A Poem by Cassandra McGovern

Wing Walker

A few remaining members from your flying circus
airshow share memories about you and themselves.

Wonder what you felt standing on the bottom wing of a biplane,
balancing with arms outstretched, somersaulting untethered. I remember

when I was a child hearing gasps, cheers, applause from the stands.
After the memorial, we all eat pieces of your favorite chocolate

cherry soul cake, with a biplane taking off in red and blue goo. Then
Uncle Charles and I board his two-seater. I had gently shaken your cremains

out of a flowered Asian urn onto a long silky salmon-colored scarf,
rolling it up, with a little slit at the top, so I slipped my fingers through

to hold it. I remember you jumping off while delaying opening
a parachute ’til seconds before you might have pounded into the ground.

As we gained enough altitude I leaned out the window, slowly unfurling the scarf,
your bones and flesh puffing out in white streams, your spirit a prolonged contrail.

Cassandra McGovern writes poetry and memoir. Her memoirs have been published in several literary journals, including The Massachusetts Review, and in the forthcoming issue of online OxMag. Cassandra’s poems have been published in two anthology collections, Five Poets Write about Aging, Illness, and Mortality and Fresh Pipes. In July 2015, she was a finalist at Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award through Chicago’s Guild Literary Complex. Recent poems have been published in Olentangy Review and forthcoming in Not Very Quiet’s inaugural September issue.


A Poem by Sierra Jacob

Caneland — VIII

What if I dreamed an ocean of sugar?
On the other side of every fence line, corridors
of watering ditches are only graves. Horse ribs
moon out of the grass. Pyres of cat fur. I knew
two girls missed after a week of rain. Both
bodies were found miles away from their back
yards—all I can imagine are pink inner-tubes deflated.
These are not for play. The set irrigation
runs a pair of falls through the gulch
behind our house. Call the dogs. Slit legs on
fields of sleeping grass. Cool everything
in the deep muddy pools for hours.

Sierra - Cover - Final - CopySierra Jacob‘s chapbook Caneland is now available from Atomic Theory Micro Press. Order your limited edition, hand-sewn copy now!

Sierra is an MFA graduate at the University of Montana, where she received the Richard Hugo Memorial Scholarship for poetry. Her poetry has appeared in Cream City Review, Sonora Review, Yemassee, The Louisville Review, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, among others. Sierra is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She was born and raised in Ha‘iku, Hawai‘i.


A Poem by Ross Robbins

kumquat – the fruit itself

There are, of course, layers upon layers.

There is the fruit itself, the experience

thereof. The two magnify each other

in turn until a bright hot spot begins

to smoke. The anthill is sent into a panic,

a leg flurry. I never ate a kumquat—

cannot say if you peel it or swallow it

whole like a carnival goldfish

slurped on a dare. Later you’d risk

your first kiss by the Zipper.

Just then the fireworks lit up the river.

You looked out there where hairy men

scurried the barge. “Kaboom,” you whispered,

                 imagining Death.

Ross - Cover - FinalRoss Robbins‘ chapbook The Book of Definitions is now available from Atomic Theory Micro Press. Order your limited-edition, hand-sewn copy now!

Ross is a poet and painter based in Portland, Oregon. His previous publications include I Want to Say How I Feel and be Done With It Forever (Bone Tax Press, 2013), All In Black Blood My Love Went Riding (Two

Plum Press, 2014), and in late 2017, Two Plum Press will release The Three E.P.s, a collection comprised of three sections excerpted from three different full-length manuscripts. His poems have appeared in many lovely journals including Assaracus, Hobart, The Nervous Breakdown, The Fanzine, and Forklift, Ohio.

Ross was the founder of Bone Tax Press and the Bone Tax Reading Series. A lifelong devourer of poetry, his influences are obvious and many. If you would like to read more of his work, find him online at rossrobbinspoetry.tumblr.com or inknode.com/RossRobbins.


A Poem by Tim Carrier

Right Love

Eyes to the grass on San Mateo & a grav-

itational wave. People out for some sun, & the palm trees just looking around. Well it’s August.

Or coming out of the movie at night above Sunset, late on a Sunday. The sprinklers hiss for the palm trees & no one’s around. The dark green hedges & the city below is like little green tents lit from inside.    & at N. Crescent Heights on the cinderblock building the Star Supply Co., in whitewash aluminum letters.

