Friday, April 30, 2021

Leaving by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

I picked the pattern of the drapes
long hours spent
in artisans’ shops
choosing each thread and weave
of the Kashan rugs
each mirror
each lamp and light fixture
each wrought-iron balcony spoke
of our home that overlooks
the stretch of thicket
panoramic rash of shrub and hedge
a green punctuation
in this otherwise drab and soulless
monstrosity of a megacity

but it is transient
this brief and curated abode
footsteps bound now
for another shore
all the morsels of our lives
lie wrapped
in reams of newspaper
packed into fifty cardboard boxes.

I pause in the hallway
to make peace with the void
booming between the walls
moving trucks long gone
the house stands hollow
starlight struggles
to spear through smog
an ivory glow blooms in the dark

and I wonder
about our midlife madness
knee-jerk one way tickets in our hands
as the murals I painted
wish me Godspeed
on walls that were supposed to witness
the memories we would
have garnered here
ploughing through life
growing old together
receding now
at the finality
of the clang of the skeleton key
echoing through the lacuna.

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist, poet, and pianist. Her recent works have been featured in Silver Birch Press, Visitant Lit, and Underwood Press. New works are forthcoming in Black Bough Poetry, Multiplicity Magazine, and elsewhere. She is Chief Editor for Authora Australis. Find her @oormilaprahlad and

Monday, April 26, 2021

Providence by Carolynn Kingyens

You will marry a woman
so afraid of silence
she'll make small talk
with anyone who'll solicit —
Jehovah Witnesses,
with whom doesn’t matter.

You, on the other hand,
hate small talk,
and aren’t afraid
of silence.

But back then,
your differences
were an aphrodisiac.

You — aplomb
and cocksure.

She — the silly sexpot.

Those humid nights
in Providence,
where you'd go
stumbling around
in the dark,
running your clammy hands
over her thoroughbred thighs.

Back when her pleasure
was your pleasure,
promising a forever passion
like this.

Your voice,
full of future,
swirled with the ambient buzz
of the ceiling fan
as she'd lie naked
beside you,
under a pool
of sweaty sheets,
smoking a cigarette.

Her O-shaped mouth
made a series of smoke rings
in the dark.

No one tells you
a forever passion
is the grandest
of lies.

Or how there’s
a silence
more deafening
than a scream.

Carolynn Kingyens’ debut book of poetry, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound (Kelsay Books), can be ordered through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Greenlight, Book Culture, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop and McNally Jackson. In addition to poetry, Carolynn writes narrative essays, book and film reviews, flash and short fiction. Her latest short story, "The Peggy Effect," can be read by clicking here. Carolynn resides in New York with her husband and two amazing daughters.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Rockets' Red Glare by Howie Good

The movie was called To Hell and Back.
He played himself, Pvt. Audie Murphy,
the most decorated soldier of World War II.
On the screen, he single-handedly stormed
Axis blockhouses and machine-gun nests
while lesser men cringed in foxholes or got hit
by bullets and crumpled. I was just an awkward,
chubby kid with awkward, chubby kid problems
when I saw the movie, but I remember it was in black
and white, and that he had a boyishly bland face
and the cold, rageful soul of a killer, and that I wanted
more than anything to be exonerated like him.

Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and The Bad News First (Kung Fu Treachery Press).

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Photograph of Daddy and Mother at the Shore by Cameron Spencer

The two of them
grin on the beach
Daddy squints into the sun,
          head tilted toward Mother.

He’s tan, trim—“buff”—
to design machines
          that perforate paper;
          that measure out segments
then cut them short.

He will free himself from the denials
          of the Depression
and die in twenty years.

Mother faces the lens head-on,
          legs astride,
          sturdy in her candy-striped one-piece suit.

She will live forty years more without him—
          twice again the age she is in the photograph.

He died young
          and content.
She, old and ill,
disappointed by a life that delivered few of its promises.

This, a black-and-white reminder:

Early death is not the worst possible end.

Cameron Spencer lives in Savannah, Georgia, where she writes short stories and poetry.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Field Trip by Martha Christina

In the near field
three spring lambs
jump the bordering
stone wall, eagerly
and easily, into the
lane lined with daffodils.

and their mothers,
and their mothers,
all bleating.

Martha Christina has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). Her work appears in earlier issues of Red Eft Review, and recently in Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Journal’s Pollinator Project. Born and raised in Indiana, she now lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The First by Martha Christina

When my cousin planted his south field
in soybeans rather than corn, neighbors
called him crazy, in private and to his face.
But he and the soybeans thrived, or as he
modestly said, as he signed the purchase
and sale agreement to his farm, “I did
okay.” He retired to Kentucky Lake,
a place he’d visited once on the rare
vacation available to a farmer. He
built a place right on the shore,
lived out a poor man’s dream.

