Waves Crashing

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Contributor: Susie Sweetland Garay

- -
Once while
at the ocean
I was reminded
that in order to
survive and
what I needed
was to stop
clinging so

That I could not
thrive while
I held to
as tightly
as I had
been holding.

I see now that not every
conversation needs
my voice

and I am
to enjoy
the quiet.

I suppose sometimes
We all need to stop
talking and remember
how it feels when a wave
crashes on your skin.

- - -
Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Susan Sweetland Garay received a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Brigham Young University, spent some years in the Ohio Appalachians and currently lives in the Willamette Valley with her husband and 2 cats where she works in the vineyard industry. She spends her free time writing, growing plants and making art. She enjoys finding beauty and meaning in the everyday.

Little Monsters

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Contributor: Jomar Josafat

- -
International pop star on the Earth,
Symbolizing the Meat Dress,
New York blonde and black,
Her hair as free as the wind,
So very theatrical.

We see her kindness,
While some say she is Satan.
She fights for her fans,
Always singing her heart out,
Even space feels emotion.

From woman to man,
And back again on the stage,
It brings us joy,
Seeing the things she loves most,
Preaching love and acceptance.

- - -
Jomar Josafat, not known to the public eye...yet, commits to writing fun and exciting literary and musical works. While his works are elusive, it is something to read, or hear. You can contact him at jomar.josafat@gmail.com.


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Contributor: John Kropf

- -
Your morning visit
with news and coffee
Past and Present
Three of you
here and now
but always
shadows at the door
It's Future--eternal party crasher
“Wait, I’ll be with you in a second.”
“Not a chance,” snickers Future
running down the street
like a Halloween prankster
laughing like mad.

- - -
Maybe the best way to describe myself is to look at my books and other writing.

Old Man Thimble

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Contributor: Michael Atreides Lair

- -
Old man Thimble
wobbles and wimbles
on top of Mount Brimble,
seetheseeing all to be seen.

His white wine fleece
falters to fall so sweetly
while the wind billows beneathly,
it seems.

If you climb Mount Brimble,
beware the clash of cymbals
and the choir along the treble
seethesinging high indeed.

When you read old man Thimble
he may mumble, he may crumble
and say you're better off dead
(or however it is said).

And when you hearith him speak
you'll fallith to your knees
tremble and be perfectly weak.
You'll watch the blood you've bled

fall from his strained, chocking hands.
Sadly dear friend you've reach the end.

- - -

The One

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Contributor: Christopher Ponce

- -
The One
She is the one with
Ocean blue eyes to swim in,
Skin like vanilla.
The many minutes I can stare,
At her hourglass physique.

She is the one who
Puts others before herself,
Lives no day wasted,
Succumbs to any dumb joke,
Not afraid to speak her mind.

She is the one with
Which I cannot live without.
Keeping me in check
She guides me when I cannot.
She is the one whom I love.

- - -
Christopher Ponce is currently a senior at Cerritos High School. He is inspired by what the world has to offer, whether it’s an inspirational landscape scenery or local cuisine. On his free time he enjoys to travel southern California t hike local areas and hopefully, soon, to travel the world.

Black Seed by Black Seed

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Every day the same people
at the same table
at the rear of the cafeteria.
The maiden, 35 at least,

is gray at the temples,
sour at the mouth.
The widow, 55, waves
a cigarette like a wand.

Girdled and dyed,
she needs no one now;
She ministers to a dog
and has a new apartment.

The accountant, 65, wants to retire,
his years of intemperance
tempered by a stroke,
his anger at everything

suddenly gone. The janitor, 60,
explains over and over
how over the weekend
he snipped from his garden

husks of dead sunflowers
and drove them out of the city
and into the forest
and there in a clearing

spread the black cakes
for chipmunks to strip,
black seed by black seed.
I, a young editor,

“with your whole life
in front of you,” they insist,
sit through it all,
Monday through Friday,

spooning broth, buttering slices
of rye, and praying that after
pudding again for dessert,
the phone on my desk

will explode too late
with a call I’ll take anyway,
and that after that call, I’ll rise
and take from my sport coat

a speech I wrote years ago,
a speech I’ll discard for two lines
off the cuff: “Here’s two weeks’ notice.
I have found a new job.”