The deer whose running is accompanied by a clicking.

A spotted pony whose mane has grown long to cover his eyes. These are things he is like. Black jeans, & his hand pushing his hair back, in the restaurant.

Would not let go his hand until I had spoken to him for some time. An energy of which the world doesn’t ask any questions.

Standing around in my own grief right now, is the metaphor.

Ryan handing off the bag of mixtapes, in the parking lot. Plastic bag with its little tear & the handmade covers in their plastic cases. Magazine photographs, from W & Spin.

The third voice saying, Drink the soft dirt line. Me saying :    You’ve never been here.

Sun on the asphalt & smoke from the fires up in the canyons, I’m leaving the parking lot.

The systems, that make the poem work.

Later my neighbor in the mean dirt town on the mesa on Saturday night, in the little dirt yard in her nightgown, burning the dry clumps of grass. White nightgown & a firelighter wand with the tags still on in her hand. Little barefoot kids over the chain-link at the Dairy Queen, checking it out. Me a dark green circle at the back of my neck. The backs of their hands smearing their chests & their steadfast chins.

What makes the line a line, Brenda told me, is :


I held his hand & we didn’t need Los Angeles.

When I walked away I was brushing my hands along my body. Jupiter, & Orion. My arms & in my hair.

Someone opened a hydrant, then all the hydrants for two or three blocks. Give up your ghosts.            Or give them a home.

Survival, evasion, resistance, & escape. Orion over the cottonwood at La Plata. Tracks in the arroyo where the bear was. I’m rolling us cigarettes on the little blue bench in the cold & the dark.

Little black jeep. Let’s feel whatever we want.

The R is the profile of a head; or maybe began as the mouth. The Y is the human silhouette; happiness, joy & health; loving in loving relation. The N is every individual being produced; ‘ must be hidden in view, in order to remain intact. ’ Inside the A, the vocalization of the bodies’ energies. The full range of movements of the souls.

In a letter in the mail, to the post office in the trailer,    Tim, life will join us somehow.

Ryan, you have a clearer sound than other people. Climbing up on the roof with the Fritos & beer. The little house’s flat tarpaper roof & fake adobe, & the little north mountains just kind of moving around.

On the high plateau of the hinterlands. Old piñon & juniper hills. The watered fields of timothy-grass & hay.

        What makes this story
        a poem?

                That I’m telling it
                to you.

The running is accompanied by a clicking. Lying down as a belt, three stars. There was an ionized field that wasn’t a metaphor. Of pulling off our shirts. Lifting up our arms.

Tim Carrier is from St. Louis and lives in New York City. He earned an MFA at the Institute of American Indian Arts (attending as a white / non-Native student), and has been a Lambda Literary Fellow and the Galway Kinnell Memorial Scholar at the Community of Writers.


A Poem by Sam Rasnake

A Tuesday Afternoon, “The Architects of Fear” on Mute

There is nothing wrong with your television set.
Do not attempt to adjust the picture.

On the edge of limits of all shapes and
sizes and time, the empty dark — or so
we’ve come to trust, as in counting
all our chickens before they hatch
and so forth – squeezes
tighter and tighter. 

                                              Thin platitudes of grace
will their whispers as far as they’ll go,
stretching one good deed to the next,
until the world makes perfect sense —
at least for the moment.

                                                      And sometimes,
that will do. That’s all you need.

Like one cup of strong coffee, a wash
of morning at the window, the dull embers
from night’s deep burn still throbbing.

Regret is the sweetest ache to let go —

A constant summer wind in black pines,
then I turn around and it’s winter above
the creek, ice over stone, my breath
a dust of words, and I’ve no idea how
I got here — wherever that is.

Getting old is the easiest thing
you’ll ever do. You won’t even
notice. The lines you cross will
always be with you.

                                              I don’t count
the days anymore. That’s the math
of grief. I’ll take the given
and forget the rest.

                                             I don’t question
what I’ve seen. I’ve come to believe
my tongue knows the truth when it says it,
that what’s here is gone already, that dusk
sways the web just to tell the spider a story
of the world – as if she didn’t know already
the difference between history and the last
quiver of panic, as if the telling were reason.

No need to drag Heraclitus or Plato into this —
or their wild notions of cosmos and reason.
Let them be dust. Something to look
forward to, I’d say —

                                                 So, let my silence then
be my silence now. Things end the same way
they start: nothing, then something,
then nothing again.

