Sue Blaustein: A Horse Named “Can-Ball-the-Flowers”



A Horse Named “Can-Ball-the-Flowers”

…we can tentatively define information as the communication of relationships
– Hans Christian Von Baeyer in “INFO, Information, the New Language of Science”

When I was five or six,
I was crazy for horses
            and words.
My mother told me
about Thoroughbreds
and the meaning of pedigree –
why owners gave them

long and pompous names. She’d
open the New York Times to find
the line-up at Belmont, read
us the silliest ones out loud
            and we’d laugh.
Something only we shared… As
years passed, I’d remember, or

mis-remember a name.
Was there a horse
named “Can-Ball-the-Flowers”?
I let it drop, but then the Internet was invented.
Forty-three when I got connected, my first
burning question for the web:
Was there ever a horse named

“Can Ball the Flowers”?
DOS search engines in the 90’s
didn’t think for you like Google.
Courier type on a black
background…I strategized
keywords: I was five or six.
So, 1961, ‘62. Races in New York – 

would be Aqueduct or Belmont.
I had to tweak my terms
repeatedly, but finally I learned –
there was a chestnut
stallion named “Candy Spots”,
and a fast mare whose name
was “Bowl of Flowers”!



About the Author: Sue Blaustein is the author of “In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector”. Her publication credits and bio can be found at Sue retired from the Milwaukee Health Department in 2016, and is an active volunteer. She blogs for ExFabula (“Connecting Milwaukee Through Real Stories”), serves as an interviewer/writer for the “My Life My Story” program at the Zablocki VA Medical Center, and chases insects at the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center.


More by Sue Blaustein:

A Song for Harvest Spiders

A Song for Noise

The Old Ways


Image Credit: Russell Lee “Finish line of farm boys’ horse race. Vale Oregon. This was supposed to be a boys race but the girls wanted to be in it too so they were included ” (1941) The Library of Congress

Howie Good: “Reason to Believe”




Reason to Believe

By late March, tens of thousands were about to die from the virus. I was sad, so sad. Then the sun would come up and the buds open a little more each day. You could hear the music – the Mister Softee truck was out. You just had to watch for it.


As I go around town, I see people wearing face masks all wrong, under their noses or even their chins. I don’t want to get into it with them. I just want to get away. Given a choice, I’d live somewhere civilized and safe, somewhere like Switzerland, but without all the cows and glaciers.


It’s important to pay attention to possible omens. Like the tall weed growing across the street, whose milky white sap is said to relieve pain. Do you have 30 seconds? I swear sometimes it glows.




About the Author: Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.



More by Howie Good:

People Get Ready

Maiden Voyage



Image Credit: John Ferrell “Washington, D.C. Good Humor ice cream truck” (1942) The Library of Congress

A Review of Larry Smith’s Mingo Town & Memories by Mike James



A Review of Larry Smith’s

Mingo Town & Memories

By Mike James


Larry Smith knows what a penny tastes like. I kept thinking that while reading his fine new collection of poems, not because he says that but because his poems are so concerned with the absence of money.

Neither Eugene Debs nor Sherwood Anderson are mentioned in any poem, but any reader might notice them at the book’s periphery. Like Debs, Smith is concerned with the underclass and with how class can go a long way towards shaping destiny. And, like Debs, he has an almost mystical faith in the goodness of collective humanity.  Like Anderson, Smith is focused on day-to-day, small town, Ohio life. Also, just like Anderson, Smith is concerned with language spoken in diners and factories. There’s nothing ornamental in these poems. They are as sturdy and as practical as Amish furniture. His characters don’t always do right, but they seem to always recognize when they’ve done wrong.

Smith is an Ohio writer who has been publishing widely since the 1970’s. His books include poetry, novels, translations, biography, and non-fiction.  For his many readers, this new collection will arrive like an old friend. The things he’s always done well he continues to shine with.

Here’s a sample to illustrate what Smith is really good at, from his poem, “Wages.”


When I break a plate, Mom cries,
“Oh shit. Look what you’ve done.”
You can hear the sound of wind.
Then Mom hands Dad a fist full of bills,
and we kids go off to our rooms.
Tomorrow will mean our old clothes again
and the counting of our coins. 


Now poetry is about structuring language as much as it is about anything. Look at what Smith does with the endings of those lines. Only one word (again) is more than one syllable. Smith not only sticks to the vernacular here, but he also uses monosyllables to emphasize harshness and what it’s like to just get by. At the same time he allows the lines to play upon one another with off rhymes of wind/again and rooms/coins. This is an artful way to not draw attention away from the scene. Smith does a fine job of saying just enough in his poems.

