Never Letting Go

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Contributor: John Ogden

- -
There are peaks
Places
Where we have stopped
And looked down
Seen valleys dark
And valleys verdant
Seen the little farms and vineyards
Built by friends
And those we love.

And then there are the brambles
And then there are the thorns
But we get through them
We fight through them
Together.

Each sweet supper
Each sweet sip of nectar
We take
Is worth
Not letting go
Never letting go.


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

Lost Love

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Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
I know you miss him
He's the sore you can't help but poke
He's the one you could have built
Something with
If only things had been different
If only he'd stayed
Out of the slammer.

I know you miss him.
I know what it's like
To miss someone
You lost
To look back
And wonder
What might have been
What might have been.


- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

What's Gonna Be, Asks Billy?

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Tell me, Grandma,
what's gonna be
when Grandpa dies?
He's layin' in bed
and he ain't movin' and
he ain't sayin' nuthin'
so tell me, Grandma,
what's gonna be?

Grandpa told me
come next Spring
we'll go fishin' again
down by the river
and in summer
and we'll trap rabbits
and have a feast.
No one else goes
fishin' with me.
Tell me, Grandma,
what's gonna be?

And Grandma says,
Billy, I don't know
what's gonna be
except to say
when Grandpa dies,
you and me and all
the neighbors will sit
around the fireplace,
poke the embers
and tell our stories.
Everyone will cry
oceans about
your Grandpa.

But first, Billy,
the angel in his chariot
has to tap the horses
and swoop down
and take Grandpa
off to heaven.
Your mom and dad
are waiting for him.

The angel's in
no hurry, Billy,
but the horses are.
They have other
calls to make.
Grandpa's not
the only one
who has to
say good-bye.
Soon, Billy,
you and I will know
what's gonna be.
Now we can hug
and wait and see.


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

History

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Contributor: Amanda Firefox

- -
When I said that I loved you,
I meant that I love you
With all of your slain hearts
All of your chains
All of your thorny dragons
And ages
Of roaring war

But I thought your wars were over
I thought your dragons had all gone silent
And I thought your chains were cut
But some of those old bones still rattle
And I can hear your hands
Muffling the beats
Of other hearts.



- - -
Amanda Firefox is a fiery little brunette who spends as much time at the beach as she can manage. She doesn't write much, but when she writes, it's almost always about her favorite subject: boys.

Dies Irae Dies Illa

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Contributor: Elizabeth Morton

- -
when the world ends it will be a weekend.
four Clydesdales will trudge through the supermarket.
but the women will be buying celery and ham hocks and deodorants like they always do, and nobody will notice the burning bush by the sardines or the plague of locusts chattering by the ceiling fans.

when the world ends our cardboard palaces that periodically break down will be prised open.
and us, hunkered by wicker furniture and houseplants.
our skylights peeled back.
cockroaches will make love like they always do.
and the sky will smell like marmite.

the city's flood plains will be slick with neopolitan oils, cigarette ends, paper napkins.

and the wave on the horizon will be friendly as a shadow.

and the skyscrapers will wait
upon the breaker like bone.


- - -
Elizabeth Morton is a writer and sometime student from New Zealand. In her free time she collects obscure words in supermarket bags. She has been published in Poetry NZ, Blackmail Press, JAAM, Shot Glass Journal and Takahe magazine.

How to Avoid a Holiday Heart Attack

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Contributor: J. K. Durick

- -
When it knocks don’t answer, pretend that the knock and nudge of it
is some plumbing thing that needs your attention, but not right now.

If it’s under the tree, ignore it, like the scarf Aunt Martha always sends
Or the Murphy’s fruitcake, or the three wicked candle Curtis dropped off.

If it’s gotten into your stocking, up there on the mantle, hand it off to
whoever might mistake it for theirs, deception in some cases is okay,
at least for the day, this break in the somber business of pressure and
pulse and pills, this day off from diet and determination and dying.

Avoid indulging in the seconds and thirds of the things that make the day,
stay away all day from anger and joy, then melt, blend into the scene,
become a bit of bland background for the others to ignore, don’t worry
about your gray face or shortness of breath or the pain in your right arm.

Cold sweat and lightheadedness just add to the holiday feel of things,
the pressure in your chest is just another restless guest doing his best.

Dismiss caution, grab a shovel and head out for the mouth of the driveway.
Even at your age you can clear it faster than any kid can or ever could.


- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Eye on life Magazine, and Leaves of Ink.

Scenes from a Parish

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
The weekday Mass at 6 a.m.
brings old folks out
from bungalows
around the church.
They move like caterpillars
down sidewalks,
some with canes,
some on walkers.

Young Father Doyle says the Mass
and is renowned for giving
homilies on weekdays
superior to homilies
heard in other churches
even on a Sunday.

After Mass, he goes back
to the rectory to care
for a mother older than
most of his congregants.
A gracious lady, his mother
cannot move or talk
because of a stroke.

But every Sunday at noon,
when the church is overflowing
with people wanting Mass to start,
Father Doyle, in full vestments,
wheels his mother in a lump
down the middle aisle
and lifts her like a chalice
and places her in the front pew
before he ascends to the altar.

Sometimes at night,
when his mother is finally asleep,
he returns to the Church
and rehearses in the dark
three hymns she long ago
asked him to sing at her funeral.

He practices the hymns
because the doctor said
she could go at any time
and when that time comes,
he doesn't want to miss a note.
The last thing she ever said was
"Son, I'll be listening."


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

Slipstream Together

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Contributor: Elsa Fahey


We ride in your car
together

You tell me about the stars
about planets made
of burning ice
and I am burning
inside
despite the night's ice.

You tell me about the trees
point out the ones that fruit
point out the leaves
and I am a flower
inside
ready to blossom
at your touch.

You tell me about us
about all of the places you want to see
with me
and I smile
inside
because I don't care if we fly
or stay in bed all day

let time turn on, boy
let time slip away


- - -
Elsa Fahey lives in Los Angeles, sometimes. She likes dancing, travel and danger.

Once, Now

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Contributor: J.R. deLong

- -
Once, we stood together
Now, we stand apart.

Once, we held each other
Now, we rarely touch.

Once, we held hands
While we pushed on through the sands
Through the winter and the weather
Dragged each other
No matter how hard the hell around us fell

but somewhere
some-where
some         how
   I                   lost
you
            lost
your              hand.

Now, when I say “I love you,”
I only remember that once
you didn't hesitate
to reply
in kind.


- - -

If She Breaks Me

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Contributor: Harry H. Wooster, Jr.

- -
If she breaks me,
I'll live a life that makes her want me.
I'll shave off all the rough edges
sweep up the cutest little oriental cutie
pamper her with sweets and wine
make her so completely mine
with a belly full of children
one after one after another
all bearing my name
all fighting over the legacy
I'll build
without the one
who couldn't see
to stick with me.


- - -
HHW jr. is the son of a Marshall and aims to carry on the family name no matter the cost.

Dialogue

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
What is faith worth
If it allows atrocities
To be committed in its name?

(It is the agony of a beast
Caught in a trap
That it built itself)

And what does hope bring
When the world keeps on making
The same mistakes?

(It is the dream of a bird
That challenges the wind
Till it cripples its wings)

And what permits charity
To be just another label
For robbing the blind?

(It is the flaw of the heart
That’s as easily swayed
As easily fooled)


- - -
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.

Plain Rides

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Contributor: Nicole Hampton

- -
Big metal cutting through the air
The lion of the sky
I am impenetrable in its womb
I soar
Palm to hard Plexiglas
Floating through the atmosphere

When I was little I would stare at the sky
In a way I don’t now,
Fuck, I miss the little things

I would lie on my trampoline
And wave at all the passengers on the plane
Knowing at least one would see me

I would change their life

They’d remember this girl on the trampoline
Trying to bounce ever closer to the big blue
They’d come rescue me from this place
They would uproot me
An unsatisfied weed waiting to bloom

Now here I am way up here
As the pressure builds and my ears pop in my skull

The person in front of me leaning their seat back another inch
Me pushing back rudely
Everyone knows you shouldn’t put the seat down
That two-inch luxury is reserved for first class

As I sip my nine dollar mini bottle of wine
Stilling the stress of playing God
Looking down at all the houses
Brown hats, beige bodies
Growing grey legs and arms
Stretched out all over the Earth
Square patches for plotted food
Cars like beetles I could squash
It didn’t seem real
I used to want this, to fly away

But there is no more appeal to being up so high
I cannot breathe
I cannot move
I cannot even touch the sky


- - -

30 Minutes

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Contributor: Lena Ziegler

- -
So suddenly, I am alone.
No watchful eye asking me to be careful when I drive.
No laughter or shared inside jokes about shitty reality TV.
No more talk about our Christmas tree.

We said we’d hang the lights together. But together for us means alone.

I’m so often alone together with you, your body a vessel filled with emptiness parked steadily on our loveseat; my body aching with the strongest desire to go back to what we were.

30 minutes ago.

30 minutes ago you were the hero, now you stand defeated by the villain within you, forcing you to stumble and slur in the most unflattering ways.

You look like a fool.
You look like a freak.
You are not unique.

You are a washed up piece of wood, used and broken, unable to withstand the waves of jealousy that break through your mind.
You are everything I am glad I am not.

No details go unnoticed. You insisted on going to the car to get that last string of lights.

This strikes me as suspicious.

I have a job interview tomorrow. A great opportunity they tell me. I’ll really get the chance to jump start my career. Professional growth for college graduates and newlyweds.

The bells jingle around the doorknob as you open the front door, brushing remnants of snow off of your shoulders. It’s already melting into your hair.

You haven’t washed your hair in days.

You walk toward the kitchen, tracking snow and salt onto the carpet, forgetting to wipe your feet. You hand me the string of lights. Your eyes are already lazy.

No details go unnoticed.

I peel pieces of mozzarella off of the inner part of the cheese grater, my eyes tracing your movements. You pass from the kitchen to the attached living room, lingering as you kick off your shoes. Muddy snow crumbles out of the grooves of your boots onto my freshly scrubbed kitchen floor.

You are so careless when it comes to me.

Earlier today we bought our tree.

We hurried across the street, our feet slipping on the slick pavement. Freezing rain. I unlock the car and we climb in, wincing together as our legs press against the cold leather seats. My teeth chatter dramatically as a whine that I must be the coldest girl in the world. You kiss my cheek. The news had said that we shouldn’t go out. The streets are too icy. The freezing rain will soon be snow. Stormy conditions.

Only a few blocks down the city street to choose the new addition to our broken home; a lovely green Christmas tree.

“Turn it up,” you say smiling and reaching for the stereo. Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” echoes merrily through the speakers and fills the car with something.


- - -

Paddy Murphy Is Fred Astaire

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
It's six below and so much snow
this January midnight.
Sunday's gone
and Monday's turning.

Yet Paddy Murphy's stepping out,
his crushed fedora all askew.
He's soused again and all aglow,
dancing along Fifth Avenue.

Tonight he thinks he's Fred Astaire
and so he's swirling in the air.
He needs a partner way up there,
someone pretty, someone fair.

If it weren't for the music
that only he can hear,
Paddy would be gone by now.
Tonight he's whistling, though,

delighted that his fingers find
the parking meter posts
are an endless xylophone.
Listen to him play those posts

so all the world can hear
Paddy's favorite tune,
the jig of an ancient tippler
with one last dance to go.


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

That Sudden Silence

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Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
That sudden silence
was me
sliding into the sea.

That sudden silence
was me
realizing you couldn't hurt me
anymore.

I stood in the surf for hours
I stood naked to the rising tide
I shivered
and I sank
until there was no more
until there was nothing more of you,
until my skin was clean
of your marks
of your scars.

That sudden silence
was me
breathing free
because only the sea
could cleanse me.


- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

Cry Louder

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Contributor: Ben Riddle

- -
In solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

Crying is the innate human response
to suffering so immense
that the individual
lacks an ability
to articulate
to escape
to cope
with that suffering.

Instead, the mind and body unite
shaking and trembling
with all their might
in an effort to
draw attention
to the issue at hand
even if no one is listening.

Crying is an innate human response
to suffering so systematic
so overwhelming
that there is no option
but to cry out
to place roses in the streets
to raise hands in peaceful protest
to wash away what was and start again.

It’s time to make a change.


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

Scrapped

| Filed under

Contributor: Moischicho

- -
Time to stop crawling

ignore the threat

still there

like a coiled viper

take place as my own without risking a death

an abandoned state of silence

insults and sarcastic embraces

the slut who wants to please has grown tired of the role

and ugly emotions won't fall asleep

putting on a new reflection

that illuminates

straight through bone and marrow

survival strategies must be scrapped and burned

I stand here now in bare costume

without it all

without defense

the heart’s fire and light is strong and will forever remain.


- - -

Indelible

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
Sometimes I see it
In the impressions of a child’s hands
In a fresh section of cement

And sometimes in a group
Of black limousines passing
Leading a long line of cars

And sometimes in the initials
Someone carved in a tree
Surrounded by an arrowed heart

The knowledge that we make
Marks upon the world
That forbid it to forget us


- - -
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.

The Food Stamp Cafe

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Being out of work
during the holidays
is twice as bad and
twice that's happened
now to Wally Ballew
who calls his kitchen
The Food Stamp Cafe.
Both times Wally convinced
Beulah and the kids
hot dogs are haute cuisine

provided you
vary the preparation:
Boil them one day,
grill them the next,
and bake them
the following day
after you split them
down the middle
and fill them
with Velveeta.

As a rule of thumb,
Wally says to toast
the buns and change
condiments every day
until a turbaned genie
rises from the mustard jar
waves his wand
and hires you again.
But save the recipes.
It can happen again.


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

Storm

| Filed under

Contributor: J. K. Durick

- -
Around here this time of year
our weather weighs us down
the heft of snow bulges barns
and streets, pulls on our back-
muscles and hearts, strains and
pains and gains, closes roads and
airports, postpones everything
it touches, brings us inside,
reminds us of childish things
like sliding or digging down in it
to igloos or forts away, out of
the wind, out of school for the day.

Somehow, it feels the same, even
now, becomes so quiet; a kindness
surrounds us, surprises us –
the storm itself becomes shelter
against the storm.


- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Eye on life Magazine, and Leaves of Ink.

The Sleepless Settee

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Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
Upon the sleepless settee
I lay down tonight.
Body tied to exhaustion
Mind still in flight.
I cannot get comfortable
I turn over again and again.
I need sleep, rest, relaxation
But in insomnia I remain.
Through my dead window
The skies brighten to grey.
As my mood darkens to pitch
Birds sing in the new day.
I should have drunk last night
I wouldn’t now be in this Hell.
I would be in oblivion
Unconscious but asleep as well.


