Thursday, March 21, 2019

Most Days by Sam Norman

Most days I get up
and stumble through
the job, the study halls,
the meetings, the meals,
the Mourner's Kaddish.

Other days I stay in bed
reading and napping and
dreaming and crying and
struggling.

Still others I float, sailing
into the ether, imagining
other lives, and other outcomes
living in a universe with less
pain, and (at least) one
fewer random
automobile accidents.



Sam Norman teaches high school at Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT. Recent works have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Amethyst, Down in the Dirt and Praxis. Most of Sam’s recent poetry focuses on a terrible tragedy. Sam’s son, Ben, just 20 years old, lost his life in a accident on New Year’s Eve, 2018.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Petty Bitterness by Sam Norman

1.

When they turn sixteen,
the scouts of Troop 25
go canoeing
down the Connecticut River.

It’s a week-long trip of camping, eating over open fires,
a chance to spend time bonding with Ben, my semi-distant teen.

For practice we took our canoe,
old, heavy, and unstable,
to the beach across the lake
to pick up Ben’s brother, Daniel, from day camp.

Halfway across I swamped the canoe,
and we were forced to swim,
pulling the cumbersome boat the rest of the way.
When we eventually made it to the beach
we lay on the sand, an exhausted spectacle
for campers to gape and point at.

2.

I spent hours agonizing over our equipment:
Should I buy the full fingered gloves or half?
What kind of dry bag is best?
Will this hat protect my freckled skin from burning?

At the logistics meeting, I announced,
I really like to cook, and I am willing
to do all the cooking on the trip.

Ben interrupted.
Dad, Mike will do it.
He’s a really good cook.

I felt stung, but I let it go
because I was utterly excited to be going with my son.

And then the day before the trip -- the day before the trip,
Ben told me he didn't want me to go.

He wanted this time to be with his friends
and not with me.

That night I went into his bag
and took the gloves I had so carefully picked
and hid them. I wanted his blistered hands
to feel some of the pain that I was feeling.

3.

I never forgave him. 
I stopped going to father/son weekends.
I stopped helping to organize events.
To this day I haven't seen his Eagle Scout project.

Yesterday I found one of his rowing gloves
in the back of a closet
pristine,
unused. 
I put it on
and sat down on the floor and cried.

Later today I will visit, for the first time,
the outdoor amphitheater
that Ben built for his Eagle Scout project.
Later today I will see what I missed.   



Sam Norman teaches high school at Bacon Academy in Colchester, CT. Recent works have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Amethyst, Down in the Dirt and Praxis. Most of Sam’s recent poetry focuses on a terrible tragedy. Sam’s son, Ben, just 20 years old, lost his life in a accident on New Year’s Eve, 2018.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Chimney Remains by Diane Webster

Only the chimney remains
of the burned house --
blackened within and without
stone stand as a monolith
to fire contained and escaped
as smoke and mist kiss
like cousins at a funeral.



Diane Webster enjoys the challenge of picturing images into words to fit her poems. If she can envision her poem, she can write what she sees and her readers can visualize her ideas. Her work has appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Eunoia Review, Philadelphia Poets, and other literary magazines.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

like a shadow that punches back by J.J. Campbell

sometimes it's
as easy as just
closing my eyes

sometimes the
nightmares follow
me like a shadow
that punches back

there's no reason
to believe you'll
fall in love again

no reason to think
the muse will ever
stumble upon your
porch again

and the prices aren't
getting any cheaper
on the brides from

russia



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves but still managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Word Dish, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, Mad Swirl and Rusty Truck. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

scribble in my notebook by J.J. Campbell

they like to stare
at me as i scribble
in my notebook

they have that look
like they are dying
to know what i am
writing about

none of their egos
could handle the
truth

it's nothing about

you



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves but still managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Word Dish, Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, Mad Swirl and Rusty Truck. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com).

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ides of March by Mark Danowsky

The streets I grew up on
lined with exhaust
covered water
you can walk
without falling through

I'm reminded of Friedrich's
icy portrait
a landscape I know
but have not seen

I listen to a gifted
mix of Yo-Yo Ma
passing the ever-changing
storefronts of my youth
a breeze that carries
each perfect seagull



Mark Danowsky is a writer from Philadelphia and author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press, 2018). His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, Kestrel, The Healing Muse, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. He is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Co-Founder of Wood & Water Press.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Study in Red by John Hicks

          Lauritzen Gardens
          Omaha, Nebraska


Looking up from my book, two women are sailing
side-by-side across the terrace, gray hair
visored back, red Nebraska sweatshirts pushed
to their elbows. Their forearms pump them along.
I’m reading how landscape directs interest.

