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Showing posts from 2020

Melissa Eleftherion

  swallow erasure flashing white underparts the violet swallows the tree dark breast of diagnostic erratic abundant all rump and face all hard for the flight itself perch of throat & siren Melissa Eleftherion (she/they) is a cis queer human, a writer, a librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & numerous chapbooks, including little ditch (above/ground press, 2018) & trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa created, developed, and co-curates The SFSU Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange with Elise Ficarra. She now lives in Northern California where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at .

Timothy Gager

New York Confession New York was hard to find only if I pealed the onion, I can pray for sleep to overtake the stumble, into place and stumble out, never saw what’s in front of my face: Life’s jugglers, clowns, the beat masters of three card monte, I won then the stakes got higher in a city of nightmares, morning, afternoon, night feel like different places unless troubled, they merged into one, I was awake through all waiting for the city to let me go forced to sing myself to supper by climbing the highest mountains the trees in The Village. On 2nd street, and Avenue C I was lost, even with obvious nomenclature of the corner smack in the middle in the intersection, my arms stretched out, Jesus, 4 AM, begging for crucifixion. Timothy Gager is the author of fifteen books of fiction and poetry. His latest, Spreading Like Wild Flowers, is his eighth of poetry. Timothy hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in was the co-founder of The Somerville News Writers

Jeff Weddle

And So It Goes Naked and forgetting the safety of sheets she stands by a dirty window of dead flies and open curtains gazing at the half-empty parking lot. A young man walking to his car fails to notice her accidental gift of beauty his mind caught on the one he has abandoned in a different room while her puzzled lover asks again why she has left the bed and the young man starts his car and pulls away with no idea where the night will take him and she says aloud she is not sure why she was ever there at all. Visiting Home  On the church steps with grey and purple clouds and the night songs of animals cars going somewhere with their lights and noise fireflies and a man running as my father back at the house is caught in a failing body barely able to move in his ancient black recliner and my mother watches him for signs of need but seeing none settles on cleaning his denture in this last bit of smoke when we are all still a

Steven Breyak

Netflix and Chill We used to know the best restaurants and everybody in them. We knew every party and everyone knew our names. Now we sit and watch the newborn as if his crib were a TV we can reach into and feel the warm pressure of new stories grabbing hold. And just that is so much bigger than anything until now. That me before this is someone I know, I remember, but not me. I expected to grow into this role. Instead a moment ticked by and the software had changed. Every thought is now a father’s thought. And this is just a tease to what it must have been for you. Thread by thread building in you, tearing through you while all I could do was wait, absorbed in all I couldn’t do. And now this little creature plugs into you, feeds from you. Our lives’ spin-off. Months later, while I video his first bites of mashed banana, as you hold him in your arms you’ll cry for this beginning, this end. When I ask, looking through my screen, if you’re crying, I’ll hear that I’m

John Riley

A Hundred Thousand Rivers He went to sleep in a dream seventy years from The War sleep walked like a stranger into the swamp dead he swelters behind the rusted screen door watching the dunes change shape in the half-light before the storm disorders them and tomorrow arrives with nothing to persuade no arguments to make sweet bourbon the only solace cold water showers and palmetto bugs leaving eggs in his mouth The Atlantic Ocean had not been decisive bouncing over the waves in transport last girl's squeeze a song hidden from the water thinking of where his mother hid the silver the solid gold chain she wore entertaining guests with their lifeless murmurings good times will return for us good people she said preparing him for war he wants that silver now he'll turn his back on the prancing ocean walk the soft sun-battered road to the city trading salutes with the dinghy captains the trumpet player the chronicler wearing the new white shoes John Riley

Howie Good

Flash Bang Boom With the encouragement of family and friends, I adopted a retired bomb-sniffing dog. I called him “Flash” – after the flashing lights of a migraine, I would joke to anyone who asked. One day he discovered under the couch the severed head of a doll I didn’t even know I had. Next the piano stopped making sounds when I sat down to play it. Then the tree outside my window appeared suspended like an astronaut in space. Now I often catch the dog lying on the couch studying me with cold, squinty eyes as if calculating exactly how much a person can bear. Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Steven Croft

Day One After the roller-coaster dive out of the sky I remember that step off the C-130 ramp, jogging under generator lights, with the staccato of gunfire going like a movie soundtrack:  Baghdad International Airport Under Attack .  Waking, head on duffel bag, dawn’s light painting the mud brick building beside me, the major tells us thirty insurgents are dead just beyond the building I’ve spent my first night against.  Soon after, “prepare to move,” and we walk into this country, the weight of a year in my chest. KIA “Sergeant Edwards is dead,” As I awake before dawn, in the long tent’s double line of metal beds, I hear two soldiers already up and in uniform say it, “Sergeant Edwards is dead.”  I know it’s true.  He had just come to me to talk, but that was before I slept.  I don’t want to rise up, dress, walk down as they move along the aisle, to find the details.  And blessedly, in this moment I cannot rise – my body won’t move.  Hours later, I read, “

