Two Poems by Bex Hainsworth

Tuesday’s Child

My dear sweet, little sister:
an annoyance sent by angry storks.
Oh, how with floppy tongues they flock.
She is a nymph and I, Medusa.
If only they would love me the way they love her.

Her room is pink as embarrassing thoughts.
Cushions flower on her bed like rose quartz.
The curtains flush with a secret,
falling crushed on the carpet.
The only survivor is a nervous wooden door.

I despair of her blushing room.
I want to throw paint on her walls
and make one vast black hole
to draw out the crimson bloom
like venom from an aching wound.

Yet, she knows the words and looks that cut
only mask an older sister’s love.
I remember the night before her operation
she crawled into my bed at 4am
and I held her while she shook.


At twenty-two, I accepted a teaching job
and moved into my first apartment.
Tucked away in the hips
of a hollowed-out hosiery factory,
my walls were red brick and white plaster.
That winter, every morning alarm began
in the dark. I set the coffee machine spluttering
and turned on BBC News:
the perfect emulation of adulthood.
Back then, I didn’t know
we were sharing the same cold.
You lived in the ribs, in a perpetual
blanket cocoon, eyes narrowed at the puttering
of the electric heater. I dragged my duvet
to the living room and marked essays,
your almost-image, imperfect parallel.
When they dug up the king in the car park,
I wonder if you joined me in the crowd
that gathered only yards away from
the rosy bones of our chilly homes,
trying to catch a glimpse of a funeral
five hundred years in the making.
Maybe we were shoulder to shoulder,
then turned and walked away from each other
along the arcs of a five-year circle.

Bex Hainsworth is a poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Paddler Press, Canary, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex

“I Am Spending Down” by Glenn Ingersoll

I am spending down my life.
I had too much of it stored away
in jars, in file cabinets, in pecunious banks.
So I get some of it out
to spend frivolously,
to give to others some.
Getting out what was put away for later
has fascinated by what
didn’t happen,
what began but only went on so long.
I forget for a moment I was alive
even then,
doing as much as I could.
I didn’t know I was stowing away could-have-beens.
I thought the crumbs put aside
weren’t nearly enough,
not for that day,
not for any day I was already in.
Yet here they are.
Here they are piled up –
too much for me,
too much for me
even now.

Glenn Ingersoll works for the public library in Berkeley, California. His poetry reading & interview series Clearly Meant is on covid hiatus, but videos of past events can be found on the Berkeley Public Library YouTube channel. Ingersoll’s prose poem epic, Thousand, is available from and as an ebook from Smashwords. He has two chapbooks, City Walks (broken boulder) and Fact (Avantacular). He keeps two blogs: LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Poems have recently shown up in Sparkle & Blink, Rejection Letters, flux, and Spillwords.

“End of the World” by Mary Paulson

While you’re taking a shower or
mowing the lawn, buying
a banana at the fruit cart—
an abrupt,
soundless silence—
alien, lacking vibration, ambition,
movement, it perforates
the tender membrane, consciousness
leaking, tiny holes punched
with impossible speed, this
un-sound surrenders
existence for you. You strain
tiny human ears to not hear
absence, unimpassioned annihilation,
feel your peripheries
dispatched, the
whole design undone—

Remember seasons? Plots of
summer books? Parents
before they got old? Wasn’t I also
going to grow old?
Remember West Wing re-runs
in bed with the dog?
In the midst of erasure, I find myself
crying for the dog. I hold
in front of me what’s left of my
open palms. Was everything
I once held impossible?

My hope is
we will be fearless—
as a species—
finally fearless, gentle,
quick to forgive—
that we gulp at the dark
last call with an open-mouthed yes.
Then, newborn sleep resembling
vastness, up in a treetop
with the stars.

Mary Paulson‘s writing has appeared in Slow Trains, Mainstreet Rag, Painted Bride QuarterlyNerve CowboyArkanaThimble Lit MagazineTipton Poetry JournalThe Metaworker Literary Magazine, Months to Years, Speckled Trout ReviewFleas on the DogChronogramSwamp Ape ReviewPine Hills Review and Backchannels. Her chapbook, Paint the Window Open was recently published by Kelsay Books.

Two Poems by Michelle DeRose


Say a cat limps into your yard,
a cat with singed whiskers, a fear
of play. Say your six-year-old
pounces at the chance to love
a smaller creature, builds it forts,
blanket beds, preserves it
the last bits of his favorite dinner,
falls to sleep draped beneath
its paw and awakens early.
You try: post signs, ask around,
check the paper’s lost and found.
He pleads to put the paper down.
You finally do. He names the cat.
Wilks is sleeping on his lap
when you learn your brother’s
friend’s neighbor lost one, gone
when his son held its head too close
to a candle. Really is all
he says. I leave it up to you.

Epic of a Winter Evening

Let the muse be silent! The fire’s lit.
The only song belongs to the log’s hiss.
Cradled in perfection of the fit,
my head rests in this underworld of bliss
where the curve of my cheek slides easily to its place
of neck and shoulder joined above the heart.
I need no armor, desire only to face
you unadorned, no sting of a god’s dart.
I sing of your arms, fated to draw me
deep into this Thursday night of snow
to ponder the night’s only mystery:
the rise and fall of flicker, ash, and glow.
Though fate ordains the adversaries fight,
Hector couples with Andromache tonight.

“Epic of a Winter Evening” first appeared in The Sweet Annie & Sweet Pea Review.

Michelle DeRose teaches creative writing and African-American, Irish, and world literature at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her most recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Dunes Review, Making Waves, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Healing Muse.

“Sold” by Susan Jarvis Bryant

I. Summer Honey Crush

Soft, silken lips shone from her screen last night.
She saw them, plump and ripe, as smooth and lush
As velvet peaches kissed by Sol’s delight.
If her smile blushed in Summer Honey Crush
She’d beam a flirty grin to light his eyes –
That guy who rides the seven-thirty train
To Charing Cross would turn her sighs to highs.
They’d brave the slate-grey skies. They’d waltz in rain.
They’d skip through puddles in Trafalgar Square
(Just like the lovers did on last night’s ad)…
Like Piccadilly clouds, they’d float on air
To rainbow zones where joy eclipses sad.
Their lips would lock and rayless days would rock…
But Summer Honey Crush is out of stock.

II. Silver-Stardust 

She rides the daily seven-thirty train
To Charing Cross – she lights his humdrum trips.
Her muted beauty has no need for vain
Displays of painted nails and glossy lips.
He dreams of wowing her with glam and glitz.
They’d cruise in bliss to bistros by the beach –
The soft-top down, they’d laugh and sing and kiss…
But wishes, priced sky-high, are out of reach.
That Silver-Stardust, red-trimmed, sporty car
(The sleek, pristine machine on last night’s ad)
Would spin them through the spheres to Shangri-La,
Secure her heart and make his ever glad…
They’d melt beneath the moon, him and his honey,
If only he had Silver-Stardust money.

Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.

Two Poems by Luca D’Anselmi

The Basement

Come with me to the basement, where we dry
prosciutto from the crisscrossed beams, and keep
clay jars of water to humidify
the air that’s always evening air, where deep

set rows of iron nails have slowly bled
their rust down ancient frescoes on the wall,
or what remains of them: a soldier’s head
that’s looking for its feet, and in a shawl

a mother clinging to her privacy
who crumbles as she views whatever sight
was painted next to her—now empty space—
her prayer unraveling for eternity
inside a ragged breathlessness of fright
and trembling as she tries to hide her face.

“The Basement” was first published by Wine Cellar Press


I think of you in the librarium
where I store letters, histories, and memoirs
pickled chronologically in jars
of brine and vinegar, though sadly some
books of astronomy exuded scum
because their illustrations had dissolved,
and others inexplicably evolved
ecologies in equilibrium,
where algae thrive, and young monastic snails
take vows, grow old, outlive their lovers, grieve
for old miscalculations, slowly leave
mixed messages behind in slimy trails,
and clean the inky glass so I can see
unopened letters that you wrote to me.

Luca D’Anselmi teaches Latin and Greek. He lives in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

“Umbrella” by W. Roger Carlisle

You were my first imaginary friend,
my sword for attacking
pirates, the trusted keeper
of my own black magic, a large leaf
of cool and shade, my witches broom.

Your canopy protected me from the dark clouds
of my mother’s illness, the critical voices which fell
in sheets, the accusations raining from bottles of alcohol;
your fan of blackness
kept me safe in the darkness of my room.

As I grew older, the circumference of my umbrella grew,
it’s presence became the spirit of my father,
always with me night or day,
rain or shine, stubborn, stable, resilient, strong,
so quiet in his love.

I trusted the stories we wove together
into the stretched black cloth
over the ribs of his old skin and bones,
through the patient listening of his old soul.

He was the one who walked beside me
the rest of my life, a listening presence,
a forgiving voice; straight or collapsed,
always ready to spring into action.

My shield against bad weather,
my copilot in a storm,
I could hold on to him in a breeze,
fly above the clouds,
see the world through his eyes.

He was the wind at my back,
a parachute of courage,
frail yet strong,
easy to carry, always keeping me dry.

W. Roger Carlisle is a 75-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 11 years and is a nominee for a 2021 Pushcart Prize. 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.

Two Poems by M. J. Gilbert

When Molding Disappointments

When molding disappointments,
From best intention’s clay,
Let anger’s fires turn them stone
For heirlooms of dismay;

Display them in the open,
In plain and public view;
Keep them well and pass them on
As some were passed to you.


Life is a funnel
All traverse

In full career
And in reverse

A funnel too

That bids me travel
Forward through

What darkling virtue
May decree

Circumference vast
Or Decency

M.J. Gilbert was too businessy for the academic world and may be too academic for the business one. We’ll see. He has a Ph.D. in Literature from SUNY Stony Brook and is the author of The Riddle of Firelight, a Most Curious Winter’s Tale. He loves poetry, lives in awe of good poetry, and appreciates the rarefied irony of sending lyric pieces to Sparks of Calliope.

Two Poems by Judith O’Connell Hoyer

My Friend and I

Drive to this garden of wildflowers
set around a glacial pond,
the heavenly opposite of thirst.
Water shinnies down crystal ropes.
We walk on a path of crushed stone.
There are asters and lady slippers.
There is yarrow. So much in bloom.
We pause to hear a herd of sudden rain
stampede across our raised umbrellas.
Ferns lick the wet air
wanting more of what they already have.
We speak loudly to be heard,
“Look, witch hazel. Look, iris.
Look, white violets.”
There are voices beyond.
We are not alone. They are not alone.
We follow them – the spiderwort, I mean,
the moss, the turtles on a log,
until we are where we began,
outside where the car is parked.

Who I Am

I want to remember my imaginary friend Mary,
then call her in from where I left her in the street
when I was five, before she gets run over again.

I want to remember my grandmother calling me
a brazen hussy, a proud haughty when she caught me
preening in her bedroom mirror.

I want to remember when I wished my name was Deirdre,
wished for a night at Billy Bob’s Fort Worth honky tonk
stomping in my straight-legged jeans and killer cowgirl boots.

I want to remember to shinny into my aqua St John knit
when I’m 80, the one with the gold belt buckle that clicks shut,
the one I bought for my 40th.

I want to remember the fine powder of anticipation, how it clings
to everything that’s vital and worth being bad for.

I want to remember that you are the only one, you with your
left-handedness and shirts with a pocket over your heart.

I want to remember being out there with Mary, feet bare,
lifting the hems of our sundresses to catch a summer shower
as it dashes down noisy and necessary.

Judith O’Connell Hoyer’s 2017 chapbook Bits and Pieces Set Aside was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award by the publisher of Finishing Line Press. Her full-length book, Imagine That, is forthcoming from Future Cycle Press in March 2023. Judith’s poems can be found in publications that include CALYX, Cider Press Review, Southwest Review, The Galway Review (Ireland), The Moth Magazine (Ireland), The New York Times Metropolitan Diary, and The Worcester Review among others. She splits her time between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 

“Bach” by Arthur L. Wood

Bach is playing sweetly,
The flowers are in bloom,
My lady moves so gently
With her hands upon a broom,
She’s sweeping all the ashes
Into piles by the door,
And never ever need I ask
What are we fighting for?

For Bach will suit our toil
And Bach will suit our rest;
I gently peel an orange
And look upon the west,
Our lovely sun is setting,
The evensong begins,
The birds and Bach are singing
Unaware of sins.

And as the song increases
The ash is in my hand,
The birds become frenetic,
My lady’s in command,
Bach is in his tremor now,
My frightened hands are curled,
My lady breathes upon the ash
And blows away the world.

Arthur L. Wood is a poet from Winchester, UK. He has published two collections, Poems for Susan (2020) and Scarlet Land (2021).  His poetry takes inspiration from the lyrical poetry of the early twentieth century, notably Walter de la Mare and William Butler Yeats. Wood’s poetry has been described by Raymond Keene, OBE, as functioning “as an overview of the entire English tradition of poetic creation.” He is widely published in poetry journals and runs his own YouTube channel, Poetry from the Shires, where he shares classic and original verse. Wood’s third collection, Lysander, is expected in September 2022. Find him on Twitter @ArthurLWood.