Two Poems by Cat Dixon


Disappointed in the mansion with all
its thrills—library, jacuzzi, firepit,
and pool, you attempt escape by way of secret
never-ending tunnels, but you’re lost in the maze.
Emancipated from wealth and fame, you grow
neither thin nor pale. The paparazzi grows
gaunt waiting at the front gate. Your steps are
uninterrupted in this game of hide and seek. 
Your fans haunt every mirror and light fixture.
Every floorboard creaks like a thousand
nighttime stalkers hunting for a photo-op.

Prompt but Undereducated

Prompt but undereducated, you hold
recipes and a cup of chamomile tea
in one hand and dark lipstick in the other—
never meant for lush lips—that dark. The hidden
cockles of your heart are shocking red/black.
Every other color fades, but not this lasting
satin finish with its sweet flavor and sweeter
stories of long lost lovers who flake, but never
cave to the pressure of your chipped teeth
against such delicate skin. You arrive
royal and clean, but they’ve noted the flaw
only hidden by your bangs. You can’t 
love anyone, except the one that matters,
you. So sip the tea, cook the risotto, 
number the hours and days alone.

Cat Dixon is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and the chapbook Table for Two (Poet’s Haven, 2019). Her recent work was published in Sledgehammer Lit and Whale Road Review, and she is a poetry editor at The Good Life Review. Find her on Twitter @DixonCat.

“Populating Thanksgiving” by Ken Gosse

In a world full of people
there’s hate, crime, and war,
but today we recall
what we’re most thankful for.

At the top of the list
let’s place people again,
the young and the old;
girls and boys, women, men.

Our family, relatives,
neighbors and friends,
even strangers unknown,
way out where the Earth ends.

More than things or events,
fame, fortune, or glory,
the people we love are
the best of our story.

So pause to reflect
and take time to give thanks,
even though, now and then,
we’re all crotchety cranks.

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.

“Photographing Hoodoos – Bryce Canyon” by Terence Culleton

“Thou still unravished bride . . .” —John Keats

As of yet these, too, are still unravished or
too slowly carved to call it ravishing.
Distended, urn-like, rust red, eighteen soar
above me as I inch down, ogling.
Some seem countenanced like totem poles
or tiki men atilt to ruminate
as I square round to frame their limestone souls
within the finder lest the inner state
of stone be only stone, what wind and hail
have carved respond as nothing to the eye.
And I’ll insist on thinking up the tale
of what I see here—now—and maybe why
I see them this way, beautiful, and true
as anything I’ve known or thought I knew.

“Photographing Hoodoos – Bryce Canyon” from A Tree and Gone (Future Cycle Press, 2021).

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.

Two Poems by Stephen Kingsnorth


Why turning rust leaves on the trees
paint wonder – but not metal form,
the oxide scar, green metal bench?
Both witness chemicals at work;
the autumn auxin taking charge,
so damp air driving season’s cost.
A copper beech, the chestnut bract,
fall flaking branch, strip modesty;
yet next that picnic bench neglect,
with viridescent bottle mold,
its palette range a mirror work?
Would pristine tree in summer dress,
unchanging, satisfy our eye?
Why should our plant, this country seat,
not share the turning of the year?

“Rust” first published by Ariel Chart


The story of this sycamore,
as ancient lore, a tree of life,
whose squirrels gather winter store,
if where forgotten, sapling grows.
The canopy, a hiding place,
nuthatches headfirst, make their mark
uncurling bark, find canapés,
beak garibaldi, biscuit bugs.
The green man, universal sign,
a deity, a jack of all –
who else is hidden by the climb,
horizon scan from vantage point,
to see above the crowd below?
There is a man, against the grain,
who rudely asks himself to lunch;
it seems he shakes the fruit from tree.

“Sycamore” first published by The Dawntreader

Stephen Kingsnorth (Cambridge M.A., English & Religious Studies), retired to Wales from ministry in the Methodist Church, has had some 350 pieces published by online poetry sites, including Sparks of Calliope, printed journals, and anthologies. Find more at

“Mnēmosynē” by Peter Dreyer

“O Duty,
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie?”
—Ogden Nash

Abandon beginnings,
make compromises.
    or winning
    ask nothing;

but for articulate payment
rise to the bait,
if needs be,
eating your words.

Flog (if you must) your vermilion
blood, your cold bones steamed
in the conscientious
copy shop of the mind,

crania, skulls exposing
iridescent entrails—
innards of the spirit,
a rainbow of

motley and multicolored,
birds of the soul preening
on all azimuths unashamed.
Conscience, lime-feathered;
common sense, porphyry
streaked with white crystal;
lust, madder—rock ‘n’ roll!
rage, a blippy blue sea,

    but black
    O black!
singular as midnight, black,

    mother memory

Peter Dreyer is a South African American writer and author of a number of books, including Martyrs and Fanatics: South Africa and Human Destiny (New York: Simon & Schuster; London: Secker & Warburg) and, most recently, a novel, Isacq (Charlottesville, VA: Hardware River Press, 2017).

Two Poems by Diane Elayne Dees

The Grief of Trees

Joined at the root, two tall pines
form a “V” that reaches toward the sky.
Their marriage, an inosculation,
is forever. Each is allowed to grow,
yet they never leave each other,
for their foundation is strong.

They once had a child—
a gnarly vine with bark
that stayed close to the parents,
while—like all children—
it explored the environment,
swaying in the breeze.

But breezes became strong winds,
and—over time—the trees lost
their offspring. The mighty pines
continued to sway and grow,
though who can discern
when a tree is grieving?

Not far from where the bereft gemels
stand, I, too, had a partner,
and hoped to grow while rooted
at our base. But the wild wind
of betrayal weakened our structure,
and an ice storm blew through
and detached us. No child was lost
in our storm, for there was never a child
to lose—an unseeded forest is also a loss.

Who can discern when a tree is grieving?
I grieve for them, and I observe them,
as they continue to thrive, joined securely
at their base, able to withstand the winds
that tear down the framework of those
whose roots do not reach deep into the earth.

Storm Debris

We have seen it before:
the downed trees, the piles of limbs,
shingles flung to the street,
dozens of overflowing trash cans
reeking of rotted vegetables.
We know the drill—
the power will come back on
some day. There will be cable TV
and Internet some day,
and when we least expect it,
our phones will work again.

We are tough, we are resilient,
but we are powerless to escape
the sounds—the roar of generators,
the constant buzz of saws—the sounds
of Katrina. They blow through
the deepest recesses of our psyches,
they flow like restless bayous
through our waking dreams.

We knew then that we would never
be the same. Our hair stopped growing,
or it fell out, or turned suddenly gray.
The displaced, with their glazed-over eyes,
were easy to recognize. The rest of us
shuddered every time we saw the images.
Our bodies tightened like vises
every time the talking heads told a story
that had nothing to do with what happened.

We hear the droning symphony of saws
and motors—the sounds that remind us
that our DNA has been altered,
and that future generations will bear these genes.
The never-ending soundtrack of Katrina
is background music for the movie
that will never stop running—people
crammed onto the floor of the Superdome,
beloved pets tossed into the street to drown,
the sound of bullets on the Danziger Bridge,
deputies entering houses and shooting dogs,
the caskets of long-dead relatives
floating down the street, the deadly effects
of black mold and lead poisoning,
the remains of looted stores,
the search for missing corpses,
the leader eating cake in the desert.

Suddenly, there are birds
and dragonflies again,
and one morning, the sun shines.
At some point, generators will shut down,
and the saws will be put away.
But their sounds remain,
vibrating through our cells,
a deadly signature unique to us—
the eternal hum of trauma.

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook, Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books), and two forthcoming chapbooks, I Can’t Recall Exactly When I Died, and The Last Time I Saw You. She also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world. Diane lives in Covington, Louisiana, just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. Her author blog is Diane Elayne Dees: Poet and Writer-at-Large.

Two Poems by Doug May


For years it nibbled at his tired routine:
The urge to book a fortnight at some inn
Beside the sea. An inspiration clean
As ice and bracing as a splash of gin
It kept returning like a melody
From vanished days until his brain
Looked forward to its questioning refrain.

But with each passing year, he grew less sure
Of how to leave the house, compiling lists
Of things his settled ways could not endure
For long: the lumpy beds and drizzling mists
Of beige motels and plane connections missed–
Postponing the escape that none can stay
By snuggling deeper into yesterday.

Derby Days

Lubricated Delta Taus on infield grass
Egg on their dates to flash the TV crews
While solid seconds float between starched tents
Of towering hats and cable interviews.

Far from the off-track bets and whispered touts
In dim seclusion wait the thoroughbreds
With grooms and stable cats to calm their bouts
Of nerves before the solemn post parade–
Their blinkered eyes indifferent to raw slits
Of blazing sun and viscous smears of rain

Where uncrowned champions must either catch
A second wind and triumph on the rail
Or stumble gamely down the final stretch,

Deaf to the painted crowd and pounding track,
The shingle of one dangling hoof askew
Beneath flawed bone’s hereditary crack.

Doug May has published two chapbooks, Song From The Back Row and Cold War Piano, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared in many online and small press publications, including Raw Art Review, Cathexis Northwest, Rat’s Ass Review, Breath and Shadow, Wordgathering, and Beloit Poetry Journal.

“On Not Being in Bangladesh” by D. R. James

“I like writing about where I am.” —Billy Collins

I like writing about where I’m not, such as
my colleague’s cottage standing empty along a pebbly shore,
its insides—yes, knotty-pined, patina’d, I’m pretty sure—
enjoying the respite between peopled summer weekends
or the cushioned silence of winter’s drifts and desolation.

Indeed, for me a good vacation wouldn’t be complete
without the writing of a poem made possible
by the time I might otherwise have spent
cycling through Belarus or Montenegro
or perhaps observing profoundly to my spouse, once more,

and to everyone gathered at some seaside cheese market,
that the tiny countries of Europe are to U.S. states
what Cornish hens are to cuts of beef—
just me if I were doing my part
in re-embedding the ugly American.

It is also a lot of fun simply imagining
that advertised walking tour of Patagonia,
whose vast, steppe-like plains,
according to one encyclopedia,
since I wouldn’t know from experience,

terrace west toward the Andes,
their barren shingle slowly giving way
to porphyry and basalt (types of lava, FYI)
and an increase in annual rain and vegetation.
And since I’ve been told I should get away more,

especially now with the recent re-inflation
of a few of my coronary arteries,
here I don’t go to Slovenia, Guyana, Burkina Faso,
to Trinidad and Tobago, Tanzania,
to the Pacific islands once crushed by Portugal,

to all the homes of the Uralic family of languages—
Hungary, Finland, Estonia, places like that—
to Warsaw, again, thirty-five years later,
to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur in Reykjavík
for a hotdog smothered in remolaði.

But what I’m really hoping is that the Dalai Lama
will join me when I head for the Tibet that lies
just beyond the plateau of my porch,
which we’d pack up into on the bony back
of a ballpoint pen, with him highlighting old hangouts

among the rugged heights,
me taking copious notes on the fly,
though that of course wouldn’t mean we’d be any closer
to peace in the world or the end of exile
from all the places where I’m not.

—first published in Sycamore Review

D. R. James’s latest of ten collections are Mobius Trip and Flip Requiem (Dos Madres Press, 2021, 2020); his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at Origami Poems Project; and individual poems have appeared in a wide variety of anthologies and journals. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan. You can find his collections on

Two Poems by Larry Needham

Cycling the Tour, Phnom Penh

As cycles slow to circle the Place de la Post,
we’re afforded (for a fee) an overview
of French colonial designs. Our Khmer host,
an architect, talks history, what old, what’s new,
before we disembark near the Le Commissariat.
We follow her, ducking under briefs and blouses
draped wet on wire clotheslines, then charge through crowded squats:
one-room flats that serve as multi-family houses.

Next stop, the hospice of the Sisters of Portieux.
It’s true: the poor are with us always, on the street,
in makeshift shelters. In a lean-to we push through,
a naked child bathes from a pail to beat the heat.
Our guide frowns. “‘Urban Improvement?’ Only in name.
How can we progress when some people have no shame?”

Banteay Srei Temple

A miniature, well-preserved—a rarity—
pink sandstone carved like sandalwood. In bas relief
on pediments, devatas, for all posterity
guard an Angkor gem; its riches would tempt a thief
—and did—the year French raiders of antiquities
despoiled the site, seizing artifacts to fence,
thankfully restored, untouched by their iniquity,
to be enshrined, in unintended consequence.

Sita, depicted on a fallen stone’s red face
ravished by a demon, is reclaimed, at some cost:
trial by fire, insult, exile, personal disgrace.
Merit courts ruin or eclipse; yet what’s lost
in time is found, made whole, recreated. The dance
of Nataraj in stone whose posture keeps the balance.

Larry Needham is a retired community college teacher who has published on Romantic literature and the poetry of Agha Shahid Ali. His work has recently appeared in a handful of online journals including: Amethyst Review, Lighten Up, and Miller’s Pond Poetry Magazine.  He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.

“Breathe Close to Me” by Nolo Segundo

Breathe close to me.
Let not your head droop
Nor your face grimace
In fierce grief, for when
I must leave, all will not
Leave with me, I promise.

The memories we made
Together will sit safely
Inside your mind’s nest.
I’ll leave the photos too—
I can’t take them with me,
So you’ll have the proof
We were young once,
Both pretty and foolish,
Drawn together like
Two bees put in a jar,
Buzzing around each other
Until their disparate sound
Becomes a kind of music.

The photos and memories
Can take you back to all
The places we loved in
Italy and France and that
Windblown prehistoric
Southern beach where
Our hearts first linked
In tandem as flesh merged
And the monk-like sun set
Slowly, silently o’er that
Endless and holy ocean.

Yet they lie, those photos
And remembrances of our
Youth and middle years,
For no canvas or brain
Can seize our love, the
Living thing it is, unseen
But tangible as a hand,
Vulnerable yet enduring
Past anger, illness and
Even death, because time
Cannot diminish this
Being born between us.

“Breathe Close to Me” first appeared in Dual Coast Magazine

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.