When I see my wife… By Kevin Risner

When I see my wife…

When I see my wife
eyed suspiciously by an agent
at the airport
because of her last name

I want to speak up
yell back: sure
that name is also the name
of a dictator in Syria
not the United States one —

Do you really think
she has something
in her shoe
something she will put together
while up in the air?

I say nothing
we stand and wait
blister with anger.

A name normally from
somewhere over                                  there
elicits fear that there’s some poison
set to ruin our life
to kill perfection and brevity.

Hussein has been conjured
a name that is evil incarnate
so any person with that name
is an imitation of that leader of Iraq
just as evil just as cruel.

And it happens to be
the middle name
of the 44th president.

So no trusting him at all.

I want to say something
and this time I’m going to say something
I’m truly going to
I am
but I say nothing
we open our pockets
take off shoes and then we allow others to
roll their hands up and down our bodies

just in case
just in case
just in case

We are not the random ones chosen;
we opted for the pat-down.

By Kevin Risner


Kevin Risner is a product of Ohio and has lived there for most of his life except for brief stints in England and Turkey. At the present, he resides in the Cleveland area where he is ESL Coordinator at the Cleveland Institute of Art. His poetry can be found in The Mill (University of Toledo), Red Paint Hill, Red Flag Poetry, and Silver Birch Press


This Poem was Written Inside The River By Amanda Oaks

This Poem was Written Inside The River

“I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim…” — Frida Kahlo

I am not lying facedown at the bottom
with my lips stuck in the mud anymore,
body half-buried with silt climbing halfway up
my thighs, my fists aren’t trying to splinter
invisible things with a heavy grip, my lungs
aren’t fat with the flood of it all anymore,
I mean, that’s what I like to tell myself
when I feel like I can’t breathe,
when I feel like I could fall
in love with my own sadness
all over again, what I mean is—
all the fish in my stomach
are belly-up because
I fed them too much
of my own bullshit & then
I swallowed them whole—
what I mean is— despair
looks good on me
& the misery
brings out the dark
in my eyes & fuck—
I didn’t mean
for it to come to this—
I can hear you floppin’ about
in the dry dirt on the riverside
& I didn’t mean
to push you out
& away from me
but I don’t want you
to know what my grief
is capable of, it’s more
than just the blues, baby,
it’s a thick black swamp
that will drag you silently
to drown.

By Amanda Oaks


Amanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing, an independent press, literary blog + biweekly online poetry journal. Her works have appeared in numerous online & print publications, including decomP, Stirring, & Thought Catalog. She is the author of four poetry collections: Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press, 2014), her co-authored split book, I Eat Crow (Words Dance, 2014) & her series of free music-inspired eChapbooks which can be downloaded here : WordsDance.com + you can connect with her here: AmandaOaks.com

READY, AIM– By Brianna Albers


fire. The shot whistles through the air, a bullet
scorned. In the distance, a lone bulb, swallowing
fistsfuls of darkness. No, light. No, that hazy smear.
Everything tastes like citrus. Like bile. Like loving
a man with two left feet. But that was a whole lifetime
ago. You’re a new person, now. Supposedly.
You’ve never been able to parse lie from truth.
You are hundreds of miles underground. Thousands,
even. You could die here, sitting in a pool of your own
piss. Marinating in your own fat. You could die here
& no one would ever know. Not your father, your
mother, your therapist. The man you killed in a dream.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? Never in your life have you
been this deniable. The gun swells, gorged on blood.
A product of your own imagination, but in your defense,
things grow in the dark. Strange, unholy things.
They should not have planted you so deep
if they had no plan for eradication.

By Brianna Albers


Brianna Albers is a poet, writer, and storyteller, located in the Minneapolis suburbs. In 2016, she founded Monstering, a magazine for disabled women and nonbinary people; she currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief. A Best of the Net nominee, her work can be found in Guernica Magazine, Word Riot, and Winter Tangerine Review, among others. Her début chapbook, Why I’m Not Where You Are, was a finalist in Where Are You Press’ “Where Are You Poet” contest; it was published in 2016 via Words Dance Publishing. She can be found at briannahopealbers.com.