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

Conjecture and Conjuration

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Contributor: Taylor Gibbs

- -
A body crucified on the wind,
floats feet of above the concrete,
feet below the satyr mewls.
Wisps of soul, rippling ribbons of mist bleed from the eyes, ears, nose, and lips, parted and puckered for an invisible kiss.
Lifelessness ruptured from the frail white skin of a goddess’ muse.
The satyr screams in pain as worm-like rivulets of blood stream out from under its eye lids.
An invisible hand caresses the velvet cheek to calm the pain.
The gusts that hold the body up -
the airy woman shrouded in lace,
her milky eyes, her upturned face,
the strawberry hair that floats displaced, the magic in her beauty,
her grace.
The satyr weeps on bended knee,
his doleful eyes assuredly see the great and powerful mystery,
enrapt upon this youthful beauty.
A goddess’ muse, is slowly drained of youth, and life.
Her skin grows pale, wrinkled and,dry. Her hair grows thin atop her spotted skull, hollowed out as the well refills - as she ages and dies.
The scripts of life are wrought,
in a time long forgot in the alleys of buildings here,
in the pastures of fields afar.
Convergences of place and time.
The satyr cries.
She kisses its velvet face
and muses on the sounds, of a soulful nexus.

- - -
Student, poet, and rambler through of trails.


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Contributor: Richard Hartwell

- -
Washing the feet of the sinner and sinned,
not able to tell the one from the other.

A good thing I say, as you never know
if truly forgiven or just needing to give.

Never knowing whom you meet, as they say,
what has been done or whence they may go.

What is received should also be given,
that which is given also will be received.

Suspicion is not the cloak you should wear,
but a raiment of trust for the life up ahead.

- - -
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large, and that the instant contains eternity.


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Contributor: M. Krochmalnik Grabois

- -
Historically, God had compassion for whores and lepers
(reasoned Reverend Anne,
a 60-year-old minister who’d retired from her first career
as an English teacher
and had gone from parsing grammar
to parsing the Seven Deadly Sins)
He would also have
compassion for Governor Chris Christie
of New Jersey
even though Christie was a blowhard
a braggart and a bully
mired in political scandal
involving political revenge

They know about revenge in New Jersey
It was where Tony Soprano the Mafia boss lived
Soprano and Christie were both big fat men
who demanded respect and sneered a lot
They would have enjoyed a cigar together
and a single malt whiskey neat

Christie would have enjoyed the same with James Gandolfini
the actor who played Tony Soprano
but Gandolfini died of a heart attack at age 51
which might have encouraged Christie to get
lap band surgery
which didn’t seem to be working too well
at least not as quickly as for other patients

Reverend Anne thought Christie deserved
some compassion
to temper
the general public response to him
which ranged from ridicule to contempt

She began to study him
looking in the nooks and crannies of his life
for praiseworthy qualities

but then she realized the obvious:
that God’s love was unconditional
and she stopped looking

- - -
M. Krochmalnik Grabois’ poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012, and for his poem. “Birds,” published in The Blue Hour, 2013. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition.

Bird Innards

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Contributor: Gnat Bee

- -
I’m in love with the Kookaburra in my head.
He echoes human laughter to raise the dead.
His feathers are made of a glimmering light,
That blinds the damned in his frantic flight.
He eats babes of foes without remorse,
With platinum talons, dissects their cores.
Wards off evil spirits with eyes of flame,
He cleanses the souls that sin had stained.

I’m in love with the Kookaburra in my head.
There once was a boy, but there’s a bird in his stead.
It is the fowl to whom I owe my life,
Who ate all the hardships, gobbled the strife,
Who bled me till balanced then gargled the blood,
And spat in the face of demons and gods.
It is this bird that relinquishes doubt,
But this bird is me with my insides out.

- - -
Gnat Bee is a poet and visual artist who derives themes from her Metis dilemma of mixed identities, nature vs. humanity and life vs. death; always opposing sides. Through art, she finds peace.

Boss's Secretary at the Meeting

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
She comes so pretty prying...
"What is going on here anyway?"
She's the Boss's secretary so
she has a right to know
all the answers so

spread those blueprints
on the table so
she can see them so
she can flick her wrist
and sip her coffee so

she can tell us what she thinks
so all of us can know
that while the Boss is on vacation
everything I say
isn't always so.

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

Words are All I Have

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Contributor: Jason Sturner

- -
Words I'm frightened to say
dangle off deep breaths
and gentle voice.

I listen to every syllable I speak to you,
making sure no bad judgment in word
or accent escapes.

And they fumble from my thoughts
as the thoughts rumble:

I want you back
I can be different
this time

Why I think my carefully selected
phrases might persuade you I don't know.

