A Letter to Orlando, by Tom Sheehan

All day the cold is a secret
of my fleece-lined jacket
and the bottom of my mittens.

The senseless wind, without any
direction and purposeless,
gets hung up in the muffler

I wear as some corrective device,
thick and wooly and itchy,
around my neck. Itís the one

You left in my van the last winter
we cut wood in Oaklandvale
and waded through a final white tide

Until we fell exhausted.
You used to laugh about wood
heating twice. Now youíve gone south,

and only I can hear the cry
of the oak as it lets go
and throws the earth out of kilter.

I walked quietly there yesterday,
snow thrown like paint everywhere
except on the sun side,

Gray birches, easy in the wind,
made me think of Finnish ski troops
the Russians didnít like around.

I suppose there are pieces
of the battlefield left down south,
but I bet you think of here

When a cool wind grabs your neck,
an old jacket lets out secrets,
your fingers remember wood,

And all across a sunset sky,
falling downhill to your ears,
a chainsawís evening prayers.

Sheehanís books are Epic Cures and Brief Cases, Short Spans, Press 53, NC; A Collection of Friends and From the Quickening, Pocol Press, VA. His work appears in Home of the Brave, Stories in Uniform and Milspeak Anthology, Warriors, Veterans, Family and Friends Writing the Military Experience. He has 14 Pushcart nominations, Noted Stories for 2007 and 2008, Georges Simenon Fiction Award, and is included in Dzanc Best of the Web Anthology for 2009 and nominated for Best of the Web 2010 and 2011. He has 175 short stories on Rope and Wire Magazine. Print issues include Rosebud (3) , Ocean Magazine (7) among others. He has hundreds of internet publications of prose and poetry, and has published 3 novels (An Accountable Death, Vigilantes East, and Death for the Phantom Receiver, a football mystery) and 5 poetry collections including This Rare Earth and Other Flights; Ah, Devon Unbowed; The Saugus Book; Reflections from Vinegar Hill. He served with the 31st Infantry Regiment, Korea, 1951.

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

Parnassus ii, by Sergio Antonio Ortiz

A bit down mountain, shadowed by an overhanging
cliff, I watch a cataract run like whiskey

down a dry throat of rusted rock
and remember every time I reveled
in diving down
as far down as the dive would take
me, the spume that wakes
a fallís path, rising above
me, the exhaust of my leaving,

now the skin of my childhood
as I stand mid-mountain.

The day you left Parnassus, and broke out howling.

The tempting tender racemes
of my skin crumbled

like an invitation
to dust and its tomb,

full of funeral bouquets, tore
and shagged natureís
perverse angels.

At the abyss of their mangrove
I ate their carnivorous
flowers mistaking them
for the hush
of placenta,

then threw myself off Pegasus
to step down from that muscled
back, to eye the sweeping shadow
of wings that once raised
me to shade cars and streets

as if I were a leaf batted
by the wind, an echo of the embryonic
waves I continue to sail,
it's the swing of my gait.

I'm grounded in the certainty
my steps contain reason.

There is, there must be,
a sidereal hole for reason
where we lose all grief
and invent new ways
of decadence,
a new today
(not of this world)
in the city.

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

These Gangrenous Days, by Sergio Antonio Ortiz

There are two of us. One soft and white, the other unbreakable,
yet forgetful. These days I never blame them.

heís been
iron butterfly
dipped in lavender
mother of
his Lesbos island

grape picker
whose stalks are buried
deep in my valley
he fears the evening Angel
of forbidden words

his heart is a turquoise
ocean from where he calls
his name
Cavafy, I am tearing
down these walls

for any man as fragmented as you
should be able
to satisfy
my need for strong tropical flowers
penetrating my coffin

Ortiz is a retired educator, painter, poet, and photographer. He has a B.A. in English literature, and a M.A. in philosophy. Flutter Press released his debut chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk, October 2009. Ronin Press released his second chapbook, Topography of a Desire, May 2010. Avantacular Press released his first photographic chapbook: The Sugarcane Harvest, May 2010. His third chapbook: Bedbugs in My Mattress, will be released by Flutter Press, November 2010. He was recently published, or is forthcoming in: Fried Eye, Shot Glass Journal, Cavalier Literary Couture, and Touch: The Journal of Healing. He is a three-time nominee to the 2010 Sundress Best of the Net Anthology, and a three time 2010 Pushcart Nominee.

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

Buried Alive, by Kyle Hemmings

They absconded with your life
once so luxuriant in Shady Grove
& reassigned you to a Sing Sing
of underground trains
that no longer run on time.
In the tunnels that forced you
to squint at a pinpoint of light,
you concocted a plan.
You bribed the guards with
a poison they thought was hash.
You grew strong on the soot
of your intent.
Then you kept climbing,
lifting manhole covers,
chasing away abandoned umbrellas,
reaching up & pulling the sun
into your bed.

Now thereís no longer a reason
for you to wake up.

Kyle Hemmings lives in New Jersey. In his spare time, he reads poems to pissed off cab drivers. He has a new chapbook of poems from Punkin Press titled Fuzzy Logic, and an e-chapbook titled Avenue C, from Scars Publications.

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

The Torch, by John Sibley Williams

Be with me, Kabir,
when the gray clouds bring their far-away greetings
in that language of storm.

Translate upon my hardened fingers
what they have done, upon my heart
what it stubbornly loved.

Weave me a thin russet blanket
I can vanish into each night,
trek unseen the dream sands as a Bedouin,

with a torch I can call sun.
But keep its fabric lithe
so I recognize through it dayís light.

Tell me just enough of the truth
that I continue battling up the mountain,
just enough and no more

water, so I still thirst,
love, so I still desire,
shadow, so I still weep.

John is a poet and book publicist residing in Portland, OR. He has a previous MA in Writing and presently studies Book Publishing at Portland State University, where he serves as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for Three Muses Press. His poetry was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize, and his debut chapbook, A Pure River, was published in 2010 by The Last Automat Press. Some of his over 100 previous or upcoming publications include: The Evansville Review, Rosebud, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, Euphony, Open Letters, Cadillac Cicatrix, Juked, The Journal, Hawaii Review, Cutthroat, The Furnace Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Aries, and River Oak Review. His blog is at: http://jswilliamspoetry.blogspot.com and his website is at http://TheArtOfRaining.com

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

Ethereal Sun Porch Flux, by R. G. Johnson

bare sunlight weaves a silent spell.
I become flame to escape her dense burn.
the demon doesnít flinch. just sleeps.
the angel cries harsh dejection, and
somehow, her misery seems beautiful.

are we one free? or three caged?
days of water smooth sediment into rock.
dark raven, pure dove, daft monkey
share this imperfect cadaver.
union of abstract thoughts harmonized.
inward tribal dance.

cloud hand smothers solar mouth.
quiet fire fades back into frigid noise.
glacial crack, rattled shell, metered hammer
all tucked into an acceptable life-form
who canít remember which face he wears
or in which fist he clenches salvation.

R.G. Johnson lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Thereís a beautiful and misguided woman who lives there with him. He writes offensive poetry and psycho-billy music. He is a negative and ornery misfit with whom normal folks donít associate. Rumor has it that he can speak to alligators with his mind. He has most recently been published or accepted for future publication in The Clockwise Cat, Gutter Eloquence, Opium Poetry 2.0, Black-Listed Magazine, Negative Suck, Aberrant Journal, Paradigm Journal, Burning Houses and Poetry Monthly International.

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

Pink Moon, by Colin James

I found your cellphone camera
amongst some fast food litter.
I return it to you now
after a little detective work, and
having come to a greater appreciation
of the human body's stamina.
The picture of your many friends
was particularly invigorating.
Please pardon my personal emphasis.

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

Whatever Lies Between the Big and Little Dipper, by Tyler Bigney

Lifeís too short for long walks,
bird watching, and memorizing
whatever galaxy hangs between
the big and little dipper.

I prefer to lay on my hammock
sipping from a can of Guinness and
watching the neighbours barn
burn down. Watching firefighters
scramble to put it out.

I lay like that until dusk turns
into blackness. The fire long
burned out. The firefighters
gone home to housewives and
ham dinners.

I turn to my side.
The stars peek out -
one by one.
But I donít look up.

Tyler Bigney was born in 1984. He lives and writes in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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

Rest If You Must, But Don't Quit, by Joseph Farley

Words I once read
on the back of a pickup truck
owned by a born again Christian
who lived in an apartment
across the hall with his lady.
He made a big deal
of how religious he was,
used to see him carrying a bible.
He urged me to come with him
to his church on Wednesday nights
to learn about the Lord.

In addition to Jesus
he liked Jim Morrison.
He would blast The Doors
night and day
from the stereo in his truck
and the one in his unit.
I found it a strange combination
since Morrison had converted
to voodoo.
Mr. Mojo kept raising
and going to work
in construction.
He'd come home tired
and covered with mud
and dust from cement,
but always found time
to say hello if he saw me.

There were some nights
he did not get home
until after I was in bed,
and on some of those
occasions he
came home drunk
and used his girlfriend
as a punching bag.
I remember her screams.
He'd crank up The Doors
to drown out her shrieks,
but I heard both
the music and the pain.
I never called the police,
but other tenants did.
All I can say is
I was young.

She never left him
while I was living there,
but he was one of the reasons
that for me moving.
I wonder every now and then
whether they stayed together,
or if one of both of them
wound up in the morgue
or in prison. I also wonder
about the words on the truck.
Did that phrase spray painted
with a stencil mean anything to him,
or did the words come with the truck
when he bought it used?

It was a good motto,
ďRest If you must, but don't quit.Ē
I've used it myself sometimes,
when I'm tired and need
to put down a burden
or step away from my morals
until I'm ready
to get back in the harness
and carry my load.

Joseph Farley edited The Axe Factory Review for 24 years. His books include Suckers, For The Birds, and Longing for the Mother Tongue.

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

What is Art?, by William Doreski

You look tentative as scripture
written in snow. You hands fold
and unfold like paper airplanes.
The small crowd feels too focused,
too attentive to understand
your casual nuances, the ones
that matter. The plastic chairs
conform to many competing
sizes and shapes of buttocks.

Discussing Tolstoy's What is Art?
embalms you with effort and sways
the listeners into a frenzy
of questions. They raise their hands
with childish energy. They laugh
because Tolstoy makes them nervous
with his brittle lichenoid beard
and undignified public death.

Someone declares self-reflection
the purpose art imposes.
Someone else declares that Western
notions of art don't apply
to Lakota cultural ideals.
Someone further claims that narrative
falsifies by smoothing out
the details, while yet another
pedant claims it complicates.

You sail above the discussion
you incited, the antique ring
of agate huge on your finger
a talisman you could wield
to silence everyone at once
if you weren't a little too shy
and proud of the simple effect
created by parsing a dead man
and doling him among your peers.

William's work has appeared in various e- and print journals and in several collections, most recently Waiting for the Angel (Pygmy Forest Press, 2009).

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

Depressed, by Eric G. MŁller

The black case is
Closed,
The six strings donít
Vibrate,
Nor the others, the 3, 4 and
More;
And all those vinyl records lie
Untouched
In the basement next to the trap-set Ė
Dismantled.
Pipes, whistles and flutes remain
Unaired.
My room has turned into a
Mausoleum.
My peace is
Gone.
And I wait and pace for
Something;
Some thing to resurrect the
Dead.

Eric G. MŁller is a musician, teacher and writer. He has published two novels as well as a collection of poetry, and numerous short stories. His website is at: http://www.ericgmuller.com

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

Taunt and Worldly, by Ron Koppelberger

Late in the day and pausing in the stray stature
Of refrain and consort, a tincture of cerulean sobriety
And mischief, the measure and ado in whatís rewarded
By beauty and revolution by poise and loveís end.
A defiant child, an awkward allure attested,
Turned taunt and worldly.

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

Shadow Play, by Ron Koppelberger

Embellished by the songs of quiet wardship and silent
Affection, an unstoppable love borne of
Saffron seed and dandelion smears of butter, blood by youth
And perfumed passion, a conscious reception done in
Revolutions embrace, the sapphire eyed gaze
Of a desire in simple tethers of
Betrothal, the heavens and nods of
Consent, by well worn crushes in
Shadow play.

Ron has been published in The Storyteller, Ceremony, Write On!!!, Freshly Baked Fiction and Necrology Shorts. He recently won the Peopleís Choice Award for poetry in The Storyteller for a poem titled "Secret Sash". He is a member of The American Poetís Society as well as The Isles Poetry Association.

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

A Match, by Robert Wexelblatt

By abrasion lit
to flare in glory,
greedy for air with
which to declare
a nature that is
to burn itself up
and spare nothing of
its rare and fragile
life, a concise prayer
to lucidity
there in my bare hand
which takes care with fire,
that is aware of
risks too vast to bear,
precariousness,
where extinction waits.
While it burns I stare.

