Stargrass, Violets by Barbara Daniels

star vio
Stargrass, Violets
My sister finds a blue
high-heeled shoe
and a red one, both
for a small left foot.
Weeds overwintered
in faded rosettes. Stalks
begin to rise from them.
Daffodils thrive,
a yellow religion.
New buds proffer
themselves like eyes.
We sit down in stargrass
and violets, our shadows
obscured by greater shadows.
A ragged
cloud, small
as a hand, slips
toward the east.
The doctor says my sister’s not
dying. Not now. Not yet.
Blown newspapers
soar like wings.
One pond gleams turquoise.
Another gives back the scarlet sunset.
In the darkness a throne
of stars slides
to the far horizon
moving toward
God’s wide-open eye.
Barbara Daniels’s Talk to the Lioness was published by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press in 2020. Her poetry has appeared in Lake Effect, Cleaver, Faultline, Small Orange, Meridian, and elsewhere. Barbara Daniels received a 2020 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.


Birthday by Rustin Larson

Starts with the basement guy arriving
to look it over: cement
flooring in new states of upheaval,
a mysterious moon-glow vine sprouting
from a crack in the floor’s center,
auras of many disturbed
bodiless entities, walls leaking
and crumbling, mausoleum
of disinterred gloom, the basement does
not pass.
So the next thing I do is hide.
I’m taking a week off from work
and all they do is send whiny
emails about how hard it is to be
understaffed. The guy next door
is petulant because I won’t hire him
to trim my bushes. He sits shirtless,
condor wings tattooed on his chest
and arms, his breath reeking
of whiskey and vomit and cigarettes
and mumbled threats about shooting holes
in my roof.
“Tighter than a drum” is the country song
I write, strumming on my cheap electric.
Friends send me photographs
of fictional moon settlers
and their dangerous robots. Wrens flicker
innocently under the rain spout.
Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and North American Review. He won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino and was a prize winner in The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation contests. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival, and a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top Festival.

When my dad created god by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella

When my dad created god
“I am Synergy. I am no more or no less.” – Synergy; Jem & the Holograms, 1985.
When my dad created god
she was purple-haired in
a jumpsuit, leg warmers,
with the voice of my dead mother.
Her eyes obsidian like the volcanic glass they kept on a dresser
from their honeymoon a lifetime before she got sick.
Mothers have eyes everywhere and God is all-seeing.
I’d only known of Mary as a mentor in the absence of light,
forced into maternity, a kid becoming a mom to all,
and when my dad abandoned us
my sisters and I were forced to find money to keep us together,
our struggles shielded from the eyes of the divine.
We moved our lips in prayers that our hearts didn’t hold.
The day my younger sister found the god that dad created
our faces had dimmed:
sagging cheeks where apples had lived were the dirges
composed from a life once loud with music.
God was revealed as a surrogate mother, ally, and mentor;
when she sings through me it’s the songs of my actual mom.
But her melodies are pointillism and pixelated.
When my dad created god he made her just close to comforting.
But no one asked me if I wanted to be a holy host,
both a kid and a mother, so
God uses words from a man that I barely remember
to convince me to operate her, a technological miracle, a modern-day deity,
to save the souls of my family.
God tells me that my body was made for this,
to be moved through like a spirit,
insubstantially a proxy for a long-gone actual mom,
just like how she was made for this.
And she tells me that our union is, and will continue to be, synergy.
Jane-Rebecca Cannarella (she/her) is a writer and editor living in Philadelphia. She is the editor of HOOT Review and Meow Meow Pow Pow Lit, and a former genre editor at Lunch Ticket. She’s the author of Better Bones and Marrow, both published by Thirty West Publishing House, The Guessing Game published by BA Press, and Thirst and Frost forthcoming from Vegetarian Alcoholic Press.

Justice and Freedom by Roxanne Thibault

Justice And Freedom
You have hung my brothers,
And raped my sisters,
In broken dreams I cry for them,
Grinning devil looking on,
Sharpens tooth and claw upon the innocent,
Blazing eyes of fire turn to ash,
The bodies of the proud,
The brave,
Our pleading quenching your thirst,
Oh devil,
But a day will come,
When brave and proud,
And those who hunger for justice and freedom,
Will rain upon you,
A fierce storm,
In which our blood and tears,
Will drown the fire of your hate.
Roxanne Thibault has been published by Disquietarts, Levitate and Chiron Review. She draws her inspiration from the Cypriot shores that birthed Idalia.

Brine Shrimp by Robert Beveridge

IMG_1994 (2)
Brine Shrimp 
You know this process
because you’ve been here
before, we’ve all been
here before, but somehow
it never gets any easier
to sit there at the table
with the same deli tray
your creepy uncle Nick
always brings to the family
reunion and pick out all
the pieces of Swiss to build
a sandwich with while
in the other room her two
surviving high school
friends from seventy-two
years ago compliment
the funeral director’s eye
for make-up. You think
perhaps it’s time to try
the horseradish cheddar
and maybe ask Old Nick
if there’s anything left
in that flask no one
is supposed to know about
but everyone does.
Robert Beveridge (he/him) makes noise (www.xterminal.bandcamp.com ) and writes poetry in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Page and Spine, The Pointed Circle, and Failed Haiku, among others.

