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poetry by Darren Demaree

Darren’s manuscript, Two Towns Over, has won Trio House Press’ Louise Bogan Award and will be published soon. Visit his site here.


 I wanted to show Emily
(in a way no one else could see)
that I could be disgusting

& cavalier at the same time,
that I could lower us in a way
that rooted our bodies

to the neglected levels
of human experience, to
the retention pond

of our desires.  She followed me
there (in a way no one else
could see) & she waited.

She squirmed.  She smiled.
I offered her the only portrait
I owned of us

& what it showed her
wasn’t pretty, wasn’t safe
& what it was caked in

we couldn’t bring back with us.
I don’t think we did anything
terrible to each other,

but we never went back there.
If you ever find that portrait of us,
know that it was much more

about the exploration than
the confirmation of our love.
I wish for nothing else.

poetry by g emil reutter

g emil reutter lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Visit his site.

In Costume

Millennials are in
overdrive as they
walk this hip
area of Chestnut
street just before
Halloween. There
are pirates, doms
and subs, angels
hot pants hookers
guys in drag
even a homeless
guy. Young and
drunk noise they
make is louder
than the traffic
they stop when
crossing the street.
Round after round
they buy and
all drink up.
As evening turns
to early morn
they make their
way home, stagger
and hold on
to each other
until they ascend
to their converted
factory lofts, the
party continues on
except for one
who staggers and
turns into an
alley, eyes blurry
belly full of
booze, he sits
on a grate
pulls up his
blanket and dreams
of what could
have been.

poetry by Diane Elayne Dees

Diane is a writer and psychotherapist who lives in Louisiana. She publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women’s professional tennis.


Pulling Brian

He mounts the sled and offers me the cables.
I take the handles, pull the slack, and fall
back while squatting low, then slowly rise.
The muscles in my legs and hips take over,
and suddenly, I’m pulling twice my weight.

My trainer’s a big man, the sled is heavy,
yet each time, it’s a rhythmic, fluid journey.
This comes as no surprise: I pulled a man
through years of broken vows and shattered nerves,
through crazy-making stories, gaslit lies,
sadistic plots, dismissal, and neglect.
I pulled him until part of me was dead.

I cannot see behind me. Now I’m forced
to trust the man I’m pulling to protect
me. I breathe into the pull and pray
that when I’ve gotten past the final line,
he will not let me crash into a wall.


Sled Summary

Hands against metal
Feet against turf
Legs against iron
Heart against weight
Mind against doubt
Breath against time
Woman against self


Learning Form

My trainer has insisted he be able,
at any time, while I propel the sled,
to drink tea off of my back—a sturdy table,
but I don’t think it could handle jam and bread.

David Alpaugh poetry

Double-title poems


My earliest memory—grasping that hard
black rock in the toe of my stocking after
the thrill of so many playthings. My Dad’s
poker-faced grin. Did you get everything?
Back in. Excited. What’s this? A lump of

Coal! Giver of toys reminding me, Dad said,
that I’d been “just a little bit” bad. Suddenly
I saw my self. Like that little girl with a curl
I could be horrid. So sang that lump of coal.
Unto me a Superego was born. Dad called it



I remember Ida saying she didn’t care for it—
when it meant the world to me. Youth’s go-to
ammo against confusion, alienation, suffering,
engagement, love. Voltaire in hand, put on a
smirky face—and slay all your dragons with

. Re-reading “To Autumn” (Ida long gone)
I’m autumnal now and ninety percent irony free.
Keats’ mellow fruitfulness… gathering swallows.
Ripeness to the core. Manna. But I always wash
it down with a jigger of Swift to give a finger to


Wendeline Wright poetry

“Surprise Endings”

in the summer
he was fine
still mobile, looking
well, pushing
through treatment

and when he failed
he failed fast,
we stood aside and murmured—
as if loud words
could kill him faster—

because his eyes
wouldn’t close, his
gaze full of terror
and locked
to the ceiling,
hands clawed

when he was still verbal
he moaned
“I didn’t think
it would end like this” and
I smiled and grabbed his
fading hands and said
“at 88 surrounded by
loved ones?
we should all be so lucky”

how could he
not have known

John Grey poetry


Years ago, I wrote a letter to a famous poet.
Not a fan letter exactly.
More like a kind of ingenuous interrogation.
Why did you say this? Why did you end it that way?
I never received a reply.

I figured that a famous poet
was not like a movie star or singer with a string of hits.
I was under no illusions as to where poetry stood in
the artistic/entertainment pecking order.
Back in high school, when the bell rang,
my classmates and I exited poetry class
like we were citizens of Tokyo being threatened by Godzilla.
It took me the leap of faith equivalent of the triple jump
and a young woman’s saintly green eyes
before I could actually pin my sails to poetry’s mast.
And even then, it was the usual dead white crew that appealed to me.
A famous living poet? Bing bing bing bing.
The oxymoron alarm just went off.

