Thursday, October 14, 2021

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (#14) by Matthew Borczon

In Fort Jackson
the Army trainers 
who got us ready 
for Afghanistan
used to
call us
killers
hello, killers
nice shot, killer 
good work, killers
it was supposed
to make
us feel tough 
and strong 
so we started
using the term 
as well
but we
never managed
to say it
like they could 
we couldn’t roll
the "r"
couldn’t sound tough 
could only sound
like scared
young boys
telling their fathers 
they were men
for the
first time.



Matthew Borczon is a poet, a nurse and Navy Sailor from Erie, PA. He has published 17 books of poetry and publishes widely in the small press.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (#13) by Matthew Borczon

I took
care of
so many
people who
had lost
arms and
legs and
sometimes
both that
one day
I would
meet one
of these
Marines 11
years later
and not
remember
him at all.



Matthew Borczon is a poet, nurse and Navy Sailor from Erie, PA. He has published 17 books of poetry and publishes widely in the small press.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Chips of Glass by Cameron Spencer

Chips of glass like ice
          lie along the sideboard:
slivers of an argument
          waiting to be swept away
          and forgotten until the next time.
A bruise fades
          but leaves a sore spot—
          tender to the touch where tenderness failed
Just as an open cut retreats
          under new skin
          but remains a scar:
          a reminder.



Cameron Spencer lives in Savannah, Georgia. Her work has appeared online (including Red Eft Review) and in Savannah Authors Anthology. She is a long-time member of Rosemary Daniell's Zona Rosa writers group.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Silence Is Golden by Sharon Waller Knutson

Use your words,
our daughter-in-law
tells our toddler grandson.
Lips zippered into a smile,
his bird hands flutter
please and thank you
as his blue moon eyes
sparkle like the bubbles
he blows before dancing
like a dust devil. Doesn’t
talk because he’s deaf,

she says. I holler his name,
he whirls and I wave.
He races into my arms
and plants a sloppy kiss
on my cheek and I know
this kid is right as rain.



Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob now available from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared in One Art, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Poetry Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Song Is…

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Camp School Suite by Robert Demaree

1.
Next to our cottage is a tutoring camp;
My father taught there summers ago.
I walk along the lane behind the tents
They use for classrooms
And listen to the commingled voices
Of young teachers and their kids.
Much of it is new and strange, of course,
But some I recognize:
Third person plural, active voice…
What Gatsby really means…

And I am carried back to
Forty years in schools:
A mug of coffee
To put my hand around on cool mornings,
A smile for the 14-year-old,
Embarrassed at his mistake,
Wanting to try again.

2.
I came upon my father’s grade book today,
On the cottage shelf
Where we left it when he died,
Twenty years ago now.
I wish that he’d retired
While his memories were all good ones.
I see him in his classroom on the pond,
Leaning forward, wanting to tell a boy or two,
Sullen, not unkind, needing credits,
About the Generation of ’98,
But struggling with the preterite, I think.
Then the meaning comes to me:
A tutor is someone who keeps you safe.

3.
There’s this to be said for adolescents,
They are able to form communities quickly.
The kids at the camp school
Arrive in June, a hundred of them,
All strangers to each other.
In five weeks they have bonded,
So that, gathered as a group,
They are able to call out,
In noisy recognition and friendship,
Yeah, Stacy-y-y-y,

This afternoon they read their poems,
Itself an act of courage,
And they invite me to take part.
After the reading a girl of 16 or so
Wants to ask about the
Craft and discipline of poetry.
She has read with confidence and feeling.
What is required, she asks,
What must one do?
Listen, I tell her,
Listen and watch.

4.
The tents by the Teaching Grove are empty,
Will be coming down soon.
I walk along the lane
And hear echoes of the summer,
Of the voices of teachers and students,
Waiting to be scattered.
What has been gained here,
What will be remembered
Of these five weeks?
Friends they may not see again,
The confidence to start afresh
At new schools in different places,
The teachers who persuaded them
That they could write,
Or draw, or succeed.
The teachers will file their reports,
Take their own kids
For a last look at the pond,
Lash kayaks
To the tops of their cars.



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 over 150 periodicals, including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

The History of Forever by Howie Good

Some 2,000 years ago, when Julius Caesar sentenced
a gang of pirates to be crucified, a slow, agonizing form
of death, geese migrated in a V-formation and autumn
painted the leaves startling colors, just as now, but before
the crosses on which the pirates were nailed were hoisted,
Caesar, in a rare show of mercy, personally cut their throats.



Howie Good is the author most recently of the poetry collections Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and Famous Long Ago (Laughing Ronin Press).

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Ripe by Penelope Moffet

Gravenstein apple
fresh-fallen
from a tree,
so tart-sweet
I ignore the tunnels
left by worms
who also love
this taste,
breathe deep
where bees
conduct business
among daisies
near a green
clawfoot tub
that will call me later
to steep under stars
near bats and frogs.
No one is luckier
than I am,
to have lived this long,
to have wandered
among sand dunes,
seagulls, ravens, crabs
and barnacles
quick-flicking
their black feet
as waves caress
and leave them.
Afternoon light
licks maple leaves,
a cool wind
stirs the ferns.
How strange
yet how ordinary
so late in my life
this flowering,
this fruit,
every bite
delicious.



Penelope Moffet is the author of two chapbooks, most recently It Isn’t That They Mean to Kill You (Arroyo Seco Press, 2018). Her poems have been published in Gleam, One, Natural Bridge, Permafrost, Pearl, The Rise Up Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Verse-Virtual, The Missouri Review and other literary journals.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

How to Dream in a Foreign Language by Steve Klepetar

Speak with an accent,
as if your tongue had been soaked
in vinegar, as if your teeth
had been nibbling ice and cheese.

Roll on the surface of this bed
like a clown sweeping a puddle of light.

Play a folk tune on the violin
as the old couple dances in the living room.

Collect smooth white pebbles
by a small pond
where children search for salamanders,
the ones glowing red in late summer grass.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. Recent poems appear in Verse-Virtual, Midlothien Poetry Review, and One Sentence Poems.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Orchard by Andrew Williams

The dainty hand plucks a Gala apple.
Under the tree, I open the bag—
space for one more.

Walking back, the cicada chorus
whirrs, like a biker revving her engine
before speeding off.

Summer is nearly over; fall is imminent,
and yet, the heat continues
to linger.

            As the daylight fades, we stop,
plant ourselves, and eat an apple together,
as dusk turns to darkness.



Andrew Williams is a writer living with his family in Pennsylvania, USA.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Letter to My Mother by Terri Kirby Erickson

If only I had been there to catch you when you fell,
to hold you in my arms and lower you to the ground.

It was September, among the leaves and blossoms
of your yard that I found you—the mother I adore,

in the sleep from which you never again awakened.
I would have done anything to save you, but there

was nothing of you to save—only the body you left
behind like a sweater draped across a chair. Every

day since, I have walked the earth with grief lodged
in my throat like a bone, shouldering the burden of

your sorrows as well my own, as if they belong to me.
The son you lost became my son and my brother, our

misery merged into one. And each disappointment of
your life, every regret, turned into mine. But it is time

now, to stop picking up the pain you have discarded,
trying to heal what has already been healed. I want to

carry, instead, memories of your laughter, and the love
you gave to me—as weightless in my hands as light.



Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry. Her work has appeared in “American Life in Poetry,” The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and many others. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Obits by John Muro

Still as paper-weights, their portraits
Freckle columns in a loose shroud of
Black-ink blot. Most gravely smile
With their breath drawn back,
Swallowing cries, wanting something
More than the disquieting narration
Told in the split and spill of serif.
A curious few may find themselves
Lingering above or below the fold,
Shaking off sadness and making
Certain note of the hard particulars:
Age and place and cause. Laying
The paper down, perhaps they’ll
Take in the sun’s slow rising or
Setting, drifting like crumpled gold
Dust from room to room, grateful for
The scent of paperwhites, the sweet
Muscle still throbbing in the chest,
And brackish blood coursing in
Currents towards the outcroppings
Of fingers – age narrowing eyes
And choices among the daily ads.



