issue #3

Dark Stalker by Darrell Parry

As I thought about putting together an October issue, of course my mind immediately decided on a creepy vibe teeming with death and desolation, blood and monsters. I even chose cover art reflecting the theme. But as I sifted through the submissions I kept running across things that didn’t fit my theme, but also felt right for this issue. I found serenity among cornstalks in Peycho Kanev’s “The Secret.” I realized that Fall meant going back to school and therefore “Educational Drama” by James B. Nicola could go nowhere else. As this issue covered November as well, where else would I put Joan Greig’s “Voting?”

Sure, there are still fangs to be found here. Death still speaks in these silicone halls. But it’s important to remember that Fall flavors include much more than pumpkin spice.

The poet goes again
to the harbor to steal some
new poems from the sea.

Look at him now. He just
stands there, swaying gently
in the wind, like a mast
without sails and watches
the endless waves.

When he is ready he goes
to the country and he looks for
the yellow fields and recites
his poems to the sunflowers
in the middle of the night,
until the scarecrow kicks him
out of there.

Peycho Kanev is the author of 8 poetry collections and three chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, such as: Rattle, Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, Hawaii Review, Barrow Street, Sheepshead Review, Off the Coast, The Adirondack Review, Sierra Nevada Review, The Cleveland Review and many others. His new chapbook titled Under Half-Empty Heaven was published in 2019 by Grey Book Press. He has several nominations for the Pushcart Prize. 

Love is patient, love is kind,
And a mother’s love is
Something
Fierce.

Did you know, in the wild,
The lionesses do the hunting?

Doting mothers of downy cubs
Purring and tender-tongued—
How they slink,
Keen-eyed and silent,
Bring down wild beasts
To feed their young.

When you were born
You were the only male in the room,
Brought forth by gritted teeth,
The guttural roarings
Of motherhood.
Your pulsing life erupted
With a cry
Between my blood-drenched thighs.

And the lion?
The lion had sauntered off
To mate with some other pussy.

That was the day my love grew fangs.

C.J. Kreit lives in central Kentucky with her husband and two children.  Along with all things literary, she enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, and working with horses.

Their motives for trying out, varied as
the number in the hall, were never known.
Not to themselves, not to each other.

But in the end, it was the humpy physics
major who got cast, not as Paris
(a perfect role for some fit novice), nor
as one of the scene-one rowdies who bite
thumbs and jeer (all roles optimally served
by well-groomed thighs as well)—but Romeo;

and Juliet was an acne’d shy thing
who’d signed up for the class just for the credit;

while it was the serious actors who
played Tybalt (who dies early), Benvolio
(who’s required to listen to Romeo for several acts),
Paris, and Lady Capulet. The Nurse
and Friar were four-eyed freshmen, surely virgins,
from outside the department, chemistry
and anthropology. Lord Capulet,
self-styled dweeb, could barely speak! The stars
of the department, many, had to dance
at the masked ball, dressed down by the swishy Prince
(cast sibilant, for the director was
a feminist—and Lesbian, some said).
And some of them were barely seen again,
save for the crowd scenes. Unbelievable.

Well, the production seemed so out of whack
that the chairman of the drama department dis-
invited the respondent from the Kennedy Center
and uncast majors sneered; those cast, knew better.

But by week two you couldn’t get a ticket.
The science majors filled one house, then told

their friends who told their friends who told their friends.
An article got published, how the play
was life itself. The President even came
and wept, it was reported. Who cares? More
important is what’s happened to the cast
in the decades since that destined travesty.

The Friar married the Nurse. They’ve seven kids
and work together in a research lab
testing new cures. The stutterer Capulet’s
a senator. Tybalt volunteers vacations
for Doctors Without Borders. Of the gangs,
two—Balthasar and Samson—work for Greenpeace;
Mercutio, Benvolio, and Gregory
for Legal Aid; while Paris and the Prince
have moved to Massachusetts where they’ve married.

Juliet and Romeo have not
appeared on stage since then but live in town.
Tuesday nights they answer phones for a hotline
from 8-12, the calls continuous
so neither has the chance to say much else.
But I helped out one Tuesday before Christmas,
a dark time, and I think I saw them blush
when their eyes met between synchronized calls.
She is a beauty now. And he is kind.
Their voices have grown useful saving lives.

