“The Girl and the Orca” by Chelsea McKenna

had overwhelmed the sky
in steady waves.
The world
freshly smeared paint
done by ancient hands.
Water cradled by the air
like a snow globe
without the trappings.
An absolute silence
so warm
a pleasant comfort.
The girl and the orca
floating along the path
over the cobblestones.
The girl stroking the back
of the whale
that so many call killer.
Her guide
in this world
that is not quite a world.
The girl who can not see
but she knows
of course she must.
If this is a dream
she must think
do not ever wake up.




Chelsea McKenna is relatively new to the world of serious writing. While she has always had a passion for literature, it was not until recently that she began writing with more intent. This may seem a bit odd for a writer, but Chelsea’s never done normal very well.

“Breakfast With the Soothsayer” by Ayaz Daryl Nielsen

and she
“this day will be cold,
cold as a once-revered saber buried
within a forgotten battlefield’s debris,
a saber capable of transmuting ill-will
and evil intent into an intrinsic realization
of the sacredness within all existence…
and this saber…” pausing, she grasps
my arm… “it can, it must be found, found and
wielded by hero and heroine, working together,
as one… and you and I” she states firmly,
squeezing my arm “it’s up to us… it’s us”
the steaming coffeecup
halfway to my lips, suspended
in the silent, fertile morning light…




Ayaz Daryl Nielsen was born in Nebraska, attended schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Mexico, has lived in Germany, and now lives in Colorado with his beloved wife Judith. A veteran, former hospice nurse, and ex-roughneck, he has been editor of Bear Creek Haiku for 25+ years. (bearcreekhaiku.blogspot.com)

“I Told My Therapist That I Like My Job” by Patricia Grudens

when I had my first panic attack I was at work and you
know what they told me. they told me that I needed to
come up with a better excuse to go home early next time.
that I had nothing to panic about because I file paperwork
and make phone calls all day and that’s it. my coworker said
that if I could not handle my job now then I sure as hell would
not succeed anywhere else. and so, with my heart still bouncing
in my chest and my fingers still veiny from quivering, I had to
return to stapling forms. my mind swiftly drifted away from my
body and I began to watch myself in my cubicle from above. my
thoughts coated with adrenaline, I thought… is this real was this
really happening to me why
d o n ‘ t I feel
co nne cte d
to my body anymore?
why am I no t hing but a ghost
tha t mo st pe opl e can see?
when will this stop will this ever stop why is my body in fight
or flight mode when I am doing nothing dangerous… or is living
what’s most dangerous of all. everyone dreams about flying
until they get their own wings. then just like that they’re frozen
in time just like I am. I don’t want to wake up as a ninety year old
and wonder where my time has gone I don’t want to die wondering
when I will get to live.




Patricia Grudens graduated from Ithaca College with a Bachelors of Science degree in Marketing/Communications. The various writing classes that she took meshed together and sparked a deep love for poetry, and she cannot imagine not having writing as a large part of her life. (facebook.com/pgruden1)

“Now That We Know Better” by David Thornbrugh

Not so long ago, extinction didn’t exist.
What life was here had always been here
and always would be.
Thomas Jefferson, instructing Lewis and Clark,
asked them to look out for mastodons,
assuming they had to live somewhere cold;
we just hadn’t been far enough north yet.
I guess he didn’t know about the dodo.
The last of the passenger pigeons
even had a name, though that didn’t save it.
Now we know the long dominance of dinosaurs
disappeared in one slap from a cold, indifferent hand,
know that the same rocks rotate in space around us,
hand grenades deflectable by the touch of a solar wind.
We know this, yet choose to believe we can resurrect
our Jurassic predecessors from chunks of amber,
that what we do, matters.




David Thornbrugh is a Ring of Fire poet based in Seattle, Washington. In his poetry, he strives to make sense of existence, and to lessen some of the gloom he feels as the natural world fades further and further into the past and the future looks less and less viable. He finds life without humor not worth the effort, and the idea of being a poet in America pretty funny.

“It Is” by Peter Savigny

I have a past
jealous of my future
knowing that
the future can change
at will.

It taunts.

I have a future
envious of
my past
for the past is done
and can just be.

It’s smug.

My present
is caught between
straddling both;
wrangling the transition.

It is.



