Friday, February 21, 2020

Cover Illustrations by John James Audubon by Martha Christina

On the front cover
of this small notebook
a Mourning Warbler
perches on the stem
of a red pheasant’s eye.

On the reverse
a Cerulean Warbler
clings to an unnamed
plant just above
the ISBN and barcode,
two 20th century features
that make it possible
for me to afford
Audubon illustrations.

I carried this notebook
to and from the hospital,
where I noted the name
and contact information
for the oncologist
my husband’s surgeon
recommended, and a list
of questions to ask
at the consultation.

It was normal for Audubon
to shoot and stuff his models;
species included in Birds of America
were plentiful; extinction far from his,
and his subscribers’ minds.

My husband’s oncologist
provided a treatment plan
that worked for four years.
That was the best he and
my husband’s body could do.

Six of the birds
Audubon rendered
are now extinct.

And, like the Carolina parakeet,
the passenger pigeon,
the Labrador duck,
the great auk,
the Eskimo curlew,
and the pinnated grouse,
my husband
is no longer sighted
in the places he loved.



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).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

While Cleaning Out a Closet by Eileen Curran-Kondrad

I came upon a picture of you
In a full page newspaper article about
The inn you and he bought together.
The two of you
Rolled up, laminated like a time capsule.

You were standing,
Smiling,
Gazing out of the picture
With your husband sitting down next to you.
Smiling even though you’d spent hours
Peeling shrimp because
He told you it was cheaper to buy it that way.
Tending bar until all hours of the night
Because he said it was cheaper that way.
Worrying about your children
Still in day care while
He was… God knows where.

When he was jailed
For drunk driving
He made you call his office
And lie.

You were still smiling until the day
He refused to stop for gas,
Though you pleaded
The children cried and
The car stalled
On the freeway.

You were stranded.
The needle on the gage
Was on empty and
You knew
It was over.



Eileen Curran-Kondrad is adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University. She has published in NEATE (The Journal of New England Association for Teachers of English), Folded Word, and Red Eft Review.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Still Life with Six Flowers, Three Apples, and a Pear by Jen Finstrom

          After Jane Hirschfield’s “It Was Like This: You Were Happy”

          It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
          or your days: they will be wrong
          -“It Was Like This: You Were Happy,” Jane Hirschfield

It was like this: you went away
to college, swore you wouldn’t
run around with boys or drink, and
then you did, almost immediately.
You swore you’d never get married,
and you did, though it improved
nothing in that relationship. After
your divorce, you swore you would
never date again, swore that you
were happy as you were, that you
were safe in your apartment filled
with books and art, with the calm
still life you gaze at from your bed
every night and morning: three yellow
daisies and three pink, three round apples,
one golden pear—all of the space here
taken up by you. Once you still hoped
to salvage things with your ex, and
you would ask him, “Safe?” and he
would answer but without the question
mark. It was like this: nothing at all
was ever safe, not then or now.



Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for thirteen years, and recent publications include Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and MockingHeart Review with work forthcoming in Thimble. Her work also appears in several Silver Birch Press anthologies. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Sea Change by Ivo Drury

we forswore the seaside
choosing an inland vacation
at the edge of a forest
no seabirds
though the killdear walk like them
and the breeze in the trees
are as incoming waves



A native of Ireland, Ivo Drury lives along the California coast where his view compensates for his fear of the Big One.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

What the Stars Knew by Steve Klepetar

          The stars know everything,
          So we try to read their minds.

          -Charles Simic

My grandmother climbed mountains,
my mother told me, the only woman

in a company of men. After climbing
all day, they had to leave their gear

and take cover from an avalanche.
“What if someone steals our stuff?”

she asked, and the guide
just looked at her and shook his head.

That night the stars, which know everything,
shone down with their silver light.

She was young then, and wondered
who her husband would be.

Of course the stars knew, but they kept silent,
spread out against the black sky.

