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Matt Ryan


Matt Ryan is an editor for Best New Writing magazine and holds the MFA in Writing from Spalding University. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children.

I am inside the compartment
one elbow resting on the window.
You stand outside, on the platform
in the blue dress I always loved.

I am like when I was twelve
on the train to the boarding school.
Full of fear, a lump in the throat,
hoping the nightmare would end.

You are waiting for the train to move;
you have glanced at your watch twice.
I look away to hide my tears.
He must be waiting for you

at the entrance of the station
to get into the car
and with a sigh of relief say
"He has gone, finally."

Ashok Gupta has lived for many years in Jakarta, Indonesia, and now live in India. He pretends sometimes to be a management consultant and sometimes a poet. Some of his poems have been published in e-zines like Ink Magazine, Ken*again, Poetry Repair Shop, Paumanok Review , Wicked Alice, Slowtrains, and in print in Reflections and Times of India.

Boomer Dirge
Oleh Lysiak

Dealing with death requires
accepted public antics.
Fermented blue agave invitations
to oblivion are welcome
once the gruesome facts hit home.
Administer your own beating
to whatever degree you need.
The longer you exist,
the less it matters.

Edgy Proposition
Oleh Lysiak

Relax, I think, the further you are from pain,
the easier it is to set up one more edgy proposition,
like rekindling memories of babes nefarious
lurking in crevices of bygone lives.

Oleh Lysiak is a writer at home on the Pacific Coast. An ex-newspaper reporter and columnist, Lysiak has written and published three books: Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid in the American Zoo and Barely Inside the Lines. He keeps writing.

Brady Peterson

We are sitting behind the pews
in folding chairs, posing
as part of the audience.
The choir sings, Laura
plays the cello,
the side of your hand
touches mine,
and I am feeling the dissonance,
the eternity of it.

I want to explain that once,
when driving out of a mountain
pass in Utah, when the air cooled
engine of a VW bug seemed adequate,
the earth met the sun
in a thin red line for a moment
so brief I wondered
if I saw it at all.

An old friend calls
to tell me that names on an envelope
sent each Christmas should be changed,
should have been changed years ago.

I stand witness
in a quiet wedding,
a week after mustering
out of the navy,
and I am attracted to the bride
who once kissed me
at a new year's eve party.
Oh, she said, her eyes wide open.

Our fingers touch as the choir sings,
and the sun is rising on a morning
as I am driving out of the mountains,
my first wife and daughter
asleep in the car.

Brady Peterson is grudgingly growing older in Belton, Texas, where he once built houses but now teaches rhetoric. He has five grown daughters.

Disobedient Legs
Judith Arnold

My brother
owns a pair of
disobedient legs.

He wears
army boots in an
attempt at discipline.

He kicks
walls, falls at feet,
no temper or wooing intended.

He rages,
weeps and finally
bows to despised wheels.

His legs
have earned a
dishonourable discharge.

They lie
disgraced, abandoned
as they did unto him.

They wither,
mocking lost opportunity—
and coax his hands to follow.

Judith Arnold lives on Prince Edward Island, Canada, with her husband and five year old son. Together they own and run Titles Book Shop in Charlottetown. Judith started writing seriously one year ago while recuperating from 20 years as a professional horse riding coach. She has a BA in English Literature and Theatre Arts from The University of London, England and hopes one day to study for a Masters degree in something.

George Bishop

I went to one of those gatherings
where what I was supposed to say
was waiting on each face.
There was an empty chair
in every eye—a drizzle
of too many rehearsals here
and tickets to give away
there—I started imaging
a child in a second floor bedroom
with wishes stuck to the ceiling
or a large dog running
as far away as the cellar
would take him.

At the end of the night
everyone agreed to do it
again—not to finish
anything we were saying,
not to come past
our dressing room

George Bishop was born in Philadelphia and attended Rutgers University studying English/Creative Writing. He relocated to Florida in 1985. His recent work has appeared in White Pelican Review, Comstock Review and Prick of the Spindle.

Winter's Velvet
Rex Stocklin

Bathe me in your crystal coat
Glorious season, a cottoned fall
Your essence sweet about nose
Its cool hush of hope becalms

The daily drudge muffled away
Into the incandescent white
Minusing grey's present capsule
by spilling quiet grace all about

Nature's verdant construction
leaps at the first brisk speck
inspiring its fill, purposed anew
Solidly shouldering for all life

Rex Stocklin is a man of many facets ... a chemical engineer by schooling, but far more entranced by music, writing, the arts in general, comedy, ethnic cuisines and wordplay. Rex, at 51, is also a 12-year stroke survivor, but turns to poetry such that "stroke" doesn't consume his entire life. He does this usually in his underwear & fedora while feasting upon green tea and dark chocolate.

Music Appreciation
Michael Keshigian

He asked them
to take the music outside,
listen as they held it toward the sky,
let the wind rattle its stems,
or place the sheet against an ear
to hear a tune
through the hollow of its shell.
He told them to jog
the parameters of the staves,
walk the winding road of its clef
and imagine living there.
Perhaps they could drop a feather
upon the music's resonance,
follow its float among the timbres,
or ski the slopes of musical peaks,
gliding unencumbered into its valleys,
then thank the composer
for varying the landscape
when they left the lodge.
But the class was determined

Michael Keshigian

All day
I've listened to the song
of a single cardinal

ripple stillness
just outside my office window.
An opera in red tux

his throat is a spring
stretching an aria
through the cluttered house

of sound, awakening memories
of events since past.
The timbre enlivens my heart.

I can almost touch
what once was
as it floats between

song and wind. An inflection
so crisp, that I'm convinced
the cardinal sings for more

than to merely texture
the commotion. His tune
incites another gift.

He performs daily,
tireless and without hoarseness,
to make sad hearts flutter.

to stalk each phrase,
analyze chords for manipulation, cunning
and seek the hidden form.
They handcuffed the notes
to the music stand,
even flogged the melody
with a drum mallet,
until it whistled a meaning never intended.

In addition to having fiction published by several on-line literary magazines, Michael Keshigian is the author of five chapbooks and has earned two Pushcart nominations and a Best of the Net nomination.

Erna Ferris

The doctor requests permission--
He wants to insert a feeding tube into Mama's belly
I stand, phone to my ear, wanting to scream
no tubes, no heroics, just let her go
and I watch the red throated humming bird
outside my kitchen window
siphoning nectar
from the lavender blooms.
She's not my mother I say
this decision is not mine
as I continue to watch the bird flit
now hovering over the red roses,
her wings a blur.

Later, sitting on the sofa
wth my husband Roland, her son,
we begin the dialogue,
the internal surgery of our hearts
I see the place where he freezes
his eyes shutting down like the sun
setting in the west
leaving the den window in shadow.

We think it is time to move her into hospice
I say to the doctor, as we stand at her hospital bed
her left hand enfolded in mine
her right all but disappearing in Roland's
her eyes closed.

. I watch the clear fluid drip, drip into her arm
the numbers change
as they beep out her heart rate,
her blood pressure falls then bounces back,
then falls again, too low—
the tube in her nose filled
with a tan colored mush
pushes nourishment
into her disappearing body.

No, the doctor responds,
I think she is getting stronger
I think she will come out of this—
and then her fingers tighten a bit
bone on flesh, an attempt to squeeze my hand,
and when I look up
I see a single tear roll down her cheek.
and rose petals from the glass vase
Flutter to the nightstand.

Erna Ferris is 67years old and has been writing "seriously" for about fifteen years (though she has been writing since she was a child.) Her work has appeared in Rattle, Spillway, Reflections, and Humm, an online spiritual newsletter. She is currently (hopefully) in the last rewrite of a novel titled Snapshots, and expects to complete it in the next few months. She has also self published Chap Books.

When you leave all of us together
standing here alone
where do you go?

More importantly,
why would you return?

Robert Tiffin has been writing poetry for some time, but only recently started submitting work to be published. His poems will appear in issue 18 of Right Hand Pointing and in the February issue of The Idiom.

Passion Poem #1
Cheryl Chambers

the fragrant smell of disinfectant.
the damage caused by standing
on the couch looking at him.
the demonstrated disdain captured
in the stomping child and his sighs.
the red pen begging to be written with.
the knife used for illicit purposes.
the warped morning after drinks.
the finale of a reality show.
the desire to meet who you can't.
the regret caused by a solitary hour
and five old hardcover books.
the sound of wheels and a slow step.
the necessity of all these at once.

