States of Matter

 

One wonders if the gaseous ever really solidifies,
or if we breathe only ambiguity, substance at once reactive
and inert. We merely exist
in such a universe without passion, floating
on the inside but floor-bound at the corners, feet
calling foul as they pretend to touch earth.
Perhaps it is only the near edge of survival,
but with such a cushion of wind, it has other names. 
In some of them, it is simply living. 

Other times, it is rather a sort of middle-ground,
that kitchen-kind-of-space between us and the oven

hot gas, linoleum, all those knives but alive. 
   

                                        - E.D.

gaseous, reactive, merely, passion, inside, foul, edge, names, living, rather, kitchen, alive


 

And what if?


And what if marriage turns us fluorine? Gaseous 

and reactive? And what if the spring we feel

pushing us forward is merely tailwinds

of passion? What if we dive into an equator

that scratches and gnaws us from the inside, leaves

our mouths full of foul words, empty of meaning?

 

What if we meet years from now at the edge 

of what we called home? Our names scrawled

on boxes in the living room, stacked and divided?

I’d rather be lonely now than lonelier then,

as flecks of basil on the kitchen counter,

once pungent, alive, not dried.


                                        - Linda McCauley Freeman



fluorine, spring, tailwinds, equator, leave, mouths, meet, home, boxes, lonely, flecks, dried


 

Leavings


Black sparrow, you flapped the fluorine away

from my AC unit in spring. Now unreachable

in summer, you bride yourself to tailwinds

trucking towards the equator. I want to know

what made you leave. Was it the open caw

of mouths with needs to feed? Were you fleeing

towards a lover, trying to meet his ends

with your beak? Or did you run from a home made

cold by shivering boxes? Like you, I live an interstate

life, lonely and without a bed I can remember

sharing with the warm-blooded. As my wall’s paint flecks

and falls against me, I dream of dried insects, warm rain.


                                        - Rina Nilooban 


black, unreachable, bride, want, open, feed, trying, run, interstate, remember, paint, against



Unreachable

 

I have felt it swimming through like a black current vein, then climbing my limbs. 

No rowboat into better days, regret buried like bodies underwater, unreachable

is the corner of my smile. This room now makes an abandoned bride of my life.

Tell me— if you were this dead, would you even want to know about it?

Children have drowned in ponds, soft-furred animals split open at the roadside

& the others come, sniffing, swooping in to feed off what’s left. A metaphor.

I’m trying, but I can’t get to the heart of this poem without all the detours.

Red lights & red eyes become a sure habit for wounds who have nowhere to run.

What I mean is, there is an interstate ramp near the blue house my father grew up in. 

& behind that highway is a field of daisies, apple trees, sky a delight to remember.

 

But the chipped robin egg paint can’t fly us back, or heal memories flaring up 

against the windows we look out of, trying to build a route to heaven with a word.

 

                                        - Kara Knickerbocker


limbs, rowboat, corner, dead, pond, sniffing, detours, habit, ramp, delight, flaring, word



Imperative


Throw the baby out with the bathtub, all suds, limbs and porcelain,

but don’t make a Titanic out of a rowboat,

chart beyond the neighborhood, turning corners you wouldn’t turn,

dancing in and out of bars you wouldn’t be caught dead in.

Be the small goldfish in a big pond. Feel enough. 

Notice what’s under that nose you’ve never liked without sniffing for more.

All those detours you ignore on a map because they drive you out of your comfort zone

—the stale beer of habit—

looking for the next exit ramp to take you back to what you know, 

missing the moan of delight,   

ignoring the neon flaring regret.

Try to spell a new word.

 

                                        - Maria Giura


bathtub, titanic, neighborhood, dancing, goldfish, nose, map, stale, exit, moan, neon, spell



Woman with Run in Her Stocking

 

Whiskey cuts through her veins like Liquid Plummer through a nest of hair in a bathtub drain.

Ice cubes collide with her teeth, bringing on a titanic headache.

Somebody or other from the neighborhood, she drifts in on Thursdays.

Sounds from the juke might as well be ocean; no one’s dancing, never do. Eyes dart away

like goldfish in a bowl but hearts used to gallop when she came around.

End-stage loser – the words smack her in the face, nose and cheeks

already veined violet like a road map to nowhere.

The bleat of traffic enters through the door, propped-open to let stale air out,

exit sign above winks farewell like a tactful bouncer.

To those in ringside seats she moans a song of whirlpools and riptides.

Windows exchange light for darkness, green for neon. Shadow-

patterns paper the walls, obscure the lipsticked apologies that spell her name.

 

                                        - Julia Paul 


 

liquid, collide, somebody, sounds, gallop, stage, violet, bleat, tactful, ringside, green, obscuring



E.D. has lived many places in the US, most recently Washington and Illinois. She enjoys reading poetry and police procedurals. She has written poetry for much of her life but has never aimed to publish. This is her first publication.

 

Linda McCauley Freeman has published her first full-length poetry collection, The Family Plot (Backroom Window Press, 2022), available on Amazon and the publisher's website. “Brave and unsettling,” and filled with “poems that pulse with life,” the book “portrays one American girlhood, one American family in all its joys and sorrow.” Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2022, she has an MFA from Bennington College She lives in the Hudson Valley, NY. Follow her here.

 

Rina Nilooban lives and teaches in Highland Park, New Jersey. Her poems have appeared in Hanging Loose Magazine and Diode Poetry Journal. She graduated from Brown University in 2000 and has studied under BJ Ward, Rick Benjamin,Cat Doty, and Peter Murphy.

 

Kara Knickerbocker is the author of the chapbooks The Shedding Before the Swell (dancing girl press) and Next to Everything that is Breakable (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry and essays appear in: Poet Lore, HOBART, Levee Magazine, Portland Review, among others. A multiple Best of the Net nominee, she currently lives in Pennsylvania and writes with the Madwomen in the Attic at Carlow University. Find her online: www.karaknickerbocker.com and Twitter @karaknick.

 

Maria Giura is the author What My Father Taught Me (Bordighera Press) and Celibate: A Memoir (Apprentice House), a 1st Place Independent Press Award winner. She is an Academy of American Poets winner and judged the Lauria/ Frasca Poetry Award. Her writing has appeared in Prime Number, Presence, (Voices in) Italian Americana, Lips, Tiferet, and PLR. Maria has taught writing at multiple universities including Binghamton University where she earned her PhD in English. www.mariagiura.com

 

Julia Morris Paul is a poet and attorney. Her book, Shook, is “an exploration of the kitchens and detox centers of family history and the homes and homeless camps of the heart.” Her chapbook, Staring Down the Tracks, deals head-on with her son’s tragic struggle with opiate addiction. Her poetry can be found in numerous journals. A believer in poetry as a powerful form of communication, she leads a long-running poetry series in Hartford, Connecticut.