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He used to sling his penis over one arm—
let it dangle like an ornamental tassel
so she might desire it, the way a collector
quests the flawless thingamabob
to enhance her eclectic breakfront,
fiddleback chair or cherry-wood
jewelry box with light catching intricate
gold feathered paint, or maybe just beads
of sweat etched against the coronal
instrument below her husband’s belly—
the way it moved with the wind in astounding
rejoinder; a liquid motion, a conjugal ballet.
She always noticed the beauty of his drop,
the way it fell; a curved accessory between
his legs, an adornment that shined like lacquer
in the haloed sun. How one tender tug would

create such a stir within, both of them lost
to each other for days at time. She’d like to tell
him something so fine should be loved forever,
or blow a kiss in his direction to find
his heart somewhere within the ampleness
of hope and wounded flesh—or maybe just
adore the scars; his mars from cancer;
the way each one signifies another chance
for their lifetime together.

Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a six-time Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of eight chapbooks with her latest collection of poems: Epistemology of an Odd Girl, newly released from March Street Press. She lives in the High Country, near the base of the Sierra Foothills. According to family lore, she is a direct descendent of Robert Louis Stevenson.




Moment Alive
Oleh Lysiak

Replacement knee clicks rhythmic
with hip titanium, tongue licks pulled
tooth gums, past weighs on his back
like an invisible rock-filled pack. He grins
at fogged dawn breaking cobalt metallic
pink, recalls tumult endured to arrive
at this very moment alive.

It Is
Oleh Lysiak

He swore he’d never be the guy
who couldn’t see his dick because
his gut got in the way but found
the other day he can’t because it is.
Intentions make us all out to be liars
but we endure with luck, a sense of
humor and seriously wishful thinking.

Oleh Lysiak’s poetry has been published by Boston Literary Magazine, Bad Light Literary Journal, Commonline Project, Void Magazine, Apt Magazine, The Boatmen’s Quarterly, The Bay City Slug, The Stinking Desert Gazette, Estafette Literary Journal and The Word Almanac. He is author of Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid In The American Zoo, Barely Inside The Lines, Scars In Progress, Geezer Rumba.




Couture
Rena Lee

The hat the world makes me wear
is way too small for my head.
It presses on my thoughts
hurting my ideas, and crushes
all my dreams.
The shoes too are short by a size
or two. Wounding my feet
they constantly prevent me
from taking the right step.

For the heart no garment is available,
since it rejects any cover
adhering to the naked truth.

And the soul—an entity so lacking
substance as to doubt its existence—
has no body which one can clothe.

The only possibly adequate dressing
I am able to find in this world,

is for salads—

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.





If this place is a joke, no one knows
they should be laughing.

The hostess puts down her crossword,
and sends us to a corner.

On her hat: Save the whales
or eat them now. You decide.

We decide to see the menu, then not.
Too much choice is confusing.

Over a dish of Tanzanian yams
you tell me what's new.

"My son's back home."
"There's mold in the basement."

"I suck at divorce."
I tally tubas, forty or so

nailed to the walls. I played one
back in school, I say,

puffing up my cheeks for proof.
Two booths over, some cub scouts howl

and chew their way to achievement.
"Happy for now," you say, satisfied.

Tonight I would be happy to join them
but for the dreadful necessity of merit

and those awful caps they wear.
Everything improves with practice, I lie.

The truth is I did not play the tuba,
I was a cub scout for only a week,

and if I learned anything from the experience
it's that quitting can be delicious.

I try eating my artichokes, fibrous
as cysts, hard as grenades,

and tell you things are bound to get better.
They are. But sometimes they don't.

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




Queen of the Pathies
Michael Milburn

I can tell from a few of her
creative writing exercises
that heartbreak’s become
commonplace to her. She

mourns easily for the boy
who flirts with her but falls
for a cuter girl. She sides
with the victim in literature

and in life. She sides with
everyone; I call her queen
of sympathy and empathy,
a saint embedded in our

ninth grade English class.
By now, if you picture her,
you’re not picturing pretty,
because then there would

be no heartbroken poems.
I know how altered her life
would be if she were pretty
because I was once a boy

and know what limp hair,
thick brows and volcanic
skin do not drive boys to
want or do. I know what

homeliness disqualifies
her from, just as beauty
deprives her tormentors
of the pathies: sym and em.

Beholder
Michael Milburn

The time comes
when we cannot
see what we once
wanted to see,
when the conditions
for attraction we had set
are no longer being met,
but there’s something new
in view we can’t take
our eyes off of. Her skin
lightly weathered,
hair a calibrated gray,
eyes neither orbs
nor lamps, but like
the eyes in portraits, sums
of variegated strokes.
Beauty alters
at the same rate
in my eyes
as on her face,
until what is not there
is what I no longer
care for, and what
I thought I loved
of comeliness
was simply me being
young and dumb.
Once I would have said
this woman was an old woman,
but I was looking out of young eyes—
what has happened
that she now still fills me
with lust and love?
We see with our hearts
and our senses
are connected there—
why else would the children
placed in our arms
be those we are
prepared to love?

Michael Milburn teaches high school English in New Haven, CT. His book of poems, Carpe Something, will come out from Word Press next summer.




Writing the Dream
Robert Laughlin

The writer with a vision of millennium is in a box.
A settled purpose to our lives,
A system of belief that promises to fill the needs of all:
How little that suffices to the purpose of a tale.
No drama without conflict, as they say,
And so the true believer must effectively abandon his beliefs
For storytelling’s sake,
Inventing obstacles and tensions and uncertainties
To keep his readers interested to the last.
And if he does, they’ll carry off the memories
Of his imperfect actors,
Not the message of perfection that he valued so.
How often have we seen this in the past?
The suffering of Dante’s sinners moves our hearts;
The blissful state of all his saints in Paradise does not.
The earnest Milton sought to justify the ways of God to Man,
And focused on the intrigues of
His antihero, fallen Satan, leader of the damned.
The dream of Eden never dies—the irony
Is that the man who tries to tell its story always ends
By saying: Make the cosmos perfect, but not yet.

Robert Laughlin lives in Chico, California. He is a frequent contributor to Boston Literary Magazine. Two of his short stories are Million Writers Award Notable Stories, and his novel, Vow of Silence, was favorably reviewed by Publishers Weekly. His website is at www.pw.org/content/robert_laughlin.




Breeding Uniqueness
Karen Kelsay

She was the kid who could bait a hook,
embrace a slithery fish for the camera
and jabber with grandpa in his boat for hours.
Each morning she lugged her massive
French horn down the sidewalk
ignoring her brother's jeers from the garden.
Her skinny legs, sturdy from rollerskating
to the library after school, helped her shimmy
up the magnolia tree whenever her mother
needed flowers. Her flaxen hair
was tinted chlorine-green, she played with
dolls until she was thirteen, and refused
to change her mismatched clothes (even when
her sister said she looked ridiculous).

Now she chases two daughters,
braids their hair and takes them fishing.
In summer they pick berries
and wear striped pants with checkered
blouses. Her sister, the self conscious one,
rolls her eyes at this new generation
of little nerds, chuckling out loud
at their funky clothes and unrestrained ways—
then laces up another summer of wondering
what it's like to pluck a magnolia
six feet off the ground.

Karen Kelsay has been published in a variety of magazines including: The HyperTexts, 14 by 14, The Raintown Review, Pirene's Fountain and Foundling Review. She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the editor of Victorian Violet Press, an online poetry magazine.





summarily in san francisco
allen ginsberg told me,
“go see philip whalen,
he’ll teach you how to sit.”

i didnt understand then
the ugly voices in my head
shrieking out
were teachers

i didnt understand then
it is fear
that i transcend …

the only way i can be
okay with open settings
is to play a mediator
telling comely stories.

blam! blam! blam!
that damn machine gun vanity,
shooting off once more it splatters!

no i never did meet whalen
but that hardly matters …

justifying
roads not taken,
bringing home some
fauxbrow bacon!

In the 1990s Wilder partnered with Allen Ginsberg on a battle over rights of artists to create posters. This led to a landmark legal victory for free speech which de-fanged some draconian censorship laws. Wilder's free speech activism has recently kept some noteworthy artists and writers out of jail. Since the 1980s his writing has appeared in hundreds of literary journals. You can visit his website bewilderama.com for free music clips.




Breakfast
Bob Zappacosta

He left her with a book of poems
and a pot of coffee on the stove.
He signed it, "Until we meet again
someday further down the road."

He was a man
who allowed himself to be used like
a frying pan to cook an egg.
In the distance a rooster crowed

as the morning sun
burst through the window and
shined on the page of the book
she had opened to.

Bob Zappacosta's poems have been published by The Aurorean, Bowersock Gallery, Pasco Arts Council, PEARL, St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Verdad. His poetic short film "Jack Buchanan—rough cut, a work in progress" was recently shown at Progress Energy Art Gallery. His work can also be found on YouTube.




Cataracts
Brandon Whiting

Grandpa stops his snowplow to watch twenty, maybe thirty deer
Cross the highway through his high beams, each pair of eyes ignites
& then vanishes; a snowdrift swallows their tracks; he tells no one.
It goes on like this for decades: some nights he survives by memory;

In whiteouts, he hugs rumble strips and prays his way around blind
Corners. At seven, his day is over. Grandma simmers his oatmeal
Down to dough. Fog enters his glasses. He pours cold pools of milk
Into his bowl and holds his peanut-buttered toast like a newspaper.

Brandon Whiting, who is originally from Pocatello, Idaho, has lived in half a dozen states. He currently lives in Ohio, where he is finishing a Master's degree in English from the University of Cincinnati.




Now
Andrew Buglass

There is no Rapture or recess-
-ion, No tsunami or earthquake,
That could do me more harm,
Than that picture of you
In a wedding dress.

Andrew Buglass lives in Ashington, a small town in the northeast of Britain, and is currently studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He is due to have a piece of work published in Red Squirrel’s Drey Magazine next year.




Small Soldiers
H.P. Rosenberg

Most Wednesdays before third grade,
grandmother’s day off, she escorted me
to Nostrand Avenue to the sole toy store

within walking distance of my little legs.
She’d buy me a few toy soldiers,
metal men dressed in reds, yellows,

blues, armed with sword or gun,
warriors ready to join my growing
army, their bloodless battlefield

my living room’s cold, linoleum floor,
the time I took to make my picks
always outlasting her patience.

Within our too small apartment’s
khaki-green walls, I enacted battles
I couldn’t view on television,

for the black and white TV
that one day would impose itself upon
my battlefield had yet to be bought.

At battle’s end, warriors and weapons
returned to their base, a shoebox—
Mom’s Law, for I was,

first, a soldier in her army.

H. P. Rosenberg has had poems published in The Christian Science Monitor and Poetica, and his poetry book reviews have appeared in Rattle. He also has written articles for both magazines and newspapers, including the Philadelphia Daily News. He teaches writing at a two-year college in New Jersey.





Inner warrior
wields a shield
fashioned from
a brown bottle.

Lifted high,
it provides protection,
slamming down
past dirty deeds.

Enlightened by elixir,
a god is born
to rule grandly.

Tongue flows freely
with knowledge
till hangover corrects
evolution’s mistake.

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




December
Susanna Hargreaves

There is an inner symphony
A crescendo through time
Sublime—
Divine—
Lovers’ hands intertwine
And outside
The snow falls
Like an applause
In perfect white
As he listens to her heart beat
and savors the sweet joy of night

Susanna Hargreaves is an educator, writer, and mother of three enchanting children from New Hampshire.





my father was a fisherman
he would sing and drink beer
and he didn't always go to church on sunday
when he died
a priest put flowers on his grave
and said
solemn words in Latin
but after
we sang and drank beer
because my father was a fisherman
and didn't always go to church on sunday.

M.F. Nagel was born in anchorage Alaska a year before statehood and lives in the woods with her husband and seven children.





In middle age
the Clergyman sleeps alone,
an authentic bride of Christ.

Veiled in footlights, his mind watches
what his soul creates. Demons appear.
Crimson faces form and reform.

Old friends with no names,
he has known them all his life
and is not afraid.

Without warning or foresight,
dreams come. Fierce concoctions
of a restless and unsettled mind.

They consume his sleep and
reinterpret reality. He is powerless
in them and against them.

In the pre-conscious dawn,
the Clergyman drinks deeply from a place of rest,
where there are no dreams and no remembrance.

He opens his eyes to God’s morning.

In times past he lifted up psalms,
made whispers of grace and gratitude,
prostrate and obedient.

Now his spirit rebels,
refusing to beg even before his God.
He is a well without water.

The Clergyman has put away his Bible,
finding little succor at its breast and
in its arms, the tasteless manna of solace.

Warmly robed, he wanders into the morning.

The half-moon fades in new light.
His eyes fall to a distant tree,
tall, thin, and bare.

In its branches, a hawk with pale grey torso,
seeks the rising sun,
worshipping that which cannot know it is being worshiped.

Turning away, the Clergyman plies pitiless hours of sanctuary.

Preserved in the coming in and going out of his duties
by lead-lined saints until their colored glass
can no longer hold the light.

The Clergyman’s faith is not dead but sleeps,
alone at the altar, an authentic bride of Christ,
waiting in comfortless patience the coming of the Groom.


A Boy's Winter
Dave Davis

With snow to
knee caps we’d
trudge to a grave
yard hill not yet
filled with crosses.
On a granite slab
a Union soldier
watched our sleds
streak by,
his burnished cloak
stark and cold,
his cap cocked
low over marble eyes,
his musket butt-end down,
its bayonet frozen
in the rust of time.
He saw what
we could not.
It is good
to be young
and not yet
filled with life’s
Desires.

Now retired, Mr. Davis dabbles in writing, fishing, and cooking. His work has been (or will be) published in Boston Literary Magazine, Eclectic Flash, Journal of Microliterature, and Pot Luck Magazine.




Deli
Kyle Giroux

You know what it’s like, to work in a deli?
They put you in this god damned little hallway,
Behind the glass case full of sweaty meats and cheese.
The fish case is off to the side like some
Quarantine zone
And it stinks in there, man it stinks.
Especially when you open that roast beef
And juice pours all over your apron and you look like a shmuck
Or a murderer, pick one.
These customers go in and out of the store
Like there’s some guy out there
Letting them in a few at a time so you’re always busy.
They’re usually wrinkled old smelly women
And fat guys who order 12 pounds of Kayem stick bologna,
And if you don’t have stick bologna the guy looks at you
Like you’re some sort of asshole
And you’re hoarding all the stick bologna
From his fat ass to inhale.
These people are punctuated by the occasional
Good looking young girl whose mom sent her in to buy some
Shaved roast beef.
You try to make conversation with her but then you remember
That there’s roast beef shit all over you and you
Smell like ham juice and you
Have a piece of Muenster on your face and you
Also remember that she doesn’t give a shit.
Because how could a deli worker get
A girl like that anyways?
When she’s gone you can talk with all your coworkers about her
Because your very homosexual boss only hires male workers
Except for that Melissa chick who comes in on Sundays.
Then you get that customer you hate
She’s old as dirt and she’s got this face on.
A kind of “Who shit their pants?” expression with a side of
“It certainly wasn’t me.”
She holds her fingers a few millimeters apart
And she tells you that’s how thick she wants her
Olive loaf to be.
So like a professional you hold up a slice
So she can sample the width
But no, she’s never happy with it
And finally settles on something, but she lets you know that she’s only settling
As her lazy white eye twitches and she
Brushes back her stringy, crusty hair.
You give her a pound of the stuff then she tells you to change your gloves
Because now she has a fish order.
“Oh, I said one pound,” she says
“You went over. Take some off.”
“Alright, bitch,” you say, leaving out that last part, and you
Proceed to cut a sliver of fish off the
Three week old haddock.
“Better?” you say.
“That’s alright, it’ll do,” she says, relentless.
“Great, have a nice day,” you lie.
Then you go back with your other coworkers,
Most of whom are college kids or old people who Have some sort of sob story that everyone but you knows about
And you wait for another chick in short shorts to come along
And break up the day for you a bit.

Kyle Giroux is a working writer out of the Boston area. He is a member of the Endicott Review editorial team and was copy editor for Blending newsletter and magazine out of Florence, Italy. He has been featured in the “Urban Jackalope” exhibition with two pieces of short fiction, and has been published in Kerouac’s Dog Magazine, Clockwise Cat, and the “Lyrical Somerville” column of The Somerville News. Kyle is currently finishing a bachelor of arts degree in Creative Writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.




Scarf
Justin Jannise

A naked neck's a waste
of scarf real estate.
Windows dark for years outlast
the last potential tenant
running scared from old graffiti,
doorways beaded with sweat
and the rest.
Fear gets a bad rap
for what it prevents:
empty houses, cold dreams.

Justin Jannise is a poet and journalist living in New York City.




