Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two Poems by Walter Ruhlmann


It felt like the sky would freeze,
a single sneeze would fracture it,
blue glass shatters and falls all over the place--
translucent debris.

Eavesdropping on the heavens, we feel doomed
when no one here can handle the hum
coming from above--though shallow and dim
yet implacable.

The shelter in the shadow of the mountains
resembles any homes, absolves the sins
characteristic of the people around here--
insatiable loons.

Obfuscating Windows

Fog and drizzle invade this moss covered, rocky land,
they smash against the glazing, the lining, all parts of
these obfuscated windows, hiding unfathomable affairs

The swollen self takes over anything else again,
it swells up like a lump full of greenish pus
mixed with blood, rotten hematocrits,
an empyema, until it bursts and ejactulates
its disgusting plasma all over the place,
like popping a pimple between two fingers,
messing the immaculate looking glass in the bathroom.

Everything comes back to liquid, to fluidity,
grease and pump:  a heart panting, ready to explode.
The ocean, the carnival, the ponds are far away though,
remote in time, aloof on maps, but still flooding your memories,
lava erupting from a giant crater, opening wide under your feet,
engulfing anything, especially the faith, or the remains of it rather.
Erupting like the sperm the leprechaun wanted lately.

Cub-wolf was not a game, not a pass-time, not even a hole,
a booby-trap and it would have made everything go astray,
discordant, destructive, suicidal, deadly--decorative in a way.

Walter Ruhlmann works as an English teacher, edits mgversion2>datura and runs mgv2>publishing.  His latest collections are The Loss through Flutter Press, Twelve Times Thirteen through Kind of a Hurricane Press, and Crossing Puddles through Robocup Press, 2015.  His blogs and

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Poem by Bobbi Sinha-Morey


At sixteen I must leave my
childhood behind as I press
my hand in red powder and
put my handprint on the great
palace wall, wrapped in my red
and gold wedding sari in haste
for my husband's funeral pyre
who died only four days ago.
Married at the age of fourteen,
I treasured the nights we shared
at our balcony window feeding
each other sweet crumbly ladoos
and sticky jilebis, the look in his
eyes.  Now he is gone there is no
deluding the first furtive flame
and no escape.  I must face my
delicate skin burnt to the core,
my beauty erased.  Today I've no
will to look up at the sky, no feelings
for the staring heavens.  Allah does
not care for the young; let him die
in perdition for me and all the other
women he's witnessed perish in
flames.  There is no honor in letting
the innocent die, only the fear of
death you see in their eyes.  Soon
my heart will be a bed of fire;
I think of my head in my mother's
lap before I die.

Bobbi Sinha-Morey is a poet living in the peaceful city of Brookings, Oregon.  Her poetry can be seen in places such as Pirene's Fountain, Bellowing Ark, Plainsongs, The Path, Poeming Pigeons, and others.  Her books of poetry White Tail, The Glass Swan, and others are available at and  Her website is located at

Monday, November 9, 2015

Three Poems by J.K. Durick


At some point the battery went dead
And it stopped, quarter to twelve now
It could have been midnight or noon
A clock like this one never says, just
Holds out its arms pointing to numbers
Like a type of crossing guard in charge
Of the time we spend, but now it's frozen
Forever fifteen minutes shy of twelve
It holds us in place, never sure noon or
Night, time has run out, stomped and
Starved, nowhere left to go, to work or
To meet someone, either way too early
Or late, it's a matter of time standing still
Short one double A battery, bullet sized
But more powerful, it stops us in our tracks
Powerless, a battery away from twelve
We sit and wait for the hour to finally strike.


It's that mid-point, centered, a non-tipping point
A safe place where the ends counter each other
And we step out like the Flying Wallendas, ready
To cross the day, without a net, or like one of those
Eastern European gymnasts strutting confidently
Along a beam, cameras and audience and medals
On the line; it's a careful place where all accounts
Square up and we reach equilibrium, are confident
Steady, ready to set out and be that mild mannered
Man or woman we always wanted to be, were
Always supposed to be; at first, it seems like learning
To ride a bicycle, learning to stay up, to stay steady,
Even after they let go and expect us to go on and on,
But we wobble and weave; after all, some of us learn
To balance and then there's some of us that never do.


After it blew itself out, the mood lightened
Brightened enough, like the light rain it left
To go outside and walk in the gentle rain

It left, a reminder of sorts, as we pick up
The branches and what's left of yesterday
Sometimes cause and effect works like this.

J.K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor.  His recent poems have appeared in Camel Saloon, Black Mirror, Poetry Pacific, Eye on Life Magazine, and Leaves of Ink.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Three Poems by Peter Dabbene


My father died while I read a book
about stores of knowledge preserved by monks;
I missed my call to holy orders.

The shards and remnants of a meteoric life
spread wide and disparate on its elliptical return to earth;
voice mails retained and videos converted, I fight entropy,
doomed as regathering scattered ashes.

The fragments fell, formed pools and lakes and oceans,
surface sheen skimmed and saved while memories,
weighted by substance, sank to unrecoverable depths.
His presence disappeared, absorbed into the firmament,
omnipresent and inseparable and irretrievable.


Hands catch, release invisible motes
Out of ether, her tremors summon sound
Commanding the unseen, pulling notes
higher, then firmly pushing down

Calming with an upturned palm,
she feints again with fey aplomb

Like Tai Chi, smooth, precise; like Parkinson's, violent, harrowing
Like seizing a passing sparrow, squeezing just enough to make it sing
Against a background hum, coaxing music from the air
These are invoked ancient sounds of fear, the future, and of prayer

Aged closer to those mysteries,
she has reached her peak resolve
and sheds her painful histories
as the gathered notes dissolve

Eyes shut tight, she frowns as the wordless chanting slows
and wrinkles pinch once-perfect skin as her fingers pinch the close

The Magicians

The Magicians I knew always prized
the trick itself, more concerned with good
technique than dressy presentation
or the flourish of a waving hand

The practical over the sublime

Through short careers in vaudeville and
later, thrilling kids at birthdays,
their preferred routine never changed--
extracting coins from children's ears

For years, they always made the mortgage

With inflation, magic faltered
(bills don't have the weight or shine)
quietly vanishing
more perfectly than
anything they

Peter Dabbene's poetry has been published in many literary journals, and collected in the photo book Optimism.  He has published the graphic novels Ark and Robin Hood, the story collections Prime Movements and Glossolalia, and a novel, Mister Dreyfus' Demons.  His latest books are Spamming the Spammers and More Spamming the Spammers.  His website is

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Poem by Dustin Pickering


"Time is a game
played beautifully
by children."

          -- Heraclitus, Fragment 79

Jazz of my soul, kindly direct me
to the street
where children play without bruising

their seasons strong.
Stag.  Glorious drifter, and let my heart
wreck the gloom.

I waited in the horror, bent by curious wings:
o heart, stop, death is love's wakening.
Stop, kill me, and let the sin grow stronger.

Alas!  I am dead.
Mourn me with the violence of the altar:
through me, seek to yearn.

Ideas flood my valleys; my anchorage
keeps the miller content.
Carefully choosing my words,
passion kills 'til I cry.

Lift me now in the dying shroud.
Kiss me as You wouldn't before.
The lyrical dance, o mysterious soul,
will hurt less now.

Together we have played someone else's game.
Why do the readers care
if we love, unaware that depths are pouring out?

Shivers, dense and determined, will release my ecstasy.
Fire, break the pact.
Come nearer, Sasha--
touch me, let's not forget.

