Kenneth Pobo


Unfinished reading assignment: Men of Iron.
Why did men want to be made of iron?
Why not have a lavender spine,

be both soft and strong? The men did
irony things. I flunked a test on the plot,
played Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction,”

about feeling depressed and bad.
An iron man would buck up. I stumbled
through long division, went to

school more divided each day.
Pumpkins and turkeys.
Iron and bubbles.


We hear cats at the bedroom door,
let them in. A quiet night
can be ominous
or joyous. I’m not sure
which it is tonight—outside
feels distant, a muffled weather report.

So much to do. The house grows more
decrepit each year. The news,
an arsonist spilling gas
around our feet. For now,

wet bodies, clasped hands,

Kenneth Pobo is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), Dindi Expecting Snow (Duck Lake Books), Wingbuds (, and Uneven Steven (Assure Press).Opening is forthcoming from Rectos Y Versos Editions. He also writes short fiction and essays. For the past thirty-plus years he taught at Widener University and retired in 2020.

Nick DePaschal


A promissory note
For living. Cottonwood
Pollen sticks to her clothes,
Her hair, a debtor’s
Crown, the glue between
Two universes, two alternating
Currents powering all events.


Some men hold light
In their hands like melons;
Some women hold light
In their bellies like song.

The light is prescient
And piercing, cleansing
And coherent, whole
And worthy though imperfect.

There is nothing holding us
Over the pit but ourselves.
And perhaps the light and love
Of the man for the woman

And vice versa.

Nick DePascal is the author of Before You Become Improbable (West End Press, 2014). He teaches at the University of New Mexico and Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Agnes Marton


I’d taught myself how to rule
the ceiling, how to hang,
how to hunt for roaches.

Bristles in breeze, no curfew.
Tramping free, fangs out,
until the kooky hours.

I’m called the King of the Roof.
Scaling slow death, which is life,
some respect is due. Yet,
my name could be simply Spider.

Time to time, a pretender
appears in the upper region,
puts my haul on the wall of
failures. “Surely a bludger,

a compulsive self-advocate
full of bullshit. Even his mum
ran away from the pantry,
sly.” Fact. The last one.

For Mother’s Day I’m weaving you
a propitiatory gift. It’s like
a seared shank of a ring
with the centre stone gone.

Spider silk is superior to spandex:
it can stretch much further
before losing shape.
Light, strong, full of protein.
First a liquid like spit. It hardens.
Not by exposure to air;
it’s drawn out.

Is there a name for the loss
held in place by the head?

There’s only one name I know well:
Oegoconia deauratella.

It’s the moth
I’m juggling with my palps.


I would elbow his ledges, it’s
almost an escape.
I can see the suspension bridges
from here.
I used to love the wobble
above the gorge.
I seemed to move forward.
To wear the moon on my nails
as a sign.
Whoever thought I was a hero
didn’t realise
there was a cable to keep me up.
There was some mumble,
almost a prayer.

How boring, the floor, the impeccable
parquetry. I feel like falling but
there should be something to jerk me back.
Like the safe word would pull up
cheekulino lovers. Like a dream in which
I’m stomped by a herd
and an unknown cat wakes me up
by kneading on my chest.
Like a scalding second in my ears
after the CPR of a player
though I never watch football.

Agnes Marton is a Hungarian-born poet, writer, librettist, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), Reviews Editor at The Ofi Press and Art Curator at One Hand Clapping. Recent publications include her collection Captain Fly’s Bucket List and four chapbooks with Moria Books (USA). She won the National Poetry Day Competition in the UK.

Margaret R Sáraco


Venetian blinds
cover the picture
window expanse
the pull string tied
wrapped around
a decorative hook

Soil coats layers
of the curved
aluminum slats,
once bleach-scrubbed
wiped with rags
at first beige, 
now off-white

Middle slat
bent and yellowed
imprinted where
she looked
and sat
in darkness,
in light

Before her end
she peered outward
when outward was
without reach
and she, shut in.