So I reckoned he’d be chuffed as the English say
to receive that missive from me
even if it wasn’t a gushing paean to his work.
Now that I think back on it,
he might have considered it impertinent.
But I did provide my age.If I was writing out of turn
then surely my limited years on earth excused me.

That was the last time I wrote to someone in the public eye.
It was like sticking a message in a bottle
and tossing it over the railing of a cruise ship.
Or tying it to the toes of a pigeon
Or sending a poem about my Pekinese to the Paris Review.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy certain poets
but they don’t need to hear that from me.
And apparently they don’t even want to hear it from me.

So what’s the point of all this exactly?
It’s that, these days, I feel only sympathy
for that great poet, now deceased.
But maybe that isn’t the point. And why should there be one?
God, how I hate being asked to explain myself
even when it’s me doing the asking.

Joan MacIntosh poetry


The homes

of Hidden Valley
look far-off
from the overpass
traffic streaming

Warm black roofs
button row maples
bent finger
of brown road
glide into view

A softer world
is seen
then lost

Slow road
not felt

Bel Harris poetry

Bel lives in Toronto.

Oh, Love

Do you know who I am?
It’s a loaded question.
Like, “Do I look fat in this dress?”
Only much darker; with more at stake.

It slithers out near the end.
When both of you know it’s time to throw in the towel.
Do you know who I am? Did you ever really love me?

It’s a wanted ad. One heartbroken lover seeking admission of guilt!
But, you haven’t got any guilt, so what to do, what to do.
If sentimental and deluded say, “Yes, I love you always.” 
If honest say, “No – no, I don’t know.”

But, wait. That’s not true.
There was love once.
Maybe. In the beginning. At first sight.
No, wait. That’s stupid. Unrealistic. Scratch that.

Somewhere between lust and Hell freezing over.
Somewhere right in the middle,
on the nights we stayed in and played Scrabble,
there was love,staring at each other across the slowly filling board.

We get misty-eyed at the thought
of love won and lost.
We see it on the big screen
and we think to ourselves,
How explosive! How dramatic!
We won’t end up like that.

Remember that vase?The one that shattered
on the floor?

It’s cruel to say those words
“Do you know me? Do you love me?”
and expect an answer back.


Gaby Bedetti poetry

Gaby is the American translator of  Henri Meschonnic’s work, a contributor to Lexington’s poetry blog (LexPoMo) and a teacher at Eastern Kentucky University.

One World

An Iranian striker surprises a Nigerian keeper
with a hug. At midfield, an Ivorian
massages a Croat’s cramp.
A chancellor hobnobs with a president.
Twenty-thousand Americans fly to Brazil
to cheer the beautiful game.

Spencer Smith poetry


He wakes with the uncomfortable feeling
that he is in the wrong house.
The color of wall paint is slightly off
in the lantern glow of morning light,
and the space next to him in bed
is empty, a large divot remaining in the pillow.

In the shower a needle of water darts past his teeth,
the taste different from what he recalls.
He dries off, puts underwear on backward, corrects it,
then scans the shirts hanging like beef
in the closet—they seem unfamiliar.
He slips one on and it is too loose, unsatisfactory.
He avoids the mirror, afraid of whom he might see.

In the kitchen his wife has an odd brand of coffee ready.
He parts his lips to thank her
but sees a mole on her cheek
that he does not remember. And her hair—
it seems to be styled like someone else he once knew.
He says her name, and it feels strange in his mouth,
so he does not complete the sentence.

Deciding he is no longer hungry,
he steps out into the musty garage,
stopping to watch dust motes swirl in a spray of light.
Standing by the workbench he tries to recall
why he is there.  He looks at his car—
there is a new scratch marring the door;
at least, it seems to be new.

He wanders outside and settles into the porch swing,
which feels like it is tilting the wrong way
as it glides under his angular hips.
Staring across the street, he is unsure
when the neighbor repainted his house.
And those flowers in the planter near the door—
did his wife just pot them this morning?

After a while she joins him on the swing,
her weight balancing it.
Her eyes seem puffy and there is a blush to her nose
as if she has been crying.
She says nothing, just reaches over,
places the cool dry skin of her hand on his,
and rests her warm cheek on his shoulder
in that familiar way.




The house refuses to open to us.
It clenches the fists of its doors
until we pry away the fingers
one by one with our key.
It breathes its musty displeasure on us
as we stand in its throat like tongue depressors,
the groaning ah of old floorboards beneath us.
We inspect the rib cage of its walls for cracks,
climb up its windpipe into the garret,
peer out the upper windows to see what it sees,
invade the colon of its basement.
There is resentment here. It does not know us.
We are foreign bodies, viruses,
transplanted organs it is trying to reject.
We glance at each other in silence and exit hastily.
It leans over us as we stand on the grass like vomitus.
We hurry to our car,
the gaze of the house making our backs itch,
trying not to look as we drive away.