New Year’s Eve by Ellaraine Lockie

The year is all packed
Refusing to be left behind
A black baggage of grief
burned by betrayal in love’s incinerator
And by beloved bodies dehydrated
as they processed to fine particles

My inability to focus
scatters like ashes over stacks
of partially-sorted photographs
Piles of unfinished poems
maneuvering their midlife crises
And multiple party invitations
Each promising to
bring in the best new year

Confetti falls from one
like gaiety imposed by a pushy hostess
Another drones Auld Lang Syne
in digital incessance as I open the invite
Bottles of booze litter the last two
Conjuring loss of inhibition
and sloppy kisses from strangers

Picking the best of the bad
proves to be as challenging
as choosing proper party apparel
And my fifth and final change
forces me in front of Times Square
Countdown clarity as plain
as the pajamas I wear

that when the year clocks into next
I’ll unpack the bereavement baggage
Accept sorrow’s timetable
And snack on some more popcorn
or pretzels or peanuts
Or maybe nachos or Cheetos
or chocolate covered mints



Ellaraine Lockie is widely published and awarded as a poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Tripping with the Top Down is her thirteenth chapbook. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England Competition, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Ellaraine teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.


Detail of photograph by Frances Benjamin Johnston, Self Portrait as “New Woman,” 1896.

Hemp, Haiku & Social Lies by Tracy Mitchell

He toured Kansas, then Greenwich
where he lived as a postulant, later
described as the happiest time of
his life. With a face resembling
Vonnegut, or a plump pumpkin
going flat, he aged quickly along
with American innocence, if ever
there was such a thing. The hippies
thought him a god-like blend of
hemp, haiku and hitchhiking, a
view he never admitted to liking.
Authorities long considered him
a poet in times of war, a lector
at the City Lights Bookstore,
and of that they could not abide.
He went to the camps, went to
shore, and finally went to ground.
His daughter, Mary, changed her
name to Mariana. His third wife
left him for a poet. No record remains
of the man having lived or died, but
for his words, and now this,
and only after tea and peyote.
A pipe plays slow and long. Low
thunder sloshes from the Rockies to
Brooklyn, Chicago to The City, where
streets on the hill tilt toward the sea.



(First published in Poetry Circle.)



Tracy Mitchell is a newly retired native Minnesotan, recently relocated to the splendor of Colorado. His free verse writing is largely inspired by the vagaries of this frail and transitory life. Fair game subject matter includes nature, ourselves, and each other. His best work has been imagined by the campfire in a clearing somewhere near sleep. He is a contributing member of Poetry Society of Colorado, MyWritersCircle, Writers Among Us, Poetry Circle, and PigPen Poetry Forum. His work has appeared in Lake Region Review, and the poetry anthology As the Kettle Wolf-Whistled.


Photograph of Kenneth Rexroth reading, source Foundsf.

Compassion Moves the World by Michael H. Brownstein

After the sculpture Compassion Moves a World,  by Julie Rotblatt-Amrany

In the days that followed
The blue ink of sea broiled over

A child, a vulture, a lack of seed.
Everything spreading outward.

Wind whined into place and rained.
Sun spread its thick arms and stayed.

One person can make a world.
A strong wind can swim in acid and wake.

Water in turmoil thickening.
Hold on with all of your might.

The earth has not broken open yet.
The legs of the strong are stronger

Than the waves of the cloak of life.
We will come to cross this path,

We will make it across this continent,
We will find the child, the vulture, the seed.

We will change the shape of water.

compassion-moves-a-world full length

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

#MeToo: Sister Poem #5 -Double Date: The Quarterback, The Fullback, & The High Cost of Dinner by Alexis Rhone Fancher

When the date ends, your sister will
kiss the fullback goodnight on tip toe
under the porch light, her soft curls a halo
illuminating her naivety.

You, on the other hand,
will stare at your bare feet.
Not shy: Sullied. Seething.

Your sister will thank the fullback for dinner
at Tony’s on the Pier,
the copious cocktails and signature chocolate mousse.
She’ll tell him she had a wonderful time.
That she hopes she’ll see him again.

You will say none of these things.
You will mind your manners.
You will try not to think how the quarterback
just forced himself into your mouth.

