Sunday, 17 November 2019


Trader Joe's, on a Sunday

by Jennifer Donnell


He was in the produce aisle and I was picking out a cucumber,
(the biggest one, of course).
He had brown hair and muscles, the things I used to look for.

And,

I could have stood there like product placement and hoped 
we'd bump carts, then bond over a love 
of organic berries and fancy trail mix.

Maybe I'd consent to an impromptu romp
and he'd drive me away in the grown-up blue sports car
(azure?) I saw him drive in on,
then I'd do him in the front seat
overlooking the Pacific,
free.

But, no. 

Instead, I hightailed it over to the frozen food aisle
to fish out our dinner, tacos with tartar sauce and shredded cabbage.
I came home, cooked and did the dishes… while you napped,
then woke, ate, and read our sons a classic about a wolf
dressed up in someone else's clothing.

Sometimes you're that wolf,
such big eyes.

When you think I'm not looking, I always am.
Do you ever stop to contemplate how they feel
as someone's mother, sister, daughter?
Do they see you with the kids and I
and wonder why you don't love us enough to look away.
Do they use it as a cautionary tale about the kind of guy they don't want,
who fantasizes about fucking them as I hold his hand.

You say it's like nicotine, your best analogy as a non-smoker.
The kind of hit that is hard to live without and isn't it human nature,
you ponder.

I ponder our lives.

Will you check out the bridesmaid at our wedding?
(No, gross.)
What about the waitress at the cake table?
What about other women in bikinis on our honeymoon?
What about our son's girlfriends?
What about your next sexy coworker?
What about when I'm 45 and they're 25.
What about nurses in our eventual nursing home?

How about yourself in the mirror?

He was in the produce aisle and I ignored him.
He went home to his wife and held and kissed her, grateful.
I went home and cried about all the woman you look at
during the three second rule. 


* * * * *

"Trader Joe's, on a Sunday" was first posted on Fictionaut.

Jennifer Donnell is a writer and poet from Southern California. 
She loves being outside, dogs and people who spill the beans. 
She tries to not to be one of those people who texts at dinner and isn’t sure how decaf coffee wakes her up. 
Check out more of her writing by connecting with her on Facebook.


Saturday, 16 November 2019


To Ask a Question Does Not Mean You Get an Answer

by Dianna MacKinnon Henning


All winter I remained with the dead, a white haired
old woman, knuckles big
as thick dollops of honey. Asked
my name by a nurse’s aide, I couldn’t
remember, but instead recalled
a river my lover and I once swam. The Winooski,
I answered making the aide
wrinkle his nose. I fished
for a flower from my gown. The dead

are in rehearsal, I told his half
shut eye. That’s when he hustled
to fetch a doctor. Someone’s

seasoned with a spritely nature,
I told myself. Floodgates opened. The observation
room swayed with seaweed. If anyone

asks, I’m swimming across the ocean
to Bethlehem. I want to hear the sermon on the Mount, or
at least touch Mary Magdalene’s hem.


* * * * *

"To Ask a Question Does Not Mean You Get an Answer" was first published in Sequestrum (2019).

Dianna MacKinnon Henning has work published in The Moth, Ireland; Sukoon, Volume 5; Mojave River Review; The New Verse News; Hawaii Pacific Review; Sequestrum; South Dakota Review; Naugatuck River Review; Lullwater Review; The Kentucky Review; Blue Fifth Review; The Main Street Rag; Clackamas Literary Review; 22 wagons by Danijela Trajković, Istok Akademia, an anthology of contemporary Anglophone poetry; California Quarterly; Poetry International and Fugue. Three-time Pushcart nominee. New work due out 2019 in New American Writing, The Kerf. Henning taught through California Poets in the Schools, received several CAC grants and taught poetry workshops through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program. Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand was published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.

Friday, 15 November 2019


The only people who call it ‘Cali’ are from someplace else         

by Alexis Rhone Fancher


I want to pinpoint the moment it all went south.

1. My sister blames her ex’s bad genes.
Sometimes she blames the media.

2. When Anna was 12 we sat in the dark in Van Nuys,
watched Thelma & Louise self-ignite.

Brad Pitt’s the perfect man,
my niece said more than once.

Headstrong, even then.

3. We only went to that church for a year, my sister cried,
after Anna’s abuse was laid bare.

The reverend looked like a young Brad Pitt,
introduced by the Pentecostal neighbor
as a godly man, but which god?

The reverend was far too beautiful;
Anna, such easy prey.

4. Futile to press charges, my sister said,
doubting the testimony of her muddled girl, the publicity.

5. My sister moved everyone to Georgia.

No one told her how cold it got in the South.

She could not know Anna would self-destruct,
grow dizzy in rehab’s revolving door;

the reverend’s defilement a living thing.

6. The last time I saw Anna,
she was wearing a T-shirt with the Golden State
stretched like an open wound across her length,
screaming CALI in lurid yellow.


* * * * *

"The only people who call it ‘Cali’ are from someplace else" was first published in Blood Orange Review (Dec. 2017) and is part of Alexis Rhone Fancher's poetry collection The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019)

L.A poet Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Poetry East, 
Hobart, VerseDaily, American Journal of Poetry, Duende, Plume, Diode, Wide Awake: 
Poets of Los Angeles, and elsewhere. She’s the author of five published poetry collections, most 
recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash 
Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected, publishes in 2020 from New York QuarterlyHer 
photographs are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Pithead Chapel,
Heyday and Witness. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry 
editor of Cultural Weeklywww.alexisrhonefancher.com

Thursday, 14 November 2019


The House

                                                            by Dianna MacKinnon Henning


was woven with sweet cedar; its metal
roof pinged in the rain. A wide
field of windows, their window-boxes
pulsated with red geraniums. There

were oaks and digger pines.
There were coyotes that howled.
There was a pond wide as a lake. There
was a sense of other beings. A woman

and a man called their place Little
Clear Creek. They planted apple 
trees named for their children. Each
evening they walked to the pond. Snow

geese with black tipped wings
lifted off the water. The man held his
wife’s hand. Their eyes said they were
eternal. But houses are sometimes

astute scholars who study their people
with avid attention. He began to work late
at the office. She grew restless and remote.
When the people broke, the house, too.

The couple left separately, the pebble
path scattered. Geraniums died. Cedar
siding turned a dismal gray. Other
beings shook their heads in dismay, and

hesitated to enter the abandoned home.
But what was built into the walls’ continued,
their best moments, swells of laughter,
such as when they first met apple picking.



* * * * *

"The House" was first published in Blue Fifth Review.

Dianna MacKinnon Henning has work published in The Moth, Ireland; Sukoon, Volume 5; Mojave River Review; The New Verse News; Hawaii Pacific Review; Sequestrum; South Dakota Review; Naugatuck River Review; Lullwater Review; The Kentucky Review; Blue Fifth Review; The Main Street Rag; Clackamas Literary Review; 22 wagons by Danijela Trajković, Istok Akademia, an anthology of contemporary Anglophone poetry; California Quarterly; Poetry International and Fugue. Three-time Pushcart nominee. New work due out 2019 in New American Writing, The Kerf. Henning taught through California Poets in the Schools, received several CAC grants and taught poetry workshops through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program. Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand was published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019


