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Showing posts from 2023

Mike James

 The River’s Architecture for Louis McKee, d. 11/21/11 The river has a shape you follow with your whole body: shoulder, footstep, and ear- those who know how to listen hear how river wind is like breath, alive in lung and line. Mike James makes his home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He has published in hundreds of magazines, large and small, and has performed his poetry at universities and other venues throughout the country. He has published over 20 collections and has served as visiting writer at the University of Maine, Fort Kent. His recent new and selected poems, Portable Light: Poems 1991-2021, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His last collection, Back Alley Saints at the Tiki Bar, was published in April by Redhawk. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Murfreesboro, TN.

Agnes Vojta

Tattoo She stands like a statue, arm raised, her wrist rests on top of her head as the artist draws with black marker on her naked body. The tree with the dragon will cover her side from breast to hip. A friendly dragon, she had insisted when they looked through the sketches. The needles of the tattoo gun etch art into her flank. She bites her lip. Closes her eyes, thinks it will be beautiful. Heart felt I put the laundry in the dryer and remember the day we strolled through the town after lunch, not ready to say goodbye. The years of absence had fallen away like dust in a breeze. Confidences came easy. We wandered into a store that sold soaps and wooden brushes. A glass jar with felted dryer balls stood on the windowsill. I told you how the dogs had claimed my old one as a toy. You picked a ball with a rainbow heart and bought it for me. I watched your car disappear down the road. We forgot to take a picture. But I smile and think of y

John Tustin

Peppermint I was walking the frozen food aisle and I saw her in front of me, Loading up her cart with frozen dinners. She was just the right height and not a tattoo in sight. Dressed in a thin jacket, blue jeans and sneakers, She turned and looked at me as I stood there And she gave me a smile before going back to her business. Her eyes were something else, as grandma used to say. I imagined she was forty years old, probably had two kids in high school or college And she divorced her husband because he was unfaithful. I imagined she was alone most nights and she painted them away while drinking wine. I began imagining a lot of things standing there While she read the ingredients on a box of Stouffer’s Lasagna. I finally turned my face away, put my head down And walked right past her. She wore size seven sneakers. She smelled like peppermint. I went to the next aisle and then the next And then I paid the cashier. I didn’t see her again. When I got to my car I sta

Chad Parenteau

Morning Talk I dreamed of a conversation boring like this one where you failed to convince that I’m not repeating mistakes. Nothing learned. No one changes. Thank me for listening. Chad Parenteau hosts Boston's long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His latest collection is The Collapsed Bookshelf. His poetry has appeared in journals such as Résonancee, Molecule, Ibbetson Street, Pocket Lint, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Off The Coast, The Skinny Poetry Journal, The New Verse News, The Rye Whiskey Review, Nixes Mate Review and anthologies such as French Connections and Reimagine America. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine.

Ken Gosse

Happily Never After His vow until death; hers, until her final breath— her mind not consigned once something inside had died. No, she hadn’t lied but stopped trying to fake it, which, for her, meant quit. Not denying that’s a death, both had bated breath. Before either died they’d find, since she had resigned, they were no longer aligned. She’d fulfilled her vow, avowing the time was now to make an ending longed for long before sending that shot through his head. Though he ignored what she said, the one became two and though neither departed, both broken-hearted, their domicile now askew, she ended their nights, terminating all his rights. His days in a daze; hers, stuck with but not by him, they lost to her whim. Each now pondered, worse to worst, whose death should be first? Ken Gosse  usually writes humorous, rhymed verse with traditional form and meter. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, he is also in Lothlorien Poetry Jour

R. Gerry Fabian

Counterfeit Consequences The voices always spew the appropriate verbiage. They encourage my participation I make my tongue slow, resistant and cautious. I travel in their numbing rhizoids. They shake my hand with reptilian cold scales. They grin with blinding white teeth soaking in clotted blood just below their gum line. I am covertly calculating. They instinctively erase their enemies. R. Gerry Fabian is a published poet and novelist. He has published  four books of his published poems, Parallels, Coming Out Of The Atlantic,  Electronic Forecasts and Wildflower Women as well as his poetry  baseball book, Ball On The Mound.

Timothy Gager

Into the Silent Sea It’s so quiet down here, so quiet you can’t hear the rage on the seawall feel the twisting turn of your stomach, the nervousness of nobody home. The moon was not full today; it was shaped like a heart seen from the bottom. light diffracted in a way that made you nauseous spun down amongst lantern fish, cookie cutter sharks bristle mouths, anglers, and viper fish, some sort of eelpout. Nobody likes you, you say to them, but you are here too, like an incredible ship sunken and abandoned. Timothy Gager has published 18 books of fiction and poetry, which includes his latest novel, Joe the Salamander. He hosted the successful Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, MA from 2001 to 2018, and started a weekly virtual series in 2020. He has had over 1000 works of fiction and poetry published, 17 nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His work also has been nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award, The Best of the Web, The Best Small Fictions Ant

Alison Miller

Going to the River with Quan He leads me on his gold chain leash and yellow harness—butter —limited edition. At the end of the three tiers of stairs where I’ve stuck half a dozen screaming stickers I nudge Quan to the right, away from the spot where I once posed as a beaver in a calendar cover photo shoot which is on the way to the spot where I tried to watch the sun rise on the foggy morning I met you and wrote a poem about it—leftover flowers and trains Quan and I walk past families trampling pine tags, post- Christmas kids crying, that one slouched spot where I saw the sun set with a weak-kissed boy, down and around my hiking trails, and past the abandoned pump house where my first boyfriend shaved between my legs with a disposable razor I put Quan in my backpack, zip him half way in and we descend the corroded ladder to a pre-teen girl who says he’s cute. Anonymous flying insects swarm a wall we have to graze to get to where the rocks read FUCK TROY. Aliso

John Dorsey

Poem for the Original Pink Lady somewhere you are frozen in time forever thirty years old & resting your head above a cincinnati pizza shop even then you seem tired or maybe bored cutting your wrists on the couch with a dull disposable razor blade as if you were knitting a sweater for nick cave out of empty mountain dew bottles & cigarette butts proclaiming your love in an angry song on the docks of billy childish’s broken heart you dance like a little girl hiding inside a burning tire. John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw's Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter's Country (Blue Horse Press

DS Maolalai

America – what a flight of strong beers on this patio brewpub in Boston a stroll from the hostel where we drank until late- night last night. America – what unbelievable novelty! and drinking again now this morning to early afternoon! there's a dog and some girls and some guys around 40, all decked out with beer- guts like tires and sunglasses. the air smells of sawdust and no decoration; that sought after bare- walled industrial style. I love it; this August, this sun like a new polished quarter. and that is a novelty also – being able to say things like that. we have some time to spend – we order for some sandwiches, eat them quite slowly. the bus leaves for Salem at 3. we are going; we intend to see all America – needing to see nothing else. DS Maolalai has been described by one editor as "a cosmopolitan poet" and another as "prolific, bordering on incontinent". His work has nominated eleven times for Best of the Net,

Anne Champion

Stigmata I never predicted my hair would be in the fist of a man who collected pieces of me as souvenirs, had a shrine with my underwear, my childhood videos; never thought I’d live in a sick man’s fantasy— so real that he felt he had to kill it; never imagined a stalker could be handsome, could flinch guiltily when I argued that parents did astonishing work fucking us up; never envisioned a stranger could kidnap an inner child so he becomes Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; never prophesied my wrists up, post-resurrection, bleeding my shames, watching strangers recoil as if before a witch. Corpse Bride In some places, girls are made to marry their rapists. This used to strike me as barbaric, until a man broke into my apartment and raped me. I imagine our marriage bed the same way a rash of suicidal thoughts migrate across my flesh like a flock of crows. What difference would it make? My bed is my coffin now; a corpse bride. If another man were to ever

Robert Beveridge

Eight of Swords (reversed) You know things have gotten bad when the local prophets have taken off their sandwich boards, stepped down from their soapboxes, and removed themselves to your armpits. Hasn’t stopped them from their attempts to spread the good word, though, no sir. In the diner when you stop to avail yourself of the ham and egg special, they proclaim the horrors of parallel parking; when you pause on the path in the middle of your jog, out they come to harangue the passersby about the dangers of burglars who break into homes, steal nothing, but leave Legos in your hallways for you to tread on as you head to the bathroom at three in the morning. You’ve consulted the authorities, but of course, they say there’s nothing they can do. None of this, you’ve found, is a huge deal until they speechify in your ear. The laundry can wait one more day. There’s just one more cookie, you can’t leave a whole box with just one cookie in it. You have a spare room, and the

