Vending Machine Press Issue #16

issue 16 Johannes Huwe

Photo by: Johannes Huwe

The very fine writers for Issue 16 are:

Two Poems by C.M Keehl
Two Poems by Erin McIntosh
Sharing Music by Emily Alexander
Empty Stomach by Ashlie Allen
Two Poems by Cara Lorello
Unrecovered Poem by Samantha Madway
About the Universe by Eleanore Lee
A Brief History of Cola by Glen Armstrong
Two Poems by Shoshanna Beale
Prodigal by Michele Madigan Somerville

Two Poems by Betsy Martin
De Stijl By Sarah Vernetti

Speed by Alice King

Overpass by Alison Hicks
Everywhere by Lisa Harris
Marriage for Dummies by Andrew Kuhn
Three Poems by Alita Pirkopf
Familiar Stranger by Eva-Marie Sher
Two Poems by Helen Wickes
Psalm by Marc Tretin
Behavior Pattern By Frank Rubino
Firefly by Gladys Justin Carr
On a Photograph Never Taken of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Friends, Manhattan, May 1, 1920 by Benjamin Goluboff

Issue 17 is due out 21st December 2016.

Michael Lafontaine
Vending Machine Press

Two Poems by C.M. Keehl

I am at the same peninsula where  you told me you loved me like lake michigan

never one for wading
but jump right from dock
quick at night

I see you as a body/ everybody is a body
water comes up surrounds the body
fills the body up & it feels good
to be made of 73 percent circulating water
but I can’t keep holding purgatory
the anger I
placed deep within
my lungs, stomach,
liver. In your prostate they found
hell. Cancer.
A current. Spreading
limb by limb, it’s too
late now
so please tell me what planted this
hate?  What broke inside us?

I can’t remember
as lethe flows oblivion
& I’m fluid. Fluently
making up excuses for you
so that I am full of something good
the last I see you / you see it’s easy

to immerse myself another forgiving body
if I can’t remember
darkness I dived into before.

call me maybe creature drowning black lagoon

Stripped bare
blood cold from the night before
you once called me green supernova
I’m a shiver dance number
in debt/ in water
homeless w/o prayer
performing & forgetful
of my transgressions
all the lies I say/ it doesn’t hurt

yeah so I’m a fraud/ a phony
1-2-3 go prancing around trash
all faux pas & glitter/
loser/ thirsty sparkle lizard
or maybe I’m an alien
but I’m here full of yearning
you can’t  see/ nothing precious
chipped nail polish & pierced through skin/
I ink my stories to cover my bones
give me a little interest
my wet body next to all these tindered bodies
how am I already 26 winters washed-up
& drunk on the shore
when an astronaut once prepared for flight
w/o knowing what to expect
in hell do you think they’ll
tell me I’m pretty/ words worthy of someone’s time

when the tide rises
I find the riptide isn’t picky
calls me lonely/ only/ winner anyway
& coalesces me into wave
what’s the point of all this trying
when beyond the sky it’s black
& I can just settle my bones
violent in a costume
just a girl done
searching pearls
out now conjuring home
at the bottom of the sea

about the author:

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C.M. Keehl is part dreamer / part destroyer but all alien. She currently live in the suburbs of Detroit with her PIC, a dog named Carver. She is the poetry editor at Dirty Chai & has a chapbook out with Ghost City Press.  Keep your eyeballs peeled for future dope poetry news about @CMKeehl.

Two Poems by Erin McIntosh

The wolves are at my heart

Wolves are at my heart
Again but I only continue
To revolve around you like
The earth to sun a mere planet
Next to your heat / I have grown
So small diminished by this
Outside light / I don’t even wish
To write poetry anymore but I have
Lost all other sense of language
My own breath foreign to me as
Morse code fathomless and un-
Fathomable / An earthquake needed
To shake things up / Like when
The wolves came for me once
Before teeth tearing while my feet
Planted stayed firmly on this
Immutable turf ready for the knock-
Out prepared to be torn apart

Just like that

I leave just as the blossoms
arrive. Just as the trees
are turning purple I leave

and, looking behind me,
I see the sun, low, spilling
its gold into the city.

Last night a man jumped
out of the neighboring
apartment, three stories high.

The girl in the window
across from mine, leaning out
to tell me this, said he thought

he was being chased.

Texts sent in the a.m.: When
are you leaving? – Tonight.
Just like that? – Just like that.

I drive with the music
loud, the volume turned up
to twenty-four. Eighty miles

per hour and only one hand
on the steering wheel. I slide
my phone across the seat

and I think briefly on him
and him and minute regrets.
I smile until it breaks. I smile

until I’m laughing. I am alone.
I tell myself I have nothing
to do but sing along with

whatever song plays next.

about the author:

IMG_5966Erin McIntosh is a writer and actress currently living in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared and is forthcoming in various journals including Two Serious Ladies, Noble / Gas Qtrly, Bone Bouquet, Lavender Review, Cleaver Magazine, Gravel, Hawai’i Review and Plenitude Magazine. Visit her at

Sharing Music by Emily Alexander

Dark morning reaches through windows
until the sky is smudged silver like the teakettle
on the back burner. Here is the slip
of buttons through slits of fabric, the skip and snag
of fleece on cracked hands. Here are my hands
landing on doorknobs, counter tops, the bare back
of a boy whose breath is packed
in boxes, sealed. Here, he is still asleep
in my bed. There, somewhere, in another life, maybe in the light
of California morning, he is unpacked,
saying, isn’t this nice, and it would be, the ocean big
across the street, our knees finally unshaking. Here
we have small feet, knuckles, quiet elbow creases
reaching. Here I am, reaching. Here he is,
sleeping. Outside it is raining, and when it is light, the light
echoes off the wet ground like a song
I forgot to tell him about until just now.

about the author:

ealexanderEmily Alexander is a writer, a student, a clumsy waitress, an Idahoan, an older sister, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Her poetry can be found in Potluck Magazine, Hooligan Magazine, and Harpoon Review, among others. She was recently awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize at her the University of Idaho, where she is working her way through a degree in Creative Writing.

My Empty Stomach by Ashlie Allen

I am too dizzy to eat, though the lemon cake smells good. She made it for me because she knows I am sad. We will argue when she finds me in here, a bit lifeless, though I laugh like someone who is passionate about joy. My wish is to fall asleep until the cake molds and she doesn’t care anymore. I finish the last drop of Merlot as her hand twists open the door knob. We scream at the same time when she enters. I stroke the bottle’s neck as she kisses mine, her doleful sobs bringing the hairs on my body to life. I imagine she is feeding me and cry too. My stomach feels better empty, empty like the rest of my body.

about the author:

Ashlie Allen writes fiction and poetry. She also enjoys photography. Her favorite wine is Merlot.

Two Poems by Cara Lorello


Through a single window with vertical paneled curtains
drawn back, I watched clouds cast off
in long strands across a panorama of electric blue,
weightless on winds drawing one ill-formed
shape into another like tapestry threads,
each giving rise to a singular gliding web
reflected on a clear day in the waved contour
of land-bound sea.

You killed time on your slow-moving tablet
as the local Wi-Fi signal ran weak the three days
we were there.

The view was our sliver of calm
one brief moment to the next,
a little feast for the eyes, save for the sparse comforts
of the motel itself likely built sometime in the
early 70s. I judged this by the faded quality
of the orange-green bathroom tile, wood-veneer finish
and latch hooked rugs of the single
we booked cheap for the weekend rate.

Thin walls picked up every noise made in the adjoining units;
the sources of the noise unclear as the words spoken
unless the words were ‘room service,’
every footfall brief as the distant port lighthouse’s
beams we mistook at first for storm lightning.

Every sunrise the surf took on rich reds and copper
tones so fine whole reefs gleamed bright as above,
color upon changing color,
hiding true face until darkness resumed.

Then the view changed back to like the night we arrived:
black upon black where the moonless sky met sea,
only the sound to remind us
we were miles from home.


Rested in lap happily shuffling,
my new mood stabilizers
firmly bottled and tagged
as I drive down Wabash from the pharmacy
past the Eisenhower-era playground
devoid of children,
snowcapped and crystalized
in absence of warm bodies, hands,
pounding feet.

From behind the wheel I go back,
to the winter I turned eight and saw
a place much like this, suspended
in same cryptic fashion,
how grave my mood became
after climbing to the top
of the big red slide hearing only
the eerie clang of my boots
on the ladder,
finding the way down blocked
by wet snow, browned leaves
frozen within.
My desire for the familiar
joy of that place going unmet
ran deeper than a need
for sun and warmth,
but to my eight-year-old mind,
it was simply a sadness
no amount of warm hugs
or Happy Meals could fulfill.

Later on in therapy I learned
this might have been my first
psychologic break,
that moment of crossover
between passing blues
and a chronic depressive state,
how a brain can ‘malfunction’
by robbing itself of a thing called
serotonin, of dopamine,
upon a sensory stimuli.

I recall, too, from that cold afternoon
how muted the brilliant red
of the big slide appeared,
the bright blue and yellow
rocking fish and birds
I rode on many sunny days
sat still as if in wait, peaked
under bleak gray skies.

Contradictions too complex to grasp,
the need to grasp at something,
some bright thing that could not
be found where it once was
made existence the worst thing
next to sickness, shaken by cold.
I walked home from it numb,
the roots of something dark
trailing behind, still growing
to this day.

The pills, my latest poison,
rattle again from below
as the park block gives way
to multilane traffic
and stoplight glow.
the memory passes with it,
leaf-light. My impulse is
to credit this to the chemicals
already working their science
in my blood per careful, measured
dose, the intensity with which
they always shine under
the pharmacy lights,
small in size, varied in color,
in name, in potency,
but each one held the same mix
of fear and joy when first taken,
same mix of sour powder and tepid water;
what correction must taste like
to the troubled brain.

about the author:

Profile PHOTOCara Lorello is a lifelong resident of Washington state where she got her start as a high school journalist and graduated Eastern Washington University’s technical writing program. Following college, she worked five years as a full-time reporter before moving into freelance writing and the Inland Northwest poetry scene. Her writing and poetry have appeared in past issues of Vending Machine Press, SlushPile, The Sun, The Smoking Poet, the Spokane-based journals Love&Outrage, Riverlit, and the 2014 poetry anthology Railtown Almanac.

Unrecovered Poem by Samantha Madway

Rooms filthy from all the sorrow.
Trashcans filled with tissues filled with
snot. Dark circles dyed under every eye.
Dead skin cells, bits of nails from
nervous nibbling coat all we can see
(and all we can’t).

This is what we’ve come to:
watered-down worst-coffee-ever since
the cup of coffee yesterday from the same kind
of place, poured out and prayed over,
even by those who don’t pray; even by those who
never drank coffee before coming here; even by those
who still don’t drink coffee, but like to hold a cup
so they can feel less alone.

about the author:

MemyselfandFred_SRMadwaySamantha Madway is engaged in the lengthy process of transcribing hundreds of pages of her writing from barely legible blue ink into reader-friendly (twenty-first-century) Times New Roman type. She loves her dogs, Freddie, Charlie, and Parker, more than anything else in the universe. Visit her online at or

About The Universe by Eleanore Lee


Why worry? In five billion years our sun will become a spuming red giant.
Will it matter then who got Mother’s Ming dynasty vase?
Hell, the old family farm will be even more gone-
As well as that subsequent housing development with its mini-mall.
The universe is restless, said Physicist Max Born:
It’s said black holes perturb their neighborhoods.
There’s quantum entanglement. Any order, goal, or form?
Heisenberg wrote about quantum uncertainty….and I know less than I ever imagined.

Though it pours on and on, that river of time
From where I sit, I can’t see where it flows
Or whether it’s ominous-murky or bright and sublime.
Could it flow us to angels with aspects aglow?
The Big Bang’s at the start, but what’s at the end?
Is our universe just one? Does time break? Can we mend?


about the author:

ELee-Photo on 8-15-16

Eleanore Lee used to work for the University of California system writing research policies and legislative analysis. Now she is getting to do what she always wanted to do, write poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in a range of journals, including including  Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Compass Rose, Crack the Spine, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and The Portland Review. She has won poetry awards from the Atlanta Review and the California State Poetry Society. She is a graduate in English from Barnard College but she wishes she understood more about astrophysics.

