Spring Issue 2019

I Think


Doesn’t everyone who waits for a speeding train’s approach


                  while sitting there,

                  stopped by stiff arms dropped to mid-waist

                              like a worn-out woman,

                              lulled by the gravely roar of train on tracks,

                              beating the steady rhythm of impatient thumbs

                 rapping on the steering wheel,

Of saying set-ready-go, and stomping the gas,                

                 riding the underbelly of the iron horse,

                 galloping quickly through the darkness,

                 letting reins go for dear life,

                 landing where there is no waiting,

                 finding safety from Life’s long haul.

Teresa McLamb Blackmon

Teresa McLamb Blackmon is a retired high school English teacher.  She graduated from NCSU in 1984 with a MA in English.  She graduated in 1995 from NCCU with an MLS.  Teresa lives on a farm near Benson with her dogs, donkeys, and goats. She recently lived in Radford, Virginia. She has had poems published in Toasted Cheese, Absinthe, The News & Observer, Poet Lore, and Cellar 101 Anthology, Nochua Review, and various local community publications.




Passing under the lime tree

a certain angle of early sunlight

catches the aphid-frass, or perhaps

pollen (it is spring) falling, finer

than rain, more gold. Seen between alleys,

the river oxbows through fly-

dumped meadows, is culverted

under the slip road, then a long

duck-boarded sequence (Saturday and

I meet no one) coarsens gradually

through a golf-course where the pollen-filmed

ditch widens into a dandelion-fluff-

strewn channel down to a railway, grubby

reflections of multilingual

bright graffiti, sifting it, head down,

the tunnel comes out on the heath,

still-smoking mopeds, furze, bramblings, stream-noise

a large iron gate I can push open, onto

warehouses, post office depots, another

high street, alleys, then reedbeds,

stench. Pipes strut towards a concrete tower.

Here pause long enough to sense

the wind through sedge, three

blackbirds fighting, an alder, puddles,

a wartime pillbox. The hum and seethe.

One bird turns its head rapidly.

Last week’s rain comes out as leaves.

A satellite view would show the circles,

suggest by coloration the sludge

settling, but I get the ammoniac

knock at my olfactory gates.

Scrub this, purify, settle the loss. Weeks

pass through the system until the river

comes clean. Matter is parted.  Spirit

settles: our sediments are sunk in thought.

Giles Goodland

Giles Goodland was born in Taunton, was educated at the universities of Wales and California, took a D. Phil at Oxford, has published a several books of poetry including A Spy in the House of Years (Leviathan, 2001)  Capital (Salt, 2006), Dumb Messengers (Salt, 2012) and The Masses (Shearsman, 2018). He works in Oxford as a lexicographer, teaches evening classes on poetry for Oxford University's department of continuing education,  and lives in West London. 


City Bar

Private space lends itself
to voices that switch key and overtake 
                           like fleets 
of advancing taxis. Fluted glasses 
rise, greet each other’s slimness 

in high-saluting hands. Carboys
mass on shelves as witnesses.  
                        The message is: this
must be sent, not be lost, 
it’s being filmed also

by faces that fall, revealing 
ears, neck and hair.
                        They’ve transferred
their body-heat into joints
of furniture which sweat for them

and comment after departure
into a cold-faced evening.
                         Hearing was within 
reach but vanished in the call
for the next litter of assorted fish. 

Cleansing salt-grains wink on china,
mouths have found a purpose
                         in the light
of greased napkins.
Rush hour is going on in shapes

inhaling exile, like the dry circle
stains on the keratin table.
                          Feet that tap
with the notes which the flatscreen 
marches to, are agile for a minute. 

Josh Ekroy

Josh Ekroy's collection, Ways To Build A Roadblock is published by Nine Arches Press. His poems have appeared in The Forward Anthology and Best of British Poetry (Salt). 


