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Tobi Alfier

Litany

I am mercy’s wayward apprentice.
I am the dubious truant of grace.
I kneel at the Stations of the Cross,
then climb through the shreds of a fading downpour.
I am the late sun that flames through a window.
I am a cityscape of wind through the alleys.
I am a desert highway fringed by meadows
where fields and blossoms unfold into radiance.
I am a clock that needs to be wound.
I am a cello that plays in the evenings,
ushers in nightfall’s infallible silence,
and the sweet scent of creosote in the pitch dark.
I am a love you may almost remember,
your mind lazing loose in imaginary elsewheres.
There is no amnesty for ancient sorrows,
I am the galleon, sinking, still vanishing.

Winter Tourist

Once, in another winter, in a village
by a seaside with different accents
than mine, waves crash dark against
the shore and over the breakwater,
a woman in a red coat hurries through
her realm of kith and kin:

fishermen just docked—nets and boxes
brim with still moving catches for pubs
and homes, …

Kevin Ridgeway

The Last Time I Saw My Father's Face


My father was bearded and zoned out on psychiatric medication he could not pronounce behind the glass from us in county jail, where he awaited trial. He and my mother argued over why he did what he did until he could only slur insane gibberish. The guards treated us so much like shit we could still smell it on the drive home, when we both agreed never to visit my father in jail or prison again. Neither of my parents were there when I got locked up in the same madhouse that swallowed my father whole, but it choked on me and spit me out in a demented miracle no one prayed for but me.


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 o…

Stephen J. Golds

4:48 In The Morning R.I.P Sarah Kane
It arrives
like a yellow taxi swerving into a parking lot with warped flickers in the windshield.
An insect crawling mindlessly up a concrete wall with five legs and the sixth dragging broken behind it.
The small stone trapped in between the tread on the worn soles of sneakers that are too tight.
The clerk behind the counter of the liquor store with the eyes like broken street lamps and a smile like a street fight.
The doctor in a Christmas sweater with a handful of pills but a mouth with no answers.
An empty coat on a hanger hung in a darkened window in the apartment building across the empty street.
A broken umbrella, it still seeps in, soaks and dampens these fragile fabrics at 4:48 in the morning.

Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. Glamour Girl Gone his debut novel will be released by C…

Chad Parenteau

Working Misanthrope Versus Pandemic
They stole my singularity. Back to being among, not of.
I played. I lost. I want to leave. No ball back. Home already here.
#meetoos #neveryous both rejoice, tap on my glass bubble.
No more I-love-you-don't-touch-mes. Hell is other people calling you back.
Chad Parenteauis the author of Patron Emeritus, released in 2013 by FootHills Publishing. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tell-Tale Inklings, Queen Mob's Tea House, What Rough Beast, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Ibbetson Street, Molecule and Résonance. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine. He has hosted the long-running Stone Soup Poetry series in Boston since 2004. His second full-length collection, The Collapsed Bookshelf, is forthcoming. 

Susan Tepper

Drip

A drip from the eaves into the gutter has kept me awake most of the night it's been raining my pillow is wet. I dreamt Bobby Darin came back after forty years of silence. What would Sandra Dee do finding him jigging to Mack the Knife in her living room? I miss you. Even though we never had a single intimate moment. Would you notice if I slipped away quiet for forty years.

Susan Tepper is the author of nine published books of fiction and poetry. Her two most recent titles are CONFESS (poetry from Cervena Barva Press, 2020) and a road novel WHAT DRIVES MEN (Wilderness House Press, 2019) that was shortlisted at American Book Fest. Other honors and awards include eighteen Pushcart Prize Nominations, a Pulitzer Nomination by Cervena Barva Press for the novel ‘What May Have Been’ (re-written for adaptation as a stage play to open in NY next year), shortlisted in Zoetrope Contest for the Novel (2003), NPR’s Selected Shorts for ‘Deer’ published in American Letters & Commentary (ed. Anna Rabinowit…

Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal

To Ann’s Typewriter for Anne Menebroker

Will you tell me HERE, typewriter, what you miss most about Anne since she’s been away? She’s with you still, you say. Are you SERIOUS?
The words remain. Someone still reads them and finds joy. Will you tell me more? My ears have perked up. Let it all out in typewriter speak. I am down. Tell me more. I am right here. Drink in hand, I feel so peaceful like if the ocean was outside my door and the mountains on the other side. Will you go on typewriter? The sky is crying. Rain is falling down. Can I come back again someday? You’re a lovely LECHEROUS MACHINE. Like Ann said, with a slow and greedy excitement,
you find a way to end one’s days.
Luis has lived in California for 45 years. He works in the mental health field in Los Angles. His poetry has appeared in Ariel Chart, Blue Collar Review, Kendra Steiner Editions, Mad Swirl, The Rye Whiskey Review, Unlikely Stories and Yellow Mama Magazine.

Simon Perchik

A single page, barely room
tries, almost fits its envelope
the way splinters already there

know exactly where your hand
was trying to reach - at the end
her name, all else is doubt

though once face down even you
will stare at the wood, half table
half crate leaving a place

- the letter will get used to you, stay
festering between your fingers
through no fault on their own.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, Forge,Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is The Rosenblum Poems published by Cholla Needles Arts & Literary Library, 2020. For more information including free e-books and his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com. To view one of his interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK774rtfx8

David Cranmer

The Inconsiderate
On a dirt road threading out of Port-au-Prince A man discarded alongside the ditch By thugs, former Tonton Macoute, Laid flat with machete hacks Bits of bone and brain fan out from the wound Blood seeping into the dry, dusty ground.
Our squad arrives securing the scene, Interviewing witnesses and recording the crime Two MPs stoop by the corpse, and strike a pose A souvenir picture is snapped while nearby Cordoned off with onlookers, a woman cries.
Étienne, our assigned interpreter, tells the GIs The weeping woman is mother to the deceased But they do not flinch—it is lost on them How they are treating her son’s remains Like the trophy hunters of some big game.
Years on, these soldiers would be dead too, But that day in Haiti, it was going well for them.
David Cranmer is the editor of the BEAT to a PULP webzine and whose own body of work has appeared in such diverse publications as The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, LitReactor, Macmillan’s Criminal Element

Richard Fox

Rudy Dog and me
Blood in Rudy’s diarrhea. Again. Standing, he rocks. Tail glued to anus. Fifteen years threaten to topple him.
I stroke his back, trace each spiny ridge. My hand nestles his rib cage,  supports legs that crumble from caress.
I lift him into my arms,  palm cups his bottom. He jerks his head away. My chin, a hazard? His nose searches. He nuzzles my beard.
Rudy and me, we’re mates crawling the same arc. After my chemo, he curls next to my chest, a sentry for a decade. We share his purple blanket.
Aging, disease disrupt the fulcrum. Must help him up, down from the couch. Cuddle him when confusion mars his face. 
We sense our debility, the erosion of awareness. Gastric attacks leave him more brittle. Infusions wither me irreversibly.
I wonder, should we pose beneath the purple blanket? Me, holding his rear paws? He, snout balanced  on my shoulder? Let sleep bless our arrival. 
When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, Richard Fox focuses on cancer from the patient’s point o…

Susan Tepper's Confess, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Susan Tepper Confess $8.00  ISBN:978-1-950063-38-3  21 pages Cervena Barva Press
Susan Tepper's Confess is a small intimate gathering of reflective poems from Cervena Barva Press published in 2020. One of the many problems with collecting a group of poems is that you have to decide if you want a book with some unity, not a miscellany. Miscellanies are all right, certainly, and they comprise most books of poetry printed today, but you want another unifying factor. The title CONFESS  lends itself to the illusion of forward momentum. What is the narrator confessing, and to what end?
"I come to you broken/have been trying to say/all that is not the way/it shows on the surface," the narrator says opening the first poem. They follow this statement up with a nostalgic description of an old photo as an illustration of exactly how broken they are, with the placid surfaces of the photo's subjects--Victorian women--undermined by the fact that the narrator has baldly told us they'r…

