THREE POEMS | by Nina Puro


FIVE POEMS | Genevieve Jencson



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TWO POEMS | by Ellyn Touchette


I am flying down I-95, flipping stations, staring at the radio

like I’ve got a death wish, when the last minute

of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” comes flailing onto WBLM.


I am sitting on a barstool. A boy in a leather jacket

is telling me to listen for Mick Jagger to moan with pleasure

when Merry Clayton’s voice cracks on the high notes at the end.

The boy is effortless cool. Knows a lot about rock n’ roll.

Tells you who to root for in every song. We listen.

There is a crack. A moan. As promised.


I am flying down I-95. Merry Clayton is screaming far gone memories

of this boy who is leaving. I have to believe she knows

what a storm sounds like; what it is to be fire-swept.


I am leaning against the wall of a handicapped bathroom,

a pregnancy test drying on the floor. There are two minutes on the timer

and the end of my life is a shot away. When the dried bar

tells me just how empty I am, my voice cracks under the weight

of this loneliness. The boy I now know I can’t keep tells me I have

a pretty voice. I tell him I have a hard time with the high notes.


I am flying down I-95, chasing this boy who loves like war; like murder.

I do not know whether he will take The Stones with him

when he goes, only that this can never again be my song.


I am listening to my lover talk about rock and roll. There is no end

to his praise of the voice crack. He does not know how many ways Merry Clayton

broke the night she laid the track. He still does not know about the miscarriage.

The pretty boys who moan when their women break do not know that you can sing

your body empty, that a woman’s fury is caustic and her grief is barren land.

Merry Clayton and I… we must have hit the same high notes.








My mother’s sister meets the devil between jobs.

He snags her ankle in the revolving door and pulls her down.

He asks what she has always wanted (A voice, she whispers);

needed (A husband, she admits); longed for (A baby, she cries).

Satan grins; promises safe delivery. He does not mention

that he is a man of two-thirds promises; does not tell what he plans to take.

Tonight she sings under her breath as a man sets the dinner table.

She would love to concede that she is happy like this,

but every few weeks she calls to remind me

that when she is gone, she will give me all the fine silver.




Ellyn Touchette is a biology student and behavioral health professional from Portland, Maine. She is on the board of directors for Port Veritas, a slam and nonprofit which she has represented at multiple national competitions (NPS 2013 and 2014, WOWPS 2013). Her work is present or forthcoming in The Emerson Review, Black Heart Magazine, The Legendary, and Drunk in a Midnight Choir.


FOUR POEMS | by Trisha Parsons

A kind-of height

I ached for some cigarettes.  Funny, because I never smoked.  But he smoked hourly, probably.  I always liked the way it smelled on him.  I remembered a time when we’d shared cigars on the parking garage rooftop, smoking out little moonbeams, down to the darkness of 20th street.  I looked out at a hotel – flashing green sign – sleep here.  With him.  Ahhhh, with him.  He smelt like tobacco and dirt but he made me feel pretty.  I blushed, cherry-red around him; my cheeks giant freckles of nerves.  Listless, but lively, we lived inside each other’s emptiness, for awhile.  Awake, eyes open on coffee and insomnia in our tight space filled with guitar strings and Magic cards.  He never wanted to teach me to play.  He wanted me to fall in love with him, and I might have, too.  He looked good, in his one suit, and I liked him sitting in the passenger seat of my car.  Orange, under the glow of streetlights.  But now, in the aftermath of an almost-love we can’t even be friends.  I smoke, to remind myself of the comfort I found in his presence.  That time we were on the roof, waving to the people down below.  We probably weren’t ever really friends (just friends) but we were tall.   




honey, your bones are inexplicably lovely.

there, in a cavity of the earth

completely swallowed, engulfed,

by a particular matter of soil and grass.

your remains are not remains, baby

life has not yet left you just because you 

rest in solitary pieces covered by earth

does not mean you are beyond everything

I still think of you and I see you

standing next to me when I look

in the mirror, and sweetheart

you’re going to have to be more

observant of your smell.

it’s overwhelming my senses

which is seriously tragic when

it makes me believe

I could touch you. 





