Tom Laichas: “The Wait Won’t Be Long”

The Wait Won’t Be Long

Sometimes, in boisterous play, the two children scuff the Garden’s soil, exposing floorboards and joists. Sometimes, on a wander through woods, they happen on paths too straight to be creature-made.

All day, the great tree shadows their questions. It sprouts from the center of a vast circumference. Its branches hang low with heavy fruit. Its height rockets toward a noontime zenith. Light as papier-mâché, it lofts well beyond sight.

Timber and starlight, sugar and clay: how long can such a confection last?

Lock children away in a room with a cake. Before closing the door, tell them no, don’t eat a crumb.

Walk away.

The wait won’t be long.


Tom Laichas‘s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ambit, 3.1 Venice, Masque and Spectacle, Panoply, Eclectica, and elsewhere. His first collection is due out from High Window Press (UK) in 2020. 

Ernesto Reyes: “Day-dreamer”


_____I came into the kitchen to grab a quick snack—an apple, strangely, I was craving. My mother’s in the kitchen as well, stone-faced, hand-writing my father’s will. My father, in the living room, is watching a game show, sitting on his chair, smoking on his cigarette, coughing his lungs out.
_____The people on the game show seem young, inarticulate, and naive. They’re asked, “In the 1954 film On the Waterfront, who is the actor that famously says, ‘You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.’”
_____The young people look at each other, stumped, and struggle for the right answer. My father nearly jumps out of his chair and yells into the television, “Brando! Marlon Brando!” but unfortunately, he’s here—and not in the game show; the young people decide to use one of their lifelines.
_____My mother, who doesn’t like movies or music or art or books, says, “Even I know that.” (She doesn’t move nor look up from her writing when saying this.)
_____“I know, those dumb kids—must be college students,” my father says somewhat sarcastically, although there’s always, always, a pinch of seriousness whenever he talks. My father inhales on his cigarette, starts coughing uncontrollably again.
_____My mother chuckles, and turns to me: “Yes, or maybe they’re poets.” I don’t say anything. I only take a hard bite out of my apple and leave and spend the rest of the day in my room, flipping through the worn, yellow pages of my aged book—one of my many—to explore, to discover, to escape.



Ernesto Reyes is currently an undergraduate at Fresno State, where he is studying English literature and creative writing. His stories have been published in the San Joaquin Review, Flies Cockroaches & Poets, Subtle Fiction, the Acentos Review, and Brilliant Flash Fiction.

Kyle Kutz: “Route 283”

Route 283

There were eyes
in the skies of Cocalico

above Route 283

that loomed overhead,
in the middle of the night,
peering down at me.

I’d no clue what they wanted–

bloodshot yet serene–

or what tales they’d tell
if given a mouth
and good reason to speak.

I hit a ramp,
taken aback,
and lost ’em off the highway,

but my son
soon spoke of eyes
hovering above our driveway,

which didn’t look too happy
about my decision to leave

them behind,
high and dry,
on Route 283.



Kyle Kutz is a semi-recent graduate of Kutztown University, earning his B.A. in professional writing. His work has appeared in numerous publications, such as Expressions, Essence, Shoofly, Wood Coin, WORK, Visitant Lit, Aberration Labyrinth, and The Jet Press. He resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, writing freelance for LNP.

Luke Skoza: “Body Frame Ceiling”

Body Frame Ceiling

The street never matched her voice or body,
Lightning hitting steel.

Ceiling fans fold over body frames
red skin on the floor.

A head
with two noses
closing themselves in.
Praying to God on a cellphone,
a ceiling light turned low.

It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or marriage fails and people say
they knew it was the wrong idea,
staring directly into the eyes of an African cat.

But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly
on the other side of things while
the sun was moving from the sand to the sea.



Luke Skoza is a 30-year-old model, poet, and ESL teacher. He currently works as an ESL teacher in Moscow. His poems have appeared in the Silenced, Retort Magazine, Anti Heroin Chic, The Houston Review, and the Chiron Review.

Lorrie Ness: Two Poems

Code Blue///

From bed she hurled the spines downstream/
the pages cankered/
from the buckshot of her fingers/
The ossuary of warm colors/
not fully spent/
released to those who cast bones/
and divine the future/

Plucked petals of sky/
and sea/ and azure margins/
were her medium/
of mosaic language decoupage/

Mounds of torn blue breasts erupting at her hips/
like new volcanic islands/
breaking the tension for a moment/
ephemeral organs/

She festooned them with recycled names/
Reckless/ Stormy Pearl/
Just Below Heaven/ Swatches/
of retired cornflower bathrooms/
Turquoise excised/
identified/ She had become/
the Rosetta Stone/
naming each shade/
so she could offer herself to a friend’s embrace/


Ms./Ms/M/igraine Diary

My calendar is pocked, branded. Squared
a hundred ways. Mmm ssing
letters mounted.

Gridlines stamp steady lanes. Parameters.
Boxing my eyes up. And left and over
and. Then yesterday.

And with. The space of forward.
Marked by blood blue “Ms.” The silent
strangle of brain on paper.

Ms -taken bruise on Tuesday. Plotted.
Last week – forever?

Ms. the woman refusing
to blue the space with r. “M/s” map-over,
worked over lines.

Within the box
with blue convention in. My pillbox
is the shape of day.

My pillbox is a Russian doll. Nesting
neat on Tuesday.
No gridlines leaning on future.


Lorrie Ness grew up in rural Indiana and currently lives in Virginia. Writing is her means of connection and is her refuge. She draws inspiration for her writing through time outdoors. She has forthcoming work in the American Journal of Poetry.

Emma Demopoulos: “Midnight Swimming”

Midnight Swimming

I float, suspending face up in cool water, letting my legs drip toward the ground
The matrix of chlorine, hydrogen, and oxygen cups my head and fills my ears
I wait to hear the sounds of the night, but all I hear is the swirling of the above ground pool
I steal a glance at the sky and hope that the universe does not return the favor
But it always does
It reaches down to me in all of its infinite glory, bursting out in colors, only some of which I see
It bends at the hips, puckers its lips, and kisses my temple
I am only stardust clumped together and floating in a pool that’s not mine


Emma Demopoulos is a writer, creator, and general enthusiast of all things odd or quirky. She finished her debut novel and seeks representation. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her family and two cats. She graduated from Miami University with a degree in Creative Writing. Her Instagram handle is @demopwriter.

Rick Pieto: “As I was driving”

As I was driving

Rick Pieto is a visual poet and writer living in the Silver Spring, MD area. His visual poetry has been exhibited at Rhizome DC and Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and also published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He received a Ph.D. in media ecology from New York University and has taught at Georgetown University and University of Baltimore.

Charles Rammelkamp: Two Flash Fictions

What’s in a Name? 

_____Morna said, “Do you think he recognized me? Could you tell?”
_____I’d barely noticed the guy when he sailed past on his bike – a day-glo blue helmet, dark glasses. Who could tell what he saw? Besides, we were still in Morna’s car at the time, just pulled up to a meter.


_____“We had a very brief affair,” Morna explained. “We were both on a panel judging a poetry contest. My marriage was at a low-point then, and there was a lot of alcohol involved. But I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t really like him, to tell you the truth. He was a snob, so superior.

_____We were having a pizza after a political rally. Another anti-Trump event. These meetings get to be tiring after a while, the need to sustain my outrage, but Morna and I hadn’t seen each other for a while, so it was an excuse to get together for lunch.


_____“He was married, too. I wonder if he still is. I don’t see how anybody could live with him, but Bob and I are still together, so who knows? How’s it with you and Fred?”
_____“Ted. We’re still married. Everything’s fine, actually. It’s been nineteen years. Wow. He’s my second husband. The twins are from my first marriage.”
_____“That’s right, Ted. How are the twins?”


_____“You really don’t think he saw me? Recognized me? I didn’t know he rode a bike. Well, it figures.”
_____“How do you mean?”
_____“He was always worried about his carbon footprint. Don’t get me wrong. I think that’s legitimate. It’s just that he’s, I don’t know. Wow, I hadn’t seen him in ten, fifteen years.”
_____“I really couldn’t tell if he saw us or not, Morna. What’s his name, anyway?”
_____“You know, I’ve actually forgotten! It might have been Ted, to tell you the truth. Or maybe Fred.”
_____I wondered how many affairs Morna’d had. She was forever complaining about Bob. She used to drink quite a lot, too.


Thank You for Being a Friend

_____In the men’s locker room, Buddy Haskell was sitting in one of the faux leather lounge chairs watching a re-run of an episode of The Rifleman, a black and white western that aired in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s, starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain. Buddy watched this show every Saturday morning at the gym. I’d just been for my swim and was headed toward the showers when I heard the kid on the show, Mark, Lucas McCain’s young boy, say, “I can even say all seven stanzas of ‘Sheridan’s Ride.’”
_____Wait, a TV show where a kid recites poetry? Were people just more literate back then, was reciting a poem on a TV show not a big deal? “Sheridan’s Ride,” a Civil War poem by Thomas Buchanan Read, a portrait painter as well as a poet, though more popular in Florence than the United States. Portraits of Lincoln, Longfellow, Tennyson, the Brownings, William Henry Harrison. “Sheridan’s Ride” among his most famous poems.
_____On The Rifleman, General Philip Sheridan had just ridden up to the McCain Ranch looking for a place to stay. Mark, who worshipped the man the way very young children admire army soldiers, began to recite, “Up from the south at break of day …” and through to the last line of the first stanza, “And Sheridan twenty miles away.”
_____But after one verse, Sheridan interrupted him. “Sheridan twenty miles away,” he scoffed. “Now that’s what a man gets for trying to serve his country. They write a poem about him!” An attitude that may be the most American of attitudes. Sneering at literature.
_____In real life, Sheridan was a career U.S. army officer, played a vital role in the Appomattox campaign that brought the Civil War to an end. He was also the one who initiated the scorched earth policy Sherman would later follow through Georgia to the sea.
_____After the war, Grant sent Sheridan out west where he fought in the Indian Wars – The Great Sioux War, the Red River War, the Ute War. Popular history credits Sheridan with saying, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
_____In 1870 Grant sent Sheridan overseas to observe the Franco-Prussian War, and the next year he was in Chicago to coordinate military relief efforts during the Great Chicago Fire. In the 1880’s he became a great supporter of the Yellowstone area, preserving it from development. (later to become a national park, of course). Sheridan died from a heart attack at the age of fifty-seven, in 1888, having just sent his memoirs to a publisher. He outlived Read by sixteen years, though obviously Read’s poem was still being read in the mid-twentieth century.
_____“Sheridan, what a bloodthirsty bastard he was,” I commented to Buddy, still marveling at how American history and literature’d been so casually part of a knock-off TV western.
_____Buddy grunted. We always greeted each other casually when we saw each other at the gym, not exactly friends but familiar, on a first-name basis.
_____“I figured he was a made-up character,” he said. “You never know, do you? The Golden Girls comes on next.”
_____A commercial for some kind of deodorant came on then, and I proceeded to the showers.



Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for BrickHouse Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. A chapbook of poems, Jack Tar’s Lady Parts, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing. Another poetry chapbook, Me and Sal Paradise, has just been published by FutureCycle Press.

Mark Vogel: “At the edge”

At the edge

Wind-shaped vegetation and sand submit forever
_____to ocean winds. Fat clouds drift in
a seamless sky, bunching like a herd.

From the picture window scraggly pines and hemlocks
_____rise over tangled power lines and gray
shingled roofs on houses built on stilts.

Below, gold-finches flit in yellow bushes,
_____but my binoculars lock-in on a toy ship
stuck on the horizon, on the Pacific pushing to eat land.

As if just for me, the sun appears, pinpoints white waves
that mark the separation of worlds, as they lap,
then retreat before birds darting to secure tiny treasures.

I focus on a misty trail that meets the beach where
_____a walker with dog flirts with water,
wind, light. Far out, a startling hint of more—

a whale surfaces, promising that others are close,
though this morning not mature I feel like a child who
is drawn toward snake highways, shiny cities,

named mountains—where land flattens into time zones.

A child growing responsible facing what must be faced.
_____A child who already knows how pig-faced
politicians gobble orange pumpkins in a pile.

How multi-colored RVs own the fat river. How further
_____on in the aging concrete urban heart,
burnt and wounded relatives laugh

under this same infinite sky,

with the same ache determined to push boundaries.
_____Until a last look at the ocean shimmer
leaves no doubt the grey will burn away.


Mark Vogel lives at the back of a Blue Ridge holler with his wife, Susan Weinberg, an accomplished fiction and creative non-fiction writer. He currently serves as Professor of English at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Poems and short stories have appeared in several dozen literary journals.