Simon Perchik


Here, there, the way silence

tows you below the waterline

and though you are alone


you’re not sure where her name

is floating on the surface

or what’s left


grasped by a single wave

that never makes it to shore

splashes as if this pen


is rowing you across the stillness

the dead are born with

–you are already bathing, half


from memory, half by leaping

from the water for flowers

growing everywhere –for you


this page, unclaimed :a knife

dripping with seawater

and your throat.


by Simon Perchik

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Osiris, The Nation, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, free e-books and his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at

To the Panhandlers of Northern Virginia

Today I thought I saw an ex-love

driving an old Mercedes

with stinking exhaust.

He had a beard

and drove slowly

as if he had no where to go,

as if he wasn’t the younger man

I held captive

in my memory.


Years ago,

right there in the dark—

we became birds

standing on a wire of resistance.

He was a flight risk.

I had a nest.


Ex-loves are panhandlers

of the heart.

They beg for remembrance—

loose change in a cup,

memories clink and spill.

Who can survive on this change?


At the intersection of Washington Boulevard

and North Roosevelt Street stands a man

with a sign that reads:

Bet You Can’t Hit Me

With A Quarter.

I pass him every Monday morning.

I’ve yet to throw a quarter his way.

Sometimes he smokes

and it’s so cold

I worry his hands are too numb

to pick up that quarter—

thrown hot from some hand.


by Sarah Lilius

Sarah currently lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. She is a poet and an assistant editor for ELJ Publications. Some of her publication credits include the Denver Quarterly, Court Green, BlazeVOX, Bluestem, and The Lake. She is also the author of the chapbook What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications 2014).

Avec O’Heaney


I’m stricken down
by overwhelming


my hands flagging
down my elbows
when I suddenly bent
them at asymmetric angles
and thrust them toward my second rib
to cry out a phlegmy Milwaukee born


I’m stricken up
like that often
you know-

I’ve watched you
you flinch with a smile
three seconds before it comes
knowing all

about the blended
and aimed reverence
laced tolerance
masking irritation
and dismissal I shove

into every
boisterous afternoon
I spend with you


by Steven Minchin

Steven enjoys capturing things he’s seen almost as much as things he has not. To date he has quite a collection of both. He makes Facebook his artistic warehouse and periodically promotes dead people there, elsewhere his work has appeared in Mad Swirl, Heavy Hands Ink, Short, Fast and Deadly, vox poetica, and Crack the Spine.

Rains Came Too Late

The fire gnawed the grasslands to bone-cracked earth on the way to our village. We hoped the lake would save us, the buckets of life we hauled from the shore, the trenches of dirt we overturned, the drenched rooftops.

We saw it writhing across the plane, rivers of light beneath rainless billows, bound for our storehouses, our livestock, our children. We beat at embers, singed our skirts, lost our hats in the breach. We unmoored our fishing boats and cast ourselves on the mercy of the inflammable.

The lake became a cloistered room of steam and sodden embers, roof of smoke, wringing the breath from our throats. We drenched aprons and handkerchiefs, tied them round our sons and daughters, round their ash-flecked faces.

When our rowboats scrape the shore, the ground is still hot, patched with guttering flames. The soles of our boots melt. The stones by the lake are blackened and cracked, and the cattle have vanished to ash. The evening is yellow and gray with smoldering.

We remember the purple flowers that flourished by the water, the grass that tumbled toward the shore. We remember the woods across the lake, its mosses and mushrooms, its birds’ nests, its deer.

We remember that the fish are still in the lake, and the boats are in the lake, and our sons and daughters lie sleeping in the boats.


by Brianne Holmes

Brianne Holmes lives and writes in Greenville, NC. Her work has appeared in the Ivy Leaves Journal of Literature and Art, in which she was also named the featured writer in 2012. She has a piece forthcoming in the Journal of Microliterature. Currently, she serves as an editorial assistant for the North Carolina Literary Review.

John Sweet: Featured Author

what becomes


you are breathing on the

frozen ground with broken ribs you

are smiling and we are higher up

between venus and the crescent

moon in the last seconds before

first light we are falling we are

praying are laughing at the

idea of someone else’s pain


are laughing in the tall grass and

she is turning away with

broken hands a bleeding mouth and

i have known her i have held her

and he is at the wrong end of

the gun


he is no one or at least is no one

we know and she is laughing

as the trigger is pulled


he is laughing and they are

breathing with their lungs full

of iridescent poison full of

broken glass and this is the

moment when she speaks my



this is the taste of

her salt on my lips


we are alone here together and

moving deeper

into the heart of salvation


a luminous song


baby shot in the head outside a liquor store,

held up like a shield by its father and

no one can tell you when this desert began and

no one can tell you where it ends


the maps are all drawn in black on black


the politicians all laugh


it can go two different ways

you see

and the dogs believe in violence and the

whores believe in money and

both will always lead to power


and the bay is dead and then the father

but it’s a long ways away in

both space and time


a warm summer evening on

the opposite coast and i’m 26


i’ve given up on heroes and i’ve given

up on god and what it feels like is freedom


a small surrealist game to be played in a




with polished stones and

bleeding hands and naked lovers


a pile of skulls left at the water’s edge

and the mother says he never

really wanted a child and

the humor in pain is sometimes difficult to find


the joy found in terrorizing others is

what makes us human


seems like what you’d actually want to

be is something

more or something less


an answer


life wasted crawling towards water beneath the

sky blue sky and these

last days of winter and this taste of dirty frost


this 10 below zero this neverending wind and all of

the furniture from

the burned house spread out on the lawn


jesus in his unmarked grave

dreaming lightning bolts


understands the kingdom of god is a

fairy tale for suckers and fools


knows in his endlessly dying heart that a man who

wants for nothing is a man who can never be trusted




and nothing and

nothing and then ten

below zero at five thirty in the morning



am just trying to remember how to

breathe and how to be

am through believing in gods

in heroes

from room to room
with absolute clarity


need a gun or a window or the
doorway to a different kingdom

need to be a fist


a believer in those happy

days of open wounds


a priest waiting to

fuck or be fucked


i would give you hope if i could

just for the pleasure of

taking it away again


the bleeding horse sings one last song over the graves of 500,000,000 nameless victims


and if all you are is a ghost or

even if i find only one small place that

isn’t enemy territory


if the dogs have all eaten

their fill of corpses


call it a victory without

naming the war


let me rediscover hope


let me drown in the

ocean of your beauty


it’s enough that what we have will

still matter

even when nothing else does


by John Sweet

john sweet, b. 1968, winner of the 2014 Lummox Poetry Prize. opposed to the idea of plutocracies attempting to pass themselves off as democracies, and to all organized religion. not too impressed with television, either. collections include FAMINE, INSTRUCTIONS FOR DROWNING and the upcoming THE CENTURY OF DREAMING MONSTERS.

Betsy Martin

Standing As Instructed


My mother still

under her sky-blue shroud,

with her head turned to the side.

I lie down beside her.


With my face close to hers,

hers unstirring,

I take her face in my hands.

Her cheeks, two peaches

left on the ground

after the frost,

grow warm and her eyes

open—her blue-green eyes

so rich with enigma.

She smiles

and the dew

of her single breath

awakens the closeness

we never had

and that I find

only in a poem.


My mother still

under her sky-blue shroud.

I stand

ten feet away,

as the funeral director

has instructed,

for reasons of sanitation.



Summer Vacation In Europe


Light glints off

my father’s ivory suit

in pointed rays like swords

that outshine even

the intense summer sun.


Thus armed, he orders

the day’s essentials

from restaurants, hotels.

I long for his gleam.


My mother’s is hazy,


as she explicates

walls of paintings and frescoes

in every museum and church.

I linger behind,


a reluctant tourist

in the dappled region

of age fourteen,

where, as in the arched womb

of a huge cathedral,

the perpetual dawn or twilight

smells of stone and mystery,

and glimmers flutter

high above

like white birds

caught under the ceiling.


by Betsy Martin

Betsy Martin works at Skinner House Books in Boston. She studied at Harvard University, where she earned an AB in English and American literature; the Pushkin Institute in Moscow and the Middlebury Russian School, where she graduated with an MA in Russian language; and Brown University, where she received an MA in Russian literature. When Betsy happens by a window in her busy schedule, she enjoys bird watching with her husband and playing the piano. Betsy’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Alembic, Assisi Journal, Barely South Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly (Best of the Net nomination), Existere, Front Range Review, Gemini Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, The Helix, Limestone Journal, Louisville Review, Magnapoets, Minetta Review, Organs of Vision and Speech, Pirene’s Fountain, Sanskrit, Schuylkill Valley Journal of the Arts, and Weber—The Contemporary West.



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