Martha Christina has published two collections: Staying Found (Fleur-de-lis Press) and Against Detachment (Pecan Grove Press). Her work appears in earlier issues of Red Eft Review, and recently in Star 82 Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Tiny Seed Journal’s Pollinator Project. Born and raised in Indiana, she now lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Natural Order of Things by Ben Rasnic

Having absorbed the news,
now framed pensive
in the window
of Room 309.

The tree line mimics
the view from my adolescence,
evergreen, gold and maroon
brushing the azure sky.

Blue gray clouds drape
then drift almost imperceptibly
in tandem
with the transition of time.

Now and then
seagulls wing leisurely,
sweeping the landscape
in precise well ordered formation.

I tug the shade closed
then turn to face
the calendar wall,

cross out another day
I can never take back.

Ben Rasnic currently resides in Bowie, Maryland. Author of four published collections (three available from, Ben's poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

As If There Were Some Other Kind by Robert Demaree

1. Independent Living

The governance at Golden Pines
Intends to raze St. Joseph Hall
And so is not replacing
Those who move on
As circumstance conspires,
To Assisted Living,
(As if there were some other kind)
Or Health Care or Memory Care
Or other destinations.
One wonders, then,
What they must feel,
Those who remain,
Bringing their groceries in from the car,
One or two small bags,
To see only seven names left
On the directory
In the dimly lighted hall.

2. Tag Sale

On the walking track at Golden Pines
The hall is lined with tag sale wares.
Young staffers check out bargains,
High chairs bought for grandsons
Now in law school.
The Parkers, eighty-five, move slowly,
Inspecting here a sofa, here a lamp.
They’ve given up their cottage,
In Assisted Living now.
They do not intend to buy,
Just to retrace their steps.
That chair, she says, came from Maine, I think;
Look, you can just barely see
Where Annie spilled the juice.

3. Carriers

Morning walk at Golden Pines:
Late February sky deep blue
Through trees for now still leafless
But about to change their minds.
A moving van packs up the contents of a cottage,
Fewer since her husband died,
And takes them to Assisted Living,
As if there were some other kind.
Across the pond, the hink and honk of geese,
Heading north, programmed to care for their own.
An ambulance pulls slowly away
From the Health Care Building,
Siren, blue lights turned off.

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.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Skully by Steve Deutsch

Last Saturday we met at Denny’s bar
up on Remsen Avenue by the old Seltzer plant.
The pregame show flashed on the big screen

as Sal took a long sip of beer,
and brought out an old peppermint tin—
inside was a worn RC Cola cap and a piece of chalk.

“Remember Skully,” he asked?
as if we’d ever forget
the street game we played as kids

on four squares of Brooklyn sidewalk—
a game as New York City
as the Empire State Building.

How we prized those bottle caps,
each of us with a lucky one or two—
history written in a hundred scuffs.

We lived small back then
and had to guard the caps from our moms—
who were known to throw out anything

that “sat out.”
I recognized Sals’ RC cap.
He won it from me in the summer of ’54.

We were out the door in a Budweiser minute.
And that afternoon—instead of watching another b-ball game
we chalked the court and played like the children we once were.

Down on hands and knees we flicked bottle caps
with arthritic fingers and called each other
by nicknames we thought forgotten.

At the end of that afternoon
I had won the RC cap back—
at least until the rematch.

Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. Some of his recent publications have or will appear in The Mark Literary Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The RavensPerch, MacQueen’s Quinterly, 8 Poems, Louisiana Lit, Burningword Literary Journal, Third Wednesday, and Muddy River Poetry Review. Steve was nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His chapbook, Perhaps You Can, was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press and his full length book, Persistence of Memory, was also published by Kelsay Press in 2020.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dirty Laundry by Al Ortolani

Tired of airing his laundry, the novelist
decides to write in the third person,
focusing on tradesmen in a small village
in late medieval England.
His main character is a cooper,
known for his cured oaken casks.
The village is south of London,
a coastal town, a day’s cart ride from Weymouth.
Gulls pester the barrel maker at an inn table.
He shoos them with one hand while he spoons
his pottage with the other. The innkeeper’s
daughter fills his cup from a pitcher.
She wears a blue ribbon in her auburn hair.
Her eyes are green with promise. Her mother,
a pocked, petulant woman, snaps a bedsheet
from an upper window. Fishwives
ignore the rat, escaping down
the mooring line from a French boat.
Always the rat, the fleas, the innkeeper’s mouser
dozing on an empty barrel.

