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    Kinzua Bridge State Park, 2003 - Michael Albright
    Mixing the Soundtrack - Carol Hamilton
    Blind Ambition - Richard Schnap
    Have a Heart - Ashley Hutson
    Sometimes - Ed Severson
    Tomboy - Ed Severson
    Moving with Dad - Lynn Marie Houston
    When I Try to Reach You - Diana Cole
    Sudden Loss - Rick Blum
    The Living Room - Carla Kaufman
    Betrayals - Jennifer L. Freed
    Philosophy 183a: Existence - Jennifer L. Freed
    929 Brookridge - Marne Grinolds Wilson
    Roller Skates - Barbara Brooks
    Hopscotch - Barbara Brooks
    The Goodbye Hug - Danny Earl Simmons
    Crying for Three Straight Hours - Danny Earl Simmons
    Search Party - Trina Gaynon
    Apologia for the many dog poems - Trina Gaynon
    Autumn's Connotation - Joan Mazza
    The Fort - Carol Alexander
    Condolence - Peggy Trojan
    Bound - Tom Lyons





    When I called you from the viaduct,
    without a single soul in sight,
    no other cars in the slushy lot,
    no visitorís center open for spring,
    no rangers or workmen or anyone,
    just me, the squirrels, and a sheen of mud,
    how amazed I was to have service here,
    300 feet up this abandoned trestle,
    the trickling middle of nowhere below—
    when I said youíd never guess what Iíd just done,
    you, sister of brothers, mother of sons, said
    You peed off that fucking bridge, didnít you?

    Three months later a big wind came through
    and left a twisted and tangled heap.
    Some say phantom trains collided,
    and the wailing of the ghosts of ghosts
    skipped for miles in the boreal night,
    as far as Cyclone and Shinglehouse.

    Michael Albright has published poems in various journals, including Tar River Poetry, A Narrow Fellow, Pembroke Magazine, Cider Press Review, Revolver, Moon City Review, Blast Furnace, Uppagus, Boston Literary Magazine, and others. He lives on a windy hilltop near Greensburg, PA. with his wife Lori and an ever-changing array of children and other animals.




    Mixing the Soundtrack
    Carol Hamilton

    She has no extended family
    so can make up the guest list
    to suit the occasion, set a date
    with the honoree and invite those
    who can come that day, instant relatives.
    Emotions can still be fraught,
    nor does everyone come,
    even so, without baggage.
    We are on this long journey,
    travelers tossed together
    on a package tour.
    This morning the leaves
    on my huge elm are swept
    eastward by great gusts,
    and I wonder how they like
    being jumbled,
    epidermis to epidermis,
    no choice of neighbor.
    There is only one way
    to make it work: push on,
    pretend the surround-sound
    is a love song, and ignore
    static, scratchy needles,
    knowing even digital or better
    still produces no perfect harmony.
    Our finest tuning requires a lot
    of shutting out, ignoring much
    to hear and dance with abandon.

    Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in LOUISIANA REVIEW, BLUE UNICORN, CAVEAT LECTOR, ATLANTA REVIEW, NEW DELTA REVIEW, LASCAUX REVIEW, NARROW FELLOW, BLUESTEM, SOW'S EAR POETRY, TAR RIVER REVIEW, FLINT HILLS REVIEW, MAIN STREET RAG, GREY SPARROW JOURNAL, TRIBECA POETRY REVIEW, THE AUROREAN, SAN PEDRO RIVER REVIEW, LISTENING EYE and others. She has published 16 books: children's novels, legends and poetry, most recently, MASTER OF THEATER: PETER THE GREAT and LEXICOGRAPHY. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated five times for a Pushcart Prize.




    Blind Ambition
    Richard Schnap

    He boasted that he planned
    To be a star by thirty five
    With a string of gold records

    As he dragged his band to New York
    Where a producer with a label
    Would release anyone for a price

    And when the album came out
    I went into a music store
    And asked them if they had it

    Where I found it in a corner
    With a hundred others like it
    Selling for a dime

    Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.




    Have a Heart
    Ashley Hutson

    Have a heart—
    Packed with the savory stuffing
    Of all thatís gone before
    Fresh as yesterday's strawberries
    Edible as most other organs
    And yes, a delicacy.

    Come, one and all, and sample
    The sour times it endured
    The sweet nothings sunk into the valves
    The bitter glaze settling over it now.
    No, it is not one of the sweet meats.
    But perhaps it can be candied,
    Quite hard, quite brittle—
    Watch your teeth!

    It will take some careful handling.
    But I assure you:
    It is delicious
    It is ripe for the picking
    It is fit for a feast.
    So eat up, eat up.
    I can't hold this plate forever.

    So maybe it's a little rare.
    Maybe it's a little dry.
    But just a little!
    Surely—surely—
    You'll have a taste?

    Of course you should chew slowly.
    The heart is the most
    challenging part
    Of any dish.

    Ashley Hutson has fiction and poetry published or forthcoming in Hedge Apple Magazine, The Lascaux Review, Page and Spine, and Red River Review. She lives in Sharpsburg, MD.




    Sometimes
    Ed Severson

    I could use a change,
    in flashing neon,
    volume turned way up,
    windows wide open,
    the old lady upstairs shrieking,
    "God's sake, keep it down!"
    Who hears her?
    We're busy,
    sweating rivers,
    nearly busting bed springs,
    closing on warp speed—
    when her poodle jumps on my back
    to see what's going on.
    So I'm reaching behind me,
    trying to pull the dog off.
    It likes this game.
    She starts laughing,
    I'm pissed. THIS close.
    We switch to Plan B,
    ending up in the buff,
    finishing the spaghetti in the fridge,
    splitting half a bottle of cheap Merlot.
    Fat chance.

    Tomboy
    Ed Severson

    In the outfield, she'd sense
    The ball flying out of the sun,
    Cup it in her glove,
    And arc it to second base.

    Students ate their lunch in the gym's bleachers,
    She shot baskets out on the floor
    And slipped through the boys like an otter,
    Rattling them with easy lay-ups.

    She'd dribble the ball past where I sat,
    Radiating her soap-and-gym scent
    Unaware that she had left
    My life in chaos.

    Ed Severson served four years in the U.S. Navy, earned a degree in English from the University of Arizona and spent twenty years as a reporter and columnist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. In retirement, he has written many poems and published many poems and has published a few in obscure magazine.




    Moving with Dad
    Lynn Marie Houston

    Bald like Vietnam, like palm trees after Agent Orange
    tumbles from a plane, platoon-mates called him ďbullet.Ē
    I learn his nickname in the Uhaul driving through Cheyenne.
    Forty hours later weíd reach New York with all my boxes
    and the two old Army duffle bags I used to pack my sweaters.
    Another move and Dad is there to help, but he drives less
    this time, tires easily. We stop for gas and coffee
    at a Mobile station. Under electric tubes and swarms of moths,
    I see the scars on fatherís head from where the surgeon
    cut the cancer out. Or most of it.

    Lynn Marie Houstonís essays and poems have appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly, Prick of the Spindle, 3Elements Review, Extract(s), Postmodern Culture, andProteus, among others. She resides in her hometown of Newburgh, New York. When she isnít teaching English at Orange County Community College, she tends her honeybees and kayaks the Delaware River.





    someone tells me they are at your funeral.
    I find out this way.

    Sitting by our window at the Diesel Cafe
    open to the noise of traffic
    I order espresso straight.

    Every two weeks our tacit pact
    to meet here, no longer
    tangled in a loverís quandary.

    I drink undiluted silence.

    Last time you explained
    how the Buddha is here always
    seeming at times to live
    at times to die.

    Are you here now reading
    soccer scores, laughing
    under your Manchester United cap?

    Are you wearing the blue shirt I gave you?
    Tell me that your novel is going
    fine, like all the others, unfinished.

    I want to tell you Iím tired
    of fussing over these last lines
    how I hate to end
    this poem before itís finished,
    but you donít look up

    Diana Cole's poems have appeared in numerous journals including Ibbetson Street, Off the Coast, The Christian Century, The Cider Press Review, Slipstream, Poetry East, Spillway and Tar River Review. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. In her career as a singer she translated many poems for recitals, and her own poem, Though I Walk, set to music by Thomas Stumpf, was selected for performance in New York City.




    Sudden Loss
    Rick Blum

    I thought of him as an old friend, though we first
    got together barely a decade ago; a quick mind for
    figures, always ready to explore new vistas,

    our near daily connections were invigorating,
    illuminating, joyful. But he'd slowed the last few
    years as if starting up each day was an unbearable

    burden; long pauses to simple queries became
    common, trying my patience—our friendship.
    Then one day his memory up and vanished—

    not slow erosion from a steady tide, but sudden
    loss like a superstorm gobbling up whole beaches
    overnight. With it went many pleasures

    we'd shared: collecting a trove of trivia to support
    simple truths, connecting through chess challenges,
    correcting—without judgment—scribblings

    I'd conjure. The doctor said at his age there was
    no recovering from a lifetime of experiences
    irretrievably dissolving into nothingness;

    he said to move on, as if longtime friendships are
    interchangeable—just ordinary chips in a game of
    poker. But I grieve instead, stare at today's

    paper's stale news yearning to reconnect with my
    old pal, itching for our back-and-forth routine,
    unwilling—unable—to move on.

    Maybe tomorrow, or the next day, I'll start the
    painful search for a new old friend; like Donald
    Trump trolling for fresh arm candy, I'll look

    for a friskier, sleeker model, one that can get my
    aging juices flowing again. And when that day
    comes, as I know it must, I will finally be ready

    to say, with just a touch of nostalgia:
    Goodbye, Dell, my old friend;
    Helloooo, Mac!

    Rick Blum has been writing humorous prose and poetry for more than 25 years during stints as a nightclub owner, high-tech manager, market research mogul and, most recently, alter kaker. His poems have appeared in Humor Times, Breath and Shadow, and Muddy River Poetry Review among others. He was recently named winner of the 2014 Carlisle Poetry Contest. Currently, he is holed up in his office in Massachusetts trying to pen the perfect bio, which he plans to share as soon as he stops laughing at the sheer futility of this effort.




    The Living Room
    Carla Kaufman

    I always thought Grandpa died in the living room,
    but when I said that to my mom, she said that really wasnít true.
    It wasnít until I took care of my dad on the couch
    in the living room, that I knew what had happened:
    he started dying in the living room.
    Like the others before and after him,
    lying sick, on that god damned couch.
    The couch where they started breathing heavy,
    where they stopped eating, and started shitting and peeing,
    the couch where they started having trouble swallowing.
    The living room where I, like Grandma became
    a nurse on call, shifting, propping pillows,
    mashing up food, trying to get them to swallow,
    drink, and make sure they take their pills.
    The house where she went into another room
    to cry, because the images of protruding stomachs
    and yellow skin, snot, piss, and diarrhea were too much.
    A husband, a father-in-law and a brother-in-law—
    son would have been too much.
    They are gone, but we still have the living room
    where there is no room for living,
    the nursing home where Grandma lived, couch-free,
    and that same sagging couch, I keep empty.

    Carla has been published in Julien's Journal, The Voices Project, The Paterson Literary Review (forthcoming)and Loras College magazines, Alpha and Outlet. Carla received dual Bachelor's degrees in English: Creative Writing and Literature. She completed all credits for her Masterís at UNI and currently resides in Dubuque, Iowa, where she is working on a poetry book.




    Betrayals
    Jennifer L. Freed

    In your 60s you were on the roof
    of the screened-in-porch in Maine, dabbing black
    on each white splatter where the house paint had dripped.

    In your 70s you still went to the rocky shore
    in bathing cap and skirted swimsuit, said
    the frigid water made you feel
    alive. You dug for clams, picked
    raspberries, planted tomatoes.
    You knew how to make a filling
    soup with chicken
    bones and no
    money, how to sew
    last yearís summer dress to make it fit
    this seasonís style.

    Your eyes were always quick,
    and bright and sharp, even when
    you were in your 80s, and
    unravelling,

    even when you said you never were a
    spy, said, ďThey might be listening,Ē said
    I was helping Them—you knew
    about the radio transmitters hidden in my
    hair.

    That was when you said
    you didnít trust a single one of us, said we had all
    betrayed you.

    Then
    they were the sharpest of all,
    your quick, bright eyes.

    Philosophy 183a: Existence
    for Professor Maurice Natanson
    Jennifer L. Freed

    We walked the shadowed halls to the shaded room
    with the ancient desks, and tried to follow
    as you paced and spoke, and paced and paused, and
    slashed emphatic lines across the board.

    You wore a long white beard, like a Chassid, or
    a wizard. You urged us toward
    uncertainty.
    You asked, ďWhat does it mean
    to be busy, or bored? What does it mean to be
    at all?Ē
    You asked, ďIf I am running for a bus, is there an I, or
    is there only
    consciousness of running?Ē And, ďIf
    the I resides in consciousness, then what
    shall we say of the absent
    minded?Ē

    We pushed through Heidegger and Sartre. We
    read in darkness. We furrowed our brows, and still
    crawled on, alert to any sign of light. You lead us
    toward an open sky, left us
    at the threshold.
    You said, ďThere are some things you have to do
    alone. Like blowing your nose:
    someone else
    can help you hold the tissue, but you
    have to do the blowing.Ē

    Jennifer L Freed lives with her family in central Massachusetts. Her poetry appears of is forthcoming in The Atlanta Review, Poetry East, The Worcester Review, and other publications, and in her recent chapbook, These Hands Still Holding (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Please visit her website at jfreed.weebly.com.




