Rondeau Beginning With a Line From the Gospel of Judas – Mark J. Mitchell

 

I laugh at the errors of the stars,

Dazzled by the impossible dance of cars

And headlights. They didn’t foresee our streets,

Our cities. They only circle and repeat

Their timeless dance and are held out too far

 

Away. They don’t remember how men are—

How they breathe, sleep, forget, love, how they eat

What they shouldn’t. How they scatter and meet

To ponder the errors of the stars.

 

Of course, their mistakes are different from ours,

With deeper punishments, strange rewards.

They vanish into the hollow lands of grief

While we make up games and find relief

Laughing at the errors of the stars.

 

bio pic 1Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and a new novel is forthcoming: The Magic War (Loose Leaves Publishing). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and activist Joan Juster where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city.

The Ebb and Flow – Ken Allan Dronsfield

 

From atop the great redwood trees

dragonflies fantasize of summertime;

of warmer mornings, balmy winds

dodging flycatchers and bullfrogs.

The grasses are green along a pond

baby goslings enjoy the new sunrise;

barn owls love a midnight stellar show

wolves howl and worship the full moon.

Beating hearts prevail in creeks or marshes

deep rivers and great bays ebb and flow

large animals enjoy the salty sweet grass

beautiful wild flowers grace rolling hills.

As the sun now rises in the eastern skies,

from within that great awakening forest

a lone cicada sings his mating sonnet

within the ebb and flow of life’s circle.

 

Ken Allan Dronsfield, Bio PictureKen Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms and hiking. His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prize Awards and the Best of the Net for 2016.

Prophetess in the Wrong Time – Mark J. Mitchell

 

“Horrendas canit ambages.”

“She chants her dread enigmas.”

—Virgil

Aeneid VI, 99

 

Salt monks chant—as quiet as time—

Stone voices inhabit old stones.

She stares through waxed smoke at a bowl

of small words from lost tongues. Tears bind

them into riddles that define

the rite. She knows she must not eat

them. Her hands ripple. She repeats

the chant. Words melt like smoke, like fire.

Stirring in sheets her high school choir

breaks her to wake. The dream’s complete.

 

bio pic 1Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and a new novel is forthcoming: The Magic War (Loose Leaves Publishing). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and activist Joan Juster where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city.

Comparing Scars – James Diaz

 

the apple did fall far from the tree

and went out into the dark

with almost no light

inside

 

some places are all haunting

nothing else matters

but that you leave there shaken

 

when I was younger

I had an impossible dream

that I could grow old

and not be happy

but still be in the world

 

living in a place no one could find

I wouldn’t have needed much

a chair, a table, a bowl, a spoon

a front door

a few years of silence

of forgetting.

 

IMG_8420James Diaz is the founding editor of the literary arts & music journal Anti-Heroin Chic. His work has appeared most recently in HIV Here & Now, Foliate Oak, Chronogram, and Cheap Pop Lit. His first book of poems, This Someone I Call Stranger, is forthcoming from Indolent Books (2017.)

Bali – John Grey

 

Sea water laps against the docks,

the bright, inclusive restaurants,

their gaily painted menus

selling their show

to passing tongues.

 

The air is good enough to eat,

lawa, babi guling,

cascading smells of soy and chili.

 

Night-clubs

soundtrack the breeze.

Some places, its one guy strumming a guitar.

another, the tuneful choral chimes of gamelan.

 

A myna bird rocks on a branch,

converses with the deep loll of a gong.

 

An old woman perches against

the post office wall,

tenun woven cloths spread before her

 

Old men,

their brown faces weathered like figs,

look out at the few moored boats

that appear and disappear

in swaying dock lights.

 

Signposts lead to pleasures great and small.

Sounds or sights, food or drink.

it’s a sorry night

when everyone’s not inebriated with something.

 

unnamed-bioJohn Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. His work has recently been published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, and is upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Another Thing – Danielle Dix

 

It is something to understand

you share the space between the sky

and the land

the time that falls from jumping

to standing

the beat of breathing

the peak and plunge of the sun

But as stone to grain,

from mist to rain,

It’s another thing to change

 

2016-11-13 07.13.17Danielle Dix is a poet with a tendency to focus on the challenges that people create within themselves. She is ruled by her impulsive nature, drools for travel, and is compiling a set of poems that she hopes will not fall prey to abandonment in a cardboard box. She tweets at @DanielleNoelDix.

Kharon’s Glimmer – Danielle Dix

 

Silver in your eyes

spinning dimes

reflecting light

projecting your fall of night

flashing chrome against the hue

of electric blue

in you

and yours against mine catching

the shine of those specks

echoing death

and out from within

without their spin

the ferryman’s bill

the silver still

 

2016-11-13 07.13.17Danielle Dix is a poet with a tendency to focus on the challenges that people create within themselves. She is ruled by her impulsive nature, drools for travel, and is compiling a set of poems that she hopes will not fall prey to abandonment in a cardboard box. She tweets at @DanielleNoelDix.

