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Photo courtesy of Jay Peasley

George Moore


A Desert’s Difference


The uncertainty of a place is

my place within it.  Deserts here

are at the windows in wind


that does not relinquish its fierce

hold on the day, even when night

intrudes, and the Kandahar hotel


seems a baked clay room with

small glass fittings of light.  

Still, there is freedom here.


The men sit in doorways smoking

and there’s the dry sound

of hammers bending out plates,


as the body of heat transcends

the day’s impossible mission.

I am free to move as I please


through the desert, the place

that best matches my mind’s sere

planet, the proper arena


for a future tasting of wheat

fields and thick streams.  When

I get home, there will be more


to do than remember.  So what then

is really important?  I live here

while here, I live elsewhere


in dreams, in the cold of night

when darkness takes me in

and makes real my other selves.





Poem at the Bottom of a Pond



I recall Thoreau swimming

the length of the pond to discover

the distance, the truth of his body’s

claim on this earth, and his skin

like mine, radiating beneath

the surface of the water.  I let

the poem out as a bubble

from my mouth.  He floated

awkwardly in a world that

would not let him sink. 

I was wondering instead after

the monsters of the lake, those

creatures only boys can conjure.

The poem buoyed us up, its body

the surface of my understanding,

and let me drop, down to the pond’s

rich bottom, down to the final

wonder, coming up for air.



George Moore has published poetry in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, North American Review, Orion, Colorado Review, Nimrod, Meridian, Chelsea, Southern Poetry Review, Southwest Review, Chariton Review, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize four times.  In 2007, he was a finalist for the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize, from Ashland Poetry Press, and earlier for The National Poetry Series, The Brittingham Poetry Award, and the Anhinga Poetry Prize.  His third print collection is Headhunting (Edwin Mellen, 2002), a travelogue on ritual practices of love and possession.  Moore also has e-books, All Night Card Game in the Back Room of Time (Pulpbits, 2007) and a CD, Tree in the Wall, (, 2006).  He teaches literature at the University of Colorado—Boulder.


Alice Shapiro




Melancholy mood usurps a tendency to act

as I stare into the starry blue firmament.

No one hears the twinkle of sky-lights.

Can you listen to the soul of a falling leaf

or is it too close to the scratch at your heart?

Higher, we reach until an unbearable ache

pumps up and down like a breath,

and deep scars halt new words from forming.

Words that cleanse, pave a portion of hope

on our treacherous path. Reach. Reach out

a hand and I might play and float beyond

moods that settle us. Reach my mind in a kind

of lagoon, tropics that surround with green,

lush green curtains of embracing scent.

If I could sing, our voice would rise and rise.



Alice Shapiro has been writing since 1985 when she studied under William Packard, founder of The New York Quarterly and professor at NYU. Her poetry credits include her first collection of poems, Cracked: Timeless Topics of Nature, Courage and Endurance, published by TotalRecall Press (2009), a chapbook, Seasons of the Heart with Scars Publications (2007), and contributions in Silent Actor, New Verse News and the anthologies Poetry Connoisseur (third prize winner), Antologia del Nuovo Mondo, and Thank You, Gorbachov!


Gary Aker


Triple Letter Score


The conversation counts double or triple

like big letter scores on the Scrabble board

at the end

not waiting wanting fearing

just near her ending

sitting by the nurses’ station

when I call

They give her the phone

We talk

one more time


I hear and understand how

Parkinson’s can twist her mouth

constrict her throat

make her tongue thick and awkward

Just to be able to hear her words

not too raspy or low

is a double letter score

at least

she is hearing me today

able to hold the phone

up to her ear stuffed with a hearing aid

understand and decipher my words

Her brain’s not too muddied

by medication or depression

and confusion


Once in such a state she said


You really did come to visit me for Mother’s day

that wasn’t something I dreamed


Yes Mom I was there

remember we went out to eat

and fed the ducks


At a pond near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport


the dreams land

then take off

and fade over the horizon


But not before

a big triple letter word score today

She knew it was me all right

her voice always raspy but I didn’t have to say

what what

every two minutes


Each of us wants to be here


not less

to be present for these gifts


I climb this tall tree

put the star up on top

and curl underneath

her sparkling words

like jewels around the neck

of the longest winter night

gifted with this peace



Gary Aker loves poetry. He writes poetry. Sometimes his poetry gets published. He also writes what he likes to call sudden memoir, and lets not forget his two unpublished crime novels. Lately, he aspires to be a better dancer, photographer and blues harmonica player. Life is getting very young at 56.


Gary also has a story in our Fiction section.


Jason Ryberg


Loaded Dice and Poison Candy


Hardly even know its there

most of the time...


after all, we are a (somewhat)

fundamentally oblivious species;


whether posited, serenely,

in proper lotus position

in the middle of some shimmeringly pristine

mountaintop scenario or deeply steeped

in some sweaty, chaotic configuration of love,


or (just as likely), broke down on the side

of the highway, 335 lets say,

just south of Topeka, Kansas

(with five pallets of National Enquirers,

bearing the tear-streaked face of Britney Spears,

that has GOT to get through);


a weathered cargo ship

run aground under a brutal, relentless sun,

a hundred and one in the shade

and a beer can rolling along all of a sudden

like a tumbleweed in an old cowboy movie,

and now a dog barking off in the distance

(as if on cue).


So, we are allowed, now and then,

an absolution, of sorts,

from our inherent obligation

to fundamental attentiveness

to most of the obvious

and at least some of the finer points

of the subtext and footnotes

to the post, post-modernist novel of Life.


But, still It hovers and circles,

always lurking just out of the corner of the eye,

waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike,

doling out fate and fortune,

good, bad and indifferent, alike;


the nucleus of the all-encompassing,

all-permeating physics of context,

the fluid matrical mechanics

of how things really are;


the constantly shifting locus

of the very “shit” that happens to us,

again and again and again

in sloppy viscous loops...


The moment ultimately coming to a point

like the point of a big red arrow

On the Metaphysical Highway

Rest Stop Map Of Life,


like the finger of God pointing,


just a little too accusingly,

at you (and you and you)

as if to say



(and here you are)!



everything else

is extenuating circumstances

and low-grade



loaded dice and poisoned candy.



Jason Ryberg is the author of five books of poetry with a sixth one on the way in 2009 from Spartan Press. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


Julene Tripp Weaver


Out the Window



Still water puddles

            a slick-lick of sky

                        reflects blue sameness


Sunshine gleams across a roof

            treetops bare

                        this warm day early spring


A gull floats effortless on wings

            a serene glide

                        captured perfect in rooftop pools


Asymmetrical puzzle pieces of water

            wait, as we all do,

                        for lifes final evaporation


In the Sound a ferry crosses




Julene Tripp Weaver has her BA in creative writing from City University of New York. She has a Masters in Applied Behavioral Science from the Leadership Institute of Seattle, and works in HIV/AIDS Services. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook Case Walking: An AIDS Case Manager Wails Her Blues. Garrison Keillor featured a poem from her book on The Writer's Almanac. Her poems are published in many journals including Main Street Rag, The Healing Muse, Knock, Arabesques Review, Nerve Cowboy, Arnazella, Crab Creek Review, Pilgrimage and Letters to the World Poems from the Wom-Po LISTSERV. 


Matt Merritt


A Name For It


Beside the pantechnicons, we talk with the technicians.

It’s the same old story of love found and lost, misunderstandings,

betrayals of trust. A death, or at least a serious illness. And of course,


that embrace. We had a name for it, didn’t we? The favourite device

of the soap opera director, where a camera frames the face of one lover

hamming it up over the other’s shoulder, and tells you the story


for months to come. You exchange hellos with that actress I like.

The blonde one. When you ask me if she could play you in the film

of our life, I want to say yes but tell you that though she looks right


there’s something wrong with her voice. We watch her character

say her farewells, both of us wishing her a happy ending, and walk home

talking the way we do these days, too much, too fast, too well-rehearsed


and wholly at odds with the script. We ought to have a name for it.





Live At The Hope & Anchor


Spud is warming to his usual audience. The little fella.

The one who once asked if you were a film star.

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

They drink it in, and nod, and drink


and he says it again louder, and slower.

Repetition is truth. And we’re all psychiatrists,

sitting on couches, back seats, bar stools, but really,

it doesn’t, you know? It leaves tiny flaws, hidden scars,


a mosaic of hairline cracks that will only open up

years from now when something hits you hard enough.

God! Spare us from saloon-bar philosophers!

Walk with me now, outside, to where the moon remains


amazed by everything, and the old painted sign

is rattling in the wind. Two things worth having.

Somewhere to be going. Something to catch

and hold you, and keep you from drifting for ever.




Matt Merritt is a poet and journalist based in Leicester, England. He has been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. His debut collection, Troy Town, was published by Arrowhead Press in March 2008, and a pamphlet, Making The Most of the Light, by HappenStance in 2005.


J.R. Campbell


Elijah-John the Baptist     


Elijah, when he ran from Jezebel,

Having lost composure after he had slain

Four hundred-fifty advocates of Baal,


Dejected by his flight across the plain,

Asked God to take him from this evil world,

For Ahab’s queen had proved herself the bane


Of the holy prophets sent there by the Lord.

Elijah had been zealous, but his fear

Prompted this ironic exchange of words:


God asked, “Elijah, what’re you doing here?”

Then said, “Now go outside while I pass by.”

A mighty wind, an earthquake and a fire


But then a whisper as the Lord came nigh

Put ‘Lijah on the path that Enoch walked:

The only two men who didn’t have to die.


Ahab and Queen Jezebel had stalked

The men Jehovah sent with His commands,

But because the Tishbite never balked,


The end of her would come by eunuchs’ hands:

Face-first to the cobblestones and hooves

To be dolloped out across the land


By a pack of dogs. Watching from the rooves,

The hoi polloi took in the hellish scene

As the great adultress proved that it behooves


Everyone to understand God means

What He says. Don’t subtract or add a thing

To Scripture, not even to please a king or queen,


For we have seen what happens to the kings

By example after example in the text.

It was time for the chariot to bring


Elijah home to Heaven and for the next

Prophet of the Lord to take his place.

Elisha now would doubly move to vex


The enemies of Jehovah and His love.

Elijah would return as John the Baptist,

Awaiting Him who merited the dove


While living on wild honey and some locusts.

Baptizer of the Savior of Mankind,

He came back yet again, transfigured with Moses.


Elijah-John the Baptist, yes, would find

And testify of the Savior of Mankind.


Froth is Made of Boulders


Sticks and froth shoot forward in the river.

Boulders sway and tumble on the bottom.

Even the fish cannot resist; they stop

Inside the calms to let their colors bleed.


Even the bed and bank are soft to the river’s

Rub and cut. Nothing the river touches

Holds itself in place. Sticks are bright

From river fish. Froth is made of boulders.




J.R. “Bob” Campbell is a native of Amherst, Texas, and graduate of West Texas A&M University who has been a reporter, editor and photographer at nine newspapers in Texas and Colorado. He has had poems and stories in Ascent Aspirations, Autumn Leaves, The Cortland Review, Paradigm Review, Poems Niederngasse, Machinery Press, Poetry Life and Times, Ancient Heart, TPQ Online, Prism Quarterly, Decanto and other magazines.


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