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.

#Immigration: The Wall in Question by Michael H. Brownstein


A wall built on tumbleweed, spit, grasshopper larvae
Help us, people–help us understand—help us visualize–
I understand none of this. Is there a way I can know?
A wall built of bone marrow mortar and dog piss,
Violent thought and disconnection, the rapid fire
Of bullet cored brick. Help us understand where
This river enters the realm, where this river empties
Its blood to the valleys of snow, how the impact
Of dour men with raccoon hat hair suck away the core.

First published in New Verse.



Bio: Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.


Photograph by United States Department of Homeland Security.



War Journal by Mary McCarthy

Teodor Axentowiczwar journal mary mccarthy

Holding the brittle pages
I follow your terrible
From Omaha beach
To Czechoslovakia
Through blood and ice
Death the sentence
Before you
And the sentence
Behind you
Death the work of your hands
Death coming for you
Stranger to stranger
The soft flesh
The sweet mouth
The eyes always open
In the machinery
Of war
The nightmares you won’t lose
Sixty years and more
Still trying to pull us
Down into the foxhole
Out of the line of fire



Mary McCarthy has always been a writer but spent most of her working life as a registered Nurse. She has had work appearing in many on line and print journals, including Third Wednesday, Gnarled Oak, the Ekhprastic Review and Earth’s Daughters. She has an electronic chapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis Magazine online.


Painting by Teodor Axentowicz.

#Immigration; #GunViolence: Two Cherita by Peter Jastermsky

2 Cheritas Peter Jastermsky photo by Russ

laughing their way
across the grass

a pair of quail

for a moment
we, too, feel at home
in this country



bullets fly

heads and flags

how little rain
sinks in
before the next storm



Peter Jastermsky writes Japanese short-form works. His writing has appeared in many journals, including Failed Haiku, Haibun Today, The Cherita, and KYSO Flash. Born in Connecticut, Peter and his family live in Southern California, where he works as a licensed counselor.


Original photograph by Russ.

#Immigration #GunViolence: String Ball by Barbara Henning


for Nevine Michaan and Charles Blow

—the body’s organized—on a square—so says Yogi Nevine—I walk around Tompkins Square—all four corners—surely this is the center—of the universe—the goal in life—should be joy—in Larung Gar—the Chinese—are tearing apart—Tibetan monastic—dwellings—plan your life—like a chess game—move analytically—with intent—it’s very practical—the way to attain joy—even for civilians—trapped in Aleppo—with artillery shelling overhead—defeat in life—is bitterness—buck up—writes Charles Blow—it’s over—the bully’s—in the white house—for the time being—alt-right is not—a computer command—they’re a batch of fanatical racists—if you’re happy—you’ll help everyone—if you’re miserable—you won’t help anyone—in Shuafat—a refugee camp—in Jerusalem—Baha helps the orphans—work, find direction, survive—then a drive-by—ten bullets—one of the children—will surely—take his place—you can follow—fake news sites—from one to another—unravel the molecular structure—of ribosomes—a tangled mess of rubber bands—and coiled wires—a new pattern—of income equality—life expectancy in the US—declines slightly—be careful—it’s like a string ball—if we keep going around—in the same direction—we will surely unravel— (1 Dec 2016)

First published in Rascal.



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 writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com


Painting Loop by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.

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 http://www.donnahilbert.com


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 http://www.cogzine.com/watch. 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, Poets.org, 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.


#Mountains: A Sunset Falls by Pablo Cuzco

A Sunset Falls Pablo Cuzco Vernal_Fall_Walter Siegmund

A mountain in Yosemite lets water fall,
majestically crash on rocks. Bird whistle cones,
Sequoia | tall, send message to the sky:
We are the emperors of the wild.



Pablo Cuzco is an American writer of poetry and short stories. He spent his early years in France and Germany with his family. In his teens, he traveled across America with guitar in hand, writing songs and jotting memories along the way. Now, living in the Southwest with his wife, he has time to reflect and share those stories. His works can be found at Underfoot Poetry, The Big Windows Review and on his blog, Pablo Cuzco – in My Mind’s Eye.


Photograph by Walter Siegmund.

Caretaker by Roberta Beary

Caretaker Roberta Beary Dove


florida sunshine
mother soaks up
the shade

cherry blossoms
the incessant sound
of mother’s cough

mother’s day
only the tulips
come calling

in the wheels
of mother’s chair
wet leaves

cheshire moon
mother no better
no worse

autumn moon
her brain a tangle
of white string

winter solstice
no spark of recognition
in mother’s brown eyes

blue crocus
mother will never
get better


rain all day
a place I cannot reach
in mother’s eyes

hospice day
a flutter of movement
in mother’s hand

resurrection sky
mother somewhere between
here and there

bone dry
mother’s hand
in mine

brief sunset
a world beyond this one
in mother’s eyes

day of blossoms
a nurse erases
mother’s name

the funeral

on the church steps
a mourning dove
with mother’s eyes


First published in Deflection.



Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents, 2015) nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards). Beary is the editor/co-editor of the haiku anthologies Wishbone Moon (Jacar Press, 2018) fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.


Photograph by Moataz1997.

#Mountains: The Appalachian by Karen Silverstrim

The Appalachian by Karen Silverstrim

The hikers are tied, tight enough for stability, lose enough not to cut.

They have only ever known asphalt and city parks, breaking them in, breaking herself in. “I’ve always wanted to . . . “ is now reality. The practice with the weighted pack, the flint, the filters, the course on primitive survival and first aid. Trying to get ready, knowing preparation can only take you just so far.

This is not a journey of proof, there is no one to prove anything to anymore. It’s not a self-affirmation journey, she is already self-affirmed. This is truly just the desire to go, to climb, to be alone, people were never her forte. Nature is her salve, organized, manicured nature. Will the wild be too much, too real?

This is a journey of solitude, an attempt to get lost inside herself, inside the world, much like she would do at dinner parties, only this time for real. “You could die out there!” She is warned. She is dying in here, she thinks to herself. “If I die,” she says, “let it be on my own terms, in the arms of the trees. Grandma Gatewood did it, why can’t I?”



Karen Silverstrim lives in western New York, spending her time hiking around the Niagara Gorge and teaching history. Karen has been writing for 47 years, with publications in newspapers and literary journals in New York, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Canada.

Two Chairs by Sharon Lask Munson

two chairs sharon lask munson james katt


The watchmaker leans forward
in the wooden desk chair.
Lines up his tools—
drills, files, brass hammers.
He slides one last dial
into a brown mailing envelope,
blinks back weariness.

Winter’s frost painted windows
reflect a pale light.
He buttons his overcoat,
pulls on galoshes, gloves,
snaps off the overhead,
bolts the door.

He drives Woodward Avenue
crushed in bumper traffic,
a slew of workers
approaching the John Lodge Freeway
heading home.


The child kneels
on a straight-back chair, coloring
as winter curls around the house.
Her landscape—emerald green grass,
sapphire sky, oversized flowers
in shades of amber, saffron, sand.

She listens for his car on the drive,
crunch of tires, spitting ice;
sprints at the sound
of his key in the lock,
rasp of the front door,

and caught in mid-flight
her ribboned braids
sweep his cold, cold cheek.


First published in That Certain Blue, Blue Light Press.



Sharon Lask Munson was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She taught school in England, Germany, Okinawa, and Puerto Rico before driving to Anchorage, Alaska and staying for the next twenty years. She is a retired teacher, poet, coffee addict, old movie enthusiast, lover of road trips—with many published poems, two chapbooks, and one full-length book of poetry. She now lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon. She says many things motivate her to write: a mood, a memory, the smell of cooking, burning leaves, a windy day, rain, fog, something observed or overheard—and of course, imagination. She has a pin that says, “I Make Things Up.” You can find her at http://www.sharonlaskmunson.com


Photograph by James Katt. Used by permission. 

#Mountains: Coast Range by Joe Cottonwood


You gentle mountains
round, folded like a sleeping woman,
you stretch under baking sun,
curl beneath stars
in sheets of fog.

Your deer comb the grass,
lizards drum the dust.
A crow calls,
the sun falls.

In courtship a boy
plays a flute
by quail.


First published in Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.



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.


Photograph of Shelter Cove in Humbolt County, California, by Tomas Sennett. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Theology by Beth Gordon

ten commandments charm bracelet theology beth gordon

You were baptized in the river, your robe bleached
white as original sin. I wore black patent leather

shoes and memorized the books of the Bible
more than others and was rewarded with a ten

commandments charm bracelet of copper
covered with fake gold. You don’t want me

to say God damnit. You believe in the fire
of lake, River Styx and unnamed dead reaching

their skeletal arms to tip over the boat. We open a bottle
of wine and I say I once knew how to walk on water

but forgot the trick when I floated down a tunnel
into the light, arrived in this mortal coil, my skin

and organs too tight, doing my best to breathe oxygen,
acclimate to Earth’s gravitational pull.