Autumn crisp, this morning’s response to summer,
turns their talk cheek pink. A flagstone path
has taken them; its course flowing between walls
of limestone blocks straining to hold back the froth
of bee balm and lantana beds encircling flames
of sugar maples. So much in the moment,

unconsciously they fall into step, movements
so sympathetic I think them sisters. A cardinal
splashes pussy willow branches to their left.
The taller sister shortens sail;
turns into the wind.



John Hicks is an emerging poet: has been published or accepted for publication by: Valparaiso Poetry Review, I-70 Review, Ekphrastic Review, Glint Literary Journal, Midnight Circus, Panorama, Mojave River Review, and others. He writes in the thin mountain air of northern New Mexico.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

12.2.18 / 12.30 p.m. / 45 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Peaceful rain, steady all night, leaves the ground soppy
over-showered and spongy, and the confluence of springs
necks torrential, as the rain soaks the air,
dampening everything, but falling so lightly that the pond is silent.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and appeared in El Ghibli, in the Journal of Italian Translations Bonafinni, and Poetarium Silva. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. He has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. John’s newest collection, Sundowning, will be out later this year with Main Street Rag Publishing Company. A former New England Poet of the Year, named by the New England Association of Teachers of English, Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

11.25.18 / 10.51 a.m. / 45 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

           ~ After all-night rain all the snow is gone, pond starting to thaw, streambeds bursting

Palaver between culvert run-off and Fowler’s pond;
one day in summer, when the stream is dry,
nary a drop of water in the overgrown streambeds,
daydreams will invoke ice – map on black paper, drawn with silver pen.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and appeared in El Ghibli, in the Journal of Italian Translations Bonafinni, and Poetarium Silva. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. He has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. John’s newest collection, Sundowning, will be out later this year with Main Street Rag Publishing Company. A former New England Poet of the Year, named by the New England Association of Teachers of English, Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

11.23.18 / 9.56 a.m. / 14 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

          ~ Pond completely frozen

Pages torn from the spines of crooked books, the leaves’
original stories long since browned-out.
November bolted down the entire pond last night,
done, for now, with any kind of clarity that means open eyes, open mind.



John L. Stanizzi is author of the full-length collections – Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits – Fifty 50-Word Pieces, and Chants. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Blue Mountain Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Rust & Moth, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, and many others. Stanizzi has been translated into Italian and appeared in El Ghibli, in the Journal of Italian Translations Bonafinni, and Poetarium Silva. His translator is Angela D’Ambra. He has read at venues all over New England, including the Mystic Arts Café, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hartford Stage, and many others. John’s newest collection, Sundowning, will be out later this year with Main Street Rag Publishing Company. A former New England Poet of the Year, named by the New England Association of Teachers of English, Stanizzi teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT and he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Morning, Noon, and Night by Martha Christina

The cat you left behind
hooks her left front paw
under the edge of the
closet door you built.
She pulls it open,
stares at the empty
hangers and shelves,
sniffs, as though there
might be some lingering
scent of you, months later.
She turns her gold eyes
on me, meows loud and long,
as if in sympathy, or blame.



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, March 5, 2019

Finches at the Feeder by Martha Christina

When the rain stops,
female fledglings
crowd the six-perch feeder,
newly-successful
at feeding themselves.

They refuse to
make room for
the slightly larger
female who might
have laid their clutch,
brooded, and fed them.

They’re not a bit
deferential as they
hold their places.

How easy to
anthropomorphize.

How hard not to.



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).

Monday, March 4, 2019

Early Spring in New England by Martha Christina

outside the doorway
of the upscale grocer

(flowers out of season
and foods from afar):

a box of white
hydrangeas,

petals browning
under fresh snow.



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, March 3, 2019

Roof Repair by Steve Klepetar

They’re hammering next door,
the neighbors, up on their roof,
patching places where wild wind
ripped shingles, sent them flying
in the yard. The older guy kneels,
hammer in hand, nails in his mouth,
and now the air is still and cold.
Snow coming tonight, they say,
six inches at least, and behind
that an arctic blast.
The younger guy struggles
not to slide toward the roof’s edge.
His red hoodie hides his eyes,
but clearly he’s afraid,
gripping his hammer but holding
his other palm flat
against the steeply slanted side.
He’s not really getting anything done.
Hammer strokes ring out,
then weaken and die. Two crows
flap by overhead. A woman climbs the ladder,
which shakes with every step.
She snarls at the men, who nod quickly,
then follow her down toward the snowy ground.



Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely, and several of his poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include A Landscape in Hell, How Fascism Comes to America, and The Coffee Drinker’s Son.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Cleaning Out by Eileen Curran-Kondrad

He started in the far
Reaches of the basement
Most distant from her sick bed.
He stayed down there fixing doors
Examining his father’s old tools
Staring at closets to empty.
He didn’t come upstairs until
Weeks after the burial.

