by Diana Raab
Tonight I think of how death
teaches us how to live--
crocheted in beloved family mortalities
nestled in screams cupped by answers
to live by, encased with mirrors
as reminders to enjoy simple pleasures.
Or maybe it’s that Buddhist textbook
with earmarked pages perched
on my bedside table
which describes our powers
of living by beginning in present moment--
gears fixed in slow motion,
like time spent time brushing our teeth,
watering flowers, walking our gardens
or meandering meditations in local parks.
Or maybe it’s those dead philosophers
like Socrates who profess that death
has no place in our lives.
Maybe I feel this way because
my many friends died last year,
and memories of mother in oblivion
in intensive care after multiple tumbles
from her aged horse’s back,
as she approaches ninety. Is this nature’s song
and a reminder to forge ahead
dwell in the moment
and make the best of each day?
Maybe my prayer will be answered
or maybe tonight I will slip into sleep
and not wake up or feel satisfaction
because I knew how to smell flowers
and water my internal garden,
and give myself permission to live.
Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and author of 10 books and is a contributor to numerous journals and anthologies. Her two latest books are, "Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life," and "Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal."
by Jeremy Szuder
The gentle velvet click of beetle bones
and joints rubbing notes of stairway melodies
into a spiral of upwards waltzing,
it begins when the fingerprint transfers
itself onto a pane of cold glass.
The warm flesh is mentioned
so casually as a dot is round,
because it is the vessel of
all brilliant dancers,
even when they have folded
their lanky wings and even when nature
strains to mock the pressing tender foot,
that foot dreaming of becoming
a cat's paw or a falcon's beak.
I thirst in a silent swell,
my skull encased in a pillowed ocean
of ballet flats and the ankle weights pulling
sparrow bodies down into pools
beneath the well worn floorboards of
To rise again with great passion,
this artistry takes hostage the hearts
of babes who’ve assigned their souls
to the care and possession of a madness
that will never fully pass.
It is an avalanche of ivory keys and
sent razor sharp to cut through
the thickness of the summer
Jeremy Szuder (he/him) lives in a tiny apartment with his wife, two children and two cats. He works in the evenings in a very busy restaurant, standing behind a stove, a grill, fryers and heating lamps, happily listening to hours of hand selected music and conjuring ideas for new art and poetry in his head. When his working day ends and he enters his home, he likes to sit down with a glass of wine and record all the various words and images that bear fruit within his mind.
by Ace Boggess
Twist knob, enhance volume. Percussion vibrates.
Here come the lead riffs--soulful, jazzy.
The singer, he’s been there, felt what I have.
Today is an excuse for music, as if I needed one,
as if joy, too, couldn’t entice a song.
Misery begs grooves for empathy.
Something from the 1990s.
Something off-kilter & angry with its dancing feet,
my dancing feet, feet that never learned a two-step
as they lived it:
forward, back, forward, back, release.
Ace Boggess is author of six books of poetry, most recently Escape Envy (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2021). His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, and other journals. An ex-con, he lives in Charleston, West Virginia, where he writes and tries to stay out of trouble.
by Grace Hu
a man with stars in his hair
and incandescent eyes
shuffles past me in the winter,
pulling his boots up from the snow
as he offers me his wares
a penny for a promise,
a dime for a dream,
a quarter for a question,
a dollar for a scheme
two for some more,
pay three for four,
the secrets of the
meaning of this world
says he sells fantasies, every last one
of the broken paths and forgotten pledges,
dreams that died and
wishes that never came true
and he sells them by the bottle,
charging a little bit of lifeblood
for every dose, so we give
our years for better ones,
exchanging a breath to roll
the thousand-sided die so we may
land on our feet one day
fingers scraped raw, shaking
from the bitter winter and coarse wind,
i wait as he pours stars
into my palms that
burn my skin and leave
nothing but reddening blisters
to bloom like rhododendrons
against the white snow
laughs, says he screams ghosts
into our ears and calls them songs,
wraps them around
our feverish minds to remind us of
these winter days,
to entomb the frost creeping
into our bones,
to suffocate flesh in
seeping delirium so that we may
laugh as we lie with steel
in our necks and silver in our hands
of our creation, wraiths of smoke
that surround us all our days.
we inhale the bitter scent of the
ambrosian dream of yesteryear
to see its gilded colours fade
when we close our eyes at last;
we carry it with us, even as our
fingers bleed and our skin cracks
and what is left of divine image
crumbles into carnal frenzy
says he sees himself in me, once with
chapped lips on a pale face,
yearning to shatter and swallow
another vial of fatal illusion so that
i may be magnificent again,
drunk on grandeur,
intoxicated with the sight of
unforged paths and
and i ask him for a little more
because i wither as
the delusion of reality takes hold
and rips me from destiny.
my knees buckle and my eyes water
and i crawl towards the wooden cart
to beg for a little bit more,
just one more dose
although my pockets are as empty as my
but he only laughs and ambles away,
leaving a trail of glass shards and
half-broken reveries in his wake
they capture us by
drinking us dry,
they feed us, they reap us,
they bend us, they break us
they destroy us
when they sell us fantasies,
and we buy every single one of them
until we have nothing left.
Storytelling is a powerful force changing the world, and Grace Hu indulges in it through writing epic fantasy novels, poetry, playing piano, composing, or weaving narratives into her speeches and essays. For inspiration, she immerses herself in world history, linguistics, philosophy, politics, and current events. And, of course, video games.
by DS Maolalai
gust me. be a
hell–be a tornado.
tonight I am tired
of houses standing
and the aching joints
of temperate weather.
take a turn
on the equator,
down on seabirds wings
and boats lost in storms
which turn like pages.
villages wiped out
in swampy regions
and low land.
DS Maolalai has been nominated nine times for Best of the Net and seven for the Pushcart Prize. He has released two collections, "Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden" (Encircle Press, 2016) and "Sad Havoc Among the Birds" (Turas Press, 2019). His third, "Noble Rot" will be published April 2022.
by Morgan Boyer
Headset strapped to my left sided cheek
a sound alerted me like a shepherd's whistle.
Einkorn wheat fields coast through the audio
the static plucked kernels flinging at
the edges of each spoken sentence
like Demeter, she was tied to sewn soil
as the harvest was about to begin;
the scythe of labor was imminent.
Connect her to the midwife, the farmhand
who shall yank the root from stem
that will then wither in worries of motherhood.
Then grind the kernels it bore,
combine with water, bake
until it disappoints us all.
Morgan Boyer (she/her) is the author of The Serotonin Cradle (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and a graduate of Carlow University. Boyer has been featured in Kallisto Gaia Press, Thirty West Publishing House, Oyez Review, Pennsylvania English, and Voices from the Attic. Boyer is a neurodivergent bisexual woman who resides in Pittsburgh, PA.
by Nicole Yin
The blonde haired girl’s eyes remind me of the sky
Big, blue, bright one second, then
the next, it has started raining
The smile that could once rival the sun
disappearing behind the storm
The brown haired boy’s eyes remind of the forest
His hair, embodies it
He reminds me of a tall oak tree
sturdy and strong yet standing alone
The black haired girl’s eyes remind me of brownies
Her skin, of chocolate.
Her arms like rolling pins
She reminds me of hazelnuts
sweet on the outside,
but secretly bitter
The red haired boy’s eyes remind me of Mercury
If I were to draw a line through all his freckles,
I wouldn’t need to go stargazing anymore
The pink haired girl’s eye’s remind me of an empty void
Even though all the colors of the rainbow shines in her eyes,
her gaze is more dull than the stub of a crayon
she insists on carrying around.
Nicole Yin is a grade nine student at an international school Shanghai. She is an artist and spends much of her time drawing portraits. Her poetry is about the people and events she encounters in her daily life, making portraits in words.
by Maggie Yang
i find myself wandering
in these endless shelves of time,
of syntheses, phrases, flexuous pieces of history, of
aromas of realms jammed between pages,
leaking and yellowed age, carrying merely
just sinuous lines
syllables of letters ricochet off wood, encase
these pages in swirls of time, trapped
between fibres that preserve
craft a new world, delve in each turn
the strange wistfulness
of used bookstores
Maggie Yang loves reading and writing poetry and dreams of visiting every museum and historical site in the world. She is particularly intrigued by the intersections of creative writing with different forms of visual art. You can find her admiring the beauty in nature or competing in ultimate frisbee in Canada.
by Marianne Brems
A river’s insistent movement
like a constant changing of garments.
The perimeters of rocks
join the flow
that smooths their edges.
fills hollow places
among raw protrusions.
Cattails and branches decay.
Beavers build dams.
Aspen roots cleanse.
Ospreys and grebes hunt.
Frogs and trout spawn.
All lay down their footprint
in a stew
of birth, transformation, and death,
leaving a community
between no longer and yet.
Marianne Brems’ two poetry chapbooks are Sliver of Change (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and Unsung Offerings (Finishing Line Press, 2021). Her poems have also appeared in literary journals including The Pangolin Review, Nightingale & Sparrow, The Sunlight Press, and The Tiny Seed Literary Journal. She lives and cycles in Northern California. Website: www.mariannebrems.com.
by Antony Owen
Above the crimes
a pylon can redeem us
through birdsong necklaces
tied around the slit throat dusk.
Above the white world
night can wind a tannoy of wolves
even in the city their lights can be seen
one wove between cars in Toronto like a silver ribbon.
Above the new man born a girl
everything is changing in the sky
Covid has cleaned the Boeing traces of man
a flock of geese breaks formation for a Walmart drone.
Below all this is me and you
at night I hang my skins over the ottoman,
turn into a blur when I am creature like and loving.
Sometimes but less so now our shapes converge into one.
Antony Owen is from Coventry. England and is the author of eight poetry collections with a motif for peace poetry. His work has been shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award and he has been a recipient of poetry awards from The British Army Museum, Bread Roses Working Class Poetry Award and others. With work translated in several languages Owen's transcendence of representing overlooked people has received rave reviews. In 2022 Knives Forks & Spoons Press release his 9th book exploring mental health in men which account for 75% of suicides in the UK.