When you come home

your mother will be silent

like a queen in a new fairy tale.


In once-upon-a-time, you heard her

(first sound to greet

your ears). You grew

to her voice, her counsel

guided you. Perhaps its vibration still pings

against, or within, a secret recess,

which you will rediscover

if only you sit quietly enough.


Her throne reminds you of succession,

of evolution, in its inevitable emptiness.


You might choose it for yourself

and picture how she dropped her shoes

to curl her stocking feet under her on the cushion.

You might take up the paperback

left on the spot, and riffle through it

hopeful for a pressed four-leafed clover,

some further evidence of resonance.


Pamela Hobart Carter

Pamela Hobart Carter earned two degrees in geology (Bryn Mawr College and Indiana University) before becoming a science teacher. After more than thirty years in the classroom, she decided to see what writing full-time was like. Her work has been published by The Ekphrastic Review, The Seattle Star, and Fly on the Wall Press, among others, and has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Carter also writes plays, fiction, and non-fiction from her Seattle home.

May I?

“May I please have a piece

of candy, grandma, please,

may I?” Water runs in the kitchen.

She doesn’t hear. Little boy’s hand

reaches into green glass bowl,

on the coffee table, waist high.

His fingers grab the golden candy, hold it up

like a trophy, the cellophane crackling. “Young man!


Her lips line up, a race he cannot win.

“Did you ask? Did you say may I?”

His bottom lip quivers, he looks down

at the pink carpet, down

at his Buster Brown shoes, one untied,

at the candy, golden juice

on his sweaty palm. He feels

his lips close around it, smiles

under the shag

of his bowl cut.


“Look at me

when I talk to you.” Her nails

jerk his jaw up. His hair flops back,

the candy too

to the back of his throat

where it sticks. His eyes reflect

the sun above the empty courtyard

outside. She reaches

for his ankles, one in each hand,

pulls him up. His hair brushes

the carpet, a drop of drool runs

over his forehead, lands.


“Spit it out! Spit

it out! Do you hear me?

Do what I say!” Up, down,

up, down. The candy

flies from his mouth, sticks

to the carpet. Up. She lets go.

He lands, forehead, nose, then cheek,

coughs, and cries dark spots onto the rug.

“You just lie there and think

about what you’ve done.” Grandma

knits her hands together, thumbs rub fast

over her fingers. Ten red crescents

bloom on little boy’s ankles.



Shawna Ervin

Shawna Ervin is an MFA candidate at Rainier Writers Workshop through Pacific Lutheran University in Washington state. She is studying nonfiction and poetry and is a recipient of the Carol Houck and Linda Bierds scholarship. Shawna is a Pushcart nominee and attended the Mineral School residency thanks to a fellowship from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Recent publications include poetry in Tampa Review, Euphony Journal, Evening Street Review, Hiram Poetry Review, The Phoenix, and Raw Art Review; and prose in COG, Apalachee Review, Front Porch, The Delmarva Review, Summerset Review, Superstition Review, and Willow Review. Her chapbook Mother Lines was published in January 2020 by Finishing Line Press. She lives in Denver with her family.

Midtown Empty

Molly stood at the window

and looked down at the ghostly

street. Flowered gossamer swirled

around her legs—that had barely

seen a newborn sun for ages.

Here and there a solitary walker, but no

crowds waiting at lights, no city traffic.


She lit a menthol cigarette

with regular matches,

the windows closed. Scents

of mint and sulphur—

reminders of nearby parks

and working class yards

behind the buildings stinging her


with reminiscences.

An ice cream truck parked

in a driveway for little kids

climbing on jungle gyms after

school, and union men on break;

no rule says you have to be under

the age of eight to like a cone.


None of this climbed up to Molly—

just mint, sulphur, and memory.

She was a people painter, believed

grace required the breath of humans.

—a couple peeked down from the terrace

across the way and she knew

she could paint. With one motion


she stubbed the cigarette, set up her easel,

closed her eyes. Molly wouldn’t paint

this couple she’d met casually,

she just needed them. His tapered writer’s

hands, her witty brilliance, their living.

Molly’d saved her heart, her time, her canvas,

painted all the absences this couple could bear.



