“Change Entrails Green” by Twixt

The wary and tarry of change succumbs
to what it is weary and teary of.
Change is digestive tract: the lovat of
caterpillar purtenance dissect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twixt is the mononym-onym of Peter Specker. He has had poetry published in Margie, The Indiana Review, Amelia, California State Quarterly, RE:AL, Pegasus, First Class, Pot-pourri, Art Times, The Iconoclast, Epicenter, Subtropics, Quest, Confrontation, Writers’ Journal, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, and others. He lives in Ithaca, New York.


“Shaker Furniture” by Ruth Z. Deming

(at the Philadelphia Museum of Art)

 

Narrow wood
and fair
cut from trees
of another America
furniture
plain
worn at the
touch points
shy furniture
caught behind the museum’s glass wall
like a ballerina hooking up her dress.

 

The desk and rocker
the candelabra
upended like a bird on wing,
flow without order or design
in their latest
retirement place. Another
room, dark as
a porch in twilight
houses a high, narrow bed.
We can’t go in.
Who warmed their legs beneath these sheets?
Or dreamt of forbidden touch?

 

Really, it wasn’t so long ago that
they left, half a century merely,
the Great Ones, sitting in
the farmhouse for
their last regal portraits,
turning their ancient heads
like captive eagles
listening
still listening
for the scuff of shoes
on the kitchen floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, River Poets, and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.


“Dawn In Palm Springs” by Robert Halleck

As light slowly appears
dawn is approaching.
Above are streaks of lightening
followed by thunder.
It’s 6 am in the land
of second homes.
The sprinklers start
as raindrops dot
the sidewalks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Halleck is a hospice volunteer and retired banker. He has written poetry for over 50 years. Recent poems have appeared in Bluepepper, The Camel Saloon, and the 2014-2015 San Diego Poetry Society Anthology.


“Hapa” by Sam Louie

I don’t quite fit in,
not 100% Asian,
nor 100% “American.”

 

Call me, “Hapa,”
Hawaiian for mixed,
half-breed,
bi-racial,
rejected, not accepted,
unwanted,
no tribe to call my own,
all I want really is to belong,
a place, I can call home.

 

I live in the land in-between,
Like the Hebrews during Exodus,
wandering in the desert,
looking for comfort and rest,
searching for my identity,
only to have others say quizzically,
“You don’t look like me!”

 

Not White enough to fit in with the mainstream,
nor Asian enough to be a minority.
I’m constantly teased,
not comfortable being just me.

 

I’m confounded,
conflicted,
cursed,
caught in a cultural cross-fire.
Who will leave me alone?
Better yet, who will accept me as their own?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Louie is a first-generation Chinese-American psychotherapist with a focus on Asian addictions and cultural issues. He is also an Emmy Award-winning former journalist who currently writes for Psychology Today on issues related to race and culture. In addition, he writes and performs poetry addressing issues related to immigrant experiences, culture, addictions, and recovery.  samlouiemft.com


“Observation” by Yusef Tahir

defined by reputations and reality shows
is the essence of why
as a nation of black people we
can’t grow
almost like we need ignorance to be relevant
socially accepted negligence
by standards unprecedented
selling our story for small profit gains
numb to the internal pain
because within reach
is fortune and fame
force-fed propaganda walking down unattainable roads
only to react with shame
to see for what our dignity was sold
see, when brothas claim pimp, playa, thug, and killer
and shout that they spill more blood
than that of a river
imagine what these kids visualize
to be when they get bigger
misconception and misguided direction
mentally we have no protection
from psychological irrespective devastation
arguments over who we are and are not
verbal death sparring
dwelling in the enemy’s plot
instead of fighting against the problems
that affect everyday existence
we pull guns on
the next man for the simplistic
desensitized to violence
foreign and domestic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yusef Tahir was born and raised in Massillon, Ohio.  He began writing poetry as an outlet to express his thoughts in a creative way and has been writing for over 10 years.  He loves the idea of putting words together to paint pictures.  Yusef hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Kent State University.


“Birds at the End of Summer” by Miki Byrne

Broad acres. Green, shimmering.
A nap of waves ruffled. Gusting winds huff.
Race in cold tumbles over open ground.
Grass raises moist silvered tips, patches clumped
in congealed wads—detritus from the last mowing.
Compacted like chewed cud, bleeding sap.
Mayflies hover, flip-flap in dark thousands.
Buzz like bees in a jar. Snatched from the air
by dipping swallows that swoop with eye-blinking speed.
Dives drop from cloud-shadow’s morphing camouflage.
Unending gyres twist the air, white bellies flash
against grey sky.
At ground-level a flock of starlings feed.
Rise in one great cloud. Settle like smoke solidified.
Roll in a great curl as those at the back feed
then flow to the front. Continuous motion,
smooth compaction of a thousand parts.
Suddenly they lift. Soar like handfuls of pepper grains
hurled skywards. To group, zoom, swoop.
Off to further feeding grounds.
Past the shadowed horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miki Byrne has written three poetry collections, had work included in over 160 poetry magazines and anthologies, and won a few poetry competitions. She has read on both radio and TV, judged poetry competitions, and was a finalist for Poet Laureate of Gloucestershire. Miki is disabled and lives near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, UK.


“New Year’s” by Richard Hartwell

Cats cuddle closer, fur fluffed
preventing heat loss, wintry
revelers toast in a new year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Hartwell is a retired middle school (remember the hormonally-challenged?) teacher living in Moreno Valley, CA. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather be still tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon.


“Teddy Bear” by Steven Jacobson

eyes grey and granite, sparkling and shining, like the
moonlight luminously across the lake.

 

beard soft and shaggy like a large and
lovable saint bear-nard pup.

 

face gentle and gentile like an
uplifting and used book.

 

soul lucent and lovely like the
pure and precious driven snow.

 

hair sticky and short, like a
grown and grey koala.

 

tummy oval and oversize, like a sweet and
succulent water melon.

 

heart rendering and reachable, like a
rich and reliable light house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steven Jacobson was born and raised in the Mid-west graduating from UW-La Crosse, WI with a double major in Physics and Mathematics. He has attended classes from the Loft Literary Center, promoting all levels of creative writing. His poetry has appeared in Access Press, Calvary Cross, Burningword, The Glasscoin, Praisewriters, Enoiar Review, Penwood Review, Littleredtree, and Message in a Bottle.


“Tiger” by Frank De Canio

Like the Phoenix, he rises out of ash
from the chastening fire of his rage.
How sweet the sting of her linguistic lash
confining his wild tiger to its cage.
Fleet-footed carnivores prowling the plain
must seem no fiercer stalking helpless prey
than him, smoldering, making her maintain
control of him. He’ll doggedly obey
her every whim, as though her verbal whip
exacts his shamed submission to her rule.
And he’s afraid to move for fear her grip
will lose its feral hold on him. He drools,
while she keeps pacing – following his rout –
like she’s inside the cage and looking out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank De Canio was born in New Jersey and works in New York. He loves music of all kinds, from Bach to Dory Previn, from Amy Beach to Amy Winehouse, and the poetry of Dylan Thomas. He also attends a Café Philo in New York City.


“Under My Dark” by Lana Bella

Five long hours. Under my dark. I sprawl awake.
Tumbling through the house. Sinking against the
windowpane, watching rained acoustics patter on
the terraced roof. Cries of raindrops. Mingle with
a symphony of ghosts roaming about me. Then I
pour myself a memory from a simmering cauldron,
flavored of alphabet scars and flakes of consciousness.
Hands on the pot. A sudden blink. How do I pour the
liquid thoughts and lettered inks into a bottomless beaker
without leaving my body in a pool of shadows? But now,
my lips thirst for drink. To warm over the cold where the
bone is hollow. Until, I lean in, something exposed and
glassy, echoing on the surface. It is my eyes staring back
at me. Gliding through the fluid with hooked arms. And
its mouth slurping up the pale gullet, heaving off the
squirting blood. The muddy mass of flesh throws up
in the mirage. Then high above, a dullard of rain again
breaks over the house. If I listen, my heart would once
more weep and my eyelids would suspend in tears. So I
stretch my skin where the stairs lay muted and heavy,
under the particled air into which darkness goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction published and forthcoming with Anak Sastra, Atlas Poetica, Bareback Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Buck-Off Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine, Dead Snakes Poetry, Deltona Howl, Earl of Plaid Lit, Eunoia Review, Eye On Life Magazine, Family Travel Haiku, First Literary Review-East, Five Willows Literary Review, Foliate Oak Literary, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Global Poetry, Ken*Again, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Marco Polo Arts Literary, Mothers Always Write, Nature Writing, New Plains Review, Poetry Pacific, Spank The Carp, The Camel Saloon, The Commonline Journal, The Higgs Weldon, The Voices Project, Thought Notebook, Undertow Tanka Review, Wordpool Press, Beyond The Sea Anthology, War Anthology: We Go On, Wilderness House Literary Review, and has been a featured artist with Quail Bell Magazine. She resides on some distant isle with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps.  facebook.com/niaallanpoe


“After-Life” by Hugh Giblin

I try to imagine what it will be like,
not how it feels, but how I’ll look
to the young group busy scrutinizing
every detail of my naked prone body,
touching, commenting on its every part.
Am I some sort of vicarious exhibitionist?

 

They will saw off the top of my skull,
glad I don’t have to listen to that noise,
and slice me down from neck to navel.
Of course, I won’t feel a single thing,
its an experience I won’t experience,
not subjective although a subject.

 

They will see parts of me I never have,
an intimacy denied to me while living.
I assume it will all be very clinical,
no bad jokes or untoward behavior.
They will even give me a new name,
a new identity, an afterlife indeed.

 

I wonder if I will have gained a kind of immortality,
the first body, like the first sex, always remembered.
Perhaps the details will be dulled by time
and the many bodies that have passed their eyes.
Maybe only the deadly disease is remembered.
Rather than the person that suffered it and died.

 

The body, like meat in a supermarket case,
each piece carefully labeled, neatly dissected,
the blood sucked off, and placed on display.
The bones, the muscles, the ligaments in logical disarray,
the disparate parts of the skeletal personality,
deconstructed from flesh, blood and bone.

 

The class over, the parts, like the remnants of a festive meal,
are collected and bagged, ready for their final journey
to the crematorium where they will meet their fiery end,
their mission of life and mission of death completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hugh Giblin has been writing poetry for some years. He has been published in local and online journals and won honorable mention in a Duke poetry competition.  He is an omnivorous reader of poetry, likes realism, and is happy to be a minor league poet.


“Incidental Epiphany” by Drew Marshall

Someone or some entity
Bless me
I have not sinned
I bear the signs
Of a marked man

 

Pointed fingers
Accusations
Truths, taken as excuses

 

Because of tomorrow
All things being equal
I remain
Fighting in my sleep
Charming, but angry

 

A mainstream, outsider
Has missed his intended, destination
Time is a luxury of views
I cannot afford

 

Dusty rhythms arrive
At memories end
Under the guise, of cloudy dreams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drew Marshall works as a Program Assistant in the mental health field. He has also worked as a Benefit Analyst and litigation paralegal. He enjoys practicing guitar and snorting vanilla scented candles.


“A Moment of Unconditional Love for Little Ones” by Cara Vitadamo

Love bleeds into my soul
Plastering itself to my heart.
I can’t breathe for fear of devastating loss.

 

Always present
Never relenting
Love does not rest
Bringing anxiety
To do its best.

 

Love adheres permanently
To the synapses and axons of my brain
With a glue so powerful
It cannot be pried away.

 

Love is here to stay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cara Vitadamo is a registered nurse that enjoys poetry. She has been published in Torrid Literature, All Things Girl, and Mused a Bella Online Literary Review Magazine.


“222 Homicides in Philadelphia” by Lee Erdo

alone,
on Philadelphia tarmac
lights illuminating recycled
wolf howl over the museum
can you feel them gnawing your skin?
seeping beneath your flesh
with a
blood threatening atmosphere
riding the expressway
with odd misshapen
hues

 

everywhere to nowhere
going postal
& born to be wild

 

Will Smith marches
for an
end to violence
mournful ears
read the words
of missing children
mocking birds play
raunchy bass heavy metals
pounding out a killer’s ransom

 

red eyes blazing anger
out of darkness
like fat slices
of stalking déjà vu

 

explosions stabbing mobs
of crime
sigh an upsurge
of inmates on death row

 

while the
signs on jails shout
“no vacancy”
grimacing screams
on playgrounds
bouncing off the streets

 

Reading Terminal curled up in fetal position
in the narrow alleys of poverty
secluded pathways of drug runners
kids owned by the hood
billowing mysteries of legal failures (mayor street?)

