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two palms2.jpg
Two Palms, by Jeff Abshear

A.J. Huffman





Cigarette flower cigarette flower (and so on . . . ).

Adjust the line.  Fit stem to spark.  Listen

to the balance:

                          burn stamen burn.

The view is intoxicating.  Blooming

drag-in’s breath (blossoming backwards).


The blackest hole of any universe is self

de[con]structing self . . .


ashes f[l]ighting wind.  Beckoning

begets nothing.  Reconciliation is

obsolete.  In self-induces moonlight.

Mixed like landmines, we bait our own

key.  Unfit for mass production.  “Stop/starts”

(the echo of malcontention) labels empty

packaging.  Crumpling at he loves me not . . .


More rubbish!

To be emptied

                        out of the windows without thought

or wish.




A.J. Huffman is a poet and freelance writer in Daytona Beach, Florida.  She has previously published six full-length collections of poetry.  She has also published her work in national and international literary journals such as Avon Literary Intelligencer, Writer's Gazette, and The Penwood Review.

Martha Vallely



Abhainn (River)



In Gaelic leannan is lover.

The question ever ours:

Is it time to let go

or do we persevere,

which in Gaelic is lean air.

We are that word

in English and in Gaelic.

Letting go is all awash

in not knowing from nothing

and anything can happen.

The river rising faster than we can swim.

Anything can happen.

In not knowing from nothing

letting go could wash us away.

In English or in Gaelic

we are the word lean air,

and we do persevere.

But it is time to let go

into that question ever ours.

In Gaelic leannan is lover.



Martha Vallely lives in Seattle where she has worked as a legal editor for over 35 years.  Her poetry has appeared in Menacing Hedge, Windfall, Motel 58, and the anthology 31 (Crane's Bill Books).


Scott Owens



The Character Named I



The character named I has reached the middle of his book and wonders what comes next.


The character named I has suffered the arbitrary rudeness of the universe, hostility of organic machines, has had all sense, hope, love beaten from him, has lost sight of the sky.


The character named I is tired of masks and personae and wants to stand here naked despite the disappointing flab, hairy belly, man-boobs, battered self-esteem, the still apparent scars.


The character named I admits he is a construction with multiple pasts, not half as good as he seems to be or thinks he is, little more than self-promoter, imitator, manipulator, thief, master of self-delusion, a pretentious ass, an egotistical fuck.


The character named I is a paltry thing, no longer has plans, believes in anything, has all but given up, only hopes for change, transformation, instant gratification.


The character named I no longer has time for foreplay, thinks you’re implicit in this.





Scott Owens’ tenth collection of poetry, Shadows Trail Them Home, is due out from Clemson University Press this fall.  His prior work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the NC Writers Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC.  His poems have been in Georgia Review, North American Review, Chattahoochee Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Poetry East among others.  He is the founder of Poetry Hickory, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234, and vice president of the Poetry Council of NC.  Born and raised in Greenwood, SC, he teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC.

Lorie Allred


The Man and the Woman Alone


We share this darkness

 like our child's first

 and only tooth

 lost—feel it under

 our pillows like

 something aching

 to be replaced, search

 empty mouths with tongues

 that have forgotten

 how to talk, try

 to find a page for it

 in the memory

 book we stored away

 and don’t look at

 for years at a time.



After earning an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Lorie Allred moved back home to North Carolina, where she currently works as a librarian. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as the New York Quarterly, The Sun, Evening Street Review, and most recently in Halfway Down the Stairs and Victorian Violet Press. She has work forthcoming soon from Boston Literary Magazine, Rose and Thorn Journal, and Umbrella.

Jessica Morey-Collins



Until the Timing Ripens




Wickered settling meddles the hem of the midnight watchman.

He suffers the stars their gentle penance, bores

his eyes into the war

of night


and waits. Somewhere a woman worries her rosary.

She baits sleep while she wears the beads

to dust.




The watchman knows the wayward traipse of the night.

His mantle captures the inbound road-grit, his face grows

deeper hatched with the plans of the late freighters

and friendless hacks


drifting in on the wind from the sea.

He sucks them into his lungs.

His laugh is a raw splatter

thrown toward the stars.




He'd give his eyes to hold the woman who waits

for him. He saw the alabaster cast of heaven

in the sheen that sprang to her forehead

while he tumbled among her limbs, allowed

his lips into her neck for one unhitched minute


away from his post.






I wish you were my house of glass



One of billions snags me up in brambles

and leaves. While he recedes, others tug

at my



attention. New faces settle

into their names. The cattle call

draws plenty. The rule


is exception. Vacuum-chassied

(to stem my scorched Earth romance

policy): nature abhors me.


Set a closet at the center of you—

see what happens:

charades of men

march out from the woodwork.


Notice the bird, the beast of sea.

See the green lawn, lolled between

structures. Watch


the fly sucking nutrient juices

from a bee carcass. Acknowledge

infinitesimal event sequences:


leaves tumble, planes chug overhead.

Somewhere, far too near, he breathes.





Leveraging Dynamic Web-based Architectures



                A. Living


The machine that is me

sits on coffee stained plastic.

Notes so boring they go

unnoticed are posted

on the walls and the edges

of the two flat-screen

monitors. SharePoint pathway,

request form portal, still

the world slams only static

diodes. Blood and bone,

mud and ocean; palpable

things flatten—what matters

are categorical snapshots.

Wildfires, refugee screams,

we let the blood from events

to render them safe,

to make them relevant, here,

under the fluorescent hum,

with the distant shake of ice

against the sides of a fast-food cup

troubling whiter noises.


The machines squeeze our eyes

until they glitter. They give us

unlimited symbols. Toes

are not requisite, you can sit

until your lower limbs turn

liquid. We sling ourselves

just above sleep, shuffle

unseeing over colorless carpet.

Each day drains. Each face fades.

We swallow our screams.

We eat our own hands,

trade time for bank statements.

We build shelters from fibs.


We last decades in our glass cases,

where we rehydrate synthetic edibles,

flex our knuckles against plastic key-caps

to reign each day into a statement.

What matters are analytics. Click the numbers

bigger, give afternoons to the rabble.

Enjoy your 8 days of vacation.



                B. The Commissioner (Jack be)


A planner, manager or monitor. Create

habitat corridors; allocate resources

for optimized infrastructure maintenance; plan


for droughts. Award winners

stand and accept applause. He calls


the Trust for Public Land

to the stage, then the EPA. Data's been integrated,

maybes juiced from eye-fruits.


Winners leverage science

trends. Pervasive data made shapes and their names

available. Agile organizational patterns



bald Earth data.



                C. Subordinate


Straighten the legs, suck a few lungfulls of air.


Center the knees over the feet over the hips.


Get right minded

for marketing bukakke, "Would you like me

to get this for you?" Of course, of course,


of course, no problem. The coarse course

chafes. Days revolve around stolen walks,


runs intended to clear a head beset with flies.

SEE, the eyes scream! The trees are still green, the sky


dirty but still up there. Blunder.

Affix the self to other things, affix the self

to the self.


Get minded right

for ass-up handling of haystacks, for the whole wax mouthed

act. Straighten the back,


suck a few lungfuls of air. Blunder.

Center the head over the neck over the hips.


Praise the waylayer with mud on her lips, let

the bumble crumbed bigwigs

thin the limbs


splayed into language. Thank them

for the chalk circle in which you live.



Jessica Morey-Collins lives and works in Southern California's Inland Empire. Her work has been featured in The Redlands Review, Welter, Bellow, The Literary Bohemian and elsewhere. She is an advisory board member of the Wild Lemon Project.


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