Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Bostonian by Lorri Ventura

His home is a rag-filled refrigerator box
Propped crookedly on broken sidewalk
Alongside the Boston Common

When I ask him his name
He says, "Just call me 'Least of Your Brothers,'
Then winks conspiratorially

He tugs off mismatched gloves
To jab his raw fingers
Into his tepid cup of Dunkin'
Before gulping its dregs

Coffee trickles through his beard
As he offers a sip from the empty cup
To a passerby
Who squawks in protest
Before bolting to the other side of Tremont Street

The gold-gilded State House dome
Shines down on him
As his gnarled fingers weave gently
Through the yarn hair of a grimy, one-eyed, Raggedy Ann
Propped in his lap

Every so often
He leans forward and kisses the top of the doll's head
With a sweetness that brings tears to my eyes

Seeing people turn their faces away
As they rush past
Pretending not to see him
He waves and grins lopsidedly
Showing three wobbly teeth and chortling,
"Smile! I won't hurt you! Have a nice day!"

I squint through the sunlight
As I watch him from the nearest corner
I think I see
A halo around his head.



Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator. She lives in Massachusetts and her work has been featured in the poetry anthologies Songs to the Sun and Poetry Is a Mountain.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

10.2.19 / 5:35 p.m. / 75 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Piping of dusk begins to encircle the pond on this
outright hot and humid day; a return to summer, though this
natatorium, the pond, is sky for constellations of leaves
dolefully dragged across the water on the slightest ripples pulled by the slightest breeze.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and his brand new collection, Sundowning. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review. John has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

10.1.19 / 7:23 a.m. / 58 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Plaudit of the rain is so soft it cannot be heard on this,
October’s first day, though the pond is stippled with raindrops; the
neaped shoreline’s arrangement of rocks is taking in the water too,
droplet by droplet, every one a balm to the starved pond.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and his brand new collection, Sundowning. John’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, and many others. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. His nonfiction has been published in Stone Coast Review. John has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. For many years, John coordinated the Fresh Voices Poetry Competition for Young Poets at Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT. He is also a teaching artist for the national recitation contest, Poetry Out Loud. A former New England Poet of the Year, John teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Norman Explains Why He Sits on the Back Stoop by Wilda Morris

Where Father lives in town,
the road’s not paved.
Wild roses dot
the edges of the lawn.

I prefer to be out here
in the country
where those blossoms swarm
like bees, splash

pink among tall grasses.
Monarchs embroider themselves
on milkweed stalks,
take off across unfenced fields.

Black snakes drink water
spilled by the well,
capture rats for their lunch
while I sit on the back stoop,

rest from my work in the garden,
roll a cigarette. Irene brings me a bowl
of beans, a cup of strong, black coffee.
I need nothing more.



Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons, has published poems in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications. Her first book was Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant. Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books), was published in 2019. Her blog, wildamorris.blogspot.com, features monthly poetry contests.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Norman Ponders Wheels, Circa 1947 by Wilda Morris

I wonder if Thoreau ever owned
a horse and carriage, if other men
laughed at him when he walked
from Walden Pond into town
for dinner with Emerson
or a meeting of the Transcendentalists.
Some men think to be a real man
you must drive a Ford like my brother Fred’s.
Wheels and speed, they say, give a man
independence, new scope for adventure.
I can’t afford such luxury, but no matter.

When I walk, I stop, like Thoreau,
to examine a speckled leaf,
a milkweed beetle. I laugh
at baby squirrels trying their legs
in the ash trees. I follow a path
made by deer, marvel how rabbit ears
perk up as I approach,
how red-winged blackbirds’ defend
their nests. I whistle with cardinals
while Fred zips down the highway singing,
seeing so little.