They knew she would have two daughters,
and be unhappy with the man her father chose,

though he played piano well and was generous to a fault.
And the stars knew she would die a terrible death.

They knew her daughters would scatter
across the earth, have sons who would have sons.

All this the cold stars knew on that night swollen with silence and calm.



Steve Klepetar lives in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. His work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

the ghost, having risen by John Sweet

grey skies & temperature dropping,
smell of cut grass, screams of crows

are you sorry you
believe in motion?

are you frightened by
the idea of death?

at some point you’re old enough to
realize that no one
really wants to hear the truth

wake up tired, sore, depressed

this will be the day the
roof caves in

the day the child’s body is found in
a shallow grave in mexico

in upstate new york

and each story generates its own
insufficient heat, of course,
and we cannot help but be
burned by the light of the sun

not every story is meant
to make you smile

not every moment needs to be
weighted down by this
sense of failure

the god you love the most
will always be the one
who bleeds you dry in the end



John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications).

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Word Wonders by Richard Martin

          Out of this warm-toned horizon
          came the sound I‘d come to see:
          the distant silence of the woodcock.

          Mark Cocker

I often read a sentence and think,
I wish I had written that;
so a mere collection of words
sets a new thought alight to burn its way
into the very heart of some truth or other.

Outside my window the motionless trees
speak of the silence they help me to see,
while a solitary prayer of smoke rises
from an invisible chimney,
wordlessly yet eloquent.

It doesn‘t take much to stimulate the mind –
here a word, there an image
can work miracles: change water
into wine, make the blind see –
the seeds of awakening belief.



Richard Martin is an English writer who lives in the Netherlands close to the point where Belgium, Germany and Holland meet. After retiring as a university teacher in Germany, he turned his attention to writing, and has published three collections of poetry and numerous poems in magazines in England, the US, and Austria. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Morning Light by Steven Croft

Walking out after my island’s wettest December day
on record, rain drip sounds more slow-footed since dawn,
I pass the tin-roofed boat shed to push aside wet branches
of camellias and azaleas looking for my outdoor cats.
Drops of water glisten on high pines in rising sunlight. Birds sing.
Squirrels chatter. I lift the sharp smell of sap to my nose
after reaching down to toss aside a broken pine bough.

Looking down, I’m stopped by the opened bivalve of deer tracks
like tiny angel’s wings imprinted in the soggy dirt of the path.
Sometime during the rain my neighborhood’s rarest visitor,
pushed out by every new house to wooded bogs
around undevelopable marsh,
graced my yard.



Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He has recent poems in Sky Island Journal, As It Ought to Be Magazine, Poets Reading the News, So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday, and San Pedro River Review.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Azaleas by Steven Croft

There is that spot on the main road to my house
that changes in spring, changes everything. Just
as winter ends it will call me from my thoughts
at night, bordered like a parade route with azalea
blooms -- just between the Mission style Catholic
church and the senior care center my grandmother
walked home from one night before she died,
waiting for the door to open, just the right moment,
they did not even know she was gone when I took
her back. It was a night like this and I think of her
every time there are the azaleas, her sudden
strong grip on me when I left her. On these nights,
the principled resistance to joy, all the world’s
deep unfortunate things, lessen, are instantly
vestigial, the world forever, tonight, an easy breath,
a blessing.



Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He has recent poems in Sky Island Journal, As It Ought to Be Magazine, Poets Reading the News, So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday, and San Pedro River Review.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Haiku by George Held

Canada geese fly
past the Siberian elm –
migrants all



George Held is a prolific writer of haiku and has published them in Red Eft Review, the Aurorean, Blogfinger.com, bear creek haiku, and elsewhere. His latest book is Second Sight (Poets Wear Prada, 2019).

Monday, January 20, 2020

Thief by Howie Good

A thieving squirrel defies
the squirrel-proof bird feeder,
clinging to it upside down,
arrogant tail waving off cardinals
and black-capped chickadees,
until just this little snippet
of a story is all that’s left.



