Poets of the Week

August 21-27, 2023: Poetry from Katrenia Kiger and Benjamin Harnett

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Katrenia Kiger

Katrenia Kiger is a small-town mom determined to teach her children about love and inclusivity through the stories they inspire. Visit her on the web here.

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

In His Eyes

“Stay-at-home moms live a life of mediocrity”
I wake up to unruly frizz where delicate spirals were just the night before,
A toothy smile spreads across his face,
I see the ocean waves in his eyes ready to wash the fascinating unknown to shore.

Benjamin Harnett

Benjamin Harnett is a poet, fiction writer, historian, and digital engineer. His poetry has appeared recently in Poet Lore, Saranac Review, ENTROPY, and the Evansville Review. He is the author of the novel THE HAPPY VALLEY and the short story collection GIGANTIC. He lives in Cherry Valley, NY with his wife Toni and their collection of eccentric pets. He works for The New York Times. Visit Benjamin on the web here.

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

The Ancient Model

We’re obsessed with models these days,
at least I am, all kinds. Plato
called them forms—I wonder
if his reached 72 inches
in bare feet. What must it be like
to be a young exemplar
of an ancient model, an old pattern
but a new day. I read somewhere
that the magnolia (when you read that
you will take it wrong—I mean
the little tree we planted
whose white flowers pop like
stars, not some heavy, southern-coded
thing) might have been the first
kind of flower to grace
the world. Magnolia, the dinosaurs
saw you, and the world’s first bee.
The ancient model had
gods for everything, and people
of the sea. There are no new models,
thought Einstein, but only
everything that was
and everything that is, and everything
that will be.

August 14-20, 2023: Poetry from Bruce Niedt and Alex Stolis

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Bruce Niedt

Bruce W. Niedt is a retired civil servant whose poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Rattle, Writer’s Digest, Tiferet, Spitball, Mason Street Review, US 1 Worksheets, and Your Daily Poem. His poetry is also included in the anthologies Best of the Barefoot Muse, Write Your Heart Out, and Poetry for Ukraine. He has won awards from Writer’s Digest, ByLine Magazine, and The Philadelphia Writers Conference. His first full-length poetry collection, The Bungalow of Colorful Aging, and his eighth chapbook, Knit Our Broken Bones, were published in 2022. He lives with his incredibly patient wife in Cherry Hill, NJ. Visit him on the web here.

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

Owls and Thunder

What is an owl?
A creature who speaks for the ghosts.

What is a ghost?
That which is left of longing and regret.

What is longing?
A river trying to reach the sea.

What is a river?
A song in the water.

What is a song?
A miracle from a throat or an instrument.

What is a miracle?
That which happens when lightning follows thunder.

What is thunder?
The only thing that quiets the owls at night.

 

Tanka Review of Your Body

You are the landscape
I always want to visit,
your curves and your hills,

your lush accommodations
and world’s softest skin: five stars.

Alex Stolis

Alex Stolis is a Minneapolis-based poet and photographer. Visit him on the web here.

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

RIP Winston Smith
She wants to fall in love

just a little, enough to feel
the charcoal and smoke
of melancholy;

enough to hear the music
of wind swaying
through trees

of clouds shifting
in the most vivid
Easter blue;

she was never
an ordinary girl,
remembers when

the world was reduced
to curves, angles,
longitude and latitudes

of grief and trauma
that guillotined
through her;

now, the terrain
is clear, she maps it,
in thin black lines;

borders, rivers,
paved roads;
she is transparent

and indestructible,
renames the birds
in heaven,

the animals on earth;
renames him, marks
him; and they travel,

past what is mappable,
irretrievable, true;
unsparing yet found.

 

RIP Winston Smith
He doesn’t believe in love

or god, or happily
-ever-after-endings
riding into sunsets,

exploding with yellow
reds and orange
and the soft music

of spheres;
he prefers solid
ground, the earth

rust brown
and damp;
the gun metal

grey of sadness
found in solitude;
love is like war,

with guns, knives,
land mines,
and casualties,

collateral damage;
winners, losers,
reparations;

it should scar you,
leave you for dead;
it’s nothing

more than exhaled
breath under a roiling
sea, a whisper

inside a wave;
unspoken
and unheard.

August 7-13, 2023: Poetry from Miles Varana and Ray Corvi

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Miles Varana

Miles Varana’s work has appeared in Typehouse, The Penn Review, and Passages North. He has worked previously as a staff reader and editor at Hawai’i Pacific Review. Miles lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he works in journalism and does his best to be a good Millennial despite disliking tandem bike rides.

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

Grace

I read the Atlantic,
watch Succession,
have seen fear in
a handful rich guys.
But before we
eat, these words:
tomorrow, the
only haves and
have nots will
be those who have
caught a t-shirt
from a t-shirt cannon
at a Vanilla Ice
show, and those
who have not.

Ray Corvi

Ray Corvi’s work was published or is forthcoming in Brushfire, DASH Literary Journal, Evening Street Review, FRiGG Magazine, Neologism Poetry Journal, OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters, The Penmen Review, Sage Cigarettes Magazine, The Seattle Star, Sublunary Review, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Triggerfish Critical Review, Whimperbang, and Whistling Shade. 

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

[SHE DREAMT]

She dreamt of a rancid lump of meat
Rotting in her purse

& went to the doctor who prescribed her a dirty martini
& a love letter
& told her to make a flower garden
& face north-northwest when she goes to sleep

She said, “Does this mean I’m dying?”

He said, “I’ve written down your dream”
Took out a pack of cigarettes, opened it
And said, “Take one and go”

She said, “My train won’t be here for another hour”

He said, “When it comes, leave your bags behind”

Then she felt like a nude body
Embracing a barnacled stone
Being pounded by the surf

Then like a featherless bird
Falling through the air

Then like a bacterium hard at work
In the doctor’s small intestine

Thinking to herself:
I couldn’t tell if he was saying
Ann-Marie or enemy or memory

I don’t have a daughter
And never will

July 31–August 6, 2023: Poetry from Ashley Cline, Jan Harris and Kathrynn Axton

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Ashley Cline

An avid introvert, full-time carbon-based life-form & aspiring himbo, Ashley Cline’s poetry has appeared here, & also there. A two-time Pushcart nominee & Best of the Net 2020 finalist, she is the author of four chapbooks of poetry: “& watch how easily the jaw sings of god” (Glass Poetry Press, 2021), “electric infinities” (Variant Lit, 2023), & “cowabungaly yours at the end of the world” (Gutslut Press, 2023) are available now, while “should the earth reclaim you” (Bone & Ink Press) is forthcoming. Once, in the summer of 2019, she crowd-surfed an inflatable sword to Carly Rae Jepsen, & her best at all-you-can-eat sushi is 5 rolls in 11 minutes. Twitter: @the_Cline. Instagram: @clineclinecline. Linktree: @ashleycline.

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

yellow bruise, in F# Major (god bless Carly Rae Jepsen)

i think about the way Carly Rae Jepsen sings run away with me / three minutes & forty-nine seconds into the song / of the very same name / more often than i think / of more important things / like, i already know that the planet is dying, for example / know how she is burning herself alive / for a lover who calls her nothing / calls her maybe / calls her venus, redux / & only Carly Rae Jepsen understands this / what it is to spin on an axis of want / knows that you can’t fake passion / like pleading / like burning / like the way she sings run away with me / near the edge of that final chorus / the way she extends that one me in particular / until it hangs shimmering like caramel lovers / unspooling their legs from / the split lips of diner-booth vinyl / sticky & sweet from the flush of an august heat / knows that you can’t pull it from yourself no matter how hard you try / the heat, i mean / & knows that to be in love is a culmination of the body, humid / the way it clings to your skin like a bramble, feral / like pressing a finger into a bruise on purpose & watching the sky drape herself in something softer than violence / knows that this is a love language, too / the body, i mean / & leans in anyway.

 

Patsy Cline sings of heritage, in G major

1. 


there is an old myth/joke/legend in my family that goes something like this:
we are related to Patsy Cline, the famous country-music singer, we just can’t prove it yet.

it is 1997. or 1998. between the bursts of hands & the cascade of feet, i tell everyone
on the recess field that Patsy Cline is my great-great grandmother;
“Heartaches” inheritance—

when they do not know who she is, i run even faster.

2.



i do not know how much of that is true, but i can tell you is this—

the smoke clung to the crushed red velvet of the car’s interior—
i was sitting in the passenger seat—

i saw my name (her name) on a cassette tape cover—
& assumed we must be family—

assumed the world was smaller than it was—
small enough to fit in the tape deck of my grandmother’s car—

my grandmother, who would outlive the woman she loved by several decades—
a fact i learn later, in a used bookstore—

i am there because it is my birthday—
at thirty-one, i have outlived the woman my grandmother loved, as well—

& when my teeth kiss the driveway decades before my feet—
i assume this is inheritance, too—

the way the blood keeps this memory, this tempo—
plays it back & rewinds—

plays it back. & rewinds.

3.



i stumble across Patsy Cline again by accident—buy her albums in bulk the shape of
tree roots & nicotine. later, a cardinal mistakes a doorway for a window & divorces skull

from spine, discovers two new hemispheres of flesh—& we call this a clean break.
later, a glacier flows down a valley in Seward, Alaska—

& this, too, is our inheritance.

Jan Harris

Jan Harris lives in Nottinghamshire, UK.  Her poems have appeared in literary journals including Acumen, Atrium, and Poetry Wales, and in various anthologies, including several e-books published by Poetry Kit. Her poems also feature in the Iamb poetry archive.  Jan was awarded third place in the Wales Poetry Award, 2019 and came second in the Poetry Super Highway 2022 Competition. Her first collection, Mute Swans on the Cam, was published in July 2020 by Oversteps Books. 

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

While still, we journey far

Our plans deflated by a nail in a tyre,
we must wait by the big cream phone
in our holiday lodge, while Cranecleugh Burn
rushes past the veranda on its journey
from moor to Kielder Water.

Our mobiles silently reproach this remoteness,
but the grey heron wings low along the river
with news of fish, and a robin
romances the rowan with song.
We pace, sit, sigh, while morning slides

into afternoon. The landline brings news
of delays, our rescuers diverted to emergencies.
Here, the only urgency is the swallows’
insect-hunt, their mechanical whirr.
With each new call we fall down the list

into tomorrow, patience ebbing
with the late-summer light, until we dine
al fresco, pass bowls of broth from hand to hand,
dip warm bread, sticky with butter
that pools on the soup’s surface, like words

that linger on our lips, before we speak them
into the cool evening air where buzzards circle
higher and higher – do you remember…
with an inflection that lifts like wings,
of course, and did I ever tell you…

and while the dark sky darkens
and is pricked by stars, we wonder
which ones are now just memories, light
carried through time and offered to us now,
like an unexpected gift.

First Published in Poetry Kit e-book Journeys 2020

 

If we travel towards each other, you and I,

we will meet at a point neither of us has reached before,
where a welcome bench is neither rickety nor new
………….and the view is not of silent, scented pinewoods
rolling down to sea, or city skylines drawn with steel
and glass, where traffic travels endlessly to somewhere else,
but something in between,
………….………….………….and there may be a small café
with food that doesn’t zing with chilli on our lips
and isn’t bland as rice without a hint of spice or seasoning,
………….………….………….……..and we will sit awhile, careful
not to close the gap too soon for fear
of something strangely undefined but real, until you say
a quiet namaste, shalom, or maybe the salaam,
………….………….………….and I will offer you my hand,
and you will hold it, warm in yours,
………….………….………….with your hand warm in mine.

First Published in Poetry Kit e-book Journeys 2020

Kathrynn Axton

Kathrynn Axton is a poet, spoken word artist, Indigenous advocate and nationally certified Canadian addictions counsellor. She is the author of Uncultured Girl (That Writer Kwe Publications, 2017) and was awarded fourth place in the 2022 Poetry Super Highway summer contest.  Her poetry has been featured on AllPoetry Spotlight, Bywords, PoetrySuperHighway, The Peregrine Journal and elsewhere. Her editorials have been featured in Native Hoop Magazine, and elsewhere. When she is not writing she spends her time dedicated to supporting the development and implementation of therapeutic communities within the correctional system as a Team Lead with Rosc Solutions Group in Alberta, Canada. 

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

The Other Side of Brawley

One-hour and forty-five minutes
symphony of sad songs clash
angry metal spoons
raging against the veins you use

and we stayed sick

I wish you felt the loss
but you only feel the burn
toxic dust from a dying California lake
filling your lungs from the edge of a pipe

and we stayed sick but

I could have done so many things
instead I answer the phone
the call of my
codependency screaming
we could have driven to the Salton Sea

but when I got well
you stayed sick

and now what?
you stayed shaking on the other side of oblivion
and here I am looking into the eyes of recovery

 


but I don’t see you there

 

Vignettes for Three Children in the Archway of a Funeral Home

I
Have you ever been afraid to exhale?

Guilt is a noose that tightens each time I swallow,
having never learned to hold my breath I stagger-

leaning into the bruise


II
Static connects, that awful ping
It taunts me, goads me
lulls my heavy tongue into submission

with six-seconds of silence, shaking fingers fumble

I leave another message
you will never hear.


III
I remember the beach.
Before the bottles, the pills
there was nothing but the smell of the seaweed
desperately trying to warn us
there’s more than one way to drown.

July 24-30, 2023: Poetry from Betsy Martin and Salvatore Difalco

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Betsy Martin

Betsy Martin’s poem “To Missoula” was nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, The Briar Cliff Review, California Quarterly, Cloudbank, Crack the Spine, Diverse Voices Quarterly (Best of the Net nomination), Green Hills Literary Lantern, Juked, Louisville Review, The MacGuffin, Midwest Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, The Round, Slab, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, THINK, Third Wednesday, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Wrath-Bearing Tree, and many others. Martin’s worked for many years at Skinner House Books in Boston. She has advanced degrees in Russian language and literature and lived in Moscow studying at the Pushkin Institute during the exciting transitional period of glasnost. She is also a visual artist. Visit Betsy on the web here.

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

Frames

after the altercation
in the frame store
with the sullen young woman
who scowled
and wouldn’t deign to help me frame
my painting of the red teapot
and blue gentleman lifting his teacup

how refreshing it was that evening
to see on the sidewalk so many people
lifting their phones up to the sky

the sky a churning ocean of tangerine and pink
with trees like black sea fans reaching up

the people framing it themselves
in their own lifted rectangles

 

Slipcovers

Dad and I drive
along the chintzy strip
of Route 1

on a mission,
now faded with decades—

it’s fabric we’re after,
a slipcover, I think,
for that old, green-striped couch.

The store I don’t remember,
or what we say on the way,
if anything at all is said,

how could we talk
when out of my head
I’ve been tearing the stuffing—

I’m twenty-four,
stuck at home,
and they want to cover it up.

But we both love color,
Dad and I.

He’s wearing
his Old Faithful red jacket
and the sun’s streaming in.

Salvatore Difalco

Salvatore Difalco is a Sicilian Canadian poet and short story writer. He currently lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit him on the web here.

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

Stuck

The city breathes like the back door of a tavern
where a gray cat sits watching with a scowl.

My pockets are empty, cat, I have no money
for whiskey or catnip, no money for idle company.

The city spires and windmills sparkle in moonlight,
and blackened leaves signature the season.

Hunter green garbage trucks clank and shiver
on their night runs through downtown and Chinatown

and the Garment District, then down to the harbour.
It’s the garbage season, everyone a generous donor.

I float like a phantom past a crimson pagoda that flutters
like a silk kimono. Jade and ruby lights glitter at corners,

a yellow cab swooshes by with a slick trail of blood,
pursued by berries-and-cherries and a loose black dog.

Too late to be clowning or stabbing someone
in the belly, too late to be looking for a soup kitchen

or a soup tin or a cup of coffee, too late
to be staggering through Chinatown with a blade

wound through the appendix, bleeding out
over cigarette butts, candy wrappers, fortune cookie

notes, and discarded red slippers. Someone
had crept up to me gently and without warning

slid the blade into my lower abdomen. I had
no money, I had no beef with the killer, I have

no beef with anyone these days, I am a steamer
stuck in the middle of the night, leaking diesel

and hoping the look on the gray cat’s face stems
from issues with another cat and not a bleeding man.

July 17-23, 2023: Poetry from Yolanda Ceylan and Bob McAfee

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Yolanda Ceylan

Yolanda Ceylan is a Turkish-American poet and artificial intelligence researcher living between San Francisco, CA and Europe. She writes to explore what makes us human. Yolanda graduated from Barnard College at Columbia University and Harvard Kennedy School with a Master in Public Policy.

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

The border guards of the cocoon and the cave 

In a dark cave
alone and afraid, 
I kneel over, clench
my aching chest,
reach out to you
across the city. 

In our glowing
cocoon we 
trust
connect
believe
soft kiss on the belly, 
arms wrap hips,
candlelit cover
secure 
us. 

Sharing our bruised hearts 
as precious gifts; 

Offering, accepting
delicate memories;

giving permission for the
border guards 
to stand down
and expose them
raw.

 

Our first lightning strike 

Blocking all sense of the past
before us.

Two magnetized faces
conduct through air between us
our heartbeats and hopes, 
electric currents
pulsing with our beliefs
updating with the wonder 
about what the world offers us
this unexpected instant;

A sudden shock, 
heat, and light
 
(if you stop, 
I fall 

don’t stop, 

we’re falling).

Bob McAfee

Bob McAfee is a retired software consultant who lives with his wife near Boston. For several years he made an hour train commute to and from Boston and developed the habit of writing in that fixed time. He continues to try to write two hours every day. His style is eclectic, but his goal is producing poems with both fierceness and a reluctant sense of optimism. He has written seven books of poetry including: “Natural Worlds” poems illustrated with color photographs 2021, “Love Songs” 2022 and “Scar Tissue” 2023, all available through bookbaby.com. Poems have been accepted by The Lyric, The Blue Mountain Review, Gleam Poets, Grand Little Things, Poetry Super Highway, The Society of Classical Poets Journal and many more. Visit Bob on the web at bobmcafee.com.

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

Tin Man

I could never remember the poppies
scarletting before,
purling the dishonest hillside
with such sanguine fingers,

screakings of the flying monkeys,
racked and raunchy,
no harmless jinn, no sticky sycophants,
no simple spell this,

but only the subjugation of motives,
calumnied and casual,
twister-borne and tenebrous,
an eyeball seen through a crystal ball.

You are the witch of the storm cloud,
queen of west Kansas,
aviatrix of the farmhouse,
oracle of the city of emeralds, Cassandra

whom I alone believe,
and do you not have the power of rubies?
Here I stand, heartless and creak-kneed,
rusty-axed and love-lorn,

for only the briefest moment, for all time,
unoiled and unrequited,
brained and brave,
slouching toward the curtained man foretold.


Ahead the wicked spires,
the portcullised gate, the lofty loom,
the battened, brackish battlements
of the western hag

whom you with one fell swoosh
of water bucket extirpate.
I could never remember before,
as you now confront the Great Oz,

clicking your heels,
this unrelenting feeling of loss,
my tears drying to rust on my metallic,
heart-less carapace.

 

The Emerald City – a Sestina

The wizard is pulled from his bunker nearly dead
hung from a tree until his terrible maned head
tumbles like a cabbage in a cyclone: a fitting end. My
name is Hakim. Only a man with no brains would drive
a taxi in these early days of the invasion, my cab a light
blue Toyota pickup, old, but like me, keeps running.

Two men and an injured girl flag me down, running
scared – pay me 500 US dollars to ride twelve hours dead
west to a farm near Al Wadi. Ten hours left of light.
The girl sits with the petrol cans and her dog as we head
west, passing blackened vehicles of those who tried to drive
to safety, some with charred soldiers still seated. In my

mind I sense the flying monkey invaders still searching. My
cab holds three passengers: Taynman, his mouth running
seldom, with his Kalashnikov, a man of resolute drive;
puling Haidar, the coward, and veiled Dunia, nearly dead,
her bleeding hand scratching her cur’s scraggly head.
We are shrouded in fog from the Tigris, traffic grows light.

Off ramp: the remains of a service station, the Shell light
flickers, the building smolders. The lavatory untouched, my
troupe descends. An armored vehicle approaches. We head
to a poppy field, fast as lightning’s frantic crackle, running
then diving in. A drone destroys the tank. As if opium dead
we hunker, held by the fingers of sleep, too tired to drive.

Evening rain jerks us awake. We retrieve the cab, drive
west, fighting torrential storm until we see the farm’s light.
We rest. I swear this is true, on pain of being tortured dead,
her auntie has jaundice, face green as the wicked witch. My
story is over, Mr. Smith. Here we are, the airport. Running
to your plane not required. I’ll unload your bag, then head

back to the city. This phrase reverberates in my head:
you are not in Kansas anymore – I hear it whenever I drive
from Oz, along the Euphrates, west toward Syria, running
on repaired roads. I now own this Mercedes, trip the light
fantastic, city to airport. On your next trip I’ll relate my
adventures returning: how I grew a brain, grew brain dead.

Haidar means lion. And Taynman? May Dr. Dead
be sleeping when you arrive – if he begins to wake, take my
advice: click your heels and he’ll be blinded by your light.

July 10-16, 2023: Poetry from Zhihua Wang and Ted Mc Carthy

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Zhihua Wang

Zhihua Wang’s poems have appeared in Aji, Last Leaves, Across the Margin, Eunoia Review, Nurture, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in Poetry from the University of Central Arkansas. She is working on her first poetry collection and a collection of translated poems.

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

Blinds

If I could be you,
drifting at ease
between days and nights,
between light and darkness.

Could watch the bright
new world
with eyes wide open.

Could shut down everything,
back to the interior,
to peace,
in just a turn, a blink.

 

Cherries

How do you manage this?
Skin rich in red,
pulp more sensual
and intense
after a bite.
Dark juice runs
on my fingers,
lingers on my lips,
as thick as red wine,
yet with a flavor
far milder.

 

Poetry

is the language of the weak—
flowers grown on cliffs,
in the Gobi,
or between cracks
of rocks,

watered
by a humble heart.

Ted Mc Carthy

Ted Mc Carthy is a poet, translator and playwright living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia. He has had two collections published, ‘November Wedding‘, and ‘Beverly Downs’. His most recent play ‘The American Room’ was broadcast as part of the Irish Decade of Centenaries programme.

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

A Box of Air

Monday, and the sound of the postman,
letterboxes clacking along the opposite row,
he working his way down, then up.
Footsteps, greetings, footsteps; a hurry
as the sky presumably grows dark.
The blinds are drawn. You wait
for the letterbox to open like that wrong
train door a man once disappeared through.

Are you still counting? It was numbers
first overwhelmed you – termites, stars, Hiroshima.
Dizzy alike under the sky at night
or pointed at a screen, you took refuge
in a box of air, calmed
by the purity of blank walls,
windows breathing through a hairline crack.

And are your dreams more beautiful
for being the hive your active mind denies?
For to be sure there is a seaside path
that will never leave you, walls overhung
with flowers; you in your twenties seeing for the first time
the far end of the bay; a promise
made to yourself.
A nightly dream, one of you a ghost.

July 3-9, 2023: Poetry from LB Sedlacek and Carol Schoder

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

LB Sedlacek

LB Sedlacek has had poems and stories appear in a variety of journals and zines. Her poetry books include “Swim,” “The Architect of French Fries,” “The Poet Next Door,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “Happy Little Clouds,” and “Words and Bones.” Her short stories “Backwards Wink” and “Sight Unseen” both won 1st Place Prose for different issues of “Branches” literary magazine in 2022. Her latest fiction book is “The Jackalope Committee and Other Tales” published by Alien Buddha Press. Her fiction books include the award nominated mystery “The Glass River” and “Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories.” LB also likes to swim and read. Find out more at: www.lbsedlacek.com

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

Carolina Beach Arcade Sushi and Sage Rock Star Reunion

We stop in the
Sushi store
for vegetarian
Sushi cause I
don’t eat fish
but I don’t eat the
roll I only pay
so my kids can
eat and the man
at the register
wears a rock band
t-shirt and talks
about how bad music
sounds these days and
how the genius rock
star pop star who
went by the name
of a symbol at
one point took all
the good music when
he died while the
lady making the
roll dices up a fresh
avocado and says so
asking who’s the
vegetarian or if
we want wasabi
the place is tiny and
yellow and also sells
onesies (for adults)
and cotton candy
strung out in all colors
on chains on metal
brown pipes fastened to
the walls there’s no music
playing but the rock star
t-shirt clerk tells us
you know they drop
a Flip Flop on the
Boardwalk for
New Years Eve
but we tell him we’ll
be long gone before then
anyway cause this
was an unplanned stop
where we ended up buying
and being overcharged for
Sushi and ended up buying
Sage at the adjacent store
on a cold winter day at the
beach.

Carol Schoder

Carol Schoder is a visual artist and writer who currently lives in Illinois.  Carol writes poetry, prose, creative nonfiction and hybrid pieces.  She loves to read, paint and photograph clouds.

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

O Ye of Little Faith

It’s Sunday. I’ll tell you that much, and
the rag-curl kinks zig-zag down my back,
finally freed from their rag-taggy rags

Dippity-Do Sunday, Ball-in-the-Jack Sunday,
church basement stage Sunday dance Sunday
sing Sunday, I Jack-in-the-box sing

Love the choir and rummage sale smell of
the old things, the pong of un-wanted, hallelujahed
and off-cast, they quietly await their rebirth

Good Lord Deliver Us, sanitary belts and
breastplates, we beseech Thee to hear us,
send us miniscule bras

The atoms, the molecules of mold and of
butter, the dumpling stale mothball sonic boom
of the door…..WHOOSH-BANG

Close it! Closet. Clang-clang-green alarm clock,
Davey and Goliath now fill up my screen, in
Claymation they teach me a colorless lesson

Good Lord, Deliver Us, first aid kits and
burn cream, we beseech Thee to hear us,
send us Gilead and gauze

But back to Sunday. Sunday School saints
and boutonnière sinners, mother-daughter banquets
where children munch candles/breathe fire

And the stainless-steel pots roil and bubble like
cauldrons with glowing hag faces hanging above them
chanting, incanting, “We [wholly] believe in …”

Swedish meatballs and J-e-l-l-o, the kind with
marshmallow and green-grape pineapple and sliced
Crisco-fried Chrismon

Good Lord, Deliver Us, Styrofoam and
Modge-Podge, we beseech Thee to hear us,
bless our scissors and knives

Cut the cake! All the cakes! Frosty, frothy and sticky,
stacked high to the ceiling and ready to pink. Pink? Maybe.
But white, too, with sweet coconut-shred flames

Flaming cookbooks, proud of cookbooks, smoking
pages, curling edges. Hear the fire alarm? Grab the
ashes. Leave me, praying, by the sink.

June 26 – July 2, 2023: Poetry from Rochelle Shapiro and John Dorroh

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Rochelle Shapiro

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro’s novel, Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004), was nominated for the Harold U. Ribelow Award. She has published essays in NYT (Lives) and Newsweek. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary magazines. Rochelle’s poetry has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and she won the Branden Memorial Literary Award from Negative Capability. Spry Magazinenominated my poem for the Best of the Net. She currently teaches writing at UCLA Extension and lives in Niskayuna, New York.

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

The Magic of Woolworth’s

Stepping into the five-and-dime with you, Mother, your stocking seams 
always straight, your brunette hair set in waves, I’d pass 
the mechanical horse, the photo booth, and smell the popcorn 
popping and the nose-stinging insecticide sprayed on bolts 
of imported gingham, seersucker, and calico. 
 
While you flipped through the Butterick Pattern Book, 
I pocketed small golden pots of rouge and tiny boxes 
of cake mascara, then headed to the back wall 
where parakeets and canaries sang torch songs from their cages
—cheep, squeak, whistle, trill. I watched the feathered couples 
pass each other seeds, bills touching like birdy kisses. 
 
At the lunch counter, as Shirl in her light green uniform 
and “invisible” hairnet served up skinny franks, grilled cheese, 
and malteds, I pressed my case to buy us a bird. 
You gave a long sigh, as if exhaling smoke from a Marlboro. 
“It’s enough taking care of you three girls and your father,” you said. 
 
In your last summer, just before Woolworth’s
went out of business and took the red sign down,
you shuffled there in your house slippers and bought
a blue and yellow parakeet, named it Cheya,
meaning life in Hebrew. You fed her peeled grapes
and chirped, trilled, and cheeped along with her. 
 
But when you left an empty kettle 
boiling on the burner, and your apartment filled with smoke,  
you opened the window and Cheya flew out.

John Dorroh

John Dorroh understands that words are more than some magic potion, that words engage themselves with the soul. He appreciates the work that went into each and every poem he reads in journals by every author. He thanks them. Three of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net. Others have appeared in over 100 fine journals such as Feral, River Heron, Pinyon, Burningword, The Orchards Poetry Journal, & North Dakota Quarterly. He had two chapbooks published in 2022.

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

The Crow in my Pants

I have time for something black in my pants,
something with feathers to make a fluttering

down there. I need a crow in my pants, a big
black crow who knows my face & likes to

solve problems, like how to escape from
this cage & whether to eat blackberry pie

or crow at the restaurant. I want the crow
in my pants to be bold enough to belch

at a party of snobs & smart enough to never
talk about politics. The crow in my pants

should learn a foreign language & write
digital lessons for linear equations. My crow

should know how to pair wine with meat
& fish, should know how to dial 9-1-1.

The crow in my pants should be able to
know right from wrong & how to pick

the appropriate cook ware for casseroles
& cakes. My crow should be kind to old

folks & kids and should always be aware
of the cat who sits on the mantle just waiting.

 

Birth

We drink Blue Paradise with our feet
in wet sand. Puffy clouds kiss horizon
stretched out like layers of caramel
cake. We are home here, speaking French
like natives who never left. Skinny palms
hula with frenzied grief, their browned-out fronds
scratching trunks like crepe-paper lips.
Children chase their hot dogs into the water
while helicopter mothers scream into the wind.
They are fine, we tell them. They scowl.
They’re not our babies, not the way
they were pushed out
out of warm salt water.

June 19-25 2023: Poetry from Hannah Jane Weber and Michael Friedman

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Hannah Jane Weber

Hannah Jane Weber’s poetry has been published in I-70 Review, The Phoenix, Plainsongs, The Poeming Pigeon, Ponder Review, Rosebud, Slippery Elm and more. She is also a recipient of the Dylan Thomas American Poet Prize. Hannah Jane is a children’s librarian and tennis enthusiast. She lives in Prairie Village, Kansas with her husband and their dogs.

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

Cyclops

merging onto the packed highway
I notice what appears to be
a large Pyrex bowl lying in the weeds

I know better

I wait for a savage hand
to reach through the clouds
fumble blindly in the grass
for the fallen contact lens

but the sky remains static

his nails must be too sharp
his rage a fly banging
against his large skull
and he’s disoriented

perhaps he cannot make out
the contact lens’ fuzzy outline
through the smog-packed sky

ever so faintly I hear a defeated growl

but it’s only a motorcycle
weaving in and out of lanes
of creeping traffic

 

Lunch Break

My feet dance away from me,
race to greet the tinny melody
escaping a coworker’s earbuds.

I pat the treble into my chest, my heart,
which carries it through my veins,
nourishing my body one beat at a time.

 

Sunday Drive

He slows to a stop
at the red light, rims spinning,
blue Camry blaring
Aretha’s “Natural Woman,”
and adjusts his duct-taped mirror.

Michael Friedman

Michael Wayne Friedman received his MFA in Creative Writing from Queens University at Charlotte. His poems and book reviews have appeared in Tule Review, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Wherewithal, Yellow Chair Review, Camel Saloon, Plum Tree Tavern, East Jasmine Review, Stray Branch, Main Street Rag, and others.

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

Hunger Dream

I was in the engine
of a freight train looking
down at a busted box,
presumably cargo.
Snack cakes spilled out
like insect larvae,
some crushed at one end
where someone had stepped
on the cellophane.

I ate the ones pinched and deformed,
figuring damage could not be sold.
They tasted better being
reciprocal to order and planning,
whose trimmed ends
were without fat or blemish.

My father relished the rinds,
said they were the best part
of the bacon,
all the while tamping
his extinguished pipe
with his index finger,
black with burnt tobacco.

He re-lit the pipe,
drew an ecstatic breath,
eyes closed and thinking of
nothing that could not be used.

 

No Adjectives

My mother wrote a tribute
to my brother Gary.
She knew him
during that exercise, as if
distance left her vocabulary.

She knew him
during those days
when the tube down his throat
necessitated note passing.
He would scrawl, she would listen
to the clicks and push of machinery,
wrap up what needed saying.

The needful exchanged
before the onset of coma
and the family
standing by the bedside.

June 12-18, 2023: Poetry from Anne Mikusinski and Tony Gruenewald

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Anne Mikusinski

Anne Mikusinski has always been in love with words, whether they have been read or spoken aloud. She has been writing poems and short stories since she was seven years old. Her influences range from Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath to David Byrne and Nick Cave. She hopes that someday, her writing will be as much of an influence on someone as these writers have been on her.

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

Night Music

Tonight’s soundtrack
Includes
The soft whirring
Of rotating blades
Above my head
They lull my thoughts to
Sleep
And usher in
Tonight’s cast
Of worries and dead author’s quotes,
And other things unspoken
Before midnight.
Their presence brings an uneasy
Familiarity
To the room
And a longing for better
Company
At this hour
A wish for companionship
And soft words
Before sleep.

Tony Gruenewald

Tony Gruenewald’s poetry collections include The Secret History of New Jersey (Northwind) and Honk (Kelsay Books). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tiferet, Edison Literary Review, Paterson Literary Review, Exit 13, U.S. 1 Worksheets, English Journal, WNYC.org, and other places in print and online. After working as a broadcast journalist, an advertising copywriter, and an audiobook producer, he is now a media archivist who lives in Garwood, New Jersey. Visit Tony on the web here.

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

The Past

On its collar,
the past
should be made
to wear a bell,

because at my age
there’s more of it
prepared to pounce
and sink its teeth,

to make me silently
shriek behind
my façade of
pleasant surprise

whenever it slinks
around the corner,
struts up the aisle
at the ballgame,

stealthily stalks
me online,
appears in a pew
as if an apparition,

or quietly watches
while it lays in wait
in the last row
of my poetry reading.


Previously published in Tiferet.

June 5-11, 2023: Poetry from Kristy Snedden and Scott Thomas Outlar

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Kristy Snedden

Kristy Snedden has been a trauma psychotherapist for forty-plus years. She began writing poetry in June 2020. Her poem, “Dementia,” was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in various journals and anthologies, including Snapdragon, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Examined Life Journal, Open Minds Quarterly, Pensive, and Door Is A Jar. She currently serves as the Book Review Editor for Anti-Heroin Chic.  In her free time, she can be found hiking in the Appalachian Mountains near her home in Georgia or hanging out with her husband listening to their dogs tell tall tales. You can follow her on Instagram @kristy_snedden_poetry.

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

My neighbor’s calf gazing into my eyes

held me just outside the woven wire fence. Enraptured at dusk, I fell and found musicians, already tuned up. The opening notes spilled over the stage. Three flutes. A drumbeat from shadows in the back. I was shaken by the solid bass of cellos, strolled through the staircase of violins. The conductor included me with her baton as I swayed behind the French horn dressed in my grandmother’s finest gown, old and a little wrinkled.

Such harmony and such tenderness. I rolled in the hay backstage, created a bed of straw. Mother’s lowing cradled us in the meadow, stars sailed into the sky above.

An angel sent by Lyra landed with a delicate thump beside me. She folded her wings and encouraged me in my quest to be music.

The tattered edges of my gown glowed. Each blink of the eye followed by the sweep of lash built a bridge of notes that buttressed me until I rested on the melody, concerto over the field.

Scott Thomas Outlar

Scott Thomas Outlar is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. He now lives and writes in Frederick, Maryland. He is the author of seven books. His work has been nominated multiple times for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He guest-edited the Hope Anthology of Poetry from CultureCult Press as well as the 2019-2023 Western Voices editions of Setu Mag. He has been a weekly contributor at Dissident Voice for the past eight and a half years. Selections of his poetry have been translated into Afrikaans, Albanian, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Cherokee, Dutch, French, Hindi, Italian, Kurdish, Malayalam, Persian, Serbian, and Spanish. More about Outlar’s work can be found at 17Numa.com.

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

If Only in Dreams

My father
of infinite consciousness
passed away from this world
but eternal in the God state of transcendence
 
appeared to me in a perfect form
of amplified unification
and argued the point to my face
that you may shed your skin
and seem to live several lives
while roaming with a suit of flesh
 
but where he came from
and has returned
there is only one
energetic point
of truth
that pulses
forever
 
and with that encounter signed
sealed and delivered
I remember
that the great abyss of fear
is also the source
where heaven
expands
 
so I’ll be damned
if I don’t dance
through every season
while enjoying my time
served on earth
 
because I know it’s beautiful on the other side
but there’s still something about the sun
that shines an awfully special song
of light here during the tribulation

May 29 – June 4, 2023: Poetry from Holly Day and Douglas Richardson

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Holly Day

Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, The Hong Kong Review, and Appalachian Journal. She currently teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, the Richard  Hugo House in Washington, and WriterHouse in Virginia.

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

Places for Men

No women are allowed on Mount Anthos in Greece.
It’s just a place for men, and male chickens, and male dogs
eggs and dairy have to be brought in from the village below
because not even cows are allowed near the monastery.

You know the people down in the village make fun of those monks
and their pretense at celibacy
and their fear of women
and it goes without saying that those dogs up there
are busy humping one another.
They don’t care that there aren’t any bitches up there,
Neither do the monks.

 

The Bird Man

There was once an old man in my neighborhood that was always being followed
by flocks of birds, he stuffed his pockets with birdseed every morning
left a trail of seeds wherever he went, he looked like an angel with those great wings
always settling around him, almost on him, just inches from being truly domesticated.
He was tanned and gaunt and had a long, white beard, seemed almost biblical
in his disdain for weather-appropriate clothing and sensible footwear.

Someone said he had cancer, and that’s why he was so thin,
he had decided to spend the little time he had left
feeding and talking to birds, but someone else said
he lived on birdseed and sunshine and orange juice,
and that’s where he got his energy from
he hardly ever needed to sleep.

I used to see him every morning a little after sunrise, when I was riding my bike to school
he’d smile and raise his hand a little as if required to acknowledge me
and I’d raise one or two fingers in response as I hurried to make it to class on time
until the day he didn’t show up, and didn’t show up the next day, either,
and someone said he’d been found on the beach, covered in seagulls
it was such a gruesome way for such a gentle man to go, they said, but I think

they were just taking him up into the air with them, one little piece at a time
because that was all they could carry, since they were, after all, just birds.

Douglas Richardson

Douglas Richardson lives in Santa Ana, California, with his wife Jen and cat Wes.  In these work-from-home years he likes to watch Big Bang Theory reruns during his lunch hour. His poetry has been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, Black Poppy Review, Cajun Mutt Press, The Ekphrastic Review, Hobo Camp Review, The Nervous Breakdown,The New Verse News, Straight Forward Poetry, Trouvaille Review, and Poetry Super Highway. In 2013, he won the Poetry Super Highway contest with his entry, “Notes from the Graveyard Shift.”

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

February 13, 1994

A winter afternoon
at Wasteland on Melrose
in the background
the low light
of Alice in Chains
while my friend
spun clothes around racks
hangers clacking
some with nothing on them—
we described the essential
characteristics of the last person
associated with each
and why they purchased
or stole what was there
this day of our youth
in tune with
every living thing

May 22-28, 2023: Poetry from Ryan Quinn Flanagan and Richard Widerkehr

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry Super Highway, Ink Pantry, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. See his many books on Amazon here.

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

Why Can’t I Be a Deck Chair?

It is that time of year.
She is always cold and looking to steal
my body heat.

Equalize!
she says leaning into me
on the couch.

Demanding I put my arms around her.

I can’t, I say
holding my arms out straight.
I’m a deck chair.

You’re not a deck chair!
she grabs my arms and tries to move them.

Now, you broke the arms of the deck chair,
I say.

You’re not a deck chair!
she is adamant.

Why can’t I be a deck chair?
I ask.

Because you should want to show affection,
she says.
To sit and hug me.

What kind of a deck chair would I be
if I did that, I think to myself.

Probably a broken one.

 

Capone the Pin Boy

Even the boss
has to start somewhere

and Al got a job
as a pin boy at the local
bowling alley

before he was old enough
to enforce his will

and start
knocking things over
all on his own.

Richard Widerkehr

Richard Widerkehr’s fourth book of poems is Night Journey (Shanti Arts Press, 2022).  At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag) came out in 2021. His work has appeared in Poetry Super Highway, Writer’s Almanac, Atlanta Review, and in Take A Stand: Art Against Hate (Raven Chronicles).  He won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan and first prize for a short story at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. Sedimental Journey, his novel about a geologist, was published by Tarragon Books. He reads poems for Shark Reef Review.  He is bad at using computers and paying attention to what he is doing.

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

My Big Fat Adult Bar Mitzvah

This year I study with Rabbi Myrna I see
she has a hawk spirit like our father,
strict as Leviticus. When I mention Aaron’s sons,
consumed for putting alien fire in their fire pans,
she says, Let’s hope that doesn’t happen here.
The Sabbath morning of my Bar Mitzvah—
folding tables in our synagogue basement
not set up—I thought Byron was taking care
of that, I say. Rabbi Myrna: Did you even ask him?
Yes. You heard what you wanted to hear.
In her inner office behind the sanctuary,
no attic, no shadows…
………………………………….Now on my road,
smoke from a burn pile, this red-tailed hawk
whistles. Shree,-shree. No, I did not set
the tables of the Lord.

May 8-14, 2023: Poetry from Karin L. Frank and Stuart Larner

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Karin L. Frank

Karin L. Frank’s poems and stories have been published in a wide variety of venues both literary and genre, in the U.S.A. and abroad. Nurtured by the fantasies and sciences of both coasts, she is now officially an old lady disintegrating on a farm in the Midwest. A Meeting of Minds, a collection of her science-based and science fiction-based poems is available through Amazon. A second, entitled Frankenstein Unbound, is in the works and should be completed soon.

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

Saturday Afternoon
in the Mall of America

Random battle raged along
the shop- and restaurant-lined
hallways, up and down the escalators
and in-and-out of restrooms.
Parents yelled, “Quiet,” at kids
at the decibel level of jet engines
and kids razzed other kids
like mini-buzz saws spinning
as they rode the fairground rides
while teenagers texted, lolling
amongst old-timers resting
silent on benches between strolls.
Guts resonated each time
toilets flushed. Perfumes
clawed pathways from doorways
to sinuses. Cell membranes echoed
the price when cashiers rang up,
and loudspeakers insisted
everyone Pay Attention.
Crazed timpanists hidden
behind garish window displays
percussed shoppers’ eardrums
with bombs and bangs and
individual songs sung in unison
took on the cacophonous
timber of screams.
The assault wore on
as the afternoon waned and
the Mall of America
mauled my American brain.

Stuart Larner

Stuart Larner is a retired psychologist. He wrote the illustrated sonnet sequence “The Car” in 2016. He won the British Psychological society’s Poetry Competition 2022. For more poetry and stories, see his blog.

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

In a Clothes Shop Window

In the latest shirts and skirts,
arms open for a tomorrow here today,
hips braced to dance with new ideas,
their frozen flirts aim at each other
a tender invisible connection.

With their gear,
I would be reborn.

I want
their clothes.

They want
to come alive.

May 8-14, 2023: Poetry from Amy Barone and Lisa Delan

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Amy Barone

Amy Barone’s new poetry collection, Defying Extinction, was published by Broadstone Books in 2022. New York Quarterly Books released her collection, We Became Summer, in 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing.) Barone’s poetry has appeared in Local Knowledge, Martello Journal (Ireland), Muddy River Poetry Review, New Verse News, and Paterson Literary Review, among other publications. She belongs to the Poetry Society of America and the brevitas online poetry community. From Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, she lives in New York City.

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

The G Spot

Once a mecca for gals, guns, gambling and gold,
now ponderosa pines and Victorian homes

flank the steep road to Mt. Mariah Cemetery
where we salute Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.

Survivor of three major fires—
the place never became a ghost town.
It had a theatre, Chinatown, and hardware store.

During the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1876
the Lakotas lost this land to settlers—
gold mining carried on until 2002.

The last brothels closed in 1980
and in 1989 gambling became legal.

Far from home, tourists sort through wood carvings—
gnomes, animals, frontier heroes—
digging for gold in Deadwood.