Dustin Pickering is founder of Transcendent Zero Press, a poetry publishing press out of Houston, Texas.  He was featured at Public Poetry in 2013, and was a Special Guest Poet for Austin International Poetry Festival that same year.  He is published at Seltzer, Lost Coast Review, The Artistic Muse, the virgin Muse for Women anthology, Vagabonds, and Dead Snakes.  He was selected for the Texas Poetry Calendar 2016.  In his spare time,  he plays guitar and flirts with younger women.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Two Poems by Tina Pocha


Matins -- Anticipation
I cannot sleep
for knowing
you'll be here
I am rested
I am awake
The window's dark
But I am light
Soon the rooftops
will emerge
from shadows
but first the birds
as if they see
what eye cannot
perched atop
the eucalyptus

Lauds -- Preparation
I make the tea
from memory
hands moving
in prayer
Thank you
Thank you
Thank you
Then I sit
and watch
the east
turn blue
from black

Prime -- Welcome
Come inside
paint the walls
lemon chiffon
Touch gently
the moonflower
she does not
wish to wake
Meet the floor
the tabletops
my lover's eyes
stir beneath
your gaze

Terce -- Climax
Take this peach
Break its skin
warm it
in your mouth
Taste the sunglow,
the amber
down your chin
Smell the heat
rising up
through your feet
Listen for the bees
as they open
their humnals


These are the stories that I was told
The softest petal draws the bee; the sturdy stem doesn't.

These are the stories that I was told
Beautiful night is silent; hush stars, the sun must sing.

These are the stories that I was told
Look at the river.  She bends and sways on her way home.

These are the stories that I was told
Write only the poetry of God; He will bless you.

These are the stories that I was told
Salmon makes her way upstream; she lays her eggs and dies.

These are the stories that I was told
I want you to devour my school-girl inhibitions

Tina Pocha was born and raised in Bombay, India.  She is a scientist by training and a writer by avocation.  She currently works as an academic in the field of language and literacy, but in the world of poetry, she is (mostly) unpublished and unfinished and savoring the ride!  She currently resides in Southern California.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three Poems by Simon Perchik

On the way up this darkness
must sense it's more wax
letting the varnish take forever

though you count how high
a second time--these selves
aren't restless enough, here

for the fire all wood is sent for
--in every room! caskets
stacked as if from behind

the wall would reach around
smelling from bark, roots
and the uncontrollable embrace

heating your cheek the way rain
returns to lower its face on the dirt
that never moves these boards

kept open for a dry rag
all night rubbing your  forehead
darker and darker, almost there.


From just dampness, nourishment
and rust seals the bolt
in place--the carriage

already there and nearby, it rains
though you take hold a single spoke
as if the enchanted palace

stopped moving--why is it
a parent favors the weak one
and the crib early on

strengthened with blankets, around
and around the way they dance
in fairy tales scented with midnights

with a gate half iron, half
this wrench, its gardens, ponds
no longer coming apart.


Between two fingers
you expect a knot, the string
is used to breaking its fall

the way her shadow
still opens the Earth
for a last look

follows your every move
--even with the sun
you wrap this small box

are carried off
by an icy stream
tighter and tighter, the cover

beginning to close, first
as snow, years later
over your lips already distances

and mountain peaks taking hold
though the mist inside
is not the water you drink

lets you say something
in secret, close to the ground
emptied out in the open.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere.  His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled "Magic, Illusion and Other Realities" please visit his website at

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Poem by Richard Schnap


These are the grey days
When the skies of our minds
Are perpetually overcast

When the books we read
Are filled with blank pages
By anonymous authors

When the clocks that mark
The passage of time
Don't have any hands

When we ride on buses
Only to return
To where we started

When we listen to songs
That all sound the same
Bursts of white noise

When we hear voices at night
And find it's us talking
To someone who's not there

Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Three Poems by Jonathan Beale

We Walked Along the Embankment at 14:35 in the Rain After a Night Out in the West End

There is a collection
Of whispers
Beneath the iron
Bridges under every
Doorway.  Beneath

The silken image
Of what was to come.
As necessary as the air
We breathed, or the films
We saw or even the books we read

We walked on jumped--
The night bus
Into the heartless carcass
Of the night.
Until the sun rose and broke the spell.

The Cemetery of Unlived Lives

Passing by these staid walls,
of the cemetery of unlived lives.
Here the wailing bounds over
filling the days left unfulfilled.

Over that far crumbled wall
lays the root of the days of every
lost dream.  Those unfulfilled
vessels--lay dark, hollow, and

spent as the echo's remind the consciences
of the "what could have been" and the
"what ifs, what ifs, if & only ifs," words
drowned out--in the lost days.

In this place of now; the nominal rents,
where all investments have run dry.
Ideas from then are still around
in their idols, jokes, and poetic madness.

Their engines have spent their days.
On waiting for tomorrow and tomorrow
pausing no longer, as the voices of the
now ignored.  As the rest walk into tomorrow.

On the Edge of Things

     -- after Edge of a Wheatfield with Poppies, Vincent Van Gogh, 1887

As we sit on the edge of things--the ground consumes us
And then casts us back, and back, and back again.
Or at least me--
The thick, thick wheat swamps us--we drown
from below--drawn down and down.
Histories grow--and cannot cure.
The seed that should produce the perfect fruit
leaves just imperfections.

The trees offer some solace
a shore from the seas of morning coffee cup.
We never go to drink the evening wine.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Poem by Sandra Anfang


What two-faced god
split your psyche at the midline
trained your right foot as a helpmeet
fitted you with wings
to rush triage to the beachhead,
a telegram to the worried,
arms to the loveless?

Your left foot
bound at the ankle
pulled askew
embarks on the road not taken
glazed in quicksilver
decimated by fractions
and in the effort to be held,
unleashed upon the world.

Thimersal, your doppelganger
seeps into veins
in the spirit of succor
preserves vaccines
the shelf-lives of drugs
Big Pharma's bottom line.

What Janus head made you dark and light
draped you in shadows.
Blame it on the Gemini moon's waning smile
that turns you retrograde,
unhitched 'til conflict reigns.
Entropy loosed upon the world.

Sandra Anfang is a Norther California teacher, poet, and visual artist.  She is the author of four self-published poetry collections and several chapbooks.  Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, two Healdsburg Literary Guild anthologies, The Tower Journal, Corvus Review, River Poets Journal, Clementine Poetry Journal, and Spillway.  She has a chapbook forthcoming in 2016 from Finishing Line Press.  Sandra is a new California Poet/Teacher in the schools and is the founder and host of the monthly poetry series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma, CA.  To write, for her, is to breathe.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Three Poems by ayaz daryl nielsen

Young snowboarders upon the rash enthusiasm
of youthfulness, splashes of light in the alpenglow,
making mistakes, adjusting with a sense of the
genuine and moving us further into the sacred.

diaphanous kiss

as poem becomes the presence it needs to be,
with a light caress of my heart and best thoughts,
it softly thrums "bless you, my love, my soul . . .
bless you."

Sinews of the primeval goddess
stretch and shrink in their sentient
engagement with all dimensions of
earthen interaction, the visceral
foreshadows of an ageless embrace.

ayaz daryl nielsen, husband, father, veteran, x-roughneck (as on oil rigs), hospice nurse, editor of bear creek haiku (25+ years/127+ issues), homes for poems include Lilliput Review, Jellyfish Whispers, Cattails, A Hundred Gourds, High Coupe, Shamrock, and online at bear creek haiku poetry, poems and info (translates as joie de vivre).

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Three Poems by David Subacchi

Wood Pigeons

Wood pigeons as fat as chickens
Have been our companions
For so many years,
Waking us each morning
With their monotonous calls,
Perching on TV aerials,
Scratching through guttering
Asserting authority

When we shout angrily
Or wave our arms
They cock their heads
With an air of superiority,
So we feel like scarecrows
That have failed
To demonstrate competence

Wood pigeons as fat as chickens
More confident than eagles
Intimidating our garden
Claiming it as their territory,
Flying without fear
Treating with disdain
Any attempt at opposition.

Witch to Witch

The black pointed hat
Is ludicrous,
The ragged cloak
Beneath contempt,
The ugliness of my face
A vindictive insult,
The broomstick
On which you say I ride
A preposterous fantasy

My head is often uncovered
I wear what you wear,
My looks are not unattractive
I drive a sports car
Sometimes a limousine
From place to place
Observing the Highway Code,
I break no laws
My mind is free and clear

Why would you have me
Casting incoherent spells
A scapegoat for all disasters
Babbling vulgar incantations,
Communing with the devil
Inscribing runes
Binding waxen images
Esoteric, secret,
The stuff of teenage fiction

Look into the mirror
I return your gaze,
My eyes are as open
As the thoughts in your head,
Speak my name
In a whisper if you must
I will not betray you,
We are bound together
Witch to witch.

