Monday, 30 July 2018

A poem by Susan Richardson

Shackles of Silk and Lace

Caught in the clutches of a magazine,
ankles bound and rib bones cinched,
your thoughts are prisoner to the
machinations of men with slick tongues.
If you pull yourself out of the glossy pages,
I can offer you a box of wooden matches
to burn up the sash that binds a tiny waist.
When you discover your foot doesn’t fit
into the glass slipper, your boot can
smash it to bits, defiance crushing myth
under the weight of steel and leather.
You can stitch yourself into a pencil skirt,
quivering across the room in 6 -inch stilettos,
or climb out of captivity and dance barefoot,
freeing yourself from the shackles of silk and lace.

Susan Richardson is living, writing and going blind in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry, she writes a blog called, Stories from the Edge of Blindness. Her work has been published in Foxglove Journal, Amaryllis, The Writing Disorder, Eunoia Review, Riggwelter, and Burning House Press, among others. She was awarded the Sheila – Na – Gig 2017 Winter Poetry Prize, featured in the Literary Juice Q&A Series, and chosen as the Ink Sweat & Tears March 2018 Poet of the Month. She also writes for Morality Park, an Arts and Lit Collective.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

A poem by Daryl Sznyter

Catching My Reflection in a Crucifix

i see more of myself in you
than i’ve ever seen
in any mirror
& my face is a chemical exfoliation
& my face is made of tear gas
my eyes are lined with shrapnel
& i refuse to bathe
god forgive me
for only owning
one decent wine glass
forgive me for the lipstick
embedded on its rim
& please
for licking the bottom clean
when you’re not around
for wishing you
were handsomer to me
wishing you were
the neighbor boy
across the street
always reeking
of moss & lemongrass
always so easy
to worship

Daryl Sznyter is the author of Synonyms for (OTHER) Bodies (New York Quarterly Books). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has been published or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Poet Lore, Folio, Gravel, Phoebe, Best American Poetry Blog, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from The New School. She currently resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where she works as a content writer and SEO Analyst. Contact her directly at

Monday, 23 July 2018

A poem by Joan Mazza

In the Afterlife 

I imagine my mother walking up the final path
laughing with Lucille Ball. They died a day apart,
but surely chatted in those throngs of dead, jostling
their way to the gate I see open for every caste.

When my father took his life at the height
of summer 1987, the husband of Joan Rivers
did the same—one day later. Did they discuss
what drove them to see death as spite?

Did they have regrets? Speculate on the impact
for their children and grands, who might view
this as a model for desperate times? In fact,

I don’t believe in an afterlife in heaven’s stars
or its flaming alternative for all eternity. Childhood
indoctrination left its mark, if not a scar,

so I can sometimes hear my ex-husband, dead
before his parents, welcome their arrival,
offering a beer. His mother, wits re-stitched,
will no doubt say, You’re here first? I heard said

not long after, their other son was dead from cancer.
Too soon! ancestors cry. The temptation’s
strong to have fantasies of reunions, gatherings
in some rosy, great beyond, all questions answered.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has twice been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self, and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

A poem by Kitty Coles


for Stella

The goats always come to us,
sooner or later, if we stand long enough
calling to them. They range themselves
along the fence’s edge and, stony-eyed,
stare out at us and wait. The wires buzz,
waspish. Their horizontal pupils,
on those pale irises, meet ours unblinking.

We have nothing for them.
They realise it slowly and begin to bend
to crop at the grass, or stretch
on hindlegs to tear down
the yellow flowers of the broom and gorse.
Their teeth rip crisply.

Once, we watched two bucks fight,
clashing their horns,
with sounds like dry bone banging
on dry bone,
their curled beards wagging,
hooves tumbling the dust.
The others didn’t raise their heads to look.

Kitty's poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams 2016 and her debut pamphlet, Seal Wife, was published in 2017.

Monday, 16 July 2018

A poem by Nick Compton

Portrait: Paige in San Francisco

Take bronze and let it bleed complete. Flood the pupil with hues of copper and marigold to ignite the suns of her eyes. A silver shadow running just below the ball. We had been awake for hours; turtle-shelled with rucksacks and sweet American heat; our adventure doubling to a tour of the cheapest drive-ins and dives; the real American dream. I sip iced tea and drown somewhere between the rose of her lips and sleep-requesting smile. A vein pulses blue from her elbow, maps the interchange of routes from avenue to avenue. I dot-to-dot her freckles.

Nick Compton is a writer, traveller and poet. He has been published across 3 continents including Canada and Hong Kong, with Alex Culotta PHD describing his style as ‘bold yet unassuming, a refreshing voice in a handful of powerful stanzas.’ In addition to writing for the Huffington Post, he teaches poetry in workshops and lectures and is a member of the Rhyme and Reason Poetry Collective. A musketeer at heart, you can normally spot him with a trusty cup of tea by his side

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A poem by Chella Courington

The Pond Heron

The dead don't write
but my cousin's letter arrives three days

after he's blown away by some kid
in his own platoon.

Maybe another Georgia boy
who's never been so far from home

so scared he shoots at anything
moving in shadows.

The letter feels light
for my cousin's voice.

He speaks of sheer petals rising
out of muddy fields

spreading before the sun.
Of a copper heron in shallow water

who dips his black-tipped beak
to spear his prey.

Chella Courington is a writer and teacher. With a Ph.D. in American and British Literature and an MFA in Poetry, she is the author of six poetry and three flash fiction chapbooks. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and journals including Non-Binary Review, Gargoyle, Pirene's Fountain, and The Los Angeles Review. Originally from the Appalachian South, Courington lives in California with another writer and two cats.

Monday, 9 July 2018

A poem by Al Ortolani

Wally Sings Amazing Grace in an Arkansas Cave

The old timers drew
arrows with carbide smoke
to mark their return.
Two caves, they used
to say, one going in,
one going out.

You stop for granola,
raisins, apple slices.
You wander the deep transept,
searching the source
of breeze on your cheek,
hunting new cave, tight
spots, wiggle room.
The darkness becomes
more personal, pressing—
brown bat, albino fish,
blind to sun.
Wally begins Amazing Grace.
The rope of his voice
belayed through the darkness
like a bowline at your waist—
the mist in your lamp,
the scalloped walls
curving on.

When you leave work today,
you walk through snow melt,
your truck parked at the bottom
of the corporate lot. Gray drifts
run in small creeks to the
gutter. At the storm drain,
the water sluices through
concrete to a distant spillway.
This too is cave, piped below
the streets, subterranean,
serene, even rat trod,
it’s a river to the sea.

Al Ortolani’s poetry has appeared in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry. His newest collection, On the Chicopee Spur, will be released from New York Quarterly Books in April of 2018. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas, and directs a memoir writing project for Vietnam veterans across Kansas in association with the Library of Congress and Humanities Kansas.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

A poem by Richard Biddle


Spotting a wren
is being let in
on a secret.

She shuttles
hedgerow to hedgerow;
becomes twigs.

Richard Biddle teaches Creative Writing at Chichester College. He has poems forthcoming with @threedropspoems and most recently published with Burning House Press @thearsonista. His work has also appeared in the journals Urthona, Brittle Star and Dream Catcher and in several anthologies. In 2013, his poem ‘Transparency’ won The Big Blake Project’s William Blake Poetry Prize. He tweets as @littledeaths68

Monday, 2 July 2018

A poem by Holly Magill

The zombie apocalypse almost reaches the playnies*

They’re here, a pack of half-formed things jostling
where the Gele bumbles under the footbridge.

Scabby knees and not-quite-hormones-yet,
growth spurt wrists and ankles poke
fists and feet farther out of joggers and tops;
bored little bodies scuffling and hyper.

They zag and weave round dogs and walkers,
uncowed by other species on their patch;
barely two pop-belches from feral,
their gums cling to last bites of milk teeth.

Teachers, parents, would say it’s just a game.
The minds not quite controlling these mutating
creatures know change is possible,
even for The Undead.
One kid bombs the riverbed, screaming:

I’m not a zombie anymore!

*The Playnies - slang for playing fields.

Holly Magill’s poetry has appeared in various 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 – Her first pamphlet is forthcoming in 2018 from Indigo Dreams Publishing.