Larry Smith: “The Story of Rugs”



The Story of Rugs

They cover holes in the earth
we walk upon when all else
has let us down.  
Woven by elders from the 
hair of sheep fresh shorn
their faces kiss our feet.
For days at a time 
the old sit in silence
peddling and bobbing
to continue our line.

And so, their deaths
move us closer to the time
when no rugs are spread before us,
and their faces are worn through,
when empty spaces
fill our hearts.



About the Author: Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer, and editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio where they feature a Working Lives and an Appalachian Writing Series. He is also the biographer of Kenneth Patchen and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He lives in Huron, Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie.


More By Larry Smith:

Forget Math and Science


No Walls


Image Credit: “Two women making rugs on porch” The Library of Congress

Martina Reisz Newberry: “Venerating the Transitory”




Further up on the trail is
the smell of toasted tree trunks
and a damp cold. It’s lovely.

The spontaneous nature
of fire in this area last year
was its inborn reckoning,

then, a little later, loss and
pain—their tie, a “given” by
all that breathes. Tell this: which of

our multiple mouths is the
most intimate? Is this some
thing we have to decide? I

have found there are too many
endorsements for most questions.
Further up this trail, there are

still some patches of clean snow
holding on to that singed smell.
My body recalls the smells,

the tastes, forgets the events.
Wind licks at the aspens, some
kind of birds form a cloud and

pass over. It is clear they
have a fixed destination.
Along this path are vagrant

insects and animals. The
silence is so pronounced that
I hear rocks speaking many

languages. Everything bathed
in shades of pekoe, pink,
singe, an absurd excess.


About the Author: Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, Blues for French Roast with Chicory is due for publication from Deerbrook Editions in late fall, 2019. Her latest book is: Never Completely Awake (Available from Deerbrook Editions). Her work has been widely published in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Brian Newberry, a Media Creative.


Image Credit: “Oregon National Forest. Effect of fire” The Library of Congress

Cord Moreski: “Someday”



Someday, I hope this poem finds you—
clocking out of a dead-end job,
or during a television commercial
when you’re slouched on the sofa,
between sips of burnt coffee
at the diner when you’re feeling lonely,
or after gazing at the stars outside
your bedroom window because something
keeps you from falling asleep at night—
to let you know that it’d be nice
for you to finish that manuscript
kept hostage in your desk drawer
after all these years, to paint that canvas
cooped up in your attic collecting time,
to take that road trip you swore
would save your life, to find that smile
that used to appear naturally
before it had to be forced.
Wherever you are. Whatever it was.
Someday, I hope this poem finds you.


About the Author: Cord Moreski is a writer from New Jersey. His work has been previously featured in Silver Birch Press, The Pangolin Review, Philosophical Idiot, The Rye Whiskey Review, In Between Hangovers, and several other publications. He is the author of the chapbook Shaking Hands with Time (Indigent Press, 2018) and is currently working on a new project for 2020. You can follow Cord here:


More By Cord Moreski:



Image Credit:

Digital Photo by Chase Dimock

Bunkong Tuon: A Review of True Confessions: 1965 to Now By John Guzlowski



True Confessions: 1965 to Now
John Guzlowski

Paperback: 151 pages
Publisher: Darkhouse (March 13, 2019)
ISBN-13: 978-1945467172

John Guzlowski’s True Confessions: 1965 to Now is an autobiography in verse. Ranging from lyric to narrative, sonnet to free verse, elegiac to humorous, the poems have a central “I” that takes the reader into six decades of the poet’s life. They explore topics such as drugs, booze, and rock n’ roll, love (from the young and reckless to the more mature kind), teaching, parenting, Americana, the arts of poetry, and, ultimately, death. His mother and father who survived German work camps during WWII also make their appearance here as an elderly couple re-living the horrors of the Nazis in the blazing heat of Arizona.

Guzlowski writes with such honesty, humor, wit, sadness, and hope. Above all, he writes with clarity, truth, and humility. Take, for example, the poem “Grieving.”  

Robert Frost’s poem “Home Burial” moves me,
but some of my students are freaked
by the thought of the baby’s coffin in the parlor,
the mom in the poem who mourns too long.

“Get over it,” they say. 

Get over it?

On his death bed, my dad was still grieving
for his mom who died when he was five,
and I’m still grieving for him ten years
after his death. Grieving doesn’t stop
like a TV drama you can turn off.

Forgive me for telling and now showing
but this pain I feel for my dad and the pain
he felt for his mom are what connects us all,
as sure as the turning of the earth.

No apology is necessary here. His poem simply works in spite of the fact that (or maybe because) Guzlowski admits breaking the “show-don’t-tell” commandment for writing. The poem’s honesty, emotion, and heartfelt conviction in truth propel it forward and bring readers to an understanding of grief that connects us in our humanity.

Like his forebears (which include Whitman, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Frost, with some Dickinson, Eliot, Bellow and Faulkner thrown in), Guzlowski’s voice is that of the common man, one that invites readers into his world and entrusts us with his heart and soul. That’s the power and beauty of Guzlowski’s poetry: stripped of linguistic experimentation and the artifacts of academic theory, his poetry brings us to real and genuine human connections: love, hurt, anger, loss, joy, silliness, absurdity, hope, acceptance, and more. 

If you haven’t read Guzlowski, buy this book; you will be in for one wild joyride. John’s energy is vast, imaginative, and liberating. Afterward, buy his other books, especially those about his parents, particularly Echoes of Tattered Tongues and Lightning and Ashes. Those books are raw, unflinching, and so very full of love (the love of a child for his refugee parents).


