Normally, we celebrate the holidays,

exchanging gifts, delighting each other

with the latest gadgets.  Normally,

we believe in how life always improves,


gets more convenient, easier to live.

Normally, we don’t’ hunker down.

Normally, we don’t have occasion

to use that phrase—hunker down.


Normally, we  replace the windows,

rebuild that demolished interior wall.

Normally, we have work to do, relatives

haven’t vanished, and friends haven’t fled.


Normally, the toilet tank refills.

Normally, we change our clothes.



William Aarnes

William Aarnes has published two collections with Ninety-Six PressLearning to Dance (1991) and Predicaments (2001)—and a third collection, Do in Dour, from Aldrich Press (2016). His work has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, FIELD, and Red Savina Review.

Psychologists Say That When Someone Calls You by the Wrong Name, It’s Because They Love You

The latest research calls it misnaming, says

I likely look

nothing like her. Insists

it has nothing to do with aging, assures me

that the fact that both our names

start with K

is unimportant. In a half-

second, I learned this Scorpio dragon

shares the same semantic network

inside one man’s brain

and something else

located in an organ I won’t try to name

since I might say heart

when I mean penis, both

smoking, catching fire, and I guess

this happens

to everyone at some point:

you get excited, you get

confused, cup your hands to drink

from the same big bucket of love.



Kasandra S. Larsen

Kasandra Larsen’s work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Burningword Literary Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and Into the Void, and is upcoming in The Halcyone Magazine’s/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets of 2018, among others. Her full-length poetry manuscript has been a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and a semifinalist for the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her chapbook STELLAR TELEGRAM won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a poetry reader for the journal Bare Fiction (UK).

Palpable and Mute

On a good morning

I am the shaman

on a great morning

I am all thirteen of them


a conclave of fire and feathers

atop the Sayan Mountains.


I practice divinations

while sipping coffee

and braiding my syllabic chants

into crows’ shouts

I call the words gather

they descend the World Tree

I lead ancestral heroes

to the island of my page.


This morning

I am a correspondent

fumbling with my camera

to document this Siberian ritual

or worse an ill-fated Yakutian bull

bellowing centuries

as I surrender to the blade

palpable and mute.


On a good morning

I am both the knife

and the warm bowl of cow’s blood –

on a great morning

I am a poet.



Candice Kelsey

Candice Kelsey’s poems have appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Burningword — recently her nonfiction was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. An educator of 20 years’ standing with her master’s degree in literature from LMU, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.


a plastic water bottle

see-through debris

of an unplanned day-trip


its hollow clunk-clunk-clunk

into the recently emptied

recycling bin echoing through


the shallow chambers

of my heart—blood pulsing

into unwashed fingertips


the cheek-kiss of a too-warm

spring breeze—forewarning of

the oncoming storm


this knowing there is no right here

there can be no rights

out of all these wrong turns


what are we anyway

only ghosts living in

some future past


drifting blindly by

as Earth simmers

but persists



Anne Casey

Author of ‘where the lost things go’ (Salmon Poetry 2017), Anne Casey has worked for 25+ years as a journalist, magazine editor, media communications director and legal author. Her poetry has won/shortlisted for awards in Ireland, USA, UK, Canada and Australia; she ranks in The Irish Times Most-Read. Anne is Senior Poetry Editor of two literary journals for Swinburne University, Melbourne. Her poems feature in The Irish Times, Entropy, apt, Murmur House, Quiddity, Cordite, The Incubator, Verity La, Plumwood Mountain, The Honest Ulsterman, The Stony Thursday Book, Into The Void, Autonomy anthology and Burning House Press among others. Her second collection is forthcoming in 2019.

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.

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