Damian Rucci: “On Wednesdays”





We ignore the backdrop of condos 
the marble gated heavens 
that keep the clean faced 
from the people like us 

hiding from the rain in the gazebo
I come here on Wednesdays 
in my work boots, wait for my plug
read junkie love poems 
to rafael, joseph, and mark 
they pay me in stories 

rafael was the hardest working man
this side of the Mississippi 
until his youngest graduated school
now he’s back on the needle 
now he’s back living in a tent
up on the rocks that hangs over
the cresting waves, he put his time in

Joseph and Mark don’t talk much
they beat their feet to the rhythm
of our words, laugh and bare 
the purest smiles I’ve ever seen
everything is beautiful in this moment

but you’re looking down from your balcony 
with your golden straw, hand on your phone
ready to tell the pigs to come chase us off
to tell them we’re not gone like you want us to be

you can always tell how much money a man has
by how high he holds his shoulders
that’s why we’re down here sulking

as above so below 
you’re not so different though
you know that ATM is far away when you’re lonely
with that last twenty whispering to you
don’t you want to feel good?
don’t you want to feel like somebody? 


About the Author: Damian Rucci is a writer and author of five poetry books including his latest Don’t Call it a Relapse (Punk Provincial Press 2019), founder of the Poetry in the Port reading series, and was a Poet in Residence at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. He can be contacted at @damianrucci on Twitter and damian.rucci@gmail.com


More By Damian Rucci:

One For Cory

Hound Speak

Melancholy and the Afterglow


Image Credit: ” GAP ROAD, LOOP OVER, VIEW INSIDE OVERPASS. – Great Smoky Mountains National Park Roads & Bridges, The Loop Over Bridge, Newfound Gap Road 8.6 miles from park entrance, Gatlinburg, Sevier County, TN” The Library of Congress (public domain)

Chuck Kramer: “The Cruelest Month”




The Cruelest Month

we stand at the end
of this stony, barren road
on the last day of April
peering through May
to the gates of June
and lush summer lawns
where we bask in the sun
sipping mint juleps with friends
maybe then we’ll forget
the isolated agony
of this brutal, crushing winter
but the exile might never end
as the evils of the last century
the death camps the bombs
the plagues the melting ice—
finally coalesce into
the lonely, terrifying nightmare
we can’t wake to escape
come August there may be reaping
a rich full harvest—
the end of the ordeal
but the ground may be barren
a biblical judgment on our rashness
and the quarantine an endless
sentence to pay for the
thoughtless crimes we’ve committed



About the Author: Chuck Kramer is a Chicago writer of fiction, poetry, and journalism. He has an MA in Writing from DePaul University and taught writing in the Chicago Public Schools at the Communication Arts Center. 

He’s currently the vice-president of the NewTown Writers, works on the editorial staff of the Chicago Quarterly Reviewand previously served as a workshop coordinator with the Chicago Writing Conference. He was the cohost of the long-running Weeds Poetry Open Mic.

He occasionally freelances for the Windy City Times and his journalism has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times, and Reader. His poems and short stories have appeared in many publications, both online and in print.

More at chuckkramer.webs.com.


Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith: “Dirt road to nowhere in rural Moffat County, Colorado; well, Wyoming, if you take the road far enough in either direction. It loops up over the Wyoming border going either east or west” (2016) The Library of Congress (Public Domain)

DS Maolalai: “A Perfume”



A perfume.

winter crowds
through windows
in the ellis
quay apartments.
the stairwell, thick
with a perfume
of spice and frying
steaks. someone
on the landing
has opened
their apartment,
clearing the kitchen
while they cook. steam
comes out, rushing
like a person
late for a train,
their wallet
in their mouth,
keys frantic,
fiddling their folded
up jacketsleeves.
it rolls along
the windows
which run on down
the stairwell,
makes mushroom
shapes which flatten
on the glass and frame
of winter. rises
on my footsteps,
like I left
something behind.
I turn, stepping brightly
along another flight,
quite delighted
and searching
my pockets for keys,
tasting the savoury


About the Author: DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)


Image Credit: INTERIOR VIEW, THIRD FLOOR, NORTH ROOM, NORTHWEST WALL, VIEW THROUGH DORMER WINDOW – Gambrill House, Urbana Park, Frederick, Frederick County, MD, The Library of Congress (public domain)

Victor Clevenger: “Thursday Evening in September “


Editor’s Note: This is the 3rd in a series of poems by Victor Clevenger about his son, nicknamed “The Milkman”


Thursday Evening in September  

for nothing more
than to close an open window
i rushed into the first room on the left
with a bust-down-a-door
cop mentality

& his sudden search for concealment

reminded me why
it’s always best to knock first
& wait for him to finish twisting the knob
before entering the room with caution

it doesn’t always take a gunshot
or a slice from a sharp blade
to leave a scar


it’s just a hard object
gripped by a hand


Victor Clevenger’s latest chapbook of poetry, Low-Flying Birds, is available here on AIOTB Magazine as a free pdf.


About the Author: Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing poetry.  Selected pieces of his work have appeared in print magazines and journals around the world.  He is the author of several collections of poetry including Sandpaper Lovin’ (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017), A Finger in the Hornets’ Nest (Red Flag Poetry, 2018), and Corned Beef Hash By Candlelight (Luchador Press, 2019).  Together with American poet John Dorsey, they run River Dog.


More by Victor Clevenger:

$5.00 Wok

Milkman’s Mustache


Image Credit: “West bedroom, second floor, door to hall – Robert Pierce House, 24 Oakton Avenue, Dorchester, Suffolk County, MA” The Library of Congress (public domain)

Alex Z. Salinas: “Neruda in Six Haikus”



Neruda in Six Haikus

Huntress of the depths
Of my eyes, snare these pupils,
Blood tear trails your prize.

Host flesh, locust teeth,
Waxen crypt candle after-
Taste like cinnamon.

O Luna, listen:
Abandon me tonight, I
Crave death in lilac shades.

Sprinkle verse, twinkle
Glacial stars, Medusa’s stone
Grandmotherly gaze.

I walk on callused
Soles to distant realms,
Love’s wondrous highlands.

A woman’s heart is
A breath birthed in an era’s
Warm milk, sugar-sweet glands.


This poem appears in Alex Z. Salinas’ new book of poetry, DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox:




WARBLES, Alex Z. Salinas’ first collection of poetry, was the author’s attempt to reconcile his lifelong feeling of being sandwiched between cultures—and languages—in South Texas. In DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox, Salinas’ second full-length poetry collection propels further his investigation of his identity by entering into the dream realm—populated by literary and musical influences such as Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolaño, Ayn Rand, Sherman Alexie, John Coltrane and OutKast. By the book’s conclusion, Salinas brings to the surface the disturbing reality of the Trump administration, hopefully challenging his readers to ask themselves: So what action can I take next?



About the Author: Alex Z. Salinas lives in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, WARBLES (2019) and DREAMT, or The Lingering Phantoms of Equinox (2020), both published by Hekate Publishing. His poems, short fiction and op-eds have appeared in various print and electronic publications. He holds an M.A. in English Literature and Language from St. Mary’s University.


More by Alex Z. Salinas:

Pen Dream

The Great Thing About Driving With A Crack In Your Windshield


Image Credit: Photograph shows Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, seated at a table in front of a microphone in the Library of Congress Recording Laboratory, Studio B, Washington, D.C., during the recording of his poem “Alturas de Macchu Picchu” for the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. (1966) The Library of Congress (public domain)

Agnes Vojta: “Everybody Likes the Person who Brings Muffins”



Everybody Likes the Person who Brings Muffins

She is baking to keep
the darkness at bay.
A loaf of bread
will render her worthy,
a pie loved.

She bakes herself
a place in the world.
Bakes acceptance,
a purpose for being
measured in brownies.

As long as she’s baking,
she’s got something to offer,
to trade for your time.
Most people prefer
cookies to poems anyway.


About the Author: Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and started writing poetry as a child. She spent a few years in California, Oregon, and England, 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: “International baking powder. Manufactured by Queen City Chemical Co., Buffalo, N.Y.” G.H. Dunston, Lith., c1885. The Library of Congress (Public Domain)

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. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/item/24293

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