Poets of the Week

January 30 – February 5, 2023: Poetry from Michael Estabrook and Jonathan Hayes

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Michael Estabrook

Michael Estabrook’s most recent collection is Controlling Chaos: A Hybrid Poem (Atmosphere Press, 2022). Retired now writing more poems and working more outside, he just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it which explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks. He lives in Acton, Massachusetts. Visit Michael on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Michael Estabrook and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Give or Take

. . . don’t waste time worrying
about what you can’t change
or fix she tells me all the damn time . . .

The fancy-pants astrophysicist
with the big glasses and crazy hair explains
in logical scientific detail
that in 5 billion years (give or take)
our Milky Way Galaxy will collide
with our neighbor the so much larger
Andromeda Galaxy and be torn apart.

Oh no! I think and begin to worry
but abruptly realize – 5 billion years, seriously!
Even I can’t be that stupid to worry
about something 5 billion years down the road
I tell myself as I see the Devil
in his corner shaking his head not
having to say anything for a change.

Jonathan Hayes

Jonathan Hayes lives along the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, California with his wife and their cat. He is the editor / publisher of the long-running literary journal Over the Transom. His chapbook, Purposeful Accident, was released by Holy&intoxicated Publications, England, 2022.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Jonathan Hayes and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

New Year’s 2023, Santa Cruz

Like the Thom Gunn poem

Blues for the New Year, 1997

An atmospheric river
On December 31st
Over the Bay

A Pineapple Express

While an actual pineapple
From Safeway sits
On our kitchen counter

Craving hot noodles in a Tenderloin café

We lay
On the mattress
Disheveled w/ sheets and blankets

Along w/ the cat
Who knows:

There are no birds, today

W/ no electricity
We burn our candles

Until, the refrigerator
Randomly announces w/
A sudden “hum”

That the power is back on

And the peaceful stillness of silence, gone

January 23-29, 2023: Poetry from Patricia Carragon and Mark Henderson

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Patricia Carragon

Patricia Carragon’s most recent publications include Arriving at a Shoreline Anthology (great weather for MEDIA, 2022), Bear Creek Haiku, Beat Generation Anthology 2022, Clockwise Cat, I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Jazz Musician, Moonstone Press, Out Loud, an LGBTQA Literary Arts Anthology (Red or Green Books), The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow anthology, When Women Speak Poetry Anthology, Vol. 1, et al. Her debut novel, Angel Fire, is from Alien Buddha Press. Her books from Poets Wear Prada are Meowku and The Cupcake Chronicles., and Innocence from Finishing Line Press. She hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Patricia Carragon and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Birth of the Blues

(inspired by Frank Sinatra)

Every time it rains, the blues
are born—even when it’s sunny.
Rain isn’t limited to the weather—
there are days when our clouds
can’t hold back how we feel.
The blues travel down our cheeks,
say things that shouldn’t be said,
do things that shouldn’t be done,
opt for a place to be alone.
The blues are what they are
because they are born from our blues.
The blues seek solace amid rainbows—
we pick up our horns, play tunes
for rain-washed trees.

Mark Henderson

Mark Henderson teaches English at Tuskegee University. He earned his Ph. D. at Auburn University with concentrations in American literature and psychoanalytic theory. He has poems published or forthcoming in Cozy Cat Press, From Whispers to Roars, Defenestrationism.net, Bombfire, Former People, Neologism, Broad River Review, Rune Bear, Flora Fiction, Flare, Visitant, Blood Tree Literature, The Closed Eye Open, Last Stanza Poetry Journal, Burningword, Better Than Starbucks, The Racket Journal, Torrid Literature Journal, Sunspot Lit, Writer’s Digest, W-Poesis, and Red Ogre Review. He was born and raised in Monroe, Louisiana, and currently resides in Auburn, Alabama.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Mark Henderson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Viral Meningitis

My brain started swelling
before I was a year.
My parents had told me
to stop crying, so I did.
Breathing too.

Mom swears I flatlined.
Then again, she’s Catholic,
and may have wanted
a resurrection.

She says my father,
nonreligious, couldn’t
stop praying. The doctors
pumped my head full of drugs.

Grandpa couldn’t sleep.
I was the only one
of thirty-something grandkids
he’d ever get to see
(heart attack, months later),
boasting my recovery:
“Like a brick shithouse!”

Dying would explain a lot;
there might have been something
more conventional there,
something that had to leave,
replaced by something else.

 

Hide and Seek

Home for the holidays.
…………I’ve been away some years.

I don’t look in the windows
……………………of places I’ve been

or lift lids off of boxes
……………………in which I have hid—

for both, out of fear
…………I might still be in there.

January 16-22, 2023: Poetry from Martin Gottlieb Cohen and Ron Riekki with Sharmila Voorakkara

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

martin gottlieb cohen

martin gottlieb cohen was born in the South Bronx somewhere on Simpson Street, went to a Yeshiva on Manhattan’s East Broadway and Canal Street, and then lived in the South of Brooklyn, the South of Long Island, The Southern Tier of Upstate New York, The South of Manhattan, and finally South Jersey in Egg Harbor.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by martin gottlieb cohen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

tanka

Chickadee
how I love you
upright

on a snow-covered acorn
the cold of this wildness

Ron Riekki and Sharmila Voorakkara

These are collaborative poems written between:
 
Ron Riekki’s books include Blood/Not Blood Then the Gates (Middle West Press, poetry), My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press, hybrid), Posttraumatic (Hoot ‘n’ Waddle, nonfiction), and U.P. (Ghost Road Press, fiction).  Right now, he is listening to Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. Visit Ron on the web here.
 
Sharmila Voorakkara received her MFA from the University of Virginia. Her first collection of poems, Fire Wheel, was published by the University of Akron Press.  She lives in Austin, Texas.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Ron Riekki and Sharmila Voorakkara and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

[When I worked security,]

When I worked security, I didn’t work
security.  It was more like a keel-hauling,
a hell-calling, a heal-killing, a headhunting,
an endless hurricane of emptyhanded hitch-
hiking . . . When I worked the long bank of
phones selling time shares, I prayed that I’d get
a night of ring outs, of nobody home, people who

wouldn’t let me into their lives, wouldn’t let me
listen in on the quiet of the kitchen walls, the sink,
the basket of delicates set on the washing machine,
that I wouldn’t drop in to Topeka, have some guy tell
me about his daughter who went missing; someone would
always mistake me for a psychic, or a loved one. I’m not loved—
what—are you kidding me? Not at this wage . . . When I worked

in the military, it was more like a tribunal, a hollowed-out first aid
kit, a howl, a towel-thrown-in, a strangulation, an I-quit-but-can’t.
A piss-filled rant. A crippled giant. I’m disabled and defiant. I’m
ignorant. I’m ex-enlisted and bent. They took ¼ of my body that now
lies on a slant on this floored mattress in an abandoned building where
I can barely pay rent. My roommate made a joke about jobs and blow jobs,
………………………………………………………………………..but I can’t remember how it went.

 

The Sober Boat

translated by Ron Riekki
from the original poem by Sharmila Voorakkara,
written in Tamil
(or vice versa)

The drunken boat tries to sober up, but it fails, so it gets more drunk.
It also gets more boat.  The uncle tries to sober up by drinking more.
The day tries to sober up, but it fails, so it gets more drunk too.
It also gets more day.  And it hates going to work.  It hates

every morning.  The birdcall ties my hands like a hostage.
The caged bird is dead.  Now you’re a man and so they say
it is OK to kill you during war.  And there is always a war.
You can’t say this.  It’s the Trespassing signs that are trespassing.

 

I Want You to Remember This Poem Forever (and Then You Can Forget It)

there are different things, for me to wear,
folded neatly on a chair.  There are things I have to hear.

I hate the heat, and they set it out for me on the table.  Here, put this on
she says. And she doesn’t explain how I’m supposed to wear it, or what I’m supposed

to kill.  I hate bus stops and busses and stopping.  My grandfather says, “All of the prisons
are filled with men, so make sure that you hide any fury you have, or sadness,

because it is a crime to have an emotion in this country” and then he
is killed at an explosion in the mines and they find two of his fingers,

bring them to my grandmother on a napkin the color of the north and
she picks them up and places them in her mouth like fangs.

January 9-15, 2023: Poetry from Joan Leotta and S.F. Wright

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Joan Leotta

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, and strong women. Widely published, including on Poetry Super Highway and Haikuniverse. A member of the NC Poetry Society, Sisters in Crime, Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Tar Heel Tellers, she writes in several genres. Leotta is a 2021 and a 2022 Pushcart nominee and was a 2022 runner-up in Robert Frost Competition. Her new chapbook, Feathers on Stone, is out from Main Street Rag. Her earlier book is Languid Lusciousness with Lemon.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Joan Leotta and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Soundtrack for a Solitary Walk

A morning breeze whips out from
behind a nearby loblolly pine, to
rustle loosen a pinecone that
bounces, then rolls
along the path in front of e
until a squirrel’s paws
captures it with a ch ch ch at me
in case I intended to claim his prize.

Rounding the curve toward home,
mist now’s dispersed by smiling sun.
I step onto my porch.
I know voices, and the sound
and aroma of brewing coffee
wait for me on the other side
of the door, away from the woods.

I stop a moment,
not sure if I am ready
to leave woods’ walking music.
Then I hear my beloved call my name.
I open the door and go inside

S.F. Wright

S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry, and his website is sfwrightwriter.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by S.F. Wright and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Marty

He was in my
Creative writing class:
A big guy
Who donned
Safari hats,
An army jacket,
Cargo pants,
Doc Martens.
A meaty face
With an expression perpetually of
Consternation
And worry,
As though he knew that
Everyone was doomed.
In between classes,
He’d puff on
Marlboros outside.

A classmate said
That Marty had
Spent eight years
In the army,
Which would make sense,
As he looked around 30.

As for his writing—
None of it was good,
But one story
Was truly, terribly
Unforgettable:

A disgruntled
Army vet named Micky
Attends college
And tries to steer
His life in a
New direction.
But his plans are thwarted
By aliens who have,
For some reason,
Black eyes.
Micky, adept at self-defense,
Is able at first
To fight them off,
But the aliens
Are too powerful;
And though they let
Micky’s family go,
They take Micky
Into a garage
And rape him.
“Ahhhh!” Micky cries,
During the
Only dialogue.
“Ahhh, you son of a bitch!”

“Very compelling,” I wrote.
“Held my interest.
Certainly didn’t see
That ending coming.”
In class,
Most people were silent;
A few made positive
Yet vague comments
About the pace,
Originality;
Yet no one mentioned,
Even alluded to,
The alien rape.
The entire time,
Marty sat there, silent,
With that same look of
Consternation and worry—
Only it was
More intense,
More troubled.

I saw him
A few times on campus
The following semester;
Always smoking,
Always appearing
Agitated;
But after that semester,
I stopped seeing him;
And shortly thereafter,
I graduated.

January 2-8, 2023: Poetry from Wendy Videlock and Ron Kolm

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Wendy Videlock

Wendy Videlock lives on the edge of a canyon on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies. Her poems and essays appear in Poetry, O Magazine, Best American Poetry, Ted Kooser’s ALP, Hudson Review, The New York Times, Rattle, Hopkins Review, and other venues. Her books are available from Able Muse and EXOT Books. Wendy is also a visual artist, whose paintings feature in galleries throughout western Colorado.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Wendy Videlock and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Disarmed

I should be diligent and firm,
I know I should, and frowning, too;
again you’ve failed to clean your room.
Not only that, the evidence
of midnight theft is in your bed —
cracked peanut shells and m&m’s
are crumbled where you rest your head,
and just above, the windowsill
is crowded with a green giraffe
(who’s peering through your telescope),
some dominoes, and half a glass
of orange juice. You hungry child,

how could I be uncharmed by this,
your secret world, your happy mess ?

 

Mantis

Today I saw a praying mantis
in the grass.
I thought it strange the way her face
was turned toward mine.
I rose, and moved to her other side.
A moment passed,
and then, yes, she turned her head:
those eyes again,

that heart-shaped face. Today I wore
a white sweater
with small buttons the color of butter.

I know the summer
is being swallowed, bit by bright
green bit. And yet,
I found it strange, the way her face
turned toward mine,
as though I were accomplice to
vanished lovers,
unblue skies, frozen lakes, or fate.

Ron Kolm

Ron Kolm is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin. Ron is the author of Divine Comedy, Suburban Ambush, Night Shift, A Change in the Weather, Welcome to the Barbecue and Swimming in the Shallow End. He’s had work in And Then, The Café Review, Gathering of the Tribes, Great Weather for Media, Maintenant, Live Mag!, Local Knowledge, NYC From the Inside, The Opiate, the Poets of Queens anthology, Public Illumination Magazine, The Red Wheelbarrow, the Riverside Poets Anthology, The Silver Tongued Devil anthology, Sparring With Beatnik Ghosts Omnibus and the Brownstone Poets anthologies. Ron’s papers were purchased by the New York University Library.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Ron Kolm and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Hooked on Junk Food

Me and my teenage friends
Run through the neighborhood
McDonald’s, swiping food
From startled customers’ trays.
We speed across the street
Fleeing sirens
And try to hide on a pier
Behind stacks of broken cars
But the cops finally figure out
Where we are,
So we jump onto a garbage scow
That’s pulling away from the dock
And wave at them
From our prison on the sea.

 

A Poetry Reading in Bushwick

A darkening sky gives warning
Hurrying me down
From the elevated subway platform
To the streets below.
A quiet neighborhood doesn’t mean
That it’s safe. A car slows
And the driver glares at me
Then accelerates and leaves
With a screech of tires.
Frightened, I duck into the building
Where the reading has already started.
The participants are very touchy feely
But they are also pretty good poets
So I exhale, and decide to stay.

December 26, 2022 – January 1, 2023: Poetry from Eileen P. Kennedy and David Leo Sirois

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Eileen P. Kennedy

Eileen P. Kennedy is a binational author of two collections of poetry: Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015), which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won Second Prize in Poetry from the Wordwrite Book Awards, and Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021) which Literary Titan has described as “a collection of emotionally-charged poetry that explores life with observant poems that will appeal to anyone who loves inspired poetry.” and was a finalist in the International Book Awards in General Poetry.  She lives in Amherst, MA with the ghost of Emily Dickinson. More at EileenPKennedy.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Eileen P. Kennedy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

A Paddle into Childhood

she propels the Golfo Dulce
during the winter eon
the split-second Sunday churches
on hymn-text rhythm
of second-soprano melodies
“Happy Mother, Virgin blest*”
reproduces a lizard without sperm
watch the sunlight in late afternoon
ripen the juice of the blueberry
or remember a line from childhood
the cold air hurts her hands
and ushers in the ghost spectacle
of her father feeding the pot-bellied stove
barrenness of the prophesies
makes waves on the water
& flaps the sheets of the spirit
of a tiny daughter sleep breathing
in and out the fervor of the coal
between the space of dark and advent
the first poem enters
sculling its way back home

*from “Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary” Traditional

David Leo Sirois

David Leo Sirois is a Canadian-American poet published 140 times, in 23 countries, translated into 12 languages (such as Hindi, French, Greek, & Spanish). He hosts the Zoom continuation of SpokenWord Paris. First collection: Humbledoves (poems to pigeons & plants). He won Third Prize in Winning Writers’ Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, & his poetry has appeared in journals such as The Bombay Review, Paris Lit Up, & One Hand Clapping.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by David Leo Sirois and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

From Words Heard or Seen in Dreams  

“I ran like sunshine, 
so bright it almost  
became my name.” 
 

 
“The chains that constrain us 
are made of words, not metal.” 
 

“She felt the brush 
of creativity
within her grip.”
 
*
 
“The Poetry Pigeon 
wishes
more fans & friends await.”
 
*
 
“The sunset
is a best-selling book.”


 
“There is one thing more beautiful 
than your own joy, 
& that is human kindness.” 


 
“Mapping the politics of Never” 
 

 
“I wonder how you think 
your parents think.” 
 

 
“Play attention. 
If I play attention, 
I might finish the game.” 

December 19-25, 2022: Poetry from Bridget Magee and David Dephy

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Bridget Magee

Bridget Magee is an American expat who writes, teaches, and lives in central Switzerland where she is continually finding her voice, both in English and rudimentary German. She edited the poetry anthology 10.10 Celebrating 10. in 10 Different Ways. Visit Bridget on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Bridget Magee and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

My 1,401,120-minute Streak Broken

for 2 years
7 months
29 days
I was negative

my negative thoughts
led me to trust science
rolling up my sleeve
four separate times

my negative behaviors
of being aloof and distant –
hiding my smile in plain sight
encouraging and ensuring
negativity around me

then after 139 weeks
30 October 2022
my fortuity failed me

turns out that three transmittable
(unbeknownst to anyone at the time)
interactions in two closed rooms
over the course of three hours
in one day
can push the odds a little too far

three days later
on the one test I repeatedly
aced with my negativity,
two lines shining through
the plastic stick’s window
announced my first positive result
in 973 days

for one week
I percolated in my positivity
my sore throat tickle soothed with hot tea
my sneezes dosed with vitamin C
my mucus mopped up during a movie
an afternoon nap to not feel woozy

I basically had a mild cold

then on day 7
I returned to my negative status
the clock reset

for 8 days
16 hours
42 minutes
and counting…
I am negative

but I will forever remain positive
in my original negative thoughts…

David Dephy

David Dephy — A Georgian/American award-winning poet and novelist. The founder of Poetry Orchestra and an author of full-length poetry work Eastern Star (Adelaide Books, NYC, 2020) and A Double Meaning, also full-length poetry work with co-author Joshua Corwin. (Adelaide Books, NYC, 2022) The 1st place winner of THE ARTISTS FORUM Poetry Award in New York 2021. He is named as Literature Luminary by Bowery Poetry, Stellar Poet by Voices of Poetry, Incomparable Poet by Statorec, Brilliant Grace by Headline Poetry & Press and Extremely Unique Poetic Voice by Cultural Daily. Visit David on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by David Dephy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

D Train

D train, moves from Brooklyn to Manhattan
and back, there is always something to be made
of loneliness, it’s obvious you feel the same,
we hear the strange sound of heartbeat— music,
you hear the same sound, of the same heartbeat,
and maybe someone turns out pain in every sound
of train? They kept your smile while the D train

rushed over and over, taking us along, between
those golden shadows all around, solitude unites,
it breaks free, hear me, please, hear me out from
this noise, it is heroic to survive as breath buried
in the claustrophobic darkness, take a D train, baby,
wherever you go take a deep breath, the way is long,
moving to the garden we all go through the desert, first.

Flowers in the Dark by Mark Saba

Mark Saba’s third book of poetry, Flowers in the Dark, is now available from Kelsay Books or on Amazon.

In writer Mark Saba’s poetry collection, Flowers in the Dark, rich evocative poems depict landscapes of the heart, home, and time travels. A keen observer who respects the Earth, Saba has crossed life’s shadows and underscores what matters. He muses on his roots in the Allegheny foothills of Pittsburgh, traditions of grandparents from the Old World, and the plight of today’s immigrants. Weaving in exquisite metaphors and vivid scenes that appeal to all the senses, Saba recalls the power of pulsating clouds, blush peonies on a home altar, and creaking trees. Many thought-provoking poems end on notes of upbeat resignation. Lessons learned during a lifelong storm, he now values the essence of words, an object’s roots. In this timeless book, Saba brilliantly captures quotidian happenings that have evolved into treasured milestones.

—Amy Barone, poet and author of Defying Extinction and We Became Summer

December 12-18, 2022: Poetry from Martin Gottlieb Cohen and C.W. Bigelow

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Martin Gottlieb Cohen

Martin Gottlieb Cohen was born in the South Bronx somewhere on Simpson Street, went to a Yeshiva on East Broadway and Canal Street, and then lived in the South of Brooklyn, the South of Long Island, The Southern Tier of Upstate New York, The South of Manhattan, and finally South Jersey in Egg Harbor.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Martin Gottlieb Cohen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

within the stillness rat’s ripples

~

between the stars
pond’s smell

~

moored boats
the smell of the sea
within me

~

remembering…
the smell after the rain
Bucha

C.W. Bigelow

After receiving his B.A. in English from Colorado State University, C.W. Bigelow lived in nine northern states, before moving south to the Charlotte, NC area. He is the author of the poetry collection Fractured Reflections. His fiction and poetry have appeared most recently in Midway Journal, The Blue Mountain Review, Glassworks, Blood & Bourbon, The Courtship of Winds, Poetry Super Highway, Good Works Review, Backchannels, The Saturday Evening Post, New Plains Review, DASH, and Blue Lake Review, Short Story Town, INK Babies, Flash Fiction Magazine, Hare’s Paw, The Write Launch, Hole in the Head Review, Last Leaves Magazine, and Drunk Monkeys, with a story forthcoming in Moss Piglet.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by C.W. Bigelow and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Airport Observations

Vapid stares from cataracts-covered eyeballs
floating in thick rouge-painted wrinkles.

Teetering on wobbly legs while
a haze fights with flirting moments of lucidity.

Anguished adult children command invisible leashes
with angry scowls at those whose lives left quality behind.

You are gathered in a plastic box,
having stubbornly raged into the storm –

valiantly deciding to avoid the sliding staircase,
stealing my ticket to the wrinkled marionette show.

Now I wander on a fruitless quest
to fill the vacuum left by your premature departure.

December 5-11, 2022: Poetry from Tom Pennacchini and Natalie Cortez-Klossner

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Tom Pennacchini

Tom Pennacchini is a flaneur living in NYC. He has had stuff published at The Free Poet, Mojave Heart Review, Jalmurra, The Scarlet Leaf, Poems for All, Free Lit Magazine, Backchannels, Loud Coffee Press, Mason Street Journal, Portsmouth Poetry, the Fictional Cafe and KGB Lit Journal.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Tom Pennacchini and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Winged Ones

Bustling old fella dashing biddly bop by dressed to the nines
with briefcase stuffed under his arm equipped with fixed maniacal grin jabbering to himself while confirming his expressions
to an equally jazzed and jaunty westie he calls Ralph trailing exuberantly behind
let’s me know
that there are actually still some living beings out there
to learn from

Natalie Cortez-Klossner

Natalie Cortez-Klossner is a poet and writer. She was born in Lima, Peru and grew up mostly in the D.C. suburbs, but is currently living in Chicago where she’s a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Natalie Cortez-Klossner and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Américan

When the foot marks
left on snow
no longer fear the sun

I’ll translate the air of the americas
store it in a mini glass bottle
& chain it to my necklace

When the Redwoods
out west
no longer fear lightning

I’ll shape-shift into the sparrow
an invasive species with the
hunger to roam as the others once did

When the sand castles
built on the beach
no longer fear incoming waves

I’ll draw in English, accepting
I’m already at sea for it’s not the
sign of the perpetrator or victim within

When the names
traced on the bark
no longer fear the ax

I’ll witness my fence crying
as I celebrate the changes
of soil & winds

When the stream
on the edge of the mound
no longer fears the landslide

I’ll wash away man-made lines
by cultural erosion, lines
that aren’t mine, aren’t yours & will never be

November 28 – December 4, 2022: Poetry from Randi Israelow and Gregory Davis

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Randi Israelow

Randi Israelow has been an active poet in the Los Angeles area since 2008. She is a regular listener and reader at The Cobalt Poets weekly virtual reading, and she is currently writing a book of story poems. Her first book, Little Movies, was published in 2016. 

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Randi Israelow and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Hey Zester Inventor, I’m Kissing You Now!

I don’t know who invented the kitchen tool
the zester
but I could kiss you right now
zester inventor!
so come on over here
and sit on my lap
and let me plant a big wet one
smack daberooney right onto your lips
so you can taste
how much more delicious
my lemony pancakes are this morning
because of all those
luscious tiny bits
added to the scratch mix
from lemon rubbing against zester
yeah
come on over here
and let me kiss you right now
with all this flavor
zester inventor
oh but first
oh yeah
first
please
please
please
shave

Gregory Davis

Gregory Davis is 69 years old. He has been writing for six years. He is seven years retired from a major aluminum producer. He has been married for forty-nine years to the love of his life, Laurie.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Gregory Davis and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Blue Collar Blues

Heat stink, sweat stink, metal stink.
Aluminum in evolution.
1000 degree ingots,
seven tons of dull gray danger.
Feel as if they would melt your face off.
My job, callow kid.
All of nineteen.
Forktruck em outside.
Their mephitic stench a garbage dump zephyr.
Blowing back on me.


