Sharp Objects by Dan Holt

Sharp Objects

It was so dry
we had to go to the park
to score weed
You could always
find some there
but the bag would be light
or full of stems
and seeds

When we rolled
up a joint
in Chris’s garage
there was some
white powder
in amongst the bud
For a second
we thought
maybe we shouldn’t
smoke this

We smoked
one joint between
five of us
and got so high
Jim cut his wrist
with a sickle

At the emergency room
we did that thing
you see in movies
where you just drop
someone at the curb
and drive away

The next thing
we heard
was that Jim’s parents
had put him
in rehab
and called

Chris’s parents
to forbid him
from seeing their son

We were more careful
with sharp objects
when we smoked
the rest of the bag

Dan Holt is blues singer/songwriter/recording artist, poet and fiction author from a suburb of
Cleveland, Ohio. He has produced 11 albums of original music along with various singles and
eps. After many years away from the poetry scene, Dan returned to writing poetry in 2021 and
has had his work published widely in the online and small print press. His first book, “Blank
Canvas On Bloody Pavement,” was published in March 2021 by Alien Buddha Press and can be
purchased from

Kaleidoscope by Richard D. Houff


There were several pool halls
in the town, and our tin badges
kept a close vigil on them

Other than 8 ball or snooker
nothing much ever happened;
the occasional wise guy might
show up and flex his muscles,
but they didn’t last nor return

And I never heard crimes being
planned or drug deals coming down

And there were no girls playing
at the tables; the pool halls were
boring as the day before yesterday,
or the day after tomorrow
in our town’s monotony

I wanted something faraway
and out of touch

I wanted to see the world
and move to the edge

To put a dent in what was
or could be held close

Years later while reading Hesse’s Siddhartha,
the title character crosses the river
to begin his journey

My own enlightenment came by way of car
and ended with this cryptic children’s ditty
ingrained in my head:

“The bear went over the mountain…
to see what he could see… the other side
of the mountain… is all that he could see. “

And that pretty much says it all.



Richard D. Houff was the former editor of Heeltap Magazine and Pariah Press Books, from 1986
until 2010. His poetry and prose have appeared in: Aldebaran, Brooklyn Review, Conduit,
Louisiana Review, Midwest Quarterly, North American Review, Rattle, Sutter Town Review, and
many other fine magazines. His most recent books of poetry are The Wonderful Farm and Other
Gone Poems from Flutter Press, and Dancing on Rooftops, from Homage Press.

The Bottle in the Cosmic Ocean by Tony Brewer

The Bottle in the Cosmic Ocean

In our vast language of signs
hoary old saws lost in translation
rattle around deep edges of the heliosphere

naked waving hello/goodbye
commentary on wildflowers
snatches of Bach and Chuck Berry

Miraculously it’s intentionless
birdsong the needle drops on first
scratching over bloviating human hi’s
from stern heads of state

Emissaries operating at odd frequencies
the birds make sense and the listener
focused on the far-flung message
buried deep on side 2

We adapted to this
whether we survived or not
is what they say between sweetness
sung so hard it sounds
like a worried come-on
to ears that parse the further warning

They are coming
working playing laughing crying
millennia from now still talking
telling everything about themselves
in long waves of endless celestial static

Will the intelligence we hope to reach
already know our deepest fears?
The loneliness of a planet
teeming with life
we barely understand.
Will they tolerate us politely?
Or will they turn out the light
and hope we go another way?

TONY BREWER is a poet, live sound effects artist, and event producer. He has
been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. His books include: The Great
American Scapegoat, Little Glove in a Big Hand, Hot Type Cold Read,
Homunculus, and The History of Projectiles. More at

Post Card from a Ghost Town Along Nowhere by Tim Heerdink


Post Card from a Ghost Town Along Nowhere

If this reaches you before I discover an exit
& recommence my journey toward home
after a pause for imperative recalibration,
this starling will have proven its use after all.

Thomas Helm spoke with certain truth
when he said during his own odyssey,
“Perhaps this world was made for birds
But not for men.”

This place far north held beauty once
before nature reclaimed its territory.

With assumption, I’d throw a dart & say
after its greedy population got what it wanted
from mining sacred grounds for almighty dollar,
they abandoned it like they often do
when hormones got them horned up,
but Mother Nature had nothing left to give.

Tim Heerdink is the author of Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau WellThe Human Remains, Red Flag and Other PoemsRazed MonumentsChecking Tickets on OumaumuaSailing the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s CallGhost MapA Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, and short stories, The Tithing of Man and HEA-VEN2. His poems appear in various journals and anthologies. He is the President of Midwest Writers Guild of Evansville, Indiana.

The Language of Flowers by Aleathia Drehmer

The Language Of Flowers

In the blue light of a computer screen
I’d pretended to be asleep
while you held my foot, crying.

There were unspoken atrocities
bleeding through the layers
of your pajamas,

secrets you didn’t have the courage
to share, knowing in the end, I’d be
just as fickle as the rest.

Those nights in the dark, with me falling
between the makeshift mattresses,
I thought your touches were the language
                                                                                      of flowers.

I remembered all of their parts
disarticulated in your mouth,
whispered into my spine

with a wholeness that neither
of us could remember enough
to make it tangible.

And then at the airport,
I told you I loved you
as I walked away, jets drowning

out the words. You paused,
as if knowing, back stiffened
and shoulders rolled down
                                                              as I flew away.

