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Issue 3.5 - 8 June 2018

Beautiful Vandal

A perfect poem is not so much written as disinterred.

It exists,

awaiting the persistent poet’s efforts

to brush away extraneous grit

and make precision cuts that best set off its



A child is very like a perfect poem.

The beauty of her

existence indisputably


But not all kids have craftsman

To dote in patient passion over them.


Perhaps the child who on unlikely pallets makes her name

Shapes herself the only way she knows.

Perhaps if you look past the paint and shattered glass

You’ll see a sluice box flash of gold

In the eyes of an unloved child left alone

to separate from earthly crud

a flawless soul.

Carrie Danaher Hoyt is a life-long lover and writer of poetry. She lives in Massachusetts, USA where she is a wife and mother of three school-aged kids; she also works as an estate planning attorney. Carrie has poems in The Cabinet of Heed, Amethyst Review and Twitterization Nation.


Past the Sunday wreckage heading north on the

expressway, I see leftover glass and specks

of taillights—the aftermath. Each exit pulls at me

and I give in, pushing upward on my signal,

and back down.


The car edges outside of the designated lines,

its mirrors reflecting lights from behind—


people heading somewhere. The can of tuna

rolling around in the trunk reaches my stomach—

krill trimming a whale’s tongue, fitting into larger things.

That road I remember well, I held

captive the once neat post-chaise, now broken

into similar pieces throughout the turnpike.

My trans am rests in the carpool lane,

Empty windows dull with darkness

Leave a palpable pain bombarding

Passers-by cruising at a steady 65 mph.


There off the next exit, far down and past

The echoes of streetlights on pavement—

So dull without mom to toll bells and remind them its dinner time.


Cymelle Leah Edwards is an African-American poet and student of English in Arizona. Other poetry has appeared in The Cerurove.

The Sea Cradle

Our giant cradle rocks over the water,

Starlight twinkles in the deadly black sea,

We are victims of the deep —waiting for slaughter,

There is no ground that we might flee,

Waves crash and bellow beneath the sails,

Salt clings to our quivering skin,

The captain has gone overboard! —he chokes, he drowns, he flails,

In this crippling war, the sea shall win,

But bid us one good favor,

Carry our corpses home to shore,

Let there be sand and sunlight we might savor,

Sand and sunlight in place of the frigid ocean floor.


A member of the Southern California Writer’s Conference, Milana Quezada is currently in the process of editing and publishing her first YA novel.

Paper Bag

I am a paper bag, I am.

I’m not the smart one,
I’m not the successful one.
I’m not the tall one who always won and 
Then died. 
I am a paper bag.
I’m only as good as what I can carry.


I am a paper bag, 
I’m not plastic, not I.
I am paper: rough, brown and thin
I’m not waterproof, you know.
And I can’t hold any liquids or gases within.
I only have energy for the stuff that matters.
You know.
I’m a paper bag.
I’m only as good as what I can carry.


I am a paper bag.
Wrinkled and used and often abused
Thrown on the floor.
Buried deep inside your drawers.
I am a paper bag. 
That sometimes falls apart

I’m only as good as what I can carry.


Igor Goldkind, born in Michigan and raised in San Diego, California, is a poet and lecturer. He also coined and promoted the term “graphic novel” in London; a now internationally recognized publishing genre. His most recent work Is She Available? incorporates poetry, art, music and animation; a collaboration with over 25 artists from the comic, fantasy and fine art (as well as the jazz composer Gilad Atzmon) and is published by Chameleon Publishing.


The Vessel

I remember when my body was a reed,

how it evoked soaring,

how there was a kind of music

when I was in the teeth of the wind.


I remember when my body was a torch:

the small heat from my blaze,

the way the world danced in my light.


I remember when I was a willow,

how close I was to water, the fluidity,

my flirtation with gravity.


I remember when my body carried me

without complaint, compliant,

a body of work. Now it is nothing

but a body of knowledge.


Yvonne Zipter is the author of the full-length collection The Patience of Metal (a Lambda Literary Award Finalist) and the chapbook Like Some Bookie God. Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals over the years, as well as in several anthologies. She is also the author of two nonfiction books: Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet. She works as a senior manuscript editor for the University of Chicago Press and lives with my partner of thirty years, Kathy Forde, who she married in 2014, as soon as it was legal in Illinois.

The Raven


The raven carved the wind and thrust himself aloft

In God’s great sky his glossy body tossed.

On invisible waves of trust he rose

Shrouded wings feathered hope.


Up he climbs in ruffled rise

Against the gray resentful skies

Nature makes him strong and wise

Against man’s laws  he sharply cries.


Every hour he turns his eyes in search

Of carrion, brilliance and waste.

He hunts in passion

Swoops in haste

To devour and escape.

No friends needs he; just a mate.


The raven is the blackest of the birds

His full days leave no time to crow

But when ebony feathers spread in the soft evening light

He trumps man and takes flight.


David A. Walsh, British born and Canadian raised, is a former high school principal, prison librarian and graphite artist. He lives in the sublime wilderness of Eastern Canada, sharing his life with Angus and Cara, two of the best friends a man could find.



ladybugs on screen

clinging for life or sunning?

- mystery of spring


The poems of Roberta Beach Jacobson have been published in The Independent Review, Haiku Headlines, The Christian Science Monitor, Haiku Journal, Japanophile, and Bear Creek Haiku.


Would You Care

If I opened up my heart to you and offered you my soul

            - Would you care

If I stood by your side through the gravest of times

            - Would you care

Should you shun me for a day and I refuse to walk away

            - Would you care

Should I gaze upon your face with the rising of each day

            - Would you care

If I told you that I love you and you’re all I’ve ever dreamed

            - Would you care

If I prayed to God for a love so true and told you that love was you

            - Would you care

If I knew it would be the last time that I could watch you as you sleep and I purposely held you tightly as I prayed the Lord your soul to keep

            - Would you care

Should it be the last time we would share a day and I asked you not to leave me and never let your love stray

            - Would you care

Should it be the last time that we hugged and kissed and I called you back for more 

            - Would you care

I’m taking this moment to say “I Love You”, “I’m Sorry”. “I beg for your forgiveness”

            - Yes I care 

If OUR tomorrow never comes I have but one regret - that I will never have an opportunity to tell you just how much WE meant

            - I Love You

Kresha Garland’s passion in life is writing. She finds it easy to write about her innermost feelings, just like helping people. Currently a Healthcare Administrator, she is the mother of three.



The fine wine ages like an old familiar friend

Searching for bragging rights to begin again

Yet I felt like an alien as I sought out the path

The way I wanted was not the way at all

My mind sought out to think of all things to come

Other minds thought otherwise, leading me to none.


Toward the pot of gold arose the culture clash

Hilly valleys led to all things crass

And I felt like an alien forced to understand

But how was it to be when I was misunderstood

With one door open, cause to celebrate

Came the reality of being second-rate. 


Downtime to evolve, contemplate and think aloud

Leads to pound what was bound to the ground

It could be that they’re aliens, but what of me?

Getting out of this maze so I can see

The vast expanse of the other side

But how are they to know the cost of this ride?

Jay Dashefsky lives in Arizona, and is a lyricist and poet. In 2015, the lyrics to his song Ricochet of Sorrow were published in Breath and Shadow, a literary journal of Ability Maine. Jay holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work. He is also the Director of Communications for Arizona Wheelchair Tennis.



The man on the corner curb,

knees bandaged and bloodstained,


each passer-by

with a wink from his drunken


Long hair like seaweed

glued around his neck and shoulders.


of a tortured past, says he sees miracles

looking into storefront windows.


ignore him, only children notice,

tugging on pant legs with defiance and


Says he plays cards with leprechauns,

has lived through an avalanche which fractured his


into two. Unravels his bandages and shows

his wound: can’t remember how it happened.


floods his open hands.

His mouth, catching drops like



Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. A two-time Best of the Net nominee, she has over 1150 poems published in more than 460 international journals and anthologies. She has 21 published books of poetry, six collections and six chapbooks. She lives in Toronto with her family.


Man Sweeping Leaves

So, it’s like this.

A man is sweeping leaves in the garden.

He sweeps all the troubles of the world away.

 I ask you what you are sweeping and you say

World peace into that corner

And against the flower border an end to famine.

And in the centre I say... where all the leaves are piled like

A mountain of souls?

That is all our happy days piled up together... lest we forget them.

And you sweep for another hour.

A man who understands the art of leaves

Is a man amongst men.

And myself behind the glass reaching out to you,

To the air that swirls around you and speaks of an end to winter.

And the snowdrops by the door cheering you on.


Helen Burke is a UK poet. She is 45 and widely published.


Cinnamon Heaven

Waves of amber sway amongst my fields of cinnamon heaven,

Where tiger lilies bloom amidst the rays of golden sun.

