Melinda Giordano: “Sacrifice”


I stood beneath the ash tree
Full of guilty appreciation
For the splendid death of its leaves,
The mass sacrifice at Nature’s behest,
Because I knew the parting must have been cruel.
Their colors were pure and liquid
(I could feel them running through my fingers)
And as I stood among them
I heard their empty veins cracking like bones,
And I felt the arrival of a new, darker season
When moons and harvests would ride the equinox
And bronze latitudes as if they were horses,
To rout summer’s honeyed inertia.


Melinda Giordano is from Los Angeles. Her pieces have appeared in Scheherazade’s Bequest, The Rabbit Hole, Lazuli Literary Group, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and After The Art among others; she was also twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She speculates on remarkable things–the secret lives of the natural world.


Kaelin McGee Shipley: “Avian Dance”

Avian Dance

            In the winter my grandfather fed the birds. I followed him to the garage, my red galoshes squeaking across the hard packed snow, our breath billowing out of our noses in a fog of white vapor.

            The sparrows sat in a line, their toes curled around the wire of the garden fence, a brigade of small fluffed out soldiers awaiting their orders.

            He’d fill a half pound coffee can with little yellow seeds and fling them across the snow, dappling the white ground with tiny pieces of gold.

            The birds would rise from the fence in a gray-brown cloud, bodies swooping up and down, peeping, twittering and chirping as they fed.

            Many, many years later I feed the birds, trying different nuts, berries, and seeds to see what will come to the feeders. Where I live there are five different species of woodpecker. How many will I see?  Only three so far. 

______Bluebirds arrive in January attracted to the mealworms—also starlings–they bring their friends—fifty or seventy uninvited guests for dinner. That bright red spot against the snow is a cardinal, watching, waiting for his turn at the sunflower seeds.  Strutting across the patio is a wren, bold and sassy, loudly demanding her right to the worms.

            It’s a late winter afternoon. I sit on the couch, my favorite cat in my lap, the sun streaming through the western windows.  Fluttering up then down, feathery shadows create an avian ballet across the cream walls of the room, ethereal and beautiful.

            Attracted by the commotion a Coopers Hawk alights on the fence. A musical smorgasbord presents itself and he too must eat. Abruptly the yard is silent. The birds have disappeared. He sits for a few moments, surveying the scene, then gives a frustrated cry, lifts off, and is gone.

            Moments pass—a lone chickadee darts out of the bushes. She has the feeder to herself. The ice broken, more return. The yard is a hub of activity again.

______I am transfixed, delighted—addicted–all because my grandfather fed the birds.


Kaelin McGee Shipley is a writer from West Lafayette, Indiana. She has previously published short fiction and essays in The Persimmon Tree, The Northwest Indiana Review, and Litbreak, among others. Odd moments, interesting conversations, and unusual situations inspire her work.

John Tustin: “Love Is Wasted on Lovers”

Love Is Wasted On Lovers

Love is wasted on lovers –
Those childlike and selfish satyrs and sirens
Traipsing lackadaisically through the gardens of man
As the world burns around them.
Obsessed with their lusts and their feelings;
With their watered-down vision,
Prettier than fields of flowers,
Stronger in their moment than venerable oaks
And dumber than a dog
Who drowns fighting his own reflection in the lake.
Smiling their smiles of reciprocation and satisfaction,
They tapdance on the hearts of the rest of us –
Unknowingly, uncaringly:

Us mere mortals who have never felt the sting in the heart
From the pluck of the bow
And those former lovers who fell to the ground defeated
And never got the lucky breaks
To strap the gloves back on
And step into the ring one more time
For a rematch with romance.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. contains links to his published poetry online.

P.C. Scheponik: ” The Search”

The Search

So much of the matter that makes up the helix of our being
is neither human nor animal, but the stuff of cosmos—
stardust mangles under time’s bed, hairs from renegade comet tails,
shards from planets and stars long dead, debris from the jumble tumble
of eternity that has bonded us into one species in love with the idea
of forever. The imprint hidden in there somewhere, before the union
of sperm and ovum, before the zygote grows an alien-looking head
with closed eyes that see, before the thumb buds and mouth slits
to suck nourishment in the secret amniotic sea of dreams where we
rock until the water breaks, and we are cast upon the shores of light
where we learn to wait through the nights and days, to spend our lives
searching for who we are.

P.C. Scheponik is a lifelong poet who lives by the sea with his wife, Shirley, and their shizon, Bella. His writing celebrates nature, the human condition, and the metaphysical mysteries of life. He has published six collections of poems. His work has also appeared in numerous literary journals. He is a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee. 

Dominique Williams: “Visitation”


Your spectral presence haunts my slumber from time to time.

Weaving slowly in and out of my cerebral labyrinths, you appear as a shining example of someone whose blemishes I once held dear.

I sense admiration and all our unspoken words quietly unravel in dormancy.

You have maneuvered a complicated route to find me. Don’t you know I would have gladly given you proper directions had you asked?

Or was it I who was guilty of evasion?

I no longer remember.

Sanctimony explodes as stardust bathing us in mutual exoneration.

My movie begins and concludes in seconds, the celluloid film strip exhausting itself as I awaken to unsettled disquiet.

Gratitude overwhelms.

And painful recollections dissipate,


Ebbing with the tide.


No more languishing; it seems I have captured something of you.

Don’t ever withdraw from my thoughts.

Remain in my illusions; our only hope for rapprochement.

And let bittersweet evocations transform into absolution.

Dominique Stavropoulos-Williams is a native New Yorker who holds degrees in Illustration and Interior Design. Her poetry has been published in The Dark Sire, Detour Ahead, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Better Than Starbucks, The Big Windows Review, and The Voices ProjectHer blog, focuses on interior design, art and architecture. Dominique is a member of SAG-AFTRA. She lives in East Harlem with her husband and rescue cat.

A.J. Huffman: “In the Wavelength of Light”

In the Wavelength of Light 

red is the longest color, a primary,
bold, blazoning in shades of look-at-me
daring. Embracing natural undertones
of expressiveness, it has become the face of
danger. Nature’s warning of venom’s presence,
man’s signal to cease progression. Yet its allure
remains. Tangible desire drips from its hue
as it shades our eyes with images of love.
Hearts and roses give rise to depth, the heated
center of passion, sex. Lipstick and lingerie
resonate with resilient ability to incinerate
all male defense. A fitting tribute, a reminder that
while biting the apple may have caused the fall,
Eve must have looked good holding it.

A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida. She has published 27 collections and chapbooks of poetry. In addition, she has published her work in numerous national and international literary journals. She is currently the editor for Kind of a Hurricane Press literary journals ( ). 

Catherine Yeates: “Waves”


_____You hold your ground through a tidal wave of thought, rushing, pounding, drenching you, and you said you wouldn’t ruminate, wouldn’t fixate. That you wouldn’t stare into the water, searching until your forehead burns and your mind is mush and all you know is impulse. Because impulse tells you to cup your hands and let the water pour over them, and you check it, examine it, decode it—turn it over in your mind as you try to scour an ocean of water for the tiny speck of sand that will finally tell you what went wrong. But the sand tells you nothing, sand is only sand, and thoughts are water, so you stop and breathe and take your hands out of the ocean, because you’re drenched but not drowning. You’re building dams, digging ditches, learning to direct the water away, to put it to use. That’s good mental hygiene, that’s brushing your teeth and washing your face with soap and water, but not with the tidal wave because all you can do is let it flow around you. You let it go. You stand steady until the wave sinks again, only as high as your ankles. Only then do you cup your hands and splash yourself and let the coolness soothe the burning in your head.

Catherine Yeates is a writer and illustrator. They received their PhD in neuroscience and create writing and art on themes of cognition, perception, and identity. They can be found at

Peter J. King: “The Bleak”

The Bleak

Peter J. King was born and brought up in Boston, Lincolnshire. Active on the
London poetry scene in the 1970s as poet, editor, performer, publisher, and
organiser, he returned to poetry in 2013 after a long absence, and has since
been widely published in journals and anthologies. He also translates poetry,
mainly from modern Greek (with philosopher Andrea Christofidou) and
German, writes short prose, and paints. His currently available collections are
Adding Colours to the Chameleon (Wisdom’s Bottom Press), All What Larkin
(Albion Beatnik Press), and Ghost Webs (just out from The Calliope Script).

Leah Browning: “Three Sheets”

Three Sheets

He shotgunned another beer before he called his sister. She’d been leaving him message after message; the tape on the answering machine was threadbare by this point. “It’s about time,” she said when she heard his voice, hers snappish as ever, because she was the younger sister and never tired of being disappointed by the scraps and hand-me-downs that life had thrown her way.

What did she want, though? She never said—at least, not until after the fact—preferring instead to play the martyr. He got up to find a book of matches and almost knocked over a floor lamp. Tiredness had made him clumsy.

Outside, it was starting to snow. He lit a cigarette, holding the phone between his cheek and shoulder as she rattled off her latest list of grievances. Then, “So what do you have to say about that?” It was a statement, not a real question, and he wasn’t sure what to take from it. Sometimes he was in the mood for her guessing games, or at least a willing participant. Tonight, he couldn’t muster the energy.

They went through the motions. Contrition (on his part, of course), and a short lecture—he needed to get his life together, tomorrow is a new day, et cetera, all the staples—and the call ended on a good note, he thought. He’d managed to hold up his end of the bargain.

She hung up the phone and said, “Well, he was three sheets to the wind.” She drummed her fingers restlessly on the table. It was getting late. She stood and paced around the room, thinking, thinking. But what could be done? He lived two states away. Briefly, she paused at the window, pulling the curtains back and looking outside. Her pulse was racing. “You should have heard him,” she said.

Her husband looked up from the newspaper and nodded. Her pronouncements didn’t usually require much of a response. She just liked the running commentary to be acknowledged. She walked into another room. When he had finished the last few pages, he extinguished the fire and went up to bed. Downstairs, he could hear her clattering around in the kitchen, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, and talking to the dog. From this distance, he couldn’t make out the words. The dog was old and deaf, though, and didn’t seem to notice or mind.

Then he must have dozed off, because the next thing he knew, she was climbing into bed. He could smell the lotion she slathered onto her skin every night in the bathroom. There was a click, and a soft rush of air as the heat turned on. Next to him, she shifted and sighed and pushed her pillows this way and that.

He closed his eyes again and thought of her brother, and the dog downstairs in its bed, and his wife, and everyone else on this cold night, all of them turning and turning and turning, trying to find a comfortable position.

Leah Browning is the author of Two Good Ears and Loud Snow, flash fiction mini-books published by Silent Station Press. Her stories have been published in Harpur PalateFour Way ReviewFlockNecessary FictionThe Petigru ReviewValparaiso Fiction ReviewNewfoundWatershed ReviewSuperstition ReviewParhelion Literary Magazine, and elsewhere.