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The first time I saw him,
he was on a lift
changing lightbulbs.

His back to me,
strong arms raised,
deft fingers working.
Slim hips encased
in faded Levi’s,
low-slung tool belt hanging.

I have spent the last twenty years
enthusiastically
sabotaging lightbulbs.

Angi Waggoner lives in South Carolina with her hardworking husband and two wisecracking teenagers. Her poetry can be found on countless receipts, bank envelopes and random scraps of paper. This piece marks her first print publication.





Hello? Hello? Damn.
You know I don’t like
these contraptions.
Hello? Are you back yet
from your trip? How was it
in China? You went to China, I’m
pretty sure. Is my voice being
recorded? Or are you there? Will
you answer if you are? I’m just
wondering how it all went, how
you’re doing. I read that you
have a foot of snow in Wisconsin.
My God. That’s why I’m in
California. The oranges are ripe
on the trees. Are you back yet?
Are you there? If you are, pick
up the phone. Most of all,
I’m wondering, how is the baby?
Maybe some day I’ll meet her.
But you’ll have to bring her here.
To Sacramento. I guess you
could say, this is an invitation.

Karen Loeb lives in western Wisconsin where she writes, gardens, teaches. Her poems are most recently in Hanging Loose, The Main Street Rag, Bloodroot, Spillway, Chest, Verse Wisconsin and forthcoming in The Connecticut River Review? and the Wisconsin Poets Calendar.




Retire
Joan Colby

Retire to a village with bluebirds, hollyhocks and people of all ages. (ad in The New Yorker)

Bluebirds, hollyhocks, people of all ages.
Golden years of slick brochures.
Grey frosted models decorate pages
Swinging golf clubs, self assured
And comely strolling hand in hand,
Testaments to Viagra, the good life,
Promissory notes of sun and sand.
The realized dream of man and wife.
No wheelchairs, dementia, amputations,
Cancer, kidney failure, heart attacks,
Trips to the ER, chemo stations,
Elastic stockings, colostomy sacks.
No vacant stares of senility’s last stages
At bluebirds, hollyhocks, people of all ages.

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review's James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). She is the editor of Illinois Racing News,and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers, The Atrocity Book and her newest book from Future Cycle Press—“Dead Horses.” FutureCycle has just published “Selected Poems”. A chapbook “Bittersweet” is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Press next winter.





The more days that pass,
the more comments my beard elicits;
nearly one year—365 days—in growing.

Unkinked, the beard of my chinny-chin-chin,
half a foot—six full inches—
sprouts from my face: the length of a dollar bill,

which as a young boy, I used as a ruler
to determine whether the brook trout we caught
along the shaded streams were long enough to keep;

the length of the ball-point pen
I used to scribble the notes
which eventually became this poem;

the length of an average man’s erection,
which I’ve never used in a poem before.
When the man on the train turned

to me as we were pulling into Penn Station
and said: “That, Sir, is an epic beard,”
was his voice brimming with disbelief

and beard envy, a touch of inadequacy?
Or was it a hint of skepticism, wondering
if, in fact, it was I who was overcompensating

as he gazed upon my epic?

Fine Print
Jon Barrows

Bought a discount coupon for dry-cleaning—
took my zero-degree down sleeping bag
I’ve had since high school
to be baptized in the eco-conscious river,
cleansed of past sins,
but it turns out,
this staple of outdoor cathedrals,
this companion through snowed in weekends
in White Mountain cabins,
this colleague who kept me company
through Winter’s solstice on Rye Beach,
and who warmed me
after I dipped my nakedness
into the salty source of all,
this stalwart compatriot and lover
of all that is wild,
according to the fine print,
is a household item,
exempted from discounts.

I’ve never discounted your value, friend;
let us continue to live together in sin.

Jon Barrows is a Maine native who was transplanted to Washington, D.C. in 2006. He’s actively involved in the D.C. poetry community, hosting “Small is Beautiful,” a neighborhood writing group. He has also organized events and workshops around National Poetry Writing Month with Bloombars, a community art space. His work has appeared on poetryforlivingwaters.org and in the “Poetry of Yoga” anthology, StepAway Magazine, and is forthcoming in Written River.


Triumphant Conquest
Jane Attanucci

At thirteen months,
the day after his first
two steps alone,
Jake spotted another child’s
castle of wooden blocks
on the purple rug
in his big brother’s
first-grade classroom.
Letting go of my hand,
Jake took five steps, six,
reached the coveted construction
and snatched the triangle
perched atop the tower.
Neither one toppled.