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.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Gnarled by Katherine Carlman

scent from fallen apples: heady and sweet
wafted an open invitation, but this fruit,
like that in the first garden, was

diseased, never sprayed, insect
infested, contorted into strange shapes,
speckled with bad spots and rust;

these apples dropped the way they grew,
messy, without regard for order
Do not eat them; John does not spray.

even in spring, newborn and full of hope,
not yet marred, still tiny and perfect,
the same warning was delivered

with blossoms pure and white, pink hinting,
fruit grew green, firm; temptation lurked
yet, like every year, the fruit fell, spoiled

uneaten, wasted; worms, ants, and honeybees
imbibed nectar late in autumn on afternoons
so warm they should’ve been called summertime



Katherine Carlman lives in California with her family and spends an inordinate amount of time commuting on the PCH. Her poetry has been published by Adelaide Literary Review, Wilderness House, and Inciting Sparks, among other publications. Her play, The Sixth Station, is published by Samuel French.

Friday, January 10, 2020

tried to be serious by J.J. Campbell

her laughter used
to fill this room

she laughed anytime
i tried to be serious
about anything

death, money, love,
disease, politics,
religion

in hindsight

i should have been
laughing as well



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know better. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Yellow Mama, Chiron Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, Under The Bleachers, Synchronized Chaos and Cajun Mutt Press. You can find him daily on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Thursday, January 9, 2020

in the dead of the night by J.J. Campbell

i never get used to
the longing

the ache

the desire for just
a touch

a glance, a fading
smile in the dead
of the night

where a hello would
get me through days
on end

i put flowers on her
grave each week

yellow roses

with a little poem to
get lost in the wind



J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know better. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Yellow Mama, Chiron Review, Horror Sleaze Trash, Under The Bleachers, Synchronized Chaos and Cajun Mutt Press. You can find him daily on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (
https://evildelights.blogspot.com)

Sunday, January 5, 2020

4.23.19 / 7:52 a.m. / 54 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Praising the spring, the rains, the heavy clouds, the chipping sparrow,
orator of the morning, sings and sings. The ground is covered with the
nightshift workers’ mounds, industry of nightcrawlers and ants, and the bittercress,
diminutive beauty, turned its lights on overnight, and left them on.



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 newest collection, Sundowning, just out with Main Street Rag. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rust & Moth, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, Third Wednesday, and many others. John's creative non-fiction has been featured in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, and Adelaide. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. John's 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. 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. John is a former New England Poet of the Year, and teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT where he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry. http://www.johnlstanizzi.com

Friday, January 3, 2020

4.4.2019 / 7:28 a.m. / 37 degrees by John L. Stanizzi

Pond-skater – just one – its four legs, thin as lashes, rest on the water,
oblong indentations on the pond, and three tiny water-spiders, small brown
nymphettes half the size of your pinkie-nail, chase each other over the algae as,
dashed by the wind, the pond shimmers, though here at my feet it is still.




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 newest collection, Sundowning, just out with Main Street Rag. His poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rust & Moth, American Life in Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Paterson Literary Review, Blue Mountain Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, Connecticut River Review, Hawk & Handsaw, Third Wednesday, and many others. John's creative non-fiction has been featured in Stone Coast Review, Ovunque Siamo, and Adelaide. His work has been translated into Italian and appeared in many journals in Italy. John's 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. 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. John is a former New England Poet of the Year, and teaches literature at Manchester Community College in Manchester, CT where he lives with his wife, Carol, in Coventry.
http://www.johnlstanizzi.com

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Day After by Ben Rasnic

The iridescent
Christmas tree lights
still glisten, mirroring
points of lights
in each polished hanging ornament.

All the pretty packages
scattered underneath
have vanished,
as well the joyful noises
that echoed from these vaulted walls.