 

living in bell jars of beveled glass
apprehension edges on
the brink of everyday life
putting an end to confidence
growing skeletal remains

 

wearisome
living five floors below the surface
with dark-paneled pubs
pushers & pimps of a worldly hell

 

vomiting freshly spilled blood
a siren’s call in the distance
shifting eyes of some swinging door
monumentally erupting guns
then…
another…
fallen…
police officer
responding to the sum

 

pierced empty sidewalks
with sharp blades of sludge
hidden turnstiles of souls
where children go
at age four

 

and through the visor of mind
refuge screams in terror
“the kid’s zones…”
offered on Ogontz Ave
“stop-snitching” t-shirts
victimize their next targets

 

going against everything we know
while agony of surviving families… friends
have grave decisions to hold
the American Dream becomes
something that goes bump in the night

 

************************************

 

222 homicides in Philadelphia
as of Tuesday, July 25, 2006
sometimes it just gets to ya after a while

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Erdo is from north-east Pennsylvania.

 


“For the Poet Taken Away” by Ruth Z. Deming

(in memory of Jane Kenyon, 1947-1995)

 

 

I was looking for
a book of poetry
asparagas-thin,
skinny books being
easier on one’s chest for
bedtime reading.

 

Finding one,
I brought it to the sales girl
who sighed and said,
“Oh, dear,
it doesn’t have a bar code.”

 

Ah, blessed day
for poets and for me.
I looked at the back cover,
clean, unmarred
by that fat
disorderly line-up of sticks.

 

“No wonder,” I said to the sales girl.
“The author has just died
and probably took them with her.”

 

On my way to the car
I invited the poet
to slip inside me.
“Use my body any time you wish,”
I said and waited, my feet
pattering on the pavement,
for some sort of inner settling
that never came.

 

I showed her
the cluster of winter weeds,
their tassels dark with age.
Somehow, in the construction
of this aromatic new Barnes and Noble,
they managed to escape
the carnage that befell the
more obvious trees and woodlands.

 

Did she miss them?
these earthly delights -
thick-maned dogs, ponds, frosty maples -
images from her poems.

 

I will miss them,
when the time comes,
something as simple as
the back of my hand
creased with wrinkles;
fingernails, all without
moons,
a family trait.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in literary journals including Metazen, Mad Swirl, River Poets, and Eunoia Review. A psychotherapist and mental health advocate, she runs New Directions Support Group for people and families affected by depression and bipolar disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.


“Would It Be Okay” by Mike Nichols

I get that we are tough,
that we’ll get through this
because, I watched you
gripping the telephone
pressing your forehead against
her nightingale patterned wallpaper
and smiling those exact words
after announcing her passing
to the voice on the other side
but

 

would it be okay if
for right now I just
didn’t get through this, if
I didn’t even try to? And instead, stood
gaping for an hour or for a year,
tumbling down the rabbit hole in Slow-Mo
snatching after her fluttering
hospital gown, falling
through memories: her teaching me
to iron my own shirts, to vacuum, to overlap
each pass, keeping the carpet lines straight.
These little necessities I see, but
I’m still struggling
to get the meaning
in the nightingales’ wobbling song
and

 

would it be okay if
these uninvited guests got up
from her matched floral print
couch and loveseat,
her cushioned piano bench,
her lattice backed chair set with
tear shaped trickles of lacquer
hardened on each leg,
and wordlessly walked out,
taking their false sympathy and forced cheer,
bouncing and straining behind them
like white and blue helium balloons,
leaving us, unaccompanied, with her absence
and

 

would it be okay if
I just gave way, collapsed to my knees
on the ceramic tile in front of the
crumb strewn kitchen counter
breaking
into one hundred-thousand
boy shaped pieces
and
would it be okay if
in imitation of the indent
left behind by her withered body
in the rented hospital bed
I arranged myself
splayed out, starfish style
to sink, to drift, to drown
in the unfathomable
sorrow?
because

 

I know
we are tough
and

 

I promise to be tough,
later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.


