Garden of Sticks
by Kara Goughnour
My grandfather brought home marbles
found while digging for construction jobs,
delving into dirt to create new foundations
for buildings that would soon be birthed.
I washed them in the kitchen sink,
kept them in a metal wine bottle tin
of my mother’s, on it a Picasso-esque man
with a winking fold of beret,
a red-lipped rectangle sipping
the deep rust of moscato loneliness.
There were many things in the house
I couldn’t touch — my mother’s lipsticks
hundreds of black tubes like bullet-shell scatterings
in plastic vanities stained bright pink —
but the marbles were all mine.
I liked to hold them to the sun,
glittering sparks of cracked glass through them,
or summer bubbles forever unbursting.
I liked the Saturn rings of rounded color,
strung nebulous through the resin,
each twisting string its own brimming
planet. I would sit in the garden,
all dead or dying in the orange palm of autumn.
I would spread each marble out,
a Milky Way of glinting things,
each their own, each in possession
of their own space.
Bio: Kara Goughnour is a writer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They are the author of "Mixed Tapes," a part of the Ghost City Press Summer 2019 Micro-Chap Series. They are the recipient of the 2018 Gerald Stern Poetry Award, and have work published or forthcoming in The Bitchin' Kitsch, Third Point Press, and over fifty others. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @kara_goughnour or read their collected and exclusive works at karagoughnour.com.
Talking and Listening
by Ute Carson
An old man prattles on
about driving across country in a Model T Ford
in his twenties.
He tells of traversing the parched desert
and being robbed at gunpoint at a gas station in Nevada.
A therapist listens to a recovering addict
and nods approvingly to his progress,
then lands a sympathetic ear to a battered woman.
Talking is about self, listening about others.
The talker is the storyteller,
the listener an interpreter.
Like inhaling and exhaling,
we need both.
By exchanging stories,
we can reach understanding.
Bio: Ute Carson has been writing and publishing stories and essays her entire life, developing her unique voice while gaining experiences around the world. www.utecarson.com
by Louis Faber
Just outside town
in the old dump is
a slab of concrete
its twisted edges pierced
by rusting rebar
once the floor
of the gazebo in the commons.
Etched into its surface
Jim + Marie
Janet Loves Eddie.
Their loves were undying
cast into stone to wear
slowly through the ages
not to fall victim
to the jackhammer.
Jim lies under
the simple stone
“Sgt. U. S. Army
Marie left for college
but came home
a nurse at the Community Hospital
now divorced with two daughters.
Eddied married Sue
three times runner up
for homecoming queen
and lives in a trailer
by the county line.
Janet waits tables
in the coffee shop
at Caesar’s Palace while
her husband, she met
at the truck stop,
deals blackjack in the casino.
Their son lives in San Francisco
with his lover, but
they haven’t spoken to him
in more years
than they can remember.
The old gazebo was replaced
years ago by the giant
steel play gym.
Bio: Louis Faber’s work has previously appeared in Atlanta Review, Arena Magazine (Australia), Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, Eureka Literary Magazine, Borderlands: the Texas Poetry Review, Midnight Mind, Pearl, Midstream, European Judaism, Greens Magazine, The Amethyst Review, Afterthoughts, The South Carolina Review and Worcester Review, among many others, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.