Eugene Stevenson

Olives Keep Secrets

Green limbs, olive-heavy, on a bluff over a rich-blue sea,

hold the eye so the mind can focus, press the shutter,

record the moment in waves of chemistry, file it away in

labyrinths, while the blood flutters, seeks to drown

the waves, put them to rest, quiet the restless talk.

Fingers grasp the fruit tenderly, light enough to

keep bruises & oil at bay, firm enough to bring it

down in a low arc, nadir, up in high arc, apogee,

as the red, wet mouth opens to catch the prize,

a triumph of the tongue, all muscle & mobility.

Olives & sea soil, images & arcs, lips & tongues in

constant caress, continue the slow turn of machinery

down deep in genetic twists, to bare at harvest,

hope, like the hope high in the top branches of

the tree, hope in the pruned burning afterwards.

The lungs swell with salt air & green perfume,

a proud & satisfying moment, recorded or not, yet,

as morsels & moisture descend the throat, descend

pixelated avenues of remembering, a thirst manifests,

unsatisfied. Like faith, olives keep some of their secrets.


Black Opal Koan


A black opal holds the cards, slowly revealed

to be fog of the hand, witnesses before a judge,

stone-dark chants, verdicts from crowds. This

tired & tiresome trouble, we can & will survive it.

Winter, arm trap-caught. Spring, limb broad-axe

severed. For life, run to the city. No hawks soar

over towers. Amid highways, fingers in bark chips

grow roots, the hand blooms in survival, in art.

Notes: Such is the chemistry of position, truth

changes, not with time, but with proximity.

After you visit, I am left little, save music, vertigo,

strain to get out of the deep, the deep what-was.

I may wait too long for the fog to lift. Too quiet,

too careful, too long, too wrong so far, yet still

on my shoulders, I bear, today toward tomorrow,

ancient promises of fruit & another sunrise.

Eugene Stevenson

Eugene Stevenson, son of immigrants, father of expatriates, lives in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Eisenhower Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee & author of The Population of Dreams (Finishing Line Press 2022), his poems have appeared in The Galway Review, The Hudson Review, San Pedro River Review, Third Wednesday, Tipton Poetry Journal, & Washington Square Review among others.

Melissa Goodnight





Melissa Goodnight

Melissa’s work has appeared in Mud Season Review, Lunch Ticket, and Litro among others. She earned her BA from Missouri State University, her MA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her MFA from Mississippi University for Women. She lives in Atlanta.

Deadly Up

A direct hit this time.

Like a Halley’s Comet

coming in 1960 and going out now.

Twain would be proud of the old girl

made of cypress

impervious to nails.

But the river is deadly up

to a line taller than God.

The shallows breathe heavy

stripping palm trees.

The windows are all blown-out

blinds they unfurl to a sky submerged

where gulf water joins

up into the air like being

freed at last

like forever

like gone.

Ward Abel

Ward Abel’s work has appeared in hundreds of journals (Rattle, Versal, The Reader, Worcester Review, Riverbed Review, others), including a nomination for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and he is the author of three full collections and ten chapbooks of poetry, including his latest collection, “The Width of Here” (Silver Bow, 2021). He is a reformed lawyer, he writes and plays music, and he teaches literature. Abel resides in rural Georgia.

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