Contradiction

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
Contradictory,
you say, but of course.

I am a series of contradictions.

My opinions are constructed
of an elephant graveyard of my
experiences and biases.

Awareness of self leads to a notion
of a pastiche. We are as many and multitude
as the fragments light reveals we
have been breathing all day.

It begs the question:
What qualifications make an other
the arbiter of what’s right? I reserve

the right to be absolutely contradictory
to the point of incoherence. Making sense
to others is not my reason for being.

Who is in the circle that most speaks
to our lives? 


- - -
My new book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, is available from Dreaming Big Publications.

Bare Feet and Broken Shoes

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Contributor: Brittany Alaine

- -
There’s a price to pay being a wandering soul.
Seeing thousands of faces yet always alone.
Shiny watches and glistening boots,
Was not the life that I chose to choose.

I stare down at the rags I’ve worn,
The fabric faded and slightly torn.
My boots old, ugly, and battered
From the search of things that truly matter.

Bare feet and broken shoes,
That’s the life I chose to choose.

Raindrops on a tin roof.
The next adventure I’m going to do.
The simple pleasure of being close to you.
Those are the things I look forward to.

Not cellphone updates or selfies that are fake.
Living a life of the give and take.
Running from my mistakes.
Taking the world on my shoulders and buckling under the weight.

I refuse for that to be my fate.

So, here’s to life and to saying yes.
For taking the leap and forgetting the rest.
For being the person, you were meant to be
By living a life of simplicity.

Bare feet and broken shoes,
Winding roads and the choices you choose.


- - -
Brittany Alaine currently is living in the countryside of Hanover, Germany, where she is teaching English as a foreign language and working on her travel and lifestyle blog outlining her life abroad as a recovering alcoholic.

White Light

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Contributor: Susie Gharib

- -
In Memory of George Michael

In Mill Cottage was a room with a view
with only one viewer though meant for two,
but then London lured not his tunes,
he had to ingratiate his muse
with the sap of his own wounded soul.

The tinsel of his song, so translucent in the Christmas lore,
why did he have to die on the same day his music was born?
Why did he succumb to the White Light he had previously scorned?
Are apparently not to be known.

A man adored by millions had only a bed to console.
He died without a single smile to see him Through,
though to millions he had smiled like Jesus to the born
and the unborn.

In a Precious Box, he kept his rosaries and cross,
and though he argued with God
he was the kindest man ever born,
‘For he prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.’


- - -
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ink Pantry, and Mad Swirl.

Friday

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Contributor: Joanna M. Weston

- -
I take today in my hand
turn it sideways
to stretch but it remains
stoic unchanged dour

a banal day armed with clichés
idle gossip and poor coffee
a day that leers through windows
refuses to laugh at good jokes
turns its back on roses
prefers to watch cars not sparrows
and claims not to comb its hair
not my favourite day


- - -
JOANNA M. WESTON. Has had poetry, middle readers, and short stories published for thirty years. Her poetry, ‘A Bedroom of Searchlights’, published by Inanna Publications of Toronto.

To Go Forward

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
Going backward to go forward
Finding my true identity
The hidden core
That represents my reality
Overgrown with twists and turns
Carrying me in wrong directions
Swimming upstream
Pummeled by the surf
Battered by rapids
Working on goals
That seemed long forgotten
But only frozen by cryogenics
Waiting in the wings
Hoping to be rediscovered
Looking in the mirror
To another dimension
Past the vortex
That remains transitory
Fleeting moments pointing the way
To look backward
And go forward


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, articles and a screenplay His nearly one-hundred-fifty works are published in magazines, over twenty-five on-line journals, thirty books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

Unity In Diversity

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Contributor: Sheshu Babu

- -
The world of dark
Precedes sunlight
The color black
Complements white

Joys and sorrows
Run throughout yesterdays and tomorrows

Anything that takes birth
Faces certainty of death

Good and bad have thin threads that join
Like two sides of the same coin

Even in the gloomy hour of pessimism
One can find a glimpse of optimism

Past mistakes help in future corrections
Balancing diverse thoughts and united opinions.


- - -

Snowdrops

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Contributor: Ingrid Bruck

- -
bejeweled soil
black frozen bare
in dead winter

brings gifts
scattered by wind
watered by sleet

sunlight unfolds
strands of green
topped by ice tears

flowers appear where
none grew before
wind blown light

cold January
white sparks
burn in the dark


- - -
Ingrid Bruck’s current work appears in Poetry Breakfast, Better Than Starbucks, Otata and Failed Haiku. Her debut chapbook, Finding Stella Maris by Flutter Press was released this year. Poetry website: www.ingridbruck.com

Phantom Lover In The Night

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Contributor: H.L. Dowless

- -
Darkening clouds up in the sky,
tempest coming by tonight,
rain shall fall in harmonious delight,
wind will blow with all its might.

Lightning flash and blue fire fly,
a presence looming closely by,
her face materializes in the light,
my heart is racing with great fright.

A phantom breath now breathes near mine,
this terror causes me to lose track of all time.
Unseen lips taste of strong rose wine,
yet her midnight body feels just fine.

I throw my arm upon her, but feel only empty air,
she is still there I do thee swear,
both of her legs open upon my thighs,
yet empty air still gives great surprise.

Thunder rolls to rattle my house top above,
while this phantom and me make passionate love,
our bodies rising in dim light,
I try to please her until the feeling is right.

Her face appears beneath me as the blue fire glitters,
down my spine her beauty sends shivers,
this phantom queen now in my bed,
who speaks to tell me we soon shall be wed.

Her voice does ride upon the wind,
unto the devil my soul she endeavors to send,
for this abominable sin I did commit,
with this spectrum woman from the Zargos summit.

Our shadows dance upon the wall,
as blue fire flashes to reveal all,
we roll and tumble through the night,
this spectrum queen or wicked wight.

Morning sun finds me not so well,
she once lay beside me, I can tell.
My bleeding heart cries upon my bed,
for this mysterious Scythian queen unto whom I shall
soon be wed.


- - -

Howl For The Wolves

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Contributor: E.S. Wynn

- -
Howl for the coming of the sun
howl for the death of the year
howl for Her, howl for Him
howl for the shepherds of the stag
who chase the sun
to keep it in the sky.

Howl your animating breath
howl like the roarer, the shrieker
howl for the ones who came before
howl into the starry void
and echo liminal love
off the bilrost lights
of that starry bridge
that bears the feet of the dead
that path of birds
that and back
to the fertile earth below.

Howl for the living
howl for the dead
howl knowing there is no difference
in the end.
for wolves walk beneath our feet
knowing every echo is an echo of the whole
and even the starry mill
and the windswept tree above
bend for no one
but bend on evermore
echoing eternally
with the varðlokkur of wolves.


- - -
E.S. Wynn is the author of over 70 books in print. He maintains a main author blog at: www.eswynn.com

Brain on Caffeine

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Contributor: Mark Tulin

- -
The man is hard at work
in his private office
that has free internet;
the first available table
in a coffee shop.

He doesn’t have a home,
roams around in a clunky van
with his canine sidekick
and expired license plates.

He wears a short sleeve shirt,
a pair of bifocals put together
with homemade pins,
and the same PF Flyers
from when he was sixteen.

He slurps his coffee
between agitated scribbles;
dots and dashes
on a sputtering laptop
from the Middle Ages.

He scatters his mess
on the little square table.
Pages and pages
full of random numbers,
scratch outs, and erasures.

He seems busy
in an odd sort of way
with a furrowed brow,
a high forehead
and a brain on caffeine.


- - -
Mark Tulin is a former family therapist who lives in Santa Barbara. He has an upcoming book of short stories entitled, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories.

No Airs

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Contributor: Susie Gharib

- -
He bows at every smile
he wordlessly illumines
upon her reticent mouth.

He puffs no arrogance into the air,
never hums or whistles down the stairs,
has never endowed her skirts with smirks,
or wryly grimaced at outlandish ways.

He only eats when hunger stirs
and sips his drinks without any slurps,
never darts his tongue, never slurs his words,
or blurs their meanings so as to impress.

He'll woo the woman whose wit never wanes,
whose aesthetic essence never dims with age,
whose unflinching strength is an intrinsic trait,
whose love and passion are not on parade.


- - -
Susie Gharib is a graduate of the University of Strathclyde with a Ph.D. on the work of D.H. Lawrence. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in multiple venues including A New Ulster, Crossways, The Curlew, The Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ink Pantry, and Mad Swirl.

