Big Love Fest 2015 – Exquisite Corpse

The Poet’s Haven was a vendor at February 28, 2015′s Big Love Fest in Akron, Ohio.  During the festival, attendees contributed to an exquisite corpse poem, which is presented below:


The crystals above the dancers

linger, frozen stars

that fall to rest and sparkle upon the Earth.

I feel so alive with this fact:

spinning and spinning,

twirling and twirling,

down  down  down

upon prancers of delight,

bathing in the pleasure of frozen stars.

This gnawing urge shall not dissipate until

every star has thawed,

until every prancer

has fallen to the ground,


“Mismembrance of the Dance of the Anthousai” by Joe Nicholas

I remember a flower,
white like death,
white like the snowflake
barely held aloft
by green sinew of limb,
fighting the urge
to kiss the ground
and melt.


Its petals soft,
lover soft,
a kiss under a twilit azure,
an empty mirror of sky above
beginning to blink from its slumber,
a thousand tiny spider eyes gazing down,
gaseous behemoths
spilling spark and flame
and life into the empty, which
ever remains
mostly empty,


the great silver eye staring calmly,
milky and pupil-less,
unblinking in its dull gaze
as it watched the shadows mingle.


and the flower watching too,
and laughing, if it could do such a thing,
at all the foolish
talking flowers
uprooting themselves to dance
in circles, sprinkling their brazen tears
upon the warm earthen blanket
that was once their home.







Imagine for a moment that you are a bowl of fruit. All you want to do is share your fruit with everyone, but you can’t. You are only a bowl of fruit. You do not have the technology for such a feat. So instead you write poems about your fruit, hoping that someone will be stirred to crave the real thing. Now imagine Joe Nicholas is a bowl of fruit. Joe Nicholas is a bowl of fruit.  He is a wine, feline, and broccoli enthusiast with work published or forthcoming in Dead Flowers, Emerge Literary Journal, Willard & Maple, Star*Line, and various haiku journals.  He hopes you enjoy his fruit.  (

“Give Me Absurdity or Give Me Death” by Pete Able

Absurdity is the last bastion
of America’s adolescence
and it is threatened by the popular writing of the day.
With its nonsensical imagery and boring non sequiters:
“It was June and teal porcelain and the same temperature
as the day my father died.”
This has no worth for me.
I want the bizarre, straight and simple.
By all means be confusing and misleading
but not in a dull, vague sort of way.
Do so with outrageous pinazze and indifference.
Why dance the way everyone dances
if just for the sake of fitting in?
Dance absurdly, and with gusto.
This is the main point of this manifesto:
Dance absurdly, and with gusto.







Pete Able studied Creative Writing at Rutgers University and has published short stories in Tsuki Magazine and Foliate Oak Magazine.

“Ulysses” by Morris Dance

Because the earth wobbles on its axis
Like a Christmas tree into which a twenty
Pound tabby has leapt after getting that
Insane tail twitching I’m a tiger! Its
The law of the jungle! Its kill or be
Killed! Don’t try to stop me, I don’t want to
Hurt you! look in his eye; forgetting that
An additional eighteen pounds does make
A difference, and jungle trees don’t come
With ornaments, twinkly lights, and tinsel—
Though, when I tried explaining this he looked
At me with a disconcerted Must I
Explain every little thing to you? glare—
Thousands of years from now we will enter
A new age, for there will be no pole star:
We will have to navigate on faith; as
I have, since he is gone; sighting upon
A starless space by which to find our way.







Morris Dance attended the University of Utah and studied with Galway Kinnell, Judith Hemschemeyer, and Richard Schramm. Time, sadly, they will never get back. He has worked in a variety of jobs; among them retail management and transit bus driver. Time, sadly, he will never get back. He currently resides alone, accursed, yet strangely happy in California’s central valley.

“Please, Please Me” by Benjamin Nardolilli

I look at her ceiling the way
others look might look at her shoes,
my neck and eyes align
and take in cool cement
hanging above me in a flight
that is heavier than air


What a jail, I look downward
in anticipation of bars,
arms jumpsuited in orange
these textures and temperatures
make me look for a spoon,
some way to shovel out.


She sits at the table typing
and I think, how rude to ignore
me during this visitation,
I was planning on making for her
a conjugal intercession,
it’s what the cement allows me to do.







Benjamin Nardolilli currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, THEMA, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He has a chapbook, Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained, published by Folded Word Press. He blogs at and is looking to publish his first novel.

“Side By Side” by John Feaster

She never wanted them to die.
To not have them in her life,
to not have them in every
moment of every damn day
she felt the pain—
her cigarette flared bright,
and she thought, “Loneliness
is of the night, something souls
should never have to endure:
eternity, beneath the ground,
black and cold.”

She sat up against her pillow
and tipped a white finger;
ashes piled high in the little tray,
and as she looked at the soldier
on her wall—
she lit another, and lay them
side by side in the ashes,
glowing warm, in the cool dark.







John Feaster was born at the doorstep of our nation’s capital, but hopes none of that rubbed off on him. A dangerous romantic, he wants all the action and adventure of a poetic life. He knows how crazy that sounds, but with magic, love, and dogs on his side: how can he fail? John holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an MBA in Business.

“Head with Ladder” by Janet Snell

Head with Ladder by Janet Snell





Janet Snell is a magna cum laude graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, where she studied painting with the late Edward Dugmore. She has been included in many group and solo shows, including New York’s Drawing Center, Washington’s Strathmore Hall, Cleveland’s Spaces, and Akron’s Summit Art Space. The author of FLYTRAP (Cleveland Poetry Center 1990) — a book of drawings and poems, and an e-chapbook, HEADS (March Street Press 1998), her collection, PRISONER’S DILEMMA, with Cheryl Snell, won the 2009 Lopside Press Chapbook Contest. Snell regularly publishes in the small magazines, and paints semi-realistic portraits on commission.  See more at

“From the Schoolyard” by Benjamin Nardolilli

I have left this day of potential behind,
The paths were singing
But I had no need of a chorus,
At least not one with such muddy voices,
In the distance, I heard a siren too,
Coming from a mountain range
Peaks of spackled violet dusted with songs,
No simple order, no direction,
I ignored the formations’ tune
Because I wanted chains and bindings,
I wanted a pull and push
To stop my fall and spinning mind,
Voices giving me points to vector across,
When this day could not provide
Nothing but a set of bare coordinates,
I left it behind with bottles for it to clean up.







Benjamin Nardolilli currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, THEMA, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He has a chapbook, Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained, published by Folded Word Press. He blogs at and is looking to publish his first novel.

“Understanding Tarot: What Card Comes Before the Fool” by Morris Dance

It is a curious moment this: you
Have left childhood, but not yet come of age.
It seems all the world wants to ask of you
Is smooth skin, shiny hair, white teeth, new clothes,
And an attitude of amused disdain.
Your most critical decision: if you’ll
Go, and how you’ll impress them if you do.


Though you know a river of blood runs beneath
It all, and death is too often the lucky twin.
Those golden lives neatly summed to zero
By what they thought themselves beyond; Starry
People imprisoned in tired clichés;
And fame spoon feeding yet another one
An irresistible unhappy end.


But today, well, today it seems the universe
Has had a change of heart, has forgotten,
Gone on holiday. What you are today
Will just go on forever; and you feel
Dazed and giddy at your luck, and the pluck,
That brought you to it. And now, that Fool
Card appears, to show you your next big step up: down.






Morris Dance lives in California’s central valley and continues to write poetry for reasons that cannot be explained in English.

Poet’s Haven’s 2014 Pushcart Nominees

The Poet’s Haven has submitted these six nominations for the 2015 Pushcart Prize:


“Vampire Desperately Seeking Lady Friend” by Kristina England from The Poet’s Haven Digest: We Only Come Out at Night


“Homelessness” by Azriel Johnson from Poemaholic


“Dream-Laden” by Mark Sebastian Jordan from Murder Ballads


“I Say” by Caira Lee from Slaying With No Dents in My Afro


“Residue of Dreams” by Jennifer Polhemus from Women Dancing


“Black Hipster Stand-Up” by AKeemjamal Rollins from forthcoming The Lynching of the God Ghost



Updates on Submissions

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mails asking about the status of submissions.


I am WAY behind on reviewing and posting submissions to the galleries.  Day-job and offline world responsibilities have severely limited the time available to me (see my post about Stardust Poetry’s new schedule).  With the move to Submittable, you can log in to your account there to see the status of any submissions you have made.  Once your submission has been reviewed and decided upon, the status will be updated.

VENDING MACHINE: Poetry for Change volume 4


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

–Mahatama Gandhi

“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.”

–Robert C. Gallagher


VENDING MACHINE: Poetry for Change volume 4 features:

Lynne Albert – “In Case of Fire”
Dianne Borsenik – “Seeds”
Steve Brightman – “It’s Changing”
Skylark Bruce – “Stronger Than Bullets”
John Burroughs – “[ ]ending”
Shelley Chernin – “Pants Day: May, 1970″
Mike Finley – “Blow”
Ken Gradomski – “Times”
Chuck Joy – “This Admission”
Lori Ann Kusterbeck – “Spots”
Geoffrey A. Landis – “My Family Ties”
Miranda Macondios – “A Gandhian Epic Solipsistic Ethic”
Marc Mannheimer – “The Agenda of Sand”
William Merricle – “The Dreamer”
Rebekah Moss – “Hold Your Ground”
Jen Pezzo – “But for Choice”
Kenneth Pobo – “Work-Out Dindi”
REDD – “Commercials”
S. Renay Sanders – “The End”
Kathy Smith – “Just So Some Hows”
Zach – “This I Believe”
Beverly Zeimer – “Hunger Pangs”


with a cover by Eileen Matias



“September’s Words” by John Feaster

Words become more
than words when we
feel them into


My love, that
is why you
are September:


You, like fall
colors into
blow words
into me,
and the
little gusts
of sunshine
turn my
pages bright.







John Feaster was born at the doorstep of our nation’s capital, but hopes none of that rubbed off on him. A dangerous romantic, he wants all the action and adventure of a poetic life. He knows how crazy that sounds, but with magic, love, and dogs on his side: how can he fail? John holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an MBA in Business.

Stardust Poetry changes, Chapbook Submission Call, VENDING MACHINE 5

The Poet’s Haven’s call for chapbook manuscript submissions has been extended until July 5th. Go to the “Submissions” page (linked above) for full details and a link to submit your manuscript.


The Stardust Poetry open-mic series will be taking a hiatus for the next few months. The show will be getting retooled a bit before returning in October. The show will now be held on the third Saturday of October, January, April, and July. (That’s quarterly, every three months, just not in the same months as season changes.) The show will be staying at the wonderful Karma Cafe.


This year’s VENDING MACHINE: Poetry for change event will take place at Karma Cafe on Saturday, November 22nd. That’s the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Features are to be announced.


Speaking of VENDING MACHINE: the call for submissions to this year’s anthology will be going live on July 1st. Submissions must be received by October 4th. VENDING MACHINE: Poetry for Change is a special poetry anthology published annually by The Poet’s Haven themed around Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” The book is edited by T.M. Göttl and Vertigo Xavier. The book is not available for sale, but is instead offered in exchange for donations to the Poetic Provisions Food-Drive.




Okay, now that the news bulletins are out of the way, the explanation. The change to the Stardust Poetry schedule was announced more than a week ago at the final monthly show and then briefly posted on Facebook with the words “More details and explanation will be announced as soon as I have time type up a press release / blog post.”


The fact that it has taken nine days for me to get this typed up is a big part of why this schedule change is necessary. Those of you who know me offline know the turmoil my life has been in the past two years. For those of you who aren’t aware, here’s a brief recap: in July 2012, the day-job I had held for many years ended. Our operation was moved to a different facility in another state. The job market in my area is rough these days. While I managed to land a few “temp-to-hire” gigs, “temp” always proved to be the key word. (My father calls them “temp-to-fire.” He’s absolutely right.) This past December, I landed a gig that requires me to work an afternoon/evening schedule. While I am still working through a temp service, six months later I am still in this position. No word on when (or, really, if) I will be made a permanent hire, but six months have gone by and I am still there. This job has both long hours and a long drive. My old job was only five minutes from my home: this job requires nearly two hours of driving every day. This is severely cutting in to the time I need to do everything here at Poet’s Haven. As the schedule is evening hours, I have had to take time off (something not encouraged for contingent workers) for the Stardust shows these past six months. Moving the show to a Saturday schedule will allow me to work my full “day-job” schedule.


Once upon a time, I had a super long list of local poets I wanted to feature. Unfortunately, the number of poets we have featured has outpaced the number of poets getting added to the list. Having a show on a weeknight also makes it more difficult for not-so-local poets to come headline an event. Going to a quarterly, Saturday schedule should make it easier to line up features.


With my “day-job” hours now in the evening, I have not been able to attend many poetry events. This has allowed me to see the big problem currently plaguing our local poetry scene. When I would be in the audience of five or six different shows each week, I would see just about everyone in our scene somewhere or another. Only being able to attend certain weekend events now, what has become telling is the faces I do not see. Our “community” has always been fractured into little cliques. Each clique attends a show or two in its circle, but refuses to venture out of that circle. Several years ago, this was what I set out to break down. I wanted to do shows that would draw people from every poetry clique. For a while, we were successful at this. Then something slowly changed and our shows developed a clique of their own. I don’t want to loose our loyal audience, but something needs to be done differently to make our shows the big EVENT that EVERYONE wants to attend. It is my hope that a less routine schedule will help us accomplish this.


Again, as I have indicated here, time is a big issue for me right now. When the day finally arrives where being a publisher and slam team manager can be my sole, full-time job, I will again seek to host multiple shows each month. I just don’t have the time necessary to do everything I want to do here. It has taken me a long while to realize that I need to focus on quality over quantity. I would much rather produce just five shows each year and have them be the best shows in our region.

“Foray” by Benjamin Nardolilli

Pick up that book I brought,
I enjoy it very much,
How much sentimentality
Will offend you?
What about all those star-studded
Dedications I thought
Might help you process it all?
You should be pleased
I give you idiosyncrasy
In this selection,
If it is not funny in its depth,
It shall set a deadpan fire under you.
A change in your life?
This book can shift a worldview,
Make reading an expense,
Depending on where it takes you,
It might even cost you
More than words,
Numbers can also get involved,
Leading to the rise
Of a negative entry on your ledger,
But please do not open it up
While I am inside your bedroom
And judge the book by its cover page,
Let me go back home
And for a moment enjoy the sight
Of one empty space
On the shelves in my apartment.






Ben Nardolilli currently lives in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, THEMA, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He has a chapbook, Common Symptoms of an Enduring Chill Explained, from Folded Word Press. He blogs at and is looking to publish his first novel.

“Without Sliver” by A.J. Huffman

Without Sliver

of moonlight slipping through shutters,
I am without hope
of guidance inside midnight’s
menagerie of mind games.
Each shadow’s corner holds
landmine possibilities. I trip every one
with insomniac rage and frustration
of confinement. Monotonous
walls hold no mysterious wonder.
I force myself to dip
deeper into puddles of potential, pull
strings of pearlescent prose, screaming
all the way to page, sometimes longer.








A.J. Huffman is the author of seven solo chapbooks (including Inside the Walls of a Blackened Book) and co-author of one joint chapbook, published by various small presses. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the 2012 Promise of Light Haiku Contest. Her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale. She is the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

“Winter” by Christian Reifsteck

The hieroglyphs of winter
begin to etch themselves into the landscape.
Thin, bare branches are brittle words
that we pass our fingers over to read
like Braille or Ogham.


The cold rain, too,
is just another sign of being—
a symbol thrown against the ground
that we try again and again to interpret.


All it means
is that there is a fine, fine difference
between rain and thick rain,
and if you can read winter,
you know what I mean by this.






Christian Reifsteck’s poems and photographs have most recently appeared in The Loyalhanna Review, Written River, and The Wayfarer. He teaches in central Pennsylvania and Europe. View more of his work at

“Cakewalk” by Jinko Gotoh

Gunsmoke, John Wayne, Lakers
Blasted out of Obachan’s TV.


I fixated over animated lady octopus, plopped up on rock
Middle of sea,
Puffy clouds
And seagull.
She depicted young woman of 1970.
Golden tan, loop earrings, long curly lashes, dark eye shadow,
Bright red lipstick.


She sprayed Soft ‘N Dri!
Repeated “it never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever stings!”
Why do octopus in America have arms
Not legs?


All so mighty foreign.


At end of summer
Carnival came.


Like waking-up Christmas morning
To find Santa’s present
Tree lit with lights


Ferris wheels
Clowns everywhere


Nickel ticket
Got me on platform
Some tune played
When it stopped
I had lucky number.


Pink bakery box in hand
Proudly walked home
White frosting
Shredded coconut
Yellow cake.


Not so bad in
Wild wild west.






Jinko Gotoh is an independent animation producer. Born in Japan, Ms. Gotoh was raised in California and attended Columbia University, where she earned a BS in Applied Math, as well as an MFA in Film.

New Author Series Releases, Submission Announcements

The Poet’s Haven Boutique is pleased to have added new Poet’s Haven Author Series books by Dianne Borsenik, Caira Lee, Jennifer Polehemus, and Alex Gildzen as well as The Poet’s Haven Digest: We Only Come Out at Night!


More books are on the way.  If you would like to ensure you get each book as soon as it is released, we now offer subscriptions:-)


We have been getting e-mails asking this, so I thought I should say something on the blog: The Poet’s Haven is NOT having an open call for Author Series manuscript submissions this month.  While we have had our previous open calls in April, I am still working through the manuscripts submitted last year as well as trying to catch up on submissions to our Digest calls and the online galleries.  The current plan is for a manuscript call to be opened up in June.


Also (and I’m sure anyone looking at this website does not need to be told this, but…): The Poet’s Haven does NOT accept submissions via postal mail.  We have not accepted postal submissions since 2002.  As much as I love finding poems in my mailbox, whether I find the time to read them or not, none of them will be published on the site or in any of our Digest publications.  If you wish to submit work to The Poet’s Haven, please follow the guidelines and use the forms linked on the “Submissions” page.

“INHUMAN” Award Nominations!

Joshua_Gage_-_InhumanCongratulations to Joshua Gage, who has been nominated for both the 2014 Best Chapbook Elgin Award AND the 2014 Best Short Poem Rhysling Award!


The Elgin nomination is for Josh’s Poet’s Haven Author Series chapbook INHUMAN: Haiku from the Zombie Apocalypse, and the Rhysling nomination is for one of the haiku appearing in INHUMAN!  To celebrate this, we have marked the book down to just $5 (plus FREE SHIPPING) through the Elgin voting period!  (Markdown ends on August 15.)