Category Archives: Final Issue

Tim J. Myers

Tim J. Myers is a writer, songwriter, storyteller, and senior lecturer at Santa Clara University. His children’s books have won recognition from the New York Times, NPR, and the Smithsonian; he has 16 out and more on the way. He’s published over 130 poems, won a first prize in a poetry contest judged by John Updike, has three books of adult poetry out and a nonfiction book on fatherhood, and won a major prize in science fiction. He won the West Coast Songwriters Saratoga Chapter Song of the Year and the 2012 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Fiction. Find him at or on Facebook at


 That Day

That Saturday morning we found out suddenly that our daughter was spending the day at a friend’s.  The phone rang, she asked if she could go, and within an hour my wife and I had kissed her, dropped her off, and were heading south on Highway 17.  The sun was shining, but not with force; diffuse gray clouds high in the west and southwest, though dim with distance, seemed poised to move forward and mist over the warmth of the day.  At first we talked intensely, as we always do at those rare times when we find ourselves alone, catching up and spilling over with all the deeper things our daily routine prevents us from looking into and sharing—especially about our children.  But with the whole day before us, a luxury we only gradually came to believe in, we began to slow ourselves, feeling the unspeakable happiness of simply being together, of having time in which to let our shared life move at its own tranquil pace.

The dense urban geometry of the Valley soon gave way to the wealthy, tree-thick neighborhoods at the foot of the coastal mountains, and the road began to climb, sweeping in tight forest-lined curves as it reached toward the summit of the low pass separating the South Bay from the coast.  For whole minutes at a time we said nothing to each other, both of us wearing slight but almost fixed smiles as our eyes took in the crowding mountain redwoods and broadleafs, the gray and bluish cast of the sky, the sunlight over that expanse of slopes and valleys and ramparts—and then, from the crest of the pass, a succession of high ridges in every direction, the lift of the peak the Ohlone called Umunhum or “Hummingbird,” farm-dotted lowlands beyond us to the south, even glimpses of the great blue flats of Monterrey Bay and the fog-barred, smoke-blue mountains on its far shores.

The sun would grow warmer, then cooler, but only by a little.  Traffic was heavy through Santa Cruz itself, but we sang to the radio, reached over and caressed each other idly from time to time, talked when something came to mind and then slipped back happily into silence.  The road was reduced to a single lane because highway workers were felling old eucalyptus trees and carrying off the cut logs; that spicy fragrance filled the air, and through our open windows we reveled in it, as we always do, even amid the whine and gas-smell of chain-saws:  its odor of wind and open space and earthy fruitfulness, a dry-country smell of spare and peppery sweetness.  Once we’d pushed to the city limits, past the fast-food places and little shops and other businesses, we turned north onto California 1.

The wild flowers along the way, even in early March, were beautiful beyond words:  that low electric-yellow kind almost burning across roadside fields and the lower slopes of the windward mountains, and then small star-like white ones, especially pure-looking against the grassy dirt sides of low roadcuts.  And of course the sea—in that light taking on a slightly dullish blue shifting at times to gray, at other times hinting, when clouds momentarily thinned, at full royal blue or indigo—and stretching as if limitless as far as we could see to west, north, and south.

From Santa Cruz the highway passes through mixed country, mostly coastal chaparral but with stands of timber everywhere, towering eucalyptus and the needle-thick grace of Monterrey pines, and, just to the east, redwood and other forests beginning as the land swells up into foothills and then mountains.  We passed Davenport, its few little neighborhood blocks set on a rise high above the ocean, gray cement plant rearing from behind a screen of trees.  As we had from the beginning of the trip—as we always do—we kept pointing it all out to each other:  Look at that little flowering tree–think it’s jacaranda? Check out the hidden canyon.  Whoa—did you see those wildflowers?—they’re practically blazing.  We pointed out farm fields on cliffs above the sea—ranch houses tucked in tree-choked narrow valleys leading down from the mountains—stands of Monterrey pine, their perfect, wind-swept dark branches—beaches glimpsed as we rushed past, sea rocks or pinnacles flashing white with sudden spray, an instant’s worth of crashing green surf, a golden expanse of sand.  Neither of us held anything back, not the least bit of excitement, of wonder, of childish happiness.  We need to bring our bikes and take that trail, we said.  We need to try that beach.  Someday we should drive that road and see where it goes.

At Ano Nuevo we bought a map and then stopped at a small gate north of the main entrance.  I brought our hurriedly-made lunch from the cooler in the back and we sat eating it in the car, looking out in beauty-hushed silence at the fields and the enormity of sea beyond them.  We were hungry; the sandwiches were delicious—turkey and Jarlsberg on sesame bagels, with lettuce, pickles, onions.  We had apples and raw carrots, felt that satisfying snap as we bit into them.  The water in our bottles tasted as fresh and clean as the day around us.  There was a slight chill in the air, that same easy battle between sun and cloud over the sea.

We put on our jackets and set out for the beach.  Everything was green with the winter rains, and rain had fallen a day or two earlier; even the tire-pounded earth of the little parking area near the gate was bursting with patches of new grass, as perfectly green as across the hillsides to the east.  Southward we could see a broad field full of the yellow wildflowers; the color shone piercing and luminous through dark bordering trees, unearthly in its radiance.  We started off along a grassy trail running straight west, low brush thick and crowding on either side of it—all the varieties of coastal flora we’ve come to love, low, earth-hugging, wind-sculpted fighters, dry in leaf and stem, delicate in shape but sturdy and storm-proof, a hundred shades of green, most of them pale or subdued, with small birds flitting in and out of their thorny or tangled sanctuaries across the breadth of seaside fields.  In places the trail was boggy; we had to cross jury-rigged bridges of small logs and old two-by-fours set in muddy sections.  We balanced; we splashed; we laughed.

At the far edge of the fields we stood on cliffs of earth only twenty or thirty feet above the beach.  It was low tide; everywhere we went along the shore the seafloor was exposed, and we realized this as we made our way south, congratulating ourselves on the luck of coming at just this time, when the great ocean had rolled back and revealed part of its hidden self.  At first we stayed up on the earthen cliffs, walking, gazing out, watching birds.  A turkey vulture skimmed the wind high above us; I told you for the umpteenth time to look for the “v” of its wings.  We laughed about that too.  Wildflowers sprinkled the grasses—the incandescent yellow ones here and there, like bits of St. Elmo’s fire strewn by a storm up beyond the beach, and another whose richer golden-yellow was subdued by hints of brown, little cupped petals amid green leaves, here and there as we hiked past.  The recent rain had made some of the cliff-edges unstable; everywhere we saw huge slices of grass-topped earth leaning away toward the sea, as if icebergs ready to calf, and some had slid away or fallen completely, tilting at crazy angles on the beach or along gully walls, grass and tall weeds still standing straight out from them, as green and alive with coming spring as if nothing had happened, as if their imminent deaths didn’t matter at all.

After a while we came to a scattered stand of trees, eucalyptus and Monterrey pine again.  A small but intense bunching of the yellow flowers, invisible till we were standing next to it, had taken hold among the whitened trunks of fallen eucalyptus.  Other trees had collapsed onto the beach as the wet ground beneath them gave way—some in previous winters—and lay there bleached and skeleton-like on fine-grained sand.  Here we found a descending trail to the beach, feeling a bit of pain in our knees as we worked our way down a steep sandy pitch covered with ice plants, the serried pale aloe-like leaves dotted with purple and raspberry-colored flowers.

It was wonder after wonder, small as a leaf, broad as the sky.  Still we kept calling each other, pointing things out.  Close to the fallen trees the first creek emptied onto the beach—small but rain-swollen and mud-colored, it burst right out of a lower section of the tawny dirt cliffs, plunging three or four feet and then rushing over an expanse of breadloaf-sized stones toward the low surf.  Its chattering among the stones was beautiful—not comely, but pure, wild, a hissing and gurgling, giving off a feeling of cold clean water, a sense of northern oceans.  And we kept crossing creeks like this—most of them probably existing only after heavy rains—but each of the five different from the rest:  one moving more quietly over smaller rocks and pebbles—another fanning directly across the sand, which it moved in endless wave-like patterns down the slight slope of the beach, creating ever-changing auroras with curtain-like spreads of black iron bits against the tan and gold, rippling and humping among a dozen little channels.

Along the open beach, wide and flat, we walked and kept looking, sniffing in the pungent sea smell and the clean wind.  For a while we’d walk close together, holding hands sometimes, reaching out and touching each other even as we’d concentrate on what we were looking at or turning over with our feet or our fingers.  Then we’d wander off in different directions, following whatever called to us, gradually looping back together—one pausing and then the other, ahead, turning and waiting—one calling, Come see this!  The tide-lifted stones massed or scattered along parts of the beach were stunning; in the slow flow of time, in the cloud-drift and endless calm breaking of the easy surf, it felt as if the whole earth were breathing in and out with the waves, a measured, contented, animal respiration—and we were part of it, could look down at this rock or that one, stoop to pick up another, brush off the sand, wash it in the channels of fresh water hurrying past, hold it up and watch the sun strike it.  It was still a bit chilly, but the walk had warmed us.

Ahead we saw a deep-brown shelf of rock, about eight feet high, set horizontally against the earthen cliffs and extending along the beach for a couple of hundred yards, broken here and there as if a floor with gaping holes in it, so that between the terrace-pieces beach sand randomly intervened, surf pushing forward in its noisy low rushes and swirling against the dark terrace bottoms.  So we climbed a small slope of hard black knobbed ground and walked the terraces.  There were tide pools here and there, brilliantly sunlit, and the terrace surface, though generally flat, was shaped in many places into fluid and art-like swellings and curvings of stone.  Much of it was riddled with small holes, probably from rock-boring sealife—and many of the hole-riddled stone mounds were filled with broken white clam or mussel shells, some ivoried by the elements, most egg-shell white.  We stood at the edges of the terraces and watched the surf break beneath us, leaping up at the rocks, foaming and receding.

On the far side of the terraces we climbed down through another low gully and walked out onto the broadest expanse of beach we’d yet come to, the ruined buildings of Ano Nuevo Island clearly visible across the surf to the southwest.  Looking to either side, we noted the colors of rocks strewn in wave-shouldered piles here and there—shades of sea-green, a brick-like nearly-ruby red that shone in the sun, various patterns of white cracked with black lines, browns cut with gold, speckled white or gray like wild birds’ eggs.  My wife found a bit of shell rich with shining nacre, layered in rough ovals as if some kind of armor; its rainbow reflections in the strengthening sunlight held us silent with awe.  I found another one, and she said we’d give it to our daughter.  Further along the beach we suddenly stopped; to the left of us, nestled cozily against a low dune, was the huge form of a napping elephant seal, log-brown and loglike, only thirty feet away.  As we watched, it raised a golden-brown flipper lazily, seeming almost to gesture, then let it drop.

So we turned around and retraced our steps, finding more rocks whose beauty we couldn’t ignore, holding them, drinking their shapes and colors in, reluctantly letting them fall to the sand again.  We paused to look up at the mountains, to watch the surf break, to seek out tide pools in the stone flats exposed here and there along the water’s edge—and always, again and again, turning our eyes out to sea, to gaze at it so long, so lovingly, so aching with its hugeness and mystery, so stunned by its weight of alien existence we could do nothing but look and look, and then turn away—half out of its eternal uneventfulness, but half out of the pain of being small and mortal and trying to understand something so gigantic in space and time.  The sun came out in earnest; the day grew warm, even hot.  She took off her jacket, I took off mine.  We tied them around our waists.  When we crossed the small beach creeks and had to wade a little, the cool of the water felt good against our feet as it came through our shoes and socks.

We kept going north, but instead of climbing up to the fields where we’d come down, we pressed on along the beach, soon finding ourselves in a moonscape of broken boulders and tide-exposed rock flats.  Here and there a pinnacle rose in the sunlight, the chalky dryness of its upper portions showing how it stood above the sea even at high tide.  But everything else across this dark jagged boneyard was sea-secret, except for now, beaming sun working half-effectually on its wet surfaces and on the remaining pools in sandy deeps or rocky bowls.  We went slowly, stepping from rock to rock, looking for flat ones, our feet wrenching to the side sometimes when a rock would shift or roll beneath us; we could feel the rock-edges through the soles of our shoes.  There were acres of this drying submarine rock, but we picked our way through, moving slowly, feeling the happiness of working our muscles, of clean sweat.  Here and there hardened sections of tide-packed sand, beige as it half-dried in the sunlight, gave us an easier path through the jumble.  We kept looking down, then looking up, placing our feet carefully but drawn again and again to the wild shapes of the rocks, the black tumbled piles, the sudden low ridges, the craggy up and down of their brief time in the open air, waves lifting their white heads beyond as if hungry to return.

Near the trail that would take us back up, we saw a man and woman sitting on a stretch of sand at the foot of one of the earthen cliffs.  They waved as we drew near, then pointed behind them to their right.  Did you see that?! the woman asked.  We drew up, looked—and stepped back involuntarily.  Fifteen feet from us, where we’d just passed, another elephant seal lay dozing in the sand.  As we spoke excitedly to the couple, the great animal raised its head, huge proboscis bobbing, and looked at us—and I marveled at the contrast between its overall blubbery ugliness and those sorrowful, liquid, pup-like eyes.

We crossed a deeper stream on piled stones, getting our feet thoroughly wet—realized we’d gone the wrong way and crossed back again—then found a narrow path leading through thick brush to the clifftop again.  My wife warned me about poison oak.  As we re-crossed the field toward the parking area, a hawk worked the chaparral off in the distance and gulls passed high overhead.  All day we’d been like the wandering gulls ourselves, or like happy dogs, running together and then apart, returning to each other—like two children playing, our minds so full of everything before us that we hardly gave a conscious thought to each other, and yet parted only to return, time and again, Look at this!  Feel this!—so alone that we were utterly together, so together that we were utterly alone—speaking relatively little (for us), and yet held together in that silence, half-hypnotized by the world, lost in the intoxication of its harsh or surging or gentle or elegant beauties.  More than once I had to call her from her sea-gazing, which threatened, as it often does, to draw the selkie-soul right out of her body, leaving only the shell of a human woman behind on the beach.

I can still feel how those slow perfect hours unwound.  And I can sense how we seemed to have stepped into Love itself—an overflowing love that filled everything with radiance—even in the early chill of a half-gray day, the raw grain of rocks, the bone-white of dead tree trunks, the waste reaches of the sea.  And the love we felt for each other, unspoken, as if invisible, was for those long silent sun-warmed hours indistinguishable from the love that burns in all things.

We came back and unlocked the van, felt the afternoon’s trapped heat inside it, started up the highway back home.  The sky overhead was now a flawless blue, almost emptied of clouds.  Our return trip was uneventful—since love, of course, isn’t an event, and the deepest satisfactions don’t happen but are.  Along the highway we watched the sea, then turned northwest back into the mountains.

Rage Hezekiah

Rage Hezekiah is a Cave Canem and MacDowell Fellow, who earned her MFA from Emerson College. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2017, and her poems have appeared in Fifth Wednesday, Columbia Poetry Review, The Cape Rock, and Mud Season Review, as well as other journals and anthologies. The forthcoming collection Nasty Women Poets: An Anthology of Subversive Verse will also feature her work. You can find more about her writing at


Playing Fetch

You pull the ball from the jowls of our dog,
his tightened teeth clenched against
a round, familiar form. Let it go, you say,

I understand his resistance. Hind claws
piercing the mud in the dooryard, his hinged jaw
determined to keep what he’s earned.

Your pas de deux, a proximal tug of war
is a mirror, the relentless grip of his maxilla
and mandible, fixed on baring down.

Life asks me to release my grasp, to trust,
and I remain unwilling. Even daily meditation
won’t relieve my fear— I’m trained to fight.

Knowing you won’t win this, I stand beside you,
rest my face on your shoulder, my palm pressed
at the small of your back. Just let him have it,

I say, and watch your hand bloom open.
At the corner of the orchard, he holds
the ragged orb firm between two paws, regal

holding court. He gnaws the prize
he’s won, satisfied. Who are we
to teach him any different?

David Greenstone

David Greenstone is a trial lawyer and a poet. He insists there is no contradiction.  His poetry has been published or publication is forthcoming in Poetica Magazine, The Blue Lyra Review, and The Mizmor L’David Anthology. David is also co-author of the book Appropriate Apothejims: A Collection for Life. David was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, where he still lives with his beautiful wife Joanna and their three precious daughters, Caroline, Olivia and Emma. He graduated from the University of Texas in 1995 with a BA in Government and Philosophy. He obtained his JD from the University of Texas School of Law in 1998.                        


Are these the Jews they took?

Are these the Jews they took?
This seventeen-year-old
this child so beautiful
and her friends who danced all night with us
as if they never had a care in the world.

And would these Jews have been jammed into filthy little boxcars
and shipped away to their slaughter?
These women who for one evening were girls
who stopped only long enough to let us in
so that we could see the people behind.

And would these Jews have been murdered with all the others
waiting in camps
praying for one more hour, or one more minute
or praying for nothing at all
nothing but that the end might come soon.

Are these the Jews they took
I ask, knowing only too well the answer.
These women, these soldiers
who carry Uzis and M16s even when they go out for a bite to eat
and who are so fearless and so strong
and so everything we never were before.
These women, these girls
who danced with us that one night in Jerusalem
these would have been the Jews they took back then.
These Jews that they could never take today. 

Joan Wilking

Joan Wilking has had nonfiction appear in Brevity, New World Writing, and The ManifestStation. Her short fiction has been published in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies. Her story, “Deer Season”, was a finalist for the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award, and her story “Clutter” received a special mention in the 2016 Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her book, Mycology, won Curbside Splendor’s 2016 Wild Onion Novella Prize.


I Asked the Bird

The mockingbird perched on the deck rail has been bombarding my sliders for days. The attacks are so purposeful I’m worried it will break the glass. It sits, beak open, before it takes flight and flutters, wings outspread, in front of the exposed panel or until it gets a foothold on the side covered by the screen. It’s a healthy looking bird, lean, and gray and sleek. Every once in a while it ruffles its feathers and puffs up to twice its size.

“What the hell do you want,” I ask as it bashes into the glass again and I notice that below where its been hanging out on the back of my bright green Adirondack chair, there are bright purple stains, the result I assume of the grapes it’s been eating atop the arbor over the other set of sliding doors. It’s been dive bombing them, too. The splats are a lovely shade of purple for bird shit.

On the phone this morning I told my friend Bonnie about the bird and she reminded me about the sparrows that kamikazed my studio windows every spring for several years after I renovated the building and replaced the broken out panes. They’d built their mud nests in the eaves and preferred death to relocation. I flinched at every thud and ended each day disposing of their small black bodies, some of them still warm.

“And do you remember the hummingbird, the one that got trapped in the screen porch? One of your girls captured it.”

“Oh God, yes,” I said. “Poor thing. It died in her hand.”

I’ve Googled “Birds flying into windows.” The ornithological site maintained by Cornell said it is typical behavior for birds in spring. But it’s fall. Not time to nest or establish a territory. Last night we came close to a freeze. Today the air shimmers; the bay is still blue, but not for long. Almost all of the boats have been pulled from their moorings. The trees are baring their limbs. Flocks of Canada Geese have been seen heading south. Any bird with a lick of sense is out of here – except for my OCD mockingbird, cocking it head at me, one beady eye, sizing up the slider, looking for a way to get in.

I putter around the kitchen listening to the thumps as it attacks again. I finish washing the breakfast dishes, dry my hands and cautiously approach the sliding doors. The bird lifts off and hovers in front of me, its belly pale gray, the undersides of its wings feathered black, white and a darker gray.

“Who are you?” I ask the bird.

Are you the lost soul of someone I know? My mother? My father? My aunt who died too young? My uncle just weeks away from turning ninety who leapt from the 22nd floor? Are you one of my friends? Eric or Greg or Cheiko? Cancer took them. Or Scott? A suicide. Or Lily? Or her daughter Nicole? The one dead at the early end of old age, the other only weeks after giving birth to her only child, a girl she had named after her mother.

Are you one of our long dead pets? Spot, the dog, or Ruby, the cat, or Stuart, the guinea pig one of my daughters accidentally dropped down the stairs? I still have Spot’s ashes, and Ruby’s, and my father’s, and my uncle’s in boxes and tins hidden away throughout the house.

Or are you someone I didn’t know? A Syrian refugee, drowned in the Bosphorus? A famine bloated Ethiopian toddler? A diamond miner, beaten to death in Sierra Leone? A heroin addict, overdosed with the needle still in her arm?

Or one of my aborted babies? Lost and alone.

Or are you just a mockingbird, seduced by your own reflection, desperate to escape the impending cold, searching for a warmer, more welcoming place to land?

Rosa Nevadovska

Rosa Nevadovska (poet) was born in 1890 in Bialystok.  She immigrated to the U.S. in 1928, having studied in cities across central Europe. She was married briefly and gave birth to a daughter — who died at the age of two during a winter in Moscow, where the poet stayed from 1914 till the end of the first World War I.  Nevadovska was a writer/journalist whose poetic works receded to her private archives as she aged – traveling, lecturing, and living in various cities across the U.S., from NYC to Venice, CA. She published one volume of poems in her lifetime: Azoy vi Ikh Bin, in Los Angeles (1936). It was only after her death that her family discovered scores of unpublished poems, which Binem Heller edited into Lider Mayne. This volume is 256 pages long


Merle Bachman (translator) is in addition to translating, a poet with two books out from the British press, Shearsman Books (most recently, Blood Party). Her book of literary criticism and translation, Recovering ‘Yiddishland’: Threshold Moments in American Literature was published by Syracuse UP (2008). She is an Associate Professor of English at Spalding University in Louisville, KY, where she is also direct the BFA in Creative Writing.


In a Field                               

In a field I saw the rise of day.
The sky took fire, then quenched itself.
And someone muttered an incantation
In obscure, colorful language.

And I myself was like the sky,
Kindling my melody with blue and red.
At sunrise I saw myself come into view:
The blue of my happiness, the red of my wounds.



A Home in the Bronx

In these rooms, there is no one–just silence.
It’s memory’s home in a strange place.
A lonely hour flutters like a bird, quietly–
The years have kept this silence undisturbed. 

You call this home, but it’s alien,
Not the Jewish city where I was born.
Such a home gives no warmth. Like a borrowed shirt
It was made for someone else. 

Aurora Luque

Born in Almería, in the province of Andalucía in southern Spain, in 1962, Aurora Luque (author) is considered a poet of the “Generation of Democracy,” and one of the most prominent women poets of this generation to have dominated the poetic scene in Spain since the 1980’s. Her poetic production has received consistent literary and critical acclaim in Spain and Europe. Luque’s themes range from the classical to the contemporary and are marked by the intelligent audacity of her Mediterranean, European and universal, postmodern female perspective. Her work is, however, little known in the United States. My purpose in translating her poetry is to make the work of this talented Spanish poet–uniquely relevant and universal to today’s reader, in my views–, available in English and, thus, expand her reading audience. The poem included in this submission “Sola en casa ?” (“Home Alone ?”) comes from the book Camaradas de Ícaro (Icarus’ Pals) (Madrid:Visor Libros, 2003.) The poet has granted me permission to publish my translation of her poems along with her original in Spanish.


Maria Elsy Cardona (translator) is Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Saint Louis University and holds a secondary appointment with the Program of Women and Gender Studies. Her teaching and research interests are in the fields of Spanish Poetry 1950 to the present, Women Poets of Spain, Gender Stereotypes in Comics and the Graphic Novel, Translation Studies and Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language. She has presented and published on Luque’s work at various academic conferences and journals and is currently completing an annotated translation of Luque’s poetry, Aurora Luque’s poetry. Contact information:


Home Alone

All there is of me are fragments, loose pieces of myself,
but it is not my hand that puts me back together.
On the screen, a cracked world,
yells at me,
sadly happy,
with a censuring luminosity
with the annoying joy of a refreshment.
I am just my cracks.
The world too is just its own cracks.


Sola en casa

Ya sólo soy fragmentos, piezas sueltas de mí,
pero no soy la mano que me une.
En la pantalla el mundo
me grita cuarteado,
feliz, amargamente,
críticamente luminoso
con su necia alegría de refresco.
Sólo soy mis fisuras.
También el mundo es sólo sus fisuras.

Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw is a poet residing in the Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts. A former dancer and choreographer, he spends part of his time as a Rolfer®, aligning, balancing and making more spacious the human body.


Night Music

                        for Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2009)


My house tonight
is a bathysphere
on a deep sea expedition
down into the Bach Cello Suites

we plunge steadily
as surface light disappears
and the pressures build
our small porthole beams light
that can be seen from the ocean floor



The No. 4 Suite has just begun
the high-wire act of its opening bars
they pirouette unfettered
notes cascading loose-limbed
in perfect harmonic progression
hovering over an invisible net

it’s the maestro’s late recording
the one where he’s holding
as much loss between his arms
as cello



The ocean floor ripples
from the vibrating strings
barnacled ribs of old shipwrecks hum
as the slow sarabande
echoes through the deep
bouncing off the bottoms of continents

through emerald sea light
eyes open since the Pleistocene
a giant manta ray sails
coursing through whorls of sound
while synchronizing the slow riffling
of its great wings



These deep sea contemplations
transform each time they are played
even in my small sanctuary
in the middle of the night
with the candles guttering
and the pines shushing like waves

an old gnarled hand
nimbly balancing a bow
pleads out chords
the way an oyster meticulously
buffs a rough grain of sand
into the opal of rising moon

Jim Daniels

Jim Daniels next two books of poems, Rowing Inland, and Street Calligraphy will be published in 2017. Other recent collections include Apology to the Moon (BatCat Press), Birth Marks (BOA Editions), and Eight Mile High (Michigan State University Press). He is also the writer/producer of a number of short films, including The End of Blessings (2015). Born in Detroit, Daniels is the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.


Strawberries and Mirrors

We live on the same planet
as strawberries and mirrors, smoke
and breath, minor sin and major celebration.
Is an apple really that tempting,
even when glossed by a serpent’s skin?
In all the stories, it’s an apple—
as if betrayal needs such sturdy fruit.
What about the slipperiness of sin?

A strawberry from my garden—
smaller than in the supermarket,
but a red that takes in sun, spins it
into rich glow and melts in tender,
sweet collapse inside your mouth—
is more like it.

A mirror could bring down anyone.
My children adore strawberries bordering
on sin, to be confessed, if that was a box
we checked on the sin-meister’s list.

The hallway mirror, evidenced
by smudges as they check out
how they will be checked out
when they smile like this
when they dance like this
when they break down the gates
of hell like this.

There’s a rule against me watching,
though I pass that tollbooth a dozen times
a day, and they spend enough time there
to be accruing pension benefits.

All the snake dude needed to do
was stick a mirror tree in Eden
to stop traffic to eternal happiness.
If Adam and Eve were teenagers
they’d be out of there, sucking icicles
and bitching about the furnace
before He could even lock
the gate behind them.

The steam off a living thing
is my idea of heaven, though how much
does a doubter’s vote count?
Clouds of it rising today off my children
waiting for the bus, refusing all
my designations for them as they stand
between the strawberry and the mirror,
the serpent coiling and uncoiling
in the steam, like God’s smile
as he’s jingling his keys, saying,
have a nice day.



I licked your glue like a bad kiss,
displaying my tongue for the sad doctor
of scribbled words.

Once in Italy they refused my postcard—
too much writing! One stamp
after another after another,

the mysterious bad luck of chain mail
and postage due. But I did love you—
displaying the flag or the famous. Simple,

certain. For years, just Washington, stoic
as a thumb. At college, I unfurled a roll
the length of my bed and posted a daily letter

to my girlfriend with the dutiful regularity
of tooth-brushing. I sometimes referenced tooth-
brushing in those letters, imagining doubt

overwhelmed by volume. The fact of the envelope’s
deliberate, folded, pages. The smoking mailman lingered
in the shade. The waiting, the forgetting, the surprise

of the arrival of what I had once longed for—
box-top prizes, lingerie catalogs, scissors and glue
and—and you, exposed to someone’s

extended tongue, faith in the sacrament of mail.
I will peel a self-adhesive and press it firmly
I will drop this in a mailbox.

Addressed to you, where will it go?
Remember my tongue among so many.

Hedy Habra

Hedy Habra has authored two poetry collections, Under Brushstrokes, finalist for the 2015 USA Best Book Award and the International Poetry Award, and Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the 2014 USA Best Book Award and finalist for the International Poetry Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets, won the Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and was finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. She is a recipient of the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Awards and a six-time nominee for Pushcart and Best of the Net. Her work appears in Cimarron ReviewBitter OleanderBlue Fifth ReviewCider Press ReviewDrunken BoatNimrodVerse DailyPoet LoreWorld Literature Today and elsewhere. Her website is


Carl Sharpe

Carl Sharpe taught high school English for more than three decades and later taught writing for a few more years at the community college level. The founder and publisher of the online poetry journal VerseWrights (, Sharpe lives on the South Shore in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts where he devotes himself to furthering the writing of others and composes his own poems. 


For Doris

The words I had at twenty are gone.
Old poems that made me weep
As I wrote them, amaze me even now—
But no one else.

And I can see you living
In your daughters’ eyes.

And I can see you gone
In your earth-love’s saddening face.

And I do not have the words, now,
To embrace how that feels for me,
Or for any of us.

But I loved you.

The dimmed, ashen suns within us
Struggle to regain their former lights,
Like the young words you asked of me.

Still, here is a last poem for you,
And for us who are left bereft, cheated
Of your joyous voice and roomful smile
Now blessed in the companies of stars.

Cristina Rivera Garza

Cristina Rivera Garza (poet) has published seven books of poetry, including her most recent, La imaginación pública (2016). She is known as a fiction writer as well: her novels Nadie me verá llorar and La muerte me da both were awarded the Premio Internacional Sor Juana in 2011 and 2009, respectively. Nadie me verá llorar also won the Prix Roger-Caillois in 2013. Her writing has been translated into English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Korean, and other languages. She is the director of the Creative Writing in Spanish PhD program at the University of Houston.


Julia Leverone (translator) lectures in Spanish and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Dallas. She has a PhD in comparative literature, and holds positions as the editor of Sakura Review and an assistant editor at Asymptote. Her chapbook of poems, Shouldering, was published in 2016. Julia’s translations appear or are forthcoming in América invertida: A Bilingual Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets, Witness, Modern Poetry in Translation, the American Literary Review, and Boston Review.





[beam in the water]

I remember you with polished crossbows in each hand.
Vertical like mist drizzling to the ground. Soaked in force.
Everything smaller around you: midday and the slight tilt of the valley,
that sudden encounter with the springing source of afternoon.
Almoloya de Juárez.
Look, you said, with your eyes on the water. There’s a beam.
You were dreaming appearances. You described them.
From the other side of the railing the carp hid among the algae.
On the bottom lightly trembling, tarnished coins of old wishes blinked.
There were willow leaves scoring the sacred surface like ships.
I fixed upon it. I saw it. I caught it.
A refraction of light.
The line of a strand of hair over mystery’s cranium.
The limit that divides the right side from the left.
I was eleven and protected by you,
I was safe from being unloved.


[raya en el agua]

Te recuerdo con ballestas pulidas en las manos.
Vertical como la llovizna sobre la tierra. Empapada de fuerza.
Todo pequeño a tu alrededor: el mediodía y la leve inclinación del valle
este súbito encuentro con el manantial de la tarde.
Almoloya de Juárez.
Mira, dijiste, con los ojos sobre el agua. Hay una raya.
Soñabas con la aparición. La anunciabas.
Del otro lado del barandal las carpas se escondían entre las algas.
En el fondo apenas trémulo tintineaban las monedas oxidadas de viejos deseos.
Había hojas de sauce surcando el líquido sagrado como barcas.
Puse atención. La vi. La atrapé.
Una refracción de luz.
La línea de un cabello sobre el cráneo del misterio.
El límite que divide el lado derecho del izquierdo.
Tenía once años y protegida por ti
estuve a salvo de no ser amada.

Pia Taavila-Borsheim

Pia Taavila-Borsheim grew up in Walled Lake, Michigan, and lives now in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with her husband, David Borsheim. She received her BA and MA in American Literature from Eastern Michigan University (1977, 1979) and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. (1985) from Michigan State University in English, Sociology, and Philosophy. She is a tenured, full professor and teaches literature and creative writing at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. In 2008, Gallaudet University Press published her collected poems, Moon on the Meadow: Collected Poems 1977-2007; Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Two Winters in 2011, and Mother Mail, was published by Hermeneutic Chaos Press in 2017. Her new chapbook, Love Poems, is forthcoming from Cherry Grove Press in early 2018. Her poems have appeared in several journals including: The Bear River Review, The Broadkill Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Comstock Review, Barrow Street, Threepenny Review, Wisconsin Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, storySouth, The Asheville Poetry Review, 32 Poems, Measure, Ibbetson Street Review, and The Southern Review. She is a frequent participant at the Bear River, Sewanee and Key West writing conferences. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes and she has just finished a new full-length manuscript titled Notes to David.



Nate Maxson

Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. He is the author of several collections of poetry including The Whisper Gallery and The Torture Report’ He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.”


When It Rains

Videogame developers have a term they use

For giving the player the illusion of agency, of choice

They say “when it rains” to describe keeping the players engaged through use of relatively small details

Because someone playing a game, upon encountering a seemingly random event within the digital sandbox

Such as, for example: a rainstorm

Secretly feels like they can’t step in the same river twice

When actually,

They can

They feel like it has never rained on pixilated soil before

I’ve felt it, though I don’t play as many games as I did when I was younger

It’s a thrill

Believing the rain is yours and yours alone

It really is

Another example, in most games that have a purportedly open world

The path towards where one needs to go is brightly lit by lights of some kind

As if only one street in the whole made up city was afforded public utilities

The rest of the area is there of course, it’s formed and there are objects and things to look at

But they’re hmm, how to put it?

They’re just dim

Compared to the brightly lit primary quest

And most of the time players will simply follow along without needing to see the rest

Of course, most people don’t quite realize how these things work

They just keep playing

Rescuing the princess and the planet ad infinitum, unaware of the developer’s invisible hand

There’s an almost spiritual element to it, in my opinion


I was told these things by a friend of mine who is involved in that industry

Who, for reasons of security, must remain anonymous

He told me about what “when it rains” means

To those in the know

He whispered this over the table at Ihop where we had been drinking coffee and discussing

His career, my old hobby

But don’t think of him as some protagonist from a Lovecraft story

Discovering the truth and slipping away

Because we had a bit of a laugh

When the waiter, upon presenting us with the bill

Remarked as he pointed to the window adjacent to our booth

“It sure is raining hard out there”

Our silence like crickets

Punctuated in the springtime

By forced laughter, not as loud as the rain

Or the espresso machines

Rowan Johnson

Rowan Johnson holds a doctorate from the University of Tennessee as well as an MA from the University of Nottingham, England. His work has been published in Two Thirds North, 4ink7, Passing Through Journal, Wordriver Literary Review, GFT Press, and the Writers’ Abroad Foreign Encounters Anthology. He has also written numerous travel articles for SEOUL Magazine.


Rusty Tools

His name was Noel Chinkwende. He was a friend, the child of a Malawian diplomat. He would come to school in a black limousine, with a driver who wore a real black chauffeur’s hat with a deep visor. Every day, when Noel entered the classroom, he would always bow. His blue schoolboy cap was too tight for his huge head, so when he bowed, his tie would flail in front of him and it sometimes looked as if he was going to topple over from the weight of his head. The teachers would say, Noel, stop bowing, you don’t need to do that. But still, Noel would always bow. He would just smile at them and say, “It’s OK. No need to worry.”

He would invite me over to play soccer and tennis. His house was a sprawling colonial mansion, with bright bougainvilleas and lush, green leafy trees. Incongruously, rusty rakes and spades often seemed to be strewn all over the expansive lawn. His parents were there, always, reading the paper and watching the news. His father, a portly, jovial man, spoke good English. His mother only spoke Chichewa, and although she often wore elaborate rich royal green and yellow dresses, she still looked like an African maid, with her doek and her bare feet.

One day, when I went to the mansion, we sat in the dark dining room, drinking milky tea. The room smelled of rich ivory. Draped over the table was a black, red and green flag with a red rising sun. “Do you want to plant a tree? Let’s go outside and dig a big hole in the ground,” Noel said. So we finished the tea and went out to dig the hole.

His mother, barefoot, wearing her royal garb and her doek, soon came out and joined us. She raised her rusty spade and dug it down deep into the soft, black, loamy soil. She raised it again and turned over some more soil. On her third attempt, Noel and I watched as the spade dug a deep gash into her left leg. His mother yelled out when she first saw the cut, but she just kept digging as her deep red blood spilled into the soil. She did not look at us. Noel just smiled at me and said, “It’s OK. No need to worry.” So I didn’t. We finished digging that deep hole and planted the tree.

One month later, in biology class we learned about bacteria and tetanus. The teacher showed us some scary pictures of emaciated patients in hospital beds, and he warned us to be careful when using rusty tools.

Later that day, the headmaster called a school assembly in the chapel and told us all what had happened. Noel and his family are going back home to Malawi. His mom is dying. Let us all pray for her.

When I turned to look for Noel, he was nowhere to be seen. But some years later, I often imagined him leaving the chapel and bowing ever so slightly at the door, just like an awkward baby elephant drinking deeply from the waters of Lake Malawi.

Barry Seiler

Barry Seiler has published four books of poetry, three of them by U of Akron Press. He lives in Roxbury, a small town in the Catskills, with his wife and cats.


Our House

Last night when the engines fired down the road
I was sure it was to our door.
But they continued.

Sweet sleep rise like a trembling ladder
Against this thin house of all our time to come.
Save us where we live.

Sue William Silverman

Sue Silverman’s poetry collection is Hieroglyphics in Neon (Orchises Press). Her second poetry collection, If the Girl Never Learns, is looking for a home. She is also the author of four other books: The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew was a finalist in Foreword Reviews 2014 IndieFab Book of the Year Award; Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You won the AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction; and Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction is also a Lifetime TV original movie. Her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.


If the Girl Turns the World Upside-Down

walking on her hands
exploring Blackbeard’s Castle,
one palm in front
of the other –
hair dusting
fever grass and the cracked
limestone floor –
Madras shorts sliding
up her thighs, seductive,
because did he, or she, really
sink beneath
the waves?

Later, the girl cruises
Route 17 in her doubloon-
colored, Rangoon-red-leathered
Plymouth, past disaffected
Jersey boys loitering corners,
a bottle of underage
Scotch between her legs.
Driving straight but drunk and
in reverse, for all
she knows, dashboard lit,
circling asphalt
like it’s a black scarf,
a sun-warmed boa,
constricting its grip.

She has no place to sleep,
so she won’t, preoccupied
as she is, with seaworms, salt
air, cannon smoke, warped
masts, frayed
sails – just another night
in the break-down
lane of mangled
axels, tire rims,
wheel covers, discarded
St. Christopher medals,
and bottle-tops – souvenirs
of mishaps, accidents,
and Acts of God
knows what.
She has
the only map to this
hoard of pirate loot.
No, that’s wrong. She is
the map.

Nurit Zarchi

Nurit Zarchi (author)  is one of the leading authors in Israel. She had published poetry, novels, short stories, essays and over 100 books for children. She has received every major Israeli award for her poetry, children and youth literature, including the Prime Minister’s Prize twice (1980; 1991), the Ze’ev Prize (five times), the Education Minister’s Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2005), the Landau Prize for Poetry (2013), the Devorah Omer Prize for Lifetime Achievement (2014) and the Arik Einstein Prize (2015).


Gili Haimovich (translator) is a poet and translator published internationally. She had translate into Hebrew poets such as Fiona Samson, Lois Michel Unger, Micael Dikel and Dara Barnat and some Israeli poets into English. Her translations and poetry appear or forthcoming in journals such as Poetry International, World Literature Today, International Poetry ReviewPoem – International English Language Quarterly, Asymptote, LRC – Literary Review of Canada, Recours au Poème, Drain Magazine, Mediterranean Poetry. She had had published a poetry collection in English titled Living on a Blank Page (Blue Angel Press, 2008) and in six volumes of poetry in Hebrew. Her last book Landing Lights came out earlier this year and won a grant in Israel as did her previous book Baby Girl. Gili works also as a writing focused arts therapist and educator.


There was a reason or two
That detained me from discovering America

Other than the storms, fear of deep water
And a couple of sailors omitted on the island,

Other than the mice scampering on the deck
Those who are called rats in realistic literature
Except in the fine print –

I always felt the ship was drowning
Maybe that’s why I sided
With the Indians, the Spaniards 
And handed chocolate to
The girls in the army’s prison.

But secretly I too coveted the Cajamarca gold
I too dreamed of exploring wonderful countries
Like when I found out what’s what –
While it’s already late –
And I’m here.


* By Nurit Zarchi from her book Abel will Kiss Me, The Bialik Institute Publishers, 2013

Bruce Bond

Bruce Bond is the author of eighteen books including, most recently, Immanent Distance: Poetry and the Metaphysics of the Near at Hand (U of MI, 2015), Black Anthem (Tampa Review Prize, U of Tampa, 2016), Gold Bee (Helen C. Smith Award, Crab Orchard Award, Southern Illinois University Press, 2016), Sacrum (Four Way Books, 2017), and Blackout Starlight: New and Selected Poems 1997-2015 (E. Phillabaum Award, LSU, 2017).  Presently he is a Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas.


Consolation of Shadows

Memory says it begins the moment
we stand at one end, walk toward the other,

walk a little more and make no progress,
and who can blame it, how it withdraws from us

the image we call ours, the space we beat
with shoes and reasons to abuse them.

Why condemn the leash if it stretches
in pursuit of something beyond our eyes.

Who can blame it if it inks in secret
the affidavit of a more conscious life,

if the flame we stamp gets longer, blacker.
Memory says let me tell you a story:

how Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty
mourned the death of a lover so deeply

his loyals made a shadow puppet, the first,
or the first we know, stitched the body

out of mule hide draped in lucid silks.
And the likeness of the silhouette

was neither anesthesia nor affliction,
but a kind of black flame to the moth

of the eye, come to join, again, the others.
The wings of theaters know a dawning

music cues the dimming of the house.
And yes, the stories that survive are kings

among the peasant eulogies that fade.
The lover was a concubine, I should mention.

The untold exchanges, be they currency
or vows, what are they now if not blank

pages shadowed by those who read them.
In the backlit panels of the royal boathouse,

a woman’s body emerges from a waver
of silk.  And from that body steps a man.

From the man an emperor, a wolf,
a flock of crows, a moral outrage, a more

seductive wolf, whose next self might be
selfless, when the beast offers to share

his slaughter.  And we walk to the end of our
shadows and kneel.  And the room goes dark.

Final Issue

Click on a title to read an author’s work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra. Also, consider leaving a comment for everyone to read.

“Paul” by Alexis Rhone Fancher

“Broadway Joe” by Alexis Rhone Fancher

“How the Grass Grows” by Susan Weinstein


Rowan Johnson | Rusty Tools


Rakefet Kopernik | Saba
Tim J. Myers | That Day
Joan Wilking | I Asked the Bird 


Aurora Luque | Home Alone  | **Maria Elsy Cardona
Cristina Rivera Garza | happy redux | [beam in the water] | **Julia Leverone
Rosa Nevadovska | In a Field | A Home in the Bronx | **Merle Bachman
Nurit Zarchi | from Zarchi’s book Abel will Kiss Me | **Gili Haimovich

Book Reviews:

Lucille Lang Day | Becoming an Ancestor | Review by Lenore Weiss

**Indicates Translators

Emily Grosholz

Emily Grosholz is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy at Penn State, and an advisory editor for the Hudson Review. Her recent chapbook of poetry Childhood (Accents Publishing, 2014), translated into Japanese by Atsuko Hayakawa, into Italian by Sara Amadori, and into French by Pascale Drouet, has raised over $2800 for UNICEF. The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems, with drawings by Farhad Ostovani, was just published by Word Galaxy Press.


Here and There

What will I miss when I’m gone?
The squeak of the wheelbarrow’s wheel,
Grace notes that strike with every slow
Revolution, and then the hushed, rusty
Answer in triplets from the invisible
Bird in the lackluster maples.

Branches, weeds, last autumn’s leavings
Raked from the moss-eaten paths, beds,
Borders, still untrimmed hedges.
Also the silent pale blue bells
Of my half dozen borage, ringed,
Self-seeded from the woods.

Daylilies my mother liked to set
Roadside in June. Pale Greek anemones
She never travelled far enough
To find wild, as I did once or twice, but
Maybe I’ll bring her some, if over there
Windflowers blow beside a cloudy sea.

Carol V. Davis

Carol V. Davis is the author of Because I Cannot Leave This Body (2017) and Between Storms (2012)). She won the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize for Into the Arms of Pushkin: Poems of St. Petersburg. Twice a Fulbright scholar in Russia, her work has been read on NPR and at the Library of Congress. She received a 2015 Barbara Deming grant and is poetry editor of the Los Angeles newspaper, The Jewish Journal. She teaches at Santa Monica College and Antioch Univ. Los Angeles and in winter 2015 she taught in Ulan-Ude, Siberia.


Because The Porch Light Flickered

Because the porch light flickered
the moths circled first one way, then the other,
thrown off their habitual trance.

We watched the clouds
dependent on them for predictions:
Would the storm hit or bypass us altogether?

What passes for seasons here:
the towering Australian oak exploding in full leaf
when the other trees are shedding.

Searing heat on Rosh Hashanah.
We secretly plead with Abraham not to strike Isaac,
for God to give a last minute reprieve or failing that,

to suspend Abraham’s arm midair. One slip
of our attention and the story could rewrite itself
in a bloodbath, certainty lost before another sundown.

Faith and doubt jockey for position, the way
a marathoner sizes up the competition before
planting her feet in the front line.

Will her finishing time be dependent
on always wearing the same red shorts?
Or closing her eyes before the starting gun goes off?

Everyone throws salt over the left shoulder,
but how many of us blind the devil
so he can’t witness our misdeeds?

In the Middle Ages left-handed people
were burned at the stake.
I’m Jewish, so doubly cursed.

Starting on a journey with your right foot
is good luck, while if your left foot itches,
your travels will end in sorrow.

Nancy Chen Long

Nancy Chen Long is a 2017 National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing fellow. Her first book Light into Bodies won the 2016 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. You’ll find her recent work in Ninth Letter, Crab Orchard Review, Zone 3, Alaska Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Not Like the Rest of Us: An Anthology of Contemporary Indiana Writers, and elsewhere. She has a degree in engineering and an MBA, worked as an electrical engineer, software consultant, and project manager, and more recently earned an MFA. She works in Research Technologies at Indiana University.


