Three Poems by Melody Wang

The Far Room


Look for the overgrown apple-blossom 
archway, paint peeling on rotting wood, 
an unkempt front yard that once held 
quiet buds still eager to face tomorrows.  

Push open the unlocked door, see the owl-faced 
old man half at ease in his easy chair, the faint din 
of the television keeping him company as the same 
smells of leftover lasagna permeate the air once more.  

Cut through piles of old books, water-stained boxes —
relics from a bygone era — then tiptoe down three steps, 
tightly grasp the banister to keep the walls from swallowing
you. Pretend not to notice the curious alabaster eyes of unwilling

ghosts who still herald the whimsy of a golden time 
when the old man's wife with her long brown hair
and dancing doe eyes made the space feel tender, cozy
and so far from the cluttered, dusty prison it is now. 

Make your way to that corner you know so well, close your eyes 
and try to ignore the sudden dried rose scent permeating the room — 
the favorite perfume of his dead wife. Linger in the stillness of a breath 
held like a tiny bird before making your way back to the other side. 
Empty Tenements


We were the mutual acquaintances
of the one unable to forget our perilous 
paths, who chided and chastised us
as the unknowing often do.
 
You still reeked of the darkest point
of high tide, regret clinging
to aching, once-broad shoulders
indistinguishable from the still-
 
beckoning phantom with milky eyes blinded 
to the origins of its own nightmarish existence.
Hand in hand, we search the streets, weeping. 
Elusive redemption lurks around every corner.




First posted to Melody Wang's HelloPoetry blog   
Liminal Spaces 

 
How can a space feel at once 
gargantuan and smothering, shiny
 
yellow linoleum tiles squared off 
with lime-crusted grout, decades 
 
chasing the unknown, each eager 
to be more than the ghost that came before?
 
At the far end, a narrow staircase 
beckons — handrails, untouched

Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband. In her free time, she dabbles in piano composition and also enjoys hiking, baking, and playing with her dogs. 


“Nocturnal” Dark, Psychological Poetry by Todd Matson

I
Shake the diagnostic
decision tree.  What falls out?
Schizophrenia or bipolar mania?
Posttraumatic stress or night terrors?
Something not classified as mental illness?

II
Enough with the analysis.
This is not some manic episode.
Not another word about antipsychotics –
abilify, seroquel, zyprexa, these are not for me.

I have no melatonin deficiency.
Ambien is not what I need.  My circadian
rhythm is as it should be, awake all night, asleep all day.
Insomniacs are not the only creatures who don’t sleep at night.

Mindless slurs against the nocturnals will
solve nothing.  Mice, raccoons, and possums –
I understand them.  Bats, coyotes and cockroaches –
they know what they’re doing.  Do you honestly believe
millions of years of evolution has driven them up a blind alley?

The nocturnals come out under
the cover of darkness to eat in peace,
to avoid being seen, smelled and devoured.
Benzodiazepines – xanax, klonopin, valium, these
would only make them sitting ducks for vicious predators.

Stealth is survival.
Do you think me insane?
Night is the time to be awake,
aware, hyperaware, hypervigilant.

You have not experienced
my calamities.  You have not dreamed
my dreams.  You have not lived my nightmares.
When they come for me, let them come in the light of day.

Let them be seen 
for the cowardly ghoulish
fiends they are.  Put them on notice.
I am nocturnal.  I am hungry.  I smell blood.
I will be hunting them in their pitch-black nightmares.

Todd Matson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  He has written poetry for The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, has been published in Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, Bluepepper, and The Chamber Magazine, and has written lyrics for songs recorded by a number of contemporary Christian music artists


“Nightwalker” Dark Poetry by Joseph A. Farina

darkness approaches, 
a face I know well
shadows, touching, whispering
the dreams that fail to absolve
our sterile streams
the empty seed crushed
the genitalia reformed
as we worship the urinal liturgy
written on segregated walls

I light my last cigarette
fighting against the cold air
to keep my only heat smouldering
billboards proclaim "you're in Bluewater country"
but this city is too cold
its river frozen and too its soul

I cry out to night's solitaires
to in unison reveal their broken dreams
cut by the sides of rusty Gillettes
drifting like the smokestacks exhaust
of carbon monoxide its cancerous cocktails of chemicals
drifting scattering infecting with every breath

3:35 am, corner of Exmouth and Christina
still a few cars roam the streets
the red rich woman driven caddy
lights against her all the way
her back seat coloured in seasonal display
the lights should know her importance
she impatiently waits for their change
to slide her away.

the Holmes Foundry worker
ending his shift
black from his labour
cursing the lights
consciously or asleep?

