Allen Plone

Carnival on Camac Street, Philadelphia


summer slides in hot & wet

drags with it the carnival that grows

on the empty lot on Camac Street

where O’Conner & Fink & I sometimes played

stickball & where I stepped on a bee

my first sting      it didn’t hurt much

but the bee died

around the fallen insect

tents & rides    booths & caravans

overnight seemed to spring from the ground

replacing the dry grass  dead shrubs   with

colored lights  red  white  blue   lining the

midway  circling around & round the

Ferris wheel I was afraid to ride but if you

stopped at the top you could see all the way

to Birney School  where I’d return in the Fall

but now I was free   imagined running away

with the carnival because there was this

9 year old girl -my age-  so pretty & different from the

Jewish girls I knew who were my friends & because her mother

told fortunes in a shadowy tent lit with candles & because

walking down the midway each booth promised another chance

to win a giant bear to give to my girlfriend if I could

knock down the bottles or break balloons or

throw rings over the pegs each try just

a nickle  & ‘cause the carny smell led me to a

foreign land  fried foods cheap hot dogs

pink cotton sugar balls spun about a paper cone  & ozone

the spark of rides   the Tilt-a-Whirl  Bumper Cars  The Whip

enter the House of Horrors seated snugly tucked

in a rickety car its metal wheels clacking  sparking

hitting the metal doors with a stunning bang & you were

in a dark tunnel waiting for the witches skeletons

to attack   spewed out the back   with a whip-

like toss into the lights of the last fright –

the booth that sold tiny painted turtles 25 cents

that each year  I prayed would live forever but

never did always dying as summer ended



Like Other People


a complex distortion

face strange enough to be sold

odd enough to be called freak

he found refuge among those

who display their difference

under banners at carny midways

the misfits grifters roustabouts

whose otherness was more easily hidden

his true name lost  called by his shame

Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy  a Barnum gift

The Human Terrier –  the crowning mystery

of nature’s contradictions


normal folk felt better

knowing they were not him


Funicello made his misery a song

He starts to sing

Like a wounded hound

And the gals all screamed

And gathered round


everyone joined in the chorus

who cared there was a person

behind the hair

Bow wow, bow wow

Jo-Jo, the dog-faced boy

Bow wow, bow wow

Jo-Jo, the dog-faced boy


the howl so human

he cried as he told his friends

the truth of his desire

Eyes bugged out

Through a patch of wool

His face hung down

Like a Boston bull


all I want

is to be like other people


Allen Plone

When Plone moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia, aged 19, to continue college, the first place he visited, on that first weekend, was Cannery Row, in Monterey. A voracious reader his whole life and Steinbeck one of his favorite authors, it was his trip to the Holy Land. He walked the streets with Doc, and met all his favorite characters. No mystery why he became a writer. Allen makes his living in the film and television production industry as a writer and director. He holds a Master’s Degree Comp.Lit/Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and a PhD. History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Spent 9 years as a college professor, at San Jose State University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he taught Philosophy, Literature and Psychology and Creative Writing. He also taught screenwriting at University of Southern California, in their Graduate Writers Program before becoming a full-time writer/director. Allen’s passion is and has always been poetry and children’s stories. He’s combined the two in five of the children’s books he’s written; they’re all in rhymed couplets. He has published many poems in such journals as: Light Journal of Poetry and Photography, Moon Journal of Poetry, BTS Journal, The Sea Letter Journal, Celidah: A Journal of Poetry and others. He has also published several short stories, including “The Cowboy of My Heart,” which won the Rosebud Best Short Story award.

The Prison in Lebanon

The empty prison in Lebanon has become the cold winter hotel

of women and children who ran away from the burning bullets,

the splatter of fire, the heavy bodies.


They have come to the only shelter that the torn curtain

(Sunni, Shiite, Christian)

can bring.


The children break down and cry for their lost fathers.

They cry for milk and warmth.

Here in Wisconsin the heavy, wet snow piles up, dripping water.


In the dark gray twilight I look out the window

while our Arbor Vitae sway with the gusts of wind.

