Something to Chew on

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Contributor: J. K. Durick

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I have eaten my words -- sometimes, they’re bitter,
sometimes, salty. And other times, they’ve been too
lumpy, clumpy, a bit too well done on the outside,

with raw, underdone middles, hard to chew, hard to
swallow. I have sat uncomfortably eating words and
trying to digest them. I have brought them home in

buckets and bags. I have sat down with others in
comfortable surroundings and properly dined on
them. I have dignified course after course of them.

I have eaten my words outside on the lawn, standing
out front, one-on-one, gathered groups to watch me.
I have played with them, chewed them slowly and

swallowed what I could. Then I have gathered up all
the leftovers and wrapped them, put them in small
containers, like this one, and put them away for another day.


- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Write Room, Madswirl, Third Wednesday, and Up the River.

Persephone

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
I think of her when I see
A line of black cars
How she’d kneel down and pray
For my father to arrive safe

And I think of her when I see
That painting by Manet
"The Dead Toriador"
That hung in her study

And I think of her when I see
A preacher on TV
How she admired them
Their comforting words

But I think of her the most
When the forsythias bloom
Her favorite flower
How her heart would rejoyce


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Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

An Agony of Love

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Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -

Tender love and interposed depths
Of ageless pleasure,
The pause in passionate loves descried by the
Promised assurance of Eden and velvet
Sashay, a renegade kiss,
An agony of love in cascades of rain.


- - -
I am aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. I have written 93 books of poetry over the past several years and 16 novels. I hope you enjoy my work.

Scene from Yom Kippur 1972

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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It's Yom Kippur
this screaming hot day
in Chicago 1972.
An intermittent parade
of orthodox men are walking
in silence to synagogue,
foreheads bright
with sweat.

They're in uniform,
black hats, black coats
over their shoulders,
continents of sweat
breaking through
white shirts,
black ties stirring
in the breeze.

Five older men
have canes.
Two others
on walkers
have snakes
on their forearms,
reptiles from Auschwitz,
Belsen, Treblinka.

The numbers
in each tattoo
may be different
but the snakes
are as much
part of their uniform
as black hats,
black coats and black ties
on this screaming
hot Day of Atonement
in otherwise
oblivious Chicago.


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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Side Glances

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Contributor: Brittany Zedalis

- -
Your voice, a whisper lost in the space between what is real and make believe,
It makes its way to me, softly, unnoticed by those who do not hear but see.
A sound leaving me breathless when I understand the words,
Speak them again, my love, and join our worlds.
"Forever, faithfully." I whisper to you, sending your heart to a place it has never been,
Where there are no worries, no pain, no anger; only the love you will feel again and again.
Your touch, gentle, graceful, yet so strong it grabs my soul and ties it to yours,
Like the shadow of Peter Pan, except I will never run from you, you are a part of me down to my core.
We will grow on, from young adults to wise lovers,
Sharing our hopes, our dreams, and secrets with each other.
Our life begins now with these moments, these memories that will live on in the years to come,
Our love story will serve as the truth for our young.
That true love does exist if you take the chances,
It could be hidden from sight or right before your very eyes, in a room full of drawings and loving side glances.


- - -
I am 21 years old, married, and studying to be an elementary teacher. I enjoy reading, writing and crocheting in my spare time. I have been writing poetry since I was around 12 or 13 years old.

Christmastime in America

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
You see the oddest things
at Christmastime in America.
The bigger the city,
the stranger the sights.
I was driving downtown
to buy gifts for the family
and enjoying bouquets
of beautiful people
bundled in big coats
and colorful scarves
clustered on corners,
shopping in good cheer
amid petals of snow
dancing in the sun.

One of them, however,
a beautiful young lady,
had stopped to take issue
with an old woman in a shawl
picketing Planned Parenthood.
The old woman was riding
on a motor scooter
designed for the elderly.
She held a sign bigger
than she was and kept
motoring back and forth
as resolute as my aunt
who had been renowned
for protesting any injustice.
Saving seals in the Antarctic
had been very important to her.

On this day, however,
the beautiful young lady
who had taken issue
with the old woman
was livid and screaming.
She marched behind
the motor scooter and
yelled at the old woman
who appeared oblivious
to all the commotion.
Maybe she was deaf,
I thought, like my aunt.
That can be an advantage
at a time like this.

The letters on the sign were huge
but I couldn't read them
so I drove around the block
and found a spot at the curb.

It turned out the sign said,
"What might have happened
if Mary of Nazareth
had been pro-choice?"
Now I understood
why the young lady
was ranting and raving
and why the old woman
kept motoring to and fro.
At Christmastime in America
people get excited,
more so than usual.

When I got home
I hid my packages
and told my wife at supper
what I had seen.
I also told her that if Mary
had chosen otherwise,
I wouldn't have had
to go shopping today.
That's obvious, she said.


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

Two Decades

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Contributor: Mike Agombar

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Two decades old and still at the children’s table.

How’s school, everyone is so proud of you! And before I even take the inhale of air to respond, another chimes in

Waste of money that is. You don’t need school!

No, it seems I don’t. Some creativity can’t be taught. Ask someone with an Odd Future poster.

Family dinners are for brides and grooms and mourning where I’m from and there’s promised to be a big mucky punch up and insults thrown at strangers with a common last name at both.

Absolute waste of money school! You can learn everything you need to know if you come work for me! Make some tidy cash too.

But he sells cocaine… that could be fun I guess. It’s a risk. but once you fall enough find out your not made of glass, risks are hobbies.
Getting educated by professors and doctors is far more rosy than getting educated by football hooligans with an eye for ass and a nose for coke.

Because getting educated is the next best thing to finally being allowed to sit at the adult table after two decades. But those conversations about money, taxes and kids remind me I’m still a kid and of the fantasy world that is to become my reality.

I’ve realized something. Power is defined by the wealth and the materialistic possessions we have; but wealth isn’t defined by power. In my fantasy world, I create my own destiny. I create the wealth, the power, the materialistic possession by the thoughts I think and the choices I make.

I’ll be at the adult table one day, but not around the peddlers that insist school, education and free-thought is unnecessary.


- - -
Twenty year old student.

Vacancies

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Contributor: T. David Lauber

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I drank her pretty
she drank me witty
for one of us
that was never going to be enough
her broken down eyes blink no vacancy signs
red flashing dissuasions
but this is what she knows
a weary rider always slows
never sure what waits down a darkening road


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T. David Lauber lives and writes in Buffalo, NY. He is currently writing poetry and working on a collection of short stories. He may or may not take himself too seriously.

Vehicle

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Contributor: Christina C. Franklin

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Vehicle of flesh that carries our essence,
Why do we abuse you so?

You are the box that holds the gift,
A prize in need of protective wrapping.

So why do we bump, bruise and scar you,
Why leave you tattered and frayed?

Food, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
Suppress the existence screaming to be heard.

Your voice is stifled with our misunderstanding
Why do we think this is good?

Vehicle of power, change and wisdom,
Smothered in weakness, stagnation and idiocy.

Why do we allow our ignorance and fear to blind us?
Why do we surrender to the easiest path?

Unleash our courage, strength and perseverance,
Allow us the confidence to stubble and fail.

Let’s throw away the self-defeating poisons,
And why not use you as we should?


- - -
Having never lost her passion for writing, Christina Franklin always found ways to flex her creative muscle by writing website content, newsletters and business litigation blogs during her 20+ year career as either a legal and/or executive assistant. A reader of many genres and an incurable fan of the heat miser and snow miser, on a typical day, Christina can be found sitting under a pile of black and white fur in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, while attempting to pen her first novel. Currently, several of her short stories can be found on The Story Shack. She welcomes you to view her blog at: www.myfiddlefaddlesabbatical.blogspot.com.

Zambezi in Zimbabwe

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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River rafting in Montana
is a fine way to spend
your vacation but it's
not the same as
river rafting in Zimbabwe.
No Sir Ree, Bob!

You can roar down
the Zambezi River
on a big raft with other
tourists hoping
to get away from it all
in the splendor of Africa.

A thoughtful man,
your guide in the Safari hat
will explain before you
hit the water that your raft
will indeed flip over
at some point

and when it does
he says you shouldn't
worry and swim for shore.
No Sir Ree, Bob!
You should stay right there
in the washing machine

of rapids bobbing
up and down and wait for
the other guide in the Safari hat
to pull alongside in his motor boat
and pluck you out of the water
so you can live

to write something like this.
This is what guides
on the Zambezi in Zimbabwe
do for a living--send you out
on a big raft that will flip over
so they can save you.

But they're not in a rush
because didn't they give you
a life jacket and a crash helmet?
However, if you're in a hurry
to reach land and choose
to swim to shore

across the beautiful Zambezi
the way you may have swum
across a river in Montana
you'll discover close to this shore
that you are lunch for one
of many crocodiles

who wait in the still water
six feet or so from shore.
The crocodiles make a living
waiting for tourists who swim
ferociously like Diana Nyad.
Two chomps, maybe three

if you're a pleasantly plump fellow,
and then digestion begins.
You and your crash helmet
and your life jacket will
need a day or so to
convert to crocodile dreck

and dissolve in the Zambezi.
Whatever your faith,
believe me, it will take effort
to re-assemble you
in time for the resurrection.
Yes Sir Ree, Bob!


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

A Moment is Riding Time

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Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
A moment is riding time
like a horse over the hill
bringing strength—

A moment is floating through time
like a ship across the sea
bringing wealth—

There is a moment
tossed by a fairy’s whim,
blown forward by her breath,
and carried away to find us.

There is a moment
set aside for you and me,
but it may take awhile
as these things do, my love.
It may take awhile
as these things do.

Our moment is conquering time
like a white flag rising
ending battle—

Our moment is drawing near
like a heart breaking chains
ending restraint—


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

It Wasn't Long Ago

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Contributor: Chelsea L. Gipson

- -
It wasn’t too long ago when things were made of wood and metal and
people took their time to create one-of-a-kind pieces of work
and sell and/or barter with the people of their township.

Nowhere in their near future did they imagine a time when things would be
made with no care or finesse or time taken at all.

Nowhere in their far-off future could they possibly imagine things being
made with shiny, man-made metals and smooth fake wood with a color
matching finish and selling them for an over-priced profit.

It wasn’t too long ago we actually worked at the things we did
but now we simply work at not working and that is what we do.


- - -

Identity Crisis

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
Was that me in the corner of a mirror-walled tavern
Chain-smoking Marlboros with fifty cent drafts
Or watching through the graffitied window of a bus
The wounded neighborhoods of a stricken town
Or was I in the back of a crowded classroom
Studying the leaves on the trees outside
Or browsing through albums in a dusty record store
Searching for anthems for a price I could afford

And were you the one with the dog-eared diary
Scrawled with your story in a secret code
Or the one who wanted a house in the country
And five children playing in its flower-filled fields
Or maybe you were only the one I dreamed of
Who didn’t yet have a name or a face
Who I’d have to wait nearly half my lifetime
To hear you sing like a bird before dawn


- - -
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

Third World Girl

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Contributor: D P Lambert

- -
Little third world girl,
The bones and skin of you,
Lie dying in the dust.

I see your eyes, wide and hollow,
On my screen.
Do you know of me?

The black flies buzz
And move about your face,
And you no longer brush them away.

For now you are waiting in the dust,
And do not feel the flies,
And do not feel the hunger . . . anymore.

You are waiting in the dust, little girl,
And you are looking at me
From the other side of the world.

If I could draw you from the tube
Into this room carpeted and clean,
Paneled and pictured,

What would you think of me?
Would you thank me?
Would you hate me?

Or, would you simply waste away.
Too lost and weak to hold my world--
My oh-so-civilized clutter.

These leather bound books
Of Shakespeare and Twain,
These disks of music and movement,

These Pollock and Picasso prints,
These calculators and cell phones,
These game cubes and computers,

This high definition, surround sound,
Color screen, wide-screen,
Flat-screen, miracle of technology--

Can it resurrect you from
The Great Darkness
That will be your dissolution?

How easily, with one God-like finger,
Can I bring this screen to darkness,
And to silence . . . as if you never were.

This could be, were it not
For my midnight dreams,
Where the shadow of you appears

To ask that unspoken question--
Whispering within me--
Whispering why

You are there and I am here--
So very far apart
Upon this great blue and ancient sphere.


- - -
I'm a writer of short stories as well as poetry. I have a Master's degree in British Literature at Syracuse University and the University of Bridgeport. I greatly enjoy my writing process.

Man's Destiny

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Contributor: Nick Davies

- -
We started out in Africa
Descended from the Apes
Life was very simple then
Food and fear and rapes
Survival of the fittest
Was non-negotiable
We live and died the harshest lives
Survived if we were able.

Our little bands would inter-breed
With stunning variations
Big and small, black and white
Became our varied nations
Others grew more cunning
Developed killing tools
Treating those they met and killed
As meaty tasty fools

Generations tried the North
And faltered in their tracks
Desert and wild animals
Hunger and attacks
Some got as far as Israel
To find the Promised Land
They perished in a distant cave
Their journey at an end.

But through the long millennia
Man prospered and he grew
His language and his braininess
He gained in knowledge new
His forays in the far Northland
Beset by climate change
A time of warmth and green green shoots
Whitened to an ice age

About ten thousand years ago
The weather became stable
Warm water from the southern seas
Put food upon the table
A tide of water moving north
Transformed the frozen land
Crops were grown, beasts were killed
By Man's sweet bloodied hand

We learnt to create metal tools
And cut the forests down
Machinery and metal ships
Did Gaia start to frown?
The Ice Caps and the glaciers
Began to melt apace
But Man was looking heavenward
A Space Race fall from Grace

Today the Gulfstream is no more
The new Ice Age is coming
The winter will kill many
Despite our guile and cunning
It was always going to happen
The default plan of fate
Take heart, Dear Friend, and look within
Find love and banish hate


- - -
Nursed for 30 years. Studied meditation and Zen. Developed unique therapy based on mainly CBT and the unique 5 stage breath. Currently starting a dance workshop 5-dai dance, find on facebook.

The Lovely Women of My Life

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
If I met the same women now
I probably wouldn't know them.
They're missing teeth, I bet,
and have gray Medusa hair.

Their eyes no longer dance, I'm sure,
and they have liver spots everywhere.
They likely wobble in their flats
and haven't worn heels

since adding fifty pounds.
Some of them, I'm certain,
wouldn't recognize me, either,
despite thick spectacles.

They can't recall the picnics
we enjoyed with wine and caviar
under oak trees in Grant Park,
never mind the nights that followed.

Who needs a woman that forgetful?
I need a younger woman now,
someone I can finally marry,
a girl with a figure like Monroe,

Hepburn's eyes and Hayworth's hair,
someone lithe, slim and graceful,
someone strong enough to push
my wheelchair up the ramp.


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

QUO VADIS

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Contributor: Ron Yazinski

- -
With its hills and cobblestones
Rome takes a toll on the feet.
After walking through the catacombs of San Callista,
We were struggling our way to the site of Quo Vadis,
Where Peter, escaping from the Mamertine Prison,
Met Jesus on the Appian Way, walking towards Rome.

“Where are you going?” he asked his Lord,
Who answered that he is going to be crucified a second time
Because Peter is too cowardly to do it;
At which Peter, humiliated, returns to Rome
For his inverted crucifixion.

Inside the Church built on this spot,
The guide book says, are a pair of footprints in stone,
Supposedly left by Christ as he stood his ground there on the Appian Way.
But our own feet are swollen from days of sightseeing.
We only limp as far as the field in which a flock of ewes

Are lying next to their snowy newborn lambs.
The mothers baa low, and their babies answer in their high pitched response.
Again and again, dozens of them, in a chorus of life,
Which we consider enough of a miracle for one day,
And so we return to the bus.


- - -
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher, who with his wife Jeanne, divides his time between Pennsylvania and Winter Garden, Fl. His work has appeared in many journals. His one collection is SOUTH OF SCRANTON.

Silent Touch

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Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -

Hyacinth perfections in azure prayers of romance,
In mischief and wild coquette,
The passion of teardrop honey in amber
Asylums of beauty, existing for the love of silent
Touch and swathed assurances of devotion,
Wandering by the precious flame of
Yearning hearts.


- - -
I am aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. I have written 93 books of poetry over the past several years and 16 novels. I hope you enjoy my work.

