Unexpected by Martin Willitts, Jr.

_Crane_with_Setting_Sun_-_Totoya_Hokkei Unexpected Martin Willitts jr

Stubbornness must be that crane late
to leave, trying to push its large body
against strong artic headwinds.
The wings’ desire is stronger,
for what the crane will find when it lands
will be another chance to love,
where the sun practically crawls out
of the ocean, and it inquires of the crane,
will you come and join me? And it does —
but not before producing a hatchling
who will learn the art of flying, the art
of spontaneous joy, the touch of excitement.
What appears as containment is really release.



Martin Willitts, Jr. has 20 chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 11 full-length collections including The Uncertain Lover (Dos Madres Press, 2018), and Home Coming Celebration (FutureCycle Press, 2019).


Art by Hokkei Renyodo. 

#Immigration: Invasive Species by Tamara Madison

Invasive Species Tamara Madison

Father Serra brought the seeds from Spain,
scattered them behind on his northbound trek,
a path of yellow mustard to guide him back.

Now men with nozzles spray the hills to kill
foreigners like mustard plants that will
crowd the natives, invaders like ourselves

from long-ago-lands who’ve come to stay
where scattered flowers grew to light the way.



Tamara Madison is the author of the chapbook The Belly Remembers, and two full-length volumes of poetry, Wild Domestic and Moraine, all published by Pearl Editions. Her work has appeared in Chiron Review, Your Daily Poem, A Year of Being Here, Nerve Cowboy, the Writer’s Almanac and other publications. She is thrilled to have just retired from teaching English and French in a Los Angeles high school.

“Things we lose are usually underneath something else.” By Alexis Rhone Fancher

dis_integration2_Jenn Zed things we lose are underneath something else Alexis Rhone Fancher

“Things we lose are usually underneath something else.” -Benette R .

I dream there is hair in my food.

In the morning, my lover says, “Yes, there’s
a long hair in every dish you feed me.”

A strand of myself in every serving –
and he eats it like a condiment.

“Looks like the same m.o.,”
the detective says, examining our broken
pane, bent screen. “He likes you
long-haired girls.”

I find myself alone in the kitchen, eating
rice I don’t remember cooking.

When was the last time we had any fun?”
my lover sighs.

I mean, who are we when we
enter the Jacuzzi, and who are we
when we emerge?

I dream there is food in my hair.
And gum. And a switchblade.

“For the vast majority of people,”
my mother said, just before she died,
“The thing that’s going to kill you
is already on the inside.”


First published in decomP.



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.


Art, Dis-Integration, by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Immigration: Jannet Lorenzo at the Border Field State Park by Debbie Hall

Imperial Beach, California


There will be enough time for her scent to enter your pores,
enough time to rekindle sensation. Not nearly enough to savor it.
The rusty door will whine open, a gate between two prisons.

All that is lost will rush in like a chill, while the memory of touch
ghosts across your skin. Be ready for the cries of seabirds to catch
in your throat, their wing beats a warning:

Don’t stay too long. Be grateful for this opening between nations.
Hug, kiss and hold your mother, in that order. Follow the rules.
Believe in the future as you pull apart, even as new fences

split the earth, as zones of friendship shrink into the shadows
like thieves. Ball up the photograph of this visit in your fist if you must,
but do it gently. Tomorrow, let it unfold like a new prayer.


Editor’s Note: Read more about Jannet Lorenzo and the “Door of Hope” here.

Debbie Hall is a psychologist and writer whose poetry has appeared in the San Diego Poetry Annual, A Year in Ink, Serving House Journal, Sixfold, Tuck Magazine, Poetry24, Bird’s Thumb, Poetry Super Highway and other journals. She has work upcoming in an AROHO anthology. Her essays have appeared on NPR (This I Believe series), in USD Magazine, and the San Diego Union Tribune. She received an honorable mention in the 2016 Steve Kowit Poetry Prize and completed her MFA at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Debbie is the author of the poetry collection, What Light I Have (2018, Main Street Rag Books).


Photograph by Chris Stone.

