32 poets included are: Megan Merchant, Jen Karetnick, El Kamall, Ariyo Ahmad, Jennifer MacBain-stephens, Rich Boucher, Kristin Goth, Daniel Edward Moore, Jon Wesick, Martin Willitts Jr., Robert Fleming, Essama Chiba, Dipe Jola, Eamon O’Caoineachan, Eliana Vanessa, Strider Marcus Jones, Janis Harrington, Yash Seyedbagheri, David Skarupski, Lauren Scharhag, Heath Brougher, William Doreski, Alexis Rhone Fancher, David Cope, Kevin Ridgeway, John Drudge, Tanya Rakh, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Gemelene Magalona and JD Nelson



Megan Merchant
lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). Her latest book, Before the Fevered Snow, was released in April 2020 with Stillhouse Press. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review. You can find her work at  meganmerchant.wix.com/poet

art 1) sound wave sky

art 2) minor notes

art 3) Pandemic


sound wave skyminornotespandemic

Jen Karetnick’s
fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020). She is also the author of the collections Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. In addition, she is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including The Crossing Over (March 2019), winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded the 2020 Tiferet Writing Contest for Poetry Prize, the Hart Crane Memorial Prize, the Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, and two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prizes, among others. Her work appears recently or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain, Under a Warm Green Linden, and elsewhere. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, Jen is currently a Deering Estate Artist-in-Residence. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see jkaretnick.com.

Judge Judy Praise Sonnet

Praise the kerfuffle that brings us to this bench
Praise the disputes with first and last months’ rent
Praise the security held back for dents
apparitional in nature and intent

Praise the dog bite/neighbor fight litigants
Praise cars that collide without insurance
Praise for the double-speak from defendants
who delete the proof of one-sided rants

Praise the other lady/the other guy
Praise the geschichte   Praise for the geshry
Praise for the language that lives on the fly
internationally without codify

Praise for Her Honor who makes us her meal
Praise for the fire that forges us steel


The History of Reticella; Or Why Judge Judy Wears a Lace Collar in the Courtroom

     –and for RBG, RIP

She discovered the lace visiting Greece,
     where the threads were braided long
          before Venice claimed it as guipure,

               before the French renamed it point coupé,
     needled onto fabric that was then sliced
away to leave only this strict geometry,

punctuated by ellipses. Here was the little
     net she needed to catch her between
          the dark flesh of robe and mottled flash of neck.

               Male judges send signals with the way
     their heads sit in the constructed cartons of collars
and gravely knotted ties. This would be hers:

Diminutive doily of a woman, embroidered facts
     would be lost on her. How wrong they always are.
          Any real erosions are determined by editors,

               who stitch together the twin silks of outrage and betrayal
     like the feldspar and silica of an island, the roots left to tangle
underwater in no discernible pattern or resolve.


I Take a Mirror Selfie with Poison Apple, Then Cross-Post It

Felt cute // might delete later

Felt vexy // might delete later

Felt #wokeupthisway // might delete later

Felt #issagoodhairday // might delete later

Felt voice-activated // might delete later

Felt seen, felt queen, felt crown // might delete later

Felt the polish of your existence // might delete later

Felt filled by Red Deliciousness // might delete

Felt oil paint stain me like incrimination // might

Felt the glass stan me illumination // 

            After Fairest #2 by Carlos Rancano, with found phrases from Twitter


P Is for Pan(dem)ic, in Three Stages

            For Jon


P is for lips as purple as pansies.
P is for lungs, pulmonary potteries.
P is for physicians, front-line physiques.
P is for lips as purple as pansies.
P is for the stalled punctuations
of pumps and wingtips on subway platforms.
P is for lips as purple as pansies.
P is for lungs, pulmonary potteries.


P is for politics, compatriots.
P is for hoax, for prank, for not proof enough.
P is for zero mask over some pouts.
P is for politics, compatriots.
P is for the polyphonic viewpoint
that doesn’t want phobia to collapse the joint.
P is for politics, compatriots.
P is for hoax, for prank, for not proof enough.


P is for perpetual pestilence.
P is for the present of your presence.
P is for a piercing, plentiful corpus.
P is for perpetual pestilence.
P is for padding this planet’s bunker
with the privilege to be purely temporal.
P is for perpetual pestilence.
P is for the present of your presence.


I Give FOMO the News

            “How dreary – to be – Somebody!
            How public – like a Frog – “
                                    Emily Dickinson

After careful consideration of your performance,
I’ve decided to let you go. It’s not that you don’t
serve your purpose; in fact, you’ve made some real
strides—inroads, even—the way ice and rock salt
work all winter on the succulent skin of asphalt.
Ideas now sift through the gold pan of my brain,
too fine to stay. I no longer recognize my prints,
chewed as sugarcane. I don’t know hunger until
it’s pain and pain until the wound weeps the acid
of infection. I watch the dogs bury sapodillas that
they may not be alive to dig up. But I’m only going
to bald myself against your bark for so long.
If employment of you means that I must question
myself, then I abandon this grip, this pull, this climb.


EL Kamaal
is a poet and writer.


The List

     —for Chadwick Boseman

I have a list of green and greying names
Lusting for my social pronunciation
Until one, written in bold black ink and
Stamped beautiful with gold, slipped out of my page—
Into a blazing fire, quenched by
The imminent raindrops in the path to eternity—
To the broad, still and calm side of God.
I crooned, and still crooning to the hearing—
Keen hearing—of the dead—with my heart,
Heavy as eternity, lying still beneath this chest
Of sadness. Though the consequence of dying
Is eternity just as much of living is death,
The fire—in the name of the slipped name—
Burning within us is still largely burning within.
O time, how unconcerned, and cruel, and odd
You are—of my happiness and soused, red eyes.
Nevertheless, I pray—
For the intactness of the names remained
At the heart of my bleeding list: May God
Spare me Jericho Brown. May God
Spare me Denzel Washington. May God
Spare me Alex Dimitrov. May God
Spare me Chloe Honum. May God
Spare me Tadeusz Dabrowski. May God
Spare me The Khans. May God
Spare me you all who want me to be spared.
And may God spare me the resilience
To climb up the palisade of their attention—
Faster than the inevitable touch of death.


Smile. Just Smile. Smile.

Everyday passes out of our sight like the sprinter
Between this second and the next. So drink that wine
While your body can still hold drunkenness. Visit
That vintage fort only sleeping could reach.
Dream that dream. The bigger the better. Shoot
That shot, but do not expect! For expectation is nothing
But stepmother to frustration, conceiving both
Nervousness and the unbodied beds, yearning
The warmness oozing out of your worn-out body.

Everyday is bolder than those words you left unsaid.
So dance to the beautiful tunes of the beautiful times.
Embrace them, like the earth cuddles the rain: the
Sunless days, the moonless nights, and the asocial moon
Looking straight into your black eyes, immobile.
Embrace the stars and the firmament in which
Their lightness resides. Would you tell him today?
Please tell her that                                        I love you;
With your eyes enlarged like the spacious room
Sheltering the full moon—with your truth, naked as light.

And if you are so lucky, or so otherwise, to be told
Your longest night is nigh. To be told your longest night is
Approaching—fast approaching like the violent wind,
Just smile.                     Smile.                       Just smile.
This way, you paint the simplest bravery of this millennial
On the dry canvas of the hidden face of God.


To Imperfection

Every step we take is a footstep of disappearance
From the dichotomy of everything.
Who doesn’t crave the coolness of the rain
During the hottest summers, the petrichor
And the inimitable calmness, zooming out
Of the nocturnal moon? But during the sunrise
Of the darkness, hunting us away from the lonelier
Cottage of our body, sneaking us away
From the perimeter of our purest mind,
We make a soulful sound, I can’t and I won’t call it
A prayer, because prayer is what you gain
At the loss of everything else. And who wants us
More than anything if not ourselves, living in
Or outside our body? To us, chitchatting is not
An absence of solitude, nor silence and soliloquizing
The measurements for asocialness.
But what are the voices, yapping in the passageway
Of the silence, breathing in our throats and
The characters on the performing stage of our mouths
If not those as essential as water, if not those
As necessary as the ubiquitous air we breathe?



My sister sees me through thousand
Phases of my own shadow.

I am darker than my own body, darker
Than the hill with the slight touch of
The moonless night.

