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Interstellar Contact by Sniedze Rungis

James Valvis


Today I stopped by Issaquah Creek
for twenty minutes, the first
spring run off charging
under the bridge, thinking
only about how to define
the gray of the way,
deciding on tarnished silverware.
Then, proud, I walked back to my life
where I didn't know a single person

who'd do this, let alone be foolish enough
to admit it in a poem.



James Valvis lives in Washington State with his wife and daughter. His poetry or fiction has appeared this year or is forthcoming in 5 AM, Arts & Letters, Clackamas Literary Review, Confrontation, Hanging Loose, Hurricane Review, New York Quarterly, Nimrod, Pearl, Potomac Review, Rattle, Red Rock Review, Slipstream, South Carolina Review, Southern Indiana Review, and many others.




Greg Kosmicki


A Gust of Wind Nearly Blew Over Our Lady of Guadalupe


so the priest

had a young Mexican boy come up

out of the outdoor


away from his natural



to hold onto the Virgin

as she was seen

these hundreds of years ago

by Juan Diego

near his place in the wintery mountains.


Now he sweats

in the 100 degree parking lot

through the thicket

of the bilingual Mass

his head pressed

against her

lighter than air



thinks perhaps of the actual mother

the body beneath


thinks perhaps it is he

himself found

by her

in the narrow

mountain pass outside

his meager home,

how he pleaded with the bishop to no avail!

...till he brought back

his miraculous serape.


Now he is forgotten

by Father and the congregation

until Holy Communion is over


but he saved her

as no other could

his head buried deep

in her secret lap

just emptied of roses.



What I Miss From the Past


For Greg Kuzma


is smoke.  When it was time

to burn trash Saturday

my brother and I dragged

sawed-off old cartons from

washing machines, dryers,

we kept in the basement

and filled all week with trash.

Before anyone knew

it was the dawning of

Aquarius, the dawn

of the Age of Plastics

arrived, and we burned that

fast as we could, filling

the world with Dioxin

years before Uncle Sam

discovered how deadly

it could be and called it

Parquat.  The aerosol

cans we loved!  Burn ‘em and

Blam! Blam! Blam! and we’d duck

from flying metal strips,

red-hot, whirring past eyes

invulnerable, shot

through with a faith in God,

Chevrolets, apple pie,

and who knows what other

silly stuff.  A car crash

killed my brother before

they got a chance to kill

him in Viet Nam. I

loved to smell evening smoke,

visiting our little

town. This was good smoke, smoke

from the burn barrels out

back in dark dirt alleys,

smoke from paper burning,

maybe bits of garbage.

And in the Fall, leaves burned

on lawns all over town 

just after the Good War,

when everything we did

was the right thing, somehow.



Greg Kosmicki is a poet and social worker living in Omaha, Nebraska. He is also the Editor and Publisher of The Backwaters Press. His poetry has been published in numerous magazines, both print and online. He is a 2000 and 2006 recipient of the Nebraska Arts Council's Merit Award. He is the author of three books and 7 chapbooks of poems. Two of the poems from his book from Word Press, Some Hero of the Past, have been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac. Marigolds, his seventh chapbook of poems, was recently published by Black Star Press.



Carol Berg

Ophelia Introduces Herself to the River 

My name means slender sapling leaning closely

small brown rocks nestled in silt  

air ascending inside oyster shells

 goldenrod nodding by the water

My name means Tuesday tracing bone-colored reeds

 willow leaves tasting echoes

 water’s high C’s soaring beeward

water rising to furious moonlight

and you are sweetly doing nothing

My name means vengeance pays attention to the tides


The River Offers a Ring to Ophelia

What language could I speak, but of clarity,

of seeing through?  Not true—I  spoke


the language of nudity.  The language of all

rivers is lust.  I licked Ophelia’s calf, flesh


the color of peaches rinsed in the rain. She dipped

her hand inside of me. I played in and out


with shadows her fingers made in my swirls.

I fixated a fish within the sunlight’s freckles.


She was unwary of the layering I could perform.

The black of tree trunks twirling toward


the orange autumn light seduced the sky.

But I know when to change perspective.  I lured


her vision with my movements. My slow

hushed touch. I jiggled the little white pebbles.


Little moon stones. They looked like pearls.

She kept reaching for another. And another.



Carol Berg has poems in Fifth Wednesday Journal, Pebble Lake Review, Rhino, Sweet, and elsewhere.  She has her MFA from Stonecoast and an MA in English Literature.  Carol also works part-time as a Writing Tutor at Pine Manor College



M.P. Powers


Drowning Out

at the cafe across from the sunflower
field just west of miami, I am sipping
cuban coffee from a tiny ceramic cup,
waiting gazing at the afternoon rain
while the hush, guayabera-covered
cubans on either side of me sit
slouched grin through filthy plumes
of cigarsmoke; the old leatherfaced
ladies at the table by the window
speaking quietly la lengua de
cervantes, a tide of syllables I don't
understand, and it's better that way
sometimes; sometimes there's just
a little blither bliss sitting just outside
the logic of words, listening instead
to the ringing of saucers cups
soupspoons clanging and the rain

listening mostly to the voice
of the rain falling over the sunflowers
and the sunflowers with their bright
heads slightly bowed, ogling, as the petals
drip their silver song.



M.P. Powers has poems published or forthcoming in Rosebud, The New York Quarterly, Slipstream, A Cappella Zoo, Third Wednesday and many others. He was born in Chicago and lives in the Miami area in Florida.


Sergio Ortiz




The Orchestra


I am / 

This triad that asks for a fourth,

this not dead, not alive, that doesn’t bleed save through the clamor, 

the extensive consensus, for what is already twisted, this hero.


Hospitals and Health Plans


You are / 

This procession of self-confessed criminals, this ghetto whore 

capable of murdering for pennies, 

this lack of common sense, this skinless machine,

this deaf ear that cannot enjoy, understand, define, or visualize

the sensuous sounds of a tango,

this flavorless postoperative procedure,

this nonexistent ER.  




I am /

This ellipsis, this electronic lip tag 

that disciplines our mouth, this open hand

fearful of landing on the vampire’s fork.  


Dead Tongues


I am / You are / We are 

This dead mother/ this dead son, this dead father,

this dead sister, this dead friend, because we left them alone 

in their last minute.




We are /

This future winter, this subtropical hell,

this spring curse, this slow farewell, death's gift.



Ortiz has a B.A. in English literature from Inter-American University, and a M.A. in philosophy from World University.   His poetry has appeared in over 200 online and print journals  He has been recently published, or his poems are forthcoming in: The Battered Suitcase, Zygote in my Coffee, Right Hand Pointing, Poui: Cave Hill Journal of Creative Writing, Writers’ Bloc and Temenos: Central Michigan University’s Literary Journal.  Flutter Press published his chapbook, At the Tail End of Dusk (2009). 



Susan Milchman


Shadow Baby


I could become as broken and sad 

as a wishbone,

as blood collects beneath me

in a tide pool of afterbirth 

and spent energy. 

Better to focus on her cry, 

the sound raining down 

on me from the corner 

of the room as the doctors 

and nurses check her over, 

carefully moving her bird-thin 

limbs and listening to the beat 

of her walnut heart. 

They wipe blood 

and remnants of me 

from her translucent coral-colored 

skin and tell me that it will be easier 

for me 

in the long run 

if I do not hold her. 

I sink 

as she is carried from the room, 

a stray fold of pink blanket 

peeking over the nurse’s shoulder, 

my last sight.      



Susan Milchman lives in Minneapolis with a tolerant husband, two spirited little girls, three goldfish who will never die, and two ancient felines with stomach issues. She has recently had her poetry published by Slow Trains Literary Journal and considers herself a permanent student at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis.


Ali Abdolrezaei


Translated by Abol Froushan


This dry tree
how has it arranged itself so well
so well ... under the rain.... to stand up?
The pomegranate that’s hanging
why should someone squeeze .... who knows nothing?

Why the rain that should rain down in this poem doesn’t rain?

And life.... this short lullaby.... finally puts me to sleep
on a page that spent a life in ‘I don’t know’

How many times should I write
the poem ... that I’ll never write?
I’m sure....London’s blood group
which most likely is O or
doesn’t match mine
because I keep hitting the rain...keep getting wet

What ecstasy revolves round this
thought that’s in my mind
I wish someone came
to stop this Dervish that keeps twirling in my head
the rain that keeps raining no longer comes to my poem

This cursed beast
has brought tears to all eyes

This inquisitor
who drags so much out of the clouds over London

Is someone idling up there
or is it true
that it’s still raining?

We all die
so nothing ends
what a shame


Ali Abdolrezaei began his professional poetic career in 1986 and became one of the most serious and contentious poets of the new generation of Persian poetry. He's published 21 varied books of poetry.



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