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Alex Salinas

Italian sonnet for my ginger lover

Consider this Italian sonnet a creative expression of my love for a lady with hair so thick it shoves and stomps its way past Texas bluebonnets till it sees its lush strands with red on it and my heart enwrapped, laid bare like a rug caked with dust, dirt, bug guts and smears of blood shed from years with wrong women, doggonit. Our lunch-hour chat of self-immolation cracked a hole in our leaking souls unknown. You asked if I wanted to come over. I brought Macbeth, feature presentation. We spilled onto your floor naked and prone where we laid spent, sore, content, drunk, sober.

Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. His short fiction, poetry and op-eds have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He is the author of a full-length collection of poetry, WARBLES. He serves as poetry editor of the San Antonio Review, and holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary's University.  

M.J. Arcangelini

Lightning Within

inside vast towering clouds lightning erupts sharp, arcing, illuminating massive ethereal bulk as though concealing tesla coils deep within their wet recesses the nervous electric flashes of a mad scientist’s laboratory in a black and white horror film flickering out of the 1930s – we fly west, level with heaven, as though we were equals -
behind me and far below my mother is finally in the ground next to my father after waiting over 40 years to have a date carved in stone she joins him in death at last having been the devoted, loyal widow the whole time mourning him longer than she ever had him -
outside the airliner window the lightning doesn’t stop it keeps cracking the sky we simply fly past it racing the sunset west set from the start to lose
M.J. (Michael Joseph) Arcangelini was born 1952 in western Pennsylvania, grew up there & in Cleveland, Ohio.  He’s resided in northern California since 1979. He began writing poetry at age 11. His work has been published in little magazines, onl…

Susan Tepper

Night Time Viewing

The small room Accessible for Night time viewing Equipped with All the necessaries Needed to induce Not sleep but Intense insomnia So great The person Who occupies The small room Will reach for Their phone Tingling And will drive The lover back.
Susan Tepper is the author of eight published books of fiction and poetry. Her most recent book just out in June is a road novel titled “What Drives Men.” It was shortlisted at American Book Fest Best Book Awards. Other honors and awards include eighteen Pushcart Nominations, a Pulitzer Prize Nomination for the novel “What May Have Been” (Cervena Barva Press, and currently being adapted for the stage), NPR’s Selected Shorts Series, Second Place Winner in Story/South Million Writers Award, Best Story of 17 Years of Vestal Review, Shortlisted 7th in the Zoetrope Novel Contest (2003), Best of the Net and more. Tepper is a native New Yorker.

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner

Flashback at the Atlantic Ocean

In the cool of the evening, the Atlantic framed by my window.
Over a glass of cold vodka, I try to forget the wasted years in a foreign land.
That's how it works: one hand on the pulse of time, the other on the ass of the world.

Eduard Schmidt-Zorner is a translator and writer of poetry, haibun, haiku and short stories. He writes in four languages: English, French, Spanish and German and holds workshops on Japanese and Chinese style poetry and prose. Member of four writer groups in Ireland and lives in County Kerry, Ireland, for more than 25 years and is a proud Irish citizen, born in Germany. Published in 75 anthologies, literary journals and broadsheets in USA, UK, Ireland, India and Canada. Writes also under his pen name: Eadbhard McGowan

Kenneth Pobo

Plans to Stay

My husband remembers to buy milk before the container at home expires and he makes sure that my computer doesn’t catch whatever electronic flu
is going around.I’m not an easy guy. Sometimes I’m a pencil, the lead breaking just when you want to write a note to stick on the door for the propane dude.This could be
an anniversary poem.27 years, a couple of bluebirds, beautiful, but ready to fly away.
We promised forever.That’s not possible, so we took till death do us part.Death always finds our living room. We watch TV and eat popcorn, hold hands.Even then,
it doesn’t take a hint. It plans to stay.


Confederate Judy
On Halloween I learned I’d better not dress as Judy Garland.That would get me beat up.Why can’t a boy sing “Over the Rainbow” on a suburban street?
Instead I wore a gray jacket and told candy-givers I was a Confederate soldier. We lived in Illinois— no one blinked. A boy can be military even if he looks like a schnook kid in baggy pants—
I wore Judy in my head, belted out “The Man Who Go…

Joey Gould

A12 After a Concert 

Full after a meal we recline, this night different from a normal night in the way the cool hits our overwarm bodies.
Sated, ears popping, hardly hearing Bjork on the tapedeck singing All is Full of Love on the A12
& the radio leaves a wake of sound waves skipping over the pond.
Streetlights morph & distort Nicky’s half-sleep half-smile, Karen’s knuckles curl & cuddle the steering wheel. We listen listlessly every hard breath of soft night air we sigh.
My forehead touches the glass and melts into condensation, I am parched, but drink 2 am like I’ve been desert-crawling between panes of chilled glass.
In the dark, eighth notes scatter behind us.

