Week 51: Lana Bella



Adored, adorned in tight, neat
stare with dark for hands,
she stilled the water through
clear lake spray. The sometime
girl cornered moon and air
into a mirror, dividing the calm
just past her fingertips. Blush
among viridian and frigate-
birds, she felt an island down
even as she was arc and blur,
sloughing off stars like snake in
season. But this feeling was
hard to live with long, rivering
her body as she became a gift on
the horizon line while currents
held her to this world that
was both softer and sad. So she
felt safe, safe for that instant,
a brain in a feud believing itself
embodied, by the stillest point
stoking to her darkest wounds.



A four-time Pushcart Prize, five-time Best of the Net & Bettering American Poetry nominee, Lana Bella is an author of three chapbooks, Under My Dark (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2016), Adagio (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Dear Suki: Letters (Platypus 2412 Mini Chapbook Series, 2016), has had poetry and fiction featured with over 470 journals, Acentos Review, Comstock Review, EVENT, Ilanot Review, Notre Dame Review, Rock and Sling, The Stillwater Review, Sundress Publications & Whiskey Island, among others, and work appeared in Aeolian Harp Anthology, Volume 3.

Week 50: Tim Earley

Traveler’s Guide to Old Town and Surrounding Areas

Everywhere this Judas went a bristly grey dog followed him, red eyes as large as milk saucers. Despite its strange appearance, it was friendly to humans, would sidle and bow. This Judas drank lustily, but never lost himself. After nine or ten pints, he’d say, Fellows, I’m drunk, and go home without another word. Husbands grew worried their wives fancied him and dinner conversations sullened. Children followed as he sang a dilatory tune about an aquatic creature who lost his brother in a hurricane and swam the wide seas searching after him. The creature did not find his brother, but sang as he searched and sang so long and so beautifully that over time he transformed into a siren, and a love of his new form replaced any grief. After a few turns about town to memorize the verses, the children started signing too and followed this Judas into the woods. Days later, he returned, but the children did not. He said, This rural life is intolerably heavy, isn’t it, friends, and clapped a man on his shoulder, held him firm. The bristly grey dog ate many chickens, and even a baby goat, but no one felt they should say anything. Eventually one child, Samuel Previn, returned from the woods. Samuel did not recognize his parents and instead seemed to hold himself as the dog’s personal servant, plucking and eating its fleas and foisting baby-talk into its ears.  I do not remember if our harvests were made more bountiful by this Judas’s presence. Some said so, while others held more dearly to their ghosts. The Sunday he kissed our pastor on the cheek, this Judas pulled the dagger from his belt for all of us, not the pastor, to see, its silver flash the transom of a dream, and slid it into the pastor’s heart with such love and grace that many were brought to tears. The pastor gaped at the church’s ceiling, his mother’s face, clucking all the while in his throat. An excellent Judas, most of us agreed, and filed into the street.



Tim Earley has written four books of poetry, including Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (Horse Less Press, 2014) and Linthead Stomp (Horse Less Press, 2016). He lives in Denver and teaches online courses in literature and creative writing at the University of Mississippi.


Week 49: James Walton

Birthday Stereophonics of the Elder Kind

At times my body heat
presages combustion,
but we’re in the Eye of Us
this constant iridescence,
my VU bright lit
in the red corner.
Going off like radiation
a heart ticking boom,
an amplifier out of mode
but so mellow,
the bass specific
no matter how the EQ is justified.
A kid’s month is a summer tortoise
the day a year of beach towels,
before the lift off
sheds stages of experience,
and you get to look back
at things beyond iteration.
Anniversary on a sky flipped decanted day
a virtuoso blue eclipse,
three sides of the circle
disappearing to bloom,
a lifetime production
full staves at intersect.
I know you prefer baroque over romantic
a cello in tune the piano pride of place,
the storm passing
but I couldn’t help myself,
and not being Jim Croce
I couldn’t say it in a song.



James Walton is an Australian poet published in many anthologies, journals, and newspapers. He was a Librarian, a farm labourer, a cattle breeder, and mostly a public sector union official.

Week 48: Debbie Collins

Please Leave 


The sky is in a hurry, rain beginning
to rush from swollen clouds.
The stars won’t come out,

not tonight. By morning you’ll
be gone and I’ll wonder why
I even cared.


When not writing about unredeemable people in bad situations, Debbie enjoys letting her dog drag her around the block in 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, Flatbush Review, and the River City Poets’ Anthology, among others.

Week 47: artemis lin

Three poems


What does he mean when he says, don’t come back here no more?

(Every time we get to the same place
Through a separate descent.
We row back and forth.
Our arms strong.
Our oars faithful.)

What does he mean when he throws you,
What does it mean when he disappears
An act of pure witchcraft
Even though you cast no spells

And every horse is a slaughterhouse

And home is a den of thieves


Tell me how the end of Donnie Darko goes. You’ve seen it —
not me, I’ve only seen the beginning where the car

speeds away and the kids are screaming. Tell me if the boy
dies. Tell me if the rabbit not a rabbit is really a demon

and tell me if he convinced the boy to give up his soul. You
see the Faustian metaphor here; you see what

I’m trying to get at. You in your armored car, rattling towards
the exit. You’re in your death throes, now. Every

teenage boy is you throwing in the towel thinking a wound
is a rabbit’s foot — some holy charm to carry.

I get hit by the car; I’m losing a lot of blood. You drive away.
You drive away. You drive away.


Is this morning, is every
morning like this? Or else

every unturned tortoiseshell,
looking for tortoises? Is

every valediction a rose
water cake? Find me a

body who will do it for
free. Find me a body

who will say no. Time
has an uncanny way

of handing you yes’s —
the spookie ookie, the

shit that makes you scream
like you’re living. Did you

ever shake down such
a thing? I can tell you,

I did. I figured it out.
To walk comfortably between

two people without
disturbing the force of

the universe


artemis lin is a queer writer and filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles, CA. She is the editor-in-chief of the critical film journal RABBLEROUSE, and will be or has been published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and loves me | loves me not.

Jean in marketing
requested a few days off
for ‘personal time’

Stephanie Barber is an American writer and artist. She has created a poetic, conceptual and philosophical body of work in a variety of media. Her videos are concerned with the content, musicality and experiential qualities of language and her language is concerned with the emotional impact of moments and ideas. Each ferry viewers through philosophical inquiry with the unexpected oars of empathy, play, story and humor.

Week 45: Rich Boucher

ten a.m. is hard

thirteen suns and moons have come and gone
since they said I have the job, background passed.
as far as one knows. ten in the morning has its own
brand of sunshine that lights up the tiles in this kitchen.
the black and white (and cold and dirty) oddfellow floor
glows barely perceptibly, like a déjà vu that stays,
makes the kitchen look just as out of time as me.
we are rarely as sure by the light of morning
about what we were certain of the night before.
the door to the fridge opens by itself, succeeding
in startling. a flock of pale brown birds escapes
and flies through my house until I open the front door
to permit exit. wishing time was not so visible.



Rich Boucher resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rich’s poems have appeared in Gargoyle, The Nervous Breakdown, Soft Cartel, Menacing Hedge, Cultural Weekly and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others, and he has work forthcoming in Street Poet Review. For more, check out richboucher.bandcamp.com. He loves his life with his love Leann.

Week 43: Steve Klepetar


Tracks around the house,

with three toes.
Sunset now

by nine o’clock
in late July, and the grass

still wet from last night’s rain.

Keening in the woods,
In the sky, no moon, no stars.

All around, the hum
of crickets and the scent

of pine. In a flood of indoor light
I count my pulse, I breathe.



Steve Klepetar has recently relocated to the Berkshires in Massachusetts after 36 years in Minnesota. His work has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including three in 2017. Recent collections include A Landscape in Hell (Flutter Press), How Fascism Comes to America (Locofo Chaps), and Why Glass Shatters (One Sentence Chaps).

Week 42: Richard King Perkins II

Many Uppercuts Required

Sunlight is the lord of all intoxication.
Where it leads, all else must swallow.

Attempt to keep pace with shiftless angels.
That which is incapable will be forgotten.

You are captivated, staring into embolisms
until nothing can be seen or hoarded..

Only when you are preoccupied does height fail.
Contract on what is missing to be fulfilled.

Aerosol dictates to both morning and afternoon.
Exposition is its stimulant.

Where to squeeze is always an isolated opinion
so far removed in its pertinence

that rain mats have little upon which to shine—
nothing except fervor and passion, clamor and agitation.

Storage boxes are a perpetual unknowing.
Constantly you will falter in their shadow

guided toward temptation despite halos of bleating
and then suffer for your inconstancy—

the many uppercuts required
to unlearn all that sight misgives.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.