Jane Attanucci spent her first career as a professor of psychology and women's studies. Since then, she's studied poetry with David Semanki at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Her work has appeared in Blast Furnace, Poetry Quarterly, Third Wednesday, Boston Literary Magazine and TRIVIA: Feminist Voices. She lives in Cambridge, Ma with her husband and close to her three grandchildren.




My Catholic Friend
Ziggy Edwards

I could blow your husband on nights you're too tired
or the baby's teething. Maybe we could start
meeting for Guinness pints and Marlboro Lights
at that same dive bar, across from the law firm.
If I could face you and hold your hand, and make
a joke like that instead of reading sex drive
issues on your blog, maybe you'd laugh and say,
"Can't hurt!" Understand without asking why I'm
not attracted to Gary: I've been divorced
since last time you saw me, too damaged for the
fuck-ups I normally like. After we stand
and hug, you'll take the interstate to a house
with the porch-light on; I'll hit another bar,
then feel across a dark room to check email
three times. If I called now you'd send your best,
give silent thanks for your life. I wish that helped.

The Youngest
Ziggy Edwards

My mother the seer told me
not to cry when we cut my yellow dress.
"No more children to wear it." She tied the strips
around tomato stakes.

My job was to pinch off suckers' albino gropings
before leaves warped to fused triplets
shaped like scorched continents,
or the crowded club of Tommy's fingers.

Mercy killing in the ghost town:
rats knobbed meatless with tumors,
eyes buried in quivering dunes.
We brought down dogs with slingshots.
I learned to laugh, then not to laugh.

Before the quake she wheeled up gasping,
grabbed my wrist—"Wake the others."
We sprinted after the moonlit imprint
of her white nightgown.

She stroked its babyhead lumps, left it
on the vine. Held out her arms.
"I take that back," she said.
"You cry if you need."

Ziggy Edwards lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications including Confluence, Paper Street, Nexus, Main Street Rag, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Ship of Fools. Ziggy's first chapbook, Hope's White Shoes, was published in 2006. She and her son recently launched an online literary magazine, Uppagus.




The Poetry Reader
Danny Earl Simmons

He spent another supper
at the library in the overstuffed
leather no one sits in, quietly
staring over his red wheelbarrow
at the autumn-haired librarian
who thought she was nobody.
But he imagined her in a red dress
going not gentle into the night,
and that made all the difference.

Danny Earl Simmons is an Oregonian and a proud graduate of Corvallis High School. He is a friend of the Linn-Benton Community College Poetry Club and an active member of Albany Civic Theater. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals such as Naugatuck River Review, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, Grey Sparrow, and Verse Wisconsin.





I see you at a safe distance.
Your bra is dark.
Through white cotton
your breasts are a perfect
handful. You’re one
of many attractive women
in town this summer day.

I have money
in my wallet for a while.
After buying Stiff Little Fingers CDs,
I buy a book:
“Postmodern American Poetry.”

Why drink alone?
And I’d NEED to be manic
to read my tome in Wetherspoon’s.
So I return on the 77
and study. After twelve poems
I understand none. It’s crap.

My “Bestie” awaits on Facebook.
She understands me,
putting up with my going paranoid
and deleting her; frequently.
I load her with poems.
She says she loves them.
Occasionally she’s diplomatic
and unsure.

We laugh. She says I’m on form tonight.
Later I threaten to stop meds; again.
I have to promise no. I’ve enjoyed
being high today, but the chemical jacket
must be worn. So I’m calmed.

Michael Holme is a forty something year old widower who lives with his dog, Lucy. He's been writing creatively for thirteen years and since finding Duotrope two years ago he has been getting published. His work appears in BlueStem Magazine and Time of Singing, amongst others. It is also forthcoming in Kestrel. Michael has a science background with a BSc in chemistry and an MSc in computing. When he's not writing he plays the piano. He once owned a red 1965 MG Midget and loved it.


Longing to Rise
Lois Elaine Heckman

There is
something
about a bird in flight,
winging wind
into breathing turbulence,
that kindles cravings
for unmapped horizons.
I watch and wish
life were so easy
we could bend knees
and push off from pain;
but we must
cling to branches,
digging nails in the bark
to lift ourselves
from the mud.
I watch and wish
life were so easy
we could plunge-dive oceans
to retrieve sustenance,
then fly away with
the hollowness filled;
but we sink, waiting
for waves to pass,
then emerge behind them,
licking away the salt
that streaks our faces.
I watch and wish
life were so easy
we could synchronize purpose
like the rhythms of the flock
beating towards common goals;
but there are eagles
and there are sparrows,
the unexpected,
the incomprehensible,
and betrayal for survival.
I hear the hunter shoot.
I watch
and wish.

