Califragile Editor Wren Tuatha to Be Published by Finishing Line Press

Wren in light sequins cr

Our thanks to Finishing Line Press editor Leah Maines and all her staff. Our editor Wren Tuatha‘s manuscript, Thistle and Brilliant, is a semi-finalist in FLP’s 2018 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. The book will be published by FLP.

Thistle and Brilliant is a collection of Wren’s poems poking at and chewing on attraction, requited and not, from a bi perspective, more the nervous movements, rather than the still-portrait-smile of love. Stay tuned for reading dates and ordering information!

Feelin’ Uneasy, Etta James by Caroline Zimmer

feelin uneasy etta james caroline zimmer

Pure moans,
each to their own
Feelin’ uneasy,
thick with wine,
vapor hung
over the dirty sheets.
Blind-eyed nipples brush
the bedroom mantle,
cold a moment,
vague shocks down the back,
the pain
of a ghost fist balled
round my heart.
Could I leave him
with one last estranged fuck?
Soul says let me out.
Soul says no girl.
beyond species or sex.
His head
on my chest—
how long do I get
to weep
before he turns over
to sleep,
turns the raw song off?
Instead, ice
in the bed,
dry out.
Etta, Christ,
I’ll just remember
your voice
thrusting the summer air back.



Caroline Zimmer’s poetry, as well as her visual art, has appeared in The Maple Leaf Rag, Umbra and Unspoken magazine. She is a lifelong resident of the French Quarter in New Orleans, where she lives with her Doberman, Iris and her fiancé, fellow poet, David Rowe. Caroline tends bar and reads tarot cards out of her home.

Father Trilogy by Morgan Driscoll

Father Trilogy photo and poem by Morgan Driscoll

I The Not Fair

You were
so angry in the evening,
in the twilight with the carnival colors. Your
eyes were wet, cheeks, still dry,
hands on your hips, unsure of all but intent.
Everyone else got to ride the Cobra twice.
You didn’t care it was cold, I was tired,
we only had two tickets, and needed three.
All you saw
was tyranny.

II Last Call

There were splinters,
and dock wood slippery
from deep waters, mountain cold.
There were the boys,
they moved without our fear.
Their joys circled jumping, plunging, sprints.
Circled like snows on the ridges holding the blues,
the sapphires, lazulines,
the forest tree greens, which might as well be blue:
they melted lake to hill to sky.
There was danger, but there was laughter.
And there was some peace
between us.
There was a day in July.

III Found and Lost

I found your kite this morning,
the one we flew that day at Ambler farm.
The one you flew. I watched.
You tried to coax the wind to work with arms
and legs, and passion. I watched you do it.
I still can smell the grass I sat on while
I didn’t help;
you asked a dozen times but I was anxious for
some e-mail or a call.
Remember how the fresh cut clippings clung
onto my phone?
Remember I said the kite could be repaired?



Morgan Driscoll is a long time commercial artist, looking to express himself in some other way than selling widgets. Poetry seemed the least commercial, and most under the radar way he could think of. So far it has been a satisfying, but obscure journey. You can find his work in The Amethyst Review, Humanist Magazine, and Mused – The BellaOnLine Literary Review.


Photograph by Morgan Driscoll. Used by permission.

#Immigration: Broken English by Daniel B. Summerhill


Ahmed’s English breaks
after each word,
a slight pause
of interrogation
as if discovering
each term mechanically.
it’s his tongue rebelling
against colonialism,
the way it spills
its discourse
and expects you to pretend
there isn’t mud trudged
through your home or
front door left open.
What happens to the mouth
as it sculpts
a new language?
As the tongue finds
new ways of expressing
its distaste
for subjugation.
How each vowel becomes
malignant. How it breaks
English un
How Ahmed pronounces
his name
wrong now.

Daniel B. Summerhill is a poet and performance artist from Oakland, CA. Currently an MFA candidate at Boston’s Pine Manor College, Daniel has performed and taught guest workshops and lectures throughout the U.S, Europe, and South Africa. He has published two collections of poems, Crafted and Brown Boys on Stoops, and has been asked to perform at Ted Talk and Def Jam Poetry with Danny Simmons. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Pine Hills Review, Cosmonauts Avenue and The Voice among others.


Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

My Dad’s Lunch Box by Donna Hilbert


My dad climbs down
the telephone pole,
stretches out under a pepper tree,
opens his lunch box:
black metal,
substantial like a vault,
or a government building
in a Balkan country.
Under its dome
wire arms hold
a Thermos of coffee.
On the bottom floor,
Vienna sausage on a bed
of mayonnaise, white bread.
For dessert, butterscotch
cream-center cookies.
Dad unwraps a sandwich, eats.
He pours coffee into the cup
his Thermos lid makes,
dips a cookie, watches it bloat,
then holds his lips to the rim,
slips the sweet bits
into his mouth.

I like to think
he savors pleasure
before he stands
the box on one end
touches a forefinger to his tongue,
his damp finger tip
gleaning crumbs
to feed the sparrows who wait
in slender leaves.
Then, one foot
over the other,
he climbs the pole again.


First published in Transforming Matter, PEARL Editions.



Donna Hilbert’s latest book is Gravity: New & Selected Poems, from Tebot Bach, 2018. She is a monthly contributor to the online journal, Verse-Virtual. Her work is widely anthologized, including Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook, and most recently in The Poetry of Presence. She lives in Long Beach, California. More at


Photograph by Akinkevinphy.

#GunViolence: At the Movies (Habemus Papam) by Anne Harding Woodworth


It’s a quiet one, We Have a Pope,
the one about the pope
who doesn’t want to be pope.

Quiet, yes—up to the clap of thunder.
The pope’s in for a downpour,
and yet sun radiates over Rome.

Turns out the thunder is my own, our own,
in the night sky outside the theatre.
Reality has infiltrated fiction,

the way real and unreal blurred
over the Aurora, Colorado audience,
into a chaos of bodies on the screen

and bodies in the rows and aisles.
Screams, gun blasts, swat teams,
sirens, smoke surged

from behind the scrim and in front of it.
Real blood shone as rose-bright
as any artful wound in a studio.

More thunder. There’s no telling
the difference between what’s out there
and in here. Mindless celluloid holds up.

Behold the antihero, as Zeus bombards,
wounds, kills, and shakes walls, sides,
front and rear, seats of velvet,

until no one on earth knows
what projection is, who the holy father is,
and whether we have one or not.



Anne Harding Woodworth is the author of six books of poetry and four chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook is The Last Gun, an excerpt of which won the COG Poetry Award, judged by A. Van Jordan. It has subsequently been animated and can be seen at Harding Woodworth’s poetry, essays, and reviews appear in the U.S. and abroad in print and on line, such as in Poet Lore, TriQuarterly, Crannog, and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She lives in Washington, D.C. where she is a member of the Poetry Board at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Photographs of scenes following Aurora theater shooting by Algr.

While I’m not familiar by T.m. Lawson


My skin, its color, the textured Spanish of eyes
My skin, pitted and poxed
My king of snapping teeth and blood gum
My king of whips and chains and cliche gaped asshole
My king of breathlessness and choking
(oh those kings I smothered in red rooms,
not mine, the light hiding my dimensions)
I’m not familiar. A familiar.
And the daughter dog curled in bed with bone
And the red collar with orgasm in heart
And the bird cage shadow
And the spiked heel song
And the homeless native, night crawler in old day
And the animistic tattoos prescribed with hunger
And Hossein’s hill of a belly, the daughter-dog slept on
And the father-boyfriend who held the hair
And the mother-boyfriend who stomped on chests
And the line of fathers, railroading
And the jaws
The parrot silence
The matricide
The cock-craving
The orphan-kin
The rope
The pillow
The blinding candle
The mind fuck



T.m. Lawson is a writer and poet living in Southern California. They have been published in Los Angeles Review, Entropy Magazine,, White Stag, The Other Journal, NILVX, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. They are a 2015 Academy of American Poets prize winner, and a 2016 Thompson Prize winner. Formerly the Poetry Editor for Angel City Review, they are now an M.F.A. student at UCSD’s Creative Writing program.


Painting, Pagan October, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.