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.


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.



Darren Demaree-


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



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.



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.


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.



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.


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.



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
(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

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



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.



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.



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.

eyes –


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.



Other notable works by Sophia DuRose.


Kaitlyn O’Malley-


We love to give away that which we earn
Or sacrifice that we did once refuse,
Build up and then in raging fire burn.

When life ensparks a feeling of concern,
Without a sift of sheer intent to lose,
We love to give away that which we earn.

The accolade and laurel, in return
Are used-to-be’s; lowly, misused –
Build up and then in raging fire burn.

Often there are things that we can’t discern
Important this, the unexpected muse,
We love to give away that which we earn.

I tried to stop it but I didn’t learn –
Even the love we had which I did bruise,
Built up and then in raging fire burned.

It hurts; absent of a silvered touch, I yearn.
I’m done, no more will one inflame that fuse.
We love to give away that which we earn,
Build up and then in raging fire burn.



If I die on a plane
Heading somewhere,
Then that is a good way to die.
Maybe I’ll sprout wings
And cocoon myself in the clouds.
Perhaps they’ll bury me in Turkey,
The Old City will be my tomb.
My soul will leave my body
And rupture into shivers of myself.
My spirit will pulse
Through the streets of Sultan Ahmet.
Maybe I’ll become a genie
Trapped in a merchant’s lamp.
Perhaps I’ll be an angel
In the mosque named for the sky,
Or melt into the Turkish strait,
My eyes, the seas, divide.
All will wonder who watches
Through their walls,
Whose presence lives
Within their city,
Which foreigner, a protector,
If I die on a plane
Heading somewhere,
Then that is a good way to die.
My soul will leave my body
And rupture into shivers of myself.



Anyone who we have ever feared
Or lost,
Is seventy-two percent H2O.
Two parts hydrogen.
One part oxygen.
And everyone who we have ever loved,
As well.
Me –
I am seventy-two percent water.
But it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.
We are hearts,
And brains,
And nerve endings,
The blood that runs through our veins,
The rib cages and shoulder blades,
The bones, worn down
And remade.
We are worlds inside of people.
We are atoms, 7 octillion,
To be exact.
Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon.
Signals and commands and cells, that facts
With science, studies can explain.
But it doesn’t feel that way.
We are stardust –
Cloud people,
Shaped with the powder of a thousand stars,
Forged with the fires of the suns
That circle us.
The irises of our eyes are stratospheres,
Pupils black like telescopes set to the night sky,
And the universe whose true expanse
We’ll never know,
Or created why.
Because science can’t explain all of us.
Not the days when I’m alone,
Or lost in the world I am made of.
Not when dreams are the nightmares of my days,
When I can breathe, yet inside my lungs ablaze,
When my heart is pumping,
But stripped of love.
The sleepless nights,
When I’ve cried so much that
I’m down to one percent.
My functioning brain only torture and torment.
We are galaxies,
Complex in their simplicity,
More than statistics of science,
Or biology.
We are the memories buried in the wrinkles,
The bruises that only the dead can see,
The salt on our cheeks,
The smiles of our loved ones,
And the aches in our hearts.
We are people –
Made of water and stars.


based on the Johannes Vermeer painting of the same name

If a picture is worth a thousand words,
I wonder why I can find no explanation
For the turban-wearing girl
With apples in her cheeks,
And cherry lips, parted only for the single
Save for her allure.
One request lest I should die,
I wish to live inside her canvas,
To discover the pleasures concealed
In paint strokes,
And the insecurities in blackened air.
Brush blue from her forehead,
Brown from her gentle skin,
Uncover the mystery of knowing.
Witness her golden headdress unbound,
If her hair matches the darkness of the room,
Or the sparkle of her gaze, like the sun
That is yet to rise.
If that pearl on her ear has a sister,
Hidden away in the secrets of her brows,
Or if she only managed to steal one.
That is all I wish to know.
Is her soul as pure as the whites of her eyes?
As fragile as the silver teardrop falling
From her ear?
Her hands as gracious as her glare?
Her heartbeat as quick as it is
To love her?
Is who she truly is
Tucked away
In the wrinkles of her robes,
The crook of her neck,
The curves in her back?
Or sprinkled into
The colors of the sky
Never to be found again?
That is all I wish to know.
See Vermeer’s muse in all her mystique
And beauty.
A stargazer under moonlit sky;
How ephemeral perfection,
That men search the world for
Their entire lives,
Is isolated in its momentary existence.
How the world’s displayed, so subtly in space,
By a girl,
In a tender stroke of white,
An earring of pearl.
That is all I wish to know.
And ask much, I do not.
For the price of imprisonment
In art,
I give away,
Lose, myself to find her,
Lose myself for knowing
Of things such as these.
For explanation of
The turban-wearing girl,
Save for her allure.
Of that I know too much.



I fear the time when dreams turn into
Simply sleep-induced sensations,
And tiny teeth under bedheads
Don’t conjure up mystical riches.
I fear when happy endings become
Trapped in children’s storybooks,
Hourglass eyes uncontaminated,
As long as you don’t look too close.
I’ll miss when friendship means forever,
And the skyline is crayoned blue across the page,
And the gay and happy, naïve feeling
That fills you when they ask your age.
When work means learning ABC’s
Chalked across boards with picture diagrams,
And gifts are macaroni painted red or blue,
Strung onto popcorn necklaces.
When birthday constitutes a number,
Said with a smile and not a sigh,
And the bed is something you don’t look under,
Home to the creatures standing by.
I’ll miss when life no longer stands
For the things we said we’d always feel.
I fear the time when all we dared to dream
Simply becomes not real.
But I suppose I know that’s why I’m here,
For the inevitable we must defy,
To remember all our innocence,
All we can do is try.


Travel has played a large part in my life. I was born in Russia and lived in Saudi Arabia before moving to America. The cultures I have experienced and the people I have met have all shaped me to be the person that I have become. I write because I know that words can make a difference in this world. I have seen it, and I hope that “Contemporary American Voices” will help me do the same.


Sophia DuRose-

FDR Memorial

All men are eventually lain in their grave.
It only depends on when and who you are when you fall.
“It is not new and it is not order,”
Stretches across the back of stone,
Like a cape of historical bone, declarations of rebellion,
May 2nd, 1997.
The memorial’s hands are new and recently unveiled
Yet they yield the same lines of weather
And exhaled promises. His face was carved from memories,
Creases around the nose like parenthesis,
Even winkles on his hands like ink,
Lifelines in his palms,
And “systems of government” engraved instead of psalms.
The sky’s orange glow feels like a smile,
And the cherry blossoms in town bloom for a while,
Like flowers at a wake.
Sixteen years later,
His eyes have not blinked, and his hands have not moved.
His dog sits watch, never barking, only obeying,
Looking more like an old man than the guy in the green.
Leaves dance like crystal wasps, beating their wings in a silent room…
All men eventually die,
But only some remain breathing in a stone-cold tomb.


Amputee Therapy

I asked my mother for paper dolls
And my mother did comply.
I took my scissors, I took my string
And cut the dolls before her eyes.

I named each doll for a member of the family.
And sliced them how they each were maimed.
My mother sat there watching,
As every body part, I reclaimed.

Bob’s lost an arm,
Grandfather’s a finger.
Grandma’s both her legs,
And at mine, I did linger.

Most of them were lost to me,
Though I was still whole and young.
So I took my scissors, I took my string
And back on their bodies, I strung.

Markers and pencils questioned me
As a lilting scrawl filled the air.
My dolls were lifeless- simple paper,
But also solemn prayer.

Bob’s new arm said “Father.”
Grandfather’s finger said “Marines.”
Grandma’s legs said “Nurse,”
Their new limbs, fitted to their dreams.



Arguments don’t write letters pitying the fools
Drooling on the doorsteps of trite and right-
They only curse the moons starving the sun rays
Of yesterday’s long-gone.
Arguments don’t find purpose in the mortar of
A Colosseum or the hoarder of flowers from a
Arguments don’t find cracks in promises
Because they are the tracks of bitter kisses
Across cheeks of forgotten ones and orphans.
They are the cigarette burns on skin
And the useless apologies of what could have been.

Forgiveness scratches x’s and o’s
Into thin little lines of understated love.
Forgiveness barricades soap from eyes,
Girls from back corners of streets,
Pushes insomniacs into sleep.
Forgiveness cares about the mishaps in your youth,
Co-signs the loan you make out to your own heart,
As you start to realize reclamation is costly
But not impossible.
Forgiveness does not mention the mistakes of
Rainwater and sardonic waves.

If Arguments were parents,
Forgiveness would be the flowers at their graves.