Margaret R Sáraco’s poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Lips, Ovunque Siamo, Exit 13, Paterson Literary Review, Peregrine Journal, The Path: A Literary Magazine and Show us your Papers. Her poem, “The Unlocked Door,” received an Honorable Mention in the 2020, Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest. She recently completed a one-act play, “Catherine and Nina,” about a meeting between St. Catherine of Siena and a teenager in 1973.

Clara Burghelea


You and I are the gods of white, impervious to light and decay.
Each dawn, we horseshoe metaphors before we have them run
our veins, a pair of Rita and Rex German shepherds, chewing on
boar bones, ready to teeth the world, should the world chain us to
a fence, a thought, a line. At noon, we wolve for each other,
nibbling at hues of pink and purple, a sundog on each shoulder,
the purr of snow caressing our tongues, one heart muscle. Before
the moth-winged night bursts a thousand stars, fleshed-out poems
descend into the room, crashing through living tissues,
wordsmithing the air, an electric sizzle of grit and surrender alike.


someone to unbutton the heavy coat of the day,
throw it loose on a chair, the bare flame of a thought

caught in the worn-out fabric. Unpack happenings,
before the grime of the hours thickens like habit,

March waiting outside, ready to cup its palms around
my breasts, breathing its mouth of rain and green

into my face. Except there is still a snow flurry
on the tips of the grass, a tug of hunger gnawing

at my inside and a throat full of uncertain tomorrows.
You say falling is for dreams, your arms are wide

enough to hold threaded light, tend to the sipping
wounds, roll out the frayed hems of the broken.

I am to just wait, let the world speak to me like
a good poem, before something settles.

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born poet with an MFA in Poetry from Adelphi University. Recipient of the Robert Muroff Poetry Award, her poems and translations appeared in Ambit, Waxwing, The Cortland Review and elsewhere. Her collection The Flavor of The Other was published in 2020 with Dos Madres Press. She is the Review Editor of Ezra, An Online Journal of Translation.

Daniel Moore


Beneath the birdhouse
her skin became
a book of beaks
where hunger turned the pages.

As feathers fell
when the ground proclaimed
a need for softer things, like the wind,
the sugar inside

rose to dangerous levels,
which explained the reason
trembling looked
as if the blood had wings.

Daniel Edward Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island.
His poems are forthcoming in The Chiron Review, The Bitter Oleander,
Plainsongs Magazine, Blue Mountain Review, Drunk Monkeys Magazine,
Nixes Mate Review, Lily Poetry Review and The Adirondack Review.
He is the author of ‘Boys’ (Duck Lake Books)
and “Waxing the Dents” (Brick Road Poetry Press)

Michael Steffen


Gripping the neck of his old mutt Fender, Bruce spins on my turntable—

“The screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways”

In a low, breathy timber, he sings of a girl lost among the ruins
of all the guys she’s swayed with and spun away,
prom nights ended, car engines morphing into her private laughter.

He sings in the voice of a boy

for whom she’s the quintessential Jersey girl
and to whom he offers escape

from Camden, Freehold, Secaucus,
whatever malodorous ghost town they’re in.

Anthem, subtext

for manhood’s growl and gutsy chords. The moon,
filtered through industrial smog, spotlights her veranda, the only stage she knows.

“Like a vision she dances across the porch, as the radio plays”

Will she leave Jersey? Maybe.
Or maybe she’s scared, and the boy in this song is just a kid with a fast car, a make-

believe idol
of rusted fire escapes, burned-out garages, graffiti and boardwalk.

Stay or go—now there’s a crossroads

stuck between smokestacks
and the two lanes that can take them away.

We’ve all had that restless, 3am feeling
in front of the Quick Chek, thinking “Is this all there is?”

Somewhere out there is the future.
His car door beckons, “Mary, climb in.
It’s a town full of losers, and I’m pulling out of here to win.”

Stay or go—
the sun shines on heroes and cowards alike.

