The Small Press Email Bird, by Doug Draime

The small press email bird
is a very rare and shy bird,
seething with fear and unrequited love.

It lives camouflaged among the
palm trees, sycamores, and
the weeping willows. Fair warning:
they must be approached
with extreme caution and gentleness.

The wrong word in an email, or any honesty
or directness whatsoever, a boo or
a brusque movement, and they
will fly, fly away never to be seen
again. Many of them have flown
away from me, I am sorry to admit.

And ole brash me, not understanding the
seemingly bottomless depths of their
sensitivity and paranoia, which motivates
their quirky, turtle-shell behavior.

Expressing my dissatisfaction in general
with email communications, and asking
them for (maybe) a phone number, or to met them
personally one on one, for a beer or coffee,
gets not a peep or tweet in response.

I have emailed Capistrano more than once,
hoping to learn of their return fluttering down on
delicate wings, along with the beautiful swallows.
And I am happy to report that the swallows have
returned again, but unfortunately no sign of the
pouting and fragile small press email bird.


Untitled Poem, by Simon Perchik

But where is the river
--not one inch closer
though the will to win
has outlasted you
the way sunlight slows
loses out to the cold

--there must have been a wound
a rock and that someplace
the dead are waiting for
while you watch how the horizon
slowly ices over, carries you
into open sea where your breath
lies down on the darkness

and drinks from this half the sky
lets the other side take the lead
eating away at these stars
sprawled out as shoreline

--you are surrounded at last
clouded over by moonlight
and nothing but moonlight.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. For more information, including his essay “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” and a complete bibliography, please visit his website at


On a Summer Herding Day, by Tendai R. Mwanaka

Early morning it is and Bhoyidho,
My brother, all the boys and me

Of our village.

Wake up early to eat, for-
   This lovely day ahead of us.
     For very soon the sun will rise-
       Over the dawn blue Mozi mountain.

With the sun smiling its sweet,
Lovely smile, oh so lovely!

So is us!

Moo, hey, Jamaica ahoy to a new day.
   We took our sheep and cattle,
     Goats, sheep, dogs, food and all.
       Aha! We will have a good day.

Birds singing sweetly from the trees.
The cuckoo bird cooing us forward-

To the grazing lands.

Cuckoo-roo, cuckoo-roo, cuckoroo-wee.
   To so abundant with reeds a veldt.
     Green grass, water and fruits
       We will spend the day there, never worry.

Of Matron and her troop of troublesome-
Bromley, Venekadanga and Nhengamuswe.

The fields are far!

We never will about them, nor the sun.
   Its early in the morning, the sun is still so young.
     We will play; we will have a long day.
       Brawl, hunt and play soccer.

Now, my brother and other older boys-
Divide us into twos for the first-

Calling of the day.

I am with Solomon, that it always is like.
   Whoever will loose the fight would while,
     The whole day doing the other’s daily duty when-
       In the sun like a king the other basks.

Its only yesterday that I had spent the day
Looking after the cattle, not today, no!

I have to win.

He has piercingly fierce jibs.
   And could pack them in thousands.
     But I have power to shove and send-
       Him down to the ground, making it easy.

I will rejoice if he falls down,
I will sit on top of his stomach.

That’s his end!

I will pounce his face like a hammer-
   Striking with no mercy on the nail’s head.
     Until he surrenders to me-
       His king who will rule him today.

Near midday as the sun builds-
Pouncing the veldt with fierce heat,

We start hunting!

Chasing guinea fowl, till they are-
   Tired and start running on legs.
     And that’s easily when our dogs-
       Will snatch them after a short run.

We will chase and catch wild hare,
Doe, deer, fawn, locust and share-

Even monkeys?

Which we train to be our good friends.
   But as the sun starts staring the eastern hem,
     We engage into wild frenzy.
       Into two groups we engage in soccer.

As the sun touches the western mountains-
Sitting on top of them as if taking its-

Last look at us.

Then, we start searching, around, fully.
   Strayed and lost cattle to one spot.
     When we have them together we trace.
       Our footsteps back home joyfully.

Days when we have failed to track,
The strayed Matron and her troop,

They are home already.

Bromley has led them back home.
   All the way to our fields, eating not.
     A crop from other people’s fields, no.
       We wait for, we know, a heavy thrashing.

When everyone is cosy around the fire-
And those waiting for their cattle are fed.

We arrive home.

Some will scold and shout at us for,
   Always being late with their cattle.
     At such instances we don’t give voice to-
       The bad vibes we want to say to them.

When every cattle has been located,
All owners have gone with their lot,

Without a loss.

We go home rejoicing for a good day.
   When we have the cattle securely shut.
     We proceed home with our day’s show.
       Father forgets to beat us sometimes.

What, with all the meat we have brought-
Sweet roasting, the smells of meat.

We all feast!

Mother and Father, our sisters, gratefully-
   Listening to stories that we tell of the day.
     Laughing heart fully, we all did-
       Happily as we surrounded the grate.

Tendai's collection of poetry titled Voices from Exile was published by Lapwing Publications, Northern Ireland in 2010. His novel Keys in the River Notes from a Modern Chimurenga is a series of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern day Zimbabwe, published by Savant, USA 2012. He is also a Pushcart nominee and commended for the Dalro Prize. His work has been translated into Spanish and French. His work has appeared in over 150 magazines, journals and anthologies in the USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, Romania, Cyprus, Australia, and New Zealand.


Waterbugs, Roses and Me, by Donal Mahoney

Waterbugs scurry
when the light snaps on
at midnight in the bathroom
the way this woman's eyes
dart when I see her
dancing with a nice man
but not the right man.
He's shorter than I am,

has a neat goatee.
She always knew
my interest would last
once I had gamboled
in the garden of roses
she had been planting
one rose at a time
for a devil like me.


T., by Benjamin Schmitt

As we listened to Mozart on her couch
I felt so light
as the pleading and then indifferent
sounds swirled around us.

I lost my bones and my face blew to dust
during the overture,
sweeping me up, she gathered me
from the corners and crevices

of her living room. I rediscovered my body
in her arms. As she
clutched me I felt the music of pores
singing through skin and I knew

that to truly love the music one had to be
reborn in such embraces,
to experience the inevitability of total loss
before sensing the fluidity.

Her hair streaked across my jacket like rays
of light chasing
surreptitious shadows, her head lay
on my chest. It was

her perfume that anointed me in the thick oils
of the masterpiece.
It smelled of lavender and chocolate as I breathed
lives upon her neckline.

Benjamin Schmitt’s poetry has been published in Solo Novo, The Monarch Review, Blue Lyra Review, Otis Nebula, The Pacific Review, and elsewhere. His first book was published in 2013 by Kelsay Books. It is entitled The global conspiracy to get you in bed. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife where he teaches workshops to both children and adults.


Ancient Well, by Alan Britt

A beautiful maple seed
one spiraling wing
of Mercury
or a lungfish
with mind
on traversing
inky shadows
below this poem.

Alan Britt served as judge for the 2013 The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. He read poetry and presented the “Modern Trends in U.S. Poetry” at the VII International Writers’ Festival in Val-David, Canada, May 2013. Sponsored by LaRuche Arts Contemporary Consortium (LRACC) he read poetry at the Union City Museum of Art/William V. Musto Cultural Center in Union City, NJ in May, 2014. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His latest books are Parabola Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli): 2013 and Alone with the Terrible Universe: 2011. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.


Formatting an Incarnation, by Michael Brownstein

I died and in death
metamorphosed into brick,
the mortar between slabs of life
and flesh soaked away from me
bubbling into new forms of cell,
gene dosage, commitment,
a longing to find space,
new worlds, new diseases.
Somehow the essence of stone,
the fragmenting of me,
breached an essence of star
and starlight welcomed me,
brick by brick, mortar,
the cementing of plasma,
and in the far distance
the galaxy lit itself up.


Backyard in Autumn, by A. J. Huffman

Sweeping museumed colors,
pieces of glass and sun,
across fledgling blades,
green is perceived sharper,
a death-bed garden, a carpet
laid to welcome
winter’s feet.

A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her eighth solo chapbook, Drippings from a Painted Mind, won the 2013 Two Wolves Chapbook Contest. She also has a full-length poetry collection scheduled for release in June 2005, titled, A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.


Trees Can Dance, by Joan McNerney

Winter trees stand...cold sculptures
against grey skies. Naked and defiant
their limbs etched against weak light.
Black engravings stretching over heaven.

Spring begins its tiny birth covering
branches with small buds. We constantly
search for growth, longing for green.
Birds come pecking berries filling
afternoons with their chorus.

Now comes heat and luxurious
leaves in myriad shades of green.
How many shades of green are there?
As many as there are leaves. We
rest under the oak's comforting arbor
as familiar as an old friend.

Shape shifting now wearing
red, orange, green, yellow
foliage. Fresh breezes spread
this splendor creating magic
carpets of many colors.
Trees welcome the harvest
swaying to their own music.


Moonlight, by Michael Keshigian

It enjoys the placid lake
devoid of activity
at the black hour of midnight,
illuminating the surface
like a lightening bolt
parting a starless sky,
the startled eyes
of aquatic dwellers
staring upward from the silt
as if seeing the path to heaven
for the first time.


Diminution, by Michael Keshigian

On a tree
by a narrow street
upon an bending bough
I perch in a dream
over people in a field
hovering about
an empty hole
obstructed by a box
with contents
of what use to be me.
Some are sobbing,
most are somber
and few hide
a reluctant obligatory glint.
All see the hyphen
between random dates
engraved upon granite,
transform my toil
to a trophy abbreviation
for living.

Michael Keshigian’s poetry collection, Eagle’s Perch, was recently released by Bellowing Ark Press. Other published books are: Wildflowers, Jazz Face, Warm Summer Memories, Silent Poems, Seeking Solace, Dwindling Knight, Translucent View. Published in numerous journals, he is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee. His poetry cycle, Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, premiered at Del Mar College in Texas. Subsequent performances occurred in Boston and Moleto, Italy. His website is at:

The Small Press Email Bird, by Doug Draime

Untitled Poem, by Simon Perchik

On a Summer Herding Day, by Tendai R. Mwanaka

Waterbugs, Roses and Me, by Donal Mahoney

T., by Benjamin Schmitt

Ancient Well, by Alan Britt

Formatting an Incarnation, by Michael Brownstein

Backyard in Autumn, by A. J. Huffman

Trees Can Dance, by Joan McNerney

Moonlight, by Michael Keshigian

Diminution, by Michael Keshigian

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All poems are copyright of their respective authors.

Exercise Bowler, editor, Julie Kovacs. 2010-2016