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While Mowing One Day
Matthew Potter

The gasoline vapors creep up my nose,
as I pour the clear fluid into the gas tank.
I give the cord three hard pulls till the motor
awakens with a sputter and a deep-throated growl.

Saturday has come and the lawn needs moving.
The thin green blades sway gently in the warm summer breeze.
I push the red and rust colored machine across the uncut grass,
bending the blades back, leaving them half the length they were,
cut with loud ferocity.

The mower leaves behind a lighter path of green as
I push up the gently sloping yard.
Gumballs rattle and are flung out,
marred and ragged as if chewed on by an angry dog.
the mower clunks and jerks,
leaving behind a baby rabbit.

I let go of the handle,
deafening vibrations stop,
blades' whirring comes to a final halt
and are replaced by the quiet, shallow wheezing of the small rabbit.
Its soft brown fur marred and wet with dark blood.
Its eyes wide, staring blindly nowhere as it twitches.

My neighbor sees me kneeling,
a confused, saddened look on my face.
He picks up the small creature,
more helpless than it was a moment ago.
And with his large callused hands snaps its neck.
Its breathing ends abruptly as the mower's.

His only word of consolation are
These things happen. Didn't feel a thing.
He drops the limp bloody body
down into the green trash can,
he walks slowly away,
wiping his hand with a worn rag.

I stare at him and hope
I don't kill anymore,
knowing that these things happen
offers me little comfort.
I slowly, hesitantly, finish mowing.

Sanctuary
Matthew Potter

Rain glazes the black asphalt,
as clouds' tears race down the cool window
to see which will drink the concrete first.
False light in the diner comprehends
the smoke being exhaled from our cigarettes.

We sip our hour-old coffee and talk about
"What's going to happen to us?"
Friends are pursuing careers, buying cars,
going to bed at 10:30; when the night used to be young.
We sit in our grumbling booths,
the clock resists three a.m.

Diners are a haven for lost souls.
Dreamers, lovers, failures, all sitting
in dilapidated booths, wondering what to do.
But smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee
seems to be a good solution.
And when cigarettes and coffee
start to taste stale in our mouths
we leave our $2.50 and walk out to the dark reality.

I glance back through the glared window,
and see the waitresses' aged hands
scoop up the bills and empty ashtrays.
Second nature by now.

I wonder how long ago she sat in my booth.

Matthew Taylor Potter graduated with a B.A in English Literature. from James Madison University and has been residing San Diego, CA for the past 10 years. He is currently working on a degree in education.



The Scream
Mia Cartmill

My scream shatters cathedral windows.
It splinters the Ross Ice Shelf
sending shards of rotten pack ice into the sea.
My scream is responsible for global warming and hurricanes.
It’s incubated until fully mature in the dark closet of my soul.
My scream is distilled. It’s 100 proof.
It tastes metallic like Blackstrap molasses.
My scream lasts a month of Sundays
and starts all over again.
It encircles the earth.
It’s louder than the Big Bang.
It can’t be recorded in decibels.
When I scream, dogs in New Guinea howl.
Mountains levitate.
It fills the Grand Canyon but cannot be contained.
Its pitch grows exponentially,
divides like cells in a stage four-cancer patient.
It’s Ginsburg’s Howl only louder.
I inspired Edvard Munch.

I live quiet as a caterpillar,
tightly wrapped in the cocoon
of my own homespun, silky scream.

Mia Cartmill was born in Boston, Massachusetts and lived in Freeport, Maine for 25 years. Her essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Literary Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, Aurorean, Journey Anthology, Pemmican Press, Words and Images, Omphalos, Main Channel Voices and is forth coming in Poetry Quarterly. She currently lives quietly in Casco, Maine.