Plucking the Lake from Devotion

by Lauren Camp


The music of worship needs sometimes to echo
a body of water, the makers of breath
to be saved by unfaltering nature,
to be drawn from their traces, and travel
above to a clearing. So you might understand why
we should not be allowed to wander
into every larkspur and trail fork, why we must leave
some domains in the distance, not structure a day
with backpacks and bootprints
around someone’s temple—the depth that holds
context for hope. Reality is sometimes more
myth than contours. I’m narrowing down to a specific
soil in the desert and a time older
than the sum of its parts. When water had edges
and basins and pine into distance. The version
most often repeated claims two eagle plumes
sited a pueblo on a land draped with bare places.
In dust and from dust, strong arms wrought repeating
walls and ladders to fathom the sky. Wind bent
and reshaped and vanished. The people lived
in dimensions of owl between dawn and moon. Lived hard
in their origins as cool water flowed
from the mountain. Water was favor, and they named
its crossing for fields, fire and horses. Hawks passed above
and aimed with grand movement. Around them
over time, the people saw violence—new roads, wire fences
and closure. The crowd of such disruption creased
their reason but they bent again with stone
to the corn, transferred thought back to the sparing
desert, returned up their rungs. To gather their senses
they climbed past the amber
hair of the deer through sun-glare and hills
to a lake far from the near earth
of the normal. The vessel of nothing but tears,
to each other’s reflection. They went to the lake to rename
their universe, to say Not today Not
tomorrow, and to measure the cause
of their home and of regular days. At the lake ripples
choired, open-mouthed. And look, here’s a danger line: the lake
belonged to the people. To catch their pleas
and whatever they do when they need
another essential beginning. The strong people
might only have needed the repentant light. Or they might
have offered their flaws or other injustice. I’ll never know.
And you should never know, and that’s the importance.
When I read about the lake’s acquisition, I imagine
spirited flowers that spiral up
beside water. We all want to be changed
by such colors. The truth is other people were given
permission to hike the beautiful earth
and photograph its shimmers. Borrow the blue.
Tell me when do you want others in your prayers? Tell me
how a lake could be taken. The strong people took
truth as burden, but remembered standing safe
against sky when the lake was glad to see them.
Years crawled over the water without offering
this private sequential shape for wounded refrains
and invocations. A request isn’t always
a solution. The people asked in languages for the extravagant
muscle of water, its many windows. They asked
its solace. They asked and asked
and with drummed cadence. For 64 years, they asked
with dented voices, shuffling vowels.
And when the lake was returned, they planted their feet
in its mist, offered it wings, bones and their endings.


* * * * *

"Plucking the Lake from Devotion" is from Turquoise Door (3: A Taos Press, 2018) by Lauren Camp.

Lauren Camp is the author of four books of poems. Her work has been honored with the Dorset Prize, fellowships from Black Earth Institute and The Taft-Nicholson Center, and a finalist citation for the Arab American Book Award. Her poems have been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish and Arabic. www.laurencamp.com

Tuesday, 12 November 2019


The forty-seventh Moon Prize goes to Nancy Gerber's poem "In the Garden, Stuttgart."




In the Garden, Stuttgart

by Nancy Gerber


Captive forever in black and white,
my family seated in the garden.

Great Uncle Louis, Great Grandma Clara,
her daughters, Flora and Ilse,

my father, his sister Ruth,
their cousins Lore and Peter.

The year is 1930, my father seven.
No one imagines the gassings.

Five years later Flora is gone.
Felled by infection from an asylum,

her mind diseased
before her body.

My grandfather Kurt reappears
to care for his children

though he has married
another woman.

After the war, a reunion,
for those who are left.

The U.S. their new home.
Learn a new tongue. Try to forget.

The garden still beckons but my father
returned only once.

I’ve never been, though at night
I dream of deep forests, rushing rivers

a woman’s voice calling Mein Leibschen,
a castle where everyone waltzes.


* * * * *

This poem is excerpted with permission from the author’s poetry chapbook, We Are All Refugees (New Feral Press, 2017). For more information or to order copies please contact Nancy Gerber at nancygerber79@gmail.com.


Nancy Gerber writes fiction, poetry, and essays. Her most recent book, A Way Out of Nowhere (Big Table Publishing), is a collection of short stories featuring female protagonists negotiating the complexities of relationships; it is available on Amazon.




Monday, 11 November 2019


That Time Again

by Oonah V Joslin


The pendulum of the year has swung
once again towards comfort and survival.

In the porous air flower heads fade unsung
poppy heroes seed the dead Winter’s arrival.


* * * * *

Oonah V Joslin is poetry editor at The Linnet’s Wings. She has won prizes for both poetry and micro-fiction. Her book Three Pounds of Cells ISBN: 13: 978-1535486491 is available online from Linnet’s Wings Press and you can see and hear Oonah read in this National Trust video. The first part of her novella A Genie in a Jam is serialised at Bewildering Stories, along with a large body of her work (see Bibliography). You can follow Oonah on Facebook or at Parallel Oonahverse https://oovj.wordpress.com/.