Sunday, February 18, 2018

Goodwill by Austin Davis

She’s the kind of girl
that can make
a sunhat
from Goodwill
look like a veil,

especially when
the cornflower ribbon
matches the waves
on her dress

and she’s twirling
to the chorus
of Forever between
the silver aisles.



Austin Davis' poetry has been published widely in literary journals and magazines. Most recently, his work can be found in Pif Magazine, Folded Word, The Poetry Shed, and Spillwords. "The Moon and Her Ocean" was published in 2017 by Fowlpox Press and Austin's first full length collection, "Cloudy Days, Still Nights" is being released this spring by Moran Press. Check out Austin's website at https://austindavispoetry.weebly.com/

Saturday, February 17, 2018

AR 15 by Ed Ruzicka

It is Valentines day and we are at home drinking white wine.
It is Valentines day and I have grilled black drum in a sauce of butter and basil.
It is Valentines day and seventeen lay spilled across buffed linoleum.
It is Valentines day and parents were frozen by calls from the County Sheriff Department.
     Five more don’t know yet.

It is Valentines day and the nation’s largest mental health provider is the L.A. county slammer.
It is Valentines day and policemen are still picking spent cartridges off hall floors.
It is Valentines day and the N. R. A is mounting another press release.
It is Valentine’s day and our representative’s in the house wear bold ties.

My older brother could say I have helped wrench the unborn from their wombs.
I have worked with and I have known unwanted children.
These half-formed teens did not deserve bullets flying into them quicker than heart beats.




Ed Ruzicka has published one full length volume, Engines of Belief. His poems have appeared in Atlanta Review, New Millennium Review, Chicago Literati and Xavier Review, as well as other literary journals and anthologies. Ed lives in Baton Rogue, LA and is an occupational therapist. More works can be found on his website: edrpoet.com.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Monet Paints the Blues by Ben Rasnic

Smears of cloud
Blot the birdless
Canvas, splotches

Of cerulean, azure
Hover the suffering earth
& its indelible scars;

An old man
Crowned in a white
Straw hat

Barely discernible
In the high grass
Among the poplars.



Ben Rasnic currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. Author of four published collections (three available from
amazon.com), Ben's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sheep May Safely Graze by Richard Martin

                    Sheep may safely graze in pastures
                    Where the shepherd keeps his watch.

                    Salomo Franck; J.S. Bach Cantata 208

Avoiding dustbins and parked cars,
I walk down a path between trimmed hedges --
then suddenly I'm out in the countryside;

a mass of woolly balls cover the hillside –
a flock of sheep munch their way round the contours
untroubled by traffic and passers-by.

I think of a grainy photo in the morning paper:
jagged ruins, and in the foreground a ragged boy
with a company of hairy bony goats –

he looks thankful to be unmolested by aerial
or other threats, the sudden whistling of shells,
the harsh inhuman cries of men.

There we stand together that boy and I,
resting on the edge of peace,
of animals safely grazing.



Richard Martin is an English writer who lives in the Netherlands close to the point where Belgium, Germany and Holland meet. After retiring as a university teacher in Germany, he turned his attention to writing, and has published three collections of poetry and numerous poems in magazines in England, the US, and Austria.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Only Yesterday by Martha Christina

you were still
breathing;

the cat
calls me back
to the present.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in the anthology Ice Cream Poems from World Enough Writers. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This Morning by Martha Christina

I wake in a room
encased in ice;
not the etched
swirls and ferns
of my childhood
bedroom, but a
translucent sheet
on each window.

Sun slants a little
further south;
the melt: almost
instantaneous.

That quickly, too,
you were gone.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in the anthology Ice Cream Poems from World Enough Writers. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mid-Day at Beacon Manor by Martha Christina

When Kristina, who has decided
my husband is Greek, because
his last name is the same as
her first name (though spelled
differently), finishes washing
his wasted body, she moves
him, with a second aide’s help,
into his wheelchair, then pushes
him out into the lounge, where
he sits, confused among others
equally confused. “I hope I don’t
have to speak at this event,” he
whispers to her, and she laughs.

She brings him lunch: pureed
carrots, mashed potatoes, several
thickened drinks. “You gotta eat to
get healthy, and make sure you drink
that pink one,” she insists. But when
she comes back to check, it’s still
brim full. "You gotta drink," she
scolds, but he whispers that he's
had enough alcohol and has to
drive all day tomorrow.

