Boquen, Brittany

She rambles around Plénée-Jugon,
seeking signs, leftovers of her younger self –

life tending kitchen gardens, a commune,
her home at L’abbaye de Boquen. She took a vow,
to return. Determined, she makes her oath good now.

Besret’s Cistercian monks have long gone
and she found years ago, she cannot believe
in God. The oak-timbred door creaks open
and within whitewashed walls, sparse
furnishings, hard pews, scents
of chalky musk
press her back
in time:

guitar riffs, folk songs, radical liturgies
and always people holding hands,
spiritual and temporal
kissing, uniting.

Once inside
her worn out hippy soul
lights a tapered prayer
for peace –

disbelief snuffed out
for seconds.


Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Ceinwen lives near Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and writes short stories and poetry. She is widely published in online magazines and in print anthologies. Her first chapbook was published in July 2019: ‘Cerddi Bach’ [Little Poems], Hedgehog Press. Her first pamphlet is due to be published in 2021. She is a Pushcart Prize (2019 & 2020) and Forward Prize (2019) nominee and holds an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, UK (2017). She believes everyone’s voice counts.

On Reading That Some Physicists Posit We Are Living in a Computer Simulation

An analysis shows there is a 50% chance that we are living in a synthetic reality – Scientific American


If life is a lucid dream or some near-perfect

computer simulation, do I risk waking up


to a world in which I can’t embrace you?

I was so young when I came to feel that


death is as simple to understand as the eons

before our birth: we are not, and then we are,


and then we are not again. I’m a mystic. I

love the weight of the cosmos, how it feels


in the palm of my hand. I reach for your

hand in order to hold on to all that I wish


were eternal but stand to lose. I can’t dwell

on loss, least of all when thinking of you;


and if none of this is real, if there are

truths stranger than our brief mortality,

all the more reason to lie down together and

demand that the earth reveal what it knows—


to discover who we are when stripped of fear,

our bodies trembling at the edge of reason.


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.


I bet the four flush—

worth next to nothing

but looking to all like the key

to the kingdom of heaven.


You told me once

that poker

was half luck

and half bluff.


They had just

cleaned you out again

at the Friday night game

above the body shop on Sutter Avenue.


You and your six

unemployable friends—

passing a cheap bottle of rye

and shots at each other’s parentage,


in a room

full of reefer

and the sweat

of day labor.


You told me once

you had no luck—

having given it

all to me.


And I pictured a medallion

bestowed upon the younger brother—

no small burden

you’d hung around my neck—


as if the family’s fortune

was riding on my narrow shoulders.

“What fortune?”

anyone who knew us might think to ask.


“But, you’ll never be a bluffer,

you told me,

for that you need a pair—

and in our family, I got them.”


Cold as cobra’s breath

I bet my four spades

and watched

as the better hand folded.


You never were a judge of character—

a lifetime

of confusing

friends and enemies.



Steven Deutsch

 Steve Deutsch lives in State College, PA. His recent publications have or will appear in RavensPerch, MacQueen’s, 8 Poems, Louisiana Lit, Burningword Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Biscuit Root Drive, Evening Street, Better Than Starbucks, Flashes of Brilliance, SanAntonio Review, Softblow, Mojave River Review, The Broadkill Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Panoply, Algebra of Owls, The Blue Nib, Thimble Magazine, The Muddy River Poetry Review, Ghost City Review, Borfski Press, Streetlight Press, Gravel, Literary Heist, Nixes Mate Review, Third Wednesday, Misfit Magazine, Word Fountain, Eclectica Magazine, The Drabble, New Verse News and The Ekphrastic Review. He was nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2017 and 2018. His Chapbook, “Perhaps You Can,” was published in 2019 by Kelsay Press. His full length book, Persistence of Memory was just published by Kelsay.

Shopping for Underwear in Asheville

The Problem:


There are blue humpbacked mountains in the distance

and I always want to look up and over there, absorb


the scenery and forget that good-fitting underwear

is a basic human right, undeniable at least in the


good ole US of A. The 6:00 PM weather person

on Channel 4 who always scowls is wearing underwear


that doesn’t fit properly. Miss Irby, who tried to teach

American History in the 11th grade, never had properly-


fitted panties, I could always tell. And my gym coach,

Bragg  Stanton, gave up finding nice underwear and


shared with us that he was starting a new trend of going

commando. There are malls and department stores nestled


in city-sized pockets in these smoky hills, and just as you

think it’s time to settle down with a nice goat cheese,


whole wheat crackers, and a glass of red wine, you feel

the pull, the squeeze, the pinch of that worn-well fabric


vying for space up there between your legs. It is time.



The Solution:


Dedicate a portion of the day to dilly-dally inside stores

and shops, the big-box, the men’s boutique, the electronic


pages of underwear, constructed of every conceivable fabric

under the sun: boxers and briefs and low-cut straps that resemble


large strands of colored floss. There are thongs, and jocks

and cloth that breathes, guaranteed not to burn or rub you


raw.  By now you know what works best. But experimentation

is the hallmark of long-term satisfaction. Be bold if you must,


stepping into a store that smells like musk with salespeople

in three-piece suits who really don’t want to be there in the


first place. They point you in the right direction and then leave

you to your own design. I will not spend that much money


on underwear, ever, even if I were a millionaire. I am tired

and need some lunch, maybe a beer on some open patio


where I can write Mark Weldon, underwear guru, and ask

for a written guarantee. But it’s not like returning a shirt.


Once that material, whatever it is, has kissed the dark recesses

of your inner things, it is a done deal. Shop carefully because you


need to like what’s going to be down there for at least three years.



John Dorroh

Whether John Dorroh taught any secondary science is still being discussed. However, he managed to show up every morning at 6:45 for a couple of decades with at least two lesson plans and a thermos of robust Colombian. His poetry has appeared in about 75 journals, including Dime Show Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Os Pressan, Feral, Selcouth Station, and Red Dirt Forum/Press. He also writes short fiction and the occasional rant.

Annie Elizabeth

An Exploited Body


You claim it’s a dwelling grasp. I still fall

out of a tree—naked & thick,


hauling myself to beat

exposure. I fill myself in


in desperate clusters. Unable

to find a deep hole for my body,


I turn over the earth & rip the ocean

floor—give a final blow


to deprivation, hunt dead & run large

in the streets. I lurk


in hives, collect & attach you

like an eyeball—a blind silence.


I search for bony bundles

& drain my body—an empty constant.



The Day of My Wedding


I stayed inside because of the rain.

From behind the bay window

I watched a funeral & a family



I watched a wild horse

run away from the field—

gaining freedom to ground



The grass webbed with dew

for the rest of its days.

Sewers overflowed

& cars stopped passing



For the rest of my days

I watched a child

fall backwards at the bottom

of the staircase, just out of my




Annie Elizabeth

Annie Cigic is a second-year student in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies PhD program at Bowling Green State University. Her research interests include critical pedagogy, community-based learning, advocacy writing, and student agency in writing assessment. She received her MFA in Poetry from BGSU. Her poem “Afterlife of a Dumped Body” is nominated for a 2021 Pushcart Prize by Driftwood Press.

What the Muse Says

& now it’s for real! Not the science fiction

of books or movies, test tube anomalies

reported from overseas, alien


contagion you could only survive given

regulated ventilation, capsulating spacesuit

NASA style. Say all you want


about mock-scenarios: Travolta’s The Boy in the

Plastic Bubble: the hellish loneliness of isolation

& quarantine, the psalmist who forewarned


of a “great trouble” I’d witness after she

took my $100 and told me in parting,

in no uncertain terms, that like the animals


who flocked to Noah’s Ark, I’d be spared,

Anita and the boys too, all of us protected

by the agency of some mystical


ministration. & then, almost overnite,

the pandemic surged like a tsunami,

came crashing with a shuddering BOOM!


In an instant life ceased to exist as we knew it.

Suddenly no one talked about wars,

the constant threat of terrorism, batting stances,


box scores, fast-breaks, Kobe or the triangle offense.

International flights were ordered home

as confirmed cases & death tolls


started to mount. Rubber gloves and surgical masks

became the accepted norm as hysteria & fear

ratcheted up & lockdown &


social distancing went from memes to everyday lingo.

& then the stern & troubling projections

from the C.D.C. of souls lost,


the World Health Organizations holocaust-like forecast

models; how airborne viruses mutate, flourish in

more welcoming environments—


the least resistant the more accommodating the host.

Contagions have gripped the earth before, left

a nasty trail of death & pestilence.


From S.A.R.S. to Swine to Covid-19, we have

Felt its brunt. But NOTHING compares

to the scourage of the Black Plague,


the Great Mortality, the Pestilence, the Great Bubonic,

the Great Plague, or lastly, because the world

had never seen the likes of it before,


because Europe & its counterparts, Eurasia & its outliers,

satellite societies, fringe nomadic & Mongols,

only a hundred years since the last


sighting of Genghis Khan upon the steppe, in the saddle

of a fine Arab Charger, before massive,

uncontrollable death—


millions upon millions upon millions—

more than ever accounted for

in the totality of wars.


& now we enlist them by anacronyms,

refer to them by geographic or animal

origin; the long history of illness


independent of questioning how or why.

You can trace the migration of the Plague

back to the Silk Road


where it swept through Crimea & then upon the yaw

& creak of Genoese merchants

bound for parts of Judea & Galilee,


the archipelagos of Thrace, the coastline of the Aegean

& Ionian Seas, from the stiletto

boot to the Strait of Gibraltar, rats scurrying


off the decks & gangplanks infecting

the under-belly of Europe.

O’ sickness, how it wiped-out the land—


from soothsayers to merchants to prostitutes

to great barrons— O’ bodies left roadside,

no shelter remained to conceal the dying,


the rotting. & the gripping reality of naked histrionics:

the caterwauling, the protracted gasp and breath,

the sudden collapse of the living


upon the dead, crying into the stale breath

of what they said would spread.

Stepping around or over


the faces of the known— bluish, purplish

luminesces cauliflowering the neck,

hair greased with sweat,


bacteria & fungi doing their dirty work.

Tonight Time’s Square is a flashing ghostown.

The remedies for pain have


different denominators, and they know what

they are— depression, drugs & daily exercise;

faith in god or 4 more oxycotin


pilfered from my wife’s purse. I’ll toss them in a box,

shake & offer: whichever you get

must be followed to completion.


What does the muse say? Grin & bear it.



Tony Tracy

Tony Tracy is the author of three poetry collections: The Christening, Without Notice and his newly released book overseas, Welcome To Your Life. He is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer whose poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in North American Review, Burningword, Jelly Bucket, Poetry East, Tar River Poetry, Rattle, Hotel Amerika, Painted Bride Quarterly, Potomac Review, Briar Cliff Review, and various other magazines and journals.

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