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Playing in the leaves, lost in laughter and wonder, no sense of time or place or propriety, he thinks to laugh.




The Pact


Each Spring, when the leaves first attempt

to wriggle their way through stiff stubborn

branches, the lost girls float high beneath

the ice of Lake Okawalla.


Their eyes track the skaters--

those pirouetting birdlike figures

in thick woolen mufflers, the daring

ones skirting the thinning spots that gleam

like opals throughout the warming lake.


Rabbits and deer shy from lake's rim.

They've seen the gray, unblinking eyes, heard

moans in the night, listened to stories

of suicide pacts, stockpiled pills, told and retold.


They lift their heads instead, watch

the stars and moon shiver across the sky

until a dawn sleet crowns thorns onto the trees

and tears melt rivulets into the crackling ice.







He told me on Thanksgiving,

moved out by Christmas,

this man I finally married,

pirating away shared sea stories

and memories of our footloose ways

in that post Vietnam, one-marriage-down era.


The woman I was disappeared with him.


Occasionally, she re-visits,

frowns at my matched sheets, drapes

to complement the sofa, husband

with hands folded in front of the TV.

She reminds me of sea wind in my face,

clanking halyards, LP's strewn by the bed,

lava lamps, noisy communal meals

and how that blue velvet bedspread felt

against my bare and trembling back.



Pris Campbell's poetry can be seen in numerous journals and anthologies such as Chiron Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, The Wild Goose Poetry Review, The Dead Mule and Main Street Rag. She was featured poet in Empowerment4Women, In the Fray and From East to West. Her third chapbook, Hesitant Commitments, was released by Lummox Press in 2008. A full length poetry book, Sea Trails, will be published later this year. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008. Sidelined by CFIDS since 1990, she lives in the greater West Palm Beach, Florida.



(Haiku and Tanka)



a bumblebee's 

continuous hum absorbs

my loneliness





gently deepens

the crimson sky

making its way

to the setting sun



Originally from Jamaica, Raquel D. Bailey is the founding editor of Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine, sponsoring haiku and tanka contests year-round. She has earned Honorable Mentions in the 8th International Ludbreg Haiku Calendar Contest 2008, The Haiku Calendar Contest 2008 (Snapshot Press), and in the 2007 Mainichi Daily News Haiku Contest, Japan. Her poetry appears in The Heron’s Nest, Atlas Poetica, Other Poetry, EPN, Asahi Haikuist Network, Modern Haik u, Acorn, Red Lights, Simply Haiku, Presence, Frogpond, Mainichi Daily News, Ribbons, Chrysanthemum, Magnapoets, Shamrock, Wisteria and Cider Press Review. She resides in Florida.




Having His Hands Before Him


“Less than All cannot satisfy Man”

~William Blake


Having his hands before him,

having his arms and shoulders needing work

having his mouth and eyes

having his feet and loins

and something called the void

God wanted more

so with his big right foot

he split the sky in half

so with the heel of his hand

he shaped the day into light and dark

so with great globules of spit

he hung the sun and moon

pissed the stars across the sky

coughed out clouds

threw down trees and vines

and bushes and grasses

and even a shrub or two.


Still, having his hands before him

his forehead shining

his hair hanging about his face

having his ears and nose and high cheekbones

he wanted more

so with his white teeth

he chewed up bits of earth

and molded tiger and lamb

dove and whale, serpent and flea

so with his toes

he scratched out a garden

so with his mirror

he chiseled a pair of little gods

so with his mouth

he said, “Be fruitful and multiply

but keep your hands off my tree.”


Then, having his hands before him,

having his mirror cracked

his eyebrows knitted together

his lips pursed inward

having his teeth dripping

and his fruit spoiled

he wanted more

so with his eyes

he cried a flood

so with his breath

he blew up wind

to knock down towers and walls

so with his tongue

he burned a bush

and etched in stone

and lapped the center of the sea.


Having his hands before him

his fingers plucking his skin

having his chest bared

his belly grown round

his buttocks pushing out

he wanted more

so with his pelvis

he had a son

so with his silence

he nailed him to a tree

so with the shadow of his hand

he took him back

and with his long spine

he lay down beside him

and wept deep

into the hands before him.



Scott Owens has received awards from the North Carolina Poetry Society, the North Carolina Writer’s Network, the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of South Carolina for his four collections of poetry and more than 400 poems published in various journals and anthologies. He is co-editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, chair of the Sam Ragan Poetry Prize, author of “Musings” (a weekly poetry column), and founder of Poetry Hickory. He teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley Community College and has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.





The Bounds of Gratitude


That we are bound as Earth to spin and sail

in sync around a sun to make day, night,

growth, seasons; that brains, flesh-bound, can unveil

the unfathomable source and end of light;

that somehow were made mountains, lakes, you, me,

species too numerous to comprehend,

plus the unnumberable: infinity,

eternity, points, pointlessness, a friend,

and awe for these no language can express

and even stillness only can exude

in silent sparks, the end of nothingness

its complement: I feel my gratitude

is boundless in a moment’s touch—like this—

the universe contracted in a kiss.




Purple Orange


They loved each other so. But he was made

    of purple; she of orange. Persimmon, Peach

and Rust convinced her, "He is not your shade,"

    while Puce and Lilac lectured him, "To each

his own" and introduced Purple to Red

    and Blue, whom he did see awhile—or tried.

Still loving Orange from afar, he said,

    "To please my friends, I guess." And then he died.


You've seen the rest: In sunsets, autumn leaves,

    and in the depths of blossoms, Purple and

         Orange are found united, little bits

of one throughout the other. Nature grieves

    in remedies designed as Love had planned,

         forever intermingling opposites.



James B. Nicola appeared in The Smoking Poet’s first issue in 2006. Since then he has had over ninety poems appear in a score of other publications including The Lyric, Nimrod, Upstart Crow, Mobius, and upcoming in the Cider Press Review, and received the Dana Literary Award for poetry. A stage director by profession, his book Playing the Audience won a CHOICE Award as one of the best books of the year. Also a composer, lyricist, and playwright, his musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaudeville, premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska, with Santa Claus in attendance on opening night.





Thinking Rock


Small girl steps on moss,

wades through wild hyssop.

In the woods she is safe

from pernicious imaginary monsters.

Into green glen, to the thinking stone,

an alluvial formation, flat topped.

She climbs to the top, sits,

thinks until she is tired of thinking.

In Summer warmed by sun,

in Winter a monument to frigidity,

still a place to trudge to,

to leave tracks leading her

to the jangle of bells on doorknob,

calling her back to the house.

When her grandfather is there,

she watches him smoke his cheroot,

have a whisky with her father,

their smoke rings rise like grey ropes.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Lori Desrosiers spent her youth frolicking on the banks of the Hudson River, but now calls Westfield, Massachusetts her home. Her chapbook of poetry, Three Vanities, was recently published by Pudding House Press. She is the publisher of Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. When not running around to poetry events, she likes to play her guitar and eat sushi, although not at the same time.





Vergessene Kindheit


Shadowing once pavements,

alien graffiti where I used to know,

but I still remember where the sun will fall

at four o’clock, half-past;

in the moment before dusk.


Virgin fences where antiques stood,

cosy grubbiness is now military steel.

Branches gripped by baby hands

that were so old,

matured too skyward to reach.


Once primal school,

dowdy with unsophisticated dust,

now  behind institutional fences and signposts.

New children play in the yard.

Forgotten bodies now married,

their children laugh where I laughed.


The coals of memory glow and remember

it was ‘the playground’

and the fences weren’t barbed.







You will eternally be my London shoes,

in the porch at home in the ignorant North

with London dust and dirt from the Tube.

A fragile keepsake.

I can’t wear you.                                                                                 


Preserved as foreign treasure,

with closed eyes the many sounds are stirred

of London and another world.

Foreign poetry inscribed

on the red in smudged black ink,                                                          

the frayed edges of a Tube ticket.


Far from the North

and beloved northern grit and grime

and dirt and myriad northern inflections

London understands and opens unjudgemental arms.                

They don’t have gravy on chips

but you can read in the park

and not feel out of place.


Life happens in London

free from proletariat self-consciousness                                                

and archaic self-imposed reserve.

Life is lived in London,

it’s on the bottom of my shoes.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Vikki Littlemore lives in Cheshire, England and has work published in The Glasgow Review, Poetry Monthly International and Melisma, and was the second runner up in the Birds on The Line featured poet competition.





Needles Dancing in the Night


Bottle caps, racing form,

ashes coat too few empty space

in which to plan the day

while faded beauties

dance on walls yellowed from too

many cigarettes and way too much empty time.

“It’s always in fear. FEAR IT’S ALL! This feAR!

If anyone ever listen to FEar”

Tonight the color of cancer spills out of moon

on face and garbage piled high 

stained light slipping-out broken window

blend _merge_ sickness_ moon_ color,

night dreams of queer boys

and junkies

searching for dead needles and lost change.



This mind is in disease;

digging into brain with ice pick

hollow-out place for newer disease to nest.

My silence enters reflected sound, the echoes

from too many bricks and not enough passageway.

The silence of an overdose… Silently thinking “Am I dead NOW!”



David K. Campbell was born and raised in Montreal Quebec. He has produced four books of narrative poetry titled, The Redemption Quartet. He lives alone with his plants in Toronto and has two daughters who sometimes love him. Recently, David discovered Michigan and is now working on a new book of prose and poetry dealing with America (just to piss off Republicans) and a children’s book of poetry and short stories with illustrations by children in Hastings, Michigan. He is also putting the finishing touches on a CD titled They’ve Eaten All My Poetry and Left Me Only the Words, available on his website. He is off on September 24 to Bangkok where he intends to live indefinitely. 



"One Halloween, he was a baseball bat. He loves baseball. He loved wearing his wings to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. All the people laughed, even if they didn’t know what it meant."

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