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Fresh from a State
Larry D. Thomas

hospital, he stepped
into his pulpit
of a vacant bus stop
and let his sermon roll.
His diction was flawless,
indistinguishable

from Malcolm’s, Jackson’s
or King’s. Crowned
with laurels of dreadlocks,
his chest expanded
as a baritone’s,
he spoke sans flubbing

a single phrase
from noon till well
into the night,
exhorting as brethren
the deaf, metallic ears
of passing cars.

Bumblebee
Larry D. Thomas

All I could see
was his hairy feet
and the point
of his abdomen.
He had burrowed
deep into the bloom

of a hibiscus,
his antennae
crushed against the base
of the stigma.
In the red
silken sheen of petals,

he kept digging
till his feet gave out
and he lay there
drowsy as a toddler
dreaming of gummy bears
and the colors of new crayons.

Larry D. Thomas, a longtime contributor of poetry to the Boston Literary Magazine, is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and was privileged to serve as the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate. He has published several collections of poems, most recently A Murder of Crows (Virtual Artists Collective 2011). The Lobsterman's Dream (poems of the coast of Maine) is forthcoming from El Grito del Lobo Press (Fulton, MO) in 2013.




Coyote Corridor
Laura Rodley

My saddle of bravery
is cinched upon the back
of my dog, and well she carries
it without knowing
how she is the one
leading me through the coyote corridor,
where I would not go
without the saddle she wears
for me, an invisible one
made of the many times
I have run my hands
across her back
while she sat waiting
scouting the terrain of my eyes.

Pushcart Prize winner, and three time Pushcart Nominee, Laura Rodley’s chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, Mass Book Award nominee won honorable mention for New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook, Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award; both published by Finishing Line Press with work nominated for Best of the Net. Former co-curator of Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing, works as freelance writer and photographer, and edited “As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology," Volumes I and II, and the newly minted Volume III edition, compilations of writing from seniors in their seventies to nineties.




Brown Sugar
Oleh Lysiak

Daybreak’s jukebox jive
layers Beethoven's Fifth over
Cocker's Feelin' Alright. A spastic
shuffle, baton to strings, he
throws open spalted alder
cupboard doors for oatmeal
and brown sugar.

Oleh Lysiak is author of Art, Crime & Lithium, Barely Inside The Lines, Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid In The American Zoo, Scars In Progress, Geezer Rumba.




After the Snowstorm
Isaac Black

that afternoon sun was like a Kodak postcard,
sending prisms of light through the icicles
I was counting. Forty-five years old, my hair
speckled-gray, I sat under the awning
at my old side door, catching a thousand
drips of questions in my open palm. I was as
dizzy as the day I found out that there was no
tooth fairly or Santa. Dad was dead. But
I could hear him whispering about Jackie
Robinson, Joe Lewis, the Scottsboro Boys.
I wanted to walk backwards, go find my netted
bag of cat's-eyes. I'd knuckle-up again,
make the greatest shots ever in the dirt
circle. I hated the word angina, how Dad's
chest pains would come and go, the necessary
bypass he never would agree to. His folded
US flag warming my lap, I could still hear
that bugle from the early morning funeral.
I started to cry. How many times had I heard
him say, "Sit here, close to me," as if I were
a nitrate or some other multi-colored pill?
Perhaps that's why that day, I thought of
the .25 caliber Raven (with its matchbox
of tiny bronze bullets), I'd found in our attic
when I was seventeen. Daddy, why hadn't
I targeted the oak in our backyard, considered
offing the squirrels? Sure, I went inside
the house when it got dark, hoping to find
Dad in his easy-chair, likely a book in his
hands, smelling of Old Spice. Yes, I put
a battery in your watch, slid your gold ring
on my finger. I guess I took over 98,785 sleep—
walking steps. With one jab, I put a hole in
the study-room's plywood wall. Our talks
hadn't been nearly enough. Couldn't you
have said more about Brer Rabbit, The Train
That Could? And what of the ornate beauty
of snowflakes and icicles? Or the untold
story of that .25 caliber pistol I could have
hidden in any pocket, that was still there—
loaded, godly and all-powerful, in the attic?

Isaac Black (an MFA graduate of Vermont College), has published in journals like the Beloit Poetry Journal, Callaloo, Poetry Quarterly, and Red River Review. Founder of a major 501(c) college help organization, he's been awarded the Gwendolyn Brooks Literary Award for fiction and Broadside Press Award for poetry. He's also the recipient of fellowships from the New York State Creative Artists Service Program (CAPS) and New York Foundation of the Arts. Isaac's the author of the African American Student's College Guide (John Wiley & Sons). His first poetry collection, Hourglass, is looking for a publisher.