Peter Savigny is a 25-year art director in television turned poet and sculptor. He is an avid change artist and experientialist.  (timestories.com)

“Enough to Have Their Own” by E.V. Wyler

The proprietor apologized profusely
in carefully crafted expressions
of shock and outrage
that blended with a bland babbling
about reassurances of restitution.

His home health aide
had “borrowed” the Pathfinder
she was permitted to drive…
only when her passenger was present.

Upon her morning arrival,
this caregiver was confronted
by the one she betrayed.

“Why? Paulie, Why?”

“…Because I needed it!”

Once she wailed those words,
she knew her defense was defective:
“The Law” is only loyal to ownership; never need.

So, prior to the police’s arrival, Pauline
ran passed her patient, fleeing on foot
to become a fugitive from justice, somewhere
on Florida’s sunshine-stained sidewalks.

A somber Pauline soon surrendered,
but we chose not to charge
the former chauffer and friend
who had freed our mother
from the stuffy confines of her facility.

Released from incarceration,
without a “record,” she was spared
the modern-day Scarlet Letter,
the label of “felon.”

I wondered, how often is society’s populace
impacted by these “property crimes”
committed by working people
who don’t earn enough to have their own?
And so, they do without
until they descend into the desperation
that desecrates decency.

I don’t detract
from the deeds of her delinquency
when I react
that her boss was an accessory-before-the-fact.

At the apex of the corporate pyramid,
the powerful preside over profits,
feasting on their fill of fruit
from the proverbial pie
while denying a nicely-sized slice
to their underlings who labored to bake it.
Is there a point where proprietors,
like Pauline’s employer,
possess a moral and social responsibility
to sufficiently compensate their employees
so they earn enough to have their own?





E.V. “Beth” Wyler grew up in Elmont, NY. At 43 she obtained her associate’s degree from Bergen Community College. She and her husband, Richard, share their empty nest with 3 cats and a beta fish. E. V. Wyler’s poems have been featured in The Storyteller, WestWard Quarterly, Feelings of the Heart, Nuthouse, The Pine Times, The Pink Chameleon, The Rotary Dial, Vox Poetica, and on The Society of Classical Poets’ website.

Website Updates in Progress…

There are currently some glitches and problems here on The Poet’s Haven website. We will be installing and applying some (long overdue) updates in the next few days that will hopefully correct everything. Please bear with us.

UPDATE: Almost everything works now.  Like any update, we still had a plethora of issues that arose, even after months of working on the CSS on our test site.  There’s still a few things that need fixed, but we’re working on them.

There’s still a lot to do for the second part of this update.  The Boutique store will be getting merged into the main site, so it all blends together.  That’s going to take a long while to complete, however, so for now the links still point to the classic OpenCart store we’ve been using since the last site update.

One thing I haven’t made a big deal of before: this update became necessary as the version of WordPress running the site previously would no longer let me add content to the site.  A security update did something last fall which crashed the add post forms, which was the final straw that led to me closing the submission forms.  I was able to post the few blog entries by manually inserting them into the PHP database, but that is not a way to add poems and stories.  Updating all the software became necessary before we can start working through the submission backlog.

Switching the store over is going to be my background project for a bit.  I’d like to focus on adding some new content to the galleries first, now that I’ve got regular posting abilities working again, before I get busy with the spring and summer book releases and sales.  Speaking of, there’s also two new books almost ready to print.

I’d also like to remind everyone that the submission deadline for the next Digest (which will feature video-game poems) is April 6th.  The next submission call for Author Series manuscripts is scheduled to open on May 1st and will be open until June 30th.  While I am still reading through last year’s manuscript submissions (something else this website update kept me from working on), I felt it best to announce when the call will be open this year before the Digest call closes.  (There won’t be any open calls between April 7th and 30th, since the website calls are still closed.)

Website will be closed to submissions…

Due to an overwhelming backlog, the website galleries will be closed to submissions effective December 14th. Once we get through the queue, we will determine when the submission forms will reopen. Most likely, we will only have the submission forms open for a limited period each year from here on out, like we do for book manuscripts.

Pushcart Nominations for 2019

The Poet's Haven is delighted to announce its Pushcart Nominees for 2019:

"One" by Crystal Clark (from From Frost to Phoenix)
"Almost Spring" by Jennifer Polhemus (from Balloons... and Other Things That Float)
"Unpinned" by Aiya Sakr (from Her Bones Catch the Sun)
"The Nobodies" by Kanishka Shah (from The Poet's Haven Digest: Darker Than Fiction)
"San Diego" by Peter Ullian (from Secret Histories and Exobiologies)

"The Phone" by Judith Baron (from The Poet's Haven Digest: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...)

This was a tough decision this year. Every book we've published has at least one piece worthy of nomination, oftentimes more than one. We also published several pieces in the online galleries that deserve a nomination. Unfortunately, we can only nominate six, but we would like to list six more "honorable mentions" here:

untitled "50" by Dudgrick Robert Wade Bevins (from My Feelings are Imaginary People Who Fight for My Attention)
untitled "stars invisible" by Joshua Gage (from Origami Lilies)
"Period" by Gregory Liffick (from Meanwhile)
"Ides of March 2017" by Sujash Purna (from Biriyani)
"$400 for Rent" by Sydney Sheltz-Kempf (from Adding Up Forever)

"Dispatches from an Ad Blocker" by TJ Davis (from the PoetsHaven.com Story Gallery)

In other delightful news, Peter Ullian has been named Poet Laureate of Beacon, NY for 2019-2020!

“Dark & Stormy” progress update

Work is nearing completion for “The Poet’s Haven Digest: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…” Some medical issues caused days I planned to be working on the book to be lost. Hard decisions have been made about what to cut and all declines have been sent. Acceptance notices will be sent later this week.

“Dark and Stormy” delays…

Since we’ve gotten a number of inquiries, I felt it best to make a blog post.  We intended to have The Poet’s Haven Digest: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night… published by now.  We didn’t foresee getting five times the number of expected submissions for the anthology.  Work is progressing as fast as possible, but there’s a lot to read through and some hard decisions to make as we can only fit so many pages in a single book.  We are now aiming to have the Digest ready before Halloween, but that could change if life gets in the way.


The submission call for the next Digest will go live once work is completed on Dark and Stormy.  We also hope to have everything worked out and get the call for the next VENDING MACHINE posted soon, too.  There’s a lot of information to be shared about that when it is ready, so please stay tuned.  🙂

“Missing” by Fabrice Poussin

Fabrice Poussin-Missing






Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University, Rome, Georgia. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and more than two dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, San Pedro River Review, and more than ninety other publications.

“Alleys” by d.w. moody



that bend and wind
like rivers
spiraling off as tributaries that hide behind
the streets of the city


around the dilapidated apartment complex
where we live


like tunnels carved through the hidden spaces
of the bursting boiling festering city


whose traffic flows by raucously

and where people shout in angry bursts


the alleys branch out


our secret passages
that we take
to school
the store
to our friend’s house


the alleys


with old furniture falling apart
graffitied trash cans

left-behind tires

and broken glass
from parties sadly ended
reminders of lives left behind
where stray cats prowl
searching for food and shelter
mewling afraid in the darkness
under skies that pour
oceans of pain


in alleys we wander







d.w. moody grew up between California and the Midwest.  He has lived on the streets, hitchhiked around the country, and held a variety of jobs in Kansas and Southern California until settling into life as a librarian.  His poems have appeared in Shemom, The Avalon Literary Review, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine.

“Behind Cold Walls” by Ted Aronis

now that I am at that point I see what he was talking about
now that I’ve lived this long I understand his words
he taught me valuable lessons that I had been too young to learn
he told me it was all about choices, choices that put us here


perhaps I was not old enough or wise enough
not prepared to pass these lessons on
perhaps too young and making decisions before the path had begun
staring blindly before the track was laid


he warned me it could go this way, driving
driving while still having to pay, headstrong unwilling to sway
I thought I knew better than he, my mistake
my bond to hold tight in my own foolishness


I thought it was ready to pass it on
I thought I had seen enough, my mistake
for one I love, through my lack of guidance
paid with days he cannot get back


my son, I have let you down, the hour was late with the word
you went that night as a boy and fate and pain forced you on
forced you on into an early manhood, days lost, forever lost
wearing the green, waiting for us, behind cold walls







Ted Aronis (1961-2017) was an engineer, father, and grandfather.

