Carson Pytell: “Frequencies”




I’m down now to Doppler affairs:
A frequency flicks my ear,
Approaches, grows, arrives,
Raises to rattling relations,
Departs, diminishes, disappears
Like it was never even there,
And leaves me listening again.

These decibels have yet to deafen,
Sheaths are cheap, the clinic’s free
And the bony finger of psychiatry
Scares the living shit from me.



About the Author: Carson Pytell is a poet living in a very small town outside Albany, NY. His work has appeared in numerous venues online and is currently available or forthcoming in print from such publications as Vita Brevis Press, The Virginia Normal, NoD Magazine, Blue Moon Lit & Art Review, Spank the Carp, Crack the Spine, Futures Trading, Down in the Dirt Magazine, Gideon Poetry Review and Children, Churches & Daddies, among others.


Image Credit: Robert Hicks “View to the north of the Two Communications Antenna – Over-the-Horizon Backscatter Radar Network, Christmas Valley Radar Site Transmit Sector Four Communications Antennas, On unnamed road west of Lost Forest Road, Christmas Valley, Lake County, OR” (2005) The Library of Congress.

Hilary Otto: “Underworld”




We press against the oozing dirt, thrive
on the tang of damp matter. By the time
you become aware of us easing up
from the earth like time-lapse capsules
disturbed, we will have popped out, soiled
as if surprised during private acts, to buff
our bald caps and moisten our pale skin.

Beneath, where you cannot see us work
our spores transform into moons of milk.
Our mycelium threads extend, bind together
and we emerge, fringed with gills to perpetuate
our presence inside those crevices we find
fertile. We look too ordinary to pose a threat.
We are experts at waiting in silence.



About the Author: Hilary Otto is an English poet, teacher and translator based in Barcelona. She reads regularly in Barcelona in both English and Spanish, most recently as part of the Berlin International Poetry Festival. Her work has been published in Popshot Quarterly, Black Bough Poetry and Fixpoetry, as well as in anthologies.


Image Credit: Nouvel atlas de poche des champignons comestibles et vénéneux. v.1.
Paris,Léon Lhome,1911-1912.

Matthew Borczon: “The Question Is”



The question is

In Afghanistan
we saw almost
three thousand
patients with
a 97 percent
survival rate

in two
months in
New York City
we saw
another 12
hundred covid
patients helping
nearly all
get from
the hospital
back to
their homes

so how
come I
only ever
see the
faces of
the dead
only hear
crying children
and the
last gasp
for air

when anyone
thanks me
for my


About the Author: Matthew Borczon is a nurse and Navy sailor from Erie pa. He has written 14 books of poetry; the most recent, Prison Nurse poems, is available from Analog Submissions press. He recently returned from being deployed to New York City where he was working in an ICU to take care of Covid positive patients. When he is not working for the Navy he is a nurse to adults with developmental disabilities.


More by Matthew Borczon

In 2010


Image Credit: “Second floor hallway running NW-SE in SW wing of building. Clinical Director’s office on right. – Fort Lewis, Post Hospital, Near Ninth Division Drive & Idaho Avenue, DuPont, Pierce County, WA.” The Library of Congress

Jason Baldinger: “cape henlopen blues”



cape henlopen blues

among the coastal pine
the herons, the fescues
I look up on a sky
that hangs heavy
with words unsaid

horizon catches fire
standing on a sandbar
washed in red and lighthouse
tide roars the other side of the cape
I say a prayer for a friend
and his wife, I say prayers
then throw them in the ocean

north star hangs above
thumbnail moon
miles davis “shhh peaceful”
fills the car, my niece
asked my resolution
I told her I didn’t believe that
I told her time is not linear
that the narratives
the timelines we follow
don’t kowtow to calendars
it’s something understood
better as you get older

no fireworks tonight
warm december
I escape light pollution
to hail orion’s stars
a joint on my lips
gulls fight the noise
of an approximately
infinite ocean. alone
on the dunes
time has passed





About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was recently a Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community, and is founder and co-director of The Bridge Series. He has multiple books available including the soon to be released The Better Angels of our Nature (Kung Fu Treachery) and the split books The Ugly Side of the Lake with John Dorsey (Night Ballet Press) as well as Little Fires Hiding with James Benger (Kung Fu Treachery Press). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.


