Michele Madigan Somerville



Where have you been all my life

now that it’s nearly done?

Here on this island of our birth?


Where minds venture like hands

and pedestrians traffic in

solstice cold they import from


There to Here on overcoats into gin mill

noctilucence wherein
  frigidity ensues

then overturns  


Where they sit apart, that woman and man

once lovers, on the longest

night of the year.


Here they speak only in syllables but

there in the throwback booths fashioned

perpendicular, prismatic high-

gloss red


Where two slip into one

as we did once

risking scandal. Those two over


There—it’s obvious they are in

over their heads

having once been head

over heels.


Back then, Ramses II was believed

to have fathered

one hundred children.

Matrimony is like that.


Everyone was drunk

when first they met.

The woman was a girl in disguise.

Ricochet barlight on white of a beard.


There, poets were never made to adhere.

Where again, it’s your dime.

There, the scherzo’s on you, pal.

Put a couple of quarters in


Where once you might have wrangled a tone.

Request permission to employ vocabulary, sir!

Currying curious favor I, choir member, cant.

Right here, te quiero, quemamos. I want you. We burn.

Can I carry your books?

Are you generous or dangerous?


Beware, where poets dally, neologisms

being diagnostic for madness.


Where mushrooms grow and worms wind.

There goes thy long-reserved senility.


There, swans are mean, they mate for life.

Where you dream of eating

one, but I pushed the head of that last one

under, as into an oven, thinking

Now “it’s your turn, PeeWee.”

Where I once was angry,

I now swan around,

my heart,

the size of a fist.


There, Buoyancy took hold,

where no singing I do fails

to please me

and that is saying something for to go

there I know you



There is still a market

for a woman who knows how

to diagram a sentence

in a corset.

Here she is.



Late June


Humidity grows high and heat holds it tight.

Pupils wiggle free of their seats. An angel cracks

A can open. A voice breaks. Triple plays transpire. Twilight

Corazon radio love, Sonido Suave and tank tops are back


With a vengeance. Sirens mesmerize. Quipping, some flirt. Beach

Boys oldies resound with static edges. Freedom screams,

Whiffle-snap nights herald the long-awaited reach

Of lilac and garbage-scented June. Waterfowl careen,


Raw-voiced over the harbor. A little spot outside

Goes a long way here, where a fire escape can save your life.

Rockaway Jamaica Bay gulls swoop, drop, dive

Over Gotham waters running various and rife—


Veils of low-hanging humidity June imposes

Promise July’s chain-link fences lousy with roses.



Maruccinus, You’re Asinine

Adaptation: Catullus XII


Marrucinius, you’re asinine, deft indeed, slick too,
at least when you’re sober, and your crappy de-
meanor otherwise leaves much to be desired.
Take your sleazy maneuvers, Klepto, like your
brazen pilfering of my dinner napkins!
You think larceny’s funny? Don’t believe me?
Go on, question your brother. Ask him. I dare
say your Pollio doesn’t find your antics
so amusing at all! And we know what a
great sport Pollio is. He can take a joke.
We know Pollio’d cough up a million just
cure your sinister penchant, fix or break you—
Come clean, cough it up. Give me back what’s mine.
Pronto. Fork over the linens you swiped, Lefty.
Come on, gimme the napkins, Veranius,
carried all the way from Spain for my table
by a friend who came to dinner here and left
empty-handed and this is why 300
mean lines packing a wallop are headed your way, O,
asshole dinner companion. Better act fast.
Send the napkins which Veranius, my true
friend, bestowed upon me back, that precious item
whose high-caliber fibers are well woven
close, tight into the fabric of my being.
Those linens you swiped did not come all the way
from Spain, Stickyfingers, so loser scum like
you could pinch them in between courses and
bites and pocket them the minute my head was turned.



by Michele Madigan Somerville


Michele Somerville’s collection of poems, Black Irish, was published by Plain View Press (2009). Her book-length poem was also published by Ten Pell Books (2001). A reprint of this book is expected late this year. She won Honorable Mention in the May Sarton Contest, sponsored by Bauhan Publishing (2012). She won first place in the W.B. Yeats Society of New York Poetry Contest, which was judged by Billy Collins. In the Davoren Hanna Poetry Competition, sponsored by Eason Bookshops, she won Honorable Mention. Her poetry has been published in Hanging Loose, Mudfish, The Nervous Breakdown, Mad Hat, Puerto del Sol, 6ix, Downtown Brooklyn, Eureka Street, LiveMag, Brooklyn Review, Purchase Poetry Review, Big Time Review, and Quarto. she also writes essays and has been published in The New York Times and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. she teaches in New York City, and is an avid painter.

Diary Secrets from 1966

Jimmy was a dreamer, a handsome James Dean kind of guy.

Jimmy decided at 17 he was in love, so he eloped with his child bride
and kept it a secret until nobody would question her age.

He loved his bride and she loved him. They had a baby
daughter who was a dreamer too.

Jimmy had tiny flecks of gold in his eyes that looked like the sun
had burned right through them. Sometimes he wore a patch.

Jimmy loved to dream but he loved his child bride and daughter
more than any dreamer would think possible.

When Jimmy was 20 he was drafted in the Korean War.
He didn’t like war so he pretended he was blind in one eye
and when that didn’t work he bought a sunlamp and stared
into the light for 29 minutes a day

Jimmy was never really blind in either eye but his dreams
began to be slightly blurred.

When the army said he could still see well enough to kill
a man, Jimmy went off to war.

Years went by and he sent love letters home to his child bride
and daughter who were both growing up, alone.

Some of the letters spoke of the things he missed most
from back home. All of the letters had a pencil sketch
of wild horses running through a field.

When Jimmy returned from Korea he was different. He stayed
out all night and played cards. He drank a lot of whiskey
because his dreams were more like nightmares.

He went to strip-clubs and bars parading around with prostitutes
or cheap whores according to his child bride.

He started talking about the men in his platoon.
He wore a fedora with a long duck feather wedged beneath
the black satin ribbon.

Jimmy loved Winston cigarettes.

Sometimes Jimmy drew horses but they weren’t running free
anymore. They looked sickly, their heads hung down, their tails
never flowing in the wind.

Jimmy’s mother was concerned. She asked the doctor
to straighten Jimmy out. She ordered electric shock therapy
to get rid of his nightmares.

Jimmy told his daughter he was being followed. He said people
slipped things in his drinks. He said he chewed bubblegum
to get rid of the taste.

He started hallucinating. His dreams were not dreams anymore.
Jimmy couldn’t tell the difference between his child bride
and a cheap whore.

He acted funny, told his daughter not to look at his eyes.
Not to stare at the sun and never trust anyone, especially
other men with fedoras who started hanging around after
hours leaving ashes on the steps.

Jimmy liked to smoke but those ashes weren’t his. Jimmy
feared for his life and his family’s lives too.

He began to lock the doors feeling paranoid.
He wrote crazy stories in a secret black binder.

One night, Jimmy took an overdose of sleeping pills
His daughter found him with his eyes closed.
Jimmy didn’t need a patch anymore.

When they buried Jimmy they draped his coffin
with an American flag. His daughter kept it with his drawings
of horses, the ones with their tails whipping through the wind.

Years later someone told the family that Jimmy was in a special troop.
That the government had given him LSD in something they called
* ‘Operation Midnight Climax.’

Jimmy had been part of an experiment that went terribly wrong.
Jimmy had been playing Black Jack at a safe-house
set up by the CIA.

Jimmy died an unsung hero. But his daughter never doubted
his dreams were real, even when they became more like nightmares
than dreams.

Some days she turns on the sunlamp for 29 minutes and lets
the warmth surround her face. She wears a patch on both
eyes to protect her from the light or anything else she doesn’t want to see

She says Jimmy’s dreams are still alive in her. She runs
her fingers over his pencil sketches and reads herself to sleep
with the crazy stories he wrote in the secret black binder.

She dreams of horses and unsung heroes and all things that sound
too impossible to be true.

On his birthday every year she takes out the folded American flag
and drapes it over her bed. She puts on his feathered fedora
and smokes a Winston cigarette then chews one piece of bubblegum.

Jimmy would have liked that.


by Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas


Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas is a seven-time Pushcart nominee and four-time Best of the Net nominee. She has authored several chapbooks along with her latest full-length collection of poems:Hasty Notes in No Particular Order newly released from Aldrich Press. She is the 2012 winner of the Red Ochre Press Chapbook competition for her manuscript Before I Go to Sleep and according to family lore she is a direct descendant of Robert Louis Stevenson. www.clgrellaspoetry.com

Donna Emerson

To My Son, Home from College


You’re home complaining how crowded

our house feels with the new baby,

question the noise, her crying.

These rooms used to be yours.


Then you speak of going to live with your dad.

The dad who wanted to show you the alternatives.

I always asked him, alternatives to what?


I walk down Sixth Street alone,

big black umbrella carried in front,

tears falling faster than the rain.


I could come home and sit with you,

but what could I say?


I love to see you;

that could be enough.

Though you ask nothing about me.


You belong to your father now;

your little finger lifts off the cup

the way his does.


You rub your face hard on both cheeks,

rub your chin several times

when you feel something important.

Like how you can’t stand it here any more.


You laugh, when you really laugh,

with his guttural growls.

Offer up unexpected belches and animal sounds

while other people just talk.


He pours you a whiskey.

Knowing your history and his,

I wonder what else.


I don’t need to know the rest.

What I know is that

he’s showing the other choices

that may change you as they did him.



Six Maple Trees


lined the edge of the farm

we called Ye Dascomb Aerie.


We could not reach into the first two.

They limbed up too high.

We climbed the last one

near the raspberry patch.

The one with the rope swing Cecil made.


That strong limb just above our heads

made for us to swing up on,

into branches high above the ground.

We carved our initials there, the taller cousins


toward the top, the shorter ones

near the bottom. I loved cutting

into the bark with my green Girl Scout knife.

It made the tree ours.


Cousin Alan and I would climb as high as

we could, then Alan went

higher. We could talk up there

about Fats Domino and Elvis.

When we were alone, Jerry Lee Lewis.

He married his thirteen- year- old cousin.


The maple branches strong

enough to hold twelve cousins each summer.

Fat green leaves in summer, red in fall,

they held our secrets, then dropped

them without ceremony to the ground.


Everyone who visited had to pass

the test of our maple tree. Could they

climb it and how high?  Could they

hang upside down from the high

branch, then jump all the way down?



Ending War


The Liberian women made a last stand in the market.

They took off their clothes and stood before the guerrillas.

The young men stepped back. The war was over.


In a time when sexual assault prevails

as often as we hear of young boys killing villages

of men and women in Syria, in Afghanistan, in parts

of Africa, some policemen on American streets,

what will end mindless cruelty and revenge?


Will taking off our clothes work more than once?

We are your sisters, sons, your daughters not yet born,

your mothers and grandmothers.

We stand in the place where you find comfort.

You kill yourselves.


by Donna Emerson


Some of Donna Emerson’s publications include Alembic, CQ (California Quarterly), CALYX, The Chaffin, Dos Passos Review, Eclipse, Edison Literary Review, Fourth River, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, The Los Angeles Review, LUX, New Ohio Review, Paterson Literary Review, Passager, Persimmon Tree, Praxis: Gender & Cultural Critiques (formerly Phoebe), Quiddity, Sanskrit, Slipstream, Soundings East, So To Speak, The South Carolina Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Spillway, Stone Canoe, and Weber—The Contemporary West. Donna’s work has received numerous prizes and awards including honorable mention in the 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, nominations for the Pushcart Prize (2013), and Best of the Net (2012). Her second chapbook, Body Rhymes (2009), nominated for a California Book Award, and third and fourth chapbooks, Wild Mercy (2011) and Following Hay (2013), have been published by Finishing Line Press. Donna’s work can also be seen in anthologies such as Echoes (2012), Keeping Time: 150 Years of Journal Writing (Passager Press), Chopin with Cherries, A Tribute in Verse (Moonrise Press), Music In The Air (Outrider Press), and The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers).


In Lieu of a Better Plan

In lieu of a better plan

I have decided

to be a tree

that grows down

instead of up.


It makes a kind of sense to me.


I will bury myself alive

in a lovely secret way—

only to bloom below the earth

and flower in the cool dark soil;

not for display,

but for the feel of it alone.

I will not bear fruit

or shed myself for fall

or trace the line of a sky that comes and goes as it pleases.

But, instead, reach out my branching fingers into the mineral oblivion

and find the keys from the beginning of time.


Ancient laughter has been known to serve as rain that way.



by Emily Trask


Emily M. Trask is a poet and theatre artist originally from Wisconsin. Her poetry was most recently featured in Summerset Review, and her essays, blogs, scholarly commentary and award winning play adaptations have been published by the Folger Library and Simon and Schuster among others. Emily received her BA in literature and theatre from Grinnell College, where she studied under poet George Barlow, among others. She received her MFA in acting from Yale University School of Drama. As an actress, she has appeared on stage and screen across the country, from the Lincoln Center Theater in New York City to the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre in Texas, where she is currently a resident company member. Emily plays the cello, sings, rides horseback, and lives with her cat, Ramona Salami, in Houston, Texas.

Lichen and Moss

Stone wall covered with lichen and moss;

along an old country lane within the briers.

Mushrooms, wild raspberries mark the time;

food for the animals and birds found there.

This place has seen war and strife so harsh

also witnessed good times of plentiful harvest.

The old white farm is gone from across the way,

t’was a fine spot for me to dig a hallowed grave.

Her breathing appeared shallow late in November,

t’was obvious she would not make it to the Spring.

I spent two days with my shovel near the old wall;

giving her a valley view where song birds still sing.

Her stone, a piece of granite with a carved cross;

she’s happy, as she was, with simple things in life.

I visit her each Sunday and put a rose on the rock;

Mother’s Day, an Orchid Pot, I sit with her and talk.


by Ken Allan Dronsfield


Ken Allan Dronsfield is a Published Poet and Author originally from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He enjoys the outdoors, playing guitar and spending time with his cats Merlin and Willa. He is the Co-Editor of the new Poetry Anthology titled, “Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze” available at Amazon.com. His published work can be found in Journals, Magazines and Blogs throughout the Web including: Indiana Voice Journal, Belle Reve Journal, Peeking Cat Magazine, Dead Snakes, Bewildering Stories and many others.


Rock fitted silence

to its tense profile.

At night stillness shrank back

to the opaque scheme of space.


Rock wore down, weighed

by an unfathomable presence

and absorbed the ruminations

of grubby hungering men.


In the shimmer of spirit, rock

shaped portals, amphitheaters

over which now kindred stars

shone gentler and closer.


Stones nestled together

against storms of silence

arched their backs, laced a garden

grew out of wilderness


stepped into infinity

held up against the foam of impulse

on rows of burly pillars

soldiers of the crypt.


Colonnades, courtyards,

opal eye windows hid

yet sought green-hooded forest

mobbed with cunning creatures.


In dim corners where

log fires had left a glint

the unclaimed charm of

magic softened the stone.


by Stephanie V Sears


Stephanie V Sears is a French and American ethnologist, free-lance journalist, essayist and poet whose poetry recently appeared in Linq, Cha, Nimrod, Literary Orphan, Calliope, The Rufous City, Third Wednesday, Eastlit…..


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