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Blue Horses
Melissa Palmer

Blue horses were framed on
The wall above her bed.
Last night, she dreamt
She was in the picture,
Where the sky was wide
And the horses ran free.
She was riding bareback
On a swift, blue mare
Through sunset blazed fields,
Heading toward the crimson hills.
She had long flowing hair
That blew in the breeze,
Instead of a scalp laid bare
By chemo and radiation.
She felt free and alive,
Riding toward a place
That felt like home,
A place without pain,
But when she woke up,
The tubes were still there,
And the distant sound
Of nurses chatting
Replaced the wind in her ears.

Melissa Palmer

I’m in love with
The boy next door!
I heard him play
The piano today,
Under his open window
When mama and I walked by.
Such beautiful notes!
I told her I wanted
To dance in the street.
She was horrified!
Proper young ladies
Must never do that.
She said she would
Invite him to dinner soon.
I saw him peeking through
The curtains as we
Passed through our gate,
But I pretended not to notice.
Mama said we must tune
Our piano in the parlor,
And perhaps he will
Play for us after dinner.
I just smiled and
Thought to myself…
I will dance in the hallway
Where no one will see,
Listening through the wall.

Melissa grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska, where the long, dark winters sparked her imagination and flights of fancy. She began writing poetry at age 10. She considers herself a "West Coast Girl", having lived in several states west of the Rockies. She is currently a resident of sunny California.

Richard Schnap

I often see her walking
With her crown of grey hair
Pushing a baby carriage
With someone else’s child

She’s been doing it daily
For almost thirty years
The only occupation
She’s ever really known

But I remember when
She told me of her miscarriage
And how the doctors said
She’d never conceive again

And I wonder if at times
She pretends that they’re hers
The little lives she cares for
She can rent but never own

Richard Schnap

It’s not always the big events that matter the most
Sometimes you think of the little things,

The monogrammed lighter your ex-wife
Gave you for your birthday, the silver cross

You wore around your neck on the stage
Of the punk rock club, your father’s watch

That stopped working one night like a heart
That ceased beating with no warning at all,

All of them souvenirs from a journey
Through a barren blighted landscape,

A marriage that failed, a band that broke up,
A father that died before you could say goodbye.

And now you sit and wait for an ending
An unwritten conclusion to be set down

On a blank page with a cheap pen
That’s slowly running out of ink.

Richard Schnap

She kept a diary
In a secret code
As if she was a spy

On a secret mission
To discover whether love
Was an enemy or a friend

But when she learned
It was as duplicitous
As a double agent

She scrawled on a page
Love is sometimes a necklace
And sometimes a noose

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.

Of course you’re lonely,
you have no choice.
Dark mistakes, invisible triumphs,
now, only the hours are witness.
Today, the world,
like a foreign flag, unfurls.
There is no regiment, no company, no country.
You are a soldier without an army.
Silence, a cocoon of itself,
inches its way toward you.
The front lawn, groomed green,
smooth as a gaming table,
peeled back,
in flames.

Brad Rose was born and raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. He is a 2013 recipient of Camroc Press Review’s, Editor’s Favorite Poetry Award and the 2014 winner of unFold Magazine’s "FIVE (5) Contest" for his found poem "Signs of Reincarnation at Le Parker Meridien Hotel, NY, NY." Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Times; Boston Literary Magazine; The Baltimore Review; San Pedro River Review; Off the Coast; Third Wednesday; Right Hand Pointing; The Potomac; Santa Fe Literary Review; The Common Line Journal; The Midwest Quarterly; The Molotov Cocktail; Sleetmagazine; Monkeybicycle; Camroc Press Review; MadHat Lit; Burning Word, and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at: bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com including his chapbook of miniature fiction, Coyotes Circle the Party Store, bradroserhpchapbook. Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard at: soundcloud.com/bradrose1.

The other side
Richard Fox

working behind the market counter
        cleaned fish as each customer instructed
scraped excess skin, innards into a crate
        by request, took trips to the cooler
selected a fillet as fresh as the case
        presented each side under pink lights
they nodded, smiled at this privilege
        weight approved, I slapped fish into tray
wrapped with newsprint, strip of tape to seal
price in black marker, my numbers on a packet

I stand in the mourner's waiting line
        people crowd around my family
say excuse me as they jostle for position
        each with words fragile as sea foam
I render replies to relieve each lamenter
        file retorts my fancy frames
wrap proffered palms with two hands
        hug to seal the transaction
before chapel, they sign names in black ink
address and phone, no errors in accounting

fil de téléphone
for Melvin Fox (1923-2014)
Richard Fox

I hear Dad's voice the last time
walking Crypte Archeologique de Notre-Dame
        remnants of the Roman Empire buried
        in rubble under the cathedral

walls, scorned by centuries, broken but vain,
intricate archways over stone paths evidence
        vitality, ambition, vernal faith
        in the immortality of majesty

Dad hails me with an emphatic HELLO!
asking about Paris, his words stray and sag
        but he says I love you, I'm proud of you
        solid and enduring as granite

Richard H. Fox was born and bred in Worcester MA. He attended Webster University, as much artist colony as college, in the early 1970's. These diverse cultures shaped his world view and love of words. He is a former President of Poetry Oasis, Inc., a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education and promoting local poets, and was Managing Editor of its journal Diner. Richard has been published in numerous journals including Above Place, Boston Literary Magazine, OVS, Poetry Quarterly, Sahara, Midstream Magazine, and The Worcester Review. Many of his poems focus on cancer from the patient's point of view drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. His book Time Bomb was published in 2013. Richard seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester are "provoked to poetry."

Michael Keshigian

He stood there,
staring back at me,
odd expression upon his face,
smiling after I did
from the other side
of a huge pane window
on the newly renovated office building,
appearing a bit more disheveled
than I remembered.
More wrinkles
supported his grimace
and receding hairline,
acknowledging me
when I nodded hello.
I use to know him well,
athletic, sculpted, artistic,
a well defined physique,
but his apparent paunch
negated any recent activity.
This window man
I thought I knew,
musician, writer, runner, dreamer,
now feasted off the stale menu
of advancing age,
aches, excuses, laziness,
failing eyesight and an appetite
for attained rights
decades seem to imply.
Yet I accepted him,
embraced him for who he was,
aware that he would be the lone soul
to accompany me
toward the tunnel’s light
when all others have drawn the blinds.
“Walk with me,” I say.
He stays close.

Michael Keshigian’s published poetry books include: Eagle’s Perch, Wildflowers, Jazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace, Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. He is a 5- 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, also performed in Boston and Moleto, Italy. Winter Moon, a poem set for Soprano and Piano, premiered in last fall (2013) in Boston. michaelkeshigian.com.

Ed Severson

Amy walked out forever,
then returned
to crawl toward the bed
on her knees, head bowed.

"You're back?" Austin said.
"Contact lens," she said, patting
the worn, yard-sale
Turkish prayer rug

She checked the top of
her bedside table, the cover
of her paperback copy
of The Joy Luck Club.

On his knees with a flashlight,
Austin went over the rug she'd just done.
The beam revealed a tiny glitter.
"Thanks," she said.

As Amy replaced her lens,
Austin ever so gingerly
Coaxed her, by inches, back up
into bed beside him.

Ed Severson served four years in the U.S. Navy, earned a degree in English from the University of Arizona and spent twenty years as a reporter and columnist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. In retirement, he has written many poems and published many poems and has published a few in obscure magazine.

Mrs. O’Reily
Douglas Polk

Mrs. O'Reily would whistle in church,
though not intentionally, we children would delight in listening to her pray or sing,
communicating our amusement to each other,
with smiles or the roll of our eyes,
don't know if Dad ever knew or found out,
but often wondered after the move,
across the aisle and five pews back,
Mrs. O'Reily's whistle then drowned in a sea of voices,
and Sunday Mass evolved from a delight to a downright bore.

Douglas Polk is a poet living in the wilds of central Nebraska with his wife and two boys, two dogs and four cats. Polk has had over 500 poems published in over 100 publications within the last four years.

In the Clearing
Steve Klepetar

We pulled up to the trailer in the woods
north of Tony, our breath white and thick,
temperature heading down toward thirty
below, six motorcycles along a gravel
drive, moon full and glistening in the sky,
wafer of ice, edges smooth and sharp.
George shook his head, “No, no, this is no
good. Run…” and lumbered into the woods.
We laughed and called his name until
we got too cold, figured he’d come back
soon and if he didn’t, well his choice
to freeze. We couldn’t stay at the party
thinking of George in the killing cold, cursing
his pranks, his idiocy, his great, red beard.
As we drove slowly toward town, there
he was, stumbling at the edge of the woods
by the side of the road, frost covered
like some giant out of Norse myth.
Eyes shining, he said
“Had to get away from those bikers, man—
crashed into a clearing and there were two
horses, one white, one black, just stamping
slowly in the cold, nickering.
There was joy in their eyes, like cold starlight.
Peaceful and intense—
I felt no cold, just pleasure in their company
and then I pushed out onto the road and there
you were.” There we were, floating on his lies
again, watching water drip from his massive beard.

Random Harmony
Steve Klepetar

When he played, and sang
in that golden baritone

in the living room where we sat
adding our beery voices

in a sort of random harmony
we felt good, glowing and rich

in his enormous presence
as if we each mattered more

because he was there, laughing
at our jokes, granting us

nicknames as though we
were the ones who had tramped

along blue veins of road, incising
songs on the insides of our forearms.

But sometimes I could see burning
behind his eyes, how our need left him

smoking, hollowed out, an old man
diminished at a bar, nursing his watery draft.

Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Three collections appeared in 2013: Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2>publishing), and My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press). An e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein, came out in 2014 as part of the Barometric Pressures series of e-chapbooks by Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Post-Valentine’s Day Roses
Laura Lovic-Lindsay

They contrive to twist backwards on stems
That lost all flex,
Try to face the wall instead
Made to suffer indignity—
Standing unchosen

Ashamed, they huddle together in their crime.
A bright red 70%-off sign
Hangs around their necks.
Some bow, tucking their chins.

Scarred petals draw in on themselves,
Like an arthritic gnarl.
Some crust under in a curl,
Browning over whatever color
They must once have flaunted.

I wipe the shelf free of fallen bits
turn them face-front.

"You are all beautiful,"
I whisper.

Laura Lovic-Lindsay received her BA in English from Penn State University in 1993 and did nothing whatsoever with it until her brother issued her a challenge to try creative writing. She was the grateful recipient of the PennWriters Conference Poetry award in 2014, and has had numerous short stories and poems published. She resides in Western Pennsylvania where she finds the darkening days are perfect for more melancholic poems and tales.

Sam Rapth

I still remember
the day
I dumped my class mate...

He left
with his head down...

I got away with it
I was strong and
he was weak...

I thought
nothing will happen to me...

I never knew,
I would carry this guilt
deep within me
till this moment,
I confess it
as a poem here...

Sam Rapth works as a computer engineer in Atlanta , Georgia. He has written several poems, short fiction and novels in familiar print magazines that reaches a million in India and is a proud author of two novels, in Tamil. His works in English have appeared in Inclement Poetry Magazine , Static Movement Zine , The Recusant Magazine , The Mad Swirl Magazine , The Tongue Magazine , The Yellow Mama Magazine , The Ascent Aspirations Magazine , The Poetry Pacific Magazine , The Literary Yard Magazine, The International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies (IJHCS) ISSN 2356-5926 , The GALAXY: International Multidisciplinary Research Journal (GIMRJ) ISSN 2278-9529 and The Boston Literary Magazine. He is reluctant to identify himself but prefers to hide behind his pen name, Sam Rapth.

On the Run
Alan D. Harris

Our Indian guide
an experienced tracker
led our party across the desert
hot on the trail

of an ageing desperado

until we came upon
a discarded gait belt
an empty bottle of Celebrex
and a four-pronged quad-cane
with worn-down rubber tips

but there was no sign
of the outlaw on the run
he who had escaped in broad daylight
from the nursing home
by walking out the front door

we finally sent the posse home
and noted in the police report
that the suspect had avoided capture
with the help of his grandson's
awaiting El Camino

although fellow bandits and other patients
believers all in folklore and fate
share weekly whispers
of how he had simply waited
for his turn to fade away

Alan D. Harris writes short stories, plays, and poetry based primarily upon the life-stories of friends, family and total strangers. Harris is the 2011 recipient of the Stephen H. Tudor Scholarship in Creative Writing and the 2014 John Clare Poetry Prize winner from Wayne State University. In addition he is the father of seven, grandfather of six, and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

for this, the funeral director
said. Many don’t.
But I stayed and I helped
move her body from the bed
and onto the portable gurney.

I saw the black bag
being zipped closed.
I watched as the gurney
was wheeled
beyond the threshold of the front door
and into the night,

and I wondered what Alice’s sister
thought when Alice
chased after that white rabbit
with pink eyes and disappeared
down a dark hole under the hedge.

Terry Allen lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and is an Emeritus Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he taught acting, directing and playwriting. He directed well over a hundred plays during his thirty-eight years of teaching. A few favorites include: Candide, Macbeth, Death of a Salesman, and The Threepenny Opera.

Food Stamps
S. Babin

not monopoly money, but paper dollars
        much like monopoly money
they’re phony looking with rainbow hues
        much like skittles, if skittles
were paper bills with numbers instead of S’s

but they worked at the store (most of the time)
        and they had special powers too
for instance, could make cheeks flush with red
        when you ran into old neighbors in line

sometimes I’d steal them, stuff them in my wallet
        to let other parents know not to
let their kids come over to my house on weekends
        especially not for dinner

Kiss Attack
(From a Hot Girl)

S. Babin

Your wet lips jumped at my dry lips,
pressed hard into an open mouthed kiss;
wide mouth opener cranked my jaw,
unlocked and unhinged it until you
entered with your short slimy tongue,
found and explored my tongue.

Do you remember?

You jumped on top of me, like a
cannon ball splashing in a pool,
pounced right into my lap with your pussy
cat t-shirt. I almost fell from my chair.
Grabbed both my cheeks,
squished them together so tight,
I felt like a bulldog—all wrinkly faced.

Do you remember?

I even pushed you away at first—
what can I say, I’d never been kiss attacked
by a sexy hot blonde. Didn’t know these
things happened to insecure 16 year-old
burgeoning alcoholics (still 9 years away from
rehab). When I realized you
were into me, and on me, and
holy shit how sweet. It was probably
too late, you already felt rejected.

Steven holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from the Ohio State University, and a Law Degree from the University of Pennsylvania. One in each hand. He carries them everywhere. Steven lives with his family, and works in Columbus, Ohio. His work will be featured in Spark: A Creative Anthology; After the Pause; Rust & Nail; 34th Parallel; Bop Dead City; Decades Review and Star 82 Review.

Laura Rodley

The coyote’s yipping enters
doorways I did not know I had,
slinging open windows shut tight
against the cold, the shiver of fear,
they’re so close while I walk my dog
must get home fast, shiver of maybe
I’ll see one, circling with my flashlight
yipping, then barking like a dog
to the left though no one here owns one
the same coyote that barked this past winter,
barking, waiting for me and Tyndall to go inside
so he could pad the road we stood on,
so quickly he passed, that even before
I could return outside
his left his prints a single file line
in the snow.

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.

There were things I didn't really like,
we are going to discuss this as a staff
and now is not the time to discuss it.
We haven't really made any decisions.
We really want to put our heads together,

discuss it first, to be honest with you,
get together as coaching staff and talk about it.
We are certainly going to talk about it
but I don't really have any final information
on it yet. We haven't discussed it.

It will be something we discuss.
We need to put our heads together
as a staff and sit down and talk,
and I am sure by my press conference tomorrow,
I'll have more information for you.

I am not ducking anything right now.
We need to sit down and talk;
there's no question about that.
It is a very legitimate question
but I just don't have an answer, but I will.

Well, I am not trying to avoid these questions,
like I said, we are going to put our heads together
and we'll talk with him. We will talk with the staff
and try to figure out if there is something going on
that maybe is being camouflaged, maybe is, maybe isn't.
I don't want to get carried away
at this press conference.

a found poem from the post-game MLB press conference 10-13-12
Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers manager discussing José Valverde

R Jay Slais lives in Washington, Michigan. His publications include poems at Blue Fifth Review, Boston Literary Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, Poets/Artists, and Press 53, 53 Word Story winner. He has had two Sundresses Best of the Net nominations and is the author of a chapbook, Mice Verses Man, (2010 Big Table Publishing).

Larry W. Allen

I'm really not tuning you out.
Scientists say their tests show
males respond to lower voices.
Like back in the cave
if we heard a simian grunt
we could reach for a club.

But males don't respond well
to higher voices.
Like we are thinking we can
deal with all that later.

So I am really not ignoring you, honey,
it's genetic.
O.K. Honey?

Check Out Line
Larry W. Allen

They reach out from the grocery aisle
in gaunt starvation,
like concentration camp victims
shuffling toward the crematorium.

These are Hollywood stars
teaching little girls how they should look.
They stare out at us from the tabloids,
bones protruding in every direction.

Next week they will have new boyfriends
and feel better about themselves.

Flying Dragons
Larry W. Allen

We are left with footprints and bones,
visions of lumbering lizards,
bad breath and big teeth.

Later we learn they laid eggs,
building elaborate nests
to guard with fierce determination.

They may have even been birds
with bright feathers and sharp claws,
soaring overhead like Rodan.

Man was not around in those days
to dodge the huge droppings...

But Oh for the morning song!

Larry W. Allen has had works published in Main Street Rag, Well Versed, Mid-America Poetry Review and Military Images Magazine, to name a few. His book Do Come In And Other Lizzie Borden Poems was published by Pear Tree Press. Larry is a retired Probation and Parole officer. He lives in Columbia Missouri.

Doug Holder

They always will
intimidate you.
Even in your sixth decade—
Those judgmental Barbies
blonde, blue-eyed
roll their eyes
and do a clandestine text
and yet
you still try to
win them over—

your beard
white with regret
but you don't forget
the pain
and their pert disdain
in some ancient high school hall,
that pecking order
you clad in polyester
and body odor.

Oh but you
are older
you teach with
glasses perched
on the edge of your nose
your class
and you
in both your
morning pose.

But you can't
bullshit the blonde
she knows.

Doug Holder teaches creative writing and composition at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, and Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. For the last 30 years he has run poetry groups at McLean Hospital for psych. patients. His work has appeared in Blue Fifth, Constellations, spoke, Endicott Review, and many others.

Not Alone
Krystyna Fedosejevs

Clear skies show no hint of
the night that was.
Snow driven by blustery winds
nestles in pristine mounds.

I leave our house, skis and poles in hand,
while you watch TV sports. Your body
weighing down the couch.

Alongside a meandering creek
I mark my cross-country trail.
Through a boreal forest, where in
summer whitish clay defines its edge
of scaling heights and dipping valleys.
Where we stroll, arm in arm,
talk about anything that comes to mind.
Gaze into each other’s eyes as if
we have only met.

