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.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Something Greater by Jason Fisk

The sun embraces the evening
Its shadows angle across the burb
Rain clings to the sidewalk’s pores
The storm is still troubling the air
Red wine and teriyaki salmon
fill my belly and on the way home
I crank the music of my youth
Magically, I am sixteen again – invincible
Car soaring down the highway
between two truck trailers
on my way home from school
Wanting to smash into them
just to hear the crinkle of
of the car metal 
Just to be humbled
by the blunt impact
of something greater than me

But now I have kids
in bed at home
and wonder
how I got
from wanting
to smash my car
to being their father

Something greater
than me



Jason Fisk is a husband to one, a father to three, and a teacher to many. He lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. His long list of employment before becoming a teacher includes working in a psychiatric unit, laboring in a kitchen cabinet making factory, and mixing cement for a bricklayer.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Vulnerable by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

is not a good
or comfortable
place to be
for a man
who has always
relied on himself
and provided
for others,
but three stints
in the madhouse
and over a year
as an outpatient
on the third floor
of the Medical Arts
building after that
will teach you
that no one can
do anything on
their own and
that even Galileo
must have had
help.



Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Walking Is Still Honest, Red Fez, and Anti-Heroin Chic.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rancid by Divya Manikandan

On my way to
the institute every morning,
I cross a repugnant smelling lake
with the froth of seventeen
maladroit industries sending
out their toxic effluents into the
aquatic home like waste to a landfill.

While moving vehicles roll up their
tinted shields to censor out the
inevitably penetrative aroma,
my eye catches one figure that
stands dauntless on a crumbling bridge
smoking a morning cigarette.

I wonder why he stands there, in his
Indian kiln and murky shawl, like clockwork
in the mornings.
Perhaps he tries to take in the scents the world
blatantly shuns, or perhaps he takes
pleasure in seeing the planet destroyed.

His unctuous demeanor as he breathes tar into
his lungs is oddly something that keeps me up
at night.
In questioning his philosophies, dreaming up
his family, analyzing his psychology, I weave
up silk webs of lies.

But one Monday morning, when I glance out
the window, my eyes search for that
man whose name I do not know.

He is lost in the wind, just like that bridge
that crumbled into all that’s left of time’s
unforgiving shadow.



Divya Manikandan is a resident of Bangalore, India. Who is currently building her own poetic arsenal, painting as a form of meditation and creating short films as a form of expression. Literature is her means of escape from reality, however her reality has always been to become a surgeon.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Confederate Park Gazebo by Al Ortolani

In the small town park, two boys
meet in the shadows
of the gazebo. Breathless
under the elms at midnight,
each muscle is a war of secession.
The picket lines have been drawn for years.
Hidden between the trees, skirmishers
camouflage themselves
in the smoke of union. Tonight,
they listen to the crescendo of crickets,
the rattle of wind,
the voices in the lights along Main Street.
They have been taught that God hates queers,
and beyond that, only lilacs
swell in the drunken dark.



Al Ortolani is a recently retired high school teacher. His poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, BOAAT, and many other journals as well. His most recent poetry collection is forthcoming from NYQ Books.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

First Date by John Grey

There were four of them
getting ready for the one date.

Chrissie swished various blouses, dresses, pants,
across the sight-line of the mirror
like swiping groceries in a checkout line.
Her mother garbed her over-racing heart
in sips of wine.
Her father slipped a good half hour
of parlor pacing on his feet.
Tina, her little sister,
swaddled herself in giggles.

Chrissie fiddled with her hair.
Her mother wiped her eyes.
Her father flexed his hands,
imagined them wrapped around
the throat of a boy
who got too fresh with his daughter.
Tina looked out the bedroom window,
eager for that first glimpse
of this surely wretched, ugly boy.

Chrissie dabbled in just enough makeup
to move her age slightly forward.
More tears turned back her mother's clock.
Rage at his own teenage misbehavior
fueled her father's calendar.
Tina vowed to never grow up.

Chrissie didn't mean to pose
at the top of the stairs
but her nerves, her light head
couldn't help themselves.
Her mother watched from the kitchen wings,
proud and afraid.
Her father was transported
to different stairs, twenty years before,
Chrissie giving way to the woman he ultimately married.
Tina saw the car drive up,
the boy emerge with a bouquet of flowers.
She was eleven years old.
For a moment or two,
she struggled to stay that age.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Front Range Review, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Midwest Quarterly.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

First Kiss by Ben Rasnic

Sat behind her
in second grade,
would tug her pigtails
to let her know.

At recess,
we hid together
behind the tall hedges
and traded valentines;

our stomachs queasy,
hearts racing
like Rin Tin Tin
and then

the clash
of stainless steel
& enamel,     

hint of grape pixy stix



Ben Rasnic's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Currently residing in Bowie, Maryland, Rasnic spends his free time in summer writing, tending his vegetable garden and supporting the Baltimore Orioles' AA farm team, the Bowie Baysox.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Bats at Night by Richard Martin / Photograph by Gerd-Wolf Schaefer

Like the paper darts I folded as a boy
to fly across the living room,
minute black arrows circled
the garden pond, shooting suddenly
from bush and tree – tiny fragments
of black tissue paper swooping down
to the water, only to speed away again,
adding to the dusky spectacle
of the evening – blue-grey sky,
puffs of reddish clouds, punctuated
by the invasion of bats – mere dashes
in the shady text of night.




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.



Copyright Gerd-Wolf Schaefer

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Amaryllis by Marne Wilson

A co-worker planted it on a whim
and then abandoned it just as casually.
Now this amaryllis is mine by default.
Time after time, I have watched it
try to create a bloom.

The flower stalk becomes overeager,
growing so quickly that it cannot support itself,
then falling over dead,
a victim of its own success.
After that the bulb lies dormant for a while
until I reluctantly begin to water it again.

But this time is different.
After months without water,
the bulb decides on its own to grow.
I check on it one day and discover vigorous shoots
breaking out of the dry soil.
What can I do but quench its thirst?
But I also ask myself for the first time
exactly what went wrong in the past.

I see that the bulb is planted too shallow,
so that it has no anchor.
I take the plant home and add more soil to the pot
until the bulb is buried up to its neck.
Some say that I will smother it this way,
that bulbs need to get plenty of air.
But I say that my mother
kept her amaryllis for fifty years
and watched it bloom many, many times.
I say that sometimes old ways are best.
I say that I am going to watch it grow.



Marne Wilson lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Her poems have most recently appeared in Atlas & Alice, Poetry East, and Oyez Review. She is the author of The Bovine Daycare Center (Finishing Line, 2015).