The Rain Tree

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Contributor: Cynthia Pitman

- -
The rain tree showers you
with her yellow flowers,
and, like her branches, your arms
stretch high and wide
while the flowers fall
from your silhouette,
as the two of you sway
to the wind’s violins –
perfect lovers
in perfect rain.


- - -
I am a retired high school English teacher. I began writing again this past summer after a 30-year hiatus. My first book of poetry, “The White Room,” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

Remains

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Contributor: Suez Jacobson

- -
Shards of life.
Fingernail clippings in the sink.
Blood washed down.
Body, dirt in process.
How will I remember?
These specks, concrete.
Too small to fill potholes of despair.
Sharp slivers, widening infection
In body-soul chasm?
Intangible
Shapeless, weightless memories
Linger, anguish, languish.
Sunny,
Horrific.
Neither willed away.
None neatly trimmed.
Metal snaps.
No scraps.


- - -
A poet in the making... maybe

The Romance of Home

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
For some
Any place they hang their hat is home
For some
It isn’t physical
It’s metaphysical

There’s an essence
Intangible, unimaginable
Indescribable, but real

For every cliché in column A
There’s a single word in column B
Home

Travel and transience
Can never subjugate
The pull
The allure
Of the quintessential

And as the song says
A house is not a home
And the greatest love of all
Will yearn in tandem
For the romance of home


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, articles and a screenplay His nearly one-hundred-fifty works are published in magazines, over twenty-five on-line journals, thirty books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

An Errant Doubt

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Contributor: Joanna M. Weston

- -
my shadow stretches
like a doubt
reaching for certainty
given by this body
yet reaching for another

ready to touch
a different answer
not one easily given
as it moves over curbs
cars blind lamp-posts

finds resolution
in lights from a café
and spills itself
into coffee
and a friend’s ears


- - -
JOANNA M. WESTON. Has had poetry, middle readers, and short stories published for thirty years. Her poetry, ‘A Bedroom of Searchlights’, published by Inanna Publications of Toronto.

Vested Interest

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
I’ve taken my interest
and given it a lovely corduroy
vest. There now, so dapper.

What a gentleman gesture.

It’s not that I’m disinterested.
In fact, the opposite. I have made
my curiosity as appealing as possible.

Just as we often play the actor,
practicing our lines in the rear-view
mirror. Shaping our mouth just so we

will be found human too, found
acceptable in another’s sight. An Other
who is practiced just like us.

Don't pretend you don't rehearse.

Dressing lively details up
like a lineup of dolls.

It sounded so much better in the car.


- - -
My book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, has recently been published by Dreaming Big Publications.

The Party Girl

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Contributor: H.L. Dowless

- -
I don’t know the reason,
I simply can’t tell why,
I’ll love you like I do ‘til
the day that I die.

I’m gonna spin it,
like a wheel,
where it stops I guess,
will be my deal.

You always go out,
to hit the town,
nobody knows when the party will stop,
but when it does, everything is already shut down.

You’re seldom sober,
you stagger round,
you only try to get up when you’re
plastered on the ground.

You’re headed for disaster honey,
you’re going down,
it will no longer be funny
when nobody is around.

I got you out of jail last night,
they had you locked down,
that place was filled with rage and fright,
the psycho beside you was dressed like a clown.

I don’t know where you’re headed honey,
but I’m going to hit it big,
affiliate marketing is getting me there,
money is coming in from everywhere.

You’re a loser baby,
and so is that man you’re running with,
everybody is saying that you’re a shady lady,
you’re as fickle as the sands that drift.

Well I don’t need you any more,
you’ll ne’er change,
this world has so much more in store,
so I am catching the next plane.


- - -
H.L. Dowless is an international ESL instructor. He has been an author for over thirty years. His latest publications were with the traiditional publishing company, Algora Publishing, and the online and print magazines; Leaves Of Ink, Short Story Lovers, The Fear Of Monkeys, and Frontier Tales.

Planet Earth

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Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
This Planet Earth of ours cries in pain
Perhaps because we take her in vain
Who's to say how long she'll keep
Sadly true, her wounds run deep
Where will the children of tomorrow be?
No animals, water or even a tree
Innocent animals we know and love
are going extinct - no hope from above
Contaminated waters - pollution and more
the damage is done straight down to the core
Evergreen trees protecting everyone
providing oxygen and shade from the sun
For us they grow and weather withstand
Their survival depends on this earthly land
Respect Mother Nature and Planet Earth
Show her the meaning of her worth
Open your eyes - the expected is here
annihilation and all that we fear
The Human Race and greed are to blame
The world will end; what a crying shame


- - -

The Vase

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Contributor: JL Smith

- -
was beautiful.
Red, filled with flowers
you don’t normally receive.
Daisies mixed with lilies,
other flowers the florist
had on hand that day.

You touch them,
the lilies silk smooth
like a touch on a shaven cheek—
something you haven’t felt in so long.
Soft, like a child’s hand—
something else you haven’t felt in so long.

You know who they are from.
You know why you received them,
a celebration that comes on the 14th day,
but the sentiment felt odd
since love had grown cold,
fading,
ailing,
like the floral arrangement,
long after the feed packets are gone,
water is changed out,
its life cycle complete.

Faded,
discarded,
forgotten after its demise.


- - -
JL Smith lives in Odenton, MD. She is the author of two books of poetry, Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments, Weathered Souls.

I Am the Tide

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Contributor: Roshni Edwards

- -
I am the tide, indecisive by nature
Shall I choose to remain steady and safe on shore?
Or allow the sea to introduce me to worlds unknown
The steady rocking of my mind all but brings me comfort

I am a reflection of the heavens above
My waves so easily persuaded by the wind and earth
Sculpted as a fragment of the grand artwork
The moon guides my unstable waters

I am drawn to the light hovering above my current
Escaping the fiends that dwell in the shadows
The truths I can’t bear to face
I yearn to escape but they unfailingly lure me back

I am the guardian of the reef
Protecting what I love and relentlessly holding on
Never neglecting my genesis
But always mindful of my present


- - -
Roshni Edwards is a 17-year-old senior currently attending Cerritos High School. She enjoys playing soccer with her school's varsity girls soccer team as well as her outside club soccer team. She also enjoys singing and several other forms of artistic expression including painting and poetry.

Yellow

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Contributor: Summer Crandell

- -
Your warmth,
Feels similar to the Sun herself.
It wraps its welcoming arms around me.
And although you sometimes burn me, you keep me warm.
Its tone is that of a bumble bee.
Your wings hum a tune of rhythm and peace .
You bring my radical, racing heart to a rest,
but sometimes I can feel your sting.

I used to hate it though,
yellow;
hated how ugly it looked.
Even though it was everywhere, I never quite saw it,
or maybe,
I just never noticed it.

Since I’ve met you I now see it.
I see it everywhere.
I see its ecstatic golden smile on the face of an elderly woman.
I see its licked fingertips on crumpled pages,
on the book that’s never put down,
I see it in you.
How you describe it.
How it makes you feel.
I too feel how yellow makes you feel, however
You are my yellow.


- - -
Summer Crandell is a firm believer in the “butterfly effect”, and believes that everything in life has a result larger than we can anticipate.

Home

| Filed under

Contributor: Cynthia Pitman

- -
When they ask where I am,
tell them I went kayaking –
meandered downriver
seeking the hidden cove
arched with water oaks
dripping their gray Spanish moss.
Tell them I’ll stay there,
eyes closed, mind clear,
in the cool air of this leafy cavern
until dark. Not until then
will I make my way back,
only to go there again and again
to find the roots of where I began.


- - -
I am a retired high school English teacher. I began writing again this past summer after a 30-year hiatus. My first book of poetry, “The White Room,” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

Waiting

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
Waiting is the hardest game in the world.
How does one pass the time?
How does one even know what they’re waiting for?

There are so many things to wait for;
Even for that e-mail that says
Yes to some unasked question.

Waiting for answers.
Waiting for responses.
Waiting, simply waiting.

Too many things.
Too many options.
Too many choices.

Issues that pile up.
Factors set in motion
Out of one’s control.

Hope that lingers
Just on the precipice.
Out there beyond,
But beyond what?

And still one waits.
And the waiting gets harder.
The answers that never come.
The sublimation of the tangible
To the reality of the inevitable.

Who knows?
Who cares?
Only the waiting matters.
Taking on a reality of its own.

Setting its own terms
Without regard.
Without feelings.
Without conscience.
Without knowing
That there’s another side.
Without knowing,
Or caring,
That anyone is waiting.

Only the waiting.
And the waiting gets harder.