Sam Rasnake’s works have appeared in OCHO, Big Muddy, Spillway, The New Mississippi Review, Wigleaf, Poets/Artists, The Southern Poetry Anthology, MiPOesias Companion 2012Best of the Web 2009, LUMMOX 2012BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2, and Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011. His most recent collection is Cinéma Vérité (A-Minor Press). He has served as a judge for the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, University of California, Berkeley.


Two Poems by Jesse Bradley

The Ribcage Answers The Call That’s Coming From Inside The House

You admire the luddism of your latest lover
when his (landline) phone rings. You ignore
the urge to be polite, answer before he can.
Love is a murderer, can’t you see?

Of course, you say. You admit
to how many scenes you’ve fled
once you gag at the taste of him
once his skin sours to your touch,
once his name sounds like gunfire.
The voice on the other end sighs,
then hangs up.

Who was that, your lover asks
and you say: it was our future.

The Ribcage Falls In Love With An Ouroboros For The Wrong Reasons

You admire how it devours, how it vomits
when it can no longer stomach itself.
You’ve done everything you can to kill yourself
but it always flows through you like a sieve.

Why do you do this, you ask the ouroboros
as he slithers through you, his scales
caressing each of your bodies, your neck.
I want to see how far I can go
towards oblivion, the ouroboros says.

You ask: why do you stop?
He says: because I’m afraid.

J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and the Yelp review prose poem collection Pick How You Will Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at jbradleywrites.com.


Two Poems by Philip F. Clark

Strange and Silent Hands

After the film, “Wings of Desire,” by Wim Wenders

The angel was quiet, unseen, felt; stood
over me as I read my book. The world
was filled with an impatient fluttering.
He said not a thing, but he spoke to me
as I turned pages, rapt in the attention
of his unworldly bright language. The books
watched us, voices from their pages
waiting to be read, ‘Please, me; please, me.’
It was not a mouth I felt, but a breath
and gentle solemnity. He bent to me. I kept
reading and the angel watched. Vigilant, touched
back by me, he my sentry and I his common man.
I shuddered. This is how we are chosen
by strange and silent hands.

The Cooler

We stop laughing when the doctors come in.
Don’t want to scare them.
Benny (car accident, Christmas, gifts all over the road) 
tries to freak them out though. He’ll make a low sound
sometimes. One nurse ran so fast she almost went
out the window. Sheryl her name was.

Me (smiling, at work, just as I finished signing a contract), I like to play
dead. Because that’s what I am right?
Evan (his brother got angry one night, forgot he had a knife in his hand)
doesn’t like the dark. We hear him crying sometimes.
You get used to the sliding in and out; the murmurs.

Biggest fear: we are mis-identified. Happened to Joe (air conditioner from
100 feet up) once. Almost Pottered him,
but his sister came by just in time. No wallet, nothin on him.
She identified a tattoo of a rose on his ass.
They say it’s easier now — ‘at peace’ — and all that shit.

But it’s not. It’s harder. Because we still
see everything going on that we can’t do. We see you
but can’t kiss you; see the kids or the husband,
the boyfriend, but we can’t touch you — I mean,
we do, but you know. They don’t feel anything.
But then, we don’t feel anything too.
I’m waiting; haven’t been here long. A day or two?
Not sure who’ll come. This is called passing time.

At night it’s different. You think it wouldn’t be —
us in these locked boxes. But it is. Because then
we really are quiet. I think a lot: what if I hadn’t gone
to work that day? But I did.
You can smell the stars at night. Yes, the stars.
They smell like something we reach for. Like
something we miss, but forgot to do.

There goes Ben. Well, I’ll miss him. Long road
home for him. He was visiting his former lover
in New Hope. New Hope, how funny is that.

Philip F. Clark is an adjunct lecturer in English at City College, New York, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing in 2016. His poems have been published in Assaracus, Lyrelyre, The Good Men Project, Poetry in Performance, and The HIV Here & Now Project. Most recently his work is included in Transition: Poems in the Aftermath, the new anthology of resistance poetry published by Indolent Press. His poetry reviews and interviews have been published in Lambda Literary Review and The Conversant. His poetry blog is The Poet’s Grin: philipfclark.wordpress.com.