Poets of the Week

April 19-25, 2021: Poetry from Doug Holder and Janis Brams

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Doug Holder

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. His work has appeared in The Worcester Review, Rattle, The Cafe Review and elsewhere. Holder’s latest book of poetry is “The Essential Doug Holder” (Big Table Publishing)  The “Doug Holder Papers Collection” is now housed at the University of Buffalo Libraries. Visit him on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Doug Holder and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Working the Night Shift at McLean Hospital

McLean is a psychiatric hospital outside of Boston

A decade.
A decade of long nights.
A long string of darkness.

My eyes squinting at
the stranger
of early morning sunlight.
The morning commuters and I
in furious opposition
we are on the
opposite side of
the tracks.

The day in progress,
I come home
fall asleep
to the din
of talk radio.
Disembodied voices that
intertwine with my sleep. 

The night shift
my soft cushion
to the frenzy
of the world.

Janis Brams

Janis Brams lives in Cardiff-By-The-Sea, a San Diego beach community. She has published in the Penmen Review and elsewhere. Janis taught students of all ages and facilitated a group of senior citizens in their nineties who wrote memoirs. She is currently leading Pen & Page sessions that involve free writing using poetry and prose as jump-off points.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Janis Brams and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Brisket…

Meat that comes from the breast,
Beneath the breast the heart.

Slip a blade between flesh and fat.
Trim the greasy white sinews
but not too much.
Balance must be preserved
between what is good for us
and what is not.

We set the table,
Cut the challah,
pour the wine.
Generations together
like links in a chain.

I sit next to my sister,
watch as she searches
for meat with less fat,
cutting and spearing
small morsels to chew.
I’m like her,
savoring the sweet and the sour.
We tear pieces of challah, soak them in gravy,
wipe the thick sauce from our chins.

 

Afterward

Who will remember to squeegee the shower door,
sweep the crumbs after dinner?
Who will fill the fountain,
watch finches and hummingbirds dip their beaks,
fluff their feathers?
Who will straighten the sheets
beneath the blanket
puff the pillows
and wake him
when he falls asleep
in the downstairs recliner,
neck at an angle?
Who will light the salt lamp
on the bedside table,
turn on the overhead fan,
touch his shoulder,
interlace fingers,
breathe into his upturned ear,
I love you?

April 12-18, 2021: Poetry from Mike Jurkovic and Susan Taylor

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Mike Jurkovic

Mike Jurkovic is a 2016 Pushcart nominee whose poetry and musical criticism have appeared in over 500 magazines and periodicals worldwide with little reportable income. Full lengths include: AmericanMental, (Luchador Press 2020) Blue Fan Whirring (Nirala Press, 2018). He is the president of Calling All Poets in New Paltz, NY. Mike’s reviews appear online at All About Jazz and Lightwood. He was the Tuesday night host of Jazz Sanctuary, WOOC 105.3 FM, Troy, NY. He loves Emily most of all. Visit Mike on the web at www.mikejurkovic.com and www.callingallpoets.net

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Mike Jurkovic and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Old Man Maneri’s Typing Class

Now do exactly
as I say and
follow me
on this one

When I say
Old Man Maneri’s Typing Class
repeat after me
and don’t stop

y’know, I learned about rhythm
in Old Man Maneri’s Typing Class.
They’re only after your money!
he’d snout. Now’s the time
for acceptance! Now is the time
for all good men
to come to the aid of their country
Is etched in my head
from Old Man Maneri’s Typing Class.

His mole-like demeanor
I’ll never forget.
Lint is your legacy!
the Ratman would say
and click clack
went the clock.
Again.

A sneaky boozer
w/a sterling flask
in the upper
right hand drawer.

I can still see him
in his midway corner:
Eyes on lookout.
Shirt askew.

Serve the sieged cold soup!
he’d holler and
click clack
went the clock
again.


Not much of man
in the mid-afternoon
but stoic.
Rhythm is
a profound thing
he’d bark,
setting you up for life.

Susan Taylor

Susan Taylor is a private English tutor and freelance writer in San Diego, California. She has written a children’s book and has been published in the 2019-2020 San Diego Poetry Annual. She loves to walk with her dog and husband, do yoga, read, and socialize. She is the mom of two adult children and grandma to 4 kids who live on a farm in Kansas.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Susan Taylor and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Electric Picnic

Ramon invited me to the electric picnic
LED fried chicken and 60-watt potato salad
The lemonade was highly charged
And the ants set off sparks as they inched across the picnic table.
Ramon invited mariachi singers,
Their trumpets shocking the sleeping crows,
And all the dogs hung out by the barbeques.
Ramon invited his cousin, Chuey,
A righteous Latino hipster
All skinny jeans and Buddy Holly glasses.
WE danced to the music and drank beer,
Played chase with the kids,
And took a nap under the trees.
What a lovely lazy afternoon
Until the lights went out
On the Electric Picnic.

23rd Annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Poetry Issue

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Alan Walowitz

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His books are Exactly Like Love (Osedax Press), The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems (Truth Serum Press), and with Betsy Mars, In the Muddle of the Night (Arroyo Seco Press).

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alan Walowitz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

History Lesson

(Marvin Rosenblatt 1939-2019)

My friend Marvin knew his stuff,
could teach a damn-good lesson
from atop his head,
the history he’d studied hard,
and some he’d lived by heart–
especially the part he learned taking lunch to his father,
who drove the trolley that turned around on the Concourse,
and could tell his boy–even
without the exact, right words–
about the earlier time, hunger and pogroms,
the history they owned together.

When we made time for a city-day,
Marvin always dragged me
to the Jewish Museum on 92nd
because what did I know
and you can never know enough, he said.
Life and Death in the Polish Shtetl.
Who could stand such sorrow? I asked.
Meantime, he made his way from photo to photo
and said, There I am. That’s me, each time he saw
another, then another dark-haired boy
dressed for school, or work, or shul,
whose name was lost and taken for ash.
I sort of looked, so as not to turn away.
Till we came to a boy
who was just outgrowing his golden locks
and looked at the camera
as if desperate to be found.
And there you are, Marvin said to me,
when I was ready, finally, to really have a look.

Alex Chornyj

Alex Chornyj published three poetry books in 2020,  Vincelles, Little Angels  and First Light by Cyberwit.  Vincelles was nominated for The Griffen Poetry Award for 2021.  He also published a children’s adventure book called The Chosen One in 2020 with Cyberwit.  He has a new publisher Tagona Press from Sault Ste Marie which will publish a second edition of The Chosen One and simultaneously publish the sequel  Beside My Equal later in 2021.  Dreams can come true if you only persevere and believe in yourself.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alex Chornyj and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Liberation

A road of sharp glass
A bed of razor nails
A strike at the heart
Ovens of burned stench.
An air of intolerance
A life of misery
A cloak of daggers
If of the star symbol.
Hunted as if we were
Common criminals
Only guilty of
Our nationality.
Herded together
All dignity lost
A stolen identity
An enduring tyranny.
A time of depravity
An encumbered race
Injustice and insult
Lives that were cut short.
Try to pick up the pieces
But to hear the screams
Night after night
Day after day,
This sliced through the souls
Of those yet breathing
Wondering only when
Not if would come their turn.
From a wonderful life
To the bottom
Of an impoverished barrel
Devoid of sustenance.
As the will to live
Was slowly siphoned
With all loss of hope
The end could not come soon enough.
Then one morning
The gates came crashing down
These shots rang out
There had come liberation.

Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015.  He has written many film reviews for MovieBoozer, and has contributed articles to Mindfray.  His writing has appeared in The Bookends Review, and The Society of Classical Poets.  Emma Stone inspired Alex to submit writing actively to publications after hearing the Oscar-nominated song, “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from the “Best Picture” nominee La La Land (2016).  Currently residing in Alhambra, California, he now writes with the sincerest hope to inspire readers while fully supporting the ones who dare to pursue their dreams. Vist Alex on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alex Phuong and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Remembrance Day

Each new day
Might contain remembrance
Which is different from
Reminiscence
Because instead of daydreaming
About good days long gone,
People could still move on,
And only if they choose to accept
That this day
Really is the only day

Alexis Rhone Fancher

Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, Tinderbox, Cleaver, Diode, The American Journal of Poetry, Spillway, Nashville Review, Poetry East, and elsewhere. She’s authored six poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected (NYQ Books) dropped in March, 2021. Her photographs are featured worldwide including the covers of Witness, and The Pedestal Magazine. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. Visit Alexis on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alexis Rhone Fancher and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Survivor’s Guilt

—After childhood trauma from The Pawnbroker, The Night Porter, The Third Man, & other disturbing films.

Would the Nazis have killed me outright or used me for labor or sex? 
This has always been the litmus test. 

When I was young I knew the answer, but now I know it too, 
and it is a different answer.

I’d thought myself worthy of cruel experiments, or saved from slaughter 
by a sadistic, SS officer who wanted just to fuck me, but found me addictive.

‘Fucking’ doesn’t shock anymore, my sister said when she read the poem. 
True, I agreed. But ‘genocide’ does. 

I imagined my fragile sister, naked in the mis-named queue labeled “SHOWERS.” 

When I visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam,
I was struck by the fear that still clung to those rooms. 

I followed Anne up the tiny stairs behind the bookcase, 
their claustrophobic chaos, the lingering anticipation 

of her bedroom. Anne’s winsome spirit welcomed me in:
kept as it was when the Nazis came, movie star photos 

still taped to her walls.

 

First published in INTERIORS, Blank Rune Press, Australia

Alicia Elkort

Alicia Elkort has been nominated thrice for the Pushcart, twice for Best of the Net and once for the Orisons Anthology. She was the finalist in the 2020 Two Sylvias Press Book Prize and has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. She lives in Santa Fe, NM and goes to great lengths for a mountain breeze and a tall tree. Visit Alicia on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Alicia Elkort and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Now Is The Time For The World To Know

Now is the time for the world to know that I am ready to say Yes, a sound so sweet, even peacocks turn their plumes towards Jerusalem. Yes to the symphony, a violin’s stringed chant, calling forth my ancestors who perished at the end of a gun. Sometimes I see them falling into an unmarked grave. Sometimes I see them dancing. Sometimes I see angels, reminding me that the only thing that is real is the love that lives in the small house of my bones. Let the beauty you love be what you do said a prophet one difficult day.  So I say Yes.  To the beauty of saying yes to clove and tangerine, to tears, to heartache, to holy loss, to spume and butterfly.  I say Yes to the incandescent pearl of me, the lightness as I remember that everything is sacred. Do you remember too?

Betsy Mars

Betsy Mars lives in Torrance, California where she practices poetry, photography, pet maintenance, and publishes an occasional anthology through Kingly Street Press. Her second anthology, Floored, is available on Amazon. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Verse-Virtual, Sky Island Journal, and Gyroscope, among others. She is the author of Alinea (Picture Show Press) and co-author of In the Muddle of the Night with Alan Walowitz (Arroyo Seco Press). Visit Betsy on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Betsy Mars​ and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

An Inheritance of Vigilance

With an inheritance of vigilance
and paranoia, I scan the news
and others’ tones, compare fascism
present to fascism past, afraid
to be caught unprepared.

As a child I tried to go undetected,
adopted a protestant work ethic,
my sympathies were catholic.
I hid my habits, exchanged
cheap for thrifty, Star of David
for crucifix, scattered money like chicken feed,
left Yiddish at home, relied on my blond hair
and unremarkable nose to keep me safe,
disguise the Jew inside.

Decades later I light yahrzeit candles
and the family menorah, spin the dreidel,
defy the fear my father felt
growing up one generation closer
to that near-extinction event,
my declaration fluid as candle melt.

Bhatnagar Vandana

Ms. Vandana is from New Delhi, India. She is a writer of short stories, poems and has articles that have been published in national as well as international journals. She is a regular contributor to Chandamama and Women’s Era. She also has a novel “In Search of Joy: Knocking at the Doors of Happiness” to her credit.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Bhatnagar Vandana​ and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Holocaust day

Each day brings new aspirations,
New joys, new avenues, new dreams,
But in the history of mankind,
There is a day named Holocaust day,
Which brings sorrow, pain in heart, tears
Even after so many years.
How could people be in human?
How could someone be so stone hearted?
To kill so many humans,
Nature doesn’t permit anyone,
To hurt others unless to satisfy hunger,
We as humans have no compassion,
Towards others,
Cruelty arises from the wish to be powerful,
Whether such attained power shall be able to justify,
The loss of so much of blood, so many cries,
I wish I could change history,
And prevent the loss of lives,
Nothing in the world can bring back human life,
Be it money, power or intelligence,
Only the ones who lose can feel the pain,
I wish this day reminds each one of us to be more humane and maintain peace in the world.

Carrie Magness Radna

Carrie Magness Radna is a New York Public Library cataloger, choral singer, lyricist and poet born in Norman, Oklahoma. Previous publications: The Oracular Tree, Muddy River Poetry Review, First Literary Review-East, Spillwords.com, Mediterranean Poetry, Alien Buddha Press, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, Nomad’s Choir and Jerry’s Jazz Musician. Prize winner: “all trains are haunted” (Non-rhyming poetry: Honorable Mention) of the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Poetry collections: Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press: 2019) and In the blue hour (Nirala Publications: February 2021). She lives in Manhattan, New York with her husband Rudolf. https://www.carriemagnessradna.com

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Carrie Magness Radna and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

It’s still wartime

It’s still wartime
when we blame our fears
upon another people,

no matter what they look like,
no matter what their racial makeup,
no matter what their religion is,
no matter what their rung on the economic scale is,
no matter what sex/gender they were assigned at birth,
no matter their softness of speech
which language(s) they do speak,
if they are clean or not,
if they are affected or not by mental illness,
if they are infected or not by physical illness,
or, are strange, period.

When will we stop the killings?
When will we ban weapons?

When will we stop laying blame
upon people who are different?
When will we ever learn?

Charles Brice

Charlie Brice is the winner of the 2020 Field Guide Magazine Poetry Contest and is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), An Accident of Blood (2019), and The Broad Grin of Eternity (2021), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Chiron Review, Pangolin Review, The Sunlight Press, Sparks of Calliope, and elsewhere.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Charles Brice and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Someplace Special

Since the phone rang
in the middle of the day
we felt no alarm. Judy
answered with a smile
that fell quickly to frown:
Someone had broken into
The Tree of Life Synagogue
on Shady and Wilkins
and opened fire on the congregation.

This was Pittsburgh, “someplace special,”
as the city slogan proclaimed.
What made it special to me,
a fallen Catholic and backslider Buddhist,
were the Jews walking the streets
of Squirrel Hill, Jews with kippot,
big bushy fur hats, prayer shawls
and fedoras, speaking Russian, Polish,
Hebrew, Yiddish or the tangy
tongue of New York City.

Pittsburgh was someplace special
because I could leave shirts
at a laundry on Shady Avenue
and discuss the nature of light
in the Torah and in Heidegger
with the Jewish owner, or
attend a Passover Seder—
listen to arguments over Israel
and the true ancestry of Abraham,
or attend a lecture on Martin Buber
at the local Lubavitcher Shul.

But on that dreadful day,
October 27, 2018,
Pittsburgh, a city I loved,
was no longer someplace special,
but someplace shameful.
Eleven of its Jewish citizens
had been gunned down
because they wanted to pray.
Where might light be found
on such a dark day?
What would be its nature?

Christian Ward

Christian Ward is a London, UK, writer who can be currently found in Culture Matters, Poetry and Places, Literary Yard and in the Poetry and Covid project. Future poems will be appearing in Sein Und Werden and The Pangolin Review.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Christian Ward and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Yasha Remembers The Great War

Yasha empties his pockets

of the Houdini clouds

he had been looking after,
transforming them into rain

with the ragdoll waltz

of a piano and accordion.

Leashed thunder claps

from the back of the room.

His obscure relatives,

faces vague like winter,

ask what the fuss is about.

So Yasha, being Yasha,

simply puts his hands

in his trouser pockets,

utters a Yiddish prayer,

and serves up lightning.

 

Previously published in the Kenyon Review

Christine Griffin

Christine Griffin is a writer based in Gloucester UK. She loves writing poetry and short stories and has been widely published including in Acumen, Snakeskin, The Dawntreader, Graffiti and Writing Magazine. She has performed her work at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and Cheltenham Poetry Festival and regularly reads on local radio. Christine is the author of ‘The Road Ahead’ a collection of prize-winning short stories.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Christine Griffin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Like all the rest

She looked like all the rest
shuffling across icy tracks
in a nameless Polish forest.
Dressed in rags, clutching a useless bundle,
she draped an arm across a small boy’s shoulders.
And yet there was defiance in her gait.
A subtle head- tilt, lowered contemptuous glance.
She turned to face me, heedless of my gun,
her gaze a challenge.

I pulled her from the line,
lifted her chin with the muzzle of my pistol,
spat in her face, still she stared.
Freeing her hair from its stinking shawl,
I laughed at the vanity
of a scarlet ribbon neatly tied.

I have that ribbon still, in a place I cannot look.
And it burns
………….… oh how it burns.

Colin Dardis

Colin Dardis is a poet, editor and sound artist, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His work has been listed in the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, and the Saboteur Awards, as well as being published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and USA. Previous collections include The Dogs of Humanity (Fly on the Wall Press, 2019), the x of y (Eyewear, 2018), Post-Truth Blues (Locofo Chaps/Moria Books, 2017) and Dōji: A Blunder (Lapwing, 2013). Visit Colin on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Colin Dardis and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Pikuach Nefesh

“May there be abundant peace…”

Age? Health? Profession?
By these answers, you lived or died.

Lies were soon exposed
for the sake of a few extra days

or a week if you were resourceful.
No resource could deny you the end.

Those blessed by education,
rounded up in their prime,

the ones who smuggled bread,
survival a matter of a crust

or just a decent pair of soles
that could delay falling under

the nightmare; or killed
for their ration, their shirt.

Staying alive is everything here
where life is nothing but hell.

Daniel Fitzgerald

Dan lives quietly in Pontiac, Illinois, tending to home and garden. His poems have been published in The Writer’s Journal, PKA Advocate, Nomad’s Choir and Poetry Super Highway. His work is also included in several anthologies.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Daniel Fitzgerald and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Crime Against Humanity

What a pretty plant you are.
What delicate leaves,
such wonderful blooms.
Too bad you showed up here.
Too bad you chose to live here.
Too bad you were not planted here.
Too bad you don’t fit in here
with all your careful neighbors.
Too bad there is no place for you here.
To God you may be a flower,
to me you are just a weed.

Daniel S. Irwin

Daniel S. Irwin is a native of Southern Illinois, born and raised in Sparta, Illinois. His card reads: Artist, Writer, Actor, Soldier, Scholar, Priest. He had been published in over one hundred magazines and journals worldwide. He has published nine books. He is retired military (Air Force and Army) and retired state employee and has appeared in over one hundred films.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Daniel S. Irwin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

He Looks in the Mirror

He looks in the mirror.
No change, he looks no different.
Same student, head of his class,
Now ousted from his school.
Same player, captain of his team,
Now barred from sports.
Same young man, with many friends.
Friends who now call him names.
Always willing to help a neighbor,
Run an errand, expecting no reward.
The same neighbors now turn their backs.
The same neighbors don’t speak to him.
He hasn’t changed, but the world has.
Why? What has happened?
He puts on his warmest jacket, now
The one with the yellow star, and
Helps his mother with the suitcases.
The whole family must leave.
Where will all this craziness lead?

Dave Ludford

Dave Ludford is a poet and writer from Nuneaton, England. His work has appeared at Poetry Superhighway, Leaves Of Ink and 365 Tomorrows amongst other places. He is currently working on a play.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Dave Ludford and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Let There Be Light

Let there be light, a candle burning
So that none are forgotten
A flickering flame to light the way
For those lost souls cruelly taken
A light of remembrance, a light for love
A beacon for hope against hatred,
A light for truth, for tolerance, for trust.
As daylight fades we’ll not fear the beckoning void of night
The light will burn twice as bright. We’ll not despair.
And as the new day dawns
Let there be light, a candle burning.

David Oates

David Oates is a writer and teacher. He’s the host and producer of Wordland, a radio program of poetry, stories, and comedy, and the former host of Great Apes (comedy), both on WUGA, Athens GA public radio. He ran the Athens poetry slam. His books are Night of the Potato (fiction and poetry), Shifting with My Sandwich Hand, Drunken Robins, and The Deer’s Bandanna (the last three, haiku). Oates wrote for the comic strip Shoe in the ’80s. Former jobs include reporting, radio announcing, and proofreading. He lives in Athens, Georgia, USA.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by David Oates and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Anne Frank’s house –
outside the windows,
hammering, church bells, pigeons


Previously appeared in Black Bear Magazine Spring 1997
and Drunken Robins, Brick Road Poetry Press, 2011

Deborah Leipziger

Deborah Leipziger is a poet and author residing in Boston, MA. Her chapbook, Flower Map, was published by Finishing Line Press (2013). Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of several books on sustainability and human rights, some of which have been translated into Chinese, Korean, and Portuguese. Her poems have been published in the UK, US, Israel and the Netherlands, in such magazines and journals as Salamander, Lily Poetry Review, POESY, Wilderness House Review, and Amethyst Review. She is the co-founder of Soul-Lit, an on-line poetry magazine. Visit Deborah on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Deborah Leipziger and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Written on Skin

In cursive and script your kiss
is indelibly written on skin.

Even now, the cut from your birth
echoing the rain is written on skin.

The numbers from a time of horror
are held written on skin.

Just as the rings record the age of the tree
my ages and phases are written on skin.

The wood from the forest for the violin
its music etched in wood, written on skin.