Jim Dunn

The Wanting Mare Wanting more The wanting mare brings her furious desire to the water’s edge Waiting here She dips herself in Many moons of dusk A sad star frozen In the icy night Sheds tears One frozen moment Stopped in its tracks From the crescent Of the other pink moon Cassandra sings Prophecies of A watery wedding Of one mermaid To the endless sea She twists like the tide And rolls her soul Out upon the rocks In prayer An offering to the Crash of the collapsing surf Rumbling roaring in a Ballad of blue waves She sings Amongst the mists Of the day Soft sibilant and sweet Entwined like a bird to its Flight, a minstrel to his song. Jim Dunn  is the author of This Silence is a Junkyard(Spuyten Duyvil, 2022) Soft Launch (Bootstrap Press/Pressed Wafer, 2008), Convenient Hole (Pressed Wafer, 2004), and Insects In Sex (Fallen Angel Press, 1995).  His work has appeared in Castle Grayskull, Blazing Stadium, Can We Have Our Ball Back?, Bright Pink Mo

Jeffrey N. Johnson

Tramposo de Sevilla Within white washed walls, weathered stone and blue sky the Gypsies arrived unseen. I was green and little traveled, planted on a bench with back turned, abiding my time with Hemingway. He approached with dirty bare feet on herringbone brick and an open linen blouse with little tears in place of lost buttons. His wedded his palms, held to heaven, reminding me of our mutual friend, and could I not share a little of my good fortune? He tightened and contorted his back which would not work, and gestured to his mate, to misfortune and fate. She sat nearby wailing, swaying on hot stone, her mosaic of rags flowing with the four limp legs of her children, starving, a boy and a girl, one arched over each arm, mouths open. With Jake paused and Brett in mid-sentence I shuttered and searched and dug into myself, putting pesetas into his palm, wanting to return to my Fiesta. He bowed in thanks and limped away to beg others of different tongues

Jim Daniels

Half Days My daughter, thirteen, pale shred of herself, fought an unidentified infection in her spine as it softened her discs into disappearance. I’d unread that story if she were young and still listened to lullabies. After she got discharged, I set an alarm for two a.m. each night to shoot antibiotics into her port while she slept, her limp arm resting in my hand. Her return to school: half days—follow my dotted line smearing across months of sleepless breadcrumbs— at noon I idled high, anxious in the school driveway rattling off the latest test results in the zero gravity of fear. She startled me with the brittle thunk of the car door slam, then snapped at me for staring at her friends as they strolled across the street to the cafeteria, creeping them out, she said, embarrassed by illness like hard acne or a blooming hickey, wrong music or flakey hair, or the tacky middle-school jumper she no longer had to wear. I was there to drive her to

Luke Johnson

The Swell, I Did Not Know When I hit the hog it ran a mile through the thicket and fell in a foot of water —drowned. You hit it in the head my daddy said, the zombie effect.  How the body moves in death                              a dance and after the dance a knife that grooves                                              the bloated gut,                                                                                      gropes like filthy men. Believe me, he continues: even the innocent eat, son, throw themselves                                              in acts                                              of rage and reach for what the world will offer them. Later,                                     the fire                                     leaps like magic from his fingers and a full bottle                                 passed                                 like prayer. I pretend to sip. Spit to ward the spirit, divination. A warmth the body turns          

Ted Jackins

After David Berman Your acerbic wit, Gift for tragic Wordplay, And lazy croon Belied a broken heart, One you shaped To fit the frame Of the country song, Until eventually It all became too much, Your words whittled down To razor sharp Turns of phrase, Your heart exposed Wounds and all, Suicide notes In miniature, And by the time People took notice You were gone Ted Jackins is a poet and musician from North Carolina. Their work has previously appeared in Red Fez, Outlaw poetry, Museum of Poetry and Big Hammer. They are also the author of both Psych Ward Blues and Mercury, In Retrospect, both available via Alien Buddha Press.

Paul Corman-Roberts

As Below, So Above Heaven is a perv wishing they too could squeal the immaculate carnal joy release the stellar high-country shuffle coiling on sweet tar puppets say we’ve been rehearsing this pratfall for eons & so, they leak returned souls through every half-assed vortex sloughing over our deserts Don’t kid yourself about the one-way street afterlife ain’t what it used to be so below, as above You see it wasn’t merely the fabric of the walls we tore apart when we nuked the pearly gates they are coming for us the minions of a dominion we dragged to the strip club and god was never the same. Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of Bone Moon Palace from Nomadic Press (2021) and most recently the graphic chapbook The Sincere from Libran Apocaplyse Books (2022.) An original founder and current organizer of the Beast Crawl Lit Festival ( Summer Beast 2022 - Beast Crawl Literary Festival )   he currently teaches  workshops for t

Laura Cherry

Faults Sense of smell gone, most of the time, except on days of a particular grace or drug. One bum ear, constructed from scraps like a clay ashtray. Lungs that suddenly fill and close, except when sighing their great sweetness, your astonishing gift. Waking before dawn. A certain restlessness. A certain propulsion. A hunger. Casting this way and that. Even now, a wolfishness under the skin. After the mammalian tears, the clear eye of the lizard, the skittering limbs and shed tail. That head of hair, your breathless corona, shedding silver. Those devil-like brows. Hands strong and rough. All the pleasing parts of you brought to please, as to a banquet in a dream where I cannot eat so much as a single bite. The bright kind of dark. Eyes like clouds sweeping in over mountains. Now I see: I was only imagining the long spillway, the rush to beautiful nowhere, the hidden fault where the earth might split and we'd take hands and dive in. Laura Cherry is the au

F. John Sharp

Coronary on Aisle Six The EMT’s made great time when minutes count, the vise in my chest stretching seconds to eons, my will rewritten in my head on the floor of the WalMart, next to the socks. Then: electrodes, calm reassurances that don’t reassure, an IV, oxygen in a mask that doesn’t hide my face from voyeuristic shoppers and clerks on a Saturday. A gurney ride past the cashier (I never got my socks) and out the door, eyes following. I know what everyone will be talking about at dinner. A secret little part of me wishes that would happen every day F. John Sharp lives and works in Northeast Ohio. He is the fiction editor for Right Hand Pointing, and selected published works live at 

Gerry LaFemina

Post Card to Charles Wright from a Recording Studio in Bristol, Virginia Charles, today in the birthplace of country music I recorded guttural rock & roll, then crossed the double yellow line on the main drag to enter Tennessee. Then back again. How easy to move between two states. Like the drop in your low rider line: both break and continuation. Like light: both wave and particle, even as it wanes in the dwarf orchard at dusk, reducing the corporeal world to shadow. How often have I oscillated between grief and joy, how readily one becomes the other. This is why I love the prose poem. There’s hunger’s pangs and the pleasure of anticipation, too. I went for dinner in a dive bar where Hank Williams stopped the night his heart surprised him with its final struck chord, a D minor, dissonant with only a bit of twang. He hadn’t eaten there, but let me tell you, the hamburgers were to die for. Postcard to Jan Beatty from the CSX Rail Depot, Cumberland, Maryland Dear Jan, I’m thin

M. J. Arcangelini

Sunset In Chicago February, 4:30 PM, the sun slants sharp through the large, streaked, boarding gate windows at O’Hare airport. Waiting for a flight home and for the sun to leave the sky around the same time, both of us heading west. The sun will sink beneath the broad tarmac of landing strips, turning everything between us into silhouettes casting shadows. Stuck in the airport waiting for a plane which keeps moving further away, taking-off later and later, hours delayed, allowing me to pound away laboriously at the keys of my laptop trying to wring poetry from the commonplace, pull profundity out of mere inconvenience. Yawning into the glare of the setting sun. M.J.  Arcangelini , born in Pennsylvania in 1952, has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published in little magazines, online journals (including The James White Review, Rusty Truck, The Ekphrastic Review, The Gasconade Review, Trailer Park Quarterly, As It Ought To Be Magazine, and T

