Poets of the Week

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Tom Pennacchini

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

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

Winged Ones

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

Natalie Cortez-Klossner

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

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

Américan

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

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

When the Redwoods
out west
no longer fear lightning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Randi Israelow

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

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

Hey Zester Inventor, I’m Kissing You Now!

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

Gregory Davis

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

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

Blue Collar Blues

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


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

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


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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Cameron Morse

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

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

The Swing

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon Hansen

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

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

In Montana a Gray Cat Sprints Two Blocks Down the Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Hanoch Guy

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

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

Don’t make trouble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Howie Good

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

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

Rumored Whereabouts

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

&

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

&

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Brian Builta

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

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

My Life as a Duck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruth Chad

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

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

On Rio Grande Beach After My Mother’s Death

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

Driftwood petrified     gleaming white
in withering light

A lightning crab
dead on the sand

A deposit of whelk
picked through by ibis

What am I searching for?
My mother is in me

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


~


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

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

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

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

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

The molted skin
of a snake

A sea star     dead
yet the flesh seems so alive

 

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

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

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

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Robin Dake

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

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

One Suitcase

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

Lisa Rhodes-Ryabchich

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

B. J. Buckley

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

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

Hagendorfer’s Garage

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

Jan Harris

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

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

We eat oranges and talk about the nature of truth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashley Cline

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Andrew M. Bowen

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

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

Tanka 116

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

Thérèse Naccarato

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

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

Driver’s ED

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Peehu Singh

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

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

Girl(Please Interrupt Me)

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

Shai Afsai

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

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

Poem of an End

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

After Yehuda Amichai’s “Poem Without an End”


In a synagogue
they have made a Jewish museum.

The Torah scrolls and rabbi’s chair
are gone.

There are no children running through
the aisles

no elderly congregants
claim their regular seats.

In their place –

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

They have made a Jewish museum
in a synagogue.

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

Instead of prayer and study

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

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

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

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

For what else can the building be used?

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

The full moon wanes.

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Nanette Rayman-Rivera

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

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

a husband goes missing

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

Charlie Brice

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

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

I’m Not Writing a Poem

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

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

 

Midnight Dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Samanta Daničić

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

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

Sunbather

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

Grant Vecera

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

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

Burning Money

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Leigh Parsons

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

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

Princess of Ruin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alan Altany

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

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

Wabi-Sabi #2

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

LindaAnn LoSchiavo

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

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

Grandpa Umberto’s Fig Trees

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

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

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

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

Abdulrosheed Oladipupo Fasasi

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

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

We Lived Happily During the War

(After Ilya Kaminsky)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Eleanor Crews

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

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

last day (fragments)

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

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

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

 

honeoye I

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

Glenn Ingersoll

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

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

Old Heart

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Chuck Von Nordheim

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

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

Derrick Considers The Career Consequences of Cosplay

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

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

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

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

KC Hill

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

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

Combed up Velvet

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Rati Pednekar

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

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

Pasta in Puttanesca Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jennifer M Phillips

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

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

From the Cavern of the Winds

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Moe Phillips

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

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

Lost Then Found

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

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

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

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

Sarah Johnnes

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

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

An act of mental decluttering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Darrell Parry

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

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

Her belly-button

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

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

Robin Shepard

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

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

Breakfast at Zingo’s Café

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

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

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Malik Selle

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

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

The Desert or The Bay

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

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

Don Bellinger

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

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

Morning Loomed

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Kelli Simpson

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

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

One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One.

 

After Fasting

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

Layla Lenhardt

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

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

Quiet Corners

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

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

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

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

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

 

South Paw

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

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

Mary Beth Hines

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

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

On Barefoot Beach

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

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

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

 

Blue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Joel Bush

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

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

The Best Part of My Day

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

 

Someone

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

Srishti Saharia

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

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

My Nose Was God’s Afterthought

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

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

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

haiku

lone lost bee

on the back of my hand

anticipating spring


hands of a clock
raise arms in desperation
fight against time

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

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

falling cherry blossoms

blind the eyes

with their bright white


grape blood on my tongue
a wine fairy tale
red lips

Lori Lasseter Hamilton

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

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

The things I remember

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Susan Ioannou

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

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

Old Black Cat

(for Rappa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

poem

Nicholas Abanavas

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

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

Avenue of Americas

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

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

 

Midnight Express

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

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Shirley Obitz

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

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

When Angie Speaks

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

Adele Kenny

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

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

Stars, Like Souls

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Rp Verlaine

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

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

Lilli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joan Fingon

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

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

The Diner

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

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

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

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

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

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Elisa Albo

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

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

Pandemic Diagnosis: Tinnitus

~a haku of haiku

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

***

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

***

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

***

An old radio
feigns static between stations
but flatter, constant

***

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

James Croal Jackson

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

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

St. Petersburg, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the familiar, unpaved road to drive on.

 

Shirtless in Goodale Park

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

 

White Noise Eucharist

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 6-12, 2022: Poetry from Leslie Dianne and Colin Morton

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Leslie Dianne

Leslie Dianne is a poet,  novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama in New York City. Her stage plays have been produced in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and The Lamb’s Theater.  She holds a BA in French Literature from CUNY and her poems have appeared in  Noctivant Press,  The Wild Word, Trouvaille Review, Moida, Sparks of Calliope and The Elevation Review and are forthcoming in Wood Cat Review and Sanjoko. Her poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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

Rastaman

When you talk to me
with that Kingston
accent I feel the island
tilt with the tides
and pull us to the
other side of the moon
where everything is
upside down and inside out
and I am a silent shout
full of your voice

When you talk to
me your bright cadence
chases me,
my skin grows dark
in the glow of your syllables
and I tan until
I am as black as coal

When you rasta me with
your sun drenched
voice I am a jewel
dropped from the stars
a diamond
freefalling
through space
down to your island
into your arms

 

My Name

My name sounds different
in other languages
some take the first
syllable and roll it
allowing it to uncurl
in the mouth
and blossom forth
others restrain the
first letter,
emphasizing the vowel,
opening up the sound
like a yawn
others laugh at the end
their voices exclamation points 
rising in joy
other shout it out in surprise
and that’s okay too
because from the resonance
of my name and
the rhythm of breath
there’s always the possibility
of a song
a dance, a poem
or even a kiss

Colin Morton

Colin Morton has published many books and chapbooks of poetry including award winners The Merzbook: Kurt Scwitters Poems and Coastlines of the Archipelago. as well as stories and reviews, a novel, an award-winning animated film, and video poems accessible at https://www.youtube.com/user/alrickhuebener. Visit Colin on the web here.

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

Travelling

In some games it’s illegal,
some lands too. Authorities
bounce you from pen to cell to crowded arena.

There’s no shot clock;
the shelter you throw up today
may become your children’s home.

But you don’t lose hope:
some bullies foul out.
And your grandchildren

may extend the clock
well into overtime
when anything can happen.

 

Nimrod

Ancient temples stud the battlefield
where in lulls in the fighting monuments are mined.
Ur has long vanished, now Nineveh’s wall.
No need for dementia to rob memory
when powder more caustic than the sand
that buried Ozymandias comes cheap as life
and martial voices confound the language.

When the land falls silent and warriors are gone
what will remind us who we were
but unexploded mines lurking in the soil
to curse the name of those who went before?

 

Nose Hill Revisited

No horses graze above the city now.
Mint and sage, the prairie’s scent remains.
Abandoned cars we found as boys,
home to families of fox or skunk,
have long-since been hauled away.

I leave the gravel path,
follow deer trails into willow brake,
through damp coulee where spring runoff pools,
look out at mountains snow-capped in the sun,
or east toward the vague horizon,
the mirage I chased so far.

On the frontier of a growing city
poised between boom and bust,
we walked to schools named for Mounties
‒ Colonel Irvine, Colonel Macleod ‒
grew up itching for a fight
or challenge, enemy or rival.

We roamed hills known for eons
to hunters who left little trace.
Wrote our initials in fresh cement,
instant fossils of the post-war boom.

We’d do anything to matter
though we saw what it did to our dads.
We climbed a slope where we cast a long shadow,
shouted our names to the wind.

May 30 – June 5, 2022: Poetry from Diane Elayne Dees and James Stemmle

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Diane Elayne Dees

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books) and the forthcoming chapbook, The Last Time I Saw You. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana—just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans—also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

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

The Properties of Ice

Ice is deceptive.
It shimmers, reflects light,
paints tranquil scenes
of white clouds, blue skies,
and sculptural tree limbs—
or sparkling mosaics
of sequins, crystals and beads.

