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Other notable work by Jason Allen and David J. Bauman.


Brian Fanelli-

My father never carried a briefcase

never wore a suit with cufflinks
polished to gleam like shoes of lawyers or doctors.
He did wear white dress shirts, loosened top buttons
after work, the weight of his footsteps heavy enough
to make floorboards sigh.
Some days he scooped me in his arms,
until my world blurred,
until I dizzied and laughed.
Other days he yanked off the tie,
said nothing, even at dinner.
I never asked what he did,
only knew he clocked in at an army depot,
his Ford gone before dawn caressed my face,
the hours grinding enough that each night
he dozed on the couch, remote resting
on his belly, rising, falling with each breath.
Before he blared Chuck Norris westerns, I begged
to play catch, and sometimes, he complied,
despite muscle throbs and headaches,
despite the way a son notices
wisps of gray in his father’s hair.


Hearing Nirvana’s Nevermind

Electric Mindshaft on Lackawanna
is where I bought my first album—
Nirvana’s major label debut Nevermind.

I drifted through dusty stacks of CDs and LPs,
a consumer hooked by the cover of the naked baby
swimming towards the dollar bill.

Home, I cranked the boom box,
moshed with no one as Cobain’s tortured howls
and Dave Grohl’s snare drum kicks rattled walls,

the sonic assault loud enough to drown out
mom’s demands to shut it off
before my eardrums bled out.

Lost in “Lithium’s” booming bass,
I forgot about the girls who laughed in gym glass
after their boyfriends blocked my shots, pantsed me half-court.

Months later mainstream mags plastered Cobain’s face
on their covers, while he proclaimed,
corporate magazines still suck.

That fall, Nevermind thundered from cars.
Jocks head banged to “In Bloom,”
then pummeled punk rockers in hallways.

Concerts swelled with frat boy fans,
slurring, Play “Teen Spirit” again,
so they could bash more heads in the pit.

The rest of us rocked out alone,
too scrawny for mosh pits, but certain
Cobain’s pained screams were meant for us.


At the Front Door

I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep,
demanding to know why I haven’t called or texted,
why I accepted your Facebook request
but never wrote on your wall or liked your status updates.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep,
your hands still tightened to fists, ready to brawl
because of the time I threw you out of the apartment
after you said, Go on hit me, College Boy,
while your breath stunk of coke and whiskey.
I am always afraid that you will forgive me
and want to hang at The Bog again,
until you down enough shots and slur enough pick-up lines
that I have to drive you home, like all those times I did
after I returned from college and found you
working at collection agencies, where you counted commission
and sold pot on the side to pay rent.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep
and ask where I’ve gone, why I no longer call the old crew,
or drink Jack Daniels until I puke,
why I moved out of Scranton, into the ‘burbs,
why I got engaged when the activist I used to be
always said, Marriage is part of the fascist patriarchy.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep
and show me how personal politics and ideals change,
that you now zip around town in a BMW
and no longer spit and snarl at bankers, but have moved on
to hustling more expensive drugs or managing
collection agencies, circling the floors in a suit and polished shoes,
your barks and commands like the snap of whip
causing workers in cubicles to dial faster
and not hang up until the other end pays up.
I am always afraid you will show up at my doorstep
and confess that you’ve burned the Chomsky books
and no longer protest the mad money oligarch
because after years of working doubles,
you’re just too drunk or too tired to care.


The Gambler

Every Friday at 4 he circles cubicles,
waving lottery tickets, calling out,
Who wants to play Mega Mill?
Got a buck for Mega Mill
He looms over work spaces
while women fish in their purses
and men dig in their pockets
like red-eyed casino players
scrounging for change for another round.
On breaks he props the duct-taped soles
of his Payless shoes on plastic chairs and dreams
what he’d do if he hit it big—
punch out forever, yank off the tie,
toss the employee ID in the air
like a cap on graduation day.
He can almost see clear water beaches and hear
gulls caw, until the phone
buzzes back at his cubicle.


Road Warrior

By noon he logs 200 miles,
zigzagging from school to school,
downing Dunkin’ Donuts coffee
until his hands shake.
He pumps quarters into meters,
hikes six blocks to campus,
where full-time faculty fill parking spots.
He slips and slides,
like an ice skater losing balance,
then bends to fetch spilled papers
scattered across snow. He scurries
to another class where another set of students slouch,
text, fidget, pretend to care
about MLA, a lecture he gave twice already,
using the same air-chopping hand motions,
though such gestures could rouse the academic dead.
By 8 p.m. his feet throb
inside Payless shoes, pressed to the gas pedal,
while books slide across his back seat, then crash
to the floor, burying stacks of papers.
By 7 a.m. he unlocks his car, his office on wheels,
the Taco Bell burrito stench still strong.
Spent ketchup packets and crumbled wrappers litter the dash,
as he fishes for change to buy another coffee
on his way to another class.


Brian Fanelli’s poetry has been published by The Los Angeles Times, World Literature Today, Boston Literary Magazine, Blue Collar Review, Portland Review, and several other publications. He is the author of the chapbook Front Man (Big Table Publishing) and the full-length All That Remains (Unbound Content). Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and teaches English full-time at Lackawanna College, while completing his Ph.D. at SUNY Binghamton. Find him online at


Jason Allen-

Pale As Milk

I live in a constellation of memories
of visits to Grandpa Roy and rides on his bulldozer,
visits to the hospitals where Uncle Jeff insisted on illness
for the free room, free meals, the free cable TV,
visits through the phone line after midnight
when Uncle Culby wanted to play me a song
by The Who after a few days off his meds—
we never visited him
in the psych wards or in jail,
we never visited Jeff on the skids,
we never visited our own Pop
aside from Sunday afternoons,
and I wonder now
where he spends his Sundays,
or if his last was spent alone.

We never visited our family’s men for any celebration
until we collectively broke the law
when we broke into that golf course by moonlight
to scatter Grandpa Roy’s ashes
and I sat there in Pop’s driver’s seat, sixteen,
permitted to drive only with an adult
but only my thirteen-year-old brother beside me

as I gripped the wheel and squinted at the shapes
approaching from the darkness—the strangest
figures in full stride—my uncles,
wet from the golf course sprinklers, laughing,
and then Pop’s boots crunching gravel—
the first time I’d seen my father run.
And he too was wet, but also pale as milk,
not laughing, not even in the neighborhood
of a smile,
as I turned the key
and he shoved me from the seat
to drive.


Naked As The Night Is Long

Stopped at a red light, just after midnight,
I gazed up at a billboard and read:
If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs,
we’re here to help
. I reread the words
again and again, the streetlight still glowing red,
not another car in sight, no movement on Burnside,
not even the air—

not until a bicycle wheel flashed across my headlights
and the rider, an older man, pedaled by
naked as a winter tree limb.
The light turned green and a naked woman wheeled by
and then a sudden herd of bicycles,
a herd of human bodies all proud of their pubic hair,
proud of their flab, proud of their love handles,
their floppy chests, their bird-like pecs,
all those private parts shriveled upon their seats—

a laughing, smiling herd of children
unashamed of their aging flesh, their gray, their scars
and faded blue tattoos. A hundred of them or more
clogging Burnside, whooping and zinging handlebar bells,
until I’d waited there for three full cycles of the streetlight—

glad to have witnessed the naked bike ride,
glad to see the billboard offering hope
still had a phone number along the bottom,
glad not to have had any warning
that tonight would be the ride
that would bring the smile
I hadn’t known I needed—

as I understood how the drowning must feel
more joy than you can imagine
when they break the surface

and take in all the oxygen
of that first deep inhale.


Jason Allen is a poet and prose writer with an MFA from Pacific University. He is currently living in upstate New York and pursuing a Ph.D. in creative writing at Binghamton University, where he is an editor for Harpur Palate and at work on his first book of poetry, a memoir, and his second novel. His work has been published or is forthcoming in: Passages North, Oregon Literary Review, The Molotov Cocktail, Paterson Literary Review, Spilt Infinitive, Cactus Heart, Pathos, Life With Objects, and other venues. He hopes to one day meet Tom Waits and buy him a cup of coffee.


David J. Bauman-


While I was waiting
for the bus, Miss Shaffer said
“Get off the gate!
It’s not for swinging.”

But I knew better.

Another, on the playground—
I don’t recall her name,
But she yanked
me by the arm, right off

the swing set, and screamed,
“Don’t call me ‘old Lady!'”
I was only trying to yodel
(Yodaladie, yodaladie…).

And one time I wasn’t doing anything,
so I was sent to the principal’s office.
That was when days were for doing
nothing when you could.

When swings were for singing
anything that came to mind.
Fences were just in the way
and every kid knew the truth;

gates do that for a reason,
and it goes against nature
not to swing them.



In the Bible it happened—Fishermen, Levites
They just went away and kept on going
—William Stafford, from “Saint Mathew and All”

He asks me with a grin,
What advantage do you
young guys have over me

He stands there with his neat blue
cap and casual shoulders.
I cannot think of one.

Certainly not smarts, I say.
Wisdom would be the word, but seems
too cliché, too patronizing.

Not charm, for sure. I follow him
toward the door, while a clerk
shouts to me, holding up my bag.

He smiles and waits
as I retrieve my groceries.
When I was a boy, he says,

my mother’d make a list,
and I sat reading comic books
while the grocer filled the sack

We pass a few moments in the parking lot,
lingering for what reason, wondering aloud
where we had parked. I could leave
more than what I’d bought.

Someone else would eventually find
the car. My inadvertent tempter smiles,

Take care now, friend.
And I think, one could do worse
than follow strangers.



As children in the grave yard
we used to play a game
with flashlight and fear,
our minds scrambled
with a nervous delight,
a desire to be missed—
and then discovered.

Now we do like then,
but headlights pass on,
engines fade. No one waits
behind a tombstone here.

Tonight I help you home—
not far, just down the street
and across, but it takes time.
Weaving the sidewalk, we find
a stoop with three steps,
and rest a while.

No moon. No stars. No ghosts.
The other bars let out hours ago.
You and I discuss wives,
children and exes, our need
for gods, or not, thoughts
on the cross, crusades,
and inspiration, scripture
and verse, muses
and the history of prayer.

Eventually we rise,
walk wavering and slow,
not wanting you to go
as other greats have, downed
by a taxi near the tavern.

Seven more steps to the curb,
under a halo of light, you
bobbing slightly as I bring
you around. I am happy we are
here, aiming for your door,
and more than a little relieved
that the grave yard is outside of town.


David is a blogger, birder and father residing in central Pennsylvania. His poetry has been printed in various student and faculty journals. His awards include the Savage Poetry Prize from Bloomsburg University and the Academy of American Poets. He has recent poems published or forthcoming in T(OUR), The Blue Hour Magazine, Word Fountain, Watershed, a Journal of the Susquehanna and the Tic Tock anthology from Kind of a Hurricane Press.




Other notable work by Richard Merelman, Sharon Auberle and Catherine Jagoe.


Timothy Walsh-

Chanterelles, Portabellas, and Morels

The very first day the ice left the lake,
two loons appeared on the wind-awakened water
as she walked the rocky shore.

Within herself, she felt ice
still encasing her soul—
or if not her soul, at least the place
her soul should be.

Weeks later, at the farmer’s market on the square,
she held the enchanted horn of a giant morel,
thought of her husband that morning in bed,

remembered how the severed arms of the apple trees

At the kitchen window above the sink,
she cuts the stems from a box of chanterelles
while watching the backyard birds—
the plump mourning doves, always in pairs,
the peacock iridescence of the grackles
when they catch the sun.

Having known the lift of wings,
she feels her arms nearly useless things.

She takes a star anise pod from the sill,
the seeds still perfect in their astral case,
remembers how starfish littered the beach at Hatteras,
the red sands of Malpeque Bay with northern lights
quivering aloft.

For months, she was bewitched by human music,
the melodies seeming to offer a secret doorway back.
Now she wants no music, sits at dusk beneath
the front-door yews she no longer allows
her husband to trim.
Mushrooms are her music—
chanterelles, portabellas, and morels—
bloodless flesh feeding on rotted roots.

She sits in silence, waits for the stars,
looking up through the trees’ wingspread limbs,
yew needles furrowing the dark, filtering
the moon.

She wonders if there’s a way these evergreen combs
might remake her extravagance of hair—
some whispered spell or chant or curse—
or if she might best become a tree,
flying aloft in the breeze
while steadfastly rooted in the ground.



“People persist in the mistaken assumption that winter is caused by the earth moving farther away from the sun. But this is not at all the case. The cycle of the seasons is caused by the fortunate accident that the earth is tilted on its axis as it orbits the sun.” —Maurice Gampf

On this golden October day,
I can’t help thinking how this marble of a world
twirls around the sun—
the slight tilt of its axis the only reason
for these falling leaves, this deliciously slanting light,
the coming winter,
the resurrection of spring.
This slight tilt the only reason for eons of mythology
about solstices and equinoxes, sun gods, harvest gods,
Yule logs, and Easter eggs.

Without this slight tilt, without the four seasons
revolving on their merry-go-round way,
wherever would we be?
No land of midnight sun. No fall colors.
No winter-bare tracery of branches at twilight
bestowing glimpses of something beyond.
No migrations of birds or butterflies.
No hibernation of bears, bees, or frogs.
No such thing as perennials, dying back to earth
and rising again.

What would become of our deciduous minds—
shedding our sorrows and shattered dreams
as trees shed their leaves?
Our vernal resilience, budding hopes, and flowering desires
tutored by the temperate earth?

Without this slight tilt, what interminable sameness
there would be—
the days always equal, never a new slant of light,
the weeks and months running together
like successive bowls of oatmeal.

So let us all thank this tilt-a-whirl
of our slightly tilted world,
say a soft prayer, as I have done today
when I woke to this benediction of frost,
these crisply tart apples,
walked out among hay bales and blue silos,
the luminous pumpkins dotting autumn-brown fields.


Reversing Gravity

You might be wondering what I’m doing here,
hanging upside-down from monkey bars,
a mature, middle-aged man
not in playground clothes.
It’s my back, you see—my neck a nest
of tension and stress—
and my chiropractor tells me that traction is good,
anything to reverse gravity.

So I stopped here at the playground,
saw the monkey bars, smiled, and upended myself
as I’d done often enough as a child,
and I’ve been hanging here ever since, unencumbered,
looking curiously at the upside-down world,
feeling all the pressures and stresses drain out of me,
dripping down onto the playground sand.

First, my keys fell out of my pocket,
followed by my wallet and a rain of coins.
A clench of worry passed, and I felt a thousand pounds lighter,
wondering what life would be like in an upended world—
no keys to open the doors that have closed me in,
no wallet bulging with credit cards, IDs, cash, receipts—
and the world, you see, the world—the sky, the trees—
looked so utterly fascinating from this tumbled
point of view….

And so I’ve been hanging here from the monkey bars
for perhaps longer than I should,
but I just can’t seem to find it in myself
to put my feet back on the ground.



At the stroke of twelve, feel
how each day teeters,
teeters on a precipice,
clock hands pointing straight up
like two hands joined in prayer.

The twelve inches etched on rulers,
the twelve hours marked on clocks,
the twelve months of the year’s creaking wheel—
all tell us to measure well our allotted time,
our plotted space
and count each breath that brings us closer
to our last.

We package things by the dozen fatalistically,
as if it’s foreordained—
the eggs we carton so carefully,
six-packs, twelve-packs, a case of twenty-four,
a box of donuts, always a dozen,
the perfect circles of dough
whispering of eternity.

Why this endless catalog of dozens?
We are taught to think in tens,
but our lives are bound by twelves.

At the piano, count the twelve notes within each octave—
seven white keys and five black,
darkness interpenetrating light.
The ladder of tones follows the wheel of hours.
C ascends to a higher C, just as twelve comes round
again to twelve,
midnight to noon, noon to midnight,
the hours growing narrower and narrower
like the tightening frets on a guitar’s notched neck.

How easily we could measure out the difference
between destiny and desire—
the shortfall of shattered hopes and scuttled dreams
recorded as so many inches, months, or hours…
as so many minutes, miles, or days not granted us
before the dark auctioneer nods.

Tomorrow, pick twelve apples
and savor one each day,
then pick twelve more before the last is gone.

If pressed, barter apples for hours,
handing apples across to death’s boney hand,
the apple seeds hidden within
like shards of hope infiltrating
the land of dust and stone.


Timothy Walsh’s most recent poetry collection is When the World Was Rear-Wheel Drive: New Jersey Poems (Main Street Rag Publishing). His awards include the Grand Prize in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the Kurt Vonnegut Fiction Prize from North American Review, and the Wisconsin Academy Fiction Prize. He is the author of a book of literary criticism, The Dark Matter of Words: Absence, Unknowing, and Emptiness in Literature (Southern Illinois University Press) and two other poetry collections, Wild Apples (Parallel Press) and Blue Lace Colander (Marsh River Editions). Find more at:


Richard Merelman-

A Practice Piano

The used upright Steinway that our entire savings have bought dangles overhead
like a cargo container
being off-loaded from a barge. Its ebony bulk sways from a hook on a hoist
three stories above

the pavement. It should fit by an inch through our window. It’s too heavy
for any dolly
to mount the back stairs. Jane and I have been married a month of squabbles
about laundry, meals, cold rooms.

She is eager to sight-read a Schubert impromptu for her first class at the Conservatory.
The Schubert should flutter
like a hummingbird among poppies. But can it, on such worn strings, so gravelly a bass?
Still, there’s a burnish

despite the sound board crack that reminds me of my own voice whenever
we argue
about who should scour the bathtub. Plus the damper pedal muffles resonance;
harmonies are hard

to sustain. Some keys virtually plead for new felts to synchronize the hammer-strokes.
The timing is off,
like her hour of yoga at bed time while I drink wine, or watch the late show,
or read myself to sleep.

These are kinks that patience will repair, the way a good piano tuner will wait to hear
the pitch lift
less than a quarter-tone. Now the piano’s shadow engulfs us. I rub Jane’s shoulder blades.
The movers winch their load

toward our casement. One of them mentions that a baby grand recently slipped
its belted riggings
and splattered the street. The piano wobbles, tilts, bangs the sash, skims the sill.
“Here we go,” Jane says.


The Inheritance

His wife phones from the adobe house
where her mother has lived alone, and lies near death.
The house squats at the end of a dry wash where only
cactus grows, a species that mirrors her mother
in its spartan lines; its spear point spine;
its spiky stems, like needles that inject venom
into those it punctures, those with skin
that is easily pierced, like the skin of his wife.

While her mother sinks into the sleep that erases
every dream, his wife confesses that she
slipped outdoors, heard the howl of a distant coyote. The wind
sandblasted her face. She staggered to a ragged thicket
of cacti, a jagged tangle with magenta blossoms.
She says she pressed her breasts against the thorns, dug in deep,
mimicked her mother’s breathing, bled.

She begins to sob. He murmurs “I hear you,”
guesses that she hasn’t eaten, can barely brush her hair.
Soon she’ll scatter her mother’s ashes, gather tattered letters,
board the plane home. What should he say when they meet?
Should he even speak? She could cry for weeks
in a blackened room, fingernails ripped to the quick,
her back to him in bed. He imagines her arms barbed,
clavicles pricking her neck. Will her wounds
fester, raise scars, or yield smooth pale skin?


Richard Merelman taught political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as other universities, for thirty-five years. His poems have appeared in MAIN STREET RAG, MEASURE, STONEBOAT, COMMON GROUND REVIEW, and VERSE WISCONSIN, among other journals.
His sonnet, “Civil Inattention,” won Third Honorable Mention in the 2012 Triad Contest (Poets’ Choice) of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. His first volume of poems–THE IMAGINARY BARITONE (Fireweed Press)–appeared in 2012. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.


Sharon Auberle-


on the street of crooked houses
it’s the only yellow one
and I wonder if Becca’s dad painted it that way
to match the bus he drives everyday
the one we kids who go to Holy Angels
don’t get to ride because Becca’s dad
only goes to Lincoln Elementary
where kids don’t have to go
to Mass every morning

and they don’t have to confess things
like how lots of times they hate
their dad for not being there
or how sometimes they lie
that it wasn’t them who broke the vase
or threw that eraser at Tommy
who’s always looking up girls’ skirts
on the playground and it makes them mad
enough that they call him the worst name
they can think of and then
they have to confess that too

but it’s okay because tonight
I get to sleep over at Becca’s
and pretend that her slow-talking
pipe-smoking daddy is mine
and the yellow house too
and even her brother James
who sometimes calls me bad names
yes, even James…



in the next life
to be brunette
answer to Sophia
play flawlessly
a Stradivarius
while wearing only
sleek red dresses

resolved next time
to henna the tips
of my hair into flames
blaze out of darkness
imagine my whole life
I am fire

resolved yes
in that future life
to carry always
the audacity of belief
that you will not
again break my heart



…everything we touch turns to a poem
when the spell is on.
~Linda Pastan

the mystery of cornstalks
murmuring among themselves

a brown-skinned man
in orange serape
walking between them

the slump of his shoulders
tugging at my heart…

from any of these
a poem might grow

but today
there is only the man
light streaming down on him

he, who could be an angel
for all might be holier
than we know

his serape, fiery
in morning sun
the wind lifting it

like wings


Sharon Auberle is the author of three poetry collections– two of which also contain her photographs. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her work has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies, both on-line and paper copy. For reasons which are still a mystery to her, she has authored a blog–Mimi’s Golightly Café for seven years, which contains a potpourri of her images and words.


Catherine Jagoe-


After Louis MacNeice

As if we were still so deep in love as if
the seas had not ganged dry or sands run on
and you and I stand locked together on that cliff
where skylarks burble new as first world dawning
your eyes a deeper blue drowning and drinking
one another in this one interminable kiss
sundazzle spangling sea below
a cup of sky our tears unshed sea pinks
a sweet breeze blowing and your face unlined
and all our years unlived drink from this cup
of eyes sky sea and lips and time will stop
our fears unrealized the dregs of rancor
still undrained and still that summer’s day
we two enfolded blended melting fused



At Target I survey the clothes available for boys.
All sports or war-themed, in drab loden, navy, brown.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.

