Doug Hoekstra: “Offseason (Italian Sonnet)”

Offseason (Italian Sonnet)

Offseason. Dusty windows shuttered tight
In the blackness, I listen to her sleep
The rise and fall of interrupted dreams
Shallow waters. The edge of ocean tide
Lost afternoons. Small moments magnified
Paintings of horses. Landscape stucco scenes
Lined the walls of our hotel by the sea
She huddled close, the one I still rewind

No histories or stories to be read
Baggage lost or never bought. Two unclaimed
By a future that wasn’t ours to see
Magic. In the hollow of our bed came
The turning of a string of present days
Fading, I still remember how she sleeps

Doug Hoekstra is a Chicago-bred, Nashville-based writer and musician, educated at DePaul University in the Windy City (B.A.) and Belmont University in the Music City (M.Ed.), whose prose, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in numerous print and online literary journals. His first set of stories, Bothering the Coffee Drinkers, was published in April 2006 and earned an Independent Publisher Award (IPPY) for Best Short Fiction (Bronze Medal). Ten Seconds In-Between, his latest collection of short stories (June 2021) won the Royal Dragonfly Award for Best Collection of Short Stories, 2021, finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards, 2022. Hoekstra has also worked extensively as a singer-songwriter with eight albums of original material on labels released on both sides of the pond, propelling touring throughout the U.S. and Europe, at bookstores, coffeehouses, clubs, libraries, pubs, festivals, radio stations, and castles; solo and with combos in tow. Musical highlights have included Nashville Music Award and Independent Music Award nominations, as well as many groovy happenings. 2021 also brought a new album of music, The Day Deserved, well-received in press and radio outlets. (“A lot of people write songs, Hoekstra writes five minute worlds” – Wired Magazine). 

Roger Singer: “Night Flash”

Night Flash

city without

angels at the

light and shadows,
a siren owns the air

marching shoes,
a sidewalk melody

street pipes,
steam songs

blue night

black hawk
Dr. Roger Singer is the Poet Laureate of Old Lyme, Connecticut. He has had over 1,000 poems published on the internet, magazines, and in books and is a 2017 Pushcart Prize Award Nominee. He is also the President of the Shoreline Chapter of the Connecticut Poetry Society.

Maggie Nerz Iribarne: “Former”


Pressing his black trousers again, the steam hisses and sputters. I smooth out the faint lines, push in a crease. The children, who watch me from their framed faces lining the walls, are at school. In another frame- our holiday group shot-the five of us standing beneath looping words: Merry Christmas from the Phillips Family, the children are decked out in holiday greens and reds. My husband and I wear off tones. He dons a purple sweater with his black slacks, “Because it’s technically Advent,” he said at the time.  For no good reason, I wear a butter yellow turtleneck. I fade into background, like an unlit candle

I shift the trousers from the ironing board to my husband’s side of the closet. They line up in smooth order, a sight I know will give him pleasure, provoke a peck on the cheek while I wash dishes. 

He wears the black trousers always, whether at the office or mowing the lawn. He refuses the khakis, jeans, and corduroys I bought him at the beginning. They stay neatly folded in a stack on a shelf. He would never consider giving them away. “They were a gift from my wife,” he says, “it’s unthinkable.” 

I slide the rounded triangle of my iron across swathes of dark fabric, acquiescing to the encroaching memory – the first time he let go, pulled me in, my bottom meeting his black lap, my arms and legs wrapping around his chaste body.  

“Slut,” that’s what the parishioners called me. 

“Savior,” is what my husband said, just that first time. 

I work the last pair of his black trousers, repetitive motions across the flat surface, attempting to tease out that final stubborn wrinkle. 

Maggie Nerz Iribarne is 53, living her writing dream in a yellow house in Syracuse, New York. She writes about witches, dys/functional relationships, small disappointments/pleasures, the very old, bats/cats, priests/nuns, cleaning ladies, runaways, struggling teachers, neighborhood ghosts, and other things. She keeps a portfolio of her published work at

Phil Huffy: “Promptitude”


Oh yes, a window,
there always seems to be
nearby, a window,
so, onward, lucidly.

