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Absence of Language
Lindsey Neves

Midnight.
fork and knife wait on the table,
lying like toy soldiers,
ready to fulfill their purpose.

four hours earlier, Mother
set down a plate to fill space
as if broccoli casserole
would lure me back

from my aimless drive
made yet again,
to escape the anger.
winding roads, slivering snakes,

I am driving far away,
away, away,
headlights like laser beams
piercing night woods,

no noise but the hum of the engine
and my own cough-sobs.
I am leaving,
away, away.

She left
the silverware
and the light on
at the front door.

It makes me sad to think
she thought I would return
by dinnertime.

I climb stairs,
past photographs of us,
Mother and I at a duck pond,

Mother and I on my sixth birthday,
Raggedy-Ann party hats,
a cake shaped like a rabbit
with coconut fur,

Her breath halts in the bedroom—
She is awake.

I leave the bathroom door open
so she can hear water running
while I brush my teeth
as if to say,

I am here, mother.
I am safe.

Lindsey Neves received her bachelors degree in English and Secondary Education from the University of Rhode Island where she co-edited and wrote for The Independent Scribe. She currently lives and works in North Attleborough, Massachusetts as a sixth grade English teacher. Her work is also featured in the fall 2009 issue of Interrobang Magazine.



Antonym Perspective
Terry Miller

i am
worthless

in a world

convulsing
on material worth

in its antonym

I am

priceless

Terry Miller is a published and award winning poet from Fort Bend County, Texas. His work has been published in the Shine Journal, Blue Skies Poetry, Survivor's Review, Live Oak Review, Lamplighter Review, Bijou Poetry Review, Chaffey Review, Foundling Review, Seven Circle Press, Houston Literary Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Edison Literary Review, Hanging Moss Journal, Willow Tree Poems, anthologies of the Gulf Coast Poets, Sol Magazine and other Texas publications. In January 2010, his poem "The Diagnosis" will appear in the Birmingham Arts Journal. His first book of poetry, The Day I Killed Superman, will be released in 2010. He is a member of the American Academy of Poets, the Poetry Society of Texas, the Gulf Coast Poets Society, the founder of the Fort Bend Poets Group and the Fort Bend County Poet Laureate Competition. Terry is a professor of eMarketing and holds an Innovation Fellowship at Kaplan University.



My First Hunt
Vincent S. Green

We stand on the banks of the Ninnescah River,
my grandfather, uncles, and I,
the way tribes and clans and families
have for 10,000 years.

It is night,
and my uncle’s coonhounds
bay and scratch in their boxes,
eager to be turned loose.

The men nip at Old Calvert, stamp their
feet to stay warm. They are in no
hurry, having experienced this
small death in the night before.

Finally, my uncle turns the dogs
out and they slip into the brush
and disappear, their plaintive
howls calling us to a distant point.

Soon their baying is constant, frenzied.
They’ve treed a coon.
We run after them, following a deer path,
boots kicking up wet sticky leaves.

Branches claw and scratch my
face as we crash through
currant thickets and find the dogs
in a clearing, leaping up the base of a tree.

There at top of the naked
Dutch elm is a coon,
hissing and growling
like a masked bandit.

My grandfather uses his
shotgun and with
one blast, the coon tumbles
to the ground and the dogs are on it,
tearing it apart.

Years later I remember
that night as a girl with
kohl hooded eyes, her
naked limbs entwined with
mine, claws my back until I
am at the frenzied edge of no
return, and she whispers:
“God, you’re an animal.”

Vincent S. Green grew up in Kansas, attended the University of Michigan on an ROTC scholarship then Washburn University School of Law. He then served as a criminal trial lawyer in the Army for five years. Out of that experience he wrote two courtroom novels: The Price of Victory (NAL/Dutton) and Extreme Justice (Pocket Press) He has published poems in Cottonwood, Country Journal and the Green Mountains Review. He received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Virginia where he was a Henry Hoyns Fellow in fiction writing. He is a trial attorney and lives and works in Los Angeles.



