Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Time of Day by Ed Ahern

A widow walks by my house each day
in syncopation with the mailman.
She had also lost a daughter,
but what is gone is carried deep,
for she always smiles and stops to chat.
We exchange perhaps two hundred words
about weather and children and neighbors,
but never about the death and absence
so twined into our daily living,
and the knitting we do to cope.
We sense with tacit understanding
that our inanities give unsaid comfort
to our silenced fears and grief.

Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over three hundred stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of six review editors.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Invasive Species by Patricia Davis-Muffett

This fall, the deer herd
chews languid on the ruined branches
of the trees of spring.
City friends visit
adore the baby deer
as we mutter to ourselves
enemy, vandal, rat.
The bellow of our pup
keeps them at yard’s edge for now
a smidge less bold than before she came.

I would not miss them if they left,
though I can hardly deny them
what keeps their children growing.
The fox, though, I would miss--
last year, two, playing so near the windows,
chasing, wrestling, gekkering their joy--
our older dog, rarely bothered,
becoming the hunter he thinks he might have been
as they taunted, so close, peered in,
retreated to their burrow,
the one they took over from the groundhogs,
renovated, upscaled, a place to raise their pups.
I wonder if he succeeded--
his hunt so different from the puppy’s howl,
he, catching sight of movement in the brush,
exits silent, his fur like moonless night,
he bolts and glides, gone before we even see
the target he has locked.

Just as I am sure
the fox has gone, hoping it has moved,
I see one, bushy tail magnificent,
red coat like the paintbox
the maple trees are reaching for.
She locks her eyes on me,
as I turn into the drive,
then darts off into woods.
Did my hunter kill her mate?
Am I the enemy she sees?

Five a.m., I step out
into chilly yard, pitch dark,
my predators in tow.
Through the darkness,
I can hear her screech,
and my invasive self
inclines to howl back,
but stifles back the sound--
a trick I’ve learned
in an effort to survive.

Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She was recently a finalist for the Julia Darling Poetry Prize and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in several journals and anthologies, including Limestone, Coal City Review, Neologism, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Pretty Owl Poetry, di-verse-city (anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival), The Blue Nib and Amethyst Review. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband and three children and makes her living in technology marketing.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Blessing by Joseph Mills

At our wedding reception, my wife’s father,
who was past sixty, twice as heavy as when
he played rugby, a former pack-a-day smoker
and still a drinker, dropped to the ground,
then he popped back up and spun around
before anyone could react. It took a moment
to realize he had done the splits, deliberately,
fantastically, as if this night of celebration
with family from four different nations
had moved him to a kind of ecstasy. We joked
about what alcohol’s effects could be, but,
over time, even as we forgot so much of who
gave us what, we came to recognize the gift
it had been, an offering of joy and benediction.

A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Joseph Mills has published six collections of poetry with Press 53. His book This Miraculous Turning was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Young Girl Up an Old Tree by Russell Rowland

The stricken pine was caught and held
on its way down, by a good neighbor.

At that angle it was more a staircase
for the child to climb, than a ladder.

She would go home needles and sap,
with Gram’s photo from ground level.

In my childhood girls didn’t climb trees.
Branches were full of boys, brave ones.

The timid got jeered off, told to go play
with dolls. So yes, we’ve made progress.

From such an elevation, Gram appeared
foreshortened, belittled, and earthbound.

The girl could see way out to her father,
dot of color on Squam Lake’s early ice—

trying its solidity a half-mile offshore,
the way he did once, a boy, on a dare.

Seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions. His latest poetry book, Wooden Nutmegs, is available from Encircle Publications.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday Brunch (2008) by Carolynn Kingyens

Justin called himself
a feminist,
and promised me
he’d do the laundry
and I’d drink the beer;
said he made a mean lasagna -
a recipe he'd learned
from his dying mother.

She had a partner
named Sonya,
and they were still
blissfully in love
after 25 years of raising
a fatherless boy
into a young man;
instilling in him compassion
for both sexes,
not just his own.

I was curious
when the invitation came
written on a napkin
from feminist-Justin,
asking me to join
the three of them
for Sunday brunch
in a sunroom
built off the kitchen,
an addition
a year before
his mother’s diagnosis.

They welcomed me
into their intimate tribe,
of books, lilacs,
earthy accents,
of A Prairie Home Companion
trailing off
in the background
amongst warm conversation
and acceptance.

I’d watch their gentle exchanges,
between a mother
and her woman,
between these women
to Justin and to me.