But cracks in the ice expand rapidly,
exposing the fluid vulnerability
of our foundations. And too much
ice freezes the flow of blood,
destroys tissue, constricts the lungs.
A prolonged freeze destroys the heart.

A frozen body never grows,
frozen potential is a tragedy,
and frozen hope is a kind of death.
Sharp blades dig into the ice,
shaping dreams and carving legends.

But later, in the cold stillness
of abandonment, after the music
ends and the final spin winds down—
glistening on the barren surface,
like raindrops frozen forever:
Kamila’s tears.

James Stemmle

James T. Stemmle is an old man, currently living in retirement in WV with his wife. In warm weather, he writes poetry during morning meditations on a bench in his backyard, where, immersed in nature, it is so quiet that, depending on atmospheric conditions, he can sometimes hear interstate traffic four miles distant. He had a Federal Government career mostly with EPA, earned a doctorate from Catholic U in Chemistry, and was born in Louisville, KY. He is eager to share some of his accumulating poetry, currently enough to fill 7 one-inch binders and part of the 8th.

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

The Holy Foreskin

Jesus was in Mary when he grew his
holy foreskin and at age of eight days
it got clipped circumcised if you like

scripture and the story goes because
of a strong adumbrating dream it was
preserved in nard and eight hundred

years later mysteriously imparted to
Charlemagne emperor of the Holy
Roman Empire when he visited the

holy land believers found it had the
power of replication and so little
daughter foreskins made their way

across Europe to live in several
cathedrals Catherine of Sienna who
espoused herself to Jesus wore one

as a wedding band and subsequently
got herself promoted to patron saint
of Italy today coming as it does from

an unmentionable body part the church
puts distance laughs at its former self
and the holy foreskin has fallen in

stature the very idea into the trenches
of academic research to a Canadian
doctoral dissertation and a radio

documentary disclosing a lot of
truth about religion and other human
propensities including greed under

lying pilgrim souvenir merch

May 23-29, 2022: Poetry from Jane Goold-Caulfield and Peter Mladinic

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Jane Goold-Caulfield

Retired, getting older, losing friends like teeth in a comb. Swimming and writing to stay alive.

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

Her Things

In June
in Barbara’s house
her things were there

Her prized pottery
Her skyblue-painted chairs
Her clothes hanging neatly
in the closet
Only she was gone

That day, we failed
to fully grasp her absence
so central in her life
were her things

We wore masks
Sat in the sun
Told stories of her
Scattered ashes
with her spoons

Now the house is empty
Her things flown away
I mourn them
as much
as I mourn her

Though dispersed
among strangers
I trust
each piece
will carry her spirit
into their lives

That way
I can better accept
The diaspora of her things

Peter Mladinic

Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications.  An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico.

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

Leave

There’s the door, the night.
Go out into it. Leave.

Down from my apartment
in a park a Sunday concert,
a heart surgeon said of home,
“I don’t miss it.”

Leave,
like the leaves on trees.
Faces we’ll never see again,
an ocean lies between us.

But there’s the Chapel of Hope.
I enter. In the casket lies Roy,
my eldest friend.

Gone but not like the fugitive
hops a boxcar,
or the detective’s sidekick
turns through the revolving wall.

Only death is certain.
Roy in the locker room laced his shoes,
getting ready to walk upstairs,
out the gym door to his parked Cadillac.

May 16-22, 2022: Poetry from John Stanizzi and Tiffany Shaw-Diaz

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John Stanizzi

John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, POND, and The Tree That Lights The Way Home. John has been widely published and has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, Praxis, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Laurel Review, The Caribbean Writer, Blue Mountain Review, Rust + Moth, Tar River, Poetlore, Rattle, Hawk & Handsaw, Plainsongs, Patterson Literary Review, Potato Soup Journal, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appears widely in Italy, including in El Ghibli, The Journal of Italian Translations Bonafini, Poetarium, and others.  His translator is the Italian poet, Angela D’Ambra.  He teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut, and lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry, CT. Visit John on the web here.

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

No More Trouble

Cuban Missile Crisis
October 12, 1962
October 28, 1962

It must be that it was intuition
fueled by overheard conversations that
the adults around me were having, their
faces shaded by worry in their eyes,
because I wouldn’t know until later
the things they were trying to hide from me —
the 43 seconds until the end,
the uranium bullet, the vapors
of people that left shadows, the pressure,
the tsunami of smoke, the wind that raged
a thousand miles per hour, the heat of
7000 degrees, the vanishing
of tens of thousands in that instant wrath —
vague debris that razed me each night with fear.

Tiffany Shaw-Diaz

Tiffany Shaw-Diaz is a Pushcart Prize and Dwarf Stars Award nominee who also works as a professional visual artist. She was shortlisted for The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Award for Individual Poem in 2020 and won in 2021. Her poetry has been featured in Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Bones, NHK World Haiku Masters, The Mainichi, and more than 100 other publications. Her chapbooks include: says the rose (Yavanika Press 2019), filth (Proletaria 2020), and tyranny of the familiar (Yavanika Press 2020). Visit her on the web here.

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

Lazarus

i grew up on 
the wrong side of radiation 
a place where trains derailed 
and the sky hailed Satan

you hung the paddle like a cross
and the cross became a bullet

they say chemicals were dumped 
into the water the soil the air
but my blood was poisoned long before 
i took my first step on this earth 

mother once praised you 
by saying you punched 
her pregnant belly only once 

praise God

apparently he was there somewhere
atomically in the crack of our carpet
when you
molested me

when i was 14 i thought it was odd
how i remembered almost nothing prior
to the age of 10

but i remember my sister almost dying
at the age of two
and that cancer was an open secret // grave 
in our town 

when we left 
you took me and my sister back 
one last hurrah in the old house

why we were naked i don’t know
but i do know 
you eventually destroyed those photo negatives

you weren’t a pedophile
of course 
and The Mound didn’t kill
the residents of Miamisburg, Ohio 

May 9-15, 2022: Poetry from Kristy Snedden and Jim Babwe

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Kristy Snedden

Kristy Snedden has worked for 30-plus years as a trauma psychotherapist. She began writing poetry in 2020 . Her poem, “Dementia,” was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in December 2021. She has work forthcoming in Amethyst Review. She is currently a student at The Writer’s Studio.

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

Zoom Therapy

He told me stories about Kent State and Jackson State and Peace Trains, Brussels
Chocolate, half-marathons and the Swiss Alps.

Later that session, I wept about my father’s Parkinson’s Disease and the Danish
killing their mink and showed him the wraparound scars on my heart.

When he told me stories about healing a man in Palestine,
he was surprised by his tears, the ones I couldn’t quite see on the screen.

I wondered how much more I could take and whether I was broken,
and cried about space junk littering and trash pods in the ocean

and he told me that as a child he loved the cartoon Popeye. We laughed.
remembering Popeye’s muscles swelling after he ate his spinach.

When I confessed fear about my husband’s dementia and withering body
and distress about suicide rates and drug relapses and my brother’s ghost,

he told me about a horse that turned into a moose and a church in Argentina
filled with light, a homeless woman knocking at the door.

When I messaged him after a session about needing to be heard,
he sent me an ear emoji.

And once, when I was speechless and shaking about recent events,
he texted me a meme of Popeye eating spinach.

Jim Babwe

Jim Babwe is a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona. He also went to the following schools: Cal Tech, Stanford, USC, UCLA, UC San Diego, and Oxford University in England. For the sake of full disclosure,  he admits he only went to the bookstores at those schools. Also, to be clear, he believes that people can get a world-class higher education at any accredited institution–as long as you keep paying the tuition, stay diligent about your studies, and keep personal intoxication levels at or below the recommended minimum.

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

A Stylish Certificate and
Free Popcorn for Life

Last Sunday
at the Santa Fe Springs Drive-in
Swap Meet Talent Contest,
intense competition
reached unprecedented levels,
and it would be difficult
to imagine a greater variety
of unusual entries.

Martha wore a beekeeper’s
protective clothing
and with bare hands,
bent silver spoons
into unusual pendants.

Mindy sang “America the Beautiful”
while sitting on a huge block of ice
and gargling a pink liquid
commonly recognized as an effective
upset stomach remedy.

Leonard covered himself
with thousands of stick matches,
uttered a warning to young children,
lit himself on fire,
and extinguished the flames
with a fly-swatter.

Ronnie unveiled his new
rocket-propelled bicycle,
accelerated to an estimated 80 miles per hour,
hit the ramp, and successfully cleared
12 school busses plus a bouncy castle.

Melinda roller skated upside down
in a swimming pool created by
a surrealistic construction company.

Mrs. Valdez baked a homemade
lemon merengue pie
inside an electric guitar
previously owned by Les Paul.

Mona performed impossible magic tricks
with her nose, made money disappear,
stole her mother’s 1972 Pontiac Firebird,
and flattened all four tires
when she re-entered the drive-in
via the exit road.

Lance melted credit cards
with his bare hands
and called the bank
for replacements.

Karla hovered above glowing coals
while juggling pitchforks, cotton candy,
and a bottle of inexpensive tequila.


These individuals
amazed everyone in attendance,
but the winner,
a first-time competitor named Larry,
amazed them even more.

Speaking confidently like a 5th grade teacher
dictating a spelling test (but slightly faster)
he delivered a lengthy string of flattering adjectivesó
one for every spectator in attendance,
including each of the five judges.

Because of the unusually large crowd,
he used all of the following words
several times.

articulate
attentive
beautiful
brave
courageous
creative
dedicated
dependable
deserving
energetic
enthusiastic
fabulous
focused
generous
gifted
helpful
honorable
impeccable
industrious
joyful
judicious
keen
kind
loving
loyal
neat
necessary
observant
optimistic
patient
perceptive
reliable
resilient
selfless
supportive
thoughtful
trustworthy
understanding
unique
valiant
valorous
willing
wise
xylophone

Immediately after finishing
his uncannily accurate
one-word assessments,
Larry added a puzzling,
unnecessary apology to The Alphabet
for failing to include
M, Q, Y, and Z.

Next,
he offered a poignant apology
to Melinda when he said,

Melinda. I’m sorry.
When I got to X,
I could only think
of two words: x-ray and xylophone
and I figured xylophone was better
than x-ray.
At this time, though,
I will remove xylophone
from the list and add
wonderful just for you.

All 5 judges
stood to applaud.
Everyone else would have risen
to their feet,
but they were already standing.

Judges agreed
on a unanimous decision
in favor of Larry.

The judge who summoned Larry
back to the stage
awarded him
with a stylish certificate
plus an unexpected bonus-
a lifetime coupon for free popcorn.

He concluded the presentation
with a warm handshake
and an emotional expression
of gratitude
to thank Larry
for employing
powerful words
to change the world.

May 2-8, 2022: Poetry from Joan Magiet and Richard Lynch

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Joan Magiet

Joan Beverly is a former Assistant Professor of English, adjunct faculty at Nassau Community College, New York, an award winning journalist and poet. As a magazine article writer she has served as feature editor, travel editor and arts editor for several tri-state magazines. As a journalist she has written news and feature articles for several Long Island newspapers. She is a founding member of Performance Poets Association, a former contest judge and editor and a member of the Academy of American Poets. In a contest sponsored by the National League of American Pen Women, she won second prize for her poem, “The Empty Room.” She has hosted monthly poetry readings at Barnes and Noble on Long Island and Books-a-Million in Sarasota, Florida. She has given readings at local bookstores and libraries on Long Island and in Sarasota and on radio and television. She currently runs a monthly poetry workshop at the Gulf Gate Library in Sarasota. She is the author of “Tender Chains” a collection of poetry written from the heart. She is currently working on her second book of poems, “Push Back the Boundaries. “

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

Bed Vigil

Back from surgery you fight
the effects of anesthesia,
force words to leave your lips
slower than the drip flowing
into your arm under lids anxious to drop.
Your eyes smile at us.

Your younger son holds your hand.
Your older son tells you jokes,
forces your smile into a laugh.
I sit near you. Our tangled fingers
complete the healing circle of love.
We are content to leave them our bond.

A stream of nurses checks your vital signs.
They offer cheery clichés but I will nurture you
back to robust health, drive you to doctor’s
appointments, take you for walks,
make your meals.

Your sons talk of this week flickering in memory
like the flashing light on the EKG monitor.
I bring you apple juice from your dinner tray,
hold the straw to your lips, dismiss the fear
invading my thoughts hours ago
in the surgical waiting room.
The possibility of your not being here.

Richard Lynch

I have no idea what I am doing, and I prefer it that way.

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

Two Legged Donkey

Try to walk a two
legged donkey and
see how well that
goes.

Choose whatever legs
you want in any
combination and the
donkey, already stubborn,
will yield or fall.

Which leg will it lift
with only two.
Which will it land on.
How do you get your
donkey to walk?

How much does
a donkey weigh?
And how hard does
one fall?

The tremor in the
earth might stop you
from ever walking the
Donkey at all.

24th Annual Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) Poetry Issue

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

A C Clarke

A C Clarke, who lives in Glasgow, has published five full collections and six pamphlets, two of the latter, Owersettin and Drochaid, in collaboration with Maggie Rabatski and Sheila Templeton. Her fifth full collection, A Troubling Woman came out in 2017. She was one of four winners in the Cinnamon Press 2017 pamphlet competition with War Baby. She has been working on an extensive series of poems about Paul and Gala Éluard, later Gala Dalí, and the Surrealist circles in which they moved. The first set of these was published as a pamphlet by Tapsalteerie last year (2021).

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

Shades

Black: trees upright as sentinels,
a railway track that ends
at a long, low shed.
White: snow’s blanket denial.

Grey: naked bodies in a queue,
hard soap, concrete floors, ash;
in these pictures the uniform
of sky, however blue.


Previously published in the collection Messages of Change (Oversteps Books)

Alan Bern

Retired children’s librarian Alan Bern is cofounder with artist/printer Robert Woods of the fine press/publisher Lines & Faces, linesandfaces.com. Recent awards: honorable mention for Littoral Press Poetry Prize (2021); flash fiction finalist for Ekphrastic Sex: The Contest (2021); first runner-up for Raw Art Review’s Mirabai Prize for Poetry(2020); a medal in 2019 from SouthWest Writers for a WWII story. Recent/upcoming writing and photo work in HAUNTED WATERS PRESS,  Aletheia Literary Quarterly, CERASUS, Mediterranean Poetry, and Mercurius. Alan is the author of three books of poetry and performs with dancer/choreographer Lucinda Weaver as PACES and with musicians from Composing Together, composingtogether.org.

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

Fraud Multipliers: Multiplication Tables of His Slaughter

never forgotten
blank evil sallow face
face in blanketed whiteface
rancid evil in slightened falsehair
thinned no-hair colorless covering over
nothing but mouth speak-eating
mirror’s flaking backing revealing
new evil evil evil covering
over evil with 30,000 lies
& 400,000 lives down-dimmed
murderous murdering lies
taking away these multiplying lives
with what is proper named
genocide
& yes a place for Melania’s bites of
dead kid fingers for her late tea

DUNKED

Alan Walowitz

Alan Walowitz, who lives in Great Neck, NY, is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook Exactly Like Love comes from Osedax Press.  The full-length The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems is available from Truth Serum Press. Most recently, from Arroyo Seco Press, is the chapbook In the Muddle of the Night, written trans-continentally with poet Betsy Mars.

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

Where’s God?

I nagged till I couldn’t be ignored.
To keep me busy,
they told me God was everywhere.
So, I began to check–there and even there,
opened the doors to the TV console
and there God was.
Beneath the bed, then
in the closet with the creaky door
of the room I shared with my sister,
the four-story walkup where we lived.
A long haul up those stairs
and I figured God could come in with me to rest.
We had been outside as I walked to the corner
and crossed the street at Metropolitan
to Shapiro’s for a pack of Nik-L-Nips–
you could bite the bottle-tops, drink the treacle within,
that might have tasted like God,
and wash it down by chewing the wax.
We’d ride around the block past the houses
and into the Oval where we could spend my days outside.
An old lady stopped me racing my three-wheeler, tied my shoe,
and said I don’t want to get caught up in the works.

And that will happen
any old time the world looks away.
Little ones taken, sometimes on trains,
railway stations turned to rubble,
houses and hospitals incinerated,
whole cities wiped from maps,
more death than we can bear.
But we seem intent on bearing it.
even here where I once played
in Raoul Wallenberg Square.

Alex Chornyj

His name is Alex Chornyj, he is a reiki master teacher and as such his writing reflects the energy and light that surrounds his spirit. He lives in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada.  He has been writing for approximately forty years and his inspiration is derived through his spirit guides.  This binding of thoughts was manifested as a collaboration of an esoteric synthesis.  He has published three poetry books and two childrens’ books since 2020.  He has a podcast on spotify HERE. He has just had a poem published on the Ukraine crisis HERE.

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

Cries Across A Century

Did we learn from the past ?
Even one innocent loss of life
Is one too many
From cries across a century.
Can still hear the screams
About this can’t be silent
Only through recognition
Can these souls be remembered.
To be locked in chambers
Human incinerators
The smell of burning flesh
Crimes against humanity.
To be filled with such hatred
That you are consumed
Every waking moment
With the want to cause,
Endless suffering
That each life is reduced
To a catalogued number
To an acrid wisp of smoke.
None are forgotten
A life gone too soon
Against all conventions
Ripped from their earthly existence.
Chains for eternity
So witness to
Critical incidents
Of tumultuous carnage.
The horror stories
The dark passages
Tunnels of incessant stench
Children of a lost generation.
There are reminders
Of the actual facts
Belongings left behind
Now on permanent display,
At the United Nations
So that their memory
Will be kept vivid
As what not to repeat in the future.

Angie Minkin

Angie Minkin is an award-winning San Francisco-based poet who stands on her head for inspiration. Angie volunteers as a poetry editor of Vistas & Byways Literary Review. Her work has been published in The MacGuffin, Rattle, The Poeming Pigeon, The Unbroken Journal, and several other journals and anthologies. Angie is a coauthor of Dreams and Blessings: Six Visionary Poets (Blue Light Press 2020). Angie’s chapbook, Balm for the Living, will be published in 2023 by Finishing Line Press. Visit Angie on the web here.

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

Considering Stars and Gases

Starlight dims, dips as exoplanets orbit.
Forty light years away, six million shadows
transit across stars, leaving behind dust and skulls.

Here on earth, we observe and precisely measure
masses of heavenly bodies. We consider elements
of iron and oxygen, carbon, and water. We consider

the potency of other beings. We consider the inner body.
Dare we say the soul? Do six million souls leave a trail
of stardust? A light beam of truth? There were six million

more of us once. Orders of magnitude that we
cannot grasp. Always the other, the horror,
the questions. We study faces in tattered photographs.

Chana’s smile is my mother’s. My sister’s.
Lev’s face brings a startled gasp. He could be my father.
We recite names, lost in the turbulence of memory—

fragments, shreds, sequins. Do we remember
the babies crying, mothers shushing, fathers shaking,
knowing their arms cannot save their families.

How many Chanas and Levs, how many beauties gone forever?
We carry them with us. And forty light years away, we imagine
each body transmuting to energy, orbiting to infinity.


(Another version of this poem will be included in my forthcoming chapbook, Balm for the Living, which will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2023.)

Anita Lerek

Anita Lerek has spent her adult life juggling business (as a lawyer and a recruiter) with the enchantment of poetry. The visual arts, jazz, and social justice are life-long influences. Born abroad (Poland), she retains a sense of otherness. And a resulting closeness to many diverse things. Lerek has a slow meditative approach to creating a poem, which ever deepens and never finishes—just stops. Her poems have appeared recently in MacQueen’s Quinterly, River Heron, and Silver Birch Press, She is the author of a chapbook, History and Being (2019). She lives with her archivist husband in Toronto, Canada. Visit Anita on Facebook here.

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

Blossom Grandmother

You fell on sweetened ground
beside torn ancestor branches.
I search the world’s orchards for you—
a trace, a notion of tenderness,
did you have dark hair or light. 

The apple tree remembers 
your voice, and the prayers uttered
in the old wooden synagogue 
that stood for centuries
until destroyed by haters.

The tree calls for the orphans 
to return, to recreate the space, 
not from the original,
but from messages from the dead.

Grandmother, you float inside
the replica, under the timber roof,
25 tons of civilization
that we code furiously
into the made up sky

to save the story
that sickens me to complete
to the end,
I know you will not be there.

Love comes from void,
love fills the void at breaking points
as ashes change to images;
and minds are cut, spliced
into a world reimagined
to see me through.  

(#2.5 – Original version first published in Verse-Virtual
online poetry journal in June, 2021)

Ann Stevenson

Ann D Stevenson is retired and living in Gloucestershire.

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

Holocaust

How can I write
Of such atrocities
Living memories
Of the unforgettable.
Can
Any of us ever
Understand
Such
Terrible tribulations.

Annette Gagliardi

Annette Gagliardi, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, has poetry published in Motherwell, Wisconsin Review, American Diversity Report, Origami Poems Project, Amethyst Review, Door IS A Jar, Trouble Among the Stars, Sylvia Magazine,and others. She is co-editor of Upon Waking. 58 Voices Speaking Out from the Shadow of Abuse, We Sisters, 2019.  Annette’s first full-length poetry book, titled: A Short Supply of Viability is scheduled to come out in July of 2022 by The Poetry Box. Visit her website at: https://annette-gagliardi.com/

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

Letting Go

I climb the stool to sweep
cobwebs from the corners
and dust the photo-frames
featuring deceased relatives.

Darning your socks one more time
gives you another wear or two.
Those jeans I mended last month
are full of holes anew.

My family photo books are filled with recent
images, but none from the earlier generations
whose faces are lost in the mist of looting,
torched homes and prison camps.

I sit beneath the eaves today
and watched the icicles drip and sway
with the fierce wind that whips
this way—and vacillates sunlight.

And yet, as daylight dims to dusk,
I’m am left clutching the husk—
only jealous of icicles’
ability for letting go.

Arlene Geller

Arlene Geller, of Yardley, PA, has been fascinated with words from a young age. She has parlayed this passion into a successful career as a writer, editor, wordcrafter, poet and lyricist. Her pieces have been published in newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as sung by choirs in commissioned works. If you’d like to learn more about her work, visit her website at arlenegeller.com

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

Silenced Voices

The blue sky houses the brilliant sun
spotless, save for the stream of black smoke
endlessly spewing from chimneys
in Germany and Poland

            flesh and bone turned to ash

remnant bones ground to powder
floating in rivers, ponds, 
strewn in fields, discarded

            children among women among men

no screams, no cries
no curses, no prayers
unanswered questions 
 
            float on the wind

the only sounds—hiss   spit   crackle
voices silenced forever
as the world stood by

             look up at the constellations of stars in the sky
             they are the children waiting to be reborn

Barrie Levine

Barrie Levine lives in Wenham MA north of Boston. She retired from the practice divorce law in 2016 and soon developed a passion for haiku poetry. She teaches memoir writing classes at a senior center and writes a blog entitled “72 is the New 72” at barrielevine.com. Other than being an enthusiastic grandma, Barrie’s life is all about writing. She recently achieved a life goal of publishing in print with her collection of haiku and senryu entitled Cotton Moon.

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

Three Haiku


Western Wall
breath of God
between the stones


fallen leaves . . .
my uncle guards
the family tree


memorial candle . . .
weaving stories of grandma and the aunts
into the light

Batnadiv HaKarmi-Weinberg

Batnadiv HaKarmi is a writer and visual artist who currently resides in Jerusalem. Her work has been published in Poet Lore, Radar Poetry, and most recently in Belmont Story Review. A graduate of the graduate writing program in Bar Ilan University, she is the recipient of the Andrea Moria Prize for Poetry, and was shortlisted for the Brideport Prize. Her work can be followed on www.batnadiv.com and on Instagram @batnadiv_art

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

Intermittent Fasting

Eat, my grandfather cajoled my mother
every fast day but Yom Kippur. 
Forbid fasting if she was pregnant. Or nursing.
Believed that mothers of young children 
must always be filled.
You fast, she said.
I am old, he said.
He had starved long enough
to see no holiness in lack

yet he fasted Monday and Thursday
and Monday again. Kept 
the ancient abstinence 
with trudging care.
Penance for living.

The bachurim, his wife accused. 
The bachurim—the young yeshiva boys in his care 
who turned back at the border 
while he continued and crossed. 
Their death is on you, she said. 
She saw ghosts everywhere.

Said this was the reason their son fell.
Couldn’t speak. Would have no children. 
My grandfather soundlessly
swallowed the blame. 
Dragged it like he bore 
the body of his friend
over the Siberian plane.
Returned to hunger,
the taste of grass. 
Hollowed himself
to be filled 
with their names.

Betsy Mars

Betsy Mars lives in Torrance, California where she works as a substitute teacher and exam proctor. She is a prize-winning poet, occasional publisher, and nascent photographer. She is an assistant editor at Gyroscope Review. Recent poem publications include ONE ART, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The New Verse News. Her photos have been featured in RATTLE’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Praxis, Redheaded Stepchild, and Spank the Carp, among others. Her most recent book is In the Muddle of the Night co-authored with Alan Walowitz.

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

To Become Whole Again

-for Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova*


This year I don’t have to remember
again, the rubble, what lies beneath.

Freezing basements, no movement.
Snipers in the streets.

In real time many fall or stand their ground,
dig ditches, graves, entrenched.

Some shoulder weapons, others cameras
taking in and being taken.

This time allies rally, still too late.
Again there are rumors of camps,

imprisonment. The cattle cars await.
“Arbeit mach frei” above the prison gate.

