Losing to a $2.50 Bottle of Cabernet at the Library on a Thursday Evening

Full red

Library wine

Tongue coated in vinegar crackle

I decide to dabble into poetry

Just me

and Ahmad Jamal’s jazz piano trio

Playing the keys to my brain

Raindrop, waterfall

Oak barrel notes

Even though

All mine I crumple up and throw away

Chest resounding in vinyl fuzz

My heart brain unlocks

And plastic chair rocking

I douse my pen in cheap red ink

And begin again

Meandering scribbles

Sound sketches

Bass plodding deep and pensive

Dark and deliberate

I commiserate now with Mingus, Miles, Monk

Simone and Trane

Vain nostalgic searches

Cold moonlit silhouette verses

Jazz sounds like poetry

Holy blood, divine liquid lines


Half Full

Pen flowing

Ink glowing

A page appears

I haven’t seen before

Alive, shimmering Lionel vibes

I throw a black and white textbook

At the white and black floor

Flecks of winey residue

Flecks of truth

Get stuck in my teeth

And color my lips blue

And Suddenly

Half Empty

Heart heavy

Bladder filling

Tongue-tied delirious I get


And seeping through this half-drunk numbness

Burgundy sadness

Poetry like jazz sounds

Wine like poetry feels

Congealed two-fifty

Self-fermented pity

Dark and red drowned

Wallowing prosetry

Lose pen and then

I’m alone again




Numb veins




To this sad jazz

Wine brine









by Zach Milkis


Zach Milkis is currently an undergraduate English and Political Science major at Santa Clara University originally from Friday Harbor, Washington. His poems and short stories have won various local prizes including recognition at the San Juan County Fair and publication in At Home Magazine. He served on the editorial board for The Santa Clara Review, and has volunteered teaching creative writing and poetry to students from San Jose, California to Cape Town, South Africa.

Number than

I.   first base  


One could have all kind of kooky conversation

with the certain combinations of flowers.


Yesterday we talked with rue.

Periwinkle for  pernicious wishes.

Daffodil for        hello, put me in your pocket.


Arum lily for I’ll cling to your skirts.

Ivy for you’ll choke me for years after I’ve left.

Forget-me-not,                    did you never realise?


Goldenrod for   sniggering into your scratchcards.

Next,      high-speed flower arranging,


or, reading the clouds like tea-leaves

f’r’example, modest oblong clouds first

lining up the wholeway horizon-across

and the sky it goes the wholeway round


you’re  at the Highline though, where

the vegetation was CHOSEN, yes, to

PAY HOMAGE oh glory BE, to the

wild plants which indeed had colonized


th’abandoned railway, the choochoo trickish

tracks, before it was repurposed, oh!

New York!



II. thither


(to the work, then)


Transcription: this is where the words are written down

without discussion.

Shibboleth:   this is where the word is written down

without discussion.

Name:   this is where the name is written down

without discussion.

NAME IT!:    this is where the name is written down

after discussion.

“secrecy”: this is where the names are written down

without discussion.

Gentle reminder that none of this is any of your business:

this is where there is no discussion.

Excellence and hard work are possible at the same time probably:

this is where there is discussion.

Signature: this is where the name is written down.

The co-signatory was missing from the conference:

this is where the name is not written down

after discussion.


III.    two too late


three being two

a list, beginning

my retarded son

I am envied

the shame fell

you disgraced me

terrible times together

drink it over

now we gather

the lost things

my son my

son oh Absalom

Absalom my son

the last time

we were together

you heard me

a broken record

turned against me

a record broken

which makes three

time times time

I am envied

two is three

the unknown code

you my family

the cruellest bones

the necessary marrow

denial with blindness

the heart’s sorrow

for the lost

for the last

for the blistered

for the burnt

for the starving

for the falling

for the hell

for the fun

for the glory

for the money

for the children

for my son

oh my son

the terrible lesson

the fearsome book

the awful page

the last look


IV.   hither




Here is the manner, four-

wingèd spite full’f gurning.



The watchman fell at the o’clock

   his regret was sounded loud.


Here is the dream. It

    churns and circles and curses, it

    spits mongrelly teeth, up-

    airs them to the cloudless up.


