Mike James: “Saint Jayne Mansfield”

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About the Author: Mike James makes his home outside Nashville, Tennessee. He has published in numerous magazines throughout the country in such places as Plainsongs, Gargoyle, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Chiron Review. His fifteen poetry collections include: Journeyman’s Suitcase (Luchador), Parades (Alien Buddha), Jumping Drawbridges in Technicolor (Blue Horse), First-Hand Accounts from Made-Up Places (Stubborn Mule), Crows in the Jukebox (Bottom Dog), My Favorite Houseguest (FutureCycle), and Peddler’s Blues (Main Street Rag.) He served as an associate editor of The Kentucky Review and currently serves as an associate editor of Unbroken.


More By Mike James:


Paul Lynde

Oh Daddy, Give Me A Quarter For The Time Machine


Image Credit: Digital Photo Art of a public domain photo of Jayne Mansfield by Chase Dimock

Jeff Hardin: “A Word That Means Standing Between Each Moment”




I dreamed I was speaking every language,
no one a stranger, and then I woke to find
the same few words I assemble my life around.

Overnight a dusting of snow has settled into leaves,
into crooks of oaks in the side yard. It takes years 
sometimes to know what sifts down into my thoughts.

Having lived this long has granted me few answers.
I’ve been given only new questions and less
confidence in anything but my own inadequacy.

If only it were possible to pause between each
moment and weigh the implications of what 
came before against what is now coming to be.

I laugh to think of how I once labored to memorize
a poem, to embody its words and carry them forth
into the world. Now I remember only one word: float.


About the Author: Jeff Hardin is the author of six collections of poetry: Fall Sanctuary (Nicholas Roerich Prize); Notes for a Praise Book (Jacar Press Book Award); Restoring the Narrative (Donald Justice Prize); Small RevolutionNo Other Kind of World (X. J. Kennedy Prize), and A Clearing Space in the Middle of BeingThe New Republic, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Southwest Review, North American Review, The Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hotel Amerika, and Southern Poetry Review have published his poems. He teaches at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN.


More By Jeff Hardin:

A Namelessness of Starlings


Image Credit: Unknown Maker “Niagara” 1860s – 1880s Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Daniel Romo: “20/20”





When the regular asked how she was doing
the barista replied, Living the dream, before making
his usual drink
and isn’t that what we all do as we rely on
whatever form of faith and familiarity it is that
keeps us moving into the face of
a new day?

I just had my eyes checked for the first time because
I’m at an age where I’ve seen every hurt too clearly
and I want to ensure my vision from here on out
will allow me to recognize the victories in any battles
the younger me would’ve deemed too fatal
to fight.

My face stuffed into a machine transported me
to a world of tiny, tricky letters appearing too small
to be alive
and that’s how I feel sometimes,
overcome by a combination of consonants and vowels
teaming together to create sounds that still echo
amongst memories clanking around in a life
I’ve left behind but will never

Shouldn’t we all aspire to attain the stillness of the barista,
the one who makes the same drinks and repeats the process
in the midst of monotony and minimum wage,
her fears and misgivings swirling around inside each cup
like a never-ending threatening motion
before eventually settling at the bottom
rather than us guessing at a series of blurry symbols in our lives
trying to guess at
what we can’t see?

Her customer leaves and thanks her for his purchase and for
her sense of reverie and the barista says,
I’ll keep it as long as I can
and the optometrist says I’ll need reading glasses
in the next few years,
both of us making out all that is in front of us
the way we want to see it
whether in the distance,
or right under our noses.


About the Author: Daniel Romo is the author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press 2019), When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014), and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). His poetry can be found in The Los Angeles Review, PANK, Barrelhouse, and elsewhere. He has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and he is an Associate Poetry Editor at Backbone Press. He lives and teaches in Long Beach, CA.


