The Christmases That Were Forever

A poem by James Jackson


my own advice: treat every gift
like you’re nine in ninety-seven.
rip the heart out of your parents’
wrapping jobs. don’t notice
the hanging phone calls,
the coils of collection,
the foggy snarls at the door,
the stay-in-bed allure radiating
from big, red boxes hidden
behind the couch for after
we opened all the other presents,
for after we grew up,
got jobs.


James Croal Jackson is the author of The Frayed Edge of Memory. (Writing Knights Press, 2017.) His poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. He edits The Mantle and is a former winner of the William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest. Find him in Columbus, Ohio or at his website.

Pornoville

A poem by Jim Zola


The only school in town is Catholic,
all girls, taught by nuns with long curved
fingernails and too much mascara.
Sister Brittani is rumored to sport
a tattooed stigmata and a cursive J
on her inner thigh. The boys in town
prop glassbrick walls and swap fish tales.
Barely puffed cigarette butts pile high
like monuments. Every other downtown
shop is for beauty. Grown men
are pool cleaners or muscled executives
in buttonless shirts. They grunt greetings,
scoop dirty water, shuffle papers, wait
for the women who are nurses,
secretaries and maids all laced
in innocence. They hide their sags
and sores until retirement. Then they move
to Jerkwater, where the big summer
event is a softball tournament
against the circus folks from Gibsonton.
Last year the half-girl pitched a perfect game.

Quasars Make the Best Lovers

A poem by Ryan Quinn Flanagan


Escaping the visual cortex
you need help, like a prospective prison break
in search of sympathetic guards
shimmying your way through a matrix of lights out duct work
to a waiting car
leaving your few meager belongings behind,
and that is what I love about chance, the aging breakfast goer
beside you shoving buttered toast into his mouth could
be so much more than crumbs;
Quasars make the best lovers because they are new
and exciting and you know nothing about them,
like trying on a new pair of shoes and walking uneasily
around the store for some moments
while the commission worker with obscenely good teeth
holds the box; and when a woman has searched the stars
and come back to you, it is only for a time,
but you shave and sit up in bed and read to her
so the long nights of this city seem a little
less monstrous.


Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his other half and mounds of snow. His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, In Between Hangovers, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

This Too

A poem by Jeffrey Zable


I felt very sad, and you said, “This too shall pass. . .”

The door opened and someone entered with a child on a leash.
“He is more than a pet,” the person said, “and if you’d like to pet him
it only costs 50 cents.”

I then remembered the time a teacher embarrassed me in class
by calling on me when I wasn’t ready.
“Child,” she said, “if you sailed north on the Pacific would you eventually
wind up in Japan or Elvis Presley’s house in Memphis?”

With nothing left to lose I said I was leaving
and that I was not only going to find a new school and new parents,
but a new and better way of seeing the world.

I said this to anyone who would listen, but as I looked around the room
I saw that everyone was sucking their thumb and rolling their eyes
as if I’d said the dumbest thing they’d ever heard.

I felt very sad, and you said, “This too shall pass. . .”


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction  have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Some of his recent writings have appeared in Serving House Journal, Mocking Heart ReviewKairos, Third WednesdayFutures Trading, Tower Journal, Jokes Review, and Fear of Monkeys, among others.

Coming to Terms

A poem by Jim Zola


At night, once-dark windows flicker yellow light,
forcing me to imagine lives sadder than my own.

She wears pink fuzzy slippers. A dog bowl lost
in the corner. She believes in radio

romance. Her husband is dust gingerly moved
between crystal angels. She wonders why

I conjure her instead of a hootchie mama
in a snug slip eating buttered crackers,

dancing to the rhythm of her own sweet sway.
She imagines me across the mud shaven field,

the rabbit loved emptiness, this doom that connects us.

Internal Insurance

A poem by R. Gerry Fabian


She has an invisible amulet—
perhaps her soft smile
or her white teeth—
perhaps her gentle hands.
It could be
the disarming quality
of her voice.
Whatever the magic
she is so far beyond harm
that Lloyd’s of London
send representatives
to study her.


R. Gerry Fabian is a retired English instructor. He has been publishing poetry since 1972 in various poetry magazines. He is the editor of Raw Dog Press. His novels, Memphis Masquerade and Getting Lucky (The Story), and published poetry book, Parallels, are available on Smashwords and in all other e-book stores.

The Result

A poem by Jeffrey Zable


When I checked into my room on the 32nd floor I had a view
of the city and what looked like bugs crawling around in search
of food. I stood there on the balcony and masturbated until my semen
went over the edge and landed on the bald head of a woman who had
shaved it in protest of housewives not receiving a living wage for
watching game shows during the day and preparing peanut butter
and jelly sandwiches at night. Unfortunately, when she spotted me,
she took out her one-shot derringer and carefully aimed for my head,
which luckily I had time to cover with the wine bucket at my feet.
But when the bullet hit the metal, it must have ricocheted left and hit
the man on the balcony next to me for when I removed the bucket,
I saw him falling over the edge and land in the hotel swimming pool,
killing three others as a result. . .


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction  have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Some of his recent writings have appeared in Serving House Journal, Mocking Heart ReviewKairos, Third WednesdayFutures Trading, Tower Journal, Jokes Review, and Fear of Monkeys, among others.

Hide Out

A poem by Karen Wolf

(Previously published in Street Light Press.)


She longs to be backyard sequestered,
far away from front yard manicured
perfection of the clipped, trimmed,
plucked, swept, and planted discomfort
like sleeping in her shoes,
on pointe, on display, tightened,
so comments bounce up like
sleet on frozen ground, then melt
seeping into her fragile skinned
confidence-lacking psyche.

Through the back door she pushes
bare toes into warm pond sand,
deep enough to turn off
the judgmental switch and gather
elusive droplets of joy emanating
from rabbits playing leap frog,
deer slipping into prairie brush,
and clouds wiping clean the day’s slate.


Karen Wolf has an undergraduate degree in education from the University of Toledo and a Master of Arts degree from Bowling Green State University. She has retired from a 30-year teaching career and is semi-retired from her own pet-sitting company. She has been published in Smokey Blue Literary and Art Magazine, Dime Store Review, TreeHouse: An Exhibition of the Arts, The Wagon Magazine, Oasis Journal, Artificium: The Journal, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Lit.Cat, Sobotka Literary Magazine, The Bookends Review, The Drunken Llama, Blynkt, Communicators League, Borfski Press, Raw Dog Press, among others. She says that poetry “soothes the savage beast” and opens her eyes to the beauty that abounds within the world.

The Understanding

A poem by Jeffrey Zable


I was listening to the swomies in their pajomies
and they all said the same thing: Be here now,
and don’t take anything too seriously except providing us
with necessary cash and some pretty girls on demand.
Nodding like a bobblehead,
I was so glad to come to this understanding:
that the universe makes perfect sense if you just let it be,
and listen to the right people to explain it.
Hopefully I’ll never feel out of place again—
and to that I say, Amen.


Jeffrey Zable is a teacher and conga drummer who plays Afro-Cuban folkloric music for dance classes and rumbas around the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction  have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and anthologies. Some of his recent writings have appeared in Serving House Journal, Mocking Heart ReviewKairos, Third WednesdayFutures Trading, Tower Journal, Jokes Review, and Fear of Monkeys, among others.

‘All Is Lost’, ‘Her Milky Ways’, ‘Last Tale’

Three photographs by Fabrice B. Poussin


All Is Lost

Her Milky Ways

Last Tale


Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and dozens of other magazines. His photography has been published in the Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review, and more than 200 other publications.