And the whole, sun-filled room
was palpable
in these moments
of laughter
and cancer,
of Far East travels
and trinkets –
in stories about coming home
and being home.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut book of poetry, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books), can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Greenlight, Book Culture, and Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. In addition to poetry, Carolynn writes narrative essays, book reviews, micro/flash fiction, and short stories. Her latest flash fiction, "Sunglasses at Night," can be read here: She resides in New York with her husband and two amazing daughters.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

From the Hill by Richard Martin

Half way between where I sat near the hilltop
and a lonely copper beech in a square green field
stood a group of dark trees huddled together.
For no particular reason, I began to count them –

there were seven, that magic, meaningful number;
had someone deliberately planted seven trees?
Or had they accidentally echoed human concerns
about fortune and meaning? I asked myself

why we are so fascinated by seven rather than six –
I guess it all began when someone added the four
corners of the earth to the notion of the Trinity,
or simply thought of the days of the week.

Whatever, there are seven trees bent slightly
towards each other by pure chance in a dull clump
at the edge of a rough unploughed field half way
between me and that lonely beech in its green square.

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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

A Moment Before Leaving by John L. Stanizzi

          Forever -- composed of nows –
                                        --Emily Dickinson

There must be more time
for you to allow me to reflect
on all that I beheld in dreams

and in waking.

It may take more time than you have
or are willing to bestow.
But please.

I’m going to leave with nothing anyway,
so why not concede this one

foolish, irresponsible, earnest wish?

John L. Stanizzi’s books include; Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, and POND. Besides Red Eft Review, John's poems have been in Prairie Schooner, Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, others. His nonfiction has appeared in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, Literature and Belief, others. 

Monday, January 4, 2021

Of the Ones Not Afraid by Sarah Elkins

There’s nothing to do now
but get right with the land.

I’ve started with the hemlocks,
sawing off the low branches
choking in the understory,
bound in poison ivy.

My neighbor comes over
to talk. He won’t listen
when I say keep some space.
I’ve been sick,

a fever and cough.

He steps nearer, tells me how the forest
used to be lawn.
His paper arms sweep the air
moving between us.

Grass needing mowing all the way back.
See the daffodils, he points. 
They used to be everywhere.

Sarah Elkins lives and writes in Lewisburg, WV. Her poetry has appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, Northridge Review, Summer Stock Journal, and Rust + Moth; her critical analysis in Kestrel. Sarah is a student in the MFA program at Pacific University.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Antique Cabin by Sarah Elkins

You bring home the unsalvageable,
one oaken length at a time—
pegged mortise, treenail and tenon,
to fuel our fire. We have by now
burnt an entire home,
sweeping the hand-smithed nails
from the hearth with the ashes
to strew beneath the hemlock.

When we are gone,
they will surmise a great fire
destroyed a cabin here.

Sarah Elkins lives and writes in Lewisburg, WV. Her poetry has appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, Northridge Review, Summer Stock Journal, and Rust + Moth; her critical analysis in Kestrel. Sarah is a student in the MFA program at Pacific University.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Bow Season by Sarah Elkins

The deer carcass
in the rough beside the trail
reduced to a row
of slender white ribs
reaching out from the ruin
of wet leaves
like too many fingers.

The flowers of her body—
bloom of intestine,
broad red-leaf of liver,
great elephant-ear lungs,
and rosebud heart—
didn’t last one good night.

Sarah Elkins lives and writes in Lewisburg, WV. Her poetry has appeared in Sanskrit Literary Arts Magazine, Northridge Review, Summer Stock Journal, and Rust + Moth; her critical analysis in Kestrel. Sarah is a student in the MFA program at Pacific University.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Haiku by Douglas J. Lanzo

kids’ first snorkel
expanding their world
by seventy percent

A featured poet published in 20 journals across the United States, England, Wales, Australia and the Caribbean in 2020, Doug’s award-winning haiku have appeared or are pending in 10 haiku journals, including Frogpond. His 11-year old identical twin sons have published haiku collections in Australia and the United States.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

The Ballad of Lipstick and Comb by Irena Pasvinter

I remember watching you
as you put on your lipstick,
always the same red color,
too bright for my cautious taste.
Oh come on, Grandma, I thought,
why do you even need this,
in your eighties,
with Grandpa long dead?
It’s not like you’re into
catching another husband.
So really, at your age, why bother?
I kept my mouth shut, of course.
What you did with your lips
was none of my business.

And then in the hospital,
when you insisted
on combing your hair each morning
and god, this red lipstick again...
This time I might have
even said something, to Mom:
“Really, why does she bother,
being so ill? Ridiculous,
this lipstick business.”

But now, as I drag myself
out of bed in the morning,
and glance at my ghost
in the bathroom mirror,
I finally get why you did this:
not for me or for men
or for god or for devil —
for yourself,
to feel whole and alive,
to keep going.

Lipstick is still not my thing,
but never mind, I get the idea:
self-respect is a life-time job.
Thank you, Grandma.

Irena Pasvinter divides her time between software engineering, endless family duties and writing poetry and fiction. Her stories and poems have appeared in many online and print magazines. Her poem "Psalm 3.14159..." has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is currently looking for a publisher for her first novel. Visit Irena at

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Pay It Backward by Janet Carl

Who knew what went through his head,
the man who said,
"I'll pay for the people behind me, too--how much?"

About twelve bucks. Not high
philanthropy, but kindness in a
world that seems not to remember

Some spark jumped from his car to hers, and
hearing that her family's
hamburgers, fries and shakes had been paid for,
she said, "I'll pay for the people behind me."

Nine hundred gifts,
two and a half days, over and
over, in the bleak almost-winter
of Brainerd, Minnesota.

We've been cheated, lied to,
humiliated on the world stage.

We've been profiled, beat up, spit on
and killed.

We've collapsed and died--
more of us than our fathers and uncles who died in
World War II.

We've grown to dislike and distrust each other.

But some guy at a DQ
changed the world,
turned that ice cream parlor into a shrine.
Brought out plain old vanilla

Janet Carl's poetry has appeared in Lyrical Iowa, her children's fiction in Plays and Young and Alive, her nonfiction in Nonprofit World and the Des Moines Register.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Deleting Old Emails by Eileen Curran-Kondrad

While deleting old emails
I came across one
you sent me the year
before you died.
Still there
floating in ether
as though you
are still able
to give me your
big brotherly advice.

I worried that you
hadn’t approved of
my choice of career.
I should have reached
higher than teaching, you implied.
Then I came across a story you sent.
One of those forwards that go
round and round to friends
like lost souls
looking for a place to rest.

Teachers can never tell
where their influence stops, it said.
They affect eternity.

So do you big brother.
So do you.

Eileen Curran-Kondrad is adjunct faculty in the English department at Plymouth State University. Her work has been published in NEATE, Journal of The New England Association for Teachers Of English, Teaching Moments, New Hampshire Business Magazine, Centripetal, Upbeat, Folded Word and Red Eft Review.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Four Fabric Squares from Christo’s Central Park Gates by Patricia Behrens

We waved to each other across Cathedral Parkway,
yours an extravagant wave as if you’d braved perils,
traversed continents, not simply come uptown to meet me

to explore this northern section of the park, festooned
in fluttering orange banners. You led us along snaking
rocky paths, sometimes walked ahead

last year’s chemo-slowed gait now vanquished.
We goaded each other south through the February cold,
smiling at strangers, led on by the saffron-arched walkways,

the distant sightings of orange through branches.
Blue sky, looking up--these were pleasures again, when
so recently they had made us think of too-low planes, falling towers.

It was as if billowing fabric had released our grief,
allowed us to recover breath. You turned back to me, hatless,
pointing to some fresh shimmer, spoke, too far away for me to hear.

Why do certain moments freeze in memory?
When they took down the banners and recycled the fabric
they gave small cloth squares to people who asked.

I have four in a clip on my desk. I picked one up today
and smoothed its curled-up edges, recalling how the show
was made to be a temporary wonder, was never meant to last.

Patricia Behrens grew up in Massachusetts and now lives and writes in New York City. Her poetry has appeared online and in journals such as American Arts Quarterly, Mom Egg Review, Perfume River Review, and The Same and in the anthologies Nasty Women Poets: An Anthology of Subversive Verse and Vine Leaves Literary Journal: a collection of vignettes from across the globe.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Fort Jackson, South Carolina, 1961 by Robert Demaree

1. Thanksgiving

Filled with turkey and family,
I recall another late gray November,
An Army post between wars,
Brave comrade clerks
In the Dental Detachment.
We nibble on celery,
Stuffed with cream cheese
And watch the Detroit Lions on TV.
My friend, from Grosse Pointe,
Wonders if his parents are there
This year, the first he has missed.
Our commanding officer,
Who had perhaps expected better,
Has put on his dress blues,
Walks around the room,
Makes himself greet
Each of us
Where are you from, Soldier;
What did you do on the outside?

Later, his wife calls reminding him
To pick up a jar of turkey gravy
On the way home.

2. Summer, Fall, Early Winter

Another friend is just back
From the flight of honor,
Service of a generation greater than mine.
Why do my days seem now unreal,
Six months active duty, actually less,
In a time disguised as peace?
Trainloads of boys from Oklahoma,
Sons of displaced natives;
Slim scraggly pines unable to shade
The sandy South Carolina soil,
Heat you could see rising
From the company street on Tank Hill;
A lingering Army fragrance:
Fatigues with dried sweat,
Aluminum cookware in the side sink,
Scalloped potatoes, detergent,
Spent shells on the firing line;
The empty threats of sergeants ignored.
Crawling the range at night,
Under wire that seemed to be barbed,
Fire we took to be live,
Preparation for the filing of dental records.

