“Hound Speak” By Damian Rucci



Hound Speak

At 3am
the hounds are let out for lunch
we bark, growl, bare teeth
howl at the lone cars on the highway

we’re comrades in this spiritual war
poor derelicts fighting to find self
in those hours before mourning

on those breaks in between
we drink what we can
sniff what we find, smoke
until our lungs combust

the ones who have it
take care of those who don’t

we jump in temporary freedom
until the time-clock
beckons us back inside

in those hours on the sales floor
you have time
to think, reflect
on all those dark things
you try and ignore in the sun

the things you say have weight
under those fluorescent lights
like bees buzzing between
your ears, you must address them

when the morning comes
we emerge, gaunt, pale
eyes cowering from the light
scurrying off to our homes

we sleep the day away
ignore the ones we love
carry the hurt, close to our chests
and breath again at midnight

this is less of a job
this is a way of life
we may not be able to hide
away from the world forever
but we sure are trying.


About the Author: Damian Rucci’s work has recently appeared in Cultural Weekly, Beatdom, Big Hammer, and coffee shops and basements across the country. He is an author of three chapbooks and a split Former Lives of Saints with Ezhno Martin. Damian hosted the Poetry in the Port reading series, currently hosts the Belle Ringer Open Mic and is a poet in residence at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. He can be reached at damian.rucci@gmail.com


More by Damian Rucci: 

Melancholy & The Afterglow

One for Cory


Image Credit: “Steeplechase Pier night, Atlantic City, New Jersey” Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by John Margolies

“Billy Collins Stole My Memories” By Nathan Graziano


Billy Collins Stole My Memories

You can have them. I won’t press charges. 
I won’t miss most of them—the church pews
polished with Pine-Sol, the blandness 
of the Eucharist, the briny taste of guilt;
the dope then Suboxone then withdrawals;
the suicide attempt followed by a week
in the psych ward staring out the window 
as the cops approached a trap house, guns
drawn; the warm flesh of my infidelities. 
This morning I made breakfast without memories
or eggs or butter or a block of sharp cheddar. 
My kids didn’t notice that I was barefoot 
and Billy Collins was wearing my moccasins. 
But this strictly a no-return policy interaction. 
Everything is yours now, Billy. Don’t fuck it up.


About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.


More By Nathan Graziano:

Homework on Uranus

Explaining Depression To My Cousin



Image Credit: Bainbridge Colby, silhouette from The Library of Congress. Public Domain.

“A Familial Scene” By Tiffany Troy



A Familial Scene

In the flat hills of the village
Next to the tiny streams irrigating the wheat
The sweat hangs, clinging.
Like tears—cleaving skin—to that tight white blouse
Before dropping to the ground the hour before dark
As the hornpipe and the heart swell with yearning
Waiting for the hour to sit down as the blood-orange red sun sits 
Momentarily in the embrace of the hay 
As the colors of the world drained away by the shoulder aching
Until at last that salmon roe of a sun finally bursts
Letting out all that is glowing, glistening, 
bulging, bleeding, burning
the riding hood in scarlet face facing against the sun, still
waiting for the prodigal son.

Her brother. 
Returning but never 
returning from his adventures with women.
Her scythe will one day take her father away, she thought,
as the sun ravaged her baby white skin, toughed it, burned it.
Like her pink soft lips. 

A moment of translucent clarity–that boundary of brown–
That all colors melt to 
like the ground–dappled with her sweat.
Yet at the beginning of darkness, she sees, distinguishes still:
The purple dome and the church she never saw, and had no use for.
For that was the color that lured her brother away.
She had no use for that grandiosity.
She wondered if she still retains faith in Father,
When the sun sets and the moon comes by
And the silence of the night perturbs memory
Of Father who knew it all and talked
but was powerless
to stop the destruction of his son.


About the Author: Tiffany Troy is a poet based in Flushing, Queens. Her poems have appeared in Chrysanthemum, Portales, Tabula Rasa, Quarto, and the Underground and have been awarded the Core Scholar Prize and Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. She is a CA/T Community Class participant since 2017. This poem was written in the Art of Ekphrasis, taught by Emma O’Leary in Spring 2019.


Image Credit: Jules Breton The Song of the Lark (1884) Public Domain

“Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship” By Scott Silsbe



Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship

Admiral Salada, I don’t know if it’s really true—
if the Golden Arc that you built got you to space.
By chance, I found myself in a small apartment
in Braddock Hills sifting through what remained
of your library—books rescued, I was told, from 
a house fire. Some of the better titles I noticed…
Experiences of Space in Contemporary Physics.
The Harmonics of Sound, Color, and Vibration.
Extraterrestrial Contact and Human Responses.
Effects of Nuclear War on the Pittsburgh Area.

The man who was selling the books handed me 
your old business card, which is how I know of
The Golden Arc. That and his story about how 
you just vanished one day after years and years
of telling people that you were building yourself 
a way to leave this cracked earth, busted world,
this unsustainable planet we’re breaking to shards.

I hope that your spaceship held up and got you 
to wherever it was that you were heading for.
I now keep your business card in my wallet as 
a conversation piece, as a souvenir from my job
to show off to people I meet. And I guess as a
small piece of your life, which I know little of—
just a small fragment from someone who had hope
of another world that was obtainable, if very distant.
Someone who didn’t care if people thought he was
stupid, crazy, or a dreamer of otherworldly dreams.


About the Author: Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended FireThe River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.


Image Credit: “Le voyage dans la lune, en plein dans l’œil!!”, a drawing by Georges Méliès of the vessel landing in the moon’s eye in the film Le voyage dans la lune Public Domain


“Unknown Soldiers” By Brian Rihlmann




There ought to be
a monument,
a sort of war memorial
for workers killed
on construction sites,
in industrial accidents,
for those chewed up
and spit out
by the cruel machinery.

For migrant workers,
underpaid foreigners
crippled by cut corners,
then banished
from this promised land
of stone faced natives,
not so far removed.

For those whose true genius
was stamped out in childhood,
and their lives burned up,
firewood reduced to ash
by the slow flame
of factory drudgery,
by the booze and pills
that made enduring it possible.

Unknown soldiers
fighting daily battles
every bit as important
to our way of life
as men in uniform.

But such a monument
would cover half the country
in a black granite slab,
a giant tombstone
where fields of grain stand tall.

So there will never be one,
of that I am certain,
just as I am certain
that somebody,
somewhere, someday,
will hate me
for writing this.

About the Author: Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, Cajun Mutt Press and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.
Image Credit: Lewis W. Hine “Doffer Boys, Macon, Georgia” (1909) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

“The President Called the United States a Company” By Prince Bush



The President Called the United States a Company 

A Christmas mourning / I mourn God’s slain child
and Jesus Christ, a wall that’s hard to yield
to while crows eat / kids starve / ovaled stomachs 

feed on human flesh / hosts as repurposed
puppets or proponents purporting laws
and slips on behalf of Freudian slips 

            the President called the United States
            a company / and there’s truth / I too sing 

company / throwing precious repastures
away / enough to feed refugees they
say there’s no food for. I mourn a Jesús

             and Jesus / you might not / so how can I
             show you mercy?—replace Jesus with green

wood-plants / white people / you / must keep Jesús
because death is owned by a company
that must throw away precious repastures.


About the Author: Prince Bush is a poet attending Fisk University. His work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, SOFTBLOW, Cotton Xenomorph, Protean, and Mobius, among others. More work and biographical information can be found at pbush.com

Image Credit: D.R. Payne “Border monuments 223, 224, and 225, along the California-Mexico border” (1892) The Library of Congress

“A disappearance” By Dameion Wagner



A disappearance

I would like to disappear

into my thin white

body I am day- 

dreaming again of

you and him 

my blue eyes 

are open 

two lips,

are four when they

met in secret

in a kitchen 

where people 

prepare food &

eat because they

are hungry and 

cannot wait 

wait wait don’t 

think for a minute

before you take

a bite of that

Tonight give me 

a kiss  if I die in

my sleep.


About the Author: Dameion Wagner lives and works in Columbus, Ohio. His work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and The Gordian Review among a few others. He has also written reviews for Heavy Feather Review and The Rumpus. He won Miami University’s 2017 Jordan-Goodman poetry Prize judged by Janice Lowe, and most recently was the 2018 recipient of the Academy of American Poets University Prize. He received his MFA from Miami University’s Low Residency program. 


Image Credit: William Henry Fox Talbot “The Bust of Patroclus” (1843) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program