Monday, April 20, 2015

Blast Furnace Volume 5, Issue 1

Ode to Ink

This would be
the first entry in ink
these pages have seen
and yet, how fitting.

Perhaps it is you, dear ink
that’s been the vixen all along
keeping me captive by your curved
lines and willingness to just
let me write, mispellpings and all

for the sake of getting it written
so that in the days that pass,
I can reach out and feel
the length of all your lines
as they remind my hand
your will I spill onto

how unique is this journal
in all its pencil     carved lead into shapes
that bend to the slant of my tongue,
that you, ink, arrived in a moment
that needed to be different
for me to understand the permanence
of my word to stay     involved, engaged
inextricably linked like grains of sand.

Jason Vasser lives and writes in Saint Louis, Missouri, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. His work has appeared in The Sphinx, Prairie Gold: An anthology of America’s Heartland, The St. Louis Post Dispatch, UMSL’s Bellerive publication, and others.

The One That Got Away

It’s not about the nine and a half inch perch
my father made me throw back
when I was only eight years old.

It’s not even about the college baseball
player I let go, the one-helluva-great-guy
who called me in May to share the good
news that he’d signed with the Red Sox.

It’s about the poem that woke me last night.
A gentle fireworks of precise nouns,
exact verbs, sliding into place—
line after lyrical line sustained
by a scaffold of ingenious metaphors.
It was art without adverbs
brilliantly compacting itself into a gift
the world would want to open.

Surely I would remember every word

Michelle M. Ott is a writer who lives in southeast Michigan.

Not asking the sky to come down to my good will, scattering it freely forever

The crow’s compass swings wildly.
See him tumble from the sky, a flung rag,
a scrap of darkness plummeting.

I want to own such reckless practice.
To find the taproot of doubt and dig it out,
be scraped clean on the sun-bleached soil.

Saint Crow, I am a shabby petitioner.
One of your feathers tucked behind my ear,
I am hungry for your sprung song gospel.

Teach me how to scull through the day
with wings pinioned, lucky, afflicted,
ready to abandon this broken and whole.

When I woke this morning, night’s trespass
still on the water but horizon igniting,
I pledged myself to your gape-mouthed ministry.

Hurl me beyond the wildfire of my mind
into air. Into that crystalline shatter
so I might, like too-bright light, scatter.

Up there toward the winter sky

Resident of sleepless
3 a.m., the moon
flings itself from behind

a blind mountain.
Bankrupt cottonwoods
remember their small

deaths and rattle
shadow. I wind
the clock of my life

backward, sort path
from blunder.
Ice beneath everything.

I was an accident,
but I meant no harm.
How easy it is

now to enumerate
the many small

that have worn
my clothing. So simple
to discount kindness

like flickers of chipped
starlight traveling.
To never calculate

distance or love.
I thought forever
was broken. Wrong,

again. Snow
from a clear sky,
not memory.

Erin Hollowell has been published most recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environment, Permafrost, Border Crossings and Sugar House Review. She has work forthcoming in Prairie Schooner. Her first collection, Pause, Traveler was published in 2013 by Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press. Erin has received a Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship, the Connie Boochever Award, an Alaskan Literary Award, and a Rona Jaffe Scholarship to Bread Loaf.

February Journal: Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rime frost whispers diamonds along the
wild Rhododendron leaves as they stand
in solo eagerness above the
wetland muck and underbrush. Sunlight
cascades over distant warehouse roofs
along the tracks setting alight the leaves’
chandeliers. They flare silently in
silver facets of clinking crystal.
Their silence calls out to the raucous
duck flock paddling across the low
sky like beginning swimmers. Blinds
drawn wide, the window can’t take back its
astonishment. It simply lets the
coffee mug’s steam exhale as it cools.

February Journal: Monday, February 4, 2013
Intermittent wipers clear fine-mesh
rain from homebound evening windshields. Clouds
press foamy fog down across barren
tree lines. Fireplace smoke sputters up from
chimneys. Too weak to push away the
clouds, it folds back across the roofs. It swings
piquant incense censers down across
driveways. It breathes toasted cedar scent
into gaping mouths of raised trunk lids
and deposits light residues on
damp haired drivers unloading grocery
bags. The low clouds lock arms in a closed
circle to block the enervated
sun. Frigid rain stiffens its resolve.

February Journal: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Reflected light pales the dome of cloud. The
lower edges search for lost horizons
behind the predawn woods. Earth exhales
swaths of smoke-drift fog. Horizons can’t
be found. Backed by gray haze, woodland trees—
across the street—out behind the gate—wave
straight stark trunks and black boney branches.
Like agitated kelp forests in
slow milky gray currents, they sway their
unsynchronized upturned pendulums.
Bare legs in rubber thongs crouch over
bushes to find the morning news. Its
paper’s damp. Predawn reports its news:
restlessness, dank gray and  heavy dew.

Don Mager’s chapbooks and volumes of poetry are To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns and The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook Drive Time and Russian Riffs. He is retired with degrees from Drake University (BA), Syracuse University (MA) and Wayne State University (PhD). He was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004, where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (2005-2011). In addition to a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian. He lives in Charlotte, NC.

Texas (Three Fragments)

Turbines tumble tumble through the hot air,
Like the wings of the archangels who chased
Night and chaos over the rim of the world in
The wrath of God’s creation, and came to rest
In the soft light of the first morning of Texas.

There today the light before light with everything
Quiet except for the birds screaming in the dim
Trees and your thoughts wandering after those
Who have died or who are serving overseas or
What you’re chasing and what it pays and why it’s
Necessary, before you rise and dress and in your
Car rushing rushing with all the rest eight lanes
Of impatience furious to eat the endless distance
Between bed and the towering diamond-blue glass
Fortresses of wealth, the office parks with graceful
Trees and glittering fountains, the new merchant
Plazas on the new black roads, the box stores, the
Strip malls wearied by sun and subsistence, the
Cinder-block workshops, steel-tooled and machine
Oiled, the trailer-offices squatting on the site of
New prospect or old defeat, ragged air appliance
Rasping out feeble cool against vinyl-metal heat,
The heavy industry fairie kingdoms cracking crude
To naphtha kerosene paraffin diesel sulfur and tar,
The glinting purgatories of health, the dingy rooms
Machine bedded and ravaged age, the grey cubicles
Of counseled grief, kitchen, corridor, laundry, house
Children, house children, house children, eight lanes
Of hunger blood throbbing through interstates and
Access roads, vivid desire and dull necessity in metal
Boxes rushing everywhere, life mind heart rushing,
Until day ends, retirement eases, or death comes to
Tally his final accounts.


Nature loves all her children hard, but she loves her
Texas children harder; sends them with a laugh and
A kick out the door to find something for supper.

This rich land will wrestle you, take your youth, take
Your strength, give you cash in cattle, cotton, corn,
Sorghum, and wheat. This hard red earth more scab
Than skin will yield hard living if scraped, pierced,
Worked in dust and heat, through relentless sun,
Asphalt fume, with truck and tool and no excuses:
No one to catch you if you fall and no one asking
To be caught.


There’s no fair fighting for our hard machines:
Time and earth will take them, concrete, circuit,
Polymer, steel, with one puff float all into endless
Mind, soft seeds blown from the dandelion head;
No fair fighting for our tender bodies, time frail,
Flesh blood bone souls man woman child, all
Floating, angels tumbling tumbling through the
Cooling air, the soft light, the last evening of Texas.

Peter McEllhenney is a writer living in Philadelphia, PA. His work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories and The Apeiron Review.

Step Mother

There is a woman in the living room
barefoot in a straight backed chair
guitar across her knees
chords hang in a slow strum
in the heavy Kentucky air.

She’s singing love songs again
while the man she married
pours corn mash into his hidden still
miles from the dark holler they call home.

There is supper on the table, one meal
made at noon. Cornbread and vinegar doused greens
remains wait for his kids get home from school.
They’ll drizzle raw honeycomb on the pie-sliced bread,
polish off cold ham and beans and wash the pans while she croons.

Church folk say he saved her from the roadhouse,
slunk as she was over the juke,
the only two dollar whore
that ever called him by his Christian name,
made him feel like a righteous man.
Her hymns on Sunday morning, tobacco laced, redeemed.

Herkimer Man Accused of Having Heroin, Gun

It’s a small article in the OD (The Observer Dispatch),
a paper left in the kitchen of the Adirondack Lodge

where I’m trying to disconnect and write for the week.
I thought I wanted world news. Maybe Ebola had taken over.

Herkimer is a nickname my mother used for us kids.
After my daughter was born she called her “Herk” for short.

Before I left my mother asked me to use hand sanitizer
in all the airports where I had layovers.

The article doesn’t say much more than the gun was loaded.
A judge set his bail. We haven’t left the park all week—

the lake, the grounds, or the rooms that smell both of hard sap
and old change. A woman cooks for us and we compose all day,

canoe on dark water, commune at sunset over wine.
We swap bullets and arrows of the heart. I hint

about family addiction, about a cousin who awaits
sentencing, the rotted teeth of my brother.

I think of my mom, how it’s not that she can’t see this headline,
but her refusal to see beyond the tattoos on his train-wrecked arms.

Herkimer Man Accused of Heroin, Gun.
We don’t need newsprint to tell us it will rain.

The sky is black and paper pulp. I wash my hands no more,
no less, than I usually do. She can’t see it; we’re too far apart.

Flushed maple leaves fall on ancient mossed stones—sweet decay
cedar-flung, cigarillo of birch leaves un-smoked but gone to ash.

Kierstin Bridger is a Colorado writer and a Mark Fischer Poetry Prize winner. She is editor in “sheaf” of Ridgway Alley, co-director of Open Bard Poetry Series and contributing writer for Telluride Inside Out. Her work can be found in Prime Number, Memoir, Thrush Poetry Journal, Mason’s Road, Pilgrimage, The Best of Spilt Infinitive 2013 Anthology, and elsewhere. She received her MFA degree at Pacific University.

Filching Apples from Wallingfords

I asked, and he pulled the truck up
beside the orchard, so I could wade
through thigh-deep grass to choose
two perfect apples.

They were McCouns, clean and sound,
a soft blush on their sloping shoulders,
resting roundly in my cupped hands
as I struggled back to the road.

I was a girl, impetuous, with little notion
of my own power. When he took the apple
I offered, neither of us realized he was saying
yes to me then, yes to me now, yes
to every forbidden thing.

1980 Did Not Settle Anything

We are still being taken for
starlight tours, still being

subject to the freezing deaths,
stone children being turned

to our names. Where the branches
of yellow birch became many rivers

our men are only allowed two fish
for their mealsnone for the women

or children. We need justice for
the waters, we need to drum until

four eagles come to listen. We
need to fight until whenever, breach

the dams like a man-made-from-
nothing, come down from the great

mountain, taking the world pine in our
hands, busting open that monster frog.

Sonja Johanson attended College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, ME. She currently serves as the training coordinator for the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. Sonja has work out or forthcoming in The Albatross, Off the Coast, and Still: the Journal, and was a participating writer in the Found Poetry Review’s 2014 Oulipost Project. She divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

My Girlfriend Loves to Point Out
   My Mistakes

It’s exhaustive, thunderclap repetitions
of forks in wrong places. I don’t make the bed
the right way. I didn’t know there was a right way.
I thought there was just a bed, a driveway, a car, a home.

She says I don’t fall down the stairs correctly. She tumbles,
all of her necks snapping, the legs like two enemies of the ground,
the shriveling at the bottom of the stairs. There’s something so impressively
Evil Dead about it. I say she’s right. I tell her to step aside. I throw myself down

three flights. She tells me to forget it. She’ll throw everything down the steps herself.
I watch the bed go, the plants, the lamp, the neighbors, the funeral, the priest, the talk, God.
They all fall with such precision.

Ron Riekki‘s books include U.P., The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), and Here (May 2015, Michigan State University Press).

At the Tow Pound

A frigid January night at the Tow Pound, Pier 76, Manhattan,
where we locate our purloined car—towed ten minutes after
our weekend arrival—and we join a line of twenty other
disgruntled car owners, all wearing expressions of
We have been here too long. A single window open for
transactions, one lone teller managing the sad stories,
the rage, the “I can’t believe”s (No, I told you, my mother
doesn’t have an alias), as one by one we hand over licenses,
then are ferried to our cars, two by two in a cruiser,
to extract registrations, under the watchful eye of one
of New York’s Finest. According to a young black man
in line, who heard in the barbershop from someone
in the know, police have stepped up their ticketing
and towing following last week’s slow-down, a protest
against the Mayor, who they said didn’t have their backs
in recent killings of unarmed black men by white officers.
            Our parking sins are many: doubled up, wrong side
of the street, too close to a hydrant. Our skin tones run from
Irish white through Ivory Coast. Several languages, staccato
diction, accents running the gamut.  Our moods range from
histrionic to seething, from bland to entitled. A chauffeur
whose limo was towed has lost out on tonight’s pay. Shift
workers need to get back to work. A teen pregnant with twins
stares daggers at her boyfriend and refuses to sit down.
A FedEx driver’s truck was towed while he was double-
parked, making a delivery.  Only after license and registration
are united will we be allowed to pay, with cash (handy,
the ATM just inside the door) or credit card (a 2.49%
transaction fee for the privilege).
            More miscreants stomp in from the bitter cold,
some with cocky grins, some with expressions reading
My mother / boss / girlfriend is going to kill me,
but all of us just want to pay, put our misdeeds behind us,
just get the hell out of Dodge. We shift and slump
in our queue, applaud wildly when a second window opens,
and then another, and finally I reach my own window,
converse with a slow agent who taps one finger to a key,
then looks at the screen, then another tap, carefully
studying the information. Maybe I over-read
my inquisitor’s sidewise glance, but I begin to wonder
is my FBI file on the screen? I’d always wondered
what it containsthose shady hippies I spent time with
in the ‘60s, that Weatherman boyfriend, those demonstrations
against the war in Viet Nam: In combination with today’s
fire hydrant violation, might they constitute an algorithm
by which I could lose my car? What other charges
might be visited upon any of us as the line slogs on, as we
approach the glass confessionals in this dingy gray room,
the kind of room that in some way we all know by heart?
Now the teen says loudly to her boyfriend,
What part of ‘I’m hungry’ don’t you understand?  
The chauffeur winces, stares at the floor. We are all
guilty as charged, forlorn as puppies at the pound.
In search of a noble phrase, I might quote Milton:
We also serve who only stand and wait. But the real
saving grace will be stamped on our paperwork
in capital red letters as each of us exits
the Pier 76 Tow Pound: REDEEMED.

Nancy Hewitt's chapbook Heard was published in 2013 by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry has appeared or will be appearing in Mid-American Review, Prism Review, Phoebe, The Comstock Review, Off the Coast and other journals. Nancy's awards include the Nancy Hargrove Editors' Prize for Poetry from Jabberwock Review and a Pushcart Prize nomination. She is a clinical social worker who for over 30 years has maintained a private psychotherapy practice in Salem, MA. Nancy is the first Poet Laureate of Swampscott, MA, and divides her time between Swampscott and East Randolph, VT.

Trayvon Martins Greenhouse,
   In Memoriam

50’² aluminum-framed quonset style greenhouse with 40’ dome,
and Tedlar-coated fiberglass windows, thirteen rows of raised 15’X3’
flower beds of American chestnut wood separated by 1’ each 6” off
porous concrete ground, western-most bed 400 white roses, eastern-
most bed 400 indigo dahlias, center-most bed 400 red poinsettias, Crosley
CR704C-PA Musician 3-Speed Turntable with CD/Cassette Player on small
1.5’ tall, 6” diameter circular white side table, vinyl of “Changes” by Tupac
Shakur skipping at 1’34”.

Eric Garners Greenhouse,
   In Memoriam

75’² dome-shaped greenhouse, 25’ high, donated glass from Bay
Street businesses, double glazed, bubble wrap for insulation,
frames donated and constructed from extra pine wood from
Al Sharpton’s Harlem apartment, spiral path inside greenhouse
with dahlias at the center, red yellow and green peppers in first
ring of sprial, bok choi spinach and romaine lettuce in second
ring, broccoli snap peas and green beans in third ring, tomatoes
and carrots in fourth ring, onions garlic and potatoes in final ring.
Soil spread with wood chips from ground-up protest signs, apple trees
growing in north south east and west corners of greenhouse,
entrance ways at north and south of greenhouse, 6’X4’ door of double glazed glass,
compressed bubble wrap for insulation, live internet streaming video
of Judith Hill performing at 202 Bay Street in Staten Island on silver
MacBook Air.

Anne Franks Studio Apartment,
   In Memoriam

Teak wood flooring, beams intersecting perpendicularly leaving 1”X1”
squares of space at each intersection, intersecting beams also in
ceiling 12’ from floor, 10’X12’ thin willow wall on right side, 10’X12’
maple wood on left side with inserted book case containing Jerusalem
Torah translated into French, English, German and Latin. After 10’,
Ceiling expands to 40’ made out of rolling hills of cherry wood, 75
varieties of medicinal plants hanging in crystal pots including 20 aloe
vera plants, 10 chamomile, 5 stinging nettle, 10 arnica, 10 calendula,
10 rosemary, 5 garlic roots, 5 plantain. 4 40’X20’ walls of maple,
willow and cherry wood panels laid side-by-side, inserted book shelves
15’X5’ on east wall opposite entranceway with the Babylonian Torah
translated into Italian, French, German, English, Russian, Slovakian,
Finnish, Dutch and Spanish. Complete oeuvre of Lois Lowry and Krista
Wolf. Leather-bound King James Version of the Bible and Holy Qu’ran.
Single marble coffee table with 4 dark brown wool pillows surrounding it
and single light yellow beeswax candle lit.

Brennan Burnside's work has been featured in digital and print publications such as Aux/Vox, Lost Coast Review, Gold Dust and Queen's Head. His writing was most recently featured at the Glasgow Zine Fest. His chapbook, Room Studies, will be published by Dink Publishing at the end of this month. Brennan blogs at and lives near Philadelphia.

To the Man on the Platform

He staggered off the train and I knew he would come for me,
eyes lit like the wick of a Molotov cocktail headed for my windows.
He leaned too close. I could smell the alcohol at the bottom of the bottle.

You're beautiful. I stood both feet flat on the ground,
gave my patented, personalized, practiced death stare:
laser eyes, singed brows and skin.
No one looks at us, frozen in a cold tableau on wet concrete.

He veers away, Your problem, walks away.
It took the closing of steel doors, distance of dark tunnels,
three t stops to let me begin breathing again.

Yes, it's my problem. Because I'm young, alone,
because I've got a plush mouth like bruised flower petals.
I have small hands, round hips; because they tell me I roll them when I walk.
His daughter probably had dolls with big blue eyes like mine.
Because it was the second time a man invaded my space today,
the fourth this week, the millionth since I turned thirteen
and grew breasts I was unsure how to contain.

Isabel Mader lives in the Greater Boston Area where she wears many hats as a student, writer, and full-time employee. Her previously published work can be viewed via her Linkedin page. In her spare time, she cooks, reads, and pets cats and rough surfaces.

Before the Happy Ending, the Glass Slippers Muse on Their Mistake

Right: We clinked together softly in the fairy godmother’s dark pocket.

Left: We moved together gracefully in minuets and waltzes.

R: We ignored the poignant foreshadowing of the violins.

L: We ignored the warning chimes of the clock.

R: One moment we were poised in a curtsy, the next we were tripping down the palace steps. A brief hesitationthe other slipper left behind.

L: Her foot gone in a rush of cold air. The other slipper echoing down the steps. Then shouting and the scuffing of boots.

R: I felt the girl’s hot tears before she wrapped me in worn flannel and hid me deep under her rags in the corner.

L: I felt a hot hand, a brush of lips, then the darkness of another pocket.

R: It’s a curious rite I’m the center of now. Unwrapped and wept over, daily.

L: It’s a curious rite I’m the center of now. Foot after foot after foot.

Martha Christina’s short poems appear frequently in Brevities and Three Line Poetry, and her longer work has appeared in Bryant Literary Review, Common Ground Review, Main Street Rag, The Orange Room Review and elsewhere.

Triptych in Heat


The road is a long, black bone,
grained, etched, naked
in the sun. Welts buckle
at each edge. Thick air like ripe
char or singed feathers swells
in the heat. Trees stand back,
parched, pointing their scar-
ended limbs into gaps, the before
and after spaces we anticipate
or abandon, the intimate possibilities
we negotiate where any road splits.


Steaming, dark creosote burns
mouse feet, cat paws, any starling
that mistakes the glossy tar for a deep,
black pool, for a short, sleek runway
that wins the sky. The journey swallows
us, sweeps us by swollen fields, even
as a dark surf of soil eddies
toward us. Will we leave something
sunken there, something
sodden and unsaid?


Sedges, wild oats, the crisp blades
of switch grass, all move south
by the side of our car, bend below
the weighted sky, wave us on
like arthritic fingers, feeble, unable
to fan-cool the air that steams,
the persistent tar that binds. Our map
ends. We have somehow driven
as far as the road goes.

Sheryl White is an artist, a painter, and exploring writer, and live in Boston.

Celebrating Six Years of Marriage,
   June 15, 2009
Mountain Point, Ketchikan, Alaska

Was it a mistake to follow eleven other divers,
mask on, breathing through a snorkel, head down,
while gazing at the wonders of the Alaskan ocean?

Giant sea kelp, spiky urchins, red sea cucumbers—
I turned towards the soft coral only to be shocked
to see a grove of long grass, like jonquils, growing

in the intertidal zone. I swam towards the living
flowers. I followed them. I couldn’t help myself.
I was reminded, in one large sigh, that you loved me,

and I reached for a tiny, pink starfish. I looked up
in a cry of exaltation to see you floating nearby,
treading water.  The other divers were far ahead.

It was our anniversary, and I was not alone at sea.

Caroline Johnson enjoys watching movies with her father, especially James Bond movies. She has published two poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork, and in 2013 was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2012 she won first place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Poetry Contest, and has published poetry and fiction in DuPage Valley Review, Prairie Light Review, Encore, Chicago Tribune, New Scriptor, The Quotable, Rambunctious Review, and others. She teaches community college English in the Chicago area. Visit her blog at

Only the Fireworks Matter

At midnight the burble and pop
of fireworks sift through the forest.
The brooks run black and full.

Nodding over books at my desk
I’m dividing this word from that word
and parsing sentences the color

of last summer’s garden. The senses
crumble as I drowse. The brooks,
sinuous and toxic, curl

around me, hissing. Dry leaves skip
across snowdrifts hard as agate.
The junk-shop of winter stars rattles

as the fireworks confront it.
The world divides on a dotted line
with me on one side and clusters

of buzzing citizens beyond.
Or so the cold window glass suggests.
Maybe the brooks winding, unwinding

are muscles working out. Maybe
the fireworks form speech balloons
replete with friendly greetings.

No angles in that cluttered sky,
but something white and flimsy
has tattered where treetops hedge

along the border of the cosmos.
It could be the ghost of desires
that whimpered and died long ago.

Or it could be pages torn from bibles
with print too small for me to read.
Tonight only the fireworks matter.

The crowds that have gone to see them
will come home shivering in wool
and down, and the children,

up too late, will remember this night
in spangles and bursts of color
no sunswept passion could match.

William Doreski

For what are Stars but Asterisks
To point a human Life?
                                -Emily Dickinson

In the dark planetarium
of your imagination,
you wonder,
if Dickinson were alive today,
how bold would she be,
how public, like a blog?

See that constellation
connected in cyberspace?
Not Virgo, with her shaft of wheat,
but Emily Dickinson
—pen in hand—
in her long white dress.

Among the stars, countless
as the number of times Emily
considered “Eternity”—
imagine her bending rules
on the Internet, or self-promoting,
then keening, exulting.

From that domed, pensive place—
think of Dickinson wheeling
through cyberspace: If she stumbled,
or if she were dissed,
would her diadem of stars

scatter like wildflowers
on a field of study—
or shatter to dust of nebula?

Ten Boxes of Poems Reduced to One

So much for those wild years when poetry meant more
than my life and both suffered for it.
I threw away too much
for those poems; now I crumple
my paper past, vanish

evidence of colorful characters,
who haven’t aged well in black and white:
vagabonds I bonded with, students
of life I studied, artists whose works drew me—
whose lives terrified.

I thought I was thinking
outside the box,
but too much ended up inside.
So I’m throwing the box away.

I read with forbearance,
then toss poems like snowballs
that managed to survive Hell—
sometimes in quadruplicate.

More than one poem I trash three times,
then spare when it resurfaces,
uncanny as a recurring dream
that garners meaning.

It gives me pause: What else in a trice
have I sloughed of my pensiveness?
Banished to the recycler,

those yellowed onionskins
become spotless, virgin white—someone else’s

fresh start:

Laura Glenn has a book of poems, I Can’t Say I’m Lost, published by FootHills Publishing. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Antioch Review, Boulevard, Cortland Review, Epoch, Green Mountains Review, Literal Latté, Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Poetry, Rattapallax, and the anthology, A Fragile Index of the World. She is the recipient of a CAP fellowship in poetry and a poetry grant from AE Ventures, and is working on a second book of poems. Also a visual artist, Laura lives in Ithaca, NY, where she works as a freelance editor.

Ghosts of Filicide
Based on “Ivan the Terrible and his son Ivan” by Ilya Repin

His foot must have caught
on the rug, its crimson pattern
mounded as though a root
had burst through the floor
with his fall. The father holds
his wounded son, palm across
a bloodied forehead, arm
circling the waist, as if the son
had wakened from a nightmare,
running from that unseen predator
that splits a fissure
through crags of the mind. The gash
on his temple, maybe from clipping the desk
in his haste to find the father’s arms.
But no, the metal staff in the foreground,
dried blood on the sharpened tip
that lies across a silhouette
where light becomes shadow, cast
by a fire that holds the father’s stare.
You know, when you see the father’s eyes—
widened beyond remorse, beyond guilt,
held open by the horror
that forces the eyelids to slacken and retreat
into gaps below the sockets. It’s then
that you wonder what forced the father’s hand,
if it was forced, if that slow-coursing river
runs in each of us, smoothing rocks
at the bottom of some deep gorge,
eroding the jagged slopes of our resolve.

Bryn Homuth has recent poems published or forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, and Ducts, among several others. His poem "Bandaging," which appeared in Ducts Issue 31, was selected as a finalist for the 2013 Best of the Net Anthology. Bryn currently lives in Minneapolis, MN and is working on his first full-length collection of poetry while teaching composition for Crown College.


A cemetery is a rest stop,
the quietest of cities.
You can stretch your legs, breathe,
walk among the hushed,
read the condensed version
of their life.

I’ve stumbled on those better angels,
mossy, cracked, some missing a hand or a wing,
small faces earnest, as if holding fast,
sworn to secrecy.

No time is squandered better:
drowsing on sun-warmed earth,
staring at stippled shadows
that chase down hours.
That is to say, the sundial is frozen.

Quiet except for the
sibilant syllables
of a wood-bound bird.
The wind, of course, and
each blade of grass
quivering, clouds low and brooding

as you stalk lush moments,
taking every morsel,

you can finally testify,
no—those sleeping below can say,
they have all the time
in the world.

Heidi Hermanson is a life-long Nebraskan. She received her MFA in 2008.

Growing Up During the Depression

Long after my grandmother was gone
I learned her language of growing things.
Lantana, aralia thrived under her touch.
She never sang, but I heard her urging
the hibiscus, the canna lilies,
Birds of Paradise so high
they thrashed the house during storms.

She never cried, never offered a tissue
when I burbled into tears,
just glanced my way with a frown,
resumed swirling sauce, grating mozzarella.
Late afternoons, sunlight draped the lanai
before she tucked her curls into a latex cap,
settled into the pool when we wearied
of splashing around.

Weekdays, Grandma’s navy suit still crisp
when she returned those long Florida evenings
from a litany of hours transcribing,
she and daylight wandered among bursts
of flower pots topped with water,
shears ready to clip the strays.

My thumb doesn’t have her gift for green
and my longings don’t surge
through my fingers to touch the seedlings
so they sprout, nurtured by a lifetime
of yearning that never spoke a word.

KB Ballentine was awarded the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize in 2006 and 2007. Fragments of Light (2009) and Gathering Stones (2008) were published by Celtic Cat Publishing. Her work also appears in Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee (2013) and Southern Light: Twelve Contemporary Southern Poets (2011). Her third collection, What Comes of Waiting, won the 2013 Blue Light Press Book Award.


She keeps them, fossils tucked
into the corner of her drawer,
small secret pains
she never shares.

She imagines one day they will find them,
but by then the steady wing-beat
of her heart will have stopped
and all they’ll have of her
will be memories of woman maimed
by motherhood, made rigid by rules
and repercussions.

The woman in these photos could amble,
knew how to inhale deeply and exhale
a halo of smoke that hovered over her
on a bar stool.

This was before diapers and singing armadillos
named Arthur, before a single lecture
had left her lips, before the days
of sugary smiles and lakeside warnings
about going in too deep.

These were the days of beer bottle and bong,
when she knew just how to slip across the sill
and out into the promise of night.
This is the girl she hopes they see someday.

Bridget Gage-Dixon spends her days encouraging other people's children to properly utilize apostrophes, read awesome literary works, and put their cell phones away during class. Her nights are spent at the mercy of two very small dogs with two pretty big egos. When she can she sneaks away to write poems on her computer to keep herself sane.

Outside the Secondhand Shop

A broken television, an old hat box, three lavender sundresses.
An antique radio dark against the whitewashed walls:
a mole growing on an untended face.
A painted screen crowded with white blossoms
dividing the sidewalk against itself.
One of those old bicycles with one large wheel
watching the lot with its rusty eye.
The door slaps open, a lurid tongue lapping the air.
These things gather here as if the past
were an incantation that conjured them.

Across the street, wines in the window
labeled with boxers and lions,
castles, a horse cart with a single pristine barrel.
This one has the outline of a face, a wiry nose
looming above a squeamish mouth.
Then there are the others with villas and olive trees,
stone bridges linking old French towns.
Afterward the bottles are left on a window sill,
morning light brightening their emptiness.
The sun-ripened bodies of green
and pink and blue and clear glass,
a biography of wishing.

It Happens Each November

I think of my brother lying inside a hill
a thousand miles from here.
I remember driving the long gravel road
and parking my car to sit with him awhile.
I’d tell him things. He’d always listen
the way poems, when you read them right,
listen to the sounds in your voice.
I hated that I was always the one to get up first.
I hated when it was time to stop talking.
For this one month, if he were alive,
we would be the same age until my birthday.
We both grow older, but in different ways.
Both of us speaking—one into the ground
and one into the sky. In spite of our voices,
there is nothing more quiet than that place.
A cemetery full of lived words
writing themselves into the earth.
A cemetery whitened with snow, an eternal
silent page. Each gravestone holding a poem.
Each plot a tiny opening.

Upon Leaving

I see it now. Each leaf is alive.
Each blade of grass. Every whistling gust.
Tonight I know that time is a place
where I am always writing this
and that even a pineapple’s spiraling bark
complies with a silent, natural math.
The body distorts itself to discover itself
and the sun sets in the light of its cosmic past
as the wind rushes over again—the warm, vivid wind.
My eyes close to better hear the laughter in the leaves,
the river drinking toward its own distant throat,
a word about to open.

I imagine Whitman lies buried in my backyard
waiting to peel back his lid of grass
and stare back at the glittering multitude.
Maybe he’ll remember himself into this life
following a map of our bodies in the world.
In the morning I’d head out back to water the plants.
I’d find apples at the base of their tree
with large bites carved out of them and know
Whitman’s been climbing again. I’d picture him
inside the leaves, bearded, hat on his knee,
plucking the best apple from its branch,
wind howling through his white wisps of hair
before the grass calls again for his body. For my diminishing body.
We keep going back to learn what the earth knows.

In the morning I’ll be leaving. I’ll eat an orange for breakfast
before I go, the slices veined and glowing in my hand.
The tiniest cathedral windows. Their own quiet religion.
At the airport will be the miracle of these sounds.
Bustling private bodies eating sandwiches, wheeling their lives
behind them, reading language dictionaries, letting
their fingers speak goodbye across a face.
Cable news yelling fluorescent weather maps. A woman
with a nude blouse and the most wonderful shoes I’ve ever seen.

But tonight the grass and the sunset tell me that leaving is a way of knowing.
That knowing is a kind of flying. The sun leaves the world it loves
only to meet it again and again. Inside every there is a here.
Inside every body is light. Light listening through to where I am.
Light along the yard, the trees, the apples.
Light breathing. Light eating. Light opening
into dusk. Light remembering.
Light streaming along the porch beams, the windows,
the bookshelves, leaves, flower pots,
song birds, my fingers.
Light flying along my body. Light
flying along my body.

Rebecca Macijeski received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2011 and is currently studying toward a PhD in Poetry at University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she serves as an Assistant Editor in Poetry for Hunger Mountain and Prairie Schooner. Some of her recent work has been featured as part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project, and she is a recipient of a 2012 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize. She has attended artist residencies with The Ragdale Foundation and Art Farm Nebraska. Poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Storyscape, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Whiskey Island, Sugared Water, Fickle Muses, Phantom Drift, Border Crossing, Fourteen Hills, and others.  


…as if you have seen the sunset
from every direction, measured
time from a distance too close
to name, caught lightening before
its beams spilt skies, sought
dirt too eternal to own,
and then the world turns
itself inside out

            and you must begin this again.

Elisabeth von Uhl has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and has taught composition, poetry, and literature at Fordham University, Montclair State University, and Hostos Community College. Her work has been published in Cream City Review, The Broome Review, The Cortland Review, and other journals. Her chapbook, Ocean Sea, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2009.

Standing in Front of Number 1
on Jackson Pollock

Stray paint from other work, layers
of light on dark on light, the bottle cap,
the fly, caught, falling in a quick slash to canvas.
Everyone gives you credit for gravity.
I stand in front of the whole
while all my thoughts filter through the small
fly. The streaks of black, white, and green are freckled with skin tones,
my sister’s, both wintered and tanned,
the same as when we found a hollow wasp
lying silenced on the front porch, its wings outstretched
as if it might again fly.
Curiosity took hold of my sister and, poking the wasp
with the freshly painted nail of her finger,
the wasp adhered.

Michael Kern is a recent graduate of George Mason University’s MFA program who now lives and writes in Washington, DC. His poems have been published in Tidal Basin Review and Words Apart.

Miss OKeeffe Makes Pea Soup

There is a bit of a bitch
in every good cook
I wrote in the flyleaf
of one of my cookbooks.

My body, that reservoir
of desire, lusts after
the freshest peas.
Their crisp robes slide open
at the thumb’s suggestion.

            My kimono slipped off.
            Stieglitz photographed
            my body, spring pea
            & smooth.

Boil the peas in a bit
of water. Drain. Blend
with chicken broth, onion, mint
& salt until creamy. Defend
the peas green identity.

            Old men of art wanted
            my paintings muddy
            & dismal. Like theirs. I say flattery
            and criticism go down the same drain
            and I am quite free.

Heat the soup slowly—
as slowly as rain clouds collect
along the spine of the Pedernal.

Shower with chives whose bite
reminds me how winter always returns.

If I were to come back
in another life,
I would be a blonde soprano
who could sing high
clear notes without fear.

In this life I dress in black—
its voice does not argue—
so I can hear the colors of the hills,
the cliffs, the holes in bones,
the blue cadenza of the Chama.

In the process of completing a manuscript of poems in women’s voices Susan J. Erickson has assumed the persona of a host of women. Her poems appear in 2River View, Crab Creek Review, Museum of Americana, The Fourth River, Naugatuck River Review and Literal Latte. Susan lives in Bellingham, Washington where she helped to establish the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Walk and Contest.

Making It New
In memory of my father

Outlined in white on dark pegboard, our tools
resembled gangsters gunned down on mean streets.
In father’s hands and mine, they had committed
cold-blooded crimes of household carpentry.
His storage unit shimmied side to side,
an accordion on stilts. Our birdhouse
for Cub Scouts celled a penitent hermit
thrush condemned to wear a shirt of splinters.
The cutting-board that I cut out for Mom
was misshapen offspring of circle and square.

Our making new was not a making well,
and the level’s bubble never found its perch.
And yet we honed the arts of making do
and doing first aid well.  Though what we built
was rickety or whopper-jawed, we scribed
a line that plumbed the depths of father-son.
Somehow we knew what we aspired to.
I feel his pulse in the arms of Stickley chairs
he handed down, the warmth of lustered grain
that beats through oak, age-old and quarter-sawn.

Williams Wells refers to himself as a poet with purpose and my desire is to help others find their voice and embrace individuality. Poetry is healing, soulful and necessary in today's world more than ever. It is like the very air I breathe. I have written since 3rd grade. I am over 50.

Blood Lines

Blood is thick, yes.
I thought miles would thin it
and yet tonight,
from our disparate climes,
the blood clots.

Our cellphones chime,
their messages gathering,
gathering, winding
the skein:

I am packed. I am ready.
We’re already on the road.
We won’t make it until late.
Can you pick me up?
I will meet you at the gate.

As distant as I often seem,
the blood pulls. The thread
is wrapped around my fingers.

Forgive me my foreign ways,
for they’re native to me now,
and this strange, iridescent shell,
washed in other oceans,
is the gift I bring.

I am coming. Wait for me.

Don Hogle is a poet, travel blogger and brand and communications strategist living in New York. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Minetta Review, Mud Season Review, the inaugural issue of Shooter in the UK, The Outrider Review and The Gambler (House Wins Again).

the let downleaving the neck tie party

Ric Rudnicki is a lifelong resident of the Pittsburgh, PA area, and currently lives in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood where he appreciates the serenity and haunts of the Allegheny Cemetery. Ric considers himself a blue collar guy who enjoys reading and writing poetry.

Colonel Kurtz

Terry Wright is an artist and writer who lives in Little Rock, Arkansas. His latest poetry chapbook is Fractal Cut-Ups (Kattywompas). His writing has been widely published in various online and print venues including McSweeney’s, New Verse News, Potion, Rolling Stone, and Slipstream. Terry believes his sunrise can beat up yours.

Why Havent I Forgotten?

Andrea Marcusa’s work has been featured in River Styx, New South, Ontario Review and other publications. In 2013, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

What poetry Is

Jimmie Ware is a poet whose desire is to help others find their voice and embrace individuality. She believes poetry is healing, soulful and necessary in today's world more than ever. Jimmie has written since third grade and is now over 50.

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