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Tree Tattoo
Eric G. Müller

guitar and soft voice
cars & clouds pass by outside
coffee tightens dreams
tree tattoo on singer’s back
sways as she strums joy and calm

Painted Wings
Eric G. Müller

mostly I just dream
it’s less a curse than a gift
pages to open
swirling swarms of butterflies
my stories painted on wings

Green Bottle
Eric G. Müller

a tiny bottle
in the shape of a cello
on the window sill
the sun shines through its green glass
and sorrow gives way to sound

Eric G. Müller is a musician, teacher and writer living in upstate New York. He has written two novels, Rites of Rock (Adonis Press 2005) and Meet Me at the Met (Plain View Press, 2010), as well as a collection of poetry, Coffee on the Piano for You (Adonis Press, 2008). Articles, short stories and poetry have appeared in many journals and magazines. www.ericgmuller.com.

The Hitching Post of the Sun
Machu Picchu

Lauren Tivey

Close to the equinox, we climb
steep stairs, mother balancing
against puzzle pieces of Incan ruins,
boulders greased smooth by countless hands.
They always traveled together; now
she’s stuck with me. Intihuatana,
the sacred stone, rises ahead, a pert nipple
upon the hill, as the sun mounts noon,
illuminating an improbable perched city,
terraces dotted with vicuna, backpackers.
The load of her grief is heavy,
but she pushes on to the pinnacle,
the precarious meeting place
between earth and sky, material
and spirit, chasing him: He, the sun
to her moon. In her eyes, a lassoing,
a wrangling—this haunted hunger,
this need to pin him down—as she rubs
the stone for its famous vibrations,
and for a moment, touches something
that isn’t yet lost. On her ring finger,
woven metals of yellow and white gleam,
while aligned above, the sun blasts its furnace
upon us, warm, but too terrible to look at.

Lauren Tivey is currently living in China, where she works as an English Literature teacher in the American program at a Chinese high school. She received a MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobble Creek Review, Red Fez, Yellow Mama, Blue Lake Review, and others. Her chapbook, The Breakdown Atlas & Other Poems, was released in July of 2011 by Big Table Publishing Co. She lives for poetry, photography, travel, and adventure.

I see you standing by the shoreline
gazing out to sea.
Are you searching for the far distant shore you left,
the waves that lulled you to sleep as a boy
and would greet you in the morning
as you wandered the far green hills.
Or do you see the long grey swells
that carried you here
so very long ago?
Those swells that lifted the steerage ship
and set you down again
for days on end as you left one life behind
to head into the west
daring to create another.
Or do you see in those waves
the strife and the calm
the terror and the majesty
the rolling of the years?
Or do those tear filled eyes
see these waves like you—
crashing ashore with power and hope
yet ever receding homeward
drawn back from whence you came
by a stronger eternal pull?
While throwing forth bits of froth
that anchor upon this western shore
yet are lost to the greater sea.
Your children cast upon this sand
yet separated from the sea that gave them birth.

The name that first comes to view
is not my grandfather’s but yours,
the granduncle dead decades before my birth.
Never seen except in a cracked sepia photograph,
lovingly kept on my grandfather’s bureau,
tenderly dusted, dust from dust.
A silent face encased in glass you watched him age
as you could never do,
watching his children and his grandchildren
grow before your always-open eyes,
seeing the years of his marriage unfold
while you remained unchanged
observing the life you never had.
A photograph carried with love across the western sea
as your brother found the new life you could not.
A photograph lost to the trash when the house was sold
and you now buried in a New York landfill
forgotten and alone.
But in that census you remain alive
age fifteen, a boy on the cusp of manhood,
but destined to never see its bloom
Occupation “scholar”—
fine words for the simple school where you had your lessons
then returned up the hill
to help tend the sheep
or thresh the hay.
Or perhaps merely rest upon the limestone boulders
and watch the fishing boats return at sunset to the bay below.
Did you see a reminder of the limestone of home
as you faced the chalk at Warlencourt?
Did you hear an echo of the surf from home
in the guns along the Somme?
Did you disappear in the mud of Flanders
like your photograph in the New York trash,
or, in the final moments ,
did you think of eternal youth?

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. These pieces mark his first appearance in Boston Literary Magazine.

Rena Lee

“I might drop by”, you said, and it sufficed
to hook me on anticipation—

“Drop by”, “Drop by”, echoes are dropping
from some old unfulfilled promise.

Your favorite wine is already chilled,
there are Daisies in the white ceramic vase
you bought me a thousand years ago.
Although cracked, it’s still holding.
A gentle wind sends the curtain dancing,
and from the oven the cake already wafts
sweet messages.

So often broken and disillusioned
I’ve grown suspicious of hope… and yet…

“I might drop by”, you said, and I set the table
for two, laboring hard to match cups,
leftover from one set,
with isolated saucers, remains from another:

Once respected members of complete families,
now solitary relics—

just like you and me

Rena Lee, penname of Rena Kofman, is poet and writer, a retired Professor of Hebrew from the City University of New York, and the author of twelve books in Hebrew. Her work appeared (in both Hebrew and English) in many magazines, anthologies, scholarly journals, etc. Her chapbook Captive of Jerusalem: Song of Shulamite has just been published by Finishing Line Press. Visit her webpage www.renalee.net.

Hospital Parking Lot
Terri Kirby Erickson

Headscarf fluttering in the wind,
stockings hanging loose on her vein-roped
legs, an old woman clings to her husband

as if he were the last tree standing in a storm,
though he is not the strong one.

His skin is translucent—more like a window
than a shade. Without a shirt and coat,

we could see his lungs swell and shrink,
his heart skip. But he has offered her his arm
and for sixty years, she has taken it.

Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of three collections of poetry, including her latest book, In the Palms of Angels (Press 53, 2011), which recently won the 2012 Nautilus Silver Award for Poetry. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Christian Science Monitor, American Life in Poetry, 2013 Poet's Market, JAMA, storySouth, North Carolina Literary Review and many others.

The Plague of the Candidates
Sarah Brown Weitzman

In the beginning
   they will come in swarms
clogging the air
   waves, spewing abuse
as much on each other
   as on their common enemy
the Incumbent

And they will multiply in grass
   roots movements
stirring dissent and fear
   even among billionaires
Casting blame like stones
   in endless debates

In a hail of accusations
   they will denounce
each other as false prophets
   with the harshest epithets:
Conservative, Ultra-conservative,
   Liberal, Intellectual

Bringing the affliction
   of the Handshake
they will be visited upon cities
   and small towns alike
like celebrities drawing crowds
   of the media who will scrutinize
their wives, past utterances,
   past wives, voting
records and tax returns

But nothing will shake
   the enthusiasm of the Followers
who will not let them go
   off the stage
without, youbetcha,
   the prophesy of Cheers

And women will weep
   as they hold up their First Born
high over the crowds
   to let them glimpse
Him who may be
   the Chosen One

So it will come to pass
   that people in no great percentages
will be called Deciders
   and will be hunched
in narrow private cubicles
   touching the name
of their Candidate
   on a small lighted screen
with reverence like worshipers
   before a sacred relic

Sarah Brown Weitzman, has had work in numerous journals including The North American Review, American Writing, Potomac Review, America and Slant. Her second chapbook, The Forbidden was published by Pudding House in 2005. She received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1984. Her latest book, Herman and the Ice Witch, a children’s novel, was published in 2011 by Pure Heart/Main Street Rag. A former New York academic, Sarah Brown Weitzman is retired and lives in Florida.

It happened gradually, unlike the blasts of gray hair
that landed in my beard and have been taunting me—
severed yet undead—between the blades of my razor.
It started with NPR on my morning commute.
At first, I listened only for the headlines, the big news,
the stories I needed to know to stay informed, as they said.
And I didn’t initially miss the blast of electric guitars
that once slaked my brain with gulps of black coffee.
One day while slogged in traffic behind a school bus,
the fall pledge drive wore me down like slow erosion,
and I donated: I made the call to keep public radio
“listener-supported” and hyphenated, after a sobering story
about its funding being slashed by The Suits, my tacit enemies.
For my $25 donation, NPR sent me a bumper sticker
that is now slapped to the ass my fuel-efficient car,
with a subtext that reads, as crushing as a heavy-metal riff:
Please, Mr. Cop, pull over another liberal who stopped rocking out.

Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire. He is the author of three collections of poetry Not So Profound (Green Bean Press, 2003), Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press, 2007) and After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press, 2009)—a collection of short stories, Frostbite (GBP, 2002), and several chapbooks of fiction and poetry. He has an MFA in fiction writing from The University of New Hampshire and teaches high school. A memoir titled Hangover Breakfasts will be published by Bottle of Smoke Press this summer. For more information, visit his website at www.nathangraziano.com.

Tell Her
Danny Earl Simmons

If you are a man,
tell your woman she is beautiful.
Do not worry about the truth. Tell her
she is sunshine, blue ocean, the red glow
just before twilight. Tell her she is the fantasy
that feeds other men’s fantasies. Make her drunk
on the tequila of your lips, the salty lime of your tongue.
Let her drink you into the very marrow of her knowing pleasure.

Do this
and you will be a man
who understands happiness and love.

Do this
and you will see
the beaches of Puerto Vallarta turn fat
with roll upon roll of barely bikinied women
wearing nothing more than the deepest tans of being adored.