And Rosaline, who had no lines to speak
in Romeo and Juliet, appears
in movies. You would recognize her name.

from the full-length collection Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (WordTech, 2016)


James B. Nicola’s poetry has garnered two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, seven Pushcart nominations, and one Best of the Net nom. His full-length collections include Manhattan Plaza, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019), and Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (2021). A Yale grad, he also has enjoyed a career as a stage director, culminating in the nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Guide to Live Performance, which won a Choice award.

Sitting in the porch rocker
with my Brittany spaniel
next to my feet,
I gaze into the twilight.
There is an autumn crispness 
in the southeast breeze.
The spaniel’s nose snorts
as a V of geese fly overhead.
He should be out in the dried corn stalks
chasing the wild birds from cover.
I should be walking those cornfields
with a shotgun at the ready.
The spaniel slowly gets up
and silently moves 
to the edge of the porch
to watch the geese fly by.
I sold my shotgun
three years ago.

R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. As a poet and novelist,he has been publishing his writing since 1972 in various literary magazines. He has published four books of poems, Parallels, Coming Out Of The Atlantic, Electronic Forecasts.and Ball On The Mound.In addition, he has published three novels. They are Getting Lucky (The Story), Memphis Masquerade, and Seventh Sense.  All these books are available both as ebooks and paperbacks at all publishersincluding Amazon, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble.His web page is https://rgerryfabian.wordpress.com Twitter @GerryFabian2Hel ives in Doylestown, PA

What do you see,
standing by the road
against the stone, blue sky?
What do you hear,
arising from the rippling creek
or calling from the trickster wind?
What do you know,
traveling through time,
communicating with other trees?
How have you survived
the axe and fire and infestation?
What do you record,
inscribing names
of those who linger
near your roots?

A former elementary school teacher, Catherine Coundjeris has also taught writing at Emerson College and ESL writing at Urban College in Boston.  Her poetry is published in literary magazines, including Proem, The Dawntreader, Visions with Voices, Nine Cloud Journal, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Bombfire, Paper Dragons, Kaleidoscope, North of Oxford, Shift, and Halcyon Days.  Catherine is very passionate about adult literacy. 

A bundle of boney twigs
At birth,
A small bag filled with fluid and air,
We are water that flows the earth.

We are born to disappear—
Merging into the streams and rivers
And all that nourishes the ground,
the green, the yellow—

We are composed of summer breeze
And winter snarl
Falling into spring puddle
Darkened with beige mud
Woven like wet strings into dame disappearing shadows
Of the invisible.  

Lynette G. Esposito, MA, Rutgers, has been published in Poetry Quarterly, North of Oxford, Fox Chase Review, THAT Literary Review, Deep Overstock, 42 Stories, and elsewhere.  She was married to Attilio Esposito and lives in Southern NJ with six cats.

Wherever I go,
even with the door secured behind me,
worldliness slips in,
uninvited,
with its headstrong disbelief
that I don’t want to be disturbed.
The wholeness of my dermis,
the shapes on the backs of my eyelids
unable to prevent this invasion

of a relentless military gray sky,
excluding me from endless blue,

of the growing leak
calling to me from my faucet,

of ants feasting on sugar in my cupboard
while moths devour cornmeal,

of blood seeping from my foot
after my favorite cup breaks on the floor,

of my window stunning, perhaps wounding,
a dove that now lies motionless on the ground.

These intrusions,
wrap their tentacles
around me like a hungry tongue
eager to slide under a closed door
to swallow my peace.

First published in Pages Penned in Pandemic: A Collective Jan. 25, 2021

Marianne Brems’ first poetry chapbook is Sliver of Change (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her second chapbook Unsung Offerings is forthcoming in 2021. Her poems have appeared in literary journals including The Pangolin Review, Nightingale & Sparrow, The Sunlight Press, and The Tiny Seed Literary Journal. She lives and cycles in Northern California. Website: www.mariannebrems.com.

Her eyes cast down,
Hurling silent thunderclaps,
Coat slung over her shoulder,
She trudges along that blacktop road,
Which memory turns to dusty trail,
Leaving me to founder in her roiling wake.

I see her shoes, no,
Her bare feet,
Stir up swirls of dust
On a dirt road
Through thorny hills.

Her despondent heels churn
Clouds of cinnamon
That hover
Like hallowed haloes
Around her calves,
(around my soul)
And turn her jeans
From blue
To bitter beige.

The bright golden morning,
With its honeyed breezes,
Collapses
Before the onslaught
Of a baleful black wind
That whirls
Around my dusty heart.

