Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Poem by Bradley Morewood


I am running across a disappearing floor

an illusion
that has to vanish
           so I can be free

I've fallen too many times
have felt electricity surge through my feet

I have given my life to the floor

it is hard to do without it
the stars and a great void seem
           to be holding it up

but I've had glimpses of things falling away
and the joy that brings

Bradley Morewood, a native of Brooklyn, lives in Tampa where he enjoys writing, and performing and recording his poetry to improvised music.  His poetry has appeared in Wild River Review, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Blue Collar Review, Dream International Quarterly, Red Ochre Black and White, Solo Novo Wall Scrawls, Wild Violet, Jellyfish Whispers, Pyrokinection, and other publications.  His chapbook "Where the Bangles Live" was published by invitation by St. Leo University.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Poem by Ally Malinenko

No Heat/No Hot Water

There were signs
before the heat and hot water
but we didn't pay attention.
It happened
right before the blizzard
that dumped the second largest
amount of snow in
the history of new york city.

I don't know what the largest amount was.
I don't pay attention to weather.
Or statistics.

But here we were, the apartment
usually so hot slowly going cold
like a dead body.
We piled up the blankets.
You wore a snow cap inside.
We watched movies.
We complained online.
Our friends made suggestions
about what we can do to warm up
wink wink
but no one wants to take
off their clothes when they're freezing
and besides didn't you hear what I said
about no hot water?

You know how long it's been since I showered?

Also these drugs I'm on make sex
seem like a weird alien ritual until I'm actually doing it.

The cat, who is nearly seventeen
or maybe nearly eighteen
I'm not sure because like weather
and the signs of the boiler dying
that's another thing I don't pay attention to,
hasn't moved off the couch in days.

The floor is like ice
and the tea goes cold in minutes
if you don't drink it right away.
We switch to wine instead.

The rest of the building is quiet
and I suspect everyone has fled
this dystopia we're in
except for the one girl in the hall
screaming at the super's wife
telling her that this should have been fixed
because it's been days and days now
I'm not sure how many
because I've stopped paying attention to that too

but I press my ear to our cold door,
see my own breath
and I listen
and you say
Come back to the couch, honey.
Your words crystallizing in the air.

Ally Malinenko is the author of the poetry collections The Wanting Bone and How to Be An American (Six Gallery Press) as well as the novel This Is Sarah (Bookfish Books).  She has a poetry collection entitled Better Luck Next Year forthcoming from Low Ghost Press.  She lives in Brooklyn.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Two Poems by Joan Colby

Breaking Up

That night in the car having found her,
His voice shook with bad weather
Like the rain pouring over the wind shield.

You could say she'd been abducted
Though she didn't think that.
She thought How dare you.  When

He put the gun to her head
It wasn't bravery when she said
Just stop.  It was scorn,

It was the broken glass of their misadventure
Into his fantasy of possession,
Her fantasy of love.  Neither authentic.

Seventeen and nineteen,
What could they possibly know.
They knew enough.

She had no use for drama pushing away
The cold metal of his intention
And he began to cry and she didn't care.

Carnival:  Roustabout

Sweaty, swarthy in undershirt
And ripped jeans, needing a shave,
Shifty, still something sexy
In those bronzed muscles, that lean
Torso, grin that promised what you'd
Never imagined until now.  "Hey, red,"
He says helping you into the seat
Of the wheel that will heft you skyward.
He leans too close fastening the bar
Over your bare thighs.  The wheel lifts slowly,
All the people below shrink into
Another dimension.  You are sixteen
And ready for this.  Or maybe not.

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, etc.  Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, an Illinois Art Council Fellowship in Literature.  She has published 16 books including Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press which received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize and Ribcage from Glass Lyre Press which has been awarded the 2015 Kithara Book Prize.  Colby is also a senior editor of FutureCycle Press and an associate editor of Kentucky Review.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Two Poems by Amit Parmessur

Monday Fasting

In the glittering temple of our village
the golden lingam sat as a magical mountain.
My father advanced, focused, but poured
the milk, thinking of the many starving children.
And murmuring, murmured a faint prayer.
Mother bowed worshipfully; with soft fingers
she dropped a datura before Shiva's emblem.
My little brother came, with bright eyes.
He tossed fragrant flowers on the stone.
Then I, and my wife too, came near in awe.
No one was really looking at us:
I saw Shiva, purple, powerful, and so real.
I smiled, sought His blessing, retreated, and
went out with many old sounds in my soul.

Little Bird

If you are a big perch,
I am just a little bird.

If you are real,
I have so many wild dreams.

If you are brown,
I have borrowed rainbow colors.

If you know many songs,
I am yet to learn singing.

If your flowers are always pink
I like all that's blue.

If your leaves love suicide
my feathers hatch fidelity.

If you are a swing
I'd love to swing a lifetime

and let the big gust
blow on, and on, and on.

Amit Parmessur owns interesting pots of flowers, especially purple.  His work has appeared in journals like Transcendence, Mused and Aphelion.  His dream is to catch a flying fish.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Three Poems by Judith Skillman

November's Vine

Let me see these strings as they are,
planted on bark.  Arrows growing upward
to kill the living crown.  Let me become
more inward, listening to a mood
and naming it for a color.  Allow the snake
its grass and bush, its cover, its camouflage.
What a yellow, crooked path into these woods.
The body twists away, supposes it knows
its own fingers.  The leaf blower holds a wand,
annihilates all that has fallen fecund,
to the ground.  Let me see these strings
as catgut wound to a maple trunk, bound
to play the song of another, shorter season.

Gray Dusk

Comes fast in March.
As if Vuillard had used
Payne's Gray.
Wiggly lines and squiggles
Fill in the sky
Which was white all day,
And carries the west
More heavily,
As if direction was a value,
A darker shade
To travel in, the trees
Burnt cold, a shiver
Of new leafing in.

It falls like a flimsy blanket
You can see through,
Leaves a glazed look
On those you once knew.

The pansies won't open.
Little fists of color
Remain closed in plots
Beside the front door.

It comes on so you know
He, Vullard, was a wild
Beast when he painted
The tall vase in colors
Prussian and Alizarin,
With that wallpaper
Bizarre enough to scare
A surrealist.

When he painted Elles Belles,
The path shone white
Under a sky so mysterious
He didn't bring it down
Far enough to so much
As touch the weeping willow,
The shrub with its raw umber
Filigree, the white puddles
A misty sun smudged shut.

When Shall I Be Like the Swallow?

Instead this ground-hugging countenance,
pocket of sun trapped close to grass, where I,
like the snake, daily make my way through
exigencies of the body's ossification.

Bone spurs, Hallus Rigidus, varied
and sundry conditions de rigueur
incurred by the flesh I have no choice
but to wear.  How rise from depression when,

in strictness, pain directs my hours?  How
entertain maneuverability
in dormant surfaces unoiled?  How lift,

wear the adornment of a long, forked tail?
How gain loft to capture all that was lost
before I knew the story of my age.

Judith Skillman's new book is House of Burnt Offerings, Pleasure Boat Studio, 2015.  Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, J Journal, Seneca Review, Southern Review, Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies.  Her awards include an Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets.  Currently she works on manuscript review:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Three Poems by john sweet

the sick child in a room filled w/grey light

and rain in the palace of leaning bones
and the fields all thick with mud
                                     with grey weeds
                                     and garbage
and there is only ever where you are
leaking roof
and a man with a gun
homicide or suicide but at
least the baby sleeps through it
the sun is a rumor spread by
maria out on the west coast
you want to believe her
but the car won't start
your fingertips crack and bleed
the poem is no more or less a
waste of time than anything else while
we wait for the weather to clear

leonard sends news of another dead poet

midnight in the palace of
leaning bones and
you sleep poorly
rain down the walls, staining
the pictures, blurring them, phone
almost ringing but not quite and
in the dream your oldest
son was dying
you're paralyzed
afraid to walk across the hall,
afraid to look too closely
in the mirror
not as old as your father yet,
but older than cobain
older than christ
useless acomplishments in a
world already
overflowing with them

no luck, only slowly dying machines

can't just sit in the
corner swallowing your own blood
can't be a prophet when you have
                               nothing to say
                               so just shut up
just stand there laughing
holding handfuls of fire for the
starving children to eat
know that i love you and then
know that i hate you and that the
                         stars are all dying
should one of us care?
will either of us ever grow
cold enough to
put the other in the distant past?
seemed like a possibility once
the sunlight all turned
to snow

john sweet is opposed to all organized religion, a believer in sunlight and in surrealism as a way of life.  most recent collection is The Century of Dreaming Monsters (2014 Lummox Press).  Before that was Human Cathedrals and others going back into the mists of  the late 20th century.  He continues to be an ongoing concern.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Two Poems by Lily Tierney


Your voice was silent
printed words describing a
passionate desire for more.

Caressing each line
flowing with rhythm that
explodes into thoughts
that venture into the unknown.

Releasing an abandoned
soul only to find myself
again and again.


Darkness I can always see
and feel you around me.

Sensing you consuming me
calling out to the shadows
in the night.

I know when you leave
the emptiness can
never be filled with

The shadows play as
I walk toward my conscience.

I don't regret what thoughts
I left behind.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Three Poems by BZ Niditch

Peace Dove of Picasso

Hearing a mourning dove call
by the gecko who lands
over this sandy coast
on a day of pure air
the bird with its tone's echo
going and then coming away
to take a wash along the beach
by bright tourist ships
in the home harbor
as my dusky eyes rose up early
with flying doves over my head
is now a warm memory
to all who recall her
by the dunes and redwood
reaching for the waters
in the bluest sea
of illumined words
when first light enfolds
my hand of sunflower seeds
from a breathing wind
in the neighborhood
as daughters and sons
of the wellspring wind
wakes up those who are lost
from motioning shadows
whom fate double-crossed
on ocean journeys
those troubled yet survive
double minded in the eventide
searching for the shore
where we long for peace
with more of Picasso's art.

Words Can Happen

Words can happen
in unexpected times
from an arrival of summer
by trekking on back roads
watching a dove
on frenzied wings
or hearing a cardinal sing
over ladders of seasonal silences
when herons climb
upon Evergreens
near a poet's buried footsteps
amid secret silences
on a nostalgic hammock
folding over two paper roses
creativity may occur
watching egrets
by the home harbor shore
for an early swim,
words can wash over you
from wayward third parties
who send waves to you
on the seas' dark coolness
covering a white desert and
with a butterfly net
or at the freshly painted gazebo
by the lighthouse's luminosity
or listening to the tremor
of an oboe or coronet
from the brass or woodwinds
playing a set from a jazz sax
over nuanced quarter notes
in a Newport quintet
by a quilt of sunshine
from your peace arm band.

Hearing Us Out

The smooth jazz plays
above the windowsill
grackles sing furiously
by wellsprings like this
near shadows of geraniums
it seems a curious day
in the season's weather
for the winds, rain, shower
or to hum a childhood tune
when warm words emerge
like a light feather's secret
on a blackbird's wing
yet the urge for creativity
has reason in its metamorphosis
for a temperamental poet
discovering nature's outback
to be hovering
over red flowers, bees, Evergreen
in our neighborhood
playing sax by the river bed
here on Spectacle island
at the perfect morning hour
for her to deliver a day dream
for any emerging refugee
hiding in the woodland
or in exile from parental storms
reaching out for a riff miracle
on the sandy beach.

BZ Niditch is a poet, playwright, and fiction writer.  His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including Columbia, A Magazine of Poetry, Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Hungary), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others.  His newest poetry collection, Everything, Everywhere, will be available from Penhead Press in September.  He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Poem by Deanna Paul

It's You, My Catch Twenty-Two
          Hurricane Andrew, 1992

Trees fall outside the lobby, but it's silent
in hotel hallway.  I hear the rise and subside
of mother's chest and a weeping howl at the window.
It's dark enough to see him approach:
grey skin and purple blood, his body moves
like shattering glass clasping one eye
that calms the storm.
Only three moments before he leaves me
freezing, dilated watching those fiery eyes recede
I must remind myself to breathe
in the softly whooping winds,
the soon-to-be blazing breeze.

He's like deja-vu:  that familiar, comfortable--
yet almost always fleeting--feeling
on the edge of my tongue.  I feel him
in my fingertips as I raise a glass,
toast this cup of calmness, this shot
-glass of splintered silence.  Let him linger
like a lover's lips and leave me
like a towel--getting wetter
as I dry in his angry arms.

Deanna Paul is a New York City attorney by way of Miami Beach, Florida.  Though a full time lawyer, she has spent the last three years taking writing courses at New York University's School of Continuing Professional Studies and Gotham Writers and poetry workshops through UCLA Extension, Brooklyn Poets, and Poets House.  Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot and Drunk Monkeys.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Three Poems by Robert Nisbet

A Lesson in History

Through West Wales, Hebridges,
through leagues of old brown land,
men farmed stock, wrinkled eyes
to a blaze of sun and breeze,
soaked up rain, walked hail and mud,
cherished the horizon in
the very early day.

while merchants dealt in deals,
choreographed coin,
racked land and stock and heart.

Others meanwhile sang blues and soul,
painted palaces and clouds, flung
excited, unexpected reds
and blue.  There were harpists, careful
stonemasons, and engineers
whose bridges lift and elevate,
and carers, teachers, seers of sorts,
who set their faces to a dim cool space
where coin and dealing falter.

