Adeshi Onani

DENIAL

to find a partner and sway
Because how else does a body survive water before rescue?
“- Salam Wosu, Elegy for the
need to Sway

And they wonder why I will never want this kind of air, this place
That tells me what I’ve always known. It’s a fine line
Between standing tall and writhing painfully from right to left
Stroking the fine ash that pirouettes from the remains of a dream. But no, no sad poetry-

This is the poem that runs into dark wine at my word/ for what are words, if you do not own their
power?/when they throw you up, dashing your foot against a stone?
I drink, and everything that was love will look like two eyes locking and two pairs of eyes that
never locked
In an embrace, in this sudden magic wielding I have found another body that will be a raft at
sea/ on the stage of our hearts we are the heroes, coins that will never flip for any fate but ours.
But we float away again
Another raft splinters away from my weight another stiffens at the curdling cold another does not
want
The ghosts laughing eerily out of my stories. But no, no sad poetry- only the ones that can fight
wildly-

I float to the light at the end of this outlet but
I know/ I will claim the light will be too bright/ I will claim that the land is too sturdy/so I will
wait/wait and wait/wait and wait/take and take/any raft floating on the same journey because
how else does a body survive water before rescue?


Adeshi Onani is a Nigerian Poet, Freelance Writer, and Educational Instructor. Her works have
been published in Kalahari Review, Salamander Ink Magazine, and Knights Library Magazine.
When she is not writing, reading, or teaching, she can be found swaying to music, laughing
heartily with her students, or daydreaming about all the places she wants to go. She lives in
Lagos, Nigeria. Find her on Facebook: Adeshi Onani, and Twitter @DeshiOnani.

Adeshi Onani

DENIAL

to find a partner and sway
Because how else does a body survive water before rescue?
“- Salam Wosu, Elegy for the
need to Sway

And they wonder why I will never want this kind of air, this place
That tells me what I’ve always known. It’s a fine line
Between standing tall and writhing painfully from right to left
Stroking the fine ash that pirouettes from the remains of a dream. But no, no sad poetry-

This is the poem that runs into dark wine at my word/ for what are words, if you do not own their
power?/when they throw you up, dashing your foot against a stone?
I drink, and everything that was love will look like two eyes locking and two pairs of eyes that
never locked
In an embrace, in this sudden magic wielding I have found another body that will be a raft at
sea/ on the stage of our hearts we are the heroes, coins that will never flip for any fate but ours.
But we float away again
Another raft splinters away from my weight another stiffens at the curdling cold another does not
want
The ghosts laughing eerily out of my stories. But no, no sad poetry- only the ones that can fight
wildly-

I float to the light at the end of this outlet but
I know/ I will claim the light will be too bright/ I will claim that the land is too sturdy/so I will
wait/wait and wait/wait and wait/take and take/any raft floating on the same journey because
how else does a body survive water before rescue?


Adeshi Onani is a Nigerian Poet, Freelance Writer, and Educational Instructor. Her works have
been published in Kalahari Review, Salamander Ink Magazine, and Knights Library Magazine.
When she is not writing, reading, or teaching, she can be found swaying to music, laughing
heartily with her students, or daydreaming about all the places she wants to go. She lives in
Lagos, Nigeria. Find her on Facebook: Adeshi Onani, and Twitter @DeshiOnani.

Three Poems by Clayton Arble

Mushrooms

1.

On a warm spring
morning after
days of rain,
pale, shining
mushrooms slide
back into black
dirt—into
earthworms and
cold soil,
blind roots and spring rain—

2.

and return to the darkness
our bones know—the bones
of the ancestors
who gave us our ancient
bodies⁠—

3.

pale, shining bones
silent in the darkness
of the daylight of our flesh.


Trying to Meditate

1.

A blue leaf falls
across my face.

What does it have
to do with me?

2.

Each leaf curls
into itself,

the shape of a cry
my body craves.

3.

I watch each thought
blossom and wilt.

I let the black leaf
cry.


After Meditating

I lie back
down in the grass

breathing
in the fresh

smell of dirt. my
skin filling up

with sunlight.
my whole body

becoming the touch
of a stranger.


