“Spaniel” by Allan Lake

There’d be someone lickable
to walk with, talk with along
life’s urine-sprinkled path,
someone to hold and protect me,
nuzzle and say,
You are the one, Honey.

I’d snooze on your bed, smelly
with love. You’d feed, pet, treat
and bathe me so I’d fetch your
tennis ball to make you happy,
lay it gently at your fragrant feet.
We’d be so into each other
if only I were a woof
and you weren’t so aloof.

Allan Lake, originally from Saskatchewan, has lived in Vancouver, Cape Breton I., Ibiza, Tasmania, and Melbourne. His first poetry collection was Sand in the Sole (Xlibris, 2014). Lake won Lost Tower Publications (UK) Comp 2017, Melbourne Spoken Word Poetry Fest 2018, and has been published in New Philosopher. His chapbook, My Photos of Sicily, was published by Ginninderra Press, 2020.

“Lorna” by Patrick Key

I liked how she reminded me of plastic
tablecloths, yellow stained ceilings, and
all-purpose flour. She was smiling, romantic.
In the moonlight with me, resting on the land.
Drinking in the shine distilled illegally.
The path of darkness ended and turned into the heat.
Her warmth gave me hope, because secretly
I saw the bloodstains. Heard her bleat.
There were no footsteps leading to the wood.
I hope. Unlike others before her time.
Wedding bells soon chimed. “I could
wear pastel pink.” I wanted it to be mine,
but such a hue was lost to all of those years.
Memory beckons, even when I blink away the tears.

Patrick Key started writing seriously later in life, thanks to the help of a poetry class during his undergraduate years. His works have appeared in Wine Cellar Press, The Daily Drunk, The Amethyst Review, among others. He is also the founding editor of Grand Little Things. More can be found at https://patrickkeywriter.com/

“Paint” by Jessica Renee Dawson

He baptizes His brush
within warm cadmium yellow
a touch of alizarin crimson
painting a sunset across my sky
my skin
as timber, bare of bark
all who walk by the waters
touch my silhouette
He plunges into phthalo blue
ultramarine, and a spot of white
the colour of my eyes
clouds, moving across a vast expanse
the autumn fields
sway with yellow ochre
His bristles
touch each head of grain
and clothe my crown
with fields of golden wheat
shading with burnt umber
though my hands are Naples yellow
my wood knotted, leaves fallen
he touches my sullen lips with red earth
parched branches,
an extension of my beauty
for those who walk by
to see what would have been breathed,
beheld, lived
had my bark not shed
my leaves not fallen

first appeared in Poetry Quarterly

Jessica Renee Dawson, lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She has taken creative writing through North Island College, and has studied under notable poets, Lynne Knight, and Jan Zwicky. Dawson’s works have appeared in journals including: Poetry Quarterly, INK IN THIRDS, The Tulane Review, Wild Plum, and NonBinary Review.

“The morning after death” by Jeanette Willert

           The sweeping up the heart,
           And putting love away
           We shall not want to use again
           Until eternity.

                —Emily Dickinson

You wonder, don’t you, why the sun rises
yet again, when your world is upside-down?
Yes, there was a “bustle In the house” this morning,
and death did come calling some hours before.

But, as to the “bustle”, vital to
placing us, the living, back into the natural
flow. Natural as in… nature, human nature,
the nature of life from birth to death:
nature as in day and night, the turn
of seasons, the certainty of stars.

We “bustle” not in denial, but affirmation,
not in disrespect but affiliation.
We, too, will be dead, but in the future…
but certainly dead as our forebears,
their stories now dead with them.

The earth goes on, morning bursts
beyond the stand of pines across the lake,
and evening descends like a filmy drape
over those same pliant pines.

Last night, a full moon cast light
across the lake, like a lady
laying a long white glove
atop a glass table.

I think of you;
I think of tomorrow.
I think of when no one
will remember us
and that must be okay.

Jeanette Willert was an Associate Professor of English Education at Canisius College and Director of the Western New York Writing Project. A recent Vice-President of the Alabama State Poetry Society, she was honored as their 2018 Poet of the Year. Her chapbook Appalachia, Amour won the Morris Chapbook Award (2017), Her poems have appeared in Goat’s MilkWINK, Libretto, Crosswinds Poetry Journal and the 2020 Anthology of Appalachian Writers. Her first poetry book will be published by Negative Capability Press this year.

“Rise and Fall” by Stephen Kingsnorth

Where she bustled, cleaned where cramped,
now covers, not her dusters lift,
in rise and fall, not frisk but slow,
just as slight rasp within her throat.
The rumble snore, heard, nightmare woke,
has given way to lip-drawn gums
and blister tongue, no longer talk.

Though morning star is glowing now
and blushing sky turns indigo,
the tears, which gutter wax have cried,
are globuled marble, beehive gold;
what sense remains, light pheromones.
Though candle stick, sea craters wane,
I hear what passes for the rain,
not patter, drum or timpani,
but sluggish roll, reluctant, pane,
the dribble afterthought refrain,
meniscus holding back, again.

This musty fug in nostril, mouth,
uncertain mix of taste and smell,
both pillow damp, shroud counterpane,
the nit, the gnat, mosquito net,
a threnody from filmy lace,
all wing and mesh and hanging legs;
they flitter past my sweaty lobe.
How can this squadron fill the space?

Awhile we wait, so tired yet wake;
it was more often her, this place.
But now she’s worn and soon at rest,
here listening to my mother lie.

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had over 180 pieces published by on-line poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals and anthologies.


“Annie” by Robert Nisbet

It seemed in winter that farm girl Annie
was lying fallow. In school she was a quiet
nobody-much, content enough maybe,
but in spring and summer, woof.

“Annie’s in bloom again”, we’d think,
and she’d be barnstorming. She’d flirt,
she’d backchat, sing and yodel in the gym,
whistle in the physics lab. We laughed,
she laughed, and when Annie laughed,
it was a thing of gales and stitches.

Later, I went out with Annie, one November.
She was a gentle girl, good company.
Chastely, we kissed. G’night. G’night.

But Hicksy once, in August, went with Annie
on a day trip to Tenby. Came back teetering.
She’d nearly had his trousers off him on the bus,
he told me. (But just allow a little there
for Hicksy’s storytelling instincts).

But then when I’d meet her, in later years,
in the agricultural shows and markets,
winter and summer, our Annie seemed
to have somehow evened out. She’d be
selling country produce, honey, jams,
her selling line a pretty effervescence,
pattering, chattering, shooting the breeze.

Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet who has been published widely in Britain and the USA, where he has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

“The Birdman” by Brian Yapko

The morning’s hatch? A meager price to pay.
I earn my catch, drone my noon-songs, pray
To all the lares and penates on my back.
I lift my eyelids open but a crack
And pile my daily duties in a stack.
These I perform with duly reasoned thought.
(Once I saw a hawk and sparrow caught
And kept until each met its time to die)
I leave the cluttered desk, I float. I fly
Enraptured with the spirit of the sky.
      But whose voice calls me back? What altar burns?
      What pressing work awaits? Whose planet turns?
      And the dial, the dial crosses me. Aflight
      I dread the day should e’er be spread with night.

Annunciation of the dark. My flight
Is done. I disconnect the yellow light
And leave for home to force my evening meal.
I toll and chant each vesper as I kneel
Before the lares. Why don’t they hear and feel
What I am suffering? Am I? Am I alone?
Is there time to live? Can a person turn to stone
In just a day, a month, a year? I read.
I pray the night consume my thoughts of human need.
(And if… if I fly… is that not also greed?)
      I am being called back. No altars burn.
      But my work awaits as darkening planets turn.
      And still that damned dial crosses me. Tonight
      I dread that I should e’er again take flight.

Brian Yapko practices law and writes poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Grand Little Things, Society of Classical Poets, Poetica, Chained Muse, Garfield Lake Review, Tempered Runes Press and as a first-prize contest winner in The Abstract Elephant. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

“Speculation of the Partially-Frozen” by Shannon Cuthbert

Skate over the lake at the strike of midnight
It leads to my doorstep
My many-windowed house
Snowbound and pale as a winter rose
Through the glass I watch you like a fish
Unpeel yourself layer by layer 
Until you make of yourself only a figment
By this fire, this stone
This heated wall between us
You are thawing jaw by brow
Tooth to tail without your fur coat 
A sloppy mess on my swept floor
A wolf without the clothes 
To hide yourself, a story of arrogance
Affliction and resolution
Inscribed here in the moon’s own hand

Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcarts, and have appeared in several publications, including: Plum Tree Tavern, Bangor Literary Review, and The Oddville Press. Her work is forthcoming in The Metaworker, Big Windows Review, and EcoTheo Review, among other literary venues.

“In Residence” by Jane Blanchard

A challenge of dividing time between
two homes arises in the middle of
the night. One wakes up questioning the scene
of somnolence. Is there a fan above
the bed? How heavy are the covers on
the body? Answers indicate the floor
plan one must walk to reach the nearest john
while not relying on night vision more
than absolutely necessary. (Eyes
once open rarely want to close again
for hours.) With luck, one’s better half just sighs,
turns over, goes right back to sleep. A win
comes when one’s self succumbs to slumber and
some sprightly man begins to sprinkle sand.

Jane Blanchard lives and writes in Georgia (USA).  Her work has recently appeared in The Asses of ParnassusThe Ekphrastic ReviewThe North American Anglican, and The Spectator.  Her latest collection with Kelsay Books is In or Out of Season (2020).

“The Coincidence in Numbers” by L. B. Sedlacek

The digital

coincidence or

by the

wind, the
on days

are the

a baby’s


keep on

up, the

seeking the


L. B. Sedlacek has had poetry and fiction appear in different journals and zines.  Her first short story collection came out on Leap Day 2020 entitled Four Thieves of Vinegar published by Alien Buddha Press.  Her latest poetry books are The Poet Next Door (Cyberwit), The Adventures of Stick People on Cars (Alien Buddha Press), The Architect of French Fries (Presa Press), and Words and Bones (Finishing Line Press).  She is a former Poetry Editor for ESC! Magazine and co-hosted the podcast Coffee House to Go. L. B. also enjoys swimming, reading, and playing ukulele.