Lana Bella-

In the drinking, your body imprints
origami sailboat over the blue night
air. Inside a cylindrical glass of dark
water, your gaze, black and spacious,
flutes the tissued-ridged helm, glazed
the achromatic berth polar to the sky.
With two volant tips of your fingers, 
the glowing hour threaded tinge from
the moonlight, murmuring zipperless
nest of nyctophobia. Albinoni’s Adagio
is the sepulchral song you ache to cello 
as the blood incurves on unforgiving, 
waiting just long enough to infiltrate
the salted wind unfurling like open fist,
tithing from felled alleluias of seraphim.
Dear Suki: The Hague, March 30th,
Mauritshuis Museum, me beneath 
the celestial bulb of fantailed ceiling, 
you held its cheval glass with quiver
flowing from dark painted eyes. Girl
with the Pearl Earring kissed mute
on the wall; gold light fed runnels of
zymogen churned into waking ghost’s 
raw weight. In the absence of time,
we were flesh and bones woven from
chattels poached, dots and timbres of
silence danced with their notes beyond
our conscious etched in acid white.
Dearest Suki: musing of history but 
musing of ourselves, I bowed my spine 
across your sluggish tense in flight, 
feeling gossamer threads brushing up 
against the ridges of my dermis house.
Ophelia. Teach her the trick 
of leaving, of diving into rivers 
in the arms of fish and algae 
bed. Start her with minnows
kibbling stardust from fingers
cracked of ice against shore,
and wild calidore of longhorn
beetles calling fog challenged
the goblin sky to war. At the
splitting of the old boneyard by
the river bend, where a broken
path sighed the silence of where-
withal realms, where no briar
bush nor bridle bell to earmark
passage of home beneath her
scythe-feet, she straddled the
edge as her eyes reached limp
dark of the bay willows, slender
as a thieving drink fed fervent
the parched pelican throat. Tidal
sounds barely above whispers
held her against hush-dappled
stones, animate with corpses of
damselflies that hid the spent
migration of her ankle-deep into
the weight of oft-bare kelp-chimes.
Hers was a silhouette tethered in
liquid aquifer, a quixotic conduit
of stillness hunting for its parable
in name.

Old before the first cypress
on the homestead heaved to
brown, you seethed tendril
nerves through dandelion-
choked fields, maiden-fluted;
an ampersand lined for long-
itude, hollow as interlude in
an omnibus. Fireflies died on
fits of rain, purling, scoured
among the chattels of birds’
shivering wings, as you sped
eyes of pewter fjord over grey
coastal bells. Heavy feet held
in nomadic haunts of traveled
stops and time-shed rhythms,
river-spun a path angling over
the festooned cliffs. All around,
the lupine mist dovetailed with
imagined light; there you stood
shivered underfoot, teased by
notes of old time songs, salted
away in sea washed air, spired
forlorn to lightning’s quick stabs.

A Pushcart nominee, Lana Bella is an author of two chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016) and Adagio (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 300 journals, 2River, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Columbia Journal, Poetry Salzburg Review, San Pedro River Review, The Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, The Ilanot Review, The Writing Disorder, Third Wednesday, Tipton Poetry Journal, Yes Poetry, and elsewhere, among others. 

Lana resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever frolicsome imps. 


David Brinkman-

crashing waves and pounding surf
hum hypnotic regularity
lull to sleep or Siren’s death
depending proximity

he stands alone with steely gaze
on hope-filled dreams before
oh the wonder! joy! and awe!
impending naivety

he does not know nor can he know
for crashing waves betray
the past that’s gone, the future yet
the ocean sings today

now sing my son! for death has died!
forgive, and love! be free!
at water’s edge, the dream is peace
hear Siren’s lullaby.



Jocelyn Heaney-

Waiting for the Dead

The fortune-teller shut the black curtain
wound the ticking clock and set the alarm,
assuring no revelation
spilled past the allotted hour.
He held my right wrist and traced
two divergent lines on the edges of my palm.
“You have the ability to transgress boundaries
and enter the world of the dead.”
This I already knew.
The paths inscribed in the body
mirror those I walk in the wooded past—
trails marked with faded red ribbons
blurred by rotting and growing.
I pass the serenity of beaver ponds,
the crude warnings nailed to trees,
the collapsed wedding altar.
But where are the dead?
Should I watch for them
in wilderness
or  feel them
rise and fall in every step?
I hear that the dead often appear
just beyond borders
So I follow the cold stone walls
up and down the leaf-strewn hills.
Once I dreamed that they wait for us
at places of transition—the parting of two roads
or the benches of lonely depots.
I remain alert when traveling alone.
They’re attracted to still, late hours
and fragments of their bright voices can be heard
fleeting transmissions
in moments of our greatest joy.
But most often the dead enter through sorrow
that old forgotten gate, past the whorled trees
in a forest of undeciphered lines,
of startled clearings and ever-widening paths.



A moon-bright field raises hairs on the arms.
Wrists go numb remembering dark brooks.
Horses become instinct, thirst.

What it can no longer return to
in the old way, the body rebuilds, reclaims
as if to say: there was always only here.

Is this wholeness at last?
The translation of all loved things
to their essence

The barn less brick than silence
that agreed for a time
to gather itself into manger and beam


Sunshine, Liquor, Tae Kwon Do

Each time I pass that glowing mantra of Western Avenue, I recite the silent incantation: Sunshine, Liquor, Tae Kwon Do. Sunshine, Liquor, Tae Kwon Do.

Approaching the corner of Beverly, the old excitement grips me. Sunshine Liquor Tae Kwon Do. My talisman. My delight. It will be soon.
I pass the church. The trophy store. The Chinese Antlers.

Suddenly the sign blazes before me in the oily, starless night, half shattered, the bright white tubes beneath the words exposed.
Oh. Liquor then Sunshine.

No matter. Syntax didn’t change the purposeful march of the syllables, two and two and–I stopped at the third line. Tae Kwon Do had become a ghost, a flickering wound beneath a single hand-lettered obscenity: ZUMBA.


Jocelyn Heaney’s poems Waiting for the Dead, Home and Sunshine Liquor Tae Kwon Do. Home previously appeared in a journal called Artemis. Her work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Talking Writing and Hippocampus.



Robert Lietz-


A week ending cold but bright sets up the end
and the beginning of two seasons.  Sermons
we might have heard below gilt ceilings, pillars topped
by likenesses of prophets, saints, archangels
the sculptor’s kin and friends were ringers for, however
mussed or better kempt, remembered again, to ward
off sleep or welcome sleeping, and unavoidable dreams
we’d all been warned and warned again to be aware of,
an awareness shared, like a constancy there’d seemed
no way to master, with all that we made two wheels seem,
built by, and for, affordably, requiring our behavior
and attention, until the corners ended that, and persuasions
then, reports on authentic vehicles. You know, you think,
who painted this, who made the frame, from the old wood
scavenged, when the ice house fell from light, let collapse
upon itself, when lines were strung and cottagers trucked in appliances,
recovered and mitered, joined and pinned
and matched the ways hues were, and brush-strokes were
to purposes, the ways words were to seasons, summers
the lined walls housed ice, carved from the pond or what
there was to find on the Grand River, promising, and
framing the years hand-done, the art first born among
the cousins, the first I could meet part way, to think
how the earth or tiles there seemed slipperier in August,
how cold an ungloved hand could come to be despite
the season, or a  finger chilled, dipped into the blessed water
nearing midnight, and the gaze to see if there were some
who knew your family, in pews awash with history, sharing
some parts in the old yearbooks fingered through, almost
memorized, and in those front page pics from that 1930s fire,
so it’s like this just to breathe and be aware of it, to feel
the holiday, and the shape-shifting you’re nearly certain of,
struck by these wind-invested leaves, limb-lifted hemlocks
transplanted from the ridge above that river, though
the leaves want none of it, and will not admit themselves
there’s something terribly missing, some anything a time
of year’s just part to blame for, laid here among, or
there, beneath the hemlocks dreaming them.



Taking the Lead

What’s the next thought then, taking the lead it might
from a Friday holiday, from an economy
that starts you thinking anyway, a broadening whimsy
lighting the one side, or the one at Armistice?
And these sometime clouds, the clouds and tree-cast shade
and more ambitious business lightning interrupts,
with the kids re-gathering, safe, you should not mistake
their barter, or the feel of an election year
they settle into, driving these moods the season gives
apart from closure, when casts move in, on
barrel-sized wheels, like comments on themselves, on
large machines, on the implements
and myriad deployments, as unexplained as calendars,
as candidates, already in motion, in winds
and phrases like our own, and the phrase a mind
might just as well be lost in,
when such an extravagance entails, and
being right’s
distorted into practice.

The Hook

He orders the cheeseburger and fries indifferently,
meaning to appeal, remembering
the kid who passed on smokes and wrapped himself in wool
when winds took over fields, the lakes
turned treacherous, assuming himself so much himself
he hardly could be counted a believer,
tempted by that and all the concentration thrives on, just
to discover what? — as harmless
as bbs seemed, and wintering, and as the earth around,
until they re-imagined it — so that
the commotion crashed an unmistakably long slumber, on
the dreaming turned, tuned
to cross-winds and some study, under that hook, let’s say,
and the hook’s shadow, pitched
to the ceiling’s slope and the slope of barn beam
flanking it, maybe a foot or so above
the place nobody ever saw as a chaste angle, over
that antique hanging lamp,
un-lit indoors so not to smudge, but pearly
anyway, with
daylight entering through the tall
in a front parlor.


The lamp, the angle and pitch, the textures and shadow,
he thinks. recall another room
and hand-made papers, a craftsman’s watermark, and cards
sent out to celebrate a treaty,
collected yet, in the oak wall cabinet housing the mementos,
the wheeled chest, caddying the flat-panel,
in a farther century, so there’s no mistaking this, no missing
the mark or long guns there,
on the brick above the hearth, with parts in a family’s history,
in secrets they’d understood
in a young country, unexposed maybe, maybe under-studied,
caught in the preacher’s conjuring,
a preacher’s shame or pulpit ardor. Thirty’s warm enough,
and afternoons we walk, warm enough
in our snapped vests, and near as we get, looking back, on
birthdays, on the anniversaries
shared, over these cold-riffled Copeland waters geese
are not the least bit shy
re-claiming, finding their ways among the villas,
priests, and
the physicians, the rooms extended



The window’s open to let air in, let the morning
in, on this bluff above the river, and
the window here, I slide it wide to let dreams enter,
to clear the steam from panes
the draining hot tub’s qualified. Then how should we
be pure, made new, should we
field the staggering or plain fit of accounting, when
the oracle’s intent
to play his role as funny man, who wouldn’t have told us
if he knew, or risked discrediting,
but welcoming adornments there, expecting still
another way of fitting in? See
how the leaves lie out or follow calls to dancing, how
the light this afternoon, all but exhausted
in its hurry, shows us the curbs and barrels ahead
and leaves, rising up as yard birds,
the ways some Persian might, ecstatic with his lyrics
or his data, ignoring the rush for phones,
for seeds freshened in the feeders, or only leaves
again, here in the light leaves chase,
this fabulous brulee, of an afternoon’s concocting,
since this is November, just,
and sunrise, nonetheless more southerly, with
daylight savings done, will
find us easier, now that the tub’s re-filled,
behind the windows
we’ll close a little while and re-open, to
sense how the season
shapes another day about, and
the cold
come, lingering.


Robert Lietz’s poems have appeared in more than one hundred journals, including Agni Review, Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Ontario Review, Poetry, and Shenandoah.  Eight collections of poems have been published, including Running in PlaceAt Park and East DivisionThe Lindbergh Half-century (L’Epervier Press,) The Inheritance (Sandhills Press,) and Storm Service and After Business in the West: New and Selected Poems (Basal Books.)  Besides the print publications poems have appeared in several webzines.  A net search for “Robert Lietz poetry” will provide a representative selection. In addition, Lietz spends a good deal of time taking, post-processing, and printing photographs he has been making for the past several years, examining the relationship between the image-making and the poems he has made and is exploring.



Other notable work by Ruth Titus, Mary Marcelle and Jane Peterson.


Al Rocheleau-


Is not always a palpable thing,
yet there it is—

I shall call it a him, crouched
on a stool in the corner, always present,
and obsequious in his negating way
as if to say, pay no attention.
He wears, for me, just now,
black pants and a black sweatshirt with a hood,
and he shades his eyes
against the contrast
of the colored TV. He is slight,
I mean his build is slight
like, what’s his name, the young actor,
always young, Sal Mineo.
He is a panther of conflicting emotion.

I see as redbirds flock and blow
in Italian breeze about the screen
and around the coffin
of a dead pope, he takes notice.
The scene that comes in threes.

Down the hall,
he is playing jacks with a comatose
child. And he follows at some distance
happy couples down walks
of the April snow
who couldn’t, couldn’t possibly imagine—
he dabs the darling eyes
of the survivors, second
and the seventeenth
to know.

he settles to dinner
in the extra chair, eats nothing, drinks
only water.
He is the one common relative.
More identical
in his difference
than the African prototype of man,
or the glowingest apostle
of the light. Centurion at the cross,
imported swordsman who takes the head
of Anne Boleyn, barrower
of plague-dead mothers and their kin.
The death in the room

serves a tallied clock
of the veiled god; he is not bad, not unpleasant,
not necessarily, by his smile, grim.
He is
what is that was, and what
will be in each dark corner
of each lit square, of each
soft footing of our imaginings
to get to him. Please, we say, please
must it be, or could it be, or no,
we most often forget about him.

He grants us in the majority of our moments
that silent wish,
the blind longevity
of the single, long, second of our lives
never to intrude, secondary player
without a line, and waiting

to begin.



Rimbaud: a translation

Far from the birds, the herds, village girls,
I was drinking, kneeling in some heath
Surrounded by clusts of hazel wood
In afternoon mists of tepid green.

What could I have drunk of that young Oise—
Voiceless elms, flowerless grass, covered sky.
What did I draw from the colocasian gourd?
What gold of pale liquor made me sweat?

As it was, I should have made a poor inn-sign.
Then the storms transformed the sky toward night.
There were dark lands, lakes, poles,
Columns under the blue night, the stations.

Water from woods lost itself in virgin sand,
The wind, the sky, threw icings to the ponds,
And I, as fisher of gold or gold in shells,
Say I lacked the worry of that drink!



Loin des oiseaux, des troupeaux, des villageoises,
Je buvais, accroupi dans quelque bruyère
Entourée de tendres bois de noisetiers,
Par un brouillard d’après-midi tiède et vert.

Que pouvais-je boire dans cette jeune Oise,
Ormeaux sans voix, gazon sans fleurs, ciel couvert.
Que tirais-je à la gourde de colocase ?
Quelque liqueur d’or, fade et qui fait suer.

Tel, j’eusse été mauvaise enseigne d’auberge.
Puis l’orage changea le ciel, jusq’au soir.
Ce furent des pays noirs, des lacs, des perches,
Des colonnades sous la nuit bleue, des gares.

L’eau des bois se perdait sur des sables vierges
Le vent, du ciel, jetait des glaçons aux mares…
Or ! tel qu’un pêcheur d’or ou de coquillages,
Dire que je n’ai pas eu souci de boire !



Tootling along in a black space,
here and there a hum and squeak,
a quelled bellow, nervous laughter;

they preen in a mirror under matchlight—
jealous of one another they jostle,
love an audience of shut-ins;

they marshal themselves, motley
in a phalanx full of weaknesses,
are blown apart with the first volley;

they pick up their arms again,
their legs, prop their holey torsos
and speak with a silly hope,

go home sheepily to the deaf ears
as if already dead and the diners
talked around them and above them

wallowing in the stiff, prosy song
of the day, always the same—
more war for fodder, price of cheese,

addicts poised among sunflowers.

Close the poem! There’s tired newness
to it, that will fade with the hours.



I know the wryness tips comport to the wind—
we are devils before you, Marianne. But cardinal
is not our color, it was Torquemada’s,
and we are just as interested in your pendulum
and crossed cups as any irreligious squanderer
regardless of upbringing. I love your green agate,
your amethyst, your cockscomb and marigold,

they are better than the sameness of the host,
the wine that belittles in its dilution, the square
prance of the stations. But at our best, Marianne,
when the censer calls the smoke out of Purgatory,
when the nuns reach their highnotes, and the brother
scrapes a floor of humility, we approximate
your witch’s list with a zealot’s cast, kindred

to the last drawn hanged man, rune unwrapped
like a saint’s rib-bone, the flames at Beltane
mirrored in bright novenas of other women.
We are together on the night-air of Protestant
conversion Marianne, tickling ourselves with delight
of the true miscreant, the made-men of Zoroaster,
corporals of a Jesus-king, we mystics, we maids

of May, the singing things mattering, sing
good goodness into a morning of missionaries
who forget their orders, drawn like martyrs, merry
to the orange celebration of sky and surrender,
to understanding of the general, end of the specific,
where cherries are sweet, the water cold, glass-pure
and where any number of sacraments flash, awonder.