A Way Out
Today, the cloth of the cosmos
came undone at the seams-undone
like a bootleg Gucci handbag.
Today, entire continental coasts 
were consumed in a New York minute,
the Pope declared heaven is not real and
Saturn was sucked into the belly of a black hole.
Today, all semblance of order evaporated into
the organic air of an American Spirit cigarette-
the bright yellow pack with that mild, additive free taste. 
Today, the ice caps melted, capitalism collapsed. and 
nothing will ever be the same again, as all Hell broke loose.
Today, for the first time, my son climbed out of his crib. 

George Payne

George Cassidy Payne is a poet, photographer, essayist, and social worker. George works and lives in Rochester, NY. Over the years his poetry has been included in a variety of domestic and foreign journals and magazines, including Chronogram Magazine, Allegro Poetry Journal, Mojave Heart, the Red Porch Review, Albany Up the River Poets Journal, Teahouse, The Adirondack Almanack,The Mindful Word, Talker of the Town, Pulsar, Moria Poetry Journal, Ampersand Literary Review, and many others. When he is not writing or taking photographs of natural landscapes, George works as a domestic violence counselor, adjunct instructor of philosophy, and social justice activist. He has a beautiful wife and two wonderful children named Mendon and Ellison. He can be reached at 585-703-9230/icaj2000@yahoo.com.


 hands in the clouds


one day I had to photograph

a woman without a face though

one that resembled a face with eyes

still able to express feelings

the only parts unreconstructed by

a wild impasto of the plastic surgeon’s art –

we discussed her pose for a passport

yet had no discussion on how her situation

came about or where this black and white

photo would take her – she smiled with difficulty –

complied with what needed to be done -

I sensed in her familiarity with performance

how this image was only official

not a gift for a lover to go in a frame

and how she knew there might never be

a special caress for this same face

unless it became different by some new art

that exerted a fresh transformation – it took

only a minute a long time ago   -

afterwards it was also

the first time I climbed to the top of a hill

and stuck my hands in the clouds to be cleaned

in their unearthly texture and tried to gain

a semblance of meaning from what

I had seen – have found since that life

can often be difficult on clear days


James Bell

James Bell is a Scottish writer of poetry and short fiction who now lives in France. His work has appeared most recently in: Nine Muses Poetry ,Visual Verse,  Runcible Spoon, The Projectionist's Playground, Quixotic Travellers (A Poetry Kit E Book), and Multiverse -an international anthology of science fiction poetry.


The Shell Gatherer


I’m out by dawn birds’ nesting early May,

my school shoes drenched with dew. Eyes everywhere,

I thrash about dense undergrowth to flush

small warblers from their hides along the wood-

land edge. The clumsy stumbling giant to them,

like Gulliver in Lilliput, I feel

for pearls. Fair compromise, I kid myself,

take one per clutch. So delicate against

my skin, translucent, lustrous, wafer thin,

one furtive glance, I can’t resist. My room,

best over with, I make a pin hole at

each end and blow. Guilt loiters with intent,

a broken ornament, tell-tale wet paint.

Resistant till air pressure breaks the sac,

it slides out easy after that. If there’s

a chick inside, you have to prick it till

it’s mashed enough to mangle through. I place

it carefully with the rest, shoebox beneath

my bed, on cotton wool, where each dry husk’s

an empty lifeboat on a troubled sea.


Peter Branson

Peter Branson, songwriter, singer and poet – poetry published widely, including in Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Anon, Envoi, London Magazine,  North, Prole, Warwick Review,  Iota, Butcher’s Dog, Frogmore Papers, Poetry Salzberg Review, Interpreter’s  House, South, Crannog, SHOp, Causeway, Columbia Review,  Main Street Rag, Measure and Other Poetry; ‘Selected Poems’, 2013; ‘Hawk Rising’, ‘Lapwing’, 2016; shortlisted Poetry Business Pamphlet/Collection competition, 2017.



Scene I (starring Mary Pickford):

The tongue had been tied too long
It had laid on the crusty molars
Like a damsel waylaid by that villain
With the stovepipe hat and moustache
Who likes to leave the ladies
Trussed on railroad tracks
The tongue struggled with its bonds
Dreading approaching doom
Its taste buds were sour
With the ad nauseam of minstrel melodrama
It wore pigtails and a coat of furry grey fear

Finale (starring Boris Karloff):

The lips move in a crescent
Of restraint
God help them
If the tongue should slip out

Judith Corleto

Judith Corleto is an unpublished poet who has just begun to attempt submissions, my own "tied tongue" having lain quiet for too long


The Tap End

It would start out with the sprinkling of oils 
or bath salts into the warm almost hot, 
waters of our tiny bathroom tub
(and he was not a tiny person)

While I happy with what had just happened,
ceremoniously (we'd done it so often)
padded out to the kitchen to readjust the black plastic radio
onto classic with just the right, not too much, loudness

he would lie back, feet up on the blue flowered wall over the tap and luxuriate, 
basking in that very comfort that movies usually
express with the post-pleasure cigarette lovingly shared
sometimes even in 3-D

with its marvelously  photogenic whorles of  daisy blue smoke
drifting out over the hall.
But no, we didn't smoke.

So anyhow, I'd come into the bathroom, cheerfully naked,
politely ask (ritually) if he's really sure he'd like to give up
his comfort and share his warm bath with me

and of course, he always said yes, so then
he'd turn his huge handsome body half way around,
leaning his back on the wall side of the tub

resting his long lovely legs on the closed toilet seat
and I'd climb on into the tub (not on the tap side)
lie back, straddle his soft oily body with my not so long legs
picturing myself, to myself, as a living Freda Kalo

as if I'd just given birth to this huge handsome God
whom I loved no matter what
(and there was a lot of what)

But oh how we cuddled and talked about nothing.
Nothing to talk about, really.
Everything so close to perfect...

Joan Dobbie    

Joan Dobbie has a 1988 MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. Her work, now and then winning a prize for her, has appeared in chapbooks, anthologies and literary magazines online and in print. Her Poemoir, "Woodstock Baby, A Novel in Poetry"(The Unforgettables Press) came out in 2013 and her "Stone Poems"(Uttered Chaos Press) is due out in October 2019. A shorter version of the poem  The Tap End appeared in 'Poetry L'Amour' 2018.  She co-hosts the River Road Reading Series (RRRS) in Eugene, Oregon.


A Clay Sumerian Figure


Looted from a Baghdad museum,

a clay Sumerian figure,

outstretched arms, conical hat,

five thousand years old, four inches

tall, a hole drilled through the head

at a steep angle when the clay

was still fresh and white, clean and wet.

I found it at a yard sale

after a combat veteran shot

a dozen holes in his house and died

in a fit of gray hysterics.

When I display the figure

to our local archaeologist

he faints in a crumple of denim.

Revived, he begs me to hide

the figure, destroy it, bury

the pieces on a moonless night.

He claims that the hole angled

through the head curses anyone

who touches this figure stolen

from a tomb it once adorned.

But doesn’t this sort of nonsense

applies to most antiquity?

At home I run a wire through

the hole to hang the figure

on my Christmas balsam fir.

Maybe it makes a little cry

as I insert the wire but

once on the tree it dangles

among all the other ornaments

without further fuss. Later,

after a noggin of rum, I doze

and dream of cut stones in the desert

and a creak of sarcophagi

opening to emit colored gases.                              

That’s all. I didn’t die in sleep.

The figure remains on the tree,

dangling in contemplation,

its lack of expression comforting,

its desert smell so hearty

it seems to fossilize my heart

against the depredations of age.

William Doreski 

William Doreski's work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (2018). 






Did the apple bring comfort,

cold against this breast

chemically-cured to be plump

from the court-ordered castration

fixing Mr. Smarty Pants?

Yes, comfort me with apples

since I am sick of love

which can’t be expressed-----

mans’ hands familiar

on the flesh of another man.

