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).

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

So little by Ben Rasnic

So little

I depend on;
the cry
of a freight train,
its faint echo

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 1, 2017

Voyage by Trivarna Hariharan

spring falls

a crumbling town,

who can
tell a leaf from its


Trivarna Hariharan is an undergraduate student of English Literature from India. She has authored The Necessity of Geography (Flutter Press), Home and Other Places (Nivasini Publishers), and Letters I Never Sent (Writers Workshop, Kolkata). Her poems appear or are forthcoming from Alexandria Quarterly, Allegro, Birds Piled Loosely, Random Sample Review, Sweet Tree Review, Fourth & Sycamore, Vayavya, Open Road Review, TXTOBJX, Vayavya, Café Dissensus, Red Bird Chapbooks, The Sunflower Collective, Quail Bell, Eunoia Review and others. Besides writing, she learns the Electronic Keyboard, and has completed her 4th Grade in the instrument from Trinity College of Music, London.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Urban Flashback by Mark J. Mitchell

Like a penguin on the fire escape,
a sax man practices all
his open scales and secret riffs
the whole afternoon. His face
is dark and calm and his lungs
are steady. The tone’s firm.
By his third pass through
“Straight, No Chaser” there’s not one
happy soul left on the block.

Mark J. Mitchell’s latest novel, The Magic War just appeared from Loose Leaves Publishing. He studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver and George Hitchcock. His work has appeared in the several anthologies and hundreds of periodicals. Three of his chapbooks— Three Visitors, Lent, 1999, and Artifacts and Relics—and the novel, Knight Prisoner are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He lives with his wife Joan Juster and makes a living pointing out pretty things in San Francisco.

Friday, May 19, 2017

"So, When Do You Want to Die?" by Ace Boggess

          —question asked by David Ishaya Osu          

It will be a Saturday,
yesno one must
miss work for grieving.

Sometime in the evening
so my last day
wasn’t wasted resting.

An old song—one
that’s not yet written—plays
on the radio (satellite,
Bluetooth, YouTube)
already calling up nostalgia

for the long-ago
I’m waiting to experience
as I contemplate
this doom prophecy of self

like watching some giddy,
glowing orange kite
sky-dancing, bobbing,

right before it’s
shot down by a drone.

Ace Boggess is author of the novel A Song Without a Melody (Hyperborea Publishing, 2016) and two books of poetry, most recently, The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014). Forthcoming is a third poetry collection: Ultra Deep Field (Brick Road). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, RATTLE, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly and many other journals. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Race by Ronald Moran

How many more IV's, pictures, or how much
blood drawn from my thin-skinned arms before
                         they decide

the time I have left according to their rock-
results, printed out as if I were a stock car

and they're counting the runs I have left
                         on the track
before I'm dropped by sponsors, big guys
                         with money.

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.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Samsara by Janette Schafer

I knelt with my spade
atop the hard gray paving stone,
mixing a spadesful of ashes
with muddy earth and Mexican sunflowers.

I carried dust in my pocket
as I crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge
and opened the plastic bottle watching
as thin streams of gray
joined the Monongahela.

I stirred the charcoal powder
into the gravel of the chiminea,
covering you with cedar logs
before warming us both with fire.

I stood on the Mt. Washington overlook
as the wind swept you
from my outstretched hands,
then I kissed the last of you
from my blackened fingertips.

Janette Schafer is a playwright, poet, and opera singer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship in writing through Chatham University and a 2015 awardee of the Arts MODE Fellowship through New Sun Rising LLC for playwriting and experimental theater. Recent and upcoming publications appear in Zany Zygote Review; Eyedrum Periodically; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres; The Woman, Inc.; B. E. Literary Journal; Big Lit International Writing Festival; and Chatham University broadsides.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weathering by M.J. Iuppa

Seeing the empty swing, hanging from the black
willow’s thickest branch, I want to test its seat, I

want to steady myself on its warped wood & fly
out over the pond that rents the sky. I want

to lean all the way back, face up to sunlight
that seems to be caught in leafy-green

braids that sway, back, and forth, like curtain
call— this is it —I feel it in the pit of

my stomach, this memory of
feat, of encore, of swinging

into vast darkness.

M.J. Iuppa ‘s third full length poetry collection Small Worlds Floating was published by Cherry Grove Collections in July, 2016. For the past 28 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Air Strikes by Mark Danowsky

I get up to the news
set down my phone
feed my dog
make coffee
check email
a checklist I've developed
that takes hours
breaking for dog walks
opening the fridge
for no reason
about productivity
why I'm not
getting to the DO IT LATER
half of my steno pad
dreams I have
to pursue if I choose

Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in About Place, Cordite, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, Third Wednesday and elsewhere. Mark is originally from Philadelphia, but lives in West Virginia. He is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Founder of the poetry coaching and editing service VRS CRFT.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

vagrant by Robert T. Krantz

these boxcar doors slide
open with great clamors
of fear and trembling
shake our cups
spilling brown coffee onto pine pallets—
we dream generous portions
of flaked biscuits and gravy
at the diner in the town up ahead
Baxter smiles when the first purple light
peaks over the northern plain
just in case

Robert T. Krantz is a poet working out of Michigan. He studied creative writing and English Literature at both Niagara County Community College, NY and the University of Akron, Ohio. Robert published a chapbook of poetry and prose entitled Leg Brace Legato (2013) which earned him admittance into the University of Arkansas-Monticello's MFA program for Poetry. His second chapbook, Gargoyle, was published in 2015. In 2016, Bitterzoet Press published two chapbooks of Robert's work (Hansel & Plus 4) and his poetry has appeared in Gargoyle, Hoot, Watershed Review, Wilderness House Literary Review and others.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Late and Dark by Martha Christina

The cat's in
his usual place,
stretched out
against my
outstretched legs.

