2:24 a.m. by Michael A. Griffith

2:24 a.m.
Train blurs going past
    2:24 on my radio’s green screen
night darkness except the cross-arms’
    red lights flashing
the sound  the strobe  the noise
    of   motion as I sit  still
warning bell clanging   still
    coming home from O’Keef’s
the noise thrumming   thunder over
    Hotel California — my head bobs in time
my head bobs in time my head bobs
                                    I see a face.
    There’s a small face  bright
bright  a flash as the long train passes   still passing
    the yellow cars maroon cars graffitied cars pass
    Eyes meet   he sees me  he sees
as the high note of the guitar solo rings
    to meet the wailing bell
Sees the truck now behind me   headlights
    glare in my rearview   engine loud as the train
train now done and the gate arms rise
    high-beams me and revs  engine heat like
monster’s breath    See
    the driver’s arm thrust  waving  long
shouts   horn blaring
    so I go
drive into the eyes
still there

Griffith Photo (1)Michael A. Griffith began writing poetry while recovering from a disability-causing injury. Three chapbooks: Bloodline (Soma Publishing), Exposed (Hidden Constellation Press), and New Paths to Eden (Kelsay Books). He lives near Princeton, NJ.





Where Mr. Penasky’s check went by Morgan Boyer

Where Mr. Penasky’s check went 
All of your missing rent checks
migrate to live on an island of lost
office documents. The moment
you slot them into the mailbox,
they grow plastic wings and flutter
out the dust-covered window of your
A/C-lacking flat above Mike’s Gyros Shop
where they have the $6.99 chicken
tender basket special on Wednesdays
So while you sit on a bar stool with deflated fluff,
like meth-addicted sheep, filling your veins with greasy
fried cholesterol since it’s all you can afford on a $10 an hour,
your missing rent check
is fighting a giant ground sloth
on a white-sanded beach
in the Bermuda Triangle.
Morgan Boyer is the author of The Serotonin Cradle (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and a graduate of Carlow University. Boyer has been featured in Kallisto Gaia Press, Thirty West Publishing House, Oyez Review, Pennsylvania English, and Voices from the Attic. Boyer is a neurodivergent bisexual woman who resides in Pittsburgh, PA.

Swallowtail by Gloria Monaghan

The blue butterfly emerges along the path in the dunes
low to the ground near Queen Anne’s lace:
polyxenes, swallowtail
whatever name you call her,
she is like the dust on your ankle in the heat of July.
An early slipper moon, Venus
each one present in the other’s view.
Years ago men wrote about the moon,
called her Cynthia, as if it were a woman so close to their heart
held in early autumn like the forever beat
of high summer when clothes fall away from the body
in some sort of sad departure.
An early green tiny worm made its way
into my home, and I opened the door and set it free.
Gloria Monaghan is a Professor at Wentworth University. She has published five books of poetry. Her poems have appeared in Alexandria Quarterly, NPR, Poem-a-Day, Nixes-Mate, Mom Egg Review, among others. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and the Massachusetts Book Award. Her book False Spring was nominated for the Griffin Prize.

I Never Cared for Skinny Angels by John Dooroh

I Never Cared for Skinny Angels 
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the effort.
I do, I really do. But a malnourished angel
ain’t doing me any favors. They need
to be cherubic, well fed with the afterbirth
of sin. They need to glisten a bit in the sun,
forget to shave their legs, drop spaghetti
on their gowns, make a mess at Outback,
eat ribs on Beale Street & burp a bit
to let the servers know they enjoyed
the food.
My angel squeezes sideways onto a city bus
in Geneva to tell us what stop to take to see
her favorite church, disappears when we turn
to thank her. We see her later that day eating
chocolate-and-raspberry torte at a sidewalk cafe,
wiping her mouth and chin with a white linen
She recites prayers of abdication, full
of regret for slipping up, for imperfection, but
it’s unnecessary.  I cry with her
in the back yard with a million fireflies
who lay an electric carpet for our feet.
She grabs the cigarette from my mouth,
inhales, holds it in like a ghost breath, exhales
her smoke into my field of vision.
I remind her that there’s strawberry cheese-
cake in the back of the fridge.
John Dorroh was born with a pen in his hand. He wrote his first poem on the bathroom wall with his mother’s red lipstick. He graduated to novel-writing at the age of 12 with an adventure book called “Buck’s Way”. His poetry has appeared in about 125 journals, including Selcouth Station, Os Pressan, Feral, Burningword, and North Dakota Quarterly. He also dabbles with short fiction and the occasional rant. His first chapbook was published in the spring of 2022.

