The Path to the Ocean

We rose earlier than
the earliest bird, and
left the rustic cabin.

A mile’s walk would offer
our naked feet varying
sensations,

ending with sand.

The unwieldy elm roots became
less benign when they emerged
from the path

we’d soon trek.

And fallen branches—home to
thorns—caused you to wake
the closest sleeping children.

The sand soothed us.

“We should have planned better,”
you said, upon the sun’s arrival,
as it hid behind
a cover of storm clouds.

Jordan Brunelle

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self-portrait

i looked at myself
all 19 of me
and lined them up hip to hip
i saw me dainty, flippant, fearless
longing, scheming, dreaming
and i saw my hair nipped at the ears
ripped knees and elbows from a fall
her eyes are wide
and making plans
she’s running after and towards
i looked behind and looked in front
of friends and those who made me blush.
i saw the girl i wished i was
and who i came to be
 and the lady, established with 19 years
whispered to 18, who said to 17
see?

Immediately Too Late

It’s the little idiosyncrasies,
you said—
that’s the good stuff.
The stuff I would remember
twenty-five, fifty years from now.

Long after my wife dies of cancer
And my dog by car

Her extended hiccupy laugh
His shrill childish whine

I’d find the capacity to love,
you said—
but it’ll be too late.
I’d find it almost immediately
too late.

-Jordan Brunelle

Blue Sanctuary

For years we
hid our freckles
with prayers,
and made our-
selves in mirrors.

Our whole lives
we heard
what it means
to be broken
and thought
we looked
(so convincingly)
held together.

We arranged our-
selves to look
(somewhat)
right, but my
eyebrows
always grew
too close and
your nose was
always broken.
So we tried
covering our-
selves in
blue cloth to
match the walls
where we whispered
our prayers.

You didn’t believe
my eyes
(blue-green
like my father’s)
when I said
you shouldn’t need
forgiveness.
But you said
(so confidently)
that we could
only become
ourselves.

We’ll return
years from now
without a prayer
for the bright
stained windows
whose blue light
traces the angles
of your nose
and brings out
my freckles.

We’re not holy
anymore
(we never were,
really).

Moriah Claud

The Knot in Your Staircase

I left my necklace on your pillow
The one with the links of unpolished silver
A dull chain for you to keep

Remember it’s there before you leave in the morning

Down the stairs — skip over the one with the gnarl
The charm on that necklace is a key
It fits perfectly in the lock at the center of that stair
Turn it fast (to the left) if you want to keep out the monsters

Go on with your day as if nothing spectacular happened

Without my necklace, of course, the monsters will come for me
But it’s my own fault
Leaving things behind when I go

-Kayleigh

I’ll Whistle

There’s a sweet little whisper
and she comes and she goes.
She sneaks in my ears
and speaks in my brain.

I whistle while she whispers like I really don’t care
that her words are unkind or I think that they’re true.
Sometimes she stays and sometimes she leaves
but I keep whistling and walking wherever I please.

I try hard not to listen,
but when she whispers too long,
I can’t help what I hear
when my whistling lips quiet
and my moving feet freeze.

If she keeps whispering
my feet will start stepping
and they’ll go where she says
and I’ll walk the same circle
until grass turns to dust
and my feet wear off
and my legs become ash.

Then I’ll lay on my side
in the middle of my path
and I’ll whistle.

Moriah Claud

Freedom

Old Mrs. Jeffers always loved me
She jealously locked me away
Only feeding me sunflower seeds

Her wrinkly arthritic hands
They forgot to latch my cage
I nudge the door open

Free at last, free at last
Free to fly with outstretched wings
Free to mate with the bird-sluts

Giddy, I soar across the driveway
Thud.
I’m brushed aside by a windshield wiper

Austin Hinson 

Pictures of Windows

I stopped making sense a long time ago
and for no particular reason.

A rabbit once told me he would play me a song,
but his banjo needed new strings,
so I drew him a photograph with cigarette ash,
and pasted it next to an empty wood frame.

When did your eyebrows crawl off your face
and settle so neatly on mine?
You smile like
sickness so let’s
keep your frown.

There’s a man with no fingers
Counting to ten on my toes
To the tune of an old country song
That has always been stuck to my head

Don’t mind those little feet on the rooftop, my dear.
They’re usually done dancing by dawn.
My apologies to you all for I’ve misplaced my coat.
The one made of foxes with faces like ghosts.
I suppose I can just get another.

There’s a boy running naked on a rotten right leg,
a girl snuggling razors like teddies,
an old woman drowning in air-Wait.
What is that fuzz in your belly?

I stopped making sense of nonsense a long time ago.

Here is you;
there is me;
what the hell.

Moriah Claud

Half-Empty

The bodies pile higher now.
Heads rest on feet resting on heads
beneath the soles of my shoes.

I’ll continue walking,
even through the crunching sound—
which resonated deep within me months ago.

Now it only irritates
and inconveniences my pious ears
as they strive to remain pure.

The world was so much simpler yesterday,
is what we’ve said since day two.
What a glorious day the first must have been,

when the graveyard was half-empty.

Jordan Brunelle

Verses on Your Memory

You lived in a cathedral once
in a place far away.

Don’t try to remember its name.
Its name was set apart.

Relive the roar of voices
impossibly contained
by so much silent,
colored glass.

Marvel at how
those stained pictures hold.
No fixtures shake, quiver.
No adornment betrays its stillness.

To compensate,
your skin crumples.
Feel it fold crisp
in its own geometry,
burnt by incense and seraphim.

Your bones shatter
from the reverberations of
benedictions and blessings.
Each single shard
sharpened by language
corporeity never knew.

Without yourself
you still see,
and when you turn your head
you glimpse some reflection
in the golden distortion of a tomb.

What you see
is empty and full;
ornately simple.

You don’t attempt to touch this echo.
It cannot mimic you,
and it will not follow.

You leave without saying a prayer.

Kayleigh Butterfield