Rob Plath is a writer from New York. He is most known for his monster collection A BELLYFUL OF ANARCHY (epic rites press 2009). His newest collection is MY SOUL IS A BROKEN DOWN VALISE (epic rites press 2019). You can see more of his work at robplath.com
Some movies are endlessly quotable
like The Princess Bride
or Groundhog Day. Some references
are so ingrained I can’t recall
where they come from. In the showroom,
I babble to my wife and son. Describe
a checkered lampshade as retro. A moment later,
I hear the word retro echoed back to me
in a stranger’s language. In passing,
I hear it again, my word:
minimalistic. I feel powerful,
a puppet master; a maker of persons,
I name my son Theodore and a first
cousin names her son the same.
I name my daughter Naomi, sit back and wait.
Cameron Morse was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing Program at the University of Missouri–Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, Portland Review, and South Dakota Review. His first poetry collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His three subsequent collections are Father Me Again (Spartan Press, 2018), Coming Home with Cancer (Blue Lyra Press, 2019), and Terminal Destination (Spartan Press, 2019). He lives with his pregnant wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri, where he manages Inklings’ FOURTH FRIDAYS READING SERIES with Eve Brackenbury and serves as poetry editor for Harbor Review. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.
———-i.m. Erik H.
I woke up this morning and got the email with the news.
I had a cup of coffee, read a poem by Paul Celan, and ate corn flakes.
My wife and I got the kids off to school.
She took a shower and went to work.
I went to my dentist appointment to get my teeth cleaned.
I went to my haircut appointment.
I did an errand at the bank and bought a few things for lunch.
I went home and had a shave and a shower.
I prepared a poem for teaching next term.
I made my younger daughter’s favorite chicken-mustard sauce for lunch.
She came home and we ate spaghetti with the sauce.
I had a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate.
I watched “The Daily Show” with Daniel Radcliffe as the guest.
I wrote a shopping list and drove to the supermarket.
I stopped on the way at the car wash.
It was like going to the underworld and coming out to sunlight again.
Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album Somebody’s Hometown in 2015 and the EP Défense de jouer in 2016.
Advice for Attending a Whitesnake Concert
It’s been thirty years, but I assure you
you’ll require an energy center
to control wizened muscles of your neck,
shoulders, back. There’s no loud music
without movement, no power chords
that won’t leave you feeling powerless
from aging. Your ears—they’ll hum
in quiet after, playing dull, familiar songs
that buzz as though from feedback,
amplifiers. Know, too,
your experience will be prurient—
lyrics not discreet, stage patter not polite
in the modern sense
of respecting one for more than urges.
Expect the guitarist to thrust with his instrument.
Plan on lust. Your body will try its best to get away.
We won’t call that dancing; it’s more a fervor,
as if religious, that has you atremble, at its mercy
from old bones out. Try to enjoy it,
even if its day has passed,
the band, society in its 1980s phase.
Try, too, not to pay attention to the hair,
remember it. Focus on not falling
after you stand on the seat
of a folding metal chair—
weary fists warring with empty space,
wide hips swaying. It’s okay
to feel relieved you’re still alive.
Ace Boggess is author of four books of poetry, most recently I Have Lost the Art of Dreaming It So (Unsolicited Press, 2018). His writing appears in Notre Dame Review, Rhino, Rattle, and other journals.
we painted an oak tree
and hung it above the bed
our first november,
now tiny fingers lie between us
in sudden shifts
grasping at nothing
and falling back-
listless lateral roots
this baby boy,
my baby boy
I can’t see his dreaming
without seeing you
how you tore your body,
your fire and flesh
to make shelter
you turn to face me now, in bloom
full-lipped, ripe as an avocado
I can see through your shirt
drops of milk on your breasts
I know my body is useless,
even as sacrifice,
but still I want to learn
how to offer it as worship
Kevin Coons‘s fiction and poetry has been featured previously in Grey Sparrow, Forge Magazine, Black-Listed Poetry Review, and several other online zines.
Long narrow room with black corners
Tucked away, mind and heart get by
Hipster cowpoke sipping a tall boy
While paging through a handmade zine
Reading about what used to be obscene
The stamp on my hand a sharpie C
Or minimalist derriere
Nothing has changed in this world
The President is still corrupt
The nolonger kids are still alright
DeKalb, Palatine, and River Grove
Thirsty Whale and Haymaker punch
Fast, faster, and fastest we sped
Cascading from verse to verse
Dancing with the crowd, three sets
Sleeveless tees and skinny black pants
Not unlike the jeans I chose to wear
On this smoke laden night
A complete accident of time
Sweating hard underneath the lights
There are bars like this everywhere
The moon and the Martian plains
Turn me on like a lite brite, babe
Overdrive and distortion come
The bands are still good
The stage is still high
Outrage and empathy ring
Bass, guitars, and drums we sing
Loud enough to hope – in love
Doug Hoekstra is a Chicago-bred, Nashville-based writer. His first book, Bothering the Coffee Drinkers, appeared on the Canopic Publishing (TN) imprint in April 2006 and earned an Independent Publisher Award (IPPY) for Best Short Fiction (Bronze Medal). Other stories and poems of his have appeared in numerous online and print literary journals; a second book of prose, The Tenth Inning, was released independently in 2015, and a book of poetry, Unopened, was released in 2019.
The Sweetness Before
Her pulse beats in her neck like
outside the window
they drink water with
crystals of sugar
swirling into my coffee
her lipstick marks
the rim of my mug
eyes alight with moss and dew.
This is what love tastes like.
This is the sweetness
Rae Rozman is a middle school counselor in Austin, Texas. Her poetry often explores themes of queer love (romantic and platonic), brain injury, and education and has been published in several literary magazines. You can find her on Instagram @mistress_of_mnemosyne for poetry, books, and pictures of her rescue bunnies.
My Daughter Creates a Taxonomy of Every Little Thing
Birds or rabbits is not a simple question
but we have to choose, likewise
windows or doors, the moon
or the stars. That’s the game
What’s essential, what belongs to you
more than the other? Letters or numbers
yellow or blue, trees or grass?
It’s a surprise and a relief
to reduce the world as if it’s too much
Because after all it is
I take pinecones over seashells
blue over yellow, bees over
butterflies; now a god of logic
now a god of instinct
You take brush over comb
windows over doors
sky over sea
And when we’re done
halving the beautiful world
you ask me for tea
with sugar and honey
And all the birds
come flying back
Jeffrey Hermann‘s work has appeared in Hobart, Pank Magazine, Juked, Houseguest Magazine, and other publications. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2018 by Juked.
Father told me about the meat
of a mastodon—
the Siberian winter kept it fresh
all these years.
I slept in the freezer
with the meat.
I liked the cold
& couldn’t move.
Father brought a redhead
in a yellow dress
a tulip in her teeth
to thaw me out.
A man has a choice.
Remembered in me
a pretty boy
reading a book in the park—
I told father I cared for him.
Father was a peak.
Mountain boys know
up top, the snow
Down here, heavy
yellow night dumps
flurry after flurry. This snow
cannot escape spring.
Too early in May,
the woods tease
their little flowers.
I smell the thaw of river.
His breath a furnace
to my neck.
it’s just too warm here—
Jack Berning is a writer and graduate student at Colorado State University, pursuing an MFA in poetry. He currently lives alone in Fort Collins, Colorado.
he gazed up
he continued to
knowing the stars
Dr. Roger Singer has been in private practice for 38 years in upstate New York. He has four children, Abigail, Caleb, Andrew and Philip and seven grandchildren. Dr. Singer has served on multiple committees for the American Chiropractic Association, lecturing at colleges in the United States, Canada and Australia, and has authored over fifty articles for his profession and served as a medical technician during the Vietnam era. Dr. Singer has over 1,050 poems published on the internet, magazines and in books and is a Pushcart Award Nominee.