“Frigid Night” by Michael Britton

Cold, frigid night

Chugging and gasping against the wall of my breath.

The sharp air nips and bites my ear-curl

And freezes my eyeballs.

 

I pull my hat down a bit tighter to my skull box

As my knees become stiffened and bitter.

The worn soles of my boots crunch through the sleet-encrusted snow.

O tempest wind! Your fury ices my organs to their core.

 

Winter is a beast

And strong muscled as it wipes clean the trembling trees.

Voices ache and cry

And snap against the smothered snow…

and become silent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Britton is originally from Delaware, but currently lives in South Jersey with his wife and three cats.


“The Real World” by Albert Ruggiero

I walk the dog Puck, or rather, he walks me.
He pulls on the leash wanting to leave the ordinary
World behind. He stops, looks back, stares, and sighs,
Waiting for the sixty-five year old human to catch up.
My eyes sparkle, my cheeks burn rosy,
My chest aches for adventure.

 

After grooming, the Shih-chan looks like a white rat
Perched on short white legs. He puts his black nose
To the ground, sniffs, and picks up
The savory scent of a strange dog.
I count on him to show me the way.

 

At the end of the driveway, the little grey sparrows use
The hedges as a playground and shelter. Their peeps
Mix with the familiar bedlam of their flapping wings.
I chuckle at their frenetic love of life.

 

My journey takes us past single-family ranch-style homes.
A whisper, a desperate cry tickles my ear, pulls me up the hill
Toward a stand of lonely white pine.
The mournful song puts
It’s soft cheek next to my heart.

 

At the top of the hill
A blue uniformed guard patrols the street,
Directing traffic around orange cones,
Plastic horses, a large blinking florescent arrow.
Both resenting the delay in our journey,
I frown and my ears get red,
And Puck growls as we walk around the chaotic space.

 

A bottomless hole stares back up at us
As we delicately tip-toe by,
Sensing a force pulling us into the abyss.
Puck wines with fear, trying to pull me back down
The hill to the real world.

 

We have entered an unusual realm of strange powers and events.
My hair bristles and my muscles tighten
As the scream of a hawk, and behind me, the taunting “caw”
Of the crows echo through the halls of the trees.
The sun throws shafts of light through the yellow oak leaves
radiating an orange glow to the forest.

 

The white pine leans over and whispers in my ear,
“Please put my children in the soil, they are dying.”
I grab the cones and push them into the ground with my palm.

 

Across the street, three old maids, extremely independent,
Old, and reclusive, push aside the shades
And peak out their windows.
They are pale, squalid, and squat, with swollen knees,
With foul air blasting from their nostrils, ooze
Dripping from their eyes.
They grab at their chance, passing a monocle
To each other, at once holding it up to their eye.

 

I’ve seen them taunted by mischievous children.
“Look at the witches,” they shout,
Then run away into the woods.

 

The witches in unison twitch their pointer finger,
Beckoning me to come near,
But a dark-face Mastif barks
And growls warning me to stay away.

 

We reach the final leg of the journey when we are
Caught in the pocket of a cul-de-sac.
Perplexed, we look everywhere for a way out.
We believe the enemy has led us into the dead-end
To confuse, befuddle, and mystify us.

 

We spy the familiar orange radio towers
Scraping the belly of the sky like three needles.
They are pointers to home.

 

Puck pulls me through a hole in the chain-link fence.
The brambles clutch at my pants, snag at my sleeve,
Trying to keep me in their world.
My palms sweat and I bite my lip.

 

But Puck leads me onto a narrow, often-used deer path.
The trail curves down into a valley and then
Up to the top of a hill filled with weeping willows.

 

The next sunny day, alone, I go to the top of the hill.
Believe it or not, the signs, the guard,
The hole in the ground, and the witch’s house
Are gone, melted away into the darkness of the night.

 

If the truth be known, I yearn for that kingdom,
And wonder if there is any magic left in our real world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albert Ruggiero is a baby-boomer, so his view of the world has always been through his glasses of the 50′s, but his stories are filled with hope and a view of the future.  He is the author of two short-story collections; “The Curious Boy and Other Short Stories” and “Bestride the Narrow World,” and the novels “Wilson’s Wall” and “Daughter of God and Man.”


“The Goddess and Dostoyevsky” by Scott Thomas Outlar

Mercy me,
your beauty is too much
to bear…
I have to slip away,
but cannot help
to turn back
and steal just one last glance
to satisfy an urge
I know will never be fulfilled.

 

Some sugar
is too sweet
for this soured soul
that has escaped underground
in search of soiled answers
of questions far too existential
to ever reveal
the true nature of their core,
no matter how far
one burrows
beneath the earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Thomas Outlar spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the ever-changing currents of the Tao River while laughing at and/or weeping over life’s existential nature. His chapbook Songs of a Dissident is available from Transcendent Zero Press, and his words have appeared recently in venues such as Words Surfacing, Yellow Chair Review, Dissident Voice, Section 8 Magazine, and Void Magazine17numa.wordpress.com


“Remedy” by Colleen Redman

If you are quiet
be loud
If you are loud
be quiet

 

Don’t laugh
if you don’t get the joke
Don’t cheat
Wear red

 

If you are generous
be frugal
If you are frugal
be generous

 

Give away
all your ill fitting clothes
Give up your place in line

 

It’s okay to ask
for directions
There is no bush to beat around

 

Fall asleep smiling
Don’t set the alarm
Wake up on the wrong side
of the bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Redman writes and provides photography for The Floyd Press newspaper in Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Mothering Magazine, We’moon Journal, Floyd County Moonshine, and Artemis Journal. Online publications that have featured her poetry include Della Donna, Poetry24, and Clutching at Straws. She blogs daily at looseleafnotes.com. “Dear Abby, How can I get rid of freckles?” was her first published piece at the age of 11.


“My Surrounds” by John Grey

Dawn, lumberjacks are aching
to chain-saw a stand of trees.
Down at the docks,
fishermen already dressed for the damp,
unloosen their boats from the jetty.
Hunter’s up early, rifle in hand,
following tracks or stalking a blur of brown.
Nature’s like an early morning person.
It often happens just as the sun shows up.
I rise later to what sounds
like giant bees buzzing
or the kick of motors
as they split the watery surface
or the crack of a gun.
I went to bed with
the howl of a coyote,
the lapping of waters,
the rustle of an oak.
And I woke up alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions, and the anthology No Achilles, with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review, and Nebo.


“Car Radios” by Thomas M. McDade

My reading at an open-mic included poems
of my youthful drive from Pawtucket, Rhode Island
to Boulder, Colorado in a hurting ’55 Ford
and its radio that occasionally squeezed
out a hum between increasingly loud engine knocks.
And no word of a lie, pulling out of the parking lot
it was as if my radio had listened in,
sympathized and empathized
with its long departed faulty brethren.
Without whimper, ear-splitting bang,
or roar, my 2010 Kia Forte sound system
that included both satellite and Bluetooth
just upped and expired, and presto:
I was back on Route 80 in Lincoln, Nebraska,
500 miles away from my destination, and after
an overnight stop at the Rambler Motel in North
Platte, Nebraska I white knuckled it
into Boulder, but no here and now
pale paws driving home,
and I wasn’t broke as at the end
of my journey west.
I bought a junkyard radio and magically
managed to pull the old and install the new
without wrecking dashboard
or electrical.
I wonder often what happened to the Kia
where my recycled radio once lived.
A lemon, victim of despair?
A death car, accident occurring
on Route 80 West?
What song was playing
when the first responders arrived?
Could have been switched off,
the driver filling in the eerie
silences between lines
of a poem perceived as prophetic
in a sparsely attended coffeehouse—
microphone crackling.

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas M. McDade is a former computer programmer / analyst now residing in Fredericksburg, VA, previously CT and RI.  He is a graduate of Fairfield University who did two tours of duty in the U.S. Navy.   He has also been published in Abbreviate Poetry Journal.


Poet’s Haven to be at AWP Bookfair, debuts 4 new books

The Poet’s Haven will launch its 20th Anniversary celebration with a table at the AWP Conference & Bookfair in Washington DC!  We will be debuting four new books (three Author Series titles and one Archive Series title) at table 144-T.

 

Lucy Chau Lai-Tuen - Ungrateful - A Paper Daughter  Janet Snell - Twice Told Tale  Bruce McRae - Hearsay  John Burroughs - Water Works

 

If you’re in DC for the conference, come meet publisher Vertigo Xavier and talk about what’s coming up from The Poet’s Haven!

 

 


“My Chest X-ray” by Joe Bisicchia

What constellation,
what stardust fireworks,
what dying star, black hole,
what light travels
deep to my soul?

 

Come see and be lost in me.

 

Find space where we may share
a breath of universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Bisicchia writes of our shared spiritual dynamic. An Honorable Mention recipient for the Fernando Rielo XXXII World Prize for Mystical Poetry, his works have appeared in Sheepshead Review, Balloons Lit Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Black Heart Magazine, Dark Matter Journal, Poets Collectives Anthologies, and others. The current public affairs professional in New Jersey is a former award winning television host who also taught high school English. He also co-invented an award winning family card game.  www.widewide.world


“Q&A With a Sleeping Monster” by Holly Day

reclining in his midnight coffin
satin forms his favorite
pillow, elvin frail and pale
as death—”what’s happened to my son?” she

 

screams and tries to look behind the smile
the eyes, so tightly closed she pulls the
lids apart in hopes of finding answers
to questions she should never ask.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and The Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.


“Flour, Water, Love” by Daniel Lombardi

Water.
A lake upon a fire.
This lake lies undisturbed.
The still begins to boil.
A bubbling cauldron;
Now its time for pasta.

 

The swirling, knotted shapes,
Cascading into warmth.
Each piece is kissed by time,
Made soft by water’s hold.
A spoon dips in, for taste.
Perfect.

 

Drained.
Wisps of steam escaping,
Unfurling up with haste,
Eager to float away.
Fragrance wafts through senses,
Back from an older time.

 

Smells to thoughts to mem’ries:
Back in a house in Queens,
Another pot was boiled,
By Nana’s caring hands.
Moving with tasked purpose,
Sprinkling crystals of salt,
Soon.

 

Ready.
The tender butter melts,
Fusing in love and care.
The bowl is lowered down,
A smile on her face.

 

And suddenly I’m back.
And mom hands me the bowl.
As when I was a boy,
Delish’ and meaningful
Yum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Lombardi is an aspiring graphic designer and guitarist from Morristown, NJ.


“Renoir’s Women” by John Grey

Renoir’s women,
fulsome and draped in pink,
their nakedness, less undraped
than lifted out of
the clothing-slighted body

 

Unlike the older masters,
the pores are done away with,
no veins, no sinews beneath the skin,
just light.

 

Reflection is swathed in a blanket.
Exuberance bathes in the sea.
Gentleness fixes its hair.
Innocence lifts the whitest of legs
over the edge of a tub.

 

I’m as close as the stillness
around their lips and breasts.
I could almost… but I can never…
my favorite situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions, and the anthology No Achilles, with work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review, and Nebo.


“The College Caravan” by E.V. Wyler

Last night we loaded the minivan with her
suitcases, Rubbermaid vats, and chest of plastic drawers
stuffed with clothing, toiletries, school supplies, and posters.
While our vehicle is tightly packed, her room stands hollow;
drained of stuff and spirit, except for the furniture she left behind
like the last icicle melting unnoticed in the spring thaw.
Morning’s excitement, today’s foreseen guest, found her passkey
so early, she displaced the alarm clock, announcing her presence.
On the verge of adventure, our cramped van vacates the driveway,
eager to meet the other jammed vehicles joining our journey.
Sporadic chatter splinters moments of spurned monotony,
spanning the miles amassing in our rearview mirror until…
A hatchback hauling a heavy load leads our line exiting for the rest
stop, where the parking lot hosts vehicle after vehicle stuffed with
suitcases, Rubbermaid vats, and chests of plastic drawers…
Our re-entry acceleration runs smoothly, courtesy of a
clamshell-covered car graciously slowing to permit our advance.
From sedans to SUVs, the right lane is flush with fenders and
families, forming a cohesive chain whose links approach “The Exit”
signaling for the deceleration lane.  The college caravan, flowing
onto the exit ramp and through the green light, turns and winds
along Main Street.  As the minivans, hatchbacks, clamshell-covered
cars, and SUVs pour onto college campus USA, they’re carrying
suitcases, Rubbermaid vats, chests of plastic drawers,
and, of course, the proud, nervous parents…
escorting the Freshman Class of 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

