Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wolf, Wildlife Refuge by Joe Cottonwood

Gandy the tawny wolf picks me
from a crowd of gawkers at the fence,
leans in sniffing, studying. Gus the keeper says
Gandy’s keying on your aftershave.
Nope. I’m gray-bearded, unshaven.

I ask if Gandy is an old wolf.
You’re very perceptive, Gus says.
Nope. Saw it in his stiff movements. Like mine.

I seem the only one engaging Gus or Gandy
while spectators aim phones, capturing us
in digital cages.

Gus says wolves can smell cancer or arthritis,
helps them select which moose
to cull from the herd.

Gus says Gandy still acts like
the alpha wolf, hates competition.
They keep him penned separately
so no one gets mauled.

Gandy steps to the fence.
From his throat, a low growl.
Like an anvil, the snout.
My joints ache.
And Gandy stares at me. Hard.

Joe Cottonwood is a carpenter by day, writer by night. Self-taught in each. His most recent book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Way I Knew Him (1944) by Antoni Ooto

You could say I knew him by
his way of leaning into the path.

He saw the ruts
and chose to step into them.

Never complained about mud,
a fallen tree, or war left in his path.

And I watched, following his courage,
never really knowing him at all.

Antoni Ooto is a poet and flash fiction writer and has been a frequent contributor to Palettes and Quills, An Upstate of Mind, Amethyst Review, Front Porch Review, Young Ravens Literary Review, and Ink Sweat & Tears. He lives and works in upstate New York with his wife writer/storyteller Judy DeCroce.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

December 7, 1941 by Judy DeCroce

After that, safety fell off,
there was no before.
It was just now.
And the now filled all the spaces.

What we were doing gained importance
as a memory of a moment.
The change shivered through us,
and them,
and all that was.

Far away…
but not far away, an impossibility

Sounds blackened clocks,
war closed the minutes, the hours.

Fear found us
watching the radio.

Judy DeCroce, a former teacher, is a poet/flash fiction writer who has been a frequent contributor to Palettes and Quills. Also published in An Upstate of Mind, Amethyst Review, Front Porch Review as well as Writers & Books. She is a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre. Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband, writer Antoni Ooto.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Listening by B. S. Dixon

your words
broke somewhere
in the space
between us.

I have
done my best
to make sense
of the pieces.

B. S. Dixon is working on his first poetry collection, "Outreach," about his work with the homeless population in Boston, MA. His work has most recently been printed in Poem Wars and Boston Literary Magazine.

Friday, November 2, 2018

sunday drive by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

I had seen and heard
it all
with three older sisters
every seven days
a mini Armageddon

mom, dressed in her best
riding shotgun

those sunday morning drives
the half dozen blocks from
home to church

the shrieks and wails
the gnashing of teeth
the thanking God we were
finally in the parking lot

Wanda Morrow Clevenger lives in Hettick, IL. Over 500 pieces of her work appear in 163 print and electronic journals and anthologies. The first of a 5-volume chapbook series young and unadorned – where the hogs ate the cabbage (Volume 1) is available through Writing Knights Press. If you would like to check it out, click here.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Common and Proper Nouns by Martha Christina

My neighbors return from
their walk around the block.
He’s 92, she’s 87.

In spite of his sciatica
he walks with her. Last
week she wasn’t sure
which way to turn, but
made the right guess.

Tonight he’ll fix the pasta
dish they both like, though
he can’t remember what
it’s called. And as they eat,
they’ll ask each other
names they used to know
of people, places, and things.

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 31, 2018

Gizmo by Martha Christina

It promised
to replicate
the language
of a house finch.

Envious of my friends
who couldn’t use their
front door until a brood
fledged from a wreath
of faux forsythia, I
wanted to call a pair
to nest in the wisteria.

Two twists and a half, clockwise,
countered by two turns in reverse.

Whatever I said,
the finches
settled elsewhere,
and there were

no returns.

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 30, 2018

At the Concert by Martha Christina

In the back row
the couple
who recently
lost a daughter
to suicide
leans away
from each other.

He thinks:
If this music
were a CD,
I would
turn it off,
go outside,
rake leaves.

He notices
his wife’s
quiet sobbing,
but doesn’t
move closer.

The Fauré,
like grief,
goes on
and on.

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, October 29, 2018

Letter to an Old Friend by C.C. Russell

When we were young
we were willing to try,

to do

How did we end up living

such ordinary

C.C. Russell has worked many jobs in his life – everything from hotel air conditioner repair to retail management with stops along the way like dive bar 80s night DJ. His writing can be found online and in print. You can follow him on Twitter @c_c_Russell.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Memory Gardens by Ben Rasnic

In 1978 my father bought me
a ‘75 Chevy Nova
when my Pontiac Lemans
succumbed to poor craftsmanship
and consequently found exile
in the local junkyard.

Parked in my parents’ unpaved driveway,
that first night we scrutinized
each particular feature of this icon,
smoking Salems, drinking beer and listening
to Virginia Tech football
on the radio.

This moment resurfaced tonight
while alone, scanning
each accessory & function of this 2015
Nissan Frontier parked
in my freshly paved driveway;

not oblivious to the fact
that no one buys Chevy Novas
or listens to football games
on the radio

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.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Boat Lies by Diane Webster

The overturned boat lies
forgotten in the grass
expecting mist to rise,
to thicken, to conceal
like spring runoff filled lake
bulging at shores,
tickling boat planks,
rippling back and forth
in lullaby mesmerism
by currents of wind,
floating on dreams
that by sunrise
someone will desire
a sail above fishes.

