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Contributor: Maddison Scott

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Why do I cradle
so much hope
in the withered hands
of a

Why do I feed those
rotting teeth
as would a man on
his wife's

Why don't I
the hurdling notion
that I don't even

- - -
Maddison Scott is the author of numerous unwritten novels and can often be found running marathons… of the TV-watching variety. She lives on a big island.

Black Friday

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Contributor: Ruth Z Deming

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I hope this last day of November
finds you well
Once the body learns how to make
cancer cells, her oncologist told her,
they look for hidden opportunities.
There’s no going back.
Like a child learning to read.

If only the abnormal cells were on the surface
we could pick them off, or take
an X-Acto Blade in the dead of night
Worry-Time, and slice them off
like bits of dried egg
under the reading lamp.

Nothing distracts like shopping,
America’s most perfect sport.
Only yesterday I went to Marshall’s
whispering “You’re looking not buying.
You’re looking not buying.”

When I came home I faced
my mortality once again. The new
credit card – the security code
reads “888” - expires in four years,
just in time for my seventy-second

The words look hideous to me
but some day I’ll count that “young.”
Does it ever cross your mind,
as it does mine, from dawn to dusk
that some day they’ll all be dead.
Every last one of them,
wept for,
buried, cremated, bodies given to science,
as a new generation begins the rhyme all
over again.

Come with me and stand by the window.
The leaves on the maple are withered and shrunk,
dangling like dry tea bags, ready to drop.
Swirls of branches I never noticed
quiver in the cold. They loop round
creating a vacuum in the sky
were I a painter I’d splash it
onto a canvas. I knew a sculptor
once, who said a sculpture is
a tree in disguise.
The cancer that killed him
was in his stomach.

I have peeked out my window
once again.
Is it fair to say
the leaves are waving to me?
They are. They are.
Thing is,
are they waving hello
or goodbye?

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Ruth Z Deming has had her poetry published in lit mags including Mad Swirl, Eunoia Review, and River Poets.


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Contributor: Allison Grayhurst

- -
Inside your luscious eyes
is the burden of depth,
are the stones and rivers
of centuries unguarded
by time.

On your lips
is the sensual curve of tree-line
and sea-shell, is a language
unbroken by bad experience.

On your nose
of boyish turn are nostrils
unlocking the breath of endurance,
is the edge where sunlight rests
after travel.

On your forehead
is a heavy mist of
oscillating pain and grace,
are the marks of a struggle
relieved by love.

On your jaw, cheek and chin
is the strength of the moon
and night-wooed things,
is the hoot and howl
of the sleepless earth, ascending.

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Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. She has over 650 poems published international journals. She has eleven published books of poetry, seven collections, seven chapbooks;

All at once we sprung across the great plains

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Contributor: James Diaz

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A plummet to the bottom
safe in there
thrashing and casting net
into fire

when are you coming home?
A toothless old man
stole my car
I don't own
a single thing
say it like you mean it
I want to sing to this piece of bark
until my eyes bug out

the world weeps at the sight of its own shadow
and we've settled our debts
toasting bathtub wine in paper cups
with our airplane glue hearts stuck to the floor

a high life low lived
irreversible tomorrow
happening to bend
as we wake.

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James Diaz lives in Upstate New York. His stories and poems have appeared in Cheap Pop Lit, Ditch, Pismire and Collective Exile.

Sea of Ice

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Contributor: Nikhil Nath

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From ashes, I
have learnt

to scribble
words on

the face of
the moon

burning a
tramcar ticket

that cost me
a tree,

its shadow
gone, I

now hunt
for clouds

in mushrooms,
watching watermelons

sail away
in a sea

of ice.

- - -
Nikhil has been writing poetry for eighteen years. He has been published in various magazines in India, the USA and the UK. Nikhil Nath is his pen name. He lives and works from Kolkata, India. “Write rubbish, but write", said Virginia Woolf. This is Nikhil's maxim for writing.
Allegro, Aji, Ink salt and Tears, Laughing Dog (Poem of the Month), Ehanom, Ithica Lit, Germ Magazine, Leaves of Ink, Linden Avenue, Pif magazine have all recently accepted his work.

Patterns (For Evelyn)

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Contributor: C.V. Ellis

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Stubby nicotined fingers
moved rhythmically,
crochet crooked for hours,
possessing a deftness
that belied their round
and rotund posture,
they mesmerized
as colored thread
snaked past her
chubby index finger,
a hummingbird
dining on nectar
forming Bind-offs,
Single-knits, Trebles
as Pineapple Patterns,
Diamonds, Snowflakes,
Granny Squares gave
slow birth to doilies,
afghans, blankets in
pinks, greens, yellows,
blues; a rustic rainbow
of multi-chromatic rayons
bedecked out chairs, sofa
mismatched end tables.

Swirls of blue-grey haze
lingered lazily overhead,
a toxic incense expelled
from an endless chain
of cigarettes, the ever present
Melmac ashtray piled with
asymmetrical mounds of
crumpled paper cylinders
as aged tobacco leaves
were inhaled in ritualistic
endeavor to keep
her demons at bay.
All projects in her life
thrived in cyclic spurts,
filler material to tide her

A manic madness possessed
her as she crafted for hours
in weathered armchair,
worn from years of placing
elbows and ass
just so, calloused feet
draped over the edge
while over-the-top
soap opera heroines,
toothy game show hosts,
ads for dutiful housewives
invaded the room in varying
shades of grey blaring, droning,
an endless parade of characters,
caricatures, hand models
for soaps that paid
for the soaps.

All habits, every hobby
had a primed directive:
fill the unseen void,
deny the secret truths
of yesterday's patronly
violations, suppress
darkling recollections,
the unwanted recall
of nighttime visitations.
All were archetypes for the
cycles of self-destruction
that claimed her in the end.
There was a prefigured predictability
to it all as days turned to weeks
turned to months 'til time
rolled round for another breakout,
to seek oblivion in a glass.

Then a different pattern emerged,
one of self-immolation as threads,
needles, yarns all quietly awaited
her did we all.

- - -
Charles is a survivor of so many things the telling would fill a book.

Her Trip Back There

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
You were gone
before you left.
Now you’re happy
you're back home.

I can hear
you singing
in the shower
but I know now

you’re still there.
Make yourself
a cup of coffee.
The kids are still

at school.
They'll be happy
you've come back.
I'll be dozing

in my chair.
We know now
despite your smile
I'm no longer here.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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Contributor: JD DeHart

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We made sure to make
plenty of time for the sound
of the ocean, leaving the life
of flickering images behind
and neglecting the busy

In the deeper waves, dark
forms began surfacing, birds
dove in plumes of salt water

Dolphins, I said, but no,
the fins were different, the
bodies a shadow of rising
and plunging, disturbing
the calm, creating images
of rows and rows of teeth.

- - -
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available from RedDashboard.

Le coffee Salon

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Contributor: Linda Barrett

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The ring of the door chimes sing:
“You are welcome here!”
The black and gold Chinese characters
On the wall
Advertise gold and tea
The cafe’s warmth rises from its seat
To reach out to embrace you.
Stacked magazines
And coffee table picture books
Await for you to read them
Otis’s paintings hang on the walls
As family members awaiting
To be adopted.
The Beatles show themselves off
In oil and canvas snapshots
Of how they grew from Liverpool lads
To long-haired and bearded adults.
Coat hangers hold clothes
Made for human consumption
Yin and Otis will let you use WiFi for free
As long as you don’t make too much noise
They give you your coffee and sweets
All the while conversing with you
About what’s going on in your life
They tell you stories about everything
And even about themselves
It’s a living room place
Where no one has to be reserved
And mind their manners
Music of all kinds plays in various forms
From all centuries and cultures
When the store closes around ten,
Yin brown paper wraps up left overs
For you to take home
The door chimes sing “Good-Bye”
And have a nice evening
Because you are not just a customer
But a part of the family.

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Linda Barrett has been writing all her life. Her first written work was a medieval romance handwritten and put in her elementary school's library. She lives with her mother in a small town outside of Philadelphia.

Hope of Bright Mornings (Mirror Sestet)

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Contributor: Ayoola Goodness Olanrewaju

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Yesterdays bloat with hays
Hays once green in the rays of the sun god of yesterdays
Past present stench of wars stains the peace of nostrils
Nostrils that desire sweet aroma from the meals of the past
Regrets mock at us with teeth of ancient days in grey coats
Coats soaked in the unceasing drools of froward regrets.

Democracy bears us yesterdays of still stillborns
Stillborns of agony in the deception of a dark democracy
Regressions flaunt over our failed brows of forwardness
Forwardness from chains of the blacksmith of regressions
Ours is the tale of the baskets tears of harvests
Harvests infested with weevils of the bigger ‘ours’.

Cursed be the paradoxes of peace
Peace that clamours entry in fisted wars be cursed!
For the mothers are done with tears, they shed bloods
Bloods of vanished hopes, sons and suns uncared for
How shall I sing and dance to these stringed rhythms of sorrows?
Sorrows in the cosmetics of constant groans and pains, how?

The young maidens are now beasts; martyrs of dooms
Dooms in apostles’ clothes mumbling the
Deadly prayers to become celebrated angels
Angels of darkness in shells’ straps beeping deadly
And again for many years passed, our nurture is yet within
Within the confinement of haunted past in ghostly scars and...

Tears of hapless hopeless dying hopes
Hopes drowned in the libation of unceasing tears
Freedom fleets in bruises across the borders of thorns
Thorns sprouted from the decayed residues of failed freedom.
Tarrying, we hope on for the time that changes yesterdays
Yesterdays redeemed by bright mornings and absence of tarrying.

- - -
Ayoola Goodness Lanre is a teacher of English and a poet.

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