A Kick Me Sign by Brian Rihlmann


i walked away
from you
from them
from this city
that was bad, bad
and found another you
another them
another dimly lit bar 
to drink in
and practice seduction 

and when the brief blossom
of expectation withered
and became an ugly thing
a common thing
like the same faces
every morning
and dodging the same potholes
on the drive to work

i walked away again
and again…

yet all along 
if i’d been listening 
i would have heard 
a rustling sound
close behind
like the flapping of a “kick me” sign
taped between my shoulder blades
where i couldn’t reach

and no one told me
or they did
but again
i wasn’t listening
or maybe i just couldn’t hear
above the deafening promises of “over there”
that raged like whitewater 
between my ears


Brian Rihlmann was born in NJ, and currently lives in Reno, NV. He writes mostly semi autobiographical, confessional free verse. Folk poetry…for folks. He has been published in Constellate Magazine, Poppy Road Review, Cajun Mutt Press, The Rye Whiskey Review and has an upcoming piece in The American Journal Of Poetry.



Flowers of the Field by Bruce McRae


Flowers of the Field

They named the flowers purple wreath and prickly Moses.
They called the flowers sneezeweed, three birds flying, Spanish shawl.
Like Old Testament gods, the people placed names upon
plants and flowers encountered in land and time.
Red cape tulip. Snowberry. Mothers of thousands.
They said rose of heaven and yellow adder’s tongue.                            
By any other name they planted estates of delight,
pollen wafting aloft, seed fluff adrift, the bee decidedly obliged.


There are flowers also in hell, wrote Williams.
Temple bells. Sweet sultan. Stars of the veldt in the devil’s garden.
The dancing doll orchid. Spider lily. The Egyptian star cluster.
Colours punctuating dark green, summer infused with the sexually brazen.
Sun drops. Shell flowers. The Himalayan blue poppy.
Flowers to be milked. To delight the eye. There to be eaten.


Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician currently residing on Salt Spring Island BC, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with over 1,400 poems published internationally in magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. His books are ‘The So-Called Sonnets (Silenced Press); ‘An Unbecoming Fit Of Frenzy; (Cawing Crow Press) and ‘Like As If” (Pski’s Porch), Hearsay (The Poet’s Haven).

Two Poems by Kevin Ridgeway


One Paycheck Wonder

the training video
said to turn away from
the meat slicer, smile
and show the customer
the thickness of each cut
for their approval, which
I did, but not only had
I forgotten to wash my 
hands and put on gloves,
but the not even remotely
slice of Italian prosciutto
was a crude hunk of fat
pulsating in my hand,
when my housewife customer
mad dogged me and said
I had to be fucking kidding
her before she asked for
the manager, who sent
me on a break where
I went out back and hid 
inside of a walk-in freezer,
sweat frozen in icicle
formations on my nose 
as my nervous half boner
shrunk back down to calm
flaccidity in my fifteen
minute reprieve from a
part-time minimum wage
hell where the customer
was always right, even 
when they were wrong,
so I lied through a shit eating
grin when I told an old geezer
who’d given me a hard time to
have a “nice day” before I
punched out of my final shift
as one of the only vegetarian
non-union deli front counter
boys in Price Chopper history
when I tossed my hair net on
top of a trash can of rejected
meat that spoiled my appetite
although I didn’t have a
paycheck to buy food.


Two Guys Talking Gibberish to Themselves

They pace up and down
opposing sides of the street
talking gibberish out loud
to themselves, in danger
of being popped by the fuzz
until me and another vagabond
move the two men to face
each other as though they
are having a conversation,
and then somebody sells them
a bag of methamphetamine
which surrounds them with a
crowd of invisible demons
who tear them apart.


Kevin Ridgeway is the author of Too Young to Know (Stubborn Mule Press). Recent work has appeared in Slipstream, Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Main Street Rag, Gasconade Review and The American Journal of Poetry, among others. He lives and writes in Long Beach, CA.

Two Poems by J.D. Casey IV

The Immeasurable Power of Zero

a stolen story
of fame

doesn’t matter
what you had
what you have
to look at


the sound
of it all
a memory

doesn’t matter 

it’s what 
you do with the power
that counts

maybe that’s why he is what he is
maybe that’s who…

back catalog
blah blah
if the song isn’t right
your name
is emanoN

The Corner of Murder and Broadway

glad to see
the lights

can take it from you

at a price

out in the cold

no one blames
not sober enough
to hold a


James D. Casey IV is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, founder and editor-in-chief of Cajun Mutt Press, and extensively published by small press venues and literary magazines internationally. He is a southern poet with roots in Louisiana & Mississippi, currently residing in Illinois with his Beautiful Muse, their retarded dog, and two black cats.

The Peel by Alisa Velaj

The Peel

You say you disdain
romantic affairs, my
At a time that the cuckoo’s
Frightens you so much at
winter nights,
Making you hide your
From her echoes.

There are pincers that look
like Stymphalian Birds.
That song, my darling,
Catches you, holds you
Like midnight dreams,
When misdoubts beat
Against the walls of
As if they were bats.

Void of all romanticism,
they beat and beat
Against your sparrow-like

Translated into English by Ukë Zenel Buçpapaj

Alisa Velaj was born in 1982 in Albania. She has been shortlisted for the Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in 2014. Her works have appeared in more than ninety print and online international journals and magazines. Her poetry collection, With No Sweat At All, will be published by Cervana Barva Press in 2019.

Two Poems by J.D. Nelson.

a feather on the river

pinto express
the instant dinner

I made some last night
for a dollar

armored boars
roam thick woods

tranquil lamb cocoa

the breakfast world of tomorrow

space light shining on the rocks

tree gree’
the lack of galack

the sun lessened
by the phone co.

& now I’m stuck
with pyramid hair

to self-speckle
eating green glass

J. D. Nelson (b. 1971) experiments with words and sound in his subterranean laboratory. Visit www.MadVerse.com for more information and links to his published work. Nelson lives in Colorado.

Two Poems by Luis Cuauhtémoc Berriozábal

Meat of the Problem 

If you get to the meat
of the problem, it is
jealousy and it is
hate for the way things are.

The repetition of
words are ingrained on the
young to mold a hateful
person equipped to harm.

Raise them on guns and hate,
you push them enough and
they will shoot. The meat is
rotten. It’s decaying. 

Unleashed on the world, hate
will divide and devour.
There will be nothing left
when hate implodes worldwide.

Pick Up the Phone 

When I pick up the phone
I do not know what is
in store for me. It could
be God on the other
line absolving me of
all my sins or sending me
straight to Hell. It could be
a worried mother, an
angry father, giving
me a piece of their mind,
finding an attentive
ear to listen to their
stories, to bring them hope.
Sometimes it just a
family member asking
for directions to court.
I could be on the phone
for a few seconds or
an hour. I have been thanked
for my assistance and
I have been cursed for doing
my job. Sometimes I cannot
wait until 5pm when I
walk out of my office
and away from the phone.

Luis was born in Mexico, lives in California, and works in the mental health field in Los Angeles. His latest chapbook, Make the Light Mine, was published by Kendra Steiner Editions. His poems have appeared in Blue Collar Review, Mad Swirl, Unlikely Stories, and Yellow Mama Magazine. 

Two Poems by Heath Brougher

Awkward Ambling  

Everywhere you go
there you are
and everywhere you look
there’s something to see—
an ample ambler is able
to encroach any and every anthill
within a 72-mile radius
and approach with an(t)y attitudes
by appropriate avalanche ability
found in the ankle muscle which anchors
the animation of return to aluminium asphalt
as far as the eye is able to see
algae addled with algebraic overload
overlooks the overhead oven blast from one mile away
anyway knee deep kneading needles
to angry tunes of a tangled aimless guitar amplifier
aftermath in the afterward onward around
slices of rare noon summer moon.

The Ruined Man 

Bring back to life the nerves of euphoria,
youthful days feeling of rich vitality, of being fully alive.
Anything but this makeshift dull wreckage—
this long pale cast over the days.      
I know I will never regrasp those new and barely thawed endorphins of youth. 
The beautybrain is gone, jaded by the blight of time.      
The long pale cast over the days,       
Days not of vitality but instead days built of the essence of solid ruin.

Heath Brougher is the poetry editor of Into the Void, winner of the 2017 and 2018 Saboteur Awards for Best Magazine. He is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of Net Nominee as well as winner of the 2018 Poet of the Year Award from Taj Mahal Review.


A Bridge Closed To Traffic by Juanita Rey

The bridge is closed to traffic
but not to suicides.

It spans the pain and the surrender,
the rusty cantilever and the river below.

It is as silent as the moonlight
that pales its trusses,

as indifferent as the lapping waters
and the hearts of some people.

It doesn’t have to tell me
how things never go as planned,

that for some, a splash,
is how they’ll be remembered

I sit on the bank, afraid
of high dark places,

of inner voices asking,
“What are you still doing here?”

The bridge is closed to traffic
but not to insinuations.

Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country five
years. Her work has been published in Pennsylvania English, Harbinger
Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Porter Gulch Review.

2 Poems by Howie Good

Stray Cat Strut

My gas masks hang on the back of the door. Breathing in the burning flesh isn’t a good idea. This is someone’s paradise. It’s just not mine. The sunlight is harsh and constant. I prefer it to be dim. There’s a terrible view of acres of parking lot. I’ve never seen him, but I hear a stray cat meowing if the windows are open. Hopefully he’ll tell me something I don’t already know. I’ve written some thoughts on the wall. They’ve travelled with me since college. I suppose night would be the last thing. Sometimes I forget it’s even there.


I’m in no rush. It’s my life, contained in a room. The stairs that lead up to it are steep and painted blue. I sit in front of an open window all day and set things on fire and play with dangerous chemicals. And if, as sometimes happens, it suddenly feels like the universe is expanding far too fast, I’ll lie on the floor and stare at the rusty pipes on the ceiling or the clouds out the window, my view a small thing but my own. I got lucky. I can see the sky, and it’s full of light.

Howie Good is the author of The Titanic Sails at Dawn from Alien Buddha Press and What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press.