David Anthony Sam: “Images Divine and Secular (Ghazal)”

Images Divine and Secular (Ghazal)

Many names for life abandoned behind
myths ignite the darkest clouds from behind.

We’re designed to come apart in pieces, 
leaving trails of separate songs behind. 

Sometimes, there is a miracle that births 
a moth and leaves a broken hope behind. 

This valley teaches us by steps and falls 
and memories of all we’ve left behind. 

As shadows, we are moths to distant stars− 
our mercy to each other far behind. 

A Luna moth at night on window screen− 
a living dream by which I’m left behind.

David Anthony Sam lives in Virginia with his wife and life partner, Linda. His poetry has appeared in over 90 journals and his poem, “First and Last,” won the 2018 Rebecca Lard Award. Six of his collections are in print including Final Inventory (Prolific Press 2018), Finite to Fail: Poems after Dickinson (2016 Grand Prize winner of the GFT Press Chapbook Contest), and Dark Fathers (Kelsay Books 2019). He teaches creative writing at Germanna Community College, from where he retired as President in 2017 and serves as the Regional VP on the Board of the Virginia Poetry Society.

ayaz daryl nielsen: “Themselves”

He gave in
and embraced the
shared pitfalls,
exotic anguishes
and tempered
of her swollen,
plaintive embrace
They lived
within the space
between freedom
and constriction
and never
were more 
ayaz daryl nielsen, veteran and hospice nurse, lives in Longmont, 
Colorado. Editor of bear creek haiku (35+ years/175+ issues),
he is online at: bear creek haiku poetry, poems and info.     

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.

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.    

L. Ward Abel: “Coat of Birds”

Coat of Birds


L. Ward Abel’s work has appeared in Rattle, The Reader, The Istanbul Review, Snow Jewel, The Honest Ulsterman, Worcester Review, hundreds of others, and he is the author of three full collections and eleven chapbooks of poetry, including Jonesing For Byzantium (UK Authors Press, 2006), American Bruise (Parallel Press, 2012), Little Town gods (Folded Word Press, 2016), A Jerusalem of Ponds (erbacce-Press, 2016), The Rainflock Sings Again (Unsolicited Press, 2019), Floodlit (Beakful, 2019) and the forthcoming The Width of Here (Silver Bow, 2021). He resides in rural Georgia, and is a reformed lawyer, now teacher of literature.

Andrew Shields: “Early to Rise”

Early to Rise

Sleep can also come too easily,
and dreamlessness can wake you up at dawn
to a world where the birds have forgotten to sing.
The sun staggers up into the sky
behind bedraggled clouds that don’t know where
to put their rain. No rivers seem to want it;
the trees are ducking; the hills have nowhere to go
and nowhere to put whatever might be offered.
You should have stayed awake another hour,
until the nighttime breeze stopped being shy
and each mosquito in your room had had its fill.


Andrew Shields lives in Basel, Switzerland. His collection of poems Thomas Hardy Listens to Louis Armstrong was published by Eyewear in 2015. His band Human Shields released the album Somebody’s Hometown in 2015 and the EP Défense de jouer in 2016. Twitter: @ShieldsAndrew   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewshieldspoems/