“Exposure” by Chris Simon


The pops and flashes of brilliance,
instamatic flash bulb explosions
of acrid clarity
make translucent the
of my reticence.
I open up to the paparazzi of your
and give you my best side,
baring all,
I feel free,
knowing the readership of my opus is small,
the article better than the
I become your a, an, and the–
a burning, retinal after-image,
an eye-blink,
the single lens
of my reflection
through which you meter
the light and dark,
the f-stops of hesitation,
the demure and the pornographic
of your still-framed
Hiding out in your dark rooms,
I seldom feel over-exposed.

Born in Birmingham, Chris grew up in Sylacauga, AL. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham, majoring in Psychology and studied for several semesters in New York City and Thessaloniki, Greece. Following school, Chris worked for Birmingham’s City Stages as the assistant sponsorship director. In 2005 Chris returned to Sylacauga, where he currently lives and works. He is married, the father of two young boys, and is in his second year of mortuary school at Jeff State in Birmingham. His hobbies include writing, reading, collecting fountain pens, studying astrophysics, and watching first and second wave French films. His current interest lies in the impact of the internet on social and cultural evolution, particularly at the neuropsychological level of the individual.

Two Poems by Corey Mesler


for Chloe

This is the fairy tale,
the one with
the path, the one with
the darkness.
Take my hand. You
are still wee to me.
Tell me again how you
will grow and love
and prosper. That’s the
way I listen. I
listen with my pen. I
listen like starlight,
till the fairy tale
opens its bloody rose.

Another Morning in Cerecloth

It’s only eight a.m.
and I’ve already been up
for days.
The sun is a weak tea.
My head is
attached with prayer goo.
I have a whole day
in front of me,
laid out like parasite’s silk.
I must be alive, I say to
the mirror.
It seems I have things to do.
It seems I woke
many days ago with things to do.

Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He has published four novels, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue (2002), We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon (2006), The Ballad of the Two Tom Mores (2010) and Following Richard Brautigan (2010), a full length poetry collection, Some Identity Problems (2008), and a book of short stories, Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009). He has also published a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems have been chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He also claims to have written, “Your Auntie Grizelda.” With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores. He can be found at www.coreymesler.com.

Three Poems by Ben Nardolilli

Set the Dark

You once came to the beam city
Following evening amulets,
Leave it, you cannot hope to grow
Where you have been buried,
Around you are sacred powers,
To render you into content
That cannot be transformed.

That peculiar contradiction
Of happy poverty, free of sorrows
That empty stomachs know,
This tune you hardly found,
But even if there was a continent
You could look right under,
Bohemia is smiling into a dusty mirror.

Go out and take notice
Of your parents’ constant mouths,
Hammered from highballs,
They found their independence,
These elders are appropriate mascots,
Imagine such a place
Where inebriation brings liberties.

Things That Should Remain On Facebook

The cyberspace mafia,
And the virtual reality crimes
Of bodies broken, cars stolen,
Evidence to dispose of
On someone else’s wall,
Facebook can keep it,
Along with the farms
That won’t stop growing
And the imaginary kitchens,
But a lady with green eyes
Can always come along
To poke me in real life.

The Skin is Holy

We are giddy with lurching,
Coming close to the edge
Of the real world’s decline
And rebirth into a caprice:
The only fantasy we can have,
A simple wish for a universe
That shakes and trembles
Like a spider’s web as we move,
Where everything is connected,
Including us at this tarnished bar.

Ben Nardolilli is a twenty-five-year-old writer currently living in Montclair, New Jersey. His work has appeared in The Houston Literary Review, Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, One Ghana One Voice, Baker’s Dozen, Thieves Jargon, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, Poems Niederngasse, Gold Dust, Scythe, Anemone Sidecar, The Delmarva Review, Contemporary American Voices, SoMa Literary Review, Gloom Cupboard, Shakespeare’s Monkey Revue, Black Words on White Paper, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly. He maintains a blog at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com.

Three Poems by Richard Peake

Pine Trees and Alligators

Pickup trucks with rifles hanging in the cab,
lumber mills processing wood from piney
forests, planted acres to pay the tab
on land between the Pigeon and Tombigbee,
longleaf pines, red-cockaded woodpeckers,
alligators, bald cypress, Spanish moss
decorate mosquito lands whose chiggers
sneak attack deer hunters hiking across
wooded stands. From Cironelle to Doster
rural Alabama harbors folk who balk
at paying much heed to city slickers
driving all the way from Birmingham to talk
about making piney woods profitable
then motoring back to diamonds and sable.

Hunting Piney Woods

Guy has permission to hunt these woods
two miles from any house—
he turns where a road cuts in
gashing between young pines
growing together as thick as pubic hairs.
He needs his four-wheel drive
to crawl down this track.
Signs of civilization abound
in this seemingly secluded place.
Cars slow down on the highway
throw out creatures considered refuse—
scrawny cats, distempered dogs
wander along the piney track.
Sacks of trash bother whiskey bottles
lying beside the ruts. More cast offs
decorate spaces car tracks trace
into clear places allowing campsites.
Beyond one of these Guy sees oaks
and other mast trees, moves in and loads
his rifle to dodge through beer cans,
gum wrappers, Kleenex, snakeskin
stockings shed onto stacks of garbage—
prophylactics scattered here and there.
Guy tries to ignore this human carelessness
as he moves into the oaks and hickories
and stalks a barking squirrel
trying to imagine he’s in the wild…

Feeding Gulls

“Look there! Acrobats in air!”
“Look at that catch!”
“Let’s make one fetch from the hand;
hold up bread above your head.”
“Ouch! No fair! He nipped my hand.”
“Use just two fingers.
Hold up a crust.”

Up goes the bread,
as high as the throwers can toss
and the wind can blow—
young kids unaware of the need to throw
it out, away from their heads,
at times bring the birds too close
and groan to receive a fowl gift.

A sunny day and a shining beach
and laughing gulls to feed
are little kids’ delight
whether the child be six or seventy
if there’s bread to be had at a decent rate
and you have enough when the gulls
have taken the bait.

Grandkids grow blasé—
feeding gulls no longer makes their day
exciting—the teens who used to laugh
and toss bread say they have other things to do.
They will feel joy again at feeding gulls
when they have kids and grandkids
and they are young again.

A native Virginian, Richard Peake became a Texas resident after retiring from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. He published early poems in Impetus alongside John Ciardi and in The Georgia Review. Collections of his poetry are Wings Across… and Poems for Terence published by Vision Press, which also included poems of his in A Gathering at the Forks. He published Birds and Other Beasts in 2007. During 2008 and 2009 he won awards from Gulf Coast Poets and The Poetry Society of Texas and published in Sol Magazine and Shine Journal (one nominated for the Pushcart Prize). In 2010 he published in Avocet, Asinine Poetry, Boundless 2010, Raven Images, Skive, The Road Not Taken and elsewhere. A life-long naturalist, a father and grandfather, he teaches birds, Shakespeare, and writing in Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

“The Last Crummy Poem?” by James Valvis

As most poems I write
Are not worthy of me
And most poems you read
Are not worthy of you
This poem is not worthy

Consider this

If the bombs should fall
All over the world
While I write this
This crummy poem would be
The last poem ever penned

And consider this also

If the bombs should fall
All over the world
While you read this
This crummy poem would be
The last poem ever read


Everything and everyone: bombed
All the things we loved: bombed
All the things we hated: bombed

All the great poems
I could have written:
You could have read:


And here I sit writing
And there you sit reading

This crummy poem

Considering this

I think I should be writing
Something better
Being someone better

And you should be reading
Something better
Being someone better

Though what and what
And who and who
I have no idea
And you have no idea
And mankind itself has no idea

And maybe this is why
I wrote this crummy poem

Why you read this crummy poem

And why we have the crummy bombs

ValvisJames Valvis is the author of How to Say Goodbye (Aortic Books, 2011). His poems or stories have appeared in journals such as Anderbo, Arts & LettersBarrow Street, Baltimore Review, Hanging Loose, LA Review, Nimrod, RattleRiver Styx, Vestal Review, and many others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Daily and the Best American Poetry website. His fiction was chosen for the 2013 Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.

