First Saturday in November

A noisy, anxious fall,

the nation hangs

on a precipice

as the noise reaches

an ugly crescendo.

In three days, we

will know the script

our nation will follow

the next two years.

As we look forward

in weary trepidation,

we mostly want it

to be over and usher

in a wintery peace.


by Janet Jenkins-Stotts

Janet Jenkins-Stotts has taught at Highland Community College, Wichita State University, and Kansas University. She has self-published a novel The Orchid Garden, and a chapbook, “Winter’s Yield. She has performed slam poems on weight loss, and women’s issues at Open Mics and slam contests.

V is FOR

My vagina and Venice Beach

both of which

are no longer that Xanadu

subculture of old school grooves and funk –

there’s no more riffing with Morrison,

no sonic hey-days

spent skating figure eights.


My vagina and Venice Beach

are haunted by the laughs of men

who’ve gentrified Bohemian-sweet virginity

with basil-honeysuckle soap

and brute celebrity.


My vagina and Venice Beach

were plowed by lucrative

boutiques, Silicon Beach, and tiny

yellow ghosts pulling out.


My vagina and Venice Beach

went from roller dancing to race riots,

Dogtown to Blue Bottle Coffee –

the boom boxes were stolen,

and the gondoliers

bought homes in the Valley.


The First Baptist Church of Venice

sits vacant and boarded up

while residents hold Sunday morning vigils

protesting the billionaire

who’s determined to make it his home.


V is for the vigil

I hold between my thighs.


by Candice Kelsey

Candice Kelsey’s poems have appeared in such journals as Poet Lore, The Cortland Review, Sibling Rivalry Press, and Wilderness House — and her work has been incorporated into multiple 3-D art installations. She has been accepted into the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Virginia Quarterly Review’s Writer’s Conference. She published a successful 2007 trade paperback with Da Capo Press. An educator of 20 years’ standing, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Elemental Penobscot Bay

If these islands have names,

I do not know them,

for I am not of the earth.


If these seas have a name,

I do not know it,

for I am not of water.


If today’s soft wind has a name,

I do not know it,

for I am not of the air.


If the stars tonight have names,

I do not know them

for I am not of fire.


I am Time.

I am your moment: Now!

I know your name, I do.



by 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 13 books to her credit, the newest of which is Psyche’s Scroll, a book-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Select in June 2018. Forthcoming in June 2019 is her 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 assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. She is a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, the New Mexico Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet Redux, at Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel;

The Politics of Love & Other Invisible Structures

To a ghost that never dies.

I had my first drink at 15, the same year my grandmother took her last, washing down two bottles of codeine with gin. I watched them wheel her out of her apartment on a gurney, zipped up, tight. I thought my soul died. Some talk of funerals, she read the obituary every morning with her coffee. Her death came fast and silent like a traitor. I wept until earth became clay & clay became chalk, then I erased everything.

40 years later, our bodies like urns, cupping our animal hearts. Mom buries her hope inside an old sycamore. I tear at the roots with my hands. Tired of the fury, that loud, ugly, spit in your face anger. The fuck you kind of rage women aren’t allowed to show. I want to make my darkness visible so I sell plasma on the corner for $60 a pop.


by Sheree La Puma

Sheree La Puma is an award-winning writer whose personal essays, fiction and poetry appeared in such publications as Burningword Literary Journal, I-70 Review, Crack The Spine, Mad Swirl, and Ginosko Literary Review, among others. She will be featured in the forthcoming Best of 2018 issue of Burningword as well. She received an MFA in Writing from California Institute of the Arts and attended workshops with poet Louise Mathias and writer Lidia Yuknavitch. She has taught poetry to former gang members and theater to teen runaways. Born in Los Angeles, she now resides in Valencia, CA with her rescues, Bello cat and Jack, the dog.

Steve Karamitros

For Comrade Malcolm

the false prophet will screw with your head daily
an image of desperate unknowns:
the anonymous taxpayer
who would like to take offense
on behalf of those offended,
the popular victims of the day.
his face is caked with muted flesh
and grinning ivory teeth

he nods with sympathy to the jobless
            but can offer no work
he turns cold on the youth,
            “innovate and get a job
            and get a life too”
and all the while, he repeats the mantra,
            “Look How Far We’ve Come!”

but the Grind goes on, despite him.
the secretary will type
the factory worker will strike
            but neither can taste any Free
            in free trade.
the bus driver will bus
the newsmen will make news for every seated person
            as the students bargain with the bankers
            to negotiate their debt
            and cancel their dreams.
the doctors will doctor
the teachers will teach
the businessmen will do business
            while the dark-skinned are executed publicly on video
            and the poor have to rage to remove the lead
                        from water that eats through metal
                                    as it flows through aging pipes
                                                in apartheid cities.

but the Grind goes on, despite him.
and Change comes, the Fruit from all those broken bodies
and as people say, “Now, surely, is the time. We’ve had it!”
the false prophet says, “No,
we should move slowly and wait for a more convenient time.”


The Gag Order

Did the sculptor who made Justice
a blindfolded woman
have a joke at our expense?

the elevated scales of unbiased balance,
the sword at her side:
            more the two dimensional things 
            from the worn pages of fairytales 
            than the metaphors of a sculptor

are the gown and the trinkets meant  
             to be the future,
             the hopes of a civilized people?:
that she will swing the
sharpened edge of justice
in the right direction?
the steel as true to its target 
            as the archer Apollo
            his golden chariot traversing the heavens
and the Light
            warming every face
            as it falls towards

but can you doubt today
that Power takes its pleasure   
from the womb of Justice?
for, dropping all pretension and
feigned virtue,
the scales and the sword disappear

             though the blindfold works well for the kink:
             her clothes torn away, he places
             a sweaty palm over mouth and nose
             and then takes what he wants

with a notion
that the tears
are simply her misunderstanding


by Steve Karamitros

Steve is an urban planner living in the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. His poems and short stories focus on the bizarre and irrational forces that animate society and what we call ‘nature.’ His published work has appeared in Poetry Quarterly (Fall 2016).

What the Grass Said

That sky is only space

and waits for us to sleep,


to sow and reap the usual way,

that roots are all that count


dendritic, subterranean like old love

waiting for a time to green.


That we will be cut down,

left fallow, grazed to ground,


That we should try

to memorize the sound


that falling water makes

on stone or latent soil, or grace


in dreams before dark horses

come to trample blades.


That we might speak in tongues

in terrible wildness once again


to say please to broken earth

made willing to all seed cast down


to feed the brutal hunger

spring always draws out of us.


by Roberta Senechal de la Roche

Roberta Senechal de la Roche is an historian, sociologist, and poet of Micmac and French Canadian descent, and was born in western Maine. She now lives in the woods outside of Charlottesville, Virginia near the Blue Ridge Mountains. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine and the University of Virginia, and is Professor of History at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Her poems have appeared in the Colorado Review; Vallum; Glass: A Journal of Poetry; Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review; Yemassee, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. She has two prize-winning chapbooks: Blind Flowers (Arcadia Press) and After Eden (Heartland Review Press, 2019). A third chapbook, Winter Light, (Fall 2018) and her first full-length volume, Going Fast (2019) are being published by David Robert Books.

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