The umbilical cord coiled around my neck
is still there, pulsating purple, written on skin.

The parchment of history of storied sacrifice
is written on hides, written on skin.

In ink and dust, blood and bruise
my history is written on skin.

The newspaper stories of massacre
collapse and famine are written on skin.

Gems with facets etched by stone
hidden in garments, written on skin.

Your touch on my earlobe, fingerprints on my face
words and deeds unbidden, written on skin.


First published in the Muddy River Poetry Review, #11, Fall 2014

Diana Rosen

Diana Rosen lives in Los Angeles where her backyard is the 4,000-acre Griffith Park, a lovely distraction from writing poems, essays, flash fiction, and nonfiction which have been published online and in print in anthologies and journals including Jewish Literary Fiction, Jewish Writing Project, Poetry Super Highway, and Tiferet Journal, among others. She is also a content provider for food and beverage web sites and the author of thirteen nonfiction books on food and beverage. Visit Diana on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Diana Rosen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Past Must Be Remembered

The survivors try to forget the rubble
of lives decimated by the holocaust,
that burnt offering floating upwards
to the gods of unanswered prayers.

The survivors remember the beauties,
brilliant ones, those valiant, generous.
What remains are stabbing thoughts:
Why them? Why not me? What now?

At the camps, survivors, and others, see
the debasement, depravity, desecration, feel
the weight of eternal stillness. Can they hear
the birdsongs, the sounds of spring?

Until then, the past must be remembered.
Until then, it is enough to say,
I was here.
I was here. I saw. I know this to be true.

 

NOTE: influenced by the short documentary, “Colette” by Alice Doyaard & Anthony Giacchio.

Doug Holder

Doug Holder teaches creative writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Ma. For over thirty years he ran poetry groups for psychiatric patients at McLean Hospital, outside of Boston. Poem previously published in Spare Change News. Visit Doug on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Doug Holder and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

A Holocaust of Toads

As boys-
we dropped rocks
a flurry of bomblets
on a passing phalanx of toads.

Commanders for once
free from the clamp
of parental constraint
punch drunk
with the notion
of our control
of fate life
death.

And like
mini Dr. Mengeles,
we experimented
stuffing firecrackers
down their
twitching throats
and watched
with clinical fascination
as the blood
and amphibian skin
amounted to no more
than a small amorphous mess.
Well, after all they are only pests.

We watched them march
time after time
and we kept
our lethal promise
for their well-appointed death.
So many of them
black spotted, green, gray with white
all that blood
those terminal hues
we were just boys


we were Jews.

Duane L Herrmann

With work published since 1969, Duane L Herrmann, Topeka, now has publications in more than a dozen countries, in at least four languages, with citations and references in even more. He is an award-winning historian, poet and cook. His work appears in several dozen collections and anthologies with seven volumes of his own poetry as well as a science fiction novel. Growing up on the Kansas prairie, his ties to nature are strong and evident. His empathy reflects surviving a traumatic, abusive childhood embellished with dyslexia, ADHD (both unknown at the time), now with cyclothymia and PTSD. Visit Duane on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Duane L Herrmann and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Kitchen Chores

On arrival
at the camp
separated
from my mother,
from all I knew –
never to see again.
Assigned kitchen duty,
I survived
stealing food.
Sometimes
ordered
to fertilize
the gardens
with ashes
containing
bits of bone
and
human teeth.

Glenn Moss

Glenn Moss is a media lawyer living in NYC. At college, he wrote a play for a course in Jacobean Literature, and at Law School, he wrote a play for a course in Jurisprudence. Glenn writes poetry and stories amidst contracts. Each area of writing enriches the other, with contracts benefiting from a bit of poetic dance.Glenn has had poems and stories published in sveral journals, including Ithaca Lit, West Trade Review, Oddville Press, Oberon, Foliate Oak Magazine, Illuminations, 34th Parallel, Harbinger’s Asylum, October Hill Magazine and Narrative Northeast. “Words” has been accepted for publication by October Hill Magazine

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Glenn Moss and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Jews On A Bench, 1965

Twenty years before
A corporal from Oklahoma vomited on his boots
As the skeletons reached for him through barbed wire
Rusted with the blood of once funny uncles and sexy neighbors
In a June twilight, on benches bordering Prospect Park
Almost like they are waiting for a bus taking them to a camp
My parent’s friends chatter about neighborhood changes
Different elements mixing in, changing desired chemistry

Thirty years before
Couples on benches in Vienna and Munich
Chattered about the same thing

Now, in the country where it couldn’t happen
Men with automatic rifles in Pittsburgh, Charlotte and in the Capitol
Wear t-shirts affirming that 6 million wasn’t enough
Waiting for the leader to do more than nod
So many want to be the one

And the grandchildren of those Jews on a bench
Remembering falling asleep during “Shoah”
Plan to catch up on Amazon Prime

Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev was born in New York in 1942.  www.helenbarlev.com   She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, has lived in Israel for 50 years and has had over 100 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 34 of which were one-woman shows. Six poetry collections, all illustrated by Helen.  She is the Amy Kitchener senior poet laureate and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013. She is the recipient of the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art.  Formerly Assistant President of Voices Israel, Chief Editor of Voices Annual Anthology, and Overseas Connections Coordinator. She lives in Metulla, Israel.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Helen Bar-Lev and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

American Merry-Go-Round

Up and down we go, round and round
my lacquered horse is chafing to break free
of the shaft piercing its middle, to join the race course
not so far from Coney Island, just a gallop across the boroughs

Wait! Stop the carousel, the oompahpah music,
are Jews allowed on this ride? That’s good, because I’m Jewish
Daddy catches the brass ring, gets a black and white Teddy bear
and brags about it with a macho Jimmy Stewart dialect
to disguise any trace of his native Yiddish

Let’s go next to the Ferris Wheel
the giant one with a great view of America from the top
Stop! I’m dizzy and can’t appreciate the scenery
let me off, I want to go down but the thing’s stuck in the air
oscillating, strange words you learn in a place like this

Back on the ground we look up at the roller coaster
it undulates like a dragon, something that needs to be slain
before it runs amok and takes over the world
this amusement park is not fun at all

We wander around a bit and buy a kasha knish
all the attractions display the stars and stripes
patriotism surges in everyone’s heart
some soldiers stroll with girlfriends, families
Aunt Rose says Uncle Murray was a hero
I don’t really remember him, she cried at my birthday party

Down at the beach we take off our shoes,
dip our toes, the ocean is black and cold,
alien submarines surfaced here a few years ago, during the War,
surveying America from under the waves but then disappeared

Daddy, I will not go to the freak show, too much excitement already
but please buy me ice cream, yes, pistachio
– I’m six years old and like that wooden horse,
I want to escape from this place, go home

I’m Jewish and we’ve just had a holocaust
and even the Merry-Go-Round won’t let us forget it

Henry Greenspan

Hank Greenspan is a playwright, poet, and psychologist emeritus at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  He has been interviewing, teaching about, and writing about Holocaust survivors since the early 1970s, now fifty years. His writing has appeared in two books, many articles, and in Tablet, the Forward, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and numerous poetry sites.  His plays have been performed on NPR and at more than 300 stage venues worldwide.  Much of this work, including the poems submitted, was inspired by his long friendships and conversations with survivors. Visit Henry on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Henry Greenspan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Mars

In the beginning, we wanted to talk about it.
We needed to talk about it.
Nobody wanted to hear.

My own cousin, a dentist in California:
“Manny, I know what you went through.
I saw the newsreels.
I don’t want to hear a word about it.”

But a funny thing,
to me, a funny thing–
maybe they did see something.

This was 1947.
There were reports
about unidentified flying objects.

Suddenly, 1947,
all these unidentified flying objects
showing up.

And some people saying
they saw people inside the spaceship.
Yeah, just like they say today.

People with big, bald heads.
and skinny arms, skinny legs,
and large eyes, in big heads, on skinny little bodies.

I say to myself,
“I’ve seen these people before!”
Yeah, I’ve seen those thin, tiny, skinny bodies.
I’ve seen those bald heads, bobbing up and down,
I’ve seen those eyes, eyes staring, everywhere,
seeing everything,
seeing nothing.

I’ve seen these people before.
And my cousin, the dentist in California, he had also seen these people before.

He saw them in the newsreels.
I saw them
on Mars.

Indunil Madhusankha

Indunil Madhusankha is originally from Sri Lanka, and is presently living in Pullman, Washington State, USA. He is currently a doctoral student and teaching assistant from the Department of Mathematics, Washington State University. Even though he is academically a mathematician, he also pursues a successful career in the field of English language and literature as a researcher, reviewer, poet, and content writer. Interestingly, Indunil’s works have been featured in many international anthologies, magazines, and journals. Visit Indunil on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Indunil Madhusankha​ and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Chamber

It was not a quite capacious chamber
Though hundreds were huddled tight
Just like a panicked herd of sheep
The men and the women
The young and the old
The rich and the poor
The sickened and the handicapped
All were in the grayish chamber
Waiting to embark on a journey
That they would never return from
Some wailed and shuddered ghastly
With startled eyes and reddened faces
Others remained shockingly silent
Yet, peeing their pants
The old muttered dreadfully
Pointing their hands to the sky
Which was out of their view
A stuttering of Bible verses
And all of a sudden
As the whitish fumes engulfed them all
They had to close their eyes
And plunge into the gravest silence
With the heaviest breath of life
Only the echoes of howling and prayers
Now recurrently haunting the silent chamber…

Ivan Klein

Most recently published The Hat and Other Poems and Prose from Sixth Floor Press in February 2021. Published Toward Melville, a book of poems, from New Feral Press in July 2018. Previously published Alternatives to Silence from Starfire Press and the chapbook Some Paintings by Koho & A Flower Of My Own from Sisyphus Press. Frequent contributor to the online art magazine Arteidolia. Lives and writes in downtown Manhattan. Visit Ivan on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Ivan Klein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Hat

_____Freud, in his mid-thirties, is traveling through Italy, partially following in the footsteps of his boyhood hero, the great Carthaginian general, Hannibal, when a series of associations lead him to the recovery of the repressed childhood memory of a story told to him by his father, Jakob.

             He writes that when he was ten or twelve years old, Jakob began to take him along on his walks “and his conversations to reveal his views on the things of the world.”  He tells him of a particular incident with the avowed purpose of showing the boy “that he had been born in happier times” than his father:

             As a young man in the small Moravian village in which Sigmund was later born, Jakob was walking along the street all dressed up with a new fur hat on his head when a Christian came along and knocked it into the mud of the road and said, “Jew, get off the pavement!”

             “And what did you do?” was the naked question of the son.

             “I went into the roadway and picked up my cap,” the father quietly replied, and Freud notes that this struck him as “unheroic conduct on the part of the big strong man holding the little boy by the hand.”

             This devastating found memory would remain in Freud’s dreams and waking consciousness thereafter.

             One imagines the father warmly holding on to his young son, feeling him as a formative projection of his own self and speaking (perhaps for the very first time) of that awful humiliation of his young manhood.  But the ostensible reason for the telling – the use of the incident to illustrate the progress that the Jews had made over the course of a generation – is at least as distressing as the raw content of the story itself.

             Was Jakob really so oblivious to the effect his account would have on the especially sensitive boy beside him?  So blind to the history of his people as to not grasp that his son would be tested as he had been tested and found wanting on that obscure village street?  Wasn’t he aware in the deepest and truest part of himself of the eternal meaning and peril of the epithet “Jew” as enunciated by his personal emissary from the Christian world?

             In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud contrasted Jakob’s craven conduct and the tragic assumptions that shaped his account with the historical scene drawn by Livy in which Hannibal’s father, Hamilcar Barca about to go off to war in Spain, swears his nine year old to vengeance against the Romans before the family altar.  Between those two existed the generational bonds of Semitic honor that had decayed so terribly over the millennia of Jewish exile.  The redoubtable Hannibal would remain a figure of admiration to the founder of psychoanalysis while during his college years when his “dissatisfaction with the conduct” of his father toward the adversaries of their people surfaced, he daydreamed of having a sire such as Hamilcar.

                                     

              Poor Jakob just scraping by
                      in the face of the enemy!

It’s as if he had told his mortified son
     We are Jews here, enlightened
              or not;

         This is the way it is
              and will be.

Grow ghetto walls around
         your heart,

   Submit and survive.
I tell you this
   while at the same time
my soul is overflowing
      with love and terror for
            you, my son.

             The contemporary Israeli critic, Yosef Yerushalmi, addressing Freud as if he were still with us, wrote:

             “… I believe you had learned by then [his old age] not to condemn your father for having quietly picked his hat out of the mud.”

             There doesn’t seem to have been any real basis, in fact, for this belief, and, of course, Jakob had been dead for a good many years when this forgiveness was presumed to have occurred.

             Did Sigmund forgive him when they were both alive?
             Did he truly forgive himself for being Jakob’s son?

                         How do we forgive our fathers their moments of wavering, of cowardice, until we have somehow overcome and forgiven our own dishonored selves?


“The Hat” was originally published in the Jewish Literary Journal in November 2013.  It is the title poem in a newly issued volume from Sixth Floor Press.

J. Barrett Wolf

J. Barrett Wolf lives in Binghamton, New York, where he is the Poet in Residence at the Bundy Museum of History and Art and Director of ‘WordPlace – The Southern Tier Literary Center’. His poem “Main Street” can currently be viewed as part of the Vestal Museum’s “Empty the Inkpots: The History of American Typewriters” exhibit until May 31st, 2021. He holds the Bronze Medal of Valor from the San Francisco Police Department. He also holds the Bronze Medal of Valor from the San Francisco Police Department. Visit J. on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by J. Barrett Wolf and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Park at Babi Yar

It is the look of this dirt,
the earth sounding gravely
beneath black boots
and low-heel shoes.
It is the kneeling of older trees,
over the abyss,
Sycamore and Oak,
sagging skin of bark and burl,
the evidence of majesty and time
spent watching.
It is the infernal, impotent
keening of the river –
scraping its cries against
shallows and shore.
This Earth, these trees, this river,
a road within sight of the town,
within earshot of the ravine.

Spring will never warm this place,
though green will arise
from winter’s ash and bone,
new shoots leaning timidly
their roots sumptuously fed,
reaching toward a cold sun.
Here, the dead are not echoes;
they can be heard
dragging their feet on the moist ground,
forging endless bitterness
from the polished brass shells
at the Kiev Arsenal,
where they made war on their own.
Look now…
The many grains of earth and sand,
the land upholstered with
benches, walkways, trees.
How beautiful the green and gold,
the path to the waiting glen
that begs the tidiness of forgetting.

Joan Leotta

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. Although she lives now in Calabash NC, she grew up in Pittsburgh, within walking distance of Tree of Life synagogue with a grandmother who learned to cook from the wife of Kosher butcher. Her poems, essays, and stories, usually featuring food, family, and strong women are widely published, including in The Ekphrastic Review, Potato Soup Journal, Verse Virtual, Verse Visual, skirt, Pine Song, and anti-heroin chic.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Joan Leotta and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Feast of Memories

I’ve been told stories
of a certain bravado in the
death camps
of skeletal men and women
without much more
than a crust of bread
and mealworm gruel,
defied death
by exchanging recipes
and tales of past prandial glories.
From memory they shared
delicate morsels
sweet and savory
comparing spices used
whose and which were best—
nourishment for souls though
denied to their bodies.
Some succumbed to disease,
starvation. Others were made to
march into the yawning
death ovens.
Those skeletons who remained
now make a
feast of memories
that recounts how sharing
tales of food and love-filled suppers
defied the Nazi
plan for their demise
so we will not forget how
bravery fed body and soul.

Joe Milosch

Joe Milosch Homeplate Was the Heart & Other Stories was nominated for the American Book Award and the Eric Hoffer, best Small Press Publication, award. He has multiple nominations for the Pushcart, and his books of poetry are The Lost Pilgrimage Poems and Landscape of a Woman and a Hummingbird. Pudding Magazine published “Schooled.” 2021

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Joe Milosch and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Schooled

In the sixth grade, Sister Jane Leo showed a film
about the Holocaust. At recess, I kept looking
at my hand. I couldn’t stop my thoughts about the tips
of fingers poking from the ground as a dozer pushed
a wave of dirt over it. No one parted the earth
to give a helping hand as the dust slowly settled.

After school, I walked onto the dock and laid belly down
on its wood planks. As the lake air chilled me,
I pictured a boxcar of cloth stars, pinned on shoulders
in the shadows. Drawing circles in the lake,
I watched the ripples form a water-ring chain
and smelled spring, rising along the shore.

Between the beach and me, one bluegill guarded
its saucer-like nest of stones. Beneath me swam
a few striped perch. Orbiting the dock’s drum pillars,
a school of sunfish flashed their orange bellies.
I was about to slap the water when a pike
shot out from the lake’s depth.

It scattered the perch, sunfish, and bluegill.
Without names to be remembered by,
they swam forward then backward.
In their voiceless frenzy, their cries went unheard
as they milled defenseless without hands.

Jon Wesick

Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories. Jon is the author of the poetry collections Words of Power, Dances of Freedom, and A Foreigner Wherever I Go as well as several novels and short story collections. His most recent novel is The Enigma Brokers. Visit Jon on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Jon Wesick and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Poppies of Treblinka

drink sunshine like the pale, naked skin
of daughters huddled hands over breasts and thighs.
Fire-red petals flicker in a breeze that supports
the screams of husbands and sons, first in the showers.
Daisies and cornflowers too bloom beside rusty barbed wire,
the path to death runny with the loose stools of the terrified.

Trains of stinking, crowded cattle cars come and go
unobstructed by the ten thousand grasses. Galaxies
wheel through the vast cosmos, unconcerned
with the necklace of teardrops, each reflecting the others.
A man with pliers yanks gold from dead mouths. We’ve yet
to extract screams that can cross light years of empty space.

Summer clouds roil into a giant Buddha preaching
the perfection of this instant. Is that thunder
or rifle shots I hear? The birds of thought
leave no trace in the sky, but what of the stupa
of black, oily smoke rising from burning flesh?
Tell me, can this meditation cushion
survive the crematorium fire?
If not, how can I set it anywhere?

 

“Poppies” appeared in Backstreet Quarterly Review, #17 in April 2008.

Judith R. Robinson

Judith R. Robinson, Pittsburgher, is a visual artist, editor, teacher and poet. A 1980 summa cum laude graduate, the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 75+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited/co-edited eleven poetry collections. Teacher: Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. “Speak, Speak,” poetry of Gene Hirsch, is her newest edited collection, 2020, Cyberwit Press. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry, 2018, by Blue Unicorn Journal. Visit Judith on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Judith R. Robinson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Picnic At Belarus

1.

The children are there, too.
Some know the Beethoven,
Others are bored.

Late afternoon: they march around.
Imitate the soldiers.
The parents lay out the picnic.
The wursts and cabbage. The clamor for sweets.


2.
This was the verdant east,
murder fields different than the west;
The children accept it,
Keep their thoughts to themselves.
Rat-a-tat! Rat-a-tat!
They fall down brilliantly.


3.
Costly: one vital metal bullet per Jew.
Newly found, an addendum to the story.
Torn hankies wipe the milky mouths;
The real hand waves goodbye again.

 

First Publication: Jewish Literary Journal, Issue 70, April 2019

Judy Koren

Judy Koren grew up in England and after a degree in English literature immigrated to Israel, where she was a freelance information analyst. She returned to her first love, poetry, after retiring. She is currently President of the Israeli English-language poetry society, Voices Israel, and also manages its website. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies including The Deronda Review, the Voices Israel Anthology, Better than Starbucks, the Taj Mahal Review, The Road Not Taken, and the light-verse online quarterly Lighten Up Online. She lives in Haifa.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Judy Koren and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

German vacation

Munich. Empty hotel lobby.
You head for the room, but tour brochures
beckon to me from their wooden stand,
rustle, whisper in a chill breeze
eddying past the door.

Castle, city and shopping tours,
a half-day Dachau tour which somehow
doesn’t mention Jews; and a pub crawl,
in German only, this one, for the locals:
“drink where Hitler drank, follow the monster’s
footsteps, see the bars he frequented” —
so clearly intended for those to whom
he was not a monster.

They have survived, these residues
of old loves, old hatreds,
fire-birds risen from my people’s ashes,
ambassadors of a past that to some
eternally beckons. The city is suddenly
thick with ghosts, the air with emotions.
I am glad you do not like guided tours
or understand German.

Later, fleeing the veneration of
the Nibelungenlied along the Rhine,
after Walpersberg, on reaching Dresden,
I decide that enough is enough
and although you had promised to show me Berlin
we turn right, to the safety of Prague.

 

Originally published in the Voices Israel Anthology, vol. 46, 2020.

KJ Hannah Greenberg

Jerusalemite KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her most recent poetry collection is Rudiments (Seashell Books, 2020), her most recent essay collection is Simple Gratitudes (Propertius Press, 2020), her most recent short story collection is Demurral: Linens, and Towel and Fears (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2020), and her most recent photography collection is 20/20 KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel (Camel Saloon, 2015). Visit here on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by KJ Hannah Greenberg and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Clarity about Cultural Goings-On

Clarity about cultural goings on forces weak, timid, or bland others
To consider that personal traits, (versus important, stylized language,)
Remain unfitting for social significance, calamari, tough love, peace.

After all, providing sound content, that is distributing ideas responsibly,
Can’t guarantee any suspend beliefs or provide actors with good roles;
Folks tend to integrate sonorous soundings when local turtle doves call.

In a best case scenario, deeds that are phenomenon-oriented get cast
As cerise marvels, capable of assigning civility or merit points later.
Consider that terribly unassuming individuals willingly accept bribes.