Ryan Quinn Flanagan

For a Very Tall Gentleman who does Not Fit in Elevators

ever wondered what the rodeo would look like if horses rode people through the streets really whooping it up? it is nice to think of the master race as a thing of the past the same way cable cars are only dragged out for nostalgia children thrown into schoolyards of hate like tiny grass shoots into the path of summer lawn mowers the blade is the same to us all why so many shave with such care before putting a loaded gun in their mouth and I know this very tall gentleman who does not fit in elevators he works in a drugstore downtown, drinking up all the cough syrup on break and it is good to pass the time, what else can be done with it? meals planned like executions, the necessity of sleep turned to dreams; a phonebook on the floor with many numbers in it.
Ryan Quinn Flanaganis 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 onli…

Drew Pisarra

Erbium

For lack of anything better to do at 4:30 a.m., I decided to break out the Ouija board to see if we might reconnect so that you could tell me where I’d flamed out for from the looks of things, life’s burned to ash. Is it common to cling to a past that did not last? I would ring you up if you were still alive. You’re not. You know that better than I. What we’ve got are A through Z above zero through nine, the words yes and no, plus the phrase good-bye. So… Are you game? Shall we give it a try? Calling Keith, I mean Ken, or was it Carl? I forgot your name whoever you are.
Drew Pisarra is currently at work on a series of sonnets inspired by the Periodic Table of Elements, a project funded in part by the Cafe Royal Cultural Foundation. His first book of poems, Infinity Standing Up, was released in 2019 by Capturing Fire Press.

Howie Good

In Case of Fire

The seamstresses bend to the demanding work of sewing mouths shut with curved needles and fire retardant thread. And why shouldn’t they? The only words anyone ever truly needs have all been cannibalized for parts. It’s the reason I carry a lot of photos in my phone. Still, if someone announces, “I think I’m going to kill myself,” you should take it seriously. I’ve been lingering for a while now very close to a volcano with a beautiful name.



Whiteness of a Different Color
This feels like the worst place you could possibly be. There’s just barely enough room in the outdoor holding pen for everyone to stand. Cameras survey faces for unconscious signs of hostility. “Government,” a tearful 11-year-old girl pleads, “please show some heart.” It’s been a long day and an even longer night. Time doesn’t pass so much as flop around. A mother with two young children clinging to her skirt crosses her arms in a vain attempt to hide her trembling. You have no real chance of escape. The …

CL Bledsoe and Michael Gushue

January
January stumbles in with a pained whisper, hungover mornings and cold feet on hardwood. It's not the failure of good intentions we look forward to. It’s the steady reminder of dust falling on the tongue. This year, I'm going to get in shape so I can break every heart that ever broke mine, get rich and buy the bank that owns me, find the volcano with the elevator that goes to the center of the Earth, where the giant ants live. They have the best coffee and sweet rolls.  Everyone knows that. When the sky falls, it's easy to find malleable chickens under all the rubble  and hope that they've learned something useful  from the pressure. Until then, it’s a matter of waiting  for the splinters to attack, when all the tweezers  have gone dingo. What’s that ahead? Desert,  then jungle, then more desert, then a rest area  in the shape of a pumpkin that only sells plastic  daffodils that smell like your mother before she died. At the door the bouncer looks you up and down. Shakes  his head. …

Brian Rihlmann

We, The Feeble Minded
Just so you know we already feel useless like shriveled acorns dropped on the sidewalk even before you grind us under your heel before you scream at us—
“take root... and grow already!”
even in rich soil we’d be stunted maladapted growing along the ground huddled from the wind
it’s a good thing not too many of us have kids to fuck up the gene pool, right?
we’re doing you all a favor by making ourselves extinct like tribal elders who walk out into winter storms as the food supply dwindles
call it compassion you’re welcome
Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry, and has been published in The Blue Nib, The American Journal of Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, and others. His first poetry collection, “Ordinary Trauma,” (2019) was published by Alien Buddha Press.