No turquoise, grape, cerise for them, no coy
velour or glitter, sequins, ruffles, gowns.
At Target I survey the clothes available for boys.

How soon they are cut down, hemmed in, small joys
denied them—painted lips or toenails frowned on.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.

Take my friend’s ex, who owns a .22, thrives on noise
and gives his son a buzz cut every time he comes around.
At Target I survey the clothes available to boys.

Face-painting is for girls, except for camouflage, when boys
can daub themselves, or football. Touchdown.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.

A man I know loves watching how a fighter jet destroys
a Baghdad target on his laptop, smoke puffs on the ground.
At Target I survey the clothes available for boys.
My son is tugging us toward the video games and toys.


The Dogs of Love

I hear him crowing on the wooden fort,
the boy my mild son worships like a brother,
hear him taunting and my child’s faint answer
from below, defensive, sounding hurt.
For something in the air has shifted. A cry,
repeated. Impatiently, I trudge around to see,
and find my child weeping, laced with pee,
dark ribbons on his hair and shirt, while I
am speechless. Visions of my own best friend
whispering to us girls once, “Let’s be men
and piss on that wall.” When I demurred they swore,
ranks closed, claws out, street-tough.
How savagely we punish difference, weakness, love.
And yet we keep on going back for more.


Catherine Jagoe is a freelance translator and writer. She is currently spending a year in Spain, although her home base is in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a PhD in Spanish Literature from the University of Cambridge, England, and is the author or translator of six books. Poems from her collection Casting Off (Parallel Press, 2007) were featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Daily. Her poetry and essays can be found in Gettysburg Review, Chautauqua, Apeiron Review, The Common online, American Athenaeum, North American Review, Ninth Letter, Atlanta Review, and other journals. Her website is



Other notable work by Janet E. Aalfs.


María Luisa Arroyo-

Odilia, Tell Me the Story of Your Name

for Odilia Galván Rodríguez, August 2012

Odilia, tell me the story of your name.
Is it a flower in bloom? Or does it mean patria,
or the mirage of a childhood home, now lost?
Through Google, I learn of Santa Odilia
and find poetry in the story of an 8th century nun,
who was born blind but granted sight
after being baptized into this world.

Odilia, you share truths as painful as bee stings
about this patria, the mirage of promise,
as SB 1070 flays the rights of our peoples,
whose names bloom with “o”s and “i”s and “a”s.
May their names blossom with thorns in the mouths
of those who mispronounce and persecute
as they grope for our identity cards.


In Search of the Word before Aftermath

Aftermath, I understand.
But is there a word for the stage before that?
Terror skewers open your eyelids
12 nights in a row in a room that you share
with ancient men who imagine walking
when they have no legs.

DNR or full code. I cannot understand
the asking. My voice flattens
when you want me to explain the difference.
Standard procedure. You are in a ward
for the dying. On the 13th day,
you come home.

Arteriovenous Fistula. You don’t understand
the need to create a portal for your blood
to flow into and out of your failing body.
Your heart forgets to beat 50% of the time.
And your kidneys, exhausted beans in your back,
forget to remove the water that bloats
your amputated legs. You pee perpetually.

Is this now the time for faith?


What Matters is Space

Mami, it doesn’t matter the number of saints
you dust off and cradle upstairs
to line the bureau of the bedroom
that you share with Papi
as he frets about the possibility
of an a.v. fistula to save his life
because his kidneys are dead.

It doesn’t matter how carefully
you measure out the cups of water
he can sip per day or sort the pharmacy
of pills he swallows, dry-throated,
or how you read the scale
as he, double amputee,
trembles on air.

What matters is space.
Space for him to rail against God
And then beg for life.
Space for you to retreat
and to stop hovering
like a hummingbird of death.
Space for me
to find the words for him to hear
that it is his choice
that – life or death –
it is his choice.


“Pain Becomes a Source of Wonder”: An Oxbow Gallery Visit

for poet Janet E. Aalfs and visual artist Susan McDonald White

Tremulous eyes leak blue love as we walk through the doorway.
Her body, taut. A harp unstrummed for months.

I taste your energy on your lips- milkbreathpure. Full open.
Willowy Crane, you are sister to Turtle Woman.

Hyponatremia: The artist, S. M. White, shows a brain
splintering and “pain becomes a source of wonder”.

Sculptor, the fullness of your statues has fled, as has your love.
The thin slate plates pressed against the wall flatten your spirit.

Here is there. Gears are worms. Carrots are swords.
Balls are breasts that spurt graphite milk. Under/stood.

Wool gloves burn as we dare to turn each page.
Tiny French words landscape each figure’s round flesh.

Umbilical and telephone cords are cut then dangle in space
like thick pasta. Eyes ogle, mouths gape. No words.

Words over here fragment and slip under white-out.
If you find the place where love fires up in my brain, press it.


Die Nur-Frau: The Only Woman

after “Die Nur-Frau” aquarelle by Hannah Höch, 1943
[originally written by the poet in German]

I am alone, the only woman here
in this forgotten Eden
of trees near Berlin. It is 1943.
Naked, I plant my feet,
curl my rooting toes in earth
and walk slowly, the rub
of my trunk-like thighs a whisper
of silken flesh. My left hand
I extend behind me – a tiny goddess
wing – while the other brushes my thigh.
My breasts hang heavy and free.
I am not retreating into Nature.
I am Nature – female, organic,
vulnerable, strong, resilient,
and ripe with hope. It is 1943.
Naked, I plant my feet
and know that I am safe – for now.
When the Nazis storm in, I know
they will overlook the art of my body
stained with watercolors
because I am only an old woman
and the only woman here.


A Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Fellow educated at Colby, Tufts, and Harvard, María Luisa Arroyo has published poems in journals, including CALYX and PALABRA. María Luisa’s first collection of poems, Gathering Words: Recogiendo Palabras, was published in 2008 (The Bilingual Review, ASU). Her poetry workshops include “The Power of Code-Switching: Poems Don’t Have to Be ‘English Only'” at the 2012 Split This Rock Poetry Festival. With acclaimed playwright, Magdalena Gómez, María Luisa co-edited the anthology, Bullying: Replies, Rebuttals, Confessions, Catharsis.


Janet E. Aalfs-


Eyes on the ground, branches
bare, drawn like a flame-
blue thread through silken
mesh to the other side, I felt
my mind pulled upward, gaze
precisely tuned, no startle,
no flight, as dark antlers held
the light between us taut.
So skillfully the weaver stitched
our meeting fully shimmered.
That moment spread like wind
in feathers across the Oxbow.
Then a car appeared
on the empty road, and a man
jumped out, phone in hand
to shoot. But all he got
were the trees the buck
had stood among more still
than my heart, palms together,
fingers soft on my lips,
and the sky kept bleeding
gold, and hoofprints in the leaves
told nothing.



A stranded Starcraft, windshield jagged, sits

in a cornfield, tipped to leeward, hull full of leaves

and river sand from the Oxbow shore.

The January wind must have floated

it in from Mars, no motor,

no gas, not even a ghost

to steer it through deeper currents

that hold me now. In the bow

a plastic rug, aqua as a swimming pool.

In the stern a purple ice tea can dented in rust.

My father loved the salt on his arms,
and sun
 splashing his face.
When I drove that boat

I was nothing less

than an osprey hitting the waves

eyes first, and the stun

of clear green ocean in my beak

shattered every sound.

All these years beyond

I’m only beginning to speak of

what I found.



I watched her open
a spiral of hair
the way I remember
dividing embroidery thread
one strand into many
each able to slip then
through the eye
of my needle multiplying
the number of stitches
I could sew

Now I recognize
that long ago
motion in her hands
able to find
in every breath
the listening
uncoils a fiber
the weight of light
between us
stars that guide
and blossoms to mark
the crossroads
freedom’s quilt


PREACHER: Coal River Mountain

he opened the ground like a book
to plant his chosen words
in glistening soil by the headstone
that tilted like a body wanting
to fall into moon-drifts

our long starving hopes

fearing the dark too close
in their eyes he shivered
like a golden bird
caged in the damp shaft
poison gas prayers dispersed
lighter than breath

thine image

doubting his own music
he applied his hand
like a bandage
or a wound

stamped upon this clay

irises that wilted
shoulders hunched
in the chill
raindrops sliding
through the gully
at the base of his skull


Janet E. Aalfs, former poet laureate of Northampton, MA and artistic director of Valley Women’s Martial Arts/ HAVPS, has been a Dodge Festival poet, performer/ educator in Cape Town, South Africa, workshop facilitator at Split This Rock, and presented her poem-movement weavings all over the world. Her books include most recently Bird of a Thousand Eyes (Levellers), and her writing has appeared in A Fierce Brightness: 25 Years of Women’s Poetry (Calyx) as well as many other anthologies and journals.



Other notable work by Peter V. Dugan and Claudia Van Gerven.


Christina M. Rau-

The Trouble With Glasses

The dead look so awfully
dead except in the dead of winter
when the lenses fog up
transitioning from cold to warm
even in cooler temperatures
inside of homes for corpses and coffins.

This prescription is five months old,
lenses thick and heavy,
growing thicker every
six months or less,
smeared with fingertip oil,
proof of why museums don’t allow
human touch towards antique statues,
ancient sculptures, modern paintings.
The prints blot out the city views,
ocean views, reviews of theatre,
films, novels, and the ballet.

The macular degeneration slow-
ly creeps in. The optic nerve
deteriorates to the point where
fashionable frames become just that:
fashion—as do the need for lenses
lest the magnified appearance of
blind eyes becomes chic.

No power or curve or laser
will assist in making
blurs become less of themselves,
or even more of themselves.
Arms squeeze too tightly.
The bridge pinches too much.
Better glasses than these
get buried after morgue and mortuary.

Muscles take too many breaks.
Pupils to pull towards each other.
Lids pull down. Tired of seeing
a live world. Tired of seeing


The Trouble With Sleep

This would be Fall—
October—before true
Autumn gives way to
iced winds.
There is a night within
the night.*
The inner drains souls dry
more quickly than death;
the outer welcomes sleep,
restless and false in peace.
Any light that seeps in
casts more darkness
in the shape of shadows
that move in the periphery
through sideways glances
that make heads jerk to see
nothing there except what
they thought was there before.
Sometimes we’re more boring
in the dark, less ugly,**
but the beauty of the night breaks:
so fragile the bone structure
so weak the contours
so thin the skin of it.
Loudness is a horrible secret***
revealed in the stages of R.E.M.
It screams from skull wall
to skull wall
until the paralysis wears off.
The pinch shoots straight up
into the cerebellum and beyond,
that shock, that scent,
that envious grasp of timeless spice,
the mottled, cratered, nullified surface
the hand sweeps across
accidentally and shakes away
like a spider web,
only the spider stays
when the web dissipates.
Its seven and a half legs
crawl with endless reach
as it searches for warmth,
a glistening thin line tracking behind
until light comes,
but it’s a temporary remedy.
It fades, always and every.
It succumbs to gnarled, desiccated trees.
It defaults to a gavel slammed down.
It loses to thick muddy Earth, frozen,
sticks in and sinks down,
devoured daily
in an effortless flow of ether.

[* Frank Bidart’s “To The Dead”
** Graham Foust’s A Mouth In California
***Norma Cole’s Where Shadows Will]


The Trouble With Swimming

Even a thimble-ful of water
kills oxygen dead.
Little sacs inside pink lungs
give up the attempt to pump
when they get wet.
One second of drowning
becomes the longest two days
of your life, the time to ponder
lessons by Georgia O’Keefe:
“Nothing is less real than realism.”
or by J. Benys:
“Before I was shot, I always thought
I was more half-there than
or was that Warhol?
Under water
in dull-almost-
sometimes it’s hard
to remember
who said what.
It’s like being a drunk sailor
at the mermaid bar
trying to make all the gals
flip and flick their tales
by buying round after salty round,
but all that really gets accomplished
is wasting a paycheck that would have
been better spent on spinach
or an anchor tattoo.
The mermaids will never be
impressed by men with two legs
who can’t walk a straight line.
They know dolphins who can do better,
and dolphins don’t even have limbs.
Dorsal fins are highly underrated.
Yet the call is there:
the sweet, littering, soft crash,
water over sand over water
over sand over
and over again
into the breakback
harmony to the Siren’s
melody, back to the break
of dawn the body remembers
even though the waking mind
does not, back to before
when oxygen came from liquid
straight into the lungs—
that’s the appeal of it,
that’s the false security,
or it could be real
if the will is real enough to test it.


Chasing Zero

I want to know what green is.
I want to know if what I call green
is what everyone else calls green
when we all watch Dorothy
walk down the yellow brick road.
I would have to be in someone
else’s head to know for sure.
I would have to be John Malkovich
plus everyone else.
Max Weber told me on a museum wall
that “color must be more than a color,
a form more than a form.”
Yet he still cannot clarify for me
the green conundrum.
Color can play tricks on your mind,
making you mistake vanilla for marshmallow
with a simple slight change in white hue.
There are some chemical compounds
we can smell only when they evaporate,
like coffee and chocolate.
Those compounds are volatile.
Green is not one of those compounds.
Instead, green is a reflection of light
caught inside the prison of a prism,
locked in the middle of a rainbow’s arc.
There are people who can taste color.
They call themselves synesthetes.
They say green tastes like almonds.
I’ve heard cyanide does, too.
The liquor store up on Sunrise sells
propane and cigarettes.
That is an interesting business model.
That’s also the place where after
a rainstorm the sky grows clear blue,
clear enough to relieve your sinuses,
where the buildings part and reveal
complete rainbows as the humidity disappears.
It smells like springtime.
It tastes like grass.
Grass is green,
a non-volatile substance
that smells freshcut long after
the gardeners leave with their
gasoline-fed mowers.
Maybe that’s what green is.
A lingering newness. A fresh break
from time. A universal subsiding.
Something that simply clicks.


Consumption of Space

A bright room is a vacuum,
all heat and light,
all colors vibrant and willing,
pulled in towards one apex
dull and hard.
The speed of light is
186000 miles per second
700 million miles per hour
denoted by c.
That makes breathing near impossible.

The nothingness fills the room,
pushing against itself
while the rest pulls
towards invisible boundaries
that grow out and up.
The formula for volume is
length times width times height.
The point when taking notice will
mean something passes.
Only remnants of that point
remain to mock, to scold,
to turn scornful eyes.

Under a magnifying glass the room
grows but so do its objects
so that illusion won’t work anyway.
The area of a triangle is
one half its base times its height.
The shortest path between two points
backfires on itself,
proving what it was trying to hide all along.


Christina M. Rau is the founder and director of Poets in Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island, NY. She teaches English full-time as Nassau Community College, where she serves as Editor In Chief of The Nassau Review. Her works have most recently been published in Prime Numbers Magazine, Aunt Chloe, and Handful of Dust. When she’s not writing poetry or blogging, she’s watching reality tv, of which she is only a little bit ashamed.


Peter V. Dugan-

The Ho-Hum

Inside the poisoned ivy covered walls
of the center for termination,
a room is filled with witnesses
as the eternal deathwatch continues.

A lifeless body lies on a bed surrounded
by bouquets of gargoyle gladiolus and black dragon lilies.
On a table to the side, a pineapple pen and paper await,
a death certificate to be signed in black-cherry ink

Artificial life support ceased.
A do not resuscitate order will be enforced.

The cardiac monitor still beeps and bumps.
The chest rises and falls in faint rhythmic breath.
Cerebral intellectuals and other attending physicians of the inhumanities
predict death is imminent and wait for the patient to flat line.

While, wild-eyed overzealous, overeducated academics,
coroners of literature and art, are at the ready to dissect
and perform an autopsy on the body of work.

Morticians pace the hall in anticipation to embalm the corpse.
But don’t know if it is to going be cremated, buried
or mummified.

The body begins to spasm and tremor
Is this the rattle? Is this the end?
The body bolts upright,
sprouts wings,
rises above the bed
and flies out the window.

Out on the streets, life goes on.
Little or no crowd gathers any moss
amid the blend and meld of music
a cacophony of natural and unnatural sounds
flow into the jazz like euphony of existence
but no one seems to pay any attention
as it never was
but forever is


It’s Totally Art

The city skyline is invisible,
or is it just
a consciousness contrived
by a counter-culture conspiracy.

There is no point of reference.

You’d chase that high
all the way to Manhattan
to experience a systematic instamatic
cinematic collage of images
granted powers beyond the nature
of their existence
by linguistic acrobatics presented
by illegal Mexican midget wrestlers
aliens from outer space,
who only rant and rave
wreaking havoc and mayhem
curled in the fetal position,
weeping like virgins
leaving graffiti marks on the walls,
bruising egos and shattering self-esteem.

But, you are always filled with the fear
of being deported to a jazz bar in the city
like a rogue asteroid exiled
from the community of planets.

So, burn them in a sacrificial flame
scatter the ashes in the wind.

That’s why God created IKEA.
But they don’t deliver
in the red rust glow of twilight.
it’s time to face reality.


Oasis of Chaos Theory

innocent satanic goat heads
adorn art class avatars
street level Cossacks
and Dali wanna-bees
as the silver bullet trio of snobs
play clarinet, tangy steel piano
and out of tune cello

anemone gladiators spew verse
recite odes of gun-port malaprops
while the sharp edged co-anchor
co-authors unveil a wired vat anthem
of misnomer ear candy epaulets
filled with alien slang sarcasm
to garner old flame Elysium stand-ins
and amuse runner-up vestal virgins

shed rabbit tears
as a village voice cries in the wilderness
tied to a gothic chain link fence
enforcement of a weedy leash law
enacted by red face rat race atonal icemen
who inflict seedy red-hot exclamations
to provoke a bar room brawl

whiteness wastes away
as they drink low end olive oil
a spot of tea and manta ray ale


Peter V. Dugan
was born and raised on Long Island. He is a graduate of The New School in New York City. He has published four collections of poetry, Medusa’s Overbite, Members Only, A Cul-de-Sac Off Of Main Street and Getting IT@The Oswego Tea House. He is the Nassau County coordinator for The North Sea Poetry Scene and hosts readings at the Oceanside Library and Wyld Chyld Tattoo and Café on Long Island. His major influences have been William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Frank O’Hara and Jack Kerouac.


Claudia Van Gerven-

The Uses of Angels

–If an Angel deigns to come, Rilke

all moon-pearly and gorgeous as an iceberg
will he melt and leave the polar bears
to master the back stroke?

Or will he dissolve a lone star in a pale heaven
fizzing like expensive champagne?

There must be a song in this–

or at least some bit of musical theater, a rousing
chorus with lots of high-stepping
amber-lit as sunset, moon
a slim slice of vermeil.

Geese keep coming and going–
lonesome honking–
quills shed by the lake as if
they had words in them.

Are they heralds, those restless V”s
scrawled across the moon,?
Do they presage something Other?

Why do we pray
to every four-leafed clover– its fate
as green and perilous
as our own?



Isis swirls a swift wing, whiff of ozone
surmise of thunder in your shiver

wink of a dark iris
and you are alone again on that shore.

Plovers thrust small white breasts across
unaccountable seas. Do they conceive

a destination? In what do wings believe?
The goodness of air. A wave ripe with fishes.

What do nets of coral retrieve? Tiny first
urges tumbled in sea and the forests

of kelp tangling at your ankles, a cat’s
cradle, blooming new

with each wash of waters– and it happens
without your consent, like air

green and sticky in your lungs, coming
and going without thought.

What can you know in that slim throb
of light and the vast

heave of night– there a stone sea washed
in moonlight, here the muscled door

of oyster? In her shouldered shadow
in her sweep of winged light, slices

of what’s lost, what’s found.


Later Than You Think

Swaying is a discipline to the sea grasses
rooted in a vast restlessness
as stiffness to mourners among headstones
another casket draped in skirl of pipes lurching
toward pearling gates we don’t believe in

The one-eyed imaginary rakes the desert
from its green pyramid of symbols. The masons
have deserted their temples. The sphinx waits
a mouth full of accidents. Shoppers huddle
in their tents waiting for Black Friday

The fallout, they say, was a cloud of
purple dust, a fiduciary wafture
through the weeds, under the docile hooves
of cows. Childhoods withered among
the nettles, the red stone

Dying takes a long time. The gingko unrolls
her green ampul into the flat palms of
an new era. Wars are no longer cold, but scorching
gritty. Debacles at six and then cocktails
We collage lives with pixels and glue sticks

Think of the rigors of rowing, the dragonfly
lifting transparent signal
flags across the waving heat
of Utah desert, lighting on pointless
needles of Saguaro


Claudia Van Gerven is a published poet who teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder.. Her chapbook, The Ends of Sunbonnet Sue, won the 1997 Angel Press Award and her full-length manuscript, The Spirit String, has been a finalist for the Backwaters Poetry Prize (1998), the Verse Poetry Award, (2000) and the Bright Hill Press Poetry Prize (2003). In August of 2003, she won a Residency at Hedgebrook Farm Writing Retreat on Whidbey Island, Washington. She also researches and writes about feminist pedagogy, writing pedagogy, and women’s literature.



Andrea Potos


Give me the nearness of water–
boats cleaving wind-brushed
gem-green, molten grey, and sails
birthing full colors to air–
the way a child might wish
for the sight of her mother
through an open door,
arc of her mother’s hands
turning the pages of her book,
stirring the broth on the stove;
the ruffling of her skirts
as she moves, her hair
accepting whatever light
passes through the window.