“Making Guacamole at Midnight” by A.M. Pattison

Running through the sprinklers
before telling him goodbye
she thought about making guacamole
scraping the green from its black shell


He’s going to fight in Iraq
He doesn’t know what he’s fighting for
And she wishes he could stay
They could have made love
a second time before he left


The night before she asked
if he was afraid
he said it’s only human
He was cleaning his gun
and she half joked, told him
not to shoot her, and he took
it seriously, said her name,
“It’s not loaded”


And she tilted her head back
so he and the walls wouldn’t see
the tears licking her eyelids
Went to the kitchen and ate another cookie
said she’d start her new diet on Monday


She was wearing bright orange and white
Her hair strung out as it wetted
and she laughed and lay down for bed
wishing he would lie next to her


But some other girl claimed him
and made a scene about telling him goodbye


That’s why she had said nonchalantly
“Give me a hug so I can go to bed”


Chest pressed against damp breasts
she inhaled the side of his neck
his shaggy hair cut off with a number one
gelled up, so unlike his natural style


Listened to outside’s muffled conversation
Late into the night till 3 AM
Decided she wouldn’t park
in his space again while the tears
joined her head on the pillow
like a wash of confetti
from the corners of her eyes







A.M. Pattison is an assistant professor of English at Alabama State University in Montgomery, where she teaches composition, creative writing, and literature. She currently serves on the editorial board of Whale Road Review. Her poems have appeared in Failed Haiku, Roadrunner, Oysters & Chocolate, and Southwestern Review.

“The Question” by Ted Mc Carthy

Always, I see now

I have been asking the wrong question:

not “Where are you?” but “How did you get there?”

Dragged in a river I know to be the same,

whose course has shifted day by day,

I cannot bear to face the sea,

I stay afloat by looking back.






Ted Mc Carthy is a poet and translator living in Clones, Ireland. His work has appeared in magazines in Ireland, the UK, Germany, the USA, Canada, and Australia. He has had two collections published; November Wedding and Beverly Downs.  (tedmccarthyspoetry.weebly.com)

“Four Poster” by Peter Savigny

Half the pillows
Upon my bed
Are never used
To rest my head.


I stay just on
The side I sleep
The floor below
My slippers keep.


I have no cause
To cross the line
It’s been that way
For quite some time.


The covers stay
So nicely pressed
The taught white sheets
Are never messed.


Perhaps one day
I’ll toss and turn
With love and lust
And fury burn.


To toss the sheets
Both far and wide
The way I did
With my new bride
When she would pull
Me deep inside
And passion took
Us on a ride.


Maybe that half
Serves as a shrine
An untouched ode
To better times.


One night I think
When lights are dim
I’ll go around
And slip right in.


Then nestle deep
As sleepers do
To see my room
From this new view.







Peter Savigny is a 25-year art director in television turned poet and sculptor. He is an avid change artist and experientialist.  (timestories.com)

“Drug of Choice” by Kaitlyn Pratt

I wonder about her
empty brown bottles, dirty wine glasses
that reach her height high above happiness.
Drowning in
the drug of choice,
merlot, bud, or her own self-worth she sips
and gulps until she hits her low.


Her body lies in soaking pearl carpet
one hand stretched, the other
reaching for
the drug of choice.
Eyes glazed and blood filled to the rim as
depressants stream through her vitals.







Kaitlyn Pratt is in the process of obtaining a Creative Writing Bachelor’s degree from San Jose State University.  She writes what she sees and what she feels. She lives in San Jose, CA and enjoys every second of it.

“Dream Catchers” by Steve DeFrance

what they
Coloring Jupiter green
won’t make it so.


Yesterday’s meaning
was for yesterday—
today the sun comes up
on another planet


One night’s sleep
divides us
from an uncertain past.


The dead & the living
can’t mix often except
in poetry or dreams
where everyone’s illustrated
in a few fictive lines


purple cows here or there—as words
exculpate whatever they please.


Until they don’t and then
they damn the very thing
they’ve once raved about.


One minute now
until this day’s cares disappear.
Daylight hisses into dark,
and night barges into the frightened
corners of our mind—until at last,
the eternal stage manager lowers our curtain,
and consciousness skips,
among stars & rampaging raptors,
slipping right off the spinning earth.







Steve DeFrance is a widely published poet, playwright, and essayist both in America and Great Britain.  In England, he won a Reader’s Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem “Hawks.”  In the United States, he won the Josh Samuels’ Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem “The Man Who Loved Mermaids.”  His play The Killer had it’s world premiere at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006).  He has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing.

“Extension” by Fabrice Poussin

Fabrice Poussin-Extension







Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University, Rome, Georgia. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and more than two dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, San Pedro River Review, and more than ninety other publications.