-Previously published in Keystrokes



Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons, has published poems in numerous anthologies, webzines, and print publications. Her first book was Szechwan Shrimp and Fortune Cookies: Poems from a Chinese Restaurant. Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books), was published in 2019. Her blog, wildamorris.blogspot.com, features monthly poetry contests.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

at the right time by J.J. Campbell

she liked to dance naked
in the neon under a full
moon

she only wanted an audience
of one on these nights

i was never lucky enough
to be in the right place
at the right time

would only get to hear
these stories over drinks
at the corner bar the
next afternoon

i asked her once if she
would grant me permission
to show up one evening

she laughed and said no

i asked why and she
said you already know

twenty some years later
i'm still as dumbfounded
as back then

she's been divorced twice

so, i imagine the dancing
really isn't that good



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is currently trapped in suburbia. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Heroin Love Songs v2.0, Synchronized Chaos, Record Magazine, Cajun Mutt Press and The Rye Whiskey Review. You can find J.J. most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Ugliness by Joe Cottonwood

Cold day in a cool city
she walks without shoes
down Telegraph Hill.
Stops at a shattered
bottle outside Cafe
Trieste. Stoops, plucks
with delicate fingers
green spits of glass. Drops
them into a white paper bag.

People stop, stare. Maybe
mental? She’s unconcerned,
gathering glass, barefoot in a
wool dress, legs unshaved.
Pimples cluster, spatter
her face. A body heavy,
not stylish. A smile
of inner peace.

Three young men
pause, snicker.
“Hey!” one shouts.
“Don’t you know you’re ugly?”
They laugh. She’s
humming, gathering
broken glass.



Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses to support his writing habit. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast. He’s a pretty good carpenter and a crackerjack grandfather in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
joecottonwood.com

Monday, November 4, 2019

Power Outage by Jason Fisk

It had been my turn to pick the movie
She spent most of the film on her phone
Then the power went out
She pulled the blanket off her lap
and I heard her rummaging in the kitchen
Soon, her assorted assemblage
of scented candles collectively burned
throughout the tiny apartment
The candle glow improved the ambiance
and everything looked less worn and dirty

The candle scents intermingled in the room
Bakery Air mixed with Mango Madness
Santa’s Pipe amalgamated with Bahama Breeze
The smell was overpowering
My head innards began to protest
pushing out against my skull
I listened to the wicks’ hiss as they burned
and I watched her thumb her phone
The blue glow of the screen
lit the underside of her face

For some reason, it was at that moment
that I knew this relationship
wasn’t going to work

Later that night
I laid next to her
and stared at the ceiling

The scent of the extinguished candles
lingered in the dark




Jason Fisk lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked in a psychiatric unit, labored in a cabinet factory, and mixed cement for a bricklayer. He was born in Ohio, raised in Minnesota, and has spent the last 25 years in the Chicago area.
www.jasonfisk.com

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Long Hair and Bleach by Jason Fisk

I took the garbage bags to the end of the driveway
and doused them with bleach
so no wildlife would annihilate the plastic bags
before they were taken away in the morning
The orange-yellow-pink evening light
angled through the garage window
as my dad tinkered at his workbench

I placed the bleach bottle back on the shelf
and dad turned and said, I think we need to talk
What about? I asked
Your hair…
Why? I asked
Because it’s too long. You should get it cut, he said
You’re just jealous ‘cause you don’t have any hair, I said
Maybe, he said and turned back to his work
His faded denim shirt hugged his back
as he bent over his workbench

At 46, I stand in the middle of my garage
and stare at my son’s shaggy hair
and I now know what my dad was really asking
He was asking
if I was hanging out with the wrong people
if I was drinking
if I was doing drugs
He was asking
if we could just talk for a minute
He wanted to know what was going on with me
and I insulted him…



Jason Fisk lives and writes in the suburbs of Chicago. He has worked in a psychiatric unit, labored in a cabinet factory, and mixed cement for a bricklayer. He was born in Ohio, raised in Minnesota, and has spent the last 25 years in the Chicago area. www.jasonfisk.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Onion by Anisa Rahim

shorn of its wrapping paper
discard one layer maybe two
it is quiet in the house
heads are sliced off

clear green filament peeled
till there is nothing left
but white clarity
its face before you



Anisa Rahim is a writer and public interest lawyer. Her poetry has been published in OJAL, Blazevox Magazine, Tiny Seed Journal and elsewhere. See more of her work at
anisarahim.com.

Monday, October 28, 2019

October Songs by Robert Demaree

Part One: 2009

A change of seasons
Shifts cloud and light about October skies;
Against a luminous gray, it casts
Albescent brightness
On those gingerbread cottages
Across the pond
Or on the red gold stripe of sugar maple
Up a ridge on Gunstock,
Dramaturgy on a crisp day.

At the restaurant the owner smiled
As though he might remember us.
I see him twenty years ago,
Holding the door for my mother,
A kind touch, softly, on the elbow,
Her gnarled hands gripping the walker,
Slowly up the ramp.
That was the summer my father died;
Time accrues before you feel
The mnemonic pull of a place.

Part Two: 2019

We filled the birdfeeders three weeks ago.
Against the yellow wood
We can see they have not gone down
At all.
We may wind up spreading the seed
On the ground
For the chipmunks and squirrels,
Who will consider it their due.
Forty degrees on the porch this morning.
In town orange lights set out for Halloween,
Evidence of lives that go on
When we are not here.
The somber beauty of leaves turning
In the rain.
Along the shore
The water pipe lies atop the ground.
The town will turn it off next week.
The birdfeeders are still full.
The birds have headed out
And so will we.



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, October 22, 2019

The Sound of a Breaking Heart by Rida Altaf

It is not deafening;
it does not scream in caps lock
or wave its big fat hands
in a place full of statues.
It does not stand out like
coal on snow, or stick its
sore thumb into the mouth
of anyone who listens

The sound of a breaking heart
is a quiet, almost inaudible crack
you'll hear it if you pay attention:

When someone's voice sounds like
a rubber band that's stretching,
as if someone tied their vocal cords
so they can only speak in strangled tones

When someone's laughter becomes
nothing more than a mere exercise;
a part of the balanced diet required
for social acceptance

When someone's views become
a metaphor for their despair,
as if extremism will force their heart to
come out with all its open wounds and
face the world

The sound of a breaking heart,
is like a glass that is seconds
away from exploding,
the first crack is hardly audible -
but when it truly breaks,
there is no way to fix it all up again.



Rida Altaf is a Pakistani student, poet, and a cheese-lover. She thinks that caffeine is the ultimate source of ideas for all her poems. She believes in hard work and creativity and is always hiding in some corner, reading a book. She posts her poetry on Instagram (@deskofideas).

Monday, October 14, 2019

On the occasion of attending a gymnastics event by Janette Schafer

A quiet, dark girl--
all rage and concentrated muscle--
flung her body like a child's rag doll.

I envied her center of gravity,
steadiness of gaze and body.
They call it tumbling

except she always seemed so sure.
I wondered how she walked on earth
after tasting sky.



Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, photographer, singer, and banker living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the chief editor of Social Justice Anthologies and the Artistic Director of Beautiful Cadaver Project Pittsburgh. Her writing and photographs have appeared in numerous publications. She is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. She has a forthcoming collection of poems titled “Something Here Will Grow,” from Main Street Rag Publishing in 2020.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Boy with a Guitar by John Grey

I have a picture of myself
at fifteen,
seated on the edge of the bed,
with guitar in hand.
I’m not playing it.
It was still no more than a prop
at that age
and the face is far too innocent
to invoke nascent rock star.

But there it is,
the boy and his instrument,
forever willing to contradict
the man staring into it,
through older eyes,
harder face,
and the doubtful benefit
of life history.

I could tell the kid how he did
in the years to come
but what’s the point of that.
It‘s just a photograph.
He’s not enough in the world
to hear my spiel,
to be disappointed
or even consoling.

For all this glossy’s nostalgic effect,
the conversation’s only ever
with the one
who’s holding it between his fingers.
Yes, I have my share of regrets.
But I don’t share them with this kid.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie Review and failbetter.

Friday, October 11, 2019

West 85th & West End by Carolynn Kingyens

Every day a new page turns
high above the beanstalk;
above the disco-ball-moon
and fog-machine clouds,
where an unamused angel
finger-flicks an arrow
affixed to a wheel,
spinning indefinitely,
an eternity.

Down here, I knock
on my neighbor’s door
in search of time –
not egg, flour, or a cup
of hourglass sugar
for my invisible cake.

It’s no coincidence
we dash to markets,
clearing shelves
of bread first –
hunker down
when the storm comes;
when the storm
is christened a name –
Lilly, Olive, Coltrane –
the name of my daughter’s
first grade friend,
whose father works
at the U.N.;
trilingual, plays chess
like an old man.

Trouble is a loose brick,
fifteen floors up, at the co-op
on W 85th & West End,
where an inviting bench awaits

impending doom.



Carolynn Kingyens was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia. Today, she lives in New York City with her husband and their two kind, funny, creative daughters. Carolynn has a forthcoming book of poetry, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound, scheduled to be released May/June 2020.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

New Widow, Observing Finches by Martha Christina

Sheltered
by arborvitae,
the female
fledgling tries
a short flight.
She makes
some progress,
then stops.

Another
(her mother?)
flies to her
from the feeder,
a sunflower seed
in her beak. She
feeds this reward
to the resting one.

I watch them repeat
these actions three
times: progress,
rest, and reward;
a lesson in how
to move forward.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in Star 82 Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

In the Vegetable Garden by Martha Christina

Signs of your presence,
and your absence: ID tags
in your handwriting, cold
frames and raised beds
built by your hands, new
lettuces, old okra, peas
and green beans, new
blossoms, old pods.

Along the shore, among
the rosa rugosa, perfect
explosions of bittersweet.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in Star 82 Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Sunday, October 6, 2019

After a Summer Shower by Martha Christina

The rain hasn’t discouraged
the finches; wet as they are
they keep feeding, flying
between the six perches
on the feeder and the rain-
bent rose canes. My cat
watches from the windowsill,
begins to chatter in a language
perhaps the finches understand,
but they ignore her, as if
they recognize the safety
the screen provides.

On the porch railing
sheltered by the wisteria,
a squirrel grooms its
wet whiskers, wet tail.

The rabbit with the white blaze,
slips under my neighbor’s fence,
begins to eat the freshened clover.



Martha Christina is a frequent contributor to Brevities. Longer work appears in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Naugatuck River Review, earlier postings of Red Eft Review, and most recently in Star 82 Review, and Crab Orchard Review. She has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press).

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Evan plucks his socks again while classmates read "The Odyssey" by L.R. Harvey

His piston fingers tirelessly fire,
powered by the sleepless engine of autism. Thread
by bleached-white thread, his Nike socks retire
into wisps of yarn that spread
around the classroom carpet, his manna in
this wilderness.

A student scans for homework answers in
the text. Another rubs his chin, looking for prickles he’s
never found before. I yawn
and look for coffee.

Telemachus is questioning in Nestor’s halls
while Megan stares at Mike and questions if she'll die alone.
A lip-sticked mother calls
the school's front desk
to question why her daughter has a B. Right down the hall
Jim Walker asks the AC vent
why it won't work.

In here, the still
is interrupted only by the prick
of yarn in Evan’s questioning
fingers, unraveling the thickness
of the world, searching for something,
answers, all his own.



L.R. Harvey writes poetry and teaches high schoolers in Chattanooga, T.N. His most recent work has appeared The Write Launch, Tennessee Magazine, After the Pause, Light, and many other magazines and journals. He holds his B.A. in English and his M.A. in teaching, and he is hoping to pursue his MFA within the next year.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Cravings by Joey Nicoletti

San Francisco, how sweet you talk
at night, whispering your misty history
into the open, majestic mouth
of my hotel room window. I look
towards the bathroom. I imagine
my love, stepping out of the shower
in another room, a bigger one
two floors up, ten years earlier,
before the Buffalo snow, smoke, and ice joined
our family, back when my ambition was
a row house, a lavender
Painted Lady, 2.5 miles from here, and endless
concerts of clanging: all of the trolley rides
I could ever want. But tonight
I crave a round of sleet, pounding the roof
as my love steps into a hot bath, the Boston
terrier and Schnauzer, chasing the short-haired cat
down the hall; streets glittered with salt.



Joey Nicoletti is the author of eight books and chapbooks, including Boombox Serenade, which is forthcoming this winter, and Cannoli Gangster, his first full-length poetry collection, which was a finalist for the 2009 Steel Toe Books Prize. Joey currently teaches at SUNY Buffalo State.