Alexis Rhone Fancher

Tonight I will Dream of Anjelica, My First Ex-Girlfriend, Who Taught Me The Rules Of The Road ... Anjelica comes on to me like a man, all slim-hipped swagger, relentless, dangling that red, ‘57 T-Bird at me like dessert. Lemme take you for a ride, chica, she sez after acting class. I figure what’s the harm, but Ms Angel Food gets out of hand. I don’t count on her heart-shaped ass, or those brown nipples crammed in my mouth. I don’t count on the Dial-O Matic four-way, power leather seats, the telescoping steering wheel, or the frantic pleasure of her face between my thighs. I admit, I’ve always been driven to sin. But Anjelica’s far from blameless. She rides me hard, week after week, double clutches me into ecstasy, hipbone against hipbone, the dulcet, lingering groan of our gears, grinding. When I confess the affair to my boyfriend he jacks himself off in the galley kitchen, comes all over his unattainable fantasies. He says he doesn’t consider sex betw

David Centorbi

Barbed Laughter Barbed laughter from a night of bitter parades: the holy left hanging held in no palms, genuflections to thorned spittled hearts. You heard the tears as they rolled down my cheek, jaundice and frantic. *** In what nightmare will you sleep next turning children’s eyes into cringing stones, their tongues into lonely red carpets? I asked you to pour your pleadings on the wind and scatter their rusty tears up to the sun– light of future cold and will-less destruction. *** You stood over the stillpain on the altar–cries long lost, forgotten curled fingers– and caressed the smiles of lies, stroked the silky manes of illusion. There was a fire there that had never breathed or eaten. Its orange lips cracked, the valleys holding pails of dizzy dying lovers. And you kept singing: Until the end of time, Blood, forgiveness, and laughter Will be mine. David Calogero Centorbi is writing and working in Detroit, MI.  He is the author o

Scott Ferry

sparkle there was a time when i wouldn’t notice the flash and weft of sun on water / back when i didn’t need to notice god in the wind / back when i didn’t need tangible evidence / back when i could just be unholy walking with the thunder and the broken psalms // but now i know i am broken and faithless / now i must collect each strand of light as it falls and weave it into my splayed chest / a threaded rosary keeping all the brightness in my blood / i must do this because i have to laugh with my children / because i have to show them there is music on the black waters / that there are sapphires on all of the graves sin i am falling asleep without my cpap / the middle of my body keeps opening until the feeling of being without a shell becomes soothing / the blood as a mist the bones crackling into a fine chalk / the presence inside of me now something singing / the words now a sloping breeze over the bed / but when i try to fly up the charcoal castles and canyons i fall jagged ba

Bart Solarczyk

Shaking Sticks Today a happy dog bouncing in the yard won’t allow me to consider suicide or murder the sky’s a cliché blue & it’s warm for November shaking sticks she wants to play why not? Even Light Sunbeams warm the room but skunk my bottled beer everything, even light has a downside. Bart Solarczyk  is a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, PA. Over the past forty years his poems have been published in print & online in a variety of magazines, journals, anthologies, broadsides & chapbooks. He is the author of three full-length collections of poetry including his most recent book, Carried Where We Go, available from Redhawk Publications & on Amazon.   

Rusty Reviews: Instructions for the Proper Cremation of Your Grief, by Amber Decker

Instructions for the Proper Cremation of Your Grief Amber Decker $8.99 62 pages Folkways Press 2022 I've followed Amber Decker and her poetry for some time now with respect and admiration. Instructions for the Proper Cremation of Your Grief, is a smartly produced 4-by-6 perfect-bound chapbook from Folkways Press, which  reads as well as it looks. Take as an example the poem "Coal Miner's Daughter," a dangerous title with all of its cultural associations. Decker uses them to full advantage, the details of mystery beginning to coalesce and eventually blossom from the initial lines excerpted below to the in the final two lines of the poem: "the crooked gravestones/of every small-town churchyard." I am a lover of all the dark places the headlights of my car can never touch. My empty womb is jealous of the warm orchards where the black-eyed children of Appalachia gather at night to pick apples with their skeletal fingers by the light of the moon.

Jason Ryberg

Evening Birds With the sunset comes the first of the evening birds, with their glassy eyes and piercing blue notes, bragging about all their women in the dark places of our quaint little neighborhood, the sun now nothing but a residue of pink and gold on the horizon, and the stars just now focusing all their distant gazes upon us from places that some scientists say are now just giant holes in space, that lead somewhere else. Jason Ryberg  is the author of eighteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both   The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s   and the Osage Arts Community, and is  an editor   and designer at Spartan Books. 

Gloria Mindock

Bucha A tragedy The sky turned red Blood The Russian soldiers fed With force, with guns A village now hostage They rounded up who they could Pulling them out of their houses Hands tied behind backs Screams, shots, rape, brutality Families watched their loved ones Murdered HORROR The world cries with hearts broken But does not help Sends weapons only Making victims of all of us Souls of the deceased will never rest Until freedom is achieved The broken land rejoined Standing with Ukraine The colors of your flag raised Blend in with the sky Sunflowers wilted But soon will bloom As evil is defeated Bucha, we love you Gloria Mindock  is editor of Červená Barva Press. She is the author of 6 poetry collections, and 3 chapbooks. Her poems have been published and translated into eleven languages. Her recent book is ASH (Glass Lyre Press, 2021) won 7 book awards and was translated into Serbian by Milutin Durickovic and published by Alma Press. Her new bo

Jason Baldinger

a bed of dead lizards hear that gravel bellied song that gravel bellied reply these birds foreign to me flash flickers of color unrecognized shelled by a walnut tree I sit on match sticks, splinters cows low at that side of the road sun hasn’t broke the ridgeline soon heat will reach dangerous I’ve memorized this same sky deep in the wings of night when the only sounds are cricket’s legs and the slow burn of stars as night stretches time is once again valueless it's past time to shelter crawl into a bed of dead lizards let the swamp cooler take the sting out of that thermometer or see if the tire patch will handle this sticky tarmac through one armadillo towns complete with headless bears and collapsed eaves in a roadhouse I order a gallon of sweet tea a platter of catfish let the air conditioner be my spine if luck holds beyond mark twain or the mississippi then it's keokuk the sixty-one highway disappears the ghosts o

Chandra Alderman

Mountain Ash Outside the snow thick as fog. A mountain ash in the distance. Its branches shaking from the wind and robins feeding on the berries. Crimson beads falling on snow. I think of your back, as we stand in the shower after untangling from the sheets. Everything reminds me of you. A snow plow passes by, robins scatter, autumn leaves caught in an updraft. They vanish in the snow. I close my eyes and blush remembering our warm bodies, damp from the shower, lightly touching on the bed by the window. Stanley Kubrick I’m driving home lowering sun over my left shoulder. It casts shadows of the bare trees, guitar strings pulled taut across the road. The rhythm of the car moving over the shadows takes me back to your attic. We are piled on blankets, holding each other, listening to Stanley Kubrick by Mogwai. It might have been the drugs or your gentle hands but every note whispers love in my ear. These moments, they come and find me, even in this deso

Ken Gosse

Petered Out In Neverland, they say the story’s true that Tink became outraged and very vexed when Peter whispered to a boy named Sue, “Can’t tell one fairy tail from the next.” Admittedly, the joke was very crass but told as they were exiting the can. She overheard and soon would kick his ass from Netherlands, a consequential ban. Clap all you want, poor Pete cannot return to southern comforts of her promised land. He took with him a lesson hard to learn. No fairy tale—he’s permanently banned. A pirate now, whose bitterness belays, he’ll hook and heave each ho, for false love weighs. Ken Gosse  usually writes humorous, rhymed verse with traditional form and meter. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, he is also in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Writers Club, Pure Slush, and others. He and his wife were raised in the Chicago suburbs. Since then, they’ve lived in Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Germany, and Virginia. N

John Tustin

My Day I was at a diner and after I affirmed my order I saw from the corner of my eye Something on the floor To the right of my booth. It seemed someone Shit their pants and it fell loose Over and over again As they were on their way To the shitter And it was a trail Hansel and Gretel Could easily follow, Right down the center. I saw the quick movements of the manager And the hurried movements of the employees To rectify this moment, this movement, As the smell began to come to me And I couldn’t help but begin to notice What had happened. I licked my fingers and put them to my nose And then the coffee came And I smelled that deep and true And then they cleaned up the mess Made by some poor soul in what is most certainly In worse a state than me And then all I smelled was disinfectant And bacon As I ate my omelet and my toast And my bacon. I had two cups of coffee, Stood up, paid the bill at the register, Walked back and left a two dollar tip. T