Question: what is me?
Or better still: what is a home eroded with
More silence
Than apt affirmations?

It only takes three words,
Three words to light the silent street
Of my feeling,
Three words, to say I am beautiful.

I don’t want to be restricted
To here only.
I want to be restricted to everywhere;
Everywhere except the small room
Of your dark, unsettling
Your mouth to wrecking what
Looks exactly like me.

I want to be here,
In this little hut, far from what
Can ever be called civilized,
And still be in the greater favor
Of your striking humanity.


Ariyo Ahmad
is an upcoming Nigerian poet and art  lover who chose poetry has a great medium to express his feelings about an aspect or the other in other to save the world and make changes in human at large.


      [For my mother]

Each time – far away I looked back like the concave month of Ramadan
I see crawling shadow of my mother – waked in a sacred cave water
In the sacred night of majesty- altering sacred words- in a sacred garment

Her legs get stiffed to the golden ground; a root of cloak tree
With her hand wrapped to her chest like turban – curled round an imam
Her heads pointed to the watery floor- as her forehead is cremated with sacred symbols

Her voice keeps the owl outside the barn, perching on the roof silent
And her silent muttering awakens the angel from the seventh heaven
Rain rushed ruthlessly down from the torpid eye of the cloud – wet the throat of the earth
Melting into sugar douse by the fanning hand of the awaken candle light
Her eyelashes were guard that holds tears from coming to war

I am ashes after her burning eyes – shielded down from the loosed pond of her emotions
I am the visitor with the fish eyes of shyness- the message hanging around her post office
I am the jawaab (answer) to her stammering leg, stammering voice – the final product of her prayer production
I am the teardrops of  my mothers eyes.



Man are treasure made from the fragment of the silver sand & they are borrowed remnant to paint this colorless continents. They are in the mirror of stars, calved by the greatest architecture- to make the cloud a pleasurable place for the moon to twinkle. Our age is graphically represented by the tiny stars and robust stars, which is why the size of stars are of distance difference.  So when you visit the grave trim the grown up weed. So someone will trim yours too.

I draw the calligraphy of my mind on a paper- which shows the face of a being, whom dine and wine with us yesterday but has become hidden in the box of this graveyard. I am only feeling a burning in my heart to follow people to the graveyards, what if this is my spirit and I am the dead body

Final resort center of eternal rest is the graveyards, where man is the prepared meal to the table of sand. Consumed by termites and giant ant. Every stone thrown up is naturally expected to land; a crashed aero plane – gravity pulls back to work.

Man is part of the household of sand/ tell me is home not a final resting place to market woman. Grave is the resting abode our body and bone.


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens
went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she likes to rock climb. She is the author of four full length poetry collections and twelve chapbooks. Recent work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Pinch, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, Zone 3, and Grist. She also hosts an indie reading series sponsored by the non-profit organization Iowa City Poetry called Today You Are Perfect. Find her at http://jennifermacbainstephens.com/.


Bike crash

bent knee
blood hole
broken bell
tall grass
hard cement
missing shoe
rolling bottle
more blood
stopped car
extra mask
hide bike
in field
in back
give ride
text you
place holder
limping leg
shallow breath
disjointed pinkie
dripping fluid
fat lip
look ahead
gather pieces
hobble foot
shaky voice
focus try
late pain
coming late
unlock door
floor sit
cut clothes
breathe slow
wash clean
bandage gash
floor sit
breathe slow
cut clothes
make call
try again
make call
breathe and talk
meet me
get up
don’t look
breathe slow
look now


I am the last girl.


Your eyes are cotton but arms steel traps.
I prefer the hard matter of car repair.
A glance is a miasma of sick like cat lips: non-existent.
No hair looped around fingertips
I’d rather feel your hard skull crash
into my jaw by accident,
your palm scrape my clavicle.
Blue eyes not sky-fall oxygen
but gray stone beams,
fall asleep under a periwinkle cave
made for a million strewn legs.
But they are always the same four legs.
Times I hear a little boy
who got stuck in the sewer
buried under so many imperative
short word bricks.
I cannot burn these thousand pound dictionaries.
They will come for me like buzzards,
like shaved heads
in green uniforms.
No medals.
No rank.
They multiply
like roaches,
stowing me for a rainy day


Rich Boucher
resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich’s poems have appeared in The Nervous Breakdown, Eighteen Seventy, Menacing Hedge, Drunk Monkeys and Cultural Weekly, among others, and has work forthcoming in Words & Whispers. Rich serves as Associate Editor for the online literary magazine BOMBFIRE (bombfirelit.com). He is the author of All Of This Candy Belongs To Me, a collection of poems published by Jules’ Poetry Playhouse Publications. Peep richboucher.bandcamp.com for more. He loves his life with his love Leann and their sweet cat Callie.     


Mailboxes in the Fog

I guess my neighborhood was different than other neighborhoods? I don’t know. Maybe there was something up with the adults, but all of us little, little children, when we would go trick-or-treating on Halloween, we would be given razor blades. Now, I don’t mean that adults would put razor blades in candy. I understand that happened once or twice in other places, and I suppose that’s unfortunate. But this is not my issue. Nothing can be done about those times before, and nothing can be done, ever, to prevent those incidents from happening again. Nothing can be made safe. That’s understood now. We know that. What I’m saying is that the adults in the little suburban neighborhood I grew up in would give us razor blades
instead of candy. We’d be given, by the light of the harvest moon, razor blades as treats. Sometimes we’d be gifted the razor blades in packages, and sometimes just singly, in lovely, shiny handfuls. Many traditions seem alarming, I know, to those who do not share them, but I just loved to look at the razor blades I got in my room at night after I would come home. I don’t know what the other children would do with their sweet treasure troves of razors, but I recall hearing, out of my window, lots of shrieks for help all across the neighborhood. How the neighborhood looked, streetlights out in the dark night. The sound of those terrible screams. Who didn’t love Halloween growing up?


Kristin Garth
is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House  (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket from Roaring Junior Press.  She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter:  (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com



A government generates weapons, war.
Its agents deft in disciplines of death.
The collector covets continually more —
collective concerns he tends to forget.

A government crushes blooms to a bane —
a poultice for enemies unaware. 
Dainty deceptions deliver most pain.
When your petals perish, they’ve pruned a spare.

The collector expects creatures to breed —
in harmony with their biology.
Once safe, survival a species’ next need.
Tanks compress a creature’s psychology.

Inside the Girlarium where she is left, 
The gilled, the girl live on one bated breath.


Daniel Edward Moore
lives in Washington on Whidbey Island.
His poems are forthcoming in Nebo Literary Journal, Main Street Rag Magazine, Nixes Mate Review, Verdad Magazine, Lullwater Review, Flint Hills Review, Cumberland River Review and Emrys Journal.
He is the author of the chapbook, ‘Boys’ (Duck Lake Books) and “Waxing the Dents,’ a finalist for the Brick Road Poetry Prize. (Brick Road Poetry Press)



Contemplate how a fuzzy trace theory
                     loves dirty streaks being hard to explain
on the window of last night’s dream.

Contemplate morning’s lavender doll,
                                   the feminine incarnation of me
being asked to tidy the tainted.

Of course, I will, but only if there are
                               enough reasons for you to believe
the soul is not a storybook friend.

Let’s try this, you be the
                                               tender bones of saints,
a canopy of light to cathedral the bed,

and I’ll be the dark
                                               setting the table with
bent and rusty utensils of faith

covered in what the heart could not swallow,
                       the crumbs of corrosive communion.
The angels of confabulation said,

                                      Identity’s not what you think.


Meet the Other Half

Above the neck
near the mind’s back door

is where I waited for the rougher you
to lash me with your kindness.

I could not love you more,
distracted me from less.

Struck by how confused it felt
when fear became so glamorous

& capture sprinkled glitter on
freedom’s choice to stay, I

finally got the master plan and
needed nothing more.

Make sure the lips are a salty rind
to numb the truth when swallowed,

make sure regret does not expect
to wear a crown like you. 


