Stanza by Sanjeev Sethi

(1)

Amid lavations strongest lines
scape from coils of memory:
cleansing of another kind.

(2)

When finance isn’t the fulcrum
math must be out of orbit.
Take to orthometry or theology.

(3)

Nine or so began your prosodic run
with bouts-rimés. Effort in other
areas surges this is on the same groove.

(4)

Trick is to sniff out specialty in orneriness
alluding to enormity of experience is naïf.
That way world leaders would poeticize:
General assembly of United Nations  be
citadel of song.

sanjeev-sethi-2
Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: London Grip, Skylight 47 Poetry, The Curly Mind, With Painted Words, Spillwords, Indefinite Space, Mad Swirl, Olentangy Review, Yellow Mama, New Mystics, Soul-Lit, Futures Trading, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.

Who Buried Jesus? by Ricky Garni

A guy named Joe.

Ricky Garni 2
Ricky Garni grew up in Miami and Maine. He works as a graphic designer by day and writes music by night. In 2001, his poetry was subpoenaed in court, in order to assert that his testimony was not valid as he was “clearly not of sound mind.” He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize on seven occasions.

One Step Away From Being Like Nothing Else by Dan Raphael

When opening the door makes the house go away
wings shaped like clouds, bird louder than 747s
like my breath only goes 2/3 up, upper stories no one visits
so harsh & delicate in hobbled time—no stray seeds, no rodent magellans
imagining a spring fresh sprinkler system, living in an aquarium of mist

How the floors wiggle is a tactile illusion, like a breeze across a lake
where all the fish are holding their breaths,
everyone lives in bubbles, on bubbles,
agreeing that asphalt is solid and we breathe air instead of information.
the complex soil of my brain, crop rotation vs. addiction,
someone else’s root hair stuck between my teeth,
keep digging til you feel the sun, the luminous worm castings from elsewhere

Even without a face i breathe, though i’ve never summited myself,
an immeasurable glacier enfolded in my cortex safe from global warming,
when i stick a finger into outer space to check the temperature my finger implodes,
cleaner than vacuum, a collision so powerful we’ll never know all the consequences,
like love, like jumping until the ground becomes a river and pulls me down the drain.
a teflon dry suit so i can swim across asphalt, each breath requires more memory
than will—like a dog asking to be let out this night of the funky moon,

With 1 tenth of 1 percent of a cow fanning through me—
making deliveries, lighting fires, completing puzzles—
got that sun in me, that feedlot, mountains of captivity,
no moons permitted, the only lights in the night sky are manmade,
random flares of spontaneous combustion, my muscles muscling,
my bones imagining the breeze, my thirst hears the faint cries of
“help me” from the water captive in this faucet in some restaurant kitchen
I’m a sparrow with big hands, i’m a stretchof april stream
that hundreds of extended plastic bottles are trying to capture for resale

dan-raphael
For a couple decades I’ve been active in the Northwest as poet, performer, editor and reading host. Everyone in This Movie Gets Paid, my most recent book, came out June 1st from Last Word Press. Current poems appear in Otoliths, Rasputin, Mad Swirl, Oddball & Unlikely Stories.

Give Them The Finger by G. Louis Heath

In the lunchroom in our high school, the
Kids ring round plastic tables riveted to

The floor. Hands fly in flashing freedom,
Semaphoring more than words. I know

Their juvenile fingers well as I serve their
Urgent, thrusting hands. A social comment,

If I may, humble minion of the cafeteria.
All these years, purity rings flourish on girls’

Fingers, yet never do I see a shining promise
Dazzle from a boy’s hand. Abstinence seems a

Strength of young women. I wonder about boys,
Proud of their muscles. Girls give them the finger.