I started with
Her chest of drawers
Her shirts and sweaters
Her comb and brush
Her favorite nightgown
The last book she read
Still on her nightstand.

I took out the bookmark
Put it in my book
Placed it on my nightstand
Next to the ticking clock.



Eileen Curran-Kondrad is adjunct faculty in the English department at Plymouth State University. She has previously published work in Centripetal, New Hampshire Business and Upbeat.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Waiting on the Edge of the Invisible by M.J. Iuppa

Gray— color of ambivalence, shadow of margins
where a pencil’s sharp point fluctuates, ticking a thumbnail
sketch of an empty boat rocking in its icy winter slip.

What groan becomes gray? From soft falling
snow to wind that makes its mark on frozen fields, I
watch the insult of a light touch wearing down

this land’s immortality. Like my body’s shape
is shadow, I can stop here briefly, with-
out being a specialist— merely a silhouette

of who I am when no one is looking.



M.J. Iuppa's fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 29 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog:
mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life's stew.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Distance between Stars by M.J. Iuppa

We pick words consciously.
Polished, like glow-in-the-dark
moonstones, marking our way
out of a backyard woods.

These careful words rest
on our tongues, mooring
us to this hard-packed path,
this strait of silence dividing
place & sound as if we were
sent here to think long & hard
about noise.

We have been distracted by
weather & news & weather
that becomes news & disasters
& walls & apologies & distance
between stars . . .

We turn and look, and look
a bit closer, wondering
if we have presumed what
we heard to be true . . .

That noise, hissing
Where does it
begin?

Here, at midnight
our near-frozen
pond assumes
its silence



M.J. Iuppa's fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 29 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog:
mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability & life's stew.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Clippers by Wayne-Daniel Berard

I may not be able
to keep my mother
from fading like
an old photograph
before my eyes
as lymphoma
undevelops her
nor can I convince
the fragmenting
selves who are
my father that
the mute woman
beside him in the
common room is
not plotting against
him but I can
refuse to not notice
the frigging nerve
of that vine shooting
itself impossibly
from the chain link
into the personal space
of this poor maple
wrapping itself
insidiously around
and around and around it
I can take these bloody big
shears and clip the living
hell out of the goddamn
thing and feel
the tree breathe that much easier
and myself coming back
tomorrow.



Wayne-Daniel Berard, Ph.D., teaches Humanities at Nichols College, Dudley, MA. He publishes broadly in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His novella, Everything We Want, was published by Bloodstone Press in 2018. A full-length book of poetry, The Realm of Blessing, will be published in 2020 by Unsolicited Press. Wayne-Daniel lives in Mansfield, MA with his wife, the Lovely Christine.

Monday, February 25, 2019

York, PA by Ben Rasnic

Row houses line up
like hardbound reference
books, yellowing pages
moth-eaten and mildewed
on forgotten shelves
of abandoned libraries.

Down College Avenue, George
& Market Streets,
For Rent signs                                                        
taped precariously
to cracked windowpanes
provide stark reminders
of a past & present
indistinguishable.

Surrounded by bleak woods
& steep hills closing in,
hate slogans still echo
in the shadows
of Lafayette’s smiling statue.

On Sundays
the whole town shuts down;
skies shrouded in drab gray
cloud cover

accompany me
down 83 South
dodging potholes

all the way
to Baltimore.



Ben Rasnic currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. Author of four published collections (three available from
amazon.com), Ben's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Friday, February 22, 2019

It's Tuesday so this must be Dana-Farber by Richard H. Fox

In the elevator,
        a woman pulls a phone from her purse.
        A man picks lint off his blue jeans.
        Yesterday’s Globe snaps open.
        Riders stare at flashing floor numbers.

A toddler in
        a wheelchair sports a Brock Holt uniform top.
        Purple patch over left eye matches right forearm gauze.
        An IV tube connected to a bag hung on the hook
        disappears under collar to his port.
        Nostrils raw from wiping, shine with petroleum jelly.

He looks up
        at my overripe cheeks,
        into my puffy eyes, nods,
        points a finger at my face,
        grins, chuckles.

I smile back.
        He raises a pincushion hand.
        We bump fists.

A ding announces
        the seventh floor.
        His parents wheel him out.
        Twinkling.
        Twinkling.



When not writing about rock ’n roll or youthful transgressions, Richard H. Fox focuses on cancer drawing on hope, humor, and unforeseen gifts. The winner of the 2017 Frank O’Hara Prize, he seconds Stanley Kunitz' motion that people in Worcester MA are "provoked to poetry.” smallpoetatlarge.com