Noah’s Cottage by Marie-Andree Auclair

I soft-paddle the canoe
on the new lake
where the lawn used to grow.
I see the river flow
grey and patient
then the cottage
moving away
our cottage
with our family memories
attached to its walls, tucked on shelves
nestled in the sofa we dreamt on
after we played the underwater garden.

I sit quietly in the canoe
watch the cottage
square barge
absorbed by the river.

The clouds come in
I paddle to the edge
of the rural road
moor the canoe to a road sign.

Resilience by Marie-Andree Auclair

My grandfather’s fierce hands
he wiggles fingers
tendons and veins glide
across the back of his hands
return to their place.
I press a vein by his wrist
trace path to knuckle
empty blue vein of blood
which finds its way back
after I lift my finger.

My grandfather’s thumb pads
I press my small one on his
watch my imprint turn white
flat depression
plumps up pink again
slowly back to itself.

My own thumb pads
instantly forget
leap back to self.

I wince when bitten by a fear
that I too will lose speed
and I want a scar
to keep me alert.

Steadfast by Marie-Andree Auclair

She tells of bones
that walk us,
unseen, obvious,
skull under scalp
shin bone, fibula, femur
so many bones
articulate us.

She stares in mirror
— candle glow —
spies her face
of twin caverns
quiet ponds
eye pebbles afloat,
tenderly examines
cheek bones
outline of skull
smooth sphere
except for angular jaw
two rows of tidy teeth
glint at her.

She breathes in
bones’ solid peace
that will outlast her
and tell.

American Dream by Mela Blust

i can’t hold you
with this
american dream
the knuckles are scraped
the thighs are bruised and
i’m afraid of everything
that moves
i can’t look into a mirror anymore
without repeating
what it already knows
it doesn’t want me/
i am not home in this skin
if I break it
will there be seven years of bad luck?
add it to my tab
i can’t hold you up
in this
american dream
the weight of you
will be the death
of me

Flammable by Mela Blust

everything was hot to the touch but i didn’t know that i was flammable. no one had ever told me.I barely remember a grown man throwing a match into the tinder of my thighs when i was just a girl. so i went through life burning. i took big drags, i liked the slow burn. i let it drag out, let the tension twirl in the air between myself and everyone else. tension thrumming, burning a pleasurable hole in me, digging a grave in him. and him. and him. the way you find a weapon lying around somewhere and pick it up and suddenly feel powerful. only the weapon was inside me, and i wasn’t even aware of the trail of ash I left in my wake. and when the weapon had a name, i put it away, deep inside. where it lies now, dark and longing. sometimes, i take it out and polish it to a sheen. i’m sorry.

The Retired Dog Catcher Loses His Wife by Dennis Camire

And like those old strays he dogged, wanders
Streets and alleys–though no one, he grieves,
Is postering his sad, furry face on telephone poles

Or offering up to two-hundred bucks
If his heart’s own beloved pug is returned,
Unharmed, to Jane on 2 Cemetery Drive….

Still, these blessed strays sense his like anguish
So, by Fifth and Main, a collarless collie
Or mixed breed shepherd is forever

Tossing its tongue’s bouquet of love to him
Merely bending to pet their stretching neck.
Nights, now, he whispers to his late wife

Of this summer solstice of solace in-
duced by the mere one-eared beagle always
Waiting by the hardware store’s back door

Then popping into his head those nights
He grips the pills promising to silence
His own sad howls. And as these godly dogs

Go on surviving another Boston winter
By retrieving stale hotdog bun crumbs
Missed by pigeons, he’ll weep over these pooches

prompting him of his own beautiful instinct
To fetch nourishing scraps of happiness
So, when he finds himself again, pausing,

To admire the marmalade of mallards
spread over the Charles, he sees how
these bodhisattva-like dogs are the ones

returning the sad mongrel of widower back
to his heart’s rightful home; and visiting, again,
his grandkids weekends, he blesses

his puppy-like lips giving away endless kisses
after retrieving the endless whiffle balls
and accepting each collar of embrace.

Sunrise by Vincent Canizaro

under the gulf stars
a lone seagull cries

her fear divides the morning light

Are Magpies Gods or Spy Cameras? by Martin Christmas

Sitting on a ledge
of the steel and glass office block
across the street on level six,
a magpie, sitting at one end.

Suddenly this magpie runs,
hops, along the ledge
six levels high, looking,
watching the world below,
or is it?

Every so often it stops,
peers over the ledge,
then runs or hops a little distance,
stops, peers, repeats this ritual
until the other end.