She pats him on his boney shoulder,
says: “Sweetheart, I don’t want you
to go back to bed,” when he asks to,
“I’m afraid you’ll fall out.” Which he does,
later, after the shift change.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in the anthology Ice Cream Poems from World Enough Writers. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Mist rising from the field, the swollen brook, like decisiveness by Michael J. Galko

the storm-fallen tree
needs clearing

in the farmer’s barn,
above the hoof-ground hay,

thirty-three axes are sharp–

one of them
has the right heft



Michael J. Galko is a Houston-based scientist and poet. In the past year he has had poems published or accepted at Dark Matter, bottle rockets, Failed Haiku, Presence Haiku, One Sentence Poems, Dos Gatos Press, The Ocotillo Review, The Red River Review, and The West Texas Literary Review.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

With My Daughter by Holly Day

Crows and starlings scatter at the shotgun crack of the ice
shifting and splintering into blue-gray shards.
There is water running in the falls again, a thin trickle
moving beneath the snow
just enough to break through thoughts of winter.

We stand on the bank of the creek, hand in hand, as we’ve done
every winter since she was born, watching the ice shake loose
in great, heavy sheets, crashing like thunder
on the rocks below.



Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big Muddy, The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, Ugly Girl, and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), North Coast Redwoods Writers' Conference (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and I'm in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.) will be out late 2018.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Because I know by Holly Day

I never had the guts to rip a one-night-stand off
or actually, I never thought of doing it at all, back when I was single.
I hear stories from girls about how they usually sneak a twenty or a hundred
out of a guy’s wallet while he’s sleeping, because they think they’ve earned it somehow
and maybe they have, and I’m the one with the problem,
the missed opportunities.

I know there have been a few times that I’ve checked my own wallet
before leaving a man’s bed, just in case he thought
he was owed something for being nice enough to fuck me.
And if a guy came back to my place, I always made sure to cram my own wallet
under the bathroom sink, behind the tampons and the towels
just in case.



Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big Muddy, The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, Ugly Girl, and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), North Coast Redwoods Writers' Conference (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and I'm in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.) will be out late 2018.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Flower Children by Sarah Henry

Parsley, sage, rosemary
and thyme flavored
the eggplant stew
at a hippy restaurant.
Waiters brought
pitchers of juice.
A girl with a long-
haired boyfriend
was a braless wonder.
She wore bell-bottom
jeans with a flag 
on her butt.
The two would
live together a year
and marry, then
divorce a year later.
It was cool
to be a stereotype.

Ads on TV shouted,
“JOIN THE ARMY!
SEE THE WORLD!”
Vietnam---?
Dark jungles
lay ahead.

Work challenged
new recruits
at corporations.
Young employees
got in touch
with their feelings
during training. 
They became
sensitive
to the needs
of management.
They brought
their true selves
to the meetings.
In forty years,
they were self-
actualized.

The crowd retired
with pension
benefits.
It had been
helpful to plan
for their senior
years, since
Woodstock only
lasted three days.



Sarah Henry lives near Pittsburgh, where her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Poetry Review and The Loyalhanna Review. Sarah's work was also included in Red Eft Review, Soundings East, The Hollins Critic, Midnight Circus, What Rough Beast and three humor publications. She's a retired boomer.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wool Overcoat by Robert Demaree

In retrospect
It may have been
Naïve
To buy a nice wool overcoat,
Even drastically marked down,
When, at midlife,
We came back east
From the Gulf South,
To tend to our parents
In their last years and days.
I have worn it maybe thirty times
In thirty years,
Less often of late.
This works out,
By my calculations,
To three bucks or so
Each time I put it on,
February, a year ago,
I seem to recall,
The most recent time
And perhaps the last.



Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in June 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club, and have appeared in over 150 periodicals. A retired educator, he resides in Wolfeboro, N.H. and Burlington, N.C. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The neon invite (after William Carlos Williams) by Michelle Hartman

So much depends
upon

Red neon
light

Flickering with electric
seizures

Beside the two-story
walk-up



Michelle Hartman’s poetry books, The Lost Journal of My Second Trip to Purgatory from Old Seventy Creek Press & Disenchanted and Disgruntled and Irony and Irreverence, both from Lamar University Press, are available on Amazon. She is the editor of Red River Review.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Evolution by Ben Rasnic

At 63
I swallow a rainbow
of pills,

a patchwork antidote
for the white line demolition
slammed at 21.



Ben Rasnic currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. Author of four published collections (three available from
amazon.com), Ben's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Need by P.C. Scheponik

I see the runners every morning jogging faithfully down Coastal
Highway: women with their sports bras and jaunty pony tails wagging
side to side and men in their muscle tees or shirtless, wearing Armor-
all shorts. All of them in their Nikes “just doing it” against the
concrete walk, the sweat glistening off their bodies bathed in sun and
wind from the run. And then there are the bikers sporting headgear
and spandex, pumping their grueling spin of wheels— vulcanized
rubber meeting the road. I, too, am one of them, but not one who runs,
not one who rides along Coastal Highway making strides in strength
and confidence. I am one who opens the journal; the blank pages
spread like wings. I am one who flies across the lines letting the tip of
my pen skim the waves of thought the way the gulls and ospreys
search for the streaks of tails, the glint of fins of those silver-bellied
dreams that swim just under the surface, the way the ideas glide
beneath the edges of consciousness to be plucked from possibility that
is suddenly turned real—a metaphor, a simile. I’m telling you, I can
make a meal of a poem, the hunger in me so strong I can feel its need
to break out and run free with all the other fitness buffs I see every
morning chasing destiny that stretches before them like Coastal
Highway.



