Ice Study #1
By Joshua Hun Baker


Channel ice, the river’s breathing grown hoarse
living world sliver of lung water pushed against pull
contract to expand with temperature flux, inhale, ex
a change rarely predicted with precision in these parts
 
Cracking, shifting, the ice speaks of loneliness
lives in a reverse hibernation above freezing
winter the only time this side of water’s personality sings
 
Sometimes there is more joy in the curiosities of nature
than the pretzel logic of human relationships
Is something wrong with cracking this way?
 
Concentric lines written by air bubbles, cold formed pressure
Like topographic lines on an ephemeral atlas page
Form of alien, whisper thin crab analog, reflection on reflection
Cold coming to bear as weight in drips, through lines
a tower of Babel below the river’s surface
 
What is missing, lost states of change
Gas, liquid, this body
Cold remembered easily

Joshua Hun Baker lives in Oregon, where he works for the U.S. Postal Service and enjoys hiking and learning about photography.  His writing has appeared in publications like Gnu Journal, Adirondack Review, Perceptions, and Plazm.

* * * 

Broken

By Kersten Christianson

 

At Raven’s Beach,

the dump of yesteryear,

you pick glass sliver shards,

 

pottered chunks adorned

with flecks of paint, a flower here,

a map there, a tiny ship way-

 

faring across the porcelain

sea of an artist’s eye.  A two-

legged elephant washed in patina,

 

rusty somethings covered in barnacles.

It’s no wonder you name this margin

of coastline for the corvidae

 

whose own black bead eye

is drawn to the shiny cache

of a sunlit hoard.  It’s no

 

wonder your joy is rooted

in making what is broken

new, again.

Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan.  Her new collection of poetry is Curating the House of Nostalgia (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2020).

* * *

Revision of My Grandmother's Death 
By Casey Clague 

Your tea looks purple in the evening light.
Veins the same. I stir your sugar in,
 
coax toast to your lips, throat not quite  
too dry to swallow.
 
I like this version of us—my limbs
nimble compared to your stillness. 
 
You ask me to keep the clocks wound
when you’re gone, clean around
 
the snow globes on the mantle. To keep my days
full as winter’s well-stocked cabinets.
 
Let me wrap you in that black blanket.
Walk you to that black room—.   
 
Dark enough to see your last remaining heat.   

 

Casey Clague writes poetry and nonfiction in the MFA program at the University of South Florida. Their work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Vagabond City, Slipstream, and Drunk in a Midnight Choir.

* * * 

searching for sun
By Linda M. Crate

"move on"
they say,
but i am not past
the pain;
and going forward without acknowledging
the past is simply putting the
misery for later
i rather push through the wound now
to the other side of light
ringed in the wood
in the song of the crows--
 
sit by the sea
let her wash away these
dusty, heavy bones
and cobwebs
left behind by a lover that
never loved only lusted
who tried to
steal away the luster in my heart
and soul but failed;
burying me beneath a winter that
i burned through with my
heart of summer--
 
i try not to speak of him
because it only seems to upset
everyone,
but he was my genesis;
and if in speaking i am freed then
who are they to keep me
bound in these
chains?
i only want to remember the sun
against my face where it felt
warm instead of cruel.

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has three published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014), and If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications - August 2016). Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015. The second novel of this series Dragons & Magic was published in October 2015. The third of this series Centaurs & Magic was published November 2016. Her novel Corvids & Magic is forthcoming August 2017.

* * * 

Sylvia, Anne 
By Ali Cravens 

here in the corner
sylvia and anne
whisper silver slips into the air
 
they never sunned themselves
but let dust nestle upon them
like the tiniest of cats
 
can you see them they are wood
they are ferns
they are mascara
they are clouded perfume bottles
and broken glass
they have definitely cut themselves on before
can you see them they are a shade of blue
let’s call it cerulean
they have grit under their fingernails
and their hair is oily
and their skirts are thin
can you see them they are bodies
 
they take up space
 
they cover themselves in the petals of larkspurs
and drink tea
and feel they contribute nothing to this room
and constantly wonder if the words they place their worth in
will ever be sturdy 
will ever be strong enough to hold them
will ever be able to reach cold dark hands to them in the night
and grip their hearts until they choke and realize they don’t really want to die
get a grip sylvia
don’t do it anne
can you see them they deliberate on mice
that scurry and disappear into walls
on butterflies whose wing powder is always flaking off
on leaves that only last a few seasons
turning brown and then crumbling into nothing
can you see them
 
can you hear them they shift
and their fabrics grumble beneath their weight
and they feel like solar systems
or fire-breathing dragons
they feel they will never be small enough for their mere words to sustain them
they are gardeners of days
and groundskeepers of nights
and wish they weren’t
they count the particles of sand on the beach
and hope that this knowledge will be important some day
let me tell sylvia
anne
 
women and children and men can see you
 
they see you and they saw you and they keep you in collections
 
they place you on their walls next to emily dickinson
 
they murmur words you made
and dictate sentences you arranged
can you see me here I am a peach
 
can you feel my taut and feathery skin
you penciled in my shape
and added weight to the regions of my thighs and around my hips
can you see me I am fingers
I am knuckles I am elbows I am every jagged line in a drunkard’s body
and in a dancer’s form
 
I can see you there in that corner
 
you look like you just came out of a kiln after a coat of glaze
 
you are more than a menagerie of precious fragile words
that are pretty but of little importance
you are the solar systems you fear you are
and your words are asteroids on we moons
not glass figurines that can’t even be pushed off end tables
you stand the test of time
and prickle at nerves
and cut tongues like cayenne pepper
and fill up hollowed stomachs like potatoes
and by the way
 
you yourselves apart from poems
were more than enough
were beautiful
were deserving of this earth
and of feeling good 
and happy and loved
 
worthy
of feeling firm and hard when touched
of being seen and noticed
of form of taking up space
of pressing upon others and making an indentation
I can see you you are wood
you are blue
you are bodies
you are asteroids
can you see me we are peaches
can you hear me I whisper silver slips into the air
and let dust nestle upon me
like the tiniest of cats  

Though Ali Cravens graduated with a bachelor’s in writing, her true passion, she has employed herself by selling art on cruise ships, building houses, beekeeping, and now, sailing a ship. Though she doesn’t always get paid to write, she can at least write about what she gets paid for.

* * * 

After-Party in the Garden
By Justin Groppuso-Cook

Our naked congregation gathers
like the pebbles of rain
that roll down the breast
of our summer’s eve.
We sprint through the groves
 
of grapes that swell
into a burst upon our tongues;
through the grass that caresses
the crescent of our feet, & the fields
of softening mud. Our bodies
illuminate in a flicker.
 
A fig tree stands before us.
We impersonate its sway as if
entranced. The night strikes open
& glows behind her limbs:
a pulse. We welcome
the hailstorm in a ponds reflection.
A pond we call our pupils.

Justin Groppuso-Cook's poems have appeared in Duende, Polaris, Mangrove, & the Susquehanna Review. He holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from Michigan State University where he served as a mentor for the Indigenous Youth Empowerment Program, Outreach Assistant at the Center for Poetry, & Assistant Editor of Poetry for the Red Cedar Review.

* * * 

Flotsom Cross

By Henry Goldkamp

*archive currently unavailable. 

* * * 

Nocturne

By Margaret C. Hughes

*archive currently unavailable. 

* * * 

End-of-Day

 Katharyn Howd Machan

 

Where infants sleep, I gather

nets I’ve woven from desert grass

and whiskers of the wide-eyed lions

who hunt with me, who lie down long

in the shadows of my shoulders’ wings.

My womb spewed out the world’s

dark demons, but refuses me

 

my own warm child to cherish

in strong mother arms and name

powerfully with the seven vowels

of my tongue’s alphabet. She lives

only when I dare to dream;

I wake up cold and empty.

And so I creep where babies

 

breathe alone in cradle beds:

I croon, I whisper, I touch the heads

descended from that dead first man

I left behind in appled Eden

for my tawny owls, my gray jackals,

my faithful beasts wild as I am

in new moon’s lack of light.