Clark Zlotchew’s poetry and newer short stories have appeared in literary journals in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Germany, South Africa, India and Ireland from 2016 through 2021.  Three of his 17 books consist of his fiction:  an espionage/thriller novel, a military/action novel (under a pseudonym), and an award-winning short story collection, Once Upon a Decade: Tales of the Fifties (Comfort, 2011). Zlotchew’s early experience at sea influences his writing. 

At 7 a.m. a line three miles long
Black people lined up to vote
Women holding babies
Young people
Old people
Business men
Construction workers
Anchor hair
Twists
Braids
A man with a cane and a folding chair
They came
On crutches
In wheelchairs
On the subway
In a Lexus
One old man got excited
He jumped around, sayin,
“Evahbody say Black folks don’t do nuthing–
Look at this! Look at this!”
Energetic young folks and
Elders stooped and aged
Bareheaded
Caps on backwards
A long line, but quiet satisfaction
Someone brought coffee
Another a stroller for a baby who got too heavy
One man proclaimed, on seeing a sweatshirt
Saying “Vote or Die”
“Thass whut ahm talkin ’bout!”  “Thass whut ahm talkin’ bout!”
Once they voted, they came out with a spring in their step
Smiles on their faces
Proudly wearing stickers that proclaimed
“I,se done voted, y’all!
I’se done voted!!!”
(Schwerner, Chaney and Viola looked down smiling).

A former writer for CNN, Joan’s eclectic background in news writing, social work, life as a preacher’s kid, experience in writing fiction, essays, sermons, term papers, political speeches and original essays created for special occasions, equips her to deliver in many diverse arenas.  She has published articles on such subjects as life at CNN as a writer, life as a newcomer in a big city, a viewpoint on Michael Jordan’s retirement from basketball, a special poem for a surprise birthday or anniversary, and positive changes in welfare reform.  From business writing to creative fiction, from scholarly essays to flowery poetry, Joan can deliver your product quickly, confident that by virtue of content you will be pleased.  Joan is always the go-to writer for organizations to which she belongs.

You can lead a horse to water
but you’ll never guess what happens next
a woman might crawl right out of Seabiscuit’s mouth
her hips could get stuck
the horse might need your help getting it’s jaw back in place

Throw caution to the wind
catch a falling star
Make a slingshot from silver linings you found
with your head in the clouds
Borrow cupid’s bow
And shoot some unsuspecting dweeb
With a chance of candy coated raindrops

Heard straight from the horse’s mouth
I will not die inside the belly of a beast!
She wiggles
They heave
Her ass finally free
Even in the midst of imminent danger
We have the capacity to hold ourselves back

And so what if it is just a storm in a teacup?
this is good fucking china
with antiquity and shit
the kind of tea reserved for queens
I should be kept behind the double plated glass doors
protected under lock and key
covered in delicate filigree
not as hostage or housekeeper
but for whom the armoire was built

The second mouse gets the cheese
depending on said circumstances there’s potential it’s covered in blood
Gouda fromage, arrivederci mon frere

Though often times better, than a master of one
There’s nothing insignificant about a random fact
A profound power within charisma and chaos living happily ever after in a slow burning room
I know a little about alot because i spread my time like butter
I’m working on my bread
We’ve all got the potential to light fuses within the mind
And have no idea who started all the little fires everywhere
All I’m saying is tip your waiter
if you think you saw a penis that’s probably because you did
Be gone, bitchtits I’m trying to make brain magic
Is what i tell my dog
As i write a list of all the ways jack’s body betrayed him
I am a third party observer of jack’s liver, he threatens jaundice when jack drinks whiskey as
anesthesia
The space monkeys are at it again
Bring in the specialist!

But fools rarely differ
I think we can all agree
Anyone who speaks for everyone without proper consultation is an asshole
See white I did there?
I’m just playing devil’s advocate here
Speaking on the aloof and uninformed for kicks
We’re just mucking about aren’t we?
Riddle me this, batman!
How does one “not see color” and believe in “black on black” crime?

