Some broad’s just tossed you
and you’re strolling past this corner
joint with the wrap-around window and it’s 3 AM
and the ceiling all lit up like a galaxy
with that new-fangled fluorescent crap
and you stop to watch the lonely planets
frozen inside, just you and the vacant-eyed
storefront peeping in from
across the street, you’re
kinda curious to see what’s gonna
happen, what kind of rumble’s gonna
bust loose, three guys and one redhead
is always trouble, especially
with her dark cavern eyes
contemplating the sandwich she
holds up with one hand instead
of the snap-brimmed fedora sharpie
sitting next to her, hasta be the guy
she came in with, the guy whose hand
her free hand is not quite touching,
the guy staring sullenly ahead, cigarette
dripping from his fingers as if
something’s finally sinking in
behind that hawk beak of a face
and it ain’t what he walked in
expecting, and maybe the counterman’s gonna
flourish an answer out from beneath
the countertop, he’s certainly reaching
for something in his crisp white
uniform and soda jerk cap and it sure as hell
ain’t coffee, three cups sitting neglected
at three cocked elbows, these guys,
these all-night countermen, they’ve
seen it all, heard it all, they’re real
magicians, these guys, his lips are open
a crack, he’s about to spill it, who she
will leave with, will it be
the bird that brung her, or maybe
that loner who’s somehow managed
to find a shadow to lurk in on a stool
at the acute but somehow obtuse
angle of this triangle of an otherwise
reflective countertop, and he looks
familiar, this occluded moon
of human night, at least the bit of his mug
you can see anyway, you know this guy, you can
feel him, he’s you, pondering the world
as it slips through your fingers, or would be, if
you walked in through that yellow door
at the back, and you know in a flash
the counterman’s guess is wrong,
the trick is flubbed,
someone’s switched out the rabbit,
cause that’s just the door to the
kitchen, there is no ingress/egress
to this universe, even the counterman’s
trapped in an orbit of polished Cherrywood,
and you realize how close the color is
to the woman’s dress, hair, irradiated
brick across the street, as if she
planned all this when she gussied
herself up for this tableau vivant, this
final curtain call, realize with new-
fangled fluorescent clarity
Red’s not leaving with Mr. Mystery,
she’s tossing everything and everybody,
in a minute she’ll toss that sandwich
and you and the storefront’ll be keeping
those otherworldly coffee tureens on the back
counter company till the sun comes up,
you might as well light up a Phillies
like the sign above the window says
cause you ain’t going nowhere neither.
Robert L. Dean, Jr.
Robert L. Dean, Jr.’s work has appeared in Flint Hills Review, I-70 Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, River City Poetry, Heartland!, and the Wichita Broadsides Project. In April 2017 he organized a program of poetry and improvised music at Fisch Haus in Wichita. His haibun placed first at Poetry Rendezvous 2017. He was a finalist in the 2014 Dallas Poets Community chapbook contest. His haiku placed second in the 2016 Kansas Authors Club competition. He has been a professional musician, and worked at The Dallas Morning News. He lives in Augusta, Kansas.
Rocks and Sea
"build all toward one eye--
make all lines lead toward that eye"
A modest ghost looks on this scene,
or a mummy, wrapped, alert,
or a plain but never empty mask,
an elementary emergence,
small gray form, mere patch on rough rock.
I see it hovering, watching the waters.
The scene itself unsettles,
sears the sight.
The ordinary eye is burned away.
The gods, the simple surging gods, are crashing here.
Shirley Glubka is a retired psychotherapist, the author of three poetry collections, a mixed genre collection, and two novels. The Bright Logic of Wilma Schuh (novel, Blade of Grass Press, 2017) is her latest. Shirley lives in Prospect, Maine with her spouse, Virginia Holmes. Website: http://shirleyglubka.weebly.com/ Online poetry at 2River View here and at The Ghazal Page here and here.
Where is the sitter, the mirror? Outside the frame.