Haunted

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Contributor: Brittany Zedalis

- -
I miss your adorable laughter,
Though it sometimes haunts my dreams,
I miss those big, innocent eyes,
Staring up at me.
I miss your tiny hands,
Reaching for a new toy,
Why were you taken from me?
You were just a little boy.
Barely over a year old,
The world was new to you,
You had no time to explore,
There was nothing I could do.
It's been so many years,
My memories are starting to fade,
That is something I can't let happen,
I can't let that be taken away.
You never got your first kiss,
You never went to prom,
You were never able to find love,
This just seems so wrong.
You should have been at my wedding,
I should have been at yours,
There's so much we've missed,
I don't know what to do anymore.
I miss you, my brother,
I live my life how you would have wanted,
I see you in my dreams,
Your memory leaves me haunted.


- - -
I'm 21 years old, married, and studying at Francis Marion University to be an elementary teacher. I enjoy reading, writing, photography and doing crochet in my spare time.

Boxing Your City

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Contributor: J.Donnelly

- -
In city years
You get better at not wincing from the punch
Retracting
Recoiling before a stint, a fake
You get better at not fanning
More rounds, more bells, more sweat
Bonding with trainers who keep you moving
Use towels to cushion the crimes, the fears
Clog the cuts in sympathetic wax
Lift you up for the crowds to see, to celebrate
And hug you in losses


- - -
J.Donnelly writes and lives in DC. He's a fan of the beat generation and contemporary writers like Bucky Sinister and Mums.

Moonshadow

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Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
She sails under a moonshadow
on the back of a white swan.
Tears fall down her cheeks
because her heart is unloved.

She sees twilight in the water
then turns around to face it.
A star shooting overhead
sparkles romance from its tail.

She thinks, Why can’t that be for me?

But each tear that fell on the lake
became a ripple towards shore.
And love waits patiently
just beyond the water lilies.


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

Desperate Affection

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Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -

The blessings of sunrise attentions
And indigo fray in tentative
Excursions of dawn, a vagabond flame
In magic charms of affected desire,
The yearning want of mysterious
Romance and enchanted allure, a beloved
Balance between the need of trifles and desperate
Affection.


- - -
I am aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. I have written 93 books of poetry over the past several years and 16 novels. I hope you enjoy my work.

A Good Neighbor

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Cookies for George,
40 years back from Viet Nam,
are the only payment
the man will accept
to mow your lawn,
rake your leaves,
shovel your snow.

He sleeps behind
his brother's house
above the garage.
Every two weeks
he shaves and bathes.
His brother takes him
to the Veterans Hospital.

George has cancer again
40 years after Agent Orange.
But he'll mow your lawn,
rake your leaves
and shovel your snow
for nothing less than
cookies for George.


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

RING THAT BELL

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Contributor: Ron Yazinski

- -
Because my adult daughter is ill,
And since my ex is out of town,
I agree to return to the house I abandoned years before.

Since the doorbell is broken, I knock.
As soon as I enter I feel as I did when I walked past the photos of my father
That were displayed near his casket as I went to kiss him good-bye.

But here it is my own dead life on display.
On the dingy walls are the framed pictures
Of vacations taken long ago.

And though I am in none of them, I’m in all of them,
Because I was the one who snapped the photos,
Like the one from the balcony in Taormina,

Of the sun rising over Italy
With the small sailboat in front of it;
Or the one of Mont St. Michele with late morning light reflecting off its windows

As if the church was a jewel with many facets;
Or the twilit reds and oranges of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado,
Where the two sandstone hills resemble kissing camels.

And I find myself suffocating as I did right before I left,
As if I’m in that moonlit photo
Of the St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans,

One of the poor souls stricken with yellow fever,
And prematurely buried inside his family tomb,
Trying to ring the bell that will save his life.


- - -
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher, who with his wife Jeanne, divides his time between Pennsylvania and Winter Garden, Fl. His work has appeared in many journals. His one collection is SOUTH OF SCRANTON.

Amour

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Contributor: Brittany Zedalis

- -
If something were to happen,
And you were suddenly gone,
I would be an empty vessel,
A slow and dying song.

You bring a light into my life,
The smile upon my face,
You are a part of my soul,
One that cannot be replaced.

Your whispers in the quiet of night,
Remain close to my heart,
Bound by our deepest thoughts,
We will not be torn apart.

When our days together end,
If there is an afterlife,
That is surely where we’ll be,
Never to say goodbye.


- - -
I'm 21 years old, married, and studying at Francis Marion University to be an elementary teacher. I enjoy reading, writing, photography and doing crochet in my spare time.

I'M ON MY WAY

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Contributor: Alvin Rhodes

- -
a feather on piano keys
a whisper in a sax
the stillness of a morning
as both sun and moon relax

the earth, at peace, observing
gentle song inside her chest
the leaves are skipping eastward
nudged by breezes from the west

a love that's tinted lavender
will coat your every dream
and trickle out into the night
escaping from each seam

the sky will speak your name
when mortal voices are not near
the clouds will spell out messages
that only you can hear

a soft caressing lullaby
with thoughts instead or words
the music of the butterflies
more subtle than the birds

a brush upon your shoulder
from a shadow, finely gray
the wind then strokes your hair
to let you know I'm on my way


- - -
I only write rhyming poetry... hippie, not a beatnik, I guess.

Offerings

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Contributor: Stacy Maddox

- -
Standing in this moment
In the emerging dayspring
Awestruck, I find solace
In an offering from the sun
As it stretches golden fingers
Giving light to a barren sky

A breeze whispers around my body
Longingly caressing barren skin
And entangling me in his embrace
Our meeting only brief, he moves on
To fill every hungry sail
Crossing the mighty sea

Dreamer, I wish to capture
This very point in time
Suspend its delicate essence
And beautiful, bright display
To hold it within my heart
And remember when clouds gather.


- - -
Stacy Maddox lives, dreams and writes in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS. She loves to soak up the sun by the river and feel the rush of water over her feet while spending time with her family and pets. Stacy has had her poetry and photography published in over 15 books, print magazines and online websites.

Heavy Heavy, Light Light

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Contributor: Amanda Clarkin

- -
Heavy with the weight of skin cells,
feet and toes,
bones and blood.

Heavy with the weight of angst,
broken pieces of emotional waste
fall through cracks in veins
and steamroll straight to the heart.

Light with the feeling of a blasé attitude,
beer bubbles rolling down your throat
disinterest crawling over your brain
with the delicate touch of a spider’s legs.

Light with the feeling of impervious solitude,
because the stench of other humans
burns your nostrils-
the feeling of other’s skin torches your flesh.


- - -
I am an aspiring writer who writes as an escape and hopes that someone will hear me. A poem is raw and meaty. It is made of blood, bones, and guts just like me and I think that's beautiful.

Coveted

| Filed under

Contributor: Lewis R Humphries

- -
Astride the Harbor Bridge, bright radiance
shimmers through an airless summer, and gilds
the passageways of stone and providence.
Were it not for these columns of light, and
their multifarious smolder, he would
not have glimpsed the outline of her splendor.

Journeyed beneath the steeled arch, she is
heedless of her beauty, as she weaves the
indiscernible threads of time through her
fingers; then marvels at the neon blaze
of simulated day, its steeples
plunging through the course of cobalt torrents.

Her contemplations, imbued through mottled
rivulets, are not inflected by the
thrusts of his intentions. She is
sentient only to the malleable melds
of dark then light, his presence cast in the
consequent sheathes of far pitched shade.


- - -
Lewis is a freelance writer and blogger based in Birmingham, UK. He also has a passion for creative writing, and has featured in magazines throughout the UK, U.S. and Oceania.

Street Sense

| Filed under

Contributor: J.Donnelly

- -
Street sense
Street pence
Street people
Street car named desire
Dire
Died
Dicked
Ducked
Into an alley
The man with the golden arm
Into an alley
The woman with the golden earrings
Into an alley
The kids with the golden grams
Snorting
Sniffing
Snuggling fabric softener
The softener they are the harder they fall
From heaven
Into the alley
Dipped in
Dropped out
Pulled out before I blew
Before I turned blue
Before she knew
Too good for me
Too good for the scene
You’re too good to just be meat
Rare
Uncared
Uncaring
Underworld wearing
You’re too good to be staring
Into the alley
To sleep
To beat
To read beats
To sing beats
To slam beats
Up and down the sidewalk
Cause you’re sense is strong
Cause you’re mind is strong
Cause you’re line is long
And changes
And chances
And dances with the new day
Hopeful of new diocese
Hopeful of new diets
Diodes blip on radar
How far are you?
Into the alley
How far can you go?
How fair can you go?
How much for that street sense?
I said, How much for that street sense?


- - -
J.Donnelly writes and lives in DC. He's a fan of the beat generation and contemporary writers like Bucky Sinister and Mums.