My daughter tells me she doesn’t like
the light of late afternoon, those hours
when the sun
is drawing down and the air
takes on a molten hue
that makes her think of autumn.
I hate fall, she says, the beauty
of the leaves
doesn’t make up for their dying.
I don’t know how to refute her,
nor can I manage to agree, looking still
to hold those moments
of ochre-gold, before the falling
my daughter already can’t help but see.



Before I laid
down this rope–

spent hiss on the ground–
I admit

I joined
the continual

being pulled–false

friction of desire

that chafed
and sliced

the palms
where my lifeline lay–



Oia, Thira

once when the Greek sun
had its say
over the terraces and cliffs,
the lapis water of the caldera
waving and blinking Yes.
Even the feral tabby settled
on the veranda
where we stared,
where we breathed
stricken by beauty,
a word we would not understand.



When people say: Welcome back
to the real world
I want to tell them how I awakened
to Romans passing through the piazza
outside our windows, how one day a woman
in a red coat eating a pastry stopped to clean
her sticky fingers in the fountain that sang
even through the nights,
that men strolled with their newspapers
and cigarettes, and children chased pigeons
on the uneven cobblestones everywhere
that made me aware how it is
I walk on the face of this earth,
on my way to the forno where a tall,
silver-haired man sliced long slabs of
pizza bianca just emerged from the ovens,
how he smiled Prego! when handing me
the gold bread glistening with oil and a sprinkling
of peccorino romano, and I left to devour it
while walking in the Campo di Fiori where
vendors sold me plums and berries,
miniature bottles of limoncello and bags
of rigatoni, spaghetti, and candied almonds
that dissolved on the tongue; along with pendants
of murano glass and jackets stitched with ³Italia²
in red and gold letters–Italia–that country where I
slept and breathed and dwelled for
nine spacious days, there in the Mediterranean–
on the map nearest to Albania, Croatia,
Greece, beside the life-sustaining seas.


Andrea Potos is the author of four poetry collections; her newest is We Lit the Lamps Ourselves, just published from Salmon Poetry in Ireland. Potos work also appears in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry East, Wisconsin Review, Women’s Review of Books, Southern Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Beloved on the Earth (Holy Cow! Press), Claiming the Spirit Within (Beacon Press), and A Fierce Brightness (Calyx Books). She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her family.



Other notable work by B.Z. NIDITCH.


John Grey-


In darkness, heart pumping, just enough blood manufactured
to make a difference to my dozing body.
Laughter rises up out of the lawn. I’m on my bicycle
steering it in ever greater circles. Shannon is
tossing baseballs like the girl she is. One lobs near my head.
Almost topples me from the saddle. The day is
composed of its elements: oxygen, nitrogen and Shannon.

Even before I sleep, dreams are restless to get to me.
My head is clean white canvas. Summer-scapes are all the rage.
Back comes the trembling moment right before the sigh.
Stream gurgles. Eyes pop. Grass smells like another species,
soft, scented, fortunate in its spreading ease.
Shannon takes my pale white hand. Shannon…
no lovelier bearer of that name.

All night long, recollections tip-toe around an ancient August sun
Blood thinks it has the night off but no, it must feed my brain,
wash away the leftovers.
Feet dangle from bank. Some swimming is accomplished.
Boy, girl, emerge dripping from the water.
They kiss. Girl says his name softly. Boy can only whisper “Shannon.”
This never happens when I am wide awake.
But the unconscious mind has more of me to go on.



You have thought about it interminably,
in grubby kitchens, on trash-littered tenement steps,
how you never asked to live
and yet here you are,
how Bobby never wanted to die,
so why isn’t he dawdling home now,
across the park, by the basketball court.

The lids of your eyes dig into your cheeks like knives.
How do the murderers, the thieves, the liars,
ever get what’s coming to them, you wonder.
Your brain feels like an overweight backpack.
Nothing more will fit and yet more has to fit.

And here comes the mailman
no postcards, just bills.
No one says, wish you were here.
Just stay where you are and pay for it.



What can I say? It’s an alley-way.
It’s a rough part of town.
There’s an old man sprawled
with his back against
the crumbling brick wall
of an abandoned shoe factory.
The best warning he can give
is the sight of himself
He grips a bottle like it’s his Bible.
It saves him from everything
but his thirst.
What can he know if me?
Has he ever read “The Great Gatsby,”
listened to Erik Satie,
indulged his European forebears
on the Grand Canal in Venice.
Maybe he was a fighter.
Maybe he drove a truck.
He can’t be me.
Bet he has no scrawled record
of every busted love affair,
each family slight.
Can he open a book of
himself at twenty, at thirty, at forty?
The only drunken poet I know
is Dylan Thomas
and this sure isn’t him.
Probably the past is so drunk out of him
that only today happens.
“Spare change?” he grunts.
What can I do?
I need my changes for my work.



He cheated on the car as well,
the lease in both their names.
And that couch has been cuckolded
in the extreme, likewise the television
where the deceit on-screen is merely play-acting.
In fact, the entire room where they
sit together is such a victim of duplicity
its paper starts to peel, once bright green
turns sickly yellow.
What doesn’t feel something even if it
doesn’t know the woman’s name?
The bed? No way three fit
but does the one now lying in it
know she isn’t even there?
And what about this kitchen?
Wasn’t the way to a man’s heart
through his stomach?
She feeds you him but that
dumb stomach has no way these days
of passing on the romantic information.
Pots and pans, relentlessly cheated on..
Knives and forks… if they only knew
they’d jab the life out of the traitor.
He turns on a tap to wash his bands.
Dirt gurgles down the drain.
So that’s what water is… collusion.



The rickety ship rattles as much
as it tosses.
The grizzled man beside me
is glad just to be sea-sick.
His cousin died of cholera yesterday.
His baby caine down with typhus this morning.
His wife curls up in a corner and sobs.
There’s as much blight on us here
as rotted any a potato crop.
We huddle down in our field
of rats and sickness
to putrefy, to fester,
while we whisper of our days in Ireland
like we’re talking of the dead.

The ship lurches, the sails
slap into a wild frenzy,
the cables whip across the decks,
lash the squealing masts.
Will we ever reach America, I wonder.
I fall asleep a little.
A dream of Kerry hills.
is quickly dragged into
the swell of nightmares.
My head floods with the heaps of corpses,
too poor to be buried,
and the faces of the landlords,
grim and hard as unfertile, rocky soil.
And there’s the crowds of the nameless,
down at the gray and foul-smelling docks?
shunted into such a coffin ship as this,
and the eyes turning around,
staring back at that
green, despairing land
with the last of their bitter love.


John Grey is an Australian born poet, works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Poem, Caveat Lector, Prism International and the horror anthology, “What Fear Becomes” with work upcoming in Big Muddy, Prism International and Writer’s Journal.




That nervous blind
of the blues
here at midnight
in packed clubs
living in the torque
and tongues of Bird
a stranger sweeps
by open doors
with a fugitive face
ashen with pale
runaway snow kisses
in spare arms
of chaos
asking to dance
“the pocket”
she made up her own
downtrodden steps
in unfamiliar corners
on the clay floor
in unfamiliar corners
absorbed by whispers
in vigilante beats
against a graffiti wall
of a lost sax
taken up by flashlight
of mercenary love.



Very seriously
the first of winter
is here
emerging flakes
beside us
as blind snow
kisses chestnut trees
your eyes open
as volcanoes
on cold mountain air.


B.Z. NIDITCH is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including: Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Budapest), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.



Other notable works by Hannah Larrabee and Michael Fisher.


Jenn Monroe-

with thanks to Uncle Walt & Nina Marie Tandon

is so
easy to
get stung up along
electrical line white noise buzz
shoestring tangle, dangled into voice swarm head rush noise–
when we are nucleus, embryonic charged, merge of small and large, the outlet.


Destiny Would Be Hyperbole If It Weren’t So Obvious

No, she does not look like me. She is pink where I am yellow,
her eyes blue, mine green. What you see is our history, linked
as we are, by something I know exists but cannot name. Not god
as you think of god, but perhaps goddess as they do in the East.
I wrote of her the day she was conceived by others, woke with her
name on my breath. What she will mean to this world I cannot imagine,
but I do know she lifts the mood of a room. I joke, magic baby.
She scares me in this way.


In the Absence of Patience

Mourning doves nest in the eaves above our side door
and I watch them sit on what will be their brood. I can see
only part—one sweet head, one gentle eye blinks curiosity
at my two blinking back the same. Other birds have young
peeping at them at the feeders, but these doves waited
until their nest was done. I know the anxiety of their wait.
What will happen when the baby arrives? Will they protect
with their lives the one for whom they’ve built everything?


She Asks Me To See Myself At Seventy

Gray hair spins around my face like cobwebs, and I settle
in a faded red wingback chair facing a window.

It isn’t a bright day.

Dressed in a turtleneck and pants faded to match dried hydrangea,
posture straight, but gentle, my breath does not fog the pane.

Brambles gnarl my garden path, knotting tightly at the gate.
Tea shivers in my grandmother’s rose-print cup.

Ash dusts the book fallen open in my lap, cold embers
from the fireplace behind me.

Beyond this, the large room withers.


Growing Season

My roots sink into compost—potato peels, green pepper guts,
stringy stuff from bananas rotting.

You’ve got to stir it up, spread it around, use it for planting, otherwise
it’s a pile of decay fit for flies. I pretend I’ve lost the key to the tool shed,
the shovels are in there and so is he, waiting for me to let the light in.

In my first memory he is backlit in front of a gray tent. In photos he sleeps
while I nurse empty bottles, toddling in his shoes.

In a dream I shot him inside the paneled office of his repair shop.
I walked into a lovely day—shirt sleeves, cobalt sky.

Some things grow wild with neglect, even under your own roof.

Thick branches burrow, heaving linoleum and concrete like ice.
Long fingers extend beyond soil to mantle, straining,
for the warmth at the core.


Jenn Monroe is the author of Something More Like Love (Finishing Line Press, 2011). She is an assistant professor of writing and literature at Chester College of New England. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Petrichor Machine, Tygerburning Literary Magazine, and The Lindenwood Review among others.


Hannah Larrabee-


“Voyager 1 will cross the heliopause sometime within the next one to three years,
making it the first human-made object to come in contact with what lies beyond
our solar system.”

Snow is the backdrop.
Things continue
to live
quietly, unharmed,
only hushed.

A child is carried
in this way
through city streets,
blanketed and warm:
a universe
of safety.

We are meant
to stay within each
other, to leave
the confines is to feel
silence. One town over
a man’s wife strayed,
so he wounded
another man
then turned the gun
on himself.
He left her alone.

Out there,
in a bolder place
than this,
Voyager 1 nudges
against the heliopause;
it is the farthest
we have ever

No one waits for it
save for a few
and the morning
news. And no one
waits for her,
not anymore.
The papers all say
he was only good,
the kind of man
who cannot be

Voyager 1 snaps
a photograph
over its shoulder:
the Earth no bigger
than an egg
glowing in uterus.

Snow is the backdrop.
At home, she wraps
herself in a blanket,
no longer home.

Voyager 1 turns
off its camera
and listens
to darkness.
It is not silence,
is it.