Jeaneology
Nina R. Schneider

Healthtex elastic waist jean shorts: size 3 months—sweet baby boy; OshKosh
B’gosh striped overalls with snap crotch: size 12 months—cuddly; Buster Brown
jeans without snaps: size 24 months—walk don’t run; OshKosh jeans: size 2T--run;
Garanimals jeans and matching T-shirt: size 3T—who cares about fashion; Gap kids
jeans: size 4T—I ‘m a big boy; Izod tan corduroy jeans: size 8
boys—first day of school; Levi’s camouflage jeans: size 10 husky—GI Joe style;
Lee jeans, stovepipe leg: size 12 slim—rock star wannabe; Levi’s low rise, stone
washed with button crotch: 25x28—eats 8 slices of bread a day; Gap black boot cut:
26x29—sullen but sexy; Diesel flare leg: 28x31—designers rule; Seven for All Mankind
boot cut: 30x32—fashion rocks; Dockers denim slacks: 34x32—desk job takes its toll;
Ralph Lauren city jeans: 36x32—prosperous. Lee easy fit jeans: 40x32—Sugar Daddy.

Nina R. Schneider teaches creative and expository writing at Bentley University. Her fiction has appeared in Quick Fiction, Brevity & Echo and on line in Pindeldyboz and the New Vilna Review. She earned a MFA from Emerson College and co-founded the Norton Institute for Continuing Education at Wheaton College ten years ago.



I Loved Your Appendix
Renee Podunovich

They took it.
pink and yellow tissue.
tender apricot flesh.
an add-on to you.
      an inconsequential appendage.
      a mere flap of skin, useless.
Your bare abdomen.
a summer meadow dotted with the yellow
Shasta Daisies of my kisses.
      and small incisions
      red and opening.
For one instant I saw inside
the envelope of your skin.
skin like vellum, smooth, silk, soft leather
supple from years of hard work.
      warm, scented like cardamom,
      persimmons, wood smoke, just moist like
grape leaves folded over hidden
and fragile innards.
They said you won’t miss it
but now I have less of you.
      an appendix less. an ounce less.
as brief as a moment.
a blink while stargazing.
Yet someday
one of us will pass on.
      not impalpable
      but the whole body.
an ocean of passion become motionless.
the shell of us left for the other to hold to the ear,
listening for the roar of the sea,
      for memories that bubble to the surface
      from the blackness of canyons and crevices
in the deep.
The extravagance of having extra organs.
this flesh, breath, death.
delicate. so
delicate.


Hiatus
Renee Podunovich

“Cool.” That’s all the email says
(not including the colon, dash and parenthesis
that make a text language smiley face).
It’s his response to the poem she sent,
the last line reading, “I am taking a hiatus
from our email flirting.”
how cryptic. how unclear. not quite cutting
the umbilical cord of obsession. must stop
checking email every 30 minutes.
checking email by cell phone.
checking it on her vacation after she promised herself
she wouldn’t. would spend time focused on her husband
and is now pushing the check mail button
over Campari cocktails and appetizers, surrounded by undergrads
at a hip little place on 4th Ave in Tucson where
they have been thinking of moving. think that maybe a change
of location can spice up the dish they’ve had
every day of their lives for
23 years. bring meaning and flavor back into this
mouthful of midlife and each bite must be chewed
20 times because it keeps their attention off. the fact
that there is no bottom to things. they are falling
out of youth into something. so settled that they might
become potatoes or petrified wood or the slow growing
things in the desert that only get good and wet
a few times per year and in the off times—
just wait for it.
It simply distracts her when he writes things like “Sometimes
after I read your poems, I become overwhelmed with desire
to have a wild affair with you.” or “You are beautiful
and there is nothing you can do about it.” or “Remember
that crazy cab ride 20 years ago from Fisherman’s Wharf
all the way to Golden Gate Park when we were seeking out
a long lost buddy who worked in a diner but we ended up
in a Mexican bar drinking shots of Tequila?” followed by
“It will have to be shots of ginger ale for me now.”
30 days of rehab (or “retreat” as a mutual friend calls it).
how hard it is to stay young, stay sober, stay monogamous,
stay inspired, stay anything
and the need inside the words, the longing in the letters
start dropping from the screen of the cell phone
like unfired buckshot, land in the martini glasses and the swank
dishes of arty little foods and she stares off
into the empty space of her life
unraveling. lets everything cascade
over the edges. swears she’ll abstain from, retreat, just stop
emailing him for 30 days
(minimum). won’t become a sinkhole with an endless middle
and a writer’s ego that never gets full. absolutely thirsty like
Tucson. in the dead of summer.

Renee Podunovich lives in southwest Colorado in an alternative energy “Earthship” home. Her writing has been described as merging science, nature, and soul, exploring human experience in relation to a living planet. Her work has been published in Ruah, Mississippi Review, Argestes, San Juan Mountain Journal, Arts Perspective Magazine and her book of poems If There Is a Center No One Knows Where It Begins (Art Juice Press) is available online. www.ReneePodunovich.com.



Across the River
Oleh Lysiak

Doris Ruffe said you change cars
the way most guys change pants.
She was our county clerk, turned
legal tricks to keep me rolling.
I trade cars I have for cars I like
then trade for other cars. Drives
my wife crazier’n she already is.
She keeps her stuff. I work on stuff
and pass it on. Apparently there are
no cars to trade across the River Styx.
Maybe the boatman trades.


Startling Arrays
Oleh Lysiak

Vagabond decades devoted
to exploring places exotic
with stories to match are
stored in memory’s reveries,
pickled in startling arrays of
intoxicants, evolved into
versions dependent on what
veil truth wears at the moment.
Savoring flashes past brings on
a grin, a laugh, an occasional
grimace. Surprised to have
survived, I’m fine with my
place in the succession.
It isn’t far off, or exotic or
wild. It’s all right here.

Oleh Lysiak is writing Displaced, a memoir, while he can still remember what happened. He is also writing Sluts, Scammers and Longshots, a poetry collection. He has written Scars in Progress, The Chromium Kid in the American Zoo, Barely Inside the Lines, and Filet & Release.



How I Want It
Lauren Rogener

How I Want It:

Specifically,

Rhythmically,

Emphatically and not to be too picky, but, precisely;

From someone who would know and yet surprise me—
or successfully supply the illusion that I am to be surprised;

Unfettered;

Jittery

not from nerves but from what I should perceive as the quaking of ineloquent gratitude;

Not so refined so that I should come to be suspicious
nor so vulgar so that I am reluctant to relate it afterwards;

not-in-a-nutshell;

with and from a distance at the right moments
in abeyance;

without consequence without being inconsequential,

stringless, lingerless, hairless, with a slight sting
to have it remembered by;

by and by;

promptly with a consistent respect for punctuality
unclockwatching unlagging nontimewasting nonresidueleaving;

in a word:
nonstick,

in phrase:
to-the-letter;

slicked without the sliminess and pursed but not wrinkled;

extravagantly terminal, eternally-poised on the brink of completion,

courtly,
clenched,
climactic.

Lauren J. Rogener is a graduate student from New York, currently studying and working in Montreal. Her research focuses primarily on early modern drama, while her own writing steers clear of theatre entirely. She is working on three cycles of poetry and one piece of fiction.



Beefy
(our faithful Shetland Sheepdog)
Larry D. Thomas

Fresh from Pottsville, Texas, you greeted
our hollow lives with the muffled growling
of wolves crossing the swift, scarlet rivers

of your pedigree. A tricolor, predominately
black with highlights of white and sable,
once again at first light, you assume

your favorite stance on the sofa,
hindquarters planted firmly on a cushion,
forelegs elevated on the sofa arm.

Your stare through the second-story window
is electric, vigilant for the wayward sheep
bleating in your blood, the sofa arm

a crag in the Scotland Highlands
where you keep your faithful watch
never more than inches from the kilt

of your master. In honor of Dylan,
your predecessor, cut down in his fifth year
by the fateful blows of a growth defect,

we named you “Beefy” before we even
saw you, bestowing you with the strength
to muscle us from the unforgiving void.

Larry D. Thomas, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate, is a previous contributor of poetry to the Boston Literary Magazine. He has published thirteen collections of poems, most recently The Skin of Light (Dalton Publishing, Spring 2010). A Murder of Crows is forthcoming from the Virtual Artists Collective in 2011. Among the numerous prizes and awards he has received for his poetry are the 2004 Violet Crown Award (Writers’ League of Texas), 2003 Western Heritage Award (Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma) and two Texas Review Poetry Prizes (2001 and 2004). His poetry has also received three Pushcart Prize nominations, a Poets’ Prize nomination (West Chester University), and five Spur Award Finalist citations (Western Writers of America). His Web site address is www.LarryDThomas.com.



