’d choose his own path.

Or how much
it would hurt
to watch him
suffer, how hard
it would be
to feel the blood
urge for revenge
and take none.

*

Marissa Glover teaches and writes in Florida, where she serves as co-editor of Orange Blossom Review and a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Her poetry has been published in Rattle, Rust + Moth, SWWIM Every Day, and other journals. Marissa’s first full-length poetry collection, Let Go of the Hands You Hold, was released by Mercer University Press in 2021 and her second collection, Box Office Gospel, will be published by Mercer in 2023.

The Night Before Prozac by Susan Cossette

The Night Before Prozac

The amber bottle of green and white capsules
waits in the plastic pharmacy bin,
for three days now.

The strap of muscles clenched around my ribs,
The nausea and stomach churn tell me it is time.
My pulse pounds
go, go, go.

At 3 am, I will think of the perfect things I should have said at work but didn’t.
I will regret the things I said but said anyway.
I will imagine every way I could possibly die.

CNN reports a 50% increase in the number of liver transplants needed
due to pandemic binge drinking.
I cringe at the dozen empty wine bottles
in the kitchen trash.
So many colors, each with its own mood.
The good pinot grigios remind me I overspend.
The cheap ones scream of bored desperation.

In 1999, I crawled into bed for a month.
Nothing existed but the lace curtains, the damp sheets,
a toddler and his grandmother in the next room.
All it took was a pill to wind me up again–
a blank-gazed cipher in pink gingham,
contorted limbs, stiff painted smile.

At 3 am, I will worry I won’t write another poem again.
But I need to sleep and smile and do my job,
the one I waited my whole life for.
I have bills to pay.

The amber plastic bottle waits.

*

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.