Da Eye Wifey / Woods Number 1 – Kersten Christianson

 

Title “Da Eye Wifey” borrowed from Shooglenifty.

 

Emerge from the fog road

squint-eyed

to belly flopping waves

jumping from one small sea-

sick ferry to another

saltwater & cod tongues

summer grasses & violet lupine.

Blue butterflies swarm

the sunlit forest.

Awakened, we ramble;

Trans-Canada Highway

from west to east

and back again.

Mile 0,

I’d follow you forever.

Chime of cymbal,

song’s end.

 

img_2972Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Kersten’s recent work has appeared in Cirque, Inklette, Sheila-Na-Gig and Pure Slush. Her book Something Yet to Be Named by Aldrich Press and her chapbook titled What Caught Raven’s Eye by Petroglyph Press will be published in 2017. Kersten co-edits the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she lives in Sitka, Alaska with her husband and photographer Bruce Christianson, and daughter Rie.

 

Erebus – Christopher Eskilson

 

Days have passed since

I

was in my mouth,

long and oddly shaped.

 

The touches

of a dead rock leave me opened wide.

Silence sits beneath a maze of multiplying sand.

 

I had never forgotten a tune the planets learned,

brightening like a spoon collecting

pictures of a gone world.

 

Now, my pupils burn.

The innards of a feeling blacken.

The vibrations sigh

& bury your

excuse me.

 

Let go, spreading out along a road

cutting through my woods.

I rub my tongue in evening as

the pines curl asleep.

 

Listen:

The dream

—its special music—

hums.

 

This is the mind;

cold and black light blue;

the desert carelessly approaches.

 

A sea of squeezing bites.

 

I can’t inhabit where I goes.

An effigy,

a wild silence.

Living, burning, lost control.

 

img_1684Christopher Eskilson is a Junior at Pitzer College studying English and world literature. He is a managing editor at the Claremont Colleges’ The Student Life Newspaper and also an associate editor for Claremont Graduate University’s Foothill poetry magazine. In the past, he has worked as an editorial intern for Red Hen Press in Pasadena, California. Christopher’s work has appeared in After the Pause, 30 N (formerly the North Central Review), Apeiron Review, A Quiet Courage, and others.

The Easter Bunny on a Glass Elevator Going Down – Zach Smith

 

In retrospect the event seems so bizarre, that it’s more like a dream.

My aunt had taken my cousin and me to the mall.

It was in the spring, at some point shortly before Easter.

The Easter Bunny was stationed in a playful land of candies and eggs and fake plastic straw of every color imaginable. This was in an open area at the bottom of the mall’s glass elevator. An Easter variation on the mall’s Santa set up.

I don’t know if this still goes on, the mall Easter Bunny that is, I haven’t seen one in years, but I haven’t been looking either.

The setting was accompanied by music played from a DJ stationed nearby.

At Christmas there are plenty of songs to play on a continuous loop to keep the atmosphere. You don’t even need lyrics. Anyone can recognize “Jingle Bells” by melody alone. The same goes for “Frosty the Snowman,” or “The Christmas Song” (though everyone knows the latter as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”)

For Easter, the music choices are more limited. There’s “Peter Cotton Tail” of course, but it’s not nearly as recognizable, considering DragonForce did a song using the same chord progression and nobody noticed. If you want to get real religious you could opt for the song “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)”… but that’s probably not the best choice either. There are not a lot of “great” Easter songs to play for the mall Easter Bunny. So what is a DJ to do? Why, play some of the contemporary hits of course.

The year was 1991, I was six years old at the time.

When we got to the bottom of the glass elevator to see the Easter Bunny, the song he was dancing to was… “Losing My Religion” by REM.

The argument that the song title is a southern expression that roughly translates to: “losing your temper” is weak at best. The phrase too specifically implies something else. Even the music video is very religious oriented, with fallen angels and so on. Playing that song for the Easter Bunny would be the equivalent of playing Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” at a wedding.

Consequently eighteen years later “Single Ladies” was played at my wedding, with both my aunt and cousin in attendance, despite the fact that that specific song was placed on the “Do Not Play” list. Come to think of it, it might have been the same DJ since both were utterly deaf to lyrical significance and/or irony.

At the mall, I asked my cousin the obvious question:

“Why is the Easter Bunny dancing to ‘Losing my Religion?’”

“Ah… because it’s a good song,” she said, sarcastically, as though I should have already known something so obvious.

That’s debatable… and also not the point.

 

with hatZach is a graduate of Chestnut Hill College and has been writing for more than a dozen years, struggling all the while with dyslexia. His work has previously appeared in Crack the Spine, Revolution John, Fast-Forward Festival, the Short Humor Site and Schlock Magazine, among others. You can find out more about him at his blog: theobscuritysymposium.wordpress.com.

Mushrooms and Onions – Jon Bennett

 

When I first got a kitchen

I baked salmon

and decided, from then on

fish every day!

I only made it once

I’m too impatient for ovens

and still eat from the bag and can

although I do fry up

mushrooms and onions

with my eggs in the morning

I feel this kitchen

has saved my life

although maybe

it’s the soft bed

that came along with it.

 

jon bennettJon Bennett is a writer and musician living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his stuff on Pandora and iTunes. For booking contact jonbennett14@hotmail.com. Most recently his work has appeared in Degenerate Literature, Your One Phone Call and In Between Hangovers.

Fishing at midnight – Richard Luftig

 

a blood-red moon

means me no good

 

and stars winking

their secrets

 

are not about to tell.

bass in this lake

 

have gone on strike

for better food

 

and my lures

are not fooling

 

anyone. but later

after my rowboat

 

has cut through

the last diagonal

 

of water, I’ll climb

the hill to my cabin

 

watch squirrels run

under a spotlight

 

floodlamp across

telephone wires

 

like acrobats

without a net

 

crawl under a blanket

try to sleep leaving

 

any upcoming dawns

to fend for themselves.

 

just-dad-2Richard Luftig is a former professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio who now resides in California. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi-finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia. Two of his poems recently appeared in Ten Years of Dos Madres Press.

Homage To An Avuncular Neighbor – John Michael Flynn

 

At ten I brought him my new

Boy’s Life each month

to share a survival story or two.

 

He did the talking

mostly about the Pacific theatre.

He knew war, didn’t like or glean any sense from it.

 

I did more than listen to his silences.

I grew wiser within them.

I brought their lessons to my father.

 

On sunny days we mowed and raked his lawn.

All winter long I helped him

shovel his drive.

 

Today, I learned he died in bed

while his wife was baking zucchini bread

for an annual church function.

 

His daughters and grand-children

were far away.

No game on TV. No warning.

 

Just the week before, I’d held his ladder in place

while he’d nailed above his garage door

a big wooden yellow butterfly

 

that he’d cut, designed

and painted himself.

He called it Easter Light.

 

headshotjohnmflynnIn 2015, John Michael Flynn was an English Language Fellow with the US State Department at the Far Eastern State University in Khabarovsk, Russia. He is now back home in Virginia, where he teaches English part-time at Piedmont Virginia Community College. His most recent poetry collection, Keepers Meet Questing Eyes, is available from Leaf Garden Press. You can learn more about John and his published work at www.basilrosa.com.

raven’s eye. for vivian – Kersten Christianson

 

she is the sea glass queen

all xtratuf boots and rain gear

trowel and shovel

searcher of shards

of pottery and glass

 

she takes the blue canoe

down to wrangell

a meandering passage

through silvery waterways

lined by rocky beach and forest

 

she is the writer

all creative mind and chapbooks

filled journals and prompts

collector of truths and stories

recorded by pen on paper

 

she will spend the summer

at mickey’s fishcamp

photograph the play

of cloud and setting sun

sort treasures from the beach

organize words on the page

 

img_2972Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Kersten’s recent work has appeared in Cirque, Inklette, Sheila-Na-Gig and Pure Slush. Her book Something Yet to Be Named by Aldrich Press and her chapbook titled What Caught Raven’s Eye by Petroglyph Press will be published in 2017. Kersten co-edits the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she lives in Sitka, Alaska with her husband and photographer Bruce Christianson, and daughter Rie.

When The Wind Came Up – Jackie Davis Martin

 

When the wind came up she hated the world. Before that, before the sand started whirling around, before her ears hurt with the sudden gusts, she’d found a moment of peace, as slim and painstaking as the slight parenthesis of the moon, now obscured by heavy clouds scuttling urgently. Before the moon disappeared, before the wind came up, she’d considered that maybe there was some point to surviving, something to be said for living in the moment the way her grief group was instructed to think. She could see it then, standing next to her close friend, another woman old as she was, but both young because they’d known each other for so many years they carried the former selves within the old and didn’t see the new old. There was some peace in knowing that she didn’t have to achieve anything more and having the company of her friend to watch the ocean, listen to its gentle shushes. But then the wind came up. At first the women stayed, trying to discern the speed of the tide, walking backward up the grassy knoll to the parking lot that overlooked the beach. But then, with sand whipping around them suddenly, they couldn’t see well and sought shelter in the car, which they quickly discovered had a flat, and so called for roadside help and waited in howling wind and the growing dark and had nothing more to say. Now she was back in her own head, locked into a loss as solid as this car, the wind blowing billows of sand, the world too much to interpret once again. When the truck arrived, its lights flashing into the darkness, and a young man with a jack got out, she understood why people found faith.

 

Jackie Davis Martin has had stories published in journals that include Flash, Flashquake, Fractured West, and Dogzplot, as well as story collections Modern Shorts, Love on the Road, and the recent Road Stories.. Prizes were awarded by New Millennium and On the Premise and finalist placements fjdmor a novella (Press 53) and a chapbook of flash fiction (Conium Review). A memoir, Surviving Susan, was published in 2012.  Jackie teaches at City College of San Francisco.