Morning Breath

After sleeping

for hours, I am still waiting

to exhale

morning breath,


so I can spit

into my bathroom sink

with a healthy squeeze

of toothpaste.


I breathe in again

and hold it again,

like noxious-fumes avoidance

or a morning bong hit.


I waste scant time

gargling mouthwash

like pickle shots,

popping placebos like Xanax,


sucking fresh air,

changing my paradigm,

changing the font

on my nameplate,


changing my password

to something less accessible

but honest,

changing reality itself.


I am frantic to exhale

and spit.

Because, in the morning,

I gasp for breath.


Eric Blanchard

Growing up in Houston, Texas, Eric Blanchard 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 a mindful 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, was published in January 2020 by Finishing Line Press.

On Grey Rock Place

Her scent no longer on your face attests

the word apartment is no accident —

it’s parceling, like beans from squash

or like the homebound from the lost.


As gardens, so with rooms: and yet upon

this whisking of tea powder in a bowl

until the conjured swirl displays

the roily froth of all our days,


consider, when our children see the crush

of fragrant yarrow on our backs and shins,

how in telling plain and glad

we might profess the myriad


reckonings of love, that from a fall

when everything, impossibly, is spring,

this place, since from bereavement taken,

may canopy the paths of the forsaken.


Greg Sendi

Greg Sendi a Chicago writer and former fiction editor at Chicago Review. In the past year, his poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of literary magazines and online outlets, including  ApricityThe Briar Cliff ReviewClarionCONSEQUENCEThe Masters ReviewPlumePulp LiteratureSan Antonio Review and upstreet among others.

Lee Varon, featured author



Grackles fly over the doll factory.

Dolls reach out their stiff arms,


they know you’re dead.

Someone sues Big Pharma—


too late for you.


At the back of the turquoise bodega

drug deals go down.


Even in jail you found things

to smile about


even if you smiled wistfully,

like someone who remembers red poppies


when they had eyes.





The peacocks of addiction

strut their luminous wares.


Wherever you go

their purple moons tremble with promise.


When you sleep

they catch your dreams in snares.


They peck your bright hopes,




death’s dope.



Eighteen Months Recovery


You take your girlfriend to detox

as I once drove you along the potholes of  Mass. Ave

to Boston Medical.


I have a video we took that night—

your hands shaking, skin

hanging on depleted bones.


You give your girlfriend a pink rose.

You give her kisses you’ve been saving for years.

I wish I could spare you the urgent truth:


She loves someone more than you.

Someone who stuffs promises in her suitcase,

someone with a  voice like liquid caramel,


a nomad who goes by different names:

Juice, Tar, Mud, sometimes just H.

The trustee of hopelessness


holds her hand and whispers, Come,

come into the shadow of no memories,

the fortuity of my embrace.


Lee Varon

Lee Varon is a poetry, fiction and non-fiction writer. She won the 19th Annual Briar Cliff Review Fiction contest. Her poetry and short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in various journals including Painted Bride Quarterly and Atlanta Review. In 2017, Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Affairs Run in the Family. In 2018 she won the Sunshot Poetry Prize for her book, Shot in the Head. She is the co-editor of the anthology Spare Change News Poems: An Anthology by Homeless People and those Touched by Homelessness, published by Ibbetson Street Press in 2018.

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