Circumstance, by Michael Keshigian
“Who told you to think?”
we naked and intimidated
hadn’t planned this,
somehow it was here
and we appeared.
How should we address each other?
What should we eat?
Should we kneel or stand
in front of Him?
Our intentions are as different
as our bodies,
each with something to hide,
though apparent as we stare,
turn away, then stare again,
His design confuses us,
we are leaves
attempting to negotiate a tree,
a flash of light
about to diminish.
He insists on faith
we don’t understand.
Our minds are lassos
woven in questions and flesh.
The Earth Within, by Michael Keshigian
We awoke in light,
wriggling in the palm
of a muddy hand,
divided into portions
under a stone,
we were the life
that delighted the sun
as we edged toward an empty cave.
Heaven rinsed us with a sigh
and set afloat
the Earth in our veins.
Behind our eyes
loomed the ocean,
beneath out fingernails
between our toes
hovered the air of discovery,
a model universe floated
undiscovered in our brain.
The great plates trembled
and the chatter of teeth
shattered the ensuing silence,
glacial ice masses cracked
and the capillaries of vision
slid into a sea of fascination,
a body born
under sunlight, in sand,
saturated with rain,
to propagate the world.
Home Fires, by Anthony Nannetti
True warriors on distant sand
all sing the same proud song
until their revelry betrays their ranks
and draws a mighty volley.
They stop singing then,
dig in and die.
More tragic is the battlefield
if anthems resound from afar
where graves are dug in darkness
and patriots abound.
Anthony Nannetti is a English teacher with the School District of Philadelphia. He lives in the Bella Vista section of the city with his wife and two daughters. His poetry has appeared in Guardian Unlimited, Penny Ante Feud, and PhiladelphiaStories, and online at Zone Magazine, Ygdrasil, Forge Journal, Isles of Myst Review, and Bijou Poetry Review.
A Thousand Times, by Khembottra Oum
I fell in love a thousand times,
Never once did I feel truly alive.
I cried with the night sky,
Along moon drops of heaven's light.
I broke the walls of hope,
My ghost still wanders as so.
I gave my heart so easily,
Knowing that it will always haunt me.
I watched the leaves break and fall,
Minutes pass and hours call.
I look and see my fellow man,
Distorted and ravaged by the land.
I wished that we were all blind,
Then man once again could be kind.
I drew from life and love,
That heaven is not a place up above.
I breathed the flowers of Eden,
Earth has her way that is never misleading.
I don't want to be a God,
Cause they will never know the beauty of love.
…In the Silent Wind, by Priyanka Bhowmick
Swarming up to my spines,
The lusty fingers,
As I walk,
In the silent wind.
Singing the eternal elegies of life,
My mind crumbles with the bygone years,
Played in the tattered strings of seclusion,
Provoking my core with an enormous thrust,
Cracking up my heart with ablaze,
I can hear my blood seethe,
As I walk,
In the silent wind.
The fate of my survival,
The spill of the fiery memoirs,
Tormenting me brutally,
Stabbing my soul second by second,
Tears that streamed down my eyes,
Turned acidic today,
I hear them still bawling,
As I walk,
In the silent wind.
The Cry of a Gloomy Pond, by Priyanka Bhowmick
They come and stare,
At the barrenness of my eyes..
Where nothing is remained with me..
Other than the vicious filth.
My soul surrendered to the soil,
That solaces me in her clinch,
Reminding me of the day’s bygone,
When lovers used to sit by me,
Holding their hands and singing,
The eternal melodies of love,
Birds relished their thirst,
Drinking my water as wine,
And played in my lap,
As they were my child.
While the trees nourished their beauty,
Gazing at my heart as their mirror,
Heaven cried upon my shoulders,
Lending me his tears,
Along with his blessings on me.
And now that I’ve grown old and ugly,
They turn off their sombre faces,
Letting me cry upon my emptiness.