Jon Wesick
is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. Another poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists Contest. “Richard Feynman’s Commute” shared third place in the 2017 Rhysling Award’s short poem category. Jon is the author of the poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom as well as several novels and most recently the short-story collection The Alchemist’s Grandson Changes His Name. http://jonwesick.com


Pandemic Nation

We live in a single nation
now. Towers of ice and granite,
North Atlantic breakers beating white sand,
fragrant forests of cedar and hemlock,
boulevards, and crowded cafes merely
forbidden landscapes behind window glass.
Whether Minneapolis or Calcutta
ventilation keeps the climate
at a comfortable 72 degrees. Separation
the only thing that can unite us.


My Name is Expendable

One nation conceived in peace, born in liberty, maintained in struggle
until the empire of round hats turned the summer of love into a winter of hate.
Now street preachers sell poisoned epistemology. Their new economy
a brick of fake gold that only buys more misery. The social safety net
devolves into sharpened bamboo stakes. Riot police of conformity
take tap lessons from the Khmer Rouge. Edward R. Murrow
wins the Pulitzer Prize in he-said, she-said journalism.
David Hume is not amused.

My name is Expendable.
I come bringing cake and questions but
the world doesn’t want to hear my song.
Reality’s a difficult medium so I loiter
in the mind’s apartment experiencing life through bullet-proof glass:
concrete, boiled frogs, suffering babies in my mailbox,
blood birds, Jane’s Eviction, knives wrapped in laughing gas,
and the American public (that never-ending source of annoyance
and upper respiratory infections).


Fake it ‘til…

Dad taught me that insecticide
paved the road to success.
Raised on stories of lives free
of gnats and roaches, I thought
that was all it took.

Then an angry pustule
sprouted from Dad’s forehead.
“Is it a bot fly?” I asked. “The one
that lays its eggs in living flesh?”
“Never say that!” Mom’s slap
spun my head.

We hid father in the garage
until the larvae hatched
and his body crumbled.
Mom swept him into a dustpan
and left his remains in a Hefty bag
at the curb. We never spoke
of him again.

Decades later, termite mounds
of platitudes replace missing men.
A Ford Mustang waits patiently
for a transmission that will never come.
Cicadas scream where once weekend jazz
played from Peterson’s garage.
Jimmy Hackford teaches himself
to catch a ball


Martin Willitts Jr,
a retired Librarian was a field medic in Vietnam. He has 21 full-length collections including the Blue Light Award 2019, “The Temporary World.”  His forthcoming books include, “Harvest Time” (Deerbrook Press, 2020) “Leaving Nothing Behind” (Fernwood Press, 2021), “Meditations on Thomas Cole’s Paintings” (Aldrich Press, 2021,) “Not Only the Extraordinary are Exiting the Dream World (Flowstone Press, 2021).


            (Galanthus nivalis) used to treat Alzheimer’s

The harsh winter was over.
These first spring flowers are here,
just when all hope seemed lost.
I have almost forgotten what I was about to do —
the news was so unsettling,
days blending into a daze.
These small, white drooping bells never ring
warning when we disremember what is important.
We miss so much when we lose focus.

The flowers arrive like doctors in white lab coats,
testing my short-term memory.
What’s the last thing you remember?

It’s not important to remember the date anymore,
let alone when I returned from a tour of Vietnam,
arriving in winter, I think, when snow
was waning. Or maybe snow was still in the air.
I’m not certain. I was limping, if I recall,
from my burn wounds I treated with aloe.
The news was disturbing then, too.
I distinctly heard church bells chiming.

But I recall snowdrops, where snow melted,
after I returned, and I knew I was home.
Everything else is uncertain.


Robert Fleming
lives in Lewes, DE, USA.  He is a member of the Rehoboth Beach & Eastern Shore Writer’s Guild.  In 2019, he was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, as a contributor to the poetry anthology Stonewall Legacy.   In 1983, he won a US national student journalism award for his review of a Duran Duran concert in the Brandeis University student newspaper The Justice.



isms r america
happenism b 4
like a vocal chordism b 4 a voiceism
like a pullin b 4 a gunism wound
america in prison isms
humans r isms
lovism, hatism, r our isms
7 viceisms & 7 virtueisms r our isms
imprisioned in prisonisms
america is isms


Human Make Believe

5 pm here, 3 am there
without time, just now

alive nor dead
without living, no killing

u own
without owning, no stealing

without messages, babbling

without presidenting, just, us

ur skin is tan, my skin is brown
without color, just skin

John Lennon resurrected
with John imagine

John playing an ivory piano
with a piano, music

peace nor war
without John singing give peace a chance,


The Grindle

leave the box!  screamed Tommy
still Spot bite the box,
which opened the box,
& a goldfish jumped out
of a bowl onto Spot –

FishHead came forth,
1 dog, 1 fish,
1 dogfish –
the dogfish is the best of the dog
& the worst of the fish
& the worst of the dog
& the best of the fish

Tommy & the dogfish held the chain
& led the play
showing the hell sights
on the hop on, hop off hell bus

came the day of the DogFish,
the DogFish took over,
as pack leader,
to make a juice to control humans

a factory came forth to serve
the DogFish coo,
& a beverage too;
a beer was canned
with juice squeezed
from the DogFish tail –
humans imbibed the beer
& served the DogFish

anti-dogfish came forth,
who drank wine, only,
despite the DogFish beer coupons
the antis, did not drink beer
the antis veins were malt free
& DogFish juice free,

the antis, plotted an anti-DogFish coo
& lured the DogFish
with jerky fly treats,
away, away, from the box
& the antis closed the box,
& sent the DogFish back to hell

the antis danced at the DogFish departure,
but un-antis humans did not,
for their veins were still filled
with DogFish juice

beware the DogFish,
for another DogFish will come forth
& conquer the galaxy,
& infiltrate humans thru DogFish fluids


Vote 4 the Penis Amendment

2 long have men voted with their fingertips,
fingertips retire!
men’s suffrage ends with our penis!
the penis will rise like the phoenix
oh Great Viagra, rise the penis, penises rise on
plead 2 the president, 4 our penis amendment
unite our penises around the capital
join the politics of the penis
seize your penis power
politi has space 4 all penises:
cut, uncut, curved, hairy, shaved!
rejoice in all the penis colors!
cum voting day, go in 2 the booth
harden your penis
vote 4 the penis amendment
press the buttons with your penis
tape I voted around your penis


American Convoy

the east got we the people off the boat,
               free from brits,
sleepin under fire ready roofs,
               off ships, eatin what?
               on land,

the midwest wind blew the earth naked
               & left folks hungry,
Tom & Ma Joad carted west after grapes
               & to hide from folks
lookin’, for fightin Tom

go west!
               west to the California dream:
                                                       surfer girls;
& folks got on carts, horses, trucks, nd trains
Nd hitched onto the California Convoy,
hitching, when it’s camels,
               its a caravan,
               when its trucks,
                              it’s a convoy
               westward wheels, east 2 west,
               pholks with westward hopes

driverside back truck tire in California,
passengerside hopes sanded in the sand,
the sun sets on,
               the con is the California convoy:
the sun burns to melanoma,
            the jobs pay the boss,
                        the gold pan has holes,
                                    the oil well is dry,
                                                the land is the landlord’s,
                                                            surfer girls surf on in Beach Boys songs.

Ma Joad stayed west,
               & died in the west host,
Tom Joad returned east fightin’ for a new hope,
               easterners, all aboard! for the Connecticut Convoy,
                              convoy from California 2 Connecticut,
2 return to the east coast con


Essama Chiba
from Egypt is a poet, author and content editor. A member of International Poetry Fellowship- Anthology Publishing. She has been published in over twenty Anthologies and co- authored several poetry books.
Received the certificate of best poem of the year 2018 for her poem “Bitter Harvest”, from Global Poetry Planet Organization. Had a career in broadcasting and is now co-hosting a Poetry Blogtalkradio. She was married to Abed Al Kader Naguib a TV, director and scriptwriter, shared with him over forty Drama series for many TV stations in the Arab world. 


The wind of change

As I sail soft currents
I’m blown by a change of winds
Attracted within magnetic fields
My being disintegrates
Torn between East and West


Shaken to the core
I attempt to recollect broken pieces
Of my estranged self
Scattered in each corner of the world

Seeds of my cells take root
Divided into one
This madness has become
My sanity, my every sense

Storms of intense emotions
Mirror my true image
Drifted on high and low tides
In love or in loneliness
I stretch my hands reaching out


Beirut I confess
you were never mine
vague memories of a house
made of stone and
a painting hanging
on the wall


Beirut a glory of ashes
a city of fire and smoke
your maidens weep in the night
behind closed doors

and in the morning
they send their kisses
to the sea and sing
to vineyards with Fairuz

Beirut you still carry
the seeds of tragedy
in your womb
I cry for you



The sounds of missiles
break the silence
Baghdad crumbles
beneath palm trees


drowned corpses
heavily armed
floating on the surface
of the two rivers
their shadows reappear
in nightmares

would this war ever end
are there bridges
we can cross to meet
in a moment of peace
along shores that are
no longer ours but in us

Dipe Jola
is a poet from Lagos, Nigeria. A Best Of The Net Nominee. Her published works are on African Writer, FeralPoetry, Minerallit, Kalahari Review, Turnpike Magazine, and elsewhere. She can be reached via Twitter @jola_ng


Menorrhagia II

At 4 a.m., you woke with a migraine. A series plays on your TV, “ The
Forgotten”. You had missed switching it off before bedtime. Today’s off.

So you decided to play dress up. First, you’ll wear a sequin dress to look
Like an old Aunt from the family’s album. Second, you’ll wear the coat your

Last lover forgot while packing. You’ll sure look so perfect yet ghostly.
You looked breathtaking and picture-perfect for a while, in a long time.

Later in the morning, while laying on the front porch, you noticed something
Crawling out of you. Warm but with a sizzling effect on your skin. You rushed

To the bathroom. In front of the mirror, you looked like an escape house. Like the
Reincarnation of your great Aunt you emulated earlier. In the bathtub, is a casket

Of mashed berries. Your thighs basking in a cascade of sunsets. Here, it is like
The photo from your 2nd year birthday. Just that you were not as bubbly as before.

Your body pressed to the color of the tiles. In your eyes is your mother’s orange
Soul, singing Frank Ocean’s Godspeed to you. I will always love you. How do I do?

Let go of prayer for you.



red berry seeds rains evocatively.
it is not usually necessary to measure blood loss.
in quietness, a handful of palmed fruits fill the
ground. the distance between us is a garden-shaped morgue.
i fill with my fist to the dustpan, what remains of the
body — clotted tissues, wrecked dresses. loss is
the only luxury lusting leaves us to. my
body— unclad— tends into the coldness of rainwater.
clad— the berries come dripping— the loss of a child is
not heart-bearing. the doctor says menorrhagia meaning
   blood ritual    busted plump   blood puddle
berries]      [        ]      [wounds


Eamon O’Caoineachan
is a poet, originally from Co. Donegal, Ireland, but living in Houston, Texas. His work is published in Prometheus Dreaming, The Ekphrastic Review, Vita Brevis Press and the University of St. Thomas’s literary magazines, Thoroughfare and Laurels. He is the recipient of The Robert Lee Frost-Vince D’Amico Poetry Award and the Rev. Edward A. Lee Endowed Scholarship in English at the University of St. Thomas, Houston. He is completing his MA in English and working on his first poetry collection.


George Floyd Can’t Breathe

Eddie Vedder was right—
every white man wins the lottery              

when every white baby boy is born
they become the ultimate lottery winner—a W.M.A. (white male American).                     

It’s a lottery that’s rigged too in an empowered rage,                                                 
chosen by the privileged few, like a white oligarchy

more Spartan than Athenian and
talking about Athens and lotteries

remember Milledge’s land lottery in Athens, Georgia
where the Creek and Cherokee’s land were put in a lottery                                 

yet the Creek and Cherokee were not cut lots in the lottery themselves?
that’s the unequal logic of systemic racism.           

That’s why we, as white male Americans,
must take a knee
to make this stop—                                                                   

because when your handcuffed and locked to the ground                                                       
how can any man be free when another man has the key?                               

there’s no need—to—kneel—on—my—neck—                                 
there’s no need—I can’t breathe—to—cage—my—breath—                   
there’s no need—to—be—kneeled—to—death—


Kneeled to Death

when your handcuffed
and locked to the ground

how can any man
be free

when another man
has the key?                               

there’s no need—to

there’s no need—I can’t breathe—

there’s no need—to—





Eliana Vanessa
is originally from Argentina and moved to New Orleans, Louisiana at a young age.  She recently participated 100,000 Poets for Change (2018) and served as part of a panel of poets in The Jane Austen Festival (2017, 2018, 2019).   You can find her work online at San Pedro Review, The Blue Nib, The Sirens Call Ezine, Ariel Chart, and Medusa’s Kitchen, and in the anthologies Masks Still Aren’t Enough (2019) as well as Americans And Others (2019).  She is Eliana Vanessa on Facebook at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/eliana.vanessa.


magnetic force

it was the haziness of the words
falling from your brazen lips,
the hollowed-out bits,

on a trail, dimly lit,
that led me back the night
i waited, transmogrified, at your door,

i promised not to knock again,
but for the beast of poetry,
under moon-shade,

how could i
dissuade your thunder
from following me, as it did?

shapeshifting, into deafening vibrations,
calling for more bones to be thrown
on the ground?

i became
one with the talisman,
in an encirclement of dust,

a huntress,
made to obsecrate
the owner of her ghostly lust,

as it had fallen away from yours,

still, my heart
to reappear,
naked before you, again,

the portal of our
mutual destruction.



sharp shooter,
walk down the alley
with me,

the night cries, burgundy,
like your tie, slick from the heat,
brushing against my wet breasts,

in the darkness,
we are despair-in-decadence

because there is no amount of lipstick
that the rain cannot erase,

as wicked blue eyes drown passerby’s
back into shadows

we are the only reflection, seen,
in the sad and beautiful

your hands ride up my dress again—
everything, but everything, is a gun.


Strider Marcus Jones
is a poet, law graduate and ex civil servant from Salford, England with proud Celtic roots in Ireland and Wales. A member of The Poetry Society, his five published books of poetry  https://stridermarcusjonespoetry.wordpress.com/ reveal a maverick, moving between forests, mountains, cities and coasts playing his saxophone and clarinet in warm solitude. His poetry has been published in the USA, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, India and Switzerland in numerous publications including mgv2 Publishing Anthology; Dreich Magazine; Trouvaille Review; dyst Literary Journal; Impspired Magazine; Literary Yard e-Journal; Poppy Road Review; Cajun Mutt Press; Rusty Truck Magazine; Rye Whiskey Review; The Poet Magazine; Deep Water Literary Journal; The Huffington Post USA; The Stray Branch Literary Magazine; Crack The Spine Literary Magazine; A New Ulster/Anu; Outburst Poetry Magazine; The Galway Review; The Honest Ulsterman Magazine; The Lonely Crowd Magazine; Danse Macabre Literary Magazine; The Lampeter Review; Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts; Don’t Be Afraid: Anthology To Seamus Heaney; Dead Snakes Poetry Magazine; Panoplyzine  Poetry Magazine.



the back bone crumbles in its frame
twisted and curved inside its vine-
upwards, it craves the warm sunshine,
aware that mortality is vain.

back to its root-
abort an echo with male voice,
giving its mother a tough choice-
o seductive flute.

a lonely child-
different to its brothers,
distant from others-
growing in the wild.

peek down memory tubes-
to poverty collecting wire and wood
for food and fire where slum streets stood
with imaginary friend, the talking morphine soothes.

into now, the past, the pain-
thoughts tumours clot the blood;
know your own knots inside the wood-
and change to remain, but keep the grain.

Edwardson Ukata 
is a student of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, studying to be a Biotechnologist. 

He is a native of the Ekpeye Kingdom of Rivers state, Nigeria, & fashions his writing as the voice of his mind & friends (readers). 
He has works appearing in African writer mag, Ngiga review, Write now:A literary journal, Afritondo, forthcoming on Disquietarts, Eboquills  & others. Catch him on social media @ua_edwardson (Facebook, instagram)  Twitter@eddiewatson31 &, he writes from Ahoada, Rivers state. 

Open letter to you in a house with shrieking walls 

You, I am sorry. 
      I know how hard it is to live in a pell-mell, 
      In a balloon, gasping for air—you shrink, 
      Into an abyss of depression, reaching for 
      The hands of death hanging from your heights. 
Don’t do it, it is wicked. 
      Please hold on to the lights in our eyes, 
      We’re smiling hard enough for you to, too. 
      We want you to willow your body of the rue, 
      Run into these open arms & cry on us. 
We want you to be strong, really. 
      We pray for you when it tumbles under the 
      waves of an angry ocean, when your star
      sinks into a pall & you can’t breathe. 
      We pray you find happiness to seep into, 
      Flying over your conundrums like a flower plucked 
      by the wind & laughing to the walls that quell you. 
We love you, dearly. 