Oh, the things we pour
into glasses
to get at each other,
to get outside
the daily one-room schoolhouse
of living;

think of how
we have done this over
and over, and still
are no better at it.

Oh, eloquence of booze,
wounds reopened,
rifts revised,
in vino veritas;

think for a minute
back to when you asked
for us to share one last drink,
(it wasn’t the last)
to talk about things
we never had before,

and think back
to how we left the bar
early, not one thing learned
despite drink.

Oh, there was anger then
heavier than a barn door
pulled together
and padlocked;
there is nothing drink
can do to anger
but allow it to speak.

Oh, but we do not need it now
and so we ask for it
(in love) in warmth,
we ask for it
in the conversation
of dinner,
in the conversation
of old films,
in the patience required
to teach me to dance.

And not needing it
frees us,
leaves me smiling
into your shoulder
so that you won’t see all
my happiness
as you spin me around
the room, oh,
a slow building


Hannah Larrabee lives in two worlds, and the only thing that seems to follow is her writing. By day she works in radio, by night she teaches writing, and in between there is always writing and the reading of writing. She considers herself tremendously lucky to have spent several years studying with Charles Simic, to have completed an MFA in creative writing, to have engaged in two fields of work that keep her going, and to have found one person who happens to be the subject of quite a few love poems. She’s also a newshound and a fan of pre-prohibition drinks, and conversations that involve both of those things.


Michael Fisher-

Live Music and Cocktails at Ralph’s Diner

Short necks, long necks
lines of brown bottles
and shot glasses shine
like cubic zirconia
under a blanket of seared beef.
The bouncer uses his degree
in engineering from MIT
to shine a mag light on Ids.
Consecrated night, late summer.
Days get shorter
before black jean boys and girls,
who twitch to top forty spinning
through their bodies,
feel a hint of a new fall.


Worcester, MA

This is an ugly city.
The old man stretch pastel shirts
over their guts, patina skin–
empty espresso cups
flies and ants, also ugly
lap ouzo out.
The school kids
single file and second hand
next to stucco mud side buses,
yellow paint behind their bruised hair–
almost parody of their fashions.
And the punk, blood dried
like cinnamon spilled
over his shirt and mouth
grinning to know his left canine
is swaddled like a newborn
in someone’s fist.


Michael Fisher lives in Worcester, MA. His first collection “Wolf Spider” is available through plan B press.



Robert Klein Engler-


They are together on the campus grass.
Sophomores, maybe, on the grass not far
from Old Main, not far from Jefferson Hill,
not far from the overhanging chestnut
tree that has yet to cast an inky shadow
and darken the fresh, spring grass.

She reaches over to place her arm across
his chest, then pecks a kiss. Quickly. Look
up! Did any one see us kiss on the grass
by the wide chestnut tree, not far from
Old Main? Did anyone see the first kiss
of spring on the green, green grass?

I did, and remember the tide of green
that rushed in me, overflowing the dam
of books, to flood all my good intentions.
What rose in me rises in them, so I won’t
tell them about who sleeps below the grass
or of the church bell that tolls the hours.

I won’t tell them how a kiss tastes like
earth and grass. Why ruin the surprise.
I won’t tell them how they say all flesh
is grass or how to turn the grass to words.
Let them find it out alone by the dogwood
flowering white and the yellow tulip bed.



There’s always something left undone.
There’s always the dark heartache that
never sees the sun. There’s always the wish
that flies away and the hope for just one
more day. Always, always, the deep well
of the heart. Always, the magnolias and
the corrugated shack, always the trusting
cattle, heads bowed down. Always, the
confetti of swallows against the evening sky,
and the clack of wheels that say, “good-bye.”
Always the urge to tell, always, the rusted plow,
and a darkened window with a half-torn shade,
always the wanderer from home and noontime
bells, the broken promise and the poem.

Always the silence of the grave, always
the bed, the sigh, the wave. Always a golden
bauble just out of reach, always the cypress
hung with moss, the white heron on its glide,
always the cross and the doubt like an itch,
always the holding on and the reluctant
letting go, always the swallowed, “No.”
Always grass in summer and in winter gone,
and something in the soul like a splinter,
always the drought and the flood, always
birth and blood. Always fire and water, sons
and daughters, always hail, always nails.
Always the sky above like hands that bless,
always the prayer for grace to say, “Yes.”



There’s a pair of crutches on the overhang,
above the doors leading to the Jackson
Station. You can’t see them from the street,
but you can from the fifth floor of the King
Edward Hotel. OK. What’s the story, here?
A miracle: “Upon arriving at Jackson, suddenly,
I could walk again.” Or just common cruelty?
“Dem mothafuckers took my crutches and
threw dem up dare. Lord, what I gonna do?”
Then, there are those who think it’s funny.
Or maybe just the same old daily trouble.
No matter, “Trouble gonna cost ya money.”



The fuckin’ L runs late, so I am late.
A homeless guy then greets me at the stairs,
his hand held out. I never take the bait.
Some emo brats go through the doors in pairs.

Last night the garbage laid in frozen piles,
the union called a strike. It’s been a week
since they rolled out a truck. The turnstile’s
broke. This transit thing’s almost antique.

My girlfriend says there’s drugs at school.
The sales tax is now past 10 percent.
My friend got fired. She told a joke. The fool.
Milk’s high. Why I can hardly pay the rent.

Still, I can’t decide: Adopt a Chinese kid,
or get a compost bin without a lid.


Robert Klein Engler lives in Des Plaines, Illinois and sometimes New Orleans. Many of Robert’s poems, stories and photographs are set in the Crescent City. His long poem, The Accomplishment of Metaphor and the Necessity of Suffering, set partially in New Orleans, is published by Headwaters Press, Medusa, New York, 2004. He has received an Illinois Arts Council award for his “Three Poems for Kabbalah.” If you google his name, then you may find his work on the Internet. Link with him at to see examples of his recent paintings and photographs. Some of his books are available at



Other notable work by Amanda Fields, Nancy C. DeJoy and Christopher Hornbacker.


Nathan Prince-

Driving through Deer

I was fourteen
my dad
let me drive
he gave me
a beer
and I took
a few more
from the cooler
when he
passed out
in the passenger
we were
to Tennessee
we were
going to
back then
I drove
straight through
the Illinois night,
into the abysmal
black heart
of it all
and ecstasy
it was easy
the vehicle
like a physical
of myself
with one
the car
veered left
one twist
of the wrist
it sailed right
into the black
heart night
of the abyss
I kept drinking
the empty cans
out the window
took a cigarette
from the pack
started smoking
just ahead
a small herd
of deer stood
in the middle
of the road
they all turned
toward me
their eyes
like gods
with one
I hit the brights
to hypnotize
and accelerated
the car jumped
forward we
sped forward
through the heart
of the night
black abyss
and ecstasy
straight toward
through them
their beautiful
golden hides
all illuminated
and eartips
their breath
and white
tails ringing
my dad
stirred you want
me to drive
now no
I want to
I’ll drive


The Wrath of the Corn King

Half the civilized world believes I’m flying through
clouds alone in a hot air balloon Dad – the astronaut
farmer – built in his barn. Coast Guard helicopters
have been sent to intercept this strange creation, silver
and UFO-like, and save me from certain doom, my eternal
fate. Earlier, Dad was testing the strength of the balloon
under heat. He lit the burners and studied the gauges.
When he went back to his work desk to check a conversion
I unloosened the tethers and slipped into my hiding place.
My shadow passed over his shoulder. He looked up to see
me in the sky, and so Icarus reincarnated took flight.

An extraordinary burst of flameshot lifts me up off
the ground. Some gases are lighter than air, he explained
to me, so now I, too, am lighter than air, sailing up over
homes and buildings, just like my dreams where I soar
over treetops and telephone poles, or leap from rooftop
to rooftop. There are no bounds anymore. I’m floating over
mountains and cornfields, slipping into orbit. My freedom
defies him, the corn king, whose wrath I will incur because
of it, whose appetite grows with every solar cycle like tree
rings. The more he eats, the quicker he dies. The quicker
the death the sooner the resurrection, and so Icarus…

Regardless of him and the cycles I am reborn once again,
yes, my flight the total consummation of every human
imagination. Every dream. If not me then another possessed
by the gift of flight. Destined for wind, rain, cloud, and sun,
the earth is no longer my home, gravity no longer necessary.
Dad is always there at his desk with the calculations. Farmers
go on planting, ships sailing. I’m past the meaninglessness,
zipped past it like a rocket ship, so that you may know
and recognize the tragedy, comprehend the scope of floating
and flying, manhood and irresponsibility, drifting, unbelievable.
If not me then another… simultaneously known unknown.


Hanggliding over Crete

A vivisection of these mountains would bear the remnants
of every major civilization to pass through the Mediterranean.
If you could reach down into the soil you’d find figurines
of women pregnant – the original god – the same prehistoric
relic spread all over Europe and Asia. Egypt is not far south,
could almost smell the sand, but here it is fertility and earth
mixed with sea water. On the bus to Knossos, dilapidated
Venetian windmills stand on crests near waterways. A picture
book in your lap, you can’t stop looking at the one of youths
flipping over bulls like acrobats. A series of cryptograms
line the balustrade. Supposedly the city structure had indoor
plumbing. So here is where they sang of moonphases, star
changes, rebirth, the Minotaur lurking through the labyrinth,
and of the one who flew too far toward it: his eternal splash.
Going back, a hang-glider leaps over the edge toward the valley.
Phaestos Disc in hand, a key-ring souvenir from the market,
don’t know if it’s Linear A or Linear B, if it’s pre-Phoenician
or not. But today it doesn’t matter. Earthquakes, volcanoes,
tidal waves, the mythical Atlantis…. You don’t recall ever
seeing anyone actually hang-glide. How in the hell do they
land with their feet in that position? This man must be some
sort of daredevil. Lord, what a view! What an endeavor!


Chasing Bobcats

The second time you surprised me,
leaping up from the horizon, running
full speed across U. S. 41 in the violet
dawn, outrunning sunlight, it would seem,
sublime and super-coordinated, before I
could even concede recognition, disappearing
into a corn field, then became the eventual
fruition of all possible reckonings: a shadow
in the wake of your impossible stealth. The first
time, though, was as if I were expecting you
(again), pastel daybreak, a dirt lane leading
to a boat launch, shadow phantom, crossing
a river path, and still another transposition.
I often wondered if that was the extent of it,
walking, waking oblivion. A cat at the end
of a tip of a bough of ash, it would seem,
a glimpse in Tennessee and a flash in Indiana,
déjà vu, engendering all subsequent and inter-
mingled déjà vu, your faint, distinct presence
permeates the new ground I’m able to turn,
boundaries, all the maps of my imagination.
I’m learning simply to live with the plain
knowledge you exist beyond, just beyond,
that, inexplicably, the wind brings it back.