A Brief History Of Cola by Glen Armstrong

Though cola is undeniably a cultural construct and any modern, identifiable culture should be able to construct a Rube Goldberg-inspired machine, to speak of “xenophobic cola” is to mistake liquid for flow. Once the machine is set up, it might be triggered by a neighboring culture, but the cola’s chilled brown sweetness should remain as it ever was, a reward for taking a risk rather than the risk itself.

A Blue Throated Bee-eater flies over the sleepy Southern town. As any bird would, it thirsts, contemplates landing, tires of the sky but understands the world’s coded dangers. It is the cola machine, not the cola, that demands a certain currency, that fears the ten-sided double peso, that masks its dark honey in shadow and aluminum.

about the author:

Armstrong.2Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks: Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, Conduit and Cream City Review.

Two Poems by Shoshanna Beale


In this grey and desolate world I wander like a ghost
through haunted cityscapes and narrow muted streets,
and I search and search

I walk through silent streets, past houses drawn with drapes,
walled in high brick fences that speak in a fierce dog growl:
‘you’re not welcome here.’

I pass shadowed man-shapes that reach out twisted limbs
to scratch my face and pull my hair with spindly hands
while bright round eyes peek between their branches
and watch until I walk past.

These dark streets are a shroud that hide my restless feet
and wandering eye—I am a ghost, unseen, unheard.
I search the skies and the streets for escape from an unknown fate,
for answers to questions I’d never thought to ask—

until light blossoms in the dark; windows like welcoming eyes
and an open gate seems a mouth about to speak
And I put aside my restless search until tomorrow night.

Spring Dreams

Spring is coming, the tension of new life,
new starts and second chances fills the air—
Queen Mab waits, a feather raised like a knife,
for me to leave behind the day’s affairs
and fly with her through the brightening sky.
She taunts me with fresh grass and bright flowers,
warm winds and a golden smile from up high,
birds singing in a riot of colours—
but though my heart yearns to follow her call
this mountain of work cannot be ignored.
I watch the sun like it’s a bouncing ball—
drop paper and pen and run to the door.
Life’s too short and second chances can wait
for the sun to set and spring to abate.

about the author:

Shoshanna Beale is Melbourne-based writer, poet, and novelist.   She writes poetry, short stories, articles, reviews and maintains a writing-orientated blog.  She works as a freelance writer and editor and is currently finalising her first novel.  You can see more of her writing at .

Prodigal by Michele Madigan Somerville

When the clock strikes, the masks are delivered.
I pause in a doorway, a shade,
a champagne glass in my hand.

Station stop: Build the pyramids.
If you must petrify,
think: cornerstone?
Have an appetite.

Maybe Liz Taylor
graces us with her presence.
On one of her digits,
a blinding iceberg gleams.

A Roman soldier at il Colosseo
poses for a photo,
growls “I’ll kill your boyfriend.”
Just don’t let the feather-helmets
break your legs.

Who even knows
whether this is anything?
This thing we built in a day
its climate characterized
by Latin bathtub vocalics
and echo ravines of utmost concern.

Trevi Fountain. Brooklyn Map, a dress
from Butterfield 8. One thing is certain;
the invisible surface of the moon is visible,
and the night is lousy with stars.

Once you come to know all dogma
is metaphor, the green spark of now
noses upward. Standup
soul-singers, come ye swift
revolutionary like revolving
doors. Mind the gap.

Eat it, Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Props to Ganesh. Have trunk will unravel.
I’ll be dead before you get me.

about the author:

My 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. I also write essays and have been published in The New York Times and the Harvard Divinity Bulletin. I teach in New York City, and I am an avid painter.

Two Poems by Betsy Martin

The Biosphere

This storm is strange for Tucson,
the frigid rain
sprayed down
the way the gardener
hoses bird excrement
from the bricks.

The purple teeth
of the mountains glisten
darkly as we make our way down
the sleet-strewn paths
toward Biosphere 2.

My dear friend Randy,
in shirtsleeves,
red-cheeked from the chilly raw wind,
his white hair wild as a bleached tumbleweed, whoops,
I love it, I love it, I love it!,
and tosses his head like a young stallion,
almost losing his balance,
while the rest of us shiver in coats.
He carries his bad arm close,
a crooked branch
struck by lightning.

