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Issue 188

This issue features


Pere Sanz


The Andromeda Galaxy

© by Pere Sanz.



Kharan Badri


On the Train to Andromeda

An outdated ticket traps me in someone else's dream

–––I chug along, postponing realization.

Disdaining the person I was, am, and will still become

–––setting about with sweet self-immolation.


Foisting fears of abandonment upon new neurons

–––I’m Mister Geppetto’s most defective toy.

Increasingly convinced my being lacks radiance

–––for these joints too infrequently hum with joy.


Trying to recall when I was last happy beyond

–––indulging futile dreams of myself unmade.

Wondering if anyone knows that my lights are on

–––with nary a soul at home for decades.


Scattered in the liminal space between time's fine lines

–––I've disassociated with alacrity.

My soul has forgotten something it can't remember

–––like the Grail mislaid in some lost sacristy.


I’m blind, like aged Longinus and his holy spear

–––thick brambles obscure eternity’s visage.

How am I meant to rediscover the long-frayed thread

–––of my life’s purpose before it disappears?


I’m deaf to veracity’s soft hums tumbling about

–––my serotonin-deprived mind's sad confines.

Overwrought, I declare existence’s blessing wasted

–––moody pessimism numbs every sense of mine.


Pleading once more with my sleep-paralysis demon

–––it’s nigh three a.m. I pray only for some peace.

For nothingness and the embrace of the endless void

–––to wash over me and see these tremors cease.


Unresolved traumas of past lives distant swirl amidst

–––those which are still yet to usher me astray.

Left rudderless in a wretched mess of consciousness

–––I’ll find the way to Shangri-La someday.


Lying to my reflection in gently cracked windows

–––dull with disuse and fogged by dishonesty.

Hopelessly mired in the muck of bygone millennia

–––myopia, my single measure of constancy.


When passengers arise to love's melodious chimes

–––they gift me their best regrets as souvenirs.

Oblivious that I am to the beauty of this birth

–––my ignorance and their bitterness cohere.


Conscious of how far I am from everything’s meaning

–––I search for the Me who might yet understand.

On all planes of existence, at every moment

–––He bides his time, weighing each grain of sand.


A painful cliche, the lovelorn soul with wistful dreams

–––which reality soon saw me abandon.

As the train halts underneath a panoply of stars

–––I disembark, awaiting new companions.


Copyright © 2023 by Kharan Badri.


About the Author

Kharan Badri is an Austin native and a first-generation American with roots in India, Germany, and Syria. His creative influences are an upbringing steeped in Vedanta philosophy, his cats, Freyja and Helios, and the writings of Rumi, Carlos Castaneda, Osho, and Kahlil Gibran. He composes poetry, self-reflective prose, and irreverent comedy on his website, badwriter.net. His work is forthcoming in Bryant Literary Review and riverSedge.



Madeleine French


About Waxed Canvas


Here’s the thing

about waxed canvas:

it remembers, too

I might sketch a finger

along its smooth patina

trailing the scars

of each nick and fold


Like I did, as a girl

playing dot-to-dot

with my freckles

as I could now

tracing my way back

through tiny rivers

on the backs of my hands


Copyright © 2023 by Madeleine French.


About the Author Madeleine French lives in Florida and Virginia with her husband. You may find her in front of a sewing machine, behind a copy of Persuasion, or occasionally on X, @maddiethinks. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Roi Fainéant Press, Dust Poetry Magazine, West Trade Review, The Madrigal, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Remington Review, Door Is a Jar, The Westchester Review, and elsewhere.



Paula Goldman


Vronsky’s Thinning Hair

Anna Karenina by LeoTolstoy


How will it be when you, husband, cover

your bald patches with other hair on your

noble head, settled and married a good

many years? (Three times Tolstoy mentions Vronsky’s

thinning hair as if he were no longer

the lover, but the husband.) Living day to day

with Anna, each inhabits the same space.

Vronsky grows restless, younger than Anna.

(You are bicycling; I’m watching “Hamlet.”

Yes, Hamlet should have taken up a sport.)

Will Anna and Vronsky argue over

what’s for dinner? Who should come

to the next dinner party? And what about

the nights he wants to spend with his officer

friends? What will Anna do? She’ll never fit into

the surrounding society. And what if

Vronsky’s mother stops sending money?

Anna will be penniless. Is all Vronsky’s

thinning hair tied to this or is Tolstoy

saying that time is encompassing

Vronsky? Who has not been enthralled only

to be dejected? The real person versus

the ideal one we project? Who will save us from

jumping before a train? Some say,

Anna’s looking for death, wakes up too late.


Copyright © 2023 by Paula Goldman.



Ariadne’s Lament


You left me on an island

My mind turning

Like a top in a labyrinth

Bumping into walls

Until it topples and rolls

A little ways

Thinking of ways

To get back at/to you

To that loving self

Reflected in your pool

Blue eyes mirroring

A spry loveliness

I had not recognized

For eons

Now I search for the brute

Bull I helped you kill

Inside me always

Fueling my eyes

Dissevering my clothes

Until they fall like leaves

On that barren island

My abandoned soul


Copyright © 2023 by Paula Goldman.



