Three Poems

Russell Rowland

view from porch late autumn
Photo Credit: Beth Punches

White Gloves

When the bullet hit (she never heard
the shot) she fell among the leaves
of autumn, to die as they had died,
right in her own backyard: thirty feet
from home, eighty from the woods,
says the police report. It was the talk
of central Maine. You may be aware
of that moisture in eyes when folk
feel sympathetic: this did not appear.

Recent arrivals from New Jersey, he
retired from Princeton, she his wife;
no hunters, not a gun between them.
The hunter, local man, given benefit
of the doubt—lack of judgment firing
near a residence less harshly judged
than her wearing of white gloves
outside, in season: a kindergartener
would know better. Her widower
returned to New Jersey. No charges
were brought against the hunter, who
must be elderly today, if still alive—
outdoor days past, rifle hung above
the fireplace; his bag, from forty-plus
seasons: no deer, but one housewife.


I Can’t Lose

Brown-sugar-colored slush sprays up
into the wheel wells as I drive downtown
in January. You’ll notice where the rust
has started, on a sedan ten winters old.
Still my cheeks are rosy, humor high:
if spring is soon in coming, our delight
at the crocus’s diffident emergences,
at the songbird’s acrobatic cartwheels,
will not be unacceptably deferred—
but if time slows to the crawl of plows,
and repetitive snowfall effaces walks
we just shoveled, so that April, May,
June are delayed in transit—well—
the terminal illness, the last breath,
while daughter kneads a tissue, and
son-in-law glances at his watch,
may get pushed even further back
in this many-seasoned century.
I see me winning either way.



After weeks of stoicism and tuneless whistling,
Barney finally broke down over Adeline’s box
at the edge of six cubic feet of topsoil, severed
worms, about to separate him from his pretty girl
of sixty-two years. We looked away, embarrassed,
looked instead at the dirt: restful emotionless stuff,
with its potent sexual fecundity: almost any crop
can grow—except another Adeline won’t come up.
The blindness of topsoil, against our open eyes,
the deafness of it, working its way into our ears,
the dumbness of it, impacted in our throats,
the impartiality of it, burying sinner next to saint—
we well understood the blackness inside Barney’s
one suit, as he in turn began to concede to the dirt,
to trust it with Adeline; to walk away, let her melt
into dirt forever, as into the arms of another man.


Russell Rowland is from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region. A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he is a past winner of Old Red Kimono‘s Paris Lake Poetry Contest and twice winner of Descant‘s Baskerville Publishers Poetry Prize. His chapbook, Train of All Cabooses, is available from Finishing Line Press. Email: abba456[at]


Agholor Leonard Obiaderi

Ferris wheel
Photo Credit: Grauke/O

I am, therefore
I exist?

I seek pain in the
whirlwind, dust scraps,
sticks and stones

hurt me turning
free-will me into
abandonment. I am

on my own. Trapped in a
wheel spinning
flick switch, a

compass. Nature whips up a
dust storm. I am

lost. Needle on a calibrated
moon face of glass
is useless in a maze
buried deep in the bowels

of the earth
from the dust
clay which forms my bones.

I step over the rubble
nail-teeth pierce my naked
feet. Pain

bleeds my soles.
I do exist.


Agholor Leonard Obiaderi holds a Bachelor’s degree in the English Language. He lives in Delta State, Nigeria. He loves poetry, crime novels and wrestling. His poems have been published in UptheStairCase Quarterly, Barnwood International Magazine, and Shortstory Library. Email: obiaderi[at]

In a Guatemalan’s Village

Salvatore Marici

Soccer Ball
Photo Credit: Jarret Callahan

Whitewash on an adobe wall
silhouettes the spikes in his black hair
and olive skin.
His shirt has white and green bars
resembling a World Cup jersey
as he suspends his body
over the dirt street
readying his right foot
to kick
the blue-and-yellow ball
before it bounces
without him thinking
because his parents
do not have money,
doctor nor drug to
kill the gangrene in the left leg.
A metal crutch, his appendage,
propels him to practice—
acquiring skills he needs
to play soccer with the pros.


Salvatore Marici has had his poetry appear in several magazines, anthologies, and web journals including Off Channel, Slow Trains, Descant and Sweet Lemons 2: International Writings with a Sicilian Accent (Legas, 2010). He was the 2010 Midwest Writing Center’s poet-in-residence. He has a chapbook Mortals, Nature, and their Spirits (Ice Cube Press). A new collection is forthcoming via Ice Cube Press. Email: vinoyajo[at]

