“Delightful Terrors!” by Ken Gosse

This year, at the annual Halloween Fest,
there’s a contest to vote for The Best of The Best:
the spiders and bugs crawl for Creepiest Creeper;
the Dark Siders point out the Reapiest Reaper;
the ladies (and men) bawl for Weepiest Weeper;
and cleaning crews know it gets deeper and deeper
while they do their best to take care of the rest.

Behind the scenes, places where most never go,
the painters and stagehands bring life to the show.
Decor makes decorum an unwelcome guest:
magicians hide secrets within a loose vest;
the carneys make sure their booth beats all the rest
and players hold cards very close to their chest
while the children run wild, ’cause tonight, there’s no “No!”

There’s candy galore for the girls and boys,
not to mention the gamut of five-and-dime toys.
Adults have fun, too: “Throw the ball—just hit one!”
“C’mon—try again! Gee, you’re having such fun!”
“A very close miss! One more hoop and you’ve won!”
“For only two tickets, I’ll reload your gun!”
And while losing, reliving their childhood joys.

The night lingers on till the full moon’s bright glow
drops beneath the horizon when goblins below
are collected by mothers and brothers and pops
once the crazy-mazed rides have all made their last stops
and the parking lots clear with the help of the cops
as you wander away ’fore your last eyelid drops
and you savor each flavor while homeward you go.




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 OffbeatPure SlushParodyHome Planet News OnlineEclectica, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years.

“dead girl rising” by John Wiley

sudden, she stands in her grave
eyes overflowing with grace,
awed by the power
in her angelic shoulders,
and instead of wings
two harps unfold from her back,
spread wide, reach high –
with one almighty stroke
she mounts the sky
with whistling speed,
sky after sky,
wind through strings
making deep music, arpeggios
bursting with every beat
of her rippling wings,
and she sings;

how she sings…

and, hard by earth,
we stand in respect

as this heavenly girl
fades from our sight,

listening as her last,
precious notes

drift slowly down
and away,

like dandelion seeds
blown for a wish.

 

 

John Wiley started as a ballet dancer and turned to poetry when his knees finally gave out for good.  His work has appeared in Terror House Magazine, grand little things, and The Writing Disorder among other publications.  He lives in a California beach town, teaches English online, and is the editor of Unpublishable Poetry, a new online magazine coming out soon.

“the weather prophet says it might get hot” by j.lewis

she doesn’t bother putting her head
out the window, or stepping onto the porch
just looks at the trees in the wind
the ones that are waving a wild hello
doesn’t check the temperature
or any online forecast, except to see
how hard the wind is blowing
in case she wants to kayak later
no, she simply says it might get hot
and just in case, she closes up the house
windows, shades, anything that might allow
a hint of warming sun to sneak inside
this is her summer routine since she moved here
this old house with no air conditioning
she keeps it shut by day, open at night
a never ending game, fueled by nothing more
than her own daily anxiety that it might,
just might, get hot



j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the complexity of human interactions, drawing inspiration from his experience in healthcare. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways and wildlife near his home in California.

“Hamartia Unbound” by Sterling Warner

Cassiopeia glares down at me
from the heavens
chained to a tortuous chair, reflecting
on her vanity
forlorn, constantly fanning herself
with a palm leaf,
longing to behold her beauteous face
in a pearl-handle mirror.

Cassiopeia now saturates night skies, a
silvery studded constellation
wheeling her throne like a stellar convalescent
about the Celestial North pole
spending half her time circling the globe upside-down,
sending blood to her head
the “earth-shaker’s” punishment befitting
disparaging sea nymphs.

Brooding Cepheus sits by Cassiopeia, as undeserving
among planets as humans,
guilty of offering Andromeda to Cetus, atonement for
the Queen Mother’s transgressions;
(what’s with comparing mother/daughter beauty to goddesses,
Nereids, and female water spirits?)
Husband and wife filicide co-conspirator’s fate merits
Medusa’s gaze—a stone not star eternity.




A Washington-based author, educator, and pushcart nominee, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in many international magazines, journals, and anthologies including the Scarlet Leaf Review, Street Lit: Representing the Urban Landscape, Visual Verse, Metamorphoses, BlogNostics and the Fib Review. His poetry and fiction collections include Rags & Feathers, Without Wheels, Edges, ShadowCat, and Memento Mori: A Chapbook Redux. His first fiction collection, Masques: Flash Fiction & Short Stories debuted in August 2020. Apart from washing hands, distancing, and wearing a face mask these days, Warner spends his time writing, wood working, and salmon fishing.

“In Homage to Lord Byron” by Kenneth Vincent Walker

“Mad, bad and dangerous”
Thy silvery tongue smooth,
His angelic countenance
Has now entered the room.

The ladies in waiting, they
Drop to the floor all whilst
The gentlemen are debating
On whom you’ve loved more.

A poet pristine, a catapulted
Commoner to aristocracy.
An overnight sensation, and
Sparkler amongst mediocrity.

An intensely passionate life
Without limits or constraints,
Tho rumors of depravity swirl
Amid insanity and complaints.

“Mad, bad and dangerous”
Thy silvery tongue smooth,
His angelic countenance
Has now exited the room.




Kenneth Vincent Walker is a “New Formalist” poet, spoken word artist, performer, and author of Borderline Absurd (An Exercise in Rhyme and Reason), published by Poem Sugar Press 2015. Kenneth also has two new books that are being published by Poem Sugar Press and Concrete Mist Press respectively, and are slated to be released by the end of the year.

“The Taigs of Jersey City” by Maurice O’Sullivan

When I was young, my neighbors thought
Most politicians could be bought.
The few exceptions to these rules
Were simply seen as naive fools.

So long as we had safe, clean streets
And lots of cops to walk our beats,
A little larceny was fine
And purging graft seemed asinine.

At least it seemed that way each fall
So long as we held City Hall.
But once those others won the votes
Our leaders sounded different notes.

Their politicians were all crooks,
Embezzling funds and cooking books,
A shocking lack of rectitude
(Especially to the new born prude).

Morality is flexible—
What’s right and wrong and ethical—
But tribal loyalty endures
Protecting me and mine from yours.




Maurice O’Sullivan, a former teamster, jail guard and pub owner, is an award-winning teacher, editor, columnist, and film maker who lives in Orlando, Florida. His most recent book, Have You Not Hard of Floryda, is a survey of 300 years of Florida’s colonial literature.

“Names” by Sathya Narayana

They’re names, mere graven names on hidden rooms.
They cannot breathe, can’t see, nor feel their skins.
They’re fluid letters on tombs, discharging spumes
of false compassion, over interred sins.
 
Suffixed were some by noble epithets.
Some names were brands and some synonymous
to crime. Some odd, some bad, some funny sobriquets;
some famed, some strange and few pseudonymous!
 
The warmth of palms touching the frozen stone
and myriad scents of vivid flowers placed
on tombs, those names, alas, can never own.
They’re wailing souls by worldly scents still laced.
 
They’re quiet in wait, under the weight of tombs;
frantic to gain fresh names through nascent wombs!
 
 
 
 
 
Sathya Narayana has been published in a number of print and web magazines, including The Society of Classical Poets, Westward Quarterly, Metverse Muse Journal, Poets International, Saptagiri, Rock Pebbles, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Better than Starbucks. She resides in India.

“Meadow Stalks” by Terence Culleton

They point away from where I’m jogging to
as I lean head down straight into the gale
as if against it. Just exactly who
I think I am, they seem to know, these frail
cat stalks and blades, cotton-pods, shreds
and tufts of which, kachooed across the path,
bank along neglected flower beds.
Pushing on in all this aftermath
of hot green afternoons that now survive
as memories of grass and sun and song
and everything unthinkingly alive,
this is my one way left of being strong
and I will argue it against the wind
in stride, and striving, and undisciplined.

 

 

Terence Culleton is a former Bucks County (PA) Poet Laureate, a 2019 Pushcart Prize nominee, and recipient of First Honorable Mention in the 2019 Helen Schaible International Traditional Sonnet ContestTerence has published two collections of formally crafted narrative and lyric poems, A Communion of Saints (2011) and Eternal Life (2015), both with Anaphora Literary PressPoems from his forthcoming collection of sonnets, A Tree and Gone (FutureCycle Press), have recently appeared in Antiphon, The Lyric, The Eclectic MuseInnisfree, The Road Not Taken (including Feature Poem), Blue Unicorn Review, and Raintown Review. 

“The Weight of Glory” by Stephen Kingsnorth

The crossroad, not spun golden sun,
unwelcome choice when others bathe,
reflected in the glitz and shine,
opaque this ruby, jewel of crown.
That glisten, spikes, where droplets fall,
hung iridescent rolling pearls,
orb sign tells claim, as kingdom ruled,
but gate to splendour, throne or tree?

This game of thrones, of monarchy,
the question posed, where glory lies,
under the heavy weight of state –
as nation, wealth – or sacrifice?
We wait to find willed testament,
inheritance of judgments made;
what revelations will we face,
reign auric son, resplendent, death?




Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 150 pieces published by online poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals and anthologies. https://poetrykingsnorth.wordpress.com/

“A Brief Epitaph” by Satyananda Sarangi

His days are done and nights have claimed his breath,
As crickets lull truncated lives to rest;
His fragile dreams now fled were never blessed
But may he find eternal life in death.

The flowers grow and wither year by year,
And thorny stalks then grace this ground in awe;
Whose deep endearment dare invite the thaw?
Where every bead of snow’s a frozen tear.

The gravestone reads, ‘The songs of heart will die,
The feelings come to mould, and love to dust;
A sole, unwilling sigh to bid goodbye
Can wreck my pleasant sleep beneath the crust.

If someone’s loss reminds him, words betray,
Unread his book of fame can’t add a page;
My dormant lines won’t ever let him stray,
And soothe the blows of fortune’s deadly rage.’

There lies his tombstone marred by disregard,
While dappled moonlight shines upon the bard.

 

 

Satyananda Sarangi is a young civil servant by profession. A graduate in electrical engineering from IGIT Sarang, his works have been featured in The Society of Classical Poets, Snakeskin, Page & Spine, Glass: Facets of Poetry, WestWard Quarterly, The GreenSilk Journal and elsewhere. Currently, he resides in Odisha, India.