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography 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. You can read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

Bullet Stains

| Filed under

Contributor: Nicole Hampton

- -
You never expect to actually see it
You go to matinées and
are morbidly obsessed by it
While you eat your fifteen dollar popcorn
Crunch, gunshots, crunch, screams

When you first see the blood
After that show seen long ago
It’s sort of like the movies
Except you’re the one breaking
Wetting your face with hot surrender
Shutting down like a computer
Dropping to your knees
Shrinking away from this world

Someone close to you may die
The blood is a horror scene
The blood is a horror seen
You don’t know why they’re being so calm
How can they stand this room,
Unpurposfully painted red
The color is aggravating to the eyes
As well as the heart

He lives
But the seasons in him have changed
Bright summer
Now a permanent fall into
The lonely cold of winter

A wet sheen shaping his face for the first time
Dare he live to tell this tale that haunts him
You almost wish you had a horrible life full of pain
Just so you can take in this moment better
As if there is some appropriate way
To see a friend mistakenly shot
Bullets zipped through tough skin
So easily
You didn’t think it’d be that easy
How you wish you’d have been prepared
Numbed up by the Orajel of lost lives

You bring him Su-Do-Ku and magazines
A symbol of his survival
Play some games and get better!
Math and Kim Kardashian will cure you
Heal all those holes in you
It’ll all be better

The season has changed
The trees are bare
Sun and floral flew away
Bare trees and snow are what remains
His life force stripped from him by bullets
Coming out a permanent dark cherry on the upholstery


- - -

A Time to Cleanse

| Filed under

Contributor: Scott Thomas Outlar

- -
All I can do is sing
when times are troubled
Dance into this new spring
upon the graveyard
All the flowers die
but birth anew, yea
The trees are all in bloom
I heard Season whisper
The fountain of our youth
is sun and passion
When all this fruit is ripe
I’m loving apples

The rain is sure to fall
let’s try and care less
If heart is all we have
pure blood will guide us
The truth feels pretty good
urge you to try it
There’s life and then there’s death
can’t escape Karma
You are graced and you are blessed
it’s such a charmed jewel
Leave off from your distrust
it’s faith come lately


- - -
Scott Thomas Outlar burst forth from the womb of primordial ooze itching to write rants, screeds, manifestos and proclamations about life's existential nature. He can be reached at 17Numa@gmail.com

Not Far From Ferguson

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Not far from Ferguson
in South St. Louis,
a Bosnian man
was murdered days ago
by four teens--three Black
and one Hispanic.
They pounded Zemir Begic
with hammers
while his fiancée watched.

The newspaper claims
race didn’t play a role
in Zemir’s death but
the Bosnian community
felt otherwise as they
marched peacefully down
the main thoroughfare
in their neighborhood.

Today the newspaper teems
with articles about Ferguson,
something it has offered daily
in the three months since
the killing of Michael Brown.
But three days after the death
of Zemir Begic the paper offers
no further explanation.

No word either as to whether
the Reverend Al Sharpton
will come to St. Louis to meet
with the Bosnian community.
President Obama has yet
to offer condolences.

Most Bosnians in St. Louis
are immigrants who understand
hatred and discrimination,
having come to the city
to escape death in Bosnia
at the hands of Serbs.

This is not a good time
to be either Black or Bosnian
in metropolitan St. Louis.
It’s not a good time
to be anyone else either.
We are at best observers
in an urban forest
surrounded by
anger and gossip.

Many of us would prefer
a bridge to crawl under
provided it’s home to trolls
who offer a silent night.
That might be the best place
to spend Christmas this year,
better perhaps than
almost anywhere else
in St. Louis.


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

Two pieces of sky

| Filed under

Contributor: Douglas K Currier

- -
Remember we put that jigsaw puzzle
we found together, together, winter,
that winter we had nothing – no money,
no friends, no invitation to parties,
no holiday cheer. Behind the towels,
upstairs closet, just sitting there waiting
for us to assemble, and didn’t we?
It took us a month of random studies,
of minutes stolen from daily despair.
We conferred; we worked; we pieced together
a sky, some buildings, a bull, onlookers,
balconies, cobbled street and the danger.
In the end, we knew what of us we lacked
– two pieces of sky, a deep shadow, face
of an onlooker, looking on, this haunch
of bull, tensed to push that bulk forward into
the running crowd, completely panicked.
Pieces missing – all puzzles should have them.
We’re still looking -- two pieces of sky, deep shadow,
face of an onlooker, and a piece of
haunch, tensed to push us a little forward.


- - -
I am a former college professor who has been published in Laurel Review, Dominion Review, The Café Review, and Fish Stories. My work appears in the anthology, Onion River: Six Vermont Poets. I live in Burlington, VT.

I Buy My Clothes

| Filed under

Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
in sizes that swallow me, hoping
I might drown inside their folds.
I have a desire to disappear, dissolve
into fabricated threads, become
telling tapestry for anonymous
eyes to seek and find
meaning. In my passing
I will translate into legend, lessons
of transgression. My footprints
will be infinite in determined desire
to continue on, creating permanent
pathway to nothing.


- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, haiku, and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com

Freezer Man

| Filed under

Contributor: John Grey

- -
Don't waste a bitter wind,
a killing frost,
icy cracked lips,
trembling hands,
and cheeks transparent blue.

Why fight the mistral cold
with self-delusion,
struggle to calm
the rattle of nerves
on a piercing moonless night.

For a man cold as corpses,
mid-winter should be
a master whispering to you
with brumal belligerence,
instructions eager to freeze.

The grass is dead,
the air seared clean of oxygen,
while in the graveyard shadow
of tattered brush,
meager creatures nibble their last supper.

Understand, all creatures are meager.
And all their complaining of the cold,
their rush down dark alleys lo be home and warm,
is nibbling.

You are the ice-man.
You have the strength
of fifty January blizzards,
the mind of twenty five below,
the numbing hands to
snatch the sorry meal away,
from underneath their frigid tongues.

So trek off into the snow,
the wilderness.
The feast is foremost
and your heart awaits.


- - -
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.

This Morning of a Snow

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
To lie in bed
this morning of a snow
when neither of us
has to go
anywhere for hours

at least. To sprawl
and talk of what
we hope for.
Better, what we know
the years will bring

and contemplate
just knowing
we can see it all
up there
on the ceiling

all aglow,
our life
played out
in color now,
this morning of a snow.


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

Home

| Filed under

Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
No matter how many nights
I wake from dreams
of that old house

No matter how many times
I lift the broken bricks
rebuild it with bare hands

No matter how many mornings
I rise from the sand
of golden days long past

(to wake in your arms)

I can always say honestly, my dear
no home, real or imagined
would really be a home
without you
to wake up next to.


- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

Usal, Awakened

| Filed under

Contributor: E.S. Wynn

- -
Highway unspooling before us
rolling on endless
rolling on
like sliding
like snakes
snakes
through trees.

Single lane,
dirt road
warm convection currents
scent of flowers
mud water
up to the door.

Black sand
a ring of stones
a log, half burned
meadow
low grass
sea like a heart
pulsing
washing
slushing
wet wind spinning
threads of silken hair

cold sets in fast.
Cold, wet
laughing
struggling to start a fire
shivering in wet pants
but you're there
hands on my shoulders
rough towel warm
against neck.

Making love in the darkness.
silhouette body
raining moonlight
midnight umbra hair
falling all around me.

Morning sweat
saxophone
stoked coals
the elks watch us
they know.

Returning to the world,
we know it too.


- - -
E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print. During the last decade, he has worked with hundreds of authors and edited thousands of manuscripts for nearly a dozen different magazines. His stories and articles have been published in dozens of journals, zines and anthologies. He has taught classes in literature, marketing, math, spirituality and guided meditation. Outside of writing, he has worked as a voice-over artist for several different horror and sci-fi podcasts, albums and ebooks.

Ritual

| Filed under

Contributor: Douglas K Currier

- -
He makes a ritual of inactivity,
sits in the same chair here,
the same there, moves from one
to the other cardinal points of his life.

It’s a ritual life disturbs. Life –
as in people, places, activities that cause
absences, cause him to leave
the vicinity of the chairs he knows
will be empty when he arrives.

Each going out, he measures
in the doubt he will have to endure.
Each face to face is a way for him
to fail, once again, in ways at which
he can only guess.

Happiness, he must estimate, having
no gauge small enough to measure it exactly.


- - -
I am a former college professor who has been published in Laurel Review, Dominion Review, The Café Review, and Fish Stories. My work appears in the anthology, Onion River: Six Vermont Poets. I live in Burlington, VT.

Scavengers

| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
I remember her standing there
Fixing me with a cold evil eye
While grabbing handfuls of pretzels
As if she hadn’t eaten for a week

I see many like her at exhibits
Sometimes talking to the art
Each one a wounded casualty
Of an invisible war in their mind

But as they drain the cheap bottles
Of someone else’s wine and beer
They’re almost like heirs to a dynasty
Enthroned in the margins of the world

And when one of them seems to vanish
Another will soon take their place
To pick at the cheese and crackers
As if it’s reserved just for them


- - -
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.

Thanksgiving Day

| Filed under

Contributor: John Ogden

- -
Thanksgiving Day is the day it begins to snow.

There's an inch of white
on the seat
of each
deck chair.

There's powder frost
all over
the driveway.

The truck
(hasn't run in years)
hauls a load of snow
in a rusty-sided bed.

Hills
like drifting marshmallows
and the smell of candied yams
just coming out of the oven.

And company
the voices and the stomp
of boots shedding ice
of coats rustled loose

heat of the stove stoked
to keep out the cold

and I in my sweater,
grateful

because Thanksgiving Day is the day it begins to snow.


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

At Bus Stops on Thanksgiving Day

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Before dawn, people
who work on Thanksgiving Day
wait in the wind for a bus
to arrive or maybe not.
It's too cold to talk
so the people stand
like minutemen and plan
a revolution that would shock
nice families who drive by later,
children tucked in scarves
and mittens, laughing
all the way to Nana's house
for turkey, gravy, stuffing
and later in the day
a ballerina of whipped cream
twirling on pumpkin pie.
Thanksgiving is the day
America asks for seconds
and sorts its servers
from the served.


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

Writing

| Filed under

Contributor: Teddy Kimathi

- -
Writing is like creating a new universe;
a blank page acting as an empty space.
You being the creator, you put every letter and word
in unique positions, creating your own universe; a universe
of literary splendor.


- - -
Teddy is a Kenyan native, interested in writing poetry and short stories. He has a first edition poetry book, published in lulupress, titled "Painting of Life in Poetry".

That’s it

| Filed under

Contributor: Douglas K Currier

- -
I’m as good as my last haircut, as presentable
as the blue suit and a ten-dollar shirt and the tie
without the stain. Sometimes my shoes and belt match.

You see these guys – lots of dandruff, tie
too short, collar frayed, but not as badly
as the cuffs of the suit jacket, bad shave.

You see these guys – heels worn down on the one side
or the other, smelling of old sweat and cheap food, and attempts
to cover it – the smell of age, aging, age by default.

I’m losing the ability to see myself as others must – nose hair,
ear hair, receding hairline, bad teeth, glasses half on glasses,
half off. I can’t smell myself – just need, just desperation.

I guess that’s it.


- - -
I am a former college professor who has been published in Laurel Review, Dominion Review, The Café Review, and Fish Stories. My work appears in the anthology, Onion River: Six Vermont Poets. I live in Burlington, VT.

Capture

| Filed under

Contributor: Cristine A. Gruber

- -
The room in the corner
smells of fresh coffee and old books,
meticulously organized, yet surprisingly dusty.

The window at the end has no discernible view,
yet it’s where she stands to gather her inspiration.

The blinds hang crooked; the window is cracked.
The vent in the ceiling has been stuck since the 70s,
and the stains in the carpet have been present for decades.

An ancient Underwood graces the far corner,
while a modern Dell sits on the desk near the wall.

In summer, the room is suffocating; in winter, near-freezing.
But regardless of season, she’s most often found
sitting on the floor, cross-legged, pen and paper in hand,

capturing the moments as they’re caught by the tail,
then expertly committed to a wide-ruled notebook,

thus preventing their escape through the cracks that linger
between the crispness of an onionskin page,
and the sleekness of a liquid crystal display screen.



- - -
Cristine A. Gruber has had work featured in numerous magazines including, North American Review, Writer’s Digest, California Quarterly, and Red River Review, among others. Her first full-length collection of poetry, Lifeline, is available from Amazon.com.

Coffee on the Way

| Filed under

Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
We arrange our lives
with complicated coffee orders.
We converse about Hebrew
law and the inter-testamental
period with greater ease
than we utter skinny mocha
decaf, grande.
An old man stammers vente,
vente, I tell you vente
while the barrista looks at him
blankly, blinking college lashes.


- - -
JD DeHart is the author of The Truth About Snails, a chapbook. He is a staff writer for Verse Virtual and his blog is jddehart.blogspot.com

Charade

| Filed under

Contributor: David Henry

- -
If I,
for a moment
imposed beyond this silhouette

Would I reach refuge?

An asylum, bittersweet and speechless,
lament flagging shrouds
in stranger’s uncanny masquerade.

Crawling across a knife’s edge
where mimes, faceless without disguise
morn in lieu of laughter.

Desperately gesturing
warnings of chaos, while
clowns weep in chambers of
empty stages.

I linger, among the destitute,
lost in mirrored labyrinth
each sheet reflecting two identities.
The charade I am, and the delusion I long to be.


- - -
Dave Henry is a writer of poems and short stories, and a jazz bassist. He is currently searching for inspiration from grocery store shelves.

A LEATHER JACKET WITH FRINGES

| Filed under

Contributor: David Subacchi

- -
When I was young I dreamt about
A leather jacket with fringes
Tight and black with studded collar
Lots of motorcycle badges
Inside a faded red lining
To signal my experience
Yes all I ever yearned to wear
A leather jacket with fringes

But my parents strictly forbade
A leather jacket with fringes
All those zips seemed superfluous
Suggesting immorality
And though I tried to persuade them
It was really for road safety
They both remained quite unconvinced
Refusing to fund its purchase

Marlon Brando in ‘The Wild One’
Clad in leather with zips galore
Never wore those daring fringes
As if they were a step too far
But the wildest bikers I knew
Wore fringes from cuffs to shoulders
Yes all I ever yearned to wear
A leather jacket with fringes.


- - -
David Subacchi was born in Wales (UK) of Italian Roots. Cestrian Press has published two of his poetry collections: FIRST CUT (2012) and HIDING IN SHADOWS (2014).

Circa 1960

| Filed under

Contributor: Deanna Morris

- -
Father returns from the office,
pours himself a whiskey, and unknots his tie,
removes his wingtip shoes, and hands them to me.
Mother brings him a plate of canapés.
I place the shoes in his closet, next to several other pairs,
polished and perfectly positioned.

I linger there.

Above hang his 23 business shirts. I pull one from the rack
and put it on; the sleeves hang from my arms like white flags
waiting on a northeast wind. Mother is in the kitchen,
a seersucker apron at her waist, stirring supper.
I sit in my father’s closet listening to my mother
swearing, slamming the spoon on the stove.
I pull my father’s shirt tighter around me.


- - -
Deanna Morris is a MFA graduate of Butler University with publishing credits for poetry, short stories and freelance pieces. She was awarded Best in Poetry for Indiana University/Purdue University Genesis literary magazine.

Child at Heart

| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
He was midway between cradle and coffin,
Too old to draw treasure maps on the backs

Of restaurant placemats, too young to scan
The obituaries to see if anyone he knew

Had died. He had a computer and cell phone
But only knew a fraction of all the things

They could do, still reading paperbacks
And listening to CD’s, still watching reruns

Of Warner Brothers cartoons and Twilight Zone
Episodes. Yet inside he felt ageless

In some way, as if the world was passing by
While he was staying the same, still marveling

At the magnolia blossoms of spring, still
Fascinated by the fireflies of summer, still

Saddened by the soulful song of the cicadas
At its end, year after year after year.


- - -
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 Atheist on Sunday

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
On Sunday his wife
and children walk
to Mass

and he goes
into his garden
to work

all day
primping roses
lilies, dahlias

weeding, pruning
making things right
on his altar of life.

At dusk he brings
his heaven home
in soiled hands.

A big bouquet
for a wife
suddenly in tears.


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

Black Heat

| Filed under

Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
3 a.m. and the circuits could not hold
out any longer. Darkness, thick as an anvil,
descended, stretched its suffocating embrace
across a six-city span. Desperation and 102°
of sudden blindness are constricting, breed
panic and paranoia as ears struggle
inside echoing silence, searching for potential
alarms, incapable of sounding.


- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, haiku, and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com

Highway

| Filed under

Contributor: J.K. Durick

- -
Tired of talking, tired of thinking of things to say
I put all this on cruise control, going 55, 60 steady
Others whiz by, going away, the distances get wider
And wider, breeze in what’s left of my hair, the sun
On my balding pate, I adjust quite easily to this, for
I’m tired of talking, of thinking what to say, perhaps
I have almost used up the words allotted to me, I feel
Like the tank is almost empty, been running on fumes
For a while now, now on cruise control going 55, 60
Hoping nothing more gets in the way, when I have so
Little left to say.


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

Drink to it

| Filed under

Contributor: Anthony Keers

- -
“Just be yourself” she said, “and everything will be fine”.

The problem is,
they don’t want you to be yourself.
I’ve tried in the job interviews
with the promises of being in touch.
On the dates with women whose thoughts
of the perfect man were gathered from magazines.
In the conversations with strangers
who didn’t listen or care,
but continued anyway
because that was the polite thing to do.

Being yourself is a problem.
They want you to be scared of
your body,
your mind,
your soul.
They want you to listen to
the Vultures telling you that you are ugly without
chemicals on your face,
to the Peacocks shouting you look like shit
without beautiful fabrics on your skin,
to the Hyenas laughing at you because
you are alone.

Being yourself is the one thing
they hate.
They believe that you were born to be molded,
shaped
and burnt
until you are another
decorative piece.

Being yourself is probably the best thing
you could ever do.

It is the greatest
fuck you
you will
ever
give.


- - -

The Peter Thief

| Filed under

Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
Into my prison cell he stole
with his greedy little mind.
He pulled apart my bed pack
to see what he could find.
Searched every nook and cranny
until he found my radio.
Then with a sickly smile
he crept back out the door.
Last time it was my tobacco
before that my bar of soap.
But tomorrow I am going sick,
I’ll be waiting with a rope.


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography 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. You can read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

Midnight Conversation in a Bar

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
The dapper young man tells
the homeless man one stool over,
After I get my law degree,
I’ll get an MBA and go to Wall Street
and make a million before I’m thirty.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
sipping the longneck
the young man has bought him.

I’ll start a business,
says the young man,
and make another million
by the time I’m forty,
buy a nice house in the country,
then franchise the business
so my kids can earn
as much money as I will.
You want your kids to do well.
Otherwise, why have them?
They cost money.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
almost finished with his beer.

I’ll retire and buy condos
in Paris and London,
go on safari to Africa,
buy gold against inflation.
Once I retire I want to have fun.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
lighting another cigarette
the young man has given him.

I’ll die when I get old
unless they invent something
that stops death, maybe a drug.
I’ll arrange my funeral
in advance, some big church,
don’t care which one
as long as they have a choir
to keep the wife happy.
And I’ll hire a good lawyer
to handle the estate.
Don’t want Uncle Sam
getting rich off me.

And after that?
the homeless man asks,
looking for another drink.


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

Coast To Coast

| Filed under

Contributor: Reese Scott

- -
when i have a kid
he can watch anything he wants on tv
he can look at dirty magazines
he can drive a car without a license
he can beat up his teachers
he can shoot a gun
he can do anything he wants
as long as he doesn’t forget
how it feels


- - -
Reese Scott is from New York. He is currently residing in California.

Fifteen Minutes

| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
It was 3 am. He sat listening to the lonesome cry
Of a train somewhere off in the distance, thinking

About a boy he once knew who sat on the stage
Of a run-down café with an out-of-tune guitar

Singing in a frail voice about people and places
That would either die or simply fade away,

Leaving behind only lingering memories
To be slowly forgotten as the years passed by.

Bars with black walls and mirrored dance floors,
Women with leather jackets and fishnet stockings,

Parties with bands playing in the basement,
Kegs of cheap beer that never seemed to run dry.

It was 3:15 am. He listened again to the train
Growing further and further away while glancing

At the out-of-tune guitar gathering dust in a corner,
Like a ghost that had lost even the will to haunt.


- - -
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.

The Bartender

| Filed under

Contributor: Anthony Keers

- -
We were all sitting around on the garden decking,
under thin and thick blankets,
under heaters that pump out dancing waves in the air
under the slowly waking stars above.

I sat on a deck chair
with a Winston Churchill classic in my hand.
Surrounded by friends and strangers.
Mingling
Drinking
like we all should do.

I looked around and saw my bartender standing
behind his homemade bar.
Shaking delicious poisons
in a plastic container
and pouring them into different glasses
for his guests to drink.

It was a party,
but the mood was split.
And I was lingering in the opposite half.
The conversations swayed in the liquid he poured,
from the laughter of old memories,
to the sadness of the departed.

My favorite bartender
was leaving.
A one of a kind who
never cheated by pouring
water when you wanted wine
And never forgot his locals
for the ladies who only drank a few then left.

But he had now finished our orders
And we gave our final tips.

My friend has left
to follow his road to the finish.
Although his path is different,
I’m sure we will meet up
to take a breather.

And another drink.