#Mountains: Root of Beech by Xe M. Sánchez

Root of Beech Xe M Sanchez Hedwig Storch

Root of Beech, translated from Asturian by the author:

I am a lucky man.
My roots are nailed
in the mountains,
as the roots
of the oaks,
of the beeches
and the roots
of my ancestors.
That’s why all my poems
are made
in fog’s melancholy.
I am a lucky man.


Original text:


Raigañu de Carbayu

Ero un home afortunáu.
Los mios raigaños
tan espitaos
nes montañes,
comu los raigaños
del carbayu,
de les fayes,
y los raigaños
de los mios antepasaos.
Poro tolos mios poemes
tan fechos cola señaldá
de la borrina.
Ero un home afortunáu.



Xe M. Sánchez was born in 1970 in Grau (Asturies, Spain). He received his Ph.D degree in History from the University of Oviedo in 2016, he is an anthropologist, and he also studied Tourism and three masters (History / Protocol / Philately and Numismatic). He has published  Escorzobeyos (2002), Les fueyes tresmanaes d’Enol Xivares (2003), Toponimia de la parroquia de Sobrefoz. Ponga (2006), Llue, esi mundu paralelu (2007), Les Erbíes del Diañu (E-book: 2013, Paperback: 2015), Cróniques de la Gandaya (E-book, 2013), El Cuadernu Prietu (2015) in Asturian the language, and several publications in journals and reviews in Asturies, USA, Portugal, France, Sweden, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, India, Italy, England and Canada.


Photograph by Hedwig Storch. 

#Mountains: Catamount, Late Summer by Joe Cottonwood

Cattamount, Late Summer Joe Cottonwood 1

Come with me. Here’s
the secret trail. At the edge
of the potato field, crouch through
the barbed wire fence. Enter
the maple forest, the green oven.
Bake, slowly rise like a gingerbread figure.
Release rivulets of sweat.
This is nothing, the foothill.

Listen: the purr, the burble, the rush,
the small canyon of Catamount
Creek. Remove boots, splash yourself.
Splash me. Cup water in hands
to pour over the face. Let water dribble
inside the shirt, drip to the shorts.
Relish the shock of cold
against hot parts.

Work uphill now, at last
out of the trees into the land of
wild blueberry. Pluck, taste
tiny nut-like explosions of blue,
so intense, so different from store-bought.
Gorge, let fingers and tongue
turn garish. Fill pockets.

Climb with me now among rocky
outcrops like stair steps to the Funnel,
a crevice where from below
you push my bottom, then from above
I pull your hand. Emerge to a view
of valley, farmland, wrinkles of mountains
like folds of flesh. How far we’ve come.
This is the false top.

Catch your breath, embrace the vista,
then follow me in a scramble up bare granite,
farther than you’d think, no trail marked
on the endless stone but simply
navigate toward the opposite of gravity,
upward, to at last a bald dome
chilled by blasts of breeze.

At the top, sit with me, our backs against
the windbreak of a boulder.
Empty your pockets of blueberries. Nibble,
share — above the hawks,
among the blue chain of peaks
beyond your outstretched tired feet.
Appreciate your muscles
in exhaustion and exhilaration.
We have made love to this mountain.

Hear a sound like a sigh from waves of
alpine grass in the fading warmth
of a lowering sun. Rest.
After this, the return
is so easy.

First published in Plum Tree Tavern.

Cattamount, Late Summer Joe Cottonwood 2

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.


Photographs by Joe Cottonwood. Used by permission.

#GunViolence: Twenty-Three Ways of Looking at January by Buffy Shutt

by Fibonacci Blue Buffy Shutt 23 ways January

I bought a gun today and placed
it in the hand of a ninth grader in Kentucky.
A reporter rushing to the school learned
her son was the shooter.

Eleven school shootings, twenty-three
winter days. Cafeteria, parking lot, school bus,
high school, college. Dallas, New Orleans,
Winston-Salem, San Bernardino, Seattle.
We track them—if we do —on the chyron
gliding across our screens with other scores.

My neighbor comes over this morning.
She has miscalculated, needs
a gun for a Nebraska elementary school.
I hand her one before we have our coffee.



Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.


Photograph by Fibonacci Blue.