Abjuring no-good-nicks causes needless, excruciating opprobrium.
Yet, never ought we to forget why we’ve gotten exiled, or overlook
Collective guilt. There’s meaning in the throes of most upset teens.

Documentable acts of kindness might greatly improve cast stories
If computers offered the wider world versions of concord, and figs.
Elsewise, we’ll remain short on divine tasks, fail our outsized empire

Larissa Shmailo

Larissa Shmailo is a poet, novelist, translator, editor, writing coach, and critic. She is the author of two novels and five collections of poetry. Shmailo’s poetry albums are The No-Net World and Exorcism, for which she won the New Century Best Spoken Word Album award. Shmailo is the original English translator of Victory over the Sun performed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Shmailo also edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry (Big Bridge Press). Shmailo leads the workshop Writing Resilience for people affected by trauma, addiction, and/or mental illness. Visit Larissa on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Larissa Shmailo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

For Holocaust Remembrance Day, “Kalinivka, Prmysl, Dora”

Kalinivka
Kalinivka, Kalinivka: The ground over the mass graves is hard, the soft grass grows. The Ukrainian Guard, boy and girl, make love, happy to be alive. In the Ukraine, collectivized, they walked on corpses. And the Germans alone protest, her father tells the girl. Siberia, purges. Like the Irish, their parents collaborate; Hitler fights the Russian and English masters of their rural lands. Now here, Kalinivka. The mass graves crack with green life. 1941 is forgotten in the summer of ’43. She is 19, pregnant soon.

Prymsl
By1943, the ghetto holds the few not deported, living in tunnels, basements, caves, the hiding ones, the ones who know. All the rest to camps in Poland, Germany, or dead. The boy no longer likes the girl, but through her, he got his Kapo job. Even his mother says, marry. Have a child. The female Kapo bears a boy through the camps, Prymsl, through the unknown tombs of Poland, the unmarked graves, the walls marked with Jewish blood, the bloody broken nooses, the dark rain. She wants the boy to marry her, he makes excuses, says, the Germans won’t permit. That the child will die soon after the war, that she will beat her head upon the grave until it bleeds, that sorrow is unknown. The death of the Jewish children is unseen. Poland is always green.

Dora
Germany, Harz Mountains. The Germans turn now, now SS. The war is failing. Fewer the slaves to command, the girl, heavy with child, translates, working, starving, carried in rail carts for miles to build the V-2s. A rachitic Jewess cleans the barracks, the boy’s eye turns, with pity, with lust; he gives her bread. From Erfurt to the extension camp, Buchenwald’s new Dora, Northausen. Here they spare the rope to hang. All are hungry, the Germans too. The Allies bomb the industrial camp. Liberation. Rows of corpses, the eternal rows, line Northausen. The Germans are forced to respect the dead. Kalinivka, Prymsl, the unseen dead, now here in respectful symmetry, no longer piled in heaps, but rectangular, marked. The flowers grow, the burghers sing, “After every December, there comes a new spring.”

 

Published in Big Bridge, War Papers edited by Halvard Johnson, 2009

Lennie Cox

Lennie Cox edits A Day’s Encounter (adaysencounter.wordpress.com). She lives somewhere in Midwest, America.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Lennie Cox and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Woman With Me

I wear the tattoo engraved on my forearm
Proudly—for I survived and many of my sisters
Survived with me: We learned quickly
The rules of the camp, the evil and the enemies,
How to hide each other in times of urgency
And how to share our lives and spirits with each other.

Nothing was easy in the camps, and there was suffering,
But we had Torah to get us through nights of jagged horror
And prayer to hold onto our skin and hearts.
We were strong—yes, very strong—and it was this strength
Running through us that made us stronger.
Together we helped each other through the madness.

Remember always the small girls we hid in our hearts
And today they are women who remember us for our gifts
Of soul and spirit and love to a living God who did watch over us.

Margo Perin

Margo Perin’s publications include Plexiglass; The Opposite of Hollywood; Only the Dead Can Kill: Stories from Jail; and How I Learned to Cook & Other Writings on Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships. She is poet of San Francisco’s public memorial Spiral of Gratitude and the Sonoma Regional Coordinator for California Poets in the Schools. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Margo has been featured in national and international media, including NPR, BBC News, BBC World Service Outlook, O, The Oprah Magazine, Heyday/PEN’s Fightin’ Words, The Press Democrat, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mexico’s El Petit Journal, Holland’s Psychologie and TV and radio. www.margoperin.com

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Margo Perin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Why Are the Lilacs Still Here When Everyone’s Gone?

A writing class of grandmothers, Jewish Community Center
Winter wind rattling windows
Julia, pen in hand, hungry to tell her story

Auschwitz-Birkenau: one teenager in a long line of Jews
Julia’s mother and little sister kicked to one side
She the other
It was Himmler you know, she says
Numbly watching her mother and sister vanish
The sound of marching boots

Julia huddled, nameless days by the barracks door
What are you doing there?
Asked a compatriot
Waiting for my mother and sister
The woman pointed to smoke trailing into the sky
What do you think that is?

A fellow villager forced raw potato into her mouth
Staunching the reverse flow of her life
Day after day women toiling in stink and mud
Shovels and claws, endlessly moving stones
­—the strength of labor matched only by the paucity of potato—
Days, weeks, a month out on the sodden field
Julia a sack of bones and stones

One day a square of sunlight appeared in the mud
Against endless clanging of metal against stone
As long as I keep looking at that patch of light, thought Julia
I will survive

And she did

All we need:
One patch of sunlight

Martina Robles Gallegos

Martina was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States at 14. She attended California State University, Northridge and became a bilingual elementary school teacher. She suffered a work injury in 2012, followed by a near fatal hemorrhagic stroke and got a Master’s degree from Grand Canyon University and started publishing after surviving her stroke. Her works have appeared in the Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015, Spirit Fire Review, Silver Birch Press, Central Coast Poetry Shows, PSH, Poets Responding to SB1070, and Hometown Pasadena. She lives in Oxnard, CA.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Martina Robles Gallegos and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Survivors

With tears in their sunken eyes, they talk about their childhood lost,
thanks to a madman hungry for a supreme race that would never happen,
without the loss of millions of lives and the scorn of the world.

Survivors meet again seventy plus years later and show the Star of David,
still imprinted on their skin, sign of the unwanted and the battle for survival,
a final sign of their courageous escape from death.

Guilt-ridden survivors now go around telling their collective stories to those who still doubt
the existence of the Holocaust, but which they lived, survived, and now carry with them
to the deepest depths of the human mind, to discourage its repeat.

Mary Langer Thompson

Mary Langer Thompson’s poems appear in various journals and anthologies. She is a contributor to two poetry writing texts, The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009) and Women and Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland, 2012), was the 2012 Senior Poet Laureate of California, and recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A retired principal and former secondary English teacher, Langer Thompson received her Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles. She enjoys conducting writing workshops in her Apple Valley community and High Desert where she won the 2019 Jack London Award from the California Writers Club.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Mary Langer Thompson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Committee of Transportation Examines My Crimes

Like reading war before peace
or maybe peace and then war
while trying to see both sides
so that I’m so confused I can’t commit
to the Nasty Women or the Total Women
even in the shower by myself
while water washes away the dirt
from my naked body
clogging my usually sieve-like brain.
even though Daffy Duck’s demon sits
on one smooth shoulder
and his angel on the other,
whispering…
Oh, multitudinous me!

Over soup at lunch my friend tells
of meeting the man from Czechoslovakia
who talked of how they kept telling themselves,
no big deal—just sew on and wear
a little yellow star.
Just go along, they’d still have each other—
until they didn’t, and rode the packed train
like cattle and when they got off
and asked directions
the guard pointed to the smoke
escaping from the stacks, and said
There’s your parent.

Michael H. Brownstein

Michael H. Brownstein’s latest volumes of poetry, both published be Cholla Needles Press are A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love? (2019). Brownstein presently lives in Jefferson City, Missouri.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael H. Brownstein and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Rodie Edmonds

When they came for us in a camp called Ziegenhain,
our Master Sergeant stopped them: We are all Jews here,
he said. a simple statement. You are prisoners of war.
We need to move you and your men, the commandant answered.
The Jews stay. He had his weapon drawn, his men with him.
Then we stay, our leader replied. We are all Jews.
In anger, the commandment forced us to gather and watch.
Tell me where the Jews are or you’re a dead man.
Our leader was calm: Then I’m a dead man.
He turned and faced the gun pointing at his head.
Did you ever see a balloon deflate without a popping?
That’s what happened next–the commandant changed,
his face etched with anger, a point of hysteria,
then he shrugged, dropped his arm to his side,
turned to his men and ordered them to leave.
Shortly thereafter, they abandoned the camp,
the war almost over, Germans everywhere realizing defeat.
They left us behind. When we left, we did as Jews.
Now, years later, I remember him with every breath,
every child, every grandchild, every great grandchild
and he is forever and always in my prayers.

Michael Burch

Michael R. Burch lives in Nashville, Tennessee. His poems have been published by hundreds of literary journals, taught in high schools and colleges, translated into fourteen languages, and set to music by twelve composers. Frantisek “Franta” Bass was a Jewish boy born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1930. When he was 11, his family was deported by the Nazis to Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt. Franta lived there under terrible conditions for three years. He was then sent to Auschwitz, where he was murdered at age 14. Visit Michael on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Burch and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Auschwitz Rose

There is a Rose at Auschwitz, in the briar,
a rose like Sharon’s, lovely as her name.
The world forgot her,
……………………………and is not the same.
I still love her and enlist this sacred fire
to keep her memory exalted flame
unmolested by the thistles and the nettles.

On Auschwitz now the reddening sunset settles …
They sleep alike—diminutive and tall,
the innocent, the “surgeons.”
…………………………………….Sleeping, all.

Red oxides of her blood, bright crimson petals,
if accidents of coloration, gall
my heart no less.
…………………….Amid thick weeds and muck
there lies a rose man’s crackling lightning struck:
the only Rose I ever longed to pluck.
Soon I’ll bed there and bid the world “Good Luck.”

Michael Estabrook

Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019). He lives in Acton, Massachusetts.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Estabrook and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Beyond Understanding

We have visited Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam
the Holocaust Museums in New York and Washington DC
and while living in Belgium –
the Dachau, Mauthausen, and Breendonk concentration camps
and these days I watch numerous documentaries
about Hitler and the Nazis
and all because I am trying to understand
even marginally
the mindless horror of it all
can’t believe the power they had over so many people
can’t understand how they could’ve perpetrated
such unspeakable evil
on other human beings and the world.
But no matter how many camps and museums I visit
or documentaries I study
I’ll never truly understand because some things
are simply not meant to be understood.

Milton P. Ehrlich

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. (Leonia, New Jersey) is an 89-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published poems in Poetry Review, The Antigonish Review, London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and the New York Times.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Milton P. Ehrlich and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Nazis in my class

In 1940, two snarly classmates, George Larosa and Lawrence Marrineli,
joined the German American Youth Bund so they could dress like storm troopers
and sing “Deutschland Uber Alles”— which still rings in my ears.

Marinelli’s parents kept a banner of the 22,000 American Nazis
who gathered at Madison Square in February of ‘39
that read “Stop Jewish Domination of Christian Americans!”

The classmates weren’t even German, and had to lie about their ancestry
to join the “Friends of the New Germany” and attend Camp Siegfried in Yaphank, N.Y.
They must have figured if Hitler was good enough for Mussolini,
he was good enough for them.

These kids were brainwashed to promote antisemitism.
As the Chief Justice of the student-run Supreme Court
and the only Jew in our school, I was a conspicuous target for their rage.

After school, I ran as fast as I could—hitching a ride on the back of a trolley car
that ran down Fresh Pond Road. I evaded them by running in the back door
of my grandma’s dry good store on Grand Avenue.

To make matters worse, they were jealous of the beautiful Natalia
who liked to corner me with her prematurely prominent bosoms.
I never ran away from her.

Michael Strosahl

Michael E. Strosahl lives in Jefferson City, Missouri where he co-hosts a monthly critiquing group when he is home from driving a semi for a living. His work has recently appeared in the Tipton Poetry Journal, Polk Street Review, Last Stanza Journal and online at Medusa’s Kitchen and every Wednesday at Moristotle & Company.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Strosahl and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Sonderkommando

You already know these things.
You already know how families
were packed breathless,
lungs expanded by gloom
as they descended the cattle cars.
You already know choices are not choices
at the wrong end of a gun
and the lucky among us
were those already facing the mud.

By force volunteered
to prepare for the showers,
to clean up when all went silent,
to take carts loaded
and spill them into the pits.
We did what had to be done.
When the holes were filled,
we dug more.
When those full
we reloaded carts,
rolled them to the incinerators
took bones to the grinders.

You already know these things.
You already know how many died
for the sin of birth,
the sin of mothers and fathers,
forefathers,
Jacob, Isaac and Abraham.

But some of us were held back
from the immediacy of death
only to live every second
with its burn in our nostrils,
comforting new arrivals,
helping them into the showers,
lying to the children,
those little girls crying and naked,
telling them to stay calm,
everything would be just fine
after they wash up.

At the end, some of us survived.
At the end, some of us
walked away from hell,
from the black smoke of the furnaces,
black smoke that stained our lungs
so that all we could breathe
still reminds us.

You already know all these things.
You already know
how we wished we were dead,
how we wished our faces
were pushed lifeless into the muck,
how we wish we could forget.

Nancy Scott

Nancy Scott is the author of 12 books of fiction and poetry. She has also served as managing editor of US1 Worksheets for 16 years. She resides in Lawrenceville, NJ.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Nancy Scott and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Outside Rear Steps

The iceman often came down those rear steps,
empty tongs slung over his shoulder,

while Mother, heavy with groceries,
and I pressed on the railing to let him pass.

Two flights to the top. Afraid if I got dizzy
or my shoes misbehaved, I could easily slip

between the boards and crash, a wingless
sparrow, onto the garbage cans in the alley.

When I made it to the landing, nothing
to see but a field of weeds and junked cars.

My two great-grandmothers, black dress
and shoes. Gray bun neatly pinned,

hugged us in Yiddish that floated
beyond me. The kitchen smelled of cabbage

and unopened windows. While Mother
restocked shelves, I escaped to the only

other room to explore. Two beds,
white spreads, and on the carved dresser,

a glass tray with powder puffs, a brush,
hairpins, a few coins. Faded photos. A letter.

Why did they live in this musty apartment
when we had a big house and a maid?

At the oil-cloth table, I dunked hard
cookies in cold milk, waited for Mother

to stop gabbing and fold next week’s list
into her purse. As each grandmother kissed

my forehead, I felt on my arm the hungry grip
of her hand, her thin bones wrapped in

speckled skin. For a moment we were bound
by the only familiar we would ever know.

Nina Rubinstein Alonso

Nina Rubinstein Alonso’s work appeared in Ploughshares, The New Yorker, Ibbetson Street, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, etc. Her book This Body was published by David Godine Press, her chapbook Riot Wake is upcoming from Cervena Barva Press, and a story collection is in the works.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Nina Rubinstein Alonso and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Aunt Rose

Plants another lipstick kiss
on my cheek coaxing me not to be
a shy little pixie ‘come move
your feet in those shiny patent shoes’

because it’s a wedding celebration and
I’m in a peach blouse matching
my girl cousins with identical navy skirts
let them yank me into

their hopping bouncing dance
Aunt Rose out-sparkling everyone
with a flashy diamond watch
rhinestone glasses wide hands

glowing in rings her blue dress
a glittering ship of sequins
shinier than all the other relatives
even my pretty mother who’s talking

with family we never see except at festivals
to laugh or shiva to cry though some
I’ve never met before a smiling
great uncle didn’t catch his name

who doesn’t speak English only Polish
Yiddish Russian Spanish and some
Portuguese as he moved to Brazil after
surviving the pogrom that murdered

millions of families including ours
but auntie’s pulling him from his chair
because they’re playing Havah Nagilah
keeps saying ‘let’s rejoice!’

 

First published in Ibbetson Street # 48, 2020

Partha Sarkar

Partha Sarkar writes poems being inspired by his elder brother late Sankar Sarkar and Shambhu Sakar and his friends to protest against the social injustice and crime against nature. He believes in revolution thought often he gets confused. He lives in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, India.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Partha Sarkar and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The saliva on the way to the revolution

The saliva on the way to the revolution
Does the sum to befool the headless
While whine on the bastard army’s boots
To curb the skulls when the digital ration cards
Below poverty line want to say something as to
The open door
The sick leave
The morbid lunch
But cannot
As smells suddenly the gas chamber
The identity of the Gestapo
And kills the green rest
Snatching the photosynthesis from the twigs
And allows the rest to be brown
Under the icy sun.
Sees it the last chapter of holocaust
Yet, smiles on the guillotine.

Never does take the lesson the last drop of death
How to be reborn
As it likes to be petrified
Even in the attire of the pimp.

Patrice Wilson

Patrice M. Wilson is a retired English professor living in Mililani, Hawaii. She has been published in several journals, and has one full-length poetry collection, Hues of Darkness, Hues of Lightwith eLectio Publishing, and 3 chapbooks with Finishing Line Press. She loves poetry, art, anything creative that draws from human experience, from the religious and spiritual, to the strange and often harrowing events of history.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Patrice Wilson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Something Always about to Happen

My mind, a sensor of complexities,
is nothing but a camera tonight.

Jump cut.

A ballerina in black
balances her whole life
on the small circle of her shoe,
foot slightly arched,
calves and thighs taut,
back straight as an arrow
in an unseen bow
pulled tight faster
than the eye can see. There should be others
dancing, but the camera’s only on her—

Jump cut.

A calloused hand holds the knob
on the door outside my room,
a stranger I know only
from history, tight-lipped,
eyes clear, cold and small.
He has turned red from eons of light,
but it is night now and yet his black fedora
is pulled low over his forehead.

Jump cut. Close-up.

In his other hand, tiny replicas
of Auschwitz, Janowska, Treblinka,
buildings but no people.

The camera’s stuck, his hand closes,
replicas edges cut him;
he bleeds, but only a little.

Jump cut.

A black cat is sleeping on my bed,
pulsing with tense half-wildness.

Jump cut.

Against a green curtain a soliloquist
dressed in red. I can see his decision,
he is poised to speak,
when he looks at me for a moment
and we are both deathly silent.

Philip Wexler

Philip Wexler lives in Bethesda, Maryland.  He has had over 170 poems published in magazines. His collections of poetry, The Sad Parade (prose poems), and The Burning Moustache were published in November, 2019 and June, 2020 respectively by Adelaide Books. Another poetry collection, The Lesser Light, will be published in 2021 by Finishing Line Press. He also organizes Words out Loud, a spoken word series, at Glen Echo Park in Maryland, lately presented remotely via Zoom.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Philip Wexler and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Night of Down

(Berlin – November 9, 1938)

The feathers, the down, more
than anything else, I remember.

Historians these days they talk only
about shattered glass, official havoc,

sanctioned confusion,
an incessant din. Yes, maybe

we heard some breaking, shouting,
faintly from the main streets.

But the neighbors who dropped by
without knocking, using, we were sure,

a master key from the none too friendly
landlord, spoke little, broke no glass.

The clatter they made pulling out
drawers and overturning tables was faint.

Softer still were the sounds of the quilts,
blankets, and pillows they ripped.

This part they undertook with gusto.
They were like children, shaking fluff

from room to room, down hallways
and stairs, out the windows

of our apartment to blanket
the streets, a softly falling snow.

In my life, I never paid any mind
to the insides of our bedding,

but that night, after we gave up
pleading with them to stop,

we stood aside, spectators,
and I mourned

{continued}

the slaughter of all the geese
I ever ate. This scattered plumage,

their coats in life, was the filling
we slept on and underneath as,

on other occasions we stuffed
their bare-skinned bodies destined

for roasting with chestnuts and prunes,
all for our ultimate consumption,

which I now can’t help but regret.
Poor fowl, sustaining us with their lives,

their downfall and ours. The neighbors
shook hands for a job rightly done, and left,

returning to their reign of indifference.
No storm troopers these; just simple folk.

Once the flurries subsided, my husband
pressed his forehead against the upper pane

of the cold kitchen window, his eyes shut.
Our son, I released from the foyer closet.

He ran about, joyfully tossing as good as
weightless white clusters over his head,

exclaiming that it was a blizzard
and racing out to lasso in his friends.

I sat on the floor in a drift,
feeling what it’s like to be plucked

when there are no more
feathers to give.


Night of Down previously appeared in Other Voices, 142(2):58-9, Winter 2001 and subsequently in the collection, The Burning Moustache(Adelaide Books. 2019).

Retshepisitswe Makhatha

Retshepisitswe Makhatha was born in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. He studied English Literature and Psychology at Rhodes University and graduated in 2014. He has been published in Ons Klynti, Praxis Magazine online, The Kalahari Review, Poetry Potion, Poetica Magazine, and Stanzas. He won 4th place in the Avbob National Poetry Competition 2018 in South Africa. He is also featured in the Ons Klynti Audio Project 2019. In 2020, he was offered the chance to be one of only six commissioned poets to contribute to the 2021 Avbob National Poetry Competition anthology but due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to accept the offer.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Retshepisitswe Makhatha and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Etch Marks

Why do they paint their intentions on

a canvas of

flesh and sinew?

On the bare backs of black
s
are the etch marks -

fire-brands and whips

carved into skin like hieroglyphs

on the walls of pyramids -

telling stories of our intercontinental odysseys.

Why do they poison

minds with fabrications

and grandstanding?

Goebbels accused the Jews

of being rats in the streets

and McCarthy condemned red witches

without evidence

of treason

Not knowing that deep in Africa

real witches play with lightning like spears.

Why do they feast on the decaying

names of our deceased

ancestors?

Pouring lye after lye (lie after lie)

on the legacies of our clansmen.

Why?

Why do they negate our traditions

rituals

history

and forget that their cities were seedlings

before our broken bones nourished the Earth

their cities were built on?

Our marrow is the lifeblood

of their civilizations

and their buildings

are the tombstones upon our unmarked graves.

Richard Widerkehr

Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in Poetry Super Highway, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and others.  He earned his M.A. from Columbia University, won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan, three Sue Boynton awards, and first prize for short story at the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Conference. His latest book is At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag). Others include In The Presence Of Absence (MoonPath Press), Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press), The Way Home (Plain View Press), and a novel, Sedimental Journey (Tarragon Books).  He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Richard Widerkehr and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

“Devereux”

– letter to E.

When I read that poem where your mother-in-law said, You’ve always
been a little Jew about the waist, I think of my Grandpa and Baba
on Coney Island—clotheslines, smell of asphalt in the heat.

They spoke Yiddish. No, I didn’t think we yet; my sister
and I didn’t want to be too Jewish. The mannequins
in Grandpa’s office fixtures shop on Broome Street,

Lower East Side. Fuh-GET-about-it, said my cousin
Judy, who built her mansion in Jersey with breezeways.
What a word. Breezeway. In college, I used a pen name,

Devereux, a cigarette man on a black op, noble, a bit dishabille,
half-hidden like sun in smoke from wild fires on the hills.
When I read Nietzsche, my father said, The Nazis

got a lot from him, like your mom’s mother, that anti-Semite…
My mom who converted to keep the peace
said, Stupidest thing I ever did. On a hot day in July,

I walked uphill and converted. He said his parents
would sit shiva if I didn’t. Years later, he said, ‘No,
that never would’ve happened.’

Yes, something burning, this cargo of coal smoldering.
It was all a dance, said Judy, a fire dancer
on no meds who went down in her own flames.

Like you, she had a coat of no opprobrium
she performed in. At age 65, I got my adult Bar Mitzvah.
My 95-year-old mother said, Remember,

you’re half-Christian. I said nothing, Erin,
but thought No. Maybe,
she was right.


The above poems was previously published in Jeopardy.

Rohini Sunderam

An advertising copywriter for ‘what feels like a hundred years’, Rohini has written ad copy for films, radio, and print, in India, Bahrain and Canada. She wrote two books that were commissioned assignments as part of her professional work. Her articles have been published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India; The Globe and Mail, Canada and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada. And she is the author of four books: Desert Flower under the pen name Zohra Saeed, Five Lives One Day in Bahrain, Corpoetry and Twelve Roses for Love. Although a Canadian, she lives in Bahrain. Visit Rohini on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Rohini Sunderam and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I am not a Jew

I am not a Jew
So how could I possibly know
The dull ache that stays
With you for all the families
The roots, lost memories
Lost histories
That you have known?
And yet
You have managed
To weave a narrative
With whispers of the past
Stories and memorials
Edged in blood and pain
Biting cold and hollow hunger.
All threaded not so neatly
Into your tapestry
So many rough-edged flaws
Zig-zagging through the smooth
Warp and weft of your collective loom.
And because of that
Although I am not a Jew
I am able to touch, to feel
A minuscule drop of that loss.
It tugs at my heart
And with you in unison I say
For Yom Hashoah
Your Holocaust Remembrance Day
“It must not happen…
Never, ever, ever, again.”
Shalom. Ameen. Amen.

Rolland Vasin

Rolland Vasin (aka Vachine), a third-generation American writer, published in several anthologies, author of Stitches & Scars, Poems Lummox Press 2021, features at local venues and reads at Open-Mics from Coast to Coast. He teaches poetry to prison inmates and middle schoolers. The L.A. Laugh Factory’s 1992 3rd funniest CPA and member of the Branch Thespians improvisational theater ensemble his day job includes auditing child and family missioned nonprofits. A resident of Santa Monica CA Vachine plays the guitar, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica but not simultaneously.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Rolland Vasin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

IAMsterdam

I saw the Dam, heavy stones and mortar,
set between tidal floods and canal-side houses.
For one home’s tour, I stood behind
two New Jersey Jewesses,
big dyed hair and diamonds.

Projected on the wall, an old newsreel,
a wave of Blackshirts marching in a stadium.
The Fuehrer’s thin arms flail above his podium.
On the opposite wall, the film’s flicker animates
Anne Frank’s portrait.

At my elbow, a toothy, blond,
blue-eyed son, cherub-white face,
Ranonkel on his nametag,
snaps a sieg-heil salute.

His teacher hurls a finger of scorn in his face.

Loose diamonds fall through the oven grate.
I can’t breathe for the odor of burnt hair.

Hard rain falls on me all day.
Copper gutters overflow.
Pallid gulls in Dam Square are soaked,
will not fly.

I cannot love Ranonkel, nor heard his water.
No other choice, but to pray for willingness,
to hold bricks in the dike against the next Shoah.


Source: Stitches & Scars, Poems L by Vachine,
Lummox Press January 8, 2021

Rosemarie Krausz

Rosemarie Krausz is a retired Canadian psychoanalyst living in Manotick (Ottawa) who recently obtained an MFA in poetry from Drew University.  She is a child of two Holocaust survivors.  Some of her poems appear online at poetrysuperhighway.com, in their 20th and 22nd Annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Poetry Issues, at jewishliteraryjournal.com (Issue 85), and in print in The Rewritten anthology.  She was a finalist for the Two Sylvias Press Wilder Prize (2020) for her manuscript of Holocaust poetry titled Black Milk.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Rosemarie Krausz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Begging His Way into the Camp

1
My father was the man who wasn’t there —
a Hungarian Jew who could translate German
for the Hungarians — to beg for his own admission
into Flossenbürg concentration camp

on his birthday, Christmas day, 1944.
The Germans didn’t want a dirty Jew
to soil their holy soil either, when he
had to relieve himself. Better to dump

the Jew into a camp where they could squeeze
one last burst of work from a fizzling firework
on his way to darkness. Squeeze him down
to sickness. Then turn him right for the gas.

2
Relieved of clothing    jewellery   rucksack   food.
Given prisoner’s striped garb, another
stripe shaved down the middle of his head
to identify him if he escaped.

If he wasn’t there, being a nobody,
he did not get beatings      in the shower.
He did not get beatings     after the shower.
He did not get beatings     back to the barracks

where a straw bed waited for him to share
with five others, where they all had to turn
in unison just to sleep on their other side.
No, he was not there. He was no one, nowhere.

3
Four months later, he was less than nothing.
They did not force him to walk a whole day’s walk
to Theresienstadt where model Jews pranced and prowled
in suits and fancy dresses, to fool the Red Cross.

He fooled no one when typhus felled him —
except the Nazis who dropped him onto a heap
of hundreds of dead bodies. But he fooled
himself when he woke up, saw the man

beside him stare at him nonstop.
Didn’t know the man was dead.
Didn’t fool the Red Cross.
This nobody

was pulled from the pile,
placed in a Russian hospital
to recover. This nobody,
delirious, did not even know

the war was over.

Susan Beth Furst

Susan Beth Furst is an award-winning Japanese short-form poet and Children’s picture book author. She has published three haiku collections: Souvenir Shop, Road to Utopia, and Neon Snow. Susan’s books for children include The Amazing Glass House and The Hole In My Haiku. Susan lives in Fishersville, Virgina, located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. You can find information about Susan’s books and future projects at PaperWhistlePress.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Susan Beth Furst and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

in Ghetto

she dreams of flying . . .
no barbed wire
at night

 

David Labkovski Project Holocaust Commemoration Program, April 2020, Official Online Journal

Sarah L. Hawes-Hernandez

Sarah L. Hawes-Hernandez has worn many hats, but none has meant as much to her as writer. After earning a bachelor’s degree in management, she took a bold step in pursuit of her dream of becoming a full-time writer in 2012, applying and gaining acceptance to the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University, graduating in 2015. These days, she spends her time writing and researching her first novel, due to be completed later this year. Residing in Rockford, Illinois, Sarah is married and enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Sarah L. Hawes-Hernandez and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

We were children


s

My mother calls me and I run laughing out the door,
I am weightless, impatient, I cannot be constrained. I skip
towards the trees, I want to scale their twisted limbs to the tippiest top.
There I am a King and a Lord, and no one can reach me.

*

My father’s hand holds mine and I am nine feet tall.
His latest gift, a little chestnut mink stole, encircles my shoulders, just
like Savta! He walks beside me, his step shortened to mine,
waving at each person we pass down the broad boulevard.

*

I did it! I did it as I fall flat on my rump. I am a big boy now, I took my first
step! Soon, I will walk like Mama and Papa do, soon I will run and jump. For now, I
reach for the table to pull myself up. I did it! I did it! Now I will do it again.

*

The new boy is here, he has red hair. I’ve never felt like this before.
My heart races, I can’t focus. Is he looking at me? I want to talk to him,
But instead. I sneak glances his way, hoping he will come to me. 

*

The Yad slips in my sweaty grasp and I nearly drop it. Where was I? Oh yes,
I found my place. Am I doing this right? I don’t want to mess up. My
Abba is watching, my Ema is crying. I can feel myself growing up.

*

Papa says my bridge is the finest he’s ever seen. Such strength, such
stability, an elephant would not fall through. I don’t know if I believe him,
it’s only matchsticks and glue. But someday, just maybe, I can build
a real one of steel. Do they let girls build bridges?

*

E minor, G Sharp, A flat, the mischievous notes frolic in my mind,
the chords soaring and dipping, even the birds are jealous.
My eyes close, my fingers dance on the edge of my desk. I can’t wait to get home.

*

I am lost in another world, full of elves and fairies. A world I have created
in the pages of my diary. I sometimes escape there, when the world around
me grows dark and frightening. Mother says it won’t last, but I don’t believe her.

*

I can’t wait to grow up, I have so much to do. I want to take a train from one end
of Europe to the other. I want to see America. I want to go to university to study science.
I want to have children of my own.

*

Mama says I can do anything. So, I’ve decided I will study the stars.
I already know all the locations of the constellations. Cassiopeia is my favorite.
I really can do anything. I can be a doctor, a scientist, a sculptor,
a writer, a teacher, anything at all. I have so many things I still want
to do. Mama, why won’t they give us any water? I’m cold, Papa.
Please, I want to go home. I want to grow up.

Tina Hacker

A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Tina Hacker is happy to announce that Kelsay Books will be publishing her collection of poems, GOLEMS, in June 2021. The poems are based on the golem character from Jewish folklore. Tina has authored two previous collections of poetry: Listening to Night Whistles published by Aldrich Press and Cutting It, by The Lives You Touch Publications. Since 1976, she has been the poetry editor of Veterans’ Voices, a magazine of writing by military veterans. Tina lives in Leawood, KS, with her husband Lynn Norton who is a sculptor and excellent editor.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Tina Hacker and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

A Golem* Delivers

Task: Save a child.

Can a golem be conjured from the womb?
No, of course not.
But when Jacob was born,
a small golem appeared in his parents’ yard
behind some bushes.
He looked like Jacob’s twin,
same nose, eyes, wisps of hair.
Except he was still. No baby cries,
no arms waving, exploring, discovering.

As Jacob grew,
so did his golem twin, always silent.
Both reached their fifth birthdays in 1939.
Dangerous times in Prague
after Kristallnacht in Germany.
Rumors became real;
death loitered in corners
waiting to leap out,
clasp Jews who walked by.

Jacob’s parents hid him behind a dresser
when the Nazis arrived.
As they smashed furniture,
Jacob’s mother cried out.
The boy was discovered.
Destination for all,
the Theresienstadt ghetto,
a stop on the way to killing camps.
Outraged, the golem set a plot in motion.

All the city’s Jews were rounded up,
wailing, desperate to escape.
In the chaos, the golem
blurred the air around Jacob,
rendering him invisible to the guards.
Then whispered, “Run
as fast as you can
to the red brick house
around the corner.”

The golem’s plan flooded
the minds of the couple
living there. When they saw
Jacob quaking on their doorstep,
they were resolved
to rescue this Jewish child,
secure him a place
on a Kindertransport
convoy to Britain.

Jacob’s parents
were gassed. When they closed
their eyes for the last time,
they saw a vision
of their child escaping.
The final piece
of the golem’s scheme.
All three rested in peace.

*Part of Jewish folklore, a golem is a mud and dirt creature summoned from the earth to accomplish a task dictated by its creator. After fulfilling the task, the golem returns to the earth.

March 29 – April 4, 2021: Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan and Leslie Young

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Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry Super Highway, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. Visit Ryan on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Ryan Quinn Flanagan and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Office Christmas Party and a Stapler Named Hal

It was exactly two weeks after that office Christmas party
where Barb taught half of accounting and all of advertising
to do the jitterbug, that bartender they hired from the projects
so everyone would know who to blame if anything went missing
and the way the coat check girl seemed to be way more into coats
than the people who wore them and now I was standing at this desk
full of papers and a few personal knickknacks reading a single brown
swipe of tape across a stapler that read: Hal. Shuffling back between tired
aching feet as Cathy pulled something from the printer
that never seemed to stop, holding it to my face
so I could see what she had been trying to tell me all morning.

 

Wishy-Washy

I am that young child again.
Laying out on the floor in the laundry room.
In front of the washer and dryer.
Closing my eyes and listening to the wishy-washy
swishing of the washer as it fills with water and soap and churns.
My mother thinks it weird, but never asks.
Soon leaving and closing the door behind her.
I have always been hypnotized by both the sound of running water
and light industrial noises.
Laundry day offers both and my body slowly relaxes.
Laying out on the dirty basement linoleum.
Litter stones from passing cats through my hair.
Before that sudden tumbling warmth of the dryer.
My heavy dawdling eyes rolling around with each cycle.

Leslie Young

Leslie Young lives in Southern California with her wife and miniature poodle. She was a public school educator for 27 years and upon retirement, has returned to her other love –writing –as well as teaching education courses at Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University. She lived in France in the 1980s after completing her studies at UC Berkeley. She has published autobiographical narratives in the California Educator magazine, Danaid: An Anthology of Six Women Writers, Between Ourselves: Letters Between Mothers and Daughters, and Liaison, as well as in a number of small press publications.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Leslie Young and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Women of France

Claude

Claude
with the nose of a French king,
Louis XIV or XVI
looking down on those
she doesn’t know,
declaring
“They have an unusual marriage” or
“He’s a most interesting person,”
conceals what she really thinks
because manners matter.

Claude
who can quote Baudelaire or Molière
or La Bruyère or Camembert
like the plateau de fromage that’s brought out
at the end of every meal
with a bottle of Vieux Papes wine,
which she has heard is very good
even though it’s very ordinaire.

Claude
who always enters the Télérama trivia contest
“Which insect makes the best silk on earth?”
“When was Rabelais’ birth?”
Combing through her first editions, then
off to the bookstore to search,
turning her back to the world
because without the answers
nothing is in place.

Claude
who writes to Paule and Marinette in tiny script,
but doesn’t bother to include Paule’s frail sister,
needs space for two more lines,
better to write them sideways along the edge,
like saving a ball of yarn, an old hairbrush, a rusty skillet.
Can’t make up her mind what dress to wear,
finds an old one with a grease spot in front and
A cardigan with furballs.

Claude
who prepares
her itinéraire
in advance,
knows the Métro
Nation or Montparnasse,
inserts her ticket firmly
marches through the turnstile
tapping the platform in two-inch heels
her left eye discarding a tear
when the underground wind is too insistent.

Claude
who left her widowed mother
for a university degree
no need to live in her native town again,
who never speaks of men,
has always loved women
in her aloneness
dreams of sharing their beds and lives.
Une vieille fille
the neighbors whisper,
old maid,
she keeps walking.
One’s private life is sacrée in France.

Claude
who reads late and sleeps later,
listens to Radio France Inter
as she prepares
her tea and baguette in the kitchen.
Who, at 75, has earned her place,
a view of the Seine
through the open window.


Paule

Paule
digs a hole in the ground
behind the high-rise résidence,
plants a fleur-de-lys
the royal flower of Louis VII.
She hates all pretense, but
adores the pale sweet purple odor
of liberté.


Paule

rides her bicycle
in a life before,
fifteen kilometers
to the école primaire.
Here she teaches kindergartners
children of beet growers.
She must work
as there would be no husband to
take care of her.
She’d make sure of that.

Paule
rises at 6,
prepares a breakfast of biscottes et confiture for her frail sister,
washes the dishes in the sink,
showers in lukewarm water,
throws on a pair of Levis and rubber-soled sandals,
prepares a lunch of quiche lorraine
(again, for her frail sister),
practices Bach for her piano lesson,
speaks anglais with her English club,
reads a political article in Le Nouvel Observateur,
prepares a dinner of soupe a l’oignon
(again, for her frail sister),
watches the evening news on Antenne 2,
caresses her Siamese cat (le Chat),
hears Claude ask on the telephone,
“When are you coming up to stay with me in Paris?”
replies, “Not now.”
wishes her bonne nuit,


locks the metal shutters,
spread Le Roc moisturizer on her face,
slips under the duvet.

They all need her now:
le Chat
her frail sister
Claude
the fleur-de-lys
its petals swinging up
its roots locked away in the earth.

March 22-28, 2021: Poetry from Emily Black and Mario Vitale

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Emily Black

Emily Black acquired a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida, the second woman to do so. She went on to have a long career in this field, the only woman in a sea of men. Her love of nature and literature always prevailed. Emily has written her whole life, on scraps of paper grocery bags, or strolling a baby around after work. Her interest was reawakened by memory, and she’s been busy catching and taming the vignettes of her life.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Emily Black and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

At the Bombay Brasserie

Sitting in the Bombay Brasserie
on Hyde Park in London, we were being
entertained by one of my husband’s
middle eastern colleagues and his wife.

During dinner we had struck up
a conversation with a couple at the next
table. When they’d finished their meal,
the gentleman took out his pipe and lit it.

He happily shared it with his wife.
“Turkish Tobacco,” he said, “the best.”
As the waiter cleared our table, our host
pulled a pipe out of his jacket pocket.

His wife wiggled in anticipation. He handed it
to her, then he reached into another pocket to find
a second pipe for me. I puffed on it a couple of times
and got so high we almost missed the last train home.

Mario Vitale

Mario Vitale is a poet who developed a skill for writing poetry in the free verse form. He has been featured on Hubpages.com, Starlitecafe.com & Poetry soup. Vitale lives with his elderly mother Ann Soulier in Wolcott, Ct. Currently he has written well over 1,000 poems and two short stories.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Mario Vitale and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Blood On The Marquee

Blood On The Marquee
Savor host
Savior moist
Search within
thoughts of Rin Tin Tin
shallow peaks that stink
fall away from me
the clearance way from me;
within its love set free
shallow road where Chinese man pee
Blood on the marquee
water within the base of the tree
hoping someday my sweet would so kindly marry me
Blood on the marquee
some folks live in the land of make believe
source through shallow peaks
busy as a bee
come with source to marry me
unlock the key

Blood on the marquee
shallow pool with dreams;
base the pool filled with leaves;
chase back the hill one be willing to believe
blood on the marquee
see through the hills will follow me
lest, you never achieve
lobster with soda strange as getting to know you
words that clash
figure of speech
satin sheets
blood on the marquee
foreign lead
apple pie with ice cream
amuse the cat with sleeve

March 15-21, 2021: Poetry from Steve Black and Robert Baylot

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Steve Black

Until recently a road sweeper living within spitting distance of London, now looking for gainful employment. Published here and there, now and then.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Steve Black and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

tanka

another hell
what the neighbours
do or don’t think
her medicinal cup
half-empty

 

tanka

i trace the contours
of a weather worn map
from mountain to sea
a river
runs through my heart

 

tanka

the murder of crowds
i kept my distance
long before the plague
i told a psychiatrist one
but she’d heard it all before

 

sedoka

orders another drink
stays on his own
turns away from the tv
the beautiful game
claims he nearly made it once
then again didn’t we all

 

tanka

he wades the shallows
as he did a boy
waiting on the horizon
for his dead to return
they never do

Robert Baylot

Robert Baylot now writes from Germantown, TN, but was born in and lived most of his life in Vicksburg, Miss. Many hours were spent in the Vicksburg National Military Park which commemorates the long Civil War battle fought there. He has an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Southern Mississippi. A long time employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he has published poetry in Deep South, The Broad River Review, Clarion, the Delta Poetry Review, and other journals. His short fiction has appeared in The Blue Moon Literary and Art Review, Mysterical E, and Every Day Fiction.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Robert Baylot and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Grant’s Circle

(Vicksburg National Military Park)

Back past Graveyard Road,
Where one statue looks like Perry Como
And another is the gatekeeper from
The Wizard of Oz,

Past the memorial to African-American troops
And the local’s secret entrance,
You bicycle round the bend,
And there suddenly is Grant riding his horse.

You see first the horse’s bronze rump and tail,
Turn the slow curve,
Past where the rattlesnakes
Have been known to sun,

And honeysuckle and wisteria
Climb up from the gullies,
And you start the climb
Where Grant faces out from upon the hill.

He is surveying the troops,
Forever historical.
You speed up to climb the small incline,
Leaving Grant and his horse frozen forever.

 

Lightning at the Louisiana Monument

A Sunday afternoon, walking the park,
With my wife’s assurances that thunderstorms
Will blow over; we walk from the visitor center,
Through the arch, down and around,

Passing the Shirley house, the Illinois monument, and across
The dirt path, a remnant of Old Jackson Road,
Through its cut banks. After that, downhill and
Near the surrender point.

