Poetry II
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Michael Dunn, Mask 4

Scott Owens


Deconstructing the Red Barn


Iconic red barn,

iconic blue sky,

winter trees full of air,

distant mist rising.


You might imagine

the happy cows lolling

toward home, the time

we’ve all been waiting for.


You might imagine

the cock atop the peak,

preparing his reveille,

his one useful trick.


You might imagine

horses hoofing hay,

waiting for darkness

to finish its nightly falling.


But in your metaphor

of romance and long gone

days, of mythical pasts

we’re supposed to long for,


where are the pre-teen boys,

sneaking out of their mother’s

kitchen with girly magazines,

fistfuls of cigarettes or chew?


Where is the red-cheeked

fumbling of clothes

between those

too young to know any better?


Where are the men sipping

‘shine, putting back the straps

of leather or wood used

to teach a thing or two?


Where are the children

nailed beneath floorboards,

the mothers hung

among the rafters?


Barns fall to ramshackle,

and then are resurrected

beneath a dream, a photo,

a coat of red paint.






Jimmy Ligon


He got paid in eggs, corn, homemade pies

more often than cash, a rare commodity

in any amount among the farmers

around Lake Greenwood, too poor to afford

a town doctor for fixing legs, lancing

infections, stitching sides gored by horn

or spur.  He rarely said anything about it,

thought his place was a dangerous one at best,

secured only by what he could do

and how many owed him.  They’d arrive

before a cloud of dust, most telling

children to stay put, then returning

to the truck themselves to wait.

Those who let their kids play in the woods,

unafraid of black skin touching white,

he trusted just a bit more, laughed

at their jokes, extended a hand,

looked them in the eye. Dirt track

running down to woods and water’s edge,

Old Man Garrison got plenty mad

when they paved it, put up that sign,

swore he’d never understand how the grandson

of a slave, his own daddy’s slave

at that, could have a road named after him.

Most had always called it Ligon Road,

as long as there had been a road,

after the black man at the water end

on land his daddy had gotten a piece

at a time in trade for a lifetime

of fixing Garrison mules, a man

whose skills learned from father and grandfather

brought more traffic that way than two miles

and two hundred years of white-owned houses.








First they blossom, large and clear,

pink as tongues, as hibiscus

in the morning, but quick they close,

night following so close

on daybreak’s first step.


Your fingers cannot pry them open,

will only break them off,

will only make them shudder

beneath the callous touch of making.


“You cannot stay here,” the voices say.

“All that we are will burn

your eyes to see, will turn

your mind to stone, will cause

your mouth to close on its own inadequacy.”


You see, but only a moment, a cloud

like a rose growing, one layer

after another unfolding until the pieces

fall off, petals in a mutilated garden.

You see the trumpet-tongues of lilies

straining to speak, each voice

a cat’s cry in darkness.  You see

bristled stalks of flowers dappled

in shadow, unsheathing yellow thorns.


You pause before them

and already you feel your own skin

laced with traces of history,

dark scars of the past, bright welts

of the future.  Already you feel

the claws of ever-smaller animals

scratching at your neck, at the base

of your skull, the corners of your eyelids.


All this runs like water through your fingers. 

What you try to keep sours, rises,

disgorges itself across your shirt,

lingers unseemly in your beard.


“It is not yours to keep.

It is not yours to claim

as some simple light

shining beneath the eyelids.”


“Don’t you understand,

you cannot stay here.

You’ll be like balsam, like clay,

like paper dolls before a fire.”




Author of five collections of poetry, Scott Owens is editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, author of “Musings” (a weekly column on poetry), founder of Poetry Hickory, Vice President of the Poetry Council of North Carolina, and a reviewer of contemporary poetry.  His work has received awards from the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Academy of American Poets, the NC Writers’ Network, the North Carolina Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina.  Born in Greenwood, South Carolina, he has lived in North Carolina for the past 25 years and currently teaches at Catawba Valley Community College.


Janice Pariat






for the longest time
I didn’t write about
you. your shabby
tin coat and peeling
lime-washed fingers.
the steps you took
down rainy streets
that grew heavier through
the ages, and shook
and settled vast concrete
blocks into place. Only
the hills beyond your
reach capture sunshine
in prism trees. You
are filled with dark
places; and rustlings
of violence shiver
down your streets
like autumn leaves,
they hunch beneath
broken lamps and mad
wires. While you rush
into a crystal ball future,
thinking you’re free
of the past, the drums
start on rooftops, calling
you back, and further
into a primeval place
of smeared blood and
petty jealousies. for
the longest time I
didn’t write about you.
your wrinkle-lined
face that stared hard
at the ground, soiled
with a thousand foot-
steps, beating you back.

Now, I follow your
traces, in dark alleys
and smoke-filled
tea shops where
your stories hide
like stricken animals.




Janice Pariat is a freelance writer now based in her hometown Shillong after many years of being away in Delhi and elsewhere. She studied English in St Stephen's College and Communications at Westminster, London. Janice is working on several projects – a graphic novel set in Shillong, a first novel as well as a collection of poems. Her poetry has appeared in several online journals including Ultraviolet, Soundzine and Tongues of the Ocean.



Ricky Garni





Let’s go out to the store
and buy you a bodice
Why? Because then we
can come back and I can
come in and take it off
and write it down, “It
was then that he removed
her bodice” I forgot what
she said then because I
couldn’t stop thinking of
the words ‘removed her
bodice’ Oh yes, now I
remember she asked me
where I left the poet and
I said I don’t know he’s
around here somewhere
the kitchen is always a
good bet. None of this
was a dream The fact
is I dream now that I
miss her but that’s 
the way dreams go
nowadays What’s THIS?
she says, grabbing my
pants It’s just a dream
go back to sleep I say
twenty years too late
and my bodice, your
bodice is in tatters:
perhaps even in flames!

I like to blame the poet
in the corner, holding
what looks like a giant
match Oh no it is
a viola Sure, like he
can play the viola And
now he’s messing around
with the embers He’s
dressed in black He couldn’t
be more than twenty And
now he’s got that stupid grin






with your left shoe

with your left shoe

you didn’t even have to think about it;
like running into a burning building when
you hear a cat meowing from within

I wonder if you would have done it before
you had that blackberry mojito

you have a beautiful singing voice,
but he will never know that

I only would have been worried
if you had jumped up and down
with both feet

“The insecticide won’t do,”
you said. “And the house will carry
the aroma of clove cigarettes, lingering”

It’s funny that we were just talking
about reincarnation

yiddish for: “soul condemned to wander
for a time in this world because of its sins.”

It’s not as funny that we
were just talking about
Milton Berle

I wish I could say that it was
Kafka’s birthday, but it was

It was Judy Holliday’s birthday: IQ: 174

I love me some Blossom Dearie: IQ: unknown

me, too. I like being with you, too.
Life is so mysterious and unpredictable.

13: NO
I wonder if a cockroach ever thinks
about how mysterious and unpredictable
life can be.

now that it is all over,
how about a kiss?

let’s leave our shoes
out here by the stoop
let them cool and dry
in the buttery night air,
rich and moist with death



Ricky Garni is a graphic designer and bicycle collector living in Carrboro, North Carolina. His work has been published most recently in Pank, Medulla Review, Shampoo, The Bicycle Review, Prick of the Spindle, and other venues. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations and one Pushcart Honorable Mention. His most recent work is Telefricassee, an episodic roux that blends story lines from 50 different sitcoms into 101 poems.



Grace Andreacchi



Sonnet for Isabella


A one-eyed butterfly fell

from the hammersmith flyover

crumpled on broken knees crawled

away - a tale for gondoliers to warble

on lurid nights once the money’s gone

nicrophorus vespillo a parasitic beastie

feeds on the bodies of others flies

towards the light - Impact!

right into a truck but now it seems

she’s still breathing through those red lips

exotic fruit beginning to rot badly

molting bird a few parts broken

DRINK ME – it says on the label


for the funeral the lady shall have a new hat



Grace Andreacchi is an American-born novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Elysian Sonnets. Her work appears in Horizon Review, The Literateur, Cabinet des Fées and many other fine places. Grace is also managing editor at Andromache Books and writes the literary blog Amazing Grace. She lives in London.



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