Her Pine Valley Landscape

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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.


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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.


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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

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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.


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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.


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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)

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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.


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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

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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.


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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.


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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

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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

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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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 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live performances, and books can be found.

Drinkin' Shine and Feelin' Nothin'

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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

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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

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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."


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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

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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

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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.

Lessons I've Learned in 18 Years

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Contributor: Mae Santillo

- -
0 : you are a concept of an idea & still you have more love than your father or mother or father’s father or mother’s mother have ever felt in their lifetime. you will never know how important this is, but you’ll figure it out someday.

1 : sleep a normal amount of time for once in your life, there’s more to life than laying in bed.

2 : your aversion to normal people clothes & lack of embarrassment is admirable. try to laugh at yourself when you get older.

3 : you get called beautiful everywhere you go. you will always be beautiful, try not to forget it someday. I know it’ll be harder than it sounds.

4 : he’ll kiss you on the cheek after your cat scratches you. keep friends like this around. you’ll miss them too much, otherwise.

5 : you take a picture wearing your father’s shoes, this is a metaphor that you used in the wrong poem.

6 : one time you got into a fight with your teacher because she told you that you weren’t drawing a zebra correctly — you’re still bitter about this. how the fuck are you supposed to draw a zebra in kindergarten?

7 : you won’t remember this in a while. try really hard to remember it, even if it doesn’t work.

8 : learn. learn everything. don’t share what you learn. it’s alright to be quiet. don’t let them tell you that you’re wrong.

9 : you’ve always been a ray of sunshine, even when you’re not. keep this desire to see the world a better place, hold on to the good things in life. be so selfish you don’t let anyone else see it. keep it to yourself. as long as you’re happy.

10 : you’re still so pure & no one will ever imagine you broken. you never will be. even when you feel like it. you never will be.

11 : I’m sorry for the next six years. I will always be sorry for them.

12 : it’s okay to be lost but stop allowing others to define your morals. stop doing things impulsively, stop hating yourself. I love myself. I want to live.

13 : be careful who you trust. there are secret friends, and there are gossip friends, determine accordingly. at this point in your life — TRUST NO ONE.

14 : you are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. throw away every apology you have ever written. it will be worth it. I promise. start to trust people again, please, I know it’s hard but you’ll need them.

15 : the feeling in your chest that the world is trying to squeeze the life out of you will go away eventually. someday, you will be able to breathe again & it will be glorious.

16 : it’s okay to not to tell anyone about yourself at first, never make yourself feel bad for being distant. learn to accept it. find people willing to love you for it. people will begin to love you for it. it’s okay if you let them, you’ll know what I mean by the time you’re

17 : allow yourself to fail. allow yourself to try again, allow yourself to be second best at everything. allow yourself to start living. people want to see you living & god those people will piss you off but they will miss you more than anyone if you are not living. do it for them, if nothing else.

18 : keep living.

- - -
Mae Santillo is a seventeen year old senior at Arts at the Capitol Theater in Willimantic Connecticut.

The Plum Tree

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Contributor: Ken Allan Dronsfield

- -
How did the despair become

fluid for clear, dry eyes to shed?

Why did the burden on the heart

allow the stress and cause the beat

to finally stop now limp to the touch?

I've learned to live bringing such pain,

to bear as a heaviness and darkness

conjoin in a ripe nectar squeezed from

my mind creating an apathetic caste.

In these times of death, we hum our

dirges and become oracles of peace

while pounding that holy black book

forever bound by the millions of souls.

Remorseful, I've learned to inhale deep

as I await my turn to be quickly plucked

from that great plum tree of life, ripe as

I search for an epistemic loftiness below.

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

Natural Reflection of Your Palms

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Contributor: Scott Thomas Outlar

- -
This is my breath,
the same as yours,
the same as dust, the same as ash
when it all comes to an end,
but held deeply within
steady lungs
that long for truth
while we’re still here.

This is my flesh,
the same as yours,
the same as tissue, the same as sinew,
but without
fiber optic connections as of now;
and never will be,
so don’t dare try me
with temptations
toward such so-called system upgrades.

This is my blood,
the same as yours,
the same as a river, the same as the ocean
where we all swam
before the expansion
of our evolution
was set into forward motion.

These are my hands,
the same as yours,
the same as caring, the same as giving,
the same as taking, the same as wanting,
the same as needing to hold
everything that is loved
firmly within their grasp.

- - -
Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live performances, and books can be found.

Holding Out

| Filed under

Contributor: Michael Magyar

- -
John held out his small hand to collect coins
from passersby. Leaves fall and he catches
them too, their crisp gold,
sense of hope.
The streets of NYC were dirty
and so was he. His father and mother hold the cardboard signs
asking for help.

John’s sickly hand becomes weaker each day,
as he keeps his hand extended for someone,
anyone, to help.

The call goes unanswered
leaving the husband and wife
in pain and forever restless,
with winter's fierce sting,
they are left
like the frostbite spreading through their fingers.

- - -

Bird Talk

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Contributor: Lynn Cooper

- -
Pushy pedantic parrots
discuss philosophy
global warming, extinction
give wordy, high flown speeches
while I, a self-restrained canary
become lost
in their avian rhetoric

I want to screech
above a tweet
show them more
than a bird's brain
instead I chirp
flutter wings
fly swiftly over their heads
for their open mouths

- - -
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.

Agnostic Afloat

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
You were a good boy,
following your parents' advice,
never going out in the rain.

At the sound of rain
you dove under the bed,
bawled and shouted,

“Come out, come out
wherever you are"
but no one came out,
not even you.

When your parents died
your uncle gave you
boots and a bumbershoot
and out you went
whatever the weather.

The rain in Spring you found
a wonderful thing and not
so bad in Summer either
until the flood roared in
and you floated away.

Noah and his ark sailed by,
Noah on deck
between two giraffes
smiling and shouting,

“Come out, come out
wherever you are"
but no one came out,
not even you.

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

The Color Of Water

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Contributor: Milton P. Ehrlich

- -
At sunrise, over pale blue waters,
damselflies, who just returned
from Trinidad, dance a calypso,
flashing bare behinds—
luring dragonflies behind cattails,
sea lavender and mangroves
in a celebratory estuary.

The reddish heat of passion
and the pale blue waters
turns into an extra-spectral
color of magenta.
Aquatic creatures of the deep
join the party, blowing bubbles
as if it was New Year’s Eve.

Much like human beings,
ancient flying insects do
whatever they have to
for a moment of pleasure.

At sunset, over navy blue waters,
sated dragonflies with transparent wings
use their multifaceted eyes to find
an empty knot-hole in an old oak tree
for a safe place to sleep.
Ghosts of insects sleep in the silent country
of the floor of murky green water
filled with forests of eelgrass.

A golden setting sun streams down
on old birds who forgot how to fly.
Clinging to each other, they sing
remembered tunes from yesteryears—
strolling in the rippling shallows of the shore
overflowing with schools of silver alewives,
making all God’s creatures feel rich.

- - -
Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 86-year-old psychologist. He is also a Korean War veteran who has published many poems in periodicals such as the “Wisconsin Review,” “Descant,” “Toronto Quarterly Review,” “Chariton Review,” “Vox Poetica,” “Red Wheelbarrow,” “Christian Science Monitor,” “Huffington Post,” and the “New York Times.

By The Side Of The Lake

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Contributor: John Grey

- -
I bend over the waters,
make reflection,
as if the surface needs more skin.

You're behind me somewhere,
crushing the grass
in your struggle to be comfortable,
dipping into the book
that opens a door for you,
rooms to glide away into
and leave me here.

How easy it is
to slip into your own self,
to be as autonomous
as the silver shining rock,
the blur of fish tail.

I don't think
and I'm thinking about me.
I stay in this spot
like nothing else can.

A breeze springs from nowhere,
delicate and dreamlike,
devotes itself to the flutter of my hair,
the cooling of my cheeks.

I dip my hand in the water.
My images rises and falls
firmly in place.
The ripple of a lake
is not movement,
I discover,
but its stillness magnified.

- - -
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

The Deep Blue

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Contributor: Sonny

- -
The peaceful ripples,
the deep blue crushing force
Covering sandy shores
While it shines and shimmers,
howls and roars,
Aqua paradise and God’s angry power.

My emotions can be buried,
or they can be spread out,
but before anyone sees them,
the ocean comes washing
my hermit crabs away.

Life has high tides and low tides
that sometimes pull me under, try to drown me,
But give me enough strength,
And I’ll keep swimming until I reach the sandbar.

- - -


| Filed under

Contributor: Milton P. Ehrlich

- -
Most people think
it’s like going to sleep
and never waking up.
Some worry they may
not be dead-dead,
and will have a panic attack
in a windowless coffin.
I figure it’s no different
than pissing and moaning
over a rejecting lover.
Life was her name,
and she doesn’t love
you at all anymore.
You better develop a muscle
to wrestle with hurt feelings.
Your relationship is over.
It may be time to kill yourself.
She doesn’t give a rat’s ass
about whether you live or die.
You can now float through space
with rocks and dirt in your mouth,
dead ants will cling to your teeth.
Smile, and say hello Mr. Death.

- - -
Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 85-year-old psychologist. A Korean War veteran, he’s published numerous poems in periodicals such as "Descant," "Wisconsin Review," "Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow," "Toronto Quarterly Review," "Christian Science Monitor," "Huffington Post," and the "New York Times."

Ghost Bike

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Contributor: Christine Jackson

- -
From the back seat,
I glance up from my Twitter feed
to catch
a blue flash in the car headlights.
My Uber driver blasts the horn.

"You see that kid?" he says.
"Almost turned his blue bike white."
He pulls the car onto the highway.

"I’ve seen the white bikes around town,"
I say, "painted all white, even the tires."

"Ghost bikes," the driver says,
"chained around a bench or stop sign
where a wise ass kid
thought he could outrun the light,
then his luck runs out.
Neighborhood ghost bikes
mark where the kid spent his last second
on earth. Don’t know why."

I say, "Maybe if one kid sees it
and thinks twice,
there won't be another ghost bike
on that block."

From the front seat,
a turn signal ticks
off seconds in the silence.
The driver says,
"Me, I think about the folks of the kid
who won’t come home again.
On my way to work,
I pass my own boy’s ghost bike.
Every damned day."

- - -
Christine Jackson teaches creative writing at a South Florida university. That is, she is supposed to teach, but no doubt learns more from her students than they do from her. Her poems have appeared in many online publications, including Ekphrastic, Remixt, and Verse-Virtual.

All Wildfires Start Somewhere

| Filed under

Contributor: Juliet Duchesne

- -
It started off slow, smoldered like the cherry tip
of my last cigarette. We flew across the cities like gods, soaring
past ninety-five miles on the interstate. We watched street
lights streak by: painted bolts as beautiful as Zeus’ glory,
imprinting jagged beams across our eyes. The endorphins crept
through my frontal lobe, spread through my brainstem,
my bloodstream, like embers resting in my hands. I can’t remember
where we were driving to, maybe to the end of the world.
All I knew was that my body craved a small glimpse of heaven
that I could only reach with the vial, the pill, or the spiraling smoke
that floated beyond clenched knuckles on the steering wheel. My heart
hammered underneath clammy skin; high on the fire that started
deep in my lungs, burned through realities I wished I could leave
behind. My cranium flooded with dopamine that doused receptors in
a crippling euphoria. I felt like I could only see the full picture
through dilated pupils. Like the moon, my eyes waxed full as time
went on, engulfed me with visions I never knew possible, twisted
colors tangled in a feverish haste through black sun irises, and
flames that made my mouth water. But it all ignited so quickly;
it seemed everything turned to ash before I could exhale.
I tilted my head back and laughed as the car carried us
to the edge of sunshine, ready for us to embrace
the horizon’s lips with a blistered kiss.

My mother rolls her eyes when I tell her I love her;
she knows it’s the money in her pocket that I’m after,
that my robotic-coal smile holds no weight.

She knows that if I just listened to her when I had the chance
I wouldn't have rotten away from the inside out.
And it makes me sick to my stomach because she’s right.

I told her there was nothing to worry about,
but she notices dark plum bruises growing on my tender nerves,
and I can’t feel warm tears leaking from my sunken sockets.

I flinch when she rests her palm on my shoulder,
and pray that she doesn’t notice, but I know she knows.
She wouldn’t walk back into a burning building.

She asks why I have been gone so often,
why I can’t even manage to peek into her auburn irises.
Her gaze feels as if she’s trying

to soothe my wounds with lemon juice and vinegar—
like searing barbed wire pressing further
into the already weak chambers of my heart.

Her eyes always attempt to incinerate the toxins that cling
so desperately onto the woven fibers of my body.
So I flinch when she looks at me,

the same way as when I feel her rough wool sleeves
brush against where my bicep meets my forearm, like silver
phantom needles piercing through my already torn skin.

I asked him if
he could remember a time
before we began to paint
our lungs black;
when our skin was still soft,
when I could wash my face
back to life—He said,
why does it matter?

I told him I’ve become
more ash than person.
That I burn my fingertips,
hoping I can wake up
from this, but I keep
sinking further into the
coals—He said,
just have another hit
and you’ll feel better.

- - -
Juliet Duchense is a first year college student studying Secondary Education in hopes to be an English teacher one day. She loves writing, reading, and absorbing as many stories as she possibly can. She is just trying her best.

From My Window

| Filed under

Contributor: Catherine G. Wolf

- -
From my window I see
hot pink blossoms of the crab apple tree
dance wildly with the wind,
like kids at recess on a perfect, spring day.
Rhododendrons offer huge purple flowers,
birthday presents for me.

From my sun splashed window
the stately green leaves of the crab apple tree.
They were supposed to be like the other tree,
with purple leaves,
but I am grateful for variety.
Chartreuse shoots on the rhododendrons
poke their heads up,
promising birthday presents next year.

From my window
fat-bellied squirrels play tag on the crab apple tree,
gorge on crab apples.
(Have they forgotten where they hid their acorns?).
Hugo snips wayward branches of the rhododendrons.
“Not too much!,“ I shout.
Bushes should be bushes.

From my frosty window
the rhododendrons shiver and contract,
like an old woman stooped over in a cold wind.
I read the temperature by their posture.
On the barren, snow covered limbs of the crab apple tree
A tiny black capped chickadee sits.
Reminds me that spring will come again.

- - -
In 1996, when I was stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease, my ability to speak was taken away by this disease. I found poetry had a special capability to express my innermost feelings. By losing my physical voice, I found my poetic voice.

In Concert Tonight

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Tonight we offer the new Janis Joplin
a black girl in white skin who growls
every melancholy note and is

still looking for the man
she wants forever who
wants her even more.

But Janis would probably yell,
“Good luck with that, sister.
Shut up and sing.”

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

Like Little Children

| Filed under

Contributor: Adrian Slonaker

- -
Like little children
dreaming at meandering clouds,
they lie sprawled on a vermilion duvet,
laughing under their breath,
haunted by the heady scents
of coffee, chocolate, and cashmere air freshener
and the pizzicato cadence of a Spanish guitar
from a radio in another room.
But they are not little children,
and, as she creeps closer to his
brightly inked bicep,
they sigh-collectively-
because, for adults,
the stakes are so much higher.

- - -
Adrian Slonaker works as a copywriter and copy editor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Adrian's poetry has appeared in The Mackinac, Nixes Mate Review, Postcard Poems and Prose, Red Weather, HCE Review, and others.

Sequence: Great American Songbook

| Filed under

Contributor: Kenneth Salzmann

- -

autumn mountains ablaze
california climate change
smoke gets in your eyes

mercury levels rise
oceans recoil in horror
it’s been a real nice clambake

one more deployment
or addiction and neglect
when johnny comes marching home

adjunct professors
gig economy
brother can you spare a dime?

trump in the white house
how to maintain sanity?
i can’t get started

climate accord lacks
one signatory nation
farewell to paris

- - -
Kenneth Salzmann’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as Home Planet News. Better Than Starbucks, Comstock Review, Rattle. He is working on an extended collection of haiku incorporating song titles from the so~called “Great American Songbook.”

The Wind

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
Where does it come from
And where does it go,
Who has it touched,
Tell if you know.
Will it blow in the night
As it did in the day,
And what has it gathered along the way,
It comes as a roar
And it comes as a sigh,
But it comes to all of us
By and by.
And it can bring pleasures
Or it can bring pain,
It can clear the sky,
Or bring forth the rain.
We know not where it comes from
Or where it will go,
And unless we are touched,
We may never know.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke is an avid reader and enjoys writing poetry. He lives in Illinois with his wife Mary, their dog Max, and their cat Gracie. He finds in nature both inspiration and revelation.

Across the Pond

| Filed under

Contributor: Scott Thomas Outlar

- -
London lights
flash neon blue
emblazoned with the phoenix
in Piccadilly Circus
where energy is manic
and creativity burns
straight through the heart
of a city without fog…
if only for one night

Every language
becomes crystal clear
in a melting pot
where mussels are served
with fish and chips
and wine
and wine
and wine
that flows
along the River Thames
with accents from regions
both near and far…
if only for one night

Voices from the crowd
surface upon the stage
of The Poetry Café
where society converges
around the comforting caress
of art that slips
carefully off
the tips of tongues
teasing the promise
of renaissance
in a culture renewed…
if only for one night

- - -
Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, live performances, and books can be found.


| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
I keep on dreaming
There’s some place to live
A romanticized vision
A romanticized walk

Maybe Alaska
Maybe New England
Maybe a seaport
Maybe New York

Expatriate Paris
Tuscany’s villas
Provence at midnight
Perhaps County Cork

Too many novels
Too many movies
Too many stories
Too many dreams

Too many heroes
Too many failures
Too many sidewalks
Too many screams

No place is perfect
No place dramatic
No place to hide out
No place it seems

No more contentment
No more excitement
No more bravado
No more extreme

Only a longing
Only a passion
Only a nightmare
Only a scheme

Finding forever
Finding the moment
Finding contentment
Finding the dream

- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional and is published on and in numerous internet and print journals. He lives with his wife, actress Lydia Franklin, and their rescued Australian Shepherd, Daisy.


| Filed under

Contributor: Milton P. Ehrlich

- -
They hear the rumbles
deep within our earth—
doomsday is on the way,
warnings we can’t ignore.
The living nightmare
is almost here— not if
it’s going to happen—
only a matter of when.

Saturated with sun,
stones have heft—
move by rollingto safe terrain.
Caterpillars and cockroaches
follow close behind.

They roll down to Antarctica–
sinking down belowthe below—
intoa void beyond the idea
of wrong-doing or right-doing—
the past, present and future vanishes.

Stones speak for the first time—
butterflies fly out of their mouths
speaking a new language
everyone can understand:
Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning
to breathe free.

Come all survivors—follow
the stones, before the end
of your life begins.

- - -
Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 85-year-old psychologist. A Korean War veteran, he’s published numerous poems in periodicals such as "Descant," "Wisconsin Review," "Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow," "Toronto Quarterly Review," "Christian Science Monitor," "Huffington Post," and the "New York Times."

Roxie, The Ballerina Cat

| Filed under

Contributor: Catherine G. Wolf

- -
Roxie, The Ballerina Cat
Roxie stretches long
on my bed,
paws pointed
in white ballet slippers.
Front legs gently over my own.

Body slim
Eyes large
glowing emeralds.
Jumps on the counter,
perfect arabesque.
Roxie skips
in faster
and faster circles
following a
yellow feather.
Her grace and beauty joys my spirit.
Roxie hunts birds
One moment,
a still statue.
The next,
four paws on the window.
I love Roxie,
the ballerina cat!

- - -
In 1996, when I was stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease, my ability to speak was taken away by this disease. I found poetry had a special capability to express my innermost feelings. By losing my physical voice, I found my poetic voice.

A Caseworker’s Nightmare

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Two ancient men
named Ruben Kohn
by happenstance
had sleeping rooms
in the Ace Hotel for Men

a flophouse home
to mendicants and drunks,
the mentally impaired
and a few divorced men
paying child support.

When the government said
some mentally impaired folks
were well enough to live
among the general population,
the Ruben Kohns arrived

late one night and they
choked Thomas O’Leary,
divorced and drinking
in his room, who started
singing for all to hear,

“You Kohns are cuckoo!"
No one claimed O’Leary’s body,
and the Kohns were sent away
to different institutions
to live out their lives

far from the circus maximus
of the general population, never
again to hear a normal person
like tenor Thomas O’Leary sing
“You Kohns are cuckoo!”

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

Face Of All

| Filed under

Contributor: Daipayan Nair

- -
I playfully surprise you
with a toy cloud
when you have none,

owing to those sudden lane, roadside pranks
accepted irrespective of a mood
with you on the rooftop
laughing an explosive laughter

How you rejoice,
pours down as a few alphabets
on a house poet's prime paper,
I am able to read

touching the one in it, strangely plain

with or without a fading face.

- - -
Born on 1988 in a small town of Silchar, Assam, India, Daipayan Nair is a freelance writer/columnist, poet, fiction writer and essayist. His works have been published in a lot of anthologies and poetry journals like The Poetry Breakfast, The Galway Review, Tuck Magazine, 1947 Literary Journal, Duane's PoeTree Blog etc. He was recently awarded The Reuel International Poetry Prize 2016.

For Her It Is Simply So

| Filed under

Contributor: Patrick Trotti

- -
It is
It is simply you

It is when you don’t feel like wearing makeup
Or you let your hair dry on its own
Because then I get to witness different variations of you,

It is when you can help but snort when you laugh
Because laughter keeps you from having to think of the pain you’re in,

It is when you have food stuck in your teeth
Making your smile vulnerable
Or how sometimes one of your eyes goes lazy
And then it readjusts itself and my stomach flips
Because now both of your eyes looking at me again,

It is all of these things
And more

It’s powerful enough to get me out of bed
When my pills have slowed my mind to a stand still,

It’s powerful enough to portion out my feelings so they will last
And not fizzle out like all of my manic thoughts,

It’s powerful enough that it will sustain me
Without an expiration date or the need for a refill,

I trace the outlines of your tattoos at night when I can’t sleep
The ink sitting just beneath the surface
Of your freckled skin
But the real artwork is the space in between,

When you say I love you
It’s almost enough to make up for
A childhood full of love denied,

Sometimes I’m scared to touch you
For fear that the sins of my self
Will clash against your innocence,

The voice in my head is no longer raspy
And gnarled
But it’s soft and sweet
The only way I know how to keep you with me constantly,

I pull the sheets and blanket over our heads in bed
So that none of the athletes on my wall
Or my teddy bear on the nightstand
Can get a look at your smile
My selfishness redirected into devotion,

The smell of your sight
The taste of your touch
The sound
Of your name;
They’re all zigzagged together like the paint splatter of Pollock,

I put my hand through your hair
And follow it down to the very end
Which is the best part because of the curls
But also the worst because it means I’m almost done,

I tell you something shocking
Just so I could pluck one of the hairs
That stood up on the back on your neck
And put it in my pocket
So I could carry a piece of you with me forever,

I don’t talk about you in therapy
Because you’re the one functioning thing in my life
And I don’t want to jinx it
With the yellow notepad of my shrink,

The way you walk
Sort of side to side
Like a penguin
So you won’t take too big a stride and fall
Is great if only
Because I get to give you my arm for balance
And interlock my callused fingers with the soft touch of yours,

Your poor circulation
Keeps me wide awake
As we snuggle
And play footsie like a high school couple,

That moment between the buzzing of the phone
And me looking at the screen
Is the second best feeling behind only
When I realize that it’s you on the other end,

So shed the layer of makeup
Because your imperfections
Are much more memorable
Than the deluxe Sephora package
Could ever promise,

You listen to me explain the importance of baseball
And how it teaches a fan about failure
Because even the best hitters fail six or seven times out of ten
And you sat there and let me go on and on even though this is the third time this week
That I complained about the lack of another left handed bat in the lineup
Just because you like to see me so excited about something,

I take you to my local library
And you listen to my self-pretentious musings on different books
As we walk through the aisles
And you patiently wait until I’m done talking
And take me by the hand and ask to make out with me
The very question is funny
Because of the two of us I should be the one
Asking, and asking again and again just to make sure that
Your light pink lips are willing to smash up against mine
And that your soft face is prepared to withstand my bushy facial fluff
As I brush up against you with eyes almost entirely closed but still a tiny bit open
Because I have to see our lips touch to believe that
I’m really kissing you,

It’s something undeniable
So natural
And at times subtle
But constant
Like the bump on the top of your nose
That reminds me that you’re human after all
And not an angel that dropped into my life.