He Takes Up Carving

after Susanna Childress

He’s been rummaging in the woods all week, scavenging
for the straightest pieces—rods of red oak, ironwood,
sassafras saplings—peels back the bark, sanding for hours,
then inlays intricate patterns of blue lapis, honey-striped

tiger’s eye, turquoise. Sometimes a compass recessed
into the top. Using his father’s engraver, he outlines pines
and cabins, the occasional deer, and always his initials
into each stick. They’re the reason why he’s hauled those boxes

up out of the basement—to clear a small work space.
Basketball cards catalogued by team and year, scores of plastic
cowpokes with no cows, a Hawaiian silk shirt, some army fatigues—
all transferred to the garage to make room for these walking sticks

sculpted and reshaped by his hands. Over sixty canes now,
arranged by size. Her head on his shoulder while he reads
another book on wood-carving, she daydreams of the last time
they parasailed, holding hands as they soared above Lake Huron,

before he was laid off, before he had his long blonde curls
shorn like sheep’s wool, before he renamed himself
Gottlieb. Curled up at their feet asleep, their Australian shepherd
lets out a whimper, paws twitching as if running. Yesterday,

the dog ran circles around her, nipped at her heels, darted back
and forth, barking as if to say “Go this way! No—go that way!”
herding her along the path from the backwoods. Such an urgency to it—
that need to be of use.

Kathleen McClung

Kathleen McClung is the author of Almost the Rowboat (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and her poems appear in Mezzo Cammin, Unsplendid, Atlanta Review, Ekphrasis, West Trestle Review, A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, and elsewhere. A 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee, she was the winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Prize and finalist for the Morton Marr, Elinor Benedict, Robert Frost, and 49th Parallel poetry prizes. McClung serves as sponsor-judge of the sonnet category of the Soul-Making Keats literary competition and as a reviewer for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, sponsored by the Stanford University Libraries. She teaches writing and literature classes at Skyline College and the Writing Salon. She lives in San Francisco.


Manhattan Ghazal

The waitress in the MoMA café brings us Quinoa with Pear Ripened Slow,
laughs, says she can peg tourists on her way to work: They all walk so slow 

along East 53rd.  Tom and I chuckle, polite to a fault. Are we that obvious—
arch support couple on holiday, trekking an island where nothing is slow?

 Years ago, at 38, I met a man through a personal ad,
a native of this city, lonely for love. We moved slowly,

wrote letters, talked long distance. J mailed me bootleg videos—
westerns, sci fi, noir—his gloss on legal pads, left handed, slow,

splotches of ballpoint ink where he’d scribbled out a word
he didn’t want after all. He called me mellow, which meant slow,

in a good way. He was afraid of flying, thought Californians all owned
convertibles, macramé bikinis. How could we last? Passion slowed

eventually, we two unbridgeable cement blocks on far edges of a continent,
my future with him blurred through sooty panes, elevator doors slow

to open.  Last week, I read J’s obituary online, midnight, no word
in years. The cancer must have moved swiftly in his body, not a slow

treading on his icy sidewalks, West 87th. A fiancée
was named, syllables steady on my screen, and I was slow

to turn away, to power down this slim machine—
our travel agent now, our docent for all that slowly

crumbles in Midtown. Through the wings of the museum—Gauguin’s woodcut
goddesses, Kahlo with her pet monkey—Tom and I walk, reverent and slow.

Aaron Fischer

Aaron Fischer spent his career working in technology-business journalism and is now an online editor for a politics and public policy website. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Chaffin Journal, Hudson Review, Prime Number, Redactions, Stonecoast, and Sow’s Ear. He was a finalist in the Prime Number and Sow’s Ear poetry contests and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.



Henry Lyman

Henry Lyman’s book The Land Has Its Say was published by Open Field Press in 2015. The Elizabeth Press has published his translations from the work of the Estonian poet Aleksis Rannit. He edited Robert Francis’s posthumous collection Late Fire, Late Snow and an anthology of New England poetry, After Frost, both published by University of Massachusetts Press. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.


A Pool in the River

Draining no less slowly than it brims it stays in sun
between two mudbanks, takes on a look of sky
at noonday, and where shadows cut across reveals
a few small fish suspended. It holds a shape where bare
dark women once undid their braids and swam
among the splashing children. Where a century later
farmers dropped their breeches and waded in,
cupping in hand what in two hundred years
Claire and Joyce would part with their breaststrokes
while Max stood waist deep and Ed floated face up
watching for some sign of rain. Sun and shadow mingle
as I dream of generations diving to the bottom
summer after summer and always out beyond them
off wherever Max has gone and Joyce a decade after him
then Claire. Behind me Ed at ninety-seven
is mowing even still, and I see him with the others
coming through the trees, making the best of a river
by handing each other down into it daily, canes
left lying at the edge of what would casually lift them.

Rakefet Kopernik

Rakefet Kopernik is a Jewish, queer, experimental fiction and poetry writer. She is the author of The Other Body, forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press (2017). Her work has also appeared in several publications, including El Balazo, Duende, Restless and others, was shortlisted for the Black River Chapbook Contest, and received an honorable mention for Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Naropa University and currently lives in Minneapolis. You can find more of her work here:



Only my mother and her mother look at the camera, or the man behind it, my father.  My gangly eight-year-old brother stands in front of my grandmother. He’s looking down at me, grinning. I am five years old and have little brown braids. I am sitting beside our mother. She looks young and fresh. My uncle is stretched out in front of me on the grass, propped up on one elbow, twirling a blade of grass between his dark fingers. His son looks like a tiny version of him. He’s kneeling, looking up at his father, mouth half open like he’s saying something or wants to. His left hand rests on his father’s shoulder. Behind my uncle is Saba, our grandfather, one hand on my cousin’s back, the other on mine. Saba is looking at me with a wide smile. I’m looking back at him, my eyebrows raised, holding a little monkey doll on my knee, whose round head blocks my face a little. It’s summer and everyone is tan and happy. But Saba and I, in particular, are sharing our own moment.

The photo was taken in front of my grandparent’s small two-room house on the kibbutz where my mother grew up, where I spent every summer of my childhood. The kibbutz, Nir Am, is just outside of Gaza. You can see Gaza from the fields behind their house. Having spent the rest of each year in America, I didn’t experience my extended family the way most of my American friends did, Sundays with grandparents, cousins at birthday parties, big spontaneous family events. My family was all packed into one chunk of time each year.

I loved visiting my Saba. He felt comforting to me, like an old quilt, worn and soft. Even as a child I found him to be cute. We had a grandparent-grandchild bond, the beginning and the end of a circle that seem to almost touch. A secret, psychic understanding of one another.

Saba was a humorously skinny man. He wasn’t unhealthy, just naturally very thin which made it okay for my mom and me to laugh and joke about this gene neither of us inherited. His thinness was also an amusing juxtapose to my thick and overbearing, though loveable, grandmother. He wore the same clothes every day: navy blue button down work shirt with navy blue work pants or shorts, and thin brown socks under heavy brown work boots. He smelled like an old quilt too, a sweet musky scent I wanted to breathe deep into my lungs, linger it there for an extra couple of seconds, hugging him from the inside.

Some days after swimming in the kibbutz pool, my cousins and I would walk over to the silverware factory on the other side of the kibbutz where he worked, for years longer than he had to, just to keep busy. It wasn’t far. Everyday he rode his rusty red cruiser bicycle with the little blue basket on the back, from one end of the kibbutz to other through narrow walkways – there is only one vehicle road that runs around the outskirts of the small community, perfectly oval like a racetrack. There were lots of grandparents in the factory, all wearing those same navy blue work clothes, all smiles and laughter, so delighted to see us nechadim, us grandkids. When I was little, I thought the factory was just a hangout for grandparents. I knew it was where they made silverware, the kibbutz’s income, but I never actually saw anyone making it.

In the earliest years, when my parents, brother, and I would arrive at the Tel-Aviv airport, Saba and his son, the uncle in the photo, would be waiting for us with generous smiling faces and bags of cheap Israeli candy. My brother and I fought over this candy year after year for its too-sweet, sugary savor, for the richness that sweets possess when someone who loves you so much, gives you. Saba would place his creased old man worker hands on my face, one on each side, smile and kiss each cheek with laughter, then again.

“Mamalé, bubalé,” he’d say.

I’d kiss his scruffy cheeks back, taking into my lungs that musky scent, overwhelmed by love. We’d do this every single day.


The kibbutz was guarded by reserve soldiers. Most of them lived there. When we’d arrive from the airport in the borrowed kibbutz van, my uncle was friendly with the guard. He too was a reserve soldier. Pulling up to the Nir Am gate, seeing the man with the M16 in military fatigues, was strangely comforting, like the smell of gasoline and bus fumes; disturbing but familiar, childhood, my second home. We’d pass easily through the gate then drive up on the dirt to Saba and Safta’s little house among the trees. Shlomo and Miriam, the neighbors whose little house was connected to Saba’s like a townhouse, were always there to greet us. Like Shlomo and Miriam, my grandparents built their house, with the rest of the kibbutz, after the war.

Saba and Safta met in Romania. Along with many other Jews, they felt a strong pull to build their lives in Israel as Europe became heated with anti-Semitism. Saba left first, with a group of friends in 1940. Under British rule there were limited opportunities for Jews to enter Israel, but with a special certificate, a married person was allowed a spouse. And so, though committed to my grandmother, Saba married his friend Sara, only on paper so that he might be allowed into the country. One year later, he sent word to Safta to join him. She also banded with a group of friends to travel, illegally, by boat. There were many boats attempting this journey. Some of the boats were caught by the British and sent back to Europe, some were sent to camps in Cypress, and the most unfortunate drowned. Safta’s boat was caught and, though they were allowed in, they were put into Atlit, a prison camp near Haifa that was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by British soldiers.

The prisoners were taught Hebrew and, once in a while, a nice soldier brought candy for the kids. Babies were born there but men and women were separated, with one hour per day to visit for married couples. There was a seven pm curfew. On arrival, prisoners had to strip naked and wait in line for a shower, much like in German concentration camps. Only the showers at Atlit were actual showers with water. But those who escaped from places like Auschwitz were traumatized. Atlit was not a concentration camp, but it was a prison. Until it was disbanded, prisoners didn’t know when, if ever, they would be released.

Safta spent a year and a half in Atlit, until it was emptied and shut down. When the British finally closed the camps, my grandparents were reunited and found their home in Kibbutz Nir Am. They were married in 1944 and two years later my mother was born. She was the oldest of three.


Sixty years later, after living more than half her life in America, my mother would return to Israel. She would stay for the longest stint since I was a child, to care for her ill father. She would turn sixty watching a machine breathe for him. Then after a month, he would die. Sixty years after my mother was born, I will find a picture that will send me back two decades into a past that is slowly dissolving, leaving me to wonder if it ever happened at all. I will be reassured by the ache in my chest that it did, then be drowned by the guilt of loving someone so unconditionally, yet hardly knowing him at all. I will surround this picture with white candles and pink cosmos and cry until there is nothing left, until the candles are burnt into helpless puddles of wax and the flowers are dried to crumbs.

Jen Karetnick

Jen Karetnick is the author of three full-length books of poetry, including American Sentencing (Winter Goose Publishing, May 2016) and The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), as well as four poetry chapbooks. She is the winner of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize for Poetry and runner-up for the 2015 Atlantis Prize and 2016 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. Her work has been published recently or is forthcoming in, december, Guernica, Negative Capability, One, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner and Spillway. The Creative Writing Director for Miami Arts Charter School and a freelance dining critic, lifestyle journalist and cookbook author, she lives on the last acre of a historic plantation with her husband, two teenagers, three dogs, three cats and fourteen mango trees.


Refrain for Rooftop Season

When the winds cease to Sousa around transoms
and piccolo suns melt embrasures into clouds,
the bees, no beats to waste, warm up their hums
and spiders pizzicato their mesh shrouds

in search of mates. Poco a poco, buds
break, crackle through the crust of last year’s scum
in pots on the rooftop we scrub with suds
when the winds cease to Sousa around transoms.

The dun of walls in catalog rooms,
we are a ragged quartet of city reeds,
grateful for the allegro impatiens
and piccolo suns melting embrasures into clouds,

the miniature maracas of seed pods
we percuss from their skins, those tight-lipped drums,
into the calore of a raindrop’s pout.
The bees, no beats to waste, warm up their hums,

eager to bow against saffron pistons.
The children run on malachite stems, plowed
into tar – two half notes, a measured sum,
like spiders who pizzicato their mesh shrouds.


Miami: 10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

I leap tall tales in a single bound.
My oceans are a pachanga, held fermata.
The ghosts who haunt me never take a vacation.
I welcome the invaders of all my bodies.

My oceans are a pachanga, held fermata.
My winds make no ladylike edits.
I welcome the invaders of all my bodies.
I give you the right to be forgotten.

My winds make no ladylike edits.
My disabilities will also become yours.
I give you the right to be forgotten.
The only language I recognize is my own.

My disabilities will also become yours.
You may find that I am a shifting foundation.
The only language I recognize is my own.
Upheaval takes solid root in me.

You may find that I am a shifting foundation.
I welcome the invaders of my body.
Upheaval takes solid root in me.
I leap tall tales in a single bound.

Stephen Bett

Stephen Bett has had eighteen books of poetry published: Un/Wired (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2016); The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015); Those Godawful Streets of man: a book of raw wire in the city (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2014); Journal for Breathing Arizona (Ekstasis Editions, Spring, 2014); Penny-Ante Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 2013); Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown Press, 2013); Re-Positioning (Ekstasis Editions, 2011); Track This: a book of relationship (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010);    SPLIT (Ekstasis Editions, 2009); Extreme Positions: the soft-porn industry Exposed  (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NYC, 2009); Sass ’n Pass (Ekstasis Editions, 2008); Three Women (Ekstasis Editions, 2006); Nota Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis Editions, 2005); Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003); High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003); High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2002); Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996); Lucy Kent and other poems (Longspoon Press, 1983). His work has also appeared in well over 100 literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, as well as in four anthologies, and on radio.


Lift Off 16 : textbook

I accept
(in this “book
of acceptance”)

I accept what
the doctors
tell me—

You, love, are
mentally ill
& our time
so abruptly

I accept,
what else
can I

Except that
I still hurt
some days

What the fook
else can be

And you are
dying daily
within me
by slivers
(like they
said you
such smart
people &
we are

across its
of paper

Though the
slivers feel
like shards
at times
cutting this
very page
you left


Lift Off 17 : our own stunned heads

This bird was
in a cartoon

Feathers blown
out in all

Like a rain
of fluffy

And then

On the
tops of

on our

Gerry LaFemina

Gerry LaFemina is the author of several books of poems including 2011’s Vanishing Horizon, three books of prose poems, In 2014 Stephen F. Austin University Press released his newest poetry collection, Little Heretic, and a book of his essays on prosody, Palpable Magic. New work has recently appeared in The Sun, APR, Gettysburg Review and other journals. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, he is an associate professor of English at Frostburg State University and serves as a poetry mentor in the MFA program at Carlow University.


Chaplin, Modern Times, Lincoln Center, Autumn 2015

A late birthday present, even the way you adjust my tie. Like many silent films, it’s a love story, just listen to the orchestra playing the soundtrack: “Smile” cascading toward crescendo. And you, beautiful in a gown that touched you like I would touch you. Because these are post-modern times, nothing, not even romance, is so simple, not even the violin at the musician’s chin, not even applause and laughter, not even the way you will lean into me when we walk back to our door. Shipbuilder’s apprentice, factory hand, night watchman—what wouldn’t he do for her? It’s late September, so much ending we couldn’t foresee. At movie’s end the Tramp and the Gamin (Chaplin and Goddard) walk an empty road toward whatever future is beyond the last chord’s waning. Like missing you, the traffic on Broadway is relentless.


Toe Nail

It cracks like a mirror, comes with its size seven years bad luck. It breaks and splinters. There’s the fear of it becoming ingrown, of it just being gone (the way my mother’s is just gone, and how, in her vanity, she paints the skin where it once was red). But it remains, split like a windscreen hit by gravel. I’m no podiatrist. No pedicurist. I’m not pedantic in the least. Give me a foot, and I might take a yard, of course–that’s the type of guy I could be.

Yet the nail dangles like a tossed rag, the cleaning crew having called it a day. It won’t slough off, what with the bandages and superglue. But the whole toe, the bigness of it? You never know when it might vanish, taking the nail with it. That’s liable to be a bigger problem, a more pronounced limp.