First, I want to recognize the nominees for a couple prestigious awards:
2018 Puschcart Prize
“Latch Lock & Chain” Marge Simon Issue 37: Feb 2018
“The Light in the Window” Marge Simon Issue 38: May 2018
“The Valley of Dry Bones” Corrine De Winter Issue 38: May 2018
“Perseids” Ann Thornfield-Long Issue 39: Aug 2018
“I had once built a birdhouse” Nikhita Kokkirala Issue 39: Aug 2018
“For The Man That Makes Me Smoke” Aleczandria Yeager Issue 40: Nov 2018
2018 Best of the Net
“Settling on Mars” by Marge Simon Issue 35: Aug 2017
“You lean into this tree as if its roots” by Simon Perchik Issue 35: Aug 2017
“Robot Motivation” by Ken Poyner Issue 37: Feb 2018
“Howl” by Ann Thornfield-Long Issue 37: Feb 2018
“Oumuamua” by Lauren McBride Issue 37: Feb 2018
“The Book of Eve” by Corrine De Winter Issue 38: May 2018
Second, please enjoy another group of talented poets for the November 2018 issue (40) over the Thanksgiving holidays:
Nothing’s afraid of him.
Look at the blue jay stealing
his straw for the nest.
No reason to be scared of tomorrow
while today grows sky high.
Then they mow his field.
Set fire to his forest.
Disappear down a maze of streets
hidden in the haze.
Now the mountain looms
beyond charcoal trees
and time unwinds tomorrow’s ties.
Crying with laughter he stands,
walks, jogs through the blister.
Vanishes in the smog.
I want to call out to him
but my voice is tinder.
I want to give chase
but my limbs would catch fire.
Maybe his tears will save him.
Paul Sherman is a recluse living in the mountains of western North Carolina. He reads his poetry to the forest that creeps close to his house. He carries binoculars to view the warblers that sometimes appear in the trees to listen. His work has yet to be found.
Editor’s Note: A scarecrow (pngtree)is combined with an apocalyptic scene from a French site: L’apocalypse. La fin du monde.
I can’t see too far past my own broken nose without my glasses,
but I know exactly who pulls up in the driveway,
The bud of my Marlboro Ultra Light 100
wheezes into my lap,
makin’ the other holes in my jeans look like a pattern.
I don’t mind.
They’re not the only genes of mine
that come with holes and ashes in ’em.
Barkley’s work boots slap dirt down
on the porch that he knows I’ve swept, today,
as he grunts “Supper done?” in my direction.
Would he come home if it wasn’t?
The shutters on the outside of the windows need a new coat
of magnolia-colored paint.
There’re chips sneaking down the wood,
and baring our poor to every vacuum and carpet cleaner salesman
that makes the mistake of picking our porch.
By this time at night,
Mama’s already in bed
in her faded pink muumuu
and praying that her daughter comes to her senses.
She’s optimistic that one day
I won’t love a man whose licks sting less
than the silver spittle on his chin,
that one day I’ll kick my smoking habit in the ass,
and hold my Tesla lighter to Barkley’s greasy flesh.
But she knows me better.
She knows that the second my flame took,
I’d throw my body on top of him
like a smother blanket
hugging the heat to death
to save a man who would gladly
barbecue his meals on my bones.
The screen door jitters shut
as he leaves me with my coping cloud.
Desperate, I drag out my last glow
and place the remains in the flea market, crystal ashtray.
My battered body stands and turns me towards the door,
towards the kidney bean filled chili I made for supper,
towards the dinner party that I throw, nightly, for silence,
towards cleaning plates and pans as quietly as possible
because the clinking gives him a “goddamn headache,”
towards one more cold night next to a mistake
next to a choice
next to the temptation to light up another Marlboro
and tap the ashes
onto the “highly flammable” warning label sewn into his pillow.
— Alecz Yeager
Alecz Yeager is a 22-year-old writer from South Carolina. She is currently finishing a BA of English at Winthrop University. She has previously had a prose piece published by Soft Cartel. Her poetry style is often narrative and tells some sort of short story. Her passion for writing stems from her belief that stories are what guide every new generation. Stories are what carry on the memories of the past.
Editor’s Note: I had photographed the flames in a fire ring on Halloween night (at a local microbrew in Knoxville, TN). The image I imagine in the fire, pareidolia, is spooky, a demon-angel on fire, or some other sinister creature aflame. It is fitting for the piece.
Wild sea breeze on our skins,
We carve your name in sand
Remembering you fondly
While sipping milkshakes
On the beach where
We misspent our youth
Dreaming about motorcycles
And beautiful girls.
Your voice like a boombox,
Your love for Vivaldi.
Your three angels
Always orbiting you
Around their dazzling star.
Your brilliant career,
Setting you up for life.
The house on the hill,
The fast cars, all yours at 22.
Your love for good brandy
And fine company.
How you died—
Forever a mystery.
We burn what remains of you
On the sun-scorched sand.
The clouds shift,
Forming dark dragons.
Christina Sng is the Bram Stoker Award and Elgin Award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares and Astropoetry. Her work has appeared in numerous venues worldwide, including Apex Magazine, Cricket, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, New Myths, and Polu Texni. Visit her at http://www.christinasng.com.
Editor’s Note: The image of the Dust Angel Nebula, by Rogelio Bernal Andreo, an award winner astrophotographer, http://www.deepskycolors.com/), appeared as the Astronomy Picture of the Day (April 28, 2016):
“The combined light of stars along the Milky Way are reflected by these cosmic dust clouds that soar some 300 light-years or so above the plane of our galaxy. Dubbed the Angel Nebula, the faint apparition is part of an expansive complex of dim and relatively unexplored, diffuse molecular clouds. Commonly found at high galactic latitudes, the dusty galactic cirrus can be traced over large regions toward the North and South Galactic poles. Along with the refection of starlight, studies indicate the dust clouds produce a faint reddish luminescence, as interstellar dust grains convert invisible ultraviolet radiation to visible red light. Also capturing nearby Milky Way stars and an array of distant background galaxies, the deep, wide-field 3×5 degree image spans about 10 Full Moons across planet Earth’s sky toward the constellation Ursa Major.”
From a dense blue jungle
the seed from which I grew
was transported by a wandering bird
to a place where I could be, alone.
Stones continually roll from above
creating with the rustle of my leaves
a false sound of voices.
I imagine another, brothersister,
with me here on the steep edge of winter.
But storm and snow break my branches;
my leaning and reaching are unrequited,
and my flowers die sterile.
I wait for each sunrise
on a cliff whose cracks are widening.
Every gust of wind deconstructs
my departure and the hunger of roots
thins toward an impenetrable cistern
of dreams. I come nearer
to the abyss.
J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com), and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. She has competed at National Poetry Slam as a member of the Madison, WI, Urban Spoken Word team. Her work appears irregularly in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest and the 2018 SFPA Elgin Chapbook Award.
Editor’s Note: Image of blue forest is from Desktop Nexus.
And Galileo’s seismic moon conveys
Our keen belief that children’s traits align
With names their sires assign. If with one phrase
Your namesake set a Greek god’s heart ablaze
And reigned as Jove’s volcanic satellite,
We know her name will likewise raise
You toward unparalleled allure and might.
May magma stir your blood and gadflies never bite.
— Mindy Watson
Mindy Watson is a Washington, DC/Northern Virginia-based formal verse poet who holds an MA in Nonfiction Writing from The Johns Hopkins University. Her poems have appeared in venues including Eastern Structures, Quarterday Review, Poetry Porch, Snakeskin, Star*Line, Think Journal, and many others. You may read her work at: https://mindywatson.wixsite.com/poetryprosesite
Editor’s Note: This homage to the Galilean moon, Io, is written as a Spenserian stanza (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spenserian_stanza). The accompanying image is a superposition of an active volcano and Jupiter as viewed from Io (with some artistic license), both from Pinterest. Io is the most volcanically active body in our solar system.
Our last star went out so long ago.
The night sky misses her diamonds.
We huddle around the gnawing
radiation of a dying black hole,
final relics of life, spindly sentinels
to stand vigil over the corpse
of the universe
There is only enough fuel
to light our furnace once.
All the fire that remains in the universe
can ignite a single star for a little while,
or burn our escape from pitiless night.
The pearls all begin to glow
along our necklace of 500 million miles.
And as one, the lasers fire from every link.
Gold chains all come together
at a single point in the center
of the black velvet—
all the beams growing so hot and so bright
that no wall can withstand
our final breath.
Zero clicks to one
and we are born again
as whispers in a new universe
filled with light.
— Vanessa Kittle
Vanessa Kittle is a former chef and lawyer, who now teaches English. She lives in New York with her partner and two cats. Vanessa recently was published by Akashic Books, and has two collections with the March Street Press. She has appeared in magazines such as the Rhysling Anthology, Abyss and Apex, Contemporary American Voices, Dreams and Nightmares, Star*Line, and Silver Blade.
Vanessa edits the Abramelin Poetry Journal. She enjoys watching cheesy movies, cooking, gardening, and Star Trek!
The last bird on Earth
nudged her new dead chick.
It had been so strong,
then the white spots came,
just like she had seen
on her beloved.
She left the dry nest,
perching on a rail
hot with rusty scabs.
With a ruthless glare
through the silent road’s
She sang her last song.
— Mickey Kulp
Mick Kulp is a writer, father, and effing bug slayer who is not allowed to buy his own clothes. His creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous consumer magazines, newspapers, literary journals, and three books of poetry. His recent publications are found in Assisi Journal, Gravel, Torrid, Literary Orphans, Yellow Chair Review, Silver Blade, Illumen, Haiku Journal, Broke Bohemian, Chantwood, Folded Word, Georgia’s Emerging Writers, and Gyroscope Review. His complete portfolio can be seen here: http://mickeykulp.pbworks.com). He is a member of the Gwinnett County Writers Guild and founding member of the Snellville Writers Group. In 2018, he created the ‘Books and Beer’ reading series to benefit the local food co-op.
He lives with his wife and a dozen larcenous squirrels in Atlanta, GA. His next book is coagulating nicely.
Editor’s Note: The superimposed images of a songbird (from Daily Mail Online) and an apocalypse background (from https://pokeheroes.com/forum_thread?id=32225), echo the irony in the poem. The melancholy is accentuated by the pentasyllabic lines.