Thursday, May 31, 2018

Simply eating her salad by Michael Estabrook

Sometimes I become completely overwhelmed
by merely being in her presence,
like this afternoon
at McDonald’s with the grandchildren,
suddenly I’m choked with emotion,
barely able to speak,
while simply watching her
sitting there eating her salad, quietly, unassumingly.

I had to work at not crying,
(What a silly spectacle I would have been.)
dabbing at my eyes
with a crumpled McDonald’s napkin.
“Guess my eyes are watering
because it’s so cold outside.”
(Sure, nice try, you silly old man.)

I can understand being so smitten
when you first fall in love – how can you help it!
The beauty, the youth, the vigor and vitality,
the inescapable mystery of it all,
crashing over you like an avalanche in the Alps.
But come on! I’ve been at this now a long time,
with this woman almost half a century!
How could it be possible
that I still get all choked up watching her
sitting there simply eating her salad?

Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more succinct and precise, clear and relatable, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, the latest being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Batteries by Michael Estabrook

I try to keep up but the youngsters
walk faster talk faster work faster eat faster
          play faster learn faster . . .
“Becomes harder every year doesn’t it”
quips another old man at the beach
in his floppy hat and Growing Old Ain’t
for the Faint Hearted t-shirt
watching me taking up the rear
clutching onto my towel and chair.
Sure does but at least I made it
          to the ocean
again this year best place
in the world to recharge the old batteries.

Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. Hopefully with each passing decade the poems have become more succinct and precise, clear and relatable, more appealing and “universal.” He has published over 20 collections, the latest being Bouncy House, edited by Larry Fagin (Green Zone Editions, 2014).

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

April Morning by Richard Martin

Looking out of the wide window this morning,
it came to me that green is the colour of hope –

rebirth, look at the chestnut unfolding its leaves,
or the birch's shimmer, the beech's green veil;

but then there's also white: the innocent cumulus
of the cherry, and the dogwood's diffident purity –

green promises future fruitfulness; summer to come,
whereas blossom is so temporary, a halfway house.

Let us sit back and gaze upon this present richness --
with relief that seasons move on, in spite of man.

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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Sacred Texts by Holly Day

I would have had so many more poems to show you
but the priest destroyed them all when he came
said my pre-Columbian ideals, my life before him, were wrong
told me I was wrong. I stood by, penitent, as he hauled

box after box of handwritten journals
out to the curb to melt in the rain, came back
covered in sweat and ink to remind me
it was for the best, he only wanted the best

for me. I watched the codices that had recorded my life before him
disintegrate through the crack in the curtains, pretending
to keep an eye on children bicycling in the rain
that I was impatient for the mail. I watched

as history, deprived of its tongue
forgot all about me.

Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle. Her nonfiction publications include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano and Keyboard All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, and Stillwater, Minnesota: A History. Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I'm in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.), and Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing) will be out mid-2018, with The Yellow Dot of a Daisy already out on Alien Buddha Press.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Nothing wakes me... by M.J. Iuppa

like rain pounding
its two-fisted anthem
on every surface
within earshot
and closer—

an echo galloping
with a crowd’s
commotion, moving
in a clatter of tin
elbows and knees—

hands reaching 
as the snare of a
truck’s headlights
on a wet winding
road finds rain

leaping in its down-
shift of wheels
whistling a near escape
into puddles full
of moonlight.

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 & life’s stew.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Family Vacation 1965 by Jack Powers

In Providence, they put Nanny between us to stop the punch wars
      I was losing to Donny, though I would never admit it until my bruised
and battered biceps fell off my shoulder, even then I wouldn’t cry,

wouldn’t give Donny the satisfaction of knowing he’d won,
      wouldn’t give my parents an excuse to move me into the way-back
where Ellen read surrounded by luggage or between them

in front where Chrissy bobbed her head like some dashboard Virgin Mary,
      smiling like she never did anything wrong which isn’t true
since that’s why she was sitting there in the first place.

Now I felt sorry for Nanny on her first vacation to the Cape trapped
      between bored ten-year-old me and more bored thirteen-year-old Donny;
we could only stare out the window for so long before the monotony

drove us to team up and start watching her lips, saying what she said
      at the same time she said it, until she begged, Please boys, stop.
It’s not funny,
as we begged along until my father swung his arm over the seat

and threatened, Don’t make me pull over, slapping blindly with his hand
      as my mother pleaded, Please Don, watch the road, and the car
swung back and forth in traffic like a dog straining against a leash.

Then Dad slammed on his brakes and swerved into the line
      for the Cape exit and we all panted in relief and excitement
as if returning from our wild selves, glad to have survived again

until at the Bourne Bridge, cars backed up at the circle,
      their roofs piled high with coolers, bikes and beach chairs,
Donny asked if I wanted to see who could hit the softest

and I reached across Nanny and brushed his biceps
      and he reached across and clocked me, knuckle twisting
to reach the bone and as I cried out, he smiled and said, You win.

Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Perfectly Good Shoes, will be coming out in the fall. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. He teaches in Redding, Connecticut. Visit his website:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Leaves by Robert Hudnut

The other day when we went walking, we
Looked for leaves to grace the dining table
And the window sills.

The yellows, reds, and golds were all astir
Across the path, which made it easy to
Reject the ones that failed to meet the test.

But what, exactly, was the test? Just how
Would we decide which leaf would make the grade
And which would not?

Soon your hands were full,
While mine held only two.

And yet, your wanton leaves, I felt, put mine
To shame, for you had gathered richly, while
The leaves that I had picked, though perfect, made

A paltry contribution when compared
To the munificence of what you brought
To grace the table and the sills.

Robert Hudnut is a former pastor, three churches; writer, thirteen books (Harper, et al); former trustee, Princeton University.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Evening by Steve Klepetar

My father sits in the living room, reading,
drinking gin. My mother is on the phone
with her lover, a sad, small man who keeps
everything neat.
He has a collection of pre-Colombian art.
On weekends he washes his T-Bird at the beach.
He lifts weights at the gym and boxes
to keep in shape. Once he beat up
a young thug for sitting on the hood of his car,
sent him home crying and bloody.
My father’s face is gray, the book heavy in his hands.
Opera on the radio, a spring breeze blowing
through an open window.
My mother has been talking for nearly an hour now.
My father freshens his drink, turns a page.
Slowly the room burns. On the shelves, books turn to ash.

Steve Klepetar has recently relocated to the Berkshires in Massachusetts after 36 years in Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three in 2017. Recent collections include A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps), and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Smoke Break Outside Swann's Chapel Church by Abby N. Lewis

He sits in his Lincoln, smokes a cigarette
and thinks of his wife.
No doubt she has a list of chores for him
as long as his hours spent at work:
the wall in the bedroom needs a facelift,
the pool could use sanitizing
after the grandkid’s last visit, the second
guest room door squeaks.
No one ever stays in that room anyway.
Then she’ll complain
she forgot the butter for the brownies,
could he buy some?
He rehearses how to tell her no,
sticks a hand out the door
and taps the rolled paper. Eventually,
he smothers the butt
on the dash—the Lincoln coughs to life,
and as he pulls away,
exhaust smoke rises in the rearview mirror
to blend with the alabaster wall.

Abby N. Lewis is a poet from Dandridge, Tennessee. She is the author of the poetry collection Reticent. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Timber, Cheat River Review, The Allegheny Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, This Fluid Journey, will be published by Finishing Line Press in September 2018.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

elusive sleep by Cordelia Hanemann

sounds of the city rattle
my sleep: as revelers laugh
into the night and distant
fireworks sound like shots
in the dark; fierce semis tear up
the interstate; scavengers forage
in the black garden, and night-raptors
court beneath a cloud-fringed moon;
nearby rustle: coons desperate in the cold
scramble into the cave of my crawl-space;
sleep: precious and elusive     my place
in the dark: lonely
            and not lonely enough.

Cordelia Hanemann, a writer and artist in Raleigh, NC, has published in Southwest Review, Connecticut River Review, and Laurel Review; anthologies, The Well-Versed Reader, Heron Clan IV and Kakalak 2017 and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. Recently featured poet for Negative Capability Press and The Alexandria Quarterly, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Drowned on Dry Land by Howie Good

Walking at dusk,
no definite purpose in mind,
along an empty stretch
of Kalmus Beach,

my shoulders hunched
against the wind
swirling off the water,

I’m just about to pass
the lifeguard shack,
boarded up for winter,

when the one gull
on the roof squawks,
Ha-ha, ha-ha-ha,

like a minor character
dressed always
in a white shirt
with a dirty collar

who suddenly refuses,
out of sheer malice,
to cooperate with the author.

Howie Good is the author of The Loser's Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.