Gary Charles Wilkens: “Forest”

green leaf
————–  red dot of legs
———————————–  —scurry

sky tapestry
—————-  –cloud of bats
————————————  –pierce

red petals
————-  –sliver drizzle
———————————  —shake

clod of dirt
————–  —white flecks
——————————–  —crumble



Gary Charles Wilkens’ book, The Red Light Was My Mind, won the 2006
Texas Review Breakthrough Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The
Texas Review, Moon City Review, Passages North, The Adirondack Review,
James Dickey Review, and Melancholy Hyperbole. He is Associate Professor
of English at Norfolk State University.

Dan A. Cardoza: “My Red Tailed Hawk Revisited”

My Red Tailed Hawk Revisited

I have only glimpsed him
now and again.

The fat dove’s distraction is why he visits my yard.
He worships my bird feeder like an altar.

The prey, in a feathery puff of illusion, is gone.

My Red Tailed Hawk flies like a scythe
through the deepest blue furrows in my backyard.
Anhur airline.

Midday he appears through the crooked branches,
high in the large valley oak that covers half my yard
with nervous summer shade.

He stills, glares down at me, disdaining the
gravity I cling to. He’s done this before.
I imagine he knows gravity is godless,

his dreams filled only of Ra, Anubis, Osiris.
Most of the time, I think him thoughtless,

after all, his skull’s religion is Death & Silence.

With time, the weight of gravity swells,
pressing me smaller.

More frequently I sit in the patio, under the shadows
of clouds. I fend off drowse & dream. Knowing as I become
minuscule, it’s my winged heart he will savor.



Dan A. Cardoza lives in Northern California and is the author of three chapbooks: Nature’s Front Door, Expectation of Stars, and Ghosts in the Cupboard. Partial Credits: Amethyst, Ardent, Better Than Starbucks, California Quarterly, Chaleur Magazine, Entropy, Esthetic Apostle, Foxglove, Frogmore Journal, High Shelf Press, Oddball, Poetry Northwest, The Quail Bell, Skylight 47, Spelk, Unstamatic, and Vita Brevis.


John Sweet: “cage”


rumors of rain all afternoon and so
we hide in the basement or
out in plain sight

in the fields where the poison was
poured for the first 20 years of our lives and
i kiss your wounded heart without

i laugh at the man who
says he’ll save the world

tells me money isn’t what he’s after
which is how i know he’s lying

all dogs roll in shit

all gods demand
unquestioning obedience

watch the wolves take down the child at
the water’s edge and understand
that the sun will still rise tomorrow

believe in the pills until the
morning you don’t wake up

just lie there quietly while the
humor of it all breaks like
waves across your lost and broken



John Sweet sends greetings from the rural wastelands of upstate NY. He is a firm believer in writing as catharsis, and in the continuous search for an unattainable and constantly evolving absolute truth. His latest poetry collections include HEATHEN TONGUE (2017 Kendra Steiner Editions) and BASTARD FAITH (2017 Scars Publications).

Chelsea Sieg: “bryan”


he was one of those cousins i had on facebook
but never really knew
i think i met him a few times when i was a kid.
i think he liked video games.

my mom wouldn’t tell me for months,
didn’t want to tell me.
but finally she mentioned to me
that he died of an overdose
all alone in a bathtub.
alone and blue.

i still had him on facebook.
his page was like my mother,
telling me nothing. like him,
alone and blue. like me,
letting goodbyes wash up
like empty rain. drowning in
sadness that was not my right
to feel.


Chelsea Sieg is a slightly queer, often sarcastic author of poems, interactive fiction games, game reviews, essays, and a whole bunch of other random things. She can be found at

Genelle Chaconas: “Catch”


Her baseball, rusty-skinned, moldy, tossed high as the sun, arches towards someone in the dead weeds we can’t see; they break him into a sea of ragged, liquid shadows. The breeze wilts. That silence more hollow than emptiness, that sound like electric insects, forms. Who are you throwing it to, I ask. She doesn’t answer. I watch her chase into the high weeds until I cannot see.



Genelle Chaconas earned their BA in Creative Writing from CSUS (2009), and their MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University (2015). Their first chapbook is Fallout, Saints and Dirty Pictures (little m Press, 2011), and Yet Wave (the Lune, 2017). They serve as head editor of HockSpitSlurp Magazine.


Nora E. Derrington: “Apologies to Zelda”

Apologies to Zelda

My therapist mentions dissociative episodes, and I think immediately of the moments just after I found out about my ex’s affair.
—–I watched from outside myself as I screamed at him, shoving stacks of previously important documents onto the floor. I saw myself as a creature of anger, a furious golem of flame instead of clay. I wanted to hurt him the way my pride—even then, I knew it was just my pride—had been hurt, and I threw a paperweight at his head. It flew wide, the heavy glass ball cracking the drywall three feet away from his left elbow.
—–The watching part of myself recoiled in dread as I picked up our long-haired dachshund mix, Zelda. I held her out at my husband, crying, “You’re breaking her heart!” She didn’t struggle, just tucked her feather-tail under her legs and turned to gaze at me with baleful eyes—and that look brought me back to myself. I managed to swallow my rage long enough to set her gently back down, to feel shame creeping in to douse the flames.
—–Cancer claimed Zelda not long after, before my ex found out I had planned to leave him all along. I will never stop wishing I could take that moment back. “I know, Zelda,” I want to tell her. “I don’t know why I did that, either.”


Nora E. Derrington holds degrees from Boston University and the University of New Mexico, and she currently teaches English at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Her stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, The Future Fire, and elsewhere, and she reviews fantasy, horror, romance, and science fiction titles for Publishers Weekly.


Ran Walker: “A Closed Lid”

A Closed Lid

—–My mother ran into the den, terrified. My heart raced, as she, unable to speak, began to mime what she had just seen.
—–“Something’s in the bathroom?” I said, watching her point down the hall.
—–She nodded, moving her hand up and down like she was jiggling something.
—–“Something’s in the toilet!” I yelled.
—–This time she nodded so hard I thought she would make herself dizzy.
—–I jumped from the couch and approached the bathroom cautiously, several steps ahead of my mother.
—–Standing on either side, we stared at the closed toilet, unable to ignore the sounds of violent splashing within.
—–I instinctively put my foot on the lid, unsure if whatever was inside could push open the lid and run out into the house.
—–“What is it?” I asked, swallowing hard.
—–“A rat,” she deadpanned, her voice finally back.
—–It seemed as if the splashing was getting louder and louder.
—–“Did you try to flush it?” I asked.
—–“I’ll try—but keep your foot on the lid, okay?”
—–I nodded, more out of fear than obedience.
—–She leaned forward and cautiously pressed down on the handle, as if the motion might offend the thing inside. The familiar sound of the toilet’s flush filled the room.
—–Then silence.
—–We stood staring at the closed toilet, my foot still planted firmly on top.
—–“I guess we should look now,” I said.
—–“Wait,” she responded, running to the kitchen to grab a broom. When she returned, she lifted it, prepared to beat the hell out of whatever emerged.
—–I lifted the lid with sloth-like slowness until we could see the clear, empty toilet bowl.
—–Afterwards we laughed nervously about what had happened, but in the years that remained before I left home to go to college, I nervously looked down every time I used the bathroom, unable to shake the fear that something hairy might one day brush against me.


Ran Walker is the author of sixteen books. He is also the recipient of a Mississippi Arts Commission/NEA fellowship for creative writing and a Callaloo Writers Workshop fellowship in fiction. He currently teaches fiction writing at Hampton University in Virginia.