Friday, July 6, 2018

Three Poems by JD DeHart


Like the image of the old
bound in balms by the young,
the girl in a meadow, just
a painting I glimpse.

She cares for the weeds
the same as the tender floral dots.

Her voice is an uncommon
invitation to the young, and her
eyes float the roof of the world,
considering her next phrase,
or the next petal to drop.

One finger pointing, indicating
someone, something, just
beyond the limits of canvas,
an invitation to jump in, invent
the other face in the portrait.

Sloth's Sway

In the considerate movement
of the sloth, I see my own
sanguine approach to this day.

Problems without solutions
gather in my mind like a mob
at bedtime, and so I carry these

voices with me all day, more
worn by the night than I should be,
slowly turning my head, munching

a leaf, preparing to hop down from
my perch, but thinking better of it
in halting concentration.

High-Back Chairs

Indecorous, the table
belongs in another room.
The wallpaper crisis,
aesthetics peeling in piles.

The high-back chairs join
the wing-backs for a seasonal
migration up the stairs.

I recall pictures of hollowed
out buildings, shavings, rust,
an artist who captured
ruin photographically.

One day my most carefully
preserved art will be nothing
but curls, hardly an insect
preserved in amber.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He blogs about books and authors at

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A Poem by Andrew M. Bowen

Driving to Muncie

The cottage-cheese clouds curdle
as sullen blue churns to swift-running gray;
the storms move in summer's violence,
the rain lashes the earth while thunder grunts,
and lightning dances in sky-high thunder ecstasy.
Great circles drive the kingly storms;
dew and piss and river and ocean
are taken up and then fall down
to feed the floods and ferns and forests.

Where stands the laboratory
that can take the measure of humanity?
What microscope can pin death
and what balance can weigh honor?
What calipers can divine integrity
and what telescope uncover love?

Once, prairies and floods and wild things;
swamps, trees, and living hills
would have conspired to slow my pace.
Now taxpaying populations
have laid these great pavements down,
encasing living, breathing Earth
in clever coats of steel, concrete, and hydrocarbon,
and reducing days to casual hours.
My ease requires the grudging
cooperation of the many to subdue the one.

Like Rasilnokov I stand baffled
by the pair that haunts my brain.
The one wants to sculpt this life
with wisdom, calm, and reverence
and leave a memory of talent
to shine like the first star of twilight.
But the other--the manic profane other--
wants hoisted bottle and bong,
one endless swill of brandy and attitude
before a willing death in bullets and pills.

Life is a tragedy.
We enter the world golden and empty,
yet petty hates and cheap frivolity,
misplaced hearts and withered brains
erase our slates of clean potential.
We hurt from blind blows of fumbling others
and in turn must lash out with closed eyes
and live with the gleeful whips
of shame and rage at failure.
Conscience is the ghost in the secret room.

And now I return me home
and the storms return to greet me.
The brawling rain chops vision into quarters
and lightning breaks from a nuclear point
to crackle down with relativity's speed.
Its sparkling glee mocks all the lights
of the moisture-battered city,
and its beauty that lasts but a glance
and the chaos of the swirling rain
and the proud laughter of the wanton wind
all scream at egocentric man:

"Life is a tragedy.
Enjoy it while you can."

Andrew M. Bowen works as an insurance salesman in Bloomington, IN.  He has published 71 poems and recently submitted his first two novels for publication.  He is also an actor who has appeared in eight independent films, seven stage productions, and two radio teleplays.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Three Poems from Sanjeev Sethi


In the melody of mirrors
I can't see myself:  the
hangover of hubris has
its effect.  Brachylogies
of the unknown kind
create an uproar in my
inner life.  The unsaid
has potential to incinerate.
Ataractic characteristic of
words entice me to indite.
Their aura stokes the self.
This union has a canorous air.


Achievers and those aspiring to be
are in queue with their Like(s).  In
networking units and the like there
is a demo of desiderata.  Pathfinders
detect no stigma in it, like those in
concupiscent gear check in at areas
of abasement without awkwardness.
Catafalque is not for all.


The flowers of shame
preen in pottery.
Adjoining in the miniature
firkin's emptiness
is evident.
I tell myself,
on ledge of life
there is no club
for the cursed.

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry.  His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015).  His poems are in venues around the world:  Mad Swirl, Synchronized Chaos, Chicago Record Magazine, Unlikely Stories Mark V, Peacock Journal, Poehemian, M58, A Restricted View from Under the Hedge, Amethyst Review, Bonnie's Crew, Urtica Lit Blog, Beakful|Becaqee, and elsewhere.  He lives in Mumbai, India.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Three Poems from Ken L. Jones

Secondhand Aria

The sparse facts of my revelations have a winter kind of silver light
out by this dreamy meandering hotel.
Where the smog, the dust the factory made rat-a-tat becomes
but the voices on the other end of a not too very well done pantomime
that leads to an eroded stairway to a thrift store.
Where unicorns and woodland nymphs are as common as koi fish.
Near where the grapevines of late autumn are the fairy godmother to a sea
that melts away into sheets of gold and trinket boxes made of half melted snow.

Luminous Exit

The seaside was impulsive and dreary.
Yet I felt strangely at home in the shadow of a dilapidated lisping castle
that loomed above me in the gold velvet steep hills
and though it was shattered it laughed like a child
as trade winds that once knew jade Atlantis scampered through it
and oh how that made the approaching darkness to become as numb as prehistoric stone
as it fell like Icarus yet never flinched for an instant even as it became one with the Irish coast.

Irish Farewell

I use to meet her in the late afternoon light
she whose long hair hung like Druid ruins.
On those days when the rain was half remarkable
and the breezes tickled the apple tree until it giggled like a child.
Back then my life lacked mucilage.
'Twas a low ceilinged room growing narrower everyday
until her lilting words that hinted of vaster universes
placed me on The Famine Ship and sent me on my way.

Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published writer for nearly forty years.  At the beginning of his career he became well-known as a cartoonist and had such work appear at Disney Studios and for the New Kids On The Block singing group.  In the last ten years he has concentrated heavily on writing poetry in various genres.  He has appeared in Kind Of A Hurricane Press' many anthologies and blogs.  His poems have also appeared in Phil Yeh's Uncle Jam Magazine, Dual Coast Magazine, Red Ochre Press, Poetry Quarterly, Circle of Light, and Tulip Tree Review.  His most recent achievement was a poetry chap book called Dreams of Somewhere Else published by Prolific Press.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Three Poems from Judith Skillman

Can't Return

Firs rise in green skirts
before the window.
Can't go back, the wind
says in its all too human moan.

I feel the degenerate within
take more of what it owns--
this flesh house
where all winter I sheltered.

Can't return the little birds
skewered and gnashed,
nor the sun
burning away wisps of fog.

How green the green
on February grasses,
how bright the whites
of branches tipped with sun.

