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Friday, June 30, 2023


by Marion Evalee

Carrying a jumbo rainbow flag onto the Salem Common under the rainbow arch are Ken Elie, left and Ed Hurley, right of the group Boston Pride, who turned out to support the North Shore Pride group. Joe Brown photo via The Salem News, June 25, 2023

The great Arc-en-ciel
Is colorless,

Not on the wing.
A heart needs something,

Color needs light,
A flag needs the wind—

Whoever’s eternal
Rebounding breath

Has deadened with the night,
As it often does.

I keep walking
Over what was

The parade grounds
(What will be the Commons

By the time we celebrate
Our independence)

Like an old vet,
Though it’s getting dark.

Marion Evalee, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has appeared in The Amethyst Review, Willows Wept, Survivor Lit, The Boston Compass, Neologism, and Montage. A selection of her poetry is featured in the anthology 14 International Younger Poets (Art and Letters, 2021). She lives in Salem, Massachusetts.

Thursday, June 29, 2023


by Jack Phillips Lowe 

Chicago’s air quality: ‘We’re in the crosshairs.’ Wildfires and wind push region’s air to worst in the world, global pollution index shows. —Chicago Tribune, June 27, 2023. Photo: The Chicago skyline is blanketed in haze from Canadian wildfires seen from Solidarity Drive on June 27, 2023, as weather officials issued an air quality alert. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

They’ve counted you out… again.

They say you’re gone, for good this time. 

They say we must get used to 

speaking of you in the past tense. 

Is there nothing left for you,

dear town, but to be forgotten?

And perhaps forgiven, too, for all

that you were and weren’t?

Will there be any hope of legacy— 

the slim chance of being exhumed 

from the ashes of time, an ancient outpost 

to be ooo-ed and ahh-ed over by scavengers,

born centuries after you breathed your last? 

With no one left to tell your stories, 

will they fumble through your relics— 

children trying to piece together 

a picture puzzle that was made 

by grandparents they never knew?

I steal down your empty streets,

duck in and out of your deserted doorways, 

a ghost too naive to know that it’s passed.

I hunt faces in darkened windows. 

I chase traces of voices, fragments of songs

bouncing down bare alleys— 

I won’t believe that I’m alone. 

Chicago, I won’t quit you.

Go ahead, tax me—

take every one of my few dimes.

When my pockets are empty, 

I’ll present to you the lint from them,

gift-wrapped like the sweetest box of candy 

you ever tasted on St. Valentine’s Day.

Bon appetit, Chicago!

I refuse to fall out of love with you. 

Chicago, you can’t scare me off. 

I know all your tricks—

fires, floods, blizzards, 

heatwaves, riots, wrecking balls, 

lies, corruption, graft,

crappy sports teams

and blood, blood, blood.

Don’t forget: you made me.

I’m a monster in your own image, 

inoculated against all your horrors.

Chicago, I’m staying right here. 

Someone much smarter than I once said 

that a town is an idea, as much as a place. 

As long as there is a group of people, 

however small, to hold that idea in their hearts— 

come hell or high water—

then, that town will survive.

Look around you, my home. 

I’m not alone. Those faces I sought

peek out from all corners and shadows.

So many know and value you—

more than you do, yourself.

You’ve tried suicide before. 

But it never works out. 

There’s just too much life in you—

life that won’t be denied.

Stop, dear town, this self-flagellation.

Our faith in you lives on. 

We won’t let you destroy yourself.

Chicago, we’re standing fast.

Jack Phillips Lowe is a lifelong resident of the Chicago area. His poems and short stories have appeared in Clutch 2023, Cajun Mutt Press, and Red Fez Magazine among other outlets. His most recent book, Flashbulb Danger: Selected Poems 1988-2018 (Middle Island Press), is available from 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


by Jennifer Hernandez

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Death of worker "ingested" into plane engine at San Antonio airport deemed suicide. 
CBS News, June 26, 2023

He leaps
into the mouth
of a monster.
Sea serpent, dragon,
Rainbow Snake, whale.
In the stories—
swallowed whole—
they build fires,
light lamps,
slice livers
or hearts.
They save
whole villages,
even livestock
& porcupines.
Sometimes, they’re vomited out,
emerge pale & bald. In every
version of the tale, they escape.
This monster refused to let go.

Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she teaches immigrant youth and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Recent publications include Mom Egg Review, Steam Ticket, and Halfway Down the Stairs. She sees the effects of the current mental health crisis among young people in the middle school where she works and hopes that arts education can play a small role in helping mitigate the crisis.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


by Gordon Gilbert

        My eyes not closed
to all the colors of the rainbow;
         this world is not just black and white
to men telling women how to live their lives;
         they can’t even manage their own
to the rich getting richer;
the rest of us, poorer
to the racism everywhere;
how to some, others’ lives don’t matter
to the worship of the gun;
some even willing to sacrifice our children
to those who have the one, true religion;
they want to impose it on us all
to those who profit from these endless wars;
         they are never the ones who fight them
    My eyes have been opened
    I see the world more clearly
as it is
                             as it never was
            and so,
              I say it proudly,
       I’m WOKE !

Gordon Gilbert is a writer of poetry and prose residing in NYC's west village. Actively involved in NYC spoken word events since 2008, he has also hosted programs celebrating the beat writers, several African American poets and other poets as well,  including William Carlos Williams. During the pandemic, Gordon found solace and inspiration in long walks along the Hudson River. 

Monday, June 26, 2023


by Devon Balwit

Martin Keep/Agence France-Presse—Getty Images via The New York Times

Individualized animal abuse is a crime; systematic animal abuse is a business model. —Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, June 10, 2023

What we can’t bear to look at, we tolerate hidden:
the living penned with the dead, vivisection,
infants torn from their mothers. Already, I imagine
you, reader, lamenting this poem’s wanton
cruelty. Or protesting that you don’t eat red
meat or chicken flesh and so aren’t implicated .
Unfortunately, milk and cheese also equal
death. I wish it weren’t so, for I was partial
to Gouda—and eggs—but the free range birds
we imagine exist mostly in our heads. Farmyards
would span entire states were the hens to peck
at will. Back we retreat, then, into our dark
ages, some fated to suffer in a preordained hierarchy.
We’d squirm if this logic were applied to our species:
Women, brown people, the poor—What
can one do? They just happened to draw the short
straw. Surely, mere appetite can be retrained
once we admit animals know pleasure and pain.

Devon Balwit walks in all weather. In her most recent collection Spirit Spout [Nixes Mate Books, 2023] she romps through Melville’s Moby Dick

Sunday, June 25, 2023



Greenville (SC) News, June 22, 2023

by Gilbert Allen

It's not a threat. “This is just what I've heard.”

The “good old boys” don't like this month's display.

One phones the staff—there are “whispers of war.”

He's not a threat. “This is just what I've heard.”

Just rainbow ribbons in the entryway

and a multicolored READ WITH PRIDE.

It's not a threat. “This is just what I've heard.”

The “good old boys” don't like this month's display.

Gilbert Allen has lived in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, since 1977. His most recent books are Believing in Two Bodies and The Beasts of Belladonna. For more information about him and his work, check out the interview here.

Saturday, June 24, 2023


by Sarwa Azeez

We peered through bullet holes
to see our future 
on the other side 
fled home—
dodging fires 
and gunshots.

We held on 
to tree limbs that 
despite being weighed low
by snow and wind
guided us back 
to safety.

We wandered astray
along the haunting 
mountain trails
Our fast-beating hearts 
by the soldiers’ ghost cries 
but our gazes raised
beyond those sky-piercing summits.

Our roaming bodies
stumbled on a vast blue tomb—
The waves thundered
like wrathful gods 
who were lifting us 
through clouds
and mist. 

Sarwa Azeez is a Kurdish poet and translator. She is a Fulbright alumni, got her second masters in Creative Writing from Nebraska-Lincoln University. Her debut poetry pamphlet collection Remote was published in the UK by 4Word in 2019. Her work has appeared in many publications such as Parentheses Journal, Writing for A Woman's Voice, Notre Dame Literary, Wingless Dreamer and elsewhere. 

Friday, June 23, 2023


by Joan Leotta


One might think that in an area 

Used to the force of hurricanes, 

Uncontrolled forces of wind and water

That wreak havoc on the land 

Might better understand

The paradox of their mission.

Setting a “controlled burn”

That’s how it started, they say.

To burn four hundred wooded acres 

to lessen fire’s damage.

“They” ignited the flames, watched, and left, 

not realizing until the next day

embers had reignited, blazed hot

and traveled on the wind

in the night.

Now, as I write, 

a week later,

almost sixteen thousand acres of 

woodland are now ash. Countless

animals, birds have lost homes,

people not as yet,

but the flames are still unextinguished,

blaze still only partly contained.

