Cyn Kitchen

Blind in One Eye, Can’t See Out of the Other

according to her story / a woman, blind in one eye / didn’t tell her parents / she couldn’t see / until she was twelve. / Horrifying, but / she made it funny / and tragic because / obviously. / Got me thinking / what I’d kept quiet / not as cool as a blind eye / but a good story / like Dad’s wooden leg / trophy of a motorcycle crash / one he never talked about / not even at the dinner table / us kids quiet and still / not rapt, terrified / because wrong moves went noticed / no one wanted to be guinea pig / for whatever reproach / Dad delivered that day / eyes fixed on our plates / eating dinner with his gun / to our heads. / He could have said grace / could have bared his teeth in smile / could have seen us / two good eyes and all.


Instructions for a Life

unfurl the gravel road as a tablecloth, a bedsheet

drifting low towards horizon, stars spiriting upward

into the gloam. tug on the string of night, open

the door of birds blown from muddy fingers

their songs like sermons, like recipes. suds

buds bulging knots on limbs, massage

into being with fingertips dipped in wine. you

are halfway there. now comes the wait

weight of it all, trucks ticking time along

the highway hauling burdens to & fro

in shutter-speed time.


sleep. when the breadbox of morning lifts

it’s time to water the grave, excited as you’ll be

to untangle the fathomless frog of your throat

in the cattail bog harboring fairies in the marsh.


Cyn Kitchen

Cyn is an Associate Professor of English at Knox College where she teaches creative writing and literature. She is the author of Ten Tongues, a collection of short stories and also writes nonfiction and poems, some of which appear in such places as Still, Fourth River, American Writers Review and Poetry South. Cyn makes her home in Forgottonia, a downstate region on the Illinois prairie.


After “Litany” by Billy Collins



I’m a broom and its dustpan, the sharp tip

of a long knife, watermelon, cool side


of the pillow on a muggy night. I’m the red

squirrel scrambling up a screen door, a dandelion.


I’m not gingerbread or lace of any kind;

not on collars, tatted doilies. I’m not the ocean,


prick of a cactus, a long-stemmed glass, bottle

or carafe of red wine. I fancy myself Egyptian


turquoise, a Paul Klee painting—geometrics

in soft pastels, hung on a plastered wall.


I’ve never been whiskers on cats, gerbils.

Not an apron—clean, maybe, never smeared


with flour, tomato sauce, greasy anything; not

the moon, though its craters are my thoughts.


I would love to be, but sadly not, the sounds

of Thelonious Monk, Johnny Mathis’ croon, Barbra.


I am a branch scraping a tin roof, fall from

a skyscraper, never hitting ground, a ripe


banana turned brown overnight, coffee without

enough cream. I am, in my dreams, a queen-size


bed in the center of a room—impeccably made,

four crisp corners, blue cotton spread, a throw,


mattress firm enough to hold a life of secrets,

soft enough to burrow in, fall slowly apart.


Hari B Parisi

Hari B Parisi’s (formerly Hari Bhajan Khalsa) poems have been published in numerous journals and are forthcoming in Thuya Poetry Review, The Blood Pudding, Two Hawks Quarterly and Inklet. She is the author of three volumes of poetry, most recently, She Speaks to the Birds at Night While They Sleep, winner of the 2020 Tebot Bach Clockwise Chapbook Contest. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Website:

Night Blooms

Dig down deep enough and you’ll find night blooms—

blue-dusked petals casting runes under forgotten


garden reaches, ink-black petals spooning clotted soil

into ever-shrouded stars, an ever-blackening sun


wheeling through dark spines and peat-stained teeth.

Lift dirt-caked, delicate slips.  Lift mold and root.


Their voices promise neither clarity nor opacity,

offer only a clearing aside of what’s given, what’s


taken away.  Their faces mirror each other and yet

are never themselves, never others buried further


down the road.  Dig them up and take them home.

Sit on moon-filled porch steps cradling ochre and


vermillion pooling on your skin, and they’ll bloom

the simple hierarchies of heaven—untouched


and unseen, tasteless and silent, back to the deepest

shadow under the loam, back to the first still breath.


John Robert Harvey

John Harvey’s poems have appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Ghost Ocean Magazine, Gulf Coast, The 2River Review, Weave Magazine, and others.  He received his doctorate in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston (UH) and taught in the UH English Department and Honors College. He lives near Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and son.

O The Leaving

I listen to U2

while the MRI machine clinks into action

and Bono croons

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,

his voice muffled by the hygienic sleeves

covering the headphones,

his words far away,

poltergeist from the past.


Eyes closed,

I see myself riding in the Mercury Sable,

traveling from Bakersfield to the Bay Area,

Santa Ana winds whipping

my hair into a frenzied halo,

the setting sun gilding

the hills on Pacheco Pass–

their curves round as sea lion heads–

the highway a gash,

the murky reservoir just one of many

promises that won’t be kept.


The road ahead winds serpentine

as we sing

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

out into the night,

my restlessness the persistent backbeat

pushing us away from here,

the only place

we’d ever really feel

was home.


I can tell you now

I’d never felt so free, so alive,

ignorant of all

I was leaving behind,

though the valley below flatlined,

and the Harris Ranch cows

lowed a mournful warning

I never fully understood until

much later:

don’t leave don’t leave     don’t leave


Jennifer Randall Hotz

Jennifer Randall Hotz is a poet currently living in Pennsylvania.  She holds an M.A. in English from San José State University.

Kitchen Table Lament

I miss the black wrought iron fire escape with its steps

that rattled outside the kitchen window on its way

up to the tenement roof top.


I miss the twin bed next to the kitchen table, where

my mother slept and tried to convince me (and herself)

that it was just like the sleeping alcove in an old Irish cottage.


I miss the washing machine next to the sink

that she camouflaged with a pretty table runner

and a vase of plastic daisies whenever it wasn’t in use.


I miss the contact paper behind the stove that my mother changed

every now and then to convert the cracked plaster walls into

brickwork or wood grain depending on her mood and what was on sale.


I miss it all except the roaches.  Not even through nostalgia’s

gauziest lens could I ever miss them. Even now, fifty years later,

I would still tell those roaches to go straight to hell.


Gloria Heffernan

Gloria Heffernan’s Exploring Poetry of Presence (Back Porch Productions) won the 2021 CNY Book Award for Nonfiction. She received the 2023 Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Prize. She is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and three chapbooks including “Peregrinatio: Poems for Antarctica” (Kelsay Books) which was a finalist for the 2021 Grayson Books Chapbook Prize. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in over 100 publications including the anthology Poetry of Presence (vol. 2) and Without a Doubt: Poems Illuminating Faith.


You moved in that summer—

a trial period, small room with a bed,

window. Ribs of black steel

pins of twine pulled taut

your hammers poised to strike

stretched strings a wide field of grain

lid a mink coat laid flat, its prop

a carved brown totem, releasing sound.

I worked on you five, six

hours a day—scales, etudes, and

Rachmaninoff’s Elegie. My big-bosomed

Russian teacher pushed me to drill down

and extricate from you the purest wails

of sorrow and you let me. One day

looking out the window, I was drawn to

the tennis courts, where I met the tuba

player from the pit orchestra,

never looked back, no matter

how many times you called me Eurydice.


Mary Dean Lee

Mary Dean Lee’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best Canadian Poetry 2021, Ploughshares, I-70 Review, LEON Literary Review, Broad River Review, Sepia Quarterly, Event, The Write Launch, as well as other journals.  Her manuscript, Tidal Bore, was recently a Finalist with Trail to Table Press and The Inlandia Institute’s 2022 Hillary Gravendyk Prize. She grew up in Milledgeville, Georgia, studied theatre and literature at Duke University and Eckerd College, and received her PhD in organizational behavior at Yale. She lives in Montreal, Canada.

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