Music Appreciation, by Michael Keshigian

He asked them
to take the music outside,
listen as they held it toward the sky,
let the wind rattle its stems,
or place the sheet against an ear
to hear a tune
through the hollow of its shell.
He told them to jog
the parameters of the staves,
walk the winding road of its clef
and imagine living there.
Perhaps they could drop a feather
upon the musicís resonance,
follow its float among the timbres,
or ski the slopes of musical peaks,
gliding unencumbered into its valleys,
then thank the composer
for varying the landscape
when they left the lodge.
But the class was determined
to stalk each phrase,
analyze chords for manipulation, cunning
and seek the hidden form.
They handcuffed the notes
to the music stand,
even flogged the melody
with a drum mallet,
until it whistled a meaning
never intended.

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

Synergist, by Michael Keshigian

All day
Iíve listened to the song
of a single cardinal

ripple stillness
just outside my office window.
An opera in red tux

his throat is a spring
stretching an aria
through the cluttered house

of sound, awakening memories
of events since past.
The timbre enlivens my heart.

I can almost touch
what once was
as it floats between

song and wind. An inflection
so crisp, that Iím convinced
the cardinal sings for more

than to merely texture
the commotion. His tune
incites another gift.

He performs daily,
tireless and without hoarseness,
to make sad hearts flutter.

MICHAEL KESHIGIANís sixth collection of poems, Jazz Face, was recently released by Big Table Publishing Co. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications including California Quarterly, Barbaric Yawp, Tipton Poetry Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, Sierra Nevada College Review, and Ibbetson Street Press. He has been a feature writer for The Aurorean, Poetree Magazine, Chantarelleís Notebook, Bellowing Ark, Pegasus Review,The Illogical Muse, interviewed by Boston Literary Magazine (http://bostonliterarymagazine.com/fall07interview.html) and Readerís Choice in the Fairfield Review. He is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee. His website is www.michaelkeshigian.com.

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

Intimate Shell, by Max West

People walk through
My way of watching them,
Making waves in my mood
While crossing the street
They step inside
Or bridge away

In smoking they breathe
Out my exhales
And give me resilience
Just leaning against a tree

Their conversations become music
When Iím not listening for specifics-
Fast or slow drumbeats-
A synchronicity of inner world
Connections where I am

Like weíre all inside
The same egg crate and yet
I have this intimate, solitary
Shell that keeps breaking
Me into them

Max West is a creative writer, musician, and graduate of UC Davis, who has published articles, a book entitled Fourteen Months and Two Weeks Downtown: A Fictional Documentary with Names Changed to Protect the Guilty, poems and books of poetry, including Professions, Pocket Poems Vol. 1, and Semi-Serious Multi-Faceted Flowering Wheel Poem. He resides in Sacramento, California.

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

My Best Friends, by William Leer

Isolation, must you continue to stay?
Am I not worthy of another company?
Remove your cowl from about my head
Let another recognize my face
Oh how I have tried to push you away,
But you stayed true to me, my friend.

Grief, I hear you still crying
Unwilling to let your feelings go
Another day shrouded in tears
And a future so bleak and dark
Oh how I have tried to push you away,
But you stayed true to me, my friend.

Misery, yet again your by my side
Protecting me from the pain of laughter
Such a true friend you are to me
Who needs happiness when I have you
Oh how I have tried to push you away,
But you stayed true to me, my friend.

Anger, Never will I own a thing
Because you're there to break and take them away
Feed me with intoxicants to bury the pain
And release it all in a fit of rage
Oh how I have tried to push you away,
But you stayed true to me, my friend.

Life, How could you let a child suffer this way
Have you no shame at all
I only ask for one favor
Take me back, allow me to begin again
Alas, time cannot be reversed,
And I am left here with my best friends.

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

Believe Me or Not, by Vivekanand Jha

Believe me or not
I speak as I suffered
But not preach
The world has been
Only to those
Who are happy and glee.
On the mistake of others
Donít show your teeth
And to be laughed at
Donít give any width.
Once they come to know
You are a beggar and you beseech
Men are such a bee
They would suck the left over blood
Like a leech.
So this is a lesson
One must learn and teach
Even in poverty looks like a rich
For this you donít need
Any investment and fee.

Vivekanand Jha is a poet and research scholar from Darbhanga, Bihar, India. He is Diploma in Electronics, Certificate in Computer Hardware and Networking, MA in English, and is also doing Ph. D on the poetry of the noted Indian English poet Jayanta Mahapatra from Lalit Narayan Mithila University Darbhanga. He is the author of four books of poetry: Hands Heave to Harm and Hamper, Spam: A Satire on E-Sex, Songs of Innocence and Adolescence, My Poems Falter and Fall and Time Moves Clockwise Only. His works have been widely published in the magazine round the world like Pagan Imagination, P & W (Poetry and Writing), Danse Macabre, Vox Poetica, Writing Raw, Whisper publication, Tribal Soul Kitchen, Winamop, Literature India, Mother Bird, Retort Magazine, and Holy Rose Review.

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

The Very Definition Of Wishful Thinking, by P. A. Levy

This could be the very definition
of twee, your little cottage industry
in our little cottage. The old sewing
machine sitting at the table chattering
away noisily as you feed it cotton
ginghams and candystripes or floral
prints. Every now and then the machine
suddenly comes to a stop.
You stop. Gaze out of the rain streaked
window across the field to the edge
of the woods, hoping to see deer
grazing or hares up on their haunches;
back to bobbins, returning the machine
into another huddle of non-stop gossip.

Iím in the armchair scribbling
lines on scraps of paper
as if Iím taking minutes, distant hand
dictation of the Singer and you
in conversation. The little smile
you bestow on every finished item,
Iíve noted that, as well as the caring way
you put them to one side and tuck them lovingly
into rows as if they were ready
for a little afternoon nap.

After dinner, when the machine
has stopped stitching zig-zags
and seams, youíre hand sewing
quilted wings onto angels with Shaker
smiles, or vintage mother of pearl
blouse buttons onto hearts
given body with wadding. Around
the blazing log stove we calculate
how many angels and stuffed
hearts it will take to buy a Georgian
farmhouse: for you a work room,
for me a study, a large kitchen , Aga,
and a scrubbed pine table. Making
halos out of rustic string;
the very definition of wishful thinking.

Born East London but now residing amongst the hedge mumblers of rural Suffolk, P.A.Levy has been published in many magazines, both on line and in print, from A Cappella Zoo to Zygote In My Coffee and many places in-between. He is also a founding member of the Clueless Collective and can be found loitering on page corners and wearing hoodies at www.cluelesscollective.co.uk

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

Harvest and Execute, by Aubrey Nesbitt

Addicts ruled by the fix
broken homes on the block
a job and uniform that don't pay
but slides
from the pocketbook to the bills
the threads of my clothing are tired
I'm losing weight to put aside
away out
I'll make it
away out
I'll make it with my blood and my sweat
in a hidden jar of hope
it grows as hours go by and wages visit

Neighboring skeleton fingers from hands stretched out
with questions like "Could ya spare a - "
and "Ya got a dollar"
fall silent and do not compute
on the transition from business to bed
I see my vision forming
taking pieces from my head
forming in front of me like the words I said
on the transition from business to bed
some day
I won't wake up
I'll just keep dreaming

Today
I'm on my way to work
and tomorrow looks the same
chiseling rocks picking up shifts
on break
I look at a catalog
with people with nice things
I wonder if they are as happy
as the still frame photos show
I'll have to find out to know
the hours and days blow by and by as
harvest and execute
give me my piece of pie
I'm moving on up

Aubrey Nesbitt is a 21 year-old military journalist.

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

Russian Motives, by Ilya Prints

My maple, beloved my maple,
you stand on a hillock, alone,
deep-frozen and knee-deep in snow.
What mysteries do you keep long nights,
when darkness abounds with frights?

Just recently fall here feasted,
in brilliant green-yellow colors.
With glowing gold-purple cover,
your powerful branches spread out.

In dreams, you have found your lovely
white-pearly slim birch, and fondly
you touched her thin twigs, and whispered
the secret well-cherished words.

Alone, seized by a blizzard,
I am like you, my maple,
I wander in white seas of snow
and sing songs to winter of April.

I feel the arrival of springtime,
and see light of good in my doom,
Iíll find strength to withstand bad weather,
my garden again will bloom.

Oh, maple! Beloved my maple,
you stand on a hillock, alone,
deep-frozen and knee-deep in snow.
What memories bother your soul?
What hopes or dreams do console you?

Ilya Prints is from St. Petersburg in Russia and currently lives in Boston. Prints enjoys writing short stories, fairy tales, and poetry.

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

Words Not, by Raj Sharma

Words not
as roses, thighs
bloom.

Bare
bones of words
drifting down

the desert
where curtains
of sand

sway
under the glare
of a harsh sun

and where
no sparkling springs
push
through the earth.

Raj Sharma has had twenty short stories and thirty poems and translations that have appeared in leading Indian magazines. Sharma has a short story titled ďSpringtime in BabylonĒ that appeared in The Sun and two poems are next month appearing in an upcoming issue of The Ascent Aspirations. Sharma is a retired professor of English who worked at universities in India, Iraq and the United States.

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

Old Acquaintance, by Matthew Roberts

My mind drifts back
when others are talking.
I remember an old acquaintance
that I used to share drinks with

a few years ago when money just meant beer.
Tomorrow Iíll ask a friend of
his nowadays whereabouts.
Heíll tell me, my old acquaintance

jumped off a bridge over
2 years ago Ė heís a long time gone.
ĎOh dearÖthatís too bad.í Iíll say,
and never think of him again.

Matthew Roberts is 33 and is from England. He works as an ESL teacher in Seoul, teaching adults English. When he is not teaching he loves reading Philip Larkin and Hugo Williams among many others. He has been published in several poetry magazines, such as Osprey Journal, Haggard and Hallo, Edison Literary Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, and Munyori and others.

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

My Dreams are Nothing but Crimson and Ocher, Vignettes and Stills by Tennae Maki

When the film began
haze stretched over the corners of the screen.
My eyelids could not have done a better job.

The room was made
into a dark cavity amongst cinder block walls.
I found myself holding my blankets close.

Never seemed to end
were the actors plastered onto the synthetic screen.
My shoulders have yet to release themselves.

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

Tenement Prominence, by Julie Kovacs

Blood dripping
with salt
down the face
from the eyes

onto the carpet
the tuxedo cat
red whiskers
purring deeply

never saw my tears
but she saw the void
in my face
expressionless
numb through emotional Novocaine
administered by social conformists.

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

Hello?, by Alan Britt

Death was calling
but hung up when I answered the phone.

A chorus of voices oozes like soft metal
from the back of my head.

A seagull retrieves a scrap of yellow silk
from a nearby Methodist bell.

Death calls back
to a Baltimore city payphone behind a rusted, dented,

accordion, phone-booth door crippled by arthritis.
The phone rings and rings, but no one answers.

Alan Brittís recent books are Greatest Hits (2010), Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). Brittís work also appears in the new anthologies, American Poets Against the War, Metropolitan Arts Press, Chicago/Athens/Dublin: 2009 and Vapor transatlŠntico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Econůmica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru, 2008. Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise and two formally feral cats.

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

Cold Gray, by Michael Lee Johnson

Below the clouds
forming in my eyes,
your soft eyes,
delicate as silk warm words,
used to support the love I held for you.
Cold, now gray, the sea tide
inside turns to poignant foam
upside down, separates-
only ghosts now live between us.
Yet, dream like, fortune-teller,
bearing no relation to reality-
my heart is beyond the sea now.
A relaxing breeze sweeps
across the flat surface of me.
I write this poem to you
neglectfully sacrificing our love.
I leave big impressions
with a terrible hush inside.
Gray bones now bleach with memories,
Iím a solitary figure standing
here, alone, along the shoreline.

Michael Lee Johnson is a poet and freelance writer and small business own of custom imprinted promotional products and apparel: Proman, from Itasca, Illinois. He is heavily influenced by: Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen, and Allen Ginsberg. His new poetry chapbook with pictures, titled From Which Place the Morning Rises, and his new photo versionof The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom are available at: Lulu.com. The original version of The Lost American: from Exile to Freedom, can be found at: Iuniverse.com. A new chapbook: Challenge of Night and Day, and Chicago Poems, by Michael Lee Johnson, is available through Lulu.com. He also has 2 previous chapbooks available at: Lulu.com.

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

My Brain, by Clarke E. Hingeford

I remember when my brain was young
ruthless
unemcumbered
dangling on a wire spaceship
passing manicmoons and
celestial hopefuls

my brain
drank down all
the milky grey
bouncing skull-
shaped bombs past
mindscapes of reason

now, my brain
sits with me
easy, poking fun
at all I imagined
real

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

Diana (Moon), by Clinton Van Inman

Drag your white skull beyond blind seas
that tumble dazed to you mono-eyed magic.
Go tell Neptune when the night is through.
Charm him, too, with your waxing and waning.
But you canít catch me with those veiled half smiles.
Your borrowed brilliance exposes you.
I know your darker side.
Go charm some other star struck rhapsodist.

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

Lightless, by Clinton Van Inman

Each year the light is less.
We can barely see it now
the faint necklace of
the Milky Way.

The old ones were wrong,
you know with their waxed fingers
pointing up like abandoned adobe.
Yet you know better in your cubical gardens
and half moth-eaten moons
you have arrived in
handcuffs.

Clinton Van Inman was born in England and is a graduate of San Diego State University. He teaches at a high school in Hillsborough County, Florida.

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

Awake, A Wake, Awake, by Michael Gebelein

Itís always been
hard for me to
identify with
things that are unknown.
To feel the embrace
from a different plane
of existence or consciousness
seems incorrect.
Iíve made a show
of tolerance and acceptance
so hopefully actions
really do tell more
to the world than words.
Leaning in closer
to see the world
with eyes like
a fortune teller on Miami Beach,
or a Baptist preacher in a small Southern town,
a gas station attendant in Cleveland.
Maybe theyíve got it figured out,
but for now Iíll just
lay in this bed with this piece of paper
on a Monday morning with the snow coming in from outside
and a ring of cigarette smoke over the end table.
Letting the world have a short glimpse
before throwing the curtains wide.

Michael Gebelein lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife. He can be reached at mcgebelein@gmail.com

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

It Is A Mouth, This Dawn by Tom Sheehan

It is a mouth, this dawn,
a gaping promise,
the open doors
of a strange barn.

Bees throb their
thick aching against
a sheetmetal sun
and draw out survival
like an ingot
from the forge.

All the maples wear
new brash green helmets
the springsmith
hammered out of winter.
One of them,
stripped by ants,
is numbed in its roots
by recollection
and leans into history.

For the first time,
at least for my listening,
the geese, sprung from
a southern bow,
heading home to
Ottowas, Crees, Blackfeet,
marshes and reed grasses
still frozen
in the backyard of the Earth,
are silent,

as a hammer rests
between strikes,
perhaps arched
as the silent horseshoe
at its apex
coming to be
a noisy ringer.

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.

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

Where Mrs. Oates Will Sit, by Donal Mahoney

Waiting in his Cadillac,
silver gray, Dr. Oates
swerves his lighter
to his green panatela.

Next to Dr. Oates
a poodle barks, right
where Mrs. Oates will sit,
a poodle silver gray,

the color Mrs. Oatesís hair will be
in moments now
when from the beauty shop
majestically she issues.

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.

Music Appreciation, by Michael Keshigian

Synergist, by Michael Keshigian

Intimate Shell, by Max West

My Best Friends, by William Leer

Believe Me or Not, by Vivekanand Jha

The Very Definition Of Wishful Thinking, by P. A. Levy

Harvest and Execute, by Aubrey Nesbitt

Russian Motives, by Ilya Prints

Words Not, by Raj Sharma

Old Acquaintance, by Matthew Roberts

My Dreams are Nothing but Crimson and Ocher, Vignettes and Stills by Tennae Maki

Tenement Prominence, by Julie Kovacs

Hello?, by Alan Britt

Cold Gray, by Michael Lee Johnson

My Brain, by Clarke E. Hingeford

Diana (Moon), by Clinton Van Inman

Lightless, by Clinton Van Inman

Awake, A Wake, Awake, by Michael Gebelein

It Is A Mouth, This Dawn by Tom Sheehan

Where Mrs. Oates Will Sit, by Donal Mahoney

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All poems are copyright of their respective authors.

Exercise Bowler, editor, Julie Kovacs. 2010-2016