a little while ahead the overpass appears
beside the frozen athletic park
where lovers, young, are pressing
each to each, in their nocturnal devotion
above the black snow sided
king's number 7, misted in holiday neon

one can see clearly at this hour
the sorrows and the shadows
as the night walkers dance.
trying to make sights into poems
trying to remember the painful details

Joseph A. Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His  poems have appeared in Philedelphia Poets, Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century. He has two books of poetry published ,The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street


Three Horrifying Poems by John Tustin

AN IMMIGRANT ON THIS EARTH

I killed my friends one by one,
Tossing them as seemingly nonchalantly off the cliffs
Of my mind
As a terrorist or a pirate
Or an eager soldier
Kills the innocent
Or those presumed to be guilty
By circumstance 
Or the frailties of their own predisposed
Bias.

I walked in little more than dead
And walked out so much worse
Than merely dead.

I look at this small painting
Just brown throbbing sadness
On my wall
As the waves come endlessly
To the helpless sand;
As the thunder bellows her thunder,
The lightning strikes targets
Either intended or not
And I wait for the rain
To fall
Upon me
And elsewhere

(I killed my friends
One by one
Decades after each one
Murdered me
And then forgot where they buried
The body.)

And fall upon me
It does.
I open another can of beer
And step outside, shirtless,
Letting the rain fall over me
In little rivers of self-importance
As the words I have written run their ink
Down the page
I am holding
Into the gutters
Of everything so unimportant
It is forgotten
As it is written.
The ink becomes incomprehensible tattoos
On my hands and forearms
And the horror evident
In my eyes.

All my lovers left me,
Even the ones I left
And now I am here
Imagining I am being abandoned
Right this moment
By those who abandoned me
Long ago.
Me, an immigrant on this earth
With the responsibility to work hard
At being human
And leaving involuntarily 
While impacting the maximum
Positively
And the minimum
Negatively.

The water runs over me.
I shiver despite the heat.
Another baptism 
And baptism does
Nothing
But assuage the guilt
Of those most guilty.
They sigh in relief
As demons bat their wings,
Knowing what is real.

The rain subsides.
I step inside
And open the refrigerator,
Pull out another can of beer,
Open it
In the barely light
Of a room bathed in 
An early evening storm.
I pour the can into a glass
And then tip the glass.
No one sees me.
All my friends dead,
My lovers gone
And on and on like that:

Especially you
Who was the best of both.
I drink to you
And 

I drink to them!
Despite them
And because of them
And also
Fuck them…

THE SADNESS OF TATTOOS

Every mistake and misstep of my past
Is worn by me like
The sadness of tattoos,
The emptiness of tattoos,
Upon my face,
My body.
Prison tattoos
Created out of terror,
Covering up the fear
That inhabited every step I took
In this cell
We all mistake
For freedom.

The tattoo on my neck
Is of a flower trampled by an army
Of the faceless.
The tattoos on my fingers
All of the words I typed and lost
During the decades of hurricanes
And displacement. 
They are too small to read.
The sleeves on my arms
The sleeves of desperation 
And a need to be wanted or, at least,
Noticed.

The tattoo on my belly,
The tattoos on my arms,
My legs, just painful memories
I wrapped up in the warmth
Of learning or nostalgia.
How stupid I am to make my idiocy indelible
To anyone who sees me naked.

Your name is, of course,
Emblazoned on my chest
With a dragon and some flames
And shit.
Something like that. 

The tattoos on my eyes?
Well, you put them there yourself, my dear.
They keep me from seeing clearly
And they cannot be removed
With a hot knife or the scalpel of time
And tattoos are certainly not something
A man could wish away
Or they would be gone,
I promise.

I walk shirtless across the prison yard,
Not standing out from the others.
No, no more or less stained
Than most of the rest
Of them
Although I imagine myself
Their king
And most of them imagine
The very same about themselves.

I must be the king, though –
It says so all across my back,
Between the scars made from the beatings
With the strop

TONIGHT HAS COMMONALITY

Tonight, I imagine
Has a commonality

With what will be
The very end –

I lie here with my eyes shut
Fighting off the inevitable sleep

Thinking just one thought 
While the music plays:

One more song!
Just one more. 


John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.


“Past the Point of No Return” Prose-Poem by Alan Catlin

First there is the smell. 
A smell that can never be forgotten.
Symbolic warnings more portentous than simple DO NOT ENTER signs.
The red caution lights: crossed bones, shanks of hair, dried shrunken skulls, some stuck on sticks, others mashed as if beaten repeatedly with baseball bats, 
tire irons.
Helmets streaked by blood long dried and caked into an unsightly mass.
The torn warning flags, expired road flares burnt down to the melted pavement,
the rusting steel reinforcements showing through; 
all the amulets, signs from some bad horror movie enactment in real life 
that must end in a danse macabre for the unsuspecting, 
for us, forced by circumstances, to be walking here.