Under the dome,
scientists, like minor deities,
experiment with the effects
of climate on flora and fauna;
what will thrive,
what will wither.

Where she is now

In my heart,
of course;
in my face,
they say;
in my head,
hanging pictures
in the art gallery,
small and distinctive,
she could have curated,
instead of pushing a broom around the kitchen,
her dissertation gathering dust,
and saying,
as mothers do,
I’m happy with my life,
I’m happy with my life.

about the author:

BetsyMartin_photoBetsy Martin has published poetry in Atlanta Review, Cloudbank, Diverse Voices Quarterly (Best of the Net nomination), Green Hills Literary Lantern, Juked, The Louisville Review, Weber—The Contemporary West, and many others. She works at Skinner House Books in Boston and has advanced degrees in Russian language and literature.

De Stijl by Sarah Vernetti

Claire stands and struggles to find her balance. The walls, the floor, the ceiling converge as a single plane, the seams between them impossible to distinguish. She begins to move forward, swaying, her arms extending out as if she’s groping in the dark. Soon, a black bar appears in front of her. She steps over it and enters a field of cardinal red. Then comes bright cobalt blue. Finally, Claire reaches the end, a solid yet translucent sheath through which she cannot penetrate. Beyond it, a parquet universe holds other worlds like her own.

about the author:

Sarah Vernetti lives in Las Vegas. Her stories have appeared in 300 Days of Sun, Boston Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review, Foliate Oak, a previous issue of Vending Machine Press, and elsewhere.

Speed by Alice King

That summer was a hairpin curve taken at ninety, blue lights lost among trees. The humid air shivered with rebellion, and my mother’s tears formed the heavy raindrops during that summer thunderstorm. But what does a teenager care what their mother thinks or says or tries to do for? She was idling at zero while I was going a hundred in the shotgun seat of his red speeding bullet. Faster, I didn’t want to see the world, I just wanted to feel its colors. A blur of infinite light and dark, bright and obscure, like his car when it went airborne. A moment, just a moment, and we were flying.

about the author:

Alice King is currently a junior at Longwood University. She is majoring in English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. Alice began writing in middle school, and has won two short story contests. Two of her poems, “shiver” and “Daughter,” are published in Crab Fat Magazine.

Overpass by Alison Hicks

Two days after
my mother died
I lay on the mat
in the storefront studio
down the street from the tracks.

My mother appeared
at the top of the overpass.
I waited for her
to come closer,
but she stopped,
as if this was as far
as she was allowed to go.

She gave me the look
I’d seen many times before
when she needed to leave.

I started crying
as silently as I could.
I didn’t want anyone
to know, or ask questions.

Down the steps,
crickets balanced
on the basement walls.

about the author:

Alison. Carmel.6-13Alison Hicks is the author of Kiss, a full-length collection of poems, a chapbook Falling Dreams, and a novella, Love: A Story of Images. Her new collection of poems, You Who Took the Boat Out, is forthcoming in 2017. Her work has appeared in Crack the Spine, Eclipse, Fifth Wednesday, Gargoyle, Louisville Review, Passager, Permafrost, and Whiskey Island, among other journals, and is forthcoming in Green Hills Literary Lantern, and Blood Orange Review. Awards include the 2011 Philadelphia City Paper Poetry Prize and two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops.

Everywhere by Lisa Harris

under rocks, edging out beneath rotten logs,
on tendrils of Creeping Jenny
on fingertips
on your kiss
already a memory.

On the kitchen floor
in falling feathers slipping out of nests,
she looks for daily epiphanies–
and is met
by the living and dying
and tingling sadness
or is that the sound of a train?

Somewhere in Kansas or Paris,
crossing the Rockies–
chugging along the west branch of the Susquehanna
where a memory remains of a girl fishing
and that memory once vivid is now

a broken chord in the key of C.
She wishes for a small band
of light to encircle her–
some illumination–

maybe a fragment of the Aurora Borealis.
Pink, no green–
to circle and circle–
a hawk — landing on her heart.

about the author:

Lisa Harris, MFA (Bard College Avery School of the Arts), writes poetry, short fiction, and novels. Recently, her poetry has been published in journals such as, FACETS, SLAB, The Coe Review, and descant. Her novel, ALLEGHENY DREAM, won first place in THE AUTHOR’S ZONE, Pittsburgh, 2015. Crack the Spine published “Three Women,” a linked sudden fiction, this spring, and The Penmen (University of Southern New Hampshire) published “Birds of a Feather,” an excerpt from her novel, CROW KNOWS, forthcoming in 2017 from Ravenna Press (Seattle.)

Marriage For Dummies by Andrew Kuhn

Remember that we are all dummies here,
and must never label each other as such.

Say “I” a lot. As in,
“I like how you look in those pants.”
Or, “I admire your persistence in trying to master that ukulele passage.”

Not, “I wish you would at least pretend to listen when I’m talking.”
Or, “I want to kill you when you clear your throat.”

You might think that sarcasm
is the spice of conversation.

Your spouse might instead call it
the acid reflux of conversation.

Even as spice, a little goes a long way,
and likely too far.

Learn to be quiet with one another
without thinking about bleak modern theatre
(Beckett, Albee).

In marriage as in theatre, though,
the suspension of disbelief is a key element.
If necessary, attend local amateur productions,
for practice.

Spend together just the right amount of time.
Of course, that will vary, and neither you nor your spouse
will be confident you know what the right amount is,
or agree on that for long.

If you must fight—and you must fight—
fight efficiently, and try to fight fair.

Do not in heated moments, for example, declare
that your spouse is exactly like a parent of his or hers

in having some trait that you have previously agreed
can be utterly unbearable, even if—
especially if—you both know it’s true.

Recall that marriage is not a mixed martial art
except in its final throes.
No pun intended!

About sex: yes, with each other.

Children and money pose problems,
but beware what happens when they go away.

Everything in moderation, but especially

From time to time, but not on a schedule,
look at your spouse and let yourself feel
the weirdness

that among the world’s billions you chose
each other
have kept each other
not because it was fated
or because it was time
or the friends in common, many long gone
or because she thought you were funny
or because of the smells and textures and tastes
of your respective selves then

but because together and apart
you would knit and ravel
the sleeves and rents
in this loose and constraining
gossamer garment

against all weathers
still holding your warmth
still not undone

about the author:

IMG_20160810_155449In the course of becoming a poet and psychologist, Andrew Kuhn has sold firewood, rebuilt apartments, done aid work, and worked as a journalist. His poems have appeared in Able Muse ReviewChimaera, The Mailer Review, and other venues; new work is forthcoming in Common Ground Review and The Heron’s Nest. Kuhn also conducts interviews with distinguished poets in support of the Katonah Poetry Series, an organization that has brought live poetry readings to Katonah, NY for almost fifty years. Kuhn is a graduate of Yale University, and the City University of New York, where he received his PhD in clinical psychology.

Three Poems by Alita Pirkopf

I have learned to walk

I have learned
to walk in white fog—
so warm it stifled
and turned to thick steam.
It didn’t burn;
it smothered.

I have also learned
to walk in white
winter fog,
to breathe bitterly,
hearing my words
freezing and falling
into ice particles
that piled around
my already frozen feet.

For a while,
I was stopped,
stilled in whiteness—
summer, winter,
dreams and day.


Even the sunny days
become suddenly
black bursts of wrath.
There is no stopping this.
Rage rolls around like the sun,
violent and explosive, then
regularly disappearing,
while all my earth stands stricken—
a lightning-struck forest. All about,
everything stands naked and blasted,
or falls like black pick-up sticks.
Even the tundra waits to regain
its tiny but immense hold, its flat-
out loveliness. Color gone,
black peaks loom above valleys
that lie bone-filled.

Easter suddenly sunny

Easter suddenly sunny
the storm gone the winter coat
cold morning over and brunch
and bunnies and egg hunting
all under blue warming sky.

Sun above all the rest of day
and I, wintered-soil digging—
familiar, like the garden,
with worms and wild roots
with bones and questions—

sift memories and earth,
go deep, passing past—
unworried with meanings,
planting, early bursting,
everything bright, hyacinths.

about the author:

-1After growing up in Seattle, I attended Middlebury College in Vermont. Later I received a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Denver. I became increasingly interested in feminist interpretations of literature. Eventually I enrolled in a poetry seminar and poetry became a long term focus and necessity.

Two Poems by Helen Wickes

January Dazzle

What did we know then—clock ticking,
spilled salt, and that one faucet—
bitterly, bitterly. The heart stammering
something soft—little felt hammers

over taut strings. Then it was quiet,
remember, even the trees were quiet.
Jar of darkness outside tipped over,
out spilled the moon, whose intricate

mythology we no longer needed.
For the moment, assuming bliss exists
between rapture and exactitude,
remember to watch for it.

Church bells rang and white pigeons,
in a clamor wheeled through the ivy—
no catastrophe—whole city full of life,
so much life, the bright second blazing

April, Mid

The sun gone down, and April’s almost big moon
hanging in the dusky sky.

A few odd birds, newcomers, weekending here
with plaintive sounds, skitter the orange tree,
not finding what they want,

as other travelers do, complaining about fog,
about crummy soap in Milan, weird coffee in Philly.

The home front settling in, fat guy across the street
raises Chihuahuas, Sundays his pack set loose,
the neighborhood in a flurry.

Whole landscape, this very parched and dried-out spring
waiting for a miracle, failing that,
surviving. Wish I could
cut you some roses, let you
smell them; another lifetime, I’ll do that.

Tomorrow’s full blood moon, eclipsed,
middle of my night, may need to set an alarm,
be part of history, say I saw it, say I was pleased
to be alive, that it was such a sight to see.

about the author:

HelenWickesHelen Wickes has lived for many years in Oakland, California, where she worked for a long time as a psychotherapist. Four books of her poems have been published: In Search of Landscape, 2007, Dowser’s Apprentice, 2014, Moon Over Zabriskie, 2014, and World as You Left It, 2015.

Familiar Stranger by Eva-Marie Sher

The crow on the horizon you see in the eyes of the Trappist…
from The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford

I travel the grief
of my ancestors
inhabit their in-
folded nightmares
their dark nebulae
—am shepherd
without sheep
without vision
I press the
shape of my
dreams into the
hollow of my
gilt mirror
assemble my
self from the
of her proverbs
am the mask
on the mask
scholarly robes

I study the
pontifications of crows
trace the She-Wolf
familiar stranger
hairy beast from
Black Forest fairy tales—

northern lights
in the stippled tongue of a
bearded iris

about the author:

Born in Germany at the end of World War II, Eva-Maria Sher started writing poetry as soon as she learned to spell. After emigrating to the United States at seventeen, studying literature and expressive arts, teaching, marrying and raising a family, she picked up where she left off forty years earlier, writing not without humor about everyday life in her adopted country, her memories, her garden, her animals, her relationships, and about growing old in a fast-paced world that seems to allow little time for contemplation.

Psalm by Mark Tretin


The stammer of the crow is me.
The stilted stream is me.
The stinkweed fouling the roots of the sycamore is me.
So here I stand, sick, among blue flowers.
Yet the palest daisies yield honey;
they move the twinning winds.
A shepherd’s pipe fifes;
silver tones are big red
falling apples.
I am fallen and have come away
from the source of sweet waters.
Long grains bow their heads.
A wind stills itself, as one reed
dips down and sets off
an exultation of circles
that touch the marshy shore
as a heron slowly lands
and scatters the minnows

about the author:

20160810_134933My writing has been published or is forthcoming in Bayou Magazine, Burningword Literary Journal, Caliban Online, Common Ground Review, Crack the Spine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Faultline, The Griffin, Lullwater Review, The Massachusetts Review, Moon City Review, The New York Quarterly, The Painted Bride, Paperstream, The Penmen Review, Pennsylvania English, The Saint Ann’s Review, The Round, Spoon River Poetry Review, Whistling Shade, Ghost Town Literary Magazine, Qwerty Magazine, and Willow Review, and I was the second runner-up for the Solstice literary magazine poetry prize in 2013. I am the 2015 winner of the Audrey Wasson and Carol Leseure Scholarship in Poetry. My poetry collection Pink Mattress will be published by New York Quarterly Press in 2016.

