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Ralph Monday-

Telegram to Wallace, Walt & Emily

I suppose I could have phoned, listened to the
Crack & hiss of ghost conversation. Talked about
white dresses, supreme fictions, slick body
electrics turned into Lennon’s Maharishi
inspired “Revolution.”

Or chatted about how busy you are licking
your wounds through Snapchat, a grammatically
incorrect text (Whitman would not mind),

or sex, or affairs with a married preacher, or
a high-browed old Christian woman who just
didn’t get it.

None of those: too dross, too trivial for shades
walking the underworld conversing with
Virgil & Dante.

Instead I sent an old fashioned telegram.
Thus the rosied lips of May carrying
meager pronouncements as a stone bears
moss.

I did not ask of the first rib,
immaculate conceptions,
a non-existent fruit never tasted.

I did not ask of death,
lazy Sunday mornings,
or the meaning of grass.

Instead, quaint tap tap tap
Morse code flown out on
yellowed paper to an
unknown address.

_______________

The Girl in the White Dress

The mirror, a silver moon,
conjures up the
girl from the settlement
town, scissored tan long legs
sweeping forward beneath the
thin, white dress, eating up the land,
the miles, dissolving behind her
whatever myth it is that she flees.

A stream of song lays her longing
behind her
like discarded lover’s clothes,
like an October without color,
enigma of knowing, of feeling
whether in the dark or light of
day.

Who loved who, or was there no love,
smear of truth, enigma of lies.
I can read her Morse code mind, tap tap
as she flees: streaks of mental text
flashed across the glass, that hurt, that bruise,
that laugh over wine.

I see her other side, the one she left, tangle
of truth & memory.
Pause & give me a moment. Pause but for
a clock tick. Then I would read your
iconography, your mythology.
I would know your landscape like no
other, the lines of you, architecture of
physical things, the terrible event
that tore you away.

This doesn’t have to remain in the deep
bone marrow. Let me give light,
the strange shimmer of the borealis.
Lie down in the road & let me kindle
the ashed fire.

Go with me to still waters and drink
mercy spun like silk from my fingertips.

_______________

The Word

I am woman they say.
I am mystery they say.
For I can undream the stone,
the sea, the sky.

Physics is the miracle of existence
which allows my actions,
eyeballing from every window, the ground
itself.

The universe doesn’t blare out in megaphone
bursts.

Three is a perfect number, a triangle perfect
structure.

As mystery, even I do not know the
ferryman of the dead.
Our maps do not matter.
The golden fleece can now be found
photoshopped on the net.

But I can trigger warning incantations—
how sapphire comes from flame
sound merely vibrations of the music
of the spheres, twisting waves like
DNA strands speaking reality by the
word.

This is my power—like gypsies
transforming my mind
to make me antique again as Paleolithic
rain, strip the patina of eons away
where the man-made ether has faded.

I am awake.
I am hungry.
I am the word.

_______________

Without a Mirror

He is driving on a road, maybe in the
Midwest, maybe the south, perhaps
somewhere in Colorado. He doesn’t
know, no one knows.

The moment unknown, everyone
forgets that Echo also flew from
Narcissus.

But on this road, somewhere, sometime,
crumpled newspapers tumbleweed
rolling, discarded gum wrappers,
rusted 1940s cars rejected like a lost
presidential campaign,

the same when love comes to an end, a
marriage severed by one lost in the
blood-red mists the

last day she lay on a ticking hospital
bed. It’s love that left, we’ll say
when you never returned to toll for the
dead.

So you drive, there with moon white
knuckles on the wheel, living with
ghosts.

When it happened the rain
was not white, not the clear
substance of young love
unspoiled by age, experience,
tragedy, but a

muted blaze dribbled across an
event horizon.

Past noise drips from your
ears where your wife
strides from the FM
on an old 50s song,

and like that flash
ordinariness bright
as spring mayapples

births the extraordinary
riding toward a rumored
future holding no more truth
than she holding the song in her
teeth, an
amateur propaganda team

like an old teacher behind a desk,
ruler in hand, so
that he says I have forgot
what time the purple grapes
come to juice.

I have forgot
drinking blackberry wine in the rain, the
wet streaming down your thin dress,

where love had not yet faded, as
now,
a partial language, incomplete pantomime.

_______________

The Mountain and the Man

There outside the window, the
bright sun, bitter cold, like a
sleeping eagle the mountain
towers up bare bones
exposed.

You can hear it wind
talking, tongue-like gullies
crusting its side, tromboned
muteness merely an aside
for the rock thoughts
coursing through the dirt
beneath, like some electronic
cyber chatter.

Though it knows nothing of the
generations of man, the rocky
behemoth has patiently endured
all the centuries of romantic
crumbling, ill-placed reason,
faithless religious mutterings
like some limestone and
granite Job

whistling in the dark
for an end, for man turned
to salt, ocean-burned
tears that no still-framed
movie can ever capture.

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Ralph Monday is a Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 100 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press. An e-book, Bergman’s Island & Other Poems is scheduled for publication by Poetry Repairs in Feb. of 2017.

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Joshua Medsker-

Purita

My spine still tingles
from the shock out of the sky
as I shoulder my guitar and set out
for the land of my unknown mentor.

The road is unclear. I must blaze trails
my ch’amakani has already beaten.
I cannot see them, so I must keep aware.

I must not long for the day I grab up my skull
and begin my practice

the road demands patience, and egoless
death, for the life-bringer.

_______________

Bullets

Joy is a luxury
I don’t have. Yet
I don’t believe in
giving in to despair.

So

where does that leave me?
With so many young, bulleted
bodies, their names bleed together,
and here I sit, impotent. Yet,

I have bullets of my own.
I craft them to their lethal points,
and pray with each salvo,
that I get closer to my targets.

_______________

Perfecto

My elbows squeak familiar. Slip
my new arms into old skin.
Wrist scars re-framed
by black cuffs, worn
upturned collar protects me from
dark weather.

Sweat smell and dirt stirring my loves
back to life.

It wears heavy, but I believe
I am ready, now, for the weight.

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George Moore-

Rude Poetica

Poetry plays at a game of chance,
a roll of the dice, a turn it takes

one morning with the coffee
before you dig your heels into the beach,

or of an afternoon, exhausted by the spell
of books, and at the threshold

of evening tea. But the poem never plays;
when it falls, it bleeds. I think

that everything falls apart,
but you think and I am amazed

at the clarity of a loaf of bread.
On the other hand, a finger

bent by a door at a college in a day
too young to ask are you fine,

that is poetry. Those are the rules
of love, too. Forget the falling, the emptiness.

The old man with his gnarled hand
is a unicorn, and you, his myth,

rude poetry, the proper meaning
of just another day.

_______________

Those Places

after Olga Orozco

There are places that do not exist
but for the half-lost memory of them.

Situations in cafes and on streets,
needle cold, hot porridge, and pigs in doorways,
and drivers singing squealing ditties,
tassels swaying in a dusty breeze,

and peaks so close they crowd the streets,
and buses so crowded they double seats
or carry you like luggage on the top,

and trains so slow the children jump off
in fields where their mothers do not look up,
and fences of mud like great ant hills,
and rumors of tigers as white as the peaks,

and walls that have fallen more than once
around cities that fall into themselves,
and faces that look almost like one you know
who lives ten thousand miles away,

and tin plates topped with meatballs and rice
and the guts of a creature who they pray
will never come back to haunt you

on the day you leave, the bed unmade,
the children almost quiet in the streets,
the last train waiting, whistling steam,
cinders covering the seats.

_______________

The Ruins of San Agustin

The horse knows nothing
but it takes the lead.

A boy who said he would guide me
disappears. I enter the jungle alone,

a figure on a map, a scratching
in a stone wall, the clown

at the festival of skulls.
Somehow the horse believe

in the gods, and the gods guide it
past the river to the tiny trail

down an impossibly steep ravine.
After a tour of life’s extremes,

I meet the middle, and heads
are rising on each side to greet me.

They are the remains of things
unseen, the faces in dreams,

the massive memories of a small,
disappearing culture.

Big eyed lovers, bulbous
redeemers of an ancient order,

the gods of the jungle
who are all teeth.

And before the horse breaks lose
of my hand, before it picks its trails

by smell, by myth, by hints
of atavism, and we wander back

into the town’s false streets,
a part of me believes.

_______________

Young Men

believe in anything
but an afterlife;
immortal as the gods
in their books,

they ride out across
the roads of the dead:
Death Valley, deserts
of Black Rock, and

south Oregon wastes,
and chance gas
will last into the
New World

they have not yet seen.
In Reno, they sleep
just off the street,
in cotton bags

with old green seams,
and nothing disturbs
their dreams but
a light sound of coins.

With age, as everything
begins to rust, they
avoid water, wish
as much as work,

wish beyond the desert
and back, to the land
before they left,
to the faces at doors,

to the cure for sadness
that they never noticed,
to the gods who
have abandoned them.

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George Moore’s collections include Saint Agnes Outside the Walls (FutureCycle 2016) and Children’s Drawings of the Universe (Salmon Poetry 2015). His poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, Colorado Review, Arc, Orbis, Poetry and Valparaiso. After a career at the University of Colorado, he now lives with his wife, a Canadian poet, on the south shore of Nova Scotia.

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Darren Demaree-

TRUMP AS A FIRE WITHOUT LIGHT #670

Because soon we will eat the ash and ask no questions, and that will all be because we asked too few questions now.