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, articles and a screenplay His nearly one-hundred-fifty works are published in magazines, over twenty-five on-line journals, thirty books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

God’s Progress Report

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Contributor: Todd Mercer

- -
God in a convincing undercover outfit
walks the streets of this fair city, seeing all,
assessing progress and repair priorities.
He listens to prevailing chatter, perhaps asking
himself exactly what he hopes to accomplish.
Does he have the necessary people in key roles?
The job would be perfect for micro-managers,
but God (damn it) is a generalist. An ideas man,
a Creative type. God coined outstanding slogans
but his beings need a diplomat, an adult
in the room to appeal to. A just Justice would be nice.
They crave an honest economist. Seeing the city
without being recognized, God can speculate
what will work well on new banners. Sayings.
We could complain, point out dysfunction,
societal entropy. We could picture an idyllic existence
for all of us, if he had a knack for running things.
If he had a gift. It’s tough to even criticize the guy.


- - -
Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net by in 2018. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: A New Ulster, Clementine Unbound, The Lake, and Star 82 Review.

Forbidden Fruit

| Filed under

Contributor: Sajan Goyal

- -
Wise men say opposites attract,
fools fall for the forbidden fruit.
You and I are a pair, that’s a fact
But perhaps we are of the latter.

“Look to her”, I am told.
For whom the bell tolls.
But when I look to you,
I hope to find another.

Now I can’t sleep at night,
Thinking about you.
We have come to an end,
I question if I am your lover.

Keep this poem close,
For your eyes only
I think we should cut us short.


- - -
Sajan Goyal, when he isn’t at his local studio, can be seen on the athletic field providing first aid or making the players laugh with his sarcastic demeanor.

Desert Therapy

| Filed under

Contributor: Brian Rihlmann

- -
She hears the same old questions
my brain whispers in deep folds
as I drive her grey highways,
and gives me the silent treatment
like she always has,
like any honest therapist.

My tires grumble in protest,
and sometimes whine,
yet she keeps her vow.

Her only answers
are dust devils blowing
across an ancient seabed,
a mirage shimmering
like puddles on the road ahead,
vanishing at my approach,

and the curve of the horizon
beckoning like a wry smile
across her pale sunburned lips
I will never kiss.


- - -

Why We Write

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
We sit, we type
some might even say
we writers sometimes write

Observation,
contemplation
about the world we share
often daunting and painful
it is what writers bare

Our words - albeit true
are not always dark and bleak
we writers sometimes write
of love and the hope we seek

Why we write
perhaps we are not sure
for a poets heart
is nothing less than pure


- - -
A Native New Yorker, her poetry expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

Soles

| Filed under

Contributor: JL Smith

- -
Wet spring leaves fall from trees
weeping for three days.
Leaves I crushed,
walking in from the rain
that failed to clean me,
words drawn like swords
in last night’s duel still inside me.

Crushed,
like bay leaves on a wet counter,
they stick to my soles,
smearing pieces across the floor
long after the shoes were removed.

I tried to pick up the pieces,
but can’t, for what was crushed,
smeared,
is impossible to remove:
evidence I know I cannot hide;
evidence I know you will see.


- - -
JL Smith lives in Odenton, MD. She is the author of two books of poetry, Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments, Weathered Souls.

Rooted

| Filed under

Contributor: Alyzza Cipriaso

- -
Every day, the sun shines bright.
And here I am, wanting to face the light.
The warmth falls softly upon my face,
Making me smile, loving every place.

My bright yellow love soars high like a dove.
Wanting to shower all from above.
Wanting to be everlasting to you.
Wanting loyalty in everything I do.

You see my petals and my stem,
But you don’t know what’s beneath them.
I’ve learned to tolerate heat and pain,
Since my roots run deep and help me gain.

My yellow glow has so much power,
And I only grow stronger by the hour.
The sunflower I am will always grow tall,
High enough to watch and see all ‘til I fall.


- - -

Nightfall

| Filed under

Contributor: Cynthia Pitman

- -
Out of the dusk
walks the muse of the night
who gathers the darkness
and whispers a secret in its ear,
the secret of her handmaidens,
the stars,
who hide from the sun
but will dance for the moon,
diamonds sparkling
in a velvet black sky.


- - -
I am a retired high school English teacher. I began writing again this past summer after a 30-year hiatus. My first book of poetry, “The White Room,” is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

I am Makeup

| Filed under

Contributor: Summer Crandell

- -
I am makeup, I bring a smile to everyone's faces,
But God only knows how addicted those around me can get.
I enhance the beauty of everyone I touch,
Yet for that very reason I have become exploited.

I am used as protection, to help cover a lovers accidental hit.
I am used to help others appear happy, despite shielding puffy eyes.
I am used as therapy for those who feel they need me, to look better to him.
I am used. But at least I am loved.

Despite my soft appearance, I often seem to be too much-
Especially to those who don’t know how to handle me properly.
So to those who are yet to explore how potent I can be,
Look before you take on too much.

Once a blank canvas, my touch can create art never before seen.
Though art can’t often reach everyone,
I am content with being appreciated deeply,
Instead of needing to be accepted widely.


- - -
Summer Crandell is a firm believer in the “butterfly effect”, and believes that everything in life has a result larger than we can anticipate.

A Cup of Peppermint Tea

| Filed under

Contributor: Arlene Antoinette

- -
All cried out, we stood in a semi-circle
around mother’s hospital bed. Aunt
Lizzy and Uncle George with heads bowed, my
sister and I held hands; my father cradled
mom as she drew her last breath. Heartbreak
made statues of us, each one afraid to move
and disturb the stillness of her passing.

Documents signed, basic arrangements made,
we walked to the car; zombies dressed in our
Sunday best. The quiet of nature causing the weight
of the moment to almost break shoulders and wills.
Distant now the memories of earlier today
when we gathered in the kitchen, a surprise birthday
brunch in honor of my uncle.

It took twenty minutes for dad to start
the car, my sister and I almost leaping out
of our seats, shocked by the sudden roar of the
engine breaking through thoughts and tears.
On the radio, Billy Joel sang out that only the good
die young. No one had the strength to reach
out and change the station or maybe the sudden
truth of the lyrics rendered us paralyzed.
The ride home was a practice in endurance;
screams and moaning withheld.

Entering the house, mom called out to us from
every room: Her rose print scarf carelessly
dropped on the living room sofa. Her Italian
sandals with the broken strap, wedged between
the china cabinet and grand-father clock. In
the kitchen a checkered teacup still held half
a cup of her favorite peppermint tea.


- - -
Arlene writes poetry, flash fiction and song lyrics. She writes while looking out onto a backyard garden which she is growing very fond of.

"Soar!"

| Filed under

Contributor: Todd Mercer

- -
Class of 2019, you’ve put in 4 to 6 hard years of scholarship.
Today when you leave this university, it’s your time to soar!
But not too high or anything. That, young friends, is dangerous.
The results are unpredictable. So yes, soar, briefly. You’ll know
what flying feels like. But then find a safe landing field,
and stay on the ground. If you must, soar on holidays,
a few yards should be sufficient. Let’s not get crazy
and crack our newly educated noggins, because
we didn’t have the sense to wrap up a soaring session.
The world you graduates are going out into is busy
and ever-changing. Keep as much the same as possible.
I do. It obviously works for me, and my many businesses.
Don’t waste thought wondering if we can reform
our institutions. Those who go along with the current system
do the best and bang their heads least. The Complaints Box
empties into the trash receptacle. No, no one reads them,
there’s no action following. Welcome to reality!
Kids, I’m here to save you needless strife. Sure thing,
climb the tallest mountain, since it’s there in front of you.
If you wish to glide from the peak, glide. Soar a second,
but then catch a ledge. Get yourself to safety
and then file that day away. A nice memory.
Let some undisciplined nabob fly into the sun.
Tomorrow you’ll have to work. Hit the grind.
Congratulations, grads! Celebrate briefly.


- - -
Todd Mercer was nominated for Best of the Net by in 2018. His chapbook Life-wish Maintenance is posted at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in: A New Ulster, Clementine Unbound, The Lake, and Star 82 Review.

A Slow Walk To Nowhere

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
A slow walk to nowhere
A metaphor for life
Hills and valleys flatten
Amid the daily strife

Of drifting ever onward
The ending never clear
If today or if tomorrow
The last hurrah is here

Like walking the dog through raindrops
Pellets of water coating my head
Sniffing the ground for nothing
Or something being dead

Longing for resolution
Holding hands again
Yesterday’s tomorrows
In bed with us and then

Turning off the faucet
Of guilt and pain gone by
A chance that’s barely taken
Happiness worth the try

A faster walk to somewhere
Only the future knows
A happy life together
A restful night’s repose


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty-five books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

Learn Together

| Filed under

Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
Out on the lapping motion
of a summer lake, the teacher
spins another dream.

He’s where I learned about
Friere. And so many other names.

Reader of books, one who studies,
innovates, he presses forward
for fear of stagnation. Makes, creates.

Years ago, he might have been
something like a hippie, shaggy-haired
boatman with no need for a necktie.

Now, he is inviting: Let’s learn together,
soft voice, setting a stage in a room
on land or in this glistening ride.


- - -
My book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, has recently been published by Dreaming Big Publications.

Low Tide

| Filed under

Contributor: JL Smith

- -
Salt filled air,
heavy with humidity,
holding it all together,
like a water heater blanket.

My composure firm,
as long as the seagulls’ cries
don’t remind me of tears,
dead starfish,
how one decision could have such a fatal cost,
how a lifeless jellyfish could foretell
a future of one who stayed too long
in the wrong place.

I stand in silence
waiting for you
and the high tide
to sweep it all away.


- - -
JL Smith lives in Odenton, MD. She is the author of two books of poetry, Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments, Weathered Souls.

How Lonely We Get

| Filed under

Contributor: Brian Rihlmann

- -
On the sidewalk
a skinny, shirtless man
with matted black hair
dances with a blanket.

He holds it aloft
like a partner
as he shuffles and swings,
then twirls it
over his head,
around his body, criss-cross
like a fighting staff.

He hurls it to the ground,
jumps and stomps on it,
then drags it in circles,
before scooping it up,
draping it over his head
like a monk's robe.

A lover, partner,
enemy and friend,
it shadows him
in stained olive drab
as he roams the city.


- - -

Almost There

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
Am I almost "there"?
Is "there" an indication of personal success?
A win, a triumph, a place I must reach before a certain age
A point in time I will remember forever
Will I know when I've reached "there"?
Is it victorious,
The pinnacle
A culmination of a life's journey
Am I "there" yet?
The internal question I can't escape
A silent pressure to obtain status
What if I never reach "there"?
Am I a failure,
Will my existence be incomplete?
Perhaps "there" is nothing more then an illusion
never to be reached
Moving forward I contemplate;
Am I so far from "there"
that I don't know where "there" is?


- - -
A Native New Yorker, her poetry expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

I'm Still Here

| Filed under

Contributor: Marc Barcelos

- -
You’re gone now,
leaving behind only sorrow,
stealing away memories
we can no longer create.

You abandoned me
in the dark of my mind
to face the grim questions
which I dare not to ask.

You stole from me
dreams of our future,
as you took from yourself
what was not yours to take.

You impelled me
to realize that life
is a fragile blessing
many never truly appreciate.

You taught me
to hold onto those I love,
for we never know
who’s turn it may be next.

I’m still here,
left not only with sorrow
but also with an awareness
of life's irreplaceable worth.


- - -
Marc Barcelos is a certified band nerd. As one of the few people who obsesses over competitive marching bands tirelessly, it is impossible for him to deny this title. This claim is rivaled only by his self-proclaimed title as Back to the Future enthusiast, as he has seen all three movies 32 times and has memorized every single scene.

Tombs

| Filed under

Contributor: Jonah Carlson

- -
East of Hanoi, tombs of the nameless sprout.
They are weeds in a low field, stable
relics, signs of blades and lines paved
through fields trot still by strengthened soles.
They are dull memories, ones which fade like
the green colors of spring due at summer’s day.
I am only a June breeze who,
like the blessings of harvest, will be reaped—
yet I often wish not to have blown.
Suicide is not to be glorified
yet there are times I plead for the rest
born during the rainy season,
the mists of days run cold.
Why is it so hard to breathe if I am the wind?
They stand wielding astral wires,
chaining me to being. They are
untouched by the common scythes of life,
known, yet dismissed in a single breath.
They are my finale, a boneless movement
which sleeps in the haze of year’s end, calling.
They beg me not to fear, instead
to open my mouth and take life by the reins
screaming—
“One day—someday—there will be rest.”


- - -
Jonah Carlson is a seventeen-year-old student attending Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah. He will be a captain of the school's swim team during the 2019-2020 season and is planning on graduating in 2020. He hopes to pursue fields such as art, history, and creative writing during his college years.

Most Dangerous Animal

| Filed under

Contributor: Sheshu Babu

- -
Adults and children
Thronged the zoo
Teasing
Enticing
Appeasing
Animals enclosed
Confined to cages

Some spoke of bull-fights
And others of cock-fights
And human being fights
With enthusiasm
And reveling
While animals bore the torture

After enjoying throughout the day,
They flocked to see
A small box attached to the exit gate
With the sign:
Do not open this;
you will find
The most dangerous animal on Earth

Their enthusiasm grew
Along with increased curiosity

One by one
Opened the box
And shut it immediately

And walked away briskly
Without looking back


- - -

Every Day

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
Every day
Is another day
Golden moments
Empty moments
Passing time
Filled with
New meanings
Happy memories
Built on longings
Now replaced
With the satisfaction
Of a life delivered
Free from torment
Moving forward
On a raceway
Paved with roses
Floating through time
Making every day
Another day
To remember


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty-five books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy. Visit him at www.brucelevine.com.

Making the Change

| Filed under

Contributor: Jaide Lin

- -
On the first day of third grade, I was excited to go to school.
Rainbow-striped backpack in hand,
bouncing along the sidewalk in my old sneakers,
I ran to the classroom, looking around to find a friend.
A sea of unfamiliar faces stared back.

In a never-ending ocean of whispers and rumors,
judgments and nervousness,
blank faces laughed along to the same crude jokes,
the same rude remarks.
Bright rainbow stripes faded to gray.

On the first day of seventh grade, I was eager to go to school.
Shiny new markers and composition books in tow,
I fumbled through how-are-yous and introduce-yourselfs.
But these quiet words were snuffed out with silence,
like a flickering candle in the wind.

On the first day of ninth grade, I was nervous to go to school.
Unchanging expressions, empty gazes,
I was staring through a looking glass, leading to nothingness.

But a helping hand reached through,
warm words carried me out of the shrouded mist.
I realized how one moment of kindness could change a life,
a treasured ember that can grow into a glowing spark.
On the first day of my life,
I am now ready to make the change and do the same.


- - -
Seeking inspiration in biking adventures and nature trail hikes, I am an avid traveler and runner in my free time. Outside of writing, I enjoy spending my afternoons reading, swimming, or jogging. In addition, I also devote much of my free hours to painting portraits of my adorable beagle, Lucy.

What Can’t Be Saved

| Filed under

Contributor: JL Smith

- -
Beach at low tide retreats
when I approach,
heavy with blistered feet,
trapped in sand wells
I dig with each step.

Seagull jumps,
dodging waves,
crashing in a dance,
screeching like he can argue
with something that threatens
to take the life out of him,
but he does it anyway,
because he knows no better.

Slap!
Comes the wave,
bringing him down for a minute.
He shakes it off,
does it again.

Slap!
Waves’ hands press down,
for a moment,
to prove they weren’t kidding,
before the final wave smacks him on his side.

Gulls shriek in the distance
as waves pass over him.
He fumbles on with battered feet,
forever broken,
as I watch it all,
knowing that I can’t save him.


- - -
JL Smith lives in Odenton, MD. She is the author of two books of poetry, Medusa, The Lost Daughter and Weathered Fragments, Weathered Souls.

‘Til Kingdom Come

| Filed under

Contributor: Nisa Syed

- -
Amongst the multitude of competitors,
I run at my own pace,
Experiencing the obstacles of this path alone.

The course of my existence
Is as sudden as the utterance that
Plagues my mind.

I search for a message
To guide me into the known
And set me free.

I look into my mother's green eyes,
Anticipating a moment of
Consolation from my painful thoughts.

In my place,
I treasure the altruism
That sits peacefully upon my heart

Yet I cannot wait no more,
As I am as impatient than a
Flock of birds taking their flight.

I must rise up
To the challenges
That I fear.


- - -
Nisa Syed grew up listening to the stories in her father’s books. This enabled her to develop a keen eye for fiction, and a devotion for writing stories. The Wizarding World and Greek Gods became the center of her imagination, and inspiration for her future publications.

Boulders And Feathers

| Filed under

Contributor: Brian Rihlmann

- -
Among many other things
I’ve lost as I’ve gotten older,
is the ability to look back
on a particular time in my life:

an ugly breakup,
a ruined friendship,
getting fired from a job

and say,
“This is how it really happened”
with a young man’s strut
in my speech,
the inner scales of blame
tipped confidently,

the monstrous black boulder
of your misdeeds
resting comfortably
upon one side,
the white feather of my innocence
quivering on the other.

