“Run Out of Love” by John Tustin

It has happened –
The days run together all the same
And I don’t know if I spoke to you
A day ago or a month.

I wait for you to contact me
And if you don’t
Then we just won’t ever speak again.

The sun coming into the room in the morning
Feels like the stormtroopers bursting in,
Turning drawers and cabinets upside down,
Shredding furniture, breaking windows,
Pouring the liquid from bottles onto the floor.

It has happened –
Even the memories of happiness
Have become so distant and obscure
That it feels as if the moments happened to someone else,
Or perhaps I watched them on television.

I stuff empty plastic bags into other plastic bags;
I am unaware when I am driving or walking alone.
I notice nothing and I am no one to anyone
As I wind down the hours waiting in line at the supermarket,
Waiting for checks to clear.

It has happened –
I’ve run out of love
Before I’ve run out of breath.

Waiting out the clock,
I close my eyes tonight and it feels like all the stars in the sky have vanished.

I’m afraid to open my eyes and go look.

John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals in the last twelve years. His website contains links to his published poetry online.

“Good God” by Emory D. Jones

(A Gloss based upon the following lines from
“Yet Do I Marvel” by Countee Cullen:
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die…

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And, led by His Holy Spirit, we will find
Blessed happiness, a soul of peace,
And in the middle of our strife release
From struggle and a joyful, peaceful mind—
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind.

And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The worm must come before the butterfly
Or human hearts, when softening, must break
And flood the eyes. But then how could he take
Notice of all the little hurts we cry
Unless He stoops to quibble and tell why?

The little buried mole continues blind
With little cares of what he leaves behind
Because within his world there are none who see
Or strive to rise out of the earth. But we
Still question Nature that would forever bind
The little buried mole to continue blind.

Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Invade the realm of mole, in earth to lie
While all above us continues as before,
Not knowing, until then, that death’s a door?
But then we understand God’s reason why,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die.

Dr. Emory D. Jones is a retired English teacher who has taught in high schools and various community colleges. He has four hundred and twenty credits including publication in such journals as Voices International, The White Rock Review, Free Xpressions Magazine, The Storyteller, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Gravel, Pasques Petals, The Pink Chameleon, and Encore: Journal of the NFSPS. He is retired and lives in Iuka, Mississippi, with his wife, Glenda. He has two daughters and four grandchildren.

“She Held the Rainbow” by Abha Das Sarma

(in memory of my mother)

The cushion had faded nursing the chair
By the dresser, a place I envied much
Where she would sit, my mother,
Hair entwined, dripping, searching through
The multitude of reflections as I wondered behind
If she wished what could not be or what was yet to come.

She was beautiful then and everything else I would dream.

Threading the beads, holding the thread in between
Her fingers delicate and rich from the perfume of ‘sindur
And the lip gloss rarely used.”
It will probably be a cloudy day,” she would say
Pulling herself, walking and settling on to her favorite bed,
Looking into the yard, wet wild shrubs, guavas and marigolds,
Sewing small silks for the Gods studded with beads and mysticism.

A blank staircase solemnly watching, imagining children play.

As I returned to find the box of beads for the last time,
The dresser by now cobwebbed heavily and the yard
A haven of overgrown grass,
Her pricked fingers caressed my hair, parting them in thick lines,
Holding the ends of the string threaded with beads, still
She held the rainbow of life.

Abha Das Sarma, an engineer and management consultant by profession, has a blog of over 200 poems (http://dassarmafamily.blogspot.com). Her poems have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, The Ekphrastic Review, here and elsewhere. Having spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, currently she lives in Bangalore.

“Hopper’s Dories” by Donald Wheelock

—after Edward Hopper’s The Dories, Ogunquit, 1914 (public domain)
Whitney Museum of American Art

Attentive to the forces of the tide,
they point up into open ocean breeze
like hungry pets anticipating food.
They feel the breeze enliven what they see.
A distant shore encloses open sea.

A view of coast as crisp and deep as life
itself, before the smudges of mankind
applied a slick to every shore and reef;
even the clouds are swept clean by the wind.

Feathery skies of sun-made summer choose
a clear-eyed, optimistic morning view
to paint the cove profusions of its blues.

The froth of distant ocean surf and light
explodes into the dory-sides as white.

Donald Wheelock spent forty years writing formal poetry before reaching the stage of submitting his favorites for publication. Formal poetry, once relegated to second fiddle in a career of writing chamber, vocal and orchestral music, has now demanded equal time. Indeed, it has taken over his life. He has published a chapbook, In the Sea of Dreams, with Gallery of Readers Press, and placed poems in Blue UnicornEkphrasis, EquinoxLinea, The Lyric, and elsewhere. He is trying to place two full-length books of his poems. He lives with his wife Anne in an old house at the edge of a hayfield in Whately, Massachusetts.

“Walking the Dog” by W. Roger Carlisle

I am sitting with my dog on a faux antique bench
at the mall. Walking has been my salvation,
medication, and saving grace
for the last 12 years since I retired.
Movement is life.

Over the last 12 years most of the stores
have closed; the families and children
have been replaced by older retirees walking their dogs.
The dogs and people have gotten smaller. I should be taking
a new drug for depression.

No forethought of pity, blame or guilt,
my dog’s otherness centers my life; she is my walking mirror.
She sees my mind, my heart, my blindness
as I stumble through the endless stories I tell myself.

Here’s the thing, these dogs evolved from wolves but have more feeling
than humans. It’s no longer the hunt or protection that connects us.
I have evolved into a potty-trained parent
gathering up poop in my plastic doggy bag, clinging
to the only one protecting me from loneliness, before
returning home to my empty apartment.

Anyway, my dog seems to discover the world through her nose.
Does she miss smelling the pine trees, the flowers,
the honeysuckle, the grasses and freshness in the wind?
She seems excited despite the absence of squirrels, rabbits,
and chipmunks to chase. Does she miss running free without a leash?

I shiver slightly looking up; at the steel
and glass atrium; all is quiet except for
the occasional echo of a barking dog.
The hardness and the brightness of the glass give
far-reaching views of parking lots, apartments and suburbia.

It is all a reminder of the fear and pain
of not being young; that youth can never come again,
it is for undiminished others somewhere else.

Protect me God, from the pretense that I am searching for.
My dog knows how to be a dog, but
I am lost by choice and all the evidence suggests
I am wallowing in it.

W Roger Carlisle is a 74-year-old, semi-retired physician. He currently volunteers and works in a free medical clinic for patients living in poverty. He grew up in Oklahoma and was a history major in college. He has been writing poetry for 10 years. He is currently on a journey of returning home to better understand himself through poetry. He hopes he is becoming more humble in the process.

“We’re Cats’ Welcome Mats” by Ken Gosse

A tribute to domestic cats
who drive us crazier than bats
while deftly they bemuse our views
and weave us into welcome mats.

Kittenhood is just a ruse,
a time pre-cats use to confuse
while they beguile with every wile
the natty mats they’ll soon abuse.

In deft, alluring feline style
their large, round eyes entice our smile,
a ruse in their campaign to feign
they haven’t eaten for a while.

“Feed me!” echoes their refrain,
entreaties which are not in vain
for we’ll concede and feed the lot;
their appetites our pet-peeve’s bane.

Dogs are people—cats are not.
A leopard will not change one spot
nor lion trim the vim of mane
advancing their dominion’s plot.

This ensures we’ll act inane
at playtime and we won’t abstain
nor pause the claws with which they style
each tat of ownership’s red stain.

But once we’ve passed their kitten trial
by proving that we’ll spew no bile
and won’t unloose their tightened noose,
a cat may walk us down the aisle.

Many find this quite abstruse—
subdued compliance with abuse.
So coy, they toy with us like rats
and yet, we’ll kiss our cat’s caboose.

That’s how it is—these furry brats
take pleasure winning our combats.
We’re bling, a string-like Gordian knot
which they drop on our welcome mats.

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.

“A Mother’s Eyes” by Susan Jarvis Bryant

She burns to bear his burden (take the weight)
But he is far beyond her guiding reach.
Beyond her soothing arms, he meets his fate.
Her heavy heart has nothing left to teach…

For these are not his first steps; they’re his last.
His skin (once kissed and dressed by her) is flayed.
His gouged and bloodied flesh leaves her aghast.
If only they’d embraced his word and prayed.

Bright eyes that mirrored smiles of her raw joy
Now brim with woe for those whose ways aren’t true.
Her soul, it holds the message of her boy–
Forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Her feet, nailed to the spot (instincts denied)

Consumed by pain, she watches… c r u c i f i e d.

first published by The Society of Classical Poets

Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas. Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On LineThe Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

“Pole Barn Song” by David Capps

What is love but the desire for unity,
flame that seeks surrounding air
pulled by wind changing form,
which softly lays the oak trees bare

one evening whispered to my ear,
as I was no one in particular, and it
was looking for a mirror, this desire
for unity, the desire to be as one is,

robins sing and take up straw, fly
from perch to perch, not held to limb
or altar, at home in high rafters,
their nests we hear but cannot see.

Still others know but cannot sense,
as when a smile freely given, feathers
ruffled, falls with wing’s growth minus
sounds of machining, the lathe, filings,

outdoors the disparate harmonies
of wind chimes, as if each tone wants
to be the tone that it is, warm birdsong
to ring out despite machining, throat

and belt sputtering chirp in winter
which bring back this same question
to memory: what is love but the desire
for unity?

Impossible, if you are you and I am I.
We place a mattress on the cold cement
as the fledglings dive and fly, and to ask
the reason for it, is like asking why

love desires unity: one thought too many.

David Capps is a philosophy professor at Western Connecticut State University. He is the author of three chapbooks: Poems from the First Voyage (The Nasiona Press, 2019), A Non-Grecian Non-Urn (Yavanika Press, 2019), and Colossi (Kelsay Books, 2020). His manuscript, Drawn in Evening Light, was a finalist for the 2020 Gasher first book scholarship. He lives in New Haven, CT.

Two Poems by Russel G. Winick


Successful folks may sadly see
Some people who transparently
Imbued with woebegone regret
And caustic bitterness beset,
So jealous of your avenue,
Project their misery on you.
Such pain your fault as they construe it,
With no inkling that they do it.

The Smiling Man

Though you always see him cheerful
Spreading humor far and wide,
From that vantage point may you conclude
He has no other side?

While the smiles are so ubiquitous
The laughter unrestrained,
Can you say what dominates his soul–
Felicity or pain?

Russel G. Winick recently began writing poetry at nearly age 65, after concluding a long career as an attorney.  Langston Hughes’ work is his primary inspiration. Several dozen of Mr. Winick’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in over a dozen online and print venues.

“The City on the Other Side of the Hill” by Ann Christine Tabaka

We climbed the hill together.
We came down one at a time.

The city was on the other side
just beyond our reach.

Are we so different now,
than what we were before?

Or has the city grown too large
to keep us on our path?

Now we wonder the lonely highways
searching for who we were,
           who we are.

The trails have split,
and become overgrown
with tall and rambling weeds of doubt.

Seedy motels are calling
to the rambler in our hearts.

The hill is razed to ashes
that still smolder in the night,

as we watch the glow fade
into the sunset of our lives.

Ann Christine Tabaka, a native of Delaware, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017. She won Spillwords Press’s 2020 Publication of the Year, and her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020,” published by Sweetycat Press. Chris has been internationally published and has won poetry awards from numerous publications. Her work has been translated into Sequoyah-Cherokee Syllabics and into Spanish. She is the author of 13 poetry books. Her most recent credits are: The American Writers Review; The PhoenixBurningword Literary Journal; Muddy River Poetry Review; The Scribe, The Silver Blade, Silver Birch Press, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Foliate Oak Review, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore. Chris lives with her husband and four cats and loves gardening and cooking.