Bar Bugs by Catie Wiley

The wasps are coming
Their summertime buzzing
A sickeningly sweet intoxication:
The pull of the fruit on the ground.
They sip, they swig,
The juice: addicting,
They swing, they sting
Anyone that threatens
That simple
Seductive
Luxury.


Catie Wiley currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. When she is not writing, you can probably find her trying to juggle random objects. Her interests include texting her friends non sequiturs, googling pictures of baby raccoons, and trying to beat her mom at scrabble. 

Terra Firma by Lara Dolphin

I went for a walk not at the beach
no sand between my toes
no gulls flying noisily overhead
having left behind everything but memories
and the sand I cannot get out of my shoes
I follow the road near my home
waving to the mail carrier on her route
quickening my pace past the barking dog
the green grass ablaze on morning lawns
old growth hemlocks towering above
and more than ample smell of earth
to keep me from the lure of the sea.


Lara Dolphin is a recovering attorney, novice nurse, and full-time mother of four amazing kids; she is exhausted and elated most of the time. 

The dreamery inshore by Paweł Markiewicz

Abraham Hulk 1813-1897

A dreamed ship has gone aground
at the most marvelous and dreamiest afterglow.
The mast adverts to orientation of
a tender Morning star.
Seafarers died at midnight
feeling the sea-like fantasy.
The wind wrenched a canvas,
such a Golden Fleece,
to the piratical islands.
The sea is waving in
the rhythm of siren-like
Terpsichorean art.
On the sandbank
a letter in bottle lies with
a sonnet to king Poseidon,
written by a dead sailor.
A rock inshore – like
a custodian of the eternity
is waiting for Apollonian dreams.
A cloud is as If it came from
the meek paradise-heaven,
it manifests a weird-like seriousness
of the moments.


Paweł Markiewicz was born 1983 in Siemiatycze in Poland. He is a poet who lives in Bielsk Podlaski and writes tender poems, haiku as well as long poems. Paweł has published his poetries in many magazines. He writes in English and German. 

2 Poems by Vern Fein

DESPITE:
OF HANSEL AND GRETEL’S WITCH

A bone bent rag pile
before the Pearly Gates
waits for the Saint
to pass judgment,
broods on forgiveness.

One says she knows not what she did,
but she did build the candy house
—lemon cookie walls, chocolate windows,
red and green Christmas candy roof, apple pie porch—
like a predator on a playground,
peeps out for any sign
of fattling children.

Her natural witch clairvoyance
knew they were coming,
Hansel’s bread crumb scheme,
snatched away by the birds
as she would tempt them
then slam the purple candy door
and pop him in her cage.

Smart children, honed
by the step-mothers’s wiles,
Gretel devises
the twig finger
to out-trick the tricker.

Day by day, the crone’s eyes
see wood instead of flesh,
impossible to wait
for succulence,
orders Gretel:
Light the oven,
carrots and gravy,
bake the boy.

Stupidly bends over
to test the heat,
whoosh the witch
into the fire.

The children flee home,
find their kind woodcutter father.
Bring baskets of goodies,
celebrate love and family.

The stepmother banished,
the children see her once more—
buy her bread and soup—
despite.


I’M SORRY

We say to the animate world.
We have inflicted so much hurt
on other humans—even the ones we most love.
We neglect a dog, a cat, a horse,
leave a bird cage ajar, stomp bugs.
We have not been St. Francis.
Sorry, a healing balm.

But what of the inanimate world?
Some say plants feel pain
when we yank them from the ground,
routinely murder the lawn.
We can kneel down
in our own garden
or by our mower and say it.
And, lumberjack—apologize to that tree
you just axed.

What about convenience items?
When they break, we bitch
even when we break them.
Like it was their fault.
Hey, if you buy 47 things
with moving parts, the law of averages
says at least two a week will break.
When you cuss out your furnace
or TV—humble yourself.

Do you stomp the floor
when you stub your toe?
Do you kick a chair
when you bang into it?
You put it there.
Or the table you bump,
the sidewalk that scrapes your knee.
Teach your children early on,
extend the chain of life to the lifeless.

Could be life changing,
apologizing not just to the living,
breathing world,
but to every
thing.

Like to your bed for not making it every day,
letting her live a rumpled life.
Like your toilet some still call a commode.
Sorry for all the shit you have to put up with.

Mea Culpa—to all the rocks I threw.


A retired special education teacher, Vern Fein has published over one hundred fifty poems on over seventy sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven’s Review, Beyond These Shores, Monterey Poetry Review, and Corvus Review.

3 Poems by Zebulon Huset

Repainting

The Elephants and donkeys
painted on nursery walls
were adhered with love

with thoughts of a newborn
swirling in mixed-up brains,
with stencils and

as was the only option
at the time of application,
with lead-based paint.


Right up until the end

But I know CPR and I’m shit at math
so I can bring you back to life and
don’t need to know the odds of it working.

You’re no witless crash test dummy,
no ballistic gel molded to torso—but
I’ll still deny the apocalypse for you.


Local Urban Legends

It was always some horrific accident
caused by carelessness, youth. A burst
of flame or crush of compacting car.

He was changing the channel—she
should have known not to text back
until she’d reached the destination.

The killer only found them because
the old ‘lover’s lane’ backed up
to the tracks where hobos trafficked.

The meteor fell on the streaking man
because no one, not even God,
wanted to see that during the game.

Because his whole family had already
passed the threshold, no one questioned
the story beyond the occasional reporter.

Most of us made graduation. A few
achieved escape velocity—the rest
remained in a slowly degrading orbit.

Waiting to crash to the ground—either
a shooting star’s last flare or friendless,
drunk and naked with an unclaimed
bullet in the back of the head.


Zebulon Huset is a teacher, writer and photographer living in San Diego. He won the Gulf Stream 2020 Summer Poetry Contest and his writing has appeared in Meridian, The Southern Review, Fence, Atlanta Review & Texas Review among others. He publishes the writing blog Notebooking Daily, edits the journals Coastal Shelf and Sparked, and recommends literary journals at TheSubmissionWizard.com.

SOBER SOLSTICE by Brian Glaser

—In bent is straight

—Lao Tzu

We laughed about it, for a while,
Andoe and John and I,
how it would be just like me
to write a poem about the acorns they gathered
from the oak-ground
under the orange and yellow leaves
on the white wood of the birches
on this December afternoon
after we left the house so Maricela could clean it
without the risk to us or to her of the virus.

And here I am,
faithfully,
with my poem about the deep brown of the acorns
that look a little like bullets
with a perfect monastic tonsure at the end
and that Andoe and John
soaked in water from the fountain
so we could peel them to get to the nut-fruit,
just to see it—pale brown-pink—
and feel it on the flesh of our hands.

Maybe someone will invent a way
to clean the air for everyone in New Delhi
and make the fortune they would deserve
for creating a city
where children wouldn’t have to go to schoolrooms
that do or do not have air cleansers,
and the teachers who teach there can think about
what teachers should think about—
justice, peace, joy; the shadowy problems of being.

If sincerity were a color
it would be white:
the white of the birches,
a sometimes inhuman whiteness—

a white like anger’s whiteness,
and if you can get to the bottom of your anger
you can parent yourself
well enough, Brian,
walking as you must amidst the citadels of indifference
of the good who believe they have done their work already.


Brian Glaser has published three books of poems and many essays on poetry and poetics. He is associate professor of English at Chapman University in Orange, California.

2 Poems by Morgan Boyer

Something you don’t know

Something you don’t know is the girl
behind the profile with the 3-year-old photo

read Hetalia fanfiction on the high school library
circulation desk computer back in 10th grade

Something you don’t know is she’s always
been too afraid to admit she hates Spongebob
Squarepants
to her family for the past 20 years

Something you don’t know is
she dog-ears her poetry chapbooks

Something you don’t know is
she’s still trying to figure out how
the garbage disposal works

Something you don’t know is
she’s seen dead possums
and wanted to poke them with a stick

Something you don’t know is
she’s hid inside of the church parlor end tables

Something you don’t know is
she didn’t care about Mexican pizza day

Something you don’t know is
she’s the only one she knows
that enjoys vanilla coke

Something you don’t know is
she’s a human-sized gremlin trying to be an adult

So know that you’re hiring a monster
When you click to give me an offer


I’ve got news

Like a collapsed coaxial cable crushed
by the weight of a late July thunderstorm
so does my chest when your words
claim the spectres I spent months playing
with have no voice of their own;
their wit, smiles and tears were worth
no more than a crumbled-up Marshalls receipt.

I know you must not think much of me in your
overpriced New York high rise, assuming that
an absent-minded Applachian white trash hick
could never land herself on a national bestseller
list or sit in a chair while actors in make-up worth
more than my mother makes in six months go
over the lines I had written on a smudge-stained
couch eating non-organic Lays potato chips.

I’ve got news for you: I have a voice,
and it’s not going anywhere,
whether your Whole Foods ass likes it or not.


Morgan Boyer is an author of The Serotonin Cradle (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and a graduate of Carlow University. Boyer has been published in Kallisto Gaia Press, Thirty West Publishing House, and Oyez Review

2 Poems by Esme DeVault

A Strange Day in July

this past summer in Maine
the clock stopped.

we picked blueberries
then put them back.

we swam out to the raft
and danced on it.

we built towers of rocks
knowing they would crumble.

we drank bad wine from boxes
and laughed at our own foolishness.

we saw fairy houses in the woods
and ghosts in the yellowed photographs on the wall.

we ate corn with our butter
and lobster with our bisque

the children built a campfire on the beach
and an empire was born in the sand.

and every rock we skipped
came back to us
again and
again and
again.


Wild Card

I was a thin-skinned girl
holding on to every hurt
caressing each word
nurturing the nasty things
you said.

revenge, however
never crossed my mind
revenge would out the angst
that I could not
let go of.

revenge
a paradoxical mix
of weakness and strength
self-pity and action
was not my sword

but rumination was my shield
by endlessly repeating
your hurtful barbs
I found safety and distance
a kind of zen of the maimed.

now I understand more fully
that what you say
is almost never about me
it is you showing your hand
playing your cards out of turn
desperate to win.

now I
hold my cards close
but am unafraid to play them

every card a wild card
every turn a triumph
every game a win
every match my own.


Esme DeVault is an attorney and poet living in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and dog Charlie. She was previously an English teacher and an academic reference librarian. She has had poems published in MotherscopeJonah MagazineThe Big Windows Review, Inkling Literary Magazine and Kissing Dynamite: A Journal of PoetryOctober Hill MagazineSolum Literary JournalSpadina Literary Review, WINK: Writers in the Know Magazine, and Street Light Magazine and forthcoming in Raintown Review