The shadow grew like a wing.
Can't return the sturdy log
of a toddler I swaddled,
its baby's breath dried to tinder.


The old scar remembers its sear,
hot poker there inside prodding
an organ.  The afflictions of the hip
lie stored away, a laundry list
so detailed all it takes is one wrong move.

She remembers being paralyzed,
feeling nothing from the waist
down.  Recalls the siren's wail
as they drove with the two-year old
sitting up--crying and alive.

And then the waiting.
An interminable number of years
since then, the word scoliosis
comes into her back, takes its place
alongside four bulging discs.


Hooded bird, come in,
convalesce, hold conversation
with the unknown speaker.
Me, me, me, chirps the sparrow
through an open window.

On railings other would-be wishers
of gladness gather.
Crow, you come too,
dominate with shadow
the tabula rasa of sickness.

Who gets sick?
The sick get sick.
Cloud, rag, turpentine,
chloroform, influenza--
a table set with a vase of fruit.

Orator, forehead of a Latin speaker
placed upside down--
lift the cloak of illness,
its spell begun in a home
called pig sty.

Judith Skillman's recent book is Kafka's Shadow, Deerbrook Editions, 2017.  She is the recipient of an Erick Mathieu King Fund Award from the Academy of American Poets, an Artist Trust GAP grant.  Her work has appeared in Shenandoah, Cimarron Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, and other journals.  Visit,

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Poem from Bryan Damien Nichols


the right crest is what you want

it's when white crowns begin to crown
the azure water--
                        the vertical
                        the uplifting
                        the tug

            the curl--

                       its majesty--

                                   and forwardness throughout

thrusting seamlessly
             along azure crowned in white

                         like white crowned in azure

                                     and like

                                                 all the velocity that ever was

                                                              and like everything sublime

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A Poem from Ken Poyner

The Exploitation of the Gyndroid

She is
But she is not


In the modern models
Ones like her are assembled mostly
As a collection of
Primary flexible polymers.
Still, a little metal
Remains to mimic
The limitations of bone,
The popularly accepted range of joints,
The expected sense of unyielding interconnection,
And to give balance a reference.

The owner of this place
Rents her by the month from a
Utility services provider -- one
Of those middlemen
Who stock in bulk, and
Customize once the order is
Paid cold in advance
For the full time of the lease.

He uses a small sweat shop of
Bleeding edge programmers
To get the elan his customers
Will endure a premium for.  Each
Programmer draws code on flat screens
With dry fingers, exuding the excitement
Of accomplishment, not the maturity of

The music starts and the lights
Slink out of the way and in three
Layers of flimsy netting she
Steps onto the runway and begins
Her chilling cybernette dance.
Each bend and move is just a bit
Past believable, but short of
Absurd, and she engages the room
Like the mathematics of electric joy.

There is a hitch in the arc
Of the glass in your hand and
It stops just short.  You have
To lower your mouth to sip.
The liquid falls into place
Without resistance, hollowing.

One layer of netting is tossed at your
Feet and her barely veiled surfaces
Shimmer in prurient angles through
The layers that remain,
For now.  She looks back, over her
Directly at you as you appreciate how
She walks timelessly come-hither away.
Your fragile, wandering humanity tells you perhaps
In some circumstances
She is human

Ken Poyner's collections of short fiction, "Constant Animals" and "Avenging Cartography," and his latest collections of speculative poetry, "Victims of a Failed Civics" and "The Book of Robot," can be obtained from Barking Moose Press,  He serves as bewildering eye-candy at his wife's power lifting affairs, where she continues to set world raw powerlifting records.  His poetry lately has been sunning in Analog, Asimov's, Poet Lore; and his fiction has yowled in Spank the Carp, Red Truck, and Cafe

Friday, June 22, 2018

Two Poems from Miriam Sagan

dusk falls
wooden buddha
barely stirs

half moon
appears through snow clouds
winter afternoon
in the women's tub
i think i see you
or is it
just myself
in the hot spring mist

frozen waterfall
how music
becomes sculpture

lantern lit pathway
a white bed
to remember is somehow also
to forget

i thought it was
on the mountain side
in a long moment
it was snow

turning one more page
of the book
i have yet
to write

and the shadow of deer
and their reflections

the buddha
in a cold wayside shrine

neither a photograph
an apparition--
stepping stones

a dark mountain
my breath
its cage of bone

10,000 peaks?
more likely
10,000 flickers
of thought

a sliced apple
on a white plate
the moon
also sliced
in half
both her breasts
float in the water

when the goddess tara
becomes enlightened
only the most foolish
she should drop her body
for a man's

i could show you
one thing
also i could kiss
your eyelids
and both corners
of your mouth
at once

it was a small book
in which
i wrote
my memoir
of emptiness


The archer prince with his Turkish bow
And his Mongol hat aims an arrow

The white-breasted sun shot at solstice
Tumbles from the sky in a corona of feathers

Don't say I never loved you
Or failed to feed you dumplings

"Death to the Jews"
Spray painted on the uneven brick wall

"Russia for the Russians"
"Death to the Muslims"

Babushka holds a child
Overhead the roar of warplanes

Inside, crumbs of black bread
And a mouse called starvation

I'll never be at peace with the unrolled
Double helix of my chromosomes

Or how one matreshka doll
Fits inside another, and another, and so on

Miriam Sagan is the author of 30 published books, including the novel Black Rainbow (Sherman Asher, 2015) and Geographic:  A Memoir of Time and Space (Casa de Snapdragon), which won the 2016 Arizona/New Mexico Book Award in Poetry.  She founded and headed the creative writing program at Santa Fe Community College until her retirement in 2016.  Her blog, Miriam's Well ( has 1500 daily readers.  She has been a writer in residence in four national parks, at Yaddo, MacDowell, Colorado Art Ranch, Andrew's Experimental Forest, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Iceland's Gulkistan Residency for creative people, and another dozen or so remote and unique places.  She is recently returned from Kura Studio, Itoshima, Japan, where she was working on text installations as part of the creative team "Maternal Mitochndria."  Her awards include the Santa Fe Mayor's award for Excellence in the Arts, the Poetry Gratitude Award from New Mexico Literary Arts, and a Lannan Foundation residency in Marfa.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Three Poems from Linda M. Crate

no place to hide

there are whispers
never said to me,
but of
i know they exist
but i pay them no mind
if you don't give
your soul
to the things you love
will consume you
but my fire was built
to destroy
monsters and all their many bones--
i know the masks
they hide behind
pretending they are human
when they are much worse
as humanity can be
they know themselves for what they truly are,
but these beasts cannot claim the same;
they say they are forces to be reckoned with
yet always run from their problems
and when provoked with
the unforgiving fury of truth
bury themselves beneath further lies
i will give them no place
to hide.

