Saturday, April 4, 2020

Don't Spread Any Rumors by Jack Powers

Rachelle said before disappearing forever.
I stood mute in that empty, ninth grade hallway, wondering,

Why did she pick me for this farewell warning? A school of rumors
swarmed around Rachelle: boys lined up outside her window each night,

locker room tales the next day. Now the story was Pregnant!
But when she leaned in close – small, dark pupils in her green marble eyes,

her nose long and regal, her sharp chin mouthing the words –
she was a princess forced to flee and I a frightened stable boy.

I nodded or blinked, but said nothing and since, I've seen her only
in dreams, leaning close, lips moving. I am unable to comfort her.

I have dreamed of being one of those boys outside her curtains
and one of those claiming conquest in the locker room

but I'm ashamed only of not wrapping my arm around her slender shoulder,
warming her ear with my breath, saying, Stay. We shall raise him a king!



Jack Powers is the author of Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar and has had poems in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He recently retired from teaching special education in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website: http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Family Station Wagon by Jack Powers

Tommy Carroll was the first to get his license and we could pile fourteen guys
into his mom’s Ford Country Squire if three of us sat on the lowered tailgate.

Suddenly our world expanded past Ada’s Variety, out of bike range,
across town lines on long drives to anywhere, to nowhere.

We jammed half our ninth grade team into that car when playing football,
just meant more time with my friends without thoughts of high school stardom.

Saturdays, we’d drive down 95 to play miniature golf or see a drive-in movie.
On the way back sparks flew from the heels of our loafers scraping the highway.

Even on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I’d try to get out to see Tommy, Brian
and Dave because they felt more like family than anyone sitting around that table.

Jostling and joking and shout-singing to the AM radio, time flew by faster
than Tommy could crank up that old wagon even though he hit 90 once on a dare.

When we’d hit a bump, our butts would jump off the tailgate and we’d shout and
hold on to each other as we hurtled backwards, sparks rising from the dark road.



Jack Powers is the author of Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar and has had poems in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He recently retired from teaching special education in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website:
http://www.jackpowers13.com/poetry/

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Havahart by Michael Estabrook

Didn’t have time to be depressed over
the pandemic today
everything canceled and closed
for who knows how long
the specter of death buzzing around our heads.
We kept busy fiddling with
Havahart traps and rodent repellent
because we spotted the chipmunk
that was living in the walls resting calmly
in the entrance to his hole
in our condo siding.
I plugged the hole with steel wool and wood putty
baited three traps with peanut butter
went shopping for paint
lifted weights, got a haircut . . .
staying busy and distracted is obviously the key
to weathering this storm of fear and uncertainty.



Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more clear and concise, succinct and precise, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019).

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Home by Ben Rasnic

In a dream
I am at the home place
where I was born
and raised.

My father,
alive again,
is plowing the large garden tract
beyond the back hillside.

My mother, healthy
and vibrant again,
is nurturing her prized roses
with tender loving care.

The middle brother & I
take turns burning fastballs
into the other’s genuine
cowhide Rawlings while

the oldest reclines
in the front porch lounge chair,
absorbed in the latest
Bradbury novel.

And it all seems
so present, so vivid, so real.

It has been written
“You can’t go home again.”

But closer to the truth,
you never leave.



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.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Quarantine by Ben Rasnic

From behind the bare maple
a nervous squirrel skitters
across the greening
of fresh spring fescue.

Finches, nuthatches & chickadees
crowd the critter proof feeder,
migrating to and from
the whispering pines.

A lazy drift of cirrus
creeps across the vanishing blue sky
as evening draws close
like a velvet curtain;

ushers in a steady cadence
of crickets choreographing
an intricate symphony of wind chimes
rippling the sequestered night air.



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, March 27, 2020

Haiku by Stephen Toft

busy train station
an oak leaf stuck
to a commuter’s shoe



Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka." In 2018 Yavanika Press released his third collection “deer heart” as a free to download e-book.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Haiku by Stephen Toft

twilight deepens
the missing girl
still missing



Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka." In 2018 Yavanika Press released his third collection “deer heart” as a free to download e-book.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Haiku by Stephen Toft

night bath
my limbs become
continents



Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka." In 2018 Yavanika Press released his third collection “deer heart” as a free to download e-book.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Haiku by Stephen Toft

early autumn
her letter cool
to the touch



Stephen Toft is a poet and homelessness worker who lives in Lancaster, UK with his wife and their children. His first collection "the kissing bridge" was published by Red Moon Press in 2008 and in December 2016 Scars Publications released his chapbook "naming a storm: haiku and tanka." In 2018 Yavanika Press released his third collection “deer heart” as a free to download e-book.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Pomegranates by Don Thompson

Cracked and leathery pomegranates,
bloodless as mummy hearts.