“Seduction” by Briana Staszak

The carefully chosen words drip seductively from my lips.
I slip the straps off my shoulders, and I am exposed for you only.
Do you see me now?
How I struggle to let what I love go?
The ink pours from my pen as the thoughts stream from my head.
Tears branch out and burn rivers, seared into my cheeks.
Do you see me now?
Caress my feelings like you touched my body:
Hold me close and breathe in every thought of you I’ve ever had.
Understand me.
Feel me.
Kiss me.
I taste as bitter as vinegar, my tongue tracing your lips, mixing my poison with yours.
Let your virginal hands explore the corruption that is my darkness.
I want to let myself shine for you, like at the beginning.
But one can’t shine in fear and sadness, can they?
Let my paper skin and brittle bones be your gilded rock, your silver, your gold, your fucking tin foil.
I miss being the ocean, the sun, the moon, and your constellation.
Search for me again, for I am lost.
Understand me.

 

Do you see me now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Briana Staszak is a young writer who was born and raised in Southern California. She learned to love writing in her teens and hasn’t stopped ever since.


“Eyes of the Phoenix” by Linda M. Crate

the sunlight races
like blood through your veins
you’re always running,
and you can’t seem to catch a break;
i know you all too well
you are the sinner pretending saint
the man who disguises lust
for love and you’ll blame anyone but
yourself for all the problems
that you’ve caused—
you can turn from a tangerine sunset
into a bone-chilling snow storm
full of blue lipped angels
in ten seconds
flat,
and i know you intended me to die with all
your other angels
but like a phoenix i rose from my ashes burning
away all the suffocating snow and ice
leaving nothing behind but
my eyes;
and i hope they burn you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She is the author of two chapbooks (A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn from Fowlpox Press and Less Than a Man from The Camel Saloon) and the fantasy novels Blood & Magic and Dragons & Magicfacebook.com/pages/Linda-M-Crate/129813357119547


“Heaven Means” by Tom Pescatore

There is a secret
stair in my grandfather’s
closet, one tucked away
behind his clothes.
I think maybe he didn’t
even know about it,
mainly, because it seems
accessible only in dreams.

 

I walk up those
steps some nights, having
parted his slacks and
jackets, air getting thin,
sight diminishing,
brain suffocating,
but I never make it
to the top.

 

I believe it leads
to the roof, or
some other equally
magical place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Pescatore grew up outside Philadelphia, dreaming of the endless road ahead, carrying the idea of the fabled West in his heart. He maintains a poetry blog. His work has been published in literary magazines both nationally and internationally, but he’d rather have them carved on the Walt Whitman bridge or on the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row.


“A Face in an Endless Sea” by Lana Bella

Into the waking sea of stirring succubi,
I walk through the cobblestone with
measured insolence. It is my life and
yet it is not. It is a known street yet
serpents edge the ground my feet have
not trodden upon. A revised life. While
it is endured on a rewritten script. Like
curious pages from an aged notebook,
flush of spell-casting recipes and archaic
theorems. Drafted in inked calligraphy
from my hand held within someone else’s.
I am thinking I ought to shake away the
cold fingertips that I cannot slake. And
what it would be like to will my private
thoughts, and travel without fragmented
memories. But my verbal bones are deep-
seated and buried, pack together to guard
the centermost. Leaving bare the external
skin. To which I persist on as a compressed
infection, neither growing smaller in mass
nor vanishing into a fictional poem. Yet,
I know not with certainty whether I am
the vast sky or its dispersed molecules.
Or just a face in an endless sea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lana Bella has a diverse work of poetry and flash fiction published and forthcoming with Anak Sastra, Atlas Poetica, Bareback Magazine, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination, Buck-Off Magazine, Calliope Magazine, Cecile’s Writers’ Magazine, Dead Snakes Poetry, Deltona Howl, Earl of Plaid Lit, Eunoia Review, Eye On Life Magazine, Family Travel Haiku, First Literary Review-East, Five Willows Literary Review, Foliate Oak Literary, Garbanzo Literary Journal, Global Poetry, Ken*Again, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Marco Polo Arts Literary, Mothers Always Write, Nature Writing, New Plains Review, Poetry Pacific, Spank The Carp, The Camel Saloon, The Commonline Journal, The Higgs Weldon, The Voices Project, Thought Notebook, Undertow Tanka Review, Wordpool Press, Beyond The Sea Anthology, War Anthology: We Go On, Wilderness House Literary Review, and has been a featured artist with Quail Bell Magazine. She resides on some distant isle with her novelist husband and two frolicsome imps.  facebook.com/niaallanpoe