Enamoured Me

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Contributor: John MacKinnon

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If my mom had named me Vincent
Would my go van blow a tire
If my mom had named me Pablo
Would my water flow like fire
If my mom had named me Salvador
Would my real name be Dali
If my mom had named me Ludwig
Would my symphony still be

If my world had circled Saturn
Could I give the Sun a ring
If time hurled from forward fissions
Would I still hear Lennon sing

If my mom had named me Vincent
Would all my colours still bleed through
If my mom had named me Pablo
Would my pieces still seek you
If my mom had named me Salvador
Would my sky just be a door
If my mom had named me Ludwig
Could my music matter more

If my universe was tiny
Would my thoughts grow larger still
If my mom had named me Vincent
Would my starry night fulfill

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Contributor: John MacKinnon

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And in the final desperate times
The children all were gathered
The dogs released to scout the line
Where nothing living mattered

And rockets raced upon their marks
High up amongst the heavens
Now sturdy cedars withheld brave barks
Becoming hidden havens

Yet all the while the rivers wept
For streams lost coinciding
The mothers treasures closely kept
Near arms grown weary hiding

And lastly before stars were joined
An instant moment later
Old Sol the Sun, new light purloined,
Smiled back at the Creator

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Contributor: Bill Gillard

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I’ve lived longer than Thoreau but
not better. Certainly not written better,
although few of any age can
say they have. Spent not nearly
enough time in a canoe in Maine.

I’ve lived longer than Poe and
happier, but the horrors of the
blood spring a page just as
sure as spring days do loved
ones eager for more than my company.

I’ve lived longer than Fitzgerald his
boat long since surrendered to the
current while mine marooned in rushes
borne neither to the past nor
the future one paddle erect in muck.

I’m catching up to Richard Wright
and Emily Dickinson whose mirrors would
have envied mine—white and male
and free—and who made great
art despite the slings of outrageous fortune.

These words, too, lounge on an
easy couch while I do other
things with what little time I
have remaining until I end
up on the poster “Sparse Talent Squandered.”

And that’s it—my big idea—
a biography series about people not
listed among the great but people
like me for whom a single life
never got started for whom the main

channel of the river diverged along
the way in all of this
tall grass when the water table
dropped a drought of a life human
a broken poetic form

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Bill Gillard is an award-winning teacher of creative writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley. His writing has appeared in Serving House, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Literary Review, The Writer's Chronicle, Chiron Review, Review Americana, Dark Sky Magazine, and many others. His most recent chapbook is Ode to Sandra Hook (Finishing Line Press). He earned an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a recovering youth hockey coach.

The Secret

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Contributor: Judy Moskowitz

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They try to look away
but can't help staring
at the man in the wheelchair
sympathy offers its hand
keeping the door ajar
as he manipulates his four wheeler
the place of permanence
where he reigned supreme
threatening to do the unthinkable
and keeping all his promises
decades have passed
with only two witnesses left
no place to run from
no one to run to
the burden of silence
will be scattered across the sea
sunshine and salt air
will dissolve its foul odor

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Judy Moskowitz, a professional jazz musician, has been published in Poetry Life And Times, Michael Lee Johnson's anthology, Indiana Voice Journal, Whispers Of The Wind

After the Spirit is Flown

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

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The earth has claimed the bones
Of many I have known.
No longer do they walk the earth,
Or speak of anything.
No longer do they toil,
Or worry anymore,
Or help those that they care for,
Or hurt those that they don't.
Like a fallen flake of snow,
They are silent where they lie.
No longer do they need a thing,
After they have died,
And for now, upon the earth,
They neither laugh or cry.
They cannot tell of pain they had,
Or pleasures that they knew,
Their possessions have they left behind,
For others now to own.
Their time on earth is ended,
After the spirit is flown.

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Bruce Mundhenke has worked as a laborer and a registered nurse. He enjoys reading and writing poetry. He lives in Illinois with his wife and their dog and cat.

Ollie’s Wine and Liquor

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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For years Ollie worked
late into the night
ringing up his sales
of wine and liquor
cigarettes and condoms
sometimes overcharging
addled customers who
had nowhere else to go.

He invested profits in
gold and silver coins
hidden in a box
under the attic floor
of the house he bought
for a crippled son
who never married,
never climbed a stair.

Now the store is closed
and the son is getting old
but the coins are
shining in their box
under the attic floor.
Ollie too is in a box,
a sea of dust, an
archipelago of bones.

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Bird Feeder

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Contributor: Catherine G. Wolf

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For Katie who wants to learn about birds

My grandma in Brooklyn knew
all the birds by their songs–tufted titmouse,
black capped chickadee, downy woodpecker—
until Alzheimer’s like a pistol with a silencer
shot holes in her brain.
That grandmother gave me my first bird feeder
for my eleventh birthday, wrapped in silver
paper with a cardinal-red bow.
She wanted to get my glasses out of the
Nancy Drew books that consumed me
as I consumed them. Ran my fingers over the
long glass chamber, inhaled the shellacked
oak trim on the top.
We hung it in the dining room window
that snowy day in early March.
The first visitor was a cardinal,
too stubborn to fly south.
I took his picture on the frosted feeder.
I still have the picture in my bird album.
Do you want to see it, Katie?
My grandma turned me into a bird watcher,
my nose in bird books, enthusiastically recording
each feathered visitor to the feeder,
saving my fifty cent allowance to buy
sunflower seeds, hot fudge sundaes to the birds.
A shy girl given wings by that gift!
My grandma died before she saw the album.
A raccoon smashed that first feeder
into icy shards on frozen ground.

My second feeder I bought
on impulse from a pet store
buying catnip mice for the cats.
The top’s somewhat rusty
and you might have to adjust the height.
It hangs a little lopsided when squirrels
try to get the seed, but I swear,
you wouldn’t believe the variety of birds
that thing attracts. For five years,
it’s hung in my kitchen window,
the birds chirping as I have my
morning coffee. I love the tiny
yellow and black goldfinches
singing operas. They fly in
from the crab apple tree where the birds
form a kind of cafeteria line.
Such joy in color and music, Katie!
It became the greatest cat toy,
my tabby Tammy crouched by the window
springing onto glass like she had
suction cups on her paws.
My black cat Jake yodeling on the counter,
as if calling to the birds.

Now I’m giving you your own bird feeder.
So you will listen to their songs.
The collection of birds is more colorful
and musical than a Mardi Gras marching band.
I hope you will love them all, not just the beautiful goldfinches.
And one day, Katie, you’ll give the same gift
to someone you love.

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In 1996, when I was stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease, my ability to speak was taken away by this disease. I found poetry had a special capability to express my innermost feelings. By losing my physical voice, I found my poetic voice.

42 Days In

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Contributor: Alyssa Trivett

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Sunday morning and Wednesdays
I want to drag their sunrises
through a pasture
and poke the days with sticks
until night finally settles in.
And the clock ticks stop
merry-go-rounding about.
I have your voicemails
and your hat,
a car and your watch,
and pets.
I carry your spirit,
like a soldier with a flag
since some days,
that's all I have.

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Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul. When not working two jobs, she scrawls lines. Her work recently appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry.

Twisted Slumber

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Contributor: John MacKinnon

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Gradually they neared us
Dark clouds of rising rinse
Reciprocating madness
The scene still makes me wince

Blue bolts of liquid lightning
The thunder boomed her bane
A combo oh so frightening
Soothing only the insane

An oak raced through my vision
Tore up and tossed as grain
A locomotive rumble
To permeate my brain

Now up and gone I travelled
Caught up in natures' wrath
Not knowing where I'd eject
Upon the twisters path

And in an instant calmness
Awakened on the sea
The storm that drenched my dreaming
Had only twisted me

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