Second Opinions (after the visit)

Doctor’s words
swam around
her head
like moths,

and for a minute she couldn’t breathe. Leaving the cracker-white medical arts building she drove directly to the fast, cold river and dove in. There, standing in waist deep water she reached down to the stony bottom and began flipping rocks. Within ten minutes she had collected a handful of squirming, segmented hellgrammites. At home, in their Pepsi bottle aquarium, the invertebrates rested on a high shelf in the kitchen. Night after night she fed them from new recipes, as she worked her way through The Joy Of Cooking. In the background music played, never the same song twice. Later, she burned her clothes in a cardboard box alongside pictures of old friends and a once-upon-a-time husband. It surprised sales people when she arrived at a store in an old bathrobe and left in a new one. All the while, inside her, the benign tumor sat silently.


Travis Dolence

Travis Dolence is a librarian at Minnesota State University Moorhead. His work has appeared in The MacGuffin and the chapbook The Lyrical Librarian: Verses from the Stacks, published by Consortium.

After the War

The night was yellow. A city of light bulbs, ready to blow out. At the top, the Ferris wheel stopped sharply with a rust-covered clank heard across the park, and a woman screamed. Couples held hands a little tighter. A white-bearded man with missing teeth said it was the end of the world.


Meredith Boe

Meredith Boe is a writer and editor residing in Chicago. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Midwestern Gothic and Mud Season Review, among others. Her critique has appeared in World Literature Today, Chicago Book Review, and Chicago Stage Standard. She sometimes writes poems on a typewriter at events around Chicago with the poetry-on-demand group, Poems While You Wait.

The Thud of Escapement

It comes to me in the watch museum.

It’s weights, hammers and gears.

Action, reaction.

The thud of an escapement.

The dominoes of a story.


I stand inside a pocketwatch

and lose myself to inevitable design.


A plan well engineered

leaves nothing to emotion but the joy

of cog after cog, falling in track,

ticking toward the unalarmed achievement


of another hour struck. Zen empty time.


Our story is like a watch,

weights, hammers, gears.

Little gears for instant gratification,

Huge gears that circle in years with minute changes.


And I know that your actions are reactions,

along a path which matters like another hour struck.

Nothing personal.


Wren Tuatha

Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in The Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover a Literary Rag, Driftwood Press, Five 2 One Magazine, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Digges’ Choice, and the anthology Grease and Tears. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Lawrence Butler, herd goats on a mountain in California.

You Can’t Go Home Again


Returning to their home town after 25 years

was surreal. They got lost trying to get to

the high school. The ice cream stand they worked in

was now a dry cleaners, while Old Smith’s Farm

was gone altogether.



Looking at the photos posted by George

the old swimming hole back home is now a fancy

water park with diving platforms and a wave pool

and roller coaster slides such a blight on that old

small town charm and I think I’m going to cry.



Contrasting today’s summer of yardwork

house repairs, car troubles and no money

with his youthful summers of dating, swimming

ice cream stands and summer stock theatre makes him sad

with longing and knowing you can never go home again.


Michael Estabrook

Michael Estabrook is retired. No more useless meetings under florescent lights in stuffy windowless rooms, able instead to focus on making better poems when he’s not, of course, endeavoring to satisfy his wife’s legendary Honey-Do List.

James Everett

Hymn for Plenty


I believe in keeping what I want,

in dropping everything,

the briny taste of the sunset

yolking the raw meat of the trees.


I believe in throwing the baby out,

the jimson weed rolled tight,

waiting for moonlight, for a smoke,

a lithe trellis to tendril the air.


I believe in leaving it all unfinished.

It cannot be a deity until we make it

a deity, so nobody say a thing

about the wicked wisteria this year.


Something empty is something else

full, faithless, sunflowers

no longer turning away from shadows

to the light at the fencerow’s edge.


Miracle Pine

—after the Tohoku Tsunami


It survived the mess,

suspended over the splintered houses,

a last green asterisk to the Wave,

but then died shortly after.


I hear the townspeople plunked

a concrete likeness down in its place.

By god we find our ways to bring things back,

telling ourselves it takes a disaster.


An industrious bunch, we waste no time

fitting our handles to our little thumbs.

We get to work.


We blast, maim, pierce, and gut

to resurrect what we think should always be.

We fricassee and freeze out.


Afraid, we hang, starve, segregate, assimilate.

We neoliberalize and racialize—

memorialize, legislate, whitewash,

waterboard, roast, infect.

But most of all, we just make hay.


In fact, a man right now out the window

in the cold March will not yet give up

jackhammers some sidewalk into oblivion,

dreaming of his old neighborhood.


James Everett

James Everett has lived and taught English as a Lingua Franca for over fifteen years in the United States, Belize, rural Japan, and Malaysia as a Fulbright grant recipient. The people, languages, and landscapes of these places have led him to an inordinate love of international grocery stores, where Daniela, his daughter, Tania, his spouse, and he lose themselves for hours whenever their budget allows. Their kitchen smells of assorted fermented pastes, boiling daikon, patacones, tortillas from an old family recipe, Ecuadorian caldos, and popcorn they raise themselves in a community garden. Over coffee cups of pilsner and guayusa tea, they celebrate journals that have kindly published James’s work: the Evansville Review, Alimentum, Unsplendid, The Cortland Review, and many others.

Flashbird: Snared Chosen Edge

Contemplate the smooth

surfaced speech,

frisk the word,

stride, run,

fall to overhear

the dried rustle,

a keyboard presses itself.



The bell rings,

the cat wafer,

arid pudding,

drive deep

on the artery,

jelly rushes

out from the bush,

clings, map to life.



The tones,

metronome tink,

how do I call for you?

a word fitted freshly,

airy curtain pounding,



collecting crossroads.



Names are myths

to be released,

wrench them out,

feet hang on

the wooden floor, the

painted oaks spoiled,

elusive reed

rubbing the tip,

may the licorice cup

cease to be called,

thumb strikes

a calling in, a lift

a touch,

a noise


by extraction.



Afternoon proceeds

itsy bitsy gray reflections,

antsy dots settle

preserve or react

the froth,

name of some


on tired eyes.

the vital spirit.



Benedict Downing


Benedict Downing has written fiction, poetry since his adolescence. He joined local community reading circles, workshops, college literary groups, and ventured into his own. Has published in literary journals like Poetry Life and Times, Danse Macabre, Belleville Park Pages, Crack the Spine, New Plains Review, and The Sentinel Quarterly. He is currently working in his second novel, and other projects. There are two published books written by Mr. Downing. A poetry book “Sidereal Reflux” (2011) and a novel “Epicrisis” (2014).