Monday, February 29, 2016

Ace Boggess

Depressive Episodes

She buries herself in murk & lonely earth
like a mole streaking to hide from footsteps.
Mole is also another word for spy,
like Aldrich Ames trading secrets for the lie of money
instead of the competing lies of flags.
Spy serves as synonym for see,
as in: if we could afford it,
we’d travel to see the tulips at Les Tuileries,
an unmanned rocket burning on its pad,
the world’s largest ball of twine,
an execution, though we don’t agree.
But, see as well means prophesy,
a fancy way of saying fear the future,
which she does, which is why
I want to tell her all will be right.
She’s built herself a grave for midnights &
sleeps in it as though the dark she wears
like a casket shell is the sole safe place
on this bastard of a planet where she lives.

* * *

How I Knew Charlie

He threw his crack pipe on my dashboard,
leaned out my window like a dirt-blond cocker spaniel,
howling at the women we passed. This was after
he held a hunter’s knife against my throat

because his mother sold me pills, & he wanted to be the one
to score a few bucks, to run the show.
Chaos business was the biggest brand in any parking lot
behind some hick bar so unknown its name changed twice a year.

How many strangers shook my hand with a baggie in between? &
Charlie? Last time I saw him, we were both in jail:
sober, muted. I read in the paper
how he robbed a woman for thirteen dollars,

threatening her with a broken bottle
That was Charlie: coked up, drunk,
small-time with ambitions, stupid-crazy like a spider

drowning inches from the slippery cyan wall of a swimming pool.

* * *

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). His novel, A Song without a Melody, is forthcoming from Hyperborea Publishing. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jessie Carty

The Fourth Dimensional Flea Market

There’s a white, round, taped-down sticker on my mother’s gravy boat. $12. I’ve seen it, in other universes, for 10. 15. I don’t always buy it, but in this world, I collect my mother’s Pyrex pattern: green with white daisies.

From another vendor I negotiate $10 for a $20 framed crochet of a rainbowed snail.

I buy a rusting birdcage because in one plane I had a cockatiel when I was nine that never learned to talk.

While the seller is making change, I pocket a pair of webbed earrings, complete with dangling spiders, because in every dimension I find a pair to steal.

On most I sneak them back onto the shelf.
On most.

* * *


You are too early for the movie so you watch the concession stand.

You think the little girl, who can’t stand still, will ask for Fun Dip; for the activity it takes to obtain the sugary powder from the pouches with nothing more than a candy based chalky stick.

The big guy by himself will want to upsize his combo, but he'll stick to his small diet coke and a soft pretzel.

The girl on her first date will ask for the freshness of Junior Mints even though she’s craving the Butterfinger Bites because she knows chocolate would be messy and she's wearing pale yellow. Her date will decide on a tactile treat: Twizzlers.

You haven’t decided what you’ll have, but you hope they have tea. And maybe you’ll add a medium popcorn, denying your desire for the round satisfaction of a large tub.

You can already feel the rhythm of piece after piece of the popcorn carefully selected and placed on your tongue. The salt. How your pace quickens as you reach in for handfuls, noting the sandy sensation of the bag, nearly empty, before the trailers are even done.

* * *
Jessie Carty is the author of seven poetry collections which include the chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012) which was a finalist for the 2011 Robert Watson Prize and her newest full length collection Practicing Disaster which was published by Aldrich Press in 2014.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dave K

there are so many ways to say ‘fundamentally unemployable’ at great length

the window reflects my open mouth and
i line up the cars with my teeth as they
surround the black tongue of the street

on busy nights they pack into the gumline
grinding and scraping and exchanging plaque

one time a guy ran out of his car
left the hazards blinking
and jumped into oncoming traffic
the decal on his back windshield said FLORIST
his license plate said NHLST with the vowels missing

he was jutting halfway out of the space
he would never fit and he knew that and
now it’s someone else’s problem

an impacted kind of wisdom, this

sometimes it’s like my brain is a dick
and my skull is a fist and my blood is
gushing from all the holes in my head

i still keep one of that guy’s teeth
in my wallet when enough of mine
fall out i’ll make it fit
this is my gift to him

* * *

for whom the Chris Tolls (dedicated to Chris Toll)

why is work in twerking? that
shit is supposed to be fun.
who put the manslaughter in
laughter? wait, reverse that
one or it won't work.

i see trenchcoats flapping like
sheets on a line and a whole
Chekov's arsenal of guns unfired.
there is more ado in an avocado than
about nothing.

i scrape plaque from my teeth with
my fingernail and wish i'd brought
some sunglasses.

i can't see through all this light.
there is too much cum in this
cucumber for my taste.

we have about a billion years left.
that's not as long as forever.
someday the sun will die
and its last rays will wrap
around the earth and its final
words will ride on stellar winds
i'm sorry
i'm sorry
i'm sorry
i'm sorry

* * *

Dave K.'s work has been published in Front Porch Journal, Welter, Writers & Words, Artichoke Haircut, and Cobalt, and he is the author of stone a pig and MY NAME IS HATE. When Dave K. isn't writing, he spends his time as a tributary of the Bobu River in Romania.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Ed Madden

After long silence

My father is a puzzle box. He’s a map folded up.

The nurse says he has something to tell me.
He stares at me, but never tells me.

My mother is a vase tipped over.
Daylilies bloom one day, and each day is another.

So many vases left over after her accident,
stacked in the closet, like empty wrappers, like magic.

My father is a shrunken head and a blanket.
What do you want to say, old man, that you haven’t said already?

Outside, a skunk or something shuffling on the carport, the light is on.

My father is a box of lamentations, unsaid.
My mother is a blue jar.

Listen: my mother’s soft snoring, the daylilies furled in the dark.

* * *

Field guide, after the floods*


In March, when we got the diagnosis, drove him home,
there were redbuds in bloom along the road,

out back where the barn fell,
in the front yard, covered with poison ivy we can’t kill,

and buckeyes coming up along the ditch, shoots
like red fingers, new leaves red as bruises,

and dock leaves along the road like tongues.


Where the Stitt house used to be: hyacinth, vetch,
and everywhere dead nettle.

At the woodpile: leather flower.  Under the cypress: dayflower.

Out back: henbit and wood sorrel,
cut-leaved primrose, skullcap, dog fennel.

In the fields, buttercup and vetch as the floods receded,
and later, as the plows began their business, something we’d never seen:
bear tracks. My cousin took a photo on his phone.
Days later, the newspaper reported two bears hit and killed on local roads.
* * *

Landscape, with levees*
           ‘If this is the middle, how long does it last?’
                                Luisa A. Igloria

Yesterday, they put up levees in the field
across the road, the new rice a green sheen,
the levees ready for what’s to come.
When I drive to town, I leave the windows
down, drink in the smell of well water,
metallic, cold. We think we’ve been close,
but can’t know. That weekend he was away 
from us, his eyes glazed and moving around
the room, his hands picking at the blanket, 
his feet twitching, jerking beneath the sheets.
That morning he couldn’t breathe.

Since I’ve been here, the floods have receded
from the fields, the men and tractors taken
over—landplanes leveled the field for the coming
rows, a red Case IH and a huge
John Deer pulling the yellow planes,
the long silver blades across the field.
Disk and plow have turned stubble under,
and weeds, the trees along the ditch filled out
thick and green. The river stalled a while,
so much water coming down the ditch
it ran backward for two days, but that’s passed.

The nurse blames the moon for dad’s moods,
says there was a solar eclipse the day
he decided to die, though all his vital signs
were fine. That night he said goodbye, leaned back
in bed, and waited. Nothing happened, and he was
mad, the next morning, that he hadn’t
been taken. I’m still here? Outside we could hear
the tractors starting on another field.

* * * 

Born and raised in rural Arkansas, Ed Madden teaches at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of three previous books of poetry—Signals (USC, 2008), which won the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize, Prodigal: Variations (Lethe, 2011), and Nest (Salmon, 2014). His poems have appeared in Prairie SchoonerCrazyhorsePoetry Ireland Review, and other journals, as well as in Best New Poets 2007The Book of Irish American Poetry, and Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry, and online at the Good Men Project. In 2015 he was named the poet laureate for the City of Columbia, South Carolina.
*"Field guide, after the floods" and "Landscape, with levees" originally appeared in The Arkansas Review. All three of these poems are from Madden's collection Ark, forthcoming in March from Sibling Rivalry Press. About the book:  In a spring of floods, a son returns to rural Arkansas to help care for his dying father. A difficult and beautiful book about a father’s death from cancer, Ark is also a book about family, about old wounds and new rituals, about the extraordinary importance of ordinary things at the end of life, about the gifts of healing to be found in the care of the dying.  At once a memoir in verse about hospice care and a son’s book-length lament for his father, Ark is a book about the things that can be fixed, and those that can’t.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Chris Fullerton

