Saturday, April 13, 2019

Cactus and Skulls by Steve Klepetar

“You make a better door than a window,” she said,
and I ducked out of her way so she could see the TV,
which was her kind of window anyway, opening
on a desert of flies and heat. Nobody was there,
only cactus and skulls, the white-hot sky.
We watched for hours as night poured down
and stars burned in the sudden cold. I was afraid
to touch the remote. She only spoke to ask
for lemonade and tea. The windows were boarded
up and the only light leaked in through long thin
cracks in the plywood, making shadows like long sticks,
bending by the couches and chairs. When she finally
fell asleep, I buried my head beneath an old, white
towel where I counted my breaths until morning
broke over my hands like water spilling between stones.



Steve Klepetar recently relocated from Minnesota, where he lived and taught for over 36 years, to the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has appeared widely in the U.S. and abroad, and has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Recent collections include: A Landscape in Hell; Family Reunion; and How Fascism Comes to America.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Last Day of Tai Chi by Katherine Edgren

We’d learned thirty poses together,
practiced balancing, slowing breath,
searched synapses for the next pose,
as we slowly moved our bodies in ancient,
graceful choreography.

Forming our usual circle to close—
arms-width apart, feet together,
we relaxed our faces with a smile,
the warrior, arm bent, fist on the right
the scholar, arm bent, flat hand on the left,
then joined hands in front of our hearts
before bowing first to the front—to everyone—
then to a neighbor on one side, then the other.
I felt a twinge that it was over—
this group, this teacher, this mirrored room,
Thursday afternoons from 1-2.

After all the stepping backward, forward,
gathering with our arms, lifting our legs to corner-kick,
patting the horse’s mane, grasping the bird’s tail,
carrying the yoke, picking up needle from sea-bottom,
chopping through mountain, making cloud hands,
we were ending
in the same spot where we began.



Katherine Edgren’s book The Grain Beneath the Gloss, published by Finishing Line Press, is now available. She also has two chapbooks: Long Division and Transports. Her poems have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Coe Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Peninsula Poets, and Barbaric Yawp, among others. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Hike by Katherine Edgren

Two miles west of Hell, Michigan
we hiked the woods near Gosling Lake
where we marveled at a city of doughy white mushrooms,
spied lacy bracket fungus—
like burnt potato chips growing up a tree—
and found brown button mushrooms
tucked into crevices of decaying trunks.

It was our first walk in the woods
since John’s hip replacements.
I wore a sling under my coat for a
broken collarbone. We wielded
walking sticks for careful trudging
up and down the low hills
and through the muddy places.

John didn’t mind my stopping to snap photographs,
because it gave us time to rest
(photography, like park benches with views).
The afternoon had started out gray, but
as we continued walking, the clouds parted,
the sun inflamed the yellows and oranges,
and the forest blazed, triumphant.



Katherine Edgren’s book The Grain Beneath the Gloss, published by Finishing Line Press, is now available. She also has two chapbooks: Long Division and Transports. Her poems have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Coe Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Peninsula Poets, and Barbaric Yawp, among others.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Life Can Be a Dream by Susan Carlson

My sister dreams of a life in Montana,
imagining a state where people can rest
above ground because she longs to rest
below. I dream that she might make it
there, as a waitress maybe, or a cashier –
if the tills in Montana are still the old fashioned kind,
each key bearing its value on a smooth button face
waiting to be pressed down at the sound
of the happy cash bell while Montana coffee
rests still and dark in a full bellied pot –
no cappuccinos, no computerized receipts.
Sometimes I think I see her there, pink
in her polyester dress, pockets along each hip
where she drops tips, gauges their weight
moving from kitchen to counter to cowboy hat
before heading home to smoke alone
on her wooden porch, to watch the Montana sun
drop gold as it pinks down dark. It may not sound
like much, our dream – how, at a minimum
she wants enough real estate to sit quietly at the end
of another day, and me – I want so much
to be free of her phone call, the one that always
comes, that always leaves me wondering
if I said enough to keep her on the line,
bought enough time for her paltry sun
to find another way to set.



Susan Carlson lives, works, and writes in southeastern Michigan. She has attended workshops including Tin House, the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Her poems have appeared in Your Impossible Voice, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Literary Nest, The Other Journal, and Typishly, among other journals.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Creek Bed by Robert Demaree

The town parade hijacked by partisans,
We repair again, my grandson and I,
Up Perry Brook on the Fourth of July,
Cool water over our ankles,
Over dark rocks, the soft green decay
Of ancient logs.
Content with ritual, we do not try
To reach the second bridge this year.
I move less nimbly,
Balance not what it was.
While I was not looking,
Philip has become a young man
With achievements and dreams.
He still waits for me,
Holds back branches.
We look across a pool,
Reddish brown stillness.
Each of us wonders
What the other might be thinking.



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. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

In February by Robert Demaree

Our children have given us a smart TV.
We love basketball in high definition
But have not tried Roku yet.
My Christmas bathrobe still hangs
In the front hall closet.
So why do you suppose that is?
More to it than the normal
Octogenarian
Distrust of change.

Once you try something,
It is already behind you.

The flowering cherries have
Thought better of it—
But it is too late,
Their blossoms committed to a bad cause,
Dingy pink against a gray morning,
Balmy January afternoons
We will come to regret.



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. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

No One Thing Should Hurt This Much by Isabelle Doyle

She used to melt me down and hold me
in the palm of her hand, pick me up and
sling me narrow across her narrow shoulder,
swing me all the way home, and when
I was too young to eat right, rub her thumb
across butter on my cheekbone, tell me over
and over You’re a really good daughter until
I believed her, until the year of the snakehole,
year of the nightcrawler, year even June was January
and midnights only unspooled into mourning.
I wore her thought like a soft diamond.
I pulled her shape like a cloak over my head
to keep me from rain, I stayed close as dawn
drew a lithe hand across the sky, five fingers
of light. I lay my body down beside herlessness.
Her end like knives. Pain powdered and hardened
into capsules, pain like medicine, pain taken
with breakfast and washed down with water.
I am a really good daughter. I am so complete
with knowing her and so halved by loss:
no more sugar cubes, no more grapefruit juice,
no more ringed fingers in my hair, only a body
in the world where God once was, no one
thing should hurt this much, O my woman
without end, amen amen amen.



Isabelle Doyle is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown University, studying English and Literary Arts. Her poetry has been published in such literary magazines as Bluestem Magazine, Typo Magazine, Thin Noon, Cargoes, The Blue Pencil Online, The Round, Clerestory, and Triangle. Her full-length poetry manuscript, BABYFACE, was the 2018 recipient of the Frances Mason Harris Prize, established in 1983, which is awarded annually to a woman undergraduate or graduate student at Brown University for a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose-fiction.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Elegy for a Broken Spoke by Isabelle Doyle

Every day she picked me up in her cloud hands
and carried me around Chicago on the command-shift of her hip,
close enough to feel laughter jumping up and out from inside her,
close enough that her body was everything,
closing her hands over mine,
God of my beginning, June of 1999:
storyteller, girl-carrier, honey-milk-maker,
star-watcher, moon-runner.
She taught me how to make a fist with my thumb outside it
because she was merciless,
walked and talked like every shadow belonged to her,
like she wouldn’t hesitate to disinherit the earth.
She taught me the necromancy of oranges,
how to light a bundle of sage and smoke out the whole house, 
how to answer the inevitable heat death of the known universe
with breakfast, You’ll feel better once you’ve eaten,
bacon sizzling while meteors fell,
taught me sunflower oil,
taught me to wear silver to weddings for luck,
taught me to never give up anything
before I was good and ready to give it up,
taught me how to ride a bike with a broken spoke,
how to loosen the spoke on the opposite side
and steady the bike’s bones, get my body home,
how to make minute, even stitches and her attention was infinite
and even when I grew too big for her to bear the brunt of me, 
she was a planet I circled like Io—
every day I try to write a poem as good as her face in front of me.



