Archives for posts with tag: Relationships

maxim shishkanov
Dying in a Cloud of Perfume
by Catfish McDaris

I always kept a secret smile and a
bankroll in my front pocket

Alexandra sprayed expensive perfume into the air
then nonchalantly walked into the cloud
with a glamorous style

Living in her fire was like committing
the eighth deadly sin, sleep was
on vacation until you woke up dead

I shadowboxed with Diablo every time
her name crossed my lips sometimes words
can illuminate a path when you feel like
giving up the ghost.

Photo by Maxim Shishkanov.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a poem about my first American lady, after being in the army overseas for three years. I don’t know if  I got away or she did.

McDaris Photo 2 for Henry

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook, Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski from 1997, has just been rereleased. He’s from Albuquerque and Milwaukee. His newest books are Ghosts of the War Elephants and Meat Grinder.

double heart catdancing
The day you came to me
by Linda Jummai Mustafa

On the road we stood, two people with unsung songs
dancing to the beats of nothingness,
We built our home and future with just a few looks at each other.
My heart worked again after you called,
unicorns and fiery phoenixes flying around my consciousness
as my watch clicked with joy to tell
me when to stop staring.
The rhythm of happiness soaring high in my heart,
once cold, but now warm from a touch at midday.
In my mind’s eye, I see you forever handsome
as you walk me back to where it all started,
that first time, we travelled in a time machine into our own space
your love illuminating the stillness of water.

IMAGE: Double Heart by CatDancing.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The first time I met my husband, it was a day my life turned around. I was depressed and lost. I did not know how I would live until he happened. Till this day, the love we have for each other has held us tightly together and I couldn’t be happier. He is my world and when I am with him, I forget all the madness in the world.

linda mustafa copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Jummai Mustafa teaches Literature-in-English in Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Lapai, Niger State, Nigeria. She is a published poet and the author of a collection of short stories titled What If…?

Down by an Old Mill Where a Big Part of Your Heart Lives
by Tony Gloeggler

The bus driver motions you
to climb on when you read
the address of your stepson’s
apartment. “Get off at the mill.
Then, a few blocks down the road.”
You’ve lived your whole life
in NYC, imagine that mills look
like factories in Springsteen songs.
You picture a big building,
red brick or gray sheet rock.
Maybe a little town built itself
around it. A whistle blows.
Bunches of hunched over men,
hands in pockets, or one arm
hanging down, carrying a battered
lunch box, walk through some gate
in a misty dusk, sucking on cigarettes,
the dots of light pulsing from their lips.
Some turn left to one of two corner bars,
others veer right, head for dinner tables.
Almost, you can hear a faint harmonica,
a soft tone from The Big Man’s sax.

You are neither going home or out
for a Friday night of beer, 8 ball,
and a bar band. No, it’s a weekend
spent visiting Jesse. If you see
your long-ago girlfriend, you’ll both
act cordial. When you try, you can still
recall things you loved about her,
although you know she would never
think of trying. But you and Jesse
have a gift. You can both stop time.
He’s autistic and you love the kid,
who’s now a man. The bus driver
announces, Blainefield Mill. You walk
to the door, nod thanks. No mill,
just a large building filled with offices,
clothing shops, an organic market,
a sleek restaurant overlooking
a waterfall fed by melting snow.

The fourth-floor apartment door opens
and Jesse’s support worker yells, look
who’s here. Jesse says Tony, glances
at you sideways with a big smile. You ask
him what’s new. He’s now living on his own
in this new beautiful apartment, three
spacious rooms, stained wooden floors,
glazed windows flooding the place
with sun, central air conditioning
and this bearded, doo-ragged worker
you never met who extends his hand,
says his name is Brandon. You own
a new kidney and unlike last time,
you’re walking without a cane.
Jesse has added a few soft pounds
to his middle. You catch his eye, say
what’s going on, man, I’ve missed you
and Jesse who habitually answers good’
to most questions, surprises you by saying
not much and you laugh, realize he’s right.
Nothing essential has changed. It’s just you
and Jesse, moving closer for your brief hug.

First published in Paterson Literary Review.

PAINTING: The Little Gate of the Old Mill by Henri Matisse (1898).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this after six months of not seeing Jesse as a result of my kidney transplant. Since Jesse doesn’t communicate very well, and only about concrete things, I never really know if he thinks about me when I’m not there or misses me. It was my first visit to his apartment, his own supportive living arrangement.

tony g

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of New York City and managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 40 years. His work has appeared in Rattle, New Ohio Review, Journal Of America Poetry, West Branch, Crab Creek Review, Chiron Review, and Nerve Cowboy. His most recent book, What Kind Of Man, with NYQ Books was a finalist for the 2021 Paterson Poetry Prize and long listed for Jacar Press’ Julie Suk Award.