MICHAEL STEFFEN’S fourth poetry collection, Blood Narrative, was recently published by Main Street Rag Press. New work has appeared in Chiron Review, Constellations and The Comstock Review. Michael is a graduate of the MFA writing program at Vermont College and currently lives in Buffalo, NY.

Joanna Grant


I cry like an old man now
perhaps for the same reasons
tears stanched through the seasons
buried out back in the dead of night
guilty, guilty, so many secrets given
to the earth that takes and takes
but finally sighs, finally says Enough
then all its will is bent, all the winds
all the weathers aimed at that old dirt
till each tear like so many rags clung
to the shanks of the poor piles of bones
in the unmarked grave start to push up, up, up
through the loosened topsoil, that tamped-down muck
no match, no match for the undammed waves of the past

Joanna Grant holds a Ph.D. in British and American literature, specializing in fictional as well as nonfiction travel narratives of the Middle East. She spent eight years in that region, notably two years in Afghanistan, teaching writing, mythology, and public speaking classes to American soldiers and gathering materials for her own memoir, which she is currently completing as part of an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Southern New Hampshire University under the direction of Mark Sundeen. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in journals including Guernica and Prairie Schooner.

Patricia Walsh


Nothing to be confused about, a prize worth saving,
Development being arrested in a solid gaze,
Trusted into the slaughterhouse, gone like that
Reading between the pejorative lines quickly
The self-administrated poison gone to seed.

Not hungry in this town, or fumble in the dark,
The scarred jewellery betrays its further use
Caught in the administered chains forever
Some more broke than others, God to judge
Hidden charges under clothes into persuasion.

Restricted from celebration, selling the hubris
Recurrent fear goes forth like a fan
Gone like the perception that others never see
Catastrophic entitlements caught in its briars
Comfortable drinks over a hearty burn.

The sheltered sights, the barbaric weather,
Watching the detectives saunter past,
Honing a week’s work, nothing to report.
Just a deprivation of sorts, going down
To the pejorative drain of an honest career.

Rare carvings not knowing when to stop,
The enlightened called when still convenient
Nudged into conversation a barbed will
Head on the ground a diplomatic stare,
Watched like matchsticks, fizzle and burn.

Patricia Walsh was born in the parish of Mourneabbey, in north Co Cork,and educated at University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology in 2000. Her poetry has been published in Stony Thursday; Southword; Too Well Away Journal; New Wasteland Magazine; Quail Bell Magazine; The Poetry Collective; Quiver Review; Blazevox Magazine; and The Rational Creature. She has already published a chapbook, titled Continuity Errors in 2010, and a novel, The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014. She was the featured poet in the inaugural edition of Fishbowl Magazine, and a further novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina will be published in late 2021.

Gregg Shapiro


The paper cut you get from the flap
of the envelope containing the stimulus
check goes deeper than any you have
ever experienced. Electrically charged,
it almost severs a nerve. There is so much

blood you have to look up the word cauterize
in a dictionary then search the internet
for how to do it. The wound is just another
access point for COVID-19 to enter and wreak
havoc before a single cent is spent or saved.

Gregg Shapiro is the author of seven books including the expanded edition of his short story collection How to Whistle (Rattling Good Yarns Press, 2021). Publications include Exquisite Pandemic, RFD, Gargoyle, Mollyhouse, Impossible Archetype, and Dissonance Magazine, Moving Images: Poems Inspired by Film (Before Your Quiet Eyes Publishing, 2021), This Is What America Looks Like (Washington Writers’ Publishing House, 2021) and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology From Middle America (Belt Publishing, 2021). Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.

Michael Cocchiarale


At the wake, Luce admitted she’d splurged on a Read.  

Jules winced. “Don’t you think she—” 

“Relax. This is the sub-basic package. It only tells you random ways a person spent their time. Did you know Mom spent twenty-seven hours and sixteen minutes of her life picking turkey from carcasses for Thanksgiving soups?”  

Dad overheard. “When I die, you do a Read for all the time I spent pumping gas.”  

            Luce smiled. “For me, it’d be opening packages.”  

Jules said, “I’d like to remember Mom—” 

Once, there was this jar of Bolognese,” Dad said, heaving into a chair. “Your mother was going to chuck it, and I said, ‘Don’t be dumb—we paid 5.95 for this crap!’ I worked on the sucker until my palm turned red. Beat the lid with the handle of a knife. She begged to forget it, but I hauled ass back to that stupid store. ‘You do it!’ I told the manager. Two-three minutes he stands there twisting, straining—the full bathroom face!” 

Luce laughed. “Did you get your money back?” 

Near tears, Dad said, “Get this: the guy raises the jar and smashes it on the goddamn floor!” 

That night, sleepless, Jules downed a Dremexa—a secret, illicit splurge of her own. Darkness, stars, then Mom materialized at their old kitchen table, glasses off, studying a carcass. When Jules told Dad’s story, Mom mustered a smile and said, “Just one of the times he showed his love.”  

             Jules recalled pounding, screams, shattered plates. Once, a blade scowled the air. “How many were there? The times?” 

Mom spun the plate. “See what you can find on that side.”  

            Jules obeyed, driving a nail into flesh that clung to bone. Above—between them both— the clock hands read aloud each dense second until dawn. 

Michael Cocchiarale is the author of the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019) and two short story collections–Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018) and Still Time (Fomite, 2012). His recent work appears online in journals such as Fiction Kitchen BerlinFictive DreamSleet MagazineUnlikely Stories Mark V, and Ovunque Siamo. More information is available at his website:

Joey Nicoletti


The powerful pine
in between the scuffed, dented,
metallic, white garage door
has shrunk and faded,
like my favorite burnt orange
Spider-Man t-shirt
I wore at least once a week
during every gypsy-moth
caterpillar infested-summer
and every escalated parental argument
of my boyhood: my father
and mother’s fury
fueled by longing, bills, taxes,
an overabundance of overtime,
weed, wine, passion
and abuse by their parents,
two of whom lived with us;
a stop sign, leaning
on the chipped wooden torso
of a lamplight; today’s sun
strumming power lines:
playing chords in one
of the most sorrowful songs that
I am immeasurably grateful
I never, ever, have to sing again.

Joey Nicoletti’s most recent book is Fan Mail (Broadstone, 2021). He teaches at SUNY Buffalo State

Cortney Bledsoe


I bought glasses to read poetry
in the bathroom, and now I can’t feel
my legs. A unicorn is in danger
in the living room, and I can’t hear
my ennui over its cries. Guilt
is my wife, now, and she has cold
feet in bed. There will be bacon and
eggs, muffins or pancakes, apple
slices, stores I can’t afford, running
in the sun, if we can find its face.
Let’s build a town for the kitchen mice
to live in. Let’s beat each other
with balloons until somebody starts
sulking. It’s not your fault two
people hoped they could love something
more than themselves. Afternoons,
you teach me math. Evenings, you read
me pretty lies. I’m alive two days
a week. Sometimes, three. The rest,
I’m waiting for my noise to come home.

Cortney Bledsoe was raised on a rice and catfish farm in eastern Arkansas, CL Bledsoe is the author of more than twenty books, including the poetry collections Riceland, Trashcans in Love, Grief Bacon, and his newest, Driving Around, Looking in Other People’s Windows, as well as his latest novels Goodbye, Mr. Lonely and the forthcoming The Saviors. Bledsoe co-writes the humor blog How to Even, with Michael Gushue located here: His own blog, Not Another TV Dad, is located here: He’s been published in hundreds of journals, newspapers, and websites that you’ve probably never heard of. Bledsoe lives in northern Virginia with his daughter.

Kirsten Meehan



There are shadows in Hiroshima which prove,
at the end of the world,
we return to 2 dimensions,

smudged sidewalk chalk
under summer rainfall.

Fingerprint streaks
without the databases.


All matter can change states.
On my car window, my breath
sticks and clumps,
particles attracting more particles.

Something about atoms.
Something about vibrations.
I’m sure a scientist could tell you better,
but I am not a scientist.

I can only describe the results—
that, sometimes,
things which used to take up so much space
whisp away into nothing we can hold.

That’s just chemistry.
Just physics.


In some museum,
I see human history stamped onto 3-dimensional objects.
Faded paint on an urn. Tarnished jewelry.
Worn-down handles of farming equipment.

On the wall, no shadows.


At the height of everything, we are the fruit we bear
and I roll one, soft-skinned,
teetering on overripe,
in my hands, thighs burning
on the aching hot blacktop.

Brown grass twists like
capillaries through the cracks,
threatening blood like flushed cheeks.

Teeth break the skin, eyes fall shut.
You spill yourself like a glass of lemonade
and the sun bakes you into vapors
and leftover, sticky sweetness.

I handed you the pit like a secret,
told you to make a ring out of it.

Kirsten Meehan was born and raised in New York, growing up in the same house her father grew up in. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from SUNY Potsdam, and then worked in the publishing industry for a time after graduating. Currently, she is working towards her MFA in Poetry, as well as an MA in English.

Cameron Morse


At a certain point,
my coffee filters began to
collapse, the grounds
a silt collected at the end
of each mug. Grime
in the mechanism made
me want to clean it out
in the sink. Afterwards,

the digital clock blinks on,
then off, then on again.
I borrow Mom’s old Mr. Coffee
from the furnace room,
wipe down its dust-coated
warming plate, toss out
a fossilized filter she forgot
was in there, dislocate
the carafe lid for the flatware
rack and wash also the glass
pot in the dishwasher. Finally,

however, the KRUPS re-
animates. All the irreparable
damage I imagined I did
doesn’t stop another sunrise
from erupting in the bedroom
window, breaking over each
successive failure another
chance to get it right
with the kids, stay married
to my anger, and gulp down
the hot unsweetened day
from my human mug.

Cameron Morse is Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of six collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and two children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

Jane Ellen Glasser

Tabebuia Trees in Early Spring
a Year into a Pandemic

Yellow everywhere!
splashed so heavily upon limbs
petals crowd out leaves.

Mute as unspoken prayer,
their golden trumpets
drown out a dark year

of living in fear as shut-ins.
Now open the door
to your senses; walk outside.

Lose yourself in the gift
of a single tabebuia
transforming an entire street;

let the wind scatter
yesterday’s sorrows; listen
to a choir of birds

in black robes, all perched
facing east on a power line,
sing hallelujahs.

Jane Ellen Glasser’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, such as The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Georgia Review. In the past she served as the poetry critic for The Virginian-Pilot, poetry editor for the Ghent Quarterly and Lady Jane’s Miscellany, and co-founder of the nonprofit arts organization and journal New Virginia Review. She won the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry for Light Persists (2006), and the Poetica Publishing Chapbook Contest for The Long Life (2011). Jane Ellen Glasser: Selected Poems(2019) and Staying Afloat during a Plague (2021) are her recent collections. To learn more about the poet and her work, visit

Michael Gushue


A banquet—
jellied morsels
on the cusp of spoilage,
meats sweating fat,
a mute girl thrown into a cell
like refuse onto a midden.

Among pines and hemlocks,
a foundling, orphaned cub,
a rosary about the throat,
the feral necklace of history.

In the corbel above
the baptismal font
a beast’s face leered
into you like a mirror.

Past iron bars
the spilt world awaits.
Uprooted vineyards, ruins,
the heat that rises in each
man, every woman—vessels
burst by the surging moon.

My son, my wolf,
life was a cage.
A bullet cracked open
the prison of your chest.
What is saved
can also be destroyed.
I pulled the shroud
to your smeared mouth,
your doubled heart.

Michael Gushue is co-founder of the nanopress Poetry Mutual Press. His books are Pachinko Mouth (Plan B Press), Conrad (Silver Spoon Press), Gathering Down Women (Pudding House Press), and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey (Pretzelcoatl Press). He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

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