Immigrant Sisters at the End of the World

Between 1860 and 1939, thousands of poor young women

from Eastern European shtetls were sold into sexual slavery

by the Jewish-run Zwi Migdal crime syndicate which controlled

highly profitable brothels in Brazil, Argentina and the U.S.


How to pry open the iris of footnote.

As they stooped around rickety tables

on dirt floors they imagined an orange

a day and gold capped teeth. So peasant

girls with milky skin and luscious hair

left their hardscrabble shtetls sleeved

in promise from so many visiting Prince

Charmings in patent-leather shoes,

tailored trousers, and silk handkerchiefs

soaked in rose water to temper poverty’s stench.


By ship or train, the new air of a new world

was double-dealing, empty of marriage,

seamstress careers, or taffeta finery.  Instead

the air was burdened with fear and sadness,

immigrant streets of trapped women in the many

“convents” of Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, or

New York’s Lower East Side. Yoked by greedy

pimps to another kind of assembly line with rape

the often tool of the trade, each Eve did

their bidding, merchandise of the counterfeit kind.


And so the bruised skin of days and nights

began—the who’s your daddy in a labyrinth

of rooms with flimsy plywood partitions

in dilapidated clapboard brothels, to feel

the not feeling of pressure at their napes,

stale breath of sugarcane alcohol, rough

hands to paw their breasts, pry open

their thighs, the insignificance of release.

These transplanted sisters forced and entered,

counted and discounted, dank scent of lavender

struggling to find their no’s.


Forged letters back home to Odessa,

Lodz, Krakow, Kiev. I’m afraid your daughter

is lost forever.  She’s a woman who belongs

to everybody now.  Yiddish rhymes from childhood

whispered to soothe their cheap camisoled sleep.

The spit at their heels, hushed children crossing

cobblestones when their red lipsticked, heavily rouged,

high-heeled clicks came by.  These colonized flower buds

that rotted in shame and syphilis, beatings and stabbings,

yellow fever, tuberculosis, or the exhausted swallow

of carbolic acid.


How to heal the script for these women of footnote long gone—

the Bruchas, Rebeccas, Sophias, and Rosas, the Klaras, Olgas,

Lenas and Helenas, the Berthas, Isabels, Rachels, and Fannys.

Today, we perform your tahara cleansing your bodies with

cascades of sacred water to comfort and purify you at last.


Rikki Santer

Rikki Santer’s poetry has been published widely and has received many honors including several Pushcart and Ohioana book award nominations, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and in 2023 she was named Ohio Poet of the Year. She is currently serving as vice-president of the Ohio Poetry Association and is a member of the teaching artist roster of the Ohio Arts Council. Her twelfth poetry collection, Resurrection Letter: Leonora, Her Tarot, and Me, is a sequence in tribute to the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Please contact her through her website,

Another One About Birds


the girl falling

hard enough from the saddle

to clack her teeth.

Just under my favorite tree.

The man: lean into it.

(He does, the tree.)

Unicycle’s like walking

on your hands. You’re

always in a state of almost

falling. Lean into it

or you land on your ass.

So she sets up again,

white lip knuckle-crook

contact, whole earth

like a pendulum.

I never got the hang

of that either, she says.



what passes for summer

in these parts. A golden crown

sparrow hops clear,

watches her wobble

by in broken light like

it was nothing new.


Keith T. Fancher

Keith T. Fancher is not a poet. Born in the California redwoods and raised in the Blue Ridge foothills, he holds degrees in computer science and film studies. Nonetheless, his work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Red Ogre Review, OPEN: Journal, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. He lives in San Francisco.

A Persistence of Cormorants

I live near Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal,

a toxic and fetid tidal estuary from its salted

harbor mouth to its abrupt industrial end.

It is my pixel of wilderness in the city.


Tonight I heard the night heron quawk—

Thought it was a ghost. Flight is silence,

a glimpse of white on the wing, a memory

out of reach, the perfect shadow.


Cormorants hunt the same water by day

They do not perch. They paddle low

in the water, wings cupped to torso,

eyes up, sudden arch, minimal ripple.


