Build Your Own Holiday Bundle!



The Poet’s Haven’s “pocket-size” books make great stocking-stuffers!  From now until January 1st, get 10% off a purchase over $20 or 20% off a purchase over $40 with free shipping!  Use the coupon code “bundle10″ or “bundle20″ on your shopping cart.  (Discount only applies to single books published by The Poet’s Haven: does not apply to consignment sales or already discounted bundles.)

2015′s Pushcart Nominees

The Poet’s Haven has submitted its nominations for the next Pushcart Prize.  From this year’s publications, we have selected:





(While, yes, I do think it is egotistical to nominate one’s own poem for the Pushcart award, the Pushcart anthologies are only sold in print, so I’m hoping my anti-eBook rant will provide the editors with a laugh.) :-)

VENDING MACHINE: Poetry for Change volume 5


“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 5 features:

Dianne Borsenik – “Transformation Sutra (Say ‘Please’ for Peace)”
Steve Brightman – “Anatomy of Peace”
Theresa Göttl Brightman – “Where the Answers Can Be Found”
John Burroughs – “Primacy”
Mike Finley – “The Return Stroke”
Ken Gradomski – “Scale”
Cristine A. Gruber – “Widow’s Mite”
Anita Herczog – “What We Do (A Bummer Song)”
Azriel Johnson – “Hey! You!”
Strider Marcus Jones – “Two Misfits”
Chuck Joy – “Prestidigitation”
Sasha Kasoff – “Rebirth”
Lori Ann Kusterbeck – “Mister, Can You Tell Me How to Change the World?”
W.F. Lantry – “Candleflame”
Geoffrey Landis – “What If You Die”
El Habib Louai – “Since You Asked Me How I Felt”
Marc Mannheimer – “Building”
William Merricle – “Roughing It”
Roseville Nidea – “Stigma”
Jen Pezzo – “Perpetual About-Face”
Kenneth Pobo – “Jordan Davis”
David S. Pointer – “Global Stone Trade”
Tina Puckett – “Glimmer”
Jill Simms – “Being the Change”
Lady Kathy Smith – “Straighten Up”
Steven B. Smith – “Bending Machine”
Bekah Steimel – untitled
Paul Strohm – “Their God Grieved”
Jon Thorn – “Someday”
Brett A. Tipton – “Change”
Katherine Trettel – “Courtney’s Dress”
Marie Vibbert – “Shelter”
Mercedes Webb-Pullman – “The Perfect Mind of Life (Recalling Wounded Knee)”
Lynn White – “A Rose for Gaza”
Beverly Zeimer – “Where Has the Earth Gone To”


with a cover by Eileen Matias



Stardust Poetry show series on hiatus…

The Stardust Poetry event series will be going on an indefinite hiatus.


Karma Cafe recently changed owners, and the new owner changed the cafe’s hours.  While the cafe may be willing to stay open later for events that were previously scheduled, I have held off promoting the next show while waiting for confirmation of this.  Unfortunately, between my day-job hours and the, I’m sure, overwhelming task of taking over the business operations at Karma, contact has not yet been made.  There is no longer sufficient time to confirm features and effectively promote the show that was scheduled for July 18th.  As such, I have made the decision to put the show on hiatus.


I do not know what is going to happen next.  The event details may get worked out with Karma, I may begin the search for a new venue, or I may take this opportunity to set up something completely different.  Stay tuned…

“A Day in the Life of a Writer” by Pete Able

In the morning I neglect the floor
Much, much longer than necessary.
As I examine my face in the bathroom mirror,
I contemplate the lighter side of suicide.


Many of my muscles have stopped working prematurely–
Stooping for cereal bowls can be a harrowing experience.
Invariably I find the afternoon over
Just a few brief moments after my day has begun.
I doodle in my notebook for a little while,
I watch the ceiling fan give its performance,
And–poof–it’s over.


Once it’s dark I sneak a drink from the kitchen cabinet.
Even though it’s only two or three fingers of tequila,
The woman living here always finds something to say.
She takes offense at me drinking every night.
But I have made a conscious decision to drink every night.


Going out for a smoke is the only way I get any fresh air.
Sometimes I walk down the driveway to the street,
Just so I can say I left the house that day.
Oh, and once a week I take out the trash.






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

“Strains the Rope” by Diane Webster

The pickup’s camper shell strains the rope
tied across it from fender to fender
to hold the bulging contents to the bed.
Newspapers threaten to spread pages
like giant phoenix wings emerging
from egg shell flung aside.
The front seat packed for the driver only
in form-fitting newspapers, fast-food cups and napkins
lets the old man owner escape beside
the grove of newspaper stands
carefully checking his pockets
of tissues, napkins, store receipts
for metal quarters, dimes, nickels.
The urge to throw litter beside the truck
to see him snatch it like a pack rat
with a prize scurrying to his nest
overwhelms me enough to check my pockets.






Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life or nature or an overheard phrase and to write from her perspective at the moment. Many nights she falls asleep juggling images to fit into a poem. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Illya’s Honey, River Poets Journal and other literary magazines.

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.