Long black marks, burnt rubber tires, black trails of smoke and refuse burning; 
then the first sights of the high rises, reduced by half or more 
as if swiped by a giant beast or crashed into with intent by suicide bombers, 
pilotless planes.
Something unimaginable.
Instantly replayed.
 

In a loop set for continuous imaging,
controlling what is occurring inside our heads until disaster becomes meaningless and only the notion of walking on seems real.
The further into the city's interiors we go, the more muted the light is, the more we are surrounded by acrid smoke, floating refuse, blown dust,
all the effluent of the mind released in a surreal, timeless, floating, clouding motion covering our already grimy skin with an extra layer of something that feels like death.

Somewhere in the distance we can hear feral sounds, moaning that comes from within manmade caves, wasted buildings...
The moaning, a confused sort of wounded, angry sound, that could be anything that was once a living being released into some confused state of being that could only be construed as hell personified and made real for the most impious of non-believers.
Of which I am one.
My eyes and face and exposed skin blackened and tarred,
my ragged clothing meager protection from the ever harshening elements,
but I, we must go on....

None of us should ever question the prime directive.
It is as if we can see the ocean, the pristine beaches, warm sand and uncluttered places of certain refuge before us, lurking just beyond this ever widening shadow of a nightmare.
Even the clouds we sense above us, have become part of the murkiness,
the oppressive weighing stuff of catastrophe circling about us in a painful orbit like some kind of freak, mysterious, exploded asteroid belts; all the disassembled pieces of an 
 
inexplicable cataclysmic event,
for an unknowable reason.
We survive, as if by the luck, having drawn the right number in some cosmic lottery, we are the winners.
Or maybe the losers.

There is no point in questioning what our actual fate is.
There is just this: the burnt sky, the falling white specks, still waters collected in the ruts, the pits, the shelled craters of a post-apocalyptic war over nothing.
The dominant ones may be those released to another place, the once human, now dried, now mummified effigies 
hanging from blackened tree limbs, bent street lamps,
telephone poles, 
or they may be the ones directing the howling our way
or the voices themselves.

Speculating whether the sounds that beckon us deeper into the unknowable, fogging place is, by design,  
to prepare us for what lies on the other side,
is as futile as not going on.
Even those of us who recall the burning water that adhered to our feet, the terror rain summoning the streets to transform themselves into something living, hostile to the walkers, those who refuse to tread lightly on the melting souls of feet hardened to callous by all the 
 
walking, no longer clamor to go back to what we have escaped from.
There is no need to point out the dread interiors of buildings left virtually unscathed, the exteriors scarred by long black carbonized imprints of things once standing,
the once living melded into the concrete by forced, thrusting beings,
objects forced with the might of  a solar wind.
The place settings of diners still intact along with the gradually deteriorating ruins of an extravagant meal.
The view from fifty floors high obscured by petrified remains,
a black caul pulled down from the afterbirth of death.

Some have suggested we find refuge in the sudden caves, domiciles ripped from the heart of skyscrapers, the odd placement of interior superstructures ripped from their moorings and thrust into the pavement to form a spontaneous global village from the detritus of the noblest of constructions.
Once inside these ruins, we have experienced the worst kinds of unnatural sights:
vast confusions of burning rubbish,
a flourishing rodent population, alert to all potential food sources, scuttling, eyeing the movers with greedy, aggressive eyes, waiting for the unguarded moment of repose, a slackness in vigilance none of us can afford.
We have seen fires of rare gases, pale flames licking the undercarriage of the once great and mighty buildings, gradually assaulted and worn away by the relentless release of hostile elements.
 
Have seen under wreckage, the interior grottos flooded by unseen sources, gradually pooling, covered by an impenetrable, viscid scum covering an unthinkable depth of noxious liquids,
have smelled the almost palpable stinks of these places and become gradually less repulsed,
have become inured to the most grotesque visions of death in life this anti-place has to offer....
 
Still, we have realized that, what waits outside in the real world, is no worse than what waits inside.
Even as the last burst piping explodes overhead and drowns the unsuspecting in the worst kind of refuse imaginable,
stuff that sticks and adheres and reforms the skin and the bones,
of what remains of the body, into something entirely new   
and inhuman.