A resident of Connecticut, John Muro's professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation. In the Lilac Hour, his first volume of poems, was published last fall by Antrim House. John’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including River Heron, Sheepshead, Moria, Writer Shed, Third Wednesday and The French Literary Review.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Paupers Cemetery by Lorri Ventura

Turkey vultures
Venture beyond a nearby landfill
Circling evocatively above the paupers’ graves 
On Mayflower Hill.

Grave markers resemble key heads
Bearing not names, but numerals
A potter’s field
Stretching from a trash-strewn roadside to a forest

Unnamed graves embrace the insane
Forced to sew their own burial shrouds
While hunched on cots
In the nearby state hospital

Alongside them are infants and children
Resting eternally with strangers
In group plots
To conserve space

The earth comforts the nameless poor
Their dreams curtailed by monsters
Bearing melodic names—
Diphtheria, Dropsy, Dysentery, Dementia, Despair

Beneath numbered iron markers
Lie the forgotten, abandoned, and lost 
Lives perhaps un-noted
But not without value



Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator living in Massachusetts. Her poems have been featured in a number of anthologies


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Joe, Shoshauna and Sharon by Sharon Waller Knutson

Arizona must be hot,
Joe says as he stands
under a California redwood
scratching his scruffy beard.

Shoshauna is waiting
in Wisconsin,
I say
as he opens the door
of his trashed truck,

crammed with carpenter
and car fixing tools.
Just in case, he says.
as we head for the highway.

On the 1-80 East passing
through Wyoming we spot
a buxom blonde in skinny
jeans staring at a tire flatter

than roadkill on a Toyota
on the side of the road
and hear a baby crying
from the back seat

piled with blankets, shirts,
boxes and baby clothes.
Joe pulls over, grabs
his lug wrench and jack

and removes the spare
tire from her trunk
as she hands me the blue
eyed baby and a bottle.

She peers down the road
like she’s looking for the man
who left the rainbow
rimming her right eye.

Joe tosses the flat in the trunk,
hands her a fistful of greenbacks.
I’ll pay you back I promise,
she says as she takes the baby.

Shoshauna shows up
in sunglasses in her sedan
at a rest top in Nebraska
and pulls out her picnic basket.

Joe grins under his floppy hat,
Shoshauna smiles, her dark
hair and my blonde hair
blanketing our backs as we chew

chicken and buttermilk biscuits.
Are your poems true stories? I ask.
I have to admit sometimes
I embellish,
says Shoshauna.

Mine are true until the poem
finds its own truth,
Joe says,
What about yours? But before
I can answer I wake up in Idaho

and the bell is ringing
and the clock says 4:30 am
and we race to the hospital
bed to get my mother-in-law up.



Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in a wildlife habitat in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared in various journals, most recently in One Art, Mad Swirl, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Poetry Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Song Is…

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Waiting for the Uber at the Assisted Living Facility by Sharon Waller Knutson

Those Ukrainians really know
how to satisfy a sweet tooth,

says the man with the gray beard.
The honey in the Koliva tastes
heavenly and the fruit filled
Koliva is to die for. Five stars for sure.


But the hostess’s hair was a disaster.
She looked like Little Orphan Annie
at 100 years old,
states a woman
with wrinkles deep as ditches
and hair blue as the cloudless sky.
The Shepherd’s Pie at the shindig
for the shaggy Scottish gal was delish.


Who can forget the roast pork and cabbage
at the celebration for the bald guy
with the bushy eyebrows from Estonia?

she adds while the beard brags;
The ham glazed with orange juice
and brown sugar at the gala
for the burly Brit was the best.


How do we get an invitation
to these fancy dinner parties?

the white poodle frizz asks.
No invitation necessary, blue hair
replies as the Uber pulls up.
Just read the obituaries. The foreigners
serve the best funeral food.




Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in a wildlife habitat in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared in various journals, most recently in One Art, Mad Swirl, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Poetry Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Song Is…

Monday, August 23, 2021

Distance by John L. Stanizzi

Side by side in fainting candlelight
a man and a woman in bed
the woman curled up crying
the man flat on his back
motionless
the walls filled with night
and cold

Clothes strewn around the darkening room
their shadows
a crowd of old mourners
viewing the bodies
of two complete strangers



John L. Stanizzi is author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, Sundowning, and POND. Besides Red Eft Review, John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Cortland Review, American Life in Poetry, and others. John’s nonfiction has been in Literature and Belief, Stone Coast Review, and others. John was awarded an Artist Fellowship in Creative Non-Fiction, 2021 from the Connecticut Office of the Arts. https://www.johnlstanizzi.com

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Squirrel World by Tamara Madison

One could do worse
Than to be a squirrel in this park
Where each tree is a sovereign country
And the ground between tree continents
A freeway of grass and dirt.
Each of these trees
A navigable land of plenty;
A squirrel can leap from the top of one
To a thin twig at the tip of another
With no fear of falling. Sure,
There are hawks to contend with,
And owls. But we
Have cancer, Covid-19,
A myriad of ills, and each other.
Worst of all, each other.



Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, the Writer’s Almanac, Sheila-Na-Gig and many other publications. More about Tamara can be found at tamaramadisonpoetry.com.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Red Haiku by Howie Good

1
Beyond the window
the sky glows wildfire red

A movie trailer
for the apocalypse

2
The killer’s bloody handprints
Red autumn leaves

3
The hummingbird
spreads a wealth of pollen
among the red flowers

A wandering lunatic
with communistic visions



Howie Good is the author most recently of the poetry collection Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing). His chapbook Famous Long Ago is forthcoming from Laughing Ronin Press.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

My Father’s Last Summers in New England by Robert Demaree

1985

In the ’80s you could fly
Piedmont into Worcester, Mass.
Weary Friday-night salesmen joked,
Helped the attendant pronounce the name.
This was my parents’ penultimate
Summer in New England,
My father agitated,
Convinced they had left
Without packing, and hoping
He could get a shave
At the barbershop in the lobby
Of a Days Inn motel,
My mother, wearied,
Glad someone else would drive
The rest of the way.
The other day I bought a postcard
On eBay, outbidding someone
Who must have wondered
Why anyone else
Would want a souvenir
Of the Worcester Airport.

1986

My dad’s last summer on the pond
I flew up Labor Day
To help close up, drive them home.
The airport bus
Only came as far as Dover.
Somehow they managed to get there,
Him wandering around the restaurant,
Agitated,
My mother with the
Caregiver’s exhausted sadness.
The restaurant is still there,
Different name, different owners:
I pass by that place
And still feel
An unbidden welling up,
How one thing comes
To stand for another.



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 over 150 periodicals, including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Smoke by Stephen Ruffus

          for Kathy

When we first met
you smoked unfiltered Pall Malls.
I watched as you gently spit
the tiny flecks of tobacco

from your lip in a kind of kiss.
Or picked them,
almost as an afterthought,
from the tip of your tongue.

With a quick turn of your head
you’d exhale a gentle breeze
from the side of your mouth
like you were whispering

to a person standing beside you
a secret I might discover,
if I were lucky enough.
Even with your eyes squinted,

I could still see that they were
starkly blue and endless.
You’d take another long drag,
and with the smoke now

swirling around your face
you almost disappeared
until the veil was lifted,
and everything was revealed.



Stephen Ruffus is originally from New York City. He has lived in Colorado and California where he studied at Colorado State University and the University of California at Irvine. Currently, he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah where he fulfilled a career as a college teacher and administrator.

Friday, August 6, 2021

My Mother Climbs Mt. Timpanogos by Stephen Ruffus

She would climb each floor to the top
of the five-story walk-up she lived in
as a girl, slept on the fire escape
and the rooftop in the summer heat,
a whole block of families camped out
under the same dream in one great
breath rising into the evening air.
But now this woman—
visiting her son where mountains
suddenly rise at the edge of the plain,
climbs straight up for an hour
carrying her purse she would never leave,
both of us weak for reasons
we keep to ourselves, as I lead her
by the hand as though up winding stairs.



Stephen Ruffus is originally from New York City. He has lived in Colorado and California where he studied at Colorado State University and the University of California at Irvine. Currently, he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah where he fulfilled a career as a college teacher and administrator.