Happy Poetry Month! This April Myna Birds flock includes 16 Runner-Up Poems from the recent chapbook submissions to Blood Pudding Press!

16.

Electricity (Chicago)

My next door neighbor has a Shepherd
who barks constantly. It’s barking now.
You can buy a shock collar to take care of that noise,
the Weed Man says. Too bad shock treatment for depression has
hideous side effects, or I’d get some.

The Weed Man sets his blunt in an ashtray
and puts his hands up to his neck
as if grabbing a collar. It don’t shock you bad. Just feels funny, gets
your attention. I tried it. Seen what it felt like.

I open the doors that face the street
to let out the smoke.

Is the shock collar like a taser? asks my friend,
a nurse who lives in my building,
eating one pumpkin seed slowly, keeping
the seed at her lips, teasing, finally
nibbling it for five minutes.

More like heavy static electricity, the Weed Man says,
segueing into technical talk about tasers versus dog collars.
The cat slinks away to statue
the open doors.
It starts to sleet.

Last week, Grandma-in-Tampa died.
Ruth the executor disinvited
our whole family from the funeral.
My father was livid that Ruth
had stolen Grandma’s estate.
I was just sad.
If I let my sadness out, it would cover the world.

What Ruth needs
is one of those shock collars, taunts Evil Me
inside my head. Every day she tells me a hundred times
to kill myself.

Slurping the last of my not-last drink,
I tell Evil Me, I’m getting you a shock collar. 

~Eileen Murphy~

*

15.

Tiny Devastations

The hour rises
and there are things I don’t understand                       

for instance, why you
are always saving me in dreams

carrying my limbs
through circus tents

gently placing each fallen extremity
into a plastic, cracked blue bucket.

You say           it’s ok love,
                        I’m protecting them

                        in case they don’t grow back again
                        I will sew them onto your body.

And I believe you

know this is the truth
because like each dream before

you promise me       love, I will teach you to fly
and do

only after confessing
                        we are both casualties of the same war.

~Alyssa Yankwitt~

(this poem previously appeared in  Luciferous )

*

14.

The Finch

a fledgling yellow finch
broke its back
flying into a
closed window
trying to get inside
on its first solo
flight.

It lays there
motionless, still
outside on its back.
then twitching,
crying
and, 
now and then,
falling limp and
wishing for death,
but perpetually stuck
with this painful disability 
it never asked for.

all it wanted was to 
come inside to 
get 
warm.

~Craig Firsdon~

*

13.

09 May, 1942:  My Mother Witnessed the Sinking of S.S. Lubrafol by U-564, Off the Hillsboro Inlet, Pompano Beach, Florida

I recalled her passing story,
what she uttered on the shore
in April, ‘66. 
She sank

in the sand that day, anchored
to her ankles as surf
blurred and swept away 

her footprints. 
She gripped me

like flotsam.  I watched the waves pull
beach beneath her feet,
a magician’s tablecloth.

She pointed, not
at motor boats or yachts.
Beyond,

to the schnorkel smudge
and periscope
plunging dorsal-quick
as the flaming tanker listed, drifting

dead as a washed-up squid.

            There.
            I saw it over
            there, Paul.

Whitecaps donned
a skin of burning oil peeled straight 
from the sinking hulk
like sunburnt flesh
off a bare shoulder.

Sailors cleaved through flames
and rowed the lifeboats.
Their arm hairs curled,
lit fuses withering;
their oar blades caked with fire.

They surged toward the shore,
my mother’s hands

stretched
but not to save.

~Paul David Adkins~

*

12.

yes,

we are all dying     some just slower
than others & considering she knew
she was being fast-tracked     she was
doing well with it     i wasn’t

i was wishing for a cure     each &
every night     wandering headless in
my distant thoughts     with no ability
to see the stars falling

~Victor Clevenger~

*

11.

Call me a Wound

a blistered heart flayed open, a skulking dribble of blood. Try to heal me with your poultices.   Your
plant matter breaking around my inflammation, my scarred tissue. Call me a broken bird,
my song flat in the grass, stepped on, burdened with dust, clefs and rests and stanzas hollow husks. Tender, lay me down in the soft glow of filtered tree light, a forest home to ease the strain of my
trampled melody. Call me a train of fire, a scattered swath of charcoal landscape, a moving force
of heat and charred soil. Let me touch you and flaming, whittle your skin into black toothpicks. Call
me dust, a filtered cloud in outer space, a luminaria on the way to the world. I can be a nebula too. Lead me to another galaxy, the way I lead you, shining dully, into mine.

~Erin Renee Wahl~

*

10.

Third Act:

a side bar for cohesion
the holes between stairs
the locks binding bikes

The fourth and sixth crows hold crusts in mouths / it’s black talon sharpness proud / a new acquisition / a treat not discovered every day / the chemistry out of this world / mouth bruises / large hands / brick thighs the rough voice of the

crow flies through fog never knowing where to land / Crows need other crows / like a
smooth monster skull cracking a jawline / They don’t know how to chop up their life into pieces  / whirl around like protein powder / catch the dust magic in air / chomp it all to hell / rejuvenate greenery in winter / begin again two hours later / spin Spring/ Like birds, we have to drink spit every two hours / crushed by arms / singed by sheets

The crows gather atop the last dead tree on Douglas street / empty wings / Does she commit to pattern, to ritual, like the crows / make the drive common / Funerals are never the same and yet always the same / she knows when to pick up speed, when to pump her legs, when to accelerate, when to turn on the taste / exits split fast like soup / loud music / the signs / the letters / the trash / for the birds / when does different become too same / is too same not good / ends with a numb animal lying on its back

~Jenny MacBain-Stephens~

(an excerpt from the longer poem, "The Vitamix and the Murder of Crows")

*

9.

Laburnum Sap
                                 
Sometimes, I wanted to join you.
Wanted to be able to touch your face,
compare your eyes and your nose to mine.
I would climb the cherry tree in the backyard
and sit, halfway up, on a bough that grew like a seat;
hold out my arms and imagine away the branches,
feel the rush of wind – your fingers, pulling my hair.
When it rained and lightning woke me from sleep,
I would open my window; sit on the inner ledge
and swing my legs out into the droplets.
Dirty rainwater splashing over my bare toes,
I’d cling onto the window frame either side of me
let my knuckles drain of colour, then stand up, balance
myself on the outer ledge, relishing the sick jolt
in the base of my stomach whenever my foot slipped
and nearly sent me falling onto the pavement below.
On the hot days, when I couldn’t burn the fever images
out of my head, I would climb the laburnum; its sticky sap
would glue the wrinkles of my hands as I push through leaves
to reach the shed roof. I would lie quiet on the flat surface,
lick the wet amber from my fingers, hoping to draw you out.

~Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe~

(this poem previously appeared in
 Interpreters House)

*

8.

A Great Lake & A Stone Skipped

We walk, hand in hand,
toes sunk in sand brittle
with the debris of time
& the rocks unseen.
Lake Michigan stretches
out like the yawn
of some pagan god
--something bigger
than our meager eyes
can comprehend--


The broken limbs
of sodden trees line
the spaces between
our steps, little snatches
of Nebraska weave in & out
of the mired haze of my mind:
        Everything dies, baby,
        that’s a fact.


I’m talking with my imaginary son now;
my wife’s icy fingers scale back,
shrink in size, become those little pre-man hands
of my Charlie.


Suddenly, I’m pulling, my arm informs me
my son has stopped. I look back,
see the pallid pallor & follow the gaze
to the remains of a seagull, withered
in death & rot, nearly picked clean
by the things that rove this not-quite-sea.


There is quiet in the pause,
a cessation to the child’s chatter
that roars in its absence.


I finish the line:
        Maybe everything that dies
        someday comes back.
“Daddy?”
The question reaches further
than the single word.

7.

Use the Narrow Edge

A thing, not a part of me,
saying things like I wish
I was comfortable:
a skeleton's body sideways.

Saying things like
   I wish
      that's all:
a skeleton's body sideways
when I wake up late.

That's all
costume paint
when I wake up late
with so many shades.

Costume paint—
I was comfortable
with so many shades,
a thing, not a part of me.

~E. Kristin Anderson~

This is a found poem. Source material: “#ManicureMonday: Spooky Nails” by Jillian Ruffo. Seventeen, October 2014, page 58; “Look Awake!” by Amanda Elser. Seventeen, October 2014, page 62; “How I Made Breast Peace” by Vanessa Marano. Seventeen, October 2014, page 77.

(this poem previously appeared in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts)

*

6.

What Folks Say

She was born hermaphroditic, she was addicted,
she was unlucky in love, she was not
a pretty or dainty girl,
and she was crablike and quiet. Troubled, she drifted
closer to the wrong side of grief
in the darkening afternoon. Her roots exposed,
rain fell where the thorny stars sparkled
and her dark hair caught in a mounting panic.

Surviving looks like:
hurry               you’ll burn                   on the horizon

~Ava C. Cipri~

Remix culled from Wicked written by Gregory Magurie, HarperCollins (1995). 216-219.

(this poem previously appeared in Gingerbread House)

*

5.

open-eyed & laughing

there's an earth in here
somewhere

a certain serpent
chewing

a circle smaller
than expected

i'll put on
my glass.i spy

nothing 
in this globe

shake shimmy shake
it off.the last

specks of
crazy time

& all the news you don't believe
that snakes are real

& fill 
my eye


*

4.

The Manicures: Water Marble

I drown my fingers like they are 10 little snakes. What emerges
is even more monster, more too many psychedelics, more
I was born in the wrong decade.

I dredged the river and found what I was searching for.

I did this with glass once. I tell the polish: pretend
the water you float on is fire
I tell the polish: pretend you are glass melting in a kiln
I open the door and try not to catch myself on fire. I rake
and rake you and you hiss until the outline of your complaints
reverberate into swirls.

This is how you get snail slime for beauty treatments,
it is how they harvest bee venom. There is no art without exasperation.

Your distress is so bright bannered,
your distress is a bullseye I pour, but then I won’t stop
shooting arrows into it.

The polish is so thick I think it might never dry.

~Valerie Loveland~

*

3.

Colorado Things to Do and Be

If I could run across Loveland Pass,
miss hairpin turns, take drop-off leaps
and freefall dives, I’d purify my Continental

Divide views from ages forty-one to four,
nodding to the east and west, to silver veins
pre-mines and Red Rocks, the amphitheater.

If I’m an angel, I’m one winged-hot by friction
in snow, clarity and imperfections frozen
before melting, a secular temperature inversion
spinning into an anticyclonic storm.

If I could be the glint of mica and iron
pyrite, the dart of a rainbow trout, a signal arm
lowering for vanishing campfire songs.

Let me be the pine beetle’s extinction
and crunch of rock candy breaking the silence
of a six-year-old left alone.


2.

Loving Women

Dearest Mother
held secret,
held baby,
held tradition. 

Spoon fed
Daughter Darling
stories and myths
filled with fear. 

Called it womanhood:
to deem the touching of 
a woman’s touching thighs 
sacrilege. 

Mother passed Daughter 
a love for women,
a fear of love.

My Daughter, 
you are not alone
in your loving,
in your fearing.

My Daughter, 
if your fear overwhelms
your loving women, 
I will not blame you. 

My Daughter,
I am sorry
I have made it difficult
to love. 

~Alexis Bates~

*

1.

A Greater Darkness

In his shed, where
     silence
minds its business,

the poet pokes his
     words.
Something flutters

in the dying light.
     Shadows
move the curtains.

Wind in the trees
     outside,
the spell is broken.

Evening comes
    again.
Another night.

A greater darkness.
    Another
poet is lost to us.

(this poem previously appeared in Verse-Virtual)