Tuesday, 31 January 2017

                        found poem: on any day
by Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.

                                                article from corpus christi caller 10/6/15

                        on any
                        day, 22
                        killed by
                        . . .
                        Mass killings
                        scraped nerves raw, com-
                        manded headlines
                        . . .
                        Here’s another number:
                        8,124. by guns in 2014
                                an aver-
                        age of 156 a week
                        . . .
                        single homi-
                        cides are far more prevalent
                        and cause just as much pain
                        and suffering
                        . . .
                        on any day


Monday, 30 January 2017


by Mary K O'Melveny

A qualified woman
Becomes a
Designated to break
Every barrier.
Full of 
It feels
Karmic --
No longer
Overtaking us.
Shifting away,
Up space only in
Very old history books
Which people will study
Extra carefully, especially
Young women
Zealous to know their pasts.

Defeats her.
Enters the stage
Girls and women with
Kingdoms and Klansmen.
Laughing  and leering at
Menstrual cycles.
Never apologizing for
Ogling and groping.
Preening and prattling.
Questioning facts.
Refusing reason.
Screaming for headlines.
Umbrage even in
What choice do we have
Except resistance? 
Yielding nothing until he is

* * * * *

Mary K O'Melveny is a retired labor rights lawyer living in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her poems have been published in various print and on-line journals (including TWPATWT) such as FLARE:  The Flagler Review, Into the Void, Allegro Poetry Magazine and The Offbeat.  "Like so many," she writes, "I am struggling to figure out paths forward." 

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Basic Training
by Gerry Wilson
My two sons ride their tricycles up and down the motel courtyard, around the unfenced swimming pool, back and forth in front of our cottage. July, and the Texas heat shimmers off the uneven concrete and the dry, sparse grass; the water in the pool is tinged green with algae. My thighs stick to the metal chair on the porch.
            The boys, four and six, demand to wear their Army camouflage outfits even in the heat. Hell-bent on playing Army, they look like miniature infantrymen. The rat-tat-tat of their toy machine guns makes me queasy.
            We rented this place on the outskirts of San Antonio, a north-south strip of motels, pawnshops, and bars. The cottages are dingy gray stucco outside, and inside, there's pine paneling everywhere, the varnish sticky in the heat. A light like a disco ball hangs in the living room. The boys make a game of switching it on, off, on, off, the reflections on the ceiling like facets of diamonds.
            We’re here for my husband Jack’s six weeks of basic training before he deploys to Vietnam. He’s an MD, fresh out of his surgery residency, so this is the extent of his training before he dons his Major bars and the Army puts an automatic rifle in his hands for real. Jack swears he won’t be in a MASH unit; he’ll be in a permanent hospital because he’s a trained surgeon, for God’s sake, out of the worst of the action, mostly. Yes, mostly, he assures me, and when he says it, he gets a wistful look and I know the action is where he wants to be.
            There are other military families here. Every morning, the men don their uniforms and leave as though they’re going to work, but the women know they’re only playing army. We wives are getting to know each other just as we are about to part ways and probably will never see each other again. We laugh at our accents, our jokes, and the antics of our children, but if you look closely, you’ll see the women’s eyes go vacant, lost and fearful.
            Every day, Jack takes the car and leaves the boys and me stranded. Mornings, I let the boys play on the rusty swing set. Then they swim. Then we walk to the motel office to see if we have any mail (usually we don’t), and sometimes I buy postcards in the office and write cheery messages back home to my parents and to my friends whose husbands aren’t going to Vietnam. We’re all doing fine, Texas is hot and dry, the boys miss you, yes, we saw the Alamo. Twice. Afternoons it’s back to the pool, and this time, because of the heat, I go in the water with them, and we stay until it’s almost five, almost time for their dad to come home, and I make them get out and go inside even when they wheedle and whine. I put them in the tub and start dinner.
            We are eating in the kitchen when I take a bite of hamburger and the meat sucks down the wrong way. I can’t breathe, can’t even cough to try to dislodge it. I wave my hands in the air, rap on the table, turn to Jack, mouth help me!
            He drags me out of my chair, his arms around me from behind, fists tucked below my breasts, and he pulls back hard. Nothing happens. He tries again, still nothing, and again, before he lets me go, and I’m standing alone, gasping for air that won’t come, and he goes into a kitchen drawer and takes out a paring knife. I back away, shake my head, no, mouth try again. He does, and this time the bite of meat flies out and I start to cough.
            He looks at the knife in his hand. “Jesus, Amy,” he says, “I thought I’d have to do a tracheotomy on you!” He drops the knife in the sink as though it cut him, puts his arms around me from the front this time, holds me. I can’t stop shaking, but it’s not about the choking, the threat of the knife.
            I pull away. “Get me a drink,” I say, my voice coming out hoarse and wobbly.
            The boys scramble out of their chairs and throw themselves into my arms. Their army uniforms smell of boy-sweat. I will see if I can get them to let me wash the uniforms tonight. They'll be dry in the morning, I’ll tell them, but they'll balk anyway. Promises are scary. The promise of a dry uniform. The promise of a dad who’ll return at the end of the day, who’ll come back from the war and stay forever.
            “It’s okay,” I say, running my hands through their wild hair, kissing their sunburned faces.
* * * * *

Gerry Wilson’s debut short story collection, Crosscurrents and Other Stories, was published in November 2015 by Press 53 and was nominated for a Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction Award in 2016. In 2015 Gerry received a Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship. Her stories have appeared in numerous journals. “Mating,” the first story in Crosscurrents, won the Prime Number Short Fiction Award in 2014 and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is currently at work on a new novel.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

My Grandfather and His Eggs

by Lauren Camp

My Papa raised the flattened sun on a Tulsa sky
each weekday morning. Tall and hollow,

he was suspended in a life sunny side up.
Nine to 5, he candled eggs, sorted them by color

then headed home to boiled eggs. Papa played piano.
He carried his lungs in a shirt pocket, his humor

in a highball glass. Sometimes Papa painted portraits;
his life was drawn in charcoal.

Papa steeped his eggs in oleo. Papa fried his fears.
On weekends, Papa walked nine holes of golf

then sank into his armchair. Papa lit a cigarette.
Papa by TV, Papa with his glasses.

My mom was fragile when he died.
We watched her eyes go runny,

how she slid into the pan
of what was missing.

I tell you grief can lay eggs anywhere.
Pale and delicate, Mom dreamt her daddy

in the bowl of heaven.
She saw Papa in her photos, heard Papa

in her whispers. Papa drinking gin,
Papa over easy. Now Mom has moved

through that same membrane, and without her,
life in our house keeps breaking open.

* * * * *

"My Grandfather and His Eggs" was first published in Artistica 'zine.

Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have been published in New England Review, Poetry International, Cultural Weekly, Beloit Poetry Journal and as a Poem-a-Day for Poets.org. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She is a staff writer for Poets Reading the News and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com

Friday, 27 January 2017

Fluttering Her Hallelujah Hands

by Lauren Camp

She rearranges his voice into chords,
into a strange jazz she is willing to hear,
a form of organization that takes courage
and leaves her with what is only musical
for a time. The room builds up an energy,
not from the sound of him but from the
collapsing space, the walls pushing in
and her hoarse voice falling, clunking
onto the ground without her, her lips
chapping and the glue wearing thin;
he zigzags into her again but she isn’t
listening. She adores the black song
on her radio instead, the saxophone hip-
dancing onto the counter between them,
the babble of nuance moving through pipes
and valves, the rhythm of lopsided feeling.
She is listening to that, and to the halves
of herself binding together into the noise
of the room, and yes, she is willing to
hear his faraway words with her warrior
heart, willing to let him choose her
for his fantasy, to be his bottle of song,
his break from the bruised sunset he sees
from his window. She understands that
what has happened inside her is not
bitter or broken, but that the elastic
of her longing has grown dry and
there is music enough without him.

* * * * *

"Fluttering Her Hallelujah Hands" was first published in This Business of Wisdom (West End Press, 2010)

Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016), winner of the Dorset Prize. Her poems have been published in New England Review, Poetry International, Cultural Weekly, Beloit Poetry Journal and as a Poem-a-Day for Poets.org. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, and a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. She is a staff writer for Poets Reading the News and the producer/host of “Audio Saucepan” on Santa Fe Public Radio, a program that interweaves music with contemporary poetry. www.laurencamp.com

Thursday, 26 January 2017


            For Maulupe Ofa

by Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard

Sometimes   a word is   too small
too insignificant    like the word   smile
that cannot  hold   the layers   of years
and understanding     the harmony
of sitting beneath   a tree  that has its
own language   the land   they took  away
from your people   that didn’t take   its memories
or its history    the hands carving   a wooden turtle
that will fly   on its own   journey   the eyes
that look    at a stranger   with ripples
of peace   and contentment   the grace
of a summer sky

* * * * *

Wednesday, 25 January 2017


by Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard

The mountain slope is dwarfed
 by the passage  of massive clouds,
 moving in different directions and
continually changing shapes; the smaller ones
that are transparent soar upwards like spume
from behind the dense, furling waves
that have taken over the sky. The Alps’ tallest
peaks seem miniature as if the wind
were telling us a story about dimensions;
the size of a speeding truck, an open
page in a book, a clump of soaring pines,
are like moments in time, and
that transcendence and mystery
are part of our lives. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017


by RK Biswas

It is everywhere. Between every rain lance.
Atoms of air. Nothing is spared. 
Something is wasted between
the tasting and the tasted. 
The hearing and the heard. 
The uttered and the unuttered word.
The deed. And what is about to be, 
And what you have seen or will soon see. 
There is space even when you cannot tell 
for sure. It is waiting, always waiting for the bell
to ring in its own blessed time. For it to claim, 
and total up the wins and losses of the game. 
You mustn’t fool yourself, even when
on the surface everything looks the same, 
because it isn’t. Everything is changed. 
Turned around. Gone. Dead and finished.
Except for them – the besides 
and the in-betweens. They survive. 
They come alive 
in their especially designated spaces.

* * * * *

RK Biswas is a writer from India. Her novel "Culling Mynahs and Crows" was published by Lifi Publications, India. Her poetry and fiction have been published widely. She was first runner up in the 2016 DNA-OOP Short Fiction Contest, India. She won second prize in the India Currents Katha Literary Fiction Prize for her story ‘It Comes from Uranus” in June 2016. Her novel was listed as one of the 20 most popular books published in 2014 by The Readers’Club, Delhi. In 2012 she won first prize in the Anam Cara Writer's Retreat Short Story Contest. Her poem "Bones" was a Pushcart Nominee from Cha: An Asian Literary Journal in 2010. Her poem "Cleavage" was long listed in the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2006 and also was a finalist in the Aesthetica Contest in 2010. Her story Ahalya's Valhalla was among Story South's Notable stories of the net in 2007.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Ode to Lost Childhood

by Sheena Singh

Her little toes ached
scaling up
the lean mango tree..

Her tiny fingers hurt
Clinging on
Its twisted trunk;

Her head was hit
hopping over
a squeeze of mango pulp..

Breeze swept her off
to a land of thousand lakes..

Moonlight shone on her
as she tried to stand;

Her faded yellow dress
flung past the bush

Her puffy eyes poured
fetching its torn threads..

Hiding behind the greens
little could she gauge
the depth of her wounds;

The face of a brutal tale:
an ode to her lost childhood

Sunday, 22 January 2017

By the Window on an Iktara 

by Nivedita N

her earlobes carried the weight of the gold plated earrings
that touched her shoulder bone 

folding her knee, she straightened her back, 
and pulled her cotton red saree 
over her ankles; 

she picked her iktara and plucked the strings; her audience were the clouds 
that passed by, the gleaming sun 
that left its mark on her feet and 
a parrot that strolled on the electric wire

the breeze whispered its compliments in her curly hair;
she carefully put the displaced strand behind her ear. She plucked the iktara.. humming to her self..
the audience was every living being that draped in her melody 

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Eutectic Alloy

by Vinita Agrawal

The steel plate
Hard, smooth-rimmed,
gleaming like the sea at noon.

Its steel, perfectly balanced between iron and carbon.
30 mm thick.
The kind that wouldn't split if it fell to the ground.
The kind that would last for more years 
than your hope of seeing your children's children.

It doesn't speak.
Reflects, with minor distortions,
whoever is at its rim. 
And when you eat from it,
it bears every mark 
but cleans up real well.
Never shows stains.

If I didn't have this ball of crumpled velvet inside my heart,
that oscillates between crushed darkness 
and silvery frost 
I might well be this steel plate.
98 percent iron, 2 percent carbon.


Author of Words Not Spoken (Brown Critique/Sampark) and The Longest Pleasure (Finishing Line Press, USA) and The Silk Of Hunger ( AuthorsPress, Delhi), Vinita Agrawal is a Mumbai based, award winning poet and writer. She is the Contributing Editor for www.thewomaninc.com. She won the Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award 2015 for literary excellence, NJ, USA. Her poems have appeared in Asiancha, Constellations, The Fox Chase Review, Pea River Journal, Open Road Review, Stockholm Literary Review, Poetry Pacific and other national and international journals. Her poems have been widely anthologized in Indo-Australian compilations. She was nominated for the Best of the Net Awards 2011, awarded first prize in the Wordweavers Contest 2014, commendation prize in the All India Poetry Competition 2014 and won the 2014 Hour of Writes Contest thrice.  She has read at SAARC events in Delhi and Agra at Hyderabad for the U.S. Consulate to celebrate Women Poets Of India, at Delhi for Delhi Poetree, and at Mumbai for Cappucino Readings. She can be reached at https://www.pw.org/content/vinita_agrawal or at www.vinitawords.com.

Friday, 20 January 2017

I am...

by Teresa Lewis

I've never written a novel, but I can write.
I'm not a poet, but I can tell a story.
I can't play an instrument, but I can make music.
I'm not an artist, but I can paint a picture.
I'm not wealthy, but I have a lot to give.
I'm not highly educated, but I can teach.
I'm not blessed with beauty, but I am a Goddess.
I'm not a fighter, but I am a warrior.
I am not a therapist, but I listen.
I am made of many colors…
I am a rainbow.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

by Kathy Conde

Rita’s father loved music. He played an invisible guitar and sometimes sang along. Bluegrass could really get his fingers moving, and he would bob his head in time to the rhythm.
Other kinds of music got him going too—Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Credence Clearwater Revival, Cat Stevens. When Rita was little, she would sit with him in front of the stereo, a large bureau-sized piece of furniture in the living room. Whenever he put on a record, he raised his eyebrows as if he were surprised again by what came out of the speakers. He would grab his invisible guitar and play.
When Cat Stevens sang “Wild World,” her father sang along, matching the pitch and intensity. The deep crease in his brow and the wail in his voice was his way of telling her anything can be endured if you can sing about it.
Rita started dancing in the living room. She would close herself in, alone, and put on her dad’s Cat Stevens record. In movement she could say, to the armchairs and the end tables, what she couldn’t say anywhere else. She could trace the shape of the dread that stuck to her like her own shadow.
She used the whole floor for her choreographies. As she warmed up, she began to feel like she had come here from another world. She danced for days, weeks, always to “Wild World,” trying to get the choreography right. She developed it, making sure to use all the space, taking her small, thin body to the four corners, adding lovely dramatic gestures to the air above her head, sinking into her own core on the downbeat whenever Cat sang wild. This made her feel strong. She began to sense that she had come here willingly, that she had known, from that other world, that she would be plunked down into this terrifying one. She wondered why she would agree to such a thing.
She danced for several years like that, adding other music and choreographies, but always coming back to Cat. This was before she’d ever been called a bitch or a whore. But she must have known it was coming. 
* * * * *
"Choreography" first appeared in Pure Slush:

