Monday, July 30, 2018

Good Day by Mark Danowsky

I hear often
folks have a good day
right before they die

There goes Uncle Doug
out in full sun
doing a few laps around the pool

Something cruel and green
about hope
or wishful thinking

Glimmer of what was
a flash of blinding light
off the deep end

Mark Danowsky is a writer from Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in About Place, Cordite, Gargoyle, The Healing Muse, Right Hand Pointing, Shot Glass Journal, Subprimal, Third Wednesday, and elsewhere. He is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and Co-Founder of Wood & Water Press.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Chest Wounds by Jack Powers

I wasn't horny enough for my eighth grade girlfriend.
She was older and fed me shots of vodka to get me in the mood.
I didn't like being rushed. She didn't like waiting.

I just threw up and passed out and sometimes
woke up drunk the next day. My mother was worried
about me seeing a ninth grader – pestering my brother,

complete strangers, even my knee doctor
to talk some sense into me. "Tell him he's too young," she'd say.
The doctor mumbled, "Listen to your mother," shrugged

and said something about leg lifts. I was tired of the spin-
the-bottle, over-the-bra-feel girlfriends my own age.
I was skinny, but tall and looked older than I was.

She was thrilling and scary and sometimes I hated her.
Maybe I was afraid I’d disappear. So I dug in
countering unstoppable with immovable.

But when we went to her house one Tuesday afternoon
and found her mother passed out in vomit on the living room rug,
we cleaned her up and carried her to her bed.

I wanted somehow to close that wound
as we made out in her room and began to work our way around
the bases. Maybe she thought I could pin her down

and blast her into a new life. On the bus one day,
she found a poem I wrote in English class and read it aloud.
It was about birds or fish or communism and I just wrote it

to get Mr. Zaboray to leave me alone. Her friends shrieked with laughter.
The next day at lunch I didn't sit at our table, returning instead
to my eighth grade friends. She came over, scrunched her lips.

"I don't know what you're trying to prove –" she said,
but I interrupted her. "I need to break up," I said.
She turned and walked away. "I'm sorry," I whispered,

but she wasn't listening. Her dark figure blurred, disappearing
into the shrill yellow light of the lunch room windows.

Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar, 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:

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Everybody's Vaguely Familiar by Jack Powers

Four rows up in 27E I saw Judy Something (I started with A: Allison?
     Barbara? Carol?), a teacher from the middle school and her husband, Bill
(or Bob), my son's old principal. The silver-haired women in 31A and 31B
     might have bowled with my mom. We might have bumped behinds
on the dance floor at my wedding as the band played "All of Me."

Even the steward-flight attendant-whatever guy looks like a goateed
     version of my cousin Mark. I doubt he's left his wife and children,
but who knows? We've lost touch. Maybe he was afraid to tell me -–
     afraid I'd disapprove. But Mark, It's okay. I could be you on another plane
or you could be me sitting here wondering if the guy stuffing a too big,

too green bag in the overhead is a taller, pock-marked Uncle Pete –
     if he put on thirty pounds. How identical we almost are. How subtle
the variations. I sit, hello smile ready, still nursing the light stomach
     of the plane's take off, contemplating not just the unknown places I could go,
but the people I might have been – like the tanner, rounder me

I passed in 2B in sun-glasses, clad in black, with paint stains
     in the ridges of his knuckles. He could be the me who stayed in LA
thirty years ago returning now from some gallery opening
     or on-location background paint job or just another visit
to my parole officer. And now, as a stewardess – a dead ringer

for Debra Winger – drags her cart and hands an aluminum-wrapped chicken
     to the pale bald man in 31D, I study his profile. We may have grown up
in the same county, he too may have won Best Camper at Camp Holy Cross
     or he may have a sister who taught my children Spanish. Below us,
the shadow of our plane crosses Iowa fields, squares of yellow

and green broken up by brown ribbons of river. The Spanish teacher's
     brother ponders the in-flight crossword. The way he taps his pen
against his teeth seems so familiar – like a relative maybe, like me.

Jack Powers’ poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Cortland Review, Rattle, Poet Lore and elsewhere. His first book, Everybody’s Vaguely Familiar, 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:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Curbside on Uncle Willy's Street by Grace C. Ocasio

this chubby boy in a red cotton T-shirt
insinuated himself into my space.

He wore this look, flailing like a flag,
as if he'd never take it off.

I placed my hands like blind slats
in front of my eyes.
Shreds of his red shirt
shot through the gaps
between my fingers.

The stink of red
clung to my nostrils:
this boy whispered in my ear
words rank as chitterlings.

When I got in Dad's car,
I rolled my backseat window down,
inhaled enough fresh air
to last me a year.

Grace C. Ocasio’s poetry manuscript, Family Reunion, received honorable mention in a recent Quercus Review Press Contest. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she placed as a finalist in the 2016 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award competition and received a 2014 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Moment by Howard Faerstein

when you think
the moon is gone forever
just when they tell you
the war is over
just when the fire appears to be dying

a spark ignites the bark
banked in the stove’s corner
the camera focuses
on the dead black boy
brandishing a plastic gun
the first sliver of ivory whitens
the unfixed sky

And you watch as the flames
consume the split oak
till you can’t sit
in the room any longer
till those with you
begin to burn

Howard Faerstein’s full-length book of poetry, Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, a Silver Concho selection, was published in 2013 by Press 53. A new book, Googootz and Other Poems is forthcoming this fall. His work can be found in numerous journals including Great River Review, Nimrod, CutThroat, Off the Coast, Rattle, upstreet, Mudfish and on-line in Gris-Gris, Peacock Journal, and Connotation. He is Associate Poetry Editor of CutThroat, A Journal of the Arts, and lives in Florence, Massachusetts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Deadeye by George Held

I carry the corpse
of my blinded right eye
in its socket,

dead weight
in my skull, optic nerve
dead, sight beyond

reclamation, fated
for cremation
with my organic

remains, so I’m grateful
for my “good” eye,
my ocular,

with which I view
what’s left of
the visible world.

George Held regularly publishes poems, stories, translations, and book reviews in journals such as Blue Unicorn, Home Planet News, Transference, and American Book Review and has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. His new book, his twentieth, is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Unsocial Media by George Held

Friend Alice is having
a meltdown

in capital letters
on Facebook

but nobody seems
to recognize it;

friends click endless "likes"
and a few hearts

while Alice goes
deafeningly NUTS.

George Held regularly publishes poems, stories, translations, and book reviews in journals such as Blue Unicorn, Home Planet News, Transference, and American Book Review and has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations. His new book, his twentieth, is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Elixir by Janette Schafer

When I was 5, I discovered alcohol in abandoned red cups
scattered about the Green House, the first place we lived
in Detroit after Venezuela.

Dad rolled blunts on a burned out coffee table while Mom
played with his wiry black hair. Aunt Sherry put her hand
on his knee, slid her fingers up to his zipper.

I went from cup to cup and room to room
as motorcycle after motorcycle parked
in our front yard.

The beer was a healing bitter herb,
a toy kaleidoscope, swirl of orange, yellow,
and red in fragmented shapes

amid the noise of black leather
and silver chrome. Dizzy with drink,
I fell in a slow arc,
laughter loud in my ringing ears.

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, part-time rock n roll singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her writing and photographs have recently appeared in: Rigorous Journal; Unlikely Stories V; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology; Dear America, Reflections on Race; and PublicSource.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Arriving in New Hampshire: June 2018 by Robert Demaree

Midday: the pond glistens
With the special brightness
Of a front passed through.
The dock is in the water,
Some boards on the walkway
Starting to rot.
We walk down the path to the cottage,
And see a tree across the roof,
Resting on the ridge beam,
Topped, as they say, in a May storm,
The most serious damage to a nest
Where two wrens had expected
To raise their young.
The tree guy can come that day and
Works quickly; before leaving he blows
Pine straw off the roof:
We are paying for things
We used to do for ourselves.
I gather up small branches
And haul them to my brush pile,
Rest between trips longer,
More frequent.
Martha has a cane
But only uses it going up to the car.
I notice on my leg, just below the knee,
The first traces of those
Blue roadmaps of veins
(They don’t wash out),
Further evidence of things
To which
One must not give in.

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. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

In the flood zone out back, by Ronald Moran

my creek ruptures if provoked,
but never runs full dry, and only
then will prepaid, transients north
of Marietta ever agree to remove
storm debris or trim or take down

maples soaking in the always moist
ground, home to copperheads, lone
cottonmouths lost in the flow,
plus raccoons, stray deer, bobcats,
and mosquitoes the size of birds.

Sometimes late at night, I hear one
of our off-center locals offering
wet penance to his god of choice,
or to a partner in this inexact place
out of sync with itself and its lives.

Ronald Moran’s last six volumes of poetry were published by Clemson University Press, and his poems have appeared in numerous magazines. His writings are archived in the Special Collections of two universities. He lives in Simpsonville, SC.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Offline by Sam Watermeier

Anxiety is an unanswered text.
A Facebook post with zero likes.
It’s the wait for virtual validation
of our personal value.
It’s the wait for us
to unplug from our phones
and actually speak to each other.
Real talk.

Sam Watermeier lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ever since his mother went into labor with him in a movie theater, he's been growing as a film fanatic, literature lover and journalism junkie. His writing has appeared in Eunoia Review, The Film Yap, NUVO Newsweekly, The Polk Street Review, THiNK Magazine and Midwest Film Journal.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Geek Nostalgia by John David Muth

Tired of browsing
an endless succession
of online dating profiles,
I click to another site
start to watch video clips:
toy commercials from the late 1970’s,
Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica.

I was once that boy
with the X-Wing Fighter
desperate for adventure
imagination growing like a universe.
Those worlds were my homes
and I would fight for them heroically
protecting the innocent
with a handful of friends
earning the love of a beautiful woman.
It would be a life full of purpose
that might end in battle
but it would end
to the sound of a string symphony
the great evil newly vanquished
and they would remember me forever,
worlds of millions
grateful for my sacrifice.

My computer pings.
I switch back to the dating site.
Someone left me a message.
Her name is Lou-Anne
she has five kids
tells me I look like her dead father
wants to meet up for a beer.
The title of her profile reads:
Just Back from Rehab.

John David Muth was born and raised in central New Jersey. For the last eighteen years, he has been an academic advisor, working for Rutgers University. His latest book, Odysseus in Absaroka (Aldrich Press), was published this year and can be found on

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Faith by Karen Neuberg

A foggy glass globe
to carry like a small creature, beating

heart, body warmth. It disappears
into the daily, into the wars

and fires, into the weeping and floods.
I think it lost but then it unexpectedly

returns, surprising me
with its familiar insistence.

Karen Neuberg’s poems and collages appear in numerous journals including 805, Canary, Epigraph Magazine, and Verse Daily. Her latest chapbook is “the elephants are asking” (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). She lives in Brooklyn, NY

Monday, July 16, 2018

At Fry's Marketplace by Sharon Waller Knutson

An old lady with wrinkled brow,
mud puddles under her eyes,
lipstick smeared teeth, glares
at me in the rest room.
To get away from her, I walk
up to the seafood counter.

But I see her reflection
peering through the glass
at the shrimp curled up
in their shells and the crab
cooling their long legs
next to the Coho Salmon.

She follows me through
the deli, bakery and produce
to the checkout stand,
fumbles through her purse
and fans out five colorful cards
like she’s in a Vegas casino

and has a Royal Flush.
The dark-haired clerk,
a clone of her younger self
with 20/20 vision, quick
thinking and fast fingers,
picks out two cards,

scans the yellow card, slides
the blue card in the slot, smiles
and hands her the receipt.
Then the old lady steals
my cart and my groceries
and drives off in my car.

Sharon Waller Knutson, a retired journalist and online bookstore owner, writes poetry from her Arizona desert home. Her work has appeared in The Orange Room Review, Literary Mama, Verse-Virtual, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Your Daily Poem. She is the author of five chapbooks: Dancing with a Scorpion, My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields, Desert Directions, They Affectionately Call Her a Dinosaur and I Did It Anyway.