Paul Corman-Roberts: “Evolved Reptile Brain From Arrakis”



Evolved Reptile Brain From Arrakis

Evolved reptile brain wants to burn it all down.
Evolved reptile brain plateaus
at the spilling edge of nihilism
the real reason
Atlantis took a dive.

Big Reptile prayed for the meteor.
Big Reptile
                          got the meteor.

The simplest of details
like that little detail
left unattended
in the corner
on the floor.

So many cannot rest
until this detail is secured.
Some move on to the other details
lying in other corners
they continually forget about.

We make so many excuses for our heroes
that we don’t make for our friends.
We make too many excuses to our friends
because we don’t imagine them as heroes.

I don’t know what it is
about tonight
but this feels
like one of those
very rare nights
when everyone is going to be ok.

And I don’t mean like “Oklahoma” Ok…
          …or maybe I do.
I’m not actually an authority
on what “ok” is.
It took me a long time to learn

I want the fucked up horrible dreams.
They make me feel relevant.
I get that these are a blessing.
I get that I’m lucky
                          they are only dreams.

I promise you are safe with me.
Please don’t hate me for that.

It’s too easy to say our masculinity is toxic.
It is actually much worse than that.
It’s a one-way ticket into the abyss.
They didn’t make a map for the way out.
But sooner or later we all go in.



About the Author: About the Author: Paul Corman-Roberts is the author of the forthcoming full length poetry collection “Bone Moon Palace” forthcoming in Spring 2021 from Nomadic Press. Corman-Roberts is an original co-founder of the Beast Crawl Lit Fest in Oakland CA where he organizes and teaches.


Image Credit: Digital art adapted from Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, London: Academic Press, [etc.],1833-1965. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Samuel Prestridge: “Feeder”




Scrabbling colors–birds rioting seed,
a broadcast punctuated
by squirrels
                         as I hand feeders
from limbs, rails, poles, to my short wife.
She fills them, hands them back,
a Saturday task done
for luck, for variegated finches;
dull republican sparrows; blue jays,
braying fundamentalists; and,
this morning, one bald cardinal—
alopecia or a mate’s black
                     The morning rhymes
with dirt-roads, years arranging
rearrange the evenings’ crows’
F’koff! F’koff! or hearing one night, two cold
stanzas into a poem that gave me only
two, a fluttering, then silence quilting
the beat before the rasping, bitter
call of the existentialist bird,
pure pique drawn naked
over a cheese grater. 
                                         It cried once,
flew away, never returned,
or at least, I never heard it.
But there’s a resonance, even now,
something in me saying Yes . . . yes, you’re right.  

Sometimes, it’s just like that.     

Not for what we offer, birds come,
not because not offering would keep them
here or away. 
                             Small charities suggest,
suggest, suggest, suggest, each repetition
feting the air thicker, stubbing any move
against an ignorant amazement
that isn’t anything but a lack 
of anything else. 

Once, Fort Worth, I saw Deke Birds fall
from St. Patrick’s cathedral.  Conical lumps
sprouted wings, veered upward inches from smash,
worked air to gabled roof peak
for yet another hurling.
                                                 They didn’t feed as they fell,
weren’t gaudy about it, weren’t attracting mates.
The plunge was itself, the rushing down,
wings clamped to succor a plummet
so intense it seemed a longing,
a sidewalk smack avoided
by a feather’s breadth. 
they sang, their cry, a large tear
drawn upward through a slide whistle.

I don’t know all the birds outside
our window, don’t want to know,
don’t know why, but we feed them,
not for what’s done, but that they’ve come,
that they’re here, and we know as much. 

                It’s not so much a hoping
as a way of living in lieu of.  We do; 
they come.  They’d come, anyway,
but in our doing, we welcome
the scrabbling wings, the hunger
toward which we raise our hands.



About Samuel Prestridge: I live and work in Athens, Georgia.  I have published articles, poems, essays, and interviews in a wide range of publications, including Literary Imagination, Style, Appalachian Quarterly, Paideuma, Poem, and The Southern Humanities Review.  


Image Credit: Illustration from A popular handbook of the birds of the United States and Canada,. Boston,Little, Brown,1903. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Ace Boggess: “Holy”




Don’t recall which day pills
began to count me among their followers.

Old enough to make better choices,
too young to understand fear controlled them

as if I were a scrawny mutt trained to cower.
There are gods others worship &

gods they hide behind
like holy drywall harboring mice.

Which were mine? I bowed to them,
bent, broke, sacrificed while I muttered pleas.

My gods wanted nothing from me
except everything.



About the Author: Ace Boggess is author of five books of poetry—MisadventureI Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It SoUltra Deep Field, The Prisoners, and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled—and the novels States of Mercy and A Song Without a Melody. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Notre Dame Review, Mid-American Review, Rattle, River Styx, and many other journals. He received a fellowship from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and spent five years in a West Virginia prison. He lives in Charleston, West Virginia. His sixth collection, Escape Envy, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press in 2021.


More by Ace Boggess:

Rock Garden

And Why Am I A Free Man?

Why Did You Try To Sober Up?


Image Credit: “Head from a Statue of a Youth” Roman 100 B.C.–A.D. 100, Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Bryan D. Price: “Progress”




I like to imagine that from out of the blue
people from my past will come over to our house
and I will be sweeping the floor as barefoot as a nymph
and everything will be turned right side up in the yard
and I will be all sober—listening to “How I Wrote
Elastic Man” and in the backyard the tomatoes
will not be wasting on the bush and we will walk and talk
about straight things like the curry plant Claire put
next to the sage that turned out to be a fraud
and they will be impressed with all my progress



About the Author: Bryan D. Price‘s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Posit, the UCity Review, Diagram, and others. He lives in San Diego with his wife, a dog, and a cat named after Pina Bausch.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Rosebud Opening” (2020)

Jason Baldinger: “Kings Bridge Armory May 6 1919”



Kings Bridge Armory May 6 1919

we were so bloody tired
we could barely conjure emotion
the soldiers would pass
silver trays, ashen faces
we were machines
spooning food
little talk

visions of the dead
reflect in their eyes
light of their souls
barely strobe
perhaps this is all
perhaps this is all that’s left

he wasn’t gone
little more light
if only a little
the look on his face
maybe a crumbled smile

a red rose in the button
of his pocket. I, shocked
alive for a moment
some color in drab time
very possible I blush
suddenly exposed
suddenly acutely aware
of feeling once again
as if I forgot
we were human
for a second

this still life

my eyes drawn to color
his voice recognizes, gaunt
they were showered
in roses yesterday
everyone in the village
wanted to kiss
the heroes of the 77th
who were they to argue

I didn’t see his hands
until now, the rose
materialized there
slight of hand
magic of an actual smile
eyes shaking
he passed it to me


About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and  former Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community. He has multiple books available including the chapbook Blind Into Leaving (Analog Submission Press) as well as the forthcoming Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) & A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp and on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.



More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing

Paul Jones: “Something Wonderful”



Something Wonderful

“Let me mention something wonderful,”
she said, “Bats eat darkness.”

“I see them shadowing the streetlight,”
I said, “diving to feed.
Like hungry fish in a small light pool,
they leap out of darkness
as if breaking the water’s surface,
as if, for a moment,
that alien world, that other, was their home.
Bats feed as darkness breaks.”

“No, bats break into darkness to feed.
Light warns them ‘you can’t stay!’
Think fireflies at the end of the day.
Their lights shine bats away.”

“But aren’t those lights a begging to breed?
Not just a sign of bitter taste?”

“As with passion, they say ‘Come here’
and ‘Keep apart’ for now.”

“Right now, bats break the darkness to feed.
Fireflies flash to breed.”

“Each rules their own kingdom—darkness
makes a boundary to break.
Some dive, some flash to mark the edge.
To transgress is to bless
the penumbra, the lie of difference.
Don’t we rise from earth?
Isn’t our time soaring in this life
a flash, a hope for love?
We see the lures, but know we must
be feed by darkness and
are born in a taste the bitter light,
The sweet then bitter light.”



About the Author: Paul Jones has published poetry in many journals including Poetry, 2 River View, Red Fez, River Heron Review as well as in cookbooks, in travel anthologies, in a collection about passion (What Matters?), in a collection about love (…and love…), and in The Best American Erotic Poems: 1800 – Present (from Scribner). Recently, he was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Web Awards. His chapbook is What the Welsh and Chinese Have in Common.

A manuscript of his poems crashed on the moon’s surface April 11, 2019 as part of Arch Mission’s Lunar Library delivered by SpaceIL’s Beresheet lander.

Image Credit: Illustration from Natural history of the animal kingdom for the use of young people Brighton :E. & J.B. Young and Co.,1889. Public domain image courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library

Brian Rihlmann: “And I Call Myself A Poet”




And I Call Myself A Poet

if you have a lot of online friends,
eventually you reach a point
where every day, it seems
someone’s waiting on results—
a biopsy or blood test
a mammogram
a nasal swab
while someone else
receives them
and yet another dies
mothers, fathers
sometimes teenagers
sometimes younger

and those left behind
show us all their red, raw,
angry, sad amputation scars
as we scramble for the right words
but there’s nothing there—
no right words
nothing but cliches
teary-eyed emoticons
and pixilated hearts

I stare at this carnage
a confused and helpless child
my fingertips hover
above the pale glow
of this flat earth screen
like a rescue helicopter
without a rope



About the Author: Brian Rihlmann was born in New Jersey and currently resides in Reno, Nevada. He writes free verse poetry, and has been published in The Rye Whiskey Review, Slipstream, Chiron Review, The Main Street Rag and others. His latest poetry collection, “Night At My Throat” (2020) was published by Pony One Dog Press.


More By Brian Rihlmann:

The Whole Point of the Game

Unknown Soldiers



Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Crescent City Driftwood” (2020)

Troy Schoultz: “The Art of Manliness”




The Art of Manliness

I never plunged a sledgehammer into drywall, never
Tore apart a motor with scarred, blackened hands.
I never slit a slain buck from throat to balls, the steaming guts
Spilling onto November snowfall, antlers mounted on a cabin wall.
What I learned about manhood at an early age was rage,
Voices that startled like early morning thunder from the garage,
The basement work area. Dad and grandpa unleashing
Their inherited frustration. The wrong socket, a dropped screwdriver,
The flashlight’s beam aimed at the wrong side of the engine compartment.
You cry too easy, be a man, toughen up, be more like your cousin…
Rage poisoned us when you taught me. Maybe
That’s why I pounded down my first beer at eleven, refused
To vomit up the swallowed chewing tobacco, tried working
The night shift in suicide factories. I needed to understand what “tough” was.

Alcohol stopped working for me, so I took a walk away.
Two last rites in three years. Dad, grandfather,
Ancestral ghosts one and all,
Have you ever come this close to death before fifty?
Am I tough enough for you now? Am I worthy of throwing tools
In fits of anger in a way that only makes sense to you?
God forgive me
And bless the sons I never had.



About the Author: Troy Schoultz’s poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Word Riot, Fish Drum, The Great American Poetry Show, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic and many others since 1997.  He’s the author of two chapbooks and two full length collections: A Field of Bonfires Sings (Wolf Angel Press, 1999) and Good Friday (Tamafyr Mountain Poetry 2005), Biographies of Runaway Dogs (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press 2016), and No More Quiet Entrances (Luchador Press 2020).


Image Credit: John Vachon “Abandoned casket factory, Dubuque, Iowa” (1940) The Library of Congress

Scott Silsbe: “I Wish I Hadn’t”



I Wish I Hadn’t

I hear it in the quieter moments of the night.
When all of the sirens have been put to bed
and there aren’t any smoke detectors chirping
out my window and the world’s still in its quiet
self-isolation. I hear it when the silent faces in
the darkness approach or else stare at me from
a distance, though even in the dark and without
my glasses on, I can still tell they are staring.
I can still tell that they are out there. Though
maybe they’re not there. Maybe I’m hearing
things again. But I believe that it’s something.
Something I can’t ignore. A noise. A voice.
And I think that it’s telling me to move on.



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


More By Scott Silsbe:

Double Downriver

Reading Rich Gegick’s Greasy Handshakes at Neighbors Tavern in Jeannette, Pennsylvania


Image Credit: Odilon Redon “Apparition” Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

M.J. Arcangelini: “An Elephant in Every Room”




An Elephant in Every Room

Different elephants in every room,
occasionally trumpeting to each other with
full throated roars, solicitous quiet plaints.
Swatting metaphoric flies with their tails.
Trunks like alien beings searching for water,
for straw; tusks snagging on the furniture.

I squeeze past them when moving from
room to room, making myself
smaller to avoid direct contact.
I gather their droppings for the
compost pile with a coal shovel,
wondering who keeps feeding them.

There is no one here with whom
to avoid talking about them.
So I creep around by myself,
taking any excuse to go outside.
Hoping that someday Tarzan will yodel
from a nearby tree and lead them all away.



About the Author: M.J. (Michael Joseph) Arcangelini was born 1952 in western Pennsylvania. He has resided in northern California since 1979. He has published in a lot of little magazines, online journals, & over a dozen anthologies.  He is the author of five collections, the most recent of which is “A Quiet Ghost,” Luchador Press 2020. Arcangelini has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He can be reached at


More by M.J. Arcangelini:

A Few Random Thoughts

Ten Movies


Image Credit: John Margolies “Papa Joe’s Fireworks pink elephant, Route 17, Hardeeville, South Carolina” (2004) The Library of Congress