Robert Wexelblatt is professor of humanities at Boston Universityís College of General Studies. He has published essays, stories, and poems in a wide variety of journals, two story collections, Life in the Temperate Zone and The Decline of Our Neighborhood, a book of essays, Professors at Play; his recent novel, Zublinka Among Women, won the Indie Book Awards First Prize for Fiction.

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

Ringing Bells, by John Grey

Bells ring out on a snow-capped morning.
Silver timbre jolts the chill out of the air.
People fill the streets, drab moods chimed clear
by sweet-note pealing from above.
Under skyís blue dome, crisp air resonates.
A child grasps sound and runs with it.
A couple hug, take the clang to heart.
An old man finds a step in healthy reverberation..
In one celestial song of joy,
a womanís thoughts dingdong from hurt to hope.
The cityís a garrulous carillonneur.
Its bell tolls for all.

John Grey has been published in The Talking River, Kestrel, South Carolina Review and Karamu with work upcoming in Prism International and Big Muddy.

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

Bamboo, by Changming Yuan

With your hair-like roots
Holding the earth so tightly
You stand straight
Even during a summer storm

Thin as your body
You keep an open mind
For all secrets of growth
Between your heart-ringed joints

Despite your slim leaves
You are full of spirits
Ever so clean
Ever so green

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

Cyclic Creation, by Changming Yuan

Just as an egg
Hatched out a chicken
Well before a chicken
Lays down an egg

God created man
In his image
Long after man invented God
After his likeness

Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and Politics and Poetics (2009), is a two-time Pushcart nominee who grew up in a remote Chinese village and authored several books before moving to Canada. Currently Yuan works in Vancouver and has had poems appearing in Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, Cliterature, London Magazine and more than 300 other literary publications in 15 countries.

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

Missing, by Gary Beck

Often in the midnight silence
I wander on a desolate path
along the East River .
I lean upon the dank and frigid railing
that bars me from the river
and listen to the night-noise.
A chugging tug-boat
pulling heavy-laden barges,
rends the night
with its whistleís plaintive screech,
while I watch the river
flowing to the sea
and remember you.

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His chapbook Remembrance was published by Origami Condom Press, The Conquest of Somalia was published by Cervena Barva Press, The Dance of Hate was published by Calliope Nerve Media and Material Questions was published by Silkworms Ink, Mutilated Girls is being published by Bedouin Press and Dispossessed is being published by Medulla Press. A collection of his poetry Days of Destruction was published in by Skive Press. Another collection Expectations was published by Rogue Scholars press. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway and toured colleges and outdoor performance venues. His poetry has appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City .

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

Montmartre, by Lyn Lifshin

Havenít you wanted, sometimes, to
walk into some painting, start a new
life? The quiet blues of Monet would
soothe but I donít know how long Iíd
want to stay there. Today Iím in the
mood for something more lively,
say Lautrecís Demimonde. I want
that glitter, heavy sequin nights.
You take the yellow sunshine.
I want the club scene that takes
you out all night. Come on,
wouldnít you, just for an evening or
two? Gaslights and absinthe, even
the queasy night after dawn. Wouldnít
you like to walk into Montmartre
where everything you did or
imagined doing was de rigueur,
pre-Aids with the drinkers and
artists and whores? Donít be so P.C.,
so righteous youíd tell me you havenít
imagined this? Give me the Circus
Fernando, streets where getting stoned
was easy and dancing girls kick high.
Itís just the other side of the canvas,
the thug life, a little lust. It was good
enough for Van Gogh and Lautrec,
Picasso. Canít you hear Satie on the
piano? You wonít be able to miss
Toulouse, bulbous lips, drool. Could
you turn down a night where glee
and strangeness is wide open? Think
of Bob Dylan leaving Hibbing. A little
decadence canít hurt. I want the swirl
of cloth under changing colored lights,
nothing square, nothing safe, want to
can can thru Paris, parting animal
nights, knees you canít wait
to taste flashing

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

Stretching Instead, by Roger Bernard Smith

there my heels click over your concrete slabs
donít you wonder how many feet have taken this patch
knocking then stepping away

as the sky bears the freightage from another coast
my shoe adds to alluvial dusting
as eyes meeting in front of red neon

advertising all-night-nails no-appointment-necessary
Iíve added loess and still manage to look away
a carryall cloud hinges on blank wind

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

The Trick of the Hotel Elevator, by Paul Handley

The elevator in my building
is a magicianís chest.
As the cape doors block me
off from the audience,
I face forward and donít
make eye contact, so focused am I
on returning the same person upon exit,
which hasnít happened yet. I am little
threat to the sorcererís powers of transformation.

