AQP'S LOVE LOVE LOVE VALENTINE EXCHANGE FINALISTS
REUBEN GELLEY NEWMAN
I am a merman, I drift
the seas. I go hunting
some other merman,
the scales on his tail
like so, like mine
enough, just a slight
difference, a silver scratch
on the cheek of rainbow rafts.
Nothing is ever
exactly the same.
And so to imagine it the whole world at peace
the peace I feel inside my body dissolving into hers
and outside the snow that falls
that keeps falling big fat flakes all morning
keeping us safe on our quiet hill in the snow
only the rustle and breath of our dogs in their beds
no other sight but the hills the endless trees
the white coming down from the sky the fire inside.
he was tall
he was thin
when we did it
in the water
with my back
in the dirt
when i think about him
and the oregon coast
it's the pain of his touch
i remember the most
With jewels, I want to cover your hair,
Your neck and your breast, your hands and each arm,
In memory of all the caresses
I am giving to you and all still to come.
Like the rain, the jewels all over your limbs,
And like the rain, my loving kisses:
Under every kiss I wish to ignite
Like a star each one, new resplendence.
A jewel every kiss, splendorous, dazzling,
Night serene, so noble on your person;
But after the long morning, after day:
A wife without jewels, all to her husband.
--Joan Maragall, Translated by M. Odom
of an anxious heart—
when nerves meet
at the tip of fingers
gently grazing blushed memories.
Melting trails between freckles
to make a Picasso-ed masterpiece
from the longing aches
emanating from soundless words
settling on the tips of tongues—
a taste so familiarly subtle
entangled within the hot breath
dancing along with the pulsating beat
echoing through my veins.
Crisp edges of everyday lives
melt like Dali’s clocks—
succumbing to the vastness
of man made expectations—
shackled with a welcomed weight
of a dream like reality.
is the way you balance me—
the way a golden moon and a midnight sky
enhance each other,
bringing out the best there is of both.
LET IT BE
Too late, the virus escapes
Infecting my heart
Your raptors unleashed
Extincting my species
Your eyes set to stun
Your bones of kryptonite pinning me
Pulling the skin away from my muscles
To slip in your buttery seasonings
Basting me with your secret sauce
Flame on, flame off
Singed, broiled, all consumed
If I have to die,
And I do,
Let it be you.
Avatar of love, do
it justice. Melt
in direct proportion
to the softening of
the senses, relaxing the tensions
of failures and humiliations.
Stain the tongue—
memento of what’s been done.
Grip, as in a poem, some
hidden corner of the heart.
Grip also desire, devotion made
bodily, always as evidence.
Balloon, growth comic
and cosmic, become
too big for one or even
with messy abandon.
Do so to prove that you
are small, that you can come
undone. Embellish stripped
latent body, doubt—
but face the starkness—pair
of eyes, time drawn out.
Do not flower—root.
OF A CONJOINED NATURE
gentle angry man̶
Toss me the rope
I must swing over the gurgling river.
Hey you. Blow
kisses and lick my toes (figuratively speaking, of course)
Happily dependent on you, all is well.
For a woman of my age
I have liabilities.
But don’t feel bad for me.
Rapids and the morning breeze
are a conjoined present
Sensitive man, you’ve inspired me today.
It has been a while since I’ve forgotten about myself.
Sweaty palms together we ride the same yo-yo.
Quintillion had words for us. Selfish love eventually becomes carefree.
We float, we rise hot
a helium balloon in the wrinkled sky
there’s a charming village below
am unable to name it
(Portland? San Diego? London?)
Where will we be tomorrow?
It could be said our lives together, so far, have been
and sometimes hopeless
dark spirals gobbling up
our worst and best sides whole.
What you don’t know is that days later I sneak peeks at you
rummaging about in your cartoon underwear
with a cowlick and curl of the lip
creating amnesia, a forgiving amnesia that declares
whatever it was, that it was all dead weight anyway.
With lightness we carry on, blissful
with one another
in dabadelic delirium.
An unintended gift
from your nature
AINNE FRANCES DELA CRUZ
BEATING THE DRUMS
1) In an old house, a young man.
In his hands, rough skin beating beneath his palm.
2) Picture the man’s hair, long.
Entwined in his fingers are the tresses he used to love.
3) He used to cover his face with his hair.
Now he covers the drums.
4) Music catches the longness of time
He holds it in his hands, finger by finger.
5) Every sound is a beat, every beat an echo.
He strains to hear long dead words.
6) Skin to skin, he and the drums become one.
Echo by echo every movement drums.
7) Today the drums beat as soundly as before.
Today his heart is a drum.
It begins with a paper airplane.
It ends with a necklace.
She puts on her makeup; the same way she always does to begin her day. She stares across the way at
him. He stares back at her. They speak in whispers. Always and forever.
Later on in the evening, they make daisy-chains and look across the water, holding hands, like they are
meant to. He hands her a necklace, it’s a promise of something, she isn’t sure of what.
She remembers the day they met, when he gave her a paper airplane filled with a joke, it hangs on her
mirror. He wants something she can’t give him.
The next day, the mood has changed. She’s yelling and screaming. The people around them watch as the
scene unfolds. They’ve been through this before.
Later on, he approaches her and throws her a paper airplane. She begins to laugh. The next afternoon is
filled with laughing and holding hands.
It happens in an instant, one second they are chasing butterflies and exchanging necklaces and then it
vanishes. A loud scream of cut is shouted and they break apart. It was all pretend. Was it?
Weeks later, they meet again. She sees him with her. He sees her with him. On screen they are in love. In
real life, they may have been as well.
But maybe they were just paper airplanes and like paper airplanes they were a wonderful creation that
flew on an adventure and ended up as crumbled paper pieces on the ground.
Reuben Gelley Newman is a 17 year old writer from Brooklyn, NY. This is his first publication.
Laura Foley is the author of five poetry collections, her most recent being Night Ringing. The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review and in the British Aesthetica Magazine.
Pal Shazar is THE COOLEST. She is a singer/songwriter and a founding member, with Andrew Chinich, of the 1980s new wave pop group Slow Children, and married one of the band's producers Jules Shear in the late 1980s. Shazar co-wrote several songs with Matthew Sweet for his album Inside (1986), and wrote lyrics for Sara Lee for her album Make It Beautiful (2000). Shazar is also a painter; an example of her work is featured on the cover of the Waterboys Dream Harder album, and she has self-published a book of lyrics and art, Pal Shazar The Illustrated Lyrics. In May 2011 Shazar's first novel, Janitor was self-published. In 2013 she self-published Pal Shazar's La Strada, a collection of 42 paintings, inspired by the 1954 film. Pal’s website is www.palshazar.com. Her new book, You Don’t Know Me: Portraits by Pal Shazar can be found at www.shear-shazar.com.
Michael Odom's most recent collection of poems is entitled Selene and is available online. His translation of Joan Maragall's work entitled Count Arnau and Other Poems of Joan Maragall will be released Spring 2017.
Kelley Franco studied English/Creative writing at Montclair University. She now lives in South Jersey and works with a writing group out of Merchantville. Recently her focus has been on Poetry as it gives a very therapeutic experience.
Rick Krizman writes music, songs, and stories, and holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University. His fiction has appeared in The Wising Up Press, Sediment, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Star 82 Review. He is the father of two grown daughters and lives with his wife and animals in Santa Monica, CA.
Lori Levy's poems have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the U.S., Israel, and England. One of her poems was used in a program on BBC Radio 4. She lives in Los Angeles with her family, but "home" has also been Vermont and Israel.
Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal Page, Hanging Loose Magazine, Unsplendid, 3Elements Review, Silver Birch Press, and Bodega Magazine, among others.
Jane Lakeffect was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and Register-Guard newspapers. Today, she is a kindergarten through sixth grade teacher and special education teacher in a small rural district. Lakeffect says: Think Little House on the Prairie crossed with Welcome Back, Kotter. The dreamy days are when students make their own creative connections and forget they are learning. Dabadelic! is our class word for those moments.
Ainne Frances dela Cruz’s first chapbook Tumbleweed was published by Tiny Press, USA. Her works have appeared in Philippines Graphic, ANI (the literary journal of the Cultural Center of the Philippines), Under the Storm: an anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry, and various international publications. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from St. Scholastica’s College, Manila and has completed some units for her Masters in Comparative Literature from the University of the Philippines. She was a fellow for the University of Santo Tomas’ National Writers Workshop and the Montaggio Writers Workshop. She now writes for Gulf Insider, one of the leading magazines in Bahrain.
At night, she edits the awesome little zine called Paper Monster Press.
Brittany Simon is an emerging writer who enjoys writing poetry and reading it as well. Among her favorite writers right now are RM Drake and Iain S. Thomas. She currently works on her writing at Eilandartarts in Merchantville, NJ.