Inarticulate by David Adès

I am trying, still, to touch something,
something I cannot name,
something that those of faith

and bereft of doubt might call God —
the inviolate kernel of epiphany —
not so much to remove the grey

between the black and white
as to know myself, my own heart,
to hold onto the days as they depart,

relentless, into the porous vat of memory,
something that will clean the dirt
from ambiguity, incomprehension,

the flotsam and jetsam
of unanswered questions,
some balm for all the conflicted,

itchy scabs of a life,
when senselessness is engulfing,
when all that is visible

is what roils beneath the cracked veneer;
reaching with fingers and body,
with heart and thought, to pierce the fog,

to follow the tactile lure
slipping always beyond reach,
as if it held within it all things lost —

innocence, a white, unsullied honesty,
a purer, less troubled version of myself,
an aesthetic of love —

as if I could peel back its membrane
and reach in,
trying to touch the untouchable,

to touch the invisible architecture
of silence perhaps, or the void
behind the silence,

or the implication of the silence
endlessly interrupted by noise;
or maybe it is the horizon’s edge

I stretch towards,
receding always as I approach,
or what unfathomably lies beyond it,

the cinematography of possibility;
or else my arms
are wind-milling at chance,

the sometimes randomness of intersections
that spins lives like die
and sends them elsewhere,

those implausible plausibilities
within the stream
of arrivals and departures;

or I am grasping at the sharp point
between contradictions
and incompatibilities,

between opposing hatreds,
historical enmities, truths and lies,
cutting myself,

feeling the red, red blood
well up in my hands, dripping,
where a drop of clarity might reside

waiting for light to strike it,
waiting for a pilgrim, lost,
to stumble accidentally upon it

in the age old tradition of discovery;
or I am myself touched,
tricked with these decoys,

delusions, mental wanderings,
and it is something else altogether,
something nameless, incomprehensible.

Living Inside Our Bodies by David Adès

Living inside our bodies
we never know the extent of our reach,

where the tiny seedpods of our smiles

are blown, where they lodge,
where they reside deep in memory,

how long they endure

emitting their silent love,
how much they become beacon,

they become anchor, balm.

In word, in action, in image,
we are cradled and carried,

we are held within others,

in whom we may be given the grace
we do not give ourselves, the embrace,

acceptance, nurture, forgiveness.

If we had any sense of our reach,
if we knew it all, we would inflate,

buoyant, we would rise up,

arms encompassing everything
within their worldly touch.

On the Shelf by David Adès

You turned the wheel —
I spun around:

but I was not clay
to your hands,

I did not shape
to your image,

my imperfections
would not vanish.

Now you have
left me here,

fired and glazed,
hard and set.

Two Women, Two Paths by David Adès

1.

One woman is holding on
white-knuckled hard.

She wears her grief
buttoned up tight
holding herself within it
fearing her own disappearance
fearing air on skin
fearing the world beyond him.

She takes it to her bed
as talisman
as substitute
as protector
to ward off his absent warmth at night.

She is widow to memories of him.
They are a temple,
a shrine she visits every day
bearing longing
bearing words
bearing despair.

Her eyes
still fix upon the spaces he once occupied
as if to prise an image
a shadow
some vestige of his presence lingering still.

She stands on the spot
unable or unwilling to move
and those that surrounded her at first
with empathy
with compassion
with solicitude
are as thoughts drifting away.

2

A second woman is heavy sliding
letting go.

She is alone
after sixty years of marriage
after caring for him a dozen stroked-out years
unable now to care for herself.

She has lost interest
in counting her losses
in the search for meaning
in the daily news.

She has given up thoughts
of returning home
of seeing her second grandchild married
of holding her great grandchild
for the first time.

She is shrinking into herself
finding the path to disappearance
abandoning desire
abandoning food
abandoning mobility.

She is moving on
finding the way back to him
step by step
while those who love her
argue and cajole
urge her
to get up and walk
to eat a little more
to bend her will
and stay.

Autumn Wind by Vincent Canizaro

time and an autumn wind
unfurl the curtain lace

in a silent kitchen
I watch the cat; hunched,
creeping slowly along the shelf

a silent candle wavers
shadow through the crystal

time etching darkness on the wall

Spies by Frank H. Coons

Again the dream
melds facets of real
& unreal with colors of ochre
and starfish-orange
we are on a jagged beach
bordered with dense trees
maybe the Delaware Capes
or Penobscot Bay & lighting
a small stick fire & wearing
animal skin coats
waiting for someone important
for whom we have leather bags
full of old coins and a note
written in code
when you nudge me because
I’m snoring
just as I realize it’s George
Washington himself we’re
expecting on the still
minimally occupied west bank
of the lower Hudson
across from which there are
more Tories than revolutionaries
all because I have been reading
Chernow’s Washington before bed
which has seeped into this
almost sleep & you and I
are spies for the rebel army
in some danger yet willing
to help the famous
general but just as he appears
through the river mist
with his crude wooden armada
the alarm rings spoiling
our cover and chance to help
the new republic
yet I rise with an air
of self-importance
and a sly nod to those who
can’t recognize the art
of my subterfuge

Because by Stephen Cramer

Because I’m a skeleton
wearing a few inches

of flesh & some jeans
I’m going to rub my face

on some wild columbine
& learn how to live

on rocky slopes, sing
all the neighbors’ stares

into my direction, suck
on this rice like it’s a 5

star meal & it is, convert
my feelings into the brass angles

of jazz & then translate them
into words which are less

than the croaks of frogs
& the sadness of white

throated sparrows, make an igloo
of leaves in the fall

the wind be damned,
dance to pop songs about

having sex with money,
scratch my name into a stone

& toss it into the deepest waters
so that it can be rubbed

by an eel, look everyone
in the eye who has been broken

in so many different ways
than me, hydroplane

as often as possible, keep on
not breaking someone’s jaw,

put three times
the wrong key in the hole,

be there when the thirsty
river opens its throat.

Blues in Blue by Stephen Cramer

Some days they shadow
me like a badly dubbed

film, lines lagging
just behind the lips.

Don’t talk to me
about serenity. One guy

ate an airplane
piece by piece over

two years, but he still
couldn’t fly.

Maybe the things
I’ve believed in most

all this time have been
fossilizing my brain cells.

How much there is
in the world to re-discover:

how the stream pushes
the swamp an inch further

south each season, how
to throw a pebble

at an asteroid. I try again
to understand

your half smile.
Its curvature

is a foreign
tongue I want

to spend the rest
of the night learning.

The Microphone Speaks by Stephen Cramer

The Microphone Speaks:

So this is how it feels
to be outdated:

watching headsets couple
with main acts every night

while I haven’t had
a date for months.

Go ahead, call me
the vestigial organ

of the music industry.
I am the myth

of the appendix.
Now, singers’ hands

are free to become birds
taking flight to the bass drum’s

pulse. It’s okay, I know
when you talk about me,

you use words like
irrelevant. Yes, I am the wing

of an earthbound ostrich.
I am the male

nipple. If I am used,
it is only as an accessory,

So, please: tie your sweaty
bandana around me.

Flourish me in flamboyant
figure eights. Brush your salty

lips against me one last time.
Remember with me

every last night
for the past 100 years

when you needed me
as much as I still need you.

Remind me again how our love was ill-advised by Torie Amarie Dale

Remind me again how our love was ill-advised

I swing from the branches
of that forbidden tree. You rest
your hands on your knees

and bow your head low.
In that valley of your own creation
you ask God, and, of course,

your Blessed Mother,
that you and I might someday
be lovers, or friends

or just two people
with a history, who catch up
with each other once again.

You clasp your hands
around that silver rosary ring,
tell me you’re stunningly unwise.

I pick up my python bag,
hang it from my shoulder,
strap on my stilettos, shimmy

into my tight-skinned jeans,
and step over branches
torn in my descent.