I get pretty sick of people thinking I’m still here.  Like, “oh I can feel your presence.”  Bullshit!  I’m gone.  I’ve left; completely digested and overwhelmed by this cavity in the earth that was dug for a grave where you could come and wish me back to life.  I am remnants of what I used to be!  Sticking around is really getting tiring, all this spooky crap.  I’m no good at it so you just need to let me go.  Oh, and I can’t do anything about that smell.  I’m dead.  





the bedpost diary

secrets are the lies on bed sheets 

steamed stained suspicious in the morning when your 

lover’s gone never considered in 

porous pink primed passion

how the bra is best left undone - 

the time it takes to  … oooh

how you wish you had asked 

about that floozy and the other

night you lied about should you have told?


Trisha Parsons is a full time student at the University of Wyoming where she studies English and Gender Studies.  She has always fancied herself a poet, but has found her poetic tendencies to be helpful in writing prose, and hopes to endeavor into the wild world of novels.    

FLASH FICTION | by Nikki Thompson


From time to time I fall in love. I don’t do it often to save myself embarrassment. I prefer something more solid, like doorways. It’s clear what to expect — if a door is open, I’m welcome; if it’s closed, I’m not. A locked door can be infuriating, but less so than waiting for his phone calls. Then of course, his phone calls are followed by calls to friends; the possibilities in his words must be analyzed. These conversations are made up of the false starts and trips and mistellings of anticipation and remembering. If it’s really serious, I’ll meet a friend for coffee so we can strategize in person. Unlike Christmas, no specific day guarantees an open door and an end to waiting.


Floor Plans

The first time I fell in love, there were three of us. This didn’t seem quite right when I looked at my floor plans, but I was still learning to read the symbols of sinks and couches and sliding doors. He was tall, blond, cracked eggs on his head, and jumped in front of departing cars. As soon as we got home, the three of us were on the phone. It’s true, our trio was inseparable, but I would have preferred two. I was the one who dyed his hair red for the Tori Amos concert. I thought that meant something. This went on for a year and a summer. That my two closest friends were boys, content with our three-way friendship, seemed as natural as drawing floor plans instead of listening in geography. Everyone thought we were dating, I had to tell them no. Then he’d be over for hot chocolate and confidences. Too late, I understood the most important confidence.



I have a friend who falls in love once a week, which can be a problem. (I could never love that many boys at once. I would have to draw myself elevations and sections to know which boy was which, what to talk about, what I liked about him.) Some of the girls know people in common, and then they’ll both show up at the same party. In these cases, I’m expected to rescue my friend. If we’re taking the bus together, he’ll point out a girl he might fall in love with. I can’t keep track of all the names, so I’ve asked him to make me a database. He’s an accountant not an architect, which must be where we differ. Maybe I’ll laminate the database, so I can give it to him for his birthday. That way when he looks back, he’ll recognize himself at that particular moment.




I frequently fall in love with structures. My first time at the Palace of Fine Arts, I thought maybe I’d get married. That way I could take pictures under the neoclassical grandeur without feeling like a tourist. Then there was the Greene and Greene, reliable with its rustic straight lines; and the Julia Morgan, romantic with the concrete flowers and leaded glass. Once I had a friend complicit in these obsessions — a 2:00 AM drive through West Hollywood and a Schindler house with thin windows that delicately separated concrete slabs. I wasn’t much impressed by the facade of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, although there was something compelling in the stubborn geometry. I fell in love with the interior: the ambiguity between inside and outside, between rooms and floors — the meticulous simplicity. I never anticipated the brilliance of that openness.




Once I was in love with a furniture maker. I never knew him beyond small talk, but I had seen his furniture. If I could make furniture (if I could get over my distaste of screaming metal and shrieking wood, my hesitation around sharp, rapidly moving blades, my association of woodshops with torture chambers), and if my craftsmanship was that meticulous (all I ever see in my work are the flaws where things come together, the clumsiness), his furniture would be the furniture I would dream of making — furniture more provocative, more beautiful than an Eames’ chair or a Le Corbusier (but not more than a Greene and Greene, I wasn’t that in love.).


Nikki Thompson is a poet, book artist (aka Deconstructed Artichoke Press), and happily failed architect. She fled Southern California for UC Berkeley, where she earned a degree in architecture and edited Berkeley Fiction Review. She remained in the Bay Area and earned her MFA in creative writing from California College of the Arts in 2002. Her work has appeared in Mason’s Road, Cobalt Review, *82 Review, among others. She currently teaches special education at South San Francisco Unified School District, while residing in Pacifica, California, with her husband and darling pitbull, Daisy Mae.

THREE POEMS | by Rose Hunter


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THREE POEMS | by Alicia Banaszewski

There’s More to Say on the Subject than I’ll Ever Be Able to Articulate So I Shouldn’t Even Bother

But I don’t ever do as I’m told and I keep receiving flowers

from the wrong people and I keep telling the wrong

person goodnight. What gives? Ladyfingers are a delicate

food and concept. Lady fingers are thinner than a man’s

and therefore weaker, but better. Therefore more

beautiful and breakable and inconsistent, because hormones.

I like to dress in all black and then speak in bright neon tubing.

The sign I wear as a locket says closed but all these strangers

keep knocking. Be back at 8AM, I say, Sorry for any inconvenience.



These Vessels

As foreign as marks of lipstick on glasses
and mascara stains on my sleeve—

young stars fly out of spiral arms and into
puddles of lace, the instruments of my alienation—

This is exactly the way I knew it would be,
so silent, so cold—surrounded by your body

of water. Wearing pastels has made me feel softer
and like the lilac bush outside my mother’s house—
      that so quickly loses its decoration, I pull inward.

She’s too busy soaking in the long draw of a good
compliment to smile in every picture. It wasn’t her,

it was the idea I loved.
With a watercolor face I
followed my dalmatian onto our sectional couch.

My mother met me at the bus stop to tell me
the dog had died. In times like these I sleep
in only a towel—to feel something wrapped around me.



Self Portrait - Sprawled on an Itchy Brownish Rug

I am sitting on a train, without a voice.

I am a magnolia tree resisting wind,

an Arizona blackbird’s startled heart,

the storm of cream in your morning coffee.

I am the flamboyant peacock idly marching in the zoo,

the girl at the party who asks you to refill her cup

because kegs give her anxiety.

I am the isolated hail atop a single mountain,

the bluegill who pricks your flesh, which you catch and always throw back.

I wash my face with peppermint soap and an old flannel shirt.

I am a terrible pen pal. I cannot organize my thoughts.

I am indifferent about UFOs.

I wish I had Julia Child’s gusto.

I lack peripheral vision and spatial awareness.

I often bump into strangers or accidentally brush their fingertips.

I am constantly disheveled, a car spinning on ice.



Alicia Banaszewski is a poet and playwright in Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in The Light Ekphrastic, The Fat City Review, The Finger, and others. Her column “Michigan on My Mind” can be found on a semi-regular basis at

POEM | by Lily Duffy

Anyway, give me what I need. A hymn laying there
noiseless can play dead for the judges, but knows what to do
when I walk in. A hymn laying there. You and your hoe,
the ground and a pattern—ditches dug so we could climb out
but fuck in them first. The fucking comes first. My face
to your back for the judges when I walk in noiseless knows
a pattern and the ground. A hymn laying there. A ditch dug
lays there noiseless when I walk in and so the fucking first.
Knows to climb in before out, always fuck first. The judges
fuck first. Your hoe on the ground, your hoe laying there. A
hymn noiseless and a pattern dug first, later ditched. When you
play dead fucking, lay first. Climb out so the judges noiseless
from fucking see my face when I walk in, know what to do. A hymn
laying there. A hymn laying there dug for a ditch climbs out
first, judges. Fuck the ground played for its pattern, what dead
I need to me given. You and your hoe, noiseless. When I walk in.

Lily Duffy is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she also teaches creative writing. Her poems have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, ILK journal, Cloud Rodeo, Bone Bouquet, NAP, inter|rupture, and elsewhere. With Rachel Levy, she co-edits DREGINALD. She lives in Denver.

SIX POEMS | by Sara Lupita Olivares

a still point becomes a web in and out of light             
this is the epiphany made of someone’s fuchsia
the entire thing forgotten and gladly
perkiness leans itself downward in some dramatic plunge



there are hooves dancing

in the yard
saying things are further
saying truth is made out of discomfort

I tie string to each expression because it disappears
our legs as ideas of being carried
as sheets and clothes in crooked branches




forgot the pots and pans behind masking-tape
names of each epiphany
leave the stomach
you watch yourself
each bits

of clay
a joy to rename
the many flowers 




we were keeping our horse heads
screwed onto their sticks
these included our real hair
attached to thought

this tin a cup this carpet floral



I wasn’t dressed like myself.

I was a horse in the rain
wearing my blanket.
These things seem tediously insignificant.
Tomorrow I will be a better listener.
Everything dressed in its blue rain jacket.



merriness as an ordinary object   
as my plates and your silver things

we are a tiered cake
a day we can’t always have

and I wonder
of this plume

of you
this plume
of mine

sternness only
an ornament







Sara Lupita Olivares is an MFA candidate at Texas State University.    

TWO POEMS | by Michelle Reale

In retrospect raffish wasn’t a good choice in a man.  Nobody tells you these things anymore.  Teach as you have been taught.  So you wished your mother wore an apron and had the perpetual look of the martyr? Wish again.  Here is recalibration in all of its glory. Take a step backward, and then lunge forward.  Give yourself a running start.  If a house in your dreams represents your body, what does it say for the upper level with all of the windows open and everything flying out and away from you?  Alarm clock, alabaster owl, down pillow, a crucifix.  The thrones are empty and there is no one left to climb the crooked stairs.  Your trust has been meticulous, but that train has left the proverbial station.  You will never have to show documentation again.  There are 1000 plateaus and there are no clues on how to get there.    Try to find a place where everyone sublimates their feral tendencies .  Not making a choice, in the end, is the best choice of all.
That’s the Way to Do It
At the Academy of Punch and Judy you are not only failing miserably, but you have, in fact, been failed.  I can’t really tell, though, if this is a masculine or feminine problem.   Are there other options?  When destitution has become a desire, when silence speaks louder than words ever could, the wounds come to the surface.  They may be superficial, but isn’t everything?  Still, they are wounds nonetheless. You care your own sovereign nation state.  Wave your flag. It has all gone pear-shaped, but there still may be time for something else.   This is your purdah.  Acute undermining of the kind of life hoped for at birth.  Stop picking the scabs.  Your eyes will adjust to the gloaming and you will still possess the ability to look away when it is appropriate.  And, thankfully, even when it’s not.

Michelle Reale is an Assistant Professor at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia.  She is the author of four collections of fiction and prose poems and has been published in a wide variety of publications both online and in print. She has been twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry collection “The Legacy of the Sidelong Glance,” will be published by Aldrich Press in the Fall. She does ethnography among African refugees in Sicily and blogs about some of her experiences at

TWO POEMS | by Christie Collins

Ovarian Teratoma

a tumor consisting of different types of tissue and capable of growing hair, teeth,
and other body parts.

Teratoma didn’t receive invite to your tea party.
Teratoma don’t like tea cakes.
Teratoma has 3 teeth, a patch of slimy hair, and baby
                     foot growing off to one side.
Teratoma thinks he looks fat in jeans.
Teratoma hungry for cardboard.
Teratoma has no eye but if he had eye
                     he’d blink twice for yes.
Teratoma eat his twin.
Teratoma don’t like mirrors.
Teratoma come from body but has no
                   mother to speak of.
Teratoma see the world in white.
Teratoma likes to spin.
Teratoma want to wear icicles as earrings,
                   but in the body, icicles melt.
Teratoma has an itch on his noggin.
Teratoma want to feel the sunlight.
Teratoma another wonder of the body, 
                 but he knows you look away.



While waiting in line to pay for gas in an overstocked service
station, who has not been tempted to purchase one

of those one dollar grab bags bundled in brown paper
and bottom heavy like a packed lunch? What you don’t need

is another oversized I Love Florida tee shirt or a sand-filled
keychain, but the suspense is surprisingly unwholesome.

Something like the lure of online dating. You said you wouldn’t,
but you’ve thought about those deep levels of compatibility

advertised on late night infomercials. You know about
being dimensional. You’ve kissed with your eyes open.

You want what you want. Or you want to know what you want.
It’s the experience that counts, which is why, when you go pee

in the truckstop bathroom next door, you stop and study
the round hole in the wall that’s just even with your waist.

Because you have a hankering to be exposed, audacious, bad,
you place your open mouth to the wall and close your eyes.


Christie Collins lives and writes in Louisiana where she teaches at LSU while working on a PhD at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Recently, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, Canyon Voices, and So to Speak.  Her chapbook, Along the Diminishing Stretch of Memory, is forthcoming from dancing girl press.