Issue 3 - 8 May 2018 (Part 1)
In the beginning were six words
between colleagues in the office elevator.
Good morning. How goes the war?
Does it show? How’d he know?
An abusive boss. The impossible load.
Phone ringing thirty times a day.
Another to-do. Another meeting. Another deadline.
I slumped against the railing, trembling.
He punched the Stop button, caught me
with quick, strong, smooth hands
and the steadying blue-eyed gaze
of kindness, empathy, hint of desire.
He leaned in. I leaned in
for the kiss that saved me.
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; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel.
All of my wives are there. Four of them I’ve never met but
that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm for cheering on the
ants which are stinging my toes. The women form a barricade
around the food, and their collective look lets me know I’m
not getting any kisses either. A few clouds appear, but the
women simply move closer together, not about to be washed
away by something simple as rain. When a pinch occurs the
burgeoning bruise has a familiar profile.
takes her turn
waking me up
Carl Mayfield first wrote short stories and novellas, which hopefully have been lost in the mists of time. He then began writing poetry and he has not been right since.
A Ride Through Urbandale
As your passenger plunging
into a twilight blue bucket seat,
I embrace your husky breath
and implore you not to speed too fast.
Eight years ago we claimed this bumpy freeway,
snaking past billboards and fast-food euphoria,
in and out of urban-suburban-urban-suburban-exurban scenes,
your tone confident, your gaze steely,
your shoulders immense, your appeal undeniable.
Bolstered by a beat-heavy Byrds ballad,
the way I never was by Johnny Mathis,
in your Ford Galaxie I ask,
in low, velvety tones,
what I never could in your Studebaker:
You cleared a seemingly bottomless throat
before replying with staccato resolve:
“I get around.”
“I keep my options open.”
Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada. Adrian’s work has appeared in Aberration Labyrinth, Squawk Back, The Bohemyth, Queen Mob’s Tea House and others.
On This Earth
Resurrection of the morning summer light,
a tender wind’s
parting the curtains,
calling her name,
almost as a whisper
But who is going to
answer this time?
Certainly not the silence
coming from the cracked mirror—
We are living in this vacuum-like emptiness
of a nearly deserted city.
But there’s a house surrounded by darkness and
a man’s smoking by the window in delight.
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, Hiram Poetry Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others.
I was four
And remember my first taste
Of ice cream – strawberry-flavored
In a small paper cup sold at
Our local park, as a treat from
My father. This was sunset.
Next morning, he took me for a walk
And, after I had played with the soil for a while
Introduced me to the jasmine tree
In the wildly flourishing garden.
He lifted me up
So that I can pick some jasmines.
My mother scolded me for dirty hands,
And for a long time, my palms
Smelled of jasmines and forgotten soap cake.
After more than thirty years,
I try tons of soap cakes
And smell them
Like one addicted, so that
I can pick jasmines again.
Jagari Mukherjee is a bilingual poet from Kolkata, India. She is a gold medalist in English Literature from University of Pune. Her writings have appeared in several newspapers, magazines, anthologies, and blogs. Her first book, a collection of poems entitled Blue Rose, was published in May 2017 by Bhashalipi.
Death Came Visiting
Death came visiting: far away.
Death surprises me even today,
after so many exposures, closures.
I still don’t know how to react to it,
how to respond; how to talk about it,
how to condole. My mind keeps running away,
keeps reaching towards those deaths, those dead,
and those left behind.
Their death close, or distant, but definite,
Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. His work has now started appearing in journals and websites.
She’s my new girlfriend,
her colors are truly beautiful:
with a cat’s eye watching space.
She rules my illusion,
concocts my confusion -
strange storm on my face,
touches my neck until I am subtle,
and raining diamonds.
Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the southern United States. She is a current editor for the Smaeralit Anthology. Her work has been published or is upcoming in Poets.org, Cleaver Magazine, FIVE:2:ONE, Ambit Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, Hawai’i Pacific Review and Varnish Journal, amongst others.
