Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Poem by James Mirarchi


You held the embrace
too long this time
and my bodily camouflage
grew a second layer
A glamorous lining
that sweated clear fluids
instead of blood

You kissed
too long this time
and my skull
formed a second mask
The one of an executioner
which pricked with little spikes
sharper than my razor stubble

You promised
too long this time
and our candle-lit dinner
devolved into a trashy casserole
Addictive and harsh

You posed
too long this time
and the doorway
in which we stood
looking at each other
. . . broke apart into a sitcom universe . . .

James Mirarchi grew up in Queens, New York.  In addition to his poetry collections, Venison, Dervish, and Shards, he has written and directed short films which have played festivals.  His poems have appeared in several independent literary journals.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Poem by Marvel Chukwudi Pephel

Parting, Memories, Left-Overs

To eat (1):  teeth gnawing on chunks or bits of meal,
Tongue lubricating what must go down.
If fatty (You'd-better-leave-my-gums kind of meal):
Things that have formerly been are hard to erase,
So the in-between teeth cavities and gums keep souvenirs.
To eat (2): by extension, munching the gain or pain from love or friendship,
Understanding either going down well or not.
Plaque:  bad-blood substance on the teeth of memory,
Every grind opens up emotional wounds.
Parting (1):  to leave (or to separate) from someone or something,
Memories trailing behind.
Left-overs:  things you are done with, momentarily or permanently;
Tongue of memory ultimately decides.
Parting (2):  used-to-be-active tendons and ligaments abound,
By extension, unity and communication gone:
Come see a relationship lying dead.

Marvel Chukwudi Pephel is a Nigerian writer who writes poems, short stories and other things besides.  His works have appeared in numerous places which include, but are not limited to, the following:  High Coupe, The Avocet, Jellyfish Whispers, The Kalahari Review, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature, African Writer, PIN Quarterly Journal, Best New African Poets 2016 Anthology.  He is currently a two-time winner of the Creative Writing Ink Competition (Ireland).

Friday, February 23, 2018

Three Poems by Michael Keshigian

A Lack of Rain

If there were no rain,
there would be
far too little noise on the roof
or upon the window pane
that would distract us
from the pulse in our inner ear
through the silence at night,
no gutter song to lull us to sleep,
no applause of wet leaves
for thirst-quenching relief.
In a cloudless sky
and barren landscape,
the rain would no longer
astonish our senses
with torrents that flood the riverbeds
then angrily fall from summit's edge
upon boulders that spray
a foaming mane of platinum.
Car wheels would pass like a cough,
the absence of a splash
that might instigate our adrenalin,
administers calm instead.
The sky would no longer
be crowded with giant gray eyelids
that occasionally coax
the sun to sleep
and allow us to focus
upon the mysterious messages
their odd, translucent shapes impart.
Without the rain,
our very lives would drift instead,
fantasy vapors
against the cobalt blue,
twinkling and as aimless as dust.


He stood there,
staring back at me,
odd expression upon his face,
smiling after I did
from the other side
of a huge pane window
on the newly renovated office building,
a bit more disheveled
than I remembered.
Wrinkles supported his grimace
and receding hairline,
acknowledging me
when I nodded hello.
I used to know him well,
athletic, sculpted, artistic,
a well defined physique,
but his apparent paunch
negated any recent activity.
This window man
I thought I knew,
musician, writer, runner, dreamer,
now feasted off the stale menu
of advancing age,
aches, excuses, laziness,
failing eyesight and an appetite
for attained rights
decades seem to imply.
Yet I accepted him,
embraced him for who he was,
aware that he would be the lone soul
to accompany me
toward the tunnel's light
when all others have drawn the blinds.
"Walk with me," I say.
He stays close.

Loneliness Motel

His little hole in the Boston skyline,
one window lined with soot
facing Fenway Park.
In the room overhead,
there was a clarinet
that stalked Stravinsky's Three Pieces
every evening.
During the day it was mostly quiet,
the crowd on the sidewalks
resembled the spiders in the room,
preying with thick overcoats
to catch the unsuspecting
in a web woven with smog
dimly illuminated with the little light
that penetrated the building alleys,
so dark, he could only shaave
with a lamp in his face.
Every morning at 7:30 a.m.,
students clamored on the staircase,
rushing en route to classes
at the universities
and colleges around the corner,
the clarinet player would flush the toilet
then turn on the shower.
Once in a while, a bird
chirped or tweeted, like a bell chime,
so close to his door,
for a moment, he believed
he had a visitor.

