Featured Author: Christy Prahl

Seventh Summer


A not so rare November day

that impersonates June,


bisque of sun,

Ligurian sky


when Sylvia, from the mailroom,

who walks with a cane,


/diabetes to claim

her right foot by spring/


joins me outside for a forbidden smoke.


Beautiful day, I say.

How do we make sense of it?

says Sylvia’s face


before casting alarm at the glaciers

melting in Alaska


and I share what I’ve heard

about the snow crab season


Cancelled, I tell her.

95% gone.

I can’t stop thinking of the fishermen, I say,

about to lose their livelihoods.


And all those people just being born,

she pines,

never knowing the sweetness of crab.





Leo [the farmer] will die this afternoon,

forehead damp with kisses

from Gene [the tractor supplier]

and Dusty [the grower of feed corn],

queer but summoned gestures

from sturdy men

who talk with their hands.


Home remedies for Leo

meant the clench of his gut


like the summer squash

in his tomato beds.


Goddamn volunteers.


We knew Leo from his blue eggs

and spiral notepad in his chest pocket

and honor stand on the side of the road.

Take what you want.

Leave your money in the jar.


He stood tightwire

on wood ladders to repair the plastic

of his hoop house with duct tape

and fed composting scraps

to a blind raccoon

[who stuck around].


Leo will die as so many farmers die,

shallow of air,

tallying from his bed,

wondering if he should have returned to church

all those years back

[when his wife begged him to],


the spent soil
of hundreds of thousands of fingerling potatoes

making rich, verdant crops

of his nails.




Christy Prahl

Christy Prahl is the author of the collection We Are Reckless (Cornerstone Press, 2023). A Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her past and future publications include the Penn Review, Salt Hill Journal, Eastern Iowa Review, and others. She has held residencies at both Ragdale and the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow and is the founder of the PenRF reading series. She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan and appreciates subways and siloes in equal measure. More of her work can be found at christyprahl.wixsite.com/christy-prahl.


Just Started School

Mother didn’t talk much.

Didn’t want to fall foul

of the thought police.

There was the ugly guy with the cruel, crooked mouth

who owned the house and loved his chickens.

He believed.


‘Heil Hitler’.

We’d brought our blackboards.

My old teacher had a desk on a raised platform.


When it was all over,

Mother hung out a white sheet

from the bedroom window.


The new teacher taught us Russian.

Bald underneath this huge black fur hat.

His yellow teeth as large as a horse’s. Threw

that unruly boy down the school’s stone steps.


The wheels of tanks looming over me.

My brother made me an airplane from balsawood.

We continued to listen to AFN Europe—

my brother had crafted a crystal radio

from a cigar box.


The Russians changed the street names

and the portraits on the school walls.


Rose Mary Boehm

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as seven poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her latest: Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders? (Kelsay Books July 2022), Whistling in the Dark (Cyberwit July 2022), and Saudade (December 2022) are available on Amazon. www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com

Swear to God? Or How to Seduce the Most Beautiful Girl in Town

Male high school students back in the 1950s were prone, like teenage boys everywhere, to boast about their exploits. Whenever one of them told a story that was hard to believe, the others would blurt, “Swear to God?” The storyteller was required to reply: “Swear to God!” The tale often involved some sexual exploit that had about as much chance of being true as the teller’s having recently been transported by aliens to the moon. Never mind: if it was lurid enough or entertaining enough, fantasy would happily substitute for reality. For enormous whoppers, the other boys would say not merely, “Swear to God?” but also “Mother’s honor?” To which the proper response was: “Mother’s honor” uttered with right hand raised, left hand over the heart, and eyes tilted heavenward. It is unclear which was more sacred, whether “Swear to God?” ranked first because it was invoked first, with “Mother’s honor?” called upon simply to bolster the case or whether “Mother’s honor?” ranked higher because it was invoked last and was the ultimate court of appeal. There were other solicitations, such as “No shit?” and “Cross your heart?” but “Swear to God? and “Mother’s honor?” got top billing. One particularly tall tale required that we pull out all the ritual stops. My glibbest sixteen-year-old friend, for whom truth was absolutely no constraint, concocted a story of how the most beautiful older girl in town had succumbed to his charms. She was in her mid-twenties, had dark, dreamy eyes, full, sexy lips, large pert breasts, and an irresistible beauty mark halfway down her right cheek. The seduction tale proceeded in a heated frenzy for at least fifteen minutes during which my friend omitted no obscene detail whatsoever and his panting cohort listened in rapt awe. At the climax of which, so to speak, the group shouted: “No Shit?! Cross your heart?! Mother’s honor?! SWEAR TO GOD?!” To which my friend calmly replied, with his right hand raised, left hand over his heart and eyes titled heavenward: “No shit. Cross my heart. Mother’s honor. Swear to God.”


David Blumenfeld

David Blumenfeld (aka Dean Flowerfield) is a former philosophy professor and associate dean who in retirement returned to writing poetry, creative nonfiction, and children’s literature, which he abandoned in his thirties to devote full-time to philosophy. One of his recent pieces was cited in Best American Essays, 2022 as a “notable essay;” another received a Pushcart Prize nomination; a third was “highly commended” in the 2022 Autumn Voices international poetry competition and will soon be republished in Five Points. His work for children has appeared in The Caterpillar, Balloons Lit. Journal, Smarty Pants, Carmina, and various anthologies.  www.davidcblumenfeld.com

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