Clearing Rusty Pipes

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Contributor: Michael Kagan

- -
They say you've come of age
when you suddenly notice
old people coughing
clearing rusty pipes

there's a chill when placed
full mirror with an old craggy face
recalling velvet skin holding tight
to exquisite bones

giving in after long faught wars
throughout the middle ages
jowls have settled into a new display case one floor down, you can barely read the faded date
under best before

but in truth beauty grows stronger
without all that tension
the miracle of time relaxes expression
love waiting between lines and furrows with a million stories
that never forget a sweet kiss,
the things you do with vigor waning
I ponder
how many mistakes are you allowed to make.

- - -
Mike is jazz musician, discovered his passion for poetry a few years back...
he's been published on Leaves of Ink, Indiana voice journal The poet Community...etc

Let us accept this pain

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Contributor: Robert Ronnow

- -
Let us accept this pain
and some fear
it will heighten autumn colours
crack of clean air
black crows in blue sky

Rather than fight pain, falling
asleep in front of tv,
understand the full
import of its situation
in the body. Blessed
once, cursed now
only fear prevents
full knowledge of experience.

The gray sky brings
winter, no blame.
The poet writes a few last poems
or continues to live with his pain.
In itself pain does not oppose
life, and may enhance it
or build character, create
wisdom. But too much fear
chokes the throat and burns
the eyes. It
destroys the last free
assessment of life.

* * *

Now I am going to live in my body
as it is, almost fearlessly
running in pain, working
to abandon immortality
as a hope, conceiving
sunset after sunset
feeling what I feel.

On the streets I meet
many beautiful young women
curious to a certain extent
what makes a man older.
I can only say ten years
and the hand that reaches through
the cloud. I can say
only the knowledge of mortality
which makes us brothers and sisters
with the animals. And only
the acceptance which gives us wisdom
to couple often and lovingly.

How am I going to live every day
as my last, hoping happiness
outgrows fear by an ounce
or enough? By running, writing
and loving. By moving uphill
and downhill like a bear.
By committing my last words
to a powerful lord. How
do the clouds accept my dead
self? A rock thrown, a crow.

* * *

When I am old
young girls will not be frightened anymore.
I will invite them
to my seat and tell
about the women I knew.
I will tell about
the clothes they wore
and how they earned a living.
I will try to remember
what was important to them
and if they had a favorite color
or knew how to divine.

Maybe I live and maybe I don’t.
The smoke is white or black.
The winds are bright or dark.
The coins are heads or tails.
What have I been afraid of?
Death is most of all like sleep.
We spend so long apart
after briefly knowing ourselves.
I need you to know myself
and without you all I know
is sun.

- - -
Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at

Summer Visit

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Contributor: Ananya S Guha

- -
The wind yours or mine
belittling a savagery
a cloudburst, will the storm
come, drying up the cells
ticking in my brain
a storm, a storm
a pause, as thick clouds swivel
into a graying world
the two dogs are silent
the tap water falls stealthily
it is night in day, colors blanch
the roof top of hills, mine is
simply a summer's visit
into these hills of thralldom.

- - -

Strong Together

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Contributor: Tyrean Martinson

- -
body, heart, mind, soul
all are sickened by pain
so I cannot stand
when I call the physician
who does not believe
when I suck in the pain

I call and call him
and I get no answer
so I call a new doctor
then another and another
until I get tests
and find more than one answer

three issues wrong in my body
or possibly there are five
I start to lost count of them
in my buzzing hive
of emotions, spirit, mind
all wrapped in a dive

spiraling from life into
death downward
until I find the right path
to walk forward
through surgeries, hugs,
fervent prayers poured

into my body to
reawaken my heart
to renew my mind
to create soul art
out of stained glass
strong together, not apart

- - -
Tyrean Martinson writes, dreams, and believes in the Pacific Northwest within a mile of the Puget Sound, which laps invisible to her view along the green-treed shore. She has had over 100 previously published short works and a scattering of books published.

Another Spring

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
I heard from Harold
this morning, someone
older than I am, the two of us
in winter staring at another spring

someone I haven’t seen in 50 years,
side by side in cubicles again
making plans for lives
that might have been

waiting for the quitting bell
to say it’s 5 o’clock, time
to dunk our time cards,
hop the trolley and go home.

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

The Best Days are Beach Days

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Contributor: Lily Trouse

- -
I roll down the car window and inhale
the salty air mixed with boat diesel
stones crunch under the car’s tires
and the screeching of seagulls welcome me
home, washed of my troubles by the tide

The beach’s blistering sand welcomes my bare feet
sunscreen and tanning oil become my second skin
the tanner I get, the happier I am

Paddle ball becomes an Olympic sport
we sprint and dive like seagulls
going after a sandwich crust
no one wants to ruin the volley

I’m coated in sand
but I don’t mind
I savor every minute of sunlight, every drop
of melting ice cream

- - -
I am a high school student in Pompton Lakes New Jersey, and am hoping to get my poetry out into the world.


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Contributor: Jane Blanchard

- -
Tests indicate your body needs
a little extra zapping:
The specialists go right to work
on necessary mapping.

We soon turn our attention to
some spatial calculations:
Rochester’s maze of subway and
skywalk configurations.

- - -
Jane Blanchard lives and writes in Georgia. Her first collection, Unloosed, and her second, Tides & Currents, are both available from Kelsay Books.

2:37 A.M.

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Contributor: Austin Davis

- -
You discover
the cruelest stillness,
both gentle and maddening,

when the fluttering
hummingbird wings of love
settle on a raindrop.

The foamy waves
clawing at the ivory shore
slip into a salty sleep

and every waving tree
takes a deep breath
and holds it. The moon

trades in her lazy chair
for a barstool
and the butterflies
in your stomach

fly out your mouth
as you realize
why the whole world
is giving you that look.

- - -
Austin Davis' poetry has been published widely in literary journals and magazines. Most recently, his work can be found in Pif Magazine, Folded Word, The Poetry Shed, In Between Hangovers and Spillwords. Austin's poetry is forthcoming from Ink in Thirds, Your One Phone Call, and Street Lights Press and his first full length collection, "Cloudy Days, Still Nights" is being released this spring by Moran Press.

Jet, cracked paint, tea

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Contributor: Robert Ronnow

- -
The clouds take a little blue from the sky
beyond, how beautiful the weather makes life
seem. The sky is where the soul goes when
the mind runs out of destinations. We love
the mountains because that’s where the earth
meets the sky. If you just watch the sky
an hour each day, lie back in the grass,
you’ll never be ill. When it rains your face
becomes a holy bowl. Once I was a beggar, no
cares, by railroad tracks. They too disappeared
into the sky. A small town you could hold in your fist
on the prairie. A big city easy to hold in your mind
when you’re in the sky. The clouds take a little blue
from the sky. The sky takes a little blue from your soul . . .

- - -
Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New and Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). Visit his web site at


| Filed under

Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
The forest of childhood
offered many games.
Chewing the bark off
of trees, pretending to be
wild and free.
Pretending I was part
of the foliage.
Knowing that one day
words like debt would
close in.
There was no perfect
camouflage for this.
I wrapped tomato twine
around the trees to
construct a fort only
I could see.
Always thinking adulthood
would come and wrap
me away, how was I to know
the trick is your own feet
wind up chasing the ways
of grown persons?

- - -

Evening Jewel

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
In the evening
He sat behind the house,
And watched the shadows grow,
And as the sun was setting,
And time was slipping by,
His mind was loosed and roaming,
He pondered many things,
In his ears were songs
Of birds,
Their singing filled the air,
And so he sat there listening,
As questions filled his mind,
He wondered about many things
He always wished to know...
He sat there till a star appeared
High in the southern sky,
He found beauty in the moment,
That could not be described,
And all his questions vanished,
Replaced by peace of mind.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke writes poetry in Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their dog and cat. He finds in nature beauty, inspiration, and revelation.

Dyslexia, My old Friend

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Contributor: Michael Kagan

- -
What would I be without you
I'm writing
Dear Agnes,
no one knows me better
no one else I could trust,
It seems they've discovered
a cure for dyslexia at this late date
an odd shaped bone that others don't own
forcibly moved to the curb
marked hazardous waste.

Then will I see as do others
thin postcards of life,
they tell me words stay calm
long enough to sound them out,
will I miss making up wild stories
original moments that made you laugh,
will I ever see the sun again,
the way I do
inside the fires of an ancient dance

And I wonder Dear Agnes
if a shooting star will still thrill me
like a mystical message
racing through time
and you know distance
cannot touch my love for you
apple cheeked fresh as powdered snow,
so I ask,
at this stage dear Agnes
would you choose normal
or remain a dyslexic rocket
flying upside down.

