Michael Lee Johnson: “Family Feud”

Family Feud

in the rain,
bolt angular lightning
slithers away west.
nanosecond flash
family memories,
tautology fault of style
acerbic chats
daggers in heart these words,
dicey dungeon sharp spike.
A labyrinth, ruined passages,
secret chambers, cellmates, now
for life.
Wind storms move away,
young willow trees natter—
smallest branches, still snap.


Michael Lee Johnson lived 10 years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois. Mr. Johnson published in more than 1098 new publications, his poems have appeared in 40 countries, he edits, publishes 10 poetry sites. 

Christopher Barnes: Two Poems


…fortune-bitter.  You sport
a disposition…


…palette knife.  Turf
onto wire rack…


…”Cudgelling fossilized blockhead,”
she lisped…


…our gabber.  Ultimately,

Bridges Home

…in Crab St.  Rule-book tickles


…not oatmeal.  Fortify
with Quorn…


…history museum,
rubbernecking a colossus…


…I slide back the gateleg,
a torrent of Motown…


Christopher Barnes is an award-winning writer and artist who also works in radio and film. 2005 saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES, published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh. In May 2006, he had a solo art/poetry exhibition at The People’s Theatre. He has also written art criticism for Peel and Combustus.

Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah: “Freesia”


Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah, who is an algebraist and artist, works in mixed media.  His poetry, songs, prose, art and hybrid have appeared in numerous journals. He lives in the southern part of Ghana, in Spain, and the Turtle Mountains, North Dakota. 

Scott Laudati: “This City”

 This City
 I’m not kidding.
 I’m dying in this city.
 I was a prude 
 when thunder struck and 
 gave us memory of spring.
 But now I’m sick of eating 
 garbanzo beans
 saving for rent 
 so goddamn high
 even last year’s ghetto
 has a waiting list.
 It’s been too hot 
 to go outside this summer.
 The cats long abandoned 
 by breakups 
 and unrenewed leases
 under the dumpster,
 ignoring rats swimming for 
 cigarette butts 
 floating like 
 dead minnows in green pools 
 that stay deep 
 without rain.
 There’s a bum on my block
 I see sometimes.
 He sits on an 
 orange crate
 and doesn’t ask for money when
 Bushwick crawls home
 after last call.
 He doesn’t ask for money
 at noon when Germans
 ask him to point out 
 on a map.
 He doesn’t have time to hustle.
 He’s too busy
 making drum loops
 on his cell phone.
 I said hi to him once 
 and he introduced me 
 to his brother--
 another bum named J Bird.
 He was chewing his bottom lip
 and told me
 “The pigeons here
 eat better 
 than most people.
 they’re fat as turkeys,
 on the best pizza.”
 J Bird was an expert 
 on pigeons
 because he made 
 all his crack money
 off of them.
 He said he crippled 
 the birds with a stick
 and sold them
 (boxed by the dozen)
 down in Chinatown.
 An hour later
 the Chinese would put them 
 on the special menu
 as all you can eat squab.
 J Bird told me he must have 
 a million pigeons.
 But he never ate one.
 “They’re too dirty,” he said.
 I thought about the things
 I’d done
 to pay my rent
 in New York.
 All the bags I carried
 and the times even the tips
 couldn’t make
 my back feel better.
 You know 
 you’re dying
 when you envy 
 the pigeons.
 Beaten up 
 shit out 
 They tried to do that to me, too.
 In those hotels I clocked in 
 every day.
 A servant with no chains.
 They tried to do that to me, too.
 And they came close.
 I would sit with the housekeepers 
 on my break 
 and wonder 
 “Why don’t
 just finish
 me off?”
 It was my smile
 I think. 
 I kept it on no matter what.
 Even when they asked me 
 to get them ice
 to touch their wives
 to touch them
 when we both knew
 there was 
 no tip coming. 
 I kept
 the smile on
 and they saw
 they could take 
 my back 
 and my time
 but they couldn’t
 take my heart.
 I either stopped it 
 from beating
 hid it very well.
 Sometimes I had to
 pinch myself
 to see if I was
 actually alive.
 I spent most of
 my shifts
 flipping between
 murder and suicide.
 Always one call
 from telling
 my mother
 But then it would end
 like it ended 
 every day.
 The moon always low
 and the garbage piled so high
 you could climb it
 for perspective.
 I studied it all.
 It meant my freedom.
 It all did.
 Even the rats silhouetted
 at the base 
 the moon. 
 They were mine, too.
 We were all part
 of the city's refuse. 


Scott Laudati is the author of Hawaiian Shirts In The Electric Chair (Cephalo Press). Visit him on social media @scottlaudati 

Kevin D. LeMaster: “A collection of stones”

A collection of stones

your mouth is a stone
of smooth silence

agape and rounded
in awe of the world

your lips repeat words
repeat longing without edges

their sound drips into

a puddle of loneliness

I’ve traversed your valley
under cover of night

more than a hundred miles ago

now I watch you sleep
your neck juts forward

like a small dog, lurching
to take back what is hers


Kevin D. LeMaster lives in South Shore Kentucky. His poems have been found at The Lakes, Appalachian Heritage, Praxis Magazine, Rockvale Review, Inkwell, Birmingham Arts Journal, Constellations, Plainsongs, Coe Review, and others. He has had recent work published in SheilaNaGig online and Heartwood Literary Review.

Howie Good: Four Poems

Autumn’s Menace

A plainclothes policeman, using a pair of handcuffs as brass knuckles, cut the face of a boy who was wandering the city in a hospital gown. Sometimes I think it’s just not true that teaching a child to not step on a caterpillar will make you a better person. Sometimes I think the plainclothesman is going to walk through the door, but he hasn’t, so I keep waiting. The city streets are deserted – no parade floats, no people. In these slow days of unease, everyone is a biohazard.

Past Is Prologue

Paris, January 6, 1938. Samuel Beckett was returning from the cinema that night when he was accosted by a tramp, who stabbed him in the chest, just missing his heart. He wasn’t quite the same afterwards. Maps needed to be redrawn. I’m beginning to understand something about it. The ocean feels a little sick right now. Two teenage boys beat a homeless man to death in the park with their skateboards. Stop talking and look up. Ladders cross the blue sky in a wheel of fire. 


I am writing
at the kitchen table, 
or, rather, 
struggling to, 
when my wife 
excitedly calls me 
to the window 

and points down 
into the yard 
where a doe 
with a coat 
just a shade 
from golden 
is browsing 

on fallen leaves
that if it wasn’t 
for the hours 
I spend trying 
to make poems, 
I would have 
burned long ago. 

Post-Election Stress Disorder

The emperor’s model army marches on, 
bringing with them the suffocating smell of smoke, 
a darkness like mud, while tens of millions 
of just plain folks artlessly demonstrate their devotion 
by cheering threats of kidnapping and murder 
and parading bright new flags that with each wave
in the lie-filled air grow duller and more tattered,  
and when the light dwindles to a final few hours, 
there will be tweet storms and wild speeches
and the military music of boots stamping on faces.


Howie Good is the author of The Death Row Shuffle, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

ayaz daryl nielsen: six haiku/senryu

six haiku/senryü

melancholy day…
the pathway by our back door
yes, it’s beckoning!

sliver of a moon
it slowly diminishes
holding my wife tighter

a chilly morning…
pulling it over my head
our shabby old quilt

this evening alone
comfort with a long-time friend
path through the forest

beauty of the night
so many pathways exist
sunlight in the east

a new beginning
massive greenways opening
yes, sunrise again!


ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran and former hospice nurse, lives in Longmont, Colorado, USA.  Editor of bear creek haiku (30+ years/160+ issues) with poetry published worldwide, he is online at: bear creek haiku: poetry, poems and info. Among other deeply appreciated honors, he is especially delighted by the depth and heart of poets worldwide whose poems have a home in bear creek haiku’s print and online presence.

Jakima Davis: “Kansas City Blues”

Kansas City Blues 

Libraries gives me power
Champagne and cocaine
Libraries gives me power
Champagne and cocaine
Poison on my bottle 
Drown in Malted Milk

Pieces of my heart gone
Guitar play me my tune 
Pieces of my heart gone
Guitar play me my tune 
I’ll trade a rabbit’s foot 
For a blood soaked ear 

I’m a design for life
The American settlement
I’m a design for life 
The American settlement
High school cipher
Bars bang on the cafeteria table 

Potholes in my lawn 
I’m the ghetto farmer 
Potholes in my lawn 
I’m the ghetto farmer 
Give me the cotton 
And I’ll get the yams


Jakima Davis writes, “I’ve been writing poetry for almost 21 years. I’ve been published in underground publications, including, Misfits, Street Value, Big Hammer, Barbaric Yawp, The PEN, among others. In 2016, I collaborated on a chapbook entitled, JMDS, published by Marymark Press. I also collaborated on a broadside, along with many GIve-Out sheets, also published by Marymark Press. As of now, I’m posting my poems on Facebook to gain a fanbase.”

John Marvin: “hankering for a radio gestalt signifier in a world full of rhetorical questions”

hankering for a radio gestalt signifier in a world full of rhetorical questions
when some one dies
then each one dies a little
with no recovery
of unique deictic
tendencies or trials

not to mention
arrows sparrows
sorrows tomorrows


never never never never never
a blender be
to the last consonant


of relief or camel rings
wafting songs of slow choking death
over an ironic times square hub
of a crossroads in a fluid

current of commerce

and congestion
unrelieved by levity
while behind the curtain
and you don't know if it's Hamlet
or The Wizard of Oz

         that's playing

because the screen is blackened
and the sound track is obscured by

         white noise

an echo of gratitude
for what else is there
to overcome the silence of spring

  pouring across the meadow
  picking up lots of forget-me-nots

too young to be reborn aloft
where sky meets the black suck of deep space


even in low orbit broadcasting satellite beeps
and broadcasting satellite bops
humming Dick and Davey
at regular intervals

like heart swells vary waves

          very vary waves

whose crests and troughs never hinder demolition
of constants

so formulae founder on rocks
of self described triumph after birth
slowly descends
until even the abyss
fails to talk back
because it considers your discourse
an echo of things to come

dredged up up and away from sludge
moldering in sloughs
thought to be the birthplace of life
by incestuous patriarchs

if and only if meteorites
imbedded just below surface appearances
claim not to be guilty of infesting the planet
with plants and animals doomed to eat one another
casting blame on orgasms

but who the fuck cares
if it's worth it or improbable
because someone or something bets
you didn't see that coming did you

well did you

     did you
don't answer that


John Marvin is a teacher who retired and subsequently earned a Ph.D. in English at SUNY Buffalo. He has poems in scores of journals, including 6 Pushcart nominations, and literary criticism in Hypermedia Joyce Studies, James Joyce QuarterlyPennsylvania English, and Worcester Review. He has a chapter in Hypermedia Joyce, and his book, Nietzsche and Transmodernism: Art and Science Beyond the Modern in Joyce, Stevens, Pynchon, and Kubrick, awaits a publisher. He seeks to marry the experimental, non-narrative with the lyric and traditional in the manner of Nietzsche’s marriage of Apollo and Dionysos. He generally avoids accessibility for its own sake, and the prosaic personal story with superimposed line breaks that is ubiquitous these days.