E.V. “Beth” Wyler is a middle-aged homemaker and poet who lives in New Jersey with 3 children, 3 cats, 2 beta fish, and her husband, Richard. Her poems have been featured in The Storyteller, WestWard Quarterly, Feelings of the Heart, Nuthouse, The Pine Times, The Pink Chameleon, and The Rotary Dial.


“Individualism” by Gary Beck

The Information Age
allows us to march
to the beat of a different drum,
as long as we purchase
the same goods and services
as everyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press); Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press); Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines and Tremors (Winter Goose Publishing); and Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). His published novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Acts of Defiance (Artema Press), and Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), as well as his short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced off Broadway. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.


“Some Call It Passion” by Scott Thomas Outlar

Bleed for me
a dying wish
of life that will never be
while I comfort you
as best I can
and pretend
that your madness is beautiful

 

Sleep beside me
in broken dreams
that haunt and linger with chaos
while I stay awake
for days on end
and laugh
as each neuron snaps in turn

 

Scream at me
with vicious tongue
your anger and your sadness
while I drift softly
through the shadows
and crawl
into the next wave of entropy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Thomas Outlar spends the hours flowing and fluxing with the ever-changing currents of the Tao River while laughing at and/or weeping over life’s existential nature. His chapbook Songs of a Dissident is available from Transcendent Zero Press, and his words have appeared recently in venues such as Words Surfacing, Yellow Chair Review, Dissident Voice, Section 8 Magazine, and Void Magazine17numa.wordpress.com


“Second Hand Chance” by Colleen Redman

I’ve written this poem before
It’s like a movie I saw when I was young
that I can’t remember the end to

 

There’s a worn pathway that’s easy to find
but there’s also amnesia
and I can’t take my eyes off
the point of remembering
as it is happening again

 

I flip TV channels
while the monarch butterflies
fly 3,000 miles fighting weather
and songbirds raise their pitch
to be heard above the human chatter

 

Second movies are like second teeth
We call second round children grand
because they bring a second wind
to the lucid dream of life

 

Some of us will have second childhoods
Our car keys will be taken away
We’ll eat too much sugar
and walk around in one slipper

 

I’ve written this poem before
I’ve written this poem before
But I can’t remember the end

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Redman writes and provides photography for The Floyd Press newspaper in Virginia. Her poems have appeared in Mothering Magazine, We’moon Journal, Floyd County Moonshine, and Artemis Journal. Online publications that have featured her poetry include Della Donna, Poetry24, and Clutching at Straws. She blogs daily at looseleafnotes.com. “Dear Abby, How can I get rid of freckles?” was her first published piece at the age of 11.


“Beyond this Cancer” by Joe Bisicchia

Beyond this cancer

 

You love me.

 

All of me.
Despite the parts that are not me.

 

Erase
all that was and find what is
always ready to be made.

 

Soon,
so much drifts away.

 

Not us.

 

We shall stay.

 

Love is built that way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Bisicchia writes of our shared spiritual dynamic. An Honorable Mention recipient for the Fernando Rielo XXXII World Prize for Mystical Poetry, his works have appeared in Sheepshead Review, Balloons Lit Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Black Heart Magazine, Dark Matter Journal, Poets Collectives Anthologies, and others. The current public affairs professional in New Jersey is a former award winning television host who also taught high school English. He also co-invented an award winning family card game.  www.widewide.world


“Worry” by Bob Lind

What if I open the door and find
My home full of snakes?
What then?
Hundreds of serpents,
Slithering around every room.
Rude serpents at that.
What if I ask them to leave and they won’t?
What then? What, I ask you.

 

I suppose I can hire a gang of mongooses (mongeese?)
To come and chomp down on them.
That will solve it.

