December 18, 2014

Two Poems by Jan Ball

daughter (Chicago) 
my face in your bathtowel
lemon verbena body wash
after you left yesterday
today I wrap my forehead 
in a streakycloud sky
above the jakuzzi lake 
the remote control airplane 
nose-up glides
across the blue pond
like you an aching day ago
pallas athena gone again
to new york city
my mind travels
comes and goes
comes and goes
takes off, banks, returns
I shower, wash my hair
with your pantene blonde
expressions shampoo, 
the shimmering glow 
of the pink satin jacket
you wore over that delicate 
camisole yet your plebian jeans 
at our boxing day party
you’d let me hold your hand
while we shopped in the afternoon
(just a spacing error in your e-mail
looks like a poem to me)
which button are you pressing now
in your cyberworld:
your tapered fingers, minerva nails
empty room, tiger-eye floorboards don’t blink 
lunch with Ruth
I saw you glance at the No Smoking sign 
at lunch today while I was talking. Only 
a second passed while your blue eyes
flitted to the wall, but I saw you. In that 
almost imperceptible sideways flick of 
the eyes, I thought, “Oh, maybe I’ve missed 
something, a poster of the Aegean Sea or a 
catchy quote;” we weren’t seated by a window 
to be distracted by a passing bicycle or pedestrian,
just sandwiched up against a wall; but, no, 
it was only a No Smoking sign.
Jan Ball taught ESL at DePaul University in Chicago. Since she started submitting poems for publication in 1998, 177 of her poems have been published in journals such as: Atlanta Review, Calyx, Connecticut Review, Mid-America Review, Nimrod and Verse Wisconsin. Jan has published her two chapbooks: accompanying spouse (2011) and Chapter of Faults (2014) with Finishing Line Press. They are available on Amazon. Jan is a member of the Poetry Club of Chicago. Besides writing poetry, Jan wrote a dissertation at the University of Rochester in 1996: Age and Natural Order in Second Language Acquisition. When not writing, working out or gardening at the family farm, Jan and her husband travel and like to cook for friends.

December 15, 2014

Crows by Michael Keshigian

Those seers of winter’s calamity
that balance upon
the barren, brittle fingers
of snow suited birch trees
make each bleak, barbed twig
more intense 
with the season’s significance, 
glimmering black 
against the white backdrop
they endure the tendency 
of Fall’s reduction
toward the enigma of desolation,
and linger self-assured
amid the blanch landscape
and accompanying chill,
prevailing, without explanation,
in doldrums of decay
rather than fly off
as their winged brethren 
are inclined to do,
jousting daily
with the naked limbs,
their piercing caw
and lugubrious stare,
mocking the lingering snow
that rattles off petrified leaves.

Michael Keshigian’s ninth poetry book, Dark Edges was recently released this September, 2014 by Flutter Press.  He has been widely published in numerous national and international journals and appeared as feature writer in over a dozen publications with 5 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. (

December 12, 2014

Two Poems by Richard Schnap

Portraits of the Heart

I didn’t know their stories
Only hints from what spoke to them

In a gallery of collages
Where they each made one their own

A smiling man holding
A woman with a mirrored face

A hand in a room reaching
Past a ruined wall toward the sky

A desert highway curving
By a sign with a question mark

A woman on a road wandering
In the winter with her eyes closed

And when they left I wondered
Why they all seemed so alike

Like birds in an aviary
Caught in the same cage


I hear the night
Talking to itself
In an uneasy sleep

As it wanders through
The strange landscape
Of someone else’s dream

Where dead cabarets
Are now the havens
Of lonely ghosts

Who cling to a past
Of easy love
A lingering shadow

Like an old song
You can still hear
From time to time

That grows more faint
As it’s lost in the howl
Of a savage wind

Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

December 10, 2014

Consumption by Coraline Adams

Outside the window, wind blows wayward
snowflakes from branches made bare
and brittle against raw blooms of frost.
You haven’t shaved in a few days;
the sparse, thick hairs prickling
through the skin of your shins,
your calves, bristle as you slide your legs
against each other, against mine,
for warmth underneath the covers.
In the scant moments before you remember yourself
and pull back, I’m reminded
of scattered bursts of cricket song
pouring forth into the stifling summer air,
the stroke of my fingers against the freckles
running sun-splotched down your arms.

