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Cinderella

Give me that midnight in between, she called
Give me that split second when the clock turns twelve,
Because all my life black feathers have fallen from the sky,
Mocking me, taunting me,
Of who I can’t be and where I can’t go.

The prince misplaced all of her moments, in sudden gravity,
So that they became very hard to find - entirely,
He loved her like her life was progress towards a greater good,
He loved her like her life was progress.
But all she craved was one split second of her own -

Oh her soul was the thing that buries you,
Oh her knowledge was the thing,
The thing,
That changes you from good to evil -
She wanted that midnight.

The story of Cinderella has taken on a grim new reality,
The “hearts” of atoms are all in her hands,
She devours prince after prince after prince after prince,
In the search of a split second.
Oh Cinderella.

And prince after prince after prince after prince,
Cinderella gets her Armageddon -
When all that she ever wanted,
Was midnight,
That midnight in between.

Oda Dellagi

The Handmaids at the Execution of the Queen

Sliced – cleanly – off!

The handmaids pick up after the royal jade as always;
six lifetimes gathering discarded things, but never before a severed head.
Wrapping it in linen, they clutch it tight between them as it bloodies –
none are tearful, but all spun near-mad from the fresh touch of death.

Oh, feel it: her fleshy cheek still moves human,
slackening in against the stony bottom wall of teeth.
The handmaids lower the face of their Highness into the trunk at the back of the stage:
this bit of dead gore, treated gingerly as a baby.

Ellen Plant

Aftershave

Men, when freshly shaved and smooth,
stroke their cheeks as though to say
others should touch them too, to feel
a newborn’s softness. Every day

the beardless have another chance -
what their mothers knew, themselves to know:
the wonder of such pristine flesh,
like virgin, unfootprinted snow.

Some go electric - Philips, Braun.
I need the cold edge of the blade,
the nicks, the blood, but then the sense
of innocence, not yet mislaid.

Tom Vaughan

Broken English

Sometimes the English is broken
and I don’t fix it.
Like the bone that snapped
after a misplaced step sent her tumbling.
It left the elbow at an angle
it was not designed to hold.
The joint that healed
(while she lay in the camp for the displaced)
grew too much cartilage,
and is stronger now
in that broken place.
 
Sometimes the English is broken
and I leave it.
Like the cracked glass with shards
refracting more rainbow
than the pane could ever hold.
 
Sometimes the English is broken
and I sit with it.
Listen to its song.
She has taken the time to
hold another’s tongue
in her mouth. Felt it sit
like a slug at the back of her teeth,
but did not vomit.
Held it in place. Held her breath,
exhaled, and let the words out
for the others who could not come.
 
Sometimes the English is broken
and I look,
pin the impulse to fix frayed edges.
The visible stitches are his;
disappearing words hastily sewn
before they evaporate.
This skill, the last echo
of a previous life as a tailor, mending men.
 
Sometimes the English is broken
and I watch it
plod across the page
with a forthright grace
part pidgin, part Shakespeare;
mis/spelling his name in 50 ways.
Creating words that live for generations
longer than the word he meant to write.
Forming worlds in those broken places
to fill the holes the careless do not see.
 
It may, at times, be necessary
to reword, reorder, to switch or tack
for the sake of clarity.
But hold the urge to reconstruct.
Darning is for socks.
Repair for furniture, bones and cars.
Stitches for skin and fabric;
mending is for objects more solid than the soul
that travels in language.
Sometimes we must let the English be broken.

Juliana Mensah

Dream Catcher 26 Cover

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