If I listen, holding space, arms as wide as my strength can hold against the lines, will you speak?

There are no sides, no camps, no aisles – we conjure them in black, to have walls to touch and positions to define.

We the people, born naked every color, before there are lines.

Needing, every one, the same.


© Tiffany Grantom 


Two Poems by Nicole Taylor

The House on a New Year’s Diet Battle


In the family, television room a battle waited. Age battled in every room, including coffee-table art books, philosophy, outdated software books. Photographers were standing nearby and debating, as if Ansel Adams and Edward Weston reincarnated.


Nine recent National Geographics, a few recent Readers Digests, Living the Country Life, Horse Life, Oregon Life, various university alumni and defense lawyer journals all waited. They waited along with the others but the war was upfront. They knew the house was living the life too well.


The latest award winning films, The Iron Man 2 and The A-Team revised were kneeling on bottom shelves, oak stumps.


Walls of stacked monitors and peripherals were built. British Malteasers sat on a tree shelf to disrupt the soldier’s path. An enemy mine or battlefield of chocolates.


In the pantry armies of canned chicken, albacore tuna, chili con carne, chards, spinaches, green beans and other vegetables and bottles or cans of vinegars and oils. Also teas, pots, coffees and coffee makers were waiting, brewing.


A turkey carcass sat refrigerated. So many migrated beers for the soldiers to relax. So many condiments maybe as useful salves.


Around the corners behind the head of the dining table stand liqueur bottles surrounding the stacked wine bottles, which surround the tall cabinet as a short evergreen borders. They encircle  the seasonal non-native oranges and the other non-native British chocolates hiding.


Classic rock debated with jazz. LP’s debated various cassettes, pre-recorded and pre-copied media. Music debated with newer media, the grand-children of the not easily portable albums. Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews, Phish and Pearl Jam quarreled. The classic jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Count Basey debated the moderns Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock.


The games behind a coat closet, building towers and buying monopolies and drawing a wall for their opponent or a bridge for themselves. Jenga jumped on the monopoly. Then Pictionary fought for the kings and queens of the card decks. An anonymous Viking built more walls and bridges and strong-armed Candy Land.


Wrapping paper and tinsel lay on or

near the tree and bodies and bullets.

 January 2010

©Nicole Taylor

Gelling in Family Christmas Preparations


Loneliness gels away from here,

away from this. Warmth gels here.

Familiarity gels here.


My nephew Erik is eating Chinese food

for breakfast, except for sliced and gelled sauce.


“You can’t have Chinese for breakfast,” says his father, my brother Chris. They debate over lunch food and lunch time. His son ignores his father.


Nathan says the Santa on top looks misplaced. A small cloth Santa sits atop the fir tree with needles among the blanket and water bucket. Also in the tree is a large gold colored smiling sun, and a blue and white swirled teardrop in memorial of dad. Chris sorts and checks individual ornament boxes in, from a larger decorated box. Mom tells Erik’s brother Nate that Santa came twice one year, once while visiting in California.”  Oh yeah,” says Nate who is almost 14. I wish mom remembered my childhood as well, or the childhood of any of her children.


Mom talks of new and old trendy Hallmark ornaments for her grandchildren. She wanted a 3 frog ornament or one Napoleon Dynamite ornament. She tells us Tom, my sister Eleanor’s 15 year old, didn’t like the Napoleon movie.


Mom asks my brother, How is the cat around the tree?. She is fine now. I hope she doesn’t drink the tree preservative. The cat is a 6 month old barn cat named Smokey. The cat is fine but the tree is crooked. It leans left.

Is it a political or gay tree? Not a straight tree or an informative newspaper here. I thumb through the classifieds, local and life sections.


Mom asks me, Did you see the one outside?.”   I glance at the wooden cabinet near the dining table. I admire the silver reindeer and other decorations.  I see an attractive reindeer family near the many tall old firs.


She finishes her coffee and toast. She offers me tea with milk and sugar. No coffee left in pot.


Hi, says my sister-in-law Irene prepares eggs and toast. We discuss a recent poetry reading event I attended at her law school.


Erik begs and later steals part of her toast while the cat rests on the young golden retriever.


Mom offers me a DVD,  money, and coffee and holiday fair coupons. I walk home and pet their neighbor’s cat. I get a ride halfway home from Erik and Chris, buying lights and supplies.

Loneliness gels away.