There’s the drooping, mournful birch, the tired, brown oak.


A cable of black wire gives me light, and keeps our house warm.

Then the lights flicker and go out. The furnace stops running.

I sit in gathering dark


and I can feel the house getting colder and colder.

In Lebanon there’s little food and no promise of heat.

There is not much I will do. There is not much I can do.


John Sierpinski

John Sierpinski has published poetry in many literary magazines such as California Quarterly, North Coast Review, and Spectrum to name a few. His work is also in six anthologies. He is a Pushcart nominee. His poetry collection, “Sucker Hole,” was published in 2018 by Cholla Needles Press.

Scott McDaniel

An I-40 Road Song


Rusting roof top words invite us

to change course and See Rock City.

On the radio, “American Pie” crashes into static.

I’m on my back in the back,

watching the traffic of tree branches pass.

Mom tells Dad to slow.


I-40 is an infinite list of options

that we won’t choose:

we will not stop for Casey Jones Village,

will not veer up highway 641 to catch

the Tennessee River Freshwater Pearl Farm.

We drive on by.


Tourist traps, Dad whispers, seemingly to himself.

It’s been too long since Mom has seen her Mom—

moms need their moms too, it seems

so we go on

through last night’s rain,

through Appalachian oaks,

through smoke-like fog,

through towns with crooked sheriffs

and newly constructed revival tents

through the silence between us


Finally, we arrive,

and after cursory greetings

and “you’re getting so talls,”

I find myself staring at the popcorn ceiling

from my grandmother’s couch,

eyes searching for passing trees

and signs for Hidden Hollow or The Mule

on the Cliff — Finding a shelf of unread books.



The Statue of Robert E. Lee Contemplates his Removal


When I see the forgotten,

the dirty ones pushing stolen

carts, their fingerless wool

gloves gripping tight to all

they have left, I find myself

thinking back to those

rat boiling winters

when supplies were short,

the mud was thick

and the men wanted to battle

only to pillage



Standing atop this pedestal

overlooking my namesake park,

I’ve seen more than one mugging.

More than one poet penning metaphors

in a comp book. Protests, wedding ceremonies,

artists, rapes…


to me it all looked like

death and sounded like the

burning howls that have haunted

me since the Wilderness. Death

didn’t die in the fields of Slaughter Pen Farm

or the trenches of Richmond. It followed me

here. Just last week


I saw a car careen

and kill a child. The driver ran

around the wreck screaming,

it was all my fault! It was all

my fault. As if that chant

could change the choice.

I said the same incantation

at Gettysburg but learned

the dead stayed dead

and the dying kept dying.

I offered to step down,

tender my resignation

only to be refused so I

resigned myself to more



and more and I got so

Goddamn weary of it all.


Take me down.

For the love of God.

Take me down.



Scott McDaniel

The work of Pushcart Prize-nominated poet Scott McDaniel has been featured in Mad Swirl, Deep South Magazine, Oberon Poetry Magazine, Common Ground Review and The New Guard. He has read throughout his home state of Arkansas as well as Manhattan and Castletownroche, Ireland. Scott began writing poetry at an early age and was encouraged to do so by his cousin, award-winning inaugural poet Miller Williams. He lives and works in his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas; a city outside of Memphis that is highly influenced by the culture of the Mississippi Delta. His writings reflect the unique hues, quirks and broken promises of the modern south.

On Hearing ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ When You Don’t Have Kids

after Reginald Shephard’s “My Mother Was No White Dove”


I am not a Mom

yet Mom’s what they think.


I am a woman

and Mom’s what they see.


Adults write about their mothers

as if composing a greeting card.


Their mothers are kind, supportive

an inspiration even sixty years later.


People raised by troubled mothers

…those poems are rare.


Finally a poet whose mother was

“…the clouded-over night…”


When the young man returns my credit card,

says, Happy Mother’s Day! I am pleased

to think he does not know such darkness.



