Saturday, February 29, 2020

Postcard Collection by Robert Demaree

1. 2003
A photo of a country tearoom,
Wenham, Mass.,
“Marjorie’s luncheon, June 7, 1923,”
She wrote, dark hand slanted,
Firm with authority.
I type a label for the hard plastic sleeve:
“Bought August 24, 2003,
Lee, New Hampshire,
40th wedding anniversary.
Drove along the Oyster River,
To a shore dinner at Dover Point,”
Lives now linked
For the consideration
Of the next collector.

2. 2014
It was one of those old albums
Where people would store
Souvenir Postcards from the past,
Yellowstone, Lincoln Park Zoo, 1910,
Streets in small Midwestern towns
Like the one where my father grew up.

We knew each other from
Collecting postcards, then poetry,
As friends and then neighbors.
So I thought the album
Must have been a find
From those antique shows
They used to love.
But the gift he brought me
Was a family piece,
A resident of closets and attics over time,
The world of Miss Millie Johns
Of Hobart, Indiana,
Passed on to Tom and now to me.
You can sell them, he told me.
I will not do that.
I will be the steward of
The memories of Millie Johns,
I will protect those messages
From careless eyes.

3. 2018
My collection of old postcards
Takes me back to places of fondness
And to others I have not been,
Often scenes with people
In the near ground.
Here is a beach view,
Rye, New Hampshire,
Young men with shirts on for
Swimming, apparel that dates them,
Long departed,
On another a man and his little girl.
He must have seen the photographer
And decided that though nameless
They would record themselves
Into a kind of perpetuity.
This is a town in the Finger Lakes.
Those look like ’50 model cars,
So the man is surely gone by now,
And the daughter, I’m guessing,
About my age.

4. 2020
Turrets. Lots of old postcards
With turrets, vintage 1910,
A bank in Buffalo,
Residential streets in Rust Belt towns,
Tastes of another time,
Popular for a while, then not,
Then briefly in vogue again.
Why am I drawn to this?
It comes back,
As of course it always does:
The corner grocery on King Street,
Between Gerry’s house and mine,
Where we would stop in late afternoon,
After a game of catch, or basketball,
One-against-one, the basket his prize
Mounted on the garage
Behind the house on High Street,
Sooty snow shoveled out of the way,
Chevy dealer next door,
His home, his father’s office,
Both of them cardiologists,
As it turned out,
Who smoked cigarettes.
There were turrets on the
Fine houses still left on High Street,
And on the little store
Where we’d get a cherry popsicle
And talk about the Phillies and the A’s
With Mr. Schneider
Whose family lived upstairs,
In the round room, we called it,
Over the Breyer’s ice cream sign.

Gerry died quite young.

We exchanged Christmas cards
And, toward the end,
An e-mail or two.
Mr. Schneider left no heirs.
I hardly get back
To Pennsylvania at all.
I guess they still make
Cherry popsicles.

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.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

This is not a poem... by Ann Gibaldi Campbell

about a dying cat.

The cat is lying on a towel
inside a closet full of coats.

(Now there’s a word to make us mind
grammar lessons from the past:

Yesterday I lay in bed
after I laid the cat down next to me).

But what’s this nonsense about verbs?
I’ve let myself become distracted

from the poem I am not writing.
While the little cat lies dying

I think about the lie that I will tell my son:
“Cats, like grandfathers, go to heaven.”

This is not
a poem about a dying cat.

Ann Gibaldi Campbell earned her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since then, she has taught at the secondary and post-secondary levels as well as worked in special education. She identifies as a teacher, a mentor, and a feminist.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

sharing a bottle of wine by J.J. Campbell

watched the snow
fall last night from
my bedroom window

thought of the christmas
we spent together years

sharing a bottle of wine

laughing by the fire

wondering how long
until one of us makes
a move

i suppose my timing
has always sucked

J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves yet managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, The Rye Whiskey Review and The Beatnik Cowboy. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

of a broken angel by J.J. Campbell

the soft curves
of a broken

one of these


she'll want
more than
just my


J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) was raised by wolves yet managed to graduate high school with honors. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Horror Sleaze Trash, Synchronized Chaos, The Rye Whiskey Review and The Beatnik Cowboy. You can find him most days on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Monday, February 24, 2020

In Sickness by Carolynn Kingyens

To know her is to know
the intimate madness
of a junk drawer;
the madness at the bottom
of a carpetbag -
nail clippers,
old ketchup packets,
loose change,
hard candy hard enough
to chip a front tooth –
not things as much as thoughts
is how she described the
rambling sensation.

I know a good man
still in love with his
dementia-suffering wife,
even after she’d hurl insults
from a mouth on fire,
thinking he was her dead father,
who once dropped
her farm kittens,
one by one,
inside a pillowcase,
tied a tight knot
before casually tossing
the crying, moving bag
into the backyard pond.

“Why my kittens, daddy?!”
his wife would scream
while pounding
on her husband’s chest
under the glow
of the porch light.

He told me this story
over a beer once —
an old man to a young man,
and in that moment
I knew what I had to do.

Carolynn Kingyens' debut poetry collection - Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books) is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at a few independent book stores around New York City. She will be on a radio show in April for National Poetry Month. Today, Carolynn lives in New York City with her husband of 20 years, two beautiful, kind daughters, a sweet rescue dog, and a very old, happy cat.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Lucky at Cards. . . by Martha Christina

Two days after Valentine’s Day,
she consigns half a heart-shaped
pizza to the freezer; just one
sentimental step from
the compost bin.

She wants to reproduce
her late husband’s
black bean chili, but
he died without sharing
his secret ingredients.

She sets the timer,
lets her imitation
chili simmer, picks
up his deck of cards,
lays out a hand of solitaire,

and wins. Then another,
and another, and another.

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).

Friday, February 21, 2020

Cover Illustrations by John James Audubon by Martha Christina

On the front cover
of this small notebook
a Mourning Warbler
perches on the stem
of a red pheasant’s eye.

On the reverse
a Cerulean Warbler
clings to an unnamed
plant just above
the ISBN and barcode,
two 20th century features
that make it possible
for me to afford
Audubon illustrations.

I carried this notebook
to and from the hospital,
where I noted the name
and contact information
for the oncologist
my husband’s surgeon
recommended, and a list
of questions to ask
at the consultation.

It was normal for Audubon
to shoot and stuff his models;
species included in Birds of America
were plentiful; extinction far from his,
and his subscribers’ minds.

My husband’s oncologist
provided a treatment plan
that worked for four years.
That was the best he and
my husband’s body could do.

Six of the birds
Audubon rendered
are now extinct.

And, like the Carolina parakeet,
the passenger pigeon,
the Labrador duck,
the great auk,
the Eskimo curlew,
and the pinnated grouse,
my husband
is no longer sighted
in the places he loved.

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).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

While Cleaning Out a Closet by Eileen Curran-Kondrad

I came upon a picture of you
In a full page newspaper article about
The inn you and he bought together.
The two of you
Rolled up, laminated like a time capsule.

You were standing,
Gazing out of the picture
With your husband sitting down next to you.
Smiling even though you’d spent hours
Peeling shrimp because
He told you it was cheaper to buy it that way.
Tending bar until all hours of the night
Because he said it was cheaper that way.
Worrying about your children
Still in day care while
He was… God knows where.

When he was jailed
For drunk driving
He made you call his office
And lie.

You were still smiling until the day
He refused to stop for gas,
Though you pleaded
The children cried and
The car stalled
On the freeway.

You were stranded.
The needle on the gage
Was on empty and
You knew
It was over.

Eileen Curran-Kondrad is adjunct faculty at Plymouth State University. She has published in NEATE (The Journal of New England Association for Teachers of English), Folded Word, and Red Eft Review.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Still Life with Six Flowers, Three Apples, and a Pear by Jen Finstrom

          After Jane Hirschfield’s “It Was Like This: You Were Happy”

          It doesn’t matter what they will make of you
          or your days: they will be wrong
          -“It Was Like This: You Were Happy,” Jane Hirschfield

It was like this: you went away
to college, swore you wouldn’t
run around with boys or drink, and
then you did, almost immediately.
You swore you’d never get married,
and you did, though it improved
nothing in that relationship. After
your divorce, you swore you would
never date again, swore that you
were happy as you were, that you
were safe in your apartment filled
with books and art, with the calm
still life you gaze at from your bed
every night and morning: three yellow
daisies and three pink, three round apples,
one golden pear—all of the space here
taken up by you. Once you still hoped
to salvage things with your ex, and
you would ask him, “Safe?” and he
would answer but without the question
mark. It was like this: nothing at all
was ever safe, not then or now.

Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for thirteen years, and recent publications include Gingerbread House Literary Magazine and MockingHeart Review with work forthcoming in Thimble. Her work also appears in several Silver Birch Press anthologies. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Sea Change by Ivo Drury

we forswore the seaside
choosing an inland vacation
at the edge of a forest
no seabirds
though the killdear walk like them
and the breeze in the trees
are as incoming waves

A native of Ireland, Ivo Drury lives along the California coast where his view compensates for his fear of the Big One.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

What the Stars Knew by Steve Klepetar

          The stars know everything,
          So we try to read their minds.

          -Charles Simic

My grandmother climbed mountains,
my mother told me, the only woman

in a company of men. After climbing
all day, they had to leave their gear

and take cover from an avalanche.
“What if someone steals our stuff?”

she asked, and the guide
just looked at her and shook his head.

That night the stars, which know everything,
shone down with their silver light.

She was young then, and wondered
who her husband would be.

Of course the stars knew, but they kept silent,
spread out against the black sky.

They knew she would have two daughters,
and be unhappy with the man her father chose,

though he played piano well and was generous to a fault.
And the stars knew she would die a terrible death.

They knew her daughters would scatter
across the earth, have sons who would have sons.

All this the cold stars knew on that night swollen with silence and calm.

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

Thursday, February 6, 2020

the ghost, having risen by John Sweet

grey skies & temperature dropping,
smell of cut grass, screams of crows

are you sorry you
believe in motion?

are you frightened by
the idea of death?

at some point you’re old enough to
realize that no one
really wants to hear the truth

wake up tired, sore, depressed

this will be the day the
roof caves in

the day the child’s body is found in
a shallow grave in mexico

in upstate new york

and each story generates its own
insufficient heat, of course,
and we cannot help but be
burned by the light of the sun

not every story is meant
to make you smile

not every moment needs to be
weighted down by this
sense of failure

the god you love the most
will always be the one
who bleeds you dry in the end

John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A FLAG ON FIRE IS A SONG OF HOPE (2019 Scars Publications).

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Word Wonders by Richard Martin

          Out of this warm-toned horizon
          came the sound I‘d come to see:
          the distant silence of the woodcock.

          Mark Cocker

I often read a sentence and think,
I wish I had written that;
so a mere collection of words
sets a new thought alight to burn its way
into the very heart of some truth or other.

Outside my window the motionless trees
speak of the silence they help me to see,
while a solitary prayer of smoke rises
from an invisible chimney,
wordlessly yet eloquent.

It doesn‘t take much to stimulate the mind –
here a word, there an image
can work miracles: change water
into wine, make the blind see –
the seeds of awakening belief.

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. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Morning Light by Steven Croft

Walking out after my island’s wettest December day
on record, rain drip sounds more slow-footed since dawn,
I pass the tin-roofed boat shed to push aside wet branches
of camellias and azaleas looking for my outdoor cats.
Drops of water glisten on high pines in rising sunlight. Birds sing.
Squirrels chatter. I lift the sharp smell of sap to my nose
after reaching down to toss aside a broken pine bough.

Looking down, I’m stopped by the opened bivalve of deer tracks
like tiny angel’s wings imprinted in the soggy dirt of the path.
Sometime during the rain my neighborhood’s rarest visitor,
pushed out by every new house to wooded bogs
around undevelopable marsh,
graced my yard.

Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He has recent poems in Sky Island Journal, As It Ought to Be Magazine, Poets Reading the News, So it Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday, and San Pedro River Review.