Was my math as perverse

at first taken to task

by military brass

until my machine, Christopher,

cracked one German code

proving the Bletchely teams’ leadership

& shortening the war

with a million fewer lives lost?

What cost for genius,

these machines’ future use

if I kiss men under cover,

a spy in love’s house?

That was your verdict

with Community Service,

syringes & pills,

luckier than most

as my mind turned to fuzz.

Adam, behold this apple

cyanide-laced to my lips,

Eve’s snake in the grass

as accident or suicide

the balm of Cleopatra’s good asp!

Decades later came pardon

ironically from a Queen.

Funny, from me, they never asked

for forgiveness,

but maybe in some Ether

there is spirit enough

to accept this last gesture

honorary as laurels,

Lilies and wreaths. 

Stephan Mead

A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer.  Since the 1990s he's been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print zines and eventually online.  He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance.  In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place: Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead For links to his other media (and even merchandise if you are interested) please feel free to Google Stephen Mead Art.

Winter issue 2019

Ode to the manipulative

                    Indebted, however willing to
                    work under these conditions.
                    Apparently a simple knock off
                    alarm silent like a parable.
                    Murals of psychedelic wallpaper
                    distracted songs of the burglars.
                    Someone's point of view was an arrow
                    simplifying any choice.
                    The safe however big, humongous
                    drawers of diamonds and the like,
                    set forth with pure thoughts.
                    Pay a few debts, winter in the Bahamas
                    until our lookout flashed his wining smile
                    justifying even the doubters to quit on us.  

                                                                   Colin James


                                      Fads created to a prissy gnomic 

                                       On weekdays the
                                       somersaults on our street 
                                       take precedence.
                                       Have their own lane marked
                                       with capricious orange barrels.
                                       Unmoved themselves, 
                                       belts and no pockets
                                       hang a sign out even,
                                      " FLIPPING HECK!"
                                       all over the proximities.
                                       This is why a road fears.
                                       Its back taken up
                                       reclaimed, troughed
                                       into the uncommon.   

                                                                             Colin James


I am waiting for the moment
when I no longer have to speak.
That precise second when my voice
becomes obsolete, when the idea
of utterance seems as
quaint and ridiculous as a
pair of spats on my
newest shoes. Conversation
can be a minefield. Little wonder
sages hold their own counsel,
communicating in half-smiles,
crinkled brows, and mercurial
glitterings of the eye.
Nearly clairvoyant, their discourse
is profound.

Somewhere, an island
awaits me.

Somewhere, brother monks
speak in sign.

                                             Robert L Penick

Seven Days Sober

After a week, the alcohol gets nervous.
He hasn’t heard from you, not a peep.
Thinks you’re an ingrate, after all
he’s done for you, all you’ve
been through together. Like the time
the two of you went to jail
for sleeping in the playground area
of the local park.

He’s a buy here pay here car salesman
who hasn’t moved a unit all week.
He’s your wing man, your backscratcher,
your warm blanket on lonely nights.
He’s a devoted lover
and you’re the only thing
keeping him going.

He wants to come home.

                                                     Robert L Penick

Previously, Robert's work has appeared in well over 100 different literary journals, including The Hudson Review, North American Review, and the Hawaii Pacific Review.  Lots of reviews out there.  He edits Ristau: A Journal of Being and, in 2018, won the Slipstream Press chapbook contest. 


septembers' songs are for the chosen
only, in school yards and their halls-
not for those too thin
too fat, the gimps, the lame
the geeks, the different, the lonely-
not for those whose year of fear
and loathing begins on schools return-
not for those who must learn
survival skills, camouflage, 
avoiding the radar of the merciless
who hunt them -
not for the introverted who
avoid mirrors without friends
or confidence -
not for the trembling braniacs
whose books are sport
for those too dumb to understand them -
not for the silent poetically inclined
who steal away early,
hiding in their rooms
one more island rock, among 
the archipelago of losers
waiting for summer to release them,
behind their fortress of solitude
made of comic books and dreams
that border on the darkness
and the allure of blue gillettes.