December 13, 2005

©Nicole Taylor

A poem by Ashley Cooke

American Nightmare


It scares you that a black life could finally matter

a grieving mother might get justice for her son

and it scares you that all of a sudden

the spotlight could shift from you

to a place in the dark that has not seen the light of day

since you decided whose lives were more important

deeming everyone with a darker skin tone a thug


The ones supposed to protect us are the ones that we fear

our best interest is now in dangerous hands

that seem to always pull the trigger first

as scattered thoughts of panic inside our minds

turn into brain matter

if we don’t react to your commands

and our fear better not resemble violence


If we were to turn the news off

does our mind turn on?

it seems to me maybe all this negativity

is a magnifying glass

focusing long and hard

trying to start a fire in our nervous system

so they can control us one by one


Every argument we have over this

is a pull on the rope in a twisted game of tug of war

caught on someone’s neck like a noose

we are slow to realize just how hard we are pulling

we remember how politics at the table used to be impolite

but now it’s survival to know if those

in your home would fight on your side


How many of us reach down

into our bloodlines and grab the hand

of a woman as she is struggling to get away

from a man she loved and trusted

we pull our hand back in disbelief

and realize that we are only here

because centuries ago there was a rape


We try to shut the kids up

as we put them down for growing up

and having opinions that differ from ours

they crawl on their knees to chase their inner light

you stomp out their flame

while it crosses paths with yours before it can grow

to a raging fire bright enough to make a change


The 50 stars gather on the boulevard

with a carpet laid out for the sacrifices they made

to bring us entertainment we couldn’t live without

and the waving vets on the curb

looking for a penny left in the gutter

as we thank them with a solute at the ball games

as those we pay tribute to linger outside in tents and shopping carts


We worship a God who seems to prey upon us

unless we join sides with fascists

as they puppeteer themselves to save us

creating words that fit their politics

our neighbors welcome us with pointed fingers

as we seem to burn already

in a hell upon earth

©Ashley Cooke

3 Poems by

On Going Back


Will I take a trip back

to my place of birth,

a country called Kenya.

Famed for its coffee fields

and year-long hot weather.


Will I leave the frosty winter

to journey near the equator

and let the sun seep into my skin,

the aroma of fresh beans

borrowing deep into my nostrils?


I always return to this place

In my thoughts when alone.

My home is harsh and icy now.

Leaves dry up and tumble down.

The skin on my hands turns flaky,

but I have spring to revive me.

© Khadija I Gure


Tug of War


A game that brought me enormous amusement

As a child, my friends and I played even in the mud

We pulled until we found victory or got dragged

Mud slipped between our bare toes


In my new school in the Midwest

Students wore shoes to play in gym class

Our shoes squeaked as we got dragged

We didn’t feel the sun or mud on our feet

© Khadija I Gure




I can’t be blind to what I eat

The meat I put in my body makes

me think about the live body of the

animal on my plate

It makes me think about the way

he or she trotted


I think about the sound my food

made on a daily basis

A sound that most likely spoke

to a certain emotional state

My plate is still warm and steaming

But my hunger has turned to a bitter

kind of cold


One that matches the blizzard outside

my window

I run my fingertips over the goose

bumps on my arms

© Khadija I Gure

Two Poems by Dean Fraser

Fractured And Broken

Is my fracking blues song…the creative process never ceases to astound me. Why is it a blues song? It grew that way…


Well I woke up this morning

Oh yeah, I woke up this morning

Been having this weird dream

At least I thought, can things be as they seem?

They wanna drill the Earth, fractured and broken

Are we supposed to believe a word these people spoken?


I got the fractured Earth blues

Oh yeah, the fractured Earth blues

Thinking what’s the use?

Seems someone’s gotta loose


Lookin’ around on the net

They’re doing it everywhere, what we get?

Earthquakes and tremors, flaming gas instead of water

Let’s tell ‘em what we think, it’s really time we oughta

They’re making their decisions profit before health

Changing geology forever and counting their wealth


I got the fractured Earth blues

Oh yeah, I got the fractured Earth Blues

Thinking what’s the use?

Seems someone’s gotta loose

How can we stop those insane actions?

Fracking apart the ground, chemical reactions

Make our voices heard loud and clear

Every time that new drilling rig starts to appear

Peaceful protest, reasoning don’t work with these guys

Harder their job, less profit they make, let’s open their eyes


I got the fractured Earth blues

Oh yeah, I got the fractured Earth Blues

Thinking what’s the use?

Seems someone’s gotta loose

© Dean Fraser


Embracing Nature, Only Natural




Urban environment

Disassociated from nature

Only nature encountered

A green blur

Seen from car or train windows

Rushing on by

Us humans have a deep

You could call it primeval

Existing right there in our DNA

Connection to nature

Our nature to be found

Within nature

Zombie-like existence

Living a half life

All too disconnected from nature

Truly wild areas


Somewhere to be scared of

Living 24/7 in completely artificial environments

Killing creativity

Deadening intuition

Then comes the need

Real nature is encountered

Take some of this artificial Comfort Zone out there as well…




And I see them

Those walking deep within ancient tranquil forest

Climbing high upon a mountain

Canoeing upon tranquil river

Headphones on

Plugged into music

Maybe I miss out here?

My music collection stays at home

Rather than joining me on walks

In nature

Parallels drawn in my mind

Painted in words

A concert

Favourite band or symphony

Wearing a motorbike crash helmet

Ensuring only half the experience

Coming away disappointed

What was all the fuss about?

Sensory underload




To exercise in nature

First choice every time

Walking or running

Tai chi or meditating

Purest natural setting

Far from only taking exercise

Oh, such more than ever taking exercise


On every level

My best ideas

Poetry or life

How often one and the same

Those ground-breaking ideas

Popped into my head

As they usually do

Way out in the wilderness

Or in the middle of deserted ancient Neolithic site

And very rarely in the middle of a busy city…

© Dean Fraser


Interview with Giorna Alzavola

Q: When did you start writing?

A:  At age four. It’s been a lifelong career.



Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favourite writers?

A:  J. R .R Tolkien, Thich Nhat Han and Ho Xuan Huong.


Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: At night! Everybody is asleep and the world is quiet enough to think straight

Q:  Why do you write?

A:  To raise awareness about transgender matters and autistic matters. as an autistic and transwomen I think anybody could say my writing is a form of self preservation.


Q: Do you have any favourite quotes from writers?

A: ‘’The road goes ever on and on’’ – J. R. R. Tolkien

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?

A: KEEP ON WRITING. If you ever feel discouraged about your lack of fame just note that if you keep on putting work out there your chances of being discovered grow!

Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?

A: I have three books that I am absolutely proud of now. ‘’My name is Giorna Alzavola’’ By Alien Buddha Press, Coleuscluster;  self published, and ‘’Transgirl on THC’’ Also self published. You can find all three of them on Amazon under Giorna Alzavola.

Interview with Terah Van Dusen

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I started writing stories when everybody else did…in about the 3rd grade. The difference was I really, really liked it. My family bought me a typewriter in the fifth grade, and I remember my first big story was fiction written from the perspective of a large, orange suitcase. This suitcase travelled to Hawaii, where my mother lived. Really I was trying to write memoir but writing from my perspective made me too vulnerable. Plus I thought I was “supposed” to write fiction. Luckily later I discovered memoir.

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favourite writers?

A: My biggest inspirations, in no particular order, are truth-tellers: Eminem (believe it or not), Tupac, Frank McCourt, Anne Frank, Lidia Yuknavitch, Jewel, Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Gilbert, and fiction-that-reads-like-memoir by Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander. I am sure I am forgetting some. I am blown-away daily by new gems and new reads.


Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: People are going to hate this but, whenever it strikes me. Yeah, I mean, I’m not a 9-5 writer. I find the best time to write actually, if you can manage, is right after a life-altering (large or small) event happens. Almost in-the-moment. After a fight. After a job interview. After a psychic reading. When you’re really feeling something. Also, if it works out, writing in the middle of the night is fantastic. So quiet. So people-less.

Q: Why do you write?

A: I believe I started writing because I needed to work through some shit. I guess I wasn’t as good at verbalizing things. You know, I feel like writing is polite. It’s like, people can choose whether or not to engage in your whining, your opinions, your fantasies. When you’re just talking to them they don’t have much a choice. As a writer, I can share my ideas with the world, and some will dig it and some will not. But I am not imposing my ideas on the world. Writing is an elegant art form. Just black letters on a white page. The impact is there, but it is silent. There’s something beautiful about that. Something powerful and timeless.

Q: Do you have any favourite quotes from writers?

A: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” -Ernest Hemmingway

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?

A: If the fire’s burning, fan it. Do not take that passion and interest for granted: it is a gift. The best way to become a writer is to go down to your office supply store, pick up two nice, large writing pamphlets, steal a pen from a bank, and just write whatever comes to mind. Literally, whatever comes to mind. Don’t think, just write. You are tapping into something which will guide you, which has a direction already. Also: the bigger the writing pad, the more you will write. I like drawing pads personally. So yeah, believe in yourself and write all the things.

Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?

A: Yep. I’ve got two books of poetry available on Amazon. The first one is Love, Blues, Balance: A Collection of Poetry. The second, more recent one, is New Moon: Transformative Poetry and Quotes for Soul Searchers and Independent Folk. I’ve begun a collection of essays largely inspired by the #metoo movement. My hope is to publish that one independently within the next few months.

On Hearing that the Trump Administration Is Delaying Putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill – Ethan Goffman

On Hearing that the Trump Administration Is Delaying Putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

As Martin Luther King, Jr. put it
Sometimes “wait” means “never.”

What do they fear?
that Harriet will bleed monthly over all those fresh, green bills
A bloody stain on our history?

To some, women are dirtier than money
dirtier than ripping
A bawling child from its terrified parents.

