Wednesday, April 28, 2021

New Poetry by William G. Davies

Remnants Of A Deadly Winter

Leaves like caskets
float across the green grass
their leathery backs
carry the sun
doomed as they are
the way hands are clasped
and enveloped in Rosary beads.

- © William G. Davies 2021

William is a 66 year old purveyor of the mundane, the fellow at the dinner table who might imagine a face staring back at him from within the gristle on a pork chop. He was able to glean from these observations a slim volume of poems; "Before There Were Bones" published by Prolific Press in 2015. He has been published by numerous literary journals such as The Wilderness House Literary Review, The Cortland Review and of course, the "pepper" to which he is humbly indebted. William has been married to the same woman for 47 years and accepts increasing delight in the longevity of his marriage compact. William's Pastor recently suggested that his voice would do for audible books what John Glenn did for the space program. He lists this as a peculiar accolade but one consistent with his craft.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

New Poetry by John Cullen

Forgetting You

Carelessness was too careful
for you---a borrowed car crunched to rubbish
and a lousy two hundred bucks 
seduced you to buy drinks
all night with red
abandon.   Any woman you met
became a target.   That’s why
I’m forgetting you.  

I remember you crouched, wedged
in fact, between toilet and wall, shivering and sniffling
while one room away your son cried
himself to sleep in a cut down television box
on layers of old blankets.  Your wife cried
at the table, “I can’t keep going,
I didn’t know what to do!”  
They stayed with us six months.  
“I’ll get it together,” you promised,
again.  You raged and threatened, then
asked for more money.                    

You ate your meal of sorrow, and drank indignation.
Finally, you moved out.
The stray cat returned two days
later, sniffing the yard, fearful
of any sound.   No one heard
from you for over a year, no phone call or birthday
present, no midnight distant call,
not even a promise leaked
on wet tissue.

Now we hear you died.   
No surprise.  You weren’t saving someone
from a burning building or even trying
to mow the lawn at whatever dump
you made your recent house.
Your neighbor called 911
after a week of not seeing you, and the police
found you bloated by alcohol
and heat in a rental hammock.   
Someone read in the paper

you had died, then asked
what happened to your wife and kid.
I won’t even say where
they live, patched up
clothing and minimum wage job
the best they can do for now.
They still have that photograph of you
on your bike, back once again
facing the camera.

But, hey!
None of it matters.  
I’m forgetting you 
as fast as I can.
I mean it. 
This time
I mean it.

- © John Cullen 2021

John Cullen graduated from SUNY Geneseo and worked in the entertainment business booking rock bands, a clown troupe, and an R-rated magician.   Currently he teaches at Ferris State University and has published in American Journal of Poetry, The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, North Dakota Quarterly and other journals.   His chapbook, TOWN CRAZY, is available from Slipstream Press. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

New Poetry by James B. Nicola

Parents, Poets, and Jokers
All three erase the grave
before the grave:
Poems are sons,
with name attached,
and in formative years
they’re disciplined and revised
until the dangerous day
of their release;
Jokes are daughters
to be tweaked, tucked
and husbanded
by those who’ll not even cite the name
of who dreamt the crazy thing up
in the first place.
And so we joke, and pass on jokes;
turn a phrase and jot it down;
as we love and touch,
that the world not be
so Godforsaken,
so barren, so absent of issue.

- © James B. Nicola 2021

James B. Nicola’s poetry has garnered two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, seven Pushcart nominations, and one Best of the Net nom. His full-length collections include Manhattan Plaza, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, 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). A Yale grad, he also has enjoyed a career as a stage director, culminating in the nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Guide to Live Performance, which won a Choice award.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

New Poetry by Tony Hughes

Looking for our footsteps

- for Cass

Looking for our footsteps.
I stood on south point
and listened to the
wind howling
I don’t have
tears left
I sit
by the
spirit fire
listening to
your playlist
Tracey is
taking the
of the
I pretend
you wait
for me
to finish
my glass
of wine
before I climb
into your curves
where our
bodies fit.

Will winter
always find
me here
guiding the
last embers
of the fire
off to sleep
I planted
two stardust
banksia trees
one for you
one for me

- © Tony Hughes 2021

Cassandra Woodburne, to whom this poem is dedicated, was the beloved wife and best mate of Tony Hughes and mother to their two daughters, Georgia and Eddy. She passed away on 22nd November 2020 after a long and courageous struggle with cancer.

Tony Hughes is an Australian actor and singer. As an actor, he starred in The Lost Islands (1976), Chopper Squad (1977–1979) and the film adaptation of Puberty Blues (1981). As a singer he has fronted Bellydance and King Tide. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

© Reg Mombasa (painted for Cassandra for her twenty first birthday)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

New Poetry by Roberta Santlofer

Going Home

A journey back to the self
That you no longer know—
Lifting your sweater to show your appendix scar
Holding up your hair to be sixteen again
Visiting relatives and sleeping long
Being asked about the length of your dreams

Then, sitting around the dinner table with Aunt Emily
And Aunt Adele
Smiling at their rhetorical questions
Mouthing assents to their pauses

And then, as the evening gets late, and drowsy eyes and mouths
Flicker more slowly and not at all
Getting to concentrate on a piece of the firelight
To hold it, to take it back into a part of some life
Of some moment, when words were spoken to mean something

- © Roberta Santlofer 2021

Roberta “Bobby” Santlofer (1943-2020) was a mother of sons, an avid reader, and a poet. A posthumous collection of her poetry is forthcoming. Santlofer’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Philadelphia Stories, Grey Sparrow Review, and elsewhere. 

[Editor's note: Roberta passed away in June 2020. These poems were sent to me by her son, Mark Danowsky, in his capacity as her literary executor.]

New Poetry by David Adès

Trinidad Nights 

Whether the moon is full or crescent, 
whether the moon is absent, 
whether the night breathes silver and shadow, 

whether the night breathes darkness and stars — 
dancers always come. 
The musicians’ jump  

to congas and bongos, 
to percussion and guitars, 
to saxophone and trumpet, 

fill the stone courtyard with sound, 
fill the night with sound, 
fill the dancers with movement. 

The sound is loud and fast, 
the sound is rhythmic, 
the sound is salsa. 

on the stone steps to the Casa de la Musica, 
the drinkers drink Cerveza, Ron, Mojito, 

the drinkers talk, 
the drinkers’ eyes slip down 
to the bodies of the dancers, 

slip down and up, 
down and up. 
On the stone courtyard 

the dancers step forward, step back, 
link arms, unlink, 
step around each other, 

the man always directing the woman, 
the woman circling the man, 
dancing on and on, 

changing partners, 
feeling sinew and muscle, 
feeling the drip of sweat, 

feeling the slip of shine and sheen, 
feeling the brush of skin on skin, 
of hands touching backs. 

The dance is hot and close, 
the dance is hypnotic, 
but the dancers do not dance for love or lust, 

not for youth or memory, 
not for themselves or each other, 
not for the drinkers’ eyes. 

The dancers dance 
for the perfection, 
for the intricacy, 

for the synchronicity 
of movement, 
the dancers dance 

for salsa, 
always for salsa, 
only for salsa.

- © David Adès 2021

David Adès is the author of Mapping the World, the chapbook Only the Questions Are Eternal and most recently Afloat in Light ( In association with Mascara Literary Review, David is a recipient of the 2020 Don Bank Writing Residence (extended into 2021 due to Covid) together with Michelle Cahill, Debbie Lim and Michelle Hamadache. 


Monday, April 12, 2021

New Short Fiction by Sandra Williams

 Mystery Men

 For two days, I saw a una-bomber look-alike in a baggy orange sweat shirt wandering around restlessly through the halls of the hospice center where we each had a friend who lay dying. When we passed each other one night, I tried to read the words on his shirt, but the folds of the shirt kept folding in on the letters. His red MAGA hat, too small over his shaggy hair—reminded me of those clown hats with a wig attached to it. Around his neck was a heavy silver chain with a figure dangling from it. 
 Later I learned the figure was St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. That says it all, I thought, but still haven’t figured out what the “all” was. 
 Did he believe that America needed to be “great again,” but didn’t have much hope that it would happen, or was the lost cause his friend who had no options left, except waiting for the grim reaper to swing his scythe?
 On the third day, at the coffee cart, I asked him, “So, who is the little shiny fella there?” pointing to the dangling figure on the chain.
 “It’s St. Jude!” he said in a tone of voice suggesting I should have known.
 “But Judas isn’t a saint, is he?” that much I knew, but I got the wrong saint, or in this case, sinner.
 “No, no, no, you are thinking of Judas Iscariot. He was the apostle who betrayed Jesus,” he said.
 “Yeah, that’s him, for thirty pieces of silver, right?” I said.
 Exactly thirty? I wondered. Just before I bit into my multi-grain muffin, I blurted out, "Well, they say no good deed goes unpunished.”
 “What do you mean, good deed? His was the greatest betrayal in the history of the world.”
 “You mean the greatest catch 22! I mean, if Judas didn’t turn him over to the Romans, Christ wouldn’t have 'died for our sins,' which was the plan all along. So, they both end up hanging from a tree, right?”
 “Yes,” he said, “but Jesus in victory and Judas in defeat.”
 “But…but,” I started to say.  Then I decided to put the mystery men: the una-bomber look-alike, Judas the sinner and St. Jude the saint out of my mind. It was starting to sound like a sporting event.
 I poured the guy a coffee, passed him the cup, and we stood eating our muffins in silence. Then we moved on into our respective friends’ rooms—to watch and wait at the foot of their beds.
 My friend died that afternoon, and I wept.  
 On my way out, I saw Mystery Man #1 coming down the hall. Our eyes met for a moment, then I looked down and was able to make out what was on that orange shirt:
 It was the image of the blue marble Earth in darkness, and below it the words:


New Poetry by Jean Bohuslav

compartmental beauty

a rusting iron bucket with
cracked patinas
muted greens
translucent mauves
an artefact most would dismiss
instead treasuring prominent
renowned efforts

a rounded sculptured kettle
or toaster
chrome with thick duco paint
shaped like an fj holden,
overlooked glory

a button
an exquisite thread
faces with unspoken thoughts
embedded in each silent expression

a tricycle with chipped enamel
scratches and dents
hollering reckless enthusiasm
another syphoned with care

comparisons of yester year
fortitudes of treasured principles
placed in mental compartments

each thought
tone and movement
affecting the whole
relics of time
connected intrinsic beauty

- © Jean Bohuslav 2021

Jean Bohuslav enjoys the company of friends who like the arts on the Surf Coast of Victoria.  Her interest in philosophy and mindfulness is sometimes reflected in  her work.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

New Poetry by John Tustin

Let it Rain

It’s raining out there
And I mean really raining
With the thunder that shakes the foundation
And the soothing jargon of raindrops
In their sheets coming down
Like endless theater curtains

But that’s fine with me
Because I have nowhere to go
And even if I did
I probably wouldn’t want to
So this rain coming now
Might be a waste for me
Because it could make a fine excuse
To not go somewhere I’m expected to be.

I stand in the doorway looking out.
A Haydn sonata battles the sound
Of those big fat drops crashing to the ground
In their continual downward assaults.

I could stand for it to rain like this a long time.
My house is ready to continue guesting me –
There’s coffee and there’s sugar for the coffee
But no milk.
Also there’s
No beer,
No cigarettes

Which is fine
Because I don’t need milk,
I don’t drink beer anymore
And I’ve never smoked.

Let it rain.
Let it fall and fall.
I can last here for a while.

- © John Tustin 2021

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. contains links to his published poetry online.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

New Poetry by Tom Montag

from The Old Monk Poems

We could tell you
twice as much,

the old monk said,
and you still wouldn't

know the half of it.


Is this what
it comes to,
the old monk asked--

an old man,
a cot,
cold coffee?


Where the horses run,
the wind follows,
the old monk said.

