Home Poetry


to the Utter East

by Josey Parker


If the ocean was
full of flowers,
how long would it
take for them to wilt?
How long before petals became chips?
Natural with sea salt.

And would they look
like bouquets
or accordions?

When you bite a clover flower
and press it between
your molars,
somehow that blossom
unfolds on the buds
of your tongue.

-no, the flowers
aren’t bouquets or
accordions but carousels like
sticky fingers, maybe?

But the ocean is full of them and so
is your mouth-
your lips spit pollen;
there is no ark to
save us.

Your head is a buoy,
bobbing in
stems, sepals, petals, seeds.
Close your mouth
your tongue
catches mine.
I told you I’m allergic to pollen.





hand me that leaf
we rescued last fall
to press between the p’s

it paled anyways
with veins
like a dry wrist

all we have are the photographs
of our fingers
dusty with chlorophyll



what will we do with the princes?


It’s hurricane season
-so sue me for
boarding up my windows

you didn’t tell me you would
be here throwing




Josey ParkerJosey Parker is a frazzled student and coffee enthusiast who somehow finds time to write copious amounts of poetry and flash fiction. Her work has previously appeared in the Claremont Review. Although she is an author, she is not in fact, dead.




nuta gangan

still missing

by Nuta Istrate Gangan


some day
you will forget me
while I will always remain
a vague uneasiness
some day
you will turn me
into a memory
but you will be startled
by the thought I still exist
I know
you will sense me
the rest of your life
like a soldier
returning from the front
who feels his lost arm
present always
alive pulsing
but still missing



the world was ending
and still we owed each other
the unconsummated kisses
of all lovers
it rained bitterly
desperately feverishly
it rained with the need of droughts
the despair of floods
your body unleashed
merciless thunder
lightning ripped mine
into quivering arches
you finally slept
by the hot thighs of my thought
at the edge of a long kiss
desperate as the end of the world
with bloody lips
I rose
wrapped you in a dream
and with a single gesture
stopped the rain


the eyes

close first but die last
your teeth
stuck into the flesh of my thigh
seek reasons beyond the skin
with a wave of your hand
you balance the world
nestled in a tight fist
the moment of pain
transforming purifying
unspoken words
burn in my blood
those spoken
err beneath your mouth
eyes leave streaks of light
my skin grows translucent
illuminated from the inside
you kindle fires in my heart
kiss butterflies on my ankles
carve me in your image
the empty space inside
begs to be filled
fractures seek to be joined
my sunrises
cannot exist without your sunsets, darling
(paint petals on my eyelashes
do not let my eyes die)



the hunter never kills for meat
he craves the smell of blood
the agony
the last look in the doe’s eyes
that painful
white look
pierces his retina
and haunts him
stirring his blood
pulsing like an orgasm in his veins
the bloodstain
spreads crimson in the snow
my hands are so cold and white…
I dare not breathe
for fear of waking humanity
from this grinding frost
my sleepy eyelids twitch
my lips can taste my own blood
your white words
scratched on an equally white paper
hurt my eyes
I do not see
I can no longer see
there is only an ocean of white
giving rise to thousands of eyes
snow falls again
over my world
sanguine and absurd
oh Lord…
I do not want
the smell of fresh blood any more
(and you
don’t talk…
don’t talk of love
when my heart is closing
like a doe’s eye dying)



you used to say
blue butterflies hide behind my knee
and one day
jasmine will blossom on my ankle
your blood
used to swirl in my veins
hot and silky
you’d take my soul in your fist
drinking me thirstily
to the last drop
you made love primitively
I was your first and last woman
you would bite my hip till it hurt
while kneading children in my womb
you used me
so you could breathe
you would tear pieces from my body
pleading with me to give birth
by a fire
in the middle of a field
thrusting my teeth into your shoulder
until the unleashed scream
would free the rain from the sky’s manacles
and disturb angels’ wings
in heavens full of primeval sins
I was young
I was Eve
I used to walk carefully
not to disturb
the fragile sleep of butterflies
or start a flowering
and catch your children in my womb




nuta ganganNuța Istrate Gangan is a Romanian-American author living in Davie, Florida with her son, Christian, and her husband, Dorin. Her poems are published both in Romanian and English, and her books are available online. Gangan’s poetry is translated into English by Adrian George Sahlean.






by Karen Corinne Herceg


The world
scaled for living
presses against a zero-degree sky,
the day’s beginning light
opening like a book.
The morning so frozen
will not allow the gibbous moon
to retire,
hovering over still-waiting lamplights,
poor imitations,
all their nightly duty done.
And I: supine across the linens
before this scene
as in a Rousseau tableau,
lying like a cut-out
in my own jungle,
each part outlined clearly
like the white snow-capped roofs
against the icy blue horizon.
And still
I think that you will edge me off the canvas
and paste me to the section
where you live.


Hudson History

                            honoring Pete Seeger

We’ve assumed you
beyond your natural shifts and turns,
morphing historical perspective,
birthing ourselves into your river grace,
iron and metal bridged
across your girth,
wave against will.
Adaptable in a marketable world,
your iconic flow
no exception,
your pristine nature filled
with natives and intruders,
the lush natural and
the burden of the built,
from ambitious towers
to towering trees
to the tread of silence
near old wilderness.
You begin at the north,
the top,
and push your power south,
carrying all,
delivering in a democracy of spirit,
challenged, fierce then passive,
history glinting off your journeys,
truth remaining in your depths,
powering through the harbor,
your own story
obscured by ours.


A Wake of Frogs

An early April day, arms full of grocery bags,
frost in the air not yet done,
I walked toward the house, stopped,
shocked by the sudden sight,
their gleaming bodies
laid out across rocks rimming the fountain
like civil war soldiers
waiting to be recognized and buried.
The porch where I sat evenings
watching the small waterfall
leech through rocks,
frothing into a pool rimmed with tiger lilies,
was far from soothing now.
How to know the autumn before
that ice would seal a wet tomb
before those innocents could escape?
A city girl, I couldn’t warn them
of nature’s ways.

Bags fallen at my feet, I spotted him
through our picture window,
sitting casually, New York Times in hand.
How he loved the crossword puzzle,
its setup of boxes, the clean, neat lines,
the completion of tiny words,
the supposition of victory.
This was complete, too:
death at the end of long years,
memories frozen over with no future,
laid out to view.
He thought those frogs were a warning
but they were only seeking a proper burial,
an affirmation
of what was long deceased.



