the biggest ball
No discontented lovers
struggling with rope
anxious to be free.
waiting in ambush
for that special
twosomes and threesomes
like old sneakers.
Just a ball of
than the town
Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. His recent publications have or will appear in Evening Street, Better Than Starbucks, Flashes of Brilliance, SanAntonio Review, Softblow, Mojave River Review, The Broadkill Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Panoply, Algebra of Owls, The Blue Nib, Thimble Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, Borfski Press, Streetlight Press, Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, New Verse News and The Ekphrastic Review. He was nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2017 and 2018. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press.
The blank page is inspiration—
a silent beckoning
in the mind’s ears.
It is just like the ocean’s coy whisper
in a conch shell,
A toddler scampers across it,
leaving word-like footprints.
Lacking social concerns,
he builds sandcastles of
the wave grows toward
washes away innocence,
replaces it with complex
and walks away.
Planning My Road Trip
This will be epic!
I am planning my road trip.
(Who am I kidding? I am daydreaming.)
Really, I will have to be frugal
and pack light,
but for an extended adventure—
bring only essentials. Roll my bedroll
tightly, strap it
tightly to the luggage rack.
The saddlebags are filled
with necessities: road flares, inner tube,
a selective assortment of tools.
A duffel of clothes fit for all seasons
sits on the passenger pillion (rides bitch,
if you will),
which would otherwise be empty.
My route has been mapped out,
with various alternatives tossed about,
like a maverick or nomad.
I will visit forty-eight states
(and at least one foreign country) alone.
Of course, many things,
like consumables, I can gather
on the road;
beg, borrow, steal the rest. I will need
a pup tent and a Coleman stove
for the road-side campsites
I will sleep at to save money
on occasion, weather permitting.
It will be bare-bones and dirt-cheap.
(Yes, even in my dreams.) Now,
if only I still had my hog. . . . It won’t
be the same in an RV.
Growing up in Texas, Eric dreamed of dropping out of high school, but when the haze of adolescence cleared, he found himself in law school instead. After being a trial lawyer for a decade and a half, he ran away to Ohio, where he taught school and lived life for about a minute. Eventually, he returned home to help care for his parents. Eric’s poetry has been included in numerous collections, both online and in hard copy. In 2013, his prose poem “The Meeting Ran Long” was nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net anthology. His chapbook, The Good Parts, will be published in January 2020 by Finishing Line Press.
In those days of “The Ugly American”
and Gary Powers, his U-2 Incident,
we lived and traveled in Scotland and Europe.
It was mostly the intense teenage boys
who yelled, “Yankee, go home!”
or maybe the coal man, if you could
parse out a few understandable words,
who insulted our Canadian friends
by mistaking them for one of us.
Sure, speaking would give us away,
but how did they know us on the streets?
Walking with hands in pockets, some said,
or overcoats, a wimp’s shame
according to the hardy Scot
with his damp-to-the-bone chill and Gulf Stream,
not guessing Arctic winds and ices.
Years later, the writer was unmasked
in Austria without a word, without a pocket,
without a coat. “Because you smiled at me,”
the face of officialdom admitted.
“We don’t mind. It’s nice.”*
We carry our terrarium worlds with us,
never guessing how we seem, yet ever fretting
over imagined opinions. (My female generation
always tucking bra straps, hitching slips …
.”what’s a slip?” …while the young
shape their selfies and let it all show,
have different hang-ups.)
Is it American to always
go “spot checking” ourselves?
The Brit’s American joke back then
was the Yank, hand to mouth,
nose to armpit, checking for suspect odors….
checking….checking … is it only human?
only American?….. or only me?
*from Lynda Lynn Haupt, MOZART’S STARLING
Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in San Pedro River Review, Dryland, Pinyon, Commonweal, Southwestern American Literature, Pour Vida, Adirondack Review, The Maynard, Sanskrit Literary Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheet, Broad River Review, Fire Poetry Review, Homestead Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poem, Haight Ashbury Poetry Journal, Sandy River Review, Blue Unicorn, former people Journal, Main Street Rag, Pigeonholes Review, Poetica Review, Zingara Review, Broad River Review and others. She has published 17 books: children’s novels, legends and poetry, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from Virtual Arts Cooperative Press Purple Flag Series. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma.
He drives a truck. Eats at laybys
swigs down the daylight. Sometimes
he tilts his head lets out a snore
to fill the cab. He pulls things he will
never buy. His phone stays on mute
so he can watch migrating birds
as he drives down bones of tarmac.
Sometimes he goes to Burger King
or Costa. Burps on leaving.
He said he hates driving told his wife
over the phone. She told him to work
until he dropped. They argued for years.
He got home early one shift and found
a car on his drive. Then he realised
his wife was his neighbour.
He handed in his notice, got a divorce
and a new job in a bakery. Moulded
dough until his fingers ached.
Today he lives next door to his neighbour
passes her croissants over the fence.
But they never speak as she preferred
him being a truck driver.
Gareth lives in Wales. He had his first collection published, The Miner, by FutureCycle in 2018. He is currently doing an MFA in Creative Writing at Manchester Met. He has been nominated for Best of the Net. Gcwculshaw AT moonfruit DOT com
There are countries, states, laws, constitutions,
Bible, Koran, catechisms, versicles.
Multiple versions, different procedures,
corrections and penalties.
As if we, humans, because having spread ourselves
around our entire world, were diverse,
dissimilar, incompatible beings.
The truth, so little faced and assumed,
and indoctrinated with so little faith,
is that we came destined to keep alive
the flame of mutual and supportive love,
free from color, race, religion walls and borders.
We have had intelligence and culture to, unluckily,
only improve our mismatches and idiosyncrasies.
The longer we stay on this strange route,
we will be farther from the promised land,
that Canaan where milk and honey flow,
and evil has no place and hides,
defeated, confused and humiliated.
Edilson Afonso Ferreira
Mr. Ferreira, 76 years, is a Brazilian poet who writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Largely published in international journals in print and online, he began writing at age 67, after retirement as a bank employee. Nominated for The Pushcart Prize 2017, his first Poetry Collection, Lonely Sailor, One Hundred Poems, was launched in London, November 2018. He is always updating his works at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com.
Something happened here.
Beneath this tree, a pigeon’s worth
of feathers lies scattered among stones.
In the dazzling desert light, six white
strong-shafted quills designed for flight
catch my eye. I bend to pluck them,
take them home. Blocks away, near
her old apartment, hawks nest. Sometimes
I pass for a view of those high branches
that leaf and lose their leaves,
for a glimpse of hawks,
for a longer walk and the long run
of memories we made. But why save
these six feathers? A pigeon became
a raptor’s meal—that’s the story
I imagine—and why commemorate
a death I only guess has happened?
A souvenir is nothing but a wish
to preserve the evanescent,
a pretense of permanence.
Take, for instance, a seventh feather
I spotted as we stood sealed, embracing
beside a train. All the colors of ash,
it had come to rest between the rails.
I warned her not to reach
beneath the wheels to pick it up,
though she hadn’t moved to leave
my arms. Soon, the train would roll
away, but for now there was no
danger. So I let that feather go
and wisely made the most of one last
chance to hold her close. Now
six feathers lie scattered on my desk:
not the pure white I detected from afar,
not the white silence of a blank page
in the face of a myriad unasked questions
and too much left to say, but white
smudged pale gray at their tips and edges.
Still I keep them, to spite their lack
of meaning and the way they take me
back to a mid-October day, a train
on a westbound track, a woman I call
love, who promised nothing, and a lone
pigeon feather, gone. Lost forever.
Marisa P. Clark
Marisa P. Clark is a queer writer from the South whose work has appeared in Apalachee Review, Cream City Review, Foglifter, Potomac Review, Rust + Moth, Whale Road Review, and elsewhere, with work forthcoming in Shenandoah, Nimrod, Epiphany, and Evening Street Review, among others. She was twice the winner of the Agnes Scott College Writers’ Festival Prizes (in fiction, 1996; in nonfiction, 1997), and Best American Essays 2011 recognized her creative nonfiction among its Notable Essays. She reads fiction for New England Review and makes her home in New Mexico with three parrots and two dogs.