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Beautifully Wicked
Michael Hill

I sit across the cafe to watch her,
not as I know her,
But as a stranger:

They see the brown silk rappelling
from her crown and
her lightly freckled nose.
But not the wicked laugh that
exposes two rows of white houses,
dipped in deception.

They see skin brushed olive in hue,
And two green emeralds for eyes.
But not the eyelid curtains
cloaking untold craft.

And me, desiring to dissolve
the space between us,
like sugar packets dusted
into French Tea.

Granted a chance to spy,
to hear what she speaks when alone.
Rolling words
gusting past white houses slow and short.
"Merci" she tosses to the waitress,
sliding down a sip of tea.

Eyes laser-beaming her tea—
devouring my addiction,
wrapping me tight in her silk.

Blinking with deliberation,
She lowers eyelashes like long spider legs.
And me,

Michael Hill

"How lovely the little river is, with its dark changing wavelets! It seems to me like a living companion while I wander along the bank, and listen to its low, placid voice ..."—George Eliot

Many a summer spent succumbing to its waves, its chilling power washing over me.
Always true to its twisting form, true to its crisp-pine scent.
Mosey down the sand-dusted banks that kiss your feet with
Sun-baked warmth.

See the sun lean softly on the trees, old as night
Its beauty a soft song of happy days and cannonballs.
In the summer sky, you wrap its song around your arms and sink away.

Its sandy bottom gives the river personality
Many like it have long since shriveled—
Giving way to bottoms jagged and crooked like teeth

Pine needles jump from trees for a chance to swim.
The rush of its water craved cool and smooth
Wave goodbye young adventurer! The Saco is yours to dance on its water

How easy to leave your troubles in one bound
And when you fall to never hit the ground!
Jealousy creeps over me for a stolen second.

Autumn leaves leave reminders of life beyond the water's trance
As the sun rolls off the trees and falls into the pocket of mountains afar.
So long old Saco, friend forever—sing your song of solace.

Michael Hill is currently earning his BBA in Finance at The George Washington University's Business School. He is also a Psychology minor. This is Michael's first public publication but he is in the midst of finishing a collection of his works titled "Upward Plunge". Michael grew up outside of Boston in the suburb of Newton, MA.

Matthew Cote

Foxholes, men within
circulating breaths
breathing one another's lungs
knowing each other's trepidation,
the glut of it thawing their languishing.

"Ever think about your woman back home?"

It's an exercise they do, attritions alchemy.

"Sure. She ain't mine any longer, fuck no.
Love at war is a pretty little peach tree;
feed it, water it while you're around to do so
only to be shipped out before the harvest.
What I'm gettin' at is, those tender little peaches
delicate fibers and ripened flesh, they ain't mine.
Some other man, keen of the juice, is bitin' down
and I don't expect the fruit to cling to the branch
longer than our season will permit."

They laugh, call him some fucking poet
letting him bear the heavy crimes of impatience
those they've all been struck by, far worse
than any bullet or round forged by fellow man.
It pierces a different chamber of the heart.

Lucky foxes, spry and ready in their hovels
barking the night away, together in the commonality
of loss.

Michael Cote lives in Boston, where he is a 4th year English major at Northeastern University. He has had poetry published in Spectrum Magazine and plans on writing, submitting and tirelessly participating in the world of scholarly writing, poetry, and all literary pursuits.

After the Hike
Didi Gibbs Barnett

The sun was tucked into a pillowcase of clouds
        and night pulled tight its dark sheets.

We stoked the fire and watched the sparks soar
        like the newly rising stars

as elk cried out to far off lovers.
        The chill kept to the corners

of camp, slinking in the shadows like a stray cat.
        Our legs hummed from the day's hike

but welcomed the open bottle of wine, the rest.
        Even our eight-year-old was silent

under the weight of the darkening sky.
        Night came quickly, like a giant's palm

pressing down and over our eyes.
        And suddenly the cabin seemed miles away

the shadows held the unknown
        like tiny sacks of surprise.

We were almost hypnotized by the flames
        as our cheeks seemed to blossom

from their warmth. And finally, our lips
        were as still as our minds.

Didi Gibbs Barnett teaches Art History and Humanities in Central Florida where she lives with her eleven-year-old son and husband. Her work has appeared in other journals such as Revelry, Cypress Dome, and Brushing.

Afternoon Barbecue
Michael Keshigian

The women share a secret,
until we enter their circle,
when they think we can't see.
We ask them for a hint
but they only lower their eyes
and smile delicately
from the corners of their mouths.
It only increases our desire
to know.
Perhaps it was something
they did long ago,
consequences notwithstanding,
the memory possesses
a lingering sweetness.
This might explain their camaraderie,
the way they rest their chins
on the curl of their fists,
stare at each other
with intense intrigue.
Tell us one story
or give us a clue.
Whisper a sentence
or even a word
that might carry
in the warm summer breeze
when you close your eyes
to remember.

Jazz Face
Michael Keshigian

There's not just one, it depends on the style,
the performer and his instrument.
Like the one that's the favorite
of trumpet players, you know,
the one with the crumpled face
and the pained look of focus
just before he blasts high C.
Every note in the upper range
becomes a new source of agony.
Then there's the face
of philosophical perplexity,
the one used by trombone players
when they reach higher than they should,
eyebrows lifted against the hairline,
chin extended and tucked into the throat,
usually during a technical lick in numerous positions.
Of course, there are the sax players
and their ballads, eyelids nearly closed,
head in a languorous droop
that sometimes lolls back
and swivels side to side
to help kick in an arousing vibrato.
And then the drummer
with his classic wild man look,
crazy faced with the fixed grin
and scary stare, like he's about
to lurch off his seat, unlike
the piano player, the aristocrat
with his proud, confident posture,
convinced that for the next few hours
he and his ensemble own your soul,
how he notices you've immersed yourself
in the excitement and emotion of the music,
with your intense squint and locked grin,
that empathetic grimace
especially obvious when your head bobs feverishly
in a contagious yet effusive sign of approval.

MICHAEL KESHIGIAN is a musician, writer, and educator with multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominations, including five published chapbooks. His poetry has appeared in numerous national and international journals as well as many online publications, including Avocet, Mannequin Envy, Pebble Lake Review, Sahara, and Red River Review. Recently, he was featured in the Fall 2007 Writer in the Spotlight series in Boston Literary Magazine.

Oleh Lysiak

You can have it all, only
not all at the same time
and not necessarily
the way you want it.
You have to pay for it
but don't get to keep it.
A sense of humor helps.

Fingertip Blind
Oleh Lysiak

Fingertip blind,
in greasy contortionist angles
under my 53 Hudson,
I thread final nuts
onto manifold studs.
Up on blocks in the dirt
in my shop, the Twin-H Power
Hornet fires eight years after
the geezer who worked on her last died.
One hand on the suicide knob,
elbow cool out the window rolled down,
in midnight blue upholstery vapors, in
the dashboard’s chrome roundness,
in her headlights and taillights and highlights,
I hope to arrive in the 50s later today.

Oleh Lysiak is married to Christina Peterson. They live on the Oregon Coast. Lysiak is working on his fourth book while he restores a 1953 Hudson.

At the Big Aquarium
Nadine Gallo

Jellyfish pulsating like ballerinas—the nets
are filled with them. They roll
out with the shrimp like rubber balls,
inedible as crows.

I've seen the videos
at the big Aquarium,
Boston's waterfront motel
for barracudas, manatees,
sharks and giant turtles.

Jellyfish thrive on hypoxia,
are boneless, carefree and dance
to distant music.

Along the path we meet a blue heron standing
As if in meditation, neck curved for looking up
While the cattails form a screen between us.

Yesterday he flew across the swamp, over green
Lily pads, sky reflected in water, beaver dam
Bristling with twigs, water singing around it.

The first monarch butterfly lands on a leaf,
A red winged blackbird flies low over berry bushes
A big bellied biker stops to chat about the beauty.

He rode all the way over here from Chicopee, his migration.

Nadine Gallo writes and reviews on thenextbigwriter.com. Under their harsh lash she has produced two novels and many stories and poems. Amherst Writers Workshop helped shape her sensitive side. She is married to Ernie, a chili pepper professor, and mother of a physician and a fine furniture maker. Three brilliant grandchildren distract her from writing.

Danny P. Barbare

In the evening, slight of
sun, Cisco is in the grass.
How memories run, be happy
little dog in your new home
though we could not keep you
when we are done with this
life I'll see you where the Son
meets the earth and we will
all walk along the old glittering

Danny P. Barbare has been published in The Houston Literary Review, Canopic Jar, The Santa Barbara Review, and many other magazines and journals.

Coming Home
Ravi H. Mangla

It's funny that the gum I thumbed
under the chair is still there ten years later,
and the bicycle playing cards in the drawer,
and the books are arranged in the same way;
from tallest to shortest.
It's funny how some things stay the same,
but it's never the things you'd expect
or need to stay the same,
like the bicycle playing cards in the drawer,
while the ghosts in the living room
waltz disturbingly,
and I play solitaire on the seat of the chair.

Morning Shift
Ravi H. Mangla

I drive through a dark fog
in a cold car; deaf to
the engine's morning cough.
I'm still tired and imagine
myself back in bed.

Me and the baker step
outside for a cigarette
before work. He talks
about his vintage car
and his plasma TV.

The sun stirs
like a flashlight
in the dusky corner
of an old cellar,
searching again
for some lost trinket.

Ravi H. Mangla resides in Fairport, New York.

Doggone Yankees
John Thomas Clark

Lex settles into the household routine
rather easily. From the beginning,
he takes an avid interest in the Yanks
and he demonstrates, during his third game,
how deep his grasp of pitching in relief
is. At the arrival of this rookie,
Lex hurls his last after-dinner cookie
treat with a gasp. Lex stares in disbelief;
his ears move forward as he hears the name
announced. He tilts his head. "No way he blanks
these guys," says Lexie's look. "The tenth inning
and tied? Use Mo1." So Lex woofs at the screen,
and at me, and goes to bed without being told
while, all by myself, I watch my Yankees fold.

1. Mo—Mariano Rivera, arguably the best relief pitcher ever in baseball

Master of the House
John Thomas Clark

Tho' the family eased through the house that June
morning to let me grab a few extra winks,
I heard a sizzling thrombotic threesome—
bacon, egg, cheese—mayo'ed on a kaiser
roll&mdashmy favorite. I heard a gentle foof
at the bedside. Over on my shoulder
I rolled. Foof. And foof again. A bolder
one followed. Still another. Now a woof
came. Lex bolted—my front door adviser
was needed. Lexie's nails in a gleesome
dance clicked the kitchen floor. His hyper jinks
meant one thing—John was here. Over the moon,
Lex raced to back me, eager to share his bliss
so he slathered my ear with a Father's Day kiss.

John Thomas Clark lives in Scarsdale, NY with his wife Ginny, daughter Chris and his black lab, Lex — the best service dog in the world. A retired NYC teacher, his poetry has appeared in or will be published in The Recorder— Journal of the American-Irish Society, Mediphors, Celtic Fringe, Exit 13, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Lachryma and Hidden Oak. He has written "The Joy of Lex"—an upbeat romp, in sonnet form, which tells the story of life with Lex. "Othering" is his mss of 150 sonnets which recounts the journey of a person who others, who becomes "an other" as he faces a burgeoning physical disability. He has also penned "The Captivity of St Patrick"—a 700 pg novel which provides a window on fifth-century Ireland.

There in the park he stands,
but no one's certain how.
A three-story skeleton of sycamore,
skinned and eviscerated by more than a century of
sun and wind and rain,
posed like a rangy old prizefighter,
waiting for the bell or the knockout punch.
Kept vertical by memories of glories
long since spent,
I guess.

A new poet, Joe Hesch's career as a writer spans more than 30 years in journalism and public affairs in upstate New York. His poem "Night Writer" has been selected for publication in Wanderings. He started writing poetry after attending the 2007 NYS Summer Writers Institute in Saratoga Springs   for nonfiction! Joe resides with his wife, daughters, and Golden Retriever muse Mollie in Albany, New York, from where he draws much of his inspiration.

Invisible Man
Chris Crittenden

the perpetual noneness
is what hurts,
like static eroding
stones by the sea—

except they are my
feelings, desperately
clutched, elbows crossed
like a pharoah who became
a wasps' nest.

who's looking? who sleuths?
was i murdered even though
i still breathe? am i

the postage stamp on unsent hopes,
and why do i break apart
when i run for the cemetery,

my skin fluttering off, mothy,
before i get there?

if only god
would track me down,
aim for my vague
adam's apple.
many times i've been
the mist in his breath.

i wish he would find out.
i wish he would care.

Teenager in Love
Chris Crittenden

into the feline tread
of her guise, he wonders
about defeat and the finish line,

how some purrs unbutton,
others evade,

how the traffic between faces
is meek yet quick,
lips like dahlias
singing his nape,
her tongue a springboard,

or destructive.

no solace in hellos,
or the wall of a hip.
there must be some codex
that explains this game

but the Bible doesn't know,
or the girlie mag
or the gym chatter—

no easy path
through the curvaceous maze,
the sleek feel of her silky
quicksand, the slip
of her bare sway,
the sigils
of the enchantress.

he can only flounder, stumble
and flex,
coax her blush,
strum her murmur,
brave her heat.
no god means as much.
her garden is great.

Chris Crittenden is a fanciful hermit living in the wilds of Maine, obsessed with poetry and producing five drafts a week. After a million edits or so, they go out and generate a billion rejections. A trickle of acceptances has been aided recently by: Drunken Boat, Offcourse, Barnwood Magazine and New Verse News.

He has a tattoo of your name on his left bicep,
a relic from his time in the Navy.

You know all of his freckles and scars,
the weight of his pelvis, the smell of his skin.

So when he finally leaves, for good this time,
and gets his own apartment

only a mile away from the house
(so he can still see the children),

his side of the bed grows unnaturally cold.
He comes back once or twice—

it's not a clean break—but the air is pregnant
with the idea of other women, of the nights

you know he's spent lying on top of someone else
in that freshly painted apartment.

So you throw yourself into your work,
closing the door at lunchtime so no one will see you

cry, and feel like a bad mother because
all the good parents remembered to bake

cupcakes or cookies for the sale at school
to raise money for an owl rescue fund

and you forgot. If it were up to you
right now the owls would all die out.

And then, one night, you run into
a man you used to know, an old friend,

and your ex-husband has the kids
for the weekend, and you end up going

out to dinner at an expensive Italian restaurant
and sharing a gilt-edged plate of tiramisu.

He calls you every night for two months, and then
one weekend when the kids are going to be with their father,

you call and offer to cook him dinner,
and under the dress you wear a black negligée

which you bought during your lunch break
the day before. It's almost identical to one

in your drawer but it feels like a fresh start
nonetheless. You forget to put on any music, though,

and there is an awkward silence as he's undressing
and you see the bare nooks of his arms and can't help

thinking of your ex-husband, his tattoo and all those
freckles, and the memories flicker back

each time the body doesn't look or feel
like the body you've known for so long,

but still you go on making love to a new man
feeling aroused and self-conscious and new yourself.

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books for teens and pre-teens. Her fiction, poetry, essays, and articles have also appeared in a variety of publications including Queen's Quarterly, 42opus, Tipton Poetry Journal, Brink Magazine, Autumn Sky Poetry, Clapboard House, Salome Magazine, and several anthologies. Audio versions of some of her poems are available on her podcast Leah Browning Podcast. In addition to writing, Browning serves as editor of the Apple Valley Review, an online literary journal.

What I Never Said
Carol Lynn Grellas

We gather, a cluster of us;
a flock of birds that share a meal
peck away tidbits
as if we've been starving for days.

This is our fondue evening. Gruyere
drips on even tables and we pretend
the day is another in a lengthy
list of more to come.

This is how we do it—
We get through life like this.
Never mentioning her husband's
hushed affairs, the neighbor's brush

with cancer, his sister's death
from melanoma. We smoother ourselves
with cheese and French bread, twirled in steam,
laced over sleeping tongues—

I imagine stepping naked
into a field of trumpet lilies.
My skin shedding across the whiteness
until I'm a shade of light.

A clear flash that floats unaided
warmed in golden tones;
a wandering flame flickering
in the breeze of a summer's day.

A steady grin skims my face,
I have no pulse. I am intangible.
I am outside of myself.
Beyond breathing.

I have forgotten my own nightmares,
clammy flesh, the anklet wedged
in the bathroom drawer that once
was hers. Holes worn through the heel

she never had the chance to mend—
The way my skin loves the rain,
how I miss running in galoshes,
the scent of my girl's hair;

sweet as cantaloupes cut in half
and how it reminds me of tuberose.
The potato-vine that blooms
year-round over the wood slats

where a swing dangles below
whooshing to and fro with the wind.
The huddle of mallards that bath
in the pool, my view

from the window, just a glimpse,
the way they march one by one
onto the deck and dry off
in the burning sun

wings of emerald- blue.
But this is a passing instant
outside this clever repartee
thin and shallow as a stagnant lake.

These hours of chitchat on a casual
Saturday before I knew I'd find
myself lost in a roomful
of strangers.

Qualm Before the Storm
Carol Lynn Grellas

I have this insane
that one day
you and I
will be buried
in the same plot,
me beneath you,
as I'll probably be
the first to go.
I'm rather concerned
that for the time
I'm awaiting
your arrival
the silence
may sound
to me.
Carol Lynn Grellas is a Northern California-based writer. She has been widely published in literary journals and print magazines including most recently, Chanterelle's Notebook, The Hiss Quarterly and Flutter. She has poems forthcoming in Ken *again, Up The Staircase, Octave Eight and many more. Her chapbook, Litany of Finger Prayers will be released this year from Pudding House Press. Her second chapbook, Object of Desire was recently accepted for publication and will be forthcoming from Finishing Line Press

When I was young,
I'd sprint in full speed

as if invincible,
lean muscles tsunami the surface

leaping a little higher
with each stride,

feet fishing for air
trying to stay upright longer

get even farther, deeper
then I did the day before.

Now, I walk slowly
out into the water,

enjoy the feel of granules
as they quicksand

between my toes.
Sometimes, minnow schools

escort me through the shallows.
When the water saturates

the bottom of my swim shorts,
body parts turtle from the chill,

I stand in place a long while
before finally going under.

R Jay Slais' poetry has appeared in Barnwood Poetry Mag, Wild Child Publishing EZine, and elsewhere. A single father, raising his two children, he's an engineer/inventor in Metro Detroit Michigan.

The Last Charade
Avis Hickman-Gibb

      I lie in our bed, on my side — facing your back. Mirroring you, wanting to touch you — and yet I am not able. You sleep, quietly pushing air in and out — oblivious to my need. Listening to you gives me comfort; I can pretend it is &mdash before.
      Before we knew.
      Our time has been shortened, but I am not finished here. I still need you; I am not ready to give this up. I yearn for you, and knowing this you play along, giving me time; weaning me.
      I will you to wake, but know that when you do — the charade will start again. The players will assume their marks, make believe; say the parts given to them. But these are just words on a paper sheet — dog-eared and worn.
      Every day, we go through the same patterns, make the same noises:
      You're looking better today.
      You think so?
      You've gained a little weight.
      Maybe you're right.
      Just take these last pills — for me?

Avis Hickman-Gibb is a newly established writer, living in rural Suffolk, England with her husband, one son and two cats. She gained a BSc. in Environmental Chemistry more years ago than she cares to admit and worked in the fledgling computer industry whilst still a babe-in-arms. She's had stories published in Every Day Fiction, Twisted Tongue, and Shine! and has up-coming stories in Bewildering Stories. She is currently working on a book of short stories and is addicted to writing flash fiction. If you want to read more of her writing, you can find links at: Writewords

The Mistake
Charles Michael Craven

she stands on the sidewalk
under my building
with all her clothes in her hand
wondering which way to go.

I watch at the window
a few floors up
wondering the same thing.

I had just kicked her out
but I already wanted her
to come back in.
Charles Michael Craven is a young poet, 23, who is just now sending out his writings for publication. This is the first of many poems to be published in the near future. He lives in Austin, Texas and just received his BA in Psychology.

The Way I See
Mathias Nelson

They say the polar bears
are now on the endangered species list.

I picture the bear
big with yellow tainted snow fur
lying long on a piece of ice
that floated adrift

my imagination
taking me on a trip
I don't want to go.

I stroke the soft bear fur
and whisper
"It's going to be okay,"
while he stares off at the cold
unforgiving sky

water all around
our ice is melting
the breaths coming few
and far between

the bear whispers back
"It's not okay."

Tears come to my eyes
and freeze in the
unforgiving wind.

A bird of prey
appears from the
unforgiving sky
and I think
where could it have come from
on this
unforgiving day

then I picture the last image
in Jim Morrison's head
when he died drug induced in a tub
his own voice echoing
off the bath water,

"Bird of prey...
bird of prey...
flying high...
flying high...
am i going...
to die?"

and I stroke the soft bear fur
and watch his black marble eyes
cloud like an unforgiving storm
that is life.

Why can't I be like the rest,

feeling no remorse
for everything else?

I stroke the bear's fur
and watch the chest fall
as the ice melts
and we sink.
The bird of prey has nowhere to land
and no food to eat
as we drown in the cold water
of tomorrows sorrow.

Mathias Nelson has been published in such magazines as: Word riot, Cherry Bleeds, Outsider Writers, and others. He can be reached at Mathias.Nelsonnn@gmail.com.

Polenth Blake

I think it would be better to wait,
until three tasks
need me to go outside.

Friends call at the window,
but my door stays closed.

Other things wait, hidden above,
ready to swoop, to feast.

I take the knives from their drawer.
Exposed, they sharpen themselves.

A knock at the door,
maybe a friend.
It doesn't matter.
I won't open it.

I use up the milk. Three tasks now.
I think it would be better to wait,
until four tasks.

Polenth Blake lives in England with her pet cockroach, six snails and assorted fish. She imagines what the world would be like, if reality wasn't quite as real.