poetry

At Night by Lisa Mottolo

hummer_InTheLight
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At Night
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I had a round, wooden keepsake box in which I’d smudge

                                                                                             out my cigarettes

and if it they weren’t burned quite down to the filter

                                                               I’d retrieve them from the ash

and smoke them again

This way I’d have something left to calm me

                                                                     when there were men outside

my bedroom window like hummingbirds that think

                                                                      everything pretty is a flower

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lisa

Lisa is a life-long writer and the Project Manager for Atmosphere Press. She studied copyediting at UC San Diego, and her writing has been published in Barren Magazine and Coffin Bell Journal. Lisa is from upstate New York and currently lives in Austin, Texas. She loves birds and has four adopted parrots at home.

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Funeral in the Rain by John Grey

rain
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Funeral in the Rain
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warm rain,
cold blood
.
the women have kissed
all the cheeks they’re ever
going to kiss
.
the men have waked
until they can barely wake
no more
.
funeral rolls by
sacred haunts –
sad faces press to glass
stare out at the living
as they pass on by
.
rosewood coffin
carries him off –
among the mourners,
fingers grip like
claws in flesh
.
preacher stands amid
the wildflowers,
tries to convince
those present
that the deceased
has never been so far
beyond darkness
trees shake,
leaves tremble,
all out of respect
for raindrops
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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sin Fronteras, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming in West Trade Review, Willard and Maple and Connecticut River
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Sitting on the Porch With Mom by Catherine A. Coundjeris

goldfinch
Photograph by Diane Sahms
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Sitting on the Porch with Mom
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We sit in the sunroom,
admiring the green world
with song birds flitting by. . .
She is fair today.
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Cooler weather comes
again, we sit in the sunroom.
Dark green changing to gold
maples red
green grass browning
autumnal skies
cat on the porch
making eyes at Mom.
Silent and still we sit some more.
.
She is not herself
and in a thoughtful fancy
 I can see us
changing space
years ahead I will be in her place
tied down to a chair
watching the mountain
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But for now, she is
passing time with me
yet another day gone.
Winds stirring
hair raising
spirits flying…
.
Electricity in the air.
She speaks,
I love you
and then we sit still,
watching the mountain
change and yet remain the same.
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Catherine has taught writing at Emerson College and ESL writing at Urban College in Boston.  Her poetry is published in literary magazines, including 34th Parallel Magazine Ariel Chart Magazine, The Drabble, Nightingale and Sparrow, Rune Bear, Backchannels, Inkling Magazine of the Storyteller’s Cottage, Finding the Birds, Yellow Arrow Journal, The Dawntreader, Visions with Voices, and Nine Cloud Journal.  Currently she is living with her family in Frederick and she is working on a YA novel. Catherine volunteers as an ESL Coordinator with the Literacy Council of Frederick County.

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Three Poems by Steven Croft

forrest road
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Memory of the Great-Aunts’ House,
Okefenokee, Georgia
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After endless forest, dirt roads, I raise my chin
of five years above the dashboard, my grandfather
calling on one leg, his door opened, car running,
and a lady who’d moved so swift on a porch – a
two-story, unpainted wood plank house – bends
to put the barrel of a pointed shotgun down,
waves, says, “C’mon Son!”
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Dizzy from the disappearance of people: their
houses, cars, paved roads, I see beyond the yard’s
garden a dark woods of pine and bald cypress,
feel a fear of what’s unfamiliar.  Soon there’s
the gray washtub on a stand on the railed porch,
snuff-smell of the tea glass against my lips,
wood stove, my grandfather’s kind refusal
of cooked greens, the kerosene lamp lighted
.
As early evening shadows grow in the curtains,
the story of the death of the two aunts’ companion,
one pointing a thin finger at a quilt-covered bed,
framed by a doorway — how after days of silence
he shook fists and sang out, how they took him
to the old family graveyard.  And my relief of going
from this house with the bed where a man died,
wanting my grandfather to drive away quickly
from the odd place of shadows and buried bones.
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A Farm Wife Contemplates Mortality
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The quiet grows deeper.
Bats flit in fading dusk.  She thinks
again of that place we have never seen
or else forgotten. She misses the weight
of a weary man settling in beside her
to the creak of the porch swing’s chains.
She looks out past all the years
at the old tobacco barn as patterns
of stars gradually settle in above it.
She remembers happier years,
the two of them stripping tobacco,
her settling in to the rhythm of the man
beside her, the routine of long hours,
the happiness in the success of work.
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But those two are ghosts now, like
the trellis of pole beans, the stalks
of tomatoes she can barely make out
in the yard beyond the porch, shades
disappearing in growing dark.  In the static
hum of katydids and crickets she sings
a reedy lullaby for the daughter they lost
and wants to see them both again.  But
nobody tumbles through the universe
from here, unless, like the cow that was struck
by lightning, God suddenly comes for them.
Like her husband she found one hot day
in the cab of the rumbling tractor, his overalls
cold with sweat, his rough hands immobile.
.
So she sings here softly every night beside
barren fields, will sing here until God
comes for her and they sew up her mouth
for burial, until, finally, she tumbles
through the universe to the other side
of this night’s sky.
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Stopping to Witness in Rush to Our Attack Rally Point
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In war there’s always the chance of falling
.
onto a concrete pad in front of a camp’s small
troop medical clinic — like the eight soldiers
who faced down a car bomber’s dart at the gate,
before the flower of his explosion rocked everyone
in camp out of what they were doing.
.
I pause to watch the stretchers set down
in a line, watch the PA and his medics carefully
lift helmets, rip loose velcro of Kevlar body armor,
hands pressing stethoscopes to chests, abdomens,
ignoring shrapnel lodged in arms, in bloody legs
I see beyond the dirty tread of boot-bottoms —
I’m held here.  I know these soldiers.
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In war sometimes there is the chance of rising
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in a stretcher, leaving a brown-dust snow angel
in a wash of blood on a concrete pad, taken
one by one into the TMC — I won’t see the ER
bustle beyond the single door, but weeks later
I will ask my friend how he feels and see the light
of his smile before a cloud of memory hides it,
as he tells long details of recovery, how he first
woke in the hospital at Bagram, a nurse saying
“You must be hungry.”
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Steven Croft-1
An Army veteran, Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation.  He has published two chapbooks, Coastal Scenes and Moment and Time, and has recent work in Willawaw Journal, Sky Island Journal, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, Third Wednesday, Red Eft Review, San Pedro River Review, Poets Reading the News, Gyroscope Review, and other places.
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Wild Onions by paul Bluestein

wild onions
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Wild Onions
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Spring came and, as they always do,
the wild onions
 poked their miserable shoelace shoots
up out of the ground.
Like rude subway riders,
they crowd in close
to my young, delicate flowers,
trying to push them aside
as if they owned the ground in which they grew.
They may not think of themselves as weeds,
but weeds is what they are.
Oh, some people would say
wild onions are vegetables,
like parsnips or beets,
but I say they are weeds
and they will find no comfort in my garden.
I will unsheathe my spade and stainless steel claw
and do battle with the April invaders;
root them out wherever I find them
and let them serve as a lesson
to mint that might be thinking of
becoming delinquent,
wild and uncontrollable.
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Ireland
paul Bluestein is a  physician (no longer practicing) and a blues guitar player (still practicing). he was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia, a short walk from the Oxford Circle. He currently lives in Connecticut with his wife and the two dogs who rescued him. His poetry has appeared in many online and print journals and his first book-length collection  – Time Passages – was published earlier this year by Silver Bow Publishing in Kindle and soft-cover formats.

Two Poems by Judy DeCroce

darkening-sky
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We Keep the Words
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will we forget the darkening summer—
   praise its many colors
.
and mumble a prayer
but
regret means nothing to nature
.
what unnecessary words should we say
as the tree comes down
.
fingers once brushing sky
the grasses holding flush
.
its fullness gone
the green arch only scant left
.
perhaps—the word is
   Amen.
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Empty Spaces
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understanding in one single push how it goes
eyes into fog                fog into bones
.
empty spaces choose stories
when there is wind, whisper, or thunder
.
conversations drift up
and you listen keenly to a crew dead 30 years
and the cadence blowing below and above the waves
while the ocean only sighs
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Judy-DeCroce-portrait-small-size
Judy DeCroce, is an educator, poet/flash fiction writer and avid reader whose works have been published by Plato’s Cave online, Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, Tigershark Publishing, The BeZine and many others. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops in flash fiction. Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.
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Howard Beach: Queens, NY by Doug Holder

doug
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Howard Beach: Queens, NY
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Uncle Marty.
eating chickpeas from the strainer
greets me in a t-shirt and underwear
his 90-year-old mother
in her corner
in disrepair.
.
“I got no regrets,” he said,   “I’ve seen it all,
 I’ve seen Bobby Thompson hit that ball.”
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His mother says through her toothless smile:
“He was always good with maps
that’s what they said,
he always had maps
in his head
that’s what they said.”
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Marty scratches his crotch
takes another shot
of the cheap scotch.
.
Marty despises the family barbecues
wears a polyester suit to the beach
often spits
and has a toothpick
in his teeth.
.
“Yeah,” he said to me,
as he glances out to the sea
“Yeah I seen it all,
I was there
when Bobby Thompson hit
that ball.”
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**** One of the most famous moments in baseball history, Bobby Thomson’s pennant-winning 1951 blast for the Giants….
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doug
Doug Holder is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press. His work has appeared in Rattle,  sPoKe, Harvard Mosiac, The Boston Globe, Artword Quarterly, Hazmat Review, Word Riot and elsewhere. Holder has a new collection of poetry due out this summer from Big Table Books, ” The Essential Doug Holder.”  The “Doug Holder Papers Collection” is being processed at the University at Buffalo.
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Strands by Michael A. Griffith

spider 1
Photograph by Diane Sahms
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Strands
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Why deny the obvious necessity for memory?
              l  Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima Mon Amour
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Walked through her spider’s web
on my way to take in the sun.
The silkhair strands stick to my skin,
eerie tracings of where her fingers
once slid.
.
As the sun bakes my flesh.
I feel the strands melting into me,
phantom limbs of amputated desire.
.
I should move to the healing shade.
(That coolness beckons.)
.
But baking, simmering in her strands seems
somehow more enticing, more satisfying,
than that soothing shade
I see
inching away.
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Griffith Photo
Michael A. Griffith teaches at Raritan Valley and Mercer County Community Colleges in central NJ. He is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, Bloodline, Exposed, and the forthcoming New Paths to Eden. Recent works appear in Ariel Chart, Miletus Literature Review, Ramingo’s Porch, and U.S. 1 Worksheets. Mike lives near Princeton, NJ.
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Leave Meeting by Bruce E. Whitacre

brick
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Leave Meeting
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One of my professor friends posted a screenshot of his seminar,
the one he conducts for good students at a good school.
I can see you there, center row, third from left.
My friend is in the little box next to you.
The famous guest author is the lower right corner.
Wish I could have been on that game show.
.
If you’re here it means you made it,
that you’re not in permanent couch-surfing mode,
that you stopped drinking after those black outs,
that you don’t have a glove compartment rattling
with glass pipes and lighters,
that you kept a waitress job long enough to pay
a bit of rent and what it takes to join
this array of the bright and the bored.
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So many of these students have the same white bookshelves
every influencer sits before these days.
Would they have the same books I read to you,
the ones you threw across the room
when the letters wouldn’t stop dancing,
and that you had to read all over again the next year?
Would the sleeves of that hoody cover your tracks?
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This is what I always hoped for you:
to know that not every brick building is a courthouse, or a jail;
not every group is a gang.
Even in this checkerboard you can almost read these lives—
the texts firing off off-line to the BFFs,
the renegotiations with OK, Boomer over
the unexpected homecoming.
You’ve been there, too.
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If only you could have learned that not every grown man wants
something from you that takes the light out of your eyes,
the light I see in theirs, box by box,
the light I would see in your eyes
if only they would open in time.
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bruce
His work has appeared in Cagibi, HIV Here and Now by Indolent Books, North of Oxford, Poets Wear Prada, and World Literature Today.  He has been a featured poetry reader at the Forest Hills Public Library. He has read his work at Poets House, the Zen Mountain Monastery Buddhist Poetry Festival, Kew Willow Books, Lunar Walk, and other venues.  He completed master workshops with Jericho Brown, Alex Dimitrov, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Mark Wunderlich.   He holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is an activist and advocate for the arts and social justice.  He lives in Forest Hills, Queens.
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