The truth is
this is a fearful place,
constant trembling
flanked with platitudes,
with magical thinking,
failure drowning in cocktails,
lust laughing in a sophomoric comedy
and smoke curling
the clouded forbidden air.
There’s a lot of leftover
hippie love
and broken philosophies.
We assent to camouflage,
a whimsical toast,
a sea of well wishing,
the rejuvenation of a spa weekend.
Before the dusk of empty bottles,
pill prompted memories,
a closing door,
we consider praying again,
measures of redemption
kicking us back onto the cross,
always just shy of resurrection.




karen hercegKaren Corinne Herceg graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a B.A. in Literature/Writing. In 2011, she received graduate credits in an advanced writing curriculum with emphasis on editing and revision. She has published in independent, small press publications and has published a book of poetry, Inner Sanctions. As a recipient of New York State grants, Karen has read at various venues, universities and libraries on programs featuring such renowned writers as Pulitzer Prize winner John Ashbery and has studied and read with such well-known poets as David Ignatow and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Schultz. Publications include Literary Mama, The Furious Gazelle, Immortal Verses, From A Window: Harmony and Inkwell. Her short story, “Knitting In Transit”, was published in Chrysalis Magazine, and she has completed her first full-length novel, Diva! Her current writing projects include a new volume of poems and co-authoring a memoir with award winning music producer Glenn Goodwin. Karen is a featured poet on the Hudson Valley poetry scene. She resides in Orange County, New York.

Visit Karen on Facebook and at her Website: karencorinneherceg.com.




alan reese

So Alive

by Alan Reese


how do we bend the mind
to fit the sound of what is?

what is the tone and notes
of the chords of our dreams?

who asks the questions we
struggle to answer?

when do mind and memory
marry and live happily ever after?

where are we and what are we doing
when they come for us?

why do we vibrate like bees in a glass jar
when we are so alive with love?




Fish will walk on land, and frogs drop from the sky,
zeppelins will explode and rain fire,
newscasters will turn a blind eye to joy,
and meteorologists will forecast non-existent weather patterns.
My sweater is too tight, and my pyjamas don’t fit.
When Archduke Ferdinand starts out in his armored vehicle,
the world, at prayer and unsuspecting, will be caught off guard
and wobble off kilter the rest of its days.
Signals from space will be misinterpreted
as cosmic static and interstellar background noise.
My nose will be elected president
and declare a state of apathetic disenchantment.
Black ants and red ants will form an alliance
that will elevate water cooler small talk to metaphysical
speculation and force governing bodies to take stock
of entomological trends as socio-economic indicators.
Masturbation will become a national sport.
Hand towel stock will skyrocket.
Personal declaration will be denounced as capitalist claptrap.
My undershirts will go in hiding with the Witness Protection Program.
Pensive moments will be outlawed outright.
Last one to leave will be expected to turn out the lights.




alan reeseAlan C. Reese owns and operates an independent subsidy publishing business, Abecedarian Books, Inc. He is the author of the chapbook Reports from Shadowland. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Smartish Pace, Gargoyle, The Baltimore Sun, Maryland Poetry Review, Potomac Review, Delaware Review, Welter, Grub Street, Attic, Bicycle Review, Danse Macabre, and the Loch Raven Review. He teaches writing at Towson University.




bruce mcrae

Perception Management

by Bruce McRae


How it is and how it isn’t…

We look for you as if a lost key,
retracing our steps, constructing models,
comparing the right eye to the left.
We employ statistics, the blunt instruments
of guesswork and guesstimates,
and see little harm in chicanery.
Lies can be good for you.

We’re building a better monster,
history airbrushed, the rain holding off,
sin considered an accomplishment.

Now we’re tapping the collective consciousness,
a ready source of gods and archetypes.
We’re instructing you in the art of complacency,
the law on the side of the lawyers.

A hush falls over the Earth
as we prepare our presentation,
including suitable lighting and soothing ambiance.
Even the dead are invited to dine.
Even the living.


Identity Crisis

You were the Wife of Bath
and I was Claudius Ptolemy.
I was your sixth or seventh husband
and you were my invisible lover, Mrs. Succubus.
We played games in the sack by candlelight.
We crossed deserts.
Some days we didn’t even know each other.

Little wonder I was so confused.
How does one label their experiences
when rampaging Visigoth’s are at the gate?
With biblical floodwaters rising?
In these damnable firestorms?

One minute we’re Bedouins in a Saharan caravan
and the next we’re planting tomatoes back in Omaha.
“Now you see me, now you don’t,”
you cried out from behind a burning mulberry bush.

And I couldn’t have said it any better.


Step Forward

They wanted a volunteer.
I brought them a head on a silver salver.
I pulled your name out of a hat.
I gave them my neighbour’s phone number.

They required donations;
all for a good cause, we were assured.
So I took the loose change out of your pocket,
the gold fillings out of your mouth,
the two pennies reserved for your eyelids.

The gods demand a sacrifice, they insisted.
Of course, we nodded in unison,
jostling for the honour of being first,
taking turns jumping into the bonfire.

Unrestrained in our passion.




bruce mcraePushcart nominee Bruce McRae is a Canadian musician with over 900 poems published internationally, including Poetry.com, Rattle and The North American Review. His first book, The So-Called Sonnets is available via Silenced Press and Amazon. To see and hear more poems go to ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’ on YouTube.




L Vargas

Laughing Until It Becomes A Cough

by Lauren Vargas


The thin-lashed girl gets it,
a single spinal chill at every roadkill.
It’s not real, she repeats, picturing
a purple pig balloon that’d careened
through the sky, tangling about its
one dimensional, curly-tailed string
and fell at such high speeds that it hit
a telephone pole line, exploding ham
on either sidewalk. Waiting

and watching for a good laugh,
the kids give her a home and lodge
their popcorn kernels behind her tonsils.
She shoves a finger through her ear
to scratch the roof of her mouth, to
speak again if a loved one has been affected
by mesothelioma, legal compensation is
just around the corner. As children use their
heels to scrape sulphuric tar from the
defrosting water line and then

examine candied teeth with a
knife’s thinnest glittering edge between
waves, sweat beads accumulate on
the girl’s palms like transparent
bowling balls. She holds them out and
notices tremors. Asbestos rains down.
The kids ask her to drink fluids to cure
that dry cough but all the water is
leaving to house fishes in the dictionary.



At The Open House, My Aunt
Describes How To Deadhead

My aunt trims conversation with the real
estate agent. Mentions he might come back with a better
offer. All I ever wanted was a place to call home.
Deadheading helps the flower grow fuller, stronger, clearing her
throat with chested coughs, aunt takes cuticle
scissors to infected orchid roots hanging from slatted baskets
nailed to the mantle. Rotted tissue flutters mostly
to the wood. Careful to not slice any live stems, she issues

an apology to the dead leaves. My fingertips churn pots of fern
fiber and volcanic stone. I guide her root
before packing the surface with charcoal flakes. Now firmly
planted in the coconut shell, she emits a white
lemon aura. Her silhouette morphs. Purple fragile now, swallows
moisture from the air, and begs me to sacrifice
the bloom. Mindful of keeping her from lying in water,
I pray she’ll have room when fully grown.



Carpal Tunnel

But on a molecular level, dryness. No matter
the post-op sweat — her skin, like her emotions,
remains rubbery. To live in a white box shouldn’t cost
this much: a view of the stucco roof, its squares that
protrude from the ceiling to prop up a man in blue
who’s eating a wheat bread and jelly sandwich like
it’s the last meal. Scrubs, a patchwork of used vinyl
wristbands, collect in linoleum basements like fraud.

