De Jackson

most mad and moonly

she’s a little crazy, right? half,

at least. cloaking herself in

inky star-spilled darkness,

unmasking her many moods;

this waxing and waning at whim

crescent grimace gloating,

gibbous eye hypnotizing

tumbled time and tide

fat and full and freckled

face beckoning, reckoning

you are but earthbound, and

she, a beacon of the night

who can neither shed nor

bear her own exquisite light.



Draw a line in the sand.

Don’t cross it. Color inside

only, and only in the most

muted of tones. Show ID.

Please keep all limbs and

appendages inside the

vehicle. Control all spon

-taneous laughter. A proper

level of decorum must be

maintained at all times. When

you’ve had it up to here, secure

the perimeter and batten down

a hatch or two, paying particular

attention to not getting finger

-prints on glass ceiling.

Don’t grasp at first or last

straws, or allow them anywhere near

that camel over there. Use sunscreen.



If we unscroll this thing, give it syllable

and song, taste it along our torn tongues,

our dialect is horses, hooves pounding

forward, manes flinging salt water to the


waiting wind. Our floating hope is a tiny

bird’s crest, conjugated in cinnamon and

sage, aged carefully, held with ginger hand.

If we stand, on this, one last promise, we


are archers heading into battle, quivers of

anticipation and rage and unsheathed

joy. If we toy with noble wisdom, crack its

solid amber shell, pronounce it loud and


well, this cant, with all its quiet meditation

and clasped conjugations and implied con

-jectures, this language of our hearts might

live and breathe and brave this aged place.


by De Jackson


De Jackson is a poet, a parent and a Pro Crastinator (not necessarily in that order) whose heart beats best when accompanied by inky fingers and salty, sea-soaked toes. Some of her work has has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Sprout, Red River Review, Bolts of Silk and Indigo Mosaic.

Ryan Hurley

Things We Cut

umbilical cord, my mother’s kite string.

pine tree bark, the saw blade hungry for heat.

foreskin, our first offering, sin, sacrifice.

birthday cake, the sugar’s tragic reminder.

hair, this should be more difficult.

wrists, plump with fear.

bread loaf, thins slices of salvation.

wing tip, the caged animal’s final passport.


May 22, 2011 – The Day After “Judgment Day”

I cried myself to sleep last night,

the morning landed softly, light shone

through the dust that ain’t gone neither,

my prayers ain’t been workin these days,

my sins musta been too deep to be unearthed

from this hell, I knew ma and pa been waitin

for me, I hope they heard it’s been postponed,

I ain’t packed no clothes, just a plastic bag

with ma’s favorite dishrag, she loved this kitchen,

when I was little I’d swing from the big oak tree

out in the front yard, sometimes I’d catch

her eye from the kitchen window,

she’d smiled like I was her pride and joy,

she’d used to say “be careful up in that tree

honey, I ain’t ready to lose my only son to

gravity,” one time when I was much older

I fell from the second highest branch, right

on my back, I sat up and looked right over to

that window, expecting to see ma’s scared face

but that window’s been broken for almost

two years now, one day when I was boiling

sum water, a bird flew right into the glass,

I ran outside to see if it was alright, it was

a red bird, it laid still but looked like it was

going to be okay, I put its body on the highest

tree branch, so when it woke up it could just

fall and fly, I haven’t looked to see if it woke yet,

my pa buried our dog in the backyard, I packed his

pipe in the plastic bag too, if I know him he’s

been cranky without his tobacco all these years,

the sun is starting to go down, I’ll leave the plastic

bag on my nightstand tonight but take my shoes

off this time, the house is quiet and cold tonight,


I wonder if I should have buried that bird?



Ryan Hurley is a member of five National Poetry Slam teams from Wisconsin and has been featured in multiple national publications including The Progressive, Dream of a Nation and Positive Impact Magazine. Ryan is also an elected member of the Emerging Leaders Council with Americans for the Arts, the largest arts advocacy organization in Nation. Ryan is dedicated to using the arts and creativity for community development and engagement.

Nineteen in London

For Peter Lake.


I still see you — haze of tweed, loafers, and cake

running towards the pub, rain pelting your back,

hair already fading white when I blew out the candles

how does it feel to be young; I could not answer


that night — noise, free beers, every man watching

me in red, a dress you bought but, I could only

see you, so handsome with your face alcohol-lit,

you, who quoted Cocteau, Whitman, Proust,

carried me home in the storm and laid me down


in your quiet room, four o’clock, I woke to puke;

found you on the couch, chest rising tiredly under

the weight of a book; I wrapped you in a quilt and

said a prayer — for longevity, past the red dress,

past numbering candles, to when I am wrapped

in a blanket, book on my lap, grey in my hair.


Jacqueline Thomas is a Literature major with a Creative Writing focus at Ramapo College of New Jersey. She intends to continue on to a Graduate-PhD program and receive her PhD in Comparative Literature.

Paisley Wallpaper

You are a memory.

Like a wildflower

in the pages

of an old book,

like a monarch

hanging in a shadowbox

above the fireplace,

like a Polaroid

in an album

under the bed,

like paisley wallpaper

yellowed with smoke,

like sand between our toes

where a mountain once stood,

like an old star

in the summer nights sky.

by  Doc Marek

Daniel Ruefman

The Nameless

All summer I wander the cemetery

between the fenced-in family plots

and the ornate stone mausoleums.

Occasionally I find my way to the nameless

resting in the north corner;

orphans, tucked away

a century before

in that one place where

the sod struggled to take root.


There the markers are

little more than sand;

birthdates once carved

reduced to shadow,

as if those dates

were as inconsequential

as the bones tangled

in the roots below.


I wonder if their caretakers ever came

without planting another,

or if they sneer at them, even now,

through the white fences of the

manicured family plots across the path,

convinced that, as in life,

they were destined to make better dirt.


Along the perimeter,

an overgrown pyracantha

swallowing the black

of the wrought iron fence,

so that only the speared tips stretched

from the thorned belly,

every sprig  in late bloom;

fragility falling, fair petals

loosed from the branches

to which they cleaved,

spreading casually

where the headstones met the earth

as though there were some covenant

set to celebrate the value of their flesh,

so fleeting, so forgotten,

but so much more to me than

those who busied themselves

buying implied comfort

that will never delay the inevitable.



In Dubitum Veritas


What if he comes asking?


Every now and again I pause to consider—

what? Possibility? Odds are he might come


with tempest blessings, bearing

questions of creation, divine inception, asking how

he came to be in that womb, at that time, and he will know that


we share more than consequence; what then will I do?

Answer the bleakest of his ponderings, unfiltered, uncensored,

the untruth utterances that are not fit for the moment, or


condemn him to know that all men make faults

and my faults made him.


When the time comes,

we will choose whether or not to walk the curves

of the Mobeus strip together, to rehash inches lost and gained


with each rotation, to sift through the honest sands

of hindsight; perhaps then I’ll know

whether or not to share the tale of how our lives


were one day woven, torn, and mended;

but which truths will I tell?


From the symphony of sorrow and joy colliding, it is clear

that all truths are just the sound of the innocence dying.





It comes in flashes,

blurred as the world on the other side

of stained glass;


back deck in disrepair,

untreated, crippled and rotted;

across the threshold

mound upon mound upon mound,

dog kennel buried beneath,

Rubbermaid barrel

brimful with nasty;

compost stewed in pots,

sink full with dishes, water,

and week-old potato peels—

black something steaming with fruit flies;

hallway carpeted in clothes

wet towels mildewed

on disintegrating tile;

half the living room

occupied with cabinets,

ten-year-old renovations

not yet begun;

a shag carpet path,

stained and matted with fur,

weaving through the gauntlet of the unidentifiable,

puerile trappings

frozen in the periphery

decimated by hackneyed chaos;


and beneath it all,

the petals of the lotus

crushed to potpourri—

a reminder of good

long lost.


by  Daniel Ruefman

The Fruits of Our Labors

Mother was in the kitchen slowly stirring a steaming cauldron of Harvest Stew. Both Wesley and Aaron sat in the parlor, gently brushing Marjorie’s golden locks. Sweet aromas danced through the air, filling the house with a warmth and good cheer that had been vacant for decades.

Long had it been since the entire brood was under one roof – and this was truly a harvest to celebrate. Large casks of yams and mead were brought up from the cellar. Even Padre Lorenzo was meant to stop by and say the traditional Navish goat blessing before the great feast began.

Jeremy was wheeling in Brother who nearly leapt from his cage when he caught wind of that sweet slow-roasted acorn squash. In our formative years, we would hand feed Brother stringy bits of mule flesh and leftover crème cakes through his wrought iron bars. I can still see Brother’s quivering lips as he greedily inhaled ever morsel given to him. His razor sharp teeth tearing through bone and vein as if it were salt water taffy. Every Saint Crispin’s Day we would all gather around and laugh with delight as Grand Papa Alphonse would shovel burning embers onto the floor of Brother’s cage. Brother would hop from one foot to the other as his bloodcurdling screams filled the air and unholy terror flooded his eyes.

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