The Cafe Days

The chat quite genial, whimsy's
talk.  Overlords, it seemed,
of March's maidenfolk.

(Spring's benign term,
folk club chords and
poetry's rejection slips,

dry cider, dry banter,
skip jive, bars, a little
learning lightly taken in).

We even journeyed on so soon
to Suburbia Avenue,
on memory's light tread.

Moon River

A crooner's schmaltz maybe,
yet as we cruised the half-mile walk
from dancehall to your parents' house,

town sounds stilled rapidly
in street lamps' moonlit mix.  Song's
aura tinged the late night sky.

Many have commented, I know
(such dry, wise Larkins),
on love songs' broken promises.

But such moments, such midnights'
reaching impulses, had their own
direction, flow and light.

Robert Nisbet, a writer from Wales, UK, was for some years an associate lecturer in creative writing at Trinity College, Carmarthen, where he also acted as professor to exchange students over from the Central College of Iowa.  His poems appear in many British magazines, in his chapbook Merlin's Lane (Prolebooks, 2011), and in the USA in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review, Main Street Rag, and Constellations.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Five Poems by Changming Yuan

Jingzhou Pepper

     Grown in my native place, the ancient Chu Kingdom, where Mao Zedong and Qu Yuan were born and raised, the Jingzhou Pepper is the most tasteful pepper in the whole world.

Too fat
Too skinny
But perfectly in a unique shape
Each is
Just hot enough
To make you
Either a revolutionary like Mao Zedong
Or a poet like Qu Yuan

Last Visit to My Native Village

So, my closest classmate Zhu Zhuogui
Finally died of his old disease
My best work/playmate Siyan
Killed himself with a fat bottle of dichlorvos
Even my first girlfriend Zhou Yeqiong
Is somehow dead; now I find myself
A total stranger amidst my own fellow villagers
And their direct offspring
While the calls of frogs and cicadas
The odor of water buffalo shit
The taste of zahujiao (fried rice with shredded chili)
The tenderness of cotton flowers
And nodding ears in the rice field
Are all as familiar as last century

Divided Soul

Also, my soul has split into two halves;
One still remaining
Within my body
The other flying afar
Like a satellite of our world

While both are singing aloud
Within an immortal entanglement


Sitting on a park bench
You saw a lost crow as lonely
As you were, whose dark shadow
Was fading into twilight, bit by bit

Like your soul
Shredding into pieces
Now drifting along the skyline of
Vancouver West

Departing:  For Liu Yu

Ever since my father's departure, I have found it
Unbearable to see my beloved mother.  Indeed
I cannot stand even to think of her while she cooks
My favorite dishes in the kitchen of my newer
House in Vancouver West, or smiles at my son and
Chats with me over my boyish nastiness at the border
Of my dream.  Indeed, I feel both my body and
Soul tightened, my voice choked with sorrow
And pain, each time this evil thought props up at the
Backyard of my heart:  with my father gone forever
My mother is now living a posthumous life among us
As her aging and fragile life is fading at the edge
Of our wishes and prayers.  Mom, are you still there?

Changming Yuan grew up in rural China, began to learn English at 19, and published monographs on translation before moving to Canada.  With a PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry, Best New Poems Onling, Threepenny Review and 1109 others across 37 countries.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Two Poems by Don Mager

May Journal:  Saturday, May 18, 2013

Old colleague--stalker--pal--the heat climbs
down to the yard.  It says how glad it
is to be back.  It grabs gulps of sun
and splats them down to wilt tomato
towers and pungent beds of herbs.  Okras
limp in shame.  Heat knows its way around
the yard and remembers where to scorch
the grass and how to press hot irons on
granite stepping stones.  Its first bully
day back on the job's a farce.  Humid
air swells its lungs.  Haze swells its clouds--clouds,
their cloudburst.  The brief shower turns
to face evening with slaps of cool shade.
Okra resurrections stand up straight.

November Journal:  Thursday, November 7, 2013

In a shower of gold, sunlight sweeps
back the heavy drapes of fog.  Sweetgum
trees flare their cry curry saffron stars.  Red
oaks tower crowns of umber flames.  The
regiment of Bradford Pears strides out
in claret uniforms.  Reclusive
Redbud trees huddle whispering dry
lentil pods like eels dangling beneath
mango-peach hued leaves.  The Willow Oaks'
dried mustard yellow leaves trickle down
feathers.  Like kids at a holiday
tow store window, eyes can't drink up all
the dazzlement.  Color goes on and
on from toe to tip.  From rim to rim.