© Ethan Goffman

Ethan Goffman has poems in Mad Swirl, Madness Muse, and Setu.  He has published non-fiction as a staff writer for Mobility Lab and the SSPP Blog, and as a freelance writer for The Progressive, Buzzflash, the Baltimore Sun, Grist, EarthTalk, and other venues.  He is the author of Imagining Each Other: Blacks and Jews in Contemporary American Literature (SUNY Press, 2000).


Interview with John Dorsey

Q: When did you start writing?

A:I started writing truly awful fiction with my cousin when I was around 11 or 12, after a few years of butting my head against a wall I decided to give poetry a try and after a few more years of writing that badly, found that it was the perfect fit for me. I been publishing since I was in high school.

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favourite writers?

A: I read a lot of Ted Berrigan and Everette Maddox, Frank Stanford as well. I’m inspired by my friends, both living and dead, folks like Rebecca Schumejda, Mike James, Kell Robertson, R.A. Washington, Scott Wannberg, and D.R. Wagner.

Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: Mostly in the wee hours of the morning, between 3-7 a.m.

Q:  Why do you write?

A:  I’d go crazy otherwise.                     


Q: Do you have any favourite quotes from writers?

A: I’m sure I do, but I’d rather read their whole works than think about some silly quotes.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?

A: If you can see yourself doing anything else other than writing then do that, your life will be much easier.

Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?

A: Sure, go here,

Interview with Olta Totoni


Q: When did you start writing?

A: My first poem dates back in 1994. I wrote a poem for my lovely mother. I was ten years old. I thought that this would be the biggest surprise for my mother on 8 March (which is the Mother’s Day in Albania). I did not write anything for a long time and my inspiration came back in 2002 when I began writing small excerpts of my life without the intention of publishing anything. It was in 2008 that I published my first article and since then my writings were published in the Balkans and overseas.

Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favourite writers?

A: I have read many books and I have been introduced to many writers, their world perspective, their styles of writings and their experience. At first, I was fascinated by French Literature. Honore de Balzac, his way of describing the characters and settings, the messages he conveyed were real and down-to-earth. With the passing of the time, I was influenced by British and American writers. This influence came from my studies-British and American Studies. We were assigned to read one novel per week. I read Emily Dickinson and she influenced my writing of poems, without titles so that the readers can put their own titles in them. British literature is very special to me. I can mention here writers like Samuel Becket and Harold Pinter both “father and son” of the Theatre of the Absurd; Doris Lessing who is the voice of the British feminism. I also have translated excerpts from British literature and it has helped me in understanding their writings. Translation is also a way of rewriting the poems, short stories, literature in general etc. Recently, I have been acquainted to a new “love” and he is the prolific writer Anthony Burgess. Literature doesn’t have borders for me.

Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: Writing is a complex process that requires a lot of inspiration and concentration. Sometimes, the inspiration plays tricks on us, writers. There are periods in which you do not get a pen to write (even though I use a pencil). Sometimes, you keep on writing and writing and writing and none can stop you from doing this. Time and place is not important for me. I may be in a bus, by the sea, in a bar, at home, in the university, in the woods, at night, during the day. It depends on what inspires me. My imagination is infinite and I break the standard rules of writing.

Q:  Why do you write?

A:  Writing for me is an internal need. It is like the release of thoughts, ideas and feelings. It makes me feel better when I express my thoughts through writing. According to me, this is a way of communicating with others. You communicate through words and messages you want to convey. I believe in the power of words and I believe in the freedom of speech. I have never limited my thoughts. I write the way I think and that makes my writing genuine. I love the originality and purity of ideas. I write because that makes the readers reflect on their experiences, their lives and their perspectives. There is a triangle created between a writer-his/her writings and the reader. I write because the readers can get informed but not persuaded by my writings. They see with my eyes and they can see clearly.            


Q: Do you have any favourite quotes from writers?

A: Throughout my readings, I have kept notes on the quotations that seemed very meaningful to me. Sometimes, after a long time I read them and see if they give me the same sensation they gave me when I read them. My favourite quotes are from the American writer Carson McCullers. She has written them in the novel “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”:

“I am a stranger in a strange land.” 

“All we can do is go around telling the truth.”                                                                                   

“She stood in front of the mirror a long time, and finally decided she either looked like a sap or else she looked very beautiful. One or the other.”


Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?

A: I would say to them to stay always motivated and never stop writing. They should not be discouraged by others. They should read a lot in order to write a lot. A good writer should have their mind focused on reading other writers. Sharing the experience with friends and family can be of great help. I was lucky to share my writings with my mother who appreciated literature a lot.


Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?

A: Yes, of course. Recently, I have published the book “Diary of the Time”. It is a collection of articles published in magazines and newspapers. There are 29 articles and one interview (in English and Albanian). This book contains 14 articles dedicated to the British culture, literature and politics. There is an introduction that is dedicated to the future/aspiring writers and especially those that will be focused on British studies. It is a guide for new researchers that will go in depth of British Culture and academia.