by Eric Schwerer

Hiram’s hand
disappeared in the engine of his son’s Corvette
        and came out without its thumb.

        At first he looked at us and grinned
the way he always did when something bad
needed done. Then he ordered Claude to slam the hood
        and get the hell to town.
                                                He shoved me in,
took off his shirt, balled it, told me,
grip it tight with both your hands.
                                                I watched it
bloom with blood.
                                  I’d no way of not breathing in
his breath, leaning on his naked chest,
falling off then back into his lap
        while Claude took the turns and
        the belt and the blades of the Corvette laughed.

Eric Schwerer teaches creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown. His teaching interests also extend to writing workshops for adults recovering from mental illness and teenagers at-risk. He has also coordinated service learning experiences in Tanzania, Ecuador, and central Appalachia. His poems appear regularly in such literary journals as Prairie Schooner, NOR, Paper Street, Fence, The Journal, Cactus Heart, Third Coast, and Diagram. He is the author of two books of poetry, The Saint of Withdrawal and Whittling Lessons.



by Jeff Whitney

There are words that can be said
simpler than thunder, microscopic jellyfish
words, how they bloom like winter
berry, coming from nothing, how sudden
their lightning, how sure and biting
the cloud that comes from the mouths of people
no longer in love—their words which have become
gesture, movements in a dance they are
learning—which is a different sound than a hallway
of children running silent out of school
or the lone man walking through his idea of
a world in which he decides what stays.
There are words too that don’t come, sounds
from the open mouths of Iraqi mothers,
the first words, one long utterance
of grief, one strangled wail, one distance
rendered in the repetition of distance.
This is all that we offer huddled
at history’s burning barrel, telling stories
of what it was like when we had everything,
rubbing our hands in the thick smoke, catching
now and then a flick of ash on open palm.


Jeff Whitney is the author of Note Left Like Silver on the Eyes of the Dead (Slash Pine Press, 2013) and The Tree With Lights in it (Thrush Press, 2015). Along with Philip Schaefer, he co-authored Smoke Tones (Phantom Limb Press, 2015) and Radio Silence (winner of the 2014 Black River Chapbook competition from Black Lawrence Press). Recent poems can be found in BlackbirdColumbia Poetry ReviewCream City ReviewPoetry Northwest, and Verse Daily.



by Ruth Madievsky

Hands like ghost stories, hands like creosote,
sleep-walking hands, hands of fruit salesmen,
of dentists, hands like watermelon seeds,
all tendril and taste bud, the gloved hands of surgeons
as they make the first cut. Hands like whispers
and hands like mirrors, hands releasing fireflies
or floating in formaldehyde,
hands kneading the shortbread, hands beating the pillow,
the space between his hands and her throat
and how the space gets smaller.
Hands like blood bags and hands like radio dials,
hands like broken promises,
still as the bottom of a pool, hands holding other hands,
hands after midnight, the hands of the burglar
and the hands of the muse. Hands slick with paint,
with semen, with moonlight, hands reaching
for nipples, for paper, a gun,
hands smelling like lemons, hands soaked
in whiskey, my hands lighting a candle
at the temple of your mouth.


Originally from Moldova, Ruth Madievsky lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ZYZZYVA, West Branch, Gulf Coast, The Journal, and elsewhere. She writes for Los Angeles Magazine and reads chapbook submissions for Gold Line Press. She is also a doctoral student at USC’s School of Pharmacy and a research assistant at an HIV clinic specializing in maternal care in Downtown Los Angeles. She is working on her first poetry collection as well as a collection of linked stories. You can find her at



by Linwood Rumney

“Flies don’t enter a closed mouth”
—a saying, translated by Gloria Anzaldúa

My wife Mary and I are making tortillas.
She taught herself and wants to teach me.
I work dough with the rolling pin,
searching for the right balance
of force and repetition.

The two Spanish words Mary heard
from her mother: dejáme and mi’jita.

Otherwise she never spoke to her
in Spanish. She asks me to translate
literally—all that I am capable of.

When I am too cautious, dough dries
swollen at the edges, cracking
like chapped lips.

From dejar, to leave or abandon,
to go from, as in ¡Dejáme en paz!
Leave me.

When I press too hard,
dough sticks to the rolling pin,
forming oblong shells that split
from the circumference
towards the center.

What her mother said
when she was too angry
to speak English.

From mi and hija. My little

I will have to press hundreds
of tortillas to master the rhythm
that yields the perfect
and resilient thinness.

Mary sprinkles my efforts
with water, and with only her hands
flattens and stretches the dough,
kneading together torn seams.

What she said to call her close—
to press her into her body.

We eat tortillas hot from the skillet.
The silence of our chewing
scatters the texture
of what her mother said.

Linwood Rumney’s poems, nonfiction essays, and translations have recently appeared in or are forthcoming from North American Review, Ploughshares, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Puerto del Sol, Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Adirondack Review, and elsewhere. Currently an editorial assistant for Black Lawrence Press, he lives in Cincinnati, where he is pursuing a PhD as a Taft Fellow.



by Aurora Brackett

stalks of grass have swallowed
all there is of green
and sing it

we have names for each plant
whisper plantain
and oatstraw

an ode to light

the way light enters surfaces
clay, paint, water, skin
and shines back at itself

I found a four-leaf clover once
and you saved it

like you saved the sound of my
small voice,
the day we spent in the park
smiling for no reason

last night I watched a movie,
a man spent his life
making sushi

the streets of Tokyo in snow
dedicate your life to the elevation
 of your craft he said
I thought of your canvasses,
rolled in the corners of every room

and watched light
from the screen
play on the faces of the audience
every person suddenly
a small sun


Aurora Brackett lives in Las Vegas, Nevada where she is a PhD fellow in fiction at University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Black Mountain Institute.

She is a recipient of the 2013 Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence,  the San Francisco Browning Society’s Dramatic Monologue Award, the Wilner Award for Short Fiction, a nominee for The Pushcart Prize and a 2013 Sozopol Fiction Seminar Fellow.  Her work has appeared or will be appearing in Thrush Poetry Journal, Nimrod Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, The Portland Review, Fourteen Hills, and Glimmer Train.  She is currently fiction editor of Witness Magazine and was an associate editor of Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives published by Voice of Witness/McSweeney’s in 2010.



by Raphael Kosek

Inuit stone cut and stencil
—Kananginak Pootoogook

The two caribou ground me
frozen in their stone-cut repose
brown and white on sea-grey background,
one floating above the other, perspective
be damned.

Legs, folded neatly underneath
elegant bodies of speckled brown;
one looks behind, another
to the east,  and I imagine the sun
rising before their unblinking
eyes, the tundra awash in early light.

I want to read them like
a book of hours, to clear the frost
from my brain, the rushing world
that seizes me with its stuttering cities,
the choke of dark and busy words.
I want the clarity of cold, the still
warm indentation their bodies must leave
in the snow, the musky animal scent
that means a different life
than this one. Let them
unfold their legs carefully

and raise the warm breathing
torsos up, rump first; the sickled legs
unbending, all grace as they wend
away, swift and soft, like currents
of snowed air. And let me

feel the clear mind
of the one whose steady hand
could balance them
                                    just so
on my calendar of days.

Raphael Kosek’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Still Point Arts Quarterly,  The Chattahoochee Review, Catamaran and is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review and Poetry East. She lives in the Hudson Valley where she graduated from Vassar College and now teaches American lit and creative writing at Marist College and SUNY Dutchess Community College.  Her 2009 chapbook, Letting Go, was published by Finishing Line Press, and her new chapbook, Rough Grace, just won the 2014 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition and will be published in the fall of 2015. She has written and published many ekphrastic poems inspired by O’Keeffe, Homer, Rousseau and Inuit stone cut prints.  She is fascinated by the relationship of art and life.



by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

Let me introduce you to the season of want. Rain falls with insidious intent to tell to tell to tell.  Shale cliffs shed their secrets once covered in ice, chip by jagged chip.  How to reverse this erasure?
How to find words buried deep in our throats—words that glowed red as coals—those long winter nights.  Soon, spring will erupt flower hungry.  New rain will wash (no, bear) what was covered.  Let me introduce you to the thin, white roots of history no longer under the influence of winter stupor and ice.

We are digging now.
We are covered in our filth.

Iris Jamahl Dunkle’s poetry collection, There’s a Ghost in this Machine of Air, will be published in February 2016. Her previous collection, Gold Passage, won the Trio Award and was published by Trio House Press in 2013. Her chapbooks Inheritance and The Flying Trolley were published by Finishing Line Press in 2010 and 2013. She teaches at Napa Valley College and is on the staff of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.



by Alysse McCanna

“Poetry is the blood-jet.
There is no stopping it”
—Sylvia Plath

A drop of red on the wooden cutting board
alongside the slab of bloody beef—but my own
chicken heart has birthed it, too fool
to secure the sharp blade fully in my palm

and now the dilemma of cleaning
with a dripping thumb on white
linoleum, beside the crusts of dirt
released from spring’s young shoes.

What of the long matchsticks
in the pickling crock? Shall I hold one
to my uncombed hair this morning?
The sun leaches through the kitchen
window that overlooks not the sea,

a backyard of suckling plants
scattered with children’s toys,
egg shells, a mossy bird bath
that I’ve been meaning to scrub,
refill. By the time this cup

has gathered full the weepings
of my fissured flesh I shall have enough
to paint the wide white of the porch,
enough to spell impatience, maybe

silence. The yew tree shivers
under my touch as I shiver
under this apron, oh coal,
oh shadow, my darlings,
oh flame.


Alysse Kathleen McCanna was born and raised in the Midwest.  She graduated from Smith College in 2007 and is currently pursuing her low-residency MFA in Writing and Literature at Bennington College in Vermont.  Alysse’s poetry has appeared in The Olentangy Review, Southwestern American Literature, Pilgrimage, The Comstock Review, and other journals.



by Michelle Regalado Deatrick

Beneath the swooping power lines
only char and the smell of char abides
where we burned the spiny winged leaves
of Scotch thistle and the barbed
white crowns of teazel—
in the fen, no dusk scent
of clove and of honey drifts
from damask violets
wilted with vinegar to pale
stalks—on the east slopes at dawn
no glow of purple loosestrife
uprooted, sacked and buried
against the tenacity of the dead plants’ seed.

How we need the land’s need
for us, how we set ourselves to watch
for what we’ve certainly missed—
the trumpet vine trespassing again
on glaucous arches of black
raspberry, the creep of bindweed
in the pasture, buckthorn, bittersweet,
honeysuckle strangling wild plums
and old hedgerow oaks—
and how we purge as pestilence
what we name invasive, non-native, allelopath,
weed, what we’ve brought here,
having called it beauty elsewhere.

Michelle Regalado Deatrick is the winner of the 2012 Chautauqua Poetry Award and recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Recent and forthcoming poetry publications include Southern Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, American Literary Review, and Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week. Michelle lives on her family’s 80-acre farm and native prairie and teaches for the University of Michigan’s continuing studies program.



by Simone Muench & Dean Rader


The life I die moves through the death I live

The life I die moves through the death I live,
mired in a lunar melt of Americana—
a bootstrap wasteland of half-knitted gifts,
bible radio static and Madonna.
The Buddha says it is better to travel
well than to arrive, but he never drove
to Wichita in summer’s oven. Hell
might be other people, but let me give

the weather its due, revving its swelter
up for vaporization as the route
shimmies, briny with the sweat of faltering
landscapes, each one imaginary as
memory, our first death.
                                    Turn the key. Shift out
of R. Take life’s wheel, and give it some gas.


The door opens to a street like in the movies

The door opens to a street like in the movies,
a man in a trench coat folds a newspaper,
flips up his collar, peers at his watch. He’s
waiting for someone. And then he sees her—
a bottle blonde gleaming in a black maillot
top, an alchemy that can’t be stopped.
She’s pearl light & film noir hard. A plot
is concocted: a fool & a frame are the props,

so is the fog in the street, the taxi idling
on the corner, the crawling sky. Iced moon. From
a distance, the camera trails him. He’s walking
into the aperture, the gods-eye end of him,
pausing to catch a last glint of silk-stocking thighs,
as the pistol trills, “Give my love to the sunrise.”


Simone Muench is the author of five full-length books including Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) andWolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014). Her chapbook Trace received the Black River Award (BLP, 2014). A recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship and the 2014 Meier Foundation for the Arts Achievement Award, she currently collaborates with Dean Rader on a book titled Frankenstein Sonnets.

Dean Rader’s debut collection of poems, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Prize, and his 2014 chapbook,Landscape Portrait Figure Form was a Barnes & Noble Review Best Poetry Book of the Year.  He is a professor at the University of San Francisco and the editor of 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry. He writes and reviews regularly for The San Francisco Chronicle, The Rumpus, and The Huffington Post. A new book of poems,Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry, is forthcoming in 2016 from Copper Canyon. Other “Frankenstein Sonnets” (with Simone Muench) have appeared or will appear in American Poetry Review, Blackbird, Zyzzyva, Columbia Poetry Review, New American Writing, The Economy, Handsome and many others.



by Bob Watts

Our father, who aren’t in Baltimore
anymore or anywhere
so far as I can tell
                               no sight
of you no sound
                               not in the grass
and scarred red clay, not in the woods
where trees fall to another’s hand
or stand self-shadowed, not in garden
given back to morning glory
                    wild wind-dropped seeds

Consider this ramshackle space—
the poorly-papered walls, floor cold
under my intermittent light—
as neutral ground, a place to wait,
both anteroom and epilogue
to the longer passage I would know—
however partially, with all
my necessary wanderings
from fact, failures of empathy
or imagination—as your life.

Maybe past midnight now and then
caught in my mirror as I piss
a trace peripheral
between the eyes, a nostril flared,
bone shape of cheek, jaw stubble-shaded,
something at play beneath my skin
rough semblance lingering of you
but gone before I give it a name.

A boarding house in Baltimore,
an iron-framed single bed, a chair,
a bathroom down the hall,
and you in 1949,
no one I’d recognize, except,
perhaps, in black and white, your long,
thin face too young, the slicked back hair
too dark, too thick, your widow’s peak
only a hint of what I know
it will become on you, on me.

If silence is imaginary
who imagines yours
the hope that you might hear or hearing
care or caring answer back
in any form I’d recognize
above the thunder of your absence—

Let it be evening here, last light
in ragged scraps above shipyard
and factory second shifts, the bars
and SROs rank with desire
from men with fading farmer’s tans,
lost looks, and no one close to hold.
Soon night will spill across the city,
flood alleyways and vacant lots,
pool just beyond the yellow arcs
of streetlamps. Soon you’ll go again.

The leaf-roar of a falling oak,
tinnitus shared father and son,
bell tolling in the smallest bones,
familiar uptick at the end
of laughter
                   shadow underneath
a summer canopy of leaves,
a semaphore of stone unmoving

Nothing waits for you now, no time,
no place where you aren’t dead, memory
itself black-bordered, fading as all
who caught an echo of your voice
slip closer to the random blur,
static that drowns out every sound
in its accepting emptiness.
But let me keep you for a moment,
here where everything is still
to come. At last, I’m listening.


Bob Watts is an Assistant Professor in English/Creative Writing at Lehigh University.  His first collection, Past Providence (David Robert Books, February 2005), won the 2004 Stanzas Prize from David Robert Books, and his poems have been published in Poetry, The Paris Review, and reDivider, among other journals.