Saturday, September 24, 2022

Three Poems by Karen Neuberg


I start with the intention to peel
the potatoes for a bubbly scallop
when I suddenly find myself
thinking they'd make better fries

only to quickly envision them
as hash browns for next day's breakfast.
It's like that with my writing -- an idea
comes to me in a way that feels

as if I'm channeling finger to finger
when suddenly "be more wild"
hurtles out of me as though it located
a path through a dense forest and I'm 

in the forest, measuring trunk sizes,
thinking about sentient life and looking
up at light patterns through leaves
while surrounded by sounds of birds

and scuttling creatures and breath.
I'm alive in breath. I want to pull it all
into myself.  Want to share it with the quick
of this world.  I don't want to waste

time or breath on worry.  But, there it is,
always pecking at me.  My liver aches
but I'm not chained to any mountain,
no eagle in a loop to tear my side.

Instead, I'm here with the potatoes
and my latest plan to keep their skins
and bake them, then split and slather them
with butter, sour cream, a dash of pepper.

Somewhere and Elsewhere and Everywhere

Agency of weather.  Of virus.  Of unrest.
Contingency planning, disaster planning.

History bleating, bleeding, bloating into the future into our eyes
crumbling into our bones.

Wind and rain rattling our doorways:
hurricane, tornado, downburst, cyclone, monsoon, derecho . . . 

Somewhere nothing remains upright.
Elsewhere, tremendous hours of watching

what's approaching.  And everywhere, everyone
knowing what's already arrived.

Just a Handkerchief of Thought

Just a handkerchief of thought -- there,
in its corner, the girl on a swing
is me.  My skirt lifts above my knees
& shrieks of joy carry through the years

past the moon and back,
through the waves, at the shore, around
the playhouse, into the kitchen, platter of sandwiches,
bowl of cut melon, my mother, still
young, holding out her arms to give a hug.

How I want to step in, step up
and introduce her to these two boys
whose hands I hold -- her great grandsons.

Karen Neuberg is the author of the full-length poetry collection,  PURSUIT (Kelsay Press) and the chapbook the elephants are asking (Glass Lyre).  Recent poems can be found in Big  City Lit, Nixes Mate, and MAINTENANT 16.  She is the associate editor of the online journal First Literary Review - East.

Three Poems by Robert Cooperman

Good Neighbors

They never robbed in the neighborhood,
but would return at 2 a.m. or so, and silent

as a cloaking fog, unload TVs from their truck,
piled them high as Stonehenge in their living room,

and always polite as refugees afraid to say
or do anything to upset their American neighbors.

Once, the family patriarch offered you a monster
system bigger than your living room wall.

You thanked him, but said your son
had already bought you a very nice one.

He tipped his battered fedora, and sauntered
back to his house, with its buzz-cut front lawn.

Hours later, their pick-up rumbled off,
on another foraging mission:  washing machines,

from factory outlets, appliance stores, or private homes?
Discourteous for a church-going lady to ask.

The Lies We Tell

These are the lies we tell
to comfort a friend
whose small, skittish Sheltie
vanished during an evening
of sorcerer-dry thunderstorms:

"She'll make her way back,
just search the neighborhood
and call her name.

"The chance that a fox
or coyote took her
is more remote than venom
from a cobra
in our safe Denver streets.

"Someone found her
and will call any second,
telling you to forget
the reward you posted
on every tree and telephone pole
within two miles of your house,
and he'll bring her around
in a minute or two.

"And of course, the biggest,
most comforting lie of all:
you'll open your back door--
the door she always returned to,
when you let her into the yard--
and there she'll be, wagging
her elegant, impatient tail,
wondering what took you so long."

A Lesson in Gambling

Once, watching on TV with a friend
and his old man, as the anathema Yankees
played the Tigers, I gloated:  Dean Chance
was striking out Yank after Yank.

"They can't touch this guy."

Freddy's dad, who smoked cigars
bigger than Babe Ruth's bat, got fed great,
bloody steaks by his run-off-her-feet wife,
and had guys dropping off paper bags,
and whose mugs I'd seen on post office walls,

"Blomber'll hit one out,
and the Yanks'll win the game."
Before I could reach into my first wallet,
Freddy gripped my arm and shook his head.

On the next pitch, Blomberg parked one over
the right-field fence, so short I could've put one
into the stands if I pulled it right down the line.

I sat fuming, not so much for the Yankees winning,
but that they needed to cheat, like the dumbbell-rocks
who threatened they'd make me bleed everywhere,
if I didn't let them see my math answers.

Robert Cooperman's latest collection is GO PLAY OUTSIDE ( Apprentice House). Forthcoming from Kelsay Books is A NIGHTMARE ON HORSEBACK.

