Two Poems by Robert West

On Balance


A deeply
flawed person

you flail

and fall

but stay
more or less

to be
a person

at all




“Are you able to turn off thinking about work
in order to get an adequate amount of sleep?”
Psychology Today

It’s true I’m tired.
What else to say?
And uninspired,
it’s true: I’m tired.
And yet required
you, triolet.
It’s true I’m tired.
What else to say?




“Late” first appeared in The Bluestone Review.






Robert West’s chapbook Convalescent was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. He’s co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013) and editor of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons, forthcoming in two volumes from W. W. Norton this fall. He teaches at Mississippi State University.

Learn more about Robert West at


A Poem by Donna Wolf-Palacio

Two If By Sea



Today, a man of no inspiring grace stands on a ship.

The visor of his cap covers his eyes.

This man is the emperor of big.


In 1775, a man on a horse says to his friend, “One if by land,

two if by sea,” points to the belfry arch of the North Church tower.

He silently rows to the Charlestown shore.

Hovering, phantom ship, huge black hulk, magnified

by its reflection in the tide.

His friend climbs the wooden stairs of the tower.

The man on the opposite side

sees two lamps in the North Church tower,

mounts his horse, rides through village and farm

to Lexington and Concord.


So who is who and what is what?

Can the Mystic River foresee the dimming of the light

and how it will rise in that land of mountains?



Donna Wolf-Palacio is author of What I Don’t Know and The Other Side, published by Finishing Line Press. She taught a poetry workshop at the University of the Arts and was editor/consultant of the UARTS Poetry Review. She has published her writing in Poetry, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The MusehouseJournal, Intro, The Interpreter, Poems ftom the Heart: Poems about Adoption, and Voices.

She has received grants from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Leeway Foundation, and the Pennsyvania Council for the Arts.

Donna’s new collection STEP LIGHTLY is available for preorder at

A Poem by Maryfrances Wagner

Eye Tests


The first technician says, Click

each time you see a flashing light.

I click and click and click.

Let’s try taking a picture of your retina,

she says and switches me to another

machine that flashes light into my eye.

I am blind until framed prints dance

on the office wall like gray ghosts—

so much like teen summers I spent

in a lounger staring into the sun’s

hot eye. Red haze follows me

to a chair.  I wait until another technician

calls me.  Can you see this? she asks

handing me a photo. I see what appears

as Vaseline oozing in my eye around

tiny blood vessels.   She shows me

another photo.  This is a healthy eye,

she says.  No globs on this photo.  I see,

I say.  We call that drusen, she says.

Let’s take one more.  Get ready

for the flash.  The other technician

reports you clicked too many times.  

What does this mean?  I ask.

The doctor will speak to you soon, she says.

Outside, the sun so bright

and young and tan.

Maryfrances Wagner’s books include Salvatore’s Daughter, Light Subtracts Itself, Red Silk (Thorpe Menn Book Award for Literary Excellence), Dioramas (Mammoth) and Pouf (FLP).  Poems have appeared in New Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, Voices in Italian Americana, Unsettling America:  An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin Books), Literature Across Cultures (Pearson/Longman), Bearing Witness, The Dream Book, An Anthology of Writings by Italian American Women (American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation),  She co-edits I-70 Review.

A Poem by Eric Allen Yankee

American Kings


No dreams anymore, right?

That’s ok, I’ll find one somewhere.

I lost my health insurance

last year. That’s ok, because

I’m an American. My bones

are held together by bootstraps.

I take iron pills to remind me

that I used to make steel.

I go to Church.

I paid taxes when I had a job.

The politicians convinced me

Welfare is bad for me

and that affordable

housing is a crutch.

Be strong and dependent on no one

they told me.

I’m an American.

I load my gun

and make the others bleed.

I’ll build the wall.

I listen to my leaders.

They know how to preserve

their wealth. Someday it will

trickle down to me, because

I’m an American. I believe

in freedom and dying.

I’m an American. I must believe


my king


his hand is always around my throat.




Eric Allen Yankee is a poet and freelance writer. His poems appear in publications like Crab Fat Magazine, Vanilla Sex Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, The Good Men Project, The People’s Tribune, and more. His work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. His chapbook RIOT is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His second chapbook American Bullet will be out later this year through Atomic Theory Micro Press (December 2017).

Riot is available for preorder at Finishing Line Press:

A Poem by Lisa Richards

The Pawn Shop


I’ve been shining gems, all my life:

Gold chains, the graduation opal.

Lowering them in on the ammonia tray,

dazzled by prism beauty, inhaling their cleanliness—

These were items of principle:

Relatives pierced me with smooth studs

and a Mexican-made Italian Horn of Plenty.

(I wore it under a ripped t-shirt

and wrote unmarketable poetry).

I am a woman wading

up through the smells, oils, the face-pack apologies

to a visual strangeness:

Fake rocks,

the listless, silver, green-going things.

The stiff men, the ties that choke them.

I held the gloved palms

and saw the room darken at my own unjewelled image in the mirror.

For the talking piece of earth, hands of grain

for the oyster eyes, their pearl-worth,

I robbed my ring fingers.

Each cell heaved, returned to its previous chemistry.

In the forbidden river,

my limbs float upward in a pool of light

like a deep, rich, red boat rocking.

Lisa Richards earned her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from U.C.L.A., and her M.S.W. from U.S.C. She is a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work, and has maintained a consulting practice in Southern California for over thirty years. She is published in her field and has presented at numerous conferences. Lisa received an Honorable Mention from the Academy of American Poets. She recently won residencies from Turkey Land Cove Foundation, Hypatia-in-the-Woods, and University of Washington’s Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center. In 2012, Lisa co-authored Dear Mallory: Letters To a Teenage Girl Who Killed Herself (New Middle Press) following the 2011 suicide of her only child. Dear Mallory received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was called “hauntingly candid” by The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dear Mallory has been added to the recommended reading list of the American Association of Suicidology, and is being used as a suicide prevention tool in schools and psychotherapy offices. Dear Mallory is also a resource for survivors of suicide loss.

For more information, please go to

She is the author of Their Sobering Suicides (Finishing Line Press) available at

A Poem by Deborah Kahan Kolb

Au Pair




A cape starling or amethyst, some little bird –


warbler, shows up in the greening spring, miniature

flicker-beat fluffing her breast, and gingerly finds

her perch among

our young. From somewhere within the murmuration

she exhales, violet-backed, wearing her mantle

like a boy.

Pied starling, fledging along with our own nestlings,

content to hover, and admire the view. Long-tailed

glossy starling,

her plumage lambent and glowing. Lamprotornis

how fitting. A Tiffany work of art. Shimmer

up to us,

little bird. Gently she lights upon our New York

nest, but every so often I sense the sudden

run, the nimble

lift-off and vanishing flight of this lovely bird

back to Port Elizabeth, to the African

nesting ground,

the vivid southern tropics that’d spawned this chick.




No address in the U.S. is proof

of residency except for your pulsing

heart emoji, fitted into a cage

of ribs built of pipe cleaners and hair

elastics, a rainbow of chortles,

and a compass pointing straight ahead

and a little to the left. Ons is werklik geseënd.







Deborah Kahan Kolb was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Much of her poetry reflects the unique experiences and challenges of growing up in, and ultimately leaving, the insular world of Hasidic Judaism. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetica, Voices Israel, Veils, Halos & Shackles (an international poetry anthology on the oppression and empowerment of women), New Verse News, Tuck, Literary Mama, Poets Reading the News, 3Elements Review, Rise Up Review, and Writers Resist. Her poetry won the James E. Tobin Award at Queens College and was selected as a finalist for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. Deborah’s debut collection, Windows and a Looking Glass (Finishing Line Press, 2017) was a finalist for the 2016 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. You can visit the author at:www.deborahkahan

A Poem by Patricia Carragon

Alhambra’s Lion Courtyard


A class trip to the Hispanic Museum added stimulus to her imagination—
lace mantillas, rose-draped balconies, and the lion courtyard.

On display, a replica of Granada’s Alhambra—
red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.

A child with unruly ash-colored hair had a secret world
of wandering through gardens and the lion courtyard.

She’d wear a white lace mantilla over black tresses—
perfume would surround her in the lion courtyard.

The love for beauty needed to be remembered inside a box of stationery—
glimpses of red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.

But her souvenir narrowed her mother’s pupils—
her mother had no appreciation for Alhambra’s lion courtyard.

The child wasted her allowance—the child withdrew within herself,
burning the red geraniums amid Moorish tiles and the lion courtyard.

Years later, she tossed out her capricious purchase—
She downsized her interests—no longer needing that lion courtyard.

This poem was first published in First Literary Review-East, May 2016.

Patricia Carragon’s recent publications include Bear Creek Haiku, Sensitive Skin, and Sensations Magazine among others. Her latest book is Innocence (Finishing Line Press, 2017). The Cupcake Chronicles is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. Patricia hosts Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of its annual anthology. She is an active member of brevitas, as well as the PEN Women’s Literary Workshop, Women Writers in Bloom, and Tamarind. She is an executive editor for Home Planet News Online.

