Ian Ganassi: “Whatever Works”

Whatever Works

In the meantime, don’t get too close to the guard dogs,
Especially the phosphorescent ones from the peat bog.

The inmates are wandering around my floor,
Standing there gossiping in front of my door.

The stake holding them looks a little stressed.
If they escape it can only be for the best.

I’m an ignoramus, it’s true.
Would gladly pay you later for a few.

“What did you say?” he asked, grinning like an idiot.
These pants are a 38, they shouldn’t fit.

Do you want an honest answer to that question?
You can multiply it by an obscure radical fraction.

It lasted all day, whatever it was.
That was one way to get a buzz.

Time is both progressive and cyclical—
I was going places on my bicycle.

My shoelaces don’t always cooperate.
And my pupils don’t always dilate.

At least I don’t have to report back to the talent agency
Regarding my level of plangency.

It takes more than a costume to become an actor,
You have to be up on the beauty factor.

His architecture aspires to invisibility.
His can openers are arranged in order of utility.


Ian Ganassi‘s has appeared recently or will appear soon, in numerous literary magazines, such as New American Writing; BlazeVox; Otoliths, Beyond Words, Home Planet News, The Yale Review, and The American Journal of Poetry, among many others. His full length collection, Mean Numbers, was published in 2016 by China Grove Press. A second book is forthcoming from MadHat Press. Selections from an ongoing collaboration with a painter can be found at http://www.thecorpses.com.

Kelley White: “Bobulate”


to leave a state of confusion
or to become confused? To full on
thrash befuddlement. To move
a ripstick (a skateboard made
by razor) and by extension to move
any movement at all. To un-
fuddle. To disconfuse? Fuddle
wine. Muddled mine. To muddle
through. With con—to befuddle.
With discon—we are back with
unbefuddle. Oh mother, I miss
you. Be with me, be cuddle me near.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle,and JAMA. Her recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

Frederick Pollack: Two Poems

At This Late Date

It’s noon. Sun rages through the skylight.
I’m hiding from so many things:
in air-conditioning from heat
which, long before one heard of global warming,
I regarded unhealthily as dirt
(and vegetables as mud). From the political future,
the not-so-secret police who must soon come.
From covid and its bearers.
From life, as seniors do unless
they manically embrace it. Perhaps from the memory
of some idiot ideology
of the prosperous years that advocated
living in the moment – Try that now …

Then randomly, in this light, I recall
someone – but I’m sorry, it isn’t
a person, only parts:
the curve of neck and shoulder on a pillow,
the subtle place below where breasts began,
the view obstructed by a younger hand …
Why her now?
Last night a fresh depressing image, sent,
I realized, from the afternoon she left.
So that by day I seem to tabulate
the victories of night, and by night
the defeats of day,
when neither are especially relevant.



They laughed when I sat down to play.
But my opening arpeggio broke
a string and several octaves and they stopped.
The development unleashed
my Scriabinesque color-and-scent-organ
effect, plus touch:
ectoplasmic frotteurs and lap-dancers
assaulted gown and tux. A certain fortissimo
progression confronted them with
the Irreducible; other capitalized nouns
transcended taste itself. Then I hammered them
with subtlety, till by the end
they were lost somewhere wider
and better aerated
than the usual opium den.

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986; to be reissued by Red Hen Press) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), ArmarollaDecember, and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), MisfitOffCourse, Big Windows Review (2020) and elsewhere.

Kenneth Pobo: Two Poems

A Barred Owl Speaks to Me

Time throws an axe at my head. I don’t
duck quickly enough. Wounded,
I keep walking. The forest deepens

and darkens. A barred owl speaks to me
with a charming owl accent. We talk
about Butternut Lake which knows

many spring songs. A harpsichord
inside an uncurling fern plays so I start
to dance, no longer lonely. The owl

flies away. One feather
drops on my shoulder. I suddenly know
every word in the dictionary of trees.


I Open the Door

and it’s Bette Davis, dead
for over three decades,
but fresh as a can
of Mountain Dew.

I make her
a stiff martini. She says
death is like getting
bloodwork done.

A small prick,
you say ouch,
and walk out into forever.


Kenneth Pobo is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections.  Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), and Uneven Steven (Assure Press). Opening is forthcoming from Rectos Y Versos Editions. Lavender Fire, Lavender Rose is forthcoming from Brick/House Books.

Chila Woychik: “So What Do You Think About Cows, or, A Lingering Grief”

So What Do You Think About Cows, or, A Lingering Grief

Words are like nets – we hope they’ll cover what we mean, but we know they can’t possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder. Jodi Picoult, Change of Heart

We’ve carted this grief halfway around the world but now I’m calling dibs. She slipped out in the early dawn, dropped her light, love dried up. Did some things she can’t take back, but none of it matters now. In what world does it turn out this way? In what world does a mother die, stroked out in days of remembering? Months have turned to years because perception stains reality.

I’ve been trying to understand a love of elephants. Mother had them all: figurines, jade replicas, earrings, all visual indications of her dire enchantment with the earth’s largest land-dwelling pachyderm.

Who knows what these times are, these latter days of reminiscence and grasping for a few more hours to feel young and vital? Maybe that’s it. The ageless cues of the elephant, virile long after so much time would minimize other beasts. “They never forget,” she would say. And maybe this drove into her heart some replica of remembering, of not forgetting the secrets she held so boxed and heavy. If I could have a last conversation, I would ask her why.

Life glories in spanking us in the face, on one side, grief, the other, awe. Grief is waking in the middle of the night and forgetting where you put the flashlight. It’s that constant scraping against a dark window, a hard rain shouldering the earth and not letting up before the creeks rise too high.

I wonder if she did all she wanted to do. If not regrets, were her memories unbridled, a rampaging elephant in the wild? Or were they shoved into a musty corner, shackled lest they run amuck and trample her life’s spoken narrative? Not all secrets can be corralled forever, and forgiveness covers with blankets of love: these were the last lessons I learned from her.

Grief settles in low places, in hollows and dry creek beds, and everything stays the same until it doesn’t. Huddled in a field, two farmers made a pact. “We’ll call it harvest,” one says, patting her stomach. “We’ll call it profit,” the other says, stroking his wallet. We’re teaching everyone these days. One big whoopie. It all runs together, a jumble of seconds clacking toward meaning and a sudden sunset. The girls you knew in school, those boys, the teachers and lessons now gone, and there’s a reunion coming up. When did we get so sad?

Outside my doors, a field of lowing cattle. Love hurts, it’s true, but what about those cows? Sometimes we’ve earned the right to be eccentric, to embrace the unusual and harbor admiration. Living’s our excuse, the grief, the awe. And even, sometimes, the cows.


Chila Woychik is originally from the beautiful land of Bavaria. She has been published in Cimarron, Passages North, and elsewhere, and has published Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology (Shanti Arts, 2020). She won Storm Cellar’s 2019 Flash Majeure Contest and Emry’s 2016 Linda Julian Creative Nonfiction Award. www.chilawoychik.com  

Brad Shurmantine: “Head of the Metolius”

Head of the Metolius

It gushes out of a little cave in Black Butte
but originates in the Cascades,
a hundred miles away.
Cold! Too cold to stand in.
And clear. Right out of the ground.
And these old man poems–
where do they come from,
after so much dark and silence?
They burble out free, easy,
fresh and clear to me.
Sixty-odd years of tears & sweat
roiling in the caverns of my mind, 
seeping forgotten
into hidden caves and crevices.
Chilling there. And flowing out
as I tilt and head downhill,
hitting the light, sparkling there.


Brad Shurmantine (bradshurmantine.com) lives in Napa, Ca., where he writes, reads, tends three gardens (sand, water, vegetable), takes care of chickens, cats, and bees, and works on that husband thing. He backpacks in the Sierras and travels when he can, and has a serious passion for George Eliot. 

Leah Browning: “Brute”

He was the type of person who was always getting into bar fights. It was an easy way to get rid of some aggressive energy, and there was often an explanation that let him come out looking like a good guy. He’d been defending someone’s honor, let’s say. Every time you ran into him, it seemed, his knuckles were taped. 
He and his roommates lived in an apartment building just down the street from a fire station. In that city, firefighters were first responders at everything from highway collisions to your garden-variety home accidents. Day and night, the garage door rolled up and sirens began to scream. 
Why don’t you move, I asked, and he just shrugged. I didn’t push the issue. If you must know, I had discovered that he was an adrenaline junkie in all the ways that mattered. He pulled my hair, clung to the headboard, did everything but hang upside-down as sirens oscillated outside, growing louder and louder, and the engines roared past the open windows.

Leah Browning is the author of three nonfiction books and six chapbooks. Her most recent chapbook of short fiction is Orchard City, a collection published by Hyacinth Girl Press in 2017. Browning’s work has appeared in Four Way ReviewNewfoundValparaiso Fiction ReviewWatershed ReviewThe Stillwater Review, and elsewhere. 


John Dorroh: “Carlsbad After Dark”

Carlsbad After Dark

I remember how the air smelled like warm guano
before the bats swarmed out of the cave at Carlsbad.
How they spiraled up toward a full orange moon.

How the park ranger joked about rattlesnakes
eating a family’s chihuahua while they crooked
their necks toward the purple sky. I remember

looking at my wristwatch and the itching sensation
on the back of my legs. How I was worried about
desert fleas. I don’t remember where we parked.

I remember how the air-conditioned air chilled
our faces. How the ice machine spat out perfectly
square cubes. How we smelled chlorine

from the pool. I remember the bite of white
onions on our fast-food hamburgers and how
the salt on the French fries made our tongues

swell like sea cucumbers. I remember how
we slept like bats in a cave. How no one snored.
But I don’t remember the drive back home.


John Dorroh is a composter, recycler, and procrastinator. His first poem was written with his mom’s red lipstick on the bathroom walls. He may have evolved a bit since then. His poems have appeared in Feral, Blue River Heron, Os Pressan, and many others. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.

Cameron Morse: “Neurooncologist”


My NO says no
evidence ear

buds cause anything 

to sprout in your 
ear canal


Empty lane 
night of the big game

fireworks purchased 
for touchdowns 
thunder at

halftime in defeat
the city’s hurt 


Any survivors willing to chat 

my hubby’s having 
a hard time 

filling out tax 
forms in a snow storm 

Death is at the door


Dystopian weekend 

my gateway to hell


Night I met her 
English name was Alice
asked if I’d been

drinking I said it was
the only way I 
could sleep with myself

ashamed of my breath
on the dark track

I entered her empty field


Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and two children in Independence, Missouri. His poems have been published in numerous magazines, including New LettersBridge EightPortland Review and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His latest is Far Other (Woodley Press, 2020). He holds and MFA from the University of Kansas City—Missouri and serves as Senior Reviews editor at Harbor Review and Poetry editor at Harbor Editions. For more information, check out his Facebook page or website.