More by Daniel Romo:

The Main Event


Image Credit: Conrad Poirier “Paul Legendre looks in a sextant” (1944) Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Victor Clevenger: “Milkman’s Mustache”



Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of poems by Victor Clevenger about his son, nicknamed “The Milkman”



Milkman’s Mustache

i offer him a razor for the first time

he declines it 
like a thirsty hound from hell 
when offered holy water

turning his head from side to side 
in front of a bathroom mirror 

admiring something that looks quite fragile in its infancy

like spiderwebs the color of rust 
that spell out the word masculinity 
in a thin font stretched 

across his cracked lips


About the Author: When not traveling on highways across America, Victor Clevenger spends his days in a Madhouse and his nights writing poetry.  He lives with his second ex-wife, and together they raise children in a small town northeast of Kansas City, MO.  Selected pieces of his work have appeared in print magazines and journals around the world, as well as at a variety of places online.  He is the author of several collections of poetry including Sandpaper Lovin’ (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2017), A Finger in the Hornets’ Nest (Red Flag Poetry, 2018), and Corned Beef Hash By Candlelight (Luchador Press, 2019).


Image Credit: Achille Devéria “Portrait of a Boy” (about 1850–1855) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Jonel Abellanosa: “Jaguar”




I dwell in your mind, your thoughts dense
as jungles, anxieties rough as the tree’s limb.
I feel at home in your deep space, seeing
through your eyes. The future furred
with silk. Hearing you speak in tongues,
I prowl your ribcage. You’ve mastered
the language of bats. Blood vessels I trace,
stream echoes, sounds of the moonbeam.
If I smell self-doubt I drag the deer up.
No hunter finds your anger, your calm
silent as my tiptoes. I crouch behind you.
Speak truth to power. Vultures circle
but they’ve to cage me
before they silence you.


About the Author: Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. He is a nature lover, an environmental advocate, and loves all animals particularly dogs. His poetry collections include, “Meditations” (Alien Buddha Press), “Songs from My Mind’s Tree” and “Multiverse” (Clare Songbirds Publishing House), “50 Acrostic Poems,” (Cyberwit, India), “In the Donald’s Time” (Poetic Justice Books and Art), and his speculative poetry collection, “Pan’s Saxophone” (Weasel Press). He loves to self-study the sciences.


Image Credit: Illustration from “Marvels of insect life” (1916) Public Domain, courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Robert A. Morris: “Natchez Green”



Natchez Green

I was eleven, walking out past Silver Street to 
the river’s edge, headed “under the hill,” a spot
infamous for men who no longer exist and their 
transient killers.  Some say a ghost woman walked

the Mississippi, her body anchored by gold from 
her lover so she could lay beside him at the bottom 
where the bottles turned to jewels.  Looking out, I 
saw something flash, deep emerald, and unbroken, 

glittering in the river silt, waiting like a patient miracle. 
Expecting Laffite’s treasure map. Clutching the cork 
with my teeth, little boy hands twisted. The sharp too 
sour smell gave me a headache, and I stood hearing 

phantoms as the wind made the bottle coo. In the river 
debris, a hand summoning me to the water. I threw 
the bottle, which it accepted, swirling the rank liquor, 
towing it further and further from my shore.


About the Author: Robert A. Morris lives near Baton Rouge and works as a teacher.  Besides poetry, he also writes fiction and bashes out the occasional song on his blue Stratocaster. His work has appeared in The Main Street Rag, Pear Noir, and The Chaffin Review among others.  He is in the final stages of editing a chapbook titled Descending to Blue that he would like to see published in the near future.  For updates, please visit his blog  https://robertamorrisblog.wordpress.com


Image Credit: William A. Faust “Natchez Trace Parkway, Located between Natchez, MS & Nashville, TN, Tupelo, Lee County, MS” (1997)

Rob Plath “that which”



that which 

sitting on 
my old green 
she asked, 
“are you afraid”
& i replied, 
w/ out even 
asking of 
who or what 
& we lifted 
our bottles 
that which 
follows us both 
day & night 
across streets 
beneath sun
& moon
thru doors 
& down corridors 
& into rooms 
of any dimension 
& into dreams 
& moments 
of waking 
& dreams again


About the Author: Rob Plath is a writer from New York. He was once tutored by Allen Ginsberg for two years from 1995-1997.  He has published 22 books and a ton of poems in the small presses over the last 26 years. He lives with his cat and tries his best to stay out of trouble.


Image Credit: “Portrait of a Couple” Unknown Artist (1860s) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.