Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Monday, 22 April 2019

A Poem by Esmé Kaplan-Kinsey


Phone call, and my mother’s face cracks like plaster.
Leans against car door.

Are you sure?

Car door blue, shiny. Hard point of white light on fender from setting sun.

Okay…and what does that mean?

Feet repel ground, ground sticks to feet. I should not be here.

Okay. Thank you.

Car is blue, and I should fold my body behind the wheel stick floating feet to gas pedal hurtle toward sunset, I should drive to the end of the world before
my mother can tell me the ending
That has cracked
Her face
In two.

Esmé Kaplan-Kinsey is a 17 year old writer from Petaluma, California. She is the founder of her school's creative writing club and editor of the school literary magazine. She was also a finalist at the Youth Speaks Grand Slam Final for Slam Poetry in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Teen Ink. When not writing, Esmé enjoys acting and making music.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

A Poem by Meghan Sterling


To sleep in a bed alone after five
Years of marriage is a practice in
Restraint. Pillows like the spines of leaves still
clinging to the branch, the sway of wind that
tries to knock them loose, or more like doesn’t
try at all, just moves and things blow apart.
I’m trying not to love the room too much,
The lamplight, mattress leaning to the right
the blankets wrapped around my selfish legs,
The smell of soap and mint and spacious thoughts
And no cry from my daughter’s crib to jar
Me from my dreams. My thoughts taste of lemon
Blossoms, and I see the way that sleep
Comes best to outliers: the fallen branch, the stone.

Monday, 15 April 2019

A Poem by Stephanie Bradbury


In the terminal quiet
of a hospital waiting room,
a small family of strangers, 
displaced by unfamiliar furniture, 
take nothing home with them
except the bruises of collision.

Stephanie Bradbury lives in north Georgia and works as an emergency room nurse. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals, including Inkin Thirds, The Rusty Nail, Mad Swirl, and Front Porch Review. 

Thursday, 11 April 2019

A Poem by Lynda Turbet


Listen, first:

hear our cackling call,
our honking trombones 
rally the laggards
into formation.

Our wings echo wind-filled sails'
rhythm of flapping canvas;
we are a ship's prow
parting the sky.

We land flat-footed;
a thousand beaks
ravage beet-fields
in autumn cleansing.

Our eyes are ice-rimmed stones;
the tang of salt and pine
clings to our feathers.
Here is our south.

Watch our clumsy rise 
wheel to a pink horizon,
smudged shapes sketched
in charcoal dusk.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

A Poem by Victoria Nordlund


Johan Ruud confirmed that the Antarctic icefishes are the only vertebrates that lack both red blood cells and hemoglobin--- Scientific American

As I look past the slender white quills
through the diaphanous fin
at a colorless center,                                         [at my last text with no response] 

I wonder why this had to happen---
Marvel that anything could exist
without red blood cells to ferry its oxygen.

A scaleless, pale creature
with no vessels to hemorrhage
after you’ve cut it

and thrown it on to ice.
This is so much cleaner, you’d say,
if you still spoke to me.

Slitting a cod’s gills would have left
stains on your hands---
dark as wine.

Victoria Nordlund is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Her chapbook Binge Watching Winter on Mute will be published in Spring 2019 by Main Street Rag. She is a 2018 Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize Nominee, whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Misfit Magazine, Gone Lawn, Ghost Proposal, and other journals. You can read more of her work at https://www.victorianordlund.com/poetry

Monday, 11 March 2019

A poem by Annie Stenzel

Dictionary II

Now more often found
in a dusty library than
a living-room
outsized volumes
slump in silence

each tome
a fully-furnished palace:
room upon room filled
with words
rarely spoken aloud

languages in casual
or deliberate contact;
brushing one another
here  delicately
there bluntly.

Now silverfish slide
between the pages
where words
are stacked in silent columns:
clambake to clarity

roulade to Rousseau
wharf to wheel.

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life.  Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence, Big Table Publishing, released in 2017.  Her poems appear or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Allegro Poetry, Catamaran, Eclectica, Gargoyle, Kestrel, The Lake, Verse Daily, and Whale Road, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay.  For more, visit www.anniestenzel.com.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

A Poem by Lee Tucker

Looking the Other Way 

Doug, it was me who stole
the white pocketknife
from your desk in second grade.
I pushed it deep into my own desk,
buried it in broken crayons and
the violet blur of crumpled worksheets. 
I know you never suspected me, a girl.
It was such a nice knife.  

Your crewcut grew shaggy, darkened,
Your softness grew large, your voice stayed quiet.
We hardly noticed you.

The pearly knife, hidden in the woods, lost —
I’d almost forgotten it by the time we reached 13, 
By the day the truck killed you
on Route 4.  You were on your bike,
delivering papers.

Oh, Doug.
You were looking the other way.

Lee Tucker lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she defends indigent persons accused of federal crimes. She studied poetry and fiction writing as an undergraduate, then became a human rights attorney and later a public defender. She writes in her backyard, surrounded by wild mustard, prickly pear cactus, weed-happy rabbits, and bees. 

Monday, 4 March 2019

A Poem by Alex Josephy

Call of the Void

The famous view; I rest my bike 
against the rail, take a moment to gaze, 

catch a breath of beyond, a kick
of vertigo. From here, hills are flattened, 

tiny vehicles trickle down the valleys 
that stretch to oblivion. Nothing seems 

quite real, and I fancy myself as Icarus, 
too high to take advice. Or I’ll be Thelma 

with the flying curls. Imagine going over 
on a laugh, hand-in-hand with Louise. 

Or how might it be to plummet 
solo through deep air, pass the kestrel, 

the low-gliding sisterhood of doves? 
It’s not just me. They’ve installed 

a row of benches facing the drop, each 
named for someone no longer here. 

Alex lives in London and  Italy. Her pamphlet Other Blackbirds was published by Cinnamon Press, 2016 and her collection White Roads by Paekakariki Press, 2018. Her poems have appeared quite widely in magazines and anthologies in the UK and Italy, and have won awards including the McLellan prize 2014 and the Battered Moons prize 2013. 

Thursday, 28 February 2019

A Poem by Adam Lee

Thomas Hardy

Spare us a thought

as you stumble on 
down the inclined slope
of the long gone. Because 

you and others that
knew Life for what it was

-and is-

would have shuddered
if you could have intuited 
what the not-too-distant

future would do to the alienated.

Adam lives and works as a bid writer in Manchester. Over the years he has studied English Literature, Psychology and History. He is interested in writing a poetics of subjectivity, like his hero John Ashbery. He has never been published before.

Monday, 25 February 2019

A Poem by Mark Tulin

Menthol Light

When my mother smoked a cigarette,
she held it awkwardly 
between the wrong two fingers. 
She never inhaled.
The cigarette never touched
her lips.

She would take short puffs
that never saw the inside
of her lungs.
She never savored
the taste.
She never smelled the aroma
or enjoyed its flavor.

She would often smoke in secret,
almost embarrassed
by the habit.
She watched the smoke rings 
snake to the sky
in crooked circles.
She believed that smoking
could change her worrisome nature
just by a snap of a match.  

She went from regular
to Menthol Light.
From Virginia Slims
to Pall Mall.
She had hoped that she looked
the part, like Hayworth or Bacall. 
She had hoped that she looked 
sophisticated and cool.

Mark Tulin is a former family therapist who lives in Santa Barbara, California.  His poetry often finds richness in the lives of the neglected and disenfranchised. He has a poetry chapbook, Magical Yogis, published by Prolific Press (2017).  His work appears in Page and Spine, Fiction on the Web, Amethyst Magazine, Vita Brevis, The Drabble, smokebox, and others. His website is www.crowonthewire.com

Thursday, 21 February 2019

A Poem by Charley Barnes

Nature feeds Herself

Her beak claps at cracks in the tarmac
as she snaps at the remains of another creature.

She doesn’t recognise the tyre marks, chooses
instead to eat around the rubber remnants.

Small feet pad over a flattened – something;
it tastes good enough and fills the gap.

A car horn disturbs her evening meal. She leaves
with weathered skin between her bill –

Nature finds ways to nurture her own.

Charley Barnes is a Worcestershire based author and poet. In 2018, her debut poetry pamphlet, A Z-hearted Guide to Heartache, was published by V. Press. Her debut novel, Intention, is published by Bloodhound Books.

Monday, 18 February 2019

A Poem by Tim Taylor

Mountain Man                                       

There’s not an ounce of fat on him:
thin, like the scraggy grass that feeds his sheep
he is the product of these hills, as they are.
Behold, the ridge and dale of him,
boulder chin and craggy nose exposed
above the heather moor of threadbare tweed.
The eyes, set deep in caves
beneath the cliff wall of his brow
let nothing slip.
But look at them at sunset
when the light is on his face
and see there his secret:
This place does not bind him
as towns will tether other men.
Reflected in those eyes you see
only the boundless ocean of sky.

Tim Taylor lives in Meltham, near Huddersfield, and teaches ethics part-time at Leeds University. His poetry has been published in Pennine Platform, Orbis, Acumen (forthcoming), The Lake, The Poetry Village and various other magazines and compilations.  He has also published two novels.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Poem by Seth Jani

These Ruins

My sorrow is ordinary,
And I lay it out beneath the trees
For the bone-picking birds to follow,
For the sun to open its seed-pods of light 
And drop onto.
I send it down river
Tied to a heart-shaped boat
Where it will easily break
In the hands of children.
Where the someday fire will calcify,
Becoming just another stone-house
Abandoned to the wind. 

Seth Jani currently resides in Seattle, Washington, USA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress (www.sevencirclepress.com). His work has been published widely in places such as The American Poetry Journal, Abyss & Apex, The Chiron Review, The Comstock Review and Oracle Fine Arts Review. His full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. More about him and his work can be found at www.sethjani.com 

Monday, 11 February 2019

A Poem by Sam Rose


When you get the phone call, you leave
work early because you know what a
phone call like that means. You head to
your best friend’s house and it’s almost
like it was when you daydreamed [daymared]
about getting this sort of news. You had imagined
the phone call, but with a definite diagnosis
and a rush to your friend’s house to tell him,
to hide somewhere within him. It is a little
like this except you are less collapsed than
you imagined you would be You pick up food
on the way to his house, somehow enjoy in a
tiny way the freedom you have been granted,
grateful for everyone’s understanding but
needing to hide from them all. Needing to hide
so much that when your friend says he has an
interview to go to you ask if you can stay at his
house until he gets back. He is accommodating
to your needs, your words, your silences, your
knees hitched up to your chest on the couch.
You talk about your pending diagnosis, you talk
about his job interview. Straighten his tie at
the back, brush neck lightly. Hugs. Good luck.
He leaves and you feel in hiding, in safety,
sheltered from a world you can’t face. You strum
his guitar a little, rest a finger on his keyboard,
tap out a tune you used to be able to play as a kid.
You still can. Explore his library, pick up a book
or two from the mountain, avoid an avalanche.
Curl up on the couch and nap for a while. Wake
up with drool setting on your cheek and wonder
why your face leaks like that. Wonder if he has
come home and just didn’t want to disturb you –
wander the house just to check. It has high ceilings
and feels grand, summer sun streaming through
sash windows. Sit back down in the living room,
await his return, his interview story. Next stop,
the pub down the road, the regular haunt, or
these days, the regular place to be haunted. Sit
in the beer garden, realise you are going mad
when you walk straight past some upturned
benches and only notice their strange configuration
maybe an hour later. This is what these meetups
are like. Going mad, expressing the madness, hiding
from the madness. In a mathematic sense, darkness
plus light, living days in twilight, wondering if these
are to be your twilight years. Sort of enjoying them all
the same, in a strange way, amid the horror of it all.

Sam Rose is a writer and editor from Northamptonshire, England. She is the editor of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and The Creative Truth. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Scarlet Leaf Review, Rat’s Ass Review, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Haiku Journal, In Between Hangovers, and others. Sam is a cancer survivor and primarily uses her experiences with this to write poetry and memoir. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to rock music and eating too much chocolate.

Website: https://www.writersam.co.uk/
Twitter: @writersamr

Thursday, 7 February 2019

A Poem by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

The Poet’s Creed

They worship the poet. His students, to be precise. I’m just an observer, another writer, someone who doesn’t buy into the myth. They think every word this CrossFit loving scholar utters is gospel. They absorb every metaphor, inhale every image he paints in his poems. Rants about Bauhaus architecture, dreamy sonnets of Emily Dickinson fucking Walt Whitman in some sort of demonic poetic fanfiction, even though I question the originality, the intent. They prey on his abstractions. They ignore the fact that he worships himself, masturbates in the tub to his own poetry. They ignore his peccadilloes, embrace them, elevate him. They ignore his drunken adventures, slamming deviants into jukeboxes, ignore his edicts issued in poetry class. You will do things my way, he proclaims, as if he is the headmaster from Dead Poets Society.

They agree. They worship, they throw independent thought from the windows. They build statues of the poet and recite his name, these once promising poets, with their big glasses, and their nerdy awkwardness. They adhere to his creed, which they chant, while they do CrossFit, building their conformist muscles, and excising independent flesh. I stand, I plead, they keep drawing closer, closer, and the poet smiles, paternalistically.

And finally, when I try to pull them back from the herd, from his hypnotism, they come after me. They eat my brains with fava beans and a fine Chianti. They eat me as if this is some sick Communion table, except instead of renewed life, they are taking someone else’s life for criticizing their hero. They eat, eat until they leave me dead, a ghost flitting about the moon and the stars, with no home left, while the hoi polloi continue to worship the poet, uttering his name, their voices rising, rising, rising like a fire, engulfing the moonlight, the beauty. I have failed and other people fail, the flames rising, rising, the poet hovering above them, a master, a monster.

Mir-Yashar is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. His short-stories have been published or are forthcoming in various literary journals, including Sinkhole Mag, Gravel Magazine, The Courtship of Winds, and Ink In Thirds.

Monday, 4 February 2019

A Poem by Jude Cowan Montague

In a Playfield Kinlet

Nefting her horn to the verdy brook,
she rocked, she crooked in broathing gard,
o where is my kampt and bambery rush?
hah ha, the far away plumwell bay,
she rides with wool and wrothesley heart
to the woodful cresent to the macooma call,
to rescue the maxey from green Tom Cribb,
and flamsteeding, oglib the maryon girl.
It's far away, sitory, repo and pony,
the burragey spray will lovmunk us all.

Jude Cowan Montague worked for Reuters Television Archive for ten years and now presents and produces 'The News Agents' on Resonance 104.4 FM. She is working on a graphic autobiographical novel, Love on the Isle of Dogs. Her most recent album is Hammond Hits (Linear Obsessional, 2018).

Thursday, 31 January 2019

A Poem by Louise Wilford

The being between

Sip my too-hot coffee, fingers shielded by its cardboard sleeve;
balance my tablet on top of the half-open bag on my lap;
listen to the ghost of voices murmuring elsewhere,
rattle and creak of a whiny railbus.

It’s in the being between,
space flanked by here and there,
that thoughts seep up like bubbles in hot mud,
through the stones of my heart, through the steam in my head.

Fume of air, scooped up by the train’s mad transit, thrown back
against the glass;  someone in front stands up, stretches,
wrestles the trembling window shut. A child cries,
somewhere behind. A screen lights up:

Next stop: Wombwell.  Where you live.
Nowhere place, no one’s destination, none alight;
less than a town, not quite a village; weird name on a sign;
the warm, wet place we begin - the source of the water that winds us up.

And I’m not standing up. I’m still watching my tablet screen
flicker and fade without my finger’s  pressure, listening -
distracted by the grumble and clatter of wheel on rail;
wondering what waits at home, what wild

whitewater words he’ll throw at me tonight.
And the train doesn’t stop; the name on the sign
flutters in my chest, a bird’s scrabbling claws, half-unfurled
wings, flapping and bent out of shape. The coffee I’m holding is cold.

It’s in the being between, the space flanked by you and him,
that thoughts leak like blood from a badly-dressed wound,
as I set the coffee cup on the quivering floor
and gather up my last few things.

Yorkshirewoman Louise Wilford has had around 100 poems and short stories published in magazines including Acumen, OWP, Orbis, Iota, Dreamcatcher, Tears In The Fence, Popshots, Pushing Out The Boat, The Stinging Fly, The Frogmore Papers and Agenda, and has won or been shortlisted for several competitions.  She is currently writing a children's fantasy novel.

Monday, 28 January 2019

A Poem by Ceinwen Haydon


Swimming in the baths, eyes wide, we smiled
over our children’s heads, you two girls. Me, one of each.
Chlorine kept us clean, no rules broken.

On the beach, a storm brews,
breezes speckle goose-bumps on our skin,
waves ripple in, barely stop in time
to keep us dry. A crab pincer-nips
your child. Her screams shake us back.

Next week we’ll sail alone, on badass breakers,
out from Druridge Bay, where strong currents surge
to sandbanks and shores well known for ship wrecks.

Ceinwen lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and writes short stories and poetry. She has been published in web magazines and print anthologies. These include Fiction on the Web, Literally Stories, Alliterati, Stepaway, Poets Speak (whilst they still can), Three Drops from the Cauldron, Snakeskin, Obsessed with Pipework, The Linnet’s Wing, Blue Nib, Picaroon, Amaryllis, Algebra of Owls, Write to be Counted, The Lake, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Riggwelter with work coming up in Prole, Poetry Shed, The Curlew and Atrium. She graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University in December 2017.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

A Poem by Michael Gessner

chattering.  They’ve been up all night,
dancing ‘til dawn.  They could be heard
down the hallways, even the walls shook.
Later they gathered around to plan
their next outing.  Who knows where?
Even tho’ they are their shadows
flitting on walls, they are
all about the future.
I don’t want them to leave.

 Michael Gessner has authored 11 books of poetry and prose. From the most recent, (Selected Poems, FutureCycle Press, 2016,) The Poetry Foundation chose several for its online archives (2017). His latest publications include those in The American Journal of Poetry (forthcoming Jan., 2019,) Innisfree Poetry JournalThe Kenyon ReviewNew Oxford Review, and North American Review, (finalist for 2016 James Hearst Prize). His reviews appear regularly, and he is a voting member of the National Book Critics Circle.

Monday, 21 January 2019

A Poem by Susan Elliott

El Hotel Fantasma

Our guide said they were making condos
out of the closed-down hotel, overgrown
with dried beach grass, shadowy white
columns flanking the vacant lobby.
Maybe a golf course nearby. A virgin beach,
he called it. Honeymooners in our group waded
into shallow water, took photos of themselves
with outstretched arms. I sat at the abandoned
beachside bar on a stool risen from the sand, shards
of iridescent shell, sharp coral making the bar front.
Behind the counter, stainless steel mixers were silent,
clean. I wished for a piña colada and remembered
that pineapple juice hurts my stomach.
I wished for a cuba libre instead and wiped
the dirt from my eyes. I wanted to relax,
like a newlywed should, carefree and waxed
clean for the week. I held my disposable camera
too tight, thinking of the warnings of our guide,
that local children might pilfer our buggies and steal
our sunglasses and money so quickly and silently
that we wouldn’t notice until they’d slinked away
behind a palm tree. Like phantoms, I thought.
I checked my finger again for my
wedding band and it was still there.

Susan Elliott is the author of the chapbook The Singing is My Favorite Part (Etched Press, 2015). Her poetry has appeared in the Best American Poetry blog, Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and Broad River Review, among others. Susan received her PhD in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she won the Joan Johnson Award for Poetry in 2014.   

Thursday, 17 January 2019

A Poem by Sarah Lao

Crossing Fields

We left with June still undressing in my mouth
like a wound, ripe as a
summer plum in harvest, exit
sharper than the limit of a switchblade.
School’s out, and there’s nothing
I want more than
      to forget.
Sure we’re driving through the countryside,
your hand stitched to mine, the pedal of the red
Cadillac rasping over the wind.
Look at the fields. You said.
And I
looked. It was nothing special—a
typical prairie ecosystem.
Coyote feeding on jackrabbit feeding
on grass feeding on sun.
Copied straight from Barron’s Biology.
But you shook your head. Look closer.
So maybe
you wanted to point out the clean
pair of sneakers left on the roadside. Give me
the chance to pick up some free knockoffs.
Still we already passed it and—
No. You said. Easing off
the pedal and unlocking the doors.
Touch the ground. What is it made of?
It was dusty, of course and hard to
breathe outside. The sun was out,
but I couldn’t     see anything.
everything was black.
There was a fire. I said. And
the fields burned.
Yes. You said.
But look again. What’s left?
A hint of green, scattered in the
dark, the first shoots of grass.

In September, we came home.

Sarah Lao is a sophomore at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. She currently edits for Evolutions Magazine and reads for Polyphony Lit, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Sooth Swarm Journal, Eunoia Review, and the Inflectionist Review. 

Monday, 14 January 2019

A Poem by Katarina Boudreaux

Revelation Sings Sweetly

There are friends,
and then there
are friends who
will sing while feeding 
your baby sweet potatoes
with a neon spoon
cross legged on
a dirty, uneven floor
in a kitchen full of flies
while you stem the tide
of disaster with scrap
wood and old glue.

Katarina Boudreaux is a New Orleans author, musician, dancer, and teacher. Her first novel “Platform Dwellers” is available from Owl Hollow Press. She has two collections of poetry -- “Alexithymia” from Finishing Line Press and “Anatomy Lessons” from Flutter Press.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

A Poem by Holly Magill

The Bobblers are Coming

Initial sightings coincide with the first frost – spotted
on seafront dog-walkers, cyclists muffled against the raw.

An old woman at the front of the bus, shrunken head
nodding under one bigger than a snoozing Bagpuss.

Then suddenly they’re everywhere – a woollen pandemic,
spread from high-end boutiques and market stalls alike;

indiscriminate to age, race, gender, faith –
from old boys in the bookies to girls in Gap puffers.

In the corner shop, at the school-gates,
at the urinals in Wetherspoons.

Some say they shouldn’t be part of society –
the rise of the hoodie all over again.

Under her tasselled standard lamp, your Nan clicks
patient needles over Coronation Street.

Soon you could be joining the ranks.

Holly Magill’s poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Interpreter’s House and Bare Fiction, and anthologies –Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches Press) and #MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology (Fair Acre Press). She co-edits Atrium – www.atriumpoetry.com. Her debut pamphlet, The Becoming of Lady Flambé, is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/holly-magill/4594330527

Monday, 7 January 2019

A Poem by Maurice Devitt

A False Dawn

You open the curtains when the day
is still half asleep, the eye
of a bleary sun just clearing the horizon
and the trees, so verdant in your dreams,
all dressed in black.
The street begins to well up with colour,
remembers precisely how it was left
last night, while taking care
to add an extra scratch to the paintwork
of the car outside number twelve,
knowing that it will never
have to explain how it got there.  

Winner of the 2015 Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition, he has been runner-up or shortlisted in Listowel, Cuirt, Patrick Kavanagh, Interpreter’s House and Cork Literary Review. A poet of international breadth, he has had poems published in the UK, US, India, Romania, Australia and Mexico, and has also been a featured poet at the Berryman Conference in Minneapolis and the Poets in Transylvania Festival.  He is the curator of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies site, a founder member of the Hibernian Writers’ Group and has just published his debut poetry collection, ‘Growing Up in Colour’, with Doire Press.