Barnegat Bay
Derek Osborne

I whispered, “I love you”
and then, “Goodbye”
face buried deep
in his warm winter coat.
Snow crunching hoof steps,
trusting, we led him
down to the pines
where I’d whistled in winter.
“Racing’s a business,”
the trainer’s voice echoed.
Earth mixed with snow,
the rifle cracked hard and
his young body fell
onto knees that betrayed.
I shoveled my tears,
leapt out of boyhood,
“A man now,” they said.
I dared not show them.

Derek Osborne’s fiction appears in Ruthless Peoples Magazine, The Drabbler, Flash Fire 500, and PicFic/Folded Word. This is his first published poem. He lives in southeast Pennsylvania and is currently working on a second novel and collection of short stories.



Classified #10
Benjamin C. Krause

Wanted: the feeling I got as a kid
when snow was this magical, marvelous thing,
and I went sledding down that steep hill for the first time,
wiped out into a snowman
and spent the rest of the evening laughing and drinking cocoa.
Name your price.

Benjamin C. Krause's poetry is forthcoming in Tipton Poetry Journal, Counterexample Poetics, Leaf Garden Magazine, and Foundling Review. He edits and publishes the poetry blog The Weekly Poet, and is working on several new projects.which will be announced on his personal webpage over the next few months.



First Boston Winter
Renee Emerson

The city is strangers jostling like words
from a language I don't understand.
Here the winter is silver-winged
and wraps cold in more cold,
At home it ruins our garden,
crabgrass, huckleberry trees
with limbs tangled in the front lawn,
driving into us a stillness the dazzling
scarves of spring will not remove

Renee Emerson recently earned her M.F.A. from Boston University. Her work has been published in Tar River Poetry, The Blue Earth Review, The American Literary Review and various others. Currently, she lives and writes in Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband.



Frosted Glass
R. Jay Slais

I always seem to get lost at night
when I travel somewhere new
especially during a downpour,
car windows fogged by condensation,
windshield wipers never working right.

Maybe it’s because I need
new glasses, the blueness
of my eyes may be envied
but they sure do not see
as well as they used to.

Or maybe it’s trouble in my head,
confusion mixed with stress
is like mixing all three primary
colors together; it always
ends up some shade of brown.

I would never consciously admit it
but inside I know, day or night
that I am always feeling lost; never
having had that once in a lifetime
true love by my side to guide me.

Some of R Jay Slais’ recent publications include poems at Barnwood, Boston Literary Magazine, MiPOesias, Oranges & Sardines, The Pedestal Magazine , and The Rose & Thorn. His chapbook Mice Versus Man will be published by Big Table Publishing Company in January 2010. A single father raising two teenagers, he writes from his home in Romeo, Michigan and makes a living as an engineer/inventor for a Metro Detroit automotive supplier.



Hello Winter
Esther Emery

What can I do today
In my little gray house
To wake the dead?
I can pound on the floorboards
With my feet
Singing chants to the clouds
That I have not seen in years
Because I have lived in San Diego.
I can catch the rainwater
In plastic tupperware
And watch it rise
In the form of steam
From my range top
Calling spirits
Calling gods,
Hello, winter!
I can run out of my door
Onto the porch
Naked
And discover before I reach the driveway
That Massachusetts is very cold
Indeed
And hurry back inside

Esther Emery is a produced playwright and theatre director who recently relocated to the Boston area from California.



High Heels
Drew DeGennaro

If I were
a woman

I’d move
like a fresh
piece of
meat

slapping
the floor
like a beating
heart

feeding
the fire

sweating
blood

and
salty

served
for supper
with a side
of potatoes

bringing
home
the bacon
in high
heel shoes.

Drew DeGennaro grew up in NY. He currently lives in MInneapolis, MN where he enjoys the cold weather and hot tea. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, Haggard & Halloo, Calliope Nerve, Writer's Bloc, The Stray Branch, and unFold. He is also a very good speller.



If Only Mars Were Closer
Salvatore Buttaci

I’d volunteer to go there
Pitch my tent in the red hills
Maybe bring along my guitar
Become the first blues singer
To compose a tune or two
Oh, yes, I’d go to Mars

If only it wasn’t so far away
A ride most uncomfortable
For guys like me who get
Airsick at great distances
And need huge sickbags
To bury their heads in

If Mars were closer
Say as close as the moon
You’d see my hand
Up in the air
My bags packed
Space suit in order

I’d clutch in my gloved hand
A space-travel journal
Where I’d enter daily blogs
About my new home
The pretty shade of red
song lyrics to make
a Martian lady weep

Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer who plies his craft many hours a day. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Cats Magazine, and Christian Science Monitor. He was the recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award in 2007. He lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia. 



