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Simon Thalmann


Heartsore of Choppy Seas


You’d never believe the work the ship requires

in the spring, the waters rough, the winds unsteady.

We’re lucky to come in at all from the vampire

gales we’ve had since I saw you last winter, the deadly

fog that coats the decks with ice, the rotting

planks that sag with each uncertain pressure

of a step or fall. I feel your absence wearing

on more than just the ship, carry an emptiness

inside more swollen than the hollow of the hull.

There are no clichés at sea I miss you.

And yet the seas refuse to sleep, the winds to pull

in your direction. The whole ocean fails to

acknowledge that this man across the sea

is drowning without you, that you’re waiting for me.







Displayed on the screen of my cell when I check the first time

since last night, there’s a text message from a groomsman


I haven’t seen since my wedding two months ago:

We’re going to Lansing, received at 1:45 in the morning.


A sometimes aspiring poet, I should know better, texting back

nothing but a question mark, negating any real hope for answers


with such a blatant disregard for specificity. The reply sends,

the screen reverting back to a picture of a sunset,


multi-colored pixels super-imposing an entire evening sky

into my palm, another example of my always trying to


possess the things I love, as if I could

keep them forever by capturing them in things like pictures,


or poems. Moments are designed to pass, I think, maybe I should

let them. The air is cold in the corn at work, leaves wet with drops


of dew or rain, the tilled plots muddying my boots. I think

of clichés like seas of corn, spider webs with drops like cut


diamonds, a wedding ring that fit at first, but now is always

sliding off, falling into stover, corn husk, mud. Always trying


to lose itself somewhere I won’t seek it back from.

The hours pass. My phone is silent.





The Reaper


I’ve aborted more seeds than you can imagine,

Have littered the earth with the corpses of stem,

Shoot, leaf, awn. I’ve broken the bond of the

Flesh to the land, and sustained a fractured trust

With the chosen few my darkened hands have

Stayed. To cull, to lift from the soil a life full

Of expectation and dash its hopes against a stone,

To leave its consciousness a dry ache on barren

Ground. Here is my task, here is my metaphor

For what is real, true compassion. We are all

Tender plants, plucked from the dust that would

Sustain us, forced to suck our sunlight between

Gasps of torrid carbon, paralyzed and grasping

In our minds for a union that will hold us to the dirt.



Simon Thalmann is a freelance writer and agricultural research assistant based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in many print and online publications including Iconoclast, Ship of Fools, Spillway, freefall, The Laureate, FATE, Kalamazoo Gazette, You & Me: America's Medical Magazine and True Romance magazine, among others. He lives with his wife Alexis, two dogs and a very large cat.

 Simon placed in the top ten finalists in The Smoking Poet’s First Annual Poetry Contest in 2008.


Photo courtesy of Zinta Aistars

Jeff Kass



Little Joe Never Once Gave It Away

    after Patricia Smith


When Scott Brogan sang

it sounded like we really could

do everything Lou Reed wanted

we could converge with Candy

from out on the island

in the back room where she

was everybody’s darling

and she would never

lose her head


Scott had surfer-blonde hair

and a left-handed curveball as crazy

as his laugh that jumped and floated

and sometimes sank and tied hitters

into hangdog tangles


we stole a bottle of vodka

from his Dad’s cabinet

and killed it until we

bumped into lampposts

and each other and Mike D

with his hand-me-down

painted-over taxi said

he could still drive

just let him throw up

one more time and he’d be fine

and the beach at Mamaroneck

harbor was hardly a beach

40 yards of dirt mixed

with a handful of pebbles

and Scott’s laughter

beckoning like a sugared hand

Mike still puking in the playground

with the rusted merry-go-round

that swung so fast it felt like

it was about to decapitate

our wobbly stuttering ankles


and a girl named Gabrielle

with braces and striped

hair that would have looked

good on a zebra, her black

and green bikini riding

up her ass when she waded

into the mucky brown

known as the Long Island Sound

and we were three pairs of broken eyes

staring and Scott, spoke first

as always, his laugh, then the urging


Do it, Bro, wild side

and it’s t-shirt off

sneakers ditched in the dirt

a jump and a float

and somehow she buys it

and her arms are around your neck

50 feet from shore and Scott

is shutting the fuck up now, isn’t he

and Mike’s still puking


and it’s a hustle

here and a hustle there and you’re

not exactly treading water

but not anchored either and you’re

thinking about ice cream later

on the street where the cars

are parked at slanted angles

and she whispers something

that sounds like yes




Jeff Kass is a teacher of English and Creative Writing in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He also works as the Poet-in-Residence for Ann Arbor Public Schools. He was the Ann Arbor Grand Slam Poetry Champion in 1999 and 2000 and the runner-up in 2001 as well as the Champion at the inaugural Ann Arbor Book Festival Poetry Slam in 2004. His poems, stories and essays have been published in several literary reviews, newspapers, magazines and anthologies and he has taught poetry workshops to thousands of young people in schools, juvenile detention centers and synagogues. His short story collection, Knuckleheads, is forthcoming from Dzanc Books.


Chris Astwood



Ive Got a Bone



to pick with your hip:


I itch itch itch itch

on my belly and ribs.


Thinking about your grip

with a Robert Nesta riff


declining into static

waves with the Mid-Atlantic sun,


I feel like it must, steaming on

my sea-bed horizon, flashing green


as I sink into a cool sweat-sleep.

Ive got to pick the lock,


got a pick to pound on the rock

around the plain metal doors


of the locked Juliet-tomb

unit where you sleep, but thats


too melodramatic,

not fit for life offstage;


Ill pull no Shakespeare

tricks. But Ive a bone


backstage with the director

of our postmodern romance show,


your exit: cleft between

belly and shifting


bone deepening

with every impression made


by your heel on my mental

map as the curtain call sounds,


chests throbbing and zipper teeth

opening, barracuda jaws


grazing our bare bellies.





Fever June, Galesburg, IL



Rain like this will miss the open window

every night until the misted prairie

manages to muster up its winds.


This second floor glows orange,

colour of the parking lots tall lights,

hotter than their filaments.


On my flesh, I scratch away insomnia,

on yours, inscribe the shadows

with sweat on my fingernails.


Nothing comes stronger

than your breath, not the drunks

out keeping dry or drunk, not the bump


and hoot of freights rolling the nearby tracks

all night, not mosquitoes or the bean

stink from the coffee house below.


The creases in your skin flash behind

the passing cars. Our bikes, locked together

in the hall, knock against the wall


whenever this old building shivers,

brick sweat settling into chills

that rattle the scaffolding.


I will hold you beyond this fever June, weak

though I may be, skinny with hospital

corners folded at the edges of my eyes,


because I believe that, sleeping, youll feel

my slow breaths, and remember:

this sick earth can sometimes be fair.




Chris Astwood is a poet from Somerset, Bermuda. He received his BA from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and currently is studying for his MA at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. His poems have appeared in Catch, The Caribbean Writer, Iota and Other Poetry.


Tim Tomlinson


Moonlit Walk


You walk out on this failed Sunday

under a January moon so full of sun

you throw shadows on the empty pathways

your footsteps have yet to memorize


and you follow the path away from

the motorbikes whining  

in nearby hills to the murmurs 

of this slow canal.  Wood smoke 


lifts from chimneys into the moonlit sky,

past closed shutters and clothes half frozen

on lines.  Lifting your head you fill

your nostrils with your neighbors’ fires.


When you were a child at the seaside

dwarfed by the surf foaming at your feet,

how could you fake even one step toward the silent ocean? 

Now, along this narrow canal, how firm

the footing for the next, the final steps. 




Tim Tomlinson is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, The Portable MFA in Creative Writing.  He is the fiction editor of the webzine Ducts.  Recent fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in Perigee, Pif, Del Sol Review, Nova Cookie, Dogzplot, 3:AM, Hanging Moss Journal, and Tongues of the Ocean. 


Carolyn Srygley-Moore





From the darkness within the violin the sleeping shadow

            speaks force the shadow to speak this is the wreckage

                        of exile, this is the exile

from place, person, you. I clutch my passport like a soft papoose

            stitched to my belly; my dark ambiguities

                        are vectors twirling above the hex sign

where the red rooster is clamped, calling forth the wind. & I clutch

            at my history, speak its shadows, grains poured

                        into a terrarium with walls of zero. I am willed

by night, by twilight, by the misplaced memory

            of us, unfairly ended. The planet we occupied revolves

                        without name, beyond the wrath

coiling the earth rock, the soil, the grit

            purpling the whites of the eye. I saw you harvest

                        your grief as joy, saw you cull

as through a basket of summer

            blueberries, separating truth from falsehood in a world

                        that believes there is no truth: I learned.

The battle cry of all being

            falls upon those ones who farm the vintage hear it,

                        a wind passing from sea to inland, passing

from homeland to exile: this is the sweetest kiss

            I have ever given, been given, known this is

                        the shadow-voice speaking the light.



Carolyn Srygley-Moore is an award-winning graduate of the Johns Hopkins University's Writing Seminars, a Pushcart nominee; she has been published in a number of journals to include Antioch Review, Eclectica, Flutter, and the antiwar anthology, Cost of Freedom. Her digital chapbook Enough Light on the Dogwood was published by Mimesis. She currently lives in Upstate New York with her husband and daughter.


Ann White


Virgo Eyes


On a palette, they might be called

raw umber, yellow ochre, phthalo blue.

Inconstant Virgo eyes the smudge

of camp fire, Spring’s harvest

ruddy and wet from dew.

Virgo eyes escape into elusive shades

that flicker and turn

like the sun’s moody rapture,

the moon’s apotheosis.

We are stunned into obedience,

spindles caught on the compass edge

of metaphysics, the necessary duty of reply.




Ann White is a former journalist and magazine writer who turned to poetry around age 50. Her poetry has appeared in various journals, including Blue Fifth Review, Swell, Dead Mule, Triplopia, Barbaric Yawp and Modern Haiku and in the anthology, Letters to the World (Red Hen Press, 2008). She is the organizer of the Women Poets Reader Directory, a searchable wiki for anyone who wants to book a poet. Ann received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She lives in North Florida and works with college students who are political refugees.


Carol Lynn Grellas




One fatal nightmare wakes me from my sleep;

a programmed killjoy robs asylum-dreams

where keyholes wait for eyes to undercreep 

inside and stimulate an inner voice that screams

to end the madness, bring you back to life.

Uncross positions, fate that’s been assigned.

Your letter rests beside the paperknife

I use to cut the envelope. Remind

me not to read that note again,

my hopeless supplication never heard,

how often is enough enough? But then

there is no way to comprehend a word

like suicide and all it meant to you ─

unchained, God help me do what I must do.




Carol Lynn Grellas is the author of two chapbooks: Litany of Finger Prayers, forthcoming from Pudding House Press, and Object of Desire, newly released from Finishing Line Press.  She is a two-time Pushcart nominee and widely published in magazines and online journals, including most recently, The Hiss Quarterly, Flutter, The Oak Bend Review and an electronic chapbook, Desired Things, from Gold Wake Press. She lives with her husband, five children and a blind dog named Ginger.


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