    929 Brookridge
    Marne Grinolds Wilson

    I came across it just at twilight,
    the perfect house where you and I
    could live a perfect life together.
    I wanted to rush home
    and write the story of that life,
    make it true by acting as if
    it had already come to pass,
    but in truth I could not even imagine
    where to begin
    or how it could ever become real.
    Instead I let the idea remain
    vague and hazy in my subconscious,
    and after all this time
    I can barely remember it,
    only the thought of a lamp in the window
    and an easy chair and a cat.

    Marne Grinolds Wilson lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Formerly an academic librarian, she now devotes herself full-time to writing. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Atlanta Review, Poetry East, The South Carolina Review, and Naugatuck River Review.




    Roller Skates
    Barbara Brooks

    I remember my skates,
    simple really, compared to todayís.
    A platform for your foot and 4 metal wheels.
    A key to crimp the skate to the rubber sides
    of your sneakers before you could take off.
    We didnít have sidewalks so the road was our rink
    or the concrete floor of the basement,
    swing yourself around the black plumbing pipe.
    Push—glide, push—glide if you could call
    it that on the rough surface. I tried making a turn,
    fell, took a chunk out of my knee, still have the scar.

    The townís only rink was supposed to be integrated
    but black children were not allowed.
    Wanting equality for everyone, Dad enlisted us for a test.
    My group: white kids, the other: black and white.
    We paid our fee, got skates with wheels
    and boots; rolled on to the smooth, wooden floors,
    with loud music, flashing disco lights.

    Canít remember if the other group got in,
    Mom came and took us home.
    Later, the roller rink was torn down
    leaving an empty lot in its place.

    Hopscotch
    Barbara Brooks

    Who taught me to use chalk to draw the pattern
    on the pavement, how to use one foot in the single blocks,
    two in the double and in the circle at the top?

    I played while waiting for the bus,
    picked out that lucky piece of gravel,
    hopped from square to square,
    missed the one with the marker,
    no stepping on the lines.

    Now I need to lean against something
    just to put on my pants. I take a walking pole
    on bird trips to balance on the rocky path,
    and to help me get up that slick slope.

    I donít try to hop the pattern
    at the playground.

    Barbara Brooks, author of ďThe Catbird SangĒ and ďA Shell to Return to the SeaĒ chapbooks. Her work has been accepted in Chagrin River Review, The Foundling Review, Blue Lake Review, Third Wednesday, Shadow Road Quarterly, Indigo Mosaic and on line at Southern Womenís Review, Poetry Quarterly among others.




    The Goodbye Hug
    Danny Earl Simmons

    It was just a little goodbye hug
    that didnít want to say goodbye.
    So it braved becoming a quick peck
    on the cheek before dragging its lip
    into a very light nibble that slid
    all the way down as a hungry nuzzle
    in the tender crook of her neck. There
    is where it turned mutual and sultry,
    making its way through firmly pressed
    and fully responsive bodies, hushed
    moans, heavy breaths, and indiscreet
    caresses at the outskirts of public propriety.
    A few seconds later, it turned into a rush
    of holding hands searching for the closest
    private place to become hard wet kissing
    and never really saying goodbye again.


    Gives you one hell of a headache
    and all different kinds of wet soak your shirt.

    The sounds you make move across the mournful spectrum
    from wails and moans to curses and howls.

    You sit up, lie down, hunch, go completely fetal,
    even try kneeling.

    It starts shortly after twilight turns deep-cave black,
    when youíd normally be surrounded by people

    youíd always assumed would always surround you.
    At somewhere between knife-to-your-wrist and gun-to-your-head,

    when your throat is so sore it sounds like rug burn,
    you stand, turn off the over-and-over-again of that one song,

    stagger into the bathroom, splash water onto your puffy red face
    and look forward.

    Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and an active member of Albany Civic Theater. His poems have appeared in a variety of journals such as The Pedestal Magazine, Prism Reviw, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, and Fifth Wednesday Journal.




    Search Party
    Trina Gaynon

    Sheís left Birdie somewhere in the yard
    again, the black spots on gray fuzz
    camouflage the flightless bird body.
    The dog seems unfazed by the loss.

    Last time I found her baby nesting among
    the Jacobís Ladder blossoms.
    Worried that he might meet the same fate
    as the hedgehog at the mercy of the lawn mower—

    at intervals, without my glasses,
    I pace the grass, search shade-mottled flower beds.
    I wonder if the wound-up song birds
    on the telephone pole have spotted him.
    I wish he could squeak without being stepped on.


    I owe the cat a poem
    for the hours she warmed
    my belly as we napped.

    Trina Gaynon garnered her advanced education at the now defunct program of Library Sciences at University of California, Berkeley. Her most treasured memory from that experience was an internship at the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Several years later, she went on to the Creative Writing Program at University of San Francisco. A chapbook she began to work on there resulted in a visit to India over the winter break of 2000. In spite of all the general hand-wringing, there were no computer malfunctions to keep her from coming home.





    Itís not because Iím past sixty I love this season,
    the drying out, decay, decline. Not the whiff
    of chill that starts the dying. Not because summer
    was so hot I love anticipating winter when everythingís
    stripped bare, trees naked like crooked armatures,
    each branch outlined clear against blue sky.

    Itís not my wrinkled, thinning skin that makes me
    love these metaphors of senescence. Not the constancy
    of sciatica, lumbago, or one eyelidís chronic tic
    as I observe the worldís decomposition.

    No, itís this time of drawing inward, staying home
    with pets, inside. Beneath the greens and browns
    are red and gold, the swishing whispers of leaves
    against our ankles. Return of firelight remembered,
    flames visible through cloudy mica windows
    of a Ben Franklin pot-bellied stove, old bungalow

    at summerís end when I was ten. Before school,
    after two months of reading, writing, fishing—
    far from father, alone with Mother.

    Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art. www.joanmazza.com




    The Fort
    Carol Alexander

    We liked war games, even then.
    The trench by the oak smelled sweet
    before the soil was fouled by runoff from the factory.
    We tasted dirt and it was black like ripened figs.
    We rubbed it on our brows and it was cool
    like the solid sky in reckless rills of blue.

    We handpicked our atrocities; being the girl,
    mine were the worst. Boy's jackets carried me
    to the mouth of the fort, and I was invalided out of the game.
    Oh, no fair. There isn't much a corpse can do
    but lick the earth from between a finger and a thumb.

    One of the boys was whipped, usually of a Friday night.
    His military father, a teak and khaki ghost,
    did his rounds and soldiered on with his belt.
    We wanted to kill him, but something else took care of that.
    I learned the error of spite, the cold correction of the grave.

    I longed to stand sentry, to commandeer the fort:
    far better than lying in the improvised morgue.
    Until the summer rains began, locusts buzzed and sawed.
    The knocking of a woodpecker at the gate, salivary rune of slugs,
    keloid scars on the legs of the boy, first love, betrayer,
    marked all the pause for pity I could take, waiting for another life.

    Carol Alexander's poems have appeared in such journals as Bluestem, Canary, The Common, Chiron Review, Illya's Honey, Mobius, Poetry Quarterly, Red River Review, The San Pedro River Review, and Sugar Mule as well as in various anthologies. Alexander's first chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013). Forthcoming work is scheduled to appear in Caesura (Poetry Center San Jose) and in The Mad Hatter's Review (2014).




    Condolence
    Peggy Trojan

    In the fifth grade
    Ken's dad died
    putting a new foundation
    under their milk house
    when the jack slipped
    and the building collapsed
    on him

    When Ken came back
    to school none of us
    mentioned it
    or asked how he was
    feeling
    and none of us knew
    we could have
    put our skinny little arms
    around him

    Peggy Trojan retired from teaching English to the north woods of Wisconsin. She submitted her first poem for publication at the age of seventy seven, and has been enjoying seeing her work in print ever since. A member of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, she has been published in a wide variety of journals and anthologies: Naugatuck River Review, Echoes, Talking Stick, Wisconsin People and Ideas, Verse Wisconsin, Finnish American Reporter, Goose River Anthology, Thunderbird Review and to her delight, many others.


    Bound


    Tom Lyons

    This is all so familiar.
    I know these rooms.
    I have been here before, many times.
    Oh look. There is my favorite chair.
    Favorite chair?
    I must have lived here.
    When was that?
    And where do I live now?
    I hear a voice in the next room.
    Itís the kitchen.
    A woman is putting a phone down.
    I know her.
    Is it? Yes, itís Mary.
    Mary, my love, my wife.
    I must still live here.
    Mary, itís me. Iím home.
    Mary?
    Mary Iím talking to you.
    Why wonít you look up at me?
    I float to her and touch her shoulder.
    Float?
    How can I float?
    Mary shudders. She turns around.
    I smile but she just looked past me, through me.
    Mary? Mary, say something?
    She crosses her arms and hugs herself tightly,
    Walking right through me to the window.
    I donít understand.
    As I near her, I see tears in her eyes.
    She whispers my name.
    She moves to the next room.
    I follow, calling after her.
    At the mantle she reaches for a picture of me.
    She stares at the photo.
    I stare at the mantle.
    At the sympathy cards.






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