Four Poems

B.T. Joy

Photo Credit: John Carleton

The Sifting Of Rain

the sifting of rain
and again the world enters
this small room at night
the outer and the inner
in constant interplay
and the sway and bend
of light through glass
even alone
I’m together
with the talk of water
over dark green leaves
in an unfamiliar garden
familiar weather
sweeps northward on the wind
tonight I thought
the ceilings tore and trembled
such a shadow seemed to weigh,
from where I lay, its colossal heaviness
above my head
and then turning to the bedside lamp
I saw the tiny wing, transparent and fluttering,
on the naked bulb
this will be the way with things
and that remembered death I feared
in childhood’s first breathlessness
will never come
nor the one I fear tonight
warm and enclosed
from the climate’s harsh tenderness
in this same way all things
have lost their meaning
so that when I say
now that I have had enough
I speak no more regarding pain
but of blessings sure
and soft as rain


A Common Drift Of Snow

through cotswold glass
snow is falling on the white lawns
obscured from sight
we only see the flurried shadows;
their journey in the wind
and even in December air
each dusting lasts
just a moment
I sit, indoors,
and think of things out there
that gleam their own
unmirrored shapes
and then are gone
they will try to tell you too
that you are worth nothing at all
to react is to cast
a shade of truth
on an utter fallacy
instead be
what you can’t help but be;
the intricacy of frozen water;
a perfect instant caught
in the vision of the world
see clearly,
you are no more insignificant
than any particle of this wonder
wanderer or stay-at-home
scholar or craftsman, both
or neither
you, keeping your promise,
are the keeper of promises
standing beneath the open, winter sky
you, breaking your promise,
are the breaker of promises standing
beneath the open,
you, unblemished,
can’t step one foot from beauty
and I love you
like the air loves the snow
we have touched, so briefly,
but that briefness is so long;
known each other so imprecisely
yet inhabited, these constant years,
a common spirit
so let’s try
no more to be understood
not now, with our gentle gurus,
their pale, cotton dresses wheeling,
as they come in hosts descending
from heaven to the cold earth
hidden from sight and yet not caring
what patch of land receives their gift
and what breath of air accepts
their momentary light


Each Petal On The River

each petal on the river
is flowing somewhere
in this valley the levels of the water
are low throughout the year
and we struggle to imagine how
anything can rise and travel down
again from the mountain foothills
to seas that hush in constant stillness
but each petal on the river
is flowing somewhere
the tree, in spring’s lateness,
relinquishes that weightlessness
it drifts, scattering pink in sunlight,
and nestling where the lotus flowers sit;
in the soft dimples of a new element
moving, already, where elder-blossoms went
and because each petal on the river
is flowing somewhere
your life should not be spent despairing
forever lost, and forever seeking,
the stream has always found its way
even without the petal’s constancy
and how do you know it is not the next turn—
where an ocean is waiting; to carry you home?


Open The Doors

open the doors
or better yet, have none
be permeable; a roofed shelter
through the harsh weather
start receiving pain
like a welcomed guest
the guest comes and goes
but the house remains your own
if agony is on its way
set another place at the table
prepare another meal and drain
the last drop from the wine bottle
leave this life
with an empty bank account
your eyes two wells of water
coloured by the fireworks above
leave this life
inwardly naked;
able to surrender to the slightest wind,
to your own most obvious antithesis
throw off that part that says this, or that
hear, like a remembrance, the single chord of Being
make a room for death
and death will sleep on the job
when it wakes, you’ll be gone already
irredeemably lost in eternity
or better yet, be there now
drop your name willingly, into that pallid hand,
like passing counterfeit coins
into the purse of the ferryman


B.T. Joy has had work previously published in Toasted Cheese as well as with such journals as Obsessed With Pipework, Presence, Canon’s Mouth, Paper Wasp, Bottle Rockets, Mu, Frogpond among others. Email: BTJ0005uk[at]

Two Poems

Rich Ives

Left Hand "City" Limits
Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson


What does the left hand know—
raised in a hill town…
—Jon Loomis
Friend of the blue black
milk pitcher’s snout
living inside the
not quite lost but
not quite anything else
and lifting
slipping its wet nose under
smoked eel with
horseradish and chives
still marching the eyes of
a sleepy blue village
the dreamers closed
something with wings
red cedar blue fir and
getting smaller
night descending
I take the dogs to
anything I’m busy chasing
the field to chase
my own thought
so low the dogs can’t hear it
I’ll let them worry it
if it goes to ground
right now they’re happy enough
to get lost in
something disappeared
whatever folly they were chasing
they’re milling around
in circles sniffing
they don’t care to know
each other and pretending
what it was didn’t escape
The crow’s cassock
a lascivious glimpse
flaring up
out of the darkness
we hope will excite morning
veiled in a soft green fog
streets will soon be
wet breath
edged with fish and soap
on three legs
a stray cat limping past
eyes its shadow
against the stone wall
quickly up then flat again
its lilt and stretch rising
as moonlight
alters and
considers and
no further judgments
I’m talking to you idiot
I’ve aged myself
as old as the idea of love
but not as far as love
I could have stopped falling
if I had known that I was falling
a conversation woven into the hush
to dream of it is to lose it
Human travail for example
as human achievements which
come to as little nearly
hold out against us and
could be greater than we are
perhaps we only leave ourselves behind
perhaps it’s true
in footprints
pointing to this place
because we’re in it
we don’t name
and we’re not done
not the ones who are
the bones behind
listening closely to
the next witness
There’s no home like the body’s home
that’s what both eyelids say covering up
the moon snug in the body’s branches
like a brand new creamy eraser
yet nothing is missing and nothing
is wrong all the lines all
the night’s returned shadings
right where we drew them
imagine the taste of it
a salacious insouciance indolent
and cunning which might contain
some indeterminate reward
for all that we have missed by being here
My body says
I have to admit
you never take me anywhere and
I’m embarrassed by
greetings with
entrances that seem already to be
the wrong hand and
headed home then perhaps
as if it were the landscape
redolent evening’s fleet
pausing and not I the
armada departing for
grander achievements than
clouds despoiled by clouds
the benign attachments of
having escaped
some tedious celebration
murderer fallen asleep in the
with the same drunken
cellar beside a
basket of turnips and the
hooking slow
tired joke
the same ride everywhere
it’s hard work
admiring a spectacular sunset
perfecting indolence I can’t help
gumming the day’s juicy corpse
some things are never
they do not happen so
fully imagined even when
many small creatures are
waiting for you to leave your body
Earth omelet sautéed
seasoned in mushroom
in the heat of summer flies
beetles and straw
steeped in urine wine
dust and in time
and dusted with
the stable’s divinity
whitens holds on like paper
those pages from the book
after rain and tears
of lessons overlooked
until in its place something green
splashes itself all over the air
and too new
like a belching flower
It’s so tiring
screaming apace
even from each other
What’s all the colorful
looking for
all Summer long
it’s lost interest
undergarments fly
singing colder
the right light
the way every Spring
this space is mine and
until the curious
shouting about
hidden answers
until the wind cools
and the next show starts
and the seed spills
now and angry
the way it waits for
turning itself
the leaves begin
shutting out the sky
wind wants to know
and turns them
over and back again
and pretends
and the gaudy cold
and the wind keeps
astounded at the
finally just
inside out
Patiently the left
music folded open above
interrupted by a few
hand waits at
the piano with its white
carefully placed shadows
that black door to the
broken keys
fingered between the
white lines accidentals
suddenly belong and
the one I’ve lived in
they call them
still holding onto that
but just now reached
right keys they
sound of night
with my fingers
and my body swaying
letting darkness ring
I’ll never get out
and my falling foot
if I close
and if I don’t
pressed down
the door now
I’ll never get back
My caretaker’s
the flattened rubber jowls of
old wheelbarrows sleeping on
their own deflated feet
what I like to think about
even now
the slow hole
is beginning in a pair of new shoes
it seems to be a café
and me staring straight ahead
filled with surrealists and goatees
and not dreaming I’m in charge
of myself I say scraps
like grocery lists
of my intentions still hanging on
I went in because it was in front of me
it existed and I hungered so badly
even if the moment wanted
to get inside the moment
as moments always do
to get out O my
it’s probably apparent that
brethren of the foolish words
I could use some assistance but
I never do that to myself you
wanted purposefully but
still seem to be holding on to something
you can’t remember what it’s for
I said everything I needed to say
that’s when I ran out of endless
it was not what I wanted to say
and we went our separate ways together


Native Son

Atlanta, 1928/2008
The terraplane brought another
crow for the sun crow for the moon
melancholy flew out from
those outside for
the future sped on
as small as my head
morning in the rooster’s head
crows for industrial advancement
its rhythmic wheels for
those left in the present while
there’s an automobile now
but you can’t ride in it
the children have always known this and they love it anyway
some of us are more practical and
last night I dreamed of Ivan
leaking sugar-water
father died and the
carver took Eleanor
I had the sparrows at my windowsill
back and forth
we miss our mule
and his eyes
Eleanor left when her
had children and
sometimes I ride back and forth
with the ferryman
we talk of what people carry and the only song is the wide water
a traveler comes and he asks
on one foot with a stove
and an ostrich plume in his hat
his mule is a clever soul and
the answer is passed
how far can a pilgrim walk
on his back
I like to tell him
he doesn’t hear
from traveler to traveler
I heard that the fever had taken her and her children too
accomplices were everywhere
and the wood ducks
and the beasts in the mustard
their sloppy dog tongues and licked
with stinky pleasures
violins floating from the bakery
but I was flummoxed and
I let some children out of me
until the quail
took their places again
fields brought back
my expression
scratchy and warm
and I knew they weren’t real
the clouds joined in
and they grew fatter
do not curse me and I will give you the unsuspecting dogwood blossoms
now yesterday’s song has gone
into the distance
back on itself like a snake
I don’t know how
I preferred to live with the pines
hiking up its rabbits
the road winds and turns
but will arrive
many have taken that road
and learned the sticky stories
someday the task of finding me will ask that you look under the earth
when it does I’ll leave a clue
that the game is over
I have gone any place you know
through the falling leaves
but don’t expect
and don’t imagine that
all my life I have been moving
further and further apart


Rich Ives has received grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. His writing has appeared in Verse, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Quarterly West, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Virginia Quarterly Review, Fiction Daily and many more. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Memorial Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander. In 2011 he received a nomination for The Best of the Web and two nominations for both the Pushcart Prize and The Best of the Net. He is the 2012 winner of the Creative Nonfiction Prize from Thin Air magazine. The Spring 2011 Bitter Oleander contains a feature including an interview and 18 of his hybrid works. Email: ivesrich[at]

Four Poems

Miki Byrne

False Honey ants on pumpkin - Prenolepis impari
Photo Credit: Ian Marsman

Ants in my Friends’ House

The ants formed a line.
Tiny bodies so tightly packed
That it looked like a solid entity.
Yet it moved. Wriggled and shimmied.
It snaked from the skirting board.
Flowed like a stream till it hit the wooden foot
At the sofa’s corner. The line ascended.
A million minute feet moving in unison.
Over the arm, under the cushion, down again
To the floor. Cut corner-wise across the Navajo rug.
Like a trickle of ink spilt upon the bright weave.
The ants flowed across the fireplace.
Then turned as one along the next skirting board
Before they disappeared into a hole.
The line diminished like a ribbon
Being pulled through closed fingers,
Till the last tiny creature had gone.
Out of the four people in the room
I was the only one to register surprise.


As I Walk Through Birmingham

I pass grey buildings where decisions are made.
Notice how the industrial revolution smeared
dark blusher on their ageing cheeks.
My stride carries me down the alleyway.
From the Art School, between the concrete cliffs
of the coroners building and Lloyds Bank.
The funnelled wind pushes me. My feet throb,
Damp with sleet. In Victoria Square litter flutters.
Crabs across the slabs.
Catches upon the modernist balls of stone
Where students perch in summertime.
My neck shivers under stray rivulets that stalk my spine.
I dare not smile. The wind will whip it away
Before I can blink the water from my eyes.
This city is high and hilly. Like Rome, or Edinburgh.
Cudgelled by wind and rain. I walk head down.
A hammerhead shark. Flowing over pavements.
Slithering through winter-wrapped bodies.
Gormley’s Iron: Man stands stoic in the falling pellets.
Misery oozes from the hunched backs of walkers,
who dodge into shops for ten seconds heat
and a newspaper they don’t really want.
I watch ice water spurt upwards from a fountain.
It gushes with Artesian splendour. Makes a sparkling umbrella.
The new one on my right ripples and slaps in the wind.
Broad as a lake. I dodge the spray and head downhill.
Through a corridor of lighted windows.
Past the praying mantis limbs of mannequins and stacked walls
of white goods. I enter a blue-and-yellow bus.
Full and fuggy with condensation. Traffic crawls and behind me,
the city readies itself for night.


Autumn Equinox by the Beach

The wind was in full throat, ragged and raw.
Birds struggled squawking into the unforgiving sky.
Great waves hunched their glassy backs. Stretched.
Then hammered themselves against great anvils of rock.
Shaggy flecks of spume exploded and drifted back
into the surge and thrash of waves.
Fine threads of lightning blued the curdled clouds.
As they bunched in thick knots. To be torn ragged
by furious gusts. Rain fell from all angles. Came at us
from every side. Landed like a box of needles
thrown into the air, to fall back and pierce the tender skin
of faces and backs of hands. The roar of wind and waves
thundered into our ears. Chased us toward shelter.
Prodded us forward with blades of fierce air.
Rain was buckshot against the roof and the whole house shook.
We hunkered down, resigned to waiting it out.
With a hot toddy on the stove and waterproofs by the door.
Just in case.


Eating Noise

I hear the noise of electricity.
Of plumbing. Of heat.
Traffic growls. Engines roar.
I hear you speak. In the distance,
A baby cries, a dog barks.
The sounds fill me up.
I am force fed. Offered a banquet
from the city’s mouth.
Yet all I want is a simple diet.
Of silence.


Miki is the author of Nice-bits & Hissy-fits and Mackerel Sky. Miki has had work included in over 120 poetry magazines and anthologies. She has won prizes for her poetry and has read on both Radio and TV and judged poetry competitions. She has had ten short stories published to date and contributes articles to magazines. Her new collection Flying Through Houses will be available from Indigo Dreams Press in the autumn. Website. Blog. Email: mikiandharry[at]