World War Two vets,
Hard union guys.
Tobacco juice staining their broken-fence smiles.
Some okay,
others mean-ass.
Givin the new guy the hard eye.
Daring you to fuck with them.
Me, armed with dad’s beer breath advice.
“Keep your eyes and ears open
and your goddamned mouth shut.”
Booze in their lockers.
Pint a night men
operating dangerous equipment
with liver-spotted hands.
Potentially fatal drunken fumblings
during the Stygian hours of graveyard shift.

Overhead cranes screech by,
steel wheels on steel rails.
Giant, angry birds.
Their eighty-five decibel sirens
fracture the body’s seven trillion nerve endings.


Punch out. Tip a few. Get a buzz.
White noise to soften stony edges.
Plug the jukebox.
Johnny Cash to drown out Little Fred.
Hunkered down in the corner, sloppy drunk.
Barstool been glued to his ass for decades.
Wife and kids done left.
Got nuthin going for him
cept boooze and toil.
Braying a broken record whine and bitch.
Same sad tune
over and over.

November 21-27, 2022: Poetry from Cameron Morse and Brandon Hansen

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Cameron Morse

Cameron Morse (he, him) is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His book of unrhymed sonnets, Sonnetizer, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City-Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife and three children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Cameron Morse and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Swing

The delicate landing
of a leaf of all life on Earth is
slight and precarious

the delighted laughter of my
swinging daughter in the pull-up
with the hood slipping off

her amber head in boisterous
October wind and sun
on the only green planet in sight.

My hand has only a second to flip
the fallen hood back
over her forehead before she throws

it off again gravity laughing
and time the tinkle of the painted chain
that carries her up and down.

Brandon Hansen

Brandon Hansen is from a village in northern Wisconsin. He studied writing along Lake Superior, and then trekked out to the mountains, where he earned his MFA as a Truman Capote scholar at the University of Montana. His work has been Pushcart nominated, and can be found in The Baltimore Review, Quarterly West, Puerto Del Sol, and elsewhere.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Brandon Hansen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

In Montana a Gray Cat Sprints Two Blocks Down the Street

and into my apartment as if he’d always known me.
The door was only open long enough
to water my single cosmo, which never did flower
with the wildfire smoke that hazed
the sun orange like a bad pizza. 

I was on my own
for the first time in my life when Mardy
blurred past by my legs, Mardy who I named
for the song in my ears when he jumped on my desk
and tried to eat a candle.
Mardy Bum, which means
“moody guy,” which means for months
through smoke Mardy bounded
down the street and found his way to me –
sometimes he figure-eighted my legs and
chirped like a chickadee until I held him like a child,

but sometimes he’d have the face on, sometimes
he’d snap the jumbo-stuffed Temptations from my hand
and be out the door. On the porch, he’d give me a single blink.
The distant green his eyes are. How familiar. He’d turn
them from me and it’s like he flipped the channel,
every time I wanna say hey, I was watching that.

Bobbed tail down the road, black-splashed
smokey coat, Mardy smells like cinnamon.
He belongs to someone who smells like cinnamon. 

Like the breath of a friend back home, like the bread I baked that rose
when I used her recipe. There are days
Mardy can’t be arsed to turn from neighbor’s chickens
or a pinecone on a roll, days I forget to crack the door for him
at noon, days I miss my cinnamon friend and days, I think,
Mardy wishes his didn’t kick him out the door so soon.

But we find each other. They say the world is on fire,
but until I’m ashes I’ll remember Mardy, our cuddles
in the kitchen just to get things off the ground,
the round
of him on my unmade bed or a sweatshirt tossed
on the floor at day’s end. Glum times I lay next to him,
he opens those eyes and paws my lips as if to say
I think you’ll live, you bum. 

November 14-20, 2022: Poetry from Hanoch Guy and Howie Good

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Hanoch Guy

Hanoch Guy, Ph.D., Ed.D., spent his childhood and youth in Israel surrounded by citrus orchards, watermelon fields and invading sand dunes. He is a bilingual poet in Hebrew and English. Hanoch is emeritus professor of Jewish and Hebrew literature at Temple University. He  mentored and taught poetry  at the Musehouse center in Philadelphia. Hanoch has published poetry extensively in the US, Greece, Israel and the UK in Genre, Poetry Newsletter, Tracks, the International Journal of Genocide Studies, Poetry Motel, Visions International, and Voices Israel. He has won awards for Poetica and Mad Poets Society and Phila.poets, and Better than Starbuck haiku. He is the author of ten poetry collections. His eleventh poetry book was published by Kelsay  books.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Hanoch Guy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Don’t make trouble

Start walking early.
Brown waves already wrap.
Traffic noises are deafening.
Wear earplugs.
Go through streets full of shouting vendors.
Buy at least one dripping fat cheese steak.
Dress as a pirate, as an alien.
Give the preacher on the corner
the good beating he expects.
Be generous with blessings
on the great river banks.

Rally for non-violence.
Fall into an open pit.
Practice cursing in a foreign language.
Count the words loudly in a conversation.
No smoking sign: light a cigar.
Buy a ticket to New Jersey.
Get off on the first stop.
Demand a refund.

Walk into a parking lot,
Ask for the rate for parking yourself for a night.
Insist on staying for free.
Collect tolls on a tiny country bridge.
Roll down the street nude.
Go on a march for strange poets’ rights.
Paint a police station pink.

Remember: bad credit happens to good people.
Order a pizza, demonstrate against junk food.
Wear a watch showing New Zealand time.
Go into the IRS office
and keep asking why?

Send an email to all your representatives
declaring your house a tax exempt haven.
Hire a boat, insist the boat man
light a candle at your head,
let you float downstream

Play the mandolin badly at a funeral home.
Don’t get tempted by a two-for-one offer.
Jump in an open rainbow parachute
with purple straps.

Always treat everyone, including yourself,
as if they are going to die by midnight.
Invest in a solid future.
Donate your body to plastination.
 
Don’t make trouble.

Howie Good

Howie Good’s latest poetry book is The Horse Were Beautiful (2022), available from Grey Book Press. Redhawk Publications is publishing his collection, Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems, later this year.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Howie Good and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Rumored Whereabouts

There was nothing I could do. I was under a car, sheltering from the debris raining down, bricks and glass and chunks of concrete. Right then I resolved to henceforth be like the unruly drunks you read about who are unaffected when tasered by a cop – even when tasered again and again. In the meantime, the boat in the nearby slip was on fire. Smoke engulfed my head. I swear I could hear a phone bot saying, “All our representatives are resisting other customers at this time.”

&

The EMT in the ambulance with me had mint green hair. She was trying frantically to undo some knots in the IV tubing. A little voice in my head said, “What have you learned, and whom have you helped?” The LSD I’d taken earlier was lasting longer than expected. It was as if I’d stepped through my eyelids. But the potato chip really did look like Elvis.

&

A man in Warrenton, Missouri, posted a video of himself licking deodorant sticks at the Walmart and asking, “Who’s a coward now?” I was like yes, yes, yes, I want to do that. I only very rarely experience such sudden enthusiasms. And whose fault is that? Not mine, not when the Wampanoag, the tribe that helped the Pilgrims survive their first winter in Plymouth, still regret it 400 years later.

November 7-13, 2022: Poetry from Brian Builta and Ruth Chad

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Brian Builta

Brian Builta lives in Arlington, Texas, and works at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. His work has been recently published or is forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, Juke Joint Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, New Ohio Review and TriQuarterly.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Brian Builta and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

My Life as a Duck

Naked and handcuffed to the brothel
Chris didn’t make a great candidate.
Strange brothers we fill our faith with.

When I woke up toilet-papered with a starfish
duct-taped to my left hand, business
seemed like a silly major.

Cyril attended mass that morning.
I kept mopping the dining room floor
with dirty astronaut pisstube water.

What I loved about Ernest was how a fifth
of Wild Turkey made him four-fifths happy.
Someone had to live simple as a stone.

Of course he died after he was fired.
We spent weeks burning cedar in a barrel.
Juniper smoke seemed important in the dark.

When they threw me through the plate glass window
it did not feel like a breakthrough.
Ernest said Tiger Balm would heal everything.

When the stripper sat down to cry,
leaning her sweaty head on my shoulder,
I knew it was time to head north again.

Ruth Chad

Ruth Chad is a psychologist who lives and works in the Boston area.  Her poems have appeared in the Aurorean, Bagels with the Bards, Connection, Psychoanalytic Couple and Family Institute of New England, Constellations, Ibbetson Street, Montreal Poems, Muddy River Poetry Review, Lily Poetry Review, Amethyst Poetry Review and several others. Her chapbook, The Sound of Angels was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2017. Ruth was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2021.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Ruth Chad and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

On Rio Grande Beach After My Mother’s Death

We are tilting into the wind
my shadow and my mother’s merged

Driftwood petrified     gleaming white
in withering light

A lightning crab
dead on the sand

A deposit of whelk
picked through by ibis

What am I searching for?
My mother is in me

I raise my voice to the wind
I can speak     but she can’t hear


~


The crimson-lipped leaves
of a sea grape     opening into briny morning

My mother’s glow
in the sheen of an iridescent shell

A red salamander     bright black spots lining its back
would have made my mother laugh

We are tilting into the wind
my shadow and my mother’s merged

A long stick of bamboo     rotting
wound around with foam and kelp

The molted skin
of a snake

A sea star     dead
yet the flesh seems so alive

 

My mother’s smile in the curve
of a clam’s mouth

We are tilting into the wind
my shadow lengthening     my mother’s     gone

October 31 – November 6, 2022: Poetry from Robin Dake and Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Robin Dake

Robin is a mother, daughter, friend, writer, and photographer. She has spent her career working as a journalist or non-profit manager while writing essays and poems on the side. Her work has appeared in This I Believe radio program and in Trailway News magazine She lives in N.E. Georgia with two hoodlum cats and one patient dog.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Robin Dake and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

One Suitcase

What do you pack in your one suitcase
When the bear is at the door
And your future sits in fog?
Do you pack your favorite sweatpants
Alongside your hopes and dreams for your children?
Do you slide some treasured photos
In between your fears and muffled anger?
Do you take a jacket and extra socks
To complement the unknown days ahead?
Do you pocket your cash wondering how much courage costs?
I look around my quiet room and try to imagine
The choices of a mother with the same brown eyes as me,
As she shuts the door behind her
And walks out among the screaming bombs
Carrying a life in one suitcase.

Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich

Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich teaches creative writing at Westchester Community College, author of 6 poetry manuscripts including “Breaking Out of the Cocoon,” “Peripeteia,” “How You Get to There” and “Dear Blue Harp Strumming Sky” Her poems and fiction appear in Phantom Drift Literary, Support Ukraine Anthology, Kairos Literary, Artemis and elsewhere. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College & was a 2016 fellow at Marthas Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Visit her on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Last Thoughts While Waiting in the Bread Line During Putin’s War

for Jimmy Hill & the people gunned down by Russian Military snipers

A crust of bread light like a feather,
Floating in silence. I stand in silence
Waiting to bring cold, pasty dough to my lips.
I image fumbling it between my fingers
Like a football. My face evicts this darkness—
The city of Chernihiv is infested with squatters
& sounds of glass shattering underneath blown-out windows.
Highway M18 is blocked off
By Russian soldiers driving our souls
Underground into dim light of small crowded rooms.
The sky is covered by an eerie silence—
Unspeakable hush after an air raid.
Breaths warm in the daylight’s shadow genuflecting,
Under the nebula sun, & the film I keep playing
Saying I love you Ira, & the memory—
Of sex of a man & sex of a woman
& a baby sucking the breast of its’ mother
Broke through gunfire smoke in the wind—
A galactic light wave pulsating relief into the mind.
Fractured pain grasped like a blood clot silencing flesh—
An oppressor’s language tracing the imagination of time.
I need it to speak outside of my adopted country—
Mutter words of empathy & kindness,
Enter the stage of retribution—
The way a spider weaves its’ web to catch flies to feed the world.

October 24-30, 2022: Poetry from Contest Winners B. J. Buckley, Jan Harris and Ashley Cline

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

B. J. Buckley

B. J. Buckley won first place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She has worked in Arts in Schools/Communities programs throughout the west and midwest for over 45 years. She conducts residencies and workshops in schools, libraries, senior centers, homeless shelters, museums, at conferences, with writing groups and book clubs, and with special needs adults and children. Her poems address the stark and dangerous beauty of the west, its animals, plants, weather, geology and geography, as well as the lives of the people who choose it as home.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by B. J. Buckley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Hagendorfer’s Garage

Weeds breaking through black asphalt underneath the dirty snow. Rust,
wood shavings, a mess of scrap and stacks of rotting tires, decaying cardboard
boxes, Valvoline and Shell Oil, red-white-and-blue, red/yellow, the mock-tile
aluminum facade with its smart green stripe, windows miraculously intact
and caked in dust, gas pumps alien in their shapes, avatars of another century,
air hose as empty as the shed skin of a snake. Hag was a wiry man,
short from a childhood starved of dinners though not of kindness. He’d replace
your windshield wipers free, tsk like an old woman over burned-out headlights,
broken turn signals, radiators low on coolant, motors drinking oil the way
the old Basque sheepherders went through whiskey. He never charged
for anything save labor, engine parts, and gas, loved us when we left
the car doors open so his crippled dog could gimp up into the back seat
in the shade and sleep. Made coffee that could peel paint. We drank it
black and he loved us for that, too, for not hurrying, for the fancy cigarettes
we brought him out from town. He had a wife once. She died. We had
unworthy boyfriends who we loved too much, and he helped us whip up
courage to cut the rope and cut our losses. Sometimes his radio got
a signal and we danced to whatever music crackled through the ether,
skinny girls in too tight Levis and a bent old man, and we laughed,
promised him if we ever got married he could give us away. You gals
too smart for that, he’d tell us. Time for you to git on down the road.

Jan Harris

Jan Harris won second place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She lives in Nottingham-shire, United Kingdom and writes poetry, flash fiction and short stories. Her work has appeared online at Ink Sweat and Tears and Visual Verse, and in publications such as Mslexia, 14 Magazine, and Envoi. She received second prize in the Earlyworks Press 2015 Web Poetry Competition.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Jan Harris and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

We eat oranges and talk about the nature of truth

I tell you that the orange has the perfect name,
an O to show its shape,
the zing of colour when you think the word.

But you – ever the entomologist – remind me,
if you could see through a honeybee’s eyes
it would look yellowy-green.

You score the zest with a knife –
release the citrus scent of Christmas,
satsumas tucked in stocking toes.

You’re so… traditional, you say, laughing.
I wonder if you’re thinking, old-fashioned,
predictable, maybe even boring.

To you, it smells of our holiday in Seville,
orange blossom in every street and square.
How we swept home at dawn, petals in our hair.

You cup the orange in your palm,
separate each segment tenderly
as lips might open for a kiss.

I slice my fruit in half and find a sunburst inside,
the radiance of your smile,
a wheel speeding away with us.

Ashley Cline

Ashley Cline (she/her) won third place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. An avid introvert, full-time carbon-based life-form and pop music scholar, she crash-landed in south Jersey some time ago and still calls that strange land home. A Best of the Net 2020 finalist, her poetry has appeared in 404 Ink, Okay Donkey, and Parentheses Journal—among others—and her debut chapbook, & watch how easily the jaw sings of god, is available now (Glass Poetry Press, 2021). Once, in the summer of 2019, she crowd-surfed an inflatable sword to Carly Rae Jepsen, and her best at all-you-can-eat sushi is 5 rolls in 11 minutes. Twitter: @the_Cline. Instagram: @clineclinecline.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Ashley Cline and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

mast years, or i am once again wishing we could be trees

it has been recorded that, deep in wild & ancient forests, tree stumps go on living, despite whatever violence cut them down in the first place. it seems that, on occasion, neighboring & nearby trees will nourish their felled friends, feeding them sugars & other nutrients through their root systems. this kindness can go on for centuries.


i am learning how to be soft / i take my cues from supernovas, thread my mouth
with velvet & pine sap / it is winter—& the radio plays something sweet & slow

& i am reminded / that there is earth that hasn’t known your touch; hasn’t known
the way you turn history over with your tongue / hasn’t known that—i should like

to be made beautiful; to be dressed in snow goose down / & quiet stillness, in some-
thing tied up in holy furs / what must it be like to bend beneath a new weight like

stubborn shelter / to be wed in summer’s clothing—& naked come the fall? i have
been told that it is better to be content / than happy & most days, i believe this to be

true / because the way to want is simply an unhinging of your jaw & breathing your
name inside of a throat / like a glass jar sweet with jam; it’s as simple as decorating

your delicate hands with / something like pinecones & morning &—it’s simple, you
say, when you can no longer grow as tall / or when your spine cannot stretch any

farther, i will spend my days describing the sky to you / every star & shade of blue
&—it is winter, & i am learning how to be soft / when i walk, i do not see the trees;

i do not see the forest / i see only you.

October 17-23 2022: Poetry from Andrew M. Bowen and Thérèse Naccarato

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Andrew M. Bowen

Andrew M. Bowen has published three short stories and about 130 poems. He is also an actor and was a journalist for about 20 years.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Andrew M. Bowen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Tanka 116

The daffodils’ bright
buds have halfway reached bloom, but
beneath the rain their
yellow heads droop like bridesmaids
sad to attend a wedding.

Thérèse Naccarato

Thérèse Naccarato is a writer currently residing in Ontario, Canada. When she isn’t typing furiously into her notes app, you can find her ranting about literature, going on walks, and coming up with new recipes in the kitchen. Follow her on Instagram @theresevsbooks or Twitter @thenaccarato.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Thérèse Naccarato and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Driver’s ED

Woke up early. Cocoa Pebbles for breakfast.
They have them in Canada now and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

Mom goes to Michigan because my grandfather is dying.
I stay home and study the Ontario Driver’s Handbook.
Grandpa pulls the doctor close and tells her that he’s run his race. I never really knew him but I know exactly what he means because there isn’t a moment where I don’t feel like I’m running away from something.

I had a dream last night where I got my driver’s license.
I could go anywhere I wanted but I went back to Michigan. My tires whirled down I-75, screeching through those two sharp turns.
Ocean Vuong once wrote that a country is a life sentence.
I can still see America’s horizon from my backyard. It really is that close.
I wonder if the Yorkshire Terrier my grandma had when I was ten ever missed me after she ran away.
I wonder if she knew that no matter how fast she ran, she could never truly leave.

October 10-16, 2022: Poetry from Peehu Singh and Shai Afsai

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Peehu Singh

Peehu is a POC, nonbinary and queer poet who lives on the intersectionality of mental health(or lack thereof) expresses their identity through their poetry. They believe poetry can be just as much of a narrative medium as anything else.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Peehu Singh and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Girl(Please Interrupt Me)

M doesn’t like to go on dates. But she wants to watch the stars with me.
On our first night. She brings me tea.
She’s giggling like she knows everything.
I’m twirling around the world. I’m in her music box.
I’m always keyed for her.
I ask her if she laced my drink. She smiles as the conspirator to my theory.
I’m lacing things like the ends of Victorian dresses. Everything needs an end.
Why don’t you like going on dates. I ask her. Her back is in my face. I could do this forever.
You must lace things for them to make sense.
We’ve never existed. Grand scheme of things she says. I can spend my time in love. But you’re worthless. Dates need dates need dates. She starts laughing.
We’re both high.
Of course, we are going to be okay sweetheart,
I could never regret you.
Next morning. The comedown is always hard. But she’s been harder since. I’ve learnt to bear with it
M doesn’t like to go on dates. Dates need dates need dates. I ripped up my calendars for her. I’ve been loving her like the dirt on her favourite shoes that she never washes.
My head splits itself open. I’m giving birth to wisdom. No. I’m tearing it away from myself so I can be with her.
On our last night together.
She brings me tea and she’s giggling.
And I’m giggling.
I don’t like dates because I ruin the things that time can’t touch.
And I’ve touched you.
We’re both high.
The next day, my head splits open.
I go out and buy a calendar.

Shai Afsai

Shai Afsai lives in Providence, Rhode Island. Enough said. Visit him on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Shai Afsai and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Poem of an End

– Prague, Czech Republic
Tisha Be-av and Tu Be-av 82 liftrat katan/August 2022

After Yehuda Amichai’s “Poem Without an End”


In a synagogue
they have made a Jewish museum.

The Torah scrolls and rabbi’s chair
are gone.

There are no children running through
the aisles

no elderly congregants
claim their regular seats.

In their place –

men with bare heads
and
women without much clothing
move about the sanctuary.

They have made a Jewish museum
in a synagogue.

Exhibit panels line the walls
where siddurim and ḥumashim.
would be shelved.

Instead of prayer and study

cameras snap,
cellphones sweep the room
for panoramic pictures,
and tourists pose
for selfies.

No more amen,
no more yehe sheme rabah,
no more shabbat derasha,
no more kiddush levana.

Come evening,
members of a local symphony orchestra
perform medleys to great applause
for culture-worshipers.

After fifty years
of fascists and communists
there are not enough Jews left
to fill the beautiful space
with devotion.

For what else can the building be used?

In this bustle
it is at least safe
for now
from being covered with the thickening cobwebs
of I. L. Peretz’s golem
or becoming home
only to Kafka’s marten-sized animal.

The full moon wanes.

In a cemetery once
at a burial,
I heard a Jewish woman
say:
“The problem with the Orthodox
is they made Judaism into a religion.”

But in this building
I see the trouble
is
that others
have rendered the religion
into a memorial.

October 3-9, 2022: Poetry from Nanette Rayman-Rivera and Charlie Brice

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Nanette Rayman-Rivera

Nanette Rayman-Rivera, author of poetry books, Shana Linda Pretty Pretty, Project: Butterflies, two-time Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net 2007, DZANC Best of the Web 2010, winner Glass Woman Prize for prose. Publications: The Worcester Review, Sugar House Review (mentioned newpages.com), Stirring’s Steamiest Six, gargoyle, sundog, Berkeley Fiction Review, Editor’s Pick prose at Green Silk Journal, Pedestal, ditch, Wilderness House, decomp, Contemporary American Voices, featured poet at Up the Staircase, Rain, Poetry & Disaster Society, DMQ, carte blanche, Oranges & Sardines. She lives with her puppy, Layla.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Nanette Rayman-Rivera and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

a husband goes missing

I could, in one evening, learn to dispose of my body you spent
…………years touching and telling me was blinding pretty.
I could wrap the sash from my yellow sundress four times around
…………my neck. I could rip the bodice of my sundress with my pocket
knife, engrave my breasts, then draw over the blood, cords and grooves
…………of purple pen. I could become a portrait for no light because no
light will ever escape the black hole of the sky. I could wish for the hiss
…………of capricious lightning, caught up in Honeysuckle air I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe. No poem, no letter, no entreaty will help me push through
…………alphabets as gardens of language describing death as haven. I could
sit on my patio, and write: Has someone birdlimed the branches of those
…………rumpled trees? Yet I find no birds perched on a windowsill beckoning
another world. You and me, we are treasurable of our pain—our eyes are still
…………life lowered below birds. We are our own asylum, a freedom that is always
love before there was sky or anything. Could you be my widow whisperer?

Charlie Brice

Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Poetry Magazine Poetry Contest and placed third in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His fifth full-length poetry collection is The Ventriloquist (WordTech Editions, 2022). His poetry has been nominated twice for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Atlanta Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Ibbetson Street, The Paterson Literary Review, Impspired Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, and elsewhere.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Charlie Brice and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I’m Not Writing a Poem

I’m not writing a poem about smashing a wasp
that’s bugging me on my back porch in Pittsburgh
with Rick Lupert’s new poetry collection,
I Am Not Writing a Book of Poems in Hawaii.
To write such a poem would memorialize
and glorify a barbarous act that’s totally
against the principles of my lackluster,
fallen away, pseudo-Buddhism—my feeling
that, at this age, I don’t want to kill anything,

and yet, that’s not entirely true. Gerry Spense,
the famous Wyoming attorney, asked a client
on the way to his execution, why he murdered
the man he killed. “Some people,” he told Gerry,
“need killin’.” And at this old age of mine,
I’m sorry to say, he’s right. Some people
in our troubled world need killin’, but not,
of course, by me. It’s the same with the beef
I eat: someone else kills the cows.

 

Midnight Dark

Death, that hollow-eyed beggar, sits
atop your washing machine, hides
in your garden, and crawls, at night,
to where your pillow meets your head.

You always knew that death would
mark the time hope ends, but you
didn’t know that hope would take
so long to circle the drain.

Wife old, feeble, talking about assisted
living. Dog slowed down, stares with
midnight dark eyes. You pretend that
your ass doesn’t wake you up

in the middle of the night. Backyard
blue sky, birch tree bark, service berry
bush, tulip tree, now more temporary
than the idea of yesterday.

This doesn’t end well.
This doesn’t end well.

September 26 – October 2, 2022: Poetry from Samanta Daničić and Grant Vecera

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Samanta Daničić

Samanta is a recent high school graduate. Lives in a small town in a small country and spends her days drafting her CV and yearning for bigger and better things. She loves gut-wrenching beauty, alliteration, politics, and a good pun. She writes poetry as an exorcism: a preventive measure against autocannibalism.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Samanta Daničić and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Sunbather

so we swam 
in the muddy river for the kids
braver than i am and
my friends’ voices were a staccato
soaked in ragtime mischief 
with their keen magpie eyes
for anything that glistens 
and right there
enraptured by The Sun
i had a vision 
of my warm blood 
in the sand how it would 
sizzle and crack 
on impact and
soak and soften the grains
someone else would later stand in
i thought
i could be that 
something mushy & sweet 
like the meat
of red-hot cherries
left out 
on scorching concrete 
or soft vanilla ice cream 
melting slowly
in your teeth 
i thought 
yes! i could be those things! 
i smiled 
my friends laughed like church bells
i could hear them 
flittering to and fro
comparing pebbles and stones 
i kept my eyes closed 
i was warm and in my soul
a strange tremor took hold 
it spoke:
my sweet Summer Sun 
i have washed ashore 
can i be your
hummingbird dynamo? 
my sweetpea, my sequoia tree
can i be your
little tangerine? 
my magnificent maverick 
lean down and kiss me
on my pale cheek 
color me orange
please 
i’m yours to peel
whenever you want

Grant Vecera

Grant Vecera teaches writing and inquiry at Indiana University Indianapolis and at Butler University.  His poems have been regularly appearing in various illustrious literary periodicals for the past thirty years.  He prefers bicycles to automobiles, sandwiches to guns, and cats to people (except for his wife and daughter).

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Grant Vecera and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Burning Money

Wad them up, one at a time,
or tear them into confetti.
The more surface area the better.

After gathering dry twigs—
two fistfuls, as long and thin
as raw spaghetti—
jam their heads together
to make the inverted V
which starts your teepee.

The money is the heart,
the kindling, the sacred
conception
upon which all else ignites.

Leaving one side open,
add bigger sticks, encircled
with a layer of bigger ones.

Now, don’t light the edges
or the top. Go low.
Go for the eye.

September 19-25, 2022: Poetry from Leigh Parsons and Alan Altany

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Leigh Parsons

Leigh Parsons is an emerging poet based in Michigan. Her poetry weaves a relatable narrative crafted to shed light on the challenges of the human experience.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Leigh Parsons and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Princess of Ruin

it’s a story I simply don’t want to tell
a tale, taller than others
a story that preferred to remain
unspoken          unwritten         unknown
Anonymous.

attempt to re-write history
right wrongs, fool everyone
perfectionist
perfecting disappointment
rinse and repeat trauma.
Parsimonious.

tempted by hedonistic shields
foolproof con artist, covert loyal enemy
crafted fables granted peace
a reflex, disguised
until oxygen defied lies
Defeated.

when teal sky levitates moods
grey implants cement shoes
too tall for fate to allow.
Misfortune.

light and dark trade places
awakening hour remains unpredictable.
Twilight.

follow footprints, led into turbulence
concentric circles with a steep decline.
Embraced.

vision cloaked in scaffolding and stained drop cloth
princess of intrinsic ruins
remained.
Her.

Alan Altany

Alan Altany, Ph.D., is a septuagenarian college professor of religious studies. He’s been a factory worker, swineherd on a farm, hotel clerk, lawn maintenance worker, small magazine of poetry editor, director of religious education for churches, truck driver, novelist, etc.  He published a book of poetry in 2022 entitled A Beautiful Absurdity.  His website is at https://www.alanaltany.com/.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Alan Altany and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Wabi-Sabi #2

A solitary old man
with his gnarled cane
walks a rocky path
near a winding stream
as the noon sun
silently bares down;
over his shoulder is
his weathered pouch
full of his simple
poems no one has
read nor ever will.

September 12-18, 2022: Poetry from LindaAnn LoSchiavo and Abdulrosheed Oladipupo Fasasi

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

LindaAnn LoSchiavo

Native New Yorker LindaAnn LoSchiavo, a Pushcart Prize and Rhysling Award nominee, is a member of SFPA and The Dramatists Guild.  Elgin Award winner “A Route Obscure and Lonely” and “Concupiscent Consumption” are her latest poetry titles. Forthcoming title: “Women Who Were Warned” (Beacon Books). She has been leading a poetry critique group for two years. Video-Poetry set to music is on her YouTube channel: “LindaAnn Literary.”

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by LindaAnn LoSchiavo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Grandpa Umberto’s Fig Trees

Italians love their fruited trees — those figs.
Umberto, nonno mio, introduced
A gathering young family of this stock
To Brooklyn, pruned, clipped, prayed, devoted days,
Still pinned to memories of older ways,
Refusing to let inconsistency
Impose its stay. Allegiance to black fruit
I learned while earning a privilege to pick
Those soft and sticky fichi, synonym
For much not said in front of children then.

Still green, this fig, my oval office when
One’s cultivation mattered — so we’d stretch chance,
Obsessed with spreading coffee grounds around,
Massaging the parameters. But still
Bold leaves perpetuated out of spite
Perhaps because life’s spelled all wrong, New York
Much harder than in Naples (winter-poor) —
Though rich potentially for those who add
Refuse from kitchens, thick rinds, sour grinds
To foreign roots. It seems some trees are big
Misunderstandings in America,
Its cool completeness not in need of things
Italian. Nonno mio struggles, pits
His fading strength against Gravesend’s deep weeds,
All dirt familiar. His pipe’s a spoon to stir
Blue air, attached to him, one pleasure’s home.

This Neapolitan tic: nature holds,
Poured into quarrels too small to contain it.

He prunes. He tries encouraging ripe figs
To form as if he knows, when he’s detached
From this, freed trees will do just what they want.

Abdulrosheed Oladipupo Fasasi

Fasasi Abdulrosheed Oladipupo is a Nigerian poet and the author of a micro-chapbook; “Sidiratul Muntaha” (Ghost City Press, 2022). His work has been published or forthcoming at; Ambit Magazine, Southern Humanities Review, Obsidian; Literature and Art in the African Diaspora, Oxford Review of Books, Stand Magazine, Roanoke Review, Louisiana Literature, Olongo Africa, The Citron Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Scrawl Place, Short Vine Literary Journal, Oakland Arts Review, Welter Journal, Watershed Review, Santa Ana River Review, and elsewhere. His work has been nominated for Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Best New Poet anthology. Fasasi explores Trans-Mediterranean migration, loss, sex trafficking and recently transatlantic slave trade.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Abdulrosheed Oladipupo Fasasi and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

We Lived Happily During the War

(After Ilya Kaminsky)

At night before the bed overtakes us, we turn off the notifications,
We punch the YouTube; my daughter says everything looks

Like a firework, someone said the country should be renamed;
A-fire-place, a boy on Twitter turns anguish into savage

He said everything is cruise and in the mid of chaos we deserve
A tinge of joy. In my dreams I saw a thousand maiden of Al Firdaous

With blood piping their glassy bodies, in the nights of chaos
I can’t believe I still dream of milk-carrying maidens, not monsters with the heads of

Dictators chasing me, not to receding echoes of bomb waking me.
At the dawn the cock crows, the alarm beeps but

We turn our backs, waiting for the sun, waiting for another news
About burning girls and children, we care in our comments not in our hearts,

We pray with our mouths but they never reach our throats,
We say we hate the dictators but we seem to love their havocs.

September 5-11, 2022: Poetry from Eleanor Crews and Glenn Ingersoll

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Eleanor Crews

Eleanor Crews is a writer and student living in North Carolina. She is currently working towards a BA in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared previously in Scapegoat Review. Visit Eleanor on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Eleanor Crews and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

last day (fragments)

the mosquito died in my hands.
how quick it fell apart.
only the blood that it spat
stuck there,
like a stain, forever wound.
look what you did.

at the gas station, i didn’t want to cry. the trees
ran a ring around everything. me
& the gum underfoot, alone,
in this dark circle mouth.

my headlights leapt from their homes;
liquid, ceaseless,
they flooded on.

 

honeoye I

you’re on your back, stuck
like a beetle in the hot grass and i’m staring
blindly, as a trout
up at the bedsheets strung
from tree to tree, i wonder
what they are there to catch.
you spit
something sour into the ground, i hear the sizzle
of the match and i look down
at your open eyes,
flat and pale
as a sunlit moon.

Glenn Ingersoll

Glenn Ingersoll works for the public library in Berkeley, California. His poetry reading & interview series Clearly Meant is on covid hiatus, but videos of past events can be found on the Berkeley Public Library YouTube channel. Ingersoll’s prose poem epic, Thousand, is available from bookshop.org and as an ebook from Smashwords. He has two chapbooks, City Walks (broken boulder) and Fact (Avantacular). He keeps two blogs, LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Poems have recently appeared in Spillwords, Sparks of Calliope, and Sparkle and Blink.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Glenn Ingersoll and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Old Heart

nothing in the cupboard
but old heart
so I took one down from the shelf
pierced the can and turned the crank
the circle rose to expose
kitchen light reflecting off dark liquid
how do you fix this
had I ever tried to?
I dipped a finger in
it tasted like the worst fortitude
nutrition for the desperate
I did eat a little bit
straight from the can
stowed the rest in the fridge
beside the ancient champagne
and the immortal condiments

August 29 –  September 4, 2022: Poetry from Chuck Von Nordheim and KC Hill

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Chuck Von Nordheim

Chuck lives in Ohio, but grew up in California. He is kept in line by a wife, 30-year-old twin sons, and a cat. In the spring, he scores academic tests. In the summer, he slings concessions at an outdoor concert venue. In the fall, he works as a substitute teacher. In the winter, he writes. More of his Inland Empire poems can be found online at Former People and The Metaworker.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Chuck Von Nordheim and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Derrick Considers The Career Consequences of Cosplay

I walk Colton, cape draped, mask off, doing
random roundhouses since superhero-
level mixed martial arts mojo won’t stop
gangstas gathering on our fair city
streets without occasional showboating—
cosplayers willing to wallop career
criminals with kinetic kicks squelch more
misdeeds than ten patrol cars crammed with cops—
no bad guy wants to be made look the fool
by a dude in a Halloween get-up

Someday the lieutenant will see my face
after a young thug posts a cleverly
captioned Instagram of a wannabe
Avenger throwing punches at the wind,
might watch a sped up TikTok a teen
mom shot of my pirouettes and chasses
prior to hurling my signature shield
with a steel drum clang against the chainlink
Cesar E Chavez Park baseball backstop,
someday the lieutenant will take my gun.

Will she do a coffee spit double take
when my looming viral celebrity
unfurls to divulge the freak flag adrift
among sanctioned Hemet Station banners?
Will the boom of a face palm disturb the squad
room calm when awareness dawns of how she
squandered the skills of a born crusader
with an endless berth in sunless dispatch?
Will rapid-fire rounds from reporters
burst the bubble of her college arrogance?

Go ahead and ask if embarrassing
snotty bosses or monkeywrenching
muggings by bullies overwrought about
their reputations repays for bare
bank accounts, a reneged retirement,
cancelled kisses when the formerly fond
abscond after podcast pundits have each
concurred I am absurd, a silly nerd
who mistakes cosplay for a cop’s work day:
I answer yes, twenty thousand times yes

KC Hill

K.C. Hill is an accredited blogger, eclectic artist and hybrid writer who has been living abroad since 2002. Her most recent publications: short fiction, “Murder Betwixt Parallel Universes” (The Curved House), and poetry, “Not Yet” and “My ‘round Town (chemo) Toddle” (Dark Winter Literary Magazine, August 2022). K.C. is ever working to hone her craft and has just submitted her first novel of Magical Realism to a literary agent. 

