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Brooke Nicole Plummer

The Cold Is On Its Way; I'm Sorry I've Missed Your Calls I was under a bridge, feeling nostalgic, but the stars reminded me that the lowest form of conversation is, “remember when”. Leaves were applauding themselves in the fog. An indomitably vermilion showcase of the fleeting. If your revelations are only second best, the heavens will call you out. I thought it was a busy night, but everyone seemed to have gone away, everyone except the barley harvester from Milwaukee, whose mouth had not gone dry. We spoke of what had been done too well; the absence of disorder in what we say, in what we think, proves a shallow grave to leave behind. A damn mute of character. He told me that his blue shed was covered with withering grapevines, then mouth-missled Grizzly into the gravel. I noticed that his saliva was webbed with blood, but I didn’t point it out. It was a sign of shadow-teeth, grazing around an indeterminate health. As fickley spread as we are on these frosted gr
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Dennis Mahagin

Limerick for Kennewick There once was a kid from Kennewick who longed for a plain friend with benefits. Like trains that couple simply to live —with perfect names to kiss and sit beside—in the sweet tart afterglow of astride he longed for even the shortest of rides, and he said simply this—half to him- self, diminished, and half to the one he plain missed; the one who came through Kennewick. Dennis Mahagin is the author of two poetry collections—Grand Mal, from Rebel Satori Press, and Longshot & Ghazal, from Mojave River Press. He also works with Ellen Parker to edit the online magazine called Frigg, and he owns and operates a music store in Deer Lodge, Montana.

Sam Barbee

Eclipse A lone rooster, his swollen comb flops as he scratches and struts. Ruling only himself during the eclipse. Does he close his eyes . . . consoled by a silent roost, fear the fox skull’s yowl? He flails and tucks appetites in a retrievable place. In the false morn, you nap again beneath crimson sheets. I cool on top remembering days no sheath could separate us. This shredded place where we sleep, its bruised linens will never again invite yearning. Dawn slips past the moon. From the fencepost, the rooster sounds. Sam Barbee's poems have appeared Poetry South , The NC Literary Review , Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, Georgia Journal, Kakalak, and Pembroke Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals Vox Poetica, The Voices Project, Courtland Review, and The New Verse News.   His second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of

Howie Good

Another Word for Dystopia They kicked in the door. Your wife screamed. A few of them were wearing white lab coats as if they were doctors. The world was behaving in ways you wouldn’t have believed possible just a short while ago. With a “doctor” on each side, and the people in neighboring apartments covertly watching, you were hustled down the stairs and across the street and into an ambulance. To this day, no one will talk about what might have become of you. Everything is either too hot or too cold; nothing is soft. Prepubescent girls have dreams eight feet high and made of steel. Mad Love You’re the equivalent in French to “a crime gorgeously lit by big arched windows” and why street level drug dealers are now conniving to work their way up to roof level. Soon towns and even mid-sized cities are going to be petitioning to be renamed for you. A headline says Johnny Depp Is Radioactive, but how many people besides you know an isotope when they see one or that puddles are the autogr

Todd Mercer

Bassett Park, 1983 Sure, we fought among ourselves. Sometimes tempers flared due to friction and over-familiarity, close walls. But let an outsider mess with any one of us? Every quarrel went on hold. The persecutor faced a big problem with the entire neighborhood. United in mutual defense. Tommy Ridenour cut another boy with a knife, there at Bassett Park. Damn near bled out. That delinquent would mess with anyone, without apparent rationale. Months later police came for him on an unrelated matter, appearing in force at his door. The kid Tommy cut improvised proactively, made a distraction, cover enough that his attacker got away and over the river. Neighborhood to the Nth degree. Old School style. Todd Mercer (who writes because it’s cheaper than drugs) was nominated for Fiction and Poetry Pushcarts last year. His collection Ingenue was published in 2020 by Celery City Press. Recent work appears in Praxis, The Lake and Star 82 Review .

Tony Brown

How To Speak Of Death To Your Fellow Americans To begin with, take off your funeral suit but do not put it completely away in the back of the spare room closet. Do not forget how it looks on you and how often you’ve had to wear it. When you begin to speak, remember that some folks have never been to the number of funerals you’ve attended. Some have never been to any and will not understand a word you say but talk anyway. Some don’t believe people die as often or as unfairly as you know they do and you will not make them feel grief easily or quickly. Talk anyway; you might need visual aids. Some only see death when it’s as close as the next room so when you speak of death to them, you will have to simulate the sound of death knocking on the adjoining wall to make them understand. Some of them will smirk and speak of Darwin and some will speak of Jesus. All of these people will speak of what is right and what is deserved; most will stare you down and shout the w

Max Heinegg

Religion in the COVID Wing Waking, we see her glove the door, adjusting her cloak, light capped in the shadows of the morning ward, her bearing the proof of faith I have mocked my entire life bowing to us, frightened father & child whose fever is breaking up. What fortune she would leave the realm of light to find us here pinned to the bed, startled from a blanketed chair. Godsend The baby in the COVID wing is crying during quiet hours. Through the glass, I see the source, just sitting up, the parents on both sides attending. Knowing to be here meant it was in danger, as my child was, in our room, because a strain of the virus forces the heart to stop its own & all the insurance & human eyes on micro- scopes, & every money-driven ingenuity cannot guard, only monitor. The child’s cries did not pierce, because I believed it would live. Not for innocence, or virtue, or mercy, but for youth, a divine shield she was given that this day