Sterling Warner: “Kick the Bucket”

Kick the Bucket

Like a hollowed-out pumpkin
an empty orange bucket
sat on my back-porch stoop,
job completed, five-gallon
contents exhausted, container
just a lonely remnant inviting
children to flick it over, palm
the pleated bottom like a tabla
or pound corners with garden stakes
as if playing a floor tom-tom;
the pail’s white plastic handle
arced like an anemic tambourine
erect, bending indifferently
once flipped horizonal.

Oh, days came & went, tasks evolved,
trash stuffed space where machines
filled paint cans, shook pigment,
stamped a slogan that pealed
off the vessel’s exterior; creative
uses expanded, cobwebs cluttered
the uncovered lid before kicked
sideways so Scott could practice
golf putts till winter snowdrifts 
buried its Halloween semblance
welcomed springtime renewal
as rodents huddled, built nests
& guarded offspring oblivious
of their Home Depot connection.

About the Author: A Washington-based author, educator, and Pushcart nominee for poetry, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in many international literary magazines, journals, and anthologies such as Street Lit., The Ekphrastic ReviewAnti-Heroin Chic, The Fib Review, and Sparks of Calliope. Warner also has written seven volumes of poetry, including Without Wheels, ShadowCat, Memento Mori: A Chapbook Redux, Edges, Rags & Feathers, Serpent’s Tooth, Flytraps,  and  Cracks of Light: Pandemic Poetry & Fiction (2022)—as well as. Masques:Flash Fiction & Short StoriesCurrently, he writes, turns wood, and hosts virtual poetry readings. 

Image Credit: Russell Lee “Old gold ore bucket at abandoned mine. Pinos Altos, New Mexico” (1940) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Howie Good: “Childhood’s End”

Childhood’s End

How would you describe your pain? Stabbing? Aching? Sharp? Dull? I would describe mine as a skeletal tree with twisted limbs rattling in the wind. Every day seems a bad imitation of the day before. If I look ahead, I see myself walking on corpses instead of the ground, and if I look back, I see night and fog, and my father angrily clenching the steering wheel and my mother locked in cold silence beside him, while alone in the backseat, I watch through the side window the black-veiled moon follow us home.

About the Author: Howie Good’s latest poetry book is The Horse Were Beautiful (2022), available from Grey Book Press. Redhawk Publications is publishing his collection, Swimming in Oblivion: New and Selected Poems, later this year.

Image Credit: Edvard Munch “The Sick Child I” (1896) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

John Barnes: “Noah’s Bones”

Noah’s Bones

The jasper skeleton of fallen Noah
Fossilized in mineral rich mud
Not so far from the chalcedony beams
That buoyed a sprig cut from the 
Tree of life over the vast empire 
Of whale and shark and seaweed groves.

His skeleton may remember what the flesh 
Forgets.  Crustaceans devouring the drowned 
Bodies of soft skinned leopards and 
Once ferocious bears.   The sharks smell
Leaking blood and rend flesh with razor teeth. 
Sunken cities shelter fish schools in tedious numbers.

And yet one tender sprig of olive, severed by
Dove teeth returning to a vista of gray on gray
Prophesies a retreat by the watery empire,
A beachhead outpost for the kingdom of the firmament,
And wings and legs and hands and sharpened swords.

Was it a sword left Noah on his back in the mud?
Was it contempt or jealousy or bitterness 
Behind the hand that struck? What evil did that
Great flood wash from the sticky nature of man?

About the Author: John Barnes has been writing poetry for 42 years and has been published in The Chained MuseThe Minison Project Sonnet Collection Series and received the Winter 2022 quarterly award for his submission to The Lyric. He recently performed a featured reading at ArtNewCo in Columbus, Ohio.  He is a student of verse and believes in the value of self-education.

Image Credit: Ester Almqvist “Noah’s Thank-offering” Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

V.S. Ramstack: “And since you are part of this world, you too are changeable”

And since you are part of this world, you too are changeable
after Ovid’s Metamorphoses

an axolotl, to regrow my cut off limbs,
parts of the heart still beating beneath
the water, iodizing myself toward land

and what of those leaves you gave me in june?
especially the one i kept pressed in a book, a little
cry betwixt these metamorphoses

Ovid prayed we’d remove ourselves
from this self-taught banishment, this black & blue
sea borne ten times over by swallowed sand

but this is to say: i am not asking you to be
concerned by my hurt, only by my change
the way flowers ripped from soil will only wilt

About the Author: V.S. Ramstack is a poet breathing in Chicago. She received her BA in English + Gender, Women, & Sexuality studies from University of Minnesota and her MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Previous work can be found in PositCurator MagazineAnti-Heroin ChicAcross the Margin, and elsewhere.


Image Credit: Charles Aubry “Flower Still Life” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Holly Day: “The End of It”

The End of It

It’s very important to have your spot picked out to wait out the end of the world. The spot you want to be to be Raptured from. Wherever it is you want to be when the meteors slam into the planet. Wherever you want to be when the floodwaters rise up and drag everything to the sea. Have some snacks packed, because all this could take a while. Dress appropriately. Or, because it’s the End, don’t wear anything at all. Call your mother. Don’t forget to feed the dog. Let everyone you love know that even though this spot you’ve chosen to watch the world end from isn’t anywhere near them, and even though you can’t be bothered to be with them in person, you are thinking about them, right now. And really, as always, it’s the thought that counts.

About the Author: Holly Day’s writing has recently appeared in Analog SF, The Hong Kong Review, and Appalachian Journal, and her hobbies include kicking and screaming at vending machines.


Image Credit: Hilma af KlintThe Swan, No. 18″ (1914 -1915) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Agnes Vojta: “The Topography of Grief”

The Topography of Grief

The topography of grief is karst,
riddled with sinkholes
that suddenly open
under your feet, swallow you whole.

I don’t know what I expected
to feel. Not this emptiness.
Not nothing. I don’t cry
at the sight of my dad’s signature.

The letter from probate court
I’ve been expecting. I know
what it contains: a form letter
and a copy of dad’s will.

I cry when I pack his chessboard,
lay the wooden pieces to rest
in their velvet-lined compartments,
close the box, latch the lid.

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, The Eden of Perhaps, and A Coracle for Dreams, all published by Spartan Press. Most recently, she has been collaborating with eight other poets on the book Wild Muse: Ozarks Nature Poetry (Cornerpost Press, 2022.) Her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines; you can read some of them on her website


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Utah Karst” (2021)

Alexander Lazarus Wolff: “Self-Portrait as Ariel from The Tempest”

Self-Portrait as Ariel from The Tempest

I have returned from the wreck, from that ship
	     you tossed with your tempest. The crew lay
                        unharmed, as you would know, 
	                            and they rest on the shore

where kaleidoscopic shells are scattered about
	    and where the sea slides up only to recede.
		        I serenaded them with my song, which,
                                    like my essence, belongs entirely to you: 

Full fathom five thy father lies;
            Of his bones are coral made;
                       Those are pearls that were his eyes:
	                             Nothing of him that doth fade…

By nature, my body belongs to the four winds,
	     and to them, one day, it will return. 
		       But, for now, I am an extension of your mind,
			            and I attend to your bidding 

as the sun comes out of hiding. The crew
	      has awoken and daylight spreads across
		        our island. I will return to my tree
			            until I’m to sing again.

About the Author: Alexander Lazarus Wolff is a writer of poetry and creative nonfiction. His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Best American Poetry online, The Citron Review, NDQ, Black Fox Literary Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, Serotonin, and elsewhere. He was awarded first place in the Poetry Society of Virginia’s Undergraduate Award. He is a poetry editor for The Plentitudes and is an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary. You can find him and more of his work on Facebook: on Instagram: @wolffalex108 and at


Image Credit: Mary Hoare “Ferdinand and Ariel” (1781) Public Domain image courtesy of Artvee

Ace Boggess: “Why I can’t Play Poker”

Why I Can’t Play Poker

Cards feel like collectibles,
each ace the Honus Wagner.

I prefer not to lay them down,
give them up. Weakness 

of character: I love chaos after losing,
one of those rare times 

anger & emptiness overlap 
enough to scorch a desert twice. 

Besides, I think, what if I won?
How could I bear reality?

To surrender failings I embrace 
like a childhood toy? To gain 

but sacrifice my desperation,
doubt? I’d have to be a different me,

neither my goal nor a solution,
more like deodorant sprayed on later.

I’d rather not play a hand again,
except these sailboats in the hole:

how they glide across the table,
how they carry me farther out to sea

About the Author:Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, River Styx, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.


Image Credit: Arthur S. Siegel “Detroit, Michigan. Poker hand and hands of girl players” (1941) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Paul Lamar “August 5, 2020 (for Mark)”

 August 5, 2020 (for Mark)

Enclosed with you. But rather with? No one,
Of course. We’ve fashioned decades side by side,
And some days it’s as if we’ve just begun
To see each other’s core. Pandemic’s slide
Into confusion makes life sharper than
The blurry days of running here and there,
Compelled and scattered. No need to plan
Each moment now-- my grasp is light as air
Though never tighter on what matters most:
Our children. Neighbors. Music. Books. The yard.
And thoughts about the wider world: the lost
Of every sort! The earth. I know what’s hard
Is yet to come, but soon we’ll crack the door,
And live in ways we should have lived before.

About the Author: Paul Lamar lives with his husband, Mark, in Albany, NY, where he teaches poetry, fiction, and memoir workshops; reviews theater for a local paper; and conducts a chorus. Over many years (he just attended his 55th college reunion, mirabile dictu!) his poems and stories have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Steam Ticket, Bloodroot, Southern Review, Off the Coast, etc.


Image Credit: Edvard Munch “Men Turning Toward the Sun” Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Evan Myquest Reviews Pawning My Sins By M.J. Arcangelini

A Review of

Pawning My Sins

By M.J. Arcangelini


The depth and breadth of Joe Arcangelini’s life must make his confessional appearance in this volume of poetry one bad-ass day in the publishing world. The eponymous first poem has his first confession of the book—that he wouldn’t get much of a return at his mystical sin pawnshop. And this is his first sin of a lie to confess to the reader. Going by the sins in this book, I’m thinking Joe’s got a damn good pawn stub in his mitts.

Joe takes us through his experiences: weed patch sentry duty, the booze, and the seedy North Beach hotel stays, and even more life on the “interesting” side of town. We definitely have some librarians clutching pearls and clucking tongues going on here. Fret not, librarians, we have no full-monty tell-all here. What we have is an honest accounting of a wild life told in poetry—because that is what Joe Arcangelini is good at these days.

Especially at lines like these about the clearing out of his Dad’s place, “The bed that witnessed such tender gymnastics” not kept, but keeping the “1920s straight razor, a 1903 Colt .38 revolver, a decayed molar.” All those embedded memories offloaded to the page.

You don’t have to read very far to see that once past the deprecation of the first poem, the reader is off and running on what would singe the local padre’s “heard it all” ears in a confessional. Sure that the ears listening nearby are perked toward that booth.

Yes, Joe is raising the shades in Pawning My Sins. He is confessing to the angels (and us), but he wants the pawnbroker’s cash, not some nebulous absolution. I love the stark, honest, eloquent writing going on here. We get treated to both the significance and the insignificance of a life in these pages. The midnight quill scritching Joe is sharing has the oldest of intentions “not to do what I have done.” The thing I dig with this book of poems is that there is not a lot of resignation and sadness here. It is even hard to see apologetic regret. You know Joe will write another great book and move on from the fizzled fireworks, the hitchhiking, the rehabs, and lost friends and lovers—because in the clarity of his writing there is a survivor here, and we sure count on this loveable gentleman to go on “pawning” more of these wonderful poems off on us.

Collect those tickets, Joe, and get every last dime you are entitled to, because surviving and becoming the gentle artist we finally meet here is well deserved.


Pawning My Sins
M.J. Arcangelini
Luchador Press 2022
Big Tuna, TX (cool) –98 pages

About the Author: Evan Myquest lives in the Sierra foothills near Sacramento, CA. He has been married to his wife, Eva, for 47 years. His poetry has appeared alongside Jack Hirschman, Patti Smith, Leonard Cohen, Jim Carroll, and many others across the US and in Italy as well as translated and performed on video by Rome’s maestro Beppe Costa. His latest poetry collection, Cold Blue Roses, is available at Amazon in print and Kindle editions. This is his second book review, his first appeared in Ingrid Swanberg’s “Abraxas” about “Dorsey/Wagner.”