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Michael Estabrook poetry

Internal Monologue

I see these bent misshapen old men
with stooped
shoulders hobbling
along on canes and walkers
and I get angry.
Really? That’s not fair.
All of them aren’t bent
because they’ve neglected
their health and they’re stupid.
Some have legitimate problems.
I don’t care.
I’m guessing you are angry because
you do not want to end up like them.
I don’t care. I hate them.

Howie Good prose poetry

A Loss of Faith Brings Vertigo

What kind of conclusions can you draw when you’re watching the sun go down? Or you’re watching the sea or the forest? They’re certainly things that keep me up late. I want to go totally nuts, shout “Fuck yeah!” But, of course, what happens? I begin to feel dizzy. There’s now a cookbook of everything Brad Pitt has eaten in a movie. The guy who runs the souvenir shop in the basement next to the bathrooms seems unimpressed. He pictures himself lying in the shade of beautiful trees. It’s a place I’d go as well if I just knew how to get there.

When Fake News Becomes Real

It’s important to test during the day whether or not you’re dreaming. You probably won’t look like the real you. Chances are you will be in somewhat of a panic. Check that the doors and windows of your house are locked. Start naming the things in the room. Is there a window where a painting is supposed to be? Remind yourself that you are not going crazy. Try to notice the cold, wet sensation. If you can’t after fifteen minutes, just sit or stand there. Signal to somebody to help you as best you can.

Andrea Janov poetry

Take ‘em All

Only one street light      sputters

almost illuminating the alley.
As I walk from Metro I hear
              Motorhead spitting through the speakers
                            and skateboard cracks against the pavement.

Black T-shirts with assorted
skate company and band logos
sit on their boards,
                     daring each other to do impossible tricks.

I tackle Dave. He slides
      over, making just
enough room on his board for
me to squeeze on and press against his damp body.

Matt is trying to kickflip over six boards
   The boys bet on his injuries:
             losing a tooth, needing stitches in his face
broken arm or wrist.                 

I watch Matt –      look to the ground
      then back        at the tower of interlocked boards

             Matt throws down his board
                 pushes off
                             wheels grind crushing pebbles
                                against the macadam as he
                                     rolls to the tower

The Freaks, Nerds, and Romantics: A Punk Rock Prom

Flashes bounce off
            spiked bracelets and studded belts
as we pose for pictures
in the alleyway behind Metro.

Our hair dyed to match
            our Salvation Army dresses –
taffeta frills and bows overtake
shoulders and obscure faces.
           Suspenders clipped on worn-out Dickies 
Fiend skulls show through
ripped button-down shirts
tattoos stick out
of shirt collars and spaghetti straps.

A souped-up Civic turns
        into the alley
                jerks to a stop –      Freaks!
     They shout from behind tinted windows.

                                    Eggs splatter
                         against the concrete
         and crack against bodies
      yolk oozes onto skin and satin.

We hurl stones –                        they throw
                       bounce                           the car in reverse             
                           off the windshield
       ping the hood
                   nick the paint.

John Grey poetry


The sun is out at last,

the lake surface is warming,
its shoreline towels off.

Flowers find aspiration
where once was all survival,
splay their petals
frank and bold.

I lie on the bank,
content to absorb,
no eyes
but a collection of sights,
no flesh,
but foam-board
tacked with invitations.

Bluebird in the distance,
rabbit in the near,
gauzed light
through furze and fern…
in a fresh-opened heart,
a moment applies
for permanent residence.

John D. Robinson poetry

John is the author of When You Hear The Bell, There’s Nowhere To Hide (Holy&Intoxicated Publications, 2016) and Cowboy Hats & Railways (Scars Publications, 2016). He lives in the UK.




I watched as this kid of
13 or 14 rolled slowly by
me on a bmx;
I looked on as he slowed,
looking all around as if
expecting someone as he
neared a charity shop;
I saw him move in close
to the outside display,
he put a boxed-toy
under an arm and then
cycled away quite
I walked into the shop
and told the old guy
inside what had just
happened and he silently
shook his head;
“If that kid had come in
here and said ’hey
mister I would really
like that toy but I
haven’t the money to
buy it but I may get some
pocket money next week
and I could give you some’
what would you have said?”
I asked the old fellow;
“I’d have said
‘just take it kid, we’re
a charity’”
he said smiling
“’just take it’”

John Sweet poetry

John Sweet is a believer in writing as catharsis and is an optimistic pessimist who is opposed to all organized religion and political parties. He also avoids zealots and social media whenever possible. His latest collections include A Nation of Assholes W/Guns (2015, Scars Publications) and Approximate Wilderness (2016, Flutter Press). All pertinent facts about his life are buried somewhere in his writing.

how the world always ends

bones on a snow-covered roof and you

dream of reasons
but never the right ones

you wake up to

the screams of crows

stranger knows your name and

that your father is dead

a rumor of suicide

a child’s body
pulled from the river

january now for most of your life and
all you want is to apologize

turns out hatred was
always the most important thing

what matters more than anything
about power is that
you will never have any

any vote you cast ends up being
a vote for war

there is never an end to the list of
people your government
tells you must die

all hope edged w/ frost

and not warm yet and still the
scars and still the ghosts

shadows of empty buildings laid out
across the snow and frozen mud and the
song of light is only in your mind

the women weep at the river’s edge

the baby is passed from one to the next

not war and never peace and
these is nothing worth dying for in this world
but it’s always been so easy finding
reasons to kill

eagle flies up to the sun

man pulls the trigger and
brings it back down

boy sleeps in his bed of flames
while his mother drives away

nothing to do but map out all of
this hatred and pain and
hope that your own children can
find their way home

Ward Abel poetry

These poems are excerpted from Ward’s new book, Little Town gods. Read a review of the book here.


Low Water

Outshoal slim
a black butterfly with
blue patches navigates
around our toiling
waning days under
ceiling fans, a world
non compos mentis
and in decline.

No use trying to convince
me against gathering
my own locusts
to combat the shade
crossing the Atlantic
from the left shoulder of Africa
every two dozen hours,
outshoal. Slow.

We hear October’s voice
though what she says
sounds scrambled in a star-
burst of clear blue dry
patches fall sky,
and it moves shallow
dragonfly ridge clear eye
and it moves.

Outshoal soul
dry rocks in a cloudburst
wild and scenic and under,
ground to nothing a powder
put in hot drinks
stirred combined ingested
and spat in a ritual
I’d thought we’d forgotten.

Meriwether County

The gray cotton three quarters above
is bolstered by pinkish lines that, way down,
meet the ground to the south of here
but coming this direction from Alvaton
and Greenville. There are words in the
burning bushes along 85, strong and low
and with authority; they speak from  rote
about boundaries and wrongs and truth
and things in hibernation. The Levites
cleared the way across 362 where churches
and dirt roads defy GPS.
Such is the me in it—scarred
to the point of smoothness, of negation.
Exactly unequal.  Perfect in opposition.
Blind in the vivid.


David Herrle reviews Ward Abel’s LITTLE TOWN gODS

Little-Town-gods-by-L.-Ward-Abel-Cover-1published by Folded Word, 2016
Order the book.

Compounded it with dust, whereto ‘tis kin. – Hamlet to Rosencrantz

OK. I’m just going to come out and say it: Ward Abel is to the Parker Posey of chapbooks. In other words, Abel is to the chapbook what Posey is to the indie film. I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that, but when I think it without thinking, it makes perfect sense. As much as I hate the term, Abel (like Parker) brings gravitas to whatever artistic work he’s involved in, and he’s one prolific fellow. As if his writing talent isn’t enough, this jerk also excels at musicianship and vocals in the band Abel, Rawls and Hayes (ABH)! His music is cousin to his poetic sensibility: both have a “down-home” patina over a hip sage brain.