- - -

Waiting for Superman

| Filed under

Contributor: Teddy Kimathi

- -
Gazing at the evening sky,
as though watching a soap opera,
her bosoms partially bare,
she waits for a superman to help her
on her two feet again.

She has danced with strangers
for long, taking glasses of wine
with them; men who only want to know
her in bed, rather than know her name,
where she lives, what she loves,
her history.

Gazing at the stars glowing in silence,
she waits for a special man to save
her from her own destruction.

She waits for superman.


- - -
The muse of poetry visited Teddy in 2002. He has poems published in Leaves of Ink, Shot Glass Journal, Three Line Poetry, Every Day Poets, and Literature Today. He also has a fiction work in Every Day Fiction.

Old Men

| Filed under

Contributor: Reese Scott

- -
In the end
when time stops
and the cigarettes
turn to cancer
and grown
men cry
in hospital beds
while wives
hold their
laughter
and nurses
make knock
knock jokes
and the children
run
in and out of their
rooms
stealing their IV’s
hiding their medication
and taking their
desserts


- - -
Reese Scott is from New York. He is currently residing in California.

Birthdays

| Filed under

Contributor: J.K. Durick

- -
Eventually, after all the candles and cake
We come to know the past tense of things

The pull and peel of the years we celebrate
The undressing of time, ourselves revealed

More memory than hope, less time to spend
We count up or count down, numbers fixed

Inflexible, unforgiving aging, we grow older
New limits are set, distances, hours and days

After candles and cake we make a discovery
The irony of it all, celebrating time passing

The same song each year, they ask how old
And if we’re sports we sing back our age

How old are you? How old are you? And I am
Six or sixty, eighteen or eighty, never the same

It’s like peeling off wallpaper in an old house
Layer after layer never knowing which is last

It’s like whistling a happy tune walking alone
Down a dark street, always hoping for the best

Eventually, after candles and cake, that song
And all the embarrassing presents we pack up

Gather all the goodies around us and start out
Again, more birthdays, birthdays, birthdays.


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

Beauty Evolved

| Filed under

Contributor: W. T. Paterson

- -
Girl,
I see you there in that tight shirt,
That designer skirt,
Dancing your way down the sidewalk.

Yeah, I see you.
That look in your eyes
That mischief in your smile,
It’s like you want me to follow you
Just because you know I will.

Well how about this,
How about I take that cute body of yours,
The flat tummy with hourglass hips,
Perky breasts and devilish lips
And give you a make-over.

I won’t change your hair
Or the fashions you wear,
I’d just get you pregnant.

The dance would change
New pictures in the frame
Suddenly holding hands
With a pair that learns your name.

Girl,
I’d turn you into a whole new kind of beautiful.


- - -
W. T. Paterson is a Chicago writer. His recent work can be seen in Procyon Press' Anthology, Maudlin House, and Whispers from the Past. Send him a tweet @WTPaterson

I Lose a Piece of Me

| Filed under

Contributor: Gary Thomas Hubbard

- -
My Sisters are all just like my Mother used to be
And every time I lose one, I lose a piece of me

*

They helped to raise me from when I was very small
They are mixed in my memories since before I could crawl
I remember they would pick me up whenever I skinned my knee
And every time I lose one, I lose a piece of me

*

Time passes and you think the pain won't ever go away
Then you realize all the good memories are here to stay
When you look at a photograph then you can see
And every time I lose one I lose a piece of me

*

My Sisters are all just like my Mother used to be
And every time I lose one I lose a piece of me.


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

Savor Truth

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Part readily the skin
and readily the pulp

and readily the tongues
wild apples bore,

eviscerate the cores
and watermelon spit

the pits they
cannot swallow.

Do this before
you let the tongues

wild lemons bore
find no cores

and you will
savor truth

unlike so many now
still gnawing.


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

In 1975

| Filed under

Contributor: Darian G. Burns

- -
They screamed their hatred:
Evil,
Vile,
Anger,
Him to her,
Her to him.

Broken things littered around our lives:
Wailing
in the night;
Muffled in pillows.

Passing car back and forth;
Lights
Shining
Bright
Through my window.

Reflecting much
Piercing
Penetrating
Fear.

They lived their anger;
Screamed
Hatred and
Disdain.

Not meant for me:
Yet -
I was from them.
It stuck;
It always does.


- - -
Darian Burns is a writer, story teller and poet who lives in Greeley, CO.

Because Renfield

| Filed under

Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
was right, blood is the life
and always will be, eventuality must assume
the guise of knife. Letting
is the only appropriate pathway to be followed.
Though too often we trickle, lingering
too long, coagulating into an impervious stasis
of irrelevancy.


- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, haiku, and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com

Mission

| Filed under

Contributor: J.K. Durick

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


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

Coma

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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


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

Conversely

| Filed under

Contributor: JD DeHart

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


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

Walk a Straight Line

| Filed under

Contributor: Gary Thomas Hubbard

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

*

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

*

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

*

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


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

Acid(ic) Hearts

| Filed under

Contributor: Lena Ziegler

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

nihilistic
these words
unfounded
mistaken
they cross
in
pathways
and air streams
and lullabies
of
forbidden terms

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

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

my repentance

because
you are love
because
we are love

I know this, my love

words melt beneath
warmth
of blackberry-stained kisses
dismissing
cool
iron
bullets
piercing hearts
of resistance
and
what is pain
if not persistence
is it love
or is it
insistence


- - -

Balls

| Filed under

Contributor: Maureen Kingston

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

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

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

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

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


- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Dark Clouds of Spirits Rise

| Filed under

Contributor: John Evans

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


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

Just Saying The Words

| Filed under

Contributor: John Ogden


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


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

I Believe in Faeries

| Filed under

Contributor: JD DeHart

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


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

The Merits of Tea

| Filed under

Contributor: Ben Riddle

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

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

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

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

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


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

America’s Ghost Signs 2

| Filed under

Contributor: Maureen Kingston

- -
Today I’m overseeing
wall dogs as they restore
T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes.
My Gatsby will live
to plunder East Egg,
pluck Daisy from her
petal-strewn mansion,
spirit her to a magic
kingdom in the glades.
Amazing how quickly
Fitzgerald sold
his rights to me,
even offered to throw in
“The Crack-Up”
as a bonus, seemed hurt
when I declined--
not a big market
for confession
in the amusement game.

***

A rookie starts to muff
the doctor’s left lid.
I step in, guide
the hobo marker.
Soon the entire
billboard’s filled,
top to bottom,
with spray-painted eyes--
a wall of hot-coaled
possum eyes.
Cenophobia,
the smart-mouthed
rookie says,
flicking his cigar ash
into my cap.
You fear blank spaces.
The cops come,
make a fuss.
Court-ordered therapy
my punishment
for vandalizing
a literary icon,
for daring to dodge
erasure, for saying
I am here
with an aerosol can.


- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

America’s Ghost Signs 1

| Filed under

Contributor: Maureen Kingston

- -
An ecstatic woman
on downtown brick
holds a white jar
to her cheek. It cools
her blush.
What’s in the
mysterious jar?
I won’t know
for months,
until the restorers
raise the tagline
from crumbling stone.
All the rage--
saving faded script
from swaybacked signs,
resurrecting
maimed words
from country barns
centuries on their knees.
Why the sudden passion
to preserve?
More American
to tear down or paint over.
Our digital age perhaps,
our sense of touch
so deprived
we’ll reach for
cold-creamed faces
on concrete walls.


- - -
Maureen Kingston lives in Nebraska.

Remission of a Drug Fiend

| Filed under

Contributor: Timothee B.

- -
At first I was fed
With mild meds
Then I grew up,

I drank a cup,
I smoked some pot,
Did both a lot
And some Aces
Later I faced
Popper ecstasy speed
And amphetamines
Ketamine
And psilocybin

Then I took Opium
And Valium
At the asylum,
Then I grew up again
I took cocaine
For I thought this world was vain
And thus, took it with no refrain.

I had a few lines
Of heroin
While on Haldol
Natural or not Phenols
And Alkaloids
Amongst other -ids
-ols and -ins
Then I decided life was worth living


I was a bit bewildered
And discouraged,
I tried wild mushroom:
Happy bloom,
Not even charged.

Then I quit.

But also by then I had found a lover.
A young, fresh and beautiful flower
In my bed, as if we were together.

Release! Far better!
Joy and wonder! 24 hours!
Love, dreams of a dreamer!

And now I prosper
I’m a webmaster

And I’m clean!

Thanks,

How have you been?


- - -
I am a 30 years old french poet and artist, interested in different myths, crafts and traditions.
This poem sums up my journey through drugs. Blessed be!

Belief in a Sky

| Filed under

Contributor: Jude Conlee

- -
It is midnight exactly, and
you point to a patch
of nothing and say,
“Do you believe in the moon?”
and I nod,
very absently,
the word “vacancy” printed
upon my face;

I have trouble enough as it is
believing there’s a sky.


- - -
Jude Conlee puts words together and finds certain things interesting, including human minds, the universe, and other irregular, unexplainable things. The combination of these facts often results in the creation of poems and fiction.

Decline

| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
I remember the days of terminated dreams,
Of alcoholic neighborhoods, of suicidal rivers,
When home was a bar serving bottles of amnesia,
Cans of oblivion, shots of forgetfulness,
While down by the shores sat bitter factories,
Confused wastelands, desperate scrap yards,
Haunted by a century of hoodwinked phantoms,
Mislead spirits, deluded ghosts.

Now it’s a realm of anonymous restaurants,
Faceless chain stores, identical cafes,
Where a new generation who’s forgotten the past
Consults their cell phones, examines their laptops,
And sometimes at night you can hear the voice
Of a forsaken forebear, an abandoned ancestor,
But if you listen closer to the mournful cry
It’s only the wind, it’s only the wind.


- - -
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.

Seasonal

| Filed under

Contributor: Susan Sweetland Garay

- -
The last time I was in this place
it was dry and desolate, but now
the hills are cool and damp
with new growth springing
up everywhere.

I sit here with pen and paper
surrounded by books,
trying to force words to fill
the page. But I know the
effort will be wasted.

My life force is elsewhere.

The part of me that creates –
is otherwise occupied,
and I wouldn’t try to
change its focus.

And anyway I suppose
prediction doesn’t come
easily to anyone so how
could I have known how
my selfish heart would
react with so much love
suddenly thrown at it?

Some burdens
cannot be shared.
But what is a burden really,
pain just makes the pleasure
more palpable.

My mess spills into everything
but so does my magic.


- - -
Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay currently lives in the Willamette Valley with her husband and daughter where she works in the vineyard industry. She has had poetry and photography published in a variety of journals, on line and in print, and her first full length poetry collection was published in 2013.

The Music of Torquaret

| Filed under

Contributor: Juan J. Gutiérrez

- -
Angel of autumn, whose music is like amber flame, pluck thy lyre.
Adorn this vale with the golden decay of November pyre.
Those who await his solemn song, become his evening choir,
Be still, sing and permit thou hearts to fill with gold desire.

Hearken! O' fixed stars
Hearken! O' audient stars

Through the season Heaven shall not shed a solemn tear,
So long as Torquaret's lyre-strings slay the dark and drear.
Death shall wave his moon-sharp scythe above the season's sphere,
And bring it down at the music's close, and laugh, and grin and leer.

Behold! O' stirring spheres
Behold! O' silent spheres

Torquaret ceased his song, on one soundless, autumn hour.
When the Heavens blessed the earth with a rare ephemeral power
He espied November's childe, born with the beauty of a flower
Of splendor rang his song, from beyond his cosmic tower.

Torquaret and his choir, and Tarquam and Gaubarel
And the fixed stars and the stirring spheres, they listened and they saw
The childe of November born, whom never shall they mourn,
Immortalized in song by the music of Torquaret


- - -
Juan J. Gutiérrez was raised in Sunland Park, New Mexico and now lives in Desert Hot Springs, California with his wife and daughters.

Satin and Grace

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Here in Chicago I sit
in the sun of an Indian Summer
high on the Water Tower waiting,
chapped hands in a visor
over my eyes, hoping I see
you in that gown,
all satin and grace,
float like a feather
back to Chicago.

I don't care if you stop
by Confederate streams
to pick phallic rocks
on the way from Savannah
so long as you rise,
release all your hair,
take to the air
and float like a feather
on to Chicago

because this is the last time I'll sit
on the Water Tower waiting.
I'd rather go blind than see
you in that gown,
all satin and grace,
laugh like a loon,
turn in the air,
then float like a feather
back to Savannah.


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

A Soul Speaks!

| Filed under

Contributor: John Evans

- -
“Just write!” the soul speaks.
Memories to be read –
Prayers to be heard…where nearby demons
Emerge as blood-thirsty fears hunger
Upon sacred blood that flows silently through guiltless veins.
My fears linger, though courage musters its way
Through the frozen tundra of my being…
Life as a Marine is not easy.
We drill, day after day, month after month, until
We move as one.
Get in step Marine as “Gunny” speaks out.
Where to today?
We are never told.
Orders speak and we just move…as one,
A mechanized machine of “freedom fighters,”
We carry on.
Will it be a field class, exercise, or “hand to hand?”
Our purpose is one – solidified as we
March again head on into the depths of history.
Our mission began long ago –
As farmers and peasants we volunteered
Against the tyranny of injustice
In a world of social domination and “All for the King!”
We are one!
In a land of beauty worth defending…
We march on, once again…into the depths of history –
Until we meet the other side of what some call hell,
Our beauty lies in our purpose:
“To preserve and to protect.”
Freedom is never free…and yet, we shall always be free!
For life as a Marine is not easy, but, by God –
We shall always be free!


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

Personal Epiphany

| Filed under

Contributor: J.C. Carcereny

- -
Hands held, legs in a tangle, and messy hair,
The best outfit for the perfect date,
Not a word spoken, only the peaceful
Symphony in her chest, whispers
Into my ears, causing my own to
Dance to the beat, azure blue basins
Follow, skipping to the harmonic
Melody, flaxen hair streaming into
A gentle waterfall splashing over her
Delicate bone structure, fashioned
To perfection, white pearls, slowly caressing
Her plumped lips as she nipped down
Waiting for a personal awaking


- - -
When J.C. is not writing or on the wrestling mat he tends to catch himself enjoying the careless and free-spirited youth that has been presented to him. From hiking in the valleys to catching waves at the beach, J.C. allows his feelings to trail through his veins and into his fingertips to guide the pen mapping out his true emotions not only to the world, but ultimately to himself.

My Messiah

| Filed under

Contributor: John Ogden


Pick up your crown of thorns
Show me your wounds
Show me how the world
Has wronged you
Has cut you
Has left you bleeding.

