Kersten Christianson: “40 Winks of Certain”

40 Winks of Certain

All indigo in this candle-
light vigil of carnival knowledge.

Be my darling particle,
orbiting sister, my diamond sky.

We’ll key the ignition to Mars, to red
thunder serendipity, raspberry perfect

rocket logic traveling south, south,
south along Sunnyside Street to Shangri-La.


Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she resides in Sitka, Alaska. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. 


Catherine Zickgraf: “The Barrens”

The Barrens

Under lights strung taut across unthawed lots,
we brought our tragedies, ribboned in red.
It’s the happiest season, they said.
So we flooded the lines among aisles of pine.

But as funds dried up, we paid with our quilts.
Then lowering heads down fog-full streets,
we dragged home firs, trailing boughs at our feet.

Seeking heat we cooked trunks in barrels of rust
which turned ruby the throats of the lonely among us,
cheeks bursting blood in a fiery flush.

If our flesh were scalded raw,
if blood dripped thin along our fists,
who would ash our decay once our souls flew away?


Catherine Zickgraf has performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan, and three dozen other cities, but now her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write more poetry. Her new chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Watch and read more of her poetry at

Ann Howells: “Interpreting an Illuminated Manuscript”

Interpreting an Illuminated Manuscript

This is the garden, about the business of growth and greening, blossoming and bearing fruit. Lush. Fecund.

This, then, is Adam, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, reigning over the garden and all within, subservient only to God. Man is born.

Here lies the serpent, lithesome and long, a black velvet daydream. These are the leathery wide wings of angels and demons that enfold us.

Lilith left.

This, of course, is Eve, cobbled of a curved rib, fist of clay – afterthought, room tacked behind the house to accommodate an unwanted relative. Eve, coaxed and cajoled, plucks forbidden fruit. Sweetness is born. Knowledge is born. Eve covers herself with leaves. Shame is born. Sin is born.

Here are Cain and Abel. Cain raises his hand, slays Abel. Killing is born, and murder, and war.

This is the garden, and the garden is earth. And earth fills with leaf and shoot, tendril and root, leaf and blossom, and all manner of creatures that creep, swim and fly. This, then, man puts asunder.


Ann Howells has edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years, recently going: Publications: Black Crow in Flight (Main Street Rag), Under a Lone Star (Village Books), and Letters for My Daughter (Flutter). Her chapbook, Softly Beating Wings, recently won the William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Contest. She has four Pushcart nominations.

Ben Nardolilli: “Memorial Park”

Memorial Park

Three teams of children kick the absence of a soccer ball
Across a field of brownouts, avoiding the broken pottery
And a henge of rusted cars, no one is keeping score
Yet the players aim to make their goals between tires
Arranged into the basic outline of columns crumbling into ruins

They’re using their hands and I use my voice to condemn
The yellow and red card irregularities at play in the field,
Between laughter they say I’m too angry, they say my complaints
Are scattershot with too much rambling, plus I’m not dressed
To ref like the ones they’ve seen in the older books

The children ask me to join them, I decline, the game is long gone,
Red and blue lights paint flashes on the graffiti and rust,
A manhunt spills out onto the soccer field and I run,
Looking back in time to see an officer present the children
With a ball covered in barbed wire to kick in between the tires.


Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at and is looking to publish a novel.