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Contributor: J.K. Durick

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They’ve been coming up this street for years
Those clean-cut, earnest young people
Dark books in hand, cheerfully chatting
Ready to discuss my soul and the way or
The path, or whatever they’re calling it
This time, salvation, the final reward
They know they have, have pamphlets
Colorful brochures filled with scriptural
Warnings and promises, sales pitches
With bite, the punishments and rewards
Awaiting the consumer and sinner in us;
They arrive, my doorbell rings, I can feel
Their impatience reaching through the door
The dog’s barking plays well in response
Cerberus playing his role, keeping me in
Them out, if I wait quietly enough, long
Enough, they go away, go after others
While my soul, poor fellow, lingers here
In this semi-dark world of his own making
Hiding, too easily embarrassed by it all
Their bright cheerful answers, their simple
Solution to the questions he keeps asking
But is never comfortable with the answers.

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J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Poetry Super Highway, and Rainbow Journal.


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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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Sleet on the turnpike
in the middle of the night
but I keep driving,
both hands on the wheel,
nowhere to pull off,
and a yellow bus
comes over the line
and kisses my truck.
That's all I remember.
Now I'm in bed,
wired to things,
unable to move,
listening to a doctor
telling my wife,
"It's been two weeks,
no improvement."
He asks her nicely
if we should let him go,
the dimwit bastard.
If I could, I'd scream
but I can't even
wiggle my toes.

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


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Contributor: JD DeHart

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He says azure,
and she says lavender,
so he says asure,
and she offers doubt.
He's Sunday and she
is decidedly Monday.
He's naps and she's
rock music concerts.
Between them, there is
a stretch so wide, elastic
all the differences bounce
away at last.

- - -
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His first chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is due Fall 2014.

Walk a Straight Line

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Contributor: Gary Thomas Hubbard

- -
Walking down the path we choose
Life's riddles plague us just to confuse
Stains on my memory's favorite photograph
Still when I look at it I have to laugh


Each of our lives is full of twists and turns
You grab hot coals when you know it burns
Things we think we need will rot away
Beauty and youth are not here to stay


Take what you need and leave the rest
You won't be graded, it's not a test
Smile when you can, sadness is on the way
This life can end even if you want to stay


So choose your path wisely, walk a straight line
Don't worry if you don't solve every riddle, you still will be fine
Remember life's memories, the good and the bad
They say who you are so smile and be glad!

- - -
I am The Father of two and a Paw Paw. I was born and raised in Ohio and now I live in Florida. I had one of my poems published in "Stormcloud Poets Second Anthology".

Acid(ic) Hearts

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Contributor: Lena Ziegler

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the acid tongue
tracing, forming,
my misused words
draws, gentle
from the mouth
of my blackberry-stained lips

these words
they cross
and air streams
and lullabies
forbidden terms

with my soul
right next to me
my soul
within in me
my soul
lingering in the hollow
my resistance
what is this pain
but persistence

vanishing in time
and space
and love
and indifference
paving waves of grace
for my penalty

my repentance

you are love
we are love

I know this, my love

words melt beneath
of blackberry-stained kisses
piercing hearts
of resistance
what is pain
if not persistence
is it love
or is it

- - -


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Contributor: Maureen Kingston

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A whole new ball game. He was all balled up
about it--shaking over home plate. What if
he dropped the ball? Made a fielding error?
Lost focus? He must keep his eye on the ball.

He’d been trying to retrain his body for months,
to unlearn the lifelong habit of sleeping
on his stomach, a routine established in the crib.
So far his efforts had been a bust,
the objects of his failure in full view--
an assortment of odd balls on his bedside table.

The ping-pong ball in his pajama pocket
was an early casualty, his first cratered skull.
The slippery golf ball next, rolling silently
out of his pocket in the middle of the night,
breaking right in the rough under the bed.

The tennis ball appeared to be the perfect size--
big enough to irritate, to coax movement,
but not so big he couldn’t sleep through it.
No matter. Size didn’t affect the result.
He awoke, as before, on his belly,
the tennis ball drenched in sweat, suffocated
by the weight of his chest.

He envied his wife, already modified, sleeping
on her side. She’d retrained her body
with a basketball. Nine months pregnant,
she’d been lying on her side for weeks.
She no longer shared his nightmare of crushing
the baby in his sleep. The shot clock was running
down. He’d have to step up his game.

- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Dark Clouds of Spirits Rise

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Contributor: John Evans

- -
Darkness clouds the vastness of sky
Of cactus and vine in a south Texas air,
And from its thorny depths of brambles rise
Within its midst the old wooden cross of
San Juan Capistrano…asks “why?”
A white-washed mission of centuries ago
With three arched bell towers
Ring as thunder hugs the sky.
A house of faith where the desert traveler dwells…
And days since past the contemplative’s hell,
Where the dark nights of many souls
Gather to confess in all their sins,
Seeking absolution from life’s bitter regrets
And so many men.
The journey of one, though, lie in this hand –
Of days and decades old, as old as this man…
With wrinkled brow and shoulders of hair
In the demons eyes squarely he stares,
But the ages of dust bring memories of
A deep rooted old,
Where men of virtue, against all the odds, as
Strong may be bold.
And one thing stands clear in life’s challenges so high
Are the dark clouds of despair
Upon the spirits which rise.

- - -
A former US Marine and Rifle Range Coach, John has much to share of his days as a US Marine. Poetry being the genre of choice, John enjoys sharing his military life having proudly serving his beautiful country and the freedom of democracy!

Just Saying The Words

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Contributor: John Ogden

Should I have been cruel
to soothe your ego?
Should I have been as a wall
pure and stony
while she blundered through your bludgeonings
the cudgels tossed
from Texas
to here?
Should I have left her
left her standing alone
cold, shaking, afraid?
Should I have left her
to lift her
own boxes
own luggage
and only then
when the ashes had cleared
when the years had opened
all the barred doors
you were locked behind
give you all those chances to beat her with words
to bend her
to twist her
until at last she relents
and you can go on living
in your angry rut
but not really loving
saying the words
while never touching
saying the words
just saying the words.

- - -
John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.

I Believe in Faeries

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Contributor: JD DeHart

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Anyone can see from the decor
on the binder and locker,
she's a true believer,
right down to the spelling choice,
"Faerie," next to the lipstick message
about her boyfriend and the bubblegum
pop music lyrics she's scrawled down.

- - -
JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. His first chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is due Fall 2014.

The Merits of Tea

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Contributor: Ben Riddle

- -
I brought her tea one night
when she had told me
that the trees were whispering
secrets about her;

that they knew the name
of her jaded lovers
their kinks
and the colour of their eyes.

I boiled the water at home;
taking it in a flask
along with two tea cups
and waited
after knocking three times
so she could clean her room
twice more.

When she let me in
I poured two cups of tea
put them on the table
and then hugged her
held her

for a very long time;
until the tea was cold
the wind was quiet
and she didn’t need me anymore.

- - -
A nineteen year old aspiring poet and athlete from Perth, Western Australia, Ben Riddle studies Political Science and English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. You can find more of his work at riddlesocialcommentary.tumblr.com

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