Thomas Piekarski: “Legalese”


Too early in autumn for leaves to turn,
and boats are still on mum harbor waters.
I feel the warmth of an unencumbered sun
as it massages my back and shoulder blades.

Here at the waterfront retaining wall
that bends and curves its way from the head
of bustling Fisherman’s Wharf,
general contentment rules the day.

From the railing I scan down a few yards
to the beach where a little boy, all alone,
is building a mound from wet sand.
With every handful he shapes and pats
his private little Mount Everest.

But his cause is lost, for the law of erosion
is absolute. And as if to demonstrate
the veracity of this law, the tide
continues to build, rising with every
incoming wavelet. Those wavelets
wash the mound away at a faster pace
than the boy can replenish it.
And so he gives up in defeat,
walking away dejectedly.

A hippie guitar player blissfully strums
and sings to the pleasure of passersby.

Then along comes the spunky Park Ranger
all decked out in an official uniform.
He extends his hand in mock friendship
mandating that the musician move on.

Meanwhile a ways down the stone seawall
a harmonica player carries on uncontested.
He bums a cigarette from a skateboarder
then continues blowing his harp, confident
no law could make him trim his scraggly beard.


Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly and Pushcart Prize nominee. His poetry and interviews have appeared in literary journals internationally, including Nimrod, Florida English Journal, Cream City Review, Mandala Journal, Poetry Salzburg, Poetry Quarterly, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, and Boston Poetry Magazine. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems.


Cassidy Street: “Walden, Brookside Apartments, Jackson Street”

Walden, Brookside Apartments, Jackson Street

Love your sooty, sullied hearth. It is your own.

Love the copper ash sighing in the rubbish bin.

Love the raindrops winking in your empty pane, tracing the dying geranium’s tallow arms.

Love the hunchback hippie-nun in 3B, who swears she taught Hemingway the art of drinking.

Love the spirit of the madwoman in your cupboard, whetting her lone candle stub with secrets whispered in the rain.

Love the damp cracks in your ceiling, through which you’ll rise to meet the goddess of your choosing.

Love the leaping kettle’s humming in your veins. It is your own.



Cassidy Street is a librarian’s assistant from Falkner, MS. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Eunoia Review, Five on the Fifth, Indigo Lit  and the Scarlet Leaf Review. He is also the 2015 winner of the Kirk Creative Writing Award sponsored by Blue Mountain College.

John Grey: “Corfu”


Distant mountains
lie barren and stony,
still as the dead.

Closer to the eye,
towering rock cliffs
come alive
with soaring peregrine falcons.

Among the almond and walnut trees,
lungs inhale and appreciate
air that sweeps in from the ocean,
salty and sharp.

Fresh water’s not forgotten here.
It spurts from red and gray rocks,
clear and clean,
with no instructions bar sipping.

Myrtle grows thick and wild,
its flowers like spiders of snow.
A strawberry bush
overflows with fruit
and a battalion of
a two-tailed pasha butterflies.

But the olive tree is king,
five centuries old in some places
and bent and arthritic to prove it.
Resilience, fertility and regeneration,
gnarled and twisted like a Van Gogh painting –
such is the pitted, ungainly trunk of life.

The sand dunes are my true asylum.
Salt marshes on one side,
lapping Mediterranean waves on the other.
I stroll between acres of creaking rustling bamboo
and foaming whitecaps.
A minor event
as cures often are to other people.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review, and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East, and Midwest Quarterly.

Doug Hoekstra: “Monument Valley”

Monument Valley

Heading south on 191
Cars slip away like magic
As we head closer to the reservation
As if a 40 percent poverty rate might
Stick to the skin like a bad rash
Instead of an opportunity to serve
Another point of view

Purple sage, rich red sand, black
Apache tears under vast white clouds
Dropped onto an eggshell blue sky,
Cracked backdrop of spiritual enlightenment
Crass commercialism and cinematic dreams
John Wayne’s ghost battling with
A simpler way of life


Raised in Chicago and residing in Nashville, Doug Hoekstra’s short stories, essays, and poems have appeared in numerous literary journals.  He has two book-length collections to his name The Tenth Inning (2015) and  Bothering the Coffee Drinkers (2007 Independent Publisher Award finalist) and as a singer-songwriter, released eight CDS on U.S. and European labels, touring extensively throughout the US and Europe In support.

Kathryn de Leon: “Chickenpox”

Chickenpox   (1962)

I found the bump
below my belly button,

sitting on the toilet,
petticoat encircling me
like a queen’s grand hoop skirt,
feet dangling above the floor,
an angel too new
to get off the ground.