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TRUMP AS A FIRE WITHOUT LIGHT #671

My strength matters much more to me now that I am dedicated to showing that strength through the grief, the anger, the breath, and the hunger of this America. I am beating my chest much more these days. I want him to see me. I want to be the focus of his wounding, and if I am strong enough I will be crushed and continue living after he is removed for crushing all of the men like me. Those that live will form a choir, and we will do our best to sing the songs that rebuild this country.

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TRUMP AS A FIRE WITHOUT LIGHT #672

I’ve been keeping hard candy in my fists. I cannot imagine yet in which way I will use the candy, or which way I will use my fists. I want most of all to buy my children’s love with the sugar stuck to my open palm, but I don’t think I’ll be allowed to do that once I start throwing punches at the establishment. My children will lick my hands as the children of other animals lick their parent’s bodies, and they will get all they can from before they leave me behind. If I do this right they will consume what they need from me before those that first forced my body to crumple in the middle of the Ohio kick me into the creek bed.

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Darren Demaree’s poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review.

Darren is the author of six poetry collections, most recently “Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly” (2016, 8th House Publishing). Darren is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry.

I am currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.

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Chanel Brenner-

A Poem for Women Who Don’t Want Children

I won’t preach about the rewards of motherhood.
I won’t say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
I won’t say it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
I won’t say you’ll regret
not having a child.
I won’t say you’ll forget what life was like before.
I won’t say it makes life worth living.
What I will say
is my son died.
What I will say
is I would still do it again.

_______________

I Have 2x the Love for 1 Child

Since the death
of my older son,

I worry that the weight
of my love is too heavy.

I see my son hunched over,
carrying my grief

like a load of stones.
I worry he’ll learn

to bask in that love
till he sunburns,

come to crave
the sting and heat of it.

I worry that he is forming
like a rock in a river bed,

my grief-ridden love
rushing over him

like whitewater.
I worry that one day,

a woman will ask him
why her love is not enough,

and he won’t know
the answer.

_______________

Into the Schoolyard

He heads the train
of children linked by hands
and lunch baskets,
teacher for a caboose.

I watch from the gate,
waiting for his face,
blond hair curled
from napping, to see me.

I stare shamelessly,
while he’s unaware,
astonished by his beauty,
each time like the first,

as if there were something
temporary about his presence
since we lost his older brother,
as if he might flicker and burn out.

When he sees me,
his body picks up speed,
not letting go of the child’s hand—

propelling the whole train—
unstoppable in his will
as he breaks free into my arms.

_______________

The Tug of War

Having dinner with another couple
who also lost a child, I watch
their two-year-old bounce
on her mother’s lap,
grab the mother’s face and pull her hair
while she looks at the menu.

The child is the same age Desmond was
the night Riley died.
The same age Desmond was
when he asked,
If you had another baby
would it be Riley?

When the mother says she’ll stick with water,
I ask if she’s pregnant.
She nods her head,
but doesn’t smile.

I’ve been crying, she says.
I know I should be happy
and I am, but I’m scared too
.

I know what she means.
Eleven years ago, when we found out
I was pregnant with Riley,
we rushed out and bought a crib
that same day.

Now, if I were pregnant again,
I don’t know what I’d do—

hope pulling one way, grief the other—
joy the rope in my hands, raw and burning.

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Chanel Brenner is the author of Vanilla Milk: a memoir told in poems, (Silver Birch Press, 2014), which was a finalist for the 2016 Independent Book Awards and honorable mention in the 2014 Eric Hoffer awards. Her poems have appeared in New Ohio Review, Poet Lore, Rattle, Muzzle Magazine, and others. Her poem, “July 28th, 2012” won first prize in The Write Place At the Write Time’s contest, judged by Ellen Bass. In 2014, she was nominated for a Best of the Net award and a Pushcart Prize.

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Ruth Kessler-

The Sacrifice
And Abraham put forth his hand and took the knife to slay his son
(Genesis 22,10)

So many questions unanswered
(even the ass’s)
So many screams
stifled
(even the knife’s)
So many silences

That story left
mostly untold Its
jealousy’s terrible flowering
glimpsed through the door of
religion left only slightly
ajar

And The Father
who unbound
one child
Only to tether His others to
bear His implacable burden
till the end of all days

_______________

flower*
Tamar

this dark stain
that will not be blotted –
the dried blood
of a maid’s tarnished honor.

this diminutive height,
downcast gaze,
this disgrace.

Whose cruel joke was it
to wed his iniquity and my infamy
in such lovely, love-
less bloom?

stitch my name to his.
No, nail.

*In Hebrew the name for pansy is Amnon v’Tamar – after King David’s oldest son and the half-sister he raped.

