POEM BY LAURIE KOLP
After we found a copperhead in the backyard,
the experts said in order to keep the snakes at bay
surround your yard with mothballs. He was going
on and on about snakes and their ways, but I found
myself thinking about my archaic librarian
from high school, Miss Morris, and my semester
as her aide. The lady reeked of mothballs
so much my eyes watered through fourth period.
At lunch, friends asked me what was wrong
and then remembered where I came from.
I used to cringe when she neared in fear
her breath might be mistaken for a gas leak;
after all, the science lab was right next door.
I’d worry she might die behind the World
encyclopedias and I’d have to drag
her ass to the back right after class.
I’ll never forget her purple hands
with bulbous veins that seemed to burst
through onion skin as if she were molting.
I’d wonder why I selected the library,
the place was so esoteric. Easy elective, yes;
shelving books a mindless task, yet tedious.
She’d make me line them straight across
the edge of shelves, which I thought pointless,
but obliged with a deep sigh as she recoiled
and hid behind the signs that said Keep Quiet.
I’d alphabetize the card catalogue to occupy
my time, study the triple-digit numbers
of the Dewy Decimal System just because.
But I never understood the correlation
between Miss Morris and rank mothballs.
Now I think I do.
Laurie Kolp poems have most recently appeared in Blue Fifth Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Concho River Review and the 2015 Poet’s Market. Her complete collection of poetry, Upon the Blue Couch, was released in 2014 through Winter Goose Publishing. A complete list of Laurie's publications can be found on her website, www.lauriekolp.com.
POEM BY DONAL MAHONEY
Young Man on a Bad Trip
The stench came first,
the young man remembers.
It was as if someone had
grabbed him by the ankles,
turned him upside down
and dunked him in a latrine.
Not good, he says.
Then all the hissing
and the forked tongues
only he could see,
flickering as if vipers were
slithering around him.
A nurse told him
he was out of it for days,
yelling and cursing
jumping out of bed
It took three orderlies
to hold him down.
All he remembers is
the stench and hissing.
When he came out of it
he thanked a priest
his parents had called
when doctors said they
could only sedate him.
The priest came back
the next day and asked
if he wanted to pray.
He told the priest
he didn't believe in God
never mind Satan.
The young man said
the problem was a guy
had sold him bad stuff.
Simple as that.
But if it happens again,
he hoped the priest
would come back,
light his candles
and work his magic.
He’d appreciate the help.
Donal Mahoney. Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com
POEM BY TIFFANY KANG
I made a checklist of things to bring:
four pairs of underwear, a box of Ritz crackers,
two ponchos, and the parched remains of a six year old —
my brother still batting flies from his lashes.
Whipped but wide-eyed, I told him
I had brainstormed places for us to sleep:
on moist woodchip beneath splintered playground,
aside the galactic necks of redwood, our bodies curled
into fists like those we knew so well on our mother.
He often asked me why only occasional afternoon dogs
heard our screaming. Every owner’s ears clogged with gravel.
Even they mistook the begging for barking.
The basement is a stage for animals. And their domestic props:
copper clothes-hanger twisted into wire leash,
curtain rod honored as conductor's baton.
We ran far, our fists clenched even in sleep.
Like hers when she found us three days later
in the back of a pick-up truck. Dreaming of ivory.
Rolling wet over studded iron. The shiny sticker
on each scar preparing to be peeled again.
Tiffany Kang is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Creative Writing program and its premier performance poetry collective, The Excelano Project. She has featured at the Philadelphia Poetry Slam, Asian Arts Initiative, and was nominated best female poet at the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam. Her work has been published in Poppy Road Review, Eunoia Review, and Van Gogh's Ear for Music.