Seeking shelter there are rains, with no source, underground, 
in the sub-basements,
subway stations collapsed into pockets, cavities of unusable repositories for what is no longer capable of salvation,
salvage in this or any other world,
quickly realize the folly of wonder in a world such as this.
A rain with no source, may be an illusion, some say,
as may be, where we are, underground.
 
If it is, this is an illusion that touches us,
affects us all. 

If we choose to stop and wonder,
forsaking the directive of moving on,
and beyond, at all cost,
we will have been defeated.
This is as unthinkable.

There are also those who claim they have witnessed the truth of these places,
that these so-called cavities of being of the dead and the diseased,
the stalactites, forcefully thrust underground, the ruined vehicles, carriers and cars of a celestial railroad derailed for all time.
They have been struck blind bit insist they can still see.

Underground, stalagmites, newly created formations caused by an acid drip, is, in fact, a slow effusion of chemical waste transforming that which already had existed, not a growth, but diminution, an attrition.
Negatives.

The visions that accompany these places are a spectacular to behold,
are wondrous multi-colored objects spread on a black background,
in this airless place, a pure envisioning of the non-corporeal changing colors, rainbowing across an adherence of an artificial night;
a miraging effect that confuses many,
 
causing them to linger, to be entranced.
They are the ones who are never seen again.
It is not difficult to wonder why.
 
A glimpse of sky through the deepest of hazes.
The memory of what might have been, in the shattered glass of a storefront.
The promise of a better life, in the rotted core of what might have been a succulent meal.
Many have openly asked, 
wished out loud to return from where we began,
but this is impossible.

How can they not realize that there are no maps to rely on in these dark places?
How can they not realize that there never will be maps,
that the whole concept of mapping, is just another illusion to be bothered by?
Onward I command,
and those of us who remain, follow.
There is no other way.

Alan Catlin is primarily known for poetry but that doesn’t prevent him for mixing and matching prose and poetry as the subject allows.  He has published dozens of full length book and chapbooks, mostly poetry, over the years. Although he is not a genre writer he has somehow managed three Rhysling Prize nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination He didn’t win either award.


Three Poems by Yuu Ikeda

“The Mother”


The mother never
gazes at her baby

She averts her eyes
from her baby
because
she feels that
a huge bruise caused by guilt
spreads through
the face of her baby

The mother always
escapes from
eyes of her baby,
not to be caught by guilt
that she gave every timidness
to her baby,
not to be killed by eyes
full of tiny hate
and approaching torture

The mother never
gazes at her baby,
even if
her baby wants the mother's eyes


          


“Dear Beloved One”


Instead of loving you,
I want to break you
by my cracked skin

Instead of healing you,
I want to torment you
by my despairing lips

My empty eyes
gaze at only your desire

Your vulnerable soul
pours dry hopes
into my veins





“Summer Coffee”


Summer coffee
makes me travel
around the velvety night world

The scent tastes
like daybreak

The bitterness sounds
like lonesomeness

In my mug,
coffee sways
with the rising sun

As if summer tells me that
it never sinks,
coffee cocoons my space
by floating here

Yuu Ikeda is a Japan-based poet. She writes poetry on her website: https://poetryandcoffeedays.wordpress.com/. Her published poems are “On the Bed” in Nymphs, “Seeds” in Tealight Press, “Dawn” in Poetry and Covid, and more. Her Twitter and Instagram handle is @yuunnnn77.


“We All Fall Down” Poetry by P.Sinha

At 5 A.M every morning
and just before it gets dark at dusk ,
I rise,
put on a gait of concentrated disinterest 
climb the stairs 
open the doorway.

There lies a world of possibility
waiting to embrace me,
hug and seduce me by its virgin charms,
hitherto unexplored by men tied 
to endless travels of futility.

Today the event will commence.
The hour is set.
The moment has been etched in my head.

Nervous, trembling, 
exhilarated
somewhat careless,
I let myself slip out
into an extended blur.

For the pain of conclusion,
of bones breaking,
is inevitable .

However, every now and then
I ask myself,
as I pass on and on
to the edge of the cliff.
Then the balcony bares open its heart, 
bids caressingly for my final attempt.
The Preamble to my moment of reckoning.

The writer’s name is PRITHVIJEET SINHA from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog AN AWADH BOY’S PANORAMA besides having his works published in several varied publications as CAFE DISSENSUS, THE MEDLEY, SCREEN QUEENS, BORDERLESS JOURNAL, ASPIRING WRITERS’ SOCIETY, LOTHLORIEN POETRY JOURNAL, CHAMBER MAGAZINE, LIVE WIRE, RHETORICA QUARTERLY and in the children’s anthology NURSERY RHYMES AND CHILDREN’S POEMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ( AuthorsPress, February 2021).


His life force resides in writing.