A Poem by Carol L. Deering




The clouds are molting. Feathers

tickle the horses, who can’t stand

still. A soft nicker of sun


falls through the frosted spray.

The horses leap, swing their heads,

then jog the periphery of joy.


This poem was originally published in Weather Watch: Poems from Wyoming, Barbara M. Smith, Ed. (WyoPoets, 2014).



Carol L. Deering has twice received the Wyoming Arts Council Poetry Fellowship (2016, judge Rebecca Foust; 1999, judge Agha Shahid Ali). Her poetry appears in online and traditional journals, and in the recent anthology Blood, Water, Wind & Stone: An Anthology of Wyoming Writers (Sastrugi Press).  Learn more about the poet https://www.caroldeering.com


A Poem by Roy Bentley

Woman Hanging Out Her Family’s Washing during the Harsh Winter in Eastern Kentucky



Like my grandmother, the dress doesn’t fit her.

And it’s thick sweaters instead of an overcoat.


Like my dead mother, she has wild black hair

and props up a clothesline with a yew branch.


A dark moves by the creek. A snake perhaps.

Ice stalactites from the eaves of a row house


testify to what’s necessary to survive here:

to let pain melt then forget to summon it


even once as the sound of a slow freight.

When she was a fleur-de-lis too beautiful


for the snapshot moment, she showed up

the sun and moon. Now, she is filigreed


with tattooing and scarring and starlight

in laceless, newspaper-filled work shoes.


Soon, she’ll glimpse herself in a mirror,

a ghost straight out of Dorothea Lange.


The place is a heaven of snakes, though

seeing one in winter is always a bad sign.



Roy Bentley is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council. His recent book of poems Walking with Eve in the Loved City was selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize. Finishing Line Press is publishing his sixth book, Body of a Deer by a Creek in Summer, this October.

A Poem by Anton Yakovlev







To keep warm, the cat snuggles up to the people

who are about to die:

death has a certain heat, an intensity in the body

fighting the now-inevitable

or trying to depart with a last bit of fire.


It’s not all about the blanket,

but it’s not exactly about love, either.


At least at first it had nothing to do with love.

Over time he’s developed a sense of responsibility

to the elderly that surround him,

a duty to comfort people

before they lose their 21 grams of soul.


So when one family kept him away from their dying father

because they thought the cat’s absence could somehow save him,

the cat didn’t eat for a week.

The father still died.


The elderly themselves are divided

in their opinion of the cat.

About half of them dread the sight of him,

always thinking he might be coming for them.


The ones who are really dying

have no strength to be scared of him

and welcome his presence when they see him settle beside them.


The old priest who tried to baptize the cat while giving himself last rites;

the lady who placed the top half of a Russian doll on his head,

believing it was a crown for the royal cat;

the tango dancer who detected

in the movements of the sleeping cat’s tail

the best dance moves dreamed up in the lands of Astor Piazzolla;

the engineer who finally put to rest his zoophobia—

they all cherished him in their own way,

they all built cathedrals within their minds

where the Cat of Death rivaled in importance

their most beloved daughters

and the old flames passing them on ships.


Someday he too will snuggle, his body warmer than normal,

using his tail as his own smaller Cat of Death.

There will be no noise among the elderly

frantically trying to tiptoe around the cat

in realization that now, when their own time comes,

they will have nothing soft or catlike to see them off—

just the room and the unheard echo of their last heartbeat.


“Cat of Death” was previously published in CityLitRag and the chapbook Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015).




Anton Yakovlev’s latest collection is Ordinary Impalers (Kelsay Books, 2017). His chapbook The Ghost of Grant Wood was published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Amarillo Bay, Measure, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of poetry by Sergei Esenin, is forthcoming from Sensitive Skin Books. Yakovlev won the 2016 KGB Poetry Annual Open-Mic Contest and was a finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award.  He is the current Education Director at Bowery Poetry Club.

A Poem by Taylor Tessa Lutz




Class Discussion


Later that night I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world and whispered, where does it hurt? It answered: everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.”         –Warsan Shire



To the young girl in English class:

I want to gather you in my arms like air,

I want to protect you—I want to be your mother,

tell you to not make the same mistakes I once did.

But how do you hold onto a teenage girl without breaking her?


The world is constructed around telephone poles

stuck in the ground like thumb tacks

with strings running across a map:

we are all trying to get somewhere

or keep from finding the place we’re at.


Oh darling, I see the marks upon your skin.

I see how you hold yourself.

I’m talking about the hammer

we use to fix things that gets

at our very thumbs.

The broken things that break us,

the wallpaper we use to surround a crumbing heart.


I’m talking about the brokenness behind your beautiful brown eyes.

I’m talking about what you are hiding behind those long sleeves.

And I want you to see I’m here now:

and I’ll still be here

when the voice across the wires falls off of those trees.




Taylor Tessa Lutz teaches English Language Arts in Wray, Colorado and resides nearby in rural Nebraska. Her family, faith, and the taciturnity of the Midwest fuel her passion for life and writing. Lutz received her undergraduate from Nebraska Wesleyan University and was awarded the Boatright Award in Poetry. She holds a MA in English and Creative Writing. She has acted as co-editor of poetry for the Flintlock and a visiting editor for The Penmen Review. Her collection of poems, “The Seasons Reside in the Trees,” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

A Poem by Akachi Obijiaku




I Will Try



As my fingers peel to reveal my raw and tender flesh

And I squirm for the souls of my broken nails

I wonder where all the mechanical wonders are

Praised an innovation – attacked as a threat


I ponder the hopelessness of my human capital

Scraping pots and pans, condemned to listen to petty banter

The things they got me doing in this kitchen

Will deliver me canker sores by nightfall


Scared to touch my baby boy

He, wagering whether to confront me

Ask me what happened to the girl he fell in love with

The one who didn’t return every night stinking of spoilt beans


And I will try

I will try to remember her

Remember my old life – how comfortable I once was


But looking down at my broken palms,

I shall fail – slowly, most likely, defensively

And wrap my blisters up, to heal quick for the next day




Akachi Obijiaku is a new Nigerian poet. She started writing poetry in 2017, and her works appear across 15 literary journals. She emigrated to England four years ago, and holds an MSc from King’s College London.

A Poem by Kelly Thomas







I wanted Ken to like me.

As girls, we would bring him and Barbie together

for sex, my white friends and I

banging their plastic flesh together.


I imagined us together, his rigid fingers

caressing my thick hips.

I lying beneath him,

taking his thrusts, taking her place.


I wanted Barbie to watch us,

cayenne searing her plastic veins

but her grin the same.


Afterwards, I wanted to rest my dark

curls in the crook of his shoulder. I wanted

to pull him close, his vacant

eyes meeting mine, kiss his stiff

nose and forgive him.


“What I Wanted” (former title) first appeared in Efroymson Anthology.




Kelly Thomas is an award-winning writer, editor, adjunct professor of English (Xavier University) and the founder of Kelly Grace LLC (www.kgrace.co), a copywriting and editing agency that teaches artists and entrepreneurs how to create content that informs and inspires. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Genesis, The Efroymson Anthology and Polly Magazine. Honors include first-place scholarships from both the Antioch Writers’ Workshop and Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference as well as a post-graduate fellowship at WordPlay, a creative writing and after-school center.

A Poem by Ann Howells




Consider Bones



A small gecko,

liquid, graceful, quick,

poses on herringboned brick,

examines me

even as I examine him,

his tiny, paper-thin bones,

delicate as workings of a lady’s watch.

As fossil he would be

an object d’art,

elevated on a brass display stand.


Pecan trees,

winter bones en déshabillé,

begin to green as I lower myself

into a sling chair.

Clunky old bones, porous,


relax their architecture,

an awkward scaffolding

beneath thin voile skin.


Sun spills, milk-colored,

in ever-widening flow,

warms our bones. Odd

how the term fluid

covers both gecko and sun.

We are all sap or blood,

put down roots of one sort or another,

our thin flesh worn loosely,

in this place of milky light.




Ann Howells of Dallas, Texas has edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years, recently digitally at www.IllyasHoney.com. Recent books: Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016) and  an anthology of D/FW poets she edited: Cattlemen & Cadillacs (Dallas Poets Community Press, 2016). Her chapbook, Softly Beating Wings (Blackbead Books, 2017), was published as winner of the William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Contest. Her work appears in a variety of small press and university publications.

A Poem by Karen Mandell




Rose Has a New Walker



We buy it online. She got her old one,

standard issue gray aluminum, at the hospital

after she fell at Susie’s house last summer.

It’s a man’s walker, and she holds her elbows out like bent wings

when she grasps the handles. It’s too wide for her.

I toss out the question one day, if you had a new walker

what color would you choose.

Blue, she says, just like that. I order blue.

When it comes, we connect the hand brakes,

attach the basket and the seat,

pull the plastic off the wheels.

Can I return it, Rose says.

It’ll be hard, I tell her. It’s from the Internet.

She feels better knowing there’s no choice.

But it’s always good to try again.

Maybe I won’t need it. I ride the exercise bike now.

And in Chi Gong class I stand up longer.

Before I did the exercises from the chair.

Anyway, it’s not blue. I think it’s black.

So for that we’ll return it? It’s navy.

Under the lamp we compromise on navy black

I tell her to try the seat. But always remember

To press the hand brakes when you sit down.

It’s like the brakes on a bike.

She doesn’t get it. She never rode a bike, she says,

she roller skated everywhere, to the botanical conservatory,

to the library. She tightened the skates with a key she wore

around her neck. When they broke, and that was often,

her father would fix them, a tragedy you kids never met him.

I ask Rose to push the walker in the hall.

She can’t help smiling; stately, royal she glides like the King’s barge

down the Thames. The waters part before her; I hear Handel’s music.

It’s nice, she says. But what should I do with the old one. A shame to waste it.

It’ll be a spare, I say. Maybe we’ll take it in the car when we go out.

Remember when Daddy taught me how to ride, I say. Running beside me,

his hand on the fender and then letting go.

Of course I remember, she says, he taught all of you.

And then I was free to pedal around the block, up to the drug store,

turn right, turn right again, over and over, centrifugally

pulled by the gravity of home.




Karen Mandell has taught writing at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis, Mount Ida College in Newton MA, and literature at Framingham South High School. She’s also taught literature at various senior centers in the Boston area. Karen received three writing awards: first place from the American Poetry Society/Oil of Olay contest in 2004, second place winner of the Muriel Craft Bailey award, 2004, and the Charlotte Newberger award from Lilith Magazine.

A Poem by Carla Schwartz








Saw down a tree and the rings of cellulose

tell the age. I’m not as old as these trees,

and my ring finger is small,

but swells with heat. I wear rings

infrequently. I used to wear an onyx

for good luck. Where is

that ring now?

The only wedding band I have

is the one my mother gave to me

just before she died,

hoping I might have use for the ring,

flourished with wing diamonds.

I wear it when I want to feel wedded,

as I wake in my double bed,

stare out at the emptiness

where my trees once stood,

and listen to the caw of crows,

the coo of mourning doves

who mate for life,

a lone one there, perched on a wire,

a pink band of sunlight around her neck.




Carla Schwartz is a poet, filmmaker, photographer, and blogger. Her poems have appeared in Aurorean, ArLiJo, Fourth River, Fulcrum, Bluefifth, Common Ground, Cactus Heart, Mom Egg, Switched-on Gutenberg, Gyroscope, Naugatuck River, Solstice, SHARKPACK, Triggerfish, Sweet Tree, and Ibbetson Street. Her poem “Gum Surgery” was anthologized in City of Notions, A Boston Poetry Anthology. Her second book of poetry, Intimacy with the Wind, is available from Finishing Line Press or Amazon.com. Find her first book, Mother, One More Thing (Turning Point, 2014) on Amazon.com.  Her CB99videos youtube channel has 1,600,000+ views. Learn more at carlapoet.com, or wakewiththesun.blogspot.com.

A Poem by Donna Wallace




Beached cigarette butts

lean into tiny groups,

the porch ashtray’s cold,

rolled stumps deep in sand—

addiction holds vigil

over a litter of spent matches.


Snuffed and cocked

this way and that,

they talk, recollect how it felt

to be cupped from the wind

for a splint of wood

tipped with combustion

and a flick of friction,

lit between parted lips:

we glowed in light and dark

inhaled as fire, rose as smoke.


They remember the pack

the cellophane tear, the smack,

fingers that pulled them,

lips that nursed them,

lungs that took them in—

the glow

the party

the chatter

the revelry

the coffee

the next day’s



Remember when

we were tall,

life was long,

we glowed

we smoked

wanting a light

wanting to burn.




Donna Wallace (Lewisville, NC) is currently president of Winston Salem Writers and director of Poetry In Plain Sight, now a state-wide initiative placing poetry in public spaces. Her poetry has been featured in Camel City Dispatch, Poetry In Plain Sight, A Funny Thing: A Poetry and Prose Anthology, Old Mountain Press, 2015. A retired nurse and seminarian, she enjoys riding her bicycle all over the place.