OVERNIGHT By Damian Rucci


I sold my soul
to a grocery store
in town
for eleven dollars
an hour

and it doesn’t look
like I’ll be going anywhere
anytime soon, ‘cause nowhere
else pays that

seven days a week
ten hours a day
they don’t care
if I smoke dope
as long as the job is done

the world sleeps
while third shift chews
at my flesh like a plague
I can’t even work sober

when will the sun rise?
how many more days in autumn?
how many more nights
chasing my youth through
these frozen food aisles
praying dawn brings

By Damian Rucci


Damian Rucci is a writer and poet from New Jersey whose work has appeared recently in Eunoia Review, Beatdom, Yellow Chair Review, and Indiana Voice Journal. He is the founder and host of Poetry in the Port, one of the Damned Poets, and the author of Tweet and Other Poems (MDP 2016), Symphony of Crows (2015), and The Literary Degenerate Blog.

LIGHTS By Adrienne Novy


Having a Jewish mother and a Roman Catholic father
makes you ask yourself a lot of questions about God.

Today you are hunching over a pink, plastic bedpan,
your body regurgitating its gospel.

You know the florescent lights of an emergency room better
than a synagogue or a church. If a heaven is out there, you pray
that it doesn’t smell like a hospital.

By Adrienne Novy


Adrienne Novy is a poet and teaching artist from the Chicago suburbs studying Creative Writing and Education in Saint Paul, MN. Her work can be found in FreezeRay Poetry, Voicemail Poems, and on Button Poetry. She loves dogs, a good blended chai, and writing in coffee shops. She is a strong believer in that it’s possible to be both cute and powerful at the same time.

Diminished Capacity By Gary Beck

Diminished Capacity

scared most people,
afraid they wouldn’t have
sufficient brain power
to operate machinery,
much more complicated
than simple farming.

Then electronics
further separated
those who could master
advanced technology
from those competent
to do basic mechanics,
confused by computers.

Despite leaving the land,
congregating in cities,
evolving faster
than other creatures
in a foreign environment,
we grew bigger, stronger,
but didn’t get smarter.

We thought we were clever
with dazzling inventions
that revolutionized
our way of life,
yet threatened to destroy
the Nature that nurtured us
with endless waste and toxins.

Genetically committed
to the historical urge
of an ongoing arms race,
we upped the scale of destruction
with proliferation
of nuclear weapons,
eager to create mutants.

Not enough of us
seem to realize
we are on the brink
of eliminating the home
that sustains the human race
a peculiar species
that may be worthy of survival.

By Gary Beck


Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks and 3 more accepted for publication. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press). Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions (Winter Goose Publishing). Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings and The Remission of Order will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). Resonance (Dreaming Big Publications). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press) and Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing). Call to Valor (Gnome on Pigs Productions). Acts of Defiance will be published by Dreaming Big Publications. His short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories will be published by Winter Goose Publishing. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.

Beetle Kill By Aden Thomas

Beetle Kill

Here, the lodgepole pine
die with silent dignity:
knights succumbing
to a war of attrition
after decades holding this range;
now too long weathered bronze
by a dark, six-legged sun,
and bludgeoned a thousand times,
they bleed a fungus-blue
from their hollow ribs
and watch it dry
down their crusted toes.

Too exhausted to fight,
they remove their green chain-mail,
letting the needles drop,
and face the winter exposed.
Should they survive the cold,
these stoics will surely burn
in the dry-ice heat of summer,
and no doubt,
they’ll leave their last words
to someone else.

By Aden Thomas


Aden Thomas grew up in the blue collar communities of central Wyoming. His work has appeared in The Kentucky Review, The Inflectionist Review, and Third Wednesday. He now lives north of Denver, Colorado.


