“Lunar” by Jennifer LeBlanc

We have come so far, it is over.
–Sylvia Plath, “Edge”

I’m at my weakest
every autumn, most likely then

to do what I ought not
to in love, have come

hungry to the allure of folding
into bed after first frost.

I have fled toward nothing
more instinctual than it,

this seeking of cover, partnered,
in advance of winter, each single

body entwined like weak strands
that sturdy in a thread,

dead of the bleakest season
as immaterial to them as logic to a child.

When I was coiled around a dream
rising from him next to me,

white heat of desire
warming me, slowly, serpent-like,

an ember melting through snow
one cold crystal at a time,

each little fear went the way of nightmares
upon waking. I will bring him

a pitcher of milk in the morning.
He will tell me

our troubles are over now, each empty
hand held up to accept both of mine

like puzzled quadrants
of a moon. What was she

but a cold witness
to the disorder of our goodbyes,

the scarf he kept
to remember me by and how he

put it gently into his coat pocket.
I wished I could be as easily

folded back into his safekeeping,
back with the stones and shells

we stole from Orleans, all of them
summering in sand and salt,

back into the contract
only the moon ever sealed.

I envy her stubborn constancy,
inescapable commitment

to a barren body.

Jennifer LeBlanc earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her first full-length book, Descent, was published by Finishing Line Press (2020) and was named a Distinguished Favorite in Poetry (2021) by the Independent Press Award. Individual poems have been published or are forthcoming in journals such as ConsequenceSolstice, The Adirondack ReviewCAIRNThe Main Street Rag, and Melusine. Jennifer is a poetry reader for Kitchen Table Quarterly

Two Poems by Martin Elster

At Dusk (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

Just before dark, the dark shapes come,
winging between apartment blocks,
rasping in discordant keys
between the naked maples, flocks
of formlessness, each flapping from
some further tracery of trees.

The rabble shriek, as if in battle,
en route to their roost to sleep away
the cold. Swooping across each lawn
and rooftop, ravenous for prey,
winter’s talons aim to rattle
hollow bones until the dawn.

Most head southeast, some head northwest,
or ensconce themselves in the little stand
of hardwoods beyond my windows. The gale
whistles its airs across the land,
testing all creatures, however dressed—
in fur or feathers. Some will fail,

even those with coats like night.
While on my walk today, I found
three frozen in an empty lot.
Those coal-black snowflakes ranging around
the city through the slanting light
don’t give their fallen any thought.

Or, if they do, how might it show?
They stain the sky, flying, crying,
champions at not colliding—
murderous birds not keen on dying—
with a cryptic script I’ll never know,
streaking, scribbling, heaven-writing.

“At Dusk (Corvus brachyrhynchos)” first appeared in The Road Not Taken.

That Bitter Night

We could have driven but hiked to the drugstore—
for a lark — on the bitterest night
spring ever whipped up. You held my hand
the whole way. A skin of ice as slick
as Teflon shellacked the streets and sidewalks.

In a coat as heavy and huge as a house,
you led the way as I helped you along.
As for myself, I felt as light
as a snowflake, for our bond seemed strong,
way stronger than this Baltic weather!

Did the old pharmacist assume
we were homeless when our noses were dripping?
The cashier, too, acted toffee-nosed,
seeing us so bundled up.

Elated we’d made it back alive,
we’d cuddled on the couch and laughed
about that bumptious bloke, lulled
by the whimseys of the wind, our shivers
melting away like frost in May.

Now it’s summer. We laugh no longer.
You’re the glaze that glassed the roads,
and I’m the heavy coat you bore
that bitter night you held my hand.

“That Bitter Night” first appeared in The Wild Word.

Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, was for many years a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In addition to playing and composing music, Martin finds contentment in long walks in the woods or the city and in writing poetry, which often alludes to creatures and plants he encounters on his walks. Martin’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. His honors include Rhymezone’s poetry contest (2016) co-winner, the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition (2014) winner, the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s poetry contest (2015) third place, five Pushcart nominations, and a Best of the Net nomination. A full-length collection, Celestial Euphony, was published by Plum White Press in 2019.

