Mixing the Soundtrack - Carol Hamilton
Blind Ambition - Richard Schnap
Have a Heart - Ashley Hutson
Sometimes - Ed Severson
Tomboy - Ed Severson
Moving with Dad - Lynn Marie Houston
When I Try to Reach You - Diana Cole
Sudden Loss - Rick Blum
The Living Room - Carla Kaufman
Betrayals - Jennifer L. Freed
Philosophy 183a: Existence - Jennifer L. Freed
929 Brookridge - Marne Grinolds Wilson
Roller Skates - Barbara Brooks
Hopscotch - Barbara Brooks
The Goodbye Hug - Danny Earl Simmons
Crying for Three Straight Hours - Danny Earl Simmons
Search Party - Trina Gaynon
Apologia for the many dog poems - Trina Gaynon
Autumn's Connotation - Joan Mazza
The Fort - Carol Alexander
Condolence - Peggy Trojan
Bound - Tom Lyons
Kinzua Bridge State Park, 2003
When I called you from the viaduct,
without a single soul in sight,
no other cars in the slushy lot,
no visitorís center open for spring,
no rangers or workmen or anyone,
just me, the squirrels, and a sheen of mud,
how amazed I was to have service here,
300 feet up this abandoned trestle,
the trickling middle of nowhere below—
when I said youíd never guess what Iíd just done,
you, sister of brothers, mother of sons, said
You peed off that fucking bridge, didnít you?
Three months later a big wind came through
and left a twisted and tangled heap.
Some say phantom trains collided,
and the wailing of the ghosts of ghosts
skipped for miles in the boreal night,
as far as Cyclone and Shinglehouse.
Michael Albright has published poems in various journals, including Tar River Poetry, A Narrow Fellow, Pembroke Magazine, Cider Press Review, Revolver, Moon City Review, Blast Furnace, Uppagus, Boston Literary Magazine, and others. He lives on a windy hilltop near Greensburg, PA. with his wife Lori and an ever-changing array of children and other animals.
Mixing the Soundtrack
She has no extended family
so can make up the guest list
to suit the occasion, set a date
with the honoree and invite those
who can come that day, instant relatives.
Emotions can still be fraught,
nor does everyone come,
even so, without baggage.
We are on this long journey,
travelers tossed together
on a package tour.
This morning the leaves
on my huge elm are swept
eastward by great gusts,
and I wonder how they like
epidermis to epidermis,
no choice of neighbor.
There is only one way
to make it work: push on,
pretend the surround-sound
is a love song, and ignore
static, scratchy needles,
knowing even digital or better
still produces no perfect harmony.
Our finest tuning requires a lot
of shutting out, ignoring much
to hear and dance with abandon.
Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in LOUISIANA REVIEW, BLUE UNICORN, CAVEAT LECTOR, ATLANTA REVIEW, NEW DELTA REVIEW, LASCAUX REVIEW, NARROW FELLOW, BLUESTEM, SOW'S EAR POETRY, TAR RIVER REVIEW, FLINT HILLS REVIEW, MAIN STREET RAG, GREY SPARROW JOURNAL, TRIBECA POETRY REVIEW, THE AUROREAN, SAN PEDRO RIVER REVIEW, LISTENING EYE and others. She has published 16 books: children's novels, legends and poetry, most recently, MASTER OF THEATER: PETER THE GREAT and LEXICOGRAPHY. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and has been nominated five times for a Pushcart Prize.
He boasted that he planned
To be a star by thirty five
With a string of gold records
As he dragged his band to New York
Where a producer with a label
Would release anyone for a price
And when the album came out
I went into a music store
And asked them if they had it
Where I found it in a corner
With a hundred others like it
Selling for a dime
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.
Have a Heart
Have a heart—
Packed with the savory stuffing
Of all thatís gone before
Fresh as yesterday's strawberries
Edible as most other organs
And yes, a delicacy.
Come, one and all, and sample
The sour times it endured
The sweet nothings sunk into the valves
The bitter glaze settling over it now.
No, it is not one of the sweet meats.
But perhaps it can be candied,
Quite hard, quite brittle—
Watch your teeth!
It will take some careful handling.
But I assure you:
It is delicious
It is ripe for the picking
It is fit for a feast.
So eat up, eat up.
I can't hold this plate forever.
So maybe it's a little rare.
Maybe it's a little dry.
But just a little!
You'll have a taste?
Of course you should chew slowly.
The heart is the most
Of any dish.
Ashley Hutson has fiction and poetry published or forthcoming in Hedge Apple Magazine, The Lascaux Review, Page and Spine, and Red River Review. She lives in Sharpsburg, MD.
I could use a change,
in flashing neon,
volume turned way up,
windows wide open,
the old lady upstairs shrieking,
"God's sake, keep it down!"
Who hears her?
nearly busting bed springs,
closing on warp speed—
when her poodle jumps on my back
to see what's going on.
So I'm reaching behind me,
trying to pull the dog off.
It likes this game.
She starts laughing,
I'm pissed. THIS close.
We switch to Plan B,
ending up in the buff,
finishing the spaghetti in the fridge,
splitting half a bottle of cheap Merlot.
In the outfield, she'd sense
The ball flying out of the sun,
Cup it in her glove,
And arc it to second base.
Students ate their lunch in the gym's bleachers,
She shot baskets out on the floor
And slipped through the boys like an otter,
Rattling them with easy lay-ups.
She'd dribble the ball past where I sat,
Radiating her soap-and-gym scent
Unaware that she had left
My life in chaos.
Ed Severson served four years in the U.S. Navy, earned a degree in English from the University of Arizona and spent twenty years as a reporter and columnist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. In retirement, he has written many poems and published many poems and has published a few in obscure magazine.
Moving with Dad
Lynn Marie Houston
Bald like Vietnam, like palm trees after Agent Orange
tumbles from a plane, platoon-mates called him ďbullet.Ē
I learn his nickname in the Uhaul driving through Cheyenne.
Forty hours later weíd reach New York with all my boxes
and the two old Army duffle bags I used to pack my sweaters.
Another move and Dad is there to help, but he drives less
this time, tires easily. We stop for gas and coffee
at a Mobile station. Under electric tubes and swarms of moths,
I see the scars on fatherís head from where the surgeon
cut the cancer out. Or most of it.
Lynn Marie Houstonís essays and poems have appeared in South Atlantic Quarterly, Prick of the Spindle, 3Elements Review, Extract(s), Postmodern Culture, andProteus, among others. She resides in her hometown of Newburgh, New York. When she isnít teaching English at Orange County Community College, she tends her honeybees and kayaks the Delaware River.
When I Try to Reach You
someone tells me they are at your funeral.
I find out this way.
Sitting by our window at the Diesel Cafe
open to the noise of traffic
I order espresso straight.
Every two weeks our tacit pact
to meet here, no longer
tangled in a loverís quandary.
I drink undiluted silence.
Last time you explained
how the Buddha is here always
seeming at times to live
at times to die.
Are you here now reading
soccer scores, laughing
under your Manchester United cap?
Are you wearing the blue shirt I gave you?
Tell me that your novel is going
fine, like all the others, unfinished.
I want to tell you Iím tired
of fussing over these last lines
how I hate to end
this poem before itís finished,
but you donít look up
Diana Cole's poems have appeared in numerous journals including Ibbetson Street, Off the Coast, The Christian Century, The Cider Press Review, Slipstream, Poetry East, Spillway and Tar River Review. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012. In her career as a singer she translated many poems for recitals, and her own poem, Though I Walk, set to music by Thomas Stumpf, was selected for performance in New York City.
I thought of him as an old friend, though we first
got together barely a decade ago; a quick mind for
figures, always ready to explore new vistas,
our near daily connections were invigorating,
illuminating, joyful. But he'd slowed the last few
years as if starting up each day was an unbearable
burden; long pauses to simple queries became
common, trying my patience—our friendship.
Then one day his memory up and vanished—
not slow erosion from a steady tide, but sudden
loss like a superstorm gobbling up whole beaches
overnight. With it went many pleasures
we'd shared: collecting a trove of trivia to support
simple truths, connecting through chess challenges,
I'd conjure. The doctor said at his age there was
no recovering from a lifetime of experiences
irretrievably dissolving into nothingness;
he said to move on, as if longtime friendships are
interchangeable—just ordinary chips in a game of
poker. But I grieve instead, stare at today's
paper's stale news yearning to reconnect with my
old pal, itching for our back-and-forth routine,
unwilling—unable—to move on.
