Monday, June 1, 2020

Anything but "Wonderwall" by Alexandra Grunberg

You sound like a bad decision
but at least you aren’t singing “Wonderwall”
I always was a sucker for talent
and a smile that might turn mean

You shouldn’t be taking this as a compliment
or an invitation, as much as a self-condemnation
but if you ask, “who wants to hear another”
don’t pay attention when I roll my eyes

Alexandra Grunberg is a Glasgow based poet, author, and screenwriter. Her poetry has been published in Honey & Lime and From Glasgow to Saturn. She is a postgraduate student in the DFA in Creative Writing programme at the University of Glasgow. You can learn more at her website,

Sunday, May 31, 2020

A Raven-haired Public Librarian by Richard Weaver

debates the merits of destroying
certain books whose read-by dates
expired decades ago, versus sending them
to long-term storage where loneliness
will certainly cause their broken spines,
and chemically darkened and brittle pages
to languish and long for death by bookworm,
all-consuming fire, or flood, anything
but a 60-watt limbo. She pauses mid-thought
before answering a question the Reference
Librarian should have answered, had he come
to work sober. Her answer is exact and Dewey
decimally precise, but clearly mystifies the patron
who eyes show fear-tinged with ignorance.
A quick floor map decorated with bread crumbs
in red ink, restores what passes for normal.
Her debate continues, though she shows already
that she cannot abandon the books to the remote
hands of uncaring book dealers, or allow them
to be pulped. She knows they will linger, unread,
unloved, in partial light, and after-hours darkness.
She admits her passive role in their slow disintegration,
little suspecting that her early retirement papers
have been signed and processed by Senior Management.

Richard Weaver lives in Baltimore where he volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and is the poet-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. Recent pubs: Free State Review, Mad Swirl, Spank the Carp, Triggerfish, and Loch Raven Review. He is the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992), and provided the libretto for a symphony, Of Sea and Stars, 2005, performed 4 times to date.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Weathering This by M.J. Iuppa

No clouds to speak of— sky, so bright
a blue, that I had to look down as I hiked
along the road’s soft shoulder, skirting
bundles of brush left for pick up, and I
spied a small nest in a severed branch
still budding; and beneath it, a robin’s
egg, lying cracked open on soft grass, so
bright a blue, that I had to stop & look
closely, hoping for the light touch of
a bird’s shadow gliding overhead
like an unexpected cloud.

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: for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Eden, Rising by M.J. Iuppa

Breathing deeply— scent of perfect
weather—unexpected flood of sun on

every blade of grass, on upturned rocks
in newly-plowed fields, on apple blossoms

bumping in fevered heartbeats— music
of drunken bees, dipping tongues in deep

pockets of nectar that only a chosen few
have tasted before pink petals blow away

like confetti into the restless wind— wishes
of health & happiness sealed in apple

buds swelling in silence as summer comes
on with long hours and ginger sunsets and

evenings that take their time to cool well
past midnight, well past sitting side by

side on this wooden porch where
we look at the orchard that has

always been our Eden, rising
in moonlight.

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: for her musings on writing, sustainability & life’s stew.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Black Spring by Howie Good

Every day now
the Church of Holy Despondency
gathers converts,
flowers of black mold, too,
rubble everywhere,
barely a place left
to sit quietly and think,
the sun reverberating
like a golden gong,
and traitorous lawyers
in red power ties
and American flag lapel pins
making a criminal
of every growing thing.

Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and Unlost.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Alone Now by Carolynn Kingyens

for a moment,
a gang
of brown bulls
raging down
the narrowest street
in Spain –
going ‘round
gouging groins
with devilish horns –
witnesses wincing
at the sight.

for a moment,
being trapped
on a long flight
to Tibet;
a kind stranger
in the seat beside you –
who never shuts up.

By the fifth hour,
your neck begins
to hurt from all
that nodding.

Your normally
warm, genuine
smile begins to
take on the slight,
crazed smirk
of a serial killer’s.

for a moment,
an insomniac
who tells time
by the stations
of the moon;
by shadows
and streetlights.

for a moment,
your head
in your hands.

for a moment,
your shoulders
shaking in grief.

for a moment,
an invisible Jesus
sitting in the empty chair
beside you.

What am I going to do?
You ask Him.

The house –
quiet as a tomb.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut poetry collection —
Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books, 2020) — is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at several independent bookstores in NYC. Today, Carolynn lives in New York City with her husband of 20 years, two beautiful, kind daughters, a sweet rescue dog, and a very old, chill cat.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Annalee by Ben Rasnic

Anointed at birth
with a name
inspired by Poe’s
“Annabelle Lee”

my grandmother always maintained
a certain dignity, devoted
wife and caretaker
of farm and family
without complaint,

from gathering kindling
for the fireplace
to fence out the cold

to corralling the cattle
into the cherry red barn
where, once settled,
she would milk the cows

while singing “I’ll Fly Away”
in a lilting comforting aria
as unpasteurized spurts splashed
into the battered rusty metal bucket,

a prelude to down home meals
she always cooked from scratch,
passing along
her quirky colloquialisms

& southern slang
such as
“cute as a bug’s ear”
or “It doesn’t amount
to a hill of beans”

to anyone who listened
while muttering
a couple of syllables
beneath her breath
to no one
in particular…………

And now on the cusp
of 66 years,
I have acquired
some of those quirky
I laughed at
as a child

& quite honestly become annoyed
upon discovering it merged
with my routine behavior.

Yet now I embrace
each memory of her
which keeps her alive
some 28 years later

& whenever I fix a problem
or consider a completed
task well done

find myself
“Mm, hmm.”

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

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Telethon 2020 by Ben Rasnic

The airwaves
& chat rooms
have become inundated
with telethon like
digital updates
only now
deaths not

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Four Dogs by Elise Hempel

One was terrified by fireworks,
trembling, hiding behind the TV,
another by thunder – a hundred pounds
in my lap at the first faint crack.
While the third, immune to both
the Fourth of July and spring's turbulence,
would bark at the mailman, this stranger each day,
and every passing car.

This silent new one, the only dog now
in an emptying house, follows me
all day from room to room, attached
by choice to an invisible leash,
this one who doesn't talk or sing
at the whine of a siren, more human somehow
than the others before him, mostly afraid
of being alone.

Elise Hempel's poems have appeared in numerous journals over the years, as well as in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry. She has three chapbooks, and her full-length collection of poems, Second Rain, was published by Able Muse Press in 2016. She lives in central Illlinois.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Nantucket by Carolynn Kingyens

I cannot find
the synonym
for strange,
or stranger still;
the synonym
for misery,
the dampest
place on earth:
in November,
when the cold,
coastal rain
causes the dullest
of aches
deep in the bones
no fire –
real or imagined
can quell.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut poetry collection —
Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books, 2020) — is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at several independent bookstores in NYC. Today, Carolynn lives in New York City with her husband of 20 years, two beautiful, kind daughters, a sweet rescue dog, and a very old, chill cat.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Do You Get Depressed? by Robert Cooperman

Two weeks after your mother fell—
trying to climb a stepladder
for something on a high shelf
she could’ve waited for you to hand her
when you’d stop by after work,
a shattered hip for her impatience—
the physical therapist asked,

“Do you get depressed?”

“I get disgusted,” she stared so hard
at the young man she could’ve drilled
a hole in his head,” you tell me in emails.

You wonder how much more disgusted
she’d be in our pandemic, the president
she refused to vote for, a vicious Elmer Fudd.

The first time you visited her in the hospital,
she had the TV on, to one of his campaign rallies,
shaking her fist: thin and frail
as mouse bones, the rage of a grizzly bear.

“Mom,” you reasoned, “why do you subject
yourself to his loathsome nonsense?”

“Disgust,” she answered, “the more
disgusted I get, the more I know I’m alive.”

“If she were still here,” you sadly quip,
“she’d be running disgusted marathons.”

I can all-but-see-you take a pull on your beer,
after raising the bottle to her memory.

Robert Cooperman's latest collection is The Ghosts and Bones of Troy (Kelsay Books). Forthcoming from Finishing Line Press is the chapbook All Our Fare-Thee-Wells.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

I Never Covered Your Ears by Christopher Lettera

I never palmed the sides of your head
the way my father held my mother’s,
kneeling before her loveseat to say,
“I love you.” I just said it every time

I left your place and sometimes out of
nowhere for good measure – the middle
of the night, your form curled into mine,
and always then you would return the

syllables, but not anymore, and now that
my cat bookmark is done getting lost in
your bed sheets and you’ve left me for an
angry white rapper, I say it stupidly, still,

in remembrance, unmuted: “I loved you.”

Christopher Lettera teaches poetry writing and fiction writing at Youngstown State University. His poetry has appeared in 4th and Sycamore and The Drabble. His fiction has appeared in Crack the Spine, Jersey Devil Press, Literary Orphans, and Postcard Shorts. He has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

On the Day You Were Born by Rick Swann

          for Sylvie

I would like to say that whales
cavorted in the sea outside
our window, that vast flocks
of birds filled the skies
and that the sunrise
was the most glorious ever.
For me, maybe it was.
Up before light with the news
of your birth, I watched clouds
tinge pink on the edges
as the sun rose behind the ridge.
To the south, beyond
where the ferries cross
mist hovered just above
the water veiling any thought
of land. The mist glowed
with the palest of colors.

Rick Swann is a former elementary school librarian and a member of the Greenwood Poets. His book of linked poems Our School Garden! was awarded the Growing Good Kids Book Award from the American Horticultural Society.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Homecoming by Jennifer Lagier

          “What a long time the place was empty even in my sleep.” — W.S. Merwin

Dreams return me to the rose-entwined porch
of a forgotten seaside bungalow
sandwiched between steepled Victorians,
white clapboard womb with baby blue shutters.

Purple morning glories wind themselves
from crumbly soil to shingled roof.
Green runners clutch aluminum rain spout,
sticky leprechaun fingers.

Pink and lavender hydrangeas
form an eclectic pointillist mural,
mingle with fiery marigolds,
creamy foxgloves, cobalt lobelia.

A gray tabby cat purrs me
over a welcoming threshold.
Within the serene kitchen, I take root,
brew a fragrant pot of Moroccan mint tea.

Jennifer Lagier has published seventeen books and in a variety of anthologies and literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, edits the Monterey Review, helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Recent publications: Harbinger Asylum, The Rockford Review, Syndic Literary Journal, From Everywhere A Little: A Migration Anthology, Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, Missing Persons: Reflections on Dementia, Silent Screams: Poetic Journeys Through Addiction and Recovery. Newest books: Camille Mobilizes (FutureCycle Press), Trumped Up Election (Xi Draconis Books), and Dystopia Playlist (CyberWit).

Monday, May 11, 2020

End Times by Charles Rammelkamp

About six or eight weeks
into the pandemic lockdown –
time has lost its edge,
like a dull lawnmower blade
plowing ineffectually through grass –
I read in the daily almanac on the internet
it was the date on which both
Shakespeare and Cervantes died in 1616 –
though one was in the Gregorian calendar,
the other in the older Julian calendar.
End of an era in literature.

I thought of this
on our daily social-distancing walk when
I noticed the handles of the graffiti artists,
one someone who signed him-
or herself “Plush,” another “Drool,”
their colorful slogans sprayed
in bright dayglo comic-strip colors
across bridges, walls, park benches,
and I felt like we were living
through a sort of Clockwork Orange apocalypse,
tilting at windmills, wondering if the question
really was to be or not to be.

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Me and Sal Paradise, was published last year by FutureCycle Press. Two full-length collections are forthcoming in 2020, Catastroika, from Apprentice House, and Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Intruders by Matthew Andrews

Daytime moon
against a blue-
harmony sky. Below:
two mallards, lovers,
skid to rest on an otherwise
placid lakebed, sending
ripples that nip like
guard dogs at our
trespassing toes.

Based in Modesto, California, Matthew Andrews is a full-time private investigator and part-time journalist, writer, and poet. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in pacificREVIEW, Deep Wild Journal, Song of the San Joaquin, and Eunonia Review, among others.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Revival by Carolynn Kingyens

I remember the big top –
the big, white tent
we could eye
from as far
as Knights Road;
me in the middle seat
of my father’s black, 70’s Buick,
on the lap of one
of my older siblings –
a hard stop
away from going
through the windshield.

