They couldn’t wait to get out of that garden, tedious days with no TV, no internet, only the drone of bees and a few stupid birds keeping them awake at night. Besides you can only fuck so much. They packed their sandals and fig leaves, grabbed a few apples and strolled past the gate, mumbling good riddance to the snoring God surrounded by empty bottles of ambrosia.
God needs people to think he kicked them out,
so he can hang onto his omnipotence and his
followers will continue to sing alleluias and put
cash in collection plates. But if you listen you can
hear God stomping about his garden in a total snit,
grumbling to the snake about the couple’s lack
of gratitude and how much he misses them.
They bought a condo in the city, went to concerts and French restaurants, had close calls with cancer (him) and kidney disease (her). Death riding on their shoulders, whispering in their ears. They took their grandkids to Disney World, watched them ride roller coasters, hands held high and stuff clouds of cotton candy into eager mouths. Then they tucked them in at night, enjoying every precious moment, aware of the tapping on their shoulders and the soft urgency of life.
Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam, and Healing Muse, among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.
Multi-Tasking by Lauro Palomba
Strolling through sliding glass doors. Impersonating patrons. Three blue officers in knee-length shorts. Gun-adorned belts, assorted accoutrements of order. Often summoned here. Today, their own initiative. Eyes scooping up faces. Dragneting. Bail jumpers. Warrant dodgers. Trial absentees. Any other lucky find.
The computer banks a rich catch zone. The weary homeless. The criminally convicted, idle, disposed. The uniquely unsound. A verbal piscary to fill the daily quota of foul speech. A fish fry party din. Air-conditioned chatter. Airy hopes. Smartphone disputes all can judge. Personal food courts at each desk. Mouths. Fingers dipped in salty chips. Oozing butter tarts. Meaty buns. Applied to keyboards. Flavouring them for future users. While screens explode. Flash. Amuse the arcade minds.
Last stop. Bathroom. Occupied by emptied beer cans. A needle that shirked the disposal bin; soiled paper towels by the trash can. Soapy counters. Officers going. Hunches unrewarded. Next time.
For these wonders, children brought along. Shrieking infants. Story hour. Instill the habits early.
Movies and music scanned. Carried out. In the low-volume spaces, books shelved. Untouched like yearning virgins. Keen with words rendered dumb.
A library demoted. Degraded. Social crumbling catchall. Netting for the falling bodies. Someone sanctioned this. Underwrote these values.
Lauro Palomba has taught ESL and done stints as a freelance journalist and speechwriter. Approximately ninety of his poems and stories have appeared in American and Canadian literary journals.
Crying Añya by Les Bares
Remember the night we parked in the alley behind your grandmother’s house, the kitchen window, the cathode light from the black and white TV, and how we mimicked your grandmother cheering for the wrestler, Reggie “The Crusher” Lisowski, waving her tiny clenched fist uppercut. We laughed ourselves into our own desperate embrace, clasped in a bear hug of polarized electrostatic discharge. I showed you my best moves, a frantic knee lift over the stick shift progressing into a scissors hold, the gear knob delivering a low blow to my midsection. And how, after a prolonged front facial you executed a deft duck under into a modified figure-four-leg-lock, pinning me against the door. Clumsily I reached under your blouse hoping for a takedown, and just as I was about to undo the final hook of your bra and apply the patented dragon-screw-leg-whip, your Grandma Añya rapped hard on the steamed windshield, yanked open the car door and from your lap I fell, head down on the pavement between her feet answering to the accusing eye-gouging finger of Añya, the four foot ten inch wrath of God. And from there, the view up her skirt, past the drooping support hose, past the varicose veins to her white boxer shorts, and back to her prayer calloused knee that dropped down across my chicken neck. I remember her face, the high cheek bones drawn in a grimace, her squinting eyes, and her raspy voice, her words just like The Crusher’s, "How ‘bout dat!" as I cried, "Añya, for mercy’s sake, Añya."
Les Bares lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poems have appeared in The Cream City Review, Stand Magazine (U.K.), Spillway, The Midwest Review, Southword (Ireland), Slipstream, The Tishman Review and other journals. He won the 2018 Princemere Poetry Prize and was the third place winner of the 2015 Streetlight Magazine poetry contest.
mother said you couldn’t come, that she was sad you wouldn’t make it, that you were held up at work, there would be leftovers in the fridge for you, she said you were held up at work or drinking, she said don’t set the table for you, it’s a waste of a clean dishes, not licked clean again like a new woman, mother said you couldn’t come and she was sad, you were held up at work or with her, i would do all the dishes myself this time and show you i can be a big boy i promise, if you were here and not with her or at work or held up, mother is sad, she made a meal for you and you couldn’t care enough to make it home, mother said you wouldn’t come back and you didn’t.
Jason B. Crawford is black, bi-poly-queer, and a damn force of nature. In addition to being published in online literary magazines, such as High Shelf Press, Wellington Street Review, Poached Hare, The Amistad, Royal Rose, and Kissing Dynamite, he is the Chief Editor for The Knight’s Library. His chapbook collection Summertime Fine as a Short List selection for Nightingale & Gale. Jason is also the recurring host poet for Ann Arbor Pride.
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