R.T. Castleberry: “Just to Waste the Morning”




Just to Waste the Morning

Too early for dogs barking,
for the train’s rolling whistle,
the sun is seized by night’s glassy course.
November rattles the sidewalk’s seam,
studio apartment windows above
a winter-shuttered pool.
Mealy apple, day old doughnuts for breakfast,
I’ll spend the day finding
the cheapest copy of a desired book,
a match for a print lost to breakup.

Stepping past grapefruit, dropped
and rotting on the sidewalk,
I wear a Bosque Redondo tourist tee
under a German greatcoat,
a twelve dollar haircut beneath a newsboy cap.
Unsteady on the landing,
optical illusions of cracked stone,
pebbled strip, rusty wrought iron
trip me up.
The clinic doctor’s instructions
rattle my last nerve.
Addresses and keys in hand,
like Son House striding his blues pony,
I’ll slake my sorrows in collection remains.



About the Author: R.T. Castleberry is a widely published poet and critic. His work has appeared in Roanoke Review, Trajectory, Blue Collar Review, White Wall Review, The Alembic and Visitant. Internationally, Castleberry’s work has been published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand and Antarctica. Mr. Castleberry’s work has been featured in the anthologies, Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, The Weight of Addition, Anthem: A Tribute to Leonard Cohen and You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry.


More By R.T. Castleberry:

Down Cold Lanes

July, Roadhouse Dinner


Image Credit: ” VIEW OF SIDEWALK SHOWING IRON TILES – Cast Iron Sidewalk, 1907 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA” The Library of Congress

Susan Cossette: “She Waits Behind the Drapes”




She Waits Behind the Drapes
-after Edvard Munch


Gaslit shadows from St. Cloud Street slip through the windowpane.
Unannounced, pecking at her bruised feet.

The otherness has begun.

Hallowed room bathed in crepuscular light,
Occupied only by shadow and impossible stillness. 

The nurses feed her warm chicken noodle soup,
Record vital signs.

She imagines her daughter lying beside her,
Warm breath, soft cheek.
The child remembers things she can no longer.
Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup,
Christmas mornings, drinking warm cocoa after ice skating.

The child is 1,368 miles away.
In her mind,
She is there—
A responsible mourner in training.

Prepared to face the menace,
Prepared to let the dead enter her,
A living organism of memories.



About the Author: Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up (2017), she is a two-time recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, Vita Brevis, Adelaide, Clockwise Cat, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Ariel Chart, Poetica Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Tuesdays at Curley’s and After the Equinox.


Image Credit: Edvard Munch. “The Girl by the Window,” (1893). The Art Institute of Chicago. Public Domain


Gale Acuff: “Die and you go to Heaven or Hell says”




Die and you go to Heaven or Hell says

our Sunday School teacher so I raise my
hand and ask What if I live forever
and my classmates laugh and I join them but
I’m a hypocrite, I was serious, don’t
tell me that no one out there in the world
hasn’t or maybe even isn’t, some
-one’s as old as the hills of Granny’s chest
or even older, Methuselah-old
but a lot more than that and I wonder
if that could be our teacher, too, she looks
25 but you never know and then
she says Gale, don’t be silly–now please
lead us in the Lord’s Prayer. God damn it.



About the Author: Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Chiron Review, McNeese Review, Adirondack Review, Weber, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Poem, South Dakota Review, and many other journals. He has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).

Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.


More by Gale Acuff:



Image Credit: Ben Shahn “Sunday school, Penderlea Homesteads, North Carolina” (1937) Public Domain photo courtesy of The Library of Congress

Two Poems by Bill Gainer






Doing Dishes 

She left a kiss
on the edge of
a glass.
I’ll wash that one


Eating Ribs

Save the bones
pass them down
the babies first
then the dogs
need something
to gnaw on –
keep the teeth
Learn the taste
of red meat.




About the Author: Bill Gainer is a storyteller, humorist, an award winning poet, and a maker of mysterious things. He earned his BA from St. Mary’s College and his MPA from the University of San Francisco. He is the publisher of the PEN Award winning R. L. Crow Publications and is the ongoing host of Red Alice’s Poetry Emporium (Grass Valley, CA). Gainer is internationally published in such journals and magazines as: The Huffington Post, Sacramento News and Review, The Oregonian, Sacramento Bee, Chiron Review, Tule Review, Cultural Weekly, The Lummox Press, Poems for All, Red Fez, River Dog Zine #1, Rose of Sharon, and numerous others. His latest book is: “The Mysterious Book of Old Man Poems.” Gainer is known across the country for giving legendary, fun filled performances. Visit him in his books, at his personal appearances, or at his website: billgainer.com.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Paint and Wine Glass” (2021)



Sarah Carleton: “That Cloud Looks Like a Typewriter”




That Cloud Looks Like a Typewriter

In mid-century films, the typewriter
was an extroversion machine, clattering day after day
as if to declare, “I’m not some dream-bound poet

lying back, looking up at the sky,
but a vital cog in the gears of capitalism.
Check out my rising paper stack!”

and on-screen scribblers, prolific
even when spinning their wheels, would toss
wadded sheets, filling trash cans and littering

floors with their blockage,
because back then you could fix any jam
by generating mounds of garbage, not like how

I now burrow into my muted keyboard, private
except for the crowing and sighing I scatter
across social-media sites—no prop could advertise

my steady pecking and writerly pluck here
twixt laptop and couch or the ethereal junkpile
of false starts that’s seeding a cloud.



About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, tutors English, plays the banjo, and makes her husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was recently published by Kelsay Books.


Image Credit: Harris & Ewing, photographer “Woman at typewriter” [between 1921 and 1923] The Library of Congress

Ilari Pass: “delayed rays of a star”




delayed rays of a star

starts with a chance meeting—
peek-a-boo says Eve—crooked,

the night brings good counsel
for deception, the stars become

pinholes in the curtain of night,
opening up like a long fall

from the moon, feeling broken when she rises,
she hides behind a terrifying beauty

stares up at the moon, counting her dimples
she sees the beauty of her road curving

through a tranquil copse of Silver birch,
often marked by wild zinnias,

she wants to lie there and play there
and splash there on the purple edge

on the road, however, she
finds a road made straight

of Adam

the moon peers down,
she’s wishes for his hands

not made of light
she is just another, broken woman

standing in the cold
not allowed to play the lead



About the Author: Ilari Pass holds a BA in English from Guilford College of Greensboro, NC, and an MA in English, with a concentration in literature, from Gardner-Webb University of Boiling Springs, NC. Her work appears, or forthcoming in Brown Sugar Literary, Kissing Dynamite, Unlikely Stories, Rigorous Magazine, Triggerfish Critical Review, RedFez, The Daily Drunk, The American Journal of Poetry, Drunk Monkeys, Free State Review, Oyster River Pages, Common Ground Review, and others.


Image Credit: James Abbott McNeil Whistler “Nocturne in Black and Gold” (1875)

Nadia Arioli: “On “A Bird in the Room” by Kay Sage”

(You can view Sage’s painting A Bird in the Room here)

On “A Bird in the Room” by Kay Sage

The year after you died, I refused all fruit.
I could not bear that hybrid of plant and ghost.
By the time a lemon reaches the east coast,
its tree could be in flames.
All that’s left a sour ball,
a seed unwelcome on chicken.

The month you died, I kept the fruit
I found on walks in shadows.
If I can’t have it, no one will.
I stuck them in my rafters,
where darkness transformed them.
Not castration but refuse.

The week you died, I examined pits.
Nectarines, apricots, peaches,
all malformed brains. I had wondered
about mangoes. Under sunset skin,
thick, orange slime. What keeps
their roundness? Can you read braille?

The day you died, there was a bird
in the room. Round and pulsing,
a bird is a kind of fruit. You
can take it apart with your hands.
I think it was looking for a tree
filled with pomegranates or twigs.

I know what the old women say:
If a bird enters your home, a member
of your household will die. I did not know
they meant the spot where all gentleness gathers,
the pit. You have to wonder the causality
and how far back it will go.

The year I refused fruit made me still
inside, the stillness filled our house
with grey. The pits fell out of rotting
bodies. The bird got lost somehow
and invited itself in. I think it killed you,
love, killed you with feathers and legs.

How perverse that you will never go
into the ground, never go to tree.
You’ll fly, little bird, out over the coast.
But I will leave my door open for you
in case you get lost. For you, love,
I’ll fill my home with ash.

About the Author: Nadia Arioli (nee Wolnisty) is the founder and editor in chief of Thimble Literary Magazine. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Spry, SWWIM, Apogee, Penn Review, McNeese Review, Kissing Dynamite, Bateau, Heavy Feather Review, Whale Road Review, SOFTBLOW, and others. They have chapbooks from Cringe-Worthy Poetry Collective, Dancing Girl Press, and a full-length from Spartan.

More by Nadia Arioli:

On “I Walk Without Echo” by Kay Sage

On “The Fourteen Daggers” by Kay Sage

Agnes Vojta: “Nursing Home Visit in Times of Corona”

Nursing Home Visit in Times of Corona

You must make an appointment by phone.
You must call between ten and three on a weekday.
You may only visit once a week.
You must visit between 1 and 5 pm.
You may not stay longer than one hour.
You must check in fifteen minutes before.

You must fill out a form.
You must wear a face mask.
You must keep a distance.
You must disinfect your hands.
You must walk to the building along the shortest way
you have been directed to use.

You must check in with the nurse.
You must wait if the nurse is busy.
You may not speak with a doctor.
You must make an appointment to call the doctor
by phone if you have questions.

You must check out with the nurse.
You receive a check mark by your name.
You get a green mark if you kept the time limit.
You get a red mark if you overstayed.
If you have a red mark,
you may be denied
further visits.

About the Author: Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land (Spartan Press, 2019) and The Eden of Perhaps (Spartan Press, 2020), and her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines.

More By Agnes Vojta:


Sisyphus Calls It Quits


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Victoria Leaves” (2019)

Jason Baldinger: “let go of atlantis”



let go of atlantis

jerry believes in ivory soap
he believes in starched collars
his spine is straight
he says all the flying plagues
of florida are near sited
don’t give them room to smell

I missed the manatees
out in some cove near
the launch pad that’s etched
in our consciousness
I see it in the rearview
and I want to write about
shoveling snow as a boy
about dreams exploding
about hot cocoa
and christa mcauliffe

jerry says for fifteen bones
they’ll give me a sea kayak
I can paddle over the surf
to a barrier island all my own

out there cooking hamburger
helper over a pocket rocket
Ill turn back/ahead time
ill forget my couth
and go native

going native is a racist term
meant to minimize
the people who were killed
so this land could be our land
a universe of violence

it seems that every inch
of this land is steeped
in blood, I wonder
if a barrier island
off the coast of the atlantic
may be one of the few places
I can step where that blood
doesn’t well up a hot spring
of unacknowledged history

I’m gonna stay out
an island a mile away from
civilization, the sun paints
the sky every twelve hours
every day the ocean
steps a little higher
when it reaches my neck
Ill know its time
to let go of atlantis



About the Author: Jason Baldinger is bored with bios. He’s from Pittsburgh and misses roaming around the country writing poems. His newest book is A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press) with The Afterlife is A Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) coming soon. His work has been published widely across print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lp’s by the bands The Gotobeds and Theremonster.


More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Sunrise on a Florida beach ” (2014) The Library of Congress


Ivan Jenson: “Last Call”



Last Call

why didn’t you
say this
when we were
both beautiful
I mean look at us now
our shoes are shinier
than our complexions
and when was the last time
we were complimented
by our own reflections
at this stage we would rather
sleep too damn much
than search the city at night
for a stranger selling
the soft drug called touch
anyway you say
you still know your way
around a midnight mattress
and this time
I won’t mix and match
my feelings
or misplace your
rusty red kiss



About the Author: Ivan Jenson is a fine artist, novelist and popular contemporary poet who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His artwork was featured in Art in America, Art News, and Interview Magazine and has sold at auction at Christie’s. Ivan was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to make a painting titled Absolut Jenson for the brand’s national ad campaign. His Absolut paintings are in the collection of the Spiritmusuem, the museum of spirits in Stockholm, Sweden.

Jenson’s painting of the “Marlboro Man” was collected by the Philip Morris corporation. Ivan was commissioned to paint the final portrait of the late Malcolm Forbes.  Ivan has written two novels, Dead Artist and Seeing Soriah, both of which illustrate the creative and often dramatic lives of artists. Jenson’s poetry is widely published (with over 600 poems published in the US, UK and Europe) in a variety of literary media. A book of Ivan Jenson’s poetry was recently published by Hen House Press titled Media Child and Other Poems, which can be acquired on Amazon. Two novels by Ivan Jenson entitled, Marketing Mia and Erotic Rights have been published hardcover.

Ivan Jenson’s new psychological thriller novel The Murderess is now available on Amazon for preorder and will be published June, 1, 2021 by Dark Edge Press, UK. Ivan Jenson’s website is: www.IvanJenson.com
Image Credit: Russell Lee “Truck full of mattresses in front of mattress factory. San Angelo, Texas ” (1939) The Library of Congress