“Portrait of the Small-Town Pharmacy and Gift” by Camille Lebel

Brass bells clanging against glass
broadcast entry into the corner store 
here crisp, humming air freezes the sweat
sliding down, alongside Elvis sideburns
or pooling above full lips before journeying
into the abyss between sagging breasts.
Melting humans solidify like extinguished candles. 

The glare of too-bright lights reflects
Tylenol red, Pepto pink, Mylanta green.
The once cream rug cushions thick-soled
work boots coated in thicker mud alongside
sharp prick of cheap stilettos, 
sturdy pressure of practical loafers, and
in rare, glorious moments, plump naked
feet of a toddler refusing constraint. 

Acidic lemon disinfectant combats
grease and onions from lunch, hanging
stubborn in the air. Lingering choke of
cigarettes crushed on asphalt and distinctive
cologne of bodies baking in summer heat
wrestle with lavender oil and turtle fudge. 

A skidding swipe of scissors
curls ribbon for get-well wishes while
grandmothers cluck and compare chicks.
Balloons destined for birthday thrills fill–
a hissing zip of chemical-lightened air 
smacking orange latex. 
Whispers of high-society snafus mingle
with sighs over insurance premiums and
the soft tinkle-hum of windchimes asks
“May I help you? How are you? Come again.”

Above it all, in his countered kingdom
the pharmacist sits on his stool.
Listening, lips pushed into a half smile, 
he flicks his angled spatula, ping-ting scraping
the rainbow of orbs, spheres, capsules, 
bullets into their bottles, 
managing the masses for one more day. 




Camille Lebel, mother to seven, lives on a small farm outside Memphis, TN. She has published poetry in Inkwell and Hyperbole. She enjoys horse whispering, vermicomposting, and singing to her chickens. She most often writes poetry on the Notes app on her phone while waiting in the school pickup line.

“Ode to Mrs. Miller” by Nolo Segundo

I did not know how brave she was—
Ninety-two and I, seventy less,
So young that old age
Was textbook stuff:
A fact of life,
But not mine.

I was alive and free
To stride the world,
A colossus of youth—
Whereas she had ate
Almost a century.
And all her friends
And all her family
Lay dead somewhere—
Except in her mind,
Still crisp, poignant
In its memories
Of a wealthy husband,
A daughter dead young.
Her own youth and beauty
Remaining lonely in a
Silver-framed photo.

She never complained,
This old lady—
Never once did I hear
Lamentations, a bewailing
For the richness of life:
The ripe fullness she once felt
As a wife, a mother, a woman
Of grace and beauty.

She lived alone
In a basement flat,
Barely five feet tall—
Yet I’ve never known
Any being braver—
Yet it is only now,
When I am become old,
I envy such courage.




Nolo Segundo, pen name of retired teacher L. J. Carber, 74, became a published poet in his 8th decade with work in 47 online / in print literary magazines in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Portugal, Romania, and India; in 2020, a trade publisher released a book-length collection titled The Enormity Of Existence, and in 2021, a second book titled Of Ether And Earth. His themes are the not so brave new world of aging; that inscrutable mystery we trivialize as ‘love’; and the awareness he’s had for 50 years since having an NDE [near-death experience] while almost drowning in a Vermont river that he is sharing a long dream with a myriad of other dreamers, and that he has probably dreamt such dreams many times before.

Two Poems by Diane Thiel

Love-spinning

Our grandmothers, and theirs, if they knew
of this chance crossing, they’d be spinning too.

They’d wind our names together on their distaffs,
divining children we would never have

unless they spun, knowing our lives would turn
along the woof and warp of the slow burn

of their deft shuttles, weaving for our lives
to make one cloth. They’d leave the ends untied

so we could choose—as if there were a choice—
once we spoke, once the rhythm of your voice

met mine. Our bodies barely brushed that time
we met, and spoke, but when we said good night

I held that sound inside me like a child.

first published by Provincetown Arts


Southern Cross

It wasn’t what drew me there,
but when I saw the Southern Cross
that year, visible all night down under,
turning with the hour,
it took me home, to my childhood
when I didn’t quite realize
what had risen
just above the horizon,
but I knew enough to know
I could keep that starry kite
if even for a little while
up above the boundary line.

I didn’t know it then, how special
the sighting was, my place in the world
far south enough to see it,
my hometown floating on the edge.
People looked right at the cross
and didn’t seem to notice
it was there
before it dipped below again.
Almost like a secret, that made it mine.
It was something I could turn to,
away from all the trouble,
and call my own.

first published by Novus Literary Arts




Diane Thiel is the author of eleven books of poetry and nonfiction. Her new book of poetry, Questions from Outer Space, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in Spring 2022. Thiel received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown University, and her work has appeared widely in journals such as Poetry and The Hudson Review. A Professor at the University of New Mexico, Thiel was awarded the title of Regents’ Professor in 2021. Her honors include PEN, NEA and Fulbright Awards. Thiel has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects. For more information, please visit her webpage: http://www.dianethiel.net

Two Poems by Patrick Deeley

My Father’s Salsa

He would jiggle the riddle’s circular frame
between his hands, sand dancing
within, fine grains streaming through
the wire grid until only shingle
and jags of stone remained. Then stop

those salsa rhythms I found
myself dancing to; chuck loose pebbles aside,
gouge from the quarry a refill,
shake and shuffle as before,
sifting so the damp, silken sand overspilled

the sides of its conical hill.
Walls were called for where clay ditches
had always done, the quickening
to modernity begun, cement mixer and silo
soon shunted into position.

We saw it as improvement, tunnels drilled
through hills, tar lorries,
steamrollers smarming a nexus
of routes. Decades later, in this underpass,
a muffled whoosh, plastic

scrunched underfoot, long mittens of ivy
darned on rock. I scamper up
and around, stand above everything.
Smell fuel-burn, feel the rush of the wind
no matter which way I turn.

Traffic bugles, trombones, an out-of-tune
brass band, the world of strangers
here and gone, all my townlands swept past
in less time than it takes
to mime my father’s salsa, dream the man.


To Judy in Her Studio

You forget to eat the orange I brought,
but as it shrinks, crinkles,
turns lop-sided, lustreless, you paint it,
and so your forgetfulness

bears other fruit. It’s done, I think,
at each visit, but neither you
nor the mould in its cold, clammy hold
will stop, with always more

to do or undo, get through to,
the effect of nothing ever staying just so.
Acceptance or abandonment?
Today, a last touch, a lingering look;

our eyes won’t outwear
the greeny white death by which the fruit
has lifted – through daub
and dust of your brushes – onto canvas.




Patrick Deeley has published seven collections of poems with Dedalus Press, the latest being The End of the World.  In 2019 he received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Groundswell: New and Selected.  He has also published a memoir, The Hurley Maker’s Son, with Transworld, and a number of books for children.  He was born in County Galway and currently lives in Dublin.

Two Poems by John Whitney Steele

Warrior III: The Arrow

Lunge forward, extend your torso over your knee.
Lift your back leg and balance on your front leg.
Parallel your body to the ground.
Gaze along your arms to the horizon,
a well-aimed arrow, sharp, steady, poised.
If you’ve ever dreamed of levitation,
try it. Hover there, on one leg.
Become the celestial arrow, Anjélica.

Launched from Árjuna’s bow, feel Krishna’s hand
guiding you through the wind, in through a chink
in Karna’s armor, through his skin, the flesh
between his ribs, and straight into his heart.
Had Árjuna known that Karna was his brother,
he never would have pulled you from his quiver.


Hánuman’s Leap

O Hánuman, son of wind god, Váyu,
warrior monkey, smaller than a speck
of dust, more massive than a mountain, skin
like harvest moon, face blood red, bedecked
with flowers flowing from your mane, why must
you tear your ribcage open? Ram and Sita
already see themselves reflected
in your throbbing heart. Why don’t you kneel
down on the ground, press your palms to lift
your hips, take one leg forward, one leg back,
stretch them till your buttocks touch the earth,
then bring your palms together overhead,
and take one giant leap across the sea?
Go. Seek beloved Sita, set her free.




John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, David Rothman, and Ernest Hilbert. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, is to be published by Kelsay Books in 2021. His poetry has appeared previously in Sparks of Calliope and numerous journals including The Lyric, The Orchards, and Road Not Taken. Born and raised in Toronto and Foot’s Bay, Ontario, John lives in Boulder, Colorado and enjoys hiking in the mountains. Visit his website @ http://johnwhitneysteelepoet.com.

“Fruits from My Hand” by Emily Patterson

On the wood floor you play
with a set of wooden fruits:

wedge of watermelon, pear
perfectly sized to your palm,

and your favorite, the bright
lemon that rolls in a spiral.

You screech as it curls
just beyond your reach,

and I delight in how simply
I can offer what you seek.

Taking the fruits from my hand,
you fling them to the floor again

and again—purposefully
not looking at me, until

I begin to see: It’s you
who will choose how

to move through this
world, into yourself.




Emily Patterson is a curriculum designer, poet, and mother in Columbus, Ohio. She holds a B.A. in English from Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was awarded the Marie Drennan Prize for Poetry and F.L. Hunt Prize for Most Promising Creative Writer. She received her MA in Education from Ohio State University. Emily’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Literary Mama, Mothers Always Write, Thimble Literary Magazine, Quillkeepers Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Sunlight Press, The Magnolia Review, and elsewhere.

Two Poems by Lorraine Caputo

Mountain Odyssey 

These thin, ragged roads, 
pocked, torturously scraped ‘cross
mountains, deep valley

villages awaiting
our plunge into those folds &
don Chato’s ribald song,

our swaying through their
hamlets, their pueblos, along
that bouldered river.


The Eastern Cordillera 

I.

Dawn reveals thick streams serpentining through the páramo.
Light-grey clouds move with the land.
Solitary homes sink into the barren-brown scape gouged by
dried quebradas & caves, brightened by fields of onion.

Two men in heavy wool ponchos talk at a roadside stand.
A girl with a wind-burnt face waits, schoolbooks in hand.
Her thin blond hair flies in the slight breeze.

Wind-eroded stone juts from the leached earth streaked
with pale-blood soil. Herbage finds tenuous hold.


II.

An olive-fatigue soldier brushes his teeth at a hose.
On the porch of a store, another, rifle over shoulder,
speaks with a young, coquettish woman.

By the cloud-entombed road that wends across these
heaven-raking mountains, buzzards hunt along the ground
near a sand-bagged post hidden beneath a drab tarp.




Lorraine Caputo is a wandering troubadour whose poetry appear in over 250 journals on six continents, and 18 collections – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America with her faithful knapsack Rocinante, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her adventures at www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or http://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Chattahoochee: Songs I Never Heard till Now” by Catherine Hamrick

The rush of I-285 sweeps me awake,
like the interior call of a conch shell

with a dry ocean trapped in its pink chamber,
and I retreat to the Chattahoochee,

hidden from Atlanta traffic lurching forward,
groan by groan in the idling afternoon—

beyond rooms stacked like rabbit warrens
and the blue glow of bars where the nameless

hunch over phones, emotion-conned, hearts afire
for mint-laced mojitos sugar-muddling the day.

On Powers Island, a fisherman, with name
and number Sharpie-scrawled on his life vest,

launches a rowboat in the downstream pull;
I dabble my feet by the ripped-out roots

of a lichen-trimmed log heard by Canada geese
on its bank-hollowing fall; the sun slaps eddies,

and brown-gray plumage runs in short currents
on a gander that hooks his beak in a ripple,

stabbing and nibbling, stabbing and nibbling,
and then arching his neck and shooting up,

mate alert—his white cheek patches, like arrows,
sharply paint his ebony head and crown.

I draw a quick breath, rocked by the common grace
of a small flock, heads erect, paddling sideways

and honking, tugged southward as the fisherman casts
slow-motion lines, ambitionless to net a mess

of sun-flashed rainbow trout, lost in the songs
of bankside gurgles and rapids gushing in midstream.




Catherine Hamrick is the copywriter for a liberal arts college in North Georgia. She previously held editorial positions at Better Homes and GardensCooking LightSouthern Accents, and Meredith Books. Her poems have appeared in The Blue Mountain ReviewstorySouthTiny Seed JournalBraided WayThe Ekphrastic ReviewArt Ascent, and elsewhere.

“Swamp Frogs, August 1965” by M. Brooke Wiese

A jelly jar of polliwogs perched
on the canted, rotting, swamp stump
of a silver birch, held there by the fringy lip
where a chainsaw’s teeth once bit.
Its tin lid glinted in the late summer sun
like the gilded dome of a belle époque hippodrome;
and the thin-skinned, black-stitched tadpoles
stirred up the murky silt and flashed
against the glass like minnows.

Or was the day more rainy and more grey?
Perhaps it was a yellow birch or a white oak –
I can’t recall – only the smell of leaf litter and decay;
only the peeling rolls from the paper birch
scattered on the peaty ground like papyrus scrolls,
on which, with quill pens fashioned
from seagulls’ dropped feathers, we wrote
with great curlicues and grand flourishes, our dreams –
exalted proclamations and treasure maps.

Sometimes the jar’s lid was screwed on tight
and held the polliwogs safe and snug inside
until at last all had succumbed;
but once or twice, if the lid wasn’t tightened well,
the jar slipped and fell off the mossy log
and tossed the tadpoles back into the antediluvian bog,
sending them thrashing through the muck
like a pack of snarling dogs, and then,
well, you know the ending… swamp frogs.




M. Brooke Wiese’s work has appeared in numerous publications, most recently in The Raintown Review and in Poem. Her poems have also been published in Atlanta ReviewBarrow Street, and Grand Street, and her chapbook, At the Edge of The World, was published by The Ledge Press in 1998. After a very long hiatus, she has again been writing furiously. She has worked in education and nonprofit social services.

“Sonnet on a Shore” by David Gosselin

Cling to your shores timorous denizens!
Brave divers hunt for pearls, but tempered souls
Prefer the quiet shores and shallow shoals
To darkened depths and krakens’ midnight dens.
The diver takes one breath then disappears;
He seeks for treasures lost and found,
And lost again amid the coral-bound
Currents and briny waves and rotten piers.
Oh how I wish I crossed these seas and swam
Before I knew what now I can’t unknow:
But now I dread to swim in depths so dim;
I curse the magic reefs where life began;
I listen to the siren’s song, yet know
I’m safe: I cannot drown—nor can I swim.




David Gosselin is a poet, translator, and linguist based in Montreal. He is the founder of The Chained Muse poetry website and the founder of the New Lyre Podcast. His first collection of poems is entitled Modern Dreams.