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Keith Tornheim

Itís all right to be outspoken,
even with a tinge of anger,
when death sits on your doorstep
and watches you go in and out
and you donít know if you have months or years,
if the radiation has worked,
or the chemo,
or if the cancer is still burrowing in or out
and you lost your hair for nothing,
and you watch for fear or pity in the eyes
and wonder what that flatness in a doctorís voice might mean.
But you have to hope,
and you can still be angry.

Keith Tornheim, a biochemistry professor at Boston University School of Medicine, has been published in Ibbetson Street, Spare Change News, Lyrical Somerville (The Somerville News), and Poetica. His poems have been a part of High Holiday and other services of his congregation (see www.shirhadash-ma.org/poetry.html).

Wild Swimming
Myra King

For my brave friend, Sid James, who triumphs over quadriplegia. And my crazy pledge to him to swim all winter!

Eye to eye with a cormorant
in this iced water
temperature in single figures
feels like freezing
body in varying degrees of numb
but for me only temporary

this morning, my wheelchair hero's email
one by one, the letters jabbed in jest
mad woman!
his sense of humor
still moving me to laughter
as I swim
I carry him
in my thoughts
and my struggle, sans wet-suit in winter
becomes nothing harder than mind

my arms raise, hands dip and lift
the tear drop bubbles
from my finger tips
its moments of standing still
like this
the water surface and beyond
crystalline clear
today, I and he will make it to the shore
of this salt sea lake
wild swimming.

Myra King has survived flood, fire, multiple children, major operations, rape, husbands, psychopaths, and a snake in the shower (particularly nasty) so feels qualified to write about 'Life' in fiction. Her short stories and poems, some of which have won awards, nominations and commendations, have been published in New Zealand, USA, Australia, UK and Ireland. Most recently in San Pedro River Review, Red River Review, Short Story America (Vol II) and The Bohemyth.

My Hands Are Full
Robert Nordstrom

My hands are full:
28 years of Ohio, 1 Viet Nam,
2 Florida, 1 Paris, 33 Wisconsin,
1 wife, 2 kids, 3 houses, 7 jobs,
3 cats, 4 dogs, 8 cars—
Iíve arrived, finally, here, in a park,
counting 18 geese, 39 goslings, 8 fishermen
while balancing coffee, donut, lottery ticket
in a slant of early May sunlight.

I will not wait till the end to tell you
that I scratch my ticket and am a $20 winner.
This poem is not about fortune;
it is about arrival, here, a place
never imagined but always known,
where I sip coffee, bite a donut, scratch a ticket,

resisting that tug to tally
whatís won,
whatís lost.

Robert Nordstrom is a poet, freelance writer and school bus driver living in Mukwonago, Wisconsin. A member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, he has published poetry in numerous literary magazines. Recent publications include Verse Wisconsin, Rosebud, Echoes, Peninsula Pulse, Miller's Pond, Pif Magazine, Stoneboat, Main Street Rag and Poetry Quarterly.

Your Cat
Larry D. Thomas

for Steve

curls in your lap
and warms you,
purring. I think
of your skeptical friend,
who, ignorant of cats

and other prophets
of acclamation,
questions her and your
sincerity. All I know
and care to know

is that she takes your grief,
sponges it into the hues
of her fur, and, in her purring,
makes it almost
something you can bear.

Larry D. Thomas, a member of the Texas Institute of Letters, was the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate. His New and Selected Poems (TCU Press, 2008) was a semi-finalist for the National Book Award, and he has published several other critically acclaimed collections of poetry. He has two chapbooks forthcoming in 2014: The Goatherd (Mouthfeel Press, El Paso) and Art Museums (Blue Horse Press, Los Angeles).

Richard Schnap

She told me of her dream
Of undressing at the shore
To walk naked into the water
Leaving the world behind

As she sat on the sidewalk
In her yellow thrift store coat
Begging passing strangers
To put her in their prayers

I havenít seen her since
That grey November day
When the fallen leaves seemed caught
In the grip of a heartless wind

And every time I see
A yellow thrift store coat
I wonder if itís hers
As I say a silent prayer

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.

Jon Bishop

During summer evenings,
when the air is cool and the
sky is navy blue and the
insects are buzzing about,
I like to get into my car
and drive through the
neighborhoods, looking
at the houses.

In the right light
they look like they
have faces and
so I wonder:
do they speak to each other?

What do they say?
Do they share secrets?

For instance: will the blue split-level
turn to the grey colonial and say:

ďMy family is getting a divorce.Ē

ďOh, thatís too bad,Ē
says the colonial. ďI
have good news. My
old man, after spending
months in bed, decided to
get outside and sit and
listen to the sounds.Ē

This is what I consider
as I take a lonely drive
to nowhere. And, as I do,
I wonder what the houses

are saying about me.

Jon Bishop has been published in Boston Literary Magazine, Freight Train Magazine, Fewerthan500.com, and he has been anthologized in "Elf Love." He lives in Massachusetts.

Telling the future is simple
when one speaks to the past.
I send this missive to my
twenty-year-old self,
telling her nothing
is going to be easy,
taking her hands,
too soft for any
good purpose.

I know she will not listen.
See how she looks at me,
thinking I must be mad,
like the women on the bus
or street corners with
their baggy coats, smeared
lipstick, sharing their crazy
wisdom with whomever
will listen. She doesnít
see the resemblance,
as I lean in, predicting
what has already happened.

I tell her: You will
face everything you fear
and survive it.
You will make the same
mistakes for years, suffer
the same consequences,
a song you have sung
every day of your life
and still not quite learned.
You will grow older
if not wiser.

A penny-ante prophet,
I will advise her:
Pay attention!
Observe the moon
in all of its phases.
Learn the names of trees.
Eat the ripest fruit.

Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012). Currently, she is editing an anthology of poetry inspired by public media, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!, to be published by Ninetoes Press. Her collection of poetry, A Likely Story, will be released by Moon Tide Press this coming summer.

The Stars are Tiny
Danny Earl Simmons

as the overlooked grain of rice
left on the burner to smoke
beneath the half-full copper kettle;

as the gnat caught on the wing
and slapped between palms
a thousand-times harder than necessary;

as the dry red spots
along my collar that beg me
to just go double-bladed;

as the thinning of her smile
between that day and now—
a reduction that resembles

the just-this-much-more-slowly
I walk from my truck to our house
in the twilight of each long day.

Here Comes the Sun
Danny Earl Simmons

Margaret, do you know
who this is on the radio?

Thatís the Beatles, Daddy.

Very good! You know what, Margaret?
As long as you have music in your life,
youíll be happy.

Yep. And you know what else, Daddy?
You should never stare at the sun. If you do,
youíll go blind.

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 Stole Your Voice
Michael Allyn Wells

  You could say that I borrowed it
  if that made you feel any better.
  But keep in mind Iím not at all about
  how you feel.

† I liked your voice. Not just the sound
  but there was that. So vulnerable, a bit
  high pitched, almost a twang—
  but I could not make that mine, so I did

† the next best thing. I took your words.
  After all they are a part of your voice
  but now they are mine. I typed them
  onto index cards. Taped them

† on the bathroom mirror. Wrote them
  to my friends. Sang them in the shower
  (not quite in the right key). I pasted them
  onto sign polls and then I waited.

† No one cried out or pointed fingers.
  No one gave me grief—not even you,
  and so I sent them—the best you had
  to the New Yorker. They were not amused.

† I donít presume that you are either.
  But as if a subtext to their rejection
  they told me to tell you theyíd like
  to see more of your work.

I Listen to My Cereal
Michael Allyn Wells

  Each morning I listen to my cereal.
  Occasionally I hear something noteworthy.
  I generally take this advice with a bit of aspartame.

† I used to follow my horoscope and work it baby
  into my daily routine. Like Weightwatchers
  you get tired of all the calculating.

† Losing interest is something Iím good at.
  Iíve been carrying a hypodermic needle
  in my hip pocket for a while—

† I donít recall why. I quit my job.
  Maybe it just wasnít for me.
  People all had fake faces on. I didnít

† fit in. Much of the time
  my face was brimming with melancholy—
  authentically so.

† I donít think manners are ubiquitous.
  Nor do I think they should be.
  Nothing stops me in a conversation

† like sterile etiquette. I donít even like the word.
  It feels like a lace doily stuck on my tongue;
  all white and snow flakey.

Michael Allyn Wells is a Missouri poet who makes his home in a suburban Kansas City community with his wife, two dogs and a cat. He enjoys white wine, black coffee and music. When not reading or writing he cheers on the San Francisco Giants during baseball season. Off season he suffers from SAD. His work has appeared in numerous print and online venues including Rose and Thorn Journal, Rockhurst Annual Fine Arts Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Montucky Review, Punchnelís Magazine, Liquid Imagination and Apeiron Review He presently is working on a manuscript. You can follow him at michaelawells.com

Tuesday Morning
Brady Peterson

He passes my window this morning, tall and angular
with ebony skin and a silver beard, walking his dog.
Sometimes I meet him on the road and he raises his hand
to acknowledge my presence, heels the dog
with a soft command. I nod.

