Kitchen Table Lament

I miss the black wrought iron fire escape with its steps

that rattled outside the kitchen window on its way

up to the tenement roof top.


I miss the twin bed next to the kitchen table, where

my mother slept and tried to convince me (and herself)

that it was just like the sleeping alcove in an old Irish cottage.


I miss the washing machine next to the sink

that she camouflaged with a pretty table runner

and a vase of plastic daisies whenever it wasn’t in use.


I miss the contact paper behind the stove that my mother changed

every now and then to convert the cracked plaster walls into

brickwork or wood grain depending on her mood and what was on sale.


I miss it all except the roaches.  Not even through nostalgia’s

gauziest lens could I ever miss them. Even now, fifty years later,

I would still tell those roaches to go straight to hell.


Gloria Heffernan

Gloria Heffernan’s Exploring Poetry of Presence (Back Porch Productions) won the 2021 CNY Book Award for Nonfiction. She received the 2023 Naugatuck River Review Narrative Poetry Prize. She is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and three chapbooks including “Peregrinatio: Poems for Antarctica” (Kelsay Books) which was a finalist for the 2021 Grayson Books Chapbook Prize. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in over 100 publications including the anthology Poetry of Presence (vol. 2) and Without a Doubt: Poems Illuminating Faith.

The Day Earth’s Gravity Changed

Tombstone, AZ, 1884


Beneath a black wool hood

the hanged man grins, his breath

hissing through clenched teeth

like steam from a waiting locomotive.

When the trap door dropped

he’d felt his weight plunge. Yet here

he is, hovering between crossbeam

and dirt, the day earth’s gravity changed.

He wonders if he’s dreaming

until he hears frantic whinnies

of horses outside the saloon

floating where they were hitched.

He feels a weight has been lifted,

that the trap door opened on a new life.

A startling moment for anyone, no doubt.

To be relieved of the reflux from long

festering regrets, the memories that

nail your shoes to the floor. Imagine

never being tormented by your

personal stage coach heist, whatever

it might be. To be cut down from

the gallows and walk away. To slap

the past’s dust from your jeans.


Ken Hines

You’ll find Ken Hines’ poems in AIOTB, Psaltery & Lyre, Vita Poetica, Rockvale Review and other magazines. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, his poem “Driving Test” won Third Wednesday Journal ‘s annual poetry prize. He lives in Virginia with his wife, the painter Fran Hines.

A Thousand Pieces of My Heart

One morning, I found two

Varied Thrush dead, laying side by side

outside the greenhouse.


It was as if they dived into love and it killed them.

That glass house, was the only place that

felt like home to you.


I’d watch you through the window tenderly

bed broken leaves of succulents into pots

the size of your thumbs.


I believed in signs, warnings of things to come.

At its door overnight sprouted

translucent Indian Pipes.


They rose out of the crumbly soil

like alien question marks or ruffled

ended shepherds staffs.


It was as if they asked, do you know who I am,

will you love me like you loved the rose or lily,

will you pick me, vase me,


or will you discard me wary that

I may poison you

with my strange ways.


One night you came through the door

with a waltz playing on your phone.

You placed it on the coffee table,


taking me up into your arms,

dancing me around the living room

and time felt infinite, this yes, this.


Later you stood at the foot of the bed

and announced like a school boy

that you wanted to sing a song for me.


When you did, a thousand pieces of my heart

gathered together for the first time in my life,

stirring you into my forever.


Sometimes at night, I still want your back

your hip, freckled shoulders, sandy colored skin,

the way you’d say ‘tuck in tight’


and I’d place my face into the warmth

between your shoulder blades wondering

if you were starting to turn


away, if you had met her, someone better,

if you were dreaming of her younger landscape

not the old desert of me.


I was a child in a fairy tale believing if you left

and came back, left and came back then you’d realize

I was the best and that you were for me and I for you.


You told me the first time you saw

my photo you fell in love

with my sadness.


When you loved me all my sadness disappeared.

When you would leave me it returned.

How many times did you create my sadness


to love me again? I did not count.

I only know you finally found someone else

who’s sadness was more beautiful than mine.


J.V. Foerster

J.V. Foerster is a three-time Pushcart nominated poet. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines including Cirque, Amethyst Review, Quartet, The Field Guide Magazine, The Bluebird Word, The Fiery Scribe, Eclectica, Furrow edition from Green Ink Press, Loch Raven Review, Agnieszka’s Dowry, Midnight Mind, Premiere Generation Ink, Fickle Muse, Oak Bend Review, Fox Chase Review, to name just a few. She has work in Orchard Lea Anthology, and in a Rosemont College Anthology. She was a finalist in an Oprelle Poetry Contest and received a First Honorable mention in the Oregon Poetry Association Members Only contest. She has a book, “Holy Mess of a Girl” forthcoming from Kelsay Books. J.V. is also a published painter and photographer. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.



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