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Antlered Hat
Oleh Lysiak

Without benefit of antlered hats,
bearskin robes and other nifty shaman
gear, today’s chemically chosen endure
psychocircus shrinks in suits or lab coats
peddling pharmaceuticals, guessing at
bipolar malfunctions like garage mechanics
diagnosing fried wiring. Lithium mitigates
to better miserable than dead. Alive you
have a chance at a bearskin robe,
an antlered hat.

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.




Colony Apartments
Judith O'Connell Hoyer

The leopard-spotted cane
lies taut against the dining table
ready to pounce on a plate of bacon quiche.
She exits the room on an imaginary catwalk
with the grace of a woman who learned
to walk with Dickens on her head,
and the clock begins to tick again.

Her apartment—a replica of a
mahogany stateroom on the Queen Mary.
A lavender orchid plant with a dozen
bowing buds sucks on an ice cube.
At a family reunion atop a Sheraton end table
silver frames tell raucous stories
of fey Uncle Dan and his dog Tippy, and
Philadelphia silk evening dresses (that still fit),
lie drowsing in a bottom drawer.

She stands on the balcony
looking into a cooling, custard sun.
Beyond the privet hedge
that conceals a rock garden,
beyond everything, sits
the colonial house she owned
like a yellow layer cake with
shiny chocolate frosting, and
enough room on top to light
a forest of candles.

Judith is a retired school psychologist active in the Wayland, Massachusetts Poetry Workshop and the Lexington, Massachusetts Community Education poetry classes. Her poetry has been published in "The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine" and the anthology "Surrounded: Living with Islands." She has a recent acceptance from Still Crazy Magazine and received a third place award in the 2012 Massachusetts State Poetry Society's National Poetry Day Contest.




Another Birthday in Paradise
- for my daughter on her 10th birthday

Kaz Sussman

By the time Friday evening came
I knew the knackers would not be
here ‘til Monday.
The neighbor’s mare had
slipped through the wire
in the morning fog
and had been struck dead
by a rig rounding the curve.
She lay in a stiff horror
at the head of our driveway.

We were country folk
with a daughter making new
friends at the local school.
Tomorrow was her party
and a dead horse now lay
on its back against our mailbox.

Out here we do with what comes
our way, nothing wasted
when a use can be found.
And so the next morning
I lassoed up some party balloons
with a hank of string,
took the long walk down
the driveway to where
the swollen horse waited,
and hitched the pink balloons
to the spear of its leg.

Back home I answer the phone
extra nice, giving directions
to mothers I have yet to meet,
who will soon entrust
their daughters to my care.
“Just turn right when you
see the balloons. No m’am
I don’t believe you’ll miss ‘em.”

Kaz Sussman is a carpenter and disaster response worker living in a home he has built in Oregon from abandoned poems. His work is available or forthcoming in Caduceus, From Here We Speak: an Anthology of Oregon Poetry, qarrtsiluni, Kingpin Chess, Raven Chronicles, San Pedro River Review, and This I Believe: On Fatherhood, among other publications.




Mid-Pack Travelers
Michael Keshigian

About mid century
my father flew back
from the cacophony of war
in a paper mache plane,
after devouring Hitler
and les femmes of France
while France consumed
les hommes of the world,
to meet my mother
at a GI dance in Providence,
deciding at that moment
she was his forever and followed her
into the crazy boom-room of the 1950’s
with explosions of their own,
leading to an encounter with destiny
and offspring of their desire.
Now I stand
in the entrance of a millennium,
during the last days of their forever,
desperately reaching back
to help them into the hallway
of civilization’s new century,
but they contentedly lag,
playing cards with the Nelsons
while Goodman circles the LP.

What to do with Intangibles
Michael Keshigian

Early morning, snow teases
the outstretched branches of birch
with help from the wind.
It is cold, but inside the stove’s warmth
cradles the recliner in the lamplight
where he reads poems.
His fingers, thick and calloused,
flip pages enthusiastically.
He notices the shape of his nails,
much like his father’s,
no moons rising.
And like his father had done,
it’s time to contemplate departure.
One day, the stove unlit, will dispense
the damp aroma of creosote,
the book will lie closed
upon the arm of the recliner.
One day, a relative will enter
and acknowledge
that the house is empty,
no warmth, no breath, no poetry,
an indentation upon the seat
next to the book.
The change will go unnoticed
by the snow, wind, ice, and
those few crows meandering
for morsels upon the buried landscape.
He returns to reading,
the words delight him.
What would become of these joys,
he wonders.
Someone should take them.

Michael Keshigian’s poetry collection, Eagle’s Perch, was recently released by Bellowing Ark Press. Published chapbooks: Wildflowers, Jazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace, Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. Published in numerous national and international journals, he has multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominations. His poetry cycle, Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, was premiered at Del Mar College in Texas. Subsequent performances occurred in Boston and Moleto, Italy. michaelkeshigian.com.




Vietnam
Craig Fishbane

All I need to be content
is a tropical garden
in Southeast Asia,
a grove of palm trees,
a lime-stone peak,
a trail for soldiers
to patrol the jungle,
empty rice fields
with thatched roof huts,
the sound of helicopters
beyond the hotel balcony.
A cold glass of beer
and a plate of fried dumplings
from a waiter who spends the night

planting landmines.

Craig Fishbane has been published in the New York Quarterly, The Nervous Breakdown, Prime Number, Opium and Short, Fast & Deadly.




After Class
Michael Milburn

You’d think that by now
I could have figured out
how to avoid the drama
of standing across from

a boy staring at his feet
convinced that for all its
apparent rudeness, no
answer to my question

is preferable to the truth.
I only asked him where
his homework was, but
the whole authority/age

advantage and ominous
summons to followed by
standoff in a hall visible
to cackling classmates

has apparently scared
the honesty out of him.
Wait, I’d like to say, I’m
not that teacher, I hated

that teacher and still do,
but it's too late to be hip
with this kid, who I think
with no little indignation

has backed me into this
hallway with his refusal
to honor the unspoken
teacher/student pact of

I ask and you do. He’s
loyal to a different pact,
one predicated not on
ask/do but didn’t/won’t.

Parent Teacher Night
Michael Milburn

If they’re alive
the mothers come
and if not the fathers take notes
and look bewildered
as if there are two places
they’re supposed to be.

Otherwise, the father
lets the mother
do the talking
and though I try
to address both
my gaze strays

to the mother
unless the father
takes over
with a let’s cut
to the straight talk
or see here, my kid

type of tone.
Some divorced parents
make two appointments
so I repeat myself
as each tries not
to badmouth the other

or else tries to.
The rest tune out
the cacophony
of surrounding tables,
the comings and goings
in the gym,

and lean forward to confirm
that their child
is wholly special
and only I, his teacher,
and they, his parents
recognize this,

their paired faces
creating a perfect
blend of a person
that they could not
distinguish themselves from
if they tried.

Michael Milburn's book of poems, Carpe Something, was published by Word Press last summer.





I have to laugh when I see you twirling
a dinner knife at Table 13. Date

etiquette escapes many nowadays.
Your dream girl looks annoyed with the menu.

She fairly radiates Oh God, this must
be a mistake
behind her water glass

shield. I think about discreetly telling
the hostess to call for a cab, maybe

even forcing Miss Not-So-Right-For-You
to eat her artichoke heart salad. She's

not laughing at your knock-knock jokes at all.
Just barely spring and a woman's thoughts turn

to love, to the lost, to the elderly
gentleman over at Table 7

who drinks nothing but Knob Creek straight and smokes
Cuban cigars. Men like him aren’t inclined

to mess around with buzzed secretaries
out on a late Thursday evening bender.

He'll take life around the block and sucker
punch its lights out. When I bring his check, he

nods his head at the two of you, says, "Look
at them. He's trying too hard," and I have

to agree. Later, I find large rips in
the paper table cloth in front of your

date's seat, her impatience kept in check by
each tear. At least you left twenty percent

for me. She left with nothing but regret.

Josette Torres received her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech in 2010. She also holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her work has previously appeared in Big River Poetry Review, 16 Blocks, and Pens on Fire and is forthcoming in Emerge Literary Journal and Eunoia Review. She is the Writer in Residence at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Virginia.




'57 Bel Air
David Stallings

We blow through the Garden
of the Gods, out beyond Austin Bluff,
toward the Air Force Academy.
I ride shotgun, my buddy pilots
his folks’ new car like Louis Unser
screaming up Pikes Peak.
We roar past red sandstone sediments tilted
into cathedral spires, slide through scrub pine
and sage corners. Gas war on, 18 cents a gallon,
warm spring night, school almost out—
we’re alive.
Roger’s skinny, four-eyed like me
face firm, a V-8 master.
We both drive $100 wrecks. Who knows
why, but his parents loan him their car,
make him swear to be sensible.

          Godamighty, Rog, can I drive?
          Sure—when it snows in July!


Mid-summer a freak storm turns the Peak
and foothills white.
I call Roger, find him blazing
with rheumatic fever—
he’d had strep throat a year before.
Two years later, congestive heart failure
catches up with him.

      Christ, Roger, Christ.
      You’re gone.


His parents drive the same tan and white Chevy
to the funeral, mom’s head covered,
dad hunched over.
Roger would never have let me
drive that car.

David Stallings was born in the U.S. South, raised in Alaska and Colorado before settling in the Pacific Northwest. Once an academic geographer, he has long worked to promote public transportation in the Puget Sound area. His poems have appeared in several North American and U.K. literary journals and anthologies, and in Resurrection Bay, a 2012 chapbook.




Afterlife
Laura Rodley

Is there an afterlife for cars,
long after their metal is shredded
and hulked into a cylinder
for another car,
couldn’t the car we had
a dodge dart, blue, 1968,
couldn’t that appear in my dreams
where visitations occur,
waiting to take me for a ride.
And who is to say
our car does not remember us
up there in car heaven,
remember us fondly
for fixing the brakes,
its tie rods, its ball bearings
for all the kissing we did
in the front seat, especially on that long journey from Delaware
to Boston. Perhaps it waits hovering
outside the window, waiting like Santa’s sleigh
for us to jump in and drive without cares
all the way to the ocean to meet
with all the other ghost cars that
are playing bumper car in the mist
of the harbor.

Pushcart Prize Winner with work included in Best New Indie Lit New England, Laura Rodley's chapbook Rappelling Blue Light received honorable mention New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook,"Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose” was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award; both published by Finishing Line Press. She teaches creative writing; works as freelance writer and photographer. She edited “As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, Volumes I and II.




New Year
Reuben Torrey

After the first cold midnight of the year,
we fall asleep in the warmth of our beds,
the furnace burning oil in the basement,

its rumble filling the house, soothing us
as our bodies give in to the fatigue
brought on by the last party of last year.

And dreams begin to appear, taking form
like flares of struck matches in dark doorways.
Something, it seems, is about to make sense.

And the rumble becomes the distant roar
of a highway to which the ears have grown
accustomed, and so it is ignored—

ignored until a deeper hour, when
the furnace clicks off quick, and we
become aware of an absence, new silence

strewn about like broken balloons.

Reuben Torrey holds a B.A. in English from the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, Merrimack, New Hampshire. He has had work published in Softblow and Red River Review, and won the Outstanding Young Poet Award from Manchester Community College, Manchester, Connecticut.




When I Found Out
for Glenn

Lorie Allred

when I found out you were dead
I finished what I was doing
an exercise video I usually skip
but that day
it wasn't what I wanted to avoid
so I kept pushing
and sweating
because how could you be dead
without my body knowing

and at your funeral
I slip in late and sit down
find out things I never knew
     you were treasurer of your bowling league
     you liked to dress drag
     you looked like your mother
     you were abused by your lover

this was your life as a man
but I remember what I can
about the boy I knew
     who kissed me once and taught me how to dirty dance
       and made a mean Mississippi Bullfrog
     who always laughed
       even after learning he was positive
     whose parents finally came around
       but whose brother didn't, not letting him near the nieces he
adored
the boy I loved
but never told

so I finally let myself
let you go
but not without saying
I don't want to
I'm not ready
it's not right

there are those in this world
who say
you got what you deserved
and oh
how I hate this world

Lorie Allred earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, studying under poet John Morgan. Her poems have recently appeared in Halfway Down the Stairs, Rose & Thorn Journal, The Smoking Poet, Umbrella, and Victorian Violet Press. She currently works as a librarian in North Carolina.





With toddler pluck, he swings into action.
What are you doing, Ben?
—Climbing on the coffee table.


Squatting, he steadies himself.
What would Mommy say?
—No climbing on the coffee table.


He straightens, as if atop Everest, victorious.
What would Daddy say?
—No climbing on the coffee table.


My red-pajamaed climber surveys the room.
I hover lest he stumble. How will this end?
What does Nana say?

What are you doing, Ben?
He grins and throws his arms round my neck.
I whirl him, twirl him and we fly.

Jane Attanucci spent her first career as a professor of psychology and women’s studies. Since retiring, she has studied with local poets David Semanki at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Her work has appeared in Contemporary Haibun, The Healing Muse, Blast Furnace, Poetry Quarterly and Third Wednesday.




Vietnam
Craig Fishbane

All I need to be content
is a tropical garden
in Southeast Asia,
a grove of palm trees,
a lime-stone peak,
a trail for soldiers
to patrol the jungle,
empty rice fields
with thatched roof huts,
the sound of helicopters
beyond the hotel balcony.
A cold glass of beer
and a plate of fried dumplings
from a waiter who spends the night

planting landmines.

Craig Fishbane has been published in the New York Quarterly, The Nervous Breakdown, Prime Number, Opium and Short, Fast & Deadly.




Acrostic: Debonair
Danny Earl Simmons

Darlin', my name is
Earl and you sizzle my
bacon. How's about you sidle
on over here onto ol' Earl's knee.
Now, don't go playin' shy. Earl
ain't gonna bite ya. No ma'am,
I's taught to treat my little fillies with
respect.

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 an active member of the Albany Civic Theater. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Avatar Review, Summerset Review, Boston Literary Magazine, and Pirene’s Fountain.




Vegetable Soup
Rena Lee

In the tall pot the vegetable-soup is simmering
and the kitchen smells like a garden.
I close my eyes in concentration, perhaps
I’ll be able to catch some notes from the Eden
of my youth—

Behind the vapor-screen I envision Ma
in her eternal blue apron standing and watching.
Hours before, she’d prepare all ingredients cutting
them into small pieces and throwing into the pot,
“Now they should mix, get acquainted,
become friends,” she’d say,
and sit at the table for a cup of coffee.

Ma’s vegetable soup never failed, one sure
success story in the annals of my childhood.
Knowing the recipe by heart I’ve been trying
for years to follow her actions repeating
accurately every step of hers.
Yet, never have I been able to achieve
the exact taste of Ma’s soup,
something indefinable is always missing.

I often wonder whether it has to do with
the change of circumstance and distance,
or the persistent sense of loss and longing,
which sneaks in as additional ingredient,
to transform a mere vegetable soup
into sort of legend?

In the tall pot the vegetable-soup is simmering
and the kitchen smells like a garden.

From behind the vapor-screen,
I can already hear Ma calling:

“The soup is ready, hurry before it gets cold!”

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.




Muse
Bob Zappacosta

I want
to kiss your mouth and feel your
laughter against my lips.

I want to roll across grassy
fields

and remove the dried leaves
from your sweater.

I want to rhyme all your
words in common time.

Climb balconies and paint
your ceiling

while Mozart stands guard.

I want to know your creative
force.

Like a brush in a jar ..
I want nothing less than

the art
you are.

Stand Up
Bob Zappacosta

She lets the words fall

like leaves from the body of Eve
standing there naked before the audience.
A Poetess—living in the 21st Century
speaking about the world outside Eden.

She tells us when she grows up she wants
to be like Sarah—a child of innocence.
But right now she is having a hard time
forgetting about the letter she found
written by her cheating bastard boyfriend.

In it he adresses the other woman as,
"Princess." He never called her, "Princess."
The truth is in her entire life no one ever
called her, "Princess."

She stops for moment and adjusts
the microphone, then takes us to
her new place in David's house where
we see real tears accompanying the words
falling out of her heart—her soul.

Bob Zappacosta is a Poet/Playwright/Performer. He once won a $75,000.00 jackpot in a poker match against the most interesting man in the world. Of course, he did this by bluffing. As it goes he then lost it all on the six horse at Tampa Bay Downs. Now he is looking for someone to publish his poetry book, "Circus Husdonius" so he can have something to sell and buy food. His favorite song is "I'm One" by The Who.




A Note
Marie Kane

The black scrawl
on the scrap of paper’s
thin, blue lines
was familiar—
(the ampersand a cross,
the dot over the i a slash,
the T slanted)—
your fingers had touched
this paper.

It was April when you died.
You were on the phone,
(who were you talking to?)
the black cord stretching,
the conversation ending
with you on the floor,
your hair still damp
from a recent swim.

What did you think
when your breath
hurt to take it?
When that Herculean
heart of yours stopped?
You—who advised me to tell
almost all the truth, to not
soften the rage,
to desire the intangible.

What did you think when
the thought of not doing
was unthinkable?
When the foremost thought
on your mind was “No”?

How did you step away
from that brief glance out
the window of daffodils,
and their yellow?

Marie Kane’s poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, U. S. 1 Worksheets, Wordgathering, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, Hot Metal Press, the Delaware Valley Poets Anthology, The Poet’s Touchstone, The Meadowland Review, and others. She has received recognition from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and an award for teaching high school poets from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Her poetry has won prizes in many competitions, including the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, Inglis House, and the Robert Frasier. Currently, she is the final juror in two scholastic poetry contests: the regional Montgomery County (PA), and the national Sarah Mook. She is the 2006 Bucks County (PA) Poet Laureate. Her book, Survivors in the Garden (Big Table Publishing), was released in June of 2012.




Mail
Jamez Chang

Sometimes I wish I were still sitting
in my upstairs-room, pinching the wood blinds
for slats of glowing sun, shy views below of a
white postal truck

creaking from neighbor to neighbor
like a friendly rocking chair that promises
stories, letters, cards, and stamps with
wavy lines grilled to corners like milk expiration dates
and story-time for the cross-legged houses below

my brother and mom run from front door to
mailbox. “small envelope, fat envelope, decision time”
Their house slippers flapping, glasses crooked, untied shoelaces.
Messy waiting for the engine to get
louder & faster
NOW
They are action figures that I must bend from my window,
Saturday morning school-toys demanding ice-cream-trucks-on-time

But the waiting is the fun part!
When summer kids play stickball through sidewalks, I listen from above
When coughing gets worse and I am locked in bed, I get to hear the sound
of a humming-quiet-rumble stitched to our velvet Vincennes street
Our house looks up.
A truck with no doors.
Starchy navy uniform with a white-haired smile.

I snap down the shutter when the mailtruck stops
in front of Our House,
An old aluminum can gets popped open
and words are waiting for me downstairs.

Jamez Chang's work appears or is forthcoming in FRiGG, Prime Number, Lines + Stars, Poydras Review, Marco Polo, and Yes, Poetry. After graduating from Bard College, Jamez went on to become the first Korean-American to release a hip-hop album, Z-Bonics (1998), in the United States. Jamez currently works in the video game industry in New York City. www.jamezchang.com





1
Clocks imprisoned in stone began ticking.
Everybody born here seemed to know what that meant.
I hadn’t spent much time in skyscrapers,
holding the black receiver to my ear.

2
The rain fell.
I watched through the train window.
Cows were kneeling in a field
out of a mistaken notion of humility.

3
A hand
had washed ashore
outside Antwerp.

Somebody mentioned
the Congolese;
somebody else,
the Russian mafia.

“Can you taste
the honey?”
another new friend asked,
the table crowded
with bottles
& bulbous beer glasses.

I said I could.
I couldn’t.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of more than a dozen poetry chapbooks and five full-length poetry collections. His poetry has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes.




Two Samaritans
Kevin Walsh

A Good Samaritan
on his morning walk
picked up every last bit of litter he saw.

Another Samaritan
strolling as well,
picked up a few bits and pieces
until the joy was gone.

The first returned home
to complain to his wife.
The second continued his walk,
leaving litter behind
as a gift
to fellow Samaritans,
to himself
and most especially
to his wife.

The Godverse
Kevin Walsh

If you want to hide a thing
Where no one will ever find it
Put it absolutely
Everywhere.

A perplexed but budding poet, Kevin spends his nights triumphantly throwing open the doors of perception and his days madly scrambling to weld them shut. Visit him at “Being Alive is Weird”: www.breathnac.wordpress.com.







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