She wonders about his tattoo by Shannon Phillips


Maybe the small blue spiral behind his earlobe is a corkscrew into his skull, there to remind him that all life is suffering, even the good parts, the absence of which at times makes his heart sag, soaked in want. Maybe he got used to the pain after that. Or maybe it’s the slow wind up the mountain to Big Bear, the spooled line from the fishing trips he never went on with his grandfather because he was too young when he died. Or maybe his Middle Eastern students finally convinced him to smoke hookah and it was so good that he wanted to commemorate the revelation he had while staring at the cobra statue in the corner, curled in dance as if on the kaleidoscopic streets of Morocco. He’d almost gotten purple ink, in honor of Cheshire cat rings, but the tattoo artist talked him out of it; he was okay with that—the rings on which Alice slid down into the rabbit hole were smoke-colored anyway. Perhaps he got it because some part of him wanted others to ask about it. He remembered his mom worrying out loud one afternoon that he would become like her—lonely from preferring the inside of his own head. She even wished she’d been born into another culture, one where a child couldn’t run ten feet without smacking into someone who loved him. He remembered this while waiting in line during his lunch hour, the woman next to him wearing a scarf—the color of sunset—layered generously around her neck.



Shannon Phillips is the founding editor of Picture Show Press. Her most recent chapbook, Body Parts, was published by dancing girl press in 2017. After teaching ESL for 3 years, she decided to study Arabic and hopes to one day work in the field of translation.

High Priestess by Patricia Nelson


High Priestess

—a tarot card

Narrow by narrow she rides.
Woman with a blue ball on her head
and a horn and another horn
and a no eye and a why eye
and a new moon through her dress.

To see her you must live in a jar
or a rock or an alphabet
or a planet balanced on a dark.
On a “why” of seed and stem and under
and made of wide by wide.

You must see white to white,
your heart stem paling at the leaf.
Face of chalk and torso hard as tooth.
In the high-low, pile moonlight silent as sand.
Release the cold and falling salt of judgment.



Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who now volunteers with an environmental organization. She worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area.


The High Priestess card of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith.

A Flamingo Always Has One Leg Up, Ready to Fly If It Needs To by Martin Willitts Jr


the weight of life is trembling down the night
shaking curtains made out of rocks

a blink will un-do this world
fumbling with the way-it-used-to-be

overhead near-perfect rain breaks the heat

it is quiet without you
rain is writing this down



Martin Willitts Jr has twenty-four chapbooks including the winner of the Turtle Island Quarterly Editor’s Choice Award, The Wire Fence Holding Back the World (Flowstone Press, 2017), plus 16 full-length collections, The Uncertain Lover and Coming Home Celebration. Forthcoming books include Harvest Time (Deerbrook Press) and the Blue Light Award winner The Temporary World. He is an editor for Comstock Review.


Painting by Jenn Zed.

Soapbox by Bill Arnott


Bergy bits and growlers
float into the bay
chunks of Greenland
set adrift, temporary
floating homes
that wait
naive as snowmen
meanwhile fridges, freezers
air conditioners
heat the rest

We go see it while it’s there
speeding its demise
talk of preservation
need for care
lectures from the ignorant
on upturned soapbox podiums
spilling phosphate residue –
take your message to the world
on private jet, Air Hypocrite
No, no, no, white wine goes in the other fridge – the one beside the green bin



Vancouver author, poet, songwriter Bill Arnott is the bestselling nonfiction author of Wonderful Magical Words and Dromomania. His poetry is in the League of Canadian Poets Heartwood and Paper Dart Press UK PLAY anthologies. Bill’s poems, reviews and articles also appear online.


Photograph by Christine Zenino.

For My Friend Who Complains He Can’t Dance and Has a Severe Case of Writer’s Block By Nick Carbó


Then, take this tambourine
inside the sheep barn,

listen to the anaconda’s intestines,
the shark’s walking stick,

learn the river insect’s secret
neon calligraphy,

swim through Frida Khalo’s hair
and come out smelling like orchids,

lift your appetite
towards the certified blue turtle,

feast on Garcia Lorca’s leather shoes
and taste the sun, the worms of Andalusia,

don’t hesitate in front of a donut,
a ferris wheel, the crab nebula,

excavate diamond-eyed demons,
Chaucer’s liver, Minoan helmets,

paste Anne Sexton’s face on a $1,000 bill
and purchase a dozen metaphors,

beware of the absolute scorpion,
the iguana with the limping leg,

permit indwelling, white words around the eyes,
the confrontation of windows,

never feed your towel to the alligator,
he will eat you and eat you and eat you.



First published in El Grupo McDonald’s (Tia Chucha, 1995). Reprinted by permission of Nick Carbó.



Nick Carbó has edited two anthologies of Filipino literature, Returning a Borrowed Tongue: An Anthology of Filipino and Filipino American Poetry (1995) and Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers (2000), and coedited the anthology Sweet Jesus: Poems About the Ultimate Icon (2002) with Denise Duhamel. His honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Fundacion Valparaiso, and Le Château de Lavigny. His collections of poetry include El Grupo McDonald’s (1995); Secret Asian Man (2000), which won an Asian American Literary Award; and Andalusian Dawn (2004). Carbó’s work can be humorous, even satirical, in his examinations of American pop culture and its influence on Asian countries such as the Philippines. He told National Public Radio, “By writing about these influences, it’s my way of kicking back.”


Chalkboard graphic by Nick Carbó.

Herman, The Sturgeon by Tricia Knoll


My palms press against the thick glass wall
between me and Herman. I nudge in
next to three young girls with ponytails.
Herman glides, a profile of fossils.

The sign to my left:

Species: acipenser transmontanus (Pacific Sturgeon) –
the largest freshwater fish in North America
Age: 70 plus years, born during World War II
Eyes: Steel gray
Length: Ten feet
Weight: 450 pounds
Genealogy: Species to 175 million years ago
Residence: Bonneville Fish Hatchery on the Columbia River –– since 1998 captive in a man-made pool fed by Tanner Creek and groundwater.
One Herman or another has circled this pool for over sixty years.

The blonde mother distracts her kids with goldfish crackers.
I’ve got the window.

Does Herman see my hands splayed on the glass?
Am I as irrelevant to him as barnacles
crusted on the container ships on the Columbia
heading through Bonneville’s locks to Lewiston?
Does his brain sense how near his river is?
How high the wall to the upper Columbia?

I lean in as if to weigh the theft
of his wild identity, this land-locked fish.
Does he always swim clockwise?
Ignoring cycles of spawning?
His eyes give away nothing.
Bottom dweller. Four barbell sensors,
armored scutes. Yet – a brain that integrates.

My blessing to this fish
through my hands, through the glass.
Bless his terrible beauty.
Does he feel how my laying-on pulses the water?


First published in Song of Eretz.



Tricia Knoll moved from Oregon to Vermont in 2018 – two places that underscore the importance of eco-poetry holding up beautiful places in transition due to climate crisis. Website:

When We Glint by George Cassidy Payne


When we glint
we are back in time,
and the road groans
like an oncoming
British squadron.

Wounded. We feel
witnessed by time-
by 200 years of war,

a theater of bitter
clouds and the noon
day sun conniving.

When we glint we
sail through the carnage-

hurtling outward toward
an uncertain future. A
breeze rippling the surface.



George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence social worker, adjunct professor of philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College, and a student of religion. He has degrees in the subject from St. John Fisher College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and Emory University. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.


Painting by Jenn Zed.

Elegy with Scrambled Eggs by Beth Gordon


When I say breakfast, I mean your hard-boiled
bruises draped in designer silk blouses,
I mean my first lacy bra, party dressing
in my grandmother’s bedroom, the way you
led me to my reflection, your lipstick
mouth saying beautiful, I mean you kept
your face in shadow at every meal,
I mean you starved after your husband died
of cancer, I mean you were light headed
for 20 years, I mean the boarding house
where your mother steeped tea on a hot plate,
carried a globe lamp from Baltimore
to Greensboro, I mean the way you claimed
it as payment for the year she left you
behind, I mean the oncoming food truck
that crushed you as you turned into the church
parking lot. When I say church, I mean prayers
to a breathing machine, the way you limped
from bed, re-breaking your ankles, I mean
the last thing you said, I just don’t feel good,
I mean your hungry children dusting for
each other’s fingerprints, I mean pancakes
in the common room on Easter Sunday,
the men who came every week to see you
pour coffee, listen to your hymnal voice.

I mean the choirs in your battered heart
as God set a full table before you.



Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother, currently landlocked in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have been published in numerous journals including Into the Void, Noble/Gas, Five:2:One, SWWIM, Verity La, Califragile, Pretty Owl Poetry and Yes Poetry. She is the author of the chapbook, Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, published by Animal Heart Press. She is also Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.


Painting by Floris van Schooten.

Fake News by Bruce McRae


This is your reporter. We take you live
to the scene of multiple tomorrows.
There are cloudbanks in every room
and a noxious gas is fording our borders.
Cherubim fall like milk poured from a lip-red sky.
Notice the turmoil of lawns and gardens,
the way the earth eventually gives up her dead.
Listen to witnesses as they recoil
from an overabundance of weather.
See the void that’s opened, like a crack in the light.
Like lovers parting during wartime.
Like fingers crossing a heart
and every cemetery is filled with rosewater.



Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with well over a thousand poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press), ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy’ (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pskis Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).


Photograph of Peter Fonda’s “Captain America” flag patch from Easy Rider, by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas.