A Poem by Sarah Plummer

We’ve become transient in our daily dealings,
like hobos peddling emotions from dark saddlebags,
casual and lonely.

At night our bodies are cathedrals inhabited by godless tourists —

crowding into each other,
finding symbolism in each breath,
praising the dim fresco of your chest.

“It must have taken years to paint such detail across his heart.”

We are busy and marvelous at nightfall,
but vacant as first light steals into our museum.

Only one Great Pyramid still stands,
and I’d much rather be filled with you and alone
than gilded,
admired,
and untouched.

Sarah Plummer is a Ph.D. Candidate in Social and Cultural Thought at Virginia Tech. She is a proud Appalachian who, in former lives, worked in journalism and theater.

A Poem by Michael Lee Johnson

As sure as church bells
Sunday morning, ringing
on Halsted and State Street, Chicago,
these memories will
be soon forgotten.
I stumble in my life with these words like broken sentences.
I hear and denounce myself in the distance,
mumbling chatter off my lips.
Fragments and chips.
Swearing at the parts of me I can’t see;
walking away rapidly from the spiritual thoughts of you.
I am disjointed, separated from my Christian belief.
I feel like I’m at the bottom of sin hill
playing with my fiddle, flat fisted, and busted.
So you sing in the gospel choir; sang in Holland,
sang in Belgium, from top to bottom,
the maps, continents, atlas are all yours.
I detach myself from these love affairs drive straight, swiftly,
to Hollywood Casino Aurora.
Fragments and chips.
I guess we gamble in different casinos,
in different corners of God’s world,
you with church bingo, and I’m a riverboat boy.
No matter how spiritual I’m once a week,
I can’t take you where my poems don’t follow me. Church poems don’t cry.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada, Vietnam era. Today he is a poet in Itasca, DuPage County, Illinois, published in 1098 small press magazines in 40 countries; 217 YouTube poetry videos. He has been nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/2 Best of the Net 2017, 2 Best of the Net 2018.

A Poem by Paul Pruitt

 Do I dream the Red King, or am
 I in the Red King’s dream? Do we
 Each the other dream, or do we dream,
 Both, one dream of mutual exercise?
 Am I contained in his dream, free—
 More so than we may be in waking life—
 And have I freed the Red King to dream down
 His small forever? 
                                 Should I now cast him out of mind,
 Turning all my mirrors to the wall, turning his hunched
 Shape—yes, with all that inhabit realms of wonder—into
 A rare form of translucence, a ghost primed to be seen
 In a side glance, registered, then forever dimmed? 
  
 Or shall I keep a part of my thoughts
 Still working in the twilight, accepting that I
 May meet my proper self trapped there, 
 Half-alive, a would-be actor caught 
 Behind the pages of so many books? 
  
 First, I will begin with a decision small
 But necessary, all in all, and likely beneficial to my head:
 I will learn to wear this crown—so heavy, so red. 

Paul Pruitt is a law librarian at the University of Alabama. He has published a number of poems over the years, most recently with the Birmingham Arts Journal. He is currently working on a series of poems entitled “Scenes from Childhood.”

A Poem by Julia Ponder


This will not be the last

congregation of sparrows
to gather in the empty winter orchard,

and comb in it for left behind skins and stems;
each picks and plucks

between the muddy aisles of apple trees
scanning the scripture of dirt for

secret thawed places hidden in snow
where their answered prayers lie.

This will not be the last
gust of wind that sends them off again
in search of warmer places and higher things.

Julia Ponder is a poet and teacher living in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Her poetry and creative non-fiction have been published in several print and online publications, including Chronogram, 805Lit, Shawangunk Review, THAT Magazine, and The Sonder Review.

A Poem by Esme Waters


Real poets describe me as artless.
Me, someone who throws words onto the page
with very little grasp of poets past.

Real poets, they craft.
They, artists, have access
to a (the) special place.

I am not allowed to go there.
I am not allowed to pretend
to go there, without permission.

And they never give permission.
Permission is earned, in some ways.
In other ways, permission won.

Probably, no one will ever read this
which is okay, until you consider
that you are not the arbiter of me.

And I will.

Esme Waters is the pen name of a writer who wishes to remain anonymous; a writer who writes because he has to, not necessarily because he wants to.

A Poem by Gina Ferrara

An unknown hour, arrives unassigned,
above crenellated stucco walls,

a flock flies in crown formation,
unbreakable, an avian presence, ominous halo,

dark corona without beginning or end,
their black plumage an honest onyx

holding evidence of moon glow and lifted luminosity
to give sheen, divine shine, nearly oiled, anointed…

they cast no shadows, only bringing hard consonance
in this timid and actual light.

Gina Ferrara lives in New Orleans. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Tar River Poetry, Dovecote, and The Briar Cliff Review among others. Her latest collection of poems, Weight of the Ripened, was published in early 2020 by Dos Madres Press. She teaches English at Delgado Community College.

A Poem by Kendra Leonard

I’m not your lover
and I’m not your girl
and I will leave this house for the wood

and there I’ll make myself
a place
of timber and branch
and mystery.

All the children shall call me the witch
though I haven’t a single spell,
but do walk alone in the night
to watch the bats
go hunting.

I’ll build and build,
my own two hands and a saw,
my own two eyes and a hammer,
and in the spirit-guarded strangler fig,
there’s my very own house,
the world turned upside down.

And in this golden, rosy-fingered tree
I’ll too be golden, a goddess of the dawn
and of stray dogs
and the night

no one’s girl,
a little Hecate of the wild.

Kendra Preston Leonard is a poet, lyricist, and librettist whose work is inspired by the local, historical, and mythopoeic. Her chapbook Making Mythology was published in 2020 by Louisiana Literature Press, and her work has appeared in vox poetica, lunch, The Waggle, and Lily Poetry Review, among other venues. Her novella-in-verse Protectress, about the gorgons in the modern world, is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press in 2022. Leonard collaborates regularly with composers on new operas and songs. Follow her on Twitter at @K_Leonard_PhD or visit her site kendraprestonleonard.hcommons.org.

A Poem by Steve Gerson

“I can find my way,” 
I said, myself at 21, 
my black and white world

aligned at right angles, 
the horizon a crosshair 
centered polestar straight.

“I see a light,” I
said, myself at 41,
“and fly toward it,”

in row-beat meter
to climb steep sky inclines
but glide winded down,

dimmed, a crow molting.
“I’ve been,” I said, myself now
61.  My bifocaled

view more askew, my
gray a teetering cairn, wobbled
on rounded edges.

Steve Gerson, an emeritus English professor from a Midwestern community college, writes poetry and flash about life’s dissonance and dynamism. He’s proud to have published in Panoplyzine (winning an Editor’s Choice award), The Hungry Chimera, Toe Good, The Write Launch, Route 7, Duck Lake, Coffin Bell, Poets Reading the News, Crack the Spine, Riza Press, White Wall Review, Variant, Abstract, Montana Mouthful, the Decadent Review, Indolent, Rainbow Poems, Snapdragon, The Underwood Press, Wingless Dreamer, Gemini Ink, and In Parentheses.