Maybe tomorrow, or the next day, I'll start the
painful search for a new old friend; like Donald
Trump trolling for fresh arm candy, I'll look
for a friskier, sleeker model, one that can get my
aging juices flowing again. And when that day
comes, as I know it must, I will finally be ready
to say, with just a touch of nostalgia:
Goodbye, Dell, my old friend;
Rick Blum has been writing humorous prose and poetry for more than 25 years during stints as a nightclub owner, high-tech manager, market research mogul and, most recently, alter kaker. His poems have appeared in Humor Times, Breath and Shadow, and Muddy River Poetry Review among others. He was recently named winner of the 2014 Carlisle Poetry Contest. Currently, he is holed up in his office in Massachusetts trying to pen the perfect bio, which he plans to share as soon as he stops laughing at the sheer futility of this effort.
The Living Room
I always thought Grandpa died in the living room,
but when I said that to my mom, she said that really wasnít true.
It wasnít until I took care of my dad on the couch
in the living room, that I knew what had happened:
he started dying in the living room.
Like the others before and after him,
lying sick, on that god damned couch.
The couch where they started breathing heavy,
where they stopped eating, and started shitting and peeing,
the couch where they started having trouble swallowing.
The living room where I, like Grandma became
a nurse on call, shifting, propping pillows,
mashing up food, trying to get them to swallow,
drink, and make sure they take their pills.
The house where she went into another room
to cry, because the images of protruding stomachs
and yellow skin, snot, piss, and diarrhea were too much.
A husband, a father-in-law and a brother-in-law—
son would have been too much.
They are gone, but we still have the living room
where there is no room for living,
the nursing home where Grandma lived, couch-free,
and that same sagging couch, I keep empty.
Carla has been published in Julien's Journal, The Voices Project, The Paterson Literary Review (forthcoming)and Loras College magazines, Alpha and Outlet. Carla received dual Bachelor's degrees in English: Creative Writing and Literature. She completed all credits for her Masterís at UNI and currently resides in Dubuque, Iowa, where she is working on a poetry book.
Jennifer L. Freed
In your 60s you were on the roof
of the screened-in-porch in Maine, dabbing black
on each white splatter where the house paint had dripped.
In your 70s you still went to the rocky shore
in bathing cap and skirted swimsuit, said
the frigid water made you feel
alive. You dug for clams, picked
raspberries, planted tomatoes.
You knew how to make a filling
soup with chicken
bones and no
money, how to sew
last yearís summer dress to make it fit
this seasonís style.
Your eyes were always quick,
and bright and sharp, even when
you were in your 80s, and
even when you said you never were a
spy, said, ďThey might be listening,Ē said
I was helping Them—you knew
about the radio transmitters hidden in my
That was when you said
you didnít trust a single one of us, said we had all
they were the sharpest of all,
your quick, bright eyes.
Philosophy 183a: Existence
for Professor Maurice Natanson
Jennifer L. Freed
We walked the shadowed halls to the shaded room
with the ancient desks, and tried to follow
as you paced and spoke, and paced and paused, and
slashed emphatic lines across the board.
You wore a long white beard, like a Chassid, or
a wizard. You urged us toward
You asked, ďWhat does it mean
to be busy, or bored? What does it mean to be
You asked, ďIf I am running for a bus, is there an I, or
is there only
consciousness of running?Ē And, ďIf
the I resides in consciousness, then what
shall we say of the absent
We pushed through Heidegger and Sartre. We
read in darkness. We furrowed our brows, and still
crawled on, alert to any sign of light. You lead us
toward an open sky, left us
at the threshold.
You said, ďThere are some things you have to do
alone. Like blowing your nose:
can help you hold the tissue, but you
have to do the blowing.Ē
Jennifer L Freed lives with her family in central Massachusetts. Her poetry appears of is forthcoming in The Atlanta Review, Poetry East, The Worcester Review, and other publications, and in her recent chapbook, These Hands Still Holding (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Please visit her website at jfreed.weebly.com.
Marne Grinolds Wilson
I came across it just at twilight,
the perfect house where you and I
could live a perfect life together.
I wanted to rush home
and write the story of that life,
make it true by acting as if
it had already come to pass,
but in truth I could not even imagine
where to begin
or how it could ever become real.
Instead I let the idea remain
vague and hazy in my subconscious,
and after all this time
I can barely remember it,
only the thought of a lamp in the window
and an easy chair and a cat.
Marne Grinolds Wilson lives in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Formerly an academic librarian, she now devotes herself full-time to writing. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as Atlanta Review, Poetry East, The South Carolina Review, and Naugatuck River Review.
I remember my skates,
simple really, compared to todayís.
A platform for your foot and 4 metal wheels.
A key to crimp the skate to the rubber sides
of your sneakers before you could take off.
We didnít have sidewalks so the road was our rink
or the concrete floor of the basement,
swing yourself around the black plumbing pipe.
Push—glide, push—glide if you could call
it that on the rough surface. I tried making a turn,
fell, took a chunk out of my knee, still have the scar.
The townís only rink was supposed to be integrated
but black children were not allowed.
Wanting equality for everyone, Dad enlisted us for a test.
My group: white kids, the other: black and white.
We paid our fee, got skates with wheels
and boots; rolled on to the smooth, wooden floors,
with loud music, flashing disco lights.
Canít remember if the other group got in,
Mom came and took us home.
Later, the roller rink was torn down
leaving an empty lot in its place.
Who taught me to use chalk to draw the pattern
on the pavement, how to use one foot in the single blocks,
two in the double and in the circle at the top?
I played while waiting for the bus,
picked out that lucky piece of gravel,
hopped from square to square,
missed the one with the marker,
no stepping on the lines.
Now I need to lean against something
just to put on my pants. I take a walking pole
on bird trips to balance on the rocky path,
and to help me get up that slick slope.
I donít try to hop the pattern
at the playground.
Barbara Brooks, author of ďThe Catbird SangĒ and ďA Shell to Return to the SeaĒ chapbooks. Her work has been accepted in Chagrin River Review, The Foundling Review, Blue Lake Review, Third Wednesday, Shadow Road Quarterly, Indigo Mosaic and on line at Southern Womenís Review, Poetry Quarterly among others.
The Goodbye Hug
Danny Earl Simmons
It was just a little goodbye hug
that didnít want to say goodbye.
So it braved becoming a quick peck
on the cheek before dragging its lip
into a very light nibble that slid
all the way down as a hungry nuzzle
in the tender crook of her neck. There
is where it turned mutual and sultry,
making its way through firmly pressed
and fully responsive bodies, hushed
moans, heavy breaths, and indiscreet
caresses at the outskirts of public propriety.
A few seconds later, it turned into a rush
of holding hands searching for the closest
private place to become hard wet kissing
and never really saying goodbye again.
Crying for Three Straight Hours
Danny Earl Simmons
Gives you one hell of a headache
and all different kinds of wet soak your shirt.
The sounds you make move across the mournful spectrum
from wails and moans to curses and howls.
You sit up, lie down, hunch, go completely fetal,
even try kneeling.
It starts shortly after twilight turns deep-cave black,
when youíd normally be surrounded by people
youíd always assumed would always surround you.
At somewhere between knife-to-your-wrist and gun-to-your-head,
when your throat is so sore it sounds like rug burn,
you stand, turn off the over-and-over-again of that one song,
stagger into the bathroom, splash water onto your puffy red face
and look forward.
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 poems have appeared in a variety of journals such as The Pedestal Magazine, Prism Reviw, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, and Fifth Wednesday Journal.
Sheís left Birdie somewhere in the yard
again, the black spots on gray fuzz
camouflage the flightless bird body.
The dog seems unfazed by the loss.
Last time I found her baby nesting among
the Jacobís Ladder blossoms.
Worried that he might meet the same fate
as the hedgehog at the mercy of the lawn mower—
at intervals, without my glasses,
I pace the grass, search shade-mottled flower beds.
I wonder if the wound-up song birds
on the telephone pole have spotted him.
I wish he could squeak without being stepped on.
Apologia for the many dog poems
I owe the cat a poem
for the hours she warmed
my belly as we napped.
Trina Gaynon garnered her advanced education at the now defunct program of Library Sciences at University of California, Berkeley. Her most treasured memory from that experience was an internship at the Bodleian Library at Oxford. Several years later, she went on to the Creative Writing Program at University of San Francisco. A chapbook she began to work on there resulted in a visit to India over the winter break of 2000. In spite of all the general hand-wringing, there were no computer malfunctions to keep her from coming home.
Itís not because Iím past sixty I love this season,
the drying out, decay, decline. Not the whiff
of chill that starts the dying. Not because summer
was so hot I love anticipating winter when everythingís
stripped bare, trees naked like crooked armatures,
each branch outlined clear against blue sky.
Itís not my wrinkled, thinning skin that makes me
love these metaphors of senescence. Not the constancy
of sciatica, lumbago, or one eyelidís chronic tic
as I observe the worldís decomposition.
No, itís this time of drawing inward, staying home
with pets, inside. Beneath the greens and browns
are red and gold, the swishing whispers of leaves
against our ankles. Return of firelight remembered,
flames visible through cloudy mica windows
of a Ben Franklin pot-bellied stove, old bungalow
at summerís end when I was ten. Before school,
after two months of reading, writing, fishing—
far from father, alone with Mother.
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art. www.joanmazza.com
We liked war games, even then.
The trench by the oak smelled sweet
before the soil was fouled by runoff from the factory.
We tasted dirt and it was black like ripened figs.
We rubbed it on our brows and it was cool
like the solid sky in reckless rills of blue.
We handpicked our atrocities; being the girl,
mine were the worst. Boy's jackets carried me
to the mouth of the fort, and I was invalided out of the game.
Oh, no fair. There isn't much a corpse can do
but lick the earth from between a finger and a thumb.
One of the boys was whipped, usually of a Friday night.
His military father, a teak and khaki ghost,
did his rounds and soldiered on with his belt.
We wanted to kill him, but something else took care of that.
I learned the error of spite, the cold correction of the grave.
I longed to stand sentry, to commandeer the fort:
far better than lying in the improvised morgue.
Until the summer rains began, locusts buzzed and sawed.
The knocking of a woodpecker at the gate, salivary rune of slugs,
keloid scars on the legs of the boy, first love, betrayer,
marked all the pause for pity I could take, waiting for another life.
Carol Alexander's poems have appeared in such journals as Bluestem, Canary, The Common, Chiron Review, Illya's Honey, Mobius, Poetry Quarterly, Red River Review, The San Pedro River Review, and Sugar Mule as well as in various anthologies. Alexander's first chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, was published by Flutter Press (2013). Forthcoming work is scheduled to appear in Caesura (Poetry Center San Jose) and in The Mad Hatter's Review (2014).
In the fifth grade
Ken's dad died
putting a new foundation
under their milk house
when the jack slipped
and the building collapsed
When Ken came back
to school none of us
or asked how he was
and none of us knew
we could have
put our skinny little arms
Peggy Trojan retired from teaching English to the north woods of Wisconsin. She submitted her first poem for publication at the age of seventy seven, and has been enjoying seeing her work in print ever since. A member of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, she has been published in a wide variety of journals and anthologies: Naugatuck River Review, Echoes, Talking Stick, Wisconsin People and Ideas, Verse Wisconsin, Finnish American Reporter, Goose River Anthology, Thunderbird Review and to her delight, many others.
This is all so familiar.
I know these rooms.
I have been here before, many times.
Oh look. There is my favorite chair.
I must have lived here.
When was that?
And where do I live now?
I hear a voice in the next room.
Itís the kitchen.
A woman is putting a phone down.
I know her.
Is it? Yes, itís Mary.
Mary, my love, my wife.
I must still live here.
Mary, itís me. Iím home.
Mary Iím talking to you.
Why wonít you look up at me?
I float to her and touch her shoulder.
How can I float?
Mary shudders. She turns around.
I smile but she just looked past me, through me.
Mary? Mary, say something?
She crosses her arms and hugs herself tightly,
Walking right through me to the window.
I donít understand.
As I near her, I see tears in her eyes.
She whispers my name.
She moves to the next room.
I follow, calling after her.
At the mantle she reaches for a picture of me.
She stares at the photo.
I stare at the mantle.
At the sympathy cards.