No Strings Attached

In Darwin,


the biggest ball


of twine

is unencumbered

by human



No discontented lovers

struggling with rope



anxious to be free.

No lasso-


twirling cowpokes

waiting in ambush

for that special



No timber-hitched

twosomes and threesomes


double knotted

like old sneakers.

No families


held together

by spit

and slip



Just a ball of

purposeless string


bigger now

than the town



Steve Deutsch


Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. His recent publications have or will appear in Evening Street, Better Than Starbucks, Flashes of Brilliance, SanAntonio Review, Softblow, Mojave River Review, The Broadkill Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Panoply, Algebra of Owls, The Blue Nib, Thimble Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, Borfski Press, Streetlight Press, Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, New Verse News and The Ekphrastic Review. He was nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2017 and 2018. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press.

Eric Blanchard



The blank page is inspiration—


a silent beckoning

in the mind’s ears.



It is just like the ocean’s coy whisper

in a conch shell,



A toddler scampers across it,

leaving word-like footprints.


Lacking social concerns,

he builds sandcastles of


random syllables.



the wave grows toward



washes away innocence,


replaces it with complex

tortured syntax


and walks away.




Planning My Road Trip


            This will be epic!


I am planning my road trip.

(Who am I kidding? I am daydreaming.)

Really, I will have to be frugal

and pack light,


but for an extended adventure—

bring only essentials. Roll my bedroll

tightly, strap it

tightly to the luggage rack.


The saddlebags are filled

with necessities: road flares, inner tube,

a selective assortment of tools.


A duffel of clothes fit for all seasons

sits on the passenger pillion (rides bitch,

if you will),

which would otherwise be empty.


My route has been mapped out,

with various alternatives tossed about,

like a maverick or nomad.


I will visit forty-eight states

(and at least one foreign country) alone.

Of course, many things,


like consumables, I can gather

on the road;

beg, borrow, steal the rest. I will need

a pup tent and a Coleman stove


for the road-side campsites

I will sleep at to save money

on occasion, weather permitting.


It will be bare-bones and dirt-cheap.

(Yes, even in my dreams.)  Now,

if only I still had my hog. . . . It won’t

be the same in an RV.


Eric Blanchard

Growing up in Texas, Eric dreamed of dropping out of high school, but when the haze of adolescence cleared, he found himself in law school instead. After being a trial lawyer for a decade and a half, he ran away to Ohio, where he taught school and lived life for about a minute. Eventually, he returned home to help care for his parents. Eric’s poetry has been included in numerous collections, both online and in hard copy. In 2013, his prose poem “The Meeting Ran Long” was nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net anthology. His chapbook, The Good Parts, will be published in January 2020 by Finishing Line Press.

How To Recognize An American

In those days of “The Ugly American”

and Gary Powers, his U-2 Incident,

we lived and traveled in Scotland and Europe.

It was mostly the intense teenage boys

who yelled, “Yankee, go home!”

or maybe the coal man, if you could

parse out a few understandable words,

who insulted our Canadian friends

by mistaking them for one of us.

Sure, speaking would give us away,

but how did they know us on the streets?

Walking with hands in pockets, some said,

or overcoats, a wimp’s shame

according to the hardy Scot

with his damp-to-the-bone chill and Gulf Stream,

not guessing Arctic winds and ices.

Years later, the writer was unmasked

in Austria without a word,  without a pocket,

without a coat. “Because you smiled at me,”

the face of officialdom admitted.

“We don’t mind. It’s nice.”*

We carry our terrarium worlds with us,

never guessing how we seem, yet ever fretting

over imagined opinions. (My female generation

always tucking bra straps, hitching slips …

.”what’s a slip?” …while the young

shape their selfies and let it all show,

have different hang-ups.)

Is it American to always

go “spot checking” ourselves?

The Brit’s American joke back then

was the Yank, hand to mouth,

nose to armpit, checking for suspect odors….

checking….checking … is it only human?

only American?….. or only me?


*from  Lynda Lynn Haupt, MOZART’S STARLING



Carol Hamilton


Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in San Pedro River Review, Dryland, Pinyon, Commonweal, Southwestern American Literature, Pour Vida, Adirondack Review, The Maynard, Sanskrit Literary Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheet, Broad River Review, Fire Poetry Review, Homestead Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poem, Haight Ashbury Poetry Journal, Sandy River Review, Blue Unicorn, former people Journal, Main Street Rag, Pigeonholes Review, Poetica Review, Zingara Review, Broad River Review and others. She has published 17 books: children’s novels, legends and poetry, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from Virtual Arts Cooperative Press Purple Flag Series. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.




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