She drops her pendant cross in a tall glass filled
with denture solution, and hangs a row of teeth
from a silver chain around her neck. Her inability
to inflect certain vowels is as if her lungs occlude
apologies. Like the important things are slipping
away, she asks about the demon men in overalls
sitting at the foot of her bed. It’s hopeful to imagine
she’s talking about the food tray cluttering her toes.



Upon Hearing Of My Uncle’s Dog-Leash
Suicide, I Realize My Own Neck Pain

His children’s only solace
is desiccation. I say
sorry, he’s hanging around
in my mind pissing himself.
The doorframe — humor and bloat
are observed by relatives,
I hate their stiff face muscles.
Were you close to him? I’m just
asking how a two hundred
fifty pound man fits in a
small mahogany box. Voice
mail condolences begin
jarring birds from telephone
pole lines. After falling through
a cracked window, their necks thud
against marble countertops.
Chaos is the only true
family history. Home-
made soggy meat loaf leaves blood
streaks along the sink’s steel walls,
but I don’t speak because none
of this can be removed with
bleach. The oven light’s broken,
treats smell guilty. Duct taped glass-
ware fails to keep the juice in,
and cellophane bubbles up
around paper plates holding
stale brownies. I’m wondering
why a blue dog leash would kill
a man. You may be seated.




L VargasLauren Vargas is currently working towards an MFA at Queens University and is a full time writing curriculum-tutor in Southern California. She believes in the power of language and poetry. Her works have previously appeared in ElevenElevenAmpersand Literary Journal, Chinquapin Literary Journal, and CalibanOnline.




Michael Brownstein


by Michael Brownstein


Dear wife, everything is not a relationship:
the pipe below the sink leaking water
is not always an example of neglect changing everything
(old age has a hand in things, too)
this mop hair full of brownish grime
no longer able to clean surface scars
will be renewed with bleach and detergent,
even thick grass tangled into stubbornness
can be tamed with an adequate lawn mower.

Dear wife, friends are sometimes
enough. Enough to carry one day forward
into another. Night is not always a comfort,
yet it can be, and we can fix
this old house, reinvent it to ourselves.
Perhaps then you will be able to understand
thinking and passion do differ,
the full moon has the same beautiful face,
we are still invited to the canopy of the forest.





I nurture the wrong people,
gangrene girls with color scars,
small breasts like the yellow cusps of dandelion.

I have broken so many fights
the count is beyond fingers,
beyond toes.

We walk the stone paths of the zookery.
Ivy, oat, barley. Great frogs, green shade,
wood ducks, a rock ledge.
water lilies like thick fish, spotted fish,
striped fish turning delicate hoops.

We eat lunch on stone benches jutting out over water,
a breeze ghosting through spiked grass.

Swifts move through the air like Chinese fighting kites
and there by the fallen tree, an egret,
wings stronger than hunger,
wings stronger than selfishness.

My girls do not see the wood duck, the swift.
They do not see the fish, the large frog.
My girls complain about the walking,
this was a trip to the zoo,
we came to see animals

not Lake Michigan,
not the break wall,
not a rumble of rock blocking waves,
the water green gray blue,
not shells, not algae,
not sand thick with alewives.

I nurture caged girls,
meat-eating girls,
and when the rock dove lands by thrown bread,

I nurture girls who glory in the herring gull’s attack,
a rock dove retreating quickly,
wild wings sparking like fields of lasers.





we had to walk two miles into town,
the wind not the rabid raccoon we feared,
but the gentle new boy who also disliked baseball.
The fields snowbound,
streets unplowed,
sidewalks buried,
everywhere fairy dust and stars,
the sky a frozen lake, thistle and cottonwood seed.
When we passed the high school, my son said,
“The new windows look nice.”
On the bridge, he pointed to the four deer
buried to their neck,
body heat creating puddles of snow
and the four of them stared at the two of us,
unafraid, unabashed, silent.
When we entered the first store,
removed our heavy scarves
and freed our hair from hoods
hot spiced apple cider awaited us,
and at the second and at the third.
We lingered with people we knew and people we did not,
shared stories of huge snowmen,
angels we drew with our arms
and then a man much older than all of us
entered the bookstore with a large snowball.
“Perfect for packing,” he said,
tossing it out the door,
We could not wait to get home and go cross country skiing.
First tracks,
the entire landscape a stained glass in whites,
tree limbs transformed into liberty roses
and white poppies




I will tell you this and I will tell you this this time
In the register of the person
In the rhythm of the building
In the stepping stones of one handshake to another
In the bathroom of broken concrete and scarred walls, graffiti and cracked windows
Twice the dream came over me like fog
Only more intense
Like thunder with lightning
A crack with fire
A break in the line
I woke crying and uncomfortable.
The terrible thing about writing in the morning is you forget that someone you love can
Or you never knew them before they die
Or the breath you breathe is meaningless because someone you should know is dying.
Then there is nothing left to tell.





Michael BrownsteinMichael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).






by Hannah Frishberg


I slept through America on a Greyhound Bus and woke up for cities I know only from 40-year-old films I’d watch on VHS tapes in my grandma’s basement, but there’s miles and miles of track between me and that musky floral plastic wrapped living room couch as thick with dust as these woods are thick with trees and cabins and boys named Washington (I imagine)

Silos round as this planet, green as algae, companies named after oceans now only so much rubble in these soupy towns churning out noodles, and I remember where I am from people are as complicated as telephone wires but here everything is muffled by moss and cars crawl by like giant ants on the freeway, crawling across the horizon as I steam through America

I stare until my vision goes fuzzy and picture Iroquois between the grass, which only lives to grow, whispering the secrets of the soil to me through dirty plate glass windows, the backside of billboards in Baltimore, this town of broken glass and baseball, smoke stacks and advertisements for things gone long before I came

Boxcars stacked like Legos, these homes are shanties, no one lives here, and you’re a million times my senior, Baltimore, but I want to kiss each broken shard of your glass till my bloody lips are a map of your windows, and be as complacent in my own decay

These cities are islands of humanity amidst the trackside wilderness, floating like the gardens of Babylon, industrial relics alight in a sea of leaves and Little League and cherry blossoms every few miles among the parked cars and baggage, among the endless tracks and train cars who alone have seen the edges of America

Land of radio towers, as vast and quiet as the open sky, endless attics and fields of green and a water tower in the distance! Blooming big and blue! A truck depot! And the clouds seem bigger. Buildings standing on three legs with little boys on top blowing kisses to the setting sun, and the boy sitting next to me, fast asleep

We’re almost there, and I can see the border of summer is clouded by rain and floating petals
sneezed into the atmosphere, in front of me like a mirage waving back as we slow down for the Last Stop All Passengers Out.


Danse Macabre


MEDICAL RELEASE: On 3-11-2004, at approximately 3:45 AM, personnel from the Kings County Emergency Care Center responded to a report of uncontrollable dancing in front of a pharmacy at 4752 Cropsey Avenue. A small crowd had gathered to watch a young woman, possessed with what was posthumously diagnosed as terminal Boogie Fever, dance her life away in the middle of the street. She’d been there for hours, one woman said, performing every Latin American dance in alphabetical order, except for when an elderly gentleman asked to mambo even though she’d only just finished the bomba. She hasn’t said a word, one boy noted, but 27 separate prescriptions have fallen from her coat pocket. Tony can’t stop tapping I think it’s contagious, a lady shrieked, corralling her children away from the scene. Witnesses verify that, in the month of February alone, the ailing female had been seen waltzing in Westchester, cha-chaing in Chinatown, swinging in Sunnyside, Lindy Hopping in Little Neck, and twerking in Tribeca. In Ozone Park, she remained on point for two weeks until her nails peeled up and rats gnawed off her toes. Two pre-med students on Staten Island measured her heart beats with a snare drum and approximated that she spun at the same rate as the world. Construction workers in Throggs Neck observed that neither thunderclaps nor wrecking balls made her miss a beat, and thus theorized she was being rocked by the City itself. It was at 5:32 AM (sunrise, exactly) that she danced herself to death, sporadic fireworks erupting from her ears as she tripped on cement in the middle of a dougie and bled out through her feet. Upon autopsy, no space could be found between the bruises on her calves, and it was discovered her brain had over oxidized on street lights. Her insides were a nasty bloody failure, her ribcage in pieces, her heart in shreds, her mind in shards. The body was too broken to be buried; instead it was cremated. At the exact moment the ashes were released into the Hudson, 36 different FM radio broadcasts across the Tri-state area were interrupted by a whispered:
Oh baby, do you wanna dance?


This Social Generation


I. Children in the time of technological revolution,
We are united in our conformity
To the blue paneled man.
We congregate on this combat zone of words,
Of suicide notes, soul-searchers, and virtual love,
To sacrifice our time
And privacy
In exchange for pixelated satisfaction.
We send our thoughts and feelings out to sea
On emoticon-ships and status updates,
Trusting the world will see
And care
About our wants and whims.
A generation lost online,
Individual personalities somewhat discernable
Between the crotch shots and the Photoshop,
The likes and the favorites,
Not flesh and blood but binary code
And computer innards.
Deleting loneliness by logging in,
The world grows larger
By becoming small enough to understand.
The exponential growth of pixels
The cancerous growth of machines
Our lives morph to fit into computer screens.
Wasting time, crossing space
The fabric of emotion unthreading into shapes.
We are natives to this electronic existence,
Fluent in its language.
We translate our dreams, translate our lives,
And feed them to the void.

II. On all fours,
The night falls back out of our mouths
As the world is filtered into colored light
And the human body decomposes into textured shapes.
Piss and blood and laughter
And that perpetual bassline
All surge and ebb with the beat of our healthy hearts.
Only we appreciate the many tiered flavor
Of a 3AM Mickey D’s cheeseburger,
The perfect smear
Of morning-after eyeliner,
The taste of a night shared with a smoker.
We treasure a day’s quirks
And never look at the bigger picture.
And though the lyrics don’t make sense
We respond to that bassline
Always the bassline
Trying to thrash out the music
Drink out the music
Forget the music,
The bassline.
God is long gone,
Heaven along with him,
And the static electricity in our bodies
Is far greater than any force in hell.
We are draped in shadows
And the night is cheering us on,
The chemicals in what we do so much stronger
Than the chemicals in what we are.
We are animals
Looking for the warmth of a whisper
The warmth of a body
With whom to share a cigarette
With whom to share these sunless hours
With whom to share this long winter.
Because it is cold
And snow is much softer
When there are two bodies in a nest.






Hannah FrishbergHannah Frishberg is a freelance writer and photographer whose work has previously appeared in the Huffington Post, Gothamist, Narratively, Curbed, Atlas Obscura, and Urban Omnibus, among others. She is a fourth generation Brooklynite and is working on a book about the Gowanus Batcave.




Rene Ostberg

Bioluminescent Bay

by René Ostberg


I want this to be easy.
Like blink and we’re there easy
think and it’s done easy
wish and you’re here.
I don’t want the involvement of any effort on my part.
Don’t bring me to the luminescence
bring the luminescence to me.
None of this waiting for a new moon
banging around in the blackness with strangers
keeping kayaks in a line
swinging paddles through the Puerto Rican deep.
They tell us:
put your hands overboard
wiggle your fingers in the water
watch the little creatures crackle to light.
Little dinos, little flagellates.
I imagine a tiny long-tailed brontosaur,
a billion of ‘em, biting my rude huge hand
defanged piranha zygotes
lost in the Caribbean. It’s a long way
from the Amazon, a long way from the Mississippi
a long way from the Mesozoic.
I imagine a shiny long-tailed comet,
just one of ‘em, igniting my rude huge planet
smashing the dinos to bits
soldering speck-sized lights into their dino DNA.
The dinosaurs never died away.
They didn’t evolve into rhinos or birds.
They colonized the Caribbean
turned the Puerto Rican tides into a star show
you can swim in.
I want this to be easy so
I do what I’m told:
put my hand overboard
wiggle my fingers in the water
watch the little creatures
the little comet bedazzled buggers
crackle and roar to light.
I’ve come a long way from the Mississippi
for this.





There are no locks. There are only high sand hills
which the woman in the house would not feel safe
without. Whenever the sun shines she thinks it’s a
gift from the gods of defense. The sun turns the sand
to coals the hills to flames and no one can get over
and in without a struggle.

The house has hardly a roof. The floors are flooded
with sand so the woman hears the wind whenever
she steps. She sees trees in the dunes and the horizon
through the trees and the lake below the horizon. She
looks for prowlers on the beach and watches them
drown climbing the dunes.

One day she sees the lake and the horizon congeal
to clouds she thinks or jelled waves. Something
is coming. The clouds are beasts cows like bulls running
to land and women like warriors with white skin wild
hair whale eyes and dark stiff dresses. The horizon
churns brown. The woman in the house runs but
has no chance. The sand on the floor is not meant
for more than a pacing.

A girl in a green dress appears and dances into
a side door. The woman spins her around and steers
her out. This is no time for turning mother. The cows
have jumped the hills. The women ride on their
backs. They surround the house and call the woman
across the sand. They list her looks her eyes like
theirs her skin the same her hair an echo of
the speed that they can run. But her arms move
different waving loose like the women’s
hair and the cows’ tails.

The woman in the house gathers the men around
her the ones she never trusted the ones the hills
kept out before needing their protection. They run
to a room that rises higher than the dunes and higher
than the women astride their beasts. There are open
windows in the room. The men lean out and laugh
and push the woman ahead.

The women on the beasts beat their chests and cry
a word that the woman hears but doesn’t know. She
feels her face sharpening her body rising with a rush
of air and she starts to circle the sand hills. She chases
the men down the dunes to the lake to the beach
ravaged by the cows to the dung pits made by the beasts
while the women take the house and call the woman back
to come land on their hands.

The women stay on. The men never return. The woman
circles the land that used to be her home. She circles
most at sunset while the women watch her fly and
list her looks every time she turns to home. The beasts
prowl the dunes and watch the horizon. They have no
memory of the opposite side they only see
a sun burning the lake.





A smell is not a soul. If only it were
I would have made you my wife
made your scent my mate for life.

We kissed against the wet stone walls
me leaning into you you leaning into stone
your back suffering the jabs of rock
making dents vents for your coconut scent.

Put your arms around me the scent whispered.
Trust me it told me ghosting itself around me
haloing our embrace. But your mouth
your soft speaking mouth your clutching
tongue tasted of need.
It clashed with the cigarettes I’d swallowed
soured the beer I drowned every night.
…And I never could stand the smack
of a woman’s desperation.

When we made it to a bed made our bodies bare
I melted above your smell became a ghost
of a man haloed by your arms your legs
your lips. By the time we were done
your scent made my body soft
my pores opened wide as the wounds
in your back. My drowned man’s
aroma drunk man’s
corona beer sweat
and cigarettes
unholy trio
so unlike
your smell

I don’t blame you for being gone before morning.
You never could stand the smack
of a man’s desperation. You left
behind what I was after anyway. Your mouth
your soft clutching tongue your soul
your arms
your scent
a halo around me.




Rene OstbergRené Ostberg is a native Chicagoan who still resides in Illinois. She writes a blog with a travel theme called ‘Writing and Wayfaring’. Her writing and photography have been featured at Drunk Monkeys, Literary Orphans, Booma: The Bookmapping Project, Eunoia Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, We Said Go Travel, Rockwell’s Camera Phone, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog, among other places. You can read more of her work at reneostberg.wordpress.com.




Robin Wyatt Dunn poet

The Glowing Adventure

by Robin Wyatt Dunn


no hegemonic reserve
no final marker
no one and everyone
spent on the full valley
rhyming incessantly
pulled by the panther into the night
into our night

my night your night the night we fought:

but no matter
the light comes by the day
and the end, being closer,
grows sweeter,
your face more angry,
the light glowing:



Live at Five


the rest of the end of the world,
the best of the least known chests,
skippered lightly under your blouses
& My mouse houses a world
under my bed

Tell me,
Was it you

who whispered ghosts
into my unrest
and blessed
all of my past

without my realizing it?



strange horizons*


we tilt with the rhythm of the hymn
locked boards seizing
our ship like an animalcule in rain water
spinning underneath the sun.




Robin Wyatt DunnRobin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. He’s online at robindunn.com


*Previously published in 1947 journal.




Charlie Brice poet

Variations on a Buddha Shove

by Charles Brice


One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Below was another tiger. Desperate to save himself, he jumped, grabbed a vine, and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice, one black and one white, appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed a wild strawberry bush. He plucked a strawberry and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious! (traditional Zen story)


I. Sight

The man skids to the cliff’s ledge
After him   a tiger

He looks down
Another tiger on the canyon floor

He must jump
He jumps

Grasps a vine on the way down
Dangles on cliff’s edge

Two mice appear
One white
One black
Gnaw on the vine

Gnaw on the vine with truculence

The man spies a strawberry bush barely within reach
He grabs a strawberry
Eats it


II. Touch

Tiger-breath bakes his calves
Thighs simmer
Toes cramp against the ledge

Are his shoes too small?

Wind whips his body
Vine furrows bloody his palm
Thick and sticky

Rotator cuff tears   like a tooth yanked with plyers

Legs flail like a noosed man
He feels a tiger-breath chrysalis form around his body

Mice torture and twist
Like night
Like day

Pained strain for the strawberry

Tongue scrapes rough strawberry ridges
Teeth squeeze
Tingle tease

Sweet juice soulburst!

III. Sound

Paws pound the ground like bass drums
Bouncing tympani
Mothers of thunder

His wheezes asthma the forest floor


Toothy pre-crunch requiem
Ravenous roar

Wind buzz
Wind whirl

Hand-skin rips like a butcher’s slice
Rotator cuff pops like a firecracker in a beer can

Lips slurp sweet strawberry nectar
Tongue-suck jails the juice

His smile sounds like a smile!

IV. Smell

Olfactory offal terror reek
Predation musk
Perfume of prey

Acrid attar of lion-breath
Smell of blood



Torn flesh and vine stink

Strawberry scent

Aroma of here
Aroma of now!

V. Taste

Spitless tongue

Strawberry sugarburst

Sweet saliva syrup
A little tart   but in a good way

Palate of calm!

VI. Transcendence

His world lies in a hospital bed
Her face sweaty marble

She’s not going to make it

Every vein pulses
A tsunami of dread

He’s breathless

Death after him
Death waiting for him
For us all

He leaps



Days into nights into days into nights into days

Thick tongue mouth sear
Dangling between panic and despair

Forty years married he
Bends towards her face
The edge of peace

He kisses her lips



Ten Paintings by Matisse


1. The Open Window

iron bars

2. Blue Nude

aren’t they all

3. The Conversation

strictly one-sided

4. The Painter and His Model

were one and the same


5. Woman with a Hat

spits at Carole Maso

steals her cahier

6. Bathers with a Turtle

those motherfuckers

he was just a turtle

out for a swim

7. Beasts of the Sea

ask Churchill

8. The Music Lesson

slap my fingers again


9. Male Nude

age 27

they found water

in his lungs

10. Luxury, Calm, and Desire

set out the juice glass

watch the bees drown

we have time



Ten Jazz Standards


1. I Mean You

Don’t look around
I’m talkin’ to you

2. How Insensitive

On line all day
Hoping to get offended

3. Alone Together

You thought we were friends
We weren’t

4. A Child Is Born

Every time you open your mouth

5. Come Rain Or Come Shine

You are so predictable
Liver flukes are more interesting

6. Autumn Leaves

Why won’t you

7. Take The A Train

It’s for a-holes

8. Day Dream

Any dream
Is better than listening to you

9. In A Sentimental Mood

You hated sentimentality
Something no one will ever feel for you

10. How Deep Is The Ocean

Why don’t you jump in and find out?



Tarzan In Winter, 1955



Our living room in Cheyenne,
fifteen by ten, so large for my
five-year-old body. Two planters
at the far end of the room
filled with ivy and bougainvillea
a jungle where Tarzan protected
Jane and Boy from marauding natives,
lions, tigers, and English missionaries
who threatened with civilization
and school. In my planters
poison darts bounced off Tarzan’s chest
like tiny sticks, the natives falling to their knees
as he beat his breast in triumph.
In my jungle Tarzan tamed lions and
tigers, rode them like a rodeo cowboy;
chased missionaries who ran so fast
their safari hats flew off their heads.
Tarzan, Jane, and Boy used them for soup
bowls on cold nights in the Jungle.


The drums were loud that winter. Tarzan
held up his hand when Jane asked
what they said. It was important
to get it all. The drums said the white man
had made new suns that spread poison
clouds swarming over the land. Did the drums
tell Tarzan about my white count gone crazy,
about Sandy Risha who died of leukemia
when she was twelve; all those kids who fell like ions
out of mushroom clouds? Did he fear for Boy?


Tarzan watched my father wrap me
in a blanket – my ankles swollen again,
my throat sore again. They said I had Romantic
Fever. My dad’s hangover arms held me
to his scratchy face, his hands too unsteady
to shave. “It’ll be alright, Charlesy,” he said,
and carried me through the snow, to the car,
to the hospital, where nurses took my blood
every morning for six months, shoved a thermometer
up my behind every day, made me drink canned OJ,
and wouldn’t let me walk. In my five-year-old mind,
Tarzan waited for me with Jane and Boy
in my planters. He still repelled poison darts
and scared missionaries half to death.
I’d ride a lion through that hospital
one day, needles bouncing off my arms;
thermometers shooting out my butt. I’d scare
those nurses so badly their hats would fall off.
I’d tell Tarzan all about it.




Charlie BriceCharles W. Brice is a psychoanalyst and a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Icon, Xanadu, The Quotable, The Paterson Literary ReviewThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, SpitballBarbaric YawpThe Potomac, Shadow Road Quarterly, Wild Violet MagazineZ-Composition, Arsonzine, Bear River ReviewJerry Jazz Musician, and The Front Weekly. Honors: “Goodbye,” third place, 2012 Literary Life Bookstore Poetry Contest (Robert Fanning, judge); “What She Held – 1966,” Editor’s Choice, 2013 Allen Ginsburg Poetry Contest; “Michigan Icebreaker,” semifinalist, 2013 Bailey-Beads Poetry Contest, University of Pittsburgh. Charles was recently named an International Merit Award winner of the Atlanta Review’s 2015 International Poetry Competition.





Emily Strauss

Going on Vacation

by Emily Strauss


Not even a camera this time—
it broke the first day, no paints
or charcoals, anyway I can’t
draw, only a plain notebook
will I carry, the words
clarified enough to tell a truth.

Collecting photos is too heavy,
better these pages of memories,
dreams— ephemeral stuff
but sufficient to record visions
of terraced hills in mirror ponds
each blade of grass etched

under a gray sky like a Chinese scroll
with light patches of color
signifying whole mountains, a hint
of river in the foreground—
I try the same effect
with quick strokes of a pen.



The Sky Leaps to Light


The sky leaps to light
in fifteen minutes
at the Tropic of Capricorn

dawn slumbers but little as
housewives wake to tea,
fried noodles, tai chi

their face-washing towels
immersed and rubbed
gamely over puffy eyes.

Suddenly they discover
the day rising fast, the sky
already white, no idle ruby

build-up, no lingering
anticipation, it is there
in a moment, flaming

disk engulfing the narrow
streets through fog creeping
past the fishermen at sea.

Street lamps wink out like
hooded snakes, uniformed
children begin their parade

another morning devours
its young.




Emily StraussEmily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 250 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. The natural world is generally her framework; she also considers the stories of people and places around her and personal histories. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.






Jon Riccio poet


by Jon Riccio                                                                                                     

The revenue a chat room derives from a duodenum
and a stapled pouch,

a stomach’s subculture of gain, cleanse, loss
                                                in the bypass
gifted to me when I turned nineteen.

The buffets it wrested,
            the domain I registered,
all those ethers clamored around a meme,

            the social word-shit one types
“like my lap band”      “tweet my gout”
            streaming on alt-dot haunts.

My searchability full-blown, I’m a phoenix
gone gastric with more boyfriends than you
have optic nerves       and that’s Ohio alone.

Mother, I’ve macerated my tract,
the live feed of a chafing dish
less invasive than bariatric.

Father, meet Evan from Ashtabula.
He crowd-funded my flab,

one download from betrothed.




The writer wearing a mercurochrome corset
gives you a picture of half-eaten pie,
you inure a blood phobia,
the transitive inferred.

She sends the angel
with candy-wrapper wings.
The Rapture is a dinner bill, you
are its Andes mint. You jostle a trinity:

the abortion building
next to the Weight Watchers
near the Flapjack Shack,

rev the Z in Nazareth, smite its arcade.



Separate Recyclables


I am the nightmare of every environmentalist
turned conversion therapist
hoping to biodegrade
the gay away.

Woe to the zealot
who’s chained himself
to my landfill, its damnables
poking out of a cardboard pond,
diorama forsaken because I ran out of tape.

Each morning,
tribunals and a tin glade.

My handrail, on eulogy,
saying, “absence of rings kept me
beautiful, self-realization drained him alone.”




Jon RiccioJon Riccio studied viola performance at Oberlin College and the Cleveland Institute of Music. A recent Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Paper NautilusQwerty,RedividerCutBank OnlineWaxwing and Switchback, among others. An MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, he resides in Tucson.


Rockoff Lizut

April Fool

by Sandra Rokoff-Lizut


Why did I believe
our milkman
was leading a cow
down our city street that spring morning

First, weird things
happen. (After all,
it was 1971 in Santa Fe).

Second, we had our milk
delivered then, by a local dairy—
glass-bottled, cream-topped, unpasteurized.

Third, my ex-husband
was absolutely convincing.
I never doubted a thing he told me.




On Pollywog Pond


The young girl’s ankles
bend to greet each other.

Red nose drips
colt-legs wobble
mittened hands pose
to hold ice at bay.

Lips and cheeks chap
toes loose ability to twinkle.

But her mind glides,
spins, jumps,
stops so fast
silver blades spit shavings.




As Oregon winter begins


autumn weeps
its last leaves
on dark dank

bare limbs
their vulnerability

grey sheets
in an
of rain drops




Sandra Rokoff-LizutSandra Rokoff-Lizut, retired educator and children’s book author (published by Macmillan, Holt Reinhart & Winston, and Hallmark Inc.), is currently both a printmaker and poet. She is a member of Oregon Poetry Association and first place award winner in their Spring 2014 contest, Mary’s Peak Poets, Poetic License, Gertrude’s, and a weekly writing salon. Rokoff-Lizut volunteers by teaching poetry to middle-schoolers at the Boys and Girls Club in Corvallis. She also studied poetry through OSU as well as at Sitka and Centrum. Previous publications include Illya’s Honey, The Bicycle Review, Wilderness House Review, The Penwood Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Verseweavers.





Marina Carreira poet

Capela da Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos

by Marina Carreira


Here on my side of the ocean, the mist
is a mantle of woolen smoke around the cliff
so many women have jumped from. I walk

steadily to the old chapel so many fisherwomen
have prayed in for the return of their husbands,
but I’m not here to pray. I stand and bear witness

to the crumbling blue and white tiles that form
the Blessed Mother of the Afflicted, the saint
of women plagued by fear and famine, phantasms

of both the mind and the body. No one knows I’m here
to plead for my mind back, for the return of the brain
that belonged to a woman who feared nothing.

To the kneeling woman on my left and the two
to my right, I am nothing more than an overwhelmed
tourist who forgot her camera but doesn’t care.

Rain is coming, and that is one less thing to get wet.
Later, on your side of the ocean, you tell me
about the sweltering heat of mid-afternoon in Newark:

It’s murder out here, even the sparrows stick
to the bark of the cherry blossoms to stay cool.
And we all know how they love to fly, so imagine.





Requiem for the Heart


Tiny purple gris-gris bags,
swimming in circles in my chicken soup.
I pick them out
and lay them lifeless
on the side of my plate.

The 4×4 cut-out
cards I exchanged with only girls
in my 5th grade class on Valentine’s day
now boxed
in my mother’s unfinished basement.

That pink birthmark,
a wet kiss on your lower back
hip. Your father has the very same
one he covers up every day
with Wranglers.

Hanging off the gold necklace
he gave me the Christmas after
we lost our virginities,
in it, our picture:
eighteen, unwounded, wide-smiling.

What my grandmother says
men are good at
eating. Easy like oranges,
their teeth slowly separating
each chamber.





En Route to Montreal, on Our Anniversary


  1. 5:36am

Day breaks slowly over the Catskills,
tree trunks scissoring the light.

White and wide as whale teeth,
lines divide us

from other cars on the Thruway.
I’m some spare part

of rib – rheumy-eyed, documenting
all my grandmother would call madness.



  1. 5:36 pm

We stop at Betty Beaver’s Diner
in Lewis. The heavy-lidded waitress serves us

bread and eggs as curry yellow
as the afternoon sun

breaking through the window’s grease.
Home feels four thousand miles away,

and it’s been nine lives since I overheard you
say Marriage is overrated.




Marina CarreiraMarina Carreira is a Luso-American writer from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ. She holds a BA in English from Montclair State University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Marina is an adjunct professor of English at Essex County College and a correspondent for the Luso-Americano newspaper. She is curator and co-host of “Brick City Speaks”, a monthly reading series at Hell’s Kitchen Lounge in Newark, NJ. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The Acentos Review, Naugatuck River Review, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora: An Anthology, and Paterson Literary Review.





Spent Grains

by Kent Kosack


Once it was salvation, that

First cold sip, the bitter notes.

So bitter!

The malty sweetness.

The bubbles in my nose.

The sun playing across the

Lot, shimmering with heat,

The empty chairs, the

Barrels of spent grains.

Once it was just so.

Then, things went astringent.

Bad end notes.

So bitter.

The way you stormed out,

Theatrical, past the grains,


So bitter.



The attic


Youth is what you loved.

Yourself too. And maybe the

Margaritas we used to drink

Naked and close, in front of

An old air conditioner. Our

Own world, that patch of

Cold in an otherwise

Sweltering attic.



Your hair


Close-cropped it falls,

Thick and full and defiant,

Escaping through my greedy,

Searching fingers.

No one likes






Barreling down the hill towards (a job, I’ll say it, but who cares? It’s not me. It’s life in the cracks that counts) downtown, a piston, Barry Allen, a demi-god.

Yelling, straining more with the song of it than anything else, a half-remembered tune (from the Muppets?) humming inside me somewhere.

Approaching now, the road narrowing, options narrowing. The winnowing of a day. I, the chaff. And silence. Waste. A day-long suffocation.

Stepping heavily up each stair. Each. Stair. A change in atmosphere. Pounds of pressure per square inch, pressing, bearing down. Like astronauts in training.

Astonishing. A vast wonder. Lost in it. You can hear it—or not. What is it? (a tether to an unseen weight) All about, the void.




Kent Kosack teaches English and writes poetry and prose. He lives in Seattle.





Ain’t Got No

by Claudia Putnam


In grade three Scotty said I ain’t got no
lunch money. We were delighted.
We crowed, That means you do.
If you don’t have none, then you have
some. Mrs. Cole, otherwise kind,

had just taught us the double negative.
But Scotty, one of those kids always
moving, dirty, in trouble, starved for food,
kisses, laughter, anything and everything,
still had no money for lunch.

Some languages would let Scotty
have his doubled poverty. Russian,
for instance, negates everything.
U nevo ne bylo nichevo. Literally:
In his possession nothing of anything wasn’t.

U nevo is interesting. With him, beside him,
near him, in his possession, in his situation,
in his position, he is characterized by.
Most common English translation: he has.
U nevo nichevo. He has nothing.

English gathers round Scotty, jeering.
Don’t you know how to talk? Haven’t
you learned anything? Can’t you think?
Russian isn’t concerned with that logic.
Russian is concerned with nyet.

Nikovo nikogda nigde nichevo ne bylo.
No one never nowhere nothing was not.
A person with no lunch money could say,
U menya nichevo, ni deneg, ni obeda.
I am characterized by nothing,

nothing of money, nothing of lunch.



This Isn’t Really Happening


My black bird was bigger,
my mountains were burning.
The snows stopped coming

sometime around 1999. The wells
dried. The shower sputtering
with soap in my hair

so I was always late. That tame crow
someone set loose spying
through the skylight, jeering.

How many ways is that? Each year
the river running thinner,
fleeing its shrinking glacier.

The Arapaho said the thunderbird,
black as any bird
gets, lived just west of here.

Someone must have seen it,
the day it flapped away.
We don’t get regular afternoon

stunners the way we used to.
You could set your heart on
those 2 PM monsoons. Biblical

lightning, all that water. Now: rusting
Ponderosas, centuries old,
disrobing. All good things

must end. Perhaps nightmares
also end. Not perhaps
in our lifetimes.

Poor lost crow, these are not
the best of times
to be falling asleep.




A few months with other women,
a woman bleeds.

Ten years’ time, a woman synchronizes
with her man.

Over thousands of miles, your arousal
brings my body astir.

Men make movies, you said—now they loop
through my head.

Golden locks on our dark headboard,
naked ass raised.

If I were making this up, I’d be watching you
both; the camera’s on her.

Your currents churn through my body;
don’t think I don’t know.





Claudia Putnam’s work appears in I-70 Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Literary Mama, Barrow Street, Artful Dodge, Cimarron Review, Confrontation, and in many other journals. A chapbook, Wild Thing in Our Known World, came out last year from Finishing Line and is available from Finishing Line Press and on Amazon. In 2011-12, she had the George Bennett Fellowship. In 2015, she’ll be at Kimmel Harding Nelson. www.claudiaputnam.com

Kelly Thompson poet


by Kelly Thompson


My mother always said
(Giving me a look)
“You’re just like my mother.”

I see Grandmother’s ghost
In the corner of my eye
At the supermarket again today
Rounding the bend of an aisle, she
Pushes her shopping cart in rage
Her wet heart calls – Escape! I follow her
Path among the produce; she steals a grapefruit
Offers me an illicit berry – “Here take it”

Mother washes a dish, sighs
“My mother was not domestic.”
Dries a plate, “You should never get married.”

Back at the supermarket, Grandmother runs, crazy
Through the aisle, throws jars of pickles, relish, capers
Crashing to the floor. She screams, “No more!”
I bend down among the vinegar, the rolling
Olives, pick up the red pimientos.

“You’re just like my mother,” she would say.
My mother, dusting the piano, looking off
In the distance, wistful.

The chill air prickles my arms, sleeveless
The condiment shelves empty, price tags
Intact as if to remind us of the cost
All the jars
Smashed – ketchup and mustard, salad oil, peppers –

Grandmother and I bend
Reaching for the same jagged shard of glass
Her eyes my mirror, I kneel
Before the shadow of her early death
Her aborted



Denver is the capital city of Colorado. My heart is the capital of a small frozen pond.

All of the “Beulah red” marble in the world went into the Capitol. It cannot be replaced.

Flower – Rocky Mountain Columbine (1899)

Left on my porch in Blue Jay, California for my 42nd birthday.

Colorado was admitted to the Union August 1, 1876. I was admitted to schools, hospitals, psych wards.

Tree – Colorado blue spruce (1939)

Hunkered down in Alaska, blue spruce between me and the neighbor.

Colo. is the abbreviation for the state. My mind abbreviated by grief.

Bird – Lark Bunting (1931)

Sorrow my sparrow, as soon as I left: a murder of crow, a kindness of raven.

The area of Colorado covers 104100 square miles. Circles I made in the snow.

Animal – Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (1961)

Exposed on the cliffs the day I got up from the table. The world’s largest flat-top mountain is in Grand Mesa.

Colorado was the 38th State to be admitted to the Union. I admitted, at last, only to failure.

Gemstone – Aquamarine (1971)

At the western base of this ancient chain of granite peaks was once an inland sea. Still,
I kept trying to get out of the boat.

The three largest Cities in Colorado are Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora. Minus 47 murdered in Denver.

Colors – Blue and White (1911)

I said yes to the stretched out hand and walked on water.

The Colorado State Motto is “Nil sine Numine,” translated as “Nothing without Providence”
And just it is that I should pay the rent.

Song – “Where the Columbines Grow” (1915)

I shall already have forgotten you when the river runs red.



Shape of a Song


Who stole it from me father?
Fear of the water is inborn in some.
Your great-grandmother was a witch. You’re just like her.
Her power lay in the words she controlled. She had a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, a murder Of crows.

Father said she read his fortune in tea leaves but when she looked into Gene’s cup she turned, Refused to tell.   She wanted a pair of silver shoes.
It’s a gift, she told him. You’d have to sell your ____ to the devil.
But even she was afraid of the dark.

The witch’s daughter told the great-grand-daughter how it would be. She sang her into the shape Of a song.
She lived so long that a little girl could outwit her.
Father would not spill the water though the creek ran high.
The Wicked Witch of the West was destroyed by water.

The place we would step into the current will not come again.
But first, she starved the Cowardly Lion.
In the wagon they carried their most prized possessions, a guitar and a fiddle.
The witch’s daughter rode shoeless.

The witch foretold that men would land on the moon.
She saw the writing on the wall.
She named their firstborn but they declined the gift.
They preferred a new rhythm.

In time and space, they gave their children something blotted, blank, something human,
Where before, a melting witch lay steaming on the floor.
Father, said the daughter, I still carry her bequest.
The remnants of fires lay banked around them.

You were born without a ____, he said. Consequent bastard, he said.
The silver shoes I have thrown in the ocean.




Kelly ThompsonKelly Thompson’s writing has been published in 49 Writers, Manifest Station, Metrosphere, Limp Wrist, and Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. She has won awards for her poetry from Writer’s Digest and was awarded funding to attend Key West Literary Seminar based on her short fiction. She is currently working on a memoir entitled Oh Darling Girl. Just as the narrator gets sober, one of her two barely adolescent daughters descends into addiction and rebels against her mother’s new found lifestyle of recovery. As the narrator struggles to save her daughter and face down a transgenerational legacy of violence, addiction, and shame, the lives of grandchildren hang in the balance and heartbreaking choices must be made. Kelly is also currently working on a chapbook of poetry focused on the themes of ancestry, transgenerational trauma, and legacy. Besides writing, Kelly is a psychotherapist who primarily works with soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families. Kelly lives in Denver, Colorado, in the sunshine of the spirit. You can follow her on Twitter @stareenite.


Selections from 555

by John Lowther



You know, this stuff you put four drops in a pot with boiling water and feel like a koala bear goin’ wild on drugs.
And even more starkly, there’s a very clear trend in the data, where each step up in waiting time results in a higher risk of death.
It all looks more than a bit scruffy; there is nothing along the road to soothe the eye, no riots of flowers to cheer the heart.

I get off where thought addresses the unthought and articulates itself upon it.
The occasionalist argues that all events are radically independent of one another.


Only through communism can we come to experience our bodies again.
Despite the title this is not about finding your soul mate.
The preamble explains why this matters and where this is going.
This is non-reg, but the cops have better shit to worry about, especially when it doesn’t impact the corporati.
Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate.
Frosties are just corn flakes for people who can’t face reality.
If the tweetstorm is right, this is a pretty grim situation.
The ego is the theology of free enterprise.
All theory of knowledge has sexual connotations.


I welcome the dead into my soul.

It uses many of the genre tropes, little kid, estranged family, nobody who believes, creepy house in the woods.
The world is its own best model.
The problem with all of my dreams is that I don’t speak the language.
Here’s some Swiss cheese and some bullets.
Don’t fall in love with yourselves, with the nice time we are having here.
It’s a fast-paced sci-fi trip.
The ride to complete the loop from the mine was on a diesel engine, which blew out lots of debris.

But what about those things out there.


A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
They were too close to the door to close it.
In the back seat was a fur coat, and in the street was blood mixed with car fluid, nail polish, lip gloss, baby booties, a toy piano, condoms, and a collection of music on compact disc by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Vacuous suavity remains the abiding deficiency of self-consciously ‘good’ writing.
One is always responsible for one’s position as a subject.
Thus, by building robots, our intention is to learn something about intelligence, and not so much to build technologically sophisticated robots.


Judging from your pictures, you hate facts like poison.
The wind tunnel tells them all the same thing.
Sometimes I text myself a little pick me up.
I like knitted hats and I like vinyl records.
This is the traditional modus operandi of the sophist.
Without judgment, because it is judgment that defeats us.
Please try to stop shaking now and just breathe.
Don’t ever be yourself, it’s the kiss of death.
Let’s talk about spout fluid beds, fundamentals and applications.

Desire is the crucible within which the self is formed.
If you’re on board you’re on board all the way.




John LowtherJohn Lowther’s work appears in the Atlanta Poets Group’s anthology, The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and in Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young is forthcoming from Lavender Ink in 2015. John also works in video, photography, paint, performance and other mediums as the need arises. He’s writing a dissertation to reimagine psychoanalysis had intersex and transgender lives been taken as foundational for understanding subjective possibility. He blogs as Lowtherpoet at WordPress.




Where Erasers and Wastebaskets and I Am Kept

by Gerard Sarnat


I work for two desks.

One overlooks the sea, the other the forest.

The former is Lucite. Uncluttered. It’s all about open water.

The latter’s socked in by zealous woods plus sentimental photo fog.

On holidays overlords undo my chains, force me to go outdoors.




gerard SarnatGerard Sarnat is the author of three collections, 2010’s HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man, 2012’s Disputes, and September 2014’s 17s. He is now working on Patriarchs. Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and a Stanford professor. For Huffington Post reviews, future reading dates and more, visit Gerard Sarnat.com. His books are available at select bookstores and on Amazon.