Through the valley of auburn waterfalls joining in the stream,

Of milky white banks sprouting ginger wild flowers.


Upon the banks smooth and touched with ample blush,

Of bleeding hearts and pink roses- blossoming with grace,

Cinnamon specs flake across the shores of oblivion,

Awaiting sunrise to set the grounds aglow.


Luscious pools of lime green collect the rays sent from above,

Illuminating the crystal waters in a golden flame.

Beneath the banks where rains collect a shifting has been made,

Heavens parting to welcome me through the fields once more.


Where I stand I feel the warmth of what I call heaven-

The amber grass and milky banks surrounded by yellow green.

And as I touch your delicate face I know that I’m in heaven,

Nestling my way into your soft waves of cinnamon.


Dorian J. Sinnott is an Emerson College alumnus currently living in Kingston, New York, with his sassy munchkin-mix cat. When he is not busy at his full-time job, he takes care of cats at a local humane society and co-runs a youth writing program. He is also what many would call a “comic con rat” -- avidly cosplaying at events up and down the northeast coast most weekends of the year. His work has appeared in Crab Fat Literary Magazine, The Bleeding Lion, Alter Ego, and The Hungry Chimera.


Two Soldiers


Two soldiers start their long trip home,

Without a lot of fuss.


In silent rows, they file along,

With nothing to discuss.


Across the world, two mothers stand

With longing out-stretching hands.  


Oh! To hold their boys again!  

There are no other plans!


Two brothers pull on iron gates,

Amazed at all the jets.


Two fathers pace impatiently,

Lighting cigarettes.


Two girlfriends sit with posies,

And open, longing, hearts.


Two sisters think of brothers,  

Brave, and strong, and smart.      


One soldier, smiling, thinks of them,

And hurries to depart.


The other in a wooden box...

A flag across his heart.

Luanne Pumo Jaconia, CSSW, began her career in child protective services, and currently facilitates parenting education workshops. She is mother of two, and hands-on grandmother of three. Many of her poems reflect the difficult and exhilarating experiences that happen within families as they grow.


Hats of Tinfoil and Cellophane


Hawser BFFs tend toward assembling paper identification,

Which necessarily include nonstandard manuscript forms.

What's more, no one responsible for copy always tweaks

Aluminum into headgear shapes, urges editors, reviewers,

Also blind slush readers to ask for more nyctophilic prose.

Recall that idealized, seemingly perfect fictional characters

Cause loads of rancor among audiences who elevate words.

Some modern readers prefer Super Girl to Wonder Woman;

Most graphic novels fans like gnawing cognitive condyles,

Sucking on puzzle box striations, chewing dyed renditions.


“Cellophane’s” become genericized to mean quiet an array

Of plastic wraps. Film products, those not made of cellulose,

Get weighed among packagers of yuzus, salak, fresh nance.

Only true gloss agents are biodegradable, videlicet reasonable

For man and planet, now, while puerile temperaments reign.

The Muted Light


The muted light, which follows storms,

Begins glowing at crepuscular hours,

Brings attention to this setting’s relative

Brilliance, contrasts Jerusalem stones


With work based on ideas found, maybe

Created from some combination of old

Stories comingling with unfilled notions.

Word play can capsize utmost realities.


Boîtes along Arab alleys, backstreets

Known for stabbing, assorted murders,

Call up populous rants, impact efforts,

Tribal prolepsis to Moshiach’s advent.


KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).


Sleepless in Las Vegas


In between the half-asleep shades, 

in rectangles the city is divided, 

strangely from the grid of lights, the sky expects to be ignited.

Over a flying magic-carpet, of hefty clouds made of sand

the night casts off all stars, on a sail to a foreign land.

The Mirage, this book full of rooms 

is reading the faceless city, 

while the sun feels drearily dark

the night's empty chest echoes pity.

In Shllafaria the land of a tale 

World’s eighth miracle is set, 

on a pricey silver platter, whatever you’d want you’d get.

There, sleep sails away through the shades

trapped on a flat-bottomed scow, 

words fly released like arrows, 

as nostalgia stretches my bow.

You and I are anxious to meet (you’re in my belly)

Walking up and down the room 

Ionian Sea with waves of reminiscence 

hugs a shore far away tearing spume.

Shpresa Ymeraj, from Chadds Ford Pennsylvania, is an Albanian-American poet. She was born in the seaside city of Vlore Albania, 7 May 1972. She started exploring classic literature and writing poetry at a very young age; she continued to write through her adult life and started publishing in her late thirties. Her poems have been published in Albanian and American magazines and online poetry portals.


How To Kiss Her

Suck on a fleshy bit of orange

before kissing her

and tell her she reminds you

of Valencia.

Bite her lower lip,

then run your tongue

along it

while your fingertips

type passionate love letters

on her collarbones.

Inhale her,

all of her,

and breathe your entire self out

in one long sigh.

And when she breaks away

to look you in the eye,

let her see herself

in the best possible light

so that 

she can fall in love

with herself too.

Baisali Chatterjee Dutt is a former columnist and agony aunt for Mother & Baby magazine and contributor to Parent & Baby magazine. She has compiled and edited two volumes for the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series, namely the volumes On Friendship and Celebrating Brothers and Sisters. Her other great passion is theatre, performing with some of the country’s top English theatre groups. Born in New York, schooled in Bangalore, with college in Delhi, Baisali Chatterjee Dutt now lives in Kolkata with her family.


Has Something Happened?


To wonder what is wrong outside the gut
I catalogue rebarbative concerns,
How more and more my everything seems shut,
And why it is I cannot seem to learn


Can we separate the substance from the thought,
Pick from false realities such matter as still holds?
A real within the misconceived as wrought,
That all I thought I lost was simply sold.

Alan J. Blaustein writes using a formal tone, rhyme and meter. His poems have been published in Turk’s Head Review, Best Poems Encyclopedia, Blogspot, Screech Owl, Bijou Review, Verse-Virtual, Section 8, Blue Unicorn, and Scryptic namely.


Linked Hands


I want to link hands across cultures

I have been a friend to poverty

I have been a friend to grief

a friend to so many strangers

I want to celebrate each moment

I want to celebrate trees and flowers

I want to celebrate each faith, to bow

together before the many-tongued God.




In a world of vast cumulus clouds,

warming seas filled with the sting

of jellyfish, in a world of deeper stings

when a policeman shoots an innocent


black man, and then claims that he was just

protecting himself, where we do not see

ourselves in the “other,” and are blinded by

hatred and a twisted version of history,


there is another world, a drawing of flowers

made by a four-year-old child, the hand

reaching out to another, the scent of a hidden

garden; sage, basil, thyme, the spurt


of bushes growing out of ancient

volcanic rock, green feathers growing

out of destruction, nature talking back

to us, love sliding through crevices.

Marguerite Guzman Bouvard is the author of ten poetry books, two of which have won awards. Her recent books and poems were featured in the November 2017 issue of the Blue Heron Review. Her poems have been widely published. She has also written a number of non-fiction books on social justice and human rights.




A man takes a photograph of a tree- heart

carved with a pen-knife by innocent hands;

An arrow is chipped in bark -spear head much darker

than any winter’s night; Initials immortalized in oak.


Do tree hearts ever fade in time and if so -

are they replaced by the latest love;

If time does let the heart dissolve into roots

will initials ever change or remain the same.


Those not so innocent hands are now covered

in yellow beer and Friday night insults;

Would they ever notice their young initials   

inscribed on the chest of the same ageing tree.

Matt Duggan has appeared in several journals such as Anapest Journal, Osiris Poetry Journal, A Restricted View from Under the Hedge, The Journal, Harbinger Asylum, Apogee Magazine, The Orson’s Review and The Dawntreader. In 2015, he won the Erbacce Prize for Poetry with his first full collection of poems, Dystopia 38.10, and in 2016 won the Into the Void Poetry Prize.




I’d spent the entire year waiting for the sun to rise, but it never would. A mosaic of screens provided my only light.

I couldn’t fathom leaving.

I couldn’t fathom being the one that gave up.

But I did.


They didn’t blink the day I left the darkness.

Someone told me that if I didn’t love being the animator, there would be no animation.

But I knew

I felt no love

for this.


The cobbled stones were cold beneath me when I emerged into the light for the first time in 348 days.

I grasped at the dirt and it felt real.

I ached inside. 


That ache would dull, but never fade.

The animator is gone.

I will not return to the stage,

because I cannot be both the puppeteer and the puppet.

Zozie Brown is a writer and illustrator with a love for weird and whimsical children’s fiction and poetry. After working in the animation industry for two years, she is currently undertaking a PhD in Philosophy. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she spends her time writing, drawing and sculpting.




A bit of silliness said the man of old.

My life has been focused from start to end

on the same two words repeated.

In times of trouble and times of peace

they never failed me if I held strong.

