Birdman by Nancy Byrne Iannucci

I thought the fluorescent lights 
were conjuring things
/ I closed my eyes and opened
/ but there he stood /
near the poultry section /
breathing deep /
through a maxi pad with wings.


Nancy Byrne Iannucci is the author of Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review 2018). Her poems have appeared in a number of publications including Gargoyle, Ghost City Press, Clementine Unbound, Dodging the Rain, The Ekphrastic Review8 Poems, Glass: A Journal of Poetry (Poets Resist), Hobo Camp Review, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. Nancy is a Long Island, NY native who now resides in Troy, NY where she teaches history at the Emma Willard School. 

TO FEEL THE POWER by John Grey

The wooden bridge
crosses the river
at its most virile,
spring current,
as cold as mountaintops,
crashing and splashing
against rock and bank.

None bother fishing
in the torrent.
And swimming
in its brisk waters
would be like dogpaddling
with a broken log.

All we can do
is grip the railing,
lean into the spray,
act as momentary buffer
between snow thaw and gravity
before pulling away.

Elsewhere,
wide blue sky,
lack of wind,
presages a calm
that’s there for the asking.
But, for now,
we prefer
the rage, the frenzy,
the turbulent spring waterway
that tells us what to do.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Soundings East, Dalhousie Review and Connecticut River Review. Latest book, “Leaves On Pages” is available through Amazon.

Prose-Poem to a Sister by Gayle Lauradunn

It is Spain. It is 1476 in the year of our
Lord. A condemned witch is being prepared for
the stake. She says to a friend, some years
younger than herself: Look, they pile the faggots
high! How they fear us, we who generate the action
of flames. Ah, the crowd gathers. Curiosity
draws them. Death is a cold number and the heat
of this death is strange to them. It is a new kind
of dying which comes once the art of life is learned.
Sister, one last request—for the child—do not lose
sight of him. I know he will be a good person,
creative and giving. I do not demand too much
for you are capable of my request. Your fears
are many: there is no need to fear, but you will learn
that for yourself. See how the crowd grows! Their
shapes form a city in the evening shadows. The chill
air pierces their flesh. Sister, read my journals,
then secure them. Their knowledge is for you alone.
When he is old enough, share them with him. Befriend
him. I know I do not overburden you for you have
a strength and a power you are not yet aware of. Hush!
They come for me. Let it soon be deepest night. I
desire these flames to burn daggers against the blackest
sky. Beware the crowd, for the heat draws them!


Gayle Lauradunn’s Reaching for Air was Finalist for Best First Book of Poetry (Texas Institute of Letters); her book-length persona poem All the Wild and Holy: a Life of Eunice Williams, 1696-1785, received Honorable Mention for the May Sarton Poetry Prize. Her third book will appear spring 2020. She received fellowships from Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Cummington Community of the Arts, and Squaw Valley Poetry Workshop.

Visual Art by Edward Lee


Edward Lee is an artist and writer from Ireland. His paintings and photography have been exhibited widely, while his poetry, short stories, non-fiction have been published in magazines in Ireland, England and America, including The Stinging Fly, Skylight 47, Acumen and Smiths Knoll.  He is currently working on two photography collections: ‘Lying Down With The Dead’ and ‘There Is A Beauty In Broken Things’.

He also makes musical noise under the names Ayahuasca Collective, Lewis Milne, Orson Carroll, Blinded Architect, Lego Figures Fighting, and Pale Blond Boy.

His blog/website can be found at https://edwardmlee.wordpress.com

3 Poems by Mary McGinnis

Magdalena

Your name, so full of red:
a bursting heart
a four-pronged cry.

Surrender is never easy;
take your hand out of your mouth,
stop biting your hand.

Breathe and then shout,
breathe and then cry;
the men in your life,

tiny pillars of ice on your chest;
open wide,
and let them fall where they may.

Magdalena, a town was named after you,
where children killed their parents,
and parents their children.

Forget about that.
Lie down in the snow,
now that you are talking again,
wisps of calm around your head.
When you have recovered from the past,
spray paint the mountains with apology.

Magdalena, here is chocolate
full of red and yellow strands
of feeling: drink it.


For Michele With Half of an Explanation

I thought of you tonight
with your black eyes and crazy mother from Carlsbad,
and how for the first years of our college friendship,
it seemed that we had known each other all our lives.

When your mother stood on her porch,
her jellyfish hands quivering,
it was the same for me when I left my mother –
they told us with their silence, fear and advice
we couldn’t make it on our own.
To make sure that we could,
I sang on buses,
and you made Mexican food from your hometown.

(We both wanted
big tapestried, adult lives.)

Why I took the time to make love with your ex-lover,
whom I didn’t even like, I don’t know.
Maybe it was the oil of clove I was wearing –
it covered up sweat and frustration.

And then why he told you about the awkward bread of our bodies,
after Renaissance music,
I don’t know.

I don’t know why, to this day, I forgot
you were my friend in bells,
my enchilada-making friend,
escaped from the desert where you pulled
out scorpions from under the house.
I remember you were always cold in Pennsylvania,
and read out loud to me
velvet bundles of old English
words because you could.


I’ll Write You a Letter Someday

I’ll write you a letter edged in cranberries;
when I knew you, I was 18, you were 23.
You asked me to marry you.

Marriage was at the bottom of the basement steps,
full of cobwebs in Johnstown, Pa.
The only way to get down there was to lift up

a heavy board,
an iron ring and descend into damp cold,
so, of course, we couldn’t marry.
We played out the first part of our loving in your mother’s

basement apartment. Upstairs was her dress shop.
We could hear the clatter of high heels, women trying on clothes, squealing.
She told us to keep quiet while the shop was open:

no orgasmic bells ringing,
or enthusiastic hippy yells.
I hid under the covers a lot,

thought I had been hit by a cataract of water
in last night’s dream.
Neither of us had much money.

Could we ever afford more than spaghetti,
and if so, when? If this was what being a couple was,
I wasn’t sure I wanted any part of it.

Competitive sex – you know why I’m saying that;
restlessness, jealousy, secrecy, an affair
within an affair, a balloon of hope and deceit

between us but at least we weren’t married.
The cranberries around my letter framed my memory
in a trellis of fragile health.

After all, you were my first, artful and smooth-skinned.
Write back to me if you ever got a real job
or you are more disciplined now.


Mary McGinnisblind since birth, has been writing and living in New Mexico since 1972 where she has connected with emptiness, desert, and mountains. Published in over 80 magazines and anthologies, she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has three full length collections: Listening for Cactus (1996), October Again (2008), See with Your Whole Body (2016), and a chapbook, Breath of Willow, published by Lummox for winning the poetry contest in 2017. Mary frequently offers poetry readings and writing workshops in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

2 Poems by Mark Niedzwiedz

Homo horizontal

The word morning
Should come with a government health warning
Rise and shine, toxic to the species known as Homo horizontal
Who have better things to do with legs, than to evolve, surface
From cosy, king sized beds, then stagger, worthless
Into cold bathrooms and busy kitchens, God save my soul from the early
Or, whether meant or accidental, the poor, whistling paperboy I may throttle
But it’s not all bad news, for one can survive the birdsong and gathering light
Simply by denying their existence, claim it’s still the middle of the night
So, a word to the vertical, breakfast early, gulp in the sunshine, jog if you will
But be warned, from the hours of seven till eleven, if you disturb me, these hands kill
For we Homo horizontals worship the drawn curtain, cherish hibernation
More precious than gold, even love, our duvet and pitch-black room
So, please don’t bring about my body’s exhumation
Nor wish me good morning till it’s well past noon


Where birds never sing

This is a place where birds never sing
And stale, heavy air entombs silence
Nothing moves, but a quickening heart, for murderous intent
Is in these dark woods, sprinkled with demonic scent
For this is one corner of the devil’s triangle
Made from two rings and a malady of the missing
Where no sun throws light, nor churchyard holds
The decomposing, ancient or modern
Who have strayed from the path, stained glass glint
Now huddled together at the leper’s squint

This is a place where birds never branch
In knot or twist of trees, whose crucified stance
Will not save you from the dim warren of endless track
Covered in mud and leaves, to where you started, back
And in the distance Lucifer’s pale, sickly horse
Shadows your misfortune, whilst his master sleeps
For these are the hours of day, go before twilight sets
Whisper constable and priest, now ghosts upon the heath
For this is a bad place, that will do you no good
So, run whilst there’s still time, from the wickedness of Clapham Wood


From the UK, Mark Niedzwiedz is a professional musician, composer and lyricist. So far, Mark’s poems have appeared, or scheduled to appear, in poetry journals such as Grey Sparrow, Oddville Press, Scritura, Wink, Rat’s Arse review, Sac, Literary Heist, Harbinger Asylum, SHiFT, Blaze, The Big Windows Review, The Literary Nest and elsewhere.

Selfies With Bernie by Yash Seyedbagheri

People want selfies with me.

I’ve been hit by a train. Police try to keep them from me.

But they keep coming.

“He smells interesting.”

“I can make him smile.”

They put an arm over my body, drag me around, Weekend at Bernie’s style. Brag about
how many likes they’ll get.

Someone mimes me masturbating.

No one speculates about what I felt when the train hit.

Answer: Tons of metal.

No one knew I called for my sister Nancy.

No one knew I also felt the weight of harsh words, drunkenness, and debts.

They can’t hear.

Contrition doesn’t get likes.


Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University’s MFA program. His stories, “Soon,”  “How To Be A Good Episcopalian,” and “Tales From A Communion Line,” were nominated for Pushcarts. Yash’s work has been published in The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Write City Magazine, and Ariel Chart, among others.

2 Poems by Don Thompson

Seen

You’ve seen that shaggy nonentity—an obvious female—step from the tree line into sunlight on a cold morning, watched her breath cloud, but never could find footprints in the frost.

You’ve examined that black bone on the beach—no doubt it was black and always had been, despite being whitened by scabrous gulls. No impossible beast from no matter how deep has such a rib to wash up on the shingle of consciousness. Right?

You’ve looked out the bedroom window, gawked at a silver chariot without wheels or horses, fit for a goddess, that hovered over the backyard one August night in the fifties. Too young—or maybe you’d have to be to process that data, your mind still supple enough for anomalies. Now you’d shatter like a dropped saucer.

And you’ve seen fire kindle itself above the muck—ignis fatuus, an unimaginably ethereal, translucent malachite gaze that drifted for awhile, aimlessly, and then began to fade. And then flickered and died.


Herpetology

You could go to your grave without ever accepting the water moccasin’s insinuations about you-know-what.

Without pawning the faux diamond back necklace that she refused.

You might easily avoid the escaped python’s embrace—as rare as love, after all.

And go nowhere near a cobra.

You could stand back from the black mamba’s dark abode and the boudoir of the asp with its velvet décor.

You might walk through tall grass for years, somewhere you should never go, and not step on so much as a garter snake.

Or reach into your sock drawer and not hear the rattle until it’s too late.


Don Thompson has been publishing poetry for over fifty years, including a dozen or so books and chapbooks.  For more info and links to publishers, visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com.