For Basquiat & The Velvet Underground, by Joseph Reich
whenever they bring up
the 10 commandments
they always just seem
to mention the exact
same ones like i
what the other 7 were
like i’d like to see
them all mixed up
with the declaration
& martin luther
king’s letter from
poems & eminem
& archie & veronica
& mock apple pie
right off the side
of a box of
for the hiemlich
maneuver & kama
sutra & gertrude stein’s
rants & chants from
stanzas in meditation
a couple proofs from
maxims & nietzche’s
& the dead
it is that
like i think
so “i guess
that i just
Joseph Reich: is a social worker who works out in the state of Massachusetts: A displaced New Yorker who sincerely does miss diss-place, most of all the Thai food, Shanghai Joe's in Chinatown, the fresh smoothies on Houston Street, and bagels and bialy's of The Lower East Side. He has a wife and handsome little boy with a nice mop of dirty-blonde hair, and when they all get a bit older, hope to take them back to play,
to pray, and contemplate in the parks and playgrounds of New York City. He has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals both here and abroad and his most recent books include, A Different Sort Of Distance (Skive Magazine Press), If I Told You To Jump Off
The Brooklyn Bridge (Flutter Press), Escaping Shangrila (Punkin House Press), Obscure Aphorisms On A Fine Overcast Day (Lummox Press), The Derivation Of Cowboys & Indians (Poet Works Press) and Drugstore Sushi (Thunderclap Press)
Window at the Abbey, by Donal Mahoney
Through the window I see
the sun fire up
for the last time today.
There are jays
in the trees near the meadow,
crows in the grass
I cut with a scythe
early this morning.
Still on my platter
corn from the fields,
bell pepper and cheese.
I'll remain at my table
with lemon and tea
and look out on the land
that surrounds me.
The psalms a monk
gave me this morning
I'll read for an hour
Peace For Me Now, by Donal Mahoney
On the table by the window
balanced on its spine
and still as a
Peace for me now
zephyr through leaflet.
Peace for me soon
caribou and snow,
and caribou reclining.
Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, MO. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. A Pushcart Prize Nominee, he has had poems published in or accepted by The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Public Republic (Bulgaria), Revival (Ireland), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey), Pirene's Fountain (Australia) and other publications.
Night of Oblivion, by Julie Kovacs
Steel claws dig
into tender flesh
seven different voices
filling the mind
no echoes of the past
nobody can read minds
no reason to talk
at children playing
or the apples falling from
a golden tree
lining the floor of the bejeweled cavern
inside a solitary mountain
island in the sky
dark knight of death
awaits and beckons
forth a heart washed
with his blood
poured over cut fingernails
bearing crimson polish
each one tells a story
floating on the surface
footsteps along the
sandy forest floor
disappear into a gate of time
where no memories exist.
Julie Kovacs has been published in The Blotter, Children Churches and Daddies, Because We Write, Aquapolis, Perigee, The Pepper Tree, BlazeVOX, Poems Niederngasse, Silver Blade, Veil, Cherry Bleeds, Elegant Thorn Review, and Illogical Muse. She is the author of Silver Moonbeams: Dream Lover and The Emerald Grail, and is the editor of Exercise Bowler.
Trailer Park State of Mind, by Bob Eager
Disclaimer- This is not an attack on people who live in a trailer park. You can live in a high rise and have a trailer park mentality. Vice-versa you can live in a trailer park and be an upstanding decent hardworking citizen.
Wake Up. Natural born slackers. Those of you going to universities or colleges are especially prone to this. LAZY. If you had everything handed to you when you are young and think it is always going to be that way. You are suffering from a mobile home unit mentality. Those of you who settle for a dead end job lounging in your easy chair. Stop settling start striving. Stop drinking 40's and hanging out at the Hi-Liter.
It's easy for your whole life to exist from Camelback between 7th st and 16th St. Get up and get out. Stay out of the trailer park state of mind.
Go to the library. Read some books. Use and abuse information. Try hard and then try harder. Learn it. Live it Love it.
What's the matter with you. You miserable cretins.
Look outside your window. It shouldn't matter if there selling meth down the street from your house. Sure some say, the Scottsdale ghetto is between 64th st and 64th st and Osborn. Doesn't make any difference.
Rise above your mental circumstances.
After all, this is about motivation and inspiration.
It may sound contradictory, but a trailer park state of mind is not about a living situation. It is a statement about your mental preparation tactics. Due to shall we say life adversity?
Bob Eager is happy to say that he lives in the wild west. Yes, he mainly refers to people not knowing how to use their turn signals. Mr. Eager is most proud of surviving the mean streets of the Scottsdale ghetto in Arizona. Recently he was published in The Beat for a story about helping people called “Drugged Crippled Midget in the Shopping Cart”. Bob was also published with "Where's It Coming From", in Right Hand Pointing.
Slander, by Sarah Ahmad
A short dance
filled with jaded shame
evokes great cynicism
as the wonder
of an enticing scandal
clips the wings
of a naive prodigy.
Part of Illusion, by Sarah Ahmad
As my caterpillar lightly touches your caterpillar,
nothing but despair spreads inside the green foam.
Fluttering of wings, or was it eyelashes?
The sound becomes distant and the head shrinks.
But we all remain in the dark,
inside the green foam.
Sarah Ahmad lives in Pakistan. Poetry is a passion for her. Her work has been published in several places online and in print (which often makes her dance like a happy-crazy person). Information about her work and various chapbooks can be found on her blog http://scribblingpoetry.blogspot.com/
Parable, by Thomas Rechtin
The mirror may pare away your skin
like you were an apple, and it is time
to make an apple pie that someone
may claim is the best pie–apple or
otherwise–yet. Why? Listen: “I never
knew I liked apple pie, never thought
much of it–I’m really a cake-person–
until she placed one, uncooked, in a
paper bag, in the oven. I was frightened.
I couldn’t even focus on the television.
I was waiting for the smoke alarm to
go off, to send me staggering, a finger
jammed in each ear-hole, out onto the
patio, while she waved a kitchen towel
at the ceiling like she was fanning
a fire. I could hear the sirens, see the
smoke gathering itself and slow-rolling
toward me, toward the only open door.
I had forgotten to lock myself out! But
then, nothing happened. All the action
was on the television, and I was sitting
there, eating the best pie a plate could
offer. I had been paring the apples of
their skin, I had been slicing them down
into thick slivers and sliding the short
blade along the inner-walls, when sex
was a reflection—a poisoned apple.”
Darwin in Love, by Thomas Rechtin
Beyond an overgrown lawn is the bulk of our property, a mini-forest
through which we’ve mown trails, laden with wood chips to prevent the
re-sprouting of cumbersome foliage. It is an easy labyrinth. Lost, one
might follow a particular path, and emerge: confronting a neighbor’s
fence or, preferably, the frog-infested pond. And there were fish in
that pond. Nobody knew how they got there, nobody put them there.
Still swarms of baby catfish, black as wasps, in the warm wake of
their dilapidated mother conspire, with her deflected shadow, to
stipple every swish and turn. Meanwhile, in the woods, some ants are
leopardizing a rock. Grasping the cuff of your elastic, long-sleeved
sweatshirt, you successfully deposit their presence, sweeping the
residue of a re-thought statement onto the lukewarm ground. And while
there is barely enough room for us to sit, together, we manage it as
Siamese twins, or a mutated arachnid, thrusting ourselves into the
back of the other, flailing our limbs like a capsized
tortoise–defeated, as the victor mounts his prize.
Tom Rechtin received his PhD in English from Binghamton University and is currently Coordinator of Writing at Misericordia University in Dallas, PA. His poetry has been published in Sycamore Review, Notre Dame Review, Poetrybay, and other periodicals.
A Purple Stingray, by Larry Lawrence
with a silver metallic
looking banana seat,
long whip antennae
with a Day-Glo orange flag
from the bank to make sure
you didn’t get run over.
Old Maid cards clipped to
tire spokes made a magic sound
as I rode around the block and
began to sing the few words
I knew from the Archies song,
“Honey, honey, sugar, sugar”.
I sang, and bounced a little higher
on one certain slab of pavement
disrupted by maple tree roots.
At age seven, it had to be one
of the happiest moments of my life,
riding around the block alone
on the purple bike that I haven’t
seen since she sold it at a yard sale.
Fish Market, by Larry Lawrence
Sinewy little cats, matted hair,
nicks, cuts on pointy faces,
gnawed tails fly proudly like flags.
No one’s pets anymore,
but plenty of love from folks
on vacation buying scallops,
shrimp, lobster tails, slabs of
flounder packed in chips of ice.
Lined up by the double doors,
on creosote coated railroad ties
that frame the crowded lot
paved with crushed clam shells.
dusty cars from Pennsylvania,
Maryland, New York, Jersey too.
Sea gulls on the roofline squawk,
jealous because I feed scraps
of bluefish, scrounged from puddles
on concrete floor near filet tables
coated in fish scales that resemble
my baby cousin’s finger nails.
I can still smell the salt air, marshland,
murky bilge water and my grandfather’s
El Producto all baked together into one
by the gleaming sunshine of mid-August.
Larry Lawrence was born and raised in South Jersey. He left his
hometown to attend Rutgers University and studied playwriting at Mason
Gross School of the Arts. Currently he teaches Gifted and Talented
students in several elementary schools. He has been writing and
reading poems for many years. He travels frequently to locations in
the Southeastern United States. Being a committed writer, avid father
and devoted sports fan are essential to his life.
Forced Lesson of Survival, by A. J. Huffman
The clock sounds its watch
as I wait through the hours of mourning.
My thoughts gather in misty clouds
beneath my feet.
And an infinite journey unravels before me.
I watch as roads branch,
jetting their arms,
their willingness to follow
as it maps a foothold of song.
It calls me from every direction.
I am jerked forward and yanked back
until I break.
My soul falls like crumbs
to mark the path
and calls the winged beasts from their perch.
They flock to me
but refuse to eat.
Instead, they pinch bits between their beaks,
returning me to their nests.
And their children.
A. J. Huffman is a Poet and Freelance Writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has previously published work in literary journals, in the U.K. as well as America, such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Eastern Rainbow, Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, The intercultural Writer's Review, Icon, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.
Noise, by Michael Brownstein
You bundle your words into growls
and pitch them against the scars of others.
Aren't you the grand one able to build
bonfires and lightning storms and one time
a great tornado. It is no wonder
plagues move away from you, history
Listen to how you walk, my child,
words have nations behind them,
a cruelty that comes of guns and roses.
Listen to when you run, my child,
words are warlords, thick walls spiked into soil,
hard rock, cavities.
You hold a mustard gas strength,
a calcium storm, an ability to break breath,
but someone will end the horror, remove the fracture,
and, yes, child, let your words scamper like light
in soft drizzle, like light in translucdent clouds,
like the butterfly awakening on the leaf,
the wind still, its cocoon empty,
every anger in voice someplace else.
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, After Hours, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review and others. In addition, he has eight poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005).
Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city; studies authentic African instruments; continues to conduct grant-writing workshops for educators and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.
Snakes and Ladders, by Sofiul Azam
(for Burt Kimmelman)
Crazy as I went off for Snakes and Ladders
at eight, I was scared of snakes, especially those
imagined to be under my cot or the one
slipping into Behula’s chamber. Water
snakes I saw wriggling in thick hyacinths
on our backyard pond. At Grandpa’s,
tales even of the rat snakes scared me
quick into quilts. Snake-charmers swarmed –
often in groups like bees – to our little town,
with cobras, pythons and the green ones
terrifyingly beautiful in straw-baskets.
I watched some of them hooded in awe,
and hissing. Back home, I pestered my cousins
and later quarreled with them for the last
square first, avoiding snake-bites that bring
you down to a zero. Every bit of it is true.
In theology, Adam and Eve the serpent’s
disciples bit at the forbidden apple, and thrown
out of heaven, knew more things worth knowing.
(I confess Salt Hon and I made love – in
sweat, arms and legs twined around each other.)
THANKS to Snake, thou art not mythical alone.
Thy image is the Savior’s for the Gnostics,
Apollo’s in the Pytho temple at Delphi,
the Egyptian Ra’s, too. The Aztecs’ called thee
‘feathered serpent.’ The Mesoamericans’
Toltecs, too. Mesopotamians’ immortality cults,
Nirvana by Buddha’s king of the serpents.
And then the Chinese dragon’s divinity thou art.
I wilt be worshiping thee till awe melts into wisdom.
I’m getting to know snakes in the ladders
that foreshadowed the fall in me. Too early!
Born in Sherpur District , Bangladesh , in 1981, Sofiul Azam has earned Honours and Masters in English Literature from Rajshahi University . He has authored three books of poetry titled Impasse, (Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh, 2003), Home Thoughts from Home (Dhaka: Ulukhar – Little Magazine Publication, 2009), In Love with a Gorgon (Aarhus: Les Editions du Zaporogue, 2010 and County Claire : Salmon Poetry, Jan 2012) and edited Short Stories of Selim Morshed, ( Dhaka : Ulukhar, 2009), Earth and Windows: New and Selected Poems ( County Claire : Salmon Poetry, 2012). His poems have appeared in literary magazines and journals across the world such as Poetry Magazine, Le Zaporogue, Catamaran, Lowe Prose & Poetics, Both Sides Now, The Journal, Orbis, The Cannon’s Mouth, Monkey Kettle, Forward Press, Conversation Poetry Quarterly, Boyne Berries, Deep South, Poetry Salzburg Review, Grey Borders, Postcolonial Text, Protocol, Trillium Literary Journal, The Cartier Street Review, Word Salad Poetry Magazine, Red River Review, Debris Magazine, The Flash Review, Apollo’s Lyre, and more. Sofiul lives in Dhaka and teaches English at Victoria University of Bangladesh, having taught it before at Southeast University and at Royal University of Dhaka.
West Coast Rock Tours, by Brian Anthony Hardie
at the existent withhold, drowning
Columbia carp, smiling in memory in
smelly high school scent, and withhold,
to leave it and me a sake taken to leave alone,
gypsy love lost on the mind flowing a rapid
end to a long fight not won.
exhausted interviews seen to the channels
thought to provide a comfort, not even
on the edge, forgotten in the ring of
a text message vibration. Scandalous
strings strum covers of cliche sounds
heard so often. My machine gun trigger
invites me to blast happy tension into the
eyes and ears for conventional speakers to
later mention when addressing a non-pleased
audience, attending only for the will to
be seen in the eyes of any name announced.
Back to the triggers... no, never mind. I am
done now with you here. The only
reason I continue aloof is because it feels
good to do so with this one pen I found. The
art gods to be fooled not, I am not
bowing down to any of your cunt blood
feet. My scribbles look of a font anorexic.
A little matter for observation
to keep the sun from rising today. There
are more worthless awakenings in my
internet screen than a
more reflected truth in a mirror shattering
before eyes, complete.