Clouds gather quickly above the
High peak of the Louisiana monument,
Itself a finger poking the clouds,
Reaching into the firmament.

Drizzles, more rain, we walk on,
Concerned now about lightning and thunder
Grumbling like distant cannon fire.
One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, we count the distance.

Progressing downhill, rounding a bend,
A hundred feet lower in elevation,
We are stuck in a battlefield, around us
The pounding of thunder in an echo.

Around us the lightning crackles
More powerfully than all of the battlefield’s cannons.
We are maybe two hundred yards away,
Looking back, having just escaped.

Rains now pelt the battlefield.
Though we were soaked, a driver picks us up
And returns us to the visitor center,
The portal back from the Civil War.

March 8-14, 2021: Poetry from Robert Wynne and Cameron Morse

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Robert Wynne

Robert Wynne earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.  A former co-editor of Cider Press Review, he has published 6 chapbooks, and 3 full-length books of poetry, the most recent being “Self-Portrait as Odysseus,” published in 2011 by Tebot Bach Press.  He’s won numerous prizes, and his poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies throughout North America.  He lives in Burleson, TX with his wife and 2 rambunctious dogs. Visit Robert on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Robert Wynne and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Minutes from the Committee on Beauty

Meeting called to order at sunrise.
Light burst from the horizon in ribbons

which lay stubbornly across the lectern
no matter how many times the Secretary

tried to brush them off. Last meeting’s minutes
included the voice of a river, the great face

of a clock-like moon, a live performance
of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, and

one possible answer to the question “Why?”
The names of the Muses were read aloud.

Earnest moved that we invite fire
to speak at our next meeting, dispel

some nasty rumors spread by wind.
Mildred seconded, and the motion carried.

A dove landed on the window ledge,
its shadow stretching all the way

to the open door. Homer moved that the sea
be given the floor, before realizing

it was roiling elsewhere. A red balloon
sank just low enough to be mentioned

in the minutes. The last motion of the day
came from Blanche, who suggested

nothing would ever be as stunning
as hundreds of ants working together

to carry an entire orange rind through
a hole in her fence. No one seconded.

A single bar of solid gold was used
as the group photo for the newsletter.

Meeting adjourned just as the bakery next door
pulled fresh rolls from their oven,

and even the stray dog padding by stopped
to watch each of us sink our teeth

into that bounty, his tongue hung in the air
like an offering, a plea.

 

Listening to Brad Mehldau

Every note falls
from his hands

like a question
or a challenge

to the rhythm section.
There is uncertainty

to melody, just as there is
in even the most well-planned

committee meeting.
I hadn’t expected a staccato refrain

would impinge upon the bridge,
but here it comes

backed by a tight snare,
a thumping bass, and the promise

that sound waves
emanating from a piano

will continue to vibrate
away from that moment

when a hammer
first struck taut wire

to signal the beginning
of everything

that hasn’t happened yet.

 

Elegy Working Two Jobs in Heaven

– for Delvin

Every morning now, you work restoring cars
for those who’ve been in heaven so long

they still envision the wet flanks of horses
when they crave the arc of a journey,

like we wish we could understand
endings – the way nothing prepares us

for memory being called into action
without a moment’s notice, and how

we always forget that rivers become
lakes and oceans when we believe

they’re gone. Everyone wants something
different, but you have an infinite supply

of accessories, and here in the birthplace of light
everything shines without polishing.

You smile and check your hair
in wheels that mirror this glittering place:

you’ve gone too long without a trim
but you’ve got to get to your other job

to teach programming to children
gifted with eternity early.

You introduce them to a system
which is universally compatible

and tell them to spend an hour
creating a database for their dreams.

You’ll be back, you say,
and slip out the bright door

to feel the wind between your fingers
as you drive the empty streets and realize

there’s so much left to do.

Cameron Morse

Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and two children in Independence, Missouri. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New LettersBridge EightPortland Review and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and serves as Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and Poetry editor at Harbor Editions. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Cameron Morse and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Temporal

My neurosurgeon:

temporal lobe
grade IV

*

In the temple the dark
chapel of cloudy
morning but also that other
world incessantly
set up against one that is
only temporary

I have a bone
to pick with you

*

Theo literally holding
himself, his pee

a very busy young man

*

Children sprout

from my seed
seedlings

stem cells
responsible for

a high rate
of recurrence

*

Thought you were a penne guy
now you’re going to go

full-blown rotini

*

Translating the hand
me down chains
of carbon from sausage

links into neuronal
currents the currencies
of language of

lightbulb!

March 1-7, 2021: Poetry from Bryan Damien Nichols and Michael Minassian

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Bryan Damien Nichols

Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Houma, Louisiana, on August 30, 1978.  He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy from Baylor University, and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  He has practiced law both in Houston and in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.  Bryan currently lives in Los Fresnos, Texas, with his loving wife, Michelle. Bryan is best known for the poetry he writes through his two heteronyms:  (1) Kjell Nykvist; and (2) Alexander Shacklebury.  These two heteronyms were featured in Bryan’s debut poetry collection, Whispers From Within (Sarah Book Publishing, 2015).  In addition to his many individual publications, Bryan has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Bryan Damien Nichols and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

What’s Wrong with my Inbox?

My Inbox is filling with messages
from people and companies
I know nothing about.

First, it’s Christian Mingle,
which I don’t need because
I’m married and found my wife
outside of church anyway.
Next, a message from Local Sluts,
which does me no good because
I no longer frequent strip clubs
or singles bars or church groups.
Next, a message from “Mandy,” who’s sad
we’re not Facebook friends, which is odd
because I don’t know a “Mandy,”
and have never had a Facebook account.

Then, there’s Muhammed Ibn Ishaq
who, though he can’t possibly know me,
wants to give me a million dollars if I
help him get thirty million out of Qatar.

A guy I know sends me an email
about how I can get 50% off
normal rates, but when I call him,
he says the deal is only for new customers.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

I receive a message about the joys
of visiting New Orleans, where I went
a few weeks back. There’s a message
about visiting Michigan, a place
I’ve never been, though it reads:
“We can’t wait for you to come back!”

Viagra wants me to try their product,
but I don’t need it, thankfully,
since I have a cute assistant and am
married anyway. Another message
says I can get narcotics without
a prescription. Another claims to have
found the Fountain of Youth. The new
Japanese restaurant in town somehow
knows my email address and sends me coupons,
though it closes days later, to no one’s dismay,
because it served awful food.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

Some dating website sends me a message.
It’s filled with pictures of girls
who’ve been on the website for ten years.
Either these women don’t age
or they’re robots. And if they’re real,
I wouldn’t want some woman
who’s been trying to get a date for ten years.
And I’m married anyway.

A company I can’t pronounce wants
to sell me a restaurant. What?
One company, from New Jersey,
wants me to come by to get an eye exam,
though I live in Texas.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

I get emails about baseball from the MLB.
At the bottom, it says I can
“unsubscribe” by clicking the button below.
I do. I then receive a message asking
why I want to unsubscribe. When I don’t
respond, the same old emails keep coming.

I get a message written in Russian.
I delete it. I get a message from “Jack,”
some prisoner in Vermont. He gives me
a long-winded tale of being framed
by his family. He says the drugs
Were not his, but belonged to his cousin,
who’s escaped to Vancouver.
I delete it. Then there’s a message from
“Laura Love Lips.” I delete that too.
Then, a message from “Mandy”—
that whole Facebook thing again.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

Amazon.com wants to know
how I’ve been. That’s weird.
Some hotel chain in North Dakota asks me
“Are you there?” That’s weirder.
A charity emails me about how it appreciates
my recent donation, though I don’t know
one thing about it.

Vanessa wants to talk. Dennis wants
my business. Diane wants to meet hot singles.
Karen wants to sell Tupperware.
Jordan is asking for a land survey.
Patricia wants to know if I like hamburgers.
Omar wants to sell cocaine. Mr. Slim wants
to know if I feel healthy. John wants
to sell me football tickets. Kim wants to know
if I fathered her children.

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

The list goes on and on:
face lifts, money for nothing, easy women,
the lottery, a payday loan, a timeshare,
some place to eat, a weight loss tip,
a steroid, a sex pill, a heart pill,
a brain pill, a tummy tuck, a chin tuck,
a breast implant, a bigger dick,
a new set of tools, a new vacation,
a new movie, a new life, a “new you.”

There’s some more stuff from
Christian Mingle and Local Sluts.

Michael Minassian

Michael Minassian’s poems and short stories have appeared recently in such journals as Live Encounters, Lotus Eater, and Chiron Review. He is also a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist and photography: Around the Bend. His poetry collections, Time is Not a River and Morning Calm are both available on Amazon. He is also the winner of the Poetry Society of Texas 2020 Catherine Case Lubbe Manuscript Prize. Visit Michael on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Michael Minassian and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Steel Pier

Once, my father took me
and my younger sister
to Atlantic City for a week.

We stayed in a motel
a few blocks from the beach,
the boardwalk, and the steel pier—

Every day we saw a show
with clowns, performing seals,
acrobats, and a diving horse
that leapt from a platform
into a wooden tank of water;
my sister cried every time
the horse jumped.

My father let us swim in the ocean,
bought us hot dogs and cotton candy;
some days we played in the sand
while he read the newspaper.

Every night we asked him,
Why didn’t mom come with us?
he always said, She’s busy,
and wouldn’t say anything else.

When we drove back home
on the Garden State Parkway
he didn’t say a word,
and we never took a vacation
without my mother again,
but for weeks my sister
had nightmares of riding
on the back of a diving horse,
jumping into the ocean,
and chasing my mother
as she swam for shore.

I wondered why my parents
never spoke about that time
or why they were so quiet
at the dinner table.

Their arguments always
about the same things,
as if they had trained to jump
from a great height
into a glass of water
that moved every time
they stepped off the platform
into the shifting air.

February 22-28, 2021: Poetry from Taylor Graham and Pat Hull

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Taylor Graham

Taylor Graham lives between Placerville and Rescue in the Sierra foothills. A volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler for many years, she served as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate. Her poems appear in the anthologies Villanelles; California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present; and California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology. Her latest book is Windows of Time and Place (Cold River Press).

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Finding Indian Diggins

Almost the county seat in gold-rush days.
Now its name is off the map.
I came to find its bookends: death and birth.
A place without a town. Fire station,
general store a-ways beyond the one-lane.

One-room school (1856) still alive
in Covid-time – backpack trips & out-of-class
discoverings. Learning leaks from forest
all around. Pioneer graveyard I couldn’t find –

fire crew declared the cemetery road
too extreme for my AWD. But
could I take a photo of the 4 of them &
their tractor? Of course I could.
We laughed on account of the sky’s blue.
Isn’t that what small towns are for?

Pat Hull

Pat Hull is a songwriter (Dutch Records) and poet. His first book of haiku called Field Notes on Love (A Collection of 99 Haiku) was independently published this month (February 2021). He teaches non-violent communication and speech communication at CSU, Chico and Butte College. Visit Pat on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Pat Hull and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Letter to my brothers

We shared a room
For a longer time than most brothers
At night, feet fitting squarely
between the wooden slats,
I leg pressed your mattress
from the bottom bunk to keep you
awake whenever a lull
in our incoherent ramblings
threatened sleep

We took the tops
Of garbage cans down the slope
Behind the church
and we needed to say
what we knew

Of course, we’re quiet now.

What words are left after bearing
the misshapen truth together?

A good song is always ready
To die, like a hand reaching out
Into empty space

February 15-21, 2021: Poetry from Don Krieger and David Oates

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Don Krieger​

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher whose focus is the electric activity within the brain. He is author of the hybrid collection, “Discovery,” a 2020 Pushcart nominee, and a 2020 Creative Nonfiction Foundation Science-as-Story Fellow. His work has appeared in American Journal of Nursing, Neurology, Seneca Review, The Asahi Shimbun, The Blue Nib, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and others, and has been anthologized in English and Farsi.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Don Krieger​ and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Martha’s Dowry and George’s Will

…he was one of the few … who was not
carried away by power. – Robert Frost

He was eleven,
heir to the family farm
and ten slaves. Later that year
he bought eight more,
and yet another seven
as a young man.

He lived
three generations. At his death
he owned one hundred
twenty-three,

and one hundred, fifty-three more,
Martha’s dowry doubled
in their twenty-year marriage,
His and Hers, hers hostage
to the law, destined
for return to her first husband’s heirs.

George’s death
freed his own
though he left it to Martha
to sign their deeds.

He was our first King
in all but name,

principled and elegant
said Abigail Adams.

David Oates

David Oates is the host and producer of Wordland, a radio program of poetry, fiction, spoken word, and comedy, on WUGA FM and wuga.org in Athens, Georgia. He’s worked as a teacher and s a newspaper reporter. As well as spoken word and slam, he has performed improv, sketch, and standup comedy. His stories and poems have been published in many magazines, newspapers, and websites.  His books are Night of the Potato (fiction and poetry), Shifting with My Sandwich Hand, Drunken Robins, and The Deer’s Bandanna (the last three, haiku). Some of his work is published on the web in Prune Juice and failed haiku magazines and in The Living Senryu Anthology site. Visit David on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by David Oates and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

What If the Gun Says No

What if the gun says no
what if the fist won’t clench
what if the missiles won’t release
their grip on the fighter’s wing

What if the bomb stays whole
in the bomber’s vest
and the policeman’s club
turns soft as feathers
in his palm

What if tear gas turns sweet,
a vegan shark
carries a sailor to shore,
and the guard dog licks
when the man says “kill”

Yes, What if the gun says
……..(in the middle of the argument)
the gun says
……..(when he finds he’s been cheated)
the gun says
……..(in the crucial instant)
No

February 8-14, 2021: Poetry from Roy Adams and Anita Lerek

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Roy Adams

Roy J. Adams has been a short-order cook, a professor, a poet and, although not a pirate, he was a private in the U.S. army. He has a black belt, paratrooper wings, a scuba certificate, an honourable discharge, a driver’s license, a Ph.D. and a Philly accent. He’s touched mountain peaks, ocean deeps and steaming jungles. He’s run for office and for his life. He writes whimsy, song and darkness. He is the author of the poetry collection Critical Mass. His poetry’s been published in America, Europe, Asia, Aussie and Ireland, the land his mother came from.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Roy Adams and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Blasting Elvis and Buddy Holly

I rocked down Route 66 quashing
sleep with fists full of wide-eye wake-me-ups
–swished by wacky Wigwam Inns,
tore through insect tempests; flirted
with mini-skirted Marilyns at roller-skating drive-ins
I was neon
I was come on
I was Major Betucan

Anita Lerek

Anita Lerek, a Toronto resident, has publication credits (as of Feb 1, 2021) with Visual Verse (Jan, 2021), First Literary Review-East (Jan, 2021), Verse Virtual (Oct, 2020), Ygdrasil (Sept, 2020), Persimmon Tree, and Split This Rock. She is author of chapbook of History and Being (2019), and co-founder of ChangeArtists, a start up online hub for quality poetry related to political engagement and social action. The visual arts, jazz, and social justice are strong influences. She has spent her adult life juggling business and the enchantment of her most faithful lover, her poetic muse. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Anita Lerek and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Kicking Coffee

You start your job early morning.
Teeshirt, barefoot, you get 
into production. Kicking Horse
Cliff Hanger expresso, so simple, 
a 3-year old can master it; but
it is your indicia of failure.
 
Turn machine on, lights, grind,
add filter, sugar-fine coffee, water,
press the button. 
 
You must leave for work soon.
How long will this one last? It’s as
if you bear a mark that everyone 
sees but you. 
 
If only you could drink in the
unseen, or see the mark through
the swollen, moist grounds: throw
them on the floor, shaman-like,
and read the objects for explanation.

Nothing there . . . yet. Foam up the milk. 
 
Your cup is a dark ocean filled with 
feathers, beads, songbirds, sighs,
lullabies: all mouths in the 
performance of your life. You pose 
your question, always the question. 
The cup toggles between your hands 
making the pieces shift patterns, 
different pictures, like the wash 
from a boat caused by each motion. 
You grasp the cup firmly, full and hot, 
with steamy froth: unreadable. Afraid
to sip, you command the actors to speak. 
 
Now you must return to the spectacle 
of daylight, to be assaulted by rusty
waves and metallic geese. No murmurs
or breezes or licking sun, just a vast
parking-garage loneliness of slamming
and honking whenever you come and go. 
 
And the hours in between, you wonder 
what to do when others, bird-like, smash
into false landscapes reflected at glassy
heights of ambition; when, as they limp
away, cry out to you to try harder to make
your mark. 


The  nightingale so small and brown 

fills the air—
just drink the coffee, listen.

February 1-7, 2021: Poetry from Diane Webster and Nancy Shiffrin

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Diane Webster

Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase and to write. Diane enjoys the challenge of transforming images into words to fit her poems. Her work has appeared in “Better Than Starbucks,” “Home Planet News Online,” “Old Red Kimono” and other literary magazines.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Diane Webster and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Decades Argument

Old mother, grown son
argue in parking lot
paved yet cracked
where weeds season
after season seed,
grow, reclaim portions
of civility.

The argument yells
across decades past,
echoes off stucco walls
birthday after birthday
when son wanted cake,
and mother wanted TV.

Nancy Shiffrin

Nancy Shiffrin earned her Master of Arts degree in English studying with Anais Nin. She earned her PhD at The Union Institute studying Jewish-American women authors. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Quarterly, Earth’s Daughters, Lummox Journal, The Canadian Jewish Outlook, A Cafe in Space, Religion and Literature, Shofar, and numerous other publications. She has received awards and honorable mentions from The Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Society of America, The Alice Jackson Foundation, The Dora Teitelboim Foundation, and most recently first prize in the Angela Consolo Mankiewicz Poetry Contest Lummox Journal 2019. Her poetry collection The Vast Unknowing, was published by Infinity Publishing in 2013. Her collections Game With Variations and Flight are forthcoming from wordpoetrybooks.com. Visit Nancy on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Nancy Shiffrin and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I Loved Science

in High School
Kekule who dreamed the self-devouring snake
which led him to the benzene ring
the six-sided carbon atom essential to life
Crick and Watson
the dance of the double helix
I can see those helices duplicating
the idea of a predictable universe

So what
if the rubber tubing in the lab
burns up when I come near
I can’t identify bacteria
my frogs don’t pith
better arithmetic would have raised
my geometry grade from B+ to A
I could solve proofs all night

So what if the lens on the teacher’s own
oil immersion microscope
crashed the slide when I tried to focus
he pointed out
that my interest in science was literary
Rosalind Franklin didn’t win the Nobel
nor Mileva Maritzky nor Lise Meitner
Curie died from her discovery
Hypatia was flayed

I can write
from the viewpoint of a snowflake
explain crystalline structures how
even though composed mostly of water
there can only ever be one of me
forming over and over again
eternally reborn

 

Our Beautiful Broken World

a painter speaks of brokenness
she goes out midnights in her van
photographs store windows
mannequins stripped naked
arms mangled legs twisted
she paints over the snapshots
adds details tricks the eye
she treats me to omakase
from a restaurant she owns
cries out to be remembered

on TV
another black man shot
peaceful protests once again
devolve to riots looting
The National Guard called out
The Republican National Convention
horror stories of fetuses struggling
against suction of abortionist’s tools
exasperated I watch Saint Judy
Afghanistani woman broken
by rape and battery for teaching
women to read fights for asylum
her uncle also raped and battered
her father and brothers in danger
for allowing such a girl to survive
no one speaks of contraception

crazy for beauty
I walk through Bergamot Station
dialogues of color
cubist still-lives
underwater dreamers
I appreciate brokenness
sculptor’s display of ceramic fragments
assembled to discourse on
clowns dolls nirvana
he shops at estate sales
wonders at homes full of tsotchkes
no one wants to dust

on my favorite street
canopied trees cool the atmosphere
manicured lawns boast security protection
roots crack cement
succulents grace sidewalk gardens
weeds push startling blooms
up into our beautiful broken world

January 25-31, 2021: Poetry from Emalisa Rose and Cheryl Caesar

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Emalisa Rose

When not writing poetry, Emalisa Rose enjoys crafting with macrame and doll making. She volunteers in animal rescue. She lives by a beach town, which provides much of the inspiration for her art.  She sells her shell murals and sea art online. During the excess of down time during the pandemic, she became an avid birder.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Emalisa Rose and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

my first

I had my first with him. It
was long white and slender,
its tan edge caressing my lip,

under the boardwalk
near the southern arcade.

He blew circles for me, then
blew the smoke into the moans
of my mouth, swirling the seas
with the smell of his breath.

I went coocoo for him;
we were almost eighteen.

Cheryl Caesar

Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris, Tuscany and Sligo for 25 years; she earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne and taught literature and phonetics. She teaches writing at Michigan State University. She gives readings and publishes poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen and Zimbabwe. She has won third prize in the Singapore Poetry Contest for her poem on global warming, and the “no-age” scholarship to the Social Justice workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, from Indolent Books. Her chapbook Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era is available from Amazon.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Cheryl Caesar and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Poem for a failed insurrection

“Show strength!” intoned their leader – he for whom
strength never had been anything but show.
“We’re marching to the Capitol!” — but then
he turned away as they began to go.

He lumbered home and watched it on TV:
the fallen barricades, the broken glass,
the painted bull behind the podium,
the selfie sticks, the guards who let them pass.

“We’re taking back the people’s house!” But then?
Nobody there to tell them what came next.
They stole a laptop, tore a Chinese scroll,
smoked joints and pissed on statues. Sent a text.

What follows “show” and “take”? They didn’t know.
Their leader had no other verbs to share.
Within a few hours they had wandered off,
leaving their garbage and their feces there.

At 1 AM, New Jersey’s Andy Kim
son of Korean immigrants, took up a bag,
began to clear the waste. The water jugs,
the pizza boxes, torn and trampled flag.

His only comment on the tawdry coup:
“It really broke my heart … what could I do?’

January 18-24, 2021: Poetry from Amber Moss and J de Salvo

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Amber Moss

Amber Moss is a Black writer and editor from Atlanta, GA. She earned her BA in English from the University of South Florida and is currently a graduate student. She is the author of Bucket of Thorns, published in Spring 2020. Amber’s poetry has been published in Bewildering Stories, Liminality Magazine, Little Rose Magazine, and others. Visit Amber on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Amber Moss and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Adolescence

As the sky collided with the trees,
I gripped my belly. Bent over
while a single red dot blended
into cotton sheets. I waited 
for the diagram of my uterus
to inflate along with my breasts,
like pupils as soon as night falls
and the sun escapes
with my innocence.

I wondered how long it would be
until I blossomed into beauty;
Wide hips made room
for the blood flow between
my legs, I opened for the boy
in third period; he examined
my newfound body
then left after a few handfuls.

 

Summer in The Countryside

In the countryside we danced
barefoot, red clay sniffing at our toenails
five acres of beetles, and ants,
centipedes inhabiting the land
I once called home.

In the middle of the dirt
a small speaker played
The Temptations
until the sky turned orange
and our eyelids inhaled sleep
before the stars took over the heavens.

It was July when the sun
soaked us in sweat
and we nourished the soil
with our fluids.

86,400 minutes
we grew with the land
kicked around orange peels
before the city yanked us
back to materiality.

J de Salvo

J de Salvo’s fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have been published extensively in print and online. J is the editor/publisher of the Pedestrian Press and is the author of The End of Ambition. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Oakland, CA.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by J de Salvo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Your House is a Museum
That Used to be Mine

1

I never learned to curate my life
Most of what I have done
Will never be seen

I lose everything regularly
By accident and on purpose
All my bands break up
All my paintings are left
On the curb by the police

2

But you

You keep everything
Too many things in this house
To name, haven’t moved
Since I lived here with you:

Fred Astaire dancing on the ceiling
Hung upside down
At an angle
On the inside
Of the front door

Most of the same books
In the same place
On the same shelf

The old paintings and drawings
Peppered between the new

The couch is new, but
Who looks at the thing
That they sit on?

The chair across from it
Was here before we were

The window behind it
Is the same piece of plexi
That has let in the cold
Since I fell through the glass
Head first

A series of ever-cheaper Landlords
Never quite got to it
And it still runs up the
Bill, in the winter

3

You are a lover of artifacts

They’re everywhere
On shelves, nailed in rows
To the wall, in both of the ways
That these words might be read

4

There are themes:

Clowns
Judaica, and
The generally strange

Teeth and keys and
Bones and carvings and
Cameos and coffeepots

5

Under the tumult and
Clash of images
That surround and

Obscure them,
To whatever degree
Are some things I put up
On the fridge, myself

6

The Graham Greene quote
I affixed to my door
Towards the end,

In anger, is still partially visible,
If mostly scratched away
Evidence of lessening love

Gifts I have given you
Whether hidden away or
Displayed in their own place of pride

7

I would not be able to handle it
All, myself, that loser and
Thrower away of things

Take that one how you want to

8

I admire your bravery,
Your ability to live with it all
To refuse to turn your back

On history, however painful
To take the dreidel with
The death-mask

In fact, I still love you for it
Among other things

January 11-17, 2021: Poetry from Paul Strohm and Martina Robles Gallegos

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Paul Strohm

Paul M. Strohm has earned his initials PMS by a lifetime of male grumpiness. He left the University of Texas in Austin with a graduate degree in Information Science which he felt deprived him without any further need of education. He works as a freelance journalist in the Houston Metroplex.  His poems are scattered here and there with almost impunity. See Paul’s book’s on Amazon here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Paul Strohm and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

“lizards and cupcakes in my mind”

the room crackled with compressed expectation
“lizards and cupcakes in my mind”
was the first line I heard
what does it mean I thought
where is it going, I don’t understand
I turned to my friend, she silently mimed
“lizards and cupcakes in my mind”
again and again and then again
my chest pumped itself up
my heart went beating in time
“lizards and cupcakes in my mind”
the end

 

Tosca

these teachus are at me again saying
be yourforeskin but do it slant eyed
coursing down a broken bib of glass

such vocalvoids plait my singsong singing
and their this than then marmaladed tits
swells my lazarus progress to bed

I sing I hum ablative picnicked players
upon whose lips leaking ropesky looting
a crazy mitered sailor shakes old witches

my worthless piss poor wilderbeast
not passionwhiskey beautiful not yet
shielding belched by my dimwitticisms

upon my wholly pinesea cross a tree heel
utters barnyard battle aphorifics
a manic miseryaccordian hung by nails

when I constraint my ravenousness
perhaps the dragon plumboys billowing
will finally sorta forklift godlike Tosca

Martina Robles Gallegos

Martina was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States at 14. She got a Master’s degree from Grand Canyon University after a near fatal hemorrhagic stroke . Her works have appeared in the Altadena Anthology: Poetry Review 2015, 2017, 2018, Hometown Pasadena, Spirit Fire Review, Poetry Super Highway, Vocal media, Silver Birch Press, Central Coast Poetry Shows, Basta! and more recently, in the award-winning anthology, When the Virus Came Calling: COVID-19 Strikes America, published by Golden Foothills Press, editor, Thelma T. Reyna. See Martina’s books on Amazon here, and visit here on the web here

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Martina Robles Gallegos and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Alone with the Pets

From the beginning of the pandemic,
it was just my daughter and me,
oh, yeah, and two lovebirds and a cat.
Daughter played with the cat
and I with the lovebirds.
Daughter then flew out of the nest;
well, didn’t exactly happen that way,
but I got stuck with the pets,
and pets were ok with it all.
Cat and I did miss the two-legged one,
but birds had each other, so they didn’t mind.
Solitude is fine so long as you aren’t alone,
but once you’re not ok with it,
the days keep getting longer each day.
For Thanksgiving, two siblings
came to partake in the spirit of eating
because, really, only the turkey was giving.
Didn’t make plans for Christmas
because turkey day almost experienced hell
when the temp in the oven almost
melted the stove and could’ve caused
the house to explode,
so the overcooked turkey became the joke
from then on, and every conversation we had,
somehow went back to the bird.
So, for Christmas I decided the bird had earned
a second chance, and I brought home a young one,
turkey, that is, and hoped for the best.
I’d done some research and taken some notes,
so three days before Christmas, I started
thawing the bird and planning on my mind
the steps I’d take.
The day before Christmas I dressed it all up
but the stuffing just wasn’t quite right
because I’d gotten something for salad instead,
but no meal is complete without me making sure
something goes awry, but at least this time,
the turkey didn’t complain, and I shared with a sibling
who picked his doggy bag from the porch.
I then ate Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve,
and it was just the turkey, cat, and me.
Things quickly turned like 360 degrees,
but I’ll save that one chat perhaps for New Year’s.

January 4-10, 2021: Poetry from Bill Gainer and Emily Vieweg

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Bill Gainer

Bill Gainer is a storyteller, humorist, an award winning poet, and a maker of mysterious things. He earned his BA from St. Mary’s College and his MPA from the University of San Francisco. He is the publisher of the PEN Award winning R. L. Crow Publications and is the ongoing host of Red Alice’s Poetry Emporium (Grass Valley, CA). Gainer is internationally published in such journals and magazines as: Poems for All, The Huffington Post, Sacramento News and Review, The Tule Review, Lummox Press, River Dog Zine #1, The Oregonian, Chiron Review, Sacramento Bee, Cultural Weekly, Rose of Sharon, and numerous others. His latest book is: “The Mysterious Book of Old Man Poems.” Gainer is known across the country for giving fun filled performances. Visit him in his books, at his personal appearances, or at his website: billgainer.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Bill Gainer and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Girl with Long Fingers

Just watching her
kiss the berry juice
from the tip of a fingers
is enough
almost.

 

The Art of Growing Cacti

My cactus has become a monster.
I have no idea how to prune it
or even if you are supposed to.
It had flowers this year
for like three days.
I think it loves me
but not that much.

Emily Vieweg

 
Emily Vieweg is a poet originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Her debut full length poetry collection “but the flames” is available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press (mailing date 1/22/2021). Her previous collection is Conversations with Beethoven and Bach. Emily’s work has been published in Soundings Review, Art Young’s Good Morning, Proximity Magazine, Indolent Books “What Rough Beast,” and more. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she is a mother of two and office assistant. Visit Emily on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2021, and owned by Emily Vieweg and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Sometimes

when I begin a poem with sometimes I really mean
always. I mean, sometimes always means

never, like when you ask again
if I still love onions, I say

always, but never do I say
never, because sometimes my food choices

offend you, always when you’re
sometimes doing the cooking… so you say,

“Sometimes I just hate you”
I mean, sometimes people offend me too, like

the white dude, it’s always a white dude, sometimes
the white dude wears a backwards ball cap,

it’s always backwards, and the white dude
calls 911 over brown people,

it’s always over brown people,
just living,

like when Jordan sold water in San Francisco,
or when Reggie mowed lawns in Ohio,

or when Rashon and Donte sat in a
Philadelphia Starbucks, it’s always a Starbucks.

So sometimes I get offended, usually
mostly when I’m venting about money,

it’s always about money, diapers or allergies, and
some white girl, it’s always a white girl, sometimes a

white girl wearing a kimono and infinity scarf,
it’s always an infinity scarf,

sometimes a white girl tries to palm
me some random essential oils,

it’s always essential oils.
And sometimes I maybe get tired of hearing

about the latest keto diet craze,
it’s always a diet craze, and sometimes

maybe I get angry and frustrated and hyped
over something I saw on facebook,

it’s always facebook, so
I have to turn it off to keep my head.

So obviously, this is a little thing,
it’s always the little things, but little things

become big things, at least, sometimes.
Sometimes maybe means yes, mostly might

mean maybe, and almost maybe means maybe
not, and never does the

white dude in the backwards ball cap,
it’s always a ball cap,

never does the white dude call
911 for anything, like calling

911 on Brock Turner,
Harvey Weinstein,

Brett Kavanaugh,
and even if the

white dude
wearing the backwards

ball cap does call
911 on a Brock

or a Harvey
or a Brett,

it’s always a Brock
or a Harvey or a Brett,

even when the
911 call comes for something

real, the
white accused,

he’s always the accused,
goes to court, maybe,

sometimes, mostly
always with a high-

retainer lawyer, and mostly,
usually, sometimes,

maybe, they’ll get off
(they always get off).

I understand that sometimes it’s confusing.

I mean, like I said,
you say that

sometimes you
just hate me.

But never will you offend me
by saying that sometimes you

hate me, because you could never
hate me, even sometimes, the way I

always sometimes wonder if I
am sometimes,

even a little,
mostly

worth that.

December 28, 2020 – January 3, 2021: Poetry from David Flynn and Jean-Paul L. Garnier

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David Flynn

David Flynn was born in the textile mill company town of Bemis, TN.  His jobs have included newspaper reporter, magazine editor and university teacher.  He has five degrees and is both a Fulbright Senior Scholar and a Fulbright Senior Specialist with a recent grant in Indonesia.  His literary publications total more than 220.  Among the eight writing residencies he has been awarded are five at the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM, and stays in Ireland and Israel.  He spent a year in Japan as a member of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program. He is the author of the book My Family. He currently lives in Nashville, TN.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by David Flynn and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I ♥ Senility

Shattered pots in a desert. Iron Age I, Iron Age II.
I look at the picture in a magazine, and think
that’s my life.
A cliché, but I don’t have the energy to be original this morning.
Crumbs from an old pie crust on the kitchen counter.
Cat hair in a wad on the rug.
Those are my life too.

In the last third, which is where I am, there are no wholes.
Shards, many terrible, wait me when I wake up.
All shards, all broken.
I don’t want to sound whiney, because at least I am writing this poem.
And really one big white glaring whole is all that is left.
I see it when I close my eyes, and the television is off.

Consistency is a concept I left behind in high school
along with fairness.
With 20,000 official divisions of Christianity, how can I stand on consistency?
I believe . . . let’s just leave it there.
In that desert house from a debatable year of B.C. people flailed about like me.
They are nowhere now.
I look forward to being nowhere.
I look forward to senility, sitting on the side of my bed in the nursing home,
staring into space,
not present where my body is.
Seeing, tasting, smelling, touching, and hearing in another place,
either my old life before betrayals or an entirely new place
with green columns and red lakes.
I can design this world as I want, rather than the world designing me.
The people, I think, will be shorter than me.
They will speak the truth in silky voices.
We will have a picnic by the red lake,
and eat ambrosia casseroles, cloud tea, and saintly chips.
We will stroke each other’s cheeks.
The weather will be purple skies, breezes that murmur nondenominational psalms.
We will laugh.
I prefer this world to the world of clay pieces; leave me alone.

Jean-Paul L. Garnier

Jean-Paul L. Garnier lives and writes in Joshua Tree, CA where he is the owner of Space Cowboy Books, a science fiction bookstore, independent publisher, and producer of Simultaneous Times podcast. In 2020 his first novella Garbage In, Gospel Outwas released by Space Cowboy Books and in 2018 Traveling Shoes Press released Echo of Creation, a collection of his science fiction short stories. He has also released several collections of poetry: In Iudicio (Cholla Needles Press 2017), Future Anthropology (currently being translated into Portuguese), and Odes to Scientists (audiobook – Space Cowboy Books 2019). He is a two time Elgin Nominee and also appeared in the 2020 Dwarf Stars anthology. His new collection of SF poetry, Betelgeuse Dimming has just been released and is available as a free audiobook / ebook at spacecowboybooks.bandcamp.com. He is also a regular contributor for Canada’s Warp Speed Odyssey blog. His short stories, poetry, and essays have appeared in many anthologies and webzines.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Jean-Paul L. Garnier and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Last Contact

as they left I heard cheering
unsure if it was mixed with tears
or was it shouting, begging
we never crossed the language barrier
protestors held signs scrawled with equations
even these symbol sets
remained a mystery

it shook its head and turned away
rejoining its crew
for departure
for us it meant no
it could have meant anything
body language meaningless
we could have shaken the wrong extremity

they leave on a pillar of fire
smoke signal of farewell
a burnt patch of earth
monument to the failure of our linguists
knowing less than before, abandoned
they said something before they left
but I could not hear it through the cheering

December 21-27, 2020: Poetry from Jonathan Hayes and John Grey

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Jonathan Hayes

Jonathan Hayes lives by the San Lorenzo River in Santa Cruz, California where the CZU Lightning Complex Fires struck in August. He is the author of the book A Full Moon in Santa Cruz.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Jonathan Hayes and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Lonely Planet

Sojourning outside lands
A loitering of doldrums

Pale the sunrise, sedge, and lake too

Withering of air

No birds sing, no birds sing
For man or woman nor earth or child

Knowing why, being here

John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet and US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. His latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by John Grey and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Man Who Collected

His house is full of his collections,
stuff he’s brought back from all corners of the world.
There are old Roman coins stuffed in drawers,
rolled up Persian carpets,
a grinning cat statue from Alexandria,
a menu from a restaurant in Vienna –
it goes on and on.
But he no longer does.
They buried him yesterday.
So, for now, this place is a museum.

A few family photographs are scattered about.
But they give the impression
they were not the focus of his life.
Not when they had to compete with a cigar-store wooden Indian.
Or a rusty blunderbuss from who knows what battle.
Or the stacks of magazines,
some with the accumulated yellow of three different centuries.

His books line dusty shelves.
So many authors from the early twentieth century,
most of them unknown to me.
I grab his rapier by the handle,
swish a dozen times at an invisible foe.
I turn over a mat and wish I hadn’t.
A dead mouse, I’m sure,
is not what his accumulating spirit had in mind.

And, as I scour through the piles,
family buzz in my ear.
“Is any of that junk worth anything?”
“When can we sell?”
How much of this is insight into the man,
they could care less.
He owned an old Victrola.
And the uniform of a Prussian soldier.
Toss them together with a reprint of National Geographic number 1
and a voodoo doll from Haiti
and the result can only be the one man – this man.

And he’s dead.
To hear them talk, he never even lived.

December 14-20, 2020: Poetry from Phil Huffy and William Heath

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Phil Huffy

Phil Huffy is a busy poet who writes in a variety of styles.  His work is found in dozens of journals and anthologies, and he has published two collections: Rhymal Therapy (limericks) and Magic Words (children’s verse).

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Phil Huffy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I Said, Pointedly

Author, watch your language,
avoid the common traps
of amateur expression
and paraphrastic lapse.

Banish inclinations,
when speech you recollect,
to state the speaker’s motive,
describing her affect.

Poet, please consider
this thought as apropos:
You’ll make your meaning clearer
with words that people know.

If you fancy rhyming,
its use must be astute.
Don’t make your grand allusions
a trivial pursuit.

William Heath

William Heath has taught American literature and creative writing at Kenyon, Transylvania, Vassar, the University of Seville, and Mt. St. Mary’s University, where the William Heath Award is given annually to the best student writer.  He is the author of two chapbooks, Night Moves in Ohio and Leaving Seville; a book of poems, The Walking Man; three novels, The Children Bob Moses Led, Devil Dancer, and Blacksnake’s Path; an award-winning work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest; and a collection of interviews, Conversations with Robert Stone.  For more info visit: www.williamheathbooks.com

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by William Heath​ and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Trump Reads Wittgenstein,
Changes Tune

“The world is everything that is
the case.” He never knew that
before. He thought whatever
he wanted to be the case, was.
He uttered what fit his fancy
and confirmed his delusions
of grandeur, tossed raw flesh
for his base to feed on—
to view the big picture,
he gazed in a full-length mirror.

“Whereof one knows nothing,
thereof remain silent.” That
was a revelation. He assumed
nothing in the wide world
was worth knowing. The solution:
change his tune. And lo it came
to pass—abruptly he retired
from public life, last seen
doddering on a putting green,
never to speak one more word.

December 7-13, 2020: Poetry from Duane L. Herrmann and Ed Meek

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Duane L Herrmann

Duane L. Herrmann, a reluctant carbon-based life-form, was surprised to find himself in 1951 on a farm in Kansas.  How did that happen??? He’s still trying to make sense of it but has grown fond of grass waving in the wind, trees and the enchantment of moonlight. He aspires to be a hermit, but would miss his children, grandchildren and a few friends. His work has been published in many real places and online, even some of both in languages he can’t read (English is difficult enough!). He is known to carry baby kittens in his mouth, pet snakes, and converse with owls, but is careful not to anger them! All this, despite a traumatic, abusive childhood (first suicidal at age two) embellished with dyslexia, ADHD (both unknown at the time), cyclothymia, and now, PTSD. He’s still learning to breathe and perform human at the same time. See his books on Amazon here.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Duane L. Herrmann and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Pizza Faced

Face down dead in a pizza
as the horse stained coloring book
flipped pages in the wind.
The day was ruined,
but not over.
Ticket,
for luxury sex tour in hand,
Jassim ponders
chemical pink smoke
over Oskaloosa air.
The world may not be ready
for chicken supermodels
or
a once-invisible young cat
whose perfectly mended broken heart,
said the court jester secret agent,
show how little they have changed
if at all.

Ed Meek

Ed Meek writes poetry, fiction, articles and book reviews. His fourth book of poems, High Tide, has just come out. Luck, short stories, came out in 2017. He has had poems in The Sun, The Paris Review, Plume.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Ed Meek and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

This Rough Beast

Raised on ranches and wrought from slaughterhouses,
Grown on farms and packed in meat packing plants,
Drilled in oil wells and fracked from rock,
Carried by long-haul truckers and stocked on supermarket shelves,
From blue lives matter to all lives matter,
From Evangelicals to Catholics to Zionists,
From housewives to Harley’s,
From true believers to Q-anon,
The kingdom of real Americans
Rises like a sphinx out of the dust of the past,
Turning fear into rage to fight again the many wars lost,
From the Civil War, to Vietnam, to Iraq and Afghanistan,
From the Senate to the Supreme Court to the White House,
America, first, last, and always.

November 30 – December 6, 2020: Poetry from Allie Wisniewski and Dee Allen.

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Allie Wisniewski

Allie Wisniewski is a writer, visual artist, and dancer, currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia. Both her writing and photographs reflect her deep connection to the natural world as well as her fascination with memory and the body. She graduated with a B.A. in English and Studio Art from Florida State University in 2018, and her work has appeared in Food Network and American Forests Magazine. You can usually find her introducing herself to local flora, reading magical realism novels, and eating elaborate home cooked meals with her loved ones. She is the author of the poetry collection Shades of Gold. Visit Allie on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Allie Wisniewski and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Floodplain Forest

I rejected the South though it never reciprocated my disinterest, as a child
it coaxed me to the edge of the forest with blackberries 
dripping from brambles in June and said come!
Just a bit closer and the pine brush is friendly, 
don’t mind the way it tickles your calves but do mind the
banana spiders – they’re sweet on Sundays but firmly unhurried, 
moving slowly in the homes they built from nothing and crying
when machines come to cut them down.
The jewelweed is indifferent like all beautiful things, 
not knowing its perfection and not caring,
watching the spiders shrivel and me
picking muscadine skins from my teeth.

 

Pursuit of Harvest

there are a great many things i need to be doing and not one of them is arranging the figs in a bowl when i’m done they’re a sort of human pyramid except no one is scrambling for the top and there are no knees in the back of anyone’s middle school crush in middle school i had never tasted a fig i would have been different if things were different i squeeze one and it oozes the blood shed in pursuit of harvest i have to look away a moment of silence and then eat them all in one sitting it is the only instance i can think of in which everyone on the bottom died last

Dee Allen.

