“Quiet” by Eric Burbridge

A cloud of pollen surrounded the machine
I sneezed and finished the landscaping
Sunlight pierced the haze and stimulated the imagination
I reclined the glove soft leather

 

Pretty faces spread news and fear on high definition pixels
DVR temptation distracted momentarily
Discipline prevailed
And the power button restored tranquility

 

Sunlight drenched the family room
A squirrel paused on the window sill
It nibbled on an acorn and moved on
Admiration of a manicured landscape soothed wounded creativity
What beauty will come out of the silence?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eric Burbridge retired from public service after thirty-five years. Every since that wonderful day he has devoted himself to writing fiction and poetry.


“The Bite is Always Worse Than the Bark” by Colleen Redman

Worse than being bit
when I was eight years old
was the shame I felt
having to pull up my skirt
and pull down my pants
to show the doctor

 

Almost as bad as that
were the jokes that followed
and never having a dignified way
to say bum, butt, rear-end or fanny

 

For years I dreamt of growling dogs
German Shepherds that wouldn’t let me pass
at the school bus stop corner
of Spring Street and Nantasket Ave

 

I faced them down
Somewhere in my 30s
when my dreams changed from barking dogs
to being lost in strange cities

 

Worse than being bit
when I was eight years old
was being bit again at 65
being targeted then marked
with a vampire-like imprint
in the same place twice
for no reason

 

It seems that dog bites can be recurring
like bronchitis or ear infections
and that childhood bogeymen come back and bite
like dreams can bleed into your real life

 

And when you’re bit you in the ass
you have to ask “what is the metaphor
for this chewing out?”
What immunity have I been inoculated against?
What symmetry of destiny?
What betrayal?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


“Her Nursing Home Eyes” by Robert L. Porter, Jr.

At first she was bright and attentive,
Laughing at many things.
But slowly her musings diminished;
That is what Alzheimer’s brings.

 

Initially her eyes seemed normal,
But their glow began to ebb,
Progressing ever so surely,
Like a spider builds her web.

 

The light in her eyes grows dimmer,
Diminishing every day.
The sparkle, the gleam, and the glitter
Are slowly fading away.

 

She often looks without seeing –
Displaying a vacant stare;
It’s hard to hold her attention;
Distractions loom everywhere.

 

It’s hurtful to watch her vanishing,
And difficult to scribe this rhyme,
Explaining the tug at my heartstrings
With each painful passage of time.

 

It’s no small task to communicate
This ache that I feel inside;
I utter goodbye every visit
With tears that I cannot hide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert L. Porter, Jr. is retired. He spent many entrepreneurial years in the computer industries, but retired as a vice president in the financial/brokerage industry. He has written poems for over 40 years, but only began seeking publication in 2015. He had a father who read stories and poems of the masters to him; and he developed a fondness for Longfellow, J. W. Riley, Poe, and many, many others. After escaping the business world, Bob has had more time to spend with his life-long passion: poetry. Improving the style and substance of his poems is his continuing focus.


Poet’s Haven Surpasses 50 Print Book Titles

The Poet’s Haven recently published three new books; “Flying Solo: The Lana Invasion” by Herb Kauderer, “The Poet’s Haven Digest: Strange Land,” and “Becoming Bubbe” by Mala Hoffman.  While setting up for Summit StageFest last weekend, it occurred to me that we had just surpassed 50 print titles.  Going by the order the books were printed, Herb Kauderer’s book is our 50th release and Mala Hoffman’s book brings us to 52.  (This includes The Poet’s Haven Digest Issue Zero and the five VENDING MACHINE anthologies.)

 

This brings a big smile to my face, as I make plans to celebrate this press’ 20th anniversary in just a few months’ time.  :-D


The Poet’s Haven Digest: Strange Land – CALL ENDING APRIL 30

The Poet’s Haven Digest’s call for our upcoming “Strange Land” anthology (featuring poetry and stories about extraterrestrials and their view of us earthlings) will be CLOSED on April 30th.  We are working to have the book completed by late May or early June.  If you are one of those folk who have to wait until the last minute, that time is now.


Author Series Submission Call

It is April, and that means The Poet’s Haven Author Series is open to manuscript submissions.  The call will remain open until May 13.

 

We also still have calls open for The Poet’s Haven Digest: “Strange Land” (aliens), “The Distance Between Insanity and Genius” (super-villains), and “Darker Than Fiction” (real-life monsters like serial killers, etc.).  All three of these are close to having enough material to close the calls, so if you’ve been thinking of submitting something please don’t delay.


“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.