Cameron Morse, “New Galleries”

Cameron Morse (he, him) is senior reviews editor at Harbor Review and the author of eight collections of poetry. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is The Thing Is (Briar Creek Press, 2021). He holds an MFA from the University of Kansas City-Missouri and lives in Independence, Missouri, with his wife Lili and three children. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.

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New Galleries

The dead limb lost its bark a long time ago,
a middle finger to the interstate in my back yard.
The interstate sighs. It’s been here before.
It will be here again. Besides, the limb
is no longer alive. It’s just a monument
to what was. Pumped full of bullet holes
by the carpenters. Who open new galleries
in the sky. Inside the limb, the interstate
is not so loud. The carpenters are too hard at work
to notice the sirens, the whale song of the big rigs.
Their mandibles whirring, they do not listen.
The tree lowers its finger and I mistake
their work for woodrot as my chainsaw smiles
through the clouds of sawdust.


Peycho Kanev, “Someplace”

Peycho Kanev is the author of ten poetry collections and three chapbooks, published in the USA and Europe. His poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Rattle, Poetry Quarterly, Evergreen Review, Front Porch Review, and others. His new book of poetry titled A Fake Memoir was published in 2022 by Cyberwit.

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Someplace

Everything is better than good. The quiet night
outside. The candles burning in the room.
The slow music on the stereo. The wine breathing
in the decanter. The baby sleeping in the crib.
The water in the tall glass. The poems in the book
of poems. The pristine white walls. The open fire
and the cat sleeping by the fireplace with the crack
in her heart through which the dark creeps out again.


Nicholas Barnes, “river rat”

Nicholas Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Oregon University. He is currently working as an editor in Portland, and enjoys music, museums, movie theaters, and rain. His least favorite season is summer. His favorite soda is RC Cola.

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river rat

The rodent was rather large,
the third I’d seen that month.

It ran through the parking lot
behind Dante’s.

I told that nice lady Nikki
I have quite the eye for rats.

But hey, let’s give this town
the benefit of the doubt.

Vermin ain’t bad,
just misunderstood.

And we were on the shores
of the Willamette, after all.

 


 

 

 

Lynne Handy, “Poem for Morgan”

Retired librarian Lynne Handy devotes her time to writing poetry, flash fiction, and novels. She co-founded Open Sky Poets, a collaboration of poets in the western suburbs of Chicago, and her work has been published in several journals, including Clementine Unbound. She lives in a river town in northern Illinois with her two rescue dogs, Schatzi and BoPeep.

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Poem for Morgan

Last night, I dreamed
I’d gathered up
my daughter’s flesh
and bones left
after cancer’s ruin,
so fragile that I held
them like a loose bouquet
of lilies, and pressed my face
against the blooms.
“I love you,” I said.
“You are my precious girl.”
My mind defaults to images
of her as newly born,
red-haired and gentle,
soft and mewing, lying
in the blue bassinet
that had been her brother’s.

There’s not much left
in the trailer where she lived.
She never wanted much,
never acquired worldly goods.
Her brother stands among the ruins,
sorrowing that such a rich soul
has left so little of herself behind.


John Muro, “Birch Mountain”

John Muro, a resident of Connecticut and a lover of all things chocolate, published his first volume of poems, In the Lilac Hour, with Antrim House in 2020. He’s a two-time 2021 Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Barnstorm, Clementine Unbound, Grey Sparrow, and Sky Island. Pastoral Suite, John’s second volume of poems, will be published this spring.

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Birch Mountain

Descending headlong from empty boughs
like a lanky child, ill at ease;
sunlight awkwardly alights

upon blue combs of grass roused by a slow
surge of wind; clutched fingers released
to cushion the blow midflight.

Propped upon bruised shins and knees,
the astonished body abruptly rights
itself, expands to luster and takes in the field below—

hobbled orchards and stubble where a few crows
gather to assess the new balance of things;
a landscape’s nudged into brittle brightness.

Flock and forsaken farm are now clearly exposed—
shoe-button-black scatter and the keepers of night.


Jared Carter, “Remnant”

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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queen

Fragment of a queen’s face (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Remnant

It is part of a woman’s face,
       broken off now
And canceled, except for the grace
       of those lips. How

Much damage was done, for that smile
       to emerge from
The stone? For that grace to beguile?
       Once you were one

Who sensed the uncanny, the strange.
       Then came the call
About changing your life. You changed
       nothing at all.


Robert Nisbet, “Bird Life”

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet whose work has appeared widely in Britain and the USA. He won the Prole Pamphlet Competition in 2017 with Robeson, Fitzgerald and Other Heroes. In the USA he has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times in the last three years.

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Bird Life

Back there, back then, we had robins
and blackbirds, red chests, orange beaks,
and that spring song rich as morning.
(Likewise, starlings, tits and jackdaws.)
We were country cousins, had
the pop lorry Tuesdays, fish and chips,
with bread and butter and a cup of tea.
The locals, darts and dominoes.

Two decades later, cities, studios, offices.
Casinos, cinemas’ new multi-screens,
the canapé and cappuccino eighties.
Our bird life now was city-life exotics,
the workplace nightingales, the peacocks,
Paradise birds, persuasive, glistening,
the promises, the sheen of grins.
(The odd black mamba in the undergrowth.)

But hark back. Listen again in memory,
in the shops and the pubs. Wasn’t there then
the odd sweet-talker nightingale? Promises
fanned out like a pack of cards?

And back there in the city’s forest,
there was always the odd voice of calm,
the cheering song of an office blackbird
and now and again a robin, standing quietly by.


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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Waking

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
serotonin,
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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45.11.1

Perseus slaying Medusa (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Medusa

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.