Between Frames

Downpour pelts windows, rakes roof

like shards hurled in menace.

The torrent brakes slowly, as though coaxed to relent.

A respite that cradles seeds of relief that will soon

vanish, Scott thinks as he zooms in on a cardinal’s

cautious dip in a puddle beyond its sheltered nest.

Choice lies in the space between frames.

Focus to see it, or miss it & get carved by tides.

Worse yet, see it and stand struck, a piano key stuck

unhinged from resonance. Scott once found consonance

with Steph under a willow tree, a refuge from raindrops

that soaked their skin as sunlight dappled through

storm clouds. Creeping myrtle carpeted ground where

he went down on one knee, weather be damned.

He’d still make that choice after seeing

the frames that followed: currents that surged

and swept them in their wake. Adrift, he crops

the cardinal shot, softens shadows until

its color pops, stashes it amid thousands of

moments frozen in time, sketches on fogged glass

stiffened into stone. Steph murmurs, voice barely

a whimper since her last chemo. He

            lets go

            of his camera, its lens

powerless before a butterfly’s floundering flutter.

V.A. Bettencourt

A. Bettencourt writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Magma Poetry, The American Journal of Poetry, and Willows Wept Review, among others.

Anticipating Conflagration


With boulders, or another substance that can’t burn, I’ll build a barn,

buy Nigerian goats to bounce with favored popcorn sheep.

Animals kicking bare bone as wildfire steams a skyline.


Goatee on my chin, the soul of California is burning like a lung.

I’m goat eye, horizontal, confusing as three pupils,

a shag of helpless, readying to die in the coming singe.


I don’t eat meat from a table though mouths I love

water at the char of curry. Sweet strings of shoulder,

a chew of God meat in the cheek of a funky heaven.

Robert Carr

Robert Carr is the author of Amaranth, published in 2016 by Indolent Books and The Unbuttoned Eye, a full-length 2019 collection from 3: A Taos Press. Among other publications his poetry appears in Crab Orchard Review, Lana Turner Journal, the Maine Review, the Massachusetts Review and Shenandoah. Selected by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, he is the recipient of a 2022 artist residency at Monson Arts. Additional information can be found at

Freddie Mercury

There’s singing and then there’s Freddie Mercury. Out of the deep and deepening well of sound just there in him as if music like a swarm of bees searching for home at last finds it in him, pours into him, seeps into every molecule of bone and marrow, shimmers the blood flowing through every capillary, flumes up into his throat and rushes out to buoy me on the exhilarating, turbulent sea of Bohemian Rhapsody, waking my fallow griefs, fruiting them in every bare note of a capella then oozing into ballad then punching up my flagging spirit with fisticuffs of opera and hard rock then wafting ever so slowly like a collapsing mylar balloon sinking back and hovering over the reflecting well of sound in him and submerges there.

 Biographer David Bret puts Mercury’s deep, throaty rock-growl nudging a tender, vibrant tenor to life, then scaling a high-pitched, perfect coloratura, pure and crystalline, in my ears, and for a moment I hear the small shatters of broken glass on kitchen floors, the throb of tired feet and stubbed toes on a narrow trail. I draw a breath of musty, fragrant air, duck my head into a dust devil whirl of exhilaration and then I’m wrapped in the chill of lost ways and then lifted in crazy joy, into the mosaic of a stained glass window sunlight beamed through the pinwheeling colors splashed onto a stone cathedral floor.

He’s humming now, collecting minors and majors, pulling out useful detritus from his storied life as he draws out a velvet chair, directs me into it, and settles me at the groaning board of the feast. The late summer dusk chorus of crickets starts up and I do not shut the windows all night.


Paula Marafino Bernett

Paula Marafino Bernett’s poetry has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Clackamas Literary Review, The Louisville Review, Margie, Nimrod International Journal, Rattle, Salamander, Tar River Poetry, and Whiskey Island, among others. Her lyric essay “Digression and Memory, The Handmaiden Effect” and a companion essay “Four Hands Improvising on a Piano” appeared in Fourth Genre. A lyric essay “The Smallest Leaning Begins …” was published in Eastern Iowa Reviewand Birdcoat Quarterly published “Lady Mondegreen Rises from the One Who Was Laid Upon the Green.” The flash essay “How a Person Becomes a Body” was published by Gigantic Sequins and nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MaLa from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM. She lives in NYC with Chance, her beloved Chessie.

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