The Handling

She smiles acquiescing to it all,
her eyes sharpened by everglade

the pool silver-blue, the mirages
radiating at the horizon, distant

fractured light scattered across
the bottom, polyhedra floating

and silver moving over it,
the waves, she steps onto her

whatever its scientific name,
this one would have been

its home the crystal palaces
of icebergs and ocean

stuff of Arctic legend,
keeper of unintelligible

social, intelligent, communicative,
supersonic, could track man
and seal

alike by vibration, speak:
leviathan, black-white beast

of ice and death, yin
and yang, and here she is
in a wetsuit

on a platform with a bucket
of fish and a head full
of tricks

as they line up and fill
the seats, she scans
the pool

thinking their language,
living their thoughts,

through their circles,
they cry out to her familiar –
she reaches

out with knowledge, dumb
love, out of water
into sunlight

they fly and twirl, back
again, spinning,
the unrelatable

bursting through air
over her, and then back
into the belly

of the whale, wondering,
‘What did I get myself into
this time?’


Nathan Prince has studied writing all over Illinois and currently resides near Chicago. Most recently his work has appeared in Burning Word, Subtle Fiction, Permafrost, and Euphony. He enjoys running around.


Amanda Fields-

One Pine Lake

The Iron Range appears untouched but
bristled, once, with human feet.
That first realization –
oak trees in the hills
spawned by whorled fingertips.
We spread open a map of lakes,
curtained origins of names.
In the cabin we pour wine from a blue bottle,
swallow a pressed taste,
digest doilies and wolves and red velvet,
the moon-blue plate of One Pine Lake, and
the paddle slipping, and
how long it would tease on the surface, and
where it would go, and
how far down.



He cups hands behind his ears
closes his eyes
calls for prayer.

It is a new campus
in the desert
beyond Cairo
where you cannot hear
the echoes of muezzin upon muezzin.

The student newspaper captures him.

He is quoted:
males and females
on this campus
should not interact.

The philosophy course
should not be required.


Black Desert, White Desert,
we pace a bowled arena of flower rocks
our heads bump in the jeep
habibi, habibi
so much habibi from the radio.

Our drivers fast,
ply us with water in refilled plastic,
their English trickling toward us.

They seem pleased by our efforts toward Arabic.


Makeshift mosque on campus
Someone keeps hanging signs:
Lower your gaze before women!
Why aren’t you veiled?


At the hot spring
an old American in her bikini,
the stench of sulphur
boys requesting allum and filooz
you are free here, you are free
says our guide
a desert patch of Egyptian clover,
trifolium alexandrinium
tended by a barefoot man while
I piss behind a shed while
we swim in concrete while
we eat baladi and fuul, and
everyone is fasting and
everyone is starving and
the spring runs through the hut
before a palm tree holding bars of soap
for washing feet, and
we are served and served.


I remember that student,
the one who stands in the photograph,
palms cupped behind his ears,
eyes squeezed shut,
calling and calling for prayer.

Each time I returned an essay,
he caught the pages with two fingers
placed as far from my fingers as they could get.

He recoiled.
I cannot allow for a softer verb.


We must have a Bedouin meal
under the stars
on a sand dune
You must, says the guide.

The driver overshoots the dune
our faces mashed in seats
upside down
we grasp for each other.

The fire is an interpellation
between stars and sand.

Whole chickens roasted,
we are requested to dance,
you must dance,
they insist. Dance.

We lie against the cold slant of the dune.
We do not know what to do with each other.
We do not know how to absorb these stars.


Amanda Fields, a Pushcart nominee received an MFA from the University of Minnesota and an MA in English from Iowa State University, and she is pursuing a PhD in Rhetoric, Composition and the Teaching of English at the University of Arizona, where she is a Crossroads Scholar. She has been published in Indiana Review, Brevity, Cerise Press, and Superstition Review, and her work has been reprinted in The Compact Reader: Short Essays by Method and Theme.


Nancy C. DeJoy-

Being and Not Being

There are spirits among us,
so close they brush up against
our cheeks and hearts,
appear to us as birds, or deer, or flowers.
There are ghosts among us,
so distant that they empty
our souls and mouths,
appear to us as blank spaces, or lost memories, or work undone.
These rhythms of being and not being
merge into clusters of
trillions of cells and series of bone,
appear to us as ourselves and one another.


Spike Heels

I have a pair of unworn black
spiked heeled sling backs
sitting on top of their box
on my dresser.
The curved heels and silver ring clasps
make everyday a question
about if the weather has turned yet to spring.
This hope merges with a more general
sense of the inevitability
of sex and spring
inspired by the fact that
a new load of wood arrives tomorrow.
Once it is stacked in rows in the garage
I’ll put those shoes on and do a
hip-swaying rendition
to Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love”
that even February won’t be able to resist.


Age and Change

There is freedom in age.
Waves of letting go
hit shores
of change.
Grains of life’s texture rearrange
themselves in patterns
outside of the lines
and we are what we will yet become.


Nancy C. DeJoy is a writer and a professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. She lives in East Lansing, MI with her cat Lily  in a house full of art and music. Nancy is currently learning how to play the drums.


Christopher Hornbacker-

At the Head of the Table

There may be only one room
in this world, furnished
with a table of places
inadequately set–cracks
in the bowls that the soup
slips through, chips in the china
cups that cut the lip.
Who has been invited?
The virulent, cultured aunt,
the twice-daily drunken father,
the cousin whose breasts
cause you to perspire.
The list progresses
to family friends and casual acquaintances,
one-night stands, total strangers,
the Pope’s chauffeur–all are there,
supping into the horizon
of your table,
as if demonstrating perspective.
The filter of voices strains
meaning from the air.
No one seems to notice
the ambition of this
meeting of selves.
Can the Senegalese barber
seated down by the stuffing
senses the tension as butter
passes from the hands
of the New Haven minister
and into those of the geneticist
from Bombay?
When the imam from Ahvaz
takes his seat beside
the punk-rocker from Beijing,
how many blessings must be said
or unsaid before a single fork is lifted?
Before somewhere, beyond the point
where vision ends,
at the head of the table,
someone fiddles with his napkin,
wonders about the weather
and waits to excuse us,
or to be excused.



This is what happens. A vista
collapses into dimensions ungraphed
by the geometer’s tool—
the soul peeling away
from the finitude of earth
measured in the familiar
landscape shapes
into a voice, a pulse, a strangeness
of the body’s fluids,
a forceless resuscitation of dreams
neither fulfilled nor destroyed
but only busied,
donning the guise of things
feared just moments ago
it seems, when I was fifteen—
Berlioz, his witches in the woods only half knew
apple blossoms and the transformation
into mature sex organs,
fruits meant not
just to be tasted, but carried
into a vigorous continuity,
how we see each other—
in terms of sex
everything else is almost,
an adequate accident,
ancillary, like later, my loss
in your hair fawning out as a symphony
of lush darkness, a forest full
with the things forests contain.



They always go before us,
the slanting, stumbling, ambling
remains of living like wounded trains,
tracks that wind like the parts of a clock
until sprung and stopping time,
always easily derailed
by some penny on the tracks,
a wish in a well of green,
its mantle of moss pondered,
the rough cut stones that ring the water
so far below that the sun never reaches,
like the darkest waters of the ocean
where the creatures that can,
make their own light,
iridescent, frightful,
like oxidized copper,
some slow bobbing in the depths,
lanterns held out,
lures for the foolish and small
that feel the hunger of never surfacing.


The Artist

These alders receding against
the mundane beauty of poppies, so alizarin
and obvious in the foreground,
but how color clings to each
ingenious detail, the whorls
perfectly balanced somewhere
between thio violet and dioxazine
purple, stamen reaching toward darkness
of lenticulated bark, an achievement
arranged by the strokes of some brush,
composed for you, you thought—
the way it would feel
if it were your will to touch,
if only you were present
as the alders, the poppies too,
as more than an artist
at his painstaking task
of reproduction; a mystery
when compared to the simplicity
of wind and insects that do their work
effortlessly amidst a day’s
persistent scumbling.


Christopher Hornbacker currently resides in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where he is pursuing a PhD in poetry at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers.



Other notable work by Bryan Borland and Joanna S. Lee.


Ray Sharp-


Turkey vulture, buzzard, carrion-eater,
a dark tension soaring on dihedral wings

tipped with light primary feathers like
fingers reaching apart, stretching beyond

what’s possible, taut to nearly splitting.
Linked eyelashes blinking in the sun,

tracing spirals on blue-sky thermals
above the golden mapled ridgeline,

one, two, four, fifteen vultures now
circling not to a kill but to a change

of season, each blackness marked
by a featherless head, purple-red

like an open mouth, a ravening beak
to pick clean the carnal landscape.

The tension is not life and death,
it is that tautness that keeps us

circling miraculously on thin air
like a love poem, like the tenuous

and ethereal mystery of you and me.
No poem, my love, can fly carrying

the weight of cliché vultures massing on
an upswelling wind like death angels.

Look again, watch them glide
with the flick of a feather, see the way

love floats away, just out of reach.
Then came the storm, after a hot,

dry season, a torrent upon the dust.
You could tell me not to say parched land,

not to talk of tempestuousness after
the long summer of our discontent,

but listen to the argument of hot and cold
resolved in sudden winds and sky tears.



Squatting in the boarded-up brownstone
of your fin-de-siécle love, in moieties
of decay and splendor, sophistication,
world-weariness and fashionable despair,
I say “It’s not habitation but rather my art”
when they come to evict us, I call out
“Don’t come in, I am painting a nude model.”
My brush hairs stroke your intimate SoHo,
my fingertips chalk your pastel breasts.



Celluloid lovers caught in the rain
hold sections of the Sunday Times
over their heads and run for cover.

Inside the planetarium, they stroll across
the lunar surface beneath ringed spheres
and the mute gaze of pinpoint stars.

They come from a planet with air
and water and wedding announcements,
Arts and Travel and The Week in Review.

What do we really know about gravity
and attraction, the stark silence of space,
the ineffable mystery of love?



Heads bowed into winter rain,
we tramped across the Village
to a Korean bodega for chiles
and tortillas, tequila and limes.
Arm in arm we splashed
through the neighborhood,
my Loisaida girl and I.

It was our season of bilingual
wordplays, when you teased Poggi
at the hotel revolving door
by calling him oggi, Italian for
today, the only day that counted
for two lovers spinning ‘round
the axis of right now

in a wedge of whooshing kismet.
Fifth floor walk-up packed
with friends – I’m chopping salsa
while you pour frothy margaritas.
Was that the night Mark
did his funny mouth thing
in the gay bar by the little park?

Following you up the ladder
by the fridge to the sleeping loft,
oh long-legged temptress, your freckles
the stars by which I navigate
this uncharted territory, your easy
mocking laughter my siren song
above the lulling waves of Tracy Thorn

on a distant shore, head in her hands,
singing so keep your love and
I’ll keep mine. Morning, bright sunshine,
walking south into the new day,
to Canal Street to buy acrylics
at Pearl Paints. I will paint you
the Renoir of the beautiful woman

in the blue dress and crimson hat
and the girl with the chapeau fleuri,
and I will remember forever
your face, your auburn hair
damp and tousled, your cheeks
flushed pink, the very last time
we made love.