Scott Ferry

Grammomancy: by writing individual letters Letters, left alone, like bare numerals, infarct, sew chords into themselves as a symptom of hunger. No phone, no internet, almost as tragic as no family. A sea squirt can rewrite its entire body with just a fragment of blood vessel, a long vowel, maybe oo, or even oui. A Ouija board only points to one letter at a time. Then it becomes possible to piece together meaning from a string of swift stops. But I never ask the planchette specifically when I will die. And I have been warned to never touch the plastic disk alone. They can take over. There have been isolated instances of plates and shoes streaking across rooms to strike doors. Who are they? Are there theys watching behind a screen for a single fingerpad to graze the small sliding heart? And why would they be honest with my future? Would they see a slideshow of isolated strokes, peppermint chocolate spilled on the cracked dashboard, sunscreen smeared after t

Bart Solarczyk

Tami Every inch a mile & every clock eternity I miss you, I stay drunk I’m on my way.  Three Months Now The side of my neighbor’s house looks like a yellow brick skull with a green hedge beard & dirty window eyes  it watches past the driveway watches me drink backyard beer watches while I kiss  the silver pipe watches like it knows something  I don’t but I do gone three months now she’s not coming back.  Purple Hair & Podcasts                        (for Ne’Cole) Pain shapes our paths  in ways we’d rather not walk  yet we arrive voices breaking air still sexy. Bart Solarczyk lives in Pittsburgh

Matt Dennison

Ferlinghetti Spoke Twenty years old, sitting on the sidewalk in front of City Lights Bookstore after many days of Greyhound and train, an oldish-even-then man in that beard and cap said, "We don't open 'till ten," as he stepped past me and closed the door. And I waited a while but eventually left. What's a journey of two thousand miles when hunger is everywhere? Matt Dennison is the author of Kind Surgery , from Urtica Press (Fr.) His work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made short films with Michael Dickes , Swoon , Marie Craven and Jutta Pryor .

Mike James

Ted Berrigan’s Sonnet I, Erased       sleeping hands                                     which play         for warmth still       among             sleeping                                   fragments Ted Berrigan’s Sonnet II, Erased                   hello      books      the day is bright  feminine          the sun      up                           late to work                                         I should know better Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee and has published widely. His many poetry collections include: Red Dirt Souvenir Shop (Analog Submissions), Journeyman’s Suitcase ( Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle) , and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentuck

Gale Acuff

Discovered I'm carving my initials on a tree with a pocketknife my father gave me yesterday. My first tool. My first weapon. I'm leaving a hint of who I am here by force. I'm not killing the tree but what was that cry I just heard? Probably just a bird but it's a new one on me. Crow? Pigeon? No and no.  GA --that's me, or part. I know who I am but if someone comes through these woods and doesn't know me then he won't know I cut these clues. But he'll know why, I suspect, and that's enough: as if I've put my mark on Nature--my copy -right. Yes (mean my initials), I own all you survey. Not just this one tree but all its brothers and, by extension, the earth and sky, bushes and briars and flowers, birds and squirrels and stray cats and dogs and whatever other creatures wander through, including the character who pauses here and finds the owner of this forest. Not that he would know where to look. Chance

Sarah Sarai

The Antichrist's Mad Skills      on The Omen Don’t lie to your wife, Gregory Peck. That unholy son is a doozey. Hormones are scheming delivery mechanisms of the Devil and yet Lee Remick is delivered. To England! Remind me, has the cake been served? Nanny ties her noose for you! Damien appears morally ambiguous. Honors the child-mother bond of comfort and hate, tricycling Mom to hospital. Photos. Mystery mark of death. You got it, you goner. Nanny murders. Peck battles. There is no happy ending unless you favor fear, as I do. That red-eyed coot keeps me company most nights. Sarah Sarai ’ s poems are in  DMQ Review ,  Mom Egg , Zocalo Public Square ,  The Southampton Review  and many other journals. Her second full-length collection,  That Strap less Bra in Heaven, was published by  Kelsay Books. She doesn ’ t think clouds are lonely. 

Tim Suermondt

JOB HUNTING I’m overqualified for this. not qualified for that. And when I inquire at the local pizzeria the manager says, “Tim, I can’t hire you. You’d eat most of the pies before anyone else could get a bite.” I buy a small pepperoni pizza, twirling the box over my head in my apartment’s kitchen, aping the way the old pizza makers used to treat the precious dough. The sun trickles through a light rain, the first slice I take shines. A PHOTO OF MY WIFE WHEN SHE WAS A TEENAGER You can detect the determination even then and you swear you can hear her about to declare “I love you, Hong Kong, but I’m leaving for good”— her lips savoring the words she’s always wanted to say. Unseen and a number of streets down on the right her father is returning from work, stepping off the ferry, passing the fishmongers clustered like star snappers from one end of the pier to the other, a light rain sizzling under the hot sun, and a number of stre

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

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, Trail

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

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 Parenteau   is 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’ pub