About the Author: Rocío Iglesias is a queer Cuban-American poet. Her work has appeared in various print and electronic publications and can most recently be found in Brave Voices Magazine and the Piker Press. She lives, breathes, and works in Minneapolis, MN.
The moon’s blank tambourine
amplifies the drizzle’s guitar—
fragile droplets bruised become
sunlit wires of rain. The rising
world finds ruined fountains,
broken stonework converted
to carry running streams.
The wounded sleep to dream
again, when the day’s pain
assembles then disbands.
Loss stretches forward
to its instruments, unpacks
the stars, unravels the tide.
Morning pools the night.
About the Author: Yvonne Morris lives and works in a small town in Kentucky. Her most recent chapbook is Busy Being Eve (Bass Clef Books, 2022). Her work has appeared in The Galway Review, The Santa Clara Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, The Wild Roof Journal,The Write Launch, and elsewhere.
Cancer Song #9
your first mri
you have to be pulled out 3 times
hardly able to breathe
now they place a towel over your face
& offer you a warm blanket
& some easy listening music
piped into your headphones
& it almost feels like you’re on vacation
& you dream about staying in there forever
safe from the outside world
somewhere cancer & time can’t follow you
& you think about squeezing a button
& ordering a cold drink
& asking about the inflight movie.
About the Author: John Dorsey is the former poet laureate of Belle, Missouri and the author of Pocatello Wildflower. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the Ledge
Minny reaches her arm out
the open window, sets
a glass of water next to me.
Head stretched as far into the air
as possible, she speaks but
never says, Come back in,
only talks about my kids, my cat,
how the blues and grays of my rug
swirl together like glass
in a kaleidoscope,
asks me what I use to clean it.
She piles one small word
upon another on that ledge,
dissolves the ugly
that pushed me out here.
Jimmy bends to slip
through the open window,
eyes wide, breath held
until he sits next to me,
What now, he whispers,
reaches for my hand,
waits for my answer.
Silence wraps the air
around us like a sweater.
He squeezes my hand,
looks at me, waits,
sweaty palm holding tight,
for a minute, an hour, a day
until I decide.
About the Author: Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in As It Ought To Be, Loch Raven Review, One Art, Young Ravens Literary Review, Spank the Carp, The New Verse News, Bombfire Lit, Rat’s Ass Review, Muddy River Poetry Review, Sanctuary, and others. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her first chapbook, Ready or Not, was published by Finishing Line Press in October of 2020.
Image Credit:Jacek Malczewski “Sketch of a Woman in the Window” Public domain image courtesy of Artvee.
The Pope Coffin
I do not know whether dad
believed in heaven.
He had a sense for the sacred.
Sometimes all you see is the fruit;
the root remains secret.
My father never discussed death,
except to say he wanted a coffin
like Pope John Paul II: clear
lines, no frivolous embellishments –
an architect’s choice.
The minister spoke about the city-to-come,
solemn and hopeful, consoling
without the saccharine promises
dad would have hated. One must leave
space for uncertainty.
About the Author: Agnes Vojta grew up in Germany and now lives in Rolla, Missouri where she teaches physics at Missouri S&T and hikes the Ozarks. She is the author of Porous Land, The Eden of Perhaps, and A Coracle for Dreams, all published by Spartan Press. Most recently, she has been collaborating with eight other poets on the book Wild Muse: Ozarks Nature Poetry (Cornerpost Press, 2022.) Her poems have appeared in a variety of magazines; you can read some of them on her website agnesvojta.com.
About the Author: A past winner of the Jim Harrison Award for contributions to baseball literature, Tim Peeler has also twice been a Casey Award Finalist (baseball book of the year) and a finalist for the SIBA Award. He lives with his wife, Penny in Hickory, North Carolina, where he directs the academic assistance programs at Catawba Valley Community College. He has published close to a thousand poems, stories, essays, and reviews in magazines, journals, and anthologies and has written sixteen books and three chapbooks. He has five books in the permanent collection at the Baseball Hall of Fame Library in Cooperstown, NY. His recent books include Rough Beast, an Appalachian verse novel about a southern gangster named Larry Ledbetter, Henry River: An American Ruin, poems about an abandoned mill town and film site for The Hunger Games, and Wild in the Strike Zone: Baseball Poems, his third volume of baseball-related poems.
Image Credit: John Collier Jr, “Childersburg, Alabama. Rooms for rent” (1942) Public domain image courtesy of the Library of Congress
she was a piece of us like a nose
feeling with her tongue for little bones,
if it was fish
mami's skin mingles with the drooping gown
a teta is not a breast
not even a teat
there’s a white gazebo
and the seesaw,
but we’ve come to fish,
we passed his books
brooding in the dark
the bed was empty
if I had touched him or
called to him,
he would have listened to me
and not be dead
like the moon except that
it is almost square
About the Author: Marlena Maduro Baraf’s stories and poems have been published in Sweet Lit, the Ekphrastic Review, On the Seawall, Night Heron Barks, Poets Reading the News, and elsewhere. She immigrated to the United States from her native Panama and is author of the memoir At the Narrow Waist of the World and co-author of Three Poets/Tres Poetas. She writes the blog, Breathing in Spanish, that features conversations with Latinos from all walks of life.
Image Credit:Ángel Zárraga “Basket of Plenty” (1922) Public Domain image courtesy of Artvee.
Francisco Goya's The Disasters of War: This Is the Worst
My dead stand with me before Goya’s piece,
where a wolf conspires with priests to write down
orders for the poor, suffering behind
them. The poor here starve. They beg. They freeze.
The poor are not forgotten, and that’s the trouble
with people who put on frocks and play
at sanctity. It’s the trouble with the way
wolves wait and watch their desperate struggle.
But my dead whisper to me that he’s wrong.
The trouble is also that we think beasts
walk among us, but they’re ordinary
men who have discovered that if you’re strong,
you can have your way with the weak.
We have to tamp down our own cruelty.
About the Author: John Brantingham was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ first poet laureate. His work has been featured in hundreds of magazines. He has nineteen books of poetry and fiction includinghis latest, Life: Orange to Pear (Bamboo Dart Press) and Kitkitdizzi (Bamboo Dart Press). He lives in Jamestown, New York.
Image Credit: Francisco Goya, “Esto es lo peor! (This is the worst!)” Public Domain
Magadelen with the Smoking Flame-after Georges de la Tour
You see the polished skull
settled under my now-empty womb,
the books of scripture on the desk,
the unadorned wooden cross.
You see the leather scourge.
I am the perfect lover of Christ,
correcting myself daily,
now perfect penitent.
You will not see the red welts
on my back or upper thighs,
only remorse in lowered eyes.
Sweet burn, delectable wound.
The oily candle plays its tricks,
slim shafts of light on cave walls.
Peering into shadows,
I pay respect to the power of the dark.
My mind plays tricks on me.
Is it mother, laid out at solstice,
her face plump and purple,
the monsignor saying rosary?
Or something else drawn
out of the dark night of the soul,
longing for light.
About the Author: Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, The New York Quarterly, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) and Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press).
Image Credit: Georges de La Tour “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” (1640) Image courtesy of Wikimedia
She spins her
own soft maze,
like an old radio
ON THE AIR,
of sonic silk.
At the transit heart,
veins of light,
for the pluck
of a male,
on a woven
strand of her
that will pulse
under his touch
like a radiant
and terrible lyre.
Note: The diminutive suitor, even if successful in courtship, often becomes dinner
to his cannibalistic mate.
About the Author: Dan MacIsaac writes from Vancouver Island. Brick Books published his collection, Cries from the Ark. His poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including, most recently, in America, Valley Voices, Manzano Mountain Review and Poetica’sRosenberg Award Collection.