What I marvel at about many chapbooks in general and Ward in particular is the power of brevity and the ability to do something much more difficult than saying too much: saying very little. The urge to say too much, which I’m cursed with, is often frustration with not being able to say enough about something (a feeling, a fear, love, an epiphany, sex) that’s ultimately language-evasive – quite simply beyond words. As I always say, only clichés can describe the indescribable, but those who refuse to cave in to clichés take a rougher, futile path, and their successful artistry lies mostly in their literary charm and innovation. Other authors, like Ward, describe the describable so uniquely and with such awe, that one wonders how much more unique and awesome the indescribable must be. (See? I just said too much. As usual.)

Little Town gods contains 15 poems, and almost each poem is no more than about 15 lines long, give or take a few lines. But by the end of the chap, one feels full, quenched with pure water rather than sugary, bloating soda. Again, this is the powerful product of talented literary brevity and economical composition. And, most important, the patience and coolness to avoid sweaty and blustery battles with the ineffable.

Some favorite lines and phrases:

“Going fast or leaving slow/gone is gone.”

“I apologize/for the language of idiots, but/never for the perfection of decay.”

“The red light on top/of the old folks’ high-rise/warns death to low flights…”

“This place/has always gone on/without me.”

“Where churches/and dirt roads defy GPS.”

“…walls still louder than the silence of brick walls still louder than the silence of brick…”

“Cold, windy/in the rearview I catch/a flash of old eyes./They reflect the journey./Because shoes never lie.”

“Enlightened, the pine shade makes the /priestly translate/with no words.”

“…the technology/of gods in whom all good things outlive/for others to exhume.”

To what revered literary stuff can such words be compared? Well, Joe Conrad, for one! Consider these few excerpts from his ever-quotable Heart of Darkness:

“[T]he silence of the land went home to one’s very heart – its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life.”

“I felt how big, how confoundedly big, was that thing that couldn’t talk, and perhaps was deaf as well.”

“The sea always is the same.”

“We live in the flicker…”

Ward isn’t a poet of today. He writes in a no-time where the present is already dust and the dust is alive with ancient presence. This lyrical and enviably understated but profound book is off the grid, overgrown with kudzu, loamy, Gautama-silent and patient, content – and amused – that it will be outlived and buried by a wordless wisdom and “the perfection of decay.”


Read two excerpts from the book here.

Mitchell Grabois poetry


I knew the alphabet
and little else
(math mystified me
science and business were out)
so I decided to be a writer

the most refined kind
a poet
where the magic of my sick unconscious
could be gainfully employed
and I wouldn’t have to collect books
or think about anything

My lines made love on the page
heterosexual lines
one a pretty redhead with lots of freckles
one a black-haired man with an ugly tattoo

The redhead liked to fall for dangerous men
The tattoo guy didn’t think about the future

The redhead sometimes drank too much
and acted provocatively toward other men
when they were in dive bars

Tattoo got pissed
held her hard
by the upper arm
dragged her outside into the
cool, misting night
and slapped her

She was no pushover
She slapped him back
He punched her
She fell to the gravel
and cursed him roundly

A guy from the bar came out
He wanted to fuck Redhead
He stabbed Tattoo

The lines on the page turned from
black to red
Blood soaked my hard-drive
my computer crashed
harder than a virus

It’s tough being a writer
A little writer’s block would do me good

Nina Elaine Wingard poetry

Come Sit with Me

Come sit with me in the garden of my days.
Reflect upon the seeds already sown.
Reaping time is coming,
Surely I must have known.

I cast the seeds of life,
Then at some unknown hour,
Returned for the harvest,
Without the tending of each tiny flower.

I now see the disorder of my own mind.
While looking down among the rocks and vines
I realize the smallest star-shaped weed reflects
God’s own universe sublime.

Come sit with me in the garden of my days.
Reflect upon the seeds already sown.
The harvest is now upon me.
Is it possible to change a garden already grown?

Nina Elaine Wingard is a retired special education teacher who has worked with autistic children. An avid sports woman who taught her son to hunt, she is a rabid fan of the University of South Carolina football. Presently working on a memoir of her traumatic childhood, this is her first published poem.