Two Haiku by Jessica Whipple

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Days and days in bed
I didn’t notice that I’m
wearing a necklace

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I will pray before
the Schuylkill Expressway and
its last four letters

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Jessica Whipple is a writer for adults and children. Her poetry has been published by One Art, Nurture, Ekstasis, and two are forthcoming by Pittsburgh Quarterly and Stanchion. Her debut picture book titled ENOUGH will be published Fall 2022 by Tilbury House. Jessica has always enjoyed writing and reading poetry. To see more of her work, visit www.AuthorJessicaWhipple.com or follow her on Twitter @JessicaWhippl17.

[junk food] by Nicole Caruso Garcia

[junk food]

junk food
in the vending machine tray
a dead mouse

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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.

Haiku in the Day Shelter for the Homeless by Bonnie Naradzay

Haiku in the Day Shelter for the Homeless

This morning we read haikus.
Not just Basho, whose name
means “plantain tree,” and Issa,
whose name means “cup of tea,”
but also Richard Wright,
born in Mississippi, who later moved
to France and wrote thousands
of haikus in his final years.
When I said Wright followed
the strict syllable count,
Leon asked, “What are syllables?”
I began to count the sounds
on my fingers: The crow flew so fast/
that he left his lonely caw
Two people liked this one by Issa –
“Once in the box
every one of them is equal –
the chess pieces.”
Eugenia wrote about three women,
regulars here, who died from drugs
in the past few weeks.
“Now in a box,” she wrote,
naming each of them in her poem.
Alessandro, responding to Basho,
wrote about constellations of stars.
And for the first time this year
Robert, tattooed up and down his arms,
was awake and sublimely alert.
He liked Issa’s The distant mountains/
are reflected in the eye/of the dragonfly.
In his eyes I saw myself reflected too,
and over the lonely fields, the crow.

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Bonnie Naradzay’s poems have appeared in New Letters, AGNI, EPOCH, RHINO, American Journal of Poetry, Kenyon Review Online, Florida Review Online, Tampa Review, Tar River Review, The Guardian, and others. For years, she has led poetry salons at a homeless day shelter and a retirement center in Washington, DC.

Two Poems by Howie Good

My Dark Ages

Black clouds mass over a rotting city. The police patrolling in battlefield gear eyeball you. Under the closeness of their scrutiny, you can feel your face assume a guilty expression. Later you’ll complain to me about it. “Oh yeah?” I’ll say. “Try going through life as a Howard.”

                                                                    &

Christ is murdered over and over, a crime gorgeously lit in stained glass. Do we know what we look like? Not really. The voice of the turtle is too faint for human ears.

                                                                    &

This is the one road that goes everywhere. Some days I walk it to think, some days to actually get someplace. I’ve been thinking about the hateful looks my father would give me growing up. “What are you, stupid?” he would hiss. It’s strange how much darkness a person can absorb and still function. Van Gogh, the morning before his suicide, painted a garden scene full of sun and life.

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Failed Haiku

1
Blank page on my laptop
A tree still waiting for leaves

2
A hazy childhood memory
The dense, swirling fog
in which a killer might lurk

3
Passing clouds
cast fugitive shadows
over a hayfield
Lines for a poem
that vanish on waking

4
Bright red patches
on the wings of blackbirds
Christ’s wounds

5
Your inner child
A figure pursued across the ice

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Howie Good is the author most recently of the poetry collection Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).

Three Poems by Anne Babson

POST-FACTUAL-MODERNISM

So much depends
Upon
A red hat about
America
Stitched in China
For Russia
Beside the white
Chickens

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MADISON AVENUE HAIKU

The Shinto soundbyte
Smacked between bubblegum lips
Is irreligious.

Five beats, seven beats,
Five beats — and why should we think
This is not an ad?

Japanese culture
Owns the rights to bonsai verse.
Coke is it for us.

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WHERE LOUIS, LESTAT AND I BAR-CRAWL BOURBON STREET

Whatever words say, bodies govern us,
Trapped by flesh, no matter which pretty speech.
But on Bourbon, bouncers don’t card this
Child corpse. They assume I’m auditioning.
I watch women spin on poles, cellulite
Jiggling while they twerk, fat nipples bouncing.
Louis and Lestat slip into the lounge,
But I am not hungry for the buffet.
I stole a wallet off my midnight snack
On Conti. I slip bills in g-strings, not
To satisfy appetites but to watch
Women’s thighs show me stretch marks and track marks
Through bronze spray tan, tattoos, and glitter sweat.

This book freezes me in glitter amber.
My child vampire body will never grow.
That’s not vampire blood. That’s vampire novel.
I ask Britni, the one I panty-stuffed
With twenty singles, to answer questions.
What’s her favorite book? She doesn’t read.
Not reading books traps, too, I see. Britni
Won’t reach fifti, my night vision tells me.
But what is your favorite book? Yes, you there!
And to what has it taught you to submit?

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Anne Babson is the author of three full-length collections of poetry — The White Trash Pantheon, Polite Occasions, and Messiah. Her fourth collection, The Bunker Book, will be published in 2021 by Unsolicited Press. Her poems have appeared in literary journals on five continents. She lives and writes in New Orleans.