He strides like an old gunny, knowing where he is going, where
he has been, though he is only walking his dog down the road
and around the park next to the dam. Today, I watch him
from my window, and I wonder if we might have been friends
in a life forgotten, drinking coffee at a cafe on a Saturday
morning and talking about the weather or the football game,
or the moon.

Something that pulls me to admire him or maybe even love him,
maybe the gait of his step, the way the dog walks by his side
with its leash dragging the ground behind, the two of them
being enough.

Brady Peterson lives in Belton, Texas where he spent the last twenty five years building homes or teaching rhetoric. He has published poems in Windhover, New Texas, Heartlodge, Boston Literary Magazine, Nerve Cowboy, Texas Poetry Calendar, The San Antonio Express, The Enigmatist, and The Journal of Military Experience. He is also the author of Glued to the Earth and Between Stations.

Heather M. Browne

You, circling the pool on your trike, I lost count so many times,
watering red and yellow cannas.
A deep green muck of marsh long unattended.
I sprayed their thirsty roots as I heard the splash.
Turning, not seeing you, I dove in my pajamas
frantically searching, time rushing.
I found your wrist and pulled you free.

I checked. I felt no breath—no rise in chest
I couldnít lose you.
My mind racing—I pressed my mouth upon yours
breathing into you deep and long
seconds, minutes
I breathe for you. I breathed you.
Your chest rose, just a little.
Our breath passing between us, exchanging in and out
give and take—yours and mine
until you take your own
Both coughing, both crying, both breathing
I didnít lose you.
I hold you and all we do is breathe.
Each breath releasing my tears.
Each breath you take

separating me from you once more.

Heather M. Browne is a faith-based psychotherapist and recently emerged poet, published in Page & Spine, Poetry Quarterly, The Poetry Bus, Stray Branch, Deep Water Literary Journal, Penman Review, and mad swirl. Dual Coast has just requested to publish 5 pieces as a collection. She recently won first prize in the It Matters Christmas radio competition. She has been married 20 years to her love, has 2 amazing teens, and can be found frolicking in the waves.

He was dead
but I'm sure your bruises
weren't in mourning.
"Ashes to ashes," rambled the priest.
With gentle fingers, you consoled your jaw.

His clothes, his blooper tapes,
the DVD of "NFL Hardest Hits,"
boyhood pennant, the salt and pepper shakers
with the Patriots emblem,
all went in the trash.
You cleaned out the liquor cabinet.
You washed the puke stains from the sheets
and that was the last of him in the house.

Back home, your friends departed,
you burst into that song
about the Harper Valley PTA,
the one he so vehemently despised.

You cooked for yourself
a giant plate of pasta
and ate and ate until you could eat no more.

You fell asleep watching television.
How the movie ended
was of no concern to you.

The bed didn't feel empty.
Maybe like a body missing most of its liver.
Now what made you think of that?

By Nine
John Grey

Morning rush,
bus-fare rattling in pocket,
just make it to the stop
as the jitney pulls up ~

an asteroid has a billion to one chance
of hitting earth—
that doesn't give me pause—

nor does the composition
of the body
or the theory behind
the internal combustion engine—

I'm immersed
in the book I'm reading
and occasionally
the legs of the woman opposite

but not distant suns
gone nova
nor the wars
on the other side of the world—

yes I am of the planet,
the solar system,
the galaxy,
the universe—

but they don't have to be at work by nine
I do—

I have a boss who thinks he's God—

What If
John Grey

Despising crowds,
I followed the drink in my hand
out to the high-rise patio.
I turned to find a young woman
at my side.
Without names,
we watched the starry sky above,
the city lights below,
silently compared the two.

We spoke in whispers.
She gently took my arm.
And then a voice called out to her.
Reluctantly, she allowed a friend to reel her in,
back to the noise and smoke.

I stayed
but peering back as much as forward,
hoping for her return.
I hoped in vain.

I sometimes try to put together,
like a jigsaw puzzle,
all of the events that had to happen
for my wife and I to meet.
It involves airplanes, race-horses,
restlessness. Cocoa Beach, third shift,
a step-mother and the 700 Club.
I'm willing to wager
no other relationship on the planet
can claim, as its background,
this very combination.