Joey Gould, a non-binary writing tutor, wrote The Acute Avian Heart (2019, Lily Poetry Review).  Twice nominated for Bettering American Poetry and once for a Pushcart Prize, Joey's work has appeared in Paper Nautilus, The Compassion Anthology, Memoir Mixtapes, & District Lit. Joey's character Izzie Hexxam features in The Poetr…

Dennis Mahagin

Don’t Want Air Sickness is a walk in the park compared to  withdrawal, they say we are free to  move, to fall about the cabin.  I have a nightmare
I meet her boyfriend while standing in line at the Walgreens pharmacy;  he lets me know in low, burning tones the way she likes it, the way it was going to stay, he said, lightly gripping
my elbow like a prison guard leading a skel back to his cell. “she makes me crazy enough to bust a motherfucker,”  he says, “and you don’t want that, you don’t  want it here, right?” I shake my head, then nod, as my turn comes  at the Walgreens window;  the pharmacist slides my package 
across the counter. We hit it, that  turbulence, more and more  turbulence, yet the woman in question stays right there,  in my mind,  a kind of living grief in bas relief;  then I’m back  on the plane. We continue 
our climb. 
I whisper 
to the flight attendant  struggling in the aisle,
as she’s swaying there,  with a tight-lipped smile and her tray of drinks. I say,  listen, I say, listen I don’t want  this anym…

Howie Good

Complicity

We dance with skeletons. We steal cable. We leave violent stains on the carpet. We shift the blame to the fellaheen digging for papyri at an ancient historical site. We cross off career options. We put likeable liars in office and dark-skinned mothers and babies in jail. We go around looking for this or that clue, this or that miraculous city, without even once catching a glimpse. Rather, where our gaze just happens to fall, worse soon follows. The ground bleeds, the moon aches. Fire chews through brick walls. Ideas lose elasticity. The dreaming heads of sleepers get pried open.
Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera from Cajun Mutt Press, What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press, and Spooky Action at a Distance from Analog Submission Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.


John Grochalski

arriving at work to the homeless man who smells like urine
he sits on the stoop like a sickly shroud smelling faintly of urine
he’s huddled in black
black suitcase black duffle bag at his side
his face ghostly and pale his lips white with kidney failure
sometimes there is a beer bottle or two at his side
he sits there shivering as people walk by going to work with huge coffees and bagel sandwiches and little rolly bags trailing them like dogs
in less than twenty minutes i will let him inside where he will find a chair and read or sleep
until he pisses himself anew the good people complain and i have to ask him to leave
arriving at work to the homeless man who smells like urine
sometimes i think about how glad i am that i’m not him
but sometimes i think about how the only real choices in america are to work like a dog until you’re half-dead or to end up smelling like piss in the street
how everyone in this shithole nation is just a few bad mondays from being just like this guy
a fe…

Mike James

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Laurel Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His poetry collections include: 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 Kentucky Review, as well as the publisher of the now defunct Yellow Pepper Press. In the spring of 2020 Luchador Press will publish his 15th collection, Journeyman’s Suitcase.

Kevin Ridgeway

BRAIN MATTER

chow time came before the sun went down on L.A. County Jail, where people try to trade shots of instant coffee for fruit in order to make pruno. I had just been taken off suicide watch and had been stuffed into a yellow mental health smock for dings like us or whatever else the deputies laughingly called us. Everyone’s favorite meal was called brain matter, our tray canvasses decorated in gray hamburger and a decadent brown mystery sauce over curly noodles. We slurped from other inmates’ scraps of a kind of meat we couldn’t beat after lights out and we all passed out fat, happy and behind bars. I started to almost miss the god forsaken place in the cab headed away from downtown LA en route to the suburb where my uncle reluctantly said I could sleep on his couch. That night I had to start proving that my brain mattered more than the way I treated it with the disintegration of what I was really made of: the armor I inherited with a straight poker face and everything my father taught me in his old prison stories of bad foo…