Next Time

I wore a grey suit
With blue shirt
And narrow tie
To be professional
But relaxed

You managed it
Much better
In floral top
And slacks

We started
With pleasantries
Chose a quiet table,
I said "It's been awhile"
Collected the menu
Like a clerk
Would fetch a file

I knew what
I wanted anyway,
You did too
You didn't have all day

So we had "lite bites"
Washed down
With wine
Some coffee
To finish off

You paid the bill
I said "Thanks"
Got your text later
"It's your turn
Next time."

David Subacchi lives in Wales (UK) where he was born of Italian roots.  He studied at the University of Liverpool and his two poetry collections First Cut (2012) and Hiding in Shadows (2014) are published by Cestrian Press.  He writes in English, Welsh and sometimes Italian.  You can find more information about David and his work on

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Two Poems by Herb Guggenheim


The last time you took Ambien,
you were on vacation in Vancouver, British Columbia,
staying at a small respectable hotel.

Your wife was asleep and you were asleep
but, at a certain moment,
you got up--

perhaps to use the bathroom,
perhaps driven by some other imperative in your dream--
and the story gets murky after that.

You must have gone through a doorway--
and the door must have locked behind you--
and you must have felt that you couldn't get back in.

So you went forward--
down a long hall
then through a second doorway,

down a flight of stairs
then through another door
that also locked.

You're not sure what happened after that
but, when your feet hit the cold pavement
and you felt the cool spring breeze against your ass,

you woke up enough to know
that you were standing outside
in a foreign country

wearing nothing but a t-shirt
and that a busy 24-hour McDonald's
was just two doors away.

Peering in through the hotel's glass door,
you could see that most of the lobby lights were off--
the front desk, dark.

Without the benefit of glasses,
you squinted at the instructions on the hotel entry system
then punched in the designated code.

A man picked up.
"I was sleep walking," you carefully explained.
"And I'm standing here not wearing any pants."

After a thoughtful silence, he asked for your room number,
your name, your wife's name then said,
"I'll be down."

he came and let you in,
walked you to the elevator,

put in his card key,
pressed the button for your floor
then jumped back out as if you were a monster.

You ascended to your floor
where your sleepy wife met you,
wrapped you in a blanket,

and brought you back to your hotel room
where you immediately fell back into bed.
In the morning, at first, you thought you'd dreamt it

but when you asked your wife,
she told you that you hadn't.
Now, reflecting on it,

you realize that life propels us forward
and that all the doors behind us click shut.
We can't go back.

In a way, you think,
we're always standing naked at the door--
our bodies roused by an insistent breeze.


1.  Theology

You're six
and, one rainy afternoon when school lets out,
you go to Karl Mueller's house to play.
Karl sits behind you in first grade
and knows a bunch of fascinating stuff.

You leave your muddy sneakers on the doormat
and hang your yellow slicker in the bathroom.
Karl's mother calls the two of you into the kitchen
and serves you each a glass of carrot juice.

You're pretty sure you hate the way it tastes
but Karl gulps his down so so do you.
After you have swallowed the last swallow,
you thank his mom and follow Karl down
a narrow flight of stairs into the basement.

His playroom is musty, dark, and lined with heavy books.
He's pushed his toys to one side
and the floor is strewn with ragged notebooks and thick black crayons.

You and Karl speak of many things--
kickball, The Jetsons, chewing gum--
but at some point the discussion turns to fear
and Karl asks you what you are afraid of.

"Ghosts," you say.  "And sometimes scary monsters."

He studies you and ponders your response
then removes a heavy volume from a bookshelf.

"There's only one thing that really scares me--" he says.
"--The Devil."
With this he begins leafing through the book.

"Who's the Devil?" you ask.

And he shows you a picture of a blood red figure with horns and claws and a leering wicked face--
a figure so hideous, so revolting
that a cold wave of terror washes over you.

"Do you know how you meet the Devil?"  Karl asks.

"No," you say, trying to contain your fear.

"If you sin and don't ask for forgiveness--
if you sin, you go to Hell.
That's where the Devil lives.

"Hell is a land of fire.
It isn't like a camp out or a party--
something you look forward to then it happens then you go home.

Hell is a place where you burn--
where you're tortured and whipped by the Devil
and the torture doesn't stop.
Once you die and go to Hell, it's like you're still alive only you're dead but not really.
when you're in Hell
you keep burning and you keep getting whipped and tortured, whipped and tortured
over and over and over again.
And it never stops.

"Think about what it would be like to just keep burning," your friend whispers.

And you think about when you accidentally touched the red hot burner of your mother's electric stove.

"Imagine your face pressed against the burner of
your mom's electric stove," your friend whispers as if he knows your every thought.
"Imagine your cheek right up against that burner."

Then he holds up the picture of the Devil once again
and you have to look away.
You're terrified and want him to stop talking.

"Then he holds up the picture of the Devil once again
and you have to look away.
You're terrified and want him to stop talking.

"Then imagine,"
he continues,
"that it's not a burner but a giant waffle iron and that the Devil is pressing down hard so that you're burning on both sides--
your skin sizzling like strips of bacon in a frying pan.
And you stay like that for all eternity."

"Won't you burn to death?" you ask.

your friend whispers,
"because you're already dead!
You burn in Hell for all eternity.

So you walk home at four in the afternoon
and you're afraid.

2.  A Counterargument

When you get home, you ask your mother if she's ever heard of the Devil
and she says, "Yes.
That's a myth that some people believe in.
But in our religion we don't believe in the Devil.
It's just a story."

"Well, what about Hell?" you want to know.

"We don't believe in Hell either."

"Then what happens after we die?"

"After we die everybody goes to Heaven," she says.

But you're strangely unconvinced.

3.  Fifth Grade

When you're in fifth grade, you notice Katie Philpotts in the far corner of your classroom.
And you notice that she's suddenly developed breasts.  And,
without being too obvious,
you look over at her as much as you can.
And at some point you pop a giant boner
and you have to take deep breaths to make it go away.

At home,
after you have your bedtime glass of milk,
you go to bed
and you're lying face down, your face buried in your pillow.
And you start to think about Katie Philpotts.

once again,
your peter springs to life
and you notice that it feels incredibly good
to rub against the mattress.

Then you think,
What if this is a sin?
And what if there is a Hell?
What if Mom is wrong and everyone else is right?

And then the image of Katie Philpotts fades away
and in its place you see that blood red Devil that Karl Mueller showed you years before.

4.  The Adult

As an adult you think about death a lot.
You're ostensibly an atheist and you say that when you die you die.

Then you think of all the bad things you've done--
placing your own self-interests above those of others,
taking pot shots,
employing hurtful sarcasm to make you look good and everyone else look bad.

And you think about that leering Devil
and the idea that--
if your first grade friend was right--
you could burn for all eternity.

Isn't that what you secretly believe?
Don't you pray on airplanes when the weather's rough?--
a sure sign that you believe in God,
atheist though you profess to be.

Then you think, Nah,
that's ridiculous.
Surely, Hell is--
as you've heard C.S. Lewis once suggested--
reserved for big time sinners,
not small fry like you.

Then you think:
But what the fuck does C.S. Lewis know?
He could be in Hell right now for underestimating the scope of his own sin.

The Devil, you figure, is right there in your mind--
or else God is
(and he's telling the Devil what to do).
And one or the other of them is thinking:
He thinks he's going to get out of it--
just like C.S. Lewis did.
How misguided.
What a fool!

