Tom Montag, “A Birder? No”

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A Birder? No,

I am not a birder,
nor an amateur

unless you mean

very amateur.
A bird watcher?

No, a watcher
of all that is

sweet and fleeting
who needs to know

the names of things.


Tom Montag is most recently the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013. He is a contributing writer at Verse-Virtual. In 2015, he was the featured poet at Atticus Review (April) and Contemporary American Voices (August), and at year’s end he received Pushcart Prize nominations from Provo Canyon Review and Blue Heron Review.


Oliver Hutton, “Re: Spectre”

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Re: Spectre

There’s a ghost in the cloisters,
A ghost in the machine, whose worlds
are its oysters, a host with a sheen.
A host casing a changing shell, a boast
wasting a waning spell. Senses of touch,
taste, sight and smell, and the oft-ignored
ring of a bell. One competes
to take control; the other waits
for ev’ry random. The former fights
to climb the knoll; the latter’s left to work
in tandem. Millions, minions,
servile souls, wand’ring, wond’ring
if the bell tolls—


Oliver Hutton is a UK-qualified solicitor with over FIVE years’ experience of dry shipping litigation. The battle for his signature was ferociously fought. In the end, it was TCI that beat the thousands of other law firms to it, with colleagues describing it as the happiest day of their lives when “Olly” walked through the door to begin his training contract on Tuesday 20th July, 2010. Olly advises on complicated issues too numerous and highbrow to mention here, but the way he provides transcendental solutions to every conceivable legal and commercial problem was reported in the Legal 500 as “awesome.”

Kim Zach, “The Poem Wakes Me, 3:00 a.m.”

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The Poem Wakes Me, 3:00 a.m.

nudging me
from my dreams, a lover
who suddenly wants my attention.

Just this afternoon I waited,
implored him to show up,
but he remained aloof,
a big tease.

Yet now, in the deep of night,
when all things are black
and still,
he whispers,
spins lovely lies,
ribbons of language
in my sleep-slogged brain.

I reach for him, desperate
to remember the rhythm,
the lines, the internal

I switch on the lamp, scribble
in my notebook
before he slinks away.

Slanting curls and loopy
scrawls, the only signs
he’d been here, like the gentle
indent in a pillow,
left by a departed


Kim Zach is a high school English teacher and a lifelong resident of the Midwest. Her poem “Weeding My Garden” appeared in the spring 2015 issue of U.S. 1 Worksheets and was reprinted in the quarterly review Genesis. Another poem, “When I Consider,” is scheduled for publication in U.S. 1 Worksheets next spring.


Grant Quackenbush, “Rid”

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You pull over on the side of a road
and you look at it: what is it? Or, maybe
you should ask what it was before you hit it: nothing ever,
by the looks of it. The more you look at it
the less sense it starts to make, like
a Rorschach test and the lifeless words
used to describe it: black, white, flat . . .

Leave it alone. It’s done. And by “done” I mean
finished before it began. There’s no use
in trying to save it, breathe it back
into a shape. The most you can do is
bless it and move on, tell others
a long time ago you thought you saw one, whatever it was
or could have been.

Grant Quackenbush is from San Diego.

Kelsey Hatch, “Sonnet with Desert Dunes”

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Sonnet with Desert Dunes

At night when his body is folded on the bed, and his back
is turned—I’ll start a poem in my head: We stay up. / I watch
his back curved / and shoulders arced / like desert dunes—
Desert dunes. I walk through it in my head. Into the heat.
Hardly shifting / as he breathes. Desert dunes,
the dry air blowing ridges in the sand. Grand as the stones
moving in its valleys. Desert dunes, a deep beige beneath
blue-steel skies. I disappear into it—the dunes, the back,
before the words dry up. Desert dunes: Later he lays
flat, / sleeping like a body, his body / and I see the freckles
now / on the same skin and bones / that stood mountainous.
Desert dunes. The words tire and crumple like a jackrabbit
in the pocks of dunes—cool and unmoving, its ruffled planes
disturbed only by this animal crawling quiet in the dark.


Kelsey Hatch was raised in Massachusetts and graduated with a major in English Literature from St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY). In addition to writing, Hatch enjoys foraging for mushrooms, cooking, and spending time outdoors. She is currently creating art with spore prints made from harvested mushrooms. Her latest work appeared in the May 2015 issue of Alimentum: The Literature of Food.


Ruth Foley, “Water Strider”

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Water Strider

It’s not balance with us,
love, so much as care
in where we place our feet.

If we were capsized
you would rise without
thought and I could follow.

If we could claim to belong
below or to each other.
If we could skim the world

beneath our feet. I have
already forsaken ground.
You watch the skies.

I check for fish, for some
ascending destruction.
Don’t think, love, just

move. If only I could make
you test the tension it could
—just once—hold us.


Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Adroit, Sou’wester, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. She is the author of the chapbooks Dear Turquoise and Creature Feature, and the full-length collection Dead Man’s Float (forthcoming from ELJ). She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.