Cute Aggression by Mark Danowsky

Eating baby carrots
I try not to feel my teeth
crushing fingers
even though I’m sure
this is not what it’s like
to chew through bone

I look at the dog
but he’s not going to
give me concrete answers

They call it “cute aggression”
that desire to destroy something beautiful
although that’s not exactly it

Our internal systems are simply
simple and get overloaded
since just below the surface
too many know there is nothing cute
when real darkness within
turns toward a loved one

Old Friend by Mark Danowsky

As it turns out
We were not meant to live
Similar lives
Albeit growing
Up together
Then splitting
As limb from trunk
Pushes toward sunlight
Breaking canopy
Knowing nothing
Except need

On Break by Mark Danowsky

Sitting between frozen dinners
deodorant and pain relief
a red umbrella blocks
squares of skylight
leaves only fluorescent gleam
cast off scuffed polished floor
flat black metal table
shiny packaging
all that lines each shelf
waiting for you to consider
if any of these things can help
add value

Young Ways by Mark Danowsky

not just youth get over-excited
draw others in their web
where discovery is lauded

as if innovation exists
given we are most satisfied
in small revelatory moments

wet ivy glistening with dew

fresh picked raspberries

wearing sunglasses

looking like your favorite self
driving toward
precisely where you desire

When “Goodbye” Isn’t Enough by Holly Day

My son tells me
the world has gotten so small
that even if he gets swallowed up
by the trees in the Amazon
by the heights of Nepal or Kilimanjaro
by the noise of icebergs crashing somewhere past Alaska
he will be able to call me on his cell phone
I can see his face on my computer
I can talk to him any time I want.

I want to tell him
that even the smallest places
can feel gigantic and empty when you’re all alone
that even as close as a telephone call might make us feel
we’ll still have to hang up sometime, and that every minute
I don’t hear his stereo playing in the basement
that I don’t trip over his backpack in the hallway
that I don’t hear him rummaging around in the kitchen
I’ll wonder how he’s doing, if he’s okay

if he remembers
how much he is loved.

Memory is a Moment by Richard Dinges Jr

framed in fog.
A hollow echo
in empty bones
shifts between
gray shadows.
Sharp edges
scrape bare skin
exposed to cold wind
under a bright clear sky.
A sun blinds,
feeds a single seed
until it grows
into a large tree.
I can climb
A large tree
to see a horizon
that retreats
into distance.

Mid-Winter Journey by Richard Dinges Jr

Sun melts low into
horizon, paints
a thin orange
wash across hay
field stubble, raises
a roll of hills
and farmsteads
into still life
framed within bare
tree windbreaks
where I pause
in my journey
to watch sunlight
blend with land
before sky lowers
to embrace my path
in twilight’s shadows.

Rhythm of Nightfall by Richard Dinges Jr.

At day’s end, shadows
draw pond water
into sky’s dark, meld
field stubble’s slow
dissolve into grove’s
trunks. I can only
imagine star’s sparkle
in my eyes that cannot
see beyond this blur
into night, so quiet
I hear my breath,
a whisper little removed
from breeze rustle
in dry leaves and waves’
pulse at my feet
to the rhythm
of my heart.

Blood Moon by Robert Ferrier

Tonight I explode light with
long lens. Focus between
limbs. Balance moon atop
a shadowy chimney.

I feel small, insignificant
in a universe of diamonds.
I sling my dreams, trusting
stars to illumine hearts
light
years
away.

Lunar cycles bookend lives:
beginnings
relationships
endings.

God grant me a map of infinity.

America’s Prayer by Jenny Flower

Our children who are in heaven
Forever we’ll remember
Your names.

When it comes to guns
Whose will be done?

Your blood
Will not be forsaken.

For parents, this day is filled with dread.
Forgive us – we sent you to classes – as we forgive those who took you from us.

Lead us not from contemplation,
But embolden us, the people.

Divine is our freedom and the power to tell your stories, together.

Amen

Avocado Salad by April Garcia

I stand in my kitchen
as she stood
in hers
and carefully dice
plump, red H-E-B tomatoes
—their juices running
across the wooden cutting board
—cube
creamy avocados,
and
chop
crunchy, iceberg lettuce.

In a bowl,
I mash
the cubes
—sprinkle
with garlic powder,
salt
—drizzle
with olive oil,
and add
the lemon juice
before folding it all together.

The same savory dish
Gran prepared
—by blending ingredients
in a concoction
that is as delicious
as the blended personalities
of
aunts, uncles, and cousins
gathered around
that old chipped and faded
red picnic table—
enjoying avocado salad.

Big Man by Julie Diane Gates

There you are on the floor of the bathroom passed out.
I ran past the glistening blinking Christmas lights to the guest room where my mother was sleeping
And young Caroline, zombified, in her transient coming of age to leaving the nest bare bedroom.
You said you would take care of things
You said you would take care of me.
You said you would take care of my daughter, who caught your heart first.
And so you punched, slapped, kicked, and then screamed her into oblivion
With your tiny, meaningless words,
But she knocked you down and told you to go fuck yourself.
I should have left you on that bathroom floor when Gma and I tried to revive you,
Just like the time you planted yourself in the same place for 6 hours
Unable to move
Because you dank an entire 5th of scotch while I was at work
And then blamed me for not getting home soon enough
To prevent the inevitable nerve damage you inflicted on your arms
Holding that big man hulk of a frame up on the bathroom floor
While I worked my ass off for your health insurance
And then came home and nursed you.
What exactly did you take care of, Big Man?

China Doll by Julie Diane Gates

A China doll isn’t Chinese.
She’s made of China.
Her makeup, painted in fine brush strokes
Is permanent, but not tattooed.
Her coif will forever remain set and breeze-resistant
Because she does and does not live in a sheltered encased world.
She’s impervious to that sort of thing, nor does she care.
Beautiful as she is, she’s hollow and dead,
But she’s dangerous because she’s priceless, precious, collectible
And breakable.
Everybody wants her, but she will stand forever rigid
In the back corner of a curio cabinet
Under a bright dimming light
Until her captor dies
And she becomes a $5 item sold at an estate sale
To someone who will put her on the mantle
Next to candles and pig figurines.

Picasso by Julie Diane Gates

I’m in your blue period, Poppy.
Take me back to Cancun where you can see all of me and spoil me.
You didn’t finish what you started
And it was unfair of you to leave me with your blue feet.
We were supposed to adventure together.
I know it’s bland and boring, but I’ve taken care of things.
I will see your bushy gray face again
That I burned and buried
Because that’s what I’ve made you in my mind
And you will have all of me
Forever
In whatever sea we become entangled
And comingle as lovers do.
My dear love, just wait for me.
I’ll be there soon.

Silver by Julie Diane Gates

You can’t find that half ounce of mercury
Shrunken to the base of the priceless miniscule vial
Buried at the center of the iceberg
In the Antarctic.
Hack away with your foolish man-made tools, drills, hatchets, and axes,
If you must,
But you’ll only chip away and flake the surface
Into pathetically shaved shards not worth the still-life sweat you spent
To crack a chip off the old block of
The mammoth translucent blue frozen façade.
It’s in there for a reason—
Not to be disturbed
Shaken
Wrested
Or played with.
TNT? Sure. Go ahead. Bomb it, if you must.
But the mercury will rise, if you do,
The dead silence will roar, screech, crash, and crumble
In crushing brittle breaking mountains, mounds, masses
Of sharp stabbing planes of cracking ice plateaus,
And you will no longer see or be.
Let the ice be to glisten with its secrets
As quietly as it has all along developed
And sustained.

Skiers Enrolled in Public Schools by Linda Imbler

The littles one stand quietly,
gather them,
all the little ones,
herd them up high on the mountain,
sheep and goats,
herd them up to the top,
hurry, hurry because
the race must begin.

Hurry, hurry up the mountain.
They must march with longer strides
than shorter legs can manage.
Breathless they become,
confused, dreading the race,
fear standing in wide eyes,
dripping tears freezing on faces.
Strap them on skis, but bind their arms,
blindfolds put into place,
hurry, hurry the race must begin.

Hand them tickets which they cannot read,
with messages meant for more developed minds.
Face them away from the center
then push them off.
All struggle to stay on skis meant for larger feet.
Most are crushed in the avalanche of expectations,
others hit trees and are stopped cold
and cold they stay, still and cold.
Some refuse to go down at all.
They seat themselves on crossed legs
and speak no more.
Others cross the finish line on shaking legs
and the count should be of concern.
There are too few,
and their victory is hollow.

Blame is laid at the feet of none.
No one claims failure of those strewn across the snowy landscape.
No one cries out against this mockery
nor prays for the fallen.
And those who ran the course
stand with their tickets clutched in their hands,
tickets to nowhere.

Alexander’s Elegy by Laura Johnson

plump blueberries sifted through moist
fingers
as i searched for stems.

all your life i did this
a small discard pile on the side to
present you with a glistening bowl of
fruit.

being yours and your being mine meant
picking through the stems.
i was content.

it could not always be so. you
went and were glad. i managed a
smile to send your ship to sea for it was
christened so long ago and waited
in harbor.

the years you were moored:
lemony sweet,
sticky with the juices of baby
kisses.

the seed-pits we discarded well
you and i.

amid playful antics you tested your
rudder.
i sat behind you dutiful,
sewing sails.

a tarnished clock speeds time as the
instinctual weavers hang
dew laden cloth on the branch beyond
our kitchen glass.

we have always homed together. there
was no question of place: hands touch
just
after the shade of the day. no more.
but, i still know the sound of your breath
in the night
velvet and when the owl screeches
in hunt, i held you and peace returned.

you were mine one season and many
are left to you. you must
pick through your own berries sweet
hot mornings.

i must sew new threads, carve
paths and breathe.
each morning fresh blossoms –
i will remember and be content –
and you are to go far forward.

Masterbaters by Paul Juhasz

Grandma, scowling, referred to it as “that nasty habit of yours,” filling my chalice and my stoup with all the guilt she forgot. Dad would usually just smirk and ask what I was doing in there for so long; Mom would wrinkle her nose and threaten that I would have to start washing my own socks.

But when Mrs. Grinshaw mentioned it during her history lesson, I was more than a little surprised. Not because she used the word, but the implications it suggested. Really? Abraham Lincoln did it? Stephen Douglas too? For once, my daydreams did not involve luscious Suzy Sanders, seated across the aisle, with her short skirt and her hair ribbons. Lincoln and Douglas. Great men. Great men who, apparently, limited their potential for greatness through indulgence in this despicable but seductive act.

Is that why Douglas lost the election? A voting public unable to look past his hairy palms? Did blindness prevent Lincoln from seeing a crouching, stalking Boothe? Would I meet them both in Hell, where Grandma so confidently insisted I was headed because of my own robust prolificacy?

But then Mrs. Grinshaw said it again, and this time I heard her more clearly: “Lincoln and Douglas were both master debaters,” and the world reset itself. Alone once again with my shame and the lingering possibility of eternal torment, I invited Suzy Sanders back into my daydream, memorizing every curve, her creamy thighs, the promise of breasts, those taunting hair ribbons, hoping that when I recalled her tonight in my bed, she would not appear in a stovepipe hat, with a Shenandoah beard.

The Hare Licks His Wounds by Paul Juhasz

What no one understands, baby doll, is that I threw that first match. Do you really think I’d lose to a goddamn turtle? Fuck no, I threw that motherfucker! Why? Gotta generate interest. Build the excitement, baby. I mean, c’mon. Who was paying attention to that first race anyway? Friends and family, mostly. Wasn’t any buzz. No juice, baby. It’s all about the juice. So, like I said, gotta build the interest. Get demand up for a rematch. I’m nothing if not a show-man. This will be like Rocky-Apollo II, but better, ‘cause I’ll be in it. I’m also gonna let you in on a little secret; not too many people know this, but I made a pre-race call to Vegas last time. They had that tortoise a 20-1 underdog. Shit, baby, I know a good thing when I see it. That’s why I’m talking to you. I made myself a cool $20,000. So, you know I can take care of you tonight, baby doll, show you the sights, get you whatever you want. Gonna tell you something else; this time, it’s in the bag. Got me an angle. No, not gonna cheat, take short cuts, anything like that. Even though I suspect that slow-ass motherfucker pulled some shit like that last time. No, nothing like that. This time, I’m calling in a favor. Got me Glenn Close on speed dial. She owes me, for what she did to Uncle Whitey in Fatal Attraction. And I’ve been filling her ears about the sweetness of mock turtle soup for days now, but, you know, without all that “mock” jazz. You gotta, keep it real, baby. That’s what I’m about: keeping it real. Ain’t no “mock” anything in my game. So, what I want to know, now, baby doll, is, you want to see how fast I can be?

saprotrophic nutrition by Alexander M. Koch

the velvet porous brown
underside of Phellinus igniarius
topped by a hard, black surface
with fissures that cross

creating lines of direction
a topography of layered crust
I follow the contours
tracing them with sandpaper fingers
back to the bark of the tree
where the bark splits in vertical segments

creating its own topography

the underside of the fungus
where the brown pores
are minute and closely packed
releases microscopic spores
that gather along the bark
to find an entrance
and begin the process of mycelial growth
that will hasten the tree’s decline
forming a white-rot
within

the fissures within fissures
the forest cycle
of decay

The Dream by Kristina Krumova

I dreamed that your skin was transparent
and through it I was able to see
the air in your lungs
the liquor in the liver

and myself
inside the blood

The old man in the cage by Sean Lause

It is Sunday. The old man in the cage
is wheeled through the town again.
His lips tremble with violations.
There must have been a time when he was young.

He signatures the air with words
they cannot decipher. He is no one.
Though some say he knows when time will end.
His face is a map of sins and visions.

The citizens baptize their cars, their souls
as white as the illusion of innocence.
They toss him mirrors and laughter.
He shows them rage and the seat of his pants.

He is the sum of all their ages,
guilty of a crime he can’t remember.
At sunset they return him to his cave
where he’ll remain till they need him again
to preen their jaded dream of being gods.

The others by Sean Lause

A cat approached me
with a note on her paw
that read “cat.”

This was sound advice,
made more sense than my “philosophy.”
Yet still I craved for more.

So dragonfly came:
“I knit past to present
faster than the mind can compute.”

Spider whispered:
“I weave death from sunlight,
and I am the silence the grass keeps.”

“Let me fold you in my breath of leaves,”
called the oak,
shedding its blood in the darkening winds.

And the icicles:
“We are moonlight melting into Spring,
and we share your tears of longing.”

Too many things forever speaking!
So I hid within the night,
but there the planets ripened into meanings.

I could not shut out life.
Even in the subway
a moth lowered her sunglasses

like Audrey Hepburn and said:

“Why did you invite us here,
if you thought that you alone
was all you need?”

The Forgotten Side by Boniface Mangena

The sound of cheer warms the heart with want
Glory so dreamy and hypnotic like an enchantress portion
In tickles of applause wash my brain with ambition
And delude myself absent thought of the blood spent

A kiss of grandeur is a blindfold on the ignorant
Alongside the great, blow a wish, Genie paint mine reflection
And stain my cloak with honor and adoration
Like Master David towering over the corpse of a fallen giant

Envy really is a lovechild of lack and want
Peace baby: “So easy” and stare through the cost of glory in omission
Envious of the the greatest of glories in oblivion
And forget, the mightiest of Victorians lived a time of war

I Won’t Say The Name by Christopher McCarthy

My friend’s rapist
three-day dry gluestick

I won’t say the name

retracting back into himself
revolting, captor.

The other two that came with him
lost erections

and eventually they let her go.

I remember the pillowed box
They put Joanie in after she died.

Peering in, Eily says
‘No, it doesn’t look like her.’

All of these rooms are what they are.

Virginia’s bedroom, too,
stabbing her knife into the drywall
violence screams
‘fuck the security deposit!’

Jack and I sleep feet to face,
face to feet in her bedroom.

V went off and slept somewhere else.

Once by Christopher McCarthy

Once, as a child, I was playing hide and seek at our house in the city.
Sardine in a hole, hiding ontop of Diana,

and Mark starts singing

‘If you’re happy and you know it, wash your hands!’

I burst. Out. Laughed. Peed myself.

Diana was mad.

Years later you helped me look back on this:

Mark was funny but unethical.

Seekers must seek silently.

Every movie bad guy calling to lure out those hiding
like so much bad prey.

They’ve already broken the rules.

Cute Hoors by Jean McLarney

In the dream I’m partying with Ivan Stefanovich. This would never happen in real life. Ivan has always been nice to me, but he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing: he molested his cousin when he was twelve.

We’re hours there. The hostess is not a woman I know, but to call her ‘someone I don’t know’ is wrong. She’s so attractive. Her body has this gradient pull. Dark hair, red dress… I stay until late.

Ivan and his male friends leave. I’m there with the hostess and another woman who’s lying on the floor. The place is one big room like a lodge. I don’t really know it, but it might be a modified version of the DiscoVA. Consciousness does that sometimes. Combines things to make something new.

The hostess and I flirt chastely. It’s very late now. I get up to leave and, as I do, I sing a song I don’t know. The hostess stops me abruptly. The song offends her somehow.

I don’t understand. She tells me a story about a famous woman who saved slaves, and who burnt all her letters. This is meant to correct me. We’re talking about race. The energy changes; the room suddenly feels cold.

I realize I’ve been making too much noise. People are ‘asleep downstairs’, she says. We smile.

I go out onto the street, and I’m at the top of St. Clair on Yonge in the heart of the city.

Almost Old by Fabrice Poussin

It was another day in the mid forties
she sat by the hearth in crackling odes
bones chilled in a certain darkness.

The cup steamed of a promising savor
gently in a deepening aloneness
patiently she waited for the instant.

A spark came to tease the plaid blanket
only sound when clamors rose nearby
of those who too celebrated the day of birth.

Staring within her soul at the upcoming days
she knew the dreaded memories to be shared
of a nothingness she should have known so well.

So young in her years she practiced old age
thinking of all those abandoned in winter
dying as if never they had laughed in a crowd.

This Alzheimer’s Morning by Steven M. Smith

When she woke, she asked me who I was.
So once again I told her I am her morning—and more.
Then I asked her after breakfast to paint a poem—
just a little poem to be brushed on a canvas
of dawn that can be hung on the walls
of the little time left of mornings.
In the painted poem I asked her to let
us watch the nudge of a sunrise
from a familiar back porch
as a red cardinal swoops out
of an evergreen toward a lawn
emerging from the shade.

How Long & How? by Jeffrey Taylor

I can be compassionate for someone
without wanting them to be president.
I can want them gone
from that position without
pulling the trigger myself.
I can want them gone and
want the path to that end
be right. There will be
unhappiness when he leaves,
violence if done badly, probably
violence however he leaves.
I don’t want to wait for
another elected, that’s too long.
Assassin, violence, heart attack, stress.
Impeach, indict—long unhappiness
and violence, regardless of outcome.
I wait and yet, what will I do?
Vote, get out the vote? This year?
Or wait two more years of
disruption, the loose cannon given
free reign, to trash about after
it’s lost its mooring? How long
til I act? And how?

Easy solutions? Unsatisfactory!
I wait for illumination.

Immigrants by Jeffrey Taylor

The fish and chips on the table
are an idea imported from England.
The English had to wait for potatoes
to emigrate from Peru,
put down roots, acclimatize,
settle in, assimilate.

Tikka masala arrived later, a bank shot
emigre from India, via England.
But it had to wait for chilis
to cross from New World to Old
to East.

The Colombian Exchange upset
every cuisine’s apple cart. Apples
are a Central Asian native.

Did my paternal line, that turned east,
somewhere in the Middle East, where
my maternal line turned west,
later bring apples to Europe?
Or follow them? We’re both
as American as apple pie,
an ambiguous metaphor.

Even our continent came here
from somewhere else.

The gold in my wedding ring
was formed in neutron star collisions,
in another star cluster,
several star lifetimes ago,

We’re all immigrants,
not from around here,
before there was a here.

Ashes to ashes,
stardust to stardust.

Settlers by Jeffrey Taylor

The red oaks are still robed
in their green and red glory
as we approach Christmas.
The hackberry stands quiet
in its winter bareness. I do not
know the tree with tiny leaves
that remain green all winter.
Here on the edge of the Edwards Plateau
it whispers it name—Plateau Live Oak.

Before the settlers arrived,
this plateau was grasslands. Fires
burned trees and encouraged fresh grass.
The Indians burned small sections, attracting
animals and discouraging infernos.
The settlers’ cattle liked
the fire-managed grasslands. They
were born to grassfires. The settlers,
not so much. They eliminated
both grassfires and Indians.

Trees followed the settlers onto the plateau.
Some were natives elsewhere in Texas—migrants.
The ubiquitous Mountain Cedar’s seedlings
are too bitter for cattle—opportunists.
Some trees the settlers brought
from their homeland—importees. A few
hitched a ride—stowaways. Some fled
extermination—refugees.

The native limestone on which all stand
is full of ancient seashells. Here,
seven hundred feet above sea level,
not plants, not animals, not humans,
not even the rocks can boast,
“We’ve always been here.”

At the Canberra Museum’s Roman Exhibition by Valerie Volk

Among the lofty statues –
gods, consuls, empresses –
who loom above the marveling crowds,
glass cases show the treasures
of daily life in ancient Rome.

Here I find my entry
to their bustling city life.
A tiny object, centimeters long,
a block of ivory, its top
a small carved face, with eyes
that gaze serenely into distances
beyond the gaping viewers.
Theatre ticket, says the plaque,
shaped like a herm,
head on a pillar, probably Italian.

Two thousand years ago,
who bought this ticket?
Came filled with expectations,
wondering what delights
the afternoon might bring.

Rowan by Michele Waering

Do not bury witches beneath me
my roots are neither iron nor water

Rather watch for my seedlings
set them in a circle around you

Let my blossoms bring hope to you
unfurling after uncertain winters

Come late summer orange berries
precise blackbirds forage delicate-beaked
starlings slop-scatter
magpies hammer into my arms

Do not curse beneath my branches
deep green or sparse

Never as old as the erne
older than runes and rune-makers
berries brighter than Celts’ hair

Watch with me as seasons change become strange
Do not curse beneath my branches

A Little Coffee by Jack Weitzman

There’s more plastic trash in the ocean now
Than sea anemones and starfish, and the otters are belly up
with intestines jammed with plastic bags.
At Starbucks I snap on the plastic lid
and head to the office with my morning coffee.
I don’t blame anyone. It all started out so well:
Plastic conveniences for all! But then something
Insidious happens—something about
Self-interest and entropy—and
like marriages that start out
so full of bright green hope,
spoil like an avocado that’s
been in the air too long.
When I put that plastic lid on my cup,
I know that I am biting a poison apple,
Bringing my own extinction closer,
Going the way of the death instinct and
Freud who snorted enough coke
to dissolve his own septum.

A car speeds by as I enter the crosswalk and
Comes within an inch of my life,
But I only feel the thrill of a close call
And find joy that my coffee is secure…..
Bravo for plastic lids! I live to see another day
that starts with coffee and a cigarette
and a little death to get me going………

Poem of Pancakes and Junipers by Andrea L. Alterman

A cardinal sat within the junipers.
Brilliant vermilion outlined in slate green,
he sang while I sliced up strawberries to add
to pancake batter. I had promised you pancakes
for breakfast. I keep my promises.

Butter melted on the griddle. I scooped out batter,
carefully I poured it down on the hot surface.
It hissed and the cardinal sang while the exhaust fan hummed.
I watched the bubbles come, develop a tip, then burst.

I slid the spatula beneath each pancake to flip it.
Not a single one was stuck. The cardinal flew for a second,
out, then back to land again amid the junipers.

When I was eight I vaulted over those junipers. My father made
our pancakes then. He never added strawberries or bananas.
Some day I’ll stir in peaches, without the skin
but with the flavor of every summer day we’ve shared.

The Tree of Sorrow by Lavanya Shanbhogue Arvind

I want to take you there, to this house, quiet like the woes
of the strong, thirteen trees my grandfather planted,
three rose shrubs, gul mohrs that lined the compound wall,
curry leaves for grandmother’s kitchen,
a henna plant, for her hair

It was the parijat that brought grief there
the tree of sorrow, its botanist’s name.
orange-red centre, five lobed corolla
this flower, a child of the night.

My mother speaks of difficulties
in domesticating the things that want you dead
they pale away – can you believe? –
off all things, in sunshine,
grieving in flourish, like a man who laments his
surplus money.

The house is still there, untouched, unwell, unhurried.
come with me to see old barks and thorns, unmoving things;
maybe you’ll then understand
why I am afraid of light.

Born-Again Marine by Dennis J Bernstein

On his knees with Christ
during a lull in the fighting—
kills with the same hands
he prays with

Christmas Blessings by Dennis J Bernstein

Father “Joey” gave us
a blow-job for christmas:
It was his unique gift
for all fifteen castraltos
in the boy choir at St. John’s.
We took turns ducking into his
private sanctuary, but not one
of the boys Father blessed
came out smiling—

The Trauma of Spiritual Flesh by Adam Levon Brown

I spoke to my trauma;
It cried for a mother who once
sheltered him, now caught in dementia

I spoke to my trauma;
It reeked of needles jabbed into
my waist by disorderly orderlies
of a behavioral health unit

I spoke to my trauma;
it spoke of being arrested
while manic, helpless, and
then being knocked out
like a home run trophy
by police

I spoke to my trauma;
It spoke of my first relationship,
crushed to pieces by fate

I spoke to my trauma;
It doused itself in marijuana high school,
where welts to the head and arms
among big sluggers and feeling
completely alone in a world I could not escape

I spoke to my trauma;
It wept tears of grief for the anger

I turned on myself daily, the broken
stare into a mirror which never saw
my smile

I spoke to my trauma;
It spoke of cigarette burns
and razor blades covering
my bed at night, while sleeping
on a pillow of frustration

I spoke to my trauma;
It dug its grave into my chest
and refuses to come back to life,
no matter how many times I summon
it with hands of peace
I spoke to my trauma;
It revealed a boy, trapped
within a void, screaming
for sanity among the insane
and broken

I spoke to my trauma;
It was a home filled with love
and sacrifice, broken by separation
and alienation.

I spoke to my trauma;
It was piles of garbage I refused
to clean, as I buried myself
with anger

I spoke to my trauma;
It was the smile of my father,
broken by delusion and schizophrenia

replaced with paranoia, as our conversations
turned one sided, talking to himself more
than anyone else

I spoke my trauma;
it was a mother who flipped switches
from love to cold blank stares within seconds,
from being so overused by everyone,
decided to take my ADHD medication
to stay afloat

I spoke to my trauma;
It spoke of a strong family
carrying garbage bags to haul
clothes in by foot while being called
Bums

I spoke to my trauma;
It consisted of fast food every day
which I loved

I spoke to my trauma;
it mutated into paranoia,
yelling matches for months
and two near strangulations

*

I spoke to my trauma;
It also spoke of hope, that one day
I could find joy in simple things

I went where the hope lived;
I found appreciation in music and poetry,
but mostly video games to block
out the negativity

I went where the hope lived;
and I found that reading
was a sanctuary unto itself

I went where the hope lived;
I found nature and friendships
hidden behind the stained veneer
of trauma

I went where the hope lived;
I saw a therapist for the first
time at age 16 who was willing
to talk

I went where the hope lived;
music swung from the nucleus
of my being and held me together

I went where the hope lived;
and stopped hanging out
with people who used

An outcast with abusive, “friends”
I decided simply to be alone

I went where the hope lived;
I left the alleyways of Springfield
and stayed at home, dropping out
of high school

I went where the hope lived;
I found community at the local
community college and met people
who had never even heard
the term shooting bows and arrows

I went where the hope lived;
and found treatment
for my mental illness
which I inherited

I spoke to my trauma;
I went where the hope lived;

and now all I can say is:
Your best day is still yet to come
give yourself a chance to live it

For as Long as I Live by Lew Caccia

Let me sow love, I state before apathy,
the indifferent touch I grasped, blanching
forth the bone of its chill, profligate and scant
bespeaking warmth, the bravura of style—

let me not give up this day without redemption.
Here, I persevere
as refugee, perchance, in someone else’s field?
It’s dark, for sure, the way is uncertain.
Life has made a striking contradiction,
who are these familiar strangers?

There, it is not in standing,
never abiding.
I do not give up on love, Apathy, even now
no stairs nor ascent, proceeding only by ground,
the dust a salve for deathly shadows,
the dust vital to the soul, invariably pure.

Why We Wait for Rain by Luanne Castle

We wait for hours watching the dark unfurling
toward us, unsure
if it will land here at all
whether it carries thunderstorm or haboob
It smells like rain
bittersweet cocktail of sandstone & blossoms
still damp and quickening in the air
over ten thousand years
It’s why we wait for rain
tornadoes of dust don’t set off the scent
a drizzle dampening its branches
awakens the languishing senses
We wait to run through wet branches and shake
drops from our shoulders, caught
in the sharp unmistakable fragrance
wanting it to pool inside us in reservoir

Snowing in Spring by yuan changming

In the wild open west, flakes keep falling
Like myriad baby angels knocked down from Paradise

Blurring the landscape behind the vision
Hunting each consonant trying to rise above

The ground. The day is brighter, lighter &
Softer than the feel. Soon there will be

Dirty prints leading to everywhere (or nowhere)
& no one will care how the whole world will collapse
In blasphemy. The missing cat won’t come to
Trespass the lawn, nor will the daffodil bloom

To catch a flake drifting astray. Nobody bothers even to think
About where the season is held up on its way back, how
The fishes are agitating under the pressure of wintry
Water, why people wish to see more and more snow

Sonnet in Infinitives by yuan changming

To be a matter when there’s no question
Or not to be a question when nothing really matters

To sing with a frog squatting straight
On a lotus leaf in the Honghu Lake near Jingzhou

To recollect all the pasts, and mix them
Together like a glass of cocktail

To build a nest of meaning
Between two broken branches on Ygdrasil

To strive for deity
Longevity and
Even happiness

To come on and off line every other while

To compress consciousness into a file, and upload it
Onto a nomochip

To be daying, to die

Dancing by Ray Greenblatt

After a long time
we danced together last night
not agile as we once were
the main aim was touch,
we tried a waltz
and chandeliers glimmered,
the box step suited us fine
the stars whirled by;
as we went to bed
the flag on the Point
was dancing a faster beat,
in the middle of night
I woke to see a silhouette
of branches on the wall
dancing at a slower pace
to say our world was still in sync.

Matrix by John Grey

Spider crawls across the ceiling
lit golden by fading sun,
alchemy on eight legs.
traversing its upside-down world.

It ignores my eyes’ silent threat,
an abdomen, a cephalothorax,
in league with its own survival.

For high in the rafters, dangle threads
fine enough to make silk jealous,
to grab, entangle, passing prey.

The spider slips into its matrix core,
sends shudders through
all levels of a slick-spun orb.

From any angle,
the web is barely there
but fiercely in place.
How close to invisible
comes visible life.

Birth by Gerry Grubbs

What I remember
Is the long night

The sound
Of horses running
On a distant hill

The flood
And the sudden
Return of the dove

Near The Edge by Gerry Grubbs

that this is carried inside
a thing contained
Carries the uncontainable
But slipping this way
Into words
Can close
The carrier
To the thing contained
Can cause
The thought
That they are two
Things not one
A thought that separates
The world
In its despair
From the infinite

Media Butterfly by A. J. Howells

Look,
you’ve got something to say,
just like the rest of us.
There’s got to be someone out there
who will hear your call to arms
and take note
and change his mind.
Then you’ll be the victor
of the spoils.

So draft up your manifesto
and use LOTS OF CAPS
and plenty of exclamations!!!!
Don’t forget to call for shaming:
the dog whistle to the mob
you can hide behind.

For liberals: remain politically correct
and slash the gender from your language.
Take the higher ground.

For conservatives: eschew decent and taste
because those libtard socialist commie cucksuckers
have it coming.

Scream at the HIGHEST POSSIBLE DECIBEL
to hear the most echoes
and wait for the juiciest fruit
of the rotten apple pie tree
to appear in your comments thread
and unload your verbal clip upon these #h8trs.

Cut your hand off
and pat your own back with it.
Make sure there’s blood on your lapel
so you can bring up your sacrifice
at the Thanksgiving table.

Then do your job,
pay your taxes,
and die
with an irremovable smile on your face
and no balls in your side pocket.

Boston Common by Michael Keshigian

In order to think,
to contemplate and appreciate
dilemmas brought on by modern life,
he often took to strolling
through the public gardens
amid the verdant calmness of time honored trees
and sprawling greenways
that survived the patriotic acts of revolution,
just far enough away
from the street crowd and traffic noise,
building at the intersection
of Bolyston and Tremont.
Distractions down the winding,
narrow tar paths were minimal,
this day he easily found a place of seclusion.
So he reflected upon his quickly dissipating,
limited allotment of time,
his acquiescence to a battle
once valiantly fought,
his lack of owning responsibility,
the feigning privilege and apathy
gathering years seem to imply
and the folly of those who still engage.
A female runner in Celtics emerald attire
skirted by, lithe, youthful, amazingly trim,
stealing his daydream.
Boston is wonderful, he muttered,
the air so full of rebellion.
He wandered off again
into a comic reverie of infinite longevity
and the tender excitement of discovery.
I must find my running shoes, he mused.

Fish Cove by Michael Keshigian

Beneath the dock
from which he casts,
the water is shallow and clear,
the sodden earth
that bears the weight of liquid
is speckled with shoots
that will eventually surface
into a stage upon which
the basso bull frog
will perform his aria.
Occasionally, a cloud of dirt
smokes the clarity
of the transparent lake
and his searching
reveals the tail fin
of a scampering bass
near the shore to spawn.
He sits and watches
amid the Spring warmth
and delicate breezes
which incite the lake
to gently slap the dock.
He no longer dangles the bait
to tease the unsuspecting,
no longer allows temptation to linger,
that same lure
which spurred him to seek
refuge and the simple poem
this silent swimmer
strokes with her fin.
To read her verse
within the enclosure of this cove
is the remedy by which
he turns from the commotion
in his own life,
a commotion he has no desire
to impart.

Home Again by Michael Keshigian

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,
remembrances,
trickling indiscernibly
through the pitted window
of my mind’s eye
as I rap my fist
against the glass,
hoping the ghosts will answer.

Wildflowers by Michael Keshigian

What is love
but the dried up bulbs
the gardener insists on planting
to everyone’s objections
that irrationally burst
into magnificent dahlias.
The lunacy of uncertainty,
a fascination of delight,
most often unpredictable.
Wild grow
the flowers of the heart
in the garden of our lives,
wilder still
blooms affection.

Days of Bees and Indigo by John Krumberger

In those days of bees and indigo,
those days of blue delphinium,
I passed the peonies without a glance
to bend to the scent
of a row of roses.

Lili was a sparrow then,
an apprentice mimicking
the way I matched the peacock
we had watched,
backside thrust in air, strutting;

and equally my sniffing
just so
and equally her body bent
parallel to the ground;
those days of summer,

that have passed
like windows closing.
And so write them
in the book, the names, the mysteries,
we owe them at least that.

Sugar Sand by Greg Lobas

I’m getting a vacation in my mouth!
you quipped on the morning of your oral surgery.

A trip to Aruba in a single tooth.
Driving to your appointment, we passed

mountains gathered like blue muslin fabric
in the distance, and mountains

beyond mountains, where the blue of sky
melts into the blue of earth

the way peanut butter and chocolate
melt in your mouth, which is where

the vacation to Aruba is going, tooth number 30,
a molar in the lower right of your jaw.

In the waiting room I thumbed
through vacation magazines,

filled with the tanned and perfected
people who look great in bathing suits

at any age and gaze into one another’s eyes,
whose iridescent smiles have never shown

a cracked tooth. Instead they dwell
forever in that liquid horizon, and sip

fruity cocktails the color of the Caribbean sunset.
When you came out of surgery, a little wobbly,

you pointed to your gauzy, lop-sided grin.
See? I have a vacation in my mouth.

Then, steadying you, arm-in-arm,
we walked out to the parking lot,

put on our sunglasses, and strolled
barefoot on a beach full of sugar sand.

The Down Side by Greg Lobas

The skin of my father is like a crumpled newspaper.
I told him today that I loved him,
that I was sorry if I ever made him feel
unloved.
Such things you might say to a ninety-four-year-old man,
especially if you have never said them before.
This, which he has never said to me,
This is assumed, he said.
This is assumed.
My brother, the doctor, says the old man suffers
from tactopenia, which can happen
when you are untouched.
Or untouchable.
I know how that feels. It feels
like the skin of my father.
Like a crumpled newspaper.

I gave my dog a deep massage today.
They say it’s good for the dog, good for the owner.
I probed the depth of his muscles and sinews,
and his eyes probed mine, finding himself in my attention.
He assumed, as he rolled onto his back,
exposed,
he assumed I would not tear out his entrails with my teeth.
In the offering of his throat and belly,
he seemed to ask if he could be a person like me.
Sure you can, I said,
with the laying on of hands,
which caused him to wag his tail.
But I didn’t tell him it would come with a down side.
He’ll find that out soon enough on his own.
For today it’s enough that I gave
my dog a deep massage.

Hand And Hand by Nancy K. Hauptle MacInnis

Listening to what moves, within this wall of skin
while still aware of the goings on, outside
in the beyond.

Thoughts bend to what nurtures
in the balance that stands,
poised.

Simple yet astounding thought inspires.
A need brought to a response,
a meeting, a conversation.

Form of faith, trust in action, that thrusts
the arm to put out the light, in the latest
end of night.

Knowing what that is, and who, it’s all about
deep, though not unreaching
in the well of sleep.

Possession watches procession
giving and receiving, the back and forth
of mutual retrieving.

Like water to seed, sunlight to read
the lending hand comes forth,
to be of need.

The International(e) by Jeremy Nathan Marks

‘change will not come from above’ -Billy Bragg

Fishers in lamb’s wool caps
angle for dirigibles beneath winter ice.
The lake is a pastel roe, a killdeer’s pupil
caught by muscles with zebra stripes.

Erie is an oblong spoon of kale beds,
watercress woods, notches in the trunks
of municipal rubber trees.

In its sediment base geologists
trace a pidgin Dutch,
Haudenosaunee knots,
and what archaeologists call Quipu.

A Pelee boat casts anchor near one tributary’s
lip; its skipper pegging position at a midstream stone,
a lichen struck by Joseph Smith.

The great peace is a long submerged wall,
a wonderland where migrants run aground.
Locals say “escarpment,” locks, a grand soo,
build their gaggles with Pabst and laugh.

Fireworks in coffee,
a cup of joe, a single perch on Friday.
Sicilians from Verona, the local tour guide insists
(he is a Protestant).

Erie is the way.
Anglers listen to the International on wood panelled
shortwaves. Wait for their whitefish.

In Her Garden by Cecil Morris

Having already opened the earth,
having turned dark spadefuls of dirt out,
he kneels, his knees on the soft soil,
the bag of bulbs she bought beside him:
hyacinths—hard pale lumps no bigger
than his thumb tip—possibility
asleep inside each one, all the green
and purple tucked away for winter.
He turns one small bulb in his fingers,
feeling how it tapers to a tip,
feeling the little nipple of roots.
One by one, he places them—roots down,
tips up—and spreads dirt over them,
covering them gently until they
disappear. Then he pats the ground smooth,
the bulbs invisible to eye and hand.

He thinks about her smooth pale skin,
about how soft and warm she was
wherever he touched, about feeling
her breath and pulse in his fingertips,
about her breasts he kissed and stroked.
He thinks about lumps invisible
in her, planted deeper than his touch,
their possibility locked in her
all her life, waiting, keeping secret
the color of their flowers, the wild way
they would sprout and spread.

The Radiologists by Cecil Morris

The nicest thing anyone said to me this week.

I am face down and ass up
on the radiation table,
my butt uncovered, exposed,
ready to be irradiated
while I stare down to darkness.

The radiologists pull
and push, give commands—move up some,
move back a tiny bit—trying
to align the target marks
tattooed on me with something

on the table or maybe
a laser grid projected
on my rump roast. I don’t know,
face pressed in doughnut pillow.
The radiologists, two

youngish women, maybe twenty-five
or thirty, one pretty pregnant,
stand on either side of me
and push me left and right.
“That looks good,” one says. “Yes, that

looks very good,” says the other.
And I am thinking that they
are talking about my moons
as the machine I can’t see
begins to hum and click.

Love Poem to My Ex by Linda Neal

It’s late fishing season
and the Day of the Dead

when everything out there
waits for me

in the forbidden territory
of skin and memory,

a bent line
of a Sam Shepard play

rocking me in the dark,

and the telephone pole
outside the window
turns into

a skeleton.

I’m trying to beat my way
past storm clouds that build
in the west

and ghosts.

I need to remember
what I can’t remember

what you said

between skillets of trout
and dust-motes floating
in the cabin

where we made
our second son.

It could be
a song
that wades the river now

a song hanging in the wind,
its lyrics sung by the pines

in the dark
its laughter and fishes

fried up on the old stove,
where you loom
at the edge of evening.

Exposure by Nathanael O’Reilly

A naked man
rides his bike
across the Congress
Avenue bridge

past the sunset
crowds waiting
for flights of bats

reveals his true
self between
daylight and darkness

Honks by Nathanael O’Reilly

A hand-painted sign planted on the lawn
between the real estate agent’s office
and the main road through town
across the railroad tracks proclaims
HONKS 4 JESUS + TEACHERS

If I honk, how will anyone know
whether my honk is for Jesus
or teachers or both? And what if
I only want to honk for teachers?
Why does Jesus need a honk anyway?

Does he really need all the praise?

Reading Performance by Nathanael O’Reilly

Car-waiting in the Dollar
General parking lot
I read either, Orpheus
observe rolls of toilet paper
pool toys, cleaning products
outside on clearance

A Hispanic girl exits
the building, grabs a hula
hoop from the toy bin
practices her moves
while gazing upon her
reflection in the store window

Pulsing Tide by Scott Thomas Outlar

Three birds triangulate the sky
as the sun
shines
a perfect
circle
through the
center

I am made whole
in this moment
and the next

by the warmth
of your breath
on my neck

One sigh annihilates all stress
as the moon
blinks
its tired
eyes
for the
night

I am adrift
on a raft
out at sea

and your lips
form the waves
underneath

Seven tress bow their branches overhead
as their leaves
fall
calling toward
autumn
for another
cycle

I am buried
beneath the blankets
of your calm

within a shelter
that gently whispers
where I belong

Something To Find In by Kimberly Prijatel

something to find in
the yard and paint chips from
the neighbors drift
down long dry, lead dead
skin. the dog tries to eat them

now, though surely i
cannot keep up? the day is chipping away

at me
i am not the kind to laugh
and laugh.
no i am not kind, i would share

my neighbor’s, “ha, how’s it” across
the alley calling last week a doozy, were
i not counting chips through my head

philosophizing about everything: money
in us, the tree
falling in the metro park, hollow
conduit making a sound i

miss you when you’re here, the
time drains down like the bird seed
your bedroom laughter echoes. we are

alone again tonight and
humming to one
another while the dog’s asleep

glued, to our thoughts
of endless trajectories and phones,
you go to the kitchen to eat standing up
but isn’t it funny isn’t it funny that we miss

our old selves, outside the kitchen, outside
inside?

