Untitled by Alex Petercuskie

I was the one who was always crazy,
Yet, still safe
I never took enough risks
Because ninety eight percent of me
Was a “good kid”
It didn’t mean there wasn’t any wild in me
So, then I loved,
And I loved too hard

I was a crutch for someone;
I was like a healthy drug that kept them upright
Until I had to break away for my own good,
But, where are they now?

Coming of Age by Brooke Bailey

when I was young I dreamt woods littered with apotropaic charms,
a place where medieval gryphons could share
bread bowls with the kokopelli’s of the west
and fertility goddesses bared the bumps of their bellies
in nature—the knobby bark protruding from ancient trees,
the rounded stones rising up from out of the stream.

the faces of the men who chased after me were not reminiscent
of wanted bulletins or mug shots, but men with
honeyed lips, persistent in their cause to carry me
over the threshold of some cold but animated castle.

but when sleepwalking behind the townhouse,
the tangled sinew of roots rose up to trip me,
the stream that swelled below the bridge
gulped hard to try to swallow me,
the man’s hands did not caress but circled, gripped my neck
and arched my back over the railing,
my feet unsure of what to do in that moment
between surely suffocating or deciding to take the bait,
pushing myself over the edge and into the water,
a pole vaulter who’s head would hit those rocks
flight or fight instincts betraying her—

so they hung limply, waiting for an archaic hunter from lore
with his bow to shoot the man’s wrist that held me, waited
for those forest gods to answer.

Sunflower by Jessica Neville

Summer means bare feet running through soybean fields,
stop to pick a daisy for mama’s table
but don’t track dirt inside,
thank you kindly now run along and play.
Red lips stained from popsicles melting
faster than you can read the joke on the other side.
Laying in the grass picking dandelions,
wishing the heat away but not until we
get out the sprinkler and the slip-n-slide,
alligator jaws open up for soapy giggles.
When we really didn’t notice the boys across the street-
like the flowers we were too busy looking at the sun.

As It Lingers by Alex Petercuskie

You’re a man, so, by nature, you are stubborn
I am a woman, so, by nature,
I enjoy the love of a man
You endured the heaviness of life
And prized the simple pleasures in life,
You taught me about patience,
I taught you to open up,
Locked up in cells of circumstances so crass,
Just doing the little things for you was a task
Familiar strangers
Of two worlds,
I said, “Live for you”
You said, “There’s too much to do”
You taught me about not giving up,
All while we unwound
The untarnished gift of
Unconditional love

D by Jessica Nelson

She encounters with caution the shadows of the nighttime pillars
And clings to the familiarity of the earth below her stride
The moon leaves become a silvery way of knowledge
As her mind wonders to the memory of Dorothy and her Oz

“I’m scared” whispers the girl
“Afraid of more than just a sight
But terrified by the stillness of the sleeping trees”

“Her eyes” he says as she notices the vacant air around
“Her eyes that grow with her smile” he says
As she notices there are no fireflies tonight

And she cries silently within her territory
Hoping for the calming rain

Silent laughter tiptoes through her mind
And her eyes stretch in a direction
Through an obstacle of unmarked trees
Then her thoughts travel over the stream
Into the overcast and stormy heaven
Illuminated by the flicker of a distant streetlight

We are back on track my love
On a street that leads to your house and mine

“His eyes” she sings so softly
“Explain the way love will become”
And his eyes become the topic of everyday thoughts
Which in the meantime, compose a trail within her moonlit forest

Unwrapped in the mystery of night
The overcast sky above holds the possible glow of a distant fire
Shooting stars and fireflies she knows he wishes for
But she tells him it is an illusion of his unstable mind

Lost in a world of her own
She wonders back to her pillars
Dark and lonely they stand
With the confidence found in magnificence
Making her sit low but aware

For she knows that she has found her way
Through the forest onto the street
Back to the familiarity of pavement and a flickering light