Karla Linn Merrifield



The copper widow

offers a penny a thought

to fill her basket

with derivative fortune

cookie drivel of evil




The two-bit widow

dispenses small-time wisdom;

small-minded yokels

in small towns throughout the land

think me soothsayer gypsy




The très chic widow’s

custom-fitted tuxedo,

a George Sand number,

parfait with kitten-heel pumps,

and couture pop-art bow tie.




The watchful widow

on stake-out beyond the wake

of amplified loss

catches the constellation

Orion hunting me down




Zodiac Ripple


I was born on a full moon

a bad-ass moon

in Aries’s house

my sun sign in tight-ass Virgo’s

has a big bulgy ball of loosy-goosies

to contend with

some rules


some rules don’t (as here)

fickle the application thereof

I know the rules

know which is which

a poker face doesn’t stand

a chance

you can’t

fake me out

the aggrieved


prim-grim librarian

is off-duty tonight

my ram rises


for George Wolff


by Karla Linn Merrifield

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 600+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 12 books to her credit, the newest of which is Bunchberries, More Poems of Canada, a sequel to Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills), which received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. Forthcoming this fall is Psyche’s Scroll, a full-length poem, to be published by The Poetry Box Selects in June. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. Visit her blog, Vagabond Poet Redux, at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. Google her name to learn more; Tweet @LinnMerrifiel; https://www.facebook.com/karlalinn.merrifield.

Feeding the Pup in the Early Morning

I love our pup, she whose DNA chooses to chew

the coffee table’s legs, any book, shoe or the pair

of reading glasses I left where anyone my age


would set them in case of fire, storm, the need

to finally pay a bill, much less an inappropriate

drop-in by someone you would never add to


your daughter’s wedding invitation list. However

it’s 7am and I must feed her. There’s a schedule,

a set of behaviors prescribed in validated tomes


by those who decided never to major in philosophy,

dance history, or literature. They opened their minds

to trial and error, determining a schedule is for sure


the only way to raise a confident and willing companion

who will at some unfathomable day give up dragging

anything dangling—bed spread, sweater, scarf, shower curtain—


who will come when called, sit, lie down, heel, fetch, love

me even when there is no treat. But it’s 7am and I

staggered to bed after meeting a deadline at 3am.


The schedule proclaims “Feed the pup at the same time

every day.” If she sleeps just a measly hour longer, do I

risk her turning into the neighborhood’s teeth baring


dingo who digs up Mrs. Phelps’s petunias, snarls

at the priest on his daily walk, steals the dump truck

from the sandbox down the street, snaps at the kid


selling magazines for a trip to Haiti? Will I be

the one whose best friend must be muzzled for

sleeping into just one more hour of just another day?


Do I take a rabid risk? Oh hell, God bless the kibble.


by Jack Ridl

Jack Ridl’s collection Broken Symmetry was named the year’s best collection by The Society of Midland Authors. His Practicing to Walk Like a Heron received the Gold Medal for Poetry from ForeWord Review/ALA, and his Against Elegies was chosen by Billy Collins for The Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize. He was named Michigan’s Professor of the Year by the Case/Carnegie Foundation. More than 90 of his students are now publishing their work, several of whom have won first book awards.

Grethel Ramos



I’m leaving you tonight,

but before I leave I’m taking your chess,

your ping-pong, your Poems of Others,

your quiet geometry, your sloppy watercolors.

I always thought your nudes were ingenuous

and your self-portraits perfidious.

I’m taking your fatal pouty mouth,

the oil in your scalp, the virile volatile day

when we went to see your mother’s face.

I’m taking every square centimeter of cloistered soap

and skin bacteria from your sink.

And your affection for sentimentality

and for marshmallows.

The yacht is already sold,

and the money is kept safe with the mafia.

I’m taking your teeth, one by one,

all of them, and some more.

You’ll never ever be as chic

as you were when you lived with me.

I’ll wear your torso on my sleeve

and your allergic reactions on my knees,

already pale and sick for a lifetime’s sentence

of Saturday’s nights without the company of crickets

and your asthmatic burly posture.  I don’t know

how you went so far with that attitude.

I ‘m taking and taking a little more—

your unresolved conflicts

of sex and ego with the mirror,

the thrill you get from stains on a white shirt,

the pancreatic cancer you never experienced,

the bitter-sweet days

where you had me but desired her.

I’m taking the vision of love in your progressive astigmatism

and your accelerated breath every time you saw a beautiful girl,

a relic more than a memory, stark as a roasted pig,

still pink, on the Thanksgiving dining table.

I’m taking all that defines you as a person

because I cannot think of any other way

to be remembered.



Give Me Joy, Not Liberty


No one feels well here. Not the turkeys during Christmas,

not the mouse in the pet shop doing acrobatics with its tongue,

not the maiden, not the nun, not the bricklayer,

not the beautiful but toxic Russian for-hire assassin

who sat down to drink in a club by the beach in 1998

and hasn’t gotten up since.

The orthodontist is sad. The dog walker is sad.

The sommelier racing downstairs for a Sancerre is sad.

The traffic cop with the fat neck and the loaded gun

ready to shoot anybody is also sad.

The communist novelist looking for inspiration

in a café decorated with posters of Che

cannot believe how sad the world is after he wrote one word

on a scrap of newspaper soaked in champagne.

Ocean Drive Drag Queen Nina Blackrose is sad,

so is the trophy wife cloistered in a yacht.

The young are as sad as the elderly.

The bald and the handsome are equally affected by suffering.

The beginning actress who didn’t get the role in the audition

is sad and needs sleeping pills to make it through the night.

There are no sleeping pills in America anymore—

Marilyn Monroe took them all.

The Italian whisky-seller

sadly stays in the scene all year round,

littering cigarette butts and glasses half full of Jack Daniel’s,

shoulder to shoulder

with sad thick gold- toothed naked trapeze girls,

dropping bills as if he owned

that trashy juke joint on 11th street.

Sadness is more serious than acne.  Just ask Benitez,

or the technician from the cable company.

I had an abortion on a morning as yellow as margarine.

My doctor, who was obviously depressed,

recommended that I avoid heavy lifting

and cardiovascular activity for a week.

I sit by myself on a bench in the playground

to look at the children playing.

They all have features that foretell potential for grief—

the rigidity of a jaw, the crude rhythm of a hip,

the deranged leg in the air—

as if they had inherited tragedy from their parents,

who were once naïve 7-year-olds

chasing restlessly after a ball,

but grew up to become sad sommeliers,

sad dentists,

sad strippers.


by Grethel Ramos

Grethel Ramos Fiad is a Cuban-American journalist, writer, poet and photographer currently living in Miami. Her poetry rejects the cheap comforts of dogmatic conventionality and welcomes the disclosure of the dissonances in human nature.

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