Diane Webster grew up in Eastern Oregon before she moved to Colorado. She enjoys drives in the mountains to view all the wildlife and scenery and takes amateur photographs. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Eunoia Review, Better Than Starbucks, and other literary magazines.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

looking for something better by J.J. Campbell

i am in love with a
woman that wishes
i wasn't

she constantly 
reminds me that
she's looking for
something better

i know she will
eventually find it

for now, i can
still dream that 
the impossible
has a chance

loneliness will
reclaim her space

as my only constant

J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is currently trapped in the suburbs, wondering where all the lonely housewives have gone. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at The Dope Fiend Daily, Lucidity Poetry Journal, Horror Sleaze Trash, Academy of the Heart and Mind and The Rye Whiskey Review. His most recent chapbook, the taste of blood on christmas morning, was published by Analog Submission Press. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

(Sun)flowers by M.J. Iuppa

Along our split rail fence, sunflowers grow
into a free-standing crowd: their heads, large

and small, turn to follow the sun’s waning
light. Swaying in the constant shift of

air, in this perfect weather, their beauty
becomes my held breath.

                                   Watching them, I
can’t help myself; I sway too. My arms

float over my head; my upturned face
eclipsed by shadows unfolding

like bolts of cloth, ready
to wrap around me, once

and forever.

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

that summer by John Sweet

the story that tracy tells, how she
was molested by her mother’s boyfriend,
or the story that cheryl tells, how she
was raped by her stepfather, and the days just
coming at us straight between the eyes,
one after the other

the nights splitting open like
overripe corpses

all of us waking up from half-remembered
nightmares, never quite sure
whose bed we’re in

John Sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living. A believer in writing as catharsis. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties. His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and the limited edition chapbooks HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A BASTARD CHILD IN THE KINGDOM OF NIL (2018 Analog Submission Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Haiku by George Held

Leaves yellowing
on the Siberian elm –
soon a Hudson view

A ten-time Pushcart nominee, George Held publishes regularly in zines like Red Eft Review, Home Planet News Online, and Transference. He writes from NYC.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

October Somewhere Else by Robert Demaree

The trees are turning here—
Yellow, orange, gold,
But it's not New Hampshire.
I picture the secret red
Of the maple at the water’s
Edge, where the dock should be.
A couple passes slowly in a kayak.
I’m guessing they have been in love,
This trip her gesture
Toward reconciliation.
They pause to consider the dock,
Winched up onto the shore
For the winter, the empty cottage,
The wisp of clothes line
Left knotted to a slender birch,
By which we mean them
To understand
We will be coming back.

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. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Not Our Wagtail by Richard Martin

          Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
          And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out.

          John Clare

In white shirt-front and black waistcoat, he certainly is nimble ,
strutting business-like over the rocks by the pool –
but he's far too correct and trim to waddle anywhere,
the elegant avian version of the city gent.

I think of him as our wagtail, in that possessive way
we talk about our oak, our weeds, our flowers --
so we go on imposing ourselves upon nature,
rather than seeing ourselves as just part of the scene.

Maybe we should think of our garden as a delightful
and varied community of living beings, where we share
air and light, sun and moon, with ants and mice,
dandelions and dragonflies, and indeed with wagtails.

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.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Night Sweats by Ben Rasnic

Can’t recall
what was playing in my head
just before waking
only that when I did,
I was drenched in a feverish surge
of cold sweat
& the thermostat
read 68 degrees,

kind of like
when I was in school,

would always miss the days
everybody kept talking about.

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.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

On the occasion of buying a used copy of my own damn book by Janette Schafer

Reasons why you should not Google yourself:
My book was on Amazon marked,
“Used. Good Condition.” I decided to buy it.
Arriving media mail, it pleased me
that it was read; pages were dog-eared,
a poem "Sanctuary" highlighted in orange,
and the name of the most recent owner
in pristine cursive on the first page.

The first owner was Susan—
I had signed that it was lovely
to meet her and her husband.
To Louis, the second owner with
the beautiful signature, I am glad
my words were with you for this long while,
and pained that you decided to let them go.

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, part-time rocker, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, PA. Her play "Mad Virginia" was the winner of the 2018 Pittsburgh Original Short Play Series. Recent and upcoming publications of her writing and photographs include: Watershed Journal; Yes Ma'am Zine; Eunoia Review; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology; and Unlikely Stories V. She is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Chatham University.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Domestic Violence by Lorri Ventura

Daddy shot the family dog
Because it looked at him the wrong way

Mommy’s ribs
Like two rows of broken wishbones
In the x-ray

Shut up, little girl, and swallow the Benadryl
So you can sleep through the yelling
Fifty-five years later
Oral meds still taste like terror and rage

Those are just baby teeth
It’s okay that Daddy knocked them out
You’ll grow new ones
And he had a hard day at work
Poor Daddy

Daddy’s handgun lived on the hutch
Always oiled
Always loaded
Often brandished in our faces
To keep us in our places

Pray, sweet child of mine, Mommy said
You are my little angel
Daddies can’t kill angels
They just like to try
The little girl refuses to pray
To a God who sees
Without helping

Lorri Ventura is a retired special education administrator. She lives in Massachusetts. "Domestic Violence" represents her first foray into creative/non-technical writing.