June 24-30, 2024: Poetry from Bénédicte Kusendila and John Dorroh

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Bénédicte Kusendila

Belgian poet-activist Bénédicte Kusendila loves nature, music and her children. She used to be a member of the South-African Afrikaans Writers Guild (Afrikaanse Skrywersvereniging). She received an M.A. in Germanic Languages, English and Applied Linguistics, from the Catholic University of Louvain and holds an M.Phil-degree in Education and Applied Language Studies from the University of Cape Town. Her poems and short stories have been published in various international online magazines and have also appeared in printed literary journals and anthologies since 2015. Sewn In Red, her debut poetry collection was published with Rad Publishing in 2017. Bénédicte was longlisted for the 2017 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize and has performed on festivals such as the Stellenbosch Woordfees in South Africa, in the United States and in Europe. Visit Bénédicte on Facebook here.

The following work is Copyright © 2024, and owned by Bénédicte Kusendila and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

haiku

clear moon and Venus –
we went, as the stars aligned
our separate ways

First appeared in Bacopa Literary Review, November 2023



duck nest by the pond
if they want to cross, they will –
my flight is delayed



May bells –
Mother cuts old bread
with new hope

First appeared in Presence, issue #77

John Dorroh

John Dorroh is a Mississippian living in southwest Illinois near St. Louis. His mother claimed that he was born with a pen in his right hand. His first poem was scribbled on the bathroom wall with her ruby-red lipstick. Five of his poems were nominated for Best of the Net. Others have appeared in Kissing Dynamite, Feral, River Heron, Poetry Super Highway, and many others. He had two silly chapbooks published in 2022.

The following work is Copyright © 2024, and owned by John Dorroh and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Pestilence Coming to a City Near You

The cicadas are coming.
Broods like super-colossal nests,
their vermillion eyes vibrating on stalks,
exoskeletons like crunchy paper, harder
than whispers, less fragile than glass. They
are hungry & starved, having lived underground
for 17 years. They are sexed-up, ready to mate
with anything that moves. Purchase a rider
on your home insurance. Keep your children indoors.
Check for holes, passageways, vents, & cracks.
They know how to pick locks.
And will.

 

Snippet: Sunrise Diner

Somewhere in this dark night
people are eating fried chicken
& French fries with a side of creamy
slaw. The legs are so crispy that
customers can hear the crunch
on the other side of the counter.
The servers wear uniforms &
chew gum. They have puffy pink
sleeves that get in the way when
they move, which is constantly.
Jodie can be downright snippy
with her quick wit & occasionally
asks why anyone in their right mind
would eat grits. Here’s a heaping
tablespoon of butter for those damned
grits. And some salt & pepper to hide
the taste. Tonie, on the other hand,
pours on the sweet just because she is.
Hon, can I top that coffee for you?
This pot is so fresh that it’s singing.
The griddle’s hot breath smells
of hamburger meat & bacon. The
cook scraps the surface to hide
the evidence, the black residue
from the dark night.

 

High-fiving with Aunt Olivia after Eating Breakfast with My Father at Woolworth Diner on a Saturday Morning

Before I do anything else, a spin the stools at the counter, around & around,
Like whirling dervishes then climb onto the one next to the edge of the counter

next to my father who orders coffee & chocolate milk. My mother would have
made me drink white, but she is not here. French toast, I proudly say, with extra

cinnamon, please. She hands me the container so I can sprinkle as much as I want.
My dad’s eyes say Not so much or your ruin it. The regulars are stooped over

platters of bacon & eggs, piping hot biscuits with sausage gravy. Clinks & clanks
from ceramic cups & saucers, the occasional tinkling of an escaped fork or spoon

bouncing off the floor. They are praying mantises, chomping every blade, their
mandibles crunching out-of-control machines. No matter which way I tilt my head,

I can’t figure it out, why my father has to speak with everybody in the room.
It’s a refined skill he picked up from years in the field. My mother often tells him

that he should run for public office. The lady who always eats by herself is here
eating by herself. I wonder if she’s happy & what she does to earn money?

All the glass syrup dispensers wear dabblings of sticky & it doesn’t matter.
I’m sure that others besides myself have, too, seen the damp fingerprints

of kitchen muck & grime. There are napkins galore, so why worry? “C’est la vie!”
& then we pay the bill to Mary or Thomas, or sometimes their Aunt Olivia.

She never fails to tell me how cute I am, like my father, or is it her imagination
or am I growing as quickly as a weed? Mary knows I want to high-five her

but it hadn’t been invented yet. We did it anyway & we are fairly certain
that we are the original inventors of that maneuver. Geez…I just don’t know.

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