“I forgot the earth and heaven” By Jason Baldinger



I forgot the earth and heaven

every morning this 
city introduces me 
to a new shade of gray

I’m wearing a t-shirt
of an old friends
long dead country band

the ocean’s a rocks glass
overfull with ice
a trick to sterilize the taste

I saw a crass sticker
on a kia soul
a voice in my head says maniacal laugh

there’s a pitcher of beer
waiting for me
I’m almost sure its a cry for help

she drops her head on my shoulder
irrigation systems, telegraph poles
I say, I love you, sorry yr suffering

it should be a regular greeting
in this cathedral
the noise is unbearable


About the Author: Jason Baldinger is a poet from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He was recently a Writer in Residence at Osage Arts Community, and is founder and co-director of The Bridge Series. He has multiple books available including the soon to be released The Better Angels of our Nature (Kung Fu Treachery) and the split books The Ugly Side of the Lake with John Dorsey (Night Ballet Press) as well as Little Fires Hiding with James Benger (Kung Fu Treachery Press). His work has been published widely in print journals and online. You can listen to him read his work on Bandcamp on lps by the bands Theremonster and The Gotobeds.


Photo Credit: Lee Russell “Native of Olga, Louisiana drinking at the bar. Note the branch of tree used as a mosquito switch” (1938) The Library of Congress

“Old Notebooks” By Hugh Blanton



Old Notebooks

Pulling those old notebooks out –
looking at the journal entries of 30 years ago.
Notebooks scribbled in during the worst times of my life.

There I was getting a job.
Less than a page later I was fired.
Not to worry – there at the bottom of that very same page 
I got another job. Two pages later – fired again.
Repeat for months and years on end –
peppered with assurances that I would do better –
that I knew exactly where I had gone wrong.

Tallying up all the credit card debt.
My debt was triple what I made in a year –
maybe not a lot by typical American standards –
but it killed me.

Those old notebooks were college ruled –
enabling me to get more bullshit onto the page.
Their spiral coils – now rusted –
barely allow the pages to be turned without being torn.

Why was I writing all of that down?
Sitting in that tiny filthy room –
writing down all my real failures
and fake promises.
Nothing ever got better.
Even when I found an employer
who didn’t fire me for years –
I remained broke and miserable.

Dragging out thirty-year-old notebooks
is an effortless way to let pessimism defeat me.



About the Author:  Hugh Blanton lives in San Diego, California and combs poems out of his hair in the moments he can steal away from his employer’s loading dock. He has appeared in Bottom Shelf Whiskey, Dope Fiend Daily, and Terror House Magazine.


Image Credit: Portrait of an Unidentified man in smoking jacket seated holding a feather-quill pen. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“In the Drowned Woods” By Anna Saunders



In the Drowned Woods

It’s not as if we were together long I tell my heart,
but it isn’t listening. 

In the drowned woods long blades of garlic 
have been crushed by the storm
and wild white flowers float like tiny water lilies.  

A bough drips ivy and clings on to another tree trunk
like a drowning man grasping his rescuer’s arm. 

The pine tree is full of Goldfinches, their high pitched song 
sounds like squabbling. There is a dove, fluttering to a settle. 

A male bird flies down and lands on the back of the female.

There’s a fury of pearl and platinum, 
a flourish of wings like sheets flapping or skirts billowing up.

The coupling is brief, but beautiful,
and in the spring light, the birds resemble angels. 

I have all the symptoms of grief. 
But oh – the memory of two creatures colliding, 
that airborne heat, 
before both creatures flew off into separate skies.


About the Author: Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox (Indigo Dreams) and Ghosting for Beginners (Indigo Dreams, Spring 2018). Anna has had poems published in journals and anthologies, which include Ambit, The North, New Walk Magazine, Amaryllis, Iota, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology, Eyeflash, and The Museum of Light. Anna is the CEO and founder of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. She has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue.


Image Credit: Frederick H. Evans “Near Coldharbour” (1893) Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

“Hound Speak” By Damian Rucci



Hound Speak

At 3am
the hounds are let out for lunch
we bark, growl, bare teeth
howl at the lone cars on the highway

we’re comrades in this spiritual war
poor derelicts fighting to find self
in those hours before mourning

on those breaks in between
we drink what we can
sniff what we find, smoke
until our lungs combust

the ones who have it
take care of those who don’t

we jump in temporary freedom
until the time-clock
beckons us back inside

in those hours on the sales floor
you have time
to think, reflect
on all those dark things
you try and ignore in the sun

the things you say have weight
under those fluorescent lights
like bees buzzing between
your ears, you must address them

when the morning comes
we emerge, gaunt, pale
eyes cowering from the light
scurrying off to our homes

we sleep the day away
ignore the ones we love
carry the hurt, close to our chests
and breath again at midnight

this is less of a job
this is a way of life
we may not be able to hide
away from the world forever
but we sure are trying.


About the Author: Damian Rucci’s work has recently appeared in Cultural Weekly, Beatdom, Big Hammer, and coffee shops and basements across the country. He is an author of three chapbooks and a split Former Lives of Saints with Ezhno Martin. Damian hosted the Poetry in the Port reading series, currently hosts the Belle Ringer Open Mic and is a poet in residence at the Osage Arts Community in Belle, Missouri. He can be reached at damian.rucci@gmail.com


More by Damian Rucci: 

Melancholy & The Afterglow

One for Cory


Image Credit: “Steeplechase Pier night, Atlantic City, New Jersey” Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by John Margolies

“Billy Collins Stole My Memories” By Nathan Graziano


Billy Collins Stole My Memories

You can have them. I won’t press charges. 
I won’t miss most of them—the church pews
polished with Pine-Sol, the blandness 
of the Eucharist, the briny taste of guilt;
the dope then Suboxone then withdrawals;
the suicide attempt followed by a week
in the psych ward staring out the window 
as the cops approached a trap house, guns
drawn; the warm flesh of my infidelities. 
This morning I made breakfast without memories
or eggs or butter or a block of sharp cheddar. 
My kids didn’t notice that I was barefoot 
and Billy Collins was wearing my moccasins. 
But this strictly a no-return policy interaction. 
Everything is yours now, Billy. Don’t fuck it up.


About the Author: Nathan Graziano lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, with his wife and kids. His books include Teaching Metaphors (Sunnyoutside Press), After the Honeymoon (Sunnyoutside Press) Hangover Breakfasts (Bottle of Smoke Press in 2012), Sort Some Sort of Ugly (Marginalia Publishing in 2013), and My Next Bad Decision (Artistically Declined Press, 2014), Almost Christmas, a collection of short prose pieces, was recently published by Redneck Press. Graziano writes a baseball column for Dirty Water Media in Boston. For more information, visit his website: www.nathangraziano.com.


More By Nathan Graziano:

Homework on Uranus

Explaining Depression To My Cousin



Image Credit: Bainbridge Colby, silhouette from The Library of Congress. Public Domain.

“A Familial Scene” By Tiffany Troy



A Familial Scene

In the flat hills of the village
Next to the tiny streams irrigating the wheat
The sweat hangs, clinging.
Like tears—cleaving skin—to that tight white blouse
Before dropping to the ground the hour before dark
As the hornpipe and the heart swell with yearning
Waiting for the hour to sit down as the blood-orange red sun sits 
Momentarily in the embrace of the hay 
As the colors of the world drained away by the shoulder aching
Until at last that salmon roe of a sun finally bursts
Letting out all that is glowing, glistening, 
bulging, bleeding, burning
the riding hood in scarlet face facing against the sun, still
waiting for the prodigal son.

Her brother. 
Returning but never 
returning from his adventures with women.
Her scythe will one day take her father away, she thought,
as the sun ravaged her baby white skin, toughed it, burned it.
Like her pink soft lips. 

A moment of translucent clarity–that boundary of brown–
That all colors melt to 
like the ground–dappled with her sweat.
Yet at the beginning of darkness, she sees, distinguishes still:
The purple dome and the church she never saw, and had no use for.
For that was the color that lured her brother away.
She had no use for that grandiosity.
She wondered if she still retains faith in Father,
When the sun sets and the moon comes by
And the silence of the night perturbs memory
Of Father who knew it all and talked
but was powerless
to stop the destruction of his son.


About the Author: Tiffany Troy is a poet based in Flushing, Queens. Her poems have appeared in Chrysanthemum, Portales, Tabula Rasa, Quarto, and the Underground and have been awarded the Core Scholar Prize and Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts. She is a CA/T Community Class participant since 2017. This poem was written in the Art of Ekphrasis, taught by Emma O’Leary in Spring 2019.


Image Credit: Jules Breton The Song of the Lark (1884) Public Domain

“Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship” By Scott Silsbe



Poem for Demetrius M. Salada, Admiral (RA) of the Golden Arc Spaceship

Admiral Salada, I don’t know if it’s really true—
if the Golden Arc that you built got you to space.
By chance, I found myself in a small apartment
in Braddock Hills sifting through what remained
of your library—books rescued, I was told, from 
a house fire. Some of the better titles I noticed…
Experiences of Space in Contemporary Physics.
The Harmonics of Sound, Color, and Vibration.
Extraterrestrial Contact and Human Responses.
Effects of Nuclear War on the Pittsburgh Area.

The man who was selling the books handed me 
your old business card, which is how I know of
The Golden Arc. That and his story about how 
you just vanished one day after years and years
of telling people that you were building yourself 
a way to leave this cracked earth, busted world,
this unsustainable planet we’re breaking to shards.

I hope that your spaceship held up and got you 
to wherever it was that you were heading for.
I now keep your business card in my wallet as 
a conversation piece, as a souvenir from my job
to show off to people I meet. And I guess as a
small piece of your life, which I know little of—
just a small fragment from someone who had hope
of another world that was obtainable, if very distant.
Someone who didn’t care if people thought he was
stupid, crazy, or a dreamer of otherworldly dreams.


About the Author: Scott Silsbe was born in Detroit. He now lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have been collected in three books—Unattended FireThe River Underneath the City, and Muskrat Friday Dinner. He is also an assistant editor at Low Ghost Press.


Image Credit: “Le voyage dans la lune, en plein dans l’œil!!”, a drawing by Georges Méliès of the vessel landing in the moon’s eye in the film Le voyage dans la lune Public Domain