Friday, February 15, 2019

How to Tie Your Shoes by Darrell Petska

Throw on your cap and sneakers,
grab yesterday's news and bike
fast to the wide irrigation canal
before big Sis spots you,
scoot down the weedy bank,
bracing yourself so you don't slip in,
make a newspaper boat and watch it
ride the flow till it's gone,
send another downstream,
and another and another—
pausing as a rusty pickup rattles to rest
up-canal where the grizzled ditch rider
tramps in high boots and muddy clothes
to crank a flowgate and scan the banks
where you squat like a cornered beaver,
count the clonking approach of his steps
until they halt at the lip of your perch,
manage a casual “howdy”,
clambering up the bank so he won't seem
ten feet tall, and attend his words
raspy from the smoke of a cigar
clenched in his bad teeth as he eyes
your shoestrings lolling like snakes in sunlight:
"Now looky—that won't do!"



Darrell Petska's poetry has appeared in Verse-Virtual, Chiron Review, Star 82 Review, Muddy River Poetry Review and widely elsewhere (see conservancies.wordpress.com). Darrell has tallied 30+ years as university editor, 40 years as a dad (six years as grandpa), and a half century as a husband. He's a Wisconsinite. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

unsettled minds by J.J. Campbell

tossing and turning

unsettled minds
never sleep well

of course, there's a
woman involved

and an amazing
tattoo and quite
the ass

i'm sure this will
end in misery

for one of us



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know better. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Synchronized Chaos, The Beatnik Cowboy, Ink Pantry, Horror Sleaze Trash and The Dope Fiend Daily. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

the damn vixen by J.J. Campbell

she saunters into
my dreams like
the damn vixen
she is

tells me what to
do and i comply

she tastes like
warm sunshine
on a perfect day

one day i hope
i will actually
get to know
for sure



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know better. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Synchronized Chaos, The Beatnik Cowboy, Ink Pantry, Horror Sleaze Trash and The Dope Fiend Daily. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Video Cassettes by Robert Demaree

Emptying the particle-board cabinet
That housed our prehistoric VCR:
VHS cassettes of high school commencements,
Grainy wedding receptions,
Caroline in Oklahoma!, 1986,
Vouchsafed to us in sacred trust,
Even without a means
To live those hours again.
We could, I suppose, have them
Put on DVD,
Assuming there will be a means
To live those hours again.
If not, who will ever know
What her children looked like,
Crawling on the floor,
In New Castle, Delaware,
In 1999.



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, February 2, 2019

Reserved Reading by Robert Demaree

          for Harry Brown

The professor is downsizing, a juncture
He had known would come,
And so he passes on folders of readings,
Articles xeroxed, underlined, annotated, stapled—
Whitman, Dickinson, Cummings, Frost—
To a friend who fancies himself a poet.
And here are the names of
Bill Keith and Allison Jacobs,
Who availed themselves of
The reserved shelf
In the college library one afternoon
In 1988.
They may have found life to be a paragraph,
Roads taken or not.
They will not know
They have wound up in my files.

My friend says I can discard the folders
But I will not do that.
One day someone will find his name
And Bill’s and Allison’s
In my papers, articles of trust, the tenuous thread
Linking us together,
Through Whitman, Dickinson, Cummings and Frost,
Back to Homer, whose wandering hero
Gave us that sense
Of a search for home.



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, January 29, 2019

Backroads by Sarah Russell

A mosaic of grime blurs the view
through the only window left whole
on this homestead, abandoned to vermin
and weeds grown leggy through the floor.
The fields beyond cast an impressionist's haze --
matte pastels of wheat, barley, sky. In the bedroom,
I find a rag doll missing an arm. I cradle her,
feel the ache of mule-pulled plows,
drought-bleached days.



Sarah Russell has poems in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, and Psaltery and Lyre, where she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collection, I lost summer somewhere will be published in May by Kelsay Press. She blogs at
https://SarahRussellPoetry.net

Monday, January 28, 2019

Ephemera by Sarah Russell

I sit at the water's edge,
draw circles in the sand.

It was almost too civil. Last night
we walked down the beach
to the crab shack,
tied bibs around our necks,
and over a bucket of clams and corn
decided who got what.

Circles, short-lived in the tide,
my wedding ring in the dresser drawer.



Sarah Russell has poems in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, and Psaltery and Lyre, where she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collection, I lost summer somewhere will be published in May by Kelsay Press. She blogs at
https://SarahRussellPoetry.net

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Mornings, after breakfast by Sarah Russell

Mother hangs her tea bags on the door,
winds the strings around the knob. Drips,
like paw prints, stain the old wood floor.
I don’t know why she does it. She never
uses them again. After her tea she gets
the big pot and scrubs vegetables for soup.
Her knife is rhythmic against the cutting board,
her felt slippers scuffing from counter to stove
and back again. I see her mouth move sometimes
as she sways, mincing, mincing her life.



Sarah Russell has poems in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, and Psaltery and Lyre, where she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her collection, I lost summer somewhere will be published in May by Kelsay Press. She blogs at https://SarahRussellPoetry.net

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Where the wetlands were by Don Thompson

They’ve put down the baskets woven
to hold burdensome years
and learned at last not to worry
about gathering roots and acorns.

No hunger or thirst keeps them here,
but they stay close to implicit water—
an old habit that outlives flesh.
I’ve been watching: Yokut women,

not much more than shimmer,
a presence no one would notice
if not for their Tule reed skirts
swaying in the hot, windless air.



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, January 15, 2019

"The central Texas..." by Bob Carlton

The central Texas

hills disappear

under develop-
ment to become nothing more

than roof
pitch and elevation



Bob Carlton (www.bobcarlton3.weebly.com) lives and works in Leander, TX.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

"What Do You Want, You Naughty Boy?" by Ace Boggess

          —subject line of spam e-mail

as body bends a next line forms
tongued into existence

one I must interpret
landing songbirds on our lips

let them sing the happy consonance of ‘p’
the whiplash accident of ‘k’

shush us with ellipses
drag those jagged exclamations down our backs

I want a literary afterglow
to burn our fingers on a block of ice

to misinfer: I want us to announce ourselves
with hard breaks enjambing quiet

we will leave it to readers to determine
how our feet were tangled in our clothes



Ace Boggess is author of three books of poetry, most recently Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road, 2017), and the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea, 2016). His poems have appeared in River Styx, Harvard Review, Rhino, North Dakota Quarterly, and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Sitting by Matthew Borczon

in
the
waiting
room
I
don't
ask
my
dad
about
his
cancer
and
he
doesn't
ask
me
about
the
war. 



Matthew Borczon just published his 9th book of poetry, This Many Years After the War, which is available through Cajun Mutt Press. He has published widely in the small press and continues to serve in the US Navy reserve. He is the father of 4 children and works as a nurse to adults with developmental disabilities. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

September 2010 by Matthew Borczon

On
the
plane
into
Afghanistan
we
all
pretend
we
are
only
afraid
of
flying.



Matthew Borczon just published his 9th book of poetry, This Many Years After the War, which is available through Cajun Mutt Press. He has published widely in the small press and continues to serve in the US Navy reserve. He is the father of 4 children and works as a nurse to adults with developmental disabilities.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Summer in Starkville, MS by Matthew Johnson

During Mississippi summers,
The state swelters in the haze of an eternal sun.

No one sits out on the levee to moan;
The residents wax nostalgic of the Great Floods.
The shadows of the clouds are hot, and waterless;
The sun rises, and the animals flee to the river.

The catfish bubble and boil
In shriveling swamp water;
The fading magnolias slump to the ground,
Begging for the refuge of rain 𑁋

Despite July chasing away the folk until sundown,
You’d still see teenage boys
On the practice fields and vacant lawns,
Trying to catch the ghost of Jerry Rice.



Matthew Johnson's poetry has appeared in The Roanoke Review, Maudlin House and elsewhere. He is a Best of the Net Nominee (2017) and his debut collection is scheduled to be released in June by Kelsay Books. You can find him on Twitter at:
https://twitter.com/Matt_Johnson_D.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

12.29.18 / 8.19 a.m. / 50 degrees (Yes. 50. That is "not" a typo) by John L. Stanizzi

Plodding, low-slung clouds dull the pond’s reflection,
onerous and dense, they lay their shadows over the canopy of the hills;
nameless chickadees (which I’d name if could) outnumber the sparrows,
dawdling and silent this spring morn…winter morning.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, and Four Bits. His poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. His latest collection, Chants, will be out in 2019 with Cervena Barva.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

12.28.18 / 9.25 a.m. / 43 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Pinpricks of easy rain like a negative of the stars,
orbiting what fragments of ice remain, and on a
naked branch nearby a crow rattles its castanets, flashing the
drear morning with gypsy sparks of sound.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, and Four Bits. His poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. His latest collection, Chants, will be out in 2019 with Cervena Barva. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Over coffee she asked me by Rose Mary Boehm

          for Jean Charity, March 2012

She’d just had the verdict:
a huge shadow on both lungs.
They’re not sure whether it’s
the old one or a new one or
whether it’s one at all.

She said they have difficulties
taking out enough with their needles
to make that damned analysis.

They probably have to cut her
breastbone. Or was it breaking
her ribs. So we had coffee.
Sinful, black and strong. The sort
that makes your heart quake.

It may just be a shadow
strategically placed.
It took me by surprise,
her question:
What would I want
to be remembered for.



A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and three poetry collections, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Ending by Steve Klepetar

Cold sunlight blazes down onto snow.
Already night approaches.
The old sun is busy dying in the sky,
leaning toward the west.
Crows skim above their shadows
on the frozen lawn,
and now they leap into the air
above the pines like black puffs of smoke.
I stand at the door in my blue coat,
watching as they disappear into the woods
behind the pond, grateful for their visit,
for the mystery of black wings in the bright cold.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Klepetar is the author of fourteen poetry collections, the most recent of which are A Landscape in Hell (Woodhaven Press) and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Weight of Dried Beans by M.J. Iuppa

Pintos, cranberry, black
bean pods hang straight
& long— their sundried

rattle startles me when I
snip them off vines, three
at a time, and let them

drop into my shirt-turned-
apron that fills to overfull,
forcing me to teeter back

to the start of the row where
I left my mesh bag hanging
on a pole, ready to contain

these quick fingers, pointing
every which way out.



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.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Free to Go by M.J. Iuppa

          Let us forget with generosity those who cannot love us.
          - Pablo Neruda

Evening shadows pool
beneath apple trees, settling

above ruts full of snow-
melt & fallen leaves

that float like sparrow
wings, slicing the sky's

echo in two. A bald
moon stares deeply at us,

watching us slip in
and out of the kitchen

with dinner plates and bits
of conversation that sputter

like a candle flickering on
the sill, like the whistle of

the kettle, like shadows making
their way no further than this

sudden squall of snow.



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.