_______________

Suburban

Summer night: cats in
heat, droning chorus of cicadas,
the moon – our dream-hook dangling

from someone else’s heaven.
Behind lit windows neighbors toss away
the crumpled day’s remains, readying

to unfold the fresh morning of tomorrow.
(Only very few press out the passing day,
carefully caress its creases, cherish).

Under the callous gaze of stars the street
curves like a horseshoe seeking luck,
studded with silent, taciturn houses.

The trees, black-uniformed keepers of birds’ sleep,
stand stiff, capped with hazy haloes.
How scrupulously the eerie lawn-lights guard

the still-life of prim gardens
against August’s wanton conquest!
A bat swiftly swoops and

circles, swoops and circles, spinning
an opaque web of solitude.
Only in the distance a train’s sudden

whistle rushes through the
darkness into our careful lives:
a messenger from Elsewhere,

an arrowhead of secret
yearning, a fleeting echo of an
errant heartbeat.

_______________

May

Sky, smeared with careless scarlets and crimsons.
Sea, dappled with dusky dazzle.

And a young, cloud-hatted couple
carrying their future boldly between them –
like the magnificent cluster of grapes borne aloft
by Joshua’s spies from
the Promised Land.

_______________

Ars Poetica
Reason not the need
Shakespeare, King Lear

You reasoned the need:
would banish all weeds from that garden,
subject all irregular growth
to the shears of perfect necessity.

As if poetry was not about life –
meaning irrelevancies,
meaning rules constantly broken;
daring us daily to sift
through the rubble,
paste order from its debris.
Life –
whose business card is imprinted not
with the consequential idea,
the relevant metaphor,
but the but’s and although’s,
repetitions, digressions, silences,
the yawns between cannon bolts.
Life –
that sagging tissue that holds the skeleton together.

You insisted on efficiently planned expeditions:
always choosing the highway – clear signs, good maintenance.
Not meandering side roads with
their unruly clumps of unnamable grasses and
small songs of obscure birds leading, like
the heart’s undisciplined ramblings, to
strange destinations where
children and fools gather at dusk
to do nothing.
But dream.

You believed the poem
should matter like flag –
meaningful and precise
on its upright pole.

But
have
you
ever
closed
your
eyes –
listened
to
the
mysterious
music
the
wind
makes
rippling
randomly
in
the
pliable
cloth?

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RUTH KESSLER grew up in Poland and Israel. Her publications include Fire Ashes Wings (poems giving voice to women in myths and the arts), and over sixty poems in journals and anthologies, several of which won special distinctions. Her full-length manuscript has been a finalist and semi-finalist in several book contests. A poem was made into a limited-edition artist book, and three poems were set to music and performed as a choral composition. Awards include Individual NYSCA grants and Yaddo, MacDowell, VCCA, VSC, and Saltonstall fellowships. She was invited as a guest poet to the Women in Music Festival and Women and Poetry Festival. She lives in NYC.

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Richard Perin-

Camden Skies

Isolated so far
from everyone
caged
in war surplus green death,
along with
two jewels
held captive in this
setting,
and carefully
we shape them

Hungry for affliction,
for any intrusion, a fracture
of some kind – soul,
people – not like those of home.
A hell in every hello.
Live. Backwards.

I am.
Alone.

A lawn mower screams,
“Routine!”
just barely heard
over the sound of children seeking fame,
on a handycam.

And the Christmas lights
have started to come down, as has the tree
in the centre of town.
God! How natural this town looks
despite its geometric shapes and patterns.

Matching lawns, matching cars,
engagement ring, wedding ring,
suffering,
matching divorce papers.
Children playing with
square friends.

But for one bright noon, I walk
the distance from home
to the church on the hill.
My boots laced, medals pressed, eyes ablaze.
Past the hybrid lives and the hybrid
roses, that look perfect, but make no sense.

And a woman I see.
Coming to life as though newly purchased
a male order gift.
A woman like me,
embraced by a white picket fence.

The newspaper boy brings the afternoon,
and the falling sun is delivered
to my landlords porch.
Shadows of garden lattice falling
across my feet, christening my feet,
marking me.

And I drink from a glass,
a second-hand find
like me, and like me
beside some other trinkets
once precious things,
gifts to newlyweds.

And as darkness unfurls
flecked white ashes
stay
ungathered, And above us,
above this lament,
a flowering
universe that divides
night from night and that is
worked to the perfection
of patience.
A thousand candles burning bright
that keep ancient secrets.

And I wait. Beneath
Camden skies.
To write our names in the stars.

_______________

Mourning

The morning dew gently
kissing the window,
calling me out to half
crowded and narrow streets.
The echo of madness is
all around, as the sun
escapes from its gilded cage

A single tear rubbing
it’s back against the window pane.
The smell of dampness
lingering beneath the decaying
wood, mint coloured paint curling
around its corners.

