United Through Contempt

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Contributor: Michael Marrotti

- -
Mein Kampf
rests on my
next to the
of Malcolm X

march and protest
espousing hatred
for white men
like it's politically

I avoid
my mother
like a felony
the thin line
of love and hate
has been

There's ashes
of a man
my significant
other hates
hidden deep
inside our closet
we call it the urn
of disdain

I don't need
to go outside
to feel the
enmity and
of a divisive

All I have to do
is get dressed

- - -
Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh. His latest chapbook is available here: https://www.amazon.com/F-D-Approved-Poetry-Michael-Marrotti/dp/153907577X


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Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
Cold night, feeble light
from grandfather's lamp
legacy to be lost
and I
dreaming again
of you

I miss my body
when it was with your body

I miss my mind
when it was wrapped tight
in your coils
the coals
of a love red-hot and radiating

I miss a time
when lamps of mine
were never lit
yet the rooms were so bright
and only because you were smiling
and only because we were making love
and smiling
as one.

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

Black Widow Woman

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Contributor: John Ogden

- -
When the box opens
when the night opens
when all that I have hidden
comes spilling into the light
when the dragon wakes
when she breathes her golden fire
oh Black Widow Woman
I will stand
I will smile
I will suck the hole
harsh burning in my heart
and hold fast my venom.

I will hold my venom for her
I will hold my curdled soul hostage
and know
that I am better
that I am all
she could have been
for me
she never was.

- - -
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.


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Contributor: Ananya S Guha

- -
Three times I died
that evening when
the teak tree in Grandmother's
house was cut, felled into pieces
Or the pine trees in the college
where I studied, shading us
in green light, broken into pieces
they heaved, and the light vanished
broke between my knees
as I clasped the bench sitting on
in the canteen they laughed
urbanization, let the green, the blue
all hue go from our lives
with smattering colours
brick and mortar
I watched as a little child
would look at a monster
awe, reverence ping of change
ping ping ping.
Little Lotta, Hansel and Gretel
of childhood, come back
into my hill torn body
wounded but not bloodied.
I love clours that keep me
floated for a while
like prisms changing
like the chameleon shading
flood lights
I died four, five seven times
as the hills became bare
almost nude
I would not worship
only rain washed hills and plum trees
but the plum trees and peach trees also
vanished from my orchard
now kneaded bare
they stand dead
to tell stories of the dead
like a faded house with pale colours
yellow paint, coated, withering tarnished
smelling hollow smells, decrepit
like shadowy past.
Smell life in past get a tang
an aroma of the forests and streams
with monoliths like a ghost's sideburns
standing erect. Beheaded.

- - -

Separation of Gods

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Contributor: Adam Levon Brown

- -
Molecular transfiguration
Embedded with iron never

Sold the metal in my veins.
Morphed into steel and tempered

With the ashes of the burnt witches.
When will they pay for their crimes

Against humanity and against the earth?
Only time will tell, and time is a

Cruel master, no matter who you are.
Misshapen happenstance juxtaposition

Of ants forming straight lines.
Tomorrow, we will fight.

- - -
Adam Levon Brown is a published author, poet, and cat lover. He is editor of Madness Muse Magazine, and a book reviewer for Five 2 One Magazine. He has over 120 poems published in 9 different countries. He has been published in venues such as Burningword Literary Journal.


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Contributor: Judy Moskowitz

- -
My core has been filled with new ideas
These last few years
A variety pack of trial and error
Feeding the intangible host
Words once homeless
Stored away in a dreamscape
Have found their place
A conduit for combustion
Release and escape
Living in harmony with music
Every note played with the caress
Of his phrase
Poetic intercourse from across the table
Sharing words in code
Teasing of scholarly loft
Candied sweet potatoes
Mixed in a bowl
A ten second shelf life
Stir fried with just the right amount of spice
The promise of a poem
Born from just a taste
A glass of wine

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

The Morning After

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
When she sees him in the morning he’s
all foamed up and in the mirror shaving
so she stands behind him, saying,
“Bill, your father was a ladies’ man--
that's why you have this way with women.
Deirdre, you kissed once, light on the lips.
Bridget, ah, the melon of her hips
you kept inviolate, whole, entire.
But since your father was a ladies’ man,
you will be a priest instead.
You will never fill a woman,
never watch her swell,
and she will be the better for it,
won’t she, Charming Bill.”

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

Because Of Her

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Contributor: Stacy Maddox

- -
She still doesn't see how exquisite she is
Nothing I could say would compare
To how I feel about her every move
Grace and beauty shines through her soul
The embodiment of a perfectly sculpted mate

This woman I took to wife fifty years ago
Is still the young, shy girl I met one summer
When just an unseasoned boy of twelve
Now a man of seventy, I am more than enamored

Little did I know of secrets behind green eyes
Or strength and understanding in a simple smile
Innocent today, as she was when we wed
And the moment we marveled at our newborn
Only long, silver hair tells truth of her real age

She laughs at a joke, turning her head to me
I catch my breath, watching, meeting her gaze
An eternity will never be enough time to love
To create memories, to adore, to cherish
Giving, becoming who I want to be, because of her.

- - -
Stacy Maddox is a varied hobbyist & artist, living in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS USA. She loves to soak up the sun by the river and feel the water rush over her feet while spending time with her family and friends. Stacy has been published in over 20 books, print magazines and websites.

The Drift of Decline

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Contributor: James Rudolph

- -
This slope, a mild grade,
I descend as a stroller
rounding, edging hillocks
Lincoln green with short grass and
tufting Sweet William and then
a glade of bones.

The dead’s dry cove
in repose, gathered casually
as if passing mid tattle,
gentle ossuary of the spent I
lean in to catch a confidence.

- - -
James Robert Rudolph is a retired healthcare worker and teacher having returned to old haunts in northern New Mexico after a busy career in Minneapolis. He believes in old-style magical realism, that inspired by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the high desert, and the deep, broad sky of the American mountain west. His poems have appeared in The Artistic Muse, Mad Swirl, and Poetry Super Highway, among others.

The Wrist-Snatcher

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
The others, of course,
are more rabid than I
but less apt to show it.
Whenever I strike,
I never romp off.
I stand under neon,
the wrist that I’ve snatched
tight in my teeth
as I wait with a smile
for the wagon.

As one of the few
wrist-snatchers still
on the streets of Chicago,
I make all of my rounds
in old tennies.
They allow me to dive
for the purse hand,
whack it and sink
my teeth in the wrist
of the free hand,
give a terrier’s yip
then head for the neon
where I duck so my head
can spin on its shoulders
till I am certain
I have no pursuers.

In dreams every night
I see all of the women
whose wrists I have had in my teeth
standing like Statues of Liberty,
shrieking and waving
their stumps like flares.
Every night their screams
carve a frieze of patrol cars
in the middle of the street.

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

Out of Eden, Forever Smitten

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Contributor: Jun Lit

- -
That was the time
when apples of eternal youth
were confusing durians
hanging from that forbidden
tree of carcinogenic truth
offering orgasmic salvation
from rebellious damnation

and then
you silently struck
the wandering limbs
of my not-so-innocent heart
with your potion-filled fangs
of captivating smiles
and inviting glances

I was stunned
as you slithered
through the sclerotic veins
of cryptic insecurities
narrowed by hating gout
and calculating doubt
and dying hopelessness.

the soothing venom
of your benevolent soul
inch by inch digested
each muscle of resistance
- that stubborn self-withdrawal -
each fiber of dullness,
all arteries yielding
to every warmth-filled dose
of your embracing care,
all capillaries unblocked
of needless faithlessness
by each generous drop
of your comforting word,
supplied ad libitum
emoticons engorged

these arms
once pumped with apathy,
both angels and demons abhored,
now and forever captive
in the web of a redback
- not from one down-under outback -
a willing prey enwrapped, adored
by your vibrant spirit, like I was Lord.

with me, your life is not in Eden,
but I’m forever smitten,
neither is this hell revisited
and with you I remain intoxicated,
here in atheist’s purgatory enchanted,
the inner warrior pacified,

mind, body and soul
surrender to be swallowed -
hook, line and sinker -
to fall
to this serpent,
now decades-old
and juvenile joules spent
but we still
continue to call

- - -
Jun Lit (full name: Ireneo L. Lit, Jr.) teaches biology at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and studies insects and other things about the environment; he also enjoys writing poems about nature and society.


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Contributor: John Grey

- -
Instead of a kiss goodnight,
a boy nervously handed her a slip of paper,
then turned on his heels
and never looked back
as he walked all the way home.

It was a poem
that she read apprehensively
by bedside lamp,
over and over.

Was this really the boy who
took me out to Taco Bell
and then a Spiderman movie,
she wondered.
And does he really see me
as the lovely unassailable goddess
of his flowery language,
his pitiable self-immolating voice.
She did settle on one conclusion though.
She was in love with him.

All the next day,
she kept recalling the awkward fumbling boy,
tried to reconcile him with
the unabashed romantic of the verse.
Chicken burritos and skin like silk.
Super-villains and lips like rose petals.
There was a connection.
She couldn't quite grasp it.

But now she's with some other guy.
He doesn't hesitate when it comes to getting physical.
His tongue gets into her mouth like an implant.
His hands are just on the tender side of rough
as they unbutton her dress.

But there are no extravagant speeches to embellish the heavy petting,
no indication that libido once launched could ever pass for romance.
She once lost her heart to words on a page.
Now she must make do with a different kind of groping.

- - -
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.


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Contributor: Stacy Maddox

- -
Tonight... Steady rain drips from overflowing gutters
Helplessly echoing sounds of a gray shattered heart
Betrayal and bitterness beat in unfettered rhythm
A perfect rhyme deafening in its melodious embrace

Cold and lonely quiet world muffled outside
Pain grips its icy fingers, memories are frozen
Empty promises and lies kept closely guarded
Speak loudly through clear window panes

Leaving made way for hard truth blindly following
Lifting shadows and darkness from unseeing eyes
Hope fleeted away as days passed endlessly by
Crashing to hard ground on its final end journey.

- - -
Stacy Maddox is a varied hobbyist & artist, living in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS USA. She loves to soak up the sun by the river and feel the water rush over her feet while spending time with her family and friends. Stacy has been published in over 20 books, print magazines and websites.


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Contributor: Daipayan Nair

- -
The frozen lake on my chest
has a probable liquidity beneath
or a possible death.
I am strangely alive
as long as you think of me
as a road among hurdles
and cross,
or stop in the middle,
peek into my helplessness
and yours,
watch my slow death
and yours
and believe, 'It shall pass'.

- - -
Born in the year 1988, in a small town named Silchar in Assam, India, Daipayan Nair is a freelance writer and a poet. He has recently won the Reuel International Prize 2016 for Poetry. He also has a book to his name and has contributed to many magazines and anthologies.

The Dulling Patina of Honest Efforts

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Contributor: James Rudolph

- -
A fishmonger I smell
of the brine of daily grind
my hands coarse with
common purpose cannot
hide their long labor.

But he is a spice island find
from a legendary voyage
he came to you wrapped
in banana leaves to feed
on perishable fruits
of fantastical colors
his rich Tahitian skin
blackly bruises too easily.

In a mountain’s fastness
remote, unmapped,
in this granite’s keep
beats a heart part
a beefy quarter
red with love.

- - -
James Robert Rudolph is a retired healthcare worker and teacher having returned to old haunts in northern New Mexico after a busy career in Minneapolis. He believes in old-style magical realism, that inspired by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the high desert, and the deep, broad sky of the American mountain west. His poems have appeared in The Artistic Muse, Mad Swirl, and Poetry Super Highway, among others.

This Mick on the Next Stool

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
In a pub in Ireland

So this Mick on the next stool,
who's as serious as Yeats
but looks like Wilde,
stares at me,
with eyes crossed,
sipping Guinness through the foam.
Finally he burps and says,
"I'll bet that growth is cystic.
If it were on my nose,
I'd light this match,
hold a straight pin over it,
then prick it.
Poof! There'd be
a belch of goat cheese, sure.
But what of it?
You'd need a Q-Tip,
maybe a drop of p'roxide.
But in two weeks
new skin would bloom
smoother than a baby's bum.
With your luck, Yank,
it would freckle."

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

Professorial Dirge

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
In this college town
three girls of Spring are fresh bread
brown before the noon of May.

In pink and yellow frocks,
with hair unfurling in the breeze,
they laugh and glisten in the sun

and like good daughters wave
to the old professor on a bench
who’s waiting for the end of day.

He waves back and smiles his best,
knowing girls like these, once close,
now wander many miles away.

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


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Contributor: M. Protacio-De Guzman

- -
When the clear liquid drops
From its obscene bottle
To the glass anticipating
Its rapid flow, I let go
And swim in its wave
Of ice and sparkling soda
Riding the crest like
Some sun-baked surfer
Atop that perfect swell.

Or I become a fish
Splitting the sea with fins
That sparkle under the glow
Of the moon and stars over
The black shimmering face
That echoes the sea in me.

Then I become wind
That blows the tide away
As night birds glide above
Trees, casting shadows
Within shadows on
Every sleeping being.

But no matter what form
What creature I become
Whether I am possessed
By the spirits in the glass
Or not,
I can never come close
To the splendor of
What I can be
With you.

In the end, loneliness
Is more intoxicating
Than any liquor.

- - -
M. Protacio-De Guzman is from Manila, Philippines. His poems have appeared and have been anthologized in local and international publications, most recently in Off the Rocks Anthology Volume 19.


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Contributor: Stacy Maddox

- -
A heart knows not the difference
Between what is wrong or right
No mind of its very own to think

Voices cannot be audibly heard
Yet, it listens for another's pitch
Hanging on tightly to every murmur

Beating to a rhythm out of control
It can feel the tenderest touch
Becoming softer if given a chance

Pain makes it wary and jaded
When it has been broken or marred
Even though it has blind eyes

Its uses will never have bounds
Creating memories to last forever
At any given moment in its time

It is connected to every living soul
Inhabited by only one body of flesh
Amazing with its ability to love and receive

A heart can speak any language without saying a word.

- - -
Stacy Maddox is a varied hobbyist & artist, living in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS USA. She loves to soak up the sun by the river and feel the water rush over her feet while spending time with her family and friends. Stacy has been published in over 20 books, print magazines and websites.


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Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
Look at the sun
Bringing you a brilliance
You can never dream of

Listen to the rain
Its music is more melancholic
Than the world’s saddest song

Feel the wind
Its caress carries a touch
No lover can ever match

Smell the flowers
Their perfume can seduce
The heart of any man

All of these things
Are given without
Any hint of a price

And will remain so
No matter the cost
It takes to stay alive

- - -
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A two-time Best of the Net nominee, his poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications. His debut chapbook, "A Wind From Nowhere", is available from Flutter Press.

Balloon Ride Over the Serengeti

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Contributor: Linda B. Gamble

- -
We rise with the sun
into a blue-gray sky. I feel weightless.
Yellow, peach, vermillion, streak
the horizon. Shadows below fall
away, reveal the movement of hundreds:
zebra in orderly rows, wildebeests’
disordered wanderings, impalas,
the graceful leaps of gazelles. Clouds
of dust billow as each passes beneath.

Wind shifts, whips my hair, we turn
to see giraffes, their stilt walking
gait, deceptively awkward, elephants
lumbering in the background young
clustered in group’s center or
toddling between mother’s legs,
her body a safeguard from sun or harm

Turning again, a 360 panorama.
Flame whooshes us higher. We
glide over acacia trees, look
down to grass burnished yellow
with drought, a canvas
for our balloon’s shadow

far less intrusive than the miles
of rutted roads, sound and pollution
of safari vehicles. We float in
surreal silence, the land stretching
beyond my sight, air, electric with life.
There is a wildness from this view,
an expansive majesty lost in the close-up.
In the jeep I became a predator. Here,
I am a worshipper. My skin prickles.

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