“A Purple Cow, a Friendly Sow, a Hatter and His Wayward Plow” by Ken Gosse

The hatter seemed madder than even the cow;
“In a deep purple rage!” or so said the sow
who also believed that it didn’t much matter
if just one or two of the former or latter
were angry or crazy (perhaps both were both)
because, as a friend, the good sow was quite loath
to color their attitudes with quirky platitudes—
although the hatter’s bright color was such
that the sow became worried his heart pumped too much.

For them, all mercurious impacts seemed spurious;
“He’s no more crazy than yonder cow Daisy,”
but sometimes the porcine and her friend the bovine
were mad at the hatter because of the chatter
that most hats were felt, but some were of leather
(the best from a diet of clover and heather)
and pigskin’s used, too, for a fancier shoe
or for oblongish footballs where leather won’t do.

But now, sow and cow feared the hatter was mad
for they heard what he said to the cook, something bad
about cow become beef, and sow become bacon—
’twas time to diverge from the road they had taken
that led to the farm long before this alarm
offered either a care that they might come to harm,
so they knocked down a wall (which made neighbors mad, too)
and escaped from it all before anyone knew
that the fence which brought peace to their lovely green fen
would need neighborly neighbors to build it again.

It seems that the hatter adjusted to change
and soon found new friends (whom some folks thought were strange),
including a cat who would fade as he spoke
and a large pompous grub blowing thick hookah smoke,
but his favorite two friends were a rabbit and mouse
(and all three had a tea with a girl from the house
at the end of the garden—or was that its start—
but the rabbit was rushed and soon had to depart),
nonetheless, best of friends till their very last day
when the hatter was plowing and plans went agley.



Ken Gosse prefers writing short, rhymed verse with traditional meter, usually filled with whimsy and humor. First published in First Literary Review–East in November 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, Home Planet News Online, Eclectica, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years.

“Summit Negotiations” by Stephen Kingsnorth

At the cake bazaar,
annual in the village hall —
Mrs Baker’s acid voice —
I stall to scan those sweetmeat plates.

The granulated cog biscuits,
as if surfaced breeze-swept snow,
fawn-mellow, flat,
centre-nippled, cherry-topped;
the scarlet shine thieves the eye,
stirs amylase from frenulum
to a painful point.

Without word, a finger point
tells Busty Baker what I want.
Only one? threat by voice and more,
clear accusatory tone,
insult when a dozen more,
pique, that her mountain not
scaled for more.

But base camp built of my cookie choice —
the tawny tone hints more mature —
Sherpa Baker stares, ice-pick tongs,
a moment carabiner caught,
feathered felt now helmet,
crampons, impasse,
first to withdraw?

Though Baker’s pride, my will-battle wins,
crevasse spanned with frost-bite grace,
wool wrapped cleavage to the fore,
she crevices her finger nails,
palming the peak, protect
from avalanche, and
bitter-sweet presents, almost
on bended knee,
my ruby ring.




Stephen Kingsnorth, (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had pieces accepted by a dozen on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, Gold Dust, The Seventh Quarry, The Dawntreader, and Foxtrot Uniform. You can find more of his poetry at https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/.

“For My Grandmother, Her Husband Dead at 92” by Gaby Bedetti

Nonno’s portrait hangs above the sideboard.
No likeness of his helpmate is on display.
He presided at meals wearing his fedora.
You would play at swiping it off his head.
Before his death, you rolled the dough thin,
assured it would not break. You stood at table,
presented the pasta on his plate with care,
grated his preferred amount of Parmesan.
Today we sit in the shade along the house,
admire your roses, remember the fig tree.
You would coax him with the luscious fruit.
Later in a corner of the kitchen, darning socks,
you refuse to mention him, defying fate,
like Dido, your face Marpesian stone.



When she is not at Eastern Kentucky University, helping students write and produce plays, do stand-up, and edit their lit journal, Gaby Bedetti hikes, takes photos, and sings in a choir. Though Ringling is gone, she has stepped into Cirque du Soleil’s cabinet of curiosities and joined their Corteo parade. Recent poems have appeared in FrogpondAsses of ParnassusItalian Americana, and Still: The Journal. At present, she is co-translating Henri Meschonnic’s poems from the French.

“Dressing Up” by Lorraine Carey

I crept the three steps
to your room, which smelt
of musty aged breath
and butterfly panic.
Sandwiched between the glass
and a chink in the net curtains,
a Red Admiral, whose fluttering
mirrored my tiptoed approach.

I stumbled over slippers
to your jewelry box, fished out
pearls and the ruby ring that swam
off my finger and dropped back home
into knotty chains and clip-on earrings.
Brooches from another life
paid for, with dollars
to pin on collars of real fur.

Sparkles and hallmarks
piled up, a pyramid displaced
in this fisherman’s cottage.

You called me for lunch,
puffing upstairs, flapping by
in a flour cloud, your dentures clapping
a slow applause, making a tumble of your speech.
Waiting for the tart to cook as it bubbled under
with home grown apples, we sat impatient
as cinnamon, allspice, and cloves wafted in droves
from the little scullery.

You promised a tomorrow slice
as the Ford Orion arrived
early with your daughter,
to take me home.


A version of “Dressing Up” was previously published in The Honest Ulsterman (October 2015) and in From Doll House Windows.


Lorraine Carey is an Irish poet and artist. She is widely published in journals including Poetry Ireland Review, Orbis, Black Bough, The Honest Ulsterman, Willawaw, Prole, Smithereens, and on Poethead. Lorraine’s poems have been chosen for several anthologies. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her art and photography have featured in many journals. Her debut collection is From Doll House Windows (Revival Press).



“The Gospel of the Mist” by William Doreski

In my dream I devise a mist
that if breathed for one whole day
cures even the rudest cancer.
Celebrities flock to inhale it.
Poor folks stand in line for hours.
Local politicians endorse it.
The most famous cancers shrivel
into pellets the body excretes.
The more subtle tumors regress
with tiny cries of dismay
and die of their disappointment.

The mist doesn’t smell or taste
medicinal. It’s a tang of pine
mingled with an effervescence
of orange sherbet and bourbon.
Even people without cancer
like bathing in the spa I’ve built
to house my miracle cure.
It’s only a shack I constructed
of lumber from the local landfill,
but it keeps rain from diluting
the mist and chilling the patients.

Although this cure makes me famous,
I worry that the side effects
of inhaling such a pleasant taste
will leave people dissatisfied
with their fragile little lives
and encourage public suicide
with colorful methods and modes.
Still, I collect my modest fees
and hope that the miracle lasts,
the taste of the mist so gentle
it lingers like a French kiss
impressed by a wanton child.



William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent book is Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.

“At the Coffee Shop” by Michael Minassian

Last night, I stopped
at the local coffee shop;
you were sitting alone
writing poems in your journal
and muttering to yourself.
So I bought you a drink
and something to eat
before sitting at your table,
but you stood up
pouring your words
into my coffee cup,
leaving me the pumpkin scone
and crumbs of discarded rhymes.
Through the glass front door,
I saw you stumble once,
then turn and wave goodbye,
clutching your journal
to your chest as if it
were a small child,
or an unfinished
line at the end
of a poem.



Michael Minassian is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry: The Arboriculturist (2010); Chuncheon Journal (2019); and photography: Around the Bend (2017). For more information, visit: https://michaelminassian.com

“Fall Semester Career Test” by Katie Berger

The principal’s whisper was career tests,
sharp pencils and the perfect darkening
bubbles. There are no wrong answers
or astronauts among us. Brain surgeons
of the future can and should dream
of placing their hands on the warm
ticking insides of a Grand Am.

I thought of shoving pushpins into stolen autumn
eggplants. No one with a garden slept
in this town. The hospital on Halloween
offered to x-ray every last candy corn
for free, and no child escaped
without a vampire cape bandaged
in orange reflective tape.
We were all already
construction workers glowing
through a highway widening
project at sunset. I dulled
the pencils to scantron nothing
and waited for the answer.



Katie Berger holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama and lives in Nebraska. She is the author of Time Travel: Theory and Practice and Swans, both from Dancing Girl Press, as well as a number of poems, stories, and essays that have appeared or are forthcoming in Cherry Tree, Thimble, The Maynard, and others.

“Ancestry… for my mother” by Karen Shepherd

2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee
2020 Best of the Net Nominee

You seek roots belonging to separate limbs.
There will be no ocean mist on the windshield,
fir needles on the doormat. Undetectable will be the bounce
of curls over hopscotch squares, of a basketball on the driveway,
of words off patent leather shoes.
No early risings, no spitting out the wind, no made up songs
while spinning on the tire swing beside the lemon tree.
Kneeling in pews, walking through grassy hills towards zebra,
puckering at the taste of kumquats, pressing flowers in a dictionary…
none of that will be found.
Nor will it show the girl-turned-lover-turned-woman
who still can’t look at her own body in the mirror,
who startles when the earth vibrates,
who has many friends but no place to sit.
There will be no trace of how I lost my laugh on a savanna,
grew calluses under my hair, found stars drowned in a tea kettle.

I know what I will tell you when the results come back:
I’m part garden-fairy, part combustion, part chalk and incense.
I’m swallowed bone, borrowed pitchfork, water-logged paper.
And then I’ll hold your hand in mine, watch your eyes crease,
tell you that I’m mostly four-leaf clover with a splash of earl gray.
And that is what we both already knew.



Karen Shepherd lives in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys walking in forests and listening to the rain. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in various online and print journals including most recently Elephants Never, Neologism Poetry Journal, Cirque Journal, and Mojave Heart Review. Follow her at https://twitter.com/karkarneenee.

“Bodacious Words I Miss” by R. Gerry Fabian

In the days of door to door salesmen,
my grandmother would say,
“Here comes another charlatan.”

My fourth grade nun stressed,
“There will be no tomfoolery.”

I made the baseball team
because the coach said
I had spunk and moxie.

My father constantly referred to our neighbor
as a blithering idiot.

My mother cautioned me almost daily
to come right home from school and not
to gallivant around.

I wasn’t allowed to wear dungarees
to school under any circumstances.

In high school, I had the chutzpah
to take Mary Ann behind the gym bleachers
where we would buss
in between class changes.



R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor.  He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. He has published two books of poems, Parallels and Coming Out Of The Atlantic. His novels, Memphis Masquerade, Getting Lucky (The Story) and Seventh Sense are available at all ebook publishers including Amazon, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble. Gerry is currently working on his fourth novel, Ghost Girl, which is scheduled for publication in 2020. His web page is https://rgerryfabian.wordpress.com.

“walking home from autumn” by John Wiley

something about autumn
feels early —
late afternoon
seems like dawn,
a starting
instead of an ending,
a starting — at the end,

something is starting.
I step out my back door
into the ravishing transfiguration
of maples, oaks, birches,

arm into my jacket —

the late sun builds new power
into my old shoulders
until I could carry anything,
and I begin to walk —

through autumn’s dawn-seeming,
golden, late afternoon,
into the frosted, fog-white night
toward a shimmering morning
I will never see —

I’ll be home long before then.



John Wiley started out as a ballet dancer and turned to poetry (poetry being much easier on the body) when his knees gave out for good. His work has appeared in Terror House Magazine, Detritus, Outsider Poetry, and Montreal Writes among other journals.  He lives in a California beach town and works in his wife’s audiology practice.