Issue 3 - 8 May 2018 (Part 1)

Monday Morning


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.

Dream Picnic

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.


                    each one

                           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:

“Have you?”

“Would you?”



You cleared a seemingly bottomless throat

before replying with staccato resolve:

“I have.”

“I would.”

“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,

something outside

calling her name,

calling gently

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.

Soap Cake


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,


like mine.

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:


red-blue-gold rubber

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, 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

Our apathy

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

from here


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:

Straying happens

But once in a while.

No homing device

Was needed

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

    That’s what

    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.

Eternal Dance

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.

Marine Illusionist

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.


Watchmaking Glossary


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…?


River Pattern


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.


Deserted Town


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,

Brings calm.


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.


Our Ruins


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

as innocence.


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.


Fine Art


is called fine

for a



I could spend hours

in the galleries


soaking up

the masters


there is a simple marvellous

affection there

that will never

leave me.


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.


The Field


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 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

leads anywhere

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.

Seismic News


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

Deserted, devastated...


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 Panhandle


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.


Flour Power


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
below Heaven. 

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


Assured Tchaikovsky

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.