- Apples by Jack Harvey
- Her Hair Was Blue by Teresa Renton
- Shadow Boxing by Yi Jung Chen
- Friday Night Cleaning by S.F. Wright
- Duly Noted by Jason Ryberg
- The Horn by John Grochalski
- Conor Lex by Robert Beveridge
- On Lineage by Nicole Bird
- You Come to Me by C. Barry Buckner
- Killer by Emily E. Arnold-Fernández
- Escape Zone by Dick Narvett
- Winter Coat by Leigh Parsons
As the child of a lower middle-class family in Mississippi, crayons, markers, and color pencils were an inexpensive way to keep Lane Dalton entertained. Her childhood love of color application followed her into adulthood, and coloring books were a standard item of her household. The act of coloring was an act of relaxation. She looked forward to this daily ritual in her evenings before sleep. Six months into the 2020 pandemic she began to notice a change in her attitude toward coloring. She was no longer satisfied with the line work of others. As a result, she started creating her own images to color. As the world continued to spiral out of control, her lines, curves, and angles provided a much-needed sense of structure. Her images are a reflection of her internal landscape. Her mind’s need for order is convoluted by its inescapable collision with mayhem. Find her at lanedalton.com
Some of you may have noticed that we released this issue a bit earlier than scheduled. This was due to our lead poem, written for LGBTQ+ Pride month, which occurs in June. Since our issues release quarterly, it was either set to be awkwardly placed in the April or July issue… but as editors we are all powerful. As such, this year we have a late-June issue!
Reading through this gathering of poems brings to my mind thoughts of relationships. So, I will leave you with the following thought:
There are a lot of different kinds of apples out there in the world and sometimes you aren’t sure which kind you are shadow boxing with, despite how many truck stop demigods you have made offerings to. Sometimes you end up chasing old ghosts, or learning that not all stargazers are good people as you wait for the right one to come to you. In the end it’s okay to end up alone cleaning your apartment. It can be your safe spot away from the blaring horns and scorpions in your shoes.
If this doesn’t quite make sense, try reading through issue 6 and… well, you might get it afterwards or maybe you won’t, but you will be a little bit wiser for having heard what wisdom these poets had to impart upon you.
Apples. Bark apples,
block apples, tea apples,
cart apples, apples also
apples: singing harp apples,
Helen’s apples, little green
apples. Not apples: treacle
guns, horses, pears, peas,
cannibals. I’ll trade my
puppy for one good black
apples in neon signs,
dead black apples
in the fire,
apples big as
lion hearts, bounding
sounding blue apples,
like bells in temples.
have no keepsakes.
The core is
Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.
The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.
His book, Mark the Dwarf is available on Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Dwarf-Jack-D-Harvey-ebook/dp/B019KGW0F2
Amidst writhing, sweating, pulsing, flesh,
blue ribbons fluttered
out of time to
A mother’s dream hovered,
pride before the fall
Boy grinned – joker or fool?
Over-worn garbs of spent flirtations
to a weather report.
Yet I never forgot that
her hair was blue.
She danced like me
she dressed like me
she flirted like me
but oh so much better.
Closer. Our lips
touched the lyrics
of Walk of Shame:
I’ll do anything you ask of me.
In the crypt of lingering haze,
in dim-lit loud cellar,
a misty shroud settled over vanilla;
over black or white;
‘I only like boys.’
Then, like paraffin in puddles
in coalescence, colours emerged.
On that smoke-saturated dance-floor
who kissed me?
Who spread my colours like linking rainbows?
And reflected facets of
once blurred dreams – now
with diamond clarity.
It was no joker, no fool.
I only remember
her hair was blue.
Teresa Renton has one husband and two children, one of which has grown up and recently left home. She has a degree in English Linguistic Studies hoping to work as a professional proof-reader and editor. She is interested in working with words and is finally doing everything she can to make this happen.
With seriously toned abs and arms,
I am ready for movement.
Swiftly and nonchalantly,
your darting eyes jabs at me in my brain.
Limpid pathos of daily quarrels
keep whetting the blade of my egoism.
Dwelling in the vortex of emotional swamps,
picturing myself as nitrogen,
my love fertilized the tree of your life.
As a sparring partner in the ring,
mauled by your heavy punches,
the sprouts of tender love and desire,
like the warped wick of a candle,
sputtering and flickering in the air.
Observing a steady morendo of energy,
you still romped with my wobbling shadow,
My hand wraps dropped and unraveled
on the ground silently and motionlessly
at pulsating twilight.
Besides teaching pupils of learning difficulties at Dounan Elementary School of Taiwan, Yi Jung Chen writes poems in English, Chinese and Taiwanese language as well. Provided the opportunity, she would like to have her poems published by reliable journals and share them with people around the globe.
Cleaning my apartment,
Is not the way
I envisioned I’d
Spend my weekends
When I was a
On gin in what
Feels like a
Been just a few months.)
And then think of
My younger self.
A new song comes on,
I clean my sink,
On making it shine.
S.F. Wright lives and teaches in New Jersey. His work has appeared in Hobart, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, and Elm Leaves Journal, among other places. His short story collection, The English Teacher, is forthcoming from Cerasus Poetry, and his website is sfwrightwriter.com.
I have to ask of the world, every now and then,
the simple and honest question of how many pairs
of cheap truck stop sun glasses have I sacrificed
to the various minor deities and demigods
of both the rural and urban realms.
And were these offerings at least duly noted
and acknowledged and applied, accurately,
to the balance, be it negative or positive,
contained in the Universal Ledger Books
they say sit locked-up somewhere
no one could ever sneak a peek at?
But I suppose I should just be
grateful that I never had to kill
a baby pig or
Jason Ryberg is the author of fourteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at bothThe Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Are You Sure Kerouac Done It This Way!? (co-authored with John Dorsey, and Victor Clevenger, OAC Books, 2021). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.
the car horn
from the minivan across the street
into the 100-degree day
it sounds like someone has died
and hit their head on the steering wheel
of the bleating, brassy sound
the neighborhood people
all surround the car
like an angry mob
retired bald men
in too tight t-shirts and sandals
and their wives
in green, plastic visors
they peer into the car
pull on the door
shake the hood
this street is lined with american flags
but the cops have yet to show
the horn blares on and on
an hour and ten minutes
an hour and twenty
the neighborhood men
raise their arms in exasperation
as their wives march home
an hour and thirty minutes
an hour and forty
they try the door again
they stand and sweat and hold angry vigils
an hour and fifty minutes
over two hours
until a newer minivan pulls up
and a red-faced old lady gets out
racing to the car
shaking the keys in her hand
popping her hood
as the neighborhood men
dive at the car
like vultures on carrion
and soon the car horn stops
and the men back away
looking from each other to the car
until they eventually slouch home
sullen and without purpose
off toward their wives
and the hours of the day
that they still have left to fill
John Grochalski is a published writer whose poetry has appeared in several online and print publications including: Red Fez, Rusty Truck, Outsider Writers Collective, Underground Voices, The Lilliput Review, The Main Street Rag, Zygote In My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, and Bartleby Snopes. He is the author four books of poetry The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch (Six Gallery Press, 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Press, 2014), The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), and Eating a Cheeseburger During the End Times (Kung Fu Treachery, 2021). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press, 2013), Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press, 2016), and P-Town: Forever (Alien Buddha Press, 2021).
The heels dug in
as the apprentices bring
brick after brick
after brick, wend
their ways up this tower
that they tell us
will pierce the sky,
teach us the mysteries
of death, resurrection,
whether willow tails
will be on sale Tuesday
next. The pure
expatriates, the queers,
the women, the lads
who preferred shot put
to javelin, all carry
bricks, all trudge
up the spiral, cuddle
Trinidad in their arms,
dread the scorpion
in the boot they have
all been told awaits
them at the pinnacle.
Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in cattails, Ellipsis…, and Ample Remains, among others.
I’ve never met my grandmother. She exists in tall tales and stories to shiver your bones. The last time my mother saw her,
she chased her out of the house
with a knife she was using to chop onions, the sour smell infecting my mother’s eyes.
They welled with tears amidst all those quick movements and heightened senses necessary to evade cold violence.
My mother sprinted out of the house and never returned. Now
My grandmother resides in a facility situated on the side of a mountain
in Puerto Rico, confined to a wheelchair, prisoner of her own mind.
She’ll never again realize that today is today.
I’ve never met her but,
when I do–because life has that sort of funny inevitability, I wonder
if the chilling history
will provide context for the ghost of a grandmother. Or will she be
just another human, dragging her pain behind her, like chains scratching against concrete, until they’re nothing but brambles made of rust.
Nicole Bird’s career began with a degree in Creative Writing. Her focus then shifted to garnering degrees in Film Production and Screenwriting. Afterwards, she worked in film, while writing and producing her own short films. Now Nicole works as a Creative Writing professor and is at work on a collection of poetry, as well as honing her gluten free baking skills she developed during the 2020 quarantine. Her work has appeared in the Ariel Chart International Literary Journal, The Indian Periodical, and Writing in a Woman’s Voice, with more forthcoming. You can read more about Nicole at nicolebirdthewriter.com.
You come to me in dreams
When night is the darkest
When the moon refuses to shine
When dogs no longer bark
You come to me in spring
When buds begin to bloom
When scents of lilac infuse the air
When gurgling creeks sing nearby
You come to me in summer
When baking sunshine dries the land
When long days won’t yield to night
When sweat drenches my brow
You come to me in fall
When kaleidoscopic leaves glow
When cool breezes soothe my soul
When pumpkins turn orange on the vine
You come to me in winter
When frigid breath of wind makes me shiver
When naked trees sing a lonely song
When heaps of snow blanket the land
You come to me when I feel most alone
When sadness takes hold
When tomorrow seems impossible
You come to me as I lie sick in my bed
When agony wracks my body
When death would be a blessing
I know that you will be there the night I die
Lifting me to a better world
A new life; where radiant smiles abound
C. Barry Buckner is a retired radiologist residing in Little Rock, Arkansas. Only recently has he begun to explore creative writing. He is currently working on a collection of poetry, prose, and short stories. He has two novels under development. His most recent poem to be published is “Bare Bones Reality” on “The Beautiful Space” website, ‘Eternity’ and ‘Mom Remembered’ through ‘Scarlett Leaf Review,’ his most recent flash fictions are “Jack and Jake” through Weasel Press and “Collecting Shells at the Shore” with the “Ice Colony” website, and his most recent short story, “Robert’s Room,” was published through October Hill.
looked at the night sky
and thought about Fermi.
A thousand million suns,
the likelihood of planets,
a possibility of life.
One might imagine
only good people,
or those trying to be,
gaze at the stars and muse
on significance. But murderers
have more reason than most
to ponder the paradox
of existence. What worth
one life, ended,
When eternity is limitless,
Our planet a mere speck —
Like the bee in the living room,
until you see it
black on the sill.
Emily E. Arnold-Fernández is a human rights advocate; a writer, runner, singer, swimmer; a friend, sibling, daughter, spouse. She founded Asylum Access, a global refugee human rights organization, and as a result spends a lot of time thinking about ideas of home. She tends to live on islands.
“Make today not be
like the others.”
Her silent prayer
that yet again
Noises from the next room…
Eyes shut tight
she clutches her doll,
no longer hearing.
Shrinking her world
to a safe spot.
Dick Narvett lives in rural Pennsylvania where he writes flash fiction and poetry. His work can be found in Stick Figure Poetry Quarterly, Better Than Starbucks, Star*Line, and 365 Tomorrows, as well as others.
I wear a winter coat, regardless of the season
it’s warm and comfortable
day and night,
it protects me from the outside world
insulating me from my fate
I wear a winter coat
sometimes it makes me sweat
the fibers itch
but I am attached to it
I wear a winter coat
hug its cotton, I do, first thing every morning
soft and cozy, it molds to me perfectly
sometimes its light and breathable
other times heavy, like a weighted blanket
I wear a winter coat
reliable and loyal, it never lets me down
my daily companion, familiar
when I feel lost, in it, I am found
I am so fond of my winter coat that I gave it a name
I wear a winter coat
its name is sadness
Leigh Parsons is an emerging poet based in Michigan. She is currently working on her debut poetry collection. Her poetry is tailored to the daydreamers and twilight thinkers, weaving a relatable narrative crafted to shed light on the challenges of the human experience.