But if to get you back were possible
with my arrangement of speech,

Then I wish to be king of words,
or poet of my time.

- - -
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


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Contributor: Andrew Fujio Rodriguez

- -
Sitting here watching the face
Of time and ever-moving space
Watching the ticker revolve around
As if it were the Earth

I’m waiting for time to pass me by
Waiting for the day I die
Watching the clock go ‘round and ‘round
Sitting…waiting for my time

My body feels so rotten
Misused and forgotten
Feels like through the years
My elixirs are killing me
Time slows, my mind goes
My mind sets fire to my toes
I can run around my whole life
I can wait for time, but time won’t wait on me

I’m waiting for time to pass me by
Waiting for the day I die
Sitting…waiting for my time
Waiting…and wasting away…

- - -
Andrew Fujio Rodriguez is a laid-back, self-proclaimed amateur poet who writes what he feels. He likes to go against the current of the current and doesn’t care what others have to say about it. Also a musical person, he tries to incorporate a lyrical feel to his writing.


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Contributor: Erica Garcia

- -
On an unheard of downtown street, it’s pouring hard for once.
She watches the rain, wishing it could take her fears away.
She watches the rain.

She’s so scared and so confused.
She hates it but she lives with it because she doesn't know what else to do.
She feels so alone.

They add to the pressure. Nobody knows.
No one would understand, and the skies are sad just like her.
She watches the rain.

In a popular uptown city, she dreams of a different life.
She watches the rain. Her hopes and dreams are washed away.
She watches the rain.

She’s just trying to make the best of it all.
She’s just trying not to break down.
When will the sun come out?

- - -
Erica Garcia is a dedicated musician who currently lives in Southern California. She writes to record, express, and better understand her feelings. She can be contacted at itsericadani@gmail.com

The View From This New York Balcony Where Our Fair Juliet Never Stood

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Contributor: Ryan Quinn Flanagan

- -
Things should be stretched out, lackadaisical
as a pelican, the words should be extended
like a pig on a spit, roasting and revolving
with leafy worm apple in mouth; the dancing
girls of Polynesia, of captain Cook, of Mutiny
on the Bounty (both versions)
waving banyan leaves under a blue-chilled moon
grass skirt hips-a-whirl, playing tricks on the mind
the same way a hamster wheel makes one
believe in the twin lies of distance and
destination, taking large bail bucket gulps of water
and juggling the sustenance of another day
down into nothing -
and who am I but worn socks and worn patience,
gallant as half the cowards you’ll meet
and hiding behind the others;
my wrinkled flesh is the iguanas wrinkled flesh
flashing hole punch eyes into brain,
there is no love for the cactus as there
is no love for the paedophile as there is
no love for me;
we have been deemed ugly
and undeserving,
there are baby seals to protect,
you see,
little blond girl heads to tie
into pig tails
so Austria can be known for more
than skiing;
and they call me a bitter man because
I live alone, lick my own stamps,
they call me all sorts of names in the
gossip parlours: recluse, malcontent,
some other pejoratives more imaginative
but I don’t mind;
the sky scrapers will still fall away from the sky
like Cinderella slippers of glass,
and architectural marvel, they say,
just think of elevators like birds without

caraway seeds for the jay hawk,
for whistling orange cheeked cockatiels
of a six lane newsprint cage,
repeating the words of their masters
like a double truth,
everything rushed and

Things should be stretched out, lackadaisical
as an unemployment line (without hope), my words e~x~t~e~n~d~e~d
like a lazy beach towel to cover the expanse:
thinking of cinnamon sticks
and bevelled wood into slamming headboard love
and Roman fountains with dirty
unpronounceable names,
of charm bracelets and flatulence
of Sadie Hawkins and summer dandelion heads
removed like the heads of the guillotine-
happy French
blood diamonds big as the
West African

Things should be stretched out like Lautrec
in traction,
flaky pie crust
to the tin baked periphery,
dogs without collars working one off
beside wet cardboard dumpsters
pan-seared daffodils in heat,
a delicate house-broken nonsense
to it all
like the separation of spoons
from forks.

- - -
Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a romantic at heart. Looking for love in all things. Not always an easy love, but love nonetheless.


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Contributor: Brittany Zedalis

- -
We watch a movie,
about ghosts and love,
about truth and justice,
and hear a word.

One word, sticking
with us for the rest
of your life, spoken
in moments of love.