There have been no reunions.
I do not recall their names.
We did what we were asked to do.
I drove out of there at midnight
On the day the first American fell.

Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

They will always be scammers, I tell the bishop by Sharon Waller Knutson

But he disagrees with me: Sinners
can change. We baptized them
and gave him a job in the thrift
store and her counseling for conning
you and all the charities in the county.

I almost believe him when I see
the husband driving off in the Chevy
at dawn without flipping cigarette
butts on the lawn and his wife walking
to town without stopping to complain.

She writes out the rent check, smiling
sweetly in a skirt skimming her calves
and blouse buttoned up to her neck.
But I am skeptical when the bishop
reports strange happenings.

First a Lazy Boy couch and chair
are reported missing from the thrift store
where he worked. Then he turns up dead.

He says she has applied for widow’s
benefits and I agree to go with him

to get the death certificate. Meeting
us at the door, she wipes her eyes
with a Kleenex and explains: the document
was delayed
and invites us to sit on the Lazy Boy
couch next to her brother, a dead

ringer for her late husband. She plops
in the matching Lazy Boy chair
as the bishop and I exchange smirks.
Can’t we skip the paperwork.
I need the money to pay the rent.

Sharon Waller Knutson lives in the Arizona desert where she writes narrative poetry. Her work has appeared in various journals including Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Five-Two, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, The Song Is… and U.S. Worksheets. “They will always be scammers, I tell the bishop” is a sequel to a poem that was posted by Red Eft Review on October 5, 2020. Click here to read it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

What I Might Have Said by Richard Nester

Everything stops.
When I look at my wrist,
I am reminded of the skinny bones
of marriage. That’s how
poetry works.
Something abstract is wedded
to something concrete. When describing
some tender emotion, do it in terms
of something you couldn’t
care less about like a brick or a cloud
or some tree roots.
Or the other way around.
The bigger you want to get, the smaller
you have to start. That way
we get the idea that least things
matter most. To touch deeply,
touch sharply, in one spot,
before your sight fails you altogether.

Richard Nester is the author of 4 books of poems, the most recent Red Truck Bear (Kelsay, 2020). His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Cape Discovery: the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center Anthology, Ploughshares, and Seneca Review and on-line in Qarrtsiluni and Inlandia.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Life, in Moments by Natascha Graham

Vita, who sits
Book propped open with a fork
At her Sissinghurst dining table
With jars of pickles and fine preserves,
With real butter on thick-cut bread
And little piles of the milk and brown bones of a pheasant
Would, should it be possible,
Exchange all the champagne in the world
For a glass of Rodmell water
To dine from Virginia’s garden
Off radishes pulled from the ground
Bitten from stalks
In the kitchen
In the late afternoon sunshine
Of September
-A scrambly lunch
With Virginia
Dropping hairpins
Wearing an old silk petticoat with a hole in it
And a dress with a hole in it
And the wind blowing right through her

Raised simultaneously by David Bowie and Virginia Woolf, Natascha Graham writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as well as writing for stage and screen. She lives with her wife in a house full of sunshine on the east coast of England. Her play, How She Kills, was performed by The Mercury Theatre in August 2020 and broadcast on BBC radio in September. Natascha's second play, Confessions: The Hours, has been performed by Thornhill Theatre London, and both have been selected by Pinewood Studios and Lift-Off Sessions as part of their First Time Filmmakers Festival 2020. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction essays have been previously published by Acumen, Litro, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Yahoo News and The Mighty.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Shingle Street (When My Best Friend Died) by Natascha Graham

and she doesn’t look like Gillian at all
when I tell her.
Except her face is all screwed up
in that way that she has
when she’s chewing on her thoughts

She pokes a stick between stones into sand
How’d she die? She asks
up-turning the hollowed-out shell
of the body of a crab
Dunno, I say, then, she killed herself

And we sit, for a while
in old black coats
and wellington boots
with the old grey sea
who was never meant for me, or her
but here we are again,

And when we leave
over ploughed fields
and dust-cracked earth
in the old red Land Rover
that jolts
And the seats that squeak
and bounce
I don’t watch the sea
out of sight

Raised simultaneously by David Bowie and Virginia Woolf, Natascha Graham writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as well as writing for stage and screen. She lives with her wife in a house full of sunshine on the east coast of England. Her play, How She Kills, was performed by The Mercury Theatre in August 2020 and broadcast on BBC radio in September. Natascha's second play, Confessions: The Hours, has been performed by Thornhill Theatre London, and both have been selected by Pinewood Studios and Lift-Off Sessions as part of their First Time Filmmakers Festival 2020. 
Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction essays have been previously published by Acumen, Litro, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Yahoo News and The Mighty.