“A Dancer Named (Hurricane) Katrina” by Kenny Fame

she danced by herself late one night
as if she moved to       her own     beat
un du la ting techniques    so tight
she danced by herself late one night
powerful movements    who    could fight?
Katrina’s reign / Naw lins’ retreats
she danced by herself late one night
as   if she    m o v e d  to      her   own      beat

Kenny Fame, aka K*Fame, was born and raised in New Jersey and currently is an English Major attending CUNY Medgar Evers College in NYC. He was recently a graduate of Cave Canem’s 2011 Poetry Coversations with Bakar Wilson writing workshop. K*Fame is also the winner of the Tenth Annual Black Writers Conference Poetry Writing Award. He has performed his work at CUNY Medgar Evers College, Daddy’s Basement, Abigails Café & Wine Bar, La Pregunta Arts Cafe, Nuyorican Café, Cave Canem, and Poetry Super Highway live on the radio. Some of his work appeared in Steel Toe Review # 7

“Fate Forecast” by Changming Yuan

– Believe it or not, the ancient Chinese 5-Agent Principle accounts for us all.

1 Metal (born in a year ending in 0 or 1)
-helps water but hinders wood; helped by earth but hindered by fire
he used to be totally dull-colored
because he came from the earth’s inside
now he has become a super-conductor
for cold words, hot pictures and light itself
	all being transmitted through his throat

2 Water (born in a year ending in 2 or 3)
-helps wood but hinders fire; helped by metal but hindered by earth
with her transparent tenderness
coded with colorless violence
she is always ready to support
or sink the powerful boat
		sailing south

3 Wood (born in a year ending 4 or 5)
-helps fire but hinders earth; helped by water but hindered by metal
rings in rings have been opened or broken
like echoes that roll from home to home
each containing fragments of green
trying to tell their tales
	      from the forest’s depths

4 Fire (born in a year ending 6 or 7)
-helps earth but hinders metal; helped by wood but hindered by water
your soft power bursting from your ribcage
as enthusiastic as a phoenix is supposed to be
when you fly your lipless kisses
you reach out your hearts
		until they are all broken

5 Earth (born in a year ending in 8 or 9)
-helps metal but hinders water; helped by fire but hindered by wood
i think not; therefore, I am not
what I am, but I have a color
the skin my heart wears inside out
tattooed intricately
	with footprints of history

Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman and four-time Pushcart nominee, grew up in rural China and published several monographs before moving to North America. Currently Yuan teaches in Vancouver and has had poetry appearing in over 430 literary publications across 18 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine, Poetry Kanto, and Poetry Salzburg.

“from pillar to post” by Johnny Coley

For Tomas

...the softer deeper brushstrokes of the
       delicate evergreen. A dog
barking my name.
This world wants
that world. But,

what a world lacks –
sounds ungrammatical –
a world is complete.

If I’m not
part of a world,
but somehow intruded into it or onto it,

or produced from it then separated,
it may be then that it lacks
what I need. But what is missing?

What was missing when I saw
beyond the foggy glass doors, that morning,
the delicate evergreen.

From the fog, thick grey and faint winter
thick yellow
school bus coming this way,
up the long hill by the golf course.

It seems now that for so long you were
Filling the sky with your bright warm
A very close body, as Mars

From far away Seems to be embracing
Venus -
Then gone.

From pillar to post –
you – him - your colors:
skin, hair, eyes –
blown away in movement.
Cold wind.

Johnny Coley was born in 1950 in Alexander City, Alabama. He works at the Birmingham Public Library part-time. His published titles, from Kudzu Press, Birmingham, Alabama are Good Luck (1975), No (1976), and Peasant Attitudes towards Art (1984). For many years he has improvised spoken language in performance with Davey Williams and others.

“Off the Highway West of Birmingham” by Tobi Cogswell

Shelby once thought that Frontage Road
was the longest two-lane in the state,
now she knows it’s a stepping-off
place for truck stops and smoke breaks,
coffee breaks, pee breaks,
her ass frozen on metal seats
so shiny she can see her reflection
between her legs which is all there
is in these huts with no mirrors
and water so cold, the Arctic
would be a summer vacation; a reflection
just like she was looking at all the beers
twinkling through a glass case
at the Circle K, they taunt her while she thinks
it’s 5 o’clock somewhere and why the hell
wouldn’t a Rolling Rock between her knees
be just as satisfying as the worn out, stale java,
steaming her glasses, making her wonder
just how long it would take to drive anywhere
that the coffee didn’t peel her insides,
and what about that handsome
red-shirted, mustached, delicious-looking
man who doesn’t have a ring and doesn’t
have a friend, who’s looking at the
small bottles of milk, a roll of Tums
in one hand, a pack of Kools in the other –
smoke breaks, coffee breaks, pee breaks
and man breaks, this Frontage Road, all
the adventures just waiting to be grabbed,
north to south and back, just like
Shelby and her new-found man.

Tobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee. Publication credits include Illya’s Honey, REAL, Red River Review, Inkspill (UK), Iodine Poetry Journal, The Smoking Poet, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Blinking Cursor (UK), Untitled Country Review, and Hawai’i Pacific Review among others, and are forthcoming in, Paper Nautilus, North Chicago Review, The Linnet’s Wings (Ireland), StepAway (UK), Ballard Street Poetry Journal, Compass Rose, Front Porch Review, Alligator Stew (UK) and Pale House – Letters to Los Angeles. Her latest chapbook is Surface Effects in Winter Wind, (Kindred Spirit Press). She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.sprreview.com).

“Night Logic (with Pain” by Corey Mesler

I have the final migraine,

the one they give you
right before the blackout.
At 2 a.m. it spiked
like a fizgig behind my eyes.
I was blinded, even
to dream. Instead I took the
opportunity to fret
about everything, my daughter,
my son, my text, and the
way they want you to pay and
pay in this provisional world.
And this morning the final
migraine speaks to me the
way Jesus spoke to the doubters,
as if I were a child, as if I
had learned nothing,
nothing except pain and how it
quiets you, until you slink
away into the bushes to mate.
I mate there with the devil’s tail.
I wait there for the silvery ending.

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), 2 full length poetry collections, Some Identity Problems (2008), and Before the Great Troubling (2011), and 3 books of short stories, Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009), Notes toward the Story and Other Stories (2011), and I’ll Give You Something to Cry About (2011). 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 “Coronet Blue.” With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores. Two of his poems were published in STR #5. He can be found at www.coreymesler.com.

“New Shoes: Outside a Refugee Camp in Somalia” by Len Kuntz

Toward sunset
The sticks we have made our home
Break apart
Blow apart
Separate like frail stems
The roof no longer there
The wind working against us again
Life against us
Life is good my father said
Always remember what Father said
I touch sister’s ribs
I hold brother’s hand
In a moment
In a month
In another time
We will all eat
Drink the day down
And dance
Wearing our favorite new shoes

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington state. His work appears widely in print and online at such places as Elimae, Cricket Online Review, Mudluscious, and Juked. Every few days he shares his thoughts about writing and life at lenkuntz.blogspot.com

Three Poems by Karla Linn Merrifield

In Refugium Near a Forgotten Coast

Eventide slides
lip of river	closes over
raccoon paths	hoofprints
left in gray sands
upstream it shoulders
sinuous miles	shoves aside
rushes   reeds	salts marshes
stirs broth
plankton-laden   larva-heavy

delicious silty stew of rudimentary
life	so I thank diatoms
not singing vespers
barnacles   tunicates
mute	   hermit crab
tossed	     his sinistral
lightning whelk	gone
with the inflow to
mudflats six miles from the gulf
no lonely word chanted
quiet settles
on the Perdido Rover
only one way
to hear their voices
read starlight reflected
in brown refuge waters
just before moonrise
long before Venus
the world goes slack
Earth’s deepest breath you take


“The context of everything is everything else.”
—Wendell Berry

Along with millions of disbelievers,
I let the Moon prove my undoing.
In a case of mistaken identity,
I perceived her as a sliver
in thinning mist slipping
into salt marshes, disappearing
in Perdido’s pink light,
but it was the whole of her there.
Full she somersaulted through
the Universe demystified
like a bleached sand dollar
in a shop window in Lillian
a few sluggish miles downstream.
In an act of pure silver lunacy,
she saw in the Echinarchnius parma
on display her former self.
When Cybele splashed into the Gulf,
no Aesop, no apostle, no poet lived
to explain Nature’s direct reprisal
for the great neglect of lunar myths.
Everyone on the Forgotten Coast forgot.
Defying gravity, Earth’s sole satellite
hit home. She was my apocalypse.

River Sutra

Breath of Earth made visible,
just perceptible with patience
for slow sweep of an Alabama river

a mile upstream from the estuary,
in mist lifting with the sun,
its exhalation paced 

by cloud-cottoned moon,
all the better if approaching
full, perfect, on the Perdido.

Here I could lead you
to numerous brackish shores,
seat you on a folding canvas chair

in fine, gray sand at the ebb,
have you remain
for a Buddhist’s meditative day.  

Mullet may jump,
kingfishers chatter, longleaf pines
bend wind with their silky needles,

limbs pliant in soughing prayer.
Sit, witness the measured inhalation
that brings a few tannic inches 

of holy water up over your ankles,
a baptism of this proper hour,
as the great pulse inexorably pulls

out to the Gulf of Mexico. Wait.
	It will return, will dry your feet again
	for another deeply breathing tide.

Award-winning poet, National Park Artist-in-Residence, and assistant editor and book reviewer at The Centrifugal Eye, Karla Linn Merrifield has had work published in dozens of journals and 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, and The Ice Decides: Poems of Antarctica from Finishing Line. You can read more about her and sample her poems and photographs at http://karlalinn.blogspot.com.