I ask you why you prefer
a sedentary winter lifestyle.
The cat goes out in all weather. So do I.
It isn’t the weather you tell me.

Forest sounds echo in grunts and whispers.
The tapping of pileated woodpeckers,
soft prancing of a doe and her fawn.
I’m not alone.

When afternoon takes on early evening hues,
I turn my skis around and head home.

I'll return knowing you’ll be there.
Waiting for me, with the kettle ready
to brew our favourite tea. To sip
together and converse.

I am not alone.

Krystyna Fedosejevs writes poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. Her recent work has been published at: Nailpolish Stories, 50-Word Stories, 100 word story, From the Depths (Haunted Waters Press), ShortbreadStories and espresso stories. Several poems and 'post cards' have appeared in journals. She won a poetry contest in 2011 (Alberta Wilderness Association) and was one of eight poetry winners in another, 2011. Her nonfiction appeared in flash fiction chronicles and in Wild Lands Advocate. Krystyna resides in Alberta, Canada.

Dear John
Michael C. Keith

Remember the tequila party on Cypress
and your locked bedroom door?
Your lust within and they besides,
taking both and faking otherwise.
Do betrayals fade or become more
acute with the passage of time?
What think you, old friend of mine?
Do you still gorge on opportunity?
She fed on unconscious souls, too.
And just who was that prop boy
with his pants pulled down for show?
Was he playing a role you devised,
a diversion for my suspicious eyes?

Michael C. Keith is the author of more than 20 books on electronic media, among them Talking Radio, Voices in the Purple Haze, Radio Cultures, Signals in the Air, and the classic textbook The Radio Station (now Keith’s Radio Station). The recipient of numerous awards in the academic field, he is also the author of dozens of articles and short stories and has served in a variety of editorial positions. In addition, he is the author of an acclaimed memoir—The Next Better Place (screenplay co-written with Cetywa Powell), a young adult novel—Life is Falling Sideways, and eight story collections—Of Night and Light, Everything is Epic, Sad Boy, And Through the Trembling Air, Hoag’s Object, The Collector of Tears, If Things Were Made To Last Forever, and The Near Enough. He has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a PEN/O.Henry Award and was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award for short fiction anthology and a finalist for the 2013 International Book Award in the “Fiction Visionary” category. www.michaelckeith.com

Kim Drew Wright

The girl’s mom let Jason out at the curb.
His first official date, Nacho Night at a youth group, over.
“How was it,” I asked, wiping dried cheese off his white button-up.
He batted my hand away, grabbed an applesauce from the pantry.
“The preacher talked about it. He said God made sex and it was good.”
“The preacher said that?”
“Yah. God told John that sex was good.”
“John the Baptist?”
“I don’t know. God told everybody sex was good.”
“I thought it was supposed to be Nacho Night.”
“We played trivia to get our nachos. Dolphins have sex for fun.
Most giraffes are bisexual because they have teeny brains.”
“I could of went without knowing that.”
He shrugged.
“God, Jason, weren’t you embarrassed?”
“A little when the film started.”
“What’d you do?”
“We ate nachos.”
“I’m not sure you’re seeing this girl again.”
“Because she invites you to sex lessons at church.”
“I really like that church. It was fun.”

I told him to finish his applesauce and go to bed. Frankly,
I’ll never look at giraffes the same again.

Kim Drew Wright has fiction and poetry in several literary journals, including, The Pinch, Ascent Aspirations, and The Milo Review. She graduated from the University of North Carolina and had an advertising career. While currently residing in Richmond, Virginia, she has lived in seven states in the Midwest, South, and East Coast. Three children, two crazy Westies, and a husband occupy Kim's time when she is not scribbling furiously at her desk or paddleboarding the James River. A book of linked short stories, Signals, and a poetry collection, Lady Sawed In Half, are in progress. Keep connected with Kim at kimdrewwright.wix.com/kimdrewwright.

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