These poems are often about the moments of just enough. Smith’s characters do a lot of waiting. Factory workers wait around to see if they will stay employed. Boys wait along the river. Old couples wait to talk. They are ordinary people killing time. Now and then a couple of his characters get together and are like, “two boats mooring along the shore.”


Mingo Town & Memories by Larry Smith
Bird Dog Publishing, 2020
Poetry, $15



About the Authors:

Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Gargoyle, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His fifteen poetry collections include: Journeyman’s Suitcase (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review and currently serves as an associate editor of Unbroken.

Larry Smith is the editor-publisher of Bottom Dog Press in Ohio, also the author of 6 books of fiction and 8 books of poems, most recently The Pears: Poems. A retired professor of humanities, he lives and works along the shores of Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio.


More Reviews by Mike James:

Mike James reviews “Dead Letter Office: Selected Poems” By Marko Pogacar

Mike James reviews Beautiful Aliens: A Steve Abbott Reader and Have You Seen This Man? The Castro Poems of Karl Tierney

Omobolanle Alashe: “Cherish”




Cherish the moments of comfortable silence,
Late afternoons and early mornings
Of cracked records and broken voices singing along,
Serenity and thoughts make good company.

Cherish the noisy world,
Swallowed whole by a windy evening
Chaotic melodies and broken hearts singing along,
Tumult never felt so good.



About the Author: Omobolanle Alashe is an avid reader, writer and language enthusiast. She is an undergraduate law student, juggling life as a published poet, aspiring polyglot and budding African writer. Her free time is spent in another world created in her ever moving mind, gearing up to share it one day with the world. Her work has been seen in Clumsy Spider Publishing, Tell! Africa Publishing, among others. She is currently working on an anthology which she hopes to publish soon.


Image Credit: Claude Monet “San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk” (1908) Public Domain

Aster Perkins: “ramps”





About the Author: Aster Perkins (they/them) is a third gender writer, pianist, and neuroscience graduate student located in New York City, and have been previously published in The Apothecary, the Mount Sinai creative arts magazine. They can be found on Twitter @endwellian and their other work can be found at
Image Credit: From Home Vegetable Gardening from A to Z Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & company, (1918) Public Domain. Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Loisa Fenichell: “I know now I did not fabricate the sky”




I know now I did not fabricate the sky 

Or how sunset grows in resemblance to a child’s
arm. In one home, a boy learns to walk like his grandfather.
Outside, the Elephant Tree strengthens itself out over
the desert: all people are not lost: water spreads little here;
when it does, citizens remember to celebrate. I walk
with fingers peeled apart, to gaze with care at the goodness
of the wren alighted atop the Saguaro. I imagine it to be
protecting its eggs, like how I know I must protect my
own infant, though she is still only a fragment
of my imaginings: how well daughters protect daughters,
the lines of heritage a woven sea; flocks of sandhill cranes
moving to Nebraska. In my own home, I still drink tea —
honey-less, unlike my mother. I have learned that the best
form of prayer is to wait as the tea steeps, gentle, with
the knowledge that the liquid stays liquid. Later I sleep,
clothed in darkness, recalling my obsession with myth,
the looks I once gave to the mirror, when I felt my stomach
had not obeyed my own narrative. Yet I am here, trusting
in all I cannot see, cannot fathom, to blow out the dustings
I for so long allowed to rest atop my bureau: photographs
of ancestors who believed in a God, & saw that even when
all seemed to wane, great fields still existed with care.



About the Author: Loisa Fenichell holds a BA from SUNY Purchase College, where she studied Creative Writing and Literature. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in various publications, such as The Winter Tangerine Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, No Contact Mag, and The Nervous Breakdown. Her debut collection, ‘all these urban fields,’ was published by nothing to say press. She is currently an MFA candidate at Saint Mary’s College of California.


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Saguaro Cactus near Tucson, Arizona” (2008) The Library of Congress

Mickey J. Corrigan: “Welcome to Paradise”



Welcome to Paradise

Tired of treading
deep water,
your stretched thin life?
Move south,
then keep going.

Welcome to hell.

Weather report:
brutally sunny
and every day.

There are so many ways
to get lost
in this town.

Here we speak the language
of shore birds,
the word for yesterday
the same
as tomorrow.

Enter the brightness:
it is not
as you expected.
Now your new life

Listen to the
scrtich scratch scritch
of the fresh dirt
on the closed lid
of your casket.

Note that you shine
in the moonlight
less and less
than you will ever

No worries:
everyone you know
is here.



About the Author: Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Poetry has appeared in Fourth & Sycamore, Flatbush Review, Penny Ante Feud, ink sweat and tears, r.kv.r.y quarterly literary journal, New Verse News, Dissident Voice, Synchronized Chaos, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The Rye Whiskey Review, and elsewhere. Chapbooks include Final Arrangements (Prolific Press, 2019) and the disappearing self (Kelsay Books, 2020). Newest novels: Project XX, satire about a school shooting (Salt Publishing UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books UK, 2019).


Image Credit: George Barker “Live Oaks and Palmetto, Everglades, Florida” (1886) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.



Peggy Turnbull: “Night Ferry”



Night Ferry 

We left his father on the other side
in a mahogany casket, his back at last
unbent, his face free of pain.
After ninety-seven years:

We huddle in the ferry’s bow.
Its steel walls, for now, protect us
from a raw, wet wind.

As it intensifies, we grope
towards warmth and light,
find them on the upper deck.
My husband drags four chairs
into a row and falls asleep,
as spent as a child.

I cover him with my pink raincoat,
keep silent watch while we cross
above the murky remains
of shipwrecks and other losses,
the engine’s shuddering pulse
our consolation.



About the Author: Peggy Turnbull is an academic librarian turned poet who makes her home in the Great Lakes ecoregion of the U.S./Canada. Kelsay Press recently published her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness. She has poems in recent issues of Poppy Road Review, Bluepepper, Mad Swirl, and Writing In a Woman’s Voice. Her favorite hobby is to take long walks.


Image Credit: Herbert G. Ponting “The Freezing of the Sea” (1911) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Sheena Bradley: “After Another Deluge”




After Another Deluge

Rays of morning sun
glisten on the wet leaves
of ornamental olive trees
as they enjoy unseasonal warmth.

Once a warm terracotta,
driveways of tessellated bricks
are now stained black and grey
by engine oil and city acid.

Fire moss carpets the crevices,
elfin setae curving upward
offer capsules of microscopic spores
to the summer sun.

In front of every double garage
sits a Porsche or Discovery,
the pampered gods of suburbia,
discord of traffic assaults the ears.

Nearby in the meadow, spearwort,
cow-parsley, poppies, and dandelions
abound – until the planned
new road becomes reality.

Below, in the valley,
people slump on brooms, stare
listless, or drag sodden sandbags
from their doorsteps, once more.



About the Author: Sheena is Irish but has lived in Nottingham for almost forty years. Following retirement, she began writing and now has an MA in Creative Writing from Trent University. She has been published in The Beacon, Reach, Sarasvati, Dawntreader and Orbis. Twitter: @weesheenanigan


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Moss on a Redwood” (2020)

William Taylor Jr. “Mr. Sanchez”




Mr. Sanchez

Mr. Sanchez was my hospital roommate for three days
when I had to go and have my aortic valve replaced.

He was 83 years old, deaf in one ear,
and scheduled for a triple bypass.

He had near constant minor pains
and was always pressing the nurse call button
and describing his current level of discomfort:

It’s a one, now…or a two…wait…three…definitely a three…

A nurse would come and give him handfuls
of little pills that dissolved beneath his tongue.

Oh…it’s back down to a two, now…one…zero, it’s zero now, thank you…

The nurse would go away and within a few minutes
Mr. Sanchez would be pressing at the button again.

Nurse, it’s back to a two…maybe two and a half…

The nurse would return with more little pills
and it went on like this throughout the day.

Whenever the nurses changed shifts
the new nurse would have to check Mr. Sanchez’ vitals
and ask him the same series of questions:

Did you used to smoke, Mr. Sanchez?

Oh yes, too much.

For how many years did you smoke?

I started at 16, so about 60 years I guess.
I usta smoke about 3 packs a day.


Oh yes, I was a merchant marine, and that’s what we did –
smoke and drink, smoke and drink…

You have a tattoo, Mr. Sanchez?

I sure as hell do.

Mr. Sanchez  pushed up the sleeve of his gown
to reveal the face of a pretty young woman
and a faded name scrawled beneath.

I got this in Okinawa in 1963.

Mr. Sanchez sat up and started
to tell the story of the woman’s face
upon his arm but the nurses only
wanted to know what color of jello
he preferred for lunch.

He always asked for red
but they only had yellow
or green.




About the Author: William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a volume of fiction. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including Rattle, The New York Quarterly, and The American Journal of Poetry. He is a five time Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. Pretty Words to Say, (Six Ft. Swells Press, 2020) is his latest collection of poetry.


More by William Taylor Jr.

“The Fire of Now”

“One of Pessoa’s Ghosts”


Image Credit: drawing from Outlines of Human Physiology by George Hayward (1834) public domain