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by KC Hill and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Combed up Velvet

Windswept gatherings of confused moths
cloud over and flitter across
my speckled memory, moving,
flickering
candlelit flowers, held up above, hovering
over
such
white linen, rough
woven dusty with peachy
sprinkles that sparkle, sparkle
as a twinkling
glittery, and
shine. Just like
dead confetti,
angelic mysteries, spread out and about and unorganized as
this and these,
my thoughts of what was

As if there, their
unheavenly scissored up, snipped and cut
snowy cooled
insistence, unsated and sticking
to my attention
lazy, bump, thump
tacked heavy to jazzy sax beats
beating soft,
a stranger
wanting more space on the train
just tapping steady, beating softly
at my shoulders, but I blink away
your gaze and
whatever there was

Toss it, again
your smile and then
a strapped touch, thick in emotion
I do not want to remember
or consider this part
of this eventual
go away, but-. Your face (damn it)
…………………………………………….(what you said next)
and then another *thing*
that I used to like
petals down, slow and sloppy
out the window I cannot turn away
anymore
from the window and in your hair
…………………………………………….over by the window
breathing vanilla musk kisses and Daring
Your smirk should not be in my mind, dragging
through me, too much
my old unwanted memory feeling brushed up to a thick stuff,
combed up velvet
fingertips bent,
earth spinning outside our own seams
with us and I’m still
dizzy, becoming
a bubble sipped up
dripping,
running away from what absolutely have to be dried-forever thoughts,
away, then
a drop, a
petaling sparkle, dusted
away, then I realized it, I can wait for
your return, your next visit,
your revenge, too
…………………………………………….your comeback
of what never really was. I can.

Fingertips bent,
I rake up and through
past you
I’m way past you
and all that
combed up velvet.

August 22-28, 2022: Poetry from Rati Pednekar and Jennifer M Phillips

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Rati Pednekar

Rati Pednekar is a writer based in Mumbai, India, who enjoys writing stories about ordinary people and is currently working as a freelance content writer. She has completed an MA in Creative Writing from University of Birmingham and her work has appeared in magazines like Kitaab, The Bombay Review, Aloka and The Auroras & Blossoms PoArtMo Anthology (Vol 2). More about her writing can be found on her website: https://alohomoramysecrets.wordpress.com/.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Rati Pednekar and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Pasta in Puttanesca Sauce

Pasta in puttanesca sauce
has never looked more appealing
than on this 5 by 2 screen
under your name.

Spaghetti tangles with penne
and makes me smile,
I can’t explain why
it feels so like you.

I’d have a bite
if the chair across from you
wasn’t an ocean away.
If only it wasn’t,

I’d set the table
and twirl a fork,
our conversations stirring up
the tang of tomato.

The sizzle of garlic
would linger in the air
and in the space between
our dancing fingertips.

I’d count out olives
like careful promises
and slowly push them
onto your plate.

Jennifer M Phillips

Phillips is an immigrant, a gardener, grower of Bonsai, priest, and painter, and has been writing poetry and prose since the age of seven. Phillips  grew up in upstate New York and has lived in New England, New Mexico, St. Louis, Rhode island, and now is back in Massachusetts having graduated from Wellesley College and Andover Newton Theological School. Phillips’ spiritual/metaphysical  sense and writing life have always been rooted in landscapes and their infinite changeability. Phillips has published poetry in over fifty little poetry journals, including Poetry Pacific, Evening Street, Poem, Onionhead, Penine Platform, DASH Literary Review, America, Pensive, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Buffalo Bones, Blueline, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and Orchard Press’s journal Quiet Diamonds;had poems selected recently as a first prize winner in the Westmoreland (PA) Arts & Heritage Festival Poetry Contest 2022, was a winner in the Princemere Poetry Contest, and in the Oprelle Magazine Poetry Contest, won Second Prize and an Honorable Mention for two poems in The Regional WOMR/WFMR Annual Joe Goveia Outermost Poetry Contest 2022, was a  finalist in the White Mice Contest of the International Lawrence Durrell Society, and in the Orchard Street Press Poetry Contest. Phillips has published a chapbook, Sitting Safe In the Theatre of Electricity. Her forthcoming chapbook A Song of Ascents will be published Fall 2022 by Orchard Street Press.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Jennifer M Phillips and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

From the Cavern of the Winds

In the planetarium when I was ten,
as constellations cartwheeled over
the soft caves of our seats,
a soothing voice guided us through the widening
expansion of space, discussed specifics
of our location, zooming out from here
to the motley blue globe over our shoulder,
shrinking, planets dangling like plums, receding.
Swooping out toward other stars, galaxies,
our spiral, the red laser-point
at its outskirts: We are here, the voice said.
On the edge of vacancy
nevertheless it seemed we were held safe
in the artifice of that darkness-spangled room.

There was a fairy tale I still remember. Paradise closed
at its end with a crash like thunder. I awoke
in a dark corridor in a grim ship of passage
with the night world hurtling
toward apocalypse, or like a comet,
its decaying orbit around some senseless sun,
unrecognizable:
its storied pines become incendiary;
seas coiled back on themselves to strike;
hammers of the brash and grandiose citizens smashing nations;
counselors feebly fiddling behind obscured doors;
mobbed shores where the desperate dip themselves;
muffled breath in stifling rooms where the old
give up the ghost, anonymous;
no end the end in sight.

What pen is catheter enough to suck the poison?
What speech can swim in rescue under such weight?
Here, where we are, air thickens into taffy
that the sky pulls into a pelt of spoiled grey suede,
the great heat is pressing over us,
a warning hand;
and the prohibition of the plague-angel
is still stinging in our ears.
Blackbirds pant in the straw,
small paws are clawing the frazzled grass after seed,
and milkweeds raise, minatory over the mown and wingless field,
their ashen bloom. Tell me.
Is it too late to speak? Are the words too small?

August 15-21, 2022: Poetry from Moe Phillips and Sarah Johnnes

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Moe Phillips

A native New Yorker, Moe now lives with her photographer/producer husband Ian in the sleepy town of Lambertville, New Jersey. Moe is a believer in all things magical. She credits her Irish ancestry for her love of words and wonder. Over twenty of Moe’s poems and essays have appeared in anthologies and magazines for adults and children. Whether Moe is delving into the world of Fairy folklore, silly poems or essays that honor daily living, they all contain her imagistic style of storytelling. Moe’s latest poetry endeavor is a tall tale series of audio stories entitled The Feisty Beast created films for award winning poets- Naomi Shihab Nye, Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard as well as several shorts of her own for New York City’s beloved Wild Bird Fund. Moe is a member of the SCBWI -NYC chapter.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Moe Phillips and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Lost Then Found

I thought I’d lost it
Your diary
The one you gave me when we were seventeen
Neither of us knowing then, you wouldn’t see twenty

That an empty balcony would beckon you to its edge
Hushed, rushed burial to lay you in hallowed ground
Solace for a Bronx Irish family from the parish priest
Don’t ask too many questions was thought best

Passing that high rise building from time to time
My eyes scan the façade, seeking some small trace
A blazing red palm print showing where you hesitated
A shining platinum star seared into the pavement

Each time I open this little spiral bound notebook,
filled with teenage scribbles and your poems so true
I get to pretend briefly, you never really landed that night
You leapt into the arms of blue midnight and flew away

Sarah Johnnes

Sarah applies her photographic eye bringing visual sensibilities to her poetry. She is focused on capturing what is not typically seen, finding connection, beauty, and humor in common everyday moments — even those that reflect decay, pain and taboo subjects. She was raised near New York City and currently resides in Eugene, Oregon with a twenty-four toed, seventeen-pound, cross-eyed cat where he reminds her to continually work on bringing more joy and less stress into her life.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Sarah Johnnes and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

An act of mental decluttering

I take myself for a nowhere drive
It is an almost-spring day
Bold blue skies
No buds
Yet.

Curvy country lanes canopied with craggy weathered limbs
Moss covered, branches glow green
as afternoon sunlight
filters down
to me

On the radio, I listen to what I never do
It is the only thing I can receive
Unless, I was willing
to have Jesus
talk to me.
I wasn’t

Why do all thumper stations have strong signals?
There’s a lot of hell, fire, and brimstone
to be heard while traveling
remote roads

Instead I listen to deep electric beats mixed with girly voices
Singing “I like sex with my exes.”
On repeat

I imagine skinny young woman
covered in hot pink vinyl, speckled with sparkles
high ponytail swaying like a metronome, but with bounce

An old, mostly white pickup, parked slightly off the road and
put together with piecemealed parts shows rusty spots
A family, harvesting downed wood
Loads scavenged logs

From the bed of the truck, Grandma slings and stacks wood
Her lined face, framed by white hair slips out
Of a worn deerstalker wool lined cap
She’s wearing all men’s clothes
For practicality
I assume

My attempt at mental decluttering has me listening to sex with my exes
while grandma makes weird eye contact with me
in the middle of
nowhere

August 8-14, 2022: Poetry from Darrell Parry and Robin Shepard

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Darrell Parry

Darrell Parry is a writer, artist and event organizer from Easton, Pennsylvania. He founded the online publication Stick Figure Poetry Quarterly and the monthly Stick Figure Poetry open mic. He also cofounded Lehigh Valley Poetry’s Virtual Salon, which meets on Zoom the first Monday of every month. His alter ego works in higher education, not a professor, but as one of those reviled peddlers of unaffordable course materials. Believe it or not, he even sometimes sells poetry books. Join the Stick Figure Poetry Facebook group of follow @stick_figure_poetry on Instagram

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Darrell Parry and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Her belly-button

Her belly-button
………usually a small, ovular divot,
has shrunk to a
tiny, curved
horizontal crease
like a smile
as if it knows
what kicks and
fidgets beneath
the bulbous flesh
it burrows into.

Her belly-button
smiles
because it has a secret
and it has never
kept secrets well.

Robin Shepard

Robin Shepard is a poet and musician living in the lowlands of California’s central valley. His second book, The Restoration of Innocence, is forthcoming from the Merced College Press.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Robin Shepard and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Breakfast at Zingo’s Café

In a truck stop in Bakersfield,
lured by the neon sign and flashing
arrow pointing toward the freeway exit,
adjacent to the Teaser Pleaser men’s club,
(too early for lap dances and overpriced
beer), I ate breakfast while driving south
to the city of make believe. The chicken
fried steak with eggs made my morning.
Gravy, a thick creamy white, dotted
with chunks of sausage, covered the biscuit
like a warm blanket. In the men’s room,
two quarters dispensed its souvenirs,
a lubricated Trojan or plastic cock ring,
in case of need, or just to say, I was here.
My waitress wore her age in her neck,
but her figure was firm and shapely,
her nails sharp and painted Corvette red.
Otherwise, pleasant in appearance, a little
older than my type, which is younger
than me, she ignored my flirtations
with every pour of black coffee. Until I
ordered the cherry pie. Then she purred,
“Any man who eats pie in the morning,
can’t be all bad. I’ll heat that up for you.”
An old man at the counter turned around,
smirking like he had a secret. “A slice of
pie is like a woman,” he winked. “Eat one
in the morning, you’re good the whole day.”

August 1-7, 2022: Poetry from Malik Selle and Don Bellinger

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Malik Selle

Malik Selle is a California-based writer. A graduate of Emerson College in Boston, MA, he earned his B.A. in literary studies. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Stoneboat Literary Journal, Beyond Words Magazine, High Shelf Press, and The West Trade Review. He currently lives in Los Angeles, not far from the La Brea Tar Pits.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Malik Selle and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Desert or The Bay

I came all the way from
Red Hamlet, California
an exile built from principled sin, the
machinations of an adult bookstore or
tourist court day rate
in line with the filth found behind
the local dive. Quicksand of the mind:
a young addict makes cold, painful
love with the cactus she mistook for
Jesus full of Pepsi

from there, I went north upstate, hoping
to make a Barbary Coast of your thigh
before I remembered that I forgot
we met in college, out east.
Not in the desert nor my hometown
where legs dangling off the Golden Gate
I read John Updike, neglected economy
and civics, never bothered the prom queen
So when you left I saw the habit,
how indecision still breaks my neck

Don Bellinger

Don Bellinger was born and currently lives in Walla Walla WA, which is the wine capital of Eastern Washington. Where everyone is always talking about their latest Cab. And we’re not talking Cab Calloway! About its heady nose, earthy body, and fetching bottom! Well, we seem to be getting off on a tangent. Don writes poetry and short stories or perhaps short stories and poetry. He is the author of The Instrumentality of Communication: Poems and Other Oddities.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Don Bellinger and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Morning Loomed

morning loomed
But it seemed a little hunch-backed
and approached with an unsteady gait
Singing an off-color, off-tempo ditty
that was almost recognizable

As the sun doffed its slouch hat,
the day staggered upon the stage
seemingly weighed down, burdened
with too many troublesome
philosophical uncertainties, and trivial
questions involving moral absolutes

But everyone was tumbling out of bed
Cats were up and expecting social niceties
Ready or not the Cosmos was up
And about, expecting a small gratuity
And a full-throated, “Thank you.”

July 25-31, 2022: Poetry from Kelli Simpson, Layla Lenhardt and Mary Beth Hines

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Kelli Simpson

Kelli Simpson is the winner of the 2021 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. Her work has appeared in Lamplit UndergroundGreen Ink PoetryOne Art Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. A mother, poet, and former teacher, she makes her home in Norman, Oklahoma. 

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Kelli Simpson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

One

There is night and there is day.
There is here and there is there.
There is I and there is Other.

These are truths so self-evident
that we leave them undeclared,
but what if

we finally let the world be round?
I sleep; you sow
You dream; I dare

another day in my little corner
of everywhere. Our everywhere.
Here and there is meaningless

when I inhale the dust of both
of our ancestors with every breath.
And, breathing you, what can be left

of I, but a lie that profits
the tellers and sellers
of difference?

We all cradle a child like a miracle.
We all eat, fuck, die,
and “why” leaves its taste on every tongue.

Night and day.
Here and there.
I and Other.

One.

 

After Fasting

I’ve fasted all night, and my eyes
are hungry for light to blind
the second sight of my bad dreams.
I crave blooms and birds to sing fifths and thirds –
that wild mix
of harmony.
Sing, world, sing!
Words emerge, not by will,
but by waiting.
Sounds shape syllables. Syllables
settle on my shoulders and whisper in my ears
Be gentle with the morning.
And, I am, for a moment, I am.
Soon enough, though, my eyes wander towards work.
There are weeds in the zinnias:
the tomatoes need water;
and it’s getting hotter by the minute.
I remember that there was a grackle in last night’s dream.
Feathers pressed flat against a pane of glass,
he was trapped and struggling to get outside.
Now, awake, I wonder at a blue sky
alive with flight –
black wings cutting through white clouds
like words on a page.

Layla Lenhardt

Layla Lenhardt is an Indianapolis based poet. She is Editor in Chief of 1932 Quarterly. She has been most recently published in  The Light Ekphrastic, Quail Bell Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, and Pennsylvania Literary Journal. She is a 2021 Best of the Net nominee. Mother Tongue, her forthcoming book of poems, will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing. www.laylalenhardt.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Layla Lenhardt and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Quiet Corners

The dust on the windowsill sits in piles in the silent house,
rumpled bed sheets, like a shipwreck.
I am older now than you’ll ever get to be.
I parse out my dreams like a dissected raven,
hoping for a fledgling of a whisper, just to hear your voice.

Since you’ve been gone the trees have stopped shedding,
their pollen lies in tufts on the sidewalk like a dead baby bird.
You never got to see 30. I drive past your mother’s house
every time I’m in town. It’s the last place I saw you.

Last month I met a stranger at the bar.
He took me on a ride on his motorcycle,
and the entire time, I was steadfast in holding back tears.
The last time I was on a motorcycle, I was clutching your back,
leather on leather, as we parted the cornfields of Eastern PA.

On every sabbath, I put your picture on my altar
and unsheet my mirrors. I beg the universe to send me any type of sign
that you’re still with me somehow. I always believed in the gloaming
of my life, I’d find my way back to you. Back to the flowers you put in my hair,
when we sang in harmonies around bonfires.

I remember I was listening to a Graham Nash song
when I found out you died,
“Come to me now, rest your head for just five minutes,”
and the immediate imperious buckling of my knees that followed.
Since then, I have never listened to that song.
Since then, I have never wholly stood back up.

 

South Paw

It’s not because I reached up
and tucked your hair behind
your ear in front of Michael
on Halloween, or the sex
in my truck in the tattoo shop
parking lot or that time
you were yellowed by the sun.

It’s the not knowing what to call you
to my coworkers. It’s mistaking
your silence for business. It’s the look
in your eye the night when
Max flew in. The buzz of a coil
machine. The creak and moan
of the stairs in your rental house
on Roslyn Street. The corner
of a condom wrapper
on your floor. How sleeping
next to you feels like a funeral.
That loving you is a pain
I enter alone.

Mary Beth Hines

Mary Beth Hines’s debut poetry collection, Winter at a Summer House, was published by Kelsay Books in November 2021. Her most recent poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction appear in Slant, SWWIM, Tar River Poetry, The MacGuffin, Valparaiso, and elsewhere. Her short fiction was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Visit her at www.marybethhines.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Mary Beth Hines and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

On Barefoot Beach

His first widowed winter, Father flew south
to Florida, with me, surprised he agreed,
but he said he supposed that God’s light shone
more in some places, less in others, and south
seemed a better chance to catch what remained.

Evening-after-evening we sat on the shore
in our low-slung chairs, draped his worn
Navy blanket across our laps, sipped wine
and watched the sun drop, scanned the horizon
for the rumored flash of green.

Arm-in-arm on our last evening, we walked
into the water, let go, heads back and floated.
He closed his eyes, lips pursed in a pensive smile.
A minute, maybe five till he lost his legs.
I roused in time, clasped, and towed him in.

 

Blue

I am the blonde with the blue
wings swinging between the framed
edges of my yearbook photo

loco, the boys in my class tease, my hair
a billowing affair following
my beauty day at the mall

all ready for the mob at the Sheraton
beyond prom where we girls fall
between squalls of boyish men

muddled and mauled we call for more
menthols, mercy, mudslides, more
mix to fix the spinning

stars to the ceiling for another
hour more, a moment to make
a wish, a trick of light, the door

swings open to we are not
whores our voices scratched with sore,
all those scores kept and secrets

mourned for years I felt
no pain and nearly married
the boy I cried about most days

and nights back then when
I found someone to bury my blue-
tinted head in someone who

forevered me on his back in burning
black, my tiny skull inked between
his blades spiraling blue-tipped flame.


From “Winter at a Summer House,” Mary Beth Hines, 2021, Kelsay Books

July 18-24, 2022: Poetry from Joel Bush and Srishti Saharia

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Joel Bush

Joel Bush reads things. He also writes things. Well, sometimes he reads the things he writes. That tends to help. Joel Bush is the winner of the 2021 CSUF Earth Day Poetry Contest, and his work has been feature in The Five-Two. He also served as an editor of DASH Literary Journal.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Joel Bush and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Best Part of My Day

I fell down the last few steps 
on the old, grand staircase. 
My foot must have slipped 
on the freshly vacuumed carpeting.
I flopped back like 
a struggling carp,
my elbows bracing the fall.
The muffled boom
bounced off the walls. 
I skinned my left arm.
Tiny pinpricks of blood 
began to form in the 
mangled web of flesh. 
But nobody saw me.
It was the best part of my day. 

 

Someone

Someone lives on
top of me.
Heavy footsteps trudge on
metal and concrete stairs when
they come home. 
When I’m at the bathroom mirror,
I hear their coughs, sneezes, shrill
alarms. 
Their jackhammer bass and synth 
vibrates through the ceiling.
I have no idea who they are.
And it would seem creepy if I asked.
I don’t want to ruin this special
thing between us.

Srishti Saharia

Srishti Saharia is a junior in high-school from Guwahati, India. She thrives on poetry, oranges and oranges. Poetry has mothered her through her girlhood and baptized her soul and her body alike. She wants to pursue literature and photojournalism in the near future and dreams of sharing a cup of tea with her Warsan Shire and Mitksi, her make-believe godparents.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Srishti Saharia and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

My Nose Was God’s Afterthought

i wake up to the face my ancestors
brought with them— stubborn eyes
that refuse the refuge of uv-tinted
tents of prescription glasses,
instead borrow light from the blind;
sleep is their only language of prayer.
my morbid mouth is sinking deeper
with every peck of moonrise into
the bird nest of my throat to
incubate the hunger for guilt and
forgiveness inside my body.
my mother’s hand on my forehead
is the eraser of my ancestors’ misery.
my ears have rented silence on
an expired lease— the sound
i fear is the only sound they hear.

my nose is sitting in the centre
of this poem like a prey waiting
to be devoured, or a bleeding bible
that doesn’t know its religion;
this nose, it feeds on april’s feasts,
snorts pollens and political poems
for a jovial high in springs;
my nose pokes patriarchy at
the shin and ends up bloody
and broken too often;
it dreads to decipher
the scent of loss from
love because it has inherited
the tender tendency to ‘mis-smell’
one from the other;
the famine of forgetting the smell
of my history is plaguing my nose.

my nose was god’s afterthought—
hurried and incomplete,
stuffed between the eyes and mouth
like foreign vowels forced
amidst confused consonants;
its bridge from where my pride
goes skinny-dipping early in the morning
is arranged to pose as a question—
an anathema or a crucifix?
the tip has an awareness of its own,
it flinches at the smell of grieving gods
living inside the bodies of decaying girls.
the river of my ancestors’ bones
in my nose, the only source of light,
is clogging my ability to sniff out
the rogue ruins from the royal realms.
i want to get the septum pierced
but need is the hierarchy inside my mind
and i do not need to kill my mother.
there is a love poem waiting to
be written about the mole on
the left edge of my nose
[where all the treasures of
my self-love is stashed]
and i am a poet,
ofcourse i am conceited enough
to conceive one myself.

and so i write tonight,
to my ancestors this angry
attempt at an apology from
the longest-held breath and
the deepest of my dreams
with a sigh from my belly
that has morphed into ink,
because this nose?
it is one of the buttons of
god’s own baby-blue linen
shirt that she hand-picked
and sewed on to my face,
the kind she planted on
my mother’s face,
and i owe every seed of
moment in the womb of this earth
to that round, little button which in
its turn only owes me the request
of my last breath to be baptized
a bullet and to consent
to the desire of living through
death when the time comes
riding on the back of a fair mare
to knock on the doors of
my chest to elope with the flesh
and wounds of my heart
to the heavens.

July 11-17, 2022: Poetry from Eduard Schmidt-Zorner and Lori Lasseter Hamilton

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Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is a translator and writer of poetry, haibun, haiku, and short stories. He writes in four languages: English, French, Spanish, and German and holds workshops on experimental poetry. Member of four writer groups in Ireland. Lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. Published in over 170 anthologies, literary journals, and broadsheets in USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Bangladesh, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Some of his poems and haibun have been published in French (own translation), Romanian, and Russian language. He writes also under his penname Eadbhard McGowan.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Eduard Schmidt-Zorner and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

haiku

lone lost bee

on the back of my hand

anticipating spring


hands of a clock
raise arms in desperation
fight against time

whisper of the night
the sound of soft falling rain
moon’s lullaby

time dissolves unmarked –
day and night drip like water
into fate’s hollow hand
 
last hug for a while
feelings will die a slow death
thirst of dry flower

falling cherry blossoms

blind the eyes

with their bright white


grape blood on my tongue
a wine fairy tale
red lips

Lori Lasseter Hamilton

Lori Lasseter Hamilton is a 52-year-old rape survivor and breast cancer survivor. She is a member of Sister City Connection, a collective of women poets, storytellers, and spoken word artists in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Lori is a medical records clerk in a local hospital. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1998 with a bachelor of arts in journalism and a minor in English. Some of her poems have appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Synkroniciti Magazine, Global Poemic, SWWIM, Steel Toe Review, Birmingham Arts Journal, The Stray Branch, and Avant Appal(achia). Lori’s fourth poetry chapbook, “limo casket,” is forthcoming from Voice Lux Press in 2023. Visit Lori on Facebook here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Lori Lasseter Hamilton and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The things I remember

A ship made from seashells on the brown downstairs bookshelves
by the Bear Bryant Coke bottle.
A green spatula in a kitchen drawer. Mom used that spatula once
to spank me. Its holes
were the size of the holes in the cheese grater
I’d shred cheese with for El Paso taco shells.
I remember a big brown teddy bear Christmas morning,
1980, downstairs, when I woke up at one a.m.
I ran back upstairs, giddy to tell my sister
we both got giant teddy bears
but she didn’t care.
I remember a white record player I got that same Christmas
and the first album I received, Neil Diamond’s
“Coming to America.” I was ten and it was 1980

and I remember a cardboard foldout house for my Barbie,
cardboard covered in vinyl
with fake painted scenes
for a bedroom and a makeup room.
But my Barbie house had no actual furniture,
no actual rooms.
I remember the red VW Barbie bus I’d drive
across the den floor, carpeted in yellow-gold shag
to match the storage room walls, mustard yellow
like nerve gas. I remember the storage room
where there was a maroon carrying case
of headless Barbies. Their decapitated bodies
belonged to my sister and me.
Some of them were naked, with perfect smooth boobs
but no nipples. And now I’m half-boobless
like that dumb calculator equation
a boy showed me in high school.

I remember an Elvis poster my sister made for grade school,
stored by Dad’s downward sloping drafting table
where he’d draw blueprints in the mustard yellow room.
I remember the miniature Nativity figurines I played with
on the den floor, pretending the baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph,
an angel, the three wise men, the shepherds, and a cow
all lived in a shoebox I turned sideways, and every day
Joseph would go to work selling oranges and furniture
to support Mary and the baby.


I remember the Raggedy Ann and Andy toy box
painted red white and blue like America
I stored my toys in.
I remember the footstool in Gadsden
that belonged to Aunt Jackie. It was round
and green as her gallstones, and me and my cousin
would jump up and down on it,
singing “Jackie Packie!”
I remember the ice cream maker
Papa would make homemade ice cream with
every fourth of July.

What I don’t remember is why
we went to an abandoned building once
filled with glass Coca-Cola bottles,
where it was, what year it was.
All I remember is Mom, Dad, my sister,
me, my aunt and uncle, my cousins were there.
Maybe it was 1980, the same year we went
to a relative’s funeral on Mom’s side and after,
we stopped at an ice cream parlor
where Air Supply sang “I’m All Out of Love”
overhead on the radio.

What I don’t remember
is the name of the Black woman
who gave me her velvet Salvatore Ferragamo shoes
ten years later, 1990,
when I was away at college
at the University of Montevallo,
and when I told Dad she was going to be my roomie
he said No, threatened the police on me
over the phone.
I wish I could remember her name
but I don’t. When I try to remember, silence
fills my head like the silence I heard
when I picked up a seashell off the downstairs bookshelves
to try and hear the ocean,
or the silence of the air conditioner as Dad said a prayer
before Sunday roast beef dinner,
or the kitchen silences of Saturday nights
when Mom would wash my hair
with Finesse shampoo in the double sink,
or the silence in the First Baptist Church of Center Point
that smelled like grape juice and fresh baked bread
as we’d sip and chew and bow our heads.

July 4-10, 2022: Poetry from Susan Ioannou and Nicholas Abanavas

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Susan Ioannou

Susan Ioannou’s publications range across short stories, reviews, literary nonfiction, and children’s novels. Her poetry collections include Clarity Between Clouds (Goose Lane Editions), Where the Light Waits (Ekstasis Editions), Coming Home: An Old Love Story (Leaf Press), Looking Through Stone: Poems About the Earth (Your Scrivener Press), Looking for Light (Opal Editions), and The Dance Between: Poems About Women (Opal Editions). Individual poems have also been translated into Dutch and Hindi and set to music.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Susan Ioannou and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Old Black Cat

(for Rappa)

At seven in the morning
the old black cat
creeps behind the neighbours’ front bushes,
folds into her shadowed, quiet place.
Damp red bricks and ground
hold her safe,
curled from heat, from light.
One yellowed eye watches. . . .

A young tom quivers on the lawn,
white and black
muscled tight to spring
high as birch leaves twittering sparrows,
wide as a shaken, emptied branch.

The old cat yawns.
Beneath that tree she sees him crouch
hungrier each day,
as if birds drop into a waiting mouth.
Stalking—paws’ slow motion,
body tunnelling grass—
that’s the way to hunt,
but flatfoot there just sits,
or flings himself, flailing,
and down a soft tail feather drifts
untasted.

She had her fill of birds.
Once, even dreams fluttered,
hopped on tiny cat-grumblings.
Now she lies cool,
thinned fur
tufting arthritic bone.

Stalking her,
death is not vicious,
only slow.
Tunnelling wet grass,
it folds her into darkness.
Each day’s milk, she laps less and less,
at last just sips from puddled rain.

A redwing titters.
Ears prick up.
Young tom quivers,
tight beneath the tree.

The old cat’s eye closes into dream.
One last time,
heart flailing,
can she fling her worn body,
and feather into sky?

poem

Nicholas Abanavas

Nicholas Abanavas received his M. Ed. in Teaching At-Risk Students in 2008. He recently retired from a career in public education. He has written two books: Scissors, Cardboard & Paint-The Art of At-Risk Teaching and Lemnos-An Artist and His Island. He was born and raised in New York City and is an avid fan of jazz music.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Nicholas Abanavas and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Avenue of Americas

The half moon
will do
to fix the craze
in hollow eyes
guide streetlamp flickering
shadow on cold gray thighs.

Lost souls inhabit
lost memory
washed in the roar;
of the steel river
asphalt river
stone forced to flow
against the current
rush.

 

Midnight Express

Cold in New York
flowers don’t make the gig
yet, stray reflection
forms fond
sunlight in my memory.

Cold in New York
solid are the smells
scattered in the street.

Black mobster ride
gangster white-wall side
glides the choppy basin
to the jam
midtown.

I climb
the fossil riverbed.
I kiss
the steely teeth.

Electric guitars play
too loud for my ears.
I eat acoustic spoon.

June 27 – July 3, 2022: Poetry from Shirley Obitz and Adele Kenny

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Shirley Obitz

Shirley Obitz is a writer, musician, composer, poet, and photographer. She has produced music for Grant Brett, one of Portland, Oregon’s upcoming innovative singer-songwriters, and scored the music to Pandora’s box, a two-act play written by the late JD Chandler, a well-known Portland crime historian and author of several books on the subject. Shirley has worked as a Production Assistant on Le Tram, an award-winning film by El Gato Negro. In addition, she worked behind the camera shooting music concerts and documentaries. She currently resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Visit Shirley on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Shirley Obitz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

When Angie Speaks

When Angie speaks
It’s not words I hear
It’s the clack of a pool ball mouth
When Angie speaks
It’s the burn of whiskey on a dry throat
It’s crushed cigarettes
Buried deep in the sand
On some Corpus Christi beach
When Angie speaks
I hear agony in Texas grit nightmares
Exploding in her mind
When Angie speaks
I hear her head bashed in
I hear her feet
Wildly trampling over the grass
When Angie speaks
With lowered eyes
I hear caskets shut
I hear the flowers cry
I hear Angie’s joy die
It’s not words I hear
When Angie speaks

Adele Kenny

Adele Kenny, author of 25 books (poetry and nonfiction), has been widely published in the U.S. and abroad. Her awards include first prize in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, NJ State Arts Council poetry fellowships, a Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and Kean University’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Her book A Lightness was a Paterson Poetry prize finalist. She is also the author of Wind Over Stones. She is poetry editor of Tiferet Journal and founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series. Visit Adele on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Adele Kenny and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Stars, Like Souls

When I was a child, my father made
sense of it. Orion tilted at his fingertips,
and he rocked Cassiopeia’s chair with

hands so big I thought he would hold
me and all the stars forever. But stars,
like souls, step out of their bodies –
light more than light.

Tonight, frost burns the marigolds. A
last bird sings. I sit at my table and turn
a spoon sticky with sugar over and over

in my hands until my fingers shine the
way my father’s did in that neighborhood
of stars, that world I believed was the
world without end.

June 20-26, 2022: Poetry from Rp Verlaine and Joan Fingon

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Rp Verlaine

Rp Verlaine lives and writes in New York City. He has an MFA in creative writing from City College and taught English in New York public schools until he retired. He has several collections of poetry including Damaged by Dames & Drinking (2017), Femme Fatales Movie Starlets & Rockers (2018), and Lies From The Autobiography 1-3 (2018-2020).

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Rp Verlaine and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Lilli

Was maybe 4’11”
but always wore boots
with lifts that made her
a height that she said
gave her large enough
shadows to keep
crack heads and weirdos
at a safe enough distance.

She’d call me late
on weekday nights
to ask why I was doing.

Writing letters to god
with no hope
of a reply, I’d say.
You write any poems
about me? She’d ask.
Working on it, I’d say.
Mind if I come by?
You always make me laugh
and the sex is usually good.

Also, we drank 
a lot unconcerned.
It was amazing how
much a woman her size
could drink.

As a lover she was
even better and held on to me
tighter than most.

The last time she called me
she told me she was very ill
and leaving New York
for her mom’s house in Maine.
Four years later 
when I saw her again
I didn’t recognize her.
A rare blood disease
and bad liver had
aged her beyond her years.

Not long after, she died.
Spending her final days in church
praying for god to save her.

I think of her sometimes
missing her a great deal
I’d have to say at 4’11”,
she stood taller than most

Joan Fingon

Joan C. Fingon lives in sunny Ventura, California. She enjoys writing and reading poetry in her back garden. Among her many haiku publications, The Drunken Honeybee: A Collection of Haiku and Senryu is her first poetry book.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Joan Fingon and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Diner

standing outside the diner
in a small town
pushing the door handle
warm to her touch
in the midday sun

strange sounds
of people talking
drinking coffee
sitting in red vinyl booths
take a quick glance
and look away
she steps inside as the bell
tinkles overhead

“Do you know me?” she says
to the man at the counter
he shakes his head
and turns towards the kitchen
“Hey Harry, Sheila’s here.”

Harry comes out
from behind the swinging doors
all dressed in white
wiping his hands on a towel
smiles, takes her hand, and says
“Come on Sheila, let’s get you home,
I am Uncle Harry, remember me?”

June 13-19, 2022: Poetry from Elisa Albo and James Croal Jackson

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Elisa Albo

Elisa Albo was born in Havana. A contributing editor of Grabbed: Poets and Writers on Sexual Harassment, Empowerment, and Healing, her poetry chapbooks are Passage to America, based on her family immigrant story, and Each Day More, a collection of elegies. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Alimentum, Bomb Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, InterLitQ, MiPoesias, Notre Dame Review, SWWIM Every Day, Two-Countries: U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents, Irrepressible Appetites, and Vinegar and Char. Nominated in 2021 for Best of the Net, she is an award-winning professor of English and ESL at Broward College, where she co-produces the Seahawk Writing Conference and teaches a food and film course. She lives with her family in Fort Lauderdale.

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by Elisa Albo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Pandemic Diagnosis: Tinnitus

~a haku of haiku

When I close my eyes
locusts harmonize in leaves
loud is how they swarm

***

My brown eyes wide shut
cicadas buzzcut in trees
scream on black mind screens

***

A steam release valve
in the brain’s basement hisses
no one, no shut-off

***

An old radio
feigns static between stations
but flatter, constant

***

Late night snow sounds on
an ancient television
mark programming’s end

James Croal Jackson

James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has three chapbooks: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022), Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)

The following work is Copyright © 2022, and owned by James Croal Jackson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

St. Petersburg, 2015

I took a photo of herons walking in Pioneer Park.
Followed them through grass to the St. Pete Pier,

sunrise blue reflecting forever upward. I thought
the road trip would last an eternity. I asked Tracy

if I could stay. Now I am in Pittsburgh, reflecting,
without yachts and breeze, just beside the living

room window. A gray-haired man drives by in
a silver Toyota Tacoma, heading to wherever.

In those days I followed everyone, every whim.
Tracy had other plans. These days I rarely drive,

and when I do it’s up a hill, over ice, or out of
hunger. The cool emptiness I used to carry

to bars, leather wallet bursting with receipts like
unkempt hair– I’d drink until finding purpose,

the familiar, unpaved road to drive on.

 

Shirtless in Goodale Park

I swing my shirt
around like a lasso
at the community
festival
when you walk by
my sunburnt torso
and stop
to ask how I have been.
Last month
we hung out
in circles
before I confessed
and we got dizzy.
When you exit
the conversation,
I drink
myself onto
a patch
of clumped grass
wishing
our shirtlessness
together was
a more organic
situation,
but everyone
here is shirtless.
We are all half
naked in the sun
hoping for another
chance.

 

White Noise Eucharist

the bathroom fan. now I am asleep. no
god has been asleep as long as I remember.

there was sleeping in church my pew
a long loungechair. white women

singing sunflower and epistle. to
write a love letter these days means

you are able to buy bread. too many
starved. hearts empty tanks. fill

a cup with holy water. pour into
brown grass. I have never been a man

of faith but I open plastic packets without
looking and consume what’s inside.

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