Two Poems by DS Maolalai

Sweet summer

you get off work late
in the late stretch of evening,
with the sun down so low
it could just be some guy going home.

but it’s pleasantly warm
and it’s easy and, hell, you get off
the train early. take a walk
downtown, enjoy this
afternoon eight o’clock
with its lying down shadow
and sprawled about sunset,
and the bright junelight shining
like spit on a candy–
coloured flowers.

squirrels snake circles
around trees
eyes wide
and lively
as half-sucked

bees hum in the air
like honey, and a whispery breeze
with the quiet smile of violet candy,
or maybe just
the smell of violets,
coming over a garden
where some lady is trimming her flowers,
sunburn and kind eyes and a sunhat
and tiredness at the length of the day,
always willing to scatter nuts on her doorstep for the squirrels
or offer the kids next door
hard candy
that tastes like cut leaves.


I call you
to the office
to look at a
poem – don’t
do this normally
but I need
someone’s eye
as to whether
what I’ve written
counts as slander.

you read it,
mouth quietly,
and tell me
that it’s nice;
suggest one change
to soften a sentence.

I nod, very satisfied,
and let you go out.

I change it
and look.
change it back.

DS Maolalai has received eleven nominations for Best of the Net and eight for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in three collections: Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden (Encircle Press, 2016), Sad Havoc Among the Birds (Turas Press, 2019), and Noble Rot (Turas Press, 2022).

Two Poems by John Whitney Steele

What If

each moment were a snowflake
landing on a shoreless sea,
each drop of water a monument
standing for eternity,
your life story
raindrops on a windowpane,
your legacy, a streak or two
struck through each time it rains?

The Best of It

Exhaustion, my old friend
who used to visit now and then
offering a brief respite from the fray

has moved in as if he’s here to stay.
Unable to dissuade my dreary friend
I embrace him as my inner sloth.

Knowing he’s the slowest beast on earth,
a hairy hammock born with a fixed grin,
I smile as I indulge my mortal sin.

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. An award-winning poet, his chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, and his full-length collection of poetry, Shiva’s Dance were recently published by Kelsay Books. John lives in Boulder, Colorado and enjoys hiking in the mountains.

“Drifting Notes” by Sultana Raza

Inspired by Alan Senez’s painting, “Les Annees de Pelerinages.” Featured with permission.

Time abandoned, history lost in swirls,
Lost tunes trill eternally in vain,
Driving weeping branches, gradually insane.
Along river bank, notes writhe and curl.

In ethereal dimension, as player shifts,
Phantoms gather, nodding heads enthralled,
Wayward spumes of tunes start to drift.
In the ‘no time’, glissandos pitched, and called.

Musical shivers of rivulets, streams,
Dotted by light, drops bathed in gold,
Help dried leaves to hope and dream,
As unseen vibes transform their mold.

Eighty-eight molecules of wild spirits whirl,
Octaves reach crescendo at zenith of the sun,
As new formations in time’s streams unfurl,
Zephyrs whisper that soulful tunes have won.

Sultana Raza has published poems in 150+ journals, including Columbia Journal, The New Verse News, Copperfield ReviewLondon Grip, The Society of Classical Poets, Dissident Voice, and The Peacock Journal. Her fiction has received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train Review, and has been published in SetuColdnoon Journal, Knot Magazine, Entropy, and ensemble (in French). Of Indian origin, she has read her fiction/poems in India, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, England, Ireland, the US, WorldCon 2018, CoNZealand 2019, and Chicon8. Find her on Facebook here.

Two Poems by Johnny Payne


My love’s voice leaves me stricken with an ache
to hear her half-tones rankle my shook bones
disease from which I won’t be vaccinated
not even if her charms seem overblown.
Call me a smitten fool, a bitten clod.
Dig a dirt bier, stuff me in that bung
cover me with peat moss and second-hand sod
but let me listen to my lady’s lungs.
If I were a deaf-mute, I might have no chance
but even then, I’d listen for her song
to stir me into sentience, make me prance
as if a glockenspiel began to bong.
Horns of the gods hard-tootle their decree
that my girl’s pipes were made to remake me.


Laden with ripe and unripe figs, the tree
I rest beneath, blooming, sap-soaked and strong
its leaves like turquoise, with a glassy gleam
provides shade for whoever comes along.
I haven’t stirred yet. I’ve been lying prone
watching gray cloud-shreds whirl and retreat
as though bruised flesh pelted by random stones
from cosmic reaches by a hand unseen.
My fit has fled. I’m ready to rush home.
She’ll cradle my head, kiss the phantom wound
well-made with wasted words twice hard as bone
watch me revive from an afternoon swoon.
I watch for the next new-ripe fig to drop
into my hands, to crush to dark pulp.

Johnny Payne has recently published work in Neon Door, Fast Flesh, Verdad Magazine, Gasher Journal, Sparks of Calliope, Society for Classical Poets, The Chained Muse, Collidescope, Peregrine Journal, The New Lyre, Pulsebeat, Wine Cellar Press, and Soundings East.  His most recent published novels are The Hard Side of the River and Confessions of a Gentleman Killer, which won the IBPA Gold Medal for Horror in 2021.  His books of poetry Vassal and Heaven of Ashes were published by Mouthfeel Press. He has directed his plays Death by Zephyr and Cannibals for Slingshot Players, Los Angeles.

Two Poems by Nolo Segundo

A Passing Glance

The other day
as I turned the corner
onto my quiet street

I saw a woman so perfect,
she snatched my breath away
as she waited to cross the road.

It was like seeing a movie star
or a beauty queen close up–
my heart ached a bit, I confess,
when I thought, once, a long time
ago, I might have had a chance….

But now I’m just an old man
driving an old car to an old house.
I drove slowly and could see
her gracefully crossing the street
in my rear-view mirror, much
like a dream fading quickly away …
suddenly, from somewhere far
beyond my mind, I realized
the truth of what I saw: that
it was all just stupid illusion–
she was young and beautiful,
I, old and lame, but those were
just markers on the wheel of time.

The wheel would turn,
my body would die, hers would age,
no longer enrapturing men—in truth
she was already an old woman which
I could not see, nor could I see the
sweet child still playing within her.

When there are no more days left,
our souls will be free of the wheel,
and all the world’s illusions will
seem as distant, fading dreams.

An Old Poet’s Walk Through an Old Graveyard

He always liked to walk among the dead—
for him it was a secret pleasure to imagine
the lives of once breathing, thinking beings.
He would stop at each tombstone, curious
perhaps more than reverent, for he had long
known the body was just a set of clothes
the soul wears in a world where appearances
matter more it seems than what lay inside…

The old man liked to compare his years to
those chalked on each stone, continually
amazed that so many had died with fewer
years on their belts, so to speak—not
that he thought his 74 winters was a lot:
yet seen backwards in time, all the summers
and all the snows and all the fallings of dried
out leaves dying dressed in color like kings,
all those memories wouldn’t fill a large
basket in that living library called memory.

There was a newish-looking gravestone with
one of those weather-resistant photos of a
handsome young man who died in his 24th
year—the old man always wondered how
the young die– by a rare illness, or suicide,
or was he doing something he should not
have been doing, and karma took notice?

In the years practicing his little lauded hobby
the old poet found old graveyards to be best,
for old graveyards have markers of lives that
turned to dust a long, long time ago: 100, 200
years for some– but for the old poet it was as
though they had died yesterday, because they
were new to him, and his mind’s eye could see
them all living life large again in their own slice
of time, in their own worlds, with beauty and
pain, with loss and joy, with grace and fear….

There were so many folks to visit: each one
whose little stone house he stopped by he
introduced himself to, said hello, wished
them well, and wondered about what sort
of life the woman who died at 36 had lead,
or the really old man of 98 with the funny,
old fashioned name—did he regret missing
the century mark, the old poet wondered.

Some graves he did not like to see, for
they were the graves of babes, who
left the world less than a year after
they had entered it with such promise–
some died within weeks or months,
a few died the day they were born–
all spoke in stone of hearts broken,
of hope stolen, of love taken away….

Nolo Segundo, pen name of L. J. Carber, only became a widely published poet in his mid-70’s in over 130 literary journals in the U.S., Canada, England, Romania, Scotland, Portugal, Sweden, India, Hong Kong, Turkey, and three trade book collections: The Enormity of  Existence [2020], Of Ether and Earth [2021] and Soul Songs [2022]. These titles and much of his work reflect the awareness he’s had for over 50 years since having an NDE whilst almost drowning in a Vermont river: that he has, or rather, IS a consciousness that predates birth and survives death, what poets once called a soul. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, he’s a retired teacher [America, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia] who has been married to a smart and beautiful Taiwanese woman for 43 years.

Two Poems by Robert Donohue


One evening in the dining room I saw
Dad sketch a horse upon a legal pad,
I will assume this was the time he had
Enrolled in school to study labor law.
He drew a thoroughbred without a flaw
And here I thought all art was for the mad,
But also thought none saner than my dad,
I didn’t even know that he could draw.

I don’t believe he ever drew again,
Perhaps it was his way of showing us
A horse is just a horse, not Pegasus
And plainness was the subject of his pen.
I think he would believe a horse with wings
Might be unsuited for more earthly things.


I had a friend whose grandmother would hoard
Sears’ catalogues, and meeting her she’d ask
When you were born, then making it her task
You got one from your birth. These volumes stored
More than a taste for which the world was bored
And like a wine drawn from a moldy cask
Within your vintage you could freely bask
In being young, and when you were adored.

By thinking of the Nineteen Seventies,
Those plaids and knits, and those high-waisted pants,
I think of time no changing now supplants
And at the end of life’s declivities
I’ll fall (foretold as much, so I discern)
Onto shag carpet, laid for my return.

Robert Donohue has published his poems in journals such as: Amethyst Review, Better Than Starbucks, The Ekphrastic Review, and FreezeRay Poetry, among others. He lives on Long Island, NY.

Two Poems by A. Gee

By the Shore

Whitecaps, eager, race to shore —
couldn’t get there any faster;
sand attempts to keep the score…

Shells of pearl and alabaster
dot the wild, abandoned coast,
laid bare as an ossuary,
and the wind, a mournful ghost,

Indifferent, the waves hurry.

Beach Chair

Hanging clouds, soft cotton candy,
wispy tendrils probe about.
In my beach chair, sipping brandy,
waiting for the tide to out.
Sweat is cooling, makes me shiver,
pondering my life and death,
yearning for a single sliver
of a sail upon God’s breath.

There she is, all mast and power
as she leans from bow to stern.

As her wake upends the hour

yearning over, I return.

A. Gee has spent the bulk of his 20-year career writing code for a living. An avid reader of both English and Russian classical literature and poetry (English is his third language), he’s long been fascinated by the challenge of creating metrical, rhyming English poetry that wants to escape out of your mouth and be read out loud. A happily married father and grandfather, A. Gee and his wife split their time between New Jersey and Texas. Check out his book, Myth Takes: Rhyme and Reason in the Age of Entitlement or more of his poetry here.

Two Poems by Preeth Ganapathy


In the evening, they alight on the bark’s
tarmac, loud and clear.
I scour the lines of the silver-oak,
for their scent.
After seventeen searing seconds,
I am about to turn away
satisfied with the tang of their fervent
metallic songs until,
one tiny frame
shivers like a newborn flame.

Before dawn, they assemble again, sing their songs,
laced with the freshness of dew and air,
from the edge of a single Mussaenda petal,
from behind an Arabica coffee stem,
from between the cracks of the cement courtyard,
from beyond the delicate hills and the thin mist,
calling out
to Light.


The sun is like the air –
calm on the skin, but not seen.
The garden glows green,
my son is on the swing,
the one with the blue paint peeling off the seat,
clasping the rust-coated side chain.
A big smile stretched on his face, mid-flight,
singing feathery songs to the morning light.

After some time, I call out softly, tell him it is time to leave,
before his eyebrows furrow,
before he can shake his head,
a dragon-fly hovers,
her black paper wings flutter,
and she carefully selects one of the lines of my open palm
and perches
for the moment.

Like a gracious host
she whispers

Preeth Ganapathy is a software engineer turned civil servant from Bengaluru, India. Her works have been published in several magazines such as The Ekphrastic Review, Soul-Lit, The Sunlight Press, Atlas+Alice, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Mothers Always Write, Tiger Moth Review and elsewhere. Her microchap, A Single Moment, has been published by Origami Poems Project. She is also a two-time winner of Wilda Morris’s Poetry Challenge.