Sushant Thapa

Now and Then

Getting inspired 
From the old childhood days
When we did not search for the hiding clouds
But wanted to cage the waking sky. 
Mind was not tamed
It was free like a mad waterfall. 
Idle locks and keys 
Meanings and complexities 
Have opened the doors of personal chaos 
Today, from the lens of youth it is seen that 
Old age wears a spectacle and smiles back. 
Time is too obvious to talk about 
Let it pass. 
Gears and shields pave the track 
And the train of passion finds its only way
My love, your rose was too delicate
But the colour it washed me with 
Has still not faded
Maybe I should call you again. 
Whatever our love meant
I am ready to walk on the dusty road. 

Ian Copestick

Beam Me Up Scotty

It's really weird,
I decided to treat
myself today, so
I bought myself
a bottle of Jim 
Beam. I'm about
three quarters of
the way down it,
but I feel kind of
strangely
sober. Until I
try to stand up,
then it feels like
someone has
stolen my legs.

They just won't
work, I'm all
over the place,
staggering and
stumbling, and
bouncing off the
walls.

It's really strange,
if I'm that pissed
then I really should
know about it.
It's  weird how
different drinks
produce different
effects, you would
expect all alcoholic
beverages to be
the same.

But no, my legs
will bear witness
to that. 


Howie Good

Past Due
 
Quit stalling, will ya? You were supposed 
to be here by now. Your mother is so anxious 
 
for your long-anticipated arrival she’s been
bouncing on an exercise ball to urge you on. 
 
What fun times you’re missing! What sights! 
Just today I saw the sun go down in a profusion 
 
of toxic colors like a ship full of chemicals 
burning intently at the edge of the world.

Daniel S. Irwin

Rabbit’s Foot
 
I had a lucky rabbit’s foot.
Somewhere there was 
An unlucky rabbit missin’
One foot…maybe more.
I lost it, so much for luck.
Maybe some lucky fool
Found it and went lookin’
For the rabbit it went to.
In that case, the finder
Was probably more nutz
Than lucky.  If he went
Lookin’ for the poor rabbit
Down a gator’s gullet,
There might be a gator
Out there now with a
Lucky rabbit’s foot and
A lucky arm inside him. 

J.J. Campbell

back at the old farm
 
and in my dreams
i'm back at the old farm
 
love of my life smoking
a joint on the front porch
 
i sip on the oldest bottle 
of scotch i have watching 
dark clouds roll in yet again
 
when you are no longer
scared to die, thunder and 
lightning and any rage from 
mother nature never fills you
with any ounce of dread
 
ease back into the easy chair
and grab an old book
 
we always wanted to 
take down the world 
on our own terms
 
sometimes you have to take
a step or two back to recollect 
yourself and allow the view
to completely come into play
 
she passes me the joint and i 
kindly open my third eye
 
they warned me when i was
younger about taking drugs
 
i now understand they simply
wanted to keep the good shit 
to themselves
 
a unicorn will graze in the back 
pasture and we'll drift off into 
the ether
 
comfortably plotting 
our next move
------------------------------------------------------------------
listening to old nina simone records
 
it's a harrowing voice
out of an old speaker
 
you can recall the days
you used to lay around
naked, smoking cigarettes
while listening to old
nina simone records
 
the poems would come
faster than teenage boys
watching their first porno
 
you knew right away about 
genius and greatness
 
and all the editors that
rejected this brilliance
were fucking fools
 
now with hindsight
 
you realize that asshole
couldn't write worth a shit
 
but this asshole here,
he can lay down the words
like a fucking madman
 
like some cleanup hitter
that never fails to drive
in the runs
 
the great ones re-invent 
themselves every few years
 
not out of some necessity
but out of pure fucking 
boredom
 
when that trick goes away
there is only one dark corner
left to stumble upon

Catherine Zickgraf

Prey 
 
God in His Heaven saw this that night  
when He looked down through His blackened sky: 
In the dead of night, 
apartment lights glow on the sidewalk.  
 
And the outline of a child  
could be seen from above. 
 
In the back of a pick-up behind the apartments, 
I laid myself down in the Winston packs and wet leaves, 
legs exposed to the moon.  
 
Homeschooled till 9th grade.   
Beaten and watched.  
You can stare at your kid all day, 
but eventually you’ll have to sleep.   
 
In the truck bed, 
a long-haired boy unzipped 
and cut hips into my inner thighs.   
He was working hard, his eyes gripped tight.   
But I had the spotlight, and this was my stage.                                      
 
Other boys smoked behind the dumpster,  
salivating, waiting to feed on me next.   
Freed from single mothers in the dead of night,  
they pressed my spine in the rust,  
dragged my hair through the dust.   
I was dirty, my shorts under me, 
then had to wear them home.  
 
* 
 
When I woke on my pillow a few hours later,  
bruises were blooming between my legs. 
 
The world is immoral, 
my parents warned during family devotions.   
So this must be normal behavior out here.   
 
But if this was so common among Unbelievers,  
why would the neighborhood judge me for this— 
the girls down the street screaming whore at my house?   
 
After breakfast, my face against the painted-shut windows, 
the bus would take those kids to school.   
But I was only thirteen and homeschooled  
with no other escape than  
my spine in the rust in the back of a truck.  
 
 
 
 
Operation Rescue 
 
1991, I was 15.   
And on the corner of 12th and Locust, 
Mrs. Gee gently told me  
to stop making eye contact with drivers 
at the stop sign. 
 
I was there with pamphlets for passers-by. 
I was there to share my story: 
my son was safe somewhere.  
 
In the middle of Center City, Philly,  
a tiny garden is protected by an iron gate.  
It wasn’t my job to block it.  
From the outskirts,  
I watched the choreography at the entryway.   
Fathers and nuns and young adults prayed rosaries,  
beseeched Mary to ask her Son to make abortion illegal again. 
Thus clinic visits were prevented 
until the police arrived by bus, zip-tied the congregation,  
and took them all away. 
 
It was quiet in ‘94 when I took an elevator  
from a Miami parking garage to my appointment.  
No protestors were staked-out outside offering other choices 
or threatening hell with horrifying signs, 
no need to be escorted inside. 
 
When it was done,  
that tiny spirit and I fell out the 8th floor window  
like shadows from the silent sky. 
 

Saeed Muhammed Lawan

BARREN

Sticks and stones
Could break my bones
As time passes 
Words become harder
Than all the stones 
It breaks me faster than the sticks
I become balloon 
Filled with gas and not love 
A little prick and I am burst 
I am Earth: people walk on my back
And as ocean, people swim in my emotion
Their words bruise my soul 
Just because 
I am a barren woman.


Abhirup Dutta

Eyes, Expectant Eyes

All tables for four;
expectant eyes on me;
Am I waiting for other guests?
Surely?
Or will the server keep their eyes on me,
In a table, for,
one?

Or, to hide my alone-maly,
will I be carried,
to uncomfortable stools of the waiting bar,
meeting eyes with strangers drunk next to me,
as the master behind the bar shakes mixers,
expecting my applause?
And then, will my neck sense
the eyes of employees,
expectant,
behind me,
as I
fumble
with money bills after my uneasy drink?

Alas, I'm rescued by a cafe with books.
I’m sipping bubble-tea, easing into nooks
resting by the window parapet,
softly into cushioned corners,
watching other eyes laughing, fighting, rolling, loving,
in tables for four
but thankfully
no eyes
on
me.

Jennifer Novotney

Arts and Crafts
 
We go shopping in the arts and crafts store
full of inspirational sayings and rustic signs
like “Be Someone’s Reason to Smile” and 
“Bless This Kitchen” and I am overcome with the 
feeling of childhood, being told how to act, as if 
my adult life has somehow not prepared me 
for what to do in all particular situations and so
I must need to buy these signs to tell me 
how I should behave and what I should think. Of course,
we all must look at these and say, that is so me, or
they wouldn’t sell in the first place. I hold up a picture frame
filled with a collage of different black and white shots, 
a couple holding hands smiling, children laughing, 
a mother and daughter, presumably, baking together 
with smiles, of course. A woman next to me piles the frames
in her cart, one after the next, a primitive, unrefined style
of unfinished wood, another one in shiny gold with slight patina
camouflaging the newness. She glances over at me and smiles
swiftly grabbing a wall hanging with a chicken wearing a pearl
necklace and a faded blue bow with “Be One of a Kind” in bold 
letters across the top. She studies it for a while and puts it in her cart
taking two more, supposedly for gifts, because why not when 
uniqueness is so darn affordable.

Ian Copestick

My Old Self


I don't know
if you know,
but 4 weeks
ago today my
partner of 18
years died.
Of what I don't
know, and never
will. Karen's son
didn't want a
post mortem. I
think she should
have had one.
Somebody's at
fault for a fit,
strong 53 year
old woman dying
after only being ill
for a couple of
months.

But that's not what
I started to write
about, I wanted to
say that after these
4 weeks, I'm beginning
to see that I might be
able to get through
this.

At first I really
didn't think that
I would, but now
I'm feeling stronger,
and more like myself
as every day goes by.

The days are long,
but the weeks go
by so quickly it's
really shocking.

I can hardly believe
that 4 weeks have
passed since she
passed. At times
it feels more like
4 hours, 4 days
maybe, but 4 weeks.
No fucking way.

Anyway, I just
wanted to say
that I still love
Karen as much
as I ever have, but
I'm beginning to
slowly, SLOWLY
get my head what
passes for together.

I know it's what
she would have
wanted. Karen
wouldn't have
wanted me to drink,
or drug myself to
death.
I'm starting to
think that I won't.