The Devil of Uneasiness by Jeffrey Letterly

There is a world where it never stops
raining and it’s this one fallen
leaves cardboard boxes and piles
of newspapers disintegrate before
our eyes what do dry church bells
sound like if I ever knew
I have forgotten birds try
to reassemble waterlogged nests
squirrels tire of digging when everything
below drenched grass is mud
how did I ever get to sleep
stay asleep when it was
just crickets if I ever knew I have
forgotten now there’s a ceiling drip
in the kitchen storms leaking
through the shingles and rafters
slipping around aching joints what
is a windshield view free
of wiper action what does it
feel like to have sunlight
evaporate the backyard
if I ever knew I have forgotten
and if this house must now be
a boat I don’t know how
to steer it to guide it through
rocky rapids and I don’t know
a damn thing about nautical charts.

Jeffrey Letterly is a composer and multi-disciplined performer. He was born and raised in the heartland of the Midwest and now resides in Syracuse, NY. His poetry can be found in Atticus Review, Bird Brained Zine Anthology, Clackamas Literary Review, and The Comstock Review.

Chinos by James W. Reynolds

Now this is progress.
The trash trucks are new
crisp and clean.
I can see my silver reflection
deep inside the battleship gray panel
protecting the womb where the waste is crushed.

This speaks well of my city –
removing the rust belt that trapped it
inside grungy jeans covered with coal dust.
The city can now put on a nice pair of chinos
and reasonably hope the beige stays clean.

The trucks glide to a tuneful stop
and the refuse managers emerge from the cranium
in crisp clean battleship gray uniforms.
They tenderly lift the comatose
larva-like addicts and homeless
and gently place them in the womb.

James W. Reynolds lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  His work has previously been published in Blue Lake Review, Boston Literary MagazineDefenestration, Ariel ChartLighten Up Online, ParodyThe Broadkill ReviewThe Loch Raven Review, and The Oddville Press.

Mutilation by Hayley McCullough

I sliced the feet from my legs
So they could dance free of me.
I sliced the fingers from my palms
So they could write without my hesitancy.
I sliced the tongue from my mouth
So it could sing and speak
Beyond the limits of my capabilities.

And now, I sit against the furthest wall
In shadows, silent and unmoving.

I see the motions and the movements of my feet –
Like forest leaves and flower petals
That soar and twist on wind and river currents.
I read the words and sonnets, the novellas of my fingers –
Emotions and sensations born by pen and ink.
I hear the songs and speeches of my silver tongue –
Pure vocalizations of a living soul.

And so, I sit and watch and experience,
One of ten thousand faces in the crowd.

I see these creations of my body’s pieces –
Things of art and substance,
Things I can never claim and do not really know…
Because I severed more than flesh and muscle,
More than blood and bone.

And so, I sit and think about tomorrow,
And the fleeting possibilities it may hold.

I wrap the shadows around my shoulders.
I push the wall even further back.
And it is not long before I decide
My eyes and ears will be the next to go.

Hayley McCullough probably spends more time reading fanfiction than is strictly healthy.

My Inheritance by Richard LeDue

Our Prime Minister’s father was also Prime Minister,
like how a President can be a son of a former President,
and some swoon at such a legacy,
but it makes me spoil ballots,
or even not vote
because my father was a steel worker-
the plant closed when I was in high school,
and the closest he ever got to politics
was throwing a chair at his union president.

Richard LeDue (he/him) currently lives in Norway House, Manitoba with his wife and son. He is a Best of the Net nominee, and has been published in various places throughout 2021. His first chapbook was released in 2020, and a second chapbook in 2021. As well, his third chapbook, “The Kind of Noise Worth Writing Down,” was released in October 2021 from Kelsay Books.