Phil Wood, “Waking”

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, Clementine Unbound, Fevers of the Mind, and The Wild Word.

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Once we slept
spooning for oxytocin,
now I stay
under my duvet,
the windows frosted,
songbirds silenced.

I’ve missed
the shipping forecast,
I need my fix
of dopamine,
so I listen
to The Lark Ascending
and adverts
on Classic FM.

She has exited,
a dawn run
to get in shape
for me
and for a longer life.
But mainly
for the endorphins.

I worry about
her chemical imbalance,
her anxiety over
the happiness molecule,
and fall asleep.

James B. Nicola, “Dog Day”

James B. Nicola’s poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, Southwest Review, Rattle, and Barrow Street. His full-length collections are Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019), and Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (2021). His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His poetry has received a Dana Literary Award, two Willow Review awards, Storyteller‘s People’s Choice award, and eight Pushcart nominations—for which he feels both stunned and grateful.

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Dog Day

The sweat-strewn skin on such a day
attracts a furry, friendly stray
that manages to lick and coat
you with its tongue-goo. (With your sweat,
now one.) And you would take it home
(the day, the dog, the goo, the heat),
adopt it as another pet,
but on the beach it turns to foam
and skulks away. You take a bath
to rise refreshed. And it seems right
that later, in the aftermath,
your cat purrs on your chest all night.

Jared Carter, “Medusa”

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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Perseus slaying Medusa (Metropolitan Museum of Art)


The obverse shows her sleeping now,
       as though she were
Deep in some dream that would allow
       her wings to stir

And carry her away. But here
       the hero stands,
Mysteriously immune to fear,
       knife in his hand.

Stillness has overtaken both,
       as though the scene
Were stopped, less by some ancient oath
       than by her dream.

Patricia Davis-Muffett, “What it’s like to live here”

Patricia Davis-Muffett (she/her) holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota. Her work has won numerous honors including honorable mention in the 2021 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award, and second place (2022) and first honorable mention (2021) in the Outermost poetry contest, selected by Marge Piercy. Her work has appeared in Atlanta Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, Quartet Journal, and Comstock Review, among others. She lives in Rockville, Maryland, and makes her living in technology marketing.

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What it’s like to live here

All skinny legs and silence,
I am bone cold in the winter night,
sheltering under a thin band
of pines and cedars.

When we are sure of the quiet,
we hide our eyes from
garage floodlights, driveway
motion detectors. I teach
my children to stay curled
in underbrush, wait for the dogs
to come and go. The fox
steers clear. We are too much
for the hawk. We outlast coyote
and bear, here at the edge
of the subdivision.

If I had my choice, it would be
miles of woods, green leaves bursting,
a creek running full and lush over rocks.

For the sake of survival,
I will take this bit of forest,
the landscape arbor vitae,
the dogs who chase just
to the property line, brown grass
for my fawns, a fenceline away
from the rush of traffic–
and a promise of spring plantings
stolen in the light of day.

MG Michael, “That Evening”

MG Michael is an Australian poet and essayist who lives on the South Coast of New South Wales. He is inspired by the human condition and the possibilities of compassion. He has been previously published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Southerly, Westerly, Ulitarra, and Five Bells. He is also the author of Keepers of a Great Memory (Owl Publishing, Melbourne, 2015), a collection of his micro-stories. In 1995 he was awarded the New Poets Award from the editors of The Australian Anthology of New Poets.

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That Evening

Love! Love until the night collapses! —Pablo Neruda

I loved you that evening with a love you will never know
Not that you are incapable of knowing, but some things
Whispered from the seat of the heart remain in the blood
Unable to escape the flesh even during those moments
When rapture takes on another meaning and very nearly

Explodes, like a molten alphabet onto your body
For us to then, together, speak in tongues born
       From the leftover of a burnt orange fire . . .