Out of ledge, six levels above
the homeward traffic rush,
it sits quite still,
peering over the ledge,
or so it seems to me,
gauging the traffic,
sitting absolutely still.

Maybe after all
birds are winged gods.
Benevolent, I hope.
It sits there, still, bemused, benign.
Unmoved and undeterred.
God like.

Or maybe just a spy camera,
wheeled into place by some shady
state government bureaucracy
to watch the shifting traffic
heading home.
Looking up again
I see it’s gone.
Not a camera after all.
Just a winged god.

‘All’s well with Adelaide’,
the magpie can report.

Two Different Dogs by Martin Christmas

Two Different Dogs

Out on a morning street trek,
coming towards me,
an elderly woman
pushing a stroller with
a small grey child in it.

Up close I see I need
a Spec Saver check up,
a little grey Yorkshire terrier.

We chat– the lady and I–
that is.
‘When she gets tired,
she climbs into the stroller
for the rest of the walk,
my husband loves her white beard.’
They are off again,
this human and dog combo.


A dog shoots out
and bites my ankle.
Yap. Yap. Yap. Yap.
A small Pomeranian.
Loud, very loud for such a
very small dog.

I cross to the other side
of the road.
It retreats inside the property
to catch another unwary ankle.

Two different dogs.

People are like dogs.

Keep your anger in your pants!

Night, House by DAH

Houses, made of shadows
of hallways
dragging footsteps, night’s
brooding matter

Windows, dark sketches
against glass
The sky comes down hard
inside my head

like a disturbing face
of black eyes
cold as any winter pane
smeared as any ink blotter

Reaching floor to ceiling
the hard chilled air
dreams of its own body
because bodies move

from room to room
like the sinister dead
exhaling down my spine
breath as thin as twilight

raising dust that does not
hold life, does not sound
a heartbeat,
does not accumulate

but swirls with faint motion
as I turn away
wearing this house as a mask
and facing another room

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

Lunar cycles bookend lives:

God grant me a map of infinity.

Weather-Sensitive by Steven Fortune

heavy humid June rain betrays
Mother Nature’s tweak
of masochism curiosity
in a failed censorship of
quaint elemental
menstrual melancholy
The kind of weather
Teddy Hughes would suffer
to befriend

My muse enables star manifesting
in a room immune to skies
though it matters not
for it is its own
self-reliant constellation
extraneous yet
affiliating with all incarnations
of the carbon jigsaw

To feign a sleep on such a day
is to invest
in a lottery of moods
tripping dim fandangos
to fall upon their faces
where they stay
vowing to donate potential jackpots
to Mother Nature
like sacrifices for a favorable
harvest of July jitterbugs

Harbor by Ray Greenblatt

It’s fashionable these days
to live by the water
so we put all our worth
into a condo.
It’s a delight to see
the harbor blue on sunny days
green now and then we imagine
but mostly a silty brown.
We lie on lounges
on our balcony
pretending to be on
the Positano Coast
smattering of green islets
perhaps a grotto or
fuming volcano beyond
always framed against
jagged mist-tinted mountains.
However, this area is Prohibition flat
while the howls of wolves in the hills
are the drunks disgorged from bars
kicking garbage cans or homeless mutts.
They say we’re lucky
to have rotting docks in front of us
as if they were a living history
but only phantom ships appear
in shadows or a glare of light.
Yet, we’re thrilled by a storm roaring in
and some nights the black sack of sky
rips open to spill a double
amount of stars into the harbor.

The Border of Your Heart by Patricia Hamilton

is patrolled by a tiny figure
goose-stepping back and forth,
bayonet poised to jab
at anyone deemed
undesirable, dispensable:
anyone not exactly like you.

The unscalable black fence
around your mind
is wrought from rigid iron
topped with spikes
designed to keep out
any thought not your own.

What you don’t realize:
that angry muscle at your core,
that clenched fist
pumping relentlessly
to the endless beat of blame,
is dying

all the faster
from your frantic efforts
to block out compassion.
Know this: no wall
can secure your heart
from itself.

This Sweater by Patricia L. Hamilton

You think I shouldn’t wear it?
Even if it’s my favorite?
Well, maybe so.

But its pink is the delicate hue
of plum blossoms fluttering
in the breeze

after an endless season
of sullen gray clouds
and humorless rain,

its intricate pattern the wisdom
patient fingers acquired
by a fireside

and passed down from daughter
to daughter like a necklace
of polished pearls,

its yarn substantial but soft,
breathable, giving
when I move.

By the way, what makes you
think I was created
for your gaze?

Graves by Bob Hoeppner

Most graves are already dead but
they don’t act like it, their erect
stones poised to impregnate
the eye with names and dates
until every pathetic fallacy scrubs
the data beyond the rubbings
like to a genie’s lamp, meant to invoke
the person from the container. But
no genie comes. No
wishes are granted after the grave
has died. But when it was
alive with mourners, with ants
feasting on crumbs of grief,
one wish was granted, in the wish
that they were still alive and
in that wish they were.

Mid-Life by D. R. James

That dusk was too deft:
it wicked sad nostalgia
out of treetops, scrawled
and flicked far-flung secrets
across a chimerical sphere,
treaded afresh its upheld
ceiling of concrete gauze.

Ah, those were the leaps
of an unwilled mind
wild atop its uncoiled spine
of interlocking coins. Its
ruminations flocked unherded,
entwined like tendrils knitting
their perpetual thicket. It
shuttered the windows
that faced drained runnels
of under-foot dreams, shattered
the mirrors that echoed scant
overhead sheen. It verged
on a strain of extinguishment!

But the lean body endured, limbs
akimbo, torso torqued to support
a pent-up stare— Or was it surprise?
Like emerging under unclouded
sun from a feudal cell, some clue
like a smell aiming a mangy dog,
nails clicking, to a feasible feast.

Sisyphus Loses Track by D. R. James

His round trips triggered the technology
of counting: clouds, moons, planets, galaxies,
his rank breaths dusting the eternal groove.
But erasure of future, easing of
scars inflicted playing strung puppeteer
to the gods, echo sweet gestures tendered
like rain. Compass missing, mirror of death
broken into windows cheering on chance
encounters with the playful world, he looks,
he touches, he glides the electric land.

Wait for It by D. R. James

The forecast hovers between soggy and
gratitude, verges on awe, balances
muted light against lopsided gladness.
Meanwhile (though Cosmos clatters its remote
stones, and Existence casts its Theater
of the Unheard from among the docile),
the man’s morning’s pouring itself into
day—and he stares off, fathoming the frayed
front sliding past outside has flagged in him
imponderable streaks of fleeting joy.

Amygdala by Brandi Kary

Things fail us.

My sister’s grey matter,
the the letter “O” drawn in sand,
the needle of a compass,
remorse, the orbits of moon–

Yet, we know the magic of the
brain, setting each hemisphere
on fire, each fold, each wrinkle, the
geographies of thought.

I once held the skull
of a child in my palm:
female, six years old,
small bullet hole
behind her left eye.

Fissures webbed across her head
like lighting, fault lines
in to her body—
the flesh failed.

We were so matter of fact about it.

You ask me to explore her lambda
for the exit wound, I traced two
fingers across the equator—
I find nothing.

Think of maps not traveled,
Think of tunnels and
dark caverns where we
lose them, spaces where
they leave us—

The failure is not
the thing itself, no,
no, the failure is in the not
knowing how to make
the exit wound, and then
knowing how difficult
it is to forgive after.

Thursday Ritual by Gary Lark

Brad backs the pickup across the yard
in line with the top step
and lays down 2-by-12s to bridge the gap.
His father watches from the window.
This is a Thursday ritual, going to town.
His father gets the door open
and navigates his electric wheelchair
to the end of the boards.
“Far enough,” Brad hollers.
After the near disaster of the first time,
when his father tried to run it on his own,
Brad shifts the chair to its lowest setting
and moves it across, centering it in the bed.
He ties it off with rope to the four corners, tight.
Brad doesn’t go over forty
but the old man loves the rush.
There’s still some rascal in him
and Brad guesses some beagle.
A rain poncho helps at times,
but snow is out.
His father traverses Fairhaven market,
Malan’s hardware and Brandy’s Café,
saying hello and telling the same joke
in each place.
The loading dock at the back of the library
is the launching pad for home.
Houses pass. Trees and pasture,
there’s a new truck by Harmon’s barn,
open fields, the bustle of town,
and the ride.

Light by Mary Ann Meade

There, in the field, the light rising from the husks.
Fool’s gold her father whispers, the cat squinting up

from the grass, and she, a frail child, holding on
to the husks. Never mind her cough, the dust.

Never mind the words of her father, a cigarette
in his mouth, but unlit. For summer after summer,

she will keep the husks. The gold, she knows, is real.
Even now in the sudden rain, the north star adrift.