You are too young for this, so tall and thin
and beautiful, sleek and sophisto in straight-
legged jeans, a soft pink sweater and scarf
to cover your hairless head, your left breast
gone, a fresh scar stitched across your heart.
Lunch at Sofra Bakery, Cambridge,
passed much too fast for me, one hour
after twenty-some years, but time
is a one-way ticket on the express line,
and you can’t unwind the past’s
long and complicated spooling.

We talked of your four children
and my three, then it was goodbye again.
I took the inbound to Park Street, then
the E train to the Museum of Fine Art.
You know me, straight to the Impressionists,
Monet’s water lilies and haystacks, poplars
and poppies, bridges and cathedrals,
then Renoir’s “The Dance at Bougival,”
a young couple outdoors at night,
his face behind the broad-brimmed hat,
her eyes drawn to the fallen blue flower.

His left hand is on her waist, pulling
her close, her breasts pressed against him,
his breath beery upon her flushed cheek,
waltzing as the night sky twirls around them,
making me dizzy and nauseous. You betray
no malice for the way I left you that muggy
August afternoon on the train for JFK, but
I have never forgiven myself, never stopped
asking what if. This is not about you, Ray,
the dancer said. I know, I answered to myself,
but we each are responsible for our own healing.



The path of desire
does not follow right angles
or obey the warning signs.

It cuts diagonals across vacant lots,
crawls through holes in chain-link fences
and trips through broken glass.

Bloody footprints mark the way,
one set flat and wide, the other
with narrow heels like ripe red plums.


Ray Sharp is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from the rural, rugged and remote western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His work has appeared in many print and on-line journals and anthologies, including Astropoetica, Bolts of Silk, Caper Journal, Eclectic Flash, Misfits’ Miscellany, Poetry Breakfast, Qarrtsiluni, Referential Magazine, and Voxpoetica.


Bryan Borland-

Instructions on How to Approach the Bereaved

Do not dance around
the dead elephant in the room.

Do look over your words in the mirror
and remove the last sentence
before it leaves your mouth.

Simplicity is always best.

Do look them in the eyes and say
I’m sorry for your loss


Please let me know if you need anything
even if
you secretly hope
they won’t.


Recalling a Last Conversation Between Father and Son

I am angry at myself for not
staking his words to my hollow chest
so that these spaces of excavation
and mental archaeological digs
would hold more artifact. We talked
for five minutes, joking about
mortality and the missing spines
of politicians. The rest,
I’m not sure, layers scraped away
by the trowel of sleepless nights,
dreamlike words hanging
like dust in my throat, as reliable
as the stories we give to bones
found buried in the sand.


Introducing a Grandson to His Grandfather

You will know him through your own
sense of humor, the practical jokes
of heredity that make your eyes water
to the detriment of friends.

You will know him through acts
of kindness, the anchor of heart
that compels you to share your treasure
with less fortunate pirates.

You will know him, little Noah,
when a cat stakes her purring claim
against your leg, when you walk
the first of many dogs on winter nights.

You will know him in your name,
in your knees, in your near
tone-deaf ears that hear melodies
beautiful in the absence of pitch.



Another one, yesterday. Another sympathetic doctor,
another nurse in tears despite her hardened arteries.

Thus it begins: the planning of a death at some unknown point,
weeks or months or years from now; the slow snuffing out

of life; the pragmatic brother with the carpool spreadsheet,
colored cells, who will take dad to chemotherapy; altered cells;

who will police the family meals and remove all talk of disease;
who will scrub his clothes to rid them of the stains

of hospital waiting rooms and fevered incontinence.
Another one: pancreas. Another one: liver. Who will

be the first to think of medical bills in the unmentionable
context of our dwindling inheritance; who will be strong

enough to see frailty. Another one: lung. Another one:
blood. Who will spend lunch hours hunched over keyboards

reading words like terminal and metastasized and radiation
and the size of a walnut. Who will rationalize the slow burn,

be thankful of goodbyes, be grateful of the order
of finality known long in advance.


The Day Cemeteries Change

Like a backyard quarterback
I kneel with my bare knee to the dirt

to settle the flowers we leave
against the winds of our absence.

The morbid nature of cemeteries
has died with you. It is family,

this place. It is my duty
to patrol these grounds,

to straighten the silk roses
on the graves of your neighbors,

to wipe the bird droppings
from my high school teacher’s stone.


Bryan Borland is a multi-time Pushcart nominee and the owner of Sibling Rivalry Press, a small publishing house based just outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. His first book, My Life as Adam, was one of only five collections of poetry including on the American Library Association’s inaugural “Over the Rainbow” list of noteworthy LGBT publications of 2010. He is also the editor of Assaracus, the only print journal in the world dedicated to the poetry of gay men. For more about Bryan, visit or


Joanna S. Lee-

today even

the saddest love songs
sound thin at the elbows,
stony and shallow like
river waters at the beginning
of reckoning season.

can seem soft on first
contemplation of
sinking; the slate
of moonlit hearts full
with mystery & wrapped
in sweaters against the chill
of autumns that have been.

some nights, they itch.
some days, there is no cure.


better unwritten

we keep
secrets from our
secrets, locked
in the box on
that dark shelf in
back of
tomorrow. i
trace your name
in the dust on
its lid, whisper
useless lull-
a-byes to
yesterday, realize
there are
some loves
we cannot


off the tracks, by the water

the spray over the rocks is
luminous; ducks
chase each other in
dark shallows; herons
fish in pairs, build nests
in high branches. you,

you make me want
new lingerie. i love the way
it looks like linger, like
that trick you did with the
strawberries, that time
we got tequila-drunk

at two in the afternoon. this
is the poem i should have
written then, weaving line
breaks into the space
between our breaths as we
dreamed of sea air.

but we are far
from the ocean here, do
our best with river-sand
and stolen seconds,
making silent promises
in sunlight that the river carries

to her mouth
& in her bones: this will not
end as it should.


there is a poem

in the exquisite onslaught
of early May traintracks,
late night rainstorms; swooning.

plume of cavalry. a little
girl tips back a big bottle, up.
up. we compare commit-

ments, strawberries. i was
committed, once. it was
raining then, too. barefoot.

no white horses. no
pink rose. like the bath scents
i brought mother that

last time: rose, pink, bottle.
she never usedthem. this poem
is supposed to be

about other things, not
mothers and bottles: thunder,
the whistle of trains

in darkness. skipping
over rocks. barefoot,
rivers can be

dangerous: no
white horses there,
either. it is

early May after all: who
will catch you? strawberry-
blonde, he called her.

she wrote him love poems
but even they were not
happy. fuck happy poems,

she tells me. poetry
is always barefoot. even
over broken glass.


poem about termites

In Verse.S.54.9 of the Samhita, it is stated that sweet ground water
would be found near a termite mound located east of a Jambu tree at a
specific distance of 15 ft to the south of the tree.

These things you should
know: love always leaves
written traces; one must

only drink absinthe when bro-
ken; and though i have no
talent for endings, there are

worse things than this:
there are worse forevers.
if you find yourself looking

for me between them, always
take the road South;
seek a mound east

of the Jambu tree; listen
for the telltale trickle.
The tick of time

chewing into your heart
will slow, and it will
smell like fresh sawdust

sprinkled on a painted
ocean. that will be
the last poem.


Joanna S. Lee lives in Richmond, Virginia where she spends her time searching the riverbanks for unborn poetry. Her first book, the somersaults I did as I fell, was released in 2009. Her work has been recently featured in such journals as Right Hand Pointing and qarrtsiluni.



Editor, Lisa Zaran

ISSN: 1095-732x

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2007

January - Roger Humes
February - Jimmy Santiago Baca
March - Graham Burchell
April - Ruth Daigon
May - Anne Fraser
June - Corey Mesler
July - Scott Malby
August - James Keane
September - Maurice Oliver
October - Robert Pinsky
November - Louis Daniel Brodsky
December - Bill Duvall

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2008

January - Kelley White
February - L. Ward Abel
March - Maura Stanton
April - Dr. Charles Frederickson
May - Peter Magliocco
June - Penny Harter
July - Gary Beck
August - Jéanpaul Ferro
September - Fish and Shushan
October - Kenneth Gurney
November - John Gallaher
December - Carmen Alexandra

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2009

January - Karen Rigby
February - A.D. Winans
March - Donald Illich
April - Stephen Ferreira
May - Tracee Coleman
June - Ernest Williamson
July - Sally Van Doren
August - Nanette Rayman Rivera
September - Gianina Opris
October - Judson Mitcham
November - Joel Solonche
December - Peycho Kanev

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2010

January - Louis Gallo
February - Buxton Wells
March - Labi Siffre
April - Regina Green
May - Howard Good
June - Carol Lynn Grellas
July - William Doreski
August - Sari Krosinsky
September - Ben Nardolilli
October - James Piatt
November - Robert Lietz
December - John Grey

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2011

January - Robert Philbin
February - iolanda scripca
March - Tad Richards
April - Katie Kopin
May - Jacob Newberry
June - George Moore
July - Rae Spencer
August - Jim Richards
September - Antonia Clark
October - Tannen Dell
November - Christina Matthews
December - Charles Clifford Brooks III

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2012

January - Anniversary Issue
February - Jim Davis
March - Ivy Page
April - Maurice Oliver
May - Lori Desrosiers
June - Ray Sharp
July - Nathan Prince
August - Robert Klein Engler
September - Jenn Monroe
October - John Grey
November - Andrea Potos
December - Christina M. Rau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2013

January - Maria Luisa Arroyo
February - Journal on haitus

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2014

April - Rebirth
May - Timothy Walsh
June - Brian Fanelli
July - Carol Smallwood
August - Elizabeth P. Glixman
September - Sally Van Doren
October - Sherry O'Keefe
November - Robert McDonald
December - Gerry McFarland

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2015

January - James Keane
February - Liza Hyatt
March - Joseph Reich
April - Charles Thielman
May - Norbert Krapf
June - Lynne Knight
July - Sarah Brown Weitzman
August - Tom Montag
September - Susan Palmer
October - Holly Day
November - A.J. Huffman
December - Tom Pescatore

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2016

January - Richard Perin
February - Linne Ebbrecht
March - Sheri Vandermolen
April - Molly Cappiello
May - Caleb Coy
June - Paul Lubenkov
July - Domenic Scopa
August - Adam Phillips
September - Timothy Gager
October - Bruce Lader
November - Holly Day
December - Al Rocheleau

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2017

January - Robert Lietz
February - Jocelyn Heaney
March - David Brinkman
April - Lana Bella
May - Kaitlyn O'Malley
June - Ruth Kessler
July - Chanel Brenner
August - Darren Demaree
September - George Moore
October - Joshua Medsker
November - Ralph Monday
December - Howie Good

Confirmed Featured Poets – 2018

January – Simon Perchik
February – Julia Travers
March-June – Journal on hiatus
July – Simon Perchik
August – Hiram Larew
September – Kevin Casey
October – Ditta Baron Hoeber
November – EG Ted Davis


Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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