SOPRESSATA

| Filed under

Contributor: Ron Yazinski

- -
In an old Italian neighborhood bar,
Three elderly women sit like the Fates on their stools.
The one in the middle looks like a prom queen emeritus,
While the ones on either side are her attendants,
Just as they were fifty years ago.

Each has dyed her hair blond and wears a thick glaze of make-up
Making her skin look like puffed pastry.
Each sips a water-colored martini,
Studying the room for men, a life- long habit,
Like making the sign of the cross in front of a church.

From the opposite end of the bar,
A short fat man who they know and tolerate
Like the harmless nerd who let them copy his geometry notebook
Approaches.
After talking to them for a few moments,

And eliciting some forced smiles,
He pulls from his jacket pocket a large thin package and lays it on the bar.
Playfully, he reaches his arms around the waist of the middle woman
Making her cringe as if he might grab her breasts.
Instead, he unwraps a large sopressata.

Looking at the shriveled, brownish- black foot-long sausage
The three women simultaneously laugh
And begin comparing it to dead lovers,
Saying things like “Carlo was half that, just like his father;”
“And young Gino never got it hard so I couldn’t tell you.”

“Tony felt that big when I had him take me from behind,”
The Hall of Fame prom queen says,
Which makes the one on the left stop laughing.
The speaker immediately realizes the mistake
Of mentioning her friend’s dead husband.

For a moment there are only silence and glares,
Until the queen says to the man who brought the sausage
“See the trouble you men always start with that.”
Then to the bartender, “Bring a sharp knife
“So we can cut this into bite- size pieces.”


- - -
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher, who with his wife Jeanne, divides his time between Pennsylvania and Winter Garden, Fl. His work has appeared in many journals. His one collection is SOUTH OF SCRANTON.

Homemade Cookies and Gin

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
She's always been a caution,
Aunt Matilda has,
what with her passion

for the young man
she lured home with
homemade cookies

and gin to mow
her spacious lawn
this summer afternoon

in the oven of 3 p.m.
She watches Jack
through the curtain

of her picture window
as his sweat drips
in rivulets

like Uncle Tim's.
Tim's been dead
twenty years now

but Aunt Matilda
sees him mowing
through the curtain

as she sips warm gin.
She keeps his martini
in his jelly glass.

She needs ice,
a pat on her fanny,
a grin from Uncle Tim.


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

Whispers

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
I am a whisper.
Of storms through your skin,
the desire-rain
across your inner thigh.

You are a whisper.
Of buttons slightly untamed,
the lightning-window
inside a metal frame.

This pinprick in our shadow
reveals a minor flow,
like hearts caught in a spiral
where the wind ascends.

And if dust settled
on the swan’s bones,
a quilt-sky could rise
from this field of poppies.

Until then, I am a whisper.
Of night tangled in vines,
the dream-pathos
exhausting your sleep.

Until then, you are a whisper.
Of thoughts shutting my eyes,
the curtain-stage
hiding these theatricals.

You say:
I cannot go beyond words for you—
We both know why.

And I reply:
When my heart falls to the floor,
poetry will do.


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

A Two-Fingered Goodbye

| Filed under

Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
Fighting back all of her tears
she rushes out into the rain.
Stumbles down the last step
picks herself up once again.
“Don’t Go!” she cries insanely
as the car slips up the road.
Slender hopes vanish in seconds
as her heart regains its load.
Choking upon the heartache
she collapses onto her knees.
She looks up to the heavens
repeating over and over “Please!”
But she is only answered by
more falling rain from the sky.
So to the now distant ex-lover
she waves a two-fingered goodbye.


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories and sketches published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Complimentary Goodbye

| Filed under

Contributor: Chelsea L. Gipson

- -
You left me stranded in an emotional distress
when you ran over my heart as you sped off into the distance.
The fog was thick and the air was cold
I couldn’t see you leave but I felt the freeze you left behind.
You abandoned me when you promised you wouldn’t
and I feel the sting of betrayal in every step I take.
You could have made better of this situation
but you chose to run from your fear rather than face it.
Now I’m haunted by your fears as you planted them in my mind
and what do I do?
I only wish you’d had the courage to face your problems
rather than running from these issues and leaving them with me.
I only wish I’d gotten a complimentary goodbye
instead of no word beside the silence of you leaving.


- - -

STAGE OF GRIEF

| Filed under

Contributor: Ron Yazinski

- -
Other than her psychiatrist,
Nobody wants to see her,

With her hysterical laughter,
Irritating everyone else at the grave site,

Whispering how the pall bearers should wear matching t-shirts
Like a bowling team as they place the body on the straps above the grave;

Asking, as the priest sprinkles holy water,
If the dead man learned to tie his noose by practicing tourniquets;

Telling the old uncle who is crying and trembling with Parkinson’s,
That it’s hardly worth his effort to leave the cemetery.

When one of the mourners whispers for her to be more respectful,
She asks if she should whine like the others, as if life were a continuous 911 call?

This is how her psychiatrist said God made her,
And they’ll just have to accept the way she mourns.


- - -
Ron Yazinski is a retired English teacher, who with his wife Jeanne, divides his time between Pennsylvania and Winter Garden, Fl. His work has appeared in many journals. His one collection is SOUTH OF SCRANTON.

Siren of the Streets

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Whenever she comes by
it's always the same thing.
I make her comfortable
and then she leaves.

I tell her she's a harlot
hooking up all night
with God knows who
but in her case God

looks the other way.
Curious neighbors
ask if I know her.
I ask them do I look

like that kind of man?
Peter denied Christ thrice
but I make Peter a piker
when it comes to denying

this siren of the streets.
Once in a while a neighbor,
smitten as I am, takes her in
because she's attractive

and it's peaceful until
some morning very early
she's on my deck again
heartbroken, forlorn,

willing to do anything
for a nosh and a drink.
Since no one is up
at that hour to see me

I sit on the deck
and she leaps on my lap
and I stroke her until
she's a Lamborghini

purring at a red light.
Then she drives off,
leaving me on the deck
heartbroken, forlorn.

She must have been spayed.
Never had any kittens.
What might Pope Francis
think about this?

Her kittens, after all,
would have been beautiful,
just as she is,
harlot or not.


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

Touch and Tumult

| Filed under

Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -


Receiving the bitter desires of aching want and
Impassioned need, a rare exceptional arousal
In scarlet beaded tears of invocation and
Obsessions sure layer and engaged arrival,
The troth of one and the love of near
Wordless chase,
A passionate seduction in gasping
Groans of touch and tumult.


- - -
I am aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. I have written 93 books of poetry over the past several years and 16 novels. I hope you enjoy my work.

Biologically "Female"

| Filed under

Contributor: Emily Ramser

- -
Hairs hang from their chin,
gripping the skin with tiny fingers.

On their ends lay Es-tro-gen and
Test-os-ter-one,

Cause they’re only
a person
With a vagina

that lays awake at night,
quivering
like a dog chasing rabbits in the night
and dreaming,
of the day that it’ll
be a lightsaber
in the embrace
of the lips of a woman.


- - -
Emily Ramser lives in Winston-Salem, NC, though you're more likely to find her online at chickadeesweetie.wordpress.com.

Louisiana Summer Haiku

| Filed under

Contributor: James Pollard

- -
sunrise
caught by the Spanish moss
of cypress trees


a white egret
cleaning its feathers
in brown water


twilight
a boat's wake fading
on Lake Pontchartrain


tonight's rain
carries hints of cut grass
and barbeque


a brown pelican
unmoving as the sun sets
in marsh grass


blood
spurts from my hand
croaking catfish


locusts
their mating song
a lullaby


picking pecans
a squirrel chatters
at me


mullets
running and leaping
splashing sunlight


three raccoons
crossing at midnight
speedbumps


sputtering motor
breaking the darkness
across the swamp


burning sugarcane
flowing into the Milky Way
obscuring the moon


- - -
Originally from Louisiana, James has lived in several Asian countries for over 16 years. He is currently teaching primary school in Hong Kong. Besides fishing, composing Haiku is his favorite hobby.

Energy Wanted and Needed and Hunted

| Filed under

Contributor: Chelsea L. Gipson

- -
Hazel eyes are prowling.
Searching.
Yearning.
Desperately needing.
To be feeding.
Not meaning.
To be leading.
Only wanting for,
what they're hunting for.
Always striving.
Never thriving.
Simply seeing.
Another being.
An opportunity so potentially freeing.


As devouring a life-force could be.


- - -

A Shadow of Comfort

| Filed under

Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
Calling backwards from some displaced
internal echo. I am
the grey light shining through the splinter-
ing[ly false?] dawn. Answer:
the fielding of myriad groans. Walls
wailing. Watering weeds (you name them
flowers) in the sidewalked crawlspace
you believe is a coherent mind. Do you
wish for winter among the hills of this desert?
I do [not] understand the desire to freeze.
Solid is just another form of condensation.
Evaporate is the true trail. Follow [my voice and]
its silver silken exhaust[ion]. Deeper
is the true color of calm.


- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation.

To You

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
You laugh, and the world unfolds.
Light falls like rain, stains the dark.
I’m helpless, without speech;
your soul becomes the blue of my eyes.

Forgive me if I stray—
To you.

You smile, and no wars ever were.
You hold time in place, erase the hands.
I’m overcome, filled with adoration;
my soul becomes the brown of your eyes.

Forgive me if I write these words—
To you.

You speak, and the otter shakes a whisker.
You enchant me, a sea horse ballet.
And I swim, deep where tears shed;
now my poetry breathes under oceans.

Forgive me if I expose my heart—
To you.


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

Blur

| Filed under

Contributor: Glenda Grande

- -
Remember the time you loved me? I loved you.
The touch of your hand caressing my face,
All those sweet moments in between kisses
Are slowly fading into a blur, but not forgotten.

Reminiscent of the days that have passed by,
Again, I am thinking of you and our memories.
I thought I let you go, but your presence lingers;
A silvery shadow dancing at the door of my heart.

The memory of your smile, it’s fading away,
The sound of your laughter, it’s fading away;
The love we we shared, it’s no longer there,
The sound of your whispers, no longer there.

Flashback to the memories, fast-forward to now.
Soon, what I remember of you will be just a blur,
The memory of your lips against mine replaced
With another, overriding the essence of you.


- - -
Emotions written from the heart, this young woman writes a collection of literature by telling the tales of life with artful words. Her aim is to make people remember that being emotion-filled is only human. You can find more of her literary works on her website www.angellusion.com

Coy Rapture

| Filed under

Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -

Styles in bashful mention, a harmony brought to light
In wayfare myths of passion and coy rapture,
Beguiling in hearts ablaze and rosy alters of worship,
By the blushing tincture of shy approach and
Tender coquette, the out and bound smile told in degrees
Of romantic reverence, the heedful ambiance in sweet sums
Of bliss, by willowy rush and forward wills of gentle
Arrival, in curtsey to the throne of wild affections and
Flowing measures in eventual betrothal.


- - -
I am aspiring to become established as a poet and a short story writer. I have written 93 books of poetry over the past several years and 16 novels. I hope you enjoy my work.

Rusty Butterfly

| Filed under

Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
I saw this butterfly the other day; it was a thing of such
beauty that I just had to stop and watch it until it flittered
out of view.
It was a kind of powdery white, only not a thin fragile kind
it was a thick healthy kind, but it had rust coloured wings.
I’m serious, I’ve never seen anything quite like it, it was
perfectly white (Almost too perfect) until halfway along the
wings (Yeah, that’s right, about by there, yeah!) and then it was
a beautiful orange, rusty colour, it was indeed magnificent.
I have never thought that rust was beautiful before, but the
next time that I see some, I’m gonna stop and venture a look
and damn it but I might discover something special and all
because of that little butterfly which flittered along the
grassy verge of a busy city street, while everyone refused to
acknowledge its existence but me.


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories and sketches published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

I Don't Want to Be Afraid

| Filed under

Contributor: Kharis Lund

- -
I was walking home alone the other night in my tank top,
Found myself clutching my little pink pepper-spray in one hand and my key, sharp edge out, in the other.
I was afraid. I am afraid.
With pain in my heart
or head
or wherever pain is,
I realized my brothers would never be in this situation,
having to rush home looking over their shoulders.
They walk around like the world is theirs,
because, as of now, it is.

Me though?

I walk home afraid, because I’m a woman.
Because I’ve been taught that I am weak.
Because, right now, I am weak.
Weak from words that make me feel like I’m not enough.
Weak, because I’ve been taught my whole life that my body is a commodity to be taken advantage of - that it’s MY job to protect myself from that.

Thinking about all this makes me scared and sad,
but more than that, it makes me ANGRY,
because, it shouldn’t be this way.
I shouldn’t have to walk home like this and be afraid for my life,
the shadows turning into menacing figures at every step.

I should have been told that I was enough,
that I was beautiful,
that I was smart,
that I was important.
I should have been told that I was strong.
Because, I want this engrained gender discrimination to stop.
Because, I want to walk home and not have to worry about a single damn thing.
Because, I want to believe again the truth that I am strong.


- - -
I'm a college student living in Seattle who would rather eat sushi than do almost anything else. I like good liars and good storytellers, and sometimes, I think they're the same thing.

The Key to a Woman’s Heart is Within the Man

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
Soundless, he crashed along her walls.
Fell like a bruised rock, died shivering in the clover.
She stirred, asleep: an oblivious, silent orchestra.
Autumn leaves and music entered his death—
inner seasons began to change.

The stars shined like a million candles held by darkness.
His cadaver eyes were illuminated, lit by the crescent moon.
His body twitched: the soul threw the Reaper in chains.
By morning he was breathing, somehow stronger—
built less of stone, more of dream.

He opened his arms, embraced the air’s eternal form,
took the earth’s colors and drank them like forgotten wine.
He realized he’d had to die at her feet
before he could be alive in her arms.

I adore you! I adore you, my love!

She awoke with colors exploding over her;
his caring words were sailing down.
Two bluebirds built a nest nearby. She put out two cups of tea.
The morning lifted off the ground and turned her eyes on.
She sighed. She blew a kiss over the garden wall…

His chest cracked, crumbled, blew away.
A fresh, wet heart emerged and stretched its wings.
It beat new, beat with a selfless purpose:
to pump love through all his veins;
to take her hand and lead her towards forever…

So he spread his arms, soared into her beautiful waiting.
Inhaled her sweet stare and found a soft place to land.
And when he dropped glass shadows on boulders, destroying his fears,
a gold key fell from the sky and splashed in her cup of tea.

I love you! he proclaimed, wiping tears from his eyes.
I know, she said, kissing him. I’ve always known.


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

Fruit Cocktail

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
I met a man with many wives
when I was selling pots and pans
door-to-door out West.

He owned a ranch
and wore patched overalls
with red suspenders plus

a cowboy hat above
a bushy black mustache.
We got to talking

at the General Store
and I asked him why
one wife wasn't enough.

He said, "You like fruit?"
"All but grapefruit."
"Understood," the fellow said,

"but every now and then
I bet you'd like a peach
instead of a banana or

an apple instead of an orange."
"Understood," I said.
"It's like pots and pans.

One pot's great for oatmeal
but you'll need a different one
for a fine ragout."


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

Choking

| Filed under

Contributor: Chelsea L. Gipson

- -
Lodged in my throat
are words left unspoken
ne'er to see the light of day.

Lodged in my throat
are truths left like tokens
ne'er to see the light of day.

Lodged in my throat
are jokes left un-cracked
ne'er to see the light of day.

Lodged in my throat
are admissions of guilt leaving me wracked
ne'er to see the light of day.

I cannot breathe 'fore I am
choking on words left unspoken.


- - -

Breathing

| Filed under

Contributor: Alex Adamek

- -
Today.
The memories.
The good and the bad.
Fade away like morning fog.
Clearing my mind.
I am able to see clearly once again.
I can breathe.

Your face.
I can no longer piece it together.
When I picture you, it's not really you.
Only a blurred, Shape of a face.
No expression.
No feelings.
The memories, They are fading.
I can finally breathe.


- - -
I express my feelings and experiences through poetry.
My writing is effected on how I react to subjects.
I'm quite influenced by my family and friends.

Walk Between Class

| Filed under

Contributor: Stephen Walter

- -
A soft breeze tickles me, amidst rustling autumn leaves,
it aches for me to shed my load and float away,
I do so love the breeze, unprejudiced, relieving my strain. . . .I allow it to overtake me, and fling me about the grass.

The midday sun throws its hammer; westbound rays ripple atop crests of the flood-tide as I sit looking (not seeing) with rigid body, like bamboo,
I feel like child – so firm to the ground, but vast as the sky –

A squirrel darts before my throne, from which everything is beautiful, and looks to me with eyes of loneliness, I invite him to stay . . .

The river, moat of the great city– flowing eternally – chuckles, mocking my position,
knowing it is the subject of my envy . . . . it knows I must return to class soon,
I am accosted by the gong of a distant spire; the sound assaults my ears, and threatens repose,
the ring is sharp, cutting my stay short,
It is hard for me to rise, each arm of grass reaching around, pulling closer their gentle lover,
wanting me to stay, I must break your heart.

I begin my journey back . . .

Children are playing in the park, a young boy and girl are playing on the swings,
the boy has fallen off his set, and is attended to by his female companion
. . . . I love her compassion,

A young woman appears in the natural spotlight ahead, the sunlight streaking,
racing around her concaved hips,
I wish to be adjoined to them, to drape them, I envy each and every sunbeam,
that falls upon her,
I stare into the eyes of this perfect stranger. . . . does she realize her beauty?
Does she know she struts atop my pedestal?
Can she feel the newly woven carpet my dreams have laid before her?
I utter a greeting but hear no reply,
my words are lost to the wind. . . .

I have returned to campus, passed unseen boundaries, where suddenly the atmosphere is heavy,
the asphalt is marshland, my limbs are dense. . . . each step tapping into fading reserve,
right brain yields to left,

Buildings seem my shadow – surrounding me – closing like doors the dreamland I had strolled . . .


- - -
I am a civil engineering student at the Stevens Institute of Technology. I play pickup basketball, lift weights, eat fruit, and write poems.

Refining the Line

| Filed under

Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
I love the shape of the moon as transcribed
by a dolphin’s eye. It lies

outside the edges of finite structure.
Three plus three equals a quarter
past noon (on a good day). The waves
laugh at the cycle superimposed
over our sighs. It understands
the true pull of gravity, and finds no compassion
for the grace we call tact. I choose to listen
to the song of sand’s disintegration.
Beauty is corrosion

and a complete disdain for hard-edged forms.


- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation.

Fireworks

| Filed under

Contributor: Jonpaul Taylor

- -
The Fireworks read,
“Use under adult supervision.”
But, who’s going to supervise the supervisors?

The klutzes, high school dropouts, and fathers,
For a couple hundred dollars,
Can buy military grade explosives.

Great!
Time to play
With some matches.

They turn backyards into war zones.
Technicolor light shows
That kiss the skies.

Boom goes the heavens.
Boom goes the neighbors.
Boom goes the fingers on a hand

From a firecracker
Held
Too long.

Great!
Time for a trip
To the Emergency Room.


- - -
Jonpaul Taylor is a student at Wayne State University, majoring in English. His work has been published in Kalkion and Beorh Quarterly.

Sentimental Blue

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
It’s a forget-me-not flower.
It’s a surprise letter by mail.
It’s the love song’s artistic hue.
It’s the color of my words to you.

It’s the waves crashing in.
It’s the ocean beyond the shore.
It’s a warm sky filtering through.
It’s my eyes when I look at you.

It’s a crayon in a child’s hand.
It’s a hug from their small arms.
It’s a glass heart speaking true.
It’s my tears because I miss you.

Sentimental Blue


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

Firstborn

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Born at the foot
of the mountain
what will you do?

You have time to decide
but some die young.
Others live but remain

at the foot of the mountain
where wind like snow
blows them around.

So what will you do?
Go 'round the mountain?
Fly over the mountain?

Or climb the mountain,
hand over hand,
with fingers and toes

tucked in clefts,
stopping only for water,
then going on.

Millions are now
on the side
of the mountain

halfway up
with grappling hooks
and the finest gear.

So what will you do?
Parents can pray but
God only knows.


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

A Wearying Journey and Long (Notes on Depression at 3 a.m.)

| Filed under

Contributor: C.V. Ellis

- -
Minutes are hours,
Days are millennia,
Fatigue is an anchor
Chained to my libido

Energy drains like water
Through the proverbial sieve,
All labors are Herculean
While rest is mere fiction

Joy has left the building,
Sleep defies my authority,
Humor is lost and wandering
Like the man in the crowd

Little pills and therapy
Give something like relief,
Yet grief and sadness linger
To hinder full release

Still, the sun rises
For muster and roll call,
So I stumble into a new day
To renew the journey home

It's a wearying journey and long
This slow motion trip,
Trudging through each day
Just to do it all over


- - -
Family is most important; all else pales in comparison.

Maiden Aunt Advises Niece Tiffany

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
A new coiffure would help.
Your hair should flounce
when you walk.

Spiff up your wardrobe.
Try cashmere sweaters
and fitted skirts.

Great shoes are a must.
Heels high enough to click
"Welcome" on the sidewalk.

You're a lady, Tiffany.
That's important but
bait sets the hook.

Add frippery to folderol
and stroll down Fifth Avenue
on a brilliant summer day.

Wear a new frock
and don't just sashay.
Put some oomph into it.

Smile for no reason at all.
And before summer's over,
you'll be wearing a big ring.


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

Beneath the Waves

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
He floats on green sea, sky softens eyes twilight blue.
Fish set course for curious, jump like finned rainbows.
The heart ventured at daybreak, went searching with sail;
anchored soul waits for resurrection, swirls with dreams.

Apart since sunrise, he’s been at opposite ends of her hour.
Life sleeps on shore, sunset bends towards fiction.
Love has splashed her, soaked the heart with promises;
angelic soul lifts, maiden albatross flies.

He waits, she will come—
and they will swim down together.


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

When You Get Old (V2)

| Filed under

Contributor: Michael Lee Johnson

- -
When you get old
you leave everything behind−
present tense past tense,
hangers on refusing to turn loose,
high school letter sweaters, varsity
woolen jackets, yearbooks 1965,
covers that quickly open, slam shut−
high school romances only faces
where they were then−
ice cubes frozen in time.

No more teary eyes,
striking flames,
moist match heads
igniting bedroom sheets
and teenage bedside rumors.

You leave wife, or wives
behind toss out your youthful affairs.

All single events were just encounters,
cardiac dry ice, ladies with crimson clover eyes.

No more strings tightened, broken bows,
heart dreams slit vows, melancholy violin romances.

You continue leaving reading glasses, key chain, ATM card,
senior discount cards, footnotes are your history,
artificial sweeteners, doctor appointments daily,
keep touching those piano notes, phone numbers in sequence
in tattered address books, names attached to memories
hidden behind.

Everything rhymes with plural thoughts and foggy memories.

Youth was a bullyboy club-
the older I get the less I'm battered−
trust me I got witnesses in between−
saviors of wings, fantasies,
tense has no grammatical corrector,
it always dances around the rim of red wine.

Life now fills with silver teaspoons
of empty senior moments−
blank shells of present, past tense,
and yank me back recalls.

Do you remember those 1st 25 years?
Shrinking brain space remembers
dances of sporadic nighttime boogies,
sports, senior prom, Thomas's Drive-In,
Spin-It-Record Shop, Dick Biondi,
WLS Chicago top 100.

Remember the next 25 years?
high school reunions grow dimmer−
priest of the voodoo dolls punch in numbers
of once living and now dead−
undresses all.

Rise forward from your medieval pews.
Wherever you now live,
do you remember these things−
prayer, ghosts deep in the
pockets of our former youth.

Old age waits patiently in the face
of a full moon−a new generation.

When you get old
you leave everything behind.

-2013-


- - -
About the Poet:
MICHAEL LEE JOHNSON lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois, who has been published in more than 750 small press magazines in twenty-five countries, he edits seven poetry sites. Michael has released The Lost American: From Exile to Freedom (136 page book), several chapbooks Of his poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 66 poetry videos on YouTube.
Links: http://poetryman.mysite.com/

Secret for the Queen

| Filed under

Contributor: Jim Naylor

- -
If I could I would slow the stars
and bring to an unhurried pace
to gaze as the light reflects
then bring to an unworried space
the words that I’ve said times before
but right now I cannot so for this
the words I share times therefore

light the skies with the stars
make the nights never dark
pouring light every where far
make the lights in the heart
I rise from a slumber shared
make the nights never dark
and rise from slumber shared


- - -

Satan's Annual Report

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Adolph's been here since the Forties.
So have Benito and Tojo.
As soon as they arrived we gave
each of them a huge furnace.
They shovel coal all day and all night.
That's what we do with celebrities
who have earned special attention.
We give it to them in spades.

Down through the centuries
we've been home to the best or the worst
people in government and business,
depending on how you look at it.

Check out Attila over there.
He's been shoveling for centuries
and he's getting pretty efficient.
We put Osama right next to him.
Osama's so tall we had to order
our longest shovel yet.

We're getting ready for Assad.
He could arrive any day now.
We put in a gas furnace for him.
He'll shovel emissions.
Pol Pot will train him.

Pot's done well foot-stomping grapes
in our Agent Orange fields.
He trained all the guys from Monsanto.
Now we'll bring him up to speed on Sarin.
We expect a big influx of Sarin experts.
Sarin will be bigger than plastic.


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

Out Of Hiding

| Filed under

Contributor: L.A. Sykes

- -
Despise in their eyes
Have a proper gander
At the propaganda and the lies
And the deal that they’ll hand you

I said no so they gave me a hiding
Thought I was free but they’d been watching and spying
Anger is an energy said rotten Jonny Lydon
The cops must have heard him. What a good a hiding!

Time is of the essence
Ascent is economic?
Try and preach some sense
They label you a comic

I lost my job and couldn’t stop crying
Tears of joy truth told no lying
Started to starve so it was off to the street bin
I’d beat them to it so they gave me a hiding!

I never signed nor saw the contract
The week before I agreed to be born
The solicitor forgot to make the contact
So leave me legally alone

I’m trapped at the bottom so I’d best get high then
I winked at judiciary through the smoke in the drug den
In their gentleman’s club that I didn’t belong in
Sweet dreamless sleep from too hard a hiding


- - -
L.A. Sykes is a writer from Atherton, Greater Manchester, whose works include his debut short story collection, ‘Through A Shattered Lens, I Saw’, and the novella, ‘The Hard Cold Shoulder’, both out now in all formats through Thunderune Publishing’s crime noir arm. He’s been up or due at Shotgun Honey, Powder Burn Flash, The Big Adios, Blink Ink, Linguistic Erosion, Death Throes, James Ward Kirk’s Bones anthology, Dark Dreams Podcast and others and contributes to Mark Slade and Frank Larnerd’s bizarre noir Blackout City Podcast while he works on his first novel and other projects.

Harmless

| Filed under

Contributor: Jade Bennington

- -
Twig in hand,
I part muddy leaf upon leaf,

and out of the puddle, I lift


a ribbed golden fish

shimmering like summer.

That's a rattlesnake. 

It's poisonous, says the boy 

beside me.


Last breath

above water

and the earthworm

I let fall

splashes into the puddle
sinks below dandelion tendrils

my eyes widen,
mouth open.


- - -
Jade Bennington is a writer of poems and fiction. Her work has appeared in Gean Tree Press, a handful of stones, and Meridian Anthology, Vol. III. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and currently resides in Raynham, Massachusetts.

Poppycock

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
The Alumni News
arrives by email now,
no longer in a
proper envelope.
This saves trees,

the college says.
Poppycock, I say.
Truth be told,
this saves
postage, labor.

Names of alumni
appear by year,
most recent first.
Takes time to scroll
down to find

the Class of '56
only to discover
Fred is dead
and so is Ed.
Every issue knells

more classmates
nodding off.
One man's left
in the Class of '38.
He's the one

dead classmates
sent their news to.
By email, I imagine.
This saves trees.
Poppycock, I say.


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

Perfect Desire

| Filed under

Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -

Believing in the suns cadent aura,
An amazing halo of perfect desire reflected by the
Mirrored glass of passionate eyes and tender smiles,
The enticing allure of a love borne in the cradle
Of a deeper dream, by dizzy deliriums in gasping need
And the slow passage of a moment in sweet embrace.


- - -
I have been writing since I was eight years old. I have published in a variety of magazines and I love to see my work in print, especially if i can influence the reader to a moment in time, a thought, a feeling, perhaps a distant memory of something pleasant or inspiring. I hope you enjoy my work.

Evolution of Life

| Filed under

Contributor: Chelsea L. Gipson

- -
Butterflies flutter
like cavemen stutter
but both are just living their life.

Blossoming cocoons tremble
like twins resemble
but both are just living their life.

Caterpillars crawl
like procrastinators stall
but both are just living their life.

Larvae grow
like the winds blow
but both are just living their life.


- - -

Let me be your star

| Filed under

Contributor: Linda M. Crate

- -
I'd walk a thousand miles
for your love and even a million
more, I'd wear nothing more than
a white withered rose if that
would gain me your affection; I
could be your super nova and burn
away all the pain of every
hurtful yesterday that clings as dew
upon your grasses, let me be the
star that brightens your galaxy -
allow me to be the one to blaze
dawn upon your darkest day.


- - -
Linda Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh, but she was raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She has recently moved to Fort Fairfield, ME. She attended and graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English-Literature in 2009. She has a passion for writing that she has nurtured since the age of thirteen. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines the latest of which includes: Nebo: A Literary Journal and Visceral Uterus.

A Nest Of Bayonets

| Filed under

Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
In a nest of bayonets
the war child was born.
Smooth and armoured
into the battlegrounds' dawn.

As the sky thundered with artillery
and blood puddled upon the ground.
The war child, it happily suckled
upon each and every dying sound.

He grew up to be healthy
to be superior and proud.
Is he pressing that button
or just messing around?


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories and sketches published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Postpartum Depression

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
A wound like that
doesn't leave a scar
because it never heals.

Fifty years ago
the doctors didn't
have a name for it

but that's no help
to Jimmy now.
Ginny's dead

and their six kids
have children of their own,
some of them in college.

The doctors know
how to treat it now.
They tell mothers

what to watch for
after giving birth.
They tell fathers, too,

but that's no help
to Jimmy
in his wheel chair

sitting in the lobby
of the nursing home
watching silent

movies of his life
flicker through his mind.
A rerun every day.

He can't even
speak about it
since the stroke.

A wound like that
doesn't leave a scar
because it never heals.


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

About Love

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
We do not need thoroughfares
when love seeks the heart

Such is the way of love—
always destined, never sought

We do not need gold coins
when love comes without cost

Such is the value of love—
always priceless, never bought

We do not need a wise man
when love speaks through art

Such is the beauty of love—
always instilled, never taught

And we do not need a ruse
when love surrenders to us all

Such is the enigma of love—
always mysterious, never caught


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

On trying to write a poem for my love

| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Cody

- -
Is it artistic excess
or mere stupidity?
Certainly my poetic license
has done expired,
null and void
at my first attempt
to describe,
in mundane words,
the essence of a woman
whose beauty and life
leave me breathless
and speechless
with tears in my eyes.


- - -
Richard Cody writes poetry and fiction in San Jose, California. His work has appeared in many print and virtual journals, and been rejected by many more! He is the author of The Jewel in the Moment, Darker Corners and This is Not My Heart.

This Rose

| Filed under

Contributor: Michael Lee Johnson

- -
So
simple
yet so
small
this
yellow rose
I place
beneath
your door.

-1973-


- - -
Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer from Itasca, Illinois. His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available at: http://stores.lulu.com/promomanusa.

Into the Land of Fires

| Filed under

Contributor: Lorraine Caputo

- -

I.
The phantom full moon
meets the morning sun
gliding a broad band
across the Strait of Magellan


II.
On the higher pampas
guanacos crunch
the icy snow with
each stride of their grazing

In a rime-edged pond
rose flamingos huddle

A solitary ñandú
gazes across the plain


III.
Again along the Estrecho
its waters deep-
steel-blue, fringed by
stiff paja brava


IV.
Upon these shores strewn
with centuries of wrecked ships
rust the ruins of an estancia


V.
A herd of guanaco startles
& flees through the grass,
russet-headed caiquén
take wing


VI.
Across the First Narrows
of Magellan’s Strait
to Tierra del Fuego, its
autumn-gold steppes
marked by the soft step
of guanaco, southern
clouds periwinkle
in the noon sun


VII.
A northern wind whip the
hair of chapped-face men
leading horses, whips the
fur of their dogs, the
fleece of their sheep


VIII.
A rainbow arcs
from the now-hilly land,
into the snow-laden sky


IX.
Magellan Geese fly
low over this frozen
Land of Fires swept
by winds swirling across
frosty lagoons

On the far southern horizon
scrapes Darwin’s
glaciered range


X.
Guanaco shelter
in rocky tors
sculpted by the wind
into abstract
lace towers


XI.
The harsh gale
rustles the manes
of wild mustangs
atop a knoll, scouting
the pampas below


XII.
Faintly Iris’ arch
washes the clouds
above almost-winter plains

Frigidly the ocean gleams
beneath the weak
austral sun


XIII.
Twilight drapes its royal-
blue cape across the steppes,
a fiery full moon rises
over Tierra del Fuego


XIV.
I search the clear night
for that Crux Australis
to lead me to the shores
of Beagle Channel


XV.
Moonlight bathes the snow,
silhouettes Northofagus
& ghostly mountains
streaked with frozen
cascades



ñandú—Lesser Rhea (Pterocnemia pennata)
Estrecho—the Spanish name for the Magellan Strait is Estrecho de Magallanes
paja brava—a wild grass (Festuca spp)
caiquén—Magellan Goose (Chloephaga picta)
Cruz Australis—the Southern Cross
Northofagus—family of larch & beech trees



- - -
Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer whose works appear in over 90 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia; eight chapbooks of poetry; five audio recordings and ten anthologies. Caputo has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. For the past decade, she has been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

Rifts and Sky Dust

| Filed under

Contributor: Taylor Gibbs

- -
A spray of dust
that falls from stars.
That leaps
and swirls off your tongue,
has blinded eyes,
to your guise, ruses
from your lungs.
A blindfold grown of cataracts;
visions blurred of
crawling cracks,
inch-ing along the walk,
opens up Marianas, like a diner,
free for all, drop in -
The way my stomach plunges off a pier
when I see you again.


- - -
My name is Taylor, I live in Mississauga Ontario. I love to read and write poetry and what I call the "Sensitive Macabre." I am set to have a few poems published in the Wilderness House Literary Review, and I am self-published.

The Existence of You

| Filed under

Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
Morning—delicate
thirsty
the sky yawns
earth stretches . . .
You near the ending of a peaceful, romantic dream.
The silence of night subsides, you open your eyes—
two emeralds shine beneath the sun.

Another day is born,
another morning blessed.
Such simple truths are easily told
by the existence of you.

Night—romantic
alive
the stars shine
earth sighs . . .
You smile and all things are curious—
a shooting star passes over your essence.

Another twilight has come,
another night takes the stage.
Standing ovations are easily understood
by the existence of you.

I hear them . . .
I hear them whenever I'm around you—
the subtle, graceful heartbeats of angels.
They surround you like butterflies gone mad.

And all my love for this world,
all my love for beauty, for nature;
all my love for life was awakened
by the existence of you.


- - -
Jason Sturner was born in Harvey, Illinois, and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago. He has published three books of poetry: Kairos, 10 Love Poems, and Selected Poems 2004-2007 (all available as free downloads; see website). He resides in Wheaton, Illinois and works as a botanist at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Website: www.jasonsturner.blogspot.com

Your Strength

| Filed under

Contributor: Linda M. Crate

- -
like a frightened mouse
I lay in my hole
unwilling to dart out into
situations that make me uncomfortable,
yet you've taught me sometimes
I have to be brave and
weather the storm
no matter how difficult they
are or how much I'd like to run away
because you would never let me shatter.


- - -
Linda Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh, but she was raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She has recently moved to Fort Fairfield, ME. She attended and graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English-Literature in 2009. She has a passion for writing that she has nurtured since the age of thirteen. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines the latest of which includes: Nebo: A Literary Journal and Visceral Uterus.

Into The Garden

| Filed under

Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
I took her into the garden,
she wanted to see a shooting star.
I wished her luck,
took three steps away
and wondered if it would get her
with its first shot.


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories and sketches published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet.

Deification

| Filed under

Contributor: C.V. Ellis

- -
Take my splintered psyche,
Lie down with me in night,
Reach deep into
My black-fog abyss,
Pull me back to
Sanity's door
As I dance with Clarity,
Let me feel your
Velvet breath
Tremble on my nape

Lift off the years of
Pestilence and blight,
Cure the syndromes,
The plaguing signs
That rape and
Mindless abuse
Left behind,
Undo the spells
And Juju curses,
Deify me now
With your caress

Tell me this night
That you alone
Are sent by the Gods,
The agent of Grace, to
Transform my scars,
Heal my Illness
For a brief hour
In shadows of night,
Take me to a sacred place,
Offer release


- - -
I love to read and write and prefer poetry that tells it like it is.
I've been married for 36 yrs. (yes, to the same woman).
I attended San Diego State University.

Haunting Afflictions of Love

| Filed under

Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -
The coquette of a burning glance back
Toward the dreaming silence of a heated intention
To betrothal, whispered in accord and oblique
Lines of shadow, the mystery of a silhouette together with the sustenance
Of a better shadow, shameless by the
Obliging love of a divine adage given substance
By lights in vaguely haunting afflictions
Of love.


- - -
I have been writing since I was eight years old. I have published in a variety of magazines and I love to see my work in print, especially if i can influence the reader to a moment in time, a thought, a feeling, perhaps a distant memory of something pleasant or inspiring. I hope you enjoy my work.

To Be Read From The Inside Out

| Filed under

Contributor: Paula Ray

- -
My heart is an unopened love letter,
yellowing at the bottom of a rusty mailbox.
A slice of light moves through my prison like a sundial.
I dream of warm hands,
a face pushed against my back,
someone breathing me in,
ripping open this envelope I wear like a shroud,
and unfolding me,
spreading me naked,
eyes scanning every inch of me,
devouring what they see,
until liquid happiness falls from their eyes and lands on my name,
causing it to blur and bloom into something beyond language.


- - -
Paula Ray is a musician from North Carolina with a syncopated heart and an addiction to prose poetry. One of her poems has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, which both surprises and delights her. Paula's work has appeared in numerous small press zines, such as: Weirdyear, elimae, Word Riot, Liebamour and Necrotic Tissue. Visit her blog: http//:musicalpencil.blogspot.com for more information.

From America With Love

| Filed under

Contributor: Keith Fuchs

- -
This is no scrimmage,
I envisage, scrounging some tips
To take a trip in to the dew
To bask in the sight of you.
You'd appear especially fair,
You've let down your mahogany hair.
Straight strands or in a plait or mane prepared.
Either way, you will be alluring and grand.
The color of your iris match the hue of tee-shirt or blouse.
Elegantly dressed, with a matching skirt or pant.
Your lips are soft, sweet and wet
With your nose bantam and perky
Courteously set.
Your face ought to be painted in portrait,
For it is a work of art, every moment I get
To behold it's beauty resplendent.
Your smile is homely and cordial
A constant reminder, I'm mortal.
For I conceive why I was born,
To forlorn the embark of such an ethereal species.
To understand that it is she,
That gives life meaning.
As I sleep, i do not count sheep,
I formulate, the steps to take
To arrive in her brace.
In a distant courtyard, a far
I envision commandeering a car,
Over rolling hills and grassy knolls,
Under overcast skies, as the gale blows.
A misty drizzle soaks the lonely road
Cobblestone footbridges over creeks that trickle and flow.
I traveled a great span,
Seeking your sister's hand.
Your cousin, your niece
She awaits in the terrace cloister,
At the circle, down the close.
There, the botany and posy prosper
You can recite her various titles,
Only one fits her proper.
My love, she is the jewel in my chest.
My heart which flutters, twitch and compress.
Upon the scent of her, I'm rapturous.
Madam Lissy, you and I should be together.
Our love can blossom in inclement weather.
Shine when it's pleasant and turn knees to feathers.
Let us not dwell on our shortcomings.
I love you too much and you love me.
So dearest Alison, can't you see?
It should always be, you and me.


- - -

Monsanto's Gift to War

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Smitty isn't Schulte.
He doesn't drive a Cadillac
and doesn't hit his wife
often any more.
Schulte, on the other hand,
drives a Cadillac
and hits his wife
usually on weekends
for no good reason.
He's been doing that for
more than 40 years
ever since the boys
came home from Viet Nam

not knowing they had been
touched by Agent Orange,
Monsanto's gift to war.
They had a double wedding with
girls they liked in high school.
Smitty says therapy
has helped a little.
He hasn't struck his
second wife in years.
But Schulte hasn't changed.
The police have come again
tonight, sirens blaring,
gumball lights swirling.

Two big officers,
matched like bookends,
march Schulte out in cuffs.
He's cursing at his wife
who's in a nightgown
bawling on the porch
as if Schulte's going
back to Nam again.
Smitty swears Schulte
never left the paddies, that
he's still knee-deep in water
bright with Agent Orange,
Monsanto's gift to war.


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

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