Two Poems by Jan Wiezorek


What flows has a bank:
to sit by it and live
with wet-in-us,

iron-made of shapes,
yea-by-yea big,
large to sit in.

The wet moves fast
in a thaw. We say,
“How high it is!”

with no mean
in hand to make
it fact.

Over there, a bend
shows ghosts.
Old graves

from the hill,
as grace moves left
thru fog.

Two boys with poles
and a black dog say
they fish “At the dock.”

But it was full-up wet,
too high by the pier.
Still, you will see them

walk (down low,
in a steep of mud
and leaves),

with dog’s
nose to lead
the way.

For Us to Dry Out

Our town sits on a creek
that flows to the wet
of a grand space

lined by two banks.
You will see the flow,
as the wet comes in

all full near the dam,
in sprays and mist
that steam the air.

A mile on,
the wet turns
to a lake.

A drone saw a man skate
here to the length of it. Just ice,
skates, beech trees on the shore,

and a score
of shapes-on-ice,

up to the soul.
When wet shows up,
you will lose your place

in deep runs,
slick rock,
and dead leaves:

all the wet will
come for us,
for us to dry out.

Jan Wiezorek writes and paints from the trails of Southwest Michigan. His work has appeared in The London Magazine, among other journals, and he has taught writing at St. Augustine College, Chicago.

Two Poems by Diana Raab

Fortune Cookie

Each Sunday evening, in suburban New York,
we eat at the corner Chinese:
its fish tank hypnotic, the smiling

welcome from the Chinese woman
pressing menus to her chest,
who leads us to the booth with the vinyl seats.

They stick to my legs as I slide
across to my designated spot. Dad promises
me a fortune cookie on the way out;

from the bowl by the door.
We eat spareribs, lick our fingers
and laugh, try to pick rice kernels

and slippery noodles with splintered
chopsticks. We praise the food,
but wonder why we often leave hungry

for food and fortune. After extracting
mine from the smashed cookie, I put
the crumbled paper in my pocket,

and find it weeks later, hoping somehow
the words change
and the little paper whispers

truths about my own future,
which never told me dad would die
before my daughters’ wedding.

“Fortune Cookie” first appeared in Blood and Bourbon (2021).


When I stop to think
of the many ways a man seduces
a woman,

I see it transcends to hey haven’t I seen
you before, or deep shines
in sultry eye contact.

Like yesterday at Kennedy airport
where my sexy limo driver insists
on being my chauffeur
for my one week in his big apple.

How nice: a warm welcome into the city
of my childhood, I think.

His seemingly foreign kindness
might have captured the insecure girl in me,
not the confident woman I’ve become.

Years earlier I might have
accepted this invite
or even an invite to his place,

but now, after child-bearing years
and many surgeries and pains
of ill-meaning lovers, I shudder when

I spot a copy of Maxim
pursed into the back seat pocket, followed
by his piercing glance in the rearview mirror.

I toss a brazen glance at the woman on its cover—
forty years my junior, still porting her own
breasts nestled between two proud shoulders,
while mine are fabricated on the ruins of breast cancer.

In disgust, I turn and look the other way.

“Seduction” first appeared in Superpresent Magazine (December 2021).

Diana Raab, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, and author of 13 books. Her new poetry chapbook is, An Imaginary Affair: Poems Whispered to Neruda (Finishing Line Press, 2022). She blogs for Psychology Today, Thrive Global, Sixty and Me, Good Men Project, and The Wisdom Daily. Visit:

Two Poems by Marlena Maduro Baraf


The losses:
infant daughter
youngest daughter shot at the mall in Miami
beloved husband
second daughter dies in her sleep

You push your head erect
you let it sink to the right
your daughter-in-law plumps a small silk cushion
she tucks it lovingly into the low wooden chair
she rights your head
your son-in-law lifts the woven shawl onto your shoulder
your nephew touches the shawl to your cheek
a grandson strokes your sinuous hand
your first daughter sighs
a granddaughter bends
your son sobs
a niece holds her breath

You push your head erect
you let it sink to the right
your daughter-in-law plumps
your son-in-law lifts
the shawl touches your cheek
sinuous fingers

You push your head
you let it sink
we sob

your daughter
the sweetness of chocolate
she tucks
he lifts
we breathe

Number 14 Blue

She appears in other paintings
clutching her throat
resting her finger on a pearl
The sky above has stained her pearl
The eyes so blue
they’ve bled into their whites
Who thought her eyes and pearl and sky?
What memories bind them?

