Mary O’Keefe Brady

Withdrawal 

On snow banks
coins of frost mingle
with salt deposits
and nature cashs out.

Mary O’Keefe Brady hates writing bios and prefers that you simply enjoy her poems.

Michele Stepto

The Unfinished Poem 

It is not like seeing a bear loping across your path
ahead of you on the road
in the evening light

its fur rippling over its muscles and blacker than the dark
coming on, as black as licorice
or anthracite

as it finds its opening into the twilit woods and you idly
wonder what errand this moderate
hurry might

serve and whether this particular bear, however black
he might seem, could possibly be
the Norwegian White

Bear King ambling the woods toward the castle
and the princess waiting there, waiting
so they write

to marry a bear and change him back into a man
after sleeping with him (no questions asked
and never catching sight

of his true shape) for three or four nights (just feeling his fur
in the dark, silky and soft and
neither black nor white)

or else that Penobscot boy who got lost in the woods
and was taken in by a family of bears who
loved him despite

his being human, though he wasn’t that for long, not
after the bear hair sprouted and grew and
covered him up right

down to his plantigrade feet, so that one morning when he caught
a salmon between his teeth and ate it
raw and at first bite

began to bark with joy, just like a bear, his new
mama looked on with pride
at the sight

of this child of hers with his silky hair and his funny snout
and his sharp, sharp eyes
not quite

a bear yet, but coming along nicely, she thought.

Michele Stepto‘s work has appeared online at Verse-Virtual, What Rough Beast (at Indolent Books), NatureWriting, Mirror Dance Fantasy and Lacuna Journal.

Howie Good

The Storm That Was Given Your Name 

The very first time you were ever a storm
grooms dyed their hair the hectic candy colors
of old Wurlitzer jukeboxes, and either just before
or just after (no one can actually remember),
junkies and G-men assembled for secret peace talks
and gods in somber celebration showered only us
and sailors on nightmare seas with what was said
to be ash from the shirtwaist factory fire,
while the fire itself wailed like some vast silence
being twisted, roughly twisted by such big hands.

Howie Goods latest book is “Hitchhiking Through the Apocalypse” (Grey Book Press).

H. Edgar Hix

The Echoes

Worse than the screams
are the echoes that whisper,
“The emptiness is already here.”

H. Edgar Hix is still H. Edgar Hixing around south Minneapolis to the pleasure of a few, the dismay of a few more, and the complete indifference of most.

Lisken Van Pelt Dus

Healthier Lives

Build healthier lives through exercise,
the pamphlet vaunts, much healthier
than raising legs across the door
to block the three-year-old or
doing shoulder shrugs to hold the phone
while stirring mashed potatoes
on the stove and craning (stretch
those trapezoids) to check
the website that the nine-year-old has found
and so much healthier than running down
the stairs to get the laundry,
hauling it back up, and folding it
(remember how the arms spread in a jumping jack)
and here comes Dad
red from the gym and oh
so tired.

Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a poet, teacher, and martial artist gratefully making her way through the sentences of her life in western Massachusetts.

Benjamin Rozzi

Color

In 1995, I smeared spaghetti into my high seat tray,
making something that was once white
stained,

but in 2017,
I know it was stained before me,
and my hands were trying to make

art

out of destruction.

Benjamin Rozzi hopes everyone finds enough power in their words to be who they are.

Amanda Laughtland

Miss Match

With the pen we won playing Skee-Ball
I want to tell you how I used to

believe I fit the world like a glove
stuck in a sock drawer, but with you

I can laugh at any admonishment
as though it were blinking

in tiny green and orange lights
the way the Skee-Ball machine told us

“Try Harder!” when we would miss
its near-impossible bullseye.

Amanda Laughtland enjoys writing tiny poems and making tiny zines and collages.

J. R. Solonche

To My Eyes

Thanks, Brother Eyes,
if it hadn’t been
for you two guys,
I would have died
face down
in a rice paddy in ‘Nam
in 1965,
and here we are
alive.

J.R. Solonche is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (Five Oaks Press), and The Black Birch (Kelsay Books).