The bedside clock
reads 3:00 a.m.;
what's that to him
in his reckoning
of time?

Dark? He can
easily see
me, sitting up,
face buried in my hands.

Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears or is forthcoming in Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, and earlier postings of Red Eft Review. Her second collection, Against Detachment, was published by Pecan Grove Press in April 2016

Monday, April 17, 2017

At the Arboretum by Martha Christina

Sun breaks through
heavy cloud cover,
shines like a spotlight
on her memorial tree.

Still a sapling;
my hand can
encircle its trunk,
slender as her wrist.

* * *
Our hands
paramedics busy.

* * *
White blossoms,
touch my face.

Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears or is forthcoming in Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, and earlier postings of Red Eft Review. Her second collection, Against Detachment, was published by Pecan Grove Press in April 2016.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Students' Wheelbarrows by Tyler Sheldon

          after B.C. and W.C.W.

One by one they trickle to their seats.
They expect another day of scribbling
in their notebooks what they’re only
pretending to think, but I tell them,
it is finally time to have our talk
about poetry.

I tell them, look here at how Williams breaks
his lines, so unlike Shakespeare, and one,
her hand above the sea of heads, says
they’re wheelbarrows. You can lift
these lines and even pivot, if you wish.
She drops her hand and just like that the silence

Another stands to speak: white, he says,
means purity. For the rest, so much depends
upon these words. All they want to do
is tie chickens to that color
so they won’t escape.

When they finally trickle out, talk shifts
back to other things. A few leave
with pens in hand. I turn off the lights.
Beyond our classroom, the trees
are glazed with rain.

Tyler Sheldon is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and MFA candidate at McNeese State University. His work has appeared throughout the US and Canada, such as in Quiddity International Literary Journal, The Dos Passos Review, The Prairie Journal, and others. His chapbooks include First Breaths of Arrival (Oil Hill Press, 2016), and Traumas, forthcoming from Yellow Flag Press.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Another one by Matthew Borczon

He had
rounds of
5 illegal
guns and
a list
of enemies
but in
the end
the soldier
only shot

Matthew Borczon is the author of two books of poetry: A Clock of Human Bones from Yellow Chair Review and Battle Lines from Epic Rites Press. His third book Ghost Train will be out in June from Weasel Press. He is a nurse and Navy sailor in Erie, Pa.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

I shouldn't watch the news by Matthew Borczon

After a
full of
the dead
of Afghanistan
carrying the
dead children
of Syria
I wake up
to carry
my 8 yr
old up
the stairs
to bed
fighting back
the urge
to wake her
just because
I can.

Matthew Borczon is the author of two books of poetry: A Clock of Human Bones from Yellow Chair Review and Battle Lines from Epic Rites Press. His third book Ghost Train will be out in June from Weasel Press. He is a nurse and Navy sailor in Erie, Pa.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Senryu by Maureen Kingston

in the exurbs
cornfields exhale
walmart bags

Maureen Kingston’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Akitsu Quarterly, Blue Earth Review, B O D Y, Chrysanthemum, Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, Haibun Today, hedgerow, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Modern Poetry Review, moongarlic E-zine, Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu & Kyoka, and Red Paint Hill.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Baiting the Hook by Ben Rasnic

Coming to terms
with that last offering
from a crushed pack
of Salems
now snuffed
down to the filter,
you sift frantically
through the overfilled ashtray
for something to light
because the lure
of vodka & tonic
still wavers enticingly
from the shallow bottom
of your crystal cocktail glass.

Ben Rasnic finds sanctuary in a quiet Bowie, Maryland subdivision where the only sounds at night are crickets and the lonesome wail of a passing Norfolk Southern freight train.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Opposite of Love by Jessica Siobhan Frank

I’d prefer apathy to his blatant
hatred of the woman
he’s falling out of love with.

She hollers and he responds.
I have to watch.

I hold him up,
my body is his backboard
my affections keep him from falling,
but I ache for his attention
towards me, towards us,
the future he promised me,
the feverish words he used
when he was wooing me.
Let me take care of you.

I said he was wounded,
needed time to heal,
a year at least,
even if that meant we missed out
on each other. I loved him that much.
But his words were sure:
A year is arbitrary. I’ve found you now.
His convictions more solid than mine.

And now I’m here for him,
dressed in armor.
I know more about her
than he knows about me.
His anger for her his favorite
thing to talk about.
And I hate being right.

Jessica Siobhan Frank is an MFA candidate at McNeese State University. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter (online), Cliterature, Portage Magazine, and other publications. She currently lives in Louisiana, but is originally from the Chicago area.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Backseat World by Peter Dabbene

I learned about the world in the rear
seat of my parents' car. Not
the way you're thinking, you
dirty bird—age six or seven, feigning
sleep, eyes shut tight, but the insides
of my eyelids bright as we passed orange
glow streetlights.


"It's just not working out."

"The doctors say there's not much they can do."

"Can you believe what she said to me?"

They rarely listened
to music while driving and our world
was sealed, self-contained except
for the odd honk. If ears closed
as easily as eyes, would they?

The secret language
of adults made me glad
to be a kid and fearful
of the future; now,
in the car, there's always music.

Peter Dabbene’s poetry has been published in many literary journals, and collected in the photo book Optimism. He has published the graphic novels Ark and Robin Hood, the story collections Prime Movements and Glossolalia, and a novel, Mister Dreyfus' Demons. His latest books are Spamming the Spammers and More Spamming the Spammers. He writes a monthly column for the Hamilton Post newspaper. His website is