Nathan Graziano

Born on Good Friday

I skipped the noontime mass on Ash Wednesday, my forehead unblemished by the priest’s thumbprint.
I ate seven meatball subs for each day of Holy Week while any good Catholic would’ve been fasting,
snuggling up with their hunger pains, constipated. Instead, I held The Last Supper in my own kitchen.
Judas was drinking my beer and belching his prayers while Paul lost at solitaire, aching for a corndog.
A commercial for Catholics Come Home came on the television between innings of the Sox game.
A clean-cut Christian guy, sober and fat, attested to reconnecting with Christ, like a Facebook friend,
and it changed his life. Meanwhile, in a still-frame beside him, there was a picture of a slovenly man,
thinner with mustard on his shirt—the former heathen with bloodshot eyes and hair like weeds around a crucifix.
“There he is,” I said to Peter, who was strictly a pothead. “He’s our thirteenth apostle, and he’s bringing the ham.”
But we all realized that thirteen was an unlucky number, an…

Gabriel Ricard

Liberation at South Vanderton Beach

There’s no shame in going to the beach with a potential loved one, and trusting them enough to bury you up to your neck in the sand, and leave you there overnight.
It’s only a problem if you keep doing it, and keep acting absolutely stunned that it keeps going down in the exact same way.
If she bites off the more stressed-out parts of your forehead and eyebrows, tells you to strongly consider praying for a sudden oceanside hurricane, and leaves with your wallet, you need to decide then and there if this is really the best way to find someone who can guide your heart, without wrapping theirs up in cheap scotch tape.
Do you really think so?

Then go ahead, and keep your weekends free through the duration of the longest endless summer any of us have ever known.
Just try to act like that stupid look on your face is something you’re working on for yet another one man show about yet another aging white guy who thinks its more relatable for the audience when there isn’t a drop of per…

Robert Pope

Hitting

I do not know how many times my father hit me with his hand or kicked my backside. Oh, there is more than this to say about my father, but this is the time to say he swung at me in the backseat, a boy no more than eight, struck glancing blows. I had laughed, it bothered him.
At thirteen, he sent an engraved, silver lighter whizzing past my ear as I fled a growling anger, imbedding in the solid wooden door, sticking there instead of in my head. Fifteen, he struck me with the back of his hand because I flinched as he reached in his jacket, kicked the back of
my legs for infractions I could not comprehend. He broke yardsticks on my back, swung his belt at me after whipping it around his waist. Each time he struck the impact reverberated through the years. If the air is right, I feel the stinging on my face or head, not all I have of Dad, but part.
Robert Pope has published a novel, Jack’s Universe, and a collection of stories, Private Acts. He has also published many stories and pe…

Gary Glauber

Little Cherub
The boy seems to know far too much. He’s young but seems less than innocent, an old soul I wouldn’t have trusted even in some earlier incarnation.
When I see him at the public pool, doing things no youngster should do, it makes me crave a strong drink.
Beware both baby and bathwater; beware everything you can possibly think.
Whiskey hits gullet with fire, reminding me of all that I love and desire to protect, now and always, to never forget.
In church, he looks heavenly in white robes, little angel incapable of evil, dreaming only good. Altar boy altered, knowing open hearts make easy targets.
His secrets are troubling, what occurs behind the giggling. His private hell is burning beside lessons he’s not learning.
When fire catches into flame your children will be safe again, when all I loved before today catches wind and melts away.
Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. He champions the underdog, and strives to survive modern life’s absur…