Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Poem by JD DeHart

Loud Music

thumps of vandal music
fade as we rise
around the hill,
a lake finding us,
a water fall discovering us
and our escape
right before our eyes.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  His chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available from RedDashboard.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Three Poems by Ken L. Jones

The seven seas that are my garden
Take on the ripeness of colors
That are continually new to me
Withering in their luminescence
That I take one sip of
Like it is some exquisite Chinese tea
As I seek exile in the desolate
Imperious sedimentary layers
That babble beneath my slippered feet
In a language I've never quite before heard
While crows and humming birds
Wander through my eyesight
As the morning dew dries into a silent prayer.

But When the Time Machine is Stolen

The morning blurs into smoldering crawl bys
The clouds merge with bird notes
Spitting out a clockless withering between the trees
It squints, it moans as noon adjusts its hat
And little red rooster doom flutters across
The dew chilled breathless one hundred years old buildings
And converges as it eats the rocks away
Too tired to fly anymore
In my obscuring melancholy
Tethered in the smell of the nuances of absence
Where night barks like an empty street

No More

Corroded tin cans of shifting gloom
Beguiling through iron green river bottoms
Of barely suppressed anxiety
Past sepia and abundant crumbling jungles
Of an Amazonian suburbia ever shrinking
Like the Gobi Desert that is my dreams
Where the windows of the wilderness
Get transformed into the perfumes of full bellies
As I take to the self replicating stars
And like an alien invasion altered by shipwrecks
I wash upon an island that has lost none of its power.

For the past thirty-five years Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published author who has done everything from writing Donald Duck Comic books to creating things for Freddy Krueger to say in some of his movies.  In the last six years he has concentrated on his lifelong ambition of becoming a published poet and he has published widely in all genres of that discipline in books, online, in chapbooks and in several solo collections of poetry.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Poem by Michael Lee Johnson

Willow Tree and the Rain Falls

Willow tree where the rain falls,
two loved pets beneath these roots,
Mo Joe and Joey parakeets,
gray sand like dandruff packs
them in close and tight
I offer the Lord's Prayer
a form of biblical relief.
Thunder at 3:37 A.M. Thursday night
wonder of my dream mind loves thunder rain.
It is just a part of me, loose with wind.
I know in the A.M. blending in the moisture
birds will chirp sounds blasting echoes
against the surface of the sun.
Before the dawn light, small minds like my own
become active gearing thoughts toward work--
economizing each part of me, loose like threads in wind.
This is the willow tree where the rain falls.
I am self-employed, in my
primitive occupation selling pens,
pads of paper, calendars, tee shirts
names customized printed on them.
It is just a part of me loose with the wind.
Life as an author is a daily man grind
to coffee grounds and skeleton bone leftovers--
with the thunderclaps, and lack of sleep, well deserved.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era.  he is a Canadian and US citizen.  Today he is a poet, a freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 880 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  Author's website:  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 83 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:  Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry in 2015.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Poem by Gary Beck

The Last Blossom

A row of Magnolia trees
bloomed briefly,
exquisite flowers,
intoxicating scent,
by most New Yorkers
busily intent
on their affairs,
city dwellers
more and more unaware
of what is near them
rarely looking up or down,
even more dangerous,
not looking around.
As we further detach ourselves
from impending reality
it's unreasonable to expect
perception of nature's wonders,
now a row of green trees,
like other green trees,
except for one blossom,
soon to fall.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn't make a living in theater.  He has 11 published chapbooks.  His poetry collections include:  Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press), Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways (Winter Goose Publishing).  Perceptions, Displays, Fault Lines and Tremors will be published by Winter Goose Publishing.  Conditioned Response will be published by Nazar Look.  His novels include:  Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Acts of Defiance (Artema Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing).  His short story collection, A Glimpse of Yough (Sweatshoppe Publications).  His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway.  His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines.  He currently lives in New York City.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Three Poems by Ken L. Jones

What is the Weight of Light?

