Saturday, March 31, 2018

Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, had his twelfth poetry collection, Into The Light, released in April, 2017 by Flutter Press. He has been published in numerous national and international journals including Oyez Review, Red River Review, Sierra Nevada College Review, Oklahoma Review, Chiron Review and has appeared as feature writer in over a twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (

They did what they desired,
pursued a dream until it evaporated,
relinquishing then
to the arduous commerce of acquisition,
allowing sorted perspectives
and temperaments of trophy representations
to infiltrate an idyllic affection
that long ago dwindled
behind the guise of co-existence.
And now, they are here,
at a table of ruin,
years of routine impossible to amend.
Dinner is served,
the baked salmon drowns
in the clear glass lake of the plate,
the wine’s bouquet has wilted.
It has been decided,
the present has its promise,
it yields a blessing,
no expectation, no loss,
yet a place to go,
vague reasons to remain.
Creature comforts have
no hearts to break.

He stood there,
staring back at me,
odd expression upon his face,
smiling after I did
from the other side
of a huge pane window
on the newly renovated office building,
appearing a bit more disheveled
than I remembered.
More wrinkles
supported his grimace
and receding hairline,
acknowledging me
when I nodded hello.
I use to know him well,
athletic, sculpted, artistic,
a well defined physique,
but his apparent paunch
negated any recent activity.
This window man
I thought I knew,
musician, writer, runner, dreamer,
now feasted off the stale menu
of advancing age,
aches, excuses, laziness,
failing eyesight and an appetite
for attained rights
decades seem to imply.
Yet I accepted him,
embraced him for who he was,
aware that he would be the lone soul
to accompany me
toward the tunnel’s light
when all others have drawn the blinds.
“Walk with me,” I say.
He stays close.

Abandoned house, are there
only spiders and rodents
residing amid your rooms?
I see my distorted image
upon the fogged glass
of the old storm door,
and feel like a prowler,
appraising the value of items
upon your walls
or tucked in your corners,
when, in truth, I seek
to rekindle precious memories
and reconstruct pictures
the recent days
have begun to obscure,
events the rain of years
are washing away,
trickling indiscernibly 
through the pitted window
of my mind’s eye
as I rap my fist
against the glass,
hoping the ghosts will answer.

His little hole in the Boston skyline,
one window lined with soot
facing Fenway Park.
In the room overhead,
there was a clarinet
that stalked Stravinsky’s Three Pieces
every evening.
During the day it was mostly quiet,
the crowd on the sidewalks
resembled spiders in the room,
preying with thick overcoats
to catch the unsuspecting
in a web woven with smog
illuminated dimly with the little light
that penetrated building alleys,
so dark, he could only shave
with a lamp in his face.
Every morning at 7:30 A.M.,
students clamored on the staircase,
rushing en route to classes
at the universities
and colleges around the corner,
the clarinet player would flush the toilet
then turn on the shower.
Once in a while, a bird
chirped or tweeted, like a bell chime,
so close to his door,
for a moment, he believed
he had a visitor.

Beneath the dock
from which he casts,
the water is shallow and clear,
the sodden earth
that bears the weight of liquid
is speckled with shoots
that will eventually surface
into a stage upon which
the basso bull frog
will perform his aria.
Occasionally, a cloud of dirt
smokes the clarity
of the transparent lake
and his searching
reveals the tail fin
of a scampering bass
near the shore to spawn.
He sits and watches
amid the Spring warmth
and delicate breezes
which incite the lake
to gently slap the dock.
He no longer dangles the bait
to tease the unsuspecting,
no longer allows temptation to linger,
that same lure
which spurred him to seek
refuge and the simple poem
this silent swimmer
strokes with her fin.
To read her verse
within the enclosure of this cove
is the remedy by which
he turns from the commotion
in his own life,
a commotion he has no desire
to impart.

“Who told you to think?”
God asked,
we naked and intimidated
hadn’t planned this,
somehow it was here
and we appeared.
How should we address each other?
What should we eat?
Should we kneel or stand
in front of Him?
Our intentions are as different
as our bodies,
each with something to hide,
something extra
though apparent as we stare,
turn away, then stare again,
hopefully unnoticed.
His design confuses us,
we are leaves
attempting to negotiate a tree,
a flash of light
about to diminish.
He insists on faith
and loyalty,
we don’t understand.
Our minds are lassos
woven in questions and flesh.

JD Dehart

food for the vulture.
human beings are vultures
waiting until you're beaten down
close to death
before they swoop
to eat away from you
the very shelter you so carefully constructed
picking you clean
leaving a meager pile
of blood and bones
ready for the next scavenger
to come along and consume what's left.

split screen.
as I glare at the face
that looks at me
thru this broken mirrored reality
I see the scars, the wrinkles
the grey haired fool with eyes dark
as shit.
I can't recall every single thing in life
but I remember the best of-
the movements that meant more-
the embarrassments, the emptiest
the incidents no one else could retrieve.
everything is clearer
the world for me hasn't changed a bit
but now I come to the result
that there is nothing to sweat about
the truth is I've forgotten how to care.

check the weather.

dead space
interwoven separation
of the imagination and fiction
driven forward-backward
and somehow in reverse.
let's take in this interaction
with the burning buffalo
let the storm take the living
and resurrect the dead.
my mind is irredeemably demented
and for some reason I can't curb
the enthusiasm of my hostility.

the perfect flower.

and sound.

and delicate.

and carnal.

a woman.
a truly revised and brilliant flower.
the best thing any man could acquire
and the only one who has energized me
carried me over to a new horizon
brought me back from the void
I'd been falling toward all my life.
all that remains: nothing.
it's like a stain
shaped into one of the gods
of past centuries
and as I stare at it
I begin to lose
every thought I once had.
while I stand here
melting into a giant puddle
of my mind's filth
I can't look to see
what went  horribly wrong
for nothing more exists.
I am a broken mirror
I have no vision
I have no reflection
all that was left of me
has gone to the dark side of the sun.

Keith Wesley Combs 


I used to write a lot of poems that started with the words
'I look out my window' and would invariably get to talk
About the sea, the people walking pass and how it all affected
Me but here I sit and all I can see is a bulging stack of films
And a bunch of walls and the merest hint of a sky from the
Top of my window all offering very little inspiration until now.

Now I sit, composing these words, and look up and out and
The grey drabness is all enveloping from the shade of those
Walls to the dankness up there in the sky suggesting that
Spring still ain't arrived.  Occasionally I stand and the outlook
Ain't much better as then I get to see our awful backyard and
The one thing that truly inspires, the saddest looking plastic
Bear anyone will ever see.  He sits grimacing, just like me up
In my room, surrounded by weeds and a beaten-up bench
As if he knows he'll never escape and again I think he's just
Like me.  Sad, alone knowing that his situation will never change.


The dryness of January is soaked to the skin
On a Saturday night when nothing else will do
And the need, desire and willingness to just go out
Get blasted, get fucked up and stagger home
Could not be resisted and for once I knew from
The moment I left my room that
Sunday would bring with it horrible memories
And a head that hurts oh so much all because
This drunk knows just what drinks to get
To ensure some marvellous drunken fury
A pint of that, a double of that, another pint
Of that and simply repeat, repeat and repeat
Until the point where I know it'll be safer
For me to stagger off home than risk the
Stairs, the ever so steep stairs that if you
Should fall that'd be that and trust me this
Drunk just wants to keep on drinking
Saving the bitter end of dying until much
Later in this drunken life of mine.


The dog downstairs whines and wails
until, at last, the peace comes only to be
destroyed moments later by a harsh
barking fit that leaves me convinced
the poor thing is down there alone again,
just like me sat up here the room above
as his owners leave him to squat their
space allowing them time off to enjoy
their lives away from the worries of
being held responsible for something
more important than their Instagram
account which no doubt will be a dog
lovers paradise full of cute looking pics
of a dog about which they no longer
care as downstairs the wailing and barking
begin again, desperate for release and
freedom from this evil situation.


A smile creeps across my face
Smirking with the knowledge
That it is back, the muse has
Returned as the words come
Tumbling out.  This is the third
Sheet of imaginary paper I've
Destroyed this morning and it's
Still only just gone eleven and
That makes me so very happy.

Let's just hope number four is
Going to be better than this, I'm
Sure it will but now I'm just happy
To see these words flood out.


The weed crumbles into paper and tobacco
As i yet again prepare for another high
Just another high in a life spent hitting the ceiling
Dragging me towards thoughts of sleep
As the weed works its magic, a magic elixir
Destined slowly to drive me insane as
It grips me, sends me nodding all the way out

This smoke takes me out further than any i've
Smoked for years and years, out to a
Psychedelic wonderland of elevations and downright
Despair as it melts my mind until i can't
Understand what the hell is going on
And all i can think of is nothing, a blankness
That seems all consuming.


I was bored of my four new walls
So rolled a joint and decided to go for a walk
The night was closing in
And with summer here the air
Still reeked of its freshness
As I stumbled again along the seafront
As far along as to be near the pier
But then those girls I saw around me
They got me thinking, feeling horny
So I walked back to the street of ill-repute
The one named St James’s
I decided to get in one of the bars
The duck quacked at me even if only for a half
And maybe a shot at which point
I turn and notice there is no one else in the room
So out I go and spark the loneliness
I walk back towards my room
Smoking that loneliness whilst bored and alone
That is until I land at the door of my beloved tavern
Then it happens as a woman I recognise
She comes over and says “Hi”
Stoned and lonely I engage her in chat
She follows me in as I decide to grab another drink before she
Then follows me home, smokes some of my weed
And eventually she goes off into the night and with this one

I don’t really mind if I don’t see her again.

Bradford Middleton

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: The Broadkill Review, After the Pause, Unlikely Stories Mark V, All Roads Will Take You Home, The Piker PressStickman Review, Ann Arbor Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, London Grip, Morphrog 16, Communion Arts Journal, Otoliths, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.


Quietly a poem is keyed.
There is no hurrah
no hoopla.
As a rule
this or that journal
across the plat
will pick it up.
In imagined
stepwells of unrest
my incompleteness
pushes me to its belly.
The noggin holds this
jalopy’s gear box.

Sanjeev Sethi


When tellurian parleys are candy-coated
and cloying it is best to sift the stimulus.
That accomplished, welcome the company.
An adventitious brush with a polemologist
at the courtroom for his divorce petition
has me in a ludic trim. But I park a stay on
my tee-hee and censure the speculations.
Professional brief and the personal are at
variance. Is the inverse true? What about
skewing by the commentariat?

Sanjeev Sethi


Political parties are in the pursuit of turf wars.
They aren’t philanthropic outfits. Behind their
gimmick of goodness is the prospect of harvest
at the hustings. Seeking virtuosity in such a set-
up is witlessness. The dodge of living is driven
by mutation. Belle époque led to WWI, Jim
Crowism drafted the 44th American president.
The mahatma unshackled a two-hundred-year
yoke. Refinement is time-consuming. In short
order snarls will die down. Trenchermen will

Sanjeev Sethi


When imbued in imperfections
it is lame to locate
earthlings in arete.
Your renderings aerosol-like
in spray
penetrate my ruggedness.
Disemboguing is
acquittance and alliance.
Bond of skin
is a haptic shorthand,
glibber than braille
but as gifted.
When need for
paragon is peripheral,
it all stabilizes.

Sanjeev Sethi


To be likeable sans motive
is goodness, all else is a
transactional step on trestle
table of existence. When
steeped in downheartedness
He hoists us, three sheets to
the wind due to hubris He

Sanjeev Sethi


Cozing with you I surmised
you aren’t interested in my
interstices, lisp, and lies.

Straight stuff:
there is me, only me.

I must sit in with
monologues to self:
altercate with myself.

Sanjeev Sethi

Sunday, March 18, 2018


In the mornings when I look
Earth is overgrown
with exhaustion
with a sad insomnia

An ocean of plastic undulates
as if it were hungry
floating its synthetic island
grimy, oppressive

In the distance the horizon
looks ill, mountains are leaning
gathering weakness,
the seas long for new bodies

Before sunrise the dark sky
spreads out like a burial cloth
turning to black bones
I hope today is not my passing

After all, what have I learned,
what have I become?
What is left for the others
in the wake of my life? 