Al Ortolani’s most recent collections are: On the Chicopee Spur which was released by New York Quarterly Books in 2018 and Swimming Shelter: 100 Poems in 100 Days which was published by Spartan Press in December of 2020. Ortolani is the Manuscript Editor for Woodley Press in Topeka, Kansas, and has directed a memoir writing project for Vietnam veterans across Kansas in association with the Library of Congress and Humanities Kansas. He is a 2019 recipient of the Rattle Chapbook Series Award for Hansel and Gretel Get the Word on the Street. Currently, as a retired teacher, he lives in the Kansas City area, subsisting on Chinese carry-out with his wife Sherri and their rescue dog Stanley.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Even Now by Steve Klepetar

There’s a buzzing in my ears.
All night it has driven me mad,
even now when spring spreads
her green glories all around.
More and more, birds break
the silence of afternoon.
A world away, an old friend
has fallen, fractured her hip.
Two of my son’s high school
friends died suddenly this week.
So far, our luck has held —
wholesome food on our table,
strong new roof over our heads.
Every day we wake up
a little closer to the darkness.
My throat is stuck as if I breathed in
an ocean wave or swallowed the crescent moon.

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

Monday, April 12, 2021

Venial, 1972 by Michelle Reale

The weather never goes out of fashion. We were not born to be nimble. My mother's pink curlers gripped her scalp with an imperative. The curl, she knew, would eventually fall, the acid rain a blunt instrument aimed at our vanity. We were guilty of so many things, but precipitation was not one of them. I existed within the aerosol mist of Aqua Net, my penance for the way I contorted all of my waking dreams. The clouds could have spelled any year. The dark circles under my mother's eyes spoke a transgressive silence. I covered my ears. The bra that pinched, white and blameless hung on the line like an idea gone wrong. The cigarette in the ashtray crossed the boundaries of the feminine, but stayed within the margins exclusive of meteorological classifications. I could tell something of the crying on too many days of relentless sunshine, if only someone would have the temerity to ask.

Michelle Reale is the author of Season of Subtraction (Bordighera Press, 2019) and In the Blink of a Mottled Eye (Kelsay Books, 2020) and the forthcoming Blood Memory: Prose Poems (Idea Press). She is the Founding and Managing Editor of Ovunque Siamo: New Italian-American Writing.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Untitled [Children] by Roberta "Bobby" Santlofer

For years
have been
turning down
the corners of my life

Filling in shadows
with light

Bouncing darkness
so high

Wearing sunglasses
cuts the glare

Not enough

can I see
those dark illuminations
that once moved through my mind

Roberta “Bobby” Santlofer (1943-2020) was a mother of sons, an avid reader, and a poet. A posthumous collection of her poetry is forthcoming. Santlofer’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, Grey Sparrow Review, and elsewhere.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Remembering Cecil Carter by Jeffrey Zable

Visiting him in the hospital about a week before he died,
I mostly didn’t know what to say so I just expressed how much
I enjoyed playing conga drums with him at the rumbas
and that I looked forward to seeing him again at a rumba
even though I knew it was never going to happen.

And while continuing to stand there to the side of his bed
I noticed that on the opposite table there was a book on Buddhism
which made me wonder if he was an active Buddhist or was just reading
about Buddhism to find some comfort in his final days.

Before leaving, I took out the conga drum necklace that I’d brought
for him, and when I put it in his hand he conjured up a smile,
slowly put the necklace around his neck, and nodded his thanks
before I said take care and walked out the door.

Jeffrey Zable is a teacher, conga drummer/percussionist who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music, and a writer of poetry, flash fiction, and nonfiction. His writing has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies, more recently in Former People, Kitchen Sink, Beatnik Cowboy, Corvus, The Nonconformist, Uppagus and many others.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Valley Forge by Norma DaCrema

When you drive up the hill at 3 am,
there are no grazing deer,
no sleek foxes streaking
through the underbrush,
no possums emboldened by the dark,
no groundhogs, skunks, no squirrels.
There are only eyes,
little flames of orange and red
like amber gemstones
set in a swirling blue-black cape
or strewn among the tail feathers
of a peacock impossibly vast and
sumptuously studded with eyes.
Hundreds of eyes.

Norma DaCrema is a veteran high-school teacher of Religion and English at an independent girls' school in Pennsylvania. A first-year student in Arcadia's low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing, she has published in The Lyric and SkyWave magazine. She lives in Rosemont with her son and four cats, including Bad Randy.

Monday, April 5, 2021

First Day of School by Norma DaCrema

With a dew-gold sheen
still tossed like a sheet
over the whole sleepy world,
a small sorrow is unfolding
for a mother squirrel--
her nest dislodged,
her young undone,
writhing hairless on the road.
The school bus will stop.
Frantic, all chatter and arms,
she pulls her little ones
–stunned, blind, barely living–
to safety at the curb
until only the still one remains.

In stiff backpacks and fresh sneakers,
our children mull over last traces of breakfast
as in silent confederacy
we arrange ourselves in sad rows,
casting shadows just so
the sad things stay there.

Those lessons can wait.

Norma DaCrema is a veteran high-school teacher of Religion and English at an independent girls' school in Pennsylvania. A first-year student in Arcadia's low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing, she has published in The Lyric and SkyWave magazine. She lives in Rosemont with her son and four cats, including Bad Randy.