Monday, May 28, 2012

Blast Furnace Volume 2, Issue 1

Ambition and Erosion
[unrhymed sonnet]  

When I was father to the man, I wished to be
a fire truck. Then I put away childish things
and wished, instead, to be fire. The fire inside
the fire, Heraclitan, ash-maker extraordinaire.

The curtains still cling to smoke, a shard of log
black and furred with ash sits alone in the hearth,
and I'm sure I have forgotten to close the flue,
now that I'm done with all that, and wish to be

nothing: not the one found beneath the Bodhi tree
or the one Thomas More drew maps of, not the one
Sartre missed, hunting for Pierre—no, I prefer the one
without wishes, and where I am the heart of all things,

things that burn and things that will soon burn,
waiting to spend their love and be extinguished.

Marc Pietrzykowski has published poems, stories, essays and reviews in Burnside Review, Fine Madness, Drunken Boat, Pleiades, Diagram, Contemporary Poetry Review, The Antioch Review and Alaska Quarterly Review, among others. His three books of poetry include Following the Ghosts Upriver (Main Street Rag Publishing Company); The Logic of Clouds (BlazeVox Books); and ...And the Whole Time I Was Quite Happy (Zeitgeist Press).

Acrostic on a Line from Phillip Larkin 

We played our days as lilac leaves blown
high with lips pressed onto the green
and fragrant seem, a whistle of green
that pierced warm air, made it seem

washed in pungent music we could see.
In hours we’d make something lasting,
lulling the time as though we lay in memory,
light that stayed into the darker hours late. 

Several species of flies jewel mist above the lawn
undulating, stirring their inner weather. They
rent the breeze in multitudes making song
vivid in the alternate tuning of wings.
I place my note inside the music of leaves,
valor in my breath through living things
every pulse struck against the bell tongue.

Under such a burden, light as this,
sound becomes birds, cinnamon flickers, waxwings 

indigo singers in the other leaves and trees
sliding through the bottom of the sky like sand. 

Love is not just one bird, but armloads of birds
of every size singing with my one blurted note
veering from this lilac leaf the shape of the heart
early, my life, making melody climb to you.

Walking Over the Ice

I will crack my feet on ice, hope to break
through to water, hope for something moving
underneath. At the pond when I was three,
there were fish swimming under skate blades,
and sometimes I would mistake them for leaves,
mistake the living for the dead while girls played
crack the whip around the swan island and threadbare
elms. Once, I lay upon a beaver pond, midwinter,
breathed into the glass to bring some clarity,
rubbed my mittened palm to smooth the ice
and looked to the mal-shaped lens for trout.
It is late day, always late day, and the shadows
are the color of the ice. And the fish are silver
coated in shadows of their own and slowness
that the cold pronounces. They move so slowly
I should be able to recall every row of scales
along their smooth backs, and the gold rings
around their pupils as they drift in a frozen cloud.
I want to break that ice with my hands, reach down
and frighten the fish into the dark recesses
I’ve never seen. I will follow them, take light
down with me and shine it into their mouths,
to see all the things I’ve forgotten, the name
of the place, the road, the woman driving the car,
what it feels to have a smaller body that begins.

Joel Long is an eight-time Pushcart Prize-nominee. He is the author of several books, including Knowing Time by Light (Blaine Creek Press), Winged Insects (White Pine Press Poetry Prize winner) and the chapbooks Chopin's Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost (Elik Press). His poetry has appeared in Quarterly West, Isotope, Rhino, Gulf Coast, Bitter Oleander, River Oak Review, Crab Orchard Review, Bellingham Review, Poet Lore, Sou'wester, Apostrophe, Prairie Schooner, Weber Studies, Willow Springs, Sonora Review, Mid-American Review, Roanoke Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Blue Mesa Review, Ellipses, Seattle Review, Monteserrat Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Coal City Review, Evansville Review, Hurricane Review, Interim, Karamu, and New Orleans Review, among others. Additionally, Joel's poems have been anthologized in American Poetry: the Next Generation, Essential Love, and Fresh Water. His poetry is forthcoming in The Pinch.


Our days drawn out in words and spaces, lines
to separate the hours, to make the blank
page black, as if a shadow could define
the margin’s white, as if the light could thank

the dark for spilling thickly, justified,
for promising to camouflage the field.
Our nights marked down—epistolaire replies
aligned on two axes, two notes revealed 

on fragile paper twice re-penned in ink—
and written frantically, as anxious(ly) read:
a fervent try makes black and white distinct
as light through darkness begs the ink to spread.

And this is how our life of words shall pass,
the days too slowly gone, the nights too fast.

Song of Sol

Wilted flowers, broken pottery
             debris of garden planting.
Walk these steps with me,
             grooves bare feet have traveled.
                          Say Yumani, Escalera Inca:
                          Say Yampupata, Pilkokaina

Short green upshoots, farming terraces,
             descent from town to temple.
                          Saying Yumani, Escalera Inca
                          and Yampupata, Pilkokaina.

Fossil keepsakes, spiral curvature
             discarded stones of the Inca.
Walk these steps with me,
             grooves bare feet have traveled.

Jenny Morse is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In her free time, she tries to travel as much as possible and will complete her visits to all 50 U.S. States this June with Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Her work has been published in Menacing Hedge, flashquake and The Notre Dame Review.

An Hour into a Night 

We churned an hour into a night,
grinding on from one dim-lit bar
to another—commenting explicitly
on this scene which never suited us. 

Grinding on, from one dim-lit bar
we fit with each other, like cogs.
On the scene which never suited us,
we made believe and the men watched, 

how we fit each other, like cogs
dancing in a clock—so that time was
make believe. And the men watched
the time, our lace and nylon riding higher. 

Dancing around the clock, timing
each beat as the last expression
of lace and nylon, a lost button
a silk slip, a sip of liquor, and wetted lips. 

Each beat resonated with our expressions
to one another, moving explicitly
like rich silks. Slip a sip, liquor wet lips—
we churned hours into the morning.

How We Proved Ourselves 

That’s how we proved ourselves in July—
like walking on water, barefoot—
we were seven, seven, and nine. 

Nobody flinched, or even cried
barking at each other, do it!
That’s how we proved ourselves in July. 

Blacktop so hot, it felt cold. We’d lie
our tender soles on newly paved road

sizes seven, seven, and nine. 

Using our allowance to buy
lighters to melt dollar store army men
that’s how we proved ourselves in July. 

Never left each other behind
the tall chain links protecting the grey-water pond
we were seven, seven, and nine. 

Flipping off and cursing, we tried
words our parents used: asshole, dumbshit.
That’s how we proved ourselves in July 

Swerving between cars on our bikes
letting the handlebars fly free
we were seven, seven, and nine. 

We thought we could never die
threw fists and fireworks at each other

that’s how we proved ourselves in July,
we were seven, seven, and nine.

Mishon A. Wooldridge is a Northwest writer and massage therapist. Her work has previously appeared in Two Hawks Quarterly, Floating Bridge Review, Earth’s Daughters, Third Wednesday, Jeopardy Magazine, and others. Her poetry is forthcoming in the anthology, Tribute to Orpheus 2 (Kearney Street Books). She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Western Washington University.


Start with one across
Drops down to USA
Three letter words abound
Can never remember
The name of a fencing sword
Comes up a lot
Giving way to onomatopoeia
As life crumbles in the background
I spell what I want to scream
Pops up if no Greek Gods make
themselves known. Set in
Where ADAM and even
EVE (the night sky)
May appear
Or long lost pronunciations
As I sit inside tight, folded covers
Thinking of four letter verbs
And never SLEEP.

Laura Smith is an emerging writer and a graduate of Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she was a recipient of its Creative Writing award in December 2007. She has also written hundreds of news blogs and literary reviews for Tales of Our TimeBlogger News and Suite 101 . Laura was also published in 6S, a collection of short-short stories printed by Six Sentences, Robert Morris University's Rune, Voices from the Garage and Falling Star Magazine.

A Wild of Nothing

Where every something, being blent together,
Turns to a wild of nothing.

                                             - Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I’ve lost the way. Cloud and grey air blend
Together, dimly. Tall leafless trees lend
Arching outlines, stretching end to end:
Empty foils against a formless sky. This
World has no here or there, no mine, theirs, his,
Hers. Except for the trees, real life is
Suspended; there is nothing to estrange
Or compel, even. Just blankness, strange
And overhung with dark branches that range
Around and through the sunless fog. They sway
Back and forth: first this way and then that way,
Merging places in a place that has a
Distinct lack of place to it. I'm somewhere
Between where I had meant to be and where
I was. Lost in a wild of nothing, here.

Juliegh Howard-Hobson's poetry has appeared in Mezzo Cammin, The Lyric, Soundzine, Barefoot Muse, qarrtsiluni, Poemeleon, The Raintown Review, The Chimaera, Fourteen Magazine, Caduceus: The Poets at Art Place Vol 8 (Yale University), Poets' Guide To New Hampshire (NH State Poetry Society), Best of The Barefoot Muse Anthology (Barefoot Muse Productions), and Poem, Revised: 54 Poems, Revisions, Discussions (Marion Street Press), along with many other venues (both in print and in pixel). Among various awards, she is a Million Writers Award "Notable Story" writer, a Predators and Editor's top ten finisher (single poem), and has been nominated for both the "Best of the Net" and the Pushcart Prize. Her poetry is forthcoming in Sauced! (Wordplague), Mandragora (Scarlett Imprint), Hex Magazine, The New Formalist, Trinicia, Scarlet Literary Journal, The Found Poetry Review, The Raintown Review, Persepolis, and Sonnetto Poesia. She is Assistant Poetry Editor of Able Muse.

At Bob Evans Restaurant

Bob Evans comfort food is all the rage
the menu plasticized and washable
far too thick for scratch ‘n sniff. Turn the page.
The wait staff—Rock Hudson and Betty Grable 

look-alikes—don’t tout the all-day breakfast
to all-night drivers (they’re thinking “tips”)
who swill real coffee until jowls drip drip.
These are pleasant girls and boys—by contrast

at Hooters a breast in your soup bowl
means your server trumps your culinary luck

with lifetime tales titillatingly droll.
(At Fuddruckers, who gives a fudding ruck?)

For haute cuisine you’ll want some other venue.
In the kitchen, Rock Hudson scrubs your menu.

Ed Zahniser’s poems have appeared in over 100 literary magazines in the U.S. and U.K.; three books, most recently Mall-hopping with the Great I AM (Somondoco Press, 2006); and three chapbooks, most recently Slow Down and Live, a collaboration with artist and designer Heather Watson of Pernot&Tatlin (2011). He was a founding editor of Some Of Us Press in Washington, DC, where he was born, and formerly poetry editor of Wilderness magazine and an associate poetry editor of Antietam Review. He lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where he is poetry editor of the all-volunteer community quarterly The Good News Paper. 

A Tooth for a Tooth

Humanity has set my teeth on edge
equipped with buzz saw, chisel, rasp, and file.
They pull me from the elephant and pledge
to build an ivory tower on the Nile
or in the Arctic Circle or the Sea
because I am the walrus, the “horse-whale,”
a species man has put in jeopardy
creating low relief from God’s travail.
And thinking I’m the holy unicorn
they bludgeon what’s a corpse-whale for the tusk,
the point of which the Inuits have borne
and suffered with upon the ivory dusk.
Man killed the mammoth and the mastodon—
so toothsome is this thought—he'll soon be gone.

Richard Marx Weinraub was born in New York City in 1949 and was a Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico from 1987 through 2010. His Wonder Bread Hill was published by the University of Puerto Rico Press, and Heavenly Bodies was published by Poets Wear Prada. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including The Paris Review, Asheville Poetry Review, South Carolina Review, Green Mountains Review, North American Review, Measure, Evansville Review, Slate, and River Styx.