Don Mager's chapbooks and volumes of poetry are:  To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns, The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook, Drive Time and Russian Riffs.  He is retired with degrees from Drake University (BA), Syracuse University (MA), and Wayne State University (PhD).  He was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004 where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (2005-2011).  As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech, and Russian.  He lives in Charlotte, NC. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Two Poems by Michael H. Brownstein


After the years to be,
the old man and old woman
fat with life from the city
sit outside the back steps
close to each other,
and when the train goes by
see the roar of train on track,
its mosaic of spark and squeal,
the vibration of its shadow,
let its sound tuck them in.


the soul in man changes into an animal on death.

the word is mbisimo:
the people say it comes from the witch sending the soul of his witchcraft to eat the soul of the flesh of man.

medicine has a soul.

the word is umbaga:
a second spear does the final killing no matter if only one spear has been used.

in Orrissa, the Jeypore witch lets a ball of thread flow downwards until it touches the skin of an enemy, places the other end of the thread into her mouth and sucks her enemy's blood.

the word is sugar:  it falls into our hair
a saturation of tissues
fills our brain with soul.

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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three Poems by John Casquarelli

Paper Carnations

"If you can't be free, be a mystery"

                   -- Rita Dove

hope can be fool's gold
cloaked in syntax and codes
unable to recognize itself
in any given plot
or understand the natre
of progression when the solstice
offers more than a series of
unanswered questions in indigo
and sapphire under the enveloping silk

because hunger isn't just
about your next meal
a web of thoughts amid
the juniper-berry scented checkout
lines at the Safeway grocer
lights like shining asters
melting at the edges
while we argue
over our entanglements

vulnerable to a stranger's eye
in a sentimental fragmentary text
with rocking chair reverse logic
Faustian longing summer sunset
reflecting on windows and washlines
as we perpetually push our boulders
upward on a mountain of
weather reports and mass advertisements
seduced by a vague yet romantic farewell

from Havana Dialogue

No despiertes corazon
Si sun estas dormido
Tu que siempre has sufrido
En silencio y resignacion

          walking in circles like
          dead leaves in an afternoon
          storm suspended in mid-thought
          nurtured by the silence

Cuantos suenos de fantasia
Durante tu infancia anoraste
Y en tu juventud anhelaste
Despurtando en cruda ironia

          maybe it's because we spent too
          much time with too little imagination
          alone & urged by paper bodies
          under a cavernous sky

Duerme duerma corazon herido
Por los duros golpes de la suerte
En la vida todo te ha mentido
Solo es verdad la muerte

          with each image there is desperation
          a prisoner containing a scarlet letter
          affixed to their breast who longs
          to sleep beneath the billowing awnings

Defense Mechanism

mischievous late moon
rising over almond orchid
as far as the eye
                           or I
could see with
depths between fingers &
gold corollas         gravity
             spiral          corridor
inches from her paradigm
                            cosmic hallucination
that told us we were
petals expecting
our last autumn
but not too serious
             empty platitude
blow into the wind
& see if it responds
                          see if it gives another
              ambiguous answer amid the
cackles & clutter
euphoric hummingbird
                            of Aztec lore
                            nursing my wounds
               from the tempest roar
skin graft memorial to
                           the nine muses
feeding the young
recognizing every
last neurotic as
an intellectual leper
             shaking the sky
             of all its memories
                                        wiry curls
                            unscathed innocence
                            lingers on lip gloss
                            every day with a
                                          new exchange rate
                            of dream bubbles
                                        bodegas           stale beer
                            thinking the unthinkable
              during three-hour commute
              from provincial convention
                                          & constraint
sudden unbearable absence
a snapshot of the fishless creek
                          in Stevens' poem
                          seamless fabric of
                          my own undoing
greeting the tide
when the ocean waves
translucent sorrows sapped
dry red eyes
Prozac &
pink lemonade
                            scars that never heal
                            but why should they
music tilts            bodies between blossoms
                            between thighs
             turns to cantos
leads tongue to new adventures
perhaps this is what it means to
withdraw in one of those
                           unending songs
                softly aglow
a thousand portals behind
cables           &       viaducts
                                                      I used to refer to myself
                                                     in the third-person.  Now,
                                                     thinking back on it, did
                                                     John ever expect to under-
                                                     stand the myriad of mistakes
                                                     he made?  Probably not.
these are words for just about
more often than not
they're just meaningless
murmurs of morning dew
overlapping crescendos of
language plunged into the
moment        momentarily
              with no regard for
inventory or transparency
               churning whitewater
                             to purify our ears
I suppose nothing is ever forgotten

John Casquarelli is the author of two full-length collections, On Equilibrium of Song (Overpass Books 2011) and Lavender (Authorspress 2014).  He serves as Editor for Otter Magazine ( and is an English Instructor at Trinidad State Junior College.  He received his MFA in Creative Writing at Long Island University--Brooklyn.  John was awarded the 2010 Esther Hyneman Award for Poetry and the 2016 Kafka Residency Prize in Hostka, Czech Republic.  He is a member of a literary and art community called the Unbearables (  His work has appeared in the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association's (HETL) anthology, Teaching as a Human Experience (Cambridge Scholars Publishing).  Other publishing credits include Storm Cycle:  Best of Kind of a Hurricane Press, Suisun Valley Review, Ginosko Literary Journal, Pyrokinection, Visceral Brooklyn, The Lonely Crowd, and Kinship of Rivers.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Three Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Old Hens and Young Folks

Why do hens' cry-
socialize in familiar doctor offices.
The smell and the scent of times unchanged.
Those medical lab tests, the slap on bandages;
those stale magazines, edges folded back, undeclared ownership.
Seek nuclei redemption in prayer books of the New Testament.
I find them there beside me in seated chairs and wheelchairs that roll.
Why do old hens' cry?
Those berries and nuts buried beneath their dentures.
Bingo dancers, Wednesday bingo players,
the old hens read books, the young folks
handheld iPad wallet size,
space readers, internet of the universe unfolds.

Pentecostal Midnight Laughter

I laugh drunk
in the spirit, hands held high
Vodka vipers in air in prayer
invasion of the Pentecostal dancers,
baby rabbits holding hands in the aisle ways--
still no Jesus in the mushrooms
no Jesus in the Kale or Collard greens, or the red peppers,
two egg yolks post notes up yellow like young breasts
think they rule over my omelet, no cheddar cheese,
jaded and intoxicated.
I tinkle, shake it, and then bed, I go.

Arctic Chill North

Alberta arctic chill froze my life into exile.
North Saskatchewan River crystallize frozen thick.
My life entombed 10 years, prairie path thorns,
a hundred threats US government, border checks run further north.
I stand still in exile, lived my life in mixture of color, tangerine moon,
hangnail in the corner of my bachelor suits for years.
I close down curtain on this chapter with an amnesty agreement, a pledge.
I close down this sunspace, northern lights,
files I never burned draft card I never tossed away.
Thieves, dawn passion, pack, go home tonight.
This hell over my head passed now a halo, child, dream, murder.
Let the flicker between notes and years die ignore spaces.
Radio sounds in my car ears on the way back home, Indiana, 1,728 miles away.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era.  he is a Canadian and US citizen.  Today he is a poet, a freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 880 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  Author's website:  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 83 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:  Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry in 2015.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Poem by Sanjeev Sethi



Some are spoiled by too much
happiness.  Some by sadness.


In your calm soliloquize.
Those who care will catch it.


Without stoking it stalks her alcove.
Once gain keying the karmic clock.


Sometimes in the privacy of one's chamber one
wants to play with the nose.  Dig deep -- bliss.


Smiles due to stash or skeins of
structure are tocsins.  Hear them.


There is no clay for filling gaps
on greenboard of infancy.


Quicker one equips oneself with rites
of rasure, smoother will the sojourn be.


I'm as ordinary as the next orange.
I fart loudly -- mine even stinks.


The influential never listen.  Why must
they?  Kids and the confused do that.

The recently released, This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury) is Sanjeev Sethi's third book of poems.  His poems have found a home in The London Magazine, The Fortnightly Review, Allegro Poetry Magazine, Solstice Literary Magazine, Off the Coast Literary Journal, Hamilton Stone Review, Literary Orphans, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Otoliths, Muse India, and elsewhere.  Poems are forthcoming in Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Bitchin' Kitsch, First Literary Review-East, Meniscus.  He lives in Mumbai, India.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Three Poems by Diane Webster

Silent Sandals

Three pairs of sandals
silent on the curb
like three conflicted children
wanting to dash
the dodge ball gauntlet
of automobile traffic
in gleeful faith in immortality
while in each brain cell
mother's voice commands
not to cross the street alone
even if both ways are clear.
So the sandals remain
side by side holding hands
like new neighbor kids anxious
for someone to ask them to play.