Two Poems by Kelley White


It's a black and white world.  Papa
and Gran.  Momma and Dad.  Skin
that looks gray and purple and red.
You know those old jokes:  Black
and white and red all over.  A newspaper?
A nun chewing on a razor blade.
Lick your finger after you run your 
test strip.  Sweet?  That metallic tingle.
Yes, of course, sweet blood.  Name
the sweetest of them all?  Candy Kane?
Sugar Cookie?  Daddy Sweetums?
Here we are, alone and sour.  Camden
across the river with His Master's Voice.

I have a tuxedo cat.  You have a dog
in formal wear.  So polite, these pets.
'My dog is more popular than I am.'
He got a dozen valentines.  I got none.
The Elite Hunger of Belonging and I'm 
alone.  Along for the ride and he's dangling
his tongue out the window.  I'll finish all
the vegetables on my plate, especially
the peas.  Call me Lima Bean.  Green
is the color of my blood.  Ichor.  Ah,
serum of the Gods.  Tomorrow we may
all twitch and stutter to the beat
of a spoiled neuron.  It's a white
and black world.  You know the jokes.


The children have made a new game.
Peacemaker.  One child sits cross legged
atom the slide platform and dispenses
wisdom to the others.  Until she gets bored
and slides down the woodchips.

Another takes a turn.  Perhaps he closes
his eyes, hums.  This is after all, a Quaker school.
Questions are asked.  Advice is given.
Then a quick slide down.  And another climb
up.  They sit atop their world and play at truth.

And Liberty and Justice play together
on the swing.  And a See-Saw for all.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire.  Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA.  Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press).  She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.  Her newest collection,  NO HOPE STREET,  has just been published by Kelsay Books.

Three Poems by Ray Greenblatt

Play Time

Once our skin was golden too,
as sleek and agile
        as river otters
nosing and grinning
        in and out of the river
sunning on the bank--
        moist bodies tingling
our tongues were fragrant
        saliva heady
our fingers, our members
        explored new lands--
who knows what moments
        we will remember
as our Eldorados,
our kisses then
        were not hollow
wrapped round moral lapses
those sighs did not
        yet croon blue songs.

Daylight Savings

The train sighed to a stop
          2 AM
darkness stretched in all directions.
Couple of distant lights twinked,
lost stars fallen to earth.
I hoped most people were tucked
         in their beds,
not twisted in tragic moments.
Those on the train snored through the time.
An hour given back, in a way,
a golden hour!
What had I done with it.
What had I done
          with all the golden hours.
What would I do?
An engine turned on,
          the train lurched
and we continued down the track.

I Swam at Walden Pond

Surface sparkling
mottled shadows of leaves
          float on the water
bottom silted and warm.
You were all around, Henry,
tramping, taking measurements
and observing . . . observing.
What would you think of all
          the people?
All the development?
The Fitchburg Railway upset
         you enough.
But life must go on
and things always change,
you'd agree readily
         to that.
However, what you wrote
indelible as Testaments
still aids in pointing the way
limning the verities.

Ray Greenblatt is an editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and teaches a poetry course at Temple University in Philadelphia.  His most recent book of poetry is Until the First Light (Parnilis Media, 2020). He has also written book reviews for the Dylan Thomas Society, John Updike Society and Joseph Conrad Today.

Three Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

Counting Sheep

I am trying to recite my mantra:
'aum mani padme hum'.  It's just long enough
to force some concentration and cheat my
brain into believing that getting it right
is all it needs to agonize about.  I sleep

until that aging bladder wants to be emptied,
and after feet on cold floor, broadening hips knocking
the chest of drawers again, I worry that
I might have woken my partner, but daring
to look in his direction I cannot make out movement
or accusation.  My brain lights up and gets to work,

making lists of everything that might be useful
for a little panic.  Will I remember that first line
of my just conceived poem tomorrow? Did I put
some beers in the fridge to be cold tomorrow?
Perhaps I ought to write to my bank first thing or they
block my account! Where will my friend and I have lunch
tomorrow?  (Why on earth should that make me worry . . .)
If the lift doesn't work, I'll have to climb six floors tomorrow.
When was that funeral -- should I have gone?
Do we have onions?

Sleep finally finds me again 15 minutes before
my body knows it's time to make breakfast.

I always love you, life

You have showered me with riches.  You have hurt me beyond
measure.  But I am getting tired now.  I started the battle
early, and the warrior woman's arm is lowering her bow.

I wore a coat of many colours, became what the world
wanted me to be.  Claimed my freedom by melting
into walls.  Sometimes you could see the fissures.
I did what I needed to do in the anonymity of plain sight.

I lusted after the steppes of my mother's forebears,
my long mane blowing in the wind.
My DNA remembered that I honoured the goddess,
cared for the land, herded and told the stories of old.

Didn't know what it means to belong.
But I always was a quick learner,
my deceit well practiced.
You never quite found me out as not of your pack.

About Bread.  Germany, 1944

I can see myself.  A small girl.  White vest, black, ballooning
shorts, handmade. She stands on a milestone, giving her the height
to overlook the wheatfield, trying to see the wave.
In the distance a coocoo calls.

The children have finished picking out the
potato beetles and their larvae by turning over each leaf,
walking slowly through the field where row after row
of the potato green thrives, ready for August.  I see the girl
in front of the big farmer's wife, her apron a sea of colours,
here and there slightly soiled.  The woman presses
the big round loaf against her swelling belly,
cuts it in half and hands her a slice as long
as two of her hands after spreading some lard.

The girl is walking home from the bakery.
The baker lady cut out two coupons from the ration
card. Under the child's left arm a big, crusty loaf.
With her right hand, and an experienced finger, she hollows
the bread through the crust from the exposed end.
At this moment she doesn't think about consequences.

They picked up the last wheat from farmer Braun's
field after he finished the harvesting.  Mother
carried it home in a bag she'd brought.  Left the stalks
to dry on the windowsill, beat out the grains.
She sits, the coffee mill between her legs,
her dress sagging between her thighs.

If we find enough firewood, we'll have
a small fresh loaf tomorrow.
If the train doesn't get bombed,
Father will arrive just in time.

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as six poetry collections.  Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print).  She was twice nominated for a Pushcart.  DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022) and WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Taj Mahal Publishing House July 2022), are both available on Amazon.

One Poem by Rebecca Behar

Puppets and Pain

Tears for bones fragments
From Ground Zero
Tears for thousands of photos
And one disaster, layers of memory
The Merry Widow takes a gamble
Rewind: back to the 90's, the 70's
The fashion in the 80's was the 50's
I love Radio days, etcetera, I just saw
The Adicts mummified at the MacBa
Linking Park's still good on line
"Waiting for a light never comes"
I just mumble my own life
At odds with my recollections
While the parrot of the retro clock
Squawks "what's new, what's new"?

Rebecca Behar is a French writer, poet and slam performer.  She has published children stories and short stories, CDs of poetry and music, philosophy and literary criticism.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Three Poems by Taylor Graham

How They Got Where They're Going

Early memories jammed into 
projects, poolrooms, suburban split-
levels -- what outlaw habits, or one
bad choice, brought them to this place?
Their present bonds are of the psyche
as much as prison bars.
But you come here voluntarily, once
a week, to give theme men a voice,
unchain their thoughts through 
metaphor.  You bring the generosity
of words. Poetry. Your reward:
to see metamorphosis in their eyes.

A Scotty-Dream

Beam me up
to a space I've never seen
and never heard of,
not a tourist attraction nor at war;
some place that's suffered
no human contact
since pre-Industrial Revolution;
out of human time.
I'd wander among plants and animals
left to themselves,
who won't regard me as an enemy;
some place I can't identify
by name or position
on a geo-political map
and -- waking --
can't return to again,
to see how we've changed it
in my lifetime.

Letter to You in the Other Seat

Our trip yesterday up the mountain --
you should have been driving, corner of one
eye on the road while you appraised ridges
and canyons -- miles of skeleton pine and cedar.
You'd tell me about the forest coming back
after fires you fought when you were younger,
when you could still pass the step-test.
You'd tell me how this fire was hotter, more
unpredictable, born of climate change.
You'd point to small green coming back --
deer brush, bear clover.  But you're far away
in the passenger seat, while I drive
and tell you what the landscape looks like now;
if you could remember how it used to be --
hardpan forest roads we'd drive, wondering
where they went; their names on wooden signs
burned away now like your eyesight
and your memory.  I'd wait for you to tell me
the forest will come back.  And I'd believe it, if you'd come back too.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler and served as El Dorado County's inaugural Poet Laureate.  She's included in California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present; California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology, and elsewhere.  Her latest collection is Windows of Time and Place (Cold River Press, 2019).

Three Poems by Michael Estabrook

Earth Day 2021

     . . . gale-force winds brought down two
     large trees snapped them right over
     along with a clutter of branches and twigs . . . 

I'm at the Lexus dealership
in Northborough Massachusetts waiting
for my car's first oil change when Otis Redding's
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay comes on the radio
immediately dropping me back 51 years
to Earth Day 1970 --
I'm on the Wagner College campus a month
before graduation and I'm with my brother Kerry
and we're planting a tree
in honor of Earth Day, the very first Earth Day.
My brother's dead now all these years later
cold in the ground but I hope
the tree is still alive thriving in the sun
he'd like that too.


     . . . some things are worse
     than retirement you know
     I wanted to remind her  . . .

"Now that you're retired
I'd counsel you
to change the overall mix
of stocks and bonds
in your portfolio from 70/30
to a more conservative 60/40
in order to help ameliorate
the vicissitudes
of an ever more unpredictable
stock market" Danielle
my pretty young
financial advisor advises me adding
"You're in that season
of your life after all."

Ain't Diets Grand

     . . . trying hard to lose weight
     but that blueberry pie
     has my name written all over it . . . 

So I have to pick up
the grandkids after school
make an excuse to my wife
about needing to leave early
for some errands stope off
at Dunkin' Donuts for a half dozen
scarf down two in the parking lot
with my cup of coffee
while waiting for the kids.
At least I'm not hiding booze
in the medicine cabinet
or in my sock drawer
or out behind the garage not that
I've ever done any of that.

Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s.  He has published over 30 collections, a recent one being Controlling Chaos: A Hybrid Poem (Atmosphere Press, 2022). He lives in Action, Massachusetts.

Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

Frolic with the Doctor

He, my first, probably only, molecular biologist
(one who never studied human anatomy)
recommends L'Oreal Collagen Moisture Filler/
Combleur Hydratent; twice? thrice? he smoothed
fragrance-free/sans parfum cream into my face/
mon visage! Oh, divine moisturizer!
He instructed me to use it with -- ta da! --
hyroleuric acid. (Started the ones you gave me,
order placed for more, arriving tomorrow).
He applied his fingertips to my flesh,
across skin and the many bones below:

Femur of a foal
femur of a tiny dance
delicate/sturdy femur
of my beautiful legs' thighs --

Watch out! I've got
their muscles in spades:
vasus madialis
rectus memoris
vastus leteralis
The squeeze is on.

Somehow I don't think you'd mind
if I wrapped my tibia and fibula
around the seven cervical bones of your neck.
C1 to C7, easy-peasy!
A beautiful view
to complete this brief portfolio
of my beautiful legs.
(You said so first)
Now I'm even more shameless.

And the maxilla of my upper teeth
conspire with mandible below
to support my smile when you fuck me.
And before and/or aft,
nipbitenibble thee.

He lectured on the topic
of the intestinal biome;
together we blessed the bacterial
balance of my belly and lady parts,
not without minutiae of mitochondria,
kabillions of cells powering flesh and bone.
Later, I conferred with him about nights
of foot/leg cramps, rude awakenings
despite potassium these past two months:
More hydration necessary, he advised.

Yes, I will get my bone density scan
after I migrate north.  Other appointments
booked: mammo, PCP, gyno, derma, dentist.

One last bone I know is metaphorical,
colloquial, not boned but where blood
rises and -- voila! -- your beautiful boner
between my beautiful legs.

#65: Amana

I rubbed the lamp
of my imagination
and a proverbial genie emerged
in my mind with the notion
of granting my words their wishes thrice.

My words dream
of an Arabian stallion.
Scion out of Al Shaqab --
fine-boned, fleet, proud.
But a dashing young man
appeared from Al-Salt, Jordan --
sleek, slender, muscular, taut --
wielding his proverbial phallus
in this face of this infidel.  Am I?

My words conjure
boundaries dissolved between
our ages, nations and religions,
our culture, languages and literatures.
We are only all flesh, all soul.

My words desire desires,
so I mount my virile mal─ôk,
take his thick equine length
within me, and ride him
hard across the finish line to bliss.
An angel earns his wings.

And the come-true poem has us
entering the sacred Kingdom of Trust.

#64: Tri-fer

My Serbian sommelier
slipped into my suite unobserved,
bearing a sweating bottle of Sancerre
to skip through the preliminaries
of my undressing him from waistcoat
to cravat to crisp white shirt,
bent on below the belt.
My plush virgin-white bathrobe
opened easily to age-gap eroticism
in etrmis:  forty-three years.
There's something to be said
for such a youthful member.  Thrice!

Once upon an ocean liner's balcony,
I knelt between muscular thighs, believing.

Karla Linn Merrifield has had 1000+ poems appearing dozens of journals and anthologies.  She has 16 books to her credit.  Following her 2018 Psyche's Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press.  Her newest poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, recently nominated for the National Book Award, was inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars and published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY). She is a frequent contributor to The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.  Web site:; blog at; Tweet @LinnMerrifield;

Three Poems by J.K. Durick


I'm sure I could learn all about them
Their situation, their behaviors, and
Their place in the greater scheme of
The bird world, but I like the mystery
Of them, these crows look the part
They can play in my imaging.  Their
Coloring seems sinister, their cawing
Puzzling, as if they are complaining
Or making a claim on whatever it is
They are going after.  The three I see
Every day on my walk seem to have
This neighborhood as their own.  One
Day on a lawn on Greening sharing
Whatever they have to eat, another
Day on a roof on Duchess, huddled
As if planning their next move.  They
Spend their day moving around, but
Join the others at night, seems like
Hundreds who gather in a tree or two
Not far from here.  They seem sinister
Almost dangerous, like all the birds in
That Hitchcock movie getting ready to
Chase Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren
Down the street.  I watch them carefully
And they are watching me.

Walking a Mile

My feet march to the beat of
a difficult drummer
mis-stepped, mis-shapen
draft-dodger glat
bunioned and broken
with the large toe lapsing over
the others
rubbing while I walk.
Sneakers and sandals crowd
and scrape them
as they complain, protest
almost too much.
Then my diabetes doctor
checks them, warns me
with advice I can't follow
off-balanced the way my feet
make me
out of step, always hoping
a cure might happen --
a feet transplant or an entire
person transplant,
the one about walking a mile
in someone else's shoes
but instead in someone else's

Walking to This

Someone is still in bed, wrapped up
tied up in the blankets.
His head buried face-first in
the crushed pillow.
It's been a bad night, but this is worse,
the day he faces
the stinking mess of the morning
the snake-pit of an afternoon
the numb nothing of the evening and
then another night of off and on
dreaming, waking, and then this.
He rolls over, tries to see the ceiling
as sky enough, the night-light all
the stars he needs
his bedside lamp sufficient sun
just enough moon.
Watches his sky, feels his sun
then gets up to face what's left of
his day,
the part he plays in it --
that is so much like our own.

J.K. Durick is a retired writing teacher and online writing tutor.  His recent poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Black Coffee Review, Literary Yard, Sparks of Calliope, Synchronized Chaos, Madswirl, Journal of Expressive Writing, Lightwood, and Highland Park Poetry.

One Poem by Edward Lee

Bones Speaking with Hard Tongues

Last night I heard
my bones whispering
to each other
in a language I couldn't understand
or even identify,
hard sounds colliding
like stone against stone.

I realized too
that this was not the first time
I had heard them,
all previous whispering
categorized by my brain
as the mutterings
of my own mind,
my thought-processes
with no off-switch,
not even when sleep beckoned
to the point of necessity.

Some nights I would fear
my chemically unbalanced brain
was mutating its depression
into some blunter madness.
But no, it has only ever been
my bones speaking
with their hard tongues,
whispering about things
I might never know.

My bones whispering incessantly,
keeping me awake.

I wish I could either decipher
their colliding words
or they would cease
for a night or three.

Whichever is easier
for them, either works
for me, truly, either
works for me.

Edward Lee's poetry, short stories, non-fiction and photography have been published in magazines in Ireland, England, and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen, The Blue Nib, and Poetry Wales.  His play, "Wall", received a rehearsed reading as part of Druid Theatre's Druid Debuts 2020.  He also makes musical noise under the names of Ayahuasca Collective, Orson Carroll, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Bov.  His blog/website can be found at

One Poem by Frank Joussen

Checking Out When Checking In

more and more people's lives
in our own Western world
have come to resemble,
amazingly quite obviously,
bourgeois one-night stands
in middle-class hotels,
in rooms with a view
not looked at:

checking out when checking in,
small talk given for small change
with not so much as a 
sideward glance at your 
partner in petty crime,
moving on before truly getting there
leaving nothing but anonymous stains behind.

Frank Joussen is a German teacher and writer.  His publications include two selections of his poetry, one of them being a bilingual collaboration with Romanian poet Ana Cicio.  He has co-edited two international anthologies of poetry/fiction in India and one of short stories in Germany.  His poems and short stories have also been published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies in Australia, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Romania, Malta, the USA, Canada, India, China, Thailand and Japan; some of them have been translated into German, Romanian, Hindi and Chinese.  His latest publications include Pulsar (G.B.),  Poetry Pacific (Canada), FreeXpresSion (Australia), Verbal Art (India), and Word City Literature (International).

Three Poems by John F. Keane

The Haze of a Sweet Afternoon

Slow moments clad in flame dance between
dormant memories.  Coverts of yearning
stroll sun-slashed afternoon alleyways like
bechoning streetwalkers murmuring with

honey-slick voices.  This is the time, this
is the time to make eternal experience
they say, in the haze of a sweet afternoon
too perfect to endure, and never to return

slow moments clad in flame dance between
dormant memories.  The blazing instant 
lost, the brimming goblet spilt, the afternoon
that might have been discarded in the trash.

Incel in the Rain

outside rain pelts from grey
I ask my Stacylite friend if she
will share her umbrella with

me to the station she agrees
but anxiously checks if people
are mistaking us for a couple

she says the rain has slowed
she must hurry home fast
because Chad is waiting

she cannot endure walking
beside an incel subhuman
with people looking at us

I reach the station soaked
forlorn to the freezing skin
for the homebound train.

The Consolations of Philosophy

Always strive to make the maxim of
your action a universal law because
if you don't then everything we admire
will come to an ignominious and futile
end like a former rock star in a nursing
home, leaving nothing whatsoever of
interest to anyone as the earth spins
through the void towards eternity.

If no one bothered to have any kids
(which is a dirty job though some poor
bastard has to do it) then civilization
and all the achievements of our species
would crumble to dust and be forgotten
leaving vultures and grizzlies crapping
all over the White House floor and
bats roosting in the Bodleian library.

If no one ever bothered to go to work
(even if almost everyone hates their job
except famous athletes and performers
or professional beer and wine tasters)
then society would grind to a halt and
humans would devolve into illiterate
hunter-gatherers with no mobile
phones, coffee shops or hospitals.

Don't tell malevolent lies or practice
fraud because it will erode trust values
turning all communities into debased
and violent autocracies with oppressive
police forces and corrupt government
with everyone being even more hostile
to each other than they already are
(if such a thing were actually possible).

Above all, don't take hard drugs because
if everyone was high on crack cocaine
or crystal meth or even strong skunk
then trains would never run on time and
there would be loads of car crashes and
apps would not work properly because
software developers would not know
their asses from their elbows.

So there it is, ignoring the categorical
imperative and not making the maxim of
your action a universal law will result in
corrosive chaos with ostriches, crocodiles
termites and other low IQ, uncultured
lifeforms knowing jack shit about anything
inheriting the earth, never composing or 
reading poems and being utterly boring.

John F. Keane lives in Manchester, in the UK.  A software developer and securities trader, he has published poems in a number of British anthologies and publications.  These include the Live from Worktown Anthology 5 (2018), the Poetry from the Platform Anthology (2021), Prole (2010), Best of Manchester Poets Volume 3 (2013) and The Bread and Roses Award Anthology (2018).  In addition, he has published poems in a number of international publications including Analog, the American speculative fiction magazine and Jubilat, literary journal of the University of Massachusetts.  He also won Bolton Station's Community Partnership contest in 2020 and the 2021 Ekphrastic Poetry Contest sponsored by the Friendswood Public Library, Texas.

Two Poems by Bradford Middleton

A Small Family Reunion (As That Is All That Remain)

I sit here in my room in
This town, my adopted home,
And realize to the north lay
Responsibility and all that
Other adult stuff whilst to my
South, I can hear it on a stormy day,
Is the sea that I occasionally
Dream of riding a dingy to
Freedom over towards the wonders
Of beautiful France and a 
Glorious family reunion.

Newly Normal Kinda Saturday

Another Saturday comes around as slowly
Life returns to some kind of new normal, a
Time when we hope the death of loved ones as
Well as forgotten ones becomes a rare &
Tragic occurrence, as today I sit here with
My radio keeping me updated on all things
Football and the words tumbling from my
Fingers onto this page as with ten minutes to
Kick-off the triumphant roar is yet to come
Screaming from within & right now, beyond
A bit of herb, and the idea of some biscuits &
Tea there ain't much else to do on this, a newly
Normal kinda Saturday . . . 

Bradford Middleton lives in Brighton, UK.  His poems and stories are dotted all over the internet as well as in journals, anthologies, zines and four individual chapbooks.  He is currently looking to sell his latest novel to the highest bidder.  Get in touch @BradfordMiddle5 on Twitter if interested.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Three poems by j.lewis

mother macduff

she stands her ground
in somber royal blue
confronted by a coalescence
of coals and smoking sulfur
waits for him to speak

waits until the hissing steam
dissipates away from yellow eyes

lips move and in her mind she hears
nothing she wants, everything she fears
accusations and prophecies
of pain, of trials, of early death

his words shadow the promises made
around this child who swells
beneath her golden waist-chain
who turns, then stills

he will untimely come
but he will not come yet

not for babylon

i watched him sit and weep
there by the river
and i thought that certainly
he was remembering babylon
of egypt's flesh pots
maybe the day the manna stopped

what i could not see
through my preconception
was that he cared nothing
for biblical trials
hanging gardens
or divine sustenance

he only knew his pain
and pitiful impotence
against nature's indiscriminate fury
that made a river rise
to swallow his family
in front of his helpless eyes

only for you

there is violence involved
in existing only for you
a tearing away from others
and future,
burying alive
memories that will not die
not of their own volition
memories that breathe
seduction and betrayal into dreams

if i am not violent
how can i confront
confound and conquer
the inevitable distractions
the dalilah deceptions
that would strip me of the strength
that binds me to you

despite your best objections
love is and must be violent
there is no gentle victory
in this battle that i wage
to love only you

j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, nurse practitioner, and Editor of Verse-Virtual, an online journal and community.  When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayah, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.  He is the author of four full length collections and several chapbooks.  More information can be found at

Three Poems by J.B. Hogan

Prescient Vision

Eleven, weak and sickly, burning,
eyes watery, head aching,
breathing shallow, labored,
as when infant, then saved
by loving hands and whiskey
on cloth, now older, alone, feverish,
legs stretched tightly for fleeting
moment without pain, suddenly an
image, clear, undeniable;
prescient vision laid clear in sight,
add sixty-four, another bed, another time,
same fire, same pain, one difference --
the end at seventy-five, the
last time-flickering like film,
maybe just bad delirium, or
self-fulfilling prophecy, best shunned,
delayed, stayed some while more
from final, inescapable truth.

Panic Mode

Sets in at different times, but
mostly later, when there's snow
on the roof or when the shingles
have mostly fallen off.

Things start to speed up and
there's this feeling that time
is running out and you're not
going to reach that goal
that has been your calling
since you were quite young.

You're driven to finish, to
work harder, faster, to leave a 
legacy for somebody to build on, for
somebody to maybe just notice.

Up ahead you see that end date, the
last one, the sunset you won't see, the
sunrise without you, when there are
no more jobs to do, no more tasks to
accomplish, no more time.

And you push too hard, you
jump the gun, you say things
you shouldn't, like I 
love you or I hate you when
you were just trying to shorten the
time it takes to be those things, do
those things, live to the fullest, 
one last time.

But that's all it is -- panic mode.
Ease back, let up on the throttle,
try to live in regular time, as if
these were lots of it left, as if
you didn't know what was ahead.

And calm yourself, relax,
take in the fading sunset
as if it were the first sunrise,
as if there were infinitely
more to come, and that you 
would see every last one of them.


At first waxing, like the moon,
new into hopeful sliver,
joyful crescent to quarter,
slowly brightening, slowly growing,
waxing gibbous, light shining brighter,
all full, complete, known,
all felt, seen, with perpetual
hope in the light --
yet with time, change,
no permanency brooked,
no lengthy stay permitted,
waning then, no longer full,
slowly dimming, slowing declining,
waning gibbous, at partial shine,
to the waning sliver, the 
final darkness of the black
new moon, this cycle
not repeating, not returning,
the back side of the moon broached,
lightless night, unchanging,
in permanent darkness.

J.B. Hogan has published over 280 stories and poems and eleven books, including Bar Harbor, Bounty Riders, Time and Time Again, Mexican Skies, Tin Hollow, Living Behind Time, Losing Cotton, The Rubicon, Fallen, The Apostate, and Angels' in the Ozarks (nonfiction, local professional baseball history).  He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

A Poem by Robert Lee Frazier

Venus in the Woods

We are the lovers in the wood,
Searching out the secret places
Venus is among us.
Alive, in the speckled sunlight & shady groves
Moving through the trees.
Is there ever really a place
To truly be alone?
We'll let these cool brooks,
And mid-day siestas fill up with our passions.
And hope Venus will lead us
Further on,
To sacred groves
Where love and time may last forever.

Robert Lee Frazier is a two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee.  His poetry has been published in The Houston Literary Review, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal,  and Red River Review.  Robert lives in Hagerstown, MD.

A Poem by Sy Roth

 The Lincoln Continental

Saturdays like clockwork
The gold-colored Lincoln Continental
Stood ready like a behaved dog, ready for grooming.

Sometimes the sky clouded over like a sad groom
Whose bride escaped before the nuptials.

Sometimes a blue sky greeted it
Like a resplendent ocean bursting at the seams with life.

Sometimes the sky was a mixed bag of tricks
Playful children playing hide and go seek.

Rainouts had to wait an extra day
Until the matador was ready as a picador to dispel the week of dirt.

He came out shorted and sandled ready to do battle
While the neighbors marveled with their dark glasses on at an impending nova.

The Lincoln Continental purred with anticipation
Clad only in the thin layer of soot and green tree powder
He attacked it with gusto.

Water cascaded over its sides like a delicious fountain
a Trevi of water and bubbled soap laved the errant child.

The artist at work until the Lincoln shined like a fount of words
Cascading from gleeful rubicund lips and neighbors cheering.

Week after week, when finally the Lincoln stood alone
Outside gathering its weekly dust.