Perhaps that window
looks from the second floor
and such a window
reveals a little more.

But you, dear poet,
have not the only one
and now, poor poet,
your job has just begun.

To write, a poet
requires poetic eyes.
Alas, good poet,
that’s where the challenge lies.

Phil Huffy writes early and often at his kitchen table, casting a wide net as to form and substance. His work has appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, including Schuylkill Valley Review, Eunoia, PangolinOrchards Poetry, The Lyric, and several haiku publications

R. H. Nicholson: “Grief Train”

Grief Train

The Grief Train
Pulled into the station
Onyx black
Steam hissing
Angry, sullen,
And I handed the porter my single ticket
For grief is a solitary passage.
I claimed my seat,
Facing backwards,
The only option,
Nearest the couplings
Clanging in the gloam,
The rhythm of nihilism
Gnawing at my brain,
And watched the others board:
A Latina whose daughter drowned in the Rio crossing,
A lamenting veteran,
A husbandless wife,
A father whose son slipped
Through his fingers,
A sister who survived the massacre,
A lover lost
We sensed that we did not sense each other,
And traveled in silence,
Blur in the windows,
Arctic air at our bones,
With beads and bibles,
Photos and fragments,
Tears and trinkets,
Clutched to our hearts.
And we rode.
After hours or months or decades or days,
(For one is as the other),
The iron horse crawled to a stop.
We sat,
All of us
In silent stagnation,
Until the porter gently
Ushered us
To our destinations,
Surprisingly all the same.
I disembarked,
Numb and knotted,
And followed the path,
Of crucible stones
To the other side
Of the languishing locomotive,
Stood in line,
Until the porter punched
My ticket,
And I boarded the Grief Train

R. H. Nicholson is a professor emeritus of English, a writer, poet, playwright, and public speaker who spent forty years teaching in high school and college classrooms. His work has appeared in The Back Porch, New Poetry, Echo Ink, The Blue Lake Review, Wordmongers, and in the professional journal The English Toolkit. He was a contributing author in the book From Vision to Action. He won the 2015 Cincinnati Poetry Prize. He and his wife live in Greendale, Indiana, with their geriatric cat Fezziwig.

Samo Kreutz: “No more empty ground”

No more empty ground (a haiku sequence)
already sown in them
the bird’s sounds

planting beans
a small child speaks
about the cosmos

lettuce seedlings
no more on a bare ground
his shadow

watering flowers
all the new shoots
of her stories

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 three in English (they are haiku books, titled The Stars for TonightA Time Different from OursNo Bigger Than a Crumb, all published by from India). His recent work has appeared on international websites (and journals), such as The Heron’s NestThe Big Windows Review, Ink Sweat & Tears: The poetry and prose webzine, Green Ink Poetry, First Literary Review- EastAriel Chart, and others.

Jake Sheff: “We Install a Sump Pump on (What Used To Be) a Holiday (Take 8)”

We Install a Sump Pump on (What Used To Be) a Holiday (Take 8)

It’s good to be home, son. This storm must be
Re-examining its assumptions, or giving us
The silent treatment. Let’s put on London Calling,
After this Tchaikovsky number. Try to put your
Body into it a little more, like you’re contending
With a vortex full of ancient and angelic thoughts!

Screw that in tighter; make a seal. I read a lot
Of H.G. Wells in prison, thought a lot about fox-
Gloves at Fort Stevens in the needy months of
Rain. Camping? If your mother’s permission slips
On a banana peel. First, we better persuade this
Crazy sump pump to at least pretend it’s not

Insane. The warden looked like the spectacled
Eiders we used to see up north. In this weather,
My hands conceive better than they combine. Work
Tastes like the salmonberries at Oxbow Park,
When the shotgun shells and fabric softener above
The vortex are mine. I’m dumber than a rifled slug.

Jake Sheff is a pediatrician and US Air Force veteran. He’s published a full-length collection of formal poetry, A Kiss to Betray the Universe (White Violet Press), along with two chapbooks: Looting Versailles (Alabaster Leaves Publishing) and The Rites of Tires (SurVision).