38

Trying to Earn the Years

By Fabrice Poussin

It has been one decade past a score since

she crawled on the synthetic neon fibers burning

those frail bones in a thin satin envelope.

 

The room yet echoes of the giggles of the silly

girl who would some peaceful dawn awaken

in the arms of destiny shared with another.

 

She watched those teens creep upon the shoulder

blades cut deep into the lovely games when

suddenly they said she was ready for life.

 

Laughing she passed through the gate driving

off to a setting star so flattering of gentle hues

glowing through the white silk dress of twenty.

 

It has been a moment since she has forgotten

numbers written on a doll’s house hidden

behind the door that held the embraces of a parent.

 

Embraces have passed, come and gone with

a zephyr leaving behind dunes smooth as if

never a soul should again trace a line in the sand.

 

In the attic a sled, a doll, jumping rope and training

clothes remind her that she simply forgot to

listen to those who know best, and still she plays.

 

She is the magician, the witch gifted of a youth

fountain flowing eternally to feed the torrents into

the deep of oceans where she will bathe nude as infants do.

June 15, 2020

our next nominee should remember

By Michael Chang

ne-VAD-da

always moisturize

                        hand sanitizer is your friend

                                    and clorox, for when you get to the oval office

check what city you’re in

                        never wrestle with pigs.  you both get dirty and the pig likes it.

                        look out for numero uno

avoid kitchens

                        lose the friends from back home

fail often

the opposite of armor is curiosity

if you do the team of rivals thing, go all in

leave the gun, take the cannoli

if you do not ask, you will not receive

            squeaky wheel gets the grease

two women on the ticket is a good thing

whatever you do in life, do it well

no one else can create the art you can

if someone says “would you rather i lie,” say yes

stop living other people’s dreams

don’t go to law school

play your opponent’s cards instead of your own

you come into this world alone and leave it the same way

time heals all

trust but verify

some things stick

when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time

the real applicants never fill out an application

kill your darlings

i really don't care, do u?

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications. 

A founding member of the Pine Row editorial board, MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) is the proud recipient of a Brooklyn Poets fellowship. They were invited to attend the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at UMass Amherst, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop at Kenyon College, as well as the Omnidawn Poetry Writing Conference at Saint Mary's College of California. Their writing has been published or is forthcoming in Yellow Medicine Review, The Santa Clara Review, The Summerset Review, The Broadkill Review, Heavy Feather Review, UCityReview, Chiron Review, Thirty West, Map Literary, Armstrong Literary, Love's Executive Order, Straylight, Juked, Radar, Poet Lore, and many others.  

Train Hopping

By Marilyn Humbert 

Marilyn Humbert lives in the Northern suburbs of Sydney NSW Australia. Her tanka and haiku appear in international and Australian journals, anthologies and online. Her free verse poems have been awarded prizes in competitions and some have been published.

                punch-drunk

                on the last train

                popping pills

 

   step off

at the next stop

switch my cap to the back

 leap the gap

 

                   touch-down … spread-eagle

                        on the guard’s window

                              on the butt carriage

                                         vanishing

                                                down  

                                                   a black-hole

 

                                                                           tunnel-lights flashing

                                                                              shadows warping  

 

                                                       blasting

                                                         through glimmer

                                                            fingers grappling

                                                                a thin sill

                                                      volts zing down the wire

                                                           humming    in ears

 

                         wheels clanking      across points

                                      brakes jerk    jerk

   

                                                                     I’m

                                                                           fall

                                                                                 ing

patron saint of lost bagels

By Michael Chang

for evan

(#86 most popular boy’s name)

you know who you are


 

i stiffen :: is it wrong that : thomas rhett gave me light crabs : charlie puth made that choking noise : nick jonas said to cover my face : is it right that

 

you are my :: war with loneliness : 30-day trial : rubber duckie in alligator-infested waters : undeserving love : made in china : love 1994 : per-my-last-email : cat’s paw : beast of burden : little nap : long bath : second favorite : pure love idiot : brainwashed little prince : daily forbidden fruit : not-necessarily : winner-takes-all : better-than-you : eureka moment : hand of god : lucky draw : moonless night : moonlit pool : ghost ship : heavenly kingdom : weather of love : right as rain : hot 100 : lightning in a bottle : so close : so far : so what : faulty parachute : search for black box : sea to shining sea : kennedy curse : kennedy hair : whiteboy : branches of government : united states of : shit sandwich : past life : worth-waiting-for : chat a little, dance a little : charity lover : 10 seconds later : honeymoon suite : boyfriend in prada : blacked out : red white blue : buzz lightyear : no. 0 : beef with broccoli : wild child : cheap love song : genius children 1985 : private tutor : spellcheck’s worst nightmare : unhappy hour : 10 years later : lost love museum : love in the wrong universe : paris hilton : queen of jordan : tamil tiger : honeyed sun : black rainbow : dumpster fire : hungry hungry hippo : wonton : cheat day : question mark : dictionary and bible : red carpet ready : ugly gurls b quiet : chillin with no makeup on : whereabouts unknown : every thursday : that-should-be- me : pumpkin carriage : pumpkin spice : september : june and december : watergate : still got it : cobwebs : crickets : human search engine : human decoder ring : japanese robot : one-eyed jack : loose sleeve of wizard : intern like alexander skarsgård : intern with huge dick : call me maybe : this time next week : goodbye : wawa cherry icee : some personal news : peach emoji : peach emoji : peach emoji

please pardon our appearance

By Michael Chang

                                    leonie hill

                                    up

                        up

            up       

 

whiteboy in athletic shorts                   smoking in the gazebo                         guero  

eyes like ivy                  hair like maple             more leg than a bucket of chicken

ninja turtles lunchbox              pb&j                            half-eaten apple

drives in stanley park               old money shaughnessy                       canadian flags flapping

sheepskin rug               homemade zhajiangmian

                                                                                    novi high school, novi, mich.

varsity jacket    heavy sleeves of calf    smells like you             she asks where it is

she is not for you         i am for you                 okay

last gasp of summer                 red cardinals                            blue jays in my backyard         

                        your head on my chest             my heart beating for you

this is our song            you say             like a threat

you join debate club                 for me              our fingers interlace

stairwell           senior prom                 she sees                        she cries           we keep going

you tell your friends you love chinese food      a little joke       i guess              you still taste good

            lazy afternoons in the kitchen              no longer an island

the dumplings aren’t successful                        but the meatballs are

            i meet the juices running down your throat                  adam’s apple like hard seed

i trace your dimples with my finger     

my dreamboat              my kurt cobain             my love astronaut

because america needs someone to believe in 

me       ???        unsheathed like a dagger          third eye          

glowing like three mile island

remembering you                     in my bunny slippers

A founding member of the Pine Row editorial board, MICHAEL CHANG (they/them) is the proud recipient of a Brooklyn Poets fellowship. They were invited to attend the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at UMass Amherst, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop at Kenyon College, as well as the Omnidawn Poetry Writing Conference at Saint Mary's College of California. Their writing has been published or is forthcoming in Yellow Medicine Review, The Santa Clara Review, The Summerset Review, The Broadkill Review, Heavy Feather Review, UCityReview, Chiron Review, Thirty West, Map Literary, Armstrong Literary, Love's Executive Order, Straylight, Juked, Radar, Poet Lore, and many others.  

By Andrew Shields 

The Drinkers

after Celan, for John Felstiner on his 70th birthday

            in memory of an evening reading "Die Winzer," in the spring of 1988

 

We poured the wine of his lines,

of what he had made of his weeping, we too,

willed by the night,

the night he leaned against, the wall,

attracted by the river,

the river on whose bridge his crutch led us into

the silence of answers—

his crutch still speaking to us

back then in spring and still,

when the year swells to birth, a full glass

that back then spoke to us right through muteness,

and still does, out of the mineshaft of musings.

 

We poured and pour, we drink up the wine,

our eyes are pressed by his eye,

we come out of the cellar of weeping

into an evening he made ready

with night-toughened hands:

so that our mouths can thirst for it, now—

our latemouths, perhaps like his own:

bending towards vision and healing—

mouths to which the draught from the depths foams upwards, meantime

the sun descends into waxen seas,

there and here, our candle eyes still glistening,

at last, when our lips have been moistened.

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

 

Twitter: @ShieldsAndrew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewshieldspoems/

37

I Am Stretched On Your Grave

(After O’Connor)

By Josh Medsker

Oh! The loss of my girl. I’ll lie here forever.

I am worn by the cut of the black-thorn

in my head, with you

my lightness, my worth

safely in the earth.

 

Oh, my apple tree, the frost

gave us a child, taking you.

 

I am stretched on your grave.

 

That loved smell of weather?

Our bright-touched time together?

 

Do you remember the eve

when from morning until night

we were lost in my bed, in the shade?

 

Oh, here forever, I am wretched.

I am stretched on your grave.

May 15, 2020

Calvino

By Josh Medsker

You curse her detention in the hostage camp
turn her face over to see the scars
watch them shoot your father. He lives.

You watch as they

pull the trigger again
again

he lives.
 

watch her stoicism in the face.
watch as they

pull the trigger again

again, again he lives.

You hide your literary ambitions
camp out in red mountains- refuse to lock-step.

You are staring down a mountaintop
unsure of the outcomes.

Josh Medsker is a New Jersey poet, originally from Alaska. His debut collection, Cacophony, was published in 2019 by Alien Buddha Press. His writing has appeared in many publications, including: Contemporary American Voices, The Brooklyn Rail, Haiku Journal, and Red Savina Review. For a complete list of Mr. Medsker's publications, please visit his website. (www.joshmedsker.com)

Josh Medsker is a New Jersey poet, originally from Alaska. His debut collection, Cacophony, was published in 2019 by Alien Buddha Press. His writing has appeared in many publications, including: Contemporary American Voices, The Brooklyn Rail, Haiku Journal, and Red Savina Review. For a complete list of Mr. Medsker's publications, please visit his website. (www.joshmedsker.com)

The Fire at the Glasgow School of Art

By Patrick Hughes

That night the city was a children’s birthday party

and all the people were batting a steel piñata.

One jet of water stuck out against the night,

pinned against one side of the school,

pitching and yawing in the wind like a needle skipping on a record.

I lit a cigarette and thought: it’s funny,

that sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t.

One woman (a teacher) hugged some of the students that were huddled

around the street corner in their strange clothes, not far from their accommodation.

Said something about how she thought it was all a joke,

a publicity stunt on twitter, but look at that

and last time they could contain it

but there’s no way that they can contain it this time.

The black smoke began to plume, which meant that it was almost over,

and camera crews began to pack up their kit;

but the sky was still orange directly above the building,

and the cinders shot out over the scaffolding like 

a car battery hooked up to a corrugated iron fence.

Patrick Hughes is a freelance journalist by day and a bartender by night. In his spare time he enjoys writing, singing and playing guitar.

36

By DS Maolalai 

Clouds  like White Flowers

I boil the kettle

while you sort through luggage.

milk's gone lumpy -

it's too late to get more.

there should have been time,

when we heard, to get rid of it

or make any other

preparations; but we left straight away

as soon as the call had come.

 

in the morning

breath rose in clouds

like white flowers

and our bodies

were their earth in clonakilty.

the view fantastic - the dead

look at mountains in cork.

they put her down

while the priest talked,

and we were told

there was going

to be sandwiches.

 

going home things

were quiet, pencil-dull and two days

later. thinking about landscapes,

the surprise of mortality. we stopped

only for petrol

and once to get lunch.

drove onward, into sunset

and past so many

grocery stores.

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, "Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden" (Encircle Press, 2016) and "Sad Havoc Among the Birds" (Turas Press, 2019)

Bookends

By Stacey Z Lawrence

Each time we achieve

one month without sex

I book a meal over candlelight,

fresh and French, white

plates of dainty char and

crispy duck, cloud of

creamy fingerlings,

finally

perhaps,

prelude to a fuck.

 

We are a young old pair.

My tits, plump

his lips, smooth,

we hold hands to the car, his

palm strong in my grip

autumn rain pelts our toes.

 

The house is cold as we

amble in, the children need a bath,

three cats are in the pizza box, chalky

cheese sticks to the rug like the girl’s

Bubblicious. I carve the mozarella

from the rug with a dull knife, he

liberates hot water

from rusted pipes

and retreats.

Stacey Z Lawrence teaches Poetry and Creative Writing in NJ. A 2016 Robert Frost House Fellow,  her work can be seen in Chaleur, Dream Noir, Black Fox, Vita Brevis, Big Windows Review and others. Stacey was long and short-listed for the Fish Poetry Prize 2019.

April 15, 2020

Touch The Star to Your Mouth 

and Remember This Love

By James Diaz     

Let me make an offering

let it perhaps sing to you

in the dark / oh it is so dark

now friend / we are guided

by hand to wall / mouth to cup

runneth empty / we woke one

day to starlings / snow on the bone

a migration of broken things

what is power but my arm around you

carrying you when you cannot move forward

power inside of love / not bruised idle hands

not for profit hearts / but to have been on the corner

with our last dollar / white hot need that won't quit

and the body shaking like a small tree

dull roots / about to fall over / let this

dark place fall over / we are not meant

to be so broken / to not carry each other

through / to not carry each other.

James Diaz is the author of This Someone I Call Stranger (Indolent Books, 2018) and editor (along with Elisabeth Horan & Amy Alexander) of the anthology What Keeps us Here: Songs from The Other Side of Trauma (Anti-Heroin Chic Press, 2019). In 2016 he founded the online literary arts and music journal Anti-Heroin Chic to provide a platform for often unheard voices, including those struggling with addiction, mental illness and Prison/confinement. His most recent work can be found in Yes, Poetry, Occulum, Moonchild Magazine, The Collidescope and Elephants Never. He resides in upstate New York, in between balanced rocks and horse farms. He has never believed in anything as strongly as he does the power of poetry to help heal a shattered life.   

Kosher Butcher

By Stacey Z Lawrence

They run giggling into a blue room lined

with death and freezers. My cousins are young like veal

and take no note of the salty scent of dried blood,

refrigerated flesh, legs, necks and thighs

neatly dressed in pressed cellophane. The chicks

carry on their game of hide and seek amongst

tendon and bone, my aunt throws

a handful in the cart, treats for the cats.

 

The calves are restless, no more

nooks and crannies to wedge their small bodies.

Bored and cold they shiver ridiculous

like the last survivors

in an Alaskan plane crash. My aunt

shushes them, checks her wallet

and chucks two more

headless chickens wrapped in plastic.

 

At checkout the youngest

asks for sweets. A sparkling plastic pickle tub

is presented

filled with cherry goldfish, lemon

lollipops and pink bubble gum. We skip out,

the five of us, holding hands,

our mouths stuffed with candy,

sweetening the slaughter.

35

March 15, 2020

By Phil Huffy

Revival

I walked the old street last night

finding your front steps

now claimed by other lovers

 

and saw them in shadow light

knowing that such times

are youthful, frantic moments

 

when the future is so distant

that reminiscence

is never even pondered

Phil Huffy lives in Western New York and writes poems at his kitchen table. He has placed about 180 pieces in the last couple of years and has discovered that he is eminently googleable.

By Cameron Morse    

Deer Sausage

I would like to throw my arms

around the creased red neck of the man

who paid my insurance premiums

through chemo and radiation,

but settle for a fraternal pat on the back. 

 

On the road to Le Claire, transmission

towers drape their ledger lines over Iowa

with intervals of turtle doves. Bird nests

clot like blood in veiny branches.

 

On the road to pay our annual visit,

sleet shakes white pellets, seasoning

the cows that graze with their heads down

in the yellow chapel of the field.

 

Starry-eyed headlights streak the blacktop,

a blizzard of albino snakes blowing sideways.

After we arrive, Uncle Steve moseys out

in his sweatpants and army cap. I would like a hug

 

but settle for a slice of deer sausage,

the jalapeño & cheese-spliced

yield of his yearly hunt: four bucks, three does,

a miniature pogrom of dainty rodents

on his iPhone, black eyes glassed open.

By Cameron Morse    

Snowflake Projector

An orange extension cord draped over the cold

shoulder of the lawn links the glittering

crystal eyeball of the projector

 

to the portico. All day it casts invisible snowflakes

over the gables and garage door.

In the wreckage of December—empty culm,

 

bird bath sucked to motheaten

leaves and shriveled berries, mailbox lid lolling

in tin metal silence—its light-emitting

 

diodes rotate in their cast iron socket, their black stake

driven among the oak leaves. Its unraveling 

light is unseeable—wasted,

 

or waiting? After nightfall drags its photographer’s

cape over the house we live in,

we enter the darkness. See the light.

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019).

By Cameron Morse  

Day Without Sun

Fog machine morning

our frog figurine lounges

 

in absolute recline, snail

facedown in the flowerbed’s 

 

understory of oak leaves,

its whiskers of catmint.

 

Theo rolls over the happy turtle

below blown-out garden mums.

 

Real oak leaves dock

in mock vegetable garden slots

   

for rubber carrot, plastic onion,

and radish in the Little Tikes

 

cottage. Canadian geese, 

hidden in cloud, creak like swings

 

in the playground of one cloud

smothering the daylong sun,

 

a dark station poised like a curse,

hollow culm that I am. Somewhere

 

in the whiteout, sirens blare.

Silence, somewhere, is making

 

a bed for me. Climb in, says

silence, be tucked

 

in calm, earless on your hands

scrabbling the braille of acorns.   

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019).

34

This, That and the Other Thing                                 

By Michael Steffen

February 15, 2020

A fool and his money, a bird in hand—common proverbs I learned from my mother—

a penny for thoughts, let sleeping dogs lie, and don’t judge a book by its cover.  My humble dad with his old-fashioned views kept a stiff upper lip to his grindstone.  It’s fiction, he swore, that’s stranger than fact.  A faint-hearted lady can never be won. 

 

I, on the other hand, often mused about this, that and the other thing.  How could one person make a difference when two heads were better at figuring?  How, I would question with furrowed brow, could less of a thing be considered more?  My mother clutched a half-knitted blanket and told me, frankly, she wasn’t sure. 

 

She needled her crocheted semblance and sighed, Things often are easier said than done,   and we’re all just doing the best we can.  Her varicose veins glowed like the sun.  My father, in a sleeveless undershirt, his muscled arms for labor made, snored and snuffled  loudly in his lounger through the graceful sadness of Mozart’s score. 

 

Flush with hindsight, they both died speechless, amidst the strident discordance of prayer, decomposing, perhaps, into purer wisdom, or possibly into something rarer—some speck of what the priests call God, some quantum particle left behind—the calming echo of their well-worn words repeating in my troubled mind. 

Michael Steffen is a Y2K graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Vermont College and the author of three full-length poetry collections:  “No Good at Sea” (Legible Press, 2002), “Heart Murmur” (Bordighera Press, 2009) and “Bad Behavior” (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013).  Individual poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Rhino, The Ledge, and other journals.

Only Ten Shopping Days Left

By Michael Steffen

Michael Steffen is a Y2K graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Vermont College and the author of three full-length poetry collections:  “No Good at Sea” (Legible Press, 2002), “Heart Murmur” (Bordighera Press, 2009) and “Bad Behavior” (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013).  Individual poems have appeared in Poetry, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Rhino, The Ledge, and other journals.

A supermarket in late August.

I’m here because I need milk. 

There are others—a girl in a sun dress,

a woman in khaki, her crying baby. 

Already it’s Halloween,

candy and pumpkins on display. 

I feel anxious. 

How far ahead should we live? 

Cantaloupe are migrating south. 

It’s Christmas among the canned goods. 

Five minutes ago, things were different— 

there were fewer wreaths, 

I could see the dairy aisle,

I could linger. 

It’s snowing in Frozen Foods. 

The baby is a toddler, a teen

in a blue parka.  Now she’s woman

with long white hair. 

Almost All

By Mary Rohrer-Dann

A pale flower opening,

my mother’s face.

She knows she knows us.

Perhaps, when we tell her

our names, remembers.

We’ve brought fruit, Danish,

Dunkin Donuts coffee. 

            Wonderful.

Even more now, she responds best to men.

Eyes alight, chin tilted, she strokes

my husband’s muscled forearm.

            You look so good! So young!

She turns, pats my cheek.  

            You look good too. 

Her happiness is forthright. 

Fleeting.

She shudders.

Weeps and weeps and weeps.

 

She cannot remember all she has lost,

but knows she has lost almost all.

What My Mother Gave Me

By Mary Rohrer-Dann

The Christmas I was twelve, Herman’s Hermits.                  

Dvorak’s New World Symphony, Eugene Ormandy 

conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra.                                                         

 

At thirteen, The Monkees, Copeland’s Appalachian Spring.

At fifteen, West Side Story, Tales from Vienna Woods.

Afternoons, I stole away with Jethro Tull, Richie Havens.   

                                               

Downstairs, my mother traveled her own secret trails—                  

Chopin, Mozart, Schumann—as she browned a roast,                                 

folded wash, sewed a sea-green paisley dress for my dance.                                    

 

Home permanent nights, she doused my head in foul lotions,       

winched my hair in pink plastic rollers. We ate cashews                  

and apple slices while Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones               

 

sang If I loved You and You’ll Never Walk Alone.                            

 

She gave me Lanza and Callas.                                 

Later, I took her to see Tosca, Butterfly,                                                       

La Boheme at the Academy of Music.                                                          

           

I will always wish I had taken her to the Met.                                              

 

Softly, through my father’s fevered last days,                                              

she kept the small radio on his dresser playing,                                            

enfolding him in strings, horns, rolling timpani.       

Mary Rohrer-Dann is a writer and painter in central PA, and a recent “graduate” of teaching creative writing and literature at Penn State for more years than she wants to count.  Recent work has appeared in Literary Yard, San Antonia Review (forthcoming), The Drabble, Vita Brevis, Flashes of Brilliance, and Literary Heist (forthcoming). Two of her narrative poem projects, La Scaffetta and Accidents of Being, were adapted to stage by Tempest Productions, Inc. and produced in NYC; State College, PA; and Philadelphia.

33

By P.C. Scheponik

Regal Red Tailed

P.C. Scheponik is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife, Shirley, and their shizon, Bella. His writing celebrates nature, the human condition, and the metaphysical mysteries of life. He has published four collections of poems: Psalms to Padre Pio (National Centre for Padre Pio, INC), A Storm by Any Other Name and Songs the Sea has Sung in Me (PS Books, a division of Philadelphia Stories), and And the Sun Still Dared to Shine (Mazo Publishers). His work has also appeared in numerous literary journals, among them, Adelaide, Visitant, Red Eft Review, Boned, Time of Singing, WINK, Poetry Pacific, Streetlight Press and others. He is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee

He sits, solitary watcher

on the telephone wire.

A young red-tailed hawk,

a crown prince surveying

his future kingdom.

His stature, puffed

in February’s chill.

His feathers,

royal cape draped

about the shoulders

of his folded wings.

This would-be ascendant,

future king of sky and field.

This warrior raptor

whose beak and talons

whose vision and wings

will make small earthbound

animals yield to shadows and fears.

He holds court there

on the lonely station of an otherwise

empty telephone wire—

a force to be reckoned with,

a primal desire to survive,

to rule with the urgency

of wings spread wide enough

to block out the sun for anyone in his path.

Mary Rohrer-Dann is a writer and painter in central PA, and a recent “graduate” of teaching creative writing and literature at Penn State for more years than she wants to count.  Recent work has appeared in Literary Yard, San Antonia Review (forthcoming), The Drabble, Vita Brevis, Flashes of Brilliance, and Literary Heist (forthcoming). Two of her narrative poem projects, La Scaffetta and Accidents of Being, were adapted to stage by Tempest Productions, Inc. and produced in NYC; State College, PA; and Philadelphia.

January 15, 2020

Power Lines

By Amanda Crum 

Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work has appeared in publications such as Barren Magazine and Eastern Iowa Review and in several anthologies, including Beyond The Hill and Two Eyes Open. She is the author of two novels, The Fireman's Daughter and Ghosts Of The Imperial. Her first chapbook of horror-inspired poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow, was shortlisted for a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2015; her story "A Shimmer In The Parlor" was a finalist for the J.F. Powers Prize in Short Fiction in 2019. Amanda's middle-grade fiction book, The Darkened Mirror, will be published in the summer of 2019 by Riversong Books. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.

As tall grass

wavers

inside a citrine twilight

we whisper of specters

trapped inside the old barn

imagine haints

swinging from the beams

where tobacco leaves

wither

 

You speak

of decay and clover

because here they hold hands

but all I can see

is a church

born of tortured sunsets

and cicadas

a place to worship

caught between power lines

CULTURE OF TODAY DESTRUCTS  CULTURE OF THE PAST 

By Martina Rimbaldo

December 15, 2019

32

Martina Rimbaldo is a 28-year-old women who lives and works in Croatia. She always wears a pen and a notebook in her purse in the case of a sudden inspiration in order to write it down. Her poem will be published in Nightingale & Sparrow magazine in August. She loves to paint abstract paintings  ,  read religious books, watch horror as well as old movies. Her goal is to be a good person.

Army of half bare zombies

Marching through the alley of middle-aged cultured town

Eclectic sounds  coming from the background

Forces stone blocks to tremor and tumble down

Massive drinking to  stop your reason thinking

The limit is expelled by  grotesque  burnish -towny  colored  smelling  vomit

Saddened alley remains  silent

We bear the rotten fruit of our tragic youth

No manners turn man into animals

By Amy Gaeta 

Feeders

By Amy Gaeta 

Traffic Lapse 

It’s our one weekend a month.

We ride for hours, or however

long seven Van Morrison songs is anyways.

Next, my mary janes slide me all over the cobbled streets,

begging to be carried, lifted into the magical

den of soft walnut crusted wheat rolls,

maple pecan coffee beans, no, not that

Green Mountain dirt. Only the freshest

for duck feeding season. Sneaking slices by slipping

into my linen pockets.

 

Ducks cluster around the

stash I plan to devour on the

way home. He laughs at me

in lieu of conversation. Two more hours

scheduled of this. Calls me "pack rat",

then begins on our old neighbor.

The hoarder with no heat or power,

Gun parts waiting

to be reassembled, waste catalogued

by month. TLC never shows the organized

 collectors of mass shit. Sudden silence, then he has

 "stuff to do", "Gotta meet a guy".

 

Twenty minutes later I watch as Mom watches the birds who never flew

South. We tear Sara Lee wheat bread,

toss it in plow zones. Hope they find it

first. Hope they are okay for the winter. Hope

they don't regret staying.

Amy Gaeta is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Amy's creative work explores how trauma and injury are ordinary and mundane conditions that shape how we perceive and order the world. Her poetry has been published in various local venues, museum catalogs, and journals. A selection of these include Soundings East, Crab Fat Magazine, OPE! A Madison Anthology, and the 2016 Poetry Speaks catalogue from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. She grew up in Boston and now resides in Madison, WI.

Amy Gaeta is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Amy's creative work explores how trauma and injury are ordinary and mundane conditions that shape how we perceive and order the world. Her poetry has been published in various local venues, museum catalogs, and journals. A selection of these include Soundings East, Crab Fat Magazine, OPE! A Madison Anthology, and the 2016 Poetry Speaks catalogue from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. She grew up in Boston and now resides in Madison, WI.

The flight attendant from Boston

to Milwaukee International lied. The former

would always be colder.

Subtle warmth followed

           the cab

           that was now

          “mine.” Past industrial parks, families,

            outskirts. Soundless,

            until obnoxious-- wheels

            halted, launching my memory

            into the space between last winter

            and this moment before.

 

Squeaks from the dog’s toy,

              cradled between her tail and leg,

              next to everyplace we try

              to sleep. High pitch coos, to/from both of us.

              I stroke your forearm out

              of habit, resulting in ruptures of

             “you scared me!” squeals.

              As if we aren’t constant motion, scattered about

              our room like quickie marts on

              city map grids. In Winter, we slow,

              act like big city strangers, connected

              through shared space, Moving through

              rhythms of our communal

              score: traffic screeches, microwave timers,

              picking the dirt from under nails in a nervous

              manner, buttons breaking on father’s jacket, whip

             cuts of crooked bangs, closing

             clasps of your butterfly pill box.

In 1998, you could practice your French in France

By Natalie Campisi

In 1998, you could practice French in France. The new and old words were still distanced by
water and paper and games of telephone.


It was the year of the Euro. The year of Kosovo. The year of Sampras and the Yankees.


The bus wobbled on steel-belted cartoon wheels toward Montpellier from Paris. Not Marseilles
where they steal your money at knifepoint. We had little money and no credit cards and no gold
to sell in a pinch.


In 1998, you relied on maps and eyes and lips and eyes.


In 1998, old lives couldn’t be accessed through an app and unrequited loves could remain in
amber, forever lithe and limitless, forever Lotte -- not living in Haddonfield with four kids and a
mortgage.


<<Je voudrais deux billets, s'il vous plaît?>>
With paper maps and paper money, we packed on the packed bus with skinny people who
mumbled grunts and slip n’ slide words, a potion of sweet and mildew. The wheel was too big
for the driver’s hands. The mirror too small to see.


The faded baby blue bus was peeling-paint old.


The windows were trimmed in white and had curved corners.


A man pressed against me. I sent this postcard of the man pressing against me to my older self,
and I received it -- perhaps in the middle of the night -- and realized he had assaulted me. He had
pressed his body against mine on purpose. It wasn’t just a packed train. Assault is a big word
when time gets between action. Too big. But, memory remains. I hated it.


I send a postcard back to my 22-year old self: “Push him away. Disez: Arrêtez! Arrêtez!”


But, no. It’s in amber now. The bus keeps moving.


In 1998, Montepellier was a college town. Probably still is. With old Roman light, and curved
streets and corners that spiral around into other universes. A Pasolini dream of youth and sex and
light and infinity.


Where was la plage? Où est la plage? Open sesame. Another bus, this one with kids our age.
College kids. Skinny, loud college kids. Backpacks, not ergonomic like American backpacks, in
mismatched colors -- feminine, like this country.


Accidents are scientific phenomena that are caused by destiny. They are caused by magnets that
pull us. Invisible air marshals. Waves that we hop on and ride by hunch, a temporary tunnel of
force until we get to our destination.


Whoosh. Gasp. Ding. Palavas Les Flots! A spit of beach that was handspun out of blue cotton
candy and pale yellow gauze.


A wave. A magnet. A marshal.


In 1998, the streets of Palavas are thin and lean.


Maybe it was late morning or late afternoon, it was late something. The end of some section of
time. This is important. Because it was Sunday. And nothing is guaranteed on a Sunday. This is a
rule of life.


The Sea and Cake Hotel was vertical and lean like a dancer who smoked.


And the windows, long and narrow and open, let through a breeze that blew sheer curtains
toward us, the wind choosing a shape.


Let us take a moment to think about drapery. There is drapery meant to conceal. And drapery
meant to adorn. And drapery meant to give dimension to the outside. A windowless frame
provides a clear picture. A window provides a view with distortion. A sheer drape over a window
on a frame provides a tease.


On the beach, the circles of young bodies hunch like hooks and smoke hashish rolled into small
cigarettes with some tobacco mixed in. They motion and we sit.


Across the Atlantic is a blonde Hungarian disguised as an American. His skin is pink and his
eyes are blue. His hair is curled, down to his shoulders. His teeth are big and his smile is
venomous. He will go to Samoa. She will never send him a postcard when she’s older.


In 1998, under this vertical sky, under a happy film of hashish, the Hungarian in American
accent has vanished. It’s just now.


A whirl of half-naked bodies pack into a small French car. It zooms sideways down beach-town
roads.


The day would be the sea. The night would be homemade pastis: anise, licorice root, and boiled
sugar poured into a bottle of vodka. Steaks and green beans. Ketchup for the Americans. A song
about love. A song about AIDS. Kissing in French and speaking without words.


Sleeping bodies tangled up. Sleeping bodies on a beach. Sweetness in the breath that comes from
the gut. Everything is smooth. Everything is bright.


In 1998, you could practice French in France. You could hang your underwear off a rucksack to
dry. You could kiss sweet breath in $2 flip flops without feeling self conscious. You could be
naked in the sea and know that this moment is Le Morne Brabant.


You can take it with you for later. There are always leftovers.

31

By Kate Lohnes

atop our dublin apartment a crash of blackbirds 

curdled my body cuts

sharp lines in shadowed turf

on roof bedded you sprawl yourself

glowing there in sun’s soft syrup

each sprouted follicle lit and glossy

 

were there any love

you might have felt it then

i recall only erosion on the banks

of our anatomy    how i let myself open

like canyon

split to wounds of earth shifting

those shared breaths

steaming off me hot

as i paw fake grasslocks till sky

snaps in wineblack fury

above us

 

like runaway kite or fighter jet hurling

or snake

slick tongue wet with promise

begging of me only ever

consume

 

some moments are too viscous

to condense further:

i took one bite of sweetflesh

wet chin ever coiling stream

 

i formed a river of myself  

Kate Lohnes is a senior at the University of Iowa studying Philosophy and Creative Writing. She spent time reading for The Iowa Review and has been published by the Iowa Chapbook Prize [creative work] and Encyclopaedia Britannica [academic work]. 

The Funeral

By Linda Rhinehart

Linda Rhinehart is a poet, writer and translator who has been writing for almost three years. She first began writing when she was accidentally invited to a poetry festival and became inspired. Over the course of her life she has lived in the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. She holds an MA in Translation and another MA in English Literature. In her spare time she enjoys playing piano and going on short hikes.

there is a cold breeze in this place
the touch of the door handle under my finger-
tips is ice steel and silver
eons of loneliness inscribed in one touch
in the hours before wakefulness

the next day is warm but not
enough to dispel the breeze’s whispering
among the garish flowers
magenta neon and solemn geraniums
that line the polished funeral car

I try to shrink and hide from the eyes
of the breeze and from its silent laughter
among the cars cyclists and funeral-goers 
but in the silence it recognizes me
with its unblinking never-sleeping eye 

Natalie Campisi is a journalist and fiction writer currently residing in Los Angeles. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in fiction and her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Auburn Literary Journal, and Writer Magazine. She was recently awarded a writing scholarship to the Chautauqua Institution in New York. Currently, Natalie's producing, directing and performing in a fully improvised play based on the work of Wes Anderson, which is running at ImproTheatre in Los Angeles.

November 15, 2019

By Rachael Mayer

Breakfast

I remember breakfast. 
September, 1939. 
The kitchen is more like a free floating box 
than a room in a framed-out house, 
a box suspended in ether
now that
two out of three of us are dead.
Breakfast, 
and there's no relief
from an interrogating sun. The light 
in the kitchen is so white 
the edges of the room will singe—my 
grandmother’s spine is so straight
she is like a lamppost 
though her arms
and hands are busy, her elbows sharp–
she will be like this all her life, 
tall and sinewy—
she has lots to say
though her back is turned.
My mother is looking at her back.
I see her round pale face, and her wintry 
blue eyes—she is squinting,
somewhat frozen in minutes.
Her snowy curls are so sweet, so soft
like actual cotton flower—they camouflage 
her anguish, her lost father,
abandonment in many episodes is preordained.
You can see how young she is
by the dimples in her hands. 
There is a generous serving
of cruelty with her porridge
though it is of the 
for your own good variety.
Half of me was there, a follicle.

Rachael Mayer’s poetry has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Hudson Valley Echoes, The Avatar Review, Poetry Quarterly, Typishly and is forthcoming in Mothers Always Write. Ms. Mayer lives with her family in Montclair, New Jersey.

October 15, 2019

30

Hoarded Birds

By Samantha DeFlitch 

I think a lot about a red knife my uncle held in his hands

on the night my grandmother died.

 

I never actually saw the knife

but my father woke me before mass,

told me to avoid the kitchen.

 

This was before a tamed canary

grew very wild inside of my throat,

and I travelled as far south as Guadalajara

to find a doctor who would remove it, whole.

She shook her head, no, no,

this is a thing you must do yourself.

 

One morning in a dining room, maybe,

with the daybreak haloing fresh lavender

someone has arranged on the tablecloth.

 

There are no miracles anywhere,

unless the bird takes flight and carries us

north once more.

Turnpike Toll-Taker

By Samantha DeFlitch 

Why the man in a green shirt? See –

half asphalt, half me, toll taker

hovering over damp roads where

is the interchange, the city? I am old.

A gull over an ocean. The reckoning

brought on – my children.

 

Headlights live inside the third eye

of the final deer. I am nights full of

Garth Brooks, motorcycles, the last

cars westbound – drivers, red-ringed eyes,

eyes, me! Awake! 1:37 in the morning I

am the fourth side of a triangle, alone.

Samantha received her MFA from the University of New Hampshire, where she is the Associate Director of the Connors Writing Center and recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial Award for Poetry, as judged by Shelley Girdner. Her work has appeared both online and in traditional literary journals, in places including Rattle, Appalachian Heritage, The New Engagement, and On the Seawall. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Samantha received her MFA from the University of New Hampshire, where she is the Associate Director of the Connors Writing Center and recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial Award for Poetry, as judged by Shelley Girdner. Her work has appeared both online and in traditional literary journals, in places including Rattle, Appalachian Heritage, The New Engagement, and On the Seawall. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

By Robert Lesher

Chief Billy

I sit with Chief Billy,

 

Coming home

 

On the Outer Wharf bus.

 

He hums to himself,

 

Hands folded on his lap.

 

Billy is mostly Hiada;

 

Lives at a halfway

 

On Dallas Road.

 

In 1964 a drinking binge

 

Brought him from Nanaimo

 

To a pub on View Street.

 

“I spend five years falling down.

 

My sister took the bus here

 

To find me,

 

To say our mother had passed.

 

Twice she came here.

 

But she never found me.

 

I was too drunk.

 

I was invisible.”

 

His voice is thick and dark brown

 

As the wet earth of the Malahat,

 

White hair to his waist

 

flowing like elf clouds

 

around and over crowds

 

Of forest peaks

 

just beyond the Alberni inlet.

 

“I am sober now,

 

For the last few years.

 

I will stay that way

 

So that,

 

If nothing else,

 

My mother’s spirit

 

May haunt me

 

For the rest of this life.”

Robert Lesher has appeared in Electrum, Voices International, Cathartic, and most recently in Big Smoke. Robert also has a non-fiction piece published in Splash of Red. Since 1965, Robert has been a professional musician and song writer, mostly in the Blues Idiom. He lives with his wife, Jana, his four cats and a dog, in the house he was raised in, in Fullerton, California.

September 15, 2019

29

Look Into the Light

By David Bankson

1

My pills inspire mirrors

to keep my novel spine from snapping shut.

 

Stars punch effortlessly through

the vision of a street lamp halo

 

in a language we all share:

call it aesthetics or beauty.

 

Sucking the yellow from our brushes

until stars shine brighter than any lamp.

 

Swallow the light until your jaw

                       falls open.

 

Do we even speak the same language?

I turn my face to the mirror

 

                       and break open

                       the night.

 

2

It's true that I've been the eldest, youngest, middle, and only

child amid 8 different marriages      & it's true

 

I love guilt    it is my roof it is my mattress

my own heart ready to take it when water rises

 

(if I only had looked then I'd have known of cancellation)

(if I wasn't so often out of my head I could have stopped

 

the robbery) & in the day I invoke the moon

& fall to my calloused hands in supplication

 

to ask my own heart & mind for answers & answers & answers

& afterwards stand & dust myself off

 

look into a pool of moon-filled water & answer with

nothing    nothing    nothing

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, {isacoustic*}, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, and others.

Back then you were a globe

By David Bankson

held apart by ocean arms,

melted glaciers refrozen,

vodka & ice castles,

 

your exterior severe

 

as the dusk's late light, draining

every window in the house with day-

 

killing darkness; I

 

stitched together the broken bits of myself

& learned to ignore loose threads

& pricked thumbs.

 

I learned of the difference

 

between being silver & moon

glimmering on the top of a stray puddle.

 

Between hearts & the seas

without end I mistook them for.

 

Surrendering & being seen

to have surrendered. A globe

& a land without smooth slopes.

 

Between such an example of weakness

& leaving before it could be proven.

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, {isacoustic*}, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, and others.

The Meaning of Dawn Snow

By David Bankson

Sorrow on a soil gaining the weight

of snow. A moon giving no light.

You tear down an overpass. You shout for help

while cities drown and trampled violets shrivel,

the sky pinched with panic.

 

Snow destroys color in a story.

Snow baby steps. Snow loses

its head and recalculates.

 

What you see unblends

into modern disquiet,

discolor. That water cooler flavor

while you disassociate from that cutting room

 

until the newest beginning. While you reply

with a black stare, meaning drops and cracks.

Black, meaning difference and division.

 

"I know a little more

how much...a snowfall

can mean to a person." -Plath

 

Black-and-white snow, return to your cloud.

Meaning: I want to see the sky again.

 

 

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, {isacoustic*}, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, and others.

The Shaking

By Lili Weckler

Maybe the body is a location. Like a nation.

Its outline infinitely long as a shoreline.

 

There were three girls who taught me to police myself.

 

They claimed access to magic: voodoo

dolls of ostracized boys (buried in the field),

who later came down with strange illnesses.

 

Boddich, from old English: a brewing pot;

the body ferments, cooked by the organisms

in the air. Stirred, preferably, but not shaken.

 

Magic might have freed my body, made me servant

only to time and uncontrollable rain;

to underworlds of sticks and dark silt.

 

Boddich. Sounds like witch. The body a

cauldron, a landmass, an infinite moving location.

 

Magic, let let me ferment! Said my young

spleen, my new heart with its natural tenderness,

my little liver, learning its miraculous churning of blood.

 

But magic instead was usurped, by the feverish

games of truth or dare in my mother’s basement;

our fingers publicly stuck in our crevices.

 

The original passage I granted my own

hands also given to the malicious eyes

of these girls, to their promise of initiation

if I succumbed, first, to their torment.

 

From their gaze, I learned that my body

was too fat, my hair ugly, my voice

chafing and dumb. I learned that I knew

too little or too much, depending

on the context, learned that I must struggle

to change myself, if I wanted to be loved.

 

Maybe the body is a glass jar

filled with water, magnifying the world

outside. A liquid body, but capped; in a case.

 

This is how we are trained. By our hungers.

This is how we lose our sense of our own infinity.

 

Our liquid is made discrete

by a vessel’s walls, and the vessel

is those we wish will accept us.

 

We are made by wanting.

Lili Weckler is a multi-disciplinary artist from Oakland, CA. She is the Artistic Director of Lili Weckler | Unhinge Dance Theater, and is currently choreographing a dance rock-opera she wrote and composed for the SF International Arts Festival. She holds an Interdisciplinary Arts MFA from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for poetry in 2010, and her publications include Thin Air Magazine, Blue River Review and sPARKLE and bLINK, among others. Also a musician, she released a folk-rock album in 2017.

August 15, 2019

28

"Self Portrait."

Heather Dorn has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Binghamton University where she teaches writing. Her poetry and prose can be found in The American Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Ragazine, and other similar journals. Drawing and digital art has always been a creative outlet for Heather.

from the top looking down

By Luke Harvey

He used to make up names and stories for him,

stories that told of tragic accidents

or unrequited love. Or how he’d seen

something he wasn’t supposed to see and then

had sought asylum in the Boston streets,

sharing his secret with the crackheads and

the corner prostitutes who tell him “sweetie

I know it must be hard.” 

                               Now none of it

was true of course, but when you’re high up in

your penthouse office suite, a hit of blow

lining your cedar desk, the dread-locked man

who digs the cans with dirt-caked claws below

the overhang of the downtown Holiday Inn

is better entertainment than another

shot of internet porn.

                           He can’t imagine

what it must be like to dive in other’s

waste, to finger through their soggy fries

so fat and soft like city sewer slugs,

or to what depths of shame you stoop to find

yourself a picker of the street-life’s shit, the dregs

of the human race. He tries to imagine how

he’d will to go on living if every day

was desperate search for sustenance, and he vows

he’ll never reach that point, to see a day

when life’s reduced to scraping and clinging on.

But never him, not the twenty-first century’s youngest 

CEO of the largest firm in Boston!

The intercom rings and yanks him coldly past

his window musings as Bekah let’s him know 

his wife has brought him lunch.

                                He tells her to send

her up, clears his search-bar history, scans through

his cell-phone messages, and sniffs the cocaine

off the desk. Outside, the man has left

his post. He wonders how you could live like that. 

By Luke Harvey

on coming home to an eviction notice

“You don't ask what a dance means. You enjoy it. You don't ask what the world means. You enjoy it."  - Joseph Campbell

We are young today, my dear,

in a world that makes no sense,

and whether we'll understand

one day, nobody can say.

 

But we are young today,

my dear -- so let us dance,

spinning to the sound

of neighbors shouting upstairs,

then pirouetting past

the pile of unpaid bills

peering out cooly from

their plastic windowsills

with urgent time-stamped stares.

 

Let's laugh a laugh that resounds

above the city sounds

of taxicabs that pinball

past in seedy streets

below, a laugh that drowns

the drone of evening news

evaporating through

the plastered walls too thin

to block the mumbles of

the neighbor's TV set --

the traffic's heavily clogged

on East Magnolia St.

 

And then let's sing, my dear,

let's sing the sort of song

that takes the smoggy rain

of weeping city skies

[drumming the window-unit

that hangs itself outside

like wire-dangled sneakers]

and turns it into tin-roof

rain on a farmhouse night,

a soothing lullaby

to hush our wind-tossed minds

and settle us both in sleep.

 

And when we wake with hair

turned grey, my love, when knees

that work are a delicacy

we can no longer afford,

and our voices cannot sing

since our ears no longer hear

the soundtrack of the city --

when we cannot twirl and laugh

the way we've done before,

careening past the empty

fridge in barefoot frolic --

I hope you'll come outside

to sit with me silence

up on the fire escape,

and I will bring you tea

with almond milk -- the kind

with hint of hazelnut --

to sip while from above

we watch the youthful streets

go hustling on below.

But we are young today,

my dear, alone in a world

that makes no sense. Let's dance.

After a stint as a college athlete, Luke graduated with his BA in English and MA in teaching. He currently teaches high school English, coaches baseball, and writes on the side. Luke is planning on pursuing his MFA in the next year. His focus on poetry is to give a voice to the "least of these." 

After a stint as a college athlete, Luke graduated with his BA in English and MA in teaching. He currently teaches high school English, coaches baseball, and writes on the side. Luke is planning on pursuing his MFA in the next year. His focus on poetry is to give a voice to the "least of these." 

By Ron Riekki

To the Person Who Stole My Clothes at the Laundromat

Films

By Ron Riekki

Ron Riekki’s books include U.P. (Ghost Road Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and the upcoming My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press, 2019) and i have been warned not to write about this (Main Street Rag, 2020).  Riekki co-editedUndocumented (Michigan State University Press) and The Many Lives of The Evil Dead (McFarland), and edited And Here (MSU Press), Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book).  He has anthologies upcoming with Edinburgh University Press, McFarland, MSU Press, and WSU Press.

I don’t mind.  I still have my car.  That green T-shirt

was a present that I only used for weightlifting, a shirt

like a shamrock on fire.  Those socks were old.  Wait,

 

that’s not the right word.  Those socks were oooooold.

They owed money.  They were homeless.  Those socks

sucked.  They were sick.  You own them now.  Or they

 

own you.  And my underwear, well, they were dead,

pretty much cadavers, medical school corpses, sawed

up for multiple classes.  I mean, here’s my point:

 

there had to be a lot of choices in that ’mat.  Any—

and I mean any—of those swirling holes would’ve

held more of a treasure than my stupid circus-y pile.

 

But you had your choice and I am seriously happy

that you didn’t take my car.  I had a friend who had

his computer stolen and he committed suicide right

 

after that; I’d mentioned how they seemed linked

and someone told me I’m crazy to think that, but

there are things you can steal that can destroy lives,

 

and without my car, I’d lose my job.  But without

my clothes, it’s no big deal.  I just show up naked,

my boss looking at me like I’m an idiot.  And I am.

I like to watch films sometimes.

I know, I’m strange that way.

 

You just do things that are different.

Like I had a roommate who did LSD

 

so many times that he’d walk in the room

and just stand in the doorway and stare.

 

I’d say, “How you doin’, Jim?”

(His name wasn’t Jim in real life,

 

just in this fake poem.)

And he wouldn’t say anything.

 

He’d just stare, like he was seeing

speech come to life and walk around

 

the room, like the walls were having

sex with the ceiling and if he moved

 

it’d break their concentration.

And I’d just stare at him staring

 

at nothing and it was like this amazing

anti-drug campaign where all I wanted

 

was to be so sober that I’d feel

all my pain everyday as clear as can be.

Ron Riekki’s books include U.P. (Ghost Road Press), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle), and the upcoming My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press, 2019) and i have been warned not to write about this (Main Street Rag, 2020).  Riekki co-editedUndocumented (Michigan State University Press) and The Many Lives of The Evil Dead (McFarland), and edited And Here (MSU Press), Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book).  He has anthologies upcoming with Edinburgh University Press, McFarland, MSU Press, and WSU Press.

By Isabelle Doyle

Mama’s Girl

Persephone knew a thing or two about bitterness even before she was a dead girl walking. It’s one thing to be dragged into hell; it’s another to live with your mother humming in your blood and bone— to be born with a wound that her want shines through. So when Hades stole the daughter and branded her with spiders that made spirals up her thighs and ran in rings around the flowers Demeter painted on her shoulders, when he squeezed her with love until her body was blue, it was just another cage her soft skin got her in, nothing new. Hades’ mother loved him too much, too, cut the crusts off his sandwiches and made his twin-size bed, and sang him to sleep and cradled his head, and look how little good it did. Look at the person he is.

Isabelle Doyle is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown University, studying English and Literary Arts. Her poetry has been published in such literary magazines as Bluestem Magazine, Typo Magazine, Thin Noon, Cargoes, The Blue Pencil Online, The Round, Clerestory, and Triangle. Her full-length poetry manuscript, BABYFACE, was the 2018 recipient of the Frances Mason Harris Prize, established in 1983, which is awarded annually to a woman undergraduate or graduate student at Brown University for a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose-fiction.

27

July15, 2019

“Monday-Thursday." 

Heather Dorn has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Binghamton University where she teaches writing. Her poetry and prose can be found in The American Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Ragazine, and other similar journals. Drawing and digital art has always been a creative outlet for Heather.

By Meghan Sterling'

If I Could Speak: Florida, 1996

Passing a cigarette in the parking lot,

the words of the actress echoed in your

mouth. “I’m not sorry. Are you sorry?”

I was 16 and I watched your mouth

as I waited for the right moment

to tell you that I liked girls.

You had a long sloping jaw and a space

between your front teeth, a sidelong glance

that made me feel invisible. It was a brief

friendship, and I was sorry, but because

I didn’t know how to read you.

Were you? Weren’t you?

My hand grazed yours and I felt sick

in my stomach. You didn’t flinch.

You danced in the car lights like they did in

Natural Born Killers, your long arms sweeping

up slowly toward a sky heavy with Florida

rain clouds, threatening. You were daring

it to rain, in a white button down shirt with no bra,

your breasts like car lighters about to pop

with their circular heat.

Meghan Sterling's work has been published in Driftwood Press, lingerpost, the Chronogram, red paint hill, Balancing Act, the Sandy River Review, Sky Island Journal and many others. Her chapbook, How We Drift, was published by Blue Lyra Press in the Fall of 2016. Meghan will be attending a residency at Hewnoaks Artists' Colony in September, 2019. Her work can be found at meghansterling.com.

By Meredith Cottle

Inertia

Seeking: Someone to lean against when I’m shaky.

 

On the green tongues of the farmers moving their

cattle and in the blue eyes of the girls kick-flipping

over one another in the schoolyard there are matches

burning like the last good firecracker, the one that

really booms. On the fingertips of every old man

strumming his banjo during breakfast on a Sunday,

and the lips of all the redshirted kids who silently

sweep half-chewed kernels off the theater floors there

is a rattle like the last leaf on a tree in November, or

my grandmother drawing her signature. It is fragile,

like most precious, useless commodities, ceramic bowls

and glass birds waiting to be smashed, like it would

be a relief from the solitude of perfection or stillness.

 

Seeking: Someone to smash me out of my stillness.

 

It aches to be the listless sprocket among others which

know how to move, even if they are not moving yet.

You feel the way they tick beneath their skin, pipe

bombs anticipating the deliverance of chaos. Maybe

your skeleton isn’t cut out for that kind of destruction.

Your bones may be uncommonly heavy, your feet

unusually firm in their fixed position; like some expert

ballerina, plié. The dancer spins alone, some concave

creature operating under its own power. An automobile

struggling up a hill when no one is around, this is a

solitary performance. There is no audience, she just

turns, waiting for someone to stop her. She just turns.

Meredith Cottle is a poet from New York studying at Binghamton University. Her work has appeared in the online magazines Ragazine and Shrew Literary Magazine, and the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay's literary journal The Sheepshead Review. In her spare time she plays guitar and collects jackets.

By Nathan Harrell

Morning’s Choir

Nathan Harrell is a self-taught poet and currently works in the finance industry to help pay for his book and ukulele habit. Nathan currently lives in Evansville Indiana with his wife and three children. 

Dawn comes slowly, stumbling in like a shoeless wino. I sit by a quiet fire, made quieter by the soft misty fog settling in like a whisper around me. I can hear my oldest son snoring in our tent nearby, his heavy breathing is mixed with the sweet trill of the warblers and the morning chorus that surrounds us. Life is rarely made up of moments that feel made specifically for your happiness, so I will sit here staring at the muted fire, drink my coffee and thank the trees for their knowledge. 

By Meredith Cottle

Hallelujah

8 minutes ‘til the cataclysm. It hits like no one expected; slow.

Strollers stop being pushed. Birds begin to fall from the sky.

The oceans float weightlessly upward. Ponytails go up like

matches. The firetrucks melt in motion. Good-byes lay

singed in the dirt. Somehow, even though there is nothing,

there is still dirt. There is no more cherry soda. Hallelujah.

Surf’s up. The trash piled, wheezing over the landfills is gone.

Storefront windows turn a sickening, blistered red. Your pants

are missing. The dog is missing. There are no more bad days.

Meredith Cottle is a poet from New York studying at Binghamton University. Her work has appeared in the online magazines Ragazine and Shrew Literary Magazine, and the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay's literary journal The Sheepshead Review. In her spare time she plays guitar and collects jackets.

26

June 15, 2019

https://seanjohnsonarts.net 
Delilah.jpg

Sean Johnson was born in Houston, Texas where she attended University of Houston. There she majored in Education and minored in Art. Though she has always been a writer, her interest in visual arts began in 2012.  Since that time she has been a featured live painter, exhibition artist, and vendor at Block Market, Black Girl Excellence, Survivor Seminar, Midtown Arts Center, and a host of other events.  Many of her works are centered on personal experiences, poems she has written, and life as a Black woman

Instagram: @seanjohnsonarts

Facebook.com/SeanJohnsonArts

Twitter: @seanjohnsonarts

https://seanjohnsonarts.net 

Cathedrals

By Beate Sigriddaughter

A little girl hardly trusts God,

but puts her pennies on the plate at church

just in case. This cannot be discussed

with certain authorities. God is

for adults, and they are all in agreement. 

 

She stares at stained glass

windows spelling grace, yearning, wealth. 

How rich the churches must have been.

Later she comes to know more.

Maybe artists didn’t cost much; maybe

 

lives cost less, but

business was good. Any awkward woman

could be accused as witch, condemned to

confess, and her property seized. 

That of her family as well. 

 

The golden chalice gleams. The mystical

creations reflect the light

of the impartial sun

so purely, or of candles, rich garments,

threaded with gold. 

 

One woman cured a bishop with herbs, and was

so bold as to ask for payment; take that

for female wisdom. He accused her of

witchcraft and she was burned

before the payment came due. 

 

Sweet smoke of incense and candle wicks,

not burning flesh under the incense,

not a hint of evil intent in the clarity of blood

stained glass vision.

 

Sometimes she is almost certain the inquisitors,

as all religious fanatics, believed they were

serving God and the world and were serving them well. 

Gloria in excelsis deo. 

 

She imagines each stone paid for by the household

of a woman condemned. She shudders

and prays to be wrong. 

Here And There

By Bruce McRae

Here, life’s handiwork and idle rumblings,

solar oscillations, quantum waves in suspected ether,

the diminishing radius of what lies untouched, unseen.

Here and there, strange truths spooled and pleated,

making new mysteries from old water and fire,

we ‘carbon-based hydrogen-eaters’ gulping

at the sight of spooks and thought of spectres,

asking big questions in the small hours –

why are we? and what are we for?

 

Here, the full spectrum of joy and inviolable grieving,                 

filtered light trickling down from the cosmic overhang,

a thin and wearisome light, bloodshot with endless journeying,

spatiotemporal meanderings in a void sans frontiers,

every proton a miracle of misunderstanding,

all that strangeness and charm, the timeless spinning,

wheel somersaulting inside of wheel, then turning for home,

walking through the door and no one there to greet you,

every atom in your ringing soul tarnished by the perfect vacuum.

Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.net, is poet laureate of Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment). Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and poetry awards. New books out in 2018 are Xanthippe and Her Friends (FutureCycle Press) and Postcards to a Young Unicorn (Salador Press). 

By John Grey

FISHING VILLAGE FOG

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

I’m walking through cool rising fog,

so thick, the street-lamps barely shimmer,

 

traffic lights foam and if I wasn’t thinking

I wouldn’t know I was here.

 

Boats are in and tethered.

Fishermen gather in their favorite cash-only bar.

 

Only the smell of the catch remains,

a fog for the nose, impossible to sniff through.

 

I’m making my way up the narrow sidewalk

to the home I’m renting for the season.

 

Night’s moving in but without the animus

of what’s rolling in.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in the Homestead Review, Harpur Palate and Columbia Review with work upcoming in the Roanoke Review, the Hawaii Review and North Dakota Quarterly.  

25.

May 15, 2019

By DF Paul

For Wong Kar Wai

DF Paul is a writer living in the Midwestern United States. He has no special qualifications to add legitimacy to his writing. His most recent work can be seen in Open Minds' Quarterly, and at Midnight Lane Boutique. A complete list of his published work can be seen at: www.dfpaul.wordpress.com

Wounded creatures live

outside measured time.

Above the after,

inside what has passed,

never in between

insight and existence.

By Evan Williams

Dead Buck: I

*Inspired by Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s Dead Doe: I*

 

Dead buck in the basement.

Electrical issues: no, suicide:

Maybe. Sixteen is a trap

 

With blue eyes and blonde hair;

Pavement gone bleary: yes

 

Mothers are whatever fathers say they are:

no, father—You are

whatever mother says you are: yes

Flames blazing in the Sunday heat—

A funeral: no

Cremation: yes

 

Muddled beauty in a crumbling roadside inn—

The commercial value of paint-stripped pillars in Perry County: low

The commercial value of painted and lacquered bars in Perry County: high

 

I am he: no

I am she: yes

Says the boy in defiance of educational authority,

A soul perturbed by the little nowhere

Town tumbleweeds that roam: unexplained

 

Boy’s tears or girl’s tears: same response

To meeting dead bucks on the school bus,

Antlers taking seats: stand

 

Bully destroys art project: once—shame

On Him—Bully destroys art project: twice—shame

On me—Bully destroys art project: thrice—

Pencil goes through his hand.

 

He’s done for, Mother,

In the most unremarkable of ways.

Evan Williams is a first year athlete the University of Chicago. He is unable to properly wind a hose, and often burns himself while lighting candles. 

By Leonora Simonovis

I Dream of Yeasty Corners

and cockroaches         our

building gulps me in

my mother screams during

a black out      there’s

an elevator but no way out           

the owl outside my window

stares   I step on white

eagle feathers    see a raven

drinking dirty water from

a rain puddle   a man

tells me about whale songs

suddenly I’m leash walking

a female wolf     she doesn’t

look at me       I tell her I’m

not her master             a chain

appears between my hand and her neck

Leonora is a Latinx writer, educator, and poet who grew up in Venezuela and currently live in San Diego, CA. She has a PhD in Literature and will be starting her MFA in Poetry at Antioch University in December. Her work has appeared in ROAR, The American Journal of Poetry, Tiferet Journal, Non-Binary Review, and Revista fron//tera, among others.

24.

April 15, 2019

By Andrew Shields

Face Paint

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

On her cheek, a crescent moon

waxes imperceptibly among

stars its light effaces.

 

On her other cheek, a star

wobbles infinitesimally with

its unseen planets and moons.

 

Scrubbed off, they wash

invisibly away

with the swirling bathwater.

By Andrew Shields

New Life Stories

It's time to tell a new life story

            to someone on a train,

a meandering tale of darker glory,

            to spin again and again.

 

You never know what you'll have to do,

            so have one more to share

with someone that you're handcuffed to

            about what led you there.

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

For Us

By Alexandra Kulik

We have gone separate ways.

 

I sit in a monk’s robe on Mt. Tremper,

pulling my breath down by the last fiber

of my umbilical cord hanging through the navel ring

you expected me to have that first time

sun eclipsed moon.

 

In just one month sounds warm
and flower on my tongue
ho ja ya chi …. chiri ni shiu ra, wisteria.

I walk rice cakes to the cabin, tired

bear patting a fattened belly in the morning

I wake without you in the forest

fear frog-hops out puddles and I run

to where bells are ringing.

 

            You watch the jellyfish rumps of women

            slime the walls and bar stools of a café
            in Havana,

wild red shoes scratch the itching skin
            of your secret underground while you’re dreaming
            Bucanero drowns your manuscript and carries it to sea.


 

I’m crawling to peak alone for once,
barefooting fanged hills, a downpour
of nails the abbott swears should cease

but I see Jesus up there with doves
at his feet and it seems he’s really

packed a lot for me.
 

            You’re entering the pregnant belly alone for once,  
            plunging into the salt world your genitals
            swimming through ghost ovaries
            and food pulp and seaweed you come
            to understand you’re a rare lordly fish
            and must not broil in the sun. (I told you this
            all along)

            my love,

 

I hope when the times comes

we are not torpedos splitting the Atlantic,
but tortoises toppling down hills roaming the eastern railroads.
I hope when we meet again,

billions of years from now, it will be springtime
in the universe gone to find itself

 

and they’ll have left a home

for us
with a quaint flower bed

and little golden bugs from the seed of time
and a place to sit and entwine and
maybe, if we think it fit, conceive
the new world.

By Andrew Shields

Detour

I missed my exit and had to take

the scenic route, but I couldn't see

a thing in the fog, not even the lake

beside the road, or a single tree.

 

I stopped without being sure

whether I'd reached an unknown end

or was too tired after my detour

to look around another bend.

Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems "Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong" was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album "Somebody's Hometown" in 2015 and the EP "Défense de jouer" in 2016.

By David Bankson

Untitled 

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, {isacoustic*}, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, and others.

I am a man who shouldn't be.

 

I wouldn't rise

I would never.

I would--

 

                        Show me how to hug without choking.

 

Don't look at me, the no one made of smog.

I am silence & houses of string.

 

Don't seek me out.

This is no game.

Nobody wins.

 

Nobody hides here, too.

Into the Sea

By David Bankson

there was a time when I couldn't breathe

 

they started sending film crew when things got too fake.

they took their spotlights there.

the worm began to tunnel,

                            where waves lap

                            forgotten memories

                            are flame dresses

                            visions of scalps, blood

                            reverse revelation --

too large for the room,

listening for ships passing in the night

to horns that sound like the fish I've seen.

 

"I hear drowning to death is preferable."

 

the ladles of logic are slipping

the house paint on the plank siding

is in curls --

 

I'm not a demon, but am I worth it?

power lines whipping in the dusk,

feeling that flames.

 

the following evening after it sank

I say: "The fish always know first."

 

                             but the fish have died since then.

Alexandra Kulik' work has been published in Bayou Magazine, Punch Drunk Press, Sweet Tree Review, and Black Fox Literary Magazine, among others

David Bankson lives in Texas. He was finalist in the 2017 Concīs Pith of Prose and Poem contest, and his poetry and microfiction can be found in concis, (b)oink, {isacoustic*}, Artifact Nouveau, Riggwelter Press, Five 2 One Magazine, and others.

23.

March 15, 2019

By John Stephens 

The Seedman's Watchers 

A dog gnaws at a juicy bone, and from a rock

comes the sharp chuck-chuck of a blackbird. 

 

The day is too dark for shadows,

and the seedsman, in his steady rhythm

 

slowly slices the ground hardened by time       

into a shallow, 4-by-8 pit. 

 

The bird lingers, as does the hound.

The seedsman hunches over his shovel, 

 

then knuckles the hard soil into a mound. 

How many planks does he need? 

 

Does good wood need linseed oil?

The neighbor hangs laundry, her tired dress 

 

drips like the oil off his rag. Her full body 

works like habit. Bowing his head,

 

he nails the planks. The leaves slip off trees,

to what is a yearn. These are not

 

the only things turning. The first cool gust 

of fall blows its invisible wants, 

 

and the seedsman fits the empty raised bed

into the pit. He looks at his wrist watch,

 

turns over more earth. Now, behind the glass pane,

she is bare. And he steals a long glance, intently,

 

continues to work, and her screen door 

slides shut like the last prayer in church. 

JOHN STEPHENS is the author of Return to the Water, (C & R Press June 2013) which was reviewed by, The Georgia Review (Dec. 20, 2013). Other published work include poems in, Stone River Sky, An Anthology of Georgia Poems (2015), Iodine Poetry Journal (2016), Amarillo Bay (2016), Stream Ticket (2016), Boston Accent (2016), Head and Hand Press (2016), Glassworks Magazine (2016) and ArLiJo (Gival Press) 2016.  John lives in Milton, Ga. and his gifts have helped to establish the Adam Stephens Night Out for Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry @TECH series.

By John Stephens 

A Showers Edge

She watches a drizzle of wind turn the plastic pinwheel

of red. Her thoughts flicker like a vintage 16mm film,

where boredom jabs without making a puncture.

 

She steps off the porch, yanks a dress off a chair,

Reaches in the soft fabric, pulls out a Ziploc

and Zig-Zags. Droplets run down

 

her breasts in a rush for intimacy. She

bends, shifts, tugs the dress over her head 

rainwaters fall more and more swiftly.  

 

Smells the rain in her hair. Breathes out

a burst of vapor, that hangs as if nailed to a wall. 

Twirls sluggishly, Dylan turns on a cassette deck. 

 

Stretches out her tongue to catch the waters,

feels herself slowly being blown to dance on wet grass.

Birds on a line go mute, two cats in a ball stop

 

licking each other. Twigs snap, stones roll, she spins

eyes the neighbor. He takes long steps with a bottle

of whiskey, drinking the shadows of the shower.

JOHN STEPHENS is the author of Return to the Water, (C & R Press June 2013) which was reviewed by, The Georgia Review (Dec. 20, 2013). Other published work include poems in, Stone River Sky, An Anthology of Georgia Poems (2015), Iodine Poetry Journal (2016), Amarillo Bay (2016), Stream Ticket (2016), Boston Accent (2016), Head and Hand Press (2016), Glassworks Magazine (2016) and ArLiJo (Gival Press) 2016.  John lives in Milton, Ga. and his gifts have helped to establish the Adam Stephens Night Out for Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry @TECH series.

By John Stephens 

Face to Face

JOHN STEPHENS is the author of Return to the Water, (C & R Press June 2013) which was reviewed by, The Georgia Review (Dec. 20, 2013). Other published work include poems in, Stone River Sky, An Anthology of Georgia Poems (2015), Iodine Poetry Journal (2016), Amarillo Bay (2016), Stream Ticket (2016), Boston Accent (2016), Head and Hand Press (2016), Glassworks Magazine (2016) and ArLiJo (Gival Press) 2016.  John lives in Milton, Ga. and his gifts have helped to establish the Adam Stephens Night Out for Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Poetry @TECH series.

Melancholy sits upon her in the blue strap-chair.

Crosses bare ankles, pulls a cigarette from under

black hair, habits have a different direction now.

 

Murmurs a secret to some crooked roots, removes

a load, that was a half-life. Shuts her eyes to feel

the thoughts. Gestures the neighbor, he steps the yards

 

sets a whiskey bottle on the table, pulls out

a Zippo, rolls the black wheel against the flint.

She does this thing lacing her hair, inhales.

 

He glimpses her lips, pauses for courage wants to lean in, 

to tell a truth it could have consequences for them. Instead

he hears the flutter of moths. See’s only  an empty space,

 

mumbles, "Would you like a drink?" She drags

the smoke, warms her lungs, "No, I drank too much last night."

Some latch keeps his head from spinning the words.

 

Puts his eyes to hers, eyelids hang on a ledge. Regrets

everything to everyone, now quite empty, stone idol,  

words evaporate where the drug of silence slays him.

By Shana Ross

Raccoon Attack

Shana Ross is a poet and playwright with a BA and MBA from Yale University.  She bought her first computer working the graveyard shift in a windchime factory, and now pays her bills as a consultant and leadership expert.  Since resuming her writing career in 2018, her work has been published in or is forthcoming from Anapest Journal, Anatolios Magazine, Ghost City Review, Indolent Press’ What Rough Beast project, SHANTIH Journal, Voice of Eve, and Writers Resist. 

This morning all business of busy-ness, the work of getting stuff done, fine mist of nonspecific out-of-sorts slicks everything, clings to your lungs.  Muscle through never ending list of to-do’s, resorting to things that can be crossed off free of inspiration: move forward, heave and lurch and labor: forward, onward, onward, until there’s a groove to fall into.  Sit for coffee at last, stare through the email, let your gaze wander.

 

Through the sliding glass door I finally see: last night things happened.

 

The screen door ripped, something has come into the porch.  Scrabbling hands gone through the trashcan that was tucked into a corner, upended everything.  The garbage I’d forgotten about, picked over, spread all over the slate tiles I just swept I just swept I just swept over the weekend thinking it would be nice to feel beautiful and tidy is close.

 

The world chips through and floods me – most snakes will vomit when faced with stress and I fixate with nausea on how very unaware I have been, blind to new chaos, impervious to probabilistic atomic decay.

 

                                                                                                I mean, it’s been like this, obviously.

 

                                                                                                                                                 It’s already done and unavoidable,          but I spent the morning blithe, saturated in the tasks of an outdated world like the tree that fell in last year’s ice storm.  Broken, tied to the taproot by a thread, it bloomed where it lay, didn’t finish dying until almost July.  Now is the joyless singing of the stomach on comfortless roller coaster, spiraling, rising, plummeting.

 

The raccoons have realized that my screen is as fragile as a social convention and I do not know what to do now.

the shades of depression

By Timothy OJO

depression is offering a mirror when,

you see your body entering your shadow like a receeding hairline. and you are looking for how to paint the future in the colours of bloom, yet you see doom spelt out in the corners of your room, but no, the way of doom leads home. // death is a deliverance into the soft embrace of home.

 

in this poem, there is;

a lost boy seeking refuge in subterfuge//

 

a boy crying to the meadows for rain.

[clouds give rains]

 

.& at the end of it all, a boy wants a truce.

but there are rotten dreams he must wade off.

there are cobwebbed cabins he must sail in bluesy waters.

 

a boy is lost. he seeks refuge in subterfuge.

 

he says a prayer, death snorts.

              //

 

in this poem, there is;

 

 a boy is creating an episode of inertia on the ball of pendulum, life girded him with. //this boy wants to be a cannonball. in a forward trajectory. a monumental piece of acceleration.

/the seventh law of motion/

perfection.

 

a boy recites the Lord's prayer and it jerks emptiness into him and he sees crimson as a bald man.

he gently whispers;

the way of depression leads home.

 

in this city is the antidote to depression, but you have to fight the city in you first.

you have to know that,

hope beckons in a mug of self-realisation.

Timothy OJO is a blue butterfly who believes that in every arid land, there is an oasis. Raised in the the swampy areas of Lagos, having survived polio at  six months of age. He is driven to get the most of life after been exposed to a lot of hurts and pains since he was a child. Writing poems gives him utmost pleasures that is unexplainable. An ardent lover of metaphors to convey his messages.

His works are up or have appeared in Kalahari reviews, Tuck magazine, Ilanot review, Penn review, Calimus journal. 
A graduate of Fisheries and Aquaculture of one of the foremost universities of technology in Nigeria.

February 15, 2019

22.

By Amirah Al- Wassif ​

As An African Child

As an African child
I crawled on 
mama arm
Searching for an imaginary house
Which bear me with a fancy view 
Of the coming clouds upon my head

 

As an African child
I jumped many times for seeing the clown
Who laugh and cry
Making jokes
Acts an excellent spy
With many children in their bed

 

As an African child
I saw the bitterness oon mamaface
And tried to chase
Her shadow before her cheek is wet

As an African child
I drew my plan on the clay pot
I insisted to fly
Asking my
sun to let
The charming of justice light
And asking the darkness to rest

 

Amirah Al Wassif is a freelance writer. She has written articles,
novels, short stories poems and songs. Five of her books were
written in Arabic and many of her English works have been
published in various cultural magazines. Amirah is passionate
about producing literary works for children, teens, and adults which represent cultures from around the world. Her first book, Who do not Eat Chocolate was published in 2014 and her latest illustrated book, The Cocoa Book and Other Stories are forthcoming.

By Saoirse Nash  

Oxford Street

A Study in Chiaroscuro

By Sarah Lao 

In the firelight, mother twists in her

edges something dark. Something

 

lost & feral. There’s a half opened

bottle oxidizing in the spill of her

 

palm, & when she corkscrews the

rim, liquid murk swishes & climbs

 

up the curve of the neck. Something

viscous, vicious. I see her stringent

 

& brittle, glass blown to a breaking

point, hot iron welding over the

 

cracks. Her hands shake, sweat-slick,

crowded over the fire for something

 

like warmth, & outside, the wind is

still beating the window & the clock

 

on the mantelpiece is still ticking &

the fire is burning something so hot

 

I feel cold.  

Sarah Lao is a sophomore at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently serves as a first reader at Polyphony HS and as an editor for Evolutions Magazine.

caught the last train home,

oxford street crawled with the

usual suspects, cockroaches,

rats, ghosts of high school's past lurk down side streets.

rose bushes looked more thorn

than flower and yellow street light

looked more accusing than even

the glass littered pavement,

either way all the concrete seemed

to know.

and all my friends are medication-made

lightweights, drunk through weak days

and weekends,

suffering no less madness,

though, maybe suffering less.

and at no point have I been able to escape

the hand crafted macho bravado

taught like alphabet to pre-schoolers,

at no point do we exist without walls,

the agricultural revolution of fence

and captivity extended not just to land

but into soul,

now, we do not know freedom in our hearts.

and oxford street crawled,

beaufort street crawled,

the gay bar was full of straights,

and I was worried I didn't look gay enough,

like it mattered, like i should care,

like i could look anything other than bisexual

and still the men grabbed me,

and I had to force myself to be angry,

had to remind myself my body is my own,

and that i am not a rag doll,

had to remind myself to care about my life,

that I have to live in it tomorrow,

and still the streets crawled,

like my skin,

like my history,

like my misfiring, miss-signalling brain.

tomorrow they will paint over the graffiti

on the apartments outside my work,

and it will hurt in the strangest fashion.

Saoirse Nash is a performance poet, freelance events organiser and publisher from Perth, Western Australia. She is a co-coordinator at Spoken Word Perth and has performed at events around the country including twice at the National Young Writer’s Festival, sold out Fringe Show “Star Crossed Poetry” as well as backyard gigs, open mics and feature events in her own city. Saoirse’s beliefs about love, life and joy are coloured through an anarchistic lens and she believes that life is enriched most through compassion and community. 

21.

By Yvonne Higgins Leach

Middle Seat 

In the aluminum tube 
with recycled air circulating,
we find our spaces 
and shove our possessions
overhead or underfoot.
One of us shoulders the window,
another the open aisle,
and I in the middle seat
graze each of you unintentionally
in my attempt to settle in.

You, young one, to my left
EarPods in, lean your forehead 
on the frame and close your eyes. 
You, at my right, pull out a thick document
and begin highlighting key sentences. 

 

The thrum of engines,
the horizon flashing by,
the impetus to lift toward sky—
self-propelled and exposed 
out toward our destination. 
As we slice through the blue air
and over the silver-studded hills,
I will never know whether
you are coming or going,
if you have family you like
and some you don’t,
or your take on God, 
if you have one.

 

Even in the moment 
of turbulence, we look
straight ahead. 

Yvonne earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Washington State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Poetry from Eastern Washington University. Over the years, Yvonne has been published in literary magazines and anthologies in the United States. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Clare Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine, Fogged Clarity, Former People, Ramingo’s Porch, Reed Magazine, Rocky Mountain Revival, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Suisun Valley Review, and Wisconsin Review, among others. Her first collection of poems, Another Autumn, was published in 2014 by WordTech Editions.                 

January 15, 2019

By Fabrice B. Poussin​

Farewell to His Snow

It will be a few flakes
it always is so soon to burn
in a flash of lightning
through the open door. 

The fire rages in the hearth
blinding in the semi darkness
of a room we all know    
when winter says time to sleep.

Reeds collected from fall
now fashioned into baskets
soon to adorn each mantle
of every room of the mansion. 

skin broken from the cold without gloves
blood trickles with the rhythm of a dying age
unforgiving to the one who works this Earth
comforting with the peace of snowy days.

A few flakes will fall
but the air does not know
the sun setting does not care
it will be time to rest again soon.  

The fireplace will muster the heat
of the logs freshly cut
under the light natural, the cotton blanket 
and a heavy book of old. 

He will have another sip of his drink
close his eyes, and rock on the wobbly bench
rub the sore fingers as he does every night
and smile as he winks to the soul of a happy day.

 

The basket is alive
a shape of his making
for two hearts to find healing
next to the other small for the little ones.

The streams whisper as they come to a halt
obscurity crawls behind the light 
he says not a word and takes a deep breath 
warm from the home-brewed cider. 

Now to deep infinity he looks
the hands of time softly lift him
to let his gentle thoughts find peace
sweet dreams old man sweet dreams. 

 

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications. 

Paris

By Teesta 

Teesta is currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania pursuing a Bachelor of Arts. She writes both poetry and prose, and has had work published in the Case Reserve Review. Her love for nature and her heritage strongly influences her writing, in addition to a general love for the world and its people.

And its grey-beige walls and grey-blue roofs

And her feet on soil, so fragrant so rich

And the dusty, vine-entwined merchant’s house

She saw him, she saw him, she saw him

Paris​

Outside it rained, warm from the precocious heat of August

Drenched arms running clear with raindrops

Feet pounding the pavement up and down

Street signs the same, withering straight down the torrential downpour

Cheeks two quivering leaves

Paris

He tried it all, he tried being it all

            I want to find myself so I came to Paris

One

Two

Three

Paris 

One. Two. Three.

          Just be.

December 15, 2018

20.

By Kate LaDew

when they translated the bible into eskimo it was jonah who suffered most of all

first from god who clearly didn’t like the cut of his gib

and then the inuit themselves, who promptly shut the book and would have none of it.

what hope is there for a man who waits in the dark complaining instead of falling on his knees,

thanking whatever in the sky blessed him with an entire whale of his own,

blubber up to his ears?

there are bad men at the top

By Kate LaDew

twirling their mustaches

so I bolt all the doors,

check the alarm three times

hide under the covers

from all those husbands with daughters

(sisters too) all those good - swear it! - good good guys

with their big eyes big hands big teeth

the better to you rule you with

checking the closet one last time the man inside smiles

 fancy meeting you here

when he’s done he puts on his blazer, knots his tie

straightens his flag pin and reaches into the closet,

throwing a coat hanger my way

don’t say I never gave you anything

By Kate LaDew

there's a long silence,

and it’s the salt-wind in our hair, the sand in our sneakers,

the crisp hiss of a bottle of coke cracked and shared,

and I sigh, your eyes soaked with hope turn up to me

never could say no, not to one thing you ever wanted even if it killed me, you, both of us

you buy some Jack, some other guy smiling up from the ID,

ice at the liquor store with the neon lady on the sign flashing OPEN like a promise

another long silence, shaky, tight breaths and my lashes fluttering, slipping closed

your teeth on your bottom lip and the silence breaks with the sound out of you,

a grinding sound like an engine left still through the winter,

struggling to break over into a scream,

blood on my legs, blood like a fight, blood like a whisper, whimper in the dark

and it’s finally done and I don’t know how long I’ve got you but you’ve got me

Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.  She resides in Graham, NC with her cats, Charlie Chaplin and Janis Joplin.

By Hugh Giblin

Brothers

I saw him coming down the street,

right away, I knew he was going to hit on me,

He did, dread-locked, dark clothes, high,

He had on a black stocking cap,

dressed in the uniform of the homeless.

 

It was the usual prelude: “How you doing man?”

“Good”, “Good, say man, could you help me out?”,

“all I need is a dollar to get me a room tonight”

I knew that was all standard bullshit,

but I was more bemused than annoyed.

 

He showed me is homeless ID

as that legitimized him somehow.

“You're high right now” I said,

“you're going to get a bottle.”

I said it matter of fact, no judgment.

 

“No man, no man, I'm not high”

I usually blow off these guys with a “sorry man”

give them a shrug and walk down the street.

I knew I was making the mistake by talking to him,

now we were in a dialog, a relationship.

 

“All I've got is a twenty and I'm not giving you that”

He lit up, put his arm around me, the hustle touch.

He took out a roll of dollar bills

His life's fortune for that night,

and put them in my hand.

 

I laughed, “what, you got change?”

He gave me the roll, he had eight dollars.

I knew that this was the time to leave,

but my brain wasn't talking to my feet

and I liked the guy, thought what the hell.

 

“Walk me to my car”, I said.

He didn't hesitate, we went down the street

like two men on a mysterious mission.

He stood respectfully back on the sidewalk

while I went thru the glove compartment

 

and came up with four singles.

When I gave it to him, his eyes grew moist,

“I appreciate it man, I really appreciate it”,

“You could have driven off on me

but instead you take care of me”

 

 

I told him it was okay and shook his hand.

He showed me his card again, “my name is Elvis”

He laughed, “yeah, look Elvis P. Lewis, Elvis!”

“the P. is for Prescott”. He said it with a certain pride.

His identity card, his only connection to society.

 

I was trying to dispatch myself now, but he persisted,

“I really appreciate it man, you took care of me”.

He was liquor-earnest, grateful, emotional.

Passerby’s were watching our little drama,

race always conjuring up a provocative plot.

 

I started to turn, “take care of yourself” I said.

“You took care of me” he hugged me,

“You my brother man, my brother”

Despite the liquor, the sentimentality of it all,

I felt, somewhere deep down, he meant it.

 

He stood on the curb waving goodbye,

as I drove away toward the expressway

his voice and words stayed with me,

as I drove home on I-40,

“You my brother man, my brother”.

Hugh is originally from Chicago. He considers himself  an activist and some of his poems reflect his political views. He had a feature investigative article published in a national magazine. Hugh has published poetry online and in local literary journals and has had two plays produced locally as well.

November 15, 2018

19.

By Brigid Hannon

Flowerbox

I plant flowers in cheap dirt and pray for miracles

like raindrops and sun

but the ground freezes over again and I am reminded

that this is Buffalo and I should know better

than to get my hopes up like the vines

of the morning glories I try to bring to life

despite rocky soil and poor climate.

I don’t know excitement,

because I can never muster it,

no thanks to tiny pills that run my body for me

because it is too tired to run itself. 

I look for joy in these little seedlings,

but find myself disappointed

when nothing remains but dirt.

By Daniel B. Summerhill

Ecdysis

Space between

           his shoulders

 

makes a mosaic

           brown, bloody

 

         and the kind of pink

that reveals itself

 

on playgrounds after

             jumping from the swing

 

in midair.

             Don't scratch:

 

Instruction,

            how his skin

 

was didactic,

             showing each reader

 

the differences

             in terrain, be it

 

vast dry land

             or tropical from the way

 

fingernails wrecked

            the ecosystem.

 

Calamine in palms,

             Oatmeal in water,

 

him singing praise

            to them both,

 

despite genetics

             telling him to shed.

Brigid Hannon is a writer and caregiver from Buffalo, NY. She is currently digging through twenty years of writing looking for pieces for possible publication, and has likely fallen asleep at her desk. She can be found at https://hamneggs716.wordpress.com and on Twitter
@stagequeen.

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, CA. Currently an MFA candidate at Boston’s Pine Manor College, Daniel has performed and taught guest workshops and lectures throughout the U.S, Europe, and South Africa. He has published two collections of poems Crafted and Brown Boys on Stoops and has been asked to perform at Ted Talk and Def Jam Poetry with Danny Simmons. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Pine Hills Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and The Voice among others.

By Lydia Flores

The Prose of a Puss Filled Poetic Wound

Lydia Flores is from Harlem, New York. She is a Writographer *(writer & photographer) and a multitude of mysteries. Her work has been featured in Kettle Blue Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Deaf Poets Society, Visceral Brooklyn, & several others. A full collection and other surprises are forthcoming. Find her at inlightofmysoul.com

Weeping sore head between my knees somewhere there is a cloud swelling like a womb but my prayers have gone up seven times over and have seen nothing my lips are quivering with my tongue penning petitions to the God of this Israel. the hardest part about writing this is the nonfiction of it. a lot of people wonder how poems are made, for some a stanza comes speaking in the voice of prophet Elisha and others the paint of blood that spills.

 

Skin is the color of shame and I do not mean the primary colors in the rainbow of social justice crawling across the sky in the aftermath of a Katrina or the passing bill in congress that they don’t know is document full of grenades. it is always raining somewhere. 

This poem is just trying to find its way home.

Home is Puerto Rico even though I was not born there.

Sometimes, home is where your blood clots.

My mother talked to me in Spanish and I answered in English.

My tongue still is grief with an accent.

 

I am sitting on cold concrete in North Carolina having stolen someone’s Wi-Fi whose fate lies in the battle of net neutrality. I am straddling a fence of being homeless and waiting for a door to open. Well, aren’t we all in want and waiting? anticipating. warranting.

 

There is no point to this poem except the exclamation of truth hovering like a dagger. & I can bleed here. because the best place be vulnerable is at the feet of Jesus or the emptiness and ear of the page.

 

My memories are still in bereavement and some say that I am hard to get to know, but no one has owned that I am worth it though. In the onion of it, how at the peeling of it, I either make people cry or make them want to die and I do not mean in the suicide sense of it. There are multi dimensions of death and I didn’t lose my best friend to the badged bullet of it.

 

Comfort tries to make trauma summarizeble and my heart, the real, bloodied, vessel thing,

is a dissertation of stillborn joy.  & I don’t know what else but here is the truth.

poetry is peeled fruit &

what gives a knife it’s power?

the sharpness of its blade or its intent?

By Daniel B. Summerhill

Shakespeare Teaches a Lesson on Loyalty

They never made me read Shakespeare or Blake,

and if I wanted to, i’d have to ride my bike through

a couple cities to find the nearest copy. My cannon-

MTV, the way Pac used alternative rhyme and ATCQ

 

re-imagined narrative. Brenda and her baby, my mother

and I, six girls on our block have no idea who Ophelia

is or how they become synonyms every time a razor

slit reveals itself. Still-  every time I sit in literature class,

 

I feel my body rebel. My mind sets sail to 1998, the first time

I heard Midnight Marauders, Q-Tip was spittin’ a crazy

sixteen that shook my body electric. Its current, my canon-

considered to be the most important and influential.

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, CA. Currently an MFA candidate at Boston’s Pine Manor College, Daniel has performed and taught guest workshops and lectures throughout the U.S, Europe, and South Africa. He has published two collections of poems Crafted and Brown Boys on Stoops and has been asked to perform at Ted Talk and Def Jam Poetry with Danny Simmons. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Pine Hills Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and The Voice among others.

18.

October 15, 2018

By Nathaniel Meals

Open and Away

Nathaniel Meals recently earned an MFA in fiction from Bowling Green State University. He's been awarded a Devine Fellowship, as well as worked as an assistant editor for the Mid-American Review.

His open palm was bloated with the mud of disuse.

I broke away from the shake too soon.

 

We moved into open space, my limbs lost.

Loose within himself, he made away with all.

 

Then doors opening into closet darknesses

as I clutch a lighter and look away

 

wondering what open books lay buried

in the scum of memory. He has gone away,

 

only I remain, open-mouthed in the open air, tobacco-tongued

by cigarette smoke pulled wayward in wind edging

 

north through night. This openness is

a way for us to watch all that we have lost

 

bind itself to distant moments, openly, overly—

like a hand flattened by non-movement and the one-way arrow of time.

Surnames

By Mukund Gnanadesikan

Mukund Gnanadesikan is a physician, poet, and novelist who lives in Napa, CA. His work has been published or is forthcoming in the anthology Sheets: For Men Only, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Ibis Head Review, Tuck Magazine, and The Cape Rock Review.

Little boy stares

At ornate lettering

On gold-embossed nameplate

Asks me origin of surname

Saying it is unfamiliar

To his vision and his ear

And I know he means

The words I heard before

“What are you?”

But he asks

With tact and curiosity

And so I answer

That I was born here

Of parents hailing from subcontinent

Far away and dimly understood

By spectators who see exoticism

In my brown skin

And despite absence of intonation

Smell turmeric and ginger

In my aura.

The Jourdan Boulevard

By Carter Vance

Slipping between the broken paving stone,
shoes bleating a harried rhythm in rubber,
I move visibly, sallowed,
as a humbled painter,
staring blankly at the unblemished canvas
of even time:

coming through clearly, loud,
coming through in found feather ambiance,
the ego of lazy weekend wanders coming back
as united strumming on
bending jazz break corners.

The tuba honks in Metro
underpass drew a line
with pathway’s depth on
gold flake etching of what
it was in pas march to
dead hot wire, imperial
fantasia and the rest of
it.

There isn’t some idle hope
here: I’d be lying
to take it further, in shade of
wishing wells, giving trees.

Carter Vance is a student and aspiring poet originally from Cobourg, Ontario, currently studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. His work has appeared in such publications as The Vehicle, (parenthetical) and F(r)iction, amongst others. He received an Honourable Mention from Contemporary Verse 2's Young Buck Poetry Awards in 2015. His work also appears on his personal blog Comment is Welcome.

By Mukund Gnanadesikan

Pinwheels

Patriotic toy

Decorated

In stars and bars

Spinning under influence

Of quixotic winds

Now clockwise

Now reversed in motion

Planted firmly

In the front yard

Remnant of a life

Cut off in service

Of beloved Uncle Sam

Duct tape testifies

To multiple repairs

Still they stand

Twirling in silence

Mukund Gnanadesikan is a physician, poet, and novelist who lives in Napa, CA. His work has been published or is forthcoming in the anthology Sheets: For Men Only, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Ibis Head Review, Tuck Magazine, and The Cape Rock Review.

By Steve Deutsch

Untethered

By Benjamin D. Bresee

Interminable Winter

We all knew something

was not quite right with Mike.

What sprang from his mouth

had him spending more time

in the Principal’s office

than in the classroom

and angered the older kids,

who would periodically lay him out

in schoolyard beatings.

 

1967,

the year we turned 16,

he climbed the fifty-foot maple

just outside the Post Office

and neither his father’s threats

nor his mother’s tears

could convince him to come down.

The fly-catchers got him

and took him upstate

to the red-brick asylum

on the river.

 

Mike told me once

he felt as if he had left

all solid ground behind.

“On good days I was drowning—

sea-slimed and salted

on a relentless ocean.

 

On bad days I fell through the sky

like a kite some distracted child

had let fly off

to be steered untethered

by a sorcerer’s wind.

I fell and rose,

and fell again.”

 

He got worse after he returned—

though I didn’t stay to watch

his downward spiral.

 

I see Mike now and again

downtown.

He lives in the half-way house

at the bottom of Gray’s Hill

and runs errands for a local restaurant.

We sometimes reminisce

for a moment or two

on the busy sidewalk.

Gentled now by the years,

he always has a kind word

and asks about old friends

while I search his weary face

for the child I once knew.

Some say it is frail; must be handled with a delicate touch.  If it crumbles under any pressure, it wasn't love.  It isn't the fire, nor the kindling.  Ashes don't mean there was never warmth.  It stands the test of time.  We always find a way, to keep warm.

In the winter, I always remember the times when we burned

 

 

I remember laying

in a dead man's clothes,

looking out a locked window

at your light, and wondering

if you kept it on for me. 

Lying among the other vagrants

with nothing but a head full of ash

and an empty pit

I'd push the scattered remains around

to resemble the songs we played. 

I burned with self hatred,

and longed for the warmth

I'd lie to myself

and say you'd wait til spring.

 

Steve Deutsch lives with his wife Karen--a visual artist, in State College, PA.  He writes poetry and the blog: stevieslaw@wordpress.com.  His recent publications have been in Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble,  and The Ekphrastic Review. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” will be published next year by Kelsay Press.

By Madeleine Gallo

that don't rhyme

Benjamin D. Bresee is a father of a 2 yr old and is a grocery manager.  He writes things as he walks to work, and around his small city of Binghamton N.Y.  He sometimes posts them to his Instagram page, and has been published a few times in online magazines, but mostly an admirer of the art- he'll tell you it saved his life.

he told her the night after he dismantled the crib

when he stashed the toys into the closet

and folded the booties

under the nightgown she had worn to the ER

 

he found her curled like a shrimp next to the baby monitor

which for a month now had recorded silence

 

still every night she spoke lullabies to the empty wavelengths

and he wished her song into something classical

something with a melody

to follow the caesura –

 

a rhyme transcending unmetered memory

Madeleine Gallo is currently a graduate student at Wake Forest University. Her work has appeared in Susquehanna Review: Apprentice Writer, Fermata, Sun and Sandstone, Belle Reve Literary Journal, The Pylon, Sigma Tau Delta Review, Into the Void, Litro, and Rattle. After graduation, she plans to pursue a PhD in Contemporary American Poetry.

17.

By Beate Sigriddaughter

Ten Cents

I found a dime in the dirt

by the mailboxes down the hill

day before yesterday.

 

I had a teacher once who was

so brimful of integrity, she said

to leave even a penny on the street

because it wasn't mine. Soon

afterwards I found a dollar

and passed it along

to a panhandler, telling him

I'd found it anyway. "You are

lucky," he said, and I agreed.

 

As for me, I also believe

if you put a leaf in the river

and watch it dance along

the current toward the distant sea,

you may well believe you changed

the world, but you didn't.

That world put you there

that moment with that leaf

and those hands, and that

precise excitement in your heart.

 

A child explained this

to me once, and he was right.

Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.com, is poet laureate of Silver City, New Mexico (Land of Enchantment), USA. Her work has received several Pushcart Prize nominations and poetry awards. New books out in 2018 are Xanthippe and Her Friends (FutureCycle Press) and Postcards to a Young Unicorn (Salador Press).

By Anurak Saelaow

Weltschmerz

As it always is: language disguising language,

rinsing out yesterday’s espressos from the glass,

 

imploring us to come back in. I scrape a chair

along the parquet like a surly husband.

 

Having swiveled though the great ballet

of things, one ankle grazes another

 

in a foreign spasm of tenderness.

This guise, this throat, a vacant

 

portrait of sky sloping backwards through

the window. I didn’t know what to make of it.

 

When the water boiled and sense

fogged through the unit — when the form

 

of this kitchen, clean and enfolded,

spoke back — we put off the decision.

 

I think of the nestling’s flight, a hydrant

in full display. There is no taking back.

Anurak Saelaow is a Singaporean poet and writer. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Eunoia Review, and Ceriph Magazine, amongst other places. He is the author of one chapbook, Schema (The Operating System, 2015), and holds a BA in creative writing and English from Columbia University.

CREMATORIUM:

By Phil Capitano

dead

bones rise

in ashes,

furnace spews clouds

smelling putrid smoke,

tongues consume bodies all,

aeolian whispers fan

Varanasi’s fierce appetite,

prayer flags wave like a wick of hope

while the ruddy Ganges silently flows.

Phil Capitano has been writing poetry, short stories and essays for decades and his work has appeared in anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Recently, he was awarded Third Prize in the Poetry Institute of Canada’s nation-wide contest for 2017 and his first book of poetry called Roses On The Moon was released in the same year. Phil enjoys music, reading, sports and other outdoor activities. He has three daughters and resides in Huntsville, Ontario with his wife Debbie.

September 14, 2018

Chief of Stuff

By Anurak Saelaow

Paced through the modern wing

of that Chicago museum, pausing

to see sleek bronze caught in flight:

 

golden pen, contoured dart

soaring through flesh and stone

and page, the unending edge

 

of Loy’s inaudible word pushed

up against the threshold.

Pearly tongues of fire waiting

 

in the doorway to greet you.

One of many, in fact: a bauble

or a babble. Regardless.

 

A multitude, more or less —

ranks and divisions of the hoard.

Observe how each shifty piece

 

clamors from the margin,

nipping for attention. 2I bound

and rush like a shaggy dog

 

gathering burrs in the field.

So many and yet so many

left unpicked, little black words

 

moldering on their placards.

How many steps from door

to door? How many eyes?

 

The dog bounds the way

the pen swerves or the golden

bird shoots haphazardly up,

 

never taking back. It laps

with its tongue at the faucet,

waiting for the river’s edge.

Anurak Saelaow is a Singaporean poet and writer. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Eunoia Review, and Ceriph Magazine, amongst other places. He is the author of one chapbook, Schema (The Operating System, 2015), and holds a BA in creative writing and English from Columbia University.

By Anurak Saelaow

Hymn

The steepness of the sink, the lamp, the sunk

spiral of the bamboo-plant — these unwise props

blocked and set, furnishing the steady drip

of our days. Was there ever a moment where,

towel-clad and sighing, basking on the plaster

balcony, we felt the tickle of coming wisdom?

I can’t recall what I saw, exactly: a sun-spot

shaped like a laden ox. A tale without a head.

An omen came prancing above the shoreline

of our view, urging us to make peace with

the absurd solidity of things. A coming

wake of air rapped like a fist on the rampart,

disturbing our Eanna. I prayed for a thought

to glide through the window like a sprinkle.

Anurak Saelaow is a Singaporean poet and writer. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Hayden's Ferry Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Eunoia Review, and Ceriph Magazine, amongst other places. He is the author of one chapbook, Schema (The Operating System, 2015), and holds a BA in creative writing and English from Columbia University.

Laundry Cycles

By Alyssa Trivett

Birdcage rattles and coffee cup floats

as laundry cycles

and my misplaced alien ship socks

show up looking for their doppelganger

lost amongst the house,

perhaps in a nook-and-cranny of

the puke-orange green sofa

inherited from grandmother’s,

the one the cat fancies.

We clock tick on through

with the day.

Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. She chirps down coffee while scrawling lines on the back of gas station receipts. Her work has recently appeared at In Between Hangovers, Apricity Magazine and The Rye Whiskey Review.

16.

August 13, 2018

The Day My Heart Skipped a Beat

By Adam Levon Brown 

Teetering on the precipice

of hazy darkness that is

memory

 

I sparsely remember

the time we interlocked

fingers on the bridge

at Jefferson Park

 

For once, my heart

was at ease and I didn't

have these blood seeking

impulses

 

It's not your fault

that things faltered,

I am just tainted

beyond salvation

 

Go with the light

and save me the darkness;

It is where I belong.

Adam Levon Brown is an internationally published author, poet, amateur photographer. He is Founder, Owner, and editor in chief of Madness Muse Press. He has had poetry published hundreds of times in several languages,

along with 2 full collections and 3 chapbooks.


He also participates as an assistant editor at Caravel

Literary Arts Journal

Phoenix in Chains

By Adam Levon Brown 

Your words set

me ablaze

as I am the kindling

you threw in the fire

to keep you warm

 

The winter months

of rumination came

fast and violent

 

You had no choice

but to sacrifice your

only loved one

to keep the demons at bay

 

From the ashes, I will

gather what strength

is left and use my

fiery corpse to

keep you warm

for but one more night.

Adam Levon Brown is an internationally published author, poet, amateur photographer. He is Founder, Owner, and editor in chief of Madness Muse Press. He has had poetry published hundreds of times in several languages,

along with 2 full collections and 3 chapbooks.


He also participates as an assistant editor at Caravel

Literary Arts Journal

Peace in Places Unknown

By Adam Levon Brown 

Caught in a maelstrom

of sadness and grief

 

No longer able to tell

how exactly I feel

 

prolonged numbness

leads to death of tissue

 

The same can be said

about emotions

 

As Buoyant blackness

encompasses my broken being

 

I can see the light

but I no longer wish

to reach it

 

I have become accustomed

to living inside the eye of the storm

Adam Levon Brown is an internationally published author, poet, amateur photographer. He is Founder, Owner, and editor in chief of Madness Muse Press. He has had poetry published hundreds of times in several languages,

along with 2 full collections and 3 chapbooks.


He also participates as an assistant editor at Caravel

Literary Arts Journal

By Gus Knobbe

Damselflies

I saw your face in a photograph

And felt nothing

It’s only a hazy memory, like

An old blurry film

Of an ancient sunlit forest

With meandering streams

And in the distant background

Soft piano music plays

 

Oh God, the piano music,

As when our hands danced

Together across the ivory

Like courting damselflies

And our dance turned to

Embraces, those hallowed nights

Drowning in each other’s arms

 

But those nights turned

Drunken, and cruel

And still it is a blur to me

Why did our words turn from loving melodies?

To dull ramblings, to lashing claws?

We wept to the stars and the cold moon

Praying for solace, for an cure

For this addictive venom, caustic and sweet

That we sewed into each other’s veins

 

In the end, we let ourselves die

Like a wounded animal in the street

 

I saw your face in a photograph

And felt nothing

Because that’s all I can afford to feel

Burning Summer

By Glenn Pearl

When I threw the cat off the porch,

It kept the skin from my shirtless back.

Where its claws held, bright lines grew.

Retribution, I thought.  How many times

Have I tried to throw you out of this poem?

