beneath the surface

by on Feb 17, 2017


Marianne Paul is a Canadian novelist and poet who recently transitioned to short-form poetry, primarily haiku, senryu, haiga and haibun. She was the winner of the 2016 Jane Reichhold Memorial Haiga Competition, multi-media category. Read more of her writing on twitter @mariannpaul, and on her website

The Road Dreamers Take

by on Feb 16, 2017

We draw our maps in darkness,
get lost and trip on fallen signs,
detour like wingless birds
into night’s black holes.
Feet as heavy as our hearts,
we wait for morning’s widening light
when trees gleam and lean apart
for our passage—and where the road
shines ahead for a day,
we follow the fickle light
of dream again.


Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review,  Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014).

Poem for Rent

by on Feb 15, 2017

(Watch Marie Craven’s video “Poem for Rent” on Vimeo)

Editor’s note: Poem by Kim Mannix can be read at her site Makes/Me/So/Digress. Full credits at Vimeo.


Marie Craven is a media maker and musician from the Gold Coast, Australia. She has been engaged in online collaboration since 2007 and has contributed to works with artists in many different parts of the world. Website:

The Sound of Taste

by on Feb 14, 2017

There’s a yellow boat on a blue sea.
It’s a drawing you made, and the sun

is like an olive in the sky.
Maybe you were thinking Martini

thoughts, or maybe you were drawn
to that horizon which always seemed

to mark your work, that blurry line
of spray and cloud where the world

disappeared. Some artists render light
as if it were something you could touch

or breathe, but you always drew
and painted taste, a world made of lemons

and salt. Your objects melt and fade,
like something sweet on the tongue.

What lasts cannot be trees,
their trunks and leaves, but a flavor

caught for an instant, a sensation
in the act of fading into itself.

Your landscapes hang on my walls,
and every meadow, every sea cliff,

each green field, lingers in my mouth,
the sound of taste, another lovely, long farewell.


Steve Klepetar has received several nominations for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, including four in 2016. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo PoemsFamily Reunion and A Landscape in Hell are forthcoming in 2017.

Grief’s Engine is a Flower

by on Feb 13, 2017

Today each shadow is a giddy cosmonaut
navigating fields of light.

Wherever I stand sprinklers go off
and invite rainbows.

The transparencies of air feel
vertiginous as sky.

Every cloud is pregnant with rain that never falls.
Every tree vibrates with telepathic zest.

Ossicles spell out a symphony
that began in the Mesozoic with giant lizards.

The migratory patterns of vampire bats
have been rerouted to your house in the suburbs.

Politicians in Washington and everywhere else
wear overalls and are muzzled with honesty.

A virus somewhere has decoded the gene
for happiness.

All our liminal angels reel in the dark


José Luis Gutiérrez is a San Francisco-based poet. His work has appeared in Eratio, Scythe, Margie, Poemeleon, DMQ, Jetfuel, Caliban and is forthcoming in Metonym, Xavier Review and Kestrel, among others. His first poetry collection, A World Less Away, was published in 2016.

Scattering in Harmony

by on Feb 9, 2017

The ashes scattered and danced on the calm surface of the Rock River.  After a quiet minute Cynthia squeezed his hand and whispered:

“But this is probably illegal, right?”

Oliver didn’t answer. Clutching his other hand was her son Jimi, now a stocky eight-year-old, and Oliver had no desire to go beyond this moment.

“Right?” She asked again.

Jimi broke free and scampered a few yards farther across the bridge, the better to watch the last of the ashes as they disappeared into the elements. Oliver turned to her and kissed her forehead. He said:

“Lady, I am indeed a real lawyer, and I’m here to tell you there’s nothing ‘probably’ about it – we have committed an exquisitely illegal act.”

“Well, then, I’ll just tell them it was my lawyer’s idea.”

“Great plan. That should work.”

They walked to Jimi. River gulls swooped in and out of the afternoon sun, their shadows on the water as graceful as their true selves in the air.

“Mom, once Grandma Millie and I saw an eagle here, a real eagle!”

“I remember, sweetie, because you wrote me a letter all about it. I still have it. I’ll always keep it with my most-important-papers.”

Oliver thought of another most-important-paper that would be waiting for them back in Janesville, the one that awarded him guardianship of Jimi. They would pick it up from the courthouse on Monday before driving Cynthia back to the women’s prison in Taycheedah. Her funeral furlough ended Monday at midnight and they were not going to be late. She still had four months on her ticket and nobody wanted an extension.

Millie had been his client for a year, a remarkable grandma taking care of the fatherless little boy while his mom served two years for selling dope. Marijuana, in fact. Nothing else. Now his client was dead and he was in charge of Jimi. They had taught him nothing of this back in law school.

“Hey,” he said, “did I ever tell you about my buddy Sean? The one who works out in Arizona?”

He gave them no opportunity to respond before beginning his story:

“Sean works in a tiny town, Sacaton, on the Gila River Reservation. After his first year they had a dinner in his honor and someone from the Tribal Council announced: ‘From this day forth, Sean shall be known as Walking Eagle. We are extremely grateful for his service.’

Sean was touched, he told me, and then the Judge of the Tribal Court stood up, and said ‘Of course, Sean, we chose that name because you’re so full of crap you’ll never fly.’

Everyone laughed, Sean told me, no one more than he did.”

Jimi giggled all the way back to the shore, followed by his mom and Oliver. There were worse things than full immersion in the music of laughter.

May it always be so, Oliver implored anyone who might be watching.  Even Millie.


Tony Press tries to pay attention and sometimes he does. His short story collection, Crossing the Lines, was published in 2016 (Big Table). He’d love for you to buy it. He lives near San Francisco and has two Pushcart nominations but not one website.

Hats Off

by on Feb 8, 2017

Your big floppy hat that so overshadowed me –
The funky floral one that I couldn’t begin to wear –
Your Jackie shades and little pillbox –
all too sophisticated for my less confident style.
In the sun, the wide-brimmed straw hat protecting
your pale, exquisite skin

The hats you wore when
your hair thinned from the chemo
The berets when
it was finally all gone –
I couldn’t pull off any one of those looks,
and now your hat rests, accessorizing

the canister of ashes
as I take my time
gradually scattering
your body to the wind and waters
of the world where you belong


Betsy Mars is a Connecticut-born, mostly Southern California raised, formerly lapsed poet. She has returned to the fold after too long of an absence.  She is a mother, educator, and animal lover with a severe case of travel fever. Having spent part of her childhood abroad, she has always had an interest in language and its nuances. Her work has been published by Silver Birch Press and California Quarterly, as well as in several anthologies.

Carried Away

by on Feb 7, 2017

She doesn’t need to tell me
the cancer has returned.
Now on daily morphine
for the pain raking her bones,
she left the window open last night
as she tried to sleep, flat and still
on her back. She let the June breeze
pass right over her body.
Bad as I feel, she says,
if someone wants to come
and get me, let them.
Anyone could slice the screen
next to her bed and reach
to touch the gossamer hair
sprouting after last year’s chemo.
Who might take her away?
Instead of the thieves and gunshots
known to this neighborhood,
let it be some feathered creature
never before seen. Let its name
be whispered into her ear.
Let any other word
be stricken from this room
once she has been lifted
with unsinkable wings
over and above
our distant streets.


Micki Blenkush lives in St. Cloud MN and works as a social worker. She is a 2015 recipient of an emerging artist grant awarded by the Central MN Arts Board, funded by the McKnight Foundation. Her writing has also appeared in: SequestrumNaugatuck River Review*82 Review, and elsewhere.

fistfuls of hair

by on Feb 6, 2017


fistfuls of hair
fall from her head
hope so small
it slides through
a needle’s eye


Marilyn Fleming was raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. It was this small slice of life, living in nature, which often defines her work. Her poetry has been published in various international journals, and anthologies. She has a special interest in haiku and tanka, Japanese forms of poetry, and won her first prize in the Hildegarde Janzen Oriental Forms Award in 1988. She currently resides in Pewaukee, WI. Visit her online at