G. Louis Heath
G. Louis Heath, Ph.D., Berkeley, 1969, is Emeritus Professor, Ashford University. Clinton, Iowa. He enjoys reading his poems at open mics. He often hikes along the Mississippi River, stopping to work on a poem he pulls from his back pocket, weather permitting. His books include Leaves Of Maple, Long Dark River Casino, and Redbird Prof: Poems Of A Normal U, 1969-1981. He has published poems in a wide array of journals, including Eunoia, Episteme, Black Poppy Review, Lunaris Review, Indiana Voice Review, Whispers, Dead Snakes, Raw Dog Press, Weird Reader, Literary Yard, and Houseboat Literary Magazine.

Even Your Shadow… Tricks by Paul Tristram

… in dubious and obscene corners.
Street lamp masks the inner death,
whereas the blinding light
of the judgemental real day
simply and remorselessly
augments and magnifies
the extent of the rot and decay
at battle behind the warpaint.
Kerbside street hustler,
a flushing stop-gap
between this mess and the next.
Radiant in the slick strut
of decadence and debauchery…
yet, ghost-white and gnat-weak in despair.
Through the pipe/into the veins
again and again and… again!
There is nothing outside of the bubble,
you are stuck in, but trouble,
and an unprecedented cliff-LEap
into a clarity and stark reality
so brilliantly painful,
disorienting and remorseless.
That you stutter-physically,
and drop-clumsily into a side-crawl…
away from the merest hint
of its condemning presence.
There is ‘Hope’
but it is not in the bin bags and dregs
which you are face-trawling through.
There is ‘Light’
but you are looking in the wrong direction.
And there is a ‘Road’
that leads back to those ‘Children’
which you are grieving for…
but it is set down the hardest possible way.

skull-bones-red-black
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press) http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

Gun Control by Alan Catlin

We never bothered
with guns at
the sporting goods
store, only two
of us had ever
held or fired
a weapon: my
Dad & I, in basic.
Neither of my
younger brothers
served and then
there’s my sister
who still isn’t
a gun person.
The guy up the street
had all kinds of
rifles & pistols
& shit as we were
made painfully
aware the day
a customer pulled
the trigger on
a hunting rifle &
somehow there was
a live round in
the chamber. What
are hunting rifles?
30 ought something?
Doesn’t matter.
This was on Central
Avenue mind you.
They don’t call it
Central Avenue for
nothing & that round
went out over two
sidewalks, four lanes
of traffic, through a
picture window, three
plywood walls & didn’t
hit a damn thing though
it sure as hell got
the attention of a
security guard who’d
just sat down with
an on-his-break coffee,
when that round went
by missing his head
the length of a round.
I don’t have to tell
you that means: Not by
much. You say there’s
no such thing as a
miracle: that, my friend,
is an honest to goodness
miracle. Nothing was hit,
no one killed, & a police
investigation that had
people talking for months.
All Dad could say was-
‘See:there’s another
reason why we don’t
sell guns’

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

All Hail The American Bro In The Used CD Store by John Grochalski

–for ben john smith

with his white sports coat
that has the american flag pinned to the lapel
with his bad cologne
his hair slicked back and his spray-on tan
wearing his shades in the used cd store
with his cell phone pressed to his ear
talking to some dude named, chris
with his ability to ooze through an aisle
bitching about how big his house in jersey is
with the way he tells chris
but, bro, we got a sweet deal on the place
with the way he cautions
is his boy getting married for love
or just because it’s the next step?
for his candor in admitting to everyone
that his wedding was his wife’s idea
because he’s been married for six years
he knows all of the tricks of the trade
and no one has the balls to doubt him
with his stack of dave matthews cds
that he hold like precious jewels he’s excavated
from the one-dollar bin
with his quest for adam sandler films
and the oeuvre of kevn james
for the way he tells, chris,
that jurassic world was the fucking bomb
and he’s a douche if he doesn’t go out and see it
before inviting chris to his fourth of july barbecue
out at that big-ass house in jersey
with the pool and the kids running around and all of that shit
for the way this american bro
has kept the country running amidst all the war and social turmoil
how comfortably familiar he is walking around this store
like he’s planning on buying everything
then heading over to friday’s
for the mid-day beer special and boneless hot wings
because, fuck this week, bro, he tells chris
before finding a john mayer double live cd
no, fucking triple live album
holding it up into the fluorescent lights of the store
like he’s found the holy grail.