Disappear into the murky green.

The plunging pursuit of prey propelled

by black webbed feet. What persistence

it must take to hunt in such dismal silt.


Poets know the tired metaphor of truths

that lie beneath the surface. Know the patient

wait to snatch a glimpse of glimmer. But

to swim, to hunt in our turbid psyches,


where madness lurks, or doubloons wait,

takes a persistence of cormorants.


Gerald Wagoner

Gerald Wagoner, author of When Nothing Wild Remains, (Broadstone Books, 2023), and A Month of Someday, (Indolent Books, 2023) says his childhood was divided between Eastern Oregon and Cut Bank, Montana, where he was raised under the doctrine of benign neglect. Gerald has lived in Brooklyn, NY since 1982. He exhibited widely and taught Art & English for the NYC Department of Education. 2018: Visiting Poet Residency Brooklyn Navy Yard. 2019, 2021-23: Curator/ host of A Persistence of Cormorants, an outdoors reading series by the Gowanus Canal. 2023 April, Poets Afloat Mini-Residency, Waterfront Barge Museum. Education: U of Montana, BA Creative Writing, 1970, SUNY Albany, MA & MFA Sculpture Selected Publications:  Beltway Quarterly, BigCityLit, Blue Mountain Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Night Heron Barks, Ocotillo Review, Right Hand Pointing, Maryland Literary Review.


I attended a party hosted by one of my university

English professors. The party was timid. Everyone

in a house full of friendless people. Soon, I see

my professor is flirting on my date. I am across the patio

talking to a stoned lonely classmate near the nacho

salsa station, and my prof, swinging jigging away,

making my date giggle, smile, move, bob and sway.


The world is glorious and cruel. Full of voids

impossible to fill and so hard to ignore.


My professor was working hard to diminish

his middle-age pansa: running his hand through his hair,

leaning forward, holding that cigarette but not lighting it.

Does this really work? When does his ex step in? And I wonder

if this is me in twenty years. Drifting to bad jazz, citing Derrida,

considering busted summers in Prague, then back to all this,

hosting a house of students and colleagues

without anyone causing a lucha, because no one thinks anything

is worth throwing a punch. Nada happens.


I had this friend who launched off a table

in a crowded bar because he saw his novia

dancing with a gringo. Did my friend think she really

had a Sancho? (Remember this: action is often a good

remedy for grief). He flew into the dancers,

a super-villain returning to earth. His cape a flash

of cursing. A big fight, the boogying couples scattering

off the dancefloor. After the incident, and him

banished from the club, I spied him and la novia, seated

on a curb in the parking lot. She cupping his face

in tenderness insisting, she loved him, loved

him.  Chanting it. The night sky believing all

of her. My friend looking down into the alley,

discovering his bruises, adjusting his ripped

camisa, her words all shadow and dusk.


Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith

Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith was born in Merida, Yucatan, grew up in Tucson, Arizona and taught English at Tucson High School for 27 years. Much of his work explores growing up near the border, being raised biracial/bilingual, and teaching in a large urban school where 70% of the students are American/Mexican. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, his writings will appear in Drunk Monkeys, Inverted Syntax and have been published in Sky Island Journal, Muse, Discretionary Love and other places too. His wife, Kelly, sometimes edits his work, and the two cats seem happy.

Faultless Weapons Handling

ankle-winged Word Thief flutters ~

orbiting The Muse

wicker creel on shoulder

stealing words off succumbing tongue, from depraved pink lips

collecting manifestos, dispatches, commands, lexeme-threads for unborn poems.

deliciously spilled onto insatiable empty page

deciphering their tangled satisfying meaning

blustery afternoons, elven queens, entangled roots, deep set red brick walls, swim in halo eyes outside time and space, float and dream, bask in caressing warmth, a vision, possibility, sensuality. Mythological building blocks held down on the table ~

kaleidoscopic paper spun round

allowing entry inside

to new worlds.


Gleipnir bindings hold winged ankles fast to Little Deaths.

faultless weapons handling in niche darkness.

stiff bow

arrow loosed

raining towards purposed destination

crossing through streaks of bright light

fleshed out totemic monument pierces orienting Dionysian-natured North Star

drowning inspirational beacon in gratification


seeking simultaneous orgasmic release of the lore-neuron

greedy minds shine with mythic legend veneer

wandering the halls around midnight

for satisfying heights of pleasure

organic and ever-changing panoply of wonders and sensations

lingering into daylight-crippling twilight delight


intent on breaking prey

the beast is afoot, baiting; heavily armed with unpredictable body language.

safe, at a distance

summoning strategic Sun Tzu’s ancient wisdom

the way, the weather, the terrain, the leadership, the discipline

coding memories of my nightmares, my fantasies.


verklempt knight walks seven unlit blocks to doors that can’t be closed after opening.

tectonic plates shifting under pace-worn leather boots.

Paineater stills the chaos

disarms the shadows

guards the spiraling-wanderer.


J. M. Platts-Fanning

J. M. Platts-Fanning is an award-winning writer nestled within the woodlands of the wave-tousled coastline of Prince Edward Island. Recipient of a PEI Writers’ Guild2022Island Literary Poetry Award2020 Island Literary Short Story Award, the 2022 Battle Tales VII Champion and 2nd place winner in the Humans of the World 2022 Summer Poetry Challenge. Publications include, The Dalhousie Review 2024, Burningword Literary Journal 2024, Pownal Street Press’ 2023 anthology, Fiona: Prince Edward Island Accounts from Canada’s Biggest Storm, Toronto Metropolitan University’s White Wall Review 2023/03, 2022/11, The Write Launch literary magazine 2023/08, 2022/08, 2022/06, Prometheus Dreaming cultural magazine 2022/11, Artistic Warrior’s 2022 Dribbles, Drabbles and Postcards anthology, Common Ground 2020/03 and GIFt Horse anthologies Vol 1 through 5. Her plays have appeared on various theatrical stages, including her dystopian fable, “Apple Bones” performed at the 2021 PEI Community Theatre Festival, “An Answer to the Question on Death” staged at Fridays with Fringe in 2019 and “Held to the Fire” chosen for Watermark Theatre’s 2018 Play Reading Series.

Cecil Morris

What Does Persephone Want?


Our daughter Persephone comes and goes.

She plays peek-a-boo with Oxycodone

and Ambien.  She likes it in the dark,

a paradox for when she goes she takes

our sun with her and leaves us only night.


When she returns, she brings pallor and chill

and slumps in sleep like asparagus boiled

to limp defeat.  She carries bruises, too,

as if she wrestled with demons or gods

and did not quite escape their fiercest holds.


We welcome our daughter, this almost ghost

who does not smile or speak, who barely lifts

her head.  We feed her favored fruits and honey,

make evident (we think) our love, but she—

she sleeps and only sleeps as if the weight


of waking crushes her, as if she has

become her great grandmother, embodiment

of death who waits (asleep) to take the last

step from this world to the next, as if done,

done, done, and unwilling to wrestle more.


We Have to Let Persephone Go


Our daughter Persephone went down to death

to see what it was like and liked it well enough

to stay the whole season in darkness and damp


in that underground of hidden things and worms.

With her, she took her secret toys and our joy

and left for us her sad-eyed terrier mix,


her unfinished business, and a disco wig

of purple tinsel that seemed to spark with light.

We imagined her scrubbing her hair with dirt


and soaking in rejuvenating mud baths

then returning more youthful and radiant

than before, our one daughter renewed, re-born.


When it became clear she was not coming back,

we offered to visit her there, to bring her

the red cinnamon candy she preferred


or that frozen yogurt sold by the pound

and layered with multi-colored sprinkles,

but she said we could not come, could not yet pass


the needle’s eye as she had done.  We were left

bereft as when she went to college but more.


Cecil Morris

Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English, and now he tries writing what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and (he hopes) to enjoy. He has poems appearing or forthcoming in English Journal, Rust + Moth, Sugar House Review, Willawaw Journal, and other literary magazines.

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