Soon I will dismantle
each diagrammed section
of faux evergreen
& return it to its original carton
to be stored for another year.

Until then                                 
I will immerse in the peaceful
shimmering lights dancing
in the multi-colored array
of glass baubles & silver garland

& for tonight at least
I will find peace
& contentment
and raise a toast to this sanctuary
I call home.



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.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Wrecking Ball by John Grey

Heavy equipment closes in on the mansion.
No one has lived in it for ten years.
The owner died waiting for a heart transplant.
His trophy wife moved to Florida
with her personal trainer boyfriend.
The two kids from his first marriage
have no attachment to it.
Nor have they money for the upkeep.
They’re barely getting by.

The birds nesting in the eaves
will have to find new homes.
Same with the rats in the basement.
And the painting on the wall
of the family patriarch
from three generations back
will end up in the dumpster,
joining what’s left of the money he made
at the turn of the last century.

A giant silver ball
smashes into the second floor.
Once. Twice. Three times.
Walls cave in.
Floors collapse.
It’s all over within the hour.
It crushed the house.
It did a bang-up job on the family.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in That, Dalhousie Review and North Dakota Quarterly with work upcoming in Qwerty, Chronogram and failbetter.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Electric Bakery, Park Falls, WI by Fredric Hildebrand

Tonight I wonder about
the woman who used to visit

the bakery before the mill
closed, the bakery with it.

She picked her way down the cracked
sidewalk with her cane, same time

every morning. Her husband
loved crullers,
the clerk said,

offering me a Bismarck instead.
We save the last one for her.



Fredric Hildebrand is a retired physician living in Neenah, WI. His poetry has appeared in Art Ascent, Bramble, Millwork, Tigershark, and Verse-Virtual. He received the Mill Prize for Poetry Honorable Mention Award in both 2017 and 2018. When not writing or reading, Frederic plays acoustic folk guitar and explores the Northwoods with his wife and two Labrador retrievers.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Flyway by Robert Demaree

1.
I told myself I would not write
A poem about not writing poems.
Well into my 82nd year
I have seen most of what I
Expect to see,
No need to pretend, like Monet,
That each angle of the sun
On the bird feeder is different.
And yet:
I am right—that is a woodpecker,
Gray stripe up his back.
My wife will look to see what kind—
Hairy, downy, pileated,
An attention to detail
That has served us well
These many years.
By the shore the kingfisher
Awaits his prey, built to disdain
The food we have set out,
Unaware that his name
Puts us in mind of
That old radio show—
Not curious at all, is it,
How what was thought funny then
Seems disgraceful now.

2.
By this time in August
The blackbirds have gone,
We don’t know where.
Not missed, they eat
More than their share,
The flash of red what makes them
Less objectionable than grackles.
It is breeding time for the goldfinches,
Their young, lots of them,
In bright yellow swarms at the feeder.
Are their parents fearful,
Are they anxious about leaving home?

The sign at the town high school
Says “Freshman Jumpstart” this morning.
There will be 14-year-olds
Worried about their attire,
Will someone sit with them at lunch?
I supervised days like this
For many years
And think it just as well
That someone else
Does it now
While I fill the birdfeeders.

3.
The new book of poems
Has a blue heron on the cover.
Across the pond at Golden Pines
I can see two of them,
One metal, one real,
One resting, just landed,
The other a work of someone’s hand,
Beyond the trees I spot
A Fedex cargo plane
Making its approach with enormous slowness,
And I can picture the C-5A,
How it hangs in the heat of late afternoon,
Against a round low sun over Cobb County,
In Georgia, in 1968.
This plane would carry materiel
To troops in places where they will die.
In Kroger’s the wives of British engineers
Complain of being sent home.
The C-5A shares with the blue heron
A grace of hugeness and slowness,
If not of intent.
We have watched it from test flight
To obsolescence
And then to emerge from mothballs,
Things we’d as soon not know,
Poems written and forgotten.



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.