Sunday, June 20, 2021

Late Afternoon Farm: August by H. Lee Coakley

There is only the
looking glass pond
on the far edge of the street,

the one that we rupture with our
parched, heaving bodies
and rise up, gasping, from

a day spent
crouching & carrying,
cultivating what greens, what
passes for knowledge
in these dense parts.

We are still
mostly young.

As the cicadas hum
their live wire, we run barefoot
along the fence,

pinching the ends of
honeysuckle, praying for a
light touch - one that grants an

impossibly small drop
of golden ambrosia
on our tongue. A reminder

of how hard it is we work
to squeeze the sweetness
out of anything.



H. Lee Coakley (they/she) is a Queer poet & nutritional healer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Their work has been featured in The Lavender Review, Utterance Journal, The Voices Project, Blueshift Anthology and The Mad Farmer Reading Series.

Friday, June 18, 2021

In the Kitchen by Alice G. Waldert

I hear him downstairs
emptying the dishwasher

I filled late last night.
Glasses and cups clink,

rinsed of wine we shared.
Plates, forks, and knives rattle,

assembling like good soldiers
waiting to be of service.

We are alone in a house
that once sustained the shouts

and laughter of two girls and a boy,
but they outgrew this domain.

The boy lives many roads away,
the girls, adventurers–

live as ex-pats in foreign lands.
Our house now empty,

I welcome any sounds that replicate
the noise we made

when we all basked like sunning seals
in front of the TV

and believed
we’d always stay that way.



Alice G. Waldert’s poetry has appeared in Tiny Seed, The Voice of Eve, Poet's Choice, Sisyphus Lit, and Survivor Lit. She is a former humanitarian officer for the United Nations and is an adjunct English Professor at Westchester Community College in New York. She holds an MFA from Manhattanville College.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Shopping in the Pandemic by Marianne Szlyk

When I used to shop at Food Lion,
I felt closest to my mother,
clipping coupons, trying to buy
only what was on sale.

                       I’d pass up
the Fuji apples for Golden Delicious,
stock up on boxes of Corn Chex
and cans of chicken noodle soup,
even ignore the firm tofu
that lingered in produce
next to the greens
no one buys.

But the last time I shopped there,
the short stout woman hugged
the last twelve pack of toilet paper close
before placing it with the other one in her cart.
She steered her cart down the aisle of empty shelves
to grab dank greens and the last tofu
as I could only watch.



Marianne Szlyk's most recent book is Poetry en Plein Air (Pony One Dog Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Sligo Journal, and other journals/websites. Some poems have been translated into Polish, Italian, and Cherokee.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Headmaster's Song by Robert Demaree

1. The Pluperfect Tense

Old New England school men come to Texas,
Dressing for dinner like Brits in India:
We wondered why Tom Perdue had called his wife
The pluperfect tense.
A Latinist, too, he cared about things
People don’t think of these days:
Pronouns agreeing with antecedents,
The voice and mood of verbs but not of persons,
The way sand blows over footprints.
She had smiled sadly, as I recall.
Rereading Vergil,
It came to me:
The completed act, prior to past time,
A sense of finality apprehended,
The tears of human ways:
Sunt lacrimae rerum.

2. Harold

He worked for the firm
That cleans our building.
The night he died
We walked the school together.
With amiable displeasure
I had shown him things,
Unstripped wax,
Unwiped blinds and louvers,
And we lamented
(Him an old school man, too)
How kids are these days,
Trouble getting good help.
Someone else must make some sense
Of the notes he took that night.
The company doesn’t know
Who they’ll send us now.
See, there on top of the lockers,
In the dust caught in the afternoon’s late light,
Furrows plowed by the
Fingers of a hand which
Must have been his.

3. Approaching Retirement


Where he works
Pewter cups have replaced the gold watch.
The head thinks they’re nice,
But people smirk and roll their eyes,
Which he used to think unfair
Until recently.
I may decline the cup, he thinks.
The years are mine:
I will not risk entrusting them
To summary or tribute.
I will slip out, like the old baseball man,
In the bottom of the fifth,
In a game that doesn’t matter,
One man out,
No one on.

4. Head of School

He knew all the students,
Would call them by name,
Walking across the quad
Between ivied classes,
Tried to say to each
Something cheerful, personal:
Good game last night, Phil,
Or: Liked your op-ed piece.
He went to their concerts,
Their debates and swimming meets.
He thought they liked him.
It came to him later,
When he was working somewhere else,
That his best love
Had gone into the spam folders
Of their adolescent hearts.



Robert Demaree is the author of four book-length collections of poems, including Other Ladders, published in 2017 by Beech River Books. His poems have received first place in competitions sponsored by the Poetry Society of New Hampshire and the Burlington Writers Club. He is a retired school administrator with ties to North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Bob’s poems have appeared in over 150 periodicals including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Call Never Comes by Sharon Waller Knutson

He is working the night
shift at the Montana Standard
when his new bride
shows up with a draft
notice and a pepperoni pizza
they share with a reporter
who says, You’re going
to Vietnam, Buddy
and he
says, You’re next. For weeks
the newsroom night shift
takes bets on when he will
be shipped off to boot camp.
His editor remains calm
and quiet. He waits and waits
and when the call doesn’t come,
he moves to Minnesota
for another sports editor job.
It isn’t until he sees the Vietnam
Vets waving flags in the parade
in Rochester years later
that he realizes that if the call
had come, he too could be in
a wheelchair.



Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in a wildlife habitat in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob which are forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared most recently in Spillwords, Trouvaille Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, and The Song Is…

Friday, June 11, 2021

Formaldehyde, Vinegar and Newsprint by Sharon Waller Knutson

He scrubs, lathers and suds
skin, hair and clothes
in scalding hot water.

Still the stench remains
of the vinegar in the vat
as cucumbers

marinate and pickle,
at the factory where
he works after classes.

Of the formaldehyde
he uses to turn the dead
into mummies

and mannequins
to pay for college
and his room across the hall.

Now he wears the scent
of newsprint proudly
as he takes photos and writes

for his hometown weekly,
sniffing the smell
of success on a city daily.



Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in a wildlife habitat in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob which are forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared most recently in Spillwords, Trouvaille Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, and The Song Is…

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Rainbow Trout by D. Walsh Gilbert

          —Pierre-Auguste Renoir (France) 1841-1919

Lined up on banks of cracked ice shoveled
by the fish monger dressed in rubber
boots and a canvas apron, rainbow trout
lie emptied—boneless—butterflied
as if they were crucified, fins splayed,
hearts torn out by the carver’s fingers.
He says, These. Past due—to be discarded.

I beg for two, or three, or four, please,
and watch him fold one body half
onto another and so return their dignity
as fish, and in the glint of Whole
Foods’ light—their eyes—their rainbow—
the pink stripe gill to tail is unmistakable.

Gloved hands poise to scrape scale against
scale, his knife ready to dismember
pectoral, dorsal, caudal fins now still, but
they’ll need these spines when I slip
the pair or two back into Purgatory Brook,
rain swollen rush among the trillium
and river scree where a hibernating bear
and her two cubs just woke,
where the raccoon, the possum and her brood
survive. No—leave them closest to alive.



D. Walsh Gilbert is the author of Ransom (Grayson Books). A Pushcart nominee, she recently won The Ekphrastic Review’s “Bird Watching” contest. Her work is forthcoming in The Dillydoun Review and recently appeared in the anthology, Waking Up to the Earth. She is co-editor of the Connecticut River Review.



Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Insect Guidance by Richard Martin

A beetle wanders along one of the planks
that make up the terrace, following the grain,
obeying the laws of perspective,
to that meeting point of disappearance.

An ant seems to have picked up its scent
and follows it along a parallel track –
but then the beetle discovers the beam
below the plank and takes off at right-angles.

Can I read this as illustrating the irrelevance
of man-made rules to the path of life,
or merely as another instance of the haphazard
nature of the very existence of us all?



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, June 7, 2021

I Laugh When I Look Out the Bedroom Window by Carey Taylor

until you wince as you lift your left leg and place
your bare foot on the folding patio chair.

In one hand you hold a heavy-duty toenail clipper,
in the other a wire cutter.

Your back pirates profanities at the hard work of
old nails—tough as week old sourdough.

Clippings fly through air to grass, which reminds me
of that July we tossed bread crumbs off South Sister,

how we skimmed scree and corn snow with packs
of heavy gear and warm beer.

Ravenous, we tallied peaks up and down that Cascade
spine of fire—St. Helens, Adams, Hood, Thielsen.

So sure, in those slick-skinned days, this was the only
age we would travel.



Carey Taylor is the author of The Lure of Impermanence (Cirque Press 2018). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she has a Master of Arts degree in School Counseling. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon and when not outdoors, blogs at: https://careyleetaylor.com.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Daily Briefing by Elizabeth Palmer Kellogg

                                                            This 
                                                  morning
                                                     I
                                              made
                          our
                      bed. 

All
the 
blankets
were 
on 
your 
side. 



Elizabeth Palmer Kellogg is Assistant to the Director of Research at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, MI. In her spare time, she writes poetry, reads poetry, quilts, and plays hide-n-seek with her two grandchildren.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Test by Don Thompson

He looks up, nitric eyes
testing you like acid on gold.
You feel fake. Exposed.

For once the crow has no comment,
which says it all,
and shrugs himself into the air

like a pawnbroker turning his back,
offering nothing—not a cent
for your most precious heirloom.



Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. A San Joaquin Almanac won the Eric Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Pasture by Don Thompson

Under a nondescript, not-quite tree,
six or eight heifers
loaf in the scant shadows,
haunch to haunch.

Their dappled russet hides remind you
of Impressionist picnickers.

They’ve browsed the foliage
as high as they can reach
and would, if they could,
consume all of their own shade—

insatiable—

like those Parisians on Sunday afternoon
with their wine and cheese,
their indolent lust.



Don Thompson has been writing about the San Joaquin Valley for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks. A San Joaquin Almanac won the Eric Award for 2021 in the chapbook category. For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Fort by Sarah Ockrim

I follow the dirt trail where the earth’s been packed down
to a small clearing in the woods by the railroad tracks.

Fresh from reading The Boxcar Children,
I’m not a dreamer, just a girl with a plan.
We’ll build a fort, a place for shelter and secrets,
a place where we can be ourselves.

We’ll make the rules, live the way we want to,
wade in the creek every day. Freckled and fierce,
we’ll spend hours at the playground,
avoiding adults who ask us why we aren’t in school.

We’ll scour the alley, looking for old bricks,
abandoned boards and still straight nails,
collecting bits of rope and sticks,
lucking out on a sheet of corrugated steel.

We’ll gather berries and eggs,
sleep under the stars, live off the land.
We’ll build a fire pit out of stones and bricks,
stretch a tarp over us when it rains.

Nevermind that winters are harsh
or that berries are only in season for weeks.
Nevermind that there aren’t any chickens
for us to steal eggs from.

Looking back, I remember craving freedom
and fairness and a place where I could be myself.

I want to tell that girl that she’s my favorite person,
that I love her tangled hair, her skinny knees
and her wild, searching soul. I want to say,

“Dream so hard it feels like you’ll burst from it,
burn brighter that you think is possible,
and read always, read every day of your life.”



Sarah Ockrim is a poet and painter. She lives in southwestern Virginia with her husband and two sons.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Why by Terence McCaffrey

I don’t know why
I’m into gardening,
but I do feel the forest
watching me. I imagine
its myriad living things
around me, cheering,
clapping their paws
or wings with each churn
of the earth. I itch
to keep checking
a single seed’s march
as if my own, to keep
willing it to sprout
out of the dark
like the birth of a star.



