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Three Prose Poems, by Howie Good

  Meds Four gray gulls paddle about like ducks, the sky above the bay rapidly changing moods, darkening, then brightening, then darkening again, while I make my own path up the shoreline, careful despite a brain half-paralyzed from new meds to step around the conchs and horseshoe crabs stranded at low tide, too many for saving, a massacre, the water rushing away over the pebbly sand whispering to me, as though in consolation, shush, shush, shush.   Interview Questions for a Job Yet to Be Invented Have you ever demanded, received, or paid a ransom? Seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe? Spent a night in the gorilla cage? Bought a human skull on Etsy?   Shared an elevator with the eighteen smallest dwarfs in the city?   Laughed so hard you dislocated your jaw? Asked Alexa the actual color of the Red Sea? (Intense turquoise.) Been bound and gagged and stuffed in a wheelie bin? Visited a parent in prison? Shrieked like a peacock or impersonated a disreputable poet with a pointy beard and long
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Shae Krispinsky

  CONNOQUENESSING CREEK   Two days after my father died, somewhere in Center Township, we pulled off the interstate to get closer to the waterway  whose name for years I held between my teeth like a wrist, like a prayer.   Connoquenessing means  for a long way straight . The creek  twists and curls and crawls from the Beaver River through the Oneida Valley Reservoir then back to  the Beaver River some fifty-seven miles later.   Train tracks hemmed the creek where we stood, a nest of rusted railroad spikes at our feet. Connoquenessing means for a long way straight.  The current flowed without shame. Cars  passed over the nearby bridge. The late afternoon light hung   hazy and thick, a chiffon shroud. I bent down to touch  the water as one always must. The shock of the cold didn’t shock me so much. In the water I felt nothing. I stepped back defeated.   Connoquenessing means  for a long way straight . How often does meeting our hero disappoint us? It was too late  to keep the creek a dre

Mike James

 Some Things I Know  after Villon  I know the corners where good times are found  I know how to pull a hustle with a dancer’s grace  I know how to lie when I grin  I know how sunglasses hide the inward gaze  I know to say please if a collar is on  I know how to hold a rosary, say Latin prayers I know how to argue with the priest about sin I know everything, but myself  I know to walk straight with cops around  I know restaurant dumpsters, when they serve  I know thank you can be a way in I know how to make a friend for all he’s worth I know which body parts to cover with cream I know the sunrise by calendar  I know how falling in a nightmare ends I know everything, but myself  I know exits in all the places I’ve been  I know the romance stories strangers share  I know suits by the cut, can guess wearer’s age by tie  I know every bench in the park and the trees nearby  I know charm is not an always luxury  I know some plan for tomorrow as if it will last  I know Richard and Michael and

John Tustin

  TODAY MUST BE THE DAY   It’s still mostly dark And I can hear the rumble of the bulldozers That are coming to cave in the walls. They are distant but coming nearer. Today must be the day. A jet takes off from a secret location, Armed with two missiles – both bearing my name. The bedroom door vibrates as the first light comes in And things start to fall from the dresser. The bathroom sink gargles in anticipation of its death throes. Today must be the day. This place will become a clapboard house toppled, A graveyard soon paved over without a marker of remembrance, My voice to be drowned in the noises of complete obliteration. Today must be the day. I get out of bed, make a cup of coffee And look for a pair of socks to put on, Preferably neither with a hole in the toe. John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.  

Michele McDannold

  rather than being accidental   pretty sure the best laid plans mean nothing to the sharpie on your name tag to the misfitting sweater and the comes in a package underwear you are chipped nail polish broadcast-live crucifixion unfiltered by design the seed of doubt mother nature uses to reclaim the broken but there is no clean break there is only sleeping at the wheel bent a contortionist running metal burns one thing for another the shelves are stocked with gas ovens and bottomless drops   take your pick, kitten your secret is safe with me Michele McDannold has organized poetry events and/or performed poetry with a bunch of unabashed free-thinkers across this great United States, most happily by roadtrip but sometimes by plane, train or coincidence.  She currently resides in Trinidad, Colorado and spends most of her time producing and publishing books, when she’s not out killing miles with her magical jeep.

Frederick Pollack

  Call An office as tenuous as fog. Someone unpaid except in their own youth mans the phone, the computer. Never enough money, time, ventilation, coffee, understanding or patience, though the latter is total. Even the word “client” marks a defeat somewhere in deep time, a failure of relationship.  Lawyers have clients, but law here is the opponent in a perpetual judo. And is  the one crying or barely verbal on the phone, who is bleeding  (“from wherever”), evicted, hungry,  to be killed for “honor,”  guilty since birth, a client? Doctors at least have patients, but how to diagnose one who calls without power while the one who answers  has no power but answering? I who don’t belong here, tired of Grand Hotel Abyss, wanted to praise heroes, and am immature enough to imagine an armed, confident man. But all I found, all anyone can find are mice in the granary of suffering, and the advice of Lenin that, finally, revolution is an affair of clerks and accountants. Author of two book-length n

Karen Cline-Tardiff

  Friday Night I’m gonna smoke all your cigarettes,   Make you go crazy trying to   figure out if I’m really that girl   in the album liner notes   of your favorite band. You pour your beer in the trash,   refuse to drink the backwash.   But hell, it’s Friday night and   there’s more than leftover beer   in your future and mine. We think about fooling around,   but the couch is full   of passed out hippies and   covered in cigarette burns,   and shit, it isn’t even our house. I bum your last smoke   but your lighter is dead.    Kinda like tonight you joke   and I give you a pity laugh. Karen Cline-Tardiff has been writing as long as she could hold a pen. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and journals, both online and in print. She founded the Aransas County Poetry Society. She has a Kindle book of poetry, Stumbling to Breathe. She is Editor-in-Chief of Gnashing Teeth Publishing.