A black drape flutters

before my face or is it

a heavy veil of smoke


while offering prayer

for a friend

following a cremation.


Let the dark pall shield my eyes

dim my mind from knowing the process

of immolating a beloved soul, flesh, bones.


While Jewish law forbids cremation

I ask further how a family rights this

course after the holocaust,


after human beings delivered

such a means of death.


Nancy Smiler Levinson

Nancy Smiler Levinson is author of MOMENTS OF DAWN: A Poetic Memoir of Love & Family; Affliction & Affirmation, as well as numerous stories, and poetry that have appeared in publications such as Confrontation, Phantasmagoria, Poetica, Touch: The Journal of Healing, Survivor’s Review, Blood and Thunder, and Drunk Monkeys. A CNF piece was a Pushcart nominee in 2015. Nancy lives in Los Angeles.


Second Opinions (after the visit)

Doctor’s words
swam around
her head
like moths,

and for a minute she couldn’t breathe. Leaving the cracker-white medical arts building she drove directly to the fast, cold river and dove in. There, standing in waist deep water she reached down to the stony bottom and began flipping rocks. Within ten minutes she had collected a handful of squirming, segmented hellgrammites. At home, in their Pepsi bottle aquarium, the invertebrates rested on a high shelf in the kitchen. Night after night she fed them from new recipes, as she worked her way through The Joy Of Cooking. In the background music played, never the same song twice. Later, she burned her clothes in a cardboard box alongside pictures of old friends and a once-upon-a-time husband. It surprised sales people when she arrived at a store in an old bathrobe and left in a new one. All the while, inside her, the benign tumor sat silently.


Travis Dolence

Travis Dolence is a librarian at Minnesota State University Moorhead. His work has appeared in The MacGuffin and the chapbook The Lyrical Librarian: Verses from the Stacks, published by Consortium.

They Were Jumping

They were


j u m p i n g



double dutch

they called it.

two skinny

black girls


with legs the

size of



and mouths

that could be

heard from one end

of the block

to the other


and I wondered


What it would be


to have

a sister.


Karamo Muchuri Sulieman

At age 61, I am a mature African American poet who has written several hundred poems and published at least 100 of them. I received Honorable Mention in the 1999 Mellen Poetry Contest, for a 100+ page poem entitled Black Roses. I have also published in numerous magazines; journals and anthologies; among them San Fernando Poetry Journal; International Society of Poets; American Academy of Poets; Noble House Poetry collections and others. I also have one published work entitled Seasons.