 

But where will I get the money?
Do mongeese even care about money?
And what if the mongoose gang likes my place
And moves in?
What if they leave the cap off the toothpaste
And dump their ashes in the butter dish,
Stuff like that?
What then? What then?

 

I can buy a gun and shoot them.
But there’s a three-day waiting period.
Three days of abiding with sharp-tooth rodents
Who probably don’t like me to begin with.

 

And when I do get the gun and shoot them all,
My place will be full of bullet holes. (I’m not a good shot.)
The neighbors will call the cops about the noise.
Maybe there’s even some kind of
Anti-weasel-shooting ordinance in the city
That extends to mongeese.

 

I’ll get thrown in jail.
What if the jail cell is full of crocodiles?
What then?

I suppose I can bribe a guard to get me some croc poison.
I’ll sell my gun and remaining bullets to get the money.
I guess that will solve it.

 

Man I feel relieved.
It never hurts to be prepared.

 

But what if the crocs outbid me and the guard poisons me instead?

 

I’ll have to think about this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Lind is a musician whose songs have been covered by more than 200 artists, including: Cher, Aretha Franklin, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithful, Glen Campbell, Kingston Trio, Dolly Parton, and Nancy Sinatra. His lyrics have been taught in colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada.  He won the Florida Screenwriters Competition with his script Refuge.  He won the Southern California Motion Picture Council’s Bronze Halo Award for his play The Sculptors.  He also has poetry published in Iodine Poetry Journalwww.BobLind.com


“Privatio Boni” by Andreas Fleps

Most of the time,
I speak with searing silence,
Because spoken words
Are not remotely eloquent enough
To fully express the countless dire sentences
Being scribed within me.

 

Thus, I must conclude
That our loudest cries are the ones
Nobody can hear
And pain-riddled quiet
Can puncture eardrums.

 

My ears incessantly ring
With unremitting unvoiced thoughts,
Dropping like hushed bombs detonating
Along my fragile mind’s landscape.

 

 

I am a concoction of craters,
A manifestation of absence…
A lack of what ought to be,
And with every noiseless explosion
My loss deepens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andreas Fleps is a recent college graduate from the Chicagoland area. He has a theology degree from Dominican University.  andreasfleps.com


“Out of Misery” by Mike Nichols

Shhh.
I want to stay,
sleeping, senseless.
But your absence
flips the lids on its
stunning baby-blues
and begins to chant
its untrue news:

 

“Good Morning, Good Morning,
Good Morning,”

 

like an abscess, throbbing.

 

And I cannot jam
the bloodied nibbled nubs
of my fingers
deep enough down
to staunch the sound.

 

I can’t continue
to accede
to the make-believe
that you
still stand,
at the stove,
scrambling eggs
in your too short bathrobe.

 

Your shadow
giggles and hides,
bats its lashes like some
exasperating child caught cheating
at hide-and-go-seek.

 

There. Behind the mustard
in the fridge.
There. Behind the bear
on the toilet paper package.

 

Your apparition
activates an aggressive part of me
which thinks it somehow
can get free.
Crouching, like
a wolf worrying away
at its leg twisted in the
steel toothed trap.
Hunkering in my head
its panting, an unrelenting:

 

Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh-Uh…

 

When I struggle
tarnished teeth begin
stripping off the skin,
rolling it down like
a red striped tube sock.

 

Still, I can’t seem
to make myself
gnaw my own leg off.
Any decent woman would
put a living thing
out of its misery.
Wouldn’t she?

 

The drugs
and the bottles
and the drunken others
lined
atop the glass,
atop the bar,
atop my bed,
barely blunt
the aching absence
of you,
within my head.

 

I guess I’ll get up,
again,
scramble my own eggs,
and remind myself how
I don’t need a bullet
with your name on it
to cut a new track
for my
train of thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Nichols was born all in a rush just after midnight, with no assistance from doctor or midwife, under a waning Tennessee moon on a chill October night behind a partition at the back of a tar-paper shack in which his unwed mother had holed-up for a time. Mike won the 2014 Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. His fiction and poetry may be found at Underground Voices, Bewildering Stories, and Black Rock & Sage.