Let that blood run
Let the drops fall
All over my face

I know how much I'd scream
I know how much I'd wail
I know how bloody
I'd beat myself
If ever
I was fool enough
to lose her.


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

Trading Up

| Filed under

Contributor: Eddie Gordon Walsh


She traded up
traded him
for me.

She traded up
turned in that old, broken car
for something sleeker
something sexier

She traded up
for someone stronger
someone saner
someone closer
to the ideal
to the prince
to the dream

She traded up
and now, facing the past
I wonder
how long
before a newer model comes along
before someone sleeker
someone sexier
catches her eye
someone she can buy
with the slickness
between her thighs.


- - -

Knowing Nothing, Knowing Everything

| Filed under

Contributor: Birta C. Long

- -
I feel like I'm drowning.
I know I'm right.
I know I'm right.
I know the pain is how he fights
I know the doubt is how he wins
I know the cruel words
Are the tools
He cuts with.

They aren't true
They were never true
And yet
And yet
Who can say
I wouldn't act the same way
If I were in his shoes?
That I wouldn't wield the same blades
Cut with the same quickness
To flay
My own pain
From another's bones?

Better to trudge on.
Better for both of us
Just to trudge on.


- - -

Object of Desire

| Filed under

Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
In his mind, she is property.
In his mind, she is a thing to be owned
A thing without self
A thing
To be stolen
To be possessed.

In his mind, he has been replaced.
His dog has a new master
A younger, sleeker master
A master to be hated
A master to be despised
Scum of the earth
Not worthy
To possess his prize.

He'll never admit
All involved are only people
He'll never admit
She made the move on her own
He'll never admit
That what is over
Was over
Long before anything new
Began.


- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

Warmth Charging Away

| Filed under

Contributor: Michael Prihoda

- -
paint
splotch
puddles
running
together,
blending
like a melting barcode,
sunsets
smithed
on the
horizon’s
anvil,
passing a
simultaneous
baton
one thousand
times
as warmth
charges away,
the Light Brigade
on Ecstasy
for frozen eyes
fearing the unrepeatability
of breaking a gaze.


- - -
Michael Prihoda was born in Wisconsin and now attends university. He loves nature and animal crackers.

Departures

| Filed under

Contributor: Antoinette McCormick

- -
The only way back is through the basement.
A rushed descent measured in echoes
Voices, footsteps, metallic clangs,
Exhaust, cologne. We sit and wait
Sit with the wait, until the train lurches
Through the station’s steel and cement catacombs
Partitions stuffed with wadded blankets, tattered clothes
Splintered boards and scattered bricks.
Whose were these; whose were those?
Graffiti blossoms on concrete; the sky emerges
A glaucous watercolor, edges smeared
Another stain to spread into the night
Every moment before it frozen
Every moment after it forever marked
Watch your step; mind your baggage:
Leaving takes forever, going does not.


- - -
Frazzled graduate student. Textual alchemist. Former handmaiden of Western medicine.

Silver Love Arises

| Filed under

Contributor: John Evans

- -
Mid - morning arises
Not even a cricket’s song may be heard,
The darkness of night could hear the gentle pounding
As thirsty clouds release their deluge of freshly needed rain,
And Silver Love rises from her depths
Of knowing.
Love and salted flesh as one.
The stillness of the morning
Before the sun will rise
Give birth to twin hearts…
And in the next room
As I write our gift of memories
I will, once more, see the sun rise
To the splendor of a new day.


- - -
John has been writing poetry since 1998. His deepest passions are writing, poetry, and photography. With over 60 years of life's experiences he senses life is truly worth writing about. There is much to discover (and learn), through the pen of the poet.

Broken Promises

| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
He wondered what birds dreamed of
Since they already had the gift of flight

As he thought about the divorced mother
Who gave birth to an autistic son

And the man who fell madly in love
With a woman addicted to heroin

While the TV showed how terrorists
Forced children to watch beheadings

And as he watched through his window
A spider build an intricate web

He decided they dreamed of nothing
They dreamed of nothing at all


- - -
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.

Grisly Disorder

| Filed under

Contributor: Kevin Sampsel

- -
Stubborn mutilation rises up—
Cracking every cell—
And drips, drips such an oozy,
Sludgy mess. I have a disease.

Oh, black wine… I lap you up.
I no longer remember when
You showed your vile sickness.
Please leave… this pale canvas.

Pain—sensations people say
They do not want. They listen,
Listen to a creeping, seeping,
Morbid takeover of the skin.

Mine thunders and twirls deep
Inside each atom. Psychotic—
Prods and nods inflaming thought.
The release is agonizing, sensual.

Tormenting affliction… rising—
You turn my mind demented.
I vent your gruesome grudge—
Your black, lovely death sludge.


- - -
Kevin Sampsel grew up writing poetry and fiction in East Tennessee. He currently makes his home in Norfolk, Virginia. His first book of poetry, Vibration and Swaying, was published in 2012.

Returning to Work

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
After the others had welcomed him back,
had shaken his hand and returned to their desks,
another as ancient pulled over his chair
to inquire of him who six months before
had been taken away
on a pallet of interlocked arms
and parallel faces:
“What happened that day?
No one would say.”

Both men talked softly,
held cigarette rites:
the delights of the tapping,
the lighting, the stubbing,
the one man explaining,
the other one listening,
both of them knowing
a matter of months.


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

Abandono

| Filed under

Contributor: Jan Aubrey

- -
To be abandoned by you,
was everything
and nothing:
Those blackened wounds
fading with hours, days,
But especially blue nights,
when your blood mixes
with mine,
forging a beautiful
river of ink:
Those razored breaths
forgiven,
As I dive into an ocean,
A sea of pearls,
stringing together
a fresh,
necklaced being.
Take my hand
and bring me to you,
Because I know
no other way,
than to love you,
with
abandon.
1


- - -
Jan Aubrey studied Fine Arts at UW Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has been writing poetry for three years. She presently lives in the inner city of Milwaukee.

Weekly Washing

| Filed under

Contributor: Dylan Weir

- -
They told me to pray
for you
one day I’ll learn forgiveness
and we can start
askew
on my knees, my hardwood floor,
our pew
I bite my lips just like I did
with you


- - -
Dylan Weir is a Chicago poet. He works for Young Chicago Authors, was a semifinalist for the 2014 Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award and is currently getting his M.A. in English at DePaul University.

The Drought

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
You drive down
the same country road
every day at dawn

and see through
plumes of dust
this tall thin woman

straight as a scarecrow
in front of a field of corn
holding a hoe like a flag

tugging at a straw hat
and staring at the corn
till she goes in the house

and sits at the table
looks through the window
past ancient curtains

and prays for the deluge
she and Elmer will need
for the slightest harvest


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

Tear Up All Of The Windows

| Filed under

Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
Tear up all of the windows
I do not want the outside.
Tear up all of the windows
they spoil the nice inside.
I don’t need to have a view
for my imagination will do.
World, you simply annoy me
I am now finished with you.
I only want peace and quiet
my life it could be sweet.
If I did not have to see
that cold and dirty street.
Leave me with my solitude
yeah, go on and leave me be.
Why do you not understand?
every visitor’s killing me.
Go and tell the neighbours
That I’ll have to complain.
If I ever catch a glimpse
of their nosey faces again.
Tear up all of the windows
go and throw them all away.
For then, at last, just maybe
I’ll have a nice sunny day.


- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography 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.

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