Sugar Apple by Rajnish Mishra

Sugar apple green, yellow sometimes. Which shade of green?
Dark or light, artificial or small-painted-clay-toy green?

Which shade of yellow? Sunlight seen through a thin webbed peepal leaf
with most of its green gone, and just the veins and a film of leaf.

The shade of taste?
How does it taste?

I remember small grains rub against my tongue.
Correct me if I am wrong. I can taste it on my tongue,

that creamy sweet custard and the tighter flesh around the small,
black stones. Before all that comes my grandmother frail, small,

she used to keep sugar apples for me, along with it the other offerings
to Lord Vishnu roasted flour, slices of guava and banana, and sweets.

I’d get them all and with them, the sacred thread and a betel leaf,
a one rupee coin and a smile that tasted of blessings for me.

The Whims of Sleep by Elizabeth Morse

Sleep no longer loves me.
The phone buzzes once, dialing lights
That streak across the ceiling. I sit up in bed,
Reading ice-cube promises in a crystal glass.
Star and moon cookies with white frosting
And tiny silver dots recline in a plate.
I think of the red dress I used to wear to parties,
Now that I know not to flirt with Jose Cuervo
Or Jack Daniels.

I close the door and wait, shoes lost, bandage
On my toe. Will I lift the phone, listening
Carefully to make sure the connection is true?
Shadows shift. Insomnia builds character,
But what kind? The crystal glass trembles,
Catching wind only for a moment, as the white
Curtain lifts in the dark. Dots of light gather,
As half my forehead, my cheek, my right eye,
Ache with waiting.

The Old Men by Benjamin Nash

The blue heron in the dark pond,
tall pines, reminds me of the old
men, walking carefully, wearing
the beat up cowboy hat, a good
one for Sundays, getting up at
light to watch the beef prices,
going to bed when the sun goes
down, chewing tobacco, spitting
it into a coffee can, feeding the
cows in winter, cutting up the
pine, burning it down, growing
corn, tomatoes, beans, keeping
the rifle near the bed, knowing
how bad it was to use it, and
lifting, the blue heron, leaving,
slowly, men that worked on oil
rigs, cut lumber, grew cotton,
raised cattle, went to the city,
offices, the port, went to war,
men that were hard on their
kids, their wives, suffered in
the depression, were all about
values, men that saw us go to
space, saw Kennedy fall, and
now they are all gone, like the
cigarette, the smoke, is fading,
and the dark pond is now empty.

South by Nathanael O’Reilly

Lift the luggage down
from the garage shelf

pack for another journey
fold jeans, shirts and shorts

roll socks, belts and undies
gather toiletries, running gear

sunglasses, boots and books
for the trip south

into the hot, dry hills
where tequila, cerveza

tacos, fajitas, sopapillas
and refreshing pools await

Breathing by John Ogren

Waiting at a stoplight,
I noticed a plastic shopping bag
caught in the upper branches of a tall, leafless tree
across the freeway.
The palest gray, it first made me think of an egg.
I might have seen it before—
a jelly fish hovering over the asphalt,
it had seemed the freest thing in the strip mall parking lot.
Teased by the wind, the egg suddenly collapsed and reinflated.
This cycle repeated like desperate gasping.
The breathing was a beating.
Later that day, when I exited the freeway
to join a long line of cars on the access road
waiting at the red light,
I saw a man standing at the intersection holding a sign and a foam cup.
When we started to move, he stared straight ahead,
cup oscillating slightly in his hand,
his cardboard covered with words too small to make out.
As we sped past, he seemed caught on that corner,
and we blew by him, mighty and empty as the breeze.

Nothing is true in Dallas by John Ogren

Nothing is true in Dallas.
Streets run askew at its heart
and constantly prank the compass mind—
erratic radii off a bucking colt of a river,
lately bridled and channeled.
Drive out and patterns regress
to norms of latitude and longitude
but even here the creeks
jagged bolts of river
strike and twist against a grid.
Honest people in this town
fight everyday
those who think they can
straighten what God has made crooked
tidy what She left a glorious muddy mess.
Tonight monsoon rains
surge in a river that leaps its banks
runs out across the floodplain and kicks against its corrals.

Vagrants by John Ogren

Birders in Texas pay attention to hurricanes
because the gigantic pinwheels blow birds everywhere.
When birds are blown off course during migration,
some right their compasses and complete their routes.
Others make do in borrowed habitats.
Due to strange surroundings and exhaustion
these vagrants are vulnerable to predation and other hazards.
Yet many eventually make their ways back home.
We are odd birds
who migrate and indwell our habitats
at the same time.
Vagrants of a kind in either case:
we may be blown off course right at home,
or we may move on without leaving.