Cheryl Chambers is a poet and fiction writer. Her work has been published in Tipton Poetry Journal, eclectica, and FRiGG Magazine, among others. She reads for the flash fiction publication Vestal Review.

Ruth Arden
Sandee Lyles

She danced with grace of swans
and vigor of Kelly or Astaire
the way she lived her life

until death did they part
though she never knew

"Now where did Ed go?"
she asked from a pew at his funeral
we choked back giggles
as inappropriate as it was

she told great stories
over and over
and the more we laughed
the more she retold them

we never did mind the listening
it was an honor really
she spread happy
like homemade jam
we would crave
when she left

she waited
for another dance
until then, he was simply
at the store
finally, the day came

tears are not enough
we cry
not because she is no longer here

it's just really quiet

Sandee Lyles is an RN and freelance writer who co-exists with a menagerie of teens and animals...oh, and a husband, in Flower Mound, TX, where she dreams of becoming a rodeo clown but is unwilling to put up with the bull. Sandee has been published in various anthologies and lit.mags., including her Pushcart nominated poem, "Backyard Lifeline," recently released in Literary House Review. She has work forthcoming in Skyline, Della Donna, Mississippi Crow, Houston Literary Review, and Writers Post Journal, and has been featured in several Dallas, Texas newspapers.

Janice Krasselt Tatter

On this day driving from Ohio to Kentucky
in thick snow, he's decided
to quit smoking. In the Appalachian
Mountains under glossy wheels at night,
we watch cars disappear in blurs over guardrails,
count the trucks jackknifed and spread
on the highway like pieces of wood. His one
hand used to a cigarette is now like a claw
on the wheel as we drive with tight jaws
and frozen tongues, our eyes riveted
on the white chaos outside. When we stop
every hour for coffee, we watch
the snow bruise the night as if it's beautiful.
As if we fear nothing.
When we arrive home, the snow stops.
I want to tell him we can speak now,
but he's listening to the hushed moon
burrowed in night. He reaches for a cigarette.

Janice Krasselt Tatter has a Master's degree in English and Creative Writing from Ohio University. In 2006 her collection of poems, Remembering the Truth, was published by Temenos Publishing Company. Her work has appeared in Poesia, Southern Hum, Red River Review, and Telegraf.

Patient Abuse
For Brian Brady, M.D.
John Thomas Clark

My Yanks were bound for a long winter’s layoff
With Doctor B’s team still in the playoff
Picture. But, today, I’d see his colleague
So, hearing how Green Monstermen would brigue
For World Series honors might be deferred,
If I hid in an office corner. But then I heard
The man. Next, I saw his shoe tops. Bummer,
He’d found me. With outside Indian summer
Temps near eighty, I looked up to be told
“Hunching, huddling like that, you look so cold,
I’ll fix that.” As he danced off, he let loose
“Happy Days Are Here Again.” This abuse
Resumed when he removed my Yankees cap,
Then cocooned me in 4x8 foot Red Sox wrap.

John Thomas Clark lives in Scarsdale, NY with his wife Ginny, his daughter Chris, and Lex, his black lab service dog who knows it’s playtime when his son, John, visits. A retired NYC teacher, his poetry appeared in The Recorder when its Poetry Chair was occupied by Derek Mahon and again when Eamonn Grennan was so ensconced. Currently, sixty-two of his poems are appearing in twenty-two poetry journals (Exit 13, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, Lachryma, Hidden Oak, The Boston Literary Magazine, Contemporary Rhyme, Mobius, Hospital Drive, Cynic, Right Hand Pointing, Clockwise Cat, Byline, Atlanta Review, The Centrifugal Eye, Wordgathering, Tiger’s Eye, Spindle, Paradox, Halfway Down The Stairs, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Perspectives and Mississippi Crow). Additionally, he has penned The Joy of Lex—an upbeat romp of seventy-five sonnets and a crown which tells the story of life with Lex, the best service dog in the world and Othering—a collection of 150 sonnets which recounts the journey of a person who others, who becomes “an other” facing a burgeoning physical disability.