Saturday, August 27, 2022

Three Poems by Gary Beck

Wounded Land

Children leave the school
single file,
hands over heads, 
intently watched
by armed cops
looking for a shooter
concealed with the innocent,
tensions so high
one accidental move
might make an intense cop
open fire.


When I was a young girl
my family went to New Smyrna Beach,
a small, sleepy Florida beach town
for much of the long winter.
I walked the beach
collecting sea shells.
Sometimes I found a conch,
brought it to my ear,
listened to the eerie sound
of the ocean
and didn't return it to the sea.
Now that I am old
my grandchildren and I 
still visit New Smyrna Beach
that now teems with tourists.
We walk the beach
but there are no shells.
When I tell them that once
there were flocks of shorebirds
they pretend to listen,
but their thumbs are busy
texting their friends.

Forgotten Flights

Old Grey Wing keeps telling us
of the pelicans of old
as we try to nest on the little island,
forced to fly when humans come
interrupting his tale of our fathers.
Sometimes the humans come
after dark, forcing us to fly
in the dangerous night,
some too tired at first light
to hunt for fish.
We try not to notice
those who make their last flight
and we try to ignore
old Grey Wing's tales
of flights of hundreds
in great Pelican V's,
filling the skies,
not like today
when the most we see
are flights of 8 or 9
that can't agree on a leader.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater.  He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver.  His original plays and translations of Moliers, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway.  His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 35 poetry collections, 14 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 7 books of plays.  Gary lives in New York City.

A Poem by Brigitte Goetze

Stage Three:  Emptiness

After the hurricane had shattered
several windows, these openings
for the storm to flood
your living room, grief, 
that great remodeler, showed up,
assessed the wreckage
and, with a heavy heart, you
consented to the necessary
demolition of the ruined parts.

You watched grief rip out the sodden carpet,
pull off the buckled linoleum, take down
the soggy sheet rock.  Though reluctantly,
you assisted with pushing the furniture
into the center of the stripped floors,
even held two corners as grief spread
a clear plastic sheet over the islands.

Now, the work done for the day, you look out
through newly installed windows, hear
the hollow sound of your steps
echo as you wander in the cavernous
spaciousness of the skeletal rooms,
the revealed structure of the house
both familiar and oddly foreign.

At last, you cook a simple meal
in the gutted kitchen, the stove and the fridge,
like sentinels, the only ones left standing
one offering past harvests, the other
a means to make something
out of it.

Brigitte Goetze, a retired biologist and goat farmer, likes to listen to the never-ending conversation between the biological and spiritual dimensions of life.  Understanding the influence of natural forces on all-that-is offers new perspectives for our challenging times.  Her website can be found at:

Two Poems by David Chorlton


The sky takes off its night mask.
Early walkers open wide their doors
and bring the pavements back to life
step by careful step
with a new day tugging
at its leash.  Going all to pieces says
the neighbor lady and Hell
is the end of the street.  She's eighty-six and spent
last night dancing to forget
the state the country's in.  She woke up
with inflation on her mind and began
worrying where she left off before
sleep about people pouring across
the border.  She never looks up
at the mountain with its rippling spine
that was here before this was
a country.  She insists that everything 
was better before special effects
took over movies, and she smiles a friendly smile
to say and there are so many
shootings now, everyone should have a gun
while she taps her head to indicate the problem's
only crazy people. And remember 
it wasn't only Bogart: everybody
smoked in movies then.

Street Hawk

The fates left him
a city to live in.  Oh, he perches
in the highest tree at sunrise
to survey the wide green fairways and sharpen
his gaze on the whetstone
awakening grass becomes
then fans the primaries with centuries
of open land trailing
from his tail, but the ground beneath him now
has a human face.  He's making a landscape
out of asphalt
and turns the placid sky
into a storm
when his wings are wide and he slices
through an urban flock
with history's wind
in his bones.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978.  His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior.  His newest collection of poems is Unmapped Worlds from FutureCycle, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

A Poem by Brenton Booth


Autumn Sky

Watching the Autumn
light fade from my

window at 6:49 p.m.
I saw a Matisse

exhibition yesterday.
100 of his best works

from Paris.  Thought
more about Gauguin

when I looked at his
paintings inspired by

his time in Tahiti.  I
guess there are artists

and there "are artists."
And Matisse doesn't

fall into that category
for me.  Never cared

much for the footwork,
bravado, or game plans.

Get to the punches.
And make them

knockouts. Perfect
statements that will

never be forgotten.

Brenton Booth lives in Sydney, Australia.  Poetry of his has appeared in New York Quarterly, Chiron Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Naugatuck River Review, Van Gogh's Ear, and Nerve Cowboy.  He has two full length collections available from Epic Rites Press.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Poem by Alisa Velaj

Like the Light-Reveling Rains

Love entered gently the Haarlem alleys,
hanging on flowers,
hanging on branches.

Love came in its breezy step,
through the river waters
where so many surprises lay dormant!

Love happened to be of dew:
evenings, it hid with tulip bodies,
dawns,  it engulfed the city like hoarfrost.

All loves
come alive along the alleys of Harrlem,
with a crimson longing:
like the light-reveling rains
in Rembrandt's homeland . . . 

Haarlem, Netherlands
July 25, 2018

*Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi

Alisa Velaj was born in Albania, in 1982. She holds a Ph.D. in Albanian Language and Literature, which she has been teaching as subjects at university level, while writing poetry, prose, essays, articles and research studies.  Velaj was shortlisted for the annual international Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in UK in June 2014.  Her work has been published in over 100 international online forums, printed magazines and anthologies across many countries (USA, UK, Sweden, Australia, Israel, India). Alisa earned and Artist-in-Residence Scholarship in February 2019, and attended the AIR Litteratur Vastra Gotaland Program in Villa Martinson, Jonsered, Sweden.  In 2020, she won The National Prize in Poetry, awarded by the Albanian Ministry of Culture.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Three Poems by J.J. Campbell


avoid the punches


nothing goes

as planned


there isn’t

a reason we

should even

have a schedule


roll out of bed

and just start

trying to avoid

the punches


bills, endless

assholes calling

on the phone


arthritis so damn

bad that heroin is

the most viable



and they tell me

death shouldn’t

be looked at as



these young souls

have no clue what’s

coming for them



but every blue moon


the strangers

don’t understand

any hatred of life


but every blue

moon I come

across someone

who understands

depravity, despair

and hopelessness


but sadly


two depressed

souls don’t make

a happy life


it’s a race to the

death and neither

of us are lucky

enough to win



more than anything left on this earth


a random text at

two in the morning


to the woman that

swears she loves you

more than anything

left on this earth


yet, you haven’t heard

anything from her in

over a month


and it is always that

first feeling that something

more than self-hatred could

actually exist for you on

this earth


and then comes a right

cross out of nowhere


knocking the inevitable

dark reality back into



not everyone gets the girl


rainbows don’t have pots

of gold


hell, they don’t even have

a beginning or an end


happiness is a concept

only meant for a higher

tax bracket


your father always told you

you’d be a better ditch digger

than a poet


yet another bottle of scotch

nearly gone





J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know where the bodies are buried.  He’s been widely published over the years, most recently at Synchronized Chaos, Otoliths, Cajun Mutt Press, Terror House Magazine, and The Beatnik Cowboy.  You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (





Three Poems by Sy Roth

Can’t Kill the Beast


There it is again,

That desert highway

Rolling lanes of emptiness

Sand crawling along with the wind

Swept one side to the next

Mini- hills coupling,

Swarming sweatily among the dry detritus

Until new winds glibly wreak havoc with their foundations

While the hillocks reform endlessly.


The beast winning the battles,

Roars its pleasure

Over the bleached bones that lay scattered

In their valley of life.


They have their sciences,

Their concocted salvation,

A salve on the miles that they envision

Stretching to forever

Even though the beast lies in wait

And they seek to prolong inevitability.


The beast will roar

And add their bones eventually

To the hills of sand

That continues its march to the end

While they drink their potions,

Inject their medicines in a hocus pocus frenzy.


While the beast lies in wait

Ready to roar with its renewed laughter

At their shades, their ghosts, and their spirits.



Cruel Quarters


What a cruel house.

It consumed her in inches

Like her life that waxed and waned in its own time.


She was struck with trepidation

Down to two, perhaps three cigarettes a day

Engulfing her lungs in an alveoli death.


The room closed in around her

Walled fortress that could not keep the boatman

From traversing the inky sea.


Finality, her home a jar of her essence

In her own time

Brain bleeding from exhaustion.


Where did all her thoughts go into nether regions

While sitting on the portable crapper

Providing some relief as life sped out of her?


Nearly a millennium of a curmudgeonly trespass

On sheets of bed-logged linen, rolls of cleansing wipes,

Papers of a life consumed into a nothingness.


They mourned for two hours

And gladly left her remains encased in her bronze crypt

With the one picture of a self who can only be imagined.



Is This Dante’s Inferno?


Just David the instructor and I were there

Residing in the quiet

Thinking nothing special

When the door creaks open 11:30 a.m.


Ten minutes away from the start of class.

Some shuffle in in restless anticipation.


Drifters huddle in small groups at desks

Bending close to the ears of classmates

Who in consternation

Work at the words they hardly hear

Struggling to make meaning of inanity.


The instructor hasn’t begun yet in earnest.

He distributes dessert bars in anticipation

Of an hour with King George I.


A tentative being halts at the door,

Head jerking this way and that.


In the back of the room, one reads Killing Reagan.

David in front sets up the video.


The tentative intruder asks, “Is this Dante’s Inferno?”


“No, it’s next door,” I blurt.


David and I stare at one another.

The door slams shut as she hurriedly exits

And we tacitly agree

Behind our eyes—

We nod,

Perhaps it is.





Sy Roth is still writing and trying to find his answer to the darkness.


Sunday, August 7, 2022

Now Accepting Submissions!

That's right, we are open for new submissions again! 

It's been awhile, and I've missed you all! Cannot wait to see what you've been up to while I was gone.

Things are gonna be slightly different in that we will be publishing weekly instead of daily for now, but otherwise is still the Pyrokinection you love and remember.  So drop by the guidelines page and start sending us work!