Unseen. So whose portrait does he paint, his father’s
or his own? Perhaps he glimpses the darkened edge
of what’s to come or the backlight of lineage
in this doubling, a portrait of a man painting a portrait
of the man who taught him to paint. He has finished
his own figure as reflection has shown him, form
and light confirmed by his sidelong look. A last touch,
the fine-haired brush feathers the beard of the father,
who peers sideways too, perhaps eyeing the mirrored
face of the one he created recreating him. Or is it
the artist who emerges from the canvas he has painted
on canvas, adding years with each stroke?
Does he glance over his shoulder to ask, Who is this,
coming up on me, aged? Not my future but
a foreshadow my father teaches me to see.
J. C. Todd
J. C. Todd’s books are FUBAR, an artist book collaboration (Lucia Press), What Space This Body (Wind Publications), and two chapbooks. Poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and most recently in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Thrush, and Valparaiso Review. Winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize, she has received fellowships and awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the New Jersey Arts Council, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Pew, UCross, Ragdale and Leeway foundations.
Sint Maarten (for —)
The Blue Bitch Bar, on the boardwalk
behind Front Street, Philipsburg,
was where we read, Friday night,
during the Book Fair --
dogs chased kids on Segways
a band played Third World classics
waitress gave me the wireless password --
patrons were polite
writers applauded each other,
and you reminded me of someone I loved,
and who loved me
45 years ago.
“Casino country” said a friend,
and downtown, lining narrow cobbled streets,
jewellery stores everywhere, their elderly women
who get a tip if you enter and buy --
a yellow antique car decorates Old Street
Indian shops offer deals on saris and ipads,
and back at the book tables, you sign faith
for a young one who believes
in more than cruise-ship terminals --
but we can’t go back, you and I
to undivided lives, to love as seminal
as pelicans browsing uninvaded shallows.
At Boundary Monument, driving to Marigot
Shujah points the flag of the independence movement
for a united St. Martin
no more French lagoon, or Dutch salt pond,
a mosaic “island of dreams”, multi-national, multi-lingual
cosmopolitan Caribbean --
I didn’t see enough
of bay-embraced quartiers and small hills
to measure the fantasy,
like bridging the points
between archived nostalgia
and relentless vague desire.
John R. Lee
Saint Lucian writer, broadcaster, teacher, Bible preacher John R. Lee has a recent publication, Collected Poems: 1975-2015, from Peepal Tree. Click here to learn more.
The Card Players
Each night, these three--
Nathan, Henri and Charles
make ritual of rummy.
“To pass the time,”
they might offer,
should they so honour your question.
Henri, in beige, so often wins,
the others call him master.
His word is law in all things agricultural.
Poor Albert, skilless,
drawing comfort from his pipe.
I paint and sketch
And daily dream I hear--
“Paul, won’t you play?”
“Yes,” I say in a wink.
My spattered hands somehow
completed by the cards,
I sit with hat drawn deeply down
to hide my thought-filled eyes.
I play with verve and brilliance.
I am gallant in my dream.
But the invitation never comes--
and its lofty cousin, acceptance,
never finds its way to me--
to poor Cézanne,
the master of rejection.
Steve Deutsch lives with his wife Karen--a visual artist, in State College, PA. He writes poetry, short fiction and the blog: email@example.com. His most recent publications have been in Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, The Drabble. He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
World With Wings
that was us once,
though when you said “pair bonding”
and told me what it meant,
it just felt like
a caution and a reckoning were due:
in the pastels were each other’s bodies
we’d started tiring of being with,
our world the wild and garish colours
of what wasn’t possible, what we didn’t want anyway
but these were all beside the point--
we should not have been a pair,
and whatever bonding was there was
done out of fear and loneliness and despair
and the only flying in the picture
was fated to be in opposite directions
to opposing poles
where i could tell them
i’d served twelve years of a life sentence,
this jailbird did
This poem was written as part of the surprise ekphrastic challenge on birds.