Tones of Home

A black-tongued boy eating dirt on the side
of the house with a plastic spoon from a yellow

metal dump truck, A yellow-haired girl standing
in the park beneath a gray sky with a broken kite 

dangling from a twisted dead oak tree, A graying
man leaning against the brick façade of a downtown

building drinking two dollar wine from a bottle
in a brown paper bag, A brown-eyed saint, head

in hands, feet buried in the white sand of a beach
at dawn frigid from a February wind next to a smoldering

bonfire, A borrowed white car loaded down with black
garbage bags in the middle lane of an eastbound interstate,

They’ll say that they miss you,
but they never actually notice you
until you’re already gone.

* * *

Know Your Surroundings

There’s a barn behind
the new house
(not a barn, but a barn-like shed)
gray wood to match
the afternoon storms
empty, save for a stray
scorpion and a leftover
can of wood-stain.
just beyond,
a field of pine seedlings,
the cusp of sequestration,
silence permeates
the neighborhood
every third house
empty, a community
foreclosed and liquidated.

The plywood floor creaks
beneath my weight,
stepping carefully
like a trespasser,
imagining the possibilities
of creation
or destruction, planing
pine into a table
or a makeshift coffin,
was central Florida
ever the “new frontier”
more than it is
right now,
cloaked in loneliness
I feel limitless
as the afternoon rain
begins to fall.

* * *

Christopher Fullerton is a writer living with two friends, four dogs, and a tortoise in San Antonio, Texas, but he's still never been to the Alamo. He keeps forgetting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Julie Fisher

Quija Board

I could be the wine left on your lips.
You might be the urge of my planchette.
I trace the edge of your scar
in the dusk of my daydream.
Behind your gaze I glimpse your dervish
contained by centrifuge of will.
It’s this whir under your voice
that whisks me near you.
It’s your blur I want to decipher.
Pour me into your goblet
I will just barely lay
my fingers on your surface.

* * *



Dad often tells me
he drinks
because life is boring.

I suspect it is why
he waits.
His thigh tumor
is tangerine-sized
when he has it


Surgeons remove three
of his quadriceps.
In rehab he begs me
not to unwrap
his latest painting
before we burn it.


A slow somersault
of breast feather
kisses yellow line.

I glance backwards
to a hawk corpse
in the zipper of traffic.

I lift the warm red tail
away from worn asphalt
to a clutch of twigs
like Dad’s wasted legs.

* * *

Julie Fisher instigates communal literary experiences at LitMore, Baltimore’s Literary Arts Center (, which she founded and manages. Her chapbook Skittering Thing was published by Furniture Press Books. She believes in magical beings and sacred places. In her bones, she knows we create ourselves as we tell our stories.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

David Taylor Nielsen

5 Blackjack Poems*

You just wouldn't understand
Unless you jumped in the air
With your briefs outside your pants.

* * *

Insects have the right idea:
Adolescence is best spent
Isolated in cocoons.

* * *

ADHD poetry:
I would explain it to you,
But I've moved on already.

* * *

I donated a kidney.
It was the only way that
You would let me inside you.

* * *

She wants more than he can give:
Butterflies, rainbows, puppies,
Occasional orgasms.

* * *

*Blackjack poetry is a form that was invented by Maritza Rivera in 1999. It consists of 3 lines of seven syllables each or, less commonly 7 lines of three syllables. There are no thematic or stylistic restrictions or norms to this form.

David Taylor Nielsen is currently the host of Poetry Night Open Mic in Greenbelt, MD. He can also be found haunting other open mic poetry readings in the DC Metro Region. He has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, and Three Line Poetry.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Matt Sadler

North by Northwest

On a hike we encounter
the ruin, a single raised wall
blocking our view of the sea,
we cross the threshold hand in hand,

a dead love married in a dead
church, the ceiling pure blue sky
sacking the brick crumbs and
the old stone cross

is a wonder of the past
the firework grass threatens
to swallow.

This is the North Sea, county
Antrim, and the girl is radiant
in a blue dress dulled to shimmer
by that sky. And this is a

memory, the future of the past,
the hazel wand lost
in the thicket of hazel.

And the girl is a ghost, tired
of wandering around in my
story for no good reason,
looking at the ghost white

sheep dotting the hillside
between the raised scar beds
of old stone walls.

* * *

Night at the Museum

Trying to be an honest father, I wrap myself in the tree wrap lights and suffer only minor, inconsistent burns. The children mistake me for a rash and giggle into the interactive intransitive. They touch

screen me. It’s all so weird I spork the porch floor and paste the dead spiders into an art collage on my skin and call it “the danse” with an s instead of a c. When the girls get scared

I try to convince them it was all a game but I’m art now and no one believes art even though art is forever.

* * *

Matt Sadler is the author of The Much Love Sad Dawg Trio (March Street) and Tiny Tsunami (Flying Guillotine). His work has recently appeared in Indiana Review, Open Letters Monthly, Diagram, and Eleven Eleven, among others, and he is Poetry Editor at Versal. He teaches writing and film in the suburbs of Detroit, where he lives with his wife and family.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Rusty Barnes

What You See on Shirley Street

A woman with a child crosses
the street from BK's Bar to the beach,

pushing the child by the butt like
a dog and dragging a cheap stroller

behind her. I didn't know you
could even bring kids into bars,

so already this day has taught
me something. The street also

teaches: buy pot here not heroin;
the Cambodian market is less

easy to scam than the bodega;
hang out here long enough you

might see a good tattoo; there's
a satellite police station on the beach.

but no cop is ever there. What the
street seems to want us to learn

is that every story you see here
has four sides and if you listen

closely you can hear them all
under the pavilions and on the wind

with the smell of cheap hot dogs
and the ever present sea air.

* * *

 Belle Isle Marsh

Every time I visit the Belle Isle Marsh
I feel like a six foot two 300 pound target.
No crime takes place there that I can see
But any time I walk into the reeds I expect
to see a body or a rape taking place. Before
I had this feeling we buried my daughter's
dead hamster Brownie there under six
inches of loam and a rock pyre
in memoriam. My daughter didn't know
better so I went with my ace plan
at the burial: I recited from the Tibetan
Book of the Dead. O soul of Brownie
as you confront the endless void. . .
Then I forgot where I was and had to start
again at the beginning while inside I thought
Brownie you stinking offal in your expensive
cage I am reciting this because my daughter
does not know how to lose you and is chirping
back tears and even as I speak I do not
know how to lose her among these endless
alphabets of rock and starshine and tears
so I stand here in the marsh and gibber
silently to myself years after the fact in
this place I fear for both what it holds
and what may happen, neither of which
I can control.

* * *

Rusty Barnes lives in Revere, MA with his wife, the poet Heather Sullivan, and their family. He's published over two hundred stories and poems since 1989, when his first submission hit the postal system. His poetry book I Am Not Ariel came out in 2013.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Helen Losse

In Defense of Confusion

Weather this winter is unreasonable,
both in North Carolina and in my hometown.

In the church my nephew pastors,
provisions have been made
for those who cannot remain in their homes.

I remember the February we drove to Joplin
in a blizzard.  My mother died three weeks later

at age 91. The next year—while hospitalized—
I set off my heart monitor, brushing my teeth
in a bathroom whose shower was useless,

without a curtain. The rain has stopped now,
but my senses roar. The Pope is right, men and

women are different. But why women have
hormonal hot flashes until they are eighty
remains unanswered, by him or anyone else.

Made from water and unrequited longing,
I speak in defense of much earthly confusion,

in glory of rain, in love with my God.


Wintering Birds Take Flight

So much about winter seems obvious.

So much about winter is true.
Small bits of hopscotch logic are tucked
into the hem of my rambling reverie..
Wind is cold, mittens warm.
Sky that holds flurries by day
held a star of prophetic wonder.

Events get postponed but not Mass,
yet I don't leave home like I did
when younger. It's not safe.
I'm still watching birds at the feeder.
Can one actually spend
"too much time" watching God's creatures,
as a friend claimed she was?
Nothing can keep Jesus away.
So just how is
bird watching not worship
of a quieter hue?



