Cast Up into Heights of Liberation

Cast up into heights of liberation
By bleeding air from the big blimp balloon
That had arisen out of stalwart eruptions of emotion
Taking then launching him
Happiness surrendering to hard stares and encroaching staggers of justification
As if laughter mattered in the face off with destiny newly invented
Piling treasure on carpets woven in history
Before you woke up to
The possibilities slumbering in subconscious travel
On to where you’re supposed to be
Believing in whatever could be
Despite it never having been seen
In his lifetime
There is always room
For change


by Josef Krebs

Josef Krebs has a chapbook published by Etched Press and his poetry also appears in Agenda, the Bicycle Review, Calliope, Mouse Tales Press, The Corner Club Press, The FictionWeek Literary Review, Burningword Literary Journal, The Aurorean, Inscape, Crack the Spine, The Cape Rock, Carcinogenic Poetry, and The Cats Meow. A short story has been published in blazeVOX. He’s written three novels and five screenplays. His film was successfully screened at Santa Cruz and Short Film Corner of Cannes film festivals.



Between any here or there

is a road or pathway,

a line, a distance,

a fragment of broken space.


Some surfaces have an existence

in themselves and lead out

to celestial spheres, the parallels

and perpendiculars of time, unknowns.


Is there any center that can hold,

a perfect x/y axis, a constant north,

a dimension that emanates and radiates?

Is there an essential place?


Some roads are easy to travel:

prairie grass waves in soft breezes,

the air shines, and soft shadows

dance in the day’s motion.


Trees grow and are cut down,

gravity defied and then realized.

Between beginnings and the end,

our place is a question, a muted wish.


Acceleration against inertial space

leads to this or that party, a smile

and wave. Our own darker moments,

searching for less grievous avenues.


Is there any place, celestial or grounded,

that avoids the closed doors,

cold caves, the hard wood nailed together

spanning all directions?


by Carla Ann McGill

Carla Ann McGill grew up in Southern California and lives there in Rancho Cucamonga with her husband. She has an MA and a PhD from the University of California, Riverside, and a BA from California State University, San Bernardino. She has work published in A Clean Well-Lighted Place, Shark Reef, Crack the Spine, Westview, Common Ground Review, Caveat Lector, and Inland Empire Magazine, and work forthcoming in Vending Machine Press. As a member of the Poetry Society of the Huntington Library from 1991–2012, her poems have appeared in three of the group’s chapbooks: Garden Lyrics, Huntington Lyrics, and California Lyrics. She writes poetry, fiction, and is working on a novel and stage play.


Pamela Hammond

A Sudden Wind


makes leaves tremble,

bends branches,

lifts my hair, tangles.

Enters my nostrils,

steals my breath.

I turn

against its surge,

look down;

dust whirls upward,

            blinds me,

grips my throat.

I taste it.

I am being whittled away

to join its force,





Guardian of the Night


An asteroid plowed

into Earth, belly-fire

and debris mingled,

coalesced into a sphere,

finding its orbit nearby.


The moon shines silver

or breathes sunlit gold,

peeks through darkness

into windows. Its glow

fills the hollows in my heart,

lights wings of imagination.


Guardian of my night,

continue your journey

an inch plus a year

toward the sun.


by Pamela Hammond


Pamela Hammond was born in Chicago, grew up in Southern California, and now lives in Santa Monica. For more than a decade, she worked as a Los Angeles-based critic for Art News based in New York. Her love of nature has led her to hike, backpack and travel, often to Northern California, and to Alaska, the Southwest, Hawaii, and New Zealand’s South Island, which became her home for almost a year. She completed two chapbooks, Encounters (2011) and Clearing (2012), produced by Red Berry Editions, Fairfax, California. In 2013, her work appeared in Forge, Assisi, Foliate Oak, Broad River Review, and Tulane Review. In 2014, her work appeared in Cold Mountain Review, Crack the Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Whistling Shade, Chaparral, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Westward Quarterly. In 2015, her work is forthcoming in Griffin and The Penmen Review. Her poem “Winter Walk” appeared in Crack the Spine’s Spring 2014 print anthology.



With only a pursed lip

and tone of crazed despair,

my body constricts itself,

the way a snake takes hold of it’s prey

right before the kill.


And you know the way

your throat closes and reopens

with the tangled sentiment of choked back tears?


No, wait.

That’s me, too.


And then the panic sets in-

the black of eyelids falling privy

to sudden heat, as it inches

as far as my fingertips-


where jagged nails are now

smooth and growing,

like the red dahlia stunted in shadows,

now blooms full with the sun.


I want to feel the freedom

of a criminal.


Send me away…


Anywhere, but here, I cry.








by Hannah Bushman


Self-proclaimed humanitarian, Hannah Bushman, is a lover of literature, music, and peppermint tea. She believes that the right song on a television show can make all the difference in the world. Hannah is a graduate of John Carroll University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In addition to poetry, Hannah revels in the creativity of photography and the logistics of psychology.

After Loss

The days





like empty





A gold cigarette

butt, twisted


candy wrapper, discarded

plastic spoon, and dark,


flattened disk of gum

surround a blade


of grass growing

from a broken sidewalk,


the sprig seeming

a humble


probe of life



devastation, kindred spirit

to the tender


fleck of green



on the quiet

pond in the spoon.


by Mark Belair



Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His most recent collection is Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015). Previous collections include Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times. For more information, please visit



Harried by the orange digits

on the dashboard,

I leaned in around

the steering wheel,

up too close

to cars in front, ripped

past gnarled clearcut

patches. My

ferry reservation

crumpled in my hand

five miles before

I waived it at

the ticket clerk–

‘I’ve got to get to a funeral!’


The ferry rolled forward

in the sun, chased

looping seagulls

across the straight.

By the window,

I stared into the water

until bald stumps


in the green-grey foam.

Then the PA brought my head up–

‘Passengers, today is the Sea Carnival–

look starboard,

the clown craft race is underway!’

And there, a yellow submarine,

an orca whale, an ambulance

nudged through the waves,

while on the shore

the whole town

filled the piers to watch.


The mourners fought

for footing in

deep sand. Someone


an inoffensive little prayer

but was cut short

by a shrieking chaos out


on the Straight.

Gulls fell frantic,


on the herring bloom.

And as we trudged off,

some birds heaved

their heavy stomachs and

floated drunkenly away,

while the cloud of ashes

billowed wider

just under

the waves.


by Jonathan Cooper


Jonathan’s poems and essays have appeared in various publications including The New Plains Review, Cirque Journal, The Statesman Journal, Houseboat Literary Magazine, and Poetry Pacific. He lives with his family in Vancouver, Canada.