- Birch by Nancy Scott
- Puce Monte Carlo by Sean Hanrahan
- The Safe Place by Janet Salsman
- Adams Point by Aikya Param
- “The Time Before” by Sienna Mae Heath
- Flower Seeds by DS Maolalai
- Sidewalk Sale by Vlad Pogorelov
- Free Write by Bruce Gunther
- The Face by John Grey
- absence by LOB
- Welcome Spring by Yash Seyedbagheri
- Where Things Go by Darrell Parry
Maryann Riker is a mixed media artist whose artworks and artist books convey a visual narrative referencing topics such as women’s roles and the environment. Her work is in many public and private collections.
Redesigning a website to take it from a weekly blog format to a quarterly poetry magazine is far from challenging the laws of nature and creating life from the ether. But, it is still akin to creating a monster. Especially since I am not a scientist… or a web designer. Yet, I decided to go into this project with no knowledge or experience. I took out my scalpels, my thread and 30,000 volts and endeavored to stitch some pieces together in an attempt to construct and awaken something beautiful. And I gave myself the space of a single month to do it.
The poems in this issue (as befitting a Spring issue, a first issue and a monster) are heavily influenced by themes of life, death, change and renewal. They were not specifically chosen with this in mind, but collections of poems always seem to gravitate to certain themes, as if possessed by an intelligence of their own. The issue also has a strong sense of place and time, giving me, as a reader, a sense of wanting to walk among the worlds within them.
I am very excited to debut this new creation and I greatly appreciate all of my contributors, especially those who also provided a second set of eyes to inspect the design and content of the newly arisen creation.
It is my hope that you look upon what I have done, not as an abomination, but as a burgeoning child with all the potential it carries within, despite any flaws it may have.
I knew you were God
calmly standing alone
in early spring grass.
Whole at your base,
Three rough-fingered hands reached palms up.
You were not tall, not smooth,
not straight, not afraid.
I read your carved life of wrinkled parchment.
It said, “This is how it really is
and it is enough.
Touch me and remember.”
Nancy Scott’s over 875 essays and poems have recently appeared in, among
others, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Braille Forum, Chrysanthemum, Kaleidoscope, The Mighty, One Sentence Poems, Shark Reef, Wordgathering, and Yahoo News.
It might as well have been
Doc Brown’s DeLorean,
that puce Monte Carlo,
jazzing up the block.
with cumin and camo caps
lined up on the back dash.
A duck carved with a hollowed-out ass
in the front cradling a rock.
Paint job looked newish
covering up a pentimento—
suburban khaki or ugly sunset orange.
I visualize the divorced,
harried Catholic mom
who would have driven that car.
The powdered Mary Kay neighbor,
pickled and mentholated,
always speaking out the side of her mouth
‘cause a Newport slow burns on the other.
No need for gum,
her breath perpetually smells like mint
and future lung cancer.
Her nicotine-yellowed fingertips set off
her Ron Jeremy-lady-red nail polish.
She tells herself seeing her daughters tan
and married rich are her ultimate goals in life,
as she brings rouge to the Army wives.
The first woman in town to pose
for a glamour shot
with her new cropped ‘do.
She dropped the perm in its prime in ’87.
Hair lowlighted to match her leopard print
blouse with a faint blood splotch
from the ketchup crying
from her overheated Whopper.
She always keeps a towel
covered in dog hair
to wipe away such spills,
since she eats while driving,
smoking, and applying her eyeshadow.
Endlessly, cruising up and down
the sloped boulevard
using her breasts to steer
through the city on a hill
with stucco Jesuses at every intersection
preaching to an inevitable drive-thru fast-food joint.
Always late to pick up her sullen daughters from daycare, dreaming of her nightly Bartles and Jaymes,
or that rare spliff she flirts
out of a teen head.
While painting her toes and ogling Tom Selleck,
she wonders where her Prince Charming is—
a divorced (or better widowed) Marine—
tall with a Southern accent,
no mullet like her ex-husband,
a turn-off as she twists the elastic
on her pink satin panties,
thinking she will paint her car
to make a statement,
a bid for immortality in suburbia.
As I consign the puce Monte Carlo to memory,
to this poem,
I suspect her gamble paid off.
Sean Hanrahan is the author of the full-length poetry collection Safer Behind Popcorn (2019 Cajun Mutt Press) and the chapbooks Hardened Eyes on the Scan (2018 Moonstone Press) and Gay Cake (2020 Toho). He is the head poetry editor for Toho Journal. He serves on the Moonstone Press Editorial Board and as an instructor for Green Street Poetry, writes poetry reviews for Mad Poets, and hosts a poetry series at Moonstone and Art with Spirits.
So much darker,
a room where I wasn’t supposed to go.
Stiff sinews screech:
a car crash, a murder, a loss, a break,
that squeak on the funeral floor.
I knew I could fly:
I tried valiantly to follow
the wake of the sea mare, night kraken.
Water takes the shape of its container.
She had murdered me in her trim, professional suit,
made everything into a horrible joke:
a human blush around a mouthful of braces.
I didn’t know what to do to make it stop.
Curl into corner.
Heavy green blanket,
snores vibrating behind
like an airplane engine,
a dragon roar and rumble,
Sniff of Tide, hint of sweat
remnant of toothpaste,
the sneezeless dust
Eyes dilated, the spackle shadows
still shape so patiently,
puppet into creatures, castles, crags.
Sometimes, the water bubbles and boils.
On the gilt chair, velvet pillow,
coveted couch for Cinderella’s slipper,
just a denser darkness.
Lids droop, drip down
sleepy sloping slide:
float free of pots and fires,
the canyons of the earth.
Feet tucked into hem
of soft flannel gown.
No need to run:
the monsters are all gone.
they did not cry.
A film over the eyes;
brown eyes haunted my daydreams.
Do not wake the dead,
clear and placid and still.
In winter, the water freezes.
The name echoed
ahead in the dim future,
the part where we woke up happy again,
toys and laughter and tea parties.
Stories ended with a hug or a kiss or a feast.
Janet Salsman is a writer cleverly disguised as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor. She loves flower photos, picture books, carousels, and single malts, though not usually all at the same time.
My urban neighborhood is mixed
At least in terms of people and housing:
Traditional Ethiopian ladies
With their three-tiered cotton gauze
Skirts and the younger gen in jeans,
And African Americans,
Sad and angry over what was
And is, with white people still clueless;
People from all over Asia too.
And there are apartment houses
And grand mansions next to each other.
Two mansions open toward each other
With our 39-bedroom three-story
Apartment on one side and a big
Apartment tower on the other.
On the third floor of the 39-bedroom
Building with a window looking
Out on a 4-story deodar cedar
Next to a fine mansion, I write.
This diverse neighborhood
Of Adams Point is Poets’ Wood
For me, of steel and stone and glass.
The flow of words in counted rhythm
Is sonnet and song of my soul’s outreach.
In this home I bake bread
With buckwheat and ragi flour.
It’s round-topped and brown;
This week pumpkin with fall spices;
Last week with too much ginger;
This week it’s just right: a relief!
Bread made at home makes a home
And here a home for two writers,
A literary loaf for afternoon breaks,
Or companion for California greens:
Bread in the building with 39 bedrooms,
Third floor by a deodar cedar.
Aikya Param earned a B.A. in English literature from Trinity College (Washington, DC), an M.A. in Women’s Spirituality from New College of California (San Francisco), and a Certificate in Spiritual Leadership from Holmes Institute of Consciousness Studies, Golden, Colorado. Cityside and Shoreline: Let the Light In, is her first poetry book submitted for publication. She is a member of the American Poetry Society and Alameda Island Poets.
To old tongues
Languages of greed and grim fortune,
Of selfish desires taken so eloquently
To words long lasting, out lasting earthly wisdom.
As church leaves its people
Destitute, forlorn, wishing they had left first
A relationship committed to zealous certainty.
When love is lost
It is found purely
Not in a built place
But in the crux of people,
In the hallowed halls of hearts,
In the ideologically lonely corners of minds
Where, nevermind the greed, lives worth,
The worthiness of all of us, the truth of all of us,
The material gain left fettered, pitied, cast aside,
Excommunicated. Until maybe one day
We can learn to love what we were – who we were,
But sallow sacks of long lost souls
Grasping for the worth of the binary suns we once scoffed at,
Wishing for the duality we once despised.
Lost to greed and deception
Found from humble light, from twinkling truths
Created by the binary which once haunted the world
With its ancient simplicity, its rewarding rambunctious virtue.
The divine twins are love and loved
By all who had nearly forgotten.
This is a way
We are gifted to wander
With candles and lanterns of yesteryear
In humble hundreds, soon the thousands and the -illions will follow.
They will pave this road
Walking it with grace and curiosity
With the wisdom of ancestors who never meant to scream,
But only, somberly, remind us
Of the angels that we are,
That we chose to be.
If you remember for a moment
What it was like in The Time Before:
The ethereal jesters laughing at their own earthly jokes.
The babes readied to be born, writing stories
To live through, casting the characters of their abandon.
Choosing to be left and loved
Choosing to be wronged when righteous
Raising their winged arms in calamitous unison
Volunteering for the reckoning, for the grand time
The time of all times…
When humanity would question The Before and The During
When we would challenge one another to go deeper
Than ever before, in a chorus of waiting and wanting
For The New World,
The Brave New Earth of Empathy and Renewal,
of Eternal Springs and Lush Discoveries,
of Lasting Peace in some and soon all
Who have come from that Time Before,
from the babes and angels and jesters, crying, singing, and laughing
With Buddha and Yeshua, with Mary One and Mary Two,
Who knew that 2020 would question
What 2021 would answer.
Sienna Mae Heath is a growth writer and poet. Living in between, she is empowering empaths through fiction and truth. Sienna has created The Hero’s Journey worksheet for Turning Point LV to help survivors of domestic violence tell their stories. Her most recent pieces have been featured on The Equiano Project and Medium’s ILLUMINATION. A world traveler with a home base in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, she knows how a profound connection with nature sparks healing. Sienna is The Quarantined Gardener, leading the Lehigh Valley to victory gardens in 2020-21. Follow her on Medium and on Instagram @thequarantinedgardener and @artists_against_abuse.
apparently, the agent said,
what sold the house
eventually was my garden.
there was a space
in the place
I’d been living
which had previously
I threw out wild
like a man with some change
to a beggar
sitting by a bus-stop.
I remember walking
each summer through poppy
and mint, listening
to the business
of bumblebees. drinking a hot
cup of coffee, the wind
like pages in a phonebook
left on a doorstep
DS Maolalai has been nominated eight times for Best of the Net and five times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)
One morning I got up early
Went down to storage place
Got my old junk
Loaded it up on the truck
I am ready – a perfect day
to start selling my youth
I drove down to the Mission
and found myself a good spot
Along some parking lot fence
on one of those side streets
Spread out my stuff on the sidewalk
Sat down on the stool
That I brought with me
A car screeches by,
then the driver shouts:
“Hey, how much for that old oil space heater?”
“You got it.”
Well a long time ago
I thought of building an adobe in the desert
I’ve got a heater for it, but no adobe
Bye-bye adobe dreams
A bum with a shopping cart
filled with his own junk comes
“How much for that radio?”
“I’ll give you seven if you hold it for me
until I get the cash.”
“Five bucks,” I say
“All right,” he says
“I’ll go panhandle for a while,
then I’ll be back.”
“You do,” I say
“I’ll keep it for you.”
This boom box
used to belong to an old lover
She gave it to me once,
long after we split up
She was having a hard time
“Am I betraying her memory?”
I don’t know
Just having a sidewalk sale
A fellow on fixed gear bike comes
An artsy type
He gets an unfinished painting “#7”
“I will finish it,” he says
He tries to pay me with weed
“It’s all right,” I say
“Keep your grass.”
He leaves with the painting
but #7 is still here –
a sign outside the barbershop
next door says “Haircuts $7”
Then of course,
there is 7 days in a week
I can’t seem to get away
from # 7
A poetess walking by
She doesn’t even look my way
She is stuck in her poetic cloud
She is a poetess, all right
Then another poet comes
He wants to buy books
“I’ve got Quark Express 2.0, “
1984 Honda Civic Manual
and fine book on crock pot cooking…”
“How much for that Bukowski book?”
He says he will come back
But he never does
Most of the poets I know are broke
But the bum comes back with 5 bucks
and gets his radio
Then a car mechanic buys my Honda manual
The Honda went away a few days ago,
and now the manual went.
The car mechanic tells me
that he doesn’t read manuals
but fixes it anyway
“Why buy it?” I ask him
“To leave it to my children,”
“My grandfather left many books,”
the car mechanic says.
”He was an engineer.”
“Did you read any of them?”
I asked him
“No, they smell funny,” he says
When he leaves,
I pull Bukowski’s book from display
and throw it back in the truck
I liked the idea of leaving it
to my children
Maybe it won’t stink that bad
People come and go
They buy little chunks of my past
music, books, Super 8 cameras
An old Mexican lady got a bicycle pump:
“I will use it as a stick to reach for things,”
“All right,” I say “Why not”
An iron gone, then another one
A young Mexican buys a checkered rain coat
from the 60’s
He looks funny in it,
like Twiggy in sombrero
But I tell him, ”You look good, man,”
and he leaves happy
Why spoil his day?
I am having a blast,
I am selling my youth
I am moving to the burbs
I am cutting the cord
Becoming a regular Joe Schmoe
One of those faceless flag waving
Gum chewing, SUV driving,
Soon to be middle aged
Then the law comes
He pulls his patrol car in front
of my little flee market
“There was a complaint about you.
Get the fuck out, or I will arrest you
if you are here in 10 minutes.”
He drives off…
I pack my remaining things and go
I make a stop at the Salvation Army
to unload the rest
Finally, I am free from my youth
My middle age begins tomorrow.
Vlad Pogorelov is a poet and winemaker residing in the Foothills of Sierra Nevada. He started writing in 6th grade when his poem “Screw the fascists” was rejected by the Soviet literary journal “The Young Pioneer”. He has had more luck since then.
Vlad was born and raised in the City of Donetsk which is now the capital of unrecognized Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). He worked as a poetry editor of “Siren’s Silence” – a Philadelphia based underground poetry, prose and art magazine. He is an editor of “Monday”- A Journal of Poetry, Prose and Art founded in San Francisco in the Fall of 1999( https://issuu.com/mondayjournal). Vlad is the author of several books of poetry, plays and short stories. His new books “Derelict” 2nd edition and “Into the same river” are slated for publication sometime later this year. If you ever in Rocklin, California, stop by his house and he will treat you for a glass of awesome organic wine. Feel free to email Vlad at: email@example.com
All I ask is to loosen
To help a confused old man
find his car keys.
To feel the vibration of
a thousand butterfly wings.
To bask in the ease of
a thousand summer sunrises.
To reach the itch in the uncharted
territory of my back.
To marvel at the way your hair
fans over the pillow.
To help mend the hearts
of one hundred young poets.
To observe the flash of red
as the cardinal alights on a branch.
To let the words flow
like my wild mind.
To discover the source.
To innovate a new perspective.
To navigate the narrow ledge
between this and that.
Bruce Gunther is a retired journalist and freelance writer who lives in Michigan. He’s a graduate of Central Michigan University. His poetry has appeared in several publications, including The Dunes Review, Still Life, Modern Haiku, Flora Fiction, and Last Leaves Magazine.
The aethereal spirit
in the bathroom
where the daylight drips –
crisp as moving air,
the call to prayer
released by the sun.
Over the house,
down the crescent arches,
where the milky moon
has loosened its smog-like grip.
Can you hear me shaving,
dear veins of dark matter?
Or sloshing my mouth
into marble-like plastic?
I am reincarnated.
I have the strength
for unscrambled revelations,
for the predictable tried-and-true.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Orbis, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. His latest books, “Leaves On Pages” and “Memory Outside The Head” are available through Amazon.
as in missing
like all of reality,
in the moment of confusion,
vast and vacant
like all of reality,
in the moment of confusion,
vast and vacant
the eternal naive,
even of it’s own heartbeat,
which it is told
MUST be there.
But it is not,
there is absence
Wicked and strong,
like the winter wind
on a clear icy day,
like a Slurpee in your nose
stinging the senses.
With it’s coming
to be known as nothing,
as the all encompassing
As the second
of the three wombs
the ones we all must
spend our time in,
to not have had
and to have had,
a state of mind,
a fate we find,
LOB considers himself a conceptual artist who dabbles in many mediums.. Sound, music, poetry, visuals, producing, publishing, booking, organizing.. These are all hats he wears regularly. Currently living in Sacramento, CA, he is most known as the founder and curator for the musical sound art project INSTAGON, and the collective Thee Instagon Foundation. He has recently awoken from a long poetic hibernation and begun doing readings with new works amid the Covid reality of 2020-21.
In the past he has appeared in Next Magazine, Neverending Page, Caffeine Magazine, and other long forgotten journals. He has over a dozen chapbooks published and one anthology. Lob has appeared on hundreds of stages as a performance poet, musician, and a host. He has a really outdated personal website at http://www.tif.org/lob . He can also be found on FB and Instagram @lobinstagon and on Twitter @lob23
snow crashes from branches
plopping into piles
bare arms reach out into the blue
and wave to me
a lone walker
who slunk through snowbanks in scarves
and now strides in slate-blue sweaters
along a road, a stream meanders around my feet
sun shimmering diamonds
winding around a bend,
and then another
layer of brown rises
from the last ice palaces
and nuzzles my feet
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA fiction program. His stories, “Soon,” “How To Be A Good Episcopalian,” and “Tales From A Communion Line,” have been nominated for Pushcarts. Yash’s work has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.
Where do things go when you move?
Who can say?
In an established residence it’s obvious.
How did that plastic cup get in with the tupperware?
It goes next to the coffee mugs.
That is where it has always gone.
You just know… every time
Except for maybe the rebellious catsup
that sometimes moves from the top shelf of the refrigerator door
to the bottom, when the new bottle is too big…
but mostly, you know.
This changes when you move.
You have to reinvent the entire universe from scratch
putting things in places that you think make sense,
but later can’t recall or don’t understand.
I know I have raisins. Wait. What?
Why are they not with the crackers, peanuts and snacks?
Wait, in the pantry with the instant mashed potato flakes?
What was I thinking?
How does THAT make sense?
There is something unsettling about this phenomena.
In an instant you go from a god in his perfectly ordered universe
to a child who knows nothing and must seek out
and explore as if everything is brand new.
But such is the way of uncertainty
and the choice must be made
to either fear the unknown or
thrill in the discovery.
Darrell Parry is a writer, artist and event organizer from Easton, Pennsylvania. He founded the monthly Stick Figure Poetry open mic and co-hosts Lehigh Valley Poetry’s Virtual Salon, which meets on Zoom the first Monday of every month. His alter ego works in higher education, not a professor, but as one of those reviled peddlers of unaffordable course materials. Believe it or not, he even sometimes sells poetry books.