Issue 1 - 8 January 2018
In the Year of the Rooster
This is not really Chinese zodiac
But born in a year of the rooster last century
I was fated to crow aloud to summon
The first morning glows above the
Rice-fields, pecking here and there
For a seed or a pebble bit close
To my grandma’s straw-roofed
Cottage, ready to put up a chicken fight
With my fleshy crown standing up straight
But never able to fly higher than a broken
Fence, since my body was winged
With more fat than feathers
Only after I died did I manage to travel afar
To an exotic land, when my naked being
Was minced and served for a minor course
In a recyclable plate as in this little poem
Yuan Changming published monographs on translation before leaving China. With a Canadian PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, seven chapbooks, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and over 1350 others, worldwide.
By Yellow Flame
I believe in symbols.
A candle is a symbol,
a common symbol of light.
A candle is personal light.
A candle is a votive of intimate light
to enlighten you enough to read the lines,
and between the lines, to the candle within.
Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye, a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild. Website: http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Tweet @LinnMerrifiel.
And After That
as if she was in a gynecologist’s office
White walls and cleanness –
fake prescription for love
The eyes she looks into are
quite different from
the eyes I look out of
Day turns into night into day into
night into everything
Her hand groping in the dark
but I’m already elsewhere
Like chess pieces
on different boards
the black queen is always alone,
Peycho Kanev is the author of 4 poetry collections and two chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.
Among the ruins of broken lives,
they came across great expanses,
searching for a place to rest their weariness.
Empty from hunger.
Full from hope.
Carrying with them stories of their pasts,
and the bones of their ancestors.
while looking out over myriad expressions,
in quest of a familiar face.
Grasping the future in clasped hands
tucked into worn pockets.
Afraid to let go,
lest dreams scatter like lost seeds
among devouring crows of indifference.
broken bodies pitch tents
of sparse comfort.
Taking refuge along the never ending
journey of freedom.
Ann Christine Tabaka is a nominee for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She lives in Delaware, USA. She is a published poet and artist. She loves gardening and cooking. Her most recent credits are Page & Spine, The Paragon Journal, The Literary Hatchet, The Stray Branch, Trigger Fish Critical Review and The Write Launch among others. She lives with her husband and two cats.
One could say that it is a litany:
you set up characters who converse
trying to reproduce a polyphony,
to complete the merge and the field
Do you have rituals? I drink tea and cider,
and direct the columns of text,
see them as lovers close to a point:
the blank space at the end, a pleasure
Perhaps the two columns
are an endangered species, two people
whom I am in love with simultaneously.
All these unsaid persons are of age.
One could say that we all are in a litany,
I think I am what goes on inside me -
especially when I see one column
and start to overlook the other one
My preferred late afternoon moment
will pass like answering letters,
you always miss one beloved
when you spend time with the other
I don’t want to be forever bound
to this machine of tea and rotten apples,
but I hate to think what will happen
when it finally gives out
Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. He has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.
She has been inside that phone-box
An hour or more, dripping red
Upon the receiver, sirening loss.
It must be bad news; her own.
I haven’t read it
In the papers
And bill-boards bleed
She wipes her eyes
On an apron. Forehead
... What news... Her news,
That turns old women
Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer and musician, has published several books of poetry, a novel, and a libretto and is a member of Arts Action For Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee], she was born in Queensland, Australia.
The dead, the used-to-be, the faded days
surround me in the dark of 3am.
The iron law that all must go the way
to others’ memory I understand.
I used to sleep a whole night through, awake
to what came next I rushed into. Those nights
are gone, it seems, and it’s my current fate
to wake inside the next day’s empty blight
of hours before the dawn to hear the hum
and pulse inside my head, inside the walls,
to see the solitude of shoes, the dumb
materiality of rooms, the pall
before the light begins again. Ghosts tell
me truths within the silence of this spell.
Ed Hack wrote free verse for years, was published here and there, and then, three years ago, feeling the need for the discipline of form and meter, he turned to the sonnet. He has been published in Dunes Review, Adelaide Literary Review, Hapax, Plum Tree Tavern and The Orchard, among others.
The Light Through Your Window
Silver light through your wooden window
onto chips of stone and marble,
the stiff blue couch where no one has sat for years;
this house is white,
reflects the sun, keeps the world cold inside.
Ancient books with yellowed pages
about Ponti, Turkey, your home in Kavala;
your mother’s pot of stew, caked with solid fat,
an ice skating rink on top of a cauldron.
Your people lost, forced from their homes,
only a trace of cinnamon and cumin left behind;
stores abandoned where sheep now wander
and grass grows to the open ceilings.
Women and children forgotten, families missing,
as you smoke from a nargileh,
drink Greek coffee, and Turkish apple tea;
a mix of foods and liquids
from people you love, and hate.
Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. She is now a budget traveler with two bags, one laptop and no particular home. You can find out more about Lisa at lisareily.wordpress.com.
Rainy mornings in your arms
the sky a purple bruise
cedar fire under blacken coffee pot
ponderosa pine and blue spruce shadows
velvet slopes and valleys
Streams sing to rocks naked
red dogwoods blush while cutthroat
trout wait for dragonflies.
Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. He has been active in the small press world for 25 years. He has recently been translated into Spanish, French, Polish, Swedish, Arabic, Bengali, Mandarin, Yoruba, Tagalog and Esperanto.
On the Land
Dinner over, he takes one last
walk across the field.
His wife watches through the kitchen window.
Cracked land and his wrinkled cheeks,
and then, of course, there’s her own barren belly –
drought wherever you look.
He’s slow but determined to show his face
as if to shame the weather,
encourage the soil.
Her hands scrub dishes,
but her eyes follow her man.
His strength in sorrow
offsets her low opinion of the world.
John Grey is an Australian poet. A US resident, he has recently been published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review, with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.
The bell no longer chimes;
the handle turns easily.
The house knows
I’m coming for the last time.
The hall light has blown again.
Try as I might, I cannot
sense the living here;
there is no scent to conjure
memories, only dust disturbed.
And then I place my foot
on that one board that creaks,
that always creaked,
betraying midnight sorties
to the kitchen
for forbidden card games
and ghost stories made more gruesome
by the need to whisper.
The living room, long dead,
lies open like a book defaced
that only those who know its story
can make any sense of.
There is nothing for me here
now they have gone;
the air I breathe I can no longer share
and talking to the dead
just leaves echoes in the air.
Diana Devlin worked as a translator, lexicographer and teacher and now writes full time. Her poems can be found in print and online (The Stray Branch; Foxglove Journal; I am not a Silent Poet; the Blue Nib). Her home near Loch Lomond is full of music, laughter, books and dog hair, just how she likes it.
There was a time when I didn’t mind
flying all that much traveled everywhere
for business meetings and conventions
and to visit customers.
Everywhere I went I collected
small souvenir spoons—maybe 100 of them—
for my daughter. They’re in a cardboard box
in the attic or under the stairs.
Flying was simpler then.
You could keep your belt on and your shoes.
Once I had to disclose my tiny travel tube of toothpaste
to the security guard who was there to protect us.
On every flight there seemed to be
a pretty stewardess who stretched herself
over you to shut the overhead bin
her scent lingering in the aisle.
Sometime there’d be a young businesswoman
in a proper woman’s business suit
leafing through the in-flight magazine
feet slipped out of shiny business shoes
toenails painted red as fire engines.
Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more succinct and precise, clear and relatable, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, the latest being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).
You Can Tell
You can tell
by these symptoms
All these terrors
there are none
It is the trick
Ed Higgins has been published in various print and online journals including: Uut Poetry, Tattoo Highway and Triggerfish Critical Review, among others. He lives with his wife on a small organic farm in Yamhill, Oregon, raising a menagerie of animals, including an alpaca named Machu-Picchu. He is also Assistant Fiction Editor for Ireland-based Brilliant Flash Fiction.
Unzipped like a dam
fatally faultlined, drowning
the downs of the open mouthed.
Like a fish knife ripped
through the watery eyes
of a Vincent canvas.
Like the print left on
the last great auk, its wonder
crushed beneath a boot.
The butterfly stitches
that held inside
such angry thoughts
have given way
and the truth
is just too ugly.
Based in the North East of England, Harry Gallagher has been widely published in the UK and abroad. His current collection, Northern Lights (Stairwell Books), is available on order from any reputable book shop. To learn more about Harry, connect to: www.harrygallagherpoet.wordpress.com.
I want to take your shoes off.
This is an ancient teahouse
I will die here,
among tourists and my people.
The men of Japan
except for blue eyes.
On my knees,
I play my two-string
guitar for you,
its notes Hope and Despair.
This is a house of lights
to you Americans.
I’m at your feet,
longing to take
your shoes off.
Sarah Henry studied with two U.S. poet laureates at the University of Virginia. Today, she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Farther afield, Soundings East, The Hollins Critic, Plum Tree Tavern and What Rough Beast have included Sarah’s writing, as well as seven anthologies. Her humorous prose was featured in CHEAP POP and Factory Donuts.
while continuing to
expand in proportion
just as my heart
is set in place
yet still growing
I can learn
how to love you
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. He is a recent recipient of the 2017 Setu Magazine Award for Excellence in the field of literature.
Bumping into the Sky
You think intolerance a white paste
you can spread across the air. Day comes
with a break between minutes, the red
flash of the red-winged blackbird,
a greeting from your i’noGo tied
slung not to your belt, but to your insides:
If you say you cannot tell
what is true and what is not true,
you are saying you have lost
faith with what is real. Clouds bunch
beyond the lake, lay out a steady rainfall,
move within wind like a herring gull
in need of food.
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse and The Pacific Review namely. He has nine chapbooks including I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012) and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam.
small is sacred
A tiny bug keeps coming inside
my cubicle, and it looks like
a medieval soldier cloaked in wooden armor;
or sometimes, the sad batman watching
over his sin-city. Walking on its
tiny gossamer legs over
my table for a glassy desert,
sometimes it flips over, and anxiously
scrimmages its horns, colored in
a shade that reminds me of something
in-between of frozen
dr. pepper and coke. I tuck it up
and put it on a little leafy twig
reaching my window. I hope it will
come again, singing its infra-sonic
songs of tiny alien wounds.
Sudeep Adhikari is a structural engineer/lecturer from Kathmandu, Nepal. His recent publications were with Beatnik Cowboys, Chiron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Midnight Lane Boutique, Occulum, Silver Birch Press and Eunoia Review. His poetry volume, The Art of Changing Nothing to Punk Gigs, was released by Alien Buddha Press in July 2017.
From liquid spinnerets – song of silk
hardening in air this September morning
draglines without the “drag” – more of a rope
to climb back home inside breathing songs
when all begins
falling away – again and again
outside of self or ballooning to another site;
or recycling of silky songs –
starting over with the old - discarded
into something fresh – new
all spiders as poets, born to spin.
Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Images of Being (Stone Garden Publishing, 2011), Lights Battered Edge (Anaphora Literary Press, 2015) and Night Sweat (Red Dashboard Press, 2016). Her fourth book, The Handheld Mirror of the Mind, will be forthcoming in 2018 from Aldrich Press. Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The A3 Review (winning poem), Pennsylvania Literary Journal and The Ibis Head Review among others, she has poems forthcoming from Canary. Find more: http://www.dianesahms-guarnieri.com/
I give you
in white space.
Maybe we go
maybe we go to light.
Maybe any words
Mark Jackley’s work has appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Sugar House Review and Natural Bridge namely. His book of poems On the Edge of a Very Small Town is available for free at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Smallest Shop
I watched him crank the awning down
He owned the smallest shop in town
It was a scant ten feet across
The lap-board paint had lost its gloss
And was a faded shade of green
But inside it was very clean
Penny-candy packed in jars
Ranked on shelves from small to large
And from the top-most shelf he took
With his handy reaching-hook
A dusty faded cardboard box
unsold Twenty Mule-team Borax
I watched him crank the awning down
He owned the smallest shop in town
And every night at ten to ten
I watched him roll it up again
Phillip Maguire is an Emergency Medicine physician and self-proclaimed Zen Baptist. His short stories and poems have been widely published, in print and online. His collections of short stories and poems, Thunder Under Water, flash fiction, Dreamwords, and poetry, Reversed, Haiku, Senyru & Tanka are available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. He has written extensively about his personal experiences, always omitting the truth.
She picks the sky up from its
easel and melts it over grass
until rivers drink the molecules of
She needs me to break
this way, so she can
wander my remains and
Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the greater Orlando area. She is an editor for Smaeralit as well as The Chaotic Review. Her work has been published or is upcoming with Poets.org, Deep South Magazine, Cleaver Magazine, Dual Coast Magazine, Queer Stories, FIVE:2:ONE, Drunk Monkeys, and more.
He wants to go back, see the old place.
For so many years, your home; a lofted plan
he built by hand at the end of a dirt road,
many windings of miles away from town;
where you scattered the ashes of father
and mother mingled with blooming lupine.
So much has changed since you left,
the entrance darkened now by absence
of a great ponderosa that shaded the north
windows. He wants to see what it looks
like now, years later. You want to remember
as it was. You drive the many windings
of roads past the last streetlights, scattered
lamps in windows, dark familiar curves
always climbing higher, darker as day moves
west, away. At the end there will be lights
inside the house that isn’t yours, unscreened
by the pine that died of drought. In dream
you drive. You’re strong enough for that.
Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the California Sierra, and serves as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate (2016-2018). She is included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest book is Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).
Sparrow’s Manuscript in the Sierras
All morning Sparrow moved
above the tree line, hearing only his boots,
loose stones, wind in a bottle in his ear,
a trumpet at odds with the voices he created,
basso profundo; might as well have been opera,
canyon-deep, now and then tenor out of rocks,
ahead, always ahead, calling, promising, whistles
from a formed mouth rocks had made purse-fully
just for the sum of winds and words
off the peaks, passionate, moaning
repeatedly as a bride might moan nearing midnight.
By firelight he’d bring back his day with ink from
a ballpoint pen treasured like the last salt handful.
For three days he heard the last word spoken to him,
a quick g’day from a prospector passing by as much
apparition as his eyes would allow, swallowed wholly
by a twist in the trail, boots, mule, even the heavy
scent of old burlap and barns and leather near
destruction fading past recognition, past recall:
Sparrow here, gathering words for stars not yet begun.
Tom Sheehan served in the 31st Infantry in Korea 1951-52, graduated from Boston College in1956, published 32 books, has multiple works in Rosebud, Literally Stories, Linnet’s Wings, Serving House Journal and Copperfield Review namely. He has received 32 Pushcart nominations and 5 Best of Net nominations, sundry other awards.
are often found
on rainy mornings
in early spring
Terrence Sykes was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia. This isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations, whether real or imagined. He has been published in India, Scotland, Spain and the USA.
Early Portrait Rediscovered
On our first date, you showed your Kali colors,
made me fall, and rise, in love. We set
the sky on fire—the contrails fading, godhead’s
pigtails graying. Strung a line of laundry,
stained, between the horns of Satan. Spun
our thread, stretched randomly, then snipped,
a circumcised quotidian, a fate
snagged on the stars. And all this over
plonky cabernet, a pot of beer-steamed
mussels. Speak in metaphors or not,
for anything that we imagine is real.
Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. His poems have appeared recently in Califragile, The Ginger Collect, and Man in the Street namely. Find more about him: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/
Fear of the General
A poem in consideration of the World War I Christmas Truce.
Quivering light from candles
in frost-covered trees,
gives shadows to abandoned trenches
of soldiers, right and wronged,
who bury their kind
and gift the inhuman enemy with
cigarettes and holy day carols.
The general, facing
bloodless, prickling fear,
seeks succor in knowing truces –
no purview of the ordinary –
must cease and give way
to requisite war.
Dori Andrepont reflects on historical events through poetry when not writing fiction or humorous essays.
red folds of cloth
around the wrist
a hand emerges
from the mannered sleeve
entropy has led
their faces to resemble
although they seem to be
different types of men
is quick to brawl
slap a waiter
in a tavern
or kill a man
and the scene
is lit from
who cheats at cards
by holding a skull
who invents the Baroque
dies on the highway
Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, with A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon) winning the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry. She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement this year. Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor’s award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.
The Light Needs
The light needs its shadow,
the darkness a crack of
bright shine. The poem needs
some mystery, the way the
farm boy needs the neighbor
girl, now, just as she bends
to lift the weight of chores.
All that goes on goes on,
and the stars are shaken.
Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013, This Wrecked World, and The Miles No One Wants. He has been a featured poet at Atticus Review, Contemporary American Voices, Houseboat, Basil O’Flaherty Review, and Blue Heron Review. He is currently co-editing an anthology of poetry about small town America.
Happiness in the rim of cheese tins is a childhood whim.
The margins indulge you, if you’re made for them.
I like regularity of newsletters unlike iffiness of others.
Permeance in temporary settings is the song of this cycle.
Remember? You said with an aporetic smile
as if reminiscing was your right.
People walk out of our lives more easily than walk in.
The tin god within follows a firmer scan at the adit.
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). A Best of the Net 2017 nominee, his poems are in several venues: Stickman Review, Indiana Voice Journal, The Stray Branch, Empty Mirror, First Literary Review-East, Right Hand Pointing, and Peacock Journal namely. He lives in Mumbai, India.
could be thought
and she did speak
to it once how
a December 25th birthday
was a jip
not to enjoy hoopla
for her sake
play a solemn
and I wonder
what she’d think
of the recent
of Mary Magdalene
wrongly written —
Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a Carlinville, IL native living in Hettick, IL. — population 200, give or take. Over 470 pieces of her work appear or are forthcoming in around 160 print and electronic journals and anthologies. The first of a 5-volume chapbook series young and unadorned – where the hogs ate the cabbage Volume 1 is forthcoming in December 2017 through Writing Knights Press.
My Doppelganger Sends a Letter
I have a jacket with pockets like dark envelopes
I fill with letters. One letter tells about my kids
who ride broken bicycles forever through the night.
Another explains why I walk with downcast eyes
in search of shiny things, how we are alike.
Someday I’ll empty each deep pocket.
I’ve had enough of me.
Jim Zola is a poet and photographer. He lives in North Carolina.
Ninety degrees and non-functional air conditioner.
The magnolia on your back magnified
by a bead of sweat as you sit at the desk
in your office. It is dark, though not yet
night. The table across the room
and its piles yet to be organized
are still visible, the taunts of fourth-graders
with a fat new classmate.
Fingers on the keyboard transcribe the input
of eyes without concentration. Your mind
returns to the magnolia, the way
your new lover’s tongue felt across it,
warmer, firmer than sweat.
It was night then.
Robert Beveridge makes noise at xterminal.bandcamp.com and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pulsar, Tessellate, and Scarlet Leaf Review, among others.
From his chilly kitchen in Quidi Vidi,
Old Gushue smells like a fisherman and has a fisherman’s squint.
Over toutons and lassie he tackles the Telegraph-Journal with taciturn disgust -
Newfoundland’s still floundering -
or maybe it’s foundering, nothing new there.
While the Rock’s residents still drove on the left,
the nice kind young feller,
whose island was littered with the telltale tatters
of deserted independence, Depression,
war and weariness,
swore with aspirated Hibernian haitches that confederation with Canada
would be the stuff of stability, the blessed blueprint for a boom.
Now, within spitting distance of seven decades later,
the resources have been raided,
the cod have called it quits,
and his predictions of prosperity have melted away
like icebergs in summer.
Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Adrian’s poetry has appeared in The Mackinac, Plum Tree Tavern, Postcard Poems and Prose, Red Weather, Red Fez and others.
The Official Account
The chronicler wrote the official account.
The lines formed a vessel of reality
shipwrecked on a shore of fiction.
The sources for the text:
events of the day,
in his mind,
on the page,
inked into parchment.
The plot surfaces.
A cartography of perspective.
Literal and littoral.
Experience made manifest --
metaphorical by metes and bounds.
No matter. There are strands of truths
woven into this fabric(ation).
He will leave it to the historians, the feminist scholars, the poets
who will make their incongruous interpretations
of the doctrinal text.
The threads of narrative are tattered now.
The ink on the parchment faded.
His history is not hers.
When she inscribed
half travel narrative half fable,
she brought forth the ambiguities
that unfurled the sails.
Ray Ball, Ph.D., is a writer and history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When not in the classroom or the archives of Europe and Latin America, she enjoys running marathons, reading, and spending time with her spouse Mark and beagle Bailey. She is the author of a number of history books and articles. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Cirque, Foliate Oak, Moonchild Magazine, NatureWriting, and Visitant. She tweets @ProfessorBall.