I'm on my knees, in
front of the old and
the new, wind wrapping
its arms around me.

I plead.

But I hear nothing.

There was once a time,
when there was a reply.

I said I love you
and you simply said...


- - -
Brittany Zedalis is a 21 year old married poet who is studying to be an elementary teacher at Francis Marion University. She's been published in a few journals such as The Camel Saloon, Verse Land, Haiku Journal, and Dead Snakes. She loves poetry and loves being able to say in writing what she can't out loud.


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Contributor: M. Krochmalnik Grabois

- -
The poet laureate
was on her bike
a Classic Schwinn
red and chrome
that she polished
as a zen exercise
before each ride

The bike was on the asphalt
rolling forward
propelled by her pedaling feet and legs
but the poet was in her head
(no longer in the “holy here-and-now”
about which she’d written so many poems)

She was in her head
playing with onomatopoeia
and variations of the word “vermiform”
and contemplating metaphors
when she collided with a garbage truck

She ran right into its side!
It was hard to figure how she could do that
given the truck’s size
and color
bright green like a piece of sun-dappled forest
and its smell
of horridly ripe refuse
and its loudness
as it compressed the latest submissions
thrown over the transom of its maw

The answer, of course, was that she wasn’t in the world
she was 100% in her own head
and later, when I heard this sad news
I remembered attending a workshop
with the poet laureate

The moderator of a panel
asked whether poetry could save one’s life
and she answered enthusiastically and warmly
in the affirmative

but the moderator didn’t ask
if poetry could kill you

Fortunately her collision with the garbage truck
one of thousands owned by Waste Management
allegedly a Mafia business
didn’t kill her
She sort of bounced off it
not as cleanly as a rubber ball off a wall
but cleanly enough not to get dragged
under its massive wheels

(which had been the fate of another friend
also an intellectual
though not a poet
a sociological observer of culture
and it was not a garbage truck
but a moving van
taking the possessions of half a broken family
from Key West
which had once been Paradise for them
to Ohio, their state of origin
which they had never considered Paradise

and the wife
--who was the moving van part of the
broken family, while her husband stayed in their house
located on Love Lane
off Fleming Street, next to the public library--

never knew that it was her possessions
that had been the instrument
of this woman’s death
even though she read about the
fatality in the paper—
she just never added 1 + 1
to get 2
which was fortunate

because she was already distraught
after learning that her husband had
been having an affair
with an older woman
whose face was lined with “character,” as her husband put it
while her face was smoothed by decades of moisturizer and
more recently, botox
an ironic affair

exactly the sort of trauma
that the poet laureate often enjoyed
in her poems
never having been married herself)

The poet laureate
suffered only abrasions and contusions
words that were as significant
and concretely dense with meaning
as a red wheelbarrow

- - -
M. Krochmalnik Grabois’ poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He is a regular contributor to The Prague Revue, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, most recently for his story “Purple Heart” published in The Examined Life in 2012, and for his poem. “Birds,” published in The Blue Hour, 2013. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for 99 cents from Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition.

Before I Sally Off

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
State and Madison, Chicago.
Saturday, high noon.
Shoppers in melee.

Surrounded, I give up.
Against the curb, I see
suddenly the sea foam up

and in the distance
white birds soar and glide,
black apostrophes

cleaver split
but still tangential,
rising, falling.

Then the stoplight
flashes green and I
prepare to sally off

till I look down
and see against
the curb the great

white waters bowl
as one by one people
drop and drown.

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

a.m. Senses

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Contributor: Richard Hartwell

- -
Morning pine whiff, sun-warmed pinesap,
spiced nostrils, aroused, alert, erect;
fresh-baked bread would be no match.

Fountain’s call, gilded-fish splashes,
syncopated waterfall backbeat;
ears lightly titillated by liquid allegro.

Soft zephyr, arm hairs whisked into
pleasure-shaking goose bumps;
ablutions bestowed by blowback spray.

Dandelion stem plucked and sucked,
transport to times lost, miles trod;
tongue-tasted sweet and tart memories.

Turtledoves glimpsed atop the wall, two,
spied a third, shunned, wooing a mate,
only empty nest’s bitter greetings remain.

- - -
Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) English teacher. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large, and that the instant contains eternity.

