3 Poems by Gwil James Thomas

pool 2
I was nine years old
sat in the corner of the pub with
my fearless and immortal uncle
with his endless stories and scars –
that ranged from being shot in Bosnia,
to boxing in the military,
to falling down cliffs,
to climbing out of car wrecks
half dead, but also half alive.
There’d been a disagreement earlier
between my uncle and the three men
in the corner, something that
I’d presumed had been settled after
my uncle had beaten them at a game
of killer on the pool table,
but when they threw beermats at us
from across the pub with surprising
accuracy and one hit me in the lip –
I knew that it’d only just begun.
Ruffling my hair, my uncle then
downed his pint and walked outside
with the three of them.
By the time I got to the door and
peered outside one of the men
had disappeared and the other two
were on the floor,
as my now shirtless and bleeding
uncle stood over them and
sure enough, the police arrived –
arrested him and drove me home.
I never once saw any fear in his eyes,
not for that or anything else,
he was my hero, my blood, my uncle –
he taught me that fear was a fucker,
but after he’d escaped a moving car
that was speeding down
a French motorway to survive the fall,
only to be hit by a coach –
I also learnt more about fearlessness
and immortality then than he could
have ever taught me
in his thirty one
years on Earth.
Argentinian Croissant.
So, I try something
flakey but sweet,
familiar yet new –
I still get
even though
you remind me that
we’re just friends
and that’d be fine
except now I’ve
gotta work out
how to be
lonesome again –
a new dawn rises
over the beaches
streets and factories
and nothing lasts
forever and now
I’m thinking that’s
for the better –
I finish my coffee
and take a final
pastry bite
as the sun kisses
your neck,
maybe you’ll
be easier
as a memory –
flakey but sweet,
familiar yet new
so tasty whileit
Poem on The Line.  
I reeled it up
to the surface,
feeling like I’d soon
have a little
meat to feed
some lost souls –
yet when it
onto the deck,
chunks of it
were missing –
its sad mouth
slowly opening
and closing,
as if trying to
missing words,
but it was no use
it wasn’t the poem
I’d imagined –
so I smeared
what was left of its
guts onto this page,
kissed its head
and chucked it
back into the
drying ocean
of my mind,
for another tug
on the line
“Gwil James Thomas is a novelist, poet and inept musician originally from Bristol, England. In 2019 his poetry has been featured in East London Press’ 3 Poets Volume One and his fiction has been published in Low Light Magazine # 2. He also has two forthcoming poetry chapbooks from Concrete Meat Press and Holy & Intoxicated Publications. Other work can be found widely in print and also online. He currently lives in San Sebastián, Northern Spain.”

Tatow by Holly Day

The years of marriage can be counted like lines
dark as any made by a thread-wrapped needle dipped in ink
inflicted with the same grunting force as a thin-lipped woman
with a thorn-tipped stick, is it love that holds you down
or just the restraining weight you can’t shake free?
There are consequences for complaining, for those small, quiet sounds
you think no one can hear in the middle of the night. Those have all been tallied
and when you finally die, your complaints will be
imprinted on your skin in indelible ink for all to see, buried deep inside
the son and daughter who watched your dreams fold in like a wrinkled butterfly
a specimen drawer of dreams pushed down by the end of a pin.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), and Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing).

The System by John D. Robinson

The System
‘The system let me down’
is something I often hear
and it’s true,
systems often break-down
and when this happens
systems, concepts are
nothing more than
theories on how this or
that would operate
just ideas,
like the idea that oil,
gas and water are
‘owned’ by giant
corporations rather than
being the rightful
ownership of the globe’s
but we let ourselves
down as individuals and
collectively, systems,
theories, philosophies
divide and corrupt:
love unites
compassion and
humanity unites
but you won’t find
them in any
aren’t yet
john 3
John D Robinson is a UK poet; hundreds of his poems have appeared in print and online: he has published numerous chapbooks and a full collection of his poetry: ‘Hang In There’ Uncollected Press USA: https://therawartreview.com/books-for-sale/

Obit by Doug Holder

But he was 68 years old.
Only a few years older…
A twinge in his pancreas
dead in three months.
Or he was found on the toilet seat.
Cheap plaid boxers
under an expensive linen suit.
They found him propped in his favorite chair
in front of the TV
Archie Bunker said “Ah, Jeez”
and he was gone.
They were known for their kindness
but what a world we would have had.
These men and women
proud of their service
survived by many
as if it was an accomplishment
a son in Cleveland
a daughter in Dallas.
They were just a few years older
the black and white
post office face
that stares
at me
as a matter
of fact.
Doug Holder teaches English at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.. He is the founder of the Ibbetson Street Press, and is the arts/editor for The Somerville Times. His latest book of verse is ” Last Night at the Wursthaus”  ( Grey Sparrow Press)  He recently collaborated on a play with playwright Lawrence Kessenich  “The Patient,” which had a staged reading at Playwright’s Platform in Boston. Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene

2 Poems by Robin Ray

Ain’t I A Woman?
I sell the shadow to support the substance,
suppressed souls of our kidnapped ancestors
trapped in the galleys of rat-infested ships,
auctioned in markets, whipped in plantations
thousands of miles from home. I stand beside
smelly cattle, both of us up for grabs, no one
seeing the legion of dignities stitched to the
hem of my simple cotton dress. Where to turn
that I can’t be found, these cursed blisters
given time to heal? I close my eyes, wish my
skin was calf leather, but I’d surrender the touch
of a loving, honest man. Should I conspire
against this trade-off? I watch my children float
like embers in the sky, reach for them with
withered hands. Some I snag between forefinger
and thumb. Some I won’t see again. What’s left
to do but nurture, abolish, lead, represent, speak,
pave paths to a better world. My brothers and
sisters will stand with me; we are all roots of the
same stem. I believe this can be done. My name
is Sojourner Truth. Ain’t I a woman?
* “I sell the shadow to support the substance,” is the caption beneath a photo of Sojourner Truth from 1870.
Again With This ‘New Day’ Business
Toll house enclave, opulent homes, a street where
mummies live, mommies silently die choking on
eclairs meant for royalty, sporting boots in need
of shine. Languor settles like dust. Josephine, her
passé husband roughing it corporate-style, eyes
new thrills from greasy tire mechanics and
back-braced stock boys with ten-syllable surnames.
SUV fails to excite like it used to. Pinball arcade
across town suffices, interrupts tea parties, café
excursions at noon, boutique mall engagements.
An accelerant to the tedium sounds about right. She
used to harbor disdain for the dawn, now downright
despises roosters, whippoorwills, winds whipping
cacophony through cinquefoil shrubs and linden
treetops. Even the freshly-brewed cappuccino tastes
like arsenic which, in all reality, she hopes it is.
Robin Ray is the author of Wetland and Other Stories (All Things That Matter Press, 2013), Obey the Darkness: Horror Stories, the novels Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven and Commoner the Vagabond, and one book of non-fiction, You Can’t Sleep Here: A Clown’s Guide to Surviving Homelessness. His works have appeared, or is appearing, in Red Fez, Jerry Jazz Musician, Underwood Press, Scarlet Leaf Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Spark, Aphelion, Bewildering Stories, Picaroon Poetry, The Bangalore Review, The Magnolia Review, Vita Brevis, and elsewhere. http://seattlewordsmith.wordpress.com/

i was the night by Jonathan Hine

i was in the night
in the calm of
vaporous street lights
gliding down the whorl of febonacci petals
i wandered then, my eyes to
the tired old streets joined with the neon
in her hair in the alley into the night, laughing
she was before me
and i seemed to see the fairly radiant
outline who once across my
distant dreams of childhood passed letting
her unclasped hands
open torrents of falling stars
rain down in a
sea of gentle fire
Jonathan Hine has been sporadically published in the underground lit. scene over the years. His work has recently appeared in Dissident Voice, Academy of the Heart and Mind, Under the Bleachers, Duane’s PoeTree and Horror Sleaze Trash. He has forthcoming poetry in Cajun Mutt Press.

Lights of Gatlinburg by Greg Scheiber

Lights of Gatlinburg
Somewhere below me,
Someone is laughing—
Someone is having a beer or tea
And reclining under a slanted roof.
Somewhere down there,
In the valley—
Someone is fading in front of a TV
Or walking an artificially lit street
Looking for something or someone,
Soul-searching on zombied,
Touristed streets long past hiker-midnight,
Taking advantage
Of the young,
If not youthful night.
Many people are making love,
I am sure,
‘Neath those tiny bulbs,
So far by feet,
So close by night—
Flittering like false gems
On costume jewelry.
They count like stars,
A cloudy Milky Way
Across Tennessee—the universe below
Mimicking the universe above,
Clinging to the heels
Of us ridgewalkers like satellites in orbit,
Searching for a signal
In the wind from somewhere.
Greg Scheiber is currently pursuing his MFA in poetry at Eastern Washington University.  His work has previously appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Oddball, and Nomadic Journal.