_______________

This place is a dream

Linger for a while upon these golden sands
in these days a quaint apathy
where the sun is yearning and
even wild waters are tempered to
gentle tumbling.
While black birds fatten best
their feathers shiny and sleek
twittering and chattering as they
flutter past,
calling my attention away to
the light blue mountains
and beyond – to the bleak red
heart, jutting landscapes and
clusters of silvery long grass,
breezy tufts.

Lulled by its song
these waters are not
like those of my mothers
home,
but wild and black.
Beyond the horizon, and
past where the moon
has risen and greeted
the evening, and above
where a forest of kelp
licks and sways, on the
edge of a great continent
over rocky crags and
tinted sands – sprays of
green, drooping grey branches,
and scent of lemon sighing
in weakest breath across
beds of pink and blue.

_______________

Sins of the Father

I remember when I was a child
I held you
and you held me
and we were
father and son
Sky and moon
And your bristled face pushed hard against mine,
and I felt what it was like
to belong.

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Richard Perin is an Australian Poet and visual artist. He is currently working on a second volume of poems, following on from ‘Failed attempts to fly’ which was published in 2009.

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Other notable work by Tiffany Tavella and Joe Gdowik.

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Tom Pescatore-

I am left wondering why

A curved space
between walls,

She has eyes
spiked at the edges
inky black
and running

powdered cheeks
showing no age.

“Step into the rift,”
curling voices,
warped by walls,
say.

She does this.

vanishes.

I am left wondering
why.

_______________

By the numbers

I am ever in the nirvana of your mind
a sick puppy feeling his way home.

I discovered my sleeping bag works
just as well as a comforter.

sometimes I lay with my feet hanging from my mattress
I let out a big sigh.

I am sometimes one with the diamond night
and wake to the same song every night.

Trying to remember my dreams
I embarrass myself tripping over details.

_______________

Past year

a backlog of memory
to sift through,

an open bottle, empty,
left out in the sun,

tinted shadow
green and long
thrown over
wood surface

faded imperceptibly,
like years, now gone.

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Tom Pescatore can sometimes be seen wandering along the Walt Whitman bridge or down the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row. He might have left a poem or two behind to mark his trail. He maintains a poetry blog: amagicalmistake.blogspot.com.

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Tiffany Tavella-

Dreams 12/04/2014

He unbuttons his collar
to reveal a white spotted
plum growing just above
his left breast.

Suddenly, I’m holding a scalpel.
He says, “You’ve done this before”
and it isn’t a question.

I tuck the blade into
his new skin fruit.
Neither of us wince
as clear waters pour
over his chest and
knees.

I resist the urge to taste it.

_______________

Midnight Dinner at Lindy’s

For Rachel, New York City’s manic muse

We shared glances over slices
of world famous cheesecake.
You were wearing plaid,
your hair, unruly and uncombed,
yet kissed by rain
symbolically boyish.
I was wearing tie-dye,
and you were fascinated by my meager travels
and knowledge of the Beatles.
Maybe we’ll find ourselves in Perth,
sipping wine with the joeys.
Not Strawberry Fields,
but I’ll take you down
if you’ll let me.

_______________

American Holidays

Amber waves of telecommunication
in frosted glasses unobserved—

The commercial multiverse where Bob Dylan
drives a Chrysler and shoots pool
in a bankrupt American city
talkin’ American folk, American cool,
talkin’ heavy hitting change
while thumbing singed denim pockets
talkin’ assembly line reconstruction
of a union divided
by those willing to buy their revolution
and those who’ll die loyal
only to dissent—

and the air time cost six comfortable Christmases
Detroit would never see.

_______________

Trail Angel

From twilight she appeared
with walking stick and pack
no more filthy
than the perfumed foot
she held to my nose-
they called her ‘dirty peanut.’

Tall and all collar-bone
hair the color of red dawn warning.
These woods grew no such flower
and we buzzed about her offering
pie, I sang for her
and they cracked open her beer
as she spoke of Georgia world weary,
aching legs tucked beneath her.

Warm as August,
1,100 miles
’til Maine,
she thanked us and disappeared into the night
as I was called back to city lights
to dream in the glow around her

of pussyfootin’ along Katahdin,
she’s been waiting (O Seraph!)
and I weep to cleanse her dirty feet.

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Tiffany Tavella will trade a humble turn of phrase for a cup of coffee and an open ear. Her work can be found in journals both in print and online, but she hides her chapbooks in used book stores and free libraries. She lives and writes in Philadelphia.

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Joe Gdowik-

Remember That Long, Long Train Ride Home

on the way home, the train passed a petrified forest
dry trees, stained pale-bone white

one year later
we met again –
one last touch
lips to skin –
hearts dried up.

_______________

feelin Dand-e

dandelions gone to seed
half bald –
they’ll find the cracks
keep the city green.

gardeners –
we grow weeds
in empty lots

_______________

Rose Wine

rosemary, sage
honey –
heady rose wine

lying glutted before your banquet –
i pass into a sweet
delicate death

_______________

Thunder Creek Haiku

Dozing in whited rock
slow silent Red
grows grey

Thunder Creek rumbles
like last night’s firs –
soft, swaying song

Gentle feet –
gentle hands –
gentle snake slithers home

mountain fog hides full moon
either way –
a starless night

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Joe Gdowik enjoys laying his hands down and seeing what they come up with. He shares an apartment in Philadelphia with Walt Whitman the Cat and frequently loses himself amongst his hobbies.

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Other notable work by Marianne Szlyk, April Salzano and Barbara Bald.

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A.J. Huffman-

The View from All Four

A place is not a form of absorption
for wishes or really sweet justifications.
Those fall to the river shaft, exit
like true pioneers via debt and distance.
Occasionally hope will intervene,
tunnel below driveway or moat, mingle
with the edges of communication,
make an awful mess of recreation
that can take weeks to scour
from inside walls.

_______________

I Dream of Hemingway

in the rain, standing beneath the lights
of the Eiffel Tower. He has a bottle of wine
in one hand, a pen in the other. I refuse his offer
of both despite the fact that they have no strings.
I know drowning when I see it.
Instead I turn towards the rising dawn, watch
silently as distant hills melt into memories of white
elephants.

_______________

Tasting Sacred

waters, welled in forgotten baptismals, I am
forcing my own rebirth. A burning
seed has unfurled, rooting around
my skeletal structure. The intangible touch
of blessing blooms, flowers through my tongue,
touch, eyes. Anything open flashes. Signs
hover, ghostly auras, screaming
welcome, home reflected
back from the skies.

_______________

There are Cages for Gods

that only capture angels. They swing
inside clouds masquerading as candles.
I wish I could answer their call, lock
myself inside a silver-lined cotton sanctuary
of silence. My imagination might,
once again, grow wings, fly south for a second
summer, learn to understand the desire
to consume life from accompanying birds
of prey.

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A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press) and A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing) are now available from their respective publishers. She has two additional poetry collections forthcoming: Degeneration from Pink Girl Ink, and A Bizarre Burning of Bees from Transcendent Zero Press. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2200 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

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Marianne Szlyk-

Ms. Hawthorn

dreams of standing on a ridge in Britain,
looking down on cathedrals and car parks,
on pubs and Morris dancers ,
albums she knew from
used record stores and
long-lost friends’ collections.

Dirty blonde hair
streaming in the wind,
she would be barefoot,
wear white, in spite
of mud and wet grass.

At fifty, she sits in traffic.
Through mousy- brown bangs,
she blinks at mist
falling on her windshield,
the line of cars
snaking on past the exit.

As violins on the CD swell,
a young man sings
about growing older
on a morning like this one.
He has just arrived in town;
she has lived in this state
for a dozen years
or more.

_______________

Let’s Go Away for Awhile

Thelma and her husband sing along to Pet Sounds
when driving to the Cape. Jerry Cole’s guitar
begins “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and they launch

into song, his voice too wild, hers with
the Texas accent she never can lose. They
plunge in, splashing past strip malls and swamp.

But this instrumental is the song she loves best,
the vibraphone like sunshine against drums like surf,
the horns like the wave that crashes furthest

onto the rocks, not quite the highway.
The strings are clouds, meringue she has whipped
up in a stainless steel bowl at home.

She almost forgets that the east coast
has weak surf, and slimy seaweed clings to
waders’ calves in warm, knee-high water

as she and her husband waddle in among
the thin girls from Boston. She then remembers
cold, cloudy Mondays when the two of them

drive back home, listening to their inland music:
Chicago blues, Texas swing, Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonkin’”,
the old songs that better suit their voices.

Maybe she likes that this instrumental comes before
anyone can see the bridge or the traffic.
Or she likes to catch her breath

before “Sloop John B”’s lyrics grind her down
like the refrain of a whiny child.
She catches her breath.

_______________

One Spring Morning at the Historic Icehouse

The perfect cube of ice descends.
Having wrapped it in plastic for protection,
volunteers are lowering it
into the historic icehouse.

The perfect cube chills this brick chamber
large enough for dozens of cubes
in the days before this icehouse
was historic, when no tourists
came to Florida.

Rough to the touch, red clay walls
protect this cube.
It will never melt.
The cube’s chill keeps
mold and moss
from forming on the walls.

The icehouse smells of nothing
but cold, nothing
but straw and the dirt floor.
Unlike the zoo’s dazed baby elephant
or the polar bear with yellowed fur,
it appeals to the tourists.

Lowering the perfect cube
by means of a historic hook and pulley,
the volunteers forget
the thick air outside
as imperfect oranges
and grapefruit spoil,
the corpse flower blooms,
and tourists’ overheated
cars crawl
past this historic site.

Shivering, not sweating,
the volunteers
forget this spring morning,
these air-conditioned years.

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Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is… and a professor of English at Montgomery College. Recently, Flutter Press published her chapbook I Dream of Empathy. Kind of a Hurricane Press published her earlier chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven.. Her poems have also appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Long Exposure, The Syzygy Poetry Journal, Yellow Chair Review, ken*again, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Flutter Poetry Journal, Black Poppy Review, and the anthology Our Day of Passing.

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April Salzano-

Placebo by Proxy

I am staring straight into the eye of the son,
the blue-green confusion of autism,
and wondering if the decrease
from 2ml back to 1.25 ml of Prozac
is making him feel less anxious.
His fingers are still on his lips,
bending, twisting, contorting
them into little balloon animals,
pink origami gifts that will be given
to no one. I imagine each sigh
has meaning, each gesture is a form
of communication, as I wait
for the thank you that will never come,
for assurance that will be taken
from whatever it can be taken,
fact or fiction, myth or dream.

_______________

Here Is My Father

forming noose knots of clothesline,
graffitying his parents’ garage—
This is the place where Napoleon
pulled his bone a part
, a phrase I took
years to decipher. My father was less
than half my age when he sprayed it
in crooked yellow script on the second
story, a place of disregarded memories
disintegrating in sun-scorched boxes.
These walls meant nothing,
just another space to desecrate. My body
collapsed under the weight of his rage,
bones separating, tissue remembering to tear
along old fault lines, long before I learned
to hate him, then love him again in spite
of all logic, which I eventually found hanging
lifeless from a rafter in a long-forgotten room.

_______________

Burying the Hatchet

The wood is grateful for the blade,
to be split then quartered, long
before winter. July is all rain,
intermittent bouts of whorish sun
scalding wet flowers. If I am
asked, I will say it has been a great summer.
I will tell no one of the doubts
that fill the sink like dirty dishes,
that the shed is half full,
the bed, half empty.

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April Salzano is the co-editor at Kind of a Hurricane Press and is currently working on a memoir about raising a child with autism, along with several collections of poetry. Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Award and has appeared in journals such as The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, Deadsnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle. Her chapbook, The Girl of My Dreams, is available from Dancing Girl Press. More of her work can be read at http://aprilsalzano.blogspot.com/

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Barbara Bald-

Early Lessons: Shaping an Artist and a Man

My mother held my hand
as we entered the principal’s office,
first day of school, mandatory registration
for first grade. She found us a seat
before a large man in a black suit,
white shirt and red bow tie.

Mr. Gridley, behind his massive desk,
sat like Poseidon, god of the sea,
keeping the oak barrier between us.
I found myself wondering if
he had a trident in his closet, like the one
I had seen in an encyclopedia.

Benevolent or maniacal, I could not tell,
didn’t yet know those words, but
the many framed letters on his wall proved
he was either very smart or very important.
My mind imagined, body sensed,
he could swallow six-year-olds whole.

My mother lovingly sang my praises
added I was a creative boy who loved art.
My face glowed as I told him
I worked hard with my sisters, making
paper dolls with pink-ribboned hair.

Poseidon smiled, but his eyes gave it away.
He said, We don’t do that sort of thing
at this school
.
I didn’t hear all his words, but somehow I knew
making paper dolls was not something
I would ever do again.

When we left his office, my face still flushed
and my belly heaved from traveling rough waters.
Lessons had already begun.
As we closed the door, I swear I saw sharks
swimming beside his desk.

_______________

In Shadow

I wonder about my mother, who she really was¬¬––

not the mother who yelled at me
when she was late for work;
not the one who’s belt buckle left black and blues
on bare skin;
not the mother who warned an eighth grade kiss
could ruin a reputation;
not even the parent who tithed her paycheck
to the church so I could get a good education.

I can quote her one-line admonishments,
recall her probing questions and boundary violations,
still hear her criticize her own flat feet,
stubby thumb nails and cracked tongue.

I know how at ten she threatened her father with a knife
if he dared hurt her mother again;
how she carried coal in a stocking as a weapon
against threats risked on city streets;
how ashamed she was to wear hand-me-downs
to her graduation when others wore frilly frocks.
But who was she, really?

Did she smile with eyes closed when the sun
touched her face, like the feel of beach sand
between her toes, or ever, like me, weep in loneliness?

What was she thinking when she told me lost a baby,
then in front of other women, denied she ever said it?
When headache pain from an aneurism struck, how did she
have presence of mind to remove the curlers from her hair?
Did she sense she would never return home?

