M. Rather, Jr.
The Way She Perceives Them Has Much to
Do With Their Behavior
She sees young men pulling
their facial hairs, trying to fill
their patchy faces. She, and these
other women smile at fists, smile
at soft arm punches. The welts grow.
The young men’s wide stances,
she refuses to see how their feet
face forward and their shoulders
crack like oaks. She, and these
other women smile, pull back
pale lips, and are not offended
by the musk, tobacco leavings,
and beer spills. If the young men
were hunting, a silence would descend
upon them. Their ears would open
and their throats close. She knows
little of their silences, misunderstands
the thin eyes as sadness. She cannot
let them become men. Her arms
remember plastic dolls she would place
on the couch cushion and cover
in a food stained blanket.
Jr.’s work has appeared in Galleys Online, The Centrifugal Eye, Reed, A Generation Defining Itself V.7, Circus Diem:
Red White and Glue, Des Moines Register’s Artscene, 12th Planet, Idiolexicon, and Adagio Verse Quarterly.
He is currently pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing at McNeese State University where he also teaches composition.
the colour of the tikka
the weave of the sari
the occasion of the pilgrimage
or the twirl of the moustache
despite the flood of the
the drought of the Thar
or the avalanche
of the Himalaya
of the calloused fingers
that have raised a culture
milk and sugar
and crushed leaves
brought to a boil
within a steel pot
by an ointment
of a mass
and her tea
typically refers to British
Columbia’s Okanagan Valley
as his Canadian home. Nonetheless, he has traveled extensively both within Canada
and internationally, and most of his poetry, prose and short fiction is an extension of his excursions. His work has
appeared in Jones Av, Misunderstandings Magazine and Windfall.
the lost art of passing notes in class
They met in a chat
room connected to their school
after she broke up with her boyfriend
who only had a dial-up connection
and his girlfriend left him for a long
relationship that more
fit her profile
So with both their in-boxes
they fell in love upon noticing that
used the same font and the ring tones
on their phones
were recycled from the same website of
Soon they sent photos back and forth
discovered they had friends
with the same user names
Two weeks of texting led to x’s
at the end of electric sweet nothings
whispered in italics
Then during lunchtime they had problems
talking over tables as neither could
a clear signal
She wanted to meet him after school
after the bell rang
long after the buses rolled by
behind the baseball diamond
where they’d share their
But his battery died during recess and
instant message never reached him on
Dandridge lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. He received his M.F.A.
in poetry from Columbia College Chicago and his poems have been published in several literary journals and online zines.
Dad said there was
no future in farming
so he sent his sons
off to bag
groceries, stock produce,
burgers while his brother
and the bank
carved up the farmland
the white meat. We
and cattle, rice fields
We knew jeans and family,
to sundown, the names
of the people for whom
My brother put in thirteen
on the line before
by an elsewhere of
looser laws. I filled
a desk for nearly
a decade before standing
in front of one
myself. Once the bank
owned our land,
now we don’t
even have land
and yet the bank still
its heel on our throats.
CL Bledsoe is the author of two poetry collections, (Want/Need)
and Anthem. A third collection, Riceland, is forthcoming later this year. A chapbook, Goodbye To Noise,
is available at Right Hand Pointing. A minichap, Texas, is forthcoming from Mud Luscious Press. His story, Leaving the Garden,
was selected as a Notable Story of 2008 for Story South’s Million Writer’s Award. He is an editor for Ghoti Magazine. He blogs at Murder Your Darlings.
R Jay Slais
Another’s kiss has silenced your
so I must swallow everything,
a jug of wine, the salt of sea spray,
grains of sand, the lighthouse.
Your beacon shall soon become forgotten
like an encrusted bell, sunken and shape
now good for nothing but to be a home
for slime-skinned eels and bottom feeders.
The last tongue of spirit goes across
of the bottle as the wind’s solitude
its song on the empty cavern, a belfry
of hollow air.
It has been poured dry, into the tunnel
of black-water cave dwelling inside.
My heart is a drunkard of desire
drowning in a voyage of nostalgic voices.
A thirst for the outer waves may grow,
but the moon will hold them back.
They stay too far off to know
if their white caps are truly a incoming
or a cursed ripple of hope.
While immersed in the water,
glue that is meant to bind loosens,
as if peeling it away is a way of peeling
this layer of calloused skin.
Your label now removed, the bond eaten,
a naked start just like the night
our rain undressed the peaks of your
during the rise and sweat of wave migration.
I gave to you my dearest love poem,
now a scroll of tears, forced down into
this empty jug,
a cork on top to seal forever this moment
of letting go.
This message in a bottle can only be
through the window of curved glass in
I cast you out into these carnivorous
waters to be devoured,
call for the white caps to strike, the
waves to carry.
I will only remember you, as you were
before we existed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Some of R. Jay Slais’ recent publications include poems
at Barnwood, MiPOesias, Oranges & Sardines, The Pedestal Magazine , Rose & Thorn Journal, and Twisted Tongue. His first collection of poetry, Mice Verses
Man, is forthcoming in 2010 from Big Table Publishing, Newton, Massachusetts. A single father raising his
two children, R. Jay writes from his home in Romeo, Michigan, and makes a living as an engineer/inventor for
a Metro Detroit automotive supplier.