- © Tom Montag 2021

Tom Montag's books of poetry include: Making Hay & Other Poems; Middle Ground; The Big Book of Ben Zen; In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013; This Wrecked World; The Miles No One Wants; Imagination's Place; Love Poems; and Seventy at Seventy. Two new collections, The River Will Tell You and Maybe Holy: Six Old Monk Poems are forthcoming. His poem 'Lecturing My Daughter in Her First Fall Rain' has been permanently incorporated into the design of the Milwaukee Convention Center. He blogs at The Middlewesterner. With David Graham he recently co-edited Local News: Poetry About Small Towns.

Monday, April 05, 2021

New Poetry by Kenneth Kakareka

My Love

Her and I
are out to eat
tucked away
in a red brick corner
all our own.
She’s looking at
a skinny group of girls
celebrating 1st place
for their swimsuit modeling competition.
I’m looking at her
dark roast black hair
pulled up in a bun,
hazelnut-colored skin
and milk chocolate eyes.
Her wonderfully crooked teeth
she doesn’t show enough of
with a smile;
that’s my sunrise.
I’m looking at her
California-shaped birthmark
beneath her eye
tattooed on as character.
Her cute, pudgy
sausage link-shaped finger
with the diamond ring
I gave her
that seems to have been
carved and crafted
solely for her;
no other finger
wearing that ring
could look
even remotely close
to brilliance.

- © Kenneth Kakareka 2021

Ken Kakareka is a poet and writer who lives in California with his wife-to-be. He is the author of Late to Bed, Late to Rise (Black Rose Writing, 2013). Ken's stuff has been published in Lost Lake Folk Opera Magazine, Ink & Voices, Conceit Magazine, Spontaneous Spirits Magazine, DoveTales Journal, Amulet Magazine, HASH Journal, Route 7 Review, The Vital Sparks Journal and Burnt Pine Magazine. He has stuff coming forth in Gargoyle Magazine.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

New Short Fiction by Veronica Kirin


 I dreamt that the circus had come to town. We gathered at the railway to watch the train roll in. The master of ceremonies was eccentric, we had heard, and was experimenting to perfect the circus animal.
 We were awed as the old steam engine puffed past, for the first car was a flurry of activity. With each breath of the blackened metal issued an infant elephant. One by one they landed beside the great wheels of the engineer’s car, righting themselves and trotting along to follow in a manifest herd. 
 These calves were strange, unlike those at the Zoo. They were smaller and grew before our eyes. Their skin soon changed from smooth and glossy to tough and wrinkled, tusks began to form. They trumpeted to each other as they trotted along, their feet crunching the weed-covered stones.
 Step by step, clickety-clack, the hoard grew up as they followed the painted cars. Their grey forms obscured the bright yellows and reds that swooped along those wooden frames. The rumbling metal wheels grinding on metal rails was scarcely heard over the cacophony of stomping feet and snorting trunks.
 Into adulthood they paraded as the end of the train neared. Their tusks were long and they trumpeted loud their joie d’vivre. But the mad ringmaster had not perfected his elephant formula, and as his elephants aged into full height, they began to fall apart.
 Their weight was too great, their pace too quick, and the elephant bodies cracked. A leg here, a tusk there, breaking beside the train. Distressed, but not in pain, each stopped to pick up its own pieces. The pride of elephants that followed the train now limped along the tracks. 
 They gave their best effort to follow their master, but instead they continued to weaken. As the red caboose pulled away the elephants began to fall. To our horror, their heavy bodies split open when they met the ground. The seam of their backs, the top of their heads, broke as if brittle ceramic. Layer upon layer we could see inside, not blood or bones, but clay and sandstone. What bizarre chemistry had the ringmaster used to form these artificial creatures?
 Silence fell with the last elephant, all movement and prancing ceased. The train, our joy, and the elephant's lives ended unceremoniously.

- © Veronica Kirin 2021

Veronica Zora Kirin (she/her) is an award-winning queer author whose writing aims to unearth within the reader something they may not have known existed.  Learn more at