Slow Koan

Most things are not the end

Of the world. You know this.

But on this day

You can’t hold the world’s atoms together


Not with the muscles of your mouth

Still making the shape

Of the last thing you said to him.


Not with blood under fingernails

From hanging too long

Like a gymnast spinning a slow koan

Against gravity.


The last person you loved

Was an avalanche, dear

To you once in a way

That flattened the landscape.


Where does love go after

You press it into the ground

With a face full of blood and

vomit in its hair?


It would not be the first thing

Ever to rise from the dead.


You’ve done it yourself more than once,

Taught yourself how to die and come back

Between eye-blinks

Without anyone knowing.


Jenny Williamson


Jenny’s work has been featured in 24Mag, Wild River Review, Poetic Voices, and in Philadelphia’s Writing Aloud series. Jenny also received recognition from the Academy of American Poets and NPR’s Young Poets Series.

The Woman Who Moves the Earth

She hops down from the dump truck’s crusty side

and climbs up into the earth mover as graceful

as a gymnast, pony tail bouncing

behind her John Deere baseball cap.

She wields the blade

of the machine and in minutes

levels a great mound of soil

into flat-out respect.

The admiration in which I held my ex-wife

comes to mind. How

when the pipes leaked

she slid under the sink

wrench in hand, saving the day

while I just held her flashlight.

But this is about a woman

who moves the earth

with just her fingers

on the leash of a great yellow beast,

and though she’ll never know,

holds me in the palm of her hand.


Bill Wunder

Bill Wunder’s poems have twice been nominated for The Pushcart Prize, and in 2004 he was named Poet Laureate of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His poems have been a finalist in The Robert Fraser Poetry Competition, The Mad Poet’s Society Competition twice, and The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards three times. He has previously been featured in Burningword Literary Journal and was included in Burningword Ninety-Nine, A Selected Anthology of Poetry 2001-2011.


The air has split

open, and

the townspeople

are dropping

in heaps.

They’re falling



on swings,

splayed on

the sun-specked


hunched over

on park benches.

Snores push

upwind, around

the brick

outhouse, onto

the streets. No

one’s awake to



Outside a house, sixteen tiny flags still line the front lawn,

leaning in the wind like sixteen tiny matadors

swaying, not stepping, on beat.

Inside, a baby sits before a silent television,

crumpling a newspaper in her fists just for the sound.

From afar, the town is a nova crackling,

almost vanishing,  reappearing, on the horizon.


Mia Hood

Mia Hood is a doctoral student and graduate instructor at Teachers College, Columbia University and Assistant Professor of Practice at Relay Graduate School of Education. She teaches teachers. Previously, she taught middle school students how to read better and write better. She keeps a blog called Dinosaur Sweaters.

Jamie Lynn Heller

On a Chilled Wind

Winter comes to tell us to be still,

to stand and look out windows

onto landscapes scrubbed barren

by winds that scrape away the excess,

to watch snow laid down piece by piece

on the smallest twig

as scraps of the discarded, imperfections,

are gently smoothed into graceful curves

by chills that tingle toes, crisp ears,

push us back into places

where blankets and warm drinks

invite us to sit down.


What Once Was

An old photograph,

a startling scent,

a hesitant moment

of almost recognition


draws my finger tips

to the shallow pool

of that other time,


and it’s colder

than I remember,


the liquid clutches,

pulls to stay with me

for a moment,

loses its grip and falls,

sending ripples

through the memory

of the me that once was

who knew the you

that no longer exists.


there is a place

there is a place between

awake and conscious

that is not easily torn


a place encircling

intent and movement

that clings to stillness


a place connecting

forgiving and forgetting

that slips thoughts


where we get caught

in the light of dead stars



the first sighing movements

heralding a breeze,

yielding of the night’s

warbling notes

as winter’s first tear lets go,

brush of a reach

in the womb,

sparrow caught

in an updraft,

until a waver

brings a chance

and we can, for a grasp,

feel the earth rolling


Jamie Lynn Heller


Poetry is Jamie Lynn Heller’s caffeine. She is a mother, wife, and high school counselor who gets up before the house starts to stir to write. She has pieces published or accepted at Prairie Schooner, Tule Review, The Main Street Rag, Noctua Review, Gargoyle, Earth’s Daughters, Flint Hills Review, I-70 review, Avocet, Storyteller Magazine, Little Balkans Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, Diversion Press, KC Voices Magazine, KC Parent Magazine, The Whirlybird Anthology of Kansas City Writers, and many others.

Even in winter

Why can my life
from time to time

not fade
to black?

I long for a certain sort of reprieve,
for the baritone aspects

of a relief
that seems final,

but which you can come out of
once you’re ready

for more of
whatever the world

doles out.

The closest I’ve gotten
is an overslept

but even that

was filled with strange dreams,
irregular breathing

and a sharp diagonal

light. Still in bed
I look out my window,

the height from the street
momentarily lends

a mild vertigo.

I just want the night to last
a little longer,

I think,
trying to go back

to sleep
and failing.

Anton Frost


Anton Frost has appeared in Parcel, Verdad, The Bacon Review, Grasslimb, and elsewhere. He lives in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Aaron Brown

N’Djamena, Meaning ‘We Will Rest’

The day the looters broke into our house was the shot fired

as my father yelled and the fear that came with it, the window

darkened by the men looking in and the scuffing of sandals on

a packed-dirt yard, the grind of metal loosened, the voices

between walls, the bullet that never came, and the hack job that

never was by a drunken soldier wielding a machete under-

oiled and over-used on thickets by roads and rows of bodies.


I waited for an execution like at my friend’s house two years

before when a rebel was found hiding and forced to kneel,

a bullet to his brain. I waited against the wall seeking flatness,

transparency, hoping the shadows never recede. This was the end

of going to bed with no thought of fear, the beginning of chilled

sweats, the beginning of sounds signaling the departure of a place

once known—the sound of curtains riding wind, ceiling fans beating

air, the sound of opened bags and belongings strewn across the floor,

of receding taillights and a street littered with empty shells.



Sky dark when she goes to work

and dark when she returns, Fatima

picks her kids up from school


and picks her groceries up late

and picks herself up when the length

of day wears her. Her boys make faces


and talk with strangers, and they don’t know

the face of their father or fathers,

knowing only to eat, sleep, wake


the bus will get you soon,

come in the dinner gets cold,

don’t play ball in jeans on wet grass—


the stain will not come out. It’s all right,

it’s all right, she still sings at night,

folding laundry to the tune of a Bantu-


laced language and hoping that her children

will hear her as they sleep and wake up

speaking anything but English.



He had invited me over for coffee, and so we sat

sipping clear glasses—the way he always made it

syrup-sweet, sludge-thick so that it burns the throat.


We sat in his one-room mud house, on a flowered rug

shuttled across oceans and deserts to reach us

on the Saharan edge, windswept and forgotten.


I watched him heat coals in a brazier, place them

in an iron and hover his hand over its surface,

judge it ready to press fresh clothes.


I watched as he spread his shirt across the rug,

brush it with heat until it lost its wrinkles,

then fold it with a hand, his only good hand,


which had survived a botched birth, broken

in his brother’s wake and set by a marabout

tying it too tight with unskilled hands—


the arm still twisted eighteen years later,

a reminder of the mother who died giving him life

and the brother, unblemished, whose prospects


are as clear as the skies emptied of harmattan rain

when his own cloud over, doomed to watch others

drive the herds out in the morning or mount


the market trucks as hired hands. I know he irons

every Saturday. He sprinkles water on a pair of pants,

picks up the iron, brings it down, presses and repeats.

Aaron Brown


Aaron is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Maryland and the author of the poetry chapbook Winnower (2013) as well as the novella Bound (2012), both published by Wipf and Stock. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Warscapes, The Portland Review, North Central Review, Saint Katherine Review, The Penwood Review, Polaris, Illya’s Honey, and The Prairie Light Review.

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