A wall of silence
built with the words
that froze on our lips
We’ve given it life
For it grows taller
each day that
we don’t speak
makes it stronger
dividing our world
into yours and mine
it has slowly crept up
and now I cannot see you
Has it really been that long
since we talked?
Living in Singapore, India-born Uma Venkatraman is a journalist with a passion for poetry. She has been published in anthologies such as Good Morning Justice, Along The Shore and Beyond The Hill, and online in Pink Panther Magazine, The Rising Phoenix Review, Amethyst Review and Plath Poetry Project. She has also taken part in Tupelo Press’ 30/30 Project.
Come to Dry Leaves
Time to unlive now
Whatever we’ve lived for years, ----
power, fame, wealth, magic wand
to put others into oblivion.
Unlive, for whom you’ve lived since ages, ----
lady love, furniture, mansion, witty man
or the golden stair that goes up to eternity …
Unlive and visit this place
at least once before the curtain
Come to dry leaves and cold breeze
The moon is only visible from here
Floating clouds are only visible
We’ve only the earth and the stones to interact …
Every other moment is invisible
Every other sojourn is unlivable
Feel the truth, face the stone
of the graveyard
Unlive serpentine fantasy
we’ve cuddled for years
Aneek Chatterjee is an Indian poet currently living in Kolkata. He is a Professor of International Relations and Political Science, with a ph.d. in IR. He was a Fulbright Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia. His poems have been published/ accepted in Ann Arbor Review, The Stray Branch, Eskimo Pie and a few anthologies. He lives poetry.
It was what the cat foretold:
But once in a while.
No homing device
To shout it back.
No rulings. No body-snatcher.
Of an accord best let be,
Cats return to
A cracked saucer...
A sinking ship if
The tenth life
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 Qld., Australia. Stefanie has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net.
Dressed in my petunia silk
I dance, I dance in defiance
Before my eternal love!
In the chamber of your heart
I am your young supernal bride
Married to my Celestial lover
Ruler of my life – My Heaven on Earth
Is dancing the Flamenco with me.
The drums are beating now and
Rhythm and the tempo is getting ever faster
I curl, I twirl, I swirl, I whirl and I take off
And float, tenderly held in your strong
Muscular golden arms I have no fear
Of falling, you my peacock lover are
Bewitching, leaving me spellbound
I can pirouette all night with you!
Kanta Kapila Walker writes fiction , poetry and short stories under the name of S.K. Walker She is of Indian origin. Her novel Sare Mare was published by Pandora Press and edited by Jeanette Winterson in 1989. Her illustrated poetry book Keeper of My Love was published by Kalasangam, Bradford in 2011. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and wishes for greater understanding among nations.
I never knew I was so small until
I started thinking. Then I saw the sea,
and since, such drinking. Silly stuff to ease
the labor. Makes me think of mothers, sea
inside them serious as origins.
Like you, I was a whale that swallowed all
until I walked. At Plymouth Rock, so near
my mother’s birthplace, I ate rock candy, deep-
fried clams. I’ve read my Melville too, seen
whales erupt from glassy froth like revenants
from graves, converted lobster boat we sat
in bobbing like a tin cup on the Bay
of Fundy. Now, red sky that signals warning.
Or delight—Love, sing with me tonight.
Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His poems have appeared recently in The Pangolin Review and Dirty Paws Poetry Review.
Hidden in the shallows and tidal pools of the Pacific
Shy, scarlet, solitary creature with remarkable skills
Willed instantaneous color, texture transformations
Chameleon-like disguises among rocks, crevices
Clever impersonator, flexible escape artist
Graceful, fluid motion; sudden jet propulsion
Disappearing within a murky, inky cloud
Eight tentacles covered with suction cups, unyielding grip
Short-lived master of the sea, species preservationist
Intelligent Giant Pacific Octopus
Suzanne Cottrell, an Ohio buckeye by birth, lives with her husband and three rescue dogs in rural Piedmont North Carolina. An outdoor enthusiast and retired teacher, she enjoys hiking, biking, gardening, and Pilates. She loves nature and its sensory stimuli and particularly enjoys writing and experimenting with poetry and flash fiction. Her poetry has appeared in numerous online and print journals including North Carolina’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology, The Avocet, The Remembered Arts Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Poetry Quarterly, Naturewriting, Cagibi Literary, and Women’s Voices Anthology (These Fragile Lilacs Literary Journal).