Haibun by Martin A. Ramos

On Sunday there was an emergency call about a woman who was in a desperate way down by the river. We heard the report and went down to the river where she was shouting and screaming that the current had taken her daughter…

No wonder we despair,
a father and his toddler daughter
face down at river’s edge

How could they have known
the river water whirlpools
are unforgiving

Remain by Ann Randlette

Granny rides on the backseat near me
as my brother drives the two lane roads,
crosses the bridge over the Nisqually River.

He pulls onto the verge and despite the warning
signs, ‘Restricted, Military Personnel only’ follows
the dirt lane to the dead end where the river
slowly churns just beyond the shrubs.

We pick our way along a grassy path
to the water’s edge.
I climb down onto small boulders,
open my Ziploc bag, pour out
Granny’s ashes.

The small bone chips join rock
and sand below. The rest of her swirls
with the eddies, clouds on a blue sky.

Trees by Errol Rubenstein

In their naked and undisguised irregularity, trees
Are shocking to me,

Trunk hunkered in the ground,
Roots spread like eels, scrutinizing the soil,
A woodpecker’s knothole
Making a home for some tiny starling, titmouse or chickadee–
Cavity-nesters in the heartwood.

A small rodent, a grey squirrel perhaps,
Nestled with its young in its drey.

Branches splayed out
In uneven patterns, first large, then smaller
As they reach and yearn
For sky,
A promise kept to grab the sun, the clouds and pull

Them down. Leaves, in spring just turning green.
But in winter fallen,
Branches, clotted bark, signposts to sidewalk
Walkers counting the trunks
To measure their leaving, their way home.

When Those in Power by Errol Rubenstein

When Those in Power
Huddle in hallway corners
To discuss false claims and accusations levelled against you;
When the metal jaws clamp down
And your flag of freedom hangs limp in the dead breeze
And your means to sustenance is endangered
And your gainful employment is menaced by their intimations,
And they secretly plan your prospective failure and dismissal—

Then fear sets in
And your teeth begin to chatter like hammering hail.
And your body begins to shake like thin branches in whipping winds.
And illness enters in and sickens your internal organs.
And you sleep on a bed of nails.
And you walk on glowing coals
And wait on tenterhooks
For the axe to fall.

And they hold secret meetings
To which you are not invited.
And their doors are barred to you.
And you walk the halls in ignorance,
Casting glances before and behind you
To see if anyone is following,
To see if they are watching.

And you will never know, will never know
That they have been observing you,
For they have put wires under your bed
And have been listening to your every word;
They have been transcribing your every utterance,
Recording your every thought.

So, when they finally bring you before them
Do not be afraid:
And answer them with candor and without shame.
Tell them of your troubles and your struggles,
Of times in your life when you were without a friend,
And your loneliness enveloped you like a black cloak shutting out all the light that was yours,
Of times in your life when there was no one to turn to,
And your fears rose up like titanic mountain ranges bursting from the earth’s surface,
And those who loved you and whom you loved were miles away and beyond your reach.

Tell them of your journey from darkness into light,
Of the slow progress of years when the toil of rebuilding your life
Took every ounce of strength and energy you had,
Of the days that passed when you felt you could not go on,
When the pain in your body was real, and when the pain in your mind no less real.

Tell them that you make your way every day without complaint.
That the burdens you carry with you are yours and yours alone,
And that your obedience is unwavering.
Tell them that your pain is borne in silence.
And in your honesty
You will find they have nothing to say to you;
You will find they will return your words with blank faces
And open mouths.

Downfall by Ann Christine Tabaka

Disbelief shall be our loss,
wading through deception.
Want and desire play their
hand against fact and fate.

Like so much sour milk,
our longings spill out.
Transformation resists,
a stalemate results.

Incredulous masses
stand their ground,
disregarding what
lies directly in their path.

Over time, downfall imminent.
But, who shall stand for right?
We wear our blinders so well,
when we follow prideful ways.

Turning our heads,
diverting our eyes,
in the end we slither past
death’s mournful call.

Alteration by Agnes Vojta

The dress fit her perfectly
for years; it wore
comfortably, and she liked
the way she looked in it –

until one day, it suddenly
felt too short, too tight,
the seams fraying.

She tried to adjust it,
pulled and tugged,
but it didn’t help.