Marlena Maduro Baraf‘s stories and poems have been published in Sweet Lit, the Ekphrastic Review, On the Seawall, Night Heron Barks, Poets Reading the News, and elsewhere. She immigrated to the United States from her native Panama and is the author of the memoir At the Narrow Waist of the World and co-author of Three Poets/Tres Poetas. She writes the newsletter Breathing in Spanish on the Substack platform.

“Underdog” by Gale Acuff

I have two broken legs and my dog has
mange. I can’t walk, and he’s losing his hair,
or fur, or whatever the hell it’s called.
I’ve been bowlegged. My parents agreed
to an operation to straighten them,
my legs, I mean. So at the end of school
and the beginning of the summer of
’71–I’m 15 then–I’m in
the hospital for ten days. Back then, they
straightened legs the old-fashioned way–sawed them
below the knees, reset them, put me in
irons–casts, I mean–all the way up to
my groin. Have to piss, I use a pitcher.
When I need to dump I have a bedpan
that my mother helps me with. A shit job,
for sure. I can hear her emptying it
into the toilet. Wonder if she looks.
If she vomits, I never hear her. She’s
81 now, in 2005; she
lived through me. Once a day my sister sets
Pogo, my mutt, into the bathtub. She
says he never fights the water. She has
some mange shampoo. Not that she has mange, too.
First, she rinses him. Then she lathers him.
Rinses. Repeats. She towels him dry. She brings
him to me on my cot. He drops from her
onto my impenetrable plaster
feet. You stink. It’s those vet’s chemicals.
Fur–hair?–is missing in a large patch on
his left flank. His skin is purpled. I love
him. He’s going to die but not the way
I expect: Father will wheel me outside
–he’s helped me lift myself into my chair
–and sits with me. He has his Atlanta
–“covers Dixie like the dew”–and
“Piney Woods Pete.” Piney Woods Pete says, Dear
Mr. Editor. . . .I can’t see the fine
print. Something about ‘Nam veterans and
hippies. Where’s the dog? I need some codeine
again. The sun is hot. Hell is my cap?
Son, he says, the spread pages of Section
A shielding him, this morning I found your
Pogo, run over. I went and fetched him
and buried him before I left for work.
I’m sorry. A good obituary,
I think. Oh, I say. Well. I see. All right.
Soon I’m asking to go inside again.
I’m on my back when my sister walks in
to say she’s sorry that the dog’s gone. Thanks,
I say. I’m okay. He was a good dog,
she says. I’m sorry that you bathed him
for nothing. Oh, it was not for nothing,
she says. He liked it and it meant something
at the time. What did it mean, I ask. Oh,
you know, she says. We had hope for him. Hope
didn’t have the mange, I say. Hope didn’t
get smashed by a car. True, she says. But we
didn’t know that then and we couldn’t just
do nothing. You can’t give up. I ain’t gave
up, I yell. Sorry. I mean that no one
knows the future and yet we’re all going
there. I mean, zap–Death. What kind of future
is that? Well, she says, it’s like you escape
death . . . by dying. Yeah, I think I get you,
I say. Like death is inevitable–when’s
what scares us. I’d like to die by being
run over. But first I need to get back
on my feet. I don’t wanna leave like this.
You won’t, she says. At least, I say, you don’t
have to wash the dog. Now I’ve got nothing
to do this time of day, she says. Problem
with this family, I say, is that no one
ever dies, except for dogs, cats, and fish.
And that rabbit of yours, and the chicks that drowned
in their water dish. And the frog we found
on the road and rescued and then it croaked.
I mean, if it happened to us, somehow
I’d be happier. Well, you wouldn’t be
happier, she says. Just wiser, maybe.
I reach for my copy of Doom Patrol.
Negative Man, Elasti-Girl, and Robot
Man, and their wheelchair-bound chief, Niles Caulder.
They’re braver than I and not even real.
And anything bad that happens to them
doesn’t matter because they have no life.
Why do I feel so low when they go down
and am dissatisfied when they get up
again? They must live in Heaven. I half
expect that dog to leap across the page.
Mange Mutt, maybe. Doom Dog. Patrol Pup–I
keep naming him and he will never die.
Somehow I wish that he had never lived.
Maybe, I repeat. He was a good boy.
Kind of stupid but smart enough to die.
I figure he’s looking down at me now
like he’s waiting for me to throw something
for him to chase. A ball. A stick. A bone.

Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in a dozen countries and has authored three books of poetry. His poems have appeared in Ascent, Reed, Arkansas ReviewPoemSlantAethlonFlorida Review, South Carolina ReviewCarolina Quarterly, Roanoke, Danse Macabre, Ohio Journal, Sou’wester, South Dakota ReviewNorth Dakota QuarterlyNew TexasMidwest QuarterlyPoetry MidwestWorcester Review, Adirondack Review, Connecticut River ReviewDelmarva ReviewMaryland Poetry ReviewMaryland Literary Review, George Washington Review, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Ann Arbor ReviewPlainsongsChiron ReviewMcNeese Review, WeberWar, Literature & the Arts, Poet LoreAble Muse, The Font, Fine Lines, Teach.Write.OracleHamilton Stone Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, Cardiff ReviewTokyo ReviewIndian Review, Muse India, Bombay ReviewWesterly, and many other journals.

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 Jessica Whipple


When do we stop wanting
to go up into things?
When I was ten,
we went inside the St. Louis Arch.
My brother and I rode the tram
like a caterpillar along a stem
that bends under its weight.
At the top we looked out the windows
and felt we had grown wings.

Next summer at the Statue of Liberty
we learned the crown was closed.
He didn’t care. He was older,
bored by the seeming-smallness
of brothers, cities.

Following the interstate
we took decades earlier,
I’m on my way again.
Can the drear of adulthood
really be this obvious:
The gas station where my brother and I
got Big Apple keychains and Bugles or Combos
or some other past-its-heyday snack,
even that is somehow worse-off now,
overtaken by weeds.

Behold the Pawpaw

A secret delight grows native
to our PA home: The pawpaw,
left from another time when
indigenous people foraged, built eel weirs
in Susquehanna symbiosis.

We traveled highways to a pawpaw sale,
stood giddy in a (socially-distanced) line
hustled home snuggling Potomac, Shenandoah
in crinkly brown bags heavy with hope in the promise:
Tropical flavor, banana plus mango, creamy inside.

Because we were bored, lonely
worn out from pandemic living
couldn’t help feeling
these Prehistoric-looking trees
persisted for ages in the understory
destined to bear fruit for us
yellow flesh was ours to discover
floral scent set free to fill these nostrils.

So we read blogs, Food & Wine
hungry for joy, novelty.
Pawpaw ice cream
would redeem lonely summer days.
Pawpaw salsa would salve our restless souls.

At home I sliced one open
revealed an eerie smile of black seeds
—this will be good!—
glistening flesh like overripe melon
—I can’t wait to taste!—
But if I’m honest,
what I discovered
was twenty-seven dollars
of soapy, slimy mush
not at all tropical
And if I’m honest, I was foolish
to think a fruit could save us.

Jessica Whipple is a writer for adults and children. Her poetry has been published by One Art, Nurture, Ekstasis, Rathalla Review, Stanchion, Door Is a Jar, and Pittsburgh Quarterly, with some forthcoming in Pine Hills Review and Anti-Heroin Chic. Her debut picture book, titled ENOUGH IS…, will be published March 7th, 2023, by Tilbury House, and another titled I THINK I THINK A LOT by Free Spirit Publishing is forthcoming in August. To see more of her work, visit or follow her on Twitter @JessicaWhippl17.

“Halloween, 2019” by James Croal Jackson

Now that I live on a well-traveled
street, you’d think I’d pass candy on
the designated day. I was at
Shady Grove for the first hour.
The servers were vampires,
I was wearing a poncho.
The lights were off (how I like it)
when I got home, not a soul in sight.
And it was trash night. So I gathered
the usual garbage and recycling,
set it by the door. And when I opened
it a kid vaporized from nowhere
chanting trick or treat! trick or treat!
give me something good to eat!
Staring at me carrying white
marinara-stained bag and a baby
blue bag in the darkness
of the porch and I said,
I don’t have anything,
thank you– I mean, sorry.
In my navy sweatpants
I walked briskly to the curb,
the wind wanting to push me
toward the black gravel of the road
but I swiveled the direction
of home. A gaggle of swan tweens
flew toward me! I covered my face,
put my head down, walked up the blind
trio of stairs far from the rustling
footsteps and laughter and wind
and turned the living room light off,
shawled myself with the couch blanket
and reached for a crinkling half-bag
of factory favorites, a Milky Way
or Kit-Kat somewhere on my rug.

James Croal Jackson is a Filipino-American poet who works in film production. He has three chapbooks: Count Seeds With Me (Ethel Zine & Micro-Press, 2022), Our Past Leaves (Kelsay Books, 2021), and The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights, 2017). He edits The Mantle Poetry from Pittsburgh, PA. Find him at

Two Poems by Jodie Baeyens


“I don’t want to disappoint you,”
He says as he tries to convince me
He’s not perfect.

As if I think he’s perfect.

With that crooked nose
That causes soft snores

That head that surely
Makes his Mama’s hips still hurt

Though damned if I care
About those things

The wounded puppy heart
So big and so broken
Capable of love
But scared to love anew

And those eyes
Brown in some light
Green in others
A bursting star of both
When the sun hits just right
Are not conducive to
Quick poems about gazing
Into your lover’s soul

I could sit and list his flaws
As easily as I list his graces
With the depth and detail
Only a poet could convey

And find no more
And no less
Beauty in either

No, he’s not perfect
Nothing worth exploring
Ever is


The shirt you gave me
When I left
No longer smells like you.
You took it off with a sad smile
And handed it to me to place
In a Ziplock bag
As you did before every trip.
You knew I didn’t
Love you anymore.
You knew that I was never
Coming back.
But it brought comfort
To us both, going
Through that same routine.
At first I pulled it out
On lonely nights and inhaled
The scent of sweat and cigarettes
And a life left behind.
Eventually it got mixed
Into the pile of clothes and
Placed in a drawer.
You called last night
To tell your kids you love them
And sent a picture of your sad smile
When they, too busy to come to the phone,
Told me to tell you they love you too.
Today I found that shirt.
I buried my face in it
And inhaled. But there was
Left of you.

Jodie Baeyens is a single mother and poet who teaches to support her writing habit. When she isn’t trying to find the pen she was just holding, she can be found in the forest dancing beneath the full moon. Originally hailing from New York, she now considers herself a citizen of the world because she has never felt that she belonged in any one place. Her poetry was recently featured in Door is a Jar and in Peregrine’s Fall Journal. Her forthcoming chapbook, Conversations We Never Had, was the Winner of the 2022 Vibrant Poet Award. Follow her writing at or on Facebook.

Two Poems by Damon Hubbs

Doll Country

In doll country
we are building a miniature
replica of our home,
a nutshell study
of rooms and hallways
forensically scaled
and measured.
There is hot and cold water
and a garage with cars
with running motors.
The locks on the doors
and windows work
with the mimed precision
of a Black Forest cuckoo clock,
its bird call and woodland scene
of hares and deer like the summer diorama
we watch from our backyard patio,
the moon as small as a penknife
in a polymer sky.

In the miniature replica
of our home
in doll country,
tiny felt tiebacks hold open
a repository stage-set with unburials—
like hunger stones revealed
in a drought ravaged river,
they tell us to weep.
Our visitors are entertained
and delighted
by our small sufferings.
And to think
that the parch marks
suggest something more—
a nesting doll
persisting, outliving us
and returning with the dark force
of sleeping giants.

“Doll Country” was first published by Roi Fainéant Press.

High Summer

We’ve jumped for centuries
clocked to the theurgy of stone and water.
Poised on the lip of the quarry’s dark summit
preparing backflips, readying cannonballs—
the spring-fed water bracing to skelp our skin
in its oozing crater.

