Ann E. Wallace, “Sounds Will Carry”

Ann E. Wallace, a poet and essayist from Jersey City, New Jersey, is author of the poetry collection Counting by Sevens (Main Street Rag). She has previously published work in Clementine Unbound, as well as in Crack the Spine, Riggwelter, Snapdragon, and other journals. She is online at and on Twitter @annwlace409.

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Sounds Will Carry

We have pulled at thin air and breathed
in the shallows, hungry, our hearts
and lungs ablaze, commanded ourselves
to breathe, and breathe some more.

Our breath sounds swallowed
by the wail of sirens, on and on, the fear
stuck in our throats has now crescendoed
into the guttural cries of a nation in grief.

But we have laughed
as we have cried.
And we will laugh
and we will cry some more.

And the sounds will carry us,
like calling cards of the lost and bereft,
across the bridges and through the cities
in search of each other.

Laura Sminchak, “Slow No Wake”

Laura Sminchak’s poems have appeared in publications such as From Whispers to Roars and Cathexis Northwest Press, among others. She lives in Ohio and is a licensed attorney. She spends her time adventuring with her young children and jumping into rabbit holes. You can find her on Instagram at @laura_writes_words.

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Slow No Wake

the voice broke over the phone
I imagined her wail a cackle
for a split second I thought
you were with us
what a riot
what a hideous thing to do
you were never too stuffy for a prank
laughter thrown over your shoulder
rather than salt
you were never cruel

the voice says dead found dead
the idea deafening,
a frenzied bee loose in my brain
see how the blood rushes up to my ears
to stop me hearing it
then I only feel the word
my chest reverberates to it
like a struck gong
dead dead dead
my God
I hate the word
I hate it for you
the farthest from death of all of us
your life a footrace between you
and the cynic’s relentless temperance
arbitrary limits bent on
smothering your flames

you could not outrun a pandemic or despair
or perhaps a tiny vascular weakness
waiting tucked inside all along
I won’t say it was lurking
I won’t vilify some cluster of ne’er do well cells
misguided distracted strands of DNA

what I mean is only that I’ll try
my very best
not to bore you
not to blame you
not to vilify your cells
not to vilify my own

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
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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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.