Innocence (Finishing Line Press, 2017) is available

A Poem by Rachael Ikins

A Bowl of Berries


I step barefoot out of steam dreams
early morning, three note celebration
robin on the roof, cardinal voices chiding
their fledglings, sparrow chatter and
a lone seagull swooping
through, sounds like a cat or
a lost child.

Scents of July lilies and milkweed fill the air.
Green everywhere. Blackcap vines’
curlicue tangles at the foot of walnut trunk,
glossy red and purpling fruits beg
my fingers, my lips,
turn purple too.

Small moths fuss among grass stems. Insects,
wings like lace flutter across the yard. Childhood
summers and a bowl of berries for
my grandfather’s birthday.

He was so easy to gift, berries and a fresh caught bass
fried in sweet butter, summer presents
a child could create.






Rachael Ikins is a 2016 Pushcart, 2013 CNY Book Award nominee, award winning poet/artist. Her artwork has appeared in one-woman and group exhibits in Syracuse galleries and from Hamilton to Albany and the NYS Fair and her writing in journals around the world. 7/17 she juried into SUM a show by PATF at Point of Contact Gallery, Syracuse. She has been featured poet/artist at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, Tyler Gallery SUNY Oswego 2017, Aaduna fundraiser 2017 Auburn, NY and at Palace Poetry, Syracuse NY. April 2018 she will feature at Word Revisited through the Cayuga Museum, Auburn, NY. Rachael founded and moderated Monday Night Poetry at Sushi Blues, feature & open mic, Hamilton NY.
She has published 6 chapbooks and a novel, covers by Rachael. The novel “Totems” (Log Cabin Books) is her first illustrated book. Clare Birdsongs Publishing will release her first full length poetry collection “Just Two Girls” 8/17.
Rachael is a member of NLAPW. She belongs to Associated Artists of CNY and other guilds. She lives on Star Lake in Foxfire with her dogs cats, and salt water fish tank filled with creatures that glow in the dark, many plants, books, and her garden.

A Poem by Laurel S. Peterson



The mermaid wants nothing
so much as to stretch her legs,
to step from her fishy tail,
and walk. But she is not equipped
for that freedom, her destiny chosen for her
by frightened sailors and drunken fishermen,
who tell tales about her out of school.

In the masses of seaweed reaching up
to the light from the sea floor,
those men myth-make women who can drag
them under, desire so engulfing
that drowning seems preferable to living with it.

Why should she, unfree as she is,
not take revenge on her makers,
as perhaps all women should,
as perhaps all men fear.
Instead, they clutch each other tightly,
sink into the weedy depths.

Laurel S. Peterson is an English professor at Norwalk Community College and her poetry has been published in many literary journals. She has two chapbooks, That’s the Way the Music Sounds (Finishing Line Press) and Talking to the Mirror (Last Automat Press). Her full length collection, Do You Expect Your Art to Answer? (Futurecycle Press) was released in January 2017. She has also written a mystery novel, Shadow Notes, which is available through Barking Rain Press. She currently serves as the town of Norwalk, Connecticut’s poet laureate.

A Poem by Stephen Page

The Cycle of Things On Santa Ana and Everywhere


My new capataz,
or should I say my newest,
the one who started working here two year ago
after I fired the bad guys,
has been moving things around—
or should I say acquiring things—
without my permission:
tanks of gas, tools, saddles.
I had a serious talk with him
about the concept of property.

After, as we were walking to the corral
to see the stallions and select which would be kept
and which would be sold and which would become geldings,
I asked him about his family.
He told me his son had quit school
to go to work driving tractors,
and that his daughter
had failed her senior year,
and was working as a teller in a pharmacy.



Stephen Page is from Detroit, Michigan. His is part Shawnee and part Apache. His other books include The Timbre of Sand and Still Dandelions. He graduated from Palomar College, Columbia University (with honors), and Bennington College. He has received a Jess Cloud Memorial Prize for Poetry, a Writer-in-Residence with stipend from the Montana Artists Refuge, a full Writer Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, an Imagination Grant from Cleveland State University, and an Arvon Foundation Ltd. Grant. His book reviews have been published regularly in the Buenos Aires Herald and on Fox Chase Review. He also writes short stories, novels, and screen plays. He has taught world literature, ESL, and film studies. He loves family, friends, spontaneous road trips, and throwing his cellphone into a large body of water. Above all he loves his wife.

A Ranch Bordering the Salty River (Finishing Line Press) by Stephen Page is available on