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 twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best of the Net nominations.  (michaelkeshigian.com)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Two Poems by Erren Geraud Kelly

Blood Oranges

the flesh of the orange is a sunrise
in my mouth
it tastes like neruda's words
falling from
trees like dreams

the girl cutting vegetables
has the face of
even in the dead of

i taste flesh and i taste
i taste fire like jazz from
this fruit
lingering like

On Reading Brautigan

Like a lonely ruby slipper
In search of its mate, a melody lingers
Still, inside me; if I had
A piano, I would play the story of you.

Hearing all of your tones, colors and nuances.
Instead, I hear your song, walking in the breeze
Like a breath from within, you are
The smoke that lingers, giving birth
Only to dreams; I clutch the ruby slipper
Next to my heart, the song lingers

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. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Three Poems by Cleo Griffith

Symmetrophobia Says It All

for my sloppy fear of static forms,
barriers to
motions of leaves,
swish of water along gutters,
fluttering wings of walking pigeons.

Squares of cement sidewalk
trap my rounded toes,
double panes of window
press my curvature dimensions,
and the door, rectangular,
splays me against it.

Hard-line shapes corner me
the way cowboys cornered ponies,
to capture, bring in, tame.

I fear the regularity
of squares, envelopes,
the box of flattened-grain cereal.

Even words I write
tie me down,
bind and straighten,
try to make me
un-rounded as the letter "I."

The Shift Beyond Silver

Here is the shift--
perspectives drift from night
to where there is neither night nor day,
no moon to which to speak of heartache,
no sun to represent the higher truth.

The shift is slight--
does not alarm--new sight reveals
the falseness of identity,
does a raindrop have a singleness?
It shows us the opposite of complexity.

Shift slowly,
life the clock from its stand,
it means nothing now, its sand
neither stops, starts, nor exists.

We are but a silver memory
held between two green leaves of the apple tree
or lying against the soft lips of a poet.

Certain Wheels

when I hear the sound of certain wheels:
longing . . .

not those of the red convertible next door
or the motorcycle another neighbor loves
but the distant train wheels catch me
by the throat and heart each time

there is a town I know
beneath towering cliffs
of the Columbia River Gorge--
trains rumble several times each day,
echo across the wide rush
of green-gray water,
do not stop, carry only goods,
no passengers, none allowed to board
and go away, nor does any bus
do more
than travel through non-stop.
Residents must send their hearts west
to the Pacific on cold erratic waves or
join the unresting east winds,
sweep out of twon
toward rolling hills of golden wheat.

I am far away from the solid touch
of that familiar old pavement beneath my feet,
the sound of trains that pass and never stop,
but still, at the sound of certain wheels,
longing . . .

Cleo Griffith was Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for its first twelve years and remains on the Board.  Widely published, she lives in Salida, CA, with her husband, Tom, and their tabby, Tank.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Poem by Richard L. Ratliff

A bunch of old photos

I can smell the moments
And taste the thoughts
As you are on the tip
Of my tongue
Like a favorite wine
Complex and lingering

I open my eyes
and see your words
Moving in space before me
And feel that perfect rhyme
Glide across the page

Like waves across the sea
I hear the color of the rhythm
That shapes your words
Like twine rolled into a ball
As I pull on the loose ends

Richard L. Ratliff is a baby boomer, born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana.  His Mid-West ties have built the foundation and setting for his poetry.  He is a Purdue University graduate, with two years of engineering that turned into a degree in English Literature, along with being a two-year letterman in wrestling.  All of these eclectic combinations have given him a career as a boiler and combustion expert and poet.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Poem by ayaz daryl nielsen

couldn't settle down
always on the move
in the language
of loneliness

ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran, hospice nurse, ex-roughneck (as on oil rigs) lives in Longmont, Colorado, USA.  Editor of bear creek haiku (30+ years/140+ issues) with poetry published worldwide (and deeply appreciated), he is also online at https://bearcreekhaiku.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Two Poems by Faleeha Hassan

Raising the War

Like a pet
The tyrants raise the war
At first, they feed it
Their sick dreams
Their reviews of the soldiers under the heat of the summer sun
Maps they have imagined for their conquests
Speeches they have written in dark rooms
The future of our children
And when that war grows
It chews away at us
Every day
Every hour
Every moment
Like a ruminating animal

Two Soldiers

Let's celebrate
Let us run to that hill
Let us climb up the remains of that tank and sing
Let us drink tea under this burned tree
Smoke our last cigarettes
It is not every day that the war can make dead bodies and we are not with them
The rain smells of war

