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The Ride
Julianna Edel

It's a long road
A very, very long road
But I will take the ride.

God is in the driver's seat
I have no control,
But I will take the ride.

It may hurt
the ground may tremble.
My own body might fight against me.

But all is not lost.

But all is not lost.

For there is good.
A light, a bright one, at the end.
And I will glow.

I wish this never happened.
But I am stronger.

So,
However long,
I will take the ride.

In September of 2012, 11-year old Julianna Edel was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. Her battle was courageous and brutal, but brief, and one year later she said goodbye to her loving family.





In September when you are twelve
thoughts should be of beginnings
of returning to school
of soccer practice and violin lessons
of new dresses and laughter with friends.

In September when you are twelve
the sun should warm your face
and the breeze blow through your hair.

In September when you are twelve
there should be sleepy dreams
about the magic of tomorrow
growing in your soul.

But this September when you are twelve
what grows inside is not a dream
but a nightmare
and sleep is just a sad hint
of what is coming soon.

No sun can warm you now
nor remove the cold hand
from your bones.
And no breeze can shake the hair
that your medicines have robbed.

The only new dress
shall be worn
for a different return.

Stephen Barry is a lawyer, dad, and Fly fisherman living in the Hudson Valley of New York. His poetry has appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and Big River Poetry Review, among others. He is also a weekly regular on WorldPoetryOpenMic broadcast on KZKO radio in Denver.



11:33
Ellis Perez

I was lying in bed about to fall asleep
When I saw a spider crawl out
Of the pinecones on my windowsill
And I spent 20 minutes
Watching this spider travel
In the same semicircle
Because spiders do not feel or plan or motivate
They just exist
And that makes me both
Really happy
And devastatingly sad.

Jonathan
Ellis Perez

I knew this boy once
Who liked taking pictures of the snow
But didnít like to play in it
And I knew
I had met the saddest person
On this earth.

Ellis is a queer 17 year old living in a charming cookie cutter suburb in Minnesota. He spends his time writing, reading, and proving that one can never have too many books or too much black licorice.





A spring mounted bell rings high on
the liquor store door. Thin in gray
stubble and faded, frayed jeans he
gingerly hobbles, fresh Social Security
check in hand, puts a cold Coors 12
pack and a half-gallon of EJ brandy
on the counter, head shimmies in time
with his check. The bell rings again. He
grips the galvanized rail polished by
countless hands of drunks thankful down
seven stairs to Main Street, teeters to his
beat up blue and white Blazer, makes a
U-turn and drives south out of town, then
west up the red dirt road to the reservoir
trailing a dust plume; casts a hot chartreuse
garlic marshmallow tipped with a night crawler,
swallows a mouthful of brandy, cracks open a
Coors, hums his own tune at moon rising over
creamsicle turquoise ochre tinged sunset.

Oleh Lysiak is author of Art, Crime & Lithium, Barely Inside The Lines, Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid In The American Zoo, Scars In Progress, Geezer Rumba.




Hoarding Life
Michael Keshigian

His home was full of collectibles,
paintings, books, crafts,
possessing various degrees
of monetary worth and desirability,
yet what he cherished most
were items of menial worth
but considerable sentimentality,
items that pulled him back in time,
a large coffee can
he painted green
for his three year old son gathering rocks,
elementary songbooks,
a dilapidated grandfatherís rocking chair,
springs so rusty
they would snap if weighted upon,
the old Dobermanís chew toy,
his fatherís tools.
All buildup
from previous generations
he hopes his children
will have the courage to discard
as he did, devoid of thought,
with his mother-in-lawís mementos
when his wife
was lost in remembrance,
grasping old photographs
and birthday cards
she once sent with their childrenís
infant signatures attached.