I feel the camera scoping me,
waiting for a weakness to wink at
the security guard, balefully regarding my
intentions to injure his building,
such as punching a floor button with enough
precision and force to chip out a chunk,
creating a mutant souvenir of this
monument to the hotel occupying the bottom 10 floors.
Its logo glimmers across the city.

Work mode lassos me as I leave
the elevator. I shed frivolity,
clipping the back of my left ankle as it drops,
and the stench of originality drips
from an elbow as I open the door, to a cubicle maze.
I see the wand waved with a flourish
of ta-da and mockery, then yanked
with theatrical speed back into the elevator.

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

Nightscape in White, by A. J. Huffman

"If you believe the dead send messages,
here is your punishment"
-- Nicole Cooley

This jungle is blind.
And deaf.
But only at the corners
that grapple
with the parachute
trailing behind me
in rags.

I fall to all fours,
the only language I know,
and pray for the wild wisdom
of the trees.
But only the lightning answers.
Its sexy rumble
rolling me
into my own cocoon.

And in the glare
of this new shell,
I understand.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has previously published her 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.

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

Legacy, by Beau Boudreaux

Winks from my mother across the dinner
table at first brushed off

the emphasis more frequent
wave over wave of more verbal detailó

seems she catalogued things
they owned, art and the cities

purchasedóhints a history, best of record
for when they passó

and my father for years never
mentioned or brought this

up until the fall revealing combinations
for locks and directions to turn

knobs, handles into his worldó
wine cellar beneath sea level

sailboat moored at the marina
opening the green lake.

Beau is a poet and professor in Continuing Studies in New Orleans. He has appeared in Antioch Review Review, Cream City Review and Margie.

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

Women Undefiled by Lara Dolphin

Daughters of Tahirih,
your sisters from across the Earth
call to you.
Stitch your hope to your heart.
You are not that name
such as your lord did say you were.
Cast off your mantle of servitude,
and shout to the sky.
The man with the knife who comes in the night
cannot mangle your dreams.
The rituals of power
cannot excise your soul.

Lara Dolphin is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in such publications as Word Catalyst Magazine, River Poets Journal, The Foliate Oak Literary Journal and Calliope.

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

Sequential I, by Christina M. Rau

Iíve been seeking the point
where you and I
no longer exist
as you and I,
where the separate space
dissipates
where the outlying
borders blur.
Iím seeking the point
where only scalpel and saw
could again make two
where only a fair amount
of chains could keep
seemingly together apart.
I seek the point
where returning to original corners
is an option not sought
where colors and flags
all have the same meaning
where even space and time
have no division sign
between them
where math equations
are solved
by love.

Christina M. Rau is a professor of English at Nassau Community College and the founder of Poets In Nassau, a reading circuit on Long Island, NY. Her poetry most recently appeared in Potomac Review and River Poets Journal, and she is guest-editor of the 2011 forthcoming Long Island Sounds Anthology. She loves moonbeams, puppies, and of course, sarcasm.

A Letter to Orlando, by Tom Sheehan

Parnassus ii, by Sergio Antonio Ortiz

These Gangrenous Days, by Sergio Antonio Ortiz

Buried Alive, by Kyle Hemmings

The Torch, by John Sibley Williams

Ethereal Sun Porch Flux, by R. G. Johnson

Pink Moon, by Colin James

Whatever Lies Between the Big and Little Dipper, by Tyler Bigney

Rest If You Must, But Don't Quit, by Joseph Farley

What is Art?, by William Doreski

Depressed, by Eric G. MŁller

Taunt and Worldly, by Ron Koppelberger

Shadow Play, by Ron Koppelberger

A Match, by Robert Wexelblatt

Ringing Bells, by John Grey

Bamboo, by Changming Yuan

Cyclic Creation, by Changming Yuan

Missing, by Gary Beck

Montmartre, by Lyn Lifshin

Stretching Instead, by Roger Bernard Smith

The Trick of the Hotel Elevator, by Paul Handley

Nightscape in White, by A. J. Huffman

Legacy, by Beau Boudreaux

Women Undefiled by Lara Dolphin

Sequential I, by Christina M. Rau

Visit The Biographical Poet

All poems are copyright of their respective authors.

Exercise Bowler, editor, Julie Kovacs. 2010-2016