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Poetry IV


Photo by Dianne Roberson Hendrix

M. Rather, Jr.



The Way She Perceives Them Has Much to Do With Their Behavior



She sees young men pulling

their facial hairs, trying to fill

their patchy faces. She, and these

other women smile at fists, smile

at soft arm punches. The welts grow.

The young men’s wide stances,

she refuses to see how their feet

face forward and their shoulders

crack like oaks. She, and these

other women smile, pull back

pale lips, and are not offended

by the musk, tobacco leavings,

and beer spills. If the young men

were hunting, a silence would descend

upon them. Their ears would open

and their throats close. She knows

little of their silences, misunderstands

the thin eyes as sadness. She cannot

let them become men. Her arms

remember plastic dolls she would place

on the couch cushion and cover

in a food stained blanket.




M. Rather, Jr.’s work has appeared in Galleys Online, The Centrifugal Eye, Reed, A Generation Defining Itself V.7, Circus Diem: Red White and Glue, Des Moines Register’s Artscene, 12th Planet, Idiolexicon, and Adagio Verse Quarterly. He is currently pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing at McNeese State University where he also teaches composition.


Mike Donaldson




Chai #14





the colour of the tikka

the weave of the sari

the occasion of the pilgrimage

or the twirl of the moustache


despite the flood of the monsoon

the drought of the Thar or the avalanche

of the Himalaya



the length

of the calloused fingers

that have raised a culture


by hand



milk and sugar

and crushed leaves

brought to a boil

within a steel pot


is stained


by an ointment

that soothes

the throat

of a mass






her tears

and her tea




Mike Donaldson typically refers to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley as his Canadian home. Nonetheless, he has traveled extensively both within Canada and internationally, and most of his poetry, prose and short fiction is an extension of his excursions. His work has appeared in Jones Av, Misunderstandings Magazine and Windfall.


John-Franklin Dandridge



the lost art of passing notes in class



They met in a chat

room connected to their school

after she broke up with her boyfriend

who only had a dial-up connection

and his girlfriend left him for a long distance

relationship that more

fit her profile

So with both their in-boxes

emptied out

they fell in love upon noticing that they both

used the same font and the ring tones on their phones

were recycled from the same website of

pop tunes

Soon they sent photos back and forth

discovered they had friends

with the same user names

Two weeks of texting led to x’s and o’s

at the end of electric sweet nothings

whispered in italics

Then during lunchtime they had problems

talking over tables as neither could keep

a clear signal

She wanted to meet him after school

after the bell rang

long after the buses rolled by

behind the baseball diamond

where they’d share their

first kiss

But his battery died during recess and her

instant message never reached him on the playground




John-Franklin Dandridge lives and writes in Chicago, Illinois. He received his M.F.A. in poetry from Columbia College Chicago and his poems have been published in several literary journals and online zines.


CL Bledsoe



The Bank



Dad said there was no future in farming

so he sent his sons off to bag

groceries, stock produce, flip

burgers while his brother and the bank

carved up the farmland and kept

the white meat. We knew fish

and cattle, rice fields and soybeans.

We knew jeans and family, sunup

to sundown, the names

of the people for whom we worked.

My brother put in thirteen years

on the line before being replaced

by an elsewhere of lower wages,

looser laws. I filled a desk for nearly

a decade before standing in front of one

myself. Once the bank owned our land,

now we don’t even have land

and yet the bank still stands,

its heel on our throats.



CL Bledsoe is the author of two poetry collections, (Want/Need) and Anthem. A third collection, Riceland, is forthcoming later this year. A chapbook, Goodbye To Noise, is available at Right Hand Pointing. A minichap, Texas, is forthcoming from Mud Luscious Press. His story, Leaving the Garden, was selected as a Notable Story of 2008 for Story South’s Million Writer’s Award. He is an editor for Ghoti Magazine. He blogs at Murder Your Darlings.


R Jay Slais



The Passage


Another’s kiss has silenced your mouth

so I must swallow everything,

a jug of wine, the salt of sea spray,

grains of sand, the lighthouse.


Your beacon shall soon become forgotten

like an encrusted bell, sunken and shape shifted,

now good for nothing but to be a home

for slime-skinned eels and bottom feeders.


The last tongue of spirit goes across the lip

of the bottle as the wind’s solitude whistles

its song on the empty cavern, a belfry of hollow air.

It has been poured dry, into the tunnel


of black-water cave dwelling inside.

My heart is a drunkard of desire

drowning in a voyage of nostalgic voices.

A thirst for the outer waves may grow,


but the moon will hold them back.

They stay too far off to know

if their white caps are truly a incoming miracle

or a cursed ripple of hope.


While immersed in the water,

glue that is meant to bind loosens,

as if peeling it away is a way of peeling off

this layer of calloused skin.


Your label now removed, the bond eaten,

a naked start just like the night

our rain undressed the peaks of your high tide

during the rise and sweat of wave migration.


I gave to you my dearest love poem,

now a scroll of tears, forced down into this empty jug,

a cork on top to seal forever this moment of letting go.

This message in a bottle can only be viewed


through the window of curved glass in opaque hues.

I cast you out into these carnivorous waters to be devoured,

call for the white caps to strike, the waves to carry.

I will only remember you, as you were before we existed.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Some of R. Jay Slais’ recent publications include poems at Barnwood, MiPOesias, Oranges & Sardines, The Pedestal Magazine , Rose & Thorn Journal,  and Twisted Tongue. His first collection of poetry, Mice Verses Man, is forthcoming in 2010 from Big Table Publishing, Newton, Massachusetts. A single father raising his two children, R. Jay writes from his home in Romeo, Michigan, and makes a living as an engineer/inventor for a Metro Detroit automotive supplier.


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