Gum Ball Machine by Alan Catlin

The bus drunk waves
his walking stick above
his head, then gestures
to all who enter, reciting
the signs of the cross,
speaking in Spanenglish,
shifting from one language
to the other creating an
almost perfect gibberish
mirroring confused thoughts,
white whiskey days warding
off the big chills of winter
even as a man across
the aisle warns,” You’d
better shut up-you’re a whack-
understand-a whack & you
know what happens to
whacks? They pull over
the bus by where all
the gum ball machine
lights are & they take
you away.”-an observation
that hits home like a
temporary tranquilizing
dart ’til the bus hits
a pot hole & he is jolted
awake-revived he begins
classifying the riders as
Ok and not okay-‘I like
you, bueno, bueno, y bueno-
but you muy malo-malo
malo, malo—” Up ahead
we see red spinning lights.
None of us are thinking
of gum ball machines.

Alan Catlin
Alan Catlin is the poetry editor of His latest books of poetry are American Odyssey from Future Cycle and Last Man Standing from Lummox Press

Not To Bother by David J. Thompson

Dylan’s Mr. Tambourine Man came on
the car radio. He turned up the volume,
said, This is a perfect song, isn’t it?
When she didn’t respond, he asked her
what the hell she was so pissed about.
Pissed? She practically screamed.
We go to a party with my friends
and you sit moping on the couch
by yourself all night talking to their dog
and you want to know why I’m pissed?
He hesitated, started to scratch his head,
said softly, I told you I didn’t want to go
in the first place. All you guys ever do
is talk about work and how you hate
your jobs and your stupid ass bosses
and I never know what to say. She told him
that was all bullshit. That he didn’t even try.

Dylan was still singing about disappearing
through the smoke rings of his mind
when he hit the blinker, turned into
a gas station a few blocks from their place.
Why are we stopping here? she asked wearily.
He told her he needed a 6-pack, asked
if he should leave it running. She said
not to bother. As he walked away he realized
he was singing softly to himself about dancing
beneath the diamond sky with one hand
waving free,  but when he looked up
at the big night sky, all he saw was darkness.

David J. Thompson
David J. Thompson lists John Prine, John Sayles, and Frank O’Hara among his list of heroes. He enjoys The Simpsons, and he loves Spain and the American West. Please visit his photo website at

Armed and Dangerous by Beth Gordon

Each morning between roses
and lavender, rows of
earth and tulips, he walks
like a man with a terminal
disease.  Something prolonged
debilitating, and unseen.
Careful not to startle
himself or anything else,
to examine each petal
before extending
his hand. He has a thousand
long stems to deliver
today. Prom season,
weddings, birthdays,
and funerals. He hears
them, their dangerous
buzzing as they move
nectar from plant to plant.
Honey-makers, hive
dwellers, harbingers
of his demise.  What’s he
so afraid of, JD asks,
it can’t just be a bee
sting.  Dead man walking
because of an insect
1/millionth his size?
Anything can happen
when you’re not looking,
I say, the boogie man is a sneaky
little bastard.

Beth Gordon 2
Beth Gordon is a writer who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for 17 years but dreams of oceans, daily. Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Verity La, Quail Bell,Calamus Journal, Five:2:One, After Happy Hour Review and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.

Act Like I’m Somebody, Won’t You? by David Spicer

Never a likable fellow in my
overalls and paisley shirt, I don’t
smell—very much—and I’ve
witnessed lawn mowers deafen
brush fires. My hobby?
Painting watercolors of pickup
trucks and still lifes of milk
cartons, crackers, and model
airplanes. My reputation precedes—
no, precludes—me, no matter
how I button up my costume.
Hey, I barely wobble glancing
at a pretty brunette in a sunhat
when I wait on a tree stump
for the bus. If I snort, it’s not her
fault: I swim the river every
morning with a hangover after
a Bud for breakfast, ambling
to the coffee shop barefoot,
my turquoise toenails testifying
to the smooth gravel.
Plus, my collection of suitcases
is unrivaled: one saved a life
last April in Lake Erie when I
tossed it to a child drowning.
You people denied me respect
because my face with its slash-scars
glares at you like an evil president.
You don’t remember I’m a hero,
and I can’t help it, so act like
I’m somebody, won’t you?

David Spicer
David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Easy Street, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Santa Clara Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and five chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. His latest chapbook is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree, available from Flutter Press.

Concrete Balloons and Willows Sway by Ken Allan Dronsfield

I watched the sunrise on a cold day
ducks spar for bread at the city pond
hot coffee steeps in cups of gold hue.
Bikes on parade, just another Sunday
as I play the worn paths in red flipflops
amazed by the dresses on the toy dogs
as owners guide them from tree to tree.
I’m watching the concrete willows sway
as toy sailboats race off in harsh winds.
I fidget and quiver in a strange warmth
listening for coins dropping in my cup.
Colored balloons on sale only a buck
clown looks like Gacy, nefarious in life
I ponder my escape on a different path
but ponies pass, maybe lost unicorns?
I sit down to enjoy a bag of popcorn as
squirrels ran up and snatched the thing;
but was it a squirrel, or a huge city rat?
I’m not sure, as I’m blinded once again
the self-medicating will do it every time.
Cotton candy selling in rainbow or pink
strum a tune and one more coin plunks
during another lost day in the city park
as I enjoy my M&Ms and skittles mixed.

Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms! His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.

a sampling of Dancing with Chowski, Part 2 by Kari Rhyan

I can’t write on medication
stretch out on planks
keep them I punch it

A hole through the knot

I’ll make it my shush
the capsules fall just
the air bleeds out

(pick them up)

I can’t write on medication
(two no but my one)
said I can’t have a you

if you’re never a now

I’ll make it my shush
the capsules fall just
my sun faded

(“You in live in half light.”)

But I can’t write! I can’t write!
(and you can’t live
without your we)

My previous work, Standby for Broadcast–a memoir on the dangers of canned patriotism, family loyalty, and discount retail–focused on my time as a Navy nurse in Afghanistan, and has received praise from Kirkus and Blue Ink, and are widely available online.

Incendiary by Linda Imbler

Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe’s,
Matchbox cars, colorful Legos,
All lost to the house going up in flames

Please don’t light the match.

She will always take the blame,
Protect the children’s lives,
Today’s surprise
An empty box, no ribbon tied,
I know what’s mine

Please don’t light the match.

The fault lies outside these walls,
Gaslighting to best effect,
Decisions in his hands,
He criticizes, puts her down,
Alibis runs dry,
There’s much to do, so she can’t see you,
Must not answer the phone

Please don’t light the match.

Stay in this house alone,
Keep the peace for them,
Too late, she’s found that
Nerve that twangs
After he last harangues,
Being ignored would’ve been so great

Please don’t light the match.

Too late, better this way,
Hold the kids and watch it catch.

Linda Imbler
Linda Imbler is the author of the published poetry collection “Big Questions, Little Sleep.” Her work has appeared in numerous journals. Linda’s creative process and a current, complete listing of sites which have or will publish her work can be found at This writer, yoga practitioner, and classical guitar player lives in Wichita, Kansas.

Untitled 3 by William C. Blome

The woman I know more about than anyone on this train does
slowly sidles down the aisle and passes me on her right,
passes me on her way back to the little yellow circus
tented in the baggage car. I’m finding myself questioning
just what in the world her interest in the circus might be,
because winning knife fights has heretofore been a peak area
of expertise and achievement for her, and with the remote
exceptions of the little big-top’s knife thrower
and/or some bizarro juggler, it’s going to take awhile for me
to puzzle out any other link she could possibly have
to the circus (and a small, urine-colored one at that).
See, I know this woman; I helped her jet blocks away
from the scene of a crime several months ago
after she’d sliced my wife to ribbons. I grudgingly confess
that many’s the time she’s been my go-to person
for things yellow and alive; for example, I order bananas
and forsythia cuttings off her, and yes, I’ve warmed my head
beneath her golden shower on more than one occasion,
so just do not tell me I don’t know squat about this sweetheart
of the rails. Why, I’ll even hazard the intelligent guess
she’s the ringmaster now presiding in the rear.

William C. Blome
William C. Blome writes poetry and short fiction. He lives wedged between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and he is a master’s degree graduate of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. His work has previously seen the light of day in such wondrous places as In Between Hangovers, Poetry London, PRISM International, Fiction Southeast, Phenomenal Literature, and The California Quarterly.

Year Round by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

along Route 111
there’s a small house
with a slab porch
featuring Joseph, Mary
and manger
concrete statues
year round

there used to be
rooster and hen
statues as well
the whole lot
as 1960s lemon
soaked hair

what befell
the poultry
is anyone’s guess
but on Route 111
it’s Christmas
year round

Wanda Morrow Clevenger - Copy
Wanda Morrow Clevenger is a Carlinville, IL native living in her husband’s hometown of Hettick, IL, population 200 give or take. She’s placed over 422 pieces of work in 149 print and electronic publications. She is currently attempting to sway a publisher into accepting her full-length poetry manuscript. She hasn’t seen any pigs fly by so believes she’s still got a shot.

Alexandra David-Neel by Michael Lee Johnson

She edits her life from a room made dark
against a desert dropping summer sun.
A daring travelling Parisian adventurer
ultimate princess turning toad with age-
snow drops of white in her hair, tiny fingers
thumb joints osteoarthritis
corrects proofs at 100, pours whiskey,
pours over what she wrote
scribbles notes directed to the future,
applies for a new passport.
With this mount of macular degeneration,
near, monster of writers’ approach.
She wears no spectacles.
Her mind teeters between Himalayas,
distant Gobi Desert, but subjectively warm.
Running reason through her head for living,
yet dancing with the youthful word of Cinderella,
she plunges deeper near death into Tibetan mysticism,
trekking across snow covered mountains to Lhasa, Tibet.
Nighttime rest, sleepy face, peeking out that window crack
into the nest, those quiet villages below
tasting that reality beyond all her years’
vastness of dreams.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era. He is a poet, editor, publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in Itasca, IL. Mr. Johnson published in more than 925 small press magazines online and print. His poems have appeared in 27 countries as of this date, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites, with over 103 videos on YouTube. Michael Lee Johnson was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015, and Best of the Net, 2016.