Neal Zirn: “She’s Probably Still There,”

She’s Probably Still There,

living close to the land
and the borderline, riding
her tractor, and knowing
the seasons as well as she
knows the cry of the barn
swallow and the tracks of coyotes.

She’s probably still there,
fussing around her kitchen,
canning and baking pies
for the hospital fund,
her hair in ringlets,
wearing the apron that I know really
well, the one with a pattern of blue jays
and robins.

And perhaps she is so busy that I’m not
only out of sight and out of mind,
but gone completely, like the first frost
that leaves when the sun rises, and sneaks
away with the coming of the day.

Neal Zirn has been published in numerous journals in the United States and Canada, including Blueline, Mudfish, Nerve Cowboy, The Dalhousie Review, and Main Street Rag. He has placed seven times in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest. His chapbook, Manhattan Cream, was published by MuscleHead Press.

Lorraine Caputo: “On This Puna”


Poet-translator Lorraine Caputo’s works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 19 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She has been nominated for the Best of the Net. Ms Caputo journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.

Michael Estabrook: “because I know who I am in spite of it all”


Michael Estabrook has been publishing his poetry in the small press since the 1980s. He has published over 20 collections, a recent one being The Poet’s Curse, A Miscellany (The Poetry Box, 2019). Retired now writing more poems and working more outside, he just noticed two Cooper’s hawks staked out in the yard or rather above it which explains the nerve-wracked chipmunks. He lives in Acton, Massachusetts.

Larry O. Dean: “Reboot: The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”


Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. His numerous books include Muse, Um (forthcoming), Frequently Asked Questions (forthcoming), Activities of Daily Living (2017), and Brief Nudity (2013). Product Placement, the sophomore album from his band, The Injured Parties, was released August 2019. For more info: Larry writes that this poem was “edited/manipulated/modified from public-facing summaries of the shows employing Oulipian techniques utilizing systematic, self-restricting means of making texts.”

Richard Weaver: “The Other”

The Other

splashes in the pond
acknowledging my presence,
as close as it will come to saying
I once was one of its own.
The long silence accepts what I am
and what I may become.
We translate one another
without challenges; respect
a tongue rarely shared
or spoken, an unwrapped gift
celebrating the worn marks,
the edges of possibilities
returning, flowing, rising
and returning, gathering again
and flowing beyond.
One beyond the other.

Richard Weaver volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and is the writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. Other pubs: FRIGG, Mad Swirl, Spank the Carp, Adelaide, Dead Mule, and Magnolia Review. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992), and provided the libretto for a symphony, Of Sea and Stars (2005), performed 4 times to date. More recently, his 140th prose poem was published.

Kelli Short Borges: “Sometimes Quitting Is Winning”

Sometimes, Quitting Is Winning

Alan and Sophie sit at a corner booth at the White Pony. Alan leans toward Sophie, hand cupping the flame which flickers brightly, warm and golden within its shelter. 

Sophie reaches out with elegant fingers, the tip of her cigarette accepting the offering, momentarily flaring a bright cherry red. 

The glow warms her features. The diamond on her left hand catches the fleeting light. 

Alan’s eyes search Sophie’s. “How about Guatemala? There are ruins. Tikal. I’ve always wanted to go.”

Considering, she peers at him, gray eyes obscured by heavy bangs. Freshly glossed lips puckered, she exhales. The hazy, pungent smoke surrounds him. He coughs, turns his head away. 

Sophie’s eyes narrow. Her lips pull into a thin, tight line. “Guatemala? Isn’t it dangerous? I was thinking of some place tropical. Hawaii. A place with palm trees and coconuts. A spa.” 

“Guatemala has palm trees. And coconuts. Let’s have a real adventure. Maybe we can sneak off in the ruins.” Eyes shining, he raises his eyebrows, Groucho Marx style. 

Sophie turns away, stares into the distance, her gaze cold and hard as sleet.    

The ash at the tip of Sophie’s cigarette has built up, is starting to tip toward the starched white tablecloth beneath. Alan pushes an ashtray toward her. Carelessly, she flicks the ash, which lands instead on Alan’s hand. 

Alan draws back, stares at the small burn. Massages it with his thumb. The skin there, once soft and pliable, has calloused, hardened by the years. The hardness begins to spread now, radiates out. To Alan’s head. To Alan’s heart. 

Their eyes lock. 

Sophie finishes her cigarette in silence, stubs it out, smashing the smoldering butt into the tablecloth. A charred hole appears. The smell of singed cloth rises, seeping into Alan’s nostrils. Into the folds of his skin. 

Sophie draws another cigarette from the cold, slim silver case she carries in her purse. 

“Light?’ She watches Alan, eyebrows raised.

He picks up the lighter, hesitates, twirls it momentarily between his fingers. Then, carefully, deliberately, puts it in his pocket. 

“Time to quit.” he says.

Kelli Short Borges writes, “A former reading specialist and forever reading enthusiast, I enjoy hiking the Arizona foothills, photography, and traveling the world in search of adventure. My work has been recently published or is forthcoming at Across the Margin, WOW! Women on Writing, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bright Flash Literary Review, and Drunk Monkeys, amongst other journals.”