The Solitary Wanderings of an Extrovert By Nathanael William Stolte

The Solitary Wanderings of an Extrovert

The first day of vacation left me feeling so restless
I decided to go see my friend with the harmonica
With only Sam Cooke, Diana Ross and
A Boy Named Sue for company I head east
Everyone in my rearview mirror is mad at me
For protecting my own interests,
Just like them,
But it’s easier to be bothered by someone else
Than to look at your own part.

All the trees are sleeping to the lullaby of the Susquehanna
While NPR is a threadbare time machine
In need of a tune-up
All the west bound drivers are ghosts
Wearing masks that look like you when you are disappointed in me
A face I know too well

It’s cold here but I like it
I keep better in the cold
I’m comforted by the constant
Yellow service engine soon light on the dashboard
It’s as if I have something in common with this old car
We are both somewhat damaged
One difference is I could pay someone to fix this car

I get to Brooklyn and the driving
Has my jaw clenched and
My knuckles white until
I’m greeted by a platoon of snowplows on 2nd street
They are lining both sides of the road
Like hoplites and I realize that it’s all about preparedness

That’s the answer
Have faith in the unknown and make ready
After all the unknown is all there is left to put our faith in

So I wander the slushy streets with impunity as
Every Rude Boy in Brooklyn comes out
In their scally-caps and I notice
Brooklyn is caged in fire escapes and
Everything is an exquisitely beautiful and dirty matte grey

It’s cold
My feet are wet and
I wouldn’t change a thing.

By Nathanael William Stolte


Nathanael William Stolte is the author of four chapbooks, A Beggars Book of Poems, Bumblebee Petting Zoo, Fools’ Song & Unformed Creature. His poems have appeared in Ghost City Review, Guide to Kulture Creative Journal, Five-to-One Magazine #thesideshow, Rusty Truck Zine, Poems-For-All, The Buffalo News & Plurality Press. He is the Acquisitions Editor for CWPCollective Press. He was voted best poet in Buffalo by Artvoices’ “Best of Buffalo” in 2016. He is a madcap, punk-rock, D.I.Y. Buffalo bred & corn-fed poet

Caretaker By M. Wright


She told my grandmom the following:

When your mind stops,
your fingers become false
and family members will
consider foreclosing.

And when your heart stops,
your foreign fingers will
cross over your heart as
second-year med students
dehumanize your tattoo of
the pillsbury boy,
forcing away theoreticals
of your childhood memories–
with her mother I’m sure.
And your adulthood crises,
maybe she mistook god for god.

Your cremated mind will
be filled with sand
(like sleeping limbs)
and you’ll feel the atoms
of you separate.

Your ashen heart will seek
out a place to wait for
your lover’s star stuff
and the remaining atoms
will coalesce into fake
fish-tank seaweed for
some four year old’s
goldfish to enjoy.


By M. Wright


M. Wright has recently been published in The Rising Phoenix Review, Maudlin House, Barely South Review, and (forthcoming in) Temenos Journal. He is the winner of Weisman Art Museum’s Poetry ArtWords and was awarded second place in the Into the Void Poetry Competition. In 2017 M. will be one of the 24 featured poets in the Saint Paul Almanac’s Impressions series. More: wrightm.com

Prop Up By Lauren Suchenski

Prop up

Prop up the
Propa-grandizing/ the proper use
Of grandio-sizing braggadocio/
Bigly, or little-ly, or literally
The little-est amount of listening
That is necessary

Fine-toothed comb and tooth-combed records,
Fighting with tooth and nail for every vote
Not yet nailed down
Fire-hot-wind voice and all the words
Still smearing themselves across
The image of your image – 10 TV’s heigh
And 8 platitudes wide

Red, white and weary
Of the wild indifference to
Weary of the fight for just-us
and the ferocity of the fight
Still looming

By Lauren Suchenski


Lauren Suchenski is a fragment sentence-dependent, ellipsis-loving writer and lives somewherewhere the trees change color. Her poetry has recently appeared in Gambling the Aisle, Dark Matter Journal, Red Fez, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Black Elephant Literary Journal,Stoneboat Literary Magazine, The Soap Box, Centum Press, Unbroken Journal and Five 2 One Magazine, among others. She loves to swim inside syllables.