While I was a girl waiting for life

to improve I did what I could, a ladybug

on her back kicking her feet in the air.


Dreaming of flight, I discovered

my mother’s hoarded stamps, unused

hodgepodge of American hope:


Skylab, Credos of the Founding Fathers,

Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Exploring the Moon,

Coral Reefs, Emily Dickinson, Collective Bargaining,


Energy Conservation, Robert Frost,

Indian Art, Osteopathic Medicine, Peace Corps,

Apollo-Soyuz, Save Our Water, Peter Max’s


Preserve the Environment, Robert Indiana’s

Love, which was all we needed, e pluribus unum

entreaties to the common good.


Doing what she never would, I organized

each intaglio prayer into an album, protected

by the verdigris majesty of our Lady of Liberty,


the infinite halftone dots within painting

a bigger picture to show me how

my pattern of spots might one day fit.


Broadening, I started to write the world,

sending scarce singles via post for stamps

on approval, something I could do while grounded.


Each month, the universe was delivered:

glassine envelopes opening like blurry windows to full-color

propaganda from the Soviet Bloc and African dictatorships,


perforated portraits of the unknown: Burundi.

Bulgaria, Equatorial Guinea, Fujeira.

The Maldive Islands. Tonga.


Some countries even marketed to the likes of me:

a 3-D moon landing from Ajman, scented flowers

from Bhutan, a peel-off diamond from Sierra Leone.


I could select scenes of the Montreal Olympics,

Japanese landscapes, cat breeds, Mickey Mouse,

gemstones, creatures of the African savannah.


Such power even a 10-year-old had

in her nascent geekery, to buy or reject,

the limited locus of my choices in those years.


I licked countless translucent hinges, fixing

them to sheets in my Ambassador Album,

“For Stamps of the World—Personally Designed by H.E. Harris.”


Providing brief colonialist histories for each country,

a world map on the plasticized back cover,

Mr. Harris taught me all I knew of the planet,


preparing me for when I would no longer be stranded.

He gave my curiosity structure while my mother slept

and shouted her nightmares.


Other children practiced scales or played Little League

for parents shaping their lives like sculptors. With my postage paid,

I carefully opened each colorful window and escaped


into the beguiling worlds then closed to me: page after page

of my meticulously ordered ambition, plans

for how I would right myself and fly away.


Lori Rottenberg

Lori Rottenberg is a poet who lives in Arlington, Virginia. She has published in such journals as The Dewdrop, Artemis, Potomac Review, and Poetica, and in anthologies by Paycock Press, Telling Our Stories Press, and Chuffed Buff Books. She has a series of six poems to be published by UCityReview in June 2022 and another poem to be published in December 2021 in The Moving Force Journal. One of her poems was picked for the 2021 Arlington Moving Words competition and appeared on county buses this spring. She has served as a visiting poet in the Arlington Public Schools Pick-a-Poet program since 2007, was an invited poet in the Joaquin Miller Cabin Reading Series in 2002, was a finalist in the 2006 Arlington Reads Poetry Competition, and was a recipient of Best Published Award in the March 2009 issue of Poetica. She is currently a writing instructor for international students at George Mason University and is in her second year of studies at the George Mason University MFA Poetry program.

I See Angels

The way clouds seep through in wings

Fringe of shadow After summer Fall camouflage


I see me

Outside a window looking in

My first baby

Sam the dog

Trusting Wandering


Snow Ice Branches littered Trees

From storms Bowed


I see snowmen and snow angels One more child

Packed in a snowsuit Dad on skates

Burning trash Sitting with a beer

On a summer night

My mother kneels

offers her flowers to bees Waits

One second

Another needy plant

Calls her eye


Small flutter Leaves

Petals rise light Hallowed breaths


I see the wooden man

Whirligig White canoe Saw cut

Feathers Slipped halo

He rides lopsided

Above my mother’s garden


Like a wing

One lone paddle

Lifts the sky


Sheryl L. White

Sheryl L. White is an artist and writer living in Boston. Her writing has been published in The Comstock Review, Solstice Literary Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, The Boston Globe, Split Rock Review, Great Lakes Review, The Woven Tale Press Journal, The Roanoke Review, among others. She was a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Finalist Grant and was twice selected for the Mayor of Boston Poetry Program. In 2019, she was a Pushcart nominee and in 2021, a Best of the Net Nominee. Her chapbook, Sky gone, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.

A Beach in Search of its Soul

The sun had already vanished behind

the lights, while we were busy arguing over

a meal gone wrong. I turn to the sea

after the goodbyes with no handshakes or

kisses. The bins aren’t empty yet, of

the plastic bottles and spoons, paper cups,

sandwich wraps, and other unnamable

stuff. A lone seagull hovers above, but I’m

the least bit worried. An artist, with a

fast-burning cigarette in his mouth, carries

his unsold paintings – ‘Jesus and Uncle

Mephisto on a Fishing Trip’, ‘Amy

Winehouse’s Inward Gaze’, ‘Self-Portrait of

a Frog as an Artist’ and so on – back

to the store that’s going to be his studio at

night. There’s a man persuading

a reluctant dog on a leash to get back home,

to end its inane engagement with

a piece of dirtied cloth that looks like

a headscarf that must’ve flown off

too far from someone who might not have

bothered to get it back, or to cover

their head again. I let the dialogues, tones,

gestures, omission of words, choice

of food, and length of sighs from my recent

memories lap against a receding

conscience. They froth over the signs, soon

to be washed off like footprints on

the sand; the very same signs that’d pushed

me to this vast emptiness where a stale

breeze caresses me, amidst what’s lost, torn

apart, stolen, relinquished, or thrown

away for no reason, to the smug black bins.


Jose Varghese

Jose Varghese is an Indian author who has worked as an English teacher in colleges and universities in India and the Middle East. He is the author of ‘Silver Painted Gandhi and Other Poems’ and his short story manuscript ‘In/Sane’ was a finalist in the 2018 Beverly International Prize. He was a finalist twice in the London Independent Story Prize (LISP), a runner-up in the Salt Prize, and was commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize. His works are published in Litro, Joao Roque Literary Journal, Haunted Waters Press, Tempered Runes Press, Cathexis Northwest Press, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, The Best Asian Short Story Anthology (2019 and 2021), The Best Asian Poetry Anthology (2021), Dreich, Live Encounters, Meridian – The APWT Drunken Boat Anthology, Unthology 5, Unveiled, Reflex Fiction, Faber QuickFic, and Flash Fiction Magazine.

A Silver-haired bat out of Hell’s Kitchen

took a shortcut through Central Park, stopping briefly for brunch

at the old sheepfold aka Tavern on the Green. (Ever hard to please

New Yorkers prefer Cavern on the Green). Well pleased he was

with the new menu from which he sampled the warm squid salad,


followed by a small plate of Cremini mushrooms with Cabrales cheese

and red chili. Since he was nearby, and the museums beckoned

he returned their calling there to hang from lights and ponder

the Phillips Collection, most especially the Rothko Room. Once more


filled with awe, the bat out of Hell set sail for the Guggenheim’s

Twombly collection. His favorite palate chaser after the quiet room.

No one expects a bat, one on a day-pass from Hell, to be out

during the day, much less face to face, with canvas and frame, although


some find the orange tinted sunglasses off-putting and over the top,

even for a bat out of Hell. As a card-carrying Patron level member,

he is entitled as such to see what can be seen, and often more.


Richard Weaver

The author hopes to one day once again volunteer with the Maryland Book Bank, CityLit, the Baltimore Book Festival, and return as writer-in-residence at the James Joyce Pub. His pubs: North American Review, crazyhorse, New England Review, Southern Quarterly, Loch Raven Review, & Poetry Magazine. He’s the author of The Stars Undone (Duende Press, 1992), and provided the libretto for a symphony, Of Sea and Stars (2005), performed 4 times to date. Recently his 135th {Ir}Rational Narrative, aka prose poem, was published. He was one of the founders and PEd of the Black Warrior Review.

The Mystery of Water

Scientists find strange black ​‘superionic ice’ that could exist inside
other planets – Argonne National Laboratory, 10/28/21

Water, vapor, ice – glass

half full, steam from the kettle,

frost on the windshield


I thought I knew what

I needed to know about

water’s phases


But now scientists crush water

between two diamonds and heat it

with a laser


It makes weird, hot, black ice

they say, and there’s lots

of it in the universe


Maybe it’s how icy planets form


Maybe it shows how much

we’re still learning, how much

we still have to learn


And if there’s more to know

about water, just think of earth,

air, and fire


Sally Zakariya

Sally Zakariya’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her publications include Something Like a Life, Muslim Wife, The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, and When You Escape. She edited a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table, and blogs at

Watching the Bats Fly Out

This time, I will begin at the ending.

That house burned in the fire

along with all of the others

in Larkin Valley.


But by then, the bats were gone.


I keep returning to this poem

that draws me to a late autumn afternoon

when my niece and I sat in lawn chairs

facing her house. Just after sunset,


a dark shape appeared

from a crack under the eves,

grew larger and left

on its jerky flight.


Then came another

dark shape

and another until

the bats had all flown out.


We pulled on our sweatshirts,

poured white wine

and waited for the stars

to begin their display.


Patricia L. Scruggs

Patricia L. Scruggs lives and writes in Southern California. In addition to her poetry collection, Forget the Moon, her work has appeared in ONTHEBUS, Spillway, RATTLE, Calyx, Cultural Weekly, Crab Creek Review, Lummox, Inlandia as well as the anthologies 13 Los Angeles Poets, So Luminous the Wildflowers, and Beyond the Lyric Moment. A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, Patricia is a retired art educator who earned her MFA at California State University, Fullerton.

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