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Larry D. Thomas

My Long-haired
sleeps flush

against my side.
In the night’s
darkest hours,

my left hand
resting on his ribs,
I feel the little

of his dreams,
the throbbing

of a heart
so insistent
yet so polite

I gently press
and release,
press and release,

as if my soft CPR
might keep it
ever beating.

Larry D. Thomas is a member of the Texas Institute of Letters and served as the 2008 Texas Poet Laureate. His most recent poetry collection is As If Light Actually Matters: New & Selected Poems published by Texas Review Press (Member, Texas A&M University Press Consortium).

Ruth Housman

I heard him ask for one thing
and when he got it he said no
I asked for hot not iced

and I died a little then
when she said and she was sweet
I thought you said iced

and so I said, hey, I will take that
the iced, and she said, look it’s okay
but I said, and it’s true, I like iced, I do

and when he said this has happened before
because I told him, my soul crawled into a deep
dark corner and wept

I made another bargain with LOVE

of melancholy
Ruth Housman

there is holy in that
for singing, in the rain

Ruth Housman, a poet and playwright, has a background in psychiatric social work and speech therapy. She has always been passionate about the stories we tell. Most recently Ruth co-wrote and directed plays with children at One Stage Productions, a nonprofit promoting self-esteem through creative expression. She is currently working on a children’s book and an ongoing manuscript that is a new kind of dictionary, about the “inner secrets” of words and sacred alphabets. She writes extensively about synchronicity. A grandmother of four, she considers herself quite Jung at heart.

For Man Nor Beast
Steve Klepetar

We huddled in the basement
of Chenango Hall that first college
winter, watching a free showing
of W.C. Fields shorts, already
antiquated then, black and white,
funny in a campy way. One film
had the old, fat lush up in Alaska
or the Arctic or somewhere in the frigid
north, and every time he opened
the cabin door, he yelled
“T’ain’t fit night for man nor beast”
and a blast of snow swept in, slapping
his fleshy face and bulbous nose,
a running gag, veritable
jack-in-the-box until anticipation
became conditioned response.
In unison we called out the line
and we howled. When the show
ended, first snowfall of the year—
snow-globe lovely through streetlights
on the quad. Every guy rolled
a snowball, our minds still aligned,
waiting for the inevitable.
It was my roommate, Rick Pupko,
who cried out through his laughter
“T’ain’t fit night for man nor beast!”
Fifty merciless snowballs caught
him on his thin body and hawk face,
still smiling, though wet and red
with welts. Then it was howls and whoops
as we cantered toward our dorms,
one mind, one body, one wild and empty heart.

Steve Klepetar

Three girls walk out
in the March snow

too warm for hats
their hair sparkles
with white
each has a cell

phone against
her ear

they walk three
abreast talking

to three people
who aren’t there

whose voices
form three

through which

their smiling
faces can just be seen

Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, including three in 2014. Three collections appeared in 2013: Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2 publishing), and My Son Writes a Report on he Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press). An e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein, came out in 2014 as part of the Barometric Pressures series of e-chapbooks by Kind of a Hurricane Press.

This bouncy Labradoodle
wearing her designer fur
along for her morning walk
through Chelsea, twisting
at first sight of canines,
leaping exuberance as if seeing
for the first time herself.

Consider life outside this gay
ghetto, in some town backwater
square as clapboard houses,
not a swishy man for miles.
I, too, might jump and prance
at the fabulous sight of
one of my own.

Loren Moreno is a journalist and writer from Honolulu, Hawaii currently living in New York City. He is a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing program at The New School, and his fiction has appeared in Gertrude, Battered Suitcase, Dogzplot, and Ignavia. He is the author of the chapbook AARON & KEONI (Gertrude Press, 2012).

Reincarnation Blues
Christopher Reilley

There have been lives lived before this one.
I have been people both bad and very good.
Walked beneath ancient and foreign suns,
Found breakfast in wattled and dusky wood.

I have been a rogue, a scoundrel, a truly bad man,
And there were times I was devout and had faith.
Lives gone by in which I’ve stolen what I can,
Born as eldest, youngest, born seventh or eighth.