I found unexpected things in her house when she died:
news clippings of my Dean’s List honors folded in her purse,
exercise tape for seniors on the tv table,
pink crystal rosaries nestled under her bed pillow.

I did not know this mother. Like neighbors mowing lawns
on our own sides of a tall wooden fence, our walls
were high. Who’s wall was higher, who nailed the first plank
is now irrelevant. The structure remained permanent, but
I wonder who she really was, how much love we missed
and how many secrets flew with her ashes in the wind.

_______________

Last Conundrum

I wonder if Tchaikovsky thought about dying,
envisioned his unwritten concertos calling
from the grave.

Did he pine for new symphonies soon silenced,
fret about unvoiced operas stifled by soil and stone
or weep for movements the world would never hear?

Did he work at fevered pitch to fan creative flames
still trapped inside or lose himself so deeply
that passion sang its own sweet tune,
blurring all lines between now and the end?

And what about Einstein, Earhart and Monet—
their unborn theories, daring dreams
and brilliant brush strokes thwarted by time,
buried beneath bedrock or vaporized into thin air.

Walking now on winter’s frozen ground,
I wonder if they too could have imagined
no longer seeing the sparkle of sunlight on snow,
regretted not being around to witness spring’s thaw.

Hurry, hurry, light breezes whisper.
Carpe Diem, strong winds shout.
Slow down, slow down, chickadees chastise
from bare birch branches just beginning to bud.

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Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems,
The Widow’s Handbook, Sun and Sand, In Gilded Frame and other anthologies published by Kind of Hurricane Press. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. Her recent full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her new chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, NH with her cat Catcher and two Siamese Fighting fish.

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Holly Day-

Daffodils

he walks among the dead
walks stiffly to
the bar, orders
an ordinary beer
from a menu that
specializes in drinks
with names like Corpse Fuck
Brain Hemorrhage

the leather-clad sow
in the corner blossoms at
the sight of his teeth
he glides across the room, slipping beside her
into a red plastic booth
her cheap perfume reeks
of dirty sex, dying things
“my place,” he smiles, he says
and kisses her blood-clot lips

they walk out to the night
she holds his arm with
both hands and talks too
loud he pulls her through the
gates of the cemetery
locks the gate behind them.

_______________

Alive

they found her small body wired into the heart
of the church, small LEDs sprouting through her skin
blooming like tiny red flowers
too far deep for sunlight to reach.

she was sheared clean through to bone
by claws big enough
to belong to the God hanging
over the spot her mangled body lay.

_______________

The Impossibleness of Abstract Representation

where are we now? one man asked
we shone our flashlights around the cave

saw only stone, tall ceilings, dark passages
darting off in every direction. The map

showed us which random tributary
would take us back to sunlight, although it was hard to believe

that we were somewhere on that flat piece of paper, a cluster of flies
in a network of blue spaghetti loops. But yes, there was the pool

right next to our path like it was on the map, tiny white fish
darting about in the light of our flashlights, blind as the furry brown bats

circling overhead. So when do we start going up? asked another
man who looked too tired to go on. Are we almost there?

_______________

Still Away

I missed you so much when you left I couldn’t breathe. No, I didn’t miss you at all,
I just kept thinking about all the things, the tiny things, the big things, the wanting
all the dependent little creatures you left behind, helpless, trapped
little creatures in your house, left
alone without food, without water, pacing, pacing, pacing, ears perking
at the sound of new mail pushed through the squeaky slot, behind the locked door
that would never open again,
all the things left behind.

In my dreams, I am still dreaming about your goldfish, the little blue-flecked translucent
minnows, the over-zealous tank snails
their bodies moldering in the bottom of the foggy glass fish bowl, the over-zealous
tank snails stripping their corpses to hair-thin skeletons, the long-nosed dolphin fish
I picked out for you
the last to remain, competing with tank snails to suck thin strains of green mold
from the clogged air filter, overturning the blue pebbles at the bottom

in search of more algae, more rot, more decay. I don’t remember
if you had a cat, but in my dreams, you had many,
they’re fighting with each other, they’re drinking water
from the fish tank, the toilet, they’re clawing at the window, begging passersby
to let them out. I wish

you’d left me a key.

_______________

Tiny, Pointed Teeth

Sometimes I still dream about the kittens clawing their way through my shirt kittens
With tiny claws and tiny teeth and tiny mews kittens
That once lived inside me, populated my dreams with tiny
Paws and fingertips and skin so pale and soft and white those kittens

Shoved under my shirt stuffed beneath my skin those kittens
I would never have been able to take care of those kittens
I never asked for and never wanted those kittens
Who would have died a long time ago even if they had managed
To make it to the outside world.

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Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History.

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Masthead

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

Artwork

Image of bird by contemporary artist, Courtney Smith
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