Monday, December 5, 2022

Partners by Penelope Moffet

Two wide-mouthed mugs
the color of coffee lightened with cream,
shaped to welcome cappuccino or latte,
purchased years ago from their maker,
Mary Swann. Her loopy signature
sprawls across their undersides,
these wide-hipped mugs
I bought to share
with my next love
late Sunday mornings.
Then he didn’t like coffee.
The mugs nest in the cupboard
face-down until in early morning dark
I pull one out for espresso, nutcream
frothed and steamed and sprinkled with cinnamon
the same orange-brown as the clay.
Each has a tiny chip on its lip.
They sleep together
all night long.



Penelope Moffet is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Cauldron of Hisses (Arroyo Seco Press, 2022). Her poems have been published in The Missouri Review, One by Jacar Press, Natural Bridge, Permafrost, Gleam, Rise Up Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Gyroscope and other literary journals.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Over the River and Through the Woods by Russell Rowland

No, Grandmother’s house isn’t there anymore,
nor Grandmother, nor much of the woods.

Nor us seated together. On Facebook
we reminisce about her steamy windows, gold
with light from within, as the bird
and its accoutrements emerged from the oven.

Her apron, how we do remember that apron,
the little smile reminding us to fold
our hands, bow our heads, before digging in.

One day of the year, we felt wholesomeness,
and wondered whether “everything
is going to be all right” was perhaps less
the empty assurance time had made it seem.

And, of course, we went home with leftovers.

I was the one who lived near enough
to touch Grandmother’s cheek in the hospital,
and say thanks for all of us. Her face
softened, that day she finished breathing.



Russell Rowland continues trail maintenance on behalf of the Lakes Region (NH) Conservation Trust. His next poetry book, Magnificat, is due out in April (Encircle Publications).

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Covenant by Brandon McQuade

When I look up
I see a doe edging closer

in the early evening fog,
stopping at the bend in the trail

where we have stopped
to have our pictures taken.

When I look up again
over the camera lens

our eyes lock, as if
we’ve made a pact

to endure the remote stillness
of this moment, to welcome

the countless lives
we are both destined to live.



Brandon McQuade is an award-winning poet and founding editor of Duck Head Journal. He is the author of two poetry collections, Mango Seed and Bodies, for which he was awarded the 2022 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award. He lives in Northern Wyoming with his wife and their children.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

January by Brandon McQuade

Snow settles calmly on the handrail.
School is cancelled again,
and down the street another car
has drifted into the ditch.

Snow has no remorse, it just is.
Like a steel trap sinking its teeth
into the hind leg of some unsuspecting prey,
it has no hunger or motive. It does not want.

There’s something soothing about snow,
when it falls like this, when it lays down
like a wet pelt over the earth’s welcoming lap.

When it’s almost as if wind has never existed,
and the world has never known
such quiet.



Brandon McQuade is an award-winning poet and founding editor of Duck Head Journal. He is the author of two poetry collections, Mango Seed and Bodies, for which he was awarded the 2022 Neltje Blanchan Memorial Writing Award. He lives in Northern Wyoming with his wife and their children

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Holding On by Jack Powers

A couple in their nineties announce they're getting divorced. Why now?
they're asked. We wanted to wait until the children had died. If children
follow romance, what follows children? I study old neighbors for clues.

Sally sits on our stonewall when her hip acts up on walks. Her husband, Phil,
sits beside her and lets her do the talking. What's your name again? she asks me.
They hold hands like seventh graders. Our children are all grown and gone.

Gil and Cindy sit outside when it's warm. He talks openly about her dementia.
When it's cold, she sneaks out of the house and walks. She doesn't go far,
Gil says. I keep an eye on her from the window. She says she's going home.

The Porters kept the house like a museum of knickknacks and photographs.
It smelled like 1962, the year Ben coached the football team to the State title.
He drove the old pick-up. Liz made lunch. She died three days after Ben.

Each anniversary, a couple in their nineties sky dives using one chute.
Asked the secret of their longevity, they said, Make sure you go together.



Jack Powers is the author of Everybody's Vaguely Familiar and Still Love. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. Jack won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. Visit his website at http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Surrender by Jack Powers

The river was higher than when we'd forded in the fall, but it was late
and this wide bend in the Housatonic was still the shallowest spot.

So we re-cinched our tents and bags, strapped on our packs
and, under a cloud-shrouded moon, began crossing–Guy first, then Tom
and Sarah, me at the rear for clean-up.

                                                                At sixteen, camping had become
the only time I wasn't fighting to make my life my own. Guy crossed
like a summer stroller, but the lovebirds wobbled. Keep your head down,

I shouted above the river's roar. Test each step. They screamed at the current.
Be the river, I yelled. They laughed, slowed, clasped hands, alternated steps.
I walked in a low stance, spotting with arms held wide.

                                                                                            Sarah then Tom
climbed up the opposite bank with a Whoop! and a Yes! I relaxed and looked up
as the moon broke free of the clouds and laid a rippling sword of reflection

right down the river into my gut. With an Oof, I fell back, floating, surrendering
to the current, a contented speck of the quick river, white moon, black night.



Jack Powers is the author of Everybody's Vaguely Familiar and Still Love. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, and elsewhere. Jack won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. Visit his website at http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

By your bedside by A.R. Williams

You lay in the hospital bed 
with breath heavy as iron,

a face frozen like a retired
pocket watch, and limbs

as numb as the prayers
uttered at your side.



A.R. Williams is a poet from Virginia, USA, and has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, Briefly Zine, Fevers of the Mind, Ink, Sweat & Tears, among many others. He is also the editor of East Ridge Review and can be found on twitter @andrewraywill.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

And That Rain Again by Lorraine Caputo

Misting fog sinks
            into this valley, masking
            the hills, the lanes,

            the sleeping homes 

Masking the fireworks splaying 

            from the Holy Hill 

 

                        3:33 a.m. I am awakened 

                        by the desperate scurries 

                        of a kitten lost 

                        in the maze of my ceiling 

 

Before dawn, through the fog 

            of my dreams, 

            I hear the coos 

            of nesting doves 

Somewhere there a rooster crows 

            & there … & over there 

 

                        Mother wails 

                        for her lost kitten … 

                        … she answers back  

 

& the rain again … 

            again the rain falls … 




Poet-translator Lorraine Caputo’s works appear in over 400 journals on six continents; and 23 collections of poetry – including On Gal├ípagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She is thrice nominated for the Best of the Net Prize. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Rescue by Martha Christina

1.
I capture the insect
in a paper cup, carry it
to my biologist friend
for identification. A true
bug,
he laughs. Harmless.

He died that summer
researching in a remote
location. No one could
reach him in time
to save him.

2.
Today’s harmless
true bug
crawls up
and down my kitchen
window, carrying loss
in its folded wings.

I capture it in a paper cup,
carry it to the porch railing,
where it sits for a moment as if
reassessing its surroundings,
its chances, then opens its wings.



Martha Christina has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). Her work appears in earlier issues of Red Eft Review, and recently in Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Journal’s Pollinator Project. Born and raised in Indiana, she now lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Same by Martha Christina

When asked “How’s your
mother?” by those who’d
known her before her
illness, when she was
lovely and lovable. I
learned to say “the
same.” But that was
not to say she was
as she’d been before her
illness, not my father’s
lovely wife, not my
lovable mother. I meant
she was the only way
I knew her: completely
changed; that same.



Martha Christina has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). Her work appears in earlier issues of Red Eft Review, and recently in Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Journal’s Pollinator Project. Born and raised in Indiana, she now lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Parting Ways by Martha Christina

My grandfather planted
and harvested according
to what he learned from
his father, then in turn tried
to teach my father the same.

My father believed
his father could tell him
nothing he needed to know.

And so, they parted ways,

an old-fashioned saying,
full of wisdom, and loss.



Martha Christina has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). Her work appears in earlier issues of Red Eft Review, and recently in Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Journal’s Pollinator Project. Born and raised in Indiana, she now lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Valley of the Sun by Rosalie Hendon

Take Adams, it’s nicer
Julio tells us, driving us from the airport.
They’re supposed to finish all this before the Super Bowl.
He shakes his head.
The traffic cones wink jauntily.
Holes gape in the pavement,
city’s veins exposed to air.

At least the buildings cast shadow.
Palo verdes line the street,
green branches scarred and smooth.
Tiny thorns hide in the feathery leaves.

Those thorns bite, we learn
in the dry arroyos of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve.
Stucco walls and wrought iron fencing
block our way to the street.
A man is cleaning the pool.
He doesn’t see me, waving.
Later I see him drive away in his pickup,
the handle of the pool strainer sticking out the back.

Every year tourists die hiking Camelback,
Abbie warns me.
What time are you hiking?
Bring a lot of water.
Salted peanuts.
It’s snake season.
Watch your feet.
Don’t step on a cactus.
The teddy bear chollas shed pieces of themselves,
scattered along the path.
My coworkers imagine them,
pew pew, shooting out their barbs
like it’s a video game.

A German family was hiking,
another Uber driver tells us.
Did they all die? Tina asks.
No, just the mom. They were all disoriented.
The husband and son left her to get help.
She wandered off, looking for shade.
It was a while before they found her.
She was dead when they did.
Who leaves their wife behind?
Their mom?
he asks.
We don’t answer.



Rosalie Hendon is an environmental planner living in Columbus, Ohio. She started a virtual poetry group in 2020 during quarantine that has collectively written over 200 poems. Her work is published in Change Seven, Planisphere Q, Call Me [Brackets], Entropy, Pollux, Superpresent, Cactifur, and Fleas on the Dog.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Ringo by Rosalie Hendon

“You better get up,” my brother warns,
“You’re on his level now.”

Ringo paws, sneezes, wedges his head under me.
His doleful eyes entreat--
centuries of artificial selection
making him irresistible.
Big-eyed fur baby to coddle
and dress in Christmas sweaters.

My brother has fallen sway,
latest convert to Ringo’s cult of personality.
He takes him on long walks,
lets him ride shotgun,
carries him over thickets of thorns.

But here I am, scratching behind his ears,
smoothing the velvety fur on his head,
enthralled by those beseeching brown eyes.

Americans spend enough on their pets’ birthdays,
I once read,
to end world hunger.



Rosalie Hendon is an environmental planner living in Columbus, Ohio. She started a virtual poetry group in 2020 during quarantine that has collectively written over 200 poems. Her work is published in Change Seven, Planisphere Q, Call Me [Brackets], Entropy, Pollux, Superpresent, Cactifur, and Fleas on the Dog.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Am I Real? by Doug Holder

sometimes
i wonder.
i feel
like the mist
a transitory ghost
that dissipates
into the ether
a trail of vaporous
cigarette smoke
i feel
like an empty
glass
among cups that
runneth over
when the clouds
roll in
i want to join them
i want to billow
far above
and far away.



Doug Holder (he) is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press and the Co-President of the New England Poetry Club.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Twigs and Trinkets by Laurie Kuntz

When you were a child,
every remnant of a stick,
a lost button, a flattened penny,
that random feather in the grass
was a gift from the fairy godmother,
who knew our every step, our planned journeys
to the market, movie, or park,
ball and bat in hand, this was magic,
not the disappearing kind, but the magic
of what can be rescued from under a tree,
in a sidewalk crack, or from a trinket
left on a wooden park bench.
Random gifts, fallen plum blossoms,
bestowed by wind and neglect,
then discovered like a shuffled card
from a deck of tricks,
leaving you in awe of all that is offered.



Laurie Kuntz's fifth poetry collection, Talking Me Off the Roof, is published by Kelsay Books. Her other poetry books are available from Finishing Line Press, Texas Review Press, and Amazon. She has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net Prize. Visit her at: https://lauriekuntz.myportfolio.com/

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Looking for a Happy Ending by Margaret Duda

Jack and Rose, madly in love,
are up to their necks in freezing water
after the Titanic hits an iceberg
and sinks on the TV screen
in our daughter’s guest room.

We hold onto each other
like life rafts during six weeks
of drug trials two hours away.
On the nights I stay, you insist
we watch the Titanic together,
memorizing meaningful lines.

Open your eyes.
I’ve got everything I need
right here with me.
When the ship docks,
I am getting off with you.
Do not let go of my hand.
I will never let go.


Did you hope that if we watched
it over and over again, the Coast Guard
would rescue Jack too and doctors
would find a cure for your cancer
and neither Rose nor I would
end up weeping in sorrow?

But life and movies don’t always
have happy endings, as we discovered.
In the freezing water, Jack helps Rose
onto a wooden plank for one
and hangs on as long as he can,
but finally dies of hypothermia.
Rose is saved by a returning lifeboat,
then rescued by the steamship Carpathia.
You die in your own bed at home,
leaving me to sail on alone
on our own ship of dreams.



Margaret Duda is a poet, short story writer (one made the distinguished list of Best American Short Stories), author of five non-fiction books, and is on the final draft of an immigrant family saga novel. She also traveled to forty countries and sold travel photographs to the New York Times for 10 years. She will have a book of poetry published by Kelsay Press next spring entitled I Come from Immigrants. The poem above is from that book.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Saying Goodbye to Bobby by Sharon Waller Knutson

Vultures feast on a coyote
carcass as we caravan
along the Superstition Highway
from Queen Valley to Superior
like we did for decades
with Bobby, the leader
of the band, to eat
Chimichangas and bean
burritos at Los Hermanos
and drink beer and play gigs
at Porters, Bobby’s growly deep voice
booming louder than a microphone
when he sang “Sixteen Tons” and “Lodi”
for six decades, now silenced.

Those of us who outlive our legend
inhale the crisp mountain air
as we stop along the side of the road
and climb the hill to the top of the tunnel
between Superior and Globe to honor
his last wishes. I see Bobby in his wool
Long Johns straddling a cloud canoe
in the blue sea sky on Top of the World,
his mouth making music as he strums
an acoustic guitar. Wanda with wings
flies beside him playing the bass
with Gene in his goatee playing the dobro
as he floats on his back next to Bobby.
As Bobby’s blue eyes peer over his bushy
beard, his straw cowboy hat he had worn
at every gig is whipped by the wind
and boomerangs down the cavern,
followed by his ashes swirling like smoke.
And we look up into the sky and Bobby is gone.



Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published nine poetry books, including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014), What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials and Tribulations of Sports Bob (Kelsay Books 2021), and Survivors, Saints, and Sinners and Kiddos and Mamas Do the Darndest Things (Cyberwit 2022). Her work has also appeared recently in Discretionary Love, Impspired, GAS Poetry, Art and Music, The Rye Whiskey Review, Black Coffee Review, Lothlorien Review, Silver Birch Press, Trouvaille Review, ONE ART, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, The Muddy River Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review, and The Five-Two.

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Things I Keep from My Wife by Jean Ryan

That small scratch in our new car, at least until she notices.

Broken egg yolks. I give her the perfect yellow rounds, the slightly bigger shrimp, the cookie with more chocolate chips. I am nothing if not vigilant.

News of animals, their misfortunes. Hopefully she has not seen these stories. I wouldn't know.

Worry about her health, especially her asthma. My anxiety will not help her breathe.

Worry about my own health. The little things. My body is my job, not hers.

Silly, daily mistakes I make. Which might, at this age, cause her concern.

My sullied childhood. This is what therapists are for, to hear the words that must be said to those who will not be gutted.

Behavior I regret, the pages of our book I want to rip out. Admission is not absolution. Instead of soiling her with these images, I offer myself now, the improved version, the best I can muster. So far.



Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in coastal Alabama and believes that retirement is highly underrated. She has published four books, and her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. https://jean-ryan.com/

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

On Sunday Morning by Jean Ryan

New to this muggy sprawl of bayous and billboards,
I keep forgetting the rules.
I pop into the store for some milk, bread, cheese,
then grab a bottle of wine on my way out—
an afterthought really, I’m innocent as a cookie.
But the cashier seizes my bottle,
looks at me as if I tossed a puppy
into traffic, and tells me again
that she cannot sell alcohol on Sundays
“Till ONE PM.”
Never mind that I don’t believe
in clock-watching deities,
or in deities at all,
unless you count butterflies,
and the northern lights,
and redwood trees.
This is God’s country,
where you can buy a gun
but not a beer
on Sunday morning.



Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in coastal Alabama and believes that retirement is highly underrated. She has published four books, and her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. https://jean-ryan.com/

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Louisiana Songs by Robert Demaree

1. Don’s House

He lives alone now
In the house they planned together,
In a neighborhood not meant for single men.
The living room is bare:
She took the loveseat, the coffee table,
Its off-white finish distressed at the factory.
They say she likes antiques now.
She did leave him the microwave.
His hands tremble, more than I’d remembered,
As he vacuums the sculpted carpet:
It is subdivider’s blue, embarrassed,
Dingier than he can see,
Less elegant than she had hoped.

In the back bedroom, where I stay,
He keeps his daughter’s bed made;
Her pictures line the wall, one for each year.
Our girls, our wives were friends then,
When we lived here, a part of our life ago.
The intercom is dented, paint chipped,
And does not work.

I drive along Veterans Boulevard,
Past new tanning salons and small loan companies.
The pizza place we used to go, the six of us,
Is now a bar. Signs say habla espa├▒ol
But in all Metairie looks much the same,
A blemished younger sister
In expensive clothes that do not fit,
Sullen, beside an aging beauty queen.
A square glass bank occupies the lot
Where Don and I used to buy our Christmas trees.

2. Storm in the Gulf


People are at Home Depot
Buying the ritual plywood and masking tape,
The sky a balmy gray, with yellow and purple
Like a bruised thigh,
That sharp aroma of ozone:
In Louisiana you can smell a hurricane
Coming. It is September 1970.
Outlanders recently arrived,
We are off to a high school game
Down that fragile finger of land
Built by the river, imperiled by the Gulf,
Aluminum bleachers at the end of the earth.
It is homecoming night.
The effigy of one of our boys
Dangles from an oak amid the moss
(You can guess why).
At the restaurant
Parish deputies in hip boots
Urge us to head back north.

The storm veered to the west,
Struck a glancing blow.
Others were to be less kind,
But we would be gone from that place.

3. April 1998


Louisiana some years later:
Soft blue days,
Places and people one never really left,
Prescient of familiar phrases,
The plantation around the next bend
On the River Road.
Tour buses tromp through galleried halls
Built by absentee sugar barons,
Now owned by Australians.
In the French Quarter,
More psychics, fewer artists.
We drive by the houses
Where our girls were children,
Remembered restaurants gone.
Louisiana, its vulnerable beauty
Intact within layers of memory
Not so deep as one had thought,
Called up by mornings redolent of coffee,
Sweet olive, the river, unseen behind the levee.
Those were good years, he had said,
Maybe the best.



Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.