John Grochalski 3
John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), and Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where the garbage can smell like roses if you wish on it hard enough.

Yeah, I dated all the ghosts from “A Christmas Carol” by Melanie Browne

You can probably guess which one chain-smoked
and yeah, he did imbibe that human kindness “milk,”
don’t let him fool you either, that shit was cheaper
than Boone’s Farm or Malt liquor. Top Shelf it ain’t.
More than once I had to take off his ghostly boots
and tuck his ghostly ass in bed, but damn girl,
he was a jolly giant in bed too, and we would still be
hangin in the present were it not for his psycho bitch ex.
he gave me the scoop on Tiny Tim,
how Scrooge had paid for Tim to see some Chiropractor
and he got a neck injury and ended up on the opioids
The ghost of Christmas past would fit in good
with the millennials, He embraced his feminine side.
but more in a frat- boy gender- bending way
I draw the line at much more than that.
he was cool, kind of a spiritual dude,
a bit of a hippie,
okay to be perfectly honest he was a nudist,
and also a part of a drum circle,
the visions he showed me never had sleigh rides
because duh, I’m from Texas
and fortunately didn’t have to spend Christmas
at a boarding School, although one time my mom had the flu
and my dad took us all the see King Kong at the drive inn theatre
but I really had trouble getting over
Christmas yet -to- come,
therapy visits, self help books, the whole enchilada.
he didn’t wear black, in fact he loved the color orange,
it’s just that when you were with him,
he absorbed all other colors,
that kind of bummed him out,
he loved Easy-E The rapper,
and he played drums
he was a pothead just like the ghost
of Christmas past.
to be honest
I’m not sure if dating these dudes changed me
for the better but every time Christmas
rolls around I get a bit nostalgic
and have strange melancholy visions
of stocking caps, the smell of
coal  and a longing
for some strong Christmas punch

Melanie Browne
Melanie Browne is a poet and fiction writer living in Texas with her husband and three kids.

For Ann, 1953-1970 by Mitchel Montagna

There’s darkness ahead, with reels of grief.
But on Christmas Eve nobody could know.
They gathered in church to voice their belief
in tones as serene as the falling snow.

Ann’s brother served me the ping pong ball
as she drove off wearing her silver gown.
Soon a carload of fools, drunks one and all
sped recklessly into the college town.

David’s parents were worried but I didn’t care.
After the holiday we walked into class.
All eyes focused on him in his chair
like an oddball caught in a looking glass.

The photo of Ann on the Tribune’s front page
showed a bashful smile and long-lashed eyes.
And an innocence that would never age
nor understand a world that could brutalize.

Now we are old men, David and me
having long ago gone our separate ways.
Is he dogged by ghosts of his family?
Does he hear their prayers on winter days?

Mitchel Montagna
Mitchel Montagna is a corporate communications writer for a large professional services firm. He has also been a special education teacher and radio news reporter. Publications include White Liquor Journal, Naturewriting, The Penwood Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Amarillo Bay. He is married and lives in New Jersey.

He Was A Gunslinger by Grant Guy

He was a gunslinger with no last name
Most of the men who died at the end of his barrel
Did not even know his last name
The reasons is because 
No men died at the end of his barrel

The thing that burnt him most

Hollywood never came calling
Every day he checked his emails
In the lobby of Motel 6

The woes of being a modern-day cowboy

Grant Guy is a Winnipeg, Canada, poet, writer and playwright. Former artistic director of Adhere + Deny. His writings have been published in Canada, the United States and England. He has three books published; Open Fragments, On the Bright Side of Down and Bus Stop Bus Stop. He was the 2004 recipient of the Manitoba Arts Council’s 2004 Award of Distinction and the 2017 recipient of the Winnipeg Arts Council’s Making A Difference Award.