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.

For that Part of Me
Duncan Campbell

There is a place in me where the poems
are written as if by the hands of an old man.
He types them on a typewriter
before staring out the window longingly
with that look that one gets when one does so.
The days are never long enough anymore,
he’s read that they are getting shorter all the time.
Still the daffodils are coming in,
and their bastard children the dandelions,
who are uglier at first but compassionate enough
at least to grant wishes after they die.
The man finishes his poems and is invited
to read publicly at a university, though everyone
who attends would tell you
they prefer his early work, the poems he wrote
when he was still young enough to carry things
and walk up stairs. Sometimes I read a poem
and I don’t want to say a damn thing at all.

Duncan Campbell is a recent graduate of the MFA Program in Writing at the University of New Hampshire. His poems have appeared in Off the Coast, Sun’s Skeleton, elimae, the Long River Review, and elsewhere. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Edward R. and Frances S. Collins Literary Prize in poetry. He lives in Newmarket, New Hampshire and works as a writing tutor.

Rick Bailey

“Universe may be soccer-ball shaped” (Reuters,10/10/03)

An Arab boy stands on the street corner, desert
brow dark, his white shirt ruffled by the wind.

Along Telegraph Road power lines vibrate like lute strings
in song. On the radio, news of fresh death in his land.

I’m driving north to visit my father. He has picked
buckets of blueberries today, ten pounds in an hour.

An embarrassment of riches he indulges and shares.
At eighty he is difficult and deaf, so difficult I make

these trips alone now, so deaf, my mother says, anymore
only she hears how night blooms around them,

owls in the woods, trains across the river, the phone.
After blt’s at Bob Evans and a review of old news

we huddle at the trunk of his Buick and he reveals
my portion. Cool blue pearls of sweetness he loves

as much as the efficiency and thrift of their getting.
“Taste,” he’ll say, offering me one, “Don’t waste.”

I’ll eat them all the way home, as unsure of this man
as the glowering boy on the corner, certain only of hunger

Rick Bailey's publications include The Creative Writer's Craft and Going Places, both by McGraw-Hill. His fiction and poetry have appeared in College English, Chattahoochee Review, Georgetown Review, and Oxford Magazine. He teaches writing at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan.

Oleh Lysiak

Scuttlebutt has it Tom Robbins frequents
the 1890s, a LaConner bar. I look for him.
Six literary-minded local heifers out for a
good time decide I’m the guy to discuss
literature with. We snag on Norman Mailer.
The Naked and the Dead is the best war novel
I ever read. They say Mailer’s a misogynist.
I don’t give a fuck what his religion is, he’s a
great writer. Six hefty gals acting a lot more like
Mailer than I ever did offer to kick my ass for
literary taste. I decline politely. Right then misogyny
makes perfect sense. Robbins doesn’t show. I
ease out on the day to day on the road it seems
like a good idea at the time one thing leads to
another philosophy of being.

Oleh Lysiak has a writing Jones. Reasonably unruly after six plus decades, he keeps writing not because he wants to but because he has to.

After the Performance
Anne Whitehouse

for Lauren Flanigan

The stage was a vast seashell
where music like water left
a taste of salt, a fairyland
alive with malicious laughter,
and she its source—
limpid beauty with a demon's tongue,
a mermaid who swam in from the sea.

Silver hair freed, soaked
and plastered to her head,
her shining face scrubbed of make-up,
in black sweats she goes out
to walk her dog that patiently
waited all this time

Anne Whitehouse is the author of four poetry collections—The Surveyor’s Hand, Blessings and Curses, Bear in Mind, and One Sunday Morning, as well as the novel, Fall Love, available free as an ebook from Feedbooks and Smashwords. annwhitehouse.com.

The Push plate on the surgical door
is quiet, still as a pond in August.
Andy talks to a woman in an Oklahoma
State windbreaker. She is some kind of aunt
once removed she claims. A relative of
a relative who remembers Canadian geese
flying over pop’s farm. The door shakes.
A pot-bellied nurse named Phyllis
slips out of surgery. The doctor has stopped
your father’s heart. He is beginning
the first of the by-passes. Geese fly
over pop’s pond in cloud cover.
Andy and I sit on the vinyl couch, elbows
touching, staring at our feet. The door
to the scalpel marked No Admittance.

The opossum digs through the trash
in the back of the house. The man
hears him tearing paper bags
and nosing cans of ravioli from the night’s supper.
A bottle clunks against the concrete sidewalk
and he recalls the wine turned to vinegar,
poured down the sink last week.
Tacitus the terrier yelps, scratching at the kitchen door
and clicking his nails against the linoleum.
He rolls half a Xanax in cheese,
and drops it in the dog’s bowl.
He slips open the study window and eases out
onto the porch roof, gingerly settling the Johnny Walker
against the familiar shingles. He has duct taped
his Eveready flashlight to the stock of his son’s
BB gun. The opossum settles.
The man fears he has waddled off across the alley.
So he waits, staring at the remains of his marriage
strewn down the sidewalk. Now, with Tacitus silent,
maybe he can hear. Any paper bag
can hide the truth.

Al Ortolani is a teacher from Kansas. His writing has appeared in a number of periodicals, across the United States: New Letters, New York Quarterly, The English Journal, The Midwest Quarterly and others. 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, recently released from Coal City Review Press in Lawrence, Kansas. He is active with the Kansas City Writer’s Place and an editor with The Little Balkans Review.

Craig Fishbane

There was no note
on Steve’s door, but
the grease stains on
the driveway tell me
he’s in his rented Mazda
trying one more time
to convince Alexandra
to buckle-up with him.
She’s too much of a trip
for a straight-shooter
like Steve but I can’t
blame him for taking
the ride, maneuvering
around those sudden
curves that do so much
to frame a vanilla bikini.

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.

Long Pond
Bob Zappacosta

Once again I find myself
walking in the woods alone,
eating wild raspberries

drinking flakes of
gold; while meditating on
the thick lush green and

wide open blue.
This pond—and these
woods ..

no doubt are different from
Walden where I once
walked as a child.

Yet the source
that fills them both
is the same.

What is man to this
or any other place?
Indeed ...

Appearing on the horizon
a flock of geese out of season,
even so,

I shall color my pages with
what I know to be true
from these lessons

learned while
walking in the woods

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.

Your shame has drained your face of all but fear
and the fluorescent gleam of clammy skin,
white as your knuckles on the garbage bin
you wrap your arms around as we ascend.

It might be some small comfort to believe
that nothing else could ever be as bad
as this uncertain certainty of sick.
But you must learn—as every lurch and heave

in our slow-seeming progress from the ground
prolongs your public suffering again—
how inconveniently the distance swells
between humiliation and relief.

Thomas March is a poet, teacher and critic who lives in New York City. He is a recent recipient of the Norma Millay Ellis Fellowship in Poetry, awarded by the Millay Colony for the Arts, and a past finalist for the Southwest Review Morton Marr Poetry Prize. Recent work appears in Bellevue Literary Review, Chelsea Station, Confrontation, The Q Review, The Ledge, and Spoon River Poetry Review. His criticism has appeared in American Book Review, The Believer, New Letters, and other journals.

Beer bubbles,
as buddies babble
taking big bites
out of battered fare
fried to perfection
as they two
will soon be

Laughter and lies
swapped and shared—

self inflating
simplistic superficial
secrets spoken
in cliche

with nothing
of real importance to say

Deemed by gender
to exist as undemonstrative
in all but manly emotion

two sorrowful souls
drown their sorrow
with another swallow

Both seek control
while spinning out of just that,
one bottle at a time

Wisdom dies
a needless death
drowned in the endless details—
of being dumb

t m man was born in Boston MA. He works a blue collar job by day and writes by night. He loves to inundate Boston Literary Magazine Staff with persistent poetry submissions.

Late Afternoon
Douglas Polk

Grandpa sitting in the back of his car,
his stroke ravaged body enjoying the warmth of a summer day,
Grandma weeding her prize winning iris,
debating the future of each and every plant,
across the alley,
Dad in the vegetable garden,
watering his rows of tomatoes,
a civil engineer with hoe and shovel in hand,
building and destroying his earthen dams,
as the watering dictates,
voices and laughter heard,
a baseball game in the backyard,
mind boggling the number of kids involved,
Mom taking a moment on the back stoop,
a break from the hot kitchen,
until voices clamor and she presented with a bat,
and led to home plate,
giggling as she reaches base with a clean hit,
late afternoon,
my heart aches for this time of day,
when the ghosts begin to appear.

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.

Doug Mathewson

Daggers and skulls make him a man.
Rose thorns and angels wings (she’s so hot!).
I’ll get a light bulb top of my bald head,
and hope it’ll makes me smarter.

Doug Mathewson as a writer he is best known for his mixed-media sculptures. The art-world remains unimpressed with the exception of his “Head-of-Goliath-a-Day” series. Using modeling clay and found objects he portrays the image of young David with the severed head of the giant Goliath. The tiny dioramas (inside walnut shell halves) portray men, women and creatures from across the ages as David. David could be a robot, space squid, pop-star, house hold pet, or just someone on the bus The artist is always the head. Gratefully none of this involves The Boston Literary Magazine, where the author is very flattered to appear, nor Blink-Ink which he edits.

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