You will bite your tongue and smile,
pretend his baller body
hasn’t just slammed into yours,
that he didn’t wipe his penis on your sheets
when he was done,

that while he was assaulting you,
you didn’t wonder if the fullback was out there,
raping your sister. If he, too, was brutal.

In fact, your sister and the fullback only
watched tv, making out, but just a little.

You had no way to know this.

You lie there and take it for your sister.
You think about her delicate spine,
believing if you play it wrong,
he might snap her like a sparrow.

They eye the closed door of your bedroom.
They share a knowing smile.
They know nothing.


First Published in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, 2017



Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Plume, Rattle, Diode,
Rust & Moth, Nashville Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (2017). A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly.

breeding by Jess Kangas

sobriety breeds insomnia
breeds my sunday
night-at my home, it’s mother’s
day-I bought the succulent near the horse farm, the card
in walgreens, I posted on facebook with 3
hearts-our secret.
remains. it comes from the mother-
yours was a lion actress, she took men in
her mouth on acid while
you ate tv dinners nearby, I remember
her in the mall-every step a broken step- her mother
GG. seventy years old bail bondsman in Florida-
the prisoners loved her- she had dinners
with everyone, you mentioned the drugs, guns, the transgender
woman, that guy Nicky had a knife.
and your father’s mother- they called her red,
she lied about her birthday, her clothes neatly
pressed- no one ever spoke
of her son that passed-
they lived
on the upper
west side- fine china, two maids-
one nanny. when the stocks
crashed- he blanked himself-
we never speak of what
lies dormant
in my womb.



Jess Kangas is a strawberry siren poet located in Buffalo, NY. Her poetry is rich in sound, structure and secrets.



Photograph by Steve Snodgrass.

#MeToo: The doer and the done upon by Ankita Anand

I sprawled on the floor, was asked to sit properly,
beginning of shame in my being.

A boy I didn’t know whispered foulness in my ears
on the playground. I made sure my loose shirts
kept my chest as flat as it felt
in those seconds of frozen air.

Middle-aged bicycleman airkissed me,
I pedaled hard. At thirteen I learnt the roads
do not carry my weight
but weigh me down.

How many things must be rotten in our Denmark?

In Taekwondo class I stretched my legs
on both sides till they hurt, till much after the hurt.
Two girls, their feet against mine, silently promising me
I won’t relent. That winter, the flame
of pride in my thighs kept me warm.

I named parts of my body
(that asked why I never spoke to them)
to tell wide-eyed men of the exact violations they committed.
I discovered my tongue and language could be allies if they spent
enough time together.

Curious, I returned the gaze foisted upon me,
took my time to take in this bundle of nerves turned to jelly.
My eyes were street dogs who could fight on half-empty
stomachs, every day pulled into games others played, refusing
to be tamed.

My body says it wishes to unlearn the fear of what could be done
to it, to show me everything it can do.



A version of this work was first published in Tuck Magazine.



Ankita Anand’s writing has travelled through India, Pakistan, Singapore, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, the US and the UK. She also facilitates writing workshops. An archive of her publications can be found here:



Photograph by Saad Akhtar. 

Four Poems for Christmas Sharing

Pressed Pansies by Victoria Crawford

A mother’s gift to make for Christmas day
in the book, Pressed Flowers, from a thrift store.
A Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.

My pansies were blooming in bright array.
Cardboard and string press pansies galore,
a mother’s gift to make for Christmas day.

I made backing and frame from an old tray,
gilded for flower picture Mom would adore
a Eureka! savings for teacher’s pay.

Pressed pansies, picture framed, artful bouquet,
glossy glitter made it cleverly shine more
for mother’s gift handmade for Christmas day.

December, the present and I on our way
hit potholes before we reached Mom’s front door
and that Eureka! moment for teacher’s pay?

Bumps, glue, and gravity ruined the display:
ruined pansies and glitter weren’t much, for
a mother’s gift made for Christmas day
or Eureka! stretching a teacher’s pay.



Winter by Martin Willitts, Jr.

silence and cold expectations
speak thinly
with deep pain
into new fallen snow
through the determined
among blue hazed trees

wind moves slowly
wearing snowshoes



Andy Williams by Kenneth Pobo

Aunt Gwen plays his albums while
pushing a splintery mop
over crabby kitchen tiles. Andy
sings that he hears the music
from across the way. Gwen thinks
maybe she hears it too—only oak
leaves against a screen. She wishes

that just once Tree would have taken her
to see him at the Moon River Theater
in Branson. Last Christmas
he promised, but his job got busy
and Delia Anne came home broke.

As Gwen pours gray water down the sink,
Andy sings “Moon River”–
We’re after the same rainbow’s end,
the album turning in endless circles, Gwen

stopping suddenly when a tuxedo’d man
leaps out from worn grooves
to offer her one red rose.



The Captive Fire by Wren Tuatha

She tosses the yarn
and the kittens roll with it,
hitting the wall at the
propane heater,
its grill a cage for
the captive fire within.

She lets out a smile
but it swings back to her,
on a pendulum,
like a good smile,
contained in quiet play.

In the span of a sigh
the kittens will leave, cats,
echoes of the children
who fell, men and women,
from her breast.
She would give a breast
to be needed
that way again.

She snatches the yarn
and the kittens
settle for her shoelace
as she finishes the fringe
on her fourth grandson’s afghan.
Muted shades of
red, orange and yellow.



Victoria Crawford. From Monterey, California, Victoria is a poet passionate about connecting nature and the human experience in words to share with readers. She has been published in Peacock Journal, the Ibis Head Review, Wildflowers Muse, the Lyric Review, Eastlit, Penwood Review, and other magazines, as well as having upcoming work in Canary and Pacific Poetry.

Martin Willitts, Jr. is a retired Librarian. He is the winner of the 2014 Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award and Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge, June, 2015, Editor’s Choice. He has over twenty chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus eleven full-length collections including Dylan Thomas and the Writing Shed (FutureCycle Press, 2017) and Three Ages of Women (Deerbrook Editions, 2017).

Kenneth Pobo has a new book of poems out from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: The Queer South anthology, Caesura, Colorado Review, Mudfish, and elsewhere.

Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Poetry Pacific, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at JUMP, the International Journal of Modern Poetry. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.



Painting: Night on the eve of Ivan Kupala (1892) by Henryk Slemiradzki (1843-1902).

Santa by Jack D. Harvey


Looking in the eye of Santa
the vista all behind the orb,
curled and
feathery landscape of trees
and snow;

the fault is mine, not his
I see no farther.

In the snowpalace
his red suit waits;
the deer outside
move gently in the cold;
food is no gift.

From the nose of Claus
the rosy delicate color
rises, ripens
to the cheeks;
his pink ears,
open as porches,
give insights to the
insides of chimneys,
children’s’ wishes.
Gifts, in the eye of
Santa, become pledges
that a good king makes;
bounty that makes men
feel the burden
of heaven
and its law.
Give, says the pelican;
love thy brood;
suffer the beak’s
greedy grasp.

So Santa sows;
from the ramparts,
his eyes,
twin suns warming,
oversee the harvest.



Jack D. Harvey has been writing poetry since he was sixteen. He lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, The Comstock Review, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The University of Texas Review and a number of other on-line and in print poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.

#MeToo: Armed in Eighth Grade History Class by Ellaraine Lockie

Gary Galvin sits at the desk in front of me
Mr. Schwartz writes dates on the blackboard

Gary reaches a hand back
and shimmies it up my leg

I stand, extend my left arm like an eagle in flight
Hook its talons into Gary’s left cheek

Just as Mr. Schwartz turns around
to see history reversing itself

I am not called into the principal’s office
But into a flock of women with machismo



Ellaraine Lockie is widely published and awarded as a poet, nonfiction book author and essayist. Tripping with the Top Down is her thirteenth chapbook. Earlier collections have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch magazine in England Competition, and The Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Ellaraine teaches writing workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.

Digigrams: Five Poems by Barbara Henning

Mar 21, 2016

—a fast walk—follow circles—around the park—a big hawk nest—mother gingko—look away—playground and basketball—melancholic clouds—if he gets his way—Hillary says—it will be bully Christmas in the Kremlin—just an excuse—to hawk steaks and wine—one hundred sheep—huddle in a circle—under a blue light—low and breathy—Daymé Arocena sings—you knew before—you knew before—what could have been— Avenue A to 7th Street—stand still—one hand over the other—over your heart—in Brussels—more than thirty pounds—of explosives—over the East River, a  full moon—

Apr 23, 2016

—along the Hudson river—children—on a merry go round—screaming and peddling—swivels and swoops—not quite enough rain—to say rain—CNN will stream—the so-called debate—a new digital device—for a rapid stream of single words—one after the other—a  red ferry glides back and forth—yellow cabs now and then—just past noon, the sun, a woman—in a brown coat strolling along—with notebook—stops, looks—under black sunglasses—jots down something—perhaps a poet—perhaps a journalist—in Arizona—or Michigan or Long Island—at a bully rally—Look dad!—says the little boy—snipers!—our American dream—a walled-in community—with smaller walled-in homes—as the jagged hills and walls—recede into the distance—in Battery Park—a little girl swings—back and forth—scooping up the air—

May 15, 2016

—when Tunick shoots a large group of naked people— no surprise—no news— standing in a kitchen—dreaming—Alter Rd near the Detroit River—naked, holding a kitchen towel over my crotch—the chubby new wife—in an apron—shocked—when oxygen is low—naked mole rats—flip a switch to survive—metabolic—now it’s her apartment—my body parts—I try to explain—cooking—she’s cooking—a one man militia in the bedroom—rushes through the hallway—angry —skedaddle out of there—then again—in the living room—just in time—to stumble down the aisle—he’s holding—something yellow—a flower—in a bombed hospital in Afghanistan—I’m dying—a doctor with one leg torn off—talks into a cell phone—take care of the children—from now on—to the men in the militia—we will call you Donald—

Dec 30, 2016

—“Tuck in youuuur bellieees”—sings the teacher—on Sunday night television—reenact history—the aristocracy and their servants—Bono says—capitalism is better a servant—than master—an abandoned boat—crossing the Mediterranean—crammed full—of migrants—capsized—the bully boasts—of  groping women—so many women care less—watch out—if you critique him, you’ll get sued—do the dishes—take a hot bath—the planet’s  hotter—this year—old racial hatreds—on a floating platform—beside melting glaciers—Mr. Einaudi plays piano—I calm myself—by reading Sebald—in some dreamy place between living and dying—take a walk along the park—scarf, hat, little flats—slow snow melting—on my shoulders—and the cement—young people—smoking—between one bar and another—I was once young, too—walking along this same block—sometimes smoking—on 7th Street—from Avenue A to B—waiting for Michael at the Horseshoe Bar—

Jan 4, 2017

—Queen Elizabeth to her guard—a momentary assassin—that’s quite all right—next time I’ll ring beforehand—so you don’t have to shoot me—in Cucina de Pese—reach into my bag for my cell—shoot—left it home—pick up a flier and write on the back—pen sliding over paper—no news, no texts—January 4, 1960—today is my mother’s death date—a voice at another table—I was 14 and my brother was nine when my mother died—even though we were in prep school—I looked after him—we went to public school—I was the babysitter—tastee bread and campbell bean sandwiches—56 years later—we vote for the bully—I put my face in my hands—contemplate breaking away—to woo voters—a gospel concert in Richmond—sponsored by the Koch brothers—hurray for the oil industry—when they pay—we dance and sing—



Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as

The Great Con by Devon Balwit

The old dog
shuffles stiff,

to test
the familiar,
pressing nose

to the meat
of me
before circling

into place
with a whumph
of yielding.

I have fooled
and feel bad—

in the singular,
but in the aggregate

wiping out
the earth
as he knows it.



Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

Tender Buttons [A Plate] by Gertrude Stein


An occasion for a plate, an occasional resource is in buying and how soon does washing enable a selection of the same thing neater. If the party is small a clever song is in order.

Plates and a dinner set of colored china. Pack together a string and enough with it to protect the centre, cause a considerable haste and gather more as it is cooling, collect more trembling and not any even trembling, cause a whole thing to be a church.

A sad size a size that is not sad is blue as every bit of blue is precocious. A kind of green a game in green and nothing flat nothing quite flat and more round, nothing a particular color strangely, nothing breaking the losing of no little piece.

A splendid address a really splendid address is not shown by giving a flower freely, it is not shown by a mark or by wetting.

Cut cut in white, cut in white so lately. Cut more than any other and show it. Show it in the stem and in starting and in evening coming complication.

A lamp is not the only sign of glass. The lamp and the cake are not the only sign of stone. The lamp and the cake and the cover are not the only necessity altogether.

A plan a hearty plan, a compressed disease and no coffee, not even a card or a change to incline each way, a plan that has that excess and that break is the one that shows filling.


(Gertrude Stein, 1874 – 1946. A Plate from Tender Buttons, 1914.)

Darkening, Lightening, Darkening by Trish Saunders

I like the way you sing apocalyptic hymns at sunset.

Maybe I’ll learn that habit. I’ll chant mantras at dusk
the way a Persian soldier drank poison
to ensure his body
be killed by it.

I’ll keep this shoebox, with its hidden pistol
under the bed where you can touch it
for reassurance like a fifth of vodka;
open it when you need it most,

or run into the woods on wakening and
pretend nothing’s wrong.
That never fails–like your hand in my hair
sets it on fire, every time.

There’s a chance too, the day will close quietly,
and the moon will rise over a barn.



Trish Saunders divides her time between Seattle and Honolulu. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Snapping Twig, Gnarled Oak, Busted Dharma, Blast Furnace Press, Off the Coast, Poets and Poetry, and Here/There Poetry.

Solitare by Amy Lowell

When night drifts along the streets of the city,
And sifts down between the uneven roofs,
My mind begins to peek and peer.
It plays at ball in odd, blue Chinese gardens,
And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples
Amid the broken flutings of white pillars.
It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair,
And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses.
How light and laughing my mind is,
When all the good folk have put out their bedroom candles,
And the city is still.



(Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925)


Photograph by Pseudopanax.

Soapstone Figure by Nicole Michaels

If her wrists ache, forgive her:
They are freshly chiseled.

If her head rings, maybe it’s the hammer
somebody just laid down.

Others are quick to admire
her newly gaunt shape,

her willowy thighs,
the slope of her nape.

But her waist stings from the rasp,
and it appears she will forever be naked,

no hint of clothing in the scheme,
bare toes clasping a block,

that remnant of her soapy seam.
The sessions are long, and when she’s

left alone under a drape,
she recalls a coppery darkness,

the scrape of shifting plates,
the song of gems, and how she wept with aquifers.

Now her arms seem to be reaching
up for something – she worries

they haven’t finished her face –
wants a good nose –

She believes they will send
birds to perch on her shoulders.

She believes her hands will become bowls.



Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.


Nymph with a Scorpion, Lorenzo Bartolini, 1845.

Suzy, the innocent don’t try to escape by Jordan Trethewey

I-75, suburban ‘merica,
not prime geography to relocate
after a Houdini escape
from a circus regime

ask ’87 Cuban nationals
detained in Atlanta state pen
immigration a-no-go

different stripes don’t go unnoticed
or tolerated for long
before police draw weapons ’round here

especially if you disturb
a beloved wiener dog penned outside
with a big Bengali hug



Photograph by CGBGrey.

The Stories We Tell by Holly Day

I feel the wings flutter under my skin as I tell them
about my childhood, about how things were before
I had children of my own. I hint at the type of insect I was
make it more beautiful-I was a butterfly, a damselfly
a fluorescent leaf-hopper, something amazing.

Because they’re my children, I can tell they believe me
that right now, they’re imaging me as
a lime-green lunar moth, wing soft as down
not the chitinous beetle I really was
brown and dull and unimportant,
scuttling from one crack to the next.



Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl.


Photograph by Wren Tuatha, Spoutwood Faerie Festival, Glen Rock, PA. 

A Gen Xer and a Millennial Speak of the End of the World by Anthony DiPietro

When you’ve just finished reading apocalypse
novels and your slightly younger boyfriend’s
addicted to climate change
articles and you have faith that what’s
coming, whether zombie virus, H1N1,
solar flare—whatever happens first
doesn’t matter—you’d rather imagine
what kind of wagon you’ll escape on,
you and your love, when that late afternoon
light disturbs some future morning—
but he says phytoplankton have begun
to smother like goldfish, gasping
on kitchen counters and coral reef
will soon be museum relics, nothing else
and he argues whether Bernie
can still win—you interrupt
to list a few artful approaches
you’ve seen in the literature, but then
the razor in his voice when he says
I’ll stop talking, I’ll just listen, between gritted teeth,
firmly as if you’ve raised a fist.
Then you find your lip quivers
with the tension of a dam, and did I mention
you are riding the Red Line when the crying
starts—you both get out at Harvard Square, the acrid
summer garbage smell welcomes you but isn’t
what’s stinging your eyes that now drizzle
like the Cake Ace on Food Network
and he apologizes, Honey, honey,
honey, for the nothing wrong he did,
and by the time you get to Elephant & Castle
you don’t feel like eating—the host
who seats you didn’t want to come to work
tonight, and your weeping
doesn’t help, and everyone in the restaurant
wonders if your date attacked you
or if your parents have cancer—so you go
to the basement, find a urinal, still leaking
from your eyes, and stare at a poster of red
double-decker buses in London, and that should cheer
you up, and you start talking
to yourself in a British accent
because sometimes you don’t have a bloody clue
why the fuck you’re crying.

Anthony DiPietro is a Rhode Island native who worked for 12 years in community-based organizations that addressed issues such as violence, abuse, and income inequality. In 2016, he moved to New York to join Stony Brook University as a candidate for a creative writing MFA and now teaches undergraduate courses. A graduate of Brown University with honors in creative writing, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Anomaly, Assaracus, The Good Men Project, Helen, Rogue Agent, The Southampton Review, Talking River, and The Woman Inc. His website is

Breathable Air by Tracy Mitchell

To buy or sell water
was a preposterous thought
and somehow time accordioned
down its own found spaces like
a lost cutworm. Fuck the cocoon,
what I would give again
for night and space
and dew.



(First published in Poetry Circle.)



Tracy Mitchell is a newly retired native Minnesotan, recently relocated to the splendor of Colorado. His free verse writing is largely inspired by the vagaries of this frail and transitory life. Fair game subject matter includes nature, ourselves, and each other. His best work has been imagined by the campfire in a clearing somewhere near sleep. He is a contributing member of Poetry Society of Colorado, MyWritersCircle, Writers Among Us, Poetry Circle, and PigPen Poetry Forum. His work has appeared in Lake Region Review, and the poetry anthology As the Kettle Wolf-Whistled.


Photograph by

Escape by Elinor Wylie

When foxes eat the last gold grape,
And the last white antelope is killed,
I shall stop fighting and escape
Into a little house I’ll build.

But first I’ll shrink to fairy size,
With a whisper no one understands,
Making blind moons of all your eyes,
And muddy roads of all your hands.

And you may grope for me in vain
In hollows under the mangrove root,
Or where, in apple-scented rain,
The silver wasp-nests hang like fruit.

(Elinor Wylie, 1885-1928.)

White Paper Poetree by Wren Tuatha

The paper this is written on holds
experiences. You never think
to ask. The trees, the centuries,
the violence. Ripping and bleach. Slaves
and workers who don’t know ease.

Flipping ocean waves and seeping petrol.

White and cleansed with poetry
so tidy and ordered the world
could never be raw.

All paper is mute, only crackling in hand,
the way of bowing pulp pines smacked
by atmosphere. The ink lets through
certain stories and some news.
And under our objects, pretty paper,
plastic and cotton, work slaves
we don’t see.



Previously published in Five:2:One Magazine.

Illustration: “The Road to Dividends,” artist unknown. 



Wren Tuatha (Califragile Editor). Wren’s poetry has appeared or is upcoming in The Cafe Review, Canary, Poetry Pacific, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Arsenic Lobster, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, and Bangalore Review. She’s also an editor at Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd skeptical goats on a mountain in California.

Fragments of a Reproductive Species by Tim J. Brennan

Trails of space trash, bits
of rock ice, maybe

a whisper of God’s voice—
comet debris, grains

of sand. Everyone who loves
has a problem;

life depends
on elegant patterns:

moonshine & cricket bone,
extinction & certain birds

flying in loop migration who stop
to replenish; seasonal nought

in wind aids flight of fancy,
and all kaleidoscopes

depend on pixels.
It may be as easy as rolling

the eyes or pointing.
Freedom of choice

is often in err by the curve
of a dactyl.



Tim J Brennan’s poetry can be found in many nice places including The Bitchin’ Kitch, Green Blade, Talking Stick, The Lake (U.K.), KAXE public radio, UpNorth, and Volume One. Brennan’s one act plays have played across the country including stages in Milwaukee, Colorado Springs, Gulf Shores, Rochester, & White Bear Lake Lake & Spring Valley MN, and most recently in Ypsilanti, MI.


Photograph by Yellowstone National Park.

Three Poems by John Grey

Waiting Room Reading

I’m reading a six month old
Sports Illustrated.
I know the coach
they’re glorifying
is fired by September,
the great running back hope
busts his ankle in the
third game of the season.
My symptoms are
flicking through page after page
looking for the one
low light in some athlete’s life
that they know turns into
a feel good story.
But there’s no cure here.
So I pick up a year old Business Week
whose headline promises
better days ahead.
We all know how that turned out.
I’m trying to be optimistic for the future
by seeing how the past did it.
But days gone by
never do get good at
predicting how it all comes out.
“The doctor will see you now.”
the nurse says.
Well at least he won’t be
seeing me back then.


My Checkup

It’s not the light
promenading down my heart
or my words read sideways

but EKG, X-ray; urine sample,
rubber-fingered rectal exam.
None of the invisible shock

waves of the head but reflex
test, lung-capacity graph,
and blood sucked up into a needle.

No one’s powdering my soul
for prints or running biopsies
on each reminiscence.

They’re telling me I’m
fine for what I am, the latest
way to tell me nothing.


Dear Brain Surgeon

So the brain is cut wide open.
Tell me doc, what do you see in there?
Any clue as to who I am?
Anything in there that doesn’t need
a functioning body to represent me,
that can pulse on forever
like that Energizer bunny?

My head gave way to your scalpel.
Even that pudding-like organ
of neurons and axons and dendrites
is putty in your surgeon’s hands.
But what of the spiritual core?
Is there anything left
when you run out of Latin names?
A soul?
An object so deeply embedded
that even you, with all your skills,
can’t go there?

Of course, you’re not
messing about in my cerebellum
to verify my suitability for the hereafter.
It’s that tumor that has your attention.
A vengeful God doesn’t come into your equation.
But a malignant or benign lump does.

And then hours alter
you’ve put me back together,
given me the all-clear,
I awake to a chorus
of “It’s a miracle!”
My parents, my siblings, my lover –
but not you.
Not someone who really knows me.



John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.

Two Months After Hurricane Maria by Sergio A. Ortiz

And the world disagreed with its own blood.
The wind blew away sanity and today
we pull against the riptide.

Time and space, wooden shacks, flew
in an unknown direction and love lied
on the image of a moon tired of unfaithful

Night undressed, and all could see
her nakedness. She stopped weeping
and wailing over lost paths to rescue
what was left of her pride, seaports, airspace,
enslaved hearts, and raised fist
without knowing the shackles were so heavy
that even her silence had toppled.

If I were to expand to the point of bursting
into thousands of pieces, if my suffering
should ever reach that level
do not sanction my heart or my body
do not let me escape into nothingness
like an insignificant hot gas.

Toilet paper or disposable towels…
insensitive son of a bitch— do we really need
to kiss your presidential ass?

can we afford another one hundred and nineteen
years of insults, grave diggings,
war deaths and stupidity?



Sergio A. Ortiz (Califragile Feature Poet, September, 2017) is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a six-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016/17 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, Drunk Monkeys, Algebra Of Owls, Free State Review, and The Paragon Journal. His chapbook, An Animal Resembling Desire, will be published by Finishing Line Press. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

#MeToo: My Doll Janie by Lola Ridge

My doll Janie has no waist
and her body is like a tub with feet on it.
Sometimes I beat her
but I always kiss her afterwards.
When I have kissed all the paint off her body
I shall tie a ribbon about it
so she shan’t look shabby.
But it must be blue –
it mustn’t be pink –
pink shows the dirt on her face
that won’t wash off.

I beat Janie
and beat her…
but still she smiled…
so I scratched her between the eyes with a pin.
Now she doesn’t love me any more…
she scowls… and scowls…
though I’ve begged her to forgive me
and poured sugar in the hole at the back of her head.

— excerpt from Sun-Up and Other Poems

(Lola Ridge, 1873-1941.)