Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Poem by Adam Levon Brown

Agoraphobic Anarchy

Catastrophic calamity
on a downward spiral

Obliterating the empty
bags of chicken Ramen

A whirlwind of decadence
at the foot of the stairs

Waiting to swallow me whole

Thousands of fire ants
scattering across
the skin on my legs

begging for scraps
in the abysmal prison
that my psyche created for me

No way out,
the door is sealed shut

No way in,
there is nothing but
a hollow ringing

I am left to teeter
on the brink of insatiable
appetites that have long
been out of my control

Adam Levon Brown is a poet, student, and activist residing in Eugene, Oregon.  He enjoys playing with cats and meeting new people.  He can be contacted via his website at, where he offers free poetry resources.

Monday, August 8, 2016

A Poem by Denny E. Marshall

K(no)w Free Verse

Editor only accepts free verse
Have no problem with that
Because am unfamiliar
With the form paid verse
Little confused when she
Sent check for five dollars
With contributor copy
And a note that said
Sorry payment so late
Check out website update

Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, & fiction published.  One recent credit is poetry in Illumen Spring 2016 issue.  See more at

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Poem by Ridley Flock

Follow Me, I Will Follow You

This game we
play where I click,
you click,

we are digital lovers,
from afar,

wanting a screen
rather than a living being.

Ridley Flock is a new poet whose work is featured at Life in 10 and Dead Snakes.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Two Poems by Irsa Ruci



Shshshttt . . . Listen to the sparrows
Knitting plans behind the wings
And ask yourself
If the words are enough
To build a city of gossips
Under the sparrow's songs . . .


          Come now, return from pain
          That with courage you build it in days, and every day
          While it tears down like sandy castles
          In the nights
          When you shed in tears
          Freezes the hurricanes;
          But enough already:
          Even slavery is drunkenness!


Spy a little on the silence
While it is speaking
And tell me:
How many were killed by the despicable silence of hers
When none of us bothered
To look for answers?
Meaning takes form only in subconscious.


          A drop of liquor let's have today
          Till the end
          For the end of the two-facets
          That don't know end
          And let's sing together,
          Sing with us
          The sparrow's song . . . !

                             (Translated by Silva Daci)

He Rises the Time

He walked every day in the field that his mother labored
And ever time he glimpsed at the sun, he said his prayers
Looking into her eyes;
After, came his sister, while playing
With his brother's longing
Reciting to him childlike words
And the three of them laughed; . . . laughed
With the voice of time echoing
Their path
. . . A path filled with light!

He sat to take his mother's blessing
While felt the wrinkles of her hands
On the softened hair
On the manly forehead raised by her kisses . . .

He felt the scent of the earth just like his mother's
That's why he laid every evening under a tree
With the sun in his soul, singing to life . . .

                          (Translated by Silva Daci)

Irsa Ruci is an Albanian Writer, Speechwriter and Lecturer.  She was born in Tirana (Albania), in 1990.  Her books of poetry include "Trokas mbi ajer" (poems and essays), 2008, and "Peshtjellim" (poetry), 2010.  She has been published in anthologies:  Antologji, 2007; I kerkoj agimit versen, 2008; Antologji poetike "Kushtuar dashurise," 2014; Antologji poetike "Udha," 2014; Antologji poetike, 2014; "Malli dhe brenga nga distancat," 2014; Antologji poetike "Qyteti," 2014; Poeteca, 2015; and her works have appeared in a number of print and online national and international magazines, including Sling Magazine, Issue 5; Ann Arbor Review, Issue 15; Poeteca Magazine, Issue 35; Aquillrelle Anthology, 2015; Aquillrelle Anthology, 2016; Metaphor Magazine, Issue 5; The Commonline Journal, Issue 4/22; A New Ulster poetry anthology, April 2016; etc.  And among many awards, she has received the first prize in poetry, in competition "Anthology 2007," as the best poet in Albania.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Two Poems by Mike Roach


I.  Cadence

Woke up this mornin'
Feeling like Pete Seeger when he looked like Lizzie Borden
Folklore sold me a soul like Bonnie Parker and a grin like Clyde Barrow
And they drove me home with bullet holes whispering, nibbling van Gogh's earlobe
The sun and moon distracted her from the epilogue
Dusk and dawn were our rise and fall

The engine is writing letters and the rain is reading them aloud
Shouting, "The undertaker will be the last person to let you down!!"
And "We was then and this be now!"
Do we really want or need to see another soapbox episode?
All the little droplets dread the epilogue
As they sing the gospel of a rise and fall

Judas, in his lifelessness, lives out his loneliness
Hanging paintings in a cemetery museum
And on his tombstone when he buries his legacy alive
Is an epitaph that'll make you laugh and cry and laugh and cry and laugh and cry
They hired me to write his obituary and the epilogue
His life and death played out like a rise and fall

Saw her smoking dirt from a tin foil hat
She screamed bloody murder and she let me have it
Let her little light shine, raised her blade, said "Goodbye, Charley Patton"
And left my throat a gorgeous disaster
Now it's getting dark and I can't seem to read the epilogue
Crimson smudges taste like a rise and fall

II.  Memphis Died with Elvis

Sheriff's department shine runners
Running gypsy kind up into their treehouses
With their necktie nooses tied around branches
Pulling at threads and pulling with pliers
Razor-sharp teeth from the mouths of sheep
Poison ivy crowns resting on the heads of liars
Absconded by wolves in pelts of fleece
This is where the soul of a man comes to die

III.  This Machine Kills Free Thought

Forever picked a beautiful hill to die on
Buzzards circle the sunlight in anticipation
Waiting, salivating over someone else's prey
Remember tomorrow like it happened yesterday
And never present the gift of present tense
Innocence, in a sense
Bloody fingerprints on the piano keys
I pieced myself back together with pieces of you
But I took nothing you'll miss and I promise to
Return it all when I come back from the point of no return
You're sentimentally insane about watching me burn
You're the one who tied me to the stake
But I was able to walk away so
Don't give it another thought and
Forget yourself in something eternal so you'll never be forotten
Open the box and put on the pawn shop diamond ring
Hope my neck doesn't break so you can watch me swing

IV.  Needle in a Needlestack

Liver decaying, salvation fading, they drag me to the guillotine
Selling souvenir transcripts of the trial from the printing press death machine
And in my passing, the man says, "Good luck, but. . .
Dead stars are only ever so pretty in the dark.
Who do you think you are?"
"I am nobody.  How do you intend to kill a man with no body?"
"You'll pay with your head for what you did.
And we'll all breathe easy when your breathing ends."
His laugh is mad and he's made
As I moaned like a sinner on Revival Day
He cremated me and he's compensated
With $6 in quarters taken from the coin-operated stockade in town square
Grey clouds gather and rain on the solar-powered electric chair


I.  Living in a Van Down by the River

Faust found himself down and with a story to tell
Prostituting his truth to have a story to sell
And without a word sat beneath the tree
To write in pain his train track tragedy

Faust found himself down in Clarksdale
With Legba's hounds on his trail
A bargain on the run, bought for a broken song and sold
The highways tortured Faust's poor paid-for soul

Faust finally found his way up to Memphis
With a bottle and a book, coming back from New Orleans
Papa's rabid dogs ran him down
Into the dirt of the road

Faust found himself buried a few miles out of town
The sky was open any which way he looked around
His eyes rolled back and he knew the blues
When the old man with the crutch came to collect his due

II.  Sultana

2 a.m., April 27, eighteen-hundred-sixty-five
Eighteen-hundred dead by sunrise
Riverboat hauling prisoners of war
And news of the death of the commander-in-chief
Battle lines were drawn in the waves
Seven miles north of Memphis, Tennessee
When sweet Sultana went down to the riverbed, up in flames
Leaving men to freeze in the Mississippi or burn with the boat
The weakened soldiers clung to life and clung to one another
And clung to branches on the trees the river had risen over
Water filled their lungs to the point of bursting
And sent visceral shrapnel into their rib cages, heartbreaking

III.  Tributaries

If it keeps on raining, the levee's gonna break
The townspeople all pray to be saved
And the runoff drains into open graves
Levees kicked down by a foot of rain a day

The bars and brothels on Beale Street form a new bluff
Some run up north, some keep with whores and get drunk
Drowning in whiskey and watching the water rise
Looking their lovers in the eyes across the river, 60 miles wide

Holding onto grandma's wedding rings and a few old family photos
As the whole town drops to a watershed stroke
Bullets and a beans are traded for hooch, opium, and coke
Men carve felled trees into boats, bloated corpses float

Conducting an orchestra of deafening thunder and struggling cries
Settling electric sculptures against a soul-swallowing sky
Sitting on the roof of a farmhouse, watching fish and furniture pass by
Dipping toes in the water and singing hymns of the endtimes

IV.  Wife Gone on the Funeral Train Blues

I'm going crazy without you here
Bringing gods to their knees and stones to tears
Divert your attention, avert your eyes
I'd swim 2,000 miles of filthy water to meet you on the other side

An apparition presented, the mirror resented
The bride in the hearse, the logical poet demented
I'd do anything for you but I refused to die
I'm gonna go where you are and bring you back alive

Two parts courage and three parts trust
Don't look back, sometimes might be gaining on us
I walked with you until the very end
and turned around just in time to watch you disappear again

I sang the blues until my throat bled
My fingertips blistered and the wine went to my head
I broke into hell to undo what the vipers done
I can't love you in death, as I did in life
I'm losing my breath, but know I tried
Tread through fire to bring you back home

