Sarah Carleton: “Guidelines for House Gecko”

Guidelines for House Gecko


Leave pearl eggs in dark spots—
behind sockets or bookshelves.

Crawl the walls on sticky toes, but if you see people,
scuttle to a crack and hide.

Squeak for help. Chirp for sex.
Eat bugs and multiply. 

Let the little ones dash across carpets 
but only at night.

You’ll last for years here, hovering 
in the laundry room, waiting for roaches

but even if a fleshy hand catches you and drops you
in the grass, don’t panic.

Remember, your name is House. 
You know where all the secret passages are.

About the Author: Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and knits obsessively in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Cider Press Review, The Wild Word, Valparaiso, As It Ought to Be, and New Ohio Review. Sarah’s poems have received nominations for Pushcart and Best of the Net. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.

Image Credit: Illustration originally from Histoire naturelle de Lacépède. Paris: Furne, Jouvet et cie. Public domain image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Rose Mary Boehm: “Discontent”

Discontent 

Early spring in the subtropics 
make me wish for that tree, 
fat with apple blossoms, 
a host of humming 
small folk pollinating 
and feasting. 

Closing my eyes, I smell 
again the freshness
of a cool April morning, 
able to call up the seduction 
of feathery blossom fingers 
on my cheeks. 

Would there be felicity 
without caressing 
losses and ignoring gains, 
exalting crystalized narcissus 
early March in the north of the North 
while succumbing to the exotic wiles 
of the glorious cantuta. 

Now in the late years of my life 
I wish for an Indian summer 
instead of a winter of discontent.

About the Author: Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as six poetry collections. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. DO OCEANS HAVE UNDERWATER BORDERS? (Kelsay Books July 2022) and WHISTLING IN THE DARK (Taj Mahal Publishing House July 2022), are both available on Amazon. My seventh collection, SAUDADE, is going to be published by Kelsay early 2023. https://www.rose-mary-boehm-poet.com/

Image Credit: Nicolae Grigorescu “Apple Blossom” Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Jason Baldinger: “the only other thing is nothing”

the only other thing is nothing
(for will hackney) 

got your postcard
from the edge of civilization 
in a resort town where 
water stopped like time
in the shimmer of 118 degrees 
out where the sea level still
can't find the sea 

california has eluded me
I haven't seen the salton sea
but I miss zabriske point
I miss armed attendants 
pumping expensive gas 
under blazing mojave sun 
desert rats aware
apocalypse already flashed 

the last time we shared a desert
you were celebrating life beginning
as speeches and dances rolled
I was in the parking lot
cold moon rises full
over the sierra blanca 

attempts to be a dutiful 
if long distanced partner
lonely in the clash 
between living with abandon
and living abandoned 

I am yucca, sun bleached
blossoms mummified 
while she's hostile
brandishing the shovel
that would bury us 

come morning
I start east
my eyes on lubbock 
 
beyond roswell
I spy a pecan grove
symmetrical oasis
stretched miles under 
unforgiving sun
park between rows
stand outside myself
the only other thing is nothing

About the Author: Jason Baldinger was recently told he looks like a cross between a lumberjack and a genie. He’s also been told he’s not from Pittsburgh but is the physical manifestation of Pittsburgh. Although unsure of either, he does love wandering the country writing poems. He’s penned fifteen books of poetry the newest of which include: The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press) and A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010-2020 (Kung Fu Treachery), and This Still Life with James Benger. His work has appeared across a wide variety of print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lps by The Gotobeds and Theremonster.

Image Credit: Arthur Rothstein “Type of land on project at Las Cruces, New Mexico. Note large yuccas” (1936) Public Domain photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

Ruth Bavetta: “A Year Turned Upside Down”

A Year Turned Upside Down

Almost all of fall evaporated
in a flurry of sun. Mayweed’s stars 
immobilized by an embarrassment of heat. 

Come January, gardenias shot into scent,
clivia burst into a conflagration 
of orange. With winter annihilated,

spring spiraled into the disingenuous 
sugar of summer, sage withered, 
chaparral seethed in a flash of flame.

About the Author: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have appeared in North American Review, Nimrod, Rattle, Slant, American Journal of Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. She likes the light on November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky, the smell of the ocean. She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “California Mayweed” (2022)

Brian Boies “Cod Flashes”

Cod Flashes

Catch and release
but first, after
the flapping stops,
pull a paint-dripping brush
tight down both
sides of its body.
White to teach
a lesson about survival 
to it and
everyone who sees.

Highly visible
through the muck,
it will travel
far south, 
far north
hugging the river’s top ice
until the danger has passed.

I am painted white inside,
my muscles only know taught.
Different doctors say 
this shouldn’t be happening
to someone my age.
Why so wired
and meditation only makes it worse.
I am counting down.

Cod arrives
at its camouflage destination.
Maybe safe
but ghosts are also white.

Three sheets I layer
to cover the ice,
I too have found a home here.

A red fish fibrillates
inside me.
Seize,
unseize.
With a whimper,
arythma.

If the ghost is me,
if the ghost is which part of me,
fish can fellowship
and compare our woes of white.
Maybe the ghost will be only my mind
and haunting is a boast
of finally free.

But before,
we will sleep
me on these stacked sheets,
the cod, bobbing in the current,
exactly below
my meekly knocking heart.

About the Author: Brian Ed Boies lived by train tracks and transcribed train graffiti and used it as prompts.  This poem is from that process. He has been published by the National Endowment of the Arts and in Punk Planet and ZYZZYVA. A story of his was listed as Notable Nonrequired Reading in 2012. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and daughter.

Image Credit: Public Domain image originally from The history of esculent fish London: Printed for Edward Jeffrey [etc.],1794. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Jason Ryberg: “Passion Flowers and Puzzle Boxes”

Passion Flowers and Puzzle Boxes


Scientists and poets alike have yet to find 
whether certain experimental hybridizations 
of radio waves and silver go-go boots in any way
affects the erratic trajectories of UFOs.

Though, they now know that the geometry of fireflies 
may have some influence over the delicate symbiosis 
of communication satellites, train yards 
and Blue Turtle migrations.

However, despite recent controversial reports
there has been no independent confirmation
on whether the random arrangement
of orange blossoms on a city sidewalk, 
slick with rain, has any more relation 
to the performance of a North Korean 
featherweight in the 9th than 
a performance of Beethoven’s 9th
by the South Korean Philharmonic does
to the discovery of designs 
for a steam-driven engine 
written on papyrus.

But, one doesn’t need a steady diet
of coral calcium deposits or subterranean
cold-storage of arcane information
to see that a cracked engine block
is bound, cosmically, 
to a crack-baby found
behind a dumpster in an alley
(alive and doing well we’re told),

that beauty-parlor patter is richly infused
with important information regarding escape artistry,
living in the desert, the number “0” AND, 
stealing household appliances 
(specifically, toaster-ovens, it seems)

and, most importantly, 
that a strangely warm winter-breeze
witnessed stirring a light bulb
hanging on the end of a string
will eventually result in a brilliant idea
unfolding like a passionflower or 
Chinese puzzle box of infinite digression 
somewhere down the integer line 

of an, as yet, undetermined causal chain.

About the Author: Jason Ryberg is the author of eighteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both 
The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is The Great American Pyramid Scheme (co-authored with W.E. Leathem, Tim Tarkelly and Mack Thorn, OAC Books, 2022). He lives part-time in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.

Image Credit: The American flora. v.1 New York :Hull & Spencer,1855. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Richard Levine: “Playing at Forever”

Playing at Forever

The ocean never stops its tug of war 
with beach sand.  Its great democratic voice 
consumes all the laughter and whispered vows 
vacationers make on blankets, spread out

under brightly striped umbrellas under 
the sun and our tans that end where our suits
begin.  We have come as far away from 
our careers as a tide of untimed time

could take us, yet we find there is something
naggingly familiar in the way native 
children smile at us.  They coax us to throw
coins they dive for, perhaps their only real

freedom.  Resurfacing, their faces glow 
brightly as their palms lined with silver.
Our minds float above us like jellyfish,
permeating our days with stinging

responsibilities.  But here we are 
untethered from time’s twins, and our bodies 
ache to be calmed, cooled and retuned to whim.
We swim under water, holding our breath, 

carefree as children playing at forever,
though we know we must come up for air.

About the Author: Richard Levine, a retired NYC teacher, is the author of Selected Poems, Contiguous States, and five chapbooks.  Now in Contest is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. An Advisory Editor of BigCityLit.com, he received the 2021 Connecticut Poetry Society Award, and co-edited “Invasion of Ukraine 2022: Poems.”  “The Spoils of War” is forthcoming in American Book Review. website: richardlevine107.com

Image Credit: Herman Hartwich “Cape Cod, Beach” (1894) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee

Ruth Bavetta: “Stargazers”

Stargazers 

Lilies strain from the mouth 
of the vase by the window, open 

their throats to the sky, stretching
toward the accumulation of clouds,

furred stamens powdered red
as starling’s blood. The shadows

of the room, the scent of 
perfume heavy as tomorrow’s end

held in stasis for seven steady 
days as stems collapse in secret

and leaves transmute to slime. 
In this world of sorrow and of loss 

all things must fail, must come to moss
and murder, must disintegrate

in damp and dust. And we must 
open our throats, and swallow.

About the Author: Ruth Bavetta’s poems have appeared in North American Review, Nimrod, Rattle, Slant, American Journal of Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. She likes the light on November afternoons, the music of Stravinsky, the smell of the ocean. She hates pretense, fundamentalism and sauerkraut.

Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Fire Lily” (2022)

John Dorsey: “The History of Rivers”

The History of Rivers

a car with one headlight
bobs and weaves its way through the mud
looking for a pair of missing glasses
what good are they anyway
we can never see where we’re going
only where we’ve been
floods of emotion like this
are only supposed to happen once a century
but we can’t see our way past the rocks
everything only seems to come into focus 
after we get out of the water
& raise a glass to the spirits 
resting in capsized riverboats 
that you’ll never find squinting in the sunlight
listening to the words of that lonesome whippoorwill 
singing some far fetched river song.

About the Author: John Dorsey lived for several years in Toledo, Ohio. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer (Rose of Sharon Press, 2006), Sodomy is a City in New Jersey (American Mettle Books, 2010), Tombstone Factory, (Epic Rites Press, 2013), Appalachian Frankenstein (GTK Press, 2015) Being the Fire (Tangerine Press, 2016) and Shoot the Messenger (Red Flag Poetry, 2017),Your Daughter’s Country (Blue Horse Press, 2019), Which Way to the River: Selected Poems 2016-2020 (OAC Books, 2020), Afterlife Karaoke (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2021) and Sundown at the Redneck Carnival, (Spartan Press, 2022).. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Stanley Hanks Memorial Poetry Prize. He was the winner of the 2019 Terri Award given out at the Poetry Rendezvous. He may be reached at archerevans@yahoo.com.

Image Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston “Potomac River” (1898) Public domain image courtesy of The Library of Congress

Dan Raphael: “A thread of Winter”

A Thread of Winter


sun sends frost into the grass and soil
wind is waiting for the dog to drop the ball 

those late night moments when a stretch of freeway
is empty and resents the next vehicle that comes through
but the road can’t change fast enough to assert its will

other times the freeway is so full and heavy
nothing moves and the earth beneath it
dreams of being a river and swimming inside itself

as the river knows without dreaming that
for much of winter, several threads of frozen water
tangle through it, unable to cohere or slow anything

yes heat rises, but in winter cold starts at the top 
walking to and from high school in winter, i could
generate heat in the center of my chest and have it
flow outwards, never spent enough time in heat
to generate cold, or a wind that trickles out my pores
not breath, a snack I can walk through
legless walking, how this body could fly
and land safely

what if our solar system was too hot
and we needed the opposite of the sun
to make earth cool enough to live on

what if the only places to live on this planet
were at the equator, what new ways
would we divide time, how would we
vary our wardrobes, what would be
peak vacation times, our birthdays
would be our personal new years

what if the only places to live on this planet
were at the equator, would I get adventurous
or systematically imaginative

About the Author: dan raphael’s poetry collection In the Wordshed will published by Last Word Press this November. More recent poems appear in Fireweed, Trampoline, Rasputin, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and Unlikely Stories. Most Wednesdays dan writes and records a current events poet for The KBOO Evening News.

Image Credit: Ferdynand Ruszczyc “Winter Tale” (1904) Public domain image courtesy of Artvee