Friday, July 23, 2021

Summer Days by J.I. Kleinberg

There were always skippers on the ice plant,
a half-inch long, the color of butterscotch

and not very fast. We could pinch their wings
between thumb and index finger and liked

to feel the fluttering against our palms
as we held them in our cupped hands. Later

we smeared their golden dust on our cheeks.
We never thought they might be important:

they were like moths — a lower order of things,
not like real butterflies, or even dragonflies,

which we rarely saw, or fireflies, which
were probably only in books. There were lizards

too, small and brown and fast and when we tried
to catch them, we sometimes ended up

with just a tail between our fingers,
and sometimes saw one missing a tail

and tried to examine that place
that was wounded but not bloodied

and wondered if we could do that too,
leave behind some part that would grow back,

not yet understanding the scraped wings of the heart
or the oozing scars of love.



J.I. Kleinberg’s poems have been published in print and online journals worldwide. An artist, poet, freelance writer, and three-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA, and on Instagram @jikleinberg.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

One Room School by Kelley White

          --Canterbury Shaker Village, NH

I came here the day we buried Mother.
Silent. My face stiff and white. I took
my seat in the back row beside strangers
and tried to hide behind the taller boys.
I did not answer any teacher’s call.
But Sister Anne stayed after and made me
wash my face and hands, comb my hair,
lifted my chin and looked into my eyes.
You will live, dear. You will be loved.
You will learn. Yes, remember. But look—
there is the future. Your mother wished
for you to grow into the light.



Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Infirmary by Kelley White

          --Canterbury Shaker Village, NH

Somewhere else I might have been
a physician. Here I learn what I learn:
herbs, suturing, a bit of dentistry.
Bandaging. Balms. And care. I might have been
a nurse. Not a midwife. Here. And we are fortunate.
Rarely a plague as we live without
the world. Oh, we grow old.



Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

In the Nature of Things by Howie Good

A robin was pecking for something
under the cotton candy blue hydrangea

by our front steps. I stood looking out
the screen door, trying not to analyze

or philosophize, just simply observe.
The robin pecked one particular spot

with strange insistence – like a dark-
winged angel, I thought, excavating

the site of a future hell. Then the robin,
for its own inscrutable reasons, flew off.

Doesn’t mean they weren’t good reasons.



Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Heat Wave by Steve Klepetar

After heat, heavy rain.
Syrupy mud edges down
hill toward the pond,
as frogs serenade the wind.

The only thing darker
than water is the battered elm.

I am opening to the night
like a suitcase half empty
on a foreign bed.

The only thing I can think
of now is the road,
how it winds away,
flowing through the trees.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work appears regularly in Verse-Virtual. He is the author of fourteen poetry collections, including The Li Bo Poems and My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Hiking the Everglades by John Grey

Air any thicker and I’d be a page in a book.
And I only have to look at kudzu to feel it
crawling all over me.
A feral pig carcass pilots a floating island.
A ‘gator sunbakes by an abandoned fish-shack.
An egret is content to be singular.
But there is no one blackbird that wouldn’t rather be two.

The greenery looks so tired in this heat.
And yet it grows as quickly as tadpoles into frogs.
A clammy kind of growth that congeals instead of sprouting.
What sun it cannot use, it passes on to those passing below.
That’s why each step is exhausting.
And I feel more like a hired hand than a hiker.

But there’s a beauty here, a sensuous woman,
fleshy and sweating, her skin flush with tattoos.
Like the bald cypress rooted to her cheeks.
The mangrove mounds of her breasts.
A belly brown and mostly still.
A copperhead coiled inside her navel.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Penumbra, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, Leaves on Pages and Memory Outside the Head are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and Held.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Looking for a Fix by Ronald Moran

In the last year it became hard
for me to get through to myself,
as in, I kept saying I must stop
at a liquor store after a haircut,

when I knew I had a basketful
of Jim Beam in a kitchen cabinet,
or why I thought I had to find
a repair shop to fix the electronic

dance on the dashboard of my car,
when, like a miracle, it fixed itself.
Maybe because they said the scan
of my brain one year ago revealed

a void, and no doctor ever told
me what it meant or how to fix it,
so I began trying to fill my void,
whatever it is, howsoever I could.



Ronald Moran has published poems in a number of journals, including Tar River Poetry, The Lake, and The South Carolina Review. His last six books of poetry were published by Clemson University Press. He lives in Simpsonville, SC.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Pin Oak by Ronald Moran

In the year of mole mounds in my
patch of arthritic dirt, effete grass
and assorted twigs leftover from
what storm forecasters said would
render us useless in our aging

neighborhood, which, when it hit,
upset only the rueful forecasters
by its timidity, yet it made a point:
the regal shadows of the pin oak
on my property, on the north side

of my small yard in front, bullied
all efforts of my neighbor to grow
anything––grass, flowers, bushes­­––
in the yard in front of his house,
so I had this tall, majestic pin oak

removed, though my act of insolence
was officially condemned by a select
committee of our HOA vested with
the authority to deny/permit the sad
lot of us to change anything on site.



Ronald Moran has published poems in a number of journals, including Tar River Poetry, The Lake, and The South Carolina Review. His last six books of poetry were published by Clemson University Press. He lives in Simpsonville, SC.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Unfolding by Rose Mary Boehm

You say it’s alright.
I say not yet.

I think of another coffin. See a small shovel,
hear the sound of wet, loamy earth on wood.

I remember the kite he made for me. Balsa
and sandwich paper.
Greaseproof.
He taught me Morse code in the
shelter, held my hand when we were skating
on farmer Bauer’s pond.
Avoided me like the plague
when his friends were coming.

My big brother, before his wings
were tampered with, had flight on his mind.
Once there were blue horses on a far-away meadow
he would never reach.



Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press in 2020. Website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

Friday, July 2, 2021

In a small town - 1952 by Rose Mary Boehm

From my water-soluble paint kit,
I apply red to my lips, black to my eyebrows,
a burnt-out matchstick for eyeliner.

Sex is not something I know about,
but I feel the need for enhancement.

Mother likes my face just washed,
Father wants to lock me up at the slightest
hint that his little girl is going
to be a woman.

I walk past the corner shop
and under the sycamores
towards the tram. A little boy
points at me and looks up
at his mother. She shakes her head
in profound disapproval.



Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fourth poetry collection, The Rain Girl, was published by Chaffinch Press in 2020. Website: https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Newsboy by Joe Cottonwood

Carlos tosses my Mercury News
from the window of one bangedy car
after another with dead-eye aim
to my brick step year after year.

At Christmas I tip him.
Started with a twenty, now it’s a fifty
which come to think of it
follows his age.

I delivered the Washington Star
six decades previous
from a Radio Flyer wagon.
Saved up to buy a hatchet and a knife
with a sheaf I could wear on a belt.

I went to high school, college.
Wrote books, worked construction,
raised a family, lost the knife,
still have the hatchet.

Newspapers dying everywhere
but here comes Carlos with the sunrise.
You can hear that holey muffler
and when he’s gone, here’s what’s new
in the lingering smell
of blue exhaust.



Joe Cottonwood repairs homes for money and writes poems for reasons he can’t explain. He lives under redwood trees in La Honda, California dodging wildfires and playing with grandchildren. His most recent book of poetry is Random Saints.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Compartmentalize by Carolynn Kingyens

          You got to hear this. World's a hungry place.
          And the darkest things are the hungriest,
          and they'll eat what shines.


          - Stephen King, Doctor Sleep

I wish I could
compartmentalize
like the REDRUM boy
in Kubrick's film
The Shining,
who can lock away
his monsters
in all kinds
of impenetrable,
mental boxes
like the old hag
in Room 237.

Once I imagined you
locked away
in a soundproof room
still squawking
like some mute,
animated chicken:
head bobbing,
wing-arms flailing.

I laughed,
but it was
a nervous laugh.


When the therapist
mentioned enmeshment,
I'd envisioned
a spider web -
intricate as a lace doily
covering an entrance
of a doorway,
waiting for a hapless,
blissful bug
to buzz through
to its inevitable
entrapment:
its iridescent wings
frantically flailing
until the end.



Carolynn Kingyens’ debut book of poetry, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books), can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, McNally Jackson and a few more independent bookstores in NYC. In addition to poetry, she writes essays, book and film reviews, and flash and short fiction. Her latest short story, "Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie" can be read by clicking here. Carolynn resides in New York with her husband and two amazing daughters.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Constellations by Michael Estabrook

          Make the most of the time
          you have because
          you’ll never be here again.

Old man sitting on a bench in the soft sunlight anxiously waiting for his wife 
inside getting her physical therapy shoulder rehabilitation. He’s trying to 
write a poem about nothing in particular, watching the old ladies coming and 
going carrying their colorful yoga mats and exercise balls, hearing the faint 
whir of the building air-conditioners, feeling the breeze moving the hairs on 
his legs ever so slightly, the smell of fresh cut grass flinging him back 
decades to his summer job on the golf course watering the greens at night 
then lying on his back memorizing the constellations twinkling above billions 
of miles away.



Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse: A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019). He lives in Acton, Massachusetts.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Ghosts by Michael Estabrook

          Just like that – time flew
          dragging us from high school
          to retirement in a flash!

I wonder about the people
who have passed
through my life who
I haven’t seen in years, in decades
wonder how they
are doing now
all of us being older
old high school friends
college friends and favorite professors
church people I knew
coworkers, teammates, and neighbors
my first girlfriend, I hear her life was rough.
So many people I wonder
how many if I added
them all up.
They are all here with me
part of my life whether I like it or not
helping make me who I am
but no longer accessible
there but not there
like ghosts.



Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse: A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019). He lives in Acton, Massachusetts.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

After the CDC’s Recommended Two Weeks from Final Dose of Covid-19 Vaccine by Joann Renee Boswell

welcome drips weird
from these immunized hands

we embrace at my doorstep
and just like that

you step inside, shrug
off your coat, pass into

our physical lives
we laugh over shared popcorn

buttered fingers grip beer
we slip into remembered rhythms

we are chaplain / poet
scholar / professor

we flow back in a Spring rush
flooding the banks like nature

there is only ease
coming back together

all those months pool
behind us, deep with relentless caution

but we can swim now
and it feels wildly unchanged



Joann Renee Boswell, the author of Cosmic Pockets (Fernwood Press, 2020), is a teacher, mother, photographer and poet currently living in Camas, WA with her husband and three children. She loves rainy days filled with coffee, books, handholding, moody music and sci-fi shows. Read more at joannrenee.com

Saturday, June 26, 2021

In the Attic by Russell Rowland

I have no idea where that memory went.
It’s somewhere in the attic. Often at night
I hear it scampering around on mousy feet.
But when I run upstairs to look, all is quiet.

Maybe it was a bad memory, so I hid it.
Maybe a good one I just took for granted,
as we do with those who love us most—
and it’s getting back at me by playing coy.

I keep far too much up there—do you,
in yours?—boxes on top of boxes. Stuff
gets lost. Which implies we don’t need it,
but who knows what we’ll need someday?

We need memories. They are the letters
of our names. I’ll catch up to that rascal
in my attic, my missing letter. Perhaps if
I ignore it, it will tiptoe down to see why.

Jed says when he visits Melanie, his wife
in the Alzheimer’s unit, she tells him how
her husband never visits. Jed is a good
listener. Melanie has emptied her attic.



Seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions. Recent work appears in Poem, Main Street Rag, and U.S. 1 Worksheets. His latest poetry book, Wooden Nutmegs, is available from Encircle Publications.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Fortifications for Rain by Zebulon Huset

She made tiny
sandbags
of mother’s
used teabags
to protect
the GI Joes
her brother had
set up for war
in the backyard
the night
before.

Gobs of Elmer’s
glued the bank
properly in place
until she deployed
to college,
content as the
conservator of
a closed museum.



Zebulon Huset won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Red Eft Review, Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, and Texas Review (among others). He publishes Notebooking Daily, Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Late Afternoon Farm: August by H. Lee Coakley

There is only the
looking glass pond
on the far edge of the street,

the one that we rupture with our
parched, heaving bodies
and rise up, gasping, from

a day spent
crouching & carrying,
cultivating what greens, what
passes for knowledge
in these dense parts.

We are still
mostly young.

As the cicadas hum
their live wire, we run barefoot
along the fence,

pinching the ends of
honeysuckle, praying for a
light touch - one that grants an

impossibly small drop
of golden ambrosia
on our tongue. A reminder

of how hard it is we work
to squeeze the sweetness
out of anything.



H. Lee Coakley (they/she) is a Queer poet & nutritional healer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Their work has been featured in The Lavender Review, Utterance Journal, The Voices Project, Blueshift Anthology and The Mad Farmer Reading Series.

Friday, June 18, 2021

In the Kitchen by Alice G. Waldert

I hear him downstairs
emptying the dishwasher

I filled late last night.
Glasses and cups clink,

rinsed of wine we shared.
Plates, forks, and knives rattle,

assembling like good soldiers
waiting to be of service.

We are alone in a house
that once sustained the shouts

and laughter of two girls and a boy,
but they outgrew this domain.

The boy lives many roads away,
the girls, adventurers–

live as ex-pats in foreign lands.
Our house now empty,

I welcome any sounds that replicate
the noise we made

when we all basked like sunning seals
in front of the TV

and believed
we’d always stay that way.



Alice G. Waldert’s poetry has appeared in Tiny Seed, The Voice of Eve, Poet's Choice, Sisyphus Lit, and Survivor Lit. She is a former humanitarian officer for the United Nations and is an adjunct English Professor at Westchester Community College in New York. She holds an MFA from Manhattanville College.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Shopping in the Pandemic by Marianne Szlyk

When I used to shop at Food Lion,
I felt closest to my mother,
clipping coupons, trying to buy
only what was on sale.

                       I’d pass up
the Fuji apples for Golden Delicious,
stock up on boxes of Corn Chex
and cans of chicken noodle soup,
even ignore the firm tofu
that lingered in produce
next to the greens
no one buys.

But the last time I shopped there,
the short stout woman hugged
the last twelve pack of toilet paper close
before placing it with the other one in her cart.
She steered her cart down the aisle of empty shelves
to grab dank greens and the last tofu
as I could only watch.



Marianne Szlyk's most recent book is Poetry en Plein Air (Pony One Dog Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Sligo Journal, and other journals/websites. Some poems have been translated into Polish, Italian, and Cherokee.