Faleeha Hassan is a poet, teacher, editor, writer, playwright born in Najaf, Iraq, in 1967, who now lives in the United States.  Faleeha is the first woman to write poetry for children in Iraq.  She received her master's degree in Arabic literature, and has now published 20 books.  Her poems have been translated into English, Turkmen, Bosevih, Indian, French, Italian, German, Kurdish, Spain, Korean, Greek, Servia and Albanian.  Ms. Hassan has received many awards in Iraq and throughout the Middle East for her poetry and short stories.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Two Poems by Denny E. Marshall


Cell phones
The smaller
The smarter
Maybe giants lurk
In a single cell
Hidden in angles


Took wind and water
Millions of years
To carve the great canyon
In brief span
Mans garbage can fill it
While building forward
An inch of river

Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry & fiction published.  One recent credit is poetry at Altered Reality.  See more at www.dennymarshall.com

Friday, February 9, 2018

Three Poems by Carol Alena Aronoff

This is Not a Drill

I woke up this morning
with twelve minutes to live.
Cell phone bleating, "extreme alert."
"Ballistic missile threat
incoming to Hawaii.
Seek immediate shelter.
This is not a drill."

Stunned like a butterfly just pinned--
by disbelief
the unreality of the unfathomable
I text a few friends and family,
tell them I love them and wait.
Blank except for, "This is not a drill."
"Everything is impermanent."

Unmoving, waiting.  Nowhere to go
in this paradise of palms and plumeria.
Apprehension, a slow burning,
not cold.  Still as winter leafing.
Thirty eight minutes to the official
"false alarm."  I decide I must get
to the ocean, soak in the sky,
wear velvet.


If I wait among
the roses
for rain to soften
thorns, lie down
among speckled
eggs readying
to hatch,
I will miss
the thrum of deeper
woods, wilding paths
with no promises.

Resisting the perfume
of convention,
the air of authority,
I feel
compelled to follow
lines of desire,
pirate paths.
No maps needed,
only awareness.
Out of stillness,
signs will naturally

Wisdom Blooms

Without the need to label
mind's endless conversation
is a flower
and feelings rest on leaves
by gusts of wind
to settle near marigolds
and water lilies.

A bowl turned up in smile
holds the movement of water
with the stillness
of pond.
No need for misgivings
or even for dream.
Everything is
just as it is.

Carol Alena Aronoff, PhD, is a psychologist, teacher and writer.  Her poetry has been published in Comstock Review, Poetica, Sendero, Buckly&, Asphodel, Tiger's Eye, Cyclamens & Swords, Quill & Parchment, Avocet, Bosque, 200 New Mexico Poems, Women Write Resistance, Before There is Nowhere to Stand, Malala:  Poems for Malala Yousafzai, et al.  She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, participated in Braided Lives, collaboration of artists/poets, Ekphrasis:  Sacred Stories of the Southwest, and (A) Muses Poster Retrospective for the 2014 Taos Fall Arts Festival.  The Nature of Music was published by Blue Dolphin Publishing in 2005, Cornsilk in 2006, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep in 2007, Blessings from an Unseen World in 2013, and Dreaming Earth's Body in 2015.  Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii--working her land, meditating in nature and writing.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Poem by John Sweet

letter to ernst

not quite warm and the
sky a perfect, blinding blue

gravity, or the absence of it

what you hold onto
always fighting to get away

in the end, i grow sick of poems,
grow sick of regret, but haven't
found anything to replace them with

in the end, i am naked at the
edge of someone else's forest

i am afraid

i am happy to be alive

have finally begun to see
that they are the same

cover yr ears & shade yr eyes

sunlit hills straight down to
the edge of the parking lot and the
parking lot empty

weeds pushing up through
cracks in the pavement

belief is what's brought you
this far, and then what?

insurance will pay for the abortion

the coup will fail

twenty thousand dead in the
blinding summer heat and all of
the survivors starving, but no one likes
a crybaby so just shut your mouth
and write your fucking poems

learn to levitate

consider what any government has
ever achieved by
killing the artists and the children

all theories bleed themselves
dry in the here and now


calls to tell you
she's high again

to tell you she thinks she'll
crawl to california and
she she says she never stopped
loving you but she needs
more sky

needs bigger clouds
for god to hide behind

an endless ocean,
even though nothing can
ever be washed clean

John Sweet sends greeting from the rural wastelands of upstate New York.  He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, in painting as ascension and in the need to continuously search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth.  His latest poetry collections are APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and BASTARD FAITH (2017 Scars Publications).

Monday, February 5, 2018

A Poem by Gale Acuff


If nobody loved Jesus I wonder
how He'd feel--lonelier than crucified
maybe?  Here in Sunday School I sit by
myself in one corner, the other desks
crowd me in here but Miss Hooker doesn't
seem to mind, she's our Sunday School teacher
and I'm the first one here Sunday mornings
and since this seat seems lonely I always
go for it.  Sometimes I see her before
anyone else does, Miss Hooker I mean,
and she always asks if I wouldn't be
more comfortable sitting in the middle
of my classmates, they won't be showing up
for a good fifteen minutes anyway
but I tell her no, or No ma'am--thank you,
and that takes care of that but behind her
on the wall there's that little Jesus-doll
on the Cross, He's wearing just a loincloth,
we learned about those in regular school,
and He's nailed up the way He normally
is and His head's drooping, drooping to one

side.  His eyes are shut.  Is He asleep or
dead or maybe both?  I'd read my Bible
but unless it's Moses parting the Red
Sea I can't get too excited and for
that matter I can watch the movie and
I'm not good with Crucifixion, it hurts
like Hell is how it looks and if I'm in
pain by just looking it must be awful
to go out that way whether a body
rises on the third day after or nix.
If Jesus cracked just one eyelid He'd spy
the nape of Miss Hooker's neck, that's how well
lined up the two of them are and I guess
I'm not surprised.  He never looks at me
--I'm way off in one corner anyhow
--but if He did I bet I'd never have
any more problems with staying awake
until Miss Hooker sets up free fifty
minutes later.  Because I was the first

I'm the last to leave, tucked away like that
in one corner, even Miss Hooker's out
the door before I am, she has to run
to talk to Preacher Green, she's told us.  It's
a sin to lie.  I'm not sure if she is.
If I had any guts I'd stay inside
and walk up to Jesus there on the wall
and ask Him.  If He told me then I guess
He'd also stop me from being scared stiff.
I'd thank Him by saying how much I love
what He said when He said, Render unto
Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God
that which is God's.  Sometimes He just kills me.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, McNeese Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Poem, Adirondack Review, Weber:  The Contemporary West, Maryland Poetry Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Orbis, and many other journals.  He has authored three books of poetry:  Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).  Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Poem from J.J. Campbell

dripping from the ceiling

whispers in the dark

neon dreams dripping
from the ceiling

sometimes you get so
high even your memories
can bring back the haze

the long stare at a pulsing

eventually you crack the
code and split the sky
into the screams of the lost and lonely

not your head at the
models doing cocaine
in the corner

they will invite you
over but play it cool

the can smell fresh
blood from miles away

get lost in some crazy
beat from the latest dj
from europe

don't worry

none of them can
dance worth a shit

J.J. Campbell (1976-?) has given up the farm life and he's currently trapped in suburbia.  He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Records Magazine, Winedrunk Sidewalk, The Apache Poetry Blog, Horror Sleaze Trash, and October Hill Magazine.  You can find J.J. most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights.  (http://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Poem from Alexis Child

Road of the Tongue

As if separated from her body, her feet
move black in the day over the dust of
centuries, like a swarm of mosquitoes
through houses of fog.  The shadow of
voices change like a snake uncoiling in its pit.

A paid assassin raises her hand, violent
fingers set traps for those who've ended
their wars.  I execute this act, I've made
myself heard whispering for the dead.  I am
powerful now, face to face with my own image.

The bloodshot heart of the night has lost its
echo in a world that will not hear its screams.
The crush of hell gasps over its swallowed self,
happily strangled, shivering skin in a clear oblivion.

Dust be your savior, we drink glasses of
water until silence falls like rain, sharper
than forged steel against thunder's dark ears.

Alexis Child hails from Toronto, Canada; horror in its purest form:  a calculated crime both against the aspirations of the soul and affections of the heart.  She worked at a Call Crisis Center befriending demons of the mind that roam freely amongst her writings.  She lived with a Calico-cat child sleuthing all that went bump in the night.  She is haunted by the memory of her cat.  Alexis Child has had some small measure of underground success with her three dark wave and gothic rock bands in the past.  Her fiction has been featured in Aphelion, Screams of Terror, The Official Fields of the Nephilim Site, SinisterCity, and U.K.'s Dark Of Night Magazine.  Her poetry has been featured in numerous online and print publications, including Aphelion, Black Petals, Blood Moon Rising, Midnight Lullabies Anthology, The Horror Zine and elsewhere.  Her first collection of poetry, "Devil in the Clock," a dark and sinister slice of macabre horror, gothic, surreal & paranormal poetry is now available on Amazon.  https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Alexis+Child+Devil+in+the=Clock  Visit her website:  http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/alexischild/