Lisa Delan

Lisa Delan’s work has been featured or is forthcoming in American Writers Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, Passengers Journal, Poets Choice, The Pointed Circle, Viewless Wings, Wild Roof Journal, The Write Launch, and other literary publications. She has been nominated for a 2023 Pushcart Prize. When she is not writing poems, you can find the soprano, who records for the Pentatone label, singing art songs by American composers on texts of many of her favorite poets.

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

3 am

i am afraid
no one will
see me drown

when the brack
swells rise and
wrap my heels

and my breath
buried under
green glass

eyes gritted
open to swallow
the storm

weighting my
body as
i roll under

dragging the
bottom until
light filtrates

far away in
a dream of
rising

i open my mouth
and all the sea
rushes out


Originally published in print in American Writers Review (San Fedele Press 2022)

May 1-7, 2023: Poetry from Corey Bryan and Elizabeth Edelglass

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Corey Bryan

Corey Bryan is a student at Georgia State University. He lives with his clowder of cats (the best to ever do it) and girlfriend in Atlanta, GA. He is currently writing daily poetry prompts with a friend of his at poetryispretentious.com. He is published at the Empyrean Lit Magazine and Curious Corvid Publishing and has 6 poems forthcoming at A Door is a Jar, Deep South Mag, and the Seventh Quarry Press.

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

haiku 76

art peaked when
ads for cigarettes
were hand painted

Elizabeth Edelglass

Elizabeth Edelglass is a fiction writer and book reviewer who finds herself writing poetry in response to today’s world—personal, national, and global. Her fiction has won the Reynolds Price Fiction Prize, the William Saroyan Centennial Prize, the Lilith short story contest, and the Lawrence Foundation Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Fish Prize and won third prize in the 2021 Voices Israel Reuben Rose Competition.

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

A Life, in Body Parts

Ankles

of the tall, tall ladies your mother left you with
when she walked away from nursery school.

Knees

scarred roller skating downhill from the dead end
towards home, one second after you felt like flying.

Hips

of your best friend sashaying past you to the back
of the schoolbus to sit with the boy who’d started to shave.

Lobes

(of ears and other parts) tasted by your first
(and only) someone, splayed on a narrow dorm bed

Ears

pressed to the dorm phone as your father says he’s sold
your mother’s diamond earrings, but sssshhhh… don’t tell her.

Lips

too scared to sip red wine under the wedding canopy,
then savoring its sweetness when the rabbi says kiss.

Belly

on the delivery table, number one son safe in doctor’s
hands, you wondering why you’re not flat as before.

Breast

attached to insatiable baby, as your husband announces
you’re moving cross-country, far from home.

Butts

one, two, three… in the bathtub,
slippery in your soapy hands.

Eyes

reading your husband’s e-mail, which he left open,
with her name, for you to see.

Fingers

touching his across number three son
in a hospital bed.

Tops of Heads

seen from a chair as uncles and cousins lift you in the air
at one, two, three tall children’s weddings, your

Hand

holding one end of a white linen napkin
while his hand holds the other.

April 24-30, 2023: Poetry from Nancy Lubarsky and William Heath

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Nancy Lubarsky

Nancy Lubarsky has been an educator for over 35 years.  A retired school superintendent, she holds a Doctorate in English Education from Rutgers University. Nancy has been published in various journals, including Edison Literary Review, Lips, Poetry Nook, Poetica, Tiferet, Exit 13, Howl of Sorrow Anthology, Paterson Literary Review, and US1 Worksheets. She received honorable mention in the 2014 and 2016 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and Editor’s Choice in 2017. She has also been nominated twice for the Pushcart prize. She is the author of two books: Tattoos (Finishing Line Press) and The Only Proof (Kelsay Press).

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

The Record

The first boy in high school who stole
my heart also stole record albums. He’d
buy one, then exit Grand Way’s auto-doors.
They’d re-open, beckon him back to finger

through racks of LP’s, slip another into
his slim square bag. I still have the one he
gave me, merged with others in milk crates
that once braced dorm-room shelves,

my broken turntable beneath boxes in the
basement. I met him when you could still
hold music in your hands, before it shrunk
to 8-tracks, cassettes, CD’s and now just

digital pulses. John Barleycorn Must Die
is the one I remember. The title song,
a British folktale about a murder, was
really about the harvest of tiny grains into

something more potent. We sat on the porch
steps. He nudged the record toward me – the
cover resembled a burlap sack, the tied barley
stalks in the center – a bouquet.

 

Work Clothes

for my father

Long after you were gone
I found your cuff links
in a velvet pouch among my
bracelets. The A (for Arthur) etched
in gold ovals, leaned right, the tail
swirled left, like a wave receding.
There’s mystery in the curls,
from a time before font names
were familiar, when elaborate letters
pledged stories to come.

I never saw you wear them—never
watched you twist the levers into slits
on cuffed shirts, or slip your arm into
the sleeve of a pinstriped suit.
Your work clothes were heavy twill—
drawstring pants, an apron—
you left at midnight with them
stashed in a canvas sack, and headed
deep into the Bronx.

Over time, they wore and frayed,
stained with jelly and chocolate.
In middle school, after Home Ec
ended, you surprised me with the
sewing machine. In late afternoon,
at the dinette, you cut patches
while I mended holes and edges.
My toe touched the pedal, the machine
whirred—you asked me to print
your initials inside along the seams.

William Heath

William Heath has published three poetry books, The Walking Man, Steel Valley Elegy, and Going Places; a chapbook, Night Moves in Ohio; three novels: The Children Bob Moses Led (winner of the Hackney Award), Devil Dancer, and Blacksnake’s Path; a work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (winner of two Spur Awards); a collection of interviews, Conversations with Robert Stone. Visit: www.williamheathbooks.com

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

Old Guy

In the middle of the night
my metaphysical moment:
old guy, prostate, that story.
Shuffling my Frankenstein
amble down the hall
I sit and piss in dribs
and drabs several times
each night as the years
slide away. I’m not
the first, nor the last,
this is the way the world
goes for all us old guys.
Eyes dim, pins shot,
my ticker sometimes
skips a tock.
A few hours of sleep,
then a few more,
until one day
that last alarm rings.

25th 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 collections and six pamphlets, two of them collaborative. She was a winner in the Cinnamon Press 2017 pamphlet competition with War Baby and has twice won th Second Light Long Poem Competition. She has been commended in the UK National Poetry Competition (2005) and longlisted in it (2014). Wedding Grief, her most recent collection, was published by Tapsalteerie in 2021.

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

Sign

Today I pass what must have been a tree
vigorous and full of leaves but now
a grey-boned carcass dry as ashes.

Wait! What’s that glimpse of palest yellow
between the long-dead branches?
Primroses opening to whatever sun

they catch under the shadows where
they’ve rooted in the fallen hopes
of the once living, refusing to be cowed.

A. Garnett Weiss

Ontario-based JC Sulzenko’s poetry appears in anthologies and journals in print and online, either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. Aeolus House published Bricolage, A Gathering of Centos, a finalist for the 2022 Fred Kerner Book Award (Canadian Authors Association.)  Point Petre Publishing released South Shore Suite…POEMS in 2017. JC published six books for children families and a play about dementia. She delivered workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, Ottawa Public Library, many school boards, and Alzheimer societies, among others. She selects for bywords.ca and serves on the Ontario Poetry Society’s Executive Committee. Visit her on the web here.

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

Forced journey

Youthful voices sing of sunshine,
sleeping children—life’s masterpieces
acquired in small, prairie towns

too many to write down by name
in the quest for an elixir for trauma.

Found poem sources: words and phrases drawn unaltered from death notices and obituary articles published in the April 4, 2017, Toronto Globe and Mail.

Alan Altany

Alan Altany is a partially retired, septuagenarian college professor of religious studies and theology. He has been a factory worker, swineherd on a farm, hotel clerk, lawn maintenance worker, high school teacher, small magazine of poetry editor, director of religious education for churches, truck driver, novelist, among other things. In 2022 he published a book of poetry entitled A Beautiful Absurdity (https://www.alanaltany.com/).

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

Shoah’s Children

The noise,
the screams,
the human
ashen clouds
of innocence
incensing
days of eternity
over quicksands
of perfect hate
& the banality
of death’s stench.
God dying
with the children,
God buried alive
with the children,
God always
with the children.
Immaculate &
infinite, the
haunting, pure
faces of children
a grotesque
epiphany across
generations,
the absurdly
beautiful
soulful faces
of Shoah’s
dead children
finally rising
with their God
through the
madness into
battered remnants
of gritty love
after all. Always
the children.

Alan Walowitz

Alan Walowitz, from Great Neck, NY, is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual.  His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, comes from Osedax Press. The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, is available from Truth Serum Press. From Arroyo Seco Press, is In the Muddle of the Night, written with poet Betsy Mars. Now available for free download– (https://redwolfjournal.wordpress.com/2023/03/07/the-poems-of-the-air-by-alan-walowitz-2/) —is the collection The Poems of the Air from Red Wolf Editions. He has studied poetry-making with Stephen Stepanchev, Colette Inez, Carol Muske, James Reiss, C.K. Williams, Fred Marchant, and  Estha Weiner. Though he’s old, he still has so much to learn.

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

Skinny

My father by the water, a one-piece
stretched over his long, skinny chest.
His pals’ arms tossed around one another,
careless and calm, despite the news lurking
behind the front page, just a drumbeat away.
But let me stay here with him at Brighton or Coney,
no telling where these boys had gone.
People were smaller then
and my father was a tall drink,
all elbows and knees,
claimed six feet on his enlistment
and why not, with that crop of hair,
wavy, thick, much like the mess
he passed on to me.

He should be happy here, the youngest son,
born both feet here, strictly a this-side man,
not made for his father’s Lumber and Wrecking
over on Flushing. Maybe a doctor, a lawyer like his brother,
ambition befitting a youngest son.
This Jeremiah, to be exalted, never of woe.

I want to get in that picture with him
and tell him something important,
something I’ve been meaning to say:
Maybe–it’s okay to be happy.
I won’t warn him about what’s to come,
the camps he’d see as he made his way
with the Army, first to England, then France,
through Belgium, then across the Rhine–
and what he’d never say he saw.

But how could you avert your eyes?
Skin and bone, barely alive,
and barely a voice among them,
just empty upon empty,
hunger beyond hunger.
I want to tell you it’ll be all right,
all will be saved and fed,
and those who bear witness will be made whole.
But I can’t. I’d be lying.
So often you told me not to lie.
It’s better to say nothing.

Alex Chornyj

Alex Chornyj is a poet from Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada. He has been writing for the better part of forty years. He has been published in online publications such as Poetry Super Highway, in many books, magazines and journals. His writing has a celestial and transcendent influence being connected to his inner spirit and earth’s elements. In 2020 he  published threeo poetry books  and two childrens’ books.  These three creations represent the culmination of his lifelong dreams and persistence. His books are available at amazon.com and amazon.ca.

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

Freedom

Storm clouds were brewing
Nazis were going
Door to door, house to house
We had little time.
The hour was upon us
To flee with the underground
By the guise of night
To enable our escape.
A number of families
Youngsters old enough
To understand the gravity
Of the situation.
As we were star people
A threatened race
By one who would exterminate
To appease his anxiety.
We wished to cohabitate
Not with such conditions
To be caught so meant
A certain death sentence.
Others gone before
The luck of the draw
To be silent
Without any noise.
To give away
Our concealment
Would be a fatal mistake
When apprehended.
Held against our will
To become casualties
Once behind the barb wire fences
Never to be heard from again.
We were on the move
The world we left  behind
Was no looking back
Just listen and learn.
To act beyond our years
To even have a chance
Of reaching the forest
Where freedom may be found.

Alex Stolis

Alex lives in Minneapolis. Visit him on the web here.

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

April 4, 1945

It was a day like any other day, it was a day
like no other, there were thin gray lines that
looked like trees, there were robins chirping
for their mothers; it was a Wednesday the sun
hung low but there was no warmth, it was ten
thousand years ago, it was yesterday; there were
soundless voices, it was a nightmare after waking,
it was a dream unable to sleep, there were prayers
there were words with no meaning; it was the third
day of the week, the 94th day of the year, the earth
was a raw wound, the sky speckled with paint-by-
number clouds; there were men weeping but no
tears, there were 271 days left in the year, 34 days
left to war; it will never happen again, will never
be forgotten; it’s started.


*On this date, Ohrdruf forced labor camp, part of the Buchenwald concentration camp network, was the first camp to be liberated by US troops, the 4th Armored Division and the 89th Infantry.

 

Anita Lerek

Anita Lerek is a young writer, old mask. She 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. Some sample poetry publication credits include One Art Journal of Poetry, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and Silver Birch Press. She was nominated for Best of the Net, 2022, and is co-founder of a women’s online poetry group, Change Artists. She lives with her archivist husband in Toronto, Canada. Visit Anita on Facebook here.

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

Generations Of The Aftermath

The holiday candle figures
chase one another, trembling
to stay alive. We sit around
the table celebrating miracles.


In the wartime Warsaw Ghetto,*
you sketch the misery—
Hanukkah, 1941, means
children at street corners
hunched over as tiny elders;
authorities nabbing bodies
to deport: not criminals, just Jews.
And the price of bread mounts,
the power, cut.

In secret diaries, you cry out
how your people are half-naked,
starved, diseased, dying, dead.
How you used to be human
swotting down schnapps in smoky rooms
with Gorky, Louis Armstrong,
friends hollering all around.

You are human, your words are rags
wrapped around volcanoes
of crowds charging streets
of briefly unlocked sunlight.
Pictures obsess on sleepless ceilings
directed by evil and indifference.
Spectator, victim, you rage to undo
the scenes. But the film is wound,
the pillow burst. Feathers sail in deaf air,
no turning back.


Here, now, the candles have gone out,
your bodies are pinned to the after light.
Through woody pages,
perpetual flickers,
you lead her to us—

the black coat, the tiny feet,
just out of your bones for a second,
no purse, no key—
she toddles off . . .
street blocked, the bird cannot fly,
never returns.

.
Author’s Note: *The Jews of Warsaw and from other areas were locked into the Warsaw Ghetto by the Nazi German regime, as part of the Holocaust of WW2. ^Inspiration here from the writings of martyrs, Abraham Lewin and Emanuel Ringelblum.


Originally published (earlier version), in Verse-Virtual online poetry journal.

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

Anna Maria Mickiewicz is a poet, writer, editor, translator, and publisher. She lives in London. Founder of the publishing house Literary Waves. Anna moved to California and then to London. Her poetic works have appeared in the United States, UK, Australia, Canada, Poland, Mexico, Italy, Bulgaria, Hungary, Salvador, India.  She was honoured with the Gloria Artis medal, the Cross of Freedom and Solidarity and The Joseph Conrad Literary Prize (USA).  In 2013 at the University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies, she organized the World Premiere of World Poetry Day – European Literary Dialogues.

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

survivor

Ghetto – the barbed wire
[…] life continues on the other side. People walk around, their steps slow or fast, the way they used to. Several metres away, two women stand on the edge of the pavement, engaged in an animated conversation. They seem not to notice me. In reality the distance between us is immeasurable. We are divided with a wire mesh bristling with spikes […]. ~ Anna Langfus

Lublin Poets: Julia Hartwig, Anna Kamieńska
and a refugee
a French author
Anna Szternfinkiel – Langfus*

the abyss
enchanted in French braids
in French words

scratched secession
24c Lubartowska Street in Lublin
once an elegant tenement building
right next to the crossroads
Warsaw-Lviv
Cracow-Vilnius

dry-cleaner’s
once a ritual bathhouse
Anna lived nearby as a child

once a barber
his blue advert remained
after the war
now a plaque dedicated to Anna

and we
in these mould-smelling alleys
on wooden staircases
on crumbling pavements
we were running
to the school named after another poet, Józef Czechowicz
running shopping
dating
dumb, unaware
for so many years
we children from
the mute city of Lublin


* Anna Langfus nee Szternfinkiel, born 2 January 1920 in Lublin (Poland), died 12 May 1966 in Paris.  She was also a Holocaust survivor. She received the Goncourt Award in 1962 for her book Les bagages de sable.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Teatr NN Lublin, Poland

Austin Alexis

Austin Alexis is the author of the full-length collection Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, Madgett Poetry Award) and two previously published chapbooks from Poets Wear Prada: Lovers and Drag Queens and For Lincoln & Other Poems. His poetry, fiction and reviews have appeared in Barrow Street, Hawaii Pacific Review, Plath Profiles, Flash Boulevard, 10 by 10 Flash Fiction, the anthology Rabbit Ears: TV Poems and elsewhere, and is scheduled to appear in American Book Review. He has received support from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He lives in New York City.

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

Branded

You tell me the Holocaust never happened.
But my friend’s troubled mother–
once U.S. soldiers yanked her free,
once she whizzed her way to heavenly America–
trudged around Yonkers with numerals
tattooed in engrained ink on her arm:
the Nazi’s identification system.
That cruel and cuckoo math
would cling to her for life.

You tell me she concocted the convoluted tale
for sympathy or to reign as a drama queen.
You stroke and feed your feeble untruth,
your deliberate unknowledge.
Yet, the inner side of her upper-left forearm
was armed with numbers that outed your lie.

Thirteen years after Auschwitz, cancer
did a number on my friend’s mom.
You tell me there is no connection.
And you know that–how?
Those many digits you punched into her
needled her body and her psyche,
and the two dwelled and ached,
interwoven.
With her spirit punctured,
her body did not stand a chance.

Austin McCarron

Austin McCarron lives in London and has appeared in The Robin Hood Book, Van Gogh’s Ear, Poetry Salzburg, Survivors’ Poetry and others.

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

The Death of Humanity

Confessing to responsibility
for the death of humanity with
huge reservations I retreat and
drinking deserts of abundant water
I walk in peace with the midnight sun
and reaching the snow fields with grim
theologies I scatter my devotions and
the crimson heaven bleeds with light.

Ayala Zarfjian

Ayala Zarfjian is an Israeli-born American poet. Her first book, Second Chances: Poetry of a Sun-kissed Life, won theNext Generation Indie Book Award. Ayala is also the author of A Corner in the World: Holocaust Poems for My Father. In these poems, Ayala captured the actions and feelings of her father, her aunt Shelley, and her grandparents. This unforgettable and powerful collection was written for them, for all those that survived, and for those that perished.

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

Sally

For Aunt Sally Eckhaus

I no longer remember the sound of her laughter.
I no longer remember the scent of her perfume.
Did she bake challah for the sabbath?
Did her hands form a perfect braid?
The wind whispered her name.
Her hair flowed when she walked.
Darkness, illuminated by her smile.
She embraced her husband for the last time.
The memories of their newlywed days sustained her.
Their faces beamed when they found each other in a crowd.
Their hearts beat as one.
Their unconscious flowing tenderness was seamless.
A dance of life, filled with beauty and kindness.
Sally mourned my beloved uncle’s death.
Devastated and alone she returned
to reclaim their home.
The villagers that pillaged their possessions
took her life.
Her body was dismembered.
I imagine all the places where
the parts were thrown.
Patches of beautiful lilies grew there.

Barbara Anna Gaiardoni

Barbara Anna Gaiardoni is an Italian pedagogist, author, doodler, ex-violinist, and former swimmer. She has participated in national literary and poetic competitions, obtaining the publication of her texts; currently publishes Japanese poems in English in international trade journals. Cooking, drawing, dancing salsa, and walking in nature are his passions. Her motto is “I can, I must, I will do it”.

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

senryu

open-hearted repose in “don’t know”

*

as you let this barbarity drift away

*

simplicity is very difficult for twisted minds

Barrie Levine

Barrie Levine, from Wenham MA north of Boston, retired from the practice of 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 grandmother, Barrie’s life is all about writing. She recently achieved a life goal of publishing in print: her collection of haiku and senryu entitled COTTON MOON.

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

senryu

brass menorah
the weight of grandpa’s satchel
from the old country

Charlotte Digregorio Writer’s Blog, 2022

Betsey Cullen

Betsey Cullen lives in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. She studies and teaches poetry at the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. A prize-wining poet, her collection, Our Place in Line, won Tiger’s Eye Press’ 2015 Chapbook Competition. Her second chapbook, We Hold the Bones won Heartland Review Press’ 2022 competition.

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

Yom Hashoah

Holocaust and Heroism
Remembrance Day

Montegut, France 1942

Bells toll,
Christian villagers turn their backs
as French gendarmes
herd 37 Jewish children
onto a bus bound for Auschwitz.
A Swiss Red Cross nurse follows closely
enters the German camp
refuses to leave
until the Nazis free her flock
from the slaughter-bound
deliver them
into her embrace.

Pelham, New York 2010

born to Jew and Gentile,
my granddaughter
sleeps in my arms.
I pull her close, pray
that I could have
such courage.


Published by Tigers’ Eye Press: Our Place in Line, a chapbook by Betsey Cullen
And in Resistance Poems Anthology, ed. Taylor Savath and Una Gritz

Betsy Mars

Betsy Mars is a prize-winning poet, a photographer, and an editor at Gyroscope Review. She lives in Torrance, California where she works as a substitute teacher. Betsyis a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee.  Her photos have been published in Rattle (as the Ekphrastic Challenge prompt), Redheaded Stepchild, and as a cover image for Spank the Carp. In addition to her chapbook collaboration with Alan Walowitz, she recently worked with artist Judith Christensen on an installation in San Diego which is part of an ongoing exploration of memory, identity, home, and family.

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

Ghosts

They are ghosts I remember yearly.
They have no shape, so like spirit

I can’t see clearly. They take the form
of holes in conversation, fruitless

branches on the family tree, gaps
in heredity, missing parts

of my identity. I never knew them,
even in story, but knew that they existed,

cousins, uncles, dark-eyed aunts.
The unspoken of, the extinguished,

the ones my parents gave no names
who stayed behind. They dance,

once more alive, burning in remembrance
in a million yahrzeit flames.

Beverly Fenig

Beverly Fenig’s poems have appeared in small press journals, online publications, and poetry anthologies. The poem “The Faithful” is from a volume of poems she published entitled Taking Leave. She is also the author of a chapbook entitled Adjunct and Poems of Living Poor. She resides in NYC, and is an adjunct lecturer at CUNY where she has taught writing courses for many years.

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

The Faithful

In Auschwitz, men of faith
Facing death,
Formed a tribunal
And put God on trial.
They found Him
Guilty of the most unspeakable crimes
And acts against humanity.
At its conclusion
Outraged, broken, the faithful
Shook their feeble fists
Against the sky,
And at sight of the setting sun
Cried
That it was time
For their evening prayers.

Beverly Magid

Beverly Magid had written three novels, Flying Out of Brooklyn, Sown in Tears and Where Do I Go, before turning back to poetry. Her work has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Journal, Freshwater Journal, Stick Figure Poetry Journal, On the Bus, Poetry Super Highway, On the Bus and the anthology Side-Eye on the Apocalypse. “It was the pandemic,” she said, “which made it imperative to find a direct route into life through the written word. That’s poetry.” A long-time Los Angeles resident, she admits that her heart still commutes often to her former home, NY, NY. Visit Beverly on the web here.

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

Shoah (Holocaust)

First their cries were soft
like the mewing of a kitten
then louder like the beating of a drum
suddenly they exploded like the ending of the world
lives ripped away as if they never existed
Jews in towns disappeared

Who can believe the evil of neighbor to neighbor
who can bear the silence of so many
who will survive in a camp
of tattooed numbers and showers of death

Lord don’t forget them
return the world to sanity and love
their voices once soft now rage in our ears
if we don’t speak who will be left to care?

Brian Wood

Brian lives in Guelph, ON, and loves it here, except for the weather. By day he is a literary agent; by night, a poet, of sorts.  In his spare time he watches tennis on tv and is a decent recreational player. He lives with his wife, Rachel, and a beagle-shar pei mix named Yuki, who is snoring under my desk as I write.

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

Putsch

I

There was once a great big beer hall
Putsch at Hofbrauhaus, so many
Drunk Germans, such great fun. And some
Of them tried to shoot an Austrian,
A former corporal, but they missed.

II

Next up, Bavaud, a Swiss bible
Student, who knew, somehow, that this
Former corporal was in fact
Morning star: but there were far too
Many folks in the way: he did
Not even shoot; just no clean sight.

III

Then a carpenter built one bomb
To do one beautiful thing. Just
As he planned, the bomb went off on
Time–and did kill eight Nazis. But
Not the right one, not the target.

IV

Up next there’s Tresckow, the clever
Staff officer, who hid a bomb
On the plane of that bright angel,
Who fell so far from heaven. A
Fallible fuse felled this fun plan.

V

Then Gertsdorff, another staff man,
Another would be bomber; he
Was giving The Fearless Leader
A tour of captured Red Army
Trophies. The plan? Blow himself up,
And with any luck, take out Herr
Fearless Leader at the same time:
There was no luck. None. They both lived.

VI

Finally, Valkyrie, the one
They do movies about…since none
Of us can believe this one failed:
Some fool S.S. trooper moving
Stauffenberg’s well placed bomb. There were
Four Nazis killed, but alas, not
The son of the morning.

VII

The very hairs on our head are
Numbered, our Father cares that much.
Such love, such care, that he spared our
Great adversary a sextet
Of chances. Such love that there was
None left for the peculiar
People, passing away one by
One in the fields of Ravensbruck.

VIII

As for the chosen, those happy
Sons and daughters of that solemn
Covenant, now close to the end
In Oswiecim, they must have been
Wondering…Where is Ha Shem? Where
Are his mighty acts? As thorns cut
Up, we burn in the chambers of fire.

Bruce Black

Bruce Black is editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. His poetry and personal essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Soul-Lit, The BeZine, Bearings, Poetry Super Highway, Poetica, Lehrhaus, Atherton Review, Elephant Journal, Tiferet, Hevria, Jewthink, The Jewish Literary Journal, Mindbodygreen, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. He lives in Sarasota, FL. Visit Bruce on the web here.

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

When I was a boy

When I was a boy
I was afraid to tell
anyone I was a Jew

afraid they’d see
me walking into
the synagogue
for Hebrew school

afraid they’d see
through the window
the Shabbat candles
that Mom lit on Friday
night in our dining room

afraid they’d see
the mezuzot nailed
to the doorposts of
our front and back doors

the mezuzah that
Aunt Sylvia kissed
with her fingertips
each time she entered
or left the house

afraid they’d hear me
reading Hebrew letters
from my siddur

afraid they’d take
me into a dark alley,
even though there
were no dark alleys
in the suburban
streets where I grew up,
and beat me for
being a Jew

afraid they’d force
me at gunpoint
with the rest of my
family to walk
through the streets
of northern New Jersey
to the train depot
and ship us in
cattle cars to the camps
even though the only
place the trains went
was Hoboken and then
into lower Manhattan.

No longer am I a child
but an adult and yet,
and yet I am still afraid
to tell anyone
I am a Jew,

still afraid
of nightmares,
of the tragedies
that have befallen
my people
for being Jews.

Carol Dorf

Carol Dorf is a Zoeglossia fellow, whose poetry has been published in three chapbooks. Her poetry has also appeared in “About Place,” “Cutthroat” “Wordpeace,” “Unlikely Stories,” “Slipstream,” “The Mom Egg,” “Sin Fronteras,” “The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics,” “Scientific American,” and “Maintenant.” She is founding poetry editor of Talking Writing, and lives and teaches in Berkeley, CA.

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

Peligrosa

Only at night could my Golem rise from the old futon and leave the basement. Once my Golem paused by the river – No AccessPeligrosa. A guard dog paced behind the gate. 

I should have prepared more notes for the Golem, said the Sofer.

The Golem can’t decide on pronouns. For a while I pretended to understand, offered more clay and slip to allow for adjustments.

Dreams interrupted by bombs and prisoners. It is no wonder the Golem paced through the night crashing into the old statues, warriors that fill the plaza.

On the fourth night a prisoner invented an ally much like the Golem with an additional ammunition belt.  Constellations would have filled the sky but floodlights erased all but the crescent moon.

Sometimes my Golem would ask for paper and pencil. The words they wrote were incomprehensible – stick figures in the margin walked through what could have been a moon.

Once my Golem tried to eat, tearing plums off the tree and swallowing them whole. No one commented on the distended belly. Upon encountering the Golem or the prisoner, the witnesses’ eyes couldn’t blink quickly enough.

After the war, before the Golem lost the word beneath its tongue, the prisoner asked, Tell me the truth – did you know what was happening there? On that night the moon was full, showing not just the outlines of trees but the patterns of their leaves.

Carolyne Wright

Carolyne Wright’s latest books are Masquerade, a memoir in poetry (Lost Horse Press, 2021) and This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems (Lost Horse, 2017), whose title poem received a Pushcart Prize and appeared in The Best American Poetry. A Seattle native who has lived and taught all over the country, and on fellowships in Chile, Brazil, India and Bangladesh, she has 16 earlier books and anthologies of poetry, essays, and translation. A Contributing Editor for the Pushcart Prizes, Carolyne has received NEA and 4Culture grants, and a 2022-2023 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to Brazil. She lives in Seattle. Visit Carolyne on the web here.

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

After Forty Years

“Don’t tell me about the bones of Mengele,
the bones are alive and well.”
–Michael Dennis Browne

They’ve found the body
of the Angel of Death,
a bundle of brown bones
and scraps of skin
tossed like market produce
in the gravedigger’s tray.

He can be himself now
for his loved ones–those
who took no chances
with the forged passports, bribes,
code words filing past the censors,
never breaking the family silence.

Himself now, for those
whose mouths gaped on silence,
survivors staring through barbed wire
in the abandoned camps,
stumbling chance their messenger,
those for whom the bones
will always be alive and well.

Finally, the tribunal of Embú,
plain light of the TV anchor’s day.
Cameras cross-haired on the throats
of witnesses who shrugged
and said nothing, while for years
ash drift, fosses of lime,
the dead kept listening.

He was never sorry.
Death had grown old by the end,
familiar with his dreams:
water burning blue
off the coast of Brazil
like gas jets turned on full.

Strange how the bones are blameless,
the body dissolved as anyone’s–
those who walked into the flames
with the prayer for the dead in their mouths,
the angel in his name
passing over the gates of the camps.

Carrie Magness Radna

Carrie Magness Radna is a librarian, an Associate Editor of Brownstone Poets, a singer and a poet who loves traveling (when it’s safe). Her poems have previously appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Poetry Super Highway, et al. She is the Third Prize Winner of 91st Annual Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition (Rhyming Poetry) with her poem “Pink (A Ghazal)” (2022) and was recently nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize. Her latest poetry collection, Shooting myself in the dark, was recently published by Cajun Mutt Press in January 2023. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she lives in New York City.  https://carriemagnessradna.com

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

Baking

(inspired from themes presented in The Innocents / by Francesca Segal)


I.

My Nana stole some cupcakes
that no one had wanted
from the refreshments table,
during my school’s Christmas pageant,
when I sang a solo (I was twelve).

The lady who headed
the refreshments table
didn’t turn her in,
but did say under her breath:
“Those damned Jews,
they always steal baked stuff.”

I was embarrassed of my Nana,
but my parents sat me down,
& explained about the Holocaust.


II.

Nana only baked on Yom Kippur.
She would bake cookies, cakes 
& mini-tarts all day;

she never cooked for the rest
of the year. She ate only delivered 
food, & had her lunches 
5 times-a-week at the
Hebrew Senior Center,

where she ate with other 
Holocaust survivors,
talking about their dogs
& families, never about 
what they went through
in their twenties.

In our twenties,
my fiancé once 
made a harsh comment 
about her baking on Yom Kippur,
how it was not allowed
& we should all fast.

Nana 
closed her eyes,
smiled, 
& shook her head,
& said:
“I have fasted enough 
in my lifetime.”

Christine Griffin

Christine lives in Gloucestershire UK. She writes poetry and short stories and is widely published both in the UK and abroad. She is active in the poetry scene in her area and has performed at both the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and the Cheltenham Literature Festival. A recent visit to Poland prompted the poems about Warsaw and the Holocaust.

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

Warsaw Stars

A glowing window lit by a star
draws us from cobbled streets
alive with Christmas cheer.

Warmed by hot wine
we smile at the scene –
the star from the east,
shepherds and kings, solid beasts,
the baby, soft-cocooned.

A cold fog begins to creep from the shadows.
Revellers fall silent as a ghostly violin
begins a mournful elegy.
Faint prayers for the dead
whisper through the lanes.

The window glass reflects
a weeping mother clinging to her child,
a man clutching a basket of stars.
An endless cortege stumbles past
hounded by jeers and whip-sharp taunts.

In the lamplight the alleys weep
at the sound of cattle trucks and stench of smoke
drifting from nearby forests.

Above the domed and steepled town
The silent stars go by.

Colin Ian Jeffery

Colin Ian Jeffery is an English poet, novelist and humourist. He was seven, a choirboy, when he became entranced by poetry after hearing the twenty-third psalm read in church. The beauty of the words struck his soul like lightning and his Muse began to sing. He then found poetry read on the BBC radio Home Service and listened in awe and delight to such poets as Dylan Thomas, John  Betjeman, and Ted Hughes.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, and owned by Colin Ian 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 neighbours 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.

Daphne Milne

Daphne Milne writes poems, flash fiction and short stories which are published in print and online in magazines and anthologies internationally. After five years in Fremantle, Western Australia she has returned to the UK where she lives just outside Exeter. She has read regularly at Perth International Poetry Festival. A Katharine Susannah Pritchard fellow for 2021 she regularly presents workshops for both poetry and prose in Australia and the UK. Nominated for the Forward Prize for 2022. Her pamphlet The Blue Boob Club was published in 2019. Two new pamphlets are due out in May and December 2023.

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

Prayer

We are made of clay
pinched pounded coiled
fired like pots
empty vessels
spilled or spilling life
to clay we will return

Cacophony of lost
souls singing psalms
vanish through
grayness into darkness
wailing
gnashing of teeth

Lighten — O — lighten
out darkness

Darcy Grabenstein

Darcy’s roots are in the South and now calls New Jersey her home. A marketing writer by profession, she turns to poetry as a creative outlet. Her poetry has been published on Ritualwell.com and in a Ukraine anthology by Moonstone Arts Center. She participated in the Poets and Scholars Writing Retreat 2022, sponsored by Rutgers’ Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice. Her articles have appeared in Momentmag.com, The Times of Israel and The Jewish Community Voice. She also has had two short stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Visit Darcy on the web here.

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

The Cactus

Weeds overrun my garden
their mangy masses multiplying

uncontrollably,
but they don’t fool me
their green exteriors mocking me,
stalks standing straight
at attention
like soldiers sending
a silent
Hitler salute

Among the weeds
I find, to my surprise,
a sprawling cactus
its yellow blooms
a badge of beauty
among its prickly
spines that protect it
from animals
intent on
its destruction

But its spines
are more
than a deterrent
in the desert
they create shade
where there is none
they prevent the loss
of water
in the harshest
of conditions

What an anomaly
this cactus
appearing
out of nowhere
out of place
in New Jersey yet
surviving winters
where it manages
to make itself
right at home

Determined
to eradicate
the wild, wanton weeds
I proceed warily
taking precautions
for protection
armed with
garden gloves
floppy hat, sunscreen
grit

A cactus has roots
that reach deep
into the ground
to absorb water
and I wrestle with
the weeds’ roots
as I struggle
to exhume them
a blight upon
my garden

As I work
my mind wanders
to my own roots
to those uprooted
from their homes
their loved ones
to the roots of evil today
and I tug with might
at the intruders
in my garden

Dave Ludford

Dave Ludford is a writer hailing from Nuneaton, England. His work has appeared at Poetry Super Highway, Leaves Of Ink, Schlock! Webzine, 365 Tomorrows & Sirens Call amongst others.

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

The Station Platform

Stepping on to the station platform the first thing he hears is
The sibilant hiss of a train’s whistle, muffled through billowing, swirling steam.
Then harshly barked orders, staccato short words in a language he doesn’t understand.
Babies and small children begin to cry,
Men and women shout out in confusion, then
Screams for mercy as someone is seemingly beaten;
The hard thump of metal on soft flesh: a rifle butt?
He cannot be sure, but sees the slow, snaking trickle
Of blood through dust.
More barked orders, louder now, more insistent and urgent.
Further cries of confusion then the scrambling of feet in many directions.
The rolling and slamming of cattle truck doors, a dozen at least.
Voices muted now. Occasional screams, fading.
The grinding, whining screech of metal on metal as the train pulls slowly away.
Then, silence.
He reaches the platform’s end; can hear now only the happy melodies of birdsong,
The tuneless whistling of a porter pushing a trolley.
He smiles broadly.
All is right with the world once more.
He curses his overactive imagination.
Then, turning, sees the stacked pile of suitcases.

David Eberhardt

David Eberhardt, 81, lives in Baltimore, Md. He has written three chapbooks and a peace movement memoir: For All the Saints, a Protest Primer. He received a full and unconditional pardon after having served 21 months in federal prison for an anti-war protest. He considers himself a Goth/Elizabethan and outlaw poet.

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

In Mem: Annaliese Frank

(thanks to the National Geographic Special on Ann Frank and the Holocaust)

The archaeology of genocide
Proceeds at Sobibor…

Slow sifting digging down shows that
Human teeth deteriorate less rapidly…

The person in hijab escorted out
From a trump rally along with a seat mate with a yellow star.

The Dutch police, the Ferguson police,
Are present – Bergen Belsen, Westerbork.

Anneliese on the last train to the east
Where none return-she dies, next, the war ends.

Please connect these dots
To the right wing of today, please?

Human teeth deteriorate less rapidly,
Townspeople claim they did not see.

David Horner

Poet, fantasy writer, one-time academic, David lives in France in a village squeezed between the forest and the Seine.

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

The Trains Came

The trains came,
Loaded trucks:
Vichy’s bond,
Its lame excuse
For freedom

The girl watched:
Unblinking eyes,
Fleshless hands;
Scorched horror
Wrapped in rags

The trains came,
Unloaded death.
Rattling crates,
Inhuman fate,
Final solution

The man watched,
His loaded gun
A coward’s prop,
His sins corrupting
Beyond the wire

Debbie Walker-Lass

Debbie Walker-Lass is a poet, collage artist, and writer living in Decatur, Georgia. Her work has appeared in several journals and magazines, including The Ekphrastic Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Haikuniverse, The Light Ekphrastic and Natural Awakenings, Atlanta, among others. When not creating, she can be found beachcombing on Tybee Island or hanging out with her husband, Burt, and dog, Maddie.

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

The ABCs of a Forgotten Heroine

A fourteen year old girl from the Netherlands, Freddie Oversteegen lived on a
Barge with her mother, Trijn, and sister, Truu, while German officers surveyed the town
Camping close to the Jews, her mother hid in the boat stern, she was radicalized
Divorced, with mouths to feed, Trijn nevertheless schooled her young daughters,
Educating them in the art of resistance, their quick minds were made battle-ready
Fumes emanated from the barge as Trijn burned opposition pamphlets to charred ash-
German soldiers had occupied the town, she moved her daughters closer to
Haarlem, a small town with a big Nazi presence. Trijn remained committed to the cause:
Innocence and youth were on Truu and Freddie’s side, braided hair and bicycles
Juxtaposed their task: to assassinate German SS agents, recruited by the resistance as
Killers, to take out Nazis, one by one. It was a simple plan: Freddie rode by on her bike-
Luring an officer into the woods with a shy smile and the bait of youth and beauty, their
Method, a lethal hit straight to the heart, Truu firing safely from behind a sheltering tree-
Nazi’s were men, after all, and the promise of a rendezvous with pretty Freddie
Often led to death for an unsuspecting would-be Romeo, gone before a
Plea could escape his mouth, body fallen and twisted, eyes wide with an unanswered
Question. The sisters were joined by Hannie Shaft, the notorious “Redheaded girl,”
Regarding death as a grim necessity, the three “zusters” didn’t tally up the kills.
Shooting quickly was the only mercy they ever lent, many successful encounters
Tempered by the deaths of four Jewish children, ambushed during a flight to freedom
United, they kept each other sane until Hannie, with her hair dyed black, was caught,
Vastly unawares, at a checkpoint- a soldier, noticing her red roots flattened her just as the
War was winding down, she died just eighteen days before the liberation of Haarlem
Xenophobia halted, for a time, the Oversteegen girls had families of their own,
Yet the war raged on in Freddie’s head, her peace was not easily grasped, the
Zenith of her life was aged sixteen, although she lived until ninety had passed.

Diana Raab

Diana Raab is a poet, memoirist, blogger, speaker, and award-winning author of thirteen books of poetry and nonfiction. Her writings have been published and anthologized world-wide. She blogs for Psychology Today, The Wisdom Daily and Thrive Global and is a guest blogger for many others.  She frequently speaks on writing for healing and transformation based on her book is Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Program for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life. Her latest poetry collection is An Imaginary Affair: Poems  Whispered to Neruda. Visit her at: dianaraab.com.

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

My Father’s Obsessions

Cream cheese on pumpernickel,
diner breakfasts,
one-hour coughing spells,
half smoked cigarettes
snoring on his back,
disgust for vegetables, except tomatoes,
vanilla pudding with its film,
creamy potato salad,
chopped liver loaded with onions,
runny cherry pie,
finely mashed potatoes, no chunks,
filet of sole swimming in butter,
shredded borscht soup,
two scoops of vanilla ice cream,
the evening news in bed,
climbing into the driver’s seat,
hot bagels on Sunday morning,
cheese pastries,
ice hockey afternoons,
weekly lottery tickets
which he swore would change his life forever,
then he died and nothing mattered anymore,
except my memories of him
carved into my cancerous landscape—
sister wounds to his Holocaust experience,
painted upon our genetics
and his mother’s cooking,
recipes passed down
and how each time I eat fish filets
his face flashes before me,
and the smell of bagel stores
shares sprinkles memories of my youth,
now fifty years later as I serve
my own family cherry pie
coated with vanilla ice cream—
once again reminds
me of the first man I ever loved
and will never forget—my father.

Diana Rosen

DIANA ROSEN is the author of “High Stakes & Expectations” from thetinypublisher.com, a compilation of micro flash and poetry and the recipient of two Pushcart nominations and one for the Best of the Net. She lives in Los Angeles where she writes essays, flash, and poetry. To read more of her work, please visit her portfolio site, authory.com/dianarosen

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

Holocaust Haiku

Never again is
a whisper now, overwhelmed
by festering hate.

Fight back, you say, you
of shattering grief, nightmares,
who know freedom’s joy.

Vote, they say, Not with
wallets, for Israel but for
justice, for all. All.

Doris Fiszer

Doris Fiszer is an award-winning Canadian poet. Her debut collection Locked in Different Alphabets (Silver Bow Publishing) was nominated for the 2021 Archibald Lampman Award. She has published two chapbooks, The Binders and Sasanka (Wild Flower). Awards include the 2017 John Newlove Award and Tree Press’s 2016 Chapbook Award for The Binders, also a nominee for the bpNichol Award. Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies across Canada and the United States. She is a contributing editor for Arc Poetry Magazine and a member of Ruby Tuesday’s poetry writing group in Ottawa, Ontario.

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

Isn’t Hatred the Most Devastating of Earth’s Upheavals?

My parents’ war imprinted
in my genes—
a shattered plate
a thunder clap
a stranger’s knock
Their childhoods weighty with the stench of sorrow.

Don’t all mothers birth with courage
and silent prayers of hope,
with tender hands warm newborns’ feet
bathe infants in the same river
under the same sky?

The opposite of war—
stripping off the shutters that blind us.

And the fragrance of the garden
in early summer
before the fighting begins
before the bricks start falling.

Duane L Herrmann

Internationally published, award-winning poet and historian, Herrmann has work translated into several languages, published in a dozen countries, in print and online. He has seven full-length collections of poetry, a sci fi novel, 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, a form of mutism 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 © 2023, and owned by Duane L Herrmann and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

From the Grave

Miklós Radnóti: 1909-1944*

Too weak to walk
at the roadside shot –
twenty-two men
expendable.
Needing medical care
but there was none
on the hillside road
far from everywhere.
At gun-point
the rest marched on,
their only crime
was birth.
From that mass grave
Radnóti’s voice,
poems in his pocket
found by his wife,
proclaim sanity and culture
in a world gone mad.

*( raised in an assimilated Jewish family who personally converted as a young man, but that did not matter to the Nazis. He was drafted and assigned to a “Jewish” labor unit.)

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 30 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. Published in over 200 anthologies, literary journals, and broadsheets in USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Japan, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Austria, France, Bangladesh, India, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, and Nigeria. He also writes under his penname Eadbhard McGowan. Visit Eduard on the web here.

The following work is Copyright © 2023, 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 dark butterflies of filament
do not fly away.
They stay.
Eternally, forever.
Water drops and tears
hanging from the thread.
The poles vibrate in the wind,
memorials for the dead.

The ear pressed to the wall.
Do you see the shadows
in an empty hall?
Was it a sigh? A cry far away?
Where are they gone?
Above you, shuffling,
beneath you, marching,
never a response,
silence is deafening.

Love was not present,
no empathy,
hatred everywhere
grief vanished, replaced by woe.
All pleading in vain.

Did they suspect it?
Have they been warned?
Were not dark birds on the branches?
Was there no sign on the wall?

Ellen Sander

Ellen Sander, daughter of European immigrants,  writes from Belfast, Maine, on the midcoast. A native New Yorker, she’s lived in Bolinas and Venice Beach, CA and in Xiamen and Beijing, PRC, where she was an editor, an English teacher and a TV commercial actress. Visit on the web here.

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

Mother Bones (Ghazal for 27 January 1945)

Deep in limbs’ hardened cores drum bones
on metal stairs, the holocaust of rumble bones.

In ashes even, chips of bones, refuse to crumble into dust
labor, groan, unbend, motion stumble bones.

Holding quiet day of pain, handprints pressing into sand,
bare footprint in the dust recall ecru crumbs of bones.

Widows weep at crypts and stones above the children’s’ graves,
the lost and hungry unmarked graves lay on humble bones.

I, in aches and hesitation, climb stairs slow, grip
bannisters of houses made of brick and lumber bones.

Emilio Puerta


Emilio D. Puerta has been writing for over a decade, and still striving for a name in the backlots as he vents his eclectic voice to whomsoever would listen. His determination through it all can be found in the words he writes and the soul he conveys. Toronto-born with Colombian roots, Emilio is as multifaceted in his personality as he is in his writing, but you’ll never know his story if you never read him through.

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

Where Lilacs Grow

Beyond the furthest mountain peak,
Where rivers gently flow;
Where balmy breezes stir the air,
And hallowed bliss is ev’rywhere–
There lies the place the heartsick seek
To end their woe.
The splendour drives away despair,
And makes assertive of the meek.
More teachings than through sages flow
In the land where lilacs grow.

No winters e’er release their chill,
No clouds e’er cross the sky.
No perils lurk to stain with dread
The land to which the dying head
In want to have one final thrill
Before they die.
Beneath the lilacs lie the dead–
A promise that, should times grow ill,
In death we’ll meet, in death we’ll go
To the land where lilacs grow.

Fokkina McDonnell

Fokkina McDonnell now lives near The Hague, the Netherlands. Her poems have been widely published and anthologised. She has three poetry collections (Another life, Oversteps Books Ltd, 2016; Nothing serious, nothing dangerous, Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd, 2019; Remembering/ Disease, Broken Sleep Books) and a pamphlet (A Stolen Hour, Grey Hen Press, 2020). Fokkina received a Northern Writers’ Award from New Writing North in 2020. Fokkina has a special interest in haiku and tanka, and contributes reviews to Presence magazine. She blogs weekly on www.acaciapublications.co.uk where she features a guest poet each month.

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

Gevers Deynootweg 116, Scheveningen, the Netherlands

The first were placed illegally
in Berlin and Köln
by
Gunter Demnig
Berlin 27 October 1947
Artist

A person is only forgotten

This is my regular route to the tram stop
at the Kurhaus Hotel

often at a slow trot
today I crawl (done my back in)
grateful the chiropractor will see me

10 by 10 cm
stone with brass plaque

when their name has been forgotten

I almost stumble over the Stolpersteine

Lina Hartog-Konski
Berlin 6 March 1920
28 May 1943 (23)

Emanuel Hartog
Rotterdam 6 August 1918
Sobibor 28 May 1943 (24)
Instrument maker

We’re minutes away from the beach the boulevard salty tang of the North Sea


Note: Over 90,000 Stolpersteine have now been placed in 26 European countries.

Gerald George

Gerald George has published three books of poetry: Figments, Imitations of Indonesia, and A Penitential Prayer. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Spillway, the Spoon River Poetry Review, and Visions international, and in anthologies such as the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, Take Heart: Poems from Maine, and A Rump-Sprung Chair and a One-Eyed Cat. He has served on the editorial board of the literary journal Off the Coast, and he formerly coordinated the annual Roque Bluffs Poetry Festival. He lives in Belfast, Maine.

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

In Place of Explanation

There, far off to the right, the trains came in.
There, the platform where the slats came off the doors
of the cattle cars, stampedes began.
People stumbled out through a jumble of dead.
Uniformed guards whipped along the living,
assembled them over the way at the sorting place,
chose those who could work, then pushed the rest like beasts,
shot the stragglers. There where the trees are now
—you can scarcely see—down into a kind of funnel,
leading through two doors to the gas chambers.
Farther along that way gaped the waiting ovens.
After an interval of time, slave laborers
threw in the bodies that had just been gassed
until black smoke terrified the sky.
Well, you get the idea, that’s the gist.

Every place he pointed there now appears
nothing but green peace, gentle vegetation,
swaying in the straying winds of the amiable afternoon.
Leafy trees, bright bushes, lush grass, soft ground,
bereft of buildings, ovens, gas traps, stations, trains,
guns, clubs, and so many screaming people.
Why try to bring it up again?

Because it was.

Otherwise we might give in
to the power to paint bright pigments over horror
or look away as nature conspires to hide.
Even the reach for reasons leads
into the pit of unreason in which
millions of voices beg for a way to explain
their deaths.
In place of explanation I offer
this penitential prayer for the living,
this lamentation for the dead.

 

Previously published in Gerald George, A Penitential Prayer: Poems on the Holocaust (Goose River Press, 2022).

Germain Droogenbroodt

Germain Droogenbroodt, Belgian poet living in Altea, Spain, received many international awards and is yearly invited at the most prestigious international poetry festivals, recommended in 2017 for the Nobel Prize of Literature. He wrote 16 poetry books, published in 31 countries. Visit on the web here.

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

Todesfuge

Death, we drink you,
we drink you with our eyes,
we drink you with our ears
we drink you day by day

Deaths
no time is left to say good bye,
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),
poem by Paul Celan about the Jews being cremated by the Nazis

Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev has lived in Israel for 50 years, now in Metulla, has had over 100 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 34 of which were one-woman shows. Eight poetry collections, all illustrated by Helen. She is the Amy Kitchener senior poet laureate and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013. Helen is the recipient of the Homer European Medal for Poetry and Art. She is the winner of the Colori dell’Anima” Award 10th Edition for her poetic collection (Sanremo, Italy). She also has been: Assistant President of Voices Israel, Chief Editor of Voices Annual Anthology, and Overseas Connections Coordinator.

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

eighty years have passed

the blood has dried
holocaust denied
attacks still terrorize
antisemitism revived
why?

we shall survive

Howie Comen

73-year-old  South Carolina Private Eye. Writer: Muslim Journal, Hasidic Magazine Concord, “Angels on the Bridge” book. Howard has conducted investigations reported on by Geraldo Rivera, Bill O’Reilly, The New York Times, London Sunday Mail, Toronto Globe, the Washington Post, Newsday, Pittsburgh Tribune, Miami Herald, Buffalo News, and other media outlets. He investigated  Vince Foster’s Suicide with NY Post reporter Ruddy ( NewsMax). Comen and Professors Broccoli and Kruse solved the mystery of the Great Gatsby.  Director of The Global Partnership for the Advancement of Racial and Social Harmony trying to bring equity in Mental Health and Education across the country. Visit on the web here.

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

History Repeats

My family came from Ukraine
Escaping Russia’s disdain
I saw your Highway Post
And saw my family’s Ghost

Escaping hatred and death
Lucky to immigrate west
as the melting pot grew
America came into view

But as in selfish Cain
Selfish jealousy raged
But in the land of the free
It came with a fee unpaid

We, Jews, were Egyptian slaves
Later expelled by Spain
 We became wondering Jews
Suffering hate and abuse

The Nazis blamed the war
Making scapegoats of us all
And oiled their war machine
With our blood and the obscene

After the Nazis were dead
Hatred still was fed
as countless genocides
and Powerplays decide

So we beat on boats against the current
fighting against the turret
of hate, power, or caste
borne back ceaselessly into the past

Howie Good

Howie Good’s newest poetry collection, Heart-Shape Hole, which also includes examples of his handmade collages, is available from Laughing Ronin Press.

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

Death to the Toad King

The Talmud asks, “Can you get a rash from acting rashly?” An intelligent response requires having a knotty, twisty brain. In the pages of this month’s Haddasah Magazine, Auschwitz survivors share treasured recipes – kitchen smells grisly mingling with human smoke. I have a memory from Jewish sleepaway camp, how in the grass behind our bunk, with the hectoring buzz of insects loud in our ears, we caught frogs and toads and condemned them to death. No interfering adults ever went back there, just us, a bunch of 11-year-old boys simmering in the summer heat, Cub Scout pocket knives clutched in our sweaty hands.

I.B. Rad

I.B. Rad, formerly of New York City, now lives and writes in Dallas Texas. Much of his recent work is available on the internet. He uses a variety of styles depending on subject matter and desired effect. Coming from a civic background, he particularly values clarity of expression.

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

Flight

In Amen’s black and white woodcut,
“Flight,”
a wide eyed, open mouthed couple
cling to one another,
she glancing backward,
he peering ahead.
Rendered in early 20th century
expressionist mode,
wavy, acutely angled lines
form a backdrop
suggesting conflagration
yet also seeming to thrust the pair forward.
Underneath the duo
curved lines impel a downward trajectory
while. on the couple’s right,
horizontal lines
complete their set’s framing.
Bearded, he’s donned a wide brimmed black hat,
trousers, and dark overcoat;
whereas, clothed in long skirt and coat,
a kerchief covers her hair;
in short, it appears likely
they’re from a shtetl,
and, as bare feet testify,
expeditiously skipped town
to dodge a pogrom,
their retribution for being Jews.
Perhaps, it might aid some readers understanding
to mention
to the couples right,
having just been struck by lightening,
a bush burns bright
and that this woodcut
was completed in 1948,
the year Israel’s statehood was declared,
taken together
implying “Flight’s” meant to convey:

Persecuted Jews
shepherded by Yahweh
from outmoded Europe,
with it’s merciless pogroms
cresting in an industrial-scale “Holocaust,”
to that sacred sanctuary,
the “promised land.”


*Irving Amen (1918 – 2011) is an American artist who worked with a variety of printing
techniques and styles as well as with painting, sculpting, and stained glasswork. His art is widely collected and is owned by major museums. “Flight” (which you can see here.) was first printed in 1948 and later reissued in 1975. It can be found on the internet by googling “Irving Amen” and “Flight.” “Flight” was first published by the Canadian e-zine, “Fleas on the Dog.”

J. Barrett Wolf

J. Barrett Wolf was published in Black Bear Review, Portland Review of the Arts, Long Island Sounds, Rubber Side Down, PPA Literary Review, Writing Outside the Lines, Passing, and was featured on the Connecticut Touring Poetry Roster. His first volume, “Stark Raving Calm,” was published by Boone’s Dock Press. He lives in Binghamton, NY, where he is the Poet in Residence at the Bundy Museum of History and Art and Director of WordPlace – The Southern Tier Literary Center. He holds the Bronze Medal of Valor from the San Francisco Police Department and five regional team championship trophies for pool. Visit J. Barrett Wolf on Facebook here.

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

The Name Should Only Be Spoken At Night

For Auschwitz survivor Yehudit Braun

I will speak to no one
of the cold stethoscope,
the mallet’s tap, tap, tap,
the hypodermic needle
full of… questions.

Can blue dye cure brown eyes?
What if we cut here?
Burn the skin.
Abrade, evulse.
His voice like a bone saw:
It doesn’t matter,
she only has two weeks to live.

Oh, but I did live,
and will speak to no one.
Silence is my husband,
my protector.
No words will ever
make me that afraid again.
Not even my own.

Jan Chronister

Jan Chronister is a retired English teacher now tending to her own poems as well as twenty-plus flower gardens. She has authored two full-length poetry collections and seven chapbooks, one (Casualties) devoted to poems about the Holocaust. She lives in Maple, Wisconsin.

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

Diamonds are Forever

When the Nazis came
Mama sewed three diamonds
into Sara’s coat.

When she stripped at Birkenau,
Sara put them in her mouth.
When she saw SS guards searching cavities,
she swallowed them.

Sara shat the diamonds,
washed them in a muddy puddle
and swallowed them again
and again.

When they shaved Sara’s head
her hair was sent to stuff pillows of Germans
serving on submarines.

Now she strokes her grandchild’s hair
long and black and thick,
wears the stones on her finger
where she can feel them burn.


(first appeared in Casualties)

Jen Schneider

Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces in and around Philadelphia. She is the 2022 Montgomery County (PA) Poet Laureate. Her most recent collection, 14 (Plus) Reasons Why (Free Lines Press) is now available.

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

Hidden in Documentation

/ I Wonder

Hidden inside
the Auschwitz concentration camp
perimeter, scars proliferate
and punctuate the air

Ghosts in all corners
Hope stomped in soil
Gas continues to seep

Amidst tangled ropes
and tired tropes

Remembrance
waltzes and wonders

I wonder

Do guards
understand the fear
of (f)light

Does hate
contemplate the divine

Do nightmares
crave sleep

Do scars
continue to weep

Do black crows
understand denial

Do fallen frames
seek flames

Does rubble
understand trouble

Does fear
ever outrun time

Do uniforms
ever question
order

Is there
a question more
important than why

Is there
a mission more critical
than documentation

Joan Leotta

Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales of food, family, strong women. Internationally published as an essayist, poet, short story writer, and novelist,  she’s a 2021 and  2022 Pushcart nominee, Best of the Net 2022 nominee, and  2022 runner-up in Robert Frost Competition. Her essays, poems, and fiction appear in Ekphrastic Review, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Active Muse, Silver Birch, Yellow Mama, Mystery Tribune, Ovunquesiamo, MacQueen’s Quinterly and others. Her chapbooks are Languid Lusciousness with Lemon and  Feathers on Stone.

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

Small Brass Plates

Brass markers on Rome’s sampietrini
mark the places where blood
flowed between each stone in the 1940s.
Jewish blood, partisan blood, dissenters.
When my foot touched the polished
surface, their pain echoed up
from my toes to my head.
My eyes spilled tears that
then mingle with the blood,
no rain, no tears can erase from history

Jonathan Aylett

Jonathan Aylett is a poet and spoken word artist based in Liverpool, England

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

kindertransport haiku

quietly blooming
along the railway siding
forget-me-nots

Joseph Caperna

Joseph Caperna is a a physician in San Diego, CA who has spent his career dedicated to HIV. To bring compassion and caring, and listening into his medical practice, he uses poetry with his patients and their families. He has traveled over 60 years to 6 continents. These experiences inspire prose and poetry that he is starting to submit for publication. Visit Joseph on the web here.

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

Remembrance Room

die Rosa-Winkel
death, castration or sex slave
The Great War ended–Paragraph 175 survived on
Walking my path
Entering the remembrance room
Walking in, I’m warmed,
and chilled by upright images
Photos black and white
Triangles and stars…
Upside down, I see
a rainbow of triangles,
Red black rose and
Pink triangles
light up,
Fuchsia bright
I hear stories, plays, books, poems—that unveil horrors left behind
My pre-birth one with theirs.
Remembrance
They came for the Jews so much, and prisoners of conscious, the work-dodgers, emigrants, and the homosexuals
I see today the signs
My people again, attacked, chills me—
Remembrance warms me. My voice speaks up. I stand with you.
Fill yourself, remembrance, a poem, a book,
One path with the past. My people, LGBT.
Silence is death.

Joy Lebof

I am 59 years of age, a born and bred Londoner. I am married with a son of 19 and a daughter of 15. We currently live in a village in West Yorkshire. A teaching assistant by training and of long experience, my poetry began as a vehicle to help the children with whom I work, to understand phonics. My favourite poet is John Betjeman and an expanding list of so many others that I’ve given up listing them. However, my poetic style is my own.

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

Baseless

Never again, so we say,
yet baseless hatred
blinds against truth,

the bloody dagger,
deceit’s executioner
and does not die easily.

Like a runaway train
it mowed down all in its path,
victims helpless

against the merciless violence
of iron cold impact,
the nightmares it spawned,

terror filled darkness,
that Hate’s mindless adherents
with word and action, created,

the bitter-almond odour,
the reek of cindered flesh,
lifeless, bone-thin bodies.

Malevolent tropes
fanned hatred’s flames,
fuelled depraved action.

International indifference
sealed the fate of millions,
their survival, no priority.

When finally defeated,
Nazi demise was brought
by Justice’s hand, death.

Without examination, education,
the change of hearts and minds
to abolish hate

those crimes of yesterday
will reoccur again, today.

Judith R. Robinson

Judith R. Robinson is an editor, teacher, fiction writer, poet and visual artist. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she is listed in the Directory of American Poets and Writers. She has published 100+ poems, five poetry collections, one fiction collection; one novel; edited or co-edited eleven poetry collections. Teacher: Osher at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Her newest poetry collection is Buy A Ticket, WordTech Editions, due April 1, 2022 Holocaust Exhibit was “The Numbers Keep Changing,” at The Pittsburgh Holocaust Center, April -June, 2019. Visit on the web here.

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

The Shock That Went Away

Once there was a shock
so fierce it forced shame
on all who owned it.

It was foul—a dark, filthy rag
they could not lose.

Because there are no words,
There can be no poems,

the people said.

So they hid the ugly shock
deep within busy, useful shadows

while Time,
that winged beast,
came flying in and out.

Time found the hidden shock
& pecked & pecked
until it broke down into
smaller & smaller shabby scraps

they could not be rid of by tossing
in the air or spreading around.

So the people grew old & sick
the shock piled up in books and papers
until shreds of it were buried with them.

And then, one after another,
bearing torches and ashes,
the deniers came.


Previously published in The Blue Heart, Finishing Line Press, 2013

Judith van Dijkhuizen

Judith lives in Cheltenham, UK. She heard stories about WWII from her mother, who was in the Dutch Resistance and took Jewish children to safe houses, rooted out collaborators, and carried secret documents in her shoes. Judith loves writing and reading poetry, and has published in magazines and anthologies.

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

First Time

In honour of the girls and women who risked their lives in the Dutch Resistance WWII

He sees my thick honey-blonde plaits,
the blue dress with the white lace collar.

He leans on the bar,
slaps another soldier as he laughs.

I touch his arm.
—It’s nicer in the woods.

The path is overgrown, silent.
The pines are taller than our house.

I whip out the gun, shoot.
My arm flies up, I stagger back.

I know the drill.
Gun. Papers. Run.

At home, I polish his gun,
feel how cold and smooth it is.

Judy England-McCarthy

Judy England-McCarthy is both an author and professional storyteller. Her creative intention is to entertain and transform people through her stories, poems, and workshops. Judy’s professional career as a storyteller commenced in 2009 and as an author in 2013. One of her poems was presented in video format for “The Just Listening Project” and another poem won 1st place at Fanstory.com. Her children’s book “Amazing Petunia’s Adventures” was made by her into an animation and selected for this year’s Atlanta Children’s Film Festival. Judy resides in Linden NJ. To find out more check out her website: Beginwithastory.

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

Those Who Survived

A Moment in History

Sitting in my 10th grade darkened school room
Reviewing World history
As a screen flashes images

Before me,

A bulldozer pushing piles
Of emaciated dead bodies
Into an Olympic pool sized pit.

Real footage,

How can we call ourselves human, with such inhumanity?
Almost a half century later
The images still clear

Of lives eradicated.

Judy Lorenzen

Judy Lorenzen is a poet, writer and an English teacher, who, after visiting Yad Vashem in the ’90s was never the same. Visit her on the web here.

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

After Reading Cotler’s 2017 “Elie Wiesel: Conscience of Humanity” Speech

Cold blooded murder and culture did not exclude each other. If the Holocaust proved anything, it is that a person could love poems and kill children, Elie Wiesel.

Under two German laws,
Nazis committed mass murder,
aided and abetted by the Nuremberg elites,
the educated–doctors, lawyers, judges,
educators, engineers, architects, lovers
of the intellect, science, law and literature—
and they would have called themselves good people.
Their laws, immoral—
the murderers—never planning
that history would record them as they were—
convinced themselves
they were obeying their good laws,
which were to kill children,
old men and women, the helpless.
The inhumane laws allowed
the loading of beautiful children
with the eyes of God,
filled with tears,
into cattle cars,
destined for the fiery flames
of the crematoriums.

Outside Yad Vashem,
the last cattle car sits high on display.
By it, the Hebrew poem
Psalm 137, “By the rivers of Bablyon
we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. . .,”
and how could they sing?
Around 2,600 years after that exile and poem,
we are still weeping and writing poems,
remembering again
what man can do to his brother,
what Japheth’s descendants
could do to Shem’s.

Karen Keefe

Karen Keefe (she, her) was one of the editors of The Parlor City Review. Her work is published Anima, Anti-Heroin Chic, Silver Birch Press, unstamatic, Poetry as Promised, and POETiCA Review. She lives in Vestal, NY. She can be found on Instagram @dragonkkg, and on Twitter @karen_keef.

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

In the Town of Dachau

the bricklayers are busy.
The craftsmen among them
are angry.
The materials sent them
are of low quality
and they are given little time
to complete the job.
“Don’t worry,” the mayor tells them
when they complain,
“You aren’t building a church
you know.”

No it is not a church they build.

The factory owner’s maids
polish the silver and
iron the linen
for the parties
that announce the arrival
of new officials, benefactors of the people.

The question:
What is it they do all day
behind those walls?

The time of year
is Spring.
With every breath taken
new life delivered by the earth
is known as a presence.

This year is different.
Another presence is in the air.
A new odor hangs like a cloud
over the town and covers it
like a blanket
during the night.

When all the men
return home from their day’s work
old women notice it most.
Their noses wrinkle
it sticks in their throat
tickles their ribs.
They cough until
they cry.

Who asks questions anymore?

On Saturday afternoons
the guards of the camp
party and flirt
in the taverns.
The boys of the town
guard the walls their fathers built.
Their younger brothers and sisters follow them.
One would think
they’d gone to the zoo
the way they stand at the fences, laugh
and point.

What was the question?

It is never the brave who resist,
because they think they can conquer.
It is never the powerful
because they think they will be listened to.
It is never the rich
because they have the money
to buy their freedom and life.
It is only the poor
the afraid
the weak
the living dead
because they know they have nothing to lose.

There is no question?

Behind the brick walls
children not allowed a soul
dream of what happened to Jericho. But who
will blow the trumpets
and march for seven days around these walls?

Karen Poppy

A non-binary poet, Karen Poppy’s debut full-length poetry collection, Diving at the Lip of the Water, is forthcoming in May 2023 with Beltway Editions. Her chapbooks Crack Open / Emergency (2020) and Our Own Beautiful Brutality (2021) are both published by Finishing Line Press. Her chapbook, Every Possible Thing, is published by Homestead Lighthouse Press (2020). An attorney licensed in California and Texas, Karen Poppy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit Karen on the web here.

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

Walt Whitman Celebrates Himself

for my late grandmother, Myrna Sisson Kopp

(Portions in italics quote Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.)

On my grandmother’s door,
Walt Whitman knocks like Elijah.
On other doors, Gestapo
Kick their boot-soles.
No help from God.
Seasons pursue each other,
Allies and Axis Powers at war.

When she debuted the year before,
Fabric and sugar scarce, she longed
To be older, wiser, more knowing:
A Walt Whitman, meandering
Through that great consciousness.
Poet of body and soul.
Large, yet modest in her existence.
A song to herself,
Silver brush and vanity mirror, hair
Brushed to a shine, like satin.

Bombs dropped like limitless leaves in the fields.
Wars come and go, so who’s there?
Me myself, singing of equalities—
Clear and sweet—
Not yet of death,
That great equalizer.
My grandmother examines
Her Jewish nose
In the mirror.

Walt Whitman’s poem starts
With his name, titled all in caps.
He smokes and belches his words,
But we love him. He is a man.
Red-blooded American—no matter
That he’s gay. He’s shamed
By the mare. Babies just pop out—
Exclamations taken suddenly.
Soon, he’s everything and everywhere.

To look beyond your nose is dangerous.
The Holocaust is great, larger than us.

Bodies drop like mossy scabs
Of the worm fence, heaped stones,
Elder mullein and poke-weed.
A child said, “What is the grass?”
Fetching it to me with full hands.
A child said, “The last, the very last…
That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don’t live here in the ghetto.”
How could I answer the child?
I do not know any more than he.
How could I?
How could she?
My grandmother was 17.

Walt Whitman,
We can beat and pound for the dead,
But their lives are lost, an ocean
Dried by great fire.
We do not contain enough multitudes
To contradict their deaths.
We do not contain enough music or poetry
To honor them justly.
Then death stops somewhere, like it did
For my grandmother,
Waiting for you.
Waiting for me.

In my grandmother’s copy
Of Leaves of Grass, inscribed
On January 1, 1945
In careful cursive,
and with her girlhood name,
Myrna Skalovsky.


[Previously published in The American Journal of Poetry, and forthcoming in my poetry collection Diving At The Lip Of The Water (Beltway Editions, May 2023)

Karen Webber

Karen Webber is a performance/teaching and liturgical artist from Baltimore MD, who crafts music/theatre pieces for colleges classrooms, senior centers and the bimah. A two time grant recipient from the Maryland State Arts Council, she turned a short film about an 80 year old artist with dementia into a virtual program and will apprentice herself to a master teacher of Yiddish folk song. Karen Webber’s writing is found in RitualWell, Poetica, Abandon and The Torrid Literature Journal’s, Lilith Magazine (among others). She is especially proud to be included in Prophetic Voices: a new Haftarah commentary published by CCAR Press.

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

Round up.

You are wheeled
into a German
court room,
at 99, because when you
stand too long, your feet swell.
So you sit, accused.

Shirtsleeves conceal
a concave chest,
face hidden by
blue file folder,
only arthritic fingers
poke forth.

Just a taut body in
Nazi uniform
pacing the platform
each day
as it swelled
with families,
valises in hand,
then emptied.
You marched most straight
to the gas chamber.
Others you left in the cold to freeze.

Just a tan body,
shirtless on the chisel
plow in unforgiving sun
on the family farm.
How could you be two places at one time?


Rise, Achtung-
18 year old reluctant soldier,
A lone tear travels down your creased cheek,
yet, a lifetime later, you plead not guilty.

Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca

In a career spanning over four decades, Kavita Ezekiel Mendonca has taught English in Indian colleges, AP English in an International School in India, and French and Spanish in private schools in Canada. Her poems are featured in various journals and anthologies, including the Journal Of Indian Literature published by the Sahitya Akademi and the Yearbook of Indian Poetry in English. Kavita has authored two collections of poetry, ‘Family Sunday and Other Poems’ and ‘Light of The Sabbath.’ Her poem ‘How To Light Up a Poem,’ was nominated for a Pushcart prize in 2020. She lives in Calgary, Canada. Visit her on the web here.

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

A Home with Dignity

(A poem about belonging)

I want six million Jews back to their homes
To their hat shops, their loved ones, and their bright mornings,
To awake in their beds with soft sheets and warm slippers
To put their feet into, and cross the threshold to kitchens
Smelling warm with the baking of *Challah bread.

I want sisters to whisper to each other from bunk beds
Scurrying up and down the ladder to exchange places
Laughing without fear of being muffled,
Like we did many nights with sleeping parents who
Unaware of our sibling shenanigans, dreamed in peace.

I want six million Jews to watch the butterflies
Flitting across a kind sun that warmed their hearts
With promises of hope, of births, graduations, weddings
Dressed in satin gowns with silver stars, the yellow ones
Out of stock, discontinued, banned forever.

I want six million Jews to look out at the fields with cattle grazing
From train windows, with the fresh air blowing on their faces
Going on a family holiday to the beach with free minds
Surfing the waves, swimming with the dolphins,
Returning to their homes to wash off the sand from their happy feet.


* Challah is a special bread in Jewish cuisine, usually braided and typically eaten on ceremonial occasions such as Shabbat and major Jewish holidays. Ritually-acceptable challah is made of dough from which a small portion has been set aside as an offering. The word is Biblical in origin. (Source: Wikipedia)

Laurie Kuntz

Laurie Kuntz published poetry collections (The Moon Over My Mother’s House, Finishing Line Press and Somewhere in the Telling, Mellen Press), three chapbooks (Talking Me Off The Roof, Kelsay Books, Simple Gestures, Texas Review Press and Women at the Onsen, Blue Light Press). She has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and one Best of the Net. She won the Blue Light Chapbook prize and Texas Review Chapbook Prize. Currently residing in Florida, every day offers an opportunity for a much needed political poem. Otherwise,  happily retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind. Visit her at: https://lauriekuntz.myportfolio.com/home-1

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

Rescue

Miklos Radnoti, the Hungarian poet,
was shot in the head by German guards on a forced march
from Yugoslavia to Hungary during the last days of WWII.
In a mass grave, two years later, Radnoti’s body was discovered
and exhumed. His last poems, written on postcards,
were found in his coat pocket.

 


Radnoti, a twin, rescued at birth, lived in halves,
thinking of the mother and brother who didn’t survive,
and how from the wondrous womb,
he hurled into a world where fathers, too, leave,
a year before a boy becomes a man.

Left with whole lives gone,
Radnoti suffered the copper mines,
labor camps and death marches,
nothing spared, but his words–

Poems written to his wife,
on bits of paper, backs of postcards,
cured from ground to seed against time
and the hands of men raking lands irreverent–


All unearthed, as Radnoti wrote,
“Patience flowers into death now.”

Delphiniums grow from the dirt,
the discarded mass, the rancid heap
where Radnoti’s body rotted,
bone on pebble, ink on gravel,
all that is rescued from soil to flower.

Linda M. Crate

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. She is the author of twelve poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: searching stained glass windows for an answer (Alien Buddha Publishing, December 2022). She has also authored four micro-collections, two novellas, and four full length poetry collections. Her latest publication is a photography collection titled Songs of the Creek (Alien Buddha Press, April 2023).

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

stop banning books

i saw a friend post that in florida
they are banning anne frank’s diary
from being read because of the
graphic content,

and all i can think of is how people
who don’t know history are doomed
to repeat it;

are maus and night going to be next?

people need to know just how terrible the
holocaust was in a world where people
try to deny it happened despite all the survivors,
and the testimony of those who went through it;

the trauma that Jewish people still face today
simply isn’t okay—

no one should be killed because of their
ethnicity or the religion,
no one should be hated simply for being different;

and yet they’re going to ban books showing
us the lives of those who were forever changed
by the terror that was the holocaust because
they don’t want people who think, they’re not protecting
children; they’re trying to eliminate their knowledge
so they won’t speak out should a holocaust happen here.

Lindsay Soberano Wilson

Lindsay Soberano-Wilson’s debut full-length poetry collection, Hoods of Motherhood (Prolific Pulse Press) is forthcoming in May 2023. Her hybrid poetry chapbook, Casa de mi Corazón: A Travel Journal of Poetry and Memoir, explores how her sense of community, Jewish Canadian identity, and home was shaped by travel. Her poems have appeared in Fine Lines Literary Journal, Embrace of Dawn, Poetry 365, Fevers of the Mind, PoetryPause, Quills Erotic Canadian Poetry Magazine, Canadian Woman Studies Journal, Running with Scissors, Fresh Voices and Poetica Magazine. Find her on Medium, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok at Poetry Matters. Visit her on the web here.

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

The Streets of Munich

I could spit on this soil and love it…spit on every street corner
and every brick that ever oppressed Jews with hatred
I could stand center stage in the middle of Marienplatz and scream
with God’s deserted children…here in the streets of Munich

I want to paint blue Stars of David on all of their faces and
dance, a naked dance, of anguish and freedom

I could shout Heil Hitler just for the response
something, anything to shake them up and let them know
that I know and I will never forget

I could rip that Nazis Raus graffiti I saw across the street from
the Hofbrauhaus
I could shake every last living — I see them…

…all of the Lady Macbeth’s walking the streets of Munich
with red-stained palms: peeling, rubbing, washing, covering, scratching, burning…

I could ask questions to the strangers who look guilt-ridden enough:
Who are you? Where were you? What do you remember?
Tell me your goddamn story! I’m listening…

…I hope you know we all carry gravestones — grave — stones — 
in our hearts, and they…they weigh us down…they weighed us down…
down into the barracks…down into the gas…six feet under…six million later — and still…still we are a light unto the nations — and still…still, I think I found something here…here in the streets of Munich
something that looks like…Forgiveness.


Previously published in Casa de mi Corazon: A Travel Journal of Poetry and Memoir (Poetica Publishing); Originally published in Mizmor L’David Anthology by Poetica Publishing.

Lou Ella Hickman

Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S. (Corpus Christi, Texas) is a former teacher and librarian whose writings has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies; Press 53 published her first book of poetry in 2015 entitled she: robed and wordless. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at Y92 in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”

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

anniversary poem for mildred fish-harnack

mildred fish-harnack
you joined a group
the gestapo nicknamed red orchestra . . .
yesterday was your anniversary
when the sharp sure blade dropped
ending your life as a spy
a woman a civilian the only american
hitler ordered to die
they did not believe
the news you smuggled out
and then you died along with the others
today the 17th
i write your memory:
red orchestra music
how could it not be a blessing


Mildred joined a Berlin anti-fascist group called the Red Orchestra. Its aim was espionage as well as helping Jews escape. She was originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was beheaded on February 16, 1943.

Louise Longson

Since starting writing poetry ‘with intent’ in 2020, Louise Longson has been widely published both in print and online. She is the author of the chapbooks Hanging Fire (Dreich Publications, 2021) and Songs from the Witch Bottle (Alien Buddha Press, 2022).  She works from her home in a small rural village on the fringes of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire offering a listening service to people whose physical and emotional distress is caused by loneliness and historic trauma. Her poems are inspired by bringing together her personal and work experiences, often seen through the twin prisms of myth and nature. Visit her on the web here.

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

Sans Merci

When the leaves fall in autumn,
the mist gathers like a memory
of smoke. In the afternoon
when darkness begins to fall
they light candles along the railway.

The past echoes still; shouts
of men, tears of women, cries
of children wrapped up forever
in the final embrace of this homeland,
this daily bearing of witness.

And after the visitors have gone,
Nothing lives. The silence is total.
Nothing grows, nothing moves
or breaks in the pitiless ghost
-grey light. And no birds sing.

Mandy Beattie

Mandy Beattie is from Wick, Caithness, Scotland. She’s been published in, Poets Republic, Drawn to The Light, Lothlorien, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Dreich, WordPeace, Visual Verse, Wildfire Words, Spilling Cocoa, Last Stanza, The Haar, Purple Hermit, Crowstep, Spoonie, The Pen Points North, Advent with Annick, Full House Literary  & more. Short story in Howl New Irish Writing. Features in forthcoming, Big Girl’s Village Lockdown Showcase, House of Commons & George Gunn’s Film, Words in The Wind. Poets Choice, Marble Poetry. Shortlisted, Black Box Competition & 10th International Five Words Competition. Forthcoming publications in, Abridged, & Five Words Volume XVI Anthology.

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

Bergen-Belsen — Nameless-Numbers

I remember

there were no birds, no bees, no buttercups
under our childish chins, only slapping-silence
I remember
being frog-marched into a black and white photo-booth
my gaze skittering around, across bones —
String-puppets under skin-canvas
I remember
unmarked grave-mounds — Wombs of left-overs
Air thick with yew-worms, as blank eyes tracked from lime periscopes
I remember
the starched-grey couple holding out a camera
fingers air-cycling un-marked grave-mounds — Wombs of left-overs
I remember
the starched-grey couple’s multiple-choice of nameless-numbers
Their yoke of lilies laid at rest on any soil-sea-grave
I remember
those thumbprints of the dead as tattoos
of more nameless-numbers in Palestine

I remember

Margaret Beston

Margaret Beston is widely published in magazines and anthologies and the author of two collections, Long Reach River  2014, Timepiece  2019 and a pamphlet When the Ground Crashed Upwards in 2020. She is the founder of Roundel, a Poetry Society Stanza based in Tonbridge, Kent, UK, where she lives. Visit her on the web here.

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

Stonemason

Outside the Ecole des Hospitalières St Gervais, Paris, a plaque
commemorates 165 Jewish children deported in 1942.

He takes his slab of quarried stone
measures it, cuts to size,
etches the inscription.
No space for names,
just the numbers: one-six-five.
Crystal fragments spill like tears
around his bench, as tungsten
chips the keening marble,
stuttering hammer-head on steel
echoes through the silence
forcing truth from its rocky bed,
ash-white dust clings to his fingers
as he sands and buffs the fine Carrara
smooth as a lip’s caress on infant skin.

Mark Saba

Mark Saba has been writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction for 40 years. His most recent book publication is Flowers in the Dark (poetry). Other works include Calling the Names (poetry), Two Novellas: A Luke of All Ages / Fire and Ice, and Ghost Tracks: Stories of Pittsburgh Past. His work has appeared widely in literary magazines around the U.S. and abroad. He is also a painter, and recently retired from Yale University as a medical illustrator and graphic designer. Please see marksabawriter.com.

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

Brzezinka

I won’t pretend that fear
or compassion run so deep in me
that I could be the judge
of all that happened here.

I’ve seen too many films,
heard too many stories
that had me off-balance at night.

They’ve paved a monument
into a far corner at Birkenau:
fifteen languages scalded into stone,
figures trembling out of sculpture

but never reaching their bounds.
It’s not easy to get there
down the unpaved weedway, especially
by summer air, the heat of day.

I stepped back, read as I had been
obliged, scanned the earthen rubble
of unearthly crematoria, then

walked back to the empty barracks—
oversized grasses sporting bitter flowers—
to let the scene sink into me.

It was the present, the evil symmetry,
still more chimneys uselessly left
aloft, that had the final word.

I had been transported from one present
to another, one without another hand
to make less of unspent perfection.
For that was our legacy.

And I, no less than the rest,
became one of those deathless, even rows
against the uneven white dance of butterflies.

Martha Kaplan

Martha Jackson Kaplan is the recipient of the Zylpha Mapp Robinson International Poetry Award, an editor-in-chief award from Möbius, The Poetry Magazine, awards from the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and has been nominated for a Pushcart. Recently published in The Night Heron Barks, Nixes Mate Review, Unlikely Stories, Mark V, and forthcoming in Blue Heron Review. Visit Martha on the web here.

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

Kaddesh In Bones: Yahad In Unum

for Fr. Patrick Desbois

IT IS TRUE WHAT THE PRIEST DISCOVERED. I have heard others tell of it. The bones of Jews have been ground into the road to the green cemetery tended for the SS graves. They fill holes in the airplane tarmac. They lie enclosed in a cellar, never opened. Some scream at the priest to stay away from their tomato patches. The modern house at the end of the dismal village belongs to the man who offered succor to fleeing Jews, only to smother them in the night for the gold in their teeth. 20,000 were shot or bludgeoned in view of the schoolhouse. Children were requisitioned to walk the planks to flatten the people thrown into the pits alive, covered in lye or sand, so the next layer would be smooth. The pits breathed for three days. Silence surrounds it. Forests have grown up. Cows are grazed over them. People keep chickens there. Geologists will find a layer of bones under the soil. Everywhere. Ukraine. Lithuania. Serial killers are not ashamed. Terror is the first weapon. Predators use the news to paralyze their victims. Strategies are devised to destroy compassion. This is the other weapon. The priest is trying to teach us what he learned. It is about impunity. He is trying to warn us. It is still happening. We would rather sleep at night.


Published: Unlikely Stories, Mark V, 20th Anniversary Issue, 2018.

Mary Langer Thompson

Mary Langer Thompson of Apple Valley, California, is a retired high school English teacher and public school principal. She has found that the teaching and reading of poetry leads to the writing of poetry and has been published in numerous journals, most recently in Quill and Parchment where she is the April 2023 featured poet. She was the 2012 Senior Poet of California and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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

How I Choose to Remember You

For Dorothea Alma Elsa Vanicek Apfel

Walking out of the camps
wearing a fur coat—yes, real animal fur—
looking regal and deserving of grace
while Quartet for the End of Time plays on.

Searching for your husband
looking for you while you pass each other
sans stars, unaware, on buses and trains
traveling through bombed Leipzig streets.

Finding each other on an ordinary day
after you thought all was lost
including faith and hope and love
and realizing what they can never kill.

Mary Shapiro

Mary Mayer Shapiro is the pen name of an 80 year old  woman based in Rochester, NY  who wrote this poem for her family. She has also been published in the Spectrum Anthologies and Four feathers press. She would rather not have her real name revealed.

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

Camp Auschwitz

History repeats itself in may ways
Power controls the masses
Fear, go along, be quiet
Will we ever learn
Leah Druskin Micner
My great aunt
with her two children
Bernard and Claude
My cousins
Traveled on a train
In a cattle car
Entered a camp called Auschwitz
They were the lucky ones
They were immediately sent
To the gas chambers on arrival

They were not starved to death
Eating 300 calories a day
Tortured, beaten, tattooed
Leah was not sterilized

They were not experimented on
Infected for vaccination research
Exposed to toxic substances
Injected with tuberculosis bacilli

They did not die
From hypothermia, exhaustion
They were just Jews
Wearing a yellow star

Matthew Laramore

Self-described as the ‘poet of the blasphemous,’ Matthew Laramore utilizes symbolism of the written word to interpret the senses of his subjects with provocative yet also beautifully chilling expression. Whilst many remember the lives lost from the enabled evil of the Nazi regime, Laramore focuses more on a single act of bravery that has stood the test of time from an unknown Holocaust prisoner. Laramore is 36 years of age and resides in Washington, Missouri with his daughter. When not protesting religious political tyrants in his work, he also writes of nature, the cosmos, and human emotions.

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

To Prisoner X

Upon the Mauthausen cell walls did ye write,
‘If a god there is, shall then he beg for the light
Of my forgiveness!’ But there is an everlasting shade
That has wrought the modern age to barricade
The unshown light from ye, that were not already
Provided prior by the depressed sun’s day.
Across six million candles that long since burned
Has no deity stood such a test to be turned
To sing aloud the grief of your fellow captives.
Under a century since and foreign lands retract this
Seclusion of Christian supplied genocide;
Those speakers of evil could only set aside
Their proclaimed passion in these nastiest of acts,
As today their American variants deny such facts
Whilst the god they shared with ye
Enchain its tongue from your fading memory.
Yet, your words engraved upon its supposed creation
Has voiced more compassion than Hitler’s imitation
Of Hope. There is reason, if ever shall I grant it,
For such a silence from a deity I do not admit
To be—could it be reciting six million names,
So as to not cut ye short of its treacherous games?
And does it give these six million persons
An isolated eulogy, each with differing sermons?
I elect to assume it not so, for then eternity
Has been spent on them, as the rest of us in absurdity
Suffer at the hands of its other loudspeakers,
Who lay claim to be heaven’s appointed housekeepers.
O, how unclean it must always be indeed!
For their bloodstained aprons cannot recede
The memories they traced upon the flesh they pierce.
With their iron barrels that blast away like fierce
Snakes that spat their venom upon their face,
They screech the fury of blindfolded grace.
The howler of pride defaced the value in his people
And given resource from the Catholic steeple
To paint your blood into the German rivers,
Until last the oxygen is drained from your livers.
A form of sacrilege it has been portrayed to be
To criticize this indelicate moment of history
With just the mention of its entire being.
‘Tis as if its return has called out for new eyes seeing
Its disgustful regime. And once more ‘tis Christian
Bells that toll for it to become a renewed mission
That seeks out to also eradicate the liberties
Of the teachers and their flavory abilities
To weave out the shadows that lurk the grounds
Where the empty mind of a child surmounts.
If this god shall be, and thus surrendered
To your conditions, its all-knowingness is unrendered
And certainly a dishonor for this claim.
Upon this wall, the ages have shown the same.
They have glowed the moonlit sparkles
That rejuvenated the German pride from the darkles.
Courage were never given a stronger lullaby
Than in the stone that echoes a voice forced to die.

Melissa Mendelson

Melissa R. Mendelson lives in Monroe, New York.  She is a Poet and a Horror, Dystopian and Science-Fiction Short Story Author. Last year, her poetry book, This Will Remain With Us, a collection of poems involving being a frontline worker during Covid was published by Wild Ink Publishing.  She also recently re-self-published her Sci-Fi novella, Waken, which can be found on Amazon and Amazon Kindle.

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

The Illusion of Safety

We believed it could never happen again.
But here we are.
The graffiti on the walls.
The violence on the news.
The Hate never died.
It waited, biding its time
until others started to believe.
It never happened.
It’s just fake news.
We are lying,
but we are really lying to ourselves.
It could never happen again,
but what if January 6th went a different way?
What if we are still heading in that direction?
Will it be too late to change course,
or are we already stuck on that train?
They don’t care about history.
They don’t want to remember it.
But we must.
It could happen again.
With Hate rising,
that threat will never fade away.

Michael H. Brownstein

Michael H. Brownstein’s latest volumes of poetry, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love (2019) were both published by Cholla Needles Press. In addition, he has appeared in Last StanzaCafé Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, PoetrySuperHighway.com and others. He has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013).

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

A Faith Of Brightness

Soot poured from the large chimneys.
Coloring clouds distemper and black,
And the men in the camp did their labor
Thankful for the cover of shade,
But each man also saw the slim light from the sky
Watching over them and it gave them substance.
Sabbath, the men forced to work
Followed the light, whispered passages of Torah,
Passed coded prayers to one another
Knowing the guards could cause more evil
Forcing their bodies to degrade even more,
But they knew they could not stunt their souls
Growing stronger and stronger
Ten times brighter than the sun.

Nancy Lubarsky

Nancy Lubarsky writes from Cranford, NJ. An educator for over 35 years, she retired as a superintendent. Nancy has been published in various journals including Exit 13, Tiferet, Poetic, Stillwater Review and Paterson Literary Review. Nancy received honorable mention in the 2014 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and again in 2016. One of Nancy’s poem received honorable mention from The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Contest. She has also been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize. She is the author of two books: Tattoos (Finishing Line Press) and The Only Proof (Kelsay Press, a Division of Aldrich Books).

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

If the Synagogue’s Now an Eye Care Center,
Can You Still Pray There?

When you are my witnesses, I am God, but when
you are not my witnesses, it is as if I am not God.
—Isaiah 43:12


I drive by my old neighborhood and pass a
vinyl sign. It covers the carved relief of a
familiar structure. I recognize Hebrew letters,
the word, temple, edges out. Stained glass
windows depict the ancient tribes amid

a façade of archways and columns. This
building—another casualty of Jews who’ve
left their homeland. Most of these are now
churches, mosques, museums, which make
sense. But this one—could I ask forgiveness

in a sanctuary that is now a series of smaller
rooms—sit in a cushioned chair, squint at the
lettered chart, eyes dilated, and wonder, Is God
a place? Jews have too much unstable history,
too little fixed geography. Much time, but little

space. I was born in a small garden apartment
in New Jersey, but what if it were on a crowded
train headed to a camp? Jewish days begin at
nightfall. Darkness drives away those who
question how to pray to a God who isn’t there.

Nanette Rayman-Rivera

Nanette Rayman-Rivera, author of books—Shana Linda, Pretty Pretty and Project: Butterflies, is a two-time Pushcart nominee, winner of Best of the Net 2007, DZANC Best of the Web 2010, winner Glass Woman Prize. Sugar House Review, The Worcester Review, Wilderness House, Sundog, Up the Staircase, Pedestal, Berkeley Fiction Review, DMQ, Seventh Wave, Stirring’s Steamiest Six, Editor’s Pick Green Silk. Recent: Collidescope Journal, Poetry Super Highway, New Verse News, Adelaide. Samjoko Journal Upcoming:. The Portland Review. She lives with her puppy, Layla.

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

Shoes 1943

The movement of shoes and trains, each step and whistle
woodwind sirens of death, each splits
breath in two. Hiding in a barn as a little girl,
fear of being found or jostled out
you lightly opened the shed, let the stars
who slept with you, in.
What drives you are all brittle moments
when you know yourself from the enemy opposite.
You cup your hand around your hearts 4 by 6 shelter,
dreaming of shoes you saw a smiling lady wear
on her way to meet her lover.
And as the woman’s soles went down in mud
she loosened her puff-sleeved dress
that fell to dust, her body like lines of silver
train, her hair untamed sweat and she didn’t care.
She twirled in her black suede platforms with the open toe.
She had such a time, licked her lips to life.
You sleep standing up in the dress
your mother made you, loose threads
work into your skin. Below the mottled
mewling tracks, hold out by Shema, hold
yourself tight. Weightless girl, don’t move, don’t dance
the sky’s too piebald to see you were here,
your pretty shoes lost in snow.
No one is naming you; I will name your shoes.
Maryjane, T-strap, Rounded Toe. They’re sailing
down the gaunt hill like cabbage, their leather,
spiked hides of chronicle, of clouds, crack
on soft ice they’ve traveled
with the toll-takers mist for breath.


Best of the Net Anthology – 2007

Norma Bernstock

Norma Ketzis Bernstock lives in Milford, Pennsylvania. Her poetry has appeared online at Your Daily Poem, has been been featured on WJFF Catskill Radio and has appeared in many print and online journals and anthologies including Stillwater Review, Exit 13, US 1 Worksheets, Connecticut River Review, Paterson Literary Review and Rattle. Her previous achievements include recognition by the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and a Pushcart Prize nomination. Her chapbook, Don’t Write a Poem About Me After I’m Dead, was published by Big Table Publishing with two more chapbooks in progress.

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

Those Who Survived

Potato salad made fresh today,
paprika and parsley sprinkled on top—
I’m back in my mother’s kitchen when I was ten
where I’d peel the skin from warm potatoes
added to the chopped onions and celery
for our family’s holiday celebration.

Cousin Sally still spoke Yiddish.
She’d pinch my cheeks in greeting, squeezed
my pinky sore when she grabbed my hand.

Other cousins had Old World names—
Lottie, Hindy and Milty.
Goldie wore hooped earrings,
her wrists heavy with bangles and charms.
I heard stories about Solomon, my uncle,
the family patriarch, how he sailed back to Austria
in the 1930’s, returned alone and distraught.
His was the face I saw when I prayed.

These cousins, my only family on my mother’s side,
the ones who had left in time.

Olivia Macassey

Olivia Macassey’s work has appeared in publications including Poetry New Zealand, Landfall, Rabbit, and Otoliths, and her second book is The Burnt Hotel (Titus Books). Olivia lives in Te Tai Tokerau, Aoteraoa New Zealand. Visit her on the web here.

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

Oswiençim

Some of the trees that grow here are the same
trees that were here then.

Young crows were walking around with their mouths open in the heat.

The willows were lush, and the curious grasses.
A man joked in his language
as he cycled past
amidst the careful gardens,
and a monkey-faced dog stepped on to the path;
the warmth of cement rose gently in the air
warming alive skin.                  It was nothing like smoke.

When I arrived, it was an ordinary town.
The handsome young crows, with their beaks in the heat!

Some of the trees growing here are the same.

Students made room for me on the carriage-end floor
between bags and cigarettes and long dusty legs.
The train rattled us like stones.

All the way home I looked at the trees
and all the way home,
the trees
did not see me.


First published in Poetry New Zealand (issue 33, ed. Alistair Paterson. Auckland & Palm Springs: Puriri Press/Brick Row Publishing, 2006).

Paola Tavoletti

Paoa Tavoletti is an Italian artist-poet living in Rome. Her website is www.paolatavoletti.com  She has a MA degree in Creative Arts/Illustration (Hertfordshire University), and a MA degree in Creative Writing/Poetry (Lancaster University); she has published four short novels and a Poetry Collection in Italian, and some poems in English. Her themes are the landscape/place, the female self, the identity/roots, and the cultural heritage. She often works in cross forms: poetry + visual art + prose. Visit her on the web here.

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

they were many

Jerusalem, your stones
have a long memory.
Your constellations are sealed,
wrapped in golden powder.
Your palm trees will not bend
in front of their guns,
and your olive trees won’t shake,
harvested by wounded hands.
Each olive, a name.

Partha Sarkar

Partha Sarkar writes poems to protest against the crime against nature. He is inspired by his brothers and friends, especially Deb Kumar Khan.

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

The Holocaust of the Past, the present and the future

The unprecedented color of the globe.
The bright light of the sweat. ( Remember I do not deify the class.)
The eyes of the dogs gazing at me. A perfect morning
Yet…yet…yet…
The Holocaust of the Past, the Present and the future.
I cannot enjoy meager breakfast with them.
A procession of the words of the pallbearers in rain.
Every moment counts the pestilence the countless deaths.
No news as to the disappearance of the birds, trees and wombs.
On the floating wings gradually swell on the sins of the bipeds.
Burn chemicals the wallets of the revolution. By the fire cry the rotten grains.
Opens the hands at night the bitter grievance. Difference after difference.
Cycle on the birth and the pussy horse of the Time in the talkative planet meaninglessly.
Enjoys sitting on the sofa the beauty parlor the crying of the sea
When children take shelter at the bottomless bottom of the sea.
Come with innocent candles the investigations getting signals from the nether worlds
And tear the sacred eyes of the wolves with rusted nails and we feel the holocaust is dead
But Alack! Again try hard the shamans… Bring the sham deaths
After the previous night’s nightmare again the hymn in the pussy clamor
And the oppressed of the previous night search for the innocent limbs
And Shangri-La is offered the shanks of the sacred deer.
Shalom!

Rabbi Steven Lebow

Rabbi Steven Lebow is the leading advocate for the exoneration of Leo Frank, an innocent man who was lynched in Georgia in 1915. His life and work in civil rights has been profiled in the Nee York Times and the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, CNN and NPR.

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

Legends of our time

For Irving and Rita Lebow

At night, I wait for dawn.
At dawn, I go to sleep.
It is no accident that I live
in a town beyond the wall,
or that I’ve been expelled
beyond the gates of the forest.
Unlike the Jews, I am not silent.

One generation after the destruction
a beggar in Jerusalem
unwraps his bandages by the gates.
In honor of him, I take this oath.
I dance, I sing the soul on fire.
I utter simple confessions of faith:
I believe.
What will we do when messengers of God
tell us that God is mad?
A Jew today acknowledges one terrifying fact-
God has given birth to death.

Hasidic masters dance while kneeling,
scream when silent.
This is their vow,
their stolen testament.
Wrenched loose from history
God is tried and found wanting
of any human feeling.

Somewhere a master sings
a single song
of memory.
Portraits of the Bible,
sages and dreamers,
mingled in cruel
and unrelenting
lime.
The fantasy of a Golem,
a gentle Frankenstein’s monster,
who brings salvation.

All of these dreams and visions
give way to silence.
A family argument between
the races degenerates
into simple human violence.
One child is good.
One is evil.
One child is naïve
And one son can’t
ask the terrifying question.
And then, there is a fifth child
who simply asks
“Why?”

By now, it is old history.
The universe deconstructs;
six days are adequate
for evil to unfold.
A reporter from the kingdom of memory
lays down his head,
but will not die.

At twilight he awakens
And waits for the sun to rise.
He gives himself this assignment:
at the waning of the century.

It is a sacred act
invoking those discarded
by history.
The long-forgotten need a testimony
to sanctify their memory.
Otherwise, all history is nothing.

We are nothing.
I am nothing,
If I do not bring this testimony.

 

The child crying in the room next to me
is an affirmation
of the power of witnessing
in which all rivers,
even those made by God,
run down to the unforgiving sea.

Richard Widerkehr

Richard Widerkehr’s fourth book of poems is Night Journey (Shanti Arts Press, 2022).  At The Grace Cafe (Main Street Rag) came out in 2021. He also has three chapbooks and a novel, Sedimental Journey (Tarragon Books). His work has appeared in Poetry Super Highway, Writer’s Almanac, Atlanta Review, and the award-winning Take A Stand: Art Against Hate (Raven Chronicles). He won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan and first prize for a short story at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. He lives in Bellingham, WA, and reads poems for Shark Reef Review.

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

Kristallnacht, 1938: Night of Shattered Glass

Even when the sun stops shining, and no one
is left to light a candle for the man who hid his poem
in that cellar wall in Berlin, we do not forget
his night where souls assemble, unashamed,
and when the night cannot forget—
I believe in God, he said, even when God
is silent—let his scrawl in that cellar
not lie on some dank beach, anonymous,
no scroll; as strike showers come, low waves
seething, let them come, let breath, paper,
black rain, chimneys, Auschwitz; white rain,
Majdanek; let them slice down once, twice,
Belsen, and so forth; then, let night rest.

First published in Open: A Journal Of Art And Letters and reprinted in Night Journey by Richard Widerkehr (Shanti arts Press)

Rifkah Goldberg

Rifkah (Rita) Goldberg writes poetry and aphorisms, and is a long-time oil painter. She has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Cambridge University, and worked as a freelance writer and editor. Born in London in 1950, she has been living in Jerusalem since 1975, has two sons and twelve grandchildren, and is married to the writer Shalom Freedman. Visit her on the web here.

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

Always There For Me

(In memory of and with great thanks to my very special uncle, Prof. Kopul (Ernest) Krausz — August 13, 1931 to December 10, 2018)

Before I can remember myself
A black-and-white photo
Shows a handsome dark-haired man
In a once fashionable double-breasted jacket

Tightly grasping the outstretched hand
Of an uncertain three year-old-or-so little girl
On my grandparents’ uneven stoop leading to
The unrecalled front door with stained-glass panels

Throughout my childhood
Your presence always brought untold joy
To my mother and father and to your own parents
Whom you held in the greatest respect

From not knowing a word of English when you arrived
At sixteen in England from Holocaust Alba Iulia
Carved out a successful academic career
Spanning two very different continents

With the wife you found and loved dearly
Built an exemplary warm family and home
Where everyone was made to feel welcome
Later struggled on after losing your eldest daughter

Through all your joys and sorrows
Always made a place for me until the very end
Constantly in touch and giving me support
Whenever and however you could

And now you are gone after a long life
With years of suffering at the end
Who will hold my hand so firmly
As I falteringly approach my final years?

Robert Knox

Robert Knox of Quincy, MA is a poet, fiction writer, and Boston Globe correspondent. As a contributing editor for the online poetry journal, Verse-Virtual, his poems appear regularly on that site. They have also appeared in journals such as The American Journal of Poetry, New Verse News, The Eunoia Review, and others. His poetry chapbook “Gardeners Do It With Their Hands Dirty” was nominated for a Massachusetts Best Book award. He was the winner of the 2019 Anita McAndrews Poetry Award. Visit him on the web here.

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

They Came

First they came for the immigrant children
And we looked away
Because the Leader’s toady told us, “Those are not
our children”
And we looked at our own children,
and were reassured

Then they came for the people who cover their heads
or pray too much
And again we looked away
Because we were not Iranians, or Iraqis, or Gazans,
or children of the West Bank detained indefinitely without charges
And, as the man said,
those are not our children

Then they came for the abused, and those who accused their abusers,
and for the accusers’ advocates,
and for those who fought against their abusers,
But we looked away, and jested at the comedie humaine,
because we were not ourselves the victims of abuse
or the advocates for the abused,
and, after all, we were “not his type”

Then they came for the ones who would never
play ball with Der Leader
The ones who would always be trouble
because they were cheated out of their land
or, perchance, had been enslaved
or who had once owned a country that the slave-owners wished
to possess for themselves
or who, we feared, were willing to work
for too little money
or who loved the wrong people

And then because no one else remained standing
in our diminished patria,
neither advocates,
nor scribblers with their pencil over the ear,
nor Enemies of the People with their hand-held devices,
nor workers’ parties,
nor defenders of the beaten, humiliated and disappeared

nor anyone able to kick the ball from their feet,
nothing was left for us to do
but to lay our own bodies before his feet

as the painted, spiked, and horny-headed demons of extinction
cheered, and drank, and laughed, and danced upon the bodies
of their victims
and ran up history’s score


First published by The NewVerse.News in July 2019?

Ronna Magy

Ronna Magy is a Los Angeles based poet and memoirist with work published in journals and anthologies including Stone Poetry Quarterly,Wild Crone Wisdom, Persimmon Tree, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Writers Resist, Sinister Wisdom, and Nasty Women Poets. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley and University of Michigan. Ronna recently coordinated a reading of lesbian poets over 60 for the OutWrite Festival. She’s a retired textbook writer and instructor of English as a Second Language.

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

City Square

“All the sculptures of today, like those of the past, will end one day in pieces…”
-Alberto Giacometti

We walk slow, our feet mud to the ground.
Hesitating, some ask Is it safe to connect?
Walking towards each other, our feet pull away.
Unknowing fear eats the dimensions of ground.
So many once upright, bedded earth marking their graves.
If we hesitate, time will be gone.
Our bodies crude with the fragility of time.
Already the square empty of trees.

Rosalind Lee

I live in a place called Crowborough, where there are no crows.  The story goes that the crows got very large, and looked like greedy old ladies, and got so dangerous that the locals ganged up on them, and killed the lot. Since then, no crows have ever lived here.

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

The Code

I awoke one morning
On my forearms the code
Of imprisonment and remembrance
Came nearly intact to the surface.
I wasn’t sure if it was for the best
My only proof over Amnesia – Jewish records
Put me there in touch with the people
In small groups at evening prayer.
Grandfather always intoned the words,
Always insisted that God would hear –
No matter what our religion coloured him.
The relief of our gathering undisclosed.
We tried not to count the missing;
Far easier to be grateful for the living.
Each of us marked by numbers, letters, code.
Broken vessels before God.
Wholehearted we prayed for His grace,
That might lead us to peace. After war,
Grandfather paid for surgical removal.
We were warned it might come back.
Somehow, it’s the old friend I never had.

Rp Verlaine

Rp Verlaine lives in New York City. He has an MFA in creative writing from City College. He taught in New York Public schools for many years. His first volume of poetry- Damaged by Dames & Drinking was published in 2017 and another – Femme Fatales Movie Starlets & Rockers in 2018. A set of three e-books titled Lies From The Autobiography vol 1-3 were published from 2018 to 2020. His latest book, Imagined Indecencies, was published in February of 2022. He was nominated for a pushcart prize in poetry in 2021 and 2022. Visit him on Facebook here.

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

Auschwitz

The screaming began
when the doors
were closed.
Zyklon B pellets
dropped through vents
as death’s grim harbinger.

Those by the vents died
quick while others
died mid-prayer.
Until the last vapors
had nothing to claim.

Grandfather had been
a dentist, was now
a gaunt ghost
Sonderkommando who
survived by pulling
gold teeth of corpses
faster than others.

He never spoke of
what he saw or knew
even to mother who
was his favorite.

So many years later
I walked through
Auschwitz clutching
his Star of David
I inherited, so
tightly, the points
went through my
flesh. I too left blood
in Auschwitz.

That faint scar
still remains
I touch it when nervous.
When I think of grandfather
or visit a dentist.


Previously published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal in 2022

Sandy Rochelle

Sandy Rochelle is an award winning poet-actress, and filmmaker. She appeared on Broadway with the Acting Company of Lincoln Center-and is a Voting Member of the Recording Academy. Publications include: Dissident Voice, Verse Virtual, Every Day Writer, Spillwords Press, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Trouvaille Review, Impspired, and others. Visit her on the web here.

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

Betrayal

The lion asked the eagle who put those numbers on your long skinny neck?
The rat put them there said the pelican and the monk fish watched –but did nothing.
The antelope cried-but did not intervene- and the moose lost his abiding faith in the
Beauty of the wilderness where he had lived in peace.

Sarah M. Prindle

Bio statement: Sarah M. Prindle received an Associates in English from Northampton Community College. She loves reading everything from historical fiction and memoirs to poetry and mysteries. She hopes to someday publish her own novels and poetry collections and has already had her work published in several literary magazines and websites.

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

We Are Still Here: The Romani in the Holocaust

They called us thieves, the Nazis,
as they stole countless lives
in the Auschwitz
gas chambers.

They called us ‘dirty gypsies’,
a threat to German purity,
but tell me what is pure
about mass murder?

They rounded us up, the Nazis,
as if we were rats,
not men, women, children,
ordinary people.

They forced us to wear a
a brown triangle,
a symbol of otherness,
of being less than human.

They meant to kill us all,
but survivors carry the message:
we’re not less, we’re not dirty,
we’re not thieves.

We are still here.

Shelly Blankman

Shelly Blankman and her husband, Jon, live in Columbia, Maryland. Their sons, Richard and Joshua, who live in New York and Texas, respectively, surprised her by publishing her first book of poetry, Pumpkinhead. Shelly’s poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Verse-Virtual, and Muddy River Poetry Review, among other publications.

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

My Name is Miriam

A world of dreams imploded by age,
my mirrored face gazes back at me.
Summers of buttercups would soon
be over. The sweet taste of life, too,
would wane. This is the sum of me, I thought.

This is who I am,
But who am I, really?

My name is Miriam.
No one calls me that.
Miriam exists no more,
Her story, like so many others.
Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers.

Their lives in trinkets and candles,
All that makes a house a home, now
littered and looted with shards of glass,
photos and papers shredded and burned,
nothing left to share. No one left to share it.

Ghosts of children, too. A one-armed bear
matted with drool. A crinkled Monopoly
set with missing pieces. And Miriam, like
so many others, robbed of strength and spirit,
no way to stand, nowhere to go, mired in the mud
where life used to be where

men toiled
and women cooked
and children giggled
and lovers kissed
and teachers taught
and rabbis chanted.

Burning embers are all that remain,
where skeletal villages are living graves,
spit on by brown-shirted boys, barely men,
air thick with the stench of the dying, the dead.

A fortunate few able to flee,
jammed in a barge destined for dreams
in America.

Among the chattel, my grandmother,
Miriam’s sister,
her dress so lovingly stitched,
now stained and grimy,
sagging on her four-foot frame,
so tiny against this monster war
that had choked her childhood,
and in its wake, sweet Miriam.

In this barge prison, my grandmother,
masking pain and loss,
like so many others on the boat that day,
headed in fear for freedom
hanging onto a frayed rope of hope
through fickle waters,
hearts pounding with each ocean wave.
Like others, she cries and no one hears,
should hear,
but Miriam.

My grandmother,
Packing her pain what little was left
As she headed for the boat that day
Her small carpet pouch filled
With photos, maybe a coin or two
from her beloved Austria.

Dreams of freedom mixed with fear,
No family waiting,
to yell, “Here I am!”
No shoulder to cry on.
No aunt or uncle or friend to say,
Cry on if you want, cry if you must,
her tears invisible. No one must know.

My grandmother,
so small and frail at seventeen.
Her high-top shoes,
Scuffed with dirt and wear.
What would her mother say?

She shudders.
Her mother gone. Her father, too.
Nine brothers and sisters left behind
in distant snaking smoke.

And Miriam
Her sister, her confidante
Her anchor to life itself.
Where was she?
Her dear, sweet Miriam.
Like the rest of them.
Devoured.

Now, generations later,
The smoke long cleared,
I carry her name.

Miriam, A strong-willed child.
And yet, how could Miriam rebel?
How would she? No voice to scream.
starved for strength to fight. I am bound
to rebel where she could not.

I am bound to remember her and
all the others who died with her and
would have been born for generations to follow
if only she had lived. I am bound to speak for those
muted by fear to show strength for those who cannot.

I am bound to rebel.
My name is Miriam.


(Previously published in The Ekphrastic Review)

Stephen E Mead

Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online. Recently his work has appeared in CROW NAME, WORDPEACE and DuckDuckMongoose. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall. Visit him on the web here.

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

The Exterminators List Reasons

Enough lashes so that the skin, or what little is left, will fall away from the bone.
That’s good. We like to watch & have others see. Make them kneel first,
in urination. We provide just the right amount of liquids in order to ensure this.
We provide just the right amount always so the living will hunger & taste death
while doing so. Their fear has a function, has become the sum of their usefulness;
despicable, weak. How often we spit, caressing the whip’s handle before bringing
down the slender end.

Don’t you love the sharp blow you small pathetic bit of…
Oh, you’re so easy to hate, allowing us to do these things, allowing us to be this way.
Stand up then. Sure, we’ll shoot you & have your best friend dig the crypt.
You know this so stop shaking. You know this so what’s the point
of wanting to keep the hunger we provide you?
You see, we told you your kind wasn’t logical.
Come now, stinking pig, oink oink, isn’t that enough?

What makes us sick is your infection of being afraid.

Susan Beth Furst

Susan Beth Furst is an award-winning haiku poet and Children’s picture book author. She has published three chapbooks: Souvenir Shop, Road to Utopia, and Neon Snow. Her Children’s books include Humpty Dumpty Cracks and All, Electric Pink, The Amazing Glass House, and The Hole In My Haiku. She also edits The Word On the Street: a journal of Jesus poems. Susan lives in Fishersville, Virginia, with her husband Herb, and a canary named Mozart. Visit her on the web here.

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

Cake Walk

Hamantashen, Hamantashen,
Hadassah, calling through the ages,
interceding for her people.

They tried to kill us,
but we survived—
and Haman,
BOOOOOOOOOO,
hanging from the very gallows
he built for us.

And a little boy
with a runny nose,
a mother like Esther
imploring him
to tidy up
for the festival—
when we defeated our enemies
with the help of a king.

Now, we will live forever
in peace,
only smoke
and a distant thunder
on the horizon.

 

David Labkovski Project: Reflect and Respond, Online Exhibition, Holocaust Commemoration April 2022 www.davidlabkovskiproject.org

Susan M Davis

LGBTQ-married to my wife. I taught a two month Holocaust unit every year to my gifted eighth grade students. I’m not Jewish but I still felt I wanted to teach the Holocaust so my 3000 students could carry my lessons out into the world. I live in Colorado.

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

Voice of a Cattle Car

I was a car of destruction
I knew that from the beginning
Collecting Jews to roll on to the concentration camps

There were rules I had to follow
Come rain or shine
I careened down the tracks
Carrying Jews to their death.
I’m sorry for my cold womb
But the Nazi guards never let up.

The screams and fears of terror
of all the people in my cavity
Made me want to stop
The smoke and steam polluting the air

But that was nothing compared to the people
held captive in the torso of myself
My doors were locked- not even a crack of air at hand
People suffocated because my engine was running
I was only a cattle car barreling down the tracks
But the blood and scratches on the inside of me
Was visible for all to see.

The fighting in my car was loud and clear
One crumb of bread became a nightmare
I wanted no one to come near
But the Nazis wanted me day and night
To transport the Jews to their death
If I only knew the damage, I would perpetrate
I would have played dead
And stopped on the tracks.

Thea Iberall

Thea Iberall is ‘a shimmering bridge between heart and mind.’ An inductee into the International Educators Hall of Fame, she is featured in the documentary “Poets, Passion and Poetry.” Thea has been published widely in anthologies and journals including in Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust. Her book of contextual poems, The Sanctuary of Artemis, traces the roots of patriarchal domination through poetry and essays. Thea’s poems springboard from the personal into moral issues and emotional truths. Author of the ecofeminist novel The Swallow and the Nightingale. Formerly from LA, she lives in Dedham, Massachusetts. Visit Thea on the web here.

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

Another Day

Dedicated to the Jews killed in the Holocaust

I’m learning Hebrew. I’m not exactly sure why. I mean I’m Jewish
but not Jewish Jewish, as in going to temple every weekend
or eating matzoth instead of bacon. There are other things I need to do
but there I am every night holed up under the covers trying to decipher a
mem from a samech and a dalet from a resh. I have this theory.
We can’t see the civilization we live in, but we’re all part of it,
and when kids turn eighteen, they step up to participate in it.
I think of civilization as a big blanket above us and we’re all holding up
our small corner of it, like doctors and lawyers, nurses and judges.
And then I had a thought, what if something terrible happens
and I’m the only Jewish person left in the world. People would start
asking me questions like what do all these prayers mean.

For example, there’s this prayer, Lecha Dodi. It’s sung every Friday night near
the beginning of the service. It says welcome Sabbath bride, enter the sanctuary.
On the last verse, the congregation turns toward the door at the rear of the sanctuary
to welcome the Sabbath. Boi ve-shalom Come in peace. When I first did this, I found
it difficult to coordinate my feet with my mouth, all the while trying to make sense
of this strange alphabet.

But then I learned something. In 1943, the French militia—the Milice of the Vichy
government—decided to put an end to Jewish worship in Lyon, France. One Friday night, a Milice commando, armed with three hand grenades, entered the rear door of the Great Synagogue. Little did he know where they were in the service. The congregation stood up as one and faced him. Boi ve-shalom. Come in peace. The commando, smug in his snazzy uniform and tight blue beret, was stunned. How did they know he was there? He had used all the stealth techniques he had learned from the Nazis. Sweat began seeping into his brown shirt like buckets of blood. Besides, he wasn’t a killer, he had a new wife and Jews weren’t even human. He had done this dozens of times, tossing hand grenades at nameless hordes of pigs like pitching pineapples at monkeys. But this was different,
he was staring into the faces of his victims:
Old grandfathers with their shuffles, stooped grandmothers worried
about their sons. Mrs. Lunt the dressmaker with her pudgy hands
and hair parted to one side. Defiant Mr. Gold who broke his glasses
that afternoon. Seventeen-year-old Alain with his eyes on Yvette.
And Mrs. Cohn exhausted from trying to piece together the Sabbath meal.
Some were smiling, iridescent like spruce trees.
Others had their heads bent, worrying with the weight of their lives.
But on all their lips was the same thought:
to welcome the Sabbath, God’s beautiful bride,
his Shekhinah, after six days of hard toil to create a world
and hold together their families. The Sabbath was
a place more in time than in space, a moment of tranquility—
of menuhot—a mystical moment when one could just be and not do.
They had no candles no challah no wine-stemmed glasses,
but they could remember being slaves in Egypt, and by resting,
they were saying—we are free.

Boi ve-shalom Come in peace, crown of her husband.

Boi ve-shalom ateret ba’alah gam be-simchah u-ve-tzahalah,
Toch emunei am segulah bo-i chalah bo-i chalah —

He stared. They stared. And then he ran away
and they all lived for at least another day.
Toch emunei am segulah bo-i chalah bo-i chalah

So I’m learning Hebrew. I figure this 5800-year-old
blanket was given to me for a reason.
I’m going to spend another day learning another prayer.

You can never tell when it might be useful.

Tina Hacker

Tina Hacker’s poems earned a top-ten placement in the 2019 and 2020 Annual Poetry Super Highway Contests. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Tina was a finalist in New Letters and George F. Wedge competitions and named Editor’s Choice in two literary journals. Her most recent poetry collection, GOLEMS, features over 30 of these mythical creatures based on Jewish folklore. In 2016, Tina was honored as a Muse for The Writers Place in Kansas City, MO, and currently is Poetry Editor of the national magazine, Veterans’ Voices. She lives with her husband, Lynn Norton, in Leawood, KS.

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

Warsaw Ghetto: Never Forget

The teenager plays
with her younger sister,
wiggling her fingers
to make the six-year-old giggle.
Then both follow their parents
in silence, so close they feel
attached like buttons to a coat,
until hands grab their hands,
pull them up and inside a boxcar.

Pepper of despair, intense and
persistent, burns the older girl’s
throat, muting her screams.
She knows the train’s
destination. Questions
inside the rumors she heard
in the ghetto exploded into answers
she refuses to share. The little one
must not know. Maybe their
parents don’t know.

Nazi guards shout at the panicking
crowd. You’re going to a place
the Reich recently built. You
will be taken to clean quarters.
The guards chuckle when they discuss
cleansing, but they don’t lie.
Treblinka II boasts new construction,
engineered for death.

The sisters’ fingers remain
tightly braided in the girls’ final moments
as if a defiant grip could squeeze
the poison from the fumes.
No burial, no marker. Their flesh
joins other flesh in flames.
But their souls escape,
wearing shawls of smoke.

Relatives who survive
mourn, but they are gone now.
We, who live, must reach
for those unknown to us,
grasp hands, tell them,
we will never forget.


Originally published in The Elder Leaf Collection

Tom Weiss

Tom Weiss grew up on a cattle ranch next to the Everglades in west Broward County, FL (now the town of Weston). He moved to Knoxville, TN for a job after graduating from Vanderbilt and had a career in commercial real estate management and development until the pandemic retired him. Upon retirement, Tom came out of the literary closet, and started submitting poems for publication in late 2021. He has had nineteen poems published in five journals to date. The first was published on Poetry Super Highway. Visit Tom on the web here.

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

granny was a counter puncher

she spoke to me once
beyond the usual greeting
for a boy of five
here’s my little monkey face
cheeks pinched pink
a nod to nonsense before moving

when grandaddy drove her
up from miami
for sunday dinners
she was tightly tuned
to my father’s patronage
since he paid for the house
she later left to his younger brother

she understood priorities
lunge parry bleed repeat
having crawled across borders
in riverbeds by moonlight
cursed by chases of cossacks
she delivered my dad in paris
the city of love

we were surprisingly alone
all the oblivious others
outside splashing
she called me close
to her chair beside a flintlock floor lamp
with a luminescent deerskin shade

she recounted family stories
cousins uncles aunts were
gassed then skinned
for lampshades and accessories
jewish cakes of soap

is insouciance the armor of the modern man
my father’s wealth and land were his proof
time-release terror was her bequest
belonging as it cooled

Tova Hinda Siegel

Tova Hinda Siegel, a writer/poet, is a midwife, cellist, mother, grandmother and great grandmother of many children living around the world. After earning a BA from Antioch and an MS from USC, she began writing and has studied with Jack Grapes, Tresha Faye Haefner, Taffy Brodesser-Akner among others. Her work has appeared in Salon.com, I’ll Take Wednesdays, On The Bus, MacQueens’s Quinterly, Gyroscope Review, Poetry SuperHighway, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Better than Starbucks and several anthologies. Her first collection, Uncertain Resident was published recently.  She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

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

A Polish Forest 1942

The sky lazes as they run
from a hollowed log to the next
grotto. I heard the story, their story,
the story of their escape. Chased
as less than animals, a feast for men
brandishing guns and whips.
Leashed dogs follow the scent
and pull their sadistic keepers
through the swaying forest.
Hush now.
Don’t breathe.
No songs.
Wait.
The sun, no longer flashing gold,
indolent now, drifts into knolls and hills.

The reapers vanish into night’s pinched cold.
Dusk darkens the western horizon, shadows
the ghosted trees and the family coils together
on the quivering
ground, next to stumps
and rippling grasses,
lullabying the stars.
A cradlesong is whispered
through blanketed
tear-filled eyes and suckling mouths.

*Oyfen pripetshik brent a fayerl
un in shtub is heys…

A full moon rises over the hillocks,
the lakes. Velvety ringlets fall across
the baby’s sleeping visage. Her father
has dropped to his knees, foraging
through the spongy soil for the night’s
dinner.

Soft,
warm,
rest,
sink into yield.

Un der rebbe learnt kleyne kinderlakh
dem alef-beyz
Un der rebbe learnt kleyne kinderlakh
dem alef-beyz

Tomorrow hums
into the swampy footpaths.
Voices cannot rise, not yet.

Driven souls tempered
through hunger and fear and aching
follow an unseen path, searching
for breathing moments.
Light from the morning’s
unfurled beams flame grace.
The saffron sun brings silent hope.

Yes, they escaped. Their daughter died
in that forest. Their son lived.

I, who in this life never ran from searching sadists,
I, who in this life never felt the pant of hungry dogs,
I, who in this life never slept in a tree trunk,
hoping to survive the night,
I nevertheless carry their story
in my heart
and know
that my soul remembers.


*A well-known Yiddish lullaby sung to generations of Jewish children

Translation: On the hearth, a little fire burns and in the house it’s warm
And the Rabbi teaches little children the Alef-Beis (alphabet)

Tova Snitzer

This is Tova’s third time participating in Poetry Super Highway’s Holocaust Remembrance Day collection.

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

Babi Yar

Even in death they are allowed no peace
No quiet resting place
No acknowledgement of the horror endured

Can you see the forest for the trees?
Growing from an earth that still bleeds

34,000 Jews murdered in two days before Yom Kippur
And another 100,000+ over the next years

There are no head stones to visit
There are not enough cries or tears
To memorialize this place of death
To honor the lives of those who were taken
They only have each other

And as the rockets rain down anew
Perhaps the time has come
For them to rise back from the ashes
This crowd of thousands
Together

William Heath

William Heath has published three poetry books: The Walking Man, Steel Valley Elegy, and Going Places; a chapbook, Night Moves in Ohio; three novels: The Children Bob Moses Led (winner of the Hackney Award), Devil Dancer, and Blacksnake’s Path; a work of history, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (winner of two Spur Awards and the Oliver Hazard Perry Award); and a collection of interviews, Conversations with Robert Stone. He lives in Annapolis, MD. www.williamheathbooks.com

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

The Banality of Evil

Crematoria created problems.
The gas was so efficient,
you see, all those bodies
piled up on top of one another
and so forth. Corpses
swell and smell, soggy bones
don’t burn well. Rest assured
we did many scientific studies
to find the most efficient method
of getting air to circulate freely
inside those heaps of the dead
so that the fire could breathe.


Previously published in Steel Valley Elegy (Kelsay Books, 2022)

April 10-16, 2023: Poetry from Jay Passer and Carrie Magness Radna

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Jay Passer

Jay Passer’s work has been included in print and online publications and anthologies since 1988. He is the author of 13 collections of poetry and his first novel, Squirrel, was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2022. Passer lives in San Francisco with a host of imaginary cats and 2 very real houseplants.

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

Too Ashamed to Face the Forest

I came back
as a neon green fern
vibrant on a redwood stump

but it didn’t take
so I returned as a gray wolf
prowling outside the farmyard fence

but the rifle was accurate
and I reappeared as a plastic utensil
with a chokehold on a fish in the wild ocean blue

but that didn’t work either
so I took a walk on the trail at Muir Woods
my eyes closed the whole way

like some kind of sluggish rollercoaster
through a flickering fluorescent strip mall at twilight
I came back

Carrie Magness Radna

Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Carrie Magness Radna is an archival audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, an Associate Editor of Brownstone Poets Anthology 2022, a choral singer, a lyricist-songwriter, and a poet who loves to travel. Her poems have previously appeared in the Oracular Tree, Tuck Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, First Literary Review-East, Mediterranean Poetry, The Rye Whiskey Review, Spillwords.com, Poetry Super Highway, Shot Glass Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Brownstone Poets (anthology), Cajun Mutt Press, Tamarind, West Side Arts Coalition (WSAC), Adelaide Literary Magazine, Life and Legends, The Rainbow Project (Poets Wear Prada), Poets Wear Prada (podcast), Litterateur RW, Subterranean Blue Poetry, Trouvaille Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Home Planet News, Alien Buddha Press, Nomad’s Choir, Walt’s Corner, Polarity e-Magazine and The Poetic Bond (VIII—X). Her first chapbook, Conversations with dead composers at Carnegie Hall (Flutter Press) was published in January 2019, and Remembering you as I go walking (Boxwood Star Press) was published in August 2019.  Her first poetry collection, Hurricanes Never Apologize, was published in December 2019. Her latest poetry collection, In the Blue Hour (Nirala Publications) was published in February 2021. Her upcoming collection, Shooting myself in the Dark (Cajun Mutt Press) was published in January 2023. She won third prize for “The tunnel” (Category: Words on the Wall: All-Genre Prompt) at the 69th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (2017). She won 12th place “Lily (no. 48 of Women’s names sensual series)” by the 2018 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards, “all trains are haunted” (Non-rhyming poetry: Honorable Mention) of the 89th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, “May (a Pantoum)” (Rhyming poetry: Honorable Mention) of the 90th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, and “Pink (A Ghazal)” was the Third Prize Winner (Rhyming Poetry) of the 91st Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. Nominated: Best of the Web (2021) and The Pushcart Prize (2022). When she’s not performing classical choral works with Riverside Choral Society or New Year’s Eve performances with the New York Festival Singers, or writing art song lyrics with her choir buddies, or traveling, she lives with her husband Rudolf in Manhattan.

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

Bird arena

Third time today,
uptown on Broadway,
I saw flocks of pigeons 
gearing up for an orgy,
but this time,
they crowded onto the roof
of the 96th Street 
Broadway Mall Community Center,
(its roof is still dripping),
gazing out, keeping warm,
heads bobbing in-time,
watching the ongoing traffic
as if their crowd was listening 
to the music of the city,
an invisible rock show.

Afterwards,
when the music died down,
they exited in droves,
wings cutting the sky
of the Upper West Side 
all at once,
shaking the heavens.

April 3-9, 2023: Poetry from Richard Spilman and Sunayna Pal

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Richard Spilman

Richard Spilman was born and raised in Normal, Illinois, half a block from Main Street, in a house that backed onto Sugar Creek. He left years ago but still has the sense that Normal follows him everywhere.

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

This Was the Night

This was the night
the floorboards sang,
the windows haloed
light, and goldfish swam
in our joined breath.

This was the night
that at high tide
drew us from bed
to beach, to the pull
and scent of home.

This was the night
that paled to shadows
at first light, leaving
us bright and open
like twin suns rising.

Sunayna Pal

Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Sunayna Pal happily resides in Maryland with her family. Her poetry book, Refugees in Their Own Country (B&W Fountain, 2022), was published on the Partition of India. Her poetry is published extensively in international journals and anthologies. She enjoys working as the Director of ‘The Poetry Academy.’ She is also devoted to the practice of Heartfulness meditation. Find more on her at sunaynapal.com.

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

At the threshold

They left their khussa1 at the door
not knowing they would have to run barefoot.

They left the hot koki2 on the kutta ji thaali3
to eat daanon banana leaves.

They left the empty sky that never cried
ever thirsting to learn new things.

They left the Kafi5 in Siraiki6
to hear hushes, swears and cries.

They left the Cheti Chand jo mela7
celebrating their savior from Mirkhshah8.

They left the lights twinkling
only to see them from Dongar Hill9.

They left…
not knowing they’d never go back.

1 footwear
2 flatbread
3 plate made of metal
4 donation
5 a traditional form of Sufi music
6 a language spoken in Sindh
7 birthday celebration for Jhulelal – God of Sindhis.
8 mythological king said to have oppressed Hindu Sindhis
9 a place in India from where the lights of Karachi can be seen at night

March 27 – April 2, 2023: Poetry from Taylor Graham and Patrice Wilson

Send us your poetry. Click here for submission guidelines.

Taylor Graham

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the California Sierra. She lives between Placerville and Rescue, and served as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate (2016-2018). She’s included in the anthologies California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology, and Villanelles (Everyman’s Library). Her latest book is Windows of Time and Place (Cold River Press, 2019). Visit Taylor on the web here.

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

In Time of Climate Change

I was woken by the morning news local news
that all this month this new year is the same and
every daybreak new.
Our flooded dry-creek a foot higher, banks
slouching into flow.
The hospitals are full, they say, an old man refusing
to drink water because he’s in process of
dissolving into the flow.
Or was that the dream that woke me in the dark
of thunder lightning eye-level through the bedroom
window.
News I see and feel before the TV’s on, tornado
warning trees falling on houses in a field.
We’re an atmospheric river land as ocean, our
bodies mostly water and on the news the flat-line
wind that blows big-rigs off the bypass
highways flooded with their trucks and passenger
cars joining the flow.
Open the door to pelting rain dark as the sky
subaqueous
waiting for a glow of sunrise rescue
thin rind of hope over Sierra’s snowbound teeth.

 

I Wish I Could Answer the Question

On a Saturday morning,
walking through the deserted school, 
I stop to see what’s taped inside
a classroom window. Carefully printed
on each wide-lined sheet with a child’s drawing
was the answer to teacher’s question: 
In your opinion, would penguins
make good pets? The kids agreed, penguins
are cute – a plus for a pet; and they don’t pee – 
a plus for housebreaking. And yes, it would be fun
to swim with a penguin. Some kids worried
about being pecked by a penguin beak.
No one mentioned it’s illegal to keep a penguin;
or that penguins are threatened by introduced
diseases, pollution, tangling in fish-nets,
not to mention climate change.
Oh, to be able to imagine a world
with penguin pets, without the worries.

Patrice Wilson

Born in Newark, NJ, Patrice M. Wilson, is an associate professor emerita of English of Hawaii Pacific University, and a working poet living now in Mililani, Hawaii.  She has had 3 chapbooks, and a full length collection of poetry published, by  Finishing Line Press and eLectio Publishing, respectively. She loves writing editing, crocheting, making jewelry and not making money, all while listening to music.

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

Forty Years

Between two well-hewn mountain-rock walls
a parted Red Sea of our own making,

I travel north from Jersey, road sign
annunciations tell of alpine scenic lookouts–

“alp” in English meaning “high mountain,”
in another language “brave” or “valiant.”

I am neither of these.

Ahead, distant glimpses of higher peaks
marled with latest autumn colors.

But more than hills I long to gain a valley,
a spacious in-between where I could thrive,

land flowing with milk and honey–
fresh-water streams to fish and swim in,
a promised land deep, verdant, noiseless.

To journey there will take more than hours
driving down from highlands.

To walk across my own thirst–
it will take a long time.

March 20-26, 2023: Poetry from John Tustin and Wilson Taylor

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