Michael Keshigianís poetry collection, Eagleís Perch, was recently released by Bellowing Ark Press. Other published books: Wildflowers, Jazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace, Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. He is a 3- time Pushcart Prize and 2-time Best Of The Net nominee. His poetry cycle, Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, premiered at Del Mar College in Texas. Subsequent performances occurred in Boston and Moleto, Italy. michaelkeshigian.com




Dead Hour Song
Mark Blaeuer

At night I remember all
the people Iíve unintentionally wounded over
a lifetime and echo a gifted guitarist:
ďJohn Fahey has rocketed to world wide
obscurity through a little known Hindoo mystical
practice called Punya Go (the offensive way).Ē
As a musician, though I can play ďTurkey in the StrawĒ
on jaw harp and ďFool on the HillĒ
on recorder, Iíd only qualify tangentially.
And thatís boasting. The real need: how to strum
forgiveness, where to fret for healing,
as my fingers are adept at almighty regret.
Transcendence? Three forsaken oíclock, too late
to blast the liver, too early to rouse the stained percolator.
I get out a cereal bowl and mix
honey into peanut butter, swirling and swirling
with a table knife. Undo the twist-tie,
steal a couple of bread slices.
Fat head, so fat belly: I can hear the chorus now.

Mark Blaeuer grew up across the Mississippi from St. Louis and got his initial degree from Illinois College. Having also received an M.A. from the University of Arkansas, he now resides near Hot Springs. An erstwhile anthropologist and park ranger, he currently investigates and writes baseball history as a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. His own poems and his translations of Spanish-language poems have appeared in sixty-plus literary journals, including Slant, Re:AL, Ezra, Verse Wisconsin, and The Centrifugal Eye.




Open the Door
Jay Sims

Open the door and let yourself back in—
The girl you evicted for having a broken heart.
Open the door to your prison full of ghosts;
Let them mingle in your new world order.
Invite them to a sleepover;
Make quaint party pastries,
Have a sing-along.
Play, oh play awhile!
Climb the vacant drive-in screen
And blow the dust from young loveís altar.
Let your hair get tossed in a world without extra hold spray,
Your cakeup smear from the sweat of freedomís run.
Straddle the drunken hubby once more;
Make him a baby, rock him to sleep.
Taste some blood,
Bathe in tears
Dance barefoot on
Broken dreams.
Open the door-surely you see it!
Open the door-you can borrow my key!
Open the door, Iíll not knock again.

Jay Sims is a writer and music instructor living in Ontario Canada. He currently writes for the blogosphere, operating a well trafficked page which features writings from his memoir "Letters Home" (cleandrunk.blogspot.ca) His work has also been featured in Cactus Heart Magazine, as well as several local news publications. Jay is an avid reader of Leonard Cohen, John Keats and Anne Rice. Recently he was invited to cover a Leonard Cohen performance for The Ridgetown Independent News.





I speak of right and wrong with an ease unearned
by the stain of another manís blood turned black
beneath cracked and yellow fingernails. I have no
marching through mud, no shielding my face
from sand and sun and the burden of dropping bodies

from my shoulder like one woven red sack of grain
after another. I even lack memories at the knee
of a salt-and-pepper man who stops to refill the smolder
in his pipe and hearing him turn quiet as the room fills
with the heavy scent of cherry tobacco.

I do have Dale, the codger who kept my rusty Valiant
running so I could burn rubber every afternoon.
I have his marble-mouthed stories of killing Japs
bare-handed and the shame he felt in his pride. I have
Brad, my ex-wifeís ex-husband, shot dead after Vietnam

and Agent Orange and taking the police chief hostage with a knife
for poisoning his daughters through the schoolís drinking fountains.
I also have Rob, my youngest step-brother. I begged him
not to run off and join the Army the minute he finished high school.
But he so loved the uniform.

Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and an active member of Albany Civic Theater. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow, and Verse Wisconsin.





Grandfather was a chemist but the science
gene died with him in the Maine woods.

Hiker, archer, fisherman, consummate
outdoorsman, but still always a chemist

pursuing the central science. I see
him white coated with his test tubes

exploring the essential secrets
of the universe, matterís mysteries

how atoms meet and dance and bond
in shapely mathematical precision.

I canít fathom such formidable beauty
canít grasp the fundamental knowledge

he held so easily. Did he see molecules
in dreams, devise arcane reactions as he

walked from home to lab, from lab to home?
Samuel Stockton Voorhees—I look in vain

for some suggestion of his sibilant name
in the periodic table. But never mind.

When he was young, Iím told, he saved a man
from drowning in the Johnstown Flood

no doubt analyzing the murky mixture
of flood water and debris as he dove in.

Sally Zakariyaís poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently Third Wednesday, Evening Street Review, Theodate, and Southern Womenís Review. She is the author of Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses from late in life (2011), both published by Richer Resources Publications. Sally lives in Arlington, Virginia, and blogs at www.ButDoesItRhyme.com.




First
Peggy Trojan

New Year's Eve
nine days before I was twelve
Tommy, visiting next door
came to visit me, baby sitting.
At midnight
he sat on the arm of the chair
and leaned to kiss me.
That's all.
No embrace,
no meaningless words.
Nearly seventy years later
I remember our surprise,
the silence,
how warm his lips were
and how soft.

Company for Dinner
Peggy Trojan

Laila canít come
for dinner tonight
so I wonít be making
that pork loin
with the mint raspberry sauce.
Iíll heat up
some of the leftover
tuna casserole we had last night,
but I want you to know
I consider you
my guest.

Peggy Trojan lives in the north woods of Wisconsin in a house she and her husband built after retirement. Member of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Published in wide variety of anthologies and journals, includingEchoes, Verse Wisconsin, Wisconsin People and Ideas, Naugatuck River Review, Talking Stick, Dust and Fire, Golden Words, Ekphrastia Gone Wild, and others.




Wings
Laura Rodley

And where are you now, my kind friend?
Today is sunshiny and cold, the kind
of day for dragging in wood logs.
Remember when a little brown field mouse
hopped upon your stash of logs inside
your living room, and you, refusing bait,
trapped it with a shoebox,
took your captured friend to a farmerís
field, where he was mowing
the bottom of the field, shearing off corn stalks
in preparation for winter, and you asked
his permission to let your mouse,
sitting up and looking at you in its cage,
go in the field, and he answered yes,
taking you seriously, and how
you made sure to tell me
this story before you forgot you
hadnít told me it, laughter
in your tone, how could the farmer
have said no to you,
a tall winsome white haired
beauty with her age only showing
in her hands as she held up
the box, the mouse, to show him
her treasure, now released,
like you now, released into the
shorn corn fields of heaven,
where everyone has opened up
the doors of the cages and let everyone
and every creature go.

Rodley's work has won a Pushcart Prize, been nominated for a Pushcart three times, and four times for Best of the Net, published in Boston Literary Magazine, Hunger Mountain, Massachusetts Review, Best Indie Lit New England, among many others. Her chapbook, Rappelling Blue Light was nominated for Mass Book Award by publisher Finishing Line Press and won honorable mention in New England Poetry Society's Jean Pedrick Award. She is editor of As You Write It, a Franklin County Anthology, Volumes I to III, a compilation of seniors' memoirs.




A Former Student Finds Me On Facebook to Apologize
Norma Ketzis Bernstock

For Mike M.


He apologized for calling out, interrupting and disrupting
in class. But mostly he apologized for the last day before
summer vacation, how he found a box of balloons meant for
a class party, how he inflated them and popped them, enticed
others to follow his lead. He said it was the first intentionally
malicious act he had ever performed. He regretted the hurt
he caused or imagined he saw on my face that day. Forty-two
years have passed. No memory of that mischief lingers.

I remember a spirited twelve year old boy who charmed me
with his smile and gift of gab. I apologized to him for his years
of worry and remorse. I apologized for being a young, inexperienced
teacher. I apologized for everything I hadnít yet learned and for
everything I didnít know. Mostly, I apologized for putting thirty-five
balloons where a sixth grade boy and his cohorts could find them.
I apologized profusely for enabling that harmless prank.

Norma Ketzis Bernstock lives in Milford, Pennsylvania where she is a member of the Upper Delaware Writers Collective. Her poetry has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Caduceus, Connecticut River Review, Paterson Literary Review, Lips, the Stillwater Review and Voices From Here. Her chapbook entitled, Donít Write a Poem About Me After Iím Dead, was published by Big Table Publishing in 2011. Her previous achievements include a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and recognition in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards.




The Slugger
Doug Mathewson

He was a private person.
He liked to whistle, and told strange jokes.
Quiet by nature, he was painfully shy.
Just worked hard and kept to himself
People said that he looked like
baseball great ďJoltiní Joe DiMaggioĒ.
Poor dad was so embarrassed
when The Slugger married Marilyn Monroe.

Flu Season
Doug Mathewson

Used to be only Doctors gave out flu shots.
Then couple of years back pharmacies joined in.
Now seems you can go most anyplace to be inoculated.
A waitress gave my wife hers while she and the kids waited for pizza.
I got mine at the car wash. The girl who gave me the shot looked
like she knew about needles, in a spoon and candle kind of way.

Doug Mathewson writes some decent short fiction and some pretty average poetry from his home on Connecticutís eastern shore. He has been published by exceptionally kind people both here and abroad. Readers are welcome to rummage about in his online file cabinet at www.little2say.org. He is a member of Full of Crow Press and Distribution www.fullofcrow.com. His current secret project is called the Mambo Academy of Kitty Wang. Further information not available at this time, as it is a secret. He is the Senior Editor of Blink-Inkwww.blink-ink.com, the hottest in ripping edge ragged contemporary 50 word fiction. Also he is Planet Betty section editor for DK&BP at Pandemonium Press of Berkeley California.




A Baltimore Catechism
Stephen Barry

In a Brooklyn bar the woman stood
a big bluesy blonde from Baltimore
who spoke of sacred sin
and laughed flashing pearly whites
while pale blue eyes danced in the dim light
her ample hips swayed in time
to the music of Miles blowing soft on the jukebox
ďI have to enjoy the sinĒ she said
ďbecause I do so love forgivenessĒ.

Stephen Barry is a lawyer, dad, and Fly fisherman living in the Hudson Valley of New York. His poetry has appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and Big River Poetry Review, among others. He is also a weekly regular on WorldPoetryOpenMic broadcast on KZKO radio in Denver.




By the Time I Get to Ubatuba
A queer homage to Jimmy Webb set in Brazil

Edward D. Miller

By the time I get to Ubatuba
heíll be wobbling home from Clube A LŰca
tickled with himself because he danced all night.
Then heíll see that after our fight Iím gone.
Staring at the ceiling fan Ďtil morning
heíll plan his please please forgive me speech.

By the time I make it to Trindade
breakfast will be caipirinhas on the beach.
Iíll be crooning with stoned guitar-playing hipsters
while he reads and re-reads my note on the bed.
Heíll be crying tears while I am wobbling
to my pousada for a hammock nap.

By the time Iím in sweet ole Paraty
Iíll tire of the paralelepipedos
crowded with wobbling carriages and pooping horses.
Lingering at the cafť where we met
no doubt Iíll look out the doorway
and hope thatís him hungry for forgiveness.

After weíre back together in S„o Paulo,
hands glued together along the Frei Caneca,
we will march past that wicked hookup park.
Those fashion bichas and muscle barbies
wobbling from their cachaÁa will know
that they better keep their hands off my man.

Edward D. Miller was born in New York City and lives there now. He has travelled to Brazil a number of times, in part to see the homes of Elizabeth Bishop. His teenage years were spent in the Boston area—he used to hang out at The Rat, Cantones, the 1270, and Spit. Now he teaches film, media, and performance at the College of Staten Island and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His poetry appears online in Counterexample Poetics, The Wilderness House Literary Journal, and Hinchas de Poesia.


Oz
Robert N. Watson

A thousand years on, brushing off flakes of rust,
The Tin Man approaches the city walls.
He had had to watch Dorothy die
In the grip only of the tigers of time,
So long ago he recalls her songs
By now in his own voice only.
She just couldnít walk a step further.
She sat down and took off her shoes.
Can it have been that far through the forest?
Why in the world did they presume otherwise?
Follow the road, spiraling outward; follow
Your axe, then your nose. You get tired
Of the medal banging your chest, moldy straws
In the wind, the cat who died afraid
Of nothing—all gone like a sky-written script.
Did anyone really have to say, ďSurrenderĒ?
What could he do but push on, coughing like
A muffler, toward those ever higher towers?
He wears a poppy to remember where they slept,
And he is here—but doesnít want a heart,
Doesnít want to think about the sheer effort,
And why you make it, when you never quite
Make it anywhere except in the grainy
Re-run footage of your colorless home.

Robert N. Watson is the Neikirk Distinguished Professor of English at UCLA, and author of several books about English Renaissance literature. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker and a dozen other literary journals.




A Trifle
Keith Tornheim

Lying in my bed tonight,
I feel that I am weighted down
by a trifle—
        several servings of it—
chocolate cake, kahlua pudding and whipped cream
in layer upon layer upon layer
in a giant goblet at a birthday bash,
just crying out for excavation.
I thought that I must have my cake—
        and pudding and whipped cream
and eat it, too—
        and three and four.
And so I lie awake and contemplate
how trifling matters fill us up
and know I wouldnít have it
any other way—
        except perhaps with ice cream, too.

When it comes to matters of good taste,
I am a man to be trifled with.
Please.

Keith Tornheim is a biochemistry professor at Boston University School of Medicine. He was a co-winner of a Great Lakes College Association poetry contest in 1967 and is now a relapsed poet. His work has appeared in Ibbetson Street, Spare Change News, Lyrical Somerville (The Somerville News), Poetica and Muddy River Poetry Review. His poems have been a part of High Holiday and other services of his congregation (see www.shirhadash-ma.org/poetry.html). The inspiring trifle was made by daughter Kyla Mackay-Smith.




Blue
Richard Schnap

I can see her now
Bent over a line of coke
In the cramped, cluttered debris
Of her two room apartment

And I can hear the song
Of Joni Mitchell in the background
Playing over and over
Like the only one on earth

And I can remember her tears
As she talks of her motherís cancer
Her fatherís tragic suicide
Her failure to forget

And I can sadly wonder
When I learn that Joni Mitchell
Canít sing the way she used to
If anyone could take her place

Nazi
Richard Schnap

I didnít know him that well
Only that he worked downtown
In the county morgue doing something
I didnít want to know about.

He spent his free time
In cheap bars chugging quarter drafts
As if there was nothing better
That he could think of to do.

Then he told me he kept
A loaded Luger in his trunk
While he tried to decide if he should
Pick up a girl or beat up a fag.

But as the hours slurred past
He did neither and sank into silence
His eyes like broken windows
To a dead soul all too familiar.

Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.



In September
the first chill comes at night,
and the darkness lingers longer.
The leaves begin to tinge
and when they finally fall,
a blanket of gold they will make
to cover you
and warm you for your journey.

Stephen Barry is a lawyer, dad, and Fly fisherman living in the Hudson Valley of New York. His poetry has appeared in the Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge Literary Journal, and Big River Poetry Review, among others. He is also a weekly regular on WorldPoetryOpenMic broadcast on KZKO radio in Denver.







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