Herb Guggenheim's poems and short stories have appeared in a number of magazines, including the Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Quarterly, and Gargoyle.  He's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Award.  Mr. Guggenheim's rhymed poem "Countdown" received an honorable mention in the 2015 Writer's Digest annual writing competition.  He is the author of Sunset at the Hotel Mira Mar (Infinity Publishing, 2011) and the chapbook, Strange Encounter at the Shakespeare Motel (Finishing Line Press, 2015).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Poem by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

Alchemy as Process, Not Product

During the process of alchemy
a peacock appears in the flames.
From your TV chair you think
"phoenix" or even "change the channel"
but once his tail flicks out
like a veil tossed by a beautiful
Saigon bar-girl who's also a magician
your happy vision vanishes.
Your wife could be better looking
but maybe then she wouldn't cook
or clean, and keep the kids
in school and on the track
you left to fight for someone else's
freedom, somewhere else.
When you came back
your dog refused to know you
your wife had a new boyfriend
like everyone else, and you lived
in the box your car came in.
You wouldn't think
of motorbikes if it weren't for that
helicopter overhead, and the bus, idling.
Alone, cold and hungry, you dream
of freedom.  That's alchemy.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Poem by Theresa Darling

Days Without Anger -- Day 4

I promised not to open my mind
to anger.  I'd deny the rough pearl
forming beneath my tongue.  Yes yes
yes to jewels secret treasures of all shapes
bring them on but know precisely
where to bury your precious fire.
Avoid the space between warm bodies
chilling slowly beneath flannel
in an unheated bedroom.  Never indulge
near your morning shower
shared before breakfast.

Theresa Darling's poetry has been published in The Green Hills Literary Journal, Baily's Beads, Hellbender Journal, Kind of a Hurricane Press and The Cellar Door.  Her poem "Another Departure" was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2014.  She recently fulfilled a lifelong dream by moving to Vermont, where she hopes to live happily ever after with her husband Reg and two shelter cats.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Poem by Barbara Ruth


a verb intransitive:
to hold together
to attach, adhere
becoming one
as in marriage.
a verb transitive:
to split asunder
to fissure, fracture
becoming two
as in marriage.
It's in our chemistry
the same as rocks or stars:
our molecules embrace, then as we transform
they fly apart.

Does quartz resist
rutile's bold intrusion?
Does copper wish that manganese was malachite?
Do sodium and chlorine
lick their lips as they
anticipate their union?

Another life form
may have charted us already
set out places at the periodic table
in a house we cannot see:
it is not given us to know.

Come here
because of this, our natural attraction.
Go back
because of this, our natural division.
Through it all, and through it all
we cleave.

In the small, Midwestern towns where she grew up, Barbara Ruth always felt queer, even before she fell in love with a girl at age seven.  Since early childhood, she has written to uncover secrets, resist assimilation, and explain what she could not understand, to the world and to herself.  She is disabled by diseases and disabilities too numerous and aggravating to name.  She still believes in propaganda by the deed and revolution within the revolution, preferably one she can dance to.  Access, in all its permutations, challenges and inspires her.  And that ain't all.

Friday, October 16, 2015

A Poem by Diana Raab


The day after you left
I sat on the ledge of my desires

and spun an intangible invisible web
suspended around my essence

encapsulating the warmth of your trusted touch,
the moisture of your recycled kiss

entangled in the firmness of your caress
whilst the rest of the world froze

in the mold of you
beside the phone that stopped ringing,

around the birds not chirping,
and the waves that finished undulating--

only moments after
the windows got stuck open

leaving the stale air of your absence
empty without your love.

He who returns never left

Diana Raab is an award-winning poet, memoirist, poet, and author of eight books, including four poetry collections, Listening to Africa, Dear Anais:  My Life in Poems for You, The Guilt Gene, My Muse Undresses Me.  Her latest collection, Lust, was released in 2014.  She often facilitates groups on writing for transformation and empowerment.  Her work has been anthologized and has widely appeared in trade and literary magazines.  She blogs for the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, PsychAlive, and BrainSpeak.  Her website is

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Two Poems by Stefanie Bennett


Consider the ash
In its 3rd degree.
The partisan
Made of me . . .

I succumbed -- but
Only when someone
Had to lead the band
Out over the walls

Of the infirmary.

Biographies, aspired
Will fire
A line so slick:
Was there no

More to this
Than the music?

Elegy . . . . . . . . . . . 

We who came through the generations
          -- Emptied the pepper
          All over the dessert;
          Knifed Arabic
          In the gravy;
          Dealt out spoons,
          The royal
          Flush of poker;
          Turned the wineglass
          Into paper-cups;
          Fed cheese and anchovy
          'Over there' to
          A mange mimic connoisseur;
          Set the finger-bowl alight
          And quarreled
          Words and sent them
          To another
          Serious luncheon . . .

The balloons we left intact.  Air!
No-one's put a price on it.

Stefanie Bennett has published several volumes of poetry and had poems appear with Dead Snakes, Poetry Pacific, Snow Monkey, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Boston Poetry Magazine, Mad Swirl, The Mind[less] Muse, and others.  Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee], she was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1945.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Poem by Jude Neale

One Cleft Moon

The pretty girl's neighbor drank her beauty like wine

Kept her in his breast pocket for slow days

when he danced with her silhouette
to the tune of the Tennessee waltz

Alone behind curtains he imagined her waist
fitting into the crux of his arm

and she said bring me more than I asked for

So he carved a cleft moon into her bedroom door
protecting her from dreams
of others creeping into her world
without permission or regret

He gave her a red ribbon to tie back
the noose of her gladness
Stroked her black coil of braids
that fell like a tar bridge across his fence

She danced in the twilight with just her shimmery whimsy
so bright was her gossamer shift of unequaled shine

The pretty girl knew all the words to his songs
and reached out to show him the keen flutter
of her vermilion possibilities

Her kindness flooded his rear view mirror
where he never looked back to see her

caught like a butterfly cleaved to a pin

Jude Neale is a Canadian poet, vocalist, spoken word performer and mentor.  She published frequently in journals, anthologies, and e-zines.  

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Poem by Inna Dulchevsky

The Day After Day After Day Then Again

Summer runs away
I hunt for its tail
But it slips
I've failed           again

It was not a tail
But veil     of memories
Recall its feelings
Slipped through my fingers
Into a pelagic zone

From fear to love
From love to fear     then back
Sex     no sex      sex    again
Desire and tears
Anger and bliss
Chills visit the tips of my hair

A day-long meditation
Standing ovation for a
Quintet of senses is muted      again

My presence is a slight poetic
Somewhere   nowhere     then back
In the present

Don't let me forget how to breathe
In-and-out     in-and-out        again
Then back


Breathe now

Inna Dulchevsky spent her early school years in Belarus.  She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.  She was awarded the First Prize 2014 David B. Silver Poetry Competition.  Inna's work has been published in numerous anthologies, books, and journals including Pyrokinection, Jellyfish Whispers, Petals in the Pan Anthology, book Laveder, The Cannon's Mouth, The Otter, New Poetry, Calliope Magazine, Aquillrelle Anthology, 4th annual Lummox Poetry Anthology, Antheon, and is forthcoming in Element(ary) . . . My Dear Anthology and Calliope Magazine Anniversary Issue.  Her interests include metaphysics, philosophy, meditation and yoga.  The light and expansion of consciousness through the connection with inner-self and nature are essential in the writing of her poetry.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Poem by Theresa A. Cancro

Inert at the Door

My toe catches
first on pupil, then iris,
matched without matching as
the mirror cracks at the corner

of my lip, ear, an eyelash
whipped and alert in the squall
of mid-life, when we inherit only
a bit of morose honor
in milquetoast manner, unlike

one or two who prefer
to be independent
of these things, though they have
surely seen the short light
along moon's cusp,

yanked at hairs unbidden, those
graying dregs, mid-sectioned on past
crazed lips, sports cars, long legs
sheered on the ledge, not creased

catharsis in a nutshell, still
quelled beneath the moss
of mere inquietude, never mordant
until you masticate the willful quadrant
under a ragged fingernail.

Theresa A. Cancro writes poetry and short fiction from Wilmington, DE.  Dozens of her poems have appeared internationally in online and print publications, including The Artistic Muse, Lost Paper, The Rainbow Journal, Leaves of Ink, Plum Tree Tavern, The Heron's Nest, A Hundred Gourds, Presence, Wild Plum, Jellyfish Whispers, and Napalm and Novocain, among others.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Two Poems by Brenton Booth

Running from the Night

the gallows are not always as scary as a lonely sunday morning
or punching a time clock or answering the phone that never seems to stop
it's the same old song for the puppies, eskimos and croupiers--
regularly holding more cards than they can handle or care to have in their possession
and some do it with religion and some with sports and some with
money (i have luckily never been too fond of those things as they
have never been too fond of me),
on this tuesday afternoon in syndey watching the rats scream at the
mountains, the ferrari paddling on a cement pool, the sailor return
to the sea
while the opera singers eat pumpkin soup in the green room and
guns fir in the desert--stepping sideways as usual:  desperately
clinging to out-dated ideas
the brunette with the long hair and beautiful skin smiled at me again
which wouldn't seem like much to some, but it's the closest i have
got to love from a woman in months and the screaming monkeys
all fell down inside my head like the stolen dominoes or tomorrows
these small things that can make such a difference
walking now with new purpose:
finally beating the night.

Behind the Lines

The page takes another line
and the brown walls hide
behind white trees
the balcony holds onto the
the coffee table is on the
the page takes another line
and the speakers float in
large bowls of margarine
the blinds ask for $21 change
the fan has on a concrete
neck brace
the page takes another line
and the warm plate is on
vacation in Bora Bora
the small Asian statue
recites Whitman
the carpet crawls on the
the page takes another line
and the mirror bleeds like
baby seals
the wardrobe holds out its
grey hands
the face is as beautiful as
her face
that won't leave me
will never leave me
the page takes another line
and I wish it were me.

Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia.  Poetry and fiction of his has recently been printed in Chiron Review, Mas Tequila Review, Paper and Ink, Zombie Logic and Bold Monkey.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Poem by Dennis Maloney


I have spent my
life building bridges
between the shores
of language and culture.
Always straddling
emptiness and danger,
wave by wave,
an incomplete bridge,
extending across a
map of the world.

I have crossed
the Pont Neuf,
the Ponte Vecchio,
as poets have between
reason and madness.
The Bridge of Sighs,
the Charles bridge,
the humpback canal
bridges of Amsterdam.

It is a long, shaky
bridge of compromise.
In the evening I wander
the streets of the city
along these frontiers of
our uncertain freedom.

Dennis Maloney is the editor and publisher of the widely respected White Pine Press in Buffalo, NY.  He is also a poet and translator.  His works of translation include:  The Stones of Chile by Pablo Neruda, The Landscape of Castile by Antonio Machado, Between the Floating Mist:  Poems of Ryokan, and The Poet and the Sea by Juan Ramon Jimenez.  A number of volumes of his own poetry have been published including The Map Is Not the Territory:  Poems & Translations and Just Enough.  His book, Listening to Tao Yuan Ming is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press.  He divides his time between Buffalo, NY and Big Sur, CA.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Poem by Kacper Niburski

Night Drools

Night drools
onto a day
that pisses onto
the night that was
different than the last
for the sun now splotches on the horizon
and tries to hide from the land,
or maybe just me,
while I search for my name
in the sky and in the
caramel colored clouds
forgetting the fluffs
do not know the alphabet
or that I wish
for messages in nature
to nurture my messages
instead of rain and thunder
that drowns all

Kacper Niburski doesn't want you to think he has made it, even though he's made it here and here has it made better than there where he currently is:  clawing through a Master's degree like an amateur and hiding creeping baldness with hats.  Find his work here:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Two Poems by Michael H. Brownstein


She stands motionless in the bright light of dark
Counter productive:
Time it is to go to bed.
We measure the distance between us in acres;
the emotional breadth between us in acres times four.
She has a litany of angers:
A band for each instance of intolerance.
The Asperger child grows outside of me,
the sociopath, the irritant, the sociologist.
Give me a gun, I say.  Give me a gun, I say.  Give me a gun, I say.
There is never a gun,
never a pathway,
never a marketplace with fresh fruit pleasantly harvested.


you make the decision to die
but you do not
the breath of fresh air dawn wakening you,
a few laps around the track nearby,
salt water and the texture of shade and light
you wish the world solid gray,
not black and white
the rocks around you conglomerates
not a char of coal and granite
and day changes to evening,
evening to moonlight
dying is not a competitive sport

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses.  His work has appeared in The Cafe Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology  of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2012).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).  Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago's inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Three Poems by John Grochalski

last saturday night on northway drive

a christmas bulb
stack of cds given a week ago
on her twenty-first birthday
the night she thought we'd now be going
to all of those bars and clubs together
my poetry manuscripts and my sweater
the jean shorts that i thought were lost
a couple of books that i had lying around her bedroom
a big black garbage bag
for me to put it all in
while she sits there and cries
or runs upstairs to blast madonna's "take a bow" again and again
oh, what her neighbors must be thinking
this saturday night
along their peaceful little cul de sac american dream
the last sturday night i'll have to do on northway drive
i keep checking my watch
wonder when this'll be done
one year and nine months of this war
she says, do you have somewhere else to be?
and i think of the club last night
watching the blonde dance in red lights
drinking sea breeze after sea breeze
i can taste the grapefruit on my lips if i really try
but this lost saturday night
this goddamned madonna song that she keeps playing
what is she trying to prove?
what is she trying to save except her own loneliness
i hold up the christmas bul
hold up the stack of cds
say, these were gifts
she says, i thought maybe you would've called this week
for what reason, i think
i tell her that i'm not her jesus christ
and we sit there for almost an hour in silence or shout
putting each other through a last torture
before she gets up and flings open her door
the cold night infectious
like a sad-sack santa i walk from her driveway to my car
muffled madonna echoing the landscape
sit inside my ride and watch her houselights dim
smoking a cigarette, 2pac on low
i know more than ever
how good this small freedom feels.

goodbye to all of that

is eight or nine
swerves the car
says nine for sure beers
up on the night
when he comes and gets me at work
calvin and steve
like frozen children in the back of his car
oakland smears before us
seas of red seas of college kids
eight or nine beers up as well
colby races for the parkway traffic
swerving lanes
panicking people just trying to have their night
i ask the backseat if they knew he was like this
two shaking heads
clatter of full forty ounce bottles on the backseat floor
i think if only i were a praying man
inside this pete's wildlife club
colby bolts from us
leaves a trail of pinched women's asses in his wake
it looks like they're doing a new dance
arched back then slap down
bolby moses colby moses parting the flesh sea
we go after him
he lifts bartender tip money off the bar
takes waitress tip money from the tables
takes a drink when the drinker's head is turned
gravs a brunette in a corner
shadow dancing wallflower
she shouts at me, is this thing your friend?
as she i wrestle to get her arm free
liberated she slaps colby so hard
so hard in a loud club heads still turn
but he just giggles grams again lets her go gone
heading for the door
we scream to the bouncers
she screams for the bouncers
but they're lost in packs of women gyrating
muscle headed guardians of the debauched pittsburgh night
who think i did the damage
two slam me into a wall head dazed perp-style
the brunette shouts
not him!
not him you idiots!
i break free
stumble into the parking lot
colby trying to open someone else's car with his keys
what are you doing man?
i mean why this holy mess?
he vomits all over their door
slouched to the ground
we huddle around him frost breath in this lost night
he looks up grins
eight or nine for sure beers expelled
rising like a prize fighter ready for one last round
remember remember
colby leaves us all
for maryland
for good.

the college failure

i think marilyn is making eyes at me
i think all women adore me
two months of this torture
i gear myself pump myself tell myself
kid, this is the day
lunch or anything to push me past dumb stares
marilyn and her post-class routine
the pitt news and lunch at roy rogers
bottom floor of the cathedral of learning
i'd make my last bold custer move
flying down cathedral stairs
i get smacked in the head with a paper roll
kris in bearded flannel saint mode
we tumble steps talking our british tongue beatle talk
marilyn back in her gray navy clutching books
she always dresses so goddamned nice
whisper to kris secret words about her
my grand plan my last front in this war
and then i'm a done gone thomas merton monk saint
no more women no more heartache
we stand in roy rogers
examine the menu like a fine work of art
our own brown-bagged lunches waiting
poor kris who's been through them all with me
now marilyn with her tray of junk food
christ, look at all of the ketchup, he says
but i'm sweating mad sick of the smell
of this food this notebook this pen in my hand
useless poem notebook full of blank pages
i make my bow-legged jingle-jangle way across
the weight of gravity this moment of truth
. . . . . . . . . and like that magic is gone
the wind knocked
marilyn sits her dainty sit with some beast of a co-ed girl
a lion's mane of hair loudest person in the place
yang to her yin to her yang
i turn to kris
oh, I'm not making a fool of myself in front of that
so we
back in the hallway
kris checking the glass doors of roy's every minute
to see if the beast leaves our heroine alone for just a second
while i whine and pace and curse the gods
that things never go right
this women business never works the way it should
and soon marilyn and the beast
come rolling past us in girl laughs and giggles
down the hall and fade to black
the chance gone
what would you have said anyway, kid?
dumbsainted kris and i stumble toward gray light
our stomachs growling for food
the dim promise of something else.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three Poems by Joanna M. Weston

Going Home

story is
an evening
by the campfire

smoke lying
on the fields
of an old farm

stream of traffic
under the bridge

a story is you
and I
going home

My Friend Marietta

I caught a glimpse of her
a week ago last Tuesday
glissading down-slope
on flattened cardboard box
scarlet scarf streaming
voice swirling opera
through lime-green snowflakes

we met on the midnight bus
I sucked an orange popsicle
she radio clamped to one ear
Beatles belting a yellow submarine
down the road beside her

I wanted to discuss form poetry
but she ducked into a truck stop
seemed she preferred coffee
on the run without ode or rhyme

looked up from diner menu
saw her strumming guitar
down Topaz Street clicking
castanets to drown questions
trailing her lamp-lit shadow


turn out of the driveway
past a bank of daisies
watch ants climb tree-trunk
a robin pull worms drive down
to the corner turn right
instead of left because a yellow
towel hangs on a gate-post
and I have to find out why

it's there the lame man
explains to alert
a friend that his bed-ridden
wife needs a haircut I reverse
go on my way brake
for three children chasing
a tennis ball middle
of the block    pause
at the top of hill
to admire double rainbow

watch cat stalk    pounce
a gull circles school-yard
rises as two crows dive to peck
litter in ditch I pull
into the parking lot take
a newspaper from kiosk
surprised by headline
"taxes to be reduced"
arrive late at dentist

Joanna M. Weston is married, has two cats, multiple spiders, a herd of deer, and two derelict hen houses.  Her middle-reader, Those Blue Shoes, was published by Clarity House Press, and her poetry, A Summer Father, was published by Frontenac House of Calgary.  Her eBooks can be found at her blog:

Friday, September 25, 2015

Three Poems by James Diaz

Apple of My Cry

America, I hope you know what your doing
twisting our souls out of shape
to venture toward dry land
further in forest
why not blow out the light
on this altruistic cobble stone
nothing for nothing
safe keeping
me awake at night

every one I love is a nightmare
waiting to happen
see this is the difficulty in getting to know people
they will lay down in traffic
to get a rise out of you
after you've given your last coat and shoe
the ground opens up and takes you there
haven't you seen it all before?
The one with the biggest smile has the most to prove every time.

Last Night I Dreamt that We had Never Met

Some of you are paradise birds
but no one has a nickel to their name
as I knew a man with too many secrets
I vowed to leave everything of my own
out in the open

I walked seven days
and met no familiar faces
thought of Caroline
and wept a little
scuffed my boots
sweeping along
the other side of the world

so you know
I never thought unkind of anyone
man woman or child
but when you went into those low hills
with your mother's name stitched on the inside of your dress
my letters all scatter burnt
and built a house where river met river
where I could not follow
I was a bitter man with no place to go
and some unkind words
they did escape me.

Happy Endings

breath stitched against breath

though the shortest distance
is always the one we put ourselves in

that in memory some days you will laugh
to yourself
or the company you keep
how in love with life's other blessings we were then
before the bomb of misalignment hit

how we shuttered with relief

to be unfinished things
standing by the side of the highway
with informal hard luck smiles
and kiss me I won't fall asleep ever
lest I forget the land too well
under bad light the water pouring in
keep what you can't catch

how so many days keep coming
one right after the other
the longest night and you wouldn't believe how we made it through
when we had no light or names between us
say it was mercy
but I don't buy the happy ending
I can't afford it

James Diaz lives in New York.  You can read more of him in The Idiom, Abramelin, Miriam's Well, Pismire, and Record Magazine.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Three Poems by A.J. Huffman

Because Dreams

are as distant as stars, I comb the sky
nightly, looking for mental residue,
a collision’s path
                            I can follow through
the darkness.  I am blinking, blindly,
waiting to be
                       or be claimed as
a beacon, or at least something bright enough
to be charted as pointing, maybe even leading,

to some applaudable space.

I Am Breath

of moonbeam, child of starlight and empty
space.  I am momentum, suspended. 
Free-floating without gravity, I am uncharted
territory, waiting to be discovered.  One alien
touch, and I am scarred, imprinted by uninvited
trespassers, claiming I am their own.  Non-conducive
to cohabitation, I refuse co-dependence, eject
sycophantic leeches, launch them into the stratosphere.
Their trajectory echoes a mantra inside my mind:
One small step for man, one wrong move toward my kind.

Midnight’s Frosting

Twelve bells toll without hope
of eyes closing.  My mind
turns cold shoulders toward sanity,
begins to wonder . . .

If I dreamed of nothing
but snow, would I freeze
to death in my sleep?

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), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), and Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications) are now available from their respective publishers.  She has two additional poetry collections forthcoming:  Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press).  She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2300 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.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

a poem by J.J. Campbell

a need to know the truth

standing tall in the valley of guilt

your hands still around my neck
fearing that i'm going to be better than you

i still remember looking in your eyes and
telling you i would kill you if you ever
hit mom again

i could see your fear and i believe you could
see that i wasn't bluffing

after you slammed the door
mom said i should never talk to my father that way

i told her i guess i should just let him beat the shit out of you

in hindsight, i should have said

when the fuck has that man every acted like my father

and then to try to stomach all these strangers at your
funeral talk about how kind and generous you were

the love you had for god and family

i was laughing on the inside

just telling myself the old man finally found a bunch
of fucking fools that didn't have a need to know
the truth

carrying your casket out of the hearse was a treat

and as tempted as i was to spit on the fucking
casket or burn the damn flag the air force gave
your stepdaughter

i didn't

i'm pretty sure i will get to see you soon
enough and then you will get my fucking
two cents

J.J. Campbell has given up the farm life and is trapped in suburbia.  He's been widely published over the years, most notably at Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Dead Snakes, The Camel Saloon and Horror Sleaze Trash.  His most recent collection, Sofisticated White Trash (Interior Noise Press), is available wherever you happen to buy books these days.  You can find J.J. most days bitching about things only he cares about on his highly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Monday, August 31, 2015

Three Poems by Bob Brill

Blame it on the Moon

At ninety-two
she no longer played tennis.
Dressed in party clothes
she raced her car
toward the rising full moon.

At the funeral
her life was displayed in photos.
An infant in her mama's arms.
An awkward girl of twelve, tall and skinny,
squinting in backyard sunlight.

High school tennis team,
second row, third from the left.
Poised on tiptoe,
ready to deliver a smashing serve
when she was a pro.

Bride and groom cutting the cake.
Posing with her kids holding tennis rackets.
In the last shot her grownup children,
their spouses and kids surround her,
she the only one not smiling.

Her daughter gave the eulogy.
Said her mother never failed
to admire the moon,
a true lunatic
who drove too fast.

Her grandson told his friend
she went and totaled
the Mercedes
that she promised
would one day be mine.

Could be the moon
drew her eyes from the road
as she floored the pedal.
Didn't turn where the road did,
slammed into a tree.

Or maybe she just had enough.
Dressed up to go out in style
and look once more at the moon.
If you can't get the ball over the net,
what's the use of playing?