But one day if life allows, I will do the work,
find the ground where my past is buried.

For now I watch the living become ghosts,
plant seeds for another generation’s grief.


* Vanda Semyonovna Obiedkova was a Holocaust survivor who died in a freezing basement in Mariupol on April 4,2022

Beverly Magid

Beverly Magid has been a publicist in the entertainment industry and a novelist of three novels, Flying Out of Brooklyn, Sown in Tears and Where Do I Go, before adding poetry to her writing. Her poems have appeared in the journal On the Bus and the anthology Side-Eye on the Apocalypse and has a poem which will be published in the Spring Issue of the Muddy River Poetry Review. She is a long0time Los Angeles resident and credits her cats Bobbysox and King for helping her through the pandemic, along with the tv comedy Schitts Creek. Visit Beverly on the web here.

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

Yom HaShoah

I was five when the Nazis
dragged Jews out of houses in Poland
or the forests of Ukraine.
They dug their own graves before being shot.
I didn’t comprehend the news as a child
anymore than I understand it now so many years later.
Photos my parents hid,
heaps of bodies tossed away like old shoes.
I cried seeing babies killed as if in a game,
Showers rigged to rain down death on the unsuspecting.
Nazis were the monsters that gave me nightmares,
boots marching up the stairs, coming for me.
Who were these heartless men?
Ordinary people sitting down to dinner
“What did you do today?” the wife asks.
“I shot a hundred women and children,” he answers,
then butters his bread,
pats the dog, smiles at his son.
I can’t fathom this cruelty.
I can’t bear to swat a spider
I weep for every crying baby.
What infected those brains?
I whisper never again
But it still happens today, under a different name.
I call out louder, Never Again.
But some reject the truth,
people are still cruel.
I shout NEVER AGAIN.
Again and again and again.
It must be now.
If not now, when?
If not for the oppressed, who?
If not with love, how else?

Bill Cushing

Returning to college after serving in the Navy and working on ships, Bill Cushing earned an MFA from Goddard College. Published in numerous journals and anthologies, online and in print, Bill facilitates a writing group (for 9 Bridges Writing Community). Bill’s 2019 book A Former Life was honored with the Kops-Featherling International Book Award committee; Music Speaks won 2019’s San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival chapbook competition and a 2021 New York City Book Award. His latest chapbook, . . .this just in. . ., combines artwork with selected poems. Now retired, Bill continues writing and is working on a memoir.

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

Approaching Auschwitz

A young American approaches,
victorious in the Spring of life,
enters ferrous gates crowned
with razor wire emblazoned
by words wrought of iron
that seem to dance: Arbeit macht frei.

Bony arms reach beyond fences
that, for years, surrounded
this place of barely-
living victims. Suddenly,
he feels old, as ancient
as this Polish winter.

Buried beneath snow, he sees
what seem like logs
thrown on the ground. Perhaps these
are packs of sleeping dogs,
but the closer the corporal gets,
the better defined they become

until he bears witness to piles of people:
mothers, children, old men—
all scarred with skeletal smiles—
bodies interred under a row
of tall chimneys that had sent
ash, soot, and what seems like

burnt paper floating lightly
as this snow, freshly fallen
on ground smudged with trails
of boot prints in the cinders—
all that remains of the
friends, family, or neighbors

to those still barely alive,
those shuffling few who survive.
Beneath those cylinders of brick,
squat warehouses keep the debris
of bodies, the burnt skin
seared from bones leaving only a skeleton.

He finds a solitary German
crouched inside one vacant oven,
and in white-hot ire
shoulders his Springfield to fire
round upon round
into the pleading enemy.

The young soldier will leave,
return home to marry
his high school sweetheart,
and raise a family. Meanwhile
never again will he feel
Spring’s warmth without tasting bile.

Bruce Black

Bruce Black is the editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. His poetry and personal essays have appeared in Poetica, Poetry Super HighwayJewthinkLehrhaus, HevriaThe Jewish Literary Journal, Soul-Lit, The BeZine, Tiferet Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, FL.

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

The first survivor I ever met

Not far from campus, just a few blocks south
on Broadway, was a tiny stationary store where
I went every month to buy journals and pens.

This was when I was a student back in the 70s
before Amazon delivered these things to your door,
and I’d walk into this store, pull a few journals off

the shelf, pick a handful of cheap ballpoint pens out of a jar,
and take everything to the cash register at the end of the counter
where the old man who owned the shop waited to ring up the sale.

When he reached for the journals, I saw on the inside of his forearm,
tattooed on the pale skin, a row of numbers that I might have mistaken for
veins crisscrossing beneath his skin if I hadn’t known about the Holocaust.

He was the first survivor I’d ever met, his eyes haunted by things
he’d seen that I couldn’t even imagine, even though I was taking
a Holocaust literature class that year.

We stood a few feet apart talking over the counter as he slipped
the journals and pens into a paper bag as if the world was normal
and sane (and hadn’t gone crazy during his lifetime).

And I left the store wondering how he had survived such an experience,
the journal and pens in the bag under my arm an unexpected link to
the past that I knew one day I’d have to write about.

But I’d have to wait until I was ready to face the truth of those
numbers on his arm and the evil in the minds of the ones
who had put them there.

Carrie Magness Radna

Carrie Magness Radna is a NYPL audiovisual cataloger, an associate editor of Brownstone Poets, a singer and poet born in Norman, Oklahoma. Nominations: Best of the Web (2021); Pushcart Prize (2022). Previous publications: Muddy River Poetry Review, First Literary Review-East, Spillwords.com, Poetry Super Highway, Jerry Jazz Musician, Brownstone Poets Anthology, Cajun Mutt Press, Alien Buddha Press, Walt’s Corner, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Horror Sleaze Trash and The Poetic Bond (VIII—X). Poetry collections: Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press: 2019) and In the blue hour (Nirala Publications: 2021). She now lives in Manhattan, New York with her husband Rudolf.  https://www.carriemagnessradna.com

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

Four questions

Why can’t we have spaghetti this week? 

Because we eat unleavened bread for Passover. Imagine being called out, to escape, & you only have an hour to leave everything behind, like your great-grandparents, who tried to leave Germany, but they couldn’t – they perished at Treblinka. Our ancestors, however, escaped Egypt, without stopping to let their bread rise. No spaghetti, no cakes, no toast. 
 
Why are you so bitter? 

Because I wish that I knew my great-grandparents before they were caught & sent to their death. If only the Germans acted with humanity, like they did after the war, then we would have known them. What a waste of life potential – what if the doctor who could cure all-known cancer ended up being killed as a kid? God, what a waste! 
 
Do you need to lay down? 

Not yet—Grandma is going to tell us the story at how she got here in New York, while her cousins ended up in Portugal. All had enough gumption and sense to leave that hellish place. 
 
Why do we keep doing the Passover readings? They get longer every year. 

So that we will always remember where we come from, & who we are, even when we ourselves end up as the ones who need to escape. But we did it all before: Egypt, Palestine before Israel, many European countries who hated/persecuted the Jews, even now, with Rwanda, Turkey (yes, Turkey!), & now, those still in Ukraine, we will survive, even those who are captured & died in the camps, they did not die in vain; they are remembered. They are missed & loved. Like them, we remember our first Exodus – we will never forget!  

Christopher Pomory

Christopher Pomory has a background in biology and outdoor education, and currently lives in Pensacola, Florida, USA.

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

Horror

Horror is brutality and terror.
It drips onto waking dreams as jelly
onto bread, turning them into nightmares.
It lodges in the back of sticky minds,
a tacky surface left by peeling tape
catching troubled thoughts trying to escape.
A creation of stern resolution
destroying all civility of life.
Action devoid of mindful compunction;
the expressive will of dis-compassion.
Horror’s repulsion for generations;
tattoo numbers from concentration camp
order cry out from sagging skin across
the failing decades, the horror is man.

Colin Jeffery

Colin Ian Jeffery is an established English poet and novelist with world-wide reputation, his books can be purchased from Amazon and all good bookshops. He was seven, a choirboy, when he became entranced by poetry after hearing the twenty-third psalm. The beauty of the words struck his soul like lightning and his Muse began to sing. He then found poetry was being read on the BBC radio Home Service and would listen in awe and delight to such poets as Dylan Thomas, John Betjeman, and Ted Hughes.

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

Two little girls

(Nazis exterminated six million Jews)

Little dark-haired Jewish girl
Too young to go to school
Strips naked beside her mother
Frightened eyes gazing all around
Seeing women and children stripping
Friends and neighbors from the ghetto.

German soldier hardened to task
Opens shower doors with a curse
Shouts for women and children to enter.
Pushes weeping girl as she passes him
Slams and bolts door behind her
Oblivious to mother’s desperate pleas.

Gas hisses from hidden vents
Terrified mothers hold children
Cradled dying to their bosoms
Trying to hide death from their eyes
Whispering words of love
Victims of Hitler’s Final Solution.

Tall blond SS officer in black uniform
Proud husband and father
Supervises burning of bodies
Goes home to his daughter
Same age as dark-haired Jewish girl
Lovingly rocks her to sleep on his knee.

Corinne Lawrence

Corinne lives in Bramhall in the South Manchester area of the UK. Several of her poems have been reviewed in Writers’ Forum and Writing Magazine, and she has won, and been placed or short listed in a number of competitions in both of these publications. Corinne has also had poems published by The Poetry Kit, Indigo Dreams Publishing in Reach Poetry, and in ‘For The Silent’ – an anthology published in 2019 in conjunction with The League Against Cruel Sports. In what she describes as a life changing experience, harrowing but necessary, Corinne visited Auschwitz in 2017.

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

Visiting Auschwitz: 2017

‘Why on earth would you want to go there?’
I was asked so many times. No one dared
to say the name, as if to do so might infect
the air. The look in their eyes – just short of distaste –
even haunted me as I queued for a headset.

Then I walked the camp – deliberately built
in durable bricks and mortar, to outlive lives.
In its cramped corridors, I saw the cruel mug shots,
the suitcases, each family name scrawled
in brash white paint, saw the mounds
of sad shoes, and the processed hair.

Finally, when I stood in silence
where words
lose all meaning,
I knew my pilgrimage
had been right.
To ‘go there
is the least
anyone can do.

Daniel Irwin

Daniel S. Irwin a native of Southern Illinois lives Sparta, Illinois.  His card reads:  artist, actor, writer, soldier, scholar, priest…all true to some point.  Has been published in over one hundred magazines and journals worldwide, nine books…all which means little as you are only as good as your last endeavor.

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

Bubba/Grandma Says

Bubba says the Nazis are back,
But they look like Russians.
They say, they’ve come to save us.
So, they destroy our city.
Bubba says the Nazis are
Here, yet again, to kill us Jews.
But, this time, they’re set on
Attacking everybody.
Bubba remembers all of this
From back when she was
Little more than a toddler.
“Remember this,” she says,
“The Holocaust is never-ending.”

Darrell Petska

Darrell Petska is a retired university editor. His poetry and fiction can be found in 3rd Wednesday Magazine, Nixes Mate Review, Verse Virtual, Loch Raven Review and widely elsewhere (conservancies.wordpress.com). Father of five and grandfather of six, he lives near Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife of 50 years.

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

(Three Tanka)

midnight in Auschwitz
piled shoes groping in darkness
to find their missing feet

dreams sunder like shoelaces
when morning tears you from bed

 


stumbling in darkness
six million shining stars
stricken from the sky

lighting candles one by one
to see where we must walk

 

 

Holocaust—
the unmoored boat
drifts toward darkness

Minecraft, Fortnite, Pokémon
anchor each daytime hour

Dave Ludford

Dave Ludford is a writer from Nuneaton, England. His poetry has appeared at Poetry Superhighway, Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis and Leaves of Ink. In addition to poetry he writes short works of horror and science fiction which have appeared at a number of locations online, including Sirens Call magazine and 365 Tomorrows. His day job is shopping mall janitor.

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

Lament

I’ve heard tell there was a concert hall in the old part of the city
A long time still and silent, dust-covered with the accompanying smell of neglect,
And on its stage instruments mute, waiting: violin, piano, cello, harp.
An elderly musician sat alone, motionless, head bowed, but as if poised
For a prompt to recommence playing.
Which he would, after the passage of many years,
Grabbing his violin and playing a lament of such powerful intensity the
Music soared towards the very heavens. It was all there: the pain, misery and suffering
Greater than any human soul could bear, but underscored with the one thing that sustained
The elderly musician throughout those long years, and this was hope.
There was no audience to acknowledge or give due praise for the music when it had once more ceased.
But witness there must have been, for we can tell the tale.

David Swan

A poet, a writer and solitary pilgrim along life’s path living in Campbeltown, Scotland. Visit David on the web here.

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

I Am

I am small but can be tall.
I am fat, thin, black, white.
Funny and sad.

I am the sun rising early in the morning
Then descending slowly till I am the night.
I am the love your mother gave you, but
I am the hate that made you fight.

I am the sex that makes love to you sweet and light.
I am WAR. A seed hidden deep within you.
Stripping you bare with all my might.
I will give you the strength to build yourself up.
And with a single word bring you crashing down.
I am fear.
I am thunder.
I am a rainy day.
I am a sunray.
My storms have wreaked havoc across continents.
Rendered countries helpless. Thousands dead.
Children motionless with despair.
My wars have taken humanity to
The darkest regions of its soul.
I am Holocaust.
I am Atom Bomb.
And when the world finally collapses to its knees
Unable to witness its own destruction.
I will come.
For I am hope in the distance.
Coming out of the darkness into the light.
I am God, but the Devil too.
Do not try to understand me for
I will turn you insane.
Trust in me.
I am out there but in here.
I am the Universe and beyond.
I am all.
I am everything.
But most importantly of all,
I am nothing.

Dina Elenbogen

Dina Elenbogen is author of the poetry collection, Apples of the Earth (Spuyten Duyvil, NY) and the memoir, Drawn from Water (BkMkPress, University of Missouri.) She has received fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the Ragdale Foundation. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including City of the Big shoulders (University of Iowa Press) Beyond Lament (Northwestern University Press), Lit Hub, Bellevue Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, december, Woven Tale Press, Patterson Literary Review, and many other magazines and anthologies. Dina teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago and lives in Evanston, Il. Visit Dina on the web at www.dinaelenbogen.com

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

We Built a House

Sarah Weil writes to her husband the painter Shraga Weil at the end of his life

*

We built a house out of everywhere
because nowhere was safe except the place
our eyes met—even as yours looked west to Budapest,
and mine gazed east toward the dream.

We lived in the places our fingers joined.
Your other hand forged documents
so Juden could move invisibly through cities.
My left hand sewed lead from your pencils

into the hems of our coats, just in case.
We built a house out of just in case.
We ran with blueprints in our mittens, back
and forth to Slovakia, until we were caught.

They thought they could keep us apart
in the Hungarian prison but we still had the insides of your pencils.
I will never forget the words we wrote, one at a time
on scraps of paper, the words we rolled into balls and left

on courtyard sills. When they took us
on separate strolls, I saw your face in the distance
as you unrolled my gift. The smile that only I understood
bloomed in the house we built of secrets.

Alone I imagined your hands,
the lives you saved with your signature.
When I heard stories of others with yellow stars
my nights were the color of ash.

*

We believed the sea would free us
as we sailed toward Palestine. We built
a house of water in our ship of orphans.
When we were captured again in Cyprus

your canvas held the blue of the Mediterranean.
For nine months you built structures
with the children, out of wooden blocks.
When we reached the shores of Tel-Aviv
a tent was already pitched for us on Kibbutz.
Our visions mingled with the soil that kept us.
Our hands, sticky from orange groves, were
always entwined. You called me

your muse and sketched faces of halutzim
the miracle of daily life, the way you once drew the faces of evil.
You made Hebrew signs and painted
pomegranates, phoenixes, and rams.

They built you a straw hut for your paintings.
Laughing, we called it the Louvre.
When you looked back, farther back than Europe,
you painted Jacob, Joseph and Abraham

who sacrificed his son.
I don’t know when the colors
in Joseph’s coat became black and white stripes.
The haunted face of the prisoner sits on the edge

of your canvas, My love. We built a house with our hands
our words and our silence..We built a house
of forgetting.


This poem is based on a photo of the Weils when they were young
 as well as an interview with their daughter

“We Built a House” from New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust (Vallentine Mitchell), forthcoming, used with permission.

Don Krieger

Don Krieger is a biomedical researcher (University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA) whose focus is the electric activity within the brain. He is author of the 2020 hybrid collection, “Discovery” (Cyberwit), the 2022 hybrid chapbook, “When Danger Is Past, Who Remembers?” (Milk and Cake Press), a 2020 Pushcart nominee, and a 2020 Creative Nonfiction Foundation Science-as-Story Fellow. His work has appeared in Seneca Review, The Asahi Shimbun, Beltway Quarterly, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, American Journal of Nursing, Neurology, and others, and has been translated into Farsi, Greek, Italian, German, Turkish, and Romanian. Visit Don on the web here.

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

My Dear Friend,

If we had sat together
in a Berlin café
on that black election day in ’32,
sharing our art,
laughing and learning,

I know you would have spoken for evil
though the beast and his brown-shirts
were weaker then
than ours are now.

Would you still have spoken so in ’33
when their mad master so like ours
triumphed,

or weeks later
when their Capitol burned,
or the next day
when their Patriot Act passed,
or the next month
when their Manzanar opened?

What say you now, so like then,
just weeks since our President’s darlings,
The Uncolored Beasts,
swarmed our Reichstag?

Which of us will pick up your tab this time
and what will it be?

When is the end of friendship?

Will you speak for the monsters still,
tender yet again
your gaslighting caress
to all of us who love you?

Doris Fiszer

Doris Fiszer has recently published her first full-length poetry collection, Locked in Different Alphabets, Silver Bow Publishing and is the author of two chapbooks: The Binders, Tree Press and Sasanka (Wild Flower), Bywords Publication. Her poetry awards include the 2017 John Newlove Award and Tree Press’s 2016 Chapbook contest (The Binders) which was also shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies in Canada and the United States.

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

Słoneczko

I’m fine I always said
whenever my parents asked.
Father held me tight on the bobsled.



Mother’s love, a hefty wool blanket,

that warmed our home.
Still, they couldn’t shield me


from their war-time trauma, though
I wasn’t starved in Nazi camps

forced to labour from daybreak to dusk,



I knew nothing of hungering for a country
or weeping for those who had perished.
Grief shadowed them


from room to room. I’m fine.

Little ray of sunshine—
my mother’s endearment for me.

 

Published previously in the chapbook, Sasanka (Wild Flower), Bywords Publication, 2018 and in Locked in Different Alphabets, Silver Bow Publishing, 2020.

Duane L Herrmann

Internationally published, award-winning poet and historian, Duane L Herrmann has work translated into several languages, published in a dozen countries, in print and online. He has a sci fi novel, seven full-length collections of poetry, a history book, and more chapbooks. His poetry has received the Robert Hayden Poetry Fellowship, inclusion in American Poets of the 1990s, Map of Kansas Literature (website), Kansas Poets Trail and others. These accomplishments defy his traumatic childhood embellished by dyslexia, ADHD and, now, PTSD. He spends his time on the prairie with trees in the breeze and writes – and loves moonlight!

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

Juden Friedhof

Decades later
the village decided
to give care
to the resting place
of former residents
whose descendents
no longer could.
All were warned,
“Leave NOW!”
And they did
with dignity –
a bright spot
in Dark Times.
Now their cemetery
is maintained
at Reckendorf expense –
Juden Friedhof:
Sacred Place.

 

From No Known Address, 2020, Poetica Publishing

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is a translator and writer of poetry, haibun, haiku, and short stories. He writes in four languages: English, French, Spanish, and German and holds workshops on Japanese and Chinese style poetry and prose and experimental poetry. Member of four writer groups in Ireland. Lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. Published in over 170 anthologies, literary journals, and broadsheets in USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Bangladesh, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, and Nigeria. He writes also under the penname Eadbhard McGowan. Visit Eduard on the web here.

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

Bergen Belsen

Barbed wire as bitter ornament,

these butterflies of filament

do not fly away.

Water drops and tears
hanging from the thread.
The poles vibrate in the wind
memorials for the dead.


The ear pressed to the wall.

You hear the shadows in an empty hall?

Was it a sigh? A cry far away?
Above you, shuffling,

beneath you, marching,

never a response, silence is deafening.


Love could not stand it, hatred had nowhere to go,

grief vanished, replaced by woe.
All pleading in vain.


Did you suspect it? Have you been warned?

Were not dark birds on the branches?

Did they not dig a hole for you?
Was there no sign on the wall?

Elisa Albo

Elisa Albo was born in Havana and all of her grandparents were Turkish Jews. A contributing editor of Grabbed: Poets and Writers on Sexual Harassment, Empowerment, and Healing (Beacon Press), her poetry chapbooks are Passage to America and Each Day More (March Street Press). An associate editor for the South Florida Poetry Journal, her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Crab Orchard Review, Notre Dame Review, SWWIM Every Day, and Two-Countries: U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents. A professor of English and ESL at Broward College, she lives with her family in Ft. Lauderdale.

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

Terezin, Czech Republic, 1997

The camp sits empty now. Knots of tour groups peer
into dusty barracks, glance at communal toilets, over
stone walls rising from a dry moat that never defended
a thing or being. Along the paths between buildings,

gravel cracks, crunches. The noise wrecks the air,
my ears, the inner barracks of my heart each time I step
like stepping on bones, graves—who knows in this dust
what remains? Ushered into a low building we scurry

through a long, narrow passage and abruptly out to,
the guide informs, the very spot where people were
shot. I look down to my feet. I want to rise above
the ground, to not step anywhere. During the war,

did Red Cross workers who visited this model camp
an hour east of Prague believe the Nazi propaganda
film, makeshift stores, soccer games and cheering
crowds were real? Stopping at a memorial that holds

a fistful of soil from other camps, Sara, a young woman
from New York, bends down for a stone to place on
the marble and in a parallel gesture, I bend with her,
as I’ve done at my grandmother’s grave, to remember…

yisgadal, v’yisgadash, sh’ may rabo… the Kaddish
spills from my lips, first lines, all I recall of the Hebrew
prayer for the dead. I rush out of the compound—
past rows of bright white crosses, Stars of David,

bunches of red carnations like thousands of small
explosions or individual burning bushes in front
of each unnamed marker—into the parking lot
past food stands, tourists eating candy and rapidly

dissolving ice cream, cameras strung from their necks.
The floor in the Terezin Museum is carpeted, voices
hushed. Galleries split with partitions display pictures
and papers—an edict, a warning, several orders, plans,

charts, drawings, photographs, records, so many careful
records naming victims, giving them faces, people who
passed through trains to Belzec, Chelmo, Majdanek,
Sobibor, Treblinka, and Osvetim, Czech for Auschwitz,

everything typed up, written down, catalogued, thoroughly
documented, as if someone someday would need to know
exactly to whom, precisely when, where, how many…why?
On a monitor in several galleries, an elderly woman recounts

her days in Terezin, her words close captioned in English
for the multitudes of foreign tourists, many of whom sigh,
having had enough of death and despair for one day. But
the videotape is on a loop—she cannot stop telling her story.

 

Published in the author’s chapbook, Each Day More, Main Street Rag, 2014

Elsa Fischer

Elsa Fischer lives in Bern, Switzerland but was born in the Netherlands in 1940. Always a lover of poetry she started writing her own poems after retirement. She has published in magazines and anthologies in the UK, Ireland and North America. She has two chapbooks and is working towards a collection. Her poem  “shoa” was inspired by the Stumbling Blocks of the German artist Günter Demnig. They can be found, set into the pavements of many European cities but specifically in Berlin.

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

shoa

brass squares set into sidewalks 

four by four inches   Here Lived

your eyes stumble    Here Lived 

six million names  vanish unless 

you remember   bow your head

bring a rose a stone Here Lived



After Günter Demnig’s « Stumbling Blocks »

Franci Levine-Grater

Franci Levine-Grater is a lifelong poet. She has worked as a freelance writer, editor, teacher and fundraiser with a focus on using language and storytelling as a tool to advance equity, celebrate beauty, and promote self-actualization and the common good. She enjoys yoga, gardening, playing with her dogs, and spending time with family. Visit Franci on the web here.

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

At Babi Yar

At the park on Sunday
full of people playing ball, tossing discs, walking dogs,
riding bikes, climbing, laughing, screaming, eating, happy
in this sunny moment,
I am listening to the names of the dead
murdered at Babi Yar

I am struck
when there seem to be twins with the same family name and birthday, murdered together
and when I hear the name of someone I know
and when I hear my own name
and when someone murdered at Babi Yar is the same age as
one of my children or one of my parents
and when an infant’s name is read
and when the person’s first name last name birthdate or age is unknown
and when all the information is unknown
and all we know is that a Jew was murdered at Babi Yar

A particular Jew among the 33,771 murdered
over two days in 1941 at Babi Yar

A particular Jew who may have loved to bake, who may have been athletic,
who may have been shy, or watched birds, or loved city life,
or suffered from illness, or dreamed of a great love, or had a great love,
or lost a great love, or believed in God, or did not

This particular Jew was murdered at Babi Yar
33,771 Jews were murdered and their descendants, the lost tribe,
are not sitting in sunny parks today

So we, the living, read their names
we listen to their names
we exalt in their 33,771 names
one after the other
through the night and into this glorious day
to honor the lives they lived
and the lives they did not
because they were Jews
murdered at Babi Yar

Germain Droogenbroodt

Germain Droogenbroodt, is a Belgian poet, living in Spain, translator and promoter of international poetry. He received many international awards and is yearly invited at the most prestigious international poetry festivals, nominated in 2017 for the Nobel Prize of Literature. He wrote 15 books of poetry published so far in 28 countries. The Indian poet-publisher Thachom Poyil Rajeevan compared his philosophical poetry with the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore whereas in Spain his poetry has been compared with Juan Ramón Jimenez. According to Chinese critics his poetry is TAO and ZEN. Visit Germain on the web here.

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

Fugue of Death

Death, we drink you,

we drink you with our eyes,

we drink you with our ears

we drink you day by day

Dead, no time is left to say goodbye,
no time to dig your graves,

the leaders paved the road

with hypocrisy and dazzling lies.

Death, we drink you,
we drink you with our eyes,

we drink you with our ears

we drink you day by day.


Todesfuge (Fugue of death), famous poem by Paul Celan 
about the extermination of Jews by the Nazis

Greg Bell

Greg Bell has written all his life as a necessity.  It took a critical illness to waken him to publishing in 2013.  Since then, he’s found homes for some of his work in anthologies & literary journals—as well as his mother’s piano bench—and was 2020 recipient of The Kowit Poetry Prize.  He’s author of hybrid poetry collection Looking for Will: My Bardic Quest with Shakespeare (Ion Drive Publishing, 2015) and two award-winning plays.  He currently leads Green Poets Workshop @ Beyond Baroque and says: “We are the witnesses, the Jiminy Crickets, the agents of change; let’s go!”

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

Lest We Forget

Stone on stone we piled to make a monument
stone on stone to vow: Never Again!
Babi Yar

As in Never Again shall the Nazis kill en masse
As in Never Again shall Masada fall
Babi Yar

But now the Russians come to remind us of Holodomor
and bring us again the great emptiness
Babi Yar

They bombard us and blast us to topple the stones we piled
and shoot the people left to die in the ditch
Babi Yar

And now we’re left to remember this Never Again
and Never Again arises to say what it says:
Babi Yar

Gregg Shapiro

Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). Recent/forthcoming lit-mag publications include The Penn Review, Book of Matches, Sangam Literary Magazine, Exquisite Pandemic, RFD, Gargoyle, Limp Wrist, Mollyhouse, Poetic Medicine, Impossible Archetype, The Pine Cone Review, and POETiCA REViEW. An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ publications and websites, Shapiro lives in South Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.

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

Tattoo

My father won’t talk about the numbers. 3-7-8-2-5
between the wrist and elbow, blue as blood on his
left forearm. Instead, he spreads himself over me
spilling his protection, like acid, until it burns.
I wear him like a cloak, sweat under the weight.

There are stories in the lines on his face, his
bone-crushing hugs, the nervous blue flash
in his eyes. I am drowning in his silence,
trying to stay afloat on curiosity. Questions
choke me and I swallow hard.

We don’t breathe the same air, speak the same
language, live in the same universe. We are
continents, worlds apart. I am sorry my life
has remained unscathed. His scars still
bleed, his bruises don’t fade.

If I could trade places with him, I would pad
the rest of his days. Wrap him in gauze and
velvet, absorb the shocks and treat his wounds.
I would scrub the numbers from his flesh, extinguish
the fire and give him back his life.


(Previously published in various anthologies and textbooks.)

Greta Ross

Born in Australia, Greta Ross now lives in Canterbury, England, and is an active member of SaveAs Writers. She is currently completing an MA in Poetry Writing from Newcastle University. Greta’s poems have appeared in anthologies, and won prizes in international and national competitions. Her poems respond to the natural world and the effects of social and political events on people and places, drawing on her experience as a doctor and traveller in many parts of the world. She enjoys taking risks with her writing and experimenting with poetic form.

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

Codes of Being

I.
Berlin
He shaved his beard that summer and removed the locks.
She asked was it too hot for beards. He said, you know.
I do not recognise you, she said.
This is just the beginning.
No, she said, it is the end.
It is a matter of survival he said, and went to open the door.

Krakow
She sees the blur on the horizon, knows it is not fog,
feels its smell on her skin.
Is this the end or the beginning, she asks.
She keeps pointing at shadows
but others see nothing and say nothing.
You know, she said, it is hard to know what is and isn’t.


II.
London
He grew a beard that summer.
She thought it was too hot for beards.
I do not recognise you she said.
This is my beginning.
No, she said, it is your end.
Mine is not a question of survival, he said and closed the door.

Raqqa
He sights along the horizon’s blur, hears the smoke,
feels bitterness enter his skin,
sees rage stalking the hills, the streets.
He points out shadows, smells flesh
but others see nothing and say nothing.
You know, he tells them, it’s hard to know who is and isn’t.


[Commended in Poetry Space, 2017]

Hanoch Guy

Hanoch is an emeritus professor of Jewish and Hebrew literature in Temple University.He has taught poetry and mentoring at the Muse center. Hanoch has published his poetry in the U.S,England,Wales Greece and Israel.He Is the author of  twelve collections of poetry;One Hebrew collection.

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

Faint souls

Blinding electric fences
striped skeletons
on narrow straw planks

Faint souls flicker
between phosphorous
fumes.

Baracks fall into
hell’s mouth
on victory day.

Harriet Booth

Unofficial Poet in Residence providing poetry in not-so-random places in and around Lancing, UK.

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

Revisiting Vienna at 88

We eat rich ice creams
shaded from the August heat
people bustle past

Up that street is where the Gestapo took my father – he was released because his good friend held a higher rank than the arresting officer

My mind lurches thrown
by luck determining fate
cold stark randomness

We spend a morning
walking round her synagogue
saved by narrow streets

They couldn’t burn this one down – it’s too close to the cathedral. We played in the galleries during the Shema

I imagine her
running above the rabbi
blonde blue-eyed carefree

Not far from here I was taken from the park – my mother spent the day trying to get me back. I don’t know what happened to my friends

We do not go there
memory shattering time
she clasps her fear close

Before packing up
we find the former ghetto
facade unaltered

I’m still here – that’s what I have to say.

Henry Greenspan

Henry “Hank” Greenspan  of Ann Arbor, Michigan, is a playwright, oral historian, and psychologist, emeritus at the University of Michigan. He has been interviewing, teaching about, and writing about Holocaust survivors since the 1970s. Along with two non-fiction books and multiple scholarly articles, his essays and poetry have appeared in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Tablet, The Forward, Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, the Boston Globe, and the Detroit Free Press. His plays have been produced for NPR and at more than three hundred stage venues worldwide. Visit Henry on the web here.

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

Chang and Eng

Hometown, ghetto, Auschwitz, Los Angeles, the whole megillah.
They sent a wonderful kid to get me and Gigi on the tape.
This girl says we’re amazing, all the survivors, not just Gigi and me.
We really want to help her.

So I’m reading a book, PT Barnum: America’s Biggest Showman.
PT Barnum had Siamese twins, Chang and Eng. Everybody knew them.
And the book says, this I remember exactly, the book says,
“Chang died first, to the horror of Eng, who managed, for some hours, to live on.”

I say to the girl, I say, “See? That’s it. I’m Eng. I’m Eng.”
Fifty years. I’m stuck to the corpse.
Stuck to Chang. Stuck to Chang.
He’s my corpse. And I live on.

Igor Goldkind

Igor Goldkind is an author, poet, and independent scholar.  At the age of 14 he met Ray Bradbury, whom he asked for advice about becoming a writer. In 2016, his award-winning multimedia novel IS SHE AVAILABLE?, broke ground in combining Poetry, Comics, Jazz, and Animation setting a new bar in electronic publishing. He continued to blend poetry with art in his new  work TAKE A DEEP BREATH, Living With Uncertainty, an illustrated collection of essays, poetry, and short stories confronting the pandemic in personal terms. Igor writes and lives in the San Diego, California but misses the UK. Visit Igor on the web here.

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

I Belong in Auschwitz

I am in Auschwitz
Where I belong
I have a nostalgia for the present That is escaping Over the razor-wire’s edge.
I pass bread to children,
Stolen from others’ open mouths
I have a nostalgia for the moment
As it whips me by.
Thrash and hold me,
With this and that.
Count my spectacles and stack my shoes:
Everyone and everything in its place:
A place for everything,
Everything is in its place.
Because this is that
And all you know is history.

Like a shrinking womb
Or Regret folding in on itself
Disemboweled like an exploding flower:
Leopold Bloom . . .

I’ll line you up against the wall of your elocution
Then leave you to bury the mountain of your body
In the mud, shit and snow.

I am in Auschwitz
Where I belong.
I have a nostalgia for the present
From which there is no escape,
Not even into the long shadow of history.