“Fortnite on a Friday at Home” by Kevin Blankinship

After the 7th century Black Arab warrior-poet Antarah

The enemy calls me. I answer
with my flint-knock pistol,
more faithful than any friend,

and my death-dealing SMG,
shattered in the thrust.

Clasped in my iron mech suit,
no chinks, not even when iron itself
refuses to hold. I rush onward into—

Honey, where did you put the keys?
A minor setback at base.

I return after a moment’s distraction,
health points full again.
I rush headlong into the fray,

no bombs to startle me here,
no sniper to learn my hiding place—

Why didn’t you tell me we’re out of toilet paper?
It’s serious now. Before the enemy can
strike, I crouch and roll, restock supplies,

then sprint back to the front.
Back to the work of death.

I build a mansion with the bones of the slain.
Opponent’s blood is my drink, the screams
of foes are mother’s milk. None is spared—

Can you take the trash out, please?
Damn. They’ve been spared. For now.

Kevin Blankinship is a professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University. His essays and poetry have appeared in The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Gingerbread House, Blue Unicorn, Wine Cellar Press, and more. Follow him on Twitter @AmericanMaghreb.

“The Feelings Our Life Has Forgot” by Peggy Everett

Dew christens our world at the crowning of night,
When dawn kindles dew with a wakening light.
With intents to rise in the formative phase,
The incoming morn sets the embers ablaze,

Then gilds all our realm ‘til creation is gold!
When sight has more treasure than coffers can hold.
While birds warble lyrics candescent as art,
Sweet night’s consolations rescind and depart.

Then out in the country and cities and towns,
We’re grasping for cigarettes, glasses, and gowns.
Quick showers, gulped coffee, newspapers to face,
Swift dressing, fast eating: our world is a race.

Then slamming of doors and car engines ignite
To tear through the streets where the dew glistens light.
By bustle of noonday, we likely will not
Vent grief for the feelings our life has forgot.

While street-dwelling poor whom success doesn’t see,
Whose nights have a price, but whose daylight is free,
Now bolstered by beauty and salvaged by heat,
Revive in the sun and subsist on the street.

We rush through rose sunsets the same way we left,
Our scruples consigned and our spirits bereft.
We’ve fam’lies to fend and news broadcasts to scope,
Calamities climb ‘til concern cannot cope,

‘Til twilight arrives and the darkness descends…
Though dark should bring respite and stars make amends.
For dream-desperation and competent sin,
Our common affliction restricts how we win.

While clocks by our beds dole allotments of flight,
We’ve blocks in our heads who are tyrants by right,
Which ration the moon and all possible bliss,
So even our romance is madly remiss.

While under the viaduct romance is strife,
Since embraces share heat, every love is for life.
While a symphony swells of euphonious frogs,
In chorus with crickets and jubilant dogs,
Emblazoned in silver of moon-rays conferred
In honor of music that nobody heard.

Peggy Everett is a blind poet who lives in the rural Pacific Northwest with her spouse and runs a small nonprofit for pets in need.

“Alexandrine for Orpheus” by Helen Jenks

If there were yet, O Muse, a greater myth than thee,
Then what reason would we, the poets, have to write,
To sing? To praise the verséd glory of your name––
Sweet tongue, embalmed in honeyed words so cruel and fair,
And nimble hands, so tender with the tortoise lyre;
What else could we, the poets, ever hope to be
But trapped like she in tragedy’s unforgott’n hold,
Eurydice! Does not enchanting Death fatigue
Of tears, even as he weeps and fears for your
Mangled body left to rot on such a lovely
Mountaintop as the wine-soaked hills of Pangaion ––
O Tragedy, you blithe and pithy thing! Your toys
Are weary of this game, as sure as spring again
Must rise, as does the lonely sun in every sky,
And just as do the rocks and stones and pavements of
The underworld sing draft and dreamless songs of love,
Along an old and winding road. Along an old
And treach’rous road, we watch and wait with bated breath
As Fate itself beguiles Death, and lovers young
Attempt to sway the oiled heart of King Hades––
And all the rocks that line the road call out to you
O Orpheus! Turn not the sweetness of your head,
For us, O Muse, look straight ahead! Perhaps this time
You’ll get it right, but still you fail, and still we die.

Helen Jenks is a poet from Dublin, bumbling history student, and avid knitter who writes of memory and myth, among other things. Her work has been published in various journals across Ireland, the UK, and the US, and she acts as the editor of The Madrigal, an Irish poetry publication focused on work that is emotive, sincere, and familiar.

A Translation of “Catullus 13” by Matthew T. Warnez

Catullus 13

Fabúllus, friend! Prepare to feast with me,
if fate allows, two days from now, or three.
But you must bring the meal—and make it great.
Yes, a good meal! And bring your charming date—
and wine, and salty speech, and jokes to tell.
If you bring these, my friend, you will dine well.

(Your dear Catúllus owns a spacious purse,
yet only cobwebs will the purse disburse.)

But, in exchange, you shall receive my love
or something more delightful from above:
I’ll share the fragrance that my bride applies,
which love supernal sweetly magnifies.
Once it is whiffed, you’ll beg that heav’n bestows—
this gift: to be in love, or be a nose.

***Original Latin***

Cēnābis bene, mī Fabulle, apud mē
paucīs, sī tibi dī favent, diēbus,
sī tēcum attuleris bonam atque magnam
cēnam, nōn sine candidā puellā
et vīnō et sale et omnibus cachinnīs.
Haec sī, inquam, attuleris, venuste noster,
cēnābis bene; nam tuī Catullī
plēnus sacculus est arāneārum.
Sed contrā accipiēs merōs amōrēs,
seu quid suāvius ēlegantiusve est:
nam unguentum dabŏ, quod meae puellae
dōnārunt Venerēs Cupīdinēsque;
quod tū cum olfaciēs, deōs rogābis
tōtum ut tē faciant, Fabulle, nāsum.

Gaius Valerius Catullus was a poet of the late Roman Republic whose poetry focused on everyday life instead of classical heroes. A significant influence of Ovid, Virgil, and Petrarch, his surviving works are still widely read and influential in contemporary poetry and art.

Matthew T. Warnez, B.H., is a Catholic religious brother and a campus minister.

“How Do I Reply to ‘Do You Love Me?'” by John Grey

Yes, that’s my head you see
sitting atop my voice.
It is responsible for the machinations
of the tongue, even the gestures
that conduct sound into meaning.
Behind my brow, are my thoughts,
my motivations.
Sorry you can’t chisel through
and see for yourself.
You’ll have to take my word for it.
And my head is perched
atop my word.
Containing a heavy brain,
it can’t help but exert pressure
on the throat.
So that’s why sometimes,
the explanation comes out garbled,
like a wrestler struggling
not to be pinned.
Or it’s whispered
as if it’s trying to avoid
the attention of the giant above.
Or it just gives up,
says nothing,
despite the head’s
stream of instructions.
Right now, I’m silent,
though the head is loud.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Hollins Critic. His latest books, Leaves on Pages, Memory Outside the Head, and Guest of Myself, are available through Amazon. His work is upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline, and International Poetry Review.

Two Poems by Julian Woodruff

The Mill

Along the road that leads north out of town
There stands an old mill, a decrepit thing.
At one time in the past, our city’s spring,
It churned out gravel. Now one looks around
The site where weather-wearied slats combine
To form bent walls and lurching towers bound
To make one think it begs to be torn down,
And wonder at its dying on the vine.

Without the mill, our town would not have risen,
But one day found its life elsewise sustained.
Some workers went to staff the nearby prison.
Others found jobs in skyscrapers glass-paned.
Gravel remains a product of much use.
But such our mill will nevermore produce.

Clouds at Dawn

The sky is an aquarium today.
The denizens of this inverted deep,
Some big as whales, others quite small,
loom, heavy late-night tokens all.

Gliding lethargically ahead,
They await the first dim rays of dawn.
Mimicking fish admirers like to keep,
Each separate stays. They look asleep.

These early morning clouds, a school
So calm, prophesy scant rainfall,
Although their cast is charcoal gray
That swim this strangely situated bay.

There’s little chance they’ll sprinkle any lawn,
Even—much less refill the shallowest pool
Beside a drying flower bed
The heated air has left for dead.

They merely haunt the sky, a phantom jewel
To be within an hour gone.

Julian D. Woodruff divides his time between western New York State and Toronto, writing short fiction and poetry, much of it for children. His work is most recently represented in WestWard Quarterly and on the websites of Aphelion Webzine and The Society of Classical Poets

Two Poems by Christopher Sahar


No one visits
Old man shelved in 33,
Family turned to dust
Joined the stars
Few years ago.

He watches
Standstill as
Frozen grass,
Fretting the rats
Would steal
His seed cast
For beloved Robin.

Old man in 33
Knows Winter Robin’s
Peculiar ariosos:
Half steps down
Minor leaps thrice,
Clicks a-four to bar,
Roulades at eights and nines.

Winter robin
Raptured by ample seed
Cracks husks
Leisurely despite
Bottomless freeze.

Old man in 33
Keens for his
Beloved’s arioso but
Swoons, keels, evaporates
Into cirrus-studded sky;
His benediction:
A crackle of husks,
A woof of wingflap,
Winterwind’s glacial heave.

Rainey Park, 2018

Eastriverskin etches
Mathematical formulae
Upon undulating aquaplane.
Maxima, minima,
Abscissa, ordinates
Integrating, deriving
Functions multivariate
Convergent, Divergent
Infinities and finites,
Colliding constellations
Of mathematical vectors,
Reform to north zero direction.
Our plane, a mutinous
Mutating mathematical
Choreography too rich
Compared to the infantile simplicity
Of the vector sum of those outside
Our criss-crossed planeskein.
Yet all dissipate as riverskin
To creek, marsh, prim-
Ordial slime, ooze;
Earthen death husks’
Sheening, refracting, redacting
Live billions under thermo-nuclear star
To Dusk’s mercuryslipsilveredslatebluestone-
Antiquedbrassgoldenaquamarineinkstain’d fringe.

Christopher Sahar is a musician who enjoys writing poetry as an avocation. Born and raised in New Jersey, he received his B.A. in English from Oberlin College and his Master’s in Music Theory and Composition from Queens College/City University of New York. He resides in the Astoria, Queens section of New York City, where he works as a church musician, educator, and occasionally earns income from music compositions and free-lance writing.  A composer, his works have been performed both in the United States and Europe, and he has written a libretti and lyrics for operatic and vocal works. 

“No Nostalgia” by Sathya Narayana

Her eyes besmeared with dreams
and skin effusing thin passion…
standing with fretting limbs
before my rocking chair…
with trembling lips she drawled
“You wanna say something!”
I said nothing…nothing!
Decades after, the floor
before me looks vacant.
She’s not there…she’s there…
she’s not there…she’s there!
Gazing at pure nothing
as if she’s there smiling,
utter I now something
…I shout again aloud,
I sob silently then.
My voice from interred soul,
struggles from depths, stutters
and splutters oh few words…
but all unintelligible…This’s no nostalgia,
this’s no nostalgia…this’s vertigo, yes, yes…
a sweet veridical hoax!

Sathya Narayana has been published in a number of print and web magazines, including The Society of Classical PoetsWestward QuarterlyMetverse Muse JournalPoets InternationalSaptagiriRock PebblesScarlet Leaf Review, and Better than Starbucks. She resides in India.

“Brother” by Anna Gasaway

For my little brother, who says I left him.

We were Christmas caroling for cash
to buy that Liz Claiborne triangle-shaped
perfume, to get a cup of hot cocoa
at the Christmas Festival, to buy something
we were told we’d never have. We told
him to wait, one more house, one
more “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”
My fifth-grade teacher at Fieler Elementary
in Merrillville, Indiana, opened the door, 
What have we here? She smiled in orange

lipstick as we started to sing, her penciled-
in eyebrows raised, but puckered when we

asked for money to buy Christmas presents 
for one another. She gave us cookies instead.
We shrugged our shoulders, Happy Holidays
we said. One more house, our teeth
chattering, we could see our breath,
one more “Away in a Manger” then we’ll

go home, “We Wish You A Mer–”
from the night a scream

What’s that? asked the lady behind
 her screen.  When people say that time

seems to slow down –it doesn’t really,
it’s protracted– it’s like running

through jalapeno cheddar cheese, that you
put on your nachos at school. I ran through

that cheese to find my little brother
lying in the middle of the icy road

in a puddle of blood trickling from
his face. Joel, please don’t die. He looked

up at me, Stupid, I’m not gonna die. Ambulance
came, a person came out of her Cadillac

wiping her eyeglasses. I didn’t see.
It’s all your fault. my mom said to me.

Anna Abraham Gasaway is a neurodiverse, half-Jewish observer of the human experience. Find her on Twitter @Yawp97.