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poetry

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This Road Has Clearly Been on a Bender

by Marcella Benton

 

a flock of spandex cyclists take the unexpecting road like fighter jets

a blunt contrast to the rickety wheeled meth head
twitching towards them

cars oink by
quaking over that too thin white line
quivering to devour them all

because this road
has clearly
been on a bender

cars can barely hang on
as it jokes and chokes the hillside

with corn stalking the banks
wishing it was a river or the seaside in summer

just at the right time of day
when the sun and the moon shine down together like a cross-eyed girl

 

 

Hibernation

 

hibernation today
stuck in the warm fluffed bed
wreathed by domesticats and dogs snoring

made a sandwich of myself
I will live off the stored fat
until there is nothing but crumbs

the purrrrr of the skin and bone feline
king of the mountain

syncopates with the rumble of cars
patting down the street
rat a tat tapping my windows

unopened books and a revolver on the nightstand

not enough blanket to cover my cold feet

 

 

A Ghost in the Kitchen

 

I thought I heard you in the kitchen
running water dirty feet

saw the tip of a head above the door behind me
reflection of someone riding a bike in the hall mirror

must be the ghost you insisted we had

dog toys rolling uphill
the cat staring down the corner
but where are you now

maybe you just could see the future

so who is haunting who…

running each other over every day
sandwiched like a mack truck

maybe we made it
but no

no death comes early for the poor man
with a wink and a nudge

and vultures don’t give a shit

 

 

Whiffs of Nostalgia

 

we pass yawns back and forth
almost as intimate as french kisses on the porch swing

catching whiffs of nostalgia

of him
needling into that summer dress

and I was such a good girl
sit lay roll over

play dead
it’ll be over soon

 

 

Spring

 

so lily livered
swallowing poppies like candy

staining the grass with her perennial gardens

glads winking at her nose
changing her diaphanous mind
quicker than a soiled diaper

a little too late for the wrist cut roses
trickling warm and salty over her cuticles

telling her to replant before someone else does

 

 

BIO

Marcella Benton lives in Lakeland, FloridaMarcella Benton, with her husband and pets. She and her husband own and operate a screen printing and embroidery company, Whatever Tees.

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empty streets

Domenic James Scopa

Empty Streets…

by Bakhyt Kenzheev

 

Empty streets, deep gaps beneath the doors.
The autumn world is cool and fleshless.

The forty-year old poplar above my head
still rustles with its tinfoil foliage.

Its owner, by next summer, is bound
to saw it down—so it doesn’t block the sun,

so it doesn’t rustle, doesn’t sing above me,
doesn’t wreck the pavement with its roots,

and you can’t breathe deep enough—but want to—
of even the September bitterness, the final feeble sun…

 

 

Willow

by Anna Akhmatova

 

I was raised in checkered silence,
in the chilly nursery of the young century.
The voice of man was harsh−
it was the wind whose words were dearest to me.
I cherished burdocks and nettles−
most of all the silver willow.
And, gratefully, it lived
with me all my life, its weeping branches
fanning my insomnia with dreams.
−Strangely−I outlived it.
Out there a stump stands, and other willows
speak with foreign voices
beneath our skies.
And I am silent…as though a brother has died.

 

 

Someone Is Beating a Woman

by Andrei Voznesensky

 

Someone is beating a woman
in a car so hot and dark
only the whites of her eyes shine.
Her feet batter the roof
like berserk searchlight beams.

Someone is beating a woman.
The way that slaves are beaten.
Beautifully whimpering,
she yanks open the door and drops
                                    onto the road.

Brakes squeal.
Someone races towards her,
flogs her, drags her
face down in the stinging nettles…

Scumbag, how deliberately he beats her,
Stilyaga, bastard, tough guy,
his dashing shoes, as slender as a flatiron,
stabbing into her ribs.

Such are the pleasures of rebel soldiers,
the delights of peasants…
Somewhere, stamping under moonlit grasses,
someone is beating a woman.

Someone is beating a woman.
Century on century, no end in sight.
It’s the young that suffer this. Somberly
our wedding bells stir up alarm.
Someone is beating a woman.

And what is with the blazing welts?
Last-minute slaps?
That’s life, you say—how so?—
someone is beatin a woman.

But her light is steadfast,
death-defying and divine.
Religions—no,
                        revelations—no.
There are
                        women.

She lays there placid like a lake,
her eyes tear-swollen,
yet still, she doesn’t belong to him
any more than the stars to the sky.

And the stars? They’re pounding
like raindrops on black glass.
Slipping down
they cool
her grief-fevered forehead.

 

 

The Cemetery

by Miguel Hernandez

 

The cemetery lies close
where you and I are sleeping
among blue prickly pears,
blue ancient-plants and children
screaming full of life
if a dead body darkens the road.

From here to the cemetery everything
is blue   golden   crystal clear.
Four steps   and the dead.
Four steps   and the living.

Crystal clear   blue   and golden,
my son, out there, seems far away.

 

 

BIO

Domenic James Scopa is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Johnson Poetry Prize and Garvin Tate Merit Scholarship. His work was selected in a contest hosted by Missouri State University Press to be included in their anthology Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, volume 3. He is a student of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program, where he studies poetry and translation. He is also a staff writer for the literary journal Verse-Virtual, a book reviewer for Misfit Magazine, and a professor of literature at Changing Lives Through Literature. His poetry and translations have been featured in Reunion: the Dallas Review, here/there: poetry, Touchstone Magazine, The Bayou Review, Three and a Half Point 9, The Mas Tequila Review, Coe Review, Cardinal Sins, Boston Thought, Howl, Misfit Magazine, Poetry Pacific, Untitled with Passengers, Gravel, Crack the Spine, Stone Highway Review, Apeiron Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Literature Today, Tell Us a Story, Verse-Virtual, Malpais Review, Les Amuses-Bouches, Shout Out UK, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, Sediments, Birds We Piled Loosely, and Empty Sink Publishing.

 

 

 

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Images for Inga

by Kjell Nykvist

after Richard Aldington

 

I.

Ice encased the rosebushes—
The frozen flowers’ colors
Like fluorescent fish
In cloudy water.

 

II.

The elk at the water’s edge,
Massive and horned and red,
Look back at the towering limestone
Adorned with lodgepole pines.
The highest of the green needles,
We think, seem to scratch
The azure sky. To this mountain
Of green and grey, the elk are like
Red sparks from a distant fire.
And we are even smaller—like
White specks floating in a cave
Filled with water.

 

III.

Seeing you there—blue on blue—
Your feet in the warm Adriatic
Is the licking of a pleasure-tongue
Inside my sleepy head.

 

IV.

The merry completion of anticipation is
An empire of catkins sending
Dreaming gleaming grains
Across tender fields.

 

V.

Fears from the past, at last, vanish
Like a swirl of angry blackbirds:
All that remains of self-loathing
Can fit inside a pyx.

 

VI.

The thinking of strange thoughts, and with a loss of words:
Faint shapes in a faded tapestry, on fire.

 

VII.

The darkness deflected merely by candlelight.
The scent of satiety. On a table,
The cool wetness of empty shellfish,
Bread crumbs, the remains of asparagus,
Two punch bowls of chardonnay.
In the background, a melodic web
Of Otis Redding. Close your eyes,
My dear, and you become Otis, singing.

 

VIII.

To a child of winter, the cattails of heat.
To a child of summer, a barrage of ice.
To a child of fall, a pint of pollen.
To a child of spring, a cup of colored leaves.

 

IX.

The rain falls round the patio
In clear lines ending in clear starbursts.
Here is a crystal architecture
Where what is built was never fully designed,
Where what is designed can never be built.


 

Melting Into Portraiture

 

The sun perches
On creamy clouds. The day
Through the oaks makes
An adagio. There’s the
Happiness of honeysuckle.
There’s mint. Birds skip about
And thoughts coalesce.

The mind drifts
On the eyes’ sea until
There’s a soft rupture:

Light yellow bleeds through
Fluffy white, pale blue
Descends on green leaves,
Everything moves more,
Moves more in a sudden breeze.

In my eyes and
Through the breeze

A woman stirs
On a green knoll, her flesh
Fusing with a shower
Of shadows sprayed onto
The ground by the oaks.
Her hair dances round her.
I can see

The amber of her eyes
When she stares back.

It’s a subtle refinement of nature,
The ability to shift, to sway,
To change eternally, to tower above
The mind and eyes, only to shrink
Into grains of thought.

And this new woman,
In the wind and sun-play,
Like the land itself,
Shifts and sways too.
As do I.

We each adopt the attributes
Cast upon us by the other. We each
Consent to the other’s vision.
If joined as one
We’d be a kaleidoscope revealing
A thousand moving shapes
Through a single lens.


 

What is Poetry?

after John Ashbery

 

A Melanesian girl, in Sami clothing,
On the road to Dushanbe? The glissandi

Of birdsongs, how they’re draped in carmine?
Lake Louise? Or this striving

Towards something? Something
Arcane? Though we plead

To know it and clarity too? Will no one
Envisage the different visions

We have envisaged? Perhaps
They will. But it’s all been shattered

Like a fish bowl striking wooden floors,
The wooden shelving having collapsed.

So what? Will an empire of palm leaves
Still fill the vision of she who sees?

 

 

BIO

NykvistKjell Nykvist was born in Kalmar, Småland, Sweden, but grew up in Butte, Montana. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in Museum Studies from Baylor University. Kjell is currently a museum curator in Houston, Texas. He recently married his long-time love, Inga Stefánsdóttir, who is a harpsichordist. Kjell’s work has appeared in such publications as Poetry Super Highway, La Noria Literary Journal, The Deronda Review, and Asinine Poetry, as well as in several American and Canadian anthologies. (Kjell Nykvist is a heteronym of Bryan Damien Nichols, who writes his poetry through Kjell, and another heteronym, Alexander Shacklebury. Kjell and Alexander’s debut collection of poems, Whispers From Within, will be published later this year by Sarah Book Publishing, a small, independent Texas press.)

 

 

 

 

 

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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
before
your tongue
catches mine.
I told you I’m allergic to pollen.

 

 

Greensleeves

 

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
pebbles

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

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Tableau

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.

 

Betrayer

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.

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

TEOTWAWKI

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.

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

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Michael Brownstein

REHABBING THE HOUSE

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.

 

 

A VISIT TO THE ZOO

 

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.

 

 

WHEN THE CAR BROKE DOWN

 

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

 

 

A REGISTER FOR LIFE

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
            die
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.

 

 

 

BIO

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).

 

 

 

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Jon Riccio poet

Streaming

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.


 

Prompt

 

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.”

 

 

BIO

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.

 

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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
afternoons

bare limbs
bravely
bare
their vulnerability

grey sheets
unravel
in an
unfailing
cacophony
of rain drops

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

 

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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,

Spent.

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

Goodbyes.

 

 

Commute

 

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.

 

 

BIO

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

 

 

 

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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.


 

Sync

 

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.

 

 

 

BIO

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

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Kelly Thompson poet

Legacy

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
Passion.


 

Colorado

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.

 

 

BIO

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.

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Lowther

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.

 

 

BIO

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.

 

 

0

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.

 

 

BIO

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.

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Loneliness Grows Stranger the Larger It Becomes

by Colin Dodds

 

We brought food to their lips. But they would not eat.
We implored them with prayer and self-flagellation.
But they would not be moved.
We blasphemed to the limits of our imaginations.
But they would not raise their hands or voices against us.

Still we fed, praised and cursed them.
Until, with an atom bomb to deflect creation’s question,
we left that home.

 

 

 

 

Secrets of the Modern Race

 

My tribe held a gun
to the head of the world,
only to learn
that you can’t just laugh off
something like that.

Babies find it strange
to be born among us.

The TVs fill with fantasies
about institutionalized cannibalism.

And even the billboards concede
that the primordial trust has been broken
in the worst possible way.

The shape of that catastrophe
worry the men all day
and give them erections at night.

“How are we supposed
to get excited, to glow,
unless people are maimed and killed?”
asks everyone, in or near a movie, now showing
all the time.

The ancient processes are short-circuited.
Certain extreme measures unveil themselves.

The urgent center expands,
takes the newspaper as its skin.

 

 

 

 

Room Without End

 

The endless room flickers.
Its lightning is line charts and its thunder is poverty.

The endless room makes men and women
equivocal as anthropologists’ apologists,
even in the privacy of their own hearts.

You can do alright here for awhile.
But you’ll never beat the dead man in charge.

 

 

 

BIO

Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred fifty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Dodds is also the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com

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