anxiety weighs me down

sewing together
tapestries of stars
i was born
of the moon and her sun

an immortal of the flame
so many have thought
to throw water
on me,

but the ocean is my sister
and together we
exact lyrics of the most
beautiful revenge

eroding away rocks who
think they will not fall;
i don't know why they seek
to destroy me

perhaps the vibrancy
of my life or light
terrifies them--
my intensity is a frequence

that most don't seem
capable of
fathoming or valuing,
but i don't waste my time

worrying anymore over them;
anxiety always weighs me down
their mountains aren't mine to climb
i have problems of my own.

flower seeking light

they want to play
with my fire
yet without the consequence
of getting burnt,
but that's not playing fair;
just because
life isn't always fair doesn't mean
that i will not be--
and i will burn down
the tongues
of all the nightmares that would
seek to shatter my dreams
too many times
i have been told i am too much
or not enough,
and i tire of all their petty games;
there is no clothing
of their oppression that i will
ever receive
because i am the reality of dreams
those flowers that bloom
and bloom and bloom every year
without dying
because i seek the light
they all deny

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville.  Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print.  She has five published chapbooks:  A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press -- June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon -- January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017), and splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January, 2018).

Monday, June 18, 2018

Three Poems from J.J. Campbell

how these cycles actually work

i think the children
of today actually
believe they are
above being

that's the joy of
not understanding
how these cycles
actually work

if they were actually
working to eliminate
the abuse

i'd be all for their
high and mighty

but like so many
generations before

it's easier to sweep
under a rug than
make a statement
on national television

i like to finish ever job

i'm in the process
of drinking myself
to death

the latest lab results
show some damage
to the liver

but all my other
numbers look

so, there's still
work to do

warping my little mind


the only time
i felt like i was

the bright colors
warping my little

i took acid one
night and saw
a woman that
looked like jesus
laugh at me for
thinking any of
this was real

her serpent like
tongue licked
me like a lost

i know i wasn't
high enough

i could remember
our dog eating its
own shit

J.J. Campbell (1976-?} is a dying flower wilting away in the suburbs of Ohio.  He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Midnight Lane Boutique, Synchronized Chaos, Duane's PoeTree, Yellow Mama and Horror Sleaze Trash.  You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Two Poems from Jonathan Hine

A Hard Journey

in the empty house


where old junk fills space

the moon's dead light
floats through

darkened rooms

in that place
was a flame

next to the

from the



The Buddha Wisely Advised

wholesale cosmic


flower image
dream machine


the gleam dimmed
lens cracked




the god of

lovable as uncontrolled fire

built this house

the beams
the dome

the whole

Jonathan Hine's work has appeared most recently in Hobo Camp Review, In Between Hangovers and Synchronized Chaos.  He has forthcoming poetry in Midnight Lane Boutique.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Three Poems from Rus Khomutoff

Nemesis Sky

A secret transmission
a noncoincidence found in
infinitization of otherness
the flame under the rubble
traversed unceasingly by the horizon
interdependence of a cosmic trigger
blossom quick synastry
sweet bitter officialdom
of the nemesis sky


Underneath the arches of these generalities
the past, present and future
of the eternal menagerie
like a bouquet of fire through the lyric
guilty pleasures that enter while you exit
cyan deserve claim
bestow kiss merge rot
speculate dragonfly
linked deletions and much more

Love parasite

The explicit nevermind
a burgeoning finality
lullabies and laments in zeroland quiver
behind the beautiful forevers
iconic dodges of the midnight salvage
chronic meanings outbraving time
Cheetah Chrome
much madness in divinest sense

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Two Poems from Erren Geraud Kelly

Coffeehouse Poem #282

The woman with the titanium
Leg waves at me from
Across the room, but
I don't really notice a
Prosthetic leg at all

It is long and sleek
"A souvenir from desert storm"
She jokes

She was a Victor, not a victim

It reminds me of a missile
When she walks, she cuts
A path like the blade runner
She told me she ran a
Marathon on her bullet leg
And I am dumbfounded
Though, she laughs like a
Song, when she admits
Sometimes, she is clumsy
When she's dancing

Tall Girl in a Black Dress

Moving like a lion in the serengeti
Like a jaguar automobile sleek down city streets
Like trees swaying to the melody
Of the wind
She's a poem that hasn't found
Someone's voice
If only all the world's problems
Could be solved
All the wars ended
And some man's dream came
Because of a tall girl in
A black dress

Erren Geraud Kelly is a two-time Pushcart nominated poet from Boston; has been writing for 28 years and has over 300 publications in print and online in such publications as Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine (online), Ceremony, Cacti Fur, Bitterzoet, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg and other publications; most recent publication was is Black Heart Literary Joural; has also been published in anthologies such as Fertile Ground, and Beyond the Frontier; work can also be seen on Youtube under the "Gallery Cabaret" links; also the author of the book, Disturbing the Peace, on Night Ballet Press.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Two Poems by Sydney Peck

October Thursday

One of those days when the morning
Is losing the struggle to be born,
Heavy cloud smothering each ray's attempt
To creep out of the hills,
The pale sun-disc already too exhausted
To glow in the ragged breaks in the cloud.

One of those days when the bus is late,
When the coffee machine has broken down,
And no one is bothered about fixing it.
This is not a day to meet anyone socially,
Just for staying indoors and doing my job,
Saying nothing as I slip down to the cafe
For a take-out large black, no sugar.

I still see it now, still smell the coffee.
She appeared as if from nowhere,
Pushed ahead of me in the queue,
Smiling at me to give herself permission.
The smile that woke up the day,
That woke up the whole month,
That woke up my whole life,
Startled my dormant heart,
And told me to marry her--
Fifty years ago come tomorrow.

Knife Heaven

At the end I was rusty, had lost my edge,
Handle had long ago come off.
I sensed it was the scrap heap for me as soon as
She found a new sharp blade for the kitchen.
Knives are not Buddhists--
We don't come back as ax heads,
Or machine parts, or paper clips.
We go to knife heaven where
Our blades are straightened and sharpened,
With a new handle added:
And we live in a celestial drawer of shiny cutlery
With angel choir knife music playing constantly.

Sydney Peck is a schoolteacher and ardent poet, and in his spare time enjoys singing and playing traditional folk music.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Two Poems by Robert Nisbet

Bullies and Blokes

Our Latin master, fifty years ago.
His sarcasms were like the edge
of a blade of grass, stinging so much
when drawn across a tenderness.

The football chairman of that time,
scorning the softies, fairy boys,
playing to baying public praise,
the adulation of the toadies.

I've seen both in their nursing homes
and was amazed to see them shrinking,
back into a cornered bitterness,
where no-one came to play the victim
and breezy nurses bustled through.

Now Wittsy, Tosser, Jinksy.  Blokes various,
had jobs, did things, now picking up the part
of local good old boys.  Standing
in a March sun by the Shop on the Green,
hooting mirth.  An inventory would show
arthritic joints, the odd bits here and there
not working as they should.  But they share
a pleasure in the sun, the day, the Green,
the coming of another, yet another spring.

Right Back

We recalled him well, big strong right back,
playing in local teams, on local pitches,
tall solid lad, hard in the tackle and defense,
not a dirty player, let's just say resolute.
It was odd to hear he later became a priest.

We thought back.  Yes, he was hard but fair,
maybe tackling just a shade too heavily
at times.  Maybe, running beside a winger,
he'd nudge his hip across.  He never argued,
never challenged refs.  As we said, hard but fair.

A further decade later, we learned that he
was now a missionary.  When he called once,
he told the barber of the African territory,
of building hospitals, of staffing schools,
of work with pain and poverty and loss.

We'd thought our fields, our local pitches,
a kind of permanence.  An enclave, a retreat.
But I can see him still, strong into the tackle,
coming away with the ball, booting upfield,
down with touchline, deep into opponents' half.

Robert Nisbet is a Welch poet who lives about 30 miles along the coast from Dylan Thomas's Boathouse.  He has published widely in Britain and the USA.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Three Poems by g emil reutter

They Come Even in a Storm

The third nor'easter of the year has arrived
winds agitate trees, whips rain against bricks
warm glow of lights reflect off macadam.  Snow
has yet to fall, yet in the middle of the block a
tow truck idles, radio crackles consumed in
the turbulent air.  Truck backs up to a 2017
Ford as the voice of a young woman rises in
a painful shrill, car is hooked, she wails as one
does at a wake.  She watches as the truck pulls
away into the now swirling snow, yellow strobe
lights of the repo truck fade into the darkness
of the storm.

Under the Pilings

Separating the homes of the neighborhood
was a swath of a field.  Just wide enough for
a football or baseball game.  In the middle of
the swath was a tall piling as a ladder to the sky.
Underneath we created makeshift diamonds in
the summer and grids in the autumn.  When the
day wore on and boredom hit we would climb
the ladder to the sky and while most only made
it up two stories, Jim and Tommy always made
it tot he top, stood with arms raised between
insulators and wires as if they were kings of the
sun.  So now an old man I return to the swath of
a field between the homes of my old stomping
grounds.  There are no ballfields under the piling
and no kids running around the field.  The ladder
to the sky now posted with no trespass signs, no
kids climbing most likely they are more cautious
than we were and probably smarter.

The Cat's Escape

Flowers uprooted from box, stomped
     upon sidewalk, ripped up photographs
          scattered across living room floor, dog
               hiding under the couch, cat hanging on
                    door knob seeking escape, yearbook torn
                         apart, thrown in trash just because you
                              didn't have one.

Glasses broken upon kitchen floor
     barefoot you ran over shards, through
          the house, your voice changed from high
               shrill to baritone, I did not know who you
                   were speaking with.

As your mind descended into dark places
     you grabbed a piece of plastic, tried to cut
          your wrists the wrong way, naked you burst
               through the front door ran down the street to
                    the park frolicked amongst the dandelions, screamed
                         at the sky, I grabbed a robe, retrieved you, returned to
                              entrapment of the coffin of a house.

You lay down upon the couch, spoke in a 
     normal voice as if nothing had happened, fell into
          a deep sleep.  I pulled the dog from under the couch
               sat on the front steps, held her as she licked paws, watched
                    the cat walk down the street.  I placed the dog into the house
                         she ran up the steps.  I looked at you on the couch, turned
                              opened the door, walked out and followed that cat away from
                                       this place.

g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories.  Nine collections of his fiction and poetry have been published.  He can be found at:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Two Poems by Byron Hoot


The sanctuary of a bar
is something the right kind
of theologian would know . . .
how entering is stepping
over a threshold, how the conversations
are prayers, the libations
sacred elixir, the breaking
of bread an act of communion
made in-between laughter
and sighs, stories of joy
and sorrow
                   where the art
of forgetfulness--God's own
art--is practiced for awhile
and the liturgical response, "One more"
is absolution for all that can't
be absolved.
                      Like all things religious, however,
it can be taken too far
and sanctuary becomes bedlam
of heart and soul and body
and mind just like any other
sanctuary can become . . .
                                           though like all
theology "Last call" is but
a temporary closing of the doors.


How ludicrous to think
                                       "I am;"
How ludicrous not to--

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Three Poems by Michael H. Brownstein

A Familiarity with Strangers

we knew each other by the spotlight on wild flowers,
the bath of prairie sage and the colors blue and green
a glitter of light across the broad shape of grass near the blog
the swamp the busy muscles of mire and marshlands
a wave of thistle and a blockade of thorny rosebush

we knew each other by the spotlight on animal trails
the curvature of mud into earth stone into boulder
a crusade of pebbles across a breach shells to far from water
leaf imprints common deer tracks a sink of possum and skunk
the bend at the bluff taking us to the angle of palisade

we knew each other by the spotlight on birdsong
a thrust of wing and feather a storm of insects and then a quiet
the hurry of flying mammals and chimney sweeps rising
a whine a chirp a melody of temperament and hunger
the silence between refrain notes rests a pitch of light


I do not feel like spoiled meat
rancid heart
a register of dismay

An anger or an auger
an achor
metal rusting inside tissue

Echoes of ethos and ghosts
the ego of night
the boasting day

Seawalls breaking within tide
long streams of sand
a disconnect between rock and bone

Yet a mountain can roar
prairie grass flowers
hornets do not always sting

Saving the Light

her eyes blue cypress sky
taureen, squalene, Dorzolamide HCI
a tint of turquoise paper barked birch
prednisolone acetate, shark liver oil
the great heron indigo and pastel.

the First Cataract a series of pebbles,
small islands, a whiting of water
the Second larger and bolder
shallows and sediment
proteins with mass and shadows

vitamin C, a strength of zinc
a covering of wood and dead cherry blossoms
red peppers, bits of kale, pea protein
a purple scar and then a darker scar
glaucoma and finally a lack of light

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 (Samsidat 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), The Possibility of Sky and Hell:  From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013), and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2013).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Three Poems by Eric Evans

Our Lady of the Perpetual Calendar

Bow down before
the almighty alter of

Embrace the to-do list
as gospel,
as scripture,
as legally-binding
under penalty of
examination of your
suspect motivation
and dubious level
of commitment.

Make way for the crown prince
of the checkmark, his path strewn
with the shreds of memos past,
his head festooned with a paperclip
crown, his wrists adorned with
binderclip bracelets clacking
their dull administrative song.

But most importantly hush and
mumble as we cancel all noise
for our lady of the perpetual
calendar, each grid a brand
new chance to get things done,
to fill the blocks to overflow,
seemingly unaware that each
thing done has its way with each
thing still undone, the unattended
clamoring like the desperate
faithful with outstretched hands
hoping for a mere graze of her
rapidly passing robes.

