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Monday Morning
Margaret Fieland

Rising sun sends shadows
over brown pond water,
cardinals and chickadees peck bird seed.

Your unfinished face frowns
over your first cup of coffee,
your first smoke.

I give you cigarette money,
because it’s Monday
and I don’t want to fight.

Margaret Fieland's poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. You may visit her website, www.margaretfieland.com.

Oleh Lysiak

Allergic to anything,
emergency room nurse
inquires. Republicans,
I reply. Thin lips
crease to grin,
wait until you
meet your doctor.

Beyond Corpulence
Oleh Lysiak

Slick black mortician lisps solicitous whispers
through stainless steel braces, an ex-coke snorting,
limo riding, whore hosing music group monger
before Jesus get him a job arranging viewings and
cremations. Thirteen hundred bucks and he’ll have
the kid run through the municipal crematorium
and deliver the ashes in a tan plastic box. What’s
left of the kid is on a gurney covered with a sheet
from the shoulders down in the viewing room. His
mother gave permission to harvest his vital organs.
The makeup artist does a creditable job smoothing
over the kid’s split skull, makes him look presentable
considering he’d been run over from behind at 60 mph.
The cadaver vaguely resembles the kid as theatrical
pasty gray cosmetic dead, never knew what hit him,
didn’t suffer stepping from the plane of the living to
oneness beyond corpulence. A sound comes out of the
kid’s brother I never heard from a human before. I bolt
outside, breathe warm carbon-monoxide-tinged sunset.

Oleh Lysiak’s poetry has been published by Boston Literary Magazine, Bad Light Literary Journal, Commonline Project, Void Magazine, Apt Magazine, The Boatmen’s Quarterly, The Bay City Slug, The Stinking Desert Gazette, Estafette Literary Journal and The Word Almanac. He is author of Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid In The American Zoo, Barely Inside The Lines, Scars In Progress, Geezer Rumba.

Jack M. Freedman

I watch attentively
As your sensuality starts to percolate.
You are now nice and hot.
I want to put some cream into you
Stirring it in deeply.
Your spirit is light.
Your demeanor is sweet.
Your essence is strong.
Sometimes I like to whip the cream,
Adding some sugary goodness to the mix,
For these gentle gestures make all the difference.
You make me rise.
You make me shine.
You make me smile.
I engulf myself within your pool
Of flesh felicity,
For you make me jittery.
I ricochet off walls
Just thinking about you.
You put a sparkle in my eyes
As I taste you,
Swishing you around
In my mouth.
Pupils dilate with delight.
Cranial neurons shimmy.
Muscles tighten
As the last drop is consumed.
You are definitely
The best part of waking up.

Jack M. Freedman is a poet and spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. He is currently the poetry editor of a quarterly magazine based in New York City. Jack has previously published an original book of poetry and edited an anthology featuring 48 Staten Island writers.

Sure, that story. He lifts me from my basket,
proclaims me King of the Jews. With him
it’s irony, of course, the king part, with my
tiny body wriggling in his enormous hands
and me never even Bar Mitzvah’ d. We’d
walk to the subway because he couldn’t drive,
hands too slippery to hold a wheel, but he
could dive beneath the reeds and hold his
breath for half an hour in the muddy stream.
He’d tell me about his time in Hamburg
as a wrestler in a circus there, how he’d win
three matches and then lose one just to give
the punters hope. “A glorious life, boychik,”
he’d say, “a way to win with horses and sugar
in the palm.” Tightrope walkers dangled
from his chest. “I knew a lady who breathed
smoke and wove her hair into ropes of mist.”
He told me again about the bees and the lost
train, how he waited at the station with that
anguished crowd. I listened and the mundane
world disappeared, Queens Boulevard dissolving
into an ocean rush of sound. He spoke violin language
neither of us understood, a yowling syntax lost
somewhere between music, lies and throbbing pain.

Steve Klepetar teaches literature and writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. His most recent chapbook, Thirty-six Crows, is available from erbacce-press.

Leading Questions
Rose M. Smith

Two seats in front of me, the young man has nice eyes.
I would tell him, but last year Robert replied,
I have a girlfriend, as though my words were invitation,
as though my Malibu Hemp®-scented body at his door
beckoned for clandestine lunge,
body rub and all night little deaths.
He memorizes Franklin Park intently,

this young man with nice eyes.
I long to tell him but for LT with his beautiful black
eyes fixed on computer screens
long after we had proven that code works
and the team had gone to Arlington Cafe.
You going? I asked, coat on arm,
laptop packed, and LT said, What?
Oh, I have a girlfriend.

I think how wonderful the world must look
through gray circled by lustrous brown, young eyes
fascinated by sights passing our COTA bus
but cannot say You have nice eyes lest it seem
wrapped in invitation like an egg roll full of estrogen,
dripping from its heated end and waiting
patiently to be consumed.

I long to scream into a stranger’s ears: 'Hey, you.
You have nice eyes,’
tell him not to get me wrong.
To think of ice. Think of cold days in December,
to wait a moment here before he speaks,
take the compliment and tuck it where he can
remember years from now when, unassuming
a coworker tells him something honest in an moment
that some strange woman on a bus also told him so.

Rose M. Smith is a familiar live voice in Central Ohio poetry. Her snapshots of the human condition have appeared in Main Street Rag, The Iconoclast, The Pedestal Magazine, Pavement Saw, Pudding Magazine, Concrete Wolf, and other journals, as well as several anthologies. Rose is an Associate Editor at Pudding House Publications, author of Shooting the Strays (Pavement Saw Press, 2003) and A Woman You Know(Pudding House Publications, 2005), co-editor of Cap City Poets: Columbus and Central Ohio’s Best Known, Read, and Requested Poets (Pudding House Publications, 2008), and is a 2010 inductee into the Poets Greatest Hits series now managed by Kattywompus Press.

Tea Party
Julie Heckman

Lies, glamour, gossip and Earl Grey tea,
Turbulent tales boiling in china cups.
Elegant sacraments of blue-haired ladies
pinkies stuck in the air, hiding their anger
or boredom or feeling their own

Crimson glass roses, feathers and jewels
crowned with wide-brim hats… trims of
gloves, lace fans and perhaps some pearls
are appealing to these extravagant, young
and proper old girls…

The guild does not approve of:
      tortilla chips or
      piercings of the tongue.

Invitation is by “Tea Bag Only,” which is
merely a device to project the status of a
seriously affluent wife. Shaved legs,
polished nails and GiGi’s Brazilian
waxing, will enliven you as a part
of the crowd but may seems
a little bit taxing.

Julie Heckman attended college at California State University, Los Angeles and received a BA and MA in graphic design. She started her own business called Julian Berlin & Assoc. and worked freelance doing oil paintings and graphic design. Julie also published her own line of greeting card which sold throughout the United States, Canada and Europe for over five years. During these days she fell in love with poetry, her favorite poets being Emily Dickenson, Walt Whitman, and Oscar Wilde. At forty she decided to change careers and went into ministry. She received her Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degrees at the School of Theology in Claremont. She practiced ministry for only four years before a serious injury caused her to become disabled and she retired.

Blunt Instruments
Craig Fishbane

Consider, for instance, the pen.
An easily concealed container
for ink and all ink-like substances,
capable of being transported across
state lines and most other
significant boundaries without
license or security clearance.
Not only mightier than the sword,
but far more practical, especially
when considering matters
of airport security—an elegant method
for passing through customs without
declaring your intentions to authorities
foreign or domestic. A coup
for the silent co-conspirator, a weapon
so elegant and accurate it need
only be used once to hit its mark,
especially at close range on an
unsuspecting victim, a target
exposed though hotel curtains
by a thin ribbon of incandescent light—
the bulb too dim to reveal the wound
to any participant at the inquiry.
Not even the forensics specialist
will detect the point of entry,
a nick no larger than a period,
where the message was injected,
through a clear plastic capillary,

directly into the blood.

