To Breathe or Not by Ken Allan Dronsfield

Will someone please explain;
why I should bother to breathe?
Why take another step forward
moving closer to obvious oblivion?
Maybe I’ll strategically withdraw;
way back within my scarlet aura;
where a comforting gold yurt exists
floating there in a murky blue haze.
An oasis for Psilocybin tripsters
and amoeba-like shadow dwellers.
Perhaps I’ll just awaken from this
rancid fantasmic imagery and break
through to an orgasmic reality while
sipping on a large tepid green tea.
I feel strangled by a fortuitous life,
where oh where are the good times?
An entire country lives but a cold lie
elected deceptive heartless demons.
I want to go back to the good old days,
I want to live in a Rockwell painting with
a cold coke, while my trusty dog smiles.
Yes, today it’s tough to take a breath.


Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet from New Hampshire. He loves thunderstorms! His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues. His poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net for 2016.

Rejuvenation by Sanjeev Sethi

Like empty calories all emotions aren’t alimentative.
Longueur soaks through my passage. With imaginary
pompoms I stand by my side applauding its apopemptic
moves. In the scriptorium of mind I seal our story, long
and short of my injury, my embrocation. Half-heard
noises take shelter in my solitude to create the nectar
of neighborliness. In such a frame I find my fulcrum.

Sanjeev Sethi

Sanjeev Sethi is the author of three well-received books of poetry. His most recent collection is This Summer and That Summer (Bloomsbury, 2015). His poems are in venues around the world: London Grip New Poetry, Skylight 47 Poetry, The Curly Mind, Indefinite Space, Mad Swirl, Serving House Journal, Better Than Starbucks, The Penwood Review, Futures Trading, and elsewhere. He lives in Mumbai, India.


Confession by Gale Acuff

I’m in the first grade and falling in love
for the first time. In alphabetical
order we sit–I’m the first A of A’s
so that she’s sitting next to me, both of
us at the vanguard of the first two rows.
I love her because she’s near–I don’t know

that then but have figured it out since. I
love you, I write. Do you love me? I pass
the note to her, she reads it (and smiles), writes
something down, and hands it back to me. I
love you, too, it reads. Do you love me? I
do, of course, and say so again with my
thick pencil and my tongue sticking out of
my mouth. I give the note to her–it’s
heavy with sentiment and I almost
drop it. Yes, I’ve written, I love you. Do
you love me? This goes on until it’s time
for recess. I’m too overmatched to play,
so I stand and watch my friends bounce kickballs.
When I look away she’s there beside me
–I don’t know what to say that I can’t print.
She won’t stop smiling and I don’t know how

to act, so I hit her, on the shoulder,
and make her cry. She runs away and I
don’t know what to do but join my friends and
wait my turn to kick the ball and get on
base–I hope. I don’t. Back in the classroom
I write another letter: I’m sorry,

it claims. I love you. Do you love me? I
dangle it across the aisle to her but
she won’t bite. She doesn’t even see me
though she does. I lean out farther and try

to waft it to her desk but it has wings
and glides to the dirty tile floor. I rise
to pick it up but Teacher says, Sit down,
Gale. At least I think it’s Teacher but for
all I know it could be God. I give up

love for the first time then–it hurts too much,
like something I really want but can’t have,
like superpowers, a big allowance,
no chores, good marks, and living forever.
When the final bell rings I’m reaching down
to pick what I’ve been feeling off the floor.
I read it again and then wad it up
and put it in my pocket. On the bus
I fish it out and smooth the creases flat
and read it until it doesn’t make sense.
After dinner I get the shovel and
bury my confession in the yard, where
all our dead pets lie until they go to

Heaven. Maybe my letter will go, too,
on Judgment Day, when I’m dead myself. God
will show it to me again. You wrote this,
He’ll say. Come on in. I will, and angels
will be singing about the kind of love
I really know something about, I mean,
the kind without people goofing things up.
I look back and see God shaking His head.
I’m not too bright but I’d make a fair martyr.

I have had poetry published in AscentOhio JournalDesca nt, PoemAdirondack ReviewCoe ReviewWorcester ReviewMary land Poetry Review, Arkansas ReviewFlorida ReviewSouth Carolina ReviewCarolina QuarterlySouth Dakota ReviewSequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). I have taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

The Night Watchman Jangles His Keychain by Paul Tristram

There’s a hooded half-face
hidden in the full moon shadows.
As he gravel-crunches
along the familiar midnight pathway
of his nocturnal employment…
gently whistling ‘Sosban Fach’
to the phantoms of The Valley’s air.
Although, a quarter past middle-age,
he enthusiastically jumps the three steps
at the right-hand side of the Brewery,
and flicks the thin torch beam
quickly in front of himself,
with a teenagers mischievousness,
to write the name ‘Sian’ upon the wall.
Shrugging off the ‘Owl Hoot’ behind him
and the ‘Fox Yelp’ answering
from the unseen, crouching figures
moving rapidly and thief-like
along the hedgerow which borders
the left field and gateway.
He Stops for a ten minute smoke break
on the front carpark benches,
whilst wishing dreamily upon
the many Welsh falling stars.
The breaking of locks and greasing of bolts,
go unnoticed, at the back of the building…
and barrels of ale are rolled away,
almost silently, into the yawning night.


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) ‘Poetry From The Nearest Barstool’ at And a split poetry book ‘The Raven And The Vagabond Heart’ with Bethany W Pope at You can also read his poems and stories here!


My Brother Again by James Babbs

this morning
I saw my brother again
he was driving a black car
and he suddenly stopped
at the side of the road
so I pulled up next to him
and asked him
what was going on
because I thought
he was having car trouble
it was a bright and sunny day
and we were parked on a road
that seemed familiar to me
but none of the houses looked
the way I remembered them
my brother leaned out the window
and started to give me an answer
but before he could say anything
I woke up and
the radio was playing
a classic rock song
my brother died in a car wreck
back in 1983
and I still have dreams about him

James Babbs-Author Photo

James Babbs is a writer, a dreamer, a three-time loser and an all-around nice guy who just wants to be left alone. James is the author of Disturbing The Light(2013) & The Weight of Invisible Things(2013) and has hundreds of poems and a few short stories scattered all over the internet.

Motocross Drag by Nick Power

After the beachfront fair
they sit

watch men
heave painted scaffold into

argue about
inter-breeding animals
and drug mules

drink and sniff and watch for

there, like hornets under a
gunnysack muffled sun

two scooters burst across the
wet sand
toward the panorama of infinite

each rider dreaming up
the myth of himself

Nick Power

I have had two perfect-bound books, ‘Small Town Chase’ and ‘Holy Nowhere’ published by erbacce-press, and have recently completed a forthcoming third collection, ‘Caravan’. I have had poems published at Your One Phone Call, M58, The Camel Saloon, Coney’s Loft, Ink Sweat and Tears, and PARIAH Press.

Renaissance Man by David Spicer

The grapevine offers you this
toothpick, so savor it: Satan,
though I’m a foundling, I’m no
Faust who seeks your blessing.
No need to anoint me a hero
for orphans to emulate. I won’t
disappoint you, but I’m no Judas
goat. Just shower me with the gift
of a juggler’s calypso beat,
and I’ll wrangle an invitation
to American Bandstand. No need
to coach—I’ve been a cadet
or a peon all my life. I can explain:
Skinning my elbows on sidewalks,
tennis courts, and too much
preparation, I find no manuals
necessary: I’ve written
instructions for streamlined
roller skates. When I succeed in life,
I’ll send you a ticket to my sold-out
concerts, a breeze descending
from the heavens, and immunity
from measles when it rains.
Then I’ll announce the cure:
suck a lozenge, my minions,
a holy gift without a care
in the wind as I whistle us to bliss.

David Spicer

David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and four chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. He is scheduled to have From the Limbs of a Pear Tree, (Flutter Press) released in the Fall of 2017.

For You by Jim Zola

A gray mouse hides behind
a crushed cigarette pack, listens.
The city bus shuts its door
with a whoosh and runs
a yellow light. A man
squeezes his cock through his pocket,
watches schoolgirls framed
in the bus window. One
dark girl gives him the finger.

Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook — The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press) — and a full length poetry collection — What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC

When You Ask Should You Leave Him by John Grey

I’m thinking of retiring this forehead.
It’s too obvious for normal every day téte-a- téte
My hand is constantly brushing
away the hair that disturbs
its fleshy throne
And when 1 lie to you,
I do believe it weighs down on my eves
If I accidentally speak the truth,
it expands, sends reinforcements
to my ageing scalp.
It’s a giveaway in other words.
as much as flushed cheeks, stuttering tongue,
and less in my control.
I can’t be the nihilist who says.
do what you feel
when it’s so structured, so formal.
But I can’t say do what is right either.
when its lines twist and curl.
like my abandoned lovers
scribbling their names.
Sometimes I think
that if I had no face at all.
this would be easier.
Advice could come from the chest you hug.
the fingers you grip.
even the legs that move
so you can follow
The forehead is the soul’s window
that’s the problem
The sweat divides its time
between rain and tears.

John Grey

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, South Carolina Review, Gargoyle and Silkworm work upcoming in Big Muddy Review, Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.