                                                    Joseph A Farina 

The body acting upon the mind
Across 4 city lanes, a jukebox kicks up
a barmaid’s call to morning drinkers:
King of the Road following Seventh Son.
Summer sweating, standing in stone-scuffed boots,
I’m choking on gravel dust at the edge of a ditch
Deeper is darker is damaged—
donation clothes, foster home years,
county clinic Gold Cards.
The dream where my father
rages in the next room
replays six times a month.
First loyalty is seeing myself protected.
I go silent, grow anxious when given a gift.
I quit praying after three years without response.
Roadwork trenches empty the stores.
I squirm on a broken bus stop bench,
juggling tokens and library books,
the hazards of a parent’s promise,
long rides to retrieve VA meds.
Deeper is darker is damaged—
Friday fight, weekend chill,
apartment moves at the first of the month.
Bitter is a child shoplifting for his lunch.
If I avert my eyes,
it’s to hide suspicion.
In the car, I keep a copy
of Time Out of Mind, of Late For The Sky
as language sharing the limits of survival.

                                                                     R.T. Castleberry

RT Castleberry's work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, Pedestal Magazine, Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, Silk Road and Argestes. Internationally, it has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. I’ve had poetry in the anthologies: Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen, Kind Of A Hurricane: Without Words and Blue Milk’s anthology, Dawn. My chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.

Honest Enough

You ask me how I am, how I feel, 
what I’ve been doing,
if it is me that I write about.
Is it honest what I’m saying.
Well, what is honest and how would I know.
There are many sides to honesty.
It’s impressionable.
My impressions, yours, someone else's
all joined up by me.
Redesigned in the selection process
to fit that moment only.
Is that honest enough?

                                              Lynn White

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Her poem 'A Rose For Gaza' was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition 2014. She has been nominated for a Pushcart and her poems have appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Indie Soleil, Light Journal, Snapdragon and So It Goes Journal. Find Lynn at: https://lynnwhitepoetry.blogspot.com and https://www.facebook.com/Lynn-White-Poetry-1603675983213077/

Celebration of body

I want to celebrate my body
Not in a way others celebrate
not in a way as if
Someone draws a line of unseen images
with the touch of fingers  and lips
then he or she might ask to reveal
the mystery of the images-
symbolizes love and hatred

I want to celebrate my body
Not the way others do
But the way 
With the freedom of choice
With the freedom of voice

                                                            Shafinur Shafin

Shafinur Shafin is a Bangladeshi poet, research scholar and academician. She has published her debut book “Nisangam” which is a collection of Bangla poems in 2016. As she cannot paint, so she wants to create image with the power of words. She writes in Bangla and English both language. Her Bangla poems have been translated into seven different languages including Nepalese, Hindi, French, Spanish, German and Italian language. Her English poems have been included in two anthologies published from New York and Philippine, and also her poems appeared in several international magazines. 

Room For Crazy?    
A crazy guy came into
the coffee shop today.
He  tried to hide it
but it stuck out
like a rodeo clown
in a monestary in Budapest
on Good Friday.
From his first sentence
to the barista
about the flat tire
that started his day
crazy spilled forth
and began consuming
all rational thought in the room.
It was a parasitical form
of crazy – feeding on sanity
like a tick bloated with crazy.
I recognized it immediately
as did others enjoying
their lucid, coherent coffee
with a dash of cream.
I managed to deflect
his interruptions
of craziness
by not establishing
eye contact, coupled with
a pair of ear buds
and a laptop
as my forcefield.
I was sporting a look
that said,
A sane couple
sitting nearby mistook
his introduction for simple
friendliness and spent
the next ten minutes
on the far side of crazy.

                            Jim Landwehr

Jim has two books, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir, and The Portland House: A ‘70s Memoir. He also has three poetry collections, On a Road, Written Life and Reciting From Memory. His nonfiction and poetry has been published in many different journals. Jim is Poet Laureate for the Village of Wales, WI.