Monday, September 11, 2017

Closing Exercises: Summer Boarding School (Wolfeboro 2017) by Robert Demaree

The tents by the teaching grove are empty,
Will be coming down soon.
I walk along the lane
And listen to echoes of the summer.
What has been gained here,
What will be remembered
Of these five weeks?
Friends they may not see again;
The confidence to start afresh
At new schools in different places;
The teachers who persuaded them
They could write, or draw, or succeed.
The teachers will file their reports,
Take their own kids
For a last look at the pond,
Lash kayaks to the tops of their cars



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, September 8, 2017

Off and On Tinty's Racetrack (Plainville, CT, 1952) by Ronald Moran

My best friends, Dick and Roger, asked
me for five bucks so we could buy a car,
purple, with the number 54 fading, sitting
in weeds on Zack's lot next to the pumps
in his gas station, and I said OK before
realizing the three of us had to pay for it
by pumping gas at Zack's, a fee for our
new stock car to vegetate on his side lot.

This was after I found out the car had no
engine and no prospects of ever racing
at Tinty's, our distant goal in buying 54,
where we went Friday nights to the races
on its short track, and where Dick wormed
his way into the pits, trying to con drivers
into letting him take a car out on a Friday.
One did and Dick came in third, more
glory than we could have hoped for then.



Ronald Moran has poems in current or forthcoming issues of Asheville Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Tar River Poetry. In March he was inducted into Clemson University’s CAAH Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Horrible Thing I Did by M. Stone

Recalling it
makes my stomach take a leap
the way it does when I miss the last step
and lose my footing.

It is the pain of a rough poke in the side,
leaving tender organs smarting,
but later I will find no bruise.

It makes me crave my lost religion
and the stern bogeyman in the sky
who can dole out retribution.

Decades have passed,
and I can only try to atone;
the gravity of the act
will not be erased. 

Now when I am tempted
to fetch a stone the size of my palm
and hurl it at some guilty party,
a person I find more wicked than myself,

the memory of the horrible thing I did
stays my hand.



M. Stone is a bookworm, birdwatcher, and stargazer who writes poetry while living in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in San Pedro River Review, SOFTBLOW, Calamus Journal, and numerous other print and online journals. She can be reached at
writermstone.wordpress.com.

Monday, September 4, 2017

the older hispanic men by Justin Hyde

i met
in detasseling fields
factories
& roofing crews

had nothing
or very little

besides aztec grace
& the dignity
of a bald eagle
high
on their shoulders

something of durango
jalisco
echoes of pancho villa
swirling
in their marrow

men like luis
ramiro
enrique

clockwork

no pensive
shame

or existential
brittle

i stood
in their shade

those lean
wandering
years.



Justin Hyde's books and other poems can be found here:
http://poets.nyq.org/poet/justinhyde.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Let's Blame It on Mother by M.J. Iuppa

There was never any drawing paper. We
stole the cardboard that kept our father’s

pressed shirts stiff— careful not to separate
straight pins that fastened the sleeves to

shoulders. We were stealth, trying
to ply the pine drawers open with-

out a squeak, knowing Mother was fast
asleep in the next room.

We gave each other that look as we tip-
toed down the staircase to a room where

we hid with bald-faced lies that became
drawings of the orphanage, of running

away with a red leather suitcase filled with
vinyl 45s & a week’s worth of underwear.

We’d get as far as Petrossi’s barn &
settled in their stable on a mound of hay.

We’d lie there, listening to horses’ slow
breath & considered what would happen

if we answered the black phone
ringing off its hook.



M.J. Iuppa, Director of the Visual & Performing Arts Minor Program and Lecturer in Creative Writing at St. John Fisher College, and a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at The College at Brockport, was awarded the New York State Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching, 2017.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In the Park by Richard Martin

A small blonde-haired boy came skipping past,
waving to me furtively behind his mother's back –
just two of the afternoon wanderers in the park,
where, with some thirty others, I sat patiently
on a flimsy chair to listen to a poetry reading.

Around us stood vast beech and lime trees,
prolific bushes and verdant lawns; the poets
told us they'd read about landscape, gardens,
fields, nature, and, yes, parks. The heavy burls
on the tree trunks became faces, grinning
at the thought of versifying their glory.

On the grass beyond a row of Roman columns,
enthusiasts practised therapeutic exercises –
the sun shone briefly through the clouds;
the reading over, we walked our memories home.



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, August 15, 2017

The Way of the World by Ben Rasnic

Pacing the concrete median strip
adjacent the intersection
of Central Avenue
and Ritchie Road,

his scruffy beard
daubs a face rutted
by hard times;
vacant eyes
expose the emptiness inside.

The cardboard sign
pressed against a soiled, slept on
Army Surplus shirt
reads “Desert Storm Vet
down on his luck
needs help to pay the rent”

and I’m thinking
‘There but for the grace
of God go I’

but the light turns green
& I punch the accelerator

so as not to piss off
those who continue
along this road I travel.



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.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Summers with My Father by Aden Thomas

He told my mother
he brought me along
so I would want to stay
in school, get a degree,
the first in the family
to go to college.
But we both knew
I saved him labor.