Bird on a Bike

Every morning the old guy has coffee
and a walnut scone at the same sidewalk cafe,
sits in the same seat
at the same table
where he can watch the world go by
at the intersection of two busy streets.
It pleases him
to have a front row seat
at a spectacle he can observe
without participating.

Today he is annoyed to find
that someone else has taken possession
of his table, a couple who are laughing
and clinking their coffee cups,
wearing jog pants
with white stripes down the legs.

And what it worse
a new waiter takes his order.
Maurice never had to ask.
He just brought the cafe au lait and the scone.

A group of sparrows are pecking
at the crumbs around his customary table.
They always do, but seen now from a distance,
at a different angle, it's a different world.

Behind the couple two bicycles are parked,
leaning on their kickstands side by side.
A sparrow lands on one of the bicycle seats,
jauntily perched, looks around,
hops up to the handlebars,
pauses a moment, takes wing
and is gone.

The old guy smiles.
This is no caged bird constrained
to keep returning to the same perch.
This bird is an improviser,
free to park
on whatever perch is handy,
then off to the next adventure.

The old guy calls over the waiter.
Please put a shot of rum in my coffee.
A week later he's snorkeling
in the lagoon of Bora Bora.

No Words Suffice

Late last night I saw the full moon
spread a carpet of light up my driveway,
turning the garage door into a luminous voice
that whispered of the mystery
that peeps out
thru every crack in the universe.

Now that our celebrated astronauts
have impressed their footprints
in the lunar dust,
cracking jokes and
swinging their golf clubs,
some say the moon has been defiled.

But it will take more than that
to domesticate the moon.
Even the earth,
after centuries of insults
from the bustling human hordes,
still harbors undiscovered secrets.

Some of us humans
like to suspend our quest for riches
long enough to gaze
at the glowing goddess of the night
and glimpse the world
behind the world we know.

Words can describe anything
but fall short of being it.
No words suffice
to express the ineffable
as well as a garage door
swimming in shimmering moonlight.

Bob Brill is a retired computer programmer and digital artist.  He is now devoting his energies to writing fiction and poetry.  His novellas, short stories and more than 140 poems have appeared in over forty online magazines, print journals, and anthologies.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Three Poems by Diane Webster

Door of Captivity

Entering from summer sun
I am blind inside the entryway
and stop abruptly hoping no one else
dominoes my back side until
my vision returns enough
to venture further inside
the antique shop to see the old owner
smile in the knowledge
that if he had been a spider
this fly would have died in his parlor
so I smile too; safe I'd here his step
approach across creaking wooden floor
as I peer inside displays
and squint along crowded shelves
praying floorboards don't splinter
beneath my almost-tiptoe stealth
popping throughout the shop
almost feeling a slender hand
graze my shoulder or elbow,
"Can I show you anything, deary?"
as I escape to the brilliance outside
like a convict held in spotlight glare
in the door of captivity
whether inside or out.

Glass Stain Musings

Memories like grass stains
on white shoes return
in epiphany moments jogged
from life's clippings
as I hack through chores
until in a second
to catch my breath
I see grass stains
and remember sitting on the front steps
spitting watermelon seeds
farthest down the sidewalk
and wondering if Dad was right
if I swallowed a seed
I'd be pregnant.

Bridging Gaps

The bridge grasps the other side
like a trapeze artist clutching
a novice petrified to release
the bar securing her to one side
now stretched between
with no net below
just a yawning chasm
bored by the tiny drama,
confident the glacial movement
of its sides separating minutely
will break the hand hold,
tumble the bridge
into bottom rubble
where grass and trees
fill the cracks in between
with root systems bridging gaps.

Diane Webster enjoys the challenge of picturing images into words to fit her poems.  If she can envision her poem, she can write what she sees and her readers can visualize her ideas.  That's the excitement of writing.  Her work has appeared in "The Hurricane Review," "Eunoia Review," "Illya's Honey," and other literary magazines.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Poem by Wayne Russell

Cold Machine

This cold machine
slinking along the
bleak ghettos
of heartache
in sleazy attire
a prostitute vagabond
caught up in societies
blood lust undertow
slimy underbelly red light district
victims of a murderous rat race
chances of survival
at an all time low
spikes in veins
riding venomous highway's to hell
drunken pimps sway
like palm tree shadows
on cocaine beaches
I see the green fading in her eyes
where once there dwelt the innocence
of the child
before heroin and whiskey
reigned supreme
and before her god became
the crumpled bust of dead presidents

Wayne Russell was born and raised in the Sunshine State of Florida in the US.  His work often centers on themes such as loneliness, rejection, loss, and the social justices and injustices that shape the world around us.  In the past, Wayne's poetry has been published in The Graveyard Cowboy, Far Off Places, and Poetry Quarterly.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Two Poems by Susan Sweetland Garay

The First Time We Hear the Coyotes After a Long Winter

I leave the window open,
no matter how cold,
so we can hear them
as she falls asleep,
high pitched and sweet.

Later as the rest of the house sleeps
I think about each choice I have made,
what I did and what else I could have done.

Maybe if I had made another choice
things would be better, perfect even.

Or maybe we would still be here in this,
or some very similar, uncomfortable place.

So I try to listen to a friend who tells me,
You are one hell of a mother,

and this time I am glad
to be alone and awake at this hour.

I have missed this song.


After falling head first
into her, into what she made me
with no thought of what would happen
if I drown,

I sink slowly
enjoying the fall.

For days and weeks and months
I swim happily underwater
not realizing how much
I miss the air.

But then
I begin
to rise.

I find some essence which was hibernating,
resting quietly, waiting for me to
morph into some altogether
different animal-

one who has already learned how to be both.

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay currently lives in the Willamette Valley with her husband and daughter where she works in the vineyard industry.  She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, online and in print.  Her first full-length poetry collection, Approximate Tuesday, was published in 2013 and she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014.  More of her work can be found at

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Poem by Steve Klepetar

In the Great Cold

What you want is information, finding patterns
in the flight of birds or the way frosty clouds
streak winter sky.  Down, down you must endure,

along the frozen river's path, crawling through
caves tunneling toward Everdark, that space
of gloom and mist.  Once there you must leave

your only gift, a clammy, breathing soul.
The rest is waiting.  You might hum to pass
the time, or find, in your memory's trembling

thread, a song you thought you had forgotten,
one that shivers along your spine and makes
you think of hands familiar to lips and eyes.

Nostalgia will not make you smile down here.
When he rises up, your phantom father, try
three times to embrace him, through strong arms

won't be enough to hold the fog he has become.
Maybe he'll whisper your secret name.  As warmth
floods back, his mournful longing burns the earth.

Steve Klepetar's work has appeared in nine countries, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Antiphon, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Ygdrasil, and many others.  Several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.  Recent collections include Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013), My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press, 2013) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane Press).

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Poem by Barbara Tate

Child to the Angels Borne

I am shadow, made of mist,
second block, third house down.  I wait
for the Dipper to pour out it's stars
on the edge of questionable, where scavengers find
my scattered bones.

The fatted mooncalf creeps closer, slinking in,
grounding himself, talking foolish madness,
whispering to a vacant mind.

Sucked into the vortex of earthbound vapors
of yesterdays tomorrow, places and faces disappear
in a lightless shadow where tentacles fling venomous spit
in the name of righteousness.  Your manifesto turns
to ashes and smolders as you stomp away
muttering incantations and threats to return next winter.

I attempt to hide and melt in a haze, a faraway yesterday
where the roses grew, second block, third house on the right.
I was shadow made of mist.
You were future's past.