Keats to Woodhouse, December, 1818

Woodhouse, Richard, look.

As I said, the poet seeks the interior
as he smiles at the surface.

He disappears as he becomes.

The ivory, smooth to polish,
pregnant and solid,
the magnet of the elephant’s pride,
indulging the exotic, the India of its origin,
attracts to the ferrule, the shim’ring sheath
of its translation at the moment of
impact, tense to the sweet reaction
of the clack, self-speaks the language of the roll
steady and voluble in its rotation,
in its new preparation, the knock and bounding,
making a geometry no less complex to follow,
computing Io’s union
with the spotted orb.

This is us, this is what I mean!
Who would deny the billiard and its balls
our life, survivable for them,
for their context, their politics, not ours,
their religion of the never
inanimate life, even as they wait,
within our story to comment or relate,
I am of billiards in their bright majesty—
you are, we, they of us, they are, in the angles
of their love and their posterity,

what we are.


Al Rocheleau’s work has appeared in more than fifty publications in the U.S. and abroad. Journals include Confrontation, Potomac Review, Van Gogh’s Ear, Evansville Review, Pennsylvania English, Illuminations, Studio One, Slant, Ship of Fools, Iodine Poetry Journal, and Poetry Salzburg Review. In 2004, he received the Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Prize. A manual, On Writing Poetry, was published by Shantih Press in 2010. In 2012, he founded the Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Seminars, a 180-hour course that offers full scholarships to high school students; it is accredited by the Florida State Poets Association. He lives in Orlando, Florida.

Ruth Titus-


Ninety-four years
grounded by Holstein farms,
horses’ hames, maple sap,
a man reclused
in a Georgian-style home
where portraits peer at every step,
too many, long down the hall.

Snow cradles barn turrets
and gambrel curves
of salvaged wood and strong skill.

He recalls his labor
but cannot relive his antics.
“Keep me… “
Persists in asking women to keep him warm.
Old age, and its parasite, pain.

He moans his wish for a long walk
with a straight back to the stones’ end,
settles for stoked embers

and a stone heart.



Stillness beyond dusk;
deer have come, grasped
at frozen apples
from branches as reluctant to give
as a miser,
and gone.

The shroud of night
unlamps the landscape
before moonrise— navy night,
color-painted plein-air
still as a stone.

North star
through a one-way glass;
Mars specks red
without pulse.

Orion’s belt flickers a pale trail
now broken by signature of jet lights.

Silence is shattered.

I watch till my hands are consumed
by frigid degrees.
Time to retreat—
back through creaking hinges

where warm wood floors
and artificial day
at thoughts

in moon-filled windows.



Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light.
Angel wings will wax as breath slows flight,
called out in the middle of the night.

The younger auctioneer drives up the bid
on what surrenders of a waning life.
Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light.

Dürer’s block of death-prints strike a price
as angels fly around in coats of white,
called out in the middle of the night.

A shivered sea has given up its cries
to will of fate’s predestined time of sighs.
Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light.

Dürer’s reaper grimly holds his scythe
aside the ancient Bell Toller’s demise,
called out in the middle of the night.

The shimmery moon has lent its white to wing
on supple silver newness in its rise.
Sirens plaint their wail at speed of light,
called out in the middle of the night.


Ruth Titus is a graduate of the Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Course, a 180-hour program accredited by the Florida State Poets Association. (Al was her teacher.) My work has appeared several editions of in FSPA Anthology series, in CHB Anthology # 3 (with Al Rocheleau and Peter Meinke), and as part of the K9’s for Veterans Poetry and Music series, performed in major cites in Florida in 2014. I live in Oviedo, FL.


Mary Marcelle-

I went to the movies with my sister instead of waiting for Steve

He’s glue.

Stuck to that vinyl couch like naked, fat thighs on a humid day
discussing outings we will never take –
The concert we won’t attend
The movie we will never see
The stroll around the park never walked.

Hermiting in his cinderblock cabin in Colonialtown
making plans for never.

I could have waited, insisted, cajoled, kidnapped –
but his emotions are already as malleable as clay
and I fear his further injury.



Gathering in a sea-glass sky
attended by a surly sun
are the intermittent clouds
bringing darkness into the inlet.
The peace and calm of this evening
will collapse under their weight.
Their gray advance closes the day
against the sun’s protests.
The water mirrors the golden bright orb
while giggling random waves.



