Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Magazine Poetry Contest. His chapbook, All the Songs Sung (Angel Flight Press), and his fourth poetry collection, The Broad Grin of Eternity (WordTech Editions) arrived in 2021. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Chiron Review, The Paterson Literary Review, The Sunlight Press, Sparks of Calliope, and elsewhere.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Charles Brice and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Dinah and Aaron’s son, a Mormon bishop,
didn’t allow them to attend his wedding because
they smoked and drank. Even though they tithed,
they weren’t allowed inside the huge temple
in Salt Lake City where their son married
an upright Mormon woman.
All those years growing up in Cheyenne
I never met their son or daughter-in-law.
I’m sure this was because Dinah and Aaron
were shunned by them. Maybe that’s why
they loved coming over every Christmas
to drink with my parents and spend time with me.
Every Christmas my parents placed an array
of gifts under the tree for me, their only child.
I’d open the gifts and find battery powered
trucks, cars, airplanes, games and gadgets,
but my parents never bought batteries.
Those toys would fester on our living room
carpet only to disappear weeks later
into a lonely crate in the basement.
After a few years, when Aaron arrived
his pockets bulged with batteries. He’d get
my toys up and running in no time. One year,
when I was ten, I found a pair of skis under
the tree. Aaron showed me how to put
them on, took me out to our back yard
and gave me tips on how to ski.
Dinah had a big loving laugh. I remember
the lipstick stain on her cocktail glass
and on the filter of her cigarette,
the bright red polish on her fingernails
and how the sweet smell of bourbon
mixed with her lilac perfume.
By the end of those Christmas evenings
the four of them were drunk. My mother
would tear into my father for drinking up
the profits of their restaurant supply business.
Dinah and Aaron always scurried away.
Once home I bet they had a nightcap,
shared a cigarette, talked about how much
they missed their son, how huge swaths of
winter white packed Cheyenne’s windblown
streets, and how there were no footprints—
animal or human.
The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Darlington Chukwunyere and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
Born Without a Penis
the first and last child of his parents
named after the famous Arigbe leaf
a wild magical spice
only used by women who need to spice up their love lives
his father’s love for his mother lacked spice at the time he was born
so she named him Arigbe
but after Arigbe was born
his father’s penis stopped working
worst still, Arigbe was even born without a penis
no vagina, no penis!
Arigbe is the future
Arigbe is the next generation
but Arigbe is nothing without a penis
Arigbe lives in a society where masturbation is in vogue
perhaps, if Arigbe had a penis
he would have been a master of masturbation or maybe not
today, Arigbe stands accused of masturbating
with the silhouette of a setting sun
I am as confused as Arigbe here
can sunset induce erection?
and with what penis, if at all so?
Arigbe’s predicament compels me to ask
why do people always blame the mouse
for the sins of cockroaches?
Arigbe has become a man now
naked women lurking around him
but Arigbe is tired of trying
many times he’d tried exploring the sweetness of that thing people call “honey”
I mean the one you see when you lift a skirt
poor Arigbe, never gets to finish his quests
always stock in the middle of a wet desert
face to face with coitus dilemma
heart pounding with biased optimism
but his treasure is padlocked
and the key though supposedly between his legs
like when you dialed a lost phone number
Arigbe could hear his neighbors ravish their wives
he stays awake, nights upon nights of endless moans and rhythm of ecstasy
he feels nothing but goosebumps
goosebumps: only goosebumps!
that’s all there is for him to feel
nothing more, nothing less.
Arigbe’s mates have become fathers
some are even grandfathers
but Arigbe is yet to raise his face
for fear of being mocked to his face
no one understands his pains
even his parents blame him for being born without a penis
oh, dear Arigbe
if you say life is cruel
i will not blame you.
what is this life without a penis anyways?