About The Author: Bunkong Tuon is a Cambodian-American writer, critic, and teacher. He is the author of three poetry collections: Gruel (NYQ Books, 2015), And So I Was Blessed (NYQ Books, 2017), and The Doctor Will Fix It (Shabda Press, 2019)His poetry recently won the 2019 Nasiona Nonfiction Poetry Prize. He teaches at Union College in Schenectady, NY.

Kevin Ridgeway: “Good Timing”



Good Timing

It’s too late
for inappropriate
cannabis fueled laughter
in dive bars
eyes glued to the brights,
reds, blues, greens and oranges
of Gilligan’s Island
on the flat screen
It’s too late
to argue the artistic merit
of Gilligan’s Island

It’s too late
to drink Listerine
and play shoot-em-up video games
in an unbroken trance
It’s too late
to listen to angry teenage music
and mosh against stuffed animals
in a lonesome haze

It’s too late
to borrow money from mom and pop
and blow it all on a
Collector’s Edition Star Trek play set
It’s too late to huff nitrous oxide
and encourage
a budding figurine romance
between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock

It’s too late
to officiate feline-canine
civil unions
fueled by
White Lightning and No-Doze
It’s too late
for waking up in a galaxy
of uneaten French fries,
an obscene underground movie
playing an endless loop
while you’ve been in slumber

But it’s too early
for many other things:
spastic colon, arthritis,
dementia, gingivitis
and incontinence.

The present mid-morning
misgivings about the
past and future
and discovery of
T.S. Eliot are all
right on time. 

(originally appeared in Side B Magazine, 2011)


About the Author: Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Cultural Weekly, Gasconade Review, The American Journal of Poetry and So it Goes:  The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, among others.  A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, he lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.


More By Kevin Ridgeway:

Fake Dad

500 Channels and Nothing On

Sally with the Accent


Image Credit: Adrien Alban Tournachon “Dog Smoking a Pipe” (1860) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Kory Wells: “The Assistant Marshal Makes an Error in Judgment”



The Assistant Marshal Makes an Error in Judgment
—From the Ninth United States Census, June 18, 1870, Macon County, North Carolina

Even though he has read and reread
best he can the instructions
sent direct from Washington;

even though he employs
a sturdy portable inkstand,
quality ink he blots dry
with unpracticed diligence
on strictly confidential,
wide white sheets;

even though important scientific
results depend upon his questionable
Rs and too-short Ls, tedious
recording of Name, Age, Occupation,
and Color;

Assistant Marshal J.T. Reeves, who some call
carpetbagger, now sits amiably on the porch
with one Willis Guy, farmer, age 59,
and reads back to Mr. Guy
all he has written, so mistakes may be
corrected on the spot. The marshal is not
from around these parts, and Mr. Guy, 

previously known as
Mulatto, previous to that known as
Free Colored Person, if asked would claim
Catawba, Cherokee, even the dark Porterghee,
but figures it best to keep his silence
at the government man’s ditto of Column 6. Like that,
Mr. Guy and all his kin become
White. Mr. Guy would admit he isn’t
as good at letters as his children,
but squinting sideways at the marshal’s ledger,
he knows the unmistakable difference between W and M.


About the Author: Kory Wells is a poet, writer, storyteller, and advocate for the arts, democracy, afternoon naps, and other good causes. In 2017 she was named the inaugural poet laureate of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where she also founded and manages a reading series. Her poetry collection Sugar Fix is available from Terrapin Books as of September 2019. Read more of her work at


More by Kory Wells: 

Untold Story

When the Watched Pot Boils


Image Credit: “Harrison’s Columbian inks, black, scarlet, red, blue” (1846) The Library of Congress

“Transplant” By Tony Gloeggler



Everyone tells me
I’m a lucky man,
blessed and fortunate
to have four willing donors.
And I know they’re right,
people wither away 
waiting for kidneys 
on endless lists
with no guarantees. 
I’ve talked to doctors, 
did extensive research 
and came away convinced
it’s a highly successful 
procedure. Everyone’s 
encouraging, assuring me
it’s not nearly as bad 
as last year’s open heart 
surgery and my two friends 
with transplants are both 
alive and living normal lives.  
Yes, I am so sick of dialysis 
treatments, three times 
a week for three and a half 
hours a day with its sudden 
blood pressure drops 
and crippling cramps
that leave me hobbling
around like a slow motion
half dazed zombie who only
wants to sleep my life away
that I’d do almost anything.

My youngest brother proved 
a perfect match. We’re looking 
at July when his work slows down
and his wife’s school breaks 
for summer so she can watch 
their kids while he recovers. 
There’s no way to thank him 
and yes, I can hardly wait. 
Except my mind keeps 
filling up with thoughts 
of  something going wrong, 
something bad happening 
to him during the operation, 
and then who will tell me 
what to say to his wife, 
to his kids, Daniel and Lexie.


About Tony Gloeggler: I am a life-long resident of New York City and have managed group homes for the mentally challenged for over 35 years. My work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, Rattle, The Examined Life Journal, Raleigh Review, New Ohio Review, Stirring and The NY Times. My full length books include One Wish Left (Pavement Saw Press 2002) and Until The Last Light Leaves (NYQ Books 2015) which focused on my job and the autistic son of a former girlfriend. My next book, What Kind Of Man, will be published by NYQ Books in 2019.


More By Tony Gloeggler


“Visitor’s Day at the Group Home”

“In the Building”


Image Credit: Henry Gray “The Relation of the Kidneys from Behind” (1918) Public Domain