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Showing posts from 2021

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

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

Mr. Rogers Kills Fruit Flies, by Scott Ferry, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Mr Rogers Kills Fruit Flies Scott Ferry Main Street Rag 2020 53 pages $13 978-1-59948-825-7 Scott Ferry is a poet of lengthy breath and a surreal logic, used to reveal the intricacies of a mind gently turned on itself. The book is divided into three sections: Mr. Rogers kills fruit flies; how to cross eyelid bridge; Divination by; each with its own character and concerns. Early in the first section, narrated by historical figures in unusual situations, Ferry stopped my poetry-musing--that pleasant state wherein one thumbs the book lovingly, looking for the good word--with the beginning lines of 'Joseph Campbell dreams of war.' It started in the bathroom, mirror etched in ice,     the razor's rhetoric on jawline tearing up trees and children, and here in my home! But I cannot leave Jean unbeknown on the lanai. I look to the East, there is a mountain of bodies skinned bare like antelope. In the crater their identities cave in, obtund. The lava waves fragrant like hibiscus and

Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozabal

Star Gazing Softly gazing at the stars; If I could name one, it would be a lucky guess. To be versed in astronomy, to know just a little bit more; I only know that stars are small from where I stand. What do you want me to do? I want to decorate my room with them. I would take a point, small as a needlepoint. These are my musings tonight. It is not all I think about in this empty house, in this empty room. Often, I think about you and how I love your laughter. I am on my own tonight. There are no barricades in front of my door. But I digress, I do not take the stars for granted. Just between us, I am going to learn their names, or just one or two once each year. Luis lives in Southern California, works in Los Angeles, and has a new poetry book coming out from Rogue Wolf Press in 2021. The book is entitled Make the Water Laugh. His prior books and chapbooks over the past two decades were published by Deadbeat Press, Kendra Steiner Editions, New Polish Beat, Po

John Stickney

Lift Let us heft        the sky blue distractions           with tongue-tied hands The miniature evening sky’s        an unturned apple cart            awaits this daytime’s message Wading through patient daylight,            fragrance, song and leaf                     afternoon becomes slowly heavy the pleasure we derive         the fatigue we experience            the difficulty of holding                 these moments' interest Song who doesn’t sing in the snow the meadowlark asks John Stickney is a poet/writer originally from Cleveland, Oh, currently residing in the coastal region of Wilmington, NC.

Helen R. Broom

Phantom Mother When the children are gone to their dad’s or grandparent’s or wherever, the air in the house is still, no atoms in flux over robots, horses or Ninja Turtles. They’re coming back, for now. In the far future they’ll stop, and we will live in stasis, waiting for holiday visits, not sure what to do with the unfiltered oxygen that encases us. When they go, I will still be here, like a mother under a curtain in a 19th century photo holding her infant still, faced forward hands unseen directing the shot. Helen R Broom , (nee Helen R Peterson ), has been published in over 100 online and print journals, both nationally and internationally. She was the poetry editor of the small press print journal Chopper and the online journal The Waterhouse Review. Her first full length book of poetry, Melons and Memory, was published in 2012 by Little Red Tree Press. She is also the host and co-producer of the Poetry in the Bar Podcast and Open Mic series. Helen lives in Michig

Ivan Jenson

Star Spangled I am a half-mast flag flapping in the wind representing a fraction of my country having spent over half a century undocumented by historians living out the improv of my destiny and one day they will say that I am survived by the blinking and breathing who will cough and cry at the monotony of my eulogy and what remains of my karmic debt will be repaid where my best plans will finally be laid down in the anticlimax of my nakedness don't worry only worms and angels will know what to make of this Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and popular contemporary poet who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Ivan was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a painting titled  Absolut Jenson  for the brand’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spiritmusuem, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden.  J

M.J. Arcangelini

An Absence of Snow It doesn’t snow here, although there Are winter mornings when the frost Is enough to make one wonder, Joints grind against themselves, Skin shudders, shedding warmth. It does not snow here, though all the Leaves have vacated their perches And the naked branches hang empty Anticipating the wet weight of snow, Even though it won’t snow here. The calendar can tell me when winter Has arrived or my bones can tell me, Or the aches in muscles which never Ached before when doing those things Which no longer seem worth doing. Bones know better than digital clocks, Better than daylight savings time, Better than the holiday displays in Every store and on every downtown Street where merchants ply their trade. Snow has no power on the California Coast, it is merely a distant relative Who lives up in the boonies, sufficiently Inclined to deep suspicion of outsiders As to greet all visitors with a shotgun. My Mother Grows Old (1931-2019) She hardly ever

Super Blood Wolf Moon, by Gary V. Powell, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

Super Blood Wolf Moon Gary V. Powell Kallisto Gaia Press 2020 41 pages $12.95 Powell's chapbook is an impressive undertaking, Beginning with the evocative title, Super Blood Wolf Moon , the collection takes us through rocky pitfalls of life with wit and poignance. "On Learning of the Death of an Old Girlfriend on Facebook Before Finishing Your First Cup of Coffee" uses repetition to make its point, in a a chant or wail of sadness in which the narrator bemoans the loss of an old love while performing the odd tasks of a life, walking the dogs and remembering that annual flowers are just that: they always come back, but that she won't. Age and accident rule us all, and it's never easy to take. Another poem which uses repetition to its great advantage is a poem titled "Crowder Peas." The first and last stanzas are identical: "Remembered picking crowder peas/for the first time in years." Yet in the middle, contrary to the first poem, the narrator ca

David Cranmer

Sandpiper I run along life's shore dodging the cold spray of those surfing the same waves of past slights, real and reimagined, until the storms transform into tsunamis These champion surfers are charged by the surge of drama, never growing weary, and I've become an accomplished long-distance runner, avoiding their heavy, wet sand in my shoes. 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, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Under the pen name Edward A. Grainger he created the Cash Laramie western series. He's a dedicated Whovian who enjoys jazz and backgammon. He can be found in scenic upstate New York where he lives with his wife and daughter.

A Quiet Ghost, by M.J. Arcangelini, reviewed by Rusty Barnes

M.J. Arcangelini A Quiet Ghost Luchador Press 62 Pages $13.00 reviewed by Rusty Barnes M.J. Arcangelini's  A Quiet Ghost is a quiet revelation. Through a series of short narrative poems, Arcangelini takes us through and beyond all the stresses that come with open-heart surgery. Even the epigraph from Moby Dick from which the book's title emerges, we see already the signs of a careful poetic mind setting a deliberate tone. In "Expiration Date" a poem which treats Arcangelini's heart as a product with a date beyond which lies death, the stanza is broken up by three indented instances of the words 'expiration date'  and more later on which serve to warn us that what is coming might uh, be grim. "Spread across three arteries,/repeated, a motif, a design, a sign,/my expiration date." We can see as the speaker does later on in the poem, this doom arising to greet him as the speaker observes the doctor, . . .he had/ seen my expiration date and/ he was

John Dorsey

The Prettiest Girl in Toledo, Ohio used to wear a purple sweater & buy drinks at the bar with her father's texas oil money she had hair on her neck that she had to get removed by laser every other thursday or else she would look like a delicate werewolf to her the whole city felt like a slab of glass a pitcher of clammy beer & she would drink just enough to feel beautiful & ugly again in the same night The Prettiest Girl in Greensburg, Pennsylvania for gennifer payne reads poetry & carries a skateboard while walking past the train station she has fiery red hair & thinks the world ended in 1994 & who are you to say that it didn't. Kathy McDougal's Boyfriend says he won't wear a face mask because he just can't live in fear someone once said live free or die that's where we're lucky now we can do both. John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to S

Sentinel Species by Chase Dimock, reviewed by Mike James

Sentinel Species Chase Dimock Stubborn Mule Press 2020 $15.00 Reviewed by Mike James Early in the book of Genesis, Adam names all of Earth’s animals. Even in myth’s endless dream time, that is a formidable task. The image of Adam, artist-imagined on one of Eden’s rocks, came to mind while reading Sentinel Species , Chase Dimock’s new bestiary of poems. Dimock doesn’t name the animals. That work is already done. Instead, he either re-imagines them in unique and sometimes comical situations or he utilizes them as catalysts for introspection and discovery. The best-titled poem in the collection, “Burying my Dog Behind the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library”, illustrates how animals help to mark timelines of grand history and ordinary lives. The poem begins, “In the hills of my hometown / I have witnessed the burials / of two house cats / a golden retriever / and the 40th President / of the United States of America.” Dimock then begins to weave through a combination of public ev

Howie Good

The Bereaved Ugly, lined faces. A grimy rain coming down. The world is behaving in ways that just a short while ago I wouldn’t have thought possible. A rectangular hole has been dug to regulation depth. This is where he’ll stay. You should squeeze your younger siblings to you, tell everyone within shouting distance that you love them. There’s no word in English for a parent who’s lost a child. Howie Good's latest poetry collections are The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and The Trouble with Being Born (Ethel Micro-Press, 2020).