A Flavour after Things
Kyle Pivarnik

Five half-eaten,
red velvet
cupcakes
sitting on a counter,
dried out,
too palpable a sweetness
for anything but decay.

Kyle Pivarnik writes both poetry and prose. He currently attends Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where he both studies and teaches. Several of his short stories are featured in the collection Pale Moon, published by Monroe Press. Additional poetry and short prose are available on his blog at litlibations.blogspot.com.



At the 50th
Krikor Der Hohannesian

Harvard College Reunion, Class of 1958

Adrift between symposia and seminars,
a drizzle of reverie on Bow Street,
aimless nostalgia graying in droplets of fog.
At the corner of Arrow the campanile
of St. Paul’s looming through the mist,
Italianate monolith, blood- red brick.

this was where you fell, Marco,
a bluster of a June day, 1957, the day
the scaffolding betrayed you, left
you hanging to mock gravity, the split
second of wonder before the inevitable.


I stare up, watch the swallows and wrens
loop and hover about the belfry clock,
the minute hand inches toward the hour,
the bells toll three, the birds
whoosh off at the plangent peal.

that was when you fell, after sweaty
hours sandblasting the brick,
flailing the humid air, wingless
against the corkscrew dive.

I stare down at the concrete
where your blood once pooled—
so where were the winged angels
to waft you safely to ground?

they said your head hit first,
that the sound was one nobody
would want to hear again.


And tonight we will be dining and
dancing—a cloudburst of reminiscence
for us who have survived the thunder
of a half century, the one lost to you
in a heart’s single beat,
a rogue gust of hot wind.

in the class book an asterisk,
Mark Brennan - died June 17, 1957


Krikor Der Hohannesian has been writing poetry for some 40 years but has only been submitting work for the past several years after shredding much of his early work. Since then, he has had poems published in many literary journals including The Evansville Review, The South Carolina Review, Atlanta Review, Peregrine, The New Renaissance and Connecticut Review. He also serves as Assistant Treasurer of the New England Poetry Club.





You know how it is—
you're passing by or behind
a guy snapping a picture
of his family
or his friend
visiting from Denmark
or a graduation cap-and-gown group
a bar-mitzvah
his favorite cat, Sally—
and somehow
you're too slow
or you don't hold back fast enough
and you end up
being in the background
of the snapshot.
Well, he gets it home
and he's beaming over his photographic skill
showing off Aunt Helen
cousin Cookie
brother Bill
and then he sees YOU!!!
"WHO THE HELL IS THAT???
DAMN!!
WHO THE HELL IS THAT???"

And isn't that just how it is—
that Thing—
that Thing
that appears where it doesn't belong
sneaks up on us from behind
peers out at us from the background
worms or wheedles its way
whether it means to or not
into our peace
lifts off-kilter
the perfect picture
we were trying to make
of Life,
the boat we were trying to pile ourselves into
before the shutter clicked...

Leo Racicot's work has appeared in Co-Evolution Quarterly, Utne Reader, Spiritual Life, First Hand, The Poet, Faith and Inspiration, Ibbetson Street Press, Shakespeare's Monkey, Poetry and Yankee. Two of his award-winning essay-memoirs are featured in "Best of..." anthologies, and his holiday story, "The Little Man" is being published this year by Snug Harbor Books and in animated and audio form by Fablevision. His public appearances reading his work include Out of the Blue Gallery, The Lily Pad, Cantab Lounge, Parker House, Forsyth Chapel, 119 Gallery, CityLights in San Francisco and Buzz in Washington D.C.



Walking Something
Harry Calhoun


Most days I walk 90 black pounds of Labrador,
so I’ve started thinking that everybody I see
is walking something, if not a dog. The lady lurching
past my house this morning was walking

40 pounds of excess weight and her uneven gait
was caused by that and by trying to simultaneously
applaud herself for walking some of it off.
Today I’m mowing the lawn, walking the lawn mower

in front of me but the thoughts of work tomorrow
striding hard through the back of my mind.
I walked Susie Taylor upstairs after my first kiss
in her basement a lifetime ago, and this morning

I strutted my lovemaking, emphasis after all these years
on the love, to my beautiful wife. We’re always walking
something, evidence that as Pascal said, all of our misfortune
comes from our inability to simply

sit quietly in a room.