Garth Ferrante is a complete unknown who teaches, writes, and makes games out of challenging his own creativity. He writes because he loves to, because he finds meaning and purpose in it, because if he didn’t, life would be lifeless.
Emily Carr’s Forest, British Columbia, 1931-2
No sky. Nothing but smothering
succession. Parallel tree trunks
linked parts of a whole, a schema, flow.
Braided tangle of foliage
heavy, creased curtains that block the way
green waves of oceans thrust
a final tsunami to bury the world
Three-fourths up the crush
a sliver of golden light illumines
what it squeezes between
No place for a foothold.
A few trunks hold spikes--
remnant of branches--
that will pierce skin
Cloy of soil, corroding wood, dense vegetation--
What you can’t smell or see, but hear
burrow, rustle, plummet through air
sounds you can’t pinpoint what direction
they come from. Everything echoes
Is that you breathing?
Karen L. George
I'm author of the poetry collection Swim Your Way Back (Dos Madres Press, 2014), and five chapbooks, most recently The Fire Circle (Blue Lyra Press, 2016), and an ekphrastic collaborative chapbook Frame and Mount the Sky (Finishing Line Press, 2017). My work has appeared inAdirondack Review, Naugatuck River Review, Louisville Review, Heron Tree, and Sliver of Stone. I review poetry at Poetry Matters: http://readwritepoetry.blogspot.com/, and am co-founder and fiction editor of the journal, Waypoints: http://www.waypointsmag.com/. My website is: http://karenlgeorge.snack.ws/.
Caribbean Dawn, Storm Clearing
after Stephen Hannock
Evasive light, blood orange
amid the filtering mist
above barely visible trees
as black clouds recede;
as the day clarifies, heat
intensifies, the landscape
sheds its mysterious skin
Editor's note: Alan Catlin's poem was inspired by the work of artist Stephen Hannock, whose stunning landscape paintings can be viewed at http://www.stephenhannock.info.
Alan Catlin has been publishing for parts of five decades in little, minuscule, not so little, literary and university publications from the Wisconsin Review to Tray Full of Lab Rats, to Wordsworth’s Socks and The Literary Review among many others. His chapbook, Blue Velvet, won the Slipstream Chapbook Contest in 2017. He is the poetry and review editor of Misfitmagazine.net, an online poetry journal.
Rauschenberg’s Bed, 1955
Art is a threadbare quilt
aggrandized with paint, hung
on a wall with a spattered pillow,
christened, Bed. Gallons of effusion,
in red yellow, blue, black,
pour over it for decades--
the drip is
of the authentic
The praise of the cognoscenti anoints
the Artist with the imprimatur
of ironic, witty genius.
Never an inkling of recoil at his
contempt for art that works, art
that keeps you warm--the art
of women. For real women--contempt
for his grandmother, hands knotted
around her needle, pushing it with
her grandmother’s thimble, or contempt
for the girl in a dim Charleston
sweatshop, a hundred sewing machines
like wasps buzzing around her, or contempt
for who knows what woman, but
quilting, I say, is women’s
art. A woman made this
and a man was praised for
throwing paint on it.
Barbara Carlton is a writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She lives in San Diego, California. In her other professional life she is an architect. In her personal life she is the mother of two grown children and the servant of two cats known as the Permanent Toddlers.
She jumped out the patrol car’s backseat, indifferent to being let go with just a warning and angry that they kept the spray-paint cans when they picked her up on the other side of town. They’ll probably use them to paint their kid’s bikes or wagons, or some stupid table in their garage.
The air smelled like rain, so she hurried to the closest bus stop and rode until reaching an area where it looked like the cops would have more serious crimes than graffiti to worry about. She laughed when she jumped off, stepping down almost straight into a hardware store. The itch surfaced as soon as she reached the aisle that mattered. Her fingers trailed along the cans, tapping the caps when she came to a favourite colour. She couldn’t help it. It’s not like there were regular art supplies at the foster home she’d been dumped in this month. Or any of the other foster homes in any of the other months for that matter. Mr. and Mrs. Foster were just as interchangeable to her as she was to them.
“Can I help you miss?” an elderly, aproned employee asked.
The way his shaggy white eyebrows arched made her feel guilty. Not like she was going to try and lift something – more like, why wasn’t she at school this time of the morning? She was almost eighteen, but not quite; the last thing she needed was this old geezer calling the boys in blue.
“No thanks. I was just looking for a clear coat,” she said with a toss of her hair that made her look like every other idiot teenager. “It’s for an art project I’m finishing today at school.”
He walked away and picked up a broom that leaned against the wall. She watched him sweep for a moment then walked down the next aisle. Rifling through her pockets, she came up with a dollar in quarters and three nickels. Not enough for even one can. She wasn’t a thief, no way. She walked toward the entrance. When she reached the part of the floor that tripped the automatic sliding door, a large yellow cardboard sign advertised stacks of blue electrical tape - two for a dollar. She picked one up and rolled it around in her hand, then picked up another and made her way to the cash register. The man stopped sweeping and came over to check her out. She smiled at him sweetly and like she often did with strangers, wondered if he could be her grandfather.
She wandered a few blocks in one direction, then another, looking for an inconspicuous target. The main avenue ran north and south, so she turned right at a light and headed east. A few antique stores and galleries dotted the street, but you could see auto repair and construction supply businesses encroaching into what probably had been an arts district not too long ago.
The abandoned building cried out to be something more, with its rounded corners and glass block windows. She looked around to make sure no one from the neighbouring businesses had a reason to come her way. Confident, she walked around the entire back wall and placed her palms against different spots as if she were feeling for a heartbeat.
She worked randomly, furiously ripping the blue tape into short and long pieces. The work evolved minute by minute. She reached up and then quickly crouched to the ground, leaving one thought unfinished and moving to the other end to start something completely unrelated. Her fingers hurt from rubbing the strips down into their shapes hard enough to make them stick.
Shadows began to cast over the building from the low hanging clouds, which suddenly appeared. Her stomach growled. She stood up and stepped back, wiping away a tear and wishing she still had her cell phone so she could take a picture. With no money left, a bus ride back was out of the question. She started walking back toward the main road to thumb a ride. The Fosters would be angry when they got another message from the high school that she hadn’t been in classes. Five months. She’d be eighteen in five months. Out of the system and free to go wherever she wanted. She’d heard graffiti was considered an art form in New York City - maybe she’d go there and teach them what you could do with blue electrical tape.
Vicki Roberts is a writer and graphic artist who lives on Florida's east coast. Her first novel, Oldsters, was published in 2017. In between writing short stories, which have been published in various magazines and anthologies, she is at work on her next book, The Year of Gwendolyn Presley Flowers. Her life selfishly revolves around literature, music and art. Catch up with Vicki at https://iamvickiroberts.com
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Tanmoy Das Lala
John R. Lee
Gregory E. Lucas
Lorette C. Luzajic
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Mary C. McCarthy
Megan Denese Mealor
Patrick G. Metoyer
David P. Miller
Stacy Boe Miller
Mark J. Mitchell
Mark A. Murphy
S. Jagathsimhan Nair
Heather M. Nelson
James B. Nicola
Bruce W. Niedt
Kim Patrice Nunez
M. N. O'Brien
Pravat Kumar Padhy
Daniel J. Pizappi
Melissa Reeser Poulin
Rhonda C. Poynter
Marcia J. Pradzinski
Anita S. Pulier
Ralph La Rosa
Mary Kay Rummell
Janet St. John
Lisa St. John
Christy Sheffield Sanford
Janice D. Soderling
Kim Cope Tait
Mary Ellen Talley
Liza Nash Taylor
Janine Pommy Vega
Sue Brannan Walker
Martin Willitts Jr
William Carlos Williams
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Shannon Connor Winward
William Butler Yeats
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