Degas’ Bathers in the Locker Room

.

Seated on a bench outside the steam room,

near the whirlpool while I am drying off

from my shower, I see a larger woman,

30ish, smooth tanned skin, rubbing

a moisturizer over her body.

I think of Degas’ women climbing out

of the tub, or leaning over a basin

set on the floor. The flesh becomes beautiful,

in Woman at her toilette, c1900-5, where

a woman is seen in a three-quarter pose,

with a towel in her right arm washing

her neck, the other hand holding her long

auburn hair providing another

angle in her bent arm. She tilts between

yellow and orange drapery, her long auburn

hair pulled back to show a curved neckline.

In the locker room, our bodies pass along

the way in and out to the pool or showers,

women matting their hair, drying their backs,

under their arms, wrapping too small towels

around their bodies, walking to their lockers,

talking about politics, children, movies.

In Degas’ work there are no stick figures. Walking

naked feels natural in this sanctuary.

And yet, why do I want to be a stick?

So much about the way my butcher father

cut up the female body. Everything

was a meat market. Slicing the cow, gutting

the chickens, grinding meat for hamburger.

How much does this weigh upon my lean shoulders?

Copyright © 2023 by Paula Goldman.




About the Author

Paula Goldman's book, The Great Canopy, won the Gival Press Poetry award, and was honorable mention for the Independent Booksellers’ Award. Her work has appeared in Across the Margin, Oyez Review, Slant, Briar Cliff Review, Calyx, Passager, Ekphrasis, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Manhattanville Review, Cream City Review, Comstock Review, Harvard Review, The North American Review, Poet Lore, Poet Miscellany, Hawaii Pacific Review, Cæsura, and other magazines. She was first prize winner in INKWELL's (Manhattanville College) poetry competition and the Louisiana Literature Award for poetry. She holds an MA degree in Journalism from Marquette University and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Former reporter for The Milwaukee Journal, she served as a docent and lecturer at the Milwaukee Art Museum for 25 years. Late Love, a book of poems published by Kelsay Books in Utah appeared in February 2020. She lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband of 57 years.



Kenneth Pobo


Bobolinko On Feeling Complete


The ad says Feel complete with him. I’m not a crossword puzzle. I don’t need to be solved. My husband doesn’t complete me or I him. He isn’t looking to be completed like a train set. We share some cranberry bread and look out the dining room window at the first passion flower suddenly open.


Copyright © 2023 by Kenneth Pobo.



Bololinko Blabs


I guess I do talk a lot, my grandmother Emma claimed that even as a toddler I talked a blue streak, most of my streaks are ruby red like inside a grapefruit, if it bothers you that I blab, I’ll try to tone it down, though why should I, words are seeds, and to get a good stand of poppies, you need to plant many seeds, let me be colorful as a poppy, waking up a cloud, unlatching the rusty cage where spring waits


Copyright © 2023 by Kenneth Pobo.


About the Author

Kenneth Pobo (he/him) is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), Lilac and Sawdust (Meadowlark Press), Lavender Fire, Lavender Rose (BrickHouse Books), and Gold Bracelet in a Cave: Aunt Stokesia (Ethel Press).



Stefano Ember


The Catacombs of Paris, France

© by Stefano Ember.


Haleigh Yaspan

9/9

At the nucleus of the great catacombs, a macabre obelisk and a timely reminder: arrive, and take your place in the old chain amid a pastiche of bone, compact and allied— mortal scaffolding to fortify the final empire. In concert, a galloping, choral dream tucked in time between hinges, sketched unsteadily, prevailing in grayscale until proven otherwise, incipient and fragile—a reedy non-guarantee, and lusterless with the dust of imagination applied. Now the texture of breath, connective and elastic, rising to meet reverie—to select, announce, and incarnadine a vision, kiss it full of cloud and mist, and behold the hard-edged likeness, true in itself— truly luminous at last, stripped of all poetic glow.


Copyright © 2023 by Haleigh Yaspan.


Eupnea, Unpretentious

Breath is innate, but to wield it requires discipline. To correct its course is to confront your own amenability, for what sensitive beast is contained must be scrutinized, and pain the myth through which the body unravels. No one breathes alone, lest we forget where we began, we wriggling corn kernels tracing the curve of genesis. Over time we see a failure to adapt, that familiar misstep: expecting that which fosters safety to then induce growth. A sanitized cry renders silence its own form of confinement, a vault of tranquility in the tempest, salutary blue lights aglow. The sky was gray, chasmal; the universe agitated, tachycardic. But I waited for the old practitioner, as now he waits for me.


Copyright © 2023 by Haleigh Yaspan.


About the Author

Haleigh Yaspan’s writing has appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, Cumberland River Review, Palette Poetry, California Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her scholarly work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the New York Public Library, Duke University, Florida State University, and Smith College. She lives in New York City.


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