Even during class, my sister

strummed chords, fingers

caressing frets or stretching

strings bleeding the blues.

Sometimes she’d pick

a country tune, wailing for lost

beers and pickup trucks,

mourning every orphan.

Now her fingers pluck

bibs and diapers

from laundry, her kids

a Greek chorus of woes

and triumphs. The guitar resonates

during birthdays

or under a beer tent.

My brother-in-law puzzles

at her frustrations. After beers

one night, he confessed

she hums in her sleep,

and taps her finger.

It’s weird, he tells me: sometimes

her hand finds a rhythm, as if

stroking our last dog’s head.

John Cullen

John Cullen graduated from SUNY Geneseo and worked in the entertainment business booking rock bands, a clown troupe, and an R-rated magician. Currently he teaches at Ferris State University and has had work published in American Journal of Poetry, The MacGuffin, Harpur Palate, North Dakota Quarterly and other journals. His chapbook, TOWN CRAZY, is available from Slipstream Press.

Birdwatcher in Kyiv

They know before we do,

the birds. In the yard,

feeders swing on their chains.

If you think we don’t bury

our cash in the thaw

of the dark dicey frostbite,

you’re wrong. Trust God

or no one, I urge my husband.

Do not answer the door.

I pour vodka down his throat,

call through the cracks

to bring back the warblers.

Bird bird bird, where is your,

when will it, why why why.

What jumps faster

than blood from a vein?

If you think we don’t practice

the dash to the bunker,

you’re wrong. We’ve run out

of drugs and honey,

but we cannot run far,

railcars packed with

no more time. Before

the siren glass shatter,

we walked fine,

and the mistle thrush

spilled operettas

over the sunflowers.

The neighbors are hiding

their children in attics.

The absence of silvery

wings. Do it now,

begs my husband, break

the thermometer, inject me

with mercury, hollow

my bones before lark

and nightingale swallow

each other’s songs.

Jenny Hubbard

A former high-school English teacher, Jenny Hubbard writes full-time in her hometown of Salisbury, NC. Her work has been published over the years in various journals, including Hunger Mountain, Crab Orchard Review, Tar River Poetry, Nine Mile, Maryland Literary Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology. Both of Jenny’s novels, And We Stay and Paper Covers Rock, have earned major awards from the American Library Association. Represented by Jonathan Lyons of Curtis Brown, Ltd., Jenny is currently under contract with Penguin Random House.

The Dangers of Dancing So Close to the Sun

I was born under a fish-scaled star, a scar in my aunt’s

brother’s father’s eye. Is this a bone I see, or ash dust

inherited, a silent twin inhabiting my ventricles?

The prima-donna sky preens, sends us lightning sprites

red and too quick to capture. I was walking. I was a whole

lot of broken, and snap, there goes my ankle. The moss

spoke of spring-like January, but the camera didn’t

hit the deep-rutted trail, held close to my heart. My

mornings are voluptuous, my miscalculations disguised

as happy accidents. I believe in my grandfather’s third

kidney, the way he lived through the work of shifting

one pile of stones to another corner of the barbed

and electrified yard, and back again until the sirens sounded

the end of light. Today I discovered a new species

of beetle, a bee who loved my shirt and wouldn’t leave.

The wind issuing from god’s mouth was warm. The wind

issuing from god’s mouth chilled me to the bone. The grass

was god’s also, and Matisse’s cat dreamt of Marianne

Moore with crooked wings. The moon is in umbra, the moon

is menopausal, and time makes less sense than it did

five seconds ago. I will haunt the stars I can’t touch

right now. Every turtle galaxy, every swan-booted nebula

now my problems have been all but solved. I put my nose

to the sweet pea, to the whetstone, and learned something

of the extermination of the human race. I pray my father’s

father’s sisters, who flew through the chimneys, knit

their souls back into body when the stars call us away from here.

Ronda Piszk Broatch

Ronda Piszk Broatch is the author of Lake of Fallen Constellations, (MoonPath Press). She is the recipient of an Artist Trust GAP Grant. Ronda’s journal publications include Fugue, Blackbird, 2River, Sycamore Review, Missouri Review, Palette Poetry, and NPR News / KUOW’s All Things Considered. She is a graduate student working toward her MFA at Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop.

The Sun Is This Day’s State Of Affairs

                yesterday was no sun

anywhere but everywhere I can’t

know only my ken  my neighborhood

my house of cats and cashmere

pickled by moths

                          the little I see—

I can count the walls

and know I exist

                         but the sun never

asks about itself   it is not a god

who depends on its people

                                not all seeing

objects are created equal

                               every day my skin

sees more than I do  even muffled

in clothes its cameras see eye to eye

with the cat’s toes

                     my wet flesh envelope

posts itself on dog walks and sky chases

in city parks

                    I can’t vouch for you

my deep wide body  you know more

than I do

            What are you cooking in there

what conversation are you having

with the sun?

                   I tell your knuckles

to unbunch  yet there you go

spending your skin on everyone

Mary Buchinger

Mary Buchinger is the author of five collections of poetry, including / klaʊdz / (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2021), e i n f ü h l u n g/in feeling (Main Street Rag, 2018), Aerialist (Gold Wake, 2015), and Navigating the Reach (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming). Her work has appeared in AGNI, Boston Globe, DIAGRAM, Gargoyle, Massachusetts Review, PANK, phoebe, Plume, Salamander, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and elsewhere. She is president of the New England Poetry Club and professor of English and communication studies at MCPHS University in Boston. Website: www.marybuchinger.com.


Vomiting against the wind, hungover sacrosanct,

presenting itself through a badge of honour,

traipsing through the streets, a homely sight,

more surprises championed against growing up

sympathised through another disposition.

This goodly act, slighting for  better entertainment,

what happens upstairs stays there, coffee aside,

working through swathes of imperfect manuscripts,

more worse then the other, never fathoming distance

infinite drafts slipping under scrutiny of same.

Close proximity, proposed even more attractive,

a steady kiss prolongs the desperate situation

being pawed for good measure, regretting at leisure

Hitting through secret apertures waiting for use

wanting  what’s not on the table, a desire abdicated.

Watching from below, a closeted cry still heard

oscillating through indifference and agony,

monumental trademark as ubiquitous as the trees

lights not going out, under cover of alcohol,

solid flowers in lieu of half-arsed apologies.

No context for that smile, private jokes abiding,

grimacing from one’s own a fault worth permitting,

loved within measure still not enough,

infinite coffee, refills, riches worth pursuing

not uglified by persuasion, desired through want.

Patricia Walsh

Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland. To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled “Continuity Errors,” with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals. These include: The Lake; Seventh Quarry Press; Marble Journal; New Binary Press; Stanzas; Crossways; Ygdrasil; Seventh Quarry; The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, The Galway Review; Poethead and The Evening Echo. She has also published a novel, In The Days of Ford Cortina, in August 2021.

Rat Symphony

Rat Meister’s baton-busy tail flashes against the steady hall lights. Standing upright on his humming haunches, the five toes on his fore feet touch each note as they swell the air and fill hungry ears. His mystacial vibrissae (to the unenlightened: his whiskers) average eight sweeps each second, sensing as objects what others know as music. They follow the wind to create an Euler spiral (think negative infinity), swirling in alternate directions at times, neither defensive or aggressive towards music critics, channeled towards woodwinds and brass instruments. The blur of drumsticks. The tinkle of a triangle to tantalize his organs of touch and rounded erect ears. They approve of the musing of Archimedes (r = aθ) where r = ramblings of Archie of Medes and his Teth or voiceless dental fricatives. A cosine of the rhythmic sines of the time indiscriminately following the wind. Rat Meister follows no such tangents. He measures angles with the assembled ensemble of trained and tuned rats whose eyes and ears follow his raton. The walls swell. Spirits lift. The divine spirals away towards awareness and enlightenment, twin reciprocals of the radius, a staff or stave where note heads do battle space unless del segno appears and stutters ear nauseum.

Richard Weaver

The author hopes to one day to once again volunteer with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, and return as writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. Other pubs include: Loch Raven Review, Dead Mule, Free State Review, Little Patuxent Review, Pembroke, & Mad Swirl. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992). Recently, his 160th prose poem was published under a checker-board cone of silence.

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