But satisfaction brought it back
Gotta risk it for the biscuit
Certain truths are as intoxicating as catnip
An aphrodisiac for the open minded
somewhat ill-informed
seekers, shakers, and candlestick makers
if there’s anything spacetime has proven
it’s that just because we can’t see the light
doesn’t mean it wasn’t there to begin with
thus there’s always warrant for searching
always some retrograde pussy causing a collective ruckus
Schrodinger’s cat was in pandora’s box
and who is still on first

Ever since Mr. Fernandez’s fifth grade writer’s workshop Camisha Luellen has identified as a writer. Her formative years were dedicated to a vampire series called “Midnight’s Game: Kyle’s Legend”. Classic buffy, but a millennial at the apex of her emo phase. It could still happen. However She put a pin in not finishing novels when she discovered her poetic voice in art school. Camisha has been playing with tone and cadence, and ponder existentially ever since.

When you cry by your window,
you’re a hero.
You let people view your rumples
and draw pain
from your silver tears that wipe,
like raindrops
running down, over the dusts
on your louvers.
You show them how much you miss
loving, & how
much you wish to become a star —
maybe after
death, or while the world is ending.
You tell them
it is hard to fly, like you, like torn
newspapers
sleeping down from skyscrapers.
You show them
your tears are a rain; they wash things
away, & that
you’re a cloud, a heavy cloud of mysteries,
pain, and quietness.
You tell them your sobs are thunder,
and that they’ll
rumble till someone is saved, by your story
(by you) or
anyone else(‘s), from something in
the air that wants
them too much — as souvenirs for grief
& agony, because
when you cry, sitting on your windowpane,
you’re an angel
of pain — something made of hope.
& you destroy
or save them from something they do (not) know,
give them light,
that every face that smolders in an emotion
by the window
is a person trying to speak, because tears are not
salt and water
as they say, tears are voices melted infinitely.

U. A. Edwardson is a poet, writer from Ahoada, Rivers State, Nigeria. He is an undergraduate at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, with literature solely bent on redefining socio-communicative relationships, health and idea. His works are featured/forthcoming on FOLIO, Madness muse press, Disquiet arts, Write now, African writer, Afritondo, Eboquills, Ngiga review, Sub-saharan and elsewhere. He tweets @eddiewatson31

Sorry to intrude into your young world.
You may ignore me.
I am not sure why I am telling you this,
but Death does begin to speak to you
at a certain age,
probably different for everyone.
I am near 80, she, he, it—
Death has no persona
except what we invent—
mine a scythe wielding crone
with a hideous grin—
just starts to remind,
whispers in my ear
not all the time,
just at a dark corner,
at a crosswalk, 
at the top of the stairs,
any time of day or night
in dreams, daymares,
before the morning pills,
before I snap on
the electric blanket.

Death says
a bone pain here,
an ache there, 
what you did,
what you didn’t do,
a slight fever,
a newspaper article,
Facebook stab,
TV bray,
a small limp,
a sudden fall,
whispers, whispers,
perhaps nags. 
I suspect Death
will not stop
or go away
until we do.

A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred fifty poems on over seventy sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven’s Review, Sledgehammer Magazine, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review. 

Dear Anna, life’s too short
to desire cremation in advance
by throwing yourself into danger
for the thrill of the unexpected

flowers certainly don’t crawl you
if you walk suspended in ecstasy
clouds are shapelessly flat
if your eyes,  blindfolded and pierced
are constantly competing with the heat
of seeking fire in such humid days

you were desperately searching
for an Yggdrasil to be tattooed
drops of ink to blend in and mingle
the stories you’d get obsessed by
that we would read in the attic
away from all sorts of life forms
I would bite your upper lip to mute
your suicidal folk stories

yet one day I found out
you left to catch your train
with a destination written
in an alphabet nobody worked out

Aldo Quagliotti is an italian poet living in London, UK. 
He’s the author of Japanese Tosa (London Poetry Books) and Confessions Of A Pregnant Man (AllienBuddha Press). 
His poems have been rewarded in Italy, Brazil, USA, Canada, Ireland and in the United Kingdom. He has been selected for important anthologies such as Paper therapy,Yawp!, The Essential anthology, Murmurations, Poetical Word, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus. Several webzines and magazines have published his work, such as INNSÆI, U-rights, Credo espoir, Parouisia , Poetica Review and many more. In October 2020 He Has been chosen to represent the Poetry Corner at the London Chelsea + Kesington Art Week.  He’s a Gay activist and a fervid supporter of BLM movement and women rights. 
With a diploma at London College of Media and Publishing in music criticism, He also collaborates with music webzines like Peek-a-boo and Gigsoup, and offers genuine feedback to emerging authors/ musicians on his personal blog Quaquaversal. (  https://quaquaversalweb.wordpress.com/

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