Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Poem by David Russell


Lurching, they bluster--ghouls into the chasm.

Fierce lava, blowing, nullifies their fall
And dissipates harsh gravity's concussion,
Forces a seething screen of phoenix cowardice,
Leaping to swell
Into a fresh, mendacious crust,
Tripping and throttling the led
Into a smear upon pure metamorphic beauty.

The skeleton's jaws yawn apart;
A stranded mountaineer was frozen
At his prime pinnacle,
Denied warm, compromised decay;
A calcium landmark now, but broken loose;
A boulder never neutral
To those in fear.

One gouged and bored--
New Sisyphus, with ever-sinking aspiration
For no stress, no fall--
For him the indefatigable light
Breathes limbo silicosis.

Can they combine?  Eternity transcends the cheap ideal
Of mutual obliteration.

A mountaineer trapped in a submarine,
A miner in a satellite,
A megalomaniac performing his own precious lobotomy
Hoping the abolished question mark
Can keep things safe and solid.

Purgation's smudged when bound to fire,
Denied release from fizzy process,
And even air can clog and sludge
The ultimate suction of life's syllables
Into fatuous pinprick stars,

No line can break full circle.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Poem by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Eyes to See

The flavor of carrots is generated by 36 genes;
29 of these genes,
inserted just so in the human genome,
confer near immortality--
works on 11% of us.

Folks don't react well, knowing
the people next door are going on without them.
Disaster on this scale is a cultural tsunami.

Not content with their brief
day in the sun, many of the 89%
               burn, rend, scream, kill:
               embrace death,
               if only they can take some
               immortals with them
               to the vanishing point.
It's over.  No one speaks of that time.

After the Mayfly Wars we begin the Live:
               artworks on a grand scale,
               literature refined to pellucidity,
               but creative breakthroughs, not so much,
               that's a game of youth
               and there is so little of that.

Carrots, carrot genes,
everything tastes like carrots
               broccoli, corn, potatoes, carrots
               tomatoes, peas, raspberries, carrots
               filet mignon, even human flesh:
               carrots, all.

Then folks get desperate, but
nothing works
the taste is in us
not the foot
               potting soil
you can run, but, you know . . .

So I'm trying to remember that genetics shtick
and it's hard, oh so hard, after unnumbered years
of purposeless satiation,
but I'm teaching this kid,
and she's getting it, and I've never prayed so hard
               for eggs, potatoes, rosemary,
               onions, chicken, pepper, apples,
               chocolate, artichokes, mango, mustard,
but no carrots.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel lives in a hollowed-out gourd hanging from a red oak out behind a house occupied by a colony of artists far more accomplished than he is.  A leaf lacquerer by trade, he edits The Lacquered Leaf and dreams of a day when his gourd will be hung from a black walnut.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Poem from Brendan McBreen

when life gives you lemons

the grass is greener
keeping the doctor away
the mice will
make mountains
out of the frying pan
into a gift horse's mouth
but don't cry over
all the tea in China
because the bigger they are
in glass houses
the harder they fly a kite
without a paddle
until the cows come home
in sheep's clothing

measure twice
die by the sword

and when in doubt


Brendan McBreen is a poet and workshop facilitator with Striped Water Poets in Auburn Washington.  He is a humorist, a haiku writer, a student of Zen and Taoist philosophy and psychology, a collage artist, a sometimes cartoonist, a Gemini, and an event coordinator with the Auburn Days festival in August.  He is a former coordinator of the August Poetry Postcard Fest and in 2009 was awarded a residency at the Whiteley Center in Friday Harbor.  Brendan has been featured at various local venues and is published in many journals including  Raven Chronicles, Bellowing Ark, Crab Creek Review, bottle rockets, Leading Edge, Origami Condom, Circle Show, in the anthology In Tahoma's Shadow, and in the UK journal:  The Delinquent.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Poem by Bryan Damien Nichols

Desires and Dreams

     -- for Alexander Shacklebury

Your desires are seen through dreams,
And your dreams, through desires:

          your desires:  your dreams:

As patent as an etching in graphite,
The result somehow stained in
Aureolin, boysenberry, turquoise, and lime--

Like strange ferns thrusting through electrified water
At chimerical dusk--

Like a Christmas tree you've never seen adorned
With bulb and trinkets and tinsel

           but hanging upside down.

Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Houma, Louisiana, on August 30, 1978.  He earned a B.A. summa cum laude, in Philosophy from Baylor University, and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  He has practiced law both in Houston and in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.  Bryan currently lives in Los Fresnos, TX, with his loving wife, Michelle.  Bryan is best known for the poetry he writes through his two heteronyms:  (1) Kjell Nykvist:  and (2) Alexander Shacklebury.  These two heteronyms were featured in Bryan's debut poetry collection, Whispers From Within (Sarah Book Publishing).  In this new collection, by contrast, Bryan writes in his own name, and explores numerous themes and issues that are important to him personally.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Two Poems by Sheikha A.


from a pot of pestled roses;
the hour of midnight prints
labels on foreheads of walls
hiding behind dirty glue, dried
toilet smells and secret closets
of re-fleshed skeletons; scrape
back a few inches to see life
curl into a wrinkled death, skins
on bones peached pink/melba
desserts/laced torso/girdled
thighs/bedside candle-plumed/
carpet of glass/lotion and whip--


Blue mountains on white snow
rest like gods returned from war;
chest armors scuffed with dust,
rectitude attacked with iron blades;
caves of victory like dug reticules--
worms once feasted on ripe roots
now travel towards a shortage
to harvest sleep under vapored
time; they will grow scorpion
claws, suck marrows dry,
tear out of sands,
be who they are,

Sheikha A. hails from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates.  With over 70 publications in various print/online publications such as Red Fez, Ygdrasil, a New Ulster, The Penmen Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Poetry Pacific, Mad Swirl to name a few, and many anthologies, she has also authored a short poetry collection titled Spaced (Hammer and Anvil Books, 2013) available on kindle.  Her poems have also been recited at two separate poetry reading events held in Greece.  She edits poetry for eFiction India.  She maintains all her publications on her blog

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Three Poems by A.J. Huffman

Embracing Change . . .

I’m settling in
and every minute can be
daunting.  Becoming
your nothing, I’ve met
with suggestions
on tweaks and additions.
One of the biggest developments
is a hope that you devour
what you love.

And what you don’t.

Masterful Interpreters of the Human Vibe

I thought everything was right
with the world.  I saw dark
eyes below the surface.  There were deep
days of secrets.  I thought I had everything
contained.  I soon learned betrayal
was a one-room efficiency
across the parking lot.  I have one foot
in a place I knew I could never leave
without dying.  I did not want to grow
up.  I did not want to learn
about wearing my sins like a blanket,
but I was in no position to change things.
The risk of chaos was always near,
and poison literally hung in the air. 
I saw it as the subtle difference
between hope and desire.  There was still
something pure about that.  Of course,
it helps to be able to breathe
in dirty air.

Ungusted Wind

Heavy silence
weighing on lungs,
waiting for another breath
of memory.  A tussled-hair anticipation.
A relief from smothering
heat that never comes.

A.J. Huffman has published twelve full-length poetry collections, thirteen solo poetry chapbooks and one joint poetry chapbook through various small presses.  Her most recent releases, Degeneration (Pink Girl Ink), A Bizarre Burning of Bees (Transcendent Zero Press), and Familiar Illusions (Flutter Press) are now available from their respective publishers.  She is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Best of Net nominee, and has published over 2500 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, The Bookends Review, Bone Orchard, Corvus Review, EgoPHobia, and Kritya.  She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Poem by John Pursch

Flytrap Knuckle Sawdust

Into hand and out of mind, the coldest of ancient time-lapse fusion generators peddles its wares to childhood memories of long-forgotten carousels of nameless visages gone to fallow graveyard icicles in soldered unknown pirouettes of bifurcated ovens, folding subterranean rivulets in periodic building creaks, settling boneyard catacombs for futuristic generations to dream about in wanton heat replay of slo-mo's levitating jungle.

Stumbling into memorized rotisserie of highfalutin crockery and tailings sifted hourly by time-reversal junkies stirring cream in partly cloudy skyline beach on lunging temporal islands, standing lunatic lobotic leaders in numbered turnstile overcoats of fleshy gabardine solution sets, frosting differential brainpan gears with choicest bits of drilling sturgeon sideways glance from hovering groupies bent on pants regard and buttoned flytrap knuckle sawdust, pent in pending pentagrams of sawed-off cocktail roundhouse blues, topless scurvy shopping lists, and catatonic spouse machines, left beached and frantic, unattended in the checkout eyes of cancelled kisses.

Down to final swallow of succulent drip-shoot coffee canteen cafeteria blintz eruption police evasion escargot, she laughs a lot in solid rewind perspiration, seated over caustic influx bellhop door of dourly diurnal dihedral detrimental daguerreotypes of dawn-smoke doppelganger decoupage, deftly daft in toffee-tapered topographical toboggan tense of crammed grammatical thunder, cashing year-long photographs of librarian heads in thuds from well beyond eternal stacks of spearfish periodicals from decades drummed with thumbing thigh-scan surgery of lost enabled duodecimal decisions dogs on skewered impetuosity to sweaty fever omnibus in cornered trimaran of basal hat collection crosstown catnap snips, ferociously entailed in governed mental squad rant volume population drift.

John Pursch lives in Tucson, Arizona.  Twice nominated for Best of the Net, his work 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.