Betrayed by a Kiss

John Savoie

Thou lookest far into eternity,
with those bright dying eyes!
Then tell me what thou seest?
— The Scarlet Letter, Ch. xxiii.

In this room there is something
other than us, not me, not mine,
and as I look on you, resting
between breaths, passing beyond
pain, free at last of all possession,
I know it cannot be yours. [Read more…]

Viaticum

Fiorella de Maria

Maria almost fell out of the train when the automatic doors opened to let them all out. The WAGN train to London King’s Cross was always crammed full of commuters at that time of the morning, and she had stood for over an hour, unable to find enough space even to sit on the floor. When she boarded the already crowded train, a kindly-looking gentleman had stood up and chivalrously offered her…his suitcase to sit on. “Well, what do you ladies expect?” asked a young man in a pin-striped suit, who saw the look of disdain on her face and burst out laughing. “If a bloke refuses to give up his seat you girls get all offended. But if he offers it he might get knocked about the head with a handbag for being PA-TRI-AR-CHAL!” [Read more…]

On the People’s Business

John C. Wright

I was passing through one of the poorer sections of the country, going toward the capital.

Travel was difficult. There was occasional rail service, and overloaded trains (their roofs overhung dangerously with half-naked children, calm-faced mothers bent beneath drooping bundles) clattered their smoky way through narrow cuts and under stunted bridges—but no buses were running. To go from one tattered train station to another, one walked or hitch-hiked. Despite the recent violence here, people with cars (Europeans, shop owners, or Party Members) nearly always stopped, and nearly always made a detour if you were in need. [Read more…]

Hamlet, reviewed

Gabriel Olearnik

Rzelenko Konstantin was the Prince of Denmark
his peace a parried extinction, clutching at a friend’s head and
whirling a sword stick into the line of the sea
the revolution of circles
two faces forerunning the hot foam
the bones burnished by the gentle rub of sand.
He ached. This choice between
consumptives and skulls.
Absurd. In this hissing hinterland
death by water.

Gabriel Olearnik studied medieval history at University College, London. He is currently an attorney and practices corporate law.

Pulling Free

John Savoie

From the neighbor’s backyard fence
one plank is pulling free—
popping eyes of paired nails,
startled mouth that did not know
it would hurt so much, or guess
that pain could move so slow,
and the deep grain whorling
around that knotted O.
[Read more…]

Outside a Clinic

Mark Amorose

A crimson window framed in black and white
that cracks the slate of February’s sky
lets in a ray of rectifying light
to startle from their sleep the passersby.
What is this great and ghoulish valentine
from which the ruins of a cupid cry
a sanguinary season’s wish? “Be mine,”
the ruddy little body seems to sigh.
Can we still walk in shadow past a place
where lust pays brutal avarice to kill,
and see unmoved a butchered cherub’s face
outside this latest dark satanic mill?
Or has the crimson sign held in the light
turned February’s gray to black-and-white?

Mark Amorose lives in Mesa, Arizona, with his wife, Maria, and their six children. He teaches humane letters and poetry at Tempe Preparatory Academy.

The Theology of Waiting

Genevieve Cunningham

Imagine a flawless note, particular,
Uninhibited, unwound, consummate;
Stroked from tamed wood
To breathe, expand, fill a room,
Press against wall and ceiling,
Seep into the stairwell, seeking
An attic window, escaping;
And pursuit is futile. Listen:
All is silent, vast in the new soundlessness,
Heart racing in the recent absence
Of instrumental sound. [Read more…]

Reaching to the Choir

R.S. Mitchell

For all the symphonic splendor,
how quickly we up and render
a coterie into a crowd
(bumptious, brazen, and very loud)
before the maestro leaves the stage,
despite the blaring program page,
which pleads in large, bold, roman font
PLEASE DO NOT. For it is our wont
to bustle on our breathless routes,
a trodden troop of resolutes,
hacking, feverish, ill at ease,
resolved to hear no melodies
upon this dark atonal night,
no tunes that can’t be heard on sight. [Read more…]