Three Poems by Rob Plath

the ogre’s feast 

my father 
often spent 
entire mornings 
preparing tripe 
soaking it 
boiling it 
trimming it 
then placing 
the strips of 
cow stomach 
in dark red gravy
& i feel like parts 
of my guts 
were cooked 
in that steel pot too 
strips of my insides 
ripped out 
w/ every curse 
w/ every swing 
w/ every fist
thru the wall 
w/ every door 
knocked off 
its hinges,
& drowned in 
a bloody sauce 
& if that wasn’t 
satisfying enough 
then that pair 
of terrible jaws 
tore them apart 
& washed them down 
w/ a jug of wine 
declaring life good

© Rob Plath

social studies & almost everything else  

in school 
i’d fill in 
scantron exam 
in the shape 
of a rollercoaster 
never even 
to answer 
the questions 
that were 
based on 
those terribly 
inane days 

© Rob Plath







© Rob Plath

A Prose Poem by Zach Keali’i Murphy

Before My Very Brown Eyes


When I was a teenager, I got jade-colored contact lenses in an attempt to look more beautiful.


I always despised my brown eyes. I thought they were deeply unspectacular. Dull. Dark. Boring. Growing up, I never heard anyone say “Wow, look at those pretty brown eyes.” They aren’t the color of a vibrant sky or a vivid field of grass. They aren’t one of the colors that show up in a bright rainbow. They aren’t the color of the eyes of Hollywood stars that are usually on the front cover of magazines. 


But the jade-colored contact lenses never felt right with my soul. The brown shone through the umbrella of haze. I wore the jade-colored contact lenses for exactly three days, and then decided to trade them in for the clear contact lenses. As I placed the clear ones on, I stared into the mirror at my eyes and saw them in a new, spectacular light.


My brown eyes are the color of the earthy, Hawaiian soil of my birth land. The soil that yields vegetation and nourishment and life and wonder. My brown eyes are the colors of the tropical tree roots and the tropical tree branches that provide shelter and habitats to many magnificent creatures. My brown eyes are the color of the delicious chocolate that makes your taste buds smile. My brown eyes are the color of the highly-coveted coffee beans that make the world go ‘round.


Now, I see more clearer. Now, I am more beautiful. Now, I love my very brown eyes.

© Zach Keali’i Murphy

One Poem by Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

Dear Citizen

Dear citizen,

you drank white wine for lunch,

while sneezing. Congratulations

on superfluous snot sentences, while

Cheetos make America hate again,


you took a monster sized dump, too,

congratulations, such significance

to souls separated at the borders,

children of abuse. light slams

against walls Mexico won’t pay for.


Dear citizen,

you liked a post from Congressman X or Y,

 inequality while you drove your BMW,

 sneered at sobbing mamas in Dodge Stratuses.

 so much effort to like, but to get out 

to feel, to fight,

 save that for tomorrows perpetually procrastinated.


and you posted about the sandwiches,

 underwear you wore,

lace lavender, nonetheless

how you smelled of sweat,

while blood-red MAGA caps rose into the sky,


dear citizen,

take off the underwear,

stop drinking the wine,

write about the bitterness, the calluses,

souls waiting for scapegoat time,

but you drank white wine,


©Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri

3 Poems by Tina Carey

A day in the life of

It bites me like a hungry snake

Asking,” what can I take from you today?”

Your sanity?

Your drive?

Your will to survive?


As soon as my feet hit the floor

I’m begging my demon for no



“I can’t handle it,” I say

It’s okay; you’re going to take it



Today I do not fight, so I go

back to bed, I’d rather lie dead



I cover my face, so you can’t see

it doesn’t matter because you’re within



“One day I will get rid of you, I say

but not today.


© Tina Carey




            It’s a powerful feeling and indeed freeing reaching

a deep inside your soul to find self-love.


You will leave many behind.

You will start to decline sharing your space with

people who don’t share the same state of mind.


Reaching for a higher love is never worthless

in fact;

It should be your purpose.

even if you’re the only one that takes notice.


The moment your realize you’re enough nothing

else matters.

You will be ready for new chapters and even new



© Tina Carey



Take me to this place you say is breezeless,

Where the shadows stand still

and the brightness is only at the tips of our

toes, and the darkness smells like rainbows.


Take me to this place you say the waves crinkle

and never splash

where you become ageless

never knowing how much time has passed.


Take me to this place you say people fall in love

without saying a word.

where the sunshine is vibrantly heard.


Take me tho this place you and I will only know

where mindfulness has no plateau.


Take me

Take me

Forever there


© Tina Carey


3 Poems by Brian Rihlmann



This is the upscale Starbucks

at the base of the mountain, and

they’re filtering in now, dressed in the 

latest ski fashions, eating breakfast 

and sipping mocha lattes.  


The conversations are a bit different here, 

than the one by my job.  There’s no 

construction guys bitching about working 

Saturday, about frozen fingertips and toes,

or a single mom telling a friend how she’ll  

probably have to quit coming here,

and definitely get on food stamps now, 

after her landlord raised her rent 40 percent 

in a jump—if she still can, that is…

if food stamps are still a thing.


Instead, I get to overhear a guy telling 

a friend how they’re eating at home 

more now, because they were spending 

like three grand a month at restaurants, 

and the other responds how he’s bailing 

his girlfriend out of bankruptcy, again,

but “I finally get resentful, having to

write all these checks, you know?”


I’ll just bet you do.

©Brian Rihlmann



even in the so-called best of times

there exist pockets of blight 

here’s one now, beside my local supermarket—

two vacant storefronts with darkened windows


but between them, a beacon—

a payday loan store

glowing bright


a cashier at the counter

smiles as a man shuffles in

his baseball cap pulled low


her smile seems genuine 

she’s young, and I’ll bet she’s new

I’ll bet the boss man fed her a line—

how they provide a valuable service

giving loans to those with poor credit


“we don’t break bones like loan sharks”

he said, with a wink and a grin


though a broken bone would heal

long before this poor bastard

will ever finish paying off these gangsters


they’ll chase him for years

with fistfuls of paperwork

more deadly than a Louisville slugger

but nice and legal


he stands at the window

staring down at the counter

as he hands the cashier his testicles 

through a slot in the bulletproof glass 

and she smiles, again 
©Brian Rihlmann





I hear him from behind the shelves

and I swear

the old bastard

would wither and blow away

unless he was trying to recruit someone

to his side


he tells the new kid

about a homeless guy

at the supermarket near his house

about his overfilled grocery cart

how he just walks around

stands there with his cardboard sign


totally useless he says, laughing


can’t they do something about it?

maybe move ‘em out east….

what’s that place?

sand mountain, yeah…



I guess out there

they’d have no dumpsters

to eat from



do they get food stamps?

they probably sell ‘em for drugs

they oughta drug test ‘em


and the kid says, yeah…

maybe send them to drug treatment

if they test positive


if they test positive, shoot em

says the old bastard



I leave the area, then


I roam the aisles of the warehouse 

pondering the varieties of madness

and circumstance

privilege and free will…


I contemplate the widening cracks

we fall through—

are shoved through

when we’re not quite fat enough


Three Poems by Tracee A. Clapper

Twitter D, Twitter Dumb

orange man with small hands
fills heads empty as air
with hourly birdsong.

© Tracee A. Clapper



Patriarchal Issues

Filled with rage
but smiling wide
I want to scream
but keep it inside.

Alone in my room,
I let the dam burst
rock my screaming body,
moan and groan
’til I have no breath left.

The world is twisting
in on itself –
an orange man
in a white house
rules my country,

an old man
who used to beat me,
mock me
and laugh to see
my red-faced teardrops
rules my schedule,

a young man
I birthed into life
is moving to college.

© Tracee A. Clapper



In Defense of Love Poems

Darkness sings a cloaked melody,
churched southern smiles speak
in rhythm.

Clouds block full moon,
eyes search skies for holes
in black blankets of stilled air.

Outside, humid lungs
drown in smog of hostility–
death comes to visit.

Steepled building invites
a hungry, stalking body
in to pray or prey.

Pale man joins several
shades of brown skinned

Embalmed in venom,
shivering boy on a hot afternoon
wraps fingers around a trigger, pulls.

Bullets explode out
over wooden church pews
fatally pierce nine marks.