Zipolite by Lorraine Caputo

Zipolite by Lorraine Caputo 
What is it with this place?
Why has it awakened my inner voice –
even before I arrived? …
This Place of the Dead …
Why do I feel quiet?
Why do I want
to quiet my Self
to the world of man around
to listen to the World of Mother?
All I hear
is the thundering surf
All I see
is the ocean
churning white, ripping the beach
carrying sand towards the far horizon
churning, ripping around
the cragged heaps of rock ….
My eyes
follow the butterflies among the triangular-box
spine-scalloped stems of cactus trees
My eyes
follow the cats among the drying scrub brush
My eyes
follow the slow passing naval ship
on this side of the horizon
My eyes
follow the nude bathers wading into that
churning, ripping ocean
I am hoping this Place of the Dead
won’t claim another
I am wondering why the hell
they enter those deadly waters
My mind answers:
An iguana
appears on the stone wall below
then disappears over the edge
A buzzard
flies high from the cliffs above the sea
its wide black zopilote wings
cast a shadow below
I wonder at
the force of these waves
the conflicting currents
ripping them apart, making them
slam into one another
I wonder at
my stillness in the face
in the place of death
– Zipolite
Zipolite –
The sea here is
Xonaxi Queculla
the destroyer
the goddess of Death
I watch her wild dance of the waves
I hear her wild angry, thundering voice
O, Mother Xonaxi Queculla
I shall respect your strength, your force here
I only ask
that you wash my feet, my ankles
with your warm, salty waters
Please, Mother Xonaxi Queculla
touch me gently, caress me
– Zipolite
Zipolite –
Even at the Bay of Love
upon the ancient humped volcanic flows
the waves rise, leaping over the rocks
towards the heavens
I wonder
how many forgotten lovers
have walked into these blue-green waters
foaming at the mouth of this bay
crushed upon the ragged rocks
tossed, pulled, ripped by the currents
flying towards the heavens
on the great white leaps of waves
salt spray falling, falling upon the crags
back into the sea
I found
the sole of a woman’s once-spike-heeled shoe
washed up on the rocks, lying amongst
the bleached shatters of shells
– Zipolite
… Zipolite …
Wandering troubadour Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in 18 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful companion, Rocinante (that is, her knapsack), listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer  or https://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com

Cantata by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright

Cantata by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright
Drought robs the sycamores, plucking
leaves in June. A breeze pushes them
into a swarm of withered pages
rasping anxiously across the court.
Then stillness. They die back down.
Invisible forces carry us along.
I am a prisoner of hope.
A congress of loneliness. A dry tear.
An old motor sputters before purring.
Empty boxcars couple with a boom.
Copying Ovid’s playbook, I hold out
for change. Home is made of wings.
Thunder clears its throat but won’t sing.
The goal in life is joy. Today sun reigns.
Jeffrey Cyphers Wright is a publisher, critic, eco-activist, and artist.He is best known as a poet and the author of 15 books of verse, including most recently Blue Lyre from Dos Madres Press. He has an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College where he studied with Allen Ginsberg and also taught. Recent poetry is included in New American Writing, 2017. For many years, Wright ran Cover Magazine, The Underground National. Currently, Wright stages events showcasing artists and writers at KGB Lit Bar and La MaMa ETC in NYC, in conjunction with his art and poetry journal, Live Mag! He regularly contributes to American Book Review. Wright is a Kathy Acker Award recipient for 2018.

The Influence of Art and War by Ian C. Smith

The Influence of Art and War by Ian C. Smith
In my school’s foyer we marched in below Frans Hals’ Laughing Cavalier.  Thinking he was English, not Dutch, I liked the word Cavalier, and that he found life so amusing.  When I read about the Civil War I wanted the Cavaliers to win.  Who would want to be called a Roundhead?  These pragmatists obviously held no clue to stylish words’ effect, both terms meant as abuse.  I read about this earlier war soon after another war’s end, a war that prevented me from knowing my young uncles, which I resented.  A coke heap, out of bounds, abutted the school fence.  When our football landed on its heights, defied gravity, I risked the crunching charge uphill to retrieve it in that coal tar tang of icy air, imagining I were a gallant marine like my dead uncles.  If I bore an ensign I would have planted it triumphantly, uncaring of avalanche’s likelihood.  I fancied facial hair when I grew up, adding swash to my buckle.  Always skirmishing, a show-off, I smirked cavalierly at authority, costly battles, the hue and cry of years ahead camouflaged by time but for premonition like the tell-tale glinting of sunlight on a sword’s polished blade lying in wait.
Ian C Smith’s work has been published in Antipodes, BBC Radio 4 Sounds, cordite, The Dalhousie Review, Griffith Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Southword, & The Stony Thursday Book.  His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide).  He writes in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, and on Flinders Island.

Today by Lou Gallo

Today by Lou Gallo
I stand beside the Forester between
its door and interior as I wait for my daughters
to return from inside the pharmacy
where they will be administered their second doses
of vaccine.
We had broken out the old iPod and at this moment
Aerosmith’s “Walking in the Sand” blasts from the speakers.
What ever happened to that girl that I once knew . . .
To my right across the street a chaos of buzzards
tears into the flesh of a dead groundhog
as church gongs from the steeple to my left,
the sinister path, resound,
rippling the very air and drowning out
all other sounds in the neighborhood. The buzzards
couldn’t care less and seem to be dancing
to a song I once uploaded onto my iPod
as they finish off the remains of the rodent
that has now practically disappeared
as if had never existed, as if had never lived.
Something both profane and holy
here at once—
A vulture Eucharist . . . take and eat.
When we’re done we take a spin up Prospect
to gaze at the house where Cat and I once lived
before we married
                seems like the other day
before the girls were born, before now.
I thought it important to show the house to them
although I cannot explain why.
A bit of history here, a bit there,
the way things vanish and yet remain.
How we devour the entrails of the past.
LJG (2)
Four volumes of Louis Gallo’s poetry, Archaeology, Scherzo Furiant, Crash and Clearing the Attic, are now available. Why is there Something Rather than Nothing? and Leeway & Advent will be published soon.  His work appears in Best Short Fiction 2020. A novella, “The Art Deco Lung,” will soon be published in Storylandia.  He is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction.  He teaches at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.