I was a lieutenant in the American Calvary,
A seamstress in the court of Spanish kings,
A politician, manipulating royal rivalry—
Whispering in ears and pulling on strings.

Some lives I have lived were placid and quiet,
Some of them shortened by famine or war.
Once I was involved in a widespread riot.
I once gave my life for the woman I adore.

I have been a leader, a chief, a politician.
There were times I was the laziest man under the sun.
Been dragged screaming down the road to perdition,
And gone to grace after a life as a nun.

In this current life I am merely a simple poet.
Of my life and family my words have been wrung.
Blessed I am, and don’t think I don’t know it,
Having lived so many chances to be foolish and young.

When this life is over, and the next one begins
I hope that I am able to see past the Veil,
To be able to avoid my past lives sins,
And to weave my story with ever finer detail.

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.

Border Mother
Catherine Arra

As a girl I stalked my mother’s
boundaries, her edges like layered rows
of Border Brides, white-petaled daylilies
with purple centers and frilled skirts
fragrant       alluring       sweet
the lick of yellow stamens forbidden to touch.
A+ student, truant, needing notice
not even adolescence
could access her, the smoke from another
Marlboro her veil.
She lived in the soft floral tunnels
where she practiced her private silence
perfect and unavailable.

I'd Find You in Smoke
Catherine Arra

Mother, if I could summon you back
I'd sit with you at my morning table
prepare strong coffee the way you like
place an ash tray near because you'll
want to smoke after this long time away.

I'd finally insist that my eyes, replicas
of your hazel green framed in auburn
see beyond what I needed from you
slide down your color-streaked coronas
and slip through

like Alice chasing rabbits. I’d
fall into your girlhood, snuggle up close
smell your skin, shampoo, interlock fingers.
We’d whisper like best friends, sisters

and then you could tell me your secrets
the ones that walk backward, scream at night
the ones that kept you away from me
the ones you burned with 60 years of cigarettes
that killed you anyway.

A Smooth Ride
Catherine Arra

She shifted in and out of light
like fairy dust, my Tinker Bell mother
in her blue floral gown, the ICU bed
her pedestal.
At the foot, a chair for me
counting breaths.

She woke once.
I stumbled to stand, jolted
by the sudden rupture
in death’s stealth, moved closer
leaned in.

She pointed to the incision
in her lower belly
caressed it, smoothed her gown.
Her lungs laced with tar-soot
and nicotine were quitting
letting her sink
into a carbon dioxide coma.

In that last moment
of language, brows raised
lips stretched to a full smile
she whispered
“It doesn’t hurt.”

Catherine Arra lives in upstate New York. A former English and writing teacher, her poetry and prose have been published in various journals online and in print. Recent work appears or will soon appear in The Timberline Review, Flutter Poetry Journal, Writers Tribe Review and Sugared Water. Her chapbooks are: Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015)Catherine Arra lives in upstate New York. A former English and writing teacher, her poetry and prose have been published in various journals online and in print. Recent work appears or will soon appear in The Timberline Review, Flutter Poetry Journal, Writers Tribe Review and Sugared Water. Her chapbooks are: Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015)

Tony Magistrale
For Alexis Fancher

Would catwalk into school bake sales
and boys varsity basketball games
sutured into black leather miniskirts
and leopard-spotted jumpsuits with matching
stiletto pumps. That winter,
she raised the temperature of every
high school gymnasium in the state.

She wondered why the neighborhood wives
failed to include her when they went out for coffee,
why their husbands wanted her kid
to play on their baseball team each spring.

Alongside her assorted cannoli,
the other mothers’ frosted cupcakes tasted
frumpy. With no effort, she commanded
bolts of brazen energy from her bedroom
to rumble down the streets of Fairyland—
in vain did diligent mothers labor
to avert their daughters’ stare
committed to finding that exact color red at the mall
instead of going home directly after school.

Tony Magistrale is professor of English at the University of Vermont. He is the author of three books of poetry. His poems have appeared in The Harvard Review, Green Mountains Review, Slipstream, Ocean State Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review, among other places.

Oatmeal with Apple Chunks
Robert Collet Tricaro

With the country in its twelfth year
of the Great Depression, I was lucky
to be eating OK, beginning frosty
blue mornings blowing on my oatmeal,

smooth, beige, and silent in its bowl.
Sundays, my parents would scramble an egg
for me, fold a slice of bread and fill
the pocket with it. At age six,

I never asked why they didn’t fix one
for themselves.
It took another World War
to give my dad forty hours

as a navy yard welder, to put an occasional
pot roast on our table.
The war would also claim the life of my mother’s
GI kid-brother.

Sometimes I’d see a tear in her eyes when she
walked past and touched the edge of the frame
with uncle Joey’s picture.
I’d touch her hand, clasp it for a second or two,

then reach for my tin dump truck,
glad that now mom cooked my oatmeal
with milk instead of water,
and there’d be an apple chunk in every spoonful.

Robert Collet Tricaro's second collection of poetry "Let It Be Now"was published by Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in The Amherst Review, Baltimore Review, Main Street Rag, Mudfish, Roanoke Review and elsewhere. He is recently retired vice-president of Bay Area Poets' Coalition.

Ed Severson

The boy I was
never dreamed
he would become
the man I am.

The dreams
he had were of
taller, much more
important men than I.

Ed Severson

He and Fiona had a showplace,
the kind you see in a classy magazine.
"Max built it from scratch," said Mom,
who never tired of praising her brother-in-law.

An adventurer, to hear her tell it,
Max once woke up in some jungle or another
as a giant yellow centipede slowly walked
its countless legs across his bare chest.

Mom's eyes fearfully followed the progress
of the long-gone creature each time
she told the story. Max survived to open
a beauty salon in a high-end shopping center.

Balding, watery eyes peering through rimless
glasses, budding paunch: Max. Whatever he had,
it worked for him. "He used to have us pose for him
when we got new lingerie," Mom said, giggling.

Ed Severson

The doctors gave up.
Dad didn't.
He read about Tucson,
where you got well.

The sun was different there.

We left the shady East for the desert,
where Dad swore he could feel
healing in the sunshine,

and threw up a toilet bowl of blood.

He sat shirtless in a hotel patio,
turned brown,
watched an old guy,
tend the flowers.

He doesn't drink ice water,
Dad said.
He lives naturally.

Dad switched
to tap water.
threw up more blood,

kept faith with the sun
and died, his spirit riddled
by mirages of hope.

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.

One might think
it is just a dog
digging up a long lost bone.
he is at the base of the tombstone.
Barking at the dates
of birth and death.
The paws are now blurs
this dog makes
the earth move
his nose drips
as if to water
that will
to life.

He wags his
dead end tail.
Trying to
Sniff out a scent
his cheap. cloying
the cocktail hour whiskey
he liked it neat.

The dog in frustration
gnashed his
canine teeth
and falls asleep
right above
his master's
and decomposing

Doug Holder is the winner of the Allen Ginsberg Community Service Award as presented by the Newton Writing and Publishing Center. Holder recently received a citation from the House of Representatives of Massachussets for his work in the literary community. Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press, and he teaches writing at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. and Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. For thirty years he has run poetry groups for psychiatric patients at McLean Hospital.

I’m glad it was a sunny day
the day she died;
I couldn’t have stood clouds,
my heart weeping with the rain.

A few days later I saw
girls turning cartwheels
in a grassy schoolyard.
Joy flickered.

Keith Tornheim, a biochemistry professor at Boston University School of Medicine, has been published in Ibbetson Street, Boston Literary Magazine, Poetica, Spare Change News, Muddy River Poetry Review, and Lyrical Somerville (The Somerville News). His poems have been a part of High Holiday and other services of his congregation. www.shirhadash-ma.org/poetry.html. His poem cycle Spoiled Fruit: Adam and Eve in Eden and Beyond (Poetica) has just been published, as has Fireflies: Poems of Love and Family (Big Table Publishing).

Billy Bragg rode a BSA motorcycle,
the Golden Flash, a red and gold emblem
fixed on the black tank. Chrome pipes
roared like the MGM lion.

I wasn't allowed to ride behind him,
straddle the black leather seat,
hug him around his back,
but, of course, I did—on back roads
in the next county where no one knew me.
I was sixteen.

We dated in his faded apricot-colored Ford
with tan interior, tortoise shell steering wheel,
a bench seat so a girl could sit close to her guy,
a generous back seat. On the radio
Sonny James sang Young love, first love…
Dark spots clawed the felt ceiling
in an unfamiliar constellation.

I had to be home by eleven, plenty of time
to park on country roads in the dark.
He was twenty.

If only Momma and Poppa had known
how much safer I was on the motorcycle.

Jo Barbara Taylor lives near Raleigh, NC. Her poems and academic writing have appeared in journals, magazines, anthologies and online. Four chapbooks include Cameo Roles from Big Table Publishing, 2011 and High Ground from Main Street Rag, 2013. A full-length collection is forthcoming from Chatter House Press in spring 2016. She is a freelance editor and writing coach, leads poetry workshops for OLLI through Duke Continuing Education, chairs the Brockman-Campbell Book Award for the North Carolina Poetry Society, and coordinates a poetry reading series for a local bookstore.

John Nimmo

Cold chrome rail
against my chest,
I turn my ear close

to her face
to hear the weak
growl that is now

her voice.
Nurse? Water? Bedpan?

Her lips waver.
The air barely
comes out.

But a surprise
of sweetness
in her breath

pushes me back—
I know that breath—
to a time

when I was not
as strong
as she

and even when
was nursing me.

A native of southern California who went to Wisconsin for six years of graduate school, John Nimmo has lived since the early 1980s on the San Francisco Peninsula with his wife Elsa. He has published poetry in journals including Rattle, Stickman Review, Stirring, The Midwest Quarterly, and DMQ Review. His chapbook Out of Mud is coming out in print, late December 2015, from Finishing Line Press. Besides poetry, he finds excitement pursuing his career as an environmental physicist. Visit his poetry website at www.rubydoor.org/inpoet.

As a woman, she is anticipated to balance life and work
When she is a wife, she manages work and home
And as she becomes mom,
she starts to juggle between work-home-parenthood
With countless sleepless nights
And days of irregular diet
Mom of a new born;
who becomes a stay-at-home mom And sometimes, finds herself self-pitying like an employee
But as time passes,
Looking at her infant grow to toddler..
She realizes—
So what, I was unemployed
I had you as my boss to work for
So what, I had sleepless nights
I had your shoulder to cry on
So what, I had my mood swings
I had you with me to snuggle
So what, I didn't earn a penny
I had a fortune of witnessing all your "First moments"
With you beside me,
I have power to Rise and Shine
I am a Mom who knows that
I nurtured not just my kid but a citizen and a human
who will make this world a better place to live—
by giving love and respect to all
And spreading peace across the borders!

Fareha Razvi has enjoyed writing since school days. She writes in three languages and has been published online and in print journals. She does three things with immense passion: Writing, researching and teaching. Currently she is engaged in finishing a children's books with her 5-year old daughter as an illustrator.

Writing Every Day
Al Ortolani

The cat woke me this morning
meowing for breakfast. I tossed
him out the backdoor without
much of a second thought. I dislike
responding to his plaintive whine
so early in the morning—
it only serves to reinforce
his jump-to-my-call behavior.
I wanted a few minutes
to sit before the blank page
and to see what would spill forth,
and I guess this is it. A dumb
poem about a dumb cat.
I will write every day—the drill.

Al Ortolani’s poetry and reviews have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as Rattle, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and the New York Quarterly. He has published six books of poetry. His newest collection, Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb’s Bar, was released in February of 2015 by Spartan Press. Currently, he is teaching English in the Kansas City area and serves on the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Writers Place. His poems been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

The Promise
Denny E. Marshall

She wasn’t happy
That he promised her the moon
It took up five states
When she looked up in the sky
Knew it wasn’t the right one

Denny E. Marshall has had art, poetry, and fiction published, some recently. See more at www.dennymarshall.com.

Laura Rodley

Thanks for the elephants that don’t forget,
how they lumber miles to visit each other,
their own Thanksgiving, squirting
each other’s backs with water, trumpeting
their arrival, flapping their ears
to hear better and keep the flies away.
Can they hear us now scribbling
with our pens; do they wish we would
write a poem with one of them in it?
Here Senior Elephant,
place your platter-size foot upon the page
your pebble toes again the gold leaf
edging the china,
I will speak for you:
desert sun and desert moon
desert sand and desert grass
how your feet can feel the tremble
of underground water, an oasis
in the distance that is real,
and there you tumble
in the murky brine,
no alligator or crocodile
your enemy.
Ah, the relief of water over your eyes,
its caress over your back,
how it holds all of you
and gives nothing away.

Laura Rodley: Pushcart Prize winner, quintruple Pushcart Prize nominee, quintruple Best of Net, in Best Indie Lit NE. Publisher Finishing Line Press nominated Your Left Front Wheel Is Coming Loose PEN L.L.Winship Award, Rappelling Blue Light Mass Book Award nominee. Former co-curator Collected Poets Series, teaches As You Write It class, edited and published As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology volumes I-V, nominated for a Mass Book Award, featured reader at Greenfield Word Festival since its conception.

Richard Schnap

There was the one who dreamed
of standing ovations
that ended up
driving a cab

And the one who longed
to touch millions of hearts
whose hands grasped
the handle of a mop

And the one who yearned
to find fame with his words
as he spent his life
soliciting by phone

And the one in the mirror
writing their stories
that all led to
empty pages

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.

Last Dance
Peggy Trojan

I regret
not bringing
a tape and player
to the nursing home
when my father
at ninety- eight
was fading
He could have listened
to some Finnish waltzes
and spun my mother
around the wooden floor
of the old Lawler dance hall
until they were both
out of breath and dizzy
with love

Noon Hour
Peggy Trojan

Unless hot lunch at school
was serving something special
like corn chowder
and baking powder biscuits
or creamed chipped beef
potatoes and brownies
I went home
to what my mother made
like most town kids

Jack walked the furthest
almost to the river
to his unpainted house
by the railroad tracks
We all knew nobody was there
his mom at the tavern already
He always came back
just in time for the bell

Peggy Trojan, member of Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, widely published in journals and anthologies. Author of two chapbooks, Everyday Love, and Homefront, Childhood Memories of WWII, (Evening Street Press, 2015) and a full collection, Essence (Portage Press, 2015)

Your Heartbeat
D.S. Levy

In a state where prickly arms of Ponderosa pine wave their welcome;
In a county honoring a dead Indian chief whose name you can’t pronounce;
In a town where folks flash waxen smiles and cut strangers with side glances;
In a motel owned and operated by an old man named Patel;
In a room, 4B, embalmed with cigarette smoke from years gone by;
In a cold-sheeted bed that vibrates to a handful of quarters;
In a fist-sized heart ready to jettison a payload of remorse and guilt;
In a dark lusty chamber where love once dwelled;
In a mad rush of intoxicated blood;
In a single, negligible contracting cell,
I’ll be there … and you’ll never even know it.

D.S. Levy lives in the Midwest, but you can also find her in cyberspace at her blog, Word-Thrumming wordthrumming.wordpress.com.

Nausheen Mujeeb

The muffins in the oven,
A mug of hot coffee,
Marinated chicken curry,
Boiling potatoes on the stove,
New gown behind the bathroom door,
An unstitched dress in the sewing machine,
An incomplete diary on the shelf,
An anniversary gift on the table,
A basket of laundry,
Fresh flowers in the vase,
A charging mobile,
A baby in the cradle,
So many unspoken words,
Incomplete stories
And things undone
Yesterday, when your soul left.

Nausheen Mujeeb who writes under the pen name of Naushena, is a poet, an Early Years teacher, a Montessori Directress and a reiki healer. She started writing since 1992 and developed her passion for writing over the years. She composes poems both in English and her native language to express her feelings and emotions about everything around her. She has also written few songs and short stories for children. Currently,she working on a feature article for a magazine.

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