Plea to an Oyster by Christine Jones


Corporeal creature, briny
and raw, tell me:

He loves me. I’m beautiful. He wants me
for his wife. Pears fill our trees,
and white moths alight

our lavender tassels.
Say the glaciers in Greenland
are frozen,

no more guns, no wars,
the bad guys are dead. It’s free tuition,
and the Sudanese children are fed.

Tell me Santa’s eating the cookies. I must know
my son’s home safe in bed;

the smile he wears isn’t only for show.


Christine Jones is founder and chief editor for poems2go, also co-founder of the Charles River Roundtable Poetry Group (aka the Lily Poets,) and is part of the Lesley University MFA poetry posse. She is currently working on her first book collection. Some of her more recent poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Indolent Books Press, Timberline Review, and Salamander.

“Poetry matters because it provides a voice for what is unspeakable. It is feeling, overheard, expressed though the art of words, arranged often like a puzzle, which is telling, in that we know life, the world, ourselves, are complex.”


Three poems by Elizabeth Metzger:


The Exquisite Hoax 


Sir of the sayable as long as it is sayable

you promise to unfurl
a heaven where no one believes us.

“Mine” takes the shape of what is over,
stars more civilized than clear.

Before the fate cascade
I touch up the blindstamped lettering of “Yours.”

What light is to the eyeless
we are to the lonesome.

Neither of us can get out of earth’s way.


First appeared in The Iowa Review and most recently in The Spirit Papers (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017)


Interior Where No One Notices 


THEY TOLD ME to stay away from the sill
but I raised the pane and slipped one sparrow
black and shivering into my mouth. I kept it there all evening,
wetting its wings on my tongue, letting it peck at the vault
of my throat. I could taste the color of lava,
contagious and bitter. An hour when light goes
and the room grows a wall and even wood
becomes restless. It wept in the middle of my mouth.
It sharpened my breath into little teeth
for knowing. It was loveless. And I would not have
trusted anyone. After, I was thirsty all the time.


First published in Narrative Magazine, and most recently in The Spirit Papers (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017)


The Eclipse That Quenched the Ego 


Fold yourself inward, world.

Draw me a map of all the missing
rivers you dried,

a star-thread species
nobody could keep in the grave.

Harness me here
between then and then,

a bother of space,
artifact of dark.

It used to be chaos
was a kind of quiet.

A mountain let itself down.

Make me the woman composed
in her own face.

Gather your thunders in my skirt.


First published in Narrative Magazine, and most recently in The Spirit Papers (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017)


Elizabeth Metzger is the Poetry Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal. Her debut collection, The Spirit Papers, won the 2016 Juniper Prize and was recently published by University of Massachusetts Press in 2017. Her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poem-a-Day on, Boston Review, BOMB, and Best New Poets 2015. Her essays and reviews have appeared in PN ReviewSouthwest Review, and Boston Review. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

“I often think of poems, of writing, of words as surrogate selves. The poem-self is truer than any “autobiographical” self. This made artifact, this etched voice captures not one facet of a self, but the cusp of a moment of being. Poetry satisfies me because it involves that translation of inner to outer, that contradiction, that revelation this is who I actually am…no, this. And poems of course are objects in time, which is something I love about them. They’ll evolve and change beyond the page, beyond myself and my intentions.  Poems are the voices in our heads. They are selves to try on.” (modified from The Adroit Journal)


Rosary Prayers by Bonita Lee Penn

Dyin ain’t pretty. Sure ain’t streets dyin. Pretty ain’t it. In multi-
plex castles, Black women die, wrinkled,   prayin  for   enemies,
rockin dead weight. Praisin hard life.  Lives lonely,  lives. Many
teared eyes,  full drops.  Rough  hands  ain’t   neva  been pretty.
Ironin. Washin. Cookin. Spread table, legs, okra, hominy, mush.
Vines, faces twisted. Eyes red up.  Woulda.  Coulda.  If lovin  a
Black man is a full stomach: malnutrition  stalks  Black  women.
If basics, held jobs. Mothers, so many, on knees. Arched hearts.
Spines bent,  heavy vessels.  Laid down.  Love no  more.  Love
unknown   songs  of  mothers.   Restricted   to   marches.   For
mothered sons. Not plenty lovin.  Black women  lovin  canned
tight. Untouched on sale shelves.  Hardened,  faded.  Run away
lovin.   Caught  in  snared lives.  Chalk  bags  stuffed.  Muffled
screams.   Knuckled  heads,  fists,  faced  palms out.  A  wasted
submission. Lovin  dyin  ain’t  pretty.  Black women’s hearts—

first published in Hot Metal Bridge

Bonita Lee Penn, a Pittsburgh poet, is active in the Pittsburgh literary scene; volunteers as the facilitator of UMBRA/Pittsburgh, a monthly poetry workshop; she is the Managing Editor of the Soul Pitt Quarterly magazine; also, as a member of the United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh, she plans and host literary events.  She received her MFA from Lesley University.   Her works have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Women Studies Quarterly, RUNE Literary Journal, Voices from the Attic, a Madwomen in the Attic Anthology and Hot Metal Bridge.  She is currently in search of a publisher for her most recent collection of poetry.