emotions-sadness
RAPUNZEL’S BIRTH MOTHER
by Gabriella M. Belfiglio

All I wanted was some lettuce.
The way it grew on the other side
of that large wall in her paradise
so fresh, so green, so wide
and curly at the top. Rows of them
like snug babies—her yard a nursery.
There must have been something different
my husband could have done—less cursory.

I rarely leave our cottage now.
I cannot bear to see all the crisp babies,
growing legs hardly able to balance on the ground.
Even the new princess has three,
their hair looks soft as spun gold.
The exact pale shade as my own.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I began to read translations of the original Brothers Grimm fairytales, and became intrigued with how much had been changed in the process of becoming Walt Disney Movies. It inspired me to create my own version of some of the tales.

IMAGE: “Sadness” by Erté (1892-1990).

G. Belfiglio_ Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Gabriella M. Belfiglio lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her partner and three cats. She teaches self-defense, conflict resolution, karate, and tai chi to people of all ages throughout the five boroughs. Most recently, Gabriella won second place in the 2014 W.B. Yeats Poetry Contest. Gabriella’s work has been published in many anthologies and journals including VIA, E*ratio, Challenger International, Radius, The Centrifugal Eye, Folio, Avanti Popolo, Poetic Voices without Borders, C,C,&D, The Avocet, The Potomac Review, Eclectica, Lambda Literary Review, The Monterey Poetry Review, and The Dream Catcher’s Song.

maria_pace_wynters
DEATH OF THE FROG PRINCE
by Jan Steckel

The frog prince used to read Pynchon
in the bath while devil duckies held court.
Overhead hung a bicycle of Damocles.

That Jungian Quebecois therapist of his
showed up just in time to be his psychopomp,
guide his soul across the river.

Spooky, how the psychologist’s
smile radiated as he whispered
in the dying man’s ear.

What did he say? “Go toward the light.
This is the last visit Medicare will pay for.”
The man stopped breathing that same hour.

His hand lay in his lover’s, the way
he had wanted it. The way she had wanted it.
Peaceful. Luminous. Numinous.

The therapist drove her home.
She fed the cat, gave it the dead man’s
hospital gown to sniff.

The woman lay down in the lily pad
where the man’s body had lain.
His pillow smelled like rain.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Death of the Frog Prince” is based on the Brothers Grimm tale of The Frog Prince and his princess.

IMAGE: “The Frog Prince” by Maria Pace-Wynters. Prints available at etsy.com.

STECKEL

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jan Steckel’s full-length poetry book, The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011), won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her story Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) won the Gertrude Press fiction chapbook award. Her chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) was voted First Place in the lesbian and bisexual poetry division of the Rainbow Awards. Her creative writing has appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, Red Rock Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. Her short story collection Ghosts and Oceans is seeking a publisher.

excalibur-in-the-lake.jpg!HD
EXCALIBUR
by Lawrence Schimel

He ordered a Shirley Temple at
the restaurant. “Think you’re old enough to drink that?”
his father asked him
when the drink arrived, a blue plastic sword hooked over its rim.
“Don’t say that. You’ll ruin his birthday night.”
Already they had begun to fight.
He swirled the cherry in his drink, feeling very alone.
“Who pulls this sword from stone
and anvil,” he thought,
trying not to listen as his parents fought,
“by sign and right of birth is king of all England.”
He lifted the garnish in his hand
and tugged the cherry from the plastic sword.
It did not end their discord;
the restaurant table was square.
The cherry plunked back into his drink, loosing the tiny air
bubbles on the bottom of the glass.
It reminded him of a summer’s day at camp when en masse
his bunk went down to the lake to jump
into the water from a rope tied to a tree. Standing on a stump
on the shore
he saw a glint of metal, like the flash of ore
in a miner’s pan.
He waded into the water for a closer look and, breaking the ban,
swam out towards the girls’
camp on the other side. Diving deep, as if he searched for pearls,
he found the source of the glinting light:
an open blade of a Swiss Army Knife held tight
in the hand of a blonde-haired
girl. Although he was scared,
he could not help
watching the way her hair curled about her like strands of kelp
reaching for the surface.
Her face
seemed so serene.
He could not tell if the keen
blade were meant to cut her free
from the rocks she
was tied to, or to slit her wrist.

He stabbed at the lemon twist
of his mother’s diet coke.
His father pulled out a pack of Lucky’s and began to smoke.
His mother glared and looked about to
object, but didn’t get the chance. His father asked him, “What do
you want for your birthday?” He laid the sword atop
his plate and said, “I only want the fighting to stop.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I think that so many of us, particularly when feeling helpless, have daydreamed of what it might be like to do something so seemingly simple as to pull the sword from the stone and thereby acquire both authority and power. For this poem, originally written for a collection of short stories about the sword Excalibur, I tried to imagine an Excalibur that would be different, a story not everyone else would be writing about, so I chose the little plastic sword in a cherry of a Shirley Temple. From there, I tried to transpose various other elements of the King Arthur myth (the Lady of the Lake, etc.) to the situation of a young boy and why he felt so helpless so as to need that daydream right then…

IMAGE: “Excalibur in the Lake” by Aubrey Beardsley (1894).