Katharyn Howd Machan began teaching Writing at Ithaca College in 1977. She grew up in Woodbury, Connecticut and Pleasantville, New York. She studied creative writing and literature at the College of Saint Rose for a Bachelor of Arts and at the University of Iowa for a Master of Arts, taught college for five years, returned to graduate school for a Ph.D. in Interpretation (Performance Studies) at Northwestern University and, now as a full professor, puts special emphasis on first-year seminars and Honors courses, all with a focus on fairy tales. 

* * *

This Poem Is Banned
By Bruce Mcrae

​​
For saying what needed to be said
when nobody wanted to hear it.
For telling stories out of school,
naming the names, pointing the fingers.
This poem has been banned because
powerful people were made to feel uncomfortable.
Banned for eschewing protocol.
Because someone important insisted. 

While reading this poem
you might conclude it’s right
that you act and think for yourself.
Having this poem in your house
suggests you may be harbouring certain leanings
others would consider unacceptable.
You don’t want soldiers kicking in your door
over a silly poem. Do you?
You don’t need a veil of threats
or your mouth smashed in with a rifle butt.
Be reasonable…

Because this poem is strictly forbidden,
like counterfeit currency or certain truths.
It might instigate a rebellion
or a national debate. There may be
peaceful protests, which lead to 
(very possibly) rioting.
Reading this poem is strictly prohibited,
every other word blacked out,
its author lying low while on the lam.
Shadowy figures from shadowy agencies
are standing over you, declaring:
"This poem is taboo."
Little outlaw, this poem is contraband.
I didn’t write it. But whoever wrote it,
I wrote it for you.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a Pushcart nominee with over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), all also available via Amazon. His video-and-music poems can be viewed on YouTube’s ‘BruceMcRaePoetry’, or the Facebook page for ‘Thee Caretakers’.

Pebble Shore
By James Pate

I’ll journey under

the flat-topped mountains,

their hips chalked

with skulls and lilies. I’ll take the train

under the avenues of

the city and watch ghost faces

linger on

black glass. It is midnight

and we eat the midnight

candy. Our tongues

turn toward fleeting gilt 

syllables. Our bones

into cold smoke

that haloes the lamps

flanking the roads

of Overture Park. Rain

splashes on our leftovers.

Our hair and renowned desires.

Our fingertip nostalgia. Our cooing

throats. Our memories

of attics and frost and ancient

mattresses. Mahler’s 6th

in the foreground, swelling. Imprint

of my breath on the window.

 

I keep something

to myself, inside

myself. I follow my footsteps

regularly. The syntax

of ruins and faded tattoos

and rooms high above the streets

where even the air

is illicit. An altar anywhere

is belief

everywhere. In the angel factory

they remake

us nightly, shoulder and joint, breast

and midriff, pressing

their whispers and tinfoil feathers

into our warm

cavities, our damp expectant lungs.

 

Ecology

By James Pate

 

Rain clattered, wind

tore through the leaves:

Spring, with its purple

froth and orange-eyed

eruptions. Its webbing

caught in silver

light. The town faded

like a ship coasting

on night clouds. I heard

nothing, awoke no one.

Crows loved us

and remained by

our side. When we

opened our chests

to them, flame blazed forth, and they

neared and smelled

along our bones

and entered into our night.

 

We wept

rivulets of mud

and honey.

Pines purred

with smoke.

 

Spring, with its leaps

and high-worn violets and soiled 

mouth and gilded

cornice. Its bare foot leaving

bloodied

toe prints

in whistling grass. 

 

We were born

in the hour of

insomnia and serpents.

Petals in crystal ashtrays.

 

James Pate is the author of The Fassbinder Diaries (Civil Coping Mechanisms), Flowers Among the Carrion (Action Books), and Speed of Life (Fahrenheit Press). His book reviews have appeared at 3:AM Magazine, Tarpaulin Sky, and Sublime Horror.

* * *

​Surrender

By Ellen Rhodes

*archive currently unavailable. 

* * *

 

The Carpet
By Daniel Ruefman

Under ten years of deadfall
was soft earth, black as tar,
and the wiry roots
of the new growth
crawled through
a roll of orange shag,
older than the house we lived in.
 
Saplings impaled the carpet,
transecting, tying
each layer
to whatever it was
that lie at core of the thing,
that lured the roots
there to feed.
 
When the earth finally yielded,
a russet stain at the center of the mass
called to mind the image of blood,
and I wondered what blood would look like
if buried ten years on in the old woods
that would become my back yard.
 
The sodden fibers were heavy
as I heaved and threaded it
between two trees along the fence line,
and up the hill to the gate,
until it wedged itself on the stump
of the old cherry that we burned
in the fire pit last spring.
 
Nothing else to do, I fetched
the serrated blade and held it
willing the carpet empty
as I sawed at the thatched bottom;
implausibly bright, clean threads
were shed as I sawed, falling to earth
like dandruff on a bedspread in winter.
 
I imagined the horror of the blade
grinding against bone,
catching on the matted hair
or thick sweater of a corpse I would discover.
I practiced telling of my discovery
to the village police officers
who would call the Sheriff,
who would call the FBI,
who would call a family in need of closure;
 
I practiced my no comments for cameras
that would soon be camping on my lawn
and felt the anger sparked by the vulgarity
of the spectacle they’d bring down
upon this tiny riverside town,
and the rumors that would drive us out--
 
until my blade struck dirt,
and finding neither meat,
nor bone—human or otherwise--
I sighed with relief and lifted
each segment of carpet free
of the trees, and into the steel
dumpster, waiting in our drive
 
chancing one last glance
at the stain, and thinking
it must have been wine,
that’s all.

 

Daniel Ruefman’s works of poetry and fiction have appeared widely in periodicals, including Burningword, The Barely South Review, Minetta Review, Sheepshead Review, and many others. He is the author of the chapbook Breathe Automatic and currently teaches writing at the University of Wisconsin—Stout. To learn more visit his website  

* * * 

Visiting a Very Small Dark House

By David Sam 

He answered the door

but did not answer

when we asked without asking

if we could come inside.

He did say that she was ill

from the stroke

and the wheelchair

and would not want visitors.

But it was not she

that I wanted to see behind

the closed drapes

and the closed door.

I wanted to see if the octopus

was still painted on the wall

above the bathtub.

I wanted to see if the white stove

with the black burners

still sputtered as chocolate pudding

reached the right boil

to congeal its sweetness.

I wanted to see if the toilet

was still exposed

in the middle of the basement floor,

if the picture window

was etched with memories in glass

from the manger scenes

that had been painted there.

He did not answer these

unasked questions.

He closed the door on the bright day

[NO SPACE]

and regloomed the house inside.

We walked away past

the emptiness that ghosted

the two tall pines

that had arrived rooted

in baskets of wood

on successive Christmas Eves,

past the shadows of chalk streets

drawn on the cracked concrete,

onto the same unsamed red bricks

that caromed rubber balls

from a history of stickball games.

As I turned my back

on the very small dark house,

all I heard were our steps

echoing with voices

that are forever unvoiced.

Born in Pennsylvania, David Anthony Sam is the proud grandson of peasant immigrants from Poland and Syria. For much of his life, he lived and worked in the Detroit area, graduating from Eastern Michigan University (BA, MA) and Michigan State (Ph.D.). He lives now in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. Sam’s poetry has appeared in over 90 journals and publications and his poem, “First and Last,” won the 2018 Rebecca Lard Award. Six of his collections are in print including Final Inventory (Prolific Press 2018), Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson, the 2016 Grand Prize winner of the GFT Press Chapbook Contest and Dark Fathers (Kelsay Book: 2019). He currently teaches creative writing at Germanna Community College, from where he retired as President in 2017 and serves as regional Vice President on the Board of the Virginia Poetry Society.

* * *

Impressions from Alligator Lagoon

By Richard Weaver

*archive currently unavailable. 

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