By Sharon Whitehill
Networks of tunnels and rooms
carved out of natural caves
or straight into the rock,
multileveled and labyrinthine.
Drilled for subways and sewers,
or dug out as places of refuge.
Pillared halls, arched chambers
for granaries, wineries, theaters,
temples, and grottoes.
A former salt mine
now a commodious complex
of frescoes, carvings, and statues.
An underground village in France
with bakeries and chapels.
How many square miles
in the fallout shelter under Beijing?
With hospitals, schoolrooms,
cinemas, arsenals, skating rink.
Cities invisible under our feet,
in spite of our natural hunger
for greenery, ocean, and sky.
Hewn out of nature itself,
parallel to the tunnels and rooms
of the psyche.
Caves hung with shadows.
Mine shafts of the mind
that have swallowed the light.
Sharon Whitehill is a retired English professor from West Michigan now living in Port Charlotte, Florida. In addition to poems published in various literary magazines, her publications include two biographies, two memoirs, two poetry chapbooks, and a full collection of poems.
By Emma Geller
the cat wanders by—
finds the end of her nine lives,
in sticky sidewalks long empty.
the coyote howls
in the pale desert sand,
the wise man does too.
the moon wails to the sea,
a pearled old longing,
in their hug, they form the tide.
she walks alone, away—
splitting the highway,
the deer lay.
cherry blossoms rain
on her grave, springtime’s
veil turning—into garlands.
Emma Geller is a young poet from Boston, MA. She is endlessly inspired by the natural world and is thrilled that her haiku collection has found a new home online.
By Cat Dixon
It was deemed necessary
to evacuate the submarine—
oxygen levels low and water
flowed through the vents.
Legends of ghost ships with ghost mates
circulated—men who hunkered in the head,
munching tangerines as they flipped through
ream after ream of blank saturated
pages as if reading magazines.
Our motley crew caught without a ship,
from a distance, looked like
little dots keen for water—fish
fighting the net, the hook, the land.
What we sought in the waves had
rusted and sunk. What we found
inside of each was rot. I wished
for a massive yacht—sails that touch
the sky—eighty meters long with
an inflated lifeboat like a tumor at its side.
Cat Dixon (she/her) is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and the chapbook, Table for Two (Poet’s Haven, 2019). Recent poems have appeared in LandLocked, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Abyss & Apex. She is a poetry editor at The Good Life Review.
By Allison DeDecker
I am a house with bees in the walls.
Beneath these sun-bleached boards,
inside the jagged, gaping holes
spills out of splintering wood.
The once silent halls
buzz with a chorus of thousands.
I was naked bones unburied
abandoned to decay.
I’ve become a house of royalty.
A waxen kingdom gilt in honey.
Allison DeDecker is currently based in Yuma, AZ. She draws inspiration from day to day life, current events, and the natural world. Her work has been published in the Colorado Crossing Literary Journal and is forthcoming in Pile Press. She can be found on Instagram.
By Claire Marsden
The unhurried weight of your embrace,
at first touch.
Your tongue, gentled
circles upon circles.
And our curiosity
Like the skies above.
Holy, empty, and filled
An unholy homecoming?
Yet, even the angels smile.
Claire Marsden enjoys writing poetry, CNF and flash fiction, and is thrilled many of her pieces have found wonderful homes, both in print and online. When she isn’t tramping through the West Yorkshire woods, she can usually be found squirrelled away writing or on Twitter.
By Penel Alden
Horror held me in place
Held my arms at my ribs
Wide thirsty nostrils clutching for the air
Throat and soul gaping and parched
As the ash rises and falls like dark feathers
My daughter, in the palace of her son,
The shadows on her face falling terror, all wrong
Her eyes shaded glass gazing towards heaven
Already the great city had begun to burn
Not even Thebes can grow bones strong enough
To wage war against fate
And the ivory structures of our grandsons
Are now mere offerings to flame and carrion bird
Behind me the cool breeze from the forest
Is the last of the breath of the Maenads
Their hymns offered to a void I cannot see
Their torn flesh the body of the trees
Now the smoke is punctuated by crows
And in their frenzied piercing prayers
Is the song of the gods in their violent ecstasy
Gloating over the vanity of man
Penel Alden is a mediocre and degenerate academic living on California’s central coast. Her recent poetry has appeared in Sierra Nevada Review, California Quarterly, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, and in her forthcoming collection, California (Kelsay Books, 2021).
By Matthew J. Andrews
When he shows up at my door –
face smeared into a devilish grin,
one hand gripping a wine bottle,
the other hand pushing his way inside –
his spirit fills the room like incense
and I take him into my nostrils.
When it gets dark, he puts his hands
around my neck and kisses me
until I shrivel on his acidic lips.
He takes me down into the bed,
where his restless hands melt
and reshape me like a skilled potter,
and where he advances inside me
like a tumor until I whisper his name
into the empty corners of the room.
Matthew J. Andrews is a private investigator and writer whose poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Orange Blossom Review, Funicular Magazine, and EcoTheo Review. His debut chapbook, I Close My Eyes, and I Almost Remember, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. He can be contacted at matthewjandrews.com.
By John Maurer
Painters paint the paintings that they should paint
Because they are the paintings that they do paint
The worth of the doing is found in the doing
Transcendence is shovel-gripped, cerebral labor
My bones sharpen through the cloth of my bleeding visage
If you are a vault, you must also be the key
What is sagacious gifted bullion without
Its scriptural prodigious tailwind
Eating words with an open mouth
The crumbs of preciously bled stones fall to my lap
This is what I sing to you and you don’t hear
This is what you want me to sing, and I am too shy to
British scholars would say we don’t share the table
Cloudy guru would say you sit at his table
Pull out your chair when you approach plated lawn trimmings
The lawn being your responsibility to water
Do not shun the thornier blades
Growing an apology is not pleasant horticulture
Her smile this is a rooting of veins
Drink it in and the ice cubes of her with it
My bones are certainly metallic with their screws
But I keep chewing on all more expanded than I
John Maurer is a 26-year-old writer from Pittsburgh that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than fifty others. @JohnPMaurer (johnpmaurer.com)