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"Regrowth," watercolor by Viestarts Aistars

Chris Lord



Welcome to da UP eh


Elvis sings Heartbreak Hotel

on a jukebox at the Four Star Motel.

A moose in a miner’s hat sticks her head

out of a white Thunderbird convertible.

A wolf played by James Dean pulls up

on a Harley, fox tail on his handlebars.


A woman drives five hours

(time enough to change her mind)

in a white Avis rental car from Detroit

to the Mackinac Bridge, her desperation

a clumsy Hell-diver, bones heavy like the loon’s,

her alarm tremolo a confused laugh

swallowed by the car radio’s blasting music

as she leaps from a newly painted green rail

into blue-green water.


The Four Star proprietor says

if she is fortunate, her body will drift

from disturbed white-caps to aqua wavelets,

float long enough to be recovered—

otherwise she will spend eternity

in the Straits’ icy bed.


Overhead an elegy in flight dives

as I try to fathom eternity,

question if time as we know it exists

beneath these waters that preserve

all who enter their depths, that echo

the hammering of a copper miner

lost in the shafts of this hard land,

the call of an orphaned moose calf,

the howl of a wolf grieving for his mate.


A loon wails the urgent need

to come together, his survival cry

of one two three notes rising in pitch,

drowning out the final reverberation

of the lost woman’s lament, diving

into night’s black and blue green water.






   (in memory of Charlene Berels)


Open midnight’s falcon eye, put on its yellow ring,

sleepwalk on the dark side of the moon.

Pull from craters a new definition of beauty.


Rise from the wound, claim its v-shaped scar, say

This is my body, it is endangered, is delicious.

Breathe in, breathe out.


Place trust and tenacity on disparate shoulders.

Massage the bully backbone of courage.

Dance with the raptor showing off in the sky.


Carry wild grasses under your wings,

mix brushfires with graphite washes.

Glue feathers to the cover of a blue-gray book.


Breathe in, breathe out.

Gather the rumors moss whispers to the log,

step with your hands onto a nesting ledge.


Prepare a saucer of leaves, a bundle of sticks.

Push out the sadness that takes up a lot of space.

Kick start the wind, ratchet up the rain.


Close the book. Be a purple glory vine.

Climb an old tree into a magical bedroom

where Beatles’ songs jump and play.


Breathe in. Swoop like a falcon, catch yellow rays

in mid-air. Offer waiting spirits dandelion leis.

Puff. Ask them if they can make it better.






The Red Rake


Girl on an autumn eve – bleached bangs, mascara eyes,

               Kleenex stuffed

       in her bra – painted lips pouting in black and white.


She sits on crumbling concrete steps, leafs through pages

               of True Confessions

       until it is too dark to see her push wiry gray hair


from her creased forehead, return the square photo of

               her youth to her wallet.

       A bright cinder sparks this moment of half light –


headlights shine on raked mounds of leaves – stars signal,

               turn into the arms of the

       woman, frame her as rain arrives to pelt her cheeks,


to calm the yellow smoldering.  She stands, picks up the

               red rake – Small comfort,

       this knowledge that nothing is burning.  Where is


Father with his hand out the car window, flicking the

               Lucky Strike

       or, cigarette hanging from his mouth, raking


Michigan’s fall, his ashes scattered by sudden fierce

               November storms.

       She stares at the busy street, the beauty of her


father blurring on glossy pavement.  His voice is rusty,

               rides a shiny red

       fender, brings color back to her face.  She faces


the continuous stream of headlights, rakes withered

               plants under autumn’s

       damp leaves, is grateful for the gift of decay.




Chris Lord’s poetry has appeared in several journals, and won places in several competitions (e.g., Current, Detroit Women Writers, Writer’s Digest). She founded Word’n Woman Press in March of 2007 and edited and published the Bear River Writers Respond to War print edition, and the Writers Reading at Sweetwaters anthology. Chris was also editor of the four on-line issues of Bear River Review. Chris’ chapbook Field Guide to Luck was published by Pudding House Publications. Chris is co-host of the monthly series, Writers Reading at Sweetwaters.


Erika Moya



With Your Eyes Fast Shut


Our love this Mobius twist

a smoky character wet and damp

in a loose fist

till its vapors unwrap

and nest.

One around your unwed finger

the other along your Adam’s ribs,

retracing every one like silk—

and climbing up and up

to that last perfect hollow.

The side of your neck and


with your eyes fast shut.


Against our arguments our slow and

Crawl-like making up.

That loud overbearing quiet of two souls whose egos cannot share

a place together.

We can hear the comings and

goings of lovers or mothers

or delivery men,

and how I miss America.

I am your translator here but I cannot translate

between the me and you.

Trying and then forgetting and

the room about to explode with

no space but for one of us.


The stubborn me—

the past married me

wants to fix us or me at least.

Because I love you though

I can feel your love receding—

a wave returning to its larger pool

a laugh hiding amidst a crowd

a face which turns a corner

forgetting to look back.


I can only love what is here the amount

which each day becomes

a little less

a smaller still,

and you

with your eyes fast shut.




Erika Moya is working writer living in Los Angeles. Her work has previously appeared in the University of California Riverside’s Art & Literary Journal-Mosaic, Qaartsiluni, Holly Rose Review, Toronto Quarterly, and an anthology put out by Goldfish Press.  She will be attending the MFA program at University of North Carolina Wilmington this fall.


Rachel Gruskin



Five City Senses


Some girls only came to leave.

The end of your cigarette is vibrating and the city is burning.

It’s important to look beyond the bronze shine of shoulder and

maneuver past the untouched hairs.


Oh temporary fire ─

you have all these New York angels twirling,

glossy lipped and ugly

in a halo of your smoke.


Climb through the haze,

the mean geometry of this city,

and please go to where it’s soft.



Rachel Gruskin is a recent MFA Poetry graduate of The New School in NYC. She has work published and forthcoming in Westview and Caffeine Destiny.


Sergio Ortiz



Gray and Gay


I’ve thought about being dead,

watched my bloated self in the mirror,

waited for strangers

to take care of the funeral.


I’ve thought about dinner parties,

the theatre: things no longer

in the budget. Sex. Doctors.


I’ve thought about cohesion,

Clairol, Herbal Essence

and Eyeliner. Friends.


I’ve thought about outreach groups,

raisins, peaches, and kiwis.

Still-life paintings in my city.


I’ve thought about American Idol,

churches and meals on wheels.

About competition,


and another twenty years of less,

and less, and less of a line

that does not disappear on its own.


I’ve thought about mangrove crabs

living in mud holes, pushed

back into the closet.






Strange Flesh



The rumble had finally started.

Battalions of fairies and dykes

volunteered for training.

There were no long dead skeletons

from Sodom unburied.


We sang elegies to the brave

chained to wrought iron gates

in Eastern cities,

the ones that live in fear

of being stoned,

the ones forced to marry,

leave home and hide

from father, uncle and brother.


Chained to wrought iron gates

in cemeteries

somewhere in Western cities,

we sang elegies to the brave,

gunned or stabbed,

beaten like paillard with bats,

hung on barbwire,

smoked and aged while staring

their country in the face,

asking for a marriage license

from their grave,

below eucalyptus and grass.


Last night I had one list

of reveries to read,

still sitting at the back of the bus,

to the puppet merchants

who sell our dreams short.

Did they listen,

hear the hurricane approach,

or did they blame us

for another swine pandemic?


Last night I took up arms

and called to prayer,

conscious but asleep.



Sergio Ortiz grew up in Chicago, studied English literature at Inter-American University, and philosophy at World University. He was an ESL teacher most of his life, but also worked as a Daily Living Skills Instructor for the El Paso Lighthouse for the Blind.  His work has been published in: Salt River Review, Modern English Tanka, and Yellow Medicine, The Battered Suitcase, Shipwright, Loch Raven Review, Rust and Moth, and over fifty other journals. Ortiz now lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


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