In the Small Hours
Alana Smith

The blaring burglar alarm in the house next door started suddenly,
slicing trough her window, and quickly became a banshee.
At 3:30 a.m., after three hours without silence, she gives up trying to sleep.

The neighbors aren’t home but the rest of the block is.
Lights come on in weary houses. The cops come and go.

A man from across the street stands under a streetlight and yells,
“I can’t take it anymore!” He charges and hurls a rock through the neighbor’s living room window,
leaving a gaping hole like a shotgun wound.
She can’t help smiling. She’s angry at them too and it’s just a window. But the man isn’t done.
Every window is shattered by whatever his hands can grab.
He climbs through a broken window and enters the house with an air of ownership.
She hears shattering and screaming competing with the alarm, a frightening cacophony.
The man comes out of the front door, carrying a TV.
He drops it on the ground with a heavy thud
and kicks a hole in the center of it.
He strides back to his house right before the cops show up again.
When they question us, our silence is louder than the alarm.

Alana Smith is a struggling writer with a useless English degree.  She is pretty sure she still exists somewhere in the third dimension.



Kiss
Laura Rodley

Kissing the neck of my beloved
T-cells in your body are raging
Kissing the lids of his eyes
It is a battle you are waging
Stroking his soft side
You recover from surgery
Lip to lip mouth to mouth
You wonder how to cope
Front to front, side to side
You ask to be alone
Neck to neck, palm to palm
I’ll have to have chemo
Breathless sighing soft
It’s a hard row to hoe
Palm to palm, kiss to cheek,
I’m in a lot of pain you say
Resting heads on pillow
Please call me in a week you ask
Your T-cells behind my every touch: I will.

Laura Rodley’s chapbook, Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for a Massachusetts Books Award. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, in anthologies Crossing Paths, Anthology of New England Writers, journals Massachusetts Review, Sanctuary, The National Audubon Magazine, and read on WHMP, KVMR, 89.5 FM radio in Nevada City, California, and NPR affiliated station, WAMC, Albany NY. She has taught Creative Writing in public schools sponsored by Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants. She works as a freelance writer and photographer.



Landlord
Michael Keshigian

The tenants left him a bar of soap,
two rolls of toilet paper,
shredded paper towels,
and a ripped sponge mop with bucket.
He tried to rub the white wall clean,
discovered it impossible,
realized they tried as well.
He decided to paint it over.

Hair choked the bathroom sink,
long hairs, male and female,
they both wore ponytails,
short of acid, nothing else would work.
The hardwood floor
wore rubber scuffs and high heel turns,
no doubt they danced and laughed,
but only broom swept it clean.

He began to know who they were,
seldom did he speak to them,
the check always arrived in the mail.
They breezed through, a chilled wind,
leaving behind a trail of dirt,
a thank you of sorts,
the residual continuity of broken leases
and painstaking interviews.

He seized their soap,
a green veined, marbled bar,
curved like a woman,
took a bath
after he cleaned the tub,
and dried with no towel,
in the air
with the walls and floors.

Michael Keshigian is the author of five poetry chapbooks. His sixth collection "Jazz Face", was recently released by Big Table Publishing Co. His poetry has appeared in numerous national and international journals as well as many online publications, including California Quarterly, Barbaric Yawp, Tipton Poetry Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Sierra Nevada College Review, and Ibbetson Street Press. He has been a feature writer for The Aurorean, Poetree Magazine, Chantarelle’s Notebook, Bellowing Ark, Pegasus Review, The Illogical Muse, interviewed by Boston Literary Magazine and Reader’s Choice in the Fairfield Review. He is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee. Visit him at Michael Keshigian.com.



The Receptionist
Donal Mahoney

Of her eyes
and of her hair
I have been
aware one year
and I have said
no more than
I’ll be gone
all afternoon,
take all calls,
all messages.

Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. He has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, Commonweal, Snakeskin (U.K.), Revival (Ireland), Pirene's Fountain (Australia), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Tipton Poetry Journal, Public Republic (Bulgaria) and other publications.




like an angry volcano last week.
But instead of lava,
it spewed feathers
tiny white feathers from a fissure in the elbow.

But this didn’t stop him, like a nurse
he pressed a piece of duct tape over the hole
healing the coat for another season.

This thing is Girl Scout green,
paint-stained and puffy
frayed at the cuffs.
When he wears it,
he looks like a pillow man
walking down the street.

Get rid of that damn coat,
I told him.
You look like a fool.

But he won’t.
He won’t listen to me, why should he?
He’s got all the answers.  He’s the man.

He wants to move to Florida
that’s his plan
and be done with winter coats forever. 

Forever.  That’s a long time.
In the meantime
I’ve got to look at this coat
for the next six months.
Six months.  That’s a long time.

Lisa Berquist is a free-lance writer in the Chicago area.  Her poetry and short fiction have been published with The Golden Apple Press and on-line with Six Sentences.



My Turn
Erin Murphy

When it’s my turn, I won’t go
quietly. I will claw and bite, curl
my toes into the floor. Once I left
a candy bar in the hot car. I oozed
the chocolate lava into my mouth,
licked my fingers and the wrapper
clean. Still, I wanted more.




Plot
Erin Murphy

The main character marries
the wrong man. She moves
from room to room, from
city to seaside. In between:
corseted rage, lies. It’s true
she learns from her mistakes
too late. It’s true she dies.

Erin Murphy is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Dislocation and Other Theories (Word Press, 2008), and is co-editor of Making Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (forthcoming from The State University of New York Press). She teaches English and creative writing at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona College.



On a Cold Day
Robert Brown

My wife lies
asleep, in front of the floor heater,
circled around herself.
Her knees and arms bend about her chest,
Folded up like a ball of yarn
Inside the jacket she wears to work.

I wake her up
to ask
when she wants to be woken back up
to her busy school day.
Her reply: “I’m not asleep.”
Then: “30 minutes.”

In a half an hour she hisses back to life
and scampers off
to warm milk
over the stove, and shave off
meltable-sized slices of varied exotic brands
of chocolate into it.

Then she comes into the office,
sits on my lap,
pawns a hug from me
and wanders off
to groom herself once
and then again.

I drive her to school
sometime later
and she takes a deep breath
and her countenance shifts
as she prepares to enter
one of her other eight lives.

Robert Brown is a native of Seattle, Washington. He is currently finishing up a master’s degree in Washington DC. Find links to more of his poems, short stories, and technical writing at RobertSpencerBrown.googlepages.com.



Pears
Elizabeth Bastos

Thin-skinned, beleaguered,
the ones my mother sends easily bruise,
or are disappointing sometimes and hard
in their golden foil like me. Though sold as soft,
to be eaten with a spoon at Christmas, they never are.
Yet she continues sending them,
meaning she really means it,
the brown box with the tough green bow is me
and she is the imperfection inside it.

Elizabeth Bastos is a stay-at-home mother of two under 5. Before having kids she worked in corporate and foundation relations and before that, as an editorial assistant at the Museum of Science, Boston. She moonlights writing poetry in the very early morning before everyone wakes up. Her work has appeared in Terrain.org, Tar River Poetry, The Delmarva Review, and the Baltimore City Paper.



Purple Heart
Tracey Gratch

"Skiing is an art of war" Thurl D. Brown, 10th Mountain Division Trooper, WWII

  Joseph Ray (1923-1984)

  Your Purple Heart sits under glass,
  a reminder of a distant past.
  The 10th Mountain Division,
  you skied the Apennines. Nearly
  thirty-five years later, around
  1980, that’s when you taught me.

  The Olympics were in Placid,
  just a few hours north. We drove
  up route three, through the Adirondack
  Park, to watch a downhill ski event,
  won by the Swede, I think—Stenmark.
  On the winding road back, I asked.

  In your quiet, reluctant way
  you recounted ’45, the
  Germans, and a cold battle
  on an Italian Mountainside.
  You were lucky though, or so you
  said, to make it home alive.

  It's '84, your body's weak;
  memories, still so vibrant.
  Stronger, than the pills you take
  to keep sedate, and off your feet.
  You speak again, now stoically,
  though not unsentimental,

  you tell me about your Purple
  Heart—shrapnel-wound infected leg.
  I’m longing for Sunday mornings,
  in the kitchen, through white smoke,
  as you stirred the sauce on the stove,
  when a voice over the PA

  says it’s time for me to go. I
  leave you dreaming, ethereally,
  of those days and other things.
  And I think of all the boys
  like you—the kids who saved the world
  survived, to tell their grandkids too.

  Outside, a tangerine sun streaks
  citrus across a blue sky—rivaled
  only by autumn’s bittersweet
  vine, dusted in December's snow.
  Your Purple Heart sits under glass;
  to remind me now that nothing lasts.

Tracey Gratch lives in Quincy, MA with her husband and their four young children. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Lucid Rhythms, Snakeskin, The Poetry Porch: Sonnet Scroll, Pirene’s Fountain, and Annals of Internal Medicine.  She has a BS in journalism from Syracuse University. She enjoys skiing, biking, writing poetry and spending time with her family.



Recall
Ivy Page

I remember the smell
of fresh cut grass like watermelons.
I remember the first time I smelled
snow wet and clean.
I remember trying to escape
my own mind
and the way it unwound
without my permission.

Ivy Page has been published in Cantaraville, Oak Bend Review, The November 3rd Club, and Snow Monkey, and upcoming publication in The Houston Literary Review.  She teaches a creative writing class at D Acres in Dorchester New Hampshire.



Reprieve
Doug Mathewson

Unexpected early dismissal from jury duty
left me on my own 
midday midweek midtown
used book store cafe near the court tantalized me in
juror parking was free so I still had ten bucks
clerk with race-car tattoos and vertical hair
took six of my dollars
for a poetry book and a scone
scone was pear and almonds
book was Richard Garcia 
both were great 
reading and eating in a sunny spot
playing out my own alternate lives 
with sailor me lost at sea
when cowboy me moved to town
disco me died too young
astronaut me who never took off
royal me without a throne
monastic me who suffered alone
the afternoon was passing
time to head home
the evening was still open
  for us to decide who to be

Doug Mathewson is an editor and writer of short fiction who lives on Connecticut's eastern shore. He is co-editor of Blink-Ink, a contributing editor @ MUST, a photographer, and environmental artist. Most recently his work has been published by The Boston Literary Magazine, The Binnacle, Callused Hands, e-Muse, Full of Crow, Right Hand Pointing, riverbabble, and Poor Mojo’s Almanac(k). His somewhat more episodic fiction True Stories From Imaginary Lives is available at www.littl2say.org.




Your Words sink like sickness,
or what it means to be a man.
Scratch, spit, dig holes in the earth.
The dirt works down through skin,
flows in the veins, sifts into the bones.

There is a girl… and all that comes with her:
Talk,
long silences,
the bending of bodies away and then back
like branches swelling the wind.
Love. 
or perhaps the idea of love.

Changes, like drops of sweat
weave into the sand,
into the ocean, which has no memory,
no form,
but endless waves.

There is something to be said for repetition.
The sky bleeds into the sea,
turning both black.
Stars and starry eyes on the same beach.
A crooked nose, too thin lips,
the dust from bones.

A child 
No, the idea of a child,
fingers pressed to my cheek,
his body heavy with the weight of skin,
bones, too large a head.
“I’m late.” You say
Perhaps some change in you as well:
A meaningful look, a kiss that lasts
a moment too long.
All your fears laid out along the shoreline.
“A child,” you say, “our child.”

Soft pull of lips on too thin lips.
I have never been a man.

Ben Cromwell is returned Peace Corps Volunteer and aspiring writer.  He lives in Salt Lake City where he his currently enrolled in the University of Utah's Environmental Humanities program.  He teaches freshman composition and enjoys really good blue cheeses and snuggling with his wife, Raven.



The Butterfly Room
Carol Lynn Grellas

With a view of the ceiling, its limits exposed
as I lie on my back, both feet harnessed
in flat-bottomed stirrups, I ride along

the table in a horseless room, sliding myself
through an unknown crossing—this ready
position for silver tools and scalpels;

his magnifying light at the mouth
of my womb where only sacred things
are meant to happen. Please forgive

me, my hands are cold
and I flinch through
an awkward smile at the bald-headed
doctor between my knees, telling me

to think pleasant thoughts while he reviews
this place of origin, hollowed now; embryo
free. This is the transformation zone

and I think, yes, a conversion of sorts;
the metamorphic clock is ticking
but I remember the fluttering of baby

wings inside me, where all that grows
is indefinable before results are in. He scrapes
my walls thin for malignant-matter; the sound

of clatter from scissors and a knife like a stiletto
in my heart. I hope I was a goodwife, mother
and daughter, then the rush of water,

his hands baptized clean. I’m told to wait
the verdict will soon be in and I take solace
in this nameless journey before we know

what birthed unseen.

Carol Lynn Grellas is a two-time Pushcart nominee and the author of two chapbooks: Litany of Finger Prayers, from Pudding House Press and Object of Desire from Finishing Line Press.  She is widely published in magazines and online journals including most recently, The Smoking Poet, decomP and Flutter, with work upcoming in OVS, Writer's Bloc; Rutgers and Tinfoildresses. She lives with her husband, five children and a blind dog named Ginger.



The December Hunt
Laury A. Egan

A cardinal rigs
red flashes from
branch to branch,
setting out territory,
while in a grove
of birches,
a buck browses
the last, fragile
yellow leaves.

In one month,
in neighboring
Hartshorne Woods,
cardinals will no longer
safely venture,
and the deer will lose
their trust of us humans
as beer-drunk hunters
swarm the forest.

Already ducks and
geese flee the river,
where exploding
shotgun shells
shiver water, and,
in square-nosed boats,
black retrievers wait,
their velvet mouths quivering,
eager for the soft bodies
of fallen birds.

From the bedroom radio,
a choir sings “Peace on Earth.”

Laury A. Egan’s first full-length poetry collection, Snow, Shadows, a Stranger, was released from FootHills Publishing in 2009. Her work has received a Pushcart Prize nomination and has appeared in Atlanta Review, The Emily Dickinson Awards Anthology, The Ledge Magazine, Sea Stories, Centrifugal Eye, Willows Wept Review, Ginosko, Leaf Garden, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Main Channel Voices, and Foliate Oak. In addition to poetry, she writes stories and novels and is a fine art photographer. www.lauryaegan.com/.



The Soul Gathering
Allie Dresser

Souls of my past lives
Await my death anxiously
Eager to meet me

  I cross the life line
Swim the pool of my regrets
Hurdle my mistakes

  I tag the newbie
Passing off the life baton
I’m done; he starts fresh

  I join the others
Build a purifying fire
Burning could-have-beens

  Sadness fades away
We dance as kindred spirits
A new life begins

A born and bred New Englander, Allie Dresser now lives and writes in the burbs.  She's the fiction editor at Gloom Cupboard and her scribblings can be found at Disenthralled, Blink/Ink, Deuce Coup, and around the web.



Token Rainbow
Melanie Browne

The man with Hairy arms
in the car in front of me
dumps
the chunky pink
contents of
a toddlers
juice cup
onto the
slick street below
then lights another
cigarette,

The blossoming
smoke spoiling
the remnants
of another
token rainbow

Melanie Browne's work is forthcoming or currently at Glossolalia, Word Riot, Bartleby Snopes, 34th parallel, and Yellow Mama. She is a co-editor at Leaf Garden Press. She lives in Texas with her husband and three children.



Tomboy Confessions
Karen Kelsay

Brother:
Do you remember when dad cleaned an Albacore
on the driveway and I cut out the eyeball,
then put it under your pillow? Or the time
mom and dad took a trip?  I told you they'd left
because of you…and you cried?
I'm so sorry about that; almost as sorry
as I was after they'd returned.

Dad:
Do you recall the time you told us you'd put a magic
tell-tale chemical in the pool which,  if we peed
in it, would turn the water red? I put it to the test:
you were lying! And therefore-no apologies.

Family Cat:
Should I ask you to forgive me for placing
you in the middle of the pool on a boogie board,
then swimming  beneath  it to topple you off?
I only wanted to see whether you could swim…
You could, which took a load off my mind and made
you a great swimmer.  Cat, you scratched me deeply.
No apologies.  

Mom:
Sorry for "playing you" each Friday afternoon
when you asked me to dust. I did a crummy job,
but discovered that, if I sprayed lemon polish
 in the air, you'd automatically say, "This looks fantastic."
Mom, even though you spared the rod,
please accept my apologies.

Hotel/Marina where we kept our boat:
I'm truly sorry for every time I'd dropped
a crab in each hole of your golf course—
or brazenly used my bait bucket to steal
the  hotel's ice for an ice-fight.  And forgive
me for trespassing the lobby of your ritzy
restaurant to steal mints; oh! and I'm the one
who threw cherry bombs into the bay.  But I only
wanted to catch fish the easy way.
My apologies to those guests who had no ice.

Karen Kelsay is a native Californian who grew up near the Pacific.  As a child, she spent most of her weekends on a boat. She has three children, two cats and extended family in England, where she loves to visit. Her poems have been widely published over the past few years in journals including Soundzine,The New Formalist, and Willow’s Wept Review. Her first chapbook, A Fist of Roots, was published by Pudding House Press in January 2009.  A second chapbook of children’s poetry, titled Song of the Bluebell Fairy, will be also published later this year by Pudding House Press. 



Twilight Elegy
Donna Barkman

Streetlights cast a moody blue on snowbanks that loom above us
Inside woodframe houses, set back from the road
    lamps blink on, offering an impossible invitation
Our breath freezes on our mufflers, frosting the wool
Our feet weighed down in snowboots tramp along the shoveled walks
The heft of Sunday dinner strains the basket we swing between us
    until finally—

    rising from the dark, the corner gas station
    aglow in the false cheer of gleaming red and green pumps

Inside, the heavy smell of oil floods our lungs
Our father tries to wrest a smile from his exhaustion
    his shovel standing sentinel against the wall
Thanks for supper he murmurs as a car drives up for service
    then another—
He trudges out to pump their gas
    swab their windshields
    check their oil

We place the basket on his vacant chair
    wave our mittened hands, now nearly thawed
    wait for his quick salute and grateful nod
    and turn again into the bittersweet night

Donna Barkman has been a teacher of children’s literature in graduate schools of library science and education for 20 years, and a performer of her own and others’ work for longer than that. As the start of her fourth career, her poetry has been published in The Westchester Review, ragazine.cc, Bray Arts Journal, Waterways, and forthcoming in Pennsylvania English and Chautauqua. In 2008, she enjoyed a month at Jentel Artist Residency in Wyoming, and, recently, was a juror for the Bronx Council on the Arts poetry competition.



When Nothing Else is Left
John Lambremont, Sr.

When nothing else is left,
there will be light,
as the Sun shall consume
the Earth.

When nothing else is left,
all laws, politics, wars,
philosophies, faiths,
deliberations, and
transubstantiations
will be irrelevant,
as words will no longer
have meaning.

When nothing else is left,
all the oceans and fishes,
all the phylla and sub-phylla,
all the molecules, atoms, and sub-particles,
all the blood and bones and tissues and souls,
all the stars and constellations and galaxies and universes,
and the birds,
will converge in the eye of the needle,
and the bell will be
unrung.

When nothing else is left,
God will be lonely again.

When nothing else is left,
the crazy woman on the steps
of the Courthouse will still
be ranting about Everything
to Nobody.

 
John Lambremont, Sr. lives with his wife, their Jack Russell terrier runt, and their fat gray tabby cat in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has a B.A. in English-Creative Writing and a J.D. from Louisiana State University, where he studied writing under William “Kit” Hathaway, Warren Eyster, and Jim Bennett, and his major focus was poetry. During this year, his work has been published or accepted for publication in A Hudson View (2009 Pushcart Prize nomination), Flutter Poetry Journal, Bear Creek Haiku, Pattaya Poetry Review, Jerry Jazz Musician, Shenom Magazine, The Fib Review, and Lilliput Review. John enjoys modern jazz, playing the guitar, and adult baseball.



