Thursday, July 9, 2020

Pasture Land by Don Thompson

Wind reads the open field like a palm,
tracing cattle trails that promise
impossibly long life.

It keeps probing for an augury
among desiccated fur and bones
that have no secrets—
that already reveal too much.



Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at
www.don-e-thompson.com.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Querencia by Don Thompson

No one remembers whose cattle
died on these hills—
barren now, corrugated with gullies.

Rainwater runs off of them
like a rusted tin roof.

Not on any map,
but irrefutable, it’s a place
some cherish and come to

because here you can learn
how to hide in plain sight.



Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at
www.don-e-thompson.com.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Shots by James Croal Jackson

At the bar, I ask if you want shots.
You say, no– 2X, so I ask is that Dos
Equis?
We laugh, then you tell me

2X is an IPA from Southern Tier.
When I order PBR you fire back
I don’t do that shit anymore.

At our table you lean into me,
staring at the red, paint-splattered wall.
You say I went to school with someone

who was killed in the shooting last
weekend.
I think– there were two
then ask if you’re okay. You

cock your hand on my thigh
and lift your bottle to toast me–
our clink of drinks a cold hard

cheers to the body of a rifle.
The skin through the holes
in our ripped jeans is heavy

against each other. You whisper in my ear
the world has too many people.
You shoot to the opposite

side of the table and ask,
how many people have you had sex with
who are dead?
I say none that I know of.

And knowing you want me
to ask you, too, I mouth,
you?

Your smile loads a magazine,
amber bullets in your eyes–
you flash me the peace sign.



James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and recent poems in DASH, Sampsonia Way, and Jam & Sand. He edits The Mantle (
themantlepoetry.com). He works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (jamescroaljackson.com)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Rude. by James Croal Jackson

Nearing the end of flu
season and I’ve made it
this far unscathed. But

today I ache–
head, a crushed bag
of ice; throat, sore,

a glimpse of Hell.
April coughs all it has
on me– rain, snow, hail,
sleet.

          Spring,
cover your contagious
mouth, please.



James Croal Jackson (he/him/his) is a Filipino-American poet. He has a chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017), and recent poems in DASH, Sampsonia Way, and Jam & Sand. He edits The Mantle (themantlepoetry.com). He works in film production in Pittsburgh, PA. (
jamescroaljackson.com)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

On Union Street by Martha Christina

I turn to the garden,
seeking temporary relief
from the continuous news
of so many people hurting
each other in so many ways.

I kneel behind the fence
to weed among the hostas;
through the space between
pickets I can see, but not
be seen. A man, a stranger,

stops to let his dog sniff the
maple. He’s young, his hair
an artificial orange, his T-shirt
bright purple, his arms heavily
tattooed in those same colors.

He also holds the hand of a
young girl, who might be his
daughter, sister, niece, friend.
She looks to be about 4, and
she listens with the attention

of one who values this man’s
words: You want to be around
people who are good to each
other
he says. The dog tugs
its leash, and they move on,

leaving me still on my knees,
but uplifted, for now.



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 Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Literary Journal's Pollinator Project. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Here by Martha Christina

          3 p.m., August 24, 2019

The bell
at St. Michael’s church
begins to toll, marking
the arrival in Jamestown
of the first enslaved Africans.

The bell tolls for one minute;
three seconds each for those
who survived the trip.

A few blocks from the church,
“cargo” that arrived generations
later, was locked in the warehouses
of the wealthy, devout, and generous
slave traders who donated the church’s
stained glass windows, saints’ faces
modeled on their own.



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 Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Literary Journal's Pollinator Project. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Friday, July 3, 2020

Counselor by Carolyn Gregory

Sitting like a queen
with red hair flying
above a heart-shaped tattoo,
she took in my sorrows
and flights of fancy,
impartial as a small stone
Buddha on her shelf.

She heard my trouble with alcohol
and jobs,
isolation of northern winters,
listening to the lake blowing across
my childhood,
understood my wish to disappear
in mandalas and wild dance.

We only hugged twice.
I will miss her in her long gowns,
sitting in her very tall chair,
offering solace where there was none
and the photos of two hands opening
in acceptance above her.



Carolyn Gregory’s poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Off the Coast, Cape Cod Review, Cutthroat, Borderlines: Texas and the Seattle Review. She was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and previously won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Award. Her two books were published in 2009 and 2015. Additionally, she has reviewed classical music and theatre over the past twenty years.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

How Music Saves by Carolyn Gregory

Looking down, you say that
humans are a failed species,
killing the earth as they harvest
tobacco, spraying with pesticides
at the expense of lambs and corn.

Here in the corner of the village
where lawn chairs spread in the square,
young people do what they do best,
jitterbugging to country guitar,
the pianist's hair styled in its
old fashioned pompadour

oblivious to anything
but the beat, flinging their hands
in joy at the moment
in front of them.



Carolyn Gregory’s poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Off the Coast, Cape Cod Review, Cutthroat, Borderlines: Texas and the Seattle Review. She was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and previously won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Award. Her two books were published in 2009 and 2015. Additionally, she has reviewed classical music and theatre over the past twenty years.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

For One Who Dances Between Fires by Carolyn Gregory

          for Pam Uschuk

She was always part of the mountains
where bayberry and columbine grew among rocks
and the eagles soared high

taking love with her like food
and water in a backpack for traveling,
her dogs at her heels.

Fate dealt blows with death
and illness,
the scorching path of summer fires
forcing exit with books piled
high in a car,
carrying her to safety.

Her husband and sisters,
her dogs and poems were
always with her

whether she was hiking through rocks,
water falling in veils around her feet
or escaping the summer's crazy fires.



Carolyn Gregory’s poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Off the Coast, Cape Cod Review, Cutthroat, Borderlines: Texas and the Seattle Review. She was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and previously won a Massachusetts Cultural Council Award. Her two books were published in 2009 and 2015. Additionally, she has reviewed classical music and theatre over the past twenty years.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The English Speakers by Gary Metras

The English speakers at the rest stop
along the highway from Izmir to Bergama
are from Calgary and when I said I am
from Massachusetts, they complained
that the Turks call them Americans,
and I said, but aren’t you, and we laughed
with the easy humor of travelers
with something in common and meeting
by chance while the dark-haired boy pumping
gas stared, puzzling at so many foreigners.
The Aegean breeze wrestled the rising
Asian sun about to lick our brows
and a waitress smoked at the side door,
half in one world, half in another.



Gary Metras’s new books of poetry are River Voice II (Adastra Press, 2020), Captive in the Here (Cervena Barva Press 2018), and White Storm (Presa Press 2018), short-listed for the Mass. Poetry Book of the Year by the Mass. Center for the Book. The author of seven books and thirteen chapbooks of poetry, his poems have appeared in over 250 journals, including America, The Common, Poetry, Poetry East, and Poetry Salzburg Review. He lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts, where he was inducted as the city’s inaugural Poet Laureate in April 2018.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Heat by Sharon Waller Knutson

Flames blacken
the lush greenery
In 105 temperatures.

The Fire Chief,
covered in soot,
shouts Evacuate.

Smoke swirls,
tankers dump
retardant on our roof.

We sit on folding
chairs in the air
conditioned rec hall,

nap on recliners
and eat sandwiches
at a friend’s home,

sneak past the firemen
guarding the gate
to sleep in our own bed,

until smoke and flames
drive us out and we repeat
the same routine again.



Sharon Waller Knutson, a retired journalist, writes poetry from her Arizona desert home. Her work has appeared in The Orange Room Review, Literary Mama, Verse-Virtual, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Your Daily Poem. She is the author of five chapbooks: Dancing with a Scorpion, My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields, Desert Directions, They Affectionately Call Her a Dinosaur and I Did It Anyway.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Marks by Karen Friedland

It takes many years
for fingerprints to form
in odd places around the house—

where your husband clutches
at the newel post, say,
on his way down the stairs.

But the marks suddenly appear one sunny day—
above light switches and around door knobs and frames,
so you scrub the years-worth of dead skin and newspaper ink away,

knowing all the while they’re a talisman—
a sign of us having been here, in this house,
of having lived at all.

And I look forward,
years from now,
to having the pleasure again
of scrubbing them away.



A nonprofit grant writer by day, Karen Friedland’s poems have been published in Nixes Mate Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Lily Poetry Review, Vox Populi and others. Her book of poems, Places That Are Gone, was published in 2019 by Nixes Mate Books, and she has a chapbook forthcoming in late 2020 from Cervena Barva Press. She lives in Boston with her husband, two cats and two dogs.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Sports Pages by Robert Demaree

1. The Unlikely Metaphors of Lacrosse

The face-off in a game where,
In theory at least,
One team never has to give up
Possession of the ball.
The goalkeepers, foolhardy if they
Come out to cut down the angle,
Surrounded by danger
On 360 degrees;
The excellent long-stick prep school boys,
Eager to emulate their fathers,
Attorneys from Long Island.

2. Scores of Other Games

At halftime the public address guy said,
I have the scores of other games:
14-7, 21-6,
10-all at the end of regulation.

Do you remember when there were just the
Four big games, all on New Year’s Day,
Bearing names of things you might have seen—
Roses, oranges—
And not of companies or towns.
At ten, I ran the family lottery,
Combinations of winners,
Only sixteen possibilities.

It does not matter to me now
Who, if anyone, is the national champion.
I’d watch the early rounds
Of the Division II playoffs
If they were on
And much prefer those
Small-time bowl games,
Played before sparse crowds
Of civic boosters,
Bankers, city council folk
Who felt they should attend,
Small knots of loyal fans
From five- or six-win schools
In conferences you may not know,
Happy to be invited somewhere,
Unlikely destinations,
Reasonable rates at modest hotels,
Visits to children’s hospitals.

I used to go to games like that,
Cold nights in the outback,
In years I have chosen
To count as good ones,
Though there is reason not to.
Sat next to a member of Congress,
Important because he did not think he was,
His overcoat pockets filled
With those tiny liquor bottles
They have on airplanes,
A word of kindness and support
When you needed it most.

I mute the sidekick’s commentary
On titanic struggles looming
Or who is on the bubble,
And I wait for the play-in games.



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, June 23, 2020

Zephyr by Michelle Reale

The stout amber beer bottle squats like a sentry on the red and white enamel kitchen table and your wounds begin to weep again. The heavy sigh of your father hangs in the air like a thought, incomplete, an ancient curse that fails to land. The tall glass holds the golden elixir that draws the line between curdled sentimentality and spiteful memory. His strident stare affords everyone time to scatter as he is lost in thoughts of past indiscretions, thrice a year indulgences, violet colored contusions from a wicked fall from grace. Ancestors wring their hands, because somewhere , not here, there is a moon and it is full. You lace your shoes, turn your collar up and jingle the coins in your pocket like amulets. Every tick of the clock brings a tragic story, even this one, to an eventual end.



Michelle Reale is the author of Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020) among others. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Foundational by Michelle Reale

A house isn’t a museum, however much we want it to be. Years hence, you will try to remember the feel of the overstuffed chair, the scratch of your mother’s sober apron, and the wall calendar from the insurance agent where your mother crossed off each day with a big red “X,” a surefire way to leave the past behind. The swoosh of your only sister’s chiffon dress and the bright smudge of lipstick against her full lips, as your father called after her in tones of both rage and resignation. But it is really the memory of the crucifix you find difficult to forget---torpid, hanging on the cracked wall, casting a shadow that stalked you , especially when your heart felt light and even when it didn’t. 



Michelle Reale is the author of Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020) among others. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Delirium by Michelle Reale

The upstairs, frozen windowpane reveals a magical world. Everything worth having is on the other side of that fragile boundary. Your hot breath on the intricate tiny mansions of ice provides a view to the other side. Blur the edges of anything and enter into the world of what may be possible. Your brother leans his sharp chin into the soft scaffold of your shoulder, and you let him. The pipes clink, hollow and bereft, choking and out of breath. Your mother downstairs, rubs her dry hands together, making sparks that bounce off the walls and land in the dark expanse of her coffee gone cold before the cup can be brought to her mouth. You live in a dream where your fever rises and falls, and your brother speaks nonsense. The tips of your fingers feel like they are packed full of pins with glowing tips. The hair sticks up on the back of your neck. Your brother sighs into the frozen air that wraps you both close and holds you tight.



Michelle Reale is the author of Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020) among others. She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing. She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Haiku by Stephen Toft

sultry evening...
the couple next door
argue about sex



Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka." In 2018 Yavanika Press released his third collection “deer heart” as a free to download e-book.

Friday, June 19, 2020

dive by Stephen Toft

our son
is asleep
on the bed

his hands
above
his head

pointing,
as if about
to dive

into a sea
of stars



Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka." In 2018 Yavanika Press released his third collection “deer heart” as a free to download e-book.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

7.23.19 / 8:52 a.m. / 65 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Perseverance all night, this rain that has made the trees heavy;
obedient to its demand, I carry my umbrella to the pond where
narrowcast raindrops cover its surface, dense and
dimpled as a liquid moonscape seen from above.



John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and Sundowning. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, and many other publications. His non-fiction has been featured in Adelaide, Stonecoast Review, Evening Street Review, Ovunque Siamo, and Scarlet Leaf Review.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

7.22.19 / 9:08 a.m. / 77 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Pre-rain, and several flowers brand new to me have
          emerged; the fringed

orchid, the marsh marigold, and the bittersweet

nightshade. Heavy rain is forecast for most of
          the day and these small

delicacies, these tiny flowers will reap the
          benefits, their faces upturned and waiting.



John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and Sundowning. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, and many other publications. His non-fiction has been featured in Adelaide, Stonecoast Review, Evening Street Review, Ovunque Siamo, and Scarlet Leaf Review.