They never sound as loud as when you

    don’t speak words at them: they never

    are heard more than they’re listened to.    




V. twentyish


What does it mean, he says,  Win — chest — er ?

    From Belfast no I don’t believe it with your accent,

you aren’t German? Polish? How d’you come to be here?

    I’m staying in The Clink , I am , but I’m, I am a free man.

Why did the cathedral bells ring? for

    all Souls’  or all  Saints’ ?  what was the word ?

Solder, or, the linden tree    ?

    Yes, he says, I use the darkest charcoal for your eyes.


His art materials spiralled from The Marriage of Figaro,

for example, matching it all, as sort of romantic,

sort of unexpected & spontaneous, sort of unavoidable,

sort of making sure I lost that job, sort of.


Señorita , he says  (fivefold flatterer),

Sarah of the good skin,

of the poetic and Biblical name , of the dark, sad eyes

and the gentle lips and the poet’s long thin hands.


From fond España, no, Odessa, he was, and divorced, a

cartoonist of politics who, he studied Holy Art at

(oh, Oh Holy Art!) Milan, Odessa, London, now, on a London bridge.


Writing a poem was the only faithful elephant of the deal.

Nevertheless      I      loved   this person,

just like all the inappropriate



VI.    visionary(’s) proposal:


I am just the imaginative cockroach for you.

Our hair will grow still long after short-

term cryogenics.  We’ll be refrigerated   right?


These decisions must be made and stuck to regard-

less of loss of sealsong, wherever you keep the knowledge –

your guts’ll do.


Not really since   your brothers still are dead there, in the

narrative background, historic, in the some-term freezing studio.

The stadium fills with cold undead, unsinging.


The library ’s where we keep tomorrow’s records : many

more dead than have lived a full and, &/ or

happy life.

Paper skeletons  have been chewed

to pieces  by once domesticated cats.

Don’t hang them on the

December trees!

New disturbances  will last a century, we are  ho-

bblede  –  hoy in-

to tomorrow spit

spat towards crunch gravel earth spatter crunch.

In an hundred years’ time we two’ll be living oh six  days  a  head.


by Sarah McKee 


Sarah McKee lives near a lake in Berlin. She inhales a large amount of comedy. She, too, has an irregularly tended blog: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/gormandgasp. Publications and projects include Metal Magazine (upcoming), Poems Underwater (upcoming), This Recording, The Moth, Blackbox Manifold, Veer, Varsity, Volta, The Harker. Kiez Oper (upcoming), These Carewon Cairns (sound installation, Scott Polar Research Institute), Bonesong (contemporary opera, Carmen Elektra).


Owen Lucas poetry



Nature morte : l’atelier de l’artiste, 1891

If the knife should lay upon a white tablecloth,
Half turned towards a vase of painted china
In which posed flowers collide, and of which the
Curves show startled faces of daisies, all dulled
In a tangential evening light from the window ;

If the roofs and chimneys should bask in their
Obsolescence as in the last heat of the day,
Raising their perpendiculars to the raw heaven,
Unchanged by the fleet paths of birds that pass
Between the shaded window and their dull clay ;

If the fruit should sit in a glow from the rooftops,
Seeming to swim in uncertain forms, lovely and
Dark as a child’s wet hair, in a china fruitbowl
That funnels whitely from the table like a splash
Of spilt cream, pale-skinned, yellow and green ;

Who then shall say this nature is captured where
It lies, or that it is the artifact of crude cohesion?
We parse it out among its very fragrances! Our
Love is no drawn and vivisected thing. Deposons.
We will watch the fruit in their deathless light.







Rabbiner, 1914


His gaze is steady.

Black and white in his beard, and

                               In the cloth

Of his tallit, threads of which trail

Across his lap. Black the kippah

                               At his crown,

Out of which wild hair blows,

                               Pale gossamer,

Manipulated by a shallow breeze.


His hands are bloodless as after

Illness, and in the right a tzitzit

                               Lies limply

Held between ring and little finger.

Its black and white wind endlessly,

                               A trail of stars

Across the darkness of his shawl.


Light plays across his brow, and in

The slight concave

Of the bridge of his fallen nose.

                               He seems to

Watch for a motion in the air.







Rimbaud : OPHÉLIE I

On calm, black water, where the stars sleep,

Pale Ophelia floats like a great lily,

Floats almost motionless, bound in her long veils.

From the far woods, calls sound.

For more than a thousand years, Ophelia

Passes, a white phantom, on the long, dark stream ;

For more than a thousand years, her sweet folly

Murmurs its romance to the evening breeze.


The wind kisses her breasts, giving out in corollae

Vast curtains that are shaped softly by the waters ;

Trembling willows weep over her shoulders, and

The reeds incline over her broad, dreaming brow.

Crumpled waterlilies sigh around her ;

Sometimes, in a sleepy inlet, she disturbs a nest,

From which a shivering of slight wings escapes :

An obscure music falls from the golden stars—



Owen Lucas is a British poet living in Norwalk, Connecticut. He grew up in rural Cambridgeshire, and began writing as a student at the University of London. His poems have been published in reviews and journals on both sides of the Atlantic, with work soon to feature in Eunoia Review, The Round, Vector Press, the James Dickey Review, 94 Creations, North Chicago Review, Forge and Clarion. His first chapbook is forthcoming in September, from Mountain Tales Press.

Whitney Lee Nowak poems

Good Food 


Eating a bruised McIntosh apple lifts me out of Chinatown where no one is cheering on this hot Indian Summer.  Feeling the soft spot through the skin under the thumb in time with a bite brings back dirty hands reaching for fruit, twisting the gift from the branch.  I am on mother’s shoulders for no other child will do.  One brother, too heavy, the other, too little.  He may get hurt.  If I take both hands from her face I will fall, but I need both hands—one to steady the tree limb and one to pull.  The October sun in my eyes, I let go and reach.  I grasp the branch and the fruit…Or do they—the branch, the fruit—move into my hands to steady me? I do not fall.  I toss the apples, 29 cents a paper bag, to the ground and my brothers scurry to collect them.  They are gold!  Apples are food—good food, filling, cheap.  No matter if it’s brown.  Mother says, Cut it out!  Or wormy.  It’s protein!  I don’t have to eat this apple. Now, my fridge is full of organic this and natural that.  I did not pick it.  I don’t have children I need to feed.  I don’t need to cook.  There’s 20 bucks on the coffee table and a Prosperity Dumplings three doors down.  I eat around the bruise, chew down to the core, every piece of flesh possible before I hit seed.  I don’t know when I’ll eat again.  I’ve stockpiled leftovers from school lunches in the back of my bottom dresser drawer—half a peanut butter sandwich, half a salami sandwich, half an apple (now brown where bitten), in case, there is no dinner tonight. I can take care of myself.




My Senegalese Student Reading English to Me


A single boy dribbling a basketball in an empty wooden-floored gym.  His entire body pivots like a door loose from its jamb.  His arm hooks in a question mark as he takes a shot.


A breath


The furry bee buzzing round my head is lovely as it follows its own path, ducking, bobbing, dancing past my ear.  It’s not just noise.  There is no stinger.  And away it goes.


A breath


Nearly dry sheets, pinned to the washline, flap and foxtrot in the wind.  Hang.

Catch their breath.


And breathe.




Family Weekend at Rehab


In our therapy session

we are given pens that read

“House of Hope”

and surveys with questions like:

Does your spouse/family member

hide his/her drinking/drug use.

a. Always
b. Most of the time
c. Sometimes
d. Rarely
e. Never

The group leader leaves the room

and scribbles fill the air.

The woman next to me bubbles

and erases and bubbles and erases

when A and E are all the same thing.


During our break

I fill my Styrofoam coffee cup

with hot water and head for

the ladies room.  No caffeine

in this joint.  I smuggled a can

of instant Nescafe

in my sweatshirt.

I watch the mother of a

teenage girl in treatment

check her makeup

in the mirror.  She smiles,

“Get ready for tears this weekend!”

and disappears out the door.


Back in the meeting room,

people are beginning to chat.

When I tell them I’m here

for my boyfriend,

not a husband,

a brother,

a father,

nor son,

I wonder

not for the first time

what I’m doing here.


The group leader

enters the room

and welcomes

us back.


I immediately tune her out,

stare out the window

at geese on the icy bay,

and realize

I’m the only one

who can escape.



Whitney Lee Nowak is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer and New York City public school teacher who lives, writes, and works in Chinatown.



Two Possible Ways Michael Regime Fell in Love with Language


A man in Houston tossing his laundry to the street from a third floor window, shouting, “If we   

want to go back to Nature, for God’s sake, we can’t go in these.”


His underwear raining onto a small spruce tree, then, for days, hanging there limp, like fruit,  

or words.



The unbreakable babble of a river at rest.

Then, during heavy rain, how the same river will awake, screaming. 

“Even if you can’t understand it,” Michael’s father told him, standing on the bank of the Red,  

“you should still listen for a while. Just shut up and listen.”


by Travis Vick

A recent graduate, Travis Vick has spent the past years studying poetry beneath B.H. Fairchild and Bruce Bond.

Margaret Adams Birth poems

Ancient Lullabies



Dew-wet grass glistens under pink morning sun,

and a bee, that liberated prophetess of old,

now silently hovers in the air above, conceiving

of all the truths that are yet to be told.



The full-grown, ripened tranquility lingers

where honeysuckle spills over and blankets

one section of rusty wire fence, half-fallen

to the ground; the grass softly sighs.



The time of longer days has bared its noon,

pure, naked whiteness languorously awaiting a silver

moon that sits high on a coral horizon: Don’t

try to sketch an outline, but let it paint itself.



Empty lots; July’s saccharine kudzu chokes all

that’s in its path as afternoon thunderstorms

spur the vines on to wilder and yet more

uncontrollable growth; autumn will halt the onslaught.



Choruses of ancient lullabies wait in shadows

here, where childhood secrets and open sky

declaim in verse, unsung yet clear, the stories

learned by Devorah when summer’s grass blades bent low.





Before The Wind


soliloquy        uprising power of words

they slam, one into the other

tossing echoes      virginal sound deflowered

heather-ish        whole but sparse

bluing         purpling         graying

spilling over everything          carrying character

and then burning      spinning flames         yarns

folk tales too         they tell secrets             floating in empty space 





Beginning Midway Through


A cardinal hovers in the garden’s lacy air.

The desk, laden with paper, typewriter and books,

shivers under the machine’s mild drone.

A young father’s image flashes in the dormer; he clutches

his briefcase and his baby as

the postman rides by in his jeep. Wake up!


You’re lying on the beach when you open your

eyes, the antique sunset giving a patina to your blisters,

the pus encrusted like pearls on your cherry-wood

skin. I, too, have slept the afternoon

into obscurity, arising confused at first.

Where were you, if not with me?


I hold out my hand, in a silent Come here

plea. We’re still in love—but this happened

long ago. Over and over in my mind, I review

what I can recall in a desperate effort to reconnect

to that easiness we seemed to find so readily before;

maybe I’m crazy, though—maybe this is all in my head.


Looking out the window, there’s a blur

of red. The cherry-wood desk nestles

in one corner of our home. And, on

the projector screen, you pose with Michael James

in 1958. Even when you’re here, you’re not always with me anymore,

but, at night, I still fall asleep dreaming that our life together is as it was.





Eye Of The Storm


When whispering palms sway in a sustained, even tempo,

and eucalyptus branches crack in a rush of air,

when Red Howlers moan and wail with monkey madness,

and neighborhood dogs bark and bay in eerie ferocity,

when all of the world outside is tinged with gray—

even blood-scarlet sorrel bushes and green vines, grass, trees—

and radiates a pearl-pink afterglow,

then I know a storm approaches—

with torrential tropical gusts and slapping sheets of water,

descending and swirling from a once-cloudless blue sky.








jungle in my backyard—and I

am soldier,


a reverse-

victim of the battle I know

at home.





Margaret Adams Birth has previously been published in such journals as Riverrun, Ship of Fools, The New Voices (Trinidad and Tobago), Aldebaran, Atlantic Pacific Press, The Poetry Peddler, Purple Patch (England), White Wall Review (Canada), Green’s Magazine (Canada), Shawnee Silhouette, Mobius, Black River Review, Potpourri, and The Wild Goose Poetry Review; her past work has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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