A former English teacher, Helen Losse was educated at Missouri Southern State University (BSE, 1969), where she majored in secondary education and English and Wake Forest University (MALS, 2000), where she studied African American history and religion and creative writing.  She is the author of six collections of poetry, and her poems have been anthologized inLiterary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont, Kakalak 2014, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VII: North Carolina.  Her poems have been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, and three times for a Best of the Net award, one of which was a finalist. The former Poetry Editor for The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, she is now an Associate Poetry Editor for Kentucky Review.  Helen lives in Winston-Salem, NC with husband Bill, and is awaiting the May 2016 publication of Every Tender Reed, now available for advance order from Main Street Rag.

Friday, February 19, 2016


Otherwise brilliant Yellowstone

Disguise of tender longing , broken
arrow through your promised life;
read the fortune in the spam e-mail
received beneath the firewall portal
Melville genius lately arrived, harpoon
in his travel bag. “There’s a refund for
the old glass”, groans the dying whale.

Teen poets circle notebook paper confessionals
with their angst and good cheer
by-products of the age their slither through
mercy not among the treats left in plastic
Halloween mask. Between us, the rotten scraps
are most divine when served with arsenic

The desert is missing its ocean, the trees are without
blue skies. I remember when jogging -
well that’s another flash of nothing
left partly consumed by time. The rafts took to
the rapids like junkies to morphine, the rush
same for all wanton adventures where the
chance of dying is strongest and the only
twitch of nerve was discarded back at the
trading post, exchanged for bobbles of comfort
we sucked through our eye holes for
luck. There once was a posse who rode
the iron tube through underground anywhere, hip
in their cool wordplay and solemn faces;
all dead now – as the dodo, clacking splintered bone
against steel rail to the abyss. Where
even the boatsmen know the words to “Louie Louie.”

* * *


separate but unequal thought as dream reality merge on mountain road with empty “bye-bye” on one side and stone-faced cliff on other. 1970’s mellow tune on radio floats out the slightly cracked passenger window. Driver, female, humming along while studying GPS instead of the road ahead – yes, they are still different things – the electronic highway does not melt into death once car plunges off the blinking path. Reality in mid-air scream awakes the deepest sleeper to no avail. The end is a record that skips, that repeats the same note – the same word – the same – the same – the same.

* * *

stevenallenmay is a poet, performance artist, events coordinator, blogger and stay-at-home Dad. He was the primary creator of the poetry festival, Bard Fest, in Berks County, PA and founder of Berks Bards, a 501 c 3 poetry nonprofit in 1998. He curated and hosted several poetry series in Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia. s – a – m also co-founded Plan B Press.

s – a – m is the author of Plastic Sunrise (2003) , frac tur ede volpe ment (2007) , and the assembler of Spontaneous Chili (2001) and has been published in various print and electronic medium. He earned a MAM degree from George Mason University in 2006. He is working on a handful of collections and a novel at the present time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

James Mancinelli


I wanted everything in
my mouth.   Your hands,
the notes, the orange,
its aftertaste on the body
of your tongue, your guitar
caressed against the dark                
Moors in mountains
delicate sadness pulling me,
hungry, tears yours rolling
into the sound hole
disappeared before I had a
chance to drink.

                       * * *

This is Love
          --for SB

They are lovers and you’ve seen them do this.

They take turns watching, then feeding, so natural and meaningless. 

Water-birds.  Trust.

I’ll watch the sky; you work to build the furnace that we’ll need in the bedchamber.

They switch and one will peck for anything in the shape of another day of life.

They waddle, they build, they take stock of the size of shadows. 

The direction of wind.

This is love.  The attention, moments of work, an abrupt flutter

a turn to say Here we are together, the settling down.

* * *
Jim Mancinelli Bio: His first chapbook, Primer, was self-published.  His second chapbook, In Deep, was published by Plan B Press.  His writing is informed by the spirit, the earth, the heavens, the voices of his Italian heritage.  His poems have appeared in various issues of Philadelphia Poets, The Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, Sea Change, Mad Poets Review, Fox Chase Review and Poetry Ink, an anthology of Philadelphia poets. He has been a featured reader in various Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware venues and a featured reader on Live from Kelly Writer’s House.  He was selected as a finalist in the2011 Atlanta Queer Literary Festival, judged by Mark Doty.  Jim’s latest work is a poetic sequence entitled The Bartimeus Poems for which he also did the improvisational drawings.  He is the moderator and founder of the Moveable Beats Reading Series  in Philadelphia, which began in 2007.  Jim teaches in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders  at La Salle University in Philadelphia. 


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Barrett Warner

Falling Water with Forked Tongue, Somewhere, Utah

Boulders from the last ice age

divide the cascade’s dive. I find a small space.

Why does crazy made love mean

so much with a stranger, as if the less I

know the more I feel. Sadness

impenetrable, are we friends? In my pocket

a map of a halved Korea.

Cara-caras nest a bonsai-ed pinon pine

singing love-death, love and death.

My whirl is two bumps below your nape,

One I touch, one I’m kissing.

Wing us here—Beehive Desert—where it hasn’t

misted or rain-dropped since Mardi Gras.

* * *

Ana’s Older Brother Frank

Nestor and Rey Lopez del Rincon Gonzalez—twins.
To Nestor, I said my name was Jack.
To Rey, I said my name was Bobby.
They invited both of us to a party for their sister,
Ana, her Quince Primaveras, her Fifteen Springs.

My mother, who loved the Kennedys,
bought me a leisure suit with wide mistletoe lapels.

Jack can’t make it, I said to Rey.
Bobby has band practice, I said to Nestor.
It was the first time I’d been invited
to a party that wasn’t at someone’s house.

Ana was a year older than Nestor and Rey.
Frank was two years older than Ana.

Always, always, somebody named Frank.

* * *

Barrett Warner is the author of Why Is It So Hard to Kill You? (Somondoco, 2016) and My Friend Ken Harvey (Publishing Genius, 2014). New work is forthcoming at Adroit Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Entropy Magazine. The woodsy poet runs a small farm in central Maryland and can be found at where he blogs about Sherman Alexie and Christmas, among other sanguine topics."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Karen Craigo

In the Notebook by My Bed
I find notes to myself
from my midnight self,
whose penmanship
lacks. I like that lady,
her stridency—determined
not to lose a scrap, she drops
the sleeping ego a note
concerning a mug, worked
in lonely earth and chosen
from a pile of mugs, each
looking much the same. She
underlines, exclaims—This
you need to hear, she signals
with a slash of descenders,
too rushed to cross her Ts.
Sometimes, the pure language
of the mind is untranslatable,
but I hear how she’s burning
to reach me—she is holding out
a vessel, we chose it for
some reason, and now each
of us questions what makes
the other so desperate
to break through.

* * *

Clair de Lune
There’s this boy,
in love with the moon.
He spots it slivered
in the daylit sky,
and I’ve heard him sing
through the glass,
some lunar language
I forget, and I’ve spied
him under it, placid,
smooth-lidded, basking
in the white. Just
yesterday he broke a nail,
cradled it in his palm,
said Mom, look—

a hand-moon.

* * *

Gathering Eggs
I open a door, no bigger
than this notebook, and out
they rush, in a panic for dirt.
I’m here for their eggs,
something they give up easily,
and I get it, some months
entire paychecks collected
by snake-fingered hands.
There is the matter of food
and water, then I scan the pen
for the sly fuck-you of yard-eggs.
I wonder if they saw
the meteor last night, fast-
skidding like a stepped-on yolk,
but these are early birds, bent
on the business of scratch.
In their boxes I measure
the heat of their orbs,
but one girl waits me out—
quiet-sings her egg song,

eyes me as I back away.

* * *

Karen Craigo's first full-length poetry collection, No More Milk, is forthcoming this summer from Sundress Publications. She teaches writing in Springfield, Missouri, and she writes daily about poetry and creativity in the blog Better View of the Moon.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mignon Ariel King

It's not the universe's job

to wrap you
in cotton batting
while it turns

or hold threads
together so you
will not unspool,

nor should others
vacate their wounds
to balm yours.

This sounds harsh
after all you've
endured in this

world with its
many bruise makers,
but notice that

you are angry,
which means you
have not died

inside after all.
Grab that energy
and go live.

* * *

Things I Forgot to Do This Week

Buy clotted cream in Boston.
Look for the Cisneros memoir.
Watch Downton Abbey.
Ignore messages while in a very bad mood.
Cut my hair too short.
Search for a good sewing machine.
Make patterns without a sewing machine.
See if there's any turkey left.
Take medicine at 10 so I'd be asleep now.
Toss out 20th-Century drama.
Stop talking about a dead friendship.
Throw out dead plants.
Buy Kleenex.
Make a bowl of oatmeal.
Get two shirts with ribbon laces to sleep in.
Type something. One paragraph even.
Take off my soft, lilac robe before I fall asleep on top of the covers.

* * *

Mignon Ariel King was born in Boston City Hospital and has never lived outside of Massachusetts. She writes narrative poetry, love poetry, memoir, and short fiction. King is the publisher of Tell-Tale Chapbooks and Hidden Charm Press. A classically trained scholar gone rogue, she holds a Master of Arts in English degree from Simmons College and identifies as a womanist.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Nathan Leslie

Pen Pals

If only I could be Emily Dickinson’s
pen pal.  I’d tell her how much
I yearn for her, her words.  I would never
ask to read her poetry or demand

we meet at some strip mall in Amherst.
I would never just “be passing through the area.”
I would never pry, text or sext.
Instead, simple sentences about the weather,
a mention the heft of the clouds and manner
in which the bobolinks chirp and huddle
in the slant of the evening light.

I’d express my admiration with a hush,
not a shout, lest I startle her or disrupt
her fever dream.  I’d sign off imaginatively,
dropping an image she could use, if needed,

knowing she wouldn’t regardless.

* * *

My Father the Amateur Beekeeper

I picture him in his white beekeeper’s attire,
lifting a shelf, allowing
the bees to inch over his hand.

When I was seven, yellow jackets.
It was an idiocy to chuck rocks
at their nest, smash

their peanut butter jar in the woods,
startlingly filled with them.
They took out their surprise on my face.

Buddha once immersed himself
so deeply in meditation
ants encased his body

an exercise of forbearance and
reverence for all living beings,
and also steely skin.

The notion of ants tracing
up and down my body
shudders me.

Perhaps beekeeping, also, is an exercise
in patience, or some other
valuable commodity, something

bees possess that we lack,
something the bees form within,
lacking angst, or envy, or desire.
* * *

Nathan Leslie's nine books of fiction include Madre, Believers, and Drivers. His previous book of stories, Sibs, was published by Aqueous Books in 2014 and his novel, The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, was published by Atticus Books in 2012. He is also the author of Night Sweat, a poetry collection. His short stories, essays and poems have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines including Boulevard, Shenandoah, North American Review, and Cimarron Review. Nathan was series editor for The Best of the Web anthology 2008 and 2009 (Dzanc Books) and he edited fiction for Pedestal Magazine for five years. He is also currently co-editor for a fiction anthology, Shale, also published by Texture Press and is the Interviews Editor for Prick of the Spindle. His website is and check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Eleanor Levine

Daddy and the Cicadas

When Daddy was dying
he watched the Mets
“Been there, done that,” he said
like the kids in school

Now he eats cicadas
like a wild bandit
when they crawl on the ground
every 17 years

Daddy likes Archie and Edith
though Edith died at 90
sitting in front of the TV
with him and Mommy

They were discussing politics
Humphrey was nominated
the police beat Jerry Rubin
with a baton in 1968

I worry about Daddy
stuck in the ground
with no Worcester sauce
to put in his tomato juice

“Daddy and Mommy,”
we’d say at home
back from college
or a trip to New York

When Daddy died,
he met the cicadas
watching the Mets

after 17 years.

* * *
Eleanor Levine's writing has appeared in Fiction, Evergreen Review, Fiction Southeast, Dos Passos Review, Monkeybicycle, Barely South Review, The Denver Quarterly, Pank, The Toronto Quarterly, Barrelhouse, Intima, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Kentucky Review, Juked, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Crack the Spine, Thrice Fiction, Tulane Review, and The MacGuffin; forthcoming work in SRPR (Spoon River Poetry Review). Her short story, "The Jew Who Became a Nun," was nominated by Menacing Hedge for Best of the Net 2015. Eleanor’s poem, “Daddy and the Cicadas,” appears in her poetry collection, Waitress at the Red Moon Pizzeria, which will be released by Unsolicited Press on February 29, 2016.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Rupert Wondolowski

