David in the 3rd Grade

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Contributor: Connie Bae

- -
Don't let that boy in 3rd grade
suck on your pen
when the ink doesn't come out.
It does,
in his mouth

That kid is really strange.
Don’t give him pencil lead.
He won’t use it.
He will eat it.

He has a goofy smile
and is actually really nice.
So for his safety,
don’t give him stationary.


- - -
Connie Bae enjoys making people laugh even if it means making a fool of herself. The only books that have made her cry are all about animals. She believes she loves oranges because she was born in Orange, California.

Talk

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Contributor: J.K.Durick

- -
We say so little
so often now
the room around us
is almost silent
as if
we are almost out
of words to say
as if
the script
we were playing
is down to its last
few pages
so we read
our parts
our lines slowly
in fragments
like this
as if
to keep things going
just
a little longer.


- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Social Justice Poetry, 1947, Stanzaic Stylings, Synchronized Chaos, and Algebra of Owls.

Sundown at the Abbey

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
After a day in the fields
plowing and sowing,
the old monks see
sundown is near so
they put away tools,
clean up for supper.

It's soup and bread
torn from a loaf,
chunks of good cheese,
a rainbow of bright
fruit from the orchard,
coffee as black as tar.

There are 20 monks left,
slow and ailing, a drop
from a hundred or so
a few decades ago.
The harvest is small,
their lives still simple.

They work in the fields
and pray in the chapel.
But birds in the air
sometimes hear prayer
rise from the fields
and soar past them.


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

My Open Arms

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Contributor: Stacy J Maddox

- -
Now that I have finally
found you
After searching for so
many years
I can begin my journey to
loving you
Venture into a lifetime
of discovery

I will devote this heart with
open arms
Come lay your head upon
my breast
Listen to how it beats
for you
Let me touch your soul
at last.


- - -
Stacy Maddox lives, dreams, tends her gardens and writes in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS, USA. Indulging her time in the outdoors, connecting with nature, walking the Kansas River trails and discovering new photo opportunities, is one of her greatest pleasures in life. Stacy has been published in over 40 books, print and online magazines and websites.

Dutiful Daughter, Dutiful Wife

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Contributor: Rhonda Johnson-Saunders

- -
In taking first shadowed steps as wife,
wide-eyed and wispy in winter white,
eyes fall below an arch of wicks flaming orange.
Daughter shall bring honor to her family.
Duties fulfilled without question,
for what is true love to a subservient
bride but an impractical wall built
by a modern world, she only sees
from afar, a needless barrier from
what is truth and what shall be?
Too much grief kept alive and fanned
out by instinct to survive, only tears
rain on their hardened land.
Without a dowry, without a chance
for more in life than the plight of mothers
who came before her, daughter resigns
to hide for two cycles of the moon,
mysterious rituals performed, she’s told,
will beautify her form and purify within.
Drained by coming days, she slants
but shall not break. She, his chosen one,
knows her worst fear. She may still be rejected,
returned, but never reprieved. She hopes
to be desired by his dark eyes and prays
she will be suitable to his stringent parents
who unbury old traditions with charred hands.
The fate of a daughter’s impoverished family
depends on her union, her obligatory vows.
For what is love but a weighty, hand-me-down
coat worn to burden a woman? She has shed
her layers, her tender dreams of youth, beneath
orange candlelit glow of arranged marriage. All
who belong to her new world more than she,
sing solemn wishes to husband and wife into
the chill of a moonless night.


- - -
Rhonda Johnson-Saunders is a lifetime lover of reading and writing poetry. She enjoys writing all types of poetry, especially free verse and haiku and has been published in The Heron's Nest. When not writing, Rhonda enjoys music, genealogy, travel and best of all, being a mom to her two young sons.

Constellations

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Contributor: Erin Schwarz

- -
The ground pressing into her back
was frozen, browned grass husks
pricking her exposed wrists. Cold air
blanketed her body, clinging like the leaves
enmeshed in her hair.
The dark sky was broken
by the blinding stars.
She stood, her feet barely on the ground,
her white dress stained from the earth.
She desperately reached for the stars,
tracing the patterns
with her slender white finger.
She cried for the constellations
wept for the moon.
The sun overtook the sky,
but the night was forever
with her.


- - -
Erin is a senior in high school and loves to write.

Orange

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Contributor: Nikhil Nath

- -
In oranges, you
won't find small

islands of sun burnt
pen drives mesmerized

by the Giant Panda
in a enter key

or shift reason
to the top floor

of a sub zero
refrigerator full

of unwanted art
where piano and

violins sit with
fake Picasso or

print Chagall,
as Rome rests

on a mouse
with laptop screen

savers running to
Alaska, post global warming


- - -
Nikhil has been writing poetry for nineteen years. He has been published in various magazine in India, the USA and the UK. Nikhil Nath is his pen name. He lives and works from Kolkata, India. “Write rubbish, but write", said Virginia Woolf. This is Nikhil's maxim for writing. Allegro, Aji, Ink Sweat and Tears, Laughing Dog (Poem of the Month), Ehanom, Ithica Lit, Germ Magazine, Leaves of Ink, Linden Avenue and Pif Magazine have recently accepted his work.

Cat the Candle

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Contributor: Sharocks

- -
She is only lit when I walk past,
close enough for her to swat
like the flame divots with the air my body
cuts through with my leaving, the room
mutes, don't come around
when she gets upset, blood
red and orange flickers across your skin,
when I am in her presence, a fire lights in her eyes,
the room grows heavy with a burning light.


- - -

On Learning a New Word Late in Life

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Harold, I'm sorry to call you at three in the morning
but you're older than I am and you may have less time
to relish a word you may not have heard of.
It's "rejectamenta," and I stumbled upon it
early this morning when I couldn't sleep.
I wish I had found rejectamenta years ago.
It means exactly what you might think:
"matter rejected as useless or worthless."

Imagine how useful that word would have been
in our younger days as a weapon of choice.
I would have shouted it often when leaving a job
or leaving a nice woman who thought we should marry.
I would have extended my arm like Adolph and shouted
"Rejectamenta!" with the roar of "Sieg Heil!"

For the remainder of my life I will shout it when nettled.
I will shout it at the waiter in that Polish restaurant
the next time he plops pickled pigs feet
in front of me obviously short on gel.
I loathe those feet but the gel is marvelous.

We may be aging, Harold, but we have a word now
we can whip out of our quivers whenever we're miffed.
Perhaps the embalmer will tattoo it on my forehead
if my wife isn't looking, assuming she survives.
Carry on, Harold. The finish line is just ahead.


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

200 in Harmony

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Contributor: Casey Ackerman

- -
One who stopped believing an hour before the email was sent,

one who traveled from New York to Nashville performing for large crowds,

one who was forced by his mother to audition,

one bound for Yale, singing for her resume,

one pair of friends who screamed Can you believe it?,

one group from Rutherford who gave up their lunches for this,

one who said I am proud of myself for this first time,

one who walked at a fast pace, wore a bowtie, and wouldn’t dare miss a rehearsal,

one whose father said Music will never get you anywhere in life,

one who has been to Italy, Germany, France, Spain, and Turkey playing eight different instruments,

one whose mother said Perfection is the only path to success,

one who will never sing again after high school,

one whose mother always sits in the front row, crying at every concert,

one who always shows up late, never forgetting to leave his music scattered on his bedroom floor,

one who is classically trained, who spent her summers in and out of practice rooms,

one from a small town in North Jersey who always sings off pitch,

one who has been to New York City thirty seven times, seeing a different Broadway show every time,

one who said I am good enough and was.


- - -
Casey is a senior at Pompton Lakes High School and plans to further her education at The College of New Jersey as a Music Education major.

My Future

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Contributor: Ellie S. Vend

- -
A body with apps
with characters I wear
and each one a painting
each a piece of personality
a facet of me
carefully cultivated
with an eye toward perfection
placing every artistic detail
so carefully

identifiers
so my friends know where to find me
no matter who I am,
what side of me I'm wearing

hazers
to help me blend with the crowd
when I'm feeling introspective
or in a hurry
flitting from errand to errand

and the ability to tinker
to sew new patches
on new sides of self
to ink my own new tattoos
to lay down elegant lines
on skin that can change color and tone
with a thought
make them mobile
make my whole being a canvas
I can save and switch to blank
at a whim
in the space
of a breath.

freedom
true freedom
to be a man one day
to be a woman the next
to be someone undefined
when it suits me
to blur the line
to play with it
to dance over it
and around it
and celebrate it
and make a thousand human masterpieces
and wear them all
and wear them all
and each only when it suits me.


- - -

Year 15

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Contributor: Brittany K. Fonte

- -
it was wedged in the atoms between
sanity and self-doubt/ threadbare/ insecurity

filled the spaces of their porous marriage like caulk
adding callous words and grooming to the problem

but in Algebra, Y rarely meets X or looming expectations
and the ex lies on the opposite side somehow equal

the sum of their parts was less than a whole heart, or
geometry was never her strong pantsuit

they used fraycheck/checked for loose ends
lost their marbles in pressing “send,” and cushions


- - -
Brittany Fonte holds an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) and has three books published. She was also an editor finalist for Lambda Literary Award in poetry. She lives with her wife and two children in Maryland.

Clarity

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Contributor: Lynne M Hinkey

- -
My things. My beautiful things.
Gathered from far and wide
From adventures lived.
Photos and letters, jewelry and books
From family, friends, and lovers.

My windows. My beautiful windows.
Covered in plywood.
From the lumberyard.
Water jugs, sandbags, and flashlights
Hold the darkness at bay.

The screams. The terrible screams.
Of failing wood screws
Boards fly from windows and roof.
Battens be damned. The incessant
Wind howls an urgent demand.

Choose. Choose. Choose.

My cat. My beautiful Jaguar.
My dog. And my pillow.
Plunge into the bathroom.
Huddle, with a waiting mattress,
To bolster the door against the threat.

Choose. Choose. Choose.

The clarity. My perfect clarity.
When wind lashes into my home.
One-hundred-and-fifty miles per hour
Of understanding.
My cat, my dog, my pillow.