P.C. Scheponik is retired. He is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife, Shirley, the love of his life and his shizon, Bella. He has published four collections of poetry and has been published in numerous journals.

Friday, February 2, 2018

For the Woman Crying at Kohl's by P.C. Scheponik

She was sitting on the bench in front of Kohl’s department store,
her blonde hair pulled back into a pony tail, the kind my sisters
used to wear when they were girls. She was wiping her eyes and
eating what looked like a sandwich of some kind, picking up
the small pieces that fell on her blouse, the color of peaches.
She was crying as she reached into her pocket, took a tissue,
and dabbed her eyes. I wanted to go over and tell her I was
sorry. I wanted to give her a hug and tell her it would be all
right. But she was huddled in the shadow that was hugging the
wall, and I felt a barrier—invisible—yet it still gave me pause.
I didn’t know her or the cause of her grief at all, and I had no
right to assume I could make a move to comfort her, to stop her
tears, to prove better days were, in fact, coming. So I walked
away, the sense of her grief pressing down upon me. How could
it be—this thing called empathy—this impulse to feel another’s
misery, yet not able to heal it, to take it away, to only be
permitted to watch and see the ordeal, to sigh for her, even cry
for her, maybe even pray for her from afar. So I wrote these
words for, you, the woman crying at Kohl’s on a Tuesday
morning. And though you may never read them, never know I
was able to bleed them for you, though I could not close your
wound, at least I can honor its scar.



P.C. Scheponik is retired. He is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife, Shirley, the love of his life and his shizon, Bella. He has published four collections of poetry and has been published in numerous journals.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Death Dirt by Joe Dolsen

Her face had been
made up by a stranger.
Her coffin was wet with rain
and when they opened it
a dirty drop must
have fallen from
the lid and splattered
on her forehead.

I leaned over
inhaling deeply.
Her fragrance was gone –
replaced by synthetic smells.
I licked my thumb to
wipe the smudge
and when I touched
her skin I realized
that her warmth
was gone, too.
I shivered –
cold as the
church stones.



Joe Dolsen lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked as a mason's assistant, in a cabinet making factory, and in a psychiatric unit. Find out more:
joedolsen.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Write in Garrett County in Late November by Jessamine Price

First, walk up the hill to watch the buzzards creak
their wings above the body of a slack-eyed doe,
life just finished, gray flanks soft and still.

Back home, go round and open doors—
kitchen cupboards, and linen closets,
the cold metal lid of the Maytag machine.
Find one scrap of card at the back of a drawer—
loops of script from a friend who died too young.

Then, too, clean the fridge. Throw out the Tupperware
you fear to open. Carry out the trash
under a half-moon fading towards quarter.
Be sure to disregard your heart—
its boring habit of finding portents and signs
in nothing. You’re still alive.
Close the door behind you and process words.



Jessamine Price's poems and essays have appeared in journals such as Hunger Mountain, the Delmarva Review, and Poets Reading the News. Her work has also been anthologized and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has an MFA from American University and currently teaches in South Korea. Follow her @JessaminePrice.

Monday, January 29, 2018

I Can't Help It by Mary Kaye Valdez

You swung the door fully
open when you caught a
peek of my room through
the thin opening.

You saw my bed
with the pillows in
opposite corners, and my
blanket wrinkled and
hanging off the side.

It looked like
it was hit by
a tornado you said.

I’m sorry mom, I wish
it wasn’t scientifically
true that geniuses were
messy people, too.



Mary Kaye Valdez is a pastel color enthusiast whose closet is ninety percent black. She also likes high places because it's her only chance to look down on people. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction on the Web, Manawaker Studios, and Not Your Mother's Breast Milk.

Friday, January 26, 2018

For You, Hopefully by Ed Ahern

Same Valentine’s Day,
different woman.
Hard to think up
new endearments
to go with the same
trite presents.

So here goes.
I love you almost like
the other one,
just more cautiously.



Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had a hundred eighty poems and stories published so far, and three books. His collected fairy and folk tales, The Witch Made Me Do It, a novella The Witches’ Bane, and his collected fantasy stories, Capricious Visions. He works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors.