Jason Baldinger: “hymn to groundhog day”





hymn to groundhog day

this café is contrary
a strange anomaly in a land of diners
walls paper brick with watercolor mustangs
one calendar, two posters of the hulk
one hulk decal on the cooler
I wonder about the calendar to quality ratio
    an equation mastered in blue highways
then wonder how many hulk posters equal a calendar

the waitress says her son raises groundhogs
I don’t know what to say
maybe she’s fucking with me
I look deep in the hulk’s eyes
this year he has forty-two groundhogs
I say, that sure is a lot of groundhogs

bessemer tunnels and carbon snow
a few towns away
my mother’s family settled in the 1850’s
dropping the A and E
dropping the family crest
marrying into a family with a township named after them

a yellow sign juts from the snow in surrender
I miss the america I grew up in
I want to believe this is a statement
on a widening gap in equality
on the erosion of class
on the working persons giving everything away
on the ways we allow government to fail
     in not mandating social responsibility

instead, it’s another absurd conservative screed
about the good old days that never were
times when people went to church
family values happened and abortions didn’t

the stop signs have addendums
one says stop touching me
another stop, hump me
the last stop and dance
these winter messages so conflicted

I hunt frozen snakes along the kiskiminetas
here in the bleak of february
I fill myself with enough gray
to crush the restlessness that grows each snow

ten hours after the groundhog
he saw his shadow
so did this town

there is no evidence this civilization
still tries to understand weather
through the eyes of animals



About the Author: Jason Baldinger is from Pittsburgh and looks forward to roaming the country writing poems again. His newest books are A Threadbare Universe (Kung Fu Treachery Press) and The Afterlife is a Hangover (Stubborn Mule Press). A History of Backroads Misplaced: Selected Poems 2010- 2020 (Kung Fu Treachery) is forthcoming later this year. His work has been published widely across print journals and online. You can hear him read his work on Bandcamp and on lp’s by The Gotobeds and Theremonster.


More Poetry by Jason Baldinger:

This Ghostly Ambience

It was a Golden Time

Beauty is a Rare Thing



Image Credit: Image originally from The quadrupeds of North America. v.1. New York,V.G. Audubon,1851-54. Courtesy of The Biodiversity Heritage Library. Public Domain.

Greg Field “White”






Who can hold the color of the moon,
a porcelain saucer of sweet cream?
The curse of skin at times translucent,
blue veins like gold coursing through quartz.
Pink and red meat glow through with promise.
Its tide of tumbling spindrift seeking
to dissolve all else, to consume even people
poking along in the sand.
Wading through snow carrying thick black books
with tiny type flowing through pages
like marauding ants snapping at the air
they spread through forests and plains,
a seething blizzard that demands
of all falling under, the pure flag of surrender.



About the Author: Greg Field is a writer, artist, and musician living in Independence, Missouri with his wife, poet Maryfrances Wagner.  His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies to include New letters and Chiron Review.  His new book, from Mammoth Press, is Black Heart, which focuses on his Native American heritage.  He is a co-editor of the I-70 Review.  His paintings are in private collections all over the country.  He plays drums for the improvisational jazz band River Cow Orchestra.


Image Credit: John Henry Twachtman “Snow” (public domain)

Sam Barbee: “Hybrid”





After blight, our chestnut forests
rotted.  Their shadows now emerge,
suffering in furniture and mirror frames,
within unconsecrated slights of legend.

A ring of scientists now cross-breed
remaining Chestnuts with a Chinese genus,
conjuring a stubborn breed, not quite clones,
but another noble effort resistant to demise.

Wooden spooled crib where our grandchild lies
hosts our echo, a remnant thrashing
versus what life will offer, wandering on
with the deceased against what wind strikes down.

So much put asunder, crumbling stumps
rootless and toothless beneath heaven
in a forest felled in microscopic confusion,
among graves where the mighty stood.



About the Author: Sam Barbee’s poems have appeared Poetry South, The NC Literary Review, Crucible, Asheville Poetry Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina, Georgia Journal, Kakalak, and Pembroke Magazine, among others; plus on-line journals Vox Poetica, The Voices Project, Courtland Review, and The New Verse News. 

His second poetry collection, That Rain We Needed (2016, Press 53), was a nominee for the Roanoke-Chowan Award as one of North Carolina’s best poetry collections of 2016.  He was awarded an “Emerging Artist’s Grant” from the Winston-Salem Arts Council to publish his first collection Changes of Venue (Mount Olive Press); has been a featured poet on the North Carolina Public Radio Station WFDD; received the 59th Poet Laureate Award from the North Carolina Poetry Society for his poem “The Blood Watch”; and is a Pushcart nominee.


Image Credit: Illustration originally from Curtis’s Botanical Magazine.London ; New York [etc.] : Academic Press [etc.]. Image Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Public Domain

Sue Blaustein: “Rest In Peace”





Rest in Peace

Forsythias come into bloom. Then magnolias.
This is the week it happens.

Early evening  – radio drivetime – I
head south on Holton Street.

The ad on the back
of the bus I’m following

is CALL 411-PAIN.
That’s easy to remember!

411 is kind of like 911, and PAIN
            is self-explanatory.

The whole bus – for this ad – is a puke pink.
Puke pink 411-PAIN. The bus and I

cross Auer Avenue, where a magnolia
            rules the northeast corner.

Timing! The blossoms, the bus, the blossoms…
            pink, puke pink, pink.

The tree fades in my rearview.
I still follow the bus, puke pink PAIN for my eyes.

For my ears and tender heart –
drivetime reports of celebrity deaths.

An NBA legend’s son lost at 33,
from asthma. Asthma? With all the drugs they have?

Steroids, non-steroids, inhalers…
On TV, asthma is vanquished. Or at least tamed. 

Then, an actor. He was in his eighties –
old enough to go. Notable because,

as the deejay explained, He played
Cousin Itt on the Addams Family. 

Rest in Peace, Cousin Itt.
The deejay spoke with respect, 

yet you could tell it was fun for him
to say Cousin Itt so solemnly.

Blossoms, a puke pink bus, 411 PAIN
for my eyes. And, for my ears

and sore heart Rest in Peace, Cousin Itt.
It gentled an April afternoon. 



About the Author: Sue Blaustein is the author of “In the Field, Autobiography of an Inspector”. Her publication credits and bio can be found at www.sueblaustein.com. Sue retired from the Milwaukee Health Department in 2016, and is an active volunteer. She blogs for ExFabula (“Connecting Milwaukee Through Real Stories”), serves as an interviewer/writer for the “My Life My Story” program at the Zablocki VA Medical Center, and chases insects at the Milwaukee Urban Ecology Center.


More by Sue Blaustein:

A Song for Harvest Spiders

A Song for Noise

The Old Ways


Image Credit: Digitally enhanced illustration from “Annales de la Société royale d’agriculture et de botanique de Gand” Société royale d’agriculture et de botanique,1845-1849. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Creative Commons License 2.0.



Guy Elston: “Green”






The strawberry advertised itself
early, already edible (if not truly
ready) in late May.
I’d already been warned,
monitored when on the patio
where the planters sat: Hands off!
Berries need time to grow, Gub,
and care, like this little red one;
in a month he’ll be ruby-rosacea,
with a white seed in every pore.
Always time, always care; too late
for the one I’d kept tucked at the back
beneath a blanket of young leaf,
tart and still with its crunch.
Next summer, secret-sick, gut-
knotted, I’d pluck myself completely;
for now, I wiped my fingers
on my jeans and passed the salt.



About the Author: Guy Elston is a British teacher and writer currently living in Toronto. His poetry has been included by The Moth, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Honest Ulsterman, Anthropocene, Rust + Moth and other journals. He was commended in the 2020 Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.


Image Credit: Digitally enhanced illustration from Flore d’Amérique,. Paris, Gihaut [1843-1846]. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library Creative Commons License 2.0.

Eric Burgoyne: “Witnessing the Arrival”





Witnessing the Arrival

My wife sleeps alone as
the meandering breeze
rustles palm fronds framing
a gibbous moon.

Across the road, gazing
into anthracite sea, I stand
on the beach listening
to instant echoes of the

Soft crunch and shatter of
waves meeting the reef
forty yards offshore, reflecting
on the beauty of life.

Those waves survived thousands
of miles punished by unrelenting
winds before transcending
the Hawaiian Trench.

Reaching our resting island
in the middle of the night
relieved someone is present to
witness their arrival.

Thinning lunar light leaves
faint shadows on the sand
as I walk home to my wife
in her relieved repose.

Reunited after our years apart.
As a lost wave gratefully
reaching solid ground, anxious to
embrace and caress its warmth.



About the Author: Eric Burgoyne is a poet living in Haleiwa, Hawaii. His degrees are from Reading University, Berkshire, England, and the University of Utah. Later this year he completes a master’s degree in Creative Writing from Teesside University, Middlesbrough, England. When not writing and reading he’s surfing, motorcycling, or chasing his grandchildren.


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Hawaiian Waves” 2019

Melody Wang: “All That My Mother Cultivates”





All That My Mother Cultivates  

On the morning of his death, my mother: a lone
cypress, statuesque in her mourning
even as rising smoke clouded her vision

Plum blossoms cast downward, she morphed
into a resolute blackthorn boasting branches
bursting with tales of courage amid darkness

Autumn crept in and she invited the lost
to harvest her fruit as the fading world
oscillated between darkness and light

She teaches me how to forage wild fennel
and radish greens — the spiced aroma of anise waltzes
with a subtle mustard melody of earth-warmed resilience

Umbel flowers extend proud heads upward,
amber brilliance quivering over parched land.
We delight in spotting whimsical wood sorrel

Heart-shaped leaflets grouped in threes
fold up at night and unfurl again
with the sleepy smile of dawn

As golden hour illuminates the first buds
of magnolia, sporadic blooms appear,
eager to take in the first rains of June

Amid the deserts of Southern California,
an unmistakable fragrance permeates
the night air, not soon to be forgotten.



About the Author: Melody Wang currently resides in sunny Southern California with her dear husband. In her free time, she dabbles in piano composition and also enjoys hiking, baking, and playing with her dogs. She can be found on Twitter @MelodyOfMusings.


Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image of a Magnolia from Curtis’s Botanical magazine. London ; New York [etc.]  Academic Press [etc.]. Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Creative Commons License 2.0.

Jonel Abellanosa: “Marbled Cat-Eyed Snake”



Marbled Cat-Eyed Snake

And aren’t my skin’s patterns
from the mandala? From a magic
carpet. Spots of my scales glisten
reddish-brown, dark brown, chestnut.
My whitish underside spotted with brown.
I’m a marvel of colors, created
by the sun and the moon gods
for your lucid dreams, light-edged
shine of your vision. I’m transitory,
like mist that rides the wind’s carpet.
By the time you realize
you’ve seen me, I’m gone.
You know where to find
me in your dream’s gardens.
There, I’m not shy, don’t
scuttle easily away.



About the Author: Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, The Philippines. His poetry and fiction are forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review, Chiron Review and Eunoia Review; and appeared in hundreds of magazines, including As It Ought to Be, The Lyric, Thin Air, Rigorous, Loch Raven Review and The Anglican Theological Review. His poetry collections include, “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York), “50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art, Florida), and his speculative poetry collection, “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press, Texas). His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net Awards.


More by Jonel Abellanosa:




Image Credit: Digitally enhanced image from: Descriptiones et icones amphibiorum. Monachii ,Stuttgartiae et Tubingae, Sumtibus J.G. Cottae Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Creative Commons License 2.0.

Sonya Wohletz: “Piñon Tree”


Piñon Tree

In the old schoolyard there is a piñon tree,
Stooped and curled in the palm of a gentle slope,

A shelter where we drew alliance from a shadow.
We prognose her promises in fine-twigged fingers

viscid and clear issuing forth from the strips
Of bark that flays itself in offering to the sun.

A flame incandescent with the need for rain
Cries hoarse in the blue cradle of a desert noon.

I throw pumice stones in ellipse, one by one, then air—
powdered cast-offs patterning an elegant script

Across skins, telling of a heart, the vixen vein, or dog dream.
I didn’t aim for anyone there among the rabbit

Brush, amidst the smell of Easter and all the shells
Of the first story cracking open. A fragile yolk

that cannot be responsible for what I see entrailed.
This, the shrine that carves itself into a waking earth

With its slicing axis of damp and salt. The maternal blood
Swallowing speech into its quiet palace. I wonder how

Sorrow and pain have shaped the throat of grace. The
Blood council warns: “Do not invite anger here,
deceit, nor regrets. do not dissolve the home we are
Making for you here in thought.” I’ve

Lost the thread now of a poem where I stand beside
A boy or a tree and confront all of the deaths

I could not watch, the mother of each that places
Doubt on the cool ground beneath that tree,

Who places the rocks in my hand, who speaks
The word for throw in the language of forgiveness.



About the Author: Sonya Wohletz is a writer and researcher whose interests include colonial Latin American art, the motions of the planets, bats, the weather. Her work has appeared in Latin American Literary Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Unlimited Literature, and others.


Image Credit: William Bell “Piñon tree, Kanab Cañon, Utah” (1872) The Library of Congress

Peggy Turnbull: “The River’s Gift”




The River’s Gift

Once a girl found her way
in the evening, down a grassy path
that sloped and stopped beneath a bridge,
where she kneeled
on a beam of concrete shaped
like a mother’s apron
and dipped a jar
into the river’s mouth.

When her sample revealed
its pig-sty aroma,
the boys in seventh grade science
crowned her their goddess of gross,
admiring her
for the rest of the period
as she leaned to her notebook and microscope.

That was enough.
What did she care about adoration?
She’d just discovered microbes.




About the Author: Peggy Turnbull is an academic librarian turned poet who makes her home in the Great Lakes ecoregion of the U.S./Canada. Kelsay Press recently published her first chapbook, The Joy of Their Holiness. She has poems in recent issues of Poppy Road Review, Bluepepper, Mad Swirl, and Writing In a Woman’s Voice. Her favorite hobby is to take long walks.


More by Peggy Turnbull:

Night Ferry


Image Credit: Carol Highsmith: “The 225-foot-long Saco River Bridge, a covered bridge over the Saco River in Conway, New Hampshire. Built in 1890, the Paddleford-style truss bridge includes added arches and has a posted six-ton limit for crossing vehicles.” (2017) The Library of Congress