A Million Small Things by Charles Rammelkamp

“I think the world will be saved
by millions of small things,”
my T-shirt proclaims
over an image of Pete Seeger,
owl-wise with squinty eyes,
grizzled beard and a wide-brimmed hat.

What does that even mean?
I wish there were some gloss
on the back of the shirt,
some elucidation of the insight.

But look, here comes Paloma,
my twenty-seven-month-old granddaughter.
She wants to sit on my lap.
She wants me to read to her
about the five little monkeys
jumping on the bed.

“One fell off,” I prompt.
“Bump his head!” she cries,
proud of herself, seeing my delight.

Me Too Too by Charles Rammelkamp

I remember my first off-campus apartment,
buying my own groceries, preparing my own meals.
I shopped at a Kroger’s conveniently across the street,
the next closest supermarket an IGA across town,
and of course I didn’t own a car.

One night, having smoked a joint,
I went into Kroger’s to buy some food.
Pushing my shopping cart down the aisles,
lost in my daydreams,
I suddenly felt a hand squeeze my ass.
Startled, I looked into the meaty face
of a guy I guessed a few years older,
wearing a store apron and a shit-eating grin.

“Can I help you find anything?” he smirked.

Shaken, I stammered no
as he trundled off like a raccoon,
paid for my groceries.

A few days later I went back,
this time with my wits about me.
The fat guy in the apron
started following me around the store again,
pretending to be attending to business.
This time he waylaid me by the canned goods,
grabbing a fistful of my ass.

Humiliated, I left the store, telling myself
I’d have to shop at IGA from now on.
But back home, firing up a pipe
in an attempt to put it all behind me,
I just couldn’t shake the humiliation,
exploded out the door and across the street.

The fat store clerk stood with some co-workers
by the manager’s kiosk, when I went in.

“Don’t ever do that shit again!”
I stabbed at his fat face.

He spluttered, off-guard,
but I didn’t wait for an explanation,
just turned on my heel,
shouted again over my shoulder,
“Don’t ever do that shit to me again!”

Poem for Anne, Who Made a Sacrifice by Martin A. Ramos

Jesus, the God-man, the Savior,
Hanging there. His legs are
Twisted trees, His feet are locks

Whose keys have been
Irrepably lost. Though meek,
how His arms must ache

To hold me. The torso white, gleaming,
Scourged like the scars on Pilate’s
Silvery moon. At this stage, suffering

Has no meaning except for
The splayed Y of his sacrifice.
Indeed at this stage, thirst

Must desperately hurt. If I
Should burn these lines of verse
As I would paper, and watch my words

Rise as doves to Him on the Cross,

Wouldn’t that be love of a kind?
Wouldn’t that be a sacrifice,
Worth something?

Collage by Keely Record

Jet-black-bottled, short hair
not the brown I’d seen in youthful pictures.
Bulbous nose.
Between her nearly hairless eyebrow
and eyelid with a fold like a roman shade,
a hanging mole.
I feared its snagged removal
from her cupped fingers
as she dug in her sunken sockets
letting her dark framed glasses
ride on her index fingers.
Her mangled-straight pinky finger
escaped amputation, ready
for hot tea. Islands
of lost pigment on her arm and leg
Float in a sea of brown.
Unshod squared feet
tamped down snow.
Always a white blouse
usually a kick pleat straight skirt.
But her mouth, was there lipstick?
Her small ears, were there earrings?

At the End of Things by John Timothy Robinson

Mrs. Butterworth is standing on her head.
Not about being last,
a sigh could be at either one.
No one expects
the ninth batter to get a hit.
When a body heals,
what do you think happens?
A mind is already on the way.
Turning this last page;
anything is possible.
A sputtering coast up to gas pumps.
Colors and fluttered falling in sweeping wind.
One leads into another
though cannot see where one ends
and another begins.
Sometimes explosions.
Sometimes in sleep.
Matter breaks down to smaller particles.
The light comes on or goes off.
Synapses no longer fire.
Everybody goes home
and dreams of beginning
at the end of things.

The Rest of Your Life by Stephanie Smith

A late winter snow
and summer dreams
seem fleeting

You fell asleep
between cold cotton sheets

You left home
humming Pachelbel

It could have been
a Saturday afternoon
way back in childhood

or a Sunday morning
with the newspaper spread out
on the living room floor

reading obituaries

wondering what to do
with the rest of your life

Hospice by Joris Soeding

you in bed and I pray for another song
a hand raised
fur or something pricey adorning your neck
at church we celebrate the Magnificat
sing of Maria, “gentle woman”
your strength is different
outright, reckoning, spiritual, yes
yet glass doors will swing quickly

woods used to separate our homes
Sunday afternoon walks with Mami and Papa
dogs in large cages would spot us
I always wondered if you were sitting at the piano
idly writing songs
or peering into those trees, cigarette in hand
Rolls Royce sparkling in the semi-circle

years went and Mami and Papa were awakened
helicopters at dawn
your beautiful home in flames
we were neighbors
yet tonight you drift
although no cul-de-sac
this place needs your glimmer, honesty, love
I ask for more notes and days

Tea Time by K. R. Swathi

I was alone in the 6*6 apartment
The sunlight bouncing across the room made it look like an Eastman color movie
Reeking of solitude and gloom.

Work piled up as I struggled
To find an inspiration.
The article’s deadline is tomorrow…
Adding to the pre-existing pressure.

The birds shrieked.
The cars honked.
The cows bellowed and dogs barked.
Ahhh!!! I need a break
From this yellow afternoon.

I went into the kitchen
Took a pot
With water and a spoonful of sugar.
A generous amount of tea leaves
And a dash of ginger.

The fragrance of the tea
Filled the room with
Feels of calm and freshness.
As the sky suddenly made way
To clouds from the heavens.

The ceramic teacup clanked
As I poured the tea.
A sip filled my heart with glee.
The yellow sky had now become gray,
And to soft showers, it made way.
As I sipped tea, the time slowed.
I could smell the sweet rain,
The petrichor occupied my room.
The sounds of the surroundings
were toned down
As the breeze caressed my hair.

And then, it suddenly ended.
Screaming and shouting resumed.
Yet I was ready to write as the
Tea rejuvenated me
And my focus again zoomed.

Just a cup of tea
To stop the time.
Time… That doesn’t seem to stop.

Rose Hill Cemetery, Macon, GA by John Valentine

for Nathan Angel

Traces only, not even memories. This
silent moon the shimmering

witness. Confederate rows, six hundred
asked too soon to be

men. Markings all but gone on the
small reminders, rubbed

by the years. Faded précis. Kentucky
regiment on yours, nothing more.

In life, you were half-way to heaven, they
said. Favored. The only blessing though

the endless night. No ghosts now.
No whispers in the

wind. Palimpsests, a few scratchings
on stone. The lines of boys

sent off to war.

At Home by Diane Webster

Old woman sits
on rocking chair
like a queen on her throne
gathering robes around her
in royal pose with a shaft of sunlight
entering window in godly favor.

White hair as silver-lined clouds
drifts around her face
while she rocks back and forth
light to dark, light to dark.

Silent in her reverie
her mind swarms memories
like ants to a piece of candy.

Beyond Crowds by Diane Webster

Gray-whiskered man
lies on the ground;
his arm pillows his head
like mother’s hand
when she held his babyhood.

Eyes closed
in sleep memory;
a smile softens his face
as he listens to his radio –
music of static blankets
his soul beyond crowds.

Of Himself by Diane Webster

Old man stands ankle-deep
in pasture grass dry in August.
He contemplates the ground
as if looking for something lost –
Pocket knife? Metal car? Toy gun?

Like an escaped prisoner
a cricket scurries through
brittle stems uncaring
of silence just fleeing.
Old man digs lint
from his pockets, allows
it to drift like dandelion
fluff – a blue bit of himself.

At 50 by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

my gums are receding,
but on the good side –
I’ve finally gotten a superpower,

invisibility.
Well, at least to young attractive women,
I’m invisible.

They stare past me as if I were transparent
and sometimes they even walk
right through me. Really.

I ought to remind them of physics,
but that’d be yet another boring suggestion
that would elicit nothing but a yawn.

And to top it off, the soles of my feet are dry
as the proverbial Mojave.
On a good night I remember to dab

a puddle of lotion
specially made for scaly skin.
All my old flames would confirm my inner snakiness.

What was inside has been made manifest.
And while not too soon,
I hope to slither into that dappled hole

destiny insists awaits all cold-blooded creatures,
tonight I live like I’ve world enough & time.
Catching a film noir flick with my one true love,

basking in front of those blue flames
of that sacred object,
formerly known as the idiot box.

Is there something wrong with me
that off the top of my head,
I can think of dozens of worse places
but not one better?

Just a Slice (June 1976) by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

5 hours in a sun so blistered
trying to hitch a ride out of Alamogordo –
pasty-faced seniors in Winnebagos for some odd reason
not trusting my long-haired bearded self –

I gave up. Called my old man
to wire me bus fare.
In Amarillo I had an hour layover,
walked the main drag at 10,

one crazy Saturday night.
All these teen angels, cruising, revving their engines,
honking their horns. Wide-eyed girls, their heads
hanging out the windows, shopping for boys.

While the boys leaned against their cars in tight Wranglers,
coolly eyeing only las chicas lindas.
Red cherries shining in their palmed hands,
surreptitious Lone Stars expertly held
under fender wells by index fingers.

Hormone levels and sexual tensions
hit all-time highs!
Just a tiny slice of Americana.
Do you really think John Adams could have conceived it thus?

Right to Sight by John Zedolik

Even the long-incarcerated need
adequate vision care, so don’t

bat an eye when a stern sort
in uniform escorts an elderly

gentleman in orange to his shoes,
wrists and ankles shackled,

chains tinkling across the carpet
and its office quiet to a room

unseen to the sitters who wait
in phones, magazines, and leisure

only their appointments enforce
but must wonder if the old con

has shuffled off to some designated
coil where he cannot strike the free,

yet break out into the wide-angled
world with sight now corrected

and clearly focused on the goals most pursue

Slow Softening by John Zedolik

I’m standing in a pumpkin patch
on Friday morning, watching some rot

even though I can’t perceive the progress
to the blackening, to the bottomless depression,

and the crawling scavengers enjoying
the pulp while I ponder the significance

of being here at 10:30 a.m. in October
without work, esteem, or income,

still like these gourds ready for Halloween
harvest, possibly staving off deterioration

A Rainbow of Oil by Carol A Alexander

A serviceable pool of light drips into dream
while my father haggles to highway back
before the sundown’s scrim. Which really
is dark’s absence, strip malls and invitation,
the slightly rancid smell of frying clams.
I cannot grasp the magnet of his East–
the lure of foul Elizabeth, how cities
always stink with raw desire. But I feel
our metallic body, how the car dreams of flight.
That somewhere on my father’s sweat-stained map
lies childhood. That he hungers to move on
before blue midnight orphans him.

a small memory by jonathan bracker

Quaffing a medium mug of a Belgian ale
Brewed, the brasserie sign says, since 1240,
What a surprise to have Hutch Hutchinson’s name
Surface in my only slightly befuddled brain!

Hutch whom I have not thought of for a lifetime.
But then, I did not know him well;
Boys together, we were not chums.

Only, once his young parents invited me to dinner.
Goose was served, with which I could not cope,
It being too barnyard a fowl;
I would not try even a forkful.

After that, outside of school we did nothing together.
He was smaller and seemed gentle.
Ah, I remember now – his ears stood out!

I never knew whether his first name
Was nickname or real,
But it said “rabbit house” to me;
I thought him a bunny.

Now that I see him, I see nothing more,
Or almost nothing – just his mother’s shoe
Pressing a buzzer under the table to summon the maid.

Just Down Wilkinson Street by jonathan bracker

Just Down Wilkinson Street, He Lived

I was still yet a boy,
And weasel-faced Warren Metcalf was
Also. But he was the leader
Of a gang, of which I was not a part

Though I yearned to be.
One day – just that one – he relented,
Letting me range with them
Through our neighborhood;

In the meadow we found smaller Keith
Whom they tied to the trunk of a tree.
Keith bawled “Let me loose!”
But gloried in the attention.

A friend of Warren’s arrived to warn: “Mrs. Bracker
Is on her way!” We hid in the basement of a house.
Through slats I saw her furious legs nearing.
That to me felt like an avenging goddess.

Routing us out, Mother insisted
All come back with her to where we lived
So she could read to us the riot act.
They sat like toads, unchastened. Then Warren and his gang

Departed after he deliberately sat on our cardboard
Globe of the world, denting it with the weight
Of his little butt to show what he thought of her.
I had to stay inside for the rest of the sunny day.

Deeper Lives by Carolyn Cordon

The sky, the horizon, my love for both
Love for people – family, friends
Honesty eternal, it never ends

Truthful engagement, heart and soul –
Follow the sky up to the stars
Or horizon’s line that mankind mars

Pathways followed, dead ends, or none
The journey, life’s lessons, go where you will
Learning continues if you’re breathing still …

Why are we here, do you know? I don’t
‘Cept failure to learn for what life will give
Makes a lie of a life, you have to LIVE!

Life spent unlived is life spent as a dolt
So many chances, people to love
And opportunities from Nature above

As every pear tree bears better if tended
So a life lived will bear fruit too
I love the ‘pears’ life gives, don’t you too?

Fossick around, dig deep as you go
Ask questions and listen, open your head
Live or life, or you’d be better off dead

Time spent on playthings, on nothings,
Fripperies, on mere lightweight fluff
These will show you’re not thinking enough

Thoughts, ideas, questions and answers
These can get most you the most from your life
Deeper lives come from troubles and strife …

Nightcap by Helen Freeman

Late at night my husband and I
go into the kitchen. We prattle
about this and that: who’s eaten
the most apple pie? What to cook
for the next dinner party – the regular?
Lasagne? And which cat is that
intoning a nocturne outside our door?

We scrutinise the glued pan handle,
contemplate when the milk will boil
and laugh when it spills over as usual.
Angus scoops the malted grains
and I stir in the frothy liquid – or I scoop
and he stirs. We meet to share chunks
of dark chocolate orange and part

to lick fingers and scrape out
the dollops left over at the bottom
of our mugs. While we dry dishes,
hang tea-towels and water thyme,
our chit-chat slows. The stars stretch,
his brow relaxes, my mind slackens
and we drift off like wind-borne leaves.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Clavicles by Helen Freeman

I With ruler
and protractor
I appraise the clavicle.

II Among 206 human bones
the only long one lying down
is the clavicle.

III A shoulder blade, a clavicle
and a sternum are almost one,
all three girdle magic appeal in place.

IV Little key, open
sesame, clavicula
rotating access.

V A stiletto heel
finely fashioned
of bone and marrow –
not a place to lay your head.

VI Hens strut through
shallow puddles
on splayed feet,
roosters vaunt.

VII Laughing gull
on clavicle crane jib
brings drama to the face.

VIII O raised arch, O pedestal,
O furcula of wish and whim,
why do you break
more than any others?
Do you really bring luck?

IX Waists fatten, flesh droops,
all is subject to Time’s jiggle
but the clavicle shows little.

X You can’t be spanked, bitten or pinched,
kneaded, sucked or held onto.
You incur no nip-tuck bills.

XI Inner essence –
approachable but
never fully known.

XII If I could be that mole on your clavicle,
I’d sing bold airs to your heart.

XIII Throw your head back
straighten your shoulders
raise a glass of Veuve Cliquot
in the chalice at the base of your neck

The World Without by Bill Glose

Next door, neighbors shuffle
junk in their yard, scrap metal
and rusted-out appliances
to resell on weekends.

Across the street, two girls
play hopscotch in a driveway,
screechy giggles trilling
through windows of our house,

where a ticking clock
stabs silence
like a needle
without thread.

Staring at the muted TV
as if scrolling text
might actually reveal
an answer, I sit beside Dawn,

her face blank as winter sky,
my hand on her thigh
like a pebble atop
a cemetery marker.

Look Down by Ryn Holmes

here, I’m in Hell,
my scars plain to see,
there’s no drama – stolen –
no one knows me now.

That time
I was living insanely,
I used up my words,
made an ass out of myself.

I am danger,
everything to lose,
down so low my brain stops –
I’m not myself.

Wearing basement clothes,
I never belong,
am not any kind of songbird,
can never sing.

Look down here, I’m in Hell,
my scars plain to see,
there’s no drama – stolen –
no one knows me now.