April first, and sun pours
through windows. Earth
bound in morning coats or
ribbed sweaters, we fiddle
with pens and three-ring
binders. With heavy-lidded
eyes we greet each other, old
bears passing in deep woods.
Suddenly we, all of us, are
light as children. Our faces
glow in the bright afternoon.
Who could have predicted
this, how everyone here would
rise as one, airborne in our
surprise agreement, for once
a sole agenda, attuned only
to how this meeting floats away?

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. In 2012 Flutter Press published two chapbook: My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word and My Father Had Another Eye. His latest chapbook, Blue Season, a collaboration with Joseph Lisowski, will appear this summer from mgv2>.




Hospice Nurse
Myra King

She sculptures tears
gathered from the curve of happiness
the crease of grief
the sharp points of loves lost
she rounds them smooth
wipes them away
but always she changes them
into something
more beautiful
the glint of hope
the grain of remembrance
the peace of acceptance
forever shared in her eyes
and shaped in this place of sometimes forgotten souls.

Myra King is an Australian writer living on the coast of South Australia. She has written a number of prize winning poems and short stories including a first prize in the UK based Global Short Story competition. Among other publications her work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Little Episodes, Illya’s Honey Journal, Red River Review, Short Story America, The Fiction Shelf, Orbis, Eclecticism, Knowonder, Heron’s Nest NY, The Valley Review, San Pedro River Review and The Foundling Review. She has a short story collection, City Paddock, published by Ginninderra Press. Her novel, Cyber Rules, was published by Certys UK in 2012. She is currently seeking an agent for her two YA novels. Email: myra1055@gmail.com




Box Thorn Lavender
Al Ortolani

The dog snaps his teeth at gnats.
Randy chews a cigar in the reflection
of the rearview, sun spilling into
the truck cab, highway snaking
the Pecos towards Terlingua.
He once practiced kissing
by imagining the mirror
as Sheila Davenport, queen
of the King Coal Parade. Today’s
crown is woven of box thorn,
desert’s nightshade, a lavender flower
with spikes. Charlie Miller
is done pissing. He climbs back
into the driver’s seat, readjusting
the mirror. Hey, he says, sucking
the blood from his hand,
that flower just stabbed me.

Truce
Al Ortolani

I.

Maria sews when she's brooding.
I see her this way once in a while
and I know something is up.
Usually, it involves me.
I try to cheer her, dancing
the room, singing Ring of Fire.
She pushes the needle
through the cloth, bites,
snaps the thread with her teeth.
I step back into the kitchen
and pour myself a tomato beer;
the amber thickens as if with blood.

II

My boots are dusty. I trace two
tracks across the leather
from toe to heel. One trip
to Stella's and new dust
will cover the old. Eventually,
they will find their way
to the back of the closet.
In time someone will dig up
a landfill, laying out a grid work
of strings and wire labels. They'll use
trowels and toothbrushes.
Look at these old cowboy boots,
some pot hunter will say.

III.

My usual seat at Stella's. Part
of my reflection in the mirror
is blocked by a display of Red River
Beef Jerky. Benny Adams
cleans glasses. Whenever I wave
a finger,
he brings me another.

Al Ortolani is a public school teacher in the Kansas City area. His poetry and reviews have appeared in journals such as SoftBlow, Camroc Press Review, New Letters, The Quarterly, The Boston Literary Magazine, Poetry Bay and the New York Quarterly. He has three books of poetry, The Last Hippie of Camp 50 and Finding the Edge, published by Woodley Press at Washburn University and Wren's House, published by Coal City Press in Lawrence, Kansas. His newest collection, Cooking Chili on the Day of the Dead, will be published by Aldrich Press in 2013. He is an editor for The Little Balkans Review and works closely with the Kansas City Writer's Place.




Music of the Rain
Richard Schnap

There was the band with a guitarist
Who became a bus driver
And married a girl
With a cleft palate

The band with a drag queen
Who moved to New York
Returning with H.I.V.
And a heroin addiction

The band with a veteran
Who served in Vietnam
And ended every show
Singing “Dock of the Bay”

And the band with a woman
Who performed dressed in black
Whose quiet voice echoed
For the few who were there

Tour Diary
Richard Schnap

There was the show in a basement
With graffiti-scrawled walls
The show in a museum
With silkscreened celebrities
The show in a dive bar
With a cabinet full of skulls
The show in a men’s club
With designer-clad whores

But the show I remember
As the one I loved most
Was outside on a bandstand
On a long sloping hill
Where the sun set behind us
In a curtain of fire
As if we accompanied
The end of the world

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.




Spectrography
Danny Earl Simmons

There is a red-hot remembering
at the mention of her name—
the growing pink upon her cheeks,
intensity of breaths, closing eyes.

There is a white-hot regret
that follows and a speechlessness
that has never gone away, an acrid
leaking in the middle of my chest.

There is a dark gray shame
that draws on my shoulders
and causes my eyes to blink wet.
I dare to look to you.

There is a deep-blue peace
that comes with the tilt of your head,
the resting of your hand on my cheek.
You lean into me, kiss me.

There is a yellow and a yellow and a yellow.

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 work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Avatar Review, Burningword, Boston Literary Magazine, and Verse Wisconsin.




Barge
Mitch Grabois

She struts her superior brain
around the house
then departs for work
leaving the breakfast dishes
scattered on the counter
(where her cat licks egg yolk off her plate)
for me to take care of
It’s a short walk from here to her office
at the Big Prestigious U
Her head floats atop her neck
like a barge floating down the Mississippi
She doesn’t hear
the music piping from the paddle-wheeler’s calliope
doesn’t hear birdsong
or a student playing his guitar
That’s all too trivial for her auditory nerves to register
Her head’s full of
ten thousand ways that women have been victimized
and today
if she’s on her game
she’ll impart a mere dozen to her students

Mitch Grabois was born in the Bronx and now lives in Denver. His short fiction, poetry and vignettes can be found in close to one-hundred literary magazines, most recently The Examined Life, Memoir Journal, Out of Our, and Turbulence (England). His novel, Two-Headed Dog, published by Xavier Vargas E-ditions, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (which also provides downloads to PC’s).




The Lovers
Stephen Barry

Strangers,
survivors of separate shipwrecks
adrift in a cold and silent sea.
Clinging to a common float
fingers entwined and eyes locked,
seeking from warmth to give warmth,
willing a passionate heat
in desperate hope
against the numbing embrace of the icy tide
which carries them further away from home.

Stephen Barry is a trial lawyer, fly fisherman, and Dad living and working in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. His poetry has appeared in Yes, Poetry, Indigo Rising Magazine, and other publications.




East Eggs
Karen Lake

Walking down the steep
Cuprinol-thirsty deck
stairs to let the dog out, I almost step on

a deck-colored nest,
a brilliant blue egg nestled inside.
Why here and not a nice quiet branch

of realty? Did the Thrushes build
it here for me to see? She lays
one egg daily the next three days:

Now a cluster of four
Ceylon star sapphires
set in twig and mire.

I gate the top and bottom sanctuary flight
of stairs—keep out
my unneighborly dog and the cat

who lives next door.
Mother is good and unflighty—
doesn’t leave the nest. You’d never see her

on Dr. Phil. One day I discover
a scrawny, wet, pink fetus
without a womb.

One by one, the sibs hatch and through
my basement bird’s-eye window
I view two doting parents—

better than watching TV:
Harriet stays home with the kids
while Ozzie’s gone to get food.

If she leaves the nest, he baby-sits.
Both feed the brood. She’s home most
of the time, while he’s out flitting around,

doing who knows what (at the local watering
hole?) but he always brings home the worms.
I worry about the babies

and the parents, all in my tutelage.
A few weeks later, the nest is empty—
the youngest has already left for college.
The parents free as birds.

Karen Lake lives and writes in Weymouth on the South Shore of Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in The Watermark, Tak'til, Flutter Poetry Journal and Rhyme & PUNishment.




Ask Me How
Doug Mathewson

Being a successful patient advocate isn't easy.
Be “pleasantly persistent.”
No raising your voice or using the “F” word.
Does not help, ask me how I know.

Doug Mathewson is best known for his mixed-media sculptures, certainly not his written work. The art-world remains unimpressed with the exception of his “Head-of-Goliath-a-Day” series. He portrays the famous image of young David with the severed head of the giant Goliath in dioramas contained within walnut shell halves. David could be a media figure, robot, space squid, film star, or just someone on the bus The artist is always the head. He works with Pandemonium Press, as well as Full of Crow Press and Distribution. More of his work can be found at little2say.




My Grandfather's Hands
John Valentine

No meat hooks. Or ballast. Nowhere
a mechanic’s bruises. Or leverage.
Ghost of a handshake in church. Graceful,
though, that gnarled beauty. Rheumatoid.
Brittle-thin skin, like wax paper that almost
wasn’t there. Fingers curling in the clump.
Useless. Old veined leaves, fallen. Last
of the season. Something he’d sometimes
raise, wonder at. Nothing like old friends
no longer by his side. But these would never
go to the devil. In the pale evening light I
could almost see them rise, luminescent,
leaving everything behind, like lace angels
on their fragile way to forever.

John Valentine teaches philosophy at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, GA. He's had poetry published in The Sewanee Review, International Poetry Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Mudlark, Southern Poetry Review, Snake Nation Review, The Adirondack Review, and other journals. He's also had five chapbooks published with Pudding House Publications and one with Big Table Publishing.





In slippers, shorts and vest. Watches
his team lose. His hands fly to his face,
move up, pull at his hair. Idiots!
My God, only two inches to the right!
He scratches his balls. Shuffles over
to the kitchen counter. Mum, no coffee.

Mum doesn’t hear his need. He swears,
burps and gets pissed off. He can see
her in the yard looking after the bloody
chickens. For a moment there he feels
passionate about his own survival.

Lacking the will and the skill for coffee
he falls back onto the couch. Shakes
one of the cans. Some beer’s left in one.
While they’re in half time, some chick
with two impressive fakes and an even
bigger fake smile it trying to sell some gadget
to get good abbs. Won’t work for him.

Absent-mindedly he fondles his
expanding gut. Farts. He’s feeling good
again, even though Mum had mentioned
work. But he knows that there’s no way
he’ll be out all day leaving the poor
old dear running the farm all on her own.

A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm now lives and works in Lima, Peru. Two novels and a poetry collection (TANGENTS) have been published in the UK. Her latest poems have appeared—or are forthcoming—in US poetry reviews. Among others: Toe Good Poetry, Poetry Breakfast, Morgen Bailey, Burning Word, Muddy River Review, Pale Horse Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Other Rooms, Requiem Magazine, Full of Crow, Poetry Quarterly, Punchnel’s, Avatar, Verse Wisconsin, Naugatuck River Review...




Scientific Purposes
Timothy Gager

Your scent remains
from today when we
were like an isotherm
which took the longest distance
from two points:

A drive to an empty parking lot
then to a Days Inn where we watched TV,
conducted experiments, concluded
our hypothesis kicked butt
of a mere supposition

Timothy Gager is the author of eight books of fiction and poety. He lives on www.timoghygager.com.




Doomsday
Joan Colby

Below ground, dystopia rules
a dark universe of cached
foods, kerosene and bottled water.
Ammunition for as many guns
as it takes to keep the neighbors out.

The child he took for company
is wrong, won’t look him in
the eye, play checkers, talk,
just bobs his head this way
and that as if acknowledging
some inner music.

Now they shout down the air
pipe. He won’t be misled,
calculating how long he can
hold out. Up above they lift
voices to heaven. He’s 65, the kid
is maybe 7. He spreads the
bread with jam, says Here.

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner.. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), , Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review's James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 10 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers, The Atrocity Book and her newest book from Future Cycle Press—“Dead Horses.” FutureCycle will also publish “Selected Poems” in 2013.




Work
Mihir Vatsa

before leaving for the trip
you remembered you had some work to finish
and stayed back

under the sunlight filtering through the summer leaves
we drove the car to the sanctuary
and saw deer munch on figs

the water in the lake was receding
its depth shrunk under the heat
and you could see the shift if you stared long enough

Kanhari Hill proved too much to climb today
so we went to the Rest House for lunch
from where I could see the farthest house in Hazaribagh
which was ours
and it looked like a cell in an open jail
just a bit whiter

you think I don’t know what work is

we return to find the house
just like we’d left it hours ago

except
for my biology notebook
which now stands stacked on the shelf
and that faint smell of sex
that’s been returning for the last two years

     I don’t ask
     and you never tell

Mihir Vatsa can be found in a room on a roof with water bottles. His poems and writings have previously appeared in and forthcoming from Eclectica, Downer Magazine, Contemporary Literary Review- India, The Four Quarters Magazine, and UCity Review, among others. He lives in New Delhi.







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