The Daughter Who Tends to Her Mother by  John Grey   

The Daughter Who Tends to Her Mother   
I cook her favorite turnip,
boil her tea, butter her toast –
it’s been like this seemingly forever,
just the two of us, from morning to evening –
I would plan my escape
but I have no place to go.
I soap her slowly, garnish her meals,
massage her shoulders,
lay beside her to listen for breathing.
I have just touched my own nerve –
all that scrubbing, the attempt to be tender
but with a sour taste in my mouth
of all I am missing out on,
with afternoons in sunlit rooms,
making sure she takes her medicine,
no longer mother and daughter
but two old cow elephants
with sagging breasts, faces drying, wrinkling,
hands rheumatic, our skins so alike
that could easily fold around the one body.
My burden is that I am the one person she can trust,
not my other sisters with their family rituals,
not my father, buried once again every time she sighs.
I am the subject of her bad humor,
her fickle taste in friends.
The weather is my fault
as is the temperature of the bathwater,
the severity of her migraines.
Mostly we sit in silence.
She examines the bruises on her legs.
I will inherit them some day.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Leaves On Pages” “Memory Outside The Head” and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and International Poetry Review.

Better Than Streaming John Dorroh

Better Than Streaming
My dreams are everywhere – in the drinking glass
that I keep beside my bed, stuffed in bedroom slippers
somewhere in another room, below the house in the bowels
of the kitchen plumbing. They most often taste like blackberry jam,
fresh and seedy with the perfect amount of acid.
They’re never powered by magic or anything difficult
to calculate. They fit in small spaces but loom large
in my head. Sometimes they make me dance on the dresser
across from my grandma’s bed. Other times they make me
speak French and bake baguettes in the wee hours. I don’t
know their names or where they live or where they belong.
I stick my hands out of a moving car and pluck them
into my blood. I often string them on a clothesline
for everyone to see.
John Dorroh poems have appeared in journals such as Feral, River Heron, North Dakota Quarterly, and Selcouth Station. His first chapbook comes out this summer, 2022.

Old Barn by Richard Dinges

old barn
Old Barn
Stripped of corrugated
tin and wood plank
skin, second story
frame long gone
except for one wall,
its open maw that once
devoured bales of hay
leans but refuses
to fall.  The old barn
stands tall among
trees, their bare branches
stencils against barn’s
gray skin, a feeble
giant as stubborn
as those old farmers
who erected it, stood
tall and sweaty and
dirty at its walls
that towered with
their long ago pride.
Richard Dinges, Jr. lives and works by a pond among trees and grassland, along with his wife, one dog, three cats, and three chickens.  Poem, Avalon, Willow Review, Oracle, and Writer’s Block most recently accepted his poems for their publications.


The Last Day of January by Paul Ilechko

The Last Day of January
Ice is floating on the surface of the river     the water
appears to be motionless     looking like the skin
of ice is locking it into place     triangles of slush slowly
form in front of the great stone footings that anchor
the bridge     it’s as if the river is quietly creating
its own glaciers     and all we have to do is watch
downstream     there are rapids     it won’t be
long now until the shad are fighting their way
upriver     some of them will travel over three hundred
miles     some of them will be tangled in the great
sweeping nets where the Lewis Island fishermen
trawl the river bottom     just above the bridge
for almost two years now we have been frozen
in place      we no longer seem able to create new
memories     most of us will reappear on the other
side of this endless winter that we are traveling through
many of us will not     caught in the nets that were
randomly cast     fins thrashing     gills bursting for air.
Poet and songwriter Paul Ilechko lives with his partner in Lambertville, NJ. He is the author of several chapbooks. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including The Night Heron Barks, Feral Journal, Iron Horse Literary Review, Gargoyle Magazine, and Book of Matches. His first album, “Meeting Points”, was released in 2021.

Things Fall Apart by Bartholomew Barker

Things Fall Apart
I’d rather watch the vanities of man
sag and collapse under the weight
of years than to spend my weekends
trimming hedges, touching up paint
or soothing hinges with an oil can.
Let these walls tumble down in a lovely heap
and the floor rot out beneath. If a storm
brings an oak through the roof, I won’t abandon
the place, I’ll revel among the leaves.
I’m ready to observe its final decay,
keep the images in my pocket
like an apocalyptic prophet
or derelict poet who failed
the American dream.
Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. His first poetry collection, Wednesday Night Regular, written in and about strip clubs, was published in 2013. His second, Milkshakes and Chilidogs, a chapbook of food inspired poetry was served in 2017. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit. http://www.bartbarkerpoet.com

The Generous Way of Trees by Judy DeCroce

The Generous Way of Trees
looking up as they begin
     echoing the days far away
into this tall world
     lie anchors tethered to the next
yes  elsewhere is waiting
     towards this they move
with the innocent grace their changes
     a calm   flowing   feeding and feeling
a surprise in knowing
     and yielding less with time
I remember the way of trees
     expanding their road into history
through winds and droppings
     vying for a stand
a convivial porter of birds
     gathering of species
a bounty of questions stored in time
     where they headed nowhere but here
green swaying towers predicting
     the way of trees
Judy DeCroce lives and works with her husband poet/artist Antoni Ooto in rural upstate New York. Widely published internationally in both print, online journals, and anthologies, she is a poet, flash fiction writer, and educator who is a regular contributor to The BeZINE, The Front Porch Review, North of Oxford, OpenDoor Magazine, The Poet Magazine, Amethyst Review, and Vita Brevis Press.  Judy is proud of being invited, for a second year, to participate in the Waco Wordfest Oct. 2021. As a professional storyteller, she enjoys preforming and teaching that genre.

When Clouds Escape by Antoni Ooto

When Clouds Escape
a slowing fog
unties a thirst for the ocean—
silent, mooring.
The first sounds…
dogs warning along slow hills,
and loons drop to clear vacant water
keeping busy
Asa’s Landing
nearly concealed in rushes,
there—and not there.
Safety cups the cove
where beach grasses frame.
Here, two men rest
as ageless as silhouettes
and over there that rescue skiff
patient, beached
with nowhere left to go.
Antoni Ooto lives and works with his wife, poet/storyteller, Judy DeCroce, in rural upstate New York. Ooto is a well-known abstract expressionist artist whose art is collected throughout the US. His poetry is widely published internationally in print, online journals, and anthologies.  Antoni regularly contributes to The BeZINE, Amethyst Review, Front Porch Review, The Poet Magazine, North of Oxford, OpenDoor Magazine, and Vita Brevis Press.  

Two Poems by Amit Parmessur

Papa 2.0
It may start with him walking backwards and sitting
in his rattan chair, a rose sinking into its sepals.
He does not take out a cigarette to turn
it into smoke and scald the coconut ashtray.
Ready for a new future, he sheds the excess sugar
in his blood, growing into a bigger body,
his chest reappearing, his cheeks softening,
teeth popping back into his gums.
He can make everyone love him again
by spitting the liquor back into the glass, by forgetting
that other woman, by coming home earlier
and swallowing the swear words he used to throw at us.
It may continue with him taking up his tools
and building new houses with his own brand of honesty.
He does not need to work for charlatans
who turn him into a robot and exploit his naivety.
With a football back between his legs,
he gives up on gambling but eats as many dhal puri
as he wants, diving into Flic-en-Flac like a seabird
and bursting skyward like a flying fish every Sunday.
That’s how I want to bring my Dad back.
It may end with him never getting old, listening to
Elvis non-stop and dyeing his hair with youth;
a father is a father unless he paralyses you with his sting.
Self-Isolation & Shakespeare
A nameless day, I see myself leaning
on a Malboro backstage, my green tongue
in love with borrowed smoke. I talk of
dreams; I am the musical Mercutio.
Stickmen on fire queue up for my concerts.
A blank night, I find myself in seiza
at a shrine, gargling with sweet, warm water.
An Asian Orsino, I chew music;
I am the scarecrow stuffed with red hay,
whose harmonium goes wild and mild.
A dateless noon I see myself digging
into an oyster; I am Bassanio,
the gambler. I rejoice in the absence
of the sun, trying to lure a mermaid into
the spirited marrow of my drained skeleton.
I have no regret as my beard falls on
the cracked window sill. On the old table,
fresh newspaper. Covid count. Coldest rain.
To be Romeo, or not to be Romeo?
Back to my boulder, I am the snowman
cheating invisible death, in his blindness.
Amit Parmessur’s poetry has appeared in over 165 magazines, namely WINK, The Rye Whiskey Review, Night Garden Journal, Hobo Camp Review, Ann Arbor Review and Ethos Literary Journal.



Group Portrait by Chris Bullard

sun shut
Group Portrait
In a mixed bouquet
some die first.
The most distinctive
petals slump
before the standards.
The attention
demanding,  astounding
sunflower shuts
its questing eye. Next
the trash takes
a pale tuberose, wadded
like discarded paper.
Bright amiable mums
carnations —
perennial survivors
frame  a missing
central focus
as an end game
in nostalgia.
is the beauty
of how
they stood together.
A native of Florida, Chris Bullard lives in Philadelphia. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.F.A. from Wilkes University. Grey Book Press published Continued, a poetry chapbook, in 2020 and Moonstone Press recently published Going Peaceably to the Obsidian Knife, his chapbook of environmentally themed poetry. Main Street Rag expects to publish his poetry chapbook, Florida Man, early next year.