To dream before the bending of the sky,
between the source and the mouth
is like an hourglass tipped on its side—
a bulbed, two-headed flower
as iridescent as a rainbow worming passage
through the submerged shadows of the quarry-cave.

Looking into the gold, and beyond the gold
and already the moment has passed.
Sun floaters drift like spores
threshed from an ancient combine.
The sky cataracts with thunderheads

and sudden death cap currents prickle
and sting the horizon.
The wind’s hot, buzzing swarm
gathers on our necks
and rankles our distant reflections.

We’ve jumped for centuries
clocked to the theurgy of stone and water.
Preparing backflips, readying cannonballs—
youth unfurls behind us,
and summer’s shadows lengthen
like dragon wings thrashing against extinction.

Damon Hubbs lives in a small town in Massachusetts. He graduated with a BA in World Literature from Bradford College. When not writing, Damon can be found growing microgreens, divining the flight pattern of birds, and ambling the forests and beaches of New England with his wife and two children. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Book of Matches, The Dawntreader, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, The Chamber Magazine, and Young Ravens Literary Review.

Two Poems by Ann Taylor

Taking Care

The white-haired custodian
helps me with hauling my hi-fi
to my second-floor apartment,

a studio, with one door
and a window too high
for jumping.

At the first landing, he gestures
me to the window. Come take a look.
Down there. On a cement slab,

a man in powder-blue sweater lies
face-down, arms spread into wings,
legs buckled backwards.

The cops think he jumped from up there.
I step back. Nothing to be afraid of
. . . only a dead body.

I had just exchanged my unlocked
family house for a dim hallway
of numbered doors, chain-bolt rattles.

And my futon, lobster trap table,
Chianti-basket candle holders,
Night Hawks in the kitchenette

fail to make here a home,
until Sven delivers from his stash
in the basement, four glass blocks

to hold up my door desk.
I thought they’d work.
He switches on my desk lamp.

Knowing he and his wife
dwell just beneath me,
among pressed cottage curtains,

cream cakes, and Hummels,
I brave the cobwebby back staircase
from my car, sleep better.

All summer, he places orange cones
in my space behind the building,
shoos away Red Sox fans. They’ll park

in your living room, if you don’t
lock your door, and without a word,
sweeps bottle glass

from his immaculate front steps,
trashed by my out-of-hand
student party the night before.

Later that night, he taps on my door,
jingles the keys left outside in my lock.
Thought you might need these.

America’s Main Street

On three-hundred-mile car days,
the water in our portable
window AC hotter
than the summer blaze,
my sister and I whining
for a pool – any small oval
dug before a rustic motor court,
screen doors slamming in the wind,
outhouses at the rear.

Our always-new,
pastel-with-white-stripe De Soto,
yearly cruising Route 66 –
its ruler-flat horizons, endless cornfields,
no-stoplight towns, stormy vistas,
Triptik detours, Burma Shaves,
cut-out blondes and jackrabbits,
cowboy mannequins, trading-post
warnings about baby rattlers,
knotty pine everything.
And soaring over it all,
the flying horsepower
of the Mobilgas red Pegasus.

Those rattlers, a dusty array
of plastic baby rattles in a cage,
casting doubt on our genuine arrowheads
carved by the braves themselves
and on our authentic fossils
and gold nuggets.

My mother saving for, planning
those neon-lit, root beer, carhop,
stalagtite-mines, wigwam weeks,
and my father, the only driver,
delivering us intact to all of it,
master of macadam.

Oh, to cruise once more with them
this singular street, they too singular,
to thank them for their ongoing gift –
my roadwise, wide-range awakening.
Pool irrelevant.

Ann Taylor is a Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Mass. where she teaches both literature and writing courses. She has written two books on college composition, academic and freelance essays, and a collection of personal essays, Watching Birds: Reflections on the Wing.  Her first poetry book, The River Within, won first prize in the 2011 Cathlamet Poetry competition at Ravenna Press. A chapbook, Bound Each to Each, was published in 2013. Her collection, Héloïse and Abélard: the Exquisite Truth, published in 2018, is based on the twelfth-century story of their lives, and her most recent collection, Sortings, was published by Dos Madres Press, in June 2020.  She is currently at work on a new collection of poems, called Taking Care.