Kenneth Pobo: “Handwriting and Fire”

Handwriting and Fire

Run? Don’t bother.
Cower? Hide behind potatoes
in the cellar. For a minute.

Your life has come down
to a whisper–
you miss what gets said.

cities explode, you feel
millions of people
each inside you.
Open your mouth–
coffins fall out.

You think that if you move
to the countryside you’ll relax.
You stay put, a brown leaf
under snow.

Fear does little well,
but it has good handwriting.
It writes your name
under your fingernails.
Your fingers catch fire.
It spreads quickly.


Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: Colorado Review, Nimrod, Red Cedar Review, Hawaii Review, and elsewhere.

Jim Zola: “My Daughter’s Day in Court”

My Daughter’s Day in Court

For now the sky agrees
with me. One enormous stratus,
a hint of rain. I’m going over
my list of worries. Check, check, check.
None amiss. This morning
I told my daughter to dress
appropriate for the occasion.
She wears a maroon skirt,
work boots and a Beatles top.
All she wants is to stay
in bed twenty-four seven.
Even when she is gone,
the shape of her stays behind.
Later, I promise
I will take her to the movie
she is dying to see,
where we will sit in the hushed
dark, forgot our worries
and come out to a night
that is at least forgiving.


Jim Zola has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. Published in many journals through the years, his publications include a chapbook–The One Hundred Bones of Weather (Blue Pitcher Press)–and a full-length poetry collection–What Glorious Possibilities (Aldrich Press). He currently lives in Greensboro, NC.

Susan L. Leary: “The Matryoshka Doll”

The Matryoshka Doll

I’m not that old. But lately, that has become
a significant word. Because my family
is planning their burial. Another afternoon
conversation on the phone. There’s only four
of us—myself, my husband, my parents,
so it should be easy. My mother wants us
buried like Matryoshka dolls, one inside
the other, a wooden womb. Three of us
will be cremated, and depending on who goes
first, any combination of ashes will do—
my husband with my father, my father with
my mother. I’m to live longest,
laid in my coffin a peasant girl or Soviet leader
or as the fairytale figure the innermost baby
sees in her dreams. And huddled within
the layers of linen will be all of life’s pretty
jars, however many there are. Such is the only
way we know to show love, to process that
it’s all going away. So we run happily,
if not humorously, to our graves, one by one
by one.


Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her most recent creative work appears or is forthcoming in Steel Toe Review, The Copperfield Review, After the Pause, and Verse-Virtual.

Richard King Perkins II: “Our Antechamber”

Our Antechamber

Within the supple worlds of your giving
I turn away from the red sage of evening

we have both known so well.
The sun has burned us with nimble kisses

but left our skin untouched
outside the nuzzle and pirouette of time.

The delicate chablis of your voice
pours around intricate corners and plum motifs

into a negative dimension
of scorpions and squash blossoms

and in this antechamber,
this suspension of scarlet turning autumn

you’ve helped me to become someone
I could almost love.


Richard King Perkins II is a state-sponsored advocate for residents in long-term care facilities. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL, USA, with his wife, Vickie and daughter, Sage. He is a three-time Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Best of the Web nominee whose work has appeared in more than a thousand publications.

John Grey: “I Have No Street Cred”

I Have No Street Cred

I’ve never been held
in a cell overnight.
Guess I didn’t protest enough.
Or spit on the right cops.
Heavy drinking’s never been
my virtue
nor has rampant drug taking.
I haven’t chained myself
to the White House fence
or written a threatening letter
to a politician.
I don’t have a tattoo
on any part of my body.
As for piercings,
nothing jangles when I walk or talk.
I have acted a little crazy
from time to time
but always in the privacy
of my own dwelling.
As I said at the beginning,
I don’t have a rap sheet.
There’s no record of me
in some hell-hole
with a cold cement floor,
a bunk and a toilet in the corner.
Without street credibility,
where am I?
I’m stuck writing romantic poetry.
So cuddle close
and I’ll read some to you.
Then you decide
if I’m to be held overnight.


John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Homestead Review, Cape Rock, and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem, and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Rich H. Kenney, Jr.: “While Moonlight Trims a Fingernail”

While Moonlight Trims a Fingernail

A violin string falls in love with a chin.
A tollbooth wins the lottery. Lightning
rips open night sky sutures. A thimble
eyeballs Excalibur. A porcupine gives
birth to a peach. Two remedies opt for
second opinions. A caboose rescues a
leading lady. A doorknob reads a palm.
A paper clip pictures a sequoia. An alibi
eavesdrops on a song and dance. A yawn
is surrounded by mouse holes. Nightcaps
picket the dawn. Confetti clogs an artery.
A lovesick bowl of cornflakes remembers
a scarecrow. An eyelash tickles a keyhole.
A mustache bathes in eggnog. A French
horn kisses a cloud. A marigold replaces
a Magnum. A volcano sleeps one off and
dreams it is a jar of marmalade. A slice of
cold pie shivers in its blanket of meringue.
Sandpaper reconsiders the hand it is dealt.
A pigsty cures a side of bacon. A mothball
and a timepiece find happiness in a retiree’s
suit coat pocket. A lone wolf contemplates
midnight while moonlight trims a fingernail.


Rich H. Kenney, Jr. is Social Work Program Director and associate professor at Chadron State College in Chadron, NE. A graduate from the University of Texas with a Master’s degree in Social Work, he received a Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Recent publications include articles in Faculty Focus and poetry in Plainsongs.

Steven Hoekstra: “Sestina: In my heart there is a fountain”

Sestina: In my heart there is a fountain

In my heart there is a fountain
a cool spring flowing apart from space and time
whose waters rinse my eyes
and bestow me with the spirit
of some ancient pagan charm
put there to soothe and inspire.

Passively I had hoped she could inspire
the chuckling of a parched fountain
but she lacked the charm
and I could not put in any more time.
There was no spark in her spirit
just a sunken brown set of disappointed eyes.

She fucked up and I shut tight my eyes.
I had to look within to inspire
the guidance of some ancient pagan spirit:
Sobek, Juturna, patrons of the fountain,
eternal ghosts weaving through time,
whose essences dwell within a turquoise charm.

I had meditated upon that soft blue charm
the night before my eyes
opened to a force beyond time
that could eternally inspire
like an ever loving fountain
that heals the raw and wild of spirit.

There is a steadfastness in my spirit
and an ancient essence in this charm
blessed by the heavenly fountain
springing forth through the people’s eyes.
Kind or unkind, glimpses of humanity still inspire
an ineffable bond that flows beyond time.

There will be a time
when I have cleansed this crooked spirit,
once I have spread enough love to inspire
a hopeful, happy charm
shared through friendly words and eyes.
In the face of despair, all will swim in the fountain.

In turn, please let your spirit’s fountain
overflow, with an inspired and merciful eye
shining like a timeless holy charm.


Steven Hoekstra is a proud WCC graduate and employee who currently studies English and Political Science at Eastern Michigan University. He is inspired by a variety of poets, including Emily Dickinson, Arthur Rimbaud, and John Donne. His writing explores themes of transcendence, transformation, unity, and recovery.