Janis Harrington
“My collection of poems, Waiting for the Hurricane (St. Andrews University Press, 2017), won the Lena Shull Book Award, given by the North Carolina Poetry Society. Contest judge Patricia Jabbeh Wesley said: “These honest poems, the kind that remain with you, are about family in all of its complexities… its deep secrets and unforgivable sins. This book is urgently necessary.”

My work appears in journals and anthologies, including: Tar River PoetryJournal of the American Medical AssociationNorth Carolina Literary ReviewThird Wednesday; and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, The Kent State University Press. I was a Finalist for the 2020 James Applewhite Poetry Prize.”



He is too weak to struggle for consciousness.
Not enough strength to blink, or press a hand,
he has no way to make his wife understand
her love can’t ransom him. Helpless
to grant wishes or respond to commands,
he doesn’t want to leave her, but has no choice.
The wrenching sounds he hears—his wife sobbing,
his friends beseeching, his daughter on tape—
are torture, hold him here, a rope tying
this boat, oars out of water, to the pier.
Finally, silence. The demands stop.
A voice tells him there is nothing to fear,
it’s time to pay the ferryman his fee.
Slip off the body’s anchor. Your soul is free. 


Morning Talk Show Hosts a Suicidologist 

Eyes intense, tie knotted like a noose,
he chides viewers for brushing aside
our nation’s suicide epidemic:
rate up twenty-five percent; the tenth
most frequent cause of American death.
Each year, tens of thousands take their lives.

We refuse to discuss high school copycat
hangings, state mental health budget cuts,
television violence, YouTube how-to’s,
poverty, social isolation, guns galore,
our culture’s self-esteem bandits. Taboo topics
for polite conversation. We choose to ignore

that self-hate night-rides in our society,
teens to elders swinging from despair’s tree. 

Widow’s Pension


Washing breakfast dishes, I listen to Annie,
behind me at the kitchen table,
explain again to Nick’s former employer
she can’t find the papers. A broken record,
this disembodied voice in Tennessee,
with the tone of a bored teenager,
which insists she needs the original forms
he signed in 1996. I hear a sob.
Turning, I grab the phone with sudsy hands:
You must have a copy. The woman all but yawns,
says they outsourced HR. Transfer me
to a manager, you incompetent bitch!
Recorded line dead. Matters made worse.
My sister weeps. I am powerless. 


Yash Seyedbagheri
is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program in fiction. His story, “Soon,” was nominated for a Pushcart. Yash has also had work nominated for Best of the Net and The Best Small Fictions. 

A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others. 

Inbox Bullshit

refresh my email, inbox empty. again: 1
yet it’s all advertisements, campaign ads, articles about chipping $5 to my campaign.
no party invites, nicknames,
how are you, want a beer, what’s up?
just another article from The New Yorker
about dead people.

Would you like a couch to lie on?

No, I don’t want to talk about my drunk mother, or father’s lectures
or about passive-aggressive paradigms or upping my dosage
or how I need to smile more.
I want to knock over a mailbox, I want to piss on garbage cans, I want solutions!


David Skarupski
A lifelong resident of Erie, Pa., Dave Skarupski is a yet unpublished poet and fiction writer. Dave received a B.A. in English from Penn State University in December 2019, where he reconnected with his love for writing after a seven-year hiatus from his academic and creative endeavors. 


Bed Peace Ain’t Peace if Everyone’s Still Sleeping

I stay in bed,
for peace.
for traction,
for support.
But there are
no cameras,
no publicity,
no flowers,
no billboards,
no music,
no -isms,
no Ginsbergs,
no Learys,
no Onos,
no Lennons.
Just boomers,
helpless babies
a familiar teat:
the scorching
which razed the future
long before
fried rice
scattered in
paddy fields.


Lauren Scharhag
is the author of fourteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 100 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize, two Best of the Net nominations, and acceptance into the 2021 Antarctic Poetry Exhibition. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com


Happy Trails

We make events out of our quiet walks
along these nature trails. “Hike” implies
too much athleticism for such meanderings,
but many of the trails are unpaved, so they still
qualify. It becomes the centerpiece of our
days and weeks. We hike on your birthday.
We hike on mine. We hike with a friend because,
out here, we don’t have to worry so much about
accidentally breathing each other’s air. We hike
because it’s Sunday. On our anniversary,
you know what we’ll do. We’ll check the river
to see if we can spot that little brown snake again,
the green sunfish and the channel cat mouthing
the surface. We’ll count the cardinals and crows.
We’ll visit the swallow colony, its round mud nests
affixed to the underside of the Lydia Street bridge
in a neat row, like Zulu huts. We’ll see what the rain
has brought: clusters of tiny, star-white mycena,
whole galaxies in the undergrowth, the scent
of emergent fungus mixing with black loam and bark,
greenery like something out of a peyote dream,
and bursts of wild fennel so fierce and yellow,
we’ll taste anise in the back of our throats,
the skeletal ghosts of bush honeysuckle,
their perfume long over, but plucking at our clothes
with twiggy, persistent fingers. Live here,
everything whispers, or perhaps, Life here.
To which I say, Yes.


Forever Home

As we stand still, it’s only natural
to want to make our homes feel larger.
The local news tells us the shelter
is empty. We adopt two from a rescuer,
their tiny bodies barely taking up any room
at all in the single pet carrier. Suddenly,
the house is messy with catnip mice
and balls with bells inside that go ringing
up and down the hall day and night,
scratch posts that fail to entice them
away from the sofa, and a long, hide-and-seek
tunnel made of cloth and hoops. There are
strings to dangle and breakables we endeavor
to protect. They go running to the door when
the FedEx driver knocks, and I must keep them
from darting out into the steel-and-concrete
unknown. They leap at moths fluttering at windows
and stalk bugs that get in through the chimney.
They find the smallest specks of I-don’t-know-
what in corners and under furniture,
and bat them across my previously clean
floors. They follow the path of the sunbeam
from window ledge to carpet, to bed, like a
holy processional, chase points of light that wink
from my phone screen. All is new. All is wonder,
their little faces unadulterated with it, mealtime
and playtime equal sources of boundless joy.
They loll and stretch and offer up their bellies
for scratching, purring their feline hosannas. Amber
and emerald eyes slow blink. By night, they sleep
curled against us, perched on the curve of a hip
or nestled into the small of a back, leaving
no question as to what makes this place home
for them. Nor do we question what makes it ours.


Minor Arcana

The stories tell you that you have to be
born into this. If you are, wizards and
fairy godmothers eventually appear,
white rabbits, swords in stones, even
a twister to spirit you away to
your destiny. They don’t tell you that
some of us are born on the outskirts,
in the wrong age, cursed with awareness,
doomed to yearn for bygone magics. You
know there’s something out there, but
it’s hard chasing shadows in these
well-lit times, where the gardens are orderly,
where the trees are too thin for wolves,
where the hearths are strictly decorative, and
no one uses a cauldron anymore. My
madrina never conjured a pumpkin
coach, she just gave me a rosary,
and took me shoe-shopping on my
birthday. I don’t look for black cats
to cross my path; I watch for the
portentous passage of deer, a certain
pattern of leaves. I squint at fireflies,
hoping to catch a pixie trying to blend.
I can trace these desires back to taking
wishes upon stars way too seriously, and
dandelion seed bursts, and he-loves-me-he-
loves-me-nots. I hurled coins into fountains,
rubbed the boar statue’s snout, hunted
for talismans in thrift store discount bins. I
read all the books, lit candles, cast stones,
and tell myself I can almost hear the night
whispers, the ecstasy of celestial bodies
caught in their eternal dervish. I swear
I’ve caught idols and icons following me
with their eyes, but the fox that appeared
in my yard led me only to the vacant lot
at the end of the street, where a bulldozer
idled. All my dreams are riddles and
fortune cookies: a beggar offering me
nine gold paperclips or an old woman
in a rocking chair, warning me that I do myself
a disservice. The cards and crystal balls
do not speak to me. The planchette remains
stubbornly still. Yet, I never grow tired
of totems and moongazing, of opening doors
and boxes. I tell myself, Revelations
come to those who wait. I grow old.
I fill my life with teacups and spinning
wheels. After all, someone has to count the coins
and cut branches for wands. Someone must
tend the shrine, cover the mirrors. Maybe I
will never be the heroine of my own story, but
I can still be the crone in someone else’s.


