John Muro, “Befitting Blue”

A life-long resident of Connecticut, John Muro is a graduate of Trinity College, Wesleyan University and the University of Connecticut. His professional career has been dedicated to environmental stewardship and conservation. In the Lilac Hour, John’s first volume of poems, was published last fall by Antrim House, and it is available on Amazon. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including Moria, Euphony, The French Literary Review, and River Heron.

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Befitting Blue

Such as the pale
Solvent leaking
From the periphery
Of sky or the brightly
Jeweled jay
Flushed to wires
Drooping like jowls
Between utility poles
Or the glass insulators
Set atop the crossbars
Like translucent
Chalices of ice.
Perhaps the sneeze
Of cornflowers stirring
In weedy plush or the
Sham enamel spilling
From the bucket of
Morning mussels
Warming a pair of
Damselflies—winged
Bobby pins—locked
In contorted wheel
The color and shape
Of the ring you
Returned in your final
Act of mercy last night.


Robert Nisbet, “Sleepover”

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has appeared in the USA in San Pedro River Review, Main Street Rag, Third Wednesday, Burningword Literary Journal, and many others. He has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize

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Sleepover

The game in Cardiff was the Grand Slam one
and on the train back Rhys keeled over.
The boys said, Put him under the seat for now,
save embarrassment, and then forgot about him,
so he woke in a siding way downline, midnight.

The guards found him, thought, Another drunk,
and carted him off to the waiting room, laid him
on a wooden bench, in recovery mode.

The first to nag at Rhys’s mind were the mice
(they breed in waiting rooms, under the floorboards)
and they called, Yip, yip, nip, nip, at his head.

But Rhys got through all that, until the blackbird
started to sing. It was daybreak and a truly beautiful
April day. Oh Day, Song, Life, such radiance,
sang the bird. I have sired and bred and built my nest,
he sang. I celebrate the universe in its entirety.
How glorious. Wake up, you lazy bastard.

Down in the greyer depths of Rhyssie’s mind
the tussle stormed, joy versus stinking head.
Then a saintly guard called Francis brought him coffee,
checked his cash, put him on a train back home.


Jared Carter, “Leather”

Jared Carter’s most recent book of poems, The Land Itself, is from Monongahela Books in Morgantown, West Virginia. He lives in Indiana.

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Leather

In essence, then, does she become
       your phantom limb
By drawing on these gloves? Benumbed,
       her touch within

Feels nothing of your body flensed.
       She disallows
Your counterclaim of innocence;
       surely by now

You can’t object, since, donned anew,
       you are but bling,
Entirely converted to
       a nameless thing.

 


 

 

 

Phil Wood, “Making Sense: A Seduction”

Phil Wood studied English Literature at Aberystwyth University. He has worked in statistics, shipping, and a biscuit factory. His writing can be found in various publications, including Autumn Sky Daily, Miller’s Pond, Snakeskin Poetry, and Poetry Pacific.

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Making Sense: A Seduction

It’s possible to know the truth
because the truth smells right. It’s sweet.

Listen with sleep. My voice will root
and find its soil. So take a bite.

What you see is what you will taste.
It’s touch that wets the light. Believe.

All further proof of me is false
like senseless thought delays this night.


Brenna Courtney, “Neighborhood Walkers”

Brenna Courtney studies at the University of Virginia.

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Neighborhood Walkers

There is some sweet scent, earthy
and dizzying, and the dark birds perform
pretty dives in the lowering light. It is too late
to take the path shrouded by rough bush
and honeysuckle, with its playground, and the fence
for the playground (the latter, dismantled,
stakes propped up into a sort of stout, pointed

fortress). One by one, the wide porches
unfold their legs, and pairs of rocking chairs
coax their owners to rest. The beckoned amble home
with their hands behind their backs, their postures
blanketed by silence. I take good care to
avoid them, though there is nothing
hostile in their eyes.

 


 

 

 

William Miller, “Guilt”

William Miller’s eighth collection of poetry, Lee Circle, was published by Shanti Arts Press in Maine in 2019. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Penn Review, the Southern Review, Shenandoah, and Prairie Schooner. He lives and writes in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

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Guilt

It was him, the neighbor kid—
he picked up the wounded bird,
threw it into the sky.

The bird fell down harder
the second time, thrown from
my hands, a blackbird

with wet feathers, a frightened
black eye. He fell to the sidewalk
and flapped for two boys’

sick pleasure. That was nature
in our cold suburb, our parents
cruel to us, each other.

His house was noisy, mine filled
with quiet hate like poison
from a gas stove.

It felt good to be cruel,
mock and maim something
weaker than myself…

but only for a few seconds,
frozen in that bird’s black eye.
The sky was indifferent,

flat, gray, like the floor
of a house where nothing
really lived, laughed or loved.


Emily Kingery, “Habitation”

Emily Kingery teaches courses in literature, writing, and linguistics at a small university in Iowa. Her work appears or is forthcoming in multiple journals, most recently Birdcoat Quarterly, CutBank, Quarter After Eight, and Trampoline, and she has been both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She serves on the Board of Directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a nonprofit organization that supports writers in the Quad Cities community.

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Habitation

The more you think about it,
there’s nothing to think about. You know
you can live without it.

Order water, lemon wedge. Sit
curled, disguised; the curve will show
the more you think about it.

Starve generously. Quit
coveting. If your limbs bow,
you can live. Without it,

you are less the fetus-pit.
The more you lose, you grow
the more you. Think about it:

you, hollowed comfit,
mother minus mother-glow.
You can. Live without it.

Bite the peel and suck. Spit.
Deny it and you know
you can live without it all
the more. You think about it.

 


 

 

 

Bethany Reid, “Irish Cows”

Bethany Reid’s Sparrow won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize. Her recent poetry books are Body My House (Goldfish Press, 2018), and The Thing with Feathers, which was published as part of Triple No. 10 by Ravenna Press (2020). She lives in Edmonds, Washington, and blogs at http://www.bethanyareid.com.

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Irish Cows

On the winding road up the coast to Dingle
cows stop traffic, their black and white flanks,
their billowing udders, pink muzzles,
sturdy jaws chomping as they walk,
ponderous unwieldy boats jostling

one another in a narrow passage.
Our rental car is small and white,
splashed with mud. It might be one
of their kind. The cowman raises his stick
in greeting, gives us a wink.

We are one car in a long row of cars.
Far back a car horn honks. Always, this discontent
with being human. One cow flicks her tail
and trots a few bold steps, then settles back
among her kin and trudges on.

 


 

 

 

Cheryl Snell, “Wrong Word”

Cheryl Snell’s poetry collections include chapbooks from Finishing Line Press, Pudding House, and Moira Books. A full length volume, Prisoner’s Dilemma, in collaboration with the late expressionist artist Janet Snell, won the Lopside Press Chapbook Competition. Cheryl’s work has appeared often, online and in print, and has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart and Best of the Net anthologies. Her most recent work is the novel Kalpavriksha, the final part of a series about the India diaspora. She lives with her husband in Maryland, twelve miles from the Capitol.

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Wrong Word

Pink muscle
dangling syllable.
pinch it; damp sandpaper.
What to listen for—
sounds rolling off
dropping behind the teeth.
a hard swallow—
the garbled noise
of a liar caught in a lie.
One word, both
noun and verb: stroke, battle.
Alphabets elude,
substitutes make mockery—
a red bicycle turning down
a bombed-out alley.
Run toward it—
past ripped lettering
stripped from a sign
that shows one owl
pinching the inexplicable
in its beak.

 


 

 

 

Remi Seamon, “Study of the Wounded Achilles, Mixed Media”

Remi Seamon is a student who spends her time split between Cambridge, England, and Seattle, Washington. She was commended in the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award and has been published in a scattering of small publications, most recently the Dillydoun Review and Unlost. She considers her primary inspiration to be her dog.

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Study of the Wounded Achilles, Mixed Media

We all have toes, some kind
of a down-there. Are in possession of bowels

and all their choreography, we leak
sometimes, we fall down sometimes, stub

toes break collars set wrong
sit wrong, bad posture bad

backs, we carry our own weight
in various places. Say who

when we mean whom, mispronounce
omnipotent, and believe in escape goats

instead of scapegoats. Have been loved
at some point in time, in one way or another

by the womb, room, river, by our own
gut bacteria, if nothing else, we all keep things

alive, my bad, mad, selfish
evolved shellfish, wanting things

that aren’t ours, susceptible to arrows
not limited to our heels.