2 Poems by Jean LeBlanc

Snatching the Body
If you are lucky, the night is coolish and dry. Especially dry. At least the ground is not compact, amenable to being moved yet again. If there are stars, you do not see them.
If one falls, blazing a trail across the heavens, it does so unnoticed. You have brought
at least one helper, but all mouths are mum, silent, tight-lipped, mute. Only the spades converse, an untranslatable slate, slate, slate in the receiving earth. And then the lid.
And then. A sign of the cross, or perhaps just brushing away a clod of dirt.
thousands of them each spring on the hillside high up where the snow melts slowly and there on the edge of snow/no snow did I say a thousand it’s more like stars on a clear night a sign of spring a promise though like any promise breakable shepherd’s tears it’s also called or shepherd’s folly because they are so beautiful these thousand thousand little blooms that we forget and a lamb wanders off or a wolf oh little lily this cleft of stony ground I sleep beside you and awaken crushed
Jean LeBlanc
I teach writing and literature at a community college in northwestern New Jersey. Teaching informs my poetry, inspiring me to imagine other times, other worlds—and the connections to our time, our world. My poems have been published in several collections, most recently A Field Guide to the Spirits (Aqueduct Press, 2015). Art and photography also complement my writing, pushing me to see in new ways.

Old Bones by Lou Gallo

Old Bones
When I swivel my neck now I hear
cartilage popping and although it feels good
I think instantly of old Hasdrubal of Carthage
leading elephants across mountains
and I think of the bones in our back yard
on Columbus Street that my dog Spottie
buried, dug up, buried again, sucking
out that sweet marrow, and I think too
of the catacombs in Mexico City
that terrified me as a child—and
still terrify me—and of course who could
not think of Ozymandias . . .
oh I think lots of things because
how intimate is ossification and better
gather the memories while you can
before the neck becomes less a conduit
and more a fossil, not grainy like Lot’s wife
but solid, I like to think, marble,
a work of art some sculptor might carve
into a skylark or turtle or tiny peacock
that winds up on the family mantle.
At the moment I stare at the meat
placed before me in the Ancient Steak House
and can’t help poking at the bone
with my fork fancying it might emit
a signal of sorts explaining the difference
between its situation now and before when it
lived inside a cow . . . and I think of angels
and ghosts and sprites and how one
might thrive without the bones
always left behind, eroding into dust
eventually, the skull and teeth and
fingernails and ribs and elbows,
the structure collapsed,  the thinking
over, the old bones, old bones.
Louis Gallo
Louis Gallo’s work has appeared or will shortly appear in Wide Awake in the Pelican State (LSU anthology), Southern Literary Review, Fiction Fix, Glimmer Train, Hollins Critic,, Rattle, Southern Quarterly, Litro, New Orleans Review, Xavier Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Texas Review, Baltimore Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, The Ledge, storySouth,  Houston Literary Review, Tampa Review, Raving Dove, The Journal (Ohio), Greensboro Review,and many others.  Chapbooks include The Truth Change, The Abomination of Fascination, Status Updates and The Ten Most Important Questions. He is the founding editor of the now defunct journals, The Barataria Review and Books:  A New Orleans Review.  He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.

Electric Life by Henry Stanton

Electric Life
It doesn’t matter
someone else’s rage or pain or violence
you say to yourself
as you wait for the one you dread
to ascend the stairs to the bedroom in the dark
the keys are in the garden
somehow he has found them
The dream you awaken from is terrifying
yet in there
you were not terrified.
A yellow-green spotted beetle drops on your neck as you sink heavily back to sleep
you pinch    at    it
  leap to frightened consciousness
flick on the light
it is on its back among the carpet fibers
you start it scurrying with your finger tip
you leave it running across the screen
while a cricket floats lifelessly in your toilet bowl
while your sore eyes glaze over and the light goes out.
A voice in your dreamscape calls to you:
electrify your life dreamer back and
return to your rare language
I call you to awful combat
you are awake again.


Henry Stanton’s fiction, poetry and paintings appear in 2River, The A3 Review, Avatar, The Baltimore City Paper, The Baltimore Sun Magazine, Kestrel, Outlaw Poetry, PCC Inscape, Pindeldyboz, Rusty Truck, Salt & Syntax, SmokeLong Quarterly, The William and Mary Review, Word Riot, and The Write Launch and Yellow Mama, among other publications.

 His poetry was selected for the A3 Review Poetry Prize  and was shortlisted for the Eyewear 9th Fortnight Prize for Poetry.  His fiction received an Honorable Mention acceptance for the Salt & Syntax Fiction Contest and was selected as a finalist for the Pen 2 Paper Annual Writing Contest.

A selection of Henry Stanton’s paintings are currently on show at Atwater’s Catonsville and can be viewed at the following website www.brightportfal.com   A selection of Henry Stanton’s published fiction and poetry can be located for reading in the library at www.brightportfal.com

Ally, aka Advisor Resigns by Stephen Page

Ally, aka Advisor Resigns
You have exchanged the blue coat we gave you
For a red one; or is it just reversible?
Don’t snarl at me, you are not a lion,
You have the eyes of a glass serpent.
You taught me how to be a Godfather,
Not a father, or a leader.
You taught me how to destroy land,
Not build a ranch, or a reputation.
You think only in percentages,
Yours of course, not ours.
It’s no wonder you stink of cancer,
You are rotting from the inside out.
Don’t project yourself into me,
I am not your lost pocket mirror.
You shaped yourself through self-debasement,
But I will not lose my edification.
You will never spark cognitive dissonance,
For consensus on your chagrin.
You weighed the cows wrong, admit it,
Your florid three names will not save you now.
Trenchant are the ineligible, who wish
For nothing more than what they work for.
Your resignation was up for reprisal,
But only half-heartedly.
In the end you have saved me,
You have engendered my independence.
You are like a senator who asks a general
To win a war, then banishes him.
Empirically I have judged you
From the throne of my office.
Stop whispering in my ear,
I will not listen anymore.
I would like to name you Rasputin,
Except, you did not succeed.
Stephen Page phot with muse (1)
Stephen Page is the Author of The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, and A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. He holds two AA’s from Palomar College, a BA from Columbia University, and an MFA from Bennington College. He also attended Broward College. He is the recipient of The Jess Cloud Memorial Prize, a Writer-in-Residence from the Montana Artists Refuge, a Full Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. He loves his wife, reading, travel, family, and friends.


Says the Forest to the Girl by Sally Rosen Kindred


By Kristina Gibbs

If you want to be transported back into a land of Once Upon a Times where the magical and the mysterious collide, then delving into Sally Rosen Kindred’s work is for you. Only expect a few darker twists.

In Says the Forest to the Girl, Kindred modernizes popular tales—inserting Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and others—while also restoring them back to their original eerie glory. The results are spellbinding.

Just because Kindred focuses on fairy tales doesn’t make her work irrelevant to the hardships of the 21st century, however. In fact, her poem “Sleeping Beauty Makes Dinner” is a rallying cry for feminists everywhere. In this piece, Kindred cleverly depicts Sleeping Beauty being awakened to the reality of stereotypical gender roles that society impresses upon all people: it is the male who provides the substance of the meal, and the woman who prepares it. The inner turmoil that Sleeping Beauty experiences showcases her unhappily ever after:
           I stir—
or did I ever
wake? Would a princess
be circling this pot,
her hand scarred from sleep’s glass thorns
and feeling the push
of the dark ladle through the broth,
her hair rising to mist in its steam?
I love this heat. Is that right?
It’s all too much like those years
of stained-glass sleep.
Kindred makes the witty analogy between the confines of Beauty’s glass box to the confines of the role she plays as a wife in the kitchen. By circling the pot, the author emphasizes this mundane cycle of gender stereotypes that Beauty is trapped in.
Kindred reawakens childhood nostalgia inside all adults in Says the Forest to the Girl. She laments over lost dreams and feelings of imprisonment. Kindred seeks to reconcile the inner sprightly child trapped within the adult, and illustrate how adults trapped by life’s demands can shatter mandated adult monotony and dream again. She wrestles with this tension between what is and what once was in her opening poem “Women at the Crows’ Funeral”:
The crows won’t ask
what kind of daughter you are—
if your grief remembers wings,
if you wear shoes of iron or shoes of wind
Here the imagery of steel shoes compares to life’s burdens and responsibilities, whereas the “shoes of wind” depict the quick lightheartedness one feels when they dream or have far-fetched hopes. Kindred cleverly uses the shoe motif in fairy tales (like Cinderella’s glass slipper, or hot iron shoes Snow White’s stepmother danced in till she died in the Grimm retelling) to convey this. The narrator mourns with regret, aching for a chance to re-hatch and obtain her happy ending. Kindred interweaves this dichotomy of dreaming verses facing reality throughout the rest of her poems, painting striking images with words to parallel to the bold artwork on her cover. The speckled white forest contrasted with the sharp red background may be gruesome, but it conveys the restlessness and pain of her words held within.

The chapbook itself is seamless. When the poems transition, each theme bleeds over onto the next page; the poems are distinct in voice and syntax, but they all carry ominous scenes and darker elements of nature. There is intent behind every minute detail from the symbols of black birds to the reintroduction of characters throughout the cohesive work.

Kindred’s work is vividly hypnotic. Her brilliant wordsmithing allows for raw statements and glaring images that strike at your emotions. This piece carries a somber tone, a far cry from well-known Disney remakes. After devouring the delightfully grim Says the Forest to the Girl you’ll be “Ravenous” for more.
You can find a copy of her work at https://porkbellypress.com/poetry/says .


Kristina Gibbs is an emerging writer from the hills of Tennessee currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English and minor in Linguistics. She has previously published an interview in an online publication, Speaking of Marvels. When she is not reading or writing, you may find her clambering over both hiking trails and paint brushes.