He made a sweeping effort once in a while
And then he vanished into an urn swept up into a sea of his own cleanliness.

The Lincoln was sold
He was forgotten.

Sy Roth looks at both sides now and finds that there is humor on the other side.  The world is a sprightly nymph so he keeps up with the bouncing ball and out comes a song.

A Poem by Diane Webster

At Rest

The old woman sits on the park bench.
Her wide-brimmed garden hat
shades her face from sunshine
now too late to prevent wrinkles.
Her cane leans against one leg;
a can of pop chills her hand
resting against her other knee.
She stares at the ground
as a parade of ants scurry
in frantic scavenger hunt.

The woman contemplates
stomping her shoe to smash
as many ants as possible
or playing pool with her cane
to shoot ants into death's pocket
or splash a bit of cola
causing a stampede
to the sweet puddle.

Diane Webster's goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase and to write.  Diane enjoys the challenge of transforming images into words to fit her poems.  Her work has appeared in "El Portal," "North Dakota Quarterly," "Eunoia Review" and other literary magazines.

Three Poems by Ralph Monday

 Book of Tree

She would climb in a white
through feathers of smoke
to watch the rain
smoldered eyes

one day the tree lay

her grandmother
the Old World
saw light and dreams
in tea leaves 
her be not worried
for this is a harbinger
of the dusk of all things
a tree leaves you like
a son, a daughter, a wife,
a mother

bruises she taught were
scrying up like winged
doves through billows of leaf
smoke where the girl
could see all the
sepia and beige evenings

her tongue caught by
a bitter theocracy

The Old Ways

Have been diminished by tiny screens,
where people now look down, the time gone
when most looked up to the heavens.

This is diminishment of mind, of soul, the
spirit dancing in the wind, of flying and
crawling and chittering things replaced by

meaningless text scrawling across lighted
screens like ants walking in file.
The Old Folk in Appalachian hollers

knew how to read the skytext, like now
the moon an upturned bowl gathering
moisture to spill out,

encircled by a one-day ring for the
coming storm that will coat the world in
white after a single turn of the earth.

The Spearhead

The drive to the mountains is alwasy
short.  The return home is brief and my
brother gave me a spearhead, chpped
black flint that he found under a cliff

I held it with reverence, awe, at the
artistic skill of how the stone had been
flaked away, most likely by an antler bone,
slow stroke by stroke.

The stone was an earth necromancer
that brought up drums like the creator's
heartbeat faded away down the past's

Stone and bone.

How many times had
the spear been tipped by an animal's 
blood, or another person?

Stone and bone.

The mountains were the blue smoked back
of a sounding whale.

Stone and bone.

All this blood my own.  My future is my
past.  And held the flint to my ear, heard it


Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN.  He is widely published in journals.  Books include All American Girl and Other Poems, 2014. Empty House and American Renditions, 2015. Narcissus the Sorcerer, 2015. Bergman's Island & Other Poems, 2021. The Book of Appalachia (forthcoming), and a humanities text, published by Kendall/Hunt, 2018. Vol 2 of the humanities text is expected in 2022.  Twitter @RalphMonday Poets&Writers

Two Poems by Erren Kelly


Verity is from the roux, made from flour, spices and ingredients
burned into a color dark as me, no other color which holds truth

Verity is in sausages, which hogs sacrificed themselves, which
artful cajuns and black people made, with spices that sing of the bayou

Verity is from the chicken, I once chased around in my grandmother's yard
which brings the flavor of the south, into a joyful evanescence

Verity is from the oysters, that can hold the pearls of dreams
I open one and zydeco songs cry out to me

Verity is from the okra, green and slimy, yet hold worlds
of flavor, a good cook/magician can conjure out

Verity lies in the shrimps, the jewels of the sea
that nets caught, filled to bursting, as fisherman thanked god for mana

Verity lies in the crabs, my birth sign and spirit animal
always hungry, always hunting, always seeking more

Verity lies in Tony Chachere's seasonings, and Tobasco, which
run thick and red as my own blood, running true

Let this be my doxology, my praise song, I dip my
French bread into, dear heavenly father, give me food of life
your mercy and your love I praise

That I may continue to know the joy of you
all my life long days . . . 

The Soprano Warms Up

and the world becomes an inferno
and all of Italy comes out of her mouth
like Maria Callas, her beauty is captured
in a moment

yet, she becomes infinity

her c note like Renee Fleming
soothes like a cold compress
across the brow

she sings and the world stops

all lace and storms and dreams and
daylight, comes out of her mouth

Caro Mio Bein . . .

and a nation stops raging and notices

how a woman stands alone on stage
fragile as a flower

but holds in her voice, the power of armies . . .