Isabelle Doyle is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown University, studying English and Literary Arts. Her poetry has been published in such literary magazines as Bluestem Magazine, Typo Magazine, Thin Noon, Cargoes, The Blue Pencil Online, The Round, Clerestory, and Triangle. Her full-length poetry manuscript, BABYFACE, was the 2018 recipient of the Frances Mason Harris Prize, established in 1983, which is awarded annually to a woman undergraduate or graduate student at Brown University for a book-length manuscript of poetry or prose-fiction.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Corey D. Cook's Upcoming Poetry Readings

April 10, 2019
Kimball Public Library in Randolph, VT 
7:00 PM
With Anne Shivas and Carol Potter
For more details: https://www.poemtown.org/

# # #

May 6, 2019
Latham Library in Thetford, VT
7:00 PM

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The quince bush by Katherine Szpekman

which bloomed fragile, salmon flowers,
just outside the laundry room porch,
is gone.

Only a polaroid survives of it,
and I am squinting into the sun,
vague smile and tilted head.

Swollen buds push
hard beneath a polyester t-shirt,
secrets and forbidden fruit.

I can’t know
how heavy my black winter coat
will sit on my shoulders,

the day we bury you,
after some forty years,
just down the road.



Katherine Szpekman lives in Collinsville, Connecticut with her family. She holds degrees in nursing and developmental psychology. When she’s not writing poetry, she can be found baking, preferably with chocolate.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

On impending fatherhood by Michael J. Galko

When I think of the due date
I recall the perished radishes

of my youth, drowning in
a lake of hosewater,

the goldfish floating
among their flakes of food,

the snake a frozen S
in his glass shelter,

surrounded by crickets
hopping the joy of the pardoned.

I think of all the beings
I’ve killed with excess.

Around me, the fireflies
are starting to signal, unjarred,

and the evening wind expires.
My fear: If I can guide this child

safely through her youth,
will I have lost my own?



Michael J. Galko is a Houston-based scientist and poet. In the past year he has had poems published or accepted at descant, Picaroon, Gargoyle, Frogpond, Gulf Coast, Nassau Review, The Concho River Review, and Riddled with Arrows.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

On the Banks by Lorraine Caputo

A splash & another dampens this dusk.
Four bare boys dive into the river.
Thin arms stroke the water the color
of their bodies. Shadow water lilies float
on the current. Mass bells begin ringing.
Night birds swoop out of the old
boat station. Rayos streak the clouded sky.



Poet and translator Lorraine Caputo’s works appear in over 150 journals on six continents and 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017). She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Thanksgiving (1966) by Ben Rasnic

was always about
feasting & football
at the old farmhouse,
stuffing ourselves with turkey & gravy
and some of us shoveling the stuffing
under the table
to the family dog,
except                                                            
for that
one time
my oldest brother
thought it would be funny
to hurl a dart
through my other brother’s ear lobe
but my Grandmother,
always cool in a crisis,
calmly whipped up                                                                            
a magical poultice
(Quaker Oats I think)
while my Grandfather applied
some corn-fed humor
to ease the pain                    
and then the sweet aroma
of pumpkin pie
trailed us into the den
and the fuzzy image
of the Lions
losing once again
on the black
& white philco.



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, March 21, 2019

Most Days by Sam Norman

Most days I get up
and stumble through
the job, the study halls,
the meetings, the meals,
the Mourner's Kaddish.

Other days I stay in bed
reading and napping and
dreaming and crying and
struggling.

Still others I float, sailing
into the ether, imagining
other lives, and other outcomes
living in a universe with less
pain, and (at least) one
fewer random
automobile accidents.



Sam Norman teaches high school at Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT. Recent works have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Amethyst, Down in the Dirt and Praxis. Most of Sam’s recent poetry focuses on a terrible tragedy. Sam’s son, Ben, just 20 years old, lost his life in a accident on New Year’s Eve, 2018.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Petty Bitterness by Sam Norman

1.

When they turn sixteen,
the scouts of Troop 25
go canoeing
down the Connecticut River.

It’s a week-long trip of camping, eating over open fires,
a chance to spend time bonding with Ben, my semi-distant teen.

For practice we took our canoe,
old, heavy, and unstable,
to the beach across the lake
to pick up Ben’s brother, Daniel, from day camp.

Halfway across I swamped the canoe,
and we were forced to swim,
pulling the cumbersome boat the rest of the way.
When we eventually made it to the beach
we lay on the sand, an exhausted spectacle
for campers to gape and point at.

2.

I spent hours agonizing over our equipment:
Should I buy the full fingered gloves or half?
What kind of dry bag is best?
Will this hat protect my freckled skin from burning?

At the logistics meeting, I announced,
I really like to cook, and I am willing
to do all the cooking on the trip.

Ben interrupted.
Dad, Mike will do it.
He’s a really good cook.

I felt stung, but I let it go
because I was utterly excited to be going with my son.

And then the day before the trip -- the day before the trip,
Ben told me he didn't want me to go.

He wanted this time to be with his friends
and not with me.

That night I went into his bag
and took the gloves I had so carefully picked
and hid them. I wanted his blistered hands
to feel some of the pain that I was feeling.

3.

I never forgave him. 
I stopped going to father/son weekends.
I stopped helping to organize events.
To this day I haven't seen his Eagle Scout project.

Yesterday I found one of his rowing gloves
in the back of a closet
pristine,
unused. 
I put it on
and sat down on the floor and cried.

Later today I will visit, for the first time,
the outdoor amphitheater
that Ben built for his Eagle Scout project.
Later today I will see what I missed.   



Sam Norman teaches high school at Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT. Recent works have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Amethyst, Down in the Dirt and Praxis. Most of Sam’s recent poetry focuses on a terrible tragedy. Sam’s son, Ben, just 20 years old, lost his life in a accident on New Year’s Eve, 2018.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Chimney Remains by Diane Webster

Only the chimney remains
of the burned house --
blackened within and without
stone stand as a monolith
to fire contained and escaped
as smoke and mist kiss
like cousins at a funeral.



Diane Webster enjoys the challenge of picturing images into words to fit her poems. If she can envision her poem, she can write what she sees and her readers can visualize her ideas. Her work has appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Eunoia Review, Philadelphia Poets, and other literary magazines.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

like a shadow that punches back by J.J. Campbell

sometimes it's
as easy as just
closing my eyes

sometimes the
nightmares follow
me like a shadow
that punches back

there's no reason
to believe you'll
fall in love again

no reason to think
the muse will ever
stumble upon your
porch again

and the prices aren't
getting any cheaper
on the brides from

russia



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves but still managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Word Dish, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, Mad Swirl and Rusty Truck. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

scribble in my notebook by J.J. Campbell

they like to stare
at me as i scribble
in my notebook

they have that look
like they are dying
to know what i am
writing about

none of their egos
could handle the
truth

it's nothing about

you



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves but still managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Word Dish, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, Mad Swirl and Rusty Truck. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com).

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ides of March by Mark Danowsky

The streets I grew up on
lined with exhaust
covered water
you can walk
without falling through

I'm reminded of Friedrich's
icy portrait
a landscape I know
but have not seen

I listen to a gifted
mix of Yo-Yo Ma
passing the ever-changing
storefronts of my youth
a breeze that carries
each perfect seagull



Mark Danowsky is a writer from Philadelphia and author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Kestrel, The Healing Muse, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. He is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Co-Founder of Wood & Water Press.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Study in Red by John Hicks

          Lauritzen Gardens
          Omaha, Nebraska


Looking up from my book, two women are sailing
side-by-side across the terrace, gray hair
visored back, red Nebraska sweatshirts pushed
to their elbows. Their forearms pump them along.
I’m reading how landscape directs interest.

Autumn crisp, this morning’s response to summer,
turns their talk cheek pink. A flagstone path
has taken them; its course flowing between walls
of limestone blocks straining to hold back the froth
of bee balm and lantana beds encircling flames
of sugar maples. So much in the moment,

unconsciously they fall into step, movements
so sympathetic I think them sisters. A cardinal
splashes pussy willow branches to their left.
The taller sister shortens sail;
turns into the wind.



John Hicks is an emerging poet: has been published or accepted for publication by: Valparaiso Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Ekphrastic Review, Glint Literary Journal, Midnight Circus, Panorama, Mojave River Review, and others. He writes in the thin mountain air of northern New Mexico.