Lois Elaine Heckman is from Los Angeles, where she received a degree in Italian from UCLA. She now lives in Milan, Italy. Her works have been in previous issues of Boston Literary Magazine and appear in Tilt-a-Whirl, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, The Sonnet Scroll, Persimmon Tree and Prole, among others. She won the last New England Shakespeare Festival Rubber Ducky Sonnet Contest, and has placed in various international competitions, including Poetry on the Lake in 2012 and 2013, and the Hungry Hill Poetry Prize in 2012. Her chapbook, “Out of Nowhere” (White Violet Press), was published in 2013.





I am in this world now,
dominated by shades of brown
colors and smells,
with so many people
with umber skin that blends
into this dark, warm earth.

Little I can do to affect
this world’s continuum flow,
but much it does to affect me,
as I become insignificant at once,
and uniquely relevant all the same
within blue eyes reflecting
tawny shades of sepia.

Here, color is celebrated
as in every red and yellow bangle
snug tightly on a bride’s slickened wrist, or,

here, colors can also violate samsara,
as in the unwashed mint green leaf drink
I regrettably sipped
by the turquoise blue pool.

So upon returning
to my now strangely colored world—
where little is in the harmony of earth,
I realized too late
the balanced world
I just left and suffer
for violating Hyderabad’s natural colors—
because of me now,
my local Wal-Mart
has run out of toilet paper.

Mike Ambrose is an engineering executive at a New England aerospace company with degrees from the University of New Haven and MIT. He started publishing his work in 2010 and really enjoys the balance that writing provides in a life that is very exact. In the short time that he has been writing, his work has been published in over a dozen publications including Lucid Rhythms, Corner Club Press, joyful!, Literary Brushstrokes, Decades Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal among other publications.




Horse Fly
Brad Rose

Black gasoline-in-water iridescence,
five thousand emerald eyes,

when I try to swat him,
he bolts and parries,

avoids my slo-mo ambition,
my pathetic, molasses motion.

Nimbly dodging my feeble newspaper smack,
he eyes me, now, from across the room,

whinnies.

Brad Rose was born and raised in southern California, and lives in Boston. Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in: Boston Literary Magazine; The Baltimore Review; Off the Coast; Third Wednesday; The Potomac; San Pedro River Review; Santa Fe Literary Review; Barely South Review; Right Hand Pointing; Sleetmagazine; Boston Literary Magazine; Monkeybicycle; Camroc Press Review; Short, Fast and Deadly; and other publications. Links to his poetry and fiction can be found at: bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com. His chapbook of miniature fiction, “Coyotes Circle the Party Store,” can be read at: sites.google.com/site/bradroserhpchapbook. Audio recordings of a selection of Brad’s published poetry can be heard here: soundcloud.com/bradrose1.




Almost Perfect
Richard Schnap

You always wore the same kind of ties
With different colored stripes sloping diagonally

In precise symmetry, the way you kept your books
Catalogued and ordered by subject and author,

The way you ran your house, knowing each crevice,
Each corner, the way an antique table would fit

Exactly where you knew it would. It enhanced your gift
To sense when something wasn’t right

When a spot on an x-ray revealed a tumor;
Or when a picture on a wall was tilted half an inch

Or when your son asked if you loved him
And you didn’t really know what to say.

Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.


Okra
Eric Otto

On the canvas,
a blur of green and yellow
under light blue and three Ms
shaped as birds:

My four okra plants posing
before I harvested
their fruits—
all of which resisted
when I cut into them.

Through the plastic handle
of the serrated knife, vibrations—
the same as when I sawed
down the branch that blocked
your view of the lake.

You put my painting
on your wall. You chewed
with me
and chewed.

Eric Otto is an associate professor of environmental humanities at Florida Gulf Coast University. His academic work includes the book Green Speculations: Science Fiction and Transformative Environmentalism (The Ohio State University Press). His creative work is forthcoming in Word Riot, The Orange Room Review, Prune Juice, Star*Line, and Scifaikuest.




Molting Season
Craig W. Steele

Chill breeze
ruffles new flocks
of tarnished, crunchy leaves,
caresses bark-boned skeletons
of trees.

Craig W. Steele resides in the countryside of northwestern Pennsylvania, not far from Lake Erie. He’s a professor of biology at Edinboro University. Besides Boston Literary Magazine, his poetry has appeared most recently in Mused: the BellaOnline Literary Review, Eucalypt, red lights, Halcyon and elsewhere, and is forthcoming in Stone Path Review, Ottawa Arts Review, The Lyric, Frogpond, Popular Astronomy and other places.





My father taught lessons
on right and wrong
with a belt. He hit me
in the face just once
when I backtalked Mom.
As I lay on the floor,
defiant, he stabbed
a finger in the air.
You will respect
your mother!


Most lessons
didn’t need words.
When my sisters and I
were caught sneaking
Kool’s from his pack,
he sat us on hard-backed
chairs to chain-smoke
through tears
till the floor
was stained with hate.

Each time
we stubbed one out,
he’d light another, force it
in our mouths. We didn’t know
that this was love,
but none of us
ever smoked again.

Bill Glose is the author of the poetry collections The Human Touch (San Francisco Bay Press, 2007) and Half a Man (forthcoming from FutureCycle Press, fall 2013). In 2011, he was named the Daily Press Poet Laureate. His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Narrative Magazine, Chiron Review, and Poet Lore.




Bob Brussack

The night nurse makes her rounds
With the gentle tread of a librarian
Among closed stacks of half-forgotten volumes
So fragile they might crumble at a touch.
Mrs. Lovell in Room 214,
Who was Angie once,
Glides in sleep
Across the ice of Oldham’s Pond,
Her alabaster skates agleam
In the February sun of her eighth year.
Her bed will be available in the morning.

Bob Brussack retired in 2007 after a career teaching law at the University of Georgia in Athens. Aralee Strange, who died this summer, rekindled his interest in creative writing a few years back, convincing him to read at her monthly open mic, "Word of Mouth," at the Globe, an Athens pub.




Nine Lines
Andrea Fischer

Delicate caterpillars
of coke
a shiny night
tossing off its dress
at the break of dawn
we are still dancing
transforming
huddled on the back porch
determined
to collide with the sun.

Andrea Fischer lives in Pacifica, CA. Her writing has appeared in Eunoia Review, Granta.com, and other publications.






Minimally Invasive
Oleh Lysiak

My diminutive MD, PhD surgeon,
a woman with a white mask on
wields a stainless scalpel in
blinding operating room lights,
administers a minimally invasive
inch-long incision in high tech
spinal surgery. I didn’t understand
how she reached the operating
table without standing on a box,
about to ask her when my wife
suggested I shut the fuck up.

Lawns and Mowers
Oleh Lysiak

No more tequila, hashish,
coke or acid we once did
to excess. Now we’re into
lawns, mowers, gardens,
wives, kids, grandkids,
dogs, classic cars, rare
maladies, exotic legal
pharmaceuticals, dawn
beach walks, thankful,
closer to eternal enigmas
about what lies beyond.
This old folks boogie
surely ain’t for sissies.

Oleh Lysiak is author of Art, Crime & Lithium, Barely Inside The Lines, Filet & Release, The Chromium Kid In The American Zoo, Scars In Progress, Geezer Rumba.




Night Ride
Steve Klepetar

I’m not feeling it right now, getting nothing off
your pale face; not the magic ache of moon
nor the sacred place where fairies come to dance.

Please don’t think this is your fault. I got lost
again last night when they brought the car around.
I suppose I’m expected to describe it now,

make and model, any scratches on the doors, but
you know me, how little I notice things like that.
It may have been an Oldsmobile if they still make

those or maybe a Japanese sedan? It was green,
I think, and there was trash in the back seat,
Styrofoam boxes, maybe, and a few pop cans.

It smelled like fries and beer, and you know how
I hate eating in a car. There may have been a moon
or was it only reflected and glittering rain? I seem

to remember wipers flapping or that might have
been wind. The radio was playing, or was that me
trying to remember the words to some song you

never liked, the way I do sometimes, trapped
by the magic of inane and haunting tunes.
They made room for me, I’m sure of that, brushed

all the back seat detritus to one side. Was I handcuffed
to the door or was that some other shadow floating
through night against the headlights of oncoming cars?

Hard to say when they kept repeating my name
until the sounds surrendered all meaning and the bridge
appeared, necklace of diamond lights above the surging bay.

Steve Klepetar teaches Literature and Writing at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota. His work has appeared widely and has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. In 2012 Flutter Press published two chapbook: My Father Teaches Me a Magic Word and My Father Had Another Eye. His latest chapbook, Blue Season, a collaboration with Joseph Lisowski, will appear this summer from mgv2.







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