Tuesday, October 27, 2015

First Encounter Beach by Howie Good

A man in a yellow rain slicker
rides a three-wheeler
loaded with empty plastic crates
out toward the oyster beds.

Here where the Nauset
first encountered the Pilgrims,
it is late afternoon, low tide.
A red dog runs along the shoreline
scattering the seagulls
while its owner futilely calls it back.

Though only early October,
the wind blowing in off the water
has already developed a psychotic edge.
We can’t rely on tomorrow
being another day like today,
silver bay and big sky and precious light.

The oyster farmer has shrunk
to a tiny dot in the distance.

Howie Good’s latest poetry collections are Dark Specks in a Blue Sky (Another New Calligraphy) and Bad for the Heart (Prolific Press). He is recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his forthcoming collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Carefree, Arizona by Stefanie Leigh

          - for my mother

The only way to feel back home now is to drive out far
Past where the developers have tried to reach
Out where there are still saguaro & jackalopes & jumping cholla.

Around Lone Mountain I feel you riding in the car with me;
I’m rolling down the windows, you’re turning up the radio,
And together we sing along to Fleetwood Mac:

But now it’s gone, it doesn’t matter what for.

I miss it all – a place that didn’t exist until I left it
Foundations of red rock and long stretches of dirt road
That weren’t beautiful until I couldn’t see them anymore.

But now it’s gone, it doesn’t matter what for.
When you build your house, then call me home.

Everything looks the same now down on Cascalote –
Desert landscaping and shining water features.
I drive by, but you’ve been gone for years.

Stefanie Leigh teaches environmental law in a distance learning program and recently earned an MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. Her first (and almost completed) novel, The Truth, was longlisted for the 2015 Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award.

Friday, October 23, 2015

How Fishing Went For Us by Ed Ruzicka

          - for Helen Miriam and Nicolette Ruzicka

Back then I would walk you down
the block, up one more, then turn a wandering left
100 feet until we came under that stand of spruce
you thought was a forest creaky and frightful,
ripe for the wolf’s paw or witch’s cowl.

Except that we were just across from
a white, dilapidated house where Nicolette
and I once went peddling Girl Scout cookies
and got invited in to an oil-cloth kitchen
by a woman who tottered above her cane.
One who couldn’t spare a dollar or her tabby
would go fishless for days. So we came back

weeks later with boxes of Thin Mints and
told her they were excellent kept in the freezer
and even better crumbled over vanilla ice cream.

She said, "But I don’t have anything to give you."
Then made us weak tea we couldn’t get away from
fast enough as she spent the whole time scuttling around
scraping together a tote-bag of marbles, one carefully
rolled sheet of dryer lint, three peach pits, photo
of her middle boy by the Sunday shore in San Diego
and the fuzzy torsos of yellow jackets cased in amber.
She forced the bag into my hand as we sailed
off hailing our "So longs" forever and anon. 

On an afternoon like this under tall pine
I might completely undo one of my shoe laces
to lay across your tiny palm. You would
cast it out upon the waters of the puddle
that always formed at that low spot.
I remember those days tasting like aluminum
as I stood by with my mind overcome by sky
as any puddle can be while a daughter
sings softly so that fish will drift in.
Your song a sort of lure, as every song is,
that caught us nothing those days but now seems
to be catching everything, here, I could ever want.

Ed Ruzicka has published one full length volume, "Engines of Belief - Engagement in Modern Art". His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, the Atlanta Review, the Xavier Review, Big River Poetry Review and other literary journals. Ed lives in Baton Rogue, LA and is an occupational therapist. More at:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PTSD 4 by Matt Borczon

Dump the
sand from
your boots
and check
for camel
remember to
get your
uniform from
the laundry
pay the
extra dollar
so they
get the
blood off
of it
make sure
your mopp
gear is
under your
rack because
its late
and if
you manage
to fall
you are
sure to
need it
knowing where
your nightmares
are headed.

Matt Borczon is a nurse and writer from Erie Pa, he served in the busiest combat hospital in Afghanistan from 2010-2011. He writes of his experiences there and the difficulties of readjusting to life back home. His poems have appeared in Busted Dharma, Dead Snakes, The Bond Street Review, Big Hammer, Hanging Loose, and The Pressure Press as well as other small press publications.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

rejection by Kurt Nimmo

first poem in weeks.
the habit is thin now as
weather turns against autumn
and the male cat sleeps
in the blue chair.
another literary magazine
rejection today.
not like the old days
the grandiosity of an envelope
with my return scrawl
now a few electrons indistinguishable
from spam. the literary world
as presently construed
is unknown
no longer a discovery.
rejection does not bother me
like it did when I was a poet.
now I have
the sleeping cat
and his zen curl on a Mexican blanket.
sure beats the byline
and the words crowded on
a tight page

jostling for recognition.

Kurt Nimmo was born in Detroit, Michigan. In the late '70s, he co-edited the successful literary magazine, The Smudge. In the '80s, he edited Planet Detroit. Kurt has been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes for fiction, and two of his books were selected as "modern classics" by Wormwood Review. He lives in Smithville, Texas with his wife and two cats.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

We're Pregnant by James Valvis

He sneaks out for a cigarette,
and when he returns the child
is already sliding out of her mother.
All he sees are the toes coming free.
This is the best case scenario.
Other men wanted to be there,
or claimed they did. Nowadays men
announce to family “We’re pregnant,”
as if they too will be getting fat,
vomiting, walking with plantar fasciitis.
“Push,” they say. “Breathe.”
“I’m going through this with you.”
What a bunch of bullshit.
He prefers the old days,
when the father waited outside,
got the good news,
then handed out cigars.
At least there was no mistake
who deserved credit for the labor.
Later, when he finally holds his child,
he informs his wife the toes are his,
and the rest hers. Being nice,
she agrees to let him have
more than any man deserves.

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Ploughshares, River Styx, The Sun, and many others. His poetry was featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Afternoon Walk by John Grey

He turns at the Revolution Coffee shop
and walks two blocks.
Twilight is conducive to a stroll.
Even old tenements are gilded.
And the brick freshens up.
Lawns sprout gleaming grass.

He steps around an oncoming skateboarder,
stops to smell roses protruding through a fence.
A young woman sits on a patio,
head lowered over a guitar her fingers gently strum.
She sings pure as the late afternoon air.
He lingers, listens.
The song is more wistful than sad.
It's a step up from the flowers.

Another woman approaches
pushing a stroller.
He has to sum her up in a moment -
will she be fearful if I
bend my head
into her baby's face
or insulted if I don't?
He settles on a modest version of the former.
A pretty singer and a comely mother -
two warning shots
over the bow of his bachelorhood.

But a plain suburban house
quickly changes the subject.
The older woman in the kitchen window
lowers his bottom lip.
Her eyes shine
from the sun's flat angle
but more like a lighthouse beam
warning ships from the rocks.

And next door,
an old couple argue on their doorstep,
over something trivial he expects,
or even imaginary.

An afternoon walk is always good for the health,
good for the confirmation of what he always suspected.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in South Carolina Review, Gargoyle, Owen Wister Review and Louisiana Literature.