The crop never gathered in,
but left to rot,
unwatered by a dry well…

You don’t want to look,
driving past: so many
ambitious schemes gone wrong,
yours among them.



Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at
www.don-e-thompson.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Birkenau (January 26, 1945) by John Valentine

Early evening shadows, the guards already gone. Streaks in

the setting sun through ashen wires of light. Silence of the

smoke. Down lines of flesh, eyes that seemed to ask and never

answer. A Kaddish drifting through the rows, murmured, not

forgotten. Something risen, like embers. Something shadowed,

the ragged armature once called men, skeletal, voices barely

there, rasping like hungry ghosts. Something twilit, nameless,

whispering in the wind. Spreading snow, relentless, freezing

round the fallen. The moon’s indifferent eye. Coldness grabbing

everywhere, wrapping round the rags. Far away stars, exhaustion.

The final prayers, hopeful. Nothing then, nothing but the stillness.



*Birkenau was liberated by Russian troops, January 27, 1945.




John Valentine lives and works in Savannah, GA.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Out of Reach by M.J. Iuppa

Someone gave us thirty feet of rope and said make something of it.
Make something of a rope that can hold a boat to its mooring—a rope
that’s hard to handle alone, but can be dragged, or hoisted overhead,
or thrown to the ground . . . Let’s do that— let’s throw the rope into
a wide circle & create a small pond frozen in winter. Let’s put on
skates and take turns around & around on cutting edges—breathless,
yet alive in the sound of seams shifting—no, no, splitting until we all
fall in—arms flailing for the rope that’s just out of reach. . . .

                                   Someone comes— someone we feared long ago.
We call out: Sister, save us! Her olive-pit eyes glare at us, at our absurdity,
our awkwardness revealed in mishap, as she fashions the rope into rescue,
pulling a string of us slippery fish— panting & flopping on the snow until
we’re still— every part of us frozen by her touch.



M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 31 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.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Abandoned Home at Sunset by John Grey

Window half-reflective,
garden gone wild,
antique fireplace ablaze
as light makes a wild,
uneven, uncomfortable line.

The candle power of fading sun
casts odd reflections in shattered chairs,
a derelict room
that doesn’t look like it ever was lived in.

Rusty oak door hinges,
paint flakes as dull as old orange pith,
dust motes, floating
or gathering on porcelain –
sunset makes strange choices.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in BluelineWillard and Maple and Clade Song.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Heart of Haiti by Lorri Ventura

His machete bobs lazily against his hip
As the old man shuffles up the mission house driveway
Hugging the armful of ungainly sticks he extends
As an offering to the woman who squats on the ground by the fire
Dreamily stirring a pot brimming with rice and melted peanuts drenched in tabasco sauce

His dusty pants are held up by a belt made from yellowed banana leaves
On his feet he wears tire treads duct-taped to mismatched socks
He bows as he accepts a bowl of food
In exchange for the spindly firewood

We offer him a bedroll, a steaming mug of Re-Bo coffee, and a place to sit
But he just smiles and shakes his head
Tapping the raggedy pillowcase slung over his shoulder
As it holds all of his possessions
He waves an arm toward the sky
Telling us that he has everything he needs in the world
Before he bows and takes his leave

Predictable as ocean tide
The gentleman’s silent appearance every day
As dinner is being served
Makes us smile
And wish that we could give him more

Deep down, though, we know
That already he has what makes him happy
Because he chooses to be happy with what he has.



Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator living in Massachusetts. She met the man featured in "Heart of Haiti" while on a recent service trip there.

Friday, March 6, 2020

4.26.19 / 8:06 a.m. / 48 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Prophesying the kind of joy that is yet to come, in
octaves that we can never hear, the cedar raises its
nubby arms into the rain falling on the pond with the sound of the
distant applause of other small voices barely heard but there.



John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and Sundowning. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, New York Quarterly, and others. John teaches at Manchester Community College in Connecticut.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

3.30.2019 / 8:51 a.m. / 44 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Plucked from their hangers, two suet feeders have vanished;
odd that they would remove the entire feeder, take it with them,
noshing through the grid for tiny a morsel of peanut butter mix,
daylilies sprouting, and still no heron, who came the first day then never again.



