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. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

ICU by Heidi Slettedahl

The first trip was after midnight.
Woken from a sort of sleep, I hesitated.
Couldn’t decide on what to wear.
What do you wear?

The second time I didn’t delay.
Got into the car almost as I was.
Hungry, I seem to recall.

The vending machine didn’t work, the quarters stuck inside.
I stayed without a fix of sugar, salt and fat.
Hunger in a waiting room, then next to him, who also wasn’t eating.

Each time I enter more disheveled.
Each time his breath is less secure.

Did I do this the wrong way around?
Shouldn’t I offer a more presentable face?
Be more ready?

My practice at this seems endless.
Except that it is not.



Heidi Slettedahl is an academic and a US-UK dual national who goes by a slightly different name professionally. She has been published sporadically in small literary journals, most recently by Picaroon Poetry, Vita Brevis, Dream Noir and I Want You to See This Before I Leave.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Alphabet Game by Heidi Slettedahl

In the absence of billboards I always find the same J.
A sullen part of the journey, the sign my only savior.
          I don’t remember the name, just that it’s there,
          engraved on the Adopt-a-Highway face.

In memory of someone.

Enough to push me past the tricky letter, move me on.
Road construction and closed lanes,
a truck always in front, always slow, impossible to pass.

Kay Ell Emm Enn Oh Pee

I listen to the radio, as it secures its sound and then retreats, impossible to hold
until the exit to Rochester,
where the Qs and Xs and Zs are easy to find.
I always get to the end before I stop, liquor stores and plazas helping out.

A left at Mayo, a right to parking.
They trust the families to pay the fees, at night.

Sometimes I shave a half an hour off the fee,
the envelope still heavy with quarters and fat with dollar bills.

Sometimes I don’t pay at all.
Leave the honor system behind.
Become the bad girl I never was.

If you knew you’d be there daily, you’d buy the weekly pass.

I should have bought the weekly pass.

I wish there were a monthly one.


I wish.



Heidi Slettedahl is an academic and a US-UK dual national who goes by a slightly different name professionally. She has been published sporadically in small literary journals, most recently by Picaroon Poetry, Vita Brevis, Dream Noir and I Want You to See This Before I Leave.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Out of Bed by Steve Klepetar

I thought I heard you singing last night.
You were out of bed in the cold
and your voice surrounded the room.
I opened the curtain and there was snow.
It had piled up on the deck and it lay
on the pines along the pond,
and the naked birches seemed to reach
into low clouds. I knew this couldn’t
be true, your singing in the night
and snow gleaming even beneath the fog,
the gray sky. You were telling me something
about the way things end, how quiet
everything will be once moon and sun
fall away, and sky folds up, wrinkles the stars
to a single brilliant point as the final note fades.



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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Hotel Bar by Steve Klepetar

They told me you had left on the train that starless night
when the wind blew shingles from our roof
and snow fell and fell.
I may have heard a whistle in the darkness.
I may have been dreaming when you reached the station,
when you walked to the village, leaving tracks along the way.
Maybe the streets were empty.
Not even the plows were out and you sat in the hotel bar
chatting with a girl in a white dress and a fire tattoo
who burned as you talked about thick flakes falling.
“It looks pretty,” you said
but she wondered if it ever would stop.
“This may be the final snow, the one that buries us all.”
You clinked glasses and drifted into the night, lighting up the storm.



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

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Serengeti Pilgrimage by Jane Richards

Twenty one elephants process
single file across the endless plain;
mothers, offspring,
and their priestess--
tallest in stature, long tusks brushing dry grasses.

Twenty one elephants approach
the stream with ceremonial dignity,
wrinkled skin the ancient vestments of their kind.
Two teens turn to spar, short tusks locking--
an elder’s trunk nudges them on.

Twenty one elephants crowd
at the bank,
a family at table,
heads nod, ears flap,
trunks sway in slow dance.

For this timeless ritual,
twenty one elephants unroll their trunks,
glide them to the river,
the young stretch, kneel to reach the surface--
all in reverent silence
but for the splash
of precious water.



Jane Richards is a piano teacher with an intense interest in writing and nature. She has a masters degree in creative writing from Columbia College, Chicago, and has published poetry and non-fiction works in Snowy Egret, Rosebud, The Plum Tree Tavern, The Weekly Avocet, and Bird Watchers Digest.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

The Pine by Jane Richards

Sun lures me onto the snowy path,
deserted on this frigid day;
not even a sparrow scuttles in the bushes.
Dried grasses bend low,
laden with icy burdens;
resolute oaks, stark against the bright sky,
shoulder snow on their branches.

A single pine defies winter’s shroud.
Rich in its deepest hue,
it breathes into bleak woods,
opens itself to the weather,
welcomes the snow,
gathers it in clumps like heavy fruit.

A reminder as I plod
through this frozen world,
so silent since your passing,
that I, too,
breathe, and gather



Jane Richards is a piano teacher with an intense interest in writing and nature. She has a masters degree in creative writing from Columbia College, Chicago, and has published poetry and non-fiction works in Snowy Egret, Rosebud, The Plum Tree Tavern, The Weekly Avocet, and Bird Watchers Digest.

Friday, December 13, 2019

North Country Trail by Jane Richards

          O-Kun-de-Kun Falls

Familiar friend, this overgrown trail—
we picked its blueberries,
identified its ferns,
whistled to its vireos,
skirted its bear tracks.

Skipping over tree roots,
we sang silly songs in bad French,
and when we heard the falls, shouted,
hurried to feel thunder in our bones,
bask on sandstone flats,
mist cleansing our sweat.

This place, planted in our memories,
as the path marks its history:
maple leaf, once scarlet, now a bit of soil,
aster seed, awaiting rebirth,
scent of fox, long gone…
the soles of our boots.



Jane Richards is a piano teacher with an intense interest in writing and nature. She has a masters degree in creative writing from Columbia College, Chicago, and has published poetry and non-fiction works in Snowy Egret, Rosebud, The Plum Tree Tavern, The Weekly Avocet, and Bird Watchers Digest.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Transporting Squirrels by Martha Christina

Caught in my neighbor’s
Havahart trap,
the young squirrel
runs back and forth,
back and forth, frantic.
It can’t imagine what
I know my neighbor
has planned.

She loads the trap
into her car. Those
vermin dug up my
tulip bulbs again,

she says. Those
bulbs cost money!

She slams the door,
heads south, across
the bridge, across
the bay to a treeless
cove, to empty the trap.
Useless to remind her
transporting is
against the law;
she’s willing to pay
any fine, if caught.

Over the week,
she traps and
transports three.
Useless to remind her
squirrels live in families.
My son-in-law would
shoot them,
she says.

And so would mine.



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, December 11, 2019

Mistaken by Martha Christina

Spatzies
my German
aunt called
house sparrows,
and shooed them
away from her
feeder. She had
other names for
certain local boys
she likewise shooed
away from me,
her visiting niece.

But it was my
first cousin
she should have
been wary of,
the way we turned
to one another
under water
at Barkers’ Lake,
opened our look-alike
blue eyes, and more.



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, December 10, 2019

Strength by Martha Christina

The young squirrel
at the bird feeder
can get no higher
than the first perch.
It clings there with
its front paws, eats
in a frenzy while
its back feet slip
down the pole.

I watch its shoulders
as it pulls itself up
again and again,
the strength of those
muscles like Janey’s,
a polio survivor.

Stronger than any
of the boys in our
third grade class,
she pulled herself
up on the chinning
bar, swung from
rung to rung on
the parallel bars
while her wrist
crutches formed
an X on the ground,
marking that spot
where no one
could match
or out-do her.



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).