Homemade Wine

I never tasted my grandfather’s wine.
I just remember his postage stamp of a yard,
not an inch wasted with a vegetable patch,
an herb bed, a tool shed. I’m sure he would’ve
kept chickens if he could, but they weren’t
legal in the city limits in those days. Still,
he raised enough to keep the window
ledges lined with ripening tomatoes
all summer long, arbol peppers drying
in bunches by the stove, the yerba buena
that he never bothered to steep but plucked
fresh, stuck in his jaw like a plug of tobacco,
and chewed. He spat green. The grapevine
a lush cloak over the back fence, shielding
the property from the trash-strewn alleyway,
dusty red bunches we were not allowed to eat,
reserved for vinifying. Inevitably, Catawbas
swelled and dropped, wrinkled, split, for bees
to light on. It’s possible that his mother started
the tradition. They arrived in the States just in time
for Prohibition. What was there to do
but brew her own beer, set up a still—
why not make wine? I could only too easily
imagine him tending the same vine
for forty-five years, coming to know each
coil and stem the way he knew
the neighborhood. I remember the buckets
and straining cloths, his stained-red hands,
glass gallon jugs lining the store room,
corked and left to ferment, an inch of
sugar and yeast at the bottom. By the time
they were ready each year, the porch swing
had been put away, the vines withered,
the garden dead. But the chilies were hung,
the jalapeños jarred. We’d entered the time
of poinsettias and Three King’s bread. I was
too young to partake, but the sharp scent of it
reminded me of mass. My aunt would come
and they’d sample it together, clinking glasses.
I imagine it must have tasted like summer.
They’d agree, it was sweet.


Heath Brougher
is the Editor in Chief of Concrete Mist Press and the poetry editor for Into the Void Magazine, winner of the 2017 and 2018 Saboteur Awards for Best Magazine. He is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee as well as winner of the 2018 Poet of the Year Award from Taj Mahal Review. His most recent collection is “Bleeding Backwards” (Diaphanous Press, 2019).


Pain(ed)ful M(endacious)urders  

         (a response to the murder of George Floyd)

L(unatic)aw enforcement slices up African ribs for lunch  ,,
      s(ickly)lave o(minous)wners reduce the lives of the o(h no!)wned— 
the lives protesting peacefully to s(lither)mithereens  ,,

the invisible power of destructio(fficer I can’t breathe!!)n is destroying lives
like the psychotic machine it is!!

gor(e)geous   &   ab(lunt object to the head)undant 
as a cop, I mean, a cup fulla copper::.


It Only Takes One

The tiniest of people can spark the biggest flames.
Even the dullest, yet honest, man can burn it all down if he wishes
to see charms and political angels plummet to the ground
as the fat and happy idiotic sultans living
in an invisible kingdom they call Freedom
have their spirits crushed in a sudden panic attack—
every last one of them with some degree of blood on their hands.

They can all be wrecked, bloodied, destroyed
by a simplistic act committed by a magnanimous army of one. 


William Doreski
has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Stirring the Soup.  williamdoreski.blogspot.com

Delving Deeper into Climate Change

You bought a machine to suck
the humidity from our moods
and bottle it for drinking.
Made in a Chinese insane
asylum, this contraption looks
more like a feeble insect
than something humans designed.
I hope it doesn’t waste power
or gnash its gears all night while
I’m dreaming of the fish-goddess
in all her glory of scales.
You trust machinery more
than I do, the owner manuals
your favorite reading except
for those grisly political screeds
with which you try to shame me.
The summer does feel heavier
than summers past. The air lies
corpse-thick on every surface,
smearing with oily damp.
People downtown look rubbery
and sullen behind their smiles.
Mold is devouring books I’ve owned
since high school, when sex-lives
occurred on old army blankets
spread in moon-swept pastures.
Maybe buying this ugly machine
wasn’t a bad idea. Maybe
we can sell the bottled sweat
the way Fiji has marketed
overpriced water to the world.
Still, its dogged grinding and gusts
of hot exhaust aren’t promising.
I hope it has a good warranty,
unlike us. Hard times are coming.
Crosscurrents of weather will clash
with stainless outrage nothing
built, evolved, or imagined
is likely to survive intact.


The War is Elsewhere, Isn’t it?

When I open my bedroom door
a patrol car parked in the hallway
blocks my access to the bathroom.

The police state has arrived.
I dress in several shades of black
and squeeze past the car and duck

into the kitchen and out
the window. A whole platoon
of regular US infantry

in gas masks and flak jackets
mills around my back yard, rifles
pointing in all directions at once.

Their helmets shine like toadstools.
They ignore the small fry like me.
They’ve trampled my garden flat,

cancelling the August display
of day lilies. They look alert,
but here in rural New Hampshire

the only enemies are blackflies,
deer flies, stinging nettle, and gnats.
I don’t dare ask questions but duck

into the forest fringe and crouch
in the shadow of my shadow.
I can see the big hole in my house

into which the patrol car drove.
I can smell expended ordnance,
although I didn’t hear the blasts.

Maybe Canada has invaded
to put us out of our misery.
Maybe a military coup

has mistaken my little house
for the seat of government. Rumors
drip from the trees above me.

I mustn’t listen to their nonsense.
I must lie here until the soldiers
realize that the war is elsewhere

and the police back their patrol car
out of my house and drive away,
leaving nothing but their spoor.

The rumors drape like velvet
over my face, obscuring vision.
I can’t avoid their obfuscations.

Where do those little whispers
originate? No one’s here but
me and a drizzle of insects,

the oncoming mutter of thunder
arousing me from the deepest sleep
I’ve slept in a long dull lifetime.


Every Crime is a Hate Crime

Today all the buried hatchets
expire in rust. Today the wolves
return to their carrion
with their fangs cleaned and polished.
Today the politicians deflate
their windbags and head for home,
leaving the white city gasping.

You fear the effects of the heat
on pets whose innocence shines
button-faced in humid glare.
I worry that the disgust of trees
will topple on us with noises
we’re too flimsy to withstand.
Every crime is a hate crime
on a day as winsome as this.

Let’s hide in the basement and play
chess until starlight cancels
the debts that lie in wait for us.
Let’s listen to old blues tunes
that rattle in the ear like space
debris from the latest comet.

You won’t listen. You mistrust
my argument that creatures
evolving in culverts and drains
require as much attention
as the latest crop of babies
emerging from our township’s
stock of freshly wedded blondes.

We should stay home forever,
or at least until the senators
from all the plains states resign.

Let’s prepare ourselves for weather
too pale to even call weather.
If we must drive to the village
let’s do it in style, overdressed
for the terrible heat, naked
in spirit, too pure to sweat.


Government Monitors Brain Waves

In front of the post office,
sinister agents in street clothes
buff me, threatening to publish
charts of my creepy brain waves
to shame me among my friends.

What do they want? Compliance
with the hurricane creeping up
the coast, adherence to rules
the President imposes daily,
surrender of all my weaponry,

all smoke grenades and stink bombs.
These faceless almost speechless
figures aren’t from the FBI,
Homeland Security, ATF.
They represent an alphabet

too secret to transliterate
into English, Spanish, Chinese.
They wear bags over their heads
to mock the cult of beauty,
which is legal only among

certain billionaire sex addicts.
They try to hustle me into
an unmarked van, but I yank
a stink bomb from my pocket,
and the blast disables them

long enough for me to escape.
I hide in the bookshop where
grim illiterates fear to go.
While waiting for the stink to clear
I browse among the new books

and find one entitled, Stealing
Your Secrets: How Government
Monitors Brain Waves in Sleep.
I’ll take that home to read while
the hurricane pounds my house

and rain glosses every texture.
Maybe it will so frighten me
I’ll suppress my subversive dreams
and wake all naked and shining
for the first time in my life.


Making America Great Again

A mob assembles to applaud
the President’s knee on its neck.
We keep a safe distance. Heat
and the threat of contagion
trump our curiosity.

A cheer, then a mushroom cloud
erupts from the outdoor arena.
A shock wave tousles the atmosphere,
smashing rows of parked cars
and toppling a few slender trees.

From this distance it’s only
a caress, reassuring us
that the national nightmare thrives.
You turn away for a moment
to mourn those back-broken trees

while I’m busy counting bodies.
The President survives with a smile,
but hundreds of his victims lie
busted and bankrupt in the grass,
their wounds already infected.

Watching through binoculars,
I can read astonishment and pain,
but also a lack of regret
for triggering that explosion
with a critical mass of angst.

You grab my binoculars and peer
so hard your face makes a fist.
Fire engines arrive to douse
the passions flaming here and there
in the bushes where survivors

celebrate with unruly sex.
Let’s go home and read about
this turgid event. Video clips
posted on the Internet
will make it look almost real.


Alexis Rhone Fancher
is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily, Plume, 
Cleaver, Diode, Poetry East, Pedestal Magazine and elsewhere. She’s authored five poetry 
collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems 
(KYSO Flash Press, 2019). A full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, will 
be published in winter of 2020, and EROTIC: New & Selected, publishes in January, 2021 from 
New York Quarterly. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry 
editor of Cultural Weeklywww.alexisrhonefancher.com

Portrait of a Woman’s Vagina As An Aerial Photograph


Look, he says, you can see the tillage, how it’s broken into parcels, gerrymandered into neat little exploitations. The long-legged stretch of yellow hills, the sweet divide and that grassy mound, don’t you see it? It’s a construct: a torso complete with wetlands, vulva, and thighs. She’s quite a spread, her legs straight as a virgin’s, ankles straining like restless nuns. When she ran, she rivered, stars strewed before her, an embrace. She ran south, toward her savior, the only one who could moisten her, wet her down to bedrock, fill her with all that diverted water, the icy quench that pooled in her hollows. Look, he says, don’t you see the blue? How it lapped her up, swallowed and made her a fertile field? Just added water.



                                        painting by Lisa Segal



David Cope
Born 1948, Detroit, Mi. Married 50 years, 3 grown children. Taught Shakespeare, Drama, Creative Writing, Multicultural Literature, Women’s Studies, etc. at Grand Rapids Community College for 22 years; school custodian 18 years before that. Kent County Dyer Ives Poetry Competition, first place adult category winner, 1971, 1972. Pushcart Prize winner, 1977. Distinguished Alumni award, GRCC 1984. Seven books and two chapbooks published, winner of award in literature from American Academy/Institute of Arts and Letters, 1988. Editor and publisher, Big Scream magazine, 1974-2020+. Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Mi. 2011-2014; editor of three anthologies: Nada Poems (Nada, 1988), Sunflowers & Locomotives: Songs for Allen (elegies for Allen Ginsberg, Nada, 1998), and Song of the Owashtanong: Grand Rapids Poetry in the 21st Century (Ridgeway, 2013). In 2017, David completed The Correspondence of David Cope and Allen Ginsberg (1976-1996), still unpublished. 2017-2018 publications include The Train: “Howl” in Chicago (chapbook, Multifarious Press, 2017), and The Invisible Keys: New and Selected Poems 1975-2017 (Ghost Pony Press, 2018). David’s “In Silence” appeared in Chinese translation by Professor Zhang Ziqing as part as group of 9-11 poems in Houston Garden of Verses, and nine of his poems were included in translations by Zhang in Poetry Periodical (Beijing). Dr. Peter Feng also translated two of Cope’s poems for a Chinese online poetry journal, Poetry Sky. In 2019, David’s poems were translated and discussed in vol. II (1379-1386) of Professor Zhang’s three volume study, A History of 20th Century American Poetry. Cope was the only American poet conferee at the Suining International Poetry Week and Chen Zi’ang Poetry Awards in Sichuan, China (March, 2019). His work from that journey appears in A Bridge Across the Pacific (A Jabber Publication, 2020), and the essays and international dialogue from the book are published by Rabbit: A Journal of Non-fiction Poetry (Australia). His “River Rouge” appears in RESPECT: The Poetry of Detroit Music, ed. Jim Daniels and M. L. Liebler (Michigan State University Press, 2020). The David Cope Papers are maintained at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library, and his webpage, The Dave Cope Sampler, is online at the Museum of American Poetics.


Flight to Paumanok:  A Still Station

     in Paterson Literary Review 48 (2020)


JFK full stop—50 mph winds, gusting
even higher over NYC, swirling—
we deplane at Detroit, city of my birth—

airline agent beleaguered & bullied,
irate passengers wanting answers, now
arms gesticulating, faces contorted.

others phone those they love, lament
missed connections, or watch the slow
rolling clouds, bright light & horizon

with its promise.  a still station now.
fellow passengers share tales as I
outline Walt’s endlessly rocking

cradle, the bird’s lament that gave him
his calling, life of singing words as
comfort in this sea of sorrow, even as

I too am headed for his Paumanok,
where I’ll share hours with old friends,
make new ones.  I’ll sing my poems

recitative in East Setauket & Garden City,
visit Whitman birthplace & wonder how
the Walt Whitman Mall across the street

might sit with him in these latter days
when the heart itself is a commodity—
I hear the mourning bird in the swamp

even as the agent announces we’ll
take off in an hour, ah generous
spirit of singing words abiding still.  


Silent March Candlelight Vigil for George Floyd

     in Red Fez and Indefinite Space (2020)


The march was to be silent meditation from Rosa Parks Circle
past the cop station to the park candlelight vigil
memory for George Floyd—never got to candles nor light—
downtown erupted cars aflame, hundreds of windows smashed,
the Vault of Midnight looted, Cuban Sanchez Restaurant,
Public Library, Art Museum windows shattered—so many
of these rioters were laughing white boys—too much like
Boogaloo Bois or the agents provacateurs inciting violence,
cursing cops and bystanders in Ann Arbor or Detroit late 60s—
proved when Allen Ginsberg sat with me over FOIA papers
showing FBI connections then.  Ah, charnel house we live in,
pandemic deaths riots rebellions across the nation, legit
governors threatened by thugs with assault rifles, a president
whose only keys are threats and lies.  What angels hover
over us now?  Which ghost riders fill our evening skies?
Ah, George Floyd, peaceful spirit, be with us now.
the song rises even in this quiet moment, audible for those
with ears to hear it, chant it in the great unbidden dream.


Kevin Ridgeway
is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press) and nine chapbooks of poetry including Grandma Goes to Rehab (Analog Submission Press, UK). His work can recently be found in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Plainsongs, San Pedro River Review, The Cape Rock, Trailer Park Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.



I was so cool one night
at a dorm party at the start
of freshman year, but
I could not remember
how to be cool like
that again. I drank
and smoked and
snorted in search
of the hip cat
everyone was
talking about.
I thought I had them
all fooled into believing
that I had life
all figured out
until they all told me
about the man
they met the night
before, who surprised
them when he numbed
every painful feeling
and replaced them
with the hungover
delusion that I was
smooth enough
to never let any
of them down
like my trousers
were in my failure
to inspire them
to grow up so
they could all
be just like me.



I am too intense when I brood
and share my wayward emotions
to weary people who drown in the deep end
of my expressions, and I bury them
in my racing thoughts and random,
obscure trivia until they all run away from me
and my unfiltered heart, asking me
to bring it and my bug eyes down a few notches
when a man with my nephew’s name snarled lyrics
in a show business voice to a world that’s killed
all the women in my life, leaving me alone
and out of reach. People tell me they’ve
felt the same way I do about them
as I become silent, afraid to let people know
the vulnerable truth of my love for them
with a lifetime ahead of me. I hope I find myself
in a time when they all come running back to me,
even after I left their homes broken so they can
all finally tell me how they really feel about me
while I strip off this mask and let my love be naked
in front of them and a million other masked strangers
who were too afraid of getting sick to be themselves.