Clayton Arble is a poet from the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.

Marc Frazier

On Any Given Day You Are

An upside-down baseball cap—a turtle on its back
Blue cloth napkins folded like sails on bread plates in a Greek restaurant 
White hydrangeas craving water
Heartbreak in a child over the canceled birthday party
A pot-bound peace plant reaching for more room
As trendy as torn-up jeans with ripped pockets
Picasso in his striped shirt with palms on the window glass
A curio cabinet added to after each new death
A tiny silver pitcher of cream on a silver tray a la Vienna
Quebec’s motto: je me souviens
Watercolor paintings on red and yellow walls
The rowboat that flows through toddlers’ stories
The hard-to-get-at sweetness of sugarcane
Yellow lilies and blue iris exciting suburban yards
Heat from a tinfoil tan reflector held under the chin
My confidence in someone else’s flight plan


Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. Marc, a Chicago-area, LGBTQ+ writer is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a “best of the net.” He has appeared in the anthology New Poets from the Midwest. Marc’s three poetry collections are available online.

Michael L. Ruffin

The Perch

I’ve been watching
a red-headed woodpecker.

Its occasional landing
on a place where a
tree limb used to be
transforms the ragged jut
into a majestic tower
from which the bird
surveys its future prospects.

The view is possible
only because the limb
is no longer there.
The woodpecker had
nothing to do with
the limb’s destruction
or decay, but it benefits
from its absence.

You might say that
the bird has many other
perches available to it,
and you would be right.

But in the moments
that I see it, it has
chosen that one—or
that one has chosen it—
and so it has that
particular perspective
from that particular perch
at that particular time.

I wonder if the woodpecker’s
subsequent woodpecking
involves a rhythmic “thank you”
for the unique perspectives
and opportunities that the
missing branch, whose
removal the bird had nothing
to do with, presents.

It doesn’t sound like
it’s wasting its time
wondering if it should
be pecking elsewhere.


Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and Twitter (@ruffinmichael). He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and Praying with Matthew and other books. His poetry has appeared at New Verse News, Rat’s Ass Review, 3 Moon Magazine, and U-Rights Magazine.

Two Poems by Andre F. Peltier

Injuries in Time and Space #1

One time,
walking to the car
I saw a flame of
guiding light.
It was a glowing flare
against the Olympian hordes.
It directed traffic
away from the main
Chilean event.
Mesmerized,
I waited for hours
until the van returned
packed to the gills
with teenage wanderlust.
No tears could wash away
the emptiness, the fear.
The fear took root
and has grown a sequoia:
tall, stately, unbreakable.
Farewell to those
carefree days.
And the crowd chanted,
“Chi Chi Chi
Le Le Le –
Chi-Le!
Chi-Le!
Chi-Le!”


Injuries in Time and Space #2

One time,
riding my bike,
I hit a patch of
soft sand.
It was a nasty spill.
Skidding ten feet on
my elbows and knees
and a hole opened up.
My kneecap was visible
through layers upon layers
of torn skin.
Blood mixed with sand.
I picked up my bike,
limped home.
No stitches:
there was nothing to stich.
The hole,
gaping chasm into which
we all stared,
bid farewell to those
underground days.
We stared into that
gaping chasm
and the gnarled flesh
stared back.


Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications like CP Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Novus, About Place, and Fahmidan Journal, and most recently he has had a poem accepted by Lavender and Lime Literary. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books. @aandrefpeltier

Five Short Poems by Adam Day

WE GO QUIETLY

Moss grows
around her mouth,

grass from her tongue.
The naming action

that normally
makes sense fails;

So, let’s be quiet,
tell medium truths,

so many kinds
of truths.


BIRD-SILENT BODY

Purple and silver
thistle growing

between broken glass
and unheated stones.

Drone glow
bleaches green

from trees, air
empty but full sharp

weaponless play.


THE OTHER SILENCE

The sisters carry
darkness up

the mountain.
Silence may be

all that is
at the other end.


THE PRESENT FIRE

Suburban coyotes
caught, legs zip-tied,

dropped into
a dry well. The world

in which she finds
herself and might

define herself
does not exist;

so she does not exist
for that world. The pale

light of insufficient
answer.