 

Dead afternoons.  Dead streets.  Brittle

And browned grass, prickly under bare feet.

After I set the woods on fire, my father jabs

A knee into my butt each step up the stairs

To my room.  Later, we play catch.  Later,

 

I am the eye in a black and ashen circle

Of trees.  Later, I join Cub Scouts.  We learn

Fire safety.  A boy tells a story of stolen

Matches and not listening to his mother.

Later, I learn cities are on fire.  Marshmallows

 

Burned from their sticks.  Ghostly black

Birds, spitting sparks, drift into the night.

On a swing a boy wings earthward.  Always,

Earthward.  I have learned the secret of

Bobbing for apples.  I drive down one now

 

To the bottom edge of our Den Mother’s

Black speckled roaster.  Broken fruit flowers

From my mouth.  No one is faster.  Godzilla

Dreamily wades through Tokyo Bay, given

To the fragrant crackle of high-voltage wires.

Glenn Pearl lives in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where he is employed as an administrative assistant at a trauma-informed therapy practice.  The appearance of his poetry in this issue marks the first publication of his work in a major literary outlet. 

Lost Son Haibun

By Jules Henderson

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. T.S. Eliot

 

The day I left I took my half of the estate. It was April, and the forsythia were flaunting their riotous display of yellow flowers. You warned I would get lost. Said I’d be nothing but a thrush in a wood full of songbirds. In a distant country I carried out my wild living: Traded my words for an audience with the white queen. Bartered my memory to feel the weightlessness of forgetting. Surrendered an eye to see the face of God, just once. I laid with women and I laid with men. Hawked my crown to buy their love till vice gave way to famine—bleaching miles of colonized coral, scorching scores of ripened vines, cracking even the skin of the sky. You said when this happened I should ask for the time. Study the sun’s position on the horizon. Begin the slow march south.

 

For days, I rehearsed what I would say—Forgive me for I have sinned against you and against Heaven. I do not deserve to be called your son. And you would know the hour of my arrival. You’d beat the ceremonial drum to signal my return. Dress me in the finest robe and call me worthy. Put a ring on my finger and call me beautiful—call me beloved. At the edge of the wood I stood with feet bloodied and swollen from coursing through miles of thicket and bramble. Arms weak and wrists dangling. Eyes sunken. Heart malnourished. Found myself in the clearing where as a child I hauled fantasies in a red wagon through rows of lavender, never once imagining my world would lose its shine. And in that stillness I thought, when I get back, I better find you all dancing.

 

Fetch the fatted calf—

I was lost, but now am found;

blind, but now I see.

Acts of Devotion

By Jules Henderson

Jules Henderson is a Writing MFA candidate at the University of San Francisco where she studies under D.A. Powell, Bruce Snider, Brynn Saito, and Rachel Richardson. Her work has appeared at the Paradise Review, Bookends Review, The Social Poet, The Drunken Odyssey, and in Words Fly Away, a collection of poems that address the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

At that time, I was praying in tongues and eating spoonfuls of honey. I waded daily through muddied rivers, placing coins in the mouths of the dead as payment for crossing. You were my kind, I was certain. And I kept moving, flanked all the while by beasts of disease, hunger, and fear. When I found you I would tell you of the nights I spent at the mercy of the Guilty Joys. How they cackled as they claimed my radiance for themselves. How I thought of you even then and knew to press on.

 

Streets were vacated. Entire cities were emptied. Outlying towns poured themselves into canyons and dissolved into valley walls. You’d have thought the stars would be easier to see but none felt compelled to shine. When all went black I conjured your flame (not knowing your face), and at the sight of the faintest spark you saved the spirit from the grave. You were far but

 

I could see you. In

a world unlit, I glimpsed your

light and carried on.

Legs

By Matt Nagin

These legs could save a floundering ship,

heal a doomed saint, whip up gallantry

from the craven and debilitated, start fires

and get eagles to soar backwards towards

moonlight broken and days shattered like

a plate, and these legs can talk filthy, rearrange

the furniture, inspire deception, solve absurd

riddles, make you forgive your father and keep

the economy running while putting kids with

cancer into remission; but most of all these legs

remind us—we zombies in an alien land—

of the reason we started up with all this clamoring

and stirring and working diligently towards an

unseen goal as we die every moment we wade

more completely into the paradox of achievement.

Matt Nagin’s poetry has been published in Antigonish Review, Dash Literary Journal, The Charles Carter, Grain Magazine and Arsenic Lobster, among other markets. His first poetry collection, "Butterflies Lost Within The Crooked Moonlight," was released in 2017, and has obtained very strong reviews. More info at mattnagin.com.

By Emily Strauss 

Black Rabbits on Snow

15.

the futility of hiding–
they sit in plain view

 

black fur sleek

             in the open

magnified by leafless trees
painting shadows on white
                        drifts

           rabbits exposed–

 

they watch, brown eyes alert
as the dogs sniff


                                    then lunge–

they can only flee
     toward the dark humus
            by the frozen stream


the black patch 
     under the elms

feeling the hot teeth of the chase 
                        behind them


they are unfit in winter
not being snowshoe hares

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 400 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

July 15, 2018

Editing Room 

By James Croal Jackson

Evenings in the video lab laughing at ourselves acting in

perpetual circles the clicks of play and rewind in a dialogue

with eternity rectangular how to zoom into self with microscope

both of us learning but look at you now in the fighter jet

sky tethered to wirings of small precise instruments of war how

we live in the perpetual unknowing state of    I want you always

to come home even not to me because back then 

every small moment was contained in its forever

James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017). His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Columbia Journal, Hobart, FLAPPERHOUSE, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle from Columbus, Ohio. Find more at jimjakk.com.

By Emily Strauss 

Watering as a kind of faith...

for seeds to rise from bare dirt

the dry wash filled with dead branches

            palo verde couldn't wait

for the stars to align and show us a wetter path

            spring to warm, artemesia to green

a night-blooming cereus that opens once

            an agave sprouts a 25-foot flower spike

waiting for the end of another drought

with parched mouths open to random drops

this act to supplant the rains that fail to arrive

            when we won't need to water again

the futility of saving the forest one bucket at a time

            visible among thin trunks and dry needles:

watering as a kind of faith that no longer holds true

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 400 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

bathroom noises from the apartment upstairs

By Sarah Valeika

another cough suppressant

on the shelf rattles

as he bangs the

mirror, throttles a dixie

cup,

dixie girl curlers sputter

one by one

off the cabinet-top

hopping into the ground

where safety

lies in pools of purple

cough suppressant

dribble.

dixie girl curls her fingers around

a bottle of exfoliating

scrub and rubs her other

hand around her hip, ink-

dark eyes hiding in the

sink drain staring up

at her, as she wets a cloth

to clean it all

away.

Sarah Valeika is a poet whose works have been featured in Dying Dahlia Review, Breadcrumbs, Eunoia Review, Navigating the Maze, and other journals online and in print. 

Transmutable 

By Jennifer Wolkin

There Was a Tornado in Brooklyn

By Matthew Johnson 

14.

June 11, 2018

I lay on your table 
(for a moment like Mengele's) 
in Judeo-Christian posturing
beckoning you to prick me 
where nose-bridge meets forehead
where my third-eye lies: 

Governing Vessel 24.5.

Stick this needle here
to jolt this stasis. 
Unearth me from below 
these 6,000,000 souls-

ashes piled upon my pericardium
burdens, like kettle balls 
weight, like cattle calls 
upon this collapsing membrane.

Shock my anemic pulse
to undo the years and lifetimes 
lost through this somatic 
intergenerational reckoning.

Stick this needle here-
set me free. 

 

There was a tornado in Brooklyn,

Twisting and weaving like a cuckoo cab driver in rush hour.

There was a tornado in Brooklyn,

Smashing debris and glass like a bar-hopping fraternity.

 

In a Park Slope panic,

Brooklyn saw God at nine o’clock,

For there was a tornado in town, screaming up-and-down

The gentrified streets, like a hipster, rebelling against everything, anything, and nothing.

Jennifer is most passionate about writing at the intersection where the mind, body, brain and spirit meet -about the holistic human experience- through the eyes of both, her own experience, and through her professional lens. She is touched by the profound pain that is both individually and collectively felt, how this pain can displace someone from others and their own selves, and yet, the profound capacity for resilience, healing and growth. 

 

Her non-fiction writing in the area of health and wellness can be found on her blog, braincurves.com.

Matthew Johnson is a poet and an irrational fan of the New York Giants. He is a graduate student in North Carolina. He is a former sports journalist who once wrote for the USA Today College. His poetry has appeared in The Coraddi, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Roanoke Review and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/Matt_Johnson_D

Attachments area
 

By Indigo Soul & Cynthia Sharp

Current

As a tiny sliver of moon traverses the icy sky, clouds float like seagulls too heavy and earthbound to reach its circumference.

They fall and you stay out of reach, the ghost of you still better than anything tangible, forever belonging to someone who’s gone.

Out of mystic shadows of starlight, you appear....soft & subtle as a tipsy dream waltzing into twilight.

Your enchantment still left there....deeply reposing upon the inner dwellings of my eyelids.

Yet, ever so patiently you await....calmly configuring your way to the inner workings of the very thing that makes my heart beat.

Below the cumulus, cherry petals and plum blossoms perfume the night.

In deep blue solitude, foggy amber lights an arbutus tree, a soulful sojourner amid moss covered cedar.

I commune with Cathedral Grove, the untamed Pacific edge, my home, my rest....without you, a lone eagle no longer aching for you, only wishing you could feel it too....farewell my wild eagle....

A whole world that fills me and just a hint of how much you would have loved it....

Through sea and forest, snow peaked mountains and raw waves wonder, What happens when the spectral falls, this rustic rose transplanted across the continent?

Still lingering within a distance, this woozinss of artful woo....

paralytic, the slightest thought of love's demise.

Yet, my eyes sob at the very sight of how a bleeding heart bows, unconsciously caught in the scenery....

We are unliberated victims of the hopelessly smitten, seemingly slipping into an unawakening reverie.

Two hearts eternally entwined....

Yours, robed in a warm cove of comforted, coveted wishes,

Yet miles away....but still nestled deeply in between the seams of mine.

IndigoSoul is a poet, lyricist and radio host from Brooklyn, New York. She's had a profound fondness for poetry since the age of thirteen, as it is the essence of self-expression. Her goal at Word 'Em Up Radio is to give ink a voice and to support poets through the world. In addition to poetry, she also loves music of all genres, cooking and sports and is a die hard Knicks fan.

Cynthia Sharp thrives on interdisciplinary collaboration and peace education. She’s been published and broadcast internationally and nominated for the Pushcart Prize & Best of the Net Anthology. She’s a board member for the Federation of British Columbia Writers and loves to take part in diverse literary events through the world.

Moonrise

By Jared Pearce

Only when we were so close did she

Decide to leave.  Her hair draped

The left side of her flushed face,

She pulled her knees under her, then

Let the sheet slide from her arched back.

 

The silken robe she pulled into made

Her shape glow like a halo,

A warning that soon there’d be snow.

She made the knot and drifted off,

Perhaps a little unsure she wanted to go,

 

Or that’s the story I’m telling myself.

She became clearer, the further she went,

The details of her strife better understood,

Her orbits and reflections coming into focus.

Some of Jared Pearce's poems have recently been or will soon be shared in Picaroon, DIAGRAM, Shot Glass, Sonic Boom, and Rosebud.  His debut poetry collection, The Annotated Murder of One, is due from Aubade Press later this year.

The Annotated Murder of One can be found here (http://www.aubadepublishing.com/annotated-murder-of-one).

13.

Little Drifter

By Austin Davis

Rest in Passiflora

By Christina Maria Kosch

May 11, 2018

I.

Little drifter, staring 

down the kind of two-

lane streets that seem to stop


at the edge of train 

tracks on cloudy days, 

squeeze my world

 

like a sponge drowned 

in mud until the fluorescent 

lights that confine 

us look more like honey-


dipped clouds, blushing 

before the rain 

that lasts all night,

lasts past lunchtime. 


II.

With one ear 

to the wall, listen 

to the symphonies 

being composed on the old 

roof of this house, as the words 

from unwritten poems trickle 

down our windows -- bullet 

shells poured on a tent. 


III.

There’s nothing left 

we have to do, so 

like the last two 

petals of a white tulip falling

 

open inside a vase, 

let us watch the white birds 

outside scramble to the tops 

of their trees as we 

both wonder, in beautiful silence, 


if the rest of humanity might 

one day understand each other 

in the simple way we do. 

The angels are aging,

            Their skin of silk curtains hang

Like stoles over their clavicles.

 

They are draped in lace,

            Weaved by the pearly spiders,

That are growing old, too.

 

The golden gate is patinaed

            and whines with every entry.

It mimics the harpist.

            Her fingers have rusted too.

 

On some days, the sun swathes

            herself in clouds like a withering

woman.

 

The doves with their watchful eyes

            sit on the fractured incline, even they

are bothered by the light.

Christina Maria Kosch is a junior at Washington and Jefferson College. She is the managing editor for Wooden Tooth Review and an editor for 1932 Quarterly. She is passionate about social equality and Jeopardy. 

Austin Davis' poetry has been published widely in literary journals and magazines. Most recently, his work can be found in Pif Magazine, Folded Word, The Poetry Shed, In Between Hangovers and Spillwords. "The Moon and Her Ocean" was published in 2017 by Fowlpox Press and Austin's first full length collection, "Cloudy Days, Still Nights" is being released this spring by Moran Press. Check out Austin's website at https://austindavispoetry.weebly.com/

Hell of a Nose

By Clara Barnhart

At some point when we first started dating

he said , “Clara, you’ve got a hell of nose.”

It’s true, this nose, it’s a hell of a nose,

meaning: it’s big. It’s got a bump and black hairs that stick out

of wide nostrils. It gets covered in blackheads that started

around age 12, at first my mother thought it was just dirt,

she scrubbed it raw one night trying to get them off,

then my brother showed me how to press

them out with my fingers in front of the mirror.

The bump appeared at around the same time,

like convergent plates, I was confused by my reflection,

off balance from the new view

of the mountain in the middle of my face.

In class I tried to make it look like I was just resting my head

in my hand but really I was holding it over my

profile like a horse blinder so no one would notice.

It still looked almost like my old nose from the front.

My mother cried, “Oh, you all start out with the cutest little

noses and then sooner or later they turn into your Dad’s.”

It’s true, this nose, it’s a Barnhart nose.

Aunt Nancy, Aunt Martha, Vicky, Pam, Uncle Pug,

all there to varying degrees, bright eyes and big noses.

My Dad’s nose started out big and bumped, but then

he broke it two times so now it’s crooked too.

The first time he broke it he was trying to do a backflip off a car,

He was just a kid and got excited after watching the Olympics.

Second time was during a football game that my Mother was at,

“What a big baby,” she says, “the way he was carrying on

out there in the grass, holding his big old nose.”

She never expected that she would marry him.

I broke mine when I was two, my mother used

to call me Boo-boo bear, mostly because I was born unfriendly

with a full head of hair, big brown eyes and a dark complexion,

but when I hear it I think of the picture of my two year old self

scowling at the camera with a scraped up nose.

There’s another picture of me a couple years later,

sitting on my mother’s lap, she’s resting her chin on my head,

looking away, a small smile, her soft eyes,

hair falling like heaven around bare shoulders.

My mother’s nose is very small with a slight upturn. She calls

It a piggy nose, but I think she does this to make us all feel better.

The truth is, my mother, she’s beautiful

in a way that most people are not.

I see flashes of her in both of my brothers, and in myself,

like looking at a reflection in moving water.

The trick is not to hold too still.

By Clara Barnhart

Azalea Campground

You mixed about a pot’s worth

of instant coffee into your to-go cup.

You said, “This morning let’s relax.”

Just saying this was enough to make

you feel like you’d rested, to make you berate

yourself to get back to work. Minutes later

you swarmed the campsite, stuffed rain flies

into sacks, counted all the tent stakes twice,

here and there stopping to spoon yourself a bite

of oatmeal from the communal bowl.

That site was spotless in less than ten minutes,

our backpacks fully formed

with bear bins and emergency socks.

Before making our way into the backwoods

we made a stop at a grove of old growth trees,

the first Sequoia’s we’d seen.

You got ahead of me on the trail and finally

sat down on a root the size of a picnic table

under the two-thousand-year-old towers.

A tributary flowed between them; it was a lush year

In California, the foothills an electric green,

phoenix-like after five years of drought.

Birds flew with deft silence

in and out of the fallen trees,

hollowed out by age and fire.

I walked up to your resting spot,

laid my hand on your shoulder.

You turned towards me, your face

moved to stillness,

your eyes filled with tears.

Clara Mae Barnhart is an Academic Advisor and a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Binghamton University where she was the recipient of the Samuel Newhouse Foundation Award for poetry. Recently she won an Academy of American Poet’s College Prize and has twice been nominated for an AWP Intro Award. Some of her recent work is published or forthcoming in Timberline Review, Paterson Literary Review, RiverTeeth, Gravel, The Comstock Review, FishFood, Louisiana Literature, and Negative Capability Journal. She lives in Binghamton, NY with her loves; Eric, Angelo, Ellie, and Duke.

By Clara Barnhart

Twenty-eight (and a half)

At a dance party in our kitchen we showed off our best moves,

the lawn mower, the shopping cart, churn the butter, knead the dough,

but when you laughed at me when I attempted the sprinkler,

I pushed you off your stool and kept on dancing.

You laid down on the floor, laughing, while your best friend helped you up.

“Look at how hot she is,” I heard you say, “And I’m just down here on the floor.”

I ran a 5K that morning with a friend, picked strawberries and ate too many,

tried on dresses that were tight at the waist and showed cleavage,

second hand jeans that hugged our asses, perused through the juniors section,

not because we liked anything, but because we still (barely) could.

On Monday I ran in the morning and felt a twinge of pain on the outside

of my knee that I’d never felt before, apparently symptomatic

of IT band syndrome. In high school I never trained over the summer,

just started cross country season cold turkey, let it beat the hell out of me

until all the sudden I could run five miles without losing my breath.

A friend of mine was recently disgusted by an acquaintance,

“She’s writing her thesis on aging. I mean really? She’s not even 30.”

But aren’t we all scared of it? Getting closer to dying, losing parts of our lives

that we didn’t deem negotiable. My grandma one day, by way of a greeting

said to me, “Clara, it hurts getting old. It really hurts and it’s awful.

No one ever told me that, and I wanted you to know.”

What can I do with this information? Start stretching?

Or I can look hot, I can dance like an idiot, I can eat all the cheese,

pick all the berries crouched low in a hot field, run myself into a syndrome,

let youth beat the hell out of me over and over again until it can’t.

12.

Saint Clare, The Next Day

By Lisa Zimmerman

I forgave my father for wanting me back.

Firstborn daughter, gleaming pearl—payment

for some future allegiance my marriage would bring.

 

Seven knights were sent to the convent

to find me and bring me home to him.

They galloped to the gate on beautiful horses.

Through slats in the shutters I saw their black hooves,

their frothing mouths, the metal bits

behind their teeth.

 

I rubbed my palm over my shorn head.

No man would own me, ever.

 

When I opened the shutters

and leaned from the window

some of the men groaned to see

my flowing tresses gone.

They would ride back to Assisi

to tell my father I was dead

serious. I saw how they jerked

the horses’ heads with the reins

to turn them around—not to be cruel,

but because they were afraid.

That was when I forgave them too.

Lisa Zimmerman’s poetry has appeared in Natural Bridge, Florida Review, Poet Lore, Cave Wall, and other journals. Her most recent collections are The Light at the Edge of Everything(Anhinga Press) and The Hours I Keep (Main Street Rag). Her poems have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize. She’s an associate professor at the University of Northern Colorado and lives in Fort Collins.

By Margot DeSalvo

Compulsion

Pronounce secrets

Blossom avenue

Slender tongue

 

Morning through sounds

            Consume a bouquet

                        of liquid people

            dark were the laces

            and their tendril pages

Margot DeSalvo is a college composition and creative writing instructor in NY and NJ. She is also a co-editor of Flatbush Review.

Class 2011

By Ahja Fox 

April 12, 2018

By Jakob Boyd

Lover,

they cut up our horses
while we danced like maniacs
in the chaos

the fish drank the last ocean
iceburg brainfreeze
kicked our teeth out
collateral wars
enforced by disorders

lick my memory
fuck me in the name
purge my second brain
my third home
my visions of no one

hell on earth
heaven in the alley ways
forgive me in the vacuum
for first causes and fourth estates
legal slaughter and failed states
for being ready to beg for peace

exploring sex on the precipice
the tongue’s introduction
under the inside of old houses
cartography of bodies
sociology for corpses
praying for a riot of satisfaction

there’s just so much to think about
when I’m another button
closer
to your belt

Jakob Boyd (aka 'Laundry Man') is a young poet, events organizer and visual artist from Perth, Western Australia. He studied a Bachelor of Creative Writing at Curtin University and has been published in multiple Australian journals and magazines including Cordite, Uneven Floor and OUTinPerth. He has performed poetry at multiple festivals in Australia including the National Young Writer's Festival, Perth Poetry Festival and Southbound music festival. He ran local zine and YouTube platform 'Department of Poetry' from 2014 to 2016, co-ran Spoken Word Perth in 2016 and currently co-hosts the monthly Perth Slam.

By Margot DeSalvo

Memorial Day

It is Memorial Day

and I sit alone

in my bed

dreaming of last year

in a bed of sand

next to his almost naked

body

too limp to be lustful

Margot DeSalvo is a college composition and creative writing instructor in NY and NJ. She is also a co-editor of Flatbush Review.

I want the tree in my backyard to swoop you up like one of Delia Deetz statues from Beetlejuice except you wouldn’t bear witness to a marriage, you would be the marriage. Caffeine-coated jeans and a river that crosses over itself. Infinity in a bottle. Aromatic diary to remind me of yesterday’s 406th kiss. Practice, we are just practicing for all the cute boys in college. I twist my ring on steps. The ring the first lady gave me when I was a self-proclaimed model for Hot Topic and you were all brains with jelly bracelets around your wrists. No thought to the rumors that you would kiss absolutely anybody or    worse, have anal sex. But that wasn’t as bad as when word got out I flash a purity ring. Like to spread my fingers wide to show the engraving ‘True Love Waits’. Crosses itching my jawline from the earrings my mom made. Now I am here, in front of your house, wanting your breath on my neck again. Your hair looped around my fingers, wet and lavender. I throttle the ovary of a rose. Tuck my pinky beneath its   hip. Pétalo masa lips. You taste molasses over cornbread when you tell me hello and now this is truth or dare. The truth is I can do handstands in the water, I lied so you would hold me there in a massive tub of leaves, bee stings, and hair ties. It didn’t have to be a dare, me straddling the neck of some jock just to scream ‘we [I] love you’ at the top of my lungs, your name in race car loops above my head. See, I like when you put a bass in my chest. Skrillex shaking my nerves into submission. You know exactly how to bop your head to it and I want to be you. Of you. In you. The sky is cluttered with spring themed color swatches. And I think we should share an apartment, share a school, share a state, but things happen     you say, but I will always be your best friend you say. And this is the time I say goodnight and goodbye. This is when you say it was all for kicks.

Ahja Fox resides in Aurora, Colorado. She is an avid reader, dancer, and researcher of all things morbid and supernatural. Her other passion is acting as co-host/ co-partner for Art ofStorytelling (a reading series in Denver). You can find her work published or forthcoming in Driftwood Press, Rigorous, Noctua Review, Boned, SWWIM , Taxicab Magazine, and more. Stay up-to-date on her reading/performance schedule and publications by following her on Instagram and Twitter at aefoxx.

By Ahja Fox 

Strobe

The air bleeds praises deeper than my tongue under a glass of suicide ice cubes. It nibbles on my ear as I summon the stage, crave bodies blended into halo lights swinging across gin-graffitied rooms. I am smashed guitar on stage left, ruptured spleen, bridge snapped back to 1982, ringing hell’s bells when I dance down the mic between planks pooling sweat.

Call me Lana.

 

Del Rey of cherry-stemmed bathroom sessions, falsettos defying gravity, snapping pipe/landlines and the leg of every other behind the curtain. Strip my top like the unveiling of a new drum set. Send me to the rock-heavy cosmos. Let me spread the ashes of sound    on my belly, name myself the night.

Ahja Fox resides in Aurora, Colorado. She is an avid reader, dancer, and researcher of all things morbid and supernatural. Her other passion is acting as co-host/ co-partner for Art ofStorytelling (a reading series in Denver). You can find her work published or forthcoming in Driftwood Press, Rigorous, Noctua Review, Boned, SWWIM , Taxicab Magazine, and more. Stay up-to-date on her reading/performance schedule and publications by following her on Instagram and Twitter at aefoxx.

March 13, 2018

11.

By Michael Carter

Internal Exile: Cabin Fever

I’m depopulating my cities, outposts that rose up

under the radar, blossomed into full blown suburban

sprawl, strip malls on the cheap, failure of success.

Ass-Grown-Large, He-Who-Burns-More-Fuel I’m

society’s S.U.V. impressive, bigger than my parking space.

My intelligence failed because I depend on it. Thus

I resolve to let the prairies and the prairie dogs, round

shouldered buffalo roam through my front & formerly

front lawn. Oh, Great-Food-Chain, Pyramid-of-Healthy-Eating

future archeologists won’t know what to do, with their other

theories. I identify and let the dog sleep on the blue

velvet chair. The wood matches her coat, it is picturesque.

Anthropologists posit my taboos grew too large, large as my car.

They became unattainable, inaccurate, and perfectly acceptable.

But I’ll tell you now, on the record, without prejudice

it’s not any fun, there’s almost nothing here already.

Michael Carter is a poet and psychotherapist in the Berkshires. Poems of his are forthcoming from Black Rabbit and Columbia Review. Previously, his poems have appeared in such journals as Boulevard, Ploughshares and Spoon River Poetry Review. He is a two time Writers by Writing Tomales Bay Fellow and was recently named a Wolf House resident for Summer 2018. He works as a school counselor and lives with his two hounds. 

By Shirley Jones-Luke

Even the Soul has Form

It's a transparent tapestry,

striking the ground

then glides away,

caressing the earth's periphery

vibrations are felt

form exists everywhere

but we see the soul elsewhere

far from end of the world

where form is crushed,

pausing the planet’s spin

cores beyond shaken

the fabric like flesh

ripped,

becoming nonexistent.

Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet from Boston, Mass. She has an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has been published in several journals and magazines, such as Adanna, Adelaide and Deluge. Shirley was a Poetry Fellow in 2016 & 2017 at the Watering Hole Poetry Retreat.

By Antonia Clark

At the Divide

When we pass through

one another's thoughts,

 

it's on horseback

or pack mule,

stragglers riding deep

into the canyon,

 

red walls striated

with layers of sediment,

studded with fossilized

life forms, locked

in stone, indecipherable.

 

My shadow's length

reminds me not to linger.

I train my eyes straight

ahead and grip the reins,

 

knees pressed tight

to the heaving sides

of my mount.

Antonia Clark, a medical writer and editor, has also taught creative writing and manages an online poetry workshop, The Waters. Her poems have appeared in many print and online journals, including The Cortland Review, The Missouri Review, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle. She has published a chapbook, Smoke and Mirrors, and a full-length poetry collection, Chameleon Moon.

By Alexandre Bartolo

how to keep your childhood intact

The Girl from Ipanema or 

If you swim, unpleasant

little creatures will

occupy your pores.

 

By New Year's Eve,

magazines are unfilled,

mixing their bassy sounds

to the rainbow fireworks.

 

If you drive, a lost

GPS will guide you

to the militia's basement.

 

By Carnival,

jeans are unzipped,

exposing their dear

oversized brothers.

 

If you talk, control

your desire to say "Hola",

and claim we live in forests.

 

By your departure, you

will advise every dear one

to not travel to Buenos Aires,

the capital of samba & caipirinha.

Alexandre Bartolo is a Brazilian student who graduated from high school in 2015. He has poems and prose published and forthcoming at The Poet Community, Social Justice Poetry, Tuck Magazine and Spillwords. He now seeks to learn the process of language as well as if life is kind enough, to be read. 

10.

February 10, 2018

By Merril D. Smith

Survivor

They come before dawn,

serpent-eyed men

with frozen souls.

One by one,

they grunt over her body, while she—

there and not--

memorizes the details of their features,

the mole over one man’s left eyebrow,

the acne scars on another’s cheek,

most of all the commander,

whose body seems cold,

even in the heat of the waning day,

his face, a mask without emotion.

She holds these fragments tightly in her mind,

even as blood and fluids flow from her body.

When they finish,

they kick her aside

like a stray dog.

Like a stray dog,

she curls up in the dirt,

feeling her wounds festering,

changing her into something else.

She feels cold,

she feels her eyes narrow like a snake’s.

Silently she waits for darkness

till she can uncoil and strike.

Merril D. Smith is freelance writer, editor, and poet. She has a Ph.D. in American history and is the author/editor of several books of history, gender, and sexuality.

Happily Seething

By Scott Outlar

In a poem,

I’ll rip your heart out,

eat two-fifths

while it’s still beating,

and then bury

half of what remains

in a shallow grave,

making sure to keep

a little piece

in my pocket for later.

 

But in this life

I have found,

when the pen’s set down,

it’s best

to simply make merry

with both friend

and foe alike;

 

and if my teeth

happen to show

when I’m grinning,

don’t sweat it,

I swear it’s

not hunger setting in,

but just

true blue

bliss

shining through

while I’m getting

my kicks

with a laugh

in the fire.

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live events, and books can be found. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Scott was a recipient of the 2017 Setu Magazine Award for Excellence in the field of literature. His words has been translated into Albanian, Afrikaans, Persian, Serbian, and Italian.

With the Morning Mist

By Scott Outlar

Her blood rush

was a white light flooding

through veins that craved

more electricity than the socket

could possibly deliver

 

1,000 miles per hour

straight into humbling thickets

catching splinters

that just didn’t matter

once all the wounds became holy

 

Singing hymns

from a half-full bed

seemed the best

way to call upon the Lord

to chase out

every empty spirit still

hiding underneath the sheets

 

The ghost of hallelujah

passed between the veil

without any sound

louder than a breath

whispered to catch

a voice so feint

as it was carried away

into a final fading sleep

Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live events, and books can be found. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Scott was a recipient of the 2017 Setu Magazine Award for Excellence in the field of literature. His words has been translated into Albanian, Afrikaans, Persian, Serbian, and Italian.

By Wanda Deglane

Phenomenon

I am bitter ruins,

I am the rotten, mushed fruit of the batch.

No longer wide-eyed and living

in honeyed ignorance between these walls.

I’ve been given new, dead eyes that sour

the home I once loved: the dark stain

on my wall and the dimples of my ceiling,

whisper Leave this place, run, run.

My mother frosts a cake with sweet precision,

humming to Christmas music while she works,

and I see her crumbling beneath my father’s fists

ten years ago. My father returns home from

work, gracing us all with kisses on the cheek

and I hear his voice turn monstrous, see his face

twist and sharpen like knives. My brother

devours his food, ravenous, and compliments

my grandma’s cooking, but I see so painfully

his future divorce, his children melting

to puddles when he enters a room, the same

dark, twisted expression passed down to him

through generations.

Wanda Deglane is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her poetry has been published on Dodging the Rain, r.kv.r.y, Spider Mirror, and is forthcoming from Porridge Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and lives with her huge family in Glendale, Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she paints and spends time with her dog, Princess Leia.

Nosebleed

By Wanda Deglane

By Benjamin Bresee

Foreseeable Future

Wanda Deglane is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her poetry has been published on Dodging the Rain, r.kv.r.y, Spider Mirror, and is forthcoming from Porridge Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and lives with her huge family in Glendale, Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she paints and spends time with her dog, Princess Leia.

There were other bathrooms. There were other cold, dirty floors your face was smashed upon. There are more memories so wicked and sharp like teeth, and perhaps on purpose they’ve gotten lost someplace where the darkness is so heavy it chokes the pulse out of you. There were other staircases, other fists splintering your skin you once thought was tough like walls. There were other grimy stalls, other places you escaped to when your mind left your body to fend for itself. There were other birds who watched you writhing and broken, legs bent skyward, but they only looked the other way and walked faster. Maybe there were even other boys, more hands that maimed you and spread you open like a black hole, ripped the sinews from your bones and tossed the pieces of you aside that couldn’t make them cum. There were other nights you stumbled home, unspeakable screams wanting to jump from the diving board that is your tongue, nights you wept outside your mother’s door and wished to wake her. And there were nights the memories finally came hissing once more to the surface and caught you cold as you held out your empty, empty hands and wailed oh god oh god the blood there’s still blood everywhere

The feral days, of unrestrained

meandering ways; so much amusement

on the way down- I saw the drop

coming, let go, and raised my hands.

By Benjamin Bresee

L-Word

A blanket of warmth, security; a weapon of destruction, hurt; an adhesive; just a four letter word, profaned far too often; a devotion, to an unborn child through uncertainty; a promise from an addict to family; a polaris star to guide the way through dark disorienting nights; a tired dad watching over his sleeping pride; pressing on at a soul crushing job to keep the lights on; a wet shoulder soaked in tears; texts with no reply; exhales of exhausted sensual elation; memories of long gone but not forgotten; kept letters with worn out creases; whispers over caskets; butterflies beating empty breadbaskets; three a.m. drives on ten o clock curfews; something felt, but never heard; a sound, with no attachment.

Benjamin is an extremely proud father of a 1 yr old, and works at a grocery store for a living.  He loves to read and write when he has time, not long ago it was the device he grabbed on to while fledgling, and it saved his life.

9.

January 15, 2018

When We Were Young

By Layla Lenhardt

I remember you, sucking lemons. You were carved from bone, I was 23. You were always dreaming of pretty things while I was looking for salvation in anything I could hold between my calloused hands. That was before you lived out of suitcases and pushed lies out of the gap in your front teeth. That was before we pressed ourselves into other people. That was before the birth of the American-sized hole in my chest. Back then we flew kites that snapped white in the audacious autumn air. I tried keeping you at arm’s length but your bourbon eyes refused. You were the wind ripping at the roots of my hair.

Rachel

By Layla Lenhardt

I smell the warm blackness of the dirt,

like a summer baptism of copper

and asphalt. We lie there.

Wherever the grass is greener,

wherever it storms more.

Two skeletons shaking,

the echo of our voices

parting hillsides.

Layla Lenhardt has most recently been published in Peeking Cat Poetry, 1932 Quarterly, and Door Is A Jar. She is editor-in-chief of 1932 Quarterly and she believes that you can never have enough cats. www.pretzel8byteslite.wordpress.com

Layla Lenhardt has most recently been published in Peeking Cat Poetry, 1932 Quarterly, and Door Is A Jar. She is editor-in-chief of 1932 Quarterly and she believes that you can never have enough cats. www.pretzel8byteslite.wordpress.com

By Vivian Wagner

Crossing

Usually I’m in the driver’s seat, but

when we came across the country

I didn’t know what would happen,

where we’d end up.

The sunlight’s torque

pulled us forward, turbocharged.

Idaho’s mountains hung

around us, suspended like

beltlines twisting over gears of

stars, and as we oversteered to

correct for the strange curves of

our attraction, our throttles blipped,

our struts bounced, and our exhaust

flew behind us like the smoke

of unwritten letters, burned.

Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she teaches English at Muskingum University. She's the author of a m memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington), and a poetry collection, The Village (Kelsay Books).

The Money Ball

By Daniel Roy Connelly

Daniel Roy Connelly's pamphlet, 'Donkey see, Donkey do' was published by Eyewear in June 2017. His first collection, 'Extravagant Stranger: A Memoir', was published by Little Island Press in July 2017. He is a professor of creative writing, English and theatre at John Cabot University and The American University of Rome.

It’s the Money Ball when you’re out there looking at the stars, me, the head of a pin of a pin of a pin, the firmament hanging above like a surprise birthday party. It’s a good combo, I who already feel infinitesimally small lifting my head into the mouth of the known universe, settling myself on your pitch tongue which lights up

recurrently and there are no teeth or if there are they’re jet black and diamond encrusted.

 

Looking up at you from the balcony is like looking up the diaper-dugout of the Colossus at Rhodes as our ship passes beneath, my captain’s

salute, our homecoming secured by a glimpse of colossal tackle. That’s how you make me feel tonight - you great black tablecloth with a swarm of holes - secure in our special relationship where you don’t mind if I ignore you for weeks and then suddenly stare at you intimately, such

that if you were human, the room would tremble into a gossip and look

at me aslant, as a constellation of you catches my eye, or a sheet of threaded silver unfurls over Mother Moon. Sometimes you do push

better men to the dark heart of the drug trade, I’ll keep that quibble

intact for now; cover of night. Maybe also when some moons resemble clipped toe-nails and stars their dreck should be mentioned.

 

That’s me giving you my full attention. That’s me giving you my best cosmic leer. I just figure you’ve got a better idea of me than the reverse, it’s hard to tell from here, but I think this is why we get on, my Universe set to high-night, bright tonight; with a wink, we’re happy to keep all

our secrets from one another, remember? (don’t think I don’t have anything on you … ); and then those scintillating times we do get together and gawp at each other like it’s been a thousand years and

we’re of the same blood and we’ve felt the same violence, we are as we have been and more, which might explain why you’ve never once taken your milliard pin-prick eyes off me.

New Records

By Michele Leavitt

Earth sets a temperature record for the third straight year

                        --NYT headline, January 19, 2017

 

We’re all confused on when this spring begins.

One azalea throws itself in bloom,

while others hold their colors back. March bird-

songs rise with dawn in January. Winter

migrants (silent warblers) hang around.

Those might be waiting on more light, the signal

prudent vegetation favors. But here

and there, boxwoods sprout fresh emerald

from evergreen, and soon I’m pruning like 

I would in May. We’ve no single note

to sing, no common calendar, no watches

we can synchronize to make the food

supply and sunshine match the urge to mate

or grow -- just hues and sounds, no clues to tell

us if another pattern’s rising.

Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also an adoptee, high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. She’s written essays for venues includingGuernica, Catapult, Sycamore Review, The Rumpus, and Grist and is the author of the Kindle Singles memoir Walk Away. Poems appear recently in North American Review, concis, Gravel, Baltimore Review, and Poet Lore. More at www.michelejleavitt.com

By Michele Leavitt

Knife-Wound

Chopping celery, I slice the corner off my thumb again.

Dull pain of a familiar mistake – like marriage and its full

circle – satisfaction, ease, discontent, restiveness, and then.

 

Love, take me to the river. This week, the bay trees

release dried-out leaves, which percuss against each other

like drum skins that have never seen a nail.

 

Dead, yet innocent, they land in the channel, transforming

into watercraft for dragonflies who wobble as they mate.

We’ll take photos in autumn light that sharpens every surface,

 

every shadow, and feel renewed, and promise change --

the whetstone we can’t avoid anyway -- and we’ll slice this day

apart from others and say it is the most beautiful day. Then.

Michele Leavitt, a poet and essayist, is also an adoptee, high school dropout, hepatitis C survivor, and former trial attorney. She’s written essays for venues includingGuernica, Catapult, Sycamore Review, The Rumpus, and Grist and is the author of the Kindle Singles memoir Walk Away. Poems appear recently in North American Review, concis, Gravel, Baltimore Review, and Poet Lore. More at www.michelejleavitt.com

By Faleeha Hassan

Scarf

Do not be scared of me

I'm not an alien

coming from space

hiding its horrible sensors

under its hood

I am not here to attack you.

No.

Don't be scared

I am not a female spider

hiding in her web

trying to wrap your body with my silken thread.

I am not a barbaric woman

just dancing on the drums of death.

I am a woman like you

smiling like you

walking on my feet like you

crying, laughing, dreaming and singing like you.

The difference between us is

in the war I lost so many...

 

It's a scarf

my scarf.

See it, touch it, feel it

do not let it cover your mind

from seeing the real truth.

Raising the war

By Faleeha Hassan

Like a pet

the tyrants raise the war

at first, they feed it

their sick dreams.

Their reviews of the soldiers under the heat of the summer sun  

maps they have imagined for their conquests.

Speeches they have written in dark rooms

the future of our children

and when that war grows

it chews away at us

every day

every hour 

every moment

like a ruminating animal.

Faleeha Hassan is a poet, teacher, editor, writer, playwriter born in Najaf, Iraq, in 1967, who now lives in the United States. Faleeha is the first woman to write poetry for children in Iraq.

She received her master's degree in Arabic literature, and has now published 20 books. Her poems have been translated into English, Turkmen, Bosevih, Indian, French, Italian, German, Kurdish, Spain, Korean, Greek  and Albanian. Ms. Hassan has received many awards in Iraq and throughout the Middle East for her poetry and short stories. She has had her poems and short stories published in a variety of American magazines such as: Philadelphia poets 22, Harbinger Asylum, Brooklyn Rail April2016, Screaming mamas, The Galway Review, Words Without Borders, TXTOBJX, Intranslation, SJ Magazine, among others.

By Faleeha Hassan

The Rain Smells of War

Not me this little girl

who holds her grandmother's hand

every time she crosses the street for fear from the eyes of men.

 

No, I am not her

the same girl

who crosses her years' war after war 

turns right and left for fear of approaching astray fragment.

What is the rain doing now?

Quickly pouring down on my balcony

like our tears when we miss our father.

I told him "don’t be harsh,

there are many people

living in the streets

be gentle like my mother's tears when she remembered my father still fighting in the war even at the Eid."

I told him "instead of  your rivers on closed doors

or streets afraid to see you

and instead of me still jumping from sad memories to painful ones

like female Kangaroo

we can find a truce for both of us

to forget all our past

and stay calm."

But who can convince my memories?

Who convinces the rain?

Faleeha Hassan is a poet, teacher, editor, writer, playwriter born in Najaf, Iraq, in 1967, who now lives in the United States. Faleeha is the first woman to write poetry for children in Iraq.

She received her master's degree in Arabic literature, and has now published 20 books. Her poems have been translated into English, Turkmen, Bosevih, Indian, French, Italian, German, Kurdish, Spain, Korean, Greek  and Albanian. Ms. Hassan has received many awards in Iraq and throughout the Middle East for her poetry and short stories. She has had her poems and short stories published in a variety of American magazines such as: Philadelphia poets 22, Harbinger Asylum, Brooklyn Rail April2016, Screaming mamas, The Galway Review, Words Without Borders, TXTOBJX, Intranslation, SJ Magazine, among others.

Aftermath

By Jacob Butlett

red scrubs strides down

the hospital hall

like a ghost gliding through

whitewashed florescence

 

footfalls sharp like

papercuts across your eyes,

icepicks in your ears

 

you sit in the waiting room

panting along to her steps

exhalation for every

snap of sole to floor

 

inhalation,

sole to floor

 

crying you rise

red scrubs speaks in

haunting murmurs

like wind rattling

cracked windows

 

didn't make it, she says,

your friend didn't make it

 

her hand on your shoulder

her hand pale frail freezing

 

you scream

as if she were the one

who killed him

Former poetry editor of Catfish Creek, Jacob Butlett holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Loras College. His current work has been published or is forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Outrageous Fortune, Varnish, Clarion, and plain china. 

Luna-Tech

By Kiley Creekmore

I am a luna-tech bathed in
the ticking hearts of the
crickets while I carefully
plug their songs into oak
prongs; wash my hands with
blades of green clean and
clear my madly gnarled head
with the songs that won’t
come out in daylight.
I lay my body down on glittering
moss under owl head clock
and count the praying mantis walkings
upon the moon — landing
on my pulsing limb to the luna
moth — who is already dying
after seven sex crazed nights.
Mad moon moth math multiplying
behind my closed vibrating eyelids.

8.

December 18, 2017

Overexposure

By Lindsey Woodward

I am sick of smiling portraits

Give me greasy-lipped goodbyes

Tragedies in black and white

Give me love’s bloodied scabs

and fallen bandages; a passionate

collage of paper massacres

 

The heat from my chest fogs glass

Maps of bitter symmetry pour

from my fingertips -

I draw your closed eyes,

crooked nose, cleft chin,

swollen cartoon lips -

Maybe you’d be better on paper

a brutish sketch smeared

from oily thumbs

Or waning in a photograph

beside jaundiced negatives

with no light anywhere

to shine.

Lindsey Woodward began writing poetry at age 9 because she found pencils and paper easier to communicate with than people. 25 years later, she still prefers the company of books and cats. Born and raised in Port Hope, Ontario, she inevitably fled and studied art history and English at Carleton University in Ottawa. Upon completion of her studies, she returned to the area although she remains uncertain why. Her chapbook Huckster Piss (2008) was published by In/Words Press, and she is a regular contributor on The Mighty website. 

A Breakup: Part 7

By Kiley Creekmore

He said, “I’ll remember you like this:”

 

the sound of ice falling from the sky.

 

Only we were not in the city- we were camping,
and frozen water bullets not dancing off
cars is harder to hear.
I can only imagine he meant
the ant mounds apocalypses;
mud muffling ice bombs;
the sound of chaotic uncaring
wrath.
This stung. Later
I sought shelter,
alone, in a holey tent,
reviving survivors by flashlight
and sounds of healing hums; and
then even later, not alone anymore,
my heart ice cracking under the
weight of spider boy falsettos.

Alligator 

By Kiley Creekmore

She is an appendage of this swamp, folded in, pressed down; muscle memory
beneath the black mud skin. Time lives differently here choking
on the black hole water all day
and all night.
She is always there in the switch grass portal waiting: smelling
your heart through your legs as you forget what time it is
because the sun abandons this place earlier than what time
your watch says.
She is the time traveler under the water tasting your breathing: teasing
your anxiety hot on her tongue lolled together with dragonfly wings
and baby bird beak. It wasn't time for a baby to die yet, but she
doesn't care.
She has caught faster ones than you, and choked their bones out at cypress feet:
little legs enmeshed in fur and stomach juices, far from mother rabbit
and the rabbit-hole. Your legs are too heavy to run to the top of the tree.
But maybe that's why you're here.

Kiley Creekmore is a writer residing somewhere in the universe. Her poetry has most recently been published in Tailfins & Sealskins: An Anthology of Water Lore,  Full Moon & Foxglove: An Anthology of Witches & Witchcraft, and Delirious: a Poetic Tribute to Prince.

Breathless

By Sarah Dickenson Snyder

For some it was the heat, the impact, the ash,

and for the rest of us who watched

 

a second plane slam into the side,

breath held in—the world transforming

 

into that sculpture.

A darkening on that sunny day.

 

No clouds. A mismatch

of day and deed. How much

 

is socketed away

never to return.

Growing Up On the Marsh of 

Sleepy Hollow Road

By Lisa Favicchia

By Sarah Dickenson Snyder 

The Foundress of Nothing

I joined a group—

the sky too blue, the wind

not harsh but everywhere,

each second tied to the next,

breath, an animal.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has two poetry collections, The Human Contract, (Aldrich Press) and Notes from a Nomad, (Finishing Line Press). Selected to be part of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, she has had poems published recently in The Comstock Review, Damfino Press, The Main Street Rag, immix, Chautauqua Literary Magazine, Piedmont Journal, Sunlight Press, Stirring: a Literary Journal, Whale Road Review, and other journals. In May of 2016, she was a 30/30 Poet for Tupelo Press. One poem was selected by Mass Poetry Festival Migration Contest to be stenciled on the sidewalk in Salem, MA, for the annual festival, April 2017. Another poem was nominated for Best of Net 2017.

https://sarahdickensonsnyder.com/

The Whole World

By Sarah Dickenson Snyder 

I pulled you out of the river

bleeding from the gills,

my hook buried there, deep

in soft spongy tissue which I tore,

the paper lantern around your lungs.

I recall the unassuaged guilt

as I watched your limp white belly

swirl in the blue plastic bucket,

fins or feathers nothing

but boneless halos. You were beautiful

and I wanted to laugh, hands shaking

the blue bucket, you violently twitched,

and I remember this never happened.

I never owned a blue bucket,

and it wasn’t a river.

How a dirt road appears

to reunite with the woods

 

in the distance—

long grasses at the edges,

 

small tufts finding root

and sun through the dust

 

and a longing in the branches

reaching across the scar.

Lisa Favicchia is a recent graduate of the MFA program at Bowling Green State University. She is the Managing Editor of The Coil by Alternating Current Press and the former Managing Editor of Mid-American Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Midwestern Gothic, Rubbertop Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Airgonaut, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal. 

By Virginia Chase Sutton

Tender to the Bone

You are not supposed to welcome

your abuser to your bed, but a little girl

 

hears I love you, you are mine and she

believes the voice above her. My father

 

is a failure---at business, as a salesman,

as self-appointed family head. Cruel,

 

he often takes my sister’s guinea pigs

watches them root around the heavy fur

 

of the big dog’s body. He growls. Looks

at my father, wipes his doggie face smooth,

 

flaps his tail. Torture for us all as Mother,

drunk, stabs pin curls into our skulls,

 

smothering us with hairnets, sending us off

to bed. Late, after Mother passes out, my father

 

comes to me, big dog at his side. He does not

mind the nest of pins, gently pulls each out,

 

one by one, sweet smell of clean hair

half-curled drifts around my shoulders.

 

To him, I will always be beautiful. But

he says you have to lose weight. I never do.

 

Clutching me in the darkness, I know this

is what love is all about, so gentle in my arms.

Camouflage

By Ankita Anand

I don't want you to learn too much 

About how you can hurt, how much and where 

So I am going to cry when my lips get burnt 

And complain about why you would give me tea so hot 

When you know I drink it tepid. 

Ankita Anand’s writing has travelled through India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Ireland, the US and the UK. She also facilitates writing workshops. An archive of her publications can be found here: anandankita.blogspot.in

Growing Up Unplugged

By Judy Shepps Battle

I watched as

Mom’s self-hate became

a catapult for furious

 

despair and piercing words

carried by Category 5

hurricane winds

 

each storm unexpected

each burst uncontrolled

each injury undeserved.

 

I watched as

Dad’s depression raged

like out-of-control wildfire

 

as he vacillated

between being needy child

and predator adult

 

while I cringed and cried

craving disconnect from

his groping hands.

 

I watched as

big brother came home

from fourth grade

 

clothing torn, tear stains

visible, confessing in

whispered tone

 

the Catholic kids caught me

pulled down my pants and

made fun of my circumcision

 

That afternoon he forced me

to the floor savagely twisting

my left arm behind

 

my back until I screamed

and he ran into his room.

Judy Shepps Battle has been writing essays and poems long before retiring from being a psychotherapist and sociology professor. She is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. Her poems have been accepted in a variety of publications including Ascent Aspirations; Barnwood Press; Battered Suitcase; Caper Literary Journal; Epiphany Magazine; Joyful; Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine; Raleigh Review; Rusty Truck; Short, Fast and Deadly; the Tishman Review, and Wilderness House Literary Press.

By Virginia Chase Sutton

Ars Poetica, Again

Winding around my ankles, bits of ancestors seep,

deep into my porous marrow. I understand their voices

very young. They whisper to me as I stare out classroom

 

windows. What I say when asked a question. What. Climbing

my body, my heritage echoes in stories as Mother conjures---

unexplained seizures, inability to comprehend reality, eventually

 

locked away when no one remains home. Madness. Off

to the state hospital, secured, indignities of loss of freedom.

It is Mother tells me our fate. A child, I cannot sleep, reaching

 

for their voices caught on the lobes of my ears. As I grow,

Mother slips from careless eccentric, teeters on the bright edges

of insanity. All the martinis, all the bourbon, uppers, downers---

 

none allow rest. She pisses her bed, the new sofa, the bathroom floor.

Craziness continues a generation as spirits rise in me, keeping

me up, promising their arrival. I know this is my future all my

 

girlhood, my skull a basket they snack from. Crawling

through fog they plague me until I finally inherit manias

and deep depressions, suicide attempts, medications,

 

psychiatric hospitals. All the while attempting not to scream

even though I understand it is my turn at last, my forebears

full of chatter, poking at me with their bones.

7.

Virginia Chase Sutton's chapbook, Down River, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her second book, What Brings You to Del Amo, won the Morse Poetry Prize. Of a Transient Nature, her third book, was published last year (Knut House Press). Embellishments was her first book (Chatoyant). Her poems have won the Untermeyer Poetry Scholarship at Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award. Six times nominated for the Pushcart Prize, her poems have appeared in Paris Review, Ploughshares, Comstock Review, Peacock Journal, and many other literary publications, journals, and anthologies. She lives in Tempe, Arizona, with her husband. 

November 20, 2017

Dawn

By Candace Meredith

A rose-colored garland

and moss covered streets.

 

Litter in the blackened alley.

A turquoise-pierced sky.

 

Glints of rain against

shards of glass.

 

And an opaque frost;

it’s turning to January.

 

The lights are off

the street light flickers

 

fire light does the same.

It’s warm inside

 

and as far as she can see

looking beyond the window

 

it’s early, not yet twilight

but the shimmers of light

 

cast in her the confidence

that the setting of dawn

 

brings out the sun

and all will be

 

alive again. 

Candace Meredith earned her Bachelor of Science degree in English Creative Writing from Frostburg State University in the spring of 2008. Her works of poetry, photography and fiction have appeared in literary journals Bittersweet, The Backbone Mountain Review and The Broadkill Review. She currently works as a Freelance Editor for an online publishing company and has earned her Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) from West Virginia University. Her first effort in writing a collaborative children’s book is a progress in the making and Candace anticipates seeing completion of the book in 2017.

Awakened Heart

By Judy Shepps Battle

compassion flows

healing begins

suffering arises from each cell

bows and states its name

 

     I am father's suffering

     I am mother's suffering

     I am ancestor's suffering

 

I bow to my own suffering

promise to be there for her

conscious that she is in me

yet not me

 

I bow to your suffering

promise to be there for you

conscious that suffering is in you

yet not you

 

I hear the world's suffering

clanging, intense, familiar

it is me in another language,

another culture, another mask

 

I bow to all suffering

promise my voice will speak

against war, poverty, injustice

knowing these conditions are real

 

yet not the world.

Judy Shepps Battle has been writing essays and poems long before retiring from being a psychotherapist and sociology professor. She is a New Jersey resident, addictions specialist, consultant and freelance writer. Her poems have been accepted in a variety of publications including Ascent Aspirations; Barnwood Press; Battered Suitcase; Caper Literary Journal; Epiphany Magazine; Joyful; Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine; Raleigh Review; Rusty Truck; Short, Fast and Deadly; the Tishman Review, and Wilderness House Literary Press.

The Saffron Bed

By Mark Tarren 

This barked limb

that shoulders dark shelter

leaves

 

the warmth of your thigh 

underneath my hand

 

for there are spices in these sheets

unsoiled sown

seeds of our unknown 

faces

 

your finger to my lips

golden saffron sand this bed

desert winds shift in cloaks

shadowed in blue

 

tell me that story 

you told me once

in stars and nightingales 

with incense 

 

herbs

 

a kiss

 

the ghost pains on 

your inner thigh

the secret song of 

 

Gods only daughter 

 

tell me that story

you told me once

 

where we remember love.

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including The Blue Nib and Poets Reading The News.

By Mark Tarren 

White Noise 

He sleeps with clenched fists

at the end of his sleeves

under the pillow

so he cannot feel her abdomen 

beneath the white noise

 

of his beating heart.

 

Things are taken down at night

and placed outside

the cat

the rubbish

an old flag

some streamers

 

the stars.

 

In the morning

all things are made new again

in the sunlight walls

on her empty side of the bed

 

like a shadow on the moon.

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including The Blue Nib and Poets Reading The News.

By Mark Tarren 

This Book

I want 

to live 

in your story

 

in your fragrant pages

in the scent of 

your history 

 

I want 

to touch those 

inked spaces

 

from your words

breathing backwards 

towards me

 

an exhale of

 

kindness

 

I want

to live

in your story

 

in your tender chapters

with your quiet

hands

 

never will I

bend back

this book

 

for fear 

I may break

it's spine.

Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including The Blue Nib and Poets Reading The News.

Issue 6

October 12, 2017

Delirium Tremens By Maureen Daniels 

You want to teach me how to say goodbye

while standing naked in lamplight,

because you think I mind the sadness.

 

If you were an animal, I could love you

without wanting more than was right.

 

When you learned how to break me,

my bones began to hollow,

but I still loved your human ritual

crouched inside my July

like some homemade, caged delirium.

 

It’s not that I need a purpose in your life.

I just want you to bar the exits

before I become another red dress storming off.

Maureen Daniels teaches English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she is also a doctoral fellow in creative writing. She is an editorial assistant for Prairie Schooner and Western American Literature. Her work has recently been published in Sinister Wisdom, Wilde Magazine, Gertrude Press, and the South Florida Poetry Review. 

A love note to the one who came before me

By Kate Garrett

Some days I twist away, leave

him to cough up the scratch

of sand you breathed into his lungs.

 

He has bound my sting, my claws

with a silver string,

 

but land and sea and turning

go a long way to soothing

the imp’s itch in my veins.

 

With each fall, he becomes,

and the dust of you glimmers between us.

Kate Garrett writes, reads, and edits. She is the founding editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron, Picaroon Poetry, and Lonesome October Lit, and her own work can be found here and there - most recently in Dying Dahlia Review, Hobo Camp Review, and The Literary Hatchet. Her latest chapbook You've never seen a doomsday like it was published by Indigo Dreams in 2017, and the next, Losing interest in the sound of petrichor, will be published by The Black Light Engine Room Press in early 2018. She lives in Sheffield with her husband, 4.5 children and a sleepy cat.

For you, comfort is as distant

as Neptune, but the wish for it familiar,

 

like the moon you watch night

after night from your window, a constant

 

shift from one shape to the next—

never enough glow to see in front

 

or behind, but nevermind: the surface

of your skin is easier to inspect

 

than anything around or beneath it,

and the warm, solid map of another

 

only interests you for day trips, jaunts

into the unknown, last-minute getaways.

In the Spirit of Exploration By Kate Garrett

Kate Garrett writes, reads, and edits. She is the founding editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron, Picaroon Poetry, and Lonesome October Lit, and her own work can be found here and there - most recently in Dying Dahlia Review, Hobo Camp Review, and The Literary Hatchet. Her latest chapbook You've never seen a doomsday like it was published by Indigo Dreams in 2017, and the next, Losing interest in the sound of petrichor, will be published by The Black Light Engine Room Press in early 2018. She lives in Sheffield with her husband, 4.5 children and a sleepy cat.

Oppositional Defiance By Shirley Jones-Luke

We are not the same, we are split coins, flipped by a society that

sees us as one, we are not one, my world view takes a turn from

the everyday to admire the inner layers of a tulip and the thorn

on a rose, you look at the sky and see only blue, I look at the

sky and see the ocean, waves and surf, we are not the same.

 

You grouse that life is so hard, walking paths unknown

I cajole you to see things from a new perspective, crossing those

paths with a strident gait, you wait at the end for me to accompany

you, but my road, said Frost, is less traveled.

 

I walk carefully, counting my steps, looking at the cracks in the

asphalt, not wanting to leave my footprint on the crooked surface,

you run to catch me, anxious, wanting to go where I go, wanting to

know what I know, but my knowledge is personal.

 

With that knowing, you become undone.

Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet and a writer from Boston, Mass.  Ms. Luke has an MFA from Emerson College.  Shirley was a 2016 Poetry Fellow for the Watering Hole Poetry Retreat.

The Nerve By Sergio A. Ortiz

You let me buy

your jockstraps, boxers

and aftershave

plus invite you to lunch

at the healthiest

naturalist restaurant

& if that weren't enough

on the way home

you asked me

for a moisturizing cream

to be soft

for the sonofabitch who’s

running his hands

through your body

at six.

Sergio A. Ortiz is a poet, a two-time Pushcart nominee, a four-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, Drunk Monkeys, Algebra Of Owls, Free State Review, and The Paragon Journal. He currently lives in devastated Puerto Rico.

Bleached By Heather M. Browne

Gray Matter By M. Stone

I've taken over the laundry
everything really 
folding each piece to tuck 
like treasures or love notes
hairs gently returned to their proper place 
I miss how that felt
I miss how I felt
tucked away proper
and you

It's almost three years now
that's a ton of piles
a lot I've had to wash clean
when you leave there's always dirt
soil
richly brown and earthy
where our feet tread 
kids, tall, strong, beautiful
with sharp minds and crisp hearts
legs that run and kick 
sometimes far 
away like you

Tonight I am home 
alone
after caring for so many at the office
carrying so many
with five more loads upon our bed
where I found you laid out gone 
pressed flat and uncrumpled 
silent
no longer able to help or breathe 
my name

I am tired, weary
missing the sounds of you
every single one except

placing all of you down 
upon the ground
in the ground
with that slumping sound
never the place for laundry
not whites nor permanent press
and no matter how hard I tried
I could not unfold anything 
sort anything differently
as you gradually lost all color
slowly draining with each missed beat
deathly white
as the pile grows
every single piece
pounding to bring some color
rose or blushing peach
not stark white taking over 
every single crease, each corner
and like my heart bleached, burnt out suddenly flushed

tinged 
and bleeding
permanently blue

As a child I feared someone would chop off my head

and all my secrets would come spilling out:

 

a plethora of spiteful thoughts, sins I committed

that only God saw. Those I loved would watch in horror