“Our Moroccan Pouffe” by Charles D. Tarlton

From my chair beside the Moroccan leather pouffe,
                                                            I can see an uncountable
avalanche of objects—and suppose I try to list them—

          an pseudo-antique mahogany Tansu chest topped
          with family photos in cheap gilt frames, an open
          appointment book, three ceramic coasters
          painted by hand in Mexico, two miniature
          carved figurines, a tiny plastic flashlight
          and, alongside the chest, a chinoiserie
          vase in blue and white porcelain and a
          carved wooden Buddha’s bust, bought
          in an Oakland second hand store, once
          painted in now peeling gold and blue…

My aspect has hardly altered. All of this and more crowds
into my single glance, and there’s still the rest of the room
                         and a house made of many other rooms
right after that, and then the whole of the outdoors,
yards and trees, the distant marsh, eventually the sea!
For every green cockatoo imagined there’s an endless reach
of plain hardwood flooring, countless pictures hanging
on the dull walls, carpets and blinds and curtains
and, out beyond those, a world unfolding forever.

Charles D. Tarlton is a retired professor of political theory who lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife, Ann Knickerbocker, an abstract painter. He has been writing poetry and flash fiction since 2006, and a collection of his ekphrastic prosimetra, Touching Fire (Kyso Flash, 2018) is available on Amazon.

“Walking from Buwenge to Mawoito” by Natalie Lester

The red dust of the city fades.
The grey smoke of charcoal
stings my eyes.
The voices of street vendors calling out
dwindles as I shoulder my pack,
fixing my gaze on the road before me.

The sun slips and hangs low in the sky,
prodding me onward, step by step,
as dreams flicker and pull at my eyelids.
The cicadas chorus begins, as town
turns to village, and the songs of the wind
pass through the sugarcane stalks.

At the edge of the sky
a lost dream comes back,
beating its wings beyond the fire.

The many faces of day
ache in my hands,
voices echoing in the dust
become a refrain,
a strange song that enters my blood
and sings through me.

The fields began to shimmer
like a veil through my hands,
my feet light, and the whole world gossamer.
Time, for one moment, becomes still
and rests in me completely.

I watch the tide of bright faces
turning to handfuls of dust,
scattered words descending to quiet.
The burden of confusion lifting,
like a new wing opening its face
between my shoulder blades.

“Walking from Buwenge to Mawoito” was previously published by Spirit Fire Review

Natalie Lester is a poet currently living in Ithaca, NY. Some of her other work has appeared in Spirit Fire Review, Poetic Sun, and Eucalyptus & Rose

“Cathexis” by Alec Solomita

Garnet was my mother’s birthstone
It’s in the semi-precious category,
not as hard, not as bright as a ruby.
Not as precious, not as fine –
a supple red blush.

She wore a largish one in a smallish brooch.
It was rectangular and clawed into place
by the insect legs of some metal –
semi-precious perhaps, but perhaps not,
perhaps gold, a noble metal that endures.

She only wore the brooch when she went out.
I observed her toilette with pious intensity:
two swipes of deep red lipstick on her lower lip
then pressing both lips together with a casual élan.

She’d peer in her compact mirror
then clap it shut, releasing ecstatic clouds of powder,
before holding the compact up to my face
saying, “See the monkey!”

I laughed but was always a little surprised
that I didn’t see her face in the glass but her
pale and timid child shadow.

“Cathexis” was first published by The Lothlorien Poetry Journal

Alec Solomita is a writer and artist working in the Boston (USA) area. His fiction has appeared in the Southwest ReviewThe Mississippi ReviewSouthword Journal, and Peacock, among other publications. He was shortlisted by the Bridport Prize and Southword Journal. His poetry has appeared in Poetica, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Litbreak, Driftwood Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Galway Review, The Lake, and elsewhere, including several anthologies. His photographs and drawings can be found in ConviviumFatal FlawYoung Ravens ReviewTell-Tale Inklings, and other publications. He took the cover photo and designed the cover of his poetry chapbook, “Do Not Forsake Me,” which was published in 2017. His full-length poetry book “Hard To Be a Hero,” will be coming out in spring of next year.

Two Poems by Mark B. Hamilton


Thick sheets of ice have moved the dark.
I am unwell from yesterday’s ducking.
J. Fields did return, after some risk,
having made his way across the flowing

to report that people do favor
recent surveys by Captain Mackay
of those granted lands told to comprise
a beautiful and bountiful country.

Yet I remain unwell. All day, indisposed.
McNeal and Ordway were lost all night,
the Missouri impassable in thick slabs
like shuffling like cards — a forceful sight.

My servant has kept the fire so hot
the chimney wattle has caught aflame.
I step out to take a meridian altitude
while men pour water into the frame.

Rivers continue to rise. N. Pryor
arrives from Cahokia with letters.
Our Boat, afloat again, in perfect order.
Although I slept but little, I feel better.

With evening rains, all is dry and tight.
Huddling, we cook the rabbits at mess,
the Mississippi still stoppered with ice
but the warming stew a good success.

Still Very Unwell

Today is warm, but I am unwell this mile.
In cold and frost on Mister Hays’ horse,
I have accompanied the gentlemen for awhile
but now return early as I am feeling worse.

The thaw was fair, but winds have increased.
I take doses of medicine, yet remain sick all day.
To Leakens, a thief, who must be discharged
from our Party, I give a small correction of pay.

The wilding wings of fowl pass briefly overhead,
yet I remain unwell. Dubois River is fastly rising,
sufficiently so the Boat leaves its pries, in stead
taken up creek, all though the day is warming.

A map of lines must inhabit those feathery brains.
York attends and keeps the fire, and Mr. Hanley
sends butter and milk in a wagon of Mr. Koehn’s
whose wife asks if she might better comfort me.

Those gliding wings must be the soul. I am sick.
Captain Lewis sends out Shields for walnut bark.
Winser kills a badger. The ice is 11 inches thick.
The rising river has washed away my water mark.

The whistling swans in silence pass like a dream.
The walnut pills do take effect, and I feel better.
A lost Maumee canoe drifts alone downstream,
and news is delivered from Mr. Hay by messenger.

Two invitations have arrived for Balls at St. Louis.
The Missouri River is spewing a slushy reef
in muddy floes to form its half frozen surface.
The geese and swans do gather in a marshy sheaf.

“Unwell” and “Still Very Unwell” are history-based poems, adapted from “Wintering at Camp Dubois,” Vol. 2, The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Gary E. Moulton, editor. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986.

Mark B. Hamilton considers himself an environmental neo-structuralist, working in forms to transform content, adapting from both the Eastern and Western traditions. His new eco-poetry volume, OYO, The Beautiful River: an environmental narrative in two parts (Shanti Arts, 2020), explores the reciprocity between self, culture, history, and the contemporary environment of the polluted Ohio River. Recent work has appeared in Weber—The Contemporary West, North Dakota Quarterly, Copperfield Quarterly Review, Third Wednesday, and Naugatuck River Review, as well as abroad in Oxford Poetry, and Stand Magazine, UK. You can find him at: www.MarkBHamilton.WordPress.com

“Reading Your Obituary” by Bryce Christensen

I scan the lines, but do not find a clue:
Beneath the lifeless photo of your face,
Mere moldering facts: the date, the time, the place
You died, and why, what work you used to do.
Unanswered here, one question burns anew:
Where are you? Not within the purchased space
Of this obit! I search for any trace,
For any hint, that reconnects with you.
I wonder, Can you see me now from where
You’ve gone? And do you know what is at stake
When I implore you for a sign? My prayer
Is for a whispered word, a ghostly touch,
A brush. Don’t say I’m asking for too much!
Please give me something more than just this ache!

Bryce Christensen was, until recently, professor of English, emeritus, at Southern Utah University, where he taught British and World literature. His poetry has appeared in The Formalist, First Things, Modern Age, Chronicles, Christianity and Literature, and North American Anglican.  He is also the author of ‘The Portals of Sheol’ and Other Poems (White Violet Press).

“The Memory of a Star” by Evita Arakelian

When did we stop seeking reverence amongst stars?
The moment we caught them. I look at you;
the mystery that so befuddled you no more
clouds your half-moon eyes. To speak at all
would be to clear the wonder off your face—
you’ve found another shape you think beautiful.

I wish we knew apart all that is beautiful
from all that like the last surviving stars
fades at the touch of a dawn. The spinning face
of a dining room clock is all that binds to you
the contours of my reverie, and all
that half-heartedly leaves room for more—

more than words which yet again forget us, more
than failed attempts. That day I thought them beautiful,
the chrysanthemums we gave nearly all
our winnings—we had sold those rusty star-
shaped candlesticks—to buy (we were fools!). You
smiled at the one in my hair, nearly the size of my face!

I told you to love the woman, not the face
at that July festival—though it felt more
like May—but you (the first of your kind, you!)
laughed it off, said I was beautiful
said something, too, about the country stars
crowning my eyes in constellations—all

this you said, not burdened by my reality at all.
I let you be the silver sheath that subdues the face
of a battered moon and anoints poets out of stars;
the fire that welds from nothingness, more—
I let you be as I thought you were: beautiful—
I let your glory be the act of being you.

I’ve drummed my heart to the distant tune of you
long enough; you stand before me, all
you are—we should have better defined “beautiful”
before you squandered it upon my face
and I, your soul; I upon you forevermore
and you but for the lifespan of a star

undone, for all you know, just as it lights your face
with all the splendour of a light that is no more;
ephemeral yet beautiful, the memory of a star.

Evita Arakelian has obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from the University of Tehran and is currently a student of English in the University of London. She has published her poem “Reverie” in the Summer 2021 issue of Off the Coast literary journal. Among her hobbies is making miniature figurines, including a set of Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes characters, and an upcoming Shakespeare.