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She
Ray Greenblatt

She enters the room
short
shapeless
in nondescript clothes,
but her personality pushes beyond
watery eyes
pocked skin
bent cumbersome nose,
so that sweetness surrounds her
frizzy hair becomes
a golden aureola
she a roseate flame
drawing people to her.

Ray Greenblatt is on the editorial staff of the Schuylkill Valley Journal and is on the board of the Philadelphia Writers Conference. His poems have been translated into Gaelic, Polish and Japanese and set to music at the University of Pisa in Italy.




Warm Summer Memories
Michael Keshigian

A warm summer night
when the neighbor’s TV
sounds like it's in your living room
and the entire community
is a cacophony of blue light,
repetitive commercials and sitcoms.

The evening sky
is an eighties disco bar,
spinning around
a stained pineapple orb
delicately splaying juice.

The humidity is unbearable,
my wife sweats like a leaky
fire hydrant in front of an inferno
and keeps itching for a fight.
I avoid her remarks
like I side step the cracks
on a city sidewalk.

She laughs, cries,
yells an absurd expletive
and I can’t help but think
how her tears must be a composite
of a large ice coffee, with 9 milks, 2 sugars
and a cream cheese multi-grain bagel.

Her mom is here again,
though it's been ten years since she’s passed.
Thirty years since she lost her father.
She must have talked to someone
with parents today,
haunting warm summer memories.

Michael Keshigian’s tenth poetry collection, Beyond was released May, 2015 by Black Poppy. He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals most recently including Poesy, The Chiron Review, California Quarterly, Poppy Road Review, Illya's Honey and has appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 5 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations.




Strapped for Cash
Doug Mathewson

So was talking with the neighbor,
about cash being short.
Says at the Fire House they pass the boot.
Just stand out in traffic and people drop in cash!
Well, I tried it, but got to tell you,
Pass the flip-flop doesn’t work for shit.

Doug Mathewson is seriously annoyed by the current “Mindfulness” movement. Annoyed to the degree he proposes an opposing campaign of “Mindlessness”. Anyone wishing to offer support or experience managing Kickstarter funding may contact him via this publication. Most recently his work has or soon will appear in Boston Literary Magazine, The Song Is, Poetry Pacific, and Virtual Verse.




A Great Beauty
Daniel Appleby

She was considered a great beauty
in her youth.

Decades later, a stroke had paralyzed half her brain and body.
She was for all practical purposes, cut in two as a consequence,

Right down the middle from head to toe.
Half her body functioned normally,
and half didn't function at all.

She jokingly referred to her two halves, as her better half, and her deader half.
No one ever laughed when she made that joke,
But she nevertheless always enjoyed making it.

Her sense of humor was an act of defiance.
That, and her refusal to think of herself as a victim,
were the things about her character
that gave us all hope.

She was bound and determined
to revive and resurrect
her “deader half”.

Beauty takes many forms,
to watch my sister pull and push
And drag her half paralyzed body

Up from the kitchen table,
across the room and back again,
just to be able to get her own coffee,
was the most beautiful thing
I have ever seen.

Daniel Appleby spends most of his time living and dying in LA. Currently, he is enjoying a postmortem interval in the sub zero tropics of Minneapolis, Minnesota.





She complains of tightness
in her shoulder, a dull throb
in her neck.

I want the hot stones hotter.

Soon as she turns onto
Linger Longer Drive, the road
to the spa, she feels
the pressure.

I should get off the table.

The pain is from anticipation
of doing her job, she says, which
she loves, she says.

I say one of those things I say, You're
very close and yet far.
I am thinking, just
like your hands feel on me now.


Stones dripping water.
Slow breaths.

She begins to speak in the small
voice of massage therapists
and sad people,

of a friendship she’s lost
with another massage therapist
who she is forced to see every day.

When it is over, she asks me how I feel.
It occurs to me to ask if the ex-friend
massage therapist uses hotter stones.

Obviously, she has not reached
the deep tissue
that holds my meanness.


Machines beep and tubes
drip and lead to places
we can’t bear to think about.

So we talk.

“It’s just going to take time.”
“On the bright side, the food could be worse.”

We wore out the weather days ago.

“Are you drinking enough?”
“You just asked me that.”
“No, she did.”

Four lives, rubbing.

Though, according to the charts,
there’s only one patient.

Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Diverse Voices Quarterly, Gargoyle Magazine, Gravel Literary Journal, Lost Coast Review, Rattle, Ray’s Road Review, San Pedro Review, Scapegoat Journal, Spillway, Tar River Poetry, Sugar House Review, and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.




Evolution
Fred Skolnik

First came the rock
And then came the tree
And then came we
Some sludge in a pond
Dressed up in skin
And later some bone
And a mouth
That opened and closed
And could even whistle
And hands that made things
Like smartphones and diet coke
You needed a brain for that too
And thank God we had one.

Fred Skolnik is the author of the novel The Other Shore and has published poems in Word Riot, Oak Bend Review, Free Verse, Hacksaw, Burning Word and Eskimo Pie, as well as stories and essays in over 100 journals. His second novel, Death, will be published in 2015 by Spuyten Duyvil.




In Culmination
Michael C. Keith

At first we were . . .
Just lumps of protoplasm.
Then we sprouted fins and swam.
Eventually we clawed our way to land.
There we developed lungs for air.
It gave us strength to rise to fours.
And in time we stood tall on twos.
To survive we made spears and killed.
Then weapons with fire met our needs.
Our brains grew keener as we hunted.
Now we have more efficient means.

Michael C. Keith is the author of more than 20 books on electronic media, among them Talking Radio, Voices in the Purple Haze, Radio Cultures, Signals in the Air, and the classic textbook The Radio Station (now Keith’s Radio Station). The recipient of numerous awards in the academic field, he is also the author of dozens of articles and short stories and has served in a variety of editorial positions. In addition, he is the author of an acclaimed memoir—The Next Better Place (screenplay co-written with Cetywa Powell), a young adult novel—Life is Falling Sideways, and eight story collections—Of Night and Light, Everything is Epic, Sad Boy, And Through the Trembling Air, Hoag’s Object, The Collector of Tears, If Things Were Made To Last Forever, and The Near Enough. He has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a PEN/O.Henry Award and was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award for short fiction anthology and a finalist for the 2013 International Book Award in the “Fiction Visionary” category. www.michaelckeith.com .




Brief Flights
Richard Schnap

I remember he loved
“Water Music” by Handel
As if it’s gentle strains
Would make his heart dance

And bright yellow sunflowers
Along the back fence
That always would appear
To brighten his soul

And jars of apple butter
To spread on his toast
Whose marvelous taste
Brought flavor to his bones

But none of them seemed
To silence his cries
That if he had the guts
He would take his own life

Tilt
Richard Schnap

He liked to collect
Pinball machines
From the dim and distant past

As if they could keep
The child in his heart
From completely fading away

But when his wife left
For another man
A piece of him vanished with her

Leaving him alone
In a dusty arcade
With a room full of broken toys

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.




Scientist-A Mentee
Fareha Razvi

As a Scholar they start the career
to instill research skills
They perform numerous experiments
Troubleshoot technical errors
Years of Solitary struggle
with meager wages
bestow them
with a title “Scientist”
Young scientists as a “Mentee”
Let their career aspirations
boss by the Mentor
Like soldiers on border
safeguarding countrymen
They maneuver pathogens in lab
to win battle of infection
and protect humans from their attack
Fearless but cautiously
they work with hazardous radiations
and cancer-causing agents
making discoveries
for humanitarian aid
Every effort as a Mentee
contributes to make a difference
in a troubled world and
research of Mentor
However, sometimes
to their surprise
All “their” contributions are published
without “their” names in authors
or
in the acknowledgement......

Fareha enjoyed writing since school days. She writes in three languages and is published online and in print journals. She does three things with immense passion—Write, research and teach. She is currently engaged in finishing a childrens book with her 5 year old daughter as illustrator.




