George Freek: Three Poems

Thoughts on a Dreary Night (After Tu Fu)

How far is it to the nearest star?
The moon blocks such
improbable calculations.
Anyway, I’ll never go there.
And the universe disturbs
my quixotic ruminations.
I return my attention
to things nearby:
a dry rose petal,
a wet hat in a field of grass,
the wing of a butterfly.
I hear a bird in a tree.
I look for it to no avail.
Was it an illusion?
Life is not what we
thought it was, or
we hoped it would be,
and death becomes
a necessary intrusion.


I Sometimes Ask Pointless Questions (After Tu Fu)

Clouds stretch from the sky
to the lake, as if they could
swallow it. Gulls circle,
then drift away, to disappear.
A chill is in the air.
Another summer has gone.
I look in a mirror. Suddenly
I look old. It seems all wrong.
I watch a woman walk
through falling leaves.
She looks at a darkening sky.
Is she thinking of the clouds,
or the heavens beyond?
Whichever it is,
her attention is on the sky,
and in a second
she’s swiftly passed me by.


Enigmatic Variations (After Mei Yao Chen)

This night is bitter.
I sit alone in my room.
I rub my heavy eyelids.
I turn the pages of a book,
and try to read,
but quit after a brief look.
As the hours slowly pass,
moonlight drifts in
my opened window,
collecting as dust would
on an hourglass.
When I sleep,
I dream of my youth,
what I hoped to achieve,
but never began.
At least my wife is dead.
Her dreams are done.
She had faith in me.
She didn’t live to see
what I’ve now become.

George Freek‘s poetry has appeared in numerous poetry journals and Reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Richard Weaver: “Reading the Lips of the Dead”

Reading the Lips of the Dead

When the page does heal
there is a blue hand

emptying thimbles of blood
into a river dry once a year.

The smell of death,
the inarticulate sound,

become a white rose
in a coroner’s lapel.

The stench of history.
A cold dank memory

cast off without a shudder.
Years from now

a farmer might turn his land
only to find a body

with yellow eyes,
parchment skin,

lips shaped defiantly
into a final parting word.


Richard Weaver hopes to once again volunteer with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and return as the writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. Other pubs: FRIGG, Black Warrior Review, Mad Swirl, Southern Quarterly, Adelaide, Dead Mule, Magnolia Review, and Elsewhere (now defunct). 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 150th prose poem was published.

Lucy Jayes: “I Stopped Getting Better”

I Stopped Getting Better

_____After “I Stopped Going To Therapy”
_____by Clementine von Radics

I stopped getting better.
I’m not sure it’s worth it.
Never one to seek numinosity,
the process to wholeness
bores me. When I daydream,
I picture myself in a bar with no windows
hidden from a sunny afternoon,
slowly fading into oblivion,
holding on by a thin white line.
I have sewn myself together
by my wrongs and my wounds.
I remain ambivalent, grass forever blue.

Lucy Jayes has fostered a love of writing since she was old enough to hold a pen. She graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Kentucky in 2014. During college, she interned for Ace Weekly magazine with a primary focus on covering local events and happenings in the food and beverage industry in Lexington. Upon graduating, she moved to Denver, CO and worked in nonprofit fundraising and event planning and as a conference manager and journalist for a trade magazine covering the legal cannabis industry. She is a first-year MFA student at the University of Kentucky and focused on Creative Nonfiction writing.

Christopher Barnes: “Almanac 1-5”

Almanac (1)

Slacken uneasy laces.
Tilt off your beetle-crushers.
Recline on at-ease divan.
Block up tired-to-death eyes.
Still, the horror will come.

Almanac (2)

Underbreath a flapdoodle jingle.
Smarten haughty poses.
Manoeuvre noon undistracted.
Nobody knows
What’s in the top drawer.

Almanac (3)

Souse tepid water, unlocking pores.
Mask yourself in foam.
Bar lucidly with nippy razor.
A disembodied face in the mirror
Twists its rawboned scream.

Almanac (4)

First-blush what’s prospected.
Sham entertained as upright.
Categorical delights for the hereafter.
Annulment tags behind marriage.

Almanac (5)

Coax placid overtures.
Wrangle loose-fitting emptiness.
Inspect pass-muster bedding.
Long for good dreams, stretch –
midnight will devour you.

In 1998, Christopher Barnes won a Northern Arts writers award. In July 2000 he read at Waterstones bookshop to promote the anthology Titles Are Bitches. Christmas 2001 he debuted at Newcastle’s famous Morden Tower doing a reading of poems. Each year he read for Proudwords lesbian and gay writing festival and partook in workshops. 2005 saw the publication of his collection LOVEBITES published by Chanticleer Press, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh. In August 2007, he made a film called ‘A Blank Screen, 60 seconds, 1 shot’ for Queerbeats Festival at The Star & Shadow Cinema Newcastle, reviewing a poem…see  He has also written Art Criticism for Peel and Combustus magazines.

Stephen Spencer: “Desiderata in Autumn”

Desiderata in Autumn

My other senses jeer at the audacity of sight.
Whitman’s “sniff of green leaves and dry leaves”
Is acrid smoke from leaf piles
Set aflame by old men defying the burn ban.

The crunch of leaves on the sidewalk
Under my son’s shoes vexes the peace of silence.
He searches for the largest, driest leaves
That make the loudest sounds.

He crushes a prized sycamore leaf and howls.
The debris of memories raked into the corners of my mind
Will not be the piles he heaps and jumps into,
Gathering and scattering, over and over.

For now, he stomps and laughs.
I smile and say, “That was a good one!”

Stephen Spencer is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Shepherd University. In his thirty-year career in higher education, he has served as an English professor, Fulbright Fellow in Spain, and administrator at four institutions. He has always been passionate about teaching literature and has published creative and scholarly work in numerous journals and books.

Harsimran Kaur: “Gambier, Ohio”

Gambier, Ohio

It started with dad saying “Mhmm” after everything I said to him, but I guess it all started even before that. Maybe it all started when dad started talking about euthanasia, and mom had a tumor in her knee, and Pete from down the road died. Well, maybe it even started before then, when I was in middle school and had my first kiss and accidentally stapled my tongue (both the events happening on the same day), and dad started going long hours to Gambier, Ohio, to meet a prostitute. Or maybe it started even before that, before the night my parents had sex to have me, before they went to the Netherlands on their first solo trip – two young people in love, so in love that they didn’t know any better to spend an entire summer in a city where they didn’t know a soul that they ultimately wanted to create one, where they made love before the sun blazed its light without permission. Where they ate poffertjes, stamppot boerenkool, and other food whose names they could never get right – even if they practiced writing those foreign names for the rest of their life. That’s when, that’s when they wanted to have me, in a place that was too far away from their roots that they forgot where they stemmed from. That’s when, that’s when I was produced, bit by bit, like a piece of bagel seasoning I put on everything, like a water droplet evaporating, diffusing into the air like pixie dust, like the obscure, native sky. That’s when that’s when I was fit into a suitcase, the size of my head so large that I came out sooner than anyone expected. That’s when they transported me without all the other luggage they never took a chance at, the other luggage a maverick thought staring in vain through coveted blankets, pointed shoes, pearl necklaces, and soft cashmere. That’s when that’s when dad glided his Toyota Camry into the South Street like a sleek saucer pan, and our “house” laden with bricks stared at other “houses” in uncanny after the door behind us was shut and where we came to a place called “home.” So that’s where I rooted, at home, right here, where my dad now sleeps in a frenzy, and my mother is dying from cancer. I was an average rhapsody. My dad will no longer go to Gambier, Ohio.

Harsimran Kaur is a seventeen-year-old author of The Best I Can Do Is to Write My Heart OutI am Perfectly Imperfect, and Clementines on My Poetry Table. Currently a senior in high school, she is a record holder under the India Book of Records and Asia Book of Records for her first publication at fourteen.  She is also the founder of Pastlores, an online club dedicated to literature, and an arts organization called The Creative Zine. When she’s not writing or reading, she can often be seen teaching invisible students. You can know more about her ventures at

Samo Kreutz: “The homestead of my youth”

The homestead of my youth (haiku sequence)

hugs me even tighter
the scent of a tea

house threshold
patiently waiting to enter
today’s sunshine

bringing summer
into the room–
a bee

late afternoon
having lunch together
me and bird sounds

Samo Kreutz lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Besides poetry (which he has been writing since he was eight years old), he writes novels, short stories, and haiku. He is the author of ten books in Slovene and one in English (a haiku book titled The Stars for Tonight, which was published by from India). His recent work has appeared on international websites (and journals), such as The Big Windows Review, Taj Mahal Review, Ink Sweat & Tears: The poetry and prose webzineHaiku Commentary, Green Ink Poetry, First Literary Review- East, Dwelling Literary, Ariel Chart, and others.

Michael Cooney: Two Pieces

Purple Sun 

I am back where I started. You are walking
toward me with a glass of vodka in your hand.
I look downward at your bare feet in the grass.
I understand that there are shoes you have never worn.

I know that everything might have been different.
I might not have crossed the street. You might have told me
to go away. There might be two moons in the sky
or a purple sun. Nod your head if you agree.

New Years Eve on the Q

Gregor decided he would ring in the New Year on the Q Train. It made sense, considering how much of his recent life was tied to that line. Years ago, right after he met Bethany, it was the 2 that linked their lives. He’d hop on at Atlantic and ride all the way to Wakefield, last stop in the Bronx. Sure, he still rode up there sometimes out of nostalgia, or masochism, whatever you want to call it. What was the best night of your life, he would ask her, and she’d always say that time we took the D to Coney Island and jumped in the ocean in the middle of the night. We were crazy, right? Crazy, she’d answer, crazy for walking around until dawn in wet jeans. Why’d we leave our clothes on, anyway? Hey, we didn’t know each other that well! Yes, he could still take the D to Coney Island but the Q was where they lived their lives toward the end, from Newkirk Plaza to 63rd Street over and over, he couldn’t even count how many times. Coming home after the infusions, they’d take the R to 8th Street and spend what was left of the day in Washington Square, looking for people they used to know. 

Michael Cooney has published poetry in Badlands, Second Chance Lit, Bitter Oleander, Big Picture Review and other journals. His short stories have appeared recently in Sundial Magazine, Bandit Fiction, and Cerasus. He has taught in NYC high schools and community colleges and currently facilitates a writing workshop on Zoom.

LB Sedlacek: “Bold”


The shock of green grass not so
unusual but the green stands out
like peeling paint around a stained
glass window this little shoot of bright
bold green upping its way into the world
all sparkling and green and hopeful
shooting up from the dirt below a hole
that’s holding a hitching post and a
stationary horse pounded into
boards on pavement but the horse is
not attached no need it isn’t
going anywhere much like the
grass upping its way into this
amusement park world
at the edge of winter
it won’t survive long
most people wouldn’t
here on the mountain high enough
where the trees are bare
the air frozen breath cold
but the grass is still radiant green
at least for a little while longer.

LB Sedlacek has had poems and stories published in a variety of journals and zines. Some of her poetry books are Swim (Alien Buddha Press), I’m No ROBOT (Cyberwit), Happy Little Clouds (Guerilla Genesis Press), Simultaneous Submissions (Cyberwit), and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press).  Her first short story collection, Four Thieves of Vinegar & Other Short Stories, came out on Leap Day 2020 from Alien Buddha Press. She also served as a Poetry Editor for  ESC! Magazine and published the free resource for poets, The Poetry Market Ezine, from 2001-2020. In her free time, LB likes to swim, read, and attempt to play the ukulele.