I was in the fetal position
inside of a converted garage,
where I screamed at my parents
on the other side of my door.
They argued over my father’s
drug habit.  I entered
the argument confused
and still drunk from all
of the noontime libations
I tried to silence my brain
with, but the bottom shelf
vodka took possession of me
when my quivering mouth
screamed aimless obscenities
at  both of my parents
because they never took
me seriously. I stood there
in the dead silence of
a great beyond that took
their angry voices from
my locked door, and
that has prompted me
to pay dysfunctional tribute
to their brand of extreme,
self-inflicted pain that left me
in the shadows they both
disappeared behind,
dressed in the over sized
sweatpants they got me
for Christmas after
my wife left me. I sounded
off a pain that was never
mine to cry over, and
those tears awakened
my arguments with
a past who helped me
gave birth to an inner
monstrosity of my own.


John Drudge
is a social worker working in the field of disability management and holds degrees in social work, rehabilitation services, and psychology.  He is the author of two books of poetry: “March” and “The Seasons of Us” (both published in 2019). His work has appeared widely in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies internationally. John is also a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and lives in Caledon Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children.



The reality of the world
We are presented
With something different
Something not easy
To get beyond
Rebelling in futility
Against the framers
Who have no idea
What the truth is
There’s no real tomorrow
In the scavenger fields
Of suffering
Where neutrons
And super brains
Are the only elements
In the ether
Using technology
Against us
Against the existential threat
And chaos of feelings
As we devolve
Into a pool
Of artificial tears
We can’t outsmart
Sacrificing one generation
For the next



Lost between mirrors
And visions
In between this reality
And the times
We shot at the mad
Barking moon
To the Hebrew poets
Who left us wandering
By the wayside
Of our own


Tanya Rakh
was born on the outskirts of time and space in a cardboard box. After extensive planet-hopping, she currently makes her home near Houston, Texas where she writes poetry, surrealist prose, and cross-genre amalgamations and works as a professional manuscript editor. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Danse MacabreLiterary Orphans, Heroin Love Songs, Yes, Poetry, and The Rye Whiskey Review and is featured in several issues of Alien Buddha e-zine. Her first poetry collection, Hydrogen Sofi, was published in 2019 by Hammer & Anvil Books.



Lily girl, you skip up the sky and land face-first in cloud milk. It’s warm up here, it blankets, and it only chokes a little at first. Then you surrender to slow breath and clover, the blue clover of impossible springtime

You meet him by the river
That golden poet with those eyes
You offer him your lilies
He offers you a sonnet and you drink
You plan to meet again tomorrow but
The water is rising

You awaken in a peach pit with a whispering man
He calls himself death and you believe him
He worms your sonnet heart as he enters
You learn to speak insect, you carry the worms,
Feed them, let them breed

Your mother tried to find you but she’s dead now
Far too many years between the lily and the seed
You call the names of all the highways
They listen but they do not breathe

Persephone, I’m sorry
I couldn’t keep your boy at home
I couldn’t tell him of your sorrow
He would have wept himself to bone

And now we wait here for the devil
To give us matchsticks for our chores
What do we do with them?
We’ll tell you
We spell out sonnets on the floor.



seasons will change

said the sea to the stone
an impossible gray choked the sky
our hearts were lead under promise of thunderstorms
squalls lasting for days, echoing for weeks longer.

it was here we learned of metal and the
symphonies of concrete
the secrets of streets and lampposts and
loud noises and human kindness.
here we filled ourselves with smoke and copper
to burn the wick a brighter shade.

one day that familiar door will open again
and the ethereal midnight bats,
the rainbow shards of wax,
of dreams,
of youth and of being there,
will be born again in you,
in colors you can’t even imagine.



empty fluorite wishing wells
sunk in too deep to see
once I killed a sister here
the second one killed me

the first entered a hospital
heartless then was I
I made her blackened promises
refused to watch her cry

in greener years she was my smile
my lovely playground friend
wrote legendary trolls to life
with perfect scrivener’s hand

the second leapt into my path
with candles in her arms
showed me where the music hid
we danced in lyric swarms

she choked me as I held her down
she always wished me dead
introduced me to a cellar wraith
who took apart my bed

then when it was time to go
she merely changed her hair
left me bruised and colorblind
she never really cared

an ocean took her underneath
I ached then to be glad
but I missed her and I miss her still
the magic that we had

she was the force who taught me
how to love the sacred dark
to line the crystal pieces straight
turn poison into art

the stones above their silver graves
since cracked and calcified
I sit here in the fragile grass
fold memories into night

goodbye sisters, goodbye wells
our time drowned long ago
I’ll find you one day in a song
only sisters know


Ryan Quinn Flanagan
is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, 1870 Magazine, As It Ought To Be Magazine, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review. 


Clean Sweep (2)

Minus the city center –
this central spaghetti nervosa
on the stem,
simple cadaver science left to the slab;
green spaces in twitchy frontal lobe absentia,
services custodial behind the broom,
the uniform, the nametag;
something generic so you can forget
the particulars under questioning,
like shopping for a houseboat named after
some spiraling hopeless manatee that never once experienced
the scented candle control group
of tepid bathwater.


What I love about the Greek gods

is that they throw tantrums,
punch holes in the human wall
without ever thinking of the consequences;
that they lie, cheat, steal and claw
against one another all the time,
no better than the very humans
of this earth that have chosen
to worship them like a Babe Ruth rookie
in some crumb-bum sports memorabilia shop
in Yonkers run by a retired cop with gout
and bars over the window.


Gemelene Magalona

is a poetess, young writer and currently an author of two poetry books in two languages. (English and Filipino). Poetry has been her refuge and solace in the darkest times of her life. She has been writing poetry for five (5) years and lives in Quezon City, Philippines.

My Dearest Suicide,

Tonight is a playground for my delirium dreams
Where I will savor every drop of my drowning despair
Feed me the fruits of my futile fears, where it devours
This forbidden flesh, ripened in rotten rinds
Of my harrowing horrors, soaked in this blinding blackhole of these burnished bars.

My Dearest Suicide,

I hung from your chains of abandonment as I ride
The swinging pendulum of this tenebrous torture
Stitching the shards into the needle of my naked nightmares
Where scars of my skin still break in the blackened skies of this numbing nightfall.

My Dearest Suicide,

Come plunge with me into the pitfalls of my winding darkness
Let the cross of my sorrows paint the living ashes
Of my lethal bones, petrified in this holy sepulcher
As I embrace death with our blood stained sheets
Of my virgin breaths, in the wake of our eternal paradise
Buried in the October soil of my forgotten flowers.


George Perreault
has published in journals and anthologies in the US and internationally.  Recent work is in River Heron Review, The Night Heron Barks, and other places without birds in their titles.

the deer departing

a late september afternoon,
ghosts in the pines

their radar ears turning as i stare
and slip into a distance

where lynn and i would bogie
this girl we called lauren

whenever she happened past,
who once whispered over to us

maybe i’ll tell you someday
which one might want me more:

our bodies ever bodies whose dark
and sliding shadows merge at last into

supple gold and silvered limbs of aspen,
that last doe skip-gliding the verge

of mullein and thistle, then on toward
the tulles and the lake beyond:

her tawny hide, her white flag
lifting the dumb weight of the world

even small kindness

my wife looks at me askance:
picking up a hitchhiker, alone,

your age?  well, it was morning,
back road through the mountains,

wind and spitting snow and i’m
better with the passing grace,

slipping five to the homeless guy,
winter sidewalk, too tired to ask,

or a side trip to the camp sites
maybe drop a scarf, another pair

of socks, all from that letter
two weeks after the draft physical,

a country kid too dumb to play queer
or consider the conscientious out,

now gifted a 1-Y exemption, told
if charlie hits the beach at Coronado

we’ll call you in, just for some rash
that came and went, so give thanks

to the universe, but in god’s truth
it was some doc culling the fodder,

maybe drafted himself, cares enough
any excuse another momma gets to

breathe out, an anonymous kindness
that decades later opens the door

on a ride out of Cisco, weeks before
snow melt starts sliding to the river,

birch buds opening, button by button,
on the still dark porches of spring


J. D. Nelson
(b. 1971) experiments with words in his subterranean laboratory. More than 1,500 of his poems have appeared in many small press publications, in print and online. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Cinderella City (The Red Ceilings Press, 2012). Visit http://www.MadVerse.com for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.


to egg the earth one day

yubble the scratch (one talks)
not the north is a pepper

that tunnel is the lower plow to win that heck
this is the train of corn

the level is the paper of the northern head
this sad foolish noun

the heart knows a skull
the lard is the morning of the popping corn

the world is the spoon and that caramel is the north
to win a greenie of the world


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