Three Poems by Dale Cottingham

Girding Up                                                 The coat still fit. The arms, the chest, all of it in brown corduroy. And his wool stocking hat. Also out of vogue, that he’d thought he lost, he now pulls over his ears.   He rights himself. He feels smaller and smaller. Through morning’s haze, he looks into a thinning line of days. No telling what he’ll say out there or what stance he’ll take. But he tells himself that sure enough, he’ll…

Two Poems by Ellen June Wright 

You Ask Me Where It Comes From   It comes from anywhere and everywhere.                     It’s the irritant that starts the nacre’s flow  within the shell, the thing that captures your                    attention and won’t let go. Somewhere in the back of your brain as you go about common duties:                      washing dishes, folding laundry,  it begins to form until you pry your mind                     open with a sharp knife, move the mantle  of the mollusk and roll the pearl between your fingers.                      Inspiration can come slowly, grow like a jewel  at the sea’s bottom or like a stone flung from across                      the street by some rude boy—drawing blood.  That’s…

Ellen June Wright Poetry

by Ellen June Wright   After My Life by Mary J Blige When I woke this morning I had been standing before the congregation preaching on the love of God, preaching affirmations of love because before I knew myself, I was loved. No matter the circumstance, I was created from His love. The energy that sparked the ovum to divide was love. Not just biology but God’s love— a force set in motion from the beginning. Not flint striking flint or flesh pushing down on flesh, entering without consent. I am more than cells, more than muscle and membrane. I…

Two Poems by Nancy McCabe

Photo by Kevin Jay Photography Pajama Dolls   They weren’t just any dolls, these gifts from our grandparents, but, an aunt said, special ones, with skirts you could unzip to reveal secret compartments for storing pajamas. My cousin Melinda’s was pink, mine blue, vastly unfair, since my room was pink and hers was blue but our aunt said it would be rude to swap and it was just another example of how Melinda, with her tiny feet and sweet voice< got all the girl credit. The perfume my aunts and uncles gave me made me sneeze, and the bracelets I…

Interview: The Heart of Lisbeth Coiman

by Alissa Bird For Lisbeth Coiman, poetry and literature are a lens through which we can better understand one another. Her distinct voice is the product of a life lived across three countries as a poet, educator, and cultural worker. In her latest poetry collection, Uprising/Alzamiento (Finishing Line Press, 2021), Coiman demands that we confront the humanitarian crisis facing her home country of Venezuela, a crisis born out of political and economic turmoil that has left the Venezuelan people without proper access to food, water, and medicine. This collection, written in both English and Spanish, bears witness to this devastating…

Interview: Ajit Dutta and the Art of Urdu Love Poetry

by Sara Grimes Ajit Dutta is a poet and graduate of UC Riverside-Palm Desert’s low-residency MFA program. His book, A Lover’s Sigh, is a translation of Urdu love poetry in a form called the “ghazal,” comprised of five-15 thematically autonomous couplets. It is Dutta’s work of the heart, combining classical and modern influences ranging from Indian and Pakistani songwriters to historical political figures. Dutta’s translation approach included listening to a wide range of singers performing ghazals. He fell in love with the form at sixteen, after purchasing a stack of ghazal poetry at a bookstore before a train ride to…

Voice to Books: Sharing Personal Experience Through Poetry

Poetry speaks to our souls. From songs to spoken word, sonnets to free verse, there’s poetry for any mood or moment. Poetry is a form that can take on many shapes, tackle any subject, and help people express themselves. All of the collections in this column revolve around poets sharing deeply personal experiences. The poems found in these collections move within cities and dreams, time and space, language and culture to release a truth, an emotion, a thought in the hope that others will connect with them. Finna by Nate Marshall Reviewed by Pamela Pete Full of ethnic slang slung…

Interview: Bill Ratner’s Evolution into Poetry

Bill Ratner’s successful career as a voiceover artist—as Flint on the cartoon G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, as characters on Robot Chicken and Family Guy, and as the narrator of countless movie trailers and commercials—coexists with his varied existence as a performer, author, and storyteller. A graduate of the UCRPD MFA program in nonfiction and a published poet, essayist, and fiction writer, Ratner is a nine-time winner of The Moth StorySLAM and has performed for National Public Radio (NPR), Comedy Central Stage, and storytelling festivals around the country. Ratner’s first book of poetry, To Decorate a Casket, is out this May from Finishing Line…

Beyond This Courtyard There Be Dragons

by D.S. Grauel Gloves, nitrile with the scent of industry, Mask, moist with fetid breath, the two—a double-edged salvation– are not with me at this tender moment. One in the trash. The other, laundry room sink. My face is nude.   I open the door with Barbaresco Nebbiolo in hand, a cellar selection gifted from a friend in Porta Venezia, Milano. Ex-patriot, locked down in the quartiere. Soldiers outside. I swore to save it for my birthday. But it is debatable if birthdays will come.   I step outside into the courtyard for the elixir of life: air. No cars.…

Book Review: Atomizer

by Sara Grimes Elizabeth A. I. Powell doesn’t pull any punches when satirizing her lovers in Atomizer. The collection is a sassy, whip-smart treatise on the deceitful nature of love, using the extended metaphor of scent as a cover-up. Powell brings each love under the microscope of her fierce poetry to see if it is in fact a gem or a lump of coal. Oftentimes it is the latter. She extends the same analysis to all love relationships—romantic, imagined, or familial. In “The Book of Sires”: “My homage: He was an atelier of garbage. How his microaggressions of Paco Rabanne…