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Mango

I bought a mango
from the market
in the Strip district
where the leaves
are half on the ground
and half in the trees
and the street is potholed and almost frozen

and I cut it
like you showed me
back in our Phoenix apartment
on Camelback Avenue

not quite in half

I slipped the blade
around the tough flesh seed
then scored the halves
and turned them inside out
like a juicy flower

heavy sweetness
dripped from its heart
and I tasted you:
salty summer skin and warm
monsoon rains in the early light evening
signposts
back home
where you cut the mangoes
and I ate from your hand

Honey Days

these are honey days
when amber words drip
and I suckle them off your fingertips

we are thick and viscous,
moving slowly to find
the center of gravity

my skin senses a rhythm
to your breathing, your voice,
to the steady hush of your finger on my lips

there is a resonance of pollen
on the tip of your tongue.
I taste it when you kiss me,

nectar of jasmine and cello,
only richer, deeper,
like the deepest dream in the deepest sleep,

like warm blossom evenings,
honey from some familiar river,
we glow in the afternoon sunlight.

-Jen McClung is a writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She is currently attending Chatham University’s MFA program in Pittsburgh, PA, and is working towards a collection of poetry integrated with visual art. She is also a singer-songwriter and has independently produced and released one full-length album of original songs.

Negatives

How do you remember
childhood? I hesitated.
It was hard. She said,
I was hoping you would say
there were ups and downs.
There must have been. Maybe
we have spent all our time
in the darkroom. We went
paging, archivists. I said,
when you went to college
I was ten, helped you study.
I, the only fourth grader
who could talk about B.F. Skinner.
She said, you were good
to your brother. We kept looking.
I found a Christmas microscope.
She, nickel ice creams after trips
to the library. And more –
a pink castle cake with ice cream cone
turrets, sun suits, my friend
Stevie, a baseball mitt.
This is what my mom and I pulled
from jumbled files.
Sepia turns to sweet and summer
if you ignore what’s behind the door.

-Karen Schubert is a graduate student in creative writing at Cleveland State. While at Youngstown State, she served as editor of the Youngstown State University Penguin Review and was the recipient of YSU’s Hare Award for poetry. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Mid-America Poetry Review, DMQ, Angle, Primavera, Versal, Poetry Midwest, and others.

Just Outside the Diner Door

Love can’t be told; if so, would not be what was said:
instead is always slipping off, a mirage distinctly

shaped and shining in the desert just beyond the cactus,
then suddenly disappeared when you reach the restaurant

with the neon-orange sign, pink uniform waitress waiting
in the wings of the dimmed diner where she lives;

or was it a downpour turning ground to grass, hubris
pond florescent green as when pollywogs finally

make their appearance out of shore-line slime,
bobbling their heads or tails, depending on the call;

no, love is a drink, as water in a glass, transparent as
tubed neon, prickly as cacti, dubious as handsome frogs.

-Poems by Lynne Potts have appeared in Paris Review, Southern Humanities Review, Oxford Magazine, Cumberland Review, Art Times, River Oak Review, Green Hills Literary Review, Drumvoices, AGNI, and many other journals. She was Poetry Editor of the Columbia Journal of Literature and Art from 2003-2005 at Columbia University. The Virginia Colony for the Creative Arts awarded her a full fellowship for a one-month residency.

Cactus Flower

I never knew
that cacti flower
until the day
one arrived
in the mail,
its bloated, green body flattened
onto a postcard and
in the center
a single blossom.
My child hands held the union
of spike and petal,
green and pink.
I couldn’t believe it.
Perhaps the needles had pinned
the flower there?
It was a note
or a flag.
Maybe a wheel
turning
in the washed-out desert sky
then snagged
by the plant’s pointed-end.
But it couldn’t come from inside
the cactus’ strange hide,
from layers
of flesh and
watery veins,
held there until the cactus
confessed its secret:
I, too, can break into bloom.

-Meredith Stewart received an MFA in poetry from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2007. Her poetry is forthcoming in Rock & Sling.

From Emily, not at home

Say you
are a moth, low
flying and make
your escape
at night when
no one
sees you there.
Say it is December—
you, the snow
flake that will follow
one after another.
Or the corner,
torn, of a list
you wrote then lost,
or tossed deliberately
from a hurriedly
opened upstairs window.
Say you
are what
begins it,
and the word that follows
and the one after that and so
on until
you fill
the page, then fold
and send
it flying
on the dying
summer breeze. Where were you
rushing to find me?

-Wendy Vardaman has a Ph.D. in English from University of Pennsylvania. Her poems, reviews, and interviews are forthcoming or have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals, including Poet Lore, Main Street Rag, Nerve Cowboy, Free Verse, Pivot, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Womens Review of Books and Portland Review Literary Journal. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and was runner up in 2004 for the Council for Wisconsin Writers Lorine Niedecker Award.

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