Sunday 5 May 2013

POETRY PACIFIC (2.1): Cover Page



A Snapshot of Spring: Photograph by Zhijian Tao

Poetry Pacific (2.1): Editorial Note


* Thus far, PP has been featuring 3 selected poets and their artworks on a weekly basis; however, starting from now, PP is switching into a quarterly publication, with the four issues to be released respectively in early May, August, November and February;

* Submitters are welcome to send over up to 5 (rather than only 3) poems or photographic artworks each time;

* PP (2.2) [Summer Issue] has already been fully committed, but submissions are open year round for the subsequent issues;

* The email address for submissions has been changed to; the old one will be closed permanently very soon;

PP has just established a facebook site at, where we look forward to networking with you...


1 Poem by Carl Palmer


sitting on the couch
she has forgotten who I am
greets me like a stranger
treats this stranger better
than she ever treated me

I yearn for her glower
that glint of disgust
the biting sneer
her refusal to say anything
nice to me at all


Carl “Papa” Palmer, twice nominated for the Micro Award in flash fiction and thrice for the Pushcart Prize in poetry, grew up on Old Mill Road in Ridgeway, VA. Carl now lives the good life in University Place, WA.
Motto: Long Weekends Forever

1 Poem by Donal Mahoney

Father Spoke in Code

Father spoke in code
Mother understood.
She would cry
once he went to bed.
I never understood the code.
My sister didn't either.
As we got older, we quit
asking Mother what he said.

A feral cat claimed our yard.
It would leap the fence
when anyone appeared.
Except, of course, Father.
When he came out to walk
around the garden after supper,
the cat would sit straight up,
then rub against his leg
and look at him as if it understood
what others never could.

My sister used to say
the two of us were proof
Father and Mother
got together twice.
I told her I wasn't so certain.
I looked a lot like Mr. Brompton,
the next-door neighbor.
He used to buy us sugar cones
from the ice cream truck.

My sister, by the way, didn't look
like anyone in the family either,
but that was 40 years ago
when I last saw her.
I went away to college
and she got married.
We were never close after that.
Not even Christmas cards.

Forty years is a long time.
Now, we plan to get together
for a weekend this summer
before one of us dies.
I suggested we wait
till one of us is terminal.
What's the rush, I said.
But my wife told her
I was only kidding,
that we'll be coming
and not to make a fuss.
Burgers and hot dogs
will do just fine.

I know what Sis and I
will talk about that weekend,
the two people we'll always
have in common, no matter
how many years and miles
may lie between us.
Father and Mother have been
dead for decades now
but they're still alive in us.
I talk in code, my wife says,
and my sister cries a lot,
now that her husband's dead.
The one thing I want to know
is if my sister knows
what happened to the cat.
It knew the code,
may have had some answers.


Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

2 Poems by Afzal Moolla

The Whispering Leaf

Infinite tendrils,
weave exquisite patterns,
forming an immaculate, delicate sheaf,

while morning's dew whispers,
tales of forgotten woes,
left scribbled on every leaf.

Murmurs float gently,
across solitary trees,
to distant forests deep and dense,
teasing the waving grasses,
while coquettishly inflaming every sense.

Listen! For the murmurs whisper to us all,

listen carefully,
as the whispers recall,
the crushed memories of the lovers' call.

For the whispering leaf shares,
a story that may travel,

to you, to me,
if we still our minds,


gaze upon each leaf,
and quietly marvel.

The African Rains

the rains settle,
meandering over jagged faultlines of our memory.

the rains settle,
streaming through veins,

the thud-thudding of the heartbeat of Africa.

the rains that settle,
within each of us,

herald rebirth.

if you listen,

if you strain to hear,
while shedding the raucous noise of your inner turmoil.

If you listen,

the whispers of the ancestors,

speak to us all,
lending us warmth,

urging us to stand,

even though we may stumble,

even though we may fall.


Afzal Moolla lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes for pleasure and enjoys reading non-fiction and the occasional novel.

3 Poems by Maude Larke


Between the stone wall
and the stone church
fistfuls of yellow, pink, purple heads.


Great-granddad was a vampire
so we all have
stakes sticking out.


Consciousness’s main product,
self-consciousness; main by-product,


Maude Larke has come back to her own writing after working in the American, English and French university systems, analyzing others’ texts and films.  She has also returned to the classical music world as an ardent amateur, after fifteen years of piano and voice in her youth.  Winner of the 2011 PhatSalmon Poetry Prize and the 2012 Swale Life Poetry Competition, she has been published in Oberon, Naugatuck River Review, Cyclamens and Swords, Mslexia, Cliterature, and Short, Fast, and Deadly, among others.

1 Poem by Nathan J.D.L. Rowark

Insanity Revival

So the sensible man is a relic past of the go betweens of financial fast;
as the money tide falls short of shore, to the little man for a banker’s whore;
and the funding hand, Sahara plain in this place gone mad, as I’m not to blame,
for squandered pound they fluttered free from their grubby fist for champagne she.

Unlaced her bodice beneath her blouse as the markets fell in their Nero house;
for the wife and child upon your street to husband find, then shotgun greet.
How quick their tragic blood runs lose for richest men to fatten goose,
as on the tables of misery's place, they follow own prayer when saving grace.

In sleep aloof they hear the cries of hungry souls that they despise.
A use is found for those by day, yet at night their candle is blown away
on mushroom cloud of hot air balloon that floats above to venture soon,
to all the places you've never seen and for you is all but a night time's dream.

And this is how it came to pass, that in envy green of a greener farce,
the note on which adorns a race became much more than the bearer’s face.
So now you’ll have to pucker up, and to your lips, their liposuction butt
will rest on chair of those below who cannot rise up in madness's show.

But now the doc has made me silly, says my way is a dallied dilly;
the powers that be can easy rest, as the words of the unhinged are unhinged at best.
Yet I find the way the world is fouled, has axis tipped and I’m mad endowed,
to look beyond the trappings laid by those who still think a flat earth stayed.


Nathan J.D.L. Rowark is a poet, novelist and founder of Horrified Press: His credits include over sixty stories and poems published in various mediums, and three works listed in the British Library. He is about to release two anthologies written by other like-minded artists, one in February and the other in March. They are titled respectively, Tales of the Undead - Hell Whore, and Tales of the Undead - Suffer Eternal.

1 Poem by Melissa Fry Beasley

In The Night

In the dark
Silence enfolds the world
You are sleeping
And i'm here watching
The moon changes colors
This night is like stained glass
A cathedral with no parishioners
As dream bends to daylight


Melissa Fry Beasley is a Native American/Irish poet and social activist from Oklahoma. She currently advocates for various literacy and G.E. D. programs. Melissa has three dogs, three cats, and three children. She has previously been published in online and print magazines and journals and is currently working on an exciting new chapbook.

1 Poem by Jnana Hodson

Listen With Hands: XXXVI

This other Washington
has a vegetable market down the street
and Hawaiian sneakers

I’d swear that bird was singing
“Let’s go, Red Sox! Let’s go, Red Sox”
in the middle of a hot streak
REMDAWG its own mantra

Too much sugar
not enough crotchety - turn demanding, boy
and whip it around

By the way, did she ever get
to that horseback riding?
Happy trails and pleasant dreams
your adoring fan in the North

Unlike the young pastor
looking for the church
within the church
somewhere along the seaboard


A native of the Midwest, Jnana Hodson spent four years in the interior desert of the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, leaving shortly after Mount St. Helens erupted and covered his home eighty miles away in volcanic ash. He now lives on the other side of the country, where he blogs at Jnana's Red Barn (

3 Photos by Zhijian Tao

Spring snapshots...

3 Poems by Les Wicks

Function @ Disjunction

Why did the toaster cross the pillow?
To (cruci)fix the broken thought.
Do not (donut) go there, each fried
thing has nails we bring
them corrosion
then sneak on out the window
magical nihilist
stuck on sunset
cut by colour
bright tight plates.


When science forgets departure
& the ardent clouds bend down to blow
tenderly on the feathers of roosting lorikeets...
you & I touch at secluded borders,
the leaves fall such
sweaty benevolence such
blithe zeniths.


Fling on a string You take this moment wrap it in fluoro influenza we fly towards a finish with nothing but the frightened children of our lungs. Knees spin like torrid toad eyes we are stalks within stalks as feet crash in a gravity graze one after the other pile driving all for an instant, late permanents that twitter beneath a frangible sun all is movement each bird is a word, beach umbrellas gavotte under the calamitous clamour of a tide turned twisty. Flog & bubble, no metal - cats prospect on the headlands while dogs discover sex like masters. Eyes smash, weeks drop, caning the cathedrals of the double stubble. Crash through the cotillions of commute – cute boys sensible girls all the girdles of hurdles leap then laughter, whiffling over ways trample the wisdom left thoughtlessly on the path. Fill the fountains with fire, each injury is wave, is aware. Stairs bite at pyramids, branflakes overhead flap at heaven (but the weight), violins fruit on trees. to this point.


LES WICKS has toured widely and seen publication across 15 countries in 9 languages. His 10th book of poetry is Barking Wings (PressPress, 2012).

1 Poem by Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Empty Nesters

The plums plummeted early on Bunker Hill Road this year,
toppled by a misalignment of climactic signals
or a rare eagerness convened by the envoys of spring.
No one was quite sure.

Their skins were rent by the fall,
or rather its aftermath.
Some had sought safety and were, in fact, gingerly avoided;
most were squashed in the stampede of train commuters,
the stamp of stiletto heels visible upon inspection.

The pavement beneath was transformed into a kaleidoscope
of bruise and mortification.
The color of the ruin resembled that of the trees’ leaves,
offspring mirroring parent.

Indeed, some of the branches had become ragged, leaves sparse,
barely budding—a line of treasured, if flawed, canopy shade.
Equally unexpectedly, armed with manuals and shears and
synchronicity, guerilla landscapers descended one morning to clip
the branches of the plum trees.  Their resolve was noted with unease.

Perhaps they aim to revive the blood; perhaps they seek to console.
Perhaps they wish to ease the agony of the parents
over this indifference to their children,
crushed before their time.


Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of three books of poetry, Uncle Feygele (Plain View Press, 2011), What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (Parlor Press, 2008; Free Verse Editions series), and The Insatiable Psalm (Wind River Press, 2005).  His poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Avatar Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Eclectica Magazine, Free Verse, Prairie Schooner, and The South Carolina Review.  One of his poems was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and two were nominated for the Best of the Net award.  Please visit his web site at

1 Poem by Britt McQuilkin

A Simple Whitney Conversation

It was all wispy and pillowy,
a little one-room dream
sick with romantic celebration.
Made admist the masculine 70's, to be
demandingly, unforgivingly

Soft flowing ribbons on ladders.
Love was written on the walls.
Forced storybook and roses,
bleeding affectation.

Morton's syrupy pale pink world.
There was nothing dark or morose about it.
So imaginary you're not allowed to touch it.


Britt McQuilkin lives in Manhattan writing original poetry, short stories, and plays.  She received her B.A. in English in 2009 with an extensive concentration in poetry.  Her favorite artists include Sylvia Plath, Andy Warhol, and Leo Tolstoy.  For more information or to contact email:

1 Poem by Erik Moshe

The Acceptance

hibiscus leaves ruffle the back of my tongue
gunpowder swathed gums just shy of
becoming a charcoal chameleon myself
I see a rose fall from a shimmering grey sky

for days the bandits ravaged the countryside
like an enormous centaur trampling a child
beaten into tenderized submissiveness

built a human cage around the last frontier
told us to abide by the body heat of the desert
so we did


Erik Moshe, born in 1990 in Hollywood Florida, is currently a member of the U.S. AirForce and deployed in Afghanistan. He likes to think that his sometimes outlandish poetry experiments will be the foundation for research into potassium being the key to human evolution. His work has appeared in Gloom Cupboard and the Pan'Ku Literary Magazine of Broward College. Blogsite:

2 Poems by Mikael Covey

we cool

perhaps at times I think I’m too important
and idling deer in the midnight cemetery
won’t piss on my grave

I saw on tv

the man with no face
back from the war
blinded by war
lips that can’t feel
...without taste
and the nose ...
they are making
with bone from the arm
and skin from the head
grafting crafting
waiting the years
and his little girl
sitting there
kissing his cheek
Daddy I love you


Mikael Covey is editor of Lit Up Magazine, and author or two novels (available at Amazon or Barnes & Noble). His published writing can be found at and http://bookchapters. He lives in Dakota with his granddaughter.

1 Poem by Salvatore Buttaci


Confined to bed where, racked with pain, she cries
each time she moves an arm, a leg, I see
my mother, once so strong, now old and sickly.
I hardly recognize her as she lies
there, looking through me with milky brown eyes,
her lips like wings of fledglings flapping free.
My heart is breaking. It wants me to flee
from her.  Go far away before she dies.
Instead, I take a seat beside her bed
and speak to her of days when I was young,
a life’s review, I doubt she even heard––
this loving woman whose passing I dread.
“Goodbye” burns now like acid on my tongue.
I touch her hand. I will not speak the word.


Salvatore Buttaci is an obsessive-compulsive writer whose work has appeared widely.  He was the 2007 recipient of the $500 Cyber-wit Poetry Award. His poems, stories, articles, and letters have appeared widely in publications that include New York Times, U. S. A. Today, The Writer, Writer’s Digest, Cats Magazine, The National Enquirer, and Christian Science Monitor. His short-short story collections, Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, published by All Things That Matter Press, are available in book and Kindle editions at Visit him at http://salvatorebuttaci. He lives with his wife Sharon in West Virginia.

2 Poems by David Cookson


The kelpie lunges
through her window,
startles me, but no harm.
She hauls it back,
mimes contrition to my grin.

The lights change to green,
we part with no words.
Though her dog disdains,
the woman waves goodbye
through the glass,
enhances today’s tapestry
with another stitch.

At the café

her hips are the meander of a slow river
as through tendrils of garlic she approaches
to take his order, aware in a moment of his fascination
with the rosebud tattoo scarlet on her bared midriff.
Pen still poised but forgotten, she contemplates him
from under veined lids that border those eyes
of the sea’s grey blue and deep
holding a hint of perhaps


David Cookson lives in South Australia by a surf beach. His work has been published reasonably often, mainly within Australia. He writes both poetry and short stories and is old enough to remember a time without computers...

3 Photos by Liu Yu

Spring: Seasonal Stanzas in the Frontyard of Home


Liu Yu, a native of Gong-an, Hubei Province, used to work as an administrator at Jingzhou Poeple's Bank of China before retirement. Now she enjoys playing huapai, taking pictures and cooking for her family. Publication credits include Hubei Daily and Collection of Biographical Sketches of Advanced Financial Workers (Hong Kong).

1 Poem by Yearn Hong Choi

Ode to Sleep

a suckling babe fell asleep in mom’s breast
a sleeping grandson slumped next to grandpa
a poet dozing off held in lover’s arms
a dude falling asleep in barber’s chair
a migrant worker snoring in the bouncing truck on a country road
tired out soldiers dead asleep oblivious of shellfires and smokes
peace, deep peace is birthed inside abyss of sleep
within repose are gentle waves and sea birds of home port
beyond the scent of pines stretches the sleepy sandy beach


Yearn Hong Choi is a prolific and distinguished writer who has won awards in Korea and the US with six books of poetry and one collection of short stories. His essays and short stories appeared in prestigious journals such as Short Story International and World Literature Today. In 1994, he became the first poet from Korea to be invited to read at the Library of Congress; Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Gwendolyn Brooks introduced Choi by reading a poem she wrote about him.  He served as executive director of the Korean PEN Center and edited Korean Literature Today. He founded the Korean Poets and Writers Group and the Korean-American Poets' Group in Washington, DC. A Ph.D in political science and public administration from Indiana University, he has written extensively on current issues in Korea and Korean-US relations, worked for the federal government, and taught at the University of Wisconsin, Old Dominion University, the University of the District of Columbia, and the University of Seoul, retiring in 2006. With Haeng-Ja Kim he published the first anthology of Korean-American literature, Surfacing Sadness: A Centennial Celebration of Korean-American Literature, 1903-2003. He also edited three landmark anthologies of Korean-American poetry: Mother and Dove, Fragrance of Poetry: Korean-American Literature, and An Empty House: Korean American Poetry. He has published three  poetry books in English, Autumn Vocabularies (Writers' Workshop, 1990),  Moon of New York (PublishAmerica, 2008) and Copenhagen’s Bicycle (PublishAmerica, 2010) and four poetry books in the Korean language. His memoir, Song of Myself: A Korean-American Life, was published by Poetic Matrix Press in 2010.

2 Poems by Jennifer Hollie Bowles


If the little bird
is not prey, it does not pray.
We shall never pray.

Create Time With Me

We will live on a Lavender Moon with white-sage floors,
ethereal dried herbs manifested from our shared visions,
and when we make love, the Lavender Moon will wax.

We will play with the cycles of planets, turn the ebbed
emotions of mortal beings into catalysts, and beckon suns
to acquiesce inside longer nights, calm opalescent days.

We will remain bound to our Lavender Moon paradise
without intruders, until the abundance of our love births
green, growing things, cosmic chaos, and our recreation.


Jennifer Hollie Bowles' writing has appeared in numerous online and print publications. She is the author of three chapbooks, and her first full-length poetry collection, Anarchy in a Dresser, is slated for publication with UNBOUND content in early 2014. Jennifer edits The Medulla Review.

1 Poem by Sergio Ortiz

How Loud This Voice Inside: tanka Sequence

with the lamp on,
I see a crater
where our bed last lay…
we watch the distance burn      

you are the last ring
of smoke
to be held tight…
           we’re lucky
           we’re not art

sunken moon,
my mind upside down
in the sky…
moonlight cannot polish stone,
or pester our transparencies

how silent the trees
how loud the shots of hunters
how broken
the geese wings…how hidden
the pocket knife tearing my desire


Sergio Ortiz  is a retired educator, poet, painter, and photographer.  Flutter Press released his debut chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk, in October of 2009.  Ronin Press released his second chapbook:  topography of a desire, in May of 2010.  He is a three-time nominee for the 2010 and 2011 Sundress Best of the Web Anthology and a 2010 Pushcart nominee.

2 Poems by Kate LaDew

you give me dreams

maybe I’ve never known you
except in that dark somewhere
where people find each other
the shadows highlight your face
and it is beautiful and black and bottomless
and only once in a lifetime does God surrender perfection
you are mine and I am crumbled before you
bleeding into slivers of stars that deepen
and meld with the dark
of your hands
sorrow divine as you
is not given up willingly
and I sleep in tumbles of shadows
black and bottomless

the message my father left before he died

it was one of those old answering machines with the little red light
beamed in from some other time,
you call me so late or so early

this is important
I wanted you to know,
and this is important,
I want you to know I loved you
in all the world, you moved me
I couldn’t let you down
I wanted you to know, listen, please, just listen,
this is important, I wanted you to know
I remembered you

it’s the only proof I have, you’re scattered somewhere in the wind now
the only proof I have your voice once filled a space
and it will fill me up forever, looping around my heart til I can’t breath
you call me every day, so late, so early,
the tips of my fingers rewinding again and again
this is important
this is important
this is important


Kate LaDew is a graduate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in Studio Art.  She resides in Graham, NC with her cat, Charlie Chaplin.

1 Poem by Bobby Fox

For Sale

A house once so full of life, so alive
Is now a lonely graveyard made
Even lonelier by ghosts.
Ghost memories.
Ghost objects.
Ghost meanings.
Each day a reminder
that I’m nothing
but a ghost myself.
No longer full of life.
No longer alive.
Dead inside.
And dying outside.
And waiting for what can
Never return.
Deconstructing the foundation
of our lives,
brick by brick
frame by frame,
until nothing remains
but vacancy,
a vacancy once filled
with so much promise.
A promise now for sale.


Bobby Fox is the award-winning writer of several short stories, plays, poems, a novel and 15 feature length screenplays. Two of his screenplays have been optioned to Hollywood. His works have been published in the The Naked Feather, The Medulla Review, Lap Top Lit Mag, The Path, Contemporary Literary Review India, Yareah Magazine, One Title Magazine, The Knotted Beard Review, Bareback, The Zodiac Review, Fortunates, Randomly Accessed Poetics, Wordsmiths, Toska, Enhance, Common Line Journal, Cold Noon, Miracle e-Zine, Shadows Express, The Rusty Nail, Airplane Reading, Untapped Cities, The Lyceum, Detroit News, Dearborn Times-Herald, TravelMag and inTravel Magazine. He is also the writer/director/editor of several award-winning short films. His recent stage directing debut led to an Audience Choice Award at the Canton One-Acts Festival in Canton, MI. Fox graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and a minor in Communications and received a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Wayne State University. In addition to moonlighting as a writer, independent filmmaker and saxophonist, Fox teaches English and video production in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, where he uses his own dream of making movies to inspire his students to follow their own dreams. He has also worked in public relations at Ford Motor Company and as a newspaper reporter. He resides in Ypsilanti, MI.
His website is Or follow him on Twitter @BobbyFox7.

1 Poem by Suchoon Mo


such a great opera
Don Jose killed Carmen
many times

a soprano in cold shower
is she singing
or screaming?

everyone is going to an opera
I am going to a funeral
everyone will be moved and touched
so shall I
everybody will be clapping hands
so shall I

you are allowed to yell
in an opera house
because she died singing
but you are not allowed to yell
in a funeral home
just because she died singing

when the soprano sings an aria
do not sing along
her voice will climb to the high C note
sooner or later
and you can only croak
like a frog

in this silent holy night
three drunkards sing
a song of silent holy night

in an empty theater
the stage is set
for a mute tragedy
of chorus singers
who are mute
on the stage

[Frog Mantra, Accents Publishing, 2012]


Suchoon Mo is a Korean War veteran and a retired academic living in the semiarid part of Colorado. His poems and music compositions appeared in a number of literary and cultural publications. His recent poetry chap book, Frog Mantra, has been published by Accents Publishing of Lexington, Kentucky.

1 Poem by Bola Opaleke


I lived in the days of sunshine
When stars literally grew from our palms
And the moonlight soft kisses upon our lips
Made our love stories sweet.
I lived in the days of giants
Where twas impossible to sit
For every new day brought new demand
To keep pace with the racing world.
I lived in the days of angels
Girls that shone brightly like the evening sun
Females, fresh like morning dew
Time when womanhood was shaped after the heart.
I lived in the days of great men
Napoleon, Arthur and Ghandi
Great Alexander, Lincoln, Haile Selassie
Days when our only weakness was our strength.
I lived in the days of Diana
Time, when fairies scrambled to know men
The earth underneath our feet was of diamonds
So we can only make love like gods.
I lived in the days of great warriors
Achilles, Hercules and Hector
Days when kingdom were built and empires formed
Time when our lives was crafted in Honor.
I live in the days of Obama, Mandela and Ali
Days when records were broken and history made
I live to witness white and black make beautiful babies
And watch the world unite to make dreams come true.
Sadly, I live in the days of technology
Where men are nothing but toys
And every little nudge provoke war,
Wars fought with robots from private bedrooms.
Hmmm. I live only in the glory of yesterday
For all the virtues of old presently counted for nothing
The future a million years backwards
Where every passing breeze brings a warning of doom.


Bola Opaleke was born in Ede, a village on the banks of River Osun in the western part of Nigeria. He attended the renowned Obafemi Awolowo University where he graduated with honors. Upon his relocation to Winnipeg he acquired a diploma in Addictions and Community Service. A number of his poems and essays were published in his undergraduate days and he has been privileged to deliver speeches at seminars and workshops. In 2012, his first collection of poems “A Note From Hell,” was published. His work prominently features the abject poverty of Africa and the eroded societal values and culture. Email:

2 Poems by Brent Lucia

Until five

Outsourced and combustible.
In your company’s break room, living ghost stories.
Watching lions
lick their wounds

and little girl’s pray in nobody’s mind.

Dust and Sparkle

When dust sleeps it dreams of becoming sparkle. That’s what we became, burning morning light. A flickering glow that keeps still, sings soft. By night the booze would take and I could hear the crackling of burning photographs. A woman with strangling, blue eyes.
That woman I knew.
She would come. Come find me in the dust.


My name is Brent Lucia and I was born and raised in Massachusetts but have been living in New York City for the past ten years. I am currently an adjunct lecturer at City College of New York and have been teaching both literature and writing courses for the past four years. Last fall, my short story “Lady in The Albatross” was published in the online journal, Danse Macabre Du Jour. In the spring of 2012 my short story entitled “Dirty Branches” was published in the Promethean Literary Journal.

2 Poems by Michael Lee Johnson

Young and Resisting (V2)
(Pre Exile-Vietnam War)

Eyes of anguish, heart of pain,
my homeland I despair.
My dreams I see before my eyes
a cabin in Northern lands;
snow bounded passages with mounting drifts
where lonely hearts meet, exiled,
sequestered, gathered.
I twist my shapes, confused, alone;
isolation is the mode of life,
no paths to plow but my own.
My eyes see universalities of hidden truths,
here lodge the changeless values.
Fringe, frigid, grief within the breeze
left to reckon with despondencies
of winters gone by;
mysteriously riddle,
drain brain-tease
with patriotism yet
reclusive calm,
I'm stashed away.
This wilderness avant-garde,
here now, alone, breathing-
I'm now a Canadian in this Northern land.

[03-25-1969; Revised 07-2012]

Fig Tree (V2)

Fig tree, fruit to all those
come and gone,
stare down your branches
with your human eyes:
God give us this day;
distressed fathers,
deceased mothers-
children chatter on sidewalks,
play hopscotch.
In the forest, construction men
cut the wood, make naked landscapes:
strong men, strong lives.
We all stop to contemplate
this theorem.


Michael Lee Johnson is a poet, freelance writer, photographer, and small business owner of custom imprinted promotional products and apparel:, from Itasca, Illinois.  He is heavily influenced by:  Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, Herman Hesse, Krishnamurti, Charles Bukowski, Leonard Cohen, and Allen Ginsberg.  His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available at:  The original version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, can be found at:  New Chapbook:  Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems, by Michael Lee Johnson:  Michael has been published in over 25 countries. He is also editor/publisher of seven poetry sites, all open for submission, which can be found at his Web site:  All of his books are now available on  Borders:  Barnes & Noble:
Now 43 videos on You Tube (just 4 recent ones here)
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1 Poem by Kerry Hammerton

What you don’t know

When I left you in the hotel lobby
ordering another coffee, the train
carried me closer and closer
to home and further away
from you – the landscape hidden
under mist and rain.  We only talked
about poetry, but the clefts between
the words said more.

No, there is no going back
to say different things and mean them.

The stars will always be there
even on cloudy nights.


Kerry Hammerton has published poetry in various South African and UK literary journals. Some of her poems were included in the anthology Difficult to Explain (Finuala Dowling ed.) and Africa, My Africa (Patricia Schonstein ed.). These are the lies I told you, her debut poetry collection, was published by Modjaji Books in 2010.

3 Poems by Mary Elizabeth Gillilan


At the end of the day when
I brush the dog and wash the coffee pot

the quiet comes
om mani padme hum

the time to walk outside
to stare into the haloed moon

the bells on the neighbor’s porch
sing out to gods and worms alike.


I hear the wind
    the low soft mother breeze
croon the tree animals
    to sleep

Under stars and melon-slice moon
    I curl inside a feather-down robe
the light from my window
    a lantern

Prayer flag verse—thoughts
    afloat and dreams tease
as the song breeze
    carries me away


The monk sits with me
on a rock above
the confluence of rivers

Diamond scaled fish
with emerald eyes
light the water

Fishers with nets of  
of silver and gold
glimmer in moonlight

I ask, here in this pool the fishers
net the fish only to die?

No, the monk laughs, this
is how fish become stars


From Bellingham, Washington, Mary Elizabeth Gillilan organized the Independent Writers’ Studio in 2009 where she leads writers’ groups and edits Clover, A Literary Rag.   Her recent publishing credits include: The Far Field, Washington state poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken’s blog; Breath and Shadow, and a chapbook published by the Independent Writers’ Studio called After Oz.

3 Poems by Maurice Oliver

Reinventing Poor Old Freud! 

The confidential patient notes had scribbling in the margins:
-Eden is just an alligator farm in Australia.
-sewing a zipper onto your knee cures head colds.
-fire insurance is nothing but a hot summer in the mid-30s.
-crickets unanimously prefer country music oldies.
-zeitgeist likes to be scrambled into Sunday omelets.
-public restroom are lousy at parallel parking.
-roadkill is just another word for dust bunnies.
-most bear growls have the ability to knock over trash cans.
-week-old hamburger meat is often an insomniac.
-a machine gun hates leaky diapers
-never expect a whiskey bottle to write intriguing poetry.

With Egret Feathers In My Apology

Dear Samantha,

Please forgive me for eating your marshmallow pie. Since
you’ve been gone, my shoehorn hides under the bed and
my yo-yo hangs limp down its string. Looking glass porters.
Walrus tusk raining. A cold wind that weeps onto my typo
without a handkerchief. And the sound of someone snoring.
I no longer believe in the power of court jesters as the ghost
of Christmas past insists on buttered bread. I only use
margarine and never wrap my fish in newspaper. But you
know all that. You know all there is to know about my heel
spurs and my talking horse in the barn. I guess I am trying
to say that my haystack is lonely. No blue lagoon. No palms
swaying in a tropical breeze. No peaches and pits. This is
how my linoleum floor feels. In small leather bound volumes,
with nothing to suck on but the Venetian blinds. A lid firmly
placed on the trashcan. Come unhandcuff me, and we can pile
leafy green vegetables onto our plates of carefree embroidery.

An O, Just Brighter 

I suppose you
could describe me as
usually resembling a honeycomb.
Most of the time I feel like the backseat of
a station-wagon missing the door handles. My
emotions hide in the glove compartment along with
the vehicle registration. I wear the attire of an impeccable
sailor with one raised leg at the fire hydrant. I can still slice lemons
while sleepwalking and I keep both morphemic feet in the hot
coals, using a mild bathroom cleaner. On a few occasions,
I bare witness to my massive Dorian Gray rated
PG-13, but most of the time I Bach on the
diving board for the Cracker Jack
prize, and the deafening
crash of ball to pins.
What else?
O yeah, I have
been known to rodeo
the small time clown in one
weekend and I encourage everyone to
end with a question mark too!


After almost a decade of working as a freelance photographer in Europe, Maurice Oliver returned to America in 1990. Then, in 1995, he made a life-long dream reality by traveling around the world for eight months. But instead of taking pictures, he recorded the experience in a journal which eventually became poems. And so began his desire to be a poet. His poetry has appeared in numerous national and international publications and literary websites including Potomac Journal, Pebble Lake Review, Frigg Magazine, Dandelion Magazine, (Canada), Stride Magazine (UK), Cha Asian Literary Journal, (Hong Kong), Kritya (India), Blueprint Review, (Germany) and Arabesques Review (Algeria). His forth chapbook was One Remedy Is Travel (Origami Condom, 2007). He edits the literary ezine Eye Socket Journal at: . He lives in Portland, OR, where he recurrently took an early retirement after working the past several years as a private tutor.

3 Poems by Wendy Chin-Tanner


On the beach where they played the shell game,
 my eyes looked out to sea.

Walking, forgetful of last steps over broken sand,
I wished then

to know nothing, wanting only to fuse
with the fog rolling in, to reach

the city of light shining, surely,
over the horizon.


I had fallen in love with the water
and after years of fighting

its rough salty waves, I was washed ashore,
raving, tumbling

over and over myself like sea glass,
head over ass.


My pockets are empty.
I have let go of all I have known

to stand here, to look both ways
before crossing.


Wendy Chin-Tanner is the author of "Turn," a poetry collection forthcoming from Sibling Rivalry Press in March, 2014. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals including The Mays Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge, The Saint Ann's Review, and The Raintown Review. Wendy is a founding editor at Kin Poetry Journal, a poetry editor at Stealing Time Magazine and The Nervous Breakdown, a staff interviewer at Lantern Review, and an online sociology instructor at Cambridge University, UK. She lives in Portland, OR with her husband, graphic novelist Tyler Chin-Tanner and their daughter Maddy.

3 Poems by Keith Holyoak

Controlled Flight Into Terrain

Dawn up above, fog set afire below
and no one else aloft to watch it all—
could be I’ve died, gone back to long ago
when great birds flew, when earth was virginal—
the mist dissolves the way a silken nightdress
flutters undone, my airplane’s shadow races
up the wild river—oh, I pity flightless
mortals left back asleep in human places!
This one last wilderness and open sky
belong to me—the spawning salmon lead
me on a spirit flight, skimming upstream
into a Chinese landscape scene where I
see snow-brushed mountain ledges blurred by speed
then touch the overhanging pines and dream….

Farewell Song for My Father

You were the mainland,
back when I rode your shoulders
across hayfields
and through the apple orchards.

After you formed
an archipelago
my boat set sail,
hugging those porous borders.

Your final island,
even as I passed it,
marked the way home
with murmured songs of shore birds;

But now the lighthouse
fades like a dying star—
there’s no return
to your familiar harbors.

The Night Ferry

A starless night
enfolds the open harbor;
the wind plays
its song with fir and cedar.

Out in the fog
a whistle sounds three times;
beyond the dock
a slow murmur draws nearer.

Suddenly lights
give shape to a shimmering ship
and snowflakes dissolve
into ripples of endless water.

The night ferry comes;
it stops to take me aboard
where I can sleep
and journey a little farther.


Keith Holyoak was raised on a dairy farm in British Columbia, Canada. He has published a volume of translations from classical Chinese poetry, Facing the Moon: Poems of Li Bai and Du Fu (Oyster River Press, 2007), as well as two volumes of original poetry, My Minotaur: Selected Poems 1998–2006 (2010), and Foreigner: New English Poems in Chinese Old Style (2012), both from Dos Madres Press. Keith is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Links: Facing the Moon: My Minotaur:–-poems-by-keith-holyoak/ Foreigner:

3 Poems by Kay Kinghammer


As with the Greeks, Aztec
Gods nursed fatal sibling rivalries.
Obsidian Butterfly gave birth
To Golden Bells and Blue Hummingbird.
The blue-skinned brother
(His father a ball of blue feathers)
Beheaded his golden sister
When she tried to kill
Their black-winged mother.
Her golden face still shines,
But turns in shame at each new moon.

As with the Christians, Aztec
Gods sent floods to punish sinners.
Noah saved some to start over.
Hunab washed the world
Free of sin and sinners
And started again with a clean slate.

In Nice, the French hold
A Battle of Flowers each year,
A symbolic song to Spring,
To rebirth and regeneration.
Each year the Aztec
Fought Flower Wars
With Feathered Warriors
To capture the food of the gods.

Catholics eat the body
And drink the blood of Christ
To save their souls for eternity.
Aztecs offered their own
And others’ bodies and blood
To their Gods to save their world
For eternity.

The Hebrews still wait for their Messiah,
Denying all pretenders.
Aztecs waited for Feathered Serpent
And welcomed the liar, Cortez.
He offered Aztec blood to his Christian God,
And Aztec gold to his Spanish King.
He destroyed their world
For eternity.


I have read the pictures in the stone,
Followed Jaguar down naked streets,
The soft pad of his paws loud in the silence,
Seen the Goddess in all her myriad forms,
Rotund, fecund, Reubanesque mother of us all,
Worn the serpent in my skirt
And heard the Golden Bells, Krishna’s Flute,
Chased Golden Apples,
Stood in my seashell,
Adrift in my father’s foam,
Been taught by Raven, that trickster,
And Loki, Thor’s bane and brother,
Of a brave, new world,
Looked for my Corn King,
Lithe and lean and green with longing.
I have harvested his death
And seen him born again in Nile’s mud,
Gathered and loved him, my Osiris.
I have danced with Grandmother Spider in the stars,
Through the swirling spirals of galaxies.
I have swelled my soul with stories.
I have known the pictures in the stone.

Grief Song at Tikal

I hear the wind in the trees,
And I am filled with desire.
With stingray spines and jade knives,
I bring you back.
You still wear that tight-woven necklace of rope.
How Ixtab howls to lose her favorite lover.
She wants you back.

How red my blood on the green blade.
I will speak with you of paradise,
You, brave warrior and suicide,
Doubly beloved of Ixtab.
We speak scant moments.

How red my blood beads
Where spines pierce.
The jealous Goddess is impatient.
You return to Ixtab.

Like the Nine Lords of Night,
I must wait for the Sixth World.
Perhaps you will be born again a bird.
Perhaps the priests will offer me to Inti.
Perhaps I will die in childbirth.
I wait.

The night surrounds me.
Naked streets and again,
The moon shines on blue.
Silent, in my blood, I sing
Green music.


As a story poet, Kay Kinghammer shares humorous, ironic, formal and free form poetry. Audiences have enjoyed her spoken word performances at Seattle's Bumbershoot and the Whidbey Island Poetry Festival. Samples of her written work appear in Granny Smith Magazine, Prospective – A Journal of Speculation, and Electric Windmill Press.

3 Poems by Marcia Arrieta

renaissance spring

fields of waves
railroad tracks
coast & clouds
a turbulent sea
wind & abandoned steel
mountains fall through fingers
lost cities
orange trees & sand

awaiting an answer

concrete examples solitude the treadmill the farmland reading logs chicken coops
embroidered dish towels

the word enigma complicates the conversation although no one is talking
resonance book store on green street art gallery at the top of the stairs

snow falling cherry blossoms & anemones
a branch in the middle of the stream sits on a rock thinking

i erase the board

“Alas, there are so many things between heaven and earth of which only the poets have dreamed.”
“I saw ascetics of the spirit approach; they grew out of the poets.”
                                                                        Nietzsche—Thus Spoke Zarathustra

chalk dust.     galleons.

remote possibility.     primeval waters.      risk.


Marcia Arrieta is a poet and artist. Her work appears in Web Conjunctions, Ellipsis, Cold Mountain Review, Osiris, BluePrint Review, Alice Blue, Ditch, Eratio, Moria, The Last VISPO Anthology, and Category 2 Installment One, Red Ochre Press .  She is the author of one book of poetry, triskelion, tiger moth, tangram, thyme (Otoliths Press), and two chapbooks, experimental: (Potes & Poets Press) and the curve against the linear (Toadlily Press’s The Quartet Series—An Uncommon Accord). She edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry journal.

2 Poems by LB Sedlacek

Porcupine Rain

When the rain comes
pouring, pounding into
the mud, flowing through gutters

as cars on highways racing
to work.  We can only
guess its schedule --

how long it will stay, or
how heavy or light the water will
be, or how much good it will do.

Candy Sweet Veins

Stars and polka dots become weapons of choice
with flailing arms and legs, next stop motor control.
But it doesn't stop -- more power to the legs.   And
we can beam information across a room but we can't
cure anything bad, real bad, very good.  The little white
sticks taste like candy.  Puts all kinds of ideas in
the mind.  We puff on them like cigarettes.  Everyone
tries them sooner or later.  We are slaves to the alarm
clocks spread throughout the house going off every
six hours.  This kind of work begs for something
stronger.  A lack of sleep may produce a drug
induced state, kind of like being drunk.  Maximum
interruption in a 10 lb. frame.


LB Sedlacek's poetry has been published in a variety of publications such as Big Pulp, Mastodon Dentist, Fickle Muses, Apparent Magnitude, Sea Stories, Ginosko, Connotations Press, Tertulia Magazine, The Broad River Review, The Hurricane Review, and others. LB's latest chapbook is District of Confusion (the Washington, DC poems).

2 Poems by Alisa Golden

Not Falling / Not Moving  
(Dedicated to the spirit of Aikido)

Not Falling

When fear leaves,
a vague     word     is left:
the four shadows where
the letters were

They were there, once,
in the darkness. She can feel
the     memory.

She moves to a
new spot higher up
and knows
what it feels like to

She learns and lands
on her feet
after rolling like a ball
and she is not afraid—

She is not    falling,
she is
in    f l i g h t—

That is the beauty
of rolling light.

Not Moving

He walks  a pattern with a stick,
each step in a line to strike
resolved to remove a
threat with a breath;
he can diffuse
the anger of a stranger.

As his body moves,
growing between the
cracks in the ground
his    m i n d   is
not moving.

Clear and careful
quick to respond
antennae tuned
aware as a sensing
cat’s whiskers
striking only air
he becomes
the magician, whistling.

One foot o p e n s  the ground
while the other pivots around—
interchange of left and right:
a dance of flight.

Arms high
as the jo flies, controlled,
circling before it lands

So fast
So clear
the attacker: gone

the air, trembling.
the earth, still.


Alisa Golden writes, makes art and handmade books, and teaches bookmaking in the Printmaking Program at California College of the Arts. She is the editor of Star 82 Review, and her work has been published in several magazines including Transfer, Generations, 100 Word Story, The Monthly, and Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine (UK). Info:

1 Poem by Roy K. Austin


That old beech held me high
when I was a young boy,
but with these brittle bones
I cannot climb her now,
and still she stands, breaking
through my lifetime’s weather,
sturdier than ever ,
her gnarled, transforming boughs
once mine, twisted skyward
with all my childish dreams;

old hands touch her bole now,
feel that numb resistance,
impervious to me,
my wise, old age to her
a mayfly existence.


I am retired and reside in Dorset England, Have written poetry for 20 years mainly metaphysical. I followed 20th century sages notably Alan Watts.

1 Poem by Christopher Mulrooney

it's a rap party

the Jungleland cruise safari
up the wickets down the bowls
everywhere the boaters flying freely
could you the argument please sustain
across the bar doubly syncopated
around the bend into the home stretch
with a stare from hungry children after the war
commercially successful pictures with big eyes


Christopher Mulrooney has written poems in Mot Dit, Paragon, Rhythm, Pacific Review, Tulane Review, Orbis, and Weyfarers.

2 Poems by Bethany W. Pope


Let me lie. There's no comfort in your comforting.
I was a princess born. My husband was a king.
I saw him hacked to death at his own altar.

The sons I bore were heroes to a man,
not cast in the common mold.
I laid my cut hair on their graves, their markers my tresses.

Now comes the last, the crowning agony:
that I, in my old age, shall go to Hallas as a slave
to help my mistress in her weaving, to sweep the floor

and carry keys that admit no freedom,
and if that scar-legged fox should wish it in his madness,
house my dust for a time in Odysseus's bed.

This messenger softens truth as my daughter distorts it.
Polyxena has no living husband- she keeps house for a grave.
She has gone beyond comforts.

Mad Cassandra, the last of my lovely ones,
dances to Hymen with hands full of lit torches,
she tears the wreath of laurels from her head.

She will not last long with Agamemnon.
The last of my children. My sunk, royal paps
will never feed others.

I am old, shorn, thoroughly humiliated-
draped in jokes and old rags. And yet.
Even here, in a basement, lodged with the dead

and the seepage from corpses, I am myself. A queen still.
Bear it. If Helen should come to me, glowing as always,
unlikely suing for mercy, I would grant it.

She never chose what she was, no more than I did.
This is a world where every princess is voiceless,
or mad like my daughter, no matter what she has said.

Like the wife of the master I go to, my life was spent weaving,
trapped in spindle, frame, bobbin,
caught in the threads.

Sisters II

Thirteen year old thighs, starved twigs, clamped
against the steaming flanks of the skeletal doe-eyed Guernsey,
pressing rib-bars against the slight muscle swell of hungry calves.
The hidden, ruptured though unblossomed cleft
tickled at the bloody prow by the hair ridge that sprouts along the spinal
column so that this girl seems some prepubescent acolyte of Mithras,
though she is evading slaughter. She does not beckon to the knife,
though the sickle moon intimates the fact that the blade-edge is coming.
It is cold, here, in October. She presses her arms around the place
the breasts will come, thinking saving my sister is saving myself.
Death cannot be worse than raping. The fields are reaped,
soil ruptured, right down to the corn stalks.
Blue lights flash on the distant horizon,
sunrise is coming, arresting fugitives in flight.


My first collection, A Radiance is available for purchase here: View my blog: Watch a recording of a poem from A Radiance

3 Poems by Robert Wexelblatt

                             Poème du Jour

                            When the iron certainty of fanatics
                             is fractured by the soft skepticism
                            of the civilized, when everyone’s rights
                            are firmly the rights of all, when the dawn
                            does not disclose a single corpse on the sand
                            and earthbound hope again extends feathered
                            wings, then our children may learn to recite
                            sonnets older and better than this one.

                            What must we sacrifice to the gods of
                            weather?  Our trucks, our toasters, the Sabbath
                            lights?  In August’s heat, desperate souls dial
                            down self-defeating air-conditioners.
                            A tsunami heaves above the supine
                            city, our delusions of innocence.

                           False Spring

                           The day stretches out like a waking cat.
                            Firestoned mud softens; emerald daffodils
                            stand headless but eager.  Sudden grackles
                            squawk and bully among flocks of fretful
                            winter sparrows cleaving to their feeder.
                            Ridged with grit, snow banks shrivel to gray knolls.
                            Joggers emerge, cyclists in their Christmas
                            gear; warm air inveigles with soil’s scent.

                            But to the north winter marshals its last
                            battalions, a blizzard of misery
                            to tease and freeze heart’s expectations.
                            Like gobbets of torn flesh, huge wet flakes fall
                            through the streetlamps’ pale glow.  In the morning
                            a cold sun winks off treacherous streets.


                            Age is the illusion mirrors make real,
                            a fact your adolescent soul belies.
                            Reflections don’t reveal what you feel,
                            just someone worn and wizened and not wise.


Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston University’s College of General Studies.  He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction in 2008.  His most recent book is a short novel, Losses.



1 Poem by E.J. Priestley


Fight beyond the moment,
beyond the day that grown
from hours breaks.
The parts of us we were,
am now & will always be
from other lives unfold in a glimpse,
yet all at once...
nine thousand angels
live on the head of this pen
the sunsets eye saw
are cluttered
with the bones of these ashes
time is the fire
in which we burn


E.J. Priestley

Travels: Africa, Europe, China
2008—2011 China.  Taught University
2011—2012: Lecturer in Honors Program (Early Entrance Program CSULA) where students graduate University at age 15.
2012—2011  Statement Magazine: CSULA
2009—2010 Renaissance Noire Vol.9FALL, WINTER 2010pg.68-69 New York
FOR KEEPS, a novel—2009 Otis-Parsons
Essay: "The Spirit of Art" for the Art—2003Marquette University
RAW DOG, a novel—
1995-2013--Writer's Guild of America Member
Abracadabra—1994 Heat Press, Edited by Cris Peditto
1992/94- /Lannon Foundation Fellow:
Arts Recovery Project Fellow:
We Speak as Liberators—1970 Dodd, Mead Publishers NY
What We Must See—Young Black Storytellers 1971
BEYOND BAROQUE, MAGAZINE--Story: “Nature of the Scar
LA WEEKLY Newspaper
May 6-12, 2004 Issue-- Story: “Along the Watts Tower”
January 19-22, 2004 Issue-- Story: “Incident at Charcoal Alley”
December 2003 Issue-- Story: “The Ice Storm”
October 10-16, 2003 Issue-- Story: “Ten Cents A Life”
Anthology: In The Eagle's Beak (1998) —Ardora Publishing Company, Madrid Spain, with Introduction by Mireia Sentis

3 Poems by Eleni Zisimatos


Missing, you are missing

I don’t know real from unreal
or maybe
I do.

That is the problem
knowing too much

infernal fires
undo the clasps
of a black gown


I fall only to rise
I must be careful not to

the choir of angels sings


Is it black or is it dark-brown
I can almost feel the silk
but it is not body that I see
now, only a whisper
and a cry, a song and

we are asleep in a grand hallway
where light and dark collide

tear out the empty
replace it with the full

I want to be near, to feel it
living or beyond
there are answers that we
don’t know

the silk wraps around me
I can breathe it in,

the dark bliss


inside the blood clots
the white is a figment, an illusion


at the centre of everything
snow sheltering

she can see the precise hand raised
the other, on extended knee

it is worship, this monument, this
frozen alabaster trick

still, she stops and listens to the ex-
cavated statue’s outer shell

the face immovable, the hand
that chiselled is long-gone

what is a memory?

in the midst of this invincibility
she unleashes flesh, blood at the centre
red heart across statue, snow

certain, there is something
in the ice

that moves  


Eleni Zisimatos is a widely published Canadian poet living in Montreal. She has been a finalist in the National Magazine Awards for her poetry and the Irving Layton Awards for both her poetry and fiction. She is currently co-editor-in-chief of the poetry magazine, Vallum: Contemporary Poetry.

3 Poems by Mary Jo Balistreri

Jam Session
                    Yellow finches perch
                                on swaying Niger-seed feeders
while hummers change sound
into light. It’s early but wind
plays rhythm, whisks cluster-
chord chimes, snares limbs
of bellowing bass, swishes
soft across pond’s skin.
Tempo scoops and lifts
spun wings of birds
impatient red accent
buzz of vibration
melodic quotation.

They will jam
until the sun grows high
until Honeysuckle Rose whorls
her sweet trumpet in the gathering heat.
Degas’ Woman

A woman bends for shells in the early light,
the ample tenderness of her curved back
a soft charcoal outline Degas might have
rubbed, making summer out of pastel and canvas.
Across her bare feet, a song of morning swooshes
pale green against the rounded, still form.
Small children inch into the surf,
their flowered hats blooming like water lilies.
The woman’s spine, bent like a fishing rod,
bows to the sea’s abundance, a connection
of give—and—take generosity.
Finding her treasure, she rises, slowly, the shell
cradled in her cupped hands. She smiles,
pleased with the beauty she holds as the children
draw near to see. Up above, gulls wing in the sheeted sky,
their looped script, black and silver.

The sun shifts, the shell gatherer rises, and memory nests,
curved line inside the woman, inside the observer, inside the poem,
where in the ongoing present
nothing is ever lost.


torn from tree for love
honey-sharpened by fierce sun
tongues of bright mangoes

Mary Jo writes poetry in a spirit of discovery, of witness, and of trying to understand who she is and her place in the world. She has been published in Avocet, Passager, The Healing Muse, Verse Wisconsin and others. Bellowing Ark Press published two books of poems, Joy in the Morning, 2008, and Gathering the Harvest, 2012. Please visit her website for more information:

3 Poems by Diane Payne

Hong Kong Flu

Fever came on fast. Without warning. Kept rising,
rising, rising, til my head felt like it exploded.
My parents noticed something wasn’t right
after I passed out on the dining room floor.

Doctor visited me at home, and said I had the Hong Kong flu.
My mother convinced him she could take better care
of me than the nurses in the hospital. He knew the real reason,
shook his head sadly, and left her with medicine.

I wrote letters to boys in Vietnam and knew Hong Kong
was somewhere in that direction. Fell asleep dreaming
of envelopes filled with colorful germs, but no words.

Weeks passed lying on a cot in the living room.
Down the street, a girl died of this same flu,
and I curled up on the stiff cot wondering if I’d notice
the difference between sleeping forever and sleeping through my feverish dreams
of watching people wearing big straw hats pushing carts down narrow streets.
I longed for an encylopedia so I could find some connection
between my fever and this faraway place.

If I lived, I was certain my parents would buy an entire
encylopedia set. A salesman might even give them a deal
if he came while I was burning in fever. Suddenly
my head was swimming in visions of Hong Kong and
I worried they’d buy H if we could only afford one volume.

I missed our dogs who lived in the yard
and whispered, “Buy D,” before falling asleep
dreaming of dogs wearing straw hats, dogs chasing carts,
dogs running through rice fields.

Before the Phone Goes Dead

I answer the phone and listen to a woman ramble on about
how she has locked her keys in the car and nothing is going right.
"I know this is the wrong number and I'm in this dark parking lot."
Then the phone goes dead and I'm left wondering if I should trace the call,
notify the police, or simply finish reading my daughter her books before bed.

Phone rings in the middle of the night and I must decide whether to answer it
or wait until morning to see who has died.I pick up the receiver but say nothing.
"Pendejo! ¿Sabes quien es?" he laughs.
I have no idea who he is and remain quiet.
"La cagamos," he continues.
"Portate bien," I say before the phone goes dead,
hoping he'll believe he's called his mother by mistake.

On a hot afternoon the phone rings and a man begins talking about how there's
only four hundred more miles to drive and everything will be fine this time.
He's sorry about what has happened and is certain it won't happen again.
"Baby, I can't wait to see you. Baby, why aren't you saying anything?"
"I think you have the wrong number."
"Quit clowning, Baby."
"I'm not."
Then the phone goes dead.


As a child, I'd rearrange the living room furniture
before my mother returned from another stay
at the hospital, looking somewhat faded and less
complete after having tumors removed here and there.

Feeling incapable of providing a miracle,
I'd haul the worn-out orange chair to a different
corner in the living room and the beat-up couch to another wall.

Knowing my mother would be spending her entire day
sleeping on this couch, I'd try to find a view that'd
replace oldness with new. Make the place look like
a living room instead of the dying room it always became.

Mother would stagger in looking confused. Too young to understand the peaceful
disorientation of morphine,I'd watched my mother find the couch and mumble it looked
so nice and clean before falling asleep, rearranging her dreams.


Diane Payne is the author of the recently published short story collection Freedom's Just Another Word <>, the memoir Burning Tulips <
_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1364566560&sr=1-3>, and the young adult novel A New Kind of Music.
<>. She teaches creative writing at University of Arkansas-Monticello, where she's faculty advisor of Foliate Oak Literary Magazine.<