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.

Dante Novario: Featured Author

The Very First Venus Flytrap

Who could blame your delicate flowers

For growing sharp teeth, for learning that flesh

Is so much tastier than sunlight


You found out it’s more satisfying to snap shut

Than it is to bloom, that it feels good to bite back

After being chewed on for so many centuries


Jaws of slender grass. Jaws of patience.

You opened your jaws once and wow

How delicious the world tasted


Look how your body transformed into a throat

Your roots into tongues and your blossoms into fists

I can hear your flora siblings whispering nervously


About the one who speaks in needles, who prefers

Blood to dew, pink fanged, an angel

With sharp wings of green, fallen straight into the dirt


Your life is now a feast of moth hearts

And iridescent beetle wings, bee stingers

With spider’s silk used as elegant floss


For your delicate lips of chattering

Knives, lips that wait patiently

To be kissed again and again


That’s why you were named after Aphrodite

Because eating the world counts as loving it twice

And who doesn’t want to die in the mouth of a flower?


Who doesn’t want to be sipped up by the Earth, cradled

Unconscious in the arms of soft petals, suffocated by sunshine

By the plant that turned into death itself?

Finally Appreciating the New Moon

It’s a blank slate, black-blessed, a moment

To enjoy the stars, not named

Like its big bright brothers are


But it should be, it’s a testament that huge unseen things

Can be floating directly above our heads and we’d never

Be the wiser, that even the persistence of sunlight


Needs sleep, no more secrets spilled

Under the moon’s sweet silver, no need for blankets

When you are concealed like an earthworm, a cavern


It’s the moon as whole as we’ve ever seen it

A clasping of two dark halves, providing rest

For our werewolves, a holy day of obligation


For all things nocturnal, if you picnic

Underneath it you enjoy the sensation of being swallowed

By the universe itself, returning to pre-light


When we didn’t have the sun to depend on

And the endless night sky

Was more comforting than any ball of fire

Phantom Hugger

Science has proven

That humans need at least eight hugs a day

And by golly I was going to get them

One way or another


I picked my targets carefully

Drooped shoulders

Downward glances

Unpresumptuous auras

All dead giveaways


I began with quick squeezes, innocent


Single hand behind the back

Over in a second

Painless pats

Short and sweet and good for everybody


But soon it wasn’t enough, the embraces

            Were lasting longer, becoming vulnerable

Soon we were eye-to-eye

            And it was becoming embarrassingly difficult

                                                                        To let go


People began seeking my services

On busy sidewalks and crowded nightclub

Dance floors, a vigilante

                        Of touch therapy, of a new

Public service


And it wasn’t long before I perfected

            My technique, transformed my hugs

Into something sacred, something



An embrace that turned me into Atlas, and you

Into the world

That wrapped around us

Again and again

Until we were lost

In a land of each other’s palms, that proved

The Earth really is

The center of the universe

That dissolved

The very concept of stranger

What I do is illegal in nearly 38 states

                                          But if you ever need me

Go out on empty nights and raise your hands

                                                                                 To the dark lonely air

I promise, eventually, I’ll be there

Dante Novario

Dante Novario is an internationally published writer from Louisville, KY where he works as a therapist with special needs individuals. Nominated for both the 2022 pushcart and rhysling awards, his writing has previously appeared or is forthcoming in Firewords Magazine, KAIROS Lit, Coffin Bell Journal, New Contexts 3, Nimrod International Journal, Thin Air Magazine and others. His poetry can also be heard on the literary podcast Strange Horizons. Find more of his writing on Instagram @dante_novario


In My Mother’s Garden

If I tell my mother she is the sky,

what I really mean is that I’m the pond

my father built her. What I mean is

I watch the way she rises and sets

in herself. I mirror every cloud

that mars her features. I darken

to match her windy movements.

What I’m saying is my surface

catches her light, but when she

grows overcast with gray,

my entire face disappears.

I’m saying the two of us

are always facing each other

and wincing away at the same

time. I’ve absorbed into myself

every color she’s taught me

When I try to reveal my

drowned leaves to her,

she can’t see through

her own reflection.

What I’m trying to say is

I can’t stop taking

her shape.

Racine Watson

Racine Watson is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she studied Creative Writing within the UNO’s Writer’s Workshop. Her work includes fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. Her creative-nonfiction essay, “The Five Ways I Left” is forthcoming in the 13th Floor literary journal, 2022 edition.

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