What Luck
by Suzanne O’Connell

Somebody ran out on somebody.
Someone drank too much.
Over there, an unkind word.
In that kitchen, a knife drawer opens
or a bruise blooms on a neck.
At the shore, a freak wave is forming.

But tonight,
in the blue TV glow,
our dog lies between us.
The fire that could have started
in the old wires, didn’t.
The errant cells
didn’t color outside their lines.
Tonight, that peculiar wave
didn’t crest in our direction.
Tonight my toes touch your toes
as we watch cars crash together
on the nine o’clock news.

Previously published in Pigeonholes (2019). 

IMAGE: Jagged Television by Isidore Isou (1989).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “What Luck” was written to try to capture the moments of joy that get us through terrible times.

suzanne o'connell

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzanne O’Connell is a poet living in Los Angeles. She has been published recently in Drunk Monkeys, Tulsa Review, Opiate, Pine Hills Review, and Midwest Quarterly among others. The poem “What Luck” became the title of her second poetry collection, published by Garden Oak Press.

the lovers 2016
Afire love
by Jill Namatsi

I have not given up waiting for afire love,
Not even in a world bogged down in the fear of the unknown,
Beaming day in day out, certain that I am not forgotten.

So I am uprightly waiting,
For the one who will crouch to tie the straps of my shoes as I look on nervously,
Certain that chivalry remains somewhere in this world.

I am purely waiting,
For the one who will see beyond my voluptuous body and its curves to my soul,
To the purple heart of God one wise man said was a special gift, and the genius my mother said I possessed.

I am quietly waiting,
For the one with whom prolonged silences are not awkward,
But fodder for deep dives in conversation whenever the time comes.

I am lovingly waiting,
For the one who will say “I miss, love and care for you” without flinching,
Both of us believing the world would be a better place if more humans wore their hearts on their sleeves.

I am still waiting,
For the one man who fits the bill is my best friend,
In love several times before, but just not with me,
Sometimes looking over his shoulder wondering what might be,
Often looking over my shoulder wondering if there is anybody but him.

PAINTING: The lovers by Mariojosé Ángeles (2016).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a woman in her thirties yearning for true love, I reflect on some of the qualities I would want my man to havequalities I realize my best friend possesses. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jill Namatsi is an Online Sub-editor at Nation Media Group and the creative writer behind Visit her on Facebook and Twitter

silver apples of the moon
by Jagari Mukherjee

I am still waiting for you
to hand me love
in a shiny blue-and-silver
wrapping paper, tied
with a slim satin bow.
If only romance had been
smooth as silk—or soft,
such as the music
you often play,
with the harmonica
between your lips.
I thought this time
it was for keeps, but
we smoked passion up
in joints and planted hyacinths
in the ash collected
in a green glass vase.

So now I mourn my loss alone,
and the eyes fill with moondrops;
I failed to transform the soul
to stone. I am still waiting
for you to return.

PAINTING: The Silver Apples of the Moon by Margaret Macdonald (1912).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jagari Mukherjee is a poet, editor, and reviewer based in Kolkata, India. She has authored three collections of poetry. Her latest full-length volume of poetry, The Elegant Nobody, was published by Hawakal Publishers in January 2020. She also co-authored an ebook, Wine-Kissed Poems (Blue Pencil, 2020), which was an Amazon bestseller. She is a gold medalist in English Literature, a Best of the Net 2018 nominee, DAAD scholar from Technical University, Dresden, Germany, a Bear River alumna. Her poems and other creative pieces have been published in a range of venues around the world. She is the winner of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2018 for Book Review, Poeisis Award for Excellence in Poetry 2019, and the recipient of Reuel International Prize for Poetry 2019, among other awards. Jagari is a part of the Reviews team at The Blue Nib, and the Managing Editor of EKL Review. She recently won the Women Empowered Gifted Poet (Powerful Emergent Voice) Award.

by Giovanni Mangiante

My first love’s name
was Isabel. I was 3 years old.
she had bright green eyes
and a bowl haircut.

I never talked to her,
and after the year was over,
I never saw her again
at kindergarten.

I’m 25 years old now,
and throughout my life I’ve encountered
other Isabels
who went away as swiftly
as the first one did
back in 1999,
and much like my 3-year old
I stood confused
and babbling
like a complete idiot waiting
for one of them to stay.

I am still waiting. I don’t know what for:
if waiting for another Isabel,
or just waiting for someone to stay,
but I’m still waiting nonetheless.

PAINTING: Dona Isabel de Porcel by Francisco Goya (1806).


Giovanni Mangiante is a poet from Lima, Peru. He has work published in Newington Blue Press, Rusty Truck, The Daily Drunk, Anti-Heroin Chic, Heroin Love Songs, Rat’s Ass Review, Three Rooms Press, and more. He has upcoming work in The Piker Press. In writing, he found a way to cope with BPD. Visit him on Facebook and Twitter.

hokusai plum
My Wife Says—
by Shahé Mankerian

In your poems, you remember the kiss
your mother gave you under a loquat tree.

Pressed between stanzas, a blind dog
hides in the residue of a demitasse.

In the melted snow of Mount Ararat,
you always trace the face of God.

You’d rather describe death by skewers
in the sewers of Beirut than kiss me

in a steamy sonnet beneath the stained-
glass gown of the Virgin. I don’t need

morning walks on Champs-Élysées
or a blue heart pendant from Tiffany’s.

My needs are minimal like a haiku.
I’m still waiting for a poem, a pristine plum,

like the kind William Carlos Williams
stole from the fridge—so sweet and cold.

PAINTING: Plum Blossoms and Moon by Katshushika Hokusai (1803).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always loved and admired Charles Bukowski’s poem “one for old snaggle-tooth.” It’s an exquisitely vulnerable love poem dedicated to FrancEyE, the mother of Bukowski’s only child. The poem I wrote is dedicated to the woman I love who reminds me periodically that I no longer write her poems. The prompt “I am still waiting…” coupled with Bukowski’s inspirational verse provided me with a poem of redemption, a long overdue birthday gift to my wife.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California. He is on the board of the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His debut poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in October 2021.

bathtub outside
What Shrinks, What Grows
by Ed Ruzicka

I should have left you
before you left me.

If I had boarded a train
that pulled out of a nameless depot

you would have grown smaller, shrunk:
lover, heron, bunny, quail, cricket, one iota.

Instead you have grown, swollen—
weather front that settles on top of a landscape.

Memories solidify, brood within, without.
You are still on the jetties in Racine at midnight.

The tumult of Lake Michigan bashes stone,
jets up white walls that crash back to rock.

You still giggle in candle light
in our clawfoot tub. While Billie Holiday

sings from the record player’s needle,
you slide a loofa over the limbs of desire.

In some part of me, the weather
has never changed, I am still waiting.

Silly though. If you came to me again
with softness, turmoil, delights, distress,

what would I do now, an old man
who has forgotten how to hope?

PHOTO: Windmill and bathtub (Polaroid) by Moominsean.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Once you have loved someone deeply, that feeling is always there, though largely locked away. I am completely happy as I am now and yet a certain undeniable truth and strong emotion emerged as I wrote this. I can’t figure the heart out. If you do, I’m on Facebook—let me know.

radio dec 20 Charlie and me (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka has published widely. His most recent book, My Life in Cars, is a sort of tell-all-tale about the rocky relationship between freedom and the American highway. Ed began working in his father’s Rexall drugstore at age eight. He lit out from Illinois cornfields in 1970 and has traveled widely. He worked as a deck-hand, short order cook, oil-field roughneck, tree trimmer, welder’s assistant, barge cleaner, social worker, and more. Ed settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he practices Occupational Therapy. Ed and his wife, Renee, often sit out at sunset on a patio that backs up to the rest of the world.

The Changing Light
by Burleigh Mutén

I am still waiting behind the hotel
even though you are    hours    late,
the sky already purpled     just
barely winking     a steady breeze
chilling my cheek

First your shoe will swing around
                              the corner, your leg
and smile, you      and your hat
will slide into view       you’ll glance
at your wristwatch            tuck your head
look over your glasses and          time
will fire the concierge
                                        our gaze
whispered Ferlinghetti line
after another
                    a sea light
                                       an island light
the light of fog
                          the sea light of Greece
my pleated skirt, my suede heels, your
                                      tie         your ear
your heat

PHOTO: Hotel De Sebald 3 by Elina Brotherus (2019).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I fell in love with poetry and Ferlinghetti as a teenager almost 50 years ago. The italicized phrases in this homage to him are from his poem “The Changing Light.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Burleigh Mutén’s poetry has been published in several anthologies and online publication, including The CDC Poetry Project and Meat for Tea, a literary journal. She is the author of five children’s books, including Miss Emily, a verse novel about Emily Dickinson and the children she loved. Mutén enjoys the privilege of leading tours at the Emily Dickinson Museum.