Lisa Zaran is the author of eight collections including Dear Bob Dylan, The Blondes Lay Content, and the sometimes girl. She is founder and editor of Contemporary American Voices, an online poetry journal in its twelfth year of publication. When not writing, Zaran works full time for a non profit agency that serves individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. She lives in Arizona.
When You Are There
When you are there no one will deny you your snowfall
When you are there the face in the sky will end its haunt of the boy with flowers for eyes
When you are there even he will seem funny, the failed standup comedian
whose jokes Jesus of Nazareth colored and they were velvet
replicas of Himself but slightly off each one
and nobody laughed not even his mother
not once in his life but she came to his opening
scowling with homemade powder donuts and red in her mouth
Nevertheless his body was found in the supply room of the glorious meadow the subsequent morning
When you are there the unknown woman with dirty blonde hair
in a 17th Century Spanish coif and matching wedding gown smiles
you’ll see that it is a holy or maybe not
kiss that approaches in the mouth that is a collapsing chandelier
and you will know then that you haven’t got there
Something has gone horribly wrong
I am not there either
I’m climbing the green hillside, climbing, my god
this is walking.
Christopher Prewitt is a writer from eastern Kentucky. Most recently his poetry has appeared in antinarrative journal, SurVision Magazine, and Gravel.
Her eyes unfocus
an early morning coffee
light stares against the wall
Melanie Du Bose writes and teaches filmmaking to teenagers in East L.A. She is an advocate for equity in arts education and an Activate Arts Los Angeles Fellow. Recent poems have appeared or forthcoming in Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, Passager Journal, and the Ekphrastic Review.
Under the Skin
spurt the sun
beat warm insides
brought in fruit
bins and green shades
this blank space
Everything Will Be Alright
Young toddler singing
Everything’s Gonna be Alright
in grocery store parking lot
Pink light, warm still, sun sets fast
I hear on radio when I get back in car
supposed to snow tomorrow
Singing fading as I enter store
Lost Little Grey Cells
lost to bad
honks of smoke
too much time
wearing at the cells
Kyle Wright is an author and student currently residing in Ann Arbor, with work published in a few local zines and in so many stacks of old notebooks, and also forthcoming in Subterranean Blue Poetry and The New Grindhouse. He writes and creates across many disciplines, living with his partner, cat, and their ever-growing hoard of books.
gonna kick tomorrow
my life is full of light and I am righteous
in my suit of mirrors, so happy when
everything is so wrong
the habit, the habit
the god of pills is crouched down
in the corner of my room and he’s
not leaving soon enough for you
the failing, the failure
you, on the edge of the bed with
my quick love in your hands
you can’t look at me now
I’ll try again tomorrow
When not writing about unredeemable people in bad situations, Debbie Collins enjoys letting her dog drag her around her neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia. She also likes cooking and reading tiny novels on her tiny phone. She has been published in Third Wednesday, The Lake, and Flatbush Review, among others.
Blood and Masks
Milk froze in a cow’s bulging udder. John had paint he said we might be able to use to fix things up a bit. I don’t work for free, but sometimes it just happens. I went off to collect drop clothes and brushes. No one had mentioned the new obstacles to traveling by day or the way everything was falling out of windows. By the time I got back, a van loaded with weapons was burning at the side of the road. To everyone’s amazement, the flames actually danced.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from Thoughtcrime Press, and Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements, winner of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry.
Pause, cut the applause off mid-cheer, and
Screams of fans mid-screech like a bird of prey
Strangled in flight, body never found,
Never touching down
Erase the players off the grass, scrub them
With the brush of age or sponge of amnesia
Light uniforms, dandelion puffs, sift breezes during drifts
Ignore the sore limbs body-promised
By unyielding, plank seats
Our shifting (no relief) frozen with the spectators now
Your head bowed as though you seek
Removal from this snapshot of time
Jennifer Ruth Jackson is an award-winning poet and fiction writer whose work has appeared in Red Earth Review, Banshee, and more. She runs a blog for disabled and/or neurodivergent writers called The Handy, Uncapped Pen from an apartment she shares with her husband. Follow her on Twitter @jenruthjackson
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OR BUST
He stays up all night writing his autobiography.
Secretive and anonymous, the shadow within the shadow,
he hopes that his words can do what his life has not.
He smokes. He plays chess with details from his past.
He tells tales on himself. He primes himself for execution.
Bloated from clutter, the attic room looks like the insides of a horse.
He’s not passionate enough about sleep to bother with it.
It’s like bandstand music. It’s loud but he doesn’t really hear it.
He prefers the drugs and the coffee that take him to
the archipelagos in his head, the isles passionate, godlike, visionary,
lands where dwell the imaginary friends of his fierce solitude.
Their histories may be as frail as sunlight on bottle cap
but, in the midst of all this traffic, they are the only ones that matter.
First chapter is one child crying.
Chapter two is a garden hose writhing like a snake.
Chapter three is from a time when men and women lived apart.
Chapter four is spit from deep down in the lungs.
He stays up all night, an unholy man feeding off blank responses.
Sometimes, he’s the outsider crashing his own life.
Then he’s the steady overflow from the times that cannot hold him.
Or he’s upside down, his feet cruising the skylight.
Or the mystery to himself that’s mopping up the carnage.
He knows that, ultimately, he’s wasting all this blood on nothing.
That’s the beauty of all this sacrifice.
He’s a searchlight with pale, excitable hands.
He barely skims the waves.
The vessel is in danger. He knows it’s in there somewhere.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Visions International.
Always One More
While men withdraw their deposits
trying to distance themselves from the cost
the women in the meantime need
to keep their legs and fingers crossed.
deb y felio is a witness poet exploring and writing the under-represented sides of historic and current issues. deb lives and writes in the hills of Boulder Colorado and is active in the Denver Lighthouse for Writers and the Stain’d art community. Her work is published in multiple online sources and in the print anthology Hay(na)ku ( Eileen Tabios, editor).
The Narcissist’s Martyr
I remember your budding, strange strange love while in high school & the red hum of my face’s cheek one night of your drinking & candid speech. your mechanical hand slapped my face cracking the porcelain calm. meat below me on a plate grilled, yellow caramelized onions butter coating the steak your words filling the air. stumbling. straggling. loosening to hug me that was really a noose. lashes & whippings. christened skin.
& then a night when I was in my 20s you told me: you’re too ugly, and will be too poor for marriage. teachers don’t make enough. no woman will want you. & the stars were drowning. a few fish eggs tucked in the stomach of a predator. breath prying for space. & I didn’t talk back, but cried like a screen door opening & closing. & hungered for a normal kind of love. A righteous love. “Love” love.
later as morning pushed night, before blackness was bucked by light, I stretched my face over the pool & looked at my reflection & saw my wooly long hair & could’ve sworn my face had the chops not of a man but a ram, coated as black, and my horns were ground down, shorn, to the skin dust to dust
mother, your love was fickle & cruel & Old Testament
but I still raised my voice & bleated to the sky, cheering thy name, crying for
more! more! more!
Colin James Sturdevant is an ELA high school teacher and received his BA in English – Creative Writing, Fiction – at the University of Houston. His work has appeared in Rufous City Review, Banango Street., Glass Mountain, Zaum – Sonoma State University’s Litrerary Magazine. He hopes to start an indie lit mag to publish middle school and high school poetry from the nation and beyond someday.