- - -
Lynne Hinkey uses experiences from her years living in the Caribbean to infuse her novels with a bit of tropical magic, from the siren call of the islands, to the terror and hysteria caused by the mysterious chupacabra.

The Ocean Is Not a Good Boyfriend

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Contributor: Brendan Gillett

- -
I must feel like the ocean
how I dry on your skin
how I let you float on
my back, weightless
for once
how I have depths
that your light cannot reach
how you try anyway
how the salt water drips
how I pool
how I envelope you
how I am tidal, flowing
in and out, advancing and
receding, leaving ugly things
uncovered, returning and
preserving with my
salinity even as I
corrode

I know
how I must feel,
how it makes you forget
that even the ocean
is finite


- - -
Brendan Gillett doesn't eat candy for breakfast.

Stubble

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
Does my stubble
say I am unkempt, on
the edge of a philosophical
breakthrough? Or perhaps
that I am a loafer
with a preference
for sleeping late?
It is now my father's stubble,
flecks of salt and pepper,
showing a bit of aging,
reminders of him not only
on the surface of my face,
but also seen in the lines
and shape.


- - -

Riding Schwinns in '56

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
You had to have a Schwinn
to lead this pack of boys
riding bikes full speed
baking under the Chicago sun
laughing after senior year
heading to the local park
to play a game of ball
or lob a cane pole
in the park lagoon
with stinkbait on the hook
to catch a bullhead,
cousin of the catfish,
small but just as tough.

Riding Schwinns was High Mass
in the summer after high school
before everyone would join the Army
or wait to be drafted.
Maybe one or two of us
had sober fathers working
and we would go to college.
I was one of those.
Going to college was something
I was told I'd do from third grade on.
So do the homework, my father said,
or he'd wash up and visit the nuns.

Korea ended not too long before.
Two guys ahead of us
would never ride a Schwinn again
or go to college on the GI Bill.
One guy did come back.
For years he walked in circles
around his family's back yard
smoking real Pall Malls,
unimpaired by filters, very long.
Butch was shell-shocked,
neighbors said.
We'd have to pray for him.
They didn't call it PTSD back then.


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

Even In My Dreams

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Contributor: Rhonda Johnson-Saunders

- -
But chances are I may never dance on mountaintops, even in my dreams.
In dead of night, I wonder if the sun will rise again even in my dreams.

A long-ago love note slipped under my desk, answered now or never.
Oh, how tragic! A young heart never mended, even in my dreams.

Two pennies rubbed in your able hands could once save the world.
Two palms full of ashes scattered, I remember when even in my dreams.

Glossy smiles and paisley dresses frolic between my paper pages.
Voices from past days forget to call. I feel them often, even in my dreams.

Senility of age never fools the mourner. Winter clouds still feel gray.
Sad songs drift from open windows, taunting the trees, even in my dreams.

Forty years of fires and floods have come and gone, and still I run.
No shame in getting sidetracked by a poet's pen or chasing you again -
even in my dreams.


- - -
Rhonda Johnson-Saunders is a lifetime lover of reading and writing poetry. She enjoys writing all types of poetry, especially free verse and haiku and has been published in The Heron's Nest. When not writing, Rhonda enjoys music, genealogy, travel and best of all, being a mom to her two young sons.

Mike Gosses

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Contributor: Mike Gosses

- -
Enough with the constant pacing and tapping of your fingers,
the late nights spent in the company of blank screens and bloodshot eyes,
the endless futile formulations,
enough shouting at me with reeking breath,
love, just write.

I’m tired of being your maid,
cleaning up as you doze on your desk,
filing away the same scribbled pages each day,
only to hear about how tough you have it,
please, just write.

Another bottle down,
this time left to rot in whatever pile of success you've got,
left along with all your letters addressed to me,
written in red and left at the bottom of every bottle,
just write.

I wish I could feel sorry for you,
as you light a match and drop it in the trash,
incinerating every promising idea you once had,
but I’ve long since abandoned my keys on your bed,
why won’t you just write?


- - -

Winter Tarry

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Contributor: Theresa A. Cancro

- -
Winter peers around the corner,
her white-tooth smile,
icy but tame,
wisps among trees.

Skeletal branches
finger her gray cloak,
caress the muff clouds,
tempt a long sojourn.

Firefly snowflakes
escape her grasp,
flitter and glint,
impish and sass.

Back to her sense,
true nature takes hold –
she moves along,
ever north.


- - -
Theresa A. Cancro writes poetry, especially haiku and related short forms, as well as short fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared worldwide in dozens of publications.

The Bell

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Contributor: Kyle Shafer

- -
I sit at my desk
slumped
a soldier
buried deep in a trench
waiting out his final days on the front line.

I am a patient
lingering faintly in his bed
surrounded by sickly peers
deathly sounds
ready to move on to a distant place.

Doodles occupy my book page after page
an obituary burdened with murdered thoughts.

The clock beats echo
inside my skull
like water droplets
hammering down on my forehead

the torture is ended finally
one last, deafening hammer liberates me.


- - -
Kyle Shafer is a junior at Pompton Lakes High School. He is excited about sharing his poetry with the rest of the world.

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