Altar in a Barn by Margaret H. Wagner

  dedicated to a cowgirl… Torn ticket to a rodeo, stained upside-down wooden raspberry basket, teal, brocaded pincushion the size of a child’s hand, dried bee balm bouquet. Well-worn lasso, shredded and dusty, rusted Campbell’s soup can brimming with marbles, baby bootie scuffed, eyelets misplaced. A black silk stocking, lace on its ankle, draped over rosewood branches crossed to the four winds, silver butterfly charm with busted clasp. Hotel key yoked to plastic diamond shield, letters faded, metal watering can with no handle, yellow coneflower sprouted from a crack in the soil. The marks “n o w” in the dirt,…

Three Poems by Emily R. Frankenberg

  Finally Learn English At a Spanish kiosk with second-hand books or in the Thursday morning market, I think I’ll finally learn English, and (though it’s my native language and I teach it) it springs anew in that terrain of fresh ideas, cities and marshes I knew in dreams where waking reason becomes enmired in the lotus, yes, in that place where things come trembling and pristine with no worldly reservations and its many phrasal verbs sound Viking and exotic, its monosyllables fall blunt upon the ears and all its toponyms invite me. Yes, I’ll finally learn English as European…

Muddy Sake by Kathleen Hellen

Tired of cherry, tired of this world, I sit facing muddy sake and black rice. Matsuo Bashō   they’ll never love you my mother said sipping from the warrior’s o-choko the wine served best when heated, sipped  the rice hauled up in nets, like fish, from fields for generations wine the poets tend like ritual, rice in handfuls, rolled and fanned, sniffed vatted—perhaps over-nurtured my mother said as sure as snow will fall again in Sudo Honke no milk stops at our doorstep no pyramid of pap no wholesomeness three sizes bigger, fatter  who were these half-calf kids who schooled…

Where the Ladybugs Go by Dahlia Garofalo

    We painted little red circles for the ladybugs strewn across the windowsill legs tucked up into their dry bellies for the baby ladybugs, small specks of red kids on the playground smashed between rocks   We painted round black spots for the ladybugs grandma pinched between her cracked fingers and the ladybugs she flicked from the raspberries into buckets of sour bleach   We painted bulbous antennae for the ladybugs auntie smashed against her ceiling with the end of her broom handle for the ladybugs who fortuitously flew into the rainwater buckets on the side of the garage…

Soup Bone Says by Fred Shaw

    Put a fan on it, because that’s how we parch what spills here, caged metal blades carving the air, blowing loose scraps into crumb-lined corners. A recipe for disaster is what we call this place, built on fried zucchini and foot-size fish sandwiches, its brown kitchen tiles iced tea-slick. Septuagenarian, Soup Bone moves bear-hunched and bowlegged, surveying his dining room with its walls decked in gimcrack, tables ringed with those teal leather chairs our aging regulars love, his red tie swinging from a starched shirt steeped in woodsy cologne. He greets everyone by name before chirping, kick it…

Space by Ray DiZazzo

SPACE (Mistakenly untethered at the of rear of the craft, she leaned away to view the earth.)   The slightest turn.            An unintended push            and                   suddenly              you are                        out of touch                 out                     of                           reach                                                            rolling                                   slowly    in a muffled crackling of    radio static    and a depth of night              …

May’s Onion Moon by Emma Lee

    I hold a slice of onion to the only window in this reduced world. The rainbow opposite acts as a reminder this isn’t a prison. Watch the slice turn translucent, transform into an opalescent sphere. Light pollution has been diminished by people settling into more natural rhythms. I crack the window open for the first time and steal a breath of purer air.     Emma Lee’s publications include The Significance of a Dress (Arachne Press, 2020) and Ghosts in the Desert (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2015). She co-edited Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge, (Five…

I Brought My Pitchfork to Dinner by Maria Santa Poggi

  Because I wasn’t in the mood for agreeable conversation. My ancestors, who summoned me here, are drunk. They are slurring their words. Someone at this table committed murder. I’m betting it’s my distant uncle, Andy, who is also a third cousin. My parents are dead but still are fighting about a trip my dad took to the red-light district when I was five. Some things never change. The Italians are yelling, while the Polish are playing cards. There always have been tensions on both aisles of my bloodline. Another great uncle just called me a horse’s ass for sucking…

Dark Violet by Daniel Romo and Steve Castro

    Eggplant or plum or the shade of an index finger tightly woven with string. Restricting circulation in body parts deemed trivial is a favorite activity of young men simply hoping to stay afloat. After all, boys will be buoyant. A surplus of blood is a matter of breadth and breath. A surplus of blood also helps to spread the undead curse. Vampiros lining up victims like groceries, drained purple, then white like a bone picked clean, lying in powder snow. A string, like human hair, can be used to sever limbs. Some people think breathing is underrated. Some…

A Thousand Miles Deep by Yvonne Higgins Leach

    Fifteen years, she’s still cleaning shit out of the kennels at minimum wage. Still saving the dogs too far gone. The biters. The aggressors. The overly anxious.  Hello, Chance, she’d whisper into his dark cage after work. I’m here for you, shutting quietly her truck door. Come along now, singing the long road home.  Scraps-of-life dogs. Year after year, more hay-laden makeshift kennels. Word of “the dog lady” spread. Dogfight-dogs. Amputees. The dogs of PTSD. Hello, Kona. I’m here for you, Hank. Come along, sweet Gunner.  Under the stars, or in the rain, or among the arrowleaf balsamroot…