The big top had been
a mirage though –
No circus.
No bag of peanuts.
No fire-eaters.
No pungent smell
of elephant dung.

Instead this big top
was erected for Northeast
tent-revival –
some of that old time religion;
to induce the fear of God;
shake up the complacent life.

I still recall
those scary sermons
on the plagues –
the loud locusts;
the bloody Nile;
the death of Egypt’s
beloved, first-born sons,
including Pharaoh’s own.

On the last night,
the preacher’s sermon
turned to the plagues
to come, “end times” –
Wars and rumors of wars.

As in the days of Noah.

40 years after the big top revival,
and 102 years after the Spanish flu,
COVID-19 plagues the planet
like an ominous shadow
in the shadows.

People are dying alone.

People are slowly drowning
from a build-up of fluid
in their lungs,
an immune response
called ‘cytokine storm.’

People are dying horrible deaths.

I see no big top in the distance,
only white, refrigerated trucks
and the vultures circling above –
this time, it’s no mirage.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut poetry collection —
Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books, 2020) — is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at several independent bookstores in NYC. Today, Carolynn lives in New York City with her husband of 20 years, two beautiful, kind daughters, a sweet rescue dog, and a very old, chill cat.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Laughing Gulls by Jean Ryan

You hear them first,
their raucous chatter somewhere in the sky.
When you finally do spot them, if you do,
you cannot believe the distance.
Laughing gulls, they are called,
and flying, feeding, or resting,
they cackle on;
we have not learned why.

Meanwhile, down below,
in a rotting log, in a clutter of leaves,
at the ominous edge of a small dark hole,
something tender dies.
It's murder, really:
the spreading mold,
the creeping caterpillar,
the terrible flash of fangs.
This is, after all, God's country—
without thorns or poison or scales,
only luck will save you.

"Have a blessed day," folks say,
the words a shield against harm.
God is great. Pray anyway.

Up in the clouds,
high as angels,
the gulls laugh on.
It probably isn't personal.

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize, she has also published a novel, Lost Sister. Her debut collection of short stories, Survival Skills, was published by Ashland Creek Press and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Lovers and Loners, her second story collection, was published in 2017. Her collection of nature essays, Strange Company, is available in digital form, paperback and audio.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Rest by Amanda Laughtland

I like to lie down on my couch
with clean laundry and the noise
of heat flowing through the vents,
my favorite noise next to your voice
on the telephone when I’ve been sleeping
and have forgotten how close
you can sound when your words
fit right up against my thoughts
with a silent click like the pieces
of a well-made puzzle, no need
to force anything into place.

Amanda Laughtland is the author of Postcards to Box 464 (Bootstrap Press). Her poems have appeared most recently in The Seattle Star. She teaches English at Edmonds Community College and enjoys making zines and paper collages.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Breakfast at Eats by Laura Winkelspecht

Eats has a counter
with stools sprouting along one side,

stainless steel stems with red vinyl blossoms,
and tables waffle-ironed into rows.

The breakfast special—
two eggs, bacon or sausage,

hash browns and toast—
will run you six bucks or less.

Through the pick-up window,
underpaid cooks sweat

over sausage and Denver omelets,
telling stories that start with, “Me and …”

and always end with “Wha!”
The waitress wears an apron with pockets,

hoping her tips incubate like Joeys,
and mature into grocery money

by the end of the week.
With pencils in her ponytail,

she carries overloaded plates
balanced across one arm

to gray-haired men in baseball caps.
The dishwasher’s cousin pushes

the charity of a bottomless cup
to small-town extremes

while he sits with a newspaper,
coffee rings circling unread ads.

The clink of spoons against cups
punctuates conversations

with an uneven syncopation.
The neon sign in the window

blinks its modest promise:

Laura Winkelspecht is a poet and writer from Wisconsin who writes with the hope of finding lightning among the lightning bugs. She has been published in Anti-Heroin Chic, One Sentence Poems, Rat’s Ass Review, Poets Reading the News, and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee.