Normally, we celebrate the holidays,

exchanging gifts, delighting each other

with the latest gadgets.  Normally,

we believe in how life always improves,


gets more convenient, easier to live.

Normally, we don’t’ hunker down.

Normally, we don’t have occasion

to use that phrase—hunker down.


Normally, we  replace the windows,

rebuild that demolished interior wall.

Normally, we have work to do, relatives

haven’t vanished, and friends haven’t fled.


Normally, the toilet tank refills.

Normally, we change our clothes.



William Aarnes

William Aarnes has published two collections with Ninety-Six PressLearning to Dance (1991) and Predicaments (2001)—and a third collection, Do in Dour, from Aldrich Press (2016). His work has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, FIELD, and Red Savina Review.

Palpable and Mute

On a good morning

I am the shaman

on a great morning

I am all thirteen of them


a conclave of fire and feathers

atop the Sayan Mountains.


I practice divinations

while sipping coffee

and braiding my syllabic chants

into crows’ shouts

I call the words gather

they descend the World Tree

I lead ancestral heroes

to the island of my page.


This morning

I am a correspondent

fumbling with my camera

to document this Siberian ritual

or worse an ill-fated Yakutian bull

bellowing centuries

as I surrender to the blade

palpable and mute.


On a good morning

I am both the knife

and the warm bowl of cow’s blood –

on a great morning

I am a poet.



Candice Kelsey

Candice Kelsey’s poems have appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Burningword — recently her nonfiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An educator of 20 years’ standing with her master’s degree in literature from LMU, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Psychologists Say That When Someone Calls You by the Wrong Name, It’s Because They Love You

The latest research calls it misnaming, says

I likely look

nothing like her. Insists

it has nothing to do with aging, assures me

that the fact that both our names

start with K

is unimportant. In a half-

second, I learned this Scorpio dragon

shares the same semantic network

inside one man’s brain

and something else

located in an organ I won’t try to name

since I might say heart

when I mean penis, both

smoking, catching fire, and I guess

this happens

to everyone at some point:

you get excited, you get

confused, cup your hands to drink

from the same big bucket of love.



Kasandra S. Larsen

Kasandra Larsen’s work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Burningword Literary Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and Into the Void, and is upcoming in The Halcyone Magazine’s/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets of 2018, among others. Her full-length poetry manuscript has been a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and a semifinalist for the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her chapbook STELLAR TELEGRAM won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a poetry reader for the journal Bare Fiction (UK).

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