John L. Stanizzi’s books are Ecstasy Among Ghosts, Sleepwalking, Dance Against the Wall, After the Bell, Hallelujah Time!, High Tide – Ebb Tide, Four Bits, Chants, and Sundowning. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, American Life in Poetry, New York Quarterly, and others. John teaches at Manchester Community College in Connecticut.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Postcard Collection by Robert Demaree

1. 2003
A photo of a country tearoom,
Wenham, Mass.,
“Marjorie’s luncheon, June 7, 1923,”
She wrote, dark hand slanted,
Firm with authority.
I type a label for the hard plastic sleeve:
“Bought August 24, 2003,
Lee, New Hampshire,
40th wedding anniversary.
Drove along the Oyster River,
To a shore dinner at Dover Point,”
Lives now linked
For the consideration
Of the next collector.

2. 2014
It was one of those old albums
Where people would store
Souvenir Postcards from the past,
Yellowstone, Lincoln Park Zoo, 1910,
Streets in small Midwestern towns
Like the one where my father grew up.

We knew each other from
Collecting postcards, then poetry,
As friends and then neighbors.
So I thought the album
Must have been a find
From those antique shows
They used to love.
But the gift he brought me
Was a family piece,
A resident of closets and attics over time,
The world of Miss Millie Johns
Of Hobart, Indiana,
Passed on to Tom and now to me.
You can sell them, he told me.
I will not do that.
I will be the steward of
The memories of Millie Johns,
I will protect those messages
From careless eyes.

3. 2018
My collection of old postcards
Takes me back to places of fondness
And to others I have not been,
Often scenes with people
In the near ground.
Here is a beach view,
Rye, New Hampshire,
Young men with shirts on for
Swimming, apparel that dates them,
Long departed,
On another a man and his little girl.
He must have seen the photographer
And decided that though nameless
They would record themselves
Into a kind of perpetuity.
This is a town in the Finger Lakes.
Those look like ’50 model cars,
So the man is surely gone by now,
And the daughter, I’m guessing,
About my age.

4. 2020
Turrets. Lots of old postcards
With turrets, vintage 1910,
A bank in Buffalo,
Residential streets in Rust Belt towns,
Tastes of another time,
Popular for a while, then not,
Then briefly in vogue again.
Why am I drawn to this?
It comes back,
As of course it always does:
The corner grocery on King Street,
Between Gerry’s house and mine,
Where we would stop in late afternoon,
After a game of catch, or basketball,
One-against-one, the basket his prize
Mounted on the garage
Behind the house on High Street,
Sooty snow shoveled out of the way,
Chevy dealer next door,
His home, his father’s office,
Both of them cardiologists,
As it turned out,
Who smoked cigarettes.
There were turrets on the
Fine houses still left on High Street,
And on the little store
Where we’d get a cherry popsicle
And talk about the Phillies and the A’s
With Mr. Schneider
Whose family lived upstairs,
In the round room, we called it,
Over the Breyer’s ice cream sign.

Gerry died quite young.

We exchanged Christmas cards
And, toward the end,
An e-mail or two.
Mr. Schneider left no heirs.
I hardly get back
To Pennsylvania at all.
I guess they still make
Cherry popsicles.



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.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

This is not a poem... by Ann Gibaldi Campbell

about a dying cat.

The cat is lying on a towel
inside a closet full of coats.

(Now there’s a word to make us mind
grammar lessons from the past:

Yesterday I lay in bed
after I laid the cat down next to me).

But what’s this nonsense about verbs?
I’ve let myself become distracted

from the poem I am not writing.
While the little cat lies dying

I think about the lie that I will tell my son:
“Cats, like grandfathers, go to heaven.”

This is not
a poem about a dying cat.



Ann Gibaldi Campbell earned her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since then, she has taught at the secondary and post-secondary levels as well as worked in special education. She identifies as a teacher, a mentor, and a feminist.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

sharing a bottle of wine by J.J. Campbell

watched the snow
fall last night from
my bedroom window

thought of the christmas
we spent together years
ago

sharing a bottle of wine

laughing by the fire

wondering how long
until one of us makes
a move

i suppose my timing
has always sucked



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves yet managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, The Rye Whiskey Review and The Beatnik Cowboy. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

of a broken angel by J.J. Campbell

the soft curves
of a broken
angel

one of these
days

hopefully

she'll want
more than
just my

shoulder



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves yet managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, The Rye Whiskey Review and The Beatnik Cowboy. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com)