Newborn
Stephen Mauer

As the aftershock of an emergency cesarean
subsides in her soothing kitchen,
I'm captivated
as my daughter and her newborn daughter,
transfixed in mutual gaze,
nurture each other.
Their rapture seems a tableau vivant,
but that pliable newborn face
is no tabula rasa awaiting inscription.
She has her own gyroscopes of desire.

The delicate dance is beginning.
Following each other's lead,
uncertain steps will become patterns,
melodies, until a dissonance surprises both.
My daughter may repeat the difficult
compositions of early years,
unpredictable resonance becoming
part of her child's pain and joy.
Their harmony will be lost and reborn,
many times,
transposed in her little one's song
long after their dance fades.

My daughter looks at me,
says she's afraid her daughter's life
will be darkened by a culture of greed and self.
I fumble for reassurance I can't find.
Tears slip down her cheek.
She looks into her husband's gentle eyes,
turns back to her little girl,
hopeful again.

In early light
she offers me her little one.
I'm flooded with nostalgia.
Its as if I have them both in my arms.


Symbiosis
Stephen Mauer

"Dad, I'm having an identity crisis."
My youngest daughter watches
her tight athlete's body morph,
her expanded belly shift
with new being.
Some days she forgets,
then worries what she's done,
its effect on her little one.

She arrives for our neighborhood yard sale,
a treasure hunt for her first baby.
She lingers at the free box,
the partly-colored drawings,
deflated soccer ball, trophies,
smudged dolls with broken limbs,
wonders why they're given up.

I recall her mementos,
knowing they've been lost.
I'm trying to forget how
her triumphs softened my failures,
her intelligent curiosity
enlivened my jaded reticence.

She doesn't yet know
a parent's struggle to lose
what's become so necessary.
I await her motherhood,
perhaps her understanding,
gifts that can help rejuvenate
my separate life.

Stephen Maurer has practiced and written about psychoanalysis for 30 years. Now partially retired, reading and writing poetry is the extension of that analytic practice. A longtime outdoorsman, Stephen also plays classical clarinet. He lives with his wife Elizabeth, chief muse and critic, and their dog Sombra, in a small college town in the northwestern United States, not far from 5 children and 15 grandchildren.



Visiting My Father
Brendan McEntee

He shakes
and shakes my hand,
this father,
with three more falls
since April,
who doesn’t know me
or claims
not to know.

“Thank you,”
he says (Glycerin tears.
Broken voice).
And we shake hands.
I touch
his forehead, leave him
facing rain
and rain-soaked conifers.


Ways and Plans
Brendan McEntee

He spoke to his mother’s corpse
through his sister’s cellphone.

She sat with the body,
ten minutes too late to watch

the death. He leaned on the bathroom
sink in the back of the stockroom

in the dark. She set the phone
on speaker. He mewled

apologies through the air,
noise became his voice

She cooed and shushed
and made sounds for consolation.

He washed his face, raked
his hair, considered ways and plans.

She sat in an office chair
with the body for an hour more.

Brendan McEntee is a native New Yorker now living in Vermont with his wife and an ambivalent Jack Russell Terrier named Cordelia. He achieved his M.A. in English from Hofstra University and is currently the poetry editor of Triggerfish Critical Review. His work has most appeared in Nomad’s Choir, The Iconoclast, Perigee and Prick of the Spindle.




Winter's Last Breath
Oonah V. Joslin

Blow me a blow of wind high in the tops.
Leafless, still leafless, lifeless winter drops
whiter than bone and through hard bitten ground
delicate bells push up and make no sound.
Screech me a screech would make a spirit quake.
Moan all around, leave terror in your wake.
Frighten mere children while it’s in your power.
This is your final battle, your last hour.
Yes, you have fight but you can’t win the day.
Change as change happens. Spring is on her way.
Look, I have taken off my winter vest.
See how gently light rain comes to rest
there on your grave, old withered winter wind.
Sleep there a while until the season’s turned.
Go and let bird song tune you from my mind.

Oonah V Joslin writes short fiction and poetry and is Managing Editor of Every Day Poets. She is twice winner of Micro Horror Contest and honouree in the 2009 Binnacle Competition with her poem First Love. You can follow her work at Oonahs.blogspot.com, in her forum or on Facebook.







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