Saturday, 15 December 2018


Fling

by Sarah Thursday


She leaps
paws up in body fling.
Her victim lies heavy and low.
She is weightless and intent—aim.
There is no hesitation in her bound,
no think—no worry of outcome, only leap.
Only arch over. She is absent
of knowing words like pain,
like regret, like sorrow.
She is arm-swaddled
and cheek-kissed.
All her falls have led to opportunity—so she leaps.
Each claw slightly spread from the other.
She wills her hind end to carry her
attack up. It will arrive
eventually. That need
to weigh consequences.
Until then, she leaps.


* * * * *

Sarah Thursday, in addition to writing poetry, co-hosted 2nd Mondays Poetry Party, ran a poetry website called CadenceCollective.net, and founded Sadie Girl Press as a way to help publish local and emerging poets and artists. She has been published in many fine journals and anthologies, interviewed by Poetry LA, and received a 2017 Best of the Net nomination for “To the Men who told me my Love was not enough.” Her newest poetry book, Conversations with Gravel, is available at SadieGirlPress.com. Find and follow her to learn more on SarahThursday.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.     

Friday, 14 December 2018


August Tango

by Judy Katz-Levine


You're a forgiving cypress,
write songs named after our arguments.

We peel the mango in sultry twilight.

Lips before a thunderstorm.

Comes tomorrow, a door opens.
Luminous text-faces speak.

The caring moment after the operation -
that happened a year ago.

Brooding.

The luminous flesh of the mango.

There's a voice inside my voice.
It comes when no one watches.

An August tango remembers.

It was a year ago, and the operation lingers
in its effects.

Once we were taking our son to the rotating tire
at the playground.

Now he's peeling mangos for us.


* * * * *

"August Tango" is from Judy Katz-Levine's new book The Everything Saint, was first published in Ekleksographia.

Judy Katz-Levine's new book, The Everything Saint, has just been published by Word Press (available on Amazon). Of the book, the publisher says "The Everything Saint shows us the holy in the ordinary, and Judy Katz-Levine is a faithful guide to such wonders." Her recent poetry and translations have appeared in Writing In A Woman's Voice, Miriam's Well, Salamander, Blue Unicorn, Ibbetson Street, Event Horizon, Peacock Journal, and many other venues. Also a jazz flutist, she enjoys playing at jam sessions.

Thursday, 13 December 2018


April 14 2017 Mississippi John Hurt

by Judy Katz-Levine


I would desire the hands of Mississippi John Hurt, the fingers
just slightly bent and with a touch of arthritis, though he
has spent a lifetime caressing that gentle guitar, calling
to his folks you got to travel that lonesome road all by yourself
and the humbleness of his voice, just a touch of a rasp, eyes
that know far more than the eyes of a scholar, glancing up at the camera
now and then only now and then, it isn't really trains one hears
in the blues guitar, it may be a walk with a grandchild down
by the river, or the grace bestowed after singing "Amazing Grace"
in the church near the homes of cousins getting ready to go out
and toss a baseball to the sky. I would desire, as I age, the fingers
of Mississippi John Hurt, which symbolize a life lived without
greed, without any malice whatsoever, any grab to power, and the
unearthly gentleness in his voice, yes, I would desire that.


* * * * *

"April 14 2017 Mississippi John Hurt," from Judy Katz-Levine's new book The Everything Saint, was first published in Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene and Miriam's Well.

Judy Katz-Levine's new book, The Everything Saint, has just been published by Word Press (available on Amazon). Of the book, the publisher says "The Everything Saint shows us the holy in the ordinary, and Judy Katz-Levine is a faithful guide to such wonders." Her recent poetry and translations have appeared in Writing In A Woman's Voice, Miriam's Well, Salamander, Blue Unicorn, Ibbetson Street, Event Horizon, Peacock Journal, and many other venues. Also a jazz flutist, she enjoys playing at jam sessions.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018


Child Meditating

by Francesca West


Hot sun. Lying out underneath the clouds.
White spots on blue. Fluff in the sky.
The sky which hides all depth.
My eyes that play with colors.
I see the red warmth 
And feel the yellow light all around me.
I laid on the front lawn in a timeless state,
Being of nothing,
Existing as I take each breath, 
Knowing how to not know.
A child laying the foundation, 
Laying down the inner road.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018