Behavior Pattern by Frank Rubino

I have very much liked you—
to feel one has acted well—
My behaviors were in admiration of you and perhaps
imitative beyond healthy,
like apes learning to fish for ants
octopuses learning to screw open
jars. If the whole thing has been
an exercise in getting your approval
I was living your life—
the terrestrial life—
the human life

though you did not feel it—I charged a few pennies a day—
You paid to give me your attention

I have very much enjoyed your design—
to feel one looks with discretion—
I thought I had picked the perfect
watch and you pointed out several
typographical disasters on the face
like twelve’s two crowding the one
It was true! I never wore that thing again but
I had many scotches with you in Times Square
I’d like to throw out time itself, not simply the watch
And that is what I really love about sex
that everything goes timelessly stagy
A green light in the sky, the hut’s walls falling away

in the East a jungle, Bruce Banner The Hulk
seeking Peace beside you on the tatami mat

about the author:

Frank Rubino’s poetry has been published in The World, Little Light, and New Directions. He studied poetry with Eileen Myles and Ted Berrigan, who taught him to write how you speak but more interesting, and to read everything. Since 1982, Rubino has performed his poetry in front of live audiences at celebrated New York City literary venues such as St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Ear Inn, Cornelia Street Café, and Nuyorican Poets Café. He received his B.A. in fine arts and a master’s degree in technology and fine arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and has worked in the publishing industry for more than 20 years helping publishers keep up with the historic onrush of the internet.

Rubino’s poetics admit uncertainty and gaps. As Kierkegaard said, “It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand…”

In 1998, Rubino and his first wife traveled to Russia to adopt a baby boy. (Three years later, they did the same in Ukraine, returning home this time with a baby girl.) The experience of adopting a child in the post-Soviet bloc is the subject of Rubino’s novel Boy American, published on Amazon in 2010.

Rubino lives with his second wife and four children in New Jersey.

Firefly by Gladys Justin Carr

I dabble in wings in variations of flux
Heraclitus is my friend everything in the world
is my living room I am not pretty
but let me show you my light
here I land on your fingertip
no no do not crush me
I fear the dark as you do
there are others I could have visited
the bombardier beetle the death’s head moth
a flying spider or two but
I like your shuttered home
it bristles with alacrity
on your wall the action-oriented Picasso
has your blended eyes & half your neck
shafts of a broken body after suicide
a vase old flowers bend as if
bowing to you prince or pauper
you write to save your life
to give everything a name
mine is Lampyris of Coleoptera
how’s that for a title well
it did inspire Heber in his tour through Ceylon
to say (tilting purple) that I light my lamp
of love (to put it mildly)
weightless I am with my multiple lenses

you not so much you are stuck
lumped curdled grouched grunged
hardwired three-quarters blind
I will teach you 16 ways to see again
through your nocturnal eye
you will see pieces of planets
crash of sunblades
you will sew up the stars
you will see through walls
of the universe long after
I have fallen on your table
but you will never

about the author:

I am the author of Augustine’s Brain – The Remix and coauthor of Edge by Edge (Toadlily Press). The following chapbooks are forthcoming: American Love Story, Spectrum, and Spring, you bitch. My work is featured in The Best Of Toadlily Press: New And Selected Poems. In the past seven years, I’ve been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize.

On a Photograph Never Taken of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Friends, Manhattan, May 1, 1920 by Benjamin Goluboff

Fifth Avenue had been cleared
and they drove Stanley Dell’s Buick
twelve blocks down the parade route
before a cop chased them off.

This day last year, with all the servicemen
coming home from the big dance in Europe,
there had been real trouble here.
Scott would sell Mencken a story about it
where the moon rose magically over Columbus Circle
when the violence was over.

This year’s visit was a ceremonial return.
The photograph would show three college men,
hors de combat in summer-weight tweeds,
looking not of a piece
with the grey pedestrians behind them.

Wilson is turned away from us,
perhaps watching for more cops.
Scott is talking, his mobile face
too quick for the exposure.
But the camera loves Bishop,
who looks Ivy-aristo handsome
leaning on the Buick’s quarter-panel.
Together with Scott he holds
a hand-written sign that reads:

about the author:

BLG green headshotBenjamin Goluboff teaches English at Lake Forest College. Aside from a modest list of scholarly publications, he has placed imaginative work — poetry, fiction, and essays — in numerous small-press journals, most recently Chicago Literati, Bird’s Thumb, and War Literature and the Arts. Some of his work can be read at