Mary C. Rowin

Mary C. Rowin’s poetry has appeared in publications such as Panopoly, Stoneboat, Hummingbird and Oakwood Literary Magazine. Recent awards include poetry prizes from The Nebraska Writers Guild, and Journal from the Heartland. Mary’s poem “Centering,” published in the Winter 2018 issue of Blue Heron Review, was nominated for the Push Cart Anthology. Mary lives with her husband in Middleton, Wisconsin.

It’s 1938 Again

it’s 1938 again, glass shatters

shards scatter, lives don’t matter

state sponsored murder sanctioned

and the constituents celebrate

and the constituents applaud


toxic rallies continue

hot coals are thrown into boiling

pots of ignorant meltdown ignited

and the constituents celebrate

and the constituents applaud


the fallout spreads

and the fallout is out of control

as ash and smoke hover like

low hanging clouds hiding our eyes

from daylight tempting us with madness


the morning sonnet of the Song Thrush

the nighttime chirp of crickets, the glitter

at dusk from fireflies are no longer only

cries of children cries of mothers

cries of fathers and weeping walls


blood runs in the street blood runs in the rivers

blood drips, drips, drips in the drains while mirth

reigns in chateaus, castles and towers tall, tall, tall

and the constituents are happy

and the constituents celebrate

and the constituents applaud


it’s 1938 again


Jerry T Johnson

Jerry T. Johnson is a Poet and Spoken Word Artist whose poetry has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies. Jerry often features at a variety of spoken word venues in the New York City area and he currently lives in Danbury, Connecticut with his wife Raye.

Andy Posner

In Whose Custody the Flags?


The flags are at full-staff

Though Jackeline is dead

Of dehydration

And the Guatemalan boy whose name

Has not been released

Is dead

Of the flu—

They died in our custody.

The flags remain at full-staff,

Their stars going dim with grief

As refugees beg

For a glass of water

Or a dose of Ibuprofen and Amoxicillin

On the kitchen counter,

Next to the bills and Church flier—

They died in our custody.

Just after Jackeline died

But before the Guatemalan boy

Whose name has not been released,

My son Richard was born

At a world-class hospital:

8 pounds 6 ounces. Apgar score of 8;

The birth announcement on Facebook

Garnered 160 likes and 47 comments—

They died in our custody.

In whose custody are these flags?

In whose name are they raised and lowered,

Repaired or replaced, honored or disgraced?

I ask because

Jackeline is dead

Of dehydration,

The Guatemalan boy whose name

Has not been released

Is dead

Of the flu—

And they died in America.

(Jakelin Ameí Rosmery Caal Maquin died at the age of seven on December 8, 2018 

My son was born on Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Guatemalan boy died on Christmas Eve, 2018 at the age of eight. He was later identified as Felipe Alonzo-Gomez

Written Wednesday, December 25, 2018)



In Polite Society


In polite society we hold doors open,

Say thanks and please, wear crisp

Suits when we drop bombs.

In polite society we shake the hands

Of blacks and Latinos and native peoples,

Smile as we strip them of their rights.

In polite society we wear bright jewels

Mined by slaves, decry slavery,

Tip generously.

In polite society we destroy the Earth

To make us rich, create jobs

That pay the poor to be poor.

And in polite society

We are never rude, never mean—

We murder democratically.


The Gardener


We have pitched an innocent man against the

Thousand blades of grass.

Once a week the battle is waged;

Each green sword glints with dew.

But our man is well armed: we have given

Him motors, gasoline, blades faster

Than the wind, and so he goes trampling

Because our yard needs taming:

He leaves the lawn strewn with

Wilting corpses—their rot attracts

A pair of curious bluebirds.

For the moment victory smells like sprinklers

And empty fields.

For the moment our house is in order.

Then a rainstorm soaks the earth

Like an oil-well run amok,

Wreaks havoc on gutters and sewers,

Floods the streets, knocks down trees,

Holes us up in our homes,

Where through windows we observe

Hope erase carnage.

A week passes and the proud grass

Again waves beneath the wind.

The grass has a human spirit that

Grows endlessly, sprouts from the soil,

And wonders why we bother to hire

Mercenaries to fight a war

That must never come to an end.



Andy Posner

Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.