Dee Allen. is an African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California. Active on the creative writing & Spoken Word tips since the early 1990s. Author of 5 books [ Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater andSkeletal Black, all from POOR Press, and his newest from Conviction 2 Change Publishing,Elohi Unitsi ] and 28 anthology appearances [ including Your Golden Sun Still Shines, Rise, Extreme, The Land Lives Forever, Civil Liberties United, Trees In A Garden Of Ashes and the newest, Colossus: Home ] under his figurative belt so far.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Dee Allen. and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Duck Hill

THE DEGREE OF CIVILISATION IN A SOCIETY
CAN BE JUDGED BY ENTERING
ITS PRISONS.

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Russian writer
Hit the figurative
Nail on its head
When he commenced
Those words to paper—

Montgomery County, Mississippi, 1937:

Bootjack McDaniels
Red Townes
Witnessed justice,
Like money,
Changing hands

From courtroom justice
Before a black-robed magistrate
To Southern justice
Before a howling mob
Wanting to stain their white hands red.

Bootjack McDaniels
Red Townes
Were pulled deep
Into the maniacal heart
Of a tormentors’ circle overgrown.

A few bad men
Overpowered Winona
Town Sheriff’s deputies to grab those two
Quickly, orderly,
But far from quietly.

Bootjack McDaniels
Red Townes
Took an unsettling school-bus ride
While hog-tied
And terrified

School-bus, cars, trucks, midday
Country motorcade rolled
One mile from the grocery store
Where all this began—Five hundred
Gathered in the woods of Duck Hill to see

Bootjack McDaniels
Red Townes
Shirtless, tied to trees
With rope and steel chains
Unwilling stars in a show provided for the deranged.

Confession extraction technique:
Plumber’s blowtorch
Bare backs blackened further,
Exposed flesh sizzled from
The touch of hot flame.

Bootjack McDaniels
Scorched, then shot.
Red Townes
Burnt alive
Strapped down, charred

Husks of men.
Dual warnings to other
Black men to never
Raise a shotgun against a White man,
A shopkeeper, least of all.

Given such a shred of history,
Such demonstrations of cruelty,
Delusions of supremacy,
I can do
Dostoevsky one better:

THE DEGREE OF CIVILISATION IN A SOCIETY
CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WAY IT TREATS
PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT.

November 23-29, 2020: Poetry from Patrice Wilson and Duane Anderson

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Patrice Wilson

Patrice M. Wilson is a retired Associate Professor of Hawaii Pacific University. From 2014-2019 she lived in a monastery in Kaneohe, HI studying to become a Carmelite nun. She has had several publications of individual poems (including Poetry Super Highway, August 22–28, 2011); has published 3 chapbooks with Finishing Line Press; and one full-length poetry collection, Hues of Darkness, Hues of Light, with eLectio Publishing (2013). She has won some awards and honorable mentions (including Academy of American Poets U of Hawaii competitions), and has read her poetry in Maryland, Washington DC (including the Folger Shakespeare Library), and in Honolulu, HI, where she won Hawaii Literary Arts Council Award 2018 for contributing to the literary community in Hawaii. She now lives in Mililani, a pleasant suburban neighborhood in central Oahu.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Patrice Wilson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Street Preacher, Downtown Honolulu

Given the bread
we ask for daily;
given the strength
for our frail lives,
to walk, to run
through fragrant meadow
or on worldly road;

Given the delirium tremens
of men who drink too much liquor,
the loud crying out
of madmen on bleak streets—

But, given the earthen chalices
filled with sacrificial wine,
given all over the world
in the same covenant for all,

should not holy words be said,
whispered, shouted
even in this stark wilderness?

Duane Anderson

Duane Anderson currently lives in La Vista, NE, and volunteers with a non-profit organization as a Donor Ambassador on their blood drives.  He has had poems published in The Pangolin Review, Fine Lines, The Sea Letter, Cholla Needles, Tipton Poetry Journal, Poesis Literary Journal and several other publications.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Duane Anderson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Am I My Mother’s Husband?

The day after Thanksgiving,
a few might call it Black Friday,
but I call it hell because I was
one of the fools waiting
in one of the many long lines
with my mother loaded
with the items we wanted to purchase.
As we waited, my mother talked to various
people also waiting in hell with us,
trying, as she said, if that is possible,
to make the wait go by faster.
It didn’t work for me,
but maybe it did for her.

The man she was talking to asked how long
my mother and I had been married,
thinking that we were husband and wife
rather than mother and son.

He went into mute mode,
quiet as could be,
after finding out our relationship
of mother and son,
and I started thinking,
thanks Dad,
knowing I just learned one thing from this moment,
that I have more of my father’s genes than I thought,
the one that ages skin faster than a speeding bullet.

November 16-22: Poetry from Paul Corman-Roberts and Penelope Blair

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Paul Corman-Roberts

Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of the full-length poetry collection “Bone Moon Palace” out this Winter from Nomadic Press. He is also the author of “We Shoot Typewriters” (Nomadic Press 2015) “Notes From an Orgy” (Paper Press 2014) and “19th Street Station” (Full of Crow Chap Series 2011). He is an original co-founder of Oakland’s Beast Crawl Lit Festival, due to return in 2021.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Paul Corman-Roberts and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Having Assembled a Sonnett

The assembly line will not be audited
today, no, not even inventoried
this Wednesday for Wednesday is the day
we loll about the workstations
look cross-eyed at managers and
prospective new journey folk.
Don’t even think about asking us
to fulfill some arbitrary quota
where is my acknowledgment line or
why isn’t there a contributor copy available?
Today the assembly line suggests
you find another axe to grind your ego
and not worry so much about iambs
which you can have back tomorrow.

Penelope Blair

Penelope Blair has lived in the USA since 1975, and is a dual citizen of both US and UK.  She has worked in many areas of Mental Health support and Early Education, especially working in the field of supporting caregivers of very young children and their families. Penelope haas raised two children and lives in the Bay Area, San Francisco.  She returns to the UK to garden a woodland and coastal garden whenever possible.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Penelope Blair and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Cat Still Waits

You’d be right to think that a half-decent poem
might be born of this, another, debacle.
An election with no clear winners, especially for
We the People.
More than half of us can’t behave decently;
A rabble in the streets, armed and forcing entry.
Count the votes, no! stop the vote.


The system demands patience.
The three-way structure gives us a three-legged stool
Unsteady, and rocking; uneven legs on uneven ground.
What do we see for sure but a population
Not willing to give ground, to build consensus
Or even co-exist. Them and us. Offend and defend.


So I write my poor poem, a stream of unsettled,
Unhappy, agitated thoughts for you
And know I could, or might do better to describe
the revolution, the payback for slavery,
The fires in the cities and in our disheveled country.

I smell smoke lying heavily in the morning fog.
I hope the whales still swim south
And a dappled sun will rise to lift my soul.
I hear a bird sing its repeat over and over.
A mouse still steals from the bird table
While the cat still lies in wait to pounce.

November 9-15, 2020: Poetry from Russel Winick and Randi Israelow

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Russel Winick

Mr. Winick recently began writing poetry at nearly age 65, after concluding a long career as an attorney. His poems have been published or selected by The Society of Classical Poets; Blue Unicorn; Westward Quarterly; The Road Not Taken; Sparks of Calliope; Rat’s Ass Review; Snakeskin; Lighten Up Online; Auroras & Blossoms; and Verse-Virtual.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Russel Winick and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Spaghetti Sauce

I’m crazy ‘bout spaghetti sauce
It’s better than dessert.
I love it on most anything,
Except of course my shirt.

Randi Israelow

Inspired by local poets and by host Ron Dvorkin at his monthly poetry reading at Barnes and Noble in Encino, California, Randi Israelow began participating as an active poet in the Los Angeles area in December 2008. Since then, Randi has also been thrilled to share her work at the Cornelia Street Cafe in New York City and as a featured poet at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, The Cobalt Cafe, Expressions LA Poetry Reading, Lit Crawl Los Angeles, the Second Sunday Poetry Series, Unbuckled NoHo Poetry, and at the reading where it all began for her, the Last Saturday of the Month Open Mic. She is the author of the poetry collection “Little Movies.” Randi continues to be inspired today.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Randi Israelow and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

College Ex-Boyfriend

After we broke up
and you started dating your next girlfriend
and you soon discovered
that she
had been assaulted on campus
a year before you met her,
you held a rally
at the Dean’s Office
protesting that
the school had done
nothing about the assault.

But for me,
also assaulted,
you wouldn’t even buy a condom.

November 2-8, 2020: Poetry from Robert Wynne and Konstantina Theofanopoulou

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Robert Wynne

earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University.  A former co-editor of Cider Press Review, he has published 6 chapbooks, and 3 full-length books of poetry, the most recent being “Self-Portrait as Odysseus,” published in 2011 by Tebot Bach Press.  He’s won numerous prizes, and his poetry has appeared in magazines and anthologies throughout North America.  He lives in Burleson, TX with his wife and 2 rambunctious dogs. His online home is www.rwynne.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Robert Wynne and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Enlightenment: A Treatment

Okay, so Christ, Buddha and Krishna
Walk into a bar; no really, they walk
Into a bar called Enlightenment, and
Next thing you know all hell breaks loose.
Gets pretty crazy when they escape

To Jerusalem with these grizzled bikers
On their tails, especially when

The flight attendants mistake them for
Happy-go-lucky college students visiting
Europe for a summer of backpacking.

Forgetting the seat belt sign for
A moment, there’s also a sub-plot
Concerning the reappearance of a
Templar Knight, long thought lost

To the wilds of India, and his quest to
Hamper the spread of televangelism
Americans have come to treat like
The word of God, even though it’s

Simply a marketing campaign
Only designed to pad church coffers
Until the United States can finally rival
Little Vatican City in riches amassed

In the name of the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Amen!

Finally, our three buddies step out
Onto the streets of Israel, the bikers
Using tiny rented scooters to make chase,
Relegated to bumping along old roads

Littered with shrapnel, army personnel,
Even bootleg DVD’s of all
The newest releases. They come to
The wailing wall, where a crowd
Encircles them, and then they just
Read aloud every creation theory ever

Written, share a laugh and a wink,
Only to be arrested for disturbing the
Relative peace, while a bomb
Detonates to setup the sequel.

 

Errata

war should be door

change lie on to lion

stretch to reach

kill becomes skill

change tumor to humor

replace guardrail with heart

frame turns to flame

wall becomes fall

grief is relief

harbor should be inlet

change cave to cove

please becomes release

love remains silence

Konstantina Theofanopoulou

Konstantina Theofanopoulou was born in Greece and lives in the East Village, New York. She holds a PhD in the neuroscience of language, and currently works as a Post-Doctoral researcher at Rockefeller University. You can read her poetry in her monthly column on Natural Selections magazine, on poetry magazines (Lumiere Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Eneken), on her IG (@newyork_rhymes), and listen to her poetry in podcasts, like the Hack Sessions (Spotify). Her poetry has been awarded twice (Minoan Publications Award, Panhellenic Poetry Award).

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Konstantina Theofanopoulou and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Mother

Mother, I see you turn off the lights and I remember
all those nights you tucked the covers under my feet.
I remember playing with your ears and singing a song about a goat and lentils.
It was my first ever song when I could barely speak.
I still love your lentils, mother.
Mother, your love could be counted on the times you said you’ve had enough food, just for the rest of us to have more.
You’ve chewed food into our mouth, mother.
I see you turn off the lights and I think
Behold my ancestry.

 

A Slip of the Tongue

As your tongue slips in your palatal cavities,
I imagine glottal stops unearthing fricatives from narrow caves of my body.
Instead I say: ‘In essence, all humans are equal, but this doesn’t mean all humans are the same.’
Your ‘hmmms’ make me wonder if nasal sounds really help us think.
You speak, but I keep hearing sounds only.
I can’t help but catching ‘Plato’.
I think this might be because I am attracted to liquid sounds and I now remember people say this for cats too.
‘Lucy, Luna, Charlie, make sure your cat’s name has an ‘l’ or ‘r’.’
Instead I say: ‘If we stop perpetuating rumors like this, it could really mean a new era for humans,
in fact, for all animals.’

 

Tones

—Jazzing around the blue skies
It was so long ago—
So long
But for you I’ve still got the
blues
Jazz me up
or
Rock and
Roll me away

—but I’ve still got the blues for you. —

October 26 – November 1: Poetry from Joan McNerney and Bruce Heard

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Joan McNerney

Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days.  Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Spectrum Publications have accepted her work.  She has four Best of the Net nominations.  Her latest title is The Muse in Miniature available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Joan McNerney and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Then

After twenty two
I swore to stay single.

I’d be a monkey’s aunt
before becoming a slave
to any man
giving up my name
losing my ambition
subordinate to HIM.

9 to 5
bad enough
forget 24/7!

Crazy lazy, crazy lazy.
No good renegade,
heretic, gypsy.
Too smart for
her own good.

But as luck had it
one guy fell head
over heels over me
and my defiant ways

Bruce Heard

Bruce Heard is a former student, seaman & radioman (US Coast Guard), recreational leader, surveyor, basketball coach, Athletic Director, public radio jazz and news radio announcer, radio and network engineer, and secondary social science school teacher who has been able to bring critical thinking skills into his current professional experience as information technology professional. Besides cycling, swimming, hiking and observing nature, Bruce’s hobbies include brewing beer, drawing, listening to jazz music, playing harmonic, reading, sipping coffee, wine tasting and writing poetry.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Bruce Heard and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Delta River Breeze

Delta river breeze escapes from the meandering river banks
dancing across fields of wispy rice plants
stair stepping almond trees, blossoms trailing in its wake
sliding down roof tops, slipping thru an iron gate
funneled by ivy covered walls
strumming the wooden clapper of the hanging chimes

 

Mile 11

feet screaming into worn leather hiking boots
weary legs drag them thru the dusty trail
sweat burning eyes
keys jangling every step
parched lips craving cold beer
dreaming of a cool shower
stretches of solitude are broken up by mountain bikers
annoying bastards defiantly pedal hiking trails
like flies, they persist anyway

October 19-25, 2020: Poetry from Diane Webster and Howie Good

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Diane Webster

Diane Webster enjoys the challenge of transforming images into words to fit her poems. Diane’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase and to write. Her work has appeared in “Old Red Kimono,” “Home Planet News Online,” “Toasted Cheese Literary Journal,” and other literary magazines.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Diane Webster and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Family Reunion

I sit in a lawn chair
with strangers birthed
from cousins we remember.
Cousins only seen at Christmas
or family gatherings when I
played with the other cousins.

I sit in the lawn chair awed
that dad’s brother was related,
that these people are related,
a branch flourishing,
a branch that must have been
grafted from a gnarled tree
grateful for deep roots.

I sit in a lawn chair
wondering if I belong,
if my last name is real,
if I was adopted, if my uncle
came to Grandpa and Grandma’s
table and stayed with the family
where I am the stranger guest.

Howie Good

Howie Good of Hyannis, MA, and Highland, NY, is the author most recently of The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press, 2020).

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Howie Good and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Lyric Mode

My wife and I are sitting having
a roll and coffee. From the way
she’s looking across the table at me,
kind of annoyed, almost cross,
I can guess what she’s thinking.
She’s thinking the sun comes
in our bedroom window much too early
every morning. But how is that
my fault? Love is infinitely shining.

 

I Dream of Covid

The billboard of the sky says,
Everybody Sees Billboards.
There’s only me. Who knows
whose hands or breath harbors
the virus? Belief systems have
collapsed, seemingly overnight.
Please, oh please, preserve me
from people who eat the same
lunch every day. More often
than not, autumn looms, fine,
black cracks etched all over.

 

Statistic

A boy lies sprawled
by the edge of the road,

his chest torn open
by a chunk of shrapnel.

You could see his heart beating
if you bothered to look.

October 12-18, 2020: Poetry from Jimmy Christon and Greg Farnum

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Jimmy Christon

Jimmy Christon is a writer from Oregon. He has published pieces with Adelaide Literary Magazine, Indicia Literary Journal, Closed Eye Open, and Ethos Literary Journal. An alum of Vassar College, he thinks that he has talked with Thomas Pynchon on online literature forums.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Jimmy Christon and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

On the couch

is someone sleeping.
I don’t know their name
they got in last night.
It is six thirty in the morning,
our shower is behind their couch;
it is loud, unruly, and leaks.
I do not wish to wake them.

The kitchen can clamor softly.
Eggs tactically cracked,
and coffee ground diligently—
my winter coat wrapped around the grinder
a swath of muffled mayhem, confined within the kitchen.
The hot pot cooking eggs will silently fume
small trails of steam let off from my head.

This much self control, this early in the morning,
is truly a dangerous thing.

Greg Farnum

Greg has been a soldier, student, soil tester, factory worker, pizza deliveryman, journalist, author of The Pizza Diaries, Helping Hands of the Locust People, and other books.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Greg Farnum and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

What’s Needed

A new treat from the street vendors: duck grease on a stick.
Do I need it…
or do I need innovative voice solutions?
Do I need a look that’s as young as I feel?
Do I need a truck that works as hard as I do?
Do I need to synch my alerts across devices?
Do I need subscriber access to premium content?
Do I need to remember that as racing champion Bobby Unser said, Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.
Do I need to drive the new XT5 to know I’ve arrived?
Do I need artisanal chocolate bars?
Do I need to know what celebrity sons Dylan and Paris did at the Golden Globes?
Do I need to know the 11 major Kardashian moments of 2019?
Do I need to know about the Kate Beckinsale photo that is strictly NSFW?
Do I need to know more about the celebrity I forgot?
Do I really need to know why Ivanka won’t commit?
Do I need to know why Aldi shoppers were furious?
Do I need to know?
Do I need to be the Santa of sports nutrition?
Do I need to BOGO on LED hats?
Do I need to know about the scrappy new comedy horror that’s all bark and no bite?
Do I need to know why Avengers: Endgame made even more money than anticipated?
Do I need to know more about the Georgia couple who were terrified when a hacker…
Do I need to give back to my community?
Do I need to give back to the heroes?
Do I really need to dance for products?
How shall I know which products to dance for? Will the commercials tell me?
Do I need to know about the crowd pleasing sleepers with surprise megabucks deals?
Do I need to know which celebs are already rocking this fall’s hottest fashion trends?
Do I need to know how Paul Walker cracked open the “90s golden boy” schtick?
Do I need to know what that means?
Do I need to know why unions need to start treating employers as partners and not as adversaries?
Do I need to see how Kate Beckansall (sp?) sizzles in beach getaway?
Do I need to read more about a star I’d never heard of?
Do I need a magical Disney vacation?
Do I need to know more about their Wellness Options?
Do I need a car that’s been bred for the American road?
Do I need to drive the XT6 to know that I’ve arrived?
Do I need, as Ciara suggests, to get my funk on?
Do I need to know about the new ingredient that can add zest to my smoothie?
Do I need to know when that time will come again — the time of the giant BOGO…the doorbuster…the monster Sales Event?
Do I need to go viral?
BE THE HOTSPOT. Do I need to do that?
Do I need to capture the meme-train?
Do I need another chance at a vacation in paradise?
Do I need to begin the conversation?
Do I need to follow my dreams?
Do I need to make a compellingly personal statement with my product choices?
Do I need to act now to lock in a great low rate?
Do I need to SHOP NOW to SAVE BIG?
Do I really need ice-blown kettle-boiled barrel-aged old tyme goodness?
Do I really need every aspect of that product?
That can’t be real, right? I misheard…right?
Do I need the 1More Piston Fit E 1009 for only 14 pounds in time for the holidays?
Do I need to know about the new biologic that’s good news for my colon?
Do I need to see the throwback bikini photo?
Do I need to see football players dancing?
Do I need to follow my dreams of locking in a great low rate while my shoes say a lot about me? Is that the viral conversation I need to begin?
Do I really need to know if this is really my last chance to take advantage of these giant BOGO deals?
Do I need to rethink my approach to customized benefits management?
Do I need gluten-free keto-friendly?
Go to dot com slash BOGO.
Do I need to rethink my approach to BOGO? What does the shopping expert say?
Do I need to warn my readers that some scenes may contain violence or smoking?
Do I need to set a reminder to tell me when the game starts?
Do I need to address my digital device by name?
Do I really need to be all that I can be? In the Marines? With Microsoft?
With the Microsoft Marines?
Do I need to know about the six women who are changing the meat industry?
Do I need an experience of excitement and adventure for the whole family?
Do I need to know more about the feel-good movie of the year?
Do I need to know more about this big land of ours?
Go to .com/BOGO.
Do I need to learn more about the natural laxative with fewer side effects?
Do I need to know more about the urban area that offers a vibrant street art scene, a website with powerful engagement tools, and trendy street vendors selling duck grease on a stick?
Be sure to register and use your card to qualify!
Be sure to download the App!
Do I need to check my phone?
Do I need to consume my own tail?
Yes.
Yes, I need it all…and I will have it.

October 5-11, 2020: Poetry from Contest Winners Taylor Byas, B.J. Buckley, and Angele Ellis

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Learn more about the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest here.

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Taylor Byas

Taylor Byas won first place in the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio an is a black poet and essayist. Originally from Chicago, She moved to Alabama for six years, where she received both her Bachelor’s degree in English and her Master’s degree in English (Creative Writing concentration) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her poetry has appeared in New Ohio Review, The Journal, storySouth, Glass Poetry, and others. She has poems forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, Hobart, Pidgeonholes, and others. Her prose appears or is forthcoming in Another Chicago Magazine, Empty Mirror, Jellyfish Review, and others. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and Best New Poets 2020.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Taylor Byas and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Black Girl Comes To Dinner

We drive into the belly of Alabama,
where God tweezed the highway’s two lanes
down to one, where my stomach
bottoms out on each brakeless fall.