- - -
Mike is jazz musician, discovered his passion for poetry a few years back..
he's been published on Leaves of Ink, Indiana voice journal The poet Community...etc

A Storm is Coming

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Contributor: J.K.Durick

- -
A storm is coming, they say
been predicting, talking about it
for over a week, setting the stage
showing us maps of its approach
various colors to show the varying
severity of things to come, to come
to us, unprecedented they say and
point, our homes, our lives in the way.
A storm is coming, they say, as if
we didn’t know, as if we weren’t
spending our time anticipating its
arrival, as if we weren’t always
ready for the next thing thrown
at us by the five mad gods who rule
our lives, cruelly bouncing us on
on their scrawny knees, like today
they say a storm is coming, they say
unprecedented, and yet the precedent
is set, has been set, and this god damn
storm is always coming, is always here.

- - -
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, Poetry Superhighway, Synchronized Chaos, and Algebra of Owls.

Profit and Loss

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Either way, the gist is
profits for some,
losses for others

but what a difference
the Pill has made
in the lives of women

and what a difference
the new Pill will make
in the lives of men.

The new Pill will mean
profits for those making
pills and losses for

those making diapers
as people decide
more is less.

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


| Filed under

Contributor: John MacKinnon

- -
Oh listen my children
To the song of the wind
Where unfettering truth
Lies born from within

A mountain for one man
A dream for another
A fountain found flowing
As long love from a mother

Believe in the trees
They have seen all the lies
Conceive their ideals
As they reach for their skies

And finally realize
This moment you’ve known
Was too born on the wind
As all that has grown

- - -

Even After Death

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Contributor: Zachary Alba

- -
Grief filled the void in my heart
as I was the last person in line.

With each step I took, a tear added to
the river flowing down my cheek.

As I reached the casket, I stopped
to stare at my late mother’s corpse.

At that moment I felt it all:
sorrow, regret, anger, denial.

I leaned over to where we
could meet face to face.

My tears slowly trickled onto her cheeks
as I gave her one last kiss on the forehead.

As I carefully leaned back,
I couldn’t help but let out a snicker.

I’ve never been able to control my anxiety,
but that didn’t stop my mother.

She was always adamant that laughter
was the cure for all sorrow.

So that’s just what I did as my laughter
resounded throughout the hallways

As one final tear
kissed her face.

- - -
Zachary Alba believes that a bright, sunny morning is the appropriate way for the day to begin. The perfect weather allows him to go outside and walk his dog, while exploring for new places and experiences that are right at his fingertips. When it is cold and gloomy outside, he opts to wear an oversized sweater, while continuing his exploration through the confines of his home.

Ancient Soul

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Contributor: Bhavani Rao Rangineni

- -
Beauty in beauty , believer in belief
appreciating the whole world through ancient eyes
like a sunburst clock
bringing sunshine at every tick
like an enchantress
spreading vintage spells
like a french wine
the older the better
like a roman candle
illuminating the illusions
like a vintage bloom
blossoming to be in blossom
like a danish credenza
too old to be modern.

- - -
I am an avid learner who likes to connect dots.


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Contributor: Erin S

- -
It was so
She couldn’t
I’d spoken to her
Over half full mimosas
That were mostly champagne
Laughed That deep
Hearty laugh of hers
I wonder if
She knew

My nails stabbed holes
Into the soft flesh
Of my palms
I screamed
Until my throat
Was raw and
I tasted
How dare she
Leave me alone

I hadn’t prayed
Since I was ten
But I fell
To my knees
Clasped my hands
Bring her
To me
I’ll do
I’ll go to church
I’ll recycle
If you just
Bring her

I was
Into nothing
The sheets she’d bought me
When I rented my first apartment
Were wrinkled and unwashed
The sunflower she insisted
‘brighten’ things up
Was brown
I felt
I was
Without her

I got used
To half empty mimosa glasses
Saturday afternoon brunches
Without her laughter
S p r e a d
Her ashes
In the lake
We used to visit
When I was young
She would look out at the water
With such envy
She always said she belonged
In the water
I never understood
What that meant
Until now
I looked out at that same lake
With that same envy
And took
A breath

- - -
Erin is a Literature major at Ramapo College. She loves to write.

Conference on Homeland Security

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
I can’t speak for the women
attending this conference
on Homeland Security.

They’re scholars, too,
brought here for their expertise.
Perhaps I can speak for the men

sitting in these rows with iPads
first session of the morning,
staring straight ahead at

two breasts above the podium,
two heat-seeking missiles
restrained by a suit coat

but programmed to fire
and wipe out ISIS, Al Quaida
and Boko Haram.

These men won’t duck for cover.
They are patriots forever
ready to die for the cause.

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

You Were

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
You were the answer
I found at a tender age.

All ages are tender
in their way.

Captured in the wind-
bent tree, unbroken, a metaphor
for your arms reaching.

I had to learn a new language,
a brand-new culture, yet another
place to fit and not quite form.

Maybe now I know your voice,
the trace of your finger on a
movement of storm clouds.

I’m learning these moments
are forgotten sooner than anything
can be remembered.

There is always something.

- - -


| Filed under

Contributor: J.K.Durick

- -
was something, sometime, somewhere
I remember we had a word for it
made sentences of it, subject, verb, object
we had a song some of us would sing
to celebrate it, we wore it, swore by it
considered setting aside differences
so it could center us, comfort us always
always there, something to be proud of
some of us clung to it, but it began to fade
we knew as it blurred a bit, then strained
then pained, we knew what was coming
pretended not, even fought, sought, but
got this, this nothing, that was something
sometime, somewhere.

- - -
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, Poetry Superhighway, Synchronized Chaos, and Algebra of Owls.


| Filed under

Contributor: Carrie Ip

- -
I wish I knew what to expect,
From who I loved.
There wasn’t anything I could do
To help them see how important they were to me.
I wanted to show them a sense of affection,
Something that would reveal my gratitude.

Love is a strong word.
Love can make you feel alive,
Or slowly start killing you on the inside.
Sometimes love is good,
But at times it can be bad.

Love is more difficult than it may seem.
It can show your heart the world,
Or it can tear your life apart.

- - -
Carrie Ip likes being wrapped up in blankets and sleeping for as long as she can. She may be small, but she can eat more than you think. She also likes ice skating because she’s taller in ice skates.

Tragedy. Ecstasy. Doom.

| Filed under

Contributor: John Sweet

- -

-a triptych in ten fragments


no ghosts

some days you
forget this but
on others

on others you
do just fine

you show mercy

you bleed

not a lot but
enough to
let you know
you’re alive

enough to keep the
glass half-full


no ghosts and
no apologies

live w/ fear and
and live w/ despair

the past is there to
be dissected but
good luck trying to
put it back to
gether again

good luck trying
to sustain the
joy you felt during
that last summer
before the flood

we’ve made it to
the dark ages now



no ghosts

empty streets like rivers of
dust flowing between
dull white houses and
do you need proof that
all silence is meaningless?

do you begin to doubt god
when so many children
are starving
are raped
are butchered by ignorant,
gutless cowards
drunk on power?



no ghosts

no objects without

late afternoon
early evening and the
moment for redemption
and then it passes

sound of a church bell
ringing in the distance

sound of nothing
making a sound

if i were sorry
it’s here i
would choose to tell you


no ghosts in
empty evening fields,
just the shadows of trees
200 feet long

single cloud in a
blue sky and
the children playing games

strangers crouching down
in the tall grass
out past the village

siren songs and knives out
and no one ever believes
how the story ends until
it’s too late

no one ever
wants to hear it again


and ghosts,
of course

everywhere and
no matter how often we
deny it, and the clock at
six minutes to three

the train always
leaving in the distance

your life always

keep telling me i’m wrong
but i know you like
i know myself

we hold a broken window
between us and
call it a mirror

we get so fucking high
on this pure, glittering
rush of self-hatred


no ghosts

no sunlight w/out

learned this from
de chirico
back before he found god

learned it from tanguy
and then kay went and
put a bullet
through her heart

went and bled out all
of the joy i’d been
trying to lay down
on paper


sits up in bed
and smiles

arms wide open
says no ghosts

looks past me and
out to the future


say it quietly say
no ghosts

to the wall or to
yourself and
then learn

the only good god is the
one who never needs to be
invented and so you wash your
hands in the river of filth and
then pick up your young
est child

i scream against the
darkness of empty rooms to
see if anyone answers

it’s a long way down
from here for
all of us


and then finally
late afternoon, no
ghosts, only shadows

early evening and
the slow spread of despair

cracked and
potholed parking lots

pools of rusty water

abandoned factories here
in the golden age of nothing and
whoever calls them home

pretty words for
meaningless deaths

wars and genocides and failed
revolutions to ensure that
none of the children live to
become adults and then
late afternoon and then
early evening but
no ghosts

no shadows

only corpses

- - -

When Silence Speaks

| Filed under

Contributor: Kristina Jacobs

- -
Tell me
tomorrow will be worth it,
even if I can’t see where all this leads
or where it all ends

Tell me
I mattered,
even if I have my doubts

Tell me
somebody cared,
even if evidence says 1 in 7 billion
just slipped through the cracks

Tell me
I was never really alone,
even if I shut you out

Tell me
help will always be given,
if only I ask
for grace to bridge the gap

Even when the universe
was silent,
I believed

- - -
Kristina Jacobs lives in Minnesota. Her latest poetry chapbooks are: Dept. 56 and Drawn by Grace.

Last Day

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Contributor: Linda Imbler

- -
We got up so early with so much to do.
We made plans throughout the day,
separate events that would happen,
where our paths would not cross
and would keep us further apart.

We sent each other messages to voice
rather than answering the phone.
We chose not to meet for lunch
because we both wanted different foods that day.

We promised ourselves
to tell the other those loving words.
We bought each other a gift
but gave not of our time.

We chose to spend one precious hour
that evening in a heated debate
whose outcome neither could control.

Only one of us rose the next morning.

- - -
Linda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collections “Big Questions, Little Sleep” and “Lost and Found.” She is a Kansas-based Pushcart Prize Nominee and her work has appeared in numerous national and international journals. Linda’s creative process and a listing of publications can be found at

Between Death

| Filed under

Contributor: Marie Chu

- -
I started to feel faint
and stumbled to the floor
But before I did I hit the door
I sat in my blood
as my life flashed before my eyes
and looked up to see
the robbers on the fly

With my remaining strength I fired
That one was for my mother
This one is for my brother
who both laid dead next to me
because of those robbers

I was ready for some relief
to die blissfully
but knowing my luck
other plans were in store for me

Some might say
I was saved
but they’re not the ones
lying in hospital beds
slowly rotting away

- - -
Marie Chu has always been fascinated by the field of STEM. When she is not busy crafting helicopters out of balsa wood and designing experiments, she indulges in a good movie. Of course she’ll be wrapped in blankets and surrounded by snacks while watching it.


| Filed under

Contributor: Sarah Henry

- -
My computer tutor
brings up
the scientific calculator
on his screen.
For the rest of the lesson,
I wonder why
he doesn’t have
a different job,
why we are always
alone on the top
floor of his quiet,
empty house at night.
There are no clocks
on the walls.
The blinds are pulled.
He says he’s retiring
so he can invent things
he can’t explain
and I’ll have to find
a new tutor,
perhaps through
want ads or schools.
Places where
the light of day

My tutor may have
been an extrovert
once. He might
laugh at desert
island cartoons
on the internet.
They wash
to his online shore.

- - -
Sarah Henry studied with two U.S. poet laureates at the University of Virginia. Today she lives near Pittsburgh, where her poetry has appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Poetry Review. Sarah's work was also included in Leaves of Ink, Soundings East and The Hollins Critic, among many journals.

The Quilters

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
They’re widows,
old and gray, bent over
a quilting frame, sewing
to meet a deadline

for the next raffle
talking and sewing in
grand memories
of husbands

dead for years
remembered daily
missed deeply
loved forever by

six quilters, all
cheerleaders waiting
to leap when their men
walk through the door.

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


| Filed under

Contributor: Sana Tamreen Mohammmed

- -
Man on a balcony
his arm on the bronze railing
extends toward a faceless building
in the neighborhood.

Low sound of the street
mixes into the zigzag pattern
of his right pocket.

Legs crossed on the floor
facing the insides of his room
he retires too early that day.

- - -
Published across the world and co-authored Kleptomaniac's Book Of Unoriginal Poems (BRP, Australia).

No Longer

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
If the earth should vanish
And our sun no longer shines,
And the money that meant so much is gone,
No more to be desired,
And no flag is there to rally round,
All causes gone away...
No murderer to murder,
Nothing left to steal,
No one left to hurt,
No one left to kill.
No more can evil find its footing,
When it has nowhere to stand,
No longer are there borders,
No longer any land.
No longer are there leaders,
No one left to lead.
No longer does the blood cry out,
No one left to bleed.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke is an unknown poet who writes poetry in Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their dog and cat.

Hose Washed

| Filed under

Contributor: Jasmine Som

- -
I stand before my garden
With a hose in my hand
Watering my berry bush

I listen as
Birds chirp, hummingbirds hum
Like an orchestra warming up

And I turned around
Watering you as well
I am sorry

But I washed your jeans
Creating a new design
Drying beneath the hot sun

- - -
As a paleo-vegan, Jasmine Som loves dehydrating fruits to take with her when she hikes. While others stalk celebrities, she looks up new recipes to get creative with. Sadly, cooking with her heavy cast iron pots has her taking on a new workout routine that includes a weight lifting regimen.

Elegies in Sepia

| Filed under

Contributor: Joungbihn Park

- -
I’m lying on autumn grass thinning
leaves, dry and dead,
looking at the white clouds dragged west,
dissipating, traceless.

I walked past plains on the sides of asphalt roads
and the sand path covered in petals of dust.

The mirage of a lone mansion sinking in darkness,
something we didn’t question.

You hold your phone and take pictures of me.
Sepia tone effect
Vintage, worn
Black and white
Look at the photos now.

- - -
Joungbihn Park is a high school senior studying at International School Manila, located in the Philippines. Her work has been awarded by the Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at Johns Hopkins University and published in the Imagine Magazine. She has also been recognized by the Scholastic Arts & Writing Awards for her writings and has attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, where she contributed to their anthology.

Mrs. O’Malley

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Mrs. O’Malley
from across the alley
has another small job
for my father to do
which makes my mother

unhappy because
Mrs. O’Malley’s been
bothering Father for years,
parading around in shorts
and halter top, watering

flowers in her yard
when Father goes out
to cut the grass and weed.
Neighbor ladies have
warned my mother

about Mrs. O’Malley
from across the alley
because too many husbands
have too often helped
Mrs. O’Malley too well.

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

Morning at Soul Sisters Retreat

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Contributor: Ingrid Bruck

- -
Stella Maris
the ocean, my office
peace, my work

rain whistles
shakes the window
surf sounds inside

comes and goes
in haze

I expect nothing
sun breaks day

out of clouds
volcano explodes
horizon fades pink

(Soul Sisters Retreat, October 13-18, 2015, at Stella Maris Retreat House, Long Branch, NJ)

- - -
Ingrid Bruck lives in Pennsylvania Amish country, a landscape that inhabits her writing. A retired library director, she writes short forms and poetry. Current work appears in Unbroken Journal, Eunoia, Peacock Journal, W.I.S.H and Entropy.

Giving Respect

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Contributor: Vraj Patel

- -
I try to fit in
No matter how hard it may be
The people that surround me
Are those that hate me and love me

But I am also human
I do my best to understand
How I want to be treated
And how others want to be treated

Everyone should be given
The chance to be heard
From those who oppose
And from the people that love them

We are not robots
But people who aren’t perfect
We make mistakes
Ones we don’t want to make

We need to respect each other
To not make fun of each other
To be a part of society
And to be heard

- - -

Watching the Flow

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
Sitting on the bank of the river,
Watching the water go by,
A road of raindrops before me,
That fell on the earth long ago,
Giving water to all
Who lived in those days,
Long before you and I,
Gathered by sun,
Carried by clouds,
Loosed on the earth,
And finding its way to the sea,
I watch as the past and future,
Slowly flows by me.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke writes poetry in Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their cat and dog. He enjoys observing nature, where he finds beauty, inspiration, and revelation.


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Contributor: Steven Jakobi

- -
He lived in a shack, an old travel trailer
he built up with scrap wood and siding
and shingles discarded by others.

His rusted old truck always broke.
Then he would get another. A Ford.
Always a Ford - red or blue or green,
sometimes one with all three colors.

He was a tiny man in old grimy clothes,
Wore a greasy cowboy hat that just about
made him disappear under the frayed brim.
But his dog, always groomed,
ran with a bright red collar.

He was my neighbor. A "Good Egg" who
cut my grass and fed the cat when I was away.
For ten years I knew him.
Over a beer, he would talk about
hunting and horses and life.

I moved away. Said "goodbye" and
"see ya sometime."
Always meant to.
Always too busy.

I drove by his place the other day.
His shack, the truck
and dog were gone.
As though he never lived there.

I regret never going back
while I could. Just another
missed opportunity in life.
Another "Good Egg," Gone.

- - -
Steven Jakobi is a retired biology professor. He and his wife live in rural Allegany County, New York, with three dogs, two cats and a mess of chickens.

Wake Up Fools

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Contributor: EG Ted Davis

- -
Finely manicured landscaping,
strongly constructed Victorian style
home sits atop rich soil,
and you think you own it.
Fools! (wake up).
It belongs to the earth,
and she'll do with your
possessions as she
damn well pleases.
Torment you as it may,
these are only your's-
on borrowed time.

- - -
Old time poet who has returned from a hefty 25 year plus hiatus. My work has recently appeared in Gold Dust (UK) Poydras Review, Scarlet Leaf Review and The Penwood Review, along with various online websites.


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Contributor: Rajnish Mishra

- -
How can I ever return to my city now? I’ll need a time back,
and me back from that time. I’ll need them back too, men and women,

children and plants, and a cow, yes the cow that would come
to the door for me to rub its back, then leave, every day.

That time and place, this time and place, complete my city of the old.
Too many deaths in twenty three days have hit me hard,

kept me shaken for minutes at length. Death
is not to be trifled with, and flash: images

of a street, they sell fish and vegetables for some length
on it and then there’s a bend, the end of the street,

and then I return. Early this morning an aunt passed away,
yes, that’s what we called her. We’d been neighbors

my whole life and that of our families for as long
as we have lived in our houses. I am far removed in place,

in grief too. Or else, how do I explain my not rushing
back where I’m needed? I have changed. I have come a long way

from my home, from myself. I think I understand
Tithonus’ wish a little. It becomes difficult to live

once all have gone, and those around are not your people,
the time and place also not yours. Then a shadow walks,

a ghost in a shell, and waits for

- - -
Rajnish Mishra is a poet, writer, translator and blogger born and brought up in Varanasi, India and now in exile from his city. His work originates at the point of intersection between his psyche and his city. His work has now started appearing in journals and websites.


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Contributor: Todd Mercer

- -
Some days you succeed at the task, split the stone open.
Other times you stall out because you stayed up
over-late and didn’t favor choices that make
the body beautiful. Suspense surrounds attempts
of those who’ve halved it before but choked since,
like that iconic skier tumbling the length of the Seventies
on that sports show intro. The Agony of Defeat guy
could still kick ass in a bar fight, but the mercy rule
suggests we let him be by now. The sword is certain,
but the spirit needs caffeine. If one split the stone
in ‘86, ’95 and 2010, must one cleave it each try
to stay a slight hero? Survey says: Yes.
Fair is what would be if your mother ran the planet.
She has no pull here, zero. Certain mornings
you wake up foolproof and divide the stone.
So far no one can manage it every blessed day.

- - -
TODD MERCER won the Grand Rapids Festival Flash Fiction Award. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in 100 Word Story, Literary Orphans and Praxis.

Inside My Cube

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Contributor: Jun Lit

- -
Inside my cubic sanctuary,
metered four by three by three
alone is not equal to lonely.

Silence is a deafening music
to which I dance with muted speak
scribbled on the monitor of this phone petite
the one which plays my concert pieces
accompanied by cooling blows of the aircon unit

Within my mind, I think of nothing
Not a slight voltage of worrying
Yet rivers of images keep flowing
some familiar, some quite puzzling.
The dams of slumber are all collapsing.

Within this ‘Invictus’ heart’s galleries,
The messy series of documentaries
rolls, a non-stop soap, a marathon of movies.
I am the privileged viewer
of incoherent video clips, where
I am the major performer
The director inside me, forever
in this reality show, always a newcomer,
trial and error, action here, cut there
Mother Nature is the producer
Chance and some talent, the sponsor, the manager.

Inside my cubic sanctuary,
reminiscing makes me happy,
I know that my Love loves me
and yes, alone is not equal to lonely.

- - -
Jun Lit (Ireneo L. Lit, Jr.) teaches biology and studies insects at the University of the Philippines Los Baños and writes poems about nature and society.


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Contributor: Michael H. Brownstein

- -
You go away an albino garden snake
and come home the color of gecko.
The air smell, the lake of legs,
this ether of vocabulary—
what is familiar in darkness different somehow,
even the familiar pattern of blemish and scar.
Tonight lightning comes without thunder,
tomorrow an almost blue sky
full of mountain’s breath, heat,
soiled chom chom, vendors of the motor bikes,
a click of guitar accompanied by insect and frog,
and one dark cloud melting until it too
blemishes the almost blue sky,
the almost always blue sky, even at night,
not blue black, but almost blue black,
the moon an icicle folding into shadow and sweat.
When the wind lifts the flower
of mang cou and braids the bamboo,
there is something you must learn to do,
the dust of day an imprint
on all of the clothes you wear.

- - -
Michael H. Brownstein has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and The Possibility of Sky and Hell (White Knuckle Press, 2013).

Snake Charmer

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
After 50 years Wilma
at her class reunion thinks
Waldo’s changed with age

that he’s nice now, not
the snake she wed
right after high school

and quietly divorced.
Both are widowed now
and Wilma looks lovely.

Tonight she has Waldo
swaying to the rhythm
of her voice but Wilma

needs to know a cobra
coiled in its basket can
wait to nip its charmer.

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


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Contributor: Barbara Carlton

- -
Even when the rooms are empty, they echo
with watercolors of muted voices, edges blurred,
from the decades when their walls breathed in the tints
and textures of the lives they sheltered. They knew
her yearning for the clear air
of the mountainside; his long look
out the window before he left
for the last time; my quest
with the girl who has no name to
the castle that lies east of the sun
and west of the moon. Hush, sweetheart,
put your ear close, you can
hear the walls thinking, like a stream
that rustles through the woods at night.
is a clean shape left behind where the little
landscape used to hang. So often she looked
through its painted surface and wondered
where the time had gone.

- - -
I am a writer and architect living in the San Diego, California, area. My parents are long dead and my children are grown. It's a good vantage point for thinking.


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Contributor: Jasmine Som

- -
Skate atop the creek
As the aurora enchants
Gaze up to the stars

Crows caw and fog creeps
Yet the pale moon gleams so bright
Scarecrows stand alone

Up above, bees buzzed
Sweet aroma of honey
Pleasant to the thought

Red flushed cheeks, tanned skin
Taste the saltiness in the air
Enjoy golden rays

She is beautiful
Since birth she gave all she could
With a kindred soul

Centuries of life
With its shell as strong as rock
Slowly crawls to me

- - -
As a paleo-vegan, Jasmine Som loves dehydrating fruits to take with her when she hikes. While others stalk celebrities, she looks up new recipes to get creative with. Sadly, cooking with her heavy cast iron pots has her taking on a new workout routine that includes a weight lifting regimen.

Under the Moon

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
What were your thoughts
When you saw the moon,
Low and red in the sky?
Did its beauty seduce you,
Were you under its spell,
Or did you think it
Just a rock in the sky?
As it lost its red hue
And grew pale,
Did it seem to shrink
As it climbed?
So many souls,
All throughout time,
Have watched as it passed
Through the night.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke is an unknown poet who writes poetry in Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their dog and cat.

A Low Voice and a Nice Walk

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Gramps by the fire
in his rocker hunched over
is rolling his smoke with care

when Tom, his grandson, asks,
“What’s the most important thing
to look for in a wife?”

Gramps stares into the fire intently
then finally says, “You want a wife
with a low voice and a nice walk,

a low voice because later in life
your ears give out but her odd jobs
become more numerous

and a nice walk because you want to
let her go first forever and make
all that extra work worthwhile.”

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

The Forgotten Treasure

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Contributor: Kavitha Yarlagadda

- -
I spread my roots to be strong
I grow tall and big to live long
I grow fruits and flowers to nourish you
Oh let me love, let me live

I give you shelter, I give you a home
I protect you from sun, rain and pollution
You sit, sleep and work on me
Oh let me love, let me live

I am your stationery, your security at home
I give you fresh air, I give you food
I decorate your city with greenery
Oh let me love, let me live

I give you respite from the sweltering heat
I spread the green cover to give you rainfall
I fill all water bodies and quench your thirst
Oh let me love, let me live

- - -
I am a Civil Engineer by profession, apart from my work, I am passionate about reading and writing, a crazy book lover, an aspiring writer and a person who cares about our environment and nature


| Filed under

Contributor: Christina Cruz

- -
The humming of the monitor
pierces my ears.

Suddenly the crowd of physicians vanish
and the room begins to fade
into a black space,
leaving the two of us alone.

As I stand in front of him,
taunted by his stillness,
my mind plays tricks
into making me think
that I see a pulse in his hand,
or a rising motion in his chest.

And the room torments me
with visions of another world.
One where I could still hold his hand.

Tears spill from my face
turning into an ocean.
And I desperately thrash through the
waves trying to reach him.

Completely and utterly isolated.
Everything was swept away,
including him.

- - -
Christina Cruz hates smiling. Instead she prefers staring blankly at people with her heterochromatic eyes. Her work has previously been published in Vox Poetica.

Agnostic in Hospice

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
One by one
each brick falls.
No mason now
can fix the wall.

Here comes
another cannonball.
Nowhere now
for him to go.

A prayer can’t hurt,
he tells himself,
if someone’s
on the other side.

For years his friends
have said that’s so.
What if they’re right?
Too soon he’ll know.

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

Nested Woman

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Contributor: Barbara Carlton

- -
In my drifting state I imagine my children
as they will soon un-layer me. First--this is easy--
they’ll strip off the husk I became at last; hurl away
the bottles of useless pills, cans of pretend food, all such
hated, well-meant insults. But

inside the husk they’ll find the woman they knew, or
thought they did, who drove them to school when
the mountains echoed with birdsong, endured their
sicknesses and the beatings of their tempers, adored
the ashtrays they made for her in fifth grade--although
she hated smoking, cheered their races, and let them go
when it was time. Hers
are the easy touchstones: mixing bowls and
hiking boots and their kindergarten artwork, and
her fifties-green, round-shouldered electric
Smith Corona. And

under these they’ll confront the woman, unlined
and smooth-lipped, about whose life they never
thought to ask, whose face, even, is a stranger
to them. Perhaps I should have told them
where the little painting came from, and why the box
in the drawer, inlaid with mother of pearl,
is empty, and how my mother, who hated sewing,
made for my child-self the quilt I took from her house
when she was dead. Yes,

I think, maybe I should have told; but
then it hardly seemed to matter, and now
the sky is clearing in the mountains
and I am a rain cloud under the sun.

- - -
I am a writer and architect living in the San Diego, California, area. My parents are long dead and my children are grown. It's a good vantage point for thinking.


| Filed under

Contributor: Lynn Nicholas

- -
Crystal structure:
Three dimensions on a lattice
Ordered perfection
Splitting clean on cleavage planes
Refracting and reflecting light

Human Structure:
Double-stranded molecules
Weakness planes
Pressure from external stresses
Darkening and dimming light

Chemical structure:
Reshuffle signals in the brain
Symmetry lost
Darkening matrix of depression
Extinguishing and snuffing light

- - -
Lynn writes out of Tucson, AZ, supervised by two dog friends and a black cat who loves to straddle her keyboard.


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Contributor: Michael H. Brownstein

- -
You told me graveyards are that loud
and you were right. Noise skittles over crab grass
and dandelion greens, over locust stone and devil's claw
thick with spikes and wooden lures bloody for light.
Passageways of water flow beneath them,
and the voices flow with them gray
and waterproofed, overcast and significantly silent.
We are a people of mourners, Hire us. We cry on cue.
like vultures at the edge of the Ethiopian frontier
or elephants leaving their path to caress
the bones of a sister. We can scream like warplanes,
rend our clothing into scars, draw the tattoo of death
exactly as a battle begins. Remember it was us
who rat bombed the islands off Panama in 2001
and it was us who people bombed
the villages of Central Afghanistan.
We are one hundred sixty pounds of manure,
blood, gravel, fog--not enough
to cover all of the newly dead, but enough
to ensure there will never be silence in the graveyard.

- - -
Michael H. Brownstein has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and The Possibility of Sky and Hell (White Knuckle Press, 2013).

Bruce and Lydia

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Contributor: Gordon Lawrie

- -
For someone recently bereaved, who's also a recent contributor to Leaves of Ink.

Who knows how they met?
Across a workplace desk, in a supermarket aisle,
Perhaps at a party, or on the internet,
Or in a crowded room with a quiet smile?
What caused their paths to intertwine
And journey down the crooked road
Together till the end of time?
No matter: the record showed
They overcame each trouble shared
With the strength of a mighty army.
Like wild winter geese paired
They planned their Springtime journey
Northwards home to cooler parts.
They travel now with heavier hearts.

But look! Can't you see them there –
Flying in formation in the skies,
High above in the cold, clear air?
Open your heart, open your eyes,
Up on the freeway they can go anywhere,
Wings beating in time to an open mind
The days will lengthen, the clouds will clear,
And joy and serenity unconfined.

- - -
I'm primarily a fiction writer of all lengths: three novels all the way down to a mountain of 100-word flash fiction. Poetry is only an occasional vice.

Back to Bed

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Contributor: Martina Ysabel Pedrina

- -
It has gone way too long
since my bed has been rested upon.
I can't keep my bed unemployed,
as it is the one that gives me comfort and joy.

Without me, my bed has no purpose.
For I am the one who made the purchase.
At midnight sharp, brain cells regenerate,
which is why I should begin to hibernate.

I could give myself a head start,
as this is an important event that is set apart
from all of my other responsibilities
so please let me sleep in a proper facility.

Sure, you can rest upon a lounging chair,
but when you're in a bed, there is nothing to compare.
I can't just take a nap on a lousy little couch,
because I would wake up and start acting like a grouch.

The only place where I'm truly at peace
and my amount of sleep would finally increase.
It is the only place where I feel relaxed,
as I yearn for the evening when I come back.

- - -
Martina Ysabel Pedrina tries to capture all of the different aspects of her life. Whether it was learning something new or fulfilling long-term goals, she makes sure that she can keep hold of these memories through the art of film. Even if her day wasn't the greatest, she never considers a single moment to be unmemorable.


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Contributor: Tiffany Lee

- -
Scarves wrapped around necks,
Smoke coming out of chimneys,
In the white outside.

Laying on the ground,
My bulldog plays with the ball,
With his paws and mouth.

Thanks for your service,
For being brave and fearless,
This day is for you.

Within the meadow,
The birds chirped and the bees buzzed,
To a melody.

Pumpkins on the ground,
Warm apple cider in mugs,
With ham on the plate.

Under the cool shade,
We sip ice cold lemonade,
To escape the truth.

- - -
Tiffany Lee loves exploring and graphic designing. Every time she looks at a shirt, she’s always wondering how she can make her own design better. When she’s not experimenting with designs on Photoshop, she’s improving her calligraphy and painting with watercolors.


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Contributor: Alex Vuong

- -
Run. That’s all I can do.
I’m trapped in a labyrinth with a monster.
I book it around corners of the maze
Desperately seeking a way out.

I keep running through the maze,
Following twists and turns, never slowing down,
For if I do, it will catch me.
And there is no escape from the monster once it gets a good hold

Then I see it, the light.
Down a dark corridor shines a white light.
It’s almost surreal, it’s so bright it hurts my eyes,
I run for it, the light is so close I can almost feel it.
The warm glow and sweet relief. I step into the light

Everything is quiet for a second.
Then the light dims and I see where I am at,
Still trapped, in my mind.
And depression is still after me.

But the light gave me hope.
Just for a moment, everything was still.
It was like I had actually escaped.
Like I was loose of depression’s hold

So I keep running,
Not knowing how or when I will be free,
But knowing I will get there as long as
I keep chasing the light

- - -
Alex Vuong lives his life out loud and in vibrant color. He loves to put on his headphones and dance through his room. Alex is always looking for opportunities to learn new music and create more art.

What Was Warm

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Contributor: Annie Lin

- -
The shower doors are fogged
from the water’s steam
I basked in
the soapy rose aroma

My skin was red as a tomato
Pruned from the water
As I left
its warm confines

I’m sorry I’ve taken so long
I know there’s no
hot water left now
But I couldn’t resist the comfort

- - -
Ever since she was young, Annie Lin has been doing all kinds of outdoors activities, including hiking and biking. Drawn to the atmosphere of nature, she keeps busy with figuring out the animal shapes of clouds and learning more about cultures beyond the city life. She is frequently out in the sun, often finding herself to come home with an awful tan.

Her Pine Valley Landscape

| Filed under

Contributor: Barbara Carlton

- -
(Alfred Mitchell, c. 1940)

In the diaspora of her treasures, to me drifts
a tiny painting, very old, backcountry colors
in dots and swirls and sweeps: a scattered village
in a montane valley dozing
on a winter afternoon of green hills
under a snow-laced ridge
and pale sky; an hour trapped,
like a seed in amber. Stories--
hers, the painter’s, mine--braid together
in its silver-gilded frame like colored threads
humming in the wind that knot together
for a moment, before they blow away.

The painter is long since gone. My story
I know. Hers--how this came to her
and why--only teases me in some
nearly-remembered tongue; the words blow
past my ear like a light wind through
a valley on a winter afternoon
and disappear. I listen, but the edges
of her face reverberate, and begin to blur.

- - -
I am a writer and architect living in the San Diego, California, area. My parents are long dead and my children are grown. It's a good vantage point for thinking.


| Filed under

Contributor: Stefanie Bennett

- -
I've played down my stock of years
And kept the improvisation:
For myself:

I designed the first heresiarch.

Mother to stone, feathering atmospheres,
My children hung as pendants...
The genetics of all.

I set the showground going.

The Muse had something to do with it.
The torch-swallower. The giantess
Of 'o' - and the gale that followed.

The tongue? It won't cease there.

- - -
Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer and musician, has published several books of poetry, a novel and a libretto, and worked with Arts Action For Peace. Of mixed ancestry
[Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Qld., Australia.


| Filed under

Contributor: Judy Moskowitz

- -
The front line of hell, where silence dwells
through sealed lips
igniting a flame thick as anger
silence hears everything inside its vow
needing to have a voice
whether thin as a whisper or
making noise
silence carries the weight of conscience
when it becomes deaf to cries
inside a slaughter house

- - -
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. Her poem Modigliani was nominated best of the net.

Big Walleye for Emma

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Never a man to dawdle
Gramps got around,
he reminded his Emma,
until gout told his foot
to marry his ottoman.

So he paid for a cab
to visit Doc Morton,
a man he hated to see,
then stayed off his foot
for another two weeks.

Neighbors came over
and Sally next door
brought a big apple pie
and a case of the flu.
Gramps sampled both.

In a matter of days
he developed pneumonia,
went to the hospital,
faded away after
telling his widow-to-be

no reason at all to worry.
He just had a bit of the flu.
Come summer, he’d catch
a mess of big walleye
only his Emma could fry.

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

The Pursuit

| Filed under

Contributor: Alysia Wong

- -
Gone tomorrow and maybe even within minutes,
for she cannot be bought even by the richest.
Can she be received or must she be achieved?
For her name is Happiness and likes to be a tease.

I open my door to welcome her,
but she likes to make me wait.
I can hear her voice singing in my ears,
but she is nowhere to be seen.
I finally surrender and turn off my lights,
she is not coming tonight.

I slowly make my way to my bedroom,
dragging my feet as my head hung low.
I take a final peek out the window,
and see a silhouette waiting for me on the porch.

I rush to the door as my heart pounds.
Illuminated by the moonlight, our eyes lock together.
I welcome Happiness in and reach out for her.
She slips away from my grasp and tells me
to wait one more night.

- - -
Alysia Wong works part-time at her local optometry center. When she is not learning about hyperbolic paraboloids, she is watching vlogs on YouTube. Alysia hopes to one day visit the Eiffel Tower in person, instead of seeing it from her computer screen.

Horehound Candy

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Contributor: Carl "Papa" Palmer

- -
Seeing it on the country store shelf
reminds me of Dad.
Horehound candy, a name snickered
at when I got older,
a flavor not really to my liking,
a root beer licorice cough drop taste,
but still, it was candy
and what kid would turn down candy.

Dad would always buy one stick,
snap it in two, hand me my half and
say, "too much sugar'll spoil supper,
plus a penny a piece is ridiculous."

I don't remember the first or last
time he bought me a stick,
I just remember he always did,
a sort of father son rite of passage
when horehound was on the shelf.

So I ask for one of the candies,
pay the ridiculous price of a quarter
and put half the stick in my mouth.
It tastes just like it did back then,
but I don't remember when it ever
caused a tear to fall from my eye.

- - -
Carl "Papa" Palmer of Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, VA now lives in University Place, WA.
He is retired military, retired FAA and now just plain retired without wristwatch, cell phone alarm clock or Face book friend. Carl, Hospice volunteer and president of The Tacoma Writers Club, is a Pushcart Prize and Micro Award nominee.
MOTTO: Long Weekends Forever

Morning, Orcas

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Contributor: Barbara Carlton

- -
This is the ritual: stand naked
on the bluff before dawn and watch
the night begin to melt at its edge;
watch the hills across the water emerge
as shapes reflected in glass, for no air moves;
watch a band of light spread coral
at the horizon like a breath of grace;

pretend you are the first human standing, on
the first morning, the uses of air and forest, land
and sea still to be discovered: it’s just you
and the earth, all one, and the smells
of cedar and salt water make you want to run,
shout, be still, all at once;

watch the sun breach the ridge and drift
into the sky, where you can’t look at it
any longer; the breeze that rises
with the day swirls against your skin and
riffles the surface of the water, gusting drops
of sunlight toward you.

Reach for them. Understand you will
never touch, for you are separate now.

Later, run to Diamond Lake and watch the diamonds
skitter across the surface like wind made light,
while two ravens, who have been here since the beginning,
circle in the eddy overhead.

- - -
I am a writer and architect living in the San Diego, California, area. My parents are long dead and my children are grown. It's a good vantage point for thinking.


| Filed under

Contributor: Sravani Singampalli

- -
I have seen those
Breathtaking cherry blossoms,
Wonderful cascades, serene woods
And lonely valleys.
I really felt happy seeing
All the beauties of nature.
I never thought of anything
More beautiful than this
But when I heard the laughter
Of those poor innocent children
When I saw them jumping in happiness
After receiving goodies
I changed my mind.
That old man in their street
Is perhaps more fortunate than me.
He can behold this every day
Selling his delicious roasted peanuts
And giving some to these
Poor little kids
At the end of the day.

*Elysium- a place or state of perfect happiness.

- - -
Sravani singampalli is a 22 year old poet from india. She is presently pursuing doctor of pharmacy at JNTU KAKINADA university in Andhra Pradesh, India.


| Filed under

Contributor: Blake Garlock

- -
It was crisp and cool
But the blood was warm
Gathered in small pools
It led me through the ferns

Not far in I begin to worry
The mahogany red pools fade
Will I lose my quarry?
I lose faith, but morals keep me going

When morale has hit an all time low
A brown blob in the leaves fills me with life
Respect, thankfulness and honor overtake me
But there is no time for that, for the work has just begun

- - -
I am a current college student and emerging writer. I enjoy the outdoors and writing.

Strange Dreams

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Contributor: Peighton Macatuno

- -
I blanked out, about to give up control
What could I do
in a dream I couldn’t understand?

Suddenly the pain began to fade.
I was lying in bed, hearing nothing but the alarm
on the table by my bedside.

Was I still asleep?
Darkness was a recurring
character in these nightmares.

My eyes finally opened
and I wiped away tears
I didn’t know were falling.

Every night I slept
I could not remember
why I couldn’t forget these dreams.

- - -
Peighton Macatuno will eat anything once, as long as it’s at least half-dead. When she’s not eating, she’s practicing the piano or tutoring students in music theory. She chooses to help children over animals because they are easier to communicate with.

Last Slice (after William Carlos Williams)

| Filed under

Contributor: Noah Kim

- -
I grabbed the very last slice
of the pizza in the box.
I saw your hand reach for it too
but I was much quicker.

From the sigh of sadness,
I felt your disappointment.
But I still held firm onto my slice
as if it was worth a million bucks.

Forgive my selfish deed,
but it was very delicious
with the cheese oozing like lava
and the crust soft and crunchy.

- - -
Noah Kim believes that there is no task in the world more exciting than being on jury duty because judging and punishing people are his two favorite hobbies. Noah has many special skills, ranging from microwaving minute rice in fifty-nine seconds to unwrapping Starbursts in his mouth. If Noah could some up his life in one line, he would die of embarrassment.

A Ticket to Somewhere

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
When I was eight
I jumped off a roof as if
I had a parachute
and broke a leg.
He was there when I landed,
told me to be careful,
said I was too young
and then disappeared.

In a high school game
I went up for a rebound,
came down on my head
and got a concussion.
When I landed
he was there again,
said I was still too young
and had better be careful.

In my late forties
I almost got hit by a truck
but jumped back in time
and landed on the curb.
This time he told me
I was no longer too young
and if I wasn’t careful
I might see him again.

Now decades later
I have been very careful
but I still watch for him
because the last time he said
every one of us has
a ticket to somewhere
with choices to make
and moments to decide.

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


| Filed under

Contributor: Stefanie Bennett

- -
Hard facts sleep softly
If you let them:
Grey shepherds
Conjured up
In 'The Good Book'.

Such occurrences
The mind
To itself...
Its humming

- - -
Stefanie Bennett, ex-blues singer and musician, has published several books of poetry, a novel and a libretto, and worked with Arts Action For Peace. Of mixed ancestry
[Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was born in Qld., Australia.

No One's Calling

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Contributor: Suez

- -
An ominous rumble.
A blue chair
Balancing on two legs
In the dim corner
Against the grey wall.
Dingy yellow curtains
Ruffled edges dangling
Flit in the wind
Coming through the slimmest
Of cracks in the window
That rattles in its wooden frame.
A dead cell phone.
The freedom
Or the prison
To imagine
Almost anything
Or nothing
In pure isolation.

- - -

The Forest’s Not For Seeing Whole

| Filed under

Contributor: Barbara Carlton

- -
it’s for the fabric of bark: ropes
of fir, ribbons of cedar hair, red
madrona peels, alder mosaics
in gray raw silk;

it’s for the way ferns explode like
little green fireworks, branching,
branching, branching--their tiniest
part a fractal mirror of the whole

it’s for the calligraphy of sunlight written
in air, and the glitter of a turquoise
dragonfly in a glow of dust;

it’s for the muffled crackle
of invisible deer, squirrels snarking
at the feast, the giant who breathes
in the upper branches, the patient snore
of a rock weathering;

it’s for the sharp burst of unripe
blackberries, the crumble of rotting
logs, the hum of damp earth living
and dying;

it’s for all the inventions
of green, the perfection
of stillness, the permanent hush
of expectation, a hint of the world
when everything was forest.

- - -
I am a writer and architect living in the San Diego, California, area. My parents are long dead and my children are grown. It's a good vantage point for thinking.

The Shifters

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Contributor: Ed Ahern

- -
The creatures of the night
don’t lurk in woods and mansions.
They cave in cubicle and condo
until their sunset bat flights
to score drugs and hookups.
They shift not shape but being
into things denied by day.
Their eyes, rheumed at three o’clock
bear witness to misshapings.
Their smiles are the crumpled wrappers
of what they’ve smoked or drunk.
These creatures of the night
skulk outside themselves and simper.
They’ve escaped into the darkness.

- - -
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He's had a hundred eighty poemsand stories published so far, and three books.


| Filed under

Contributor: Samara Golabuk

- -
Tip the dire ferment of my thoughts on edge
a spinning dime that slows and rests,
at tension with insistent gravity
(an unreasoning beast at best
and almost always right).

Where's this vaunted spell,
the perfect synchronicity of uncertainty and atomic structure
to let me bandit away on a thermal,
laughing breezily among the convections of clouds?
Unbidden skylark am I,
a would-be immigrant of the firmament—
the vault that hoards no windows, only stars.

- - -
Samara is a Pushcart nominee whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Inklette, Eyedrum Periodically, Anti-Heroin Chic, Eunoia Review and others. She has two children, works in marketing and design, and has returned to university to complete her BA in Poetry.


| Filed under

Contributor: Trivarna Hariharan

- -
In the bark of a flowering tree,
a woodpecker hollows a nest for himself.
When he hums, I note that his beak is
full of a grief I will never know.
There is such distance
between us.

With the slowness of a waning moon
as he continues to dig into the wood,
I wonder if this is all it takes to build
a home: a grief, a song—
sometimes both.

- - -
Trivarna Hariharan is an undergraduate student of English literature from India. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Right Hand Pointing, Third Wednesday, Otoliths, Peacock Journal, Front Porch Review, Eunoia Review, and others. She has served as the editor in chief at Inklette, and is the poetry editor for Corner Club Press. Besides writing, she learns the electronic keyboard, and has completed her fourth grade in the instrument at Trinity College of Music, London.

My Identity

| Filed under

Contributor: Sravani Singampalli

- -
A man with immense knowledge
Is a tree laden with fruits
I am happy that I can taste them
I am still a budding tree!

Great people are the perennial rivers
I don’t know if I can be like them
Now I am a leafless maple tree
Waiting with patience and faith
For the season of ‘happiness and triumph’!

That crooked man is a pitcher plant
Its bright colour and hair-like structures
Are all his tricks to trap
The liquid inside is his strength
But I am not that poor innocent insect!

People who hurt me are cacti
I am a touch-me-not plant
I am the sunshine in my parents’ heart
Their faith in me is a banyan tree
And my heart is a magnolia flower!

All the beautiful looking girls
Are the tall pine trees
I may not look like them
I am an ugly contorted tree
Still I am happy and lucky
Because nobody can chop me down!

- - -
Sravani singampalli is a 22 year old poet from india. She is presently pursuing doctor of pharmacy at JNTU KAKINADA university in Andhra Pradesh, India.

A Night in Morocco

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Middle of the night he flies out of bed
to the commode only to wonder
in the dim light minutes later
if that's blood or simply a good-bye
from his wife’s stewed tomatoes,
a Moroccan dish she found on the web.

When he asked for a third serving
he pronounced them delicious.
So too, he said, was her dessert,
the Moroccan plum mousse
with the dark plums he likes.
Even with the ceiling light on

he doesn’t know now what he sees
so with his medical history he's
speeding at midnight to the ER
where the doctor says better safe
than sorry and orders a fast
colonoscopy to solve the mystery.

When he finally gets home, he tells
his wife when her boss comes over
for that big dinner Saturday night,
why not make Moroccan tomatoes
and her magnificent plum mousse.
He may never forget either.

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


| Filed under

Contributor: Lynn Cooper

- -
Like an IV drip
trepidation slowly
trickles through me
as I pack

jeans shirts
sundry items
for another trip
back home

This time
there is no room
in my suitcase
for criticism or judgment

I'll bite my tongue
make it bleed
swallow horse pill
words of disapproval

For one week
the only way
I know
to keep peace

- - -
Lynn Cooper is a published poet and former New Yorker, who now resides in Florida. Her poetry has appeared in print anthologies in both states, as well as online.

The River

| Filed under

Contributor: Blake Garlock

- -
It doesn’t care
I throw pebbles and boulders
But no matter what
It flows on hastily

The dreams of others flow past
Struggling for air
It’s path leads only down
Towards an inevitable end

I could get in
And see where it takes me
Or observe from the edge
And be merely forgotten

The edge is my safe net
Dry and calm, there is no risk
But the river calls to me
So I step closer

Is the risk worth the reward?
Or will I leave the best behind?
But the longer I wait
The more I regret

Whichever I decide
The direction won’t alter
So I step in
But I’m pulled under

- - -
I am a current college student and emerging writer. I enjoy the outdoors and writing.

Demand Your Grief

| Filed under

Contributor: Samara Golabuk

- -
demand your grief,
possess it like a lug
from the Jersey Shore
possesses a woman.
Require its fulness,
command it to shred its way
into your heart muscle,
fracture its way into your bones,
order it to choke your blood
to standstill, valves fluttering.
Roar its ferment, whole-live being,
the black ink of it, swallow
not willingly, but gorgeously,
feverishly, starvingly,
inhale it whole,
so you can begin
to digest its pieces,
the molecules alter,
one after another,
becoming us, but brilliant,
soon enough

- - -
Samara is a Pushcart nominee whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Inklette, Eyedrum Periodically, Anti-Heroin Chic, Eunoia Review and others. She has two children, works in marketing and design, and has returned to university to complete her BA in Poetry.

Rhyme and Reason

| Filed under

Contributor: Scott Thomas Outlar

- -
Is that hawk screaming
about whether or not
it believes in the existence of God?
Or simply seeking
across the distance
with a signal for its lover?

Is that blade of grass
straining against gravity
to grow taller toward the sky?
Or allowing its roots
below the ground
to do their business behind the scenes?

Is that cloud concerned
about bunkers being built
in fear of bombs?
Or being carried carefree
by a gentle breeze
blowing through the air?

Is that star all bent out of shape
over the latest debate
raging on cable news?
Or shining as a beacon of light
to more galaxies
than can be fathomed?

Is that leaf throwing a fit
about cold weather
as the season begins to shift?
Or brightening the woods
with a brilliant autumn hue
before falling back to the soil?

Is that wave cursing at the moon
about the way in which
it’s made to move?
Or crashing upon the shore
with a splash to fulfill
its natural fate of ebb and flow?

- - -
Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live performances, and books can be found.

Drinkin' Shine and Feelin' Nothin'

| Filed under

Contributor: Ken Allan Dronsfield

- -
We’re cornstalk cowboys,

drinkin’ shine from jelly jars.

Burning ice cold flaming tears

toasting every Friday night.

Life lost in evanescent dreams

all the while in a gifted stupor.

An apparent suicide attempt

on the porch after midnight.

Cross-eyed gazer to the stars

thoughts rattle about the brain,

kindergarten fun eating paste

and thinkin' bout the untouchable

prom queens and cheerleaders.

Perhaps a bit short on looks,

but I’m so freakin’ shy by nature

thinkin' I'll just sit right here drinkin’

shine, feelin’ absolutely nothin'.

- - -
Ken Allan Dronsfield is a disabled veteran and poet from New Hampshire now residing on the southern plains of Oklahoma. He loves life!

An Email on Sunday

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Some emails
are more difficult
to receive
from a child
long out of college

the daughter who writes
her cancer is back
but the doctor says
with chemo and surgery
things should be fine

and all the while
the father wonders
why she didn’t call
at midnight and let
the telephone scream

hysterically in the night
to deliver the news
a computer is too
cold a messenger
to deliver hot terror

on Sunday morning
while machine guns
of sleet drive
bullets too bright
into the ground

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

The Power of Now

| Filed under

Contributor: Mahinour Tawfik

- -
Like east and west is awake and conscious
The power of mind couldn't be less ominous
If the slave transcends taking over his master
Swirling back and forth from before to after

When all but now is a sense of illusion
Deriving its power from pleasure or pain
So fragile the mind is to abide the confusion
Of an identity derived from phantom of remains

Inattentive to the truth in this whirlwind
Handing over its limitless power
To the thought feasting upon one’s mind
Cause its survival commands it to devour

For a moment I stepped from this battlefield
Not only aware of the events but conscious
Neither aiming an arrow nor holding shield
Not a convict not a victim but an anonymous

I've seen the master handing over the reign
Since then misery has dwelt the kingdom
Like the thoughts that took hold of the brain
Grieving the past pleading future for freedom

- - -
Mahinour Tawfik, a 24 year old - Egyptian senior medical student.

Her first anthology "Dark Secrets" was released April 2016 in USA by KCL publishing company in South Carolina
She was one of the participants of the 9th international poetry festival in India September 2016,
She was featured in the local Indian daily newspaper besides the former features in multiple anthologies and online literary Magazines {Creative Talents unleashed – Ripen the page – International forum of literature and culture of peace}.

She received a certificate of appreciation from world poetry Canada, Vancouver.

She currently working on the release of the second Anthology "Once upon a Dream."


| Filed under

Contributor: Charlotte Ozment

- -
We speak in tongues
left hanging, warped by
forces that tug on our
inner struggles, the lines
of community drawn, static,
etched on hearts pounding
and lone. . .and finite,
with boundaries that are
loose, too far-flung to couple,
too alien to meet.

- - -
Charlotte Ozment is a homesteading Texan living on several acres full of devas, dogs and squirrels. She finds words hidden in the world around her and can sometimes put them to paper before they fade.

Life is But a Dream Shaboom

| Filed under

Contributor: Michael Kagan

- -
Shout it down
Scream louder
Stomp it into
the ground
Hate it
Spit on it
A damning expression
With your teeth
Ours the beautiful shorelines
Visions of future
Versions of past
Somewhere we dream together
A complicated battle
Inside a mystical plan
The source of inspiration knows
Nobody knows best
A heartfelt tapestry
Hangs in this improbable place
Feeling it's way back
through pitch black
Terrible mistakes to forgive
And overcome
A passionate rock and roll rumble
Uniquely evolving perspective
Some more abstract than others
History watching closely
From inside the dream
Twisting and churning
Not one straight line
Fighting hard to keep alive
The perpetual invention
Heart and soul
Life is but a dream

- - -
Mike is a jazz musician
He discovered his passion for poetry a few years back
He has been published on Leaves of Ink, The poet community and Indiana voice journal where one of his poems has been nominated for Best of the Net anthology.


| Filed under

Contributor: Sanjeev Sethi

- -

As you wish them luck on their journey
you distance yourself from the process.


Testing the fragility of my heart
you toughened it to such an extent,
my physician cancelled the prescription.


Wherewithal from dead words is
malison lugged in musette bags
across minds: is there a faultless
way of saying thank-you or sorry?


Full-scale mirrors in beauty
salons play mute matchmakers.
Inflorescence of feelings
is propitious when vanity
is at its most valuable.


On seeing another
journalist being
feted, I squirm.
Seen too many
with wobbly knees,
weak memories.

- - -
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). A Best of the Net 2017 nominee, his poems are in venues around the world: The Stray Branch, Ann Arbor Review, Empty Mirror, First Literary Review-East, Right Hand Pointing, Peacock Journal, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Synesthesia Anthology: 2013-2017, Rasputin: A Poetry Thread Anthology, Scarlet Leaf Review, London Grip, Peeking Cat Anthology 2017, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Daughter They Dote On

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Gallivanting again
she’s now 33

where she goes
ever a mystery

Her parents bewildered
are ill and retired

they watch her kids
seven so far

quints and twins
sires unknown

this time it's Nome
the twins were told

to meet her soulmate
found on the web

she was a nun once
cloistered in Rome.

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

Scenery of Time

| Filed under

Contributor: Sravani Singampalli

- -

I have been married to misfortune
For almost eight years
Failure is my mother
Perseverance is my father
I never thought that optimism
Would be my best friend.
Lots of things have changed
The shade of that old mango tree
Which was once the realm
Of two romantic souls
Is now a classroom to many students.
The small serene garden beside it
Where I used to sit and contemplate
Where I lost my favourite key chain
Where I once took first steps
With my cute little feet
Is now a big bazaar.

I suffered with cancer
Yes! Cancer of negative thoughts
Until I met my best friend
For the very first time
At this magnificent place.
The place which everybody
Believed to be super-haunted
Beholding that inhabited house,
Rotting banyan leaves and
The lighthouse beside it
In the unusual decaying darkness.
I found this place captivating
Many ghostly rumours
Originated from this place
They said they had seen
Skulls and skeletons
On the junk heaps of rotten leaves
But I saw a little flower
Emerging out of those rotten leaves
When the first rays of sun
Hit the earth.
There was no more uncertainty
In the air as it was before.
That pleasant day
When I sat on my balcony
Staring at the night sky
I could see the twinkling stars
Telling me many stories
Stories of people who lost many things
Who kept on losing and losing
But never gave up!
Stories of those inspiring people
Who turned tragedy into victory
My dreamy eyes captured this moment
It has made fortune
Fall in love with me.

*Bazaar – A market place.

- - -
Sravani singampalli is a 22 year old poet from india. She is presently pursuing doctor of pharmacy at JNTU KAKINADA university in Andhra Pradesh, India.

A Woman

| Filed under

Contributor: Samara Golabuk

- -
A woman

knows about blood.
Pain is in her nature,
the kiss and pull of it,
the binding wisdom of it.

we are perfect salt crystals,
bromide bald and frilled
with skirts and comfort.
The wild dogs
of puberty petrify us—,
we walked slow so life
will not scent us, send
us its feral hounds to ram
quick-gust snouts at our heels.
Those dogs are eager
for a taste of Achilles,
the white soft bar of it snapping
and wet in their grinning jaws
that drip and wolf at moons.

Mars, the crone—her red battle surface
gone to dust—scuffs and chortles
at us, our ample emptiness,
our shying, a florist of it flourishing
young girls — cherished blue dew-blossoms,
fragile and succulent to be held
so near the sun.

- - -
Samara is a Pushcart nominee whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Inklette, Eyedrum Periodically, Anti-Heroin Chic, Eunoia Review and others. She has two children, works in marketing and design, and has returned to university to complete her BA in Poetry.


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