Barbara Tate is an award winning artist and writer of Native American descent.  In 2015, she was awarded 2nd place in United Haiku & Tanka Society's Samurai Haibun Competition; a finalist in United Poet Laureate International Alexender Fui Sak Chang Award for short free verse in Chinese or English; 1st place in Gulf Coast Writers Assoc. Competition (Poetry Category) and had 2 poems chosen as finalists in Poetry Society of Tennessee NE; and won Best Poem Award in January Poet's Digest.  Her work has appeared in Modern Haiku, Contemporary Haiku Online, Frogpond, Cattails, Bear Creek Haiku, The Heron's Nest, Santa Fe Literary Review, Storyteller Magazine, Iconoclast and Switch (The Difference) Anthology.  She is a member of Gulf Coast Writers Assoc., Haiku Society of America, and the United Haiku & Tanka Society.  She currently resides in Winchester, TN.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Two Poems by James Sanchez

A branch floating in the ether
Dead, barren
A cry filters through melancholy
Ripples like ribbons of flesh
The descent steeper near the end
Smiles wane
Waxy memories
Specks of ash
Evil raises fingerprints
A song hangs on to memory
Laundry across thought lines
Standing across from your mirror
Face chiseled by hard fought answers
Morals, proverbs fail
Babies bounced off gravel roads
Insight honed on deception
Perception clouded by intent

The vines crisscross his face
Lattice work of lust
Pollen drips down a throat scuffed by lies
Love handled delicately
Saffron fingerprints dust her clever mouth
Witty words mean nothing to you
Fallow shallow hollow
Autumn brings second guessing
Car rides along once newly paved roads
Passages towards away
Chances sought
Recovery along the tar black roads of the new America
A garden grows in my chest
Cultivated with serpentine caresses longing for the last drop of moisture

James Sanchez is a poet and teacher from Hieleah, Florida.  He holds a B.A. in English from Florida International University.  He teaches English and Creative Writing at Ronald W. Reagan Senior High School in Doral, Florida.  He resides in Miami, Florida with his wife and son.  His work has been published in The Acentos Review, the Apeiron Review, Mother is a Verb:  a Red Paint Hill Anthology, Blue Heron Review and Lost Coast Review.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Poem by Margaret Gish Miller

Blood Moon Weather
Tomorrow an eclipse is
forecast so I eat fiber bars--
it’s Indian Summer & I’m sixty-
no period in sight.
I feel great grief
for Cooper who lost
his Grandma Joan
Rivers. In last night’s
dream I embraced him,
the gift of grandsons
tumbling into adolescence.
Know his loss his loss his loss
Now I’m falling
asleep. . .sighing into
the comfort of my body, grateful
to be free of cramps-bloat
endometriosis--that malady
mimicking labor pains--
the uterus shredding itself--
shedding a month of Sundays
44 years worth with nothing
to show for it, except your friend,
the curse. No more!
Just a blood-red sky & great relief
in long baths dreaming
of whirlpools
available at Lowe’s,
a therapeutic necessity, these brittle bones
cracking down my spine, one disc at a time,
each time I bend down into the fallen leaf.
Margaret Gish Miller, born in 1946 in Palo Alto, California, lived, worked,and taught in the San Joaquin Valley, California for over 30 years.  Retired, she and her husband Ron live in Gig Harbor, Washington where she continues to write poetry.  Her work has been widely published, including The Paterson Literary Review; Verseweavers; Poets & Writers; and To Topos, an International Journal.  Most recently, 12 of her haiku are included in the anthology The Knotted Bond: Oregon Poets Speak of their Sisters.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Three Poems by April Salzano

My Grandmother and a Baked Potato

At the deli, she wants to know
if they will wrap it up.  I point to the foil,
trying not to make a face that mocks
the Great Depression mentality, the need
to know that half can be saved for later.
We have stood in the long line counting
our coins and time.  We know rotisserie
chicken is nothing without two fresh sides
of our choice, that $8.99 is a cup of coffee
and a scone.  Dinner for the whole family
suddenly seems so meaningful, a marketing
epiphany, a subliminal promise of eternal fullness.

Celebrating the Sun

The sun is an opiate, giant
poppy seed burning, breaking
down into liquid heat, lava pulled
through syringe.  Shot
into ropey vein writhing under skin
that begs to be punctured.  Sealed
without memory of pinhole prick.

The sun is a carousel horse, painted
gaudy colors, baring teeth, acid-trip
mane/tail a blur of distortion, surreal.
Misplaced animals predict irrelevant radius,
deafened/defeated by broken records warbling
across antiquated speakers.  Chipped-iris
stare into endless revolution.

The sun is a lazy eye, refracted,
overcompensation of fire, crooked gaze,
monocled miracle of light.  Proximal distance,
displaced.  Warmth disbanded across tundra in failure.
Mystery of darkness revealed.  One slow rotation,
overexposing whole continents.
A shift in perception that moves mountains.

My Middle Name is Broken

cliched, an on the floor disjointed
misrepresentation of who I am:  variations
of light through fractured clouds, marbled sky,
threadbare thoughts and worn-in familiarity.
A kink in the chain of events that interrupts
domino effect.  Each cause is equal to its reaction:
speeding car, deflated tire, roadside passivity
that looks a lot like feigned helplessness.  Friendly
assistance always requires reciprocation.

April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and two sons.  She is currently working on a memoir on raising a child with autism and several collections of poetry.  Her work has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in journals such as Convergence, Ascent Aspirations, The Camel Saloon, Centrifugal Eye, DeadSnakes, Visceral Uterus, Salome, Poetry Quarterly, Writing Tomorrow and Rattle.  Her first chapbook, The Girl of My Dreams, is forthcoming in spring, 2015 from Dancing Girl Press.  The author serves as co-editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press (

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Poem by Sy Roth

The Winter of Their Discontent
A Dusty Soleless Army

Dust army
Petite jury of lead soldiers
Arrayed on their field of battle
A phalanx of them as they
Prepare to march into the trash bag.

Apothegm --
-- Silent neighbors tell tales --

Moccasins worn thin,
Pointed roach stoppers from a bygone age,
Oxfords and lost chain names --
Buster Browns.

Time gobbled them up
Ruins, vestiges of soldiers
Twisted into your shapes.
Shuffling transcendence of corporeality.
Tendentious eye-popping Igor --
Step sleepless into the good night,
Resting at the foot of the closet.

Rusty shirts limp, hanging above
wrinkled trousers on wooden hangers --

Two-stepped to the cattle car
Three-stepped to embroidered numbers
On the insides of his arm,
Remnants of an ago
When wooden clogs played a rhapsodic marching tune
On the endless miles of rutted roads.

And times, ill-fated, he stood
Until tired, he laid down
Snored himself into oblivion.
Tatterdemalion man exited
Soles faced up,
Toes curved leftward
Homage to a crooked existence.

The orphan army
Sweaty interiors oiled black with his being
With their tips curled; the scuffed toes and angled heels
Telling tales trippingly,
Their loose tongues pillaging truths,
The lollygagging laces limp and frayed
Slather slurpy raspberries of Bronx-cheer ululations
At the living.

The smells of urine and feces couple with the little troupe
And the light from the single-pane window
Washes the hospital bed in cool remembrance . . .
They piffle unheard
Speaking of life in the soles
Discard like the sloughed off skin of the original snake.

Sy Roth comes riding in and then canters out.  Oftentimes, head is bowed by reality; other times, he proud to have said something noteworthy.  Retired after forty-two years as teacher/school administrator, he now resides in Mount Sinai, far from Moses and the tablets.  This has led him to find words for solace.  He spends his time writing and playing his guitar.  He has published in Visceral Uterus, Amulet, BlogNostics, Every Day Poets, Barefoot Review, Haggard and Halloo, Misfits Miscellany, Larks Fiction Magazine, Danse Macabre, Bitchin' Kitsch, Bong is Bard, Humber Pie, Poetry Super Highway, Penwood Review, Masque Publications, Foliate Oak, Miller's Pond Poetry, The Artistic Muse, Word Riot, Samizdat Literary Journal, Right Hand Pointing, The Screech Owl, Epiphany, Red Poppy Review, Big River, Poehemians, Nostrovia Poetry's Milk and Honey, Siren, Palimpset, Dead Snakes, Euphemism, Humanimalz Literary Journal, Ascent Aspirations, Fowl Feathered Review, Vayavya, Wilderness House Journal, Aberration Labyrinth, Mind[less] Muse, Em Dash and Kerouac's Dog.