Where God tweezed the highway’s two lanes
with heat, a mirage of water shimmers into view then
bottoms out. On each brakeless fall,
I almost tell you what I’m thinking, my mouth brimming

with heat. A mirage of water shimmers into view then
disappears beneath your tires. 
I almost tell you what I’m thinking, my mouth brimming
with blues. Muddy Waters’ croon

disappears beneath your tires.
I want to say I’m nervous beneath a sky brilliant
with blues. Muddy Waters’ croon,
the only loving I’m willing to feel right now, the only loving

I want. To say I’m nervous beneath a sky brilliant
enough to keep me safe means to face what night brings.
The only loving I’m willing to feel right now, the only loving
that will calm me—I need you to tell me I am

enough. To keep me safe means to face what night brings
to the black girl in a sundown town—
that will calm me. I need you to tell me I am
safe. That they will love me, that the night will not gift fire

to the black girl in a sundown town.
Your grandmother folds me into her arms and I try to feel
safe. That they will love me, that the night will not gift fire
are mantras to repeat as

your grandmother folds me into her arms. And I try to feel
grateful. But get home before it’s too late and watch out for the flags
are mantras to repeat as
we drive into the belly of Alabama.

B.J. Buckley

B.J. Buckley won second place in the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She is a Power, Montana poet and writer who 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 © 2020, and owned by B.J. Buckley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Diana in Autumn

I am not afraid to say I live by blood.

Before that red flow gushed
from my own belly

I was a swimmer elbow-deep
in the carcasses of deer,

I ripped breath’s tunnel
from a slit throat,
used all my strength
against the weight
of a stomach full of grass
and alder shoots.
I held a heart, still beating,
in my hand,
took with soft lips
from the blade of my father’s knife
that slice of liver, hot and raw,
my first communion.

Before my breasts bloomed
I had burned bodies,
torn flesh from bones,
howled the mad wild joy of it.
Eden is closed,
and I in every ruddy leaf
am Fallen.
I love the incense of decay,
the deer,
this dust we are
and were and will be,

the arrow singing slaughter

in my hand.

Angele Ellis

Angele Ellis is the third place winner of the 2020 Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was also the 3rd place winner in the 2018 Poetry Super Highway contest, and served as a judge in our 2019 contest. Her poetry has appeared on a movie theater marquee, after winning Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ G-20 Haiku Contest. She is author of Arab on Radar (Six Gallery), whose poems won a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Spared (A Main Street Rag Editors’ Choice Chapbook), and Under the Kaufmann’s Clock (Six Gallery), a poetry-prose hybrid inspired by her adopted city of Pittsburgh, PA, with photographs by Rebecca Clever. She is a longtime editor and community activist, and has committed civil disobedience seven times.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Angele Ellis and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Scenes from Frozen River

(1) Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning

to this burdened snowscape, this land pressed
flat by a lake effect sky. The deep blue bays
of Ontario ripple and swell, an ocean
drawing in. Tides, shrieking gulls, shells.

Twenty years ago, pulling up to a cousin’s
winterized cottage in Chaumont—Shah-moan,
for the French nobleman who claimed it—
her mother warned: Don’t be shocked if she’s strange.

O God of our childhood. She was bloated and strung out
on pain pills—shaking and keening over her best friend,
killed in that so-called one-car accident two years before.
Broken—broken through a frosted wall of glass

the fabled good looks of Yasmina,
my father’s far relation. On that other side—
unknown beauty whose tear-stained mouth embraced
her steering wheel at the terminus of white tracks.

My aunt: She wouldn’t have wanted to live after that.


(2) Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning

to this burdened snowscape, this land where
a hard-bitten movie heroine craves a doublewide,
bad enough to smuggle illegals on thin ice
over the invisible border slicing the Mohawk rez.

I know her plowed-field misery. And the other,
her accomplice: black hair and pillowed cheeks.
The young face of my Mohawk cousins, before
we started gambling, every goddamn day.

I know that plywood shelf crowned with Regal,
these dead drifts deeper than crevasses,
those thrift stores stalked by marked-down bosses.
This land slapped flat by a husband’s hand.

On film, beached hope is salvaged. The ravaged
woman goes to jail. Her Mohawk friend tends
their children in the showroom trailer, gleaming
whale tamed by its female Jonah. Swallowed

whole into darkness, I no longer care how it ends.


3) Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning

to this burdened snowscape, this land, in a van
far removed from the rattling paneled station wagons
of our pasts. Upholstered plush muffles gossip
as we glide, cresting the scenic route. There’s

no place like home! cries a cousin, half-amazed.
We finger landmarks from her tinted windows.
Almost a pleasure trip, this funeral: what’s left
to the middle-aged. Another death, yet we go on

like the Donner Party, sucking marrow from dry bones.
Does it matter who remains among the living?
This land pressed flat in our broken View-Master.
Bovine doublewides grazing the old farms. Lusting

for nothing, we laugh to break the stitches in our sides.

September 28 – October 4, 2020: Poetry from Gonzalo Adolfo and Robert Ronnow

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Gonzalo Adolfo

Gonzalo Adolfo is a Bolivian-American writer and author of the novel, No Rush for Gold, and the mixed poetry and prose volume, Gone to War. His international publishing credits include Presence and The Opiate, among a handful of other well-known and underground literary and haiku magazines in North America and Europe. He lives in Berkeley, California where he pursues his profession as a sommelier and his passion for poetry. Follow his work at: bumhew.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Gonzalo Adolfo and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

A Visit to Badlands National Park

rises like a dam
to the sky, jagged
wall of the Badlands

* * *

putting itself on a
pedestal, petite turquoise bird
perches atop a stalk

* * *

what looks desolate is
not so, bighorn sheep
devour a late lunch

* * *

running and scaling the
rough wall, little rodent
hunting and being hunted

* * *

loud birds singing in
my ear, perk of
a trail to myself

* * *

foraging in the road,
little tubby beaver in
no hurry at all

* * *

sad sighting by the
road, gangly ram with
a heavy metal collar

* * *

as grotesque as it
is striking, a bison
grazes at its leisure

* * *

where red Badlands rock
becomes verdant, mounds of
lush green and gold

Robert Ronnow

Robert Ronnow’s most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Robert Ronnow and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Canopy and Economy

Sun and traffic–day economy.
Six a.m. drive to plywood mill. Too tired
to be angry. Each day a step
toward death. What is being accomplished? The
small satisfactions
within each day. Book consciously read.
And frustrations. Package dropped, honey jar broke.

One of 175 soil types. With the fifty
tree species
comprising the canopy under which Eric and Lisa clean their baby’s face.

Sun in winter, old apples.

Inside the school
a brilliant but rebellious history teacher
is suspended by the school board.
200 students
wearing armbands and painted teardrops
protest. Another 400
are silent.

Within each structure
human dramas and routines.
Nancy will not love
any man who cannot do as many push-ups as she.

Trees grow,
porcupine scat in snow.

No job,
no niche,
no existence.
How you earn money is who you are. You are
what you do to get food to eat
and shelter from the winter, summer heat.

Each morning I seek God
by holding still
waiting for the smoke to be black or white
coins heads or tails
wind dark or bright.

Flock of evening grosbeaks
nipping maple buds:
the sign I need.

* * *

Less need =
more wealth.
2/23/89. So much equipment just to sleep.
More than a bare floor.
Plumbing vs.
wash at stream, find a log in woods.
Implements of human existence
unlike the deer or bear who
nip buds, forage berries.
I cannot eat the gum out of balsam fir
or bark from a popple.

I am not Wendell Berry
with a wife, a farm, philosophy.
I like the accuracy
of counting pear thrips in maple buds.
8/bud = complete defoliation.
This insect has four wings fringed with hairs
and is minute, 2.5 millimeters.
Two species within the genus:
one with tubular abdominal segment,
the other with conical abdominal segment.
Sugar maple their preferred food.

All I need
are names.
Names and habitats.
Elements, products, decay fungi, egg masses.
Marriage, copulation, regeneration, education.
Machinery, accounting, hand tools, laboratory.
I need your names
and histories.
Sexual histories, books read, imaginings, unrequited loves, significant landscapes, broken bones, periods of boredom, favorite shows.

* * *

Immediately means
without mediation, intermediate moments
time in the middle.

Time in the middle
time in the middle.
I’m bummed I never saw a dinosaur, an ice age, a cave man, even missed the last world war.
Thanks to paleontology, geology, archaeology, history
mind equipped to take
time out of the middle.
It’s in our DNA!

Why should she love me, her tenant?
Because I pay the rent on time.

* * *

Excellent. The white sun rose
and lit the frost.
Early February, late March, or in between.
Birds begin
discussing family. Sap starts to flow.
Where the borer spirals in, it comes out wet.
Birch or maple.

I watched from the window. Beautiful
but no desire to go out and touch
swelling buds of elderberry.
Is this shrub crazy? It knows what it knows
with elderberry knowledge.

Come Spring, so much to identify and name.
Insects, diseases and new flowers.
Lepidoptera, root rot, the pinks.
I think I might get married too
and watch the moons pass through the mists.

* * *

March rain.

Some snow remains
roads dangerous

but truck deliveries must be made.
                                                               The light
pushing back the dark.
Bark
getting softer, slippery
at the cambium. Sap
simmering. Summer
and spring are here and there
although only winter birds are in the air.
Some buds
break swell
want
to turn inside out
but wait
knowing better.

I too will not break or run
early
hold hope bound by ropes of discipline, experience
time the magic moments to come
take the last sleet and pain
slap in the face
glad for predictable seasons.
                                                     We anticipate however
drought, maple defoliation, increased gypsy moth infestations
which some attribute to our existence.
That may be true.
Or it may be that the universe
has reversed its decision on us
and there’s nothing we can do.
But we will do
what we can
and some things we shouldn’t
because that is human.

Continuing
into the space inside me
unconnected to the light switch, plumbing
fairly independent of materials beyond
food and sound.
Where I pray
like an oak
that the light will enter me

unbroken, forever
and I will live the meanings in the wind.
                                                                       Basic
necessities, wood
wine
and friends. And
the names
of everything
by which we know our way.

September 21-27, 2020: Poetry from DS Maolalai and Sue Fagalde Lick

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DS Maolalai

DS Maolalai has been nominated seven times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by DS Maolalai and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Driving to New York.

stretching over roads
like rubber bands
past breaking –
and we were 16 hours
on a straight rush
to New York, running
from Toronto. shifting
in our seats and arguing
over radio, piss-breaks
and the value
of stopping off in Boston
for a night.

I won
and we kept going.
5 hours later
we’d gone inches on the map
and I began to regret
my somewhat pigheaded insistence,
though afterward,
skipping the tunnel
and going through
the north of the city? that
is my idea, too,
and I stand by it.

people in the street
smoking
drinking beer
and listening to music.
people
out the window
with real lives. tourism
all safe
motion
and we don’t get
to go back
up-town
the whole weekend.

it was strange too,
turning the corner –
you could barely
snap your fingers
between the Bronx
and mid-town
but suddenly
everything was duller

with flowers
coming out of windows
and plenty of well-
behaved dogs.

Sue Fagalde Lick

Sue Fagalde Lick, A writer/musician/dog mom, has recently published two chapbooks, Gravel Road Ahead and The Widow at the Piano: Poems by a Distracted Catholic. Her poems have appeared in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Willawaw, Cloudbank, New Letters, The American Journal of Poetry, and other publications. When not writing, she leads an alternate life as a Catholic music minister.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Sue Fagalde Lick and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Finders Keepers in the Time of COVID-19

Is that money? I ask my big yellow dog
as we enter the open area off the gravel road
where fishermen dump bones and cut-off fins.
She’s busy crunching cartilage while I
grab as many bones as I can, tossing them
into the Scotch broom and salal lest she choke.

Without thinking, I snatch up
two greenbacks folded together,
fallen from somebody’s pocket.
Score! I stuff them into my jeans.
I mean, you find a penny or a dollar bill,
you take it as a gift. It’s yours.

Then I remember the blasted plague:
People breathing through tubes, dying alone,
all of us wearing masks, staying apart,
friends who won’t touch their mail,
who wash the bottoms of their shoes.
What have I gotten on my hand?

Should I put the money back? Too late.
I rub my hand in the weeds. Too dry
to wash the invisible plague away.
Poisoned fingers hanging at my side,
I urge the puzzled dog toward home
where I wash and wash and wash my hands.

September 14-20, 2020: Poetry from Sean Lause and Patricia Godwin Dunleavy

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Sean Lause

Sean Lause is a professor of English at Rhodes State College in Lima, Ohio. His poems have appeared in The Minnesota Review, The Alaska Quarterly, Another Chicago Magazine, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Illuminations and Poetry International.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Sean Lause and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Journey with no sound

A hand throws open
a library window
to release the silence.

Freed from words,
it hovers
between drops of rain.

It predicts the dance of leaves,
and it is the patience
the grass keeps.

It comprehends a massacre,
Yet the dover, fading to sleep,
folds it in her cloak.

Between light and darkness
it expands.
It exceeds the hidden wound.

Entering your house,
it inhabits your furniture
and mocks your personal philosophy.

It knows the end
of longing and misery,
and awaits your final breath of surrender.

Patricia Godwin Dunleavy

Patricia Godwin Dunleavy is primarily a nonfiction writer buts tries her pen at poetry. She is the author of several newspaper and magazine articles and columns as well as numerous newsletters. She self-published Landscape Lessons: A Practical and Inspirational Primer for the Southern Soil and Soul (Terratype Press, 2009), and she co-authored a self-help legal book (Sphinx Publishing, 1993 and 1995). She has also had a few of her poems published online with Poetry Super Highway and Haikuniverse. She resides in Ila, GA, spends a great deal of time in the western North Carolina mountains, and travels throughout the United States regularly. Understanding and enjoying Nature is a passion that inspires her writing.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Patricia Godwin Dunleavy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

February Deluge

i.

In late light and rain
I plod to the lake—
from soaked grass
to slippery red mud
to sodden mulch—
a maze of cushions
under my feet,
the gravel road submerged

the pungent odor
of our resident skunk
competes with the
acrid chickens up the road,
the sweet smell of Edgeworthia
drowned

my rubber shoes
not quite tall enough,
my pants too long

the lake overflows its banks,
it overflows the spillway,
the drain pipe gulps and burps,
the down stream rushes white

feeder creeks bulge,
rush over footbridges,
cover tree feet,
lay down ferns

sticks, mud, and cane
of the beaver dam
fan open in the middle,
water pools on the sides

without my walking stick,
saw briars rip across my pants
scratch my thigh
cut my hand

Up slope, in the woods,
the earthy smelling detritus
absorbed the torrent—
no standing water to dodge
no thinking a course of travel

ii.

Three days later
I walk against
cold wind
to the lake,
gravel firm


pools receded,
mulch and limbs
scattered on
muddy roadside,
magnolia leaves
block drain pipe

whiff of
stinky skunk
interrupts
crisp air

ditches grooved wider, deeper,
fluvial rows of
leaves stacked on edge—
bundles of flattened cardboard


yesterday’s snowfall
splats icy on my head,
white icing spreads
over fallen trees

rivulets trickle through cane
into creeks
water seeps through grass
into lake—
all calm within their banks

beaver-cut log
smoothed with age
lies on grass
at high water mark

northern flicker
drums white oak,
hundreds of robins
sing Spring

September 7-13: Poetry from Christopher Nielsen and C.W. Bigelow

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Christopher Nielsen

Christopher Nielsen is a writer and photographer. Traveling the many back roads has provided a wealth of inspiration out in nature. He has been a featured poet at Kern Poetry. His works have appeared in Barren Magazine, Mojave Heart Review, Rabid Oak, West Texas Literary Review, Writing Sound, Writing Fields and others. Soon in The Blue Mountain Review. Visit him on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Christopher Nielsen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Driftwood Shelter

In the driftwood shelter,
tide out.

Pacific waves lap
gently on the shore,
stars in the sky and
on the water.

Love and I,
blanket around us
beach sand still warm
between our toes.

Light wind with
serendipitous foggy swirls,
the busy world of
ten thousand things
far, far away.

C.W. Bigelow

After receiving his B.A. in English from Colorado State University, C.W. Bigelow lived in nine northern states, both east and west, before moving south to Mooresville, NC. His short stories and poems have appeared in Full of Crow, The Flexible Persona, Literally Stories, Compass Magazine, FishFood Magazine, Five2One, Crack the Spine, Sick Lit Magazine, Brief Wilderness, Anthology: River Tales by Zimbell House Publishing, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, Midway Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Temptation Press Anthology – Private Lessons, Poydras Review, Cleaning Up Glitter, The Blue Mountain Review, Glassworks, Blood & Bourbon, The Courtship of Winds with stories forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys and Good Works Review. See his books on Amazon here.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by C.W. Bigelow and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Confirmation

When indestructible elm trees
lined the streets
I was sentenced to
a roomful of shadows

guarded by stacks of Bibles
every afternoon until
I was awarded a
membership in God’s club.

Skin thin wafer melting on my tongue,
and washed down with his blood
each morning before school –
my new breakfast of champion.

The vibrant sunrays
sliced the stained glass
imprisoning Biblical
figures of martyrdom.

Walking by chains of sturdy oak pews
through the inebriating scent of
Frankincense and Myrrh,
my footsteps echoed off high ceilings.

While the locks to the
imposing doors
suddenly slid
into place

as the sirens flew,
safety squandered
in the once
convivial arms.

The sturdy Elms
had fallen
victim
to Dutch Elm disease.

Limbs crashing to the ground
signaled an alarm
and Nature’s struggle
jarred me, guiding me

with the music of chainsaws
to my new pattern of
free will
outside those hallowed halls.

August 31 – September 6, 2020: Poetry from Ingrid Bruck and Keran Olm-Stoelting

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Ingrid Bruck

Ingrid Bruck lives in Pennsylvania Amish country, a landscape that inhabits her poetry. Current work appears in Leaves of Ink, Failed Haiku, Otata and Quatrain.Fish. Poetry website: www.ingridbruck.com

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Ingrid Bruck and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Nine Haiku

sap moon
underground
a stream

pounding rain
shuts off the lights
corona virus

rush hour
bursting from the cave
bats

birds flying
the sunset trail
westward ho

doves
non-stop air to ground
warbling

first and last
get only children time
in large families

buck moon
traveling with me
in the car

daybreak
tree leaves dripping
stars

breezy predawn
ebbing chimes
lap the dark
(After: evening breeze/water laps the legs/ of the blue heron ~by Buson)

Keran Olm-Stoelting

Rev. Dr. Keran Olm-Stoelting is originally from Illinois and now lives in Florida.  She has recently retired from a 30 year career in the ordained ministry of the United Church of Christ. Much of her writing has been liturgies, sermons, memorial services, weddings and memoirs of appreciation to loved ones.    She recently began writing poetry which makes her heart sing.  She is now completing The Poetry’s Path, an online class taught by Marc Olmstead. This class has opened her up to a passion of pursuing her creative process through poetry.  Keran is widowed and lives with her housemate, Carolyn, in Venice, Florida.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Keran Olm-Stoelting and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

An Excerpt of a Letter to Ex-husband

Our high school experience
when I look at the pictures
I laugh at two gawky teenagers
with graduation gowns
their baby in the audience
on my mother’s lap
Actually we handled that pretty well.

August 24-30, 2020: Poetry from John F. McMullen and Vicky Ferguson

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John F. McMullen

John F. McMullen, is the Poet Laureate of the Town of Yorktown, NY, an adjunct professor at Westchester Community College, a graduate of Iona College and the holder of two Masters degrees from Marist College, a member of the American Academy of Poets and Poets & Writers, the author of over 2,500 columns and articles and 11 books, 9 of which are collections of poetry, and is the host of a weekly Internet Radio Show (300 shows to date).

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by John F. McMullen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Coronavirus
The Blame Game

My electricity is back
but not my cable service
so I have no telephone,
television, or Internet

My cable service tells
me that my service
will come back when
the power does

I reply that my power
has been back for
three days – “ah then
the power company
must not be giving
us power to give you
service

And the blame game goes on
Democrats blame Republicans
and cities will have to layoff
firemen, police , and teachers
Republicans blame Democrats
and millions of out-of-work
Americans will lose added benefits

Trump blames everyone (but himself)
for everything: Democrats, Republicans,
governors, Chinese, “nobody told me”,
staff, McCain, BLM — but mainly Obama

And I blame him
and my cable company

Vicky Ferguson

Vicky Ferguson is a retired educator and lives in Venice, Florida otherwise known as Paradise. She has been writing poetry since she was about 12 years old. It has always been a way for her to balance her emotions with what is going on in the world. She has only recently started sending her poetry out into the world. Vicky decided she wanted her voice to be heard.

The following work is Copyright © 2020, and owned by Vicky Ferguson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Images

Shaded by Bahama shutter
Windowsill
holding portrait
and sign singing
“It is well with my soul”
under a stained-glass window 
of a woman
wild and free
riding the rays
of the sun.

Early American Art
of Jonah inside 
the belly of the whale
set on top of bookshelf 
as if to bite the antlers 
off the buffalo
fleeing
from the Alaskan totem.

Walls in Livingroom
covered with paintings of birds
herons, ibises, great blues
alongside the mermaid clock
ticking, ticking, ticking
As the spoonbill mother 
teaches the youngster
how to build a nest.

Stacks of books
prop up wall
under bulletin board
holding Laughing Jesus
Maya Angelou
and a day of the dead
skull

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