Thursday, October 22, 2015

Three Poems by Taylor Graham

How She Does It

My dog leaps boulder to boulder,
perfect balance, not thinking where
she puts her feet.  Nose to the wind,

          she factors slant of sun
and shadow, updraft, eddy, convection
off hot granite, bacterial action
on particles of scent--

                    the missing boy passed
this way.  She performs tightrope
math in midair, works out fluid-dynamics,
meteorology, the smell of DNA.

                              I'm lost in her
universe of real-life hide-and-seek;
          I can only trust, and try to follow.

How does she doe it?  Instinct
to pursue, over any obstacle, one
unique scent in all the world of humans--

          answer to an equation
no computer has yet solved.
                              One lost child.

Full Moon Ripples

The boat ramp was hot enough
to cauterize a wound.
The missing lady's relations
had told their stories and disappeared
to shady spots, to wait for news.
Evocative of a murder mystery, but
they said it was just another
full-moon August evening on the lake.
A break in the surface, ripples,
a cooling hint of spray--nothing more.
Belated call for help.  In case
the missing woman reached shore,
we searched upslope; bed-
rock mortar where Indians ground
their acorns long ago; a pool
no bigger than a muddy cup of damp
where a golden rattlesnake coiled,
guardian of the dried-up creek.
We climbed the heat-
ladder to its top.  This is all
we know.  She disappeared like
ripples on a full-moon water.

Breed Wardens

If they're not here already
maybe they'll never come to snatch
my first-born, my chosen, telling me he's not
perfect.  My red-golden sable pup--

a color not in the breed standard.
He leaves offerings on the carpet, no matter
how I lead him like a partner in the dance--
out the door, chanting "do your"

Poo-poops, pup of mine!"  Mouth open
to praise Creation, he takes the world
in bright-sharp baby-teeth and shakes it,
tastes its spirit.  Cavalier suitor is he,

rhapsodizing on my ankle, my sleeve.
Let them take him if they can.
I'd sleep all night unwakened, unnuzzled,
in unencumbered peace, unloved.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada.  She's included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman's Library, 2012) and California Poetry:  From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004).  Her book, The Downstairs Dance Floor, was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize.  Her latest book is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013), poems about living and working with her canine search partners over the past 40 years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Two Poems by Linda M. Crate


3/4 of you was a haiku
the remaining 1/4
was distance
and silence
ruminating for more than 1/2
of our relationship,
and the despondence of my heart
was so easily magnified
by only 1/18th of your insincerity and treachery
you were a man of 1,000 faces;
none of them knowing the name of love
1000 histories
zero of them representing anything
of humanity
which leads me to believe that your essence
is wholly inhuman
you were dead before you were begun
living only mechanically to please
the 1/8th of your that actually
remembers how to breathe.

card game

riddle me this, riddle me that:
tell me why are you the mad hatter
if you have no interest in alice?
you should just let me take the role
because i am 3/4 absurd,
and i could drink the tea and dance with
the rabbit better than you could;
you're simply logic and reason without a dram
of imagination
it's why you can't go from point a to point b
without being anything less than predictable,
but i fall down rabbit holes
walk through labyrinths throw logic and caution to the wind--
i step out of sync
because i don't want what the world has
i am simply content in being me,
and i think that hat would look better on my head so why don't
you paint the roses red?
i'll flip the deck,
and burn all the wicked cards soon enough
so you may as well live before you're
clubbed by your own cruelty
king of clubs.

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville.  Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print.  Recently her two chapbooks A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press -- June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon -- January 2014) were published.  Her fantasy novel Blood & Magic was published in March 2015.  Her novel Dragons & Magic is forthcoming through Ravenswood Publishing.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Poem by Theresa A. Cancro


In the middle
of the night, I see
late running down the walls,
I crawl over, can't
lick it off,

know if it has peanut but-
ter or malt bits
it will stick to the roof
of my mouth,
jam things up.

Moth balls clog the hall
closet next to Mom's
muskrat coat, the one
she hoped looked enough
like mink to fool
the neighbors, a slick

joke, but the cloying
odor of naphthalene
stings my nose,
always there.

Theresa A. Cancro writes poetry and short fiction from Wilmington, Delaware.  Dozens of her poems have been published internationally in online and print journals, including Jellyfish Whispers, Pyrokinection, The Artistic Muse, Plum Tree Tavern, The Zen Space, Lost Paper, Brass Bell, The Heron's Nest, A Hundred Gourds, Chrysanthemum, Shamrock, Cattails, and Presence, among others.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Three Poems by John Pursch

Scrambled Newsprint Blues

Moisture arcs above in giant graceful paths of turbulent evacuation, stanching the flow of bloodless coups and revolving door cataclysms from tethered teapot Thermidor to toppled demagogue delusion sets to ergonomic capsule crews of worlds in frantic workflow cost erosion mesh.

A small explosion rips the hillsides, sending insecticide merchants into histrionic repair.  Covetous billboard watchers veer into oncoming traffic, taking out whole bridges of leering jumble-headed anti-intellectuals, unreal cessation tweakers, manned noumena, and chained phenomenal distraction police.  Teary-eyed roommates bid themselves intermittent adieu in candid sordid tiddlywink denouements of dialectic traction pairings, heaving switchback sidecar overtures at clovered turncoat passers by.

No one seems to come to in time for anything to be done, to dawn upon the Shetland poser's saddled soap, to bar the bottled termagant from opening another hamstrung conversation bauble, derailing Israeli unification for yet another conned piling's irreducible meltdown.

Cowering in steeping beanbag folio suffusion, bromide seeps from scratchy screenings to self-test ritual promenades, filling incessantly potable manicures with snail contusions, ripening octogenarians beneath cold kindergarten blanket bungalows.  Fodder follows from Marxian baseboards funnels in fusillades of oscillating kisses, flipping babies out the balky window, wrapped in lace and cheaply scrambled newsprint blues.

Downtown Watchingstoned, T.V.

Winter branches freckle the rocks with fallen leaves, tiny green spectators of gravity's relentless tubular embrace.  Gears fill the road, transporting trash, recycling worn-out wizened tourniquets of timed-out temptations, left stranded by buttered waves of formless idiosyncratic donut holes of consciousness impaired by frozen grapefruit partisans and croutons of our sad remains.

Echoing slowly into curvature's compelling fixative of lurid cavitation, potent thrills awaken in the hearts of nubile hitchhikers, merged from deep within our subtle memories of dime-store cavern discotheques and moonlight romance dream charades that some would say could never happen, never did, never will nor ever were so much as hinted at in tomes of silent pleasure plans of seekers, yearners, privateers on open seas in seizure of the finest hopes and sworn-off disillusioned sailboat liens in gunny sack dirigibles sold in ransomed truculent misery, known to everyman as simple lust, immovably intact for centuries, informs our every motive from the ground-up neural naval-stretching contents of intentional duress to far-flun motes in caricature of glad and luminescent tidings, to greet creation's delving representatives; a million days in retroactive travel.

Timed imagination cedes the interval to endpoint fallacies in limited congestion tunes of cough house probity taught nightly into dawdling onset peppercorns and soft redundant bells.  Hammers swing to coxswain calls around the coldcocked dumpster hives of shirkers, tee-shirt-wearing bone retardant feather binders, and frosted enfilade extrusion freaks, on curt cacophonous parade through downtown Watchingstoned, T.V.

Guano Factotum Grit

Bellyaching bellbottom clavicle crumpets fly from frozen thunder days of soaring peripheral horn contamination spume to closed enraptured piebald face plate limp petard feathers of our histrionic youth league sky puppet war zone, masquerading as peritioneal hiatus husks of shorn tabulation geeks gone sideways into shale.

Oafs caress each foolish crevice with tendons of looping clarity, hover into punctuated handball spies, and clasp enamored tartar sills with itchy biceps, plunking down haughty termite siege engorgement potions in lieu of tardy croupier flubs.  She knelt before the swollen hyena's plural bicycle nut, smelting corn gibberish into sexy imploded yams of slurping steeple filtration weeks, spanning coarse mentation's excruciatingly silent pistol.

Thereupon a scratch was waylaid by revolving hamster queens from stun time deterrent hands, moping into tertiary guano factotum grit within a singer's fallow nails.  Springs had sung of shoreline escapades, escapees drained a bald ten-footer from basal idiosyncratic cloven hauteur, and periodontal craftsmen spilled sebaceous beanery ingredients in tufts of highway junction mocha foci.

Chelated halitosis urns serrated yesteryear's pellucid pollywog with earshot undercarriage sips of crankcase solder soil impellor hog repeater combination frocks, sworn off and on in chesty beanbag locomotion sumps.

Far beside an itsy buxom fratricide inciter's hidebound cormorant expulsion paper, a measly stippled catamaran of punchy throne enhancement steed relief came wallowing down uptown crotch deportment stereotypes of teenage vital heifer region unguent chants in unison with stratified bumper cordials and flowery capsule air.

John Pursch lives in Tucson, Arizona.  His work has been nominated for Best of the Net and has appeared in many literary journals.  A collection of his poetry, Intunesia, is available in paperback at  His experimental lit-rap video is at  He's @johnpursch on Twitter and john.pursch on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Two Poems by Stefanie Bennett

Frontier Love Poem

When they zip-opened
Her chest
It was discovered
She had two

One for  the cut-out
One for
the "transient"



"For a person of Zen/no limit
exists" Muso Soseki . . . . . . . .

"Born Again?"
                "No," she says.
                "In the first place
I'm a single digit
Reading "The Farcical
Address Book
Of The Dead."

"And how,"
               she asks,
               "Are you

Stefanie Bennett has published several volumes of poetry and had poems appear with Dead Snakes, Poetry Pacific, Snow Monkey, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Boston Poetry Magazine, Mad Swirl, The Mind[less] Muse, and others.  Of mixed ancestry [Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee], she was born in Queensland, Australia, in 1945.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Three Poems by Michael H. Brownstein

A Need for More than Sleep

slinking, linking, drinking
blinking, blinking, blinking
four dollars more sleep to go
the headache lust in the mall
the headache
the headache does not know its place
          the headache, snug
the headache in two manglescripts
          one within reach
          the other wet and cold, outside the door in the snow
you make a miracle and nothing else comes of it
a puzzle and boulder
a bounty and pebbles
a rookery of root and rock
this knead of living on a tongue depressor and condom
the tree hid a dinosaur in its shape
the tread of hair and skin (her skin)
the disorder of distraction
nor will it be by one of the many gods belonging to anyone of us

After the Fact

It's time for me to retire, the dead man said.
Retire from what?
I don't know.  I can't catch the rain.

When the world comes to an end not by swamps of jellyfish
thriving in acid pools nor by one of many gods belonging to anyone of us
but late at night the moon whitewashed and gravy
the heart letting go of its last Nigerian beat
a shadow drum, a conch, a Burkina gita
each beat softer whispering softly
the brain pauses for a second and allows itself to turn itself off.

You do know you're dead?
I want to see yellow sweet clover one last time, the dead man answered.
And your world--, the other man said, your world is dead, too.

You Live the Life You Live and Then You Live the Life You Live

you live the kind of life you live
this from the gift of nails
this from the gift of corn
a psoriasis of snow
two windows
a king enters the space between panes of glass
and sees the walls beyond them
this is his kingdom of anticipation
when the wise man comes to the great room
he joins his king and looks into the middle
he too sees great walls, but he sees also a great door
two windows
a line of foundation
darkness lit only by a single bulb
a gift of shadow
the rust in the corner is rust in the corner.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses.  His work has appeared in The Cafe Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology  of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2012).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).  Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago's inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Poem by Lance Sheridan

The Sugar-House

The puddling furnace for the pig iron T-rail
for the fat-cat, clean shaven
rail riders who wore silk shirts made in the
sugar-house. . . they adorned
shapely trimmed facade clothes and the
white jib to protect their
thumbs; sat at the stumpy bars drinking
bourbon cold with the
saw-ice . . . carried around daguerreotype
self-portraits, "O you robust
sacred reaping machines;" you ran the
sweat shop company stores
and handed out paper-mache script to
feed your caulked iron kettles . . .
goods sold to the unsuspecting paintbrush
public, whitewashed by the
'hook' . . . they wound up poor, fiddling like a
riddled old homeless person
on a tarnished spoon; winter's cold and coffins
filled, plaited into daisy fields.