Poetry Unplugged

How One Leaves the Country of Her Rapist

Pain, simply, can be a journey if you believe

there are rules to finding, like desire, a dark room

inside of you where every animal nicks your throat

 

if provoked. At nineteen, even my clothes

were breathless. That’s how I wanted my body

to be taken, how one leaves the country of her rapist:

 

transfigured, pleading with air. How little one must feel

gaped open like that—a keyhole in a drought

shaped like a fish, disbelieving the survival of light.

Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick’s work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Gulf Coast, Salamander Magazine, Salt Hill, Plume, The Texas Observer, PANK, Four Way Review, Harpur Palate, and Passages North, among others. Hardwick serves as the poetry editor for The Boiler Journal.

Bedtime Story

If you’re reading this it’s already too late . . .

 

Oh Brian, quit scaring the children.

Tell them instead the story about Andromeda,

rescued by Perseus, astride Pegasus,

a creature so divine that springs of water

gushed forth where its hooves touched the ground.

You know, the white horse with the wings,

thought a symbol of poetic genius.

Foaled by the Gorgon Medusa.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, has published over 1,900 poems internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle, and the North American Review. His books are The So-Called Sonnets, An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy, Like As If, and Hearsay.

Voodoo doll

A stringy smile and button eyes as cold as your own

Every time I hurt,

you can too.

 

I stitched the mouth closed

Silencing you like you did me

 

The red pins give me the power I’ve been longing for

The power you hold

The power I deserve

 

I place one in your heart

Like you did to me,

Remember?

 

Concentrating on my desires

Concentrating on my intentions

Petitioning the spirits to act on my behalf

 

Unbothered by karmic backlash

I’m only settling the score

 

I hold you tight

Caressing your cloth exterior

Before I cast the ultimate unforgivable spell

Haley Hall is a junior at Michigan State University. She has had a love for poetry ever since getting drawn in by the works of Edgar Allen Poe in sixth-grade English class. This is her first publication.

Lines for a Misfit

Resist the box,

don’t let them put you in there;

your soul is a fox,

but one without a lair.

 

Resist the box,

and all the petty mayhem

of those who put a pox

on everything that isn’t them.

 

Resist the box,

and all the narrow views

that make Fort Knox

the limit of our daily news.

 

Resist the box,

stay large and free

and calmly unorthodox,

in what you choose to see.

Martin Mc Carthy lives in Cork City, Ireland. He has published two collections: Lockdown Diary (2020) and Lockdown (2021). His most recent poems appear in Seventh Quarry Poetry, Poetry Salzburg, The Orchards Poetry Journal, The Road Not Taken, and Lighten Up Online.

A Clot Moved into an Artery and a Clock’s Hands Sat Still

He stared at his image in the mirror as it fell into shards on the bathroom floor.

His wife picked up the glass, each of the pieces, and placed them onto a table

where they sat, like jigsaw puzzle shapes waiting to be reintroduced to each other,

one by one, until they would become whole again.

But after hours of trying, she could not get them to fit together

within the frame from which they had fallen.

Her husband’s eyes were missing their pupils.  His nose was bent,

as if he had been a boxer in a gruesome bout

left with blood across his face dripping onto his chest.

His mouth, forever smiling, was dour, as if it had bitten into rancid cheese.

In the ambulance, she asked the paramedic if he would recover his former self and was answered

with shrugged shoulders and a slight shaking of the head.

The puzzle remained incomplete,

shards missing from his daily life,

the mirror incapable of reflecting light.

The pieces of glass were placed into a box and were laid to rest under the bed

where they remained

until the house,

from years of disuse,

became dust.

Barry Green is retired and lives in Ashland, Virginia, where he writes poems and short fiction and, somehow, gets by.

Piano

On that gray day, you chopped the Steinway piano with an ax.

Surrounded by yellow and red leaves on the hard earth,

you raised your arm to smash it all apart.

 

I could only wonder. You were a man raised to think

crying was weak. Strength and power should define you.

Men like you couldn’t voice their secrets or despair.

 

You shattered the instrument, exorcising its shiny veneer.

Resin-impregnated paper, dovetail joints, wooden ribs,

and polished mahogany scattered around you.

 

Slowly the curved outline of the piano became a ragged mess.

The soundboard heart cracked. Small planks of air-dried wood

joined the miscellany of strings, keys, and padded hammers.

 

I thought of my mother, the day she moved out,

how you changed the locks and emptied every closet,

destroying each vestige of your shared lives.

 

If I had left the window to join you outside,

I would have seen your tears,

glistening strings on the soundboard of a broken soul.

James Mulhern’s writing has appeared in literary journals over one hundred and fifty times and has been recognized with many awards. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was granted a writing fellowship to Oxford University.

Tinnitus

That first

year after

the war

I had

a ringing

in my

ears constantly

it had

the exact

sound of

my cell

phone

I learned

early not

to answer

it because

it was

always the

ghost of

some soldier

or marine

asking me

to tell

them how

they died

one last

time.

Matt Borczon is a poet and nurse from Erie, Pennsylvania. He has published 16 books of poetry so far. His latest, Saved Rounds, is available through Kung Fu Treachery press. He publishes widely in the online and small press.

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David Clode on unsplash