Celestial Elbow by D.R. James

Celestial Elbow
The sky wore the regalia of flames but
turned lavender-violet quietude
in a moment’s romance. And the breeze, how
it finessed everything and cradled me.
Awakened by the dazzle, I reposed—
riveted, infused, imbued by satin.
Gift after gift from ginger tongues, then glow
audible like visions. It was never
a coddling. The nod from the heavens
judged some memories mere indulgence—and grudge.
D. R. James’s latest of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres, 2017), and his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at Origami Poems Project. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan.

Pages Come and Go By Carla Sarett

Pages Come and Go
Joyfully broke, I enter
The Frick, frayed Rimbaud
in hand. I leave a man I wouldn’t
call a lover for my mannerist
Sunday appointment. I can’t
resist Bronzino’s portrait,
Ludovico Capponi.
That small head, hooded lids,
witchy green eyes asymmetric. 
The right eye strays
with youth’s erotic chill,
worthy of Rimbaud.
The boyish mouth sulks,
bored as September
Vogue’s cover model.
Maybe he’s lost favor
with the Florentine court.
Pages come and go.
His sort of beauty gets
roughed up in women’s laps.
That risqué codpiece, small defense 
against commonplace loss.
My brother wore my Victorian
ruby, with crushed red velvet.
If he saw Bronzino’s work,
he’d love the violence of the green,
the sheen of brocades, stark
contrast of black and white.
As for boredom, he’d ignore it.
I wish Bronzino could have painted
my brother, but I’m glad he caught
Ludovico just before life started
to make sense or wear him down.
He was perfect as falling rain.
Carla Sarett’s recent work appears in San Pedro River Review, Words and Whispers, The Virginia Normal and elsewhere.  Her essays have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best American Essays.  Her novella, The Looking Glass, will be published in October (Propertius Press), and A Closet Feminist, a full-length novel, will be published in 2022 (Unsolicited Press.) Carla lives in San Francisco.


A first step in a strange dance By Arlyn LaBelle

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A first step in a strange dance
I jitter open the window, air mixing in a surge,
some of the song I hummed yesterday thinning
by the birds, thrumming like loose guitar strings,
and then this is death, the exhale, the bleed,
an insult, like I didn’t know.
But it is kind, that I will
mingle with the grass below
one day. That after
all by breathing I will grow.
So I do not close the window in disgust
First impulse
So I leave it open.
Arlyn LaBelle is a queer poet and writer living in Austin, Texas. Their work has appeared in the Badgerdog summer anthologies as well as  North of Oxford, The Oddville Press, Songs of Eretz, Grey Sparrow Press, Cease, Cows, Panoply Zine and The Southern Poetry Review. Their premiere book of poetry, Measurable Terms, is available through The Main Street Rag. You can find more of them and their work at www.arlynlabelle.com

Impressions By Douglas Cole

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vicious end of the cove,
black rock and broken trees
tough green seaweed
muscles and hard barnacles
everything picks a spot
to survive
no more transmissions
cell tower whistling silent
over Mount Constitution
I am gathering firewood
someone’s shadow bends
in the oyster garden
sun low over the hills
green black forest dipping
its limbs into the sea
the seagull rises and lets go
the clam falls and shatters on a rock
the gull descends and feeds
centuries of this design
from here all you can see are trees
nothing of the shape of the land
but if you run               then
through the gaps you see everything
oyster gardener banging sand from his traps
sounds like a slow drum or the faltering
heartbeat of the earth
warm sunlight
a father and son walking
down by the edge of the water
I was once both of them
a little kid with a stick
on the beach beating a rock
digging a hole
writing his name in the sand
wind braids the water surface
and cloud palisades look permanent
how many ways we misuse the word
like death and sunrise
from what I see
through these narrow eyes
the ragged sleeve of care
dark night oblivion home everywhere
smoke assembling and torn
and without a flicker of a doubt
accept the moment you are born
the innkeeper says a ghost stole her lunch
in a split second when she wasn’t looking
the cleaning staff say they see Emma
she’s the second from the right
in the photograph next to the bay window
and from the shadowless chair on deck
I leap from a cold passing still life
with a head cloud of unknowing
Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry, a novella, and The White Field, a novel. His work has appeared in several anthologies as well as The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Bitter Oleander, Louisiana Literature and Slipstream. He received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. He lives and teaches in Seattle. His website is www.douglastcole.com/


Just A Thought by Frank Wilson


Arrest of Jesus” by the Master of the Karlsruhe Passion

Just A Thought
Out of the blackest blue a terror seized
His soul. A thought had swiftly crossed his mind:
The Savior’s torturers had likely been
Just guys like him, who afterward enjoyed
A drink and laughs. The terror that embraced
His soul, he feared, is what that night informed
Gethsemane, far worse perhaps than thorns
And nails and scourging: Evil’s commonness.
Frank Wilson is a poet from Philadelphia. He is the retired books editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and blogs at Books, Inq. — The Epilogue

Persimmons Remind Me to Love by Kit Kennedy

Persimmons Remind Me to Love
Don’t be fooled this doesn’t begin
with persimmons.  Begins with
intention, tool, experience, desire
to feed.  First a knife then wooden
salad spoons in the shape of right
and left hands.  A pair for stirring
and serving.  Remove calyx.  Pare.
Slice.  Breathe deeply for here is where
everything gets personal.  Notice the star
motif at the fruit’s center.  You are about
to serve those you love not simply the seasonal
but a slice of the Milky Way.  Here’s where I
get confused.  Who do I credit?  Is it Hafiz
or Van Gogh who shows me the way
to go love-mad into the stars?
Kit Kennedy is a queer elder living in Walnut Creek, CA.  She has published 6 collections including while eating oysters (CL WR Bks, Brooklyn, NY).  Work has appeared in Great Weather for Media, Pedestal Magazine, First Literary Review – East, Gyroscope, Tipton Poetry Review, Glass, California Quarterly, Otoliths, among others.  Kit blogs at www.poetrybites.blogspot.com

Dream Train by Mike Reis

Dream Train
The known-by-bloodstories grandfather,
Who spent without qualm in Manhattan.
The known-by-heavyhearts grandmother,
Opposed to hugs and “hoi polloi.”
And the known-by-no-one-no-more,
Hopeful Hessian turned leather purveyor to planters.
My dream train debarks these worn-out people
To loiter with intent by tattered baggage,
To knowingly hiss: Know us
Or you will never know yourself.
Mike Reis grew up in Baltimore and taught GED to adult students for a year at Centro Loyola in Philadelphia. Reis has had poems published in Gargoyle, Lucille, Urthkin, The Archer, Laughing Bear, Unicorn, WXPN Express, the Amelia poetry postcard series, and Cabin Fever, the anthology of the Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Series.

Another Life by Abriana Jette

Another Life
I met him before the wild of the present
another life entirely
(each century our story widening)
I dreamt it might have happened
grew frightened at the untold unraveling
felt the ocean sweep my body
bone by bone to dust wept quietly
woke up another person entirely
leaving a dozen centuries widening
behind me the wild present
and in every retrospection
in every life I have been divided in
beyond the confines of this body
though still a bodily calling
his voice in every version
The poetry of Abriana Jette has been featured in The Seneca Review, PLUME Poetry Journal, Poetry New Zealand and many other places.

A Familiar Street, Unknown by Brian Rihlmann

A Familiar Street, Unknown
Sometime, walk a street
you’ve only driven before,
maybe on your way
back and forth to work.
Overlook nothing—
notice every pothole and sidewalk crack.
Notice people’s yards—
their statues and symbols,
and whether they grow grass or vegetables,
or weeds, or nothing.
And notice the people, too—
do they smile and wave, or at least nod,
or just look away?
Notice how easily the roots
of trees shatter curbs,
driveways, and all our plans.
Notice how easily their flesh
absorbs the rusty spikes of a barbwire fence.
Notice what gathers curbside
and in drainage ditches.
You may find rare flowers
among road grit and broken bottles,
growing from piles of dead seeds.
You may find a still glowing ember,
and something to fan it with.
You may find a memorial
with candles burned down
to shapeless lumps and a child’s note
scrawled in purple crayon—
We miss you Daddy.
Read everything you see,
everything you find on the ground.
Read graffiti and street signs.
Read the chalked messages
of neighborhood children.
Discarded paperbacks and high school essays.
Arrest warrants, medical reports,
missing person flyers.
A gospel tract flapping in the gutter
like a wounded dove.
A crumpled love letter—
unwrap it carefully as a gift
and read the words that failed
to sway a too human heart.
Brian Rihlmann lives and writes in Reno, Nevada. His poetry has appeared in many magazines, including The Rye Whiskey Review, Fearless, Heroin Love Songs, Chiron Review and The Main Street Rag. His latest collection, “Night At My Throat,” (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press.