There are cultures in which people consume
the flesh of their loved ones
to preserve the knowledge sunk deep
into the bones of sons and daughters,
mothers and fathers, passed on through blood
and tissue sucked from the marrow.
I think of this, and think of you,
and think, maybe you’ll have to eat me up,
brutal and wild, before you’ll understand
how much I love those things
you bury within yourself. 

Coraline Adams is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in the life sciences. Every now and then she likes to step outside for deep breaths of poetry- and fiction-writing in between all of the science. Her work has previously been published in Vine Leaves Literary Journal.  

December 8, 2014

Found Myself by Linda M. Crate

my heart is a wild thing
it cannot be
by my own rib cage
let alone by
all your pressing 
and i'd like to say i'm sorry
but i'm not;
you were always pressing
down on my throat
with your boots
demanding that i conform
but i could not and would not
i am me,
and everyone else is already
taken and why would
i waste my life
trying to be something or someone i'm
originality is something i've always
valued along with my freedom,
and i was not sorry
when i finally found my voice
flew into the sky
shed you 
like a snake does it's skin
without looking back or remorse
for it had to happen;
i had to lose you
to find me
in a sky full of moon and stars.

Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She currently resides in Meadville. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. Recently her two chapbooks, A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press - June 2013) and Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon - January 2014) were published. 

December 6, 2014

He Attempts to Explain his Religion by Mark J. Mitchell

That the mystery is masked
is given. Names are tried on and discarded.
No one name will answer.
A breeze might brush your face,
just after sunset on the equinox, say.
It leaves a mark, a scar.
No ritual can bring that back,
with its kiss of dangerous knowledge.
The mark is always invisible on your face.
Each day you watch the breeze of your breath
and try to tune your hollow soul
so that mystery can play you like a flute.

Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz. His work has appeared in the anthologies Good Poems, American PlacesHunger EnoughLine Drives, and In a Gilded Frame . He is the author of a chapbook, Three Visitors and a novel, Knight Prisoner (both available on Amazon). A full length collection, Lent 1999 is due from Leaf Garden Press. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian Joan Juster.

December 3, 2014

Two Poems by Seth Jani


In my dreams there’s always
A filmy wall
Giving way to secrets.
It might be a portal,
Or a game, or even the
Unconscious Hades of my own mind
Trying to pierce the thin veil
Of waking.
Either way it’s a theme
Over which my mind obsesses.
Night after night, doors and orifices
Opening in the facilities of logic,
Always followed by a feeling
Of something ancient.
As though a portal to the middle ages
Suddenly opened on Third and Pike:
Cavalries and queens pouring out
Amongst the sluggish traffic,
Blood-hungry superstitions floating down
Onto the cold verandahs,
The fierce god of cathedrals
Claiming his place
Amongst the neon valleys of the city
While the swordless citizens
Run away in awe.


Lord, what it is to feel here
Amongst the loneliness of sundials,
Amongst the cryptic lights
Of galaxies, amongst the avenues
Of strangers, and the pigeons
Near the bay.
Let me touch the edge of some
Giant painting; in which the ocean,
In which the vast turbulent cities,
In which all the pain inside
Our bodies, weld together into blue.
Let me feel in the clandestine gardens,
In the sadness filled by clocks,
The one great loneliness
That eventually gives over
To the firebrands of love.

Seth Jani is the founder of Seven CirclePress ( and his own poems have appeared throughout the small press in places like The Foundling Review, Red River Review and Gutter Eloquence. More about him and his work can be found at