Drawing, by B.Z. Niditch

Drawing
out of your elliptical
memory

when solitude
contains
this ink

your absence
one of thought
in wonderment

unaware
at one moment
of picturing loss.

B.Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright, fiction writer and teacher. His work is widely published in journals and magazines throughout the world, including: Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, Hawaii Review, Le Guepard (France), Kadmos (France), Prism International, Jejune (Czech Republic), Leopold Bloom (Budapest), Antioch Review, and Prairie Schooner, among others. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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But Instead Has Gone Into Woods, by Lyn Lifshin

A girl goes into the woods
and for what reason
disappears behind branches
and is never heard from again.
We donít really know why,
she could have gone shopping
or had lunch with her mother
but instead has gone into
woods, alone, without the lover,
and not for leaves or flowers.
It was a clear bright day
very much like today.
It was today. Now you might
imagine Iím that girl,
it seems there are reasons. But
first consider: I donít live
very near those trees and my
head is already wild with branches

*********************

The Spark in Disneyland, by Rich Murphy

At the theme park, the Golden Gates
distract the joy-boys from the black boot
overhead. Replicas and items salvaged
from the fires in Europe stud the hubbub
and maintain the rushes in the New World.
Adrenaline substitutes for the ongoing
once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The walking museum pieces from England
who fail at Hollywood practice
composition at Happier Hunting Ground.
Loved ones slip into the prescribed rites
for having the hots at Whispering Glades:
The inexpensive organs break and burn.
But a well-placed smile substitutes
for endurance cheek to cheek.
At Abercrombie and Filch, the crematorium
seduces all animals with or without
inner or outer resources or roots.

Rich Murphy's credits include the 2008 Gival Press Poetry Award for his book-length manuscript ďVoyeur;Ē a first book The Apple in the Monkey Tree; chapbooks Great Grandfather, Family Secret by, Hunting and Pecking, and Phoems for Mobile Vices; poems in Rolling Stone, Poetry, Grand Street, Trespass, New Letters, Pank, Segue, Big Bridge, Pemmican, foam:e, and Confrontation; and essays in The International Journal of the Humanities, Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning, Reconfigurations: A Journal for Poetics Poetry / Literature and Culture, Fringe, and Journal of Ecocriticism. Derek Walcott has remarked for the cover of my book Voyeur: ďMr. Murphy is a very careful craftsman in his work, a patient and testing intelligence, one of those writers who knows precisely what he wants his style to achieve. His poetry is quiet but packed, carefully wrought, not surrealistically wild, and its range not limited but deliberately narrow. It takes aim.Ē Rich lives in Marblehead, MA and teaches writing at VCU.

*********************

Gila Monsters, by Dan Hedges

We drag a full set of oak pews into the Sonoran desert
with the singular purpose of revering a
medium-large-square-unfufilled canvas.

We sit,
We are Boy Scouts,
We are nobody.

In our minds we proceed
To un-paint disorder with reverse strokes
of the haunting tense.

Suddenly, the surrounding desert manifests
As a brass Gila Monster hood ornament
That tethers on the semantic buzz of constant elegy,
and levitates above Arizona in our minds,
before we crab-step back to Tuscon.

Dan Hedges teaches English in the Sir Wilfred Laurier School Board of Quebec. He has also taught at Sedbergh School, and the Celtic International School. He studied English, History, and Education and Trent University and Queenís University. His writing appears or is forthcoming in North American and International journals such as The Monarch Review, Kenning Journal, Wilderness House Literary Journal, Haggard and Halloo Publications, The Euonia Review, The Legendary, Record Magazine, The Apeiron Review, The Journal, and more than forty others.

*********************

Savor Truth, by Donal Mahoney

Part readily the skin
and readily the pulp

and readily the tongues
wild apples bore,

eviscerate the cores
and watermelon spit

the pits they
cannot swallow.

Do this before
you let the tongues

wild lemons bore
find no cores

and you will
savor truth

unlike so many now
still gnawing.

*********************

Leprechaunís Creed, by Donal Mahoney

The thing of it is,
says Johnny O,
none of us knows

whether he is
while others announce
after looking around

they beg to differ.
The thing of it is,
says Johnny O,

some would say
heís here, heís there,
heís everywhere

while others would say
after looking around
no one can see him

anywhere--so how
can he be everywhere?
The thing of it is,

says Johnny O,
heís right over where?
Letís look around.

Donal Mahoney has had work published in Exercise Bowler and other print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

*********************

Tree, by Jerry Durick

Dead, dying, almost dead,
My neighborís tree leans
Perilously across the street,

Crashes an occasional limb
Down to warn of its terrible
Fate, the weight of its years

Pulls and sways, even moans,
Whispers its presence, its past
Teeters and creaks old bones.

All the birds and squirrels have
Left it to itself, even the cats
Circle away from it as if they

Know what is coming and
What it will bring with it,
Another empty space, a gap

In our lives, the measure of
Our loss, a new silence in our
Day, some meaning taken away.

J. K. Durick is presently a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont, after a long career teaching literature, humanities, and writing at Trinity College of Vermont. His recent poems have appeared in Third Wednesday, Steam Ticket, and SN Review.

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The Beach, by Tyler Bigney

The beach - dead seaweed, broken glass,
brown filtered cigarette butts pushed down into sand.
I walked to see boats, waves, perpetually
white-capped. The war between my brain
and my heart has not yet reached its climax,
but soon my bedroom will be a champagne bottle,
toasting in celebration, or toasting goodbye.
I fumble with my glass mutely, eyes on my shoes.
I raise my head up, but thereís only me, the beach,
my feet dug into cold sand. My grandmother riding in,
in front of a sad sky, on a red rocking horse,
like the picture my father has of her taped to the
top corner of his dresser mirror. The world needs
more gardens. I want to write a love poem that will speak
to the masses, hummingbirds a metaphor for the heart.
No one writes love poems, theyíre too hard, or it hurts,
or the heart is too tricky a subject to handle.
In front of me right now Ė a ghost, some blackbirds
above the Northumberland Strait, a thousand dead
jellyfish, belly up, glowing under a sunless sky.

*********************

Itís Always the Darkness, by Tyler Bigney

I am standing so still
if you saw me youíd believe
I was dead - my head slumped
forward against glass,
watching a dog lick itself,
watching the wind shake
the trees, watching birds
move effortlessly through
the same wind thatís shaking
the trees. Thereís a group
of boys playing cowboys
and Indians, guns carved from
alders, their hair blowing
from one side to the other.

The world is not as big
as youíd think, but there are
a trillion places to rest
your heavy head, and look up
at the same stars everyone
looks up at, kisses under,
falls in love under, dances,
sleeps, dreams, swims,
writes poems under. I
found a way to slow
my heart, so it moves
like a dried up river,
stretching for miles,
finding myself under stars
slow dancing in 4/4 time,
but itís not the love of my life,
instead itís the darkness
thatís moving with me.

Tyler Bigney lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. His poetry, and fiction have appeared in Nashwaak Review, Neon, Pearl, Poetry New Zealand, and Iodine, among others. You can find him, and more of his writing at www.tylerbigney.com.

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Drawing, by B.Z. Niditch

But Instead Has Gone Into Woods, by Lyn Lifshin

The Spark in Disneyland, by Rich Murphy

Gila Monsters, by Dan Hedges

Savor Truth, by Donal Mahoney

Leprechaunís Creed, by Donal Mahoney

Tree, by Jerry Durick

The Beach, by Tyler Bigney

Itís Always the Darkness, by Tyler Bigney

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All poems are copyright of their respective authors.

Exercise Bowler, editor, Julie Kovacs. 2010-2016