Or vice-versa.


- - -

Haikus

| Filed under

Contributor: Jenna Ono

- -
The sun is now gone
Clouds are rolling in the sky
Goodbye summertime

Blankets keep us warm
Since the sun is now away
December is here

Lily pads afloat
Fish wandering through the stream
Life is awakened

Going to the beach
The ocean breeze is chilling
Yet, the sun warms us

Five, four, three, two, one
Popping bottles of champagne
Yay, it's the New Year!


- - -

I Love You

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
I love sunrises and sunsets,
And I love a starry sky,
I love a yellow. moon,
Low on the curtain of night.
I love a sky so blue
That it makes the sun more bright.
I love the lightning and the thunder,
And the wind that bends the trees,
And I love the trees in every season,
Even when they have no leaves,
And I love candles in a darkened room,
And the tear brought forth from love.
I love laughter when it's from the heart,
Not hurting anyone.
I love the beauty that can be seen
In a single drop of dew.
But greater, by far, than all these things,
I love you...


- - -
Bruce Mundhenke writes poetry and short fiction. He lives in a small town in Illinois with his wife and their dog and cat.

Wild

| Filed under

Contributor: Stephanie Trinh

- -
The people around me like to live wild,
but that’s just not for me.
Instead, with a calm, cold exterior,
like a machine is processing,
all the action’s going on inside my head.

My thoughts and ideas like to run wild.
Seeking work for fun
like a predator seeks prey,
and in the quiet of night,
the imagination roams free, as I
ponder the unsolvable
and unanswered mysteries.

Though others can live
for the fun and the adventure,
I’ve found that at best
the only place I can be wild
is inside my own head.


- - -
Stephanie Trinh is a high school senior living in California who is planning to attend UC Berkeley. Since a young age, she has had an incredible interest in music, playing instruments ranging from the piano to the flute. When she isn't playing music, she enjoys putting her creativity towards writing.

Choices

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
Whatever happened to one?

One telephone company –
Ma Bell!
You picked up the receiver,
Attached by a squiggly wire,
And dialed the phone – literally.
You put your finger in the hole
For the number or letter;
Rotated the dial and back it came,
Rotating in reverse, and making that wonderful sound:
Ti-ka - Ti-ka - Ti-ka - Ti-ka - Ti-ka - Ti-ka - Ti-ka
Then the person on the other end answered
And actually said – Hello…
No lost calls – no breaking up…
Simply one –
And it worked.

Bleach is even more confusing.
If you wanted clean clothes
You went to the store and bought
Bleach.
You did have a choice –
Bleach or Bleach.
One!
It was easy
You picked up one bottle or the other –
Either one – they were both the same –
One!
Easy.

Today there are 7,826 ½ choices!
Bleach that smells like flowers;
Bleach that smells like fresh air;
(I’m not sure how that’s possible)
Bleach that’s like a cool, refreshing stream;
Bleach that spills and splashes;
Bleach that doesn’t spill or splash.
Bleach in colors –
Liquid – Solid – Powder…
Will there be decaffeinated bleach next?
(More about coffee another time)
I’m beginning to understand
Why people take drugs –
The bleach aisle alone is
Enough to torment the brain!

One was simple.
One was effective

Choices are nice
But better left for the
Wine list.


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty-five books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

Free at Last

| Filed under

Contributor: Melody Kwon

- -
Unaware of the scandalous affairs unraveling at home,
scarred heart and bruised thighs.
Never had a true family to call my own,
I lay down wondering what’s up in the skies.

Struggled to open the cap,
thirteen, fourteen, seemed about right.
Three, two, one, I’m falling into the Devil’s trap.
I lose my balance and everything turns white.

I wake up, and lights are flashing.
“Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.”
I touch the skies, then I'm falling,
it happens in a split second, life is a seesaw.

New foster parents and siblings,
but soon reunited with my mom.
Overwhelming wave of emotions,
I guess this is my freedom.

Constant nightmares.
Soul crushing guilt.
Felt constant stares.
From here I rebuilt.

I stand up, and speak up.
Shared my stories with others.
There’s no need for makeup,
I’m capable of showing my colors,

I am no longer ashamed
of the girl in the mirror.
I am no longer chained
by his reign of terror.

I never realized the strength I had,
or my drive to fight.
I like to say I got it from my Dad.
Love will have it’s breaks, but it will always reunite.


- - -

I Drink The Moon

| Filed under

Contributor: Aspen Duscha

- -
The moon was in my tankard,
It draped my room in pale silvery light.
It was a stone as smooth as butter,
Because Its craters were wore down by my coffee.
I stirred it,
it dissolved as though it were a sugar cube.
It was smoother then the finest cream,
And sweet as honey and as sticky too.
It had a hint of cherry,
But It was minty and cool.
It left me breathless,
I longed for more and more.
I plucked the stars like berries,
And they lay in my basket like pearls.
I drew from them savoury wine,
I stirred the nectar of heaven into a dreamy soup.
The sour stars I set aside,
Until I wanted some Borscht.
I boiled the sour stars,
They were just what my Borscht needed,
The stars added the sour to the pool of sweet.
I thanked the smoky night sky,
And wrapped it around my neck.
It was cloak of silk,
It was cold to touch but warm to wear.
The sun looked down and shrouded itself with a guard of clouds,
Becoming a celestial sphere of honey dotted with cotton.


- - -

Everything Is Better

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
A cascade of tears
for pains in the past
sadness pours from within
Beethoven soothes the heart

A bleeding soul
stabbed by love
weighted with regret
Mozart heals the wounds

A lifeless body
abandoned and bleak
falls from shattered dreams
Stravinsky awakens hope

Melodic overtures
avenging times of strife
tranquility ascends
Everything is better with music


- - -
A Native New Yorker, her poetry expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

The Burnt Match

| Filed under

Contributor: Cynthia B Pitman

- -
Careless, we make eye contact.
We instinctively look away.
We should listen to that instinct
and stop. right. there.
A connection, however brief,
is always too dangerous.
The spark from the static
of that split-second coupling
ignites a wildfire of ecstasy.
But this one quick breath of a bond,
this unexpected reckless consummation,
this blinding climax that sates
the ache of loneliness
that claws us raw inside
will ultimately consume us
as it consumes itself,
leaving nothing in its wake
but the cold ashes of isolation.


- - -
I am a retired English teacher. I began writing again after 30 years of teaching. My poetry collection, The White Room, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

Am I a Hero?

| Filed under

Contributor: Samuel Chanmany

- -
I was wanted they say.
Never too young to be drafted they thought.
The biggest feeling of regret I stressed.
A puppet amongst the millions.

Ready to die for a lie.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
I had that friend.
His name was called fear.

I intended to use it.
Until it turned against me.
Now it became my enemy.
There was no one to trust.

No one to love.
No one to call brother.
No one to call a friend.
Everyone was in Death’s hands.

Lurking through the lost jungle.
The heat breaking my sweat.
The rain covering my tears.
The mud blending with my skin.

Someone to write to.
The ink and the pencil fading.
Paper turning old as the days.
My will to someone at home.

I was supposed to fight.
But I trekked all throughout.
A broken promise told.
Time was not on my side.

The enemy blended with the greens.
No sounds from them.
This was their home.
The snap of a moment.
The heat of the bullets scorched.
Left, right, left, right.
Matched the number of bodies dead.
No burial for them.

The number of days counting.
It felt like an eternity.
The intensity was breathtaking.
When will I go?

Time to leave the jungle.
The cavalry came in.
But a part of me was missing.
A leg left for the enemy.

No purple heart for me.
A spit that drenched me.
This wasn’t my home.
Am I a hero?


- - -
Samuel Chanmany self-indulges in unlimited imagination with his trusted pencil or brush. From bringing drawings to life, to a self portrait with a animated donut, he creates a world in which all are welcomed to join it. In his reality, it is so often that he loses himself with brush strokes that create hues of strangeness and beauty which alternately paints him flying with cats on a canvas.

She Falls

| Filed under

Contributor: Arlene Antoinette

- -
She daydreams of taking a running leap
off the top of a daisy covered hill.
Cool air rushes up around her
pushing against her soft brown skin,
blowing her thick hair back, leaving
a trail of curly blackness floating in the wind.
She reaches out as she falls.
Her dropping away becomes flying
not like a bird, more so of an angel,
a dignified floating. With eyes closed,
she allows the whooshing wind
to erase her memory, the good, the bad,
and everything outside of the moment.
It all dissipates in the wind like white confetti
flowing through the air; numbing her emotions,
reversing her weaknesses.
A smile hesitantly blossoms across
her tear stained face.
She opens her eyes and falls out of misery
and into peace.