Kathy Conde won the Crab Orchard Review Jack Dyer Fiction Prize 2014. She has also won prizes and scholarships from Salem International Literary Awards, Munster’s Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition, and the Aspen Writers' Foundation. Her stories have appeared in Crab Orchard ReviewCutThroat: A Journal of the ArtsSouthwordUnderground VoicesWord Riot, and others. She lives in Colorado with her husband and son. You can see more of her work at www.kathyconde.com.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Vacana of Mahadevi-Akka to Lord Siva

by Larissa Shmailo

Nataraja, white as jasmine, fill me.
Lord, hair matted from love, still me.
Indra Deva of the meeting rivers, kill me.
Let eight hundred forty thousand hard deaths take me,
As you, Bhadra-Bhima, won't forsake me.
Laugh, brother Blue Throat, for the poison we will drink.
Brother-lover-husband-son, I'll sing and will not think.
Shakra, Lord Asura, take the burden of my tears.
Now, Indra Deva, take the tribute of my years.

* * * * *

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


by Larissa Shmailo

Now, how shall it continue, bright primate? How shall this be punctuated?
An Oxfordian series, cursive, moving ever on, entailing every monkey, all keyboards in existence, black and white, and all of Shakespeare's work? Therein lies a tail. Is my silly, hoping life, then, the parentheses in the mind of a savage, loving god, or a twitching, rapid question in the tick-tock of the void? Comma or coma? Which is it to be? Angels,

you decide. Faster: My hope today, a ferocious hankering monkey, wrestles with Thanatos in my psyche's mud, a bout observed by angels,
and, truly, always about you; my demons, who intone Shakespeare's
verse like a Polonius behind a curtain, his platitudes punctuated
by doubt, growing like a semicolon in my gut, close these parentheses
without fortitude or Fortinbras, a Hamlet dangling on his question.

Come, ask me if I dare, beloved, before I go, to ask the question:
Would you say, turning me aside, as an afterthought, in parentheses,
"That is not what I meant at all," leaving me, a grinning, groping monkey,
to chase distant mermaids in the sea spray, those soggy singing angels
who sing to drowning women like me? I am not brave, not Shakespeare's
heroine, and will not declaim mercy for men in a speech punctuated

by all wisdom, warm, maternal, eternal, I am, rather, a rattled, tangled monkey, fur matted, teeth sharp, staring down my death in a showdown punctuated by words, words, words, words, words, words; and those in parentheses whisper with epithets of my end; here I sit, periodic, asking the angels, how long a sentence I will have, and will I ever write one as good as Shakespeare's? "Two bees, and not two bees, and they're soon extinct, too;" begging the question,

petitio principii: assuming the initial point, how shall I get to the final, punctuated by logical fallacies, tautologies, circular, as raw as the tail ass of a monkey; me, to persuade you, had we words enough for time, there could be no question, no crime, in assuming infinity, in basking in eternity like seraphim, bright angels whose divine lust could last a trillion biers and years, through a million Shakespeare's lines; but our lives are slashed by a Ginzo knife through the tail, trapped in parentheses.

To the period's point now, signaled by a capital flourish and punctuated
with the Oxfordian serial clause (I should have been a pair of claws instead of monkey balls): given infinity, when my molecules scatter, on some infinite star populated by angels, might they not reassemble as me, my primate self, with you, a man as fine as Shakespeare's best, again, to dance together, coupled, contained in divine parentheses)? For the thought of you, whom I love, I trouble the divine to ask this question.

My monkey question is not eloquent, nor metaphysical as angels:
It stands in parentheses, rolls not from the tongue as Shakespeare's,
but loves you, period, whichever is punctuated, in eternity or extinction.

* * * * *

"Live Not, Die; Live, Die Not" was previously published in Cryopoetry.