DS Maolalai

The apple.

lightheaded, dizzy

and smoking

in the morning.

and I know

you don’t like

when I do this

so early, so I go

somewhere else

while I do.

bring my first

cup of coffee, my phone

or a book. and you come in;

you don’t mind – talk about

the coming workday

and ask me

would I like

an apple

for breakfast

to go with the coffee,

the cigarette. and I do;

not because

I want the apple

but I want you

to come back here

and to hear you


more things

while you bring it to me.


Seeing the moon in daylight

it’s not uncommon,

but still is a thing

you might note. like birdsong.

a rock – the right rock reaching out

to your hand from a riverbed.

white rim asplinter;

a piece of white eggshell, sinking

so deep into blue. listen –

we were walking together.

the moon was there.

over the city. july

and the 5pm blue.

like pulling a rock

out of water –

the smooth feeling:

fingertip cold.

sometimes they reach

when you see them.

when they do

you do too – look at them.

put them in your pocket.


DS Maolalai

DS Maolalai has been nominated nine times for Best of the Net and seven times for the Pushcart Prize. He has released two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019). His third collection, “Noble Rot” is scheduled for release in April 2022.

Potato Pantoum

                                                       for my mother

“Fill a saucepan, wash potatoes, peel, cook. Eat potatoes.”

Obey a different voice… how?

When it’s time, my own time.

Believe it, before the white page.

Can’t I obey a different voice than hers?

Turn, change, choose, transform?

Believe it, then show before the white page.

Set new tasks and wait for faith.

Turn, change, choose, transform.

When will it be time, my voice, in earnest?

Settle in faith and wait, and in the meantime:

fill a saucepan, wash potatoes, peel, cook. Eat potatoes.

When it comes my time, my own, will I know it?

She always shushed my well-earned voice:  “too loud.”

Fill a saucepan, wash, peel, cook potatoes. Eat potatoes

I forged a self against her ways.

Now she has died across this poem–

I’ve no one to make a sound for.

I did forge a self as she aided and defied it.

I clasp her jewels, her furniture, her orphaned things.

I’ve no one to write of, or to, or to make a sound for.

Mystery of how she saw me went to her grave.

I have only the things she left, no direction.

And all I write is aloneness in our aloneness…

The mystery of how she saw me went with her

and the journey ahead, still unfound.

I have only the things she left me, no direction.

Fill a saucepan, wash, peel, cook potatoes. Eat potatoes.


Marilyn E. Johnston

Marilyn E. Johnston Is the author of two full collections of poetry published by Antrim House Books, Silk Fist Songs (2008) and Weight of the Angel (2009). Her chapbook, Against Disappearance, won publication as a Finalist for the 2001 poetry prize of Redgreene Press, Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including MacGuffin, South Carolina Review, Poet Lore, Worcester Review, and Rattle and has garnered six Pushcart Prize nominations. She has enjoyed two consecutive long-term careers, one in Cigna corporation communications and one in public library work which included poetry programming for the public. She retired from the library in 2017.

After Lunch in Some Seaside Town

We raged brilliant that October afternoon.

Colored cords and silver round our wrists,

aromas of sweet corn, cumin. The salted air.

A row of blackbirds balanced tentatively

on high tension wires. The boardwalk,

nearly empty. Subdued tides reclaimed shells

and beaten strands of seaweed as if determined

to obscure what lay broken.

We rarely understood what the other was thinking,

although we recognized what was easy, the tempos of the waters,

the old family stories, how closely our faces

resembled one another.

Who at the table could predict

your death come spring?

You, a flicker, like a bright speck

from a disappearing sun. A faded

hue atop wrinkled waters.

When that day drifts back, I wonder,

would you remember

how the sky opened?

The way the ocean’s pulse

slowed? How the rain

wouldn’t quit?


J. A. Lagana

J. A. Lagana is a writer, poet, and editor from Pennsylvania. Her poetry has previously appeared in Atlanta Review, Naugatuck River Review, the Paterson Literary Review, and elsewhere.


They pitch them to you on the job:

U.S Treasury Savings Bonds—

tiny bites from your paychecks

you won’t even notice,

a sound investment in your country,

plus a locked-in return after thirty years—

but they’re really hoping you’ll die

first, leaving those Series EEs unclaimed,

the original paper kind they don’t make anymore.

Or maybe it will slip your senescent mind

that they’re waiting in the metal mouth

of the safe deposit box, inching toward maturity

and oblivious to the passage of time,

keeping company with your birth certificate,

the title to the car you rarely drive

and the deed to the falling-down house

you’ve paid off.

Now it’s winter of the thirtieth year,

who would have thought,

so you bundle up and go to the bank

where everyone wears a mask and the P.A. system

plays “Jingle Bells” over and over.

From the sealed envelope

you retrieve those pristine bonds

still holding their deferred promise of profit

and you hold them to it. Though

unrecognizable, even to yourself,

as being the one who bought them,

you cash them in.


Ruth Holzer

Ruth Holzer is the author of eight chapbooks, most recently, “Living in Laconia” (Gyroscope Press) and “Among the Missing” (Kelsay Books). Her poems have appeared in Blue Unicorn, Faultline, Slant, Poet Lore, Connecticut River Review and Plainsongs, among other journals and anthologies. She has received several Pushcart Prize nominations.

bringing the gaps

            o my the pic-

                                         nic  bas-

don’t think I got                                    kets of im-

            this stuff on sale                                    per-fec-tion

                              last week

                                          it took men-ee

or cul-tiv-                                            ya year

            ate them some                                     to find them

                        were excav-

                                    ated with a knife

sniffing hog or                             or with the aid

                   old hound dog                              of a truffle-


by weaving                                     were extrav-

                 gum wrappers                                      aganted

                                    the gum having

two in the                                            plucked out a tooth or


                            shun of my eyes

over now                                         all over the

            but the song                                        pages  it’s all

                            the drinking

                                        the dented offender

oh this is                                              apologies the tears

                all I bring

                                but there I’m be-

                                                       ing ex-

or is it repre-                                           pressive

                 sentative                                             again  again

                                or Sir Real again


    keep bringing                                            the big butt is  I


                                              or at least less

                                                                             of  it

           of some



                   again                                              day

                                    a  gain

                                          or   no

Steve Fay

Steve Fay’s collection “what nature: Poems” was published by Northwestern University Press. A repeat winner of Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and a Pushcart Prize nominee, his poetry has been published in Ascent, Beloit Poetry Journal, Field, Spoon River Poetry Review, TriQuarterly and several other journals and anthologies, and has recently appeared (or is forthcoming) in the “Hamilton Stone Review, Moving Force Journal, and the Comstock Review. He lives in Fulton County, Illinois.

Next of Kin

our granddad fought the Germans but I battled through lunches

my bloodline gathered in the kitchen      uncles with 5 o’ clock

shadows mistake me for schoolgirls they lured with pocketmoney

& promises          I pull myself together in their pipe smoke

arrange tins of beans in jaunty pyramids                 kick shins of cousins

beneath the table               their tree bark cheeks ruddy         passing the sauce

as past lives lurch across history’s headland           victories chipper & hard-won

I want to start fires in the bathroom         wear the alley like a cat in heat

upend the garbage            take off my clothes           swear like a trooper

slice my thumb with the carving knife    mop the blood with my bread

but I please&thankyou my way through dessert

impossible            the things we don’t say to one another

stewing like spoilt fruit & cream

Rebecca Faulkner

Rebecca Faulkner is a London-born poet and arts educator based in Brooklyn. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Solstice Magazine, Smoke Magazine, Wild Roof Journal, Pedestal Magazine, The Maine Review, SWWIM, CV2 Magazine, On the Seawall, Into the Void, and other journals. She has been anthologized in the Best New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021, was a finalist for the 2021 Foster Poetry Prize, and the Jack McCarthy Book Prize. Rebecca was a 2021 Poetry Fellow at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. She holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Leeds, and a Ph.D. from the University of London.

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