Marc Frazier

On Any Given Day You Are

An upside-down baseball cap—a turtle on its back
Blue cloth napkins folded like sails on bread plates in a Greek restaurant 
White hydrangeas craving water
Heartbreak in a child over the canceled birthday party
A pot-bound peace plant reaching for more room
As trendy as torn-up jeans with ripped pockets
Picasso in his striped shirt with palms on the window glass
A curio cabinet added to after each new death
A tiny silver pitcher of cream on a silver tray a la Vienna
Quebec’s motto: je me souviens
Watercolor paintings on red and yellow walls
The rowboat that flows through toddlers’ stories
The hard-to-get-at sweetness of sugarcane
Yellow lilies and blue iris exciting suburban yards
Heat from a tinfoil tan reflector held under the chin
My confidence in someone else’s flight plan


Marc Frazier has widely published poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, and Poet Lore. Marc, a Chicago-area, LGBTQ+ writer is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a “best of the net.” He has appeared in the anthology New Poets from the Midwest. Marc’s three poetry collections are available online.

Michael L. Ruffin

The Perch

I’ve been watching
a red-headed woodpecker.

Its occasional landing
on a place where a
tree limb used to be
transforms the ragged jut
into a majestic tower
from which the bird
surveys its future prospects.

The view is possible
only because the limb
is no longer there.
The woodpecker had
nothing to do with
the limb’s destruction
or decay, but it benefits
from its absence.

You might say that
the bird has many other
perches available to it,
and you would be right.

But in the moments
that I see it, it has
chosen that one—or
that one has chosen it—
and so it has that
particular perspective
from that particular perch
at that particular time.

I wonder if the woodpecker’s
subsequent woodpecking
involves a rhythmic “thank you”
for the unique perspectives
and opportunities that the
missing branch, whose
removal the bird had nothing
to do with, presents.

It doesn’t sound like
it’s wasting its time
wondering if it should
be pecking elsewhere.


Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and Twitter (@ruffinmichael). He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and Praying with Matthew and other books. His poetry has appeared at New Verse News, Rat’s Ass Review, 3 Moon Magazine, and U-Rights Magazine.

Two Poems by Andre F. Peltier

Injuries in Time and Space #1

One time,
walking to the car
I saw a flame of
guiding light.
It was a glowing flare
against the Olympian hordes.
It directed traffic
away from the main
Chilean event.
Mesmerized,
I waited for hours
until the van returned
packed to the gills
with teenage wanderlust.
No tears could wash away
the emptiness, the fear.
The fear took root
and has grown a sequoia:
tall, stately, unbreakable.
Farewell to those
carefree days.
And the crowd chanted,
“Chi Chi Chi
Le Le Le –
Chi-Le!
Chi-Le!
Chi-Le!”


Injuries in Time and Space #2

One time,
riding my bike,
I hit a patch of
soft sand.
It was a nasty spill.
Skidding ten feet on
my elbows and knees
and a hole opened up.
My kneecap was visible
through layers upon layers
of torn skin.
Blood mixed with sand.
I picked up my bike,
limped home.
No stitches:
there was nothing to stich.
The hole,
gaping chasm into which
we all stared,
bid farewell to those
underground days.
We stared into that
gaping chasm
and the gnarled flesh
stared back.


Andre F. Peltier (he/him) is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches literature and writing. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI, with his wife and children. His poetry has recently appeared in various publications like CP Quarterly, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Novus, About Place, and Fahmidan Journal, and most recently he has had a poem accepted by Lavender and Lime Literary. In his free time, he obsesses over soccer and comic books. @aandrefpeltier

Five Short Poems by Adam Day

WE GO QUIETLY

Moss grows
around her mouth,

grass from her tongue.
The naming action

that normally
makes sense fails;

So, let’s be quiet,
tell medium truths,

so many kinds
of truths.


BIRD-SILENT BODY

Purple and silver
thistle growing

between broken glass
and unheated stones.

