Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Submissions Are Temporarily Closed

View from Above by M.J. Iuppa

Smokestacks, against skyline, thick gray smoke raining
the ash of a hundred years ago, falling upon brick houses


She sits at her kitchen window, high above Niagara, eating
a spoonful of red raspberry jam; watching afternoon dissolve


Intermittently, merchant ships blast their horns, making slow
passage on a canal to Ontario, heading north to the sea


By dark, she presses her forehead against the screen, wondering
what she has failed to see in the wake of so many things leaving

M.J. Iuppa’s fifth full-length poetry collection The Weight of Air is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in May of 2022. For the past 33 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability and life’s stew.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Sometimes in Winter by M.J. Iuppa

December, late afternoon, dusting of snow, I
stand on the soft shoulder of the two-lane

road, with my back to the sun’s buttery light
that stretches my shadow’s silhouette in-

to a looming cutout of myself, lying
on the frozen grass, looking up at

a peerless sky.

M.J. Iuppa’s fifth full-length poetry collection The Weight of Air is forthcoming from Kelsay Books in May of 2022. For the past 33 years, she has lived on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Check out her blog: mjiuppa.blogspot.com for her musings on writing, sustainability and life’s stew.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Commemoration by Melody Wang

On this day celebrating
or reproaching love, I can only
recall each year you were still here,
clutching a fragrant bouquet for mom —

never mind the allergies that flared
even as she, beaming, placed each
one in the dark green sturdy vase
certain to hold the life within

Now she sits in the gloom
of a room that is too cold, empty
nester forced to befriend the shadows
and suppress the urge to burrow

into small cracks, senses heightened
with the absence of those fragrant
bouquets that never failed to remind her
of the fullness of home, of you

Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband and wishes it were autumn all year ‘round. Her debut collection of poetry Night-blooming Cereus was released in December 2021 with Alien Buddha Press. She can be found on Twitter @MelodyOfMusings or at her website https://linktr.ee/MelodyOfMusings

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Magpies by Melody Wang

The morning after
we told my mother
she would become
a first-time grandmother,

she sat alone in the garden
relaxing in the early morning sun,
craned her neck up at the huge tree
and spied a feisty pair of magpies

flitting about in a figure 8 — they squawked
out their monastic chants with abandon,
guarded their muddied little nest
tucked away in the groove

of a high branch. She froze,
eyes wide in a bewildered trance
as she suddenly recalled her own
mother so long ago, behind her

braiding my mother's thick hair,
her gentle voice murmuring about
the songs of magpies symbolizing
good news when you need it the most

My mother's smile was tremulous as she sat
in her garden, shrouded by the sweet incense
of memory, palms pressed together to ponder
all the ways we press on towards the light

Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband and wishes it were autumn all year ‘round. Her debut collection of poetry Night-blooming Cereus was released in December 2021 with Alien Buddha Press. She can be found on Twitter @MelodyOfMusings or at her website https://linktr.ee/MelodyOfMusings

Friday, February 18, 2022

Cotton Fields by C.W. Bigelow

Wandering by cotton fields,
owned by their ancestors,
on their way to crowded church services
to listen to words scripted
2000 years ago.

Current connotations are passed
in code from father to son,
mother to daughter,
values like hereditary cells
morphing malignantly,

continuing a
generational scripture
still inhospitable,
tenacious, secretly
building walls of supremacy.

Like those ancestors
who owned those that slaved
the fields,
roots are deep and rigid
as the white cotton plants.

C.W. Bigelow lives around Charlotte, North Carolina. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Blood & Bourbon, Good Works Review, Backchannels, The Saturday Evening Post, Flash Fiction Magazine, Remington Review, Hare’s Paw, The Write Launch, and Hole in the Head Review with a poem forthcoming in Last Leaves Magazine.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

That Dog by Michelle Meyer

There he is again,
that dog,
the one that wags his tail
and trots out to greet me
because he knows that I am always
carrying a treat.
I call his name
and he runs to me, but
he never follows me.
He knows where home is.
He knows,
as I walk away,
that home is not
with me. He doesn’t love me,
but he likes me.
And I like him too.
We like each other
in the way that seasonal employees
like each other,
able to pick up right where
we left off,
able to say goodbye
without tears.

Michelle Meyer is a hiker, housesitter, and tireless gardener. Her poems have recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in After the Pause, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Minnow Literary Magazine, The Talking Stick, Welter (from the University of Baltimore), and Writing in a Woman’s Voice among others.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Haiku by Barrie Levine

viewing the viewers
the museum guard’s
job description

Barrie Levine retired from law practice in her seventies and began to avidly read and write haiku. She participates in virtual open mics and teaches a writing class at her senior center. If anyone asks what she does in her retirement, she proudly identifies herself as a haiku poet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Sanding the Driveway by William Doreski

Sanding the driveway at dawn,
I count the elements conspiring
to break my most useful bones.

Ice, snow, a stumbling north wind.
Parodic gestures could undo me,
so I walk so limberly Charlie

Chaplin could have taken lessons.
You watch from the living room
where the cats stretch and critique.