Dab blood with handkerchiefs
of poetry, write compassion to ink out hate,
sing broken minds together.

© Tracee A. Clapper

Three poems by Anais Osipova


Mom always said,

“Don’t ever give them the satisfaction of seeing you cry”

I swore I’d take that to the grave 

And the first time you saw me cry I felt so ashamed

But I don’t want a heart of stone 


©Anais Osipova



I drove for hours just to fall asleep in your bed 

I haven’t slept in days, and insomnia has riddled me into a ghost

But I drove, and I kept driving

Because this is my sleepy-eyed homecoming


Hindsight may be twenty twenty, but mistakes in the moment weigh double 

Six more months and I’ll be home for good 

But I keep telling myself six more months every day

And every day it’s six more 

Until then I’ll keep driving just so I can fall asleep in your bed

Because for this past year I’ve been dragging this corpse around

But this ghost will finally have her sleepy-eyed homecoming


©Anais Osipova



All she wanted was to dance

But with being a single mother

All she could do was rock her baby to sleep in the wee hours of the morning

And pretend she was swaying in the arms of a lover during the twilight


©Anais Osipova

3 Poems by Janette Schafer

A Venezuelan-American’s Guilt

            after “Survivor’s Guilt” by Nick Stanovick


A tugboat—

overcrowded, ravaged by waves

moans in travail, the timber

bent until its burden

of refugees is scattered—


Seabirds circle, await a feast,

bloated bodies of the misspent drowned,

their old suitcases, backpacks, and clothes

strewn like buoys.


© Janette Schafer




Venezuela is a ruined womb.

4 million have discharged through her lining

in clots and tissue of aborted potential.

Those who love her fear she will bleed out

from the hand grenade lodged in her belly.


© Janette Schafer



A shooting in Caracas

Not even beauty queens are safe

from bullets.  What were those

last, wild thoughts of survival

and pleading as lead entered

the soft, pliable tissue of flesh,

scattered the features of her face

onto the cracked pavement

as their child slept in the back

of the family car?


Was she instead relieved, resigned—

diving from existence to oblivion

with eyes opened, arms extended.


When he turned his weapon inward,

was this too a respite, a way to say

I will not suffer.

I will no longer cause my wife to suffer.

My daughter will not suffer.

Their baby sleeps,

and their baby sleeps,

even as their blood pools

on the surface of the pavement


their baby sleeps.


© Janette Schafer

One poem by Husain Abdulhay

Clogged Sandglass

morn, noontide ‘n’ nighttime
dry land’s denizens and benthos
disport,  distress, and dismay
menfolk of chore born of early bird
sanguine at dayspring depart to lustrous lakes
on their backs sway small straw baskets
lopsided laden with cupful of berley
for lakers belike to lick the luring viveres
where drowsy ambuscading alligators
able-bodied predestined wunderkinder
lolling benighted by the umbriferous lakeside
settled into proper place for a fortuitous fine time
beckoned betimes by unbidden sizzle of baits
thereupon tiddly trochilus spring-clean their behemoth maws
as if ordained for congenial courtiers of cringing concierge
and anglers make for the shore ill-starred empty-handed
afflicted with mistimed misadventure mayhap
trudge up steeps skipping sun sideways on
and seek out ointment to mend their meniscus before dark


© Husain Abdulhay

One poem by Margery Parsons

Song for Oscar and Valeria

River river

took the baby

drank in her beauty

brown eyes hopeful smile sweet curls

the river swallowed whole

a beautiful loving little girl

river river

took her father

currents of cruelty and crazy

took them both

wrapped around their bodies

dragged them down strangled

their last breaths

river river

waves of lies and barbarity

covered them where they lay

face down on the shore among weeds

her arm around his shoulder

no not rapists not drug dealers not murderers

a little girl and her father

fighting for their lives for a future

river river

rivers of blood rise around us

babies in cages bodies in deserts corpses in floods

fear denial indifference acquiescence

drag our morals in the mud

history is a witness

to where that will lead

river river

carry the call

for a new generation of fighters

with  anger with love with defiance and science

to fight for a better world

for all humanity for the billions of us

and for Oscar and Valeria

in remembrance.


©Margery Parsons