Our Core

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Contributor: Taylor Gibbs

- -
I found a special skeletal key, that was tucked away,
deep within your skin.
I found a way in, with the map that lit our veins when the lines of your hands met mine.
Once held, the key threw sparks; bright, molten,
dancing sprites twirling through the aether and my mind. A keyhole
in the form of your aorta etched upon your breast,
under a deep vermillion mist
I reach to place the key, unlocking your chest,
opening you right up. And there inside,
to my surprise whorled a blazing sun. Its solar flares
singed the air and pierced into my eyes.
This succored sun, spun and spun, cracked and split apart
lightning black and purple skies. In the center, cradled there;
love in all its parts. It sprouted wings that flapped, and beat –
that carried you into me. And all of our ones and twos,
now became a three. Our love was a living thing
that grew and grew

beyond eternity.

- - -
Student, poet, and rambler through of trails.


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Contributor: Ben Riddle

- -
Her eyes apologised in the moonlight,
her smile alluding to sins committed
as we had learned to love one another.

She was clothed now, in an old shirt of mine;
and she wore it better than I ever had,
confident as I was always meant to be.

Beneath the sleeze, I saw a tattoo,
an image of a dreamcatcher,
like one from my own childhood.

It made me smile, and wonder whether
the dreams that my own had caught
would look anything like my life now,

or whether the dreamcatcher on her arm
would do anything to help me keep her.

- - -
An aspiring writer from Perth, Western Australia, I write to better understand love, truth and relationships, often to the backdrop of nature.

The Demise of Mr. Wise

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
The demise of Mr. Wise came as no surprise
to the clerks in his department,
those weathered women who for years
had borne his scorn so well.

The story goes that Mr. Wise that day,
balancing his tray at lunch,
stepped lightly past
the puddings, pies and cakes

and pitched across his broth.
Two feet from the register, he dropped,
a humpback suddenly ashore.
Behind him in the line was Mrs. Burke

who saw her boss's water break.
She knew right then
there was nothing she could do.
After all, as everyone could see,

an earthquake in the chest
had taken Mr. Wise.
And that is why she raised
both arms and cried,

"Forget the CPR! Someone
call a priest!" No other sound
was heard that afternoon.
Not one boo-hoo.

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


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Contributor: Marilyn Hammick

- -
Watching you ride from shore
to open sea, I gather stones
in unstitched pockets,
skim the waves until

the book of our kinship appears
unbroken by the gutters and peaks
of the usual memory grounds

where father and son practice over
and under arm throws, tunnel, build,
make marks that may survive
the tides that pass between us.

- - -
Marilyn writes during still moments at home in England and France, recalling a childhood in New Zealand and years living in Iran. Her poems have been published in Prole, The Glasgow Review and by Mardibooks and Writers Abroad.

The Professor

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Contributor: Adreyo Sen

- -
Some people look so small and frail
that you begin to imagine
if you touched them,
they would easily break
and fall away.
Disappearing as if they never were.

You are the singularity
at the corner of our vision.
On dragging parties,
the lone, aloof elegance.

You are already a dwindling disappearance.
Would you take fright and become a ghost
if we conversed?
Or would the delicious silence
of your graceful shoulders
become ours?

- - -


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Contributor: J.K. Durick

- -
Empty, it’s ornamental at best
glossy, solid, a paperweight or
counterweight, a contraption
limited by our imaginations
hinting, yet hesitant, on its own
it seems undecided, cautious
tentative, timid to the touch,
but loaded it becomes itself
frames, identifies, disturbs
something to hold on to, point
at our enemies, our friends
at ourselves, the warmth of
certainty, of finality, an answer
ready for the many questions
we have asked ourselves, like
why, or for how long, or when
it manages time and place, creates
outcomes, punctuates lives, ends
misery, writes headlines, and
in the end, regardless of who pulls
the trigger and why, causes more
problems than it can ever solve.

- - -
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, Black Mirror, Third Wednesday, Foliate Oak, and Orange Room.

Tree of Knowledge

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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
It was a day to forget
The beggar at the supermarket
Glued to his wheelchair
Hustling tickets for a raffle

It was a day to forget
The man arguing with himself
Who used to be a slumlord
Leasing houses without heat

It was a day to forget
The woman from the madhouse
Beseeching passing strangers
To pray she might find love

But it was a night to remember
That the fruits of the world
Are only privileges
And not just rights

- - -
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.

Seductions Freedom

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Contributor: Ron Koppelberger

- -
Wanting the fame of a conscious consummation
And a beloved pause, in reserved rendezvous, eager
To fulfill the surrender of extravagant seas
In wishing pleasures of availing calm, the exotic allure
Of what’s gone to the utterance of oaths
Restrained, of worship in dreams of betrothal unto the
                   Dominion of yearning seductions freedom.