Red suns at dawn and dusk are beautiful 

but terrifying at the same time.

Wind, fire, water, earth—

four elements have already shown themselves

to be beyond our ability to reign them in.

We poets have known since forever, 

that these are forces beyond our control.

The only true controlled burn is anger.

Forgiveness extinguishes those flames.

We wait now for heaven’s forgiving

soaking rain to quench these flames

to stop this fire’s spread.

Joan Leotta is an author and Story Performer.

Thursday, June 22, 2023


by Louisa Schnaithmann

I never meant to be a statistic.
I only wanted my numbers, 
to multiply them faster than
a calculator, to visit parts 
of the world people only 
dream about. I was just a man.
I’m not sure why the doctors
were so fascinated by me.
Every day, I was only myself.
What’s so special about that?
I guess they found something there.
Not sure what. My hometown
loved me. Wish I could say the
same about everyone else who
grew up like I did. Maybe it’s 
easier to not understand
than to try. Not sure.
I was always better with numbers.

Louisa Schnaithmann is a bisexual autistic woman whose poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. Her work can be found in Anti-Heroin Chic, The Broadkill Review, Gargoyle, and other journals. She is the consulting editor for ONE ART: a journal of poetry and lives in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023


by Susan Cossette

Challenger Deep, Hades Zone—

There are better maps of the moon and Mars.


Humans like superlatives—

Highest, lowest, longest.



We sit cross legged, barefoot—

watching for golden pocketwatches,

chipped china and worn shoes, 

footprints sunk in silent ocean sand.

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and MothThe New Verse News, ONE ARTAs it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin ChicThe Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press), Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press), and After the Equinox.


by Chad Parenteau

Tomb as 
self made
as the men
gone deep
in depths
to witness
mass of 
So close
can graze 
imagined ear
where new
titans whisper
never again
and survey
land ripe 
for conquer,
tell child 
bereft of 
all irony
this will 
be yours.

Chad Parenteau hosts Boston's long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His latest collection is The Collapsed Bookshelf. His poetry has appeared in journals such as Résonancee, Molecule, Ibbetson Street, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Off The Coast, The Skinny Poetry JournalNixes Mate Review, and the anthology Reimagine America from Vagabond Books. He serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine.


by Fred Demien

A study that evaluated medical records from 156 [St. Louis] child victims of firearms found that most did not know who shot them or why. —St. Louis Public Radio, May 9, 2023. Graphic by Susannah Lohr.

Americans under the age of eighteen are eight times more likely to be killed in St. Louis than in the rest of the country...[As of] March, eight St. Louis children have already been killed in 2021. —St. Louis Riverfront Times, March 10, 2021 


·      In 2021, twenty-three children were killed in gunfire in the St. Louis metropolitan area. 

·      In 2022, twenty-six children were killed in gunfire in the St. Louis metropolitan area. 

·      As of 13 June 2023, ten children have been killed in gunfire in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

There is no known original name, only what it became.  
The city that drips with the Shadow’s pitch.  
It wasn’t planned— 
the architects didn’t plot it in their original drawings;  
the sewer district had no recourse for its removal;  
the contractor did not budget it in her original bid.  
Only the asphalt worker knew, driving his roller,  
slow in the stick and heat of summer. But no one listened  
when he said he saw it swallow a child whole.  
Except that child’s mother, and another, another,  
as child after child disappeared. 
News reached the mayor too late  
after his election to campaign, so he ignored it.  
But one day the Shadow towered at the city’s gateway  
and opened like a mouth, with thousands of cries  
of young girls and boys screaming out.  
The mayor declared it a threat, but  
the money was already allotted, he said.  
They never fully calculated the damage, but a generation  
of future voters—gone. Everyone else evacuated.  
Even mothers left, their sons and daughters all 
drawn down the unending gullet of the Shadow. 
Still the mayor stays in the swallowed city,  
sitting at his darkened desk, writing 
—in what he thinks is ink— 
the songs he hears carried in children’s voices  
seeping from the walls. 
 He sends what he can to their mothers. 

Fred Demien is a queer, itinerant minister. In 2016, her work was longlisted for the Lascaux Prize in Poetry. Her writing will be published by The Forge Literary Magazine in July of 2023. An admirer of trees, bees, and human beings, she is currently writing and building community in the greater St. Louis area.