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Father and Son

“Tell me, son,
Are you afraid of the dark?”
But I am afraid of darkness.”
“You speak as if there’s a difference.”
“And you pretend they’re both the same.”
“What is one if not the other?”
“You are asking, ‘What is evil if not demons?’”
“Where have you seen this separation?”
“The chest,
For it hides from the outside what’s within.”
“Then how must we deal with each?”
“Let one obey the law of nature.
While the other must be forced to obey.”
“Is forcing obedience not oppression?”
“The difference between a friend and a pet,
Depends on where your dog will piss.”

Ghazi Mase is a Bengali American Muslim raised in Brooklyn. Ghazi writes to discover what is buried inside, and hopes that his writing will tell you more about him than he can tell you about himself.

The Intruder

I wasn’t paying attention
But, suddenly, you gave me no choice
Split me open til the alphabet soup spilled out
“Not your time” smeared against the sink

You were an interloper

A kiss interrupted by a bloody nose
Four horsemen bucking wildly through the county fair
Unnerving the show ponies and untying their bows
Projectile vomit at a child’s birthday party
Covering the toys in cake and bile

You were an unwelcome intrusion.

A trashcan stuffed with doggie bags, cooking in the hot summer sun
Putrid realities piercing a lovely sunset walk
Full frontal nudity well before noon

A surgical mask filtering out sweet lilac spring air

At first, you were a perfect night
The right time, the right place
My time, my place
Life was about to begin

But we woke up to find that I’d bled on your sheets.

Joanna Collins is a Nashville poet who moonlights as a government attorney. She was the Featured Poet in Nashville Poets Quarterly 2019 Q4 publication and has work in, or forthcoming from, Indolent Books, The American Theatre Chronicles, The Underground Writers Association of Portland, Maine, Funky Feminist, and Fleas on the Dog.

Joanna has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University Law School.

Want vs. need
to dear W.S.

Oh if I had succeeded
if I had had my wish
we never would have met

There’s some big wise
navigator here behind the scenes
who knows all the maps
and elevations
or maybe still
goes by the stars

Born in Michigan under the first full moon of 1979, Moira Walsh has lived and worked on three continents – as a farmhand, baker, receptionist, cleaner, support person, and performing artist.

She is currently based in southern Germany where she freelances as a translator and copywriter. Moira’s first published poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Sky Island Journal, Waxing & Waning, and Wild Roof Journal.

Skunk Eating Snake

Shall we dance?
We twirl in the twilight
amongst dry, arid crevices
how I twirl and slither
skither and skatter
in scented words of my own design.

Biting deep into your neck of calloused catharsis
I angle into a Euclidean descent
repeatedly shredding your leather head
which hisses, twists and gasps
in this frigid Montana dawn
cradled in the armpit of dead delta dreams.

Mark Hammerschick writes poetry and fiction and has been published sporadically. He holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and a BS and MBA. He is a lifelong resident of the Chicago area and currently lives on the north shore, most of his professional career has been focused on digital strategy and online consulting as a solution architect and digital transformation strategist.

His current work will be published in The Metaworker, Breadcrumbs Magazine, The Fictional Cafe and HP 2020 Poetry Challenge.

Bike Ride

The first drops are
so unwelcome.
You didn’t plan on icy rain
touching your skin so unpleasantly.
So rudely, really.
Your socks squish in your shoes.
Droplets from your nose.
You accept
this drowning normal
The only thing to do is
to continue to squeak through.
Warm your heart
one stride at a time

Sheila Regan is a journalist and arts critic. She is new to publishing poetry.

Ever is a Long Time

Ever is a long time, he said.
But I was adamant.

I knew best or thought I did.

He struggled to compose himself,
while I watched. Some things
never change.

I was determined to have the last word.
(Why is that?)

He turned at my voice, with a pleased
disbelief on his face,
which never could hide things from me.

Ever is more than just today.

Cynthia Horvath is an attorney, wife, mother, global health advocate, published author, encaustic artist, and poet. In August of 2018, Cynthia was one of nine poets selected for the 30/30 Project by Tupelo Press.

Cynthia’s poem “Cold as the Deepest Moonlight” was recently accepted for publication for the Gemini issue of Finding the Birds literary journal.


I walked out the door
    too many years ago
    to remember any of the finer details of that day

I know my bags were filled
    with scraps of anger
    still sharp enough to cause a paper cut on my hands

I had empty pockets and worn shoes
    My ears ringing from your scorn
    The Greyhound ticket firmly clenched in my teeth

I was homesick
    for a home I never knew

Jamey Boelhower is a writer and teacher in a public school. His writing often reflects his own life experiences as well as personal observations of the world around us. He is also a husband and father of six children.

Hero’s Journey

The greatest adventures
always seem to be arcs
beginning and ending
with a chasm of character
in between the lines

Your first words, first steps
trembling on uncertain ground
become false teeth and a walker
a trade made, inevitable
despite your protests

Death squares the circle
in an old hospital bed
returning you to the womb
—Darkness and Light—
for another kind of birth

Luke Shuffield is a 29-year-old content writer for a business education platform. He performs slam poetry and resolves to write 30 new poems in 2020.

Stones in a Glass House

We are two stones,
Rubbed smooth in a glass house.
At night we dream of an irresistible force.

You dream of standing
Against it, tall and solid,

I dream it hurls me.
Shattering the window-wall,
I roll downhill with abandon.

By day we stand sentinel by a stream
Flowing Frank-Lloyd-Wright-style
Through our clear dwelling.

Side by side we contemplate
Until, moldering unashamed,
We are carried away.

Lorna Wood is a violinist and writer in Auburn, Alabama, who began writing seriously when her youngest son went to high school. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in great weather for MEDIA (2020 anthology), Poetry South (2018 Pushcart nominee), and Luminous Echoes (poems shortlisted for Into the Void’s 2016 poetry contest), among others.

She has also published fiction, creative nonfiction, and scholarly essays, and she is Senior Editor of Gemini Magazine.

First Self Portrait: Water Color

At forty-one, it seems I should know
that the first color I need isn’t white,
or peach, isn’t manila or pearl, not bone,
but purple. The shade surrounding

my face, followed closely by heavily
diluted red and orange, particularly
around my nose and chin, representative

of blood within, such translucent skin.
A touch of yellow sets off the light
on my forehead, where hair doesn’t cast

a shadow. My blue eyes – the most striking
surprise is not color at all, but white—hint
of a glisten. And what joy to paint a plain black
shirt. This was me. Is me. Was me. For a moment. 

Katie Kemple works as a media consultant. Her poetry labyrinth began last century in a meadow in upstate New York with Shakespeare’s collected works and a broken chair. She currently lives with her family in Southern California. 

Ocean Surge Lust

ocean surge lust, sick of strip malls,
    every day break the sludge:
caffeine, wine, rapping,

living in a cat world –
   what’s on the menu? diner? mcdonald’s?
too cold for a hike
                           in town north;

survive on poetry, notebooks,
                             cravings for
silent absorption in woodland,
yearnings for the
                                          trail –

zippy-fueled mad scrawlings of
                haiku, lyrics, love
high on dreams of
lake superior, mississauga
                       river, old man of houy –

Jack Dempster is a Toronto folk poet, musician, and editor. He has a BA in English from Trent University. His work has been published for Metro Toronto’s Poetry Challenge (haiku), and in Wunderlit Magazine, Former People, The Town Crier, Jam & Sand, Gnashing Teeth, Of Poets and Frenchmen (chapbook) and Juniper – A Poetry Journal. Jack Dempster produces Cascadian Art.

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