I built my life and ran the gamut

while those around me stumbled.

I sang my words and gathered my strength.

My neighbors fell, yet I achieved.

A bit of silliness now that my life is over.

Still, I repeat my uplifting mantra.

Before this day is over the angel gathers me in her arms.

She lifts me to Heaven as I invoke my song.

I Believe. I Believe. I Believe.

Laara C. Oakes writes children’s books, poetry, serious articles, and silly little stories. She has a picture book, The Sunflower Squirrel due for publication in 2018. Her writing has previously been published in Tampa Bay Wellness Magazine and

 A Man Asked


A man asked if I could sing

if I could carry a tune

or hum a verse

steal a hummingbird

swallow it and

absorb its song

could I take the lap of the wave

and slow it down

could I tell one raindrop from another

and catch one on my tongue

could I walk to the edge of

the sky

and let go

could I ever come

back from a broken heart

if you mend

me with love

I just might

Leslie McGriff (Leslie Dianne) is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama, ETC in New York City. Her stage plays have been presented in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre and The Lamb’s Theatre.  Her screenplay, Strivers Row, was chosen as a finalist in the Urban World Screenwriting Competition and she was commissioned to write a children’s play that toured the New York City public schools. She holds a BA in French Literature.



Living life with four senses 
linked tighter than five,
she appears, a cherub 
with a white cane.

She sees nothing, 
a sightless creature
a toddler, 
not quite talking.

Coated like egg whites, 
daylight prods her spoiled eyes. 
This is her fate: maybe light, 
maybe shadows, perhaps darkness,

nobody knows. 
Her thin cane, a leash to
a faithful pet walking back
and forth, tapping, tapping

Dah’s sixth poetry collection is The Opening (CTU Publishing Group, 2018) and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, Spain, Australia, Africa, Poland, Philippines and India. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the lead editor of The Lounge, poetry critique group.


Dolls of Long Ago


Standing tall above the carriage,

Assessing her menagerie

She inspects dolls’ faces with a little girl’s insight.

Loving, tending, feeding, dressing

Choosing favorites.


When in later times

Curly-headed bundles came along

Cooing, sighing, often crying…

No longer a child,

She welcomed maturity.


Now beside a porcelain cherub, clad in pink

Listening to it s wind-up melody

She pictures dolls of long ago,

Smiling, a little girl once more.

Rochelle Sitzer has been published in several poetry anthologies. She loves poems of nostalgia and romance.


A Love Note to My Father-in-Law


Sleeping peacefully,


waving awake at the world,

He is holding my hand

oh so gently

as we are taking a walk.


He doesn’t like nails to be cut,

but likes to be cleaned

and shaved.

He now needs help

eating breakfast,

help to get down

and get up.


Though he is usually peaceful

and quiet,

Sometimes  squirms

and complains.

He is becoming my baby

and I am becoming

his Mom.

Yevgeniya Przhebelskaya is a founder and facilitator of Bergen Poetry Workshop, and an Administrative Assistant at Leonia United Methodist Church. She earned a Master’s in Education from Hunter College, CUNY and  Bachelors in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing from CUNY BA Program. Her poems have been published in Ancient Paths, Anti-Heroin Chick, A Blind Man’s Rainbow and Literary Yard, Time of Singing and The Penwood Review.


Where Did All The Children Go?


Where did all the children go

That played in hail and played in snow

That played in sun and played in rain

Now never to be seen again?


I hear their cries but not their screams

For they were taken in their dreams

Where once were legion now they’re none

Unspoken innocence has gone


Into the darkness do not speak

Their bones to break as hearts are weak

And soon the coffins will be filled

As on the ground their blood is spilled


Anguished cries when hands are wrung

And then their weeping song is sung

To hail their memory rue their fate

We could do nought we were too late


But still we wonder where they’ve gone

And just who took our little ones

That used to look to us in fear

Now all that’s left are hollow tears

Michael Madden has worked for many years in the IT industry, as a result of which he has been quoted in publications as prestigious as the New York Times. In 2017, he created Elvis Under The Covers, exploring the legacy of Elvis Presley through the artists who have recorded his most often covered original songs. Originally from Sale in Cheshire, Michael now lives with his wife Sally in the more peaceful surroundings of Whaley Bridge, in the Peak District.


What Should I Say?


With a few moments left,

what should I say?

That it was all worth it?

Somehow, that’s not enough.

That I see a great golden field

where the afflicted shed their ills

and blaze?  True,

but that’s not enough—

That I love you still

across these waves?

Yes, even so—

Douglas Cole has published four poetry collections and has another forthcoming this year called The Gold tooth in the Crooked Smile of God. Nominated for two Pushcarts and a Best of the Web, he received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry; the Best of Poetry Award from Clapboard House; and First Prize in the Picture Worth 500 Words from Tattoo Highway.


The Trip to Uncle Harry’s Funeral

But we remain, touching a wound

That opens to our richest horror. —“Auto Wreck,” Karl Shapiro

the family in two cars

my sister and I in the back of one

our silent grandfather rides shotgun

his aftershave smells of old age

it should be him in a coffin

our brother in his dark suit drives us deeper into the country

should we listen to music

is that our parents’ car off to the side of the road

My brother veers onto the shoulder

our sister Mary hunches over a man thrown from a turned-over, rickety truck

she tries in vain to keep him alive with her new nursing skills

our small selves cannot imagine this

under the truck lies a woman on her back with the truck’s weight upon her

she looks cut in two like a magician’s assistant

you can tell she is dead from behind car windows

our grief grows small or large

soon we will kneel before the casket where Harry is finished with farm chores

smelling of death Mary will hug Aunt Rita

whose long hair swirls atop her head like something final


Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review and Slant namely. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, has been featured on Verse Daily, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


The Rest of the Story


The Earth is flanked

by unseen hands,

not claws or clinging

in the undergrowth—more of


a spotter, aiding a steady obedience

to a star’s fierce light—if we wobble


or gasp unnerved by the sound of a sun,

is there a readying, a keeping of the inexorable—


the tides, the sand sifting. A touch

of gravity in the darkness.

Sarah Dickenson Snyder has written poetry since she knew there was a form with conscious line breaks. She has two poetry collections, The Human Contract and Notes from a Nomad. Recently, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Stirring: a Literary Journal, Front Porch, The Sewanee Review, and RHINO. A Best of Net nominee, one poem of hers was selected by Mass Poetry Festival Migration Contest to be stenciled on the sidewalk in Salem, MA, for the annual festival, April 2017.


Sunday School Teacher


If Miss Hooker would fall in love with me

that would be good. And God saw that it was good

I might say one day, near the end of my life,

maybe to the grandchildren, ours I mean,

and maybe she’ll have died before me and

that would be even neater, neater as

in sadder--sometimes you can’t get any

better than sadder, sadness can make you


smile and smiling sadly means that God’s there

or should be. It is He that hath made us

and not we ourselves, Miss Hooker says, or

that’s the Bible again. She’s 25

and I’m 10 so there’s fifteen years’ distance

and so far God hadn’t answered my prayer

to bring us closer together, starting

with our ages. But you never know--if

I don’t pray at all I might get nothing

but if I do and mean it that's something

itself. Exactly what I'm not sure. Good?

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry.


The Product


I was made from your mold,

pressed into your image, a clay figure

put together piece by piece.  Humming softly,

you set out to create yourself,

so you laid everything out carefully --

tools, water, silt,

the gray mass of your making.

You spent the entire day on this,

the second son, kneading each part

with the friction of both hands

knowing that the result depends so much

on its beginning.  Softening the material,

you pinched and edged, scored the hair

until just right, widened the face,

dimpled the chin.  You shaped each feature,

sweat bathing you in a fluorescent sheen,

your eye marvelous with creation, a phony god.

Finished, your carved your name into me,

signing the way a sculptor does

when he’s ready to show his product to the world.

Emilio Iasiello is the author of the 2018 poetry chapbook Postcards from L.A. He has published poetry in several university and literary journals and written the screenplays for several independent feature films and short films. An avid playwright, his stage plays have been produced in the United States and United Kingdom. He has published a short story collection entitled Why People Do What They Do and a nonfiction book, Chasing the Green.


The Hummingbird Show


For my grandmother, Evelyn Esther Moffett

It started many years ago, when she

put two hummingbird feeders outside the picture window.

As the summers bore on,

hummingbirds seemed to follow the sun 

to those two balms of Gilead

offered by the good-hearted human.

When God gave humans dominion

over the fowl of the air, He must have considered her

especially for the stewardship of her tiny companions.

She smiled at the thought, and continued her loving care

to these tender, small emeralds of the air.

At the end of their season, as the last hummingbird hovered

at the window as she folded her family's socks and sweaters,

she allowed herself a tear as the she thought of them another year gone.

