Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blast Furnace Volume 5: Issue 3

Cab, Car


i told her she was precious incredible and unbelievably
i told her to never jump in front of trains
i asked her if she was okay and then asked her again
i can scarcely remember anything but her eyes
i looked away and just as quickly realized i didn’t want to
i want to be so close to you me good her offering her lap and i want more
i moved my hand the back of her leg she pressed it then stopped
closed her eyes i asked her if she was okay and then asked her again
isn’t this weird me firmly and to her only we’re in a pickle her a pickle
i don’t recognize what do you want i want more i want more i want more
i want to lay down with you i feel more seen by you i’m worried i want more
i want more stay here as long as you can i want more i want more i want more
i’m always in pickles you’ll get sick of it i want more you’ll get so sick of it
i want to make things with you don’t kiss me now you are unlike so much 


We are in the back of the car,
your back favors a side
now for the hours spent
sleeping on me an animal
soft in sleep past twitches
distractions reconsiderations—
I follow the warm blades
of your fingers grass of the
sun's gatherings to their root
and with my hand curled
under your belt feel your purring
breath charge my fingers
with its wanting wanting wanting.

Daniel Brian Jones is a multi-disciplinary artist living in Brooklyn, NY. He edits FOLDER ( His writing has appeared in Chronogram and Whirlwind Magazine. Music: Harmonium Songs (a cycle of settings of poems from Stevens's Harmonium), Little Room (songs), and a cycle of settings of Stanley Kunitz poems, by agreement with the Kunitz Estate. He is an instructor at the Atlantic Acting School in Chelsea. Upcoming: the theatrical world premiere of John Ashbery's Litany, in collaboration with dancer/choreographer Sarah Haarmann. Visit his website at

To My Speeding Ticket

Sir, I was speeding, I was flying.
I had a demon on my right and Helen Keller on my left bumper;
as we went whizzing around that guy with his single blinker
stuck on eternity, slung shot past a dazed, bloated camper,
cutting off the pissed housewife counting her sex change as reason to go
diamond lane. I watched you get on the road after that Miata,
a name in Old German that means “reward.” You knew that!
You know all our names, our Triumphs, our Prius,
to “go before” know the names of the inventors:
Mr. Ford, Mr. Buick, Monsieur Chevrolet. Know my name
deep in the blue dash light, when we’re hurdling quickly nowhere,
miles over the limit, alone, as we have always been, hurdling into
the future, always the future, radio gone static, a fingernail moon,
the mossy green lights of the exits in radiant crowns.
Seeker and taker to meet our quota of dreams;
others may falter but we go on and on and on.

Not the wind, not the flag

Always the river when I’m standing.
Always the sky when I’m driving.
Never the river when I’m driving.
Standing, never the sky.

Always the ground, when I’m walking,
Never the ground when I’m lying, looking up at tree tops.
Never the branches when I’m walking,
The tree tops, moving, moving.

As soon as I wake in my bed
my thoughts jump to the future
though it doesn’t exist and has never existed,
shaking off the dream 

where I’m driving into the river
and standing on the sky;
I have raised my foot under the tree canopy
which never falls, or falling, never lands.

Merridawn Duckler’s poetry has been published most recently in Naugatuck River Review, Cirque Journal, Right Hand Pointing, Agave, Sugar House Review, TAB: Journal of Poetry and Poetics and forthcoming from Split Rock Review and Fifth Wednesday Journal. She was runner-up for the 2014 poetry residency at the Arizona Poetry Center judged by Farid Matuk. Her play in verse was in the Emerging Female Playwright Festival of the Manhattan Shakespeare Project. Her other plays have been performed in Arizona, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Valdez, Alaska. Merridawn has recent fiction in Farallon Review and Poetica. Fellowships and awards include Writers@Work, NEA, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, SLS in St. Petersburg, Russia, the Berta Anolic Visual Arts Fellowship in Israel, Norman Mailer Center, merit scholarship to Southampton Poetry Conference with Billy Collins.


untaught; her wings a yellow clef
will arch and bend in spiral hymns,
shake off the dust.

against the coal of daily life—
joy, the kind that echoes high
and papers long and sooty halls, lit by
one torch or two, not much
where ground is ground both down and up,
and pinetree struts that lift the earth
rot in damp and dark.

to right, the drawing of a child,
a crow (I think), whose red and gold
ignore the lines and grant a glimpse
of how God holds her pen. And then
Dad appears, his boot soles high and still.

a haunting major trill, unseen.

D. Wiltshire has been published in the online HIV: Here and Now Project.

Finding Your Way

When I returned to Wichita after ten years away
in California and points beyond, I still remembered
its bones, the street layout that was squared,
but not really. I called the turns to a music shop
I’d never been to before, but remembered seeing
on the way somewhere else, maybe the dentist, or maybe
the Hoover repair shop. It was a city graphed
through a ten year old’s memory. I knew Wesley Hospital
and the graveyard next to it, both times the impetus
for an unspoken joke about proximity. Crossing the tracks
that mark the difference between east-siders and west-siders
on 21st Street, I was the only one who took a deep breath and held it,
my automatic preparation for the block that mixed the stockyard
with an oil refinery. Great swimmers come from Wichita.
Peter Pan Ice Cream was no more, but come sundown
Friday, teens still dragged Douglas, and it was still
against the law. We were down from K-State in Lloyd’s
blue ’67 Chevelle, bored enough for a road trip in search
of a wah-wah pedal and live music, but I didn’t know
night spots. The music of my childhood was sung in church
or in my head, mouthing harmonies with the angels.

Lanette Cadle is a professor of English at Missouri State University where she teaches both rhetoric and creative writing. She has previously published poetry in Weave, TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics, NEAT, Menacing Hedge, Yellow Chair Review, Young Ravens Literary Magazine, and Atticus Review.

Bloodline Ideogram

I come from an assembly line of sleeping it off outside
under nights soaked in a steady moan of auto plants,
the youngest in a line of don’t take no shit, no stranger
to the smell of oil and beer, Motown, Oldsmobiles that won’t run,
and women who finally did, no stranger to the fear of rivers
with fast currents, pressing worms through hooks,
and heart attacks, how they can happen after cleaning a fish.
I’m told I kept my right eye closed until I was 5,
tried to smoke the cigarettes from my father’s ashtray, told I had to
have been the mailman’s son. I come from blue 

chalk dust drifting in cursive through a pool hall, I watched
my granddad who isn’t my blood’s touch on the cue,
who shot for money before church, who said he always confessed,
who told me my real granddad drank himself into a dirt alley
behind a bar on Michigan Ave and died broke in the doorway.
I’ve been to that bar since, the alley’s been paved with concrete.

In my father’s childhood bedroom there’s a stack of Playboys
too faded to be missed. Tell me, can you remember your first time
now that they’re buried beneath the others? If so, have they grown old
since they left you? I come from a cry in the night
that only touches what light cannot. I come from headlights
growing tired inside the dawn. I oversleep inside of dreams
about being better with money, that I’m caught in a current of it.
I was born in a Michigan winter where the rivers froze over.
I’m told I kept my right eye closed until I was 5. When I ask my father
he says it’s because only half of me ever wanted to wake up.

Bryan McAttee is from Lansing, Michigan. He received his MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. When not writing, Bryan works as a cook at a BBQ in his hometown.


In stance as well as store-bought name
it was Majestic in the middle

of the room, a country kitchen
where we said our graces, ate

And solved the problems of our neighbors.
We knelt to shim its dainty feet,

to steady calves and thighs the style
of Queen Anne with ample oven

and a water box. The stovepipe
elbowed left, up, left
to join the flue, all engaged
without a spark to keep hot Mother’s

omnipresent stews. When gas
piped in feed a Viking, the cookstove

was retired to the summer
house to cool, to let its iron

flanks contract, porcelain
renew. To stay and take up banking,

dignity imbued, its oven
and the water box now vaults

entrusted with old photographs
and postcards, letters that may some day

all go up in smoke. And up there,
round the bellies of our souls.

Charles Springer contributed to Blast Furnace's inaugural issue in 2010 with his poem "Red Cents." A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is widely published in the small presses. Charles is also a painter. His worked, entitled "The Majestic," a portrait of his family's old cookstove and the very inspiration for his poem, was purchased by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for its permanent collection. Charles writes from the family homestead in northcentral Pennsylvania.

The Old Girl

The old truck was going to give out,
I could feel it. The way the works
shimmied under the hood every time
I gave her some gas. The way the
whole damn thing would lurch
unnaturally whenever I downshifted.
This was not the time for a failure.
The snow was getting increasingly
fierce. A hail of massive, bluish-white
flakes, backlit by the halogens, waged
war on the old girl. No other drivers
were dumb enough to be on the road.
Conditions had been proclaimed
“undriveable” by the local newsman
hours ago. Still, I had places to be.
So I drove on. About once a minute,
the truck would do something that
would make me involuntarily hold
my breath. Each time, when I realized
what I was doing and corrected it, I
was gasping for what little oxygen
was left in the stale, overheated air
of the cab. Then the bald tires skidded
on the wet, treacherous road. The old
girl went right through the guardrail,
leaving the hood somewhere far behind.
Blue smoke shot from the truck’s guts
in front of the windshield. I heard a
crunch, metal on life, and for the briefest
second, it all went black. Only for a
second, though. Then it was all light.
More than light; white. I looked out through
the now missing windshield, and the
storm had passed. The whole season
had passed. The grass was tall and
green in the ditch. Birds were shouting.
The sun was out, hot and wonderful.
I opened the old girl’s driver’s side
door, and it screamed a rusty protest.
I stepped onto the soft, perfect ground.
I walked to the rumpled front of the
truck. There was a coyote standing there,
inspecting what was left of the bumper.
Our eyes met, and I understood. The
coyote turned tail and began to slowly
amble away. After a second or two, I
followed. Someday, we’ll get to
where we’re going.

James Benger is husband and writer. His work has been featured in several publications, including Coal City Review, Kansas City Voices, Kiosk, Periphery, Thorny Locust and To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices. When he's not writing, he works in a factory. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, two dogs and three cats.

Searching for the Clouded Leopard of Bhutan

Finding the words for that fleeting urge
That brings forth a poem is like searching
For the clouded leopard of Bhutan.
In Himalayan foothills you think
You spot one creeping along a precipice, 

But it’s the shadow of a mountain hawk.
In the lush green south you’re sure there’s one
Crouching under rhododendrons—
But it’s a rotting log. From tangled brush
The blue-winged thrush laught

At your futile venture. The guide points out
Fresh tracks of the elusive cat
That lead to a cold blue lake then vanish.
The scent of monsoon rain rises
From the east. You surrender—

Head bowed like the weeping cypress.
You’re folding your tent when
A leopard emerges from the fog-covered
Forest and begins to nuzzle your hands.
The words come gushing out.

Dennis Trujillo was born and raised in Pueblo, Colorado. He had a twenty year career in the Army followed by a fifteen year career as a middle/high school math teacher. He now resides in Korea and is employed at Shinhan University in the city of Dongducheon. He runs and does yoga each morning for focus for the sheer joy of it.

False Equivalence

These rolling tawny domes east of the highway—
some bald, some tonsured,
rising gently from flat, hay-bricked fields
with rumpled furrows.

I recite their names as I drive by—Buck Mountain,
Round Mountain, Hell’s Hill—
I could look at them all day.

They do not appear in Oregon’s asset column.
When they are listed at all,
they are: gravel, sand, Doug Fir.
They are platted for mud stucco houses
built with the gutted hill’s wood and stone.
Those sinuous curves illuminating
the landscape are sacrificed
when you move in, fill your garages
with lime green Troy mowers, bulbous-wheeled scarlet ATVs
which you will screech up/down the remaining hills
gouging lopsided crop circles
and screaming with joy.

There is no way back.

It’s been a subtle transformation,
a slow, steady morph
from sacred to raced, shelter to shovelful.
The deepening shadows stroke the hills,
running indigo fingers through the blonde grass.
The stillness is manna—you can eat
but not hoard.
It feeds a deep need.

You say,
everyone desires equally.
I have my turquoise Chevy with chromed fins.
I say, when your Chevy
is a thin layer of rust and blue,
let these hills still be caressed by these shadows
softly wearing off
the day’s veneer.

Catherine McGuire has had over 300 poems published including in: Adagio, FutureCycle, Green Fuse, New Verse News, Nibble, Portland Lights Anthology & Seven Circle Press. Her chapbook, Palimpsests, was published by Uttered Chaos in 2011. She has three published chapbooks. Find her at

Municipal Ramble No. 2: Looking Out Over Columbus Circle

Bejeweled skin of the night city—even my teenagers
stare in awe at the treasure it guards like

Beowulf’s dragon: glinting gold and diamonds,
rubies and emeralds—and pearls of the world

over and over is our oyster. Like the Pied Piper’s
children, taillights stream down Central Park South

and fall off the cliff of the East River,
while headlights drive out of darkness as if

the vanishing point were also the point of all return.
Maybe we come back, nocturnal as these cars—

beams of light pouring out of the past.
Headlights go round and round the statue of

Christopher Columbus. What did he discover?
That we all fall off the edge of the world.

To look out over the city is to watch a live feed
of the old dreams, the old magic, striving

to keep up with the times. Even Columbus needed
venture capital once. Shining from within,

a 21st century glass tower is buried to the hilt in sky;
a crane waits to hoist more impossible beams;

and beyond the sleeping park, which curls like
a wolfhound at our feet—lit windows tattoo

the silhouettes of apartment buildings.
Above it all, camouflaged in jeweled skyline,

a huge gold eye stares back at us, like a selfie
of all our longings—lidless  as the full moon.

Jennifer Stewart Miller holds an MFA from Bennington College and a J.D. from Columbia University. Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Cider Press Review, Gravel, The MacGuffin, and other publications. She lives in Bronxville, New York.

Experience Lincoln Highway

a new sign. Political coup
for some Chamber of Commerce.
Everyone I know calls it Route 30.
I tried to leave this road behind forty years ago

after years of Saturday trips to the mall
somewhere at Kaufmann’s the perfect dress,
perfect jeans waited to cover whatever she lacked
what we all lacked and lacked.
Afterwards the reward, dinner at Chick Fil A
an Orange Julius, latest from Mel Brooks.

Soon as I could
I’d skip the family outings, own the house
for a day, fill it with reading and silence.

Indecisive, shopaholic, mirrors
preferably three-way, Mom turning and turning.
But do you really like it?

Wendy Scott is the author of Soon I Will Build an Ark, published in 2014 by Main Street Rag. Her poems have appeared in the Harpur Palate, Paterson Literary Review, Potomac Review, Gravel, Cobalt, and The Fourth River, among others.  She has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh, and taught creative writing and composition for thirteen years at a variety of institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh and a women’s halfway house.

How to Know When the Dead Are Dead
after Angie Estes

Firefly beams flicker from cut bronze
over the white walls, the crenellated roofs

of Fes, and the city spreads north,
at first a seeming of silence

until voices rise from the dusk, and Arabic          
lilts in the splash of the courtyard fountain.

No horns, no engines,
houses lit from within,

backs to the street. If I could photograph time,
I would capture this rooftop moment

when the eighth century greets the twenty-first—
olives, tart rasp of orange, crumbling plaster,

clean dung of mules. Old lanterns
now flash electric bulbs at the horned moon—

this moment too will ebb
into the hum and shudder of generators,

high-rises with wide windows
open to the view, and motorcycles in the souk

where donkeys carry bales of linen and cages of cocks
There, they crow in the lamplight, thinking for a moment it is dawn.

The Sun Casts No Shade
after Angie Estes

At noon, the sun casts no shade, and it seems
always to be noon in Tangier. The Kasbah’s salt-stained

white surrenders to blues and pinks, the yellows
of the medina, and the narrow alleys harsh,
as if lit by unshaded bulbs.

But when the minarets swallow the sun, the medina
pulls close its doors. It is the time of the new city, the zocco chico,
where Bowles might have shared a glass with Borroughs

in the sudden twilight. In that same black-streaked
purple light, Stein nursed a brandy and soda
on some ornate balcony high above the broad street

where men still lounge, lean
over wire-footed, mosaic-topped tables. These asphalt streets
funnel into stone lanes that tunnel

into the Kasbah’s thick wall, but here no Hemingway
tamps his pipe, and Wharton sips no drink
in the fall of night. Here the spirits wear djellaba,

buy olives in the stalls, greens from the Berber women,
listen for the call to prayer.


Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana, May, 1986
after a line from Andrea MacPherson

Later she will search her skin for the bloom of dirt,
the plastic bodies of leaches,

but now she wades in the muck, each step
a skirmish against the suck of mud. Her t-shirt

straggles over her hiking shorts, proclaims
Atchafalaya the ‘Gator Capitol of Louisiana.’

The camera around her neck lists, telephoto lens
drawing it down, into the bayou. Her palms cradle

metal, and she raises it to her eye—
an egret lights on a submerged log, plunges

its beak into the water, emerges
in a flash of silver. In the background, splintered trunks

of moss-glazed cypress,
a single iris struggling through algae-crusted water.

L. K. McRae is a teacher in Toronto, Ontario where she lives and writes. Her work has appeared in The Antigonish Review, PIF, Northwind, Room, Emerge Literary Journal, Contemporary Verse 2, Boston Literary Magazine, and in Tar River Poetry.


We pack the Conestoga ‘til it rides the axle,
maxing out before the house is empty. We’re gone, bound for
Homestead country, the ground of father’s father’s farm
sapped of nutrition, crop on crop without fallow
seasons to recharge. The acreage was sold off
piecemeal, to pay bankers, doctors, to satisfy outstanding
debt owed to the funeral man. Susannah sees
the children learn names of rivers as we cross them.
She’s a natural teacher. I lead the horse team
through currents, wondering which instance
will strain the harness, threaten to dash us
on outcroppings, which flow might
bear the team away. It happens,
but showing fear doesn’t make disasters
less likely to swamp the expedition.
Better to join in with education,
such distraction welcome. Limbo lasts
a thousand miles. Susannah, unflappable,
leads the naming, drills the children:
Susquehanna, Allegheny,
Ohio and Mississippi. The harness
cuts my hands but I can stand it. I say
Colorado River. If I’m scared
my voice shouldn’t show it.

Todd Mercer won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015, and two Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance appeared in 2015 at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in: Bartleby Snopes, Blast Furnace, Dunes Review, Eunoia Review, Kentucky Review, The Lake, Literary Orphans, Liars League NYC, Lost Coast Review, Main Street Rag Anthologies, and Midwestern Gothic.

On board the Metra train from Chicago to Westmont

It’s that all-encompassing love
the spark that skims along
the train track, shiny,
that chases cabooses
that kites freighters
and swims with conductors.
It’s the kind that unpacks your suitcase,
speeding towards you like a freighter,
laughing like a locomotive,
smiling, marveling, at your dream.

Caroline Johnson has two poetry chapbooks, and more than 50 poems in print. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she won the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row 2012 Poetry Contest. She is president of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and teaches community college English. See her blog at

Last Dish

The stillness of the wind invites us,
calls us off the mountain
to the lake with its face
round as a dinner plate,
smooth as a cloth-spread table.
Water licks the curved hull
of the Edgewater that cradles us like a spoon
as the motor cuts away from the dock,
and we tuck into the warmth of an aged August sun.
The peanut butter sandwich clutched
in my daughter’s dimpled fingers
vanishes middle first into her mouth,
unsaved by the rolling of the boat
and the gaps where the sharp white of incisors
have yet to press through gum.
Work undone bubbles up,
surfaces as beaded columns of worry,
but the propeller’s blade devours it
and spits it in bits
on the wide, white lanes of wake,
fine shreds sinking to rest
in wait at the bottom of the black
where they will reassemble,
sprout legs, and crawl out dripping,
slinking back to nibble
on these last scraps of summer.
But, the quickening drone of hungry motor
churns out water whipped and whisking behind us.
For now, there’s only the clean glass of lake
to cleave with the point of the prow;
and, my girl, penny bright hair
aflutter and empty mouth thrown open,
caching the wind in the hollow of her cheeks.

Meghan Smith teaches English at a boarding school in Groton, MA where she lives with her husband, spit-fired daughter, and squishable baby boy. She writes poetry and short fiction, and her work has appeared in Mom Egg Review.

The Ores

We bore holes in us, as if attrition comes naturally.
Water does what water does, slowly builds more layers
while time comes on and throws us under inch-
thick crusts of residue. Slapped on fast, this way and
that, varnish up our weakest points so we can’t see
despite being flush against the panes – we stay
sitting, smoking slowly, refining the crudeness
of our gestures until we pump ourselves outside

even then, nothing can remind you of the day
when our selves glinted, shiny new:
hips crackle and spit, and something silver corrugates lips
with not quite words slagged out in heaps.

We grow inside, this much is clear, yet
our hair stays flat, we count the days in single strands.
Reduced to a specimen, a set of samples:
hours kept stock in breathing bowls, broken bones
pile up with kisses, the taste of iron.
My memories clamber under skies,
fuming full of smashed clay pots and the days
when our mouths moved, and music came

Benjamin Norris is a poet and lecturer from Bristol, UK whose work regularly appears in collections on both sides of the Atlantic.

Minnesota Roads

You sustain in your mind countless drives
on single-lane roads, space between towns
enough time to plow furrows of thought.

Your drives along those roads now confined
to summer visits, waves of memories’ heat
across those state and county roads,
your wife beside you, hand on her knee.

You remember the three-and-a-half hour
drives you took to visit her that season
of engagement, how all week you waited

for Friday afternoon, classes done and aimed
your car south, cassettes ready, bottle of soda,
200 miles and a dozen towns between your bodies.

Fading Autumn

After the wheat is harvested,
the fields only golden stubble,
after leaves turn yellow and red
and cover the garden in a crunchy
blanket, then, in that moment
before the first lasting snow,
I will walk through the grove
one more time with you

until that first warm winter
night when we scale the drifts
sparkling in starlight, cottonwood
branches creaking in the prairie
breeze, and we lie beneath Orion
hunting the Great Bear, our eyes
expecting fiery meteors
to blaze across the sky.

Nathaniel Lee Hansen’s chapbook, Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian, was published by Spoon River Poetry Press (2014). His work has appeared in Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Driftwood Press, Whitefish Review, The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota Review, among others. His website is, and he can be followed on Twitter @plainswriter.

Remembering History

Driving in the Orinda hills, road winding
and tree-lined, thick with blooming clump grass,
just like the roads around our newly old house—
so suddenly gone! (Not long ago, my parents,
elderly, bewildered, and bankrupt, were led by
officials from our truly old house; farther back,
my father’s house in Kusnice, efficiently de-peopled,
the family cargoed off.) This eerie repetition

jabs my heart, or wherever it is that loss lays
lodged like a pit surrounded by emptiness.
We’ve moved west to the bay’s edge. The kids,
the family dog and cats are the company I keep. Outside
our train-narrow warehouse loft, rolling trains bray
then trail off into the lengthening days and nights.
Their sound soothes me. Always someone
arrives and leaves. I had forgotten this.

Paula Friedman’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Columbia Journal of Art and Literature, The Southern Poetry Review and many others. Her chapbook, "Undreaming Landscapes" was recently accepted by Aldrich Press.

Exchange on the Way Home

We sit alone in a car at a time
of day we don’t remember,
talking past each other.  Our faces
point ahead, not toward or away,
and we stare off at something
unspecified, hoping
to pick out some solitary cloud
or star through the deep blood
shade, the blindfolds
we’ve been given, put on.
You tell me a story, a lady
surrounded, societal tourniquet
stopping her blood flow.
Bunched up in extremities. 
She swells at the ends,
always just about to burst.  Launch
forward explosive to catch hold
of anything, to be supported
but deny that need
for support.
I tell you a story, a boy
driving home one day with the radio
switching between violence, oh-
so-personal, and something that would give
him away, up to his peers.  He looks
for earnestness in the motion of lives,
the light touch of a hand on a wheel,
the stomped clutch thrust away,
the smooth throw of the knob,
the long stare to the bend
in the road.
We toss
these fragments, these artifacts, in hopes
that we’ll snatch them from the air
between us, and stop for one second
and turn
to see each other for the first time
through the veil.
We reach out to press our palms
together, our fingers
different lengths, some beginning just past
where the others end.

Robert Schuster received his MFA in fiction in May 2015 from the Creative Writing program at George Mason University where he studied under Susan Shreve, Stephen Goodwin, Helon Habila, and Alan Cheuse. Before that, he received a Bachelor of Arts in English, Creative Writing, and Politics from Oberlin College. Robert currently works as adjunct faculty at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, VA. He is the outgoing Fiction Co-Editor for George Mason University's feminist literary journal, So to Speak. He also worked as a volunteer teacher for 826, a nonprofit K-12 educational organization, and as a standardized test teacher and tutor for the Princeton Review. He lives with his fiancé in Charlottesville, VA.

A Building Contractor, In Her Sleep

Hears sheetrock flex beneath paint.
A mockingbird beside the open bay window
imitates the caw of her calico jailed behind it
and sidewalk cinches in the cool of night.
Because we all frame the doorways
through which we walk
from one room of our lives to the next,
she dreams the sky and the ocean’s bottom
are only rumors of endless job sites.
She stirs at electrons’ spiraling
through twelve-gauge copper
if only because wiring her home
makes her believe it.

Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia. He has published work in The Iowa Review, on, and has work forthcoming in The Crab Orchard Review, among others. His first collection “How We Bury Our Dead” by Cobalt/Thumbnail Press was released in March, 2015.

Chicago Transit Authority

Brown Line

Crossing gates down, the trains pass between
two-flats and bungalows, faded signs

from the last election sagging in the yards.
In the back rooms, sleepers dream

of doors closing, a warning voice, wheels
rumbling on the rails.  Gates up, your neighbor

will cross, agree that the sun is warm,
the air still cool as you pull the weeds

around the miniature iris already in bloom.
Gates down, and a boy from across the street

ducks under the bar, stares down those
predatory eyes that have fixed on him—closer,

closer—then slips under the far gate, laughing
at his own speed, the torrent of his mother’s

words, the inevitability of his escape.

Red Line

The LED sign announces a southbound train:
departing passengers brush past us and disappear

down the stairs, eyes blank with the day’s events,
while the train pulls out with all of us

inside, the woman rocking a baby hidden
under blankets, the couple steadying each other

around the curve, the man next to me who reads
a long story on a small screen, words scrolling

into darkness. In the tunnel six elderly ladies
all talk at once, their still thick hair held up with too many

pins, their conversation a music without words
for those of us who do not know Cantonese. And now

the train slows for my station where another traveler
will take my seat as I climb the stairs into the rare sunshine,

streets sparkling with all the directions I could walk into.

In the Rear View Mirror

The ways of traffic are mysterious: one minute
you’re driving ten miles over the posted speed, fields
a green blur punctuated by ancient pillars of sandstone
left by the glaciers, and the next you come to an abrupt

stop behind a double line of cars and trucks, every driver’s
arm crooked out the window, miles of accumulated
frustration cooking in the sun.  And just as mysteriously,
you begin to move again, released into the same speed

as before, no sign of an accident or sports event or even
orange cones warning of construction. But during that in-
between when you refused to look at the clock or calculate
how much later you would arrive where you were going,
you realized that there, in the field that was no longer a blur,
were the gangly forms of sandhill cranes, five of them
bending their long necks to forage or raising their heads
to stare for a moment, not in your direction, but into some

distance beyond your reach.  Feeling the time approach
for a migration very different from your own, not chosen but
folded into their cells, the routes passed on through generations.
Another mystery, the ways of cranes, their complex

balancing act this side of extinction, eastern populations
currently expanding according to the Fish and Wildlife Service,
after near extirpation in the late 1800’s.  Such academic language
to make their fate a matter for study instead of faith, but the long

knobby legs of their resurrection still move with deliberate grace
through a field you almost did not see, and now have left behind.

Susanna Lang’s newest collection of poems, Tracing the Lines, was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press. Her first collection, Even Now, was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press, and a chapbook, Two by Two, was released in October 2011 from Finishing Line Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Green Mountains Review, The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, and Jubilat. Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.

from Lines on Lebanon

At Antelias in the late evening we arrive with our shopping on the slope where the taxis wait. He hails us—my wife and I—eager for passengers, perhaps his last run. We tell him “Ain Aar” and he hustles us in with a big woman in the back. The front passenger seat is left unoccupied.

The taxi, back-heavy, snorts up the mountain-side as though in need of a service. A minute—and it stops dead; a work-worn African gets in. The driver seems to know him; he stretches out his hand to ruffle his crinkly hair. Music is on loud—African or Marley-like. It brings back Ghana, but their talking is Arabic.

Another sudden stop—the African gets out and makes a dash for the shop they call the Wooden Bakery. Taxi still stationary, the driver apologizes to us in the rear. It seems he is waiting for him—an extra service?

Five minutes and his passenger comes with a bulging bag—gets back in, takes out a roll, and eats. I think: perhaps he’s done a long day’s work, this is his first food, and the driver pities him.

Setting off again, the taxi zig-zags across the road to the other side weaving in-and-out of head-on cars. I grip the leather seat. “He’s going down the mountain!” my wife remonstrates. “Sorry, sorry” says the driver turning to  the three of us in the back—“Sorry.”

We stop—this time for a young man—as though for rendezvous. He squeezes in at the front. The door is squashed shut and—hamdullah*—the taxi heads up again to Rabieh. We hit hairpin bends in this ill-used vehicle; it has evidently given good service. The three men talk and laugh as at a party with rolls handed round and music roaring.

Another sudden stop, another exit; the African makes another dash—now for a pharmacy. We three in the back wait; more of the driver’s sorrys and our patient malesh.** I wonder at the African’s mission. Is he charged with some service? Is he sick? He didn’t seem so. A condom perhaps? Or a medicine with morphine? Dark thoughts, I own.

He’s coming back now, but I don’t know what’s in the packet he’s holding to his chest—and I can’t ask. The woman next to me smiles—a knowing one—but I am perplexed.

A little way and the woman waves that she wants to get out; she walks off with her tonnage without a word.

A little way more and we pass the old family house at Kornet Chouwan, derelict, out of service.

My wife hands notes to our merry driver; we get out awkwardly with our parcels. The three men drive on to music, sandwiches, medicine and high spirits. In their shared taxi they pass the open service station on the road up to Bikfaya.

We walk with our parcels down towards the church; it is too late for the service.

* Thank God
** That's okay

Anthony Johae has lived and worked in Africa and the Middle East. His collection, Poems of the East, has just been published. He now divides his time between Lebanon and the UK, and is writing freelance.

10:34 am (Litany of the Hours)

Waking from dream: 30 years out
and still your body. Here I draw
each finger with kisses until
you stop me on the ring.
                                                St. Paul:
mist on the Mississippi. Subtract the
buildings, the vehicles, the bridges;
add the grass, trees, and erase the
asphalt from under my tires. A
        fox graces the river bank.

Grandma, Kerchiefed

Plaid house dresses, navy blue tennis shoes, braid, no socks. Litany of plant names: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dutchman’s Britches, Purple Joe Pye Weed, Spiderwart, Wild Columbine, and Sweet, Sweet William. Words we no longer use: gulley, grove, south slope, cottonwood, culvert, creek, crik, creek. Your mother, she says, eats fried chicken with a knife and fork. That Phyllis, she says, was born with common sense. Guess I should be glad for something. Both teachers who can hear a dangling modified quick and close, but they both lapse Southbranch, crik, crik crik. That Irvin we hired Summer ’43 pulled her out. Didn’t bother telling me until her graduation. Neighbor boys speaking LowGerman: Missouri Synod Sunday and Schells-drinking-Saturday. Think I don’t know? They’re slow enough to put their lips around the whole beer bottle top. Hands, cheeks, and brown legs tributaries, dried and tiled. Armed with a flashlight and flannel nightgown, midnight: she knows, think so anyway, the deer shiners’ parents: midnight, pickup, rifles, beams, shame, shame, creek, crik, creek.

Kari Fisher is a former waitress, Catholic Worker, and political (democratic left) organizer. She and her family live in the Twin Cities (Minnesota). She currently teaches at Normandale Community College.

Two Cadillacs

One light green
and finny, windows tinted,
swimming through the cornfield
in Mount Marion, my grandfather
at the wheel of the world,
screaming at his wife
huddled in her seat
to Leave me be! My sister
burrowed in a ball on the backseat
floorboards, no seatbelts then,
no airbag to deploy.
Just the tassels falling before them
and the misfired synapses
of the demented driver
in charge as the chassis
left the road.

The other, white,
flared, bulbous brakelights,
red interior, convertible.
Nanny's car, its push-button
transmission slipped
as she drove us to confession.
We conspired backseat,
making up sins to offer
the priest.
It would arrive upstate
in late spring carrying
hatboxes and bolts of cloth,
tea, salamis and whiskey
hauled from Brooklyn,
provisions for the summer
months in the country. On the wide
front porch of the Sullivan House,
she'd offer us beer
in tea cups, Pabst Blue Ribbon
to calm our nerves. Or
Irish tea: first the sugar, then milk,
tea bag and hot water last. We'd sip
until time. She'd pull
the black netting over her face;
we'd affix paper doilies
in our modest hair, straighten
my brother's tie, pile into
the leather seats
so unlike the stripped down
station wagon we rattled about in
with our parents. We'd parade
down familiar roads,
arriving at St. John's
with airs. Forgive me Father,
for I have sinned. We'd cross ourselves
and pray penance while Nanny
lit a candle, genuflected,
had a smoke outside, her sins
impervious to a country priest's
ministrations. We'd ride home
forgiven of everything
we could name. She'd bend
just slightly, to kiss
our heads, then send us
up the hill past the green car
of our father's father to our house
with its mysteries, its secrets
passed down to us that
God could never know.

Susan Facknitz

John Chamberlains First Assemblage from Two Fenders Off a 29 Ford

Summer, 1957, Southampton,
drinking with Larry Rivers,
they bitched about crooked dealers,
faithless wives, upstart artists
Larry says (or might have)
to John Chamberlain,
I’m going out to pee;
they strolled
through the tall gray-blue grass,
to the rusted hulk
of a ’29 Ford
(John learned
from Rauschenberg
at Black Mountain:
use what’s at hand)
So he pulled
off the painted
chromium plated fenders,
got his pickup truck
and ran over them
again and again
bent and dented
and pieced them together
like puzzle pieces, he said,
to make Shortstop
you have to know when to stop.

Andrea Wyatt is the author of three poetry collections and co-editor of Selected Poems by Larry Eigner, Collected Poems by Max Douglas, and The Brooklyn Reader (Random House/Harmony, 1994). Her work appears or is forthcoming in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Hanging Loose and Gargoyle.

Tuscora Park

They came from Carolina northward 
past the Potomac, past the hills
of Pennsylvania. They came leaderless
and hungry, waited for creeks to subside.
They came because there was no other
road, and in 1698 or 1712 wept
as the coal burst blackly forth
from the worshipped land. 
But the deer were plentiful, 
plus dominions of trout,
and heat that brought the corn
up every August. These Tuscororas
from whom we take the name played
football in the park
where we as children did. They
languished as the sun beat down
where the Cape Cods are today,
beat each other blue over timber,
squaws gone to whites
who drank whiskey and gambled.
They made their rituals plans,
their plans rituals, bartering for meat.
We take their name, hound them 
hourly in their absence, build hospitals
where they knelt to mark their dead.
We heal each other inside their wounds
in a tilt of oaks called Tuscora Park,
unmindful of blood, the parking lot
pushing against their bones.

Carl Boon lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. Recent or forthcoming poems appear in Posit, The Tulane Review, The Blue Bonnet Review, Badlands, and many other magazines.

After The Stars Are Gone
This poem contains the chorus of “After The Ball” by Charles K Harris, 1891

After the ball is over

Bus stop
just shy of midnight
The limp string of
three of last night’s
helium filled party hoppers
cling to the curb

Deflated balloons
don't make me mourn
the prior night's celebration
just revel in their
"Fuck you, I tried", even
as the indifferent wind
force waltzes them into traffic
was had

After the break of morn

The half fallen buildings
blast one last marvel note
across the skyline
beauty all the way down
to the dust
An adagio
of graffiti and asbestos

After the dancers' leaving

Collapsed people
Pedi-cabbed slump, bodies
drained from defiant high steps
to the face of last night’s
slippery jitterboogie

After the stars are gone

are all brilliant
at the right distance

Many a heart is aching

The dispensaries
smooth green hue lilts
against dawn’s flagrant

If you could read them all

half forgotten
scream past, reminding
of one’s lack of patience
to wait

Many the hopes that have vanished

Third shift
shuffling home, half ass
racing the light to their
improvised curtains

After the ball

A city
and body
both dirt, until
the right set of lungs
deign to shout them out

Paulie Lipman is a Jewish/Queer/Writer out of Denver, CO. He has toured the U.S. extensively (and a little bit of Canada) performing poetry, is the voice of Neal Cassady in the documentary 'Neal Cassidy: The Denver Years', and has had work appear in The Legendary, Radius, Borderline, Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and The Write Bloody Publishing anthologies 'The Good Things About America' and 'We Will Be Shelter.'

Crossing Sunda Strait by Ferry


A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors' Choice Award. Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. @JamesPenha.