She sewed on
another layer of fabric,
but it looked and felt
all wrong.

So she took off the dress
and with trembling hands
started to rip out the seams.

Naked, she shivered
as she threaded the needle,
and slowly began

to sew the pieces
back together
in a new pattern,

that would fit her new shape
and eventually
would feel right.

How to Walk on Slickrock by Agnes Vojta

Trust your brain
and feet
to read,
the interplay of gravity
and friction.

Do not second-guess
whether you will be able
to walk

Commit to your step
without hesitation.
Put your full weight
on your feet,
walk erect,
with determination.

It’s the only way.

When you start crouching
in fear,

Train to Uncertainty by Agnes Vojta

While you are living your questions
and listen for the elusive answers
that may never come,

the universe pulls the rug
out from under you

and slams the door

You are left
in a rubble of regrets.

You should have jumped

on the speeding train
to uncertainty

that would at least
have been going


Small Things by Johann van der Walt

it’s the small things that count the most
small gears that fit neatly into one another
these parts kick start the biggest of machines

it’s talking without mouths that I remember
the longing sigh we give late at night when
everybody is asleep and we stare at the stars

small things are important and have their place
we stare deeply into each other in embrace
searching every inch until there is nowhere left to go

there is one small thing that becomes a big thing to me
you unwillingly arch your lower body upwards, fists balled
your body pushed off the bed and you stare down at me

your entire body shakes and you lose control
forcing raging floodgates to swing open wide
so I can taste the essence of your soul

Meditation: University Green by Cullen Whisenhunt

The leather magnolia
petals fall hard
as if to crack
the sidewalk, then lie
bowl-still beside
waxy leaves
already yellowed
by spring downshifting
into summer.

They twitch and skitter
like the bottlebrush tail
of a nearby red squirrel,
lifted by the slightest
breeze to be thrown
a-ground anew. But

the petals hold,
brown in the sun,
and wait to catch
a rain that will make
all things green
once more.

Visions of Durant, OK by Cullen Whisenhunt

who loned it through the streets in Idaho seeking visionary indian
angels who were visionary indian angels
—Allen Ginsberg, “Howl”

I saw him today, Allen.

Saw him as I blew
down Enterprise Boulevard
like an eastern wind.
Saw him framed above
the road in the unbroken
but backlit clouds.
Saw him in ragged blue jeans,
work boots, neon green
construction tee shirt, and smudge
of white helmet with
Choctaw Nation stamp.

Saw him with two great crane necks
rising up behind, sprouting
from his back like wing
spine mast poles waiting
to unfurl, pressing
the sky higher and higher
on hydraulic pistons,
freeing us to breathe and fly
and stoop no more.
Saw him like a new Coyote
trickster god, polycultural,
polyperson, vertex
of tribe and industry, holding
cedar sapling with one palm
and backhoe at bay
with another.
Saw him like titan Atlas,
with raw shoulders standing tall
on muddy mountain spine of Mother Earth.

Saw him later, hopscotching
railroad ties, just this side
of Arkansas in bleak light,
trafficky, kicking gravel
in flip-flops in dead winter,
Saw him with gothic trees
snaking up behind
to screen silhouette
of smokestack steeple.
Saw him with cigarette, puff-puffing
like the engine he watched screech
away, wondered what
he wondered while he wandered,
he in undershirt and sweats,
with mustache penciled,
too dark to mark his complexion.

Saw him on 7th, too, on
asphalt parking lot,
dancing in technicolor
costumes to Spanish music.
Saw him as many
children, circling up, holding hands,
dancing, singing, rehearsing.

Saw the both of him
hugging, being hugged
out on the front porch,
twisting high on Conversed toes,
blue jeaned and sweatered,
star ankled and starry eyed
behind glasses over a shoulder
and around the dark
hood of a brother,
prodigal perhaps,
or always there and loved
just the same.

Saw her squeeze
her smile into his
chest, under long hair,
peeking at the road, at who
might be watching, daring them,
daring all of us,
to say, or to love,
anything, this much,
this sure, this certain.

I saw him, Allen,
saw the visionary indian
angel that you sought.
I saw him, and he was everything
you never promised
and nothing more,
But nothing less, too

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


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.


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

Lunar cycles bookend lives:

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.


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
creamy avocados,
crunchy, iceberg lettuce.

In a bowl,
I mash
the cubes
with garlic powder,
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
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
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
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
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

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

the seed-pits we discarded well
you and i.

amid playful antics you tested your
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
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

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

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

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

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.

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.