When I’m ready, I’ll give my body
to Earth as an apology
in hope for
a purifying release

If only to float in a hush
above water, trees, land
until everyone is gone, until Earth
is alone without loneliness

Cows Crows Mushrooms

The distressed moon gives off
the soiled illumination
of human trash. Its dust is over

Dirty moonlight depletes my eyes
like polar air
it freezes this dream:

in a field of cows and crows
long, skinny mushrooms
are magical gods

leading to this fable:
a confined messiah
with no magic left,
no sleight of hand,
no way out

If truth be told, eventually
everything splits apart

Sand Dollars

The shore is overgrown with sand dollars
as if crawling
and pulling the sand apart

Sometimes they look at me
like they have faces
Should I love them?

Mostly I feel nothing
toward their pale color
even more, I feel everything

Lowest of all is when
I walk the beach
crushing them beneath my soles

and after the waves come
pulling them out to sea
the starfish will finish them

What remains are
hollow sandy shells
worthless and poor

and I feel nothing
but this wet earth
beneath my bare feet

Somehow it doesn’t matter
wet or dry
it doesn’t matter

and this is enough for me
either way
it is enough falling apart for now 


Book Two: Epilogue

There may be ways to make
something from nothing
but I cannot
tell the difference

At Four AM this small hour
is not the passageway
it doesn’t pull me through
or deliver the spell

to compose the sound
of dawn conjuring itself
from the darkness
that deadens it

If light is the rising truth
then dark is
the kingdom of its ruler
the everlasting residue

If something comes from nothing
there may be hope
If something is nothing
dawn will fail to rise

and we can all huddle together
in our human anxiousness
waiting for the deliverance
of a new universe


Dah’s sixth poetry collection is The Opening (CTU Publishing Group, 2018)
and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Canada,
Singapore, Spain, Australia, Africa, Poland, Philippines and India. Dah lives in Berkeley,
California and is working on the manuscript for his ninth poetry book. He is a Pushcart
Prize nominee and the lead editor of The Lounge, poetry critique group. Dah's seventh
book is forthcoming in July 2018 from Transcendent Zero Press, with his eighth book
forthcoming in November 2018 from Stillpoint Books.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

wore off the shock
i remember when
columbine happened
and i was stunned
and every school
shooting after it
sort of wore off
the shock
the latest one
feels different
like the dumbass
picked the wrong
school or the wrong
time to want to be
of course, i'm sure
the NRA will have
a fortune or two to
spend to shut these
kids up for good
i've never lived in
a time where money
didn't rule everything
considered a grown man
another afternoon
with the old ladies
sadly, the pain is
much closer to the
same than i am
willing to admit
my mother warned
me growing up
would often
fucking suck
she never told me
it would still long
after you were
considered a
grown man
with a touch of blonde
i've always
had a weakness
for fine ass black
women with a
touch of blonde
in their hair
too bad it seems
like one that finds
poets with crazy
goatees hot as hell
simply doesn't exist
after the weekend
give me a bottle
of liquor and a
crazy woman
and i'll talk to
you after the
but it's only
my point
sweet memories
i can remember
pictures of you
from my childhood
i was never blessed
with the ability to
have sweet memories
it's usually nothing
but fucking pain on
top of more years of
fucking pain
yet another reminder
i should have never
stopped doing drugs
the powers that be
yet another
school shooting
18th this year
and it's only
and the powers
that be won't do
anything to stop
they know their
money flow stops
if they say the
wrong thing
and people dare
to wonder why
i'm happy i don't
vote and never
had any kids
J.J. Campbell

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Body of the Whale
 Burnt, engraved
slipped for weeks walking on
a shallow incline. I could not choose
my steps or wear anything but out-worn shoes.
I could only be this one way and pray
I was not being deceived.
After many falls and aching ankles, thumb-joints, landing-joints,
and my tears in constant flow, I decided not to move,
stay as a sunken root, let the mud flood
around me, driving me deeper into the stench.
Fears like a cord tied to my feet, tugging me down where even
undulation ceased and it was cold and simple, without cause
or mercy or chance of escape.
I am at the bottom, somehow still myself.
There are strange translucent reptiles brushing
at my extremities. No way to eat and no breath left to be had,
under here in this lightless territory, not much different
than the depths of space, than the place I was first born.
But there, I was one with the darkness, and the stillness of void
was tender, womb-like, all I knew. I will find that again here,
stop resisting, diffuse, painfully, but with the least amount
of rebellion or horror - dissolve like candy floss in a child’s
mouth until I join the blank weight digestive track,
welcome the bottom feeders and the algae pocket swirls
as my own flesh, until there is nothing left of me but this indent bed,
the space inside this bed that keeps my body. And soon
even that will fold over, coalesce, as though it never was.
I was a daughter. I am not anymore. I was waiting
on a personal love, rescue like a clean wave coming to
liquidate my mind. I am not waiting anymore.
I have no strength for hope, no heart
to withstand the hurt.
I break a part and I gather, honoring
the end of my pulse and its reign.
 Love is our master
The tone resonated the red heat
of a sea of lava burning away the dead cells,
activating a living substance. We held
hands, walking in the deserted late-December streets.
Ours is nobody’s but ours - broken train tracks carried,
dropped, put back together. The lapping wind of the spirit
like a bell in the far distance, calling us here, there
and always home.
Your pockets are full of roots, ones
you chopped from the ground, left there with no tree
or shrub to source its life out to. But those roots still thirst,
so you place them in a high jar in our bedroom, tend to them,
give them the attention of your brilliant mind, hurting
for their inadequacies. I love you deep in the hole and in
the twilight of an open summoning space or when locked
in desire, the two of us, giants without chains - the illusion of
isolation shed, heroes to each other’s loneliness, and the rising
of our blood that has no ancestry, no pastlives or this life before.
We are the keepers of this conversation. You are the place where
all my ships land, in the infinity of your eyes, a strong arrow spark
of awe-striking connection, where underground tunnels are excavated.
We are a perfect rub and flow, and we flow, fingers
over the tender inner thigh, mouths
braving more than kisses. We built a bridge and we crossed it,
holding hands, watching each other’s back. We take off our shoes,
a field is before us.
All animals are gorgeous, each with a full and necessary soul.
Animals peer out from behind the curtain of high trees
lining the field, waiting for us to run. We run
and twirl and lay down in laughter, like we once did long ago.
We are good just as we are. We are one at the knees and at the core.
Hell and the moaning of withheld mercy is far behind us,
we have been devoured and we dissolve -
our shells and our centers, seasoned, spring-woven,
what is ours, what is God’s, combined, surrendered.

Take the end of the root and
squeeze. Air is not wind or
a wave. Gazing into the darkest of eyes,
needs forgotten in the tale
of becoming something more than shape,
someone more than someone who rocks
in despair or madness.
I held you with my
mind and in my arms, held you broken and stoic
as all dangerous dreams. I was afraid to tell you
but I told you anyway and the song grew into a sunset.
Eaten by gravity, blurring in potency as it traveled
past the horizon. I saw
you were the willow tree, the pine tree and the birch
that scattered leaves and seeds throughout the large acreage yard.
I was a raccoon, a beetle bug and a tiny bird.
I moved through you, across you,
made my home inside of you. Can you see
how much of what was mine depended on yours?
When the yard caught on fire,
the fire seeped into my joints, extending into my aura
and all your seeds around me of brown and green.
Not a single day when I did not fight to keep your will and commands,
not a day without struggle to keep afloat, keep at bay the urge to
sink or draw the ravenous sharks near and nearer until
they touched - fin against my flesh and then something
You love me you say, but it is a love
I cannot understand. I know it is a love, colossal, ruthless
in its perfection but it hurts like withholding, hurts
as I try to adore you and be absolved by a mutual tenderness.
You are final and in this I have no say. I love you, but we are not
dancing. I trust you, but we are not
sharing with ease. I am left aching, in sharp
icicle-tip-pounding-lack, struggling to make sense and find “the law”
if there is no mercy to be seen.
I should be lucky to know you even as I do, as most
walk the Earth without discovering a trace of your existence.
But is there something new for us?
Is there a bouquet around the corner? A line we can cross and keep
on the other side? I give you my wings, my prints
and all of my sacred stones. Take me
into your softness or leave me here
on these barren sharp ridges. Between us,
there are no secrets, even my children
are freely yours.

Allison Grayhurst

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...