Issue #5

Asheville Wall by Greg Clary

Greg Clary is a retired college professor who was born and raised in Turkey Creek, West Virginia, and now resides in the northwestern Pennsylvania Wilds.
His photographs have been published in The Sun Magazine, Looking at Appalachia, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Watershed Journal, Hole in the Head Review, Dark Horse, Change Seven, Detour Ahead, Bee House Journal, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, North/South Appalachia, Tobeco Literary Journal, and many other publications.
His writing and poems have appeared in The Rye Whiskey Review, The Bridge Literary Arts Journal, Northern Appalachia Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Waccamaw Journal, Rusty Truck, Anti-Heroin Chic, Sterling Clack Clack, and North/South Appalachia: Poetry and Art, Vol 1.

Reading over this issue of Stick Figure Poetry Quarterly almost immediately brings to mind the concept of flow. Movement has inadvertently dominated the selections within as we watch people or cargo in transit, bikes traversing the landscape and kisses that ebb and flow like tides. We feel these poems in a pulsing of a heartbeat, a flutter of wings, a splintering of wooden tables and a dropping of bombs. Typically there is a certain art to determining the order in which I present the pieces in each issue, but for Spring 2022 the poems chose for me. It was a simple matter of reading them as a unit and following the flow.

Leave the house wearing a vest in case it’s windy

Turn up Wood, then left on Eagle several blocks
struggle through the park on the bike path
hoarse with the effort knees and thighs must make to
ride into the headwind
like hiking uphill, it’ll be
easier on the way back

Hit the pedestrian buttons on Constitution, Webster, 5th, and Main
be patient
push through the wind past dog and grocery-laden walkers
around the corner of the new bike path at the construction site
and now you’re free out on the asphalt

making slow curves in the wind
stand up sometimes for a coupla minutes
so gravity can help you push

Ride all the way to the end
lean the bikes against the chain link fence in the corner
distanced from parked cars
sit on the cement chunk rocks at the edge of
the white-capped greenblue water

and watch birds

the strength of seagulls holding place against the wind
a quick turn and rapid arc east and up
a pair of slender white birds with orange beaks skim the water
duck under to hunt then rise soaring fast
weaving a dual flight pattern
a pelican crashes through the shiny surface
from skyscraper height
a black cormorant dives

Let your mind drift while staring at the green
movement of the water
Breathe the moving oxygen-thick air
Think about the implications of words
how they’re put together
what you mean to say

Stay 5, 10 or 15 minutes here

Pick up the bike
head back
the wind feels oddly still
not pushing from behind instead it lifts
and you float

Peggy Morrison is a California poet who lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has read poetry in English and Spanish in the US, Mexico and Cuba, and published in journals and anthologies including  Plants and Poetry, Colossus: Home, Cloud Woman Quarterly, riverbabble, Poecology and Beaboutit. She has published one book of poetry: Mom Says  (2020) Peggy is a mom and a bilingual teacher and she loves reading, gardening, music, and backpacking.

We line up like dominoes
along the wall
pressed and packaged
eyes down, hands clasped, shoulders hunched
for what?
We write our sins large
across the backs of strangers
like graffiti on a bathroom stall
public, yet anonymous 
We recite muted incantations
forwards and backwards
through dry lips,
desperately trying to conjure
something that resembles joy

Mary Bach wants to be a writer when she grows up.  She’s had a few things published, but is not ready to leave her day job quite yet.

How do you manage
your unruly hair
and your green eyes
all at once
I mean are your
freckles really
because I read
your face like
obscure non-fiction
and skip to the part
that describes your lips
which have set sail
a thousand shipments
of online impulse buys
and I wish I knew
your password
but I have been blocked
after far too many tries

Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and popular contemporary poet. His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Ivan was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a painting titled Absolut Jenson for the brand’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spiritmusuem, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden.
Jenson’s painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. Ivan was commissioned to paint the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes.  Ivan has written two novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, both of which illustrate the creative and often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson’s poetry is widely published (with over 600 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. A book of Ivan Jenson’s poetry was recently published by Hen House Press titled Media Child and Other Poems, which can be acquired on Amazon. Two novels by Ivan Jenson entitled, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights have been published hardcover.
Ivan Jenson’s new thriller The Murderess is now available for preorder on Amazon US and Amazon UK and will be published June 1, 2021.

It was the first kiss,
the first of many,
but the only first one.
Twenty-five years ago by my reckoning.

You pulled away for a moment,
turned your head toward the window-light,
stopped at your right profile,
your eyes straining 
as if staring at a chart on an optometrist’s wall,
but only to disguise   
this opportunity for thought.

Then you smiled.
Mostly for what was inside your head
but a little left over for me.
And our mouths rejoined,
with that time out you’d taken 
now joining in, catching up.
I was surprised at the added emphasis.
I just didn’t know
what you were emphasizing.

Other kisses have come and gone like tides,
some special, others perfunctory,
but none of them have claimed 
such a ripple in my memory’s reflection.
Even now, mid-caress, 
I long for you to draw back,
engage your mind as you did then,
return to the embrace with more information,
a mysterious intoxicating brew,
enigmatic and inflamed.
But the kisses are what I expect kisses to be.
And my mouth has soured on expectation.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and the Round Table. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Lana Turner and Hollins Critic.. 

