Three Poems by Lyn Lifshin

But Instead Has Gone Into Woods

A girl goes into the woods
and for what reason
disappears behind branches
and is never heard from again.
We don’t really know why,
she could have gone shopping
or had lunch with her mother
but instead has gone into
woods, alone, without the lover,
and not for leaves or flowers.
It was a clear bright day
very much like today.
It was today. Now you might
imagine I’m that girl,
it seems there are reasons. But
first consider: I don’t live
very near those trees and my
head is already wild with branches

I Was Four, In Dotted

Swiss summer pajamas,
my face a blotch of
measles in the small
dark room over blue
grapes and rhubarb,
hot stucco cracking.
17 North Seminary.
That July Friday
noon my mother was
rushed in the grey
blimp of a Chevy
north to where my
sister Joy would be
born two months
early. I wasn’t
ready either and
missed my mother’s
cool hands, her
bringing me frosty
glasses of pineapple
juice and cherries
with a glass straw
as Nanny lost her
false teeth, flushed
them down the toilet
then held me so tight
I could smell lavender
and garlic in her
braided her, held
me as so few ever
have since, as if
not to lose more

Some Afternoons When Nobody Was Fighting

my mother took out
walnuts and chocolate
chips. My sister and
I plunged our fingers
in flour and butter
smoother than clay.
Pale dough oozing
between our fingers
while the house filled
with blond bars rising.
Mother in her pink dress
with black ballerinas
circling its bottom
turned on the Victrola,
tucked her dress up into
pink nylon bloomer pants,
kicked her legs up in the
air and my sister and I
pranced thru the living
room, a bracelet around
her. She was our Pied
Piper and we were
the children of Hamlin,
circling her as close as the
dancers on her hem

Lyn Lifshin has written more than 120 books and edited four anthologies, most recently: The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian (Texas Review Press) and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me (Black Sparrow at Godine). Forthcoming books include A Girl Goes Into The Woods from New York Quarterly Books and For The Roses: Poems for Joni Mitchell. Her web site is

“Pauli’s at the End” by Allen Berry

On the last night of the world,
we dress in our finest.
She wears a little black dress,
I a dinner jacket, tuxedo shirt
open at the throat.

At Pauli’s on the square,
we toast life and love, and
what the impeccably dressed
waiter calls ‘the coming great

The consummate professional,
he declines to join us, his last customers
but laughs appreciatively when we tell him
add a substantial number of zeros to the tip.

Later, when the owner and his wife
invite us to the roof for Tiramisu
that explodes joyously on our tongues,
this same waiter says how fortunate
that it will be night on our side of the world,

“the show,” he says “will be spectacular!”

Down in the streets below,
the sirens have stopped,
there is a peaceful silence
broken gradually by a lone voice
singing Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind”

As the sky begins to glow,
the stars blink out one by one
the moon turns red and disappears
she kisses my neck, and whispers

I can’t help but go out laughing.

Allen Berry’s work has appeared in The American Muse Magazine, What Remembers Us, an anthology of Alabama Poets, and Birmingham Arts Journal. In 2001, he founded the Limestone Dust Poetry Festival in Huntsville Alabama, and served as festival president until 2007. He is currently enrolled in the PhD program at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi.

“Resigned to a Hungry Sonnet” by Karla Linn Merrifield

White pebbles assembled here.
They could easily be thumb bones
of sea turtle, Caretta caretta, or coned
teeth of bottle-nosed dolphins,
Tursiops truncatues, bycatch wasted.
My bare-toed probe proves
the white pebbles assembled
are Styrofoam, in nubs, more nubs,
unrecyclable, Homo sapiens sapiens
droppings in clusters at high tide
line. We might have known. Too bad.
All this fresh gulf air stirs

her native appetite. Isn’t the take-
away crab shack somewhere nearby?

Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has seven books to her credit, including Godwit: Poems of Canada, which received the 2009 Andrew Eiseman Writers Award for Poetry, and her recent chapbooks, The Urn and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica, both from Finishing Line Press. Forthcoming is her full-length collection Athabaskan Fractal and Other Poems of the Far North, from Salmon Poetry. She also co-edited Liberty’s Vigil, The Occupy Anthology: 99 Poets among the 99%, released in January 2012 from FootHills Publishing. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at Karla is a regular contributor to TCE.

“Still Life with Grapes” by Howie Good

for Barbara

Why wait? We’re like the ships of Ulysses, always being blown off course. Hurry and undress, before the blood dies in our hearts again.

In the last little bit of woods where I sometimes walk our dog, stepping over the beer cans and take-home Styrofoam containers, I found today a cluster of wild grapes shining darkly in the dimness. I picked one. It was good. Maybe you’re right, after all, about there being life on other planets.

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

“Night on Bleak Mountain” by Howie Good

The angle of the sun gives to shadows the sullen appearance of short, squat gunmen in overcoats and derbies. I wish now that I had walked the other way.

Every day 200,000 people (give or take) die. Corpses in the streets, corpses in doorways, corpses everywhere. If there’s a God, He must be a serial killer.

Hell used to be around here somewhere, covered in warning signs. Of course, that isn’t true, but it should be.

I’m partial to stories that begin in the middle: a person turning a familiar corner and never being seen again.

The priest probes Christ’s wounds with his little finger. Shoot me in the chest, Mussolini said, and they did. Everybody knows how the plot to kill the president ends – with all the angels of the universe gradually fading to indistinctness and a rising scream throughout the rest of the day.

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

“Three Smokers” by Thomas N. Dennis

all are losing their hair
hands loosely clasped
between their legs
(one almost hears a woman
saying Do something
with your hands, guys)
none of them show rings
but marriage isn’t far off
one will go crazy from alcohol
within a few years
two will continue on at work
driving into the city daily
for decades
and at last ah
and the final thinning
the last breath

Thomas N. Dennis lives and writes near Lovick, Alabama. This piece appears in his new book of songs, poems, and haibun, Wings Match Mask from Feritas Press. His website is His haibun “Chickenchasers” appeared is in the Steel Toe Review: Volume 1 Anthology.

Three Poems by Jennifer Hollie Bowles

Bendy Metal

The trailer doors are bendy
metal with locks used only to keep kin-
folk out when they’re tweaking
their shit; there’s no basement—
old toys are kept under the kitchen
sink. If you go too far inside,
you’ll smell moldy reflections
of everything you thought was
a secret, but if you sit long enough
on the 70’s blue floral velvet
couch, the dust on the candle-wax
drippings will melt, the smashed
alarm clock sleeping on the floor will
start to amuse you, the back of your skull
bones will open a bit, and when the candle-
light expands, you’ll see the blue of the flame,
just enough to feel a lack of pretension.

Incoming Tide

A wave of hope rose in a little girl
at a time she was pretending to be
who she really was
when she flashed a pocket
mirror at a little boy with charred chestnut
eyes, a boy who make-believed to be
all she thought he was…

I promised the girl would
hold the crest of that wave
swing in salty froth and bold want
until the swell reached
a curve of years
built by lessons of brine on bone.

Little Highs

The veteran Waffle-House waitress
had black wrinkles on her face,
black roots, and black eyes.

Hard as nails, her once perky
tits pointed south, but she drove
one of the customer’s new trucks
because she gave good head.

She said I was green and didn’t
understand, but I always admired
her for smoking pot with cops.

Jennifer Hollie Bowles is the author of three poetry chapbooks (one forthcoming), and her writing has been accepted for publication in many journals, including The New York Quarterly, New Millennium Writings, Southern Women’s Review, Smashcake, and Echo Ink Review. She also the editor-in-chief and founder of The Medulla Review and Medulla Publishing.