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Contributor: Vaunna Fostertagg

- -
How deep do I have to dig
How deeply buried
is my sense of self worth
is my belief
that things will get better
that there is more
to strive for
just around the corner?

How many years
and acres of dirt
do I need to move
to find my solace
to find something greater
than the dull spread of hours
between work
and work

Maybe it breaks you
when you realize there's no gold
no matter how deeply you dig
maybe you lose something
some sense of hope
held only by children
and the naive
who say they know
there's got to be gold
in all this cold
and endless

- - -
Florida native with a heart of gold, sometimes.

Rushing Windmills

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Contributor: Uralave Minsraim

- -
Antlers and windmills
hit one
while rushing at the other
the giants of lore
were nothing more than shadows
hungry meats
thirsty rivers
the weight of it holds you back
but still you run
as if against a wind
as if against a mighty wind
the wind of mighty arms
with a wall of stone
just behind

- - -
I go from one meeting to another in an endless chain of absolute importance.


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Contributor: Dee Allen

- -
My soul remembers

The rejection
From public life
My ancestors
Must've felt
In the distant past,
The bug-a-boo status
They've known
And the new
Incoming migrants
Border patrol or none
Border wall or none
Know now--

Back then, all

Laundries, dry cleaners, nightclubs, hotels,
Bars, restaurants, hospitals, clinics, schools,
Libraries, grocery stores, clothing shops, homes,
Bank loans, jobs, barbers, boneyards

Were open and available for everyone's use.

Unless you were Black.
W: 6.29.18

- - -
African. Italian. Poet.

You Never Change

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Contributor: Edward Carl Xcenia

- -
You leave
but you linger
you always linger
you watch
when I don't want you to
ignore me
when I wish you wouldn't
like you know
like you've always known
just how to cut me
most deeply.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss you
or your knife
or your hate
or your lies
or all the words
you cut me with

I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish
it was you
I could wake up next to
in all your glory
in all your youth
all you once had
all the health and glee
we shared
when the sex was easy
and often
and you wanted
more than I could ever give

I'd be lying if I said I didn't pine
for even one word from you
for even one lie
for even one drip of something
to show I meant more to you
than the trash you left me with
the trash you left me for
the trash you made
of everything wondrous
we ever had

I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope
you might see this, read this
but I know you won't
and wouldn't say anything
even if you did

because you've always loved hurting me
you've always loved taking more
than I could ever give

You never change
I don't know why
I keep expecting you to.

- - -

The Beach

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Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
Amid the rain and thunder
she's walking without shoes
She's wandering the beach
alone in search of clues

She wants to know in life
what is true and not
She wants to be thankful
for everything she's got

But something makes her sad
and she cannot understand
Why she feels the need
to hold somebody's hand

Why she can't be happy
just being with herself
Why it's not enough
taking care of just oneself

- - -
A Native New Yorker, I've been writing poetry for as long as I can remember. It is my hope that someone may find solace in my words.

A Special Warmth

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
It’s overcast and rainy

But I feel a special warmth

A warmth from above

A warmth inside

As if the sun were shining

For me alone

- - -
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 rescued Australian Shepherd, Daisy. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his wife, dancer/actress, Lydia Franklin.


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Contributor: J. L. Smith

- -
Together, we walk over rock covered paths,
one foot at a time,
careful to land our feet
like our tongues,
along the uncharted path.

Sometimes my foot slips,
my ankle twists.
You used to catch me,
but now you allow me to stumble.

Your arms cup around me,
bringing me to you,
until you look around to see who is watching,
then you release me.

We leave the path exhausted,
one foot ambling after another,
in different directions.

- - -
J.L. has published two collections of poetry: Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments. Follow her on Twitter @jennifersmithak


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Contributor: Dee Allen

- -
Black lives
Don't matter
To the C.O.
Walking the cell-block.

Black lives
Matter less
To the salty
Beat-cop patrolling the 'hood, squadcar on prowl.

Black lives
Don't matter
To the vigilante
Bigot gone hunting for heads darker than his.

Black lives
Matter less
To sharp steel

Insane wrath thrust
Into young
Necks on
A subway train platform.

One female left wounded. Her sister
Never saw past 18.

MacArthur B.A.R.T.
Past sundown:
Gleaming candles, flowers & photos,
Altar formed over concrete.
People, victim's family gathered
Among blaring Hip-Hop tracks
And wall projections of little

Light-skinned Nia
In happier times, the
Look of another adolescent
In love
With life

Demanded a justice for her
None of them knew.

Protect your necks.
Protect each other,
Little sisters
And brothers.
W: 7.24.18
[ For Nia Wilson--2000-2018. ]

- - -
African. Italian. Poet.

Better Than What Never Was

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Contributor: Kendra R. Grosfelt

- -
He'd stand on the corners
He'd watch for me
He'd smile
at my smile
reach for me

but I was always gone
I was always too quick
always lost
in someone else's arms

he saw it all
he fumed in silence
he tore at himself
he hated himself

and I screamed at him
and I told him I'm not his
and I told him I'm not an object to be won
I'm not something to be stolen
and he seemed to understand
though the rage would come back
the need
over and over again

It's been so long
but he sees it now
he sees me for me
and we're free
we're both free

He's found his perfect match
and finally killed his crush
for me.

- - -


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Contributor: Nancy Botta

- -
4 a.m. woman
with too many bruises
and not enough suitcases,
she marches
through the bus depot
(children and pomegranate seeds
trailing behind her)
carrying everything
and the world on her back,
she hopes this time
is the last time she has to fight
over her expired voucher
for a one way ticket out of hell.

- - -
Nancy Botta lives in Berwyn, Illinois with her husband, son, and cat. She works for corporate America and has been previously published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Soft Cartel, Ariel Chart, Three Lines Poetry, Furtive Dalliance, and Haiku Journal.

Against My Battered Door

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Contributor: Joseph G. Longan

- -
Give me a dream of something holy
give me a dream of something right
a dream of dancing
of those I've lost
of those I've come to know
as I've reached
into the unknown.

Give me a dream of something sacred
give me a dream of something bright
give me a pair of arms to fall into
a web of midnight need
to hold me
through every fire
through every storm
until there is nothing left
until there is nothing
to blow against my battered door.

- - -

Golden Grapes

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Contributor: Barry B. Belmont

- -
Mountain madness grips me
the scream of swine
I howl fire
I howl ice
I howl the will of mine
I make all before me
part and open
and I'm amid the green
and I'm standing in handfuls
of grapes and gold
of glory
and all that I've ever asked for
resting well
in my shaking arms.

- - -
All that is holy, all that is free, is me.

Those Days

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Contributor: Delvon T. Mattingly

- -
It’s just one of those days, you say,

Till you repeat this every day.

It’s just one of those days,

And your apathy bleeds,

Into everything you create.

One of those days,

And your depression,

It fails to go away.

Those days,

End it now,

You say.

- - -
Delvon T. Mattingly, who also goes by D.T. Mattingly, is an emerging creative writer and a PhD student in epidemiology at the University of Michigan.

The Music of Time

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
The music of time

Remains frozen

Drifting like snowflakes

Across the Himalayas

Waiting for dancers

To unlock the mystery

A simple Pas de deux

Lyrical and elegant

Filled with the joy

Of lovers

Joined by a thread


But never touching

Until the final moment

As the music of time

Transports their reality

Into one

- - -
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 rescued Australian Shepherd, Daisy. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his wife, dancer/actress, Lydia Franklin.

Ancient Paradox Alive Today

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
After two thousand years
we still have folks
who blame the Jews

for killing Christ even though
Pilate the Gentile could have
let him go and kept Barabbas.

This would have meant
no crucifixion, no resurrection.
Heaven’s gates would still

be closed—perhaps forever,
thus making it impossible
for anyone to blame the Jews

for doing what they had to do
for Heaven’s gates to open.
And those who blame the Jews

would still be waiting for a Savior
the way the Jews await the Messiah
they believe will come.

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

Those Doors

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
I can tell you
what’s behind those doors.
As you walk down that
familiar unfamiliar hallway.

Inside, there are rattles, dancing
roaches, and old lines. Gossip
makes a merry way around.

I can tell you the faces
to trust. The words to watch out
for. It’s all blurry.

People can be kind in one
instant and ravenous in another.
They are territorial and misguided.

They can also be lovely, like
gems tucked away. It’s too much
advice, perspective, momentary

Best to be quiet
and let the moon roll over
I suppose.

- - -
I have new book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, just published and available at Amazon.


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Contributor: Q.R.V.L.

- -
Touch the stars, young one
Reach out and ride
ride the hailstone path
and be
be among all that glory
with me
the mother who was
the mother who is
the mother you know
whose fire burns
in your divine sky blood.

- - -
I sit alone and ponder how the molecules in my body were manufactured freely in some patient generation of stars.

Nightswimmer Junior, Private Colossus

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Contributor: Todd Mercer

- -
It’s not as issue of bravery or fighting against fear
when Nightswimmer Junior crosses open water.
She acts out of resolution. Picks a stretch
and next she’s doing it. Sometimes she’s too winded
by the time she hauls up on the far shore,
but that’s the life-wish in action. The triumph
of the urge to Be Here Now over any notion
rooted in self-destruction. When it’s over
and she’s back home, she smiles from knowing
what’s she’s managed out there. That satisfaction expands
because her swims are off or under the radar. Or sonar,
she refines, staying off the underwater scanner.
Floating it. She’s a colossus who disguises herself
as an average person during daylight. A fish
that looks so human no one’s checked for gills.

- - -
TODD MERCER was nominated for Best of the Net in 2018. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent work appears in Literary Orphans, The Magnolia Review, Praxis and Zero Flash.


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