More by Jason Baldinger:

“I forgot the earth and heaven”

“When Cancer Come to Evansville, Indiana”

“blind into leaving”


Image Credit: “Cape Henlopen” (1891) The Library of Congress

Ryan Quinn Flanagan: “Chewy Circle”



Chewy Circle

We watch this show 
where dogs compete in a series of things 
to see who is America’s Top Dog.

First, through a timed obstacle track
where the slowest timed dog and handler team
are eliminated.

Then through a scent challenge 
where they have to sniff out drugs or explosives.
The two slowest times are eliminated.

Lastly, the two remaining teams compete
through another obstacle course 
to see who can do it in the fastest time.

The winner gets to go into the Chewy Circle.
Have bragging rights and $5000 dollars donated 
to the charity of their choice.

The winner tonight wore these blue pair of doggles 
over his eyes.
Even though he was afraid to go in the water.
It was a straight fashion thing with this one,
you could tell.

His doggles made him feel sexy.
Beating out all the other police dogs
and one civilian trained entry.

So he could bark proudly from the Chewy Circle
in his bright blue doggles.

As Curt Menefee wondered how the hell he 
ever got roped into doing this gig.

And the studio audience 
cheered on.


About the Author: Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many mounds of snow.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, As It Ought To Be Magazine The New York Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.


More by Ryan Quinn Flanagan:

Robbie the Owl

Artisanal Birds

Listening to Blue Monday on a Friday


Image Credit: Henry Pointer: “Touch this if you dare [little dog guarding a cup]” (1870) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.


Cody Sexton: “Heathen”




By Cody Sexton


Here’s my problem. I want to believe in God and religion. I do. I want the certainty that comes along with it. I also want the comfort in knowing that when I die, I could be reunited with the ones I love. But I can’t. I’ve tried. I have prayed to God for years to help make me believe. But all I’ve ever received back is silence. Which can mean only one of two things, so far as I can tell. That I am either damned and have been from birth, or, and more likely, that God doesn’t exist.

I tried to be a religious person. The impulse lasted approximately one year before it one day vanished. I went to sleep one night and when I awoke the next morning the capacity to believe was gone. It simply wasn’t there anymore.

The way I look at it is that I didn’t have the talent to believe. I’ve always had a hard time getting past the obvious fiction of the whole thing. Having grown up in relative poverty, religion held complete irrelevance to my life. I had no time for it and the religious leaders had nothing to say about it either and if they did it was only to say that suffering, on the whole, was a good thing. Which only infuriated me. Which is probably one of the reasons I was so angry as a young man. To a large extent I still am. As a result I lost all respect for any type of authority. Which has both served me as well as handicapped me in life.

Religion proved to me that authority was impotent when faced with real problems. So my eventual atheism had as much to do with human reason, as it did with a rejection of authority itself. But, digging deeper, I realize now, that my eventual atheism, had just as much to do with a rejection of family itself. Continue reading

Timothy Tarkelly: “Hastings: A Remembrance”



Hastings: A Remembrance

Ashley Judd graces the cover
of another thriller.
A two-hour testament
to the lengths men will go to for attention.
Two-day rental, just a few dollars.

It’s the act of course,
of perusing, compromise,
and finally the selection.

And the beauty in that green stamp
at the base of the books’ spines:
Gently, but a real past,
a whole life of shelves and suitcases,
the pocket on the back of an airliner seat.
But I am not a jealous lover.
I will caress the creases
as if I made them myself.

A whole section devoted to dice,
twenty-sided windows into the future,
an eternity of game nights
and the compendium of canonical monsters
to guide us.
Plastic-wrapped, Fifth Edition, 
the best chapter of our lives.

And this was Friday evenings,
or the awkward hour between dinner’s end
and the movie’s beginning. The after-work walks
when you just can’t bear to go home yet.

The holy payday pilgrimages
of new books and novelty drinking horns,
of Pacific Rim posters for Christmas
and the perfect Frodo action figure
to live forever at your desk,
watching you write,
watching you live and record 
your most predictable adventures.

And now, Fridays have worn to antsy dust,
and a faded sign hangs from an empty husk
over a wasted parking lot. 

Except for every October
and its pop-up Halloween store. 


About the Author: Timothy Tarkelly’s work has appeared in From the Depths, Philosophical IdiotBack Patio PressRusty TruckCauldron Anthology, and other magazines, online journals, etc. He has had two books of poetry published by Spartan Press: Luckhound (2020) and Gently in Manner, Strongly in Deed: Poems on Eisenhower (2019). He also runs Roaring Junior Press, a chapbook publisher that specializes in small runs of sci-fi/fantasy, horror, and pop-culture infused poetry. When he’s not writing and publishing, he teaches in Southeast Kansas.


Image Credit: A digital rendering of a public domain photo by Chase Dimock

Anna Saunders: “Thirteenth week of Lockdown- woke wondering if I were a ghost”



Thirteenth week of Lockdown- woke wondering if I were a ghost.

I am too diffuse, fill the air like smoke
glide around empty rooms, feeling immaterial .

You would think it would be easier existing as ghost, 
airborn, iridescent as summer rain, 
but I am weightless only in mass -my psyche is ballast. 

To be a ghost means to live with the self undiluted.
Imagine who you are, but magnified.

I am too much at times, 
the condensed quick of myself,  
like a perfume oil or a 100 percent rum.  

Nothing touches me, and no-one.
And if they did, I am so tissue skinned 
their fingers would go right through me. 

At best I am inspiration, contain light,
but adrift and nebulous, like mist
all abstract antipathy and desire, 

and  invisible 
(who sees the ghost but the haunted?) 

I pull desperately at my own arm with this poem 
and claim 
I am here, I am here.


About the Author: Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash, and The Museum of Light. Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.


More by Anna Saunders:

The Delusion of Glass

In The Drowned Woods


Image Credit: Julia Margaret Cameron “Julia Jackson” (1867) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Ajah Henry Ekene “Of Aging”




Of Aging

Ma, your adult son is home. Things are not the way they look.
I have put a foot backwards. Many feet backwards. 
I have fried my dreams. My eyes are teary from smoke.
Ma, I cough. Bouts of sneezes. My internal rooms are hazy.
The dreams were large, too many. And when they burnt
They made enormous fire.
Growing up has been walking on hot oil. Each step tells me to hurry.
But hurry didn’t do ma. The sole peeled and peeled. 
Then I saw new skin and smiled.
Then it blistered ma!
My memory is turning. It cannot remember. 
Or it remembers too much; too much uncertainty. 
So, I do not know what I want to tell you:
Whether a confession of weakness; an acknowledgement of sorrow;
An admission of failure; or the subtle regret of not being enough. 
As I return to you, like we all do to dust, I know you will recognize me.
The familiarity of origin will absorb me home.
And should I have a choice in these things;
I will return to you once after this journey and refuse to be born again.



About the Author: Ajah Henry Ekene lives and writes from Nigeria. Some of his works are on Brittle Paper, New Contrast, AfricanWriters and The Kalahari Review.
He won 2nd place in NSPP (2017) and partly enjoys practising Medicine.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Tahquitz Canyon” (2019)



John Grey: “I Read It Here First”




This copy of “Moby Dick” is repulsive.
I left it by the humidifier 
and now the pages are like sponge.
I bought that stupid machine 

because of this fixation I had
that my skin was drying out.
I never went anywhere.
I didn’t do anything

but sit in the parlor
in all that wretched humidity 
while one-legged Ahab 
went after that insufferable white whale. 

I’d ended up feeling like a stinking orchid.
But you see, I had to do something.
I couldn’t just let myself 
crumple up like old parchment.

But now the pages of the novel 
are stuck together.
I overreacted as I always do. 
In my own way, I was Ahab.

But now, thankfully, I’m Ishmael,
the guy who survives to tell the tale. 
I ditched the humidifier.
My skin is just fine.

Now I’ve taken up with yogurt
because of some concern 
about not getting enough B12.
Besides, I haven’t read “The Andromeda Strain”
        in years.


About the Author: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty with work upcoming
in Blueline, Willard and Maple and Clade Song.


More By John Grey:



Move On


Image Credit: “Stack of Old Books” Chase Dimock