We packed and loaded everything
for people,
their furniture, their beds,
their boxes filled with dishes,
their washers and dryers,
their pianos and and televisions,
into the moving van,
which wasn’t a van at all
but an empty tractor-trailer.

From 5am to twilight
we worked in the heat,
so tired by the end,
the salt
of our sweat
stuck to our skin.
Our muscles, seared
by the sun,
the humidity and heat,
burned slow into the night.

No shower, just a buffet
at a truck stop in the dark
and a sleeping bag
for a bed.
My bones were so exhausted
I’d fall asleep
in my clothes and wake up
past midnight
bathed in sweat again.

Sometimes in the morning
all the illegals
would gather on the sidewalk
outside the truck stop
and my father would speak
his broken Spanish to them,
hire one or two
to help us load the truck full.

I would spend the day
trying to outwork them.
Maybe their motivation was
a better life
or sending money back home,
I didn’t know,
but mine was trying to prove myself
to him, prove
I knew what it was,
the real work
of men.

It had to be impossible
that he’d done it
for twenty-five years,
all the neighborhoods
in all the cities,
all the truck stops,
on all the lonely highways,
the nerves in his feet
crushed under all
the weight of heavy lifting,
the months and years
away from his family,

One night, late into
the summer,
both of us sitting in the cab
near the end of our time
together, right before
I was set to go off
to school,
both of us listening
to the radio,
he said, son,
you worked hard,

and that was how
I knew.



Aden Thomas grew up on the high plains of central Wyoming.  His work has appeared in the The Blue Mountain Review and The Skylark Review. A collection of his published poems, What Those Light Years Carry, is now available through Kelsay Books.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

dad says by Justin Hyde

memories
pop-up
out of nowhere

he watches them like movies
losing whole afternoons

-running naked
in a rainstorm
on the farm
with his kid brother

-setting up bowling pins
saturday nights
at the memphis missouri vfw
for a nickel
a frame

-chugging a bottle of vermouth
on a dare
and punching out
the back window
of sheriff pope’s
patrol car

‘i look at the clock
3pm
i haven’t done a damn thing
but watch movies
in my head.’

‘at least
you still have the movies,’
i tell him.

‘there’s that,’
he smiles
working the blade of a pocket knife
under his fingernails.

the chili
done

i stir it
with a big wooden spoon

ladle us each
a bowl.



Justin Hyde's books and other poems can be found here:
http://poets.nyq.org/poet/justinhyde.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Monadnock Flood by Maura MacNeil

It is April’s upending ocean of sky that takes the road,
tosses asphalt and gravel into the bottom pasture,

chokes the apple and viburnum, almost kills them outright.

That Saturday, mud ankle-deep, sludge water receded to shallow pools,
we went down there to pick our way through—

to collect in a pile the stones and all those sharp things:
bits of glass, a ballpoint pen, a car mirror—shards of storm—

before it cemented in and broke the mower blades in June.

But then, suddenly, within days, everything new.
Brown snakes curled in the sun, jonquils my husband planted

last fall in bloom. Down the hill a new house was going up.
A constant whine of band saws, skill saws. And in the yard all those birds,

familiar notes—a pecking so deep, so desiring, from a leafing oak.



Maura MacNeil is the author of the poetry collections A History of Water (Finishing Line Press) and Lost Houses (Aldrich Press). She is also founder and editor of off the margins. She teaches creative writing and lives in the woods of New Hampshire with her husband.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Instructions by Maura MacNeil

First, ignore most noise.

Then breathe.

Stand slack
and reject rigidity.

Sing with your bones
to make them soften.

And then sleep.

Do not rise
in the middle
of the night
when you
wake startled.

Rest.

Close your eyes
and rest.



Maura MacNeil is the author of the poetry collections A History of Water (Finishing Line Press) and Lost Houses (Aldrich Press). She is also founder and editor of off the margins. She teaches creative writing and lives in the woods of New Hampshire with her husband.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Diminished by Steve Klepetar

Halfway through the month,
and light has lessened.

The year comes around
again to a house sunk deep

in meadow grass.
There is no one home,

but birds break from treetops
at the slightest sound.

Look down toward the canyon,
down from the rocky hill.

There are voices in the wind,
indistinct, and still

there is light in the windows,
light shining across the roof.

Here is a house
diminished

like a wounded eye, burning
despite the shadows of trees.



Steve Klepetar lives in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include Family Reunion (Big Table), A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), and How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps).

Monday, July 17, 2017

At the Gallery Talk by Martha Christina

A photographer
interrupts his literal
colleague, says: "You
don't have to have
a photograph of
a woman screaming
to have a photograph of
a woman screaming."

A woman,
taking notes,
nods,
writes that down.



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, July 16, 2017

Without You II by Martha Christina

Cardinals, sparrows,
house finches in pairs
crowd the empty feeder.



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).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Emergency Vet Clinic by Catherine Weiss

spend three hours in the waiting room
at the emergency vet clinic
on a sunday and you will see it’s full of love
love for the nauseous mastiff

love for the schnauzer with the abscess

love for the washcloth-eating chocolate lab

love for the ridgeback who stole the halloween candy
both of my dogs are covered in hives
silly pups

endless wait

astronomical bill
finding humor isn’t difficult

"what’d our perfect dumdums get into this time"

humans endure the tedium together
in good-natured chagrin
trading stories and knowing nods

that is, until the man with the corgi

pushes through the glass doors and suddenly
here in this convivial lobby

even the dogs are stone—

he is carrying her like a baby

he doesn’t know what’s wrong

she’s not walking

she’s not breathing

the man says: help her

the man says: please

a flash of red-gold fur
cradled, beloved disappears around a corner

in the blank minute that follows the phone rings twice



Catherine Weiss wants you to know she loves poems. She is known for her signature mix of humor and heart, and definitely not for punching through walls like the Hulk when she doesn't win a slam. Her poetry has been published in such literary journals as Freezeray Poetry, Voicemail Poems, Gravel Mag, and Jersey Devil Press. Catherine is the founder and editor-in-chief of lit mag Slamchop. More about Catherine at
http://catherineweiss.com.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Grandma's Records by Catherine Weiss

Last month Grandma told me
how it used to be that every
morning she’d turn on the record
player, how those albums kept her
company all day long.

Deafness took her music
though, favorite vinyl sold and
gifted. A house makes due.

But Grandpa died today,

and I’m left at the kitchen table,
listening to the midnight hush
of a record collection un-played,
aching to give it all back.



Catherine Weiss wants you to know she loves poems. She is known for her signature mix of humor and heart, and definitely not for punching through walls like the Hulk when she doesn't win a slam. Her poetry has been published in such literary journals as Freezeray Poetry, Voicemail Poems, Gravel Mag, and Jersey Devil Press. Catherine is the founder and editor-in-chief of lit mag Slamchop. More about Catherine at
http://catherineweiss.com.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

the kind of sick by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

when Stan died
I missed his memorial
and burial
the tortured words
and sad faces
of old friends,
friends that knew him
better, longer than I

I was sick then
the kind of sick
that doesn’t relent
the kind of sick
that binds wrists
to prevent removal
of oxygen masks
the kind of sick
that creeps up like
a hired assassin
the kind of sick
that makes you miss
saying farewell
to a friend
that makes you wonder
why him when
it could so, so easily
had been you



Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a former native of Carlinville, IL. Over 443 pieces of her work can be found in 154 print and electronic publications. Her magazine-type blog updated at her erratic discretion: http://wlc-wlcblog.blogspot.com/.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Walnut by Yuan Changming

The autumn’s yellowish brain
Hardened within spiky skin
Keeps all the secrets of the

Passing season
Cherishes its dreams
In each of its wooden lobes



Yuan Changming, published monographs on translation before moving out of China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver; credits include Best of Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, Threepenny Review and 1319 others.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Finesse by Robert Demaree

In the Club Room at Golden Pines
Hour upon hour of duplicate bridge,
Earnest, watchful: grossly underbid.
I know they think it’s useful
And hope they find it fun.
I do not do that,
Or crossword puzzles, or Sudoku,
And would not attempt
Counting backwards from one hundred
By sevens.
I count instead on
Shuffling through my old postcards,
Thousands of them,
Expecting a memory to be jarred loose,
The occasion of a purchase,
A scene brought back from
Some corner of our life.

The inn at Nags Head, from our wedding trip,
Prince Edward Island fifty years later,
The piney woods of north Louisiana,
Years I have chosen to count as good ones
Though there is reason not to.

Those other towns where our girls
Have made lives for themselves,
The band concerts and soccer games
Of our children’s children.

Paid too much for this one
At an antique mall in Iowa.
Got this one on the way to his brother’s wedding;
She died so young.

And here are little-known canyons in Utah,
The French Quarter, the Chateau Frontenac,
The leafy town on the Ohio River
From which my dad, a grocer’s son,
Set out in 1925.

This one is our pond in New Hampshire.
My father loved bridge,
Could make a bid of three no-trump
When he could do little else.
I can tell you the exact moment
He began to slip:
At his desk, a clear morning
In September of ’83,
Looking out at the woods,
Unable to balance his checkbook,
Forty degrees on the porch.



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.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Simplicity by Bill Abbott

We were never so close
As when we were isolated,
Skipping shale rocks
As we broke them
Off the cliffside behind us,
Counting the skips
One…two…three.
You showed me the technique,
How to twist my arm, spin my wrist
In just that way to maximize skips,
And there was no shortage of rocks.

We were away from the others,
Talking alone for the first time
In a long time.
One…two…three…four.
But usually three, sometimes just two.
Talking about life and what comes next,
And I was alone for a time with you
That was rare,
With nothing more important to do
Than skip rocks.



Bill Abbott is the author of "Let Them Eat MoonPie," the history of poetry slam in the Southeast. He has been published in Ray's Road Review, Radius, The November 3rd Club, and The Sow's Ear. Mr. Abbott lives in Ohio and teaches creative writing at Central State University.