Mercury Cougar, Circa 1973

There sits, in a Northwest parking
garage, a Mercury Cougar, circa 1973,
its tires flat, its luster long dusted
over -- was it pea green?  a shade of
gold?  a mustard hue?  who can tell
after all this time?  a matchbook
sits atop the dashboard, tickets
and a ballpoint pen nested in the
passenger-side seat, its owner
20-odd years passed after locking
its doors and setting off for what
became the beyond.

When the doors are finally opened,
and they will be, in the name of
commerce or progress or curiosity,
when this Michigan-made time capsule
spills its deep-seated secrets, what
will it share?  The last plume of
smoke from an unfiltered cigarette?
The final strains of a then-new,
now-classic song?  The news of a
celebrity death, another disaster
gone too far, another war?  Will you
hear the raspy laugh of an off-color
joke, the pissed-off rant of the
over-taxed and under-served, the
catch in the throat of a man broken
one too many times?

At the pop of those long-pinned locks
will they traffic in fact or fiction,
actual or mystery, what was, what
is or what maybe, possibly might've
been?  Does the story simply exist
in insinuation now, fragmentary,
jigsaw pieces that will never fit
together no matter how much you
bend and shape and pound.  That
orphaned Mercury Cougar, circa 1973,
is its own answer now, the drive-in
screen for everything we project
upon its faded, dented hood.

Theatre of War

"Would you exchange
a walk-on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?"

                -- "Wish You Were Here,"  Pink Floyd

It's an odd phrase, isn't it?
Theatre of war?  I mean,
the similarities abound, of course--
both traffic in directors and producers,
in leading roles and ensemble parts,
in production values and the easy
     applause that follow,
in uniform costumes and the messages
     they convey,
in a universe of props so heavy
     with symbolism,
in a story to tell and a complicated
     relationship with the truth, lies
     and obfuscations their building
     blocks and craftsman's tools.
And both, without fail, depend upon
     the inherent illusion of resolution
     but the thing is, at the end of Hamlet
     all of the dead rise from the stage,
     remove the blood and head out
     to the bar.  Dead men may tell no
     tales but those who play them most
     certainly do.

Eric Evans is a writer from Buffalo, New York with stops in Portland, Oregon, and Rochester, New York, where he currently resides.  His work has appeared in 1947, Parody, Steel Bellow, Decades Review, Dead Snakes, decomP magazinE, Red River Review, Posey, Xenith Magazine, Anobium Literary Magazine, Pemmican Press, Remark and many other publications and anthologies.  He has published eight full-length collections and three broadsides through his own small press, Ink Publications, in addition to a broadside through Lucid Moon Press.  He is also the co-editor of The Bond Street Review.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

November Evening, Rising

November evening,
distant Apache thunder calls in the dead
and I leave one classroom to go to another,
the lightning branding the housing projects
and I who knows better
decided to take the shortcut instead of the well lit
street from Division to Halsted,
late already for my next assignment,
the classroom in the building a block away,
the rain not yet overhead.
If I hurry, I will be on time.
I step into the black black darkness,
move quickly to the building well lit
when suddenly a short little man jumps in front of me:
Hey, Mister, this is a robbery, he snarls,
I want your wallet, your watch and your shoes
and I want them--my shoes?  I think,
why my shoes?  They cost me five dollars at Payless.
I don't wear a watch, but my wallet--
Hey, Mister, are you deaf or something?--louder--
I want your wallet, your watch and your shoes
and I want them right now.
He's a short little man and I know
I can bowl right over him
and make it to the next building before he gets up,
but he must be thinking what I think
he jumps to the side.
Listen, Mister, if you don't give them to me
Right now,--a whisper--I'm going to pee on you.
Did I hear him right?  I mean
I've heard of robbery by gun, of course,
and knife, baseball bat and fist.  Even by car,
but I never heard of anyone robbing someone with pee,
and then he pulls it out in one quick action,
and lets out a thick stream.
I'm glad I took up a bit of basketball in high school,
and a bit of soccer.  I dodge him easily,
but he keeps coming dribbling down the blacktop.
He must have drank twenty glasses of water just to rob me.
And so it goes.
He forces out a squirt, I dodge to the side.
When we make it to the division of dark and light,
the door to my classroom yards away,
I step into the light.  He pauses in the dark.
Then he makes one grand lurch, fails,
says, "Sorry, bout that, man," and disappears
into the blackness,
November evening rising.

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 (Samsidat 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), The Possibility of Sky and Hell:  From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013), and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2013).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Poem by Sanjeev Sethi


There is a verbal gore.  Kris
of words slit our skin.
Lesions as raw as another's
revenge look back at us.
Carmine flood of feelings
sinuate over the napery.
But there is no burn.
The hood of sapience
cushions us, vulneraries
come by and by.

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry.  His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015).  His poems are in venues around the world:  The Broadkill Review, After the Pause, Horror Sleaze and Trash, Former People, Stickman Review, Ann Arbor Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Home Planet News, London Grip, Morphrog 16, Postcolonial Text, Communion Arts Journal, and elsewhere.  He lives in Mumbai, India.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

From Underground

My self-identity mashed
like rutabaga pulp
in the serving bowl of being.

I spoon globs of once-was lumps
and will-be puree onto my daily
plate of hours, sample

a tramp vamping, tramping, trampolining
the globe between intellect and impulse
wither I go goes the root vegetable

as alter ego.

Pi Day 2018

          in memoriam Stephen Hawking

subauroral ion drift
subauroral ion drift
subauroral ion drift

ion rivers
hot dense rivers flow
in streams of charged particles
strewing narrow ribbons of light

named proton arc
named Aurorasaurus
named an unusual borealis artifact:
Steve--of colorful shimmer
whose mysterious heart
glows purple
spouts unstable greens

something new in our skies


Somebody said
you don't have to forgive everything

Somebody else said
you is an act of resistance

another Somebody said
linearity is always a problem

Somebody or other said
the form forms us

some Somebody said
move beyond facts       commune with an object

the last Somebody said to them all
I'm not supposed to be here    but I am

Karla Linn Merryfield, a nine-time Pushcart Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies.  She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit:  Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry.  Forthcoming this fall is Psyche's Scroll, a full-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Selects.  She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye.  Visit her blog, Vagabond Poe Redux, at  Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifield; https:/

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Two Poems by Robert Halleck

Rental Dog

The beach house had ordinary views
of the sea, dunes, and sea oats.  Inside

were sandy floors, blankets that smelled
funny, and the usual pots of dead Geraniums.

The old New Yorkers had parts 1&3
of a 3 part John McPhee series.

There was rain on planned beach
days and always the sound of waves.

There was a dog.

Every morning brought the
Shepherd mix they called Pismo.

His giant tail swept the sand
and grit from the screened porch

as he begged for leftovers
and kibble from WaWa.

Than a short nap, a bark
at the door and gone.

The Box

My wife found it in the attic
after her father's funeral.

A dusty, ribbon-tied box
stored and forgotten.

She held a corsage pressed
in a dance card from a prom

as she read a love note scrawled
by the drunken thief of her virginity.

Robert Halleck is a retired banker living in Del Mar, California with his muse Della Janis.  He has been writing poetry for over 50 years and has published three collections of his work.  He has appeared in a number of Kind of a Hurricane Press publications.  His recent work has appeared or will appear in The San Diego Poetry Annual, The Patterson Review, Third Wednesday, Chiron, Halcyon Days, and Rusty Truck.  He has a weakness for open mics and loves to race Thor, his old but sturdy Porsche.  He will be attending Kenyon College's summer program for the second year during the July session.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Three Poems by JD DeHart

Confessions of the Ice Beast

It's tough being
on the outs with the whole
world, but doable.

It's even tougher being
a creature of ice
because all eventually melts.

Social media and surface
relationships with past lives
offer little solace.

A striking resemblance to
seasonal claymation characters
is the only saving grace.

One has to get through the
holidays somehow, after all.


Taking the uniqueness
of the universe, language
racks on descriptors
in a series of watered down

I saw the walls
on the faces of the young
when they encountered
something new, long
before any election.

Long before any demogogue
or pundit returned
to options for exclusion.
We are good at small
and even large spaces
to provide distance.

From the Bone

From the bone
of one person, another,
from an organic seed,
a universe.

One word spirals
into a sea we call
a novel, one kiss
slaps onto another
like sloppy building
blocks.  Soon, there's
an emotion.

One step multiples
into a plan we try to
work out in minds
bleary with midnight.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He publishes book reviews at

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Three Poems by Jo Simons


A busy airport, microcosm of our country,
reveals who we are.

The sea of faces, all mixed together
is a beautiful multi-layered work of art.

Our creator, whoever she is,
has a sense of humor with artistic flair.

She wants her "palette" filled with many shades
representing all corners of her earth.

Blacks and browns, sprinkled with hints of yellows and reds
contrast gratefully with the colorless ones that we call white.

Each "tint" brings with it a rich and different experience
that we can absorb, research and celebrate.

How uninteresting our lives would be without the uniqueness
of other-colored people blending and bringing new hues into us.

We are a many-faceted puzzle of blessed cultural diverseness;
music, food, dance, song and art from far and wide.

How tragically misguided, the thought to make America great (white) again.
We're just learning how love really works!

Acceptance, inclusion, waltzing out of our tired comfort zone.
America, you're beautiful just the way you are.

Let's not fuck it up.

Breaking Fast

toss flavorful words together--
scramble them

let them sniff each other--
get familiar

simmer over a low flame
until the aroma wafts

the hungry reader
who eats poetry
for breakfast.

Love Is


it can also


love is best

into it

Jo Simons is a piano and Music Together teacher in Madison, WI.  She is also a first-time author of a biography of her musical parents, My Father Wakes Up Laughing.  She started writing poetry in 2011 when her 94-year-old father announced his life was over.  He's still here and the oldest orchestra conductor in the world.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Three Poems by Michael Keshigian


They did what they desired,
pursued a dream until it evaporated,
relinquishing then
to the arduous commerce of acquisition,
allowing sorted perspectives
and temperaments of trophy representations
to infiltrate an idyllic affection
that long ago dwindled
behind the guise of co-existence.
And now, they are here,
at a table of ruin,
years of routine impossible to amend.
Dinner is served,
the baked salmon drowns
in the clear glass lake of the plate,
the wine's bouquet has wilted.
It has been decided,
the present has its promise,
it yields a blessing,
no expectation, no loss,
yet a place to go,
vague reasons to remain.
Creature comforts have
no hearts to break.

Home Again

Abandoned house, are there
only spiders and rodents
residing amid your rooms?
I see my distorted image
upon the fogged glass
of the old storm door,
and feel like a prowler,
appraising the value of items
upon your walls
or tucked in your corners,
when, in truth, I seek
to rekindle precious memories
and reconstruct pictures
the recent days
have begun to obscure,
events the rain of years
are washing away,
trickling indiscernibly
through the pitted window
of my mind's eye
as I rap my fist
against the glass,
hoping the ghosts will answer.

Hoarding Life

His home was full of collectibles,
paintings, books, crafts,
possessing various degrees
of monetary worth and desirability,
yet what he cherished most
were items of menial worth
but considerable sentimentality,
items that pulled him back in time,
a large coffee can
he painted green
for his three-year-old son gathering rocks,
elementary songbooks,
a dilapidated grandfather's rocking chair,
springs so rusty
they would snap if weighted upon,
the old Doberman's chew toy,
his father's tools.
All buildup
from previous generations
he hopes his children
will have the courage to discard
as he did, devoid of thought,
with his mother-in-law's mementos
when his wife
was lost in remembrance,
grasping old photographs
and birthday cards
she once sent with their children's
infant signatures attached.

Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, had his twelfth poetry collection, Into the Light, released in April 2017 by Flutter Press.  He has been published in numerous national and international journals including Oyez Review, Red River Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, Oklahoma Review, Chiron Review and has appeared as feature writer in over a twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best of the Net nominations.  (

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Poem by Edgar Davis

That is

Love her not for her flesh-
but for her spirit.
Protect and preserve
her soul,
keep her in line
to receive the
grace of promises . . .

The cat that is.

Edgar Davis is a semi retired bloak who lives happily with his wife in Boise, ID.  His work has appeared in numerous online publications to include Leaves of Ink, Gold Dust, Poydras Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, The Pennwood Review and other websites.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Three Poems by John Grey

Perfect Guy

He seemed like the perfect guy
but then he got angry over nothing,
slapped you across the face,
damn near broke your jaw.
He said sorry a thousand time.
He didn't know what came over him.

He bought you a cute little puppy
and then shot it with a BB gun.
He asked for your forgiveness,
blamed in on his medication.

So attentive, so caring,
but he stole the money
out of your dresser drawer,
lost it at the track.
He claimed a gambling addiction.
And he agreed with you
that it needed taking care of.

And then he met someone else
and walked out of your life.
His apology arrived via his voice
on your answering machine.
He closed it out by saying
that you were much too good for him.

He was the perfect guy all right.
To be who ho was,
he couldn't have done better.

No More Chance

Streets are empty
but for empty people.
Weather's cold.
None of them need to be
formally introduced
to the chill in the air.
It's winter everywhere
but it's more than winter here.
I lift my head, risk a glance.
Their stares are as icy as the river.

Cop car rolls by.
So how much futility
do you need to feel
before it's a crime?
And what about the likes of me
who's just passing through?
Does sympathy give me a pass
or get me arrested?

There's people out here
who've forgotten their own narrative.
They've got nothing
they can put their signature to.
They go by the names
that other people give them.
Their memories are tied up
in some long-running family court.

I don't need reminding
that the world is broken.
But I get the picture anyhow.
It's rough-haired, red-eyed
and huddled in a ragged coat
handed down from a trashcan.
I leave them some of my uselessness
to go with their hopelessness.
Maybe they can appreciate it.
I don't.

Congratulations, Your Village is Next

villagers trudging through tall grass--
mosquitoes gather
always faceless
slither like the wind

that blows this way
detailed with carcasses
and their kind--
dirty deeds and dirty water

soldiers on their way,
chest high in swamp
dragging artillery
aiming for higher ground

mortar and shell--
the world is old enough
corrupt enough
for dissolution

villagers halfway up a hill
strain their eyes to see
where the next few hours
are coming from

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Three Poems by H. Edgar Hix


We're toward the end for us.
Who would have thought it,
you with your hippybeads
and bell bottom jeans,
me in my cowboy hat
and long, purple, knitted vest?
Who would have seen
you with your black cane,
knees bending and not
bending the way you want them,
me with my back too weak,
my belly too big?
Pushing that golden anniversary
like a walker with daisies painted on it.

Ms. Yazzie is Leaving

She is leaving the desert.
The wind does not leave.
The sun only retires to the moon.
The sand is the sand
and the cacti the cacti.
The turtles and snakes never leave
because there is no exit from the desert.
But, she is leaving
with sand in her soul,
wind in her will,
the sound of rattlesnakes in her rain.

No Precious Daughter

I have no precious daughter.
Once, I came close
but having the scent of the lilacs in the house is only precious,
not a daughter.
The glimpse of purple before continuing down grey concrete
is not caressing the blossoms,
washing the leaves,
feeding the roots.

The neighbor's lilac is growing over my yard.
Its limbs are almost in the telephone wires.
The odor is overpowering.

H. Edgar Hix is a senior poet writing from Minneapolis, MN.  He is an egalitarian whose poetry appears regularly in the magazine Mutuality.  His wife, Julie, and he are the crazy cat lady in the white house on the corner with their six cats.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Three Poems by James Babbs

This Morning I Woke Up Missing Her

this morning
I woke up missing her
the birds fluttering in the trees
right outside my window
I heard them laughing at the sun
I leaned over the edge of the bed
feeling around on the floor for the bottle
but I couldn't find it
so I fell back against the pillows
and gazed at the ceiling
I watched the ceiling fan
turning for a little while and
I thought about the time
when we went to the lake
and the way she laughed at me
I didn't want to put
my feet into the muddy water
I told her
if I couldn't see the bottom
then I wasn't going to
stick my feet in there
she laughed and took off her shoes
before running into the lake
while I stood on the shore
waiting for her to return

Love Again

I was thinking about love again
driving alone
on a rainy Monday morning
spiderwebs of lightning flashing
against the dark gray sky
I kept thinking about
the things that came between us
the small things that kept us
from being together in the end
heavy sound of thunder
the rain falling harder then
until I had to increase
the speed of the wipers
watching them move back and forth
a little faster across the glass

Apartment Number Four

I lived in an apartment for two years
Before moving into the house I live in now.
There were four apartments in the same building
And I lived in apartment number four.
Each apartment had its own entrance
With the kitchen and living room located on
The first floor and the bedrooms and bathroom
Up on the second one.  Apartment number four was
Where I was living when the planes crashed into
The World Trade Center buildings in New York.
I remember it was a Tuesday morning and hearing
The report on the radio about the first plane
And how, at the time, it just seemed like
Some kind of freak accident until the other
Reports started coming in and, then, the whole day
Unfolded like some kind of strange map, a map,
Which made less and less sense the closer you
Examined it.  I remember the landlord's brother
Lived in the first apartment but I hardly ever saw him.
He left early in the morning and didn't come back
Until late at night.  A mother and daughter lived in
Apartment number two.  They were always quiet and
Never seemed to go anywhere.  There was a young couple
In apartment number three.  Almost every night I heard them
Having sex through the wall we shared.  When they
Moved out a few months later an older married couple
Took over their apartment.  They were always friendly to me
And they never made any noise.

James Babbs is a writer, a dreamer, and a non-competitive eater who likes everything that isn't good for him.  James is the author of Disturbing the Light (2013) and The Weight of Invisible Things (2013) and has hundreds of poems and a few short stories scattered all over the internet.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Two Poems by Felino A. Soriano

A Moving Self

    Dance of what we're doing,
   dance of delusion of
       a miracle of music--

                                       of miricles I said
                                to the listener of prophecy,
                                   a truth was said from

                                                                     the tongue of momentum,
                                                                  bravery and speed to get
                                                                          elsewhere, a where

  to what acknowledges
truth as a valid self,
     far from what it once
   moved away from,


Sameness Or Of It

   Sway section in the mood
  to hear it, mood to lose an anger
      brought toward me,
     interior when I hear voices
  wander and awaken
 Sway is what I thought
    instead of swing . . .
each meaning can splay or
 to an interpretation of hearing
land and what brings gifts
   to my lasting listening--
   what's said and encouraged
  said and
      alleviated when music hears
 my unaltered version of interrogating

Felino A. Soriano was awarded the 2017 erbacce-prize for poetry.  His writings appear in CHURN, BlazeVOX, 3:AM Magazine, The National Poetry Review, Small Po[r]tions, and elsewhere.  His books of poetry include A Searching for Full Body Syllables:  fragmented olio (2017), Aging within these syllables (2017), Acclimated Recollections (2017), and Vocal Apparitions:  New & Selected Poems:  2012-2016 (2016).

Monday, May 7, 2018

Three Poems by J.J. Campbell

young lovers set adrift

old visions of
those soft lips
dripped in the
neon soul of
a fleeting love

forever was as
distant as death
appears to be
to a child

i seriously wanted
to die in your arms
and forever rest in
that warm embrace

you chose a future
that didn't seem
as fatal

young lovers set
adrift into an ocean
of unknowns and
crazy miscalculations

happiness is the last
rock i could never

going to find rock bottom

one of these days
i'm going to walk
right up to a pretty
woman and say

one of these days
i'm going to be the
change the world
wants to see

one of these days
i'm going to get
enough sleep that
i actually feel

one of these days
i'm going to find
rock bottom and
realize the pain
never goes away

not even the sunshine

yet another morning
where i feel dead inside

not even the sunshine
and a splash of color
coming from new
flowers growing
out of the ground
brightens this dark

therapy doesn't

and they have made
sure that the poor
can't afford the
right drugs

which epidemic
do i embrace

J.J. Campbell (1976-?) is currently trapped in the suburbs.  He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, Yellow Mama, The Beatnik Cowboy and In Between Hangovers.  You can find him bitching about something someone will find trivial on his mildly entertaining blog:  evil delights (

