The Absurdist Son of an Immigrant Grapples with Comprehending His Google News Feed

Google News tells me academics in India are robbing literature of any personal touch. Poor literature breeds poor syllabus breeds poor literature, a vicious cycle while banner ads of Clarks walking shoes keep stomping across my laptop. Page down leads to Baltimore cops reading Plato and James Baldwin. Then: No bombs, no guns, just 90 minutes of football. As Google knocks, I learn that cinnamon may help attack fat and obesity. Scrolling up to schizophrenia, the subhed says angry avatars help people stop hearing voices by shouting at them. Meanwhile, Ohio State rallies past Michigan, Pakistani authorities order a media blackout and Easter eggs lay hidden in the new Senate tax bill. Are millennials narcissistic? The evidence is not so simple, says Google News. Silicon Valley, Black Friday, Donald Trump and the FCC. Badgers football, tobacco companies and the Pope in South Asia. I can still hear Google knocking. What to click? I choose the one that says Buddhism includes everything, even comic books.

by Gary Singh

Gary Singh was recently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. As a scribe, he’s published over 1000 works including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. His poems have been published in The Pedestal Magazine, Maudlin House and more. For 650 straight weeks, his newspaper columns have appeared in Metro, the alternative weekly paper of San Jose and Silicon Valley. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press).

Losing Dad

Plum light unfolded

between the dense brush

of my backyard

the morning

of the day

dad died.

The night before,

he refused

even one mouthful

of lemon meringue pie.

Words were stones

and old stories

were one-sided

casting an umbra

of gray-green.

That’s how I knew.


The outline of morning

broke the uneasy sleep

that formed between the memory

of years of tart pie

and seasons of losing

dad in the thickets

of dementia.

The sunrise’s glamour

that day glittered

off the world

in all its weightiness.

Shallow puddles

from a thundershower spread

across the thirsty dirt.

And the only hunger

that day

inched forward

between the ticks

of the clock.


by Teresa Sutton

Teresa Sutton is a poet and a teacher. She has taught at Marist College for ten years and high school English for 28 years. She lives in Poughkeepsie, NY and has two grown children. Her poems appear in a number of literary journals including Stone Canoe, Fourteen Hills, and Solstice. Her second chapbook, “Ossory Wolves,” was a finalist in the 2014 Bright Hill Press’ Poetry Chapbook Competition. Sutton’s third chapbook, “Breaking Newton’s Laws,” won first place in the Encircle Publication 2017 Chapbook Competition; it was a top-12 finalist in the 2015 Indian Paintbrush Chapbook Competition, a finalist in the 2016 Minerva Rising Chapbook Competition, and earned an honorable mention in the 2015 Concrete Wolf Poetry Chapbook Competition. One of the poems in the collection, “Dementia,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. The final poem of the book, “Confiteor 2,” was honored with second prize in the 2018 Luminaire Award for Best Poetry by Alternating Current. The Poet’s Billow recognized her work as a finalist in the 2015 Pangaea Prize and a semi-finalist in the 2014 Atlantis Award. The Cultural Center of Cape Cod recognized her work as a finalist in their 2014 National Poetry Competition. Two of her poems won honorable mention in other poetry competitions: Whispering Prairie Press and California State Poetry Society. Sutton earned her MFA from Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. She has a MA in literature from Western Connecticut State University and a MS in education from SUNY New Paltz. She earned her BA in English from SUNY Albany.

Luminous universe

Growing and rising slowly

to the height above disbelief,

we may be touched by the sky.


Perceiving that words don’t tell

where angels dwell, it will be still.

What we heard, is a presence in itself.


Seven, Ten, Twelve –

let’s count our best blessings

and accept some ordeals or misfortunes.


Can we feel blessed indeed then

with plenty of things not happening to us?

But that’s no relief to lots of creatures far or near!


The swift and skittish starlings are heedless,

free? Well, at least we don’t need to eat worms.

A grasshopper drops by; they’re not in the past only!


And a tiny flower survives the mower.

So, many thanks for today, that may bring more.

No gloom, please; it seems to become wonderfully serene.


In the gleam of a durable sun

and ever-full moon, the swans fly this way.

They can lift their own weights, with those who participate.


by Arno Bohlmeijer

Arno Bohlmeijer holds an MA in English Lit, BA French, and is a bilingual author in English & Dutch. He is winner of the National Charlotte Köhler Prize, finalist for the 2018 Gabo Prize, and finalist for the 2018 Poetry Matters Project. Arno has been published in five countries.


A Bipolar Spring

It must be Spring.

The begonias are vomiting diesel


Leaf blowers are whining like scapegoats

Condemned to die


In a swirl

Of garbage and leaves,

And I don’t feel like being alive today.


Why must I


Salute the pilfered flag

That just yesterday I glibly waved?


Somewhere a monstrous, moody moon

Lingers like a flashlight in an empty street,

Ready to plunge her sequined syringe

Into my unwitting, smoggy veins.


Somewhere bird watchers

And gardeners

And beekeepers

Swoon like submissive violins.


It must be Spring


I am choking on the dew.

I am lost in a maze of barbed-wire-wool,

Still cold, lacerated, hemmed in


Like a fiery torment of acid tears

Spilling into a perverse pool

Of my own making,

And I don’t feel like being alive today.


Who are you

To assure me

That life is regenerative?


Somewhere I know that you are right,

But I don’t care. Not now.

I am an oil derrick

Wheezing night and day;

My demise is bound up in my riches,

And I don’t feel like being alive today.


Somewhere it is Fall

And somewhere it is Summer

And somewhere it is Winter

And maybe here it isn’t even Spring:

How quickly, how often the seasons change!


I am sober. I’ve never done a drug.

But the begonias are vomiting diesel


And I don’t feel like being alive today.


by Andy Posner

Andy Posner is a resident of Dedham, Massachusetts. He grew up in Los Angeles and received his Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Culture from California State University, Northridge. He moved to New England in 2007 to pursue an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown University. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides small personal loans and financial coaching to low-income residents of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Florida.

If Corporate Dictators Decided

When dictators who rule over transnational corporations

finally choose to do no harm to other people or species,

it’ll be an ice-cold season in hell as billionaires shout

at their servants to hand them their loaded assault rifles.


When they dictate their fresh plans for the triple bottom line,

will they explain to the crowd how they managed to run

their misinformation campaigns aimed at creating enough

doubt about climate disruption to block collective actions?


The dictators were hired to control takeovers and fabrications,

to camouflage needed information, and to deal with others

like them, single-minded money-mongers who’ll say anything

to maximize the bottom line, who seek positions of advantage


for putting one over on somebody else, to enrich themselves

before others, to give executives bonuses before investing,

to keep politicians beholden, harnessing them with blackmail,

to straight-out lie to congressional investigation committees


and position middle managers where they’ll do the dirty work

of cutting costs, compromising the local air and watershed,

and externalizing every possible cost for others to pick up.

When they finally decide they should cause no harm to others,


it will mean their view of world has been radically enlarged

to allow for presence of others and importance of ecosystems.

From the moment this is announced, immense relief will pass

from person to person, as we once again can picture a future.


by James Grabill

James Grabill’s work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review, Terrain, Mobius, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Stand, and many others. Books – Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994), An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), Lynx House Press. Environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Books One (2014), Two (2015), Wordcraft of Oregon. For many years, he taught all kinds of writing as well as “systems thinking” and global issues relative to sustainability.

The Blue Chair

Stick-men crayoned on the closet walls

like astronauts abandoned

to the endless night of space,

ancient grease thick as suntan lotion

on the kitchen ceiling, a cloud of nail holes

floating the front-room wall,

slats of the fractured louver doors

scattered like bones on the bedroom floor.

It took a week to gather the detritus

of giving up, walking away.

So much left behind, hangers strewn in a jigsaw,

shirts and underwear piled in the corners.

the legless blue-foam seat

their child sat on all of every day

and died last month at seventeen.

She couldn’t move or speak,

only shift her eyes enough

that you believed someone lived in there.

They learned what her eye-flickers meant,

the gurgled cries, head wags.

Fed spoon-by-spoon so she wouldn’t choke,

I saw how they’d slide her in the blue seat

across the living-room, stationed by the television

so they could go on with their lives.

They’d check back in ten minutes,

read her eyes the way you try to do

when someone doesn’t answer.

You look as they stare out the window

at the pink streaks of morning,

see how still they are, wanting to believe

they’re loving the overwhelming

beauty of the sunrise until you notice

their eyes have stopped moving.


by Mark Burke

Mark Burke’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in the North American Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Sugar House Review, Nimrod International Journal and others. His work has recently been nominated for a Pushcart prize.