A Cup of Peppermint Tea

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Contributor: Arlene Antoinette

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All cried out, we stood in a semi-circle
around mother’s hospital bed. Aunt
Lizzy and Uncle George with heads bowed, my
sister and I held hands; my father cradled
mom as she drew her last breath. Heartbreak
made statues of us, each one afraid to move
and disturb the stillness of her passing.

Documents signed, basic arrangements made,
we walked to the car; zombies dressed in our
Sunday best. The quiet of nature causing the weight
of the moment to almost break shoulders and wills.
Distant now the memories of earlier today
when we gathered in the kitchen, a surprise birthday
brunch in honor of my uncle.

It took twenty minutes for dad to start
the car, my sister and I almost leaping out
of our seats, shocked by the sudden roar of the
engine breaking through thoughts and tears.
On the radio, Billy Joel sang out that only the good
die young. No one had the strength to reach
out and change the station or maybe the sudden
truth of the lyrics rendered us paralyzed.
The ride home was a practice in endurance;
screams and moaning withheld.

Entering the house, mom called out to us from
every room: Her rose print scarf carelessly
dropped on the living room sofa. Her Italian
sandals with the broken strap, wedged between
the china cabinet and grand-father clock. In
the kitchen a checkered teacup still held half
a cup of her favorite peppermint tea.

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Arlene writes poetry, flash fiction and song lyrics. She writes while looking out onto a backyard garden which she is growing very fond of.


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Contributor: Todd Mercer

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Class of 2019, you’ve put in 4 to 6 hard years of scholarship.
Today when you leave this university, it’s your time to soar!
But not too high or anything. That, young friends, is dangerous.
The results are unpredictable. So yes, soar, briefly. You’ll know
what flying feels like. But then find a safe landing field,
and stay on the ground. If you must, soar on holidays,
a few yards should be sufficient. Let’s not get crazy
and crack our newly educated noggins, because
we didn’t have the sense to wrap up a soaring session.
The world you graduates are going out into is busy
and ever-changing. Keep as much the same as possible.
I do. It obviously works for me, and my many businesses.
Don’t waste thought wondering if we can reform
our institutions. Those who go along with the current system
do the best and bang their heads least. The Complaints Box
empties into the trash receptacle. No, no one reads them,
there’s no action following. Welcome to reality!
Kids, I’m here to save you needless strife. Sure thing,
climb the tallest mountain, since it’s there in front of you.
If you wish to glide from the peak, glide. Soar a second,
but then catch a ledge. Get yourself to safety
and then file that day away. A nice memory.
Let some undisciplined nabob fly into the sun.
Tomorrow you’ll have to work. Hit the grind.
Congratulations, grads! Celebrate briefly.

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Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net by in 2018. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: A New Ulster, Clementine Unbound, The Lake, and Star 82 Review.

A Slow Walk To Nowhere

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

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A slow walk to nowhere
A metaphor for life
Hills and valleys flatten
Amid the daily strife

Of drifting ever onward
The ending never clear
If today or if tomorrow
The last hurrah is here

Like walking the dog through raindrops
Pellets of water coating my head
Sniffing the ground for nothing
Or something being dead

Longing for resolution
Holding hands again
Yesterday’s tomorrows
In bed with us and then

Turning off the faucet
Of guilt and pain gone by
A chance that’s barely taken
Happiness worth the try

A faster walk to somewhere
Only the future knows
A happy life together
A restful night’s repose

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Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty-five books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

Learn Together

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Contributor: JD DeHart

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Out on the lapping motion
of a summer lake, the teacher
spins another dream.

He’s where I learned about
Friere. And so many other names.

Reader of books, one who studies,
innovates, he presses forward
for fear of stagnation. Makes, creates.

Years ago, he might have been
something like a hippie, shaggy-haired
boatman with no need for a necktie.

Now, he is inviting: Let’s learn together,
soft voice, setting a stage in a room
on land or in this glistening ride.

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My book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, has recently been published by Dreaming Big Publications.

Low Tide

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Contributor: JL Smith

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Salt filled air,
heavy with humidity,
holding it all together,
like a water heater blanket.

My composure firm,
as long as the seagulls’ cries
don’t remind me of tears,
dead starfish,
how one decision could have such a fatal cost,
how a lifeless jellyfish could foretell
a future of one who stayed too long
in the wrong place.

I stand in silence
waiting for you
and the high tide
to sweep it all away.

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JL Smith lives in Odenton, MD. She is the author of two books of poetry, Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments, Weathered Souls.

How Lonely We Get

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Contributor: Brian Rihlmann

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On the sidewalk
a skinny, shirtless man
with matted black hair
dances with a blanket.

He holds it aloft
like a partner
as he shuffles and swings,
then twirls it
over his head,
around his body, criss-cross
like a fighting staff.

He hurls it to the ground,
jumps and stomps on it,
then drags it in circles,
before scooping it up,
draping it over his head
like a monk's robe.

A lover, partner,
enemy and friend,
it shadows him
in stained olive drab
as he roams the city.

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Almost There

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Contributor: Jane Briganti

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Am I almost "there"?
Is "there" an indication of personal success?
A win, a triumph, a place I must reach before a certain age
A point in time I will remember forever
Will I know when I've reached "there"?
Is it victorious,
The pinnacle
A culmination of a life's journey
Am I "there" yet?
The internal question I can't escape
A silent pressure to obtain status
What if I never reach "there"?
Am I a failure,
Will my existence be incomplete?
Perhaps "there" is nothing more then an illusion
never to be reached
Moving forward I contemplate;
Am I so far from "there"
that I don't know where "there" is?

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A Native New Yorker, her poetry expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

I'm Still Here

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Contributor: Marc Barcelos

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You’re gone now,
leaving behind only sorrow,
stealing away memories
we can no longer create.

You abandoned me
in the dark of my mind
to face the grim questions
which I dare not to ask.

You stole from me
dreams of our future,
as you took from yourself
what was not yours to take.

You impelled me
to realize that life
is a fragile blessing
many never truly appreciate.

You taught me
to hold onto those I love,
for we never know
who’s turn it may be next.

I’m still here,
left not only with sorrow
but also with an awareness
of life's irreplaceable worth.

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Marc Barcelos is a certified band nerd. As one of the few people who obsesses over competitive marching bands tirelessly, it is impossible for him to deny this title. This claim is rivaled only by his self-proclaimed title as Back to the Future enthusiast, as he has seen all three movies 32 times and has memorized every single scene.


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Contributor: Jonah Carlson

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East of Hanoi, tombs of the nameless sprout.
They are weeds in a low field, stable
relics, signs of blades and lines paved
through fields trot still by strengthened soles.
They are dull memories, ones which fade like
the green colors of spring due at summer’s day.
I am only a June breeze who,
like the blessings of harvest, will be reaped—
yet I often wish not to have blown.
Suicide is not to be glorified
yet there are times I plead for the rest
born during the rainy season,
the mists of days run cold.
Why is it so hard to breathe if I am the wind?
They stand wielding astral wires,
chaining me to being. They are
untouched by the common scythes of life,
known, yet dismissed in a single breath.
They are my finale, a boneless movement
which sleeps in the haze of year’s end, calling.
They beg me not to fear, instead
to open my mouth and take life by the reins
“One day—someday—there will be rest.”

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Jonah Carlson is a seventeen-year-old student attending Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. He will be a captain of the school's swim team during the 2019-2020 season and is planning on graduating in 2020. He hopes to pursue fields such as art, history, and creative writing during his college years.


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