- - -
Arlene Antoinette writes poetry and flash fiction. She hopes to write some awesome science fiction in the near future.

When Love

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
When love
Transcends time, distance and space
And takes hold of two people
Brought together by destiny and fate
The universe is renewed

Golden threads
Stitch the planets into a ring
And Saturn gives up its rings
As baguettes to surround the diamond
That once was the sun

And then
The moons and the stars
Shine down on the love
Like a rainbow of light
Catching moonbeams in its path
In a spiral of sparkles
Like fireworks on the Fourth of July

When love
Is so strong that it can
Overcome all obstacles
And join two people
Like an umbilical chord
Gives life to a baby
And each
Nurtures the other
With their hearts and their souls
As love unites them
For eternity

When love
Is so strong that the past disappears
And only the future remains
To be seen among the stars and the planets
In a universe of their own


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty-five books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

I Am A Trumpet

| Filed under

Contributor: Lorenzo Ceja

- -
I am like a trumpet,
Cheering the loudest in the audience
And sticking out like a sore thumb.

I blend in with the rest of my class,
But my tone is different than theirs,
And even those like me because
I play a different part.

Here and there I may frack a note,
Or miss a part,
Be too ahead of myself
Or fallen behind the rest.

But I take a step back
In order to get back on track.

I am a leader like a trumpet,
I am compatible like a trumpet,
I am a trumpet.


- - -
I am a young inspired poet that is eager to make his first publication. I've been working on my skills for a few years and hope to improve and learn through publications and editors.

Reflexivity

| Filed under

Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
Through the small
round mirror into past
and present, I see a segment
rendered clearly. Thank you
for having me.

A refraction point, the image
of myself gazing back,
found like a toy prize in
another person’s set of tokens,
a box of shared memories.

This eye, this body,
traveling through undefined
space, in need of a velvet
rope to tether to the ground,

this vantage I call unique,
shared by many, documented,
cross-examined, defended,

metaphysically concrete,
constantly searching,
inevitably human and partial,
recounting the story of
another and yet myself.


- - -
My book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, has recently been published by Dreaming Big Publications.

Down That Street

| Filed under

Contributor: Phil Huffy

- -
I walked the old street last night
and found our former stoop now claimed
by other sweethearts.

The man was smoking. Well, the boy, really.
His squeeze seemed not to mind.

Mom told me, years back, and unguarded,
how attractive my dad had looked out in their skiff,
rowing away with a Camel in his mouth.

I don’t know if she regretted sharing that.

Quit smoking myself when they went to
a buck a pack.


- - -
Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table in Rochester, NY.

Boys Will Be Boys

| Filed under

Contributor: Isabella Fernandes

- -
In fifth grade, sexism was the dress code.
My spaghetti straps were “distracting”
And my shorts were too short.
They wouldn’t be able to focus,
But it wasn’t their fault.
Boys will be boys.

In eighth grade, sexism changed.
Catcalling was just a compliment,
I should’ve felt flattered.
Sexual harassment was the hormones,
But it wasn’t their fault.
Boys will be boys.

In eleventh grade, sexism changed.
Cornering me in the parking lot,
Following me to my car,
Groping me in the hallway,
But it wasn’t their fault, right?
Because boys will be boys.


- - -
From fiery noodles to deep fried macaroni, seventeen year old Isabella Fernandes has a passion for mixing seemingly incompatible ingredients and creating recipes that are both unusual and delicious. This unconventional mindset and curious spirit extends beyond the kitchen and is shown through her innovative e-commerce articles at Toolots Inc. Here, Isabella turns traditional marketing approaches into specialized techniques that can bolster the spontaneity and productivity of any business.

Leave of Absence (Summer, 1974)

| Filed under

Contributor: John P. Tretbar

- -
The donkey brays the morning sun at dawn.
The rest of us soon follow suit, in thrall.
The "hees" are always followed by the "haw,"
which then repeats a dozen times in all.

There's nothing left for us to do but wait
for bells of Mass however small and poor,
as Sister Mary Margret pulls the chain
and greets the local church mice at the door.

The sermon on the mysteries of God,
through patience, prayer, belief, and sacrifice,
seems lost upon the flock in this synod,
for they, each day, must pay an awful price.

With donkeys for alarm clocks, dirt for floors,
their lives forever guessing what's in store.

The mission in St. Lucia near Vieux Fort
still follows the church dictums and decrees.
But in jungle lurks another morte
as death-by-flatworm brings them to their knees.

The microscope reveals the tiny mutts,
the schistosoma living in the blood.
It eats their meals and then inflates their guts,
because of walking, shoeless, in the mud.

The scourge of poverty the enemy,
our gift of Praziquantel will be used
to kill the worms in their anatomy.
But what they really needed was some shoes.

The donkey brays another day at dawn.
The humans rise to get their prayers on.

Our education, first, to learn patois,
the Pidgin French of settlers long ago,
as early generations break the laws
of grammar, usage, style, and vertigo.

Then comes commitment to the chosen one,
a summer program born at Notre Dame.
It looks like a vacation in the sun,
but changes students as they change their names...

...to Sister Mary, soon to take their vows:
to chastity, and poverty, and God.
We sing a song of charity to you
as we return to study on the quad.

The donkey knows the score and brays its tune
each summer in St. Lucia late in June.


- - -
Retired journalist, musician, actor, age 63. Live in St. Joseph, Missouri, with my wife. Host poetry gathering at her coffee shop once a month. Self-publish work of fellow poets and anthologies from the best of the gatherings.

A Sense of Recognition

| Filed under

Contributor: Cynthia B Pitman

- -
A trampled scrap of paper
scoots with the wind across the dry dirt road.
On it are written someone’s last words.
They cannot be read.
The lines of the hand-scrawled letters
bend in the folds of the crushed paper,
mangling the words. To catch the paper,
smooth it flat, straighten the lines
and read the words is no more possible
than it would be to find the writer,
soothe her pain, and reshape her future
that is already past.
But the words are there.
No one need read them for them to be there.


- - -
I am a retired English teacher. I began writing again after 30 years of teaching. My poetry collection, The White Room, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books.

A Difficult Farewell

| Filed under

Contributor: Grace Zong

- -
I turned back and waved;
tears dripped down my face.
It was the hardest moment,
although you offered your condolence.

Moving so far away from you,
from the place that gave me déjà vu,
left behind my dearest peers
that I’ve bonded with for years.

But you gave me plenty of motivation
to achieve my goals and self satisfaction.
To me, you were the only reason
that I have grown so much this season.

Though you are no longer with me
to guide me to where I need to be,
I have finally discovered my way
to fulfill my life every single day.

It has already been five years,
and I have overcome all my fears.
Thank you, dad, for all that you have done,
for guiding me in the long run.


- - -
Grace Zong was forced to play the piano when she was little. However, she learned to turn it into a relaxing activity to convey her emotions. When her fingers are not flying over the keys, she can be found working with mathematical problems that help her understand the world better.

The End

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
There he sits day after day
Empty his eyes, they look away
Marriage perhaps is just too long
What once felt right now feels wrong

When she's gone will he wonder why
behind the scenes might he even cry
or will he celebrate her letting go
Maybe yes, but she will never know

Distant is he from dusk to dawn
She finds no reason to carry on
He does not treat her as he should
she is not made of rock or wood

His words are fewer everyday
he turns his back and walks away
What a shame to say goodbye
So many years - should not she cry

The love between them is no more
being together has become a chore
He just wanted someone to claim
she was naive - what a shame

So like a king upon his throne
he will continue all alone
She forgives him, it's OK
She will survive another day

Her love for him was one of a kind
another like hers he will not find
So here is where she says goodbye
Gone with all her reasons why


- - -
A Native New Yorker, her poetry expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

Within Their Soul

| Filed under

Contributor: Courtney Mills

- -
Glimpses of brown, gold, and green
Slips of blue that shine bright
The door that slowly opens
When you stare long enough into the depths
Getting lost deep within
But not wanting to find the way out
Forever staring
Forever gone

Glimpses of smiles or smirks
Slips you see through the facade
The pain you know they hide
When you see deep into their hearts
Getting to wander further in
But scared of losing grasp
Forever wanting
Forever held

Glimpses of past and present
Slips of the future they want
The grasp they have on you
When you get to know everything
Getting held onto
But afraid of when they let go
Forever fearing
Forever hope

Glimpses of their heart and soul
Slips of what makes them
The happiness and joy
When you know its their love
Getting caught in the wave of emotion
But not wanting to let go
Forever clinging
Forever lost


- - -

Persona Killed Personality

| Filed under

Contributor: Kevin Tai

- -
Why are our names chosen for us?
From birth, our identities are determined
by the ones who know us best. But,
do they really know who we are, or
do they know who they want us to be?
Do they want us to live our life or
the life they regret they left behind?

All of us have secret identities, hidden,
from the hunger of the judgemental world.
Which of my friends is secretly a superhero?
Teachers are sadists, taking pleasure as
originality becomes conformity. We struggle
to stay afloat in this sea of hectic insanity, and
the heaviest items are our unique personalities.

Multi-dimensional people don’t fit well
in tidy boxes. So, why do stereotypes exist?
Are we not able to comprehend anything
new, and must cram every person into
our preconceived notion of who they
should be? If we’re not careful, we’ll
wander into one of these caskets ourselves.


- - -
Kevin Tai is a lunatic, as he often stays up late to photograph the moon. However, he is down-to-earth and logical when he is building and coding robots. He just wishes he could create one to revise his writing pieces.

One

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
A new day
A new life
Parting with the old
But never parting
Holding on to golden moments
Like a bee sleeping
In the palm of your hand
Looking toward newly made memories
In a Tiffany setting
Made of silver and platinum
Crafted by the deft
Hand of fate
Intertwining two lives
Like Rococo filigree
And sent off
To find their destiny
Amid the chaos
Of emotions
That can only be resolved
As one


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, magazine articles and a screenplay His works are published in over twenty-five on-line journals, over twenty-five books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy.

Regarding Going Home Again

| Filed under

Contributor: John Grey

- -
I'm staying at the old house,
my old room,
single bed,
same posters on the wall,
same tree through the window -

but outside.
a stranger's kids
are throwing up a basketball
into a hoop

and the woman next door
is now the old woman next door -
her once black hair
is goose-feather gray

and the house at the back
has three additions at least.
not counting the barrage
of rose bushes up against the fence -

and I look up
and I'm not even sure
if that's the same sun
that used to shine hereabouts -

and even my mother
wavers between the familiar
and the unrecognizable.

Five in the afternoon may be a different time.
A kitchen and a bathroom
might have traded places.
Eyes may breathe air
and lungs see their way around corners.
And I need to keep away from mirrors.
I may not know who I am.


- - -
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Midwest Quarterly, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in South Florida Poetry Journal, Hawaii Review and the Dunes Review.

Corporate Vegetables

| Filed under

Contributor: Sheshu Babu

- -
"Onions! Tomatoes!
Potatoes! Sweet potatoes!"
She would yell
Knocking doors or ringing bells
And women would come out to bargain
And purchase her fresh vegetables again and again.

She would go home after a long struggling day
Emptying her overhead basket on the way
And feel elated to count the notes and coins
Earned through enduring unspeakable pains.

Those days are over.

She still starts with weighty basket over her head
Carries all kinds of vegetables meticulously spread
Stares at the doors locked inside and outside
She hears no sounds of vegetable-purchasing women far and wide
As she strolls down the by-lanes and busy cacophony streets,
Crowds of women pass by with vegetable plastic bags sounding rhythmic beats
Purchased from wholesale corporate malls
Or attractively arranged retail stalls

She meanders thru and reaches home
Dreary evening, hunger and thirst welcome
Her with hopeless, uncertain future
And force her reconcile with the grim picture

Her basket is full of vegetables and tears:
The result of impending corporate domination fears
She is one among those petty vegetable vendors
Whose lives have been destroyed by selfish, industrial predators


- - -

Baby Annie

| Filed under

Contributor: Amanda Phang

- -
I used to be
a lonely child
since mom and dad
were always busy.

I was left with some toys,
a few coloring books,
and stuffed animals
that were all fuzzy.

But one day they came home
with a tiny person
and they announced,
“This is Baby Annette!”

I was confused;
we already had a fish.
Why did they bring
another pet?

I later understood
that she wasn’t just
another fish
of a different breed.

I helped her walk
I helped her read
and soon she grew
to look a lot like me.

Now “Baby Annie,”
which is what we still call her,
is no longer
a baby anymore.

And after all these years
of her being my companion,
my best friend,
I love her forevermore.


- - -

Footprints In The Snow

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
Following footprints
deep within the snow
Where they will lead
she does not know

Feeling confused
and all alone
Wandering around
searching the unknown

What she seeks
is a mystery to her
Her existence on Earth
is a passing blur

Footprints in the snow
have melted to the ground
Now she is lost
and nowhere to be found


- - -
A Native New Yorker, she's been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. Her writing expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

Date Night

| Filed under

Contributor: Phil Huffy

- -
He ran from her
like a dog from a blender.

The shrill frequency
and inescapable volume
presaged pain
from which there
would be no respite.

All that remained
was to express his regrets
in a sensible
and unoffending way,
so as discourage repercussions.


- - -
Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table in Rochester, NY.

Better Off

| Filed under

Contributor: Adriene Im

- -
He was bad company. It was gnawing
on my heart and feeding my doubts.
I wanted to believe that loving is easy,
ignoring the thorns as my heart bled.
I was left waiting.

He left me in a pool of my own blood.
Kept me hostage in the waiting room.
Once inseparable, now incapable
of bandaging what was beyond broken.
I was left shattered.

Buried six feet under, I was suffocated
by layers of regrets, burdens, and
promises never kept. I climbed out,
hands calloused and heart patched.
I was left stronger.


- - -

Morning Glory

| Filed under

Contributor: Cynthia B Pitman

- -
The world is flat today.
No curvature of the earth
creating in us such primal verve
that we twirl and twirl
with outstretched arms
while we lift our faces to the sun.
No curling winds unfurling our skirts
as we dance with the wild lilacs
by the cold trickling stream.
No morning glory.
The sun has risen, but that is all.
Our spirits did not rise with it.
They remain tethered to the ground.
The world is not round.


- - -
I am a retired English teacher. I began writing again after 30 years of teaching. My poetry collection, The White Room, is forthcoming.

Nature And Its Four Seasons

| Filed under

Contributor: Margareth Hartono

- -
The trees are alive.
Their breath becomes one with all --
Nature's way of life

Invisible waves,
forcing those in contact to
shady shelter.

The sky painted dark
The sun sleeps an hour longer
While the moon takes over

How does one survive
the everlasting blizzard?
The answer: Layers

Heaven is crying
Sheltered by my umbrella --
I wait for rainbows


- - -

What Will Be

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
The bones of dinosaurs beneath us,
Stars above in the sky,
All speeding through space and time,
All along for the ride,
Something else is forming,
Somewhere down the line,
And destined to reveal itself in time.
We are only here a short while,
But we have eternity,
In which to discover,
Some of what will be.


- - -
Bruce lives in a small town in Illinois with his wife and their dog and cat.

Unwanted Erasures

| Filed under

Contributor: Jun Lit

- -
Like a portrait of the dodo lonely
in one landscape by Savery,
or a royal castle, grandiose
in distant clouds of imaginary repose,
a demanding presence, you were there,
viewed from across the road gutter,
of a highway now made uncaringly busier
by the rushing waters of material progress
in the village of my childhood bliss.
in the Old City of my cherished memories.

the house is now gone, brushed away from the view,
the once-cherished home erased like sparrows that flew
from the maps of trails made by doodle bugs
as they crawled backward to their pits
made by tossing away dusty bits.
Once upon a time, it was there . . .
Once upon a time, a family lived there.
All that remains is a picture, frozen in time somewhere.

To see such mementoes brings smiles and tears,
flashbacks of joys as real as struggles and fears.
It’s just that some unexplained silence conquers my ears . . .
For the decades past seem to say -
youth is as ephemeral as the flowers of May
And childhood, albeit be precious as it may
was a just one quick, one volatile day.


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

Hardworking

| Filed under

Contributor: Jimin Um

- -
From the moment when I was born,
I was placed in a problematic, poor family.
No money, no home, no food.
I felt so alone, wishing to be renewed.
But I knew I couldn’t throw my life away,
I don’t have enough time to be afraid.

Being broke made me rich
Being broke made me rich

I was more desperate than stray dogs looking for food,
Looking for sustenance and trying to find a home.
Salvaging surplus scraps to stay alive,
Working day in and day out
Trying to keep money in and not out.
Balancing part-time jobs to live a sublime life,
Seeking to peak by making a streak of money
By turning the other cheek and showing modesty.

Being broke made me rich
Being broke made me rich

Without desperation, motivation, and concentration,
I wouldn’t be where I am today.
From a poor boy and a broken home,
To now a CEO that is well known,
I had to keep pushing past the problems.
Now I am at the top, no longer at the bottom

Being broke made me rich
Being broke made me rich


- - -
What's up!
I am a 17 year old Cerritos High School student aspiring to become a writer in the near future.

New Tomorrows

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
New tomorrows
Sprinkled with uncertainty
Hopeful yet unknowing
Born of some spectral happenstance
That unites souls
Without knowing when or how
Looking in the mirror of time
And seeing infinity
Holding hands at the crossroads
Without questioning which way to go
Knowing the path to follow
Uncertainty gone in a tornado
Swirling in the core
Opening new vistas
And new tomorrows


- - -
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. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin.

A Second Heart

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
Can we grow a second heart
to love someone other?
Can we love again
after the loss of another?

Can a new found love
heal the pains of the past?
Can a second heart -
a new love ever last?

Can two new hearts
become ever one?
Can they compare
to another or none?

Matters of the heart
their pains run deep
Leaving them with scars
and memories to keep

Can they move past
matters of the heart?
Is it feasible
a brand new start?

They can only wonder
if all they know is true
For all they really know
might not be what they knew


- - -
A Native New Yorker, she's been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. Her writing expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

I Am Not Human

| Filed under

Contributor: Noah Kim

- -
I am a blank canvas
I am empty and barren
I am vacant and desolate.

Yet, despite this, I am free and have an infinite amount of potential
Just a single drop of color, brings life within me

Red makes me filled with passion and boldness, a hint of anger as well
Yellow shows my optimism, a sun rising up and shining after a dark night
Blue displays trusts and strengths

With each brush stroke painted on me,
Hope, Desire, Pain, and Change, all these feelings are conveyed to me

Expressing emotions through the colors on me
Talking and conveying my feelings to the person looking at me
I converse with the illustrations drawn on me

But for now, I am empty
An empty canvas on an easel
Waiting to for life to be breathed into me


- - -
Noah Kim loves to read up horror movie Wikipedia pages.
He's too scared most of the time to actually watch them, so the ones that pique his interest are usually read.

Each Ear of Corn

| Filed under

Contributor: Mark Tulin

- -
The man who speaks broken English carefully removes the husks and silks of each ear of corn. His wife slices off the tiny white kernels with her strong brown hands.

They bake trays of muffins each day and sell them with hot coffee to hungry migrant workers.

Each day in the new world is another promising batch. They dream of a future where they can be free and proud.

They pray that the immigration man never comes, never breaks down their front door.

They pray that their tenuous lives never shatter like glass.

If they hear a noise, they draw the blinds, stop and hide, because they fear the man in the dark suit.

The smell of corn muffins filter throughout their home like a beautiful Spanish song. They bake muffins each day with hope in their hearts.


- - -
Mark Tulin is a former family therapist who lives in Santa Barbara, California. He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, published by Prolific Press (2017). His upcoming book is entitled, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories.

Books

| Filed under

Contributor: Genn Barrett

- -
It’s an escape from reality
Another way to let one’s fantasies come to life
The doorway to other worlds
Portals to dimensions
Gateways to another time
All this and more are contained within its core

Each one is different
With a new journey anxiously waiting
A brand-new adventure to be had
New people to meet
Different races to be discovered
Unknown cultures to be studied
And new languages learned

They appeal to all kinds
Young and old; rich or poor
And date back to ancient scrolls and stone
Now they’re digitized
Can be read all over the world
They’ll never stop being popular
There are always new stories to be told


- - -
I am a graduate of Hudson Valley Community College's Liberal Arts program currently living in Kingston, NY. I'm a Disney-fanatic, costume maker, and avid reader. And I cosplay at comic cons on the weekends with my boyfriend.

Desolation

| Filed under

Contributor: Dorian J. Sinnott

- -
Do you remember the first time we kissed--
Down on the corner of fifth, under the street lamps;
Did you ever think we would become only a memory,
Devoid of physical soul.
Deeper in love I knew I’d fall,
Dragged along by the cord I was too afraid to cut.
Demolish.
Daring not to see what lay beyond the blade.

Downtown, bells rang through the crowd,
Dressed in black and mourning etched on their faces.
“Death is a faithful lover”, you once had said;
Devout, and so he could never bring you back.
Desolate remains my mind,
Dripping with words left unspoken,
Deeds undone.
Desperation has become my only friend.
Darkness sets itself upon the city,
Dancing shadows graceful in the light.
Didn’t my heart once feel the warmth,
Dream of a life beyond the shell?


- - -
Dorian J. Sinnott is a graduate of Emerson College's Writing, Literature, and Publishing program, currently living in Kingston, New York with his cat. He enjoys horseback riding, playing violin, and cosplaying his favorite childhood characters at comic cons. Dorian's work has appeared in Crab Fat Literary Magazine, The Pangolin Review, and Soft Cartel.

The Feather of Fate

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
The line of evergreen trees
Paraded in the sunset
Offset by the piercing highway
Following the path to the end

Breaking away from the crowd
They remained in silent understanding
Breathing each other’s essence
In a timeless momentum

Longing for a single pathway
Leading through the forest of emotions
In a garden of gilded fantasies
Thawed by the rays of passion

The final memory of tomorrow
Written on the feather of fate
Held in the palm of forever
Wrapped in a golden band of love


- - -
Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional. His literary catalogue includes four novels, short stories, humorous sketches, flash fiction, poetry, essays, articles and a screenplay His nearly one-hundred-fifty works are published in magazines, over twenty-five on-line journals, thirty books and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin. He lives in New York with his dog, Daisy. Visit him at www.brucelevine.com.

They Came

| Filed under

Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

- -
They came out from the abyss,
Once more back in time,
Every intention evil.
All of them of one mind.
Serving the destroyer,
Opposed to all mankind,
Invisible among them,
But evident everywhere,
Sewing the seed of chaos
In every field they plow,
Murder, madness, selfishness,
The fruits they hope to reap,
Their vast storehouse bulging,
And still the people sleep.


- - -
Bruce Mundhenke lives in a small town in Illinois with his wife and their dog and cat.

Sun Prayer

| Filed under

Contributor: Jack Dolvermorris

- -
I put on the armor
of my gods
spread wide my wings
face the dark
face the night
all that icy cruelty
all that cold chaos

I put on the armor
of my gods
and draw my sword
to set the night alight
to drive away
specters of suffering
those who hold down the sun

I put on the armor
of my gods
free the great golden one
for another spring
another summer
another season
of fire and fruit
when ice is treat
instead of a torment
and the forces of night
hold sway only over hours
instead of days.


- - -

Unmendable

| Filed under

Contributor: Maria-Theresa Zehendstrom

- -
I rode the ride
I took the chance
I screamed and howled
with joy
thrilled
from end
to beginning.

I've seen
what can become
of two people
after they say
"I do."

I've seen
permanence
wither away
in a day

I've seen
the world
turn to sand
in an hour

I've seen promises shattered
ironclad
now broken
now rusty
now dust
memories on the wind
nothing but memories
fading
as they slip through my fingers


- - -
Inspired by the writings of Herne, Norris and Moreno, I write the song that splashes from my hands when I pour my soul on paper.

True Love

| Filed under

Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
True love-
something few will ever know
It is not what you think-
clouds of fluff and
unicorns colored pink

True love-
an ache which fills the heart
Taking over body and soul
without him or her
you will never be whole

True love-
consumes your existence
Feelings of happy and sad
Unpredictable, uncontrollable
being in love is not a fad

True love-
makes you feel sick
It's not all glitter and gold
but if you find true love
together you'll grow old

True love-
comes only once
To none does it compare
It won't be an easy ride
but have faith in it, if you dare!


- - -
A Native New Yorker, she's been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. Her writing expresses her thoughts about life, love, nature and human emotion.

Betrayal

| Filed under

Contributor: Alexis K

- -
I heard Heather’s broken voice from across the room
And I stood in front of her trying not to cry
Her nails claw at one another, nails painted
The color of blood as from a recent kill
Waiting for the clock to strike three,
Her hands gripping the bag she picked up,
About to leave,
While ignoring the casualty on the way out
No one in the quiet room understood
How she could have thrown away their friendship, so quickly
Like a carcass pulpy and horrible


- - -
Alexis goes to Pompton Lakes High school and loves to write in her free time.

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