Aleathia Drehmer was once the editor of Durable Goods and In Between Altered States, but now spends most of her time writing novels. She has recently published poems in Spillwords, Impspired Magazine, and Open Skies Quarterly. Aleathia has upcoming work in Piker Press, M 58 Poetry, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Cajun Mutt Press.

The Myth of Screaming by C.L. Liedekev

The Myth of Screaming

They say my father
could have gone pro,
or played college ball,
maybe Lasalle, West Chester,
and that he would never miss
as he swooped into the lane,
the Apollo of the family,
his jet black anemone
arm hair waving
in the summer pick-up games,
at the courts chipped
and broken next to the apartments,
his voice a grunting echo,
hands palm the ball
over the horizon of the swings,
jungle gym, sandbox
where once the black kid dove
headfirst, face covered in
hornet stings and panic, then
an ambulance blanket.
He came out of the same woods
where one night a truck
filled with hollering men
and rifles shot the trees
up for a mythical deer or spirit bear.
Each time my father
dribbles the ball between
legs, through mountains of bodies,
the story then peaks
with my mother’s voice,
more of her teeth, incisor gates
shut, portcullis trap,
oil pouring through the gaps,
my sister in tow,
short-haired, blonde,
pixie-Ariel, riding the fear,
a vulture gliding on the updraft,
watching as the volcano
splits the concrete of the court,
chip of gray blacktop pours
into a red crevice, Brucie
and Bryan’s dad Wally tumbles
first, Rory’s dad next, beer bottles
in long rows, soldiers holding
the innocent by-standers at bay,
as they fall, each one pushing
the other down in, the tinkle
of glass becomes a tiny scream,
as anger burns the myth
into the air, as my father
shoots his last shot, his body
in flight, arms aloft, rolled out
as the wing bones extended
into his aim. The ball, a sun
trying to set one last time.

C.L. Liedekev is a writer/propagandist who lives in Conshohocken, PA with his real name, wife,
and children. He attended most of his life in the Southern part of New Jersey. His work has been
published in such places as Humana Obscura, Red Fez, Open Skies Quarterly, River Heron
Review, and Vita Brevis. His real goal is to make the great Hoboken poet/exterminator Jack
Wiler proud. So far, so

Later Never Comes by Catfish McDaris

Later Never Comes

In the storms of life, the
sky falls apart and lights
the hidden sun, an orange
pomegranate on the indigo

Shadow horizon, leaves
whisper to each other
in a secret language, do they
love the trees that caress and
cradle them through life

Time on earth is a Dancer’s
hunt for shelter, you are
my roof, fire, and blanket

Hearts are jigsaw puzzles
with missing pieces, can
you hear the teardrops fall
in a torrid cloudburst.



Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. His 30 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Catfish is from Albuquerque and Milwaukee.

Schoolyard Rules by Brian Rihlmann

Schoolyard Rules

I think it was fifth grade
when the school bully
found a wallet on the ground 
during recess and decided
he’d keep it

but one of the teachers 
discovered what was going on
and took it from him 
saying, No…no…
this doesn’t belong to you
we have to return it
to its rightful owner 

he didn’t like that
not one bit
he grabbed at the wallet
as she held it aloft
and a crowd gathered 
surrounding her

the next thing I remember was her
screaming as she was shoved
into a fence over and over 
by this mob 
of pint-sized savages

while I watched
from an outer circle

and later
we were pulled out of class
one by one 
into the hallway
and interrogated
about what we’d seen
and asked who was involved 
in this terrible thing

I can’t remember 
what I said…
but I already knew
well enough

to say I hadn’t really 
what I had

or else

Brian Rihlmann lives in Reno, Nevada. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Chiron Review, The Main Street Rag, The American Journal Of Poetry, and New York Quarterly. He has authored three collections of poetry, most recently “A Screaming Place,” (2021) by Cajun Mutt Press. 

Baton Met by Ivars Balkits

Baton Met

The baton passes from left to right hand, anxious to be passed. With the anguish of the tether on the
precipice, I am thinking the full length of it: the damp, fluffed-out flame.

Still bag-like and sift, the local light of personality waits on the sofa for a soda. The stones tear at my
blue-striped job-hunting jacket, which I remove and throw into a floppy disk drive

The abominable snowmen still don’t know what to do about the lightning. Heads open at the top –
flakes updraft, in the bill-thick half-plops cracking; the neck of the river holds it together, glugs.

How like the moment the quake goes around the equator in no time – its old weight rubbing against the


A sponge for insight isn’t carbon-quick enough to counter this coolly calculated warmed-up simile. It
grows filaments and forms stone dressing.

Between the collapsed cake of root energies to the tangled halo, its secrets are lodged protectively in
the kidney. The leaves split off from the slice of pizza. The star writhes in the stiffening cheese.

Saddled with moving-day clutter, a stick figure crawls out from the toroid pool. The guitar-hole flings its
garlands of ball-pointed bed springs about. An anatomical torso counters with cash.

Such perseverance and devotion, with face hints in the thicket, that steam up from twigs forming a
shawl-cloud – except where the bottom pool has formed a wheel over the torus (always a torus).



Ivars Balkits has retired as a writing tutor and  course facilitator at Ohio University whose prose and poetry have been published on various literary journal web sites. He is a recipient of two Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, for poetry in 1999 and creative nonfiction in 2014.