Somewhere in the Midst of Me, a Twig Snapped

I am okay with being

monstrous, I know

how you view me when I

step out with three heads, I

know the many ways

you think of me.

The day folds

up into a tiny square

which I put into my

middle mouth, underneath its

tongue. Watch the neck twitch.

I am many things but

easy is not one. I try to

hold myself between my

fingers and you know

what happens. Are you

formless as water, like me?

When did you last throw a knife

into a mirror, bare your

teeth with eyes

wide from hunger?

When they first clothed me,

somewhere in the midst of me,

a twig snapped.

And it radiated outward

like a bomb.


Zeke Shomler

Zeke Shomler is currently pursuing a combined MA/MFA at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His work has appeared in Cordite, Stone Poetry Quarterly, After Happy Hour Review, and elsewhere online.

The Albatross of Liquid Despair

hovers over your coiffed head, cawing in protest at the abominable stench rising, tears in its eyes, close to regurgitating its hard-sought lunch. Coleridge. Coleridge. Coleridge, you dotard. Have you no pity? No mercy? Must you pollute the earth’s air with poetry, chasing me as I flee your icy bewilderment? Must you call after me, your hideous voice echoing against the bruised clouds? Why should I not kill you for such elemental transgressions, silent seas be damned; your shrieks mutes the thunder, your delirium churns the slimy sea, my home, turning it against me and my kind. Rotting darkened sea, my frosted ass. Spare me your off-rhymes, the failed slants, the tortured rhythms. They fall from my ears no easier than my carcass was dropped from your neck. Father. Feather. Further. Forfend. Yet you claim a tale to share, a future to save. A weaver of lies like you need only make boast to be believed. Dead, yet I am able to nest in your grey beard, to ponder mortalities whilst you blamed me as if I was the cross Jesus bore. What calumny. What hubris. What a drug-induced delirium. I was never your interlocutor. The magnet that drew your warped dreams outward. Your ship sails without me, my stilled wings offer no forward aid. Yet your heart drums another beat, a stilled sorrow, something that blackens the stars and cauterizes cataracts and keeps the soul anchored to watery earth. You see the prayerless dead. The moon that abandons those who look to the sky. Stars that failed and fell far away from those who needed their comforting light. Sleepless, you laid this burden around my withered neck, seeking to save your miserable own. Not enough that I was dead, you laid heavier burdens upon my wizened neck, and sought freedom from a past that held you tight, kept your lungs from filling, and drew its life as yours. Already dead, you lingered in a denatured bliss, a world without, a sphere unbound, lacking angels and song, and any answer to a prayer unasked. Your ship sailed without you, and will dock without snow or mist. No waves will follow your path. No wind will calm or breathe to ensure your warped heaven. No blind sailors will raise sails or secure a rudder for your voyage. Nothing can rise from this sorrowed moon’s passage.

Richard Weaver

Post-Covid, the author has returned as writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub in Baltimore. Among his other pubs: conjunctions, Vanderbilt Review, Southern Quarterly, Free State Review, Hollins Critic, Misfit Magazine, Loch Raven Review, The Avenue, New Orleans Review, & Burningword. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992), and wrote the libretto for the symphony, Of Sea and Stars (2005). He was a finalist in the 2019 Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry. His 200th Prose poem was recently published.

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.

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