Boston Billiards
Alexis Ivy

It’s the aim I haven’t mastered.
My spin always accidental. I don’t break,

the balls go nowhere when I do. I’m best
at winning by default, scratching on

the 8 ball, or shooting the 8 before it’s time.
Sexy how a man plays pool when he’s good

at pool, no matter good looking or not,
if he gets three shots in a row and knows

what he’s doing, blowing the chalk off
his stick. Though he isn’t much

for conversation, agreeable, that’s all.
In a pool hall that shouldn’t have a name,

we’ve been playing here for hours,
and I’m still not sure when he shows me

how to line up my shot, his hand on my hand,
the nicest hands, the dirt, he can’t scrub off,

work he’s put into the world, can’t tell if his hand on
mine is for the sake of the game? And is that all?


If anyone asks, you are my AA
neighbor who is interested in poetry.

If a family member calls, don’t exist. I will
never give you the keys to my apartment

no matter what. No staying at my place
when I’m not here. If you have money, buy

the toilet paper. No keeping your razor
in clear sight. Don’t kiss me

north of Beacon Street, but kiss
me on Chestnut Hill Avenue.

If you walk me only walk me
to the street before the street

I’m going to. No socks in the bed
I shouldn’t have shared, but shared.

You don’t live here.
Remember you are temporary.

I ache when I’m with you,
when I’m without you I ache.

Alexis Ivy's poems have appeared in Off The Coast, Spare Change News, Tar River Poetry, The Santa Fe Literary Review, Eclipse and J Journal. Her work has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review. Her first poetry collection, Romance with Small-Time Crooks was published in 2013 by BlazeVOX Books. She is from and currently lives in Boston.




Saving the World
Laura Rodley

Who am I to deny
that patting my dog
might be, is, saving the world
that the blast, the sonic boom
of her happiness, the swish of her tail
when I say, treat,
her willing open mouth
swallowing such gratitude,
crunching it, demolishing it
and asking for more without shame,
begging, in fact, without remorse,
who is to say that the ripples
from the repeated concentric circles
of her tail wagging, yes, yes, yes,
the whole end of her body circling
yes, yes, yes, that these circles
do not vibrate, sonic boom
their happiness to nuns praying
for lost souls, for renters
down to their last dime,
for those riding the bus
on their long commute,
easing their hearts, not only a little,
and, yes, even the President’s.

Jell-O Wiggles
Laura Rodley

Green or red, strawberry, or lime,
pouring one cup boiling water
while stirring fast over the red pile
of powder that rose into my nose
and made me sneeze,
how when I was younger
swishing my fork to dissolve
this magic powder it gelled
even before I added
the cup full of cold water,
how I failed, the tiny ribbons
of hardtack Jell-O stuck
to my spoon, the white sides
of the Corning ware bowl,
and eating it, the hardtack
would not give up its hold,
stayed intact. But last week,
I stood tall, pouring slowly,
carefully, one cup boiling water
over the red puffy powder
holding in my sneeze,
swirled my fork perfectly;
it all melted, not one speck
gelling before I poured the cup
of cold water and the alchemy
of gelling continued without one
speck of hardtack, a perfect red
conglomeration that I presented
to my sister who arrived
on the train for my reading,
and that I packed up for her
so she could eat it
on her ride home.

Almost
Laura Rodley

I give my mother freshly washed sheets,
clean dishes dried and put away,
I give my mother daffodils just bloomed,
forsythia showing off its yellow rings,
I give my mother pictures
of my grandchildren, her great grandchildren,
I give my mother a ride to the dentist,

I give my mother Crest, Ben Gay,
Tums, Baker’s Chocolate, her mother’s choice,
I give my mother pictures of her mother,
her arms wrapped around her,
I give my mother the lake I swim in,
a towel to dry her off, sweaters to keep her warm,
I give my mother 55 more years

Laura Rodley: Pushcart Prize winner, with work in Pushcart Prize XXXVII Best of the Small Presses, Best Indie Lit of NE, and Hunger Mountain, she is a quadruple Pushcart Prize nominee, quintuple Best of the Net nominee. Her chapbook, Your Left Front Wheel Is Coming Loose was nominated for a PEN L.L.Winship Award and Mass Book Award; her chapbook, Rappelling Blue Light also nominated for a Mass Book Award by publisher Finishing Line Press. Rodley published and edited five volumes of As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, of which Volume IV was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award.





Ten hours we spent that first day
in a car with no radio. I could
have voiced appreciation about
his taking a week off to assist
my walk across Virginia,
but silence stretched long
as miles swallowed by tires.

That week, he dropped me off
and leap-frogged ahead,
a one-man support crew
greeting me at each new town—
Stickleyville, Duffield,
Pennington Gap, Dot.
Rain fell in sheets, and still
I plodded on, head bent,
fulfilling contract of genes
with each puddle’s splash.

We never discussed the wet
clothes I’d dumped in the sink
of our ramshackle motel room.
He took them to a laundromat
while I napped on the stiff bed,
and when I nodded thanks
he waved me off. Closest
either of us could come to
saying what we really meant.

Bill Glose is a former paratrooper, Gulf War veteran, and author of the poetry collections Half a Man and The Human Touch. In 2011, he was named the Daily Press Poet Laureate. A full-time writer, Bill undertakes intriguing pursuits—such as walking across Virginia and participating in a world-record-setting skinny dip event—to write about for magazines. His website www.BillGlose.com includes a page of helpful information for writers.




Marbles
Al Ortolani

I owned a Wrist Rocket that could thump
marbles against the barn roof. I was told
it could take down rabbits and squirrels.
My parents saw it as a hedge against rifles
so they let me order it from the catalog.
One Sunday I hunted the backyard
with a pocketful of marbles.
I hit trash cans and telephone poles, popped
paint buckets into surrender behind the tool shed.
Finally, I aimed at a blue jay, drew the rubber
surgical hose to my chin. The jay
exploded before my eyes. His insides
strung like spaghetti in the wet grass.
Immediately, I wanted to put him back together,
slip his stomach back into his feathers, send him
back to what he was before.
Instead, I lifted him with the tip of a shovel
into a small hole in the neighbor’s beans.
I stuffed the sling in a drawer. That night
I slept facing the wall, the only hole
I could find big enough for a boy.

Al Ortolani has published six books of poetry, His newest collection, Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb’s Bar, was just released by Spartan Press in Kansas City. Currently, he is teaching English in the Kansas City area and serves on the Board of Directors of the Writers Place. He performs his poems widely and is a member of the troupe White Buffalo Poetry and Blues.




Ultimate Compulsion
Kathy Steinemann

An eternity of drifting. Floating. Disorientation.
Where am I? How long have I been in this strange place?
Muffled sounds filled his universe. Laughing voices. Beeps. Whirrs.
He was attached. He was warm. He was nourished.
Then why did he feel the compulsion to leave?
He stretched. He pushed. He strained.
But he was trapped.
Not yet. Conserve your strength.
He slept.
Pressure. Panic. Pain.
Now is the time.
His heart raced. He clawed his way through the ribcage of his host.
The cold air assaulted his lungs. He screamed.
A salivating xenomorph comforted him, hissed in his ear.
Mama.

Kathy Steinemann has loved writing for as long as she can remember. As a child, she scribbled poems and stories. During the progression of her love affair with words, she won multiple public-speaking and writing awards. Her career has taken varying directions, including positions as editor of a small-town paper, computer-network administrator, and webmaster. She’s a self-published author who tries to write something every day. You can read more of Kathy's work at KathyStenemann.com.




Blue Hills
Steve Klepetar

That night we camped in the Blue Hills
we put up the tent you lent us, poles
jingling like “Tubular Bells” as we worked
in fading, late summer light. You handed us
a thick, gator-backed grenade—

          “brought this home from ‘Nam.
Keep the lever down, but keep it close—
there’s strange people out here”—

and in a spay of gravel you spun your truck away.

All night we tossed in the clearing by pine
woods, rolling together, then apart
as I gripped that thing. That it turned out to be
just a lighter didn’t surprise us—even you
wouldn’t be crazy enough to own a live grenade,
never mind pull that stunt—

but the shadows of your fiction
flickered and danced against the shrinking
field of our fire that night, and in the dark
our terrors were as real as the chalky face
of that girl whose head spun
around in our nightmares and blighted our waking dreams.

Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, including three in 2014. Three collections appeared in 2013: Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2 publishing), and My Son Writes a Report on he Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press). An e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein, came out in 2014 as part of the Barometric Pressures series of e-chapbooks by Kind of a Hurricane Press.







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