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: Image from: Descriptiones et icones amphibiorum. Monachii ,Stuttgartiae et Tubingae, Sumtibus J.G. Cottae Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

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

Jonathan K. Rice: “Seagull”





Seagull perches 
on a chaise lounge


overlooking ducks,
a lone coot on a small lake.

I’ve heard they’re
intelligent and long-living,

that they’ll eat 
almost anything.

They can drink saltwater,
excrete the salt

through their nostrils,
shake it from their bill.

I think of Chekhov, 
Richard Bach, Hitchcock.

Years ago I read about 
a girl who was stranded 

on a small island
with no food or fresh water.

She survived on seagulls.
Wrung their necks,

ate them raw,
drank their blood.

This seagull preens,
mournfully squawks.

Gray and white plumage
rustles in the breeze

as it gauges distance, 
spots its mate, takes off 

beyond restaurants,
dumpsters and parking lots,

flying further inland
looking for another shore.



About the Author: Jonathan K. Rice edited Iodine Poetry Journal for seventeen years. He is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Killing Time (2015), Ukulele and Other Poems (2006) and a chapbook, Shooting Pool with a Cellist (2003), all published by Main Street Rag Publishing. He is also a visual artist. His poetry and art have appeared in numerous publications, including Cold Mountain Review, Comstock Review, Diaphanous, Empty Mirror, Gargoyle, Inflectionist Review, Levure Litteraire, The Main Street Rag, Wild Goose Poetry Review and the anthologies, Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race and The Southern Poetry Anthology VII: North Carolina.


More by Jonathan K. Rice

“Springmaid Pier”


“Stravinsky in the Shower”


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “The Seagull Who Stole My Taco” (2020)

Sheila Saunders: “April Visitor”



April visitor 

High water but now calm.
A gentle Irish Sea pushes in 
halted by jumbled rocks of alien limestone
holding long dead  sea-lilies and shelled creatures
marooned  here.

And  now – the first wheatear
sharp-suited in black, white
and the purest of greys

flaunting his visibility and etched lines 
just a momentary breeze 
lifting  peach breast feathers.

Rested, after flight of oceans and continents
leaving,  swift as his coming
for inland moors

to startle with ‘whee-chak’ from drystone walls,
tail flicking, never still.    


About the Author, Sheila Saunders: An Oxford graduate in English Language and Literature, Sheila worked on local newspapers and after marriage to fellow reporter Peter, while bringing up their three children, turned to feature and freelance writing. She has always been involved in community activities, and addicted to novels, music, art and theatre. Her poetry is especially inspired by her love of natural history, and life on the Wirral coast in Hoylake.


Image Credit: Page from Naturgeschichte der Vögel Mitteleuropas, courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Sue Blaustein “A Song for Harvest Spiders”



A Song for Harvest Spiders

August – I’m by the river,
watching harvest spiders.
I squint, then focus, and I see one.
A second one comes, then a third! 

They move down the ends
of rotting logs, follow long,
softening splinters. Crossing folds 
of pearly fungus, they move.

Their legs – banded with white
gaiters (where crew socks could be)
            convey that grand caplet,
the cephalothorax. Now one’s astride 

the crinkly vertical fungus!
Skinny legs lift the feet high, step
clear of bark-bound centipedes;
and the caplets rise and dip,

            rise and dip.
I call their motion silent. But really
it isn’t. My ears just aren’t
made to hear their footfalls.

Thump! They take inaudible
steps, palping for edible tidbits.
The ladies’ eggs scrape and settle
into humus. Back-to-school season,

Halloween…                  I’ll miss you
after the freeze. Companions – miss
means that when cold days come, 
I’ll be here, but you’ll be gone.


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 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.


Image Credit: American spiders and their spinningwork. V.3, Academy of natural sciences of Philadelphia,1889-93. Image courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Seth Jani: “Forest Dream”



Forest Dream

I knelt down to touch the multiplicity
bursting from the soil. The red hoods
met my fingers. Their little figures bowed.
I dreamt of toads and the dark doors of fable,
of infectious sleep traveling the spores
of wind, of the countryside fallen into itself
forming a shadow image: inverted houses,
underground fruits, chromatic summers
blooming in reverse. And the mushrooms,
in their gnarled approximations,
running, like lunatics, through the streets.



About the Author: Seth Jani lives in Seattle, WA and is the founder of Seven CirclePress ( Their work has appeared in The American Poetry JournalChiron ReviewRust+Moth and Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Their full-length collection, Night Fable, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2018. More about them and their work can be found at


More By Seth Jani:



Image Credit: Vincent Van Gogh “Path in the Woods” (1887) Public Domain

Richard Houff: “When there’s Nothing Left to Say”



When there’s Nothing Left to Say

Picking a stone from the bed
beneath his feet, he skips them
over quiet water and counts
the rings before they sink.
At other times, he pays them
no mind. Stooping for a nice
flat one and a final throw;
he feels the texture of the stone
interweaving with his own sense
of being. This cold wet rock
carrying significance and belonging
to the nonessential; bending sunshine
hints into shadow
—moving forward


About the Author: Richard D. Houff edited Heeltap Magazine and Pariah Press Books from 1986 to 2010. He is also a journalist that’s comfortable in writing both poetry and prose. His work has been published in Academic and Arts Review, Brooklyn Review, Chiron Review, Louisiana Review, Midwest Quarterly, North American Review, Parnassus, Rattle, San Fernando Quarterly, and many other fine magazines.


More By Richard Houff:

Naked Machines


Image Credit: Eadweard J. Muybridge “Lake Tenaya. Sierra Nevada Mountains” (1872) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.


“Daily Painting, 12th June 2017” by F. E. Clark

By F. E. Clark:


We lost the far away from our eyes
peering at our precious tiny screens.
Addicted to the chatter in the blue light
we spat and growled at the slam, slam, slam,
of constant crisis, constant cries.
We marched figuratively through our newsfeeds,
wound tighter and tighter—blinded,
to that which was not inside our screens.
And all the while the earth was turning,
away, away, away.
Until we could see her
no more, and we were gone.


A scared flame of violet – burnt from a found bone,

The indigo of your first lover’s jeans,

High sky blue of a day in spring when the larks sung,

Green fired algae from the dead pond’s ditch

Yellow of the belly of the one who cowers,

Orange from the fungi that grows under the dead fox,

The red of a berry that poisons.

Plait the rainbow – red over orange, yellow over green, blue over indigo,

Tie with violet at the deepest hour of black,

Make sure you bind the rainbow’s ends tight,

When required, cast from a clifftop on a dark moon night.

“Myopia” previously appeared in Burning House Review, and “To Bring the Sky Down” previously appeared in Luna Luna Magazine. These poems appear here today with permission from the poet.

F. E. Clark lives in Scotland. She writes, paints, and takes photographs—inspired by nature in all its forms. A Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions nominee, her poetry, flash-fiction, and short stories can be found in anthologies and literary magazines.

Contributing Editor’s Note: In “Myopia,” F. E. Clark takes an existential view of what has become second nature to all of us: looking at our phones while ignoring the world around us. The poem is written in the past tense and reveals the sad outcome of having lived our lives through a few inches of screen. She exposes the profound sadness when, “We lose the far away from our eyes” and are exposed to “constant crisis, constant cries” as we respond and read social media and news feeds, while the world continues its routing rotating When we “away, away, away.” And at the same time turning its back on us. Her dystopic conclusion is that the less we participate in the world, the less we ourselves exists.

Clark regains her vision of what life can be in her poem, “To Bring the Sky Down.” Her remedy for the blindness she encountered in “Myopia” is keen observation reinforced by incantatory rhythms. What she sees when she looks closely at the world around her is remarkable. Clark finds antidotes in vivid technicolor, among the discarded, “The indigo from your first lover’s jeans”; the decayed, “Orange from the fungi that grows under the dead fox”; and the dead, “Green fired algae from the dead pond’s pitch”. She collects strands of color, plaiting them into a rainbow for eventual use in the darkest times.

Want to read more by F. E. Clark?
F. E. Clark’s Official Website
Twitter: @feclarkart
Umbel & Panicle
Mojave Heart Review
Luna Luna Magazine

Contributing Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at


After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of contributing editors, including the one featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan Butler-Rotholz, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB



By Amy Watkins

An osprey beats the wind with bowed wings,
steady till it drops and shakes in flight.
The wind catches and it rises again.
I watch from the porch where I’ve come early
to stop avoiding our father’s call. Last night,
I turned the ringer off then on then off again,
swiped down to ignore but texted back.
There are two birds in the tree across the street
and a third circling and circling, rising and falling
in the wind from a distant hurricane.
The phone rings. He wants to talk about you.

They say each bird attends to just seven others, and,
in this way, a thousand starlings turn together
like one creature. I’ll try not to make this a metaphor.
Once, you and I climbed the hills outside
Florence, Italy. Our dearest ones climbed with us
and, because we were few and each one loved
by all the others, I thought we made a kind of net
that might hold the breaking world together.
A murmuration of starlings unfurled like the aurora
borealis, a sheer curtain caught in wind,
twisting, tracing a path through twilight.

A hawk swoops low over the osprey nest.
I think it might land, but it doesn’t. You ask to meet
for coffee. Our father calls, and I don’t answer.

Today’s poem previously appeared in SWWIM and appears here today with permission from the poet.

Amy Watkins grew up in central Florida surrounded by saw palmetto and sugar sand and a big, close-knit, religious family: the kind of upbringing that’s produced generations of southern writers. She married her high school sweetheart, had a baby girl, and earned her MFA in writing from Spalding University. She is the author of two chapbooks forthcoming in 2019: Wolf Daughter (Sundress Publications) and Lucky (Bottlecap Press). Follow her on Twitter @amykwatkins.

Contributing Editor’s Note: Amy Watkin’s poem, “Murmuration,” is a coming together of worlds. First, there’s the easy mixture of nature and the modern digital world. She closely watches ospreys, how one “drops and shakes in flight. / The wind catches and it rises again.” and then “two birds in a tree across the street / and a third circling, rising and falling.” These innate animal behaviors echo her own modern-day habits with her cell phone—“I turned the ringer on then off again, / swiped down to ignore but texted back.”

She also employs the world of the sacred and the secular, which she hints at through controlled and purposeful ambiguity in word choice. For instance, Watkins selects the homonym “bowed” for the angle of the osprey’s wings in flight. When she decides to finally take a phone call from her dad, it becomes a holy act when she arrives “early / to stop avoiding our father’s call.” Her level of her control and precision is astonishing when, for a moment, she takes herself out of the poem and cautions the reader “I’ll try not to make this a metaphor.” Of course, this line has just the opposite effect and we focus more intensely on the rich metaphors throughout the poem.

Watkins pays pays off the title of the poem in grand style describing “A murmuration of starlings unfurled like the aurura / borealis,”—a startling and beautiful image that ties everything gracefully together. “Murmuration” is an emotional and beautifully crafted poem that works on many levels. The poem rewards deeply upon close reading.

Want to read more by and about Amy Watkins?
Red Lion Sq.
Burrow Press
Glass: A Journal of Poetry
Drunk Monkeys
Emrys Journal

Contributing Editor Alan Toltzis is the author of The Last Commandment. Recent work has appeared in print and online publications including Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and Cold Noon. Find him online at


After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, it is an honor and a unique opportunity to share this space with a number of contributing editors, including the one featured here today. I am thrilled to usher in an era of new voices in poetry as the Managing Editor of this series.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan Butler-Rotholz, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB