Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Laundress by Khalilah Okeke

I am no longer an American
because i,
     peg my laundry on the
     line in the backyard
     Pray it doesn’t rain,
     then rush out to rescue it
     from monsoon downpours
     and lightening bolts.

I am no longer an American
because my,
     husband keeps windows
     gaping in winter, letting in
     sea-breezes, leaving me to
     bare hardwood floors with
     naked feet.

I no longer,
     jump from spiders the size
     of 50 cent pieces, I save my
     terror for the lunging ones the
     dimension of dinner plates.

I am no longer an American
because i,
     collect my mail from a letterbox
     dropped off by a man on a
     motorbike, Gamble with oceans
     that contain the extraterrestrial
     And risk my life for a swim.

Sometimes I wish I were American
so i could,
     toss my laundry in the dryer,
     wear uggs in public, and smoke
     joints on porch steps.

Sometimes I wish I were American
so i could,
     take month long road-trips
     with my family, and watch
     mountain ranges fleet by in
     rear-view mirrors.

I miss,
     lighting fireworks on Fourth
     of July, and doctors that speak
     English. 

I miss,
     sterile hospitals that smell of
     safety, and men that help with
     laundry.



Khalilah Okeke is a North American born: Nigerian, European, East Indian. She now resides in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and two small children. She has had poems published in The Orissa Society of the Americas Journal.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rain over Ice by Patricia Fargnoli

The driveway is a slippery flatfish,
the landscape a gray foil around it
and fog, not far off, settles
around twin beeches
behind the town garage.
A hard rain pounds my winter jacket,
Ice under water beneath my feet–
each layer making the other
more treacherous.
This morning my daughter
posted on Facebook, pictures
of her perfect tanned legs
stretched out on a Florida beach.
I try not to envy her and fail.
Hood over my head, I edge my way
to the car, hang on to the side.
Unbalanced in this frozen moment, I wonder
why I’m going into the chancy weather
only for mail, to pick up a prescription
when I could have chosen instead to stay in
with the computer, the clock, the clicking
on and off of the furnace.



Patricia Fargnoli has published 5 books of poetry. Her latest book is Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, Tupelo Press, 2017. A former NH Poet Laureate and a MacDowell Fellow, she’s published widely in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly et. al.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sometimes by Patricia Fargnoli

Sometimes I feel like
the sad gray bird
flying panic-stricken back and forth
just beneath the ceiling,
flying above the aisles full of
soup and pasta, the cases
of beef and chicken,
the stacks of tomatoes and
grapes, bananas and lemons,
of Shaw’s grocery store
in Walpole New Hampshire
on a cold April Tuesday
at ten a.m. in 2018
trying to find any opening,
trying to find sky.



Patricia Fargnoli has published 5 books of poetry. Her latest book is Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, Tupelo Press, 2017. A former NH Poet Laureate and a MacDowell Fellow, she’s published widely in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly et. al.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Prayer by Gail Braune Comorat

At my daughter’s city home
I watch a soundless flight of cormorants
skim a rubbed-chalk sky
toward Smith’s Creek, their number uneven.

A year of ups, downs. Yet I know this life that dazzles
and disappoints is our rosary.
We must touch and worry each moment in the knotted
strand that separates us.

I unclip wash from her backyard line
as a cool rain begins to fall. Above, the birds string out
like loose black pearls
tossed randomly across the ever-changing heavens.



Gail Braune Comorat is a founding member of Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, and the author of Phases of the Moon (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Grist, Mudfish, Philadelphia Stories, and The Widows’ Handbook. She’s a long-time member of several writing groups in Lewes, Delaware.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Body is Not by Gail Braune Comorat

a colored illustration in a science text,
not a flattened pocket containing all
that we are, an androgynous outline
with celluloid sheets we lift
to reveal the muscles, the veins,
the glossy white bones. And

neither is my friend’s body a city
despite the way her scans light up
like a runway with night descending.
Like looking down on BWI,
she says when she shows me
her body’s dark transactions:
a map of bright mushrooms
displayed in brutal radiance.



Gail Braune Comorat is a founding member of Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild, and the author of Phases of the Moon (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Grist, Mudfish, Philadelphia Stories, and The Widows’ Handbook. She’s a long-time member of several writing groups in Lewes, Delaware.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Dad's Photography by Laurie Kolp

After lunch at the new Cajun place,
we pause beside an old rusty truck
(which is permanently parked
on the restaurant’s front porch)
so you can take my picture.
I show you which button to touch
how to extend your arms like a zombie—and snap.
I strike a pose beside the crusty Ford,
a perfect picture prop for my Facebook profile pic.
Two ladies pass by. One says she hopes I’m
up-to-date on my tetanus shot
(while the other one cautions me
not to ruin my white pants).
I scoot away from the truck’s corroded door
but you’re already snapping away
unaware that you’re snapping away,
twenty-five freeze-framed angles
of the same me we soon discover
while swiping frame to frame.
Somewhere in the middle I’m smiling
not for the picture but because
you’re taking my picture
after all those years
of disconnection.



Laurie Kolp’s poems have recently appeared in Stirring, Whale Road Review, concis, Up the Staircase, and more. Her poetry books include the full-length Upon the Blue Couch and the chapbook Hello, It's Your Mother. An avid runner and lover of nature, Laurie lives in Southeast Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Second Bridge by Robert Demaree

The satellite had shown a second bridge
Farther up Perry Brook,
A place my grandson might enjoy next June.
I climb to snap a picture and,
Descending, make a wrong turn
And then another, down the wrong creek bed,
Pungent mire on my shoes,
Small dead trees toppling at my touch,
Decay and renewal hidden in the forest.

In time male pride gives way to sense:
I am not where I thought I was,
In woods I should have known.
I dial my wife,
Then 911, my first such call
But surely not the last:
74-year-old guy, I tell them,
Wandered off the trail.
A granite boulder is my base,
A place to sit and wait,
Shelter for the night perhaps,
Workspace where I lay out my camera,
Cell phone, dark glasses
As light fades,
And the steady woodland chorus
Settles in,
Known but not by name.
If there are others here,
I do not encroach upon their space,
Or they on mine.

In my mind I compose notes of thanks
To different agencies,
For it did not occur to me
They might not come,
That I might not survive this night,
Or see again my wife,
Our girls, their kids.
I listen for the search dogs,
Watch for lights on the ATV
Down the old logging road.
It did not cross my mind
That I could die this night,
But it did come to me,
As it had not before,
That one day I would.
I have my picture of the second bridge,
Which Philip may or may not ever see.



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.

Monday, June 11, 2018

For Once by Marcia J. Pradzinski

My mind does not flutter away
from the room, the table
I lie on, the people surrounding me.

My body holds my mind still as I
wait and squeeze the soft ball the nurse
has placed in my left hand, its rubber
smell absorbing my attention.

A flake of foreboding dances near her voice,
take a deep breath in, but melts in the
notes of Mozart overhead and the doctor’s
questions about my life – my work, my family.

Lost to me this time – the internal shivering,
the breath-freezing dread of the needle
and its cold steel that burns.



Marcia J. Pradzinski, an award-winning poet, lives in Skokie, Illinois. Her poems have appeared in print publications, anthologies, and online. Blue Heron Review, Olentangy Review, Paper Swans Press (UK), and Pirene's Fountain have featured her poetry most recently. Her chapbook, Left Behind, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ila White by Terri Kirby Erickson

In the dark dresser drawer my grandmother,
Ila White, slept as if she was still in the womb,

an infant so small, she fit in her father's palm.
Three babies ahead of her died before birth

and another one, soon thereafter. We won't lose
this child,
my great-grandmother, Nannie, said,

opening the drawer and tucking her daughter in.
Ila's kidney-bean-sized-lungs might have held

a thimble-full of air, and her cry was a mewling
sound, like a newborn kitten. But her mother

heard it clear across the barnyard; the cow she
was milking bellowing at the loss of her warm

hand on a cold morning as Nannie kicked over
the wooden stool, grabbed the bucket, and ran.



Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of five collections of award-winning poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Asheville Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, storySouth, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. Awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina.

Friday, June 8, 2018

At the Window by Martha Christina

I’m grateful for this view
of our neighbors’ daffodils
and budding magnolia.

A dead leaf catches
in the arborvitae,
their privacy hedge;
not tall enough to hide
a kiss at the end
of a working day.
Not thick enough
to mute their
laughter, young
and fresh as spring.

Our last day together,
your lips opened
on your final breath,
then wouldn’t close.

I turn away from the window.



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 is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review and *82 Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Two, Watching by Martha Christina

The male robin who
appears at the base
of the feeder, doesn’t
sing, and shows no
interest in the spillage
of sunflower seeds.

He worries a worm
out from under
a budded daffodil,
then hops onto
the common fence
and faces the window
of our neighbor’s shed.

A friend has told me
a robin saw his reflection
in her dining room window,
and threw himself at it,
territorial and protective
of the nest and its eggs.

This robin makes
no aggressive moves;
makes no moves at all.
He sits as I sit:
silent,
transfixed,
watching.



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 is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review and *82 Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Simply eating her salad by Michael Estabrook

Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed
by merely being in her presence,
like this afternoon
at McDonald’s with the grandchildren,
suddenly I’m choked with emotion,
barely able to speak,
while simply watching her
sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.

I had to work at not crying,
(What a silly spectacle I would have been.)
dabbing at my eyes
with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin.
“Guess my eyes are watering
because it’s so cold outside.”
(Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)

I can understand being so smitten
when you first fall in love – how can you help it!
The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality,
the inescapable mystery of it all,
crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps.
But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time,
with this woman almost half a century!
How could it be possible
that I still get all choked up watching her
sitting there simply eating her salad?



Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more succinct and precise, clear and relatable, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, the latest being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Batteries by Michael Estabrook

I try to keep up but the youngsters
walk faster talk faster work faster eat faster
          play faster learn faster . . .
“Becomes harder every year doesn’t it”
quips another old man at the beach
in his floppy hat and Growing Old Ain’t
for the Faint Hearted t-shirt
watching me taking up the rear
clutching onto my towel and chair.
Sure does but at least I made it
          to the ocean
again this year best place
in the world to recharge the old batteries.



Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more succinct and precise, clear and relatable, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, the latest being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

April Morning by Richard Martin

Looking out of the wide window this morning,
it came to me that green is the colour of hope –

rebirth, look at the chestnut unfolding its leaves,
or the birch's shimmer, the beech's green veil;

but then there's also white: the innocent cumulus
of the cherry, and the dogwood's diffident purity –

green promises future fruitfulness; summer to come,
whereas blossom is so temporary, a halfway house.

Let us sit back and gaze upon this present richness --
with relief that seasons move on, in spite of man.



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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Sacred Texts by Holly Day

I would have had so many more poems to show you
but the priest destroyed them all when he came
said my pre-Columbian ideals, my life before him, were wrong
told me I was wrong. I stood by, penitent, as he hauled

box after box of handwritten journals
out to the curb to melt in the rain, came back
covered in sweat and ink to remind me
it was for the best, he only wanted the best

for me. I watched the codices that had recorded my life before him
disintegrate through the crack in the curtains, pretending
to keep an eye on children bicycling in the rain
that I was impatient for the mail. I watched

as history, deprived of its tongue
forgot all about me.



Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I'm in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Nothing wakes me... by M.J. Iuppa

like rain pounding
its two-fisted anthem
on every surface
within earshot
and closer—

an echo galloping
with a crowd’s
commotion, moving
in a clatter of tin
elbows and knees—

hands reaching 
as the snare of a
truck’s headlights
on a wet winding
road finds rain

leaping in its down-
shift of wheels
whistling a near escape
into puddles full
of moonlight.



