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

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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.


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



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.


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.

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