My Coffee, My Map, My Girl
[Spenserian stanzas] 

The early thoughts, if thoughts they could be called,
Come floating in a sweet Sumatra steam
That hovers over an umber unguent I’d scald
My tongue on, just to displace a dream.
She hears my slurps, a slow-drip of caffeine
And raises a sleepy voice from the pillow to say
That I make her jealous by kissing my coffee and cream
Instead of waking her with kisses that way.
I smile, the voltage pouring down my vertebrae

And out the freeway of nerves to both my hands
That trace a crinkled roadmap charted with lust
For journeys past and future, traveling lands
With fingertips for now. The mud and dust
Of any state appeals to me. I just
Rub a certain curve of road, or stroke
The mountain path it winds, and I am thrust
Back to when I drove it, pine or oak
trees sailing past the open window. Now she's woke

and watching my thumb stretching south to where
the two of us explored the cove below
Bodega Bay and found a starfish there
That clung to rock, as bright as a flower can grow
Against the black soil; we remembered Mendocino
The year beforehere my thumb scoots north
And the beach where we lifted a dead one to throw
Back in. Along the coast, back and forth,
My fingers are searching our stories, telling a third, a fourth.

Toby Beilawski is a Bay Area writer who has published in several journals and anthologies, most recently, Spillway, Alehouse, and Tattoo Highway. Her chapbook, Five Kinds of Fences, won the New Word Order contest, and was published in 2011 by Drafty Attic Press; its poems are centered around the themes of location and navigation.

The Harvester

A quarter mile of rough hewn road,
through blocked bogs and bedrock,
rashes, thistles, ragwort, leads home.

Descending into peat bog the path
begins to sop, sog; sods of cotton dance
over oily water, rashes lurk in shallow murk.

The road sinks into hill, into heath,
as if it travels to a world beneath.
Before the crossover: machinery,

ancient steel laid down to die.
Lying on its side, the dead harvester,
like a husk thrown off by agriculture:

my corroded childhood fortress,
my hide out, my ship, aeroplane and spacecraft
looks like our enemies had the last laugh.

But in the cavern of its carcass,
from where we once peered out to battle,
I hear the wind sigh and whistle

and our attacking cry ring out
against the cows sailing past,
against marauding sheep,

against the buzzard bombers,
the lookout hare, the Shetland pony
with the curled-up feet.

Duncan Stewart Muir grew up on a small island in the Scottish Hebrides. His poetry and fiction have been published in magazines and a number of UK anthologies, including Poetry Review, Gutter, Sushirexia and The Flight of The Turtle. He currently lives in Shenyang, China, where he is at work on his first novel set on the Far-Eastern borderlands between China and Russia. 


Now that we're coasting away from the sun
Autumn's motors twirl brown leaves down,
bits and pieces, daylight's nibbled away.

But still the persistence
of how (I assume) I'd arranged.

Time will not tell, its integrity
present only in passing by.

What you want
doesn't wait like a small child at your side,
raising its arms to be lifted.

Gerald Solomon was born in London and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. After a short spell as Sales Assistant at a bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road, he worked as a producer at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Subsequently becoming engaged in education, he helped found General Studies courses at Hornsey College of Art, and this led eventually to what he describes as an "enjoyable" period teaching poetry courses at Middlesex University. Gerald retired early in order to paint and write. His poems have appeared in numerous magazines in the USA and UK as he prepares his first collection. He is married with four children, and lives in Manhattan. 

Touch as Touch Can

Start from tremble.

Feel her spine,
not her reasoning,
in the fresh palms
across the hard black
parking lot tar.
Powwows of touch,
quiet skin eddies,
my fingers gentle near her breasts
like the landing of songbirds.
And yes, I sing,
though not above a whisper.
Her ears are fondled,
nothing more.
On to the marsh,
then the beach's gritty sand
that scratches her thighs.

And the sea-spray
roughing up my face.
Everything about outdoor love
is minimal points of contact.
Waves tickle her toes.
play my part.
Wind flutters my hair
like her lingers
shucked of flesh and bone.
Eater, sun poached,
lying thigh to thigh.

A series of nudges
that stick to our sides.
Then it's time to leave,
time to hasten the narrative.
Tonight, we could make love,
lie inside each other,
the sum of all we've done already. 

John Grey is an Australian-born poet who works as a financial systems analyst. His writing is recently published or forthcoming in Poem, Caveat Lector, Prism International, Potomac Review, Hurricane Review and Pinyon, and the horror anthology, What Fears Become.

The Hard Look of Words

A fitting text, my careful friend, is one
With layers, nay, a hard incrustation
Of irony and sarcastic scar-tissue won
in trust's gradual evaporation,
And one which, unfelt, penetrates
Through staring dullness, its outraged grace
Passing easily through the guarded gates
Of dim awareness, though the stupid face
Senses no betrayal of its nerves.
Here it comes, like funereal light,
The fatal omen faithlessness deserves.
The wrong justice to set injustice right.
Like a ruby laser through a dusty keyhole,
It finds your startled heart, your naked soul.

R.W. Haynes writes in South Texas, where he leads an academic life. His current interest in literary criticism produced the 2010 critical study, The Major Plays of Horton Foote.

A Villanelle While We Wait for a Future When the Other Cheek Is Never Turned
An iron staircase winding down or up
through shrapnel penetrations that leave brick
and opened doors inviting some to leap.

To what beyond? A pine branch glassed with sap
while crooked crosses, bullet-stricken, list?
That iron staircase, winding down or up

toward skies where emigration is a stop,
and guides the disregarded, safely, quick
past opened doors inviting some to leap.

As if there can be answers beyond pap
when human lives get tossed and fires lick
an iron staircase, winding down or up.

Perhaps it’s only questions we should ask.
The why and why and why—eternal trick,
those opened doors inciting all to leap.

And so, we’re kismet-bound, straight for the trap
where hatred casts us infidels, swift kick—
that iron staircase winding down or up.
Those opening doors inviting us: Do     leap. 

Old, New, Broken, Blue

Every day, our blues
blew, operatic
trills in triple time
with every attempt
at tangible, wed
-locked talk.

You, the liar, washed
my mouth with soap. While
I, recidivist
smoker, lit up stubs,
studying them blue
until you doused each
blaze and dowsed for drink

light came—the willow,
its dithery leaves
and branches bowed till
one limb snapped inside
our parentheses
of pain.

Blue note to this tale?
You fled.

Following that, our
correspondence grew
tattered, your ballads
belated and blue.

to think, after all
this time, I duly
divined, expected
really—we’d finish
our days side by side
in those nursing home
rockers, trading toasts

to Rufus Wainwright’s
version of Leonard
Cohen’s “Hallelujah”

On the Longest Night of the Year, a New Mother Learns to Sew the Words "Domestic" and "Violence"
[double triolet]

The winter solstice snow drifts in the street.
Inside, a woman's woes are deepening black.
She rocks the cradled newborn at her feet.
As solstice snowdrifts barricade the street, 
a darkness swift surrounds the woodstove’s heat. 
Her husband stomped off bootless, leaving tracks. 
On sidewalk slate, he’s drifted past their street. 
Inside one woman, woes are deepening. Black 
as crooked thread-lines running down a quilt. 
She fears alone. Long gone, the time to stitch 
or patch this world where innocence turned wilt. 
Undone the running thread-lines in this quilt. 
Oh, how she craves a lullaby of lilt 
but in the settling nightfall, hope’s unlit, 
invisible as thread-lines down a quilt. 
The fears soon come. Her threadbare life, unstitched.

Nancy Flynn hails from the anthracite coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania where, at an early age, she fell in love with words instead of into a sinkhole or the then-polluted Susquehanna River. She lived for many years on a creek in Ithaca, New York. In 1998, she married the scientist whose house once hosted parties where Vladimir Nabokov chain-smoked cigarettes. They packed up their Conestoga Volvo 850 and headed for the foothills of the Oregon Coast Range, finally settling in Portland in 2007. More about her past lives and a complete list of her print and online publications can be found at

3725 Frazier Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

I was the first to smell the smoke of myth.
My brothers and sisters laughed, seven
Round the kitchen table, rekindling the past.
Tales of squabbles and pranks, wild bedlam.
As though there were no harm, nor hurt,
As though we never cowered, never cried.

Have they forgotten the red point of light
As she inhaled, then sipped a cold Iron City,
Left by her steelworker brothers,
In our white Westinghouse fridge?
As though Mom didn’t rage and holler,
As though she broke no hearts.

Prying open long-ago, painted-shut windows, I see
Myself, the oldest girl at fourteen, home alone with
Six younger siblings—diapers, dishes and long division,
Then off to bed. I kept vigil for night cries and headlights.
As though this wasn’t too much to expect of me,
As though no one saw that I was still a child.

My mother’s childhood home still stands
Above the mills now dormant, rivers clean.
No flames ignite the skies; nor soot mars that steel city.
Yet her children watch through smoke-stained glass,
As though she stands at the Formica counter,
As though her hazel eyes brighten at their banter.

I was the first to smell the smoke of myth,
Choking and suffocating, our making—

 At Four: A Birth Pantoum 

My grandson wants to know about babies.
His sister (he himself) was once that small
Deep in the mountain of Mommy’s belly.
He wonders “how babies get out,” that’s all.

His sister (he himself) was once that small,
A tiny creature trapped and kicking.
He wonders “how babies get out,” that’s all.
“How do doctors do their helping?”

A tiny creature trapped and kicking!
His mother struggles with his inquiry.
“How do doctors do their helping?”
How can she satisfy his curiosity?

His mother struggles with his inquiry.
“Through the birth canal, that’s it.”
How can she satisfy his curiosity?
“What’s a canal?” “A waterway.” She’s quick.

Through the birth canal. That’s it.
“Babies can’t swim. The birth canal?” he resists.
What’s a canal? It’s a waterway! She’s quick.
“Is it on the side or back?” His questioning persists.

“Babies can’t swim. The birth canal?” he resists.
Deep in the mountain of Mommy’s belly,
“Is it on the side or back?” His questioning persists.
My grandson wants to know about babies.

“It’s the mother’s vagina,” she surrenders.
Then silence.

Jane Attanucci spent her first career as a professor of psychology and women’s studies. Since retiring, her work has appeared in Contemporary Haibun, The Healing Muse and Transformations.


I sleep with ancient verses in my mind,
and listen to recorded poets as
I drive around our city, mostly lost,
thinking of evening, when I may write

a few words down, rejoicing, unconfined
by any walls of flame our timesmith has
constructed, with their blazing timbers crossed
in soaring arches overhead, their height

delineating visionary dreams,
the cruciformed transcendence we portray
in our best moments, when the daylight seems
eternal, though the rushing disarray

of dark comes on in silence, and nightbirds
rehearse in choir half-forgotten words.

W.F. Lantry, a native of San Diego, currently of Washington, D.C., holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Recent honors for him include the National Hackney Literary Award, CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Poetry Prize, and Atlanta Review International Publication Prize. His work has appeared in The Wallace Stevens Journal, James Dickey Review, Gulf Coast and Aesthetica. The Language of Birds (Finishing Line Press 2011) is his lyric retelling of Attar’s Conference of the Birds. 

The Potato Heads Part Ways

We walk together through the fields of spuds.
I turn to grow more freckles on my face.
Wiping knees, where the rusty fence drew blood,
we walk together through the fields. My spud,
I have to break your heart in this, our place.
We walk together. Through the fields of spuds,
I turn away to grow with freckled face.

You'll Wear a Sleeve in Summer

Don’t you want to dance well at your wedding?
The sleeve’s a necessary sacrifice.
The skin will be protected; potent shedding
of scar tissue would force us to excise

the damaged area on your frail arm.
The summer’s heat will surely make you sweat,
but suffering through discomfort when it’s warm
will increase patience, helping to abet

for months where you will wear tape on the scar.
We need to make it level to the skin
(Most scars will naturally pucker inward).
However, for a month you must begin

by shielding arm from sunlight’s metronome,
donning a sleeve for protection against
a sunburned scar that could become a dome.
summer’s thermostat swiftly will progress

and cause a blister that will not soon shrink.
We know we will not have to tell you twice.
(If so, consider what your groom would think.)
You’ll wear this sleeve and trust our sage advice.

A Delivery for Bird-Brother
[terza rima] 

The big machine comes to our former haven.
We had hoped for rain to nourish the crops;
the sky, though, was clear; the only clouds, ravens

who hover above the end rows, then stop—
(they look for the fallen kernels of corn).
Hear the blades rotate, beginning to chop?