A Morning Train, the Start of Term
Mrs. Griff’s Wyman’s Bookstall is open
and the stern boy from the Haven Road, politics at LSE,
buys The Times and The Economist. Tim, younger,
on his drama course in Cardiff, buys The Guardian.
The girl is nearly late, swings a lovely smile
at Mrs. Griff, buys chocolate, and when she’s set
in the compartment, in the corner (the boys facing
each other, reading), she has her artist’s pad.
She sketches Swansea’s industrial landscape,
later some racehorse country, and in between
the smiling Irishman who is taking tickets.
She is heading back to her school of art and muses,
on cinemas, the Rolling Stones, the coffee bars,
and a hot time in old London town tonight.
Her sister in Carnhedryn and the sleeping baby.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has published widely in Britain and the USA. His chapbook Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes won the 2017 Prole Pamphlet Competition and is available from Prolebooks.
An Indeterminacy of Shadows
The molten surfaces of cities spread across pre-time oceans
unmarked by artificial worlds of evidence and lies.
Survival is a story, and stories blister walls and hearts;
There is no glass to see through in the flames and heat,
only some portage of serendipity carried brick by brick
into a collapsing horizon of harbors turned to sand.
The shore is dry as the tide retreats and dabbles with the moon.
The waves are a far echo of a cave, a canyon.
The life that consequence brings and abandons at our doors
is a garland of flowers long ago tossed by someone walking
through passageways that disappear into waterfalls
and the soft sounds of everything still and eloquently wise.
Christina Murphy’s poems appear in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including, PANK, Dali’s Lovechild, and Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal. Her work has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net anthology.
Seeds of Hope
The day breaks open like a giant seed pod,
spilling its treasures before us.
Expectations scattering on the wind,
to find their new homes and take root.
Lingering a little too long
I lose sight of my journey,
drifting into that unknown place
of mind and thought.
Memories of you
and how your hand touched my face,
filling stray moments lost in the sands
of an abandoned sea shore.
Cold ocean waves washing away
yesterday’s footprints of time.
I walk past fragments of life
floating on a tidal pool of dreams.
The day pushes on
in breaths and sighs
as I continue on my way,
watching the seeds of hope
drifting out with the tide.
Ann Christine Tabaka is a nominee for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She was selected as Poet of the Month for January 2018, and interviewed by Kingdoms in the Wild. She lives in Delaware, USA. She is a published poet and artist. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and two cats. Her most recent credits are Page & Spine, The Paragon Journal, The Literary Hatchet, The Stray Branch, Trigger Fish Critical Review, Foliate Oak Review, Bindweed Magazine, The Metaworker, Raven Cage Ezine, RavensPerch, Anapest Journal, Mused, Apricity Magazine, Longshot Island, The Write Launch, The Stray Branch, Scryptic Magazine Ann Arbor Review.
As Though He was Hers All Along
No soccer player mom, he
Shuttled kids among events,
Listened to friendship lore,
Helped dear ones remember
Toothpaste, even underwear,
When attending sleepovers.
Grateful, she phoned him,
From distant cities, always
Making goofy faces at plans
Of grandchildren, thankful
That someone else did nappies,
Kissed boo-boos, warmed soup.
Decades later, low branches, scrub,
Contrariwise, her animus, its rising
Noise, all grunts plus hissing, scared
Away her only means of conveying
Love to the next generation, sent him
Searching elsewhere for reciprocity.
KJ Hannah Greenberg delights in words. Her newest poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017).
Error of Judgment
Error was transpired when heart was known
Everything was insightful beyond natural laws.
He was adequate more than her-
But how did he fail to remember himself totally swindles.