- - -
Patrick Trotti is a freelance writer based in Rochester, New York.

Opal Starstone

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Contributor: Maureen Daniels

- -
Lust falls from your eyes,
threads of a bodice
I have ripped and licked.

Your lips lash at me,
strike with the poison
of daggers trembling.

Your kissable face
and inked shoulders now
bar every exit.

That’s how you entered
my life, all heat and Scorpio,
your laugh thrusting
towards delicious disasters.

- - -
Maureen Daniels teaches English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where she is also a doctoral fellow in creative writing. She is an editorial assistant for Prairie Schooner and Western American Literature. Her work has recently been published in Sinister Wisdom, Wilde Magazine, Gertrude Press, Third Wednesday and the South Florida Poetry Review.

Enamoured Me

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Contributor: John MacKinnon

- -
If my mom had named me Vincent
Would my go van blow a tire
If my mom had named me Pablo
Would my water flow like fire
If my mom had named me Salvador
Would my real name be Dali
If my mom had named me Ludwig
Would my symphony still be

If my world had circled Saturn
Could I give the Sun a ring
If time hurled from forward fissions
Would I still hear Lennon sing

If my mom had named me Vincent
Would all my colours still bleed through
If my mom had named me Pablo
Would my pieces still seek you
If my mom had named me Salvador
Would my sky just be a door
If my mom had named me Ludwig
Could my music matter more

If my universe was tiny
Would my thoughts grow larger still
If my mom had named me Vincent
Would my starry night fulfill

- - -


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Contributor: John MacKinnon

- -
And in the final desperate times
The children all were gathered
The dogs released to scout the line
Where nothing living mattered

And rockets raced upon their marks
High up amongst the heavens
Now sturdy cedars withheld brave barks
Becoming hidden havens

Yet all the while the rivers wept
For streams lost coinciding
The mothers treasures closely kept
Near arms grown weary hiding

And lastly before stars were joined
An instant moment later
Old Sol the Sun, new light purloined,
Smiled back at the Creator

- - -


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Contributor: Bill Gillard

- -
I’ve lived longer than Thoreau but
not better. Certainly not written better,
although few of any age can
say they have. Spent not nearly
enough time in a canoe in Maine.

I’ve lived longer than Poe and
happier, but the horrors of the
blood spring a page just as
sure as spring days do loved
ones eager for more than my company.

I’ve lived longer than Fitzgerald his
boat long since surrendered to the
current while mine marooned in rushes
borne neither to the past nor
the future one paddle erect in muck.

I’m catching up to Richard Wright
and Emily Dickinson whose mirrors would
have envied mine—white and male
and free—and who made great
art despite the slings of outrageous fortune.

These words, too, lounge on an
easy couch while I do other
things with what little time I
have remaining until I end
up on the poster “Sparse Talent Squandered.”

And that’s it—my big idea—
a biography series about people not
listed among the great but people
like me for whom a single life
never got started for whom the main

channel of the river diverged along
the way in all of this
tall grass when the water table
dropped a drought of a life human
a broken poetic form

- - -
Bill Gillard is an award-winning teacher of creative writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley. His writing has appeared in Serving House, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Literary Review, The Writer's Chronicle, Chiron Review, Review Americana, Dark Sky Magazine, and many others. His most recent chapbook is Ode to Sandra Hook (Finishing Line Press). He earned an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University and is a recovering youth hockey coach.

The Secret

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Contributor: Judy Moskowitz

- -
They try to look away
but can't help staring
at the man in the wheelchair
sympathy offers its hand
keeping the door ajar
as he manipulates his four wheeler
the place of permanence
where he reigned supreme
threatening to do the unthinkable
and keeping all his promises
decades have passed
with only two witnesses left
no place to run from
no one to run to
the burden of silence
will be scattered across the sea
sunshine and salt air
will dissolve its foul odor

- - -
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

After the Spirit is Flown

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
The earth has claimed the bones
Of many I have known.
No longer do they walk the earth,
Or speak of anything.
No longer do they toil,
Or worry anymore,
Or help those that they care for,
Or hurt those that they don't.
Like a fallen flake of snow,
They are silent where they lie.
No longer do they need a thing,
After they have died,
And for now, upon the earth,
They neither laugh or cry.
They cannot tell of pain they had,
Or pleasures that they knew,
Their possessions have they left behind,
For others now to own.
Their time on earth is ended,
After the spirit is flown.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke has worked as a laborer and a registered nurse. He enjoys reading and writing poetry. He lives in Illinois with his wife and their dog and cat.

Ollie’s Wine and Liquor

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
For years Ollie worked
late into the night
ringing up his sales
of wine and liquor
cigarettes and condoms
sometimes overcharging
addled customers who
had nowhere else to go.

He invested profits in
gold and silver coins
hidden in a box
under the attic floor
of the house he bought
for a crippled son
who never married,
never climbed a stair.

Now the store is closed
and the son is getting old
but the coins are
shining in their box
under the attic floor.
Ollie too is in a box,
a sea of dust, an
archipelago of bones.

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

Bird Feeder

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Contributor: Catherine G. Wolf

- -
For Katie who wants to learn about birds

My grandma in Brooklyn knew
all the birds by their songs–tufted titmouse,
black capped chickadee, downy woodpecker—
until Alzheimer’s like a pistol with a silencer
shot holes in her brain.
That grandmother gave me my first bird feeder
for my eleventh birthday, wrapped in silver
paper with a cardinal-red bow.
She wanted to get my glasses out of the
Nancy Drew books that consumed me
as I consumed them. Ran my fingers over the
long glass chamber, inhaled the shellacked
oak trim on the top.
We hung it in the dining room window
that snowy day in early March.
The first visitor was a cardinal,
too stubborn to fly south.
I took his picture on the frosted feeder.
I still have the picture in my bird album.
Do you want to see it, Katie?
My grandma turned me into a bird watcher,
my nose in bird books, enthusiastically recording
each feathered visitor to the feeder,
saving my fifty cent allowance to buy
sunflower seeds, hot fudge sundaes to the birds.
A shy girl given wings by that gift!
My grandma died before she saw the album.
A raccoon smashed that first feeder
into icy shards on frozen ground.

My second feeder I bought
on impulse from a pet store
buying catnip mice for the cats.
The top’s somewhat rusty
and you might have to adjust the height.
It hangs a little lopsided when squirrels
try to get the seed, but I swear,
you wouldn’t believe the variety of birds
that thing attracts. For five years,
it’s hung in my kitchen window,
the birds chirping as I have my
morning coffee. I love the tiny
yellow and black goldfinches
singing operas. They fly in
from the crab apple tree where the birds
form a kind of cafeteria line.
Such joy in color and music, Katie!
It became the greatest cat toy,
my tabby Tammy crouched by the window
springing onto glass like she had
suction cups on her paws.
My black cat Jake yodeling on the counter,
as if calling to the birds.

Now I’m giving you your own bird feeder.
So you will listen to their songs.
The collection of birds is more colorful
and musical than a Mardi Gras marching band.
I hope you will love them all, not just the beautiful goldfinches.
And one day, Katie, you’ll give the same gift
to someone you love.

- - -
In 1996, when I was stricken with Lou Gehrig’s disease, my ability to speak was taken away by this disease. I found poetry had a special capability to express my innermost feelings. By losing my physical voice, I found my poetic voice.

42 Days In

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Contributor: Alyssa Trivett

- -
Sunday morning and Wednesdays
I want to drag their sunrises
through a pasture
and poke the days with sticks
until night finally settles in.
And the clock ticks stop
merry-go-rounding about.
I have your voicemails
and your hat,
a car and your watch,
and pets.
I carry your spirit,
like a soldier with a flag
since some days,
that's all I have.

- - -
Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul. When not working two jobs, she scrawls lines. Her work recently appeared in Carcinogenic Poetry.

Twisted Slumber

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Contributor: John MacKinnon

- -
Gradually they neared us
Dark clouds of rising rinse
Reciprocating madness
The scene still makes me wince

Blue bolts of liquid lightning
The thunder boomed her bane
A combo oh so frightening
Soothing only the insane

An oak raced through my vision
Tore up and tossed as grain
A locomotive rumble
To permeate my brain

Now up and gone I travelled
Caught up in natures' wrath
Not knowing where I'd eject
Upon the twisters path

And in an instant calmness
Awakened on the sea
The storm that drenched my dreaming
Had only twisted me

- - -


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Contributor: Joseph Gordon Wilson

- -
Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.
—Albert Einstein

We lovers lie here this fall evening,
followers of a religion based on weather forecasts.
Our eyes flash like an ocean of fish.
The water’s slow dance creates Grand Canyons.

Shining through the flattened perspective of a pyramid of tree leaves,
a veil of green tears
rips at the light that catches the halo of the ice moon,
shining a moon bow on this fallen night.

Yet, we continue,
undeterred by happenstance,
like lies told to us as children to delude us as adults.
We commit to each other and are not sent away.

We peer into a cathedral of trees,
steeple tops pointing us into the ether,
a landscape of clouds.

Wind tingles through our spread fingers
like lightning rods, absorbing both
the strike of lightning
and the pounding of thunder.

We grow into our love,
from the gravity of Earth.

We ride the trance.
The moan of our lifting bond
pierces the blue evening range,
into the orange heart of a harvest moon.

- - -
Joseph Wilson lives in the Seattle area. He recently earned an M.F.A. in poetry from Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, where he had Carolyne Wright and David Wagoner for poetry professors.


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Contributor: Milton P. Ehrlich

- -
Who has time to eat?
Ravenous for feeling alive,
I leap out of bed
at the first ray of light
to catch the rising sun—
see as many falling stars,
Northern Lights
and rainbow omens
that I can see,
and delight
in toddler’s laughter—
let alone all the books
I haven’t yet read.
And don’t forget
the touchesand caresses—
the magnificence
of creativelovemaking—
there’s still positions
in the Kama Sutra
I wanted to try,
and countries to visit,
seas to sail,
bubbly prosecco sips,
honeysuckle sniffs,
and music—
don’t get me started—
I’ll be blowing my trumpet
instead of ringing the bell
when I reach the elegant door
to the world beyond.

- - -
Milton P. Ehrlich, Ph.D. is an 85-year-old psychologist. A Korean War veteran, he’s published numerous poems in periodicals such as "Descant," "Wisconsin Review," "Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow," "Toronto Quarterly Review," "Christian Science Monitor," "Huffington Post," and the "New York Times."


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Contributor: Jim Zola

- -
powder that is crusted on the surface
drifting still remembered forgotten
that falls in large wet flakes that falls in small flakes
melted and refrozen marked by wolves
marked by man blowing packed down in beards
melted mixed with mud mixed with husky shit
crusted on top but soft underneath
that looks blue in the early morning
between your fingers or toes little balls
that cling to fur drifted indoors slush
the idea mounded on dead bodies
that never reach the ground shaken down
from objects in the wind shaken down
and then mixed with sky-falling angels
that looks like it's falling upward
that makes halos sparkling with sunlight
sparkling with moonlight sparkling with headlights
mixed with breath night falling on water drifts
containing the imprint of crazy lovers
swirling that drives you nuts that blinds you
that can be sculpted into the delicate
corsages in the mouth that hides the whole
village drifts you fall into and die
avalanche that burns your scalp and eyelids
glazed with ice ordinary outside
my door where the world has melted

- - -
Jim Zola is a poet and photographer living in North Carolina. He currently works as a children's librarian. He has done lots of other stuff too.


| Filed under

Contributor: Aureane Roullier

- -
The sun is blazing
I feel it burning my skin
Mirages hazing
Tongue stuck to my lips
What a thirst for adventure
On lemonade sips
Now I feel alive

The rain is falling
I dance in these cloudy tears
The world is stalling
The return of heat
It is but a small raincloud
That brought joy to meet
Now I feel alive

The wind is blowing
It caresses my sun skin
Seeds have been sowing
A beautiful summer day
In reds and yellows
Now I feel alive

Now I feel alive
In petals of roses bloomed
Now I feel alive
In greens of blues and yellows
Summer, now I feel alive

- - -

A Gift Logic Can’t Buy

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
My boss has a problem with God
or rather a problem with me
because I believe in God
and he doesn’t.
Or so we discover
while taking a break
at a big convention.
I hope I don’t lose my job.

We’re in a bar with Lady Gaga
pouring from the juke box.
My boss has a whiskey sour
and I’m nursing a Coke.
God help me.

He doesn’t believe
faith is a gift no one’s
guaranteed but knows
some folks have it
and others don’t.
Why is that, he asks,
finishing his sour,
signaling for another.

I tap into memories
from philosophy class
and recite the proofs
for the existence of God
some folks accept
and others deny.
My boss sees the logic
but still doesn’t believe.
So I sip my Coke and say
faith is a gift logic can't buy.

A few more drinks and he asks
what a man must do
if he wants to believe.
Ominous, I think, but here goes.
My wife, after all, has a job
with benefits.

I tell him to ask the God
he doesn’t believe in
to grant him faith.
Ask Him more than once
and if he receives it
he will be amazed
that someone
like me believes.

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

Six Months After

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Contributor: Dante Giugliano

- -
The smell of cold washed over our bodies
as my cousin and I sat on the roof in the rain.

The trees were mountains
but we loomed above them,
giants of an endless world
saying nothing and everything
in the language of family.

we lifted our faces to the sky,
for we were children and could still pretend
that the rain would bathe us clean
of the months before--

the funeral,
the So Sorrys,
the useless hugs which stopped
when they were needed most.

Side by side, we breathed the summer air
and inched towards morning.

- - -
Dante Giugliano is a high school senior. He lives outside of Boston.

Endearing Couple

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Contributor: Steven Jacobson

- -
the morning glory blossoms
as the storm gathers in intensity
while the love affair ignites
between the endearing couple.

the gale evolves,
as lovers radiate
a heart of harboring romance,
while intoxicating the soul.

the song of living in the moment
transpires the storm unleashes
a torrential downpour,
love soaring ever lasting.

the passion between two lovers
grows and culminates
in a beautiful rainbow,
even as the storm subsides.

the winds languish
in the aftermath of joy
and contentment between
Spirits melding as one.

- - -
In this book-length publication, poet Steven Jacobson strives to illuminate the glory of God the creator by examining and rejoicing the many wonders of nature, including our physical surroundings—the sky, the earth, a river—as well as the delight of children and other aspects of being human. His compositions feature both language and concepts that are at once accessible to all and inspirational. Ninety free verse poems dealing with Nature with a spiritual temperament and essence of the subject will be forth coming in this book Spiritual Realm.


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