Rattle by JD DeHart

She rattled from house
to house
and pain would follow

An eye swollen shut
and family members suffering
from maladies

Now she is a strong woman
with a beautiful voice
that holds her words
as they unfurl on the table

In the space of two hours
she tells me her story
in full.

jddehart

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher. He has recently been nominated for Best of the Net, and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.

Bitch I’m Spartacus by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

I heard somewhere
that Spartacus is some gay celluloid classic
which is fine with me
but I can’t see it
at all.

Outside of the one bathhouse scene.

And this one
on the couch beside you
feigning interest
for the first hour,
but soon playing Bitch I’m Madonna
over and over on her new Samsung
Galaxy iPhone 7.

Angling the camera high over her head
so that she doesn’t look fat.

Playing with her hair
as the Romans look to quell
the uprising.

Ryan Quinn Flanagan Black & White

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a happily unmarried proud father of none. His work can be found both in print and online. He has an affinity for dragonflies, discount tequila, and all things sarcastic.

April, Rumpelstiltskin, And Me by David Spicer

Black-haired April named her golden
retriever Rumpelstiltskin but didn’t
know why: perhaps his cornflower eyes
dazzled her like sapphires, but I
think she liked to taunt college
classmates and diminish their
sense of worth. I guess I’ll never
know because she possessed
a radiance that illuminated
above the throng that sickened her.
I glared at April the day we met,
said You’re no healer, I bet you’re
allergic to crayfish, my favorite food.
You’re probably from the swamp.
Our relationship decayed after that
but Rumpelstiltskin accepted and loved
me. April learned a little from her
dog, and our bond grew an inch.
She threatened me with a desert prison
if I didn’t steal the blueprints
for the hiccup factory or at least paint
a river of buckwheat waving to a town
of laughing babies, but I forgave her.
Instead, I’ll invent a new fence that eats
wind and glides toward new borders, I said.
Alright, that’s an acceptable goal.
I don’t like trials anyway. Rumpelstiltskin
barked approval, April smiled, and I
escaped on my bicycle into the Badlands.

David Spicer

David Spicer has had poems accepted by or published in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Reed Magazine, Circle Show, Slim Volume, Yellow Mama, Jersey Devil Press, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., The Kitchen Poet, and elsewhere. He is the author of one full-length collection and four chapbooks, is the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books, and lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Use Your Words by Jon Bennett

They guy was decrying
a long wait at the post office
and wrote down,
“and then this white lady said…”
This comment
started a shit storm
“Don’t say ‘white’!
Don’t say ‘lady’!
Don’t!
Say!
Things!”
Don’t say things.  Basically.
In language
every sentence
is like a little house
it has an architecture
Some have corbels,
flying buttresses and stained glass
but if you want to be very fair
so one size fits all
and to make
all things equal
the sentences
will just be brick blocks
with slit windows
you can’t see
anything from
like prisons.

jon-bennett-2

Jon Bennett is a writer and musician living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. You can find more of his work on iTunes (his latest album is “A Saint’s Book”) or by connecting with him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jon.bennett.967.

Poem 3 by B.Abbott

On top of flannel sheets,
where our feet do meet;
a place of war and peace.

B.Abbott

B.Abbott the Boston-based writer, whose poems were featured in the Boston Globe and many other online publications, has found his stronghold in the world of social media under the moniker of High Poets Society. His writing is most recognized for its mesmerizing rhyme scheme and clever wordplay. His debut publication High Poets Society is an Amazon best seller and can be found at Barnes and Noble nationwide.

 

Genesis Chant by Stefanie Bennett

Do not wake me from
This dream. Do not
Stir the pyre
Or disturb one stone.
The wildflowers are
In abundance
And the hills serene
With their own dreaming.

Whether it be noon
Or night’s haven,
The opposites console
And walk
A skyway fit for
The evolution of Mammalia
And winged chariots
Of soft gold.

To my right
The marshlands murmur
Legendary
Music
Of birch flute and drumming.
To my left, a desert
As bountiful and clear
As permanent Spring.

In the distance, wise spirits
Ritualize
The song and dance
Of the everlasting.
Behind me,
A fearless rainbow
Bends to kiss
The sacred ground.

Do not wake me from
This dream. Do not
Tamper with
What quietude remains
In which we live
And die.
Do not wake me yet.
I’m not ready
                To face my
Too human murder.

Stephanie Bennett

Stefanie Bennett has published several books of poetry, a novel & a libretto… tutored at The Institute of Modern Languages & worked with Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry [Irish/Italian/Paugussett-Shawnee] she was bourn in Queenslans, Australia. Her latest poetry title is “The Vanishing.”

“I Did Not Get My Own Way… And Now I Cannot Even Masturbate!” She Whinged To The Widow Depressed About Terminal Cancer by Paul Tristram

“This is the first day they have let Me outside
to smoke upon the benches, unsupervised.
I overdosed… slightly.
‘Cry For Help’ they call it?
Ridicule My suffering with crap terminology!
I am not like everyone else on that Ward…
with their broken homes, abuse thingy’s and poverty.
I am not going to apologize for being born into comfort.
I have problems too… Mother thinks only of herself
and Daddy doesn’t put his foot down enough
and when he does… I scream him into absolute tears.
They’ve nearly divorced three times because of Me…
push Me and I shall finish them off properly.
Anyway, this ‘Boy’ rejected Me?
Can you believe it?… I know right!
He’s not even that cute anymore…
I have never been so embarrassed in all My life
and he is the only one who’s not called to ask after Me.”

“Did you try being nice to him?”

“Pardon? Charming! What a horrible thing to say.
But, I guess that attitude is the reason
that your flower vase is always empty
and that you will die exactly the same way
as you spend visiting times… completely and utterly alone!”

paul smoking - Copy

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 ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326241036 And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1326415204 You can also read his poems and stories here! http://paultristram.blogspot.co.uk/

The Parking Lot Attendant by Ruth Z. Deming

There were two parking lots on Sixth Street on the way to the Ocean City, New Jersey, boardwalk. They sat across from one another. “Hours: 8 am until 1 am. Violators will be towed away.” White-haired Mike Malloy owned both of them. He sat in the little booth, fanning himself with his Mets’ cap, a paperback in his lap. His brother, Bruce Malloy, worked the lot right across the street. Often, when Bruce used the restroom over at the Starfish Grille, Mike would dash across the street to park the cars himself.
Divorced and the grandfather of four, Mike had a new girlfriend he met at The Boardwalk Art Gallery. She was quite a bit younger, fifty-five to his seventy, but they’d go over to his trailer to chat and for some nice relaxing sex.
A small painting of The Eiffel Tower hung in his dining room, a gift from Debbie.
In mid-June, the hordes descended on the island. Hot and humid it was. But never did it rain. His sharp eyes scanned the passersby, who walked on the sidewalk or in the street, heading toward the beach just up the street. Was there ever a smell like the salty air and the cool ocean breezes?
Squinting against the sun, he watched parents pushing strollers with as many as four children in them, old couples with linked arms, a woman bent over like a pretzel pushing her walker, young girls with great skinny legs in two-piece bikinis and tattoos. And the daredevils would often go barefoot.
Never judgmental, he simply enjoyed what he saw. Oh, there was always something that bothered Mike Malloy, or, rather, someone, but he kept them in the back of his mind.
“Debbie,” he asked her at their next assignation in his trailer, offering her some red wine in this “dry town.”
“Ever seen a single woman who pushes a deformed child, around six, in a tiny wheelchair?”
She thought a moment and said, “Yes, I believe they were watching at the Miss New Jersey Pageant last week. Couldn’t miss them.”
As he sipped on his wine, he said, “I believe the mother is up to no good. She yells at the little girl when they pass the parking lot. Makes a big ruckus. Everyone notices. Gives ‘em dirty looks.”
“What a shame,” said Debbie, wiping her mouth with a pink cloth napkin. “Sure isn’t the little girl’s fault.”
“Yeah,” continued Mike. “If you don’t want the kid put her in a home.”
That week, Debbie prevailed over her new boyfriend to take a break from his job. There were always kids – especially from Russia and its outlying lands – who wanted jobs. He hired Oleg from Ukraine, who seemed honest and spoke good English. When he arrived at the parking lot he noticed that Oleg was reading, of all things, the play “Uncle Vanya” by Chekhov.
“Where we goin’, my dear?” he asked Debbie as they linked arms.
“I need a big virile man to show me the amusement park.”
“Hmm, wonder who you’re talkin’ about,” he laughed.
They walked over to one of two amusement parks on the island, their feet clopping on the newly repaired boardwalk. After all, this was the summer, everything must be perfect, money-making time! Every few feet, someone had spilled something: an ice cream cone with rainbow-colored jimmies, or half a box of caramel corn, whose chestnut-colored kernels lay splayed out on the boardwalk, trampled again and again.
“Aw, my favorite pizza,” said Debbie, looking down and spying a huge slice, its mushrooms and ricotta totally inedible, unless you were homeless.
Were there homeless in Ocean City? Mike had never seen any, though there were rooming houses near Atlantic City where so-called “transients” lived.
Whooshing noises were getting closer. Mike grabbed Debbie’s hand as they entered what, at first glance, might be a Turkish bazaar or a festival in some long-ago fairy tale. Noises assaulted them on all sides and lights from the amusement park rides blinked on and off. Mike’s niece, Valerie, had epilepsy. If the young woman ever entered here, she’d have a seizure, and would need to be carried out to safety.
Debbie was clearly shocked. She grabbed her chest. “I’ve never been here, darling,” she said, directly into his ear. “Scary! But I like it!”
“That’s my girl,” he said.
He led her to a new ride called the Gale Force. Mostly young people stood in line to sample it. The Gazette devoted the front page to it.  A list of instructions was printed on a board. You must be four feet high. You can’t be pregnant. Empty out your pockets.
“Sit over here,” said Mike, leading her to a crowded bench.
Whoosh! The Gale Force took off like a car in the Indy 500. Twelve people sat in one car. Although they looked very tiny, you could hear their screams. Up and down they flew, going as high as a three-story building. The screaming never stopped as they rode the bright blue roller coaster, which looked to be made of strong plastic.
The ride was over in less than three minutes. Mike grabbed Debbie’s hand and led her to the exit of the ride. Shockingly, the riders looked as if the ride had been nothing more than a stroll in the park.
“I’m not even gonna joke that we try it,” he said.
As they left Castaway Cove, they saw the woman pushing her disabled child down a ramp to enter the amusement park. Mike nudged Debbie, who nodded, and the mother of the child gave them a dirty look.
On a rainy Thursday night, Mike found it hard to stay asleep. He was reading the newest John Sandford thriller, the one about a U.S. Marshal sending Lucas Davenport to an uncharted territory, not unlike what he was experiencing with the mother and her child.
He got up and threw some khaki shorts over his boxers and grabbed a blue shirt, which he put on over that. His glasses were on the end table. He slid his old callused feet with toenails that needed clipping into some old flip-flops. The trip to the beach was about ten minutes away. He hurried. It was three in the morning. A few people were out. There were always people out in this vacation paradise.
He looked up in the sky. Nice half moon and a few scattered stars and planets winking at him.
“Ola!” he said out loud. “Lead me onward, I don’t know the way.”
He passed the beach sign that read, “Do not feed the seagulls. $100 fine or ten days in jail.” He laughed. As he descended the steps to the beach, he saw all sorts of trash, cigarette butts, ice cream cones, Philadelphia-style pretzels, and shook his head.
Removing his flip-flops, he trotted down to the shoreline. The waves were crashing in, same as they always have done. He got his toes wet. Burning cold. If you took a boat out you’d land in Poland, where they had similar weather.
It was a fine sight, the endless rolling waves, one he never tired of. Something told him to jog toward the right. He followed his intuition and soon saw  something glistening near the shore. Was it a mirage? No. It was the little girl in the wheelchair. She had fallen out and lay in the sand. He stooped over her. Her big eyes were wide open. Was she dead?
She stared at him and blinked.
“You’ll be fine, little girl,” he said, sitting her up, and holding her freezing-cold hands.
She managed to crack a smile. Sand covered her face, her hair, and her small misshapen body. He gently brushed the sand away, staring into her frightened eyes.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
She was shivering as she said, “Alissa.”
What a beautiful name, he thought, for a tragically misshapen child.
Mike Malloy was allowed to keep Alissa in his home until an adoptive family was found. He taught her card tricks, the rudiments of fishing, and bought her some Nancy Drew books, telling her, “In your new home you’ll learn how to read.”
She was allowed to see her mother, who came by every week, wearing an ankle bracelet from her jail cell.
Back at the parking lot, Mike Malloy sat and thought about Alissa and her mother. He didn’t even try to read, he was so absorbed by the little girl and her deathly experience. How terrified she must have been as she bravely awaited death.
As always, he stared at the sky. Would it rain today? How hot would it get? Was Debbie selling many paintings on the boardwalk?
“Best job I ever had,” he thought, kissing his fingers and offering them to the sky.

ruth deming

Ruth Z. Deming has had her poetry published in lit mags including Literary Yard, River Poets, Blue Bonnet Review and JonahMagazine. She lives in Willow Grove, a suburb of Pennsylvania in the US of A.

Stop The Bad Word by Ananya S Guha

stop the bad word
enough in drains,
hovels, spit and guns
blood running in its veins
stop the bad word
shoot it, take brains
out. let it foam in anger
but stop it till all the filth
in roads, railway tracks,
deep slums take over.
let the child with matted
hair mouth it, not that
man sitting glitzy,
sitting in high chair
of operations. let money
be soiled, houses burnt
stop the bad word, foul
mouthed, demagogue
of peace, sloven of hope.
twist it till it is maimed
stop the bad word.

Ananya S Guha

Ananya S Guha ( 1957) lives in Shillong, in North East India. He has been writing poetry and publishing his poems over thirty years.

Radiator Cat by Willie Smith

The Persian lies,
on the radiator shelf,
level-true, hauling
from the well of her being
an ever-deeper purr
perfecting her perception
of motion perpetual.
The iron coil below ticks, pops, clanks.
The cat blinks,
unable to see beyond ecstasy.
This is not love. This is heat
gathering above steam inside iron.
The cat yawns; purr decreasing;
easing into preparing, from a split-second
before the too-hot, to stand, stretch and leap.
The Persian, on the floor, shakes herself,
forgetting the perfection of just before;
squinting at, while waiting for,
the next attempt at the tempting.
This is not the flower.
This is the cosmos.

BIO NOTE: Deeply ashamed of being human. His work celebrates this horror.