- - -
I have been accepted in England, Australia, Canada and Thailand. I love to write and offer an experience to the reader. I am a member of The American Poet’s Society as well as The Isles Poetry Association.
*Website-SwampLit (RonnieWK.weebly.com)
* Website-Shadows at Night-Tide (Shadowsatnighttide.weebly.com)
* Website-WolfFray.Blogspot.com

Cats Are Poetry

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
In your mind you hear
words snarling
all day long
but no poem arrives.
The words are locked
in a cat fight,
syllables flying.

You hope the words
sleep well tonight and
wake in orderly fashion,
the way your cats
stretch at dawn
and wait to be fed
with feline decorum.

In the morning
the poem arrives
word by word,
chips off a diamond,
so you stop shaving,
grab a pen and
take dictation.

You write the words
as you hear them,
tweak a line or two,
and go spelunking
in your mind for
the right title.

Later, in celebration,
you tote a blast horn
to the roof
of the building
and announce
what agnostics suspect
and atheists know:

Cats are poetry.
Dogs are prose.

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


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Contributor: Tiffany Renee Harmon

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Yesterday I watched a bird
plummet to his death.
As his wings spiraled down to the pavement
I wondered if this was suicide
or natural order
whether the bird had merely given up
and if the sky had already forgotten
or found a willing replacement.

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Tiffany Renee Harmon is a poet and writer of speculative fiction based out of Cincinnati, OH.

The Macrocosm of the American Houseplant

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Contributor: Jessi Walker

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The Mississippi flows on the undercarriages
of the leaves of vascular plants.
A perfect system of tributaries
pumps treasure chests up from the dirt
to be made into plant-flavored Karo syrup.
Every leaf.
But that’s not the only exciting thing about plants.
You might find aphids and caterpillars
chewing, biting and sucking
sugarygreen juice
maybe closing their eyes so as not to be distracted from the tang.

Until it’s through being a home
or a support system
or a progenitor
or dinner
the leaf will be a leaf until its leaf work is done.
Then the river ebbs, dries up
the leaf curls
crumbles and decays
turning to dirt and nourishing the ground for the next leaves to grow.

It doesn’t attempt to stop the passage of time
and it doesn’t cling,
screaming, adamant
that it’s still just as pretty or that
it used to be
as vibrant as the newer leaves
or cry when it’s no longer the center of attention.

It won’t yell
or slap you and accuse you of looking elsewhere.
It doesn’t apologize for being what it is
or lament being what it is no longer.

Go ahead.
Run your finger along the stem and lift it,
feel how it gently pushes back against you.
Water it and watch it
as it becomes taut,
urgency in its veins
cargo ships launching.
Look at it and contemplate
all the silent pounding
inside that lonely orchid
or arrowhead vine by the sliding glass door.

Or you could read a book.
Or go for a walk.
Or go sit in the grass with your mouth shut,
and listen to the conversations of birds for an hour,
breathing the mineral pungency of fresh-turned earth crumbling under your bare toes.
Cheer up: pretty soon, you’ll be dirt too.

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Jessi Walker studies creative writing and teaches at Auburn University.


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Contributor: Changming Yuan

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West: not unlike a giddy goat
wandering among the ruins
of a long lost civilization
you keep searching
in the central park
a way out of the tall weeds
as nature makes New York
into a mummy blue

East: in her beehive-like room
so small that a yawning stretch
would readily awaken
the whole apartment building
she draws a picture on the wall
of a tremendous tree
that keeps growing
until it shoots up
from the cemented roof

North: after the storm
all dust hung up
in the crowded air
with his human face
frozen into a dot of dust
and a rising speckle of dust
melted into his face
to avoid this cold climate
of his antarctic dream
he relocated his naked soul
at the dawn of summer

South: like a raindrop
on a small lotus leaf
unable to find the spot
to settle itself down
in an early autumn shower
my little canoe drifts around
near the horizon
beyond the bare bay

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Changming Yuan, 7-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and Landscaping (2013), grew up in rural China, holds a PhD in English, and currently tutors in Vancouver, where he co-publishes Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan and operates PP Press. Most recently interviewed by [PANK], Yuan has poetry appearing in Asia Literary Review Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, London Magazine, Threepenny Review and 779 other literary journals/anthologies across 28 countries.


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