After my First Heart Fluctuation by Stephen Page

After my First Heart Fluctuation
The day after my first heart fluctuation
My mother came to visit me.
While we ate pasta and cottage cheese,
She began to cough on the ground pepper
She had liberally sprinkled on top of her food.
My mind went back thirty years,
To when my grandfather,
Who was babysitting my sisters and me,
Began to cough from pepper upon steak,
A cough that turned into a red-faced choking,
As he clutched the railing of the stairway
That led away from the kitchen an emptied into
                        The basement.
As I walked with my mother through Central Park,
And she rambled on about this cousin and that aunt,
I closely watched her facial expressions,
                        And noticed each flutter in her step.
Stephen Page is part Native American. He was born in Detroit. He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College. He has 4 books of poetry published. He loves his wife, long walks through woodlands, nature, solitude, peace, meditating, spontaneous road trips, motorcycles, smashing cell phones with hammers, dog-earing pages in books, and making noise with his electric bass. Most recently, he has had several flash fictions, a short story, and dozens of poems published. Check out his blog to read them: https://smpages.wordpress.com

The Game by Matthew Ussia

The Game
Late spring day at the friar’s cemetery
I walked down to see old friends
from my college days buried
in rows of identical graves
brothers in Christ who all failed
to get me to follow them in faith
Perhaps I was their token nontheist
friend for keeping piety honest or
thought they were playing a long game
confident of my long walk towards salvation
Father Tom always told me
doubt is just a natural phase
These bodies who never knew
the sanctuary of other bodies
lay under my feet, victory uncertain
what final thoughts at the end
of lives dedicated to opening a door
that turned out to be a wall
An ending of absolute despair
before the relief of dreamless sleep
the rest of my life knowing
it’s only a matter of time before
the big reveal of which one of us was wrong
Matthew Ussia is a professor, editor, podcaster, thereminist, writer, softcore punk, social media burnout, and all-around sentient organic matter.  His first book of poetry The Red Glass Cat, was published in 2021.   His writings have appeared in Mister Rogers and Philosophy, Winedrunk Sidewalk, Future Humans in Fiction and Film, North of Oxford, Trailer Park Quarterly, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The Open Mic of the Air Podcast among others. He lives in Pittsburgh.   More info can be found at www.matthewussia.com


Happy Hour at the All-Souls Lounge by Dennis Daly

all souls
Happy Hour at the All-Souls Lounge 
Vivid sparks shoot out everywhere,
The ethereal smithy slams
Down his fundamental hammer
As I sip my jar of whiskey
And nod to that sweat-veiled forger
Of well-oiled Damascus steel,
A quickening sword telecast.
Moving toward me, the barkeep smirks
Then smiles his all-knowing welcome.
I’m early and unrepentant.
From spatial mist others drift in,
Fired metal moved aside with tongs.
A hilt with pommel now fashioned
While draft beers or iced drinks are poured,
Pockets sapped of greenbacks and coins.
Some talk on tomorrow’s subjects,
Some keep their peace, their weighted hearts
Self-contained, losing harsh detail.
The fine file and whetstone applied
To blade’s edge, creation’s prelude.
Dennis Daly has published nine books of poetry and poetic translations. He has written reviews for literary journals and newspapers. A new book entitled Odd Man Out has been accepted by Madhat Press and is due out by fall 2023. Please see his blogsite at http://www.dennisfdaly.blogspot.com

What You Want by David Kozinski

IMG_0610 (4)
What You Want
To not wish for much
in the decorating days of October
is to receive even less
than what fits in a coke spoon
and little remains for the gleaning
when December steps down into darkness.
Raised expectation is a processional;
a strand of children two by two
red-robed and matched by height
marching in hesitation step;
and along the way
more rises and falls – a ball tossed
one foot ahead and caught
on the bounce.
Fail and fall better the prophet scribed
on the side of a barrel. Pages are littered
with junkyard wealth –
a tire slung over the creek
that gleaming mornings glanced past,
chipped gems of Chambord and Crown Royal,
rusted runners that brought Rosebud to thirsting lips,
a spade that dug for loot in punishing soil
and struck something cold and smooth as a bullet
but brings up the wisdom of worms.
DPK head shot
.David P. Kozinski was a finalist for the Inlandia Institute’s Hillary Gravendyke Prize. I Hear It the Way I Want It to Be was published this year by Kelsay Books. He is Rockwood Park and Museum’s Resident Poet. Kozinski was the 2018 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Poetry Fellow. Publications include Tripping Over Memorial Day (Kelsay Books) and Loopholes (Broadkill Press) which won the Dogfish Head Poetry Prize. He serves on the boards of the Eastern Shore Writers Association, the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center and the Editorial Board of Philadelphia Stories magazine, and is Art Editor for Schuylkill Valley Journal.

The Abalone Hunt by Emily Bilman

The Abalone Hunt
The full moon ormering tide swayed the kelp
Forests on the Coral Sea. On the drop-down
From the neritic limn, I measured the limestone
Shells with their breathing pores in the selenizone
And cut them off from their rock-hosts with
A plastic knife to prevent them from bleeding.
The shells that survived the dinosaurs, clung
To their rock-hosts as if they were rocks themselves.
A shock on the coiled Cretaceous spiral and
The snail-flesh would secrete a ceramic fluid between
Sliding bricks to form a body-armour and a pearl.
On the ground above the aquifer and the water-table,
The convex shell, rough in the hand, yielded to iridescent
Green-purple-silver swathes of refracted light.
Emily Bilman, PhD is London’s Poetry Society Stanza representative in Geneva. Her thesis, The Psychodynamics of Poetry: Poetic Virtuality and Oedipal Sublimation in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot and Paul Valéry, was published by Lambert Academic in 2010 and Modern Ekphrasis in 2013 by Peter Lang. Her poetry books, A Woman By A Well (2015), Resilience (2015), The Threshold of Broken Waters (2018), and Apperception (2020) were published by Matador, UK. http://www.emiliebilman.wix.com/emily-bilman