in the moment of awakening

the first part is easy

set the fat man on fire just to
hear the young girls laugh, and
of course they do

smell of roses in the back yard,
sound a train passing through the
middle of town and when you
turn to slap your son your
hand is made of feathers and glass

when the plane crashes into
                               the river
all the angels are out of town

the house is empty and the
pool drained

nothing but bones in the garage

painter out behind the barn with
an empty canvas and his 
                      hands cut off

says god is either
everywhere
or nowhere at all

says faith is the smell of roses
or the smiles of sleeping
                               children

everything a reminder of death
and everyone a corpse draped
in beautiful tapestries

each day the one that
will matter most




one wrong choice given flesh
and wings and
all it ever does is
fly too close to the sun

About the Author: john sweet, b 1968, still numbered among the living. A believer in writing as catharsis. Opposed to all organized religion and political parties. His latest collections include APPROXIMATE WILDERNESS (2016 Flutter Press) and the limited edition chapbooks HEATHEN TONGUE (2018 Kendra Steiner Editions) and A BASTARD CHILD IN THE KINGDOM OF NIL (2018 Analog Submission Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

Bikes

Through the open door
of the closed pizza parlor

glint three delivery bikes 
parked in a line in the dark, 

the immigrant deliverymen 
due soon 

after having worked 
late in the rain 

for tips only 
while fielding complaints 

in a language 
not their own, later

sleeping in an illegally
partitioned fire trap—

three cots 
parked in a line in the dark.

About the Author: Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit www.markbelair.com

Magic

Stirring my tea
sets this forest spinning
and all its leaves are peppermint

About the Author: Gary Galsworth grew up in the New York City area. After the Marine Corps he studied painting and filmmaking at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. His work has been featured in Abstract: Contemporary Expression, Nebo, Pennsylvania English, Broad River Review, and others. In addition to writing poetry, he is a professional plumber and a student of Zen Meditation. He’s published two books of poems: “Yes Yes”, and “Beyond the Wire”. Gary lives in Hoboken, NJ.

Anne

My mother’s name was not hard to spell
His family always got it wrong
Every card, every label
40 years or until they died.

Christmastime and mother in the kitchen
Dirty dishes, brandy, cigars,
Laughter in the living room
Open-fly naps on the floor under the TV.

She made long lists each year.
Slanted, delicate letters
Their names and beside each
A gift.

by J.E. Beville

Fixer Upper

Sometimes I wish I could be
HGTV’s Joanna Gaines,
decorate a Waco farmhouse,
plant that exquisite garden.
The scent of purple wildflowers
would waft while butterflies circle
hyacinth beans and we picnic
under oak trees older than this country.
If Clint, from Harp Studios,
was my friend. He’d build
a dinner table of my dreams
from salvaged scraps;
I’d not need apologize
that I like pine or covet
refurbished stone and
Cotswold cottage-like windows.
But then I try to picture my
Connecticut private school kids
gathering eggs from our chickens,
watching baby chicks hatch,
helping birth calves and goats.
I have to smile when I imagine
my husband demolishing a house,
shopping at antique stores,
riding dirt bikes on our acreage.
Long ago I married tasseled loafers,
chinos, short hair,
and fancy German sedans
in lieu of trucks.
If I’m honest, I know that
I don’t want Chip—
he’d talk over me
and he’s silly.
But still, I have to say,
I like his boots,
and denim,
and beard.


About the Author: Cathy Allman entered the writing field as a reporter after attending the school of Cinema and Television at the University of Southern California. While her career shifted gears from writing to advertising and marketing, she never stopped writing or attending workshops, eventually earning an MFA from Manhattanville College. She has reinvested in her writing, and she teaches creativity workshops at high schools and at her Connecticut office. Her poem, “Not in the Wonder Box” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Red River Valley

Three-thirty in the night, thirty-two
and a half hours before the end,
two liters of tissue, blood, and fluid
gush in an arc, red, muddy,
landing on my floor.

I try to imagine what tributaries
have broken what banks of his belly
to wash lumps of liver into his stomach
to be thrown up on my shore
and why he has not yet bled out.

I deposit him on the toilet to sit alone,
wait to be cleaned, bedded,
while I squat in my nightgown
sopping up the flood with paper towels,
sobbing for my carpet.


About the Author: Donna James has practiced psychotherapy for over thirty-five years. After long years of academic writing, she returns to poetry, her first literary love. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Cape Rock, Carbon Culture Review, Kyoto Journal, and Secret Histories: Stories of Courage, Risk, and Revelation.

Boarding School

You had to know my pal Chelminski
to take full measure
of his unfettered enthusiasm for mischief.
One day, for no good reason,
he wrote

PEANUT BUTTER

on the blackboard in history class,
its chalky mockery hidden
behind a Mercator projection of the world,
pulled down to conceal the silliness beneath;
he wrote

PEANUT BUTTER

in red paint in the tiled foyer
beneath the bronze statue of Abe Lincoln
(its nose an erotic protuberance stroked
by giggling, complicit teenage fingers);
he wrote

PEANUT BUTTER

on our textbooks, on our lockers, in the halls,
on the floors beneath our beds,
and at last, on the door
to the headmaster’s living room.

Ah yes, our headmaster, the sanctimonious Tall Paul,
eventually found the ebullient prankster out.

“Chelminski,” he intoned before the entire school,
“I find your all too inappropriate treatment of

PEANUT BUTTER

low,
common,
cheap,
vulgar
and disgusting.”

And here Tall Paul paused, grateful
for the chance to wrinkle his nose
and condemn adolescent masturbation.
From somewhere behind invisible curtains
we could hear Chelminski giggle.

About the author, Victor Altshul: My second and third books of poems, Singing with Starlings (2015) and Ode to My Autumn (2017), were published by Antrim House, and two of my poems have appeared in the Hartford Courant. My work has recently been published in Alabama Literary Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Cape Rock, Caveat Lector, Chantwood Magazine, Coachella Review, Door Is A Jar Magazine, Existere, The Perch, and Studio One. I am active on the board of the Connecticut Poetry Society and have given several readings throughout the state. I am a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Medical School and am on the faculty of the latter. I have been in continuous private practice of psychiatry since 1967.