Terence McCaffrey’s poems have appeared in Connecticut River Review, Freshwater, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. He received a M.A.L.S. degree in Humanities from Wesleyan University and a B.A. from the University of Hartford where he was the recipient of the Phyllis B. Abrahms Award in Fiction. He lives with his wife and two children in West Simsbury, CT.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Wild by Terence McCaffrey

We emerge
from the pause
of days
in muted wonder,
start passing
an hour
in purposeless
wandering
around the local
farm. You sprint
along the line
of early
chokecherry trees,
the new sun
strong, the old
trail fresh. Laugh
like birds
that want to
be noticed.
And it’s easy
to notice you
because we’re
finally out
of the house.
Forgive me.
You have my gaze
now. Go, burst
forth across
this afternoon.
Eat what you can
of the wide,
true sky.
And if I speak,
don’t listen.



Terence McCaffrey’s poems have appeared in Connecticut River Review, Freshwater, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. He received a M.A.L.S. degree in Humanities from Wesleyan University and a B.A. from the University of Hartford where he was the recipient of the Phyllis B. Abrahms Award in Fiction. He lives with his wife and two children in West Simsbury, CT.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Almost, Time by M.J. Iuppa

Consider space between trees:
corridors of wind, making un-
expected turns in green leaf light

Flickering sounds, like a travel clock’s
faint tick—those sweeping seconds
caught in Spring’s tide

Drunk on the sight of dandelions, I
can’t feel the lingering cold beneath
my fingertips, which makes me

wonder if heaven is boring— will I
stand beside this cemetery’s fallen
angel & know what I’ve lost?



M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 33 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, May 30, 2021

Pink Moon, Sprouting Grass Moon by M.J. Iuppa

She couldn’t sleep, knowing the seeds she planted
        yesterday in the greenhouse were starting to
tick-tick in thick black loam— starting to sprout

curly tails that turned their shells inside out— &
        those calculating cells divided, unfurling
the blueprint of our garden-soon-to-be

planted without leaving any open spaces— only
        pulsating shadows of so many honeybees finding
their afternoon’s work fascinating— and she couldn’t

sleep, knowing another season was revving up—
        green and luminous and warm in the scent of
apple blossoms and darkness, and something

out there, tipping over the water can, or stirring
        among the bins in the barn, or the mirror of green
eyes— those green eyes, she just couldn’t sleep.



M.J. Iuppa’s fourth poetry collection is This Thirst (Kelsay Books, 2017). For the past 33 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.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Benched by Ben Rasnic

Change can happen
quicker than Colorado climate,
how a simple procedure
can render you powerless,
disabled, a mere invalid.

The storm has passed
and now you are faced
with the devastation
left behind in its wake—

extended hospital stays,
struggling for breath, self
worth, a meaningful
existence,

watching the world
spin out of control
on the nightly news,
saturated with details
of yet another

mass shooting
as you sit
on the sidelines
awaiting a new heart.



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, May 28, 2021

Morning Migration by Andrew McSorley

A flock of birds relents
on the golden-drunk coast,
skipping their black-flecked
bodies over invisible currents.

Dazed and listless in a summer chair
I watch the wing-beat wheel
them higher across the berm
of horizon and into the battered
tongue of sunrise; this throng
of blur-lit birds, this feathered yawn
on the shadow-fleeced morning,
and me,
my stubborn heavy feet,
what little they carry.



Andrew McSorley is the author of What Spirits Return (Kelsay Books, 2019). A graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at Southern Illinois University, his poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as The Minnesota Review, UCity Review, HAD, Birmingham Arts Journal, and many others. He lives and works in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Night Came On by Steve Klepetar

My mother talked for hours on the phone.
We could hear her muttering in the bedroom.
Upset about something, she scraped her voice
across the blackboard bolted to the wall
of my brain. My father smoked cigars,
sipped a little scotch on ice, read history
and old novels from the public library.
“I’m afraid of Virginia Woolf,” he’d say,
looking up from the pages of Orlando
or The Waves. He wasn’t afraid of my mother,
though, had learned by then to ignore her
sighs and symptoms. Night came on.
Wolves roamed beneath the streetlights.
Often I heard hooting, or giant frogs, a deep
throaty note, like the bass string on a guitar.
Where we lived, the wildlife was something
else, prehistoric and terrible, in the old sense,
striking in the darkness like a terrible swift sword.



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