M.J. Iuppa's fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 29 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog:
mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Family Vacation 1965 by Jack Powers

In Providence, they put Nanny between us to stop the punch wars
      I was losing to Donny, though I would never admit it until my bruised
and battered biceps fell off my shoulder, even then I wouldn’t cry,

wouldn’t give Donny the satisfaction of knowing he’d won,
      wouldn’t give my parents an excuse to move me into the way-back
where Ellen read surrounded by luggage or between them

in front where Chrissy bobbed her head like some dashboard Virgin Mary,
      smiling like she never did anything wrong which isn’t true
since that’s why she was sitting there in the first place.

Now I felt sorry for Nanny on her first vacation to the Cape trapped
      between bored ten-year-old me and more bored thirteen-year-old Donny;
we could only stare out the window for so long before the monotony

drove us to team up and start watching her lips, saying what she said
      at the same time she said it, until she begged, Please boys, stop.
It’s not funny,
as we begged along until my father swung his arm over the seat

and threatened, Don’t make me pull over, slapping blindly with his hand
      as my mother pleaded, Please Don, watch the road, and the car
swung back and forth in traffic like a dog straining against a leash.

Then Dad slammed on his brakes and swerved into the line
      for the Cape exit and we all panted in relief and excitement
as if returning from our wild selves, glad to have survived again

until at the Bourne Bridge, cars backed up at the circle,
      their roofs piled high with coolers, bikes and beach chairs,
Donny asked if I wanted to see who could hit the softest

and I reached across Nanny and brushed his biceps
      and he reached across and clocked me, knuckle twisting
to reach the bone and as I cried out, he smiled and said, You win.



Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Perfectly Good Shoes, will be coming out in the fall. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He teaches in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website:
http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Leaves by Robert Hudnut

The other day when we went walking, we
Looked for leaves to grace the dining table
And the window sills.

The yellows, reds, and golds were all astir
Across the path, which made it easy to
Reject the ones that failed to meet the test.

But what, exactly, was the test? Just how
Would we decide which leaf would make the grade
And which would not?

Soon your hands were full,
While mine held only two.

And yet, your wanton leaves, I felt, put mine
To shame, for you had gathered richly, while
The leaves that I had picked, though perfect, made

A paltry contribution when compared
To the munificence of what you brought
To grace the table and the sills.



Robert Hudnut is a former pastor, three churches; writer, thirteen books (Harper, et al); former trustee, Princeton University.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Evening by Steve Klepetar

My father sits in the living room, reading,
drinking gin. My mother is on the phone
with her lover, a sad, small man who keeps
everything neat.
He has a collection of pre-Colombian art.
On weekends he washes his T-Bird at the beach.
He lifts weights at the gym and boxes
to keep in shape. Once he beat up
a young thug for sitting on the hood of his car,
sent him home crying and bloody.
My father’s face is gray, the book heavy in his hands.
Opera on the radio, a spring breeze blowing
through an open window.
My mother has been talking for nearly an hour now.
My father freshens his drink, turns a page.
Slowly the room burns. On the shelves, books turn to ash.



Steve Klepetar has recently relocated to the Berkshires in Massachusetts after 36 years in Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three in 2017. Recent collections include A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps), and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Smoke Break Outside Swann's Chapel Church by Abby N. Lewis

He sits in his Lincoln, smokes a cigarette
and thinks of his wife.
No doubt she has a list of chores for him
as long as his hours spent at work:
the wall in the bedroom needs a facelift,
the pool could use sanitizing
after the grandkid’s last visit, the second
guest room door squeaks.
No one ever stays in that room anyway.
Then she’ll complain
she forgot the butter for the brownies,
could he buy some?
He rehearses how to tell her no,
sticks a hand out the door
and taps the rolled paper. Eventually,
he smothers the butt
on the dash—the Lincoln coughs to life,
and as he pulls away,
exhaust smoke rises in the rearview mirror
to blend with the alabaster wall.



Abby N. Lewis is a poet from Dandridge, Tennessee. She is the author of the poetry collection Reticent. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Timber, Cheat River Review, The Allegheny Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, This Fluid Journey, will be published by Finishing Line Press in September 2018.