Pendulum of Life

Fathers and children play in the park
with swings the center attraction--back and forth,
back and forth like walking with Mom
still in the womb, but with Dad now
an occasional shove keeps the action steady
like the groove underneath from dragging
heel-toe, heel-toe until shoe topples off.
Dad stops the swing with one strong hand
until her shoe is tied back on
like layer after layer of duct tape
over a leaky radiator hose
and he lifts her overhead
like a giant poised to toss a boulder
which he does--back and forth
back and forth, a pendulum of life
carved like the groove beneath their feet.

Shadow Journeys

Our shadows traveled together
tall or short with the sun's horizon
knowing morning reunites the journey.
Even when we parted paths,
I imagined yours next to mine.
After all, the same sun touched us both
until I walked on alone
leaving the shadow of your tombstone
sun dialing your legacy
carved in stone
as my shadow waved goodbye . . .
or maybe just hello.

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.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Three Poems by Ken L. Jones

A Battle with Strange Beings

October is no gentleman as it buttons up an eternal life
That is like a freezer full of leftovers
A Cesar salad of bicycles whizzing by
The prickly pear orange sound of the Velvet Underground
Who were a pound of flesh from a canyon's edge
That was vaster and might not have happened exactly as she remembers it

Shapes that Fade to

Night wanders around on the tripod legs of all that I have penned
And as if inspired by a teddy bear raves on and on about I remember when
While Glacier Point's warm words try to do a sequel to no matter the weather
As its wool is sheared off by the majesty of daydreams as effervescent
As olive brine and whose bitter tinge will unfortunately not live forever

Just Needs to Cast a Spell

The nights are long in the pages of my decades
As they escape into the lake shore's rosy tint
Along razor sharp trails filled with snow
To a gilded dreamland down below
Now all dust and weary but still an epiphany
For every fast hurtling season
That drags me along in the wake of its tidal fury

For the past thirty-five years Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published author who has done everything from writing Donald Duck Comic books to creating things for Freddy Krueger to say in some of his movies.  In the last six years he has concentrated on his lifelong ambition of becoming a published poet and he has published widely in all genres of that discipline in books, online, in chapbooks and in several solo collections of poetry.  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Two Poems by Jeanine Stevens

Cave Pearls Revisited

Chartreuse lichen anoints cave mouth,
my flashlight ignites inner chambers.
Tendrils of wild rose creep
to the core, where I find cave pearls
churning in a milky bath,
cauldron of young moons,
glossed pinkish brown.
Magic grains give birth to pearls--
yet simple scraps,
even gum wrappers will do.
The cavern below my navel
startles and swirls
wants to create,
yet lives in disrepair.
So root me, ask for new polish,
clutter, sort, glue and duck-tape.
I return to daily requirements,
a prerequisite for being human.
Weeds want to become orchids,
guano longs for the night bat.
Imagine how foolish,
yet precious the facts against them.
How can one sleep
with such everyday
dilemmas, when the torch
still sputters and even simple stars
hold sharpest points.

Taking the Coast Route

Before the fall term, she drives south, exits
at Anderson's Pea Soup off-ramp,
[a snap decision] will avoid Harris Ranch
and the bull stockade's pungent odor.
Suddenly exhausted
[hasn't prepared her first lecture],
she wonders if a stop-over somewhere?
A few miles back, that Moorish style hotel, mid-week rates.
Her room has a portico and peach-striped linens.
She unpacks her nightie embossed with bluebonnets.
Down late for dinner, she orders the Persian melon
with prosciutto.  One lone guest, the stocky,
balding sort, slurps raw oysters dipped in various sauces.
She unwinds in the whirlpool, a taste of rock cod,
and lime, tannic, and lingering.  Disrupted,
she makes room.  As suspected, barrel chested,
hair pattern a fuzzy mat, an ancient scrawl.
Burly in madras trunks, he hunches to catch vigorous bubbles.
[Should she notice Orion hovering
in the night sky, his gilded belt?]
Black cypress cut shapes in a citron moon, the late sky,
an exploding hologram.
Morning, the hotel in a fogbank, she breakfasts alone.
Decides her first lecture will not be the usual concepts,
but techniques for recognizing animal tracks,
odd-shaped spore and scent glands?

Jeanine Stevens studied poetry at U.C. Davis and has an MA in Anthropology.  Author of Sailing on Milkweed.  Her latest chapbook is Needle in the Sea.  Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, Jeanine has poems in Edge, Quercus Review, Pearl, Verse Wisconsin, North Dakota Review, Evansville Review and Squaw Valley Review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Poem by Wilda Morris

The Window

Why did the sparrow lay dying
on my grandson's bed
by the attic window?
The attic of what house?

Why did I call
my sister to remove
the quivering body?

Some say dreams
have no explanation.
Others insist there are truths
only dreams tell.

Maybe fears for the child
whose bed was invaded.

Maybe something about
my sister's strength, about how
I depend on her
to pull me through shadows.

And maybe part of me knows
that more than light can pass
through closed windows.

Wilda Morris is workshop chair of Poets & Patrons of Chicago, and former president of the Illinois State Poetry Society.  She has led poetry workshops for a variety of ages in three states.  Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she has won awards for free and formal verse and haiku.  Wilda's book, Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies:  Poems from the Chinese Restaurant, was published by RWG Press.  More than 400 of her poems have found homes in venues such as anthologies, print and Internet journals and newspapers.  Her work appears in such publications as BorderSenses, Alive Now, Turtle Island Quarterly, After Hours, Journal of Modern Poetry and Whitefish Review.  Wilda Morris's poetry challenge at provides poetry contest for other poets each month.

Monday, April 4, 2016

A Poem by Adrian Shaffer

the smell of sunshine

i am baffled by
the things that remind me of you:
a stranger's hair,
a neighbor's yell;
the time your sister locked herself in your room
and jumped out your window,
the day you crashed my skateboard,
and the night we slept in your closet.
(i mean it literally,
but you get impatient with all closets.)

every time i go too fast
every time i camp in the attic
every time i light a match
every thing is you.

it's strange that i never
loved it as much then;
time changes all truths.
i don't know now what was real
and what i made up after the fact
(like my feelings)
and what i only wish i could believe in.
it baffles me, the things that
remind me of what never happened.

Adrian Shaffer is a forever-child who calls fantasy worlds home and was raised in books and imagination.  He uses words and life to help others, raising awareness of the struggles he lives through as a trans and queer person.  Adrian's poetry shows the world as it should be, the world as it will be, if only art and world alike could shed the body.  It can show you who you are, reflected on a dirty surface; it can show you who he is, reflected on you.  You have only to open your eyes and let it in.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A poem by Miki Byrne


Our parents
lived in jagged silences.
Stretched drum taut.
Wound to a tight spiral
that drilled nerves raw.
Brought expletives, missiles,
an occasional shuddering cease-fire
as the juggernaut stilled.
We sat wide-eyed, trembling.
Frozen into immobility
lest movement provoke wrath,
pierce the invisibility of stillness.
Communication occurred
by notes taped to the grim white faces
of fridge, cooker,
the kettles bellied curve.
They went to work, returned,
walked through the motions
of domesticity.
Their lives moved in the same direction,
yet did not touch,
like marbles rolled
round a biscuit-tin lid.
We zoned out on white noise
that hissed and clattered
upon the ear.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Poem by Margaret Holbrook

A Page in My Diary

Usually my days are planned.
Every event of the day
listed, right down to dinner.

Not so today.  I opened
my diary and found
a blank page, a day escaped.

This was mine, clear
and unblemished.  I could do
whatever I wanted -- and I did.

I searched for your
letters.  The photographs
I'd kept, and once found
studied every word, every face.

I found your number in the
book.  We hadn't spoken
in years.  We talked, covered
our lifetimes.

By evening you had
disappeared, been tidied
from all but memory.

I checked briefly on tomorrow,
it was already planned.

Margaret Holbrook is a writer of plays, poetry and fiction.  She lives in Cheshire, UK, and has had her work published in several anthologies, most recently Schooldays published by Paper Swans Press, and in the following magazines, Orbis, SLQ, The Dawntreader, The Journal, The SHOp, Reflections, Areopagus, the caterpillar, and online in The Poetry Shed and Napalm and Novocain.  Her first poetry collection, Hobby Horses Will Dance was published in 2014.  Margaret leads the Creative Writing Workshops for Chapel Arts in Chapel en le Frith, Derbyshire.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Poem by Mark A. Fisher

We Forgot

we were waiting
could not speak
lest an enchantment come upon us
up out of darkness
where our stories were forged
in fairy tales
like hoarfrost
at the ends of trees
that go back to the beginning
with roots in fire
before time had meaning
and emptiness
what it was becoming

Mark A. Fisher is a writer, poet, and playwright living in Tehachapi, CA.  His column "Lost in the Stars" appears in Tehachapi's The Loop newspaper.  His plays have appeared on stages around California.  His poetry has appeared in Lummox, The San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, and Gutters and Alleyways.