Suburban Nightmare

by Francesca West


Running, stumbling, then seeing…
Darkness in the trees,
The dying of the breeze,
Leaves moving silently.
The orange glow of desolate street lights,
I know this doesn’t feel right,
Head thudding, chest tight. 
Shaking, staggering, then hearing… 
Sounds of death zooming near me. 
Over my shoulders I am peering,
Try to stay out of those clearings, 
Then they leave me just as fast
As every car continues to pass.
Heart beating, body bleeding, mind in a race…
I can’t tell what time this will take,
The journey ahead, the one I can’t escape. 
Pockets emptied, pants unzipped, boots untied… 
Tear-streaked face, loss of pride.
More alcohol is on the way.
I’ll shove these emotions down those empty bottles, 
After my feet recover these traveled miles,
Not speaking up was my form of denial.
I kept bleeding, in my head screaming, tears kept streaming…
Because most days I saw their faces,
While the touches, there still were traces, 
These memories so invasive.
They played it like a selfish game
In an empty house, with the parents away.
These people never knowing, when back they came, 
What kind of hell had taken place.
Believing the home they created was somehow safe 
But is a place I remember being brutally raped.

Monday, 10 December 2018


The Woman Down the Road

by Mara Buck


There is a woman, lives in the trailer park down that side road by the lightning-blasted oak, beyond the Shell station. She has a Trump sign in front of her trailer and her trailer is festooned with forever Christmas lights. Some still light up; most don’t. She is anxious about a lot of things so she smokes generic filters and she has I don’t know how many kids and her nose looks like it’s been broken more than once.

I’ve seen her sweeping up at night at the Walmart in town. I doubt she earns back her cigarette money, but she can use her employee discount for the kids’ clothes. She needs Hillary’s presidency more than you or I, but the saddest thing is, she doesn’t know it, may never know it. She’s afraid Hillary will come and take that Taurus handgun right out from under her pillow. She ordered it online, liked that the name was the same as her birth sign. If she loses the gun, how can she sleep at night? Then what’ll she do if her husband comes back? She’s got a restraining order but that never stopped him before. Then it’ll be Hillary’s fault, just like Mr. Trump says. Hillary will take away her job and give it to some damn immigrant. Hillary will take her food stamps and give them to some Muslims who will rape her in her trailer while she watches her stories, and she won’t have her gun because Hillary will have taken it. Mr. Trump will fix it all. She’ll be secure with Mr. Trump. He’s promised.

The woman has no name because she’s a stereotype, but she’s real enough. I live in rural Maine where there are many women like this, women without a future, whose kids trudge down the same muddy road to the same trailer they’ll inherit one day. I’m her friend, but she’ll never know that.

I myself am just a shout away from that trailer. I live below the poverty line because I spent my life savings saving my life from cancer, despite insurance, so I have to shop at the Walmart even though I hate it and wish I could boycott it. I don’t smoke and I don’t have kids, but I admit there are times when a gun under the pillow might make me sleep easier. Maybe not. Probably not. I’m much better educated, but I’m not far away from this woman. And I would guess many of us live closer to her than we’d like to admit.

So I dedicate my no-Trump vote to her and to all those women in all those trailers, in all those cheap rental units, and in all those houses with the peeling paint and the mismatched siding. To all those without the education to crawl out of their holes. To all those who’ve pinned the hopes of a lifetime onto a shifty con-man who sells the snake-oil of hate, who promises to make the future great for himself and his kind, who waves the gilded carrot of prosperity—while the woman in the trailer sinks deeper into the surrounding mud, while her Christmas lights flicker out one by one. 


Epilogue: Now the election of our lives has ended and we still stagger with the shock. Despite the cuts in services, the loss of jobs, the rancor and the hate and the groans of the dying earth, the woman in the trailer has recently posted a crudely illustrated sign “Trump can grab my P….” Even the resounding message of the midterm elections has had no effect on this woman. Her sign is a bit more weathered, but today she has hung fresh Christmas lights to illuminate the message.

I swallow hard and I drive on into darkness, feeling that I’ve lost a friend I never had.


* * * * *

"The Woman Down the Road" was previously published on 10/23/16 at http://dedicateyournotrumpvote.blogspot.com.


Mara Buck writes and rants in a self-constructed hideaway in the Maine woods. News Flash—2018 winner of The Scottish Arts Club Short Story Prize! Other recent firsts include the F. Scott Fitzgerald Poetry Prize, The Binnacle International Prize. Awarded/short-listed by Faulkner-Wisdom, Hackney, Balticon, Confluence, and others. Publications include Hektoen International Medical Journal, HuffPost, Crack the Spine, Blue Fifth, Pithead Chapel, Tishman, Whirlwind, and numerous print anthologies. Current projects include the ubiquitous novel and a collection of strange stories of Maine. 


Sunday, 9 December 2018


Loki

by Betsy Mars


What makes me so happy
about the way a dog laps water
from the dish? Tongue slapping
liquid, and once quenched,
the excess flowing over slack lips,
the floor slick with spit. Loki grins,
black nose gleaming, triple dipped.


* * * * *

Betsy Mars is a southern California poet who is in a perpetual battle with change – finally coming to some kind of a truce, and at times even love and acceptance. She is an educator, mother, animal lover, and over-excited traveler. Her poetry has been published in a number of places, both online and in print, most recently in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, and Red Wolf Journal. Writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.

Saturday, 8 December 2018


Red Asphalt

by Betsy Mars


We moved to town
the slow summer
before high school
I saw him
the first day of class,
golden and athletic,
elusive,
a bronzed racehorse
of a man --
with hair like Harpo Marx,
loose curls
forming a halo,
a crown
that didn't save
his skull from caving
when he took
that curve
too fast.


* * * * *

"Red Asphalt" was selected for Spectrum 14, an anthology about what it's like to be a teen put together by Don Kingfisher Campbell. 

Betsy Mars is a southern California poet who is in a perpetual battle with change – finally coming to some kind of a truce, and at times even love and acceptance. She is an educator, mother, animal lover, and over-excited traveler. Her poetry has been published in a number of places, both online and in print, most recently in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, and Red Wolf Journal. Writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.

Friday, 7 December 2018


Rush

by Kelli J Gavin


Please rush me
If you don’t
I never will
Make me
Do it
Make me move
Make me start
Make me want more
Please rush me
If you don’t
I never will


* * * * *

Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company.  Look for Kelli’s first book of short stories and poems in 2019. You can find her work with The Ugly Writers, Sweatpants & Coffee, Writing In a Woman’s Voice, The Writers Newsletter,  Writers Unite!, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Rye Whiskey Review, Spillwords, Mercurial Stories, 121 Words, HerStry, Ariel Chart, The Basil O’Flaherty, PPP Ezine, Southwest Media, Otherwise Engaged, Pleather Skin, Paper.Li, The New Ink Review, among others.                                                                                                                                                        
Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin

Thursday, 6 December 2018


So Long

by Kelli J Gavin


I will not say goodbye to you.
I won’t do it.
I will say so long.
In hopes of seeing you again.
I will not say goodbye to you.
Good bye always seems so final.
And saying goodbye to you isn’t possible.
I will always want you.
I will always need you.
So long.
I will see you soon.
I will see you again.
Because I will not say goodbye to you.


* * * * *

Kelli J Gavin lives in Carver, Minnesota with Josh, her husband of an obscene amount of years and they have two crazy kids. She is a Writer, Professional Organizer and owns Home & Life Organization and a small Jewelry Company.  Look for Kelli’s first book of short stories and poems in 2019. You can find her work with The Ugly Writers, Sweatpants & Coffee, Writing In a Woman’s Voice, The Writers Newsletter,  Writers Unite!, Academy of the Heart and Mind, The Rye Whiskey Review, Spillwords, Mercurial Stories, 121 Words, HerStry, Ariel Chart, The Basil O’Flaherty, PPP Ezine, Southwest Media, Otherwise Engaged, Pleather Skin, Paper.Li, The New Ink Review, among others.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
Find Kelli on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @KelliJGavin


Wednesday, 5 December 2018


I don’t get periods, just exclamation points!

by Andrena Zawinski


Becoming a woman was explained to so many  
of us in clich├ęs, couched innuendos, and silences. 
Instructions arrived in the Kotex corporation
pamphlet, “You’re a Young Lady Now.” 

Inside the box under a soft pink cover, appeared 
a sanitary napkin with elastic belt and clips 
that would bring chafing, pinching, welts, wedgies, 
feeling frumpy with a wad of cotton in the pants. 

Even after moving onto disposable tampons, 
washable sea sponges, eco-friendly cloth pads, 
and heightened awareness, women curl up bloated 
in bed when the curse of cramps knocks at the door.

We are still chastised by words as being on the rag, 
being told to take a pill, to stop being so moody, 
so touchy, sensitive, overreactive when Aunt Flo 
sails in to visit on the crimson wave.

German women hear about the Code Red Alarm, 
the French get a crime scene in their panties, 
Chinese a Bloody Mary, Russians the Red Army. 
I tell sisters now how to silence common aspersions—

Hang from your door, desk, computer screen a sign:
“I have PMS and a handgun. Now walk away!”


* * * * *

More about Andrena Zawinski: www.poetrymagazine.com/zawinski


Tuesday, 4 December 2018


Uneven Like Islands

by Susan Tepper


Down the center then veering off to one side is a large crack in my kitchen window. It’s like the profile of a pregnant woman in a line drawing. A round jagged hole, the size of a navel orange, where a breast would be.
                                   
A boy threw a baseball either deliberately or he had bad aim. Hearing the shatter that seemed to come from the kitchen, I’d put down my wine glass, running from the side porch. Glass shards in my sink. A hard ball, smallish and discolored, was covering the drain. I picked it out of the glass studying it a moment. Then I looked out the window. In a light breeze, the pink dogwood brushing the clapboards seemed undisturbed. Then I spotted the boy.
                                                           
He stood in my un-sheared meadow of weeds and brambles. Shorts, bright-yellow T-shirt, blue baseball cap. A boy around twelve, gawky, some thirty feet from my house. Close. I went to the back screen door, opening it, calling out to him. He didn’t say a word. No apology, nothing. As if he had just delivered a newspaper. He gave me the finger then turned his back.


Some time later I am to discover this boy is the son of a man I’ve been seeing. I came upon this information accidentally. If Joe’s wallet had not been left open on my night stand, the plastic photo flap showing the same boy in the yellow T-shirt and cap, I probably would never have made the connection. The photo flap could have opened to the wife, or any of his other children. There are four. How the boy found out I’m involved with his father is unclear. We’ve been very discreet. Bars and restaurants several towns over, that sort of thing. When Joe saw my window taped, he naturally asked what happened. I told him a boy may have thrown a baseball deliberately, or just aimed wrong. I’ve kept the ball on my bedroom closet shelf. I once had a boy child who lived only a short time. A few days. He came and left so quickly.

The night Joe saw my cracked window, our sex was more fierce than usual. He seemed to be expunging something from my body. Of course, back then, I still didn’t know the boy was his son. Not until later in the year.

                                                              *

On the side porch my sister sits in the old slat rocker. Across from her I’m stretched out on the wicker couch, surrounded by toss pillows. The big pillows are boutique, and expensive; from another lifetime. I’d coaxed my then-husband to stop in Bridgehampton for ice cream, before we made the long drive back to the city. The pillows in a nearby shop window had enticed me. I ended up spending a lot on them. Something to do with vintage fabrics. He didn’t seem to mind. In our divorce settlement I took very little. It was a bone of contention between me and my sister. She didn’t understand that I couldn’t take more than I went in with; which wasn’t much.

We’re drinking from a bottle of Chardonnay she brought over. She’s smoking again. Rain stops and starts as if on a timer. She asks if I feel guilty sleeping with a married man. No. I don’t say this but shake my head to indicate. She squints at me, disbelieving.

“Guilt doesn’t enter into it,” I say. For a good red the wine tastes slightly acrid.

“How long do you think this is going to go on?”  She’s insistent that guilt would play a part if she were under the same circumstances.

They are never the same circumstances. You are you, and I am I. A striking arch to her eyebrows makes me wonder if she had them threaded. I want to say: Look. Your husband provides nicely for you and the kids. Your house is large and airy. There’s granite in your kitchen and bathrooms. A great mahogany deck, big gas grill. Manicured lawn. While I have this tiny cottage where the roof leaks when too much snow piles on.  So, you see, things are never the same.

I don’t say it. Or that this whole place could use a paint job. Sections of bare wood, turned greyish, show on the clapboards uneven like islands. My kitchen has old formica counters chipped in places. The one bathroom is decrepit with age. I never expected Joe to leave his wife and family. Between us, that subject has never come up.

“I’m a free woman,” I tell my sister.

She shrugs looking at her watch. “Last call,” she says.

The darkness is closing in tight. Pouring her final glass almost to the brim she puts her feet on the ottoman. “Remember to turn the clocks back this weekend,” she says.