Simple in the moment 
resting in the semi darkness of the afternoon hours
if smiles made sounds, she would cause earthquakes.

Nothing seems to move
but perhaps the ancient quill
guided by the passions of an old soul.

The visitor stands at attention
lost in impossible dreams 
his eyes wander to a bright day in the yard.

A few walls make a room without glory
concrete filled with the warmth of numerous live
she is quiet in thoughts of intense futures.

Invisible the air pulses 
with the heartbeat of an unseen presence
energy from the one who simply awaits.

The home might crumble
and no one senses the trembling
which soon will bring him to his knees.

He might have found lodging 
within the heart of an absent-minded amazon
mesmerized by the rhythm of the ruby torrents inside.

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.  

she wears hand-me-down
saved for special occasion
to Sunday school picnic 

solid purple dress
soft, bumpy
crepe, mom said

wide-eyed, she and sister feast: 
buns made just for hotdogs,
potato chips, red pop

gazelle girls
arms, legs giddy
gambol across picnic tables 

leg crashes through rotted board
she screams, tentacle-armed 
ladies yank child, drop to ground

teacher shrills: good lord!
has the devil gotten hold of you,
made you misbehave?

should have known,
uusuitable dress, 
harlot’s color.

sisters footslog home
dark silence
no jabbering

she strips away torn dress
shrouds self in farm clothes
strikes out for barn to feed animals

veers toward rusted trash barrel
throws wad on coals, flames curl
around dress like shame around her heart 

she watches purple turn to ash

Fay L. Loomis lives in the woods in upstate New York. A member of the Stone Ridge Library Writers and Rat’s Ass Review Workshop, her recent poetry and prose appear in  Sanctuary Magazine, Burrow, Amethyst Review, Al-Khemica Poetica, Blue Pepper, Sledgehammer Lit, and Spillwords, and Undertow Poetry Review.

I am shuffle
I am wanting
Open to find me
Laying mixed with layers
Jumble of words,
Trinkets of sound
Shake and some rattle
Sides of cardboard, pop,
That can rip, be punctured
I am all loose and structured
So many, these boxes
Tumbled going somewhere
Going everywhere
Delivering chaos,
Memories and home
To never again
Be, from emptying, the same

Lynn Goldsmith’s poetry has been published in All-Creatures.orgInteralia MagazineJournal for Critical Animal StudiesNot Very QuietPlants & Poetry JournalRed Planet MagazineSpillwayThe Environmental MagazineThimble Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Her first book, Secondary Cicatrices, won the 2018 Halcyon Poetry Prize and was a 2019 Finalist in the American Book Fest Awards, a 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Award Gold Winner, a 2020 International Book Award Finalist, a 2021 Book Excellence Award Finalist, and a 2021 Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Awards.

Dragonflies in number
were the precursor to rains
and the feel of chill and the sight of clouds
from my balcony were rejuvenating  

Rains are subjective and objective
it is part of my nostalgia
but get the focus for utility and
support to existence by humanity

The flower plants and trees
in the neighbourhood are
now bathed and fresh 
There is change or rhythm 
and splash as winds join hands
Butterflies are missing 
maybe unable to withstand the force of rain

On that day after the final hug
as I loosened my grip
I found her face grim
but the pair of butterflies in her eyelashes
that fluttered with each of her expressions
had vanished

P.Muralidharan, a versatile thinker, critique and writer’s nonfiction ‘BUBBLES BURST’ has been widely appreciated by readers. A well known writer in Tamil for more than two decades and now contributing in English also. In English, not only have his short stories been included in a few anthologies including HydRaw’s, several of them have also been published in online  magazines and publishing house portals. He lives in Chennai, India, and has contributed in English and Tamil in the creative arena. HydRaW chose his short story ‘Shoulders’ written in English for their annual Anthology 2020 and his another short story ‘Rupees 500’ part of their Anthology on lockdown ‘Coronicles’.  His another story on lockdown ‘The departed soul’ has been selected for the upcoming ‘Quarantine tales’ of Bluerose Publishers, an anthology on Covid19. ‘Disposal’ another short story has been published in the emagazine Activemuse in their June 2020 issue. Indian Periodicals in their April 2020 published his short story ‘Riverbank.’He is an active member of many global literary societies who have shared his critical review of books and poetry on their social media platform. His contributions have been bilingual, He has also translated 2 books  including Shashi Tharoor’s  ‘Why I am  Hindu’ into Tamil. He is currently nominated as a panel judge for Story Mirror’s ongoing interactive novel contest.
His two completed fictions 1. Short story collection ‘Draupadi’s only partner’ and 2.’Boomerang” novel were shortlisted by Cherrybook Awards for the year 2020-21. Both are under editing and expected in about six months.

On the beach,
The oyster shells, emptied, lie open
Like bony, bent fingers
Holding palms up for
The communion wafer

A fallen madrona drapes
Its red branches over the hill
Like the tentacles of a starfish
Pushed too far by high tide.

I hold the baby to my shoulder.
Where he bobs and nods.
You trace the whorl of hair
On the back of his head.

We eat cherries
All the way down 
To the blue fish
Painted on the bottom 
Of the bowl. 

Ellie Anderson has published short fiction in the North Dakota Quarterly, Geist, the Capilano Review and others. She has a piece forthcoming in Woodcrest Magazine.  She took a long, long time to write a novel and is currently looking for an agent and having fun submitting poetry.  Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Caesura, The San Pedro River Review, Glimpse, Deep Wild, the Bryant Review, Evening Street, Thrush, and others.  She lives in Bellevue, Washington with her husband and a stray cat named Mooch. . 


Up where the rain hides
Deep within the clouds
Glides a lonesome eagle
Laced in gold and white.

Beyond, the peaks are shrouded,
A misty fog looms above
Icy Strait Point.

Circling and descending
she snatches a gray trout
Scales shimmer in the haze
Of an ethereal sun.

Holding tightly to her prey
She soars through the expanse.
She skirts her nest so close now
Her chicks’ shrieks pierce the sky.

Then slowly from the ground
A shotgun aims
With thunderous clout.

Her claws drop the fish, she 
swiftly careens
And lands 

In the hands of man.

Alexandra Goodwin is a transplant from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and as such, nourishes her soul like an air plant without apparent roots. As she works toward semi-retirement, she has taken residence in her imaginary tree house above her mango tree in Florida. She has written a novel and three poetry books: one with her own photographs, one in Spanish, and one an adult coloring book with Haiku poems.
Her essays and poems have appeared in The Miami Herald; Dare to be Authentic Volume 1; The Light Between Us; Live, Love, Laughter, a PEN Anthology;; and Our Town News.

I feel like a melting timepiece
in a Salvador Dali painting

Universal concepts bend with
the surrealism of Planck’s constant
How can one fact be innately true
if one refuses to believe
a photon’s energy equals its frequency

If I stop breathing do I die
or does my soul create a new energy
that points the middle finger at professor Planck

It’s all relative Einstein
Energy equals M E squared
M. E. as in me, myself and moi
This life was squared in 1983

Thirty-seven years later
quantum physics still hasn’t
been able to figure me out
Even Freud thinks I’m a dream
whereas Jung has determined I am a myth

They were all incorrect
I am the Pagan gods
with my finger on a gun
and a rhyme on my tongue
I speak bullets of obscurity
and words of trajectory

But it was Oppenheimer who said it best
I only built the thing
You dropped it

Norman Cristofoli has published several chapbooks of poetry/prose plus two audio compilations of spoken word. He published the “Labour of Love” literary magazine and co-founded the “Coffeehouse” artist networking site. His play “The Pub” and new book of poetry “Relinquishing the Past” were both published in 2020.

Within the walls of a factory farm
Or commercial slaughterhouse
One truth is clear
The animals don’t have names
No Bessie or Arnold
Just pierced ears & industrially numbered tags
How many calves did that one cow have? Where was that chicken hatched alive?
How much was put into raising that plump pig?
No one knows
And no one cares to know
To be frank
Nothing comes to light
Why would this be?
It’s simple
When choosing to see the creatures of the field before them
As pure meat
A symbol of want
And reduced to members of a nameless, faceless legion
The means to an end
Killing is easier
Inside those buildings
Built on blood and bone
You come to fathom the dangers of hate
“Just words”? Well, yes
But words of spite, ignorance, hate
Are woven by design  
To view their victims into unknown beasts
barely human
And for those with the sharpened axe on their tongue
Pneumatic gun in their hands at the ready
Thought will all too often lead to action
By their hand, their own
Or have a hand in inciting
The bloodlust in others
And then, to them
It’s time for the slaughter
But hey, they’ll tell you – it doesn’t matter They were just meat, anyway
It could be argued, of course
That often the need to disconnect
To process, to pack, to classify
Is an ugly necessity to those
Who crave meaty wares,
But we are not animals.  
Outside the 4 walls of that place
When considering human mammals
We have the ability to see beyond
A name, who they are
Far more than what group they may fall into.
But when we give in to spite
A curious yet dangerous phenomenon- Some will do nothing less than reduce those they hate,
for whatever reason, to nothing more than unseasoned meat
Trapped in stalls and ripe for the killing floor
To justify harming “the other”
With words or actions
Void of normal guilt
Or even to feel righteous
Exude dominance over those they see
As simple livestock and property
Cookie-cutter beasts
Let that settle in
And send a chill down your spine –
The lock of the gate clicks and rattles
Time for the slaughter

Tracy Powers is based in Oak Ridge, TN. Her writing is often inspired by the ‘traces and places’ experienced in life – and even some she’s only dared to dream about. Her publication history includes ‘Vision’, which was featured on the e-journal, “Firestarter” in the January 2018 edition of Ariel Chart, and “The Field” in the journal Kingdoms in the Wild. In addition, her first poetry collection chapbook ‘The Dragon’s Den’ is available on

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