It is a technology new to Doorn.
My brother has mastered its levels and pulls;
the ravens hush-whisper as he, dear Bjorn,

transitions to this, rather than the bulls,
and ploughs o’er our field with great racing speed.
Harvest sun on his sweater, a dark navy wool:

I watch as he flies through the rows, recedes
toward the horizon, a raven-like breed.

Mary-Kaylor Hanger is an emerging poet currently studying in Chatham University's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program.

[from Sonnets for Dante] 

The grass collected prisms formed of dew.
We hadn’t meant to stay until the fire
burned to gemstones—without shoes,
we hid cold feet, refusing to get tired,
burrowed into folding chairs. A haze
of ashes curled in our hair to lie
lingering, a scent that would not stay.
Hills pushed back the edges of the sky
like cuticles, I thought: a human image,
readily forgotten when one point
of night flared out, blazed a celestial bridge
to somewhere for a moment, then went
out like a light. In darkness, we assured
each other we had seen it, bright, absurd.

Erin Lynch is a native Oregonian, currently earning her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at University of North Texas.

RAIN: for A Day Book To Come 

Flat, gray sky behind black winter weed trees, very tall, but still, I think,
The unbearable urbane, yet strangely kind, but not in the same way as
Great Oaks, or pine, no, these trees end in thin pen
Scratches on an all-day rain sort of day in early winter,
And not one living hint of squirrel or bird,
No gossiping herd of thrush or sparrow, no hawkish flint,
No Cardinal’s cheer heard, it’s as if all those went in one
Stroke extinct.

And the sky behind, blank, penniless of beast or bird,
Yet oddly bespoke to blank places come upon to write on if you are one
Given to grabbing a pen, and, why not just write another damn
Poem called “Rain,” to help you remember, no, forget the above
Notion of a puddle to cross on some
Sir Walter Raleigh’s thrown down cape, or even
A Huck and Jim, that pair of rivery boys becoming men
Always thinking escape.

No, when it comes to my grief today
I’m thinking something closer to the now
Thought of, yes, a great biblical rain
That thought alone is enough to just be that, an archetypal tale of
How it rained and rained and rained. And, well, that was that,
Thus came the oceans,
Then stopped, dried everyone before the
Fire, then taught them how to obey the moon, which, in turn,
Vowed to always return to grace the night sky.

And why not? But of course beauty tends to fall on her own sword,
Her troubles just multiplied
Reverted to this always darkening God of gods,
Always changing his or her mind in mid-thought,
Back to the first day: that Genesis of the unrecorded deaths of all birds,
And beasts, all girls, all boys, all lands, even (what felt at the time)
Like way more than enough love, but followed hard upon those enduring
Long hard days and days of tears, reverting sadly depressed again like ships sitting
Windless for long days that feel like years.
Now I‘ve finished my Rain poem, and looked up then, and saw just this
One day die,
Like all days, hiding her few remaining shekles in her glove, she was finally
Able to sigh out her thanks that, after all, this was just a day, like all days,
Just what happened, reprising that lovely, India ink scribble of trees. Yes,
Just one day, like all days, as fierce as the Sun. 

Mary Riley, at the age of 72, received an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. Her thesis, Please Return objects touched, kissed, loved (or which touched, kissed, love you back, was runner up for the best MFA thesis in the creative nonfiction category at Chatham in 2007-08. She is published in periodicals, journalistic pieces, The Times Picayune, and the Harrisburg Patriot News, gaining inspiration from any place where she’s lived and worked. Her poetry has appeared twice in the past two years in Off the Coast, Art Crimes 21, and 3x5 Print, among other literary journals. She publishes with some regularity short op-end pieces and lyric essays in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Green Star, the newsletter of the Allegheny County Green party, has published many of her poems. The Friends Journal published a memoir piece, “The Civil War Swords.” She is an opiate reader in all these genres every day of her life.

The Cancun Cycle


Robert Isenberg is a writer, photographer and stage performer based in Pittsburgh. His work has appeared broadly. Robert's poetry collection, Wander, was released by Six Gallery press last year.