Creation

by Jenny Molberg

My sister and I used to peel
the crusts off Wonder Bread,
roll the soft middles in our palms.
The sheets on our beds
were freckled with tiny flowers.
At night, they came alive:
bees, or daddy longlegs,
or little girls who looked like us.
As they flew around the room,
we caught a few. Held them
in our hands, named them:
“Debbie,” “Bebe,” “Lady Catherine.”
Later, one grew inside me.
It came too early—they showed me.
Like a tiny flower.
I wanted to name her.
To feel the weight of her,
to catch her hand as it grabbed
at a pink flower, to warn her
of all the world’s little dangers.
To watch her bite into a pillow
of bread with a ferocity
that I could say, with certainty,
was just like her mother’s.

Ode to Absence

by Jenny Molberg

The woman in the locker room mutters, kids…
and I almost say they’re not mine

for what seems like the thousandth time.
I am afraid she will think I have nothing.

Today, in Oklahoma, they unearth blackboards
untouched since 1917. The children learned to multiply

on a spoked wheel. Stars of David border
the chalked lessons, a rainbow of them.

I can almost see the small hands penciling
two triangles, each cradling its upside-down twin.

In some long-gone teacher’s apple-pie script,
a few sentences about the pilgrims, some drawings.

The shadows of bonnets crosshatched in chalk.
The king would not let them go to their own churches.

I put my ear to the past, and the pilgrim woman
whispers: You are lonesome. You are free.

Her Hand, the Compass

by Jenny Molberg

My neighbor walks with wide steps around the yellow crocuses,
moves her hand over the life that kicks in her.
She doesn’t know that this child will never be born.
She sees that someone cut back the herbs in the garden,
and can’t understand it. Oregano, basil, mint.
They are all green and want to be tasted.
When the chives are cut, they come back.
With her finger, she traces a map
and the child hears its soft drum:
here are the crocuses and peonies.
Here is where your father, whom you do not know
writes in notebooks. Here is where he will scold you,
then forgive you. Here, the lights
will only stun you a minute. You will shoot up like a chive
and tangle with the world, where everything
wants to be chosen for something bigger.
____________________________________
Jenny Molberg’s debut collection, Marvels of the Invisible, won the 2014 Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2016. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Missouri Review, North American Review, Copper Nickel, The New Guard, Mississippi Review, Third Coast The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets and other publications. Molberg holds an MFA from American University and a PhD from the University of North Texas. She currently teaches at the University of Central Missouri and is poetry editor for Pleiades. Find her online at jennymolberg.com.

The Vacancy

by Ingrid Jendrzejewski

When I tell you I applied to be the moon, you just laugh. The moon? you ask.  You have to be a little bit crazy to be the moon! I know, I say. I am, aren’t I? You raise your eyebrows and leave for work, a smile on your lips.

Personally, I think I am uniquely qualified for such a position. I spend my most conscientious hours awake at night, silently watching over our restless little one, my face peering down, full and sleepless, quiet and trenched. My dark arms wrap around her smallness: I am so close and part of her that she forgets I’m something different from the night itself. We hold ourselves in that wasteland between twilight and daybreak when nobody but the infants and troubled and death-sick and mothers are straining.

And then, after and before such vigils, I go about the day as if I am a different entity: I pack lunches. I sweep the porch. I peel oranges. I post birthday cards. In the dawn and dusk, I kiss you goodbye and hello. I am, otherwise, unseen; in the light of the day, my giant moon face shrivels until it is only the size of an average human head.

____________________________________

Ingrid Jendrzejewski studied creative writing and English literature at the University of Evansville before going on to study physics at the University of Cambridge.  Since then, she has been involved in research, computer game development and theater; she reconnected with writing after taking some time out of work to start a family.  She has participated in the PoMoSco and Read, Write, Poem poetry projects and her poetry can be found in the 6th Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum English Haiku CollectioncattailsThe Mainichi, and an upcoming anthology by Two of Cups Press. Recently, she won Gigantic Sequins’ flash non-fiction contest and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction. Links to her work can be found atwww.ingridj.com and she very occasionally tweets from @LunchOnTuesday. Ingrid has soft spots for Go, cryptic crosswords and the python programming language.

27 Weeks

by Kerri French

When they said the daughter inside me
may pass, I locked the bathroom door
and did not leave the bathtub for a week.
The water rose to my neck
and I allowed myself to swim
in the thoughts of a woman
even loneliness could not climb.
My daughter’s body turned
beneath my skin as I counted
cracks in the ceiling, small slivers
pointing to an open window.
I was living in a country where no one
knew me, voices like ripples
I would never reach—the same way
my daughter remained with me
as I slept, her name not yet spoken.
__________________________________________
Kerri French’s poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, Mid-American Review, storySouth, DIAGRAM, Sou’wester, Waccamaw, Lumina, PANK, Best New Poets, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, among others. Instruments of Summer, her chapbook of poems about Amy Winehouse, is available from Dancing Girl Press. She currently lives and writes outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

If I Had But Dreamed You

by Joan I. Siegel

I would go back to sleep
to dream you more—
a phantom daughter treading water

but who can choose the dream
or the child who rips her flesh
and names her mother?

It doesn’t matter that halfway around
the earth someone reached by chance
for the file with your name

your face— because
when I lift you
I hurt with all my love.

_______________________________

Joan I. Siegel is the author of Hyacinth for the Soul (Deerbrook Editions, 2009) and A Passing (Deerbrook Editions, 2015) as well as Light at Point Reyes (Shabda Press 2012) and The Fourth Fourth River (Shabda Press 2015). Siegel is recipient of the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award as well as the New Letters Poetry Award. Her work is widely published in poetry journals including The Atlantic Monthly, Carolina Quarterly, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and others.

“Don’t you want children of your own?”

by Svea Barrett

— Asked of my husband and me when we married,
and I was 40 and had three sons already.

These aren’t our children?

No, we hate children. Especially babies.

Oh yeah, teenagers are fun, we’re looking to adopt
a set of 12 year old twins when our three move out.

No, we thought we’d take someone else’s.

Or, come over for dinner, we’ll make some for you.
Cake babies with butter cream belly buttons.

Or I could weave some out of the weeds–black eyed
susans, wheat grass, bachelor buttons, maybe some
river mud for the fleshy parts, dark skin that won’t
so easily sun burn. Pine cone babies would smell divine,
with seed pod eyes, always open, always dry.

__________________________________________________

Svea Barrett is a thirty year veteran high school writing teacher and a mom of three boys. She lives with her husband, the boys, two dogs and a cat in Fair Lawn, NJ. Her chapbook, Why I Collect Moose, won the 2005 Poets Corner Press Poetry Chapbook Competition, her book I Tell Random People About You won the 2011 Spire Poetry prize, and her work has appeared in The Paterson Literary Review, Samsara Quarterly, The Journal of New Jersey Poets, LIPS,Caduceus, US 1 Worksheets, Ariel XXVII,The Rat’s Ass Review, and other online and print journals. She tied for first place in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest in 2013, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart.

Caterpillars

By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

consider their bodies—each separate bead

a head—the string of brains arch

like drumming fingers, or rather,

the knuckles. survival

in a smaller form. or a child pouring out

onto a table, the wide mouth

of an incision. you left me open there, just leaves

& breath. I hear a clown, Puddles Pity Party like a dream

of black & white film

& song. he opens his mouth, wider

than most, & out comes the sounds

of a clarinet, a tuba, a bird launched

into the higher branches

of a tree until all you make out

is the red smudge against

barren branch, no more sense

of feather or blood, the mother lost

in the presence of crying child, father dwelling

on the sidelines. his voice

in my ears, feathers in my mouth,

the bark like an arrival

in my hand. life will make no more sense

than this. more powder. more song.

_________________________________________________________

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she works as the Departmental Secretary of English and World Language Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and remains closely affiliated with 42 Miles Press, New Issues Poetry and Prose, and Wolfson Press. She previously received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Editor of Poetry for Third Coast. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, Whale Road Review, The James Franco Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on her website and on The Rumpus. For more, please visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.

The Geography of Cursive Indentations on the Letter Pad On My Mother’s Desk After Her Death

By Jeff Burt

My fingers searched in the hidden treble clefs
of paper for words that had been written
on one page and pressed into another,

hidden in the geography of cursive indentations
like claws grasping by parentheses, fingertips
tracing scripts not made of ink but pencil,

not something well-flowed but scratched
hard, deep into vanilla paper,
strings of words in haste, need,

approximation, hunger, arches, loops,
whorls I bring back to understand,
to comprehend my mother’s compression.

_____________________________________________
Jeff Burt lives in California with his wife amid the redwood and two-lane roads wide enough for one car. He has work in Thrice Fiction, The Nervous Breakdown, Agave, Watershed Review, Amarillo Bay, work forthcoming in Per Contra. He was the featured summer issue poet of Clerestory, won the 2011 SuRaa short fiction award, and been nominated for a Best of the Net Award.

Shield

By Kathleen Flenniken

There’s little I can pack for you, no lucky charm
or incantation, only years and years of daily instruction

I hope you’ve heard. I’ll be the waving hand
and hesitation in the window, then I end

and the road begins. If you grow lonely for me,
rest your cheek on the breast of a gold grass hill

or the breast of a sand dune erased and rewritten
by the wind, look for the shape of me in an ocean swell

and decide that’s all you need,
and I’ll imagine the trinkets you leave behind

as a quieter version of you. If I can.
And with my long arm raise my shield,

larger than any moon, shining
because I’ve polished it in my mind

since before you were born.