Christopher Barnes: “Townscapes” 1-5

Townscape 1

Striving-for-effect cornice, blunt pediment.
Forceful rhododendrons propel macromolecules.
Hived-off granite trench.
Bus creaks, hesitates…
Where Apollo dissolved intent.

Townscape 2

Colonnaded stairwell dwindles.
Gene-control pathways stiffen azaleas.
Hewed flint consumes time.
Playground swing flurries…
Where Gaia unwrapped the rum.

Townscape 3

Lumpish column, beams.
Chemical signals jostle ivy.
Rough limestone facing.
Gusts tumble bin…
Where Horus disposed of girly pinafores.

Townscape 4

Inward-sloping wall constricts.
Winter cherry admits biological universe.
Half-lit bas-relief.
Morrisons bag deflates…
Where Aphrodite off-loaded taut brogues.

Townscape 5

Ashlar, upright, gouged.
Lilies nod yielding tissue.
Mouldering paint on stucco.
Skunk roach prangs…
Where Demeter bent, feebly.
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.

Jennifer Klein: “Summer Morning”

Summer Morning

On a summer morning
I witnessed dew on the grass
The air was crystal cool
In my mind, I bent down
And let the elements do with me
What they will

Sun-drenched dewdrops
Birthed from their lushness
Wandered into the crevices
Of my heart, emanating

They showed me The Way
Of my future
Sang it to me
With just as much Cackling
As Wisdom

Jennifer Klein is an American writer. Poetry is one of her favorite ways to make social commentary and merge her inner and outer worlds. Her poems have been featured in Fahmidan Journal, Bombfire, and elsewhere. She studied English, Dutch Studies, and Norwegian at Indiana University Bloomington. Follow her on Instagram @JenniferKleinReal

Kenneth Pobo: Two Poems

Meteorologist on a Calm Day

I can’t even speak about clouds,
the sky an unforgiving blue.
I climb the sun’s gold ladder
to heaven—but it’s empty. 
Everyone returned to Earth

to enjoy a perfect day.  No wind,
just a slight breeze to tease open
the eye of a violet.  An angel
almost slipped on morning dew,
but it grabbed onto a lilac
just in time.  I’m probably

the only sad person, rain far away. 
I could indicate what might
appear in tonight’s sky.  Look up

and see Jupiter, a world
with real weather,
a huge red spot gashed into it
for centuries.  Or Neptune
with 2000mph winds. 

What can I offer but 75 degrees
and a bluebird preening
on a flagpole?



Nude Philosopher

I peel off my clothes.   
Under fabric, the same old me,
breathe in, breathe out, cars
roll by, and my parrot theorizes
on my shoulder.  I think

that I think better naked,
but my ideas come fully dressed,
soldiers in formation.  Why
did I tell them that they could
live with me?  It’s time
that they fledge, make their
own nests.  Usually I keep

each room dark.  A light bulb
hangs down by my bed.  I turn
the day on and off.  I’m often
asked about the meaning of life. 
I point to the sky and say

I guess it sounds deep. 
My favorite flower
is a dahlia.  Blossom and go. 
Redden something along the way. 


Kenneth Pobo (he/him) is the author of twenty-one chapbooks and nine full-length collections. Recent books include Bend of Quiet (Blue Light Press), Loplop in a Red City (Circling Rivers), Lilac And Sawdust (Meadowlark Press), Lavender Fire, Lavender Rose (BrickHouse Books), and Gold Bracelet in a Cave: Aunt Stokesia (Ethel Press).









Arvilla Fee: “Candles”


Arvilla Fee teaches English and is the poetry editor for the San Antonio Review. She has been published in numerous journals, and her poetry book, The Human Side, was released this month. For Arvilla, writing has always been about making connections with ordinary people who will say, “She gets me.” 

Diane Webster: “Cracks Run”

Cracks Run

Grass in pavement cracks
runs across the black top
like green rivulets of lava
surging, overflowing banks,
creating new avenues
until weed killer spray
browns growth in its tracks;
sea water blackens
molten stone into granite plugs
as steam scowls skyward
until somewhere else a shift
in surface sprouts another crack,
and dormant roots seek escape.

Diane Webster’s goal is to remain open to poetry ideas in everyday life, nature or an overheard phrase and to write. Diane enjoys the challenge of transforming images into words to fit her poems. Her work has appeared in El Portal, North Dakota Quarterly, Eunoia Review, and other literary magazines. She also had a micro-chap published by Origami Poetry Press.

Robert Okaji: Three Poems

In That Moment of Clarity

Body of moon, body of light. That
central point moving ever outward
through avoided bliss. No one
suited you. Spring became autumn
and your hair thinned as the soil
dried, inept, harsh, a howl caught
at the throat of the blurred lens
in the owl-eye of contention. Missteps
expanded in tongue-slipped days,
and you slurred forward. Yesterday’s
lapse. Today’s misdeed. Another’s
intent. My mistake was living.


Hearse, Departing

Not waiting for God. Nor that light
glancing off the windshield,
leaving us farther behind
in the blurred passage. Grief
is a cold engine, a stump,
a daily migraine. Not force
but absence. Gray sky
clamping down on the
sun-starved chrysanthemum.
Our goodbyes, incomplete.


In This Gray Morning I Think of Hiroshige

Hummingbirds pause at the agave blossoms.
Sunlight trickles through dense clouds.
I stand sweating in the emptiness.
Hiroshige, too, acknowledged oblivion,
leaving his brush in the East, having
completed a final task. Facing death,
he sought the Western Land. In this space
nothing fills me with desire. As you,
in your unknowing, observe the flow.

Robert Okaji lives in Indiana among hundreds of books, with his wife, stepson and cat. His most recent chapbook, Buddha’s Not Talking, won the 35th annual Slipstream Poetry Chapbook competition, and his work has recently appeared in Threepenny Review, orangepeelLakeshore ReviewEvergreen Review, and other venues.



George Freek: Three Poems

Dialogue with the Moon (After Li Po)

After last night’s frost,
autumn leaves die fast.
The days are brief.
The nights are long.
I drink a glass of wine
to forget the past.
I speak to the dead moon
in an uncomprehending sky.
In a freezing rain, leaves
blow over your grave.
You were forty-five,
But no one
is too young to die.


In the Middle of the Night (After Tu Fu)

The sky is a clock
without a face, as the day
ticks to a conclusion.
Some stars appear.
Hanging in the air
like lanterns, lighting
the way to nowhere.
The river meanders
in haphazard fashion,
without cares,
without dreams,
without passions.
An owl awakens,
leaving his tree,
searching for a victim.
For some tiny creature,
it will be the last night
of his unmemorable life.


October Night (After Tu Fu)

A black fog hangs
like a disease
from the frozen trees.
If I could, I would pray,
but what would I say?
The sky turns dark,
as if hiding unspeakable sins.
Leaves fall
from my sapless trees.
They shudder, dancing
to death in the night air.
A solitary raven
circles the darkening sky.
He glides with a purpose.
He doesn’t look at me.
And as winter closes in,
his thoughts are deadly.

George Freek’s poetry appears in numerous Journals and Reviews. His poem “Written At Blue Lake” was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His collection Melancholia is published by Red Wolf Editions.

Emily Black: Two Poems

We Feed Dragons to the Moon

Moon dust fuels our love madness.
Breezes etch our bodies until they feel

like sandblasted glass. Our minds give
way to passion that suspends all thoughts

and makes us one. We worship the moon,
our heavenly mother, goddess of our love,

and nurture her with rituals that send
our fearful monsters into her ample arms.



When the music stops, we’ll melt into a seawater
puddle, a puddle of tears. I’ll wear my yellow
galoshes I had when I was five and pretend I’m
a yellow-tailed mermaid.

My open arms are waiting. We’ll spin around
the room, one limber octopus, two bodies that flow
as one in a tango rhythm. Our eyes will lock
together as we follow this gaze.

Neptune leads our dance well, but he forgets I’m
not a true sea-being and he has no power over me.
I am the moon whose golden-yellow chariot lights
the night sky with deep, mysterious reflections.

Emily Black, second woman to graduate in Civil Engineering, University of Florida, enjoyed a long engineering career. She is published in numerous journals. Her first book, “The Lemon Light of Morning,” was published in 2022. Her second book is scheduled for publication in 2023. She wears “Firecracker Red” lipstick.

Thomas Mixon: “Break of Day”

Break of Day

On dark mornings I go walking in the frozen tracks
the trucks I don’t look out for made, gloves askew,
head turned down, eardrums stuffed with sticky

rhymes from skeletal verses, and hoof prints
dirt road petrified, which I ascribe to horses,
which can’t be right, it must be boars, escaped

from rich folks’ hunting grounds, game preserve
across the highway, and the broken fence forbears
its tale, not that I’d listen, as the ledge begins

to crest, and only then do I look up to verify
that I’m alone, to make sure I’m not asked
to console another passerby, that I won’t jump,

I won’t, I haven’t yet and have no plans
to start, and I’m relieved by the diluted sun
paltering with clouds, sprawling landscape

empty of a single soul who wants to sell me
hope, and it’s a joy to turn around and unexplain
myself to scalloped ground, faltering, then falling.

Thomas Mixon has fiction and poetry in Barren MagazineWrath-Bearing TreeRogue Agent, and elsewhere.

Mike Lewis-Beck “Bad Bar in Chicago”

Bad Bar in Chicago

I’m in a bad bar in Chicago but not as bad as your tarot bar. The ranter next to me explained, between bites of bone, that he now understood everything and didn’t need to explain. I said I understood. He left, not themed but he did have a lime windbreaker and I thought of a gimlet. So I ordered a gimlet although then I knew I wanted a Gibson like Chandler. Still I wonder which of your 4 cocktails are your inventions? Which two? Must be Smile cause of the calamus and Corpus cause of the Cherry Herring which broke all over me when I was hit by a biker in Guatemala City in 1967 and I thought it was The End Of The World.
But it only ended the Cherry Herring.

Mike Lewis-Beck writes from Iowa City. He has pieces in American Journal of Poetry, Alexandria Quarterly, Apalachee Review, Aromatica Poetica, Big Windows Review, Birdseed, Blue Collar Review, Columba, Cortland Review, Chariton Review. He has a book of poems, entitled Rural Routes.