Judgment was bend over down when she initiated-
Herself renowned at every profound.
Hit had fondled, chocked his heart-
There he founded nothing but her.
She was endless and relentless of him,
But tendered a good job behind him.
He was panicked unrobed his contemplations,
Unable to catch her with happy assortments.
Judgment was justified required nothing,
What had been obligated was dying.
Her essence was gone truly to him,
Rather was derived and pride the armed.
Dissatisfied by heart, disliked by thoughts,
She took prime with day and night.
Judgment derived indicating an error,
How one could be distasteful by her dear.
What was thought that she took?
Nothing was consequential but reprimand-
By him that had been judged only with look.
Not she wondered how he would behave,
He chose immortality taking an error of judgment.
Shantanu Siuli, working as an Assistant Professor of English at ICFAI University Tripura, India, is pursuing his PhD on 17th Century British Devotional Poetry and Sermons. He has five years experience of teaching and loves to study literature for his own sake.
The Last Sleepover
When the clock skipped from Standard Time to Summer Time,
he and she were whispering their way
through the most splendid storm in seventy-three years.
As the passionate night rain pounded
with ferocious fluid fists,
she relaxed her jaw for the first time as a grown-up
since damaged goods and tender neuroses
meant nothing in the brassy blackness when
discreet confessions flickered
like the livid lashes of lightning,
and refreshingly intersecting roles
detonated inhibitions as if they'd been
terminally condemned tenements.
But hours later,
after sunrise had splashed in pastels against a depleted sky
on a clear-headed, clear-weather morning,
with denim-encased thighs scarcely touching,
he and she slouched silently at the airport,
struggling languidly with sleep deprivation at Gate Eighteen
while fumbling with boarding passes and regrets.
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.
Long ago they built clocks
to take the distance, magnificent clocks
for boats and pockets and mantels,
with gears and teeth. The sharper the better.
Ways of taking one’s measure
without always having to look up.
When did we get so weary of looking up?
Imagine we didn’t always prefer the wrist.
Mechanical watches have an escapement,
a way to suspend their inner movement
and I think, yes, here I am, here is that
long line of myself, drawn across not
just my body but arcing back, a reverse
unlike any clock, a way to look up again.
A way out of pockets, away from gears and teeth.
Michelle Bailat-Jones is a writer and translator. Her début novel, Fog Island Mountains (2014), won the inaugural Christopher Doheny Award from The Center for Fiction and Audible. Her second novel, Unfurled, is forthcoming in 2018. Her fiction, poetry, translations, and criticism have appeared in various journals, including: The Kenyon Review, the Rumpus, Public Pool, the View from Here, Hayden’s Ferry Review, the Quarterly Conversation, PANK, Spolia Mag, Two Serious Ladies, Cerise Press and the Atticus Review. Her translation credits include two novels by celebrated Swiss modernist, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz: Beauty on Earth (Skomlin, 2013) and What if the Sun…?
Three times I sat by the river
the wind unspoken in my ear,
my needle knotting a nettle net
that uncoiled across to where a hand
was needed to catch and hold
life passing through.
The second time a scent reached me
of fish I would not taste.
I saw beneath, lying like a bloated fish
a man-tied bag spilling sand
to hold the river bed
and let free my net.
In the dimming light, the third time
the weighted net spread out and sank
beneath surface and I learned
to distinguish that only the mildest
of breezes could tat lace
on the river without a pair of hands.
Sheri Fresonke Harper is a graduate of Ashland Universities MFA Program after learning narrative voice in a mixed poetry, nonfiction program, and doing certificates in Poetry and Fiction at the University of WA’s Extension program. She loves travel, reading, and lounging on the beach if she can stop watching birds.
When carpenters have given the doors back to the forest,
timekeepers have taken the clock down from its tower,
the spies come out of hiding to fold
their shadows into the envelopes they keep in their coats,
and grass grows back between the cobblestones,
there is nobody to remember the doves who nested
in the cracks time made in our houses
except the goats with their old jaws grinding
and immortal sage in their beards.
David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.
Then hold a stone in your teeth as we kiss,
and don’t try and slip it to me,
you let me do all the heavy work,
you just pretend we’re still in Haiti, starving.
Pretend we smell lions in a bakery there,
and pretend they’re after only one thing,
some coconut macaroons. Further make believe
the stone is ever-so-slowly turning to jam
as my tongue keeps threatening
to push the mother aside, and the lions
are having zilch luck rummaging about
for fancy cookies. But don’t ignore me, beauty,
don’t ignore me, for you have to factor my butt
into each and all of these things,
and I cannot see myself jetting out of Haiti
till the stone’s gone as soft as your lips;
till the disillusioned lions have called it a day;
and till I’m promised I won’t be pressed
into being some so-so substitute
for macaroons that very likely never were.
William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such fine little mags as Poetry London, PRISM International, In Between Hangovers, Fiction Southeast, Roanoke Review, and The California Quarterly.
To deeply breathe, at ease.
To close one’s eyes, and wonder.
For whence calm overcomes,
Glory and awe sets in,
To neither worry nor fight,
What may hold us back with all our might.
The heart beats with a rhythm,
Like that of a slow-rising sun
And lights up your morning,
Like the dawning has always done.
To be at ease, and calmly breathe,
Takes life in stride, and lets not one hide,
From the purity and strength
That begets pure emotion,
Like that of which,
Cassandra Scroggs, was born in 1986, and as an emerging author, has always found great joy and optimism in writing about life from her idealist perspective. She resides in the Pacific Northwest and has written a collection of poetry and essays.
We stumbled through adolescence
picking and choosing which memories
to hold onto, and which to scrape between
the built-in traction beneath our boots
as we traced the water tower.
We feigned interests to keep the sun
hanging a little bit longer, the rusty
railing reminding us of light resin
accumulated over years of missing
visible filth in hanging pendants made of
glass—it fills the empty tower.
We thought perhaps instead of jeering
toward discomfort, we’d pretend instead
that lying replaced depression. The painted
landscape lowered from celestial grasp
at our mother’s bequest poses
We’re the mayfly inching on
lacquered wood beneath a
silver awning prepared to keep out rain.
Cymelle Leah Edwards is an African-American poet and student of English in Arizona. She has also appeared in The Cerurove.
is called fine
I could spend hours
in the galleries
there is a simple marvellous
that will never
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada, with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Setu, Literary Yard, The Pangolin Review and The Oklahoma Review.
Every Ghost Story Is a Love Story
When I saw the photograph
of the lost woman in Spain,
her smiling eyes and lips so
much like my mother's
before she lost the one
she couldn't marry.
She was the one with the
most phone calls. Frieda,
leave some dates for the
rest of us, alternated with
Hitler was right but you,
dear, are different.
She could have been
in Segovia, Spain on the
verge of the Inquisition.
No wonder I was pleased
to be taken for French
or sometimes Welch
Born in Barre, Vermont, Lyn Lifshin was raised in Middlebury, Vermont. She has been called The Queen of the Lit Mags and The Queen of Modern Romance Poetry. Over 120 books and chapbooks of her work have been published. She has also edited four anthologies. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and cultural publications. She currently divides her time between a home in Niskayuna and a residence in Virginia.
This rescue will not come with a roar in the air
No pounding theme song, no red crosses on the sides of muddy vans
As they leave deep tracks upon the earth;
Tattered tents won't dot the untamed landscape
The clang of brass shells nonexistent on blood-shed ground
Instead – the silent soldier's fingertip glides across the battlefield
Down the rim of a nose hill
Stealthily moving upon the curves, valleys, and skirmishes
Of his right bicep
Tracing, exploring the scenery
Across colorful decorations, burned in ink on the lay of the land
Her touch skillfully defuses the minefield
One by one, fuses broken
Thread by thread, healed
Feeling the breath of life rise and fall
Near the center of her world
The Soldier then closes her weary, blissful eyelids
Rests her head in gentle victory
Of a battle won, but a war so far ahead
While a cool, steady wind blows around the skin of these bunkermates
Quiet napalm, powerful silence
Tracy Powers lives in Oak Ridge, TN with her husband and is frequently inspired by the surroundings of her East TN home. Her poems Woods and Vision were recently featured on the e-journal LiteraryYard.com and her work Firestarter was also featured in the January 2018 edition of Ariel Chart.
Girl in Distress
after we made love
with the passion
of two greedy neurotics
who destroy everything
they try to save,
she rolled away from me
rose and dressed,
then stole my car keys.
She said she'd be right back.
i didn't know she could drive
or was licensed in anything.
later that morning,
the police found the car
at the outskirts of town
some dark creepy road
that curls and never
the car totaled,
she was bleeding
from the mouth,
a few cuts
over the darkened eyebrows,
not in critical condition.
when i asked why, she mumbled
that she wanted
a second climax
something with more of a bang.
her eyes rolled over to me
and her head fell forward.
slamming against the horn.
i went back home
with a headache.
Kyle Hemmings is a retired health care worker. He has been published in INCH, [b]oink, Gravel, Burning Word, and elsewhere. He loves French Impressionism, the Ashcan School, and obscure garage bands of the 60s.
When subtexts in stages of undress
fail to trigger fresh testimonies,
one has flown to another furrow.
You, in front of me, at some distance
as though my leitmotif is in a ballroom
sequence with someone else:
and I’m too tired to be truculent.
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His poems are in venues around the world: The Broadkill Review, Synchronized Chaos, After the Pause, Chicago Record Magazine, Unlikely Stories Mark V, The Piker Press, A Restricted View From Under The Hedge, Bonnie’s Crew, Be Untexed, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.
When the thunder crashed, the coral reef of my heart broke
Into dusts of years inflated with nescience
Mock smiles of a traitor
Painted across the grey mist of clouds
Then started to be parted
When my sky became forked with dour, sharp nails of lightning of shock
When smiles thickened around the corners of my lips
Sweet as you tasted once
Began to trickle in brine sobs
Waterlines could no more make embankment
It was Seismic News for my Earth
Her crust crumpled, her core crumbled
Into crystals of quartz
Scratching through her own blood
Seething as Lava
After a few hours
Debris of her was floating in a space void,
Bereft of time
Christiana Sasa loves to write as she finds a vent for her strangled feelings and emotions. She deems herself as a “world citizen”. She believes in love, peace and humanity.
The snaggled picket fence lay strewn,
ancient teeth in the dustbowl scrub
weed yard, brown yellow sepia washed
clothes hang forlornly on a sagging line
Windblown trees are leaning towers clinging
to red caliche clay and surrendering to the
putrid egg yolk sun, a junky upright piano
A lamp shade and a yucca plant are all that’s
left from the Oklahoma tornado, like
the Comanche, buffalo, and armadillos.
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.
Outside the Firehouse in Cedar Rapids
I don’t know why they put down your dog
after you killed yourself.
Fang, would have been good with me
he knew my private smells.
I don’t know why your parents
put down your dog. He didn’t pull
the trigger, you did, outside the
fire house in Cedar Rapids
in your red car, redder now.
You never wanted to make a mess—
hanging would have been a clean break
in the eaves of the gingerbread
house we rented. You never told your parents
we were married. I was just a graduate fling
not good enough for Standard Oil.
They put the dog down even before
I knew what you did, even before
the first responders responded to me.
I walk away from our house with Fang’s
dog tags, leaving your parent’s money
on the desk with your unfinished story.
Vicki Iorio is the author of Poems from the Dirty Couch and the chapbook Send Me a Letter. Her poetry has appeared in numerous print and on-line journals including The Painted Bride Quarterly, Rattle, poets respond on line, and The Fem Lit Magazine.
Sunday morning and I’m doing the Mother thing,
up to my elbows in flour.
He watches as I roll the dough
by hand: a snake emerges,
pulling wonder from his eyes.
He is transfixed.
His turn now but his unaccustomed grip
is hard, it bends and flattens
out of shape, and snake dies sticky.
His look accuses.
Once more and then again,
I add a little flour, re-form and roll
till slowly, gently, equilibrium returns.
He is five years old, learning kitchen wisdom.
No need for rolling pin or knife, just hands
that know when to press
and when to let go.
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.
The OG Representative
A representative came to see me for my yearly evaluation;
To evaluate my ability to function as a normal woman.
Today being the best of all representative days;
I woke with a migraine and my cat had a cold.
The representative was blond with the type of coruscating curls
That suit a pink dress lined in feathers.
I sang for him but he booed; I danced for him as though
I was a functioning human being... or an exotic robotic porn star.
I spoke to him softly, as a lover, but he, an incarnated narwhal,
Its horns repositioned posteriorly, wouldn’t hear.
Or couldn’t. When he left I was too intrigued not to read the diagnosis
But all I found was a handwritten alphabet, with the ‘x’ missing.
Rhonda Dynes is a poet and a Professor of Communications at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario and is the author of Essay Essentials (2015, 2018). She is an emerging poet with past publications in Quills, Tower Poetry, and 4 and 20.
Santos on the Roof
He’s learned the art of cleaning chimneys
in our land of seasonal snows, damps, and smoke
from wood-stoves rising in winter skies.
Santos comes down the ladder grimy with soot.
He still speaks with the lilt of his homeland.
How did he come here to a neighbor’s
roof – to this country? Is he legal, or
did he dodge coyotes, on foot across desert,
traveling at night, praying for the next
water? Cinder cones and cactus blooming
after rain with crimson and Pascua-
yellow flowers. He’s skilled at so many
tasks we’ve lost the knack for, and teaches
his son to dream of more. Families
meant to stay together. He’s done
with this chimney, he’ll move on to another
job, let the Land-of-the-Free breeze
cool him at his work. This man whose mother
named him Saints, on an earth so far
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’s 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).
I’ll Never Write Another Villanelle
From the formless and myths to tell
Arisen from the muck & the mire
I’ll never write another villanelle
All seems lost - only my soul to sell
Ashes laden with impotency - no fire
From the formless and myths to tell
Regardless of myths or tales to tell
Neither birthed - nor mothered - nay to sire
I’ll never write another villanelle
Levitate at dawn - journey forth into the gale
Pressure - stress - under the proverbial wire
From the formless and myths to tell
Darkness - rain - winds - confusion prevail
Still inside the need - the urge - the desire
Yet I’ll never write another villanelle
Idle words - false pride - egos swell
I lay the tangled vines upon the pyre
From the formless and myths to tell
I'll never write another villanelle
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.
Swan of the Pond
Neck of Swan like a broken Crescent
Careful of our wings
Not to touch each other
Even when we were burning
Breaking as its slice
Reflected on the Pond
We were more lyrical
Than melted in passion
More fantastic than a ballet trap
In order to remain Swans forever
How we did forget the beginnings of the tales
As Classic Tchaikovsky
With the wafted inspiration
Creating that poetic governance
Older than the Moon
Brighter than insecurity
Whom you call- beautiful
Tell me for the God sake
How to remain alive
Without turning into a Swan
Until struggling to find words of ‘Lute...’
With our motives
Being careful from fingers
And a list of things that one shouldn’t say
But must have done
Tell me for Swan’s sake
Shall you understand that I
Love you for the things we also didn’t do
Continues to change a libretto
With its first ballet
As a Crescent of the moon
You were about to reduce the curse
We with the first hankering
Only the tone of your voice
Made me forget the opus
To turn on Swan or to remain a girl
Naime Beqiraj was born in Peja City, an old town in Kosovo, with high mountains and two long rivers, where she finished elementary and high school. She studied literature at the Pristina University. She worked as a journalist and editor of culture and was also a leading part of public TV channel of Kosovo. She is the author of three poetry books and part of some anthologies of Albanian poetry around the world.