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Poem by Yuan Changming


could mean the book of change
'runoff sperms,' 'already,' or 'as
soon as' in Mandarin sounds, but
here it refers to 'creative conception'
'artistic landscape,' or literally
'meaning scenery,' as suggested
in a traditional Chinese painting of
a realm of ink, brushpen and ricepaper, where

a white horse is charging swiftly
across the point of two meeting hills
or a whole mountain range
highlighting itself beside a pine tree
reaching out as if to welcome
visitors, or level against the whole world
as in one of Wang Wei's poems, Su Dongpo's
ci, Mao Zedong's handwritings

Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan and hosts Happy Yangsheng in Vancouver; credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, and 1,419 others worldwide.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Three Poems by John Grocholaki


i was
made for concrete

but my parents shipwrecked me in the suburbs

it was preferable
to be p before dawn
hustling the morning newspaper to make a buck

getting chased by rabid, orphaned dogs
and drunks swerving home out of shame and guilt

or it was preferable to be broke
hiding my head under pillows
as the mowers revved in anticipation

rather than touch a single blade to grass
for any kind of allowance

my old man
always tried to get me to mow the lawn

like it was something i should want to do
a right of passage that would serve me well

i did it once and then never again

but my old man
he cut the grass nearly ever saturday
when the weather would let him

he cut the grass on saturdays
because god was a selfish prick and he stole sunday
from working people too

the old man cracked a beer before noon
and joined the cacophony of exhausted patriots

avoiding their wives and kids
pushing their weekend morning away

over those little patches of golden green in god's good earth

getting callouses from lawn mowers brought on credit
that worked right 60% of the time
when they worked at all

rumbling half-assed machines with john wayne names

that were made in america
but burned middle eastern gas

out into reagan's ozone layer of american hypocrisy

all for what?
the satisfaction of doing it again the next week?

another self-deluded cog
dying of smoke inhalation in the burning city on a hill

i didn't realize it then
but the suburban lawn made me
a city dweller and an apartment dweller
before i ever realized it

the suburban lawn was a noose one had to escape
like most creatures of comfort in america

honestly i had no choice but to save myself

and to this day i prefer the scent of newsprint
and piping hot tar
over that of freshly cut grass

the sound of my feet slapping pavement
as i sail from one endless block of neon to the next
past the car horns and car exhause

dodging dog shit
while thinking up some monumental urban triviality

hell, to be honest
i don't even like to walk through parks

frank o'hara never did this

i settle
on the dried-out turkey burger
and tepid bottled water
in the basement of the job
on a hot wednesday afternoon

february is dying
the climate is dying
something is always dying
either a beloved pet
or democracy
or love

the burger is worse than i thought
parched to the point of no returnb
the cheddar cheese on it melted and cold
it looks like mucus

and i can't understand giovanni papini to save my life

all i know is that he started out looking for genius
but became fascinated instead

in a perfect world he'd celebrate the fourth of july

on the phone a moment ago
a perky lady at the bank told me
that i'd been approved for a credit card
with a seventeen-thousand-dollar credit line

she said it as if it were a good thing, i think

in the end i push the burger away
and put down the book of papini
i try for a salad whose vegetables
are so warm and wilted that i can't eat them either

so i push it away too
and sit back staring at a small american flag
with a hatred so vibrant and edible
that its power of suggestion
could bring about
a new
black death.

the last man without a smart phone

the flip phone is dying
but the winter won't end

my wife and i stand outside the apple store
watching the sculpted philistines
hunger to get inside

to drop god-knows-what
on another chinese slave-labor suicide
that will fulfill them for about an hour
before the void starts creeping back in

for right now
i am the last man without a smart phone

i don't pay for minutes or data
or the precious air that i breathe

i have to remember things like usernames and passwords

i can't look up the meaning of life on a whim
or photograph my lunch or a pretty tree
or some cute dog rolling around on the pavement

i don't know what celebrities are thinking at every moment of the day

i'm a walking, talking, living, breathing relic
and i like that about myself

but the flip phone is dying
it's dropping calls and not taking messages
from our families and my wife's doctors

it's a piece of ten-year-old tech
that wants the dignity to die

even the ringer sounds like it's on its last legs

so here we are outside the apple store
big glass windows and doors

showcasing all of their little metal gadgets

a whole genocide of gleaming devices
being molested by scarf people right out of j. crew catalogs

and i feel it creeping up inside of me
the void or something else slipping away

the desire to turn tail and run

i think if i go inside this place
soon i'll be like the rest of them

taking pictures of tacos
and scrolling through hundreds of selfies to find the right one

steaming shitty pop music
and retweeting actors tweeting about their bad movies
or dumb jocks musing about the big game

texting nonsense
and talking data plans with the tax man

a smart phone shoved so far up my ass
i'll have to look up my own goddamned name

in order to remember
who in the fuck it is
that i thought i once was.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn't Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In the Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the forthcoming The Philosophers' Ship (WineDrunk Press, 2018).  He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press, 2016).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Two Poems from Michael H. Brownstein

Casualties of the American War

     -- for Diana, still alive, a nurse in the Viet Nam War, Agent Orange poisoning 

She taught me once how to lean into shadows,
trace the voice in the echo
taste the scent within the seed of blossom.

She taught me later how to sing praise phrases,
move to the colors within white,
pause to the movement of thyme near water.

And when we were ties to each other miles apart,
she explained the beauty of pain,
the delivery of silence when silence was too loud

I called to her this evening, her phones disconnected,
entered the realm of my computer, and spoke to her
through the language Solitaire played three rows at a time

I won twice, knew she was OK, waited.
She called exactly one hour later, everything correct:
shadow, echo, seed, phrase, color, silence within pause

a lack of pain.

Stroke and Ego

She attempts to rise in the river, but she is rust,
The banks neither steep nor slippery, only ladders of air.
Gravity is not a toehold.

She struggles to open her eyes,
Her body a book left outside soaking itself dry.
She is heat thunder in summertime.

A feeding tube down her throat, than her nose,
Finally an installation piece at her stomach.
Hysterical vomit on sheets, on the floor.

How can we live this life we live
When the one man we gave our life to
Tells us he is not coming back to visit?

Earthquake hollow, earthquakes of muscle,
Freezing fog,
A sudden avalanche of biting insects.

The TV drones on and on, visitors extinct.
You can hear, but not see,
You can rest, but never fully wake.

He will get over himself, you imagine,
But he does not, day after day,
So you find yourself playing with your fists alone.

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 (Samsidat 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), The Possibility of Sky and Hell:  From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013), and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2013).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Poem by Deborah L. Wymbs


A wall flower is not an egret,
but a simple girl of shadow.
She does not really blend into walls,
invisible as the bad artwork
in the large lumber stores,
but the bullies like to think
she is a wall, a door closing
and she on the other side.
This was her beginnings.
She did not grow into a swan,
but the shade in shadow instead,
the only strength she ever needed.

Deborah L. Wymbs has been creating music and medicinal potions on and off.  Her poetry can be found in a couple of Kind of a Hurricane Press' journals.