I love talking heaven and hell with you, the difference
between people who collect hair and those who eat
their own fingernails like unleavened bread.



Beth Gordon received her MFA from American University a long time ago and was not heard from again until 2017 when her poems began to appear in numerous online and print journals including Into the Void, Outlook Springs, Verity La and After Happy Hour Review. Landlocked in St. Louis for 17 years, Beth has taught several local writing workshops, and is co-founder of a poetry reading series in Grafton, IL. She is also co-editor of Gone Lawn, a journal of poetry and progressive fiction.

Four Micro Poems by Alexis Rotella


In a Letter

Mother tells me
I’m such a sweet person
when I’m not a grouch


A taxi ride
through Central Park
the scent of magnolia
after last night’s rape


Waving goodbye
to relatives
while the toilet overflows


My heart goes with him
as my husband
leaves the table –
a friend’s joke
about Italians



Alexis Rotella has been writing poetry since the 1970’s. She served as president of The Haiku Society of America as well as its house organ, Frogpond. Founder of Prune Juice, a still active senryu journal, Alexis is also a well known mobile photographer and licensed acupuncturist in Arnold, Maryland. She has written dozens of books including the curation of Unsealing Our Secrets (MeToo poems) available on Amazon and Kindle.


Painting Signs and Stains by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Mountains: Mischief Mountain by Kenneth Pobo

A2 Mischief Mountain Ken Pobo Jenn Zed

After the witch melts, a bad bout of water,
we see her steam and the monkeys get happy.
All is well. But wait! She’s not really gone.
Her steam became a mountain
and anyone who climbs her faces great danger.
She shakes the earth,
brings you to your knees. She can un-sky
a lightning bolt to aim at your heart.

You might be walking to the Emerald City,
historically a difficult journey,
and run into her mountain. So much
for being in a hurry to arrive. You think,
oh well, it’s not a very tall mountain,
I’ll make it. That’s the thing about mountains.
Size can mean little. Put your ear to the ground
and listen for a rumble.
That’s her.

Becoming a mountain wasn’t in her plans,
but she’s adjusted. Locals call it Mischief Mountain
which she likes. Under a full moon
she admits she got way too crazy
over a pair of slippers. Now
she makes wildflowers, some poisonous,
and from her peak she casts spells so potent
that she can turn the sun into a cheddar-colored
ping pong ball that she slams across
several darkening worlds.


First published in A New Ulster.



Kenneth Pobo has a new book of prose poems forthcoming from Clare Songbirds Publishing House called The Antlantis Hit Parade. His forthcoming chapbook of haiku and tanka will appear from Yavanika Press. It’s called Threads.


Painting by Jenn Zed. Used by permission. 

#Immigration: Collateral Damage by Michael H. Brownstein

Collateral Damage Michael H Brownstein 1

Heat a bombed-hell
and you’re carrying the weight of a child
after his leg vanished
when he came upon a landmine.
First the sweat evaporates into nothing,
the skin contours to the sun:
Before you, a fresh water beach,
muscles cramping, you want to lie in the sand,
but first you need to plunge into water.
There is no beach, no fresh water,
only the red liquid of conflict,
too much collateral damage.
The boy’s bone stabs into your arm.
Heat, too, has weight.
You need the beach, fresh water.
You need to shake your head clear of sunlight.
to close your eyes to dizziness.
If you put the object down,
where will that leave you? Where will you be?
How much further to a safe place?
Your lips lipsticked with dust and death.
The boy is still breathing,
but you, your heart races.
Mid-Missouri, July,
the temperature over a hundred,
humidity pushing to a hundred ten.
The war has been over for years.
The object you carry is yourself.


First published in H.E.A.R.T.

Collateral Damage 2 Brownstein


Bio: Michael H. Brownstein is on the roof of his old house, the roof in serious disrepair, and he walks on it as if he’s on a boardwalk – a squirrel falls through where he just stood – what is left to do but go to all fours, tread carefully until he’s on safe ground, call the roofers (he can’t fix this), and write a poem.

He’s walking across a great field, firecrackers exploding. He swats away at dozens of mosquitoes. Near where he teaches, the security guard tackles him and points out a sniper who has been shooting at him as he crossed. There is nothing else to do but conduct a poetry workshop in his algebra class.

He goes camping, and a rattlesnake crawls into his sleeping bag. Prayer and poetry – they really do go together.

On and on. Take a break. Write a poem.