Friday, June 30, 2023

Rumination and Resultant Cud By Allan Lake

 All days are not extraordinary, except

on cheery greeting cards that should 

have stayed home in primeval forests. 

On this ordinary – uncivil, murderous –   

day I shall clip toenails, my own. 

Clip, clip, lop. Before asking, 

What is the meaning of it all? 

ask my big toe if there is any meaning.

Finely ground rule: No response = No.

Having settled that, could one walk 

along the beach while eating a pear or 

some peanuts? (Someone spoke for peach) 

Though not a dead prince or Prince or even 

Danish, I do enjoy the latter – w/o capital –   

with tea at cafe by fishy sea as I consider 

deep-then-shallow questions: shall I fork 

out serious  money for a pedicure?

How long, O, frayed piece of string theory? 

Re string, measure or ask famous wandering 

Chicken, after learning to speak Chicken.

WHO knows, but only after years of under-

funded research. They have also concluded 

it’s just for the moment we live but 

that’s something, isn’t it? Ask Alfie, 

ask Alice, ask Google then yodel.

Still, I’m not inclined to kill anything –  

sheriff, lamb or kid – even if one skates 

over my foot as I’m butchering long- 

neglected toenails. However, to not kill 

things like mosquitoes may make them 

stronger so action – violent, legalistic –  

is required before a statue of limitation 

is yanked off its pedestal. See you round, 

Liberty, you gorgeous, gun-totin’ gal. 

There’s still a pandemic for Nature’s sake. 

Rest of my life? After saving the world 

from whatever via poetry, lie (down) 

on sofa in front of empty goldfish bowl. 

‘Rest’ as in ‘remainder’? How is one to know 

what a different one means?  Post tire, retire.

We arrive at comfy sofa either way. 

A bang or two, then a whimper followed 

by a brief lie (down) til expiry then 

a kindly permanent one. Follow-up scene 

is science project as specified by organ 

donor in amended will, compliments 

of on-line Free Will Kit, to be located 

under socks. Much depends on cud. 

Will chew on that as I paint my nails.

Allan Lake is a migrant poet from Allover, Canada who now lives in Allover, Australia. Coincidence. His latest chapbook of poems, entitled ‘My Photos of Sicily’, was published by Ginninderra Press. It contains no photos, only poems.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

someone coming home early By J.J. Campbell

laugh at the
demons but

it’s a thin
line between
and victim

i often look
at all these

every story
behind them

situation that
involves a lonely
housewife and
someone coming
home early from

by day drinkers

the only thing
keeping you
from being
shot dead


J.J. Campbell (1976 - ?) is old enough to know where the bodies are buried. He's been widely published over the years, most recently at Synchronized Chaos, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review, Misfit Magazine and just good poems. You can find him most of the time on his mildly entertaining blog, evil delights. (

Friday, June 23, 2023

“Will I Outlive My Diagnosis?” by Ace Boggess

          question asked by Miriam Sagan

Hemlock blight poisons the poisoners,

brings death to a deadly grove.

The arthritic dog has taken to seizures,

few dog years left, perhaps not one.

So-&-so died the other day

holding his favorite guitar with a broken string.

Poetry doesn’t save a single life,

though maybe it extends a few.

I smell wild onions in the grass &

think this is bound to be the end.

I’m trying to sound reassuring,

but can’t predict a minute of the future. 

Spare a few dollars, any carnival psychic

happily will tell you the good news.


Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy. His writing has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble. His seventh collection, Tell Us How to Live, is forthcoming in 2024 from Fernwood Press.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Benediction by Alan Abrams

A marvel, it is, how we share these times. It goes back to that spring morning, 50 years ago–after I had abandoned any hope of recovery–for a magic bullet, a miracle cure–those miserable, worn out hopes that had sustained me through those long, wretched years of decline–and after I finally let myself say it, I want to die. Yes, that morning, when you, my oldest son, came into my room to say goodbye.
Not goodbye, father, may you find peace and liberation from your years of suffering. No, it was goodbye, I’m driving to California with a woman who is running out on her husband, a woman I slept with once, but who is seeking out her true love, a stoner living in a run-down bungalow on the beach in Summerland. Or some such cockamamie bullshit.
I replied, but my voice was so weak you could not hear me. So you leaned your ear down, so close to my lips that I could have kissed you; I felt your long curly hair and that horrible beard brush my face. Then, in the faintest whisper, I spoke my last words to you. You’re crazy, just like me.
In fact, those were the last words I spoke to anyone, because that evening fever took me, and I slipped into a coma. Dr. Britt finished examining me, and called my wife into my room. Lisabetta, he said, your husband's condition is grave. He will be gone very soon, perhaps by morning.  I could admit him to the hospital and they could drain his lungs and possibly revive him (No! No! Please let me die!), but even so, this will only happen again.
Thank god she let me go. If I had suffered, she had suffered twice as much–this still young, voluptuous woman who gave me enemas, this still young woman with wide-set brown eyes, who irrigated my bladder drain twice a day–thank god she let me go. This woman who turned away my neighbors, my old high school buddies–who thought they could get away with it--this woman who buried her wishes for my death deep inside herself--thank god she let me go.
Enough already.  Let’s talk about happier things.  I’m delighted you've settled down.  You even call your mother once in a while. And you’re finally making a little money–although you didn’t do so well last year. But you could have made so much more of yourself.  The opportunities you pissed away. What I could have done with them!  So many times I wanted to get up out of my bed and beat you. I mean beat you. Hurt you, like you hurt me.
If only you’d have found a nice girl, a Jewish girl. Those tramps you used to go with, one after the other.  Living together–uuuhhh! What kind of a way to live is that? And that one you married, what did you see in her? She was just as sick as you were. She was built, I’ll hand you that–every bit as nice as my Lizzie, from what I could see.
There were some good ones; that country girl, from Virginia. Now she was nice–even if she was flat as an ironing board. But the nice ones–those were the ones you treated like shit; you’d cheat on them, and then leave them, like the dirty little shit you were.
And that friend of yours, that sissy boy. I told you he was a sissy–I could tell the first day you brought him home. You were friends all through junior high, all through high school. But my god, how angry you got, when I warned you what could happen.
So much anger you had!  I’ll never understand. But that’s all past. Maybe it’s your new woman. Finally someone that’s good for you–even if she is a shiksa.
I tell you, I was right–you were crazy. Even now, a little. No wonder we get along. It’s so nice when you tell me about your life. And the things you remember, from way back, before I got sick. Teaching you how to swim, how to rotate tires. And the books I bought you. How you loved books! What you could have done with them.
Even so, I felt so comfortable, right away, when you leaned over me to listen, when I opened my lips to speak and my soul flew up out of my mouth and into your ear, I felt at home, like being with an old friend.
Oy, enough already. I love you, my crazy son.

Alan Abrams has worked in motorcycle shops, construction sites, and architecture studios. He has lived in the heart of big cities, and in the boonies on unpaved roads. His poems and stories have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Rat’s Ass Review, The Raven’s Perch, Bud and Branch (UK), LitBop, and others. His poem “Aleinu,” published by Bourgeon, is nominated for the 2023 Pushcart Prize.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Mother Mary by A. R. Tivadar

Romania is a very religious country.
There are statues of the crucifix at the entrance of every city
​and there are four bibles in my home:
​one black, one green, one blue,
​and the one with a red cover is from my mother's mom.
​My mother prays to the Virgin Mary more than any other figure.
​She prayed when she was struggling to get pregnant with my elder sister
​and when she was born she gave her the middle name Mary.
​One Easter there was a movie on TV about the last days of Jesus Christ
​and the actress who played Mary was Romanian.
​My sister and I watched it
​and seeing Christ tortured made me nauseous.
​One time at school we were crafting with paper.
​One of my classmates' mother and I share the same name.
​He scribbled a cross on a scrap of paper.
​When it was time to clean up, he was hesitant to throw the paper away
​because it would mean throwing the cross in the garbage.
​There is a Catholic cathedral in my city.
​My mother and I are Orthodox,
​but we visit it sometimes because it's pretty.
​The painting of the Virgin Mary has her wear pale pink and green.
​In other churches I saw it deep red and blue.
​My sister found out she was pregnant around Christmas
​and her due date was in the middle of August.
​On August 15th is the Feast of Assumption,
​when the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven.
​My sister gave birth to a baby girl on the 18th
​and her middle name is also Mary.
​My mother and I went to the Catholic cathedral
​And thanked the Virgin Mary for my niece.

A. R. Tivadar is a hobby writer from Romania and a graduate of the University of Oradea. She has been published in underscore_magazine and has self-published stories on twitter: @artivadar | instagram: @a.r.tivadar

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Afternoon at the Alzheimer’s Hotel By Curtis Blazemore

I say Hi Pop, and he forgets to forget who I am,

how he despises me, I mean all of me,

not merely a finite number of particular aspects

or characteristics or habits like

my liberalism or sarcasm or mesmerizing

hand movements he says I make when I talk,

but my being, my being alive simultaneous

with his manipulating everyone in his

sight. He refuses a bag of candy I bought him

with the same sneer I see in the dreams

where I’m still seven years old

and believe in wanting his attention like I believe

in Santa Claus, a jolly old fellow, who,

for other people, remains lovable despite the

elaborately cruel hoax. Lovable isn’t a risk

with my old man, who waves off a doting nurse

while asking for a glass of juice, since

They don’t serve beer in this crummy dump,

which by the way I better not be spending his

hard-earned retirement on. I drop

a piece of hard candy in my mouth, spearmint,

so the old fire in the back of my throat

might be dampened, just a little,

so I can resist yet again telling Dear Old Dad

his hated oldest is taking better care of him

then he did for any of his “ungrateful

kids.” Where are they by the way

he’d ask, if ever I did say such a thing out loud,

They’re safe in their homes, I’d say, 

figuring out how to forget you forgetting them.


Curtis Blazemore has been on the planet far too long, publishing various works in between having bad luck and making people rethink their faith in humanity. No matter. He see sentences in the exhaled smoke and scribbles furiously. He hopes someday to be able to afford a Greyhound bus ticket to Graceland.

Friday, June 9, 2023

An Unfinished Thought by Keith Pearson

They sat on the rocks

Beneath the lighthouse

And traced their journey there

From the maps on

The back of their hands.

Later his broken fingers

Combed the sand from

The tangled mess of her hair

And he slept his head cradled

By the soft curve of her belly.


Keith Pearson lives in Southern New Hampshire and works in the math department at a local high school.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Timing by Christina Chin/Uchechukwu Onyedikam

in waiting —
two years
green lemon
in ferment bottles


Uchechukwu Onyedikam is a Nigerian creative artist based in Lagos, Nigeria. His poems have appeared in Amsterdam Quarterly, Brittle Paper, Poetic Africa, Hood Communists and in print anthologies. Christina Chin and he have co-published Pouring Light on the Hills (2022). 

Christina Chin is a painter and haiku poet from Malaysia. She is a four-time recipient of top 100 in the mDAC Summit Contests, exhibited at the Palo Alto Art Center, California. She is 1st prize winner of the 34th Annual Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival 2020 Haiku Contest and 1st prize winner in the 8th Setouchi Matsuyama 2019 Photohaiku Contest. She has been published in numerous journals, multilingual journals, and anthologies, including Japan's prestigious monthly Haikukai Magazine.

Friday, June 2, 2023

"Where I come from the radio plays 25 hours a day" by Alan Catlin

After a lifetime of hard
drinking his red eyes
looked like twin suns
of a faraway world setting
into a dead place of sodden,
fetid swamp and noxious air.
The music of the careening
spheres inside him was
a living, breathing auditory
rap like a disco inferno
hallucination stuck in an
endless repetitive groove
no amount of alcohol could
drown out or subdue.
What he needed no bar
could provide, he was so far
beyond provision now the chorus
of voices trapped inside him,
crying out for help were like
the places between radio stations
where nothing recognizable
can ever be heard.


Alan Catlin has published in journals from the days of the mimeo revolution, in small press venues, to larger, more mainstream presses, to the internet poetry journal scene. He has three full length collections coming out in 2023 from Kelsay Books, Impspired and Roadside Press.