Francisco

by Laura Eppinger


Francisco Hernandez, seven
years old and a saint, I pray
he never changes.

One child has a tantrum
over snack choices, Cisco
administers a plush sea turtle. The storm
passes quickly. His stuffed squids
passed around the room, running
tentacles over train tracks, peeking dark
eyes out of Lego towers. I’d offer
up anything to know that Cisco will
have a life so full of adventure.

No one soothes like Cisco, the
outcast kids, the biters, the criers,
the ignored. A bright figurine moves
from one set of brown
hands to another—an iguana, a macaw,
a marmoset, a tree frog—miracles,
all. Before you can say abracadabra,
the tears melt away, as if unwept
and the kids who just can’t focus, play.

I want to tell him, Thank You,
for being so just, but
Cisco is busy beneath
the sea (underneath a table) and
I won’t pull him back to the classroom,
no, not yet.

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The Bridal Lament

by Zamira Rahim

Intimacy’s liquid tragedy, seeping
viscous kohl adornment. 
Soul wrapped at cusp with ma’s filigree veil
grand mater’s once; bought then beyond
virginal dawn unrelated to mark gleaming
upon collarbone. Begin -
 
a drunk boxed out of Delhi,
pawning twenty carat bangles for sampling claret
and cobalt, sweet of Eid. Middling -
father dearest. Slightest enunciation upward 
compelling maternal feet 
to run; voice filling physicality’s crevice.
Babe traced some invisible bruise,
a kiss into psyche.
 
And in the low light conspire
to spring a husband upon
prodigal, proverbial Nineteen. 
The ellipses of stories own
muffled by thought of blue moon reputation…
So conclude with me the coward, 
jaundiced eyes and jasmine hair prostrated
within bloodline trap.
Burn out all stars, scorch breeze ‘til silvered.
Listen. Hearts keen anew.
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Two Poems

by Harrison Parks

232

There is a sock store in downtown Tulsa called Picklesworth.
There are knee-high socks for women that can transform legs 
into number-two pencils, with erasers that skirt up against thighs.

There is a booze-soaked lady in town named Pennyworth.
She has uncanny ways to dominate and subdue those who
dare approach her, with tattoos that skirt down her bosom.

There was a street in Tulsa named for a man of little worth.
He had all the money one could ever count and littered
the street in the riot, with black bodies that skirt with death.

When everything falls away before us, we cling to our worth.
The tighter we hold each other, the faster the world will
crumble before us, with soft lines we play beneath your skirt.

231

Your mind is lightning --
It branches through the night
And the brilliant coruscation
Courses out to me.

Your heart is throbbing --
It pulses through your legs
And the deepest, reddest blood
Carries you to me.

Your eyes are piercing --
They call out in cold hues
But your softest, gentle face
Betrays you to me.

Your hands are mending --
They graze against my cheek.
Those sweetest, tender shocks --
Lightning, you & me.

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Like a bandage

by Jason Heroux

 

Like a bandage

the red traffic light



keeps changing

the red traffic light



keeps changing

and changing

like a bandage



on some wound

the red traffic light



keeps changing

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Madrid Before a Recession

by Ashleigh Rajala
 
the pavement throbs throbs throbs
but melts by night
a thousand suns a thousand guns will sleep
under its breast
in the air comes the stealth
a rabid heat
a cooling melody
an iambic attack to the skin
a shudder a shake
la bamba bedside manner
rap tap tap along a cast iron fence
masoned epicentres scrapbooked through history
thin horses fat pigs
black paintings white palace
the smoke is rising lifting clearing
burning el adios
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