Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. Her award-winning poems have appeared in journals such as Askew, Dark Matter, Apercus Quarterly, Whale Road, Knot Magazine, and Origami Poems Project. She is the author of five collections—”In the Mojave,” “Desert Dweller,” “Mythic Rockscapes,” and “Shared Visions I” and “Shared Visions II.” She frequently collaborates with her husband, photographer Bill Dahl. Cynthia co-edited the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.
He came to town and stomped the dust from his boots in our entryways and blushed when our daughters knelt to clean them. He urged us all medicine from vials. Trees matured from a twisted cap. Their roots took home in the crooks of sifted rabbit holes. He shaped the wheel from plowing squares and wore a halo of blurring mosquitoes. He measured the wind in stanzas and sang out in light from the fields. When it was time, he packed our secrets in a suitcase and walked to the edge of the village. His distance came at a price of haze, a man at odds with the sun.
Ryan Mattern holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, San Bernardino and M.A. in English from the University of California, Davis. He is the recipient of the Felix Valdez Award for Short Fiction. His work has been published in Ghost Town, THE2NDHAND, Poetry Quarterly, and The Red Wheelbarrow, among others. He currently serves in the United States Army.
Yuan Changming, 9-time Pushcart nominee and author of seven chapbooks, published monographs on translation before moving our of China. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1149 others across 38 countries.
i rub my fingers through the traffic at the 60 split
sting my palms on smashed beer bottle glass
i lick the slime from barred windows in the east side
i am riverside
here is my mouth of black sidewalk gum
here is my nose of train track hum
legs apartface between knees, faded
watch me vomit in alleyways
drunk piss behind a tree
i am riverside
look i sparkle heat steamed blacktops
and midnight bike rides to liquor stores
my shoes stomp petals of cigarette butts
my eyes bleed graffiti filled gutter walls
touch my guts of rotting Baker’s ketchup packets
smell my lungs hacking tar, sucking meth
hear my clanking Cobra 40’s and
no sleep, all night dreaming –
and under-freeway tunnels:
smoke crack with me.
Micah Tasaka is a queer biracial poet from the Inland Empire exploring identity, spirituality, gender, and sexuality. Their work seeks to make a playground of religious myths while de-centering the patriarchal god of their childhood for queerer deities. They have performed throughout Southern California and have featured in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Palm Springs. Their debut chapbook, Whales in the Watertank, was self-published in 2014.
Inspired by her senior year mentor, Jordyn Rourke, a Boston native, adopted poetry as her favorite form of art expression, while studying English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Since graduating, Jordyn has relocated to Southern California, from where many of her poems are inspired. She divides her time between exploring the Pacific Coast, working towards becoming a teacher, and freelance writing.
Residing in a rural area in the Inland Empire since 1990, Marcia Barnes has been a fused glass artist, a visual artist, & a hobby farmer, as well as writing poetry when the spirit moves her. She sees the Inland Empire as place of great beauty that is often overlooked in spite of the ever encroaching urbanization of the area. Her muse is the Earth, the Wind, & the creatures we share it with. When she rides her horse, she becomes one with the land, the hawks, the ravens & the meadowlarks that she still hears on occasion.
Storyteller, poet, freelance writer and editor. Shittu Fowora, a lifelong fan of history and the power of scented words has recently been motivated by the winsomeness of birds and the wisdom of ants. Having been stung more than twice while attempting to lounge in trees to write verses, he now spends more time around PCs and electronic gadgets,at other times,he’s in bed, not sleeping.
His works have recently appeared in or forthcoming from Sentinel Quarterly review, Cha, Monkeystarpress, StoryMoja, Elsewherelitmag, RousingReads, Thewritemag, Helen Literary Magazine,NaijaStories.com, DANSE MACABRE,WritersCafe.org, National dailies and various literary outlets.
Then he rocked and stroked it with husbandry touch.
After that day when the snake was killed,
I walked gingerly between house and hutch,
pushing past the panic at that spot of dirt,
holding so tight that nothing could hurt.
Vigilance and Vigils
His porcelain angel, His china doll. He didn’t need a papal council to vote
his daughter into sainthood, to mark a feast day on which he could pray to heal all
bruised by his iniquities. He understood retribution. Because of his sowed wild oats,
his porcelain angel, his china doll
fell to earth, lived a scant two years with the stench of milking cows and goats,
with tractors that tip, rattlers that strike, coyotes that call, with lethal
chemicals that bleach and bleed, frayed electric that smokes into throats—
Appalling, all on the farm that stomps, mauls or kills. How could he foresee the most
deadly was that small pet door through which she could wriggle, crawl,
waddle to pool deck? He found her adrift on reflected sunlight, her spirit afloat.
His porcelain angel, His china doll.
A California native, JCM Eldred received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and now teaches in the MFA program at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of two nonfiction books: Sentimental Attachments and Literate Zeal. Her latest book, of collection of poems entitled More Sonnets from the Portuguese, is forthcoming in Fall 2016.
Note: The poems “Living in Heat” and “Holding the Quick Shiver” are used by permission of Whitepoint Press LLC. They will be appearing in More Sonnets from the Portuguese this fall.
In plexiglass pillboxes I collect samples of wind, align them
on spice shelves above the kitchen sink, a measure of my life.
The story goes I emerged in an Iowa blizzard. Snap
a chip of deep night, label: December 1967. DC in ’73. Into this box
set wet wind—summer thundershower. Augusts in Nevada. Dry
bluster off sand mark ’76 ’77, ’78 through ’84. I’m a teenager at Rehobeth, up
at dawn after bonfires and beer. Into this box a handful of Atlantic salt air
misted by porpoise exhalation. 1985. Berkeley fog bubbles the specimen label.
Wedding day, August 19, 1992. Forest fires scorch Volcano. A sooty sample.
Two years later we sail San Francisco Bay in a gale, scoop an armful of pulsing Pacific wind off the jib for my collection. Let’s include Kay’s final breath in ’97—it fell out as a sputter— and the bilious tempest of my brother who hollers stay away!
Label also whispered breeze of reconciliation.
Add delight’s gusts, desire’s zephyr, siroccos of ceaseless seeking. Doldrums. Then,
tickles of air on undersides of poppy petals. This a log of landscape felt as it touches other things. Everything a breath. All atmosphere cooled and warmed in layers.
The first month Alexa Mergen lived in Yucca Valley she learned how to respect rattlesnakes and scorpions and how to recognize a dust devil. She grew up in Washington, DC, making visits to family in the Great Basin and Mojave. She now lives in Sacramento. In addition to poetry, Alexa writes fiction and essays. Her favorite places are windy ones–mountaintops, deserts, and seashores.
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
–Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Chambered Nautilus
At the corner of Alta and Sunflower street signs hum
like conch shells in sagey wind. The last water receded
an eon ago: runs deep beneath your feet if at all.
The sound sings your first trip west, whipping over desert
in a silver bus. Shells along shelves in shops at Fisherman’s Wharf.
You held pink rims to your ear understanding then the nautilus
your teacher silenced without definition. Didn’t he know
a poem’s tones seep through pages when pressure builds?
You returned after seafaring to the desert wind,
wind like the ocean’s. The shacks are
sinking beam by board into brown sand:
a flag pole clanks in a wide lot:
air pulls forth what was forgotten.
Alexa Mergen lived for two years in the high desert town of Yucca Valley where she walked dirt roads, admired the Milky Way, and listened to wind. She grew up in Washington, DC, making frequent visits to family in Nevada and Utah. Alexa studied Literature and Writing at George Washington University, UC Berkeley, and UC Irvine. Her poems and essays appear in numerous publications. She currently lives in Sacramento where she leads workshops in poetry and memorizing poems, and works as a freelance editor.