Drone glow
bleaches green

from trees, air
empty but full sharp

weaponless play.


THE OTHER SILENCE

The sisters carry
darkness up

the mountain.
Silence may be

all that is
at the other end.


THE PRESENT FIRE

Suburban coyotes
caught, legs zip-tied,

dropped into
a dry well. The world

in which she finds
herself and might

define herself
does not exist;

so she does not exist
for that world. The pale

light of insufficient
answer.


WATERFALLING GENERATION

Future children
of present fire

of not enough;
leaf only a web

of veins, house’s
naked beams.


Adam Day is the author of Left-Handed Wolf (LSU Press, 2020), and of Model of a City in Civil War (Sarabande Books), and the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, and of a PEN Award. He is the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Divine Orphans of the Poetic Project, from 1913 Press, and his work has appeared in the APR, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Volt, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere.

Joshua Effiong

Schooling my heart the profit of sustaining my existence

we affirm that the mind is a museum
of our past but what do we say of
our bodies? a fleshy compartment with

hemoglobin of memories embedded in
its bone marrows. how do you sponge
your spirit off the weight of your thoughts.

i make of my skin a notepad, scribbling times
when yesterday stained today with things
that make my breath plastic. God knows how

much I love stains. the purgency deflowering
the pride of beauty, fingering the strings of
impurities to birth a tune that arouses the

ashes of decay. darling, place a stethoscope
on my chest & listen to the music choired
eloquently by the rhythmical contraction &

relaxation of my sad heart. this black boy is
cactus in a desert of colours. God knows how
much he loves stains, but not its glorified end.

i school my heart the profits of sustaining my
existence even when these pacemakers give up.


Joshua Effiong is Nigerian by birth and is studying Science Laboratory Technology at University of Calabar. He is a lover of poetry & here he finds freedom. His works has appeared/forthcoming in Eboquills, Kalahari Review, Shallow Tales Review, Rough Cut Press, Madrigal Press, Warning lines, Hearth Magazine, Mausoleum Press etc. Author of Autopsy of Things Left Unnamed. He also find joy in photography and reading. Connect with him via Instagram @josh.effiong and twitter @JoshEffiong

Three Poems by Michael Battisto

Ghosts Without Moonlight

What happens when there is no longer any moonlight
for our ghosts to belong to?
They keep trying to resettle into their old names.

They pick through scraps
of the morning’s silences.
They wait inside our mirrors

through the still afternoons,
then add their regrets together
into another evening,

where they flutter around the streetlights murmuring,
using our lost buttons as currency,
counting the syllables remaining to us.


Another Winter

Soon it will be another winter. All our voices
will be seen. The trees will no longer
offer us oxygen. The grey roads

will wrap themselves around our feet
and beg for salt. We will have to eat
from the other side of the world.

While telling fantasies to our children
to make them believe there might be
some reward to all this.

We will join with the others in the ceremonies
of renewal. Which we know mean only
that we are growing older.


Allow Yourself to Sleep

November was mourning. We remembered
the voices of friends. Now
it is the first day of winter.

The deaths continue. They are
documented. An afterlife, as a number.
We exchange one technology

of memory for another. We write
over faded photographs. Then write over
what was written. Can you remember, clearly,

the faces and names of all your lovers?
Language is an accumulation of errata.
We were writing as our friends became statistics.


Michael Battisto has work that can be found or forthcoming in About Place Journal, The Shore, Josephine Quarterly, MoonPark Review, HAD, Frogpond, and elsewhere. Born in Chicago, he has lived in New York, Wyoming, Arizona and Texas. Now he lives in Oakland, California. Find him at michaelbattisto.com.

Courtney LeBlanc

BETTER THAN SEX
~ after Marissa Glover

My mom grins, her small
teeth on full display, drops
her voice and says, It’s called
better than sex cake
. Her friends
giggle in response. I’m nine
and unsure what sex is – I know
it’s something that happens
between a man and a woman, but only
after marriage, otherwise it’s forbidden –  
I learned this in Sunday school. Sometimes
I balance naked Barbie on top of naked
Ken and put a blanket over them. 
They’re having sex, I tell my younger 
sister and she nods as if
she understands. Years later I will try this
cake and it’s so sweet my teeth ache.
I try not to think of my parent’s sex
life but when I heard my mother say
this, her smile wide as she swallowed
a piece of the confection, she had four
children at home – two teenagers
and two under ten. The cake probably
was better than their sex life.


Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79

Two Poems by Diane Callahan

Makeup Palette

Dipping into those shades of my body
the labia pinks, polished collarbone
dirt beneath fingernails, left armpit mole
the lights and darks, colors I can’t blend
or won’t
trying it on for someone else
when I’d rather be colorless
like air, breathable air
and on my own
I’ll mix as I please.


A Study in Lavender

Cut off your limbs, grow in new soil. We are the not-yet-bloomed, the shoot in your side.
They tell us to calm the nervous system, so we make lavender lemonade, put a pot on to
boil, one cup lemon juice, fresh lemons, two cups water, cold water, strained, sugar so
you can swallow it down. Lavender on the wrists of prostitutes, lavender on the tongues
of heretics, lavender days and nights at the cabaret. We prune and prune and prune, but it
never softens the energy, only entices the open flame. Let us keep our domed shape, and
take our sprigs to your neighbors, the one with the weeded garden, the other who rules
over mud, and to the stone houses still standing after the wilting of time. Lavender will
remain at the end of the world, if you let your fingers caress the dirt, if you let its
fragrance bleed into the harvest. The seeds of flowers begin with your open palm.


Diane Callahan strives to capture her sliver of the universe through writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. As a developmental editor and ghostplotter, she spends her days shaping stories. Her YouTube channel, Quotidian Writer, provides practical tips for aspiring authors. You can read her work in Translunar Travelers Lounge, Short Édition, Riddled with Arrows, Rust+Moth, The Sunlight Press, and semicolon, among others.

Two Poems by Derek Webster

Teaching

Don’t say “Geiger counter.”
Don’t say “Last night I lost a friend.”

Say “We’ll take that up tomorrow.”
Say nothing, or pretend.

Don’t ask for the note.
Don’t hear the girl who weeps.

Ask how the story should end.
Close the blinds. Repeat.


King Canute

When people talk of Canute, said my father,
they talk of his madness

and vanity, ordering his soldiers
to beat back the waves of the sea.

He was teaching them something, said my father
as we walked along the strand,

but no one was listening.


Derek Webster’s Mockingbird (Signal) was a finalist for the 2016 Gerald Lampert Award for best poetry debut. He received an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and was the founding editor of Maisonneuve. His poetry and prose have appeared in many publications including The Malahat Review, The New Quarterly, Boston Review, The Walrus, and elsewhere. He lives in Montreal.

Dan MacIsaac

Picasso’s Minotaurs

L’art n’est jamais chaste.
– Picasso

Freak unmasked
in the cubist maze.
Or a blind beast led by
dove and starlight.

Brute lurid in the labyrinth,
tuft a rampant brush.
Or a double-pronged helm
looming over a deaf-mute.

Man-bull straddling
a voluptuous sleeper.
Or behind an opaque drape,
post-coital, that sated pet.

Never a laggard ox
plodding old and numb,
hauling a cart creaky
with bored surrealists

or indifferent critics.


Dan MacIsaac writes from Metchosin. Brick Books published his collection of poetry, Cries from the Ark. His poetry has received awards including the Foley Prize from America Magazine. His work was short-listed for the Walrus Poetry Prize, The Nick Blatchford Occasional Verse Contest, and the CBC Short Story Prize. In 2020, his poems appeared in numerous journals including filling stationTrain, and Canadian Literature.