My tall pine unclipped, unkempt is plucking the raindrops
Like they were strings upon a lute
And even the cracked blacktop of my street
Looks less careworn when it's wet
On this perfect shiver of a forty degree day
That forgot to come last November

Gleaming and Disorientating

My old avocado tree used to cast a net of branches
Hoping to catch the fish like chaff of dandelions
That was blowing where it pleased
In that long abandoned neighborhood
Where clouds congregated like Mark Twain quotes
As butterflies with petal wings offered their love to my flowerbeds
Till appeared a monarch who was the same color as my steed
And who as he departed left behind only
An inelegant but most sincere hallelujah and amen
That could not be perceived by the ears of men

From the Beautiful

The fog is a corn crop ripening on the vine
As the shadowy hammers of a winter storm arrive
And the moon which has roots that reach
All the way down to the earth below
Is like my first slice of a Ferris wheel so long ago
But now nothing more than grainy close-ups
Preserved in formaldehyde on this night
When I collect the new seashells
Just washed in by the tide

For the past thirty-five years Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published author who has done everything from writing Donald Duck Comic books to creating things for Freddy Krueger to say in some of his movies.  In the last six years he has concentrated on his lifelong ambition of becoming a published poet and he has published widely in all genres of that discipline in books, online, in chapbooks and in several solo collections of poetry.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Two Poems by ayaz daryl nielsen


Often I go to the mountain
and lean against
quiet rock
quiet rocks that
rose from the earth
millions of years ago

Again, a black brim hat
for damp morning mist
a quiet rock
to lean against
beneath aspen leaves
among aster, columbine,
pasque and penstemon

Maybe there's more I can do
beyond what I have willed
and may have accomplished

Resting beside quiet rock
that rose from the earth
millions of years ago
Plenty enough for this fine day.

The bear in heavy fur

The bear in heavy fur licks its lips and
dreams the taste of berries on bushes
Wildflower seeds waiting below white-
washed chapels of frozen snow listen
to voices of wild geese and wood ducks
carried within an early chinook wind
Humbled, I pour a second cup of coffee,
again renew my promise to keep the
wondrous faith of this earth and my
loved ones, and add a splash of cream.

ayaz daryl nielsen, x-roughneck (as on oil rigs)/hospice nurse, editor of bear creek haiku (25+ years/125+ issues), homes for poems include Lilliput Review, SCIFAIKUEST, Shemom, Shamrock, Kind of a Hurricane Press and online at bear creek haiku.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Poem by Connie Walle

as the sun

is shoved into the sea
by the lateness
of the day
am I the only one
who notices
the bruised clouds
on the horizon
and the tears
which fall
in the distance

Connie Walle, a life-long resident of Tacoma, Washington, is President and founder of Puget Sound Poetry Connection where she hosts the "Distinguished Writer Series" now in its 25th year.  Connie founded Our Own Words, a teen writing contest now in its 19th year.  Her awards include:  1998 Margaret K. Williams Award in support of the arts; Washington Poets Association Faith Beamer Cooks Award.  She is a mother of three, grandmother of seven and currently retired.  A few of her publications include Floating Bridge Press, Raven Chronicle, Tahoma's Shadow, and Cradle Song.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two Poems by Noel Canin


Life the dart of a rabbit,
the snap of beaks in ferns,
encapsulated in the chimes of bees.

Bright fields lap at dour waters
snatched up by birds, their toned calls
ripe messages along the banks,
while the wind,
great carrier of life,
surrenders to the belly of evening.

Waiting for the Ferry to Iona

A sprawl of pink mammalian rock
buries its snout in the sea,
dulls the cry of seals
and the bright gulls'
incessant pecking at dark waves.

The wind tugs and bellows
at buttoned belted warmth.
An old glove is frozen to a rock.

Round pink and green stones;
emerald grass;
dark, the sea rises
from petrol to turquoise
and the sky lies down on its side.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Poem by Joyce Joslin Lorenson

Black Apples

Far away on a small, rock faced island
apple trees bloom
sheltered from sea spray
every leaf leaning
listening for the voice
that mingled with
the call of gulls
and faded.

On a small island
where snow buries the sea
apples black with winter
on cold shivering trees
can no longer wait

Joyce Joslin Lorenson lives in Rhode Island, USA, grew up on a dairy farm, and records the daily happenings in nature around her rural home.  She has been published in several print and electronic journals.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Three Poems by J.L. Harlow

Things You Found Me at Your Old Home

When I visited your old home
you found me a salamander,
I thought it was cute but
jumped and squealed when it moved,

Too slithery for my liking, too free to
roam away from my sight, back into the
deep, dark ground from which it came.

You found me a frog, I named it after a
big flower, the Rhododendron,
You think I'm crazy,

You found me a snake, or rather, it found us,
you found me crystals, and rose quartz,
and heart shaped stones,
and peace, you found me peace

And you found me joy, my optimism,
and you found my carelessness,
and you found my soft, mushy insides,

Wet sand dripping at the cracks
of your fingers,

And you found me, and you found me
falling deeper and deeper into your bones.

Fire Bush Corpse

The fire bush is beautiful,
but snakes live on the inside,

be wary of that, like a rose with
thorns, and a deadly prickle,

and the butterflies are graceful
like wind dancers,

and sweet leaves from
delicate trees,
but they feed and feed on corpses,

and the fire bush blooms,
it has bloomed in front of me
and you,

it is like a dragon,
breath of a dragon,

it roars with disclosure
of its mystery,

I thought it to be a rose bush,
no prickly thorns there,

only the nest of a snake,
only the heat of that sweet, sweet red.


The earth tremors in dark,
careless beats, I can hear it.

Somewhere over the
sun no one remembers,

I eat starfruit, and prickling hot tea,
and sunshine,

How much dust
depends on how tired
my bones are,
how much we're willing to ache,

Fake the power of my body,
I am a leaf,
I'll act like the whole damn tree.

Author of poetry books, Dragonfly Island and Mosaic of Ashes, J.L. Harlow has now had several poems published both in print and through online literary magazines such as White Ash, Fat City Review, Surrounded Magazine, Riveter Review and others.  In her spare time she enjoys creating art work, drinking coffee, reading and learning about cultures of all kinds and searching the world for inspiration.  J.L. Harlow hopes to inspire and be inspired throughout her future work.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Three Poems by Don Thompson

Last Night

August is hard on city dwellers,
brutally humid, viscous--
the weather rage has been waiting for.

But even out here,
a mile or two this side of nowhere,
gunshots last night
punched holes in the darkness
and let streaks of urban neon in.

Coyotes bit their tongues in mid-yip
and slipped away into the hills
with one more good reason to avoid us.

Dust Storm (2)

A mud-colored dry surf
has rolled over us.  Helpless,
we all hunker down--
mollusks that leak no matter how tight
we try to seal windows and doors.
But what else can we do?
This tide won't even submit
to the full moon,
swallowing it like a pebble.


Like smoke from a wildfire, haze
cancels the inoffensive autumn sun.
Only haze . . .
But everyone looks up, expecting
to see leaves of ash
sideslipping down on us, delicately,
and then takes a furtive whiff
like any other creature alive
in this dry season
that knows fire is inevitable.

Don Thompson has been publishing poetry since the early sixties, including several books and chapbooks in this century.  Black Roads won the 2008 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize.  An LA Times profile, "Planted in the San Joaquin," remains available online.  Visit his website at for links to his books.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Three Poems by Tom Montag


Not always
what we want.

Not darkness,

Moisture and heat.
Sun streaming

the earth.  The earth
giving what it gives.

Sometimes weeds.
Sometimes not.

Always the push
and shove.  Always

the burning fuse.

A Small Dark Bird

A small dark bird--
does it matter

which?  Yes, it does,
to the other

juncos, and to
this one.  We all

need it--to know
what we've been named,

one last trueness
before the end.


The dark
lake.  The sky

does not know
its place.

Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place:  Selected Poems 1982-2013.  In 2015 he has been the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August).  Other recent poems will be found at Apeiron Review, Blue Heron Review, The Chaffin Journal, Eunoia Review, Hamilton Stone Review, The Homestead Review, Little Patuxent Review, Plainsong, South 85, Sand, Third Wednesday, Town Creek Poetry, Wilderness House Literary Review,  and many other journals.  He blogs as The Middlewesterner and serves as Managing Editor of the Lorine Niedecker Monograph Series, What Region?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Three Poems by Ken L. Jones

Spellbound Patterns

The teenaged sky was unable to speak through the aluminum cans that were its teeth
And so the spearmint boom boxes that were everywhere made a collage of the salt pregnant air
That was too fleeting to be savored and then like all of the tumbleweeds
That I can remember danced off like undulating jewels to where
The towering nothingness of rainbows formed heaven's rows of wooden fences
In the blackening storm clouds there.

Illumination's Heartbeat

The talons of the moon melt like punch
While the sunlight whispers on nearby mesas clad like some biblical epic
Where a cocoon of wild horses jump beds of cactus
While my true love speaks with a haughty tongue
That rises like some mountain forest unknown to any pelicans
Even the most spellbound whoever flew above a beach house
That was sipping whiskey.

The Dreamy Ashes of Base Metals

The acapella ocean galloped like a shadow
Past the coconut scented secret motels
Where the dark night was
Beneath a never ending blue corn moon's fragrance
Which felt like it was a good moment as my jazz sandals
Took m e forth to an afternoon of monkey dreams
That like The Man in the Yellow Hat I still remember
Even in the lethargic slumber of these summer's eves
That will last far beyond September.

For the past thirty-five years Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published author who has done everything from writing Donald Duck Comic books to creating things for Freddy Krueger to say in some of his movies.  In the last six years he has concentrated on his lifelong ambition of becoming a published poet and he has published widely in all genres of that discipline in books, online, in chapbooks and in several solo collections of poetry.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Poem by Michael Harmon

This Mountain Meadow

is awash in autumn
an ample sallow richness
still remains
through saffron dyes or purple stains
or orange tints
of wildflowers withered
or dying
or dead
through pale and desiccated greens
or russet flax
of variegated browns
of weeds
where moisture that
if not already gone
is going

Michael Harmon has a B.A. in English Literature from Long Island University and a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Arizona State University.  Some of his previous work has appeared in The North American Review, The Raintown Review, and Riverrun (Glenn Oaks Community College, Centreville, MI).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Three Poems by Steven De Frates

Gray Fox Crossing

He leads the way to the borderland between
fallen leaf and winter, where the soul waits
for first snow, change coming with clouds
between this life and next.
                                         If you live long
enough, you leave yourself behind, once heavy
now impossible light, the impatient breath
released, rising in a mist, and you find
a strange uneven peace.
                                      You have a choice
to follow his horizontal tail, the bushy rudder
steering between kingdoms and seasons
of flesh, the snow falling from limbs,
dead weight lost to space.
                                         Bounding ahead,
his tracks make a straight line, each one placed
within the last, this world in perfect balance
with realms unseen where knowing goes,
all obstacles permeable on icy ground.
unnoticed, so you see him because he allows you,
because you walk with shadows in the woods
and talk to all creatures, great and Grimm,
sacred and savage.
                               Welcome when you need him
more than safety or certainty, the shell softens
because you're ready to shapeshift yourself
with magic, traveling in worlds of beings
invisible and wanting to be found.

double vision

in the hollow
                    the elk
              in mist and midnight
ghosted with starlight
slip between aspen
                             silent as vapor
streaming from nostrils
of forested dark
                         the world silenced
full of phantom sound
round and black as an eye
in our hollow
                     the tunnel
            headlights blindly
probe between markers
of eternal night
                        traveling fast
as fear without reason
past miracles
                    our world stretched
long and tight as a navel cord
sharp as shattered bone

(or do you ever feel like you're being watched?)

The snail within her spiral shell grows the universe on her back,
our cosmos condensed and brought to Earth, pushing a tiny galaxy
forward another inch, away from long grass rippling by the river
where ceaseless, reckless surging, always threatens, until she rests
beneath the shadow of a giant's chair, head lifted with tentacled eyes
waving, senses someone between her world and the sky above, who
sees her only house tremble, raising and lowering with each minute
and infinite breath, taking the air into herself, the life we all share.

Steven De Frates lives in Phoenix, AZ, and works at the Scottsdale Public Library.  He has recently published poetry in Four Chambers and has a self-published novel "Daughter of Troubled Sleep" at Amazon.  Visit

Friday, January 15, 2016

Three Poems by Neil Leadbeater

Winter Lightning

Not the huge electric spark
which is the bolt out of the blue
or a sky lit up above a storm
with no audible phonomena
nor even St. Elmo's Fire
but acer negundo
of the golden bark
showy in winter
when least expected
and loved all the more
for springing surprises
in town gardens
December dreaming
eyes closed to the world.


Are multi-stemmed.  Colossal in white abundance.  The leaves caulite, alternate, simple;
lanceolate to elliptic; glabrous at maturity.

Are huge in number.  A different species for every State barring only Hawaii.

Answer to many names:  juneberry, serviceberry, shadbush and shadblow,
the lovely saskatoon . . .

Closely related like sisters and difficult to tell apart
they are the brides whose flowers
turn to fruit:  red when they ripen
then bluish-black;
a color symphony whose orchestration is familial white
the veiled headress of sheer delight
of snowflakes and clouds
of A. ovalis "Eidelweiss," the flowers opening in early Spring
when the shad run in their hundreds:
New England streams.

The Thriplow Daffodils*

They are Europe's floral headdress.  Asphodels in Elysian fields.  Traps for Persephone.
Opening up on Ash Wednesday and dying back at the end of Lent to a round underground bulb.
Flowers conspicuous by corona trumpets, bell-shaped, bowl-shaped daffadown dillies
with linear, ligulate or strap-shaped leaves.
Paper-white jonquils in the figure-of-eight lanes that haste away too soon; that die of their own
dear loveliness; that are full-throated and bid the year be bold.
Shelley observing the March wind.  Even the Beaufort Scale is blown off course by a misreading
of Roget's Thesaurus:

4.  Average flurry/Judicious commotion/Loose-fitting garments dividing in the wind.
5.  Brazen gust/Bare-faced blast/Unveiled dancers begin to sway.

But mostly it is calm:

0.  Composed/Collected/As you were.
1.  Effortless demeanor/Easy Manner/ As you will.
2.  Trivial air/Simple aria/Vanes moved by song.
3.  Amiable drought/Friendly beer/Glass in constant motion.

Incredible seas of white and yellow having the time of their lives.

*Thriplow is a place in Essex, England, renowned for its daffodils in Springtime.

Neil Leadbeater is an author, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland.  His work has been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad.  His latest publications are "The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives" (Poetry Space, UK, 2014); "The Fragility of Moths" (Bibliotheca Universalis, Romania, 2014); and "Grease-banding The Apple Trees" (Raffaelli Editore, Italy, 2015).  His work has been translated into Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Poem by Ken Allan Dronsfield

Youthful Flame

It's afternoon here
in the wooded valley
where tall trees dance;
as long walks covet
an ambiance of romance.
It's silent and serene now;
the only sound is the
light snow falling;
twinkling glimmers
of diamonds hitting
branches and ground.
All now covered in white;
and my candle is alight
on the window sill
near the warming fire.
The orange glow
and falling snow
elicit memories of
melting in mugs
of hot cocoa; boots,
hats and scarves by
the back door.
A time to remember, those
beloved youthful days;
and the simple ways, here;
where the tall trees dance.

Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet/author/digital artist originally from Hampton New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma.  He has been writing for many years and enjoys spending time hiking, playing guitar and spending time with his cats Merlin and Willa.  His published work can by found at numerous print venues:

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Three Poems by Christopher S. Knodel

A Tranquil Beauty

Crystalline shards on a silken web,
but no spider.

Flowing maple from a newly tapped vein,
but no one to gather its bounty.

The pond is solid, now,
the fields bent over from iced tops.

Everything is silent.

Tranquil beauty can never be denied.

The Grackle

Never alone, but cascading in waves,
the flock moves in a serpentine formation.

Entire trees disappear under midnight blue hues,
the din an immeasurable cacophony of sound.

Miles of power lines completely staffed,
by avian squatters resting en masse.

When startled, the feathers blot out the sun,
like Persian arrows launched at Spartan foes.

A Lone Star staple in both song and verse,
yet never alone in flight or at rest.

Such is the Texas Grackle.

The Desert Glass

Across the white sands I strode,
weary, but needing the time alone.

The heat of Alamogordo was caustic;
my water diffused from mouth to pore.

I saw a shimmer in the sand,
like so many mirages I mistook for reality.

A translucent stone, or perhaps glass,
lay in the sands at my feet.

How very different from the other rock,
like nothing I had seen in nature.

I walked around, and began to find more,
all of greenish hue and opaque luster.

The largest of these was near some stones,
but as I dusted them, it became clear.

The rock was bone of ivory pale,
and the glass was Trinitite.

I stood on the grounds of a nuclear grave
where soldiers stood against the first bomb.

All that remained was this "natural" glass.
The distorted mirror of a national past.

Christopher S. Knodel is an author, poet and ultra-distance runner in San Antonio, TX.  He is a freelance journalist and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column.  His poetry and short fiction have been featured in The Asses of Parnassus, Ealain (MPA Publishing), The Wolfian, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Zodiac Review and Zombie Logic Review.  He can be easily spotted by his kilt, tattoos and six inch, flaming-red, Van Dyke goatee.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Poem by Bam Dev Sharma

Coy Rays

Coy rays
clasp morning dew
when chilly breeze cajoles
with wind
in shake
and birds poke the sky

drop tick . . . tick
and grasshoppers
start to nibble
when pervasive grass
gleams in amber!

the moon
is speckled in myriad of clouds
emerald in yellowish gaze
and every house
on the hill
spews fuming smoke.
joy sprawls on the land
and the hearts are numb

soon birds begin to hum
as the sapphire sky watches
the earth resound with songs
heralding new dawn
The New Year
with simmering dreams!

Bam Dev Sharma is a resident of Dang Hekuli Village Development Committee, Nepal.  He started writing poetry in 1996.  He has published a collection of poetry jointly with American poetess Marine Reis Newberry, entitled Bunyan and the Alder (2007).  Besides, his poems have been published in several national and international poetry journals across the glove.  By profession, Mr. Sharma is teaching at Campus of International languages and currently is the Head of the English Department.

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Poem by Ryan Dodge

Sea Salt Fresh

The Pacific crashes down,
unrelenting in her
awe-inspiring rage.
Wearing down the edges
of a dried out land;
a people dying of thirst,
with abundance bashing
against the back door.

Cries of plenty
forced from throats
greased only with spit;
flit past lips so cracked
they're bleeding.
Crusty human shells
scattered on the shore.
Empty and dry within.

Where can I go
if land nor sea can quench
my thirst.
Surrounded by sustenance
but an alien kind
incompatible with
my body.

I stand in the sand
wishing I could walk on the surface in faith.
Knowing I'll sink,
a ball of doubt
on the end
of a chain,
dragging me
into the depths.

So here I'll wait
the waves lapping
at my feet
slowly taking me
bit by bit
my ankles, my knees,
my hips, my chest,
my neck,

the taste
of salt on my lips
as I close my eyes
and sink
into the numbness.

Ryan Dodge is a senior at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.  He is an unpublished writer who enjoys writing poetry and fiction, specifically science fiction.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Poem by Michael Lee Johnson

Arctic Chill North

Alberta arctic chill freezes my life in exile.
North Saskatchewan River crystallizes froze thick.
My life entomb 10 years here, prairie path, those thorns,
a hundred threats US government, border checks run further north.
I stand still in exile, live my life in mixture of colors, lone wolf, tangerine moons,
hang nail in this corner of my bachelor suite sleep for years.
I close down curtains on this chapter with an amnesty agreement, a pledge.
I closed own this sunspace, northern lights,
files I never burn draft card I never toss away.
Thieves, dawn passion, pack up start home tonight.
This hell hangs on my head passes to a hallo, child, dream, and murders.
Let this flicker between notes and years die ignore spaces and pass.
Radio sounds, in my car, my ears, and blast old tunes
on my way back home, Indiana, 1,728 miles away.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era.  he is a Canadian and US citizen.  Today he is a poet, a freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  He has been published in more than 880 small press magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites.  Author's website:  Michael is the author of The Lost American:  From Exile to Freedom (136 page book) ISBN:  978-0-595-46091-5, several chapbooks of poetry, including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems.  He also has over 83 poetry videos on YouTube as of 2015:  Michael Lee Johnson has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry in 2015.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Three Poems by A.J. Huffman

Showers & Flowers

Shock the mountains
purple.  Today
the sky started to cry,
but the desert only smiled.  Its reply:
a bloom, one hundred-year gestation,
a baby
to brighten the day.

Unplanted Seeds

sit, stagnant and rotting
in pouches labeled appropriately.  Irrelevant
bits of beginnings
wait for foraging fingers to pick
patches of earth, a burial site primed for rebirth. 
No such touch comes.
Shells shrivel, grow old.  With disuse
comes a death before death, a hanging
rack, a package yellowing in the sun.


The scar was bigger than the sky
and twice as stunning,
changing in the light,
shining in the shadow.
This thin necklace of silvered
links stands to name this creation:
Of Another’s Hand.

A.J. Huffman has published twelve solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses.  Her new poetry collections, Another Blood Jet (Eldritch Press), A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing), Butchery of the Innocent (Scars Publications), Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink) and A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press) are now available from their respective publishers and  She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2400 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Poem by Craig W. Steele

Green Cathedral

A stroll through any forest becomes a
pilgrimage through a green cathedral:
Massive trunks rise like bark-plastered columns
in a living nave; spreading boughs form
groin vaults and fan vaults floating overhead.
And sometimes the din of a boisterous spring rain
assumes the susurrations of fervent prayer,
awakening soft echoes nestled among the branches.

Before long, baptismal blessings cascade
from ecclesiastical elites, leach
through the common clergy and soak
the shadowed penitents within the understory,
a fate accepted in sodden silence.
After the divine deluge comes a
feeling of renewal, waiting
for the drip-drying to end.

Craig W. Steele resides in the countryside of northwestern Pennsylvania, near Lake Erie.  When not writing, he's a professor of biology at Edinboro University.  In his quest to become a widely-published unknown poet, his poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, literary journals and magazines, most recently in The Lyric, Mused:  The BellaOnline Literary Review, and Wolf Willow Journal, among others, and he continues to write monthly poetry as "The Writer's Poet for Extra Innings online.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Three Poems by Ken L. Jones

Portrait of the Tune Off Her Beauty

Oh I hear a rhapsody of gulls
In mourning endlessly swelling
As they lament he who was lured to a reef
Like human drift wood
This creature lost in a sea of bitterness
His lust for the sea woman
Long was unfulfilled
And his shimmering departure
Teemed with lingering farewells
But all was forgotten in the laughing ocean
Like a haunting vision that has been displaced
Spawned by silken dreaming moments
As strangely silent as a coral reef.

Winged Rapture

In a place of seagulls in the sunshine
I became undone by a delicious
Burnt to a crisp remade woman
Almost dreamlike in her red lipped software programs
While I linger like an unintelligible Batmobile
In the Bit O HOney and gumball tulips
On the sea floor of a Les Paul guitar
Until I was bitten by a radioactive teddy bear
After which we ate a sequined and feathered
Casino buffet breakfast of Beatle songs
On the sun dappled red planet Mars
That our two hearts had brought into being
And one in which I have never wandered
Far from not even in my dreaming.

Only a Few Lines Long

Sea life is cresting on waves
That speak a peculiar language
Near where the sleeping seedlings
Echo frail and pale as the unmoored bones
Of a mysterious green carnival vanish
Into a spoonful of fade away
With all the rhythm of
A merry-go-round as it wails and sways
And which only now exists in my memories of other days.

For the past thirty-five years Ken L. Jones has been a professionally published author who has done everything from writing Donald Duck Comic books to creating things for Freddy Krueger to say in some of his movies.  In the last six years he has concentrated on his lifelong ambition of becoming a published poet and he has published widely in all genres of that discipline in books, online, in chapbooks and in several solo collections of poetry.  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Two Poems by Rick Mitchell


The water waves in easily this
     evening, seethes back over the
pebbled shore.  Children sleep in
     the screened porch, breathing
pale moonlight that blues the cabin.

On the diving rock near the moored
     boat, they sit watching rippled
blackness where minnows skitter like
     flat rocks across the surface.  After
her cheek brushes his and she leaves,
     he wonders why anyone else should
visit him now.

He hears the hot water for the
    shower, leans back, sees her shirt
slip off, fall below the window ledge.
     A piece of driftwood clacks against
the boat while across the lake, soundless
     lightening scores an indigo sky.


Had to see them saw the clothesline
tree, elm whose flirting shadows
the land knew long before
even thoughts of a farm house.

And when it fell, he squeezed tight his
five year old eyes as the ground trembled
and nothing beneath his feet
felt solid ever again.

Rick Mitchell is a lifelong resident of New York State; except for the four years he lived in Reno and attended the University of Nevada.  His poems have recently appeared in The Camel Saloon, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Skylark, and The Cimarron Review, Chiron Review Press published Speaking of Seed and Night, his first book of poetry and Aldrich Press published Before Every Other Fall in 2014.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Poem by Sheikha A.


Another day of captivity
as light takes over darkness,
a shrewd sun taunts the day
unfurling with leisure,
somnambulating languorously
around a thinning moon;

the day is a different blush,
there is a hint of sapphire
in the amber-red, coiled
onto a night that wasn't
meant to end;

the air lingers too, in serenade,
while the sun wills the moon
to fade out, in postulant peace
without casualty.

Another day of calamity,
the light has de-hued the night,
ushering birds out of their nests
to seek their grain;

they may travel far on wings
navigated by wakefulness,
but in their hearts, the moon
keeps a fire alight
where the sapphire burns
its pyre of memories--
a blue smoke
of unmelodic melancholy.

Sheikha A. hails from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates and is the author of a short poetry collection titled Spaced (Hammer and Anvil Books, 2013) available on kindle.  Her work appears in over 40 literary magazines such as Red Fez, The Muse, Ygdrasil, A New Ulster, Pyrokinection, Mad Swirl, ken*again to name a few and several anthologies as well.  She has work upcoming in The Stray Branch.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Three Poems by Don Thompson

Dry Creeks

It's been too long.  It's too late.
The dry creeks have lost their way
out of the mountains.

And when it finally rains,
they'll have to start over, reinterpret
the blurred lay of the land

and accept, reluctantly,
that one hundred years or more
in the old bed,
so familiar and reassuring,
count for nothing.

Dead Palm

No one gave it permission
to take root here, solitary
between the bank of a dry ditch
and an unplowed field
miles from any other palm trees.

But unruly seeds do wander,
opposed to prevailing winds
or snug in a bird's gullet,
willing to end up anywhere far--
unlike stay-at-home apples

This palm, never flourishing,
nevertheless added a foot per year,
too stout to wrap your arms around
at twenty.  Then withered,
done in by the drought.

Without fronds, it stands
as its own obelisk.
Even a palm tree needs rain:  A taste
now and then is enough,
but not no rain at all--ever.

This Stone

This stone rests easily in my hand,
a perfect fit, flickering
with mineral light
like the abandoned outpost of a star
that burned out eons ago.
It's still warm.  Imagine
all the time and trouble
it has taken to weather,
to wear down to what it is now.
And yet this stone has changed less
in a thousand years
than you and I do every day.

Don Thompson has been publishing poetry since the early sixties with several books and chapbooks in this century.  Back Roads won the 2008 Sunken Garden Prize.  Recent releases:  Keeping an Eye on the Stones, prose poems from Kattywompus Press; Local Color, a book-length narrative poem from Aldrich Books; Keeping the Secrets from Flutter Press.  Another selection of prose poems, Nietzsche Wept (Finishing Line Press) is due in late October.  An LA Times profile, "Planted in the San Joaquin," remains available online.  Much more at his website:  San Joaquin Ink (www.don-e-thompson[dot]com).

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Poem from Kevin Hibshman

A Fantasy for Late Spring

Sinew aglow like verdant leaves.
I am content to allow insects to slide upon my slippery skin.
My mind is open as a field that stretches endlessly as I hold the Earth again.

Kevin M. Hibshman has been an active poet with work appearing in numerous journals and magazines since 1990.  He edited his own poetry magazine, FEARLESS, for sixteen years.  A new book is scheduled for release sometime during the fall of 2015.  Kevin received a BA in Liberal Arts from Union Institute and University/Vermont College in 2006.