October 18-24, 2021: Poetry from M. A. Dubbs and Robin Shepard

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M. A. Dubbs

M. A. Dubbs is an award-winning Mexican American and LGBT+ writer who hails from Indiana. Dubbs writes poetry, fiction, and flash fiction. Her writing has been published in literary magazines and anthologies across the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. She published her first collection of her poetry and short fiction titled Aerodynamic Drag: Poetry and Short Fiction (2021). You can find more of her work at her website: https://melindadubbs.wordpress.com

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by M. A. Dubbs and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


It’s 4 am and Papa is awake.
Light from the kitchen creeps
between carpet and door.
It quivers as I blink my eyes.
Boiling water gurgles
and a tang of instant coffee
floods the house.
I cover my face with pillow,
repressing light and smell.

I imagine Papa lacing steel
toe boots, body slumped
in a kitchen chair.
He fingers change from his pocket,
counting, muttering. Verdammt.
$1.15 at the edge of the kitchen table.
My lunch money.

A chair groans, legs dragging
against wood,
and he wipes his cup ring up with sleeve.
He opens the door, a delayed chill
penetrating my room,
fogging the warm glass
of my bedroom windows.

It takes him 12 seconds to
shut the door today,
as I close my eyes
to the sound of deadbolt
sliding into door frame.

There is no light outside.
Only his headlights
as he backs out of the drive
to a steel barrel bum fire
he’ll use to warm his cracked hands
between breaks.

First appeared in Prairie Margins, 2013

Robin Shepard

Robin Shepard is a poet and musician living in Atwater, California. His publishing credits could fill a thimble.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Robin Shepard and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

A Concise History of Extraterrestrial Contact

ET human hybrids, DNA replicators,
alien corpses under green light—
centuries of cross pollination. Evolution
accelerates a thousand years an hour.
Astro zombies, hairy dwarves and blobs,
the Mothman flies with burning red eyes.
Little green men move to the ‘burbs, hire
reptilian gardeners to trim bushes
from the edges of summer lawns.
Poolside blondes, tall Nordic types, pride of
the Pleiades, enjoy atomic cocktails
served by replicant cabana boys.
Ancient alien theorists believe
extra-terrestrial visitations continue
to this day, seeding the human species
with their genius and genes. Could a brute,
unthinking beast unleash the torrent
of technology that built the pyramids
or ventured to the moon without help
from a higher order of beings? Nonsense!
Flying V formations, glowing orbs of lights,
hover motionless over Phoenix, flares,
according to the military, though flares faint
and eventually fall. In Montana, ranchers
encounter eviscerated corpses of cattle,
sex organs gone, eyes scooped from sockets.
Somewhere a man lies on a flat surface,
bright lights, cold metal, and near him
small gray beings move like shadows,
insert a needle up his nose and let him go.
His watch stops for two missing hours.
Crypto-creatures swim in silver sheets
in deep lakes, or stride unseen through dense
green forests, living in the world alone,
apart, but not of the world, alien.
Sightings increase and evidence grows.
Ancient alien theories point to myths
of a silver cosmic egg descending from the sky
with gods who taught man various disciplines,
the world’s great religions being stories
of mankind’s extraterrestrial relationships.
The ancients carved a record in stone,
or painted their contacts on caves walls.
In Egypt the pharaohs died with spices
stuffed inside their hollow bodies,
brains removed, scrambled and pulled
through the nose, the soft interior of liver,
lungs and heart, encased in canopic jars.
Their sandstone tombs like rockets leaving
the earth, tilt toward the dog star,
navigating the black ocean of space.
Thousands of years later, in an English field,
the wheat lies down and dies
with a remarkable message on its lips—
“We are here. We have always been here.
Where would you be without us?”


The Racist Roots of Apple Pie

Food writer and activist Raj Patel claims that apple pie
was born of American colonialism and slave labour.
–The Guardian, May 1, 2021

Bye bye, I miss my American pie.
Apple of my eye, my darling strudel.
Turn over, my love, and love me
with sugar sweet and syrup
on your lips, let it drip and run
and crystalize on my tongue. But no,
you’re no longer my sweetie pie,
my just dessert, symbol of all that I love.
They’ve come for you, those itchy
critics of western culture. You too
have succumbed to cancellation.
Can it be the apple has fallen
truly from the tree of tyranny?
Brought west by missionaries,
marking boundaries of cultivated
properties, proving the superiority of
land management over indigenous
ineptitude, all that the apple was
was never known by me until now.
Oh! the brutality of that one fruit!
Is it any wonder Eve ate the evil
bounty and spoiled our Eden?
The apple bears blame for bloody
conquests I can no longer stomach.
As American as a bomb, my mother
baked her terror into every bite.


The Dead Cast Their Ballots in Detroit

Dead men vote in unbelievable numbers,
delivering a bloc of support so solid and dependable
that rarely do they stray from the party line.

And what do the dead want in return?

A living wage.
Clean air and water.
Free health care and education.

In their grass covered apartments,
snug under the covers,
the dead rarely raise their voices
to protest tax increases and socialized medicine.

The dead were raised on principles of shared responsibility.
They adhere to a spirit of communal relations.
They believe that once everyone is dead
liberals and conservatives will lie together
in the perfect union of politics and policy,
everything working toward the common good.

The dead can be very persuasive.
Every four years they emerge from hibernation
to lead the nation in change,
though being changeless
they prefer to keep pressure on the opposition,
as if living things even cared about living.

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