Lawrence Schimel 2014

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Lawrence Schimel (b. New York, 1971) writes in both English and Spanish and has published over 100 books as author or anthologist, including two poetry chapbooks in English, Fairy Tales for Writers and Deleted Names (both from A Midsummer Night’s Press), and one poetry collection in Spanish, Desayuno en la cama (Egales). He has twice won the Lambda Literary Award (for First Person Queer and PoMoSexual: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality), as well as the Independent Publisher Book Award, the Spectrum Award, and other honors. His stories and poems have been widely anthologized in The Random House Treasury of Light Verse, The Random House Book of Science Fiction Stories, The Mammoth Book of Fairy Tales, Chicken Soup for the Horse-Lover’s Soul 2, The Incredible Sestinas Anthology, Weird Tales from Shakespeare, and many others. He lives in Madrid, Spain where he works as a Spanish->English translator.

treebeard
OFFSPRING OF TREEBEARD
by Debi Swim

Do trees still have a language,
ancient as time, languid
as a cat’s stretch or a yawn?
Does it take them all day
a simple phrase to say
or quicker than fades the dawn?
Are their thoughts deep and old
wordless, unknown, untold
to men from which they’ve withdrawn?
When did they stop walking,
roaming the earth, stalking,
avenging evil? Have they all gone
under a magic spell
or succumbed to the death knell
and cemeteries of manicured lawns?

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I don’t even know how many times I’ve read or listened to The Hobbit, but it is my favorite book in the Ring series. The Ents in Lord of the Rings captured my imagination so that now even as an old lady I love trees and pretend they can understand me talking to them, though I don’t understand their replies when the breeze carries their voices.

IMAGE: “Treebeard” by Alessandra Cimatoribus.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debi Swim is a post-it poet who frequents Internet poetry blogs to dine on their scrumptious prompts and to partake of others’ delicious offerings of meat, potatoe,s and desserts — a smorgasbord of tasty, soul satisfying nourishment. She lives in West Virginia with her husband and a yorkie named Rivers.

tolkien_art
A HOBBIT’S HAIKU
by Sarah Chenoweth

Sage comes to small folk;
four leave to save Middle Earth.
Party of nine quest.

Trouble in Mordor;
evil wizard plots ruin.
Good wizard meets end.

Battle in the plains;
good sage now the White Wizard.
Hobbits ride in trees.

Two to destroy ring
followed by shell of a man.
Two fight in Gondor

Good outdoes evil;
the rightful king returns home.
Wise men sail away

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “A Hobbit’s Haiku” is, of course, inspired from the mythology created by J. R. R. Tolkien. The challenge of summing up three epic volumes in five simple haikus could not be passed up.

IMAGE: “The Trolls” by J.R.R. Tolkien, featured in the book J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (Mariner Books, 2001).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Chenoweth is a teacher, a writer, and a spiritual seeker. She has been published in Pittsburg State University’s Cow Creek Review and the academic journals Communication Theory and Rhetoric & Public Affairs. Sarah is a registered yoga teacher and the owner of Balanced Yoga Life, LLC in Pittsburg, Kansas. She has always loved fairy tales, having spent the better part of her life living one.

sasha_keen
The 13th Sign of the Zodiac
by Trish Hopkinson

Those born under this sign
have an unknown date of birth or a different birthday
than the day upon which it is celebrated.
Ambiguus tend to be travelers,
truth-sayers, and meditators.
Often encompassed in the uncertainty
of their birth history, they are accepting,
nonjudgmental, and kind.
They have a taste for bread, seafood, and wine.
Not horribly good swimmers,
they prefer walking in open-toed shoes.
Ambiguus are luminous leaders
and are commonly followed by friends,
a dozen or so. Ambiguus love little children
and are regularly religious.
Today may be the day
to discover your birthday, but only
if you are brave enough to turn over
the dust on your tongue and slide it
along molar and fang, scraping
away your own existence.
With the new moon just past,
mystery will reveal itself beneath
your nails and tug at your hair
with unusual force, urging you toward
distant constellations and unknown worlds.
Pack lightly or pack nothing.
It’s a virtuous day for beard shaving.

IMAGE: “Theda Da” by Sasha Keen. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

trish_hopkinson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trish Hopkinson loves words and digs poetry slams. Her mother tells everyone that she was born with a pen in her hand. She has been published in several journals, including The Found Poetry Review, Chagrin River Review, and Touchstones, the latter in which she won second place for poetry twice. She recently received awards in the Utah Arts Festival’s IronPen competition and from the League of Utah Writers for her poetry anthology, Emissions. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures at trishhopkinson.com.

project_bunny
E-MAILS FROM THE SPHINX
by Michael Cantin

E-mails from the Sphinx are rarely short.
They are couched in mystery:
weighty with the levity of ancient dust
and notoriously sartorial.

I sent my letter because
she refuses to use Facebook.
Says she has privacy concerns.
That she doesn’t appreciate
the oblique commentaries
of passive-aggressive mortals.

I just wanted to check in on her.
To see if the years had been kind.
I hoped they had.
I spoke plainly of my many misdeeds.
I apologized for the cruelty
of the desert between us.
I bemoaned having distorted her face.

Her response came in riddles:
enigmas wrapped in metaphor.
Her rage bottled tightly
in antediluvian canopic jars.

She teased at the answers
as she challenged my resolve.
Something was mentioned about Geb and Nut,
and how I was so unlike Osiris
that we couldn’t possibly be brothers.

IMAGE: “Theda Bara Sphinx” by Project Bunny. Prints available at etsy.com.

MichaelCantin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Cantin has survived two wars and at least four seasons of Breaking Bad, so you know he means business. His work has appeared in 50 Haiku, The East Jasmine Review, and Melancholy Hyperbole, among others. Residing in Costa Mesa, California, he writes fitfully between bouts of madness and periods of lucid concern. He would love to buy you a drink sometime. He’s just that kind of guy.

leda_daVinci
NEOPHYTE AND THE SWAN
by Donna Hilbert

He shattered her glass
climbing over the table
to kiss her, that hot afternoon,
when she quoted his poem over wine.
It was free verse, abstract in part,
and difficult, he knew,
committing it to heart.
They kissed the afternoon away,
and on the drive back, kissed
through every stop sign and red light.
Between the kisses
he smoked a cigarette.
And, what she failed to reconcile
about that day, was the casual way
he tossed the ember from the window,
considering how hot and dry the summer,
how much fuel there was to burn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Neophyte and the Swan” is from my collection The Congress of Luminous Bodies. It is a tip of the hat, of course, to “Leda and the Swan” by William Butler Yeats and the myth from which that poem comes.

IMAGE: “Study for the Head of Leda” by Leonardo da Vinci (1506).

donna

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Hilbert’s latest book is The Congress of Luminous Bodies, from Aortic Books. The Green Season, World Parade Books, a collection of poems, stories and essays, is now available in an expanded second edition. Hilbert appears in and her poetry is the text of the documentary Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story, a Christine Fugate film. Earlier books include Mansions and Deep Red, from Event Horizon, Transforming Matter and Traveler in Paradise from PEARL Editions and the short story collection Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them from Staple First Editions and published in England. Poems in Italian can be found in Bloc notes 59 and in French in La page blanche, in both cases, translated by Mariacristina Natalia Bertoli. New work is in recent or forthcoming issues of 5AM, Nerve Cowboy, PEARL, RC Muse, Serving House Journal, Poets & Artists and California Quarterly. She is a frequent contributor to the online journal Your Daily Poem. Her work is widely anthologized, most recently in The Widows’ Handbook, Kent State University Press. Learn more at donnahilbert.com.

persephone_rossetti
theft of the pomegranate
by J.I. Kleinberg

as the full moon slips between the ocean’s knees

Persephone spills garnets
into a lapis bowl

crunches a single red jewel
between her teeth

crimson light flooding her mouth

moistens a silken sable brush
on her reddened tongue

and inscribes
her calculus of betrayal
on crinkled parchment

illustrating
cochineal corrugations

exhorting
cyclamen overtures

confessing
pomegranate lust

unfurling
the ruddy arabesques of Hades’ desire

IMAGE: “Persephone with pomegranate” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1882).

ji_kleinberg1 ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.I. Kleinberg is an artist, poet, and freelance writer. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and her poem “Better Homes & Gardens” was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize. Her work on a series of found poems, now numbering over 700, is featured in the current issue of Whatcom Magazine and samples of her found poems can be seen in the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Truck, Silver Birch Press May Poetry Anthology, and Star 82 Review. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, blogs at chocolateisaverb.wordpress.com and doesn’t own a television.

atalanta_godward
INSTRUCTING ATALANTA
by Sonja Johanson

Listen to mother.
Leave those apples lie.
You cannot eat them,
they will only take up space
on your mantle, too dusty
to glitter anymore.
Or else you can eat them,
but what is that to you?
Three apples are a mean meal.
Then too, you may think them
too precious for the table
and wake one day to find them
withered to nothing,
or slumped with rot.

Never throw the race.
Better yet, win them all.
Who ever said you had to lose?
Keep the kingdom for yourself.
Never marry, be your own sovereign.
Take a consort, no – take a dozen.
Raise up a generation
of fleet-footed queens
who tend to their own
glimmering orchards.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a reflection of the difficulty I have always had accepting the misogyny inherent in patriarchal myths. I remember, as a girl, feeling betrayed that the wonderful heroine Atalanta had allowed Hippomenes to outrun her, and that everyone looked at this as a good thing. Every girl should win her own race. This poem is a message to my younger self, my own daughter, and all the other young huntresses out there.

IMAGE: “Atalanta” by John William Godward (1908).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has recent work appearing in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, and was a participating writer in Found Poetry Review‘s 2014 Oulipost Project. Sonja divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

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