Tobi Alfier

Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was published by Cholla Needles Press. “Symmetry: earth and sky” was just published by Main Street Rag. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

Losing It Found

You should never rip off your shirt at a picnic, exposing your breasts

to your second cousin’s children, unless, of course, this is your only

recourse for twenty-seven years of raw-turkey Thanksgivings and rejection.


But if you do, ignore the cloud in your head, clouds everywhere,

in the basket with the mustard and plastic forks. Ignore the sounds around

the cloud, the yells and shouts, the sudden blanket on your shoulders.


You are holding a jar of cornichons, the ones that were supposed to remind

you of France, Paris, the house in the suburbs where the mother-in-law

sent jars and jars to the family whose house you lived in. You ate them all.


You’ve carried each day since then, a beacon beating home, home, home.

But Paris isn’t home. Home isn’t home. You shrug off the blanket,

grab your shirt, struggle to make sense of sleeves and buttons.


What is the point? There’s nothing in your pocket but regret, sorrow

that has stolen your nights. People you thought were part of your heart

threw every last moon at you, leaving only stars to navigate back to yourself,


which you are not now, not at this picnic with all this past and history.

You wish you weren’t waiting for someone to call out as you walk down the hill,

to the lake, out on the path, buoyed, pushed to who knows where. You don’t


know, but you are going, listening to the gulls, holding the cloud, the cornichons,

the blanket, letting go of the past, the old beacon, finding the right direction

that is light, dazzling, seamless, at least for now. You skimmer, go.


Jessica Barksdale

Jessica Barksdale’s fifteenth novel, The Play’s the Thing, is forthcoming from TouchPoint Press in 2021. Her poetry collection When We Almost Drowned was published in March 2019 by Finishing Line Press. A Pushcart Prize and Best-of-the-Net nominee, her short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming in the Waccamaw Journal, Salt Hill Journal, Tahoma Review, and So to Speak. She is a Professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California and teaches novel writing online for UCLA Extension and in the online MFA program for Southern New Hampshire University.

Not Doing the Impossible

It’s impossible

not to want,

though I started to work on it

six years ago,


the course greased

by a new diagnosis

and prognosis

pronouncing futile

almost any wanting,


but now after all

these years squeaking

by in the 10% sliver

of possible survivors,

now it is harder

not to want,


and today’s call,

how the doctor hesitated

as she inquired

how I’ve been feeling

since the biopsy,


it was then I knew

she had news

that wouldn’t be

nice to hear,

so I’m definitely

wanting now.


Dianne Silvestri

Dianne Silvestri is author of the chapbook Necessary Sentiments. Her poems have appeared in The Healing Muse, Barrow Street Journal, Naugatuck River Review, Poetry South, New Limestone Review, The Main Street Rag, Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA Oncology, and elsewhere. A past Pushcart nominee, she leads Natick’s Morse Poetry Group in Massachusetts.


From time


we’ve pressed them

into clay,

or stone,

a coarse brush

of ochre

on cave walls,


on sarcophagi

and on forgotten



by the greedy


they’ve flowed

from tributaries

of indigo

on the odd leaf

of skin,

or pulp,

from feathered


or styli

of steel:

enough pages

to fill the oceans,

letters raised

on the road

rash of billboards,

a forest of graffiti:

the legacy

of pictographs

and glyphs,

cursive and kanji,

cuneiform sagas

and the enigmatic


Sanskrit scriptures

that whisper across


the Aleph

and the Roman


through the staccato

music of keys

that sing

through a conduit

of light,


the world

to convey

a mere


of meaning.


Robert René Galván

Robert René Galván, born in San Antonio, resides in New York City where he works as a professional musician and poet. His last collection of poems is entitled, Meteors, published by Lux Nova Press. His poetry was recently featured in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Azahares Literary Magazine, Gyroscope, Hawaii Review, Hispanic Culture Review, Newtown Review, Panoply, Prachya Review, Shoreline of Infinity, Somos en Escrito, Stillwater Review, West Texas Literary Review, and the Winter 2018 issue of UU World. He is a Shortlist Winner Nominee in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award for Best Poem. Recently, his poems are featured in Puro ChicanX Writers of the 21st Century and in Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art and Thought. His forthcoming books of poetry are Undesirable: Race and Remembrance, Somos en Escrito Foundation Press, and The Shadow of Time, Adelaide Books.

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