Dominion over the Earth is not a meager task for anyone. 

Rebecca Rose Adams is a 2003 graduate of Indiana University East with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in sociology. She enjoys the creativity of writing and music, and is currently studying the piano and the Celtic folk harp. Rebecca is an advocate for those suffering from mental illness, as well as for those living with autism.


The Quotidian


The roulette of fate does not let you choose

the circumstances of your birth,

nor are the traits embedded in your character

of your own making.

But you can decide when and where

to step off the carousel of life

and take life in.

I descend at the quotidian stops,

not the tedious everyday places

but there where I glimpse an ordinary stone

glowing in the moon’s watchful beams.

And then I get back on.

Ute Carson resides in Austin, Texas with her husband. They have three daughters, six grandchildren, a horse and a clowder of cats. A writer from youth and an M.A. graduate in comparative literature from the University of Rochester, German-born Ute Carson published her first prose piece in 1977. The poem “A Tangled Nest of Moments” was placed second in the Eleventh International Poetry Competition 2012. Her chapbook Folding Washing was published in 2013 and her collection of poems My Gift to Life was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Award Prize.




Years have faded

into nothingness,


lies have bloomed like the

shore of an ocean.


You kept the debris

safe from its treatment.


Now covers have ripped,

the gold is leaking.


You could trust us for

we are humans, too.

Mahvash Irshad is from Pakistan and  has recently published her debut poetry collection Happily In Heaven. Her works have also appeared in the Us International Magazine - The News and Parestan magazine.


As it happened


My stepfather died today, and I’m feeling strange inside

A void growing in my chest, in my head, and in my mind,

Perhaps it’s the left-over bruise I’ve been carrying all my life,

Remnants of the years of rage as a young child by his side.


All my life I lived in fear, felt loneliness and despair

Used to hide under my bed, in the den, or with the maid

The fear that he’ll soon be home will almost drive me insane

Fueling my distress, keeping me constantly frayed.


At times I’ll wear many pants, and always more than one shirt

By then I knew all too well how his blows felt on my legs

His fury would always hurt, rendering me almost inert

No escaping the tyrant, even after limitless begs.


His favorite, a radio cord, folded, and knotted for good grip

I was to count all the clouts to the rhythm of his hand

And if a number was missing, miscounted, or I dare slip

The beating will start all over, it seemed, he was just getting warm.


When he traveled I felt bliss, I knew freedom, I could breathe

His absence filled my existence with joy for the lack of threat

Every night was a big struggle, like a climb up a steep cliff

The absence meant that one night pants and shirts stayed in the closet


I always thought that his death would break that moment in time

When that little dirty stroke left my soul stained, dry and just old,

When his screams and blows were not considered a crime

And his diminishing slurs imprinted me, made me uncontrolled.


But here I stand today, feeling nothing, not a fleck

Just trying to digest all the madness and confusion

It could be that after all, I’ve been saved from going dead

Or I’ll simply remain cold, numb, dry, or lack perception.


I always thought that his death will bring some peace to my mind

But I guess is his own way of controlling from afar

I say “control all you want!” after all, it’s the last time

I am free from all the fear, the tyranny; just got a small scar,

In the end I win, and with my win, I’m still alive

And all that remains of you are bones and ashes, and they’re far.

Diana Giorgetti is a disability rights advocate, digital life coach, writer, and blogger. She is a multiple trauma survivor and author of Beat PTSD Stress: A Guide for PTSD Sufferers to Tackle their Stress and Take Control of their Lives. She writes about her experiences and is obsessed with helping others. Her work has been published in The Mighty, Quest Magazine, and her personal blog.

Betrayed On Biblical Measures


The sin of the garden runs deep into evergreen roots

My heart was broken thrice over before I met you

The blood of Jesus paints the cross and cleanses my wounds

Judas had to betray before Mary could visit that tomb

My grandmother always reminded me of how they kicked and spit on our Savior

So who am I to expect such respect or favor

I’m finally understanding that the plan unknown shall still be done

Have mercy on your soul and through you may His will be done

Vontia Mitchell is originally from North Little Rock, Arkansas. Her poems are the thoughts and feelings that she struggles with daily.




Husbands and wives, husbands and wives

In groups of twos and threes

And here and there

Even more.


Sitting, nicely

Or sometimes, not so nicely;

Some of them wondering

What it’s all been for.


For these

This is not an evening out;

A gathered time away from life,

But is another chore.    


Others, wiser, drink their wine,

Peruse a different menu,


That especial sore.

Richard Corney, recently retired from Health Care, is now free to torture his poor piano and concentrate on his writing. He has published poetry, short stories and one book.


Half moon days


The stars hang loosely in our skies like falling dreams

scattered out of reach in poverty stricken homes

The street dwellers truthfully mock our crumbling homes

We live life like we're seeking death

There are vacant spaces in the air, we can’t fly

And every time we fall our homes aren’t

safe havens that propel us back up

In the letters you will write to time

remember our names and how we chased the light

I've been trying to find your pulse in everything that beats

In these half moon days I've been seeking your fire

Sinaso Mxakaza is a young South African writer who started writing in 2008 inspired by her love for books. Her poems are about healing, change and finding one’s voice in the world we live in. Her work has been published online in sites such as Voicesnet, Fundza, Poetry Potion and an online anthology (Next Generation Speaks Global Youth Anthology).

Birds in an Aquarium

(after the wood sculpture by Jean Arp)


Where cormorants go

to feel a facsimile of the sea

and dry their wings

on plastic rocks and reefs.


Where petrels go

to fantasize that they are free

to patter their feet

on whitecaps and waves.


Where ospreys go

to dive for mollies, guppies

glofish and gold

and carry them off to land.


Where little birds go

to be at home

with little fish like themselves

that soar like kites in make-believe.

Neil Ellman is a poet from New Jersey who has published numerous poems in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world. He has been nominated twice each for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.


Hierarchy of Needs


The Chairman wants higher profits.

     The President wants closer relations with the customers.

          The Vice President of Marketing wants customer loyalty.

               The Vice President of Sales wants more volume.

                    The Regional Vice President wants more reps.

                         The top selling rep wants more commission.

                              The customer needs to buy diapers.

John Hicks is an emerging poet, published or accepted for publication by: I-70 Review, First Literary Review – East, Glint Literary Journal, Midnight Circus and Sky Island Journal namely. In 2016, he completed an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska – Omaha, Nebraska. He writes his poetry at 6,000 feet in central New Mexico in the Southwestern U.S. 

My River Never Runs Dry


I’m never alone—

your reservoir will never run dry.

I skirt bloodsuckers and stings of bumble bees—

listen to nightingales and applaud butterflies.


I tell my story to every starfish and anemone

that will listen and scrutinize corals

of every color, shade, and hue.

I dive into the bottom of the river

to get a glimpse of the epilogue at the end.


It is full of surprises.


Gone is yesterday’s scorpion with hairy legs.

Fish smile back at me pleased with the bugs

they have found to eat. I sleep, a sated babe

on a stone washed clean of my sins.


Baptized in the river,

I make the sign of the cross

in case there is a God—

even though I wear a yarmalka

to cover my bald spot,


and a Foy-Mall on my wrist

because we’re meditators

who sit back to back as one

in a love that never ends.

Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year old psychologist. A Korean War veteran, he has published numerous poems in periodicals such as Descant, Taj Mahal Review, Wisconsin Review, Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow, Toronto Quarterly Review, Antigonish Review, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post and the New York Times.


Je Veux Mourir


they lie by the ocean, waves crashing into each other

floating, drifting, weightless. small beads of dew forming on the edge

of long sheaths of grass, gently dipping to the soft sand, where they

sit, the sky empty and clear, streaks of color

rising above the horizon, a twisted bridge up to the sun

their legs entangled, fingers mingling in a clasp, voices silent,

because they think they can understand each other better in the quiet, but

one thinks i want to die and the other i want to live together forever.

Grace Tran lives in Portland, Oregon. She has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and was a 2017/2018 national winner of the American High School Poets “Just Poetry” quarterly contest. In 2014, she and two other partners were the runner-ups to the Scholastic Kids are Authors contest and in 2015, she and another group were the fiction grand prize winner, receiving publication of their children’s book, Masterpiece.




In a packed playground

you spot the black sheep,

grazing on the edge

of their games.

Oh they’ll let him in

if he’ll be It.

Then a different kind

of loneliness sets in.


They never tire of teasing,

wring him dry,

toss him high

as a prayer book,

laugh at his leaves

as they fall and die.


A father remembers

this bitter play

as he counts

imaginary sheep

in nights as white

as memory, reaches

but fails to catch

those elusive drops

of sleep.

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.


Sun Bathing

warm watermelons
bathe beneath the thirsty sun—
a sudden shower
drenches wilted vines and leaves
that pop up like umbrellas

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a poet, writer, and editor who taught in community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. Recent work has appeared in the Lyric, Glass: Facets of Poetry, Halcyon Days, Page & Spine, and Rockvale Review.

Life lessons from my dog


Greet each morning like a welcome surprise

Meet each family member as if they were bringing joy

to my world

Delight in what I have to eat, in the freedom to walk\

and if confined to old paths

sniff out something interesting each day

If it’s sunny stretch out in a patch of sunlight

If it’s dark find a space near the fireplace

and sleep

Yawn and stretch when it suits me 

Be happy for a pat on the back and a soft word

Don’t give a thought to yesterday

or tomorrow

Give love

and it will come back

Maryalicia Post’s first long-form poem won the Gerard Manley Hopkins International Poetry Competition and was subsequently published as a book, After You, by Souvenir Press UK. Her five-line tanka and six-line cherita appear in online and print journals. Other work has been published by Ogham Stone and Poetry Quarterly. She is a travel writer based in Dublin, Ireland.


Nostalgia in Future Tense


Facebook killed

the high school reunion

the goals we had – things we planned

to prove to past selves

like my 5 years to sell a book, buy

a dress like Romy and Michelle

and look like hot shit


I taught a class and no one had ever

made a mix CD , not one single

teenager / so I told a story of how I

broke up with a boyfriend by making him

a mix CD / let songs illegally downloaded from

Napster give him the message—

the memory of it is untrue, but maybe it happened

maybe I wanted it to


I fall asleep to a comfort movie every night

one from a past decade / one that reminds me of

VHS tapes, the smell / plastic / fragile / a time

when something could disappear in an instant

would die in an instant

and yet, that is what makes it comforting – a

sickness: Nostalgia / future selves / parallel and

defined by junior proms, over-plucked eyebrows, the

boy that never asked me out, the boy that did


There’s a reason, there’s a reason, stored somewhere

in the cloud, perhaps / I’ll never know why or how regret

feels, but I think it’s more like razor burn :

the first time I shaved my legs in 4th grade, I just wanted to

belong and carved a scar into my shin four inches

lengthwise / all I remember are all those bloody rags

and how angry my mom was at me when she thought

I had gotten my period

Born and raised in Southern California, Erica Hoffmeister earned her MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing from Chapman University’s dual degree program in 2015. She has both fiction and poetry published or forthcoming in FreezeRay, Flash Fiction Magazine, So To Speak, Rag Queen Periodical, Rat’s Ass Review, and Literary Mama, among others. She was also a runner-up for the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize in 2016, and received an honorable mention for the Lorian Hemingway Award for Short Fiction in 2014. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and daughter, Scout Séverine.


Reversal of Misfortune 


Run me backwards to catch my drift

Read me from right to left 

I precede myself in time and space 

Am not on standard dials


I am the thunder before the lightning

The bite before the bark

The crashing tree before the axe

The scream before the pain


I am the flying golf ball before the 'fore!'

The bleeding before the cut

The burial before the slaughter

The echo before the sound


I am shell-shock  before the combat

The scar before the surgery

The indigestion before the meal

The effect before the cause


I am the prayer for forgiveness before the sin

The damage before the warning

The nightmare before the Holocaust 

By the time you hear me, it's already too late.

Evie Groch, Ed.D. has long been in the field of education, and although she is still active in it, her focus now also encompasses writing in several genres: poems, memoirs, short stories, and editorials. She has been published in the SF Chronicle, The Contra Costa Times, The Journal, MarketPlace, J Weekly, Games Magazine, Under the Fable, Grand Circle Dispatches, Grand Circle Travel, Three Line Poetry, The Skinny Poem Journal, I am Not a Silent Poet, The Gathering 13, and Between the Fault Lines.


I Saw a Sea

I saw a sea from a rock
I nudged it and it was deep
I saw a sea from a rock
I nudged it and it fell asleep

I saw a sea, a wonderful sea
It was spread far and wide
I saw a sea, a wonderful sea
It sank not with the tide

I saw a sea the colour of tea
Fill up the world like a flood
I saw a sea the color of tea
Fill up the world with my blood

I saw my dry veins, gasping and hoarse
Singing its praises in glee
I saw my dry veins, gasping and hoarse
Singing as merrily as merrily can be

I saw the bright dawnsun drowning
In the dreams of my sleeping sea
I saw the bright dawnsun drowning
In the screams of my sleeping sea

Hibah Shabkhez from the half-yo literary tradition is an erratic language-learning enthusiast, a teacher of French as a foreign language and a happily eccentric blogger from Lahore, Pakistan. Studying life, languages and literature from a comparative perspective across linguistic and cultural boundaries holds a particular fascination for her.


Winter’s Edge


Drained of all color,

stark and frozen,

the air is still.

The world,



No birds, jubilant, sing.

No insects hungrily buzz.

Nothing stalks the empty trails.


Muffled and distant

trees pop and crack under the strain

of the burning cold.


Those that slumber,


in the space between dreams,

disembodied, wait.


For warmth and light,

and unseen sign.

For springs return

signaling life to begin



Kirk Eckstine lives and works in northern Minnesota. An aspiring writer, poet, film maker he works hard to make manifest the visions in his mind and heart. Like many Minnesotans, he works hard and spends time with his family and enjoys spending time outdoors.


Truth from a cliff face


The man would sit, feet dangling

Eyes focused on the cliff, opposite

His precarious perch, over a steep

Ground dropping off suddenly, into

The wooded valley below, on sunsets

Tinged with orange hues---darker or lighter

In patches, up there, in the sky, a skein of

Multiple colours.


The man would be buffeted by the wind,

Some said that came up from the gorge

Below, while others claimed it to be coming

Down from the hills at the back, few miles away.



Does it matter? Its origins or destinations?


The thrill was great!

The way strong-armed wind flew, whistling

And tousling his grey hair, his weak heart

Missing a beat, as if paragliding the air

And the valley that constantly, during the day,

Hummed with drilling machines and sound of dumpsters.

The man would sit there, feet dangling, eyes focused.

Not afraid of the heights or the drop downwards.

In that desolate spot---away from the loud tourists,

He would wait for the craggy cliff to speak the truth.

The man abandoned by family now settled elsewhere

But embraced by wild nature,

The cliff whispering songs tender

Once sung by his own mother in a poor

Indian village.

Sunil Sharma is Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with 19 published books: six collections of poetry; two of short fiction; one novel; a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award 2012. He edits the English section of the monthly bilingual journal Setu published from Pittsburgh, USA.


Ketchup and Pressed Duck


We are drawn back in adult life to scenes of childhood unhappiness.

The playwright takes his wives to Cornwall to see where he had spent the blitz.

The novelist picks at his wartime memories like a scab.

Was childhood a source of such ever-lasting pain?

I wonder.


I remember hiding in the gigantic tractor tires at the nearby

Firestone warehouse. Or scrounging for tossed paper cups

beneath the grandstands at Tobey Park. We washed them out

in the public restrooms like good little boys. The smell

of fresh urine made us work fast.


Pinter is said to have had a “Lord of the Flies” childhood

surrounded by cruel children. The ones I grew up with

could have been cast in “Platoon,” sadists killing babies in Vietnam.

Those guys could have come from my neighborhood

in Memphis, each and every last one of them.


They’d put a cigarette out in your eye. The neighborhood boys feared

the opposite sex as much as they despised the opposite race. We were

black or white in those days. The only Mexican restaurant was 50 miles

away. We stayed to ourselves. It’s hard to say, but if black

I’d have stayed off the streets on our side of town.


We were not driven from our homes by Allied or Axis strafing. There may been

bombings but not over Memphis. This was the 1960s; it was still

the Great Depression, prolonged by a father who missed it.

We used to sit with the lights out to save electricity and ketchup bottles

were tipped to catch the very last drop.


I stole quarters from my mother’s purse and did a lot of lying.

Our father’s fake poverty was an act he’d perfected. He missed being deprived and

wanted us to experience it. We were cut off in a period of unprecedented

affluence. We were locked in the basement during the masked balls upstairs, a bit

of Cinderella in 1969. “Don’t you dare take a bite. That’s for our guests.”


We hid in our rooms. A family friend might wander in and catch us

with our pants down. She grasps her pearls and lets out a cry. We

hide ‘til morning and find hundreds of cocktail glasses in the sink

and the refrigerator door wide open. My parents slept all day and we

went to the neighbors when we got hungry.


But as phony as this baloney was, I’m not sure that it made me

unhappy. We watched “I Love Lucy” and stole Beatles cards from

McCrory's.  The starship Enterprise was there on the horizon and so

was “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” When I look back now, I’d say,

it wasn’t so bad. I might even say we never had it so good.

David Lohrey is from Memphis. He graduated from UC Berkeley. His plays have been produced in Switzerland, Croatia, and Lithuania. Several are published online at ProPlay. Internationally, his poetry can be found in Otoliths, Tuck Magazine, and Southword Journal. In the US, recent poems have appeared in New Orleans Review, FRiGG, Obsidian, and Apogee Journal. His fiction can be read in OJAL, Dodging the Rain, and Literally Stories. David’s newest collection of poetry was published last year by Sudden Denouement Publications.

Heaven through a door too far


Meeting runs on,                 hot juicy hamburgers
if running
is the right word                         shoe shopping
nothing in this room
can be considered    
hurried.                             mani, pedi

Every set of eyes
has darted at least once 
towards door, propped tantalizingly                fresh cool sheets
          flirty and so accessible
yet so far away in time                moist, chocolate cake
if not distance.

Excuses                     driving, top down
to leave imagined
   abandoned                                                  mocha frappuccino
texts sent under table begging
   for phone calls
                rescue.      shorts, tank top

Each moment brings sounds         Imagine Dragons cranked up
     laughter from hallway
possible delights 
        fellow employees                     bright sunlight
waving as they leave for lunch.

All eyes turn to speaker
     unaware                             fried chicken
his death is being planned

Michelle Hartman’s latest book is, The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory, from Old Seventy Creek Press. The first poetic look at child abuse and its effects on adult life. Along with her poetry books, Irony and Irreverence and Disenchanted and Disgruntled, from Lamar University Press, Lost Journal is available on Amazon. She is the editor of Red River Review. Hartman holds a BS degree in political Science, Pre-Law from Texas Wesleyan University and a Paralegal cert. from Tarrant County College.


Come closer my lady

Bow your dainty head


Do not be afraid

It is I your friend

There is no need to feed you

You stalk the unsuspecting

Ambush your prey

Impale your victim, eat

Move on to feast again

Be gone Grasshoppers

Mosquitoes Caterpillars

Rid my garden of annoying pests

So powerful so precise

You are voracious

Yet mates be forewarned

Act quickly

You may lose your head

For a brief second

of bliss.

Nancy is a published writer and poet who lives on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, where she can be found either shoveling snow, picking up pine cones, or shaking out sand.




Rain washes the sorrow,

From her cheeks.

Nourishes the roots,

That holds her strength,

Quenches the thirst,

From where,

Desires burn,

Cools like an ointment,

The sting of life.


Gnarled bark,

Twisted by fate,

Held her in the hollow,

Of your heart.

Your wound; Ancient as rust,

Drew her beneath your bough,

When –

Weariness weighed her,


Rebecca M. DeLore began writing songs, poetry, and fiction at age 9. She recently retired as a Protective Service Investigator with the Department of Human Services. She has an MS degree from Western Oregon University and Oregon State University. She obtained her BS degree from the University of Oregon and lives in rural Oregon as an emerging, creative writer.


Spring Haiku


Spring fell from robin’s

egg-blue, prosy-gold & warm;

sharp taste of snowflakes.

Sharmon Gazaway’s poems have appeared in Time of Singing Journal, and one of her poems was a finalist in the 2017 Stephen DiBiase Poetry Contest. She won first place in a ByLine short story contest, and sold a short story to The Storyteller Magazine; but poetry is her first voice. She lives at the foot of a mountain in north GA and is currently at work on a poetry chapbook and a novel.

Falling in Love / Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Floating Piers


To walk on water

for the short term – this scroll.

Floating, but not. Billowing and then no.

Like the earthquake’s tremor from afar

or the swinging bridge or waver of wings into air.

And not always saffron or tangerine, but yellow, amber.

Hammered gold. And red of the heart. See it early morning

and again at midday and again at dusk and understand

how context matters. How what each and every photographer

ever said about light is true. Extend your eye out over the water 

and have it confirmed by more than just this – this buoyed path 

that no longer exists.

Kelly R. Samuels lives and works as an adjunct English instructor in the upper Midwest. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net, and has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including The Summerset Review, Kestrel, The Carolina Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Construction, and Common Ground Review.




first sip                         of sorrow:

one more                     breath

four more                     burials

countless                     tears


a dream                       lost      

four lives                      ended


an impact                     of reality:

a fate                            cruel   

a thief                           cunning

and embrace                cold



L. Oetting is an avid reader, poet, and enthusiastic theatre actress who currently resides in the South Eastern United States with her family and her lovable (but slightly goofy) Siberian Husky. She is the editor of her school's literary magazine, The Roundtable, and has written several articles for her school newspaper, The Knightly News. In her spare time she enjoys painting murals on her bedroom walls and creating chalk art.


Silence Is Golden


They say silence is Golden, 

I believe it to true,

Because in that Golden silence, 

my thoughts occur of you.


You are the flame in my candle 

that lights the darkness of my room,

You are the scented flowers 

that makes my heart full bloom.


You are the butterflies 

that flicker in my stomach all day long,

When I know I will be holding you 

before my day is done.


You are the stars that shimmer and shine, 

You light up the skies above

In this Golden silence 

it's truly you I love.


You are the thunder of the night, 

your lightning strikes whenever,

Into my soul that makes me whole, 

and excites my heart forever.


You are my paradise, my oceans wide, 

My mountains standing tall,

So in this Golden Silence 

I love you most of all.


I Could


I could dream of you forever,

But it wouldn’t put me beside you. 

I could call your name on end,

But you’ll never hear me. 

I could ask a million questions,

But I’ll never get the answer I want.

I could write a hundred poems,

But you would still never understand. 

I could have said it before it was time to leave,

But I said it in a little note.

I could try to forget what I feel,

But I’ve pushed too much out already.

I could lie to myself,

But lying exhausts the soul.

I could give up on you, 

But too much of me still loves you.

Reena Choudhary, from India, is the mother of a six-year-old son. She does her best to shape him into a good human being. She adores writing.


As men go off to war


The times are torn asunder, as men go of to war. Some return, while others are return, but none return as before, for war touches and its grasp is never released. Those scenes left on the battlefield do not remain there, instead they return with the returning men to haunt and scar forever. Life does not go on and remains harder to continue as before. Too many are the silent moments that draw the minds, forcing the return to that darkest of all times. Unknown men plan atrocious acts upon other unknown men, each in their effort to claim victorship, for neither side can accept defeat.


These men that blindly follow these men who blindly lead, have all been inoculated with the false serum of the justice of war. Neither is wrong, this is the fallacy of conflict. Both foes consider themselves friends to the demands of the discharging of honor. There is honor in defending ideology, and promised rewards for what is considered by each side as “right.” The word demands such sacrifice, and the shout of honor often demands the concealment of truth.

The field of battle has few rules, but speaks a language too often called death, but remains the only place where all men are offered a hidden equality.

Having been writing for 40 years, John Collins is attempting to organize his collections from slips of paper, notes and notebooks into an organized body. He is retired from Pharmacy work and part time teacher. He has never published or submitted until recently.



I’m just going to write.

For the joy of it.

For the love of seeing the printed word

On the page

In a whirlwind of sensitivity

Welling up from the heart and soul

Bubbling up onto the surface of my mind

Creating its own weather.


Words will always be inadequate: so what?

I won’t always hit on the perfect word-images,

Convey the exact shade of blue or mood of my soul.

What is important is the Music of the writing, the duet of thoughts and soul.

This soul-music, stringing and soloing,

Sweet serenading of my personhood,

My particular place in the universe.

It is awesome. I am awesome. We are awesome.

With ink on paper, I dance my Amen.

Theresa M. Wallace has a Master’s degree in English Literature from Carleton University and a degree in Education from the University of Ottawa. Her first book, Under a Fairy Moon was the winner of the 2012 Gelett Burgess Award for Children’s books (Fantasy.) She also won the Canadian Christian Writing Award for Young Adult Fiction in the same year. The sequel to her award-winning novel, Wintergarden, was published by Brownridge Publishing in 2015.


Bleachers at Clearwater


If we were teenagers in an American

movie, living in a hot state,

we would watch the school football

game together, arms wrapped in arms,

wait until everyone else has gone home

and kiss in the bleachers until the

sprinklers come on. We would kick off

our shoes and run through the spray -

me squealing, sandals dangling from my

fingers. You would pick me up and run

to the goal line, putting me down there

before I get up and run again, chasing me,

grabbing me and tickling me once we fall

on the grass, both of us flushed red

from exertion, from the sun.

Sam Rose is a writer and editor from Northamptonshire, England. She is the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and The Creative Truth. Her work has appeared in Scarlet Leaf Review, Poetry Pacific, Haiku Journal, and others.


about him


The thing about wanting some one is this

that you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

and when you say yes and they say yes

they may be saying no inside

while every thing inside you is yes

and you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

and when you say that they are beautiful

you cannot say that out loud because

what if they don't think that of you

and you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

when they are alone at night and lonely

you can never know if they are lonely

you only know your arms are empty

and you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

when they hear a certain song

or smell cologne hanging on a coat

walking by them on the stage

and you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

when they drive by a place

connected to their presence and work

and boredom and love and passion

and you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

and your passions may be nothing to them

your passion may be nothing to them

your passion may be nothing to them

and you can never be too sure

if they think about you at all

if they miss you at all

if they knew you at all

Elizabeth Reames is a writer, poet, playwright, and student located in southeast Michigan. She attends Concordia University Ann Arbor, and is working to start a poetry club there. She has had her poetry published in such magazines as The Peacock Journal and Concordia University's arts journal, In the Moment. One of her sonnets was used in the annual PoetryLeaves Exhibition in Waterford Township, MI. She has a short story forthcoming from Betty Fedora Magazine. She is currently looking for a home for her first chapbook, Anatomy: A Reckoning.




A magician 

Can surely tell no lie. 

The trickery 

Of the grand performance 

Was no spoken alibi,  

And the illusion twas not a scheme,  

Nor of simpler things,  

and a dark bird flew free  

From it’s final cry. 

A magician 

Can surely tell no lie. 

A theater of deception 

Whose moment came to an end, 


George Lee Grimsley is an award winning writer, poet and screenwriter. He has been published twice and has also competed in the 2017 Austin Film festival for short screenplay. His interests and hobbies include writing, music, watching movies, and fishing.


A Bridge to Solace


Under the bleak stone arches I hide

Footsteps tramp above

Racing past, toward the distant chariot’s triumphant entrance

Alone, I cower in the darkness

Where the rambling river rushes past,

Smoothing rough edges of the river rocks


If only the water could cleanse my soul

Soothe it, free it from stains

Alas, the fear to change, to seek the light, immobilizes me

Trembling, my sweat fuses with the damp, moldy walls

I choke on the smell of rotting detritus

The rank stench of death


I long to join the land of the living

The joyful jubilation resonating above

But as voices in exultation sing, I remain,

Hiding. Thirsting for the courage

To escape

Under the bridge

A poet and writer, Colleen Driscoll resides in West Virginia with her family. Find more about her:



Dedicated to those that are suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s


I remember your face but not your name

I remember my childhood friends and

How I loved

I cry to remember who I am ……

I know somewhere deep inside of me

Is great knowledge

But I can’t remember what to do right now

I remember when I was young but

I can’t remember where I am

To remember the past is all I know,

To know the now is gone.

Judith Johnston is a Special Education teacher and sees the struggles that special needs children go through to be accepted because they know they are somehow different. New to the literature world, she has fallen in love with writing. Mother of four amazing children and a grandmother to nine adorable cuties, she loves hiking, biking and running.


And Fall


The future

is gonna be

alright ’cuz

millions of years

from now

next week

despite our



are alright.


happy enough

not overly discouraged

despite the


Go further


rather than


Randal Rogers, 56, is the editor of the online and quarterly hardcopy, The Beatnik Cowboy. A former international Sociology professor he now teaches at Oglala Lakota College, the Rapid City, South Dakota, branch. He is also a taxi driver. His book of poems, Cambodian Poems is available at the local Mitzies Bookstore.




Working 3 days/week for the decade

before retirement = zen of poverty.

Here in post-employmentland

post-acquiescence, post-resignation:

contentment plus modest pension.

Obligations jettisoned off the jetty

into rivers, lakes, smelly canal,

rubbish bins when nobody about.

Hide-bound book of by-laws placed

gently in a bin lest any child adopt it

then trace it back to me.


Considered a tree to live in, small island

to live on while the world brakes, accelerates

and queues for the sales – up to 90% off –

but found myself in the Eden of an aging

1-bedroom flat with gently running water.

Fruit? There for the taking,

no charge, no check-out.

After a nomadic lifestyle, Allan Lake now calls Melbourne home. He also often retreats to Sicily. He has published two collections; Tasmanian Tiger Breaks Silence (1988) ; Sand in the Sole (2014). He has won the Elwood Poetry Prize 2015 and Lost Tower Publications(UK) Poetry Comp 2017. He is widely published, namely in USA, UK, Italy, India, Canada and New Zealand.


Fortress of Flowers 


The mothers of the world march in fierce processions.

We wrap ourselves in shawls of purple and turquoise

and carry candles, roses, and babies.

We melt church gold and steel bullets.

We build a fortress to shelter bruised children.


We draw warm baths and prepare delicious soups

stuffed with tomatoes, corn, beans, a bit of chile.

We fill our fortress with lullabies –

the children begin to sing.

We paint walls magenta and bright orange.

Ravens etch stars on the ceilings.


Bougainvilleas and marigolds

grow from our hearts.

Our tears weave silver vines

to protect this garden of souls.

Angie Minkin is an experienced poet who happily lives in a blue bubble in San Francisco. She enjoys finding her emerging voice in poetry, with yoga and dance her everyday passion.


Little time to grow


Like sparrows

Keen to peck

Long awaiting sunrise

Snow pouring instead

And ambition



Amidst corners of


Truculence firmly


Unbeknownst to incompetence 

Ace counterparts


And an unctuous layer


Torrents of heavy courage slow

My reality’s unreal excuse

Taking more 

Than my own little time

To grow

Sudha Srivatsan was born and raised in India. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Commonline Journal, Tower Journal, the Germ Magazine, Carcinogenic, Indiana Voice Journal, Bewildering Stories, Leaves of Ink, Mused Literary Review, Subterranean Blue, Corner Club press, BlazeVox, MadSwirl, BurningWord, The Stray Branch, inbetweenhangovers among others. Her works have been translated into French and were also selected to be part of Storm Cycle’s 2015 Best Of anthology.


Letting Go


Argent moons and golden suns

Had set and risen on far horizons,

And I had still not let go of you.


Life had sent me tributaries of gifts

New landscapes raising the swells

In the rivers of my life’s abundance,

And I had still not let go of you.


Gods had raged over my blindness,

Threatening my ingratitude with grief,

And I had still not let go of you.


Then our life paths crossed anew,

Placing before me a stranger with

Cold embers in his eyes and heart,

And I let go of you with a sigh of defeat.   

Jana Vasilj-Begovic has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning tales, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. As a teenager, she wrote maudlin love poetry, and as a young mother a collection of fables. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina but has lived in Canada since 1991. Among her publications are an academic article published by Cambridge Scholars, UK and her novel Poisonous Whispers published by Roane Publishing.


Beneath the Moon and Ropes


Cut the twine into tiny pieces

And splice it back

Into living strands –


The demands of simplicity

Tie the measuring knots

To the ebb and flow

Of slack-water glow shimmering

Beneath the moon and ropes

When the blue midnight swallows

The dark depths of empty oceans

Caught full of want

Where ghost-ship memories

Float against sinking

Seeking mooring lines

To secure themselves

Against forgetting

The drifting piers.

Ben White put all his limitations into a bucket, mixed them up, and poured them out to see if they would swirl into poetry. They didn’t. They just stained the floor with testimony.




All are some, some are few

They are left right black white 

gay straight trans love and gender hate

Believing atheist science creationist

Minority cop legal immigrant

borders distant wall this instant

Nations war rich poor

Back alley Wall Street

mansions wingtips homeless shoeless feet

urban suburb farm GMO

lobbyist anarchist CEO

pro-life pro-choice

pro-gun gun control school kids’ voice

Bible belt Hollywood

#metoo “women should”

No one sees the other side

behind world view walls they hide

Must see they are the front and back

of a chaotic sphere of progression attack

Humanity advances.

Layne Ihde is a writer and musician who lives in Nashville, TN. He creates all manner of stories including poems, songs, sci fi and fantasy short stories, literary short stories and children's books. His first children's book is being published Fall 2018.



Her name is moonlight

Emerging from the dark,

I rest my mind on her lights

As I grab my pillow tight,

I let her accompany my night

Antish Parmessur is a word lover. A talented guitar and football player, he is from Mauritius.


Not Kerouac


Dear Jack,


I never understood why my kids call you that.

A more appropriate name would be Mickey

and a better place for you to scamper about would have been Disney.

Yet it seems, 

you chose to leave Times Square and travel all the way out here to Queens.

Why this humble abode, little man?

Is it because it's located above a West Indian fruit & vegetable stand?

Were you seeking refuge upstairs from the owner's cat downstairs,

and in the midst of being gripped by fear 

you ran onto the glue trap of which you usually stay clear?


This morning I woke up to hear the cries of an impending demise,

you refusing, to go gently into that big cheese wedge in the sky.

My friend, by now, you should be able to tell:

This won’t end well. For you, 

I should have empathy because I know what it’s like 

fighting that fight—struggling to break free.

It sucks testes when life puts the fate of our situation

in the hands of someone else’s decision-making.