Craig Fishbane has been published in the New York Quarterly, Night Train, Flashquake, the Minetta Review, Prime Number and Opium. His chapbook collection, "Dengue Fever," is scheduled for publication by BoneWorld in 2012.

My Muse
Bob Zappacosta

She wants me to write about
the manatees that get run over
by powerboats.

How Johnny can't read
though he sure knows how
to load a gun.

She thinks I should write
a poem entitled

that tells how NIKE exploits
women and children in
third world countries.

She believes it would make
a difference, even more so
if I created a visual to

go along with the poem
and had it exhibited
in galleries everywhere.

But I'm tired and I just
want to sit here ...
take a painkiller or

drink some beers.
I don't know—order a double
cheese pizza and

watch the Three Stooges
or better yet,
a situation comedy

with castaways
stranded on a deserted island.

if I don't laugh, I'll cry.
And I'm tired. Too tired
to cry.

A Grain of Sand
Bob Zappacosta

Granular sand scented memories
The words of Blake come to me

Breath in the salty mist of eternity
Oh, creature of creation

There is a causeway of information
A bitter sweet revelation

And no rhyme however sublime
Will change the metaphysical fact

That he who holds to this
World of reason will never see

Eternity in the petals of a flower
Taken from the morning dew

Even as it sits on his table of feast
Unrecognized as truth

Bob Zappacosta's poems have been published by The Aurorean, Bowersock Gallery, Pasco Arts Council, PEARL, St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Verdad. His poetic short film "Jack Buchanan—rough cut, a work in progress" was recently shown at Progress Energy Art Gallery. His work can also be found on YouTube.

David Ricchiute

From her scalp
to the towel
on our daughter's lap
fell black hair bluer
than a dead crow mounted
on the end of a high chief's
dancing stick.
Will I? she asks
in what she can spare
from a tongue parched white
by the toxin she’s fed.
But how can I judge
what she might get
the better of
when all there is
is the slimmest
of margins,
and all there are
are odds?

David Ricchiute lives in Granger, Indiana. Work appears in Noon, The Quarterly, The North Atlantic Review, Interim, and First Intensity.

Blue Jars
Laura Rodley

Sunlight collects in the
cobalt blue jars
on my windowsill.

No one taught me
to do this.
I just placed them there.

I want the jar back,
the one I gave to
my neighbor Nettie’s daughter.
It belonged to my mother.

Why did I do that,
give it to her?
My mother didn’t mean
anything to me then.

Apples grow on the dwarf
apple trees we gave Nettie
in her back yard.
She gives me the first one.

Sunlight bursts through the apple
I crunch in my mouth.

Laura Rodley’s is editor of newly released, As You Write It; A Franklin County Anthology, a collection of elder's memoir. Her chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was nominated for a Pen New England L.L. Winship Award and also a Mass Book Award by the publisher Finishing Line Press. Her chapbook Rappelling Blue Light was also nominated for a Mass Book Award. Her work has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She loves all wildlife and the ocean.

Walking on the Beach
Stan Galloway

Walking on the beach
with you by Diamond Head,
beneath a moon as large
as anything, I find
my tongue unable to
express the happiness
I feel. Your hand in mine
won’t settle, pulsing, squeezing,
telling me that what
our tongues can’t say our bodies
know. We stop and let
tied tongues touch instead.

Stan Galloway teaches English at Bridgewater College in Virginia. He was nominated Best of the Net in 2011. His chapbook Abraham is forthcoming from Sierra Delta Press (2012). He has had more than 60 poems appear in print and online, including the Summer 2011 issue of Boston Literary Magazine, and has also written a book of literary criticism, The Teenage Tarzan.

It was a Giraffe
Danny Earl Simmons

Actually, it was a recipe holder.

Ok, it was a stick painted yellow
with brown spots and a glued-on
clothes-pin stuck into a styrofoam
cup filled with plaster of Paris.

It was a Mother’s Day present.

It came from kindergarten
and it was in my hands when I got mad.
(Mom, it’s my turn to sit up front!)

It was unwrapped by my stomping feet.

It is the eyes shut tight
taint of every Mother’s Day since.

Nursing on a Park Bench
Danny Earl Simmons

He squawks for his next drink
like a hunched-over, half-drunk
curmudgeon of a wobbly wino
with a lifetime of sorrows to drown.

She attends like a bawdy barmaid—
busty, casual about modesty—
and serves with an affectionate
familiarity that turns faces red.

I wag my head, smile at passersby,
reach into the bag, unfold the little blue
rocket-ship swaddle, pause, watch
their stare and refold the blanket.

Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He has loved living in the Mid-Willamette Valley for over 30 years. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and currently serve on the Board of Directors of Albany Civic Theater. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Avatar Review, Summerset Review, The Smoking Poet, The Monarch Review, Poetry Quarterly, Gold Man Review, Full of Crow Poetry, Burning Word, Other Rooms, Pale Horse Review, Toe Good Poetry, and Pirene’s Fountain.

I said I’d never wear
a T-shirt saying free somebody now.
Enslave somebody, yes.

Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. He has published 100 short stories and 200 poems; his website is at www.pw.org/content/robert_laughlin.

Jessica Lynn Wickman

After stuffing myself
with Spanish tapas, and cool sangria,
I am riding home
from one end of the line
to the other
among Saturday night socialites.

Four girls
from BU or BC
in black lace tops
apply gloss to puckered lips,
passing the tube hand to hand.

The blonde with flat, ironed hair
picks at her nails, but carefully,
as not to remove the polish.
“My manicure is already chipping.”

A dull-featured brunette chirps
as she applies
the cotton candy gloss:
“When did you get it?”

“This morning.
I should really shoot for Mondays.”

“Why’s that?” the brunette sings back.

“I always end up chipping
my nails on beer cans
during the weekend.”

All four nod
in agreement.
The group exits
when the train stops at Kenmore,
heels clacking on cements steps.

Jessica Lynn Wickman graduated from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She currently resides just outside of Boston and spends her free time baking, reading, knitting, and photographing her surroundings. She is a three-time EVVY Award nominee, and her work has been published in The Emerson Review and Literary Laundry. She currently works in the resource development department of an international nonprofit.

Homecoming Queen
Douglas Polk

The blond hair seen through the bus window,
even a lighter color than before,
she always was a small town beauty,
a favorite child,
eyes sparkling,
a smile radiating an inner joy,
she remains a community treasure,
shared by all,
stepping off the bus,
the eyes no longer sparkle,
a quiet strength replaces the inner joy,
Iraq once only a place on a map in history class,
now a memory hard to forget,
she nods at the town people politely,
as they grab and hug her tight,
and kiss her cheeks,
while her eyes search for,
and focus on family,
her features pleading to just let her be,
this a private time,
not a moment to be shared in public,
the irony,
finally home,
and at the same time homesick for a past,
which died in the war.

Douglas Polk

a young child sits in the recliner next to me,
a girl,
bald with a smile to light up the room,
accompanied by her older sister and mom and dad,
no tears evident,
yet the moisture felt,
sodden and heavy,
souls in search of the sun.

Douglas Polk is a poet living in the wilds of central Nebraska with his wife and two boys. He has had numerous poems , three books of poems, and two children's books published. Poetry books are: In My Defense, The Defense Rests, and On Appeal. The children's books are: The Legend of Garle Pond, and Marie's Home.

Bridget Gage-Dixon

Grandmother says needlepoint is something
a girl needs to know, so I clutch a canvas
as she pulls strips of tape, explains the need to bind
the edges in order to keep them from unraveling.

As she folds the first strip over the top,
she speaks of making her sampler,
of the blessings a woman must create
for her family, reminds me of the importance
of secure, smooth creases to keep
our work intact.

I dare not say I have no interest in the difference
between back stitch and basket weave,
because there in the bin between us,
generations have assembled their expectations.
With thin hands she threads string through the needle’s eye,
with a precision my hands will never know,
instructs me to slide the thread across my tongue,
says the moisture of my mouth will ease
unruly strays.

Good girls learn to stay silent,
No man wants to be told he’s wrong,

I allow the slim strand to slip through my lips,
to blur beneath my gaze as I press it
toward the needle’s tiny eye, recall the preacher’s words
a camel and a rich man.

The truth is, it’s a skill I never learn,
though I practiced for years,
though more than once I pricked my skin,
mixed my blood into the fabric.

I embroider only in ink,
weave my blessings with words,
tell my daughter it’s something a girl
needs to know, how to keep a loose tongue,
to always unravel the edges.

Bridget Gage-Dixon spends her days cajoling other people’s teenagers to read great books and utilize proper grammar and her nights cajoling her own teens to pick up after themselves. She lives in a small house in the woods where she can often be found at her computer agonizing over word choice. Her work has appeared in several journals including Poet Lore, The New York Quarterly, and Cortland Review.

Christopher Bullard

The snow’s the saga of the local tom,
pads printing the same ideogram
across the scroll of the patio,
as he sniffs rivalry’s fragrance, or hunts,
ears bristling for bird rhythms.
This summer, he snatched a chipmunk
who took a too familiar path through the garden.
He’d love to get one of the goldfish
living too deep for his reach.
Strokes brushed by his belly describe
his contemplation beside the moon-white pond.
He must have crouched here remembering
glimmering subjects now invisible.

Creation Myth
Christopher Bullard

~ for Robin

Silly Putty was a Trickster,
who came from an egg.
He was shiny with confidence.
He could bounce. He could take any shape.
He could look like your favorite cartoon hero.
Slinky was a Fool. She thought she was so strong.
She fell for Silly Putty, but she got tired of how
he twisted everything around.
One day, she went swish-swish down the stairs and out the front door.
“Don’t go, baby,” shouted Silly Putty, “I’ll change.”
When she didn’t come back, he lay in the sun and shriveled up.
Around that time my world started.

Chris Bullard is a native of Jacksonville, FL. He lives in Collingswood, NJ, and works for the federal government as an Administrative Law Judge. His work appears in the current issues of Pleiades, 32 Poems, New York Quarterly and Plainsongs. He is the author of You Must Not Know Too Much (Plan B Press, 2009) and O Brilliant Kids (Big Table Publishing Company Chapbooks Series, 2011.).

Thai Comic Books
Burgess Needle

It wasn’t a school day, but
These children looked as if they’d
Never been in school regardless
Of the time
They were far more intimate with
The water buffalo under the bridge
Than with texts or blackboards
While all around spring rice planting
Went on forever and ever as it had
All their brief lives and the only
Excitement occurred when the
Foreigner arrived, sat on a bench
Right on their own bridge and opened
Pages and pages of pictures that seemed
To tell a story then another and it all
Went on as the water’s footprint
Shrunk and the little girl holding
The tiny baby tightened her grip
And the foreigner kept on reading
So everyone smiled and wondered
What planet he was from

Burgess Needle’s poetry has appeared [or will soon appear in] : Blackbox Manifold (UK), Istanbul Literary Review, Concho River Review, Decanto (UK), Centrifugal Eye, Clockwise Cat, Ken*Again, Under the Radar UK), Kritya (India), Iodine, Prick of the spindle, Flutter, Origami Condom, Red Fez and others. Diminuendo Press published his poetry collection: Every Crow in the Blue Sky: [www.everycrowninthebluesky.com] He taught English for two years in a small Thai village for the Peace Corps, been a co-director of the Southern Arizona Writing Project, co-published and edited Prickly Pear/Tucson [a poetry quarterly] for five years and was a school librarian for thirty years. He lives in Tucson with his wife, Barbara.

Lois Elaine Heckman

That woman is not me.
I know who I am.

Notice the body’s limpness,
like an overripe fig
as it slowly decomposes.
          My body’s supple harmony forms
          symphonies for concerts of passion.

Observe the fading eyes,
with that lackluster opacity
masking release of the inner spark.
          My eyes flash lightning
          that sets expectations ablaze.

Look at the chin’s weary cascade,
dancing with each twist of the head
like fuchsia ballerinas waltzing in the wind.
          My chin is as firm and sturdy
          as a believer’s certainties.

See the shriveled hands:
two parchment palmate leaves
ready to crumble into compost.
          My hands are rifflers and rasps
          that sculpt the marble of mystery.

Envision the languishing brain
on a quest for understanding along
meanders of road-blocked synapses.
          My brain grasps complex concepts
          like gossips catch scuttlebutt.

I know who I am.
That woman is not me.

Lois Elaine Heckman grew up in Los Angeles, receiving a degree in Italian from UCLA. She has lived for many years as an expat in Milan, Italy, becoming a volunteer nurse and first aid instructor for the Italian Red Cross. Her works have been in previous issues of Boston Literary Magazine and also appear in Shot Glass Journal, Victorian Violet Press, Tilt-a-Whirl, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine and Prole, among others. In 2010, she won the New England Shakespeare Festival Rubber Ducky Sonnet Contest.

Defining History
Jim Davis

Driving along the carved arteries
that slice through mountains like sides of beef
witness to the braille of their interior flesh, marbled
shelves of rust, themselves, it seems, do gently rustle,
turnover at daybreak, sleeping giants as they are, forms
under a blanket of Appalachian Flora—alive, despite
their utter facelessness. There is comfort to be found
in anonymity. So goes the journey to the place of our making,
the eastern port where smaller, uglier versions of ourselves—
assuming precision within photography of the time—
first touched ground after weeks against the urging sea,
back and forth, back and forth with their decisions, pitching
half-digested breakfast over the hull. Days go by. Years.
And here’s what it’s been whittled down to: he is sitting indoors,
reading about the most appropriate way to cure an infant
stung by a scorpion: suck and spit, suck and spit, press
a poultice of red mashed potato and tobacco resin at the entry—
when a woman walks past, and he’s sure she is in love with him.
It’s eleven degrees today, and windy, so it’s a feeling
she might never know. However, and he has this
on good word, come down from the mountain giants,
she stays awake at night, half awake, in and out of dream,
thinking of the many times she has walked past him
without ever understanding what she’s missed.

Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College and now lives, writes and paints in Chicago. Jim edits the North Chicago Review, and will be appearing as the feature artist for the upcoming issue of Palooka Magazine. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in After Hours, Blue Mesa Review, Poetry Quarterly, The Ante Review, Chiron Review, and Contemporary American Voices, among others. www.jimdavispoetry.com.

Family Tripping
Judith Donner Hancock


For his birthday my father wants a family trip.
We‘ll visit Krakow, explore our roots, my sister says.
Dad wants the Costa Brava where he and mom
traveled before she died.
Me, I just love to travel.
I’ll go anywhere.


If your father wants the Costa Brava
it’s his money my husband says.
My sister wonders if we’ll get along.
We haven’t been the five of us in years.
We’ll meet for dinner and go our separate ways her husband says.
What about your father my husband asks.
We can take turns watching him my sister says.
Then you and I will watch him all the time my husband whispers.
This family never pulls together I cry.
Not even when mom was alive.


Back home my husband suggests a family trip—
just you and me, he says.

Is it Friday
Judith Donner Hancock


One lightening reconciliation
in New York,
her pain present even then.
One tight squeeze good bye,
more than we ever said before.


Is it Friday she asks when next we speak.
No, it’s Sunday—
so I don once more a role foresworn forever—
she, smarty genius lacking sense,
me, pretty caretaker for all.


Hers was a life I thought I wanted.
With luck and living long the past lets go.

Judith Donner Hancock has had work published in Jewish Affairs, Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Buffalo Spree Magazine and Jus/Write. Her plays have been showcased by Scripts Up, produced by End Times Productions, and staged-read by Glasslight Theatre Company and EyeBLINK Entertainment. This spring, her poetry will appear in Poetica, Jewish Affairs and Adoption Today.

Monday Wednesday Friday
I hand her my card
tingling from the morning chill
or sweaty from a trot through the yard

Have a good workout, Brian
thank you I say
as I head briskly for the mat
preparing for the rigors of the day

Lifting weights and stretching
running 'round the track
I head eagerly to the shower
and to the front desk I'm back

Have a good one Brian
she says as I go
I realize she means well
But the name's not Brian, you know

I don’t believe in heaven,
nor do I believe in hell.
For rabbis, priests and ministers
my disdain I must quell.

Buddhas and gods
karma and reincarnation.
This has little to do
with the state of our nation.

Tell me no more
about Zen and inner selves.
I am more prone
to mind the grocery shelves.

Science reigns supreme
and is the pillar of society.
Don’t give me that crap
about religion and piety.

A fatal diagnosis
this is no lie.
Right now I’ll believe in anything
just don’t let me die.

There’s talk these days
about the virtues of abstinence.
STDs, unwanted pregnancies,
too many abortions.

In marriage,
abstinence also has its advantages.
No effort required,
more time for hobbies.

So why
do couples dissolve ‘round the issue of sex?
Sex may be 1% of a marriage,
but it has veto.

Steve Caplan is the author of two novels, Matter Over Mind and Welcome Home, Sir. In his spare time, he is a scientist and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. This is his first clash with the world of poetry.

I Beat Him Every Time
Christopher Reilley

He never gave up, but I was more skilled
Even though he tried so hard.
His Rock’em Sock’em robot always got killed
And I forever played the winning card.

At backgammon we made up our own set of rules
But the luck of the dice fell my way.
In Museum Jackpot I collected more jewels
Until he cried and refused to play.

I beat him at Othello, Risk and Candy Land,
His Battleship got sunk every single time.
Whether Poker, War, or Fish, I had the winning hand,
And at Clue I solved each and every crime.

“But it’s not fair!” he said in a voice with a whine,
As I whipped him at checkers once more.
It is true the victories always seemed to be mine
And as a loser he was continually sore.

Of course, I know the honest truth
For my continued gaming perfection,
I was alone for most of my youth,
Competing against my own reflection.

The Poem I Meant to Write
Christopher Reilley

I regret not writing you down,
You swam through my mind
Linking words and thoughts
With gossamer chains
That glistened with meaning,

But the kitchen can was calling my name
Using the voice of my wife.
There were skinned knees to be kissed,
Equations to be sorted out,
House rules to be followed.

Has the opportunity passed?
Have you flown, like a caged bird
Through a conveniently open window?
Are you even now winging toward
Another poet, a different writer?

I have the scraps, the fragments,
The word-pieces I had intended
To build you from.
I will try to arrange them so,
In hopes they cast the same shadow.
Like my grandmother’s smile
You linger just behind my eye,
Waiting for me,
Wanting to be released
In just the ‘write’ form.

Christopher Reilley is the current poet laureate for Dedham, MA. His work is wide ranging and diverse, appearing in publications such as Frog Croon, Word Salad Poetry Magazine, Byzantine, and Poems For Kids. He is the author of "Grief Tattoos" a chapbook featuring poems of rage & redemption, and is working on several collections; a full length illustrated manuscript of his erotic poems, a collection of his poetry prompts as published on Twitter over the course of 2011, and a collection of his original proverbs and sayings entitled "Just sayin".

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