I'm going to lie on my side in a cupboard
& grow potato eyes

Hang out your shingle & huddle
The stuff being said out there
would make a carnival barker blush
My poodle's going to grow a pair
& take out some trash
as fast as you can mutate
the world contorts in
painful spasm
& you're BETA

not even groovy old
VHS tape
In thrift store

do you find yourself making
motor boat noises with your lips
do you find your lips
among the weeping
diapers loaded Vegas dice
are your lips tax compliant
can your lips do the dog
These lips have sung songs
Of hope in pee smelling
Catholic schoolrooms
Have only received a few fist impacts
In 55 years

Our table on the 18th green
has schrapnel popping in the gin
The one gunman stopped long enough
To grill & eat meat

I'm making a car wreck face
Mirror you know nothing
I was a little girl bike
A knotted old man
Seeking upright
If the spine of the exploded terrorist
plopping onto the cop car
windshield does not
signal the end of civilization
what mythology can
we now grow
to make room
for all our breath?

As my Amish friend says
"It wonders me."

                         * * *

A Shoebox Versus a Church Versus a Swimming Pool

Shadows dump the
voices of frustrated
pay phone calls into
the shoebox, with
an unimpeded boxcar
mustache that once
rode above lips tossed
with indigestion.

The church is filled
with hushed marching
and a brocaded cushion
feels boundless yearning
for the swinging
incense canister.

A swimming pool
can be baptismal,
so blue and rippling,
topped with shifting light
triangles, but it can
also be a fondue
bowl of greasy bodies
doing things that
humans do in what
some may call their
mortal weakness.

For the disgruntled
onlookers things are
at a maddening crawl
as they yell
for blue suede shoes
reflected in Cadillac
chrome, Germanic angels
lifted from Deutsche
Grammophon covers
aloft in trees,
roaring stadiums or
at least wrinkle free collars.

There is a slow
closeup on
a heavily veined hand
lifting a photo of
Uncle Divscek from
the still crisp shoebox,
its corners not yet
blunted or kicked around,
indicating there might
still be hope, that someone
has bought new sneakers
or wingtips for
a fresh school year
or job interview.

After surviving the
Battle of Bastogne
Uncle Divscek refused
to fly unless the
pop band The Beatles
were also on
the plane, reasoning
no God would take
them down while they
were so beloved.
Which is not saying much
for Buddy Holly or Patsy Cline.

In this photo
Uncle Divscek has his
parish priest by
the side of the
neighborhood pool.
A few days after
this photo was taken
two altar boys were
found floating dead
on the pool's surface
and Ringo Starr
was killed in a hunting
accident by the
Vice President of
The United States.

                            * * *
All Of The Swollen, None Of The Greatness

Underwear pressed between mattresses
has something to say about Fiesta Goulet
seated in a shaded lawyer corner
Beaming with milk life
experiencing buttering outbursts
beneath an umbrella.

"Everything tastes like pressed hotdogs" he yells.
I think he's presidential.
Smell his hint of animal strength,
take a sip of noble rot.
Everything is happening
filtered through concussion
codified in palaces of deniable operations.

These are the last days.

These are the first days.

These are the days for cutting up paper dolls
canned corn of Bachelor Years Redux.

                          * * *
Rupert Wondolowski is the author of Mattress In An Alley, Raft Upon The Sea, The Origin of Paranoia As a Heated Molesuit, & The Whispering of Ice Cubes. His work has appeared in Everyday Genius, Fell Swoop, Mud Luscious Stamp Stories, Murdaland, The ie Reader, City Sages & many other citadels of word gathering. He sings & plays guitar in The Mole Suit Choir, who are almost finished with their second album (their first, "Campfire Spacesuit," is on Ehse Records). He has lived so long in Baltimore, where he co-owns Normal's Books & Records, that he now contemplates living in Baltimore.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dale Wisely


The Inuit dialect,
spoken in Canada's
Nunavik region,
has at least 53 words
for snow,
including "matsaauti,'
for wet snow
that can be used
to ice a sleigh's runners.

A tutorial on how to say
"I love you" in French
requires five steps,
the fourth of which
instructs the reader
on the addition of
"ma chérie" or "mon chéri"
for "my darling."

Men and women in regions
of Indiana and Ohio
have at least nine
words or phrases
to refer to the remote control
for a fireplace. One of those
is "InfraLog Igniter 3000."

But, informally, and
addressed to an intimate,
one might hear an American say,
"Hey, how about handing me
the fireclicker, Girl-Baby?"

Dale Wisely edits Right Hand Pointing, One Sentence Poems, and White Knuckle. He is a psychologist in the Deep South.