The Wind

but the wind will come again…

…on altar walls blood-stained by stigmata on finger bones sticking out of grains on the wet scent of rosemary in an old man’s hand on palm fronds skinned for brooms

..on the sea scooped in a wife’s prayer seeking for a mask in blue whales supplications of dying roots the earth represses night eyes uncoiling vines on children’s cheeks

…in your hands a crosshatch of spider web sagged from the sun’s weight unrelenting darkness left for the lightning

on cracked cages the winded tongues unleashed

 

Alegria Imperial

The Wind

the date

he asks me about my father the pond steams rim to rim he tugs at his beard the cold tickles i can’t breathe among shadows he says I was a petal once scarred by stings and rain-pierced who are you he whispers his fingers pass through my ribs not there I say nor here.

sweeping foliage in the grumbling sky the wind

 

Alegria Imperial

the date

about the invisibles

the murmur between blades of sedge we cannot know. the scream of stones crushed in a cement mixer, too. a butter cup broken no matter how soft a baby’s hand. i crushed a spider egg on my giant nails yesterday. i know a hundred more embedded in the holly’s fibers invisible to me. yet tears drip on my stone heart. my cruel pretenses uncovered by an egg i splattered on boiling oil this morning. imagine the chirp i gobbled. would you think me weird if next time we meet i cackle? not to worry. i’ll take fertility pills to silence me. remain mute the better for clean air.

taken for a baby a cackling puppet

Alegria Imperial

about the invisibles

China Town

The guardian lions are slick and wet in the grey twilight. An old woman passes them with a slow, uneven gait, her mouth moving but her voice unintelligible. Across the street a young man speaks angrily to nobody in particular. Somewhere in the distance a man screams furiously, warning everyone within earshot that they are going to hell. As dawn lightens the grey clouds, shops begin to open one by one.

winter drizzle
the paranoid streets echo
lonely ghosts

Clayton Beach

China Town

Heterochromia

“Look at me,” he says, touching her cheek.
“Do I have to?” She says, peering at him over her shoulder. “I don’t really like it when people look into my eyes, you know. They’re always… scrutinizing”
“I won’t scrutinize,” he says, as he begins to do just that—searching the bewildering chaos of her gaze. Her left eye is green, dotted with sparks of maroon and gold, the right is a swirl of purple and chocolate. They simultaneously draw one in and keep one at bay. He is unable to see beyond the variegated colors, into the longing hollows of her pupils. She senses that he too is stuck in the foyer, as with all the others. She pulls away and lifts the dangling strap of her black cotton camisole.
“God, it’s useless. I’m a freak.”
“No, no. You’re so beautiful, I’m sorry.”
“I just, I should have never taken out my contacts.” She gets up from the bed and walks to the dresser, taking the contact lenses out of twin pools of solution and dabbing them back onto her eyes, blinking awkwardly.
“Look, forget I asked, come back here.” The young man gets up, puts his hands on her arms, pulls her in for a kiss, but she brushes him off curtly. She picks her jeans up off the floor and slips them on quickly, the cold denim presses against her warm sex achingly. She pushes him down onto the bed and he looks up at her, all muscles and dopey innocence in his boxer shorts. It’s no use. He’s gorgeous and stupid, and she’s so very horny.

a gust of wind sweeps the field of irises from the dimpled lake

 

Clayton Beach

Heterochromia

The Promise

 

In my rear view a Hyundai Accent ’98. The classic, silver one that everyone and their mother owned in the 2000’s. The guy driving is 35, give or take, the kind of shitface that could grant him pass to a Mexican Cartel no problem. Straight away I know he’s gonna tailgate me for no reason. I’m already going 90 miles on a road that’s up to 60.

No cars ahead on our lane. The opposite lane is full of cars returning from summer holidays. Families with happy, stuffed faces, their pets along. They keep coming and coming. He can’t get past me without a head-on collision.

Instinctively, I touch my jeans’ right pocket. The heavy duty padlock tied to a bandana is there. It’s always there. The concealed melee weapon I learned from German Hell’s Angels a few years back. But the knife is not where it used to be, under my seat. I promised her that I’ll be different. No more wrath, no more road rage. No more NASCAR style driving. The end with volatility.
And she’s sitting next to me. And she hasn’t realized what’s going on ‘cause I’m cool.

She’s talking about our booked trip to Berlin, four months from now, while looking out the window. It’s been about two minutes since I last said something in response. She’s happy, I’m happy. I try to keep my head straight. I breathe from the nose and I try to only look ahead.

But I fear this time it’s not going to work. I can feel the pre fight heat, the adrenaline rush I’m familiar with. I want to put him in the hospital. We ‘re headed for some nasty turns at high speed, with the guy stuck on my back. He’s cursing, the sound of his exhaust meant for another car getting uglier. He tries to overtake me from the right and I cut him off. I hit the brakes and he almost crashes upon us. He knows I’m fucking with him. His ego against my ego. She awakes from daydreaming. I tell her it’s ok, I’m calm, that’s it. And she believes me.

There are no cars on the opposite lane but I step on the gas pedal and I don’t let him pass. Left, right, I cut him off. He is foaming at the mouth. And I’m starting to feel the violence itch. More and more. He attempts a suicidal overtaking with a double decker bus closing in on the other side. All the while he’s cursing, lowered window, giving me the middle finger.

She’s getting afraid, I speed up until the very last second till he almost crashes with the bus. A school bus. She starts yelling at me, what are you doing, you gave me your word. That’s true. I gave her my word. Or else she leaves. Five years together, we ‘re going to get married. The word “word” snapped the reset in me.

I let him overtake and he disappears in the distance. I tell her I’m sorry, her hand in mine.

A few minutes later, the motherfucker is waiting in his car, stopped next to a barley field. I’m at a much lower speed now and he’s only 150 yards ahead. I try to think fast. He waves to me, come, come. He gets out. She asks me what he wants.

For a moment he bends over to the passenger seat and I know it in my guts that he’s reaching for a gun. It was a sawed-off shotgun.

broken glass your chest the deepest crimson

your parents my parents I lower my sight

Panagiotis Kentikelenis

The Promise

Growing Pains

The so-called vampire plague peaked in ’83. That is well-known. Fires burning outside cities like the funeral pyres of old. Families separated at safe points, quarantined until the test could be administered. Belief that hard-working vampires were the plague-bringers and not simply carriers of the recessive Galuse gene. Dark, unenlightened times, indeed.

Vampire rights activists hastened the transition to a more-civilized time through service programs like blood kitchens to feed now-homeless vampires, grassroots campaigning for the election of ’84, and ZND evening news’s meet-and-greets with local vampires. Why, I remember the 3rd shift nurse talking about her struggle to find another job after she was discovered to have fangs. 150 years of service to anyone in need of medical care. Fired and threatened with beheading. And who could forget those iconic pictures of Federy St. Clair pulling an old vampire out of an angry mob and cutting his own hand to help the old woman heal from her wounds?

Yet, after long-sought legislation finally passed, the road to equality has remained rocky, fraught with twisted ankles, skinned knees, and a few knocked out fangs. Such hardship to realize that all are created equal, no matter what one eats in one’s own kitchen. The new generation doesn’t remember fence-post hangings, disowning of kin, or the great plague that ravaged the Bay Area. It has the advantage of rights and acceptance as a given, but it has forgotten the vigilance required to retain the delicate peace. If we expect acceptance but do not give acceptance to others, we risk relapsing into the tales of tainted blood and bat bites.

the first golds of dawn
ignites a broken fence—
growing pains

Colleen M. Farrelly

Growing Pains