Two Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

The Lullaby

On the day of the three dolphins
with no other premonition I could feel
this page of paper simply disappeared
& my pen began speaking aloud as if
it had intended to do so all along.

Several moments, present upon present
times elapsed, until my ear acclimated
to song, a pure song of some few birds
whose voices I have painfully learned
through perhaps years of familiarity.

Let me say it was more an evening psalm,
a whispering of vespers in cooling, still air.
Or maybe it was more a lullaby because
I became lulled, slowed, stopped, listened.
I stood until light dimmed, & I listened

Gulf Coast Sutra

celedon seas     this ebb
clouded time     grasp
of moon beginning
to wax gentle      invisible
by afternoon light
soft     gray     flat mask
hides the sun     one
ring-billed gull     one dolphin
cresting up     eying the peninsula
the one woman kneeling
one willet     one sanderling
grab cautious glimpses
twitter     skitter     dip dip
quick bows to wet sand
well aware one gritty valve
of Atlantic cockle dribbles
salt water poured by low waves
one quiet secret
susurrus of surf     knowing
as horseshoe crabs do
Earth turns only so quickly

rise     go among broken shells
behold white pelicans
starting their journey north
spring’s neap nears
one tide at a time

A recent “Best of the Net” nominee, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appeared dozens of publications as well as in many anthologies. She has six books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her new chapbook, The Urn, from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming from Salmon Press is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North. Currently in the works is a book of technologically themed poems, The Gizmo Girl’s Diary, as well as an application for a second National Park Artist Residency. She was founding poetry editor of Sea Stories (www.seastories.org), and is now book reviewer and assistant editor for The Centrifugal Eye (www.centrifugaleye.com) and moderator of the poetry blog, Smothered Air (http://smotheredair.yuku.com/). She teaches at Writers & Books, Rochester, NY. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com. She resides in part-time in Kent, NY, and winters in North Fort Myers, FL.

Three Poems by Howie Good

Writing Life

Leaves fly
like red kites.

A boy kicks
an apple
the street.

I can hear
his voice,
but not
his words.

The wind
its beak
into me.

The Butterfly Garden of Absinthe

The first time
I heard April becoming April,

I heard jewels in the mail,
futuristic apparatus, weird haunted frogs,

Bang, bang,
I heard Little Red Riding Hood say,

and above the accidental crimes of birth,
I heard schlock deities moving

to untidy local motels,
telling most roses and wild apples

dot dot dash

Eternal Recurrence of the Same

One week it’s an uncle in Jerusalem who shatters. The next week it’s my father who calls. What can cause more harm if misused, love or hate? The question confuses me. Some nights I need to take a pill to fall asleep. A motel sign advertises cable TV and no vacancies. I go to bed still bleeding a little, like a man from a country where no one else lives.

He wouldn’t take off his hat. To live well, he said, you must live unseen. He had a rope around his neck and one leg over the railing. A passerby happened to notice the bank clock said 11:11. The most mysterious thing is a fact clearly stated. I inquired at the desk. The sun will shine for another six billion years. At least.

I stood there with an umbrella under my arm, a mournful observer. Others ran. It was what machines dream about, but covered in flames and the maps of missing countries.

During dinner, the trees dropped leaves in the pond. She said something about guilt and forgiveness. The orange cat that had adopted us was licking itself under the table. I nodded as if I understood. Night frost lit up the fields, a language that has no word for the past.

HowieHowie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Cryptic Endearments from Knives Forks & Spoons Press. He has had numerous chapbooks, including A Special Gun for Elephant Hunting from Dog on a Chain Press, Strange Roads from Puddles of Sky Press, and Death of Me from Pig Ear Press. His poetry has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthology. He blogs at http://apocalypsemambo.blogspot.com.