At Yad Vashem

I will call him Asher

a single light

in a mirror

reflecting a candle

in a cave of darkness

and among one-point-five-million

tiny mirrored lights


I will say he came from Austria

a single light

in a mirror

reflecting a candle

in the depths of darkness

and among one-point-five-million

tiny mirrored lights


I will say he was thirteen

a single light

in a mirror

reflecting a candle

in wells of darkness

and among one-point-five-million

tiny mirrored lights


I will say his bar mitzvah

was fresh in his young heart

a single light

in a mirror

reflecting a candle

in chambers of darkness

and among one-point-five-million

tiny mirrored lights


I will say he was but a boy

of flesh and blood and bones

a single light

in a mirror

reflecting a candle

in darkness’s abyss

and among one-point-five-million

tiny mirrored lights


I will say he, Asher Zaffrin, is remembered,

my one among one-point-five-million

tiny mirrored lights against the darkness


Karla Linn Merrifield

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 700+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the newly released full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing) received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is a frequent contributor to The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and assistant editor and poetry book reviewer emerita for The Centrifugal Eye.


Mrs., your daughter fits Fifty-Fourth and Vine

Father, your address is Fifty-Sixth and so is mine

Mrs., more than eight blocks four times a day—

Father, here, at lunch time she can stay—

Mrs., we encourage no such program.

Father, she can take the bus to and from.

Mrs., for you Vine Street is truly close.

Father, Market is busy and dangerous to cross.

Mrs., Chestnut Street is our limit—

Father, that’s where we live! We’re on it!

Mrs., we stop at the south. You live on the north side—

Father, do you sit and say my child must ride

Or walk into a totally foreign postal zone?

Mrs., the wrong side of the street is your home.


Hyperbole or word for word,

The same score, whatever overheard:

A chilly man with a chilly vote.

Not even Mother’s master stroke

Could budge that unsmiling priest,

Wire-rimmed, with a sharp, sallow face.

In the universal church, I’m a homeless member.

Weeks before third-grade September,

We’re kicked out the South Philly projects!

Daddy’s ex-Army pay, a wink beyond limits.

But suburban splendor Mother spied,

Plopped me down and boldly lied

To another priest with a false address

Miles from the redlined parish.


Years puzzling to myself—How’d she do it? Pick

A complete stranger, a Negro Catholic

Down the street from church? Mother had her ways.

The woman’s name is lost—even her face,

More mist than flesh: a pleasant ginger-brown.

The twin boys—or girls—Was she their mom?

All day Mother stayed nearby—Nobody had a hunch?

And took me to a diner up the hill for lunch.

Even in the freezing winter? No. By then we returned

To Elmwood—Where everything burned?

No. To Anyemma’s—All school year? No. We got

Back to West Philly before it was hot—Not

Darby parish? No.—You lied three times third grade?

It was a secret, Mother said—Were you afraid?


*In the 1950s in West Philadelphia, Transfiguration of Our Lord, at 56th and Cedar Avenue, served an established white congregation. Our Lady of Victory, at 54th and Vine, was dominated by black parishioners, many of whom had converted to Catholicism because of the perceived superiority of parochial schools. Darby’s Blessed Virgin Mary served whites, many in a new suburban housing development.



First poetry editor of two pioneer feminist magazines, Aphra and Ms., Yvonne has received several awards including NEAs for poetry (1974, 1984) and a Leeway (2003) for fiction (as Yvonne ChismPeace). Print publications featuring her poems include: Bryant Literary Review, Pinyon, Nassau Review 2019, Bosque Press #8, Foreign Literary Journal #1, Quiet Diamonds 2018 (Orchard Street), 161 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus), This Sporting Life (Milkweed), Bless Me, Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood (Plume), Catholic Girls (Plume/Penguin), Tangled Vines (HBJ), Celebrations: A New Anthology of Black American Poetry (Follett), Pushcart Prize Anthology, and We Become New (Bantam). Excerpts from her verse memoir can be found online at American Journal of Poetry, AMP, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Poets Reading the News, Rigorous, Headway Quarterly, Collateral, the WAIF Project, Brain Mill Press’s Voices, Cahoodaloodaling, and Edify Fiction. More excerpts are forthcoming in Ragweed, Colere, Stonecrop, Beautiful Cadaver, Quiet Diamonds 2019 and Home: An Anthology (Flexible Press). She was an Atrocious Poets-One City, One Poet Contest finalist.

Cordelia M. Hanemann

Double Exposure

Meditation on Summer Day from Edvard Munch’s Linde Frieze


Munch, commissioned to paint

a sweet seascape—sunny

Asgardstrand—to please

the sensibilities of children:

rolling gentle horizons,

measured sweep of kindly sea,

gleaming white triangulations

of brilliant sails, and certainly, no

offensive human actors to clutter up

the scenery—“no lovers kissing…

children know nothing of such things.”


Did the offended artist know

he superimposed a scrim over holiday

and fancy, shattering serenity?

The accidental couple, spectral shapes

seeping through the gouache

of the artist’s eye,

transparent lover binding

his black-eyed bride

to the vertical mast of pine,

its flap of green sails futile

across the windless plane.

Invasive in one corner,

impasto oval blond,

ingenuous, eyeless witness

to predator and purple anguish.


Realities vacillate: beside

beach, sun, sea, and sails,

a cone of faceless girls,

black back of a blank man’s head,

intrusive clutch, or worse,

dark intimacies. The artless veneer

of image defies the eye: which

is surface, which substance?

Palimpsest or leakage?



Meditation on Edvard Munch’s Madonna


Madonna of the red halo:

white moon shadows glaze her face,

eyes closed against dark;

lips, crimson as fruit,

sealed against desire;

arms fading into umber haze.


Eve to apple, hallowed fire:

eat of me: ripe woman body,

blood, breasts that suckle

a wolfish world, cryptic

smile barring sin.



apple white of ancient moonlight,

arms fastened to a tree,

dogwood, apple, rose, red gall,

pierced, openings

close on intimacy.


Mouths choke on repast,

lips on words:

It is consummated.

Fruit, forbidden in the garden,

ferments into wine, wine

into sacrifice.


Virgin waits: echoes

of the bridegroom

at the closed gate,

walls for the climbing rose;

candles flicker, moonlight

wanes to the hem of dawn.


Cordelia M. Hanemann

Cordelia Hanemann is currently a practicing writer and artist in Raleigh, NC. She has published in numerous journals including Turtle Island Quarterly, Connecticut River Review, Dual Coast Magazine, and Laurel Review; anthologies, The Well-Versed Reader, Heron Clan VI and Kakalak 2018 and in her own chapbook, Through a Glass Darkly. Her poem, “photo-op” was a finalist in the Poems of Resistance competition at Sable Press and her poem “Cezanne’s Apples” was nominated for a Pushcart. Recently the featured poet for Negative Capability Press and The Alexandria Quarterly, she is now working on a first novel, about her roots in Cajun Louisiana.

The Delegates are Confused

I can tell because they spill out from the chain hotel

and stare at my empty storefronts.


Scattered scooters knocked over on sidewalks decorating

my urban decay.


—the convention and visitors bureau is even more confused—


Like an alcoholic, I exaggerate with grandiosity

and defiance, repeating myself about urban emptiness.


Old-timers no longer lecture the new residents. Even

the giddiest of community boosters have quit salvaging


the scooters and scooping up trash, now that the

convention and visitors bureau sells my neighborhood


to meeting planners who prefer their banquet rooms

cheap and their reward points easy.


—you don’t need a scooter to go from the hotel bar

to the board meeting upstairs—


After 30 years in this town, do I continue to tell its story

through my own story? Do I wait for the 12th revitalization?


—or as Cavafy warned—


If I move to another town, will the dead scooters ever rise

from the sidewalk?



Gary Singh

As a working scribe, Gary Singh has published over 1100 works including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press) and was recently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University.

Action, Reflection.

East Tennessee, an hour from the mines,

and Tuesdays, at the public clinic, I’m

buckled into full extraction mode.

My knuckles blanch on forceps

dug into blackened stumps

the meth mouth offers me.

Numb, his eyes twitch: More. More

of what collapsed him in the parking lot.

Blood wells up, ligaments let go.

He hardly moves as I bear down

and slowly, slowly turn out teeth like screws.


Off-days, my hands, clammy as a mist, float above

a keyboard: poetry at three removes from urgency.

Imagination is the act of sweeping clouds.


I inject inside a woman’s lip.

She’s reclined, head nearly cradled in my lap.

Her stringy hair droops across my knee.

“Why are your front teeth gone?”

I’m asking quietly.

“My husband caved in my jaw.”


If I lay crisp witness out,

clamber through these gullied woods,

will a mourning dove burst into view?

Who neither hears nor sees the whippoorwill?


A fresh scar rakes another woman,

starting in the scalp, across her eyelid, into

the pucker of a mid-cheek gouge.

To my surprise, her eye’s alive.

“What happened to you?”

“My boyfriend done come home on meth

and put my face through a window.”



Eric Forsbergh

Eric Forsbergh’s poetry has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Neurology, Zeotrope, The Cafe Review, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and the Northern Virginia Review, which awarded him a Pushcart nomination in 2016. He is a Vietnam veteran.

The Proxy Tunnel


There’s a chance everything has been assumed incorrectly.

There’s a chance I’ve gotten it all wrong.

Misplaced the dangling modifiers.

Left decimals out of column.

Commas forgotten, and misfired chromosomes

flipping an entire species on its genealogical frontal lobe.

Prophets tried to warn.

Seers and shaman returned

carrying markers of indemnity, lived experience

suffered and survived, until now

becomes instinct, systemic acceptance

defining the limits of beauty and love.



Compressing time compares

particle versus wave, proxy tunnels

navigating both like wormholes

linking process and form.

Conceptual technology owes its existence

to the human body, the internalized

network of firewalls, end-stops, cul-de-sacs

of private intentions needing protection

from fear of the anonymous hack.

Conjunction subordinates proper speech.

By all indications, pop stars leave the myth-

making to poets and teachers.

Take a straw poll of life’s greatest fears.

See how many answers feature

bridges and tunnels connecting us,

and all things.



I carry weight around unknown,

height a cradle-fantasy of remembered baptism.

I am never smart enough to think like a foreigner,

an outsider accustomed to facing nature

in its raw nakedness, beauty balanced and awe.

Some tastes require jugular sweetness,

warm country tabernacles surrounded by thick night.

Preachers wed desire with a mother’s faith,

common metaphor saving its best for last days

of character-selling, shelter-space limited

to flesh and imagination.



Sanctuary splits me confused, me not smart enough

to skate across thin layers of meaning.

Not understanding but knowing the difference

between here and not here

simultaneously.  Nowhere to be found

depicted in watercolors is too diluted

for aristocrats and the general

practitioners of the Sacred Arts,

the Primal Magic of self-doubt,

paranoia, and its shady base

of operations in poetry.

Patrons pay my expenses, photograph my receipts.

Desire allocates, critiques my inner algebra,

formulas setting parameter for stammer

too elastic to eliminate its brittle shell.

After questioning, beauty accepts

quiet comfort, knowing fear remains

the only modern ignorance left to eradicate.


Marc Meierkort

Marc Meierkort is a writer and educator who has taught high school English for 19 years. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (B.S.) and National-Louis University (M.A.T.), and he currently lives in Chicago’s suburbs. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has recently had poems published by The Main Street Rag, Columbia College Literary Review, The Nassau Review, Inscape, and Spectrum.

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