Issue 7.3

Broken

By Alison Stone

1.

I don’t want to think

about broken things, the cracked

parts of myself I’ve covered, not with gold

resin like Japanese kintsugi, an amber river

meandering over the swell of a bowl;

but with yoga pants and sage smoke.

Each day sitting cross-legged to breathe into

believing that the past is gone and there is

only now. The clenched, clumsy

child really is gone. The teenager, terrified

in spikes and leather, gone. Red

streamers unfurling in syringes,

swept away. The AIDS-struck

boyfriend buried. Safer to think about

my air conditioner, humming

the way it’s supposed to; though

three years ago the smug repair

guy said I would be lucky with another

season. Maybe some things can last

longer than expected, like the oil that sparked

the Hanukah tale my mother told

when she lit candles and prayed, then died

exactly when her doctors predicted.

 

2.

Though I can’t sew, I long

to track down clothes

my mother bought me and

stitch them back—a patch over

the hole in the armpit, a new seam

in the crotch. How easily I once discarded

what was worn. The flowered

skirt with tulip buttons, gold-flecked

paisley jacket, countless pairs of jeans—

torn to rags or chucked into

the donation box. Like her letters,

heart-felt tomes I rushed through and

recycled, embarrassed, three thousand miles away,

eighteen and finally free. Her love

cloying, sticky. Not like the men

who would enter and leave me

back with myself, the drugs

which never lasted long enough. She was

always there—in my head, my

fear, my short legs. Fan

who treasured my terse

postcards. Background woman

I thought I could save for later.

___

Alison Stone is the author of Dangerous Enough (forthcoming from Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press 2014), From the Fool to the World (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is also a visual artist and the creator of the Stone Tarot.

Swimming with Frogs

By Alison Stone

Ripples connect us

in this bed of water.

Warm air thick from rain

obscures the stars.

 

Buoyed by darkness,

it is easier to speak

the shame our daylight faces

hide—prayer books

 

you burned, your mother’s

madness; my scarred arms.

Each story a small

warty fist unfurling.

___

Alison Stone is the author of Dangerous Enough (forthcoming from Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press 2014), From the Fool to the World (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is also a visual artist and the creator of the Stone Tarot.

Acceptable

By Alison Stone

1.

That’s unacceptable, my father barks

when I mention my toddler’s

biting. Well, she’s frustrated

 

and can’t…  He cuts me off.

Unacceptable. Just

unacceptable. The drumbeat of his voice

 

pounds, biblical. I stammer,

but the books say…, flimsy,

groundless as a corsage.

 

Unacceptable to Dad

when I was growing up:

noise, mess, backtalk, any type of lettuce

 

besides iceberg, lateness,

long hair on male heads

or female armpits,

 

mentioning the doors

my brother kicked in,

Democrats, dog sweaters, “Women’s Lib.”

 

A compulsive volunteer, my mother

socialized with women whose jewels and

houses made her voice shake.

 

Their daughters smirked at my

nameless jeans, changed tables

when I sat down. Mom told me

 

to wear make-up, braid my hair. I brought her

prizes and report cards, laid them at her feet

the way my cat delivers headless birds.

 

2.

My junior high school list

of how to deal with boys:

Never mention test scores.

 

Don’t correct them.

Curl and separate eyelashes.

Use small words.

 

You, my sister whispered,

can do better

when I brought my first love

 

home. Stiff in a cheap

new jacket, he hadn’t read

Homer, got pronouns wrong.

 

I can’t be in the Pretty Club

unless I cut my bracelets off,

my first grader announces, gesturing at

 

bands of braided thread her

favorite counselor tied around

her wrist at camp.

 

She’s mesmerized by

the mirror, keeps

changing her clothes.

 

3.

Recall after recall, the problem

isn’t that there’s lead

in children’s toys, cups, jewelry,

 

toothpaste, wax vampire fangs, and vitamins,

but rather that the amount of lead

exceeds what the U.S. government considers acceptable.

 

My younger daughter and I

make a list

of things to do with Mad:

 

tell someone about it,

draw a picture, bite

an apple, squeeze a doll.

 

Where her sharp teeth clamped,

my forearm reddens and swells,

infection spreading.

___

Alison Stone is the author of Dangerous Enough (forthcoming from Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press 2014), From the Fool to the World (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is also a visual artist and the creator of the Stone Tarot.

Intimacy

By Alison Stone

If you ask me again, I will tell you.

If you ask me with your sweet face

like a river, the words

will fly from my mouth.

 

Can you tolerate my fear of

the number six, of hospitals

and white horses, of babies

crawling endlessly across

 

my books? My fear that

I’ll become a woman in an apron stirring

nails into soup? Deep inside me

is a cocktail waitress

 

and a married man with thick

fingers waiting to stroke her breast.

Remind me

the worm in my heart is a dream,

 

as in my dream the first woman I loved

tells my brother I look terrible and should

stay in the house. Remind me

in my waking life she bent

 

down in a park in Canada, handed me

a blade of grass, whispered

I wish you everything.

We are walking on yesterday’s news:

 

Beyond Baseball Cards—Stores Sell

Human Bones as Collectibles. Three

skulls grin crookedly

beneath the headline. My longings

 

loop like ticker tape. Why tangle

yourself in my missteps and betrayals?

I can’t even defend the edges

of my body. The man pressing

 

my thigh in the subway causes me

to shrink like a frog’s muscle

hooked to wires in a lab. You tell me

you understand, that years ago in a barn

 

you unzipped yourself

into unbearable shame.

Every life has blood on its shirt.

Perhaps love is

 

finding a person to fill a hole

dug by somebody else.

Ask me again.

___

Alison Stone is the author of Dangerous Enough (forthcoming from Presa Press 2014), Borrowed Logic (forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press 2014), From the Fool to the World (Parallel Press 2012) and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award and was published by Many Mountains Moving Press. A licensed psychotherapist, she has private practices in NYC and Nyack. She is also a visual artist and the creator of the Stone Tarot.

Speedballs

By Hilary Sideris

A little Tuinal at tea time

or for breakfast on the road

 

helped with the lack of jam

& scones. I played for days

 

on downers, not for pleasure,

but to shift from shitty fame

 

to busy lull, till I discovered

speedballs: cocaine & heroin

 

to take you up, bring you

back down. I still can’t fathom

 

why Scotland Yard bothered

to tap our phones, plant acid

 

in our cars? Chasing a band

of tripping troubadours,

 

how fucking bored

were those coppers?

The Last Time

By Hilary Sideris

Brian played lead,

Vox white teardrop

 

& Fender amp,

the Wall of Sound.

 

Our first song with

a signature Stones riff,

 

it goes back to the dawn

of time, lucky for us—

 

we stole the chorus

from the Staple Singers,

 

gave the verse

a Teddy Boy twist.

 

Sonny Bono, working

for Phil Spector,

 

drove our limo

to the Biltmore.

Smack

By Hilary Sideris

Well, I could lecture you

on quality—or could’ve—

 

now my tips are obsolete.

I could implore you never

 

to try, trade in an outlaw’s

pride in being bad for

 

a knighthood. I’ll say what

Billy Bones said, begging

 

a child, against the doctor’s

orders, to bring rum: What

 

does a doctor know about sea-

faring men, who’ve been in

 

places hot as tar, the terra

firma heaving like the sea,

 

& mates dropping all round

from yellow jack, or hanged

 

& drying in the sun? What does

he know of lands like that?

 

 

Piyyut

By Michael Sandler

A dam of ignorance, deflecting. A brain-gray

Baffle between me and just one assuring truth,

Clouding, confounding. They ply easy faith,

Doubt-free Thomases, those Billy Graham

Evangelicals, then I look up and nurse

Forebodings of form vying with nothingness.

God I envy them—as I do the godless

Harping their song to a vacant universe.

 

I once ignored the gray. I bought in. I’d

Joke about oddball sects: Jews for Jesus,

Karaites, Essenes, would christen them meshugas.

Lord, you’d think voices had come to me at night.

Maybe a failure to give voice, but I think

Not: like old stars, the old proofs expand; then shrink.

 

Our towers once approached that heaven, ladders

Propped to a cloud. Now they tell us genesis

Questions span 14 billion light-years as

Random flickers and dark and anti-matter—

Space enough for a mere god not to be

Two places at once. We see a god cannot be

Unless with both emitter and viewer of light,

Verging on fount and finis of that light.

 

Where are apt words to apprehend it, a-

crostics to order it? Logos is word

Yoked to semblance of order till it spurs

Zealot psalm to barbaric phenomena—

Arresting the inward probe into long-implied

Alephs aswirl, detachments from Adonai.

___

Michael Sandler has other recent work appearing in Moment Magazine, Ducts, Off the Coast, The Puritan, Fourteen Hills, Peregrine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, California Quarterly, and NaturalBridge.

Dream Catcher

By Patty Dickson Pieczka

No silence falling

like snow to bury the path

home, no frost lacing

its wreath of chalk

and rubies, no unstrung cello

waiting in stillness,

 

only you singing to my ebbing

spirit, holding music

in your hands like moonlight

until trees made of marble

sway in the breeze, and stars,

flowing in the silky, black river,

ring their tiny prayer bells

as they spill over stones.

___

As the recipient of the Library of Poetry Book Award for 2012 from the Bitter Oleander Press, Patty Dickson Pieczka‘s second book, Painting the Egret’s Echo was published in 2013. Other awards include the 2010 Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award, first place in the ISPS poetry contest for 2012 in the free verse category, and a nomination for an Illinois Arts Council Award. She is the author of the book Lacing Through Time (Bellowing Ark Press, 2011), and a chapbook, Word Paintings, (Snark Publishing, 2002). She graduated from the Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University.  Writing contributions have appeared in many journals, including Bluestem, The Bitter Oleander, Blue Unicorn, Crab Orchard Review, Eureka Literary Magazine, Red Rock Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Willow Review, and The Cape Rock.

In the Wind

By Patty Dickson Pieczka

On that morning

of faceless clocks

and empty sleeves

 

his last breath left him,

flew from its wrinkled perch,

a butterfly leaving its chrysalis.

 

All day I sensed it near me:

light exhaling shapes

of shadows, thin silver points

 

skating across leaves,

breezes spilling designs

across a puddle.

 

I felt the soul of wind

whose stillness is an

inconsistency and change

 

the only truth a breath

can touch as it waves

through fingers of grass.

 

By evening

I could hear its whisper

in the voice of a shell.

___

As the recipient of the Library of Poetry Book Award for 2012 from the Bitter Oleander Press, Patty Dickson Pieczka‘s second book, Painting the Egret’s Echo was published in 2013. Other awards include the 2010 Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award, first place in the ISPS poetry contest for 2012 in the free verse category, and a nomination for an Illinois Arts Council Award. She is the author of the book Lacing Through Time (Bellowing Ark Press, 2011), and a chapbook, Word Paintings, (Snark Publishing, 2002). She graduated from the Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University.  Writing contributions have appeared in many journals, including Bluestem, The Bitter Oleander, Blue Unicorn, Crab Orchard Review, Eureka Literary Magazine, Red Rock Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Willow Review, and The Cape Rock.