Had that woman stayed another five minutes,
who knows?
My history might never have happened.
I could have been deliriously happy.
Or have fallen off a mountainside in 1985.

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in The Lyric, Vallum and the science fiction anthology, ďThe Kennedy CurseĒ with work upcoming in Bryant Literary Magazine, Natural Bridge, Southern California Review and the Pedestal.

Theric Jepson

Tomorrow will be longer than today,
he says as he pushes up a sweat-stained Clippers cap
to rub his brow. He opens his coatís only buttoning pocket
and pulls out half a cigarette, not lighting it, just enjoying
the feel of it between his lips.
They laugh as if he were mad, but heís not wrong.
Heís a fifty-fifty chance of being right any day of the year,
but today it seems particularly true. So as he hunches
deeper into his coat, burying his nose and unlit cigarette,
I pull out a dollar—which will only be worth less tomorrow—
and feel it between my fingers as I drop it into his lap.

Theric Jepson is the author of the novel Byuck. His poetry has appeared in Psaltery & Lyre, The Poet's Haven, and Epigraph Magazine. Find him online at thmazing.com.

Poaching with Pop
John Joshua

Nostrils flaring over my shoulder,
hot breath of expectation on my neck,
I cock my Christmas gift as dad
pans the spotlight across the killing field,
paralyzing a buck in the illicit beam.
Blood-shy as a Buddhist monk, I hesitate.
ďShoot, you pussy, shoot!Ē
he hisses in my blistered ear.

Just as cornered as my quarry,
I pull the trigger.
Neither one of us had a chance.

Liana, Stage IV
John Joshua

Reduced now
to a human husk,
she should have been

the astral crab
arcing anesthetized
across cryogenic skies

or a great white
cruising tumor free
through liquid jungles. . .

Another perfunctory round of radiation.
Supine, impaled by gamma rays
that only kill
the remnants of her spirit.

Exhausted, gaunt, nauseous.
The morphine drips
for her a dream of warm,
cerulean seas from which she will not wake.

John Joshua has a master's degree in English from Appalachian State University. He currently owns and operates a tutoring agency in Greensboro, North Carolina. His poetry has appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, Connecticut River Review, The Portland Review, and others. In his spare time he enjoys playing the drums, weightlifting, fishing, and hiking.

Mark Lee Webb

Nothing I knew about my bug-eyed goldfish
ever made Pamela Zalusky say I love you.
She introduced me to Thousand Island
dressing, garbanzo beans, and Black Sabbath.
Took me on a Saturday ski trip (she brought
Booneís Farm). We gulped right from the bottle—
in a hurry to find a buzz. Then she laid down
next to me in the snow and held my hand.
Drove me home from school in her Fiat, once,
and let me look up her miniskirt. That was the last
time I ever saw Pamela Zalusky. Never thought,
much, about her again until I got a flu shot last week.
That nurse—she was so smooth
I never even felt the needle pierce my skin.

over flailing my arms, thrashing
my legs running to a calculus
class I skipped the entire semester
and now itís the day of finals.
Iíve forgotten what building
itís in, never bought the textbook
because I needed the money
to take Meg out on Friday.
Yes, please bring me a glass of water
you made sure it was full to the rim
(and with ice). Autumn in Camarillo
and the chaparral is dusted golden,
Lisbon lemons in the orchards ripe,
the air thick with citrus. Meg leaves
a note on my car canít do Friday. I get
up from bed, careful not to wake you,
pour out whatís left around two am.

Mark Lee Webb was born in Kentucky but grew up near Malibu Canyon in California. He is the Editor and Publisher of A NARROW FELLOW Journal of Poetry. He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was a 2013 Fellow at The Renaissance House Writing Residency on Marthaís Vineyard. His poems have been published in numerous journals, both in the United States and abroad. Markís next chapbook, The Weight of Paper, will be released in 2014 by ELJ Publications. Mark was part of a creative panel at the University of Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture in 2014.

The Forest
Joshua Colwell

Walking in woods
I pray
It isn't a church or synagogue
It has spirituality though
Speaking to me
from pulpit

Joshua A Colwell is a slush reader for Every Day Poets magazine. His work has appeared at Every Day Poets, The Story Shack, and The Raw Alternative magazine.

South of the Border
Michael Albright

-Mexican themed roadside attraction on I-95,
500 feet south of the North Carolina line.

In Pedroís Coffee Casa,
a little boy dressed up for church,
bounces up & down on naugahyde—
I want fried chicken and a glass of beer!
His grandma fidgets seraped,
sombreroed salt & pepper shakers,
wonders where her daughter went,
thinks, this must be his fatherís voice.
Waitresses lean on each other to cluck
their tongues & whisper, truckers reeking
of diesel & lust look for a piŮata to punch.

Mom says if we hit the road after breakfast
we can make Peggyís in Lakehurst for supper,
& see where the Hindenburg collapsed,
sleep, then a dayís drive up to Maine.
When weíd make this trip with Dad,
heíd drive by, maybe pop in the gift shop
for castanets & rubber snakes,
but Momís in charge now & says
we can splurge this one last time.
She wants us to be happy. She wants us
to finally get what we want. Sheís wrong,
but she thinks weíll never do this again.

Michael Albright has published poems in various journals and periodicals, including Loyalhanna Review, Uppagus, U.S. 1 Worksheets, The New People, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and others. He is a member of the Pittsburgh Poetry Exchange and the Squirrel Hill Poetry Workshop. Michael lives on a windy hilltop near Greensburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Lori, and an ever-changing array of children and other animals.

Memories of My Parents
Paige Sullivan

I was the second baby who couldnít
save the marriage like Mom had hoped,
but still, it made a good story,
her telling me I was conceived
at the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island.
You were a luxury baby,
sheíd say.

My parents, two blue collar
twenty-somethings from tight-fisted,
sort-of loving homes, had perfected
hating themselves long before
they ever met at the office.

Babies accidentally dropped
while Dad sleepily opened the fridge
for a night feeding; the remote
he threw, carving a scar across Momís ear;
Gramma Jonnie telling her,
Kim, if you would just keep your mouth shut,
maybe none of this would be happening.

A kid, Iíd spin in the swivel desk chair
in the kitchen at Dadís as he washed
brunch dishes. And once, we had a conversation
about Mom. I love your mom, he said, pausing.
Iím just not in love with her anymore.

Even on the night when we got the call
from the Forsyth County jail, even
when I keened, curled up into something
animal-like, slick and alone and unnatural,
she crooned into my hair, I know your dad
is, deep down, a good person.

Before the brunch talk, before the prison visits,
there was this: Mom, suddenly sick and dying
in the hospital, swimming in near-death,
coming up to the surface by summerís end.
I had a dream Kevin visited me; he was crying,
she told my aunt. It wasnít a dream, my aunt said,
you didn't make that up.

A recent graduate of Agnes Scott College, Paige Sullivan is currently an MFA candidate in Georgia State University's creative writing program and an assistant editor at Five Points. Her poem "Connections Made in Retrospect" was recently published in Loose Change Magazine and placed third in their annual poetry contest.

So Far from Me
Christopher Reilley

I cry silently in the deepest part of the night,
knowing that the only ears that hear me
are the cats curled on the foot of the bed,
and my wet eyes watch the twinkling of stars
mock their moist glimmers in the dark.

The moon glares back at me, scabrous and pocked
by the loneliness that reflects my own heart.

What we once shared has changed, grown away from me
and you now want distance more than you want my love,
so I am left not knowing how to love you further.

There is no solace in your promises that this is a good thing,
no joy to be found in the future you spin for my sake.

Though you swear separation will bring us closer,
all I can see is the beginning of the end of us,
so my heart hungers for what it once had and can no longer taste.

I refuse to close my eyes, denying the dreams that wait,
warding off the travel to the place where you should be,
knowing that I would walk alone there, as I walk these halls.

Weeping over wasted time, true love denied, and the power
you have to hold my future hostage with your denial.
But love is not love that will not give of itself, and so I do,
letting you go, willing to abide in misery, so that you may shine,
I forfeit all claim to smiles, and hope, peace or love.

My gift of solitude I give to you, my love,
so that you might find whatever you search for, so far from me.

Christopher Reilley is the current poet laureate for Dedham, MA, founder of the Dedham Poet Society and author of Grief Tattoos - Poems of Rage and Redemption. He is a contributing editor at Acoustic Ink. His poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Word Salad Poetry, Carpe Articulum, Frog Croon Compendium, and several other collections. His work can also be found as part of Hot Summer Nights, Moondancers, Blood Rush, and other anthologies. Read his blog here chrisreilleypoems.blogspot.com.

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