Winter nails its imperatives
as firmly as Martin Luther did.
The unraveled distances ply

snow-spritz and muscular clouds.
Summer houses beside the lake
gasp with loneliness, each room

a study in departed spirits.
Later I’ll walk out on the ice
to hear it boom and crackle.

Two feet thick. No risk of drowning,
although the fish suspended
in semi-hibernation could use

a good laugh, their boredom etched
so deeply on their expressions.
I want to stand in the middle

of that massive optical illusion
and pretend I’m walking on water.
The driveway is drivable again.

The cats applaud with yawns while
you turn away your damp outlook
and return to counting the spoons.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Haiku by John J. Dunphy

community food pantry
still giving away donated fruitcakes
in February

John J. Dunphy is a haiku poet. His poetry collections include Old Soldiers Fading Away, Zen Koanhead, Stellar Possibilities, pagan rites, Dark Nebulae and Touching Each Tree. He owns The Second Reading Book Shop in Alton, Illinois.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Lady Liar by Susan Cossette

Her dialect adapts, depending
on where she is, who she is with,
and how much wine is involved.

Was she born in Boston’s Back Bay,
or in the Bronx,
gazing at jagged potholes
and leftover fast food containers
tossed on the Brucker Expressway?

In high school, she stole Izod socks
out of gym lockers,
cut off the tiny alligators,
sewed them onto her acrylic JC Penney sweaters.

Her gold-knot earrings came from Woolworths,
coated with clear nail polish.

She learned to set a table
and write formal thank-you notes
from books in the public library.

She runs wild, in awe of the atomic tiger lilies
and black-eyed Susans
growing by the highway
on the vast Midwestern plains.

The doctor’s son grew tired of her
antiques, hydrangeas, poetry, and affairs.

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press), and After the Equinox.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Inside the Cloud by Russell Rowland

What to say of this morning’s fog?
When we reached high trailhead,
all was obscured, the hikers phantoms.
A dog barked we couldn’t see.

Driving there, we’d scanned the range
from a distance. One cloud lay
on top of it, like a big fat Merino.
We could get lost in its fleece.

Friends were invisible ten feet away.
It was like being old in a white room.
Or nodding off. Counting down
under anesthesia for the surgeon.

It looked like the last thing you’d see
before dying. But soon enough, day
broke through. We tightened our laces
and went where the sun wanted.

Russell Rowland writes from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, where he has judged high-school Poetry Out Loud competitions. His work appears in Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall (Encircle Publications), and Covid Spring, Vol. 2 (Hobblebush Books). His latest book is Wooden Nutmegs (Encircle Publications).

Monday, February 7, 2022

Kayaking by Robert Demaree

1. August 2012

I call the cottages
By the names of owners past,
My parents’ friends.
There are plastic swans
At Don Queen’s place,
Set out to ward off Canada geese
New to our New Hampshire pond.
I paddle close to shore,
Compiling in my mind
An invasive watercraft index,
Awarding points for those
Powered by hand or wind,
Deductions for inboards,
Jet skis and the like.
I have misjudged the people
In the Campbell house:
They have a kayak after all.

Against the rumble
Of an occasional truck
On the state road
One cannot hear
The fishermen’s trolling motor,
A neutral value on my scale,
As two guys,
Probably from another pond,
Head, as fishermen will,
For the spot,
A gathering place for bass,
That my father loved.

2. September 2014

Cerulean September postcard day,
Breeze six knots or so out of the Northwest:
Two small kayaks put in at the public launch,
A young couple from somewhere else
Setting out to see new vistas on our pond.
I would like to point things out to them:
The tutoring camp where my father taught,
The dam, the inlet where Perry Brook
Ends its narrow run down Copple Crown,
The cottage where we lived
When we first came here—what?—
Nearly seventy summers ago.
I might also ask them if they checked for milfoil.
But they are headed the other way.
I paddle along the west shore,
Past the family of mergansers I saw last week,
Their young still not ready
To set out on their own.
My friend Herb, widowed some years back,
Often sits on his dock alone,
Drinking coffee, reading the paper.
Today, though, he has someone with him,
A woman, I think.

3. Around the Pond

Quiet pond morning in July,
Kayak gliding alongside the past:
A pine tree, now bare, reaches out
Over the shallow bay;
Julys ago our girls
Stood here to pose, then bravely splash
Into the warm, yellow-sand lake, ankle deep.
On the hill we used to climb
The craggy overlook socked in,
Growth of dense green years.
Just as well:
The view we loved now shows
Other hills laid bare for condos.
I paddle home
Against a fresh breeze;
Shoulders that have seen seventy summers
Pull against water heavy with time,
Past the cottages of my father’s friends.

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 numerous periodicals, including Cold Mountain Review and Louisville Review.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Regression at the Middle-Age Soiree by Carolynn Kingyens

You're surprised when
Blythe Monk,
your daughter's
soft-spoken preschool teacher
from years ago,
who always smells
of Chanel No.5,
pulls out a sandwich bag
full of neatly-wrapped joints
from her COACH purse.

For a brief moment,
you think she's holding
a bag full of Bang Snaps,
those white, twist-tie
wrapper explosives
you once threw
on the ground with glee
when you were a child,
decades ago.

You reach in and take two
Bang Snap-joints;
one for now,
one for later.

And you think —
This is middle-age

while standing
in the midst
of middle-school parents
at the soiree,
where chardonnay
and sangria keep
flowing for hours.

Your thoughts ruminate:

My husband is sleeping
in the guest room; says
it's because of my snoring.

My daughter hates me.

I get side cramps
every time I bend over
to zip-up my favorite,
black suede boots.

I hate my life.

You can feel your defenses
fall as trees do —
loud and disastrous.

Next, you're flirting
with your widower neighbor
with the meticulous lawn —
the retired, tight-lipped
CIA agent, who jogs
every single day
at the crack of dawn,
no matter the weather.

His self-discipline shames

His self-discipline shames
everyone at the party.

You drink sangria
until your mouth has a
port-wine stain mustache.

You twerk on the widower
with the nice lawn.

You twerk on the soft-spoken
Blythe Monk.

You twerk atop
the breakfast bar
until you fall down —

More than anything, Carolynn Kingyens writes to ultimately connect. She is the author of two poetry collections, Before the Big Bang Makes a Sound and the recently released Coupling, both published by Kelsay Books. In addition to poetry, she writes essays, book/film reviews, micro/flash fiction and short stories. Her short story "Bye Bye, Miss American Pie" was one of fifteen stories selected by Across the Margin, a Brooklyn arts & culture magazine, for their Best Fiction of 2021 list. Click here to read a book review for Coupling, written by the wonderful poet Sharon Waller Knutson.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Impermanence by Daniel Sklar

Names on lists disappear.
Names on lists are replaced
with other names.
People in these offices
will be different.
Other people will walk
the halls and paths
with important things
on their mind.
Like the books
you read in high school,
things disintegrate.
There are new dreams
of strangers saying things
to one another
like the ones before.
Everything will be new
until it isn't.
It gets easier and easier
to say good-bye to things
like the voices and lights
from other rooms
and the unrest
closing in on love.
Your signal flashes
to the world
like a star long gone.
You look forward to being
a memory which is what
you were in the first place.

Daniel Sklar teaches Creative Writing at Endicott College, and has been published in the Harvard Review, English Journal, Beat Scene, and the New York Quarterly among other journals. His books include Flying Cats, Hack Writer, and Bicycles, Canoes, Drums. He rides a bicycle to work.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Krapp's Last Tape by Doug Holder

          Based on a play by Samuel Beckett

In the end
I became
what was
once a
of my fascination.

An old man
praying over
a tape recorder
of memories,
wincing at
his youthful

In some
dark, dank
trying to edit
the mournful dirge
of things

To rewind,
to hover
under the sliver
of light
from the disrepair
of a lamp...
to listen
again and again
to that time
she came
to me--

and her eyes
let me...

Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. He teaches Creative Writing at Endicott College. For years he ran poetry groups for psychiatric patients at McLean Hospital outside of Boston. His latest collection is The Essential Doug Holder: New and Selected Poems.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Old Scholar by William G. Gillespie

Often, he stayed in bed
and labored over his book

about the word obey
in Shakespeare, and its roots

in the Latin audire. Often
he thought about the imperfectness

of things and the endless silence
of death. And when the loudest sound

was his dog pawing for water,
the creaking timber of his home,

the song of a wren,
or his own waning breath,

he tried to remember that the dead,
the obedient, listen perfectly.

William G. Gillespie lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY. His poetry has appeared in The Drunken Canal and is forthcoming in Olney Magazine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Free Falling by Sharon Waller Knutson

As we read the date, May 8, 2009,
in his grandmother’s journal,
the image sticks in our minds
of the long and lanky legs
of our six-foot two son flailing
through the wet Washington
air like the wings of a hapless
heron as he falls thirty feet
and lands with a thud
on the hard concrete pavement.

We can still hear his voice woozy
and wavy as he fights his way
through the anesthesia following
the surgery to repair shattered bones
in his hip and both wrists. I rolled
like they taught me in the military
parachute training or I’d be dead.

We can still see him crawling
on his hands and knees to lift
himself into the truck to drive
his son to school and then sitting
in a wheelchair on the sidelines
as his son hits a homerun
in Little League Baseball.

Do you remember the date
you fell from the roof?
we ask
as he calls on his speaker phone
as his weakened wrists
at forty-six steer the rig
through the rush hour
and his hip full of hardware
hurts in the humidity. Nope,
he says, but I can’t complain
since I lived to see my boy
turn twenty-two in May.

Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published several poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields by Flutter Press and What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say (to read a book review click here) and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob now available from Kelsay Books. Her work has also appeared in One Art, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Poetry Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review and The Song Is…

Sharon's book review of Carolynn Kingyens' poetry collection Coupling was recently published by Across the Margin. Click here to check it out.