Poverty of Songs by Lana Bella

we sang once, when all I could sense
was the rise and fall of a split second’s
warmth before you stitch sounds to
the cadence of my sudden shyness;
I stopped because you did not ask why
I sang along, and because in your mouth,
a spittle of my fragile skin tasted dark,
the same way inky welt of sky stroked
slick rain on a long piping summer; now
many months later, I sit as a young widow,
lost to the final bow in your passing’s tribute,
singing hymns too great for my voice; naked
and wedged back into a poverty of our songs—

A Pushcart nominee, Lana is an author of two chapbooks forthcoming from Crisis Chronicles Press and Finishing Line Press, has had her poetry and fiction featured with over 180 journals, Chiron Review, Coe Review, Columbia Journal, Elohi Gadugi, Foundling Review, Fourth & Sycamore, Galway Review, Gravel Review, Harbinger Asylum, Literary Orphans, Lost Coast Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poetry Quarterly, Roanoke Review, Sentinel Quarterly, and elsewhere, among others. She resides in the US and the coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam, where she is a mom of two far-too-clever-frolicsome imps. https://www.facebook.com/niaallanpoe
She writes: “For me, this art of writing poetry is like dipping my paintbrush in words and sketching impressions on a cerebral canvas of forever and one day

Emily as a Lock Painted Over by Darren Demaree

 Next to the kettle
I put down
where we normally

leave the mail
I saw a new red
covering the lock

I installed
the first week
we moved in

& as I struggled
to understand
what it meant

& what it could mean
to Emily & I,
she stood behind me,

getting really tired
of holding that full
bucket of paint.

poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, The Louisville Review, Diagram, and the Colorado Review. He is the author of “As We Refer To Our Bodies” (2013, 8th House), “Temporary Champions” (2014, Main Street Rag), “The Pony Governor” (2015, After the Pause Press), and “Not For Art Nor Prayer” (2015, 8th House).  He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology.He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

 He believes poetry matters because “it’s the only art form that forces your mind, heart, and soul to exist in an ecstatic state all at the same time.”

Lady Macbeth
by Terri Muuss

 On the graveyard of my
bed—a phantom life rises,
sinks and rises
again. I remember back—
the first bulge of belly and taut
swell of breasts. My scalp
burns. I pull at clumps
of hair. I am afraid
to touch pictures. Tiny
fingers extract capillaries.

Winter darkness comes
early—my mind wanders
the long corridor. Words
are cheap paper
plates. I throw them away.
My body—a quilt made
from scraps. I fixate on the angry
blood staining
my leg like wine.

Terri writes, “Personally, poetry matters because my fingers need the dance partner of pen or keyboard. Communally, poetry moves us from our personal cell block into the madness and meaning of this spinning axis. Poetry interprets and re-interepts the world again and again. It makes sense of what can not be made sense of. Poetry lets truth work us over in a back alley.


Creation Fragment by Kim Shuck

Because mosquitoes are part of a big
Spiders will trap them the
Wolf spider on my windowsill runs the walls she
Runs the walls for the sake of story the
Hummingbird makes her nest a
Nest for two eggs from
Spider silk and
Lichen she makes it in the
Bay tree this was a place of
Orchards and a creek ran there
Just there the plum tree is
Growing lichen growing

Kim Shuck is a long chain protein. She has authored four solo books of poems and prose. Shuck is also a visual artist, her beaded regalia is danced from Pimlico Sound to Mount Shasta during pow wow season. Her first book of poems Smuggling Cherokee won the Diane Decorah first book award in 2005. Her latest book is Clouds Running In from Taurean Horn Press.

Poems are ceremonies, incantations. They are a mouthful of idea, a palmful of observation or recognition or hope.

“Live On, My Love,” I Hear You Say By Kensi Riordan (HJR)

Beneath an ancient redwood tree that towered o’er a hill
An open grave with soil scent and barren ground lay still,
An old and tender man there stood, his sorrow rising yet
Leaned o’er the grave with tears out poured, and bitter, bitter wept.

Alas! he cried, Shall I now be the only one that speaks with thee?
Alone and weary in this world, Oh what shall now become of me?
With weary heart I take each step, and tremble as with cold.
I cannot go and cannot stay without you when I’m old!

Oh, my only love! Oh, my only life! Must now be when we part?
Hold there, my love, and soon shall see what yearning Death brings over me.

But though you left, and though you lie here in this cold, hard ground,
I love you still and still will live Alive and Well and Proud,

Do I hear you? Is this your voice come trembling through the ground?
Live on, my love, I hear you say, as if no death may drown,
Eternal love, O Grace divine, Have I a right to fear?
For still, and still, my love lives on, and I for you will live.

Kensi Riordan (HJR)  is a student and has been writing poetry for about ten years. She believes that poetry matters “because it is one of the two best mediums for transmitting thoughts, feelings, ideas, and beliefs. (The other best medium is music!)”