Howard Brown



Give me poems—

poems which speak to the heart

and not the head;

whose words roll from the tongue

like water over polished stone;

which say straight out

what they have to say;

whose truth does not lie buried

beneath endless layers

of meaningless metaphor;

poems unlike those

fawned over by the literary elite,

but leave me asking:

What fuckery is this?





Standing in the bathroom,

attempting to text

and pee at the same time,

I dropped my cell phone in the toilet.


In a flash, I saw the phone’s

micro-circuits signing off, one by one,

as I reached down and took hold of

the little urine-soaked rectangle.


And now,

after three days of silence,

no texts, no emails

no help from the ubiquitous Siri,


the phone still buried

in a bowl of Uncle Ben’s long-grain rice,

I wonder who, in truth, has been rescued—

the cell phone or me?



Bad Kitty


He was a bad kitty,

and did not care.


Dining according to the dictates

of his own finicky palate,

he turned up his nose

at all the rest.


Without warning, he would

bite the very hand which fed him,

if that hand strayed where

he deemed it should  not be.


He shat and pissed and wiped his butt

wherever he chose—oriental rug,

litter box or easy chair,

they were all the same to him.


Clueless that he owed us anything,

he slept through the day curled in front

of the big glass door, twitching in the sunlight

as he dreamed his ephemeral, feline dreams.


For he was a bad kitty,

and did not care.



Howard Brown

Howard Brown is a poet and writer who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Lookout Mountain. His poetry has appeared in Old Hickory Review and Poetry Super Highway. In 2012, he published a book of poetry entitled “The Gossamer Nature of Random Things.” His poem “Pariah” placed first in the poetry division of the 2015 William Faulkner Literary Competition put on by Mississippi’s Tallahatchie Riverfest. He has published short fiction in Louisiana Literature, Extract(s), Gloom Cupboard, F**k Fiction, Crack the Spine, Pulpwood Fiction and Mad Hatter Review (forthcoming).

My Father’s Song

Some men are born

gathering a nest


of white and dark

fabulous musical notes


to them,

and some men,


born broken like two halves

of the April moon,


discover that to drink

alone at night –


under the glass chandelier’s

metropolis of stars


buzzing over a river’s

boardwalk where tugboats


usher in ships

whose melodic horns


blow mournful refrains

like liquid train whistles


over the bay –

is to discover


the very edge

where heartache


and music, those twin

companions, prevail.


And so at night,

they lift up


their strong arms,

and they carry their horns


under a twilight,

and they saunter out


where the moonlight glows

like a great partridge pea


hanging loose in the sky

so that they can feel


all that aloneness

there, holding court.


And then they blow their horn

to the moon,


and to the Goddess body,

and to the many bodies,


and to beauty

and to soul,


and to the vast category

of inscrutable love,


and thus is their benediction –

many forms: a tuneful ladder.


And when they find it,

their song –


they become forsaken

by every sweet summer



every lost love


they could never

hold tight,


and, within themselves,

smoked holy


with the music one feels

when one is blessed full


with camphor and blues,

they depart.




Ken Meisel

Ken Meisel is a poet and psychotherapist from the Detroit area. He is a 2012 Kresge Arts Literary Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, Swan Duckling chapbook contest winner, winner of the Liakoura Prize and the author of six poetry collections: The Drunken Sweetheart at My Door (FutureCycle Press: 2015), Scrap Metal Mantra Poems (Main Street Rag: 2013), Beautiful Rust (Bottom Dog Press: 2009), Just Listening (Pure Heart Press: 2007), Before Exiting (Pure Heart Press: 2006) and Sometimes the Wind (March Street Press: 2002). His work in over 80 national magazines including Cream City Review, Rattle, Ruminate, Midwest Gothic, Concho River Review, San Pedro River Review, Boxcar Review, Otis Nebula, Kentucky Review, Birdfeast, Muddy River Poetry Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Lake Effect, Third Wednesday and Bryant Literary Review.

Nature is Nurture

I swear I can feel the grass

extend myself out, reach to touch

pet and adore, show my affection.


Light makes me marvel

all those photons busy working;

a free painting every second.


If my hope were tangible

I could easily say

it lives in times of quiet

blessed by a hummingbird

beating its wings.



Penney Knightly

Penney Knightly is a survivor of sexual abuse; themes about that are often found in her work. Her poetry has appeared in Broad Magazine, Big River Review, Dead King, Ink in Thirds, and elsewhere. She lives with her family on a sailboat in the San Francisco Bay, where she writes and makes art. She tweets @penneyknightly and shares on her blog


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