Old Mangoes I tossed in the Surf

The sandy rotting mangoes in the surf
that tumble softly— these that, fragrant, roll—

The coarse, the firmly plump, the briny-cold,
outsizing hands like a grip of beached shark—

The hermit crabs shall swarm them when the tide
retreats, in a great clattering of shells.

I kick the mangoes back out and stand before them;
they clumble abainst my feet in the surf.

Theodore Engelhardt is a Pennsylvanian poet living in Costa Rica, and working remotely. He is working on an enormous Medieval compendium of unscientific literary descriptions of plants and animals, entitled respectively “The Herbarium” and “The Bestiary.”

Mourning a Friend

The garden’s darkness opening—I listen
and go too into the sight of worms,
networks dissipating downward

a song I’ve never heard—I say I know it
as I disappear and repeat the song.
Trying to dig something out of my lungs

the lullaby crosses my tongue weightless
and childlike. A discrepancy—
I cartwheel in the absence.

Michael Stone is a poet from West Michigan.

Spring Haibun

I rose and saw the sun already compacting the snow, and spilling it in slushy piles from the eaves, and thinning the icicles. I went out as I was to feel the sunshine upon me shamelessly.
     Early checking the mail
     in floral underwear:
     two disappointed bees.

It seemed too fast. There were still projects I had been hoping to complete, so that I could step new into the pure spring together with everything. But I was too late, I took too long.
     Swiftness of Spring!
     You make my heart ache,
     like the thawed frogs.

I put on a shirt and some pants and walked very quickly along the road, as if I would get more joy from the fresh weather thereby. I saw a construction site nearby which had been there since the fall.
     Two butterflies on the bucket
     of a wheel-loader; as if
     beauty weighed so much.

In the woods the sun shone hotly through, for the trees still had no leaves. I supposed that this is the cause of ephemeral spring flowers; they use the early sun before the trees hoard it all.
     The sun warmed leaves
     leaf-shapes into the ice.

By the time I reached the cemetery I was out of breath and excited, reading the names of gravestones as if compelled to do so. I felt that something bad would happen if I didn’t read every name aloud.
     Headstones too worn to read with the eyes
     I read with my fingers,
     rasping cold dust away.

Robert Hunter is the founder and editor of Detroit Lit Mag. He was born in Ypsilanti, and studied literature at Wayne State.

Gymnopedie No. 1 Heard Distantly

Where did you find this troubled thing?
Did you long seek these notes, like silences
Just more than silent and desireless—
Like the shadows of bare branches wagging through
The windows of a small, forgotten church?—
This inhuman theme, this absence,
This full moon pendent over sharp, dark ruins…

But if there is one present, if there must be,
It is someone long ceased walking now,
With some spacious insight reeling still—
As though the moon permitted her to see,
Full, and bright, and far above her head,
With sad delight what, now, never was too heavy
(As the scent of spring before it’s yet arrived
Gives shame for not having endured more nobly
What one had no choice but to endure):

In a white gown, cold and like the moon
Seated upon the gravel, squeezing her hands,
Unthinking in a stillness full of bones,
Afraid to shut her eyes for long, lest—
The graves about her—rise, like flowering things—

Majd Khairaldeen lives and works in Dearborn, MI. Her poetry investigates the pure subjective via “the palpating long fingers of music and art,” and her first poetry collection, Gnawers of Roots, is forthcoming in early 2024, through Pasque Press.


Immortal Robert, Thou Most Clement King, the prophet spake,
You must let my people go, or soon the sky
will rain down frogs incessant, the river flood,
the creatures from the bottom of the river
dredge them up and show their ancient faces
ever before unseen, since dawn of man,
every carven face and creature of stone
shall animate with sudden life and swarm,
your statues step into the street indignant,
all your gargoyles fumble through the sky for their
unpracticed powers of flight these centuries,
and all glass crumple in one strangest hour,
as the dried petals of a dying flower.

NEVER, NEVER, said that Robert in retort,
and with a single sightless motion
he slew that prophet by a swift death blow,
crying out for the frog rain impatiently.

Robert Kicinski is another descendent of Polish immigrants in South-East Michigan. He lives temporarily in Chicago, but returns often to the Detroit area. He has been published in 3:am Magazine and Outsider Poetry, and his self-published chapbook, The Spring!!!!!!!!!!!! can be found at Quimby’s Bookstores in Chicago and NYC.

Theatre of a Sudden Downpour

I – Said the Man in the Tree Gladly

Being a cloud can seem a paced life,
But already it comes time for me to perish.
My fingers are heavy. Look, I release them,
To mutely play the waters like
A piano infinitely keyed. My body
Becomes foreign to me; I don’t recall it;
I will let it melt sweetly away.
Below there, in the creek, downstream
A boy and girl are racing chicories
O savor this pure love, and this youth!
While I wither, all the way up here,
You are laughing sweetly. Soaked helplessly,
You lie down sweetly in the running water.

Uh oh. Now they have noticed the old man,
In the tree, watching them. It would
Be best, I think, if he got down from there.

II – Said the Boy in the Creek Sadly

I feel like a very lonely king,
Or the king of an expansive waste.
I am cautious exiting my throne, for
The branches are slippery already;
And I laugh, not to keep off sadness,
But just because sorrow eventually
Folds over on itself this way,
And soon all one can do is softly laugh.
I do not belong here at all,
In life or in the world, I never have—
But death approaches day by day to loose me,
And that is an optimistic thought.

III – Said the Cloud in the Sky Madly!

I hate!— I will ruin these things!
Poof! I’ll strike the moths down hard
With moth sized fists, I’ll pluck the leaves,
Seal off the anthills; and I swear,
If I could spill that man to earth
To break, and sweep this boy and girl
Away to drown I would, I swear!
I would kill everything, if I could.

Charlie Dunn lived and died in Ypsilanti, and never succeeded in publishing his work. His father and friends are doing their best to get his writing into publication.

On Seeing a Photograph, of a Handful of Ukrainian Soldiers, in a Tree, Drinking a Toast

Here’s to drinking, and to being drunk;
before our ancestors had letters,
they were drunk—
I don’t doubt drunkenness the better.

As heat of vodka loftens ear and speech,
echoes of half-remembered verses
lift the speech,
til mind into pure mind disperses—

But wherefore subtle mindedness, at war?
Better in crude mind’s superstition
die at war,
than be by ceaseless thinking bitten.

To drunken forebears, yes, but I go on;
but drink—and we will drink another—
I go on:
and pour a full one for me, brothers,

For here’s to brotherhood, and health, and sun;
to sitting in the drunken trees,
the hot sun,
and all our boys! and all these yellow leaves!

That we had life at all is grand enough!
or slept in wind and rain, or suffered—
good enough—
may we come to passes ever tougher—

And drink one more, to Death, illiterate:
to perishing from earth, and never,
never, never writing it:
and no man made, by me, more clever.

Vlada Shevchenko is a second-generation Ukrainian immigrant raised in Hamtramck. She has written and spoken predominantly in the Russian language, the mother tongue of her parents, but current events have resulted in some crisis of identity around that. Sometimes it seems like the most moral choice is to relinquish language altogether.