Man, I feel for you. (You probably feel that offers no consolation.)

And you’re thinking, if he truly had compassion,

he would’ve caught me with a catch-and-release contraption.

But I didn’t…and now you're stuck with me.

That's a poor choice of words, considering you are literally stuck.

Figuratively speaking, you are droppings out of luck.


And so it goes… I do not pretend to be saddened.

I plotted, premeditated and prayed for this to happen.

It is done.

Condolences to Minnie on the loss of her son.

On a Sunday, he was laid to rest.

(At the funeral, Aretha sang “The House That Jack Built”

at the family’s request.)

M. A. Dennis is a spoken word poet, St. John’s University classically-trained journalist, and a contemporary haikuist, who is published in The New York Times book, New York City Haiku. He is also a former Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Finalist, and a member of the National Writers Union; he is a columnist for the NWU’s online newsletter and co-hosts their monthly open mic at the Muhlenberg NY Public Library. Dennis is an avid phonetographer, who enjoys advocating for marginalized and vunerable populations. He is also the father of triplets (1 girl, 2 boys), and is currently writing three books at once in his new Wu-Tang Clan Island apartment.


Mysterious Moon


With powers almost magical,

mistress of the sea,

you cast your spell on earth-bound lovers

and stir the blood of space-bound brothers.

The heaven’s night Cyclopic eye,

sent by the Gods on us to spy?

you are, at times, so fickle, shy...

At others: like a teasing, novice stripper

you veil yourself in gauzy clouds,

revealing tantalizing glimpses

until curiosity is aroused.

And then you show yourself, so full, so proud,

so certain of your future,

unlike the trembling, earth-bound crowd. 


I do hope they arrive, unjumbled!

Joy Lennick, an experienced poet, has been widely published, winning several literary prizes. She is very active in helping young writers to step into creative writing too.




The love of





Symbols of an idea



On Paper

Of images only formed in the mind



Unconscious thoughts

Imaginary scenarios



Characters invented in the imagination

God-like achievement

Donnell Creppel is from the New Orleans area and is a retired 911 Dispatcher, as well as writer and poet. Her most recent publications include a short story in the Foliate Oak Review and a poem accepted for the online series titled For This I Am Thankful. Since 2013, Donnell has been involved in charity work for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder for childhood cancer research.


Asking the Universe for the Golden 


Pure liquid streaming from

golden ages

to golden moments

as it always did and always will do.

For we know in the end, all is one,



yet seemingly perverse, unruly.


I reach out

for golden eggs, unbroken,

and perfectly formed.

Their glow touches my eyes and my lips


like faked kisses.

Janet Cameron has an MA in Modern Poetry and has been published in Acumen, Equinox, Logos (Open University) Connections and a few other lit mags. Mostly she has earned her living writing on history and philosophy as well as teaching, but now retired, she wants to devote herself to her first love - and try to be as good a poet as she can.


Love in summer


Summer sun is on the top of the house

that is made of dry straw to make it cool,

the wife of the peasant is in deep muse

how her beloved is toiling for all!


She leaves for the field preparing his food

taking cold water in the earthen jar,

serves food with love to him under a shed,

whispers, “please take rest, oh my dear.”


The life of the poor farmer is simple

having no big ambition or great hope,

still their lives with family are peaceful

which is, for the rich people, out of scope.


Love is not dependent on wealth at all

it is a treasure of even poor and small.

Sandip Saha is a chemical engineer and PhD in metallurgical engineering from India. He has published one book of collection of poems, Quest for Freedom, available at He is published in several poetry magazines. He is a life member of The Poetry Society (India).


A Leaf


A single leaf

sits atop the dirt

beneath a pine tree.

It doesn’t belong to this tree,

blown here from some neighboring forest,

it’s traveled on the wind

coming to rest in unfamiliar territory.


It is not afraid.

No longer attached to its nurturing branch,

its days are numbered.

From youthful green, it now displays

its orange fire crispness to the world.

After its colorful moment in the light,

its crumbling dust will mingle once more

with the sky.


Forest to forest,

green to orange to dust.

Such is the life of a leaf.

Such am I…

Howard Gershkowitz, 61, living in Arizona since 1981, decided at 55 to get serious about poetry. He started taking classes through Maricopa Community Colleges and the ASU/Piper Creative Writing Center. Already widely published, his first novel, The Operator, is under contract for publication in the first quarter of 2018 by All Things That Matter publishing house.


Looking for Oranges


  1. That day

Nothing went okay


I remember YOU searching for oranges…

I believe there were two of them,

or three. YOU forgot them.

Somewhere else.


YOU dared ask me about them

Which struck me later since

I never recovered after that stranger.


That was the day when everything went wrong for good.

I used to think that I would, if only I could

Repair the damage done. Just a gesture

Which was savagely misunderstood.


  1. Oranges.

He was after the oranges, never after you

He kept them on his mind, never was there you.



Scraper. Terror. Errors and depressors.


It’s not about self-esteem -

I just die to learn, why did I let a stranger in?

While breathing rust and consuming horror, Alexandrina Barajin came to translate a few bipollar crises into words. Debuting soon in Soft Cartel and hunting words for the Looking for Oranges? book.




Alone in the shop she dances —

so many crisp blue arms to choose

so many fine wool suits to hold her

cashmere sweaters wrap her in drifting

warmth, she closes her eyes

sinks into their dreams

sways gently among all their hands

each reaching for his own turn,

dancing softly

careful not to crease this morning’s pressing.

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


Daisies Along a Trail


Come, take a stroll along

the brick-paved winding path

where bright yellow daisies

line the side like spectators

on a parade route. See them

standing among the greenery

nodding their heads, smiling faces

glowing in sunshine. Let it warm you.

Smell the flower garden freshness.

Don’t hurry, linger and watch  

for honeybees to buzz to the blooms

and load their legs with pollen

to haul back to their hive for their

Rumpelstiltskin magic to spin honey.

Let the golden petals touch you

and pretend you’re shaking hands

with old friends after a long absence.

Wesley Sims has published one chapbook of poetry, When Night Comes, Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky, 2013. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, G.W. Review, The South Carolina Review, Liquid Imagination, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, and others. He enjoys camping and gardening.


Me and You


I work in silence, with my eyes closed,

in a cool purple hued breeze

a time for sleeping flowers, just before the dawn.

I work with whispers and stillness,

With long afternoons and even later nights

in spaces that cast long shadows.

I work with time so much like the wind-

sometimes rough, sometimes short.


But you,

You work with the bright morning sun.

And at noon, when nothing casts a shadow.

You work with your digits and dashes

With straight lines in open spaces,

meandering only to off-set a closed door

but only after banging on it first.

For you time begins and ends.

And flowers only exist when they yawn wide.

Maya Bhalla is a visual artist, living and working in Singapore. When she is not hands deep in clay or paint, she can be found at the local Kopitiam reading; and because the hours of the day are never enough, it is the writing that happens in the blackest times of the night.


New Faces


I had an idea 

for making love to the same woman 

less boring

I would put a screen over their face

and you could pick anybody you wanted

I wouldn't pick a supermodel though

I would go for the lowest dirtiest slut

I could think off

loads of makeup


the lower the better

I have never found a woman 

low enough yet

but there is still time

Marc Carver has published some ten collections of poetry and has had over two thousand poems posted on the net but his worst fear is having to go into a room filled with poets and listen to their poems.




I am a brick wall

 splattered with angry voices

that yearn to be heard.

I’d like to be a sail

  cheeks full of wind

   blowing over the Caribbean.

This is always a bad sign.

What starts as the itch of discontent

leads to an epidemic of desire.

Maybe I’ll crawl into bed

with the book of poems

 my cousin just sent me,

to learn how she handles

 life with its trapdoors,

 though for her,

  frail and bald,

  that’s superfluous.

All she wants is the chance

     to speak what’s in her heart.

Hope Andersen is a poet, novelist and screenwriter. She loves playing with images and words. From North Carolina, she lives with her husband, three children, two dogs, one cat, and a fish.


Plains Beauty


A yellow-headed blackbird sits on a stem of wheat;

white-striped pronghorns dance, prance, and leap.


A prairie-dog whistles across the northern plain;​

a canyon is awash in color after a morning rain.


Sunflowers turn their brown faces toward the sun;

a Great Blue Heron gulps its catch after a river run.


Alfalfa grows in

sloped coulees;

hay litters a golden field.


Sweet corn is high the wheat is rye;

Edamame are ready to yield.


Red sandstone is a-fire beneath an orange sunset;

muskrat baby suns itself after getting wet.

A salt-box barn decays with charm;

the ​pine-wood weathered and bent.

Gone is the sun;

another day done, out on the Great Northern Plains.

Deanie Roman is an award-winning novelist, poet, and connoisseur of cappuccino.

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