Six by Harry
Harry D. Calhoun


Coming into summer
Why?
Walking something
The job and the day of escape
Rejecting Bukowski
Half human, half dog

Harry Calhoun is a widely published poet, article and essay writer. Check out his online chapbook Dogwalking Poems, his trade paperback, I knew Bukowski like you knew a rare leaf, and the recently published The Black Dog and the Road. Not to mention his chapbook, Something Real. He's had recent publications in Chiron Review, Chiaroscuro, Orange Room Review, The Centrifugal Eye, Bird's Eye reView, Abbey, Monongahela Review and many others. He is the editor of Pig in a Poke magazine. Find out more at harrycalhoun.net.



House on the Hill
Derek Osborne


Run outside
the old house commanded
Walk through the fields and places you danced
till the dew soaked your jeans
Run where stars heard your cries
Go now
dear ones
they’ll be here soon
and I need time alone in these rooms

So all of us flew through those years slaying dragons
searching for maidens and Gods to believe
Older and wiser
no longer those children
we spilled like sparrows into the light
our band of lost boys
our covey in flight

Out the front door
bare feet in sweet grass
Van Gogh orchards
Cezanne meadow
It’s gone! We’ve lost it!
I heard us cry
as bulldozers started erasing our kingdom
Gaurdian eyes
those tower windows
Climbing the stairs for one last time

And Years upon years flew by

So on this day we stood there again
a tract of gray houses with new boys playing
Over the hill there were echoes of laughter
We scattered your ashes of magic and love
Ashes we’d kept in an urn like a mother
Memories moving the clouds in the sky

Bigger than life?
At times I am sure of it
Here’s to the sound of our trembling hands
Here’s to the rush of youth and wonder
the lives you had fostered
friends now gone
lovers we loved on your summer lawns
Questions that even you couldn’t answer
and doorways open
that beckon me still.

Derek Osborne lives in eastern Pennsylvania in a remodeled Hobbit house. His work has appeared in Bartleby-Snopes, Ruthless Peoples, PicFic/Folded Word and here in Boston Literary Magazine. A Chap Book “Valentines Day” is coming out this fall. After making it into the final round of Amazon/Penguin’s First Novel Competition he’s feverishly revising and looking for an agent. To read more or contact, visit: www.gertrudesflat.blogspot.com.





Me and coffee
lonely in our kitchen
we stare through the trees
at morning sunrise
your ghost holds my hand

each night
your imaginary breath
at my nape
keeps me broken
makes me whole

I smile
I weep

but would never
trade this crazy

AJ Smith writes poetry, short stories, and is working on her first novel.



Trespassing
Liz Kicak


My sisters and I flop into the sea
of floral comforters
scented with furnace dust and our father’s cigarettes.
We bury our faces, smothering
our giggles. Oh, the back closet corner!
Home to everything
silk and lace and glitter.
We jam small feet into glamorous heels
we never see her wear.
Behind her draping fabrics
hides a cardboard treasure chest.
One of us pops the flaps—inside we find
baby teeth. Photos of men: some our father,
some not. A plaster handprint none of us remember making.
Two unlabeled cassette tapes. A dirty white t-shirt
wrapped around a black bible.
She’s coming, Rachel whispers. We duck
behind her wedding dress and winter coats.
Holding our breaths hiding behind ivory lace and grey wool
as she opens the door, rustles the clothes and sings
Where have my little girls gone?

Liz Kicak lives and works in Tampa, FL with her dog, Finnigan. They both enjoy going to the park, reading great poetry, and eating Skittles. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Muse Apprentice Guilde, and The Writers Block.





1.
It’s her baby
whirling butterfly wings
against my skin.
I’m so scared,
and his mommy
only speaks Chinese.
I don’t know how
to tell her it’s a seizure
born in fever.
Her volcanic eyes bleed
Buddha-green tears.
I cradle the boy.

2.
911 come quick!
There in 5 minutes;
steps, two at a time.
She’s already cold,
hours dead; overnight.
80 years lived
in this home. Nurse’s aide,
free at last to smoke
indoors. Son begs
me to help his mother.
She’s stiff; slim ghost fingers
scrape the ceiling. I switch
on the heart monitor.

3.
No longer
the weight of his legs,
twin exclamation points
float lame. Cut marks mar
the chain, withdraw anchor
from ocean. I sift through
red debris for limbs,
find fractions of flesh,
blue jeans. Another awful
scream. I panic, plastic bag
bone bits. I know he
won’t be walking home.

Angel Zapata has had poems appear in Every Day Poets, Apollo's Lyre, The Absent Willow Review, The Short Story Library, and Gloom Cupboard. Visit his website: arageofangel.blogspot.com.



Respite
Laura Rodley

Seven Canadian geese break rank
and glide single file, tiny butlers
of the lake bring me their utter calm,
served on the platter of the lake
I swim upon with them.
Expecting them to scatter, take fight,
they don’t, propelled by same
glad joining of feet and body
in water as I am,
three feet away now
gliding through the water
in the same direction.
As rain smatters the surface,
causing raised nipples upon the water
everyone leaves the beach
except Jim reading a book
huddling under the huge ancient oak tree,
his shoulders covered with a towel,
holding my sandals out of the rain.

Laura Rodley's chapbook, Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Mass Book Award, and includes work nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her second book, Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose, also published by Finishing Line Press, will be released this fall.



A Rendezvous in the Clouds
Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

—for Kevin Chan

My daughter suggested riding in separate cable cars.
For her whole life, she had always shared one
with sisters, friends, strangers. Not once
did she have the swinging thing entirely to herself,
high up in the air. It’s not like she’s going to pee
inside, etch obscenities on the window,
or get undressed. But she wished
that bit of privacy, among the clouds.

First reaction when those damn things paused,
motionless, like pin-ups on a notice board:
not panic, but a strange sense of relief,
& perhaps a little bit of pride.
Below, silent black moving dots were Asians.
We were on top of them all, for longer than
we had bargained for.

Half an hour later:
an overwhelming gush of boredom.
True, the sky was briefly spectacular,
brilliant colours in front of my eyes:
ash grey, orange orange, moon-blue.
I spotted two birds, not flying but
gliding, together. Bastards.

I imagined what she would say afterwards:
“We were like cherries on a branch, waiting
for a giant to pluck us.” “We were colossal earrings.”
“We were part of the world’s ellipsis.” She could
write a whole poem on the experience,
and I would read, not recognising most of it.

Tammy Ho Lai-Ming is a Hong Kong-born writer currently based in London, UK. She is founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. More at sighming.com.


Disclosure
Cattie-Bree Skye Price

what you don't realize is that
i keep all my secrets under my skirt,
so when i reveal one to you, i often feel like
i'm showing you more than i should.

i know you think i'm
building an Everest out of a Potrero, but
i wonder if you understand
that there is no truer, deeper nakedness

than the nakedness of someone
who is taking off
her clothes for someone
for the very first time.

Cattie-Bree Skye Price aspires to one day be entirely herself. Her poetry has appeared in a few journals here and there, including Inscape, Calliope Nerve, and Shoots & Vines' quarterly publication, Bergamot. Among her favourite things are tea, dresses, flowers, and Jesus, and she would rather be stargazing than doing just about anything else. She can be reached at cattie.price@gmail.com.



31st Birthday
Jennifer Yuill

An echoing mouth meanders
over the glossy peak, rising
and falling- a lingering kiss
for dewy peach skin, a canopy
drawn over sand.
"It's cancer," says the radiologist
in the terror cinema of my imagination,
as commonly as a tired waitress
reciting the soup of the day.
"You are going to die."
My bitter breast exacts revenge
for years of disapproval, suffocation
in pushup bras, dubious handprints,
leaving only chains of burning ridges
against a milky desert.

Jennifer Yuill grew up in Lafayette, Indiana. She currently studies creative writing at the University of South Florida and always has a myriad of projects in the works.



My Father
Robert M. Dilley

I watched the thread unreel into the garment
like a robin plucking out a worm
the sewing machine bobbed.

My father was a Teamster, Marine, Seamstress
the best Electrician, Mechanic, Carpenter
Mason, Democratic shop Stewart.

He always flew the only flag on a pole made by hand
because you couldn't build better, buy higher
or become confused about who he was.

He suffered spinal injury from his blue collar dedication
that fractured, pulverized vertebras, slipped disks squeezed dry
poorly compensated union worker, on the job in America.

The agony increased each time he read Made in China
cringed at the political greed blossoming
with the Cherry trees in Washington.

He coughed up blood when cancer and Social Security were old
lingered in his chair after 911, eyes still high on the snapping flag
hands the size of mitts, backbone turned to dust.




Grace
Staci R. Schoenfeld

Walking along the path with you,
just before the cemetery
where the marijuana grew wild,

we saw her, and we stood
as still as the characters
on a just paused movie.

She was also using the path,
this fox—boldly going about her day.
When she saw us, she paused and stared.

The air stilled, became vacuum,
as if the entire world took a deep breath
and held it for this one moment of grace.

Then, like someone hit play on a remote,
the world exhaled into motion,
and we all continued on our way.

Staci R. Schoenfeld is currently living in between oceans in Frankfort, Kentucky, where she attends and teaches at Kentucky State University. She is happy this poem was selected by the Boston Literary Magazine as she met this fox in Ashfield, Massachusetts, and now she feels as if this poem has found its way home.



Risk
Robert Laughlin

Americans abroad are used to hearing kindly words
From people who are quick to add
This nation, as a whole, is an obscenity.
Our foreign dignitaries hear no kindly words at all,
Just criticism of whatever our supposed values are
And pledges to confront, for any reason and on any terms,
The USA that has one letter more than three.
It?s not a sinister design that we alone have got
A giant populace not handicapped by widespread poverty,
Internal strife or limits placed upon our thoughts.
So why so little sympathy for us outside?
For anyone who has to know, just watch a game of Risk
And see how players mass their forces to undo
One player growing strong enough to win the game.
The people piling all their wooden cubes on Ural and Ontario
Don?t do it out of faith or ideology
Or love for one of the invented territories on the board.
Whoever wins, the others know that they must suffer out
His calm, infuriating self-esteem.

Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. He is the creator of the Micro Award, an annual competition for previously published flash fiction. Two of his short stories are MWA Notable Stories, and his first novel, Vow of Silence, is available from Trytium.





It's me, the kid you abandoned
in Home Economics class, the one
cursed with the inability
to follow directions. I'm sure

you were up there, laughing your head off,
the day I told my mother to leave
me alone in the kitchen
and she crept back in to declare:
Girl, you can't even make Jell-O right.

I'm middle aged now, wondering
if you will ever lift this curse.
I still have my tattered recipe books,
and so it's not as if I have ignored you

or denied your existence—but remember
that apple pie I gave to my neighbor last week?
I found out that it wasn't completely cooked inside—
Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.

Did you know that only a British vegetarian
would have married me? I think someone needs
to reach deep into her Martha Stewart apron
and sprinkle magic cookie crumbs on my head.
O Keeper of Divine Recipes—you owe me.


Emma
Karen Kelsay

Husband, I want to ripen into
a woman like your mother,
one who wiggles an arm
into the nook of a son's elbow,
feet twisting obscure angles
across frosty streets, refusing a cane.
Whose only hope from tipping
over in the lane with a dizzy spell,
is not a bottle of pills, but a bag
of boiled sweets.
A stiff-upper-lip kind of lady,
who jeers at heart attacks
and broken hips, and raises hell
when trapped in a ward with old people.
One who still makes tea each
morning over the burner, even though
she catches her sleeves on fire.
A woman with no riches, but a few
baubles of costume jewelry
and collection of miniature brass
animals that glint in sun like a row
of diamonds.

Karen Kelsay is a native Californian who spent most of her childhood weekends on a boat. Her husband is British, and she travels to England regularly to visit family and enjoy the countryside. She received a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2009 and is the author of five chapbooks. Some of her recent poems have appeared in The New Formalist, Divine Dirt, Lucid Rhythms and Camroc Press.






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