“Yeah, I remember.” When I stare out into the rain, and dim, my reflection back seems fractured.


* * * * *                                          

"Uneven Like Islands" was first published in Mom Egg Review.

More about Susan Tepper and her widely published work can be found at www.susantepper.com.

Monday, 3 December 2018


IN THE DEMENTIA WARD   
                                                                                        
by Dianne Moritz


Seeing my step-father, Bert, in the hospital, for the first time, gave me a shock. I’d visited my parents, in Sun City, Arizona, a year before, and although Bert slept a lot, refused walks, and had lost some memory, he seemed hale and hearty for a man in his eighties, fixing cocktails, telling old stories, joking and laughing. So it was upsetting when my mother phoned me in New York and asked me to come out immediately.

When my plane landed, I headed straight to the hospital. Once there, I was directed to an area with rooms occupied by patients in various stages of decline. "The dementia ward," someone said. Mother and my two sisters hovered near Bert's bedside.

His deterioration was disturbing. He looked as frail and fragile as a baby bird, cloudy eyes, thin wisps of hair, bony hands clutching the bed-covers. Bert recognized me, which was a good sign, asked where I was living, which wasn’t, then said, “Something’s wrong with my brain.”

“I know, Bert. That’s why we’re all here. How are you feeling otherwise?”

"Fine, fine," he answered.

As we chatted, I studied the surroundings.

The place was pleasant, clean and cheerfully decorated, yet, I found it depressing. I remembered when Bert once told me that he would never want to spend his last days in "an old folks' home." I wondered if he truly understood his condition. I consoled myself with the thought that, if he could vocalize any sort of awareness, he couldn’t be that bad, could he? Could he?

Across the way, a pretty woman, with high-cheek bones and rosy skin, screamed like a baby as a nurse fed her tomato soup.
  
Then, two older ladies walked over from down the hall. Dressed in thick wool coats, pocket-books dangling from their linked arms, they whispered and giggled.

“Lunch was delicious,” said one, “too bad we forgot to pay.”

“Oh well,” said the other. “No one seemed to mind. We’ll take care of it next time.”  

They greeted my dad, then approached me. “We need to tell you something,” one announced. The other added: “Yes! We want to go home. Can you take us home?”

“Oh, dear,” I said, “I'm not allowed to take you home. I don’t have a car and I don’t know where you live.”

“We'll show you,” said one. "Yes," said the other, pointing out a window. “We could grab a cab. Look! There’re lots of cabs around this place.”

“I wish I could help you,” I muttered…and, for one moment, fantasized scooting them out the door, hustling them into the nearest taxi, and driving with them anywhere but there.

When we visited Bert the next day, he, too, wanted to leave. We assured him that he would be home the minute he felt better.

I saw the two ladies again. They implored me with their previous request. Pain seared my heart. I laughed to stifle my tears and they wandered off arm-in-arm.

Bert was tired, so we didn’t stay long. We wished him well and said good-bye. In the elevator, I had a sudden urge to rush back to hug him, but I didn’t. Tomorrow, I thought, tomorrow.

Both sisters left the next morning and Mother said. "No hospital for me today. Take my Prius.”

Not eager to go alone, I climbed in the car anyway. Traffic was bumper to bumper up and down the main highway. At the first stop-light, I panicked. Heart pounding, hands trembling, I turned back. I never saw Bert again. Guilt haunts me still.


* * * * *

Dianne Moritz writes poetry and picture books for children. Memoir pieces have been published in The LA Times, NY Times, Des Moines Register, Romantic Homes, East Hampton Star and online in Drabblez. Adult poetry has appeared in several print journals and online in Adelaide Literary, The Haiku Foundation, Haiku Universe, and The Drabble. A piece is forthcoming in The Thread.

Sunday, 2 December 2018


Wintry Bouquet

by Joan McNerney


This December
during wide nights
hemmed by blackness,
I remember roses.
Pink yellow red violet
those satin blooms of June.

We must wait six months
before seeing blossoms,
touch their brightness
crush their scent
with fingertips.

Now there are only
ebony pools of winter’s
heavy ink of darkness.

Dipping into memory of
my lips touching petals
tantalizing sweet buds.
My body longs for softness.

I glimpse brilliant faces of
flowers right before me as I
burrow beneath frosty blankets.
Bracing against that long, cold
nocturnal of wind and shadow.