I float in winter, tethered to the world by U.S. 1,
missing the sun that bleached my bones
in a new-world walled city.
Writers and writers’ widows walled in enclaves,
names and numbers listed like old friends in the book.
Unknowns wear tie-dyed T-shirts sporting
peace symbols missing the vertical line
from center to bottom,
unknowingly symbolizing “Mercedes-Benz.”
Hemingway started it all
(or was it John Dos Passos?)
surrounding his yard with that rough
wall of bricks taken from the street.
This is an island of castaway bones,
scattered wherever there’s room –
under concrete and wobbly sidewalks
sinking under the weight of it all
into a wall of water.
In this current Cayo Hueso,
I dance with words
on a language made of mercury.
The beaches have all been sold.
And it’s the same as if by sea.
Waiters, way too thin,
bring breakfast and liquor.
Cuban cigar-colored chunks
splayed like sunflowers on the sidewalk.
“Is that Hemingway’s vomit?”
Papa called to me from the steps of a new vinyl
clapboard-covered shopping mall.
He was wrapped in a green blanket
like a wall around his writers soul.
I wouldn’t give him any money, and
he declared all women bitches.
Some years ago, in summer,
secrets seeped through cracks in the old walls
and love got lost where every plant needs a permit.
Cayo Hueso, take my troubles
and keep them there,
for tourists to sniff and touch.


Mary Marcelle published her first poetry at age 12. Her career in Journalism included working at both the Orlando Magazine and the Orlando Weekly newspaper, where she was entertainment editor. Currently, she is Membership Chair of the Florida State Poets Association. In Spring of 2016 her poem, “Genetic Engineering,” was included in “Revelry,” the literary magazine of the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Association.


Jane Peterson-


The bird lady stands the church square
a little muddled;
her hat droops of a rain shower,
jaunty magenta rose on brim that
faded pink, now falsely dark.

She finds a bench smeared
of aster petals and melts
onto a seat of iron slats,
still bird waiting worm.
Twits and flutters
eddy the air. Wrens warble
in their scrum nearby.

They know the bird lady.

They expect her at ten, each ten
of morning timed by tolls
and bread. The wrens wren-dance,
legs tapping, head abob,
gabbling together till they eat
and leave.

She rises, hat akimbo,
shoes bedragged
to the cathedral, open door
candled with dusky light.

There is a trill inside,
above the fine marble
and wood, somewhere high
in that inner sky,
the melody of the organ
spinning a practice for vespers.

Near the vanishing point
of the far altar, she gazes up
to the stained image of God creating
a world of sevens.

Mumbling this: “let the birds
fly above the earth, across the firmament
of the heavens,” she retires
in the incense of a reverie.

We see her walking across
St. Paul’s Square, sad hat,
shabby as our own souls,
God’s peace resting
for a time on her shoulders,
birds in her heart.



under the bed of lily pads.
Silver and gold sparks dart
like arcs of a blowtorch
reflected in the water.
A school of shiners in a deadly serious game
of life or death.
For now they elude the black bass
that stalk them for supper.
They escape the man in the boat
whose net is poised for a throw
over the hole in the water.
Drama! Fate!
Three are vying, each of private arena:
bubbles of story in a lake of chaos.
Will the bass catch the shiners?
Will the net snag them?
Or will they skirt free for another
chance at the game
they don’t know they’re playing.



The world sits in your perfect circle.

Quadrants of possibilities

dissect your space:

wind to walk backward in;

fire to stoke the muses;

water to wash the soul clean;

earth to magnetize us.

A pole star balances your universe;

helps us find peace in your belly.

Images lead thought

toward holy acceptance

and appreciation for being.

Mandala, map of the cosmos,

hypnotize me; release me;

calm my sizzling mind.

Bring harmony

to this chaotic existence.

Let me descend into your spiritual essence,

be absorbed into this refuge of peace.


Jane Peterson won first prize in the 2015 Thomas Burnett Swann Poetry Contest sponsored by the Gwendolyn Brooks Association of Florida. Her poems have appeared in  Revelry and Looking Life in the Eye.  She was invited to read her poem in the K9 for Warriors program in honor of Veterans’ Day, 2014.  Ms. Peterson is a member of Al    Rocheleleau’s Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Seminars, a 180-hour course that is accredited by the Florida State Poets Association.



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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