I rubbed the red bump,
pressed it
like a mysterious button,
wondering if anything would happen.
Nothing happened.

I’ve long forgotten the fever
and the countless bumps
that came out like twilight stars
all over my helpless skin.

I remember only that first bump,
one red blossom
in a field of smooth, white,
little girl skin,

and I remember innocence,
long before pubic hair,
long before sex,

life still white,
everything white,
except that single
red bump.



Kathryn de Leon has been writing poetry off and on since she was about nine years old. She lived most of her life in Los Angeles, but is now residing in England due to a life-long love of the Beatles. She’s had poems published in several small literary magazines.

Pieper Roderick: “Ashtray Memories”

Ashtray Memories

The insistent smell of cigarette smoke has always given me nostalgia, not for my father, who had never had a cigarette in his life (after tenth grade), but for my uncle, who had smoked a pack every day (after tenth grade). I loved the smoke, silver like his hair, exhaled like a whisper, like a secret, like the punch line of a joke my father would have said I was too young to hear. He would glower at my uncle who would look back, sheepish eyes over a wolfish smile so you knew exactly who was wearing whose clothing.

The nostalgia isn’t worth walking behind this old man on the sidewalk as he meanders in a lazy zigzag. I try to scoot past him, but I’m worried I’ll burn myself on his cigarette. I guess memories are like that, impossible to dodge past without singeing yourself.

My uncle is smoke now. Cremated. You are what you breathe. My father caught me in tenth grade burning a cigarette. He yelled at me for it, but my mom told him that he was being too hard on me, that I was grieving, growing, going through a phase. I didn’t feel like explaining that I just wanted to smell him again, that the end glowed like his eyes catching the porch light and tossing it my way. America’s pastime. Passed time is all I want back, when he would finish a final story and stab out the stub of the cigarette in an ashtray, as full as my head was of memories. He’d give me a final hug, smelling stronger than ever, and send me home on my way.

I look closer at the man in front of me. Hair silver like smoke, built like my uncle. Suddenly I don’t want to pass him. If I pass him, I’ll see his face, but this way maybe I can tell myself I’m following my uncle’s ghost through the night, through one final, stolen night before he pats me on the head and sends me across the street to go to bed, walking past my father whose nose wrinkles at the smell of cigarette smoke still leaking off of me. How like my uncle to cheat death for a single night, just to give me another story.


Pieper Roderick grew up in India and Indonesia before moving back to the United States where he was born. He attended university in Florida where he still lives, teaching high school English. His favorite color is purple, and all of his uncles are still living, though many of them do smoke.

alan catlin: “Incautious Reverie”

Incautious Reverie

She was cautious, so wary,
she hid her feelings from everyone,
including herself, as tarnished images
that could only be revealed once
a cyanide solution was applied.
What was revealed was a photograph
of a dream where voices were heard
but there was no one there to speak.
Was a shadow of a spirit that hid
behind objects the way rocks hide
in a landscape of stones mined from
a nightmare that has no beginning
and no end. Hiding reveals nothing,
she thought, roots you to a ground
that refuses to be as solid as the roots
that seek to find purchase there.
Unbalanced as she was nothing is
reveled to her like images in a developing
tray. Remove them too soon and too little
is exposed, too late, and all the details
become fixed in the wrong places, become
landscapes with no horizons. Still,
she continues to bury what she needs most,
mornings after dreaming, the day becomes
the night she was afraid to focus on,
a reverse image on a negative that mirrors
what is missing in her life. Reaching out
to hold something, anything at all, is futile,
the fears she sought to hide have claimed her.

Alan Catlin is the author of Blue Velvet, winner of the 2017 Slipstream Chapbook Competition. His full length book Wild beauty will be published in 2018 by Future Cycle Press.


David Anthony Sam: “Hear like a Stone”

Hear like a Stone

Hear, like a stone,
as the Amtrak rattles
its brittle commute
back to your home.

Your fate is as clear
as vapor wriggling
from the lips of
your dead saints.

The millstones grind
your thoughts until
they falter like
devious old men.

Sunset is red-gold
on the rails, astral
fortune for ephemera
like you. Then,

you punch Sicily
into your smartphone,
hoping someone answers
your granite ears.

–after Rimbaud, “Entends Comme Brame”


David Anthony Sam lives in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. Sam has four collections, and his chapbook, Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson, won the 2016 Grand Prize in GFT Press’s Chapbook Contest. In 2017, he began serving as GFT Poetry Editor.