WATERFALLING GENERATION

Future children
of present fire

of not enough;
leaf only a web

of veins, house’s
naked beams.


Adam Day is the author of Left-Handed Wolf (LSU Press, 2020), and of Model of a City in Civil War (Sarabande Books), and the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, and of a PEN Award. He is the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Divine Orphans of the Poetic Project, from 1913 Press, and his work has appeared in the APR, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Volt, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere.

Joshua Effiong

Schooling my heart the profit of sustaining my existence

we affirm that the mind is a museum
of our past but what do we say of
our bodies? a fleshy compartment with

hemoglobin of memories embedded in
its bone marrows. how do you sponge
your spirit off the weight of your thoughts.

i make of my skin a notepad, scribbling times
when yesterday stained today with things
that make my breath plastic. God knows how

much I love stains. the purgency deflowering
the pride of beauty, fingering the strings of
impurities to birth a tune that arouses the

ashes of decay. darling, place a stethoscope
on my chest & listen to the music choired
eloquently by the rhythmical contraction &

relaxation of my sad heart. this black boy is
cactus in a desert of colours. God knows how
much he loves stains, but not its glorified end.

i school my heart the profits of sustaining my
existence even when these pacemakers give up.


Joshua Effiong is Nigerian by birth and is studying Science Laboratory Technology at University of Calabar. He is a lover of poetry & here he finds freedom. His works has appeared/forthcoming in Eboquills, Kalahari Review, Shallow Tales Review, Rough Cut Press, Madrigal Press, Warning lines, Hearth Magazine, Mausoleum Press etc. Author of Autopsy of Things Left Unnamed. He also find joy in photography and reading. Connect with him via Instagram @josh.effiong and twitter @JoshEffiong

Three Poems by Michael Battisto

Ghosts Without Moonlight

What happens when there is no longer any moonlight
for our ghosts to belong to?
They keep trying to resettle into their old names.

They pick through scraps
of the morning’s silences.
They wait inside our mirrors

through the still afternoons,
then add their regrets together
into another evening,

where they flutter around the streetlights murmuring,
using our lost buttons as currency,
counting the syllables remaining to us.


Another Winter

Soon it will be another winter. All our voices
will be seen. The trees will no longer
offer us oxygen. The grey roads

will wrap themselves around our feet
and beg for salt. We will have to eat
from the other side of the world.

While telling fantasies to our children
to make them believe there might be
some reward to all this.

We will join with the others in the ceremonies
of renewal. Which we know mean only
that we are growing older.


Allow Yourself to Sleep

November was mourning. We remembered
the voices of friends. Now
it is the first day of winter.

The deaths continue. They are
documented. An afterlife, as a number.
We exchange one technology

of memory for another. We write
over faded photographs. Then write over
what was written. Can you remember, clearly,

the faces and names of all your lovers?
Language is an accumulation of errata.
We were writing as our friends became statistics.


Michael Battisto has work that can be found or forthcoming in About Place Journal, The Shore, Josephine Quarterly, MoonPark Review, HAD, Frogpond, and elsewhere. Born in Chicago, he has lived in New York, Wyoming, Arizona and Texas. Now he lives in Oakland, California. Find him at michaelbattisto.com.

Courtney LeBlanc

BETTER THAN SEX
~ after Marissa Glover

My mom grins, her small
teeth on full display, drops
her voice and says, It’s called
better than sex cake
. Her friends
giggle in response. I’m nine
and unsure what sex is – I know
it’s something that happens
between a man and a woman, but only
after marriage, otherwise it’s forbidden –  
I learned this in Sunday school. Sometimes
I balance naked Barbie on top of naked
Ken and put a blanket over them. 
They’re having sex, I tell my younger 
sister and she nods as if
she understands. Years later I will try this
cake and it’s so sweet my teeth ache.
I try not to think of my parent’s sex
life but when I heard my mother say
this, her smile wide as she swallowed
a piece of the confection, she had four
children at home – two teenagers
and two under ten. The cake probably
was better than their sex life.


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79