February 4, 2016

Burden of Hope by Richard Schnap

As the candles melt into the cake
And the wishbone cracks into splinters

And each penny swallowed by the well
Only makes us one cent poorer

The road from cradle to coffin
Stays a journey we must take in the dark

Through a landscape drained of color
Where even the flowers seem grey

As we lift our eyes to the heaven
Hidden behind its webbing of stars

Asking once more for an answer
To the question a thousand words long

And as we find where we’re going
Is the same as where we began

We wrap ourselves in our shadows
To wait for a new sun to rise

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.

February 3, 2016

Two Haiku by Rick Hartwell

Moss and fern at the swamp’s edge
Sinister welcome

As coastal fog dissipates
Eden named anew

Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher (remember the hormonally-challenged?) living in Southern California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at rdhartwell@gmail.com.

February 2, 2016

Seeds by M.J. Iuppa

One joy shatters a hundred griefs.
                                         ~ Chinese Proverb

On my desk sits a neatly made napkin packet marked: RED HOLLYHOCK, 1998. It was an out-of-the-blue gift given to me by my sister Karen who took the time to pinch a hundred or so seeds from flowers growing wild along her yard’s chain link fence. She was thinking of me in our decade of tears. So, instead of buying flowers, she thought I should grow my own.
I must have put them away for next season.  Nearly two decades have passed before I find the packet still intact. Now when I squeeze the napkin with my fingertips, I can feel the hard nib of seeds.  Iwonder. Still, winter. I can only imagine flowers.
Hollyhocks, pink, red, white, growing short and tall, near a stand of mailboxes that face Round Pond, make me lonesome for the days when we ‘d pluck these  ruffled flowers and fashion them into bouquets and sell them to our neighbors who planted them. I remember going door to door with our cardboard tray of bouquets. Flowers, for sale, we’d sing through toothless grins. Hardly, a door closed on us.
Revenue: to return, I think twice. The packet of seeds has a certain weight and shake. Not negligible, by any means.  I hold onto it. Not in a sentimental way— no, not that. Instead, I’ll admit that I’m waiting for an answer.  How loss and lost can still breathe these many years?  Will joy bloom in one of these seeds?

M.J. Iuppa lives on Red Rooster Farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Most recent poems, lyric essays and fictions have appeared in the following journals: Poppy Road Review, Black Poppy Review, Digging to the Roots, and many others.  She is the Director of the Visual and Performing Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College. 

February 1, 2016

The Winnowing Widow by Paul Tristram

On Autumnal, clear skied,
full mooned nights.
She can still be viewed
atop Poacher’s Slope.
Slightly to the right-hand side 
of the derelict windmill.
An echo of something lost
yearning for remembrance.
Wailing melancholy
to the rhythm of thrashing arms
separating the wheat from the chaff
and the past from the present.

Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight; this too may pass, yet. Buy his books ‘Scribblings Of A Madman’ (Lit Fest Press)  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1943170096

January 28, 2016

Mermaid by Sandy Benitez

She knows only the ocean;
its wild, mischievous ways.
The haunting cries of seagulls
beckon her to sing 
of the pale glow of light houses;
the lives lost at sea.  
Gray, bloated bodies bob 
atop the waves like buoys
as boats and freighters drift by.
Tonight, again, as she has for years,
she will mourn their passing alone.
Her voice melancholic 
as whale song.

Sandy Benitez is the founding editor of Flutter Press and Poppy Road Review.  Her latest chapbook, The Lilac City, was published by Origami Poems Project.  Sandy's most recent work has been published in Red Eft Review, Plum Tree Tavern, Dead Snakes, The Artistic Muse: Pohemians, and Houseboat

January 27, 2016

Where You End & I Begin by Mark Danowsky

On this occasion it’s not true
look at me, I’m not you.
- New Order

Under the mask of decision fatigue
and because I have a hand-me-down 
gift card, I treat myself to gourmet coffee
at the end of the shopping trip
but almost pass on a blueberry scone
until I remember it’s you 
who does not like them

Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Burningword, Cordite, Grey Sparrow, The Lake, Mobius, Shot Glass Journal, Third Wednesday and elsewhere. Mark is originally from the Philadelphia area, but currently resides in North-Central West Virginia. He works for a private detective agency and is Managing Editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal

January 26, 2016

Fragment by Marianne Szlyk

Birdsong breaks through; feathery cracks
shatter the dome of clouds.  
Patches of wan sunlight appear.

Birds flit from stunted tree
to stunted tree, from stone
to stone, searching for seeds 

and sunlight, just as they’d
flit in the real forest
miles from this city park.

Marianne Szlyk is a professor at Montgomery College and the editor of The Song Is...  Recently, she published her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, with Flutter Press.  Her first (Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven) was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press.