Vladimir Swirynsky - photo by JC
Articles of Faith
Lennart Lundh [photo by Lin Lundh]
Houses of the Stars
Megan Collins [photo by Monica Igras]
Reaction to an Editor's Suggested Revisions
Yours is the first email I opened this morning. I was surprised to see your name since I had forgotten about the piece I had submitted a year ago. Time does fly.
I appreciate your suggested revisions and invitation to re-submit the work once I have made the revisions. I can tell that you spent a lot of time analyzing my efforts.
I'm afraid, however, that I can't make the changes you suggest. Nevertheless I feel obligated to compensate you for your time.
It is to that end that I took your name to Rebecca. I showed her your suggestions and she said that your name would be introduced at the next gathering of her coven. She asked if I had any suggestions for revisions to your life. I said I did and that she might want to take notes.
I said I thought it might be best to have your organs rot one organ at a time. I added, however, that while your organs rot slowly in series, your heart should remain strong so you can die at a leisurely pace. We don't want to rush this.
She said that could be arranged although it was an unusual request. In similar cases in dispatching someone who has grievously insulted another, usually the insulted party wants the insulter eliminated immediately. I'm unusual, she said, in that respect.
I told her I didn't want to be heartless and have you die before you have a chance to put your affairs in order. And I reminded her not to inflict cancer on your pancreas too early because medicine has no certain cure for that. In short order, cancer of the pancreas usually means lights out.
I suggested she start with your gall bladder and move on to your kidneys and then your lungs and then your brain. That will keep the doctors busy while you waste away. I suggested she save your pancreas for last.
I also asked her to let me know when your pancreas becomes involved so I can make plane reservations to come and say good-bye.
In the meantime, may your next issue be stillborn. No reason to make it different from the last.
Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in Crisis Chronicles and other publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html.
Cee Williams — photo by Chandra Alderman
"Parental Indiscretion" comes from Cee Williams 2013 chapbook My America: 9 Poems for Sister Lucille, published by Crisis Chronicles Press. It is available for $5 from John Burroughs, 3344 W. 105th Street #4, Cleveland, Ohio 44111.
Cee Williams' other chapbooks include 12 Poems  and Bus Riders in the Storm , both from Crisis Chronicles Press. He is the founder of Poets' Hall – The International Fellowship of Poets and Spoken Word Artists, a community based venue for creative expression, which he operates in his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.
No title here
by Robert Frost
[from North of Boston (1914)]
"You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Patterson's pasture today:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!"
"I don't know what part of the pasture you mean."
"You know where they cut off the woods—let me see—
It was two years ago—or no!—can it be
No longer than that?—and the following fall
The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall."
"Why, there hasn't been time for the bushes to grow.
That's always the way with the blueberries, though:
There may not have been the ghost of a sign
Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine,
But get the pine out of the way, you may burn
The pasture all over until not a fern
Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick,
And presto, they're up all around you as thick
And hard to explain as a conjuror's trick."
"It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit.
I taste in them sometimes the flavor of soot.
And after all really they're ebony skinned:
The blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind,
A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand,
And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned."
"Does Patterson know what he has, do you think?"
"He may and not care and so leave the chewink
To gather them for him—you know what he is.
He won't make the fact that they're rightfully his
An excuse for keeping us other folk out."
"I wonder you didn't see Loren about."
"The best of it was that I did. Do you know,
I was just getting through what the field had to show
And over the wall and into the road,
When who should come by, with a democrat-load
Of all the young chattering Lorens alive,
But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive."
"He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown?"
"He just kept nodding his head up and down.
You know how politely he always goes by.
But he thought a big thought—I could tell by his eye—
Which being expressed, might be this in effect:
'I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect,
To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame.'"
"He's a thriftier person than some I could name."
"He seems to be thrifty; and hasn't he need,
With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed?
He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say,
Like birds. They store a great many away.
They eat them the year round, and those they don't eat
They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet."
"Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live,
Just taking what Nature is willing to give,
Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow."
"I wish you had seen his perpetual bow—
And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned,
And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned."
"I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
I met them one day and each had a flower
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower;
Some strange kind—they told me it hadn't a name."
"I've told you how once not long after we came,
I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth
By going to him of all people on earth
To ask if he knew any fruit to be had
For the picking. The rascal, he said he'd be glad
To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad.
There had been some berries—but those were all gone.
He didn't say where they had been. He went on:
'I'm sure—I'm sure'—as polite as could be.
He spoke to his wife in the door, 'Let me see,
Mame, we don't know any good berrying place?'
It was all he could do to keep a straight face.
"If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him,
He'll find he's mistaken. See here, for a whim,
We'll pick in the Pattersons' pasture this year.
We'll go in the morning, that is, if it's clear,
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet.
It's so long since I picked I almost forget
How we used to pick berries: we took one look round,
Then sank out of sight like trolls underground,
And saw nothing more of each other, or heard,
Unless when you said I was keeping a bird
Away from its nest, and I said it was you.
'Well, one of us is.' For complaining it flew
Around and around us. And then for a while
We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile,
And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout
Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out,
For when you made answer, your voice was as low
As talking—you stood up beside me, you know."
"We shan't have the place to ourselves to enjoy—
Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy.
They'll be there tomorrow, or even tonight.
They won't be too friendly—they may be polite—
To people they look on as having no right
To pick where they're picking. But we won't complain.
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves."
Dear still unforeseen,
I recognize you in me by sound and image. I can feel your hands in your voice. I feel your various voices in my menstrual blood, speaking to me through sopping rouge. This morning I am bleeding in the meadow, trying to read my clots, to perform translations by way of them while on my knees.
I see lace ladders in the red. I want these lace ladders to be edible to you. Our relation is psychoacoustic. Tone turns the world. The world turning grays my pubic hair. So long without you in physical form means I am still without orgasm. I am a molecular color moaning: dusty, rough, a necessary linen-limen.
This selection comes from j/j hastain's chapbook Secret Letters [2013, Crisis Chronicles Press].
j/j hastain is a queer, mystic, seer, singer, photographer, lover, priest/ess, and writer. As artist and activist of the audible, j/j is the author of several cross-genre books and enjoys ceremonial performances in an ongoing project regarding gender, shamanism, eros and embodiments. That project is called: you make yourself your own tilted stage.
j/j is the author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press), anti-memoir a vigorous (Black Coffee Press/ Eight Ball Press) and The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance. j/j’s writing has most recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin, Aufgabe and Tarpaulin Sky. j/j has been a guest lecturer at Naropa University, University of Colorado and University of Denver.
cover art (c) 2013 by Marnie Weber
Steve Brightman [photo by T.M. Göttl]
Management needs—none reported
Fish swim upside down,
sea anemones burrow
into the underside of the ice shelf,
tentacles protruding into frigid water
like flowers on a ceiling.
Living on the other side of you
I push into your glacial
embrace. On cold nights
I can hear the water drip,
drip from stalactites.
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a poetry collection (Tangents), her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in US poetry reviews. Toe Good Poetry, Poetry Breakfast, Burning Word, Muddy River Review, Pale Horse Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Other Rooms, Requiem Magazine, Full of Crow, Poetry Quarterly, Punchnel’s, Avatar, Verse Wisconsin, Naugatuck River Review, Boston Literary, Red River Review, Ann Arbor, Main Street Rag, Misfit Magazine and others.
The Sleeping Box
for Sophia Rose
Delicately stored away
in a potpourri patterned box
sleeps the memory
of a baby lost in time.
Swathed inside a dressing gown
with booties crocheted
by loving unknown hands
the ghost of what will never be
No heartbeat. No cries
persist in this makeshift tomb.
When I held her in my arms
she was a cherry blossom tree,
cupped with buds
of white or pink blossoms
that had yet to appear.
she was beautiful
in her simple, pearl way.
I felt her long toenails
which had grown without abandon;
tiny seashells scattered along
a white sandy beach.
I should have clipped them
and collected them in a bottle
Two Summers later,
I have become the box's caretaker;
dusting and minding for moths.
Careful not to disturb
the precious contents within.
This poem originally appeared in Big River Poetry Review. It was included in Angel, a chapbook of poetry by Sandy Sue Benitez published in 2012 by Crisis Chronicles Press.
Sandy Sue Benitez is the author of Ever Violet, a full-length collection of poetry (D-N Publishing, 2007). She has authored four previous chapbooks: Beneath a Black Pearl Sky (Flutter Press, 2009), The Lollipop Club (Victorian Violet Press, 2010), Petal Storm (Flutter Press, 2010), and Postcards from Iraq (Books on Blogs, 2011). Sandy's work also appears in two anthologies: Lilith: A Collection of Women's Writes and Postcards from Eve, (both Fortunate Childe Publications). She is also the Founder & Editor of Flutter Poetry Journal and Flutter Press. Sandy's poetry has appeared in over 130 print and online poetry journals since 2006. She resides in the Inland Empire, California, with her husband and their 2 children.
Angel cover photo by Kim Newberg
Steve Thomas at Cleveland's Literary Cafe [photo by JC]
it's not a singular situation
that confuses fatigues
it's how time stretched
increased our weight
to send us into a moment
that enhanced touch
that still vibrates us awake
at 2am to wonder
where are those soft
petals the soothing scent
a song only she sings,
thankful for her thorns
that set blood free
offering proof it wasn’t all a dream.
(c) 2014 Steve Thomas, used with permission
Steve came into this world early, just after midnight, and has wandered toward dawn all this time, just now learning it sure is pretty in the morning, glad to know there's daylight just ahead over the ridge.