Brian is 25 years old and he has been writing passionately since the age of seven. He was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He now resides in southeast Portland. he has been published in over 50 small press journals/E-zines including The Pebble Lake Review, Conceit Magazine, AMULET, Hudson View, Decanto, Ditchpoetry, SALiT Magazine, DaveJarecki.com, WordSlaw.com, CynicMagazineOnline, VAZ!NE, Down In The Dirt Magazine, Expressions Online Literary Journal, Theinquisitionpoetry, Lone Stars Magazine, Pure Francis, BLAZE VOX, and Angel Exhaust. He reads annually at the 3 day Unregulated Word Poetry Festival in Kansas City alongside S.A. Griffin, and Scott Wannberg, among others. He will be starting a year long study with poet Mathew Dickman at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in September. He has been a musician for 16 years, recorded and released 4 records, one noise/spoken word album, and tour the States playing music. You can listen to his band Fair Stand The Fields Of France at http://www.myspace.com/farestandthefieldsoffrance. Brian's favorite color is red.
Second Wife, by Risa Denenberg
She slips into his chamber, flits
through catalogs, sips Chardonnay.
A decade younger and never married,
she plans a June wedding, all sweetpeas
and lilacs, parents flanking her sides.
On the other aisle, supplanting the lost rank,
the orphaned groom’s aging sister spots
his discomfiture, aches for his half-orphaned
sons, appraises her wardrobe, schedules
a pedicure, flies from new coast to old.
Deadpan moving men haul large items
of furniture between two houses,
foretelling an eviction. Will the new fabric
hold, basted onto these washed-out garments?
Displacement is how we must measure.
Risa Denenberg is a nurse practitioner living in Seattle.
Tail, by Paul Hostovsky
The truth is I had no idea
till it got stepped on. Pain
spun me around, and I found it there
smarting. I picked it up
and examined it with
a little disgust, and then
with a growing interest.
I carried it home in my arms.
Days passed. Years.
I grew used to the way it
followed me around,
watching me attentively
as I ate, read, slept, made love.
It would curl up in a circle
on the foot of my bed, one eye
closed and one on me.
I began to teach it
simple, clever, amusing tricks,
like standing erect with a thing
balanced on its tip. People
took notice. They smiled
approvingly. Some threw
money. Some said brilliant.
Some said genius. Applause
rained down. And flowers.
Paul Hostovsky's latest book of poems is Dear Truth (2009). To read more of his work, visit his website at www.paulhostovsky.com.
Air Sirens, by Jake Hajer
To propeller sunset air sirens,
cicadas boil their insides.
Crickets wail in opposite
of bird chirps. Sparrows hum
with a smirk, worn out
with tired wings hanging.
Bushes wave off with limp rustling
And wobbling, shrug lazy-
Clouds silently shuffle
away in shame reinventing themselves in the
floating throat guttural patience.
Rubber races as ripped paper sounds
through the divide as bombs
Carrying as far as anything can go
what will eventually be garbage.
Dirty supernovas make lefts and rights
in circles; Tail lights
hold sunsets in plastic.
Jungle Mausoleum, by Jake Hajer
(Paarl, South Africa)
Owls scratch a black board
with a child’s scream. They cross
with bats. Water drips
in every sink. There’s a background hiss
in the hot dark. With no artificial light,
It’s darker between the trees.
Rotting fruit of fall-
Moonlight makes it-
Curtains To concrete,
walls contoured as flesh.
Rock floors echo
the scurry of bugs
Trying to get to garbage;
The dishes in the sink;
the warmth of your hard bed.
The dust settles before you can rest
There are locked gates on every exit
In the jungle mausoleum
in the thick grass.
Don’t let your blackened feet
stick out. Roll away
from ghosts and toward the white
noise of the fan.
Jake Hajer is a Texan who graduated from the University of Chicago. -Was salted and cold in that ice, observed the dirty-beautiful in San Francisco, made wine in South Africa, got lost in India, now reaches out from the Appalachian foothills. His poetry has recently been published in over a dozen journals including: Ditch, FriGG, Psychopoetica, Rogue Scholars, and Chickenpinata.