Mike Roach is a blues-symbolist poet from Memphis, Tennessee.  His work strives to "paint a picture of a Gothic south, an area of the country rich with history and tragedy."  Mike is also lyricist and bassist for Memphis-area noise-pop band blood like wine.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Poem by Akor Emmanuel Oche

Sailor Sail Home

We see the footprints of our childhood
stamped on this loess soil,
on this land whose trajectories we know,
on this savannah planes ariable for marching boots.
This mountain barricade, submounted by pointing riffles.
Along with this farlon body, is a dirge.
Sing it to the merriment of passers by.
We once sang the songs of neo-nomadic men
when the price of a sheep is a banquet for the host community.
Nostalgia serves you a flagon as you roll and row.
Sir!  Here, take a sip
of mud houses roofed with elephant grass.
Of marchets sounding the drumbeats of war,
of women bathing in the streams unclad,
of men whose valor touch the sky.
We see our footprints on this mystical floor.
We sail, you sail but never reach the corridors
of men politicing negritudes in spree.
Sailor sail home,
to the place where waters are dark rooms
and the sea a castle.
We see the footprints of our childhood
stamped on this loess soil,
on this land whose trajectories we know.

Akor Emmanuel Oche is a Nigerian poet, critic, essayist and thinker.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Poem by Carole Mertz

Conchalina, My Mystery

En boca cerrada no entran moscas*
                         (Spanish saying)

Antoinette of the mountains,
south and west,
sculpted a figurine
I cannot comprehend.

Done in brown and white
it's crafted of mud
from the clay of Santa Fe.
And there, on a visit, I bought her.

Little Pueblo figurine,
teach me, through your crafted eyes
and mouth,
the need for silence
or for speech.

She sits there, brown
and clean-white, with legs crossed
and holding a mobile phone.
Looking upward, (mocking perhaps)
her mouth is open,
always open.

Antoinette, the artist, (in the shop)
had explained the injunction
against speaking.  Yet here sits
Conchalina, her mouth open
wide.  (Someone should admonish her!)

When to be silent, when to speak--
easy to miscalculate.
Conchalina, my little sculpted model,
had I attended more closely.
I might have gained
your mystery.

*Flies don't enter a closed mouth

Poems by Carole Mertz appeared in Every Day Poems, Indiana Voice Journal, Lutheran Digest, Page & Spine, Rockford Review, WPWT, WestWard Quarterly, and in various anthologies.  Her poems placed first in several of Wilda Morris' Poetry Challenges.  Her poetry reviews are printed in Arc Poetry Magazine, Ascent Aspirations, Copperfield Review, CutBank, Mom Egg Review, and World Literature Today.  Carole enjoys teaching piano to young children in Parma, Ohio.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Three Poems by Steve Klepetar

Breakfast Star

At breakfast this morning, a star fell
in through the kitchen window.
It was the size of a snowball, but now
in April, all the snow had melted
and run off into the spring river
which churned south to the Twin Cities
with an attitude of arrogant abandon.

The star seemed lost, or out of place
among groceries and cabinets.
I offered to take its coat, but everyone
could see it was naked as a baby
bird squeaking in a high-built nest.
We turned away, afraid to offend
a visitor, one who might have come
to offer such salvation as we deserved.

My Folly and My Clumsiness

Before I get out of bed
my foot rips the web of dreams.
I stumble, glad that nobody sees
my folly and my clumsiness.

If the world were tiny
and enclosed in glass, we
could push our faces up against
the curved boundaries of our space.

From outside this universe, our
fingers would appear immense,
magnified by curving light,
and every line of our prints would
stand out like a dry riverbed.

I think about things like this each
morning before coffee, before day
rushes back into my blood, and breath
eases and slows.  I grip the table
for its hardness is my trembling hands.

Across the Yard

The neighbors are waving
and waving, all seven children
in their spring clothes
but not you,

because when you wave back,
they stare with eyes empty
as shadow, dark and cold
as December night.

Already your old hands
have turned to claws,
your voice a shower
of pebbles against glass.

Maybe the time has come
to shave your beard
or put on the black
clothes of a holy man.

Or you could sink in mud
until your face disappears,
your one free hand hurling
blessings to the fading world.

Steve Klepetar's work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse:  India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others.  Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015).  Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Poem by John McKernan


Skiing across a tar pit
With a mosquito on your tongue

Stealing something like a penny
While you know
Your dad is watching

Thinking the ghost
In a dream is real
And wants
Your watch for a birthday present

Waving rusted needles
At the bottom
Of the sewer
Looking up the word high
In some poet's dictionary

John McKernan grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and is now a retired comma herder/Phonics Coach after teaching for 41 years at Marshall University.  He lives in West Virginia and Florida.  His most recent book is a selected poems, Resurrection of the Dust.  He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many others.