Fairy-Tale
Bryana Johnson

Suppose they really did live happily ever after.
Suppose Cinderella was a good wife—and she
could have been. I daresay she was reticent,
timid, not one to make a fuss, or rock the boat,
accustomed to orders and quiet in company.
Suppose he was a good husband, the haughty
prince, coddled from the cradle up. He might have
pulled it off. He was in love after all, and love
covers a multitude of offenses. Perhaps it
wrapped up her social poverty and rough edges
and lack of table manners in velvet and
smoothed everything over like varnish and the
royal lovebirds got along just fine after all.
Suppose that Belle forgot the beast-horns, the
stamped image of his face framed with fur.
Suppose she one day wrapped around his
neck and felt only man-flesh there. Suppose
Snow White stopped having nightmares about
old women peddling apples, hook-nosed, cloaked,
warted and long-fingered on her doorstep in the dusk.
Suppose her prince one day learned to sleep the
nights through, his fingers in her hair, no fear of
jerking eyes wide to her screaming.

Bryana is a homeschool graduate who was classically educated using the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. Her many interests include political science, educational theory, poetry, art, music and literature. She is thrilled by language and the flow of words. Bryana has placed in multiple poetry contests and most recently won the grand prize in the Utmost Christian Writers’ Novice Contest. She writes about literature and current events over at www.thehightide.com.




Ululations
Lizi Gilad

Israel: the wailing, the wall. Bronze-topped mosques, lupine
in the hills and pebbles piled on graves. Crinkled paper
prayers tucked in holes. Everywhere a prayer, everywhere a hole.

She is seventeen and socialist for one month, a new Kibbutznik.
Labor in exchange for a cot with metal knots. She stands
at the conveyor belt, hip to hip with other women, slicing

tresses off carrot heads, glad for a shower at shift’s end, glad
to nudge another day down the drain. A lizard carcass decays
on her windowsill. She leaves it there to watch this ancient calendar

track time from flesh to bones of fingernail clippings. Evenings
she spends with a young soldier whose skin smells like smoke
and zahtar. In an empty classroom, they sit face to face

on kid-sized chairs and slowly pronounce words in English.
Alarm clock. Breakfast. Break. Fast. He tastes America on his tongue
and so does not kiss her, no not once, not even the night

they sneak into a bomb shelter. In the dark she sees nothing
except for his eyes and his teeth, bright as bones. They hold hands
and whisper in the thick, bomb-proof air.

Lizi Gilad is working toward completion of her first manuscript. She lives in Southern California where she blogs about poetry and chronic illness at www.lizislifelines.wordpress.com. She has a poem forthcoming in Poetica Magazine. She also has a husband, a daughter, and a melancholy dog.




Burial
Corey Hutchins

dark clothes quietly file into cars
glide for an hour across small roads
heaviness settling in my chest
my legs can barely hold me up
step out of the car onto dirt paths
trying not to break down
eyes glazed
wordlessly follow the pastor
struggle to hold myself up
on the arm of a man who would have been family
fixate on the box of ashes
that belong to the man who would have been my husband
try to forget it hurts to breathe
watch his father tuck him into the ground
collapse
scream to be buried there
beside my lieutenant with laughing eyes

Corey Hutchins completed her Master’s degree in Renaissance Literature at the University of Edinburgh. Her thesis, Weeping Widows and Warrior Women: A Feminist Reading of Shakespeare’s First Tetralogy, is published by Dissertation.com and her poetry has appeared in various journals. She currently works as a technical writer and social media manager. In her free time, she volunteers at the Red Cross and teaches a citizenship class for refugees. Her service and work are dedicated to her late fiancé, 2nd Lt. Geoff Street, USAF.




of babies and bath water
Joshua Clark Orkin

it was night when i went soft
on a beautiful girl and i could
explain the circumstances or
the contents of my head but aside
from scant secret pockets
of sympathy there isn't much room
for understanding and the blow
struck so greatly as i walked
that i stumbled
and in spite of myself laughed
at the absurdity of it all being able
to hold such shame in the